Isaiah 60:6
The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.
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(6) The multitude of camels . . .—The verse paints the commerce of the East, as Isaiah 60:5 had described that of the West. For the camels and riches of Midian, see Judges 6:5; Judges 8:26. “Ephah” appears in Genesis 25:4 among the sons of Midian. “Sheba” keeps up its traditional fame for gold and incense (Psalm 72:10; Strabo xvi. 4, 19).

Isaiah 60:6-7. The multitude of camels — The treasure that is brought upon camels. By these, and such like figurative expressions in several verses of this chapter, is implied the coming in of all nations to Christ, and therefore they are brought in as presenting the chief commodities of their respective countries. The dromedaries — Or, also, or, even the dromedaries; which are a sort of lesser camel, so called from their swiftness in running. For it is said by the Arabs that they will run as far in one day as their best horses will do in nine; and therefore they are chiefly used for riding: for which they are the more fit, because, as Pliny observes, they can endure the want of water four days together. Of Midian and Ephah — The Midianites and Ephahites were descended from Abraham, by Keturah, and dwelt beyond Arabia, where camels were very numerous, Jdg 7:12. All they from Sheba — A country in Arabia Felix, whose queen it was that came to visit Solomon, and her bringing gifts might be a type of this. They shall bring gold and incense — The principal commodities with which this country abounded, by which we are to understand whatever is precious. All the flocks of Kedar — Arabia Petrea, or stony Arabia, the people inhabiting which being principally shepherds. They shall come up with acceptance — They shall not now, as heretofore, be rejected. I will glorify the house of my glory — He alludes to the temple, but must be understood as intending the gospel church, built of living stones, of which the temple at Jerusalem, with all the splendour of its ornaments, and the whole multitude of its sacrifices and oblations, was but a typical or shadowy representation.

60:1-8 As far as we have the knowledge of God in us, and the favour of God towards us, our light is come. And if God's glory is seen upon us to our honour, we ought, not only with our lips, but in our lives, to return its praise. We meet with nothing in the history of the Jews which can be deemed a fulfilment of the prophecy in this chapter; we must conclude it relates principally to future events. It predicts the purity and enlargement of the church. The conversion of souls is here described. They fly to Christ, to the church, to the word and ordinances, as doves to their own home; thither they fly for refuge and shelter, thither they fly for rest. What a pleasant sight to see poor souls hastening to Christ!The multitude of camels - Lowth renders this, 'An inundation of camels.' The Hebrew word properly denotes an inundation or overflowing of waters, but it is not improperly applied to a numerous caravan or company of animals. The camel is a well-known useful animal that constitutes the principal beast of burden in Arabia, and that may, indeed, be said to constitute its wealth. It is frequently spoken of as 'the ship of the desert.' The description here is strictly applicable to Arabia; and, undoubtedly, the prophet meant to say, that that country would be blessed with the true religion, and that her merchandise and wealth would become tributary to the church of God.

Shall cover thee - Shall come in such multitudes as to fill thee. and to be spread out all over thee. Thus we speak of a land being covered with flocks and herds.

The dromedaries - The dromedary is a species of camel that is found principally in Arabia, with one bunch or protuberance on its back, in distinction from the Bactrian camel, which has two bunches (Webster). 'It is found,' says Dr. Shaw, 'in Barbary, though much more rarely there than in the Levant. It is chiefly remarkable for its prodigious swiftness; the Arabs affirming that it will run over as much ground in one day as one of their best horses will perform in eight or ten. The Shiekh who conducted us to Mount Sinai rode upon a camel of this kind, and would frequently divert us with an instance of its great abilities. For he would depart from our caravan, reconnoitre another just in view, and return to us again in less than a quarter of an hour. It differeth from the common camel in being of a finer and rounder shape, and in having on its back a lesser bunch or protuberance.' (Shaw's Travels, p. 240.) Hence, in Jeremiah 2:23, the prophet speaks of the 'swift dromedary.' The idea here is, that these fleet animals, so valuable to the inhabitants of Arabia, would come bringing their merchandise for the service of the church of God; that is, the wealth of Midian and Ephah would be devoted to him.

