Isaiah 49:26
And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.
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(26) I will feed them that oppress thee . . .—The words are, of course, symbolical of the utter collapse, the self-destructive struggles of the enemies of Zion, i.e., of the company, or Ecclesia, of the redeemed.

The mighty One of Jacob.—Same word, and that a rare one, as in Isaiah 1:24.

49:24-26 We were lawful captives to the justice of God, yet delivered by a price of unspeakable value. Here is an express promise: Even the prey of the terrible shall be delivered. We may here view Satan deprived of his prey, bound and cast into the pit; and all the powers that have combined to enslave, persecute, or corrupt the church, are destroyed; that all the earth may know that our Saviour and Redeemer is Jehovah, the mighty One of Jacob. And every effort we make to rescue our fellow-sinners from the bondage of Satan, is, in some degree, helping forward that great change.And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh - The language used here is that which appropriately describes the distresses resuiting from discord and internal strifes. Similar language occurs in Isaiah 9:20 (see the note on that verse). Their rage shall be excited against each other; and there shall be anarchy, internal discord, and the desire of mutual revenge. They shall destroy themselves by mutual conflicts, until they are gorged with slaughter, and drunk with blood.

And they shall be drunken with their own blood - A similar expression occurs in Revelation 16:6 : 'For they have shed the blood of the prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink.' This expression describes a state of internal strife, where blood would be profusely shed, and where it would be, as it were, the drink of those who were contending with each other. Grotius supposes that it refers to the conflicts between the Persians and the Medes, and those of the Medes and Persians with the Babylonians. Vitringa supposes it received its fulfillment in the contests which took place in the Roman empire, particularly during the reign of Diocletian, when so many rivals contended for the sovereignty. Perhaps, however, it is in vain to attempt to refer this to any single conflict, or state of anarchy. The language is general; and it may mean in general that God would guard and protect his people; and that in doing this, he would fill the ranks of his foes with confusion, and suffer them to be torn and distracted with internal strifes; and amidst those strifes, and by means of them, would secure the deliverance and safety of his own people. It has not unfrequently happened that he has suffered or caused discord to spring up among the enemies of his people, and distracted their counsels, and thus secured the safety and welfare of those whom they were opposing and persecuting.

As with sweet wine - Margin, 'New.' The Hebrew word (עסיס ‛âsiys) means 'must,' or new wine Joel 1:5; Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13. The Septuagint renders it, Οῖνον νέον Oinon neon - 'New wine.' The 'must,' or new wine, was the pure juice which ran first after the grapes had been laid in a heap preparatory to pressure. The ancients had the art of preserving this for a long time, so as to retain its special flavor, and were in the habit of drinking it in the morning (see Hor. Sat. ii. 4). This had the intoxicating property very slightly, if at all; and Harmer (Obs. vol. ii. p. 151) supposes that the kind here meant was rather such as was used in 'royal palaces for its gratefulness,' which was capable of being kept to a great age. It is possible, I think, that there may be an allusion here to the fact that it required a 'large quantity of the must' or new wine to produce intoxication, and that the idea here is that a large quantity of blood would be shed.

And all flesh - The effect of all this shall be to diffuse the true religion throughout the world. The result of the contentions that shall be excited among the enemies of the people of God; of their civil wars and mutual slaughter; and of the consequent protection and defense of the people whom they were endeavoring to destroy, shall be to diffuse the true religion among the nations, and to bring all people to acknowledge that he who thus protects his church is the true and only God. It would be easy to show the fulfillment of this prediction from the records of the past, and from the efforts which have been made to destroy the church of God. But that would be foreign to the design of these notes. A very slight acquaintance with the repeated efforts to destroy the ancient people of God in Egypt, in the wilderness, in Babylon, and under Antiochus Epiphanes; with the early persecution of the Christians in Judea; with the successive persecutions in the Roman empire from the time of Nero to Diocletian; with the persecution of the Waldenses in Switserland; of the Huguenots in France; and of the Reformers in England, will be sufficient to convince anyone that God is the protector of the church, and that no weapons formed against her shall prosper. Her enemies shall be distracted in their counsels, and left to anarchy and overthrow; and the church shall rise resplendent from all their persecutions, and shall prosper ultimately just in proportion to their efforts to destroy it.

