Isaiah 49:20 Commentaries: "The children of whom you were bereaved will yet say in your ears, 'The place is too cramped for me; Make room for me that I may live here.'
Isaiah 49:20
The children which you shall have, after you have lost the other, shall say again in your ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.
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(20) The children which thou shalt have . . .—Better, the children of thy bereavement (i.e., born when Zion thought herself bereaved) shall yet say . . .

49:18-23 Zion is addressed as an afflicted widow, bereaved of her children. Numbers flock to her, and she is assured that they come to be a comfort to her. There are times when the church is desolate and few in number; yet its desolations shall not last for ever, and God will repair them. God can raise up friends for returning Israelites, even among Gentiles. They shall bring their children, and make them thy children. Let all deal tenderly and carefully with young converts and beginners in religion. Princes shall protect the church. It shall appear that God is the sovereign Lord of all. And those who in the exercise of faith, hope, and patience, wait on God for the fulfilment of his promises, shall never be confounded.The children which thou shalt have - The increase of the population shall be so great.

After thou hast lost the other - Hebrew, 'The sons of thy widowhood.' That is, after thou hast lost those that have been killed in the wars, and those that have died in captivity in a distant land, there shall be again a great increase as if they were given to a widowed mother. And perhaps the general truth is taught here, that the persecution of the people of God will be attended ultimately with a vast increase; and that all the attempts to obliterate the church will only tend finally to enlarge and strengthen it.

Shall say again in thy ears - Or, shall say to thee.

The place is too strait for me - There is not room for us all. The entire language here denotes a vast accession to the church of God. It is indicative of such an increase as took place when the gospel was proclaimed by the apostles to the Gentiles, and of such an increase as shall Yet more abundantly take place when the whole world shall become converted to God.

20. children … after … other—rather, "the children of thy widowhood," that is, the children of whom thou hast been bereft during their dispersion in other lands (see on [834]Isa 47:8) [Maurer].

again—rather, "yet."

give place—rather, "stand close to me," namely, in order that we may be the more able to dwell in in the narrow place [Horsley]. Compare as to Israel's spiritual children, and the extension of the gospel sphere, Ro 15:19, 24; 2Co 10:14-16. But Isa 49:22 (compare Isa 66:20) shows that her literal children are primarily meant. Gesenius translates, "Make room."

The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, Heb. The children of thine orbity or barren and childless state. Those children which thou shalt have when thou art grown past the ordinary age and state of childbearing, as Sarah was made the mother of a most numerous posterity; . to which he seems here to allude. Those Gentiles which shall be begotten by thee, to wit, by the ministry of thy children, Christ and his apostles, when thou shalt be deprived of thine own natural children, when thou shalt become barren and unfruitful as to conversion of natural Jews, when the generality of the Jews shall cut themselves off from God, and from his true church, by their apostacy from God, and by their unbelief and obstinate refusal of their Messiah.

Shall say again, or rather,

shall yet say, though for the present it be otherwise. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other,.... Which "other lost" are not the Jews, the broken branches, rejected and cut off for unbelief; and the "children after" them not the Gentiles converted, which took their place; but "the other" are such who have been destroyed by the Heathen persecutions, and especially by the antichristian cruelties; and the "children after", the great numbers of converts upon the fall of antichrist. The words may be rendered, "the children of thine orbity" (o), or "childless state"; such as were born unto her in an uncommon, extraordinary, and unexpected way, when the church seemed to be in a widowhood estate, or like a woman that is past bearing children:

shall say again in thine ears; or, "shall yet say" (p); that is, hereafter, in time to come: for this is a prophecy of what should be said in the church's hearing, and such as had never been said before; and therefore improperly rendered "again"; for there never has been as yet such a time as this, or such a large number of converts, as to say,

the place is too strait for me to dwell in; there is not room enough for us, as in 2 Kings 6:1,

give place to me that I may dwell; one and another of the children or converts should say, make room for me, that I may have a name and a place among you, and dwell with you, and abide in the house of the Lord, and partake of the privileges and ordinances of it: but the word used signifies drawing nigh, and not giving way or removing; and should rather be rendered, "draw nigh to me that I may dwell"; or "and I shall dwell" (q), or "sit"; come close to one another, and we shall all sit and dwell comfortably together; just as when a house is well filled with agreeable company, and there is an unwillingness to part with or lose any, they are desired to sit close together, that there may be room for all: and this is, and will be, the case with the church and her members; they will be desirous to sit regularly, and close together, in Gospel order, that everyone may be comfortable, and partake of the benefit of communion, and none be obliged to depart: and to this sense Gussetius (r) interprets the phrase.

(o) "filii orbitatis tuae", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Vitringa; "orbitatum tuarum", Pagninus, Montanus; "tui orbati", Munster. (The word "orbity" means "childless" or "without parents", Webster's 1828 Dictionary, Editor) (p) "adhuc dicent", Gataker, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Vitringa. q) "accede mihi & habitabo", Montanus; "contrahe te mea causa ut sedeam", Cocceius. (r) Ebr. Comment. p. 496.

The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.
20. The children … other] Lit. the sons of thy bereavement, i.e. those born to thee in the time of thy bereavement (see Isaiah 49:21).

shall yet say in thine ears] The mother overhears the talk of her vigorous and enterprising offspring.

the place is too strait for me] Cf. 2 Kings 6:1.

Give place to me] This peculiar sense of the verb (usually “draw near”) finds an exact parallel in Genesis 19:9. Comp. Isaiah 65:5, “draw near to thyself” = “stand off,”—a different, but synonymous verb.Verse 20. - The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other; literally, the children of thy bereavement; i.e. the Gentiles who shall replace those many faithless Israelites who refused to return when Cyrus issued his edict, and became lost to the Church of God. The place is too strait for me (see the comment on ver. 19). The prophet, looking back at the period of suffering from the standpoint of the deliverance, exclaims from the midst of this train of thought: Isaiah 49:14 "Zion said, Jehovah hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me." The period of suffering which forces out this lamentation still continues. What follows, therefore, applies to the church of the present, i.e., of the captivity. Isaiah 49:15, Isaiah 49:16 "Does a woman forget her sucking child, so as not to have compassion upon the child of her womb? Even though mothers should forget, I will not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls stand continually before me." In reply to the complaining church, which knows that her home is in Zion-Jerusalem, and which has been kept so long away from her home, Jehovah sets forth His love, which is as inalienable as a mother's love, yea, far greater than even maternal love. On עוּל, the min in mērachēm is equivalent to ὥστε μή, as in Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 24:10; Isaiah 33:15, etc. גּם, so far as the actual sense is concerned, is equivalent to גּם־כּי (Ewald, 362, b): "granted that such (mothers) should forget, i.e., disown, their love." The picture of Zion (not merely the name, as Isaiah 49:16 clearly shows) is drawn in the inside of Jehovah's hands, just as men are accustomed to burn or puncture ornamental figures and mementoes upon the hand, the arm, and the forehead, and to colour the punctures with alhenna or indigo (see Tafel, xii., in vol. ii. pp. 33-35 of Lane's Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians). There is the figure of Zion, unapproachable to every creature, as close to Him as He is to Himself, and facing Him amidst all the emotions of His divine life. There has He the walls of Zion constantly before Him (on neged, see at Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 24:23); and even if for a time they are broken down here below, with Him they have an eternal ideal existence, which must be realized again and again in an increasingly glorious form.
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