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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Isaiah 47

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The Book of the Prophet Isaiah

Commentary by A. R. FAUSSET

CHAPTER 47

Isa 47:1-15. THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON IS REPRESENTED UNDER THE IMAGE OF A ROYAL VIRGIN BROUGHT DOWN IN A MOMENT FROM HER MAGNIFICENT THRONE TO THE EXTREME OF DEGRADATION.

      1. in the dust--(See on JF & B for Isa 3:26; Job 2:13 Lam 2:10 ).
      virgin--that is, heretofore uncaptured [HERODOTUS, 1.191].
      daughter of Babylon--Babylon and its inhabitants (see on JF & B for Isa 1:8; JF & B for Isa 37:22).
      no throne--The seat of empire was transferred to Shushan. Alexander intended to have made Babylon his seat of empire, but Providence defeated his design. He soon died; and Seleucia, being built near, robbed it of its inhabitants, and even of its name, which was applied to Seleucia.
      delicate--alluding to the effeminate debauchery and prostitution of all classes at banquets and religious rites [CURTIUS, 5.1; HERODOTUS, 1.199; BARUCH, 6.43].

      2. millstones--like the querns or hand-mills, found in this country, before the invention of water mills and windmills: a convex stone, made by the hand to turn in a concave stone, fitted to receive it, the corn being ground between them: the office of a female slave in the East; most degrading ( Job 31:10 Mat 24:41 ).
      uncover thy locks--rather, "take off thy veil" [HORSLEY]: perhaps the removal of the plaited hair worn round the women's temples is included; it, too, is a covering ( 1Cr 11:15 ); to remove it and the veil is the badge of the lowest female degradation; in the East the head is the seat of female modesty; the face of a woman is seldom, the whole head almost never, seen bare (see on JF & B for Isa 22:8).
      make bare the leg--rather "lift up (literally, 'uncover'; as in lifting up the train the leg is uncovered) thy flowing train." In Mesopotamia, women of low rank, as occasion requires, wade across the rivers with stript legs, or else entirely put off their garments and swim across. "Exchange thy rich, loose, queenly robe, for the most abject condition, that of one going to and fro through rivers as a slave, to draw water," &c.
      uncover. . . thigh--gather up the robe, so as to wade across.

      3. not meet. . . as a man--rather, "I will not meet a man," that is, suffer man to intercede with me--give man an audience [HORSLEY]. Or, "I will not make peace with any man," before all are destroyed. Literally, "strike a league with"; a phrase arising from the custom of striking hands together in making a compact [MAURER], (see on JF & B for Pr 17:18; Pro 22:26 11:15, Margin). Or else from striking the victims sacrificed in making treaties.

      4. As for--rather supply, "Thus saith our Redeemer" [MAURER]. LOWTH supposes this verse to be the exclamation of a chorus breaking in with praises, "Our Redeemer! Jehovah of hosts," &c. ( Jer 50:34 ).

      5. Sit--the posture of mourning ( Ezr 9:4 Job 2:13 Lam 2:10 ).
      darkness--mourning and misery ( Lam 3:2 Mic 7:8 ).
      lady of kingdoms--mistress of the world ( Isa 13:19 ).

      6. reason for God's vengeance on Babylon: in executing God's will against His people, she had done so with wanton cruelty ( Isa 10:5, &c. Jer 50:17 51:33 Zec 1:15 ).
      polluted my inheritance-- ( Isa 43:28 ).
      the ancient--Even old age was disregarded by the Chaldeans, who treated all alike with cruelty ( Lam 4:16 5:12 ) [ROSENMULLER]. Or, "the ancient" means Israel, worn out with calamities in the latter period of its history ( Isa 46:4 ), as its earlier stage of history is called its "youth" ( Isa 54:6 Eze 16:60 ).

      7. so that--Through thy vain expectation of being a queen for ever, thou didst advance to such a pitch of insolence as not to believe "these things" (namely, as to thy overthrow, Isa 47:1-5 ) possible.
      end of it--namely, of thy insolence, implied in her words, "I shall be a lady for ever."

