Isaiah 52:5 Commentaries: "Now therefore, what do I have here," declares the LORD, "seeing that My people have been taken away without cause?" Again the LORD declares, "Those who rule over them howl, and My name is continually blasphemed all day long.
Isaiah 52:5
Now therefore, what have I here, said the LORD, that my people is taken away for nothing? they that rule over them make them to howl, said the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) What have I here . . .?—i.e., What have I to do? As in Genesis 11:4, Jehovah is represented as deliberating after the manner of men. Again the people have been gratuitously, wantonly attacked; and their groans mingle with the taunting blasphemies of their conquerors. Has not the time come for Him to vindicate His outraged Majesty?

52:1-12 The gospel proclaims liberty to those bound with fears. Let those weary and heavy laden under the burden of sin, find relief in Christ, shake themselves from the dust of their doubts and fears, and loose themselves from those bands. The price paid by the Redeemer for our salvation, was not silver or gold, or corruptible things, but his own precious blood. Considering the freeness of this salvation, and how hurtful to temporal comfort sins are, we shall more value the redemption which is in Christ. Do we seek victory over every sin, recollecting that the glory of God requires holiness in every follower of Christ? The good news is, that the Lord Jesus reigns. Christ himself brought these tidings first. His ministers proclaim these good tidings: keeping themselves clean from the pollutions of the world, they are beautiful to those to whom they are sent. Zion's watchmen could scarcely discern any thing of God's favour through the dark cloud of their afflictions; but now the cloud is scattered, they shall plainly see the performance. Zion's waste places shall then rejoice; all the world will have the benefit. This is applied to our salvation by Christ. Babylon is no place for Israelites. And it is a call to all in the bondage of sin and Satan, to use the liberty Christ has proclaimed. They were to go with diligent haste, not to lose time nor linger; but they were not to go with distrustful haste. Those in the way of duty, are under God's special protection; and he that believes this, will not hasten for fear.Now, therefore, what have I here? - In Babylon, referring to the captivity of the Jews there. The idea is, that a state of things existed there which demanded his interposition as really as it did when his people had been oppressed by the Egyptians, or by the Assyrian. His people had been taken away for nought; they were subject to cruel oppressions; and his own name was continually blasphemed. In this state of things, it is inferred, that he would certainly come to their rescue, and that his own perfections as well as their welfare demanded that he should interpose to redeem them. The phrase, 'what have I here?' is equivalent to saying, what shall I do? what am I properly called on to do? or what reason is there now in Babylon for my interposition to rescue my people? It is implied, that such was the state of things, that God felt that there was something that demanded his interposition.

That my people is taken away for nought - This was one thing existing in Babylon that demanded his interposition. His people had been made captive by the Chaldeans, and were now suffering under their oppressions. This had been done 'for nought;' that is, it had been done without any just claim. It was on their part a mere act of gross and severe oppression, and this demanded the interposition of a righteous God.

They that rule over them make them to howl - Lowth renders this, 'They that are lords over them make their boast of it.' Noyes renders it, 'And their tyrants exult.' The Septuagint renders it, 'My people are taken away for nought: wonder ye, and raise a mournful cry' (ὀλολύζετε ololuzete). Jerome renders it, 'Their lords act unjustly, and they therefore howl when they are delivered to torments.' Aben Ezra supposes that by 'their lords' here, or those who rule over them, are meant the rulers of the Jewish people, and that the idea is, that they lament and howl over the calamities and oppressions of the people. But it is probable, after all, that our translators have given the true sense of the text, and that the idea is, that they were suffering such grievous oppressions in Babylon as to make them lift up the cry of lamentation and of grief. This was a reason why God should interpose as he had done in former times, and bring deliverance.

And my name continually every day is blasphemed - That is, in Babylon. The proud and oppressive Babylonians delight to add to the sorrows of the exiles by reproaching the name of their God, and by saying that he was unable to defend them and their city from ruin. This is the third reason why God would interpose to rescue them. The three reasons in this verse are, that they had been taken away for nought; that they were suffering grievous and painful oppression; and that the name of God was reproached. On all these accounts he felt that he had something to do in Babylon, and that his interposition was demanded.

