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A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown [1882] at

Isaiah Chapter 46

Isaiah 46:1

isa 46:1


Bel--the same as the Phœnician Baal, that is, lord, the chief god of Babylon; to it was dedicated the celebrated tower of Babylon, in the center of one of the two parts into which the city was divided, the palace being in the center of the other. Identical with the sun, worshipped on turrets, housetops, and other high places, so as to be nearer the heavenly hosts (Saba) (Jer 19:13; Jer 32:29; Zep 1:5). GESENIUS identifies Bel with the planet Jupiter, which, with the planet Venus (under the name Astarte or Astaroth), was worshipped in the East as the god of fortune, the most propitious star to be born under (see on Isa 65:11). According to the Apocryphal book, Bel and the Dragon, Bel was cast down by Cyrus.

boweth . . . stoopeth--falleth prostrate (Isa 10:4; Sa1 5:3-4; Psa 20:8).

Nebo--the planet Mercury or Hermes, in astrology. The scribe of heaven, answering to the Egyptian Anubis. The extensive worship of it is shown by the many proper names compounded of it: Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuzar-adan, Nabonassar, &c.

were upon--that is, were a burden (supplied from the following clause) upon. It was customary to transport the gods of the vanquished to the land of the conquerors, who thought thereby the more effectually to keep down the subject people (Sa1 5:1, &c.; Jer 48:7; Jer 49:3; Dan 11:8).

carriages--in the Old English sense of the things carried, the images borne by you: the lading (Act 21:15), "carriages," not the vehicles, but the baggage. Or, the images which used to be carried by you formerly in your solemn processions [MAURER].

were heavy loaden--rather, are put as a load on the beasts of burden [MAURER]. HORSLEY translates, "They who should have been your carriers (as Jehovah is to His people, Isa 46:3-4) are become burdens" (see on Isa 46:4).

Isaiah 46:2

isa 46:2

deliver--from the enemies' hands.

burden--their images laid on the beasts (Isa 46:1).

themselves--the gods, here also distinguished from their images.

Isaiah 46:3

isa 46:3

in contrast to what precedes: Babylon's idols, so far from bearing its people safely are themselves borne off, a burden to the laden beast; but Jehovah bears His people in safety even from the womb to old age (Isa 63:9; Deu 32:11; Psa 71:6, Psa 71:18). God compares Himself to a nurse tenderly carrying a child; contrast Moses' language (Num 11:12).

Isaiah 46:4

isa 46:4

old age--As "your"--"you"--"you," are not in the Hebrew, the sentiment is more general than English Version, though of course it includes the Jews from the infancy to the more advanced age of their history (Isa 47:6).

I am he--that is the same (Psa 102:27; Joh 8:24; Heb 13:8).

I will bear . . . carry--Not only do I not need to be borne and carried Myself, as the idols (Isa 46:1).

Isaiah 46:5

isa 46:5

(Isa 40:18, Isa 40:25).

Isaiah 46:6

isa 46:6

(Isa 40:19-20; Isa 41:7.) They lavish gold out of their purses and spare no expense for their idol. Their profuseness shames the niggardliness of professors who worship God with what cost them nothing. Sin is always a costly service.

Isaiah 46:7

isa 46:7

cry . . . can . . . not . . . save-- (Isa 45:20, with which contrast Isa 45:19).

Isaiah 46:8

isa 46:8

show yourselves men--Renounce the childishness of idolatry as shown in what precedes (Co1 14:20; Co1 16:13; Eph 4:14). In order to be manly we must be godly; for man was made "in the image of God," and only rises to his true dignity when joined to God; virtue is derived from the Latin vir, "a man."

bring . . . to mind--rather, "lay it to heart."

transgressors--addressed to the idolaters among the Jews.

Isaiah 46:9

isa 46:9

former--namely, proofs of the sole Godship of Jehovah, from predictions fulfilled, and interpositions of God in behalf of Israel (Isa 45:5).

Isaiah 46:10

isa 46:10

(Isa 45:21; Isa 41:22-23; Isa 44:26).

yet--not in the Hebrew. Translate, "What had not been done" [HORSLEY].

do all my pleasure-- (Isa 53:10; Rom 9:19).

Isaiah 46:11

isa 46:11

ravenous bird--Cyrus so called on account of the rapidity of his marches from the distant regions of Persia to pounce on his prey (see on Isa 41:2; Isa 41:25; Jer 49:22; Eze 17:3). The standard of Cyrus, too, was a golden eagle on a spear (see the heathen historian, XENOPHON, 7, where almost the same word is used, aetos, as here, ayit).

executeth my counsel-- (Isa 44:28; Isa 45:13). Babylon represents, mystically, the apostate faction: the destruction of its idols symbolizes the future general extirpation of all idolatry and unbelief.

purposed . . . also do it-- (Isa 43:13).

Isaiah 46:12

isa 46:12

stout-hearted--stubborn in resisting God (Psa 76:5; Act 7:51).

far from righteousness-- (Isa 59:9; Hab 2:4).

Isaiah 46:13

isa 46:13

near--antithetical to "far" (Isa 46:12; Isa 51:5; Isa 56:1; Isa 61:10-11; Rom 10:6-8).

righteousness--answering to "salvation" in the parallel clause; therefore it means here, "my righteous deliverance"; righteous, because proving the truth of God's promises, and so contrived as to not compromise, but vindicate, His righteousness (Isa 42:21; Rom 3:26).

Zion . . . my glory--rather, "I will give salvation in Zion; to Israel (I will give) my glory" [HORSLEY]. (Isa 63:11; Psa 14:7; Luk 2:32).

Next: Isaiah Chapter 47