Midian - Midian was the fourth son of Abraham and Keturah Genesis 25:2, and was the father of the Midianites. The Midianites are frequently mentioned in the Scriptures (Genesis 37:28-36; Numbers 25:17; Numbers 31:2; Judges 6:7-16; Judges 7:23, Judges 7:25, et al.) As early as the time of Jacob they were employed in traffic, and were associated with the Ishmaelites in this business, for it was to a company of these people that Joseph was sold by his brethren Genesis 37:28. 'The original and appropriate district of the Midianites seems to have been on the east side of the Elanitic branch of the Red Sea, where the Arabian geographers place the city of Madian. But they appear to have spread themselves northward, probably along the desert coast of Mount Seir, to the vicinity of the Moabites; and on the other side, also, they covered a territory extending to the neighborhood of Mount Sinai' (Robinson's Calmet). Generally, the names Midianites and Ishmaelites seem to have been nearly synonymous.

Ephah - Ephah was the oldest son of Midian Genesis 25:4, and dwelt in Arabia Petraea, and gave name to the city of Ephah, called here by the Septuagint, Γαιφά Gaipha (Goepha). This city, and the small extent of country around it, constituted a part of Midian on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, to which the territories of Midian extended. It abounded in dromedaries and camels Judges 6:6.

All they from Sheba shall come - Sheba is celebrated in the Scriptures chiefly as the place from where the Queen of that country came to visit Solomon 1 Kings 10:1; 2 Chronicles 9:1. That it abounded in wealth, may be inferred from the train which accompanied her, and from the presents with which she came to Solomon. 'And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and much fine gold, and precious stones' 1 Kings 10:2. Whether it was the same country as Seba has been a matter of uncertainty (compare the notes at Isaiah 43:3). It is elsewhere Psalm 72:10 mentioned as a place from where presents should be brought to Solomon:

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents;

The kings of Sheba and Seha shall offer gifts.

It is usually mentioned as a place in which gold and incense abounded. 'To him shall be given the gold of Sheba Psalm 72:15; 'To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba' Jeremiah 6:20; 'The merchants of Sheba were thy merchants' Ezekiel 27:22. According to Bruce, it was situated in Abyssinia in Ethiopa, and this has been the common opinion. It was south of Egypt, and the contact between Sheba and Jerusalem was not difficult; and probably a constant traffic was maintained between the two countries. In the time of the Mamclukes, before the conquest of Egypt and Arabia by Selim, a caravan constantly set out from Abyssinia for Jerusalem (compare the notes at Isaiah 45:14).

They shall bring gold and incense - That this country abounded in incense, see the passages of Scripture referred to above. On the meaning of the wood 'incense,' see the notes at Isaiah 1:13. The idea is, that they would bring the most valuable productions of their country and devote them to God - perhaps designed to show that the wealth of Africa should yet be consecrated to the cause of the true religion.

And they shall show forth - These distant lands shall join in the worship of Yahweh.

6. camels—laden with merchandise; the camel is "the ship of the desert" (compare Isa 30:6).

cover thee—so many of them shall there be.

dromedaries—They have one hunch on the back, whereas the camel has two: distinguished for swiftness (Jer 2:23).

Midian—east of the Elanitic branch of the Red Sea, and stretching northward along Mount Seir. Associated with the Ishmaelites in traffic (Ge 37:25, 28).

Ephah—part of Midian, east of the Dead Sea. It abounded in camels (Jud 6:5).

Sheba—in Arabia-Felix, famed for frankincense and gold (Ps 72:15; Jer 6:20), which they traded in (Isa 45:14; Job 6:19; Eze 27:22).

The multitude of camels, i.e. the abundance of wealth and treasure that is brought upon camels; this being the creature the Eastern people used for carriage of their gold and spice, and other rich treasure, which are said to cover them; the like phrase with that Judges 6:5: or whereby is understood those people that did use to ride on camels, as the Arabians and the bordering countries; for by these and such-like figurative and borrowed expressions in several verses, of this chapter is particularized several nations, and by them is implied the coming in of all nations unto Christ; and therefore they are brought in as presenting the choicest commodities of their respective countries, so that we may be the better excused from speaking particularly to them in their respective places.

