Notes on Isaiah. Chapter 18

Isaiah 18  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 12
We have here the circumstances of the restoration of the Jews, in connection with a protecting nation out of the limits of ancient Jewish associations.
This chapter is full of deep interest. The "swift messengers" (mar akhim kallim); I have not yet entirely assured myself of what they were. I take the statement to be literal as regards its actual fulfillment. The "rivers of Cush" I take to be not only the Nile but the Euphrates, as if he should say, "I am now speaking of a land or people beyond those in point of distance, which now are the extremities of and affect the Jewish land and people."1 Yet a people which is to have extensive empire of influential subjection, and intimately connected with the Jews in their dealings in that day, when Israel is developed in their full history and character, the last act being then accomplished, a people long deferred, as He saith—true, in the Remnant. " Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? Yea, He will avenge them speedily." And it is the character of prophecy to say " How long? " " How long, 0 Lord, forever shall thy fury," etc. And the want of faith in the Jewish people is described by " none to say, How long? " Here then is the sense of m'musshak (drawn out, scattered). It is the same word as " Hope long deferred." A people continually, insultingly, ill-treated, whose hair is plucked off—the same word, passive for active, as " I gave my cheeks to those that plucked off the hair," where our Lord is describing His Jewish humiliation—a people terrible (no-ra) to be revered, wondered at, or feared, from existence forward forever, i.e., from the time the Lord made them a people; true, in principle, in the beginning, in fact from the time here finally spoken of, commonly translated " from this out "—a nation (now not mentioned as a
people because dealt with on general moral principles, and, indeed, judged accordingly) a nation, which has had " line upon line," first by presenting the measure and righteousness of God's judgments, in testimony, if they would hear, and then, " hear or forbear," it came upon them as the exact measure of God's judgments, and such, I apprehend, is the force of chapter 28: 13. The Word, as I find it, is ever a measuring line, and, as the strictness and perfectness of God's judgments must be familiar to readers of Scripture attentively, I understand it still as a line or measure in Psa. 19:44Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, (Psalm 19:4), and this use of it, is what, I believe, the Spirit of God refers to in Paul, when he speaks of the metron you kanonos (the measure of the rule, 2 Cor. 10:1313But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. (2 Corinthians 10:13)) which he theos metrou (the God of measure) hath distributed, so I should be rather inclined to read it "had distributed" or "allotted" to him, to a nation then measured, measured, i.e., by the judgments of God (accomplishing His word which they would not receive in truth, and therefore they found here in judgment, as He saith, "Judgment will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet") trodden down, or under foot. Compare chapters 63 and 64, where this is all made the subject of supplication, and much answer given in chapter 65 as regards Christ.
2 and 7. "Whose land the rivers”—I sometimes thought this might mean "above mentioned," but these were only characteristic of the rest, and it is used, I imagine, generally. The nations have made Jacob a prey, as, during the times of the Gentiles, they can have been to one another, but, whoever was dominant, they were subject until this time. They were a prey twice; some might use them well, as the Persians did, still they were a prey, and soon out of their hands—"have made a prey" or "spoiled."
The rest of the chapter describes the Lord's dealing, in that day, as done as a summons and witness to all nations. He then explains the dealings as regards the Jews, when the previous dealing, resulting in their being brought, and their offerings accepted, recognized in all their previous character, is over.
1. Me-e-ver (beyond) is always, as far as I see, "on the other side of"; it is a use of me-ever, in relative place to.