Therefore hear now this, you that are given to pleasures, that dwell carelessly, that say in your heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I am, and none else beside me . . .—The boasts of Babylon are purposely embodied by the prophet in praises that recall Jehovah’s assertion of His own eternity. She practically deified herself. So a like boast is put into the mouth of Nineveh in Zephaniah 2:15, and was repeated almost verbally by the poets of Rome: Terrarum dea gentiumque Roma, cui par est nihil, et nihil secundum (Martial).
That art given to pleasures - Devoted to dissipation, and to the effeminate pleasures which luxury engenders (see the notes at Isaiah 47:1). Curtius, in his History of Babylon as it was in the times of Alexander (v. 5. 36), Herodotus (i. 198), and Strabo Georg. xvi.), have given a description of it, all representing it as corrupt, licentious, and dissipated in the extreme. Curtius, in the passage quoted on Isaiah 47:1, says, among other things, that no city was more corrupt in its morals; nowhere were there so many excitements to licentious and guilty pleasures.
That dwellest carelessly - In vain security; without any consciousness of danger, and without alarm (compare Zephaniah 2:15).
I am, and none else besides me - The language of pride. She regarded herself as the principal city of the world, and all others as unworthy to be named in comparison with her (compare the note at Isaiah 45:6). Language remarkably similar to this occurs in Martial's description of Rome (xii. 8):
Terrarum dea gentiumque, Roma,
Cui par est nihil, et nihil secundum -
Rome, goddess of the earth and of nations, to whom nothing is equal, nothing second.'
I shall not sit as a widow - On the word 'sit,' see the note at Isaiah 47:1. The sense is, that she would never be lonely, sad, and afflicted, like a wife deprived of her husband, and a mother of her children. The figure is changed from Isaiah 47:1, where she is represented as a virgin; but the same idea is presented under another form (compare the note at Isaiah 23:4).
I am … none … beside me—(Isa 47:10). Language of arrogance in man's mouth; fitting for God alone (Isa 45:6). See Isa 5:8, latter part.
widow … loss of children—A state, represented as a female, when it has fallen is called a widow, because its king is no more; and childless, because it has no inhabitants; they having been carried off as captives (Isa 23:4; 54:1, 4, 5; Re 18:7, 8).I am; I am independent, and self-sufficient, and unchangeable, as that phrase implies, which therefore is appropriated to God, Isaiah 41:4 43:10, and elsewhere. The prophet doth not here use the very phrase which the Babylonians used, but expresseth their sense in a Scripture phrase.
None else beside me; which is not either subject to me, or far inferior to me in power and glory; so that in comparison of me it may be said not to be, because it disappears like stars at the presence of the sun.
I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children; I shall never want either a king or people to defend me from all dangers. Revelation 18:4, particularly given to venereal pleasures. Curtius says (g),
"no city was more corrupt in its manners, or furnished to irritate or allure to immoderate pleasures. Parents and husbands suffered their children and wives to prostitute themselves to strangers, so that they had but a price.''
