Isaiah 14
Pulpit Commentary
For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
Verses 1-23. - THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL, AND HER SONG OF TRIUMPH OVER BABYLON. The destruction of Babylon is to be followed by the restoration of Israel, with the good will of the nations, and by their exercising rule over their late oppressors (vers. 1, 2). In this time of rest and refreshment they will sing a song of triumph over Babylon. The song extends from ver. 4 to ver. 23. It consists of five stanzas, or strophes, each comprising seven long lines, after which there is a brief epode, or epilogue, of a different character. This epode is comprised in vers. 22 and 23. Verse 1. - For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob. God's purpose of mercy upon Israel requires, as its preliminary, the destruction of Babylon, and may be considered as the final cause of that destruction. His desire to have mercy on Israel soon is the reason why the days of Babylon are not prolonged (see Isaiah 13:22). Will yet choose Israel. The Captivity was a rejection of Israel from their position as a favored race - God's peculiar people; their restoration was a fresh "choice" of them out of all the nations of the world, a free act of grace on his part; to which they had no claim or right whatsoever. And set them in their own land; or, on their own ground. The land that once was theirs, but which they had forfeited by their disobedience, could only become "their own" again by a fresh gift from God. The strangers shall be joined with them; rather, the stranger shall join himself to them. On the return from the Captivity, there would be an influx of proselytes from the nations, who would voluntarily join themselves to those whom they saw favored both by God and man (comp. Esther 8:17). Though the Jews did not commonly seek proselytes, they readily received such as offered themselves. A further fulfillment of the prophecy took place when the Gentiles flocked into the Church of God after the coming of Christ.
And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
Verse 2. - And the people shall take them; rather, peoples shall take them. The heathen nations among whom they have dwelt shall rejoice at the restoration of Israel to their own land, and even escort them in a friendly spirit to their borders (comp. Ezra 1:4, 6; Nehemiah 2:7-9). Some shall go so far as voluntarily to become their bondservants in Palestine. They shall take them captive, whose captives they were. This can scarcely have been intended literally. The Jews were at no time a conquering people, nor one that set itself to "take captives." The true meaning is that Jewish ideas shall penetrate and subdue the nations generally, and among them those with whom Israel had dwelt as captives. The Jews did become very powerful and numerous both in Assyria and Babylonia about the first century after Christ, and Christian Churches were early formed in Mesopotamia, Adiabene, and even Babylon.
And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,
Verse 3. - The hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve (comp. Isaiah 47:6). We have no detailed account of the Babylonian, as we have of the Egyptian, servitude; but it was probably well-nigh as grievous. A few, of royal descent, might be eunuchs in the palace of the great king (2 Kings 20:18; Daniel 1:3), and hold offices of trust; but with the bulk of the nation it was otherwise. Psalm 137, has the plaintive ring which marks it as the utterance of a sorely oppressed people. And there are passages of Ezekiel which point in the same direction (see especially Ezekiel 34:27-29).
That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
Verse 4. - Thou shalt take up this proverb; rather, this parable, as the word is translated in Numbers 23, and 24; in Job 26:1; Job 29:1; Psalm 49:4; Psalm 78:2; Ezekiel 17:2; Ezekiel 20:49; Ezekiel 21:5; Ezekiel 24:3; Micah 2:4; Habakkuk 2:6; or "this taunting speech," as our translators render in the margin (see Cheyne, ad loc.; and comp. Hebrews 2:6). The golden city. There are two readings here - mad-hebah and marhebah. The latter reading was preferred anciently, and is followed by the LXX., the Syriac and Chaldee Versions, the Targums, Ewald, Gesenius, and Mr. Cheyne. It would give the meaning of" the raging one." Madhebah, however, is preferred by Rosenmüller, Vitringa, and Dr. Kay. It is supposed to mean "golden," from d'hab, the Chaldee form of the Hebrew zahob, gold. But the question is pertinent - Why should a Chaldee form have been used by a Hebrew writer ignorant of Chaldee and Chaldea?
The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.
Verse 5. - The staff... the scepter. Symbols of Babylonian power (scrap. Isaiah 10:5).
He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
Verse 6. - He who smote the people; rather, which smote the peoples. The participle translated "he who smote" refers to "staff" or "scepter." With a continual stroke; i.e. incessantly, one war following another without pause or stop. He that ruled, etc.; rather, which ruled the nations in anger with a persecution that held not back.
