Isaiah 48:19
Your seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of your bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.
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(19) Like the gravel thereof.—Literally, as the bowels thereof, i.e., as that within the bowels of the sand, the living creatures that swarm in countless myriads in the sea. The two verses utter the sigh which has come from the heart of all true teachers as they contemplate the actual state of men and compare it with what might have been. (Comp. Deuteronomy 32:29-30; Luke 19:42.)

48:16-22 The Holy Spirit qualifies for service; and those may speak boldly, whom God and his Spirit send. This is to be applied to Christ. He was sent, and he had the Spirit without measure. Whom God redeems, he teaches; he teaches to profit by affliction, and then makes them partakers of his holiness. Also, by his grace he leads them in the way of duty; and by his providence he leads in the way of deliverance. God did not afflict them willingly. If their sins had not turned them away, their peace should have been always flowing and abundant. Spiritual enjoyments are ever joined with holiness of life and regard to God's will. It will make the misery of the disobedient the more painful, to think how happy they might have been. And here is assurance given of salvation out of captivity. Those whom God designs to bring home to himself, he will take care of, that they want not for their journey. This is applicable to the grace laid up for us in Jesus Christ, from whom all good flows to us, as the water to Israel out of the rock, for that Rock was Christ. The spiritual blessings of redemption, and the rescue of the church from antichristian tyranny, are here pointed to. But whatever changes take place, the Lord warned impenitent sinners that no good would come to them; that inward anguish and outward trouble, which spring from guilt and from the Divine wrath, must be their portion for ever.Thy seed also - Instead of being reduced to a small number by the calamities incident to war, and being comparatively a small and powerless people sighing in captivity, you would have been a numerous and mighty nation. This is another of the blessings which would have followed from obedience to the commands of God; and it proves that a people who are virtuous and pious will become numerous and mighty. Vice, and the diseases, the wars, and the divine judgments consequent on vice, tend to depopulate a nation, and to make it feeble.

As the sand - This is often used to denote a great and indefinite number (Genesis 22:17; Genesis 32:12; Genesis 41:49; Joshua 11:4; Judges 7:12; 1 Samuel 13:5; 2 Samuel 17:11; 1 Kings 4:20-29; Job 29:18; Psalm 139:18; the note at Isaiah 10:22; Hosea 1:10; Revelation 20:8).

And the offspring of thy bowels - On the meaning of the word used here, see the note at Isaiah 22:24.

Like the gravel thereof - literally, 'and the offspring of thy bowels shall be like its bowels,' that is, like the offspring of the sea. The phrase refers probably rather to the fish of the sea, or the innumerable multitudes of animals that swim in the sea, than to the gravel. There is no place where the word means gravel. Jerome, however, renders it, Ut lapili ejus - 'As its pebbles.' The Septuagint Ὡς ὁ χοῦς τῆς γῆς hōs ho chous tēs gēs - 'As the dust of the earth.' The Chaldee also renders it, 'As the stones of the sea;' and the Syriac also. The sense is essentially the same that the number of the people of the nation would have been vast.

His name should not have been out off - This does not imply of necessity that they had ceased to be a nation when they were in Babylon, but the meaning is, that if they had been, and would continue to be, obedient, their national existence would have been perpetuated to the end of time. When they ceased to be a distinct nation, and their name was blotted out among the kingdoms of the earth, it was for national crime and unbelief Romans 11:20.

19. sand—retaining the metaphor of "the sea" (Isa 48:18).

like the gravel thereof—rather, as the Hebrew, "like that (the offspring) of its (the sea's) bowels"; referring to the countless living creatures, fishes, &c., of the sea, rather than the gravel [Maurer]. Jerome, Chaldee, and Syriac support English Version.

his name … cut off—transition from the second person, "thy," to the third "his." Israel's name was cut off "as a nation" during the Babylonish captivity; also it is so now, to which the prophecy especially looks (Ro 11:20).

Thy seed also had been as the sand, to wit, for multitude, according to my promise made to Abraham; whereas now I have, for thy sins, made thee to know my breach of promise, as is said. Numbers 14:34, and greatly diminished thy numbers.

The offspring of thy bowels; which come out of thy bowels, or belly, or loins; for all these are but various expressions of the same thing.

His name; which is continued in a man’s posterity, and commonly dies with them; and so the name here is the same thing in effect with the seed and offspring in the former clauses, which, for the most part, are only the memorials of men, and of their names, when they are dead and gone.

Should not have been cut off, as now it hath been in a great measure; and should have been totally and finally cut off, if I had not spared them for my own name’s sake, as he said before.

