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Restoration of Judah


But the L ord will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land; and aliens will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. 2And the nations will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess the nations as male and female slaves in the L ord’s land; they will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them.

Downfall of the King of Babylon

3 When the L ord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, 4you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:

How the oppressor has ceased!

How his insolence has ceased!


The L ord has broken the staff of the wicked,

the scepter of rulers,


that struck down the peoples in wrath

with unceasing blows,

that ruled the nations in anger

with unrelenting persecution.


The whole earth is at rest and quiet;

they break forth into singing.


The cypresses exult over you,

the cedars of Lebanon, saying,

“Since you were laid low,

no one comes to cut us down.”


Sheol beneath is stirred up

to meet you when you come;

it rouses the shades to greet you,

all who were leaders of the earth;

it raises from their thrones

all who were kings of the nations.


All of them will speak

and say to you:

“You too have become as weak as we!

You have become like us!”


Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,

and the sound of your harps;

maggots are the bed beneath you,

and worms are your covering.



How you are fallen from heaven,

O Day Star, son of Dawn!

How you are cut down to the ground,

you who laid the nations low!


You said in your heart,

“I will ascend to heaven;

I will raise my throne

above the stars of God;

I will sit on the mount of assembly

on the heights of Zaphon;


I will ascend to the tops of the clouds,

I will make myself like the Most High.”


But you are brought down to Sheol,

to the depths of the Pit.


Those who see you will stare at you,

and ponder over you:

“Is this the man who made the earth tremble,

who shook kingdoms,


who made the world like a desert

and overthrew its cities,

who would not let his prisoners go home?”


All the kings of the nations lie in glory,

each in his own tomb;


but you are cast out, away from your grave,

like loathsome carrion,

clothed with the dead, those pierced by the sword,

who go down to the stones of the Pit,

like a corpse trampled underfoot.


You will not be joined with them in burial,

because you have destroyed your land,

you have killed your people.


May the descendants of evildoers

nevermore be named!


Prepare slaughter for his sons

because of the guilt of their father.

Let them never rise to possess the earth

or cover the face of the world with cities.


22 I will rise up against them, says the L ord of hosts, and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, offspring and posterity, says the L ord. 23And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction, says the L ord of hosts.


An Oracle concerning Assyria


The L ord of hosts has sworn:

As I have designed,

so shall it be;

and as I have planned,

so shall it come to pass:


I will break the Assyrian in my land,

and on my mountains trample him under foot;

his yoke shall be removed from them,

and his burden from their shoulders.


This is the plan that is planned

concerning the whole earth;

and this is the hand that is stretched out

over all the nations.


For the L ord of hosts has planned,

and who will annul it?

His hand is stretched out,

and who will turn it back?


An Oracle concerning Philistia


In the year that King Ahaz died this oracle came:



Do not rejoice, all you Philistines,

that the rod that struck you is broken,

for from the root of the snake will come forth an adder,

and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.


The firstborn of the poor will graze,

and the needy lie down in safety;

but I will make your root die of famine,

and your remnant I will kill.


Wail, O gate; cry, O city;

melt in fear, O Philistia, all of you!

For smoke comes out of the north,

and there is no straggler in its ranks.



What will one answer the messengers of the nation?

“The L ord has founded Zion,

and the needy among his people

will find refuge in her.”


21. Prepare slaughter for his children. Here Isaiah prophesies more plainly than before against the king of Babylon. He speaks of the whole of his descendants, to whom he intimates that this destruction extends. We must keep in mind what we formerly said, that hitherto the Prophet has spoken not of a single man, but of a whole dynasty; and now he removes all doubt as to the metaphorical language. The rendering given by the old translation, Prepare his children for the slaughter, does not agree well; for the preposition ל, (lamed,) which is prefixed, evidently shows that it ought to be translated to or for the children.

We must see to whom this discourse relates. It must be understood that reference is made, though not directly expressed, to some servants as officers or executioners, whom the Lord orders to be in a state of preparation for executing his judgments. And who were they? Partly the Medes and Persians, and partly others by whom Babylon was completely overthrown; for, as we have formerly said, Babylon was not entirely destroyed when the Persians subdued it. He therefore addresses those whom the Lord, by his eternal decree, had appointed to destroy Babylon. This mode of expression is more energetic than if he had merely said that slaughter was prepared; for he shows that he not only disposes of wicked men according to his pleasure, but that he has servants at hand to punish their sins.

