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Bel bows down, Nebo stoops,

their idols are on beasts and cattle;

these things you carry are loaded

as burdens on weary animals.


They stoop, they bow down together;

they cannot save the burden,

but themselves go into captivity.



Listen to me, O house of Jacob,

all the remnant of the house of Israel,

who have been borne by me from your birth,

carried from the womb;


even to your old age I am he,

even when you turn gray I will carry you.

I have made, and I will bear;

I will carry and will save.



To whom will you liken me and make me equal,

and compare me, as though we were alike?


Those who lavish gold from the purse,

and weigh out silver in the scales—

they hire a goldsmith, who makes it into a god;

then they fall down and worship!


They lift it to their shoulders, they carry it,

they set it in its place, and it stands there;

it cannot move from its place.

If one cries out to it, it does not answer

or save anyone from trouble.



Remember this and consider,

recall it to mind, you transgressors,


remember the former things of old;

for I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is no one like me,


declaring the end from the beginning

and from ancient times things not yet done,

saying, “My purpose shall stand,

and I will fulfill my intention,”


calling a bird of prey from the east,

the man for my purpose from a far country.

I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;

I have planned, and I will do it.



Listen to me, you stubborn of heart,

you who are far from deliverance:


I bring near my deliverance, it is not far off,

and my salvation will not tarry;

I will put salvation in Zion,

for Israel my glory.


3. Hear me. Here the Prophet beautifully points out the vast difference between the true God and idols. Having formerly said that the Babylonian gods must be drawn on waggons and carts, because they consist of dead matter, he now ascribes a widely different office to the God of Israel, namely, that he “carries” his people, like a mother, who carries the child in her womb, and afterwards carries it in her bosom. He addresses the Jews, that they may return an answer from their experience; for this ought to have powerfully affected them, when they actually felt that he bore them and their burdens. He, therefore, makes use of a highly appropriate contrast, and concludes from the preceding statements: “Acknowledge that I am the true God, and that I differ widely from idols, which are useless and dead weights; for you have known and experienced my power by constant benefits, which I have not ceased to confer upon you from the womb.” God is not only powerful in himself, but diffuses his power through all the creatures; so that we feel his strength and energy.

Who are carried from the womb. This is a very expressive metaphor, by which God compares himself to a mother who carries a child in her womb. He speaks of the past time, when he began to give them testimonies of his grace. Yet the words might be taken as meaning simply that God kindly nourished that people, like an infant taken from its mother’s womb, and carried it in his bosom, as the Psalmist says,

“I was cast upon thee from the womb, thou art my God from my mother’s belly.”
(Psalm 22:10.)

But as God did not only begin to act as the father and nurse of his people from the time when they were born, but also “begat them” (James 1:18) spiritually, I do not object to extending the words so far as to mean, that they were brought, as it were, out of the bowels of God into a new life and the hope of an eternal inheritance.

If it be objected, that God is everywhere called “a Father,” (Jeremiah 31:9; Malachi 1:6,) and that this title is more appropriate to him, I reply, that no figures of speech can describe God’s extraordinary affection towards us; for it is infinite and various; so that, if all that can be said or imagined about love were brought together into one, yet it would be surpassed by the greatness of the love of God. By no metaphor, therefore, can his incomparable goodness be described. If you understand it, simply to mean that God, from the time that he begat them, gently carried and nourished them in his bosom, this will agree admirably with what we find in the Song of Moses,

“He bore them, and carried them, as an eagle carrieth her young on her wings.” (Deuteronomy 32:11.)

In a word, the intention of the Prophet is to shew, that the Jews, if they do not choose to forget their descent, cannot arrive at any other conclusion than that they were not begotten in vain, and that God, who has manifested himself to be both their Father and their Mother, will always assist them; and likewise, that they have known his power by uninterrupted experience, so that they ought not to pay homage to idols.

All the remnant of the house of Israel. By calling them a “remnant” he means, as we formerly remarked, that the greater part had been alienated from the Church by their revolt, so that the hope of deliverance belonged only to a very small number. On this account he demands from them a hearing; for unbelievers, not less than heathen nations, were utterly deaf to his voice. Now, although the people were so far from being in their unbroken strength, that the dispersion of them had left but a small number behind, yet God bids them consider how wonderfully they have been hitherto preserved, that they may not doubt that he will henceforth act towards them, as he has hitherto acted, the part of both father and mother. And when he demands that they shall listen to him, he shews that the true and indeed the only remedy for our distresses and calamities is, to hang on his mouth, and to be attentive to the promises of grace; for then shall we have sufficient courage to bear every affliction; but if not, the way is opened for despair, and we ought not to expect anything else than destruction.

4 And even to old age. Here I explain the copulative ו (vau) to mean therefore; and the reasoning ought to be carefully observed, for he argues thus, “I have begotten and brought you forth;” and again, “Even when you were little children, I carried you in my arms, and therefore I will be the guardian of your life till the end.” Thus also David reasons,

“Thou art he who brought me out of the womb; I trusted in thee while I hung on my mother’s breasts; I was cast upon thee from my birth; thou art my God from my mother’s womb.”
(Psalm 22:10.)

He therefore promises that he will always be a Father to the Jews; and hence we see that we ought to cherish assured confidence of salvation from the time that the Lord hath once begun it in us, for he wishes to continue his work till the end. “The Lord,” says David, “will complete what he hath begun;” and again,

“O Lord, thy loving-kindness is eternal, and thou wilt not forsake the works of thy hands.” (Psalm 138:8.)

I am the same. The Hebrew word הוא (hu) is, in my opinion, very emphatic, though some interpreters render it simply by the demonstrative pronoun He; 216216     “I (am) he.” (Eng. Ver.) This is the literal rendering. — Ed. but it means that God is always “the same” and like himself, not only in his essence, but with respect to us, so that we ourselves shall feel that he is the same. When he says, “Even to old age,” 217217     “‘When thou shalt be old, and thy strength shall fail, (for thou hast no merits or works of righteousness,) I am the same as to my mercy and kindness, to keep, and carry, and bear, and deliver;’ for the Prophet had said of the idol that it is carried about, and cannot rid itself of its own burden, and therefore God says here, ‘I am He who carry others and bear my own burden.’” — Jarchi. it might be thought absurd; for we ought to become full-grown men after having been carried by God from infancy. But if any one shall examine it properly, it will be found that we never make so great progress as not to need to be upheld by the strength of God, for otherwise the most perfect man would stumble every moment; as David also testifies,

“Forsake me not in the time of old age, withdraw not from me when my strength faileth.” (Psalm 71:9.)

I have made and will carry. He again argues in the same manner. God does not regard what we deserve, but continues his grace toward us; and therefore we ought to draw confidence from it, “Thou didst create us, not only that we might be human beings, but that we might be thy children; and therefore thou wilt continue till the end to exercise continually toward us the care of a father and of a mother.”

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