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called the place, or house, of drawing?” (for that was the term for this ceremony, or for the place where the water was taken up): “ Because from thence they draw the Holy Spirit; as it is written, And ye shall draw water with joy from the fountains of salvation.” See Wolf. Curæ Philol. in N. T. on John vii. 37. 39.
1. for, though thou hast been angry-] The Hebrew phrase to which the LXX and Vulg. have too closely adhered, is exactly the same with that of St Paul, Rom. vi. 17. “ But thanks be to God, that ye were the slaves of sin; but have obeyed from the heart;"'— that is, “ that whereas, or though, ye were the slaves of sin; yet ye have now obeyed from the heart the doctrine, on the model of which ye were formed.”
2. —my song—] The pronoun is here necessary; and it is added by LXX, Vulg. Syr. who read 'n791; as it is in a MS. Two MSS omitti: See Houbigant, not. in loc. Another MS has it in one word, 7970. Seven others omit 1777. See Exod. xv. 2. with Var. Lect. Kennicott.
CHAPTERS XIII. & XIV.
THESE two chapters (striking off the five last verses of the latter, which belong to a quite different subject), contain one entire prophecy, foretelling the destruction of Babylon by the Medes and Persians; delivered probably in the reign of Ahaz, (see Vitringa, i. 380.), about 200 years before the completion of it. The captivity itself of the Jews at Babylon, (which the Prophet does not expressly foretell, but supposes, in the spirit of prophecy, as what was actually to be effected), did not fully take place till about 130 years after the delivery of this prophecy : and the Medes, who are expressly mentioned, chap. xiii. 17. as the principal agents in the overthrow of the Babylonian monarchy, by which the Jews were released from that captivity, were at this time an inconsiderable people; having been in a state of anarchy ever since the fall of the great Assyrian empire, of which they had made a part, under Sardanapalus, and did not become a kingdom under Deioces till about the 17th of Hezekiah.
The former part of this prophecy is one of the most beautiful examples, that can be given, of elegance of com
position, variety of imagery, and sublimity of sentiment and diction, in the prophetic style; and the latter part consists of an ode of supreme and singular excellence.
The prophecy opens with the command of God to gather together the forces which he had destined to this service, ver. 2, 3. Upon which the prophet immediately hears the tumultuous noise of the different nations crowding together to his standard: he sees them advancing, prepared to execute the divine wrath, ver. 4, 5. He proceeds to describe the dreadful consequences of this visitation; the consternation which will seize those that are the objects of it; and, transferring unawares the speech from himself to God, ver. ll. sets forth, under a variety of the most striking images, the dreadful destruction of the inhabitants of Babylon which will follow, ver. 11–16.; and the everlasting desolation to which that great city is doomed, ver. 17-22.
The deliverance of Judah from captivity, the immediate consequence of this great revolution, is then set forth, without being much enlarged upon, or greatly amplified; chap. xiv. 1, 2. This introduces, with the greatest ease, and the utmost propriety, the triumphant song on that subject, ver. 4–28: the beauties of which, the various images, scenes, persons introduced, and the elegant transitions from one to another, I shall here endeavour to point out in their order; leaving a few remarks upon particular passages of these two chapters to be given, after these general observations on the whole.
A chorus of Jews is introduced, expressing their surprise and astonishment at the sudden downfall of Babylon, and the great reverse of fortune that had befallen the tyrant, who, like his predecessors, had oppressed his own, and harassed the neighbouring kingdoms. These oppressed kingdoms, or their rulers, are represented under the image of the fir-trees and the cedars of Libanus, frequently used to express any thing in the political or religious world that is supereminently great and majestic: the whole earth shouteth for joy; the cedars of Libanus utter a severe taunt over the fallen tyrant, and boast their security now he is no more.
The scene is immediately changed; and a new set of persons is introduced: The regions of the dead are laid open, and Hades is represented as rousing up the shades of the departed monarchs: they rise from their thrones to meet the king of Babylon at his coming; and insult him on his being reduced to the same low estate of impotence and dissolution with themselves. This is one of the boldest prosopopoeias that ever was attempted in poetry; and is executed with astonishing brevity and perspicuity, and with that peculiar force which in a great subject naturally results from both. The image of the state of the dead, or the Infernum Poeticum of the Hebrews, is taken from their custom of burying, those at least of the higher rank, in large sepulchral vaults hewn in the rock. Of this kind of sepulchres there are remains at Jerusalem now extant; and some that are said to be the sepulchres of the kings of Judah : see Maundrell, p. 76. You are to form to yourself an idea of an immense subterraneous vault, a vast gloomy cavern, all round the sides of which there are cells to receive the dead bodies: Here the deceased monarchs lie in a distinguished sort of state, suitable to their former rank, each on his own couch, with his arms beside him, his sword at his head, and the bodies of his chiefs and companions round about him : see Ezek. xxxii. 27. On which place Sir John Chardin's MS note is as follows;—“ En Mingrelie ils dorment tous leur epée sous leurs têtes, et leurs autres armes à leur coté; et on les enterre de mesme, leurs armes posées de cette facon.” These illustrious shades rise at once from their couches, as from their thrones; and advance to the entrance of the cavern to meet the king of Babylon, and to receive him with insults on his fall.
