(1) But now . . .—The outpouring of love that follows is contrasted with the wrath of the preceding verse.
The Lord that created thee.—The title implies something more than “the Maker of heaven and earth.” Jehovah has created Israel as specially answering, as other created things did, to an archetype in His own purpose. To “call by name” is everywhere, but pre-eminently in the East, the mark of an individualising tenderness (John 10:3), almost of a predestinating love that makes the name a witness of its purpose.
The Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.—Better, into the ships of their shouting—i.e., the ships which used to echo with the exulting joy of sailors. The word for “shouting” is purposely chosen to suggest the thought that there will be a shout of another kind, even the wailing cry of despair. The commerce of Babylon, and its position on the Euphrates, made it, as it were, the Venice of the earlier East (Herod., 1:194). The prophet sees the inhabitants of Babylon fleeing in their ships from the presence of their conqueror.
Shall ye not know it?—Better, Will ye not give heed to it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness . . .—The literal and the spiritual senses melt into each other. The very beasts of the field shall lose their ferocity in the presence of the saints of God. For “dragons and owls,” read jackals and ostriches.
But thou hast been weary.—Better, so that thou shouldest be weary. Others render it, Much less hast thou toiled for me. Sacrifices elsewhere than in the Temple were forbidden by the Law, and the prophet does not so much blame the people for not offering these as for not compensating for their absence by the true worship of which they were the symbols.
Thou hast made me to serve.—The verbs of Isaiah 43:23 are repeated with the emphasis of scorn, the thought being analogous to that of Isaiah 1:14. The people had made this hypocritical worship as a service which their God had to endure, till He was altogether weary of it.
Thy teachers.—Literally, thy interpreters (Job 33:23), or thy mediators. The term is used in 2 Chronicles 32:31 of the “ambassadors “of the king of Babylon, and stands here for the priests and the prophets, who ought officially to have been the expounders of the Divine will.
The curse.—The cherem, or ban, answering to the anathema. The state described answers to that of Hosea 3:4.