From before me; or, out of my sight; out of their own land, the place of my special presence and residence. Thy seed had also been as the sand,.... Upon the sea shore, as numerous as that, as was promised to Abraham, Genesis 22:17,

and the offspring of thy bowels as the gravel thereof; that is, of the sand; the little stones that are in it, which lie in great numbers on the sea shore; the same thing expressed in different words, denoting the number of their posterity, as it would have been, had they received the Messiah, his doctrines and ordinances: it may be rendered, "and the offspring", or "those that go out of thy bowels", that spring from thee, are born of thee, "as the bowels thereof" (q), that is, of the sea; as what is within it, particularly the fishes of it, which are innumerable; and so Aben Ezra and Jarchi interpret it; and which sense is mentioned by Kimchi and Ben Melech:

his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me: the name of Israel, as the Targum has it; the name of the people of the Jews is no more in the land where they dwelt; they are cut off as a nation; their city and temple are destroyed, where they appear no more before the Lord; which would not have been, had they hearkened to the Messiah, embraced his truths, and been obedient to his commands.

(q) "sicut viscera ejus", Montanus; "interiora maris"; Munster.

Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy body like its gravel; his {x} name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.

(x) That is, the prosperous estate of Israel.

19. as the sand] A common comparison; see ch. Isaiah 10:22; Genesis 22:17; Hosea 1:10 &c.

like the gravel thereof] Lit. the grains thereof. The word used resembles a fem. plur. of that which immediately precedes (“bowels”); hence some commentators translate “the entrails thereof” (i.e. the fishes), taking as antecedent of the pronoun the word “sea” in the previous verse (see R.V. marg.). It would be better to explain it at once of the “entrails” of the sand (i.e. worms), for which indeed there is said to be a Syriac parallel (see Payne Smith, Thesaurus, col. 2185). But both comparisons alike are prosaic and unnatural. The word is no doubt identical with the Aramaic mâ‘âh, “kernel” (generally used of a small coin).

his name &c.] its name (that of the “seed”) should not be cut off &c.

20, 21 (cf. ch. Isaiah 52:11-12) form the lyrical conclusion of this division of the prophecy. In anticipation of this second exodus of Israel, the prophet puts a song of praise in the mouth of the redeemed exiles.

flee ye from the Chaldeans] or “from Chaldæa” (see on Isaiah 47:1). The verb flee probably means no more than “hasten” (see ch. Isaiah 52:12).

with a voice of singing … tell this] The exiles’ shout of joy is a revelation to the world of the greatness of the God of Israel.

utter it] Lit. “send it forth,” as in ch. Isaiah 42:1.Verse 19. - Thy seed also had been as the sand. Israel, at the close of the Captivity, was "a remnant" (Isaiah 37:31), a "very small remnant" (Isaiah 1:9); the ten tribes were for the most part absorbed into the heathen among whom they had been scattered; the two tribes had dwindled in number through the hardships of the Captivity, and were scarcely more than a "handful." Less than fifty thousand returned with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:64); less than two thousand males with Ezra (Ezra 8:2-20). Had Israel not been disobedient, the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would have been literally fulfilled, and the descendants of Abraham would have been millions upon millions, instead of being one or two hundred thousand. The offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; rather, like the grains thereof; i.e. the grains of the sand. His name; i.e. "Israel's name." Should not have been cut off. Israel's name had not been wholly "cut off" or "destroyed." But it had been approximately "cut off." Israel was no more a people, but only a horde of slaves. The restoration to Palestine was a resurrection - the re-creation of a nation which, humanly speaking, had ceased to be. The prophecy opened with "Hear ye;" and now the second half commences with "Hear." Three times is the appeal made to Israel: Hear ye; Jehovah alone is God, Creator, shaper of history, God of prophecy and of fulfilment. "Hearken to me, O Jacob, and Israel my called! I am it, I first, also I last. My hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: I call to them, and they stand there together. All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear: Who among them hath proclaimed this? He whom Jehovah loveth will accomplish his will upon Babel, and his arm upon the Chaldeans. I, I have spoken, have also called him, have brought him here, and his way prospers. Come ye near to me! Hear ye this! I have not spoken in secret, from the beginning: from the time that it takes place, there am I: and now the Lord Jehovah hath sent me and His Spirit." Israel is to hearken to the call of Jehovah. The obligation to this exists, on the one hand, in the fact that it is the nation called to be the servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 41:9), the people of sacred history; and on the other hand, in the fact that Jehovah is הוּא (ever since Deuteronomy 32:39, the fundamental clause of the Old Testament credo), i.e., the absolute and eternally unchangeable One, the Alpha and Omega of all history, more especially of that of Israel, the Creator of the earth and heavens (tippach, like nâtâh elsewhere, equivalent to the Syriac tephach, to spread out), at whose almighty call they stand ready to obey, with all the beings they contain. אני קרא is virtually a conditional sentence (Ewald, 357, b). So far everything has explained the reason for the exhortation to listen to Jehovah. A further reason is now given, by His summoning the members of His nation to assemble together, to hear His own self-attestation, and to confirm it: Who among them (the gods of the heathen) has proclaimed this, or anything of the kind? That which no one but Jehovah has ever predicted follows immediately, in the form of an independent sentence, the subject of which is אהבו יהוה (cf., Isaiah 41:24): He whom Jehovah loveth will accomplish his will upon Babylon, and his arm (accomplish it) upon the Chaldeans. וּזרעו is not an accusative (as Hitzig, Ewald, Stier, and others maintain); for the expression "accomplish his arm" (? Jehovah's or his own) is a phrase that is quite unintelligible, even if taken as zeugmatic; it is rather the nominative of the subject, whilst כּשׂדּים equals בּכּשׂדּים, like תהלתי equals תהלתי למען in Isaiah 48:9. Jehovah, He alone, is He who has proclaimed such things; He also has raised up in Cyrus the predicted conqueror of Babylon. The prosperity of his career is Jehovah's work.

