Isaiah 49:17
Your children shall make haste; your destroyers and they that made you waste shall go forth of you.
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(17) Thy children shall make haste.—A various reading adopted by the LXX., Targum, and Vulg., gives thy builders. They rush to their work of restoration; the destroyers and ravagers go forth.

Isaiah 49:17. Thy children — Or, as some, with equal propriety, render בנין, thy builders; which rendering is favoured by the next clause, where the destroyers are opposed to them, but the following verse favours the former interpretation: the sense, however, is the same, for the church’s children are her builders; shall make haste — To repair thy ruins and desolations, and build thee up. Thy destroyers, &c., shall go forth of thee — Shall be separated and driven from thee, and so shall neither hinder nor annoy thee. But this rendering, shall go forth of thee, says Bishop Lowth, “is very flat, after their zeal had been expressed by their being her builders: and as the opposition is kept up in one part of the sentence, one has reason to expect it in the other.” He, therefore, renders ממן יצאו, shall proceed, spring, or issue, from thee; namely, as thy children, and reads the whole verse thus: They that destroy thee shall soon become thy builders; and they that laid thee waste shall become thine offspring: the accession of the Gentiles to the church of God being properly considered as an addition made to the number of the family and children of Zion.49:13-17 Let there be universal joy, for God will have mercy upon the afflicted, because of his compassion; upon his afflicted, because of his covenant. We have no more reason to question his promise and grace, than we have to question his providence and justice. Be assured that God has a tender affection for his church and people; he would not have them to be discouraged. Some mothers do neglect their children; but God's compassions to his people, infinitely exceed those of the tenderest parents toward their children. His setting them as a mark on his hand, or a seal upon his arm, denotes his being ever mindful of them. As far as we have scriptural evidence that we belong to his ransomed flock, we may be sure that he will never forsake us. Let us then give diligence to make our calling and election sure, and rejoice in the hope and glory of God.Thy children - The children of Zion - the true people of God. But there is here considerable variety in the interpretation. The Hebrew of the present text is בניך bânâyı̂k ("thy sons"). But Jerome reads it, Structores tui - 'Thy builders;' as if it were בונין. The Septuagint renders it, 'Thou shalt be speedily built (ταχὺ οἰκοδομηθήσῃ tachu oikodomēthēsē) by those by whom thou hast been destroyed.' The Chaldee renders it, 'Those that rebuild thy waste places shall hasten.' The Syriac reads it, 'Thy sons;' and the Arabic, 'Thou shalt be rebuilt by those by whom thou hast been destroyed.' But there is no good authority for changing the present Hebrew text. nor is it necessary. The sense probably is, the descendants of those who dwelt in Zion, who are now in exile, shall hasten to rebuild the wastes of the desolate capital, and restore its ruins. And may it not mean, that in the great work under the Messiah, of restoring the nation to the worship of God, and of spreading the true religion, God would make use of those who dwelt in Zion; that is, of the Jews, as his ambassadors?

They that made thee waste - Language drawn from the destruction of Jerusalen. The sense is, that they would seek no longer to retain possession, but would permit its former inhabitants to return, and engage in repairing its ruins.

17. Thy children—Israel (Isa 49:20, 21; Isa 43:6). Jerome reads, for "Thy children," "Thy builders"; they that destroyed thee shall hasten to build thee.

haste—to rebuild thy desolate capital.

shall go forth—Thy destroyers shall leave Judea to Israel in undisturbed possession.

Thy children; or, as others render it, thy builders; which is favoured by the next clause, where the destroyers are opposed to them. Howsoever, the sense is the same; for her children were her builders, as we read in Ezra and Nehemiah.

Shall go forth of thee; shall be separated and driven from among thee, and so shall neither hinder nor annoy thee. Thy children shall make haste,.... Regenerate persons, young converts, such as are born again of incorruptible seed by the word; these shall flock to the church,

as doves to the windows; join themselves to her, and submit to Gospel ordinances, and

make haste, and delay not, to keep the Lord's commandments; which is no small pleasure, joy, and comfort to the church of God. Some render it, "thy builders" (m) "shall make haste"; Gospel ministers, who are wise masterbuilders under Christ; these shall come with all readiness and cheerfulness, and build in the temple, the church of God, and rebuild her walls, and repair her breaches:

thy destroyers and they that made thee waste, shall go forth of thee; tyrants and persecutors of the church shall cease, and be no more; and false teachers, that corrupt the minds of men, subvert their faith, and destroy their souls, as antichrist and his ministers, shall be drove out of the church, and destroyed by Christ, the Head of it; see Revelation 11:18.