5. what have I here—that is, what am I called on to do? The fact "that My people is taken away (into captivity; Isa 49:24, 25) for naught" (by gratuitous oppression, Isa 52:4; also Isa 52:3, and see on [844]Isa 52:3) demands My interposition.

they that rule—or "tyrannize," namely, Babylon, literal and mystical.

make … to howl—or, raise a cry of exultation over them [Maurer].

blasphemed—namely, in Babylon: God's reason for delivering His people, not their goodness, but for the sake of His holy name (Eze 20:9, 14).

What have I here? Heb. What to me here? the sense is either,

1. What do I here? Why do I sit still here, and not go to Babylon to punish the Babylonians, and to deliver my people? Or,

2. What honour have I by suffering this injury to be done to my people?

Is taken away, were carried away captive by the Babylonians,

for nought; without any provocation or pretence of right. See before on Isaiah 52:3. They that rule over then, who by their office are obliged to deal justly and tenderly with their subjects,

make them to howl, by their tyrannical and unmerciful usage of them.

My name continually every day is blasphemed; instead of that praise and service which the Babylonians owe me for all their successes and conquests, they blaspheme me, as if I wanted either power or good-will to save my people out of their hands. Now therefore what have I here, saith the Lord, that my people is taken away for nought?.... Or what do I get by it, that my people should be taken and held in captivity without cause? I am no gainer, but a loser by it, as it afterwards appears; and therefore why should I sit still, and delay the deliverance of my people any longer? but as I have delivered Israel out of Egypt, and the Jews from Babylon, so will I deliver my people out of mystical Babylon, spiritually called Sodom and Egypt.

They that rule over them cause them to howl, saith the Lord; they that hath carried them captive, and exercised a tyrannical power over them, cause them to howl under their bondage and slavery, as the Israelites formerly in Egypt; wherefore the Lord is moved with compassion to them, and since neither he nor they were gainers, but losers by their captivity, he determines to deliver them: or it may be rendered, "they cause its rulers to howl" (i), or his rulers howl; not the common people only, but their governors, civil and ecclesiastical; so Aben Ezra interprets it not of Heathen rulers, but of the great men of Israel:

and my name continually every day is blasphemed; by ascribing their extent of power and authority, their dominions and conquests, not to the Lord, but to their idols, whom they worship, to such or such a saint; opening their mouths in blasphemy against God, his name and tabernacle, and his people, Revelation 13:5. The Targum is,

"and always, all the day, because of the worship of my name, they provoke.''

The Septuagint is, "for you always my name is blasphemed among the Gentiles"; see Romans 2:24.

(i) "dominatores ejus ululare facient", Montanus; "dominus ipsius ejulant", Junius & Tremellius, Vitringa; "ululant", Piscator; "qui habent potestatem in eum ejulant", Cocceius.

Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nothing? they that rule over them make them to wail, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is {f} blasphemed.

(f) That is, by the wicked, who think that I have no power to deliver them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. Now therefore] Rather, But now, accentuating the gravity of the present situation. Exile and oppression were indeed no new experiences for Israel (Isaiah 52:4), but no such overwhelming disaster as this had ever befallen it hitherto.

what have I here &c.] The sentence may be variously understood. The main idea obviously is that the state of things described in what follows is not to be endured, being inconsistent with the honour of Jehovah. The formula “What is there to me?” expresses a strong sense of incongruity between what is and what ought to be (see Isaiah 3:15, Isaiah 22:1; Isaiah 22:16), and we may render either, “What am I about (Isaiah 22:1) here (in Babylonia)?” or, more generally, “What do I find here?” i.e. in the existing position of affairs, as contrasted with the historic parallels in Isaiah 52:4. The last is perhaps to be preferred. The meaning can hardly be, “What have I to do here (ch. Isaiah 22:16) now that my people is taken away?”

