World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
I will remove the northern army far from you,
and drive it into a parched and desolate land,
its front into the eastern sea,
and its rear into the western sea;
its stench and foul smell will rise up.
Surely he has done great things!
In this verse he more fully confirms the Jews, that they might not be afraid of reproach from the Gentiles. It may have been that the Assyrians were now in readiness, prepared for war; it was then difficult to free the Jews from every fear. The Prophet had said generally that they would be no more subject to the mockeries of the Gentiles; but yet fear could not but be felt by them. “We see the Assyrians already armed; and what can we expect but to be devoured by them? for we are not able to resist them.” Anxiety then must have constantly tormented the Jews, had he not distinctly and in express words declared, “It is in God’s power to drive away the Assyrians, and to confound all their attempts.” The Prophet, therefore, is now on this subject. The Northlander, 99 Dr. Henderson agrees with Calvin in rendering this word, Northern or Highlander, and quotes Coverdale as rendering it, Him of the North. He considers this word as of “prime importance in the interpretation of this prophecy.” Locusts visited Palestine not from the north, but from the south. “That, however,” he adds, “which determines the question, is the addition of the patronymic י to צפון, indicating that the North was not merely the quarter whence the subject of the discourse came, but that its native country lay to the North of Palestine; just as התימני, the Temanite, means the Southern, etc. — Ed. he says, will I remove far from you. The Chaldeans and the Assyrians, we know, were northward of Judea. He then means here by the North those enemies, whose preparations terrified the Jews. Hence he says, I will drive them from you, and drive them far into a land of desert and of drought 1010 Literally, “Into a land dry and desolate.” — Ed. . By these words he intimates, that though furnished with the greatest forces, and gaping for the land of Judea, and ready in their cupidity to devour it, the Syrians would yet return home without effecting anything; I will cast them into a desert land. In vain, he says, they covet your abundance, and desire to satisfy themselves with the fertility of your land; for I will drive them and their dread away.
He then adds, His face to the east sea, and his rear to the hindmost sea; that is, I will scatter them here and there, so that his front shall be to one sea, (supposed to be the Salt Sea,) and his extremity to the hindermost sea, which was doubtless the Mediterranean: for the Salt Sea was east to the Jews, that is, it lies, as it is well known, towards the east. We now perceive in part what the Prophet means. But it must, at the same time, be added, that the Prophet removes fear from the Jews, which occupied their minds by observing the power of the Assyrians so great and extensive. “What is to be done? though God is present with us, and protects us by his help, yet how will he resist the Assyrians, for that army will fill the land”. “God will yet find means,” says the Prophet; “though the Assyrians should occupy the whole land, from the Salt or the East Sea to the Meridian or Mediterranean Sea, yet will God drive away this vast multitude: there is no reason then that ye should fear.” Hence the Prophet has designedly set forth how terrible the Assyrian forces would be, that he might show that they could not be resisted, unless the Lord should disperse them and disappoint all their efforts. At last he adds, And his ill savor shall ascend: but I am not able to finish to-day.