The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
Verse 7. - At rest... singing. The first result of the fall of Babylon is general peace, rest, and quiet; then the nations, recognizing the blessedness of the change, burst out into a song of rejoicing. The peace did not really continue very long; for Persia took up the role of conqueror which Babylon had been forced to drop, and, under Cambyses and Darius Hystaspis, produced as much stir and disturbance as had been caused by Babylon., Still, there was an interval of about eleven years between the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus ( B.C. 538), and the expedition by Cambyses against Egypt ( B.C. 527).
Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
Verse 8. - Fir trees...cedars. We may detect a double meaning here - one literal, the other metaphorical. Literally, the trees of Lebanon and the other mountain ranges would be spared, since, while both the Assyrian and Babylonian kings cut timber in the Syrian forests for building purposes, the Persians had no such practice; metaphorically, the firs and cedars are the kings and nobles of the countries (comp. Ezekiel 31:16), who likewise had a respite. Since thou art laid down; rather, since thou liest low. The first stanza here ends, and the second begins with the next verse.
Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
Verse 9. - Hell from beneath. The Hebrew Sheol corresponded nearly to the Greek Hades, and the Latin Inferi. It was a dismal region in the center of the earth, whither departed souls descended, and where they remained thenceforth. There were various depths in it, each apparently more dismal than the preceding; but there is no evidence that it was considered to contain any place of happiness, until after the return from the Captivity. The prophet here represents Sheol as disturbed by the advent of the Babylonian monarch, and as rousing itself to receive him. The great ones of the earth, and the kings, who are kings even in Hades, and sit upon thrones, are especially moved by the occasion, and prepare to meet and greet their brother. Personal identity and continued consciousness of it after death are assumed; and the former earthly rank of the inmates seems to be recognized and maintained. It stirreth up the dead. Hell in the aggregate - the place personified - proceeds to arouse the individual inmates, who are called re-phaim - the word commonly translated "giants" (Deuteronomy 2:11, 20; Deuteronomy 13:12; Joshua 12:4; Joshua 13:12, etc.), but meaning properly "feeble ones." The shades or ghosts of the departed were regarded as weak and nerveless, in comparison with living men (compare the Homeric εἴδωλα καμόντων). All the chief ones; literally, the he-goats (comp. Jeremiah 1:8; Jeremiah 51:40; Zechariah 10:3). Raised up from their thrones; i.e. "caused to rise up from their thrones," and stand in eager expectation of what was about to happen.
All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
Verse 10. - Art thou also become weak as we? rather, So thou also art made weak as we! (On the supposed weakness of the dead, see the comment on ver. 9.)
Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
Verse 11. - The noise of thy viols. (On the fondness of the Babylonians for music, and the number and variety of their musical instruments, see Daniel 3:7, 10, etc.) The word here translated "viol" is more commonly rendered "psaltery." (On the probable character of the instrument intended, see note on Isaiah 5:12.) The worm is spread under thee, etc.; rather, beneath thee is spread the maggot, and the worm covereth thee. The thought of the grave brings the thought of corruption with it. For cushion and for coverlet the royal corpse has only the loathsome creatures which come with putrescence. At this point the second stanza terminates.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Verse 12. - How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer! Babylon's sudden fall is compared, with great force and beauty, to the (seeming) fall of a star from heaven. The word translated "Lucifer" means properly "shining one," and no doubt here designates a star; but whether any particular star or no is uncertain. The LXX. translated by ἑωσφόρος, whence our "Lucifer." The subjoined epithet, "son of the morning" or "of the dawn," accords well with this rendering. How art thou cut down to the ground! One of Isaiah's favorite changes of metaphor. It is a favorite metaphor also to which he reverts - that of representing the destruction of a nation by the felling of a tree or of a forest (comp. Isaiah 2:12, 13; Isaiah 10:33, 34, etc.). Which didst weaken the nations; rather, which didst prostrate the nations. The word used is one of great force (comp. Exodus 17:13; Job 14:10).