For the iniquity of their fathers. When he says that in this manner the iniquity of the fathers is punished, it may at first sight appear to be excessively harsh to include the children along with the fathers in what relates to the infliction of punishment on them, and still more harsh, that the punishment due to the fathers should be extended even to their children and grandchildren. This inconsistency may easily be avoided if the word עון (gnavon) be translated misery; for it denotes the punishment of sin as well as sin itself. (Exodus 20:5, 34:7; Deuteronomy 5:9; Jeremiah 32:18.) But as it is frequently stated in Scripture, that God recompenses the sins of the parents into the bosom of the children, there is no necessity for evading it in this manner.

Nor is this inconsistent with what is said by Ezekiel,

The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.
(Ezekiel 18:20.)

God does not punish any innocent person; and this passage ought not to be understood as if the punishment due to ancestors were transferred by God to children who in other respects deserved no such punishment; for the guilt of the children is connected with the guilt of the fathers. Not to mention the universal curse of the human race, to which all are subject from the womb, let us take the example of some wicked man. When the Lord casts away that man and his posterity, we certainly have no right to remonstrate with him. If his blessing is free and undeserved, we have no right to constrain him, because he does not bestow it equally on all. His grace is free; and each of us ought to reflect, that anything good which we have, does not naturally belong to us, but, on the contrary, comes from another quarter, and has proceeded from the undeserved goodness of God. If, therefore, he cast off any one, must not that man’s seed also be accursed? When we are destitute of his grace, what remains but iniquity? And if they are liable to eternal death, much more to temporal punishments; for he who has been condemned to undergo capital punishment, deserves much more to endure imprisonment and scourging.

This ought to be carefully observed. I consider it to be a childish reply that is given by those who think that the Lord inflicts temporal punishments on the children of wicked men for the sins of their parents, and who do not look upon it as unworthy of God to inflict punishments of this nature even on innocent persons; for God never punishes those who do not deserve it, and he is by nature inclined to compassion; and how would he spare wicked men if he exercised his wrath against the innocent? We ought, therefore, to hold it as a settled point, that all who are destitute of the grace of God are involved in the sentence of eternal death. Hence it follows, that the children of the reprobate, whom the curse of God pursues, are liable to the same sentence. Isaiah, therefore, does not speak of innocent children, but of flagitious and unprincipled children, who perhaps even exceeded their parents in wickedness; in consequence of which they were justly associated with their parents, and subjected to the same punishment, seeing that they have followed the same manner of life.

It will be said, that in that case they suffer the punishment of their own sin and not of their parents. This, I acknowledge, is partly true; but it was with their parents that the rejection began, on account of which they also have been forsaken and rejected by God. Their own guilt is not set aside as if they had been innocent; but, having been involved in the same sins as to reprobation, they are also liable to the same punishments and miseries. I am aware that this solution does not satisfy those who never cease to quarrel with God; but I give myself little concern about them, provided that I satisfy godly persons and those who are not fond of disputing; and these, I hope and trust, will be well satisfied with this reply, which is true.

That they may not fill the face of the world with cities. Some render it, that they may not fill the face of the earth with enemies; as if the Prophet meant that all wicked men are enemies of the human race, or rather of the whole earth; and, therefore, that the Lord provides for the safety of all, when he takes them out of the midst; for the earth would otherwise be choked by them as by thorns and briers. But this signification appears to express something more; for the earth receives us into her bosom, if we do our duty; and if we be despisers of God, the earth, even against her will, nourishes and supports us as enemies.

But I would rather follow another signification, which is more commonly received. I think that the Prophet intimates that wicked men have a numerous progeny, and that they surpass others both in numbers and in display, which we also see taking place every day, and which has originated the proverb, that “a bad reed grows quickly.” The Prophet, therefore, insinuates, that wicked men would fill the whole earth not only with men, but also with towns, if the Lord did not beforehand perceive and guard against this evil, and diminish their number. When we everywhere see a vast multitude of wicked men, by whom the earth is almost overwhelmed, it is what we richly deserve; but the Lord never deals so harshly with us as not to leave some remnant of good seed, however small, and likewise to reserve some corners of the earth in which godly men shall have a little breathing. And if the Lord did not cut off a large proportion of wicked men, the earth would undoubtedly be soon overwhelmed by them.