As certainly now as הקּבצוּ in Isaiah 48:14 is the word of Jehovah, so certain is it that אלי קרבוּ is the same. He summons to Himself the members of His nation, that they may hear still further His own testimony concerning Himself. From the beginning He has not spoken in secret (see Isaiah 45:19); but from the time that all which now lies before their eyes - namely, the victorious career of Cyrus - has unfolded itself, He has been there, or has been by (shâm, there, as in Proverbs 8:27), to regulate what was coming to pass, and to cause it to result in the redemption of Israel. Hofmann gives a different explanation, viz.: "I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; not from the time when it came to pass (not then for the first time, but long before); I was then (when it occurred)." But the arrangement of the words is opposed to this continued force of the לא, and the accents are opposed to this breaking off of the אני שׁם, which affirms that, at the time when the revolution caused by Cyrus was preparing in the distance, He caused it to be publicly foretold, and thereby proclaimed Himself the present Author and Lord of what was then occurring. Up to this point Jehovah is speaking; but who is it that now proceeds to say, "And now - namely, now that the redemption of Israel is about to appear (ועתּה being here, as in many other instances, e.g., Isaiah 33:10, the turning-point of salvation) - now hath the Lord Jehovah sent me and His Spirit?" The majority of the commentators assume that the prophet comes forward here in his own person, behind Him whom he has introduced, and interrupts Him. But although it is perfectly true, that in all prophecy, from Deuteronomy onwards, words of Jehovah through the prophet and words of the prophet of Jehovah alternate in constant, and often harsh transitions, and that our prophet has this mark of divine inspiration in common with all the other prophets (cf., Isaiah 62:5-6), it must also be borne in mind, that hitherto he has not spoken once objectively of himself, except quite indirectly (vid., Isaiah 40:6; Isaiah 44:26), to say nothing of actually coming forward in his own person. Whether this takes place further on, more especially in Isaiah 61:1-11, we will leave for the present; but here, since the prophet has not spoken in his own person before, whereas, on the other hand, these words are followed in Isaiah 49:1. by an address concerning himself from that servant of Jehovah who announces himself as the restorer of Israel and light of the Gentiles, and who cannot therefore be ether Israel as a nation or the author of these prophecies, nothing is more natural than to suppose that the words, "And now hath the Lord," etc., form a prelude to the words of the One unequalled servant of Jehovah concerning Himself which occur in chapter 49. The surprisingly mysterious way in which the words of Jehovah suddenly pass into those of His messenger, which is only comparable to Zechariah 2:12., Zechariah 4:9 (where the speaker is also not the prophet, but a divine messenger exalted above him), can only be explained in this manner. And in no other way can we explain the ועתּה, which means that, after Jehovah has prepared the way for the redemption of Israel by the raising up of Cyrus, in accordance with prophecy, and by his success in arms, He has sent him, the speaker in this case, to carry out, in a mediatorial capacity, the redemption thus prepared, and that not by force of arms, but in the power of the Spirit of God (Isaiah 42:1; cf., Zechariah 4:6). Consequently the Spirit is not spoken of here as joining in the sending (as Umbreit and Stier suppose, after Jerome and the Targum: the Septuagint is indefinite, καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ); nor do we ever find the Spirit mentioned in such co-ordination as this (see, on the other hand, Zechariah 7:12, per spiritum suum). The meaning is, that it is also sent, i.e., sent in and with the servant of Jehovah, who is peaking here. To convey this meaning, there was no necessity to write either ורוּחו אתי שׁלח or ואת־רוחו שׁלחוי, since the expression is just the same as that in Isaiah 29:7, וּמצדתהּ צביה; and the Vav may be regarded as the Vav of companionship (Mitschaft, lit., with-ship, as the Arabs call it; see at Isaiah 42:5).

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