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
1. in the dust—(See on Isa 3:26; Job 2:13; La 2:10).
virgin—that is, heretofore
daughter of Babylon—Babylon and its
inhabitants (see on Isa 1:8; 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; Mt
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 (1Co 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 Isa
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 Pr
17:18; Pr 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; La 2:10).
darkness—mourning and misery (La 3:2; Mic
lady of kingdoms—mistress of the world
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;
polluted my inheritance—(Isa 43:28).
the ancient—Even old age was
disregarded by the Chaldeans, who treated all alike with cruelty (La 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)
end of it—namely, of thy insolence,
implied in her words, "I shall be a lady for ever."
8. given to pleasures—(See on Isa 47:1). In no city were there so many incentives to
I am … none … beside
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; Re 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
for … for—rather,
"notwithstanding the … notwithstanding"; "in spite of" [Lowth]. So "for" (Nu 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—(Ps 10:11;
94:7). "There is none to
exact punishment from me." Sinners are not safe, though seeming
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;
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;
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
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; Na 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).