THE HOMAGE OF
Amid the general excitement caused by the advance of
stirred, and stirred to its furthest limits. The king sends messengers in beats
upon the canals and rivers to summon his troops to his standard (vs. 1-2).
The earth stands agaze to see the result of the approaching collision
(v. 3); but God rests calmly in heaven while events are ripening (vs. 4-5).
When the time comes He will strike the blow —
fowls of the air and the beasts of the field (v. 6). Then
make an act of homage to Jehovah by the sending of a present to
(v. 7). The time seems to be that immediately preceding the great
invasion of Sennacherib (about B.C. 700), when Shabatok the Ethiopian
more probably Lord Paramount of
1 “Woe to the land
shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of
Woe to the land; rather, Ho for the land! (compare ch. 17:12). Shadowing
with wings; literally, either the land of the shadow of wings or the land of
the noise of wings, most probably the latter. Allusion is thought to be made
to the swarms of buzzing flies, especially the tsetse, with
abounds. At the same time, these swarms are, perhaps, intended to be taken
as emblems of the hosts of warriors which
(compare ch. 7:18). Beyond the rivers of
be supposed to have had more than a vague knowledge of African geography.
however, to be aware that
(see Baker's 'Nile Tributaries'), and he assumes that the dominion of the
Ethiopian kings extends even beyond these rivers to the south of them.
His object is,
as Mr. Cheyne says, "to emphasize the greatness
It may be questioned, however, whether the dominion of the Ethiopian kings
of the time extended so far as he supposed. The seat of
their power was
now Gebel Berkal, in the great bend of the Nile between lat. 18° and 19° N.;
and its southern limit was probably Khar-toum
and the line of the
(see Rawlinson's 'History of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 2. p. 436).
2 “That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon
the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and
peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted
out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!” That sendeth
ambassadors; rather, perhaps, messengers, as the word is translated in
own people. By the sea. "The sea" must in this place necessarily mean
ch. 19:5. Vessels of papyrus could not possibly have been employed in the
very difficult navigation of the
of the boats used upon the
a sort of bulrush) we learn from Herodotus (it. 96), Theophrastus
('Hist. Plant.,' 4:9), Plutarch ('De Isid. et Osir.,' § 18), Pliny (Hist. 'Nat.,' 6:22),
and Lucan ('Pharsal.,' 4:136). They are represented occasionally on the Egyptian
monuments. Saying. This word is interpolated by our translators, and gives
a wrong sense. It is the prophet that addresses the messengers, not the king
who sends them. To a nation scattered and peeled; rather, tall and polished,
or tall and sleek. The word translated "scattered" means properly "drawn out,"
and seems to be applied here to the physique of the Ethiopians, whose
stature is said to have been remarkable (Herod., 3:20, 114). The other epithet
refers to the glossy skin of the people. A people terrible from their beginning
hitherto; The Israelites first knew the Ethiopians as soldiers when they
formed a part of the army brought by Shishak
Rehoboam, about B.C. 970 (II Chronicles 12:3). They had afterwards
experience of their vast numbers, when Zerah made his attack upon Asa;
but on this occasion they succeeded in defeating them (ibid. 14:9-13).
It was not till
about two centuries after this that the power of
began to be really formidable to
they had been in the habit of calling them, acquired the preponderating
influence in the valley of the
Tirhakah (Tahark), reduced
their rise under Piankhi as "their beginning." A nation meted out and
trodden down; rather, a nation of meting out and trampling; i.e. one
accustomed to mete out its neighbors' bounds with a measuring-line,
and to trample other nations under its feet. Whose land the rivers have spoiled;
rather, whose land rivers despoil. The deposit of mud, which fertilizes
is washed by the rivers from
quantities of rich soil. This fact was well known to the Greeks (Herod., 2:12,
ad fin.), and there is no reason why Isaiah should not have been acquainted with it.
3 “All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he
lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.”
All ye inhabitants of the world. From exhorting the messengers to hasten on their
errand, Isaiah turns to the nations generally, and bids them attend to a coming
signal - an ensign is about to be raised, a trumpet is about to be sounded –
let them gaze and hearken; the result will be well worth noting. The imagery is
not to be taken literally, but in the same way as the notices in ch. 11:10, 12;
. When he lifteth up an ensign... when he bloweth a trumpet; rather,
when an ensign is lifted up... when a trumpet sounds. On the mountains.
Wherever the great event took place, the signal for it was given on the
Many student of the Word consider the “ensign” mentioned here
to be the ark of the tabernacle, which was later transferred to the
temple. It disappeared at the time of the Babylonian captivity, and
there is a tradition
which says it was carried to
told that there is a church in that land that claims to have the ark.
I don’t know if is true or not, but an ensign will come out of that land.
4 “For so the LORD said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in
my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the
heat of harvest.” For so; rather, for thus. The word koh is prospective. I will
take my rest, and I will consider; or, I will be still and look on. The rest of God
is contrasted with the bustle and hurry of the Ethiopians and Assyrians. God
"sits in His holy seat," calm and tranquil, knowing what the result is about
to be, and when it will be; He waits while the influences of heat and
moisture, sunshine and dew - His own agencies - ripen
impassive, taking no part. Then, suddenly, He takes the part described in
the latter portion of v. 5, "cuts off the shoots and hews down the branches."
Like a clear heat upon herbs, etc.; rather, while there is clear heat in
the sunshine, while there is a cloud of dew in the harvest-warmth; i.e.
while surrounding influences are such as must favor the
power and pride.
5 “For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is
ripening in the flower, He shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks,
and take away and cut down the branches.” For afore the harvest. God can
rest thus tranquil, because He can step in at any time; and this He is about
when the blossom is past, and the green grape is becoming a ripening bunch.