(m) "structores vel aedificatores tui", Munster, Montanus, Calvin, Tigurine version.

Thy children shall make {y} haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth from thee.

(y) I have continual care to build you up again and to destroy your enemies.

17, 18. Already in vision the prophet sees the return of the exiles and calls on Zion to welcome her sons.

Instead of Thy children the chief ancient Versions, and the important Babylonian Codex have “Thy builders” (בֹּנַיִךְ for בָּנַיךְ), a sense which is recommended both by the antithesis to “thy destroyers” &c., and the connexion with the previous verse. Yet it is doubtful if the reading on the whole is preferable to that of the received text. The latter at least is true to the fundamental image of the passage, which appears again in Isaiah 49:20 f.

For shall make haste read in the present tense (as R.V.) make haste.

thy destroyers &c.] The expressions almost suggest that Jerusalem was still occupied by Chaldæan troops.Verse 17. - Thy children shall make haste; i.e. "thy exiled children shall hasten, when the appointed time comes, to return to Zion, and rebuild its temple and towers and walls." At the same time, thy destroyers and they that have made thee waste, who are regarded as still carrying on their devastations, shall leave thee and go forth of thee. The next two vv. describe (though only with reference to Israel, the immediate circle) what is the glory of the vocation to which Jehovah, in accordance with His promise, exalts His chosen One. "Thus saith Jehovah, In a time of favour have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee: and I form thee, and set thee for a covenant of the people, to raise up the land, to apportion again desolate inheritances, saying to prisoners, Go ye out: to those who are in darkness, Come ye to the light." Jehovah heard His servant, and came to his help when he prayed to Him out of the condition of bondage to the world, which he shared with his people. He did it at the time for the active display of His good pleasure, and for the realizing of salvation, which had been foreseen by Him, and had now arrived. The futures which follow are to be taken as such. The fact that Jehovah makes His servant "a covenant of the people," i.e., the personal bond which unites Israel and its God in a new fellowship (see Isaiah 42:6), is the fruit of his being heard and helped. The infinitives with Lamed affirm in what way the new covenant relation will be made manifest. The land that has fallen into decay rises into prosperity again, and the desolate possessions return to their former owners. This manifestation of the covenant grace, that has been restored to the nation again, is effected through the medium of the servant of Jehovah. The rendering of the lxx is quite correct: τοῦ καταστῆσαι τὴν γῆν καὶ κληρονομῆσαι κληρονομίας ἐρήμους λέγοντα לאמר is a dicendo governed by both infinitives. The prisoners in the darkness of the prison and of affliction are the exiles (Isaiah 42:22). The mighty word of the servant of Jehovah brings to them the light of liberty, in connection with which (as has been already more than once observed) the fact should be noticed, that the redemption is viewed in connection with the termination of the captivity, and, in accordance with the peculiar character of the Old Testament, is regarded as possessing a national character, and therefore is purely external.

The person of the servant of Jehovah now falls into the background again, and the prophecy proceeds with a description of the return of the redeemed. "They shall feed by the ways, and there is pasture for them upon all field-hills. They shall not hunger nor thirst, and the mirage and sun shall not blind them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, and guide them by bubbling water-springs. And I make all my mountains ways, and my roads are exalted. Behold these, they come from afar; and, behold, these from the north and from the sea; and these from the land of the Sinese." The people returning home are represented as a flock. By the roads that they take to their homes, they are able to obtain sufficient pasture, without being obliged to go a long way round in order to find a sufficient supply; and even upon bare sandy hills (Isaiah 41:18) there is pasture found for them. Nothing is wanting; even the shârâb (see Isaiah 35:7) and the sun do not hurt them, the former by deceiving and leading astray, the latter by wearying them with its oppressive heat: for He whose compassion has been excited by their long pining misery (Isaiah 41:17-20) is leading them, and bringing them along in comfort by bubbling springs of real and refreshing water (ינחל, as Petrarch once says of shepherds, Move la schira sua soavemente). Jehovah also makes all the mountains into roads for those who are returning home, and the paths of the desert are lifted up, as it were, into well-made roads (yerumūn, Ges. 47, Anm. 4). They are called my mountains and my highways (differently from Isaiah 14:25), because they are His creation; and therefore He is also able to change them, and now really does change them for the good of His people, who are returning to the land of their forefathers out of every quarter of the globe. Although in Psalm 107:3 yâm (the sea) appears to stand for the south, as referring to the southern part of the Mediterranean, which washes the coast of Egypt, there is no ground at all in the present instance for regarding it as employed in any other than its usual sense, namely the west; mērâchōq (from far) is therefore either the south (cf., Isaiah 43:6) or the east, according to the interpretation that we give to 'erets Sı̄nı̄m, as signifying a land to the east or to the south.