26. feed … own flesh—a phrase for internal strifes (Isa 9:20).

own blood—a just retribution for their having shed the blood of God's servants (Re 16:6).

sweet wine—that is, must, or new wine, the pure juice which flows from the heap of grapes before they are pressed; the ancients could preserve it for a long time, so as to retain its flavor. It was so mild that it required a large quantity to intoxicate; thus the idea here is that very much blood would be shed (Re 14:10, 20).

all flesh shall, &c.—the effect on the world of God's judgments (Isa 66:15, 16, 18, 19; Re 15:3, 4).

I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; I will make them eat their own flesh, either through hunger, as Leviticus 26:29 Isaiah 9:20, or through rage and madness. Or, I will make thine enemies to destroy one another, and that greedily and with delight, as the next clause implies. All their enemies are here represented as one body; and so when one part of them devoured another, it was their

own flesh that was destroyed.

And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh,.... Not that they should feed upon their own flesh, because of famine, for this was not the case of Babylon when taken; but that they should destroy one another, as the Midianites did; and which was true of some of the Babylonians, who assisted Cyrus in taking the city, and destroying the inhabitants of it; and will be verified in the Popish party killing one another:

and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; which denotes the abundance of blood that shall be shed, and the pleasure in shedding of it. It will be a righteous thing with God to give the whore of Rome her own blood to drink, even so as to be made drunk with it as with wine, who has been drunk already with the blood of the saints, Revelation 16:6. The Targum is,

"I will give the flesh of them that oppress thee for food to every fowl of the heavens; and as they are drunken with wine, so the beasts of the field shall be drunken with their blood;''

see Revelation 19:17,

and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob; it shall be notorious to all the world, that Jehovah, the "Lord" of lords, the Lord of the whole earth, is the "Saviour and Redeemer" of his church and people out of all their afflictions, oppressions, and persecutions, by the Romish antichrist; this will be apparently seen, and publicly owned and acknowledged, when antichrist shall be destroyed, and the church saved; by which it will be manifest, it being the Lord's work, and wondrous in the eyes of men, that he is "the mighty One of Jacob", able to help and save them.

And I will feed them that oppress thee with {f} their own flesh; and they shall be drunk with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.

(f) I will cause them to destroy one another as in Jud 7:22, 2Ch 20:22, Isa 19:2.

26. I will feed them that? &c.] Better: I will cause thine oppressors (the Chaldæans) to eat their own flesh (cf. ch. Isaiah 9:20; Zechariah 11:9). The enemies of Zion shall be consumed by internecine war—a common eschatological representation (Ezekiel 38:21; Haggai 2:22; Zechariah 14:13).

and all flesh shall know] Comp. “And thou shalt know” at the end of the previous oracle (Isaiah 49:23).

the mighty One of Jacob] See on ch. Isaiah 1:24, and cf. Isaiah 60:16.

Verse 26. - I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh (comp. Isaiah 9:20). Civil disunion is intended, which will break the power of Babylon, and render her an easy prey to the Persians. The recently discovered inscriptions clearly show that this was the case. Nabonidus had alienated the affections of his subjects by changes in the religion of the country, and during the course of the war with Cyrus, many Babylonian tribes went over to the invaders, and fought against their own countrymen (see the 'Cylinder of Nabonidus;' and comp. Sayce, 'Ancient Empires of the East,' p. 357). The mighty One of Jacob (see the comment on Isaiah 1:24).

