Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness.
Isa 48:1-22. The Things That Befall Babylon Jehovah Predicted Long before, lest Israel Should Attribute Them, in Its "Obstinate" Perversity, to Strange Gods (Isa 48:1-5).
1. the waters of Judah—spring from the fountain of Judah (Nu 24:7; De 33:28; Ps 68:26; Margin). Judah has the "fountain" attributed to it, because it survived the ten tribes, and from it Messiah was to spring.
swear by … Lord—(Isa 19:18; 45:23; 65:16).
mention—in prayers and praises.
not in truth—(Jer 5:2; Joh 4:24).
For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is his name.
2. For—Ye deserve these reproofs; "for" ye call yourselves citizens of "the holy city" (Isa 52:1), but not in truth (Isa 48:1; Ne 11:1; Da 9:24); so the inscription on their coins of the time of the Maccabees. "Jerusalem the Holy."
I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.
3. former—things which have happened in time past to Israel (Isa 42:9; 44:7, 8; 45:21; 46:10).
suddenly—They came to pass so unexpectedly that the prophecy could not have resulted from mere human sagacity.
Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;
4. obstinate—Hebrew, "hard" (De 9:27; Eze 3:7, Margin).
iron sinew—inflexible (Ac 7:51).
brow brass—shameless as a harlot (see Jer 6:28; 3:3; Eze 3:7, Margin).
I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.
5. (See on Isa 48:1; Isa 48:3).
Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.
6. Thou, &c.—So "ye are my witnesses" (Isa 43:10). Thou canst testify the prediction was uttered long before the fulfilment: "see all this," namely, that the event answers to the prophecy.
declare—make the fact known as a proof that Jehovah alone is God (Isa 44:8).
new things—namely, the deliverance from Babylon by Cyrus, new in contradistinction from former predictions that had been fulfilled (Isa 42:9; 43:19). Antitypically, the prophecy has in view the "new things" of the gospel treasury (So 7:13; Mt 13:52; 2Co 5:17; Re 21:5). From this point forward, the prophecies as to Messiah's first and second advents and the restoration of Israel, have a new circumstantial distinctness, such as did not characterize the previous ones, even of Isaiah. Babylon, in this view, answers to the mystical Babylon of Revelation.
hidden—which could not have been guessed by political sagacity (Da 2:22, 29; 1Co 2:9, 10).
They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them.
7. Not like natural results from existing causes, the events when they took place were like acts of creative power, such as had never before been "from the beginning."
even before the day when—rather [Maurer], "And before the day (of their occurrence) thou hast not heard of them"; that is, by any human acuteness; they are only heard of by the present inspired announcement.
Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.
8. heardest not—repeated, as also "knewest not," from Isa 48:7.
from that time—Omit "that." "Yea, from the first thine ear did not open itself," namely, to obey them [Rosenmuller]. "To open the ear" denotes obedient attention (Isa 50:5); or, "was not opened" to receive them; that is, they were not declared by Me to thee previously, since, if thou hadst been informed of them, such is thy perversity, thou couldst not have been kept in check [Maurer]. In the former view, the sense of the words following is, "For I knew that, if I had not foretold the destruction of Babylon so plainly that there could be no perverting of it, thou wouldst have perversely ascribed it to idols, or something else than to Me" (Isa 48:5). Thus they would have relapsed into idolatry, to cure them of which the Babylonian captivity was sent: so they had done (Ex 32:4). After the return, and ever since, they have utterly forsaken idols.
wast called—as thine appropriate appellation (Isa 9:6).
from the womb—from the beginning of Israel's national existence (Isa 44:2).
For my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.
9. refrain—literally, "muzzle"; His wrath, after the return, was to be restrained a while, and then, because of their sins, let loose again (Ps 78:38).
for thee—that is, mine anger towards thee.
Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
10. (See on Isa 1:25).
with silver—rather, "for silver." I sought by affliction to purify thee, but thou wast not as silver obtained by melting, but as dross [Gesenius]. Thy repentance is not complete: thou art not yet as refined silver. Rosenmuller explains, "not as silver," not with the intense heat needed to melt silver (it being harder to melt than gold), that is, not with the most extreme severity. The former view is better (Isa 1:25; 42:25; Eze 22:18-20, 22).
chosen—or else [Lowth], tried … proved: according to Gesenius, literally, "to rub with the touchstone," or to cut in pieces so as to examine (Zec 13:9; Mal 3:3; 1Pe 1:7).
For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.