He shall cut off (compare ch. 10:33-34). The metaphor is slightly varied
in this place, to suit the imagery of the preceding clause,
has been represented as a vine-stock. Formerly her "boughs" were to
be "lopped;" now her "branches" and "sprigs" or "sprouts" are to be cut
away with pruning-hooks.
6 “They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the
beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the
beasts of the earth shall winter upon them.” They shall be left together
unto the fowls. At length imagery is dropped. The vine is shown to be an
army, slaughtered all "together," and left a prey to kites and vultures, jackals
and hyaenas. Shall summer... shall winter. They will furnish food to the beasts
and birds of prey for the remainder of the year.
7 “In that time shall the present be brought unto the LORD of hosts of a
people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning
hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers
have spoiled, to the place of the name of the
LORD of hosts, the
In that time shall the present be brought; rather, a present. It would not be at all
improbable that Tirkakah should, after the destruction of Sennacherib’s army,
send a gift to the temple of the Jews, either as a recognition of the miracle as
wrought by Jehovah, or simply as a thank offering. Necho sent the armor in
which he had fought at
historical record of Tirkakah’s present as sent. Of a people (compare the next
clause, which supplies the ellipse of the preposition). For the rest of the verse
see notes on v. 2.
evidently a reference to the time when the
established on this earth
and the Ethiopians will come again to
worship. There is no judgment spoken against them. In Psalm 87:4, evidently
in reply to what
he is doing in
born there.” God has wonderful things to say about
Who knows the influence that the Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion
to Christ had on that country in the Christian era? – Acts 8:26-40
The Contrast of Divine Calm with Human Bustle, Hurry, and Excitement.
When men take a matter in hand wherein they feel an interest, and set
themselves either to carry out a certain design of their own, or to frustrate
the designs of others, nothing is more remarkable than (if we may use a
vulgarism) the “fuss” that they make about it. Heaven and earth are moved,
so to speak, for the accomplishment of the desired end; the entire nation is
excited, stirred, thrilled to its lowest depths; a universal eagerness prevails;
is noise, clamor, haste, bustle, tumult, whirl, confusion.
“noise” is compared (Isaiah 17:12) to the roar of the sea, and the
rushing of mighty waters.
(Isaiah 18:1). Even Cyrus, though he has a Divine mission, cannot set
about it without “the noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a
great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered
together” (Isaiah 13:4). It is in vain that men are told to “stand still and
see the salvation of God” (Exodus 14:13), or admonished that “in
quietness and confidence should be their strength” (Isaiah 30:15); they
cannot bring themselves to act on the advice tendered. Great minds indeed
are comparatively quiet and tranquil; but even they are liable upon occasion
to be swept away by the prevailing wave of excited feeling, and dragged, as
it were, from their moorings into a turbid ocean. And the mass of mankind
is wholly without calm or stability. It trembles, flutters, rushes hither and
thither, mistakes activity for energy, and “fussiness” for the power of
achievement. This condition of things results from three weaknesses in
I. MAN’S WANT OF PATIENCE. Man desires to obtain whatever end he
sets himself at once. The boy is impatient to be grown up, the private
would at once be a general, the clerk a partner, the student a professor of
his science. Men “make haste to be rich” (Proverbs 28:20), and
overshoot the mark, and fall hack into poverty. They strive to become
world-famous when they are mere tyros, and put forth ambitious writings
which only show their ignorance. They fail to recognize the force of the
proverb, that “everything comes to those who wait.” To toil long, to
persevere, to make a small advance day after day — this seems to them a
poor thing, an unsatisfactory mode of procedure. They would reach the
end per saltum, “by a bound.” Hence their haste. Too often “most haste is
worst speed” “Vaulting ambition cloth o’er leap itself, and falls on the
II. MAN’S WANT OF CONFIDENCE IN HIMSELF. He who is sure of
himself can afford to wait. He knows that he will succeed in the end; what
matters whether a little sooner or a little later? But the bulk of men are not
sure of themselves; they misdoubt their powers, capacities, perseverance,
steadiness, reserve fund of energy. Hence their spasmodic efforts, hurried
movements, violent agitations, frantic rushings hither and thither. If they do
not gain their end at once, they despair of ever attaining it. They are
conscious of infinite weakness in themselves, and feel that they cannot tell
what a day may bring forth in the way of defeat and disappointment. They
say that it is necessary to strike while the iron is hot; but their real reason
for haste is that they question whether their ability to strike will not have
passed away if they delay ever so little.
III. MAN’S WANT OF CONFIDENCE IS GOD. He who feels that
God is on his side has no need to disquiet himself. He will not fear the
powers of darkness; he will not be afraid of what flesh can do unto him.
But comparatively few men have this feeling. Either they put the thoughts
of God altogether away from them, or they view Him as an enemy, or they
misdoubt, at any rate, His sympathy with themselves. Mostly they feel that
they do not deserve His sympathy. They cannot “rest in the Lord,” and
they cannot find rest outside of Him. Hence they remain in perpetual
disturbance and unrest. Strangely in contrast with man’s unquiet is God’s
immovable calm and unruffled tranquility. “The Lord said, I will take my
rest” (v. 4). None can really resist His will, and hence he has no need to
trouble himself if resistance is attempted. “The fierceness of man” will
always “turn to His praise.” Time is no object with Him who is above time,
“whose goings have been from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2). In silence
and calm He accomplishes His everlasting purposes. Himself at rest in the
still depths of His unchangeable nature, it is He alone who can give His
creatures rest. As they grow more like to Him, they will grow more and
more tranquil, until the time comes when they will enter finally into that
rest which “remaineth for His people” (Hebrews 4:9).
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