Isaiah 49:26There follows now a sceptical question prompted by weakness of faith; and the divine reply. The question, Isaiah 49:24 : "Can the booty indeed be wrested from a giant, or will the captive host of the righteous escape?" The question is logically one, and only divided rhetorically into two (Ges. 153, 2). The giant, or gigantically strong one, is the Chaldean. Knobel, in opposition to Hitzig, who supposes the Persian to be referred to, points very properly to Isaiah 51:12-13, and Isaiah 52:5. He is mistaken, however, in thinking that we must read עריץ שׁבי in Isaiah 49:24, as Ewald does after the Syriac and Jerome, on account of the parallelism. The exiles are called shebhı̄ tsaddı̄q, not, however, as captives wrested from the righteous (the congregation of the righteous), as Meier thinks, taking tsaddı̄q as the gen. obj.; still less as captives carried off by the righteous one, i.e., the Chaldean, for the Chaldean, even regarded as the accomplisher of the righteous judgment of God, is not tsaddı̄q, but "wicked" (Habakkuk 1:13); but merely as a host of captives consisting of righteous men (Hitzig). The divine answer, Isaiah 49:25, Isaiah 49:26 : "Yea, thus saith Jehovah, Even the captive hosts of a giant are wrested from him, and the booty of a tyrant escapes: and I will make war upon him that warreth with thee, and I will bring salvation to thy children. And I feed them that pain thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as if with new wine; and all flesh sees that I Jehovah am thy Saviour, and that thy Redeemer is the Mighty One of Jacob." We might take the kı̄ in Isaiah 49:25 as a simple affirmative, but it is really to be taken as preceded by a tacit intermediate thought. Rosenmller's explanation is the correct one: "that which is hardly credible shall take place, for thus hath Jehovah said." He has also given the true interpretation of gam: "although this really seems incredible, yet I will give it effect." Ewald, on the contrary, has quite missed the sense of Isaiah 49:24, Isaiah 49:25, which he gives as follows: "The booty in men which a hero has taken in war, may indeed be taken from him again; but Jehovah will never let the booty that He takes from the Chaldean (viz., Israel) be wrested from Him again." This is inadmissible, for the simple reason that it presupposes the emendation עריץ שׁבי עריץ noita; and this 'ârı̄ts is quite unsuitable, partly because it would be Jehovah to whom the case supposed referred, and still more, because the correspondence in character between Isaiah 49:24 and Isaiah 49:14 is thereby destroyed. The gibbōr and 'ârı̄ts is called יריבך in Isaiah 49:25, with direct reference to Zion. This is a noun formed from the future, like Jareb in Hosea 5:13 and Hosea 10:6 - a name chosen as the distinctive epithet of the Asiatic emperor (probably a name signifying "king Fighting-cock"). The self-laceration threatened against the Chaldean empire recals to mind Isaiah 9:19-20, and Zechariah 11:9, and has as revolting a sound as Numbers 23:24 and Zechariah 9:15 -passages which Daumer and Ghillany understand in the cannibal sense which they appear to have, whereas what they understand literally is merely a hyperbolical figure. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that the Old Testament church was a nation, and that the spirit of revelation in the Old Testament assumed the national form, which it afterwards shattered to pieces. Knobel points to the revolt of the Hyrcanians and several satraps, who fought on the side of Cyrus against their former rulers (Cyrop. iv 2, 6, v. 1-3). All this will be subservient to that salvation and redemption, which form the historical aim of Jehovah and the irresistible work of the Mighty One of Jacob. The name of God which we meet with here, viz., the Mighty One of Jacob, only occurs again in Isaiah 1:24, and shows who is the author of the prophecy which is concluded here. The first half set forth, in the servant of Jehovah, the mediator of Israel's restoration and of the conversion of the heathen, and closed with an appeal to the heaven and the earth to rejoice with the ransomed church. The second half (Isaiah 49:14-26) rebukes the despondency of Zion, which fancies itself forgotten of Jehovah, by pointing to Jehovah's more than maternal love, and the superabundant blessing to be expected from Him. It also rebukes the doubts of Zion as to the possibility of such a redemption, by pointing to the faithfulness and omnipotence of the God of Israel, who will cause the exiles to be wrested from the Chaldean, and their tormentors to devour one another. The following chapter commences a fresh train of ideas.
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