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Verse 13. - For thou hast said; rather, and thou - thou saidst; i.e. weak as thou art now shown to have been, it was thou that didst dare to say. I will ascend into heaven, etc. (comp. Isaiah 10:13, 14; Isaiah 37:24, 25). Isaiah represents rather the thoughts of the Babylonian monarch than his actual words. The Babylonian inscriptions are full of boasting egotism; but they do not contain anything approaching to impiety. The king may regard himself as, in a certain sense, Divine; but still he entertains a deep respect and reverence for those gods whom he regards as the most exalted, as Merodach, Bel, Nebo, Sin, Shamas. He is their worshipper, their devotee, their suppliant (see 'Records of the Past,' vol. 5. pp. 111-148). The Babylonian monarchs may have believed that after death they would mount up to heaven and join the "assembly of the great gods" (ibid., vol. 3. p. 83); but we scarcely know enough as yet of the religions opinions of the Babylonians to state positively what their belief was on the subject of a future life. I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation. The early commentators explained this of Mount Zion, especially on account of the phrase, "in the sides of the north," which is used of the temple-bill in Psalm 48:2. But it is well objected that Mount Zion was a place of no grandeur or dignity or holiness to the Babylonians, who had made it a desolation; and that no Babylonian monarch would have desired to "sit" there. Moreover, the "mountain" of this passage must be one which is "above the heights of the clouds" and "above the stars of God," which the most imaginative poet could not have said of Mount Zion. A mythic mountain, belonging to the Babylonian theosophy, was therefore seen to be intended, even before the times of cuneiform decipherment (Rosenmüller, Michaelis, Knobel). Now that the Babylonian inscriptions can be read, it is found that there was such a mountain, called "Im-Kharsak," or "Kharsak-Kurra," which is described as "the mighty mountain of Bel, whose head rivals heaven, whose root is the holy deep," and which "was regarded as the spot where the ark had rested, and where the gods had their seat" ('Records of the Past,' vol. 11. p. 131, with the comment of Mr. Sayce, p. 130). In Babylonian geography this mountain was identified, either with the peak of Rowandiz, or with Mount Elwend, near Ecbatana. In the sides of the north. Both El-wend and Rowandiz are situated to the northeast of Babylou - a position which, according to ancient ideas, might be described indifferently as "north" or "east."
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Verse 14. - I will be like the Most High (comp. Isaiah 47:8). It is a mistake to say that "the Assyrians gave the name of God to their monarchs" (Kay), or, at any rate, there is no evidence that they did. Nor does any king, either Assyrian or Babylonian, ever assume a Divine title. There is a marked difference in this respect between the Egyptian and the Assyro-Babylonian religions. Probably Isaiah only means that Babylonian monarchs thought of themselves as gods, worked their own wills, were wrapped up in themselves, did not in heart bow down to a higher Power.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Verse 15. - Thou shalt be brought down; rather, thou art brought down (comp. vers. 9-11). The sides of the pit; or, the recesses - the "lowest parts" of the pit. With those words the third stanza terminates.
They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
Verse 16. - They that see thee. Dr. Kay well observes that "here the scene of the parable is changed back to earth. The corpse of the mighty conqueror is lying unburied." Shall narrowly look upon thee. Like the inhabitants of hell (ver. 10), those of earth also shall scarcely believe their eyes. They shall look close to see if it is indeed the great king that is slain.
That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
Verse 17. - That opened not the house of his prisoners; literally, that loosed not his prisoners homewards. The long imprisonment of Jehoiachin by Nebuchadnezzar (thirty-six years, 2 Kings 25:27) is an illustration; but perhaps it is rather the retention in captivity of the entire Jewish people that is brought to the prophet's cognizance.
All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.
Verse 18. - All the kings of the nations, etc.; i.e. the other kings, speaking generally, died in peace, and had an honorable burial, each one in the sepulcher that he had prepared for himself as his final abode or "house" (comp. Isaiah 22:16). The care taken to prepare tombs was not confined to Egypt, though there obtaining its greatest development. Among others, the Persian kings certainly prepared their own sepulchers; and probably the practice was general.
But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
Verse 19. - But thou art cast out (see ver. 13). Again "thou" is emphatic. Translate, But thou - thou art cast out. The Babylonian monarch did not rest in the tomb which he had prepared for himself. His body was "cast out" - left, apparently, where it fell in battle. If there is allusion to any individual, it is probably to Belshazzar (Daniel 5:30). Like an abominable branch. As a shoot from a tree, which is disapproved, and so condemned and cut away. As the raiment of those that are slam. The garments of the slain, soaked in blood (Isaiah 9:5), were useless, and were consequently flung away or left to rot uncured for. So was it with the corpse of the great king. That go down to the stones of the pit. This clause is thought to be misplaced. It deranges the meter and damages the sense. Corpses were not interred on fields of battle in the East (Herod., 3:26). They were left to be "trodden underfoot." It is best, with Ewald and Mr. Cheyne, to transfer the clause to the commencement of the next verse. Thus the fourth stanza is relieved, and the fifth properly filled out.
Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned.