that (better for) my people is taken away] destroyed outright (ch. Isaiah 53:8).

they that rule over them (the Chaldæans) make them to howl (R.V. do howl)] The R.V. rightly avoids the causative sense of the verb, which has no support in usage. On the other hand, it is nowhere else used of a shout of exultation, as it must be here; comp. with Gesenius and others, “laetis ululare triumphis” (Lucan, 6, 261). In Syriac also the word appears occasionally to undergo a similar modification.

my name … is blasphemed] lit. despised. (The form should probably be pointed as part. Pual.) The meaning is that the calamities of Israel were attributed by the heathen to the impotence of their God, and thus the majesty of Jehovah was impaired,—a thought frequently expressed by Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 36:20 &c.). The words are cited in Romans 2:24.

continually all the day] (R.V.), as ch. Isaiah 51:13.Verse 5. - What have I here? rather, what have r to do here? i.e. what is the task before me - the work that I have to perform? There are three principal considerations by which the answer to this question has to be determined.

(1) The Babylonians have obtained possession of the Israelites without purchase - for nought;

(2) they use their authority harshly and brutally; and

(3) they continually blaspheme the Name of Jehovah. All three are grounds for bringing the captivity to an end, and coming forward with the cry of a deliverer, "Here I am." Make them to howl; rather, howl; i.e. insult over the captives with shouts and yells of triumph. The prophet is speaking of the Babylonian oppressors, not of the native "rulers," who exercised a certain amount of authority over the captives (see Delitzsch and Cheyne). My Name... is blasphemed. Cruel taskmasters vexed the captives by insulting their God. Just as we found above, that the exclamation "awake" (‛ūrı̄), which the church addresses to the arm of Jehovah, grew out of the preceding great promises; so here there grows out of the same another "awake" (hith‛ōrerı̄), which the prophet addresses to Jerusalem in the name of his God, and the reason for which is given in the form of new promises. "Wake thyself up, wake thyself up, stand up, O Jerusalem, thou that hast drunk out of the hand of Jehovah the goblet of His fury: the goblet cup of reeling hast thou drunk, sipped out. There was none who guided her of all the children that she had brought forth; and none who took her by the hand of all the children that she had brought up. There were two things that happened to thee; who should console thee? Devastation, and ruin, and famine, and the sword: how should I comfort thee? Thy children were benighted, lay at the corners of all the streets like a snared antelope: as those who were full of the fury of Jehovah, the rebuke of thy God. Therefore hearken to this, O wretched and drunken, but not with wine: Thus saith thy Lord, Jehovah, and thy God that defendeth His people, Behold, I take out of thine hand the goblet of reeling, the goblet cup of my fury: thou shalt not continue to drink it any more. And I put it into the hand of thy tormentors; who said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over; and thou madest thy back like the ground, and like a public way for those who go over it." In Isaiah 51:17, Jerusalem is regarded as a woman lying on the ground in the sleep of faintness and stupefaction. She has been obliged to drink, for her punishment, the goblet filled with the fury of the wrath of God, the goblet which throws those who drink it into unconscious reeling; and this goblet, which is called qubba‛ath kōs (κύπελλον ποτηιρίου, a genitive construction, though appositional in sense), for the purpose of giving greater prominence to its swelling sides, she has not only had to drink, but to drain quite clean (cf., Psalm 75:9, and more especially Ezekiel 23:32-34). Observe the plaintive falling of the tone in shâthı̄th mâtsı̄th. In this state of unconscious stupefaction was Jerusalem lying, without any help on the part of her children; there was not one who came to guide the stupefied one, or took her by the hand to lift her up. The consciousness of the punishment that their sins had deserved, and the greatness of the sufferings that the punishment had brought, pressed so heavily upon all the members of the congregation, that not one of them showed the requisite cheerfulness and strength to rise up on her behalf, so as to make her fate at any rate tolerable to her, and ward off the worst calamities. What elegiac music we have here in the deep cadences: mikkol-bânı̄m yâlâdâh, mikkol-bânı̄m giddēlâh! So terrible was her calamity, that no one ventured to break the silence of the terror, or give expression to their sympathy. Even the prophet, humanly speaking, is obliged to exclaim, "How (mı̄, literally as who, as in Amos 7:2, Amos 7:5) should I comfort thee!" He knew of no equal or greater calamity, to which he could point Jerusalem, according to the principle which experience confirms, solamen miseris socios habuisse malorum. This is the real explanation, according to Lamentations 2:13, though we must not therefore take mı̄ as an accusative equals bemı̄, as Hitzig does. The whole of the group is in the tone of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. There were two kinds of things (i.e., two kinds of evils: mishpâchōth, as in Jeremiah 15:3) that had happened to her (קרא equals קרה, with which it is used interchangeably even in the Pentateuch) - namely, the devastation and ruin of their city and their land, famine and the sword to her children, their inhabitants.

