He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in sunder; he burns the chariot in the fire.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He maketh.—Comp. Virg. Æn., 3:560.Isaiah 37:18-20; and it hoped to complete its conquests, and to secure the ascendancy over the entire earth, by the subjugation of India and Egypt. When the vast army of that empire, engaged in such a purpose, was overthrown, the consequence would be that the nations would be at rest, or that there would be universal peace. Compare the notes at Isaiah 14:6-7.
He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder - That is, he makes them useless, as a bow that is broken is of no value, or a spear that is cut into parts.
He burneth the chariot in the fire - The war-chariot, that which was employed in battle. See the notes at Isaiah 2:7; notes at Psalm 20:7. The expression here may refer to a custom of collecting the spoils of war into a heap, and setting them on fire. This was particularly done when the victors were unable to remove them, or so to secure them as to preclude all danger of their being taken again and used against themselves. Tiffs custom is alluded to by Virgil, AEn. viii. 561, 562,
"Qualis cram, cum primam aciem Prseneste sub ipsa
Stravi, scutorumque iucendi victor acervos."
The end of the earth, or of this land, to wit, of Israel; from one end of it to the other.
He speaks of the bows, and spears, and chariots of their enemies; for he preserved those which belonged to his people. Revelation 8:1; when for a while there was a cessation from wars and persecution; and as will be in the latter day, and which is here chiefly designed; when nations shall learn war no more, and Christ's kingdom will take place; of which and its peace there shall be no end, Isaiah 2:4. The consideration of which may serve to relieve distressed minds under terrible apprehensions of present troubles and public calamities;
he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire; that is, "chariots", or "carts" (y) or "wagons", in which, as Aben Ezra observes, arms and provision were carried for the use of soldiers; the Targum renders it "round shields" (z): and the destroying of all these military weapons and carriages is a token of peace, and of war's being caused to cease, there being no more use for them; with this compare Ezekiel 39:8. It was usual to burn the arms of enemies taken in war (a).
(y) "plaustra", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Musculus, Gejerus, Michaelis. (z) So the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic and Arabic versions. (a) Vid. Lydium de Re Militari, l. 6. c. 4. p. 229, 230.He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. The destruction of the Assyrians is an earnest of that final abolition of war which Jehovah will one day bring about, destroying the weapons of war, or burning them in a vast pyre upon the battlefield, as Isaiah predicted (Psalm 9:5, R.V.). Cp. Isaiah 2:4 (= Micah 4:3); Zechariah 9:10.
the chariot] R.V. the chariots. The word however is nowhere used of war chariots, and must rather mean baggage-wagons (cp. 1 Samuel 17:20; 1 Samuel 26:7). Perhaps, as Baethgen proposes, the word should be vocalised ‘agîlôth instead of ‘agâlôth, and rendered as in LXX and Targ., shields.Verse 9. - He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth (comp. Isaiah 2:4; Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 65:25). Each great deliverance effected by God is followed naturally by a term of peace (comp. Judges 3:11, 30; Judges 5:31; Judges 8:28; "and the land had rest twenty, forty, eighty years"), each such term being typical of the final peace, when God shall have put down all enemies under Messiah's feet. He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; i.e. he destroys all offensive weapons, so that none may "hurt or destroy in all his holy mountain" (Isaiah 11:9). He burneth the chariot in the fire. War-chariots were largely employed by the Assyrians, and formed the main strength of the army of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:23). 2 Chronicles 15:4, and frequently) exceedingly; i.e., to those who then seek Him He reveals Himself and verifies His word beyond all measure. Because God is such a God to them, the congregation or church does not fear though a still greater distress than that which they have just withstood, should break in upon them: if the earth should change, i.e., effect, enter upon, undergo or suffer a change (an inwardly transitive Hiphil, Ges. ֗53, 2); and if the mountains should sink down into the heart (בּלב exactly as in Ezekiel 27:27; Jonah 2:4) of the sea (ocean), i.e., even if these should sink back again into the waters out of which they appeared on the third day of the creation, so that consequently the old chaos should return. The church supposes the most extreme case, viz., the falling in of the universe which has been creatively set in order. We are no more to regard the language as being allegorical here (as Hengstenberg interprets it, the mountains being equals the kingdoms of the world), than we would the language of Horace: si fractus illabatur orbis (Carm. iii. 3, 7). Since ימּים is not a numerical but amplificative plural, the singular suffixes in Psalm 46:4 may the more readily refer back to it. גּאוה, pride, self-exaltation, used of the sea as in Psalm 89:10 גּאוּת, and in Job 38:11 גּאון are used. The futures in Psalm 46:4 do not continue the infinitive construction: if the waters thereof roar, foam, etc.; but they are, as their position and repetition indicate, intended to have a concessive sense. And this favours the supposition of Hupfeld and Ewald that the refrain, Psalm 46:8, 12, which ought to form the apodosis of this concessive clause (cf. Psalm 139:8-10; Job 20:24; Isaiah 40:30.) has accidentally fallen out here. In the text as it lies before us Psalm 46:4 attaches itself to לא־נירא: (we do not fear), let its waters (i.e., the waters of the ocean) rage and foam continually; and, inasmuch as the sea rises high, towering beyond its shores, let the mountains threaten to topple in. The music, which here becomes forte, strengthens the believing confidence of the congregation, despite this wild excitement of the elements.
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