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Introduction

\\INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 46\\

This chapter contains a prophecy of the taking of Babylon by Cyrus,
and of the deliverance of the Jews; who are encouraged to expect the
divine protection, and a continuance of it; are dehorted from
idolatry, and directed to look to the Lord alone for righteousness
and salvation. The taking of Babylon is signified by the demolition
of its idols, which become the plunder of the enemy, and by the
carrying of the inhabitants of it captive, \\#Isa 46:1,2\\. Then
follows a promise of grace and mercy to the remnant of Israel that
should now be delivered; that the Lord, who had cared for them from
the infancy of their state, would not leave them in their declining
times, \\#Isa 46:3,4\\, when they are dehorted from the worship of
idols, from the consideration of the matter of which they were made,
as silver and gold; from their being the works of men's hands; and
from their inability to move themselves, or help others; and from the
Lord being the true God, as appears by his omnipotence and
omniscience, \\#Isa 46:5-10\\. A description is given of Cyrus,
who should be the instrument of the Jews' deliverance from
Babylon, \\#Isa 46:11\\. And the chapter is concluded with an address
to the stout hearted and unrighteous Jews, to observe the
righteousness and salvation which were brought near and set before
them, \\#Isa 46:12,13\\.

idols of Babylon. Bel is by some thought to be the contraction of
Baal, the god of the Phoenicians, called by them Beel; so "Beelsamin"
{h}, in the Phoenician language, is Lord of heaven: but rather this
is the Belus of the Babylonians, who was a renowned king of them, and
after his death deified; whom Nebuchadnezzar, according to
Megasthenes {i}, calls Belus his progenitor, and by whom Babylon was
walled about. This idol is, no doubt, the same with Jupiter Belus,
who had a temple in Babylon with gates of brass, and which was in
being in the times of Herodotus {k}, as he reports. This name is
sometimes taken into the names of their kings, as Belshazzar or
Beltesbazaar. Nebo was another of their idols, an oracular one, from
whom, by its priests, prophesies of things future were pretended to
be given out; for it may have its name from \^abn\^, "to prophesy", and
answers to the Apollo or Mercury of other nations. The Alexandrian
copy of the Septuagint has very wrongly, instead of it, Dagon the god
of the Philistines; and so the Arabic version "Dsagon". This name
Nebo was also taken into the names of the kings of Babylon, as
Nabonassar, Nabopalassar, Nebuchadnezzar, and others. As Bel is the
same with Belus, so Nebo is the same with Beltis, the queen
Megasthenes or Abydenus speaks of in the same place; and Bel may
design the sun, and Nebo the moon, which may have its name from
\^bwn\^, "to bud forth", or "make fruitful", as the moon does; see
\\#De 33:14\\. It is said of both these deities, that they "stooped" or
"bowed down"; being taken down from the high places where they were
set upright, and looked grand and majestic, and where they might be
seen and worshipped by the people. Jarchi gives the words another
sense, that it represents in a sarcastic way these idols, as through
fear, in a like condition that men are in, in a fit of the colic, who
not being able to get to the solid stool, are obliged to bend their
knees, and ease themselves as they can {l}. Aben Ezra seems to refer
to the same signification of the word, when he says the sense was
well known, but it was not fit to write it. The prophet goes on in
the derision of these idols:

\\their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle\\; that is, being
taken down, and broke to pieces for the sake of the silver, and gold,
and brass that were about them, or they were made of, they were put
into sacks by the Persians, and laid upon camels, and mules, and
horses, and transported into Media and Persia. Jarchi interprets it,
their idols are like to beasts, which defile themselves with their dung
as they do; and so the Targum renders it,

``their images are "in" the likeness of serpents and beasts.''

These were the forms of them:

\\your carriages were heavy loaden, they are a burden to the weary beast\\;
this seems to be spoken to the Persians, who loaded their carriages,
and their beasts, with this lumber, that their wagons were ready to
break down, and their cattle groaned under the weight of it; a
sarcastic jeer at the idols which were become the plunder and prey of
the soldiers. It was usual at the taking of cities to demolish the
idols of them; and this was typical of the demolition of Heathen idols,
and the cessation of Heathen oracles in the Gentile world, through the
spread of the Gospel in it, in the first times of Christianity.

{h} Sanchoniatho apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. c. 10. p. 34.
{i} Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 4. l. p. 456.
{k} Clio, sive l. 1. c. 181. Vid. Pausan. Messen. p. 261.
{l} Vid. gloss. in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 2.

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