In Isaiah 51:20 this is depicted with special reference to the famine. Her children were veiled (‛ullaph, deliquium pati, lit., obvelari), and lay in a state of unconsciousness like corpses at the corner of every street, where this horrible spectacle presented itself on every hand. They lay ketho' mikhmâr (rendered strangely and with very bad taste in the lxx, viz., like a half-cooked turnip; but given correctly by Jerome, sicut oryx, as in the lxx at Deuteronomy 14:5, illaqueatus), i.e., like a netted antelope (see at Job 39:9), i.e., one that has been taken in a hunter's net and lies there exhausted, after having almost strangled itself by ineffectual attempts to release itself. The appositional וגו המלאים, which refers to בניך, gives as a quippe qui the reason for all this suffering. It is the punishment decreed by God, which has pierced their very heart, and got them completely in its power. This clause assigning the reason, shows that the expression "thy children" (bânayikh) is not to be taken here in the same manner as in Lamentations 2:11-12; Lamentations 4:3-4, viz., as referring to children in distinction from adults; the subject is a general one, as in Isaiah 5:25. With lâkhē̄n (therefore, Isaiah 51:21) the address turns from the picture of sufferings to the promise, in the view of which the cry was uttered, in Isaiah 51:17, to awake and arise. Therefore, viz., because she had endured the full measure of God's wrath, she is to hear what His mercy, that has now begun to move, purposes to do. The connecting form shekhurath stands here, according to Ges. 116, 1, notwithstanding the (epexegetical) Vav which comes between. We may see from Isaiah 29:9 how thoroughly this "drunk, but not with wine," is in Isaiah's own style (from this distinction between a higher and lower sphere of related facts, compare Isaiah 47:14; Isaiah 48:10). The intensive plural 'ădōnı̄m is only applied to human lords in other places in the book of Isaiah; but in this passage, in which Jerusalem is described as a woman, it is used once of Jehovah. Yârı̄bh ‛ammō is an attributive clause, signifying "who conducts the cause of His people," i.e., their advocate or defender. He takes the goblet of reeling and wrath, which Jerusalem has emptied, for ever out of her hand, and forces it newly filled upon her tormentors. There is no ground whatever for reading מוניך (from ינה, to throw down, related to יון, whence comes יון, a precipitate or sediment) in the place of מוגי (pret. hi. of יגה, (laborare, dolere), that favourite word of the Lamentations of Jeremiah (Lamentations 1:5, Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 3:32, cf., Isaiah 1:4), the tone of which we recognise here throughout, as Lowth, Ewald, and Umbreit propose after the Targum ליך מונן דהוו. The words attributed to the enemies, shechı̄ vena‛ăbhorâh (from shâchâh, the kal of which only occurs here), are to be understood figuratively, as in Psalm 129:3. Jerusalem has been obliged to let her children be degraded into the defenceless objects of despotic tyranny and caprice, both at home in their own conquered country, and abroad in exile. But the relation is reversed now. Jerusalem is delivered, after having been punished, and the instruments of her punishment are given up to the punishment which their pride deserved.

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