Verse 20. - If we make the alteration suggested in the preceding note, this verse will begin as follows: "They that have gone down to the stoner of the pit, with these thou shalt not be joined in burial" - a repetition certainly of the first clause of ver. 19, but with amplification, and with the reason appended. Thou hast destroyed thy land; i.e. "brought ruin on it by displeasing God, and causing him to visit it with a judgment." The seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned; rather, shall not be named forever (comp. Psalm 109:13). The meaning is that they shall have no seed, or, if they have any, that it shall be early cut off, and the whole race blotted out. Pretenders rose up under Darius Hystaspis, claiming descent from Belshazzar's father, Nabenidus; but the claim is characterized as false, and a false claim would scarcely have been set up had real descendants survived.
Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
Verse 21. - Prepare slaughter for his children. Belshazzar had "wives and concubines" (Daniel 5:2), and therefore probably children. The magnanimity of Cyrus may have spared them; but neither Cambyses nor Darius Hystaspis had the same merciful disposition. As soon as there was seen to be danger of Babylon revolting, they would almost certainly be put to death. For the iniquity of their fathers (comp. Exodus 20:5). The destruction of their posterity was a part of the punishment of the fathers. That they do not rise; i.e. "that they do not recover themselves and become great monarchs once more, and once more build great cities, "such as those which they were famous for Babel, Erech, Accad, Calneh, Ur, Sepharvaim, Borsippa, Opts, Teredon, etc. It was as city-builders that the Babylonians were especially celebrated (Genesis 10:10; Daniel 4:30; Herod., 1:178, etc.).
For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.
Verses 22, 23. - These verses constitute the epode of the poem. Their main object is to make it clear that the punishment about in fall on Babylon comes from none other than Jehovah, whose Name occurs twice in ver. 22, and emphatically closes ver. 23. The lines are much more irregular than those of the strophes, or stanzas. Verse 22. - And cut off from Babylon the name. It is not quite clear in what sense her "name" was to be "cut off" from Babylon. One of the main masses of ruin still bears the old name almost unchanged (Babil), and can scarcely be supposed to have lost it and afterwards recovered it. Perhaps "name" here means "fame" or "celebrity" (comp. Deuteronomy 26:19; Zephaniah 3:20). Son and nephew; rather, son and grandson, or issue and descendants. The same phrase occurs in the same sense in Genesis 21:23 and Job 18:19.
I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.
Verse 23. - A possession for the bittern. Some water-bird or other is probably intended, since the word used is joined in Isaiah 36:11 with the names of three other birds, and is also certainly a bird's name in Zephaniah 2:14; but the identification with the "bittern" is a mere guess, and rests on no authority. And pools of water. The swampy character of the country about the ruins of Babylon is generally noticed by travelers. It arises from neglect of the dams along the course of the Euphrates. Ker Porter says that "large deposits of the Euphrates water are left stagnant in the hollows between the ruins" ('Travels,' vol. 2. p. 389).
The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:
Verses 24-27. - A FURTHER PROPHECY OF DELIVERANCE FROM ASSYRIA. From the distant prospect of an ultimate deliverance from the power of Babylon, the prophet turns his gaze to a nearer, if not a greater, deliverance. The present enemy is Assyria. It is she who has carried Samaria into captivity, and who now threatens the independence of Judah. Deliverance from her has already been promised more than once (Isaiah 10:16-19, 25-27, 33, 34); but apparently the people are not reassured - they still dread the foe who is so near, and who seems so irresistible. God, therefore, condescends to give them a fresh prophecy, a fresh assurance, and to confirm it to them by an oath (ver. 24). The Assyrian power shall be broken - her yoke shall be cast off (ver. 25); God has declared his purpose, and nothing can hinder it (ver. 27). Verse 24. - Hath sworn. This is the emphatic word - the new thing in the prophecy. God but seldom declares his purposes with an oath - never but in condescension to the weakness of his creatures, who, though they misdoubt his word, can feel the immutability of an oath (Hebrews 6:17), and yield it the credence and the confidence which they refuse to a bare assertion. As I have thought... as I have purposed. A reference to the prophecies previously given in Isaiah 10. So shall it come to pass; literally, so it hath been - a striking instance of the "preterite of prophetic certainty." So shall it stand; literally, as I have purposed, that shall stand.
That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.
Verse 25. - I will break the Assyrian in my land. This is referred by some critics to the miraculous destruction of Sennacherib's army, and regarded as a proof that the scene, of that destruction was Judaea. But it is possible that a disaster to the forces of Sargon may be intended (see the comment on Isaiah 10:28-32). His yoke shall depart from off them (comp. Isaiah 10:27). The Assyrian yoke, imposed by Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 16:7-10), and (according to his own inscriptions) again by Sargon, was thrown off by Hezekiah, who "rebelled against the King of Assyria, and served him not" (2 Kings 18:7). It was this rebellion that provoked the expedition of Sennacherib, described in 2 Kings 18:13-16; and it may be this rejection of the yoke which is here prophesied.
