I, even I, am he that comforts you: who are you, that you should be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I, even I.—The iterated pronoun emphasises the true grounds of confidence. If God be with us, what matter is it who may be against us? The enemies are mortal and weak; the Protector is the Eternal and the Strong.Isaiah 51:12-13. I, even I, am he that comforteth you — “They prayed,” says Henry, “for the operations of his power: he answers them with the consolations of his grace; which may well be accepted as an equivalent. I, even I, he says, will do it: he had ordered his ministers to do it, chap. 40:1; but, because they cannot reach the heart, he takes the work into his own hands; he will do it himself. And those whom he comforts, are comforted indeed.” Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid, &c. — How unreasonable and distrustful art thou, O my church, how unlike to thyself! How unsuitable are these despondences to thy professions and obligations! Afraid of a man that shall die, &c. — Of a weak, mortal, and perishing creature. And forgettest the Lord thy Maker — Dost not consider the infinite power of that God who made thee, and who will plead thy cause; that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth — And therefore hath all the hosts and all the powers of both at his command and disposal. And hast feared continually every day — Hast been in a state of continual alarm and disquietude; because of the fury of the oppressor — It is true there is an oppressor, and he is furious, designing, it may be, to do thee a mischief, and therefore it will be thy wisdom to be on thy guard against him: but thou art afraid of him, as if he were ready to destroy — As if it were in his power to destroy thee in a moment, and he were just now going to effect his purpose, and there were no possibility of preventing it. And where is the fury of the oppressor? — What is become of the power and rage of the Babylonians? Are they not vanished away? Are they not broken, and thou delivered? He speaks of the thing as already done, because it should certainly and suddenly be done.
Of a man that shall die - God your comforter will endure forever. But all men - even the most mighty - must soon die. And if God is our protector, what occasion can we have to fear what a mere mortal can do to us?
And of the son of man - This phrase is common in the Hebrew Scriptures, and means the same as man.
Shall be made as grass - They shall perish as grass does that is cut down at mid-day (see the notes at Isaiah 40:6-7).
son of man—frail and dying as his parent Adam.
be made as grass—wither as grass (Isa 40:6, 7).Who art thou? how unreasonable and distrustful art thou, O my church! how unlike to thyself! how unsuitable in these despondencies unto thy own professions and obligations!
Of the son of man which shall be made as grass; of a weak mortal and perishing creature. 2 Corinthians 1:3,
who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die; a poor faint hearted creature indeed, to be afraid of a frail mortal dying man; which is the case of every man, even of the greatest of men, of the kings and princes of the earth, who all die like other men; the most proud and haughty tyrants, the fierce and furious persecutors of the people of God. Perhaps the Roman Pagan persecutors may be had in view, whose edicts were very terrible to the first Christians, whose persecutions were very violent and furious, and the tortures and deaths they put them to were very dreadful; and which put them in great fear though they had no reason to fear them that could destroy the body, and do no more; and the rather, since these were mortal men, and did die, and their persecutions came to an end. Or it may be, the man of sin, the son of perdition, antichrist, is here referred to, who in his time has made all to tremble at him, Revelation 13:3 but must die, and his power too, and will be destroyed with the breath of Christ's mouth, and the brightness of his coming; and therefore his church and people have no reason to be afraid of him:
and of the son of man, which shall be made as grass; as weak as that, which cannot stand before the scythe, is cut down, and tossed about, and trampled upon, and made hay of, and becomes the food of beasts, Psalm 90:5. Or the words may be rendered, "and of the son of man, to whom grass shall be given"; (r) which if understood of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, of whom the people of the Jews were afraid, and who was a type of antichrist, it was literally true of him, Daniel 4:32.I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. I am he that comforteth you] Cf. Isaiah 40:1, Isaiah 49:13. The Israelites are here addressed as individuals; this gives place immediately to the feminine collective, Who art thou &c.? and this again in Isaiah 51:13 to the masc. sing. The rhetorical question means simply “How is it that thou fearest” &c.? (on the use of the consec. impf. see Davidson’s Syntax § 51. R. 3). For made as grass we may translate “given up (to destruction) as grass” (cf. ch. Isaiah 40:6).