Yea, every woman was obliged by a law to do this once in life, and that in a public manner, in the temple of Venus; the impurities of which are at large described by Herodotus (h) and Strabo (i):
that dwelleth carelessly; in great confidence and security, being fearless of danger, and insensible of any:
that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else besides me: sole monarch of the world, empress of the whole universe; no competitor with me, none that can rival me. These words are sometimes used by the eternal and unchangeable Jehovah of himself, and indeed they suit with none but him; and it is the height of insolence and blasphemy in a creature to use them of itself; they fitly express that sovereignty, supremacy, infallibility, and even deity, which mystical Babylon assumes and ascribes to her head:
I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children; not be without a head, king, or monarch, which is as a husband to the state; nor without numerous subjects, which are as children. The like mystical Babylon says, "I sit a queen, and am no widow", Revelation 18:7.Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 8. - Therefore; rather, and now. The third strophe begins here, but with a single, instead of a double, imperative. So also the fourth strophe in ver. 12. Thou that art given to pleasures (see the comment on ver. 1, sub fin.). That dwellest carelessly; or, that sittest securely; i.e. in an imagined security. Herodotus says that, when Cyrus invested the city, the inhabitants "made light of his siege" (1:190), and occupied themselves "in dancing and revelry" (1:191). The Nabonidus Tablet seems to show that very slight and insufficient preparations for defence were made.! am, and none else Beside me. This is not self-deification, but only a boast of superiority to all other earthly powers. Zephaniah expresses in exactly similar terms the pride and arrogance of Assyria (Zephaniah 2:15). I shall not sit as a widow; i.e. in solitude and desolation (Lamentations 1:1), deserted by the crowds who had sought her marts and delighted in her luxury. This result, which now impended, had never been anticipated by the "careless" one, who had expected to be for ever "the lady of kingdoms." The loss of children; i.e. diminution of population. Isaiah 23:12; Isaiah 37:22), and בּבל and כּשׂדּים in relation to בּת, are appositional genitives; Babel and Chaldeans (כשׂדים as in Isaiah 48:20) are regarded as a woman, and that as one not yet dishonoured. The unconquered oppressor is threatened with degradation from her proud eminence into shameful humiliation; sitting on the ground is used in the same sense as in Isaiah 3:26. Hitherto men have called her, with envious admiration, rakkâh va‛ânuggâh (from Deuteronomy 28:56), mollis et delicata, as having carefully kept everything disagreeable at a distance, and revelled in nothing but luxury (compare ‛ōneg, Isaiah 13:22). Debauchery with its attendant rioting (Isaiah 14:11; Isaiah 25:5), and the Mylitta worship with its licensed prostitution (Herod. i. 199), were current there; but now all this was at an end. תוסיפי, according to the Masora, has only one pashta both here and in Isaiah 47:5, and so has the tone upon the last syllable, and accordingly metheg in the antepenult. Isaiah's artistic style may be readily perceived both in the three clauses of Isaiah 47:1 that are comparable to a long trumpet-blast (compare Isaiah 40:9 and Isaiah 16:1), and also in the short, rugged, involuntarily excited clauses that follow. The mistress becomes the maid, and has to perform the low, menial service of those who, as Homer says in Od. vii. 104, ἀλετρεύουσι μύλης ἔπι μήλοπα καρπόν (grind at the mill the quince-coloured fruit; compare at Job 31:10). She has to leave her palace as a prisoner of war, and, laying aside all feminine modesty, to wade through the rivers upon which she borders. Chespı̄ has ĕ instead of ĭ, and, as in other cases where a sibilant precedes, the mute p instead of f (compare 'ispı̄, Jeremiah 10:17). Both the prosopopeia and the parallel, "thy shame shall be seen," require that the expression "thy nakedness shall be uncovered" should not be understood literally. The shame of Babel is her shameful conduct, which is not to be exhibited in its true colours, inasmuch as a stronger one is coming upon it to rob it of its might and honour. This stronger one, apart from the instrument employed, is Jehovah: vindictam sumam, non parcam homini. Stier gives a different rendering here, namely, "I will run upon no man, i.e., so as to make him give way;" Hahn, "I will not meet with a man," so destitute of population will Babylon be; and Ruetschi, "I will not step in as a man." Gesenius and Rosenmller are nearer to the mark when they suggest non pangam (paciscar) cum homine; but this would require at any rate את־אדם, even if the verb פּגע really had the meaning to strike a treaty. It means rather to strike against a person, to assault any one, then to meet or come in an opposite direction, and that not only in a hostile sense, but, as in this instance, and also in Isaiah 64:4, in a friendly sense as well. Hence, "I shall not receive any man, or pardon any man" (Hitzig, Ewald, etc.). According to an old method of writing the passage, there is a pause here. But Isaiah 47:4 is still connected with what goes before. As Jehovah is speaking in Isaiah 47:5, but Israel in Isaiah 47:4, and as Isaiah 47:4 is unsuitable to form the basis of the words of Jehovah, it must be regarded as the antiphone to Isaiah 47:1-3 (cf., Isaiah 45:15). Our Redeemer, exclaims the church in joyfully exalted self-consciousness, He is Jehovah of Hosts, the Holy One of Israel! The one name affirms that He possesses the all-conquering might; the other that He possesses the will to carry on the work of redemption - a will influenced and constrained by both love and wrath.
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