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a Bible passage
47. Fall of Babylon
Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. 2Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. 3Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man. 4As for our redeemer, the Lord of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel. 5Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms.
6I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.
7And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it. 8Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: 9But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.
10For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.
11Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put if off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know. 12Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. 13Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. 14Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it. 15Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall save thee.
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 Degradation.
virgin—that is, heretofore uncaptured [Herodotus, 1.191].
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 24:41).
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 22:8).
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).
lady of kingdoms—mistress of the world (Isa 13:19).
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) possible.
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 licentiousness.
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 full measure."
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.
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.
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).
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].
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 money.
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].