12, 13. An expostulation with the exiles, who having the Almighty Creator for their God, live in constant terror of being destroyed by their oppressors.
12–16. Jehovah again speaks as the comforter of His people. That the passage is a direct answer to the importunate appeal of Isaiah 51:9 f., seems probable, although it cannot be confidently affirmed; it is at all events virtually an answer. A point of contact might be found in Jehovah’s assertion of His power over the sea in Isaiah 51:15; but the connexion of ideas in the last three verses is difficult to make out, and the text itself probably confused.Verses 12-16. - AN ADDRESS OF GOD TO HIS CAPTIVE PEOPLE. There is no very clear connection between this passage and the preceding, to which it is certainly not an answer. God comforts the captives under the oppression which they are suffering
(1) by reminding them of their oppressors' weakness and short-livedness;
(2) by assuring them of speedy deliverance (ver. 14); and
(3) by impressing upon them his own power as shown in the past, which is a guarantee that he will protect them in the future (vers. 15, 16). Ver. 12. - I am he that comforteth you (comp. ver. 3, and the comment ad loc). Who art thou? Art thou a poor, weak, powerless, unprotected people, which might well tremble at the powerful Babylonians: or art thou not rather a people under the special protection of Jehovah, bound, therefore, to fear no one? As grass (comp. Isaiah 37:27; Isaiah 11:6-8). Job 14:2), to rub to pieces, to crumble to pieces, or mangle; Aquila, ἠλοήθησαν, from ἀλοᾶν, to thresh. As melâchı̄m signifies rags, the figure of a garment that has fallen to pieces, which was then quite ready to hand (Isaiah 50:9), presented itself from the natural association of ideas. כּמו־כן, however, cannot mean "in like manner" (lxx, Targ., Jerome); for if we keep to the figure of a garment falling to pieces, the figure is a very insipid one; and if we refer it to the fate of the earth generally, the thought which it offers is a very tame one. The older expositors were not even acquainted with what is now the favourite explanation, viz., "as gnats perish" (Hitzig, Ewald, Umbreit, Knobel, Stier, etc.); since the singular of kinnı̄m is no more kēn than the singular of בּיצים is בּיץ. The gnat (viz., a species of stinging gnat, probably the diminutive but yet very troublesome species which is called akol uskut, "eat and be silent," in Egyptian) is called kinnâh, as the talmudic usage shows, where the singular, which does not happen to be met with in the Old Testament, is found in the case of kinnı̄m as well as in that of bētsı̄m.
(Note: Kinnâm, in Exodus 8:13-14, whether it be a collective plural or a singular, also proves nothing in support of kēn, any more than middâh in Job 11:9 (which see) in favour of mad, in the sense of measure. It does not follow, that because a certain form lies at the foundation of a derivative, it must have been current in ordinary usage.)
We must explain the word in the same manner as in 2 Samuel 23:5; Numbers 13:33; Job 9:35. In all these passages kēn merely signifies "so" (ita, sic); but just as in the classical languages, these words often derive their meaning from the gesture with which they are accompanied (e.g., in Terence's Eunuch: Cape hoc flabellum et ventulum sic facito). This is probably Rckert's opinion, when he adopts the rendering: and its inhabitants "like so" (so wie so) do they die. But "like so" is here equivalent to "like nothing." That the heavens and the earth do not perish without rising again in a renewed form, is a thought which may naturally be supplied, and which is distinctly expressed in Isaiah 51:16; Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22. Righteousness (tsedâqâh) and salvation (yeshū‛âh) are the heavenly powers, which acquire dominion through the overthrow of the ancient world, and become the foundations of the new (2 Peter 3:13). That the tsedâqâh will endure for ever, and the yeshū‛âh will not be broken (yēchath, as in Isaiah 7:8, confringetur, whereas in Isaiah 51:7 the meaning is consternemini), is a prospect that opens after the restoration of the new world, and which indirectly applies to men who survive the catastrophe, having become partakers of righteousness and salvation. For righteousness and salvation require beings in whom to exert their power.
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