The Phoenician Sinim (Ges. Isaiah 10:17), the inhabitants of a fortified town in the neighbourhood of Area, which has now disappeared, but which was seen not only by Jerome, but also by Mariono Sanuto (de castro Arachas ad dimidiam leucam est oppidum Sin), cannot be thought of, for the simple reason that this Sin was too near, and was situated to the west of Babylon and to the north of Jerusalem; whilst Sin ( equals Pelusium) in Egypt, to which Ewald refers, did not give its name to either a tribe or a land. Arias Montanus was among the first to suggest that the Sinim are the Sinese (Chinese); and since the question has been so thoroughly discussed by Gesenius (in his Commentary and Thesaursu), most of the commentators, and also such Orientalists as Langles (in his Recherches asiatiques), Movers (in his Phoenicians), Lassen (in his Indische Alterthumskunde, i.-856-7), have decided in favour of this opinion. The objection brought against the supposition, that the name of the Chinese was known to the nations of the west at so early a period as this, viz., that this could not have been the case till after the reign of the emperor Shi-hoang-ti, of the dynasty of Thsin, who restored the empire that had been broken up into seven smaller kingdoms (in the year 247 b.c.), and through whose celebrated reign the name of his dynasty came to be employed in the western nations as the name of China generally, is met by Lassen with the simple fact that the name occurs at a much earlier period than this, and in many different forms, as the name of smaller states into which the empire was broken up after the reign of Wu-wang (1122-1115 b.c.). "The name Θῖναι (Strabo), Σῖναι (Ptol.), Τζίνιτζα (Kosmas), says the Sinologist Neumann, did not obtain currency for the first time from the founder of the great dynasty of Tsin; but long before this, Tsin was the name of a feudal kingdom of some importance in Shen-si, one of the western provinces of the Sinese land, and Fei-tse, the first feudal king of Tsin, began to reign as early as 897 b.c." It is quite possible, therefore, that the prophet, whether he were Isaiah or any other, may have heard of the land of the Sinese in the far east, and this is all that we need assume; not that Sinese merchants visited the market of the world on the Euphrates (Movers and Lassen), but only that information concerning the strange people who were so wealthy in rare productions, had reached the remote parts of the East through the medium of commerce, possibly from Ophir, and through the Phoenicians. But Egli replies: "The seer on the streams of Babel certainly could not have described any exiles as returning home from China, if he had not known that some of his countrymen were pining there in misery, and I most positively affirm that this was not the case." What is here assumed - namely, that there must have been a Chinese diaspora in the prophet's own time - is overthrown by what has been already observed in Isaiah 11:11; and we may also see that it is to purely by accident that the land of the Sinese is given as the farthest point to the east, from my communications concerning the Jews of China in the History of the Post-biblical Poetry of the Jews (1836, pp. 58-62, cf., p. 21). I have not yet seen Sionnet's work, which has appeared since, viz., Essai sur les Juifs de la Chine et sur l'influence, qu'ils ont eue sur la litrature de ce vaste empire, avant l're chrtienne; but I have read the Mission of Enquiry to the Jews in China in the Jewish Intelligence, May 1851, where a facsimile of their thorah is given. The immigration took place from Persia (cf., ‛Elâm, Isaiah 11:11), at the latest, under the Han dynasty (205 b.c.-220 a.d.), and certainly before the Christian era.

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