This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.
Verse 26. - The whole earth... all the nations. Blows struck against Assyria or Babylonia affected all the then known nations Each, in its turn, was "the hammer of the whole earth" (Jeremiah 1:23), and a check received by either caused world-wide disturbance. No sooner did one subject nation recover her freedom, than an electric shock ran through all the rest - plots were laid, confederacies formed, revolts planned, embassies sent hither and thither. The complete destruction of Assyria involved a complete change in the relations, not only of the principal powers - Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Media, Elam, but even of the minor ones - Philistia, Edom, Moab, Syria, Phoenicia, Ammon.
For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
Verse 27. - His hand is stretched out; literally, his is the outstretched hand, which is more emphatic.
In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden.
Verses 28-32. - THE BURDEN OF PHILISTIA. The Philistines had suffered grievously at the hands of Judah in the reign of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6), and had retaliated in the reign of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:18). It would seem that after this they were invaded by Tiglath-Pileser, who penetrated as far as Gaza, which lie took ('Records of the Past,' vol. 5. p. 51) and made tributary, as he also did Ascalon ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. it. p. 399). Tiglath-Pileser died shortly before Ahaz, and the present "burden" seems to have been uttered in connection with his death. Isaiah warns Philistia (equivalent to "Palestina") that her rejoicing is premature; Tiglath-Pileser will have successors as powerful and as cruel as himself, and these successors will carry destruction and ravage over the whole land. Verse 28. - In the year that King Ahaz died was this burden. These words introduce the "burden of Philistia," and shows that it is chronologically out of place, since the prophecies from Isaiah 10. to Isaiah 14:1-27 have belonged to the reign of Hezekiah. Ahaz appears to have died early in B.C. 725.
Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
Verse 29. - Whole Palestina. The Greeks called Philistia τὴν Παλαιστίνην Συρίαν, or "Syria of the Philistines," whence the Latin "Palestina" and our "Palestine." Isaiah addresses the country as "whole Palestine," because, while it was made up of a number of principalities (1 Samuel 6:18), his message concerned it in its entirety. The rod of him that smote thee is broken. This can scarcely refer to the death of Ahaz, since Ahaz did not smite the Philistines, but was smitten by them (2 Chronicles 28:18). It may, however, refer to the death of Tiglath-Pileser, which took place only a year or two previously. Out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice; i.e. a more poisonous serpent (see note on Isaiah 11:8). Shal-maneser can scarcely be meant, since he does not, appear to have attacked the Philistines. Probably Sargon is intended, who "took Ashdod" (Isaiah 20:1), made Khanun, King of Gaza, prisoner ('Records of the Past,' vol. 9. p. 5), and reduced Philtstia generally to subjection. And his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent. The fruit of the cockatrice will be even more terrible and venomous. He will resemble the "fiery flying serpent" of the wilderness (Numbers 21:6). Sennacherib is, perhaps, this "fruit." He conquered Ascalon ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 432) and Ekron (ibid., p. 433), and had the kings of Gaze and Ashdod among his tributaries (ibid., p. 438, note 11).
And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant.
Verse 30. - The firstborn of the poor shall feed. The "firstborn of the poor" are the very poor (Jarchi, Rosenmüller). The refer-once is to the poor Israelites, who will "feed" and "lie down in safety" when Philistia is held in subjection. I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant. God kills with famine, man with the sword (see 2 Samuel 24:13, 14). When the Philistines had resisted behind their strong walls till hunger had done its work by thinning their ranks, the Assyrian conqueror would storm their strongholds and slaughter "the remnant."
Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone in his appointed times.
Verse 31. - Howl, O gate; cry, O city. Each city of Philistia is hidden to howl and lament. All will suffer; not one will be spared. Art dissolved; literally, art melted; i.e. "faintest through fear" (comp. Joshua 2:9; Jeremiah 49:23). There shall come from the north a smoke. The "smoke" is the Assyrian host, which ravages the country as it advances, burning towns, and villages, and peasants' cots, and watchmen's towers. It enters the country "from the north," as a matter of course, where it adjoins upon Judaea. The coast route, which led through the Plain of Sharon, was that commonly followed by Egyptian armies. None shall be alone in his appointed times; rather, there shall be no straggler at the rendezvous.
What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.
Verse 32. - What shall one then answer, etc.? What answer shall be made to the Philistine ambassadors, when they come to Jerusalem and entreat for aid? Simply this - that God has founded and will protect Zion, and that the poor and weak among God's people - whether Jews or Philistines - had better betake themselves to the shelter of the "city of the great King."

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