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"Israel;" but to distinguish that a part only is meant, and not the Israel of the general prophecy, it is expressly added, "Even ye that have flowed from the fountain of Judah." They are plainly designated as professing the true religion of Jehovah, " but not in truth and righteousness:" and this exactly corresponds with every descripr tion we have of the remnant that was restored from Babylon, from the period of that captivity down to the era of the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Yet, in a certain sense, notwithstanding this hypocrisy, "they rest upon Jehovah for support," they were " called of the Holy City:" * and the holy name of " Jehovah Sabaoth" was pledged for their support, to preserve a remnant in Jerusalem till Shiloh should came.
This people are expostulated withf respecting their former idolatry, and that stiffness and stubbornness of heart, so often laid to the charge of ancient Israel. The language here is somewhat obscured; but I conceive the general meaning to be, that God had so delivered the former prophecies concerning Babylon, their captivityi and deliverance, and had accomplished the predictions in such a manner, that the nation of the Jews could not help being convinced in their understandings, although their hearts were far from the true God, while they professed his name. However, for his own sake, as it follows, J he had spared that remnant, and brought them back to Jerusalem, having in the furnace of Babylon purged them from the grossness of idolatry.
Accordingly, Israel in general, Israel in all ages, who shall hear the prophecy of this book, are called upon tp
* V<,-r. ^. + Ver. 3, and f1ve following. . ] Ver. 9, &c.
remark,* how God their Redeemer had by Cyrus executed his vengeance upon Babylon; not in person, but by Cyrus. It was the same divine person, however, as is clearly intimated in the fifteenth verse, who had wrought invisibly, the God of Israel who hid himself, and whom the Jewish nation at that very time, perhaps, expected in person. It was the same person, who at some future period, which the prophecy contemplates, comes as the Sent of the Father, and comes with the Holy Ghost: or more properly, as the Gospel church has experienced, not only has there been an incarnation of the Eternal Son; but also a personal mission of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter: —
16. Draw near to me, and hear ye this,
From the beginning I spake not in secret;
Before time was there ' am' I,
And now Jehovah hath sent me and his Spirit.'
I have just observed, that it is probable the Jewish church expected at that epocha the personal appearance of the Messiah. For when, indeed, did they not expect him? We may, therefore, easily suppose that they confounded together the predictions of their temporal deliverance from Babylon, with the greater deliverance foretold in connexion with it. They would of course
* Ver. 18, &c.
1 See Bishop Lowth's note. * In mystery I spake, [although] from f the season of existence
* Bishop Horsley translates:- l Subs'St;
Draw near unto ,ne, and hear ye But IK1W the Lord Jehovnh hath
this, not [heard] from the he- »«* rre and hi. Sp.nt."
ginning; f Or ' before."
expect, on their release from captivity, the fulfilment of all the glorious things which had been spoken respecting the Israel of the last days; especially the miraculous display of divine power, exceeding that wrought at the exodus from Egypt, so often mentioned in the more ancient prophecies in the Psalms, and in these of Isaiah. The language of the oracle before us seems to intimate that, in a certain sense, it might have been so, had Israel obeyed the instruction of their heavenly guide: —
18. Oh! hadst thou attended my commandments, Then had thy peace been as a river,
And thy vindication as the waves of the sea.1
Their peace, or happiness; or, as we should, perhaps, render the word in this connexion, their "completion," or " fulfilment": — the completion of those glorious promises might have flowed to thee in great abundance, and your vindication out of the Babylonish captivity, instead of being so poor and inglorious an event, that it disappointed those who had survived to see it, and to see the foundation of the new temple laid, might have more visibly displayed the hand of the Almighty.
19. Then had thy seed been as the sand,
1 lOiV and inpiv; the first term signifies "thy peace," or thy "full peace," or " complete happiness;" that which is " the filling up," " completion," or " perfecting" of a thing. See Simon and Parkhurst. It seems to imply here that perfect pence, which would in
Israel's case have been the fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers. The latter term signifies, the righteous vindication that the same people could have experienced, according to the truth of God's word.
And the offspring of thy body\ts the pebbles on the shore, * Then should not his name have been cut off or destroyed from before me.
— That is to say, they had endured no second captivity; and I have no doubt, that in our rendering of the following verses, we are to carry forward the force of the leading tense of the verbs in the foregoing verses, according to a common practice of the ancient Hebrews; the meaning of the passage will then be clear: —
20. They had come forth from Babylon,
They had quickly departed from the Chaldeans.
With the voice of joy had they declared and made it known,
They had said, " Jehovah hath redeemed his servant Jacob,''
21. And they had not thirsted in the desert, where he had
caused them to go.
From the rock would he have caused waters to flow for
them, Ay, he had cleaved the rock, and forth had gushed the
22. There is no peace, hath Jehovah said, to the wicked.
Speaking after the manner of men, these glorious expectations might have been realized by Israel returning from Babylon, but for their sin and unbelief. But, as it was, the event was far otherwise. There is no " peace," or " prosperity," or no " completion," or "fulfilment" of promises to the wicked transgressors: and we shall find, from a comparison of other passages, that the
1 This is «vidently the intent thereof" But see Simon in verbo and purport of rrnyna. Bishop nya, ' scrupus,' ' scrupulus,' i. e. Lowth translates, ''Like the bowels lapillus tenuis et minutus.
Scripture allows us to entertain the notion of the fulfilment of general promises made to the church being delayed, on the one hand, because "the iniquity" of the enemy " is not at the full;" on the other hand, because of the sins of the people of God, who, considered as a visible and political body here on earth, have not yet met with their destined chastisement. We shall recollect, that the present series of prophecies began by foreboding the time when the warfare of Zion should be accomplished; and she should have received, at the hand of the Lord, the retribution of all her sins. This era had not yet arrived. Hence the meaner circumstances of the restoration, which this episode foretelft. Alas! many yet would be the crimes of that apostate people, and most afflictive still their punishments! £specially, they were to incnr the guilt of blood in the slaying of the Lord of glory, as Isaiah's subsequent prophecies clearly show. Hence it was, that there could be no "full Peace" —" no fulfilment" of promises, to these professing Israelites.