This confirms what we have already said, that the children of the Babylonians who were slain were not innocent, for here the cause is assigned, that they may not fill the earth with cities. It follows, therefore, that they were wicked, and are taken away by a righteous judgment, that provision may be made for the salvation of men, and that the Lord cannot be accused of harshness and cruelty.

22. For I will rise up against them. The Lord now declares that he will do what he had formerly, by the Prophet, commanded others to do. Both statements ought to be observed, that it is the work of God, when wicked men are ruined, though he may employ the agency of men in executing his judgments. He formerly addressed them, saying, Prepare. (Verse. 21.) This should lead us to observe not only the power of God, but likewise the efficacy of prophecy, in consequence of which the prophets, by the appointment of God, command all nations to do this or that; and next, that men are so far from being able to hinder the accomplishment that they are even constrained to yield obedience to God. As we usually rely on men, and, by neglecting God, attribute to them the power of doing everything, we ought to hold by this principle, that since God acts by means of them, he is, strictly speaking, the Author of the work, and that they are only servants or instruments. This is clearly enough shown by the connection of what immediately follows.

I have thought it best to view the particle ו (vau) as meaning for. He assigns the reason why he enjoins the Medes and others to prepare destruction to the Babylonians, For I will rise up against them. This mode of expression, by which the Lord says that he riseth up, is sufficiently common. By means of it, the Prophet accommodates himself to our capacity, for the majesty of God is so high that we cannot conceive of it. We think that God is idle and unoccupied, so long as he winks at men; and therefore he says that he riseth up, when he exerts his power, and manifests it by some visible act.

Saith the Lord of hosts. This title serves to confirm the statement; as if he had said that he did not, without good grounds, claim the government over the nations; for God governs all armies by his own hand. Since, therefore, he has been appointed to make known the purpose of God, it belongs to him to command men, that they may yield obedience to him. By the words saith the Lord, which he twice repeats in this verse, he affirms that he utters nothing but what has been commanded by God, that this prophecy may carry greater weight.

And I will cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, son and grandson. It has been often enough mentioned before, that this destruction did not overtake Babylon till after the death of Alexander the Great. By the phrase sons and grandsons, he means not only the posterity but the remembrance, which wicked men are so desirous to obtain, in order that they may be applauded for many ages after their death. This also the Lord took away from Babylon, that no remembrance of it might remain, but what was accompanied by dishonor and reproach.

23. And I will make it to be a possession of the hedgehog. 228228    {Bogus footnote} He again confirms the same things which he formerly predicted, namely, that henceforth it will not be a habitation of men, but will resemble a hideous cavern, in which wild beasts shall lurk. קפד (kippod) is rendered by some a beaver, by some a tortoise, and by others a hedgehog. From the connection of the passage, it is probable that the Prophet spoke of an animal that is found near the water; for he afterwards mentions pools of water. This applies strictly to the situation of the place, for though Babylon did not lie in a marsh, yet it lay in a moist place, the country around it being watered on one side by the Euphrates, and on the other by the Tigris. Hence the Lord threatens to bring a deluge upon it. 229229    {Bogus footnote}

24. The Lord of hosts hath sworn. For more full confirmation an oath was necessary. There is nothing of which it is more difficult to convince us than that wicked men will immediately be ruined, when we see them flourishing, and furnished with all means of defense, and seemingly placed out of danger, and free from all fear. We are therefore stunned by beholding them, and are dazzled by their brightness, so that we can scarcely believe God when he foretells their ruin and destruction. On this account he employs an oath, that he may leave no room for doubt. Hence we learn how great is his forbearance towards us, when he aids our weakness by applying this remedy, for otherwise he might have been satisfied with simply declaring it. This tends to the consolation of the godly, as we shall afterwards see. (Isaiah 22:14.)

If it hath not been as I thought. The elliptical form of an oath which he employs must be well known, for it occurs frequently in Scripture. The Lord purposely used this guarded language, that we might not be too free in the use of oaths, which burst from us daringly and at random. He suppresses the greater part of the oath. “If I shall not do what I have decreed, let men think that I am a liar, and let them not think that I am God;” or something of this kind (which we shudder to express) is left to be supplied. Men ought, therefore, to lay a bridle on themselves, so as not to break out at random into imprecations, or to pronounce shocking curses against themselves; but let them learn from this to restrain their insolence.