The Jews now resume the speech: They address the king of Babylon as the morning-star fallen from heaven, as the first in splendour and dignity in the political world fallen from his high state: they introduce him as uttering the most extravagant vaunts of his power and ambitious designs in his former glory: these are strongly contrasted in the close with his present low and abject condition. : Immediately follows a different scene, and a most happy image, to diversify the same subject, to give it a new turn and an additional force. Certain persons are introduced, who light upon the corpse of the king of Babylon, cast out and lying naked on the bare ground, among the common slain, just after the taking of the city; covered with wounds, and so disfigured that it is some time before they know him. They accost him with the severest taunts, and bitterly reproach him with his destructive ambition, and his cruel usage of the conquered; which have deservedly brought upon him this ignominious treatment, so different from that which those of his rank usually meet with, and which shall cover his posterity with disgrace.
To complete the whole, God is introduced declaring the fate of Babylon, the utter extirpation of the royal family, and the total desolation of the city; the deliverance of his people, and the destruction of their enemies; confirming the irreversible decree by the awful sanction of his oath,
I believe it may with truth be affirmed, that there is no poem of its kind extant in any language, in which the subject is so well laid out and so happily conducted, with such a richness of invention, with such variety of images, persons, and distinct actions, with such rapidity and ease of transition, in so small a compass as in this ode of Isaiah. For beauty of disposition, strength of colouring, greatness of sentiment, brevity, perspicuity, and force of expression, it stands among all the monuments of antiquity ụnrivalled..
2. Exalt the voice -] The word DNT), to them, which is of no use, and rather weakens the sentence, is omitted by an ancient MS and Vulg.
4. —for the battle] The Bodley MS has gon2025. Cyrus's army was made up of many different nations. Jeremiah calls it “an assembly of great nations from the north country," chap. 1. 9. And afterwards mentions the kingdoms of “ Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz, (i. e. Armenia, Corduene, Pontus vel Phrygia; Vitring.”), with the kings of · the Medes; chap. li. 27, 28. See Xenophon. Cyrop.
8. —and they shall be terrified] I join this verb, 157723), to the preceding verse, with Syr. and Vulg.
Ibid. pangs shall seize them] The LXX, Syr. and Chald. read 09TX', instead of 79778", which does not express the pronoun them, necessary to the sense.
10. Yea the stars of heaven--] The Hebrew poets, to express happiness, prosperity, the instauration and advancement of states, kingdoms, and potentates, make use of images taken from the most striking parts of nature- from the heavenly bodies, from the sun, moon, and stars; which they describe as shining with increased splendour, and never setting; the moon becomes like the meridian sun, and the sun's light is augmented sevenfold; see Isa. xxx. 26.: new heavens and a new earth are created, and a brighter age commences. On the contrary, the overthrow and destruction of kingdoms is represented by opposite images: the stars are ob
and chap. I el Phry and Ashards menti
scured, the moon withdraws her light, and the sun shines no more; the earth quakes, and the heavens tremble; and all things seem tending to their original chaos. See Joel ii. 10. iii. 15, 16. Amos viii. 9. Matt. xxiv. 29. and De S. Poes. Hebr. Præl. vi. and ix.
11. I will visit the world] That is, the Babylonish em-: pire : as j 01X0UMeyn, for the Roman empire, or for Judea ; Luke ii. 1. Acts xi. 28. So, universus orbis Romanus, for the Roman empire ; Salvian. lib. v. Minos calls Crete his world : “ Creten, quæ meus est orbis ;” Ovid. Metamorph. viii. 99.
14. And the remnant--] Here is plainly a defect in this sentence, as it stands in the Hebrew text; the subject of the proposition is lost. What is it, that shall be like a roe chased? The LXX happily supply it: ói xatahesiderevol, NW, the remnant. A MS here supplies the word ', the inhabitant, which makes a tolerably good sense; but I much prefer the reading of the LXX.
Ibid. They shall look]— That is, the forces of the king of Babylon, destitute of their leader, and all his auxiliaries, collected from Asia Minor and other distant countries, shall disperse, and flee to their respective homes.
15. Every one that is overtaken-] That is, none shall escape from the slaughter; neither they who flee singly, dispersed and in confusion; nor they who endeavour to make their retreat in a more regular manner, by forming compact bodies—they shall all be equally cut off by the sword of the enemy. The LXX have understood it in this sense; which they have well expressed :
“'Os yag av daw nitoNON DETAI,
Και οιτινες συνηγμενοι εισι πεσουνται μαχαιρα.” Where for yoondnoetas, MS Pachom. has exHEVONOETO; and or r. Cod. Marchal. in margine, and MS 1. D. II. exrevTNO NOetai: which seems to be right, being properly expressive of the Hebrew.
17. Who shall hold silver of no account] That is, who shall not be induced, by large offers of gold and silver for ransom, to spare the lives of those whom they have subdued in battle : their rage and cruelty will get the better of all such motives. We have many examples in the Iliad and in the Æneid of addresses of the vanquished to the pity and avarice of the vanquishers, to induce them to spare their lives.