      8. given to pleasures--(See on JF & B for Isa 47:1). In no city were there so many incentives to licentiousness.
      I am. . . none. . . beside me-- ( Isa 47:10 ). Language of arrogance in man's mouth; fitting for God alone ( Isa 45:6 ). See Isa 5:8, latter part.
      widow. . . loss of children--A state, represented as a female, when it has fallen is called a widow, because its king is no more; and childless, because it has no inhabitants; they having been carried off as captives ( Isa 23:4 54:1, 4, 5 Rev 18:7, 8 ).

      9. in a moment--It should not decay slowly, but be suddenly and unexpectedly destroyed; in a single night it was taken by Cyrus. The prophecy was again literally fulfilled when Babylon revolted against Darius; and, in order to hold out to the last, each man chose one woman of his family, and strangled the rest, to save provisions. Darius impaled three thousand of the revolters.
      in. . . perfection--that is, "in full measure."
      for. . . for--rather, "notwithstanding the. . . notwithstanding"; "in spite of" [LOWTH]. So "for" ( Num 14:11 ). Babylon was famous for "expiations or sacrifices, and other incantations, whereby they tried to avert evil and obtain good" [DIODORUS SICULUS].

      10. wickedness--as in Isa 13:11, the cruelty with which Babylon treated its subject states.
      None seeth me-- ( Psa 10:11 94:7 ). "There is none to exact punishment from me." Sinners are not safe, though seeming secret.
      Thy wisdom--astrological and political ( Isa 19:11, &c., as to Egypt).
      perverted--turns thee aside from the right and safe path.

      11. from whence it riseth--Hebrew, "the dawn thereof," that is, its first rising. Evil shall come on thee without the least previous intimation [ROSENMULLER]. But dawn is not applied to "evil," but to prosperity shining out after misery ( Isa 21:12 ). Translate, "Thou shall not see any dawn" (of alleviation) [MAURER].
      put. . . off--rather, as Margin, "remove by expiation"; it shall be never ending.
      not know--unawares: which thou dost not apprehend. Proving the fallacy of thy divinations and astrology ( Job 9:5 Psa 35:8 ).

      12. Stand--forth: a scornful challenge to Babylon's magicians to show whether they can defend their city.
      laboured--The devil's service is a laborious yet fruitless one ( Isa 55:2 ).

      13. wearied--(compare Isa 57:10 Eze 24:12 ).
      astrologers--literally, those who form combinations of the heavens; who watch conjunctions and oppositions of the stars. "Casters of the configurations of the sky" [HORSLEY]. GESENIUS explains it: the dividers of the heavens. In casting a nativity they observed four signs:--the horoscope, or sign which arose at the time one was born; the mid-heaven; the sign opposite the horoscope towards the west; and the hypogee.
      monthly prognosticators--those who at each new moon profess to tell thereby what is about to happen. Join, not as English Version, "save. . . from those things," &c.; but, "They that at new moons make known from (by means of) them the things that shall come upon thee" [MAURER].

      14. ( Isa 29:6 30:30 ).
      not. . . a coal--Like stubble, they shall burn to a dead ash, without leaving a live coal or cinder (compare Isa 30:14 ), so utterly shall they be destroyed.

      15. Thus, &c.--Such shall be the fate of those astrologers who cost thee such an amount of trouble and money.
      thy merchants, from thy youth--that is, with whom thou hast trafficked from thy earliest history, the foreigners sojourning in Babylon for the sake of commerce ( Isa 13:14 Jer 51:6, 9 Nah 3:16, 17 ) [BARNES]. Rather, the astrologers, with whom Babylon had so many dealings ( Isa 47:12-14 ) [HORSLEY].
      to his quarter--literally, "straight before him" ( Eze 1:9, 12 ). The foreigners, whether soothsayers or merchants, shall flee home out of Babylon ( Jer 50:16 ).

Introduction to Song of Solomon ← Prior Book
Introduction to Jeremiah Next Book →
Commentary on Isaiah 46 ← Prior Chapter
Commentary on Isaiah 48 Next Chapter →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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