The dromedaries; or, also or even the dromedaries, which are a lesser sort of camel, so called from their swiftness in running, to which they are the better enabled, because, as Pliny observes, they can endure thirst four days together: q.d. They shall make all the haste imaginable in bringing their riches to thee. Of Midian and Ephah: both these Midianites and Ephaites descended from Abraham by Keturah, Genesis 25:2,4; they dwelt beyond Arabia; and camels are mentioned coming from hence, because of all places they were the most numerous here, Judges 7:12.

Sheba: this Sheba descended from Cush, the son of cursed Ham, the son of Noah, Genesis 10:6,7, from whom a certain country in Arabia Felix took its name, whose queen it was that came to visit Solomon 1 Kings 10:1; and her bringing gifts might be a type of this, Solomon being a type of Christ, of which the wise men might be the first-fruits, Mt 2.

Shall bring gold and incense; the principal commodities with which this country abounded, and by which we are to understand whatever is precious; and frankincense is only peculiar to Arabia.

They shall show forth the praises of the Lord; the motive drawing them thither being more for religion than trade.

The multitudes of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah,.... That is, multitudes of people riding on these creatures from the parts mentioned, which, abounded with them, should come and cover or fill Jerusalem, and the places about it. Midian was a son of Abraham by Keturah, and a son of Midian, Genesis 25:4 these and their posterity inhabit Arabia; and so this is a prophecy of the conversion of the Arabians that dwell in Arabia Felix, Petraea, and Deserts; and so the Targum,

"a multitude of Arabians shall cover thee round about.''

A dromedary is a lesser camel, and swifter than the others; and both are very frequent in these countries, and used in travelling. Strabo (y) calls the Arabian Scenites feeders of camels.

All they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; Sheba was another of the posterity of Abraham by Keturah, Genesis 25:3 and lived near the others; the queen of this country came to hear the wisdom of Solomon; but the people of it in the latter, day will come to a greater than he; even to Christ and to his church, and bring their gold and incense, as the wise men did to Christ, and shall honour the Lord with their substance; see Psalm 72:10,

and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord; who has called them by his grace out of Mahometan darkness, into the marvellous light of the Gospel. These were the things the Sabaeans abounded with. Strabo (z) says, that frankincense, myrrh, and cinnamon, grew with them; and that they have such an abundance of spices, that they use the branches of cinnamon, cassia, and other things, for fuel; and that some of them are so rich through merchandise, that they have very sumptuous houses, and much furniture of gold and silver, as vessels, beds, tripods, cups with covers; and even that their gates, and walls, and roofs, are adorned with ivory, gold and silver, and precious stones. And so Pliny (a) observes: that the Sabaeans are very rich in fruitful and odoriferous woods, and in mines of gold, and other things; see Ezekiel 27:22. Vitringa understands both these clauses of the camels bringing gold and incense, and praising the Lord in their way, or being the occasion of it.

(y) Geograph. l. 16. p. 528. Ed. Casaub. (z) Geograph. I. 16. p. 535. (a) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28.

The {f} multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall show forth the praises of the LORD.

(f) Meaning, that everyone will honour the Lord with that with which he is able: Signifying that it is no true serving of God unless we offer ourselves to serve his glory, and all that we have.

6. A multitude of camels] Cf. Ezekiel 26:10; Job 22:11. The word for “multitude” is used of Jehu’s small escort in 2 Kings 9:17. Perhaps “train of camels.”

dromedaries] properly “young camels.” The word does not occur in the O.T. elsewhere; amongst the Arabs it denotes, according to some of the native lexicographers, a camel less than nine years old (Lane’s Lexicon).