11. how should my name—Maurer, instead of "My name" from Isa 48:9, supplies "My glory" from the next clause; and translates, "How (shamefully) My glory has been profaned!" In English Version the sense is, "I will refrain (Isa 48:9, that is, not utterly destroy thee), for why should I permit My name to be polluted, which it would be, if the Lord utterly destroyed His elect people" (Eze 20:9)?
not give my glory unto another—If God forsook His people for ever, the heathen would attribute their triumph over Israel to their idols; so God's glory would be given to another.
Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.
12-15. The Almighty, who has founded heaven and earth, can, and will, restore His people.
the first … last—(Isa 41:4; 44:6).
Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.
13. spanned—measured out (Isa 40:12).
when I call … stand up together—(Isa 40:26; Jer 33:25). But it is not their creation so much which is meant, as that, like ministers of God, the heavens and the earth are prepared at His command to execute His decrees (Ps 119:91) [Rosenmuller].
All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The LORD hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans.
14. among them—among the gods and astrologers of the Chaldees (Isa 41:22; 43:9; 44:7).
Lord … loved him; he will, &c.—that is, "He whom the Lord hath loved will do," &c. [Lowth]; namely, Cyrus (Isa 44:28; 45:1, 13; 46:11). However, Jehovah's language of love is too strong to apply to Cyrus, except as type of Messiah, to whom alone it fully applies (Re 5:2-5).
his pleasure—not Cyrus' own, but Jehovah's.
I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.
15. brought—led him on his way.
he—change from the first to the third person [Barnes]. Jehovah shall make his (Cyrus') way prosperous.
Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.
16. not … in secret—(Isa 45:19). Jehovah foretold Cyrus' advent, not with the studied ambiguity of heathen oracles, but plainly.
from the time, &c.—From the moment that the purpose began to be accomplished in the raising up of Cyrus I was present.
sent me—The prophet here speaks, claiming attention to his announcement as to Cyrus, on the ground of his mission from God and His Spirit. But he speaks not in his own person so much as in that of Messiah, to whom alone in the fullest sense the words apply (Isa 61:1; Joh 10:36). Plainly, Isa 49:1, which is the continuation of the forty-eighth chapter, from Isa 48:16, where the change of speaker from God (Isa 48:1, 12-15) begins, is the language of Messiah. Lu 4:1, 14, 18, shows that the Spirit combined with the Father in sending the Son: therefore "His Spirit" is nominative to "sent," not accusative, following it.
Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
17. teacheth … to profit—by affliction, such as the Babylonish captivity, and the present long-continued dispersion of Israel (Heb 12:10).
O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:
18. peace—(Ps 119:165). Compare the desire expressed by the same Messiah (Mt 23:37; Lu 19:42).
river—(Isa 33:21; 41:18), a river flowing from God's throne is the symbol of free, abundant, and ever flowing blessings from Him (Eze 47:1; Zec 14:8; Re 22:1).
righteousness—religious prosperity; the parent of "peace" or national prosperity; therefore "peace" corresponds to "righteousness" in the parallelism (Isa 32:17).
Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.
19. sand—retaining the metaphor of "the sea" (Isa 48:18).
like the gravel thereof—rather, as the Hebrew, "like that (the offspring) of its (the sea's) bowels"; referring to the countless living creatures, fishes, &c., of the sea, rather than the gravel [Maurer]. Jerome, Chaldee, and Syriac support English Version.
his name … cut off—transition from the second person, "thy," to the third "his." Israel's name was cut off "as a nation" during the Babylonish captivity; also it is so now, to which the prophecy especially looks (Ro 11:20).
Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob.
20. Go … forth … end of the earth—Primarily, a prophecy of their joyful deliverance from Babylon, and a direction that they should leave it when God opened the way. But the publication of it "to the ends of the earth" shows it has a more world-wide scope antitypically; Re 18:4 shows that the mystical Babylon is ultimately meant.
redeemed … Jacob—(Isa 43:1; 44:22, 23).
And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.
21. Ezra, in describing the return, makes no mention of God cleaving the rock for them in the desert [Kimchi]. The circumstances, therefore, of the deliverance from Egypt (Ex 17:6; Nu 20:11; Ps 78:15; 105:41) and of that from Babylon, are blended together; the language, while more immediately referring to the latter deliverance, yet, as being blended with circumstances of the former not strictly applicable to the latter, cannot wholly refer to either, but to the mystic deliverance of man under Messiah, and literally to the final restoration of Israel.
There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.
22. Repeated (Isa 57:21). All the blessings just mentioned (Isa 48:21) belong only to the godly, not to the wicked. Israel shall first cast away its wicked unbelief before it shall inherit national prosperity (Zec 12:10-14; 13:1, 9; 14:3, 14, 20, 21). The sentiment holds good also as to all wicked men (Job 15:20-25, 31-34).