Isaiah 48:5
I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.
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48:1-8 The Jews valued themselves on descent from Jacob, and used the name of Jehovah as their God. They prided themselves respecting Jerusalem and the temple, yet there was no holiness in their lives. If we are not sincere in religion, we do but take the name of the Lord in vain. By prophecy they were shown how God would deal with them, long before it came to pass. God has said and done enough to prevent men's boasting of themselves, which makes the sin and ruin of the proud worse; sooner or later every mouth shall be stopped, and all become silent before Him. We are all born children of disobedience. Where original sin is, actual sin will follow. Does not the conscience of every man witness to the truth of Scripture? May the Lord prove us, and render us doers of the word.I have even from the beginning declared it to thee - He had foretold future events, so that they had abundant demonstration thai he was the true God, and so that they could not be under a mistake in regard to the source of their deliverances from danger.

Mine idol hath done them - The idols and molten images had not foretold these events and when they came to pass, it could not, therefore, be pretended that they had been produced by idols. By predicting them, Yahweh kept up the proof that he was the true God, and demonstrated that he alone was worthy of their confidence and regard.

5. (See on [830]Isa 48:1; [831]Isa 48:3). I foretold these things, that it might be evident that they were the effects of my counsel, and not of thine idols, as I knew thou wast very inclinable to believe.

I have even from the beginning declared it to thee,.... From the beginning of their being a people, even before they were formed into a body politic; yea, from the original of them, from the time of Abraham their ancestor, as before observed:

before it came to pass I showed it thee; some hundreds of years before; first to Abraham, then to Isaac, then to Jacob, then to Joseph, and then to Moses, and by him to the children of Israel:

lest thou shouldest say, mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them; or my libation or fusion of wine, oil, or blood, by which, as by other things, they made conjectures of what was to come to pass; so Gussetius (b) interprets the last word; lest they should ascribe their deliverance out of Egypt to the idols they made and worshipped, being a people prone to idolatry; as they did when they made a golden calf, and danced about it, Exodus 32:4. This the Lord knew before hand, and therefore to prevent this stupidity, or convince them of it, he foretold what should come to pass, which their idols were never able to do.

(b) Ebr. Comment. p. 517.

I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I showed {f} it thee: lest thou shouldest say, My idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.

(f) How you should be delivered out of Babylon.

5. I have even … thee] And I announced it to thee beforehand (Isaiah 48:3).

lest thou shouldest say &c.] But for the predictions the appearance of Cyrus would have been attributed to the idols rather than to the God who spoke through the prophets. The prevalence of idolatry among the exiles is abundantly proved by the book of Ezekiel.

Verse 5. - I have even from the beginning declared it (comp. ver. 3). The declaration here made is that God rendered his prophecies more than ordinarily marvellous on account of Israel's obstinacy, not punishing them for it, lint seeking graciously and lovingly to overcome it by adding to the weight of the evidence to which he would fain have had it yield. Had his prophecies been less astonishing, had they in a less degree transcended ordinary human experience, Israel might conceivably have ascribed them and the accomplishment of them to the false gods. As it was, this was barely possible. Mine idol... my molten image. It has been already observed (see the comment on Isaiah 40:18) that there was a strong tendency to idolatry among the Jews, not only before, but during the Captivity. Ezekiel says that those among whom he lived were "polluted after the manner of their fathers, and committed whoredom after their abominations; made their sons pass through the fire, and polluted themselves with all their idols" (Ezekiel 20:30, 31); nay, went so far as to declare boldly, "We will be as the heathen, as the inhabitants of the countries, to serve wood and stone" (Ezekiel 20:32). The "prevailing tendency," as Delitzsch remarks, was "to combine the worship of Jehovah with heathenism, or else to exchange the former altogether for the latter." We cannot conclude anything concerning the mass of the community from the character of those who returned. Those who returned were the sincere worshippers of Jehovah - the irreligious did not care to return. It is always to be borne in mind that it was "the great mass even of Judah," no less than of Israel, that "remained behind" (Delitzsch); and these "became absorbed into the heathen, to whom they became more and more assimilated" (ibid.). Hath commanded them; i.e. "hath caused them (the events) to take place" (comp. Psalm 33:9). Isaiah 48:5After this summons, and description of those who are summoned, the address of Jehovah begins. "The first I have long ago proclaimed, and it has gone forth out of my mouth, and I caused it to be heard. I carried it out suddenly, and it came to pass. Because I knew that thou art hard, and thy neck an iron clasp, and thy brow of brass; I proclaimed it to thee long ago; before it came to pass, I caused thee to hear it, that thou mightest not say, My idol has done it, and my graven image and molten image commanded it." The word הראשׁנות in itself signifies simply priora; and then, according to the context, it signifies prius facta (Isaiah 46:9), or prius praedicta (Isaiah 43:9), or prius eventura (Isaiah 41:22; Isaiah 42:9). In the present passage it refers to earlier occurrences, which Jehovah had foretold, and, when the time fixed for their accomplishment arrived, which He had immediately brought to pass. With a retrospective glance at this, we find plural masc. suffixes (cf., Isaiah 41:27) used interchangeably with plural fem. (cf., Isaiah 48:7 and Isaiah 38:16); the prophet more frequently uses the sing. fem. in this neuter sense (Isaiah 41:20; Isaiah 42:23, etc.), and also, though very rarely, the sing. masc. (Isaiah 45:8). On gı̄d, a band, a sinew, but here a clasp (cf., Arab. kaid, a fetter), see Psychology, p. 233. Nechūshâh is a poetical equivalent for nechōsheth, as in Isaiah 45:2. The heathen cravings of Israel, which reached into the captivity, are here presupposed. Hengstenberg is mistaken in his supposition, that the prophet's standpoint is always anterior to the captivity when he speaks in condemnation of idolatry. We cannot draw any conclusion from the character of the community that returned, with regard to that of the people of the captivity generally. The great mass even of Judah, and still more of Israel, remained behind, and became absorbed into the heathen, to whom they became more and more assimilated. And does not Ezekiel expressly state in Ezekiel 20:30., that the golah by the Chaboras defiled themselves with the same abominations of idolatry as their fathers, and that the prevailing disposition was to combine the worship of Jehovah with heathenism, or else to exchange the former altogether for the latter? And we know that it was just the same with the exiles in Egypt, among whom the life and labours of Jeremiah terminated. Wherever the prophet speaks of פשׁעים and רשׁעים, these names invariably include a tendency or falling away to Babylonian idolatry, to which he describes the exiles as having been addicted, both in Isaiah 66:17 and elsewhere.
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