25. That I may bruise the Assyrian in my land. Some think that this relates to Sennacherib’s army, which the hand of God destroyed by means of an angel, when he besieged Jerusalem. (2 Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36.) If this interpretation be preferred, the meaning will be, that the Lord will shortly give some evidence of that destruction which he has threatened against the Babylonians. Those who heard these predictions might have brought this objection: “Of what avail will it be to us that Babylon is destroyed, after Babylon has ruined us? Would it not have been better that both Babylon and we had remained uninjured? What consolation will be yielded to us by its destruction, when we, too, shall have been destroyed?” And, indeed, I have no doubt that he holds out a proof of God’s favor in destroying their enemies, which either had been already manifested, or would be manifested soon afterwards.

I dare not affirm at what time this prediction was uttered by the Prophet, but it may be conjectured with some probability that the slaughter of Sennacherib’s army by the angel had already taken place. In this way, from a striking event which they had known, the Prophet would lead them to expect a future redemption; as if he had said, “You have already perceived how wonderfully God assists his people at the very hour of danger.” I am thus prepared to assign a reason for thinking that Sennacherib’s army had been already slain. Undoubtedly this instruction must have been of some use.

But Babylon did not begin to give any annoyance to the Jews before she had subdued the Assyrians and renewed the monarchy. So long, therefore, as the Jews had nothing to do with Babylon, why did the Prophet speak of the judgment of God, by which he would avenge his people? There is no absurdity in supposing that the record of a past event is confounded with a prediction. And yet it will not be inadmissible to say that the Assyrians are here put for the Chaldeans; for though they had been deprived of the government, yet it is probable that they were always first in a state of readiness whenever there was an opportunity of attacking the Jews, and that, while they fought under foreign leaders, they formed the greater part of the army. Not only were they nearer than the Chaldeans, but those who at that time held the sway were aware that their inveterate hostility against the Jews would make them loyal and obedient in that war. Besides, it was advantageous to the conquerors to weaken the vanquished by continual wars, till they had been accustomed to bear the yoke.

Most appropriately, therefore, by a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole, Isaiah, though he is speaking of Babylon, describes the whole of its forces under the name of Assyria. There will thus be no argument which lays us under the necessity of explaining this passage as relating to the slaughter effected by the angel in Sennacherib’s army. The Prophet merely affirms, so far as my judgment goes, that the Lord will put an end to the tyranny of the Assyrians, so that they shall not always enjoy their present superiority. As if he had said, “Though for a time God permits wicked men to rule over you, this power will not always last; for one day he will, as it were, break the yoke, and deliver this people from this bondage under which they groan.” The Assyrians, though they were vanquished by the Chaldeans, did not on that account, as we have said, cease to be enemies of the Church; but Babylon, which had succeeded in the room of Nineveh, began at that time, by a kind of transferred right, to carry on war with the Jews.

And his yoke shall depart from them, and his burden shall be taken from their shoulder. When he says that the Assyrian will be broken in Judea, this must not be understood as if they would be slain there, or that they would be instantly crushed by some calamity; but that the chosen people would be delivered from their tyranny, and that their authority would thus be taken away. The breaking, therefore, does not refer so much to persons as to the empire. What he says about the yoke and the burden would not apply strictly to the Assyrians alone, who at least never were masters of the city of Jerusalem; and therefore we must attend to the succession which I mentioned, for the Chaldeans had no right to carry on war except that right which they boasted of as having been conveyed to them by the Assyrians. Thus I think that I am justified in extending this prophecy to that deliverance by which the Lord showed that he would avenge his people against the Chaldeans and Assyrians; for at that time the yoke was shaken off by which the Jews were miserably held bound, and it even includes the redemption obtained through Christ, of which that deliverance was a forerunner.

And upon my mountains I will tread him under feet. Some think that the word mountains is put in the plural number for Mount Zion; but I prefer a different interpretation. Jerusalem being situated among the mountains, the whole country around was despised for that reason. The Prophet therefore speaks contemptuously, as if he admitted that the country was regarded by the enemies as of little value because it was mountainous. But this very contempt serves to magnify the power of God; for he shakes off from his mountains the dominion of this powerful monarchy. This refers to the narrative contained in 1 Kings 20:23, 28

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