Ephah] a Midianite tribe (Genesis 25:4). The Midianites are often mentioned in the O.T., although nearly always (except Habakkuk 3:7) in connexion with the early history. In Genesis 37:28; Genesis 37:36 they appear as traders between the desert and Egypt (in another source—Genesis 37:25; Genesis 37:28—they are called Ishmaelites); in Exodus 2, 18 we find them occupying the Sinaitic peninsula; in Numbers 22, 25, 31 on the east of the Jordan; in Judges 6-8 their hordes invade Palestine. Their proper territory is said to have been east of the Gulf of Akaba, where Ptolemy and the Arabian geographers mention a city of Madian.

all they from Sheba] i.e. (probably) all those of Sheba; although the Hebrew accentuation implies that the subject is the “dromedaries of Midian”; hence R.V. “they all shall come from Sheba.” The meaning would then be that the produce of Sheba was conveyed by Midianite caravans. Sheba (Genesis 10:7 &c.) is a people and country in Arabia Felix (Yemen).

gold and incense] See 1 Kings 10:2; Ezekiel 27:22; Psalm 72:15; Jeremiah 6:20.

shew forth the praises of the Lord] Lit. “proclaim the glad tidings of” His praiseworthy deeds; cf. ch. Isaiah 63:7.

6, 7. The promise of Isaiah 60:5 is expanded in two pictures, seen from Jerusalem’s commanding position between the desert and the sea. The first is a procession of camels and flocks representing the tribute of the East.

Verse 6. - The multitude of camels; rather, a multitude - a continual stream of caravans (Kay). These would be composed of merchants from Midian and Ephah, and would bring goods from Sheba. The Midianite caravans of camels are mentioned as early as the time of Jacob, when they carried "spicery and balm and myrrh" from the land of Gilead into Egypt (Genesis 37:25, 28, 36). Ephah is a sub-tribe of Midian (Genesis 25:4). These nomads would visit the distant Sheba, in Happy Arabia, for purposes of trade, and would procure there gold and incense, which they would convey to Palestine. The "Sheba" intended is doubtless that whose queen visited Solomon, and brought with her gold in abundance, and "of spices very great store, and precious stones" (1 Kings 10:10). The Egyptians appear to have called the kingdom of the Shebaim (Sabaeans) "Punt," and to have traded with it from a very early time, especially for frankincense (' Records of the Past,' vol. 10. pp. 14-19; Rawlinson, 'History of Ancient Egypt,' vol. it. pp. 132-134, 221-224). The dromedaries; rather, the young camels, or the camel colts. All they from Sheba shall come; rather, they (i.e. the camels of Midian and Ephah) shall come all together from Sheba. Isaiah 60:6The nations engaged in commerce, and those possessing cattle, vie with one another in enriching the church. "A swarm of camels will cover thee, the foals of Midian and Ephah: they come all together from Saba; they bring gold and incense, and they joyfully make known the praises of Jehovah. All the flocks, of Kedar gather together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth will serve thee: they will come up with acceptance upon mine altar, and I will adorn the house of my adorning." The trading nations bring their wares to the church. The tribe of Midian, which sprang from Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:2), and of which Ephah (Targ. Hōlâd, the Hutheilites?) formed one of the several branches (Genesis 25:4), had its seat on the eastern coast of the Elanitic Gulf, which is still indicated by the town of Madyan, situated, according to the geographers of Arabia, five days' journey to the south of Aila. These come in such long and numerous caravans, that all the country round Jerusalem swarms with camels. שׁפעת as in Job 22:11; and בּכרי (parallel to גּמלּים) from בּכר equals Arabic bakr or bikr, a young male camel, or generally a camel's foal (up to the age of not more than nine years; see Lane's Lexicon, i. 240). All of these, both Midianites and Ephaeans, come out of Sheba, which Strabo (xvi. 4, 10) describes as "the highly blessed land of the Sabaeans, in which myrrh, frankincense, and cinnamon grow." There, viz., in Yemen,

(Note: Seba (סבא, Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 45:14) is Meroe generally, or (according to Strabo and Steph. Byz.) more especially a port in northern Ethiopia; Sheba (שׁבא), the principal tribe of southern Arabia, more especially its capital Marib (Mariaba), which, according to an Arabian legend, contained the palace of Bilkis, the שׁבא מלכּת (see Exc. iv. in Krger's Feldzug von Aelius Gallus, 1862). It is true that the following passage of Strabo (xvi. 14, 21) is apparently at variance with the opinion that the seat of the Sabaeans was in southern Arabia. "First of all," he says, "above Syria, Arabia Felix is inhabited by the Nabataeans and Sabaeans, who frequently marched through the former before it belonged to the Romans." But as, according to every other account given by Strabo, the Sabaeans had their home in Arabia Felix, and the Nabataeans at the northern extremity of the Red Sea, in Arabia Petraea, all that this passage can imply is, that at that part of Arabia which stretches towards the Syrian boundary, the expeditions of the Sabaeans came upon the Nabataeans.))

