Isaiah 51:21 Commentaries: Therefore, please hear this, you afflicted, Who are drunk, but not with wine:
Isaiah 51:21
Therefore hear now this, you afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine:
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(21) Drunken, but not with wine . . .—Same phrase as in Isaiah 29:9.

Isaiah 51:21-23. Hear, thou drunken, but not with wine — But with the cup of God’s fury, mentioned Isaiah 51:17. Thus saith the Lord — That is, Jehovah; he that is able to help thee, and hath wherewithal to relieve thee; thy Lord — That hath an incontestable right to thee, and will not alienate it; thy God — In covenant with thee, and that hath undertaken to make thee happy; that pleadeth the cause of his people — As their patron and protector, who, though he hath been angry with, and hath chastised thee, is now reconciled to thee, and will maintain thy cause against all thine enemies. I have taken out of thy hand the cup of trembling — The bitter, intoxicating cup of my wrath; thou shalt no more drink it again — No more lie under such judgments after thy prosperity in the latter days, Isaiah 52:1. But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee — Compare Isaiah 49:26; Jeremiah 25:29; Revelation 18:6. Which have said to thy soul, Bow down, &c. — Lie down upon the ground, that we may trample upon thee. “A very strong and most expressive description of the insolent pride of eastern conquerors, which, though it may seem greatly exaggerated, yet hardly exceeds the strict truth. See Joshua 10:24; Jdg 1:7. The Emperor Valerianus, being, through treachery, taken prisoner by Sapor, king of Persia, was treated by him as the basest and most abject slave: for the Persian monarch commanded the unhappy Roman to bow himself down, and offer his back, on which he set his foot, in order to mount his chariot or horse, whenever he had occasion.” — Bishop Lowth. 51:17-23 God calls upon his people to mind the things that belong to their everlasting peace. Jerusalem had provoked God, and was made to taste the bitter fruits. Those who should have been her comforters, were their own tormentors. They have no patience by which to keep possesion of their own souls, nor any confidence in God's promise, by which to keep possession of its comfort. Thou art drunken, not as formerly, with the intoxicating cup of Babylon's idolatries, but with the cup of affliction. Know, then, the cause of God's people may for a time seem as lost, but God will protect it, by convincing the conscience, or confounding the projects, of those that strive against it. The oppressors required souls to be subjected to them, that every man should believe and worship as they would have them. But all they could gain by violence was, that people were brought to outward hypocritical conformity, for consciences cannot be forced.And drunken, but not with wine - Overcome and prostrate, but not under the influence of intoxicating drink. They were prostrate by the wrath of God. 21. drunken … not with wine—(Isa 29:9; compare Isa 51:17, 20, here; La 3:15). But with the cup of God’s fury, mentioned Isaiah 51:17Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted,.... By Babylon, by antichrist and his followers; hear, for thy comfort, the following prophecy:

and drunken, but not with wine; not with wine in a literal sense; nor with the wine of the fornication of the whore of Rome; nor with idolatry, as the kings of the earth are said to be, Revelation 17:2 but, as the Targum expresses it, with tribulation; with afflictions at the hand of God, and persecutions from men.

Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunk, but {r} not with wine:

(r) But with trouble and fear.

21. hear now this] see ch. Isaiah 47:8.

drunken, but not with wine] Cf. ch. Isaiah 29:9.

21–23. The message of comfort.Verse 21. - Drunken, but not with wine (comp. Isaiah 29:9; and see above, ver. 17, which shows that the appearance of drunkenness had been produced by Jerusalem drinking the cup of God's wrath). In the second half the promise commences again, but with more distinct reference to the oppression of the exiles and the sufferings of Jerusalem. Jehovah Himself begins to speak now, setting His seal upon what is longed and hoped for. "I am your comforter: who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal who will die, and of a son of man who is made a blade of grass; that thou shouldst forget Jehovah thy Creator, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth; that thou shouldst be afraid continually all the day of the fury of the tormentor, as he aims to destroy? and where is the fury of the tormentor left? He that is bowed down is quickly set loose, and does not die to the grave, and his bread does not fail him; as truly as I Jehovah am thy God, who frighteneth up the sea, so that its waves roar: Jehovah of hosts is His name." הוּא after אנכי אנכי is an emphatic repetition, and therefore a strengthening of the subject (αὐτὸς ἐγώ), as above, in Isaiah 51:10, in אתּ־היא. From this major, that Jehovah is the comforter of His church, and by means of a minor, that whoever has Him for a comforter has no need to fear, the conclusion is drawn that the church has no cause to fear. Consequently we cannot adopt Knobel's explanation, "How small thou art, that thou art afraid." The meaning is rather, "Is it really the case with thee (i.e., art thou then so small, so forsaken), that thou hast any need to fear" (fut. consec., according to Ges. 129, 1; cf., ki, Exodus 3:11; Judges 9:28)? The attributive sentence tâmūth (who will die) brings out the meaning involved in the epithet applied to man, viz., 'ĕnōsh (compare in the Persian myth Gayomard, from the old Persian gaya meretan, mortal life); חציר equals כּחציר (Psalm 37:2; Psalm 90:5; Psalm 103:15; compare above, Isaiah 40:6-8) is an equation instead of a comparison. In Isaiah 51:12 the address is thrown into a feminine form, in Isaiah 51:13 into a masculine one; Zion being the object in the former, and (what is the same thing) Israel in the latter: that thou forgettest thy Creator, who is also the almighty Maker of the universe, and soarest about in constant endless alarm at the wrath of the tormentor, whilst he is aiming to destroy (pichad, contremiscere, as in Proverbs 28:14; ka'ăsher as in Psalm 66:7; Numbers 27:14, lit., according as; kōnēn, viz., his arrows, or even his bow, as in Psalm 11:2; Psalm 7:13, cf., Isaiah 21:13). We must not translate this quasi disposuisset, which is opposed to the actual fact, although syntactically possible (Job 10:19; Zechariah 10:6). The question with which the fear is met, "And where is the fury of the tormentor?" looks into the future: "There is not a trace of him to be seen, he is utterly swept away." If hammētsı̄q signifies the Chaldean, Isaiah 51:14, in which the warning passes into a promise, just as in the first half the promise passed into a warning, is not to be understood as referring to oppression by their own countrymen, who were more heathenish than Israelitish in their disposition, as Knobel supposes; but tsō‛eh (from tsâ‛âh, to stoop or bend) is an individualizing description of the exiles, who were in captivity in Babylon, and some of them actually in prison (see Isaiah 42:7, Isaiah 42:22). Those who were lying there in fetters, and were therefore obliged to bend, hastened to be loosed, i.e., would speedily be set at liberty (the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus may be referred to here); they would not die and fall into the pit (constr. praegnans), nor would their bread fail; that is to say, if we regard the two clauses as the dissection of one thought (which is not necessary, however, though Hitzig supports it), "he will not die of starvation." The pledge of this is to be found in the all-sufficiency of Jehovah, who throws the sea into a state of trembling (even by a threatening word, geârâh; רגע is the construct of the participle, with the tone upon the last syllable, as in Leviticus 11:7; Psalm 94:9 : see Br's Psalter, p. 132, from râga‛, tremefacere), so that its waves roar (cf., Jeremiah 31:35, and the original passage in Job 26:12).
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