Yeshayah 46

1 6 Bel boweth down, Nevo stoopeth low, their atzabim (idols) were upon the beasts, and upon the behemah; your litters were heavy laden; they are a massa (burden) to the weary beast.
2 They stoop, they bow down together; they [Bel and Nevo, g-ds of Babylon] could not save the massa (burden), but their own selves are gone into shevi (captivity, Golus).
3 Pay heed unto Me, O Bais Ya’akov, and kol She’erit Bais Yisroel, who are borne by Me from birth, who are carried from the rechem (womb);
4 And even to your ziknah (old age) I am He; and even to [your] gray hair will I carry you; I have made, and I will carry; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
5 Lemi (to whom) will ye compare Me, and make Me equal, and liken Me, that we may be comparable?
6 They lavish zahav out of the bag, and weigh kesef on the scale, and hire a tzoref (goldsmith); and he maketh it El (G-d); they fall down, yes, they bow down in worship.
7 They bear him upon the katef (shoulder), they carry him, and set him up in his place, and he standeth; from his makom shall he not move; yes, though one shall cry out unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his tzoros.
8 Remember this, and stand firm; bring it again to lev (heart, mind), O ye poshe’im (rebelling, transgressing ones).
9 Remember the rishonot (former things) me’olam (of old); for I am El (G-d), and there is not another [G-d]; Elohim, and there is none like Me.
10 Making known acharim (end-times things) from reshit (the beginning), and mikedem (from ancient times) the things that have not yet happened, saying, My etza (counsel, purpose, plan) shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the mizrach (east), the ish that executeth My etza (counsel, purpose, plan) from a far country; yes, I have spoken it, I will indeed bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
12 Pay heed unto Me, ye abirei lev (stubborn of heart), that are far from tzedakah;
13 I bring near My tzedakah; it shall not be far off, and My Teshuah (Salvation) shall not tarry; and I will place Teshuah in Tziyon for Yisroel Tife’arti (My Glory).

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Yeshayah 46 Commentary

Chapter 46

The idols could not save themselves, but God saves his people. (1-4) The folly of worshipping idols. (5-13)

Verses 1-4 The heathen insulted the Jews, as if their idols Bel and Nebo were too hard for Jehovah. But their worshippers cannot help them; both the idols and the idolaters are gone into captivity. Let not God's people be afraid of either. Those things from which ungodly men expect safety and happiness, will be found unable to save them from death and hell. The true God will never fail his worshippers. The history of the life of every believer is a kind of abstract of the history of Israel. Our spiritual life is upheld by his grace, as constantly as our natural life by his providence. And God will never leave them. The Author will be the Finisher of their well-being, when, by decays, they need help as much as in infancy. This promise to Israel, enfeebled and grown old as a nation, is applicable to every aged follower of Christ. When compassed about with infirmities, and perhaps those around begin to grow weary of you, yet I am He that I have promised to be, He that you would have me to be. I will bear you up; carry you on in your way, and carry you home at last. If we learn to trust in and love him, we need not be anxious about our remaining days or years; he will still provide for us and watch over us, both as the creatures of his power, and as new-created by his Spirit.

Verses 5-13 Here the folly of those who made idols, and then prayed to them, is exposed. How does the profuseness of idolaters shame the niggardliness of many who call themselves God's servants, but are for a religion which costs them nothing! The service of sin always costs a great deal. God puts it to them what senseless, helpless things idols are. Let, then, the Jews show themselves men, avoiding such abominations. Many Scripture prophecies, delivered long ago, are not yet fulfilled; but the fulfilling of some is an earnest that the rest will come to pass. Nothing can help more to make us easy, than to be assured that God will do all his pleasure. Even those who know not and mind not God's revealed will, are called and used to fulfil the counsels of his secret will. Heaven and earth shall pass away, sooner than one tittle of the word of God. Obstinate sinners are addressed. Such were far from acceptance, but they were summoned to hearken to the word of the Lord. The salvation of a sinner begins with a humble and contrite heart, that trembles at God's word, with godly sorrow working true repentance, and faith in his mercy, through the obedience unto death of our Divine Surety. Christ, as the Divine righteousness and salvation to his people, would come in the appointed time. His salvation abides in his church for all believers.

Chapter Summary

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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Yeshayah 46 Commentaries