where spices, jewels, and gold abound, they have purchased gold and frankincense, and these valuable gifts they now bring to Jerusalem, not as unwilling tribute, but with the joyful proclamation of the glorious deeds and attributes of Jehovah, the God of Israel.

And not only do the trading nations come, but the nomad tribes also: viz., Kedar, the Kedarenes, with their bows (Isaiah 21:17), who lived in the desert, between Babylonia and Syria, in חצרים (Isaiah 42:11), i.e., fixed settlements; and Nebaitoh, also in Ishmaelitish tribe (according to the incontrovertible account of Genesis 25:13), a nomad tribe, which was still of no note even in the time of the kings of Israel, but which rose into a highly cultivated nation in the centuries just before Christ, and had a kingdom extending from the Elanitic Gulf to the land on the east of the Jordan, and across Belka as far as Hauran; for the monuments reach from Egypt to Babylonia, though Arabia Petraea is the place where they chiefly abound.

(Note: Quatremre rejects the identity of the Nabataeans and the Ishmaelitish Nebaioth; but it has been justly defended by Winer, Kless, Knobel, and Krehl (Religion der vorisl. Araber, p. 51).)

The Kedarenes drive their collected flocks to Jerusalem, and the rams (אילי, arietes, not principes) of the Nabataeans, being brought by them, are at the service of the church (ישׁרתוּנך a verbal form with a toneless contracted suffix, as in Isaiah 47:10), and ascend על־רצון, according to good pleasure equals acceptably (with the על used to form adverbs, Ewald, 217, i; cf., lerâtsōn in Isaiah 66:7), the altar of Jehovah (âlâh with the local object in the accusative, as in Genesis 49:4; Numbers 13:17). The meaning is, that Jehovah will graciously accept the sacrifices which the church offers from the gifts of the Nabataeans (and Kedarenes) upon His altar. It would be quite wrong to follow Antistes Hess and Baumgarten, and draw the conclusion from such prophecies as these, that animal sacrifices will be revived again. The sacrifice of animals has been abolished once for all by the self-sacrifice of the "Servant of Jehovah;" and by the spiritual revolution which Christianity, i.e., the Messianic religion, as produced, so far as the consciousness of modern times is concerned, even in Israel itself, it is once for all condemned (see Holdheim's Schrift ber das Ceremonial-gesetz im Messiasreich, 1845). The prophet, indeed, cannot describe even what belongs to the New Testament in any other than Old Testament colours, because he is still within the Old Testament limits. But from the standpoint of the New Testament fulfilment, that which was merely educational and preparatory, and of which there will be no revival, is naturally transformed into the truly essential purpose at which the former aimed; so that all that was real in the prophecy remains unaffected and pure, after the dedication of what was merely the unessential medium employed to depict it. The very same Paul who preaches Christ as the end of the law, predicts the conversion of Israel as the topstone of the gracious counsels of God as they unfold themselves in the history of salvation, and describes the restoration of Israel as "the riches of the Gentiles;" and the very same John who wrote the Gospel was also the apocalyptist, by whom the distinction between Israel and the Gentiles was seen in vision as still maintained even in the New Jerusalem. It must therefore be possible (though we cannot form any clear idea of the manner in which it will be carried out), that the Israel of the future may have a very prominent position in the perfect church, and be, as it were, the central leader of its worship, though without the restoration of the party-wall of particularism and ceremonial shadows, which the blood of the crucified One has entirely washed away. The house of God in Jerusalem, as the prophet has already stated in Isaiah 56:7, will be a house of prayer (bēth tephillâh) for all nations. Here Jehovah calls the house built in His honour, and filled with His gracious presence, "the house of my glory." He will make its inward glory like the outward, by adorning it with the gifts presented by the converted Gentile world.

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