Isaiah 47:11 MEANING

Isaiah 47:11
(11) Thou shalt not be able to put it off . . .--The words have been variously rendered: (1) of which thou shalt know no dawn, i.e., after the night of calamity; and (2) which thou shalt not be able to charm away. Stress is laid on the destruction being at once unforeseen and irretrievable.

Verse 11. - Therefore shall evil come upon thee. Connect this with the first clause of ver. 10, "Thou hast trusted in thine own evil (moral), therefore shall evil (physical) fall upon thee." The same word, ra'ah, is used in both places. Thou shalt not know from whence it riseth. So the Vulgate, Vitringa, Gesenius, and Dr. Kay. But the bulk of modern commentators (Hitzig, Ewald, Delitzsch, Nagelsbach, Weir, Cheyne) render, "Thou wilt not know how to charm it away." Both meanings are possible, and are almost equally good; but the parallelism of the clauses is in favour of the latter rendering. Shakhrah should correspond in construction, as in sound, with kapp'rah. To put it off; literally, to expiate; i.e. to get rid of it by means of expiatory rites. Which thou shalt not know; or, of which thou shalt not be aware. (On the carelessness and want of foresight displayed by the Babylonians, see the comment on ver. 8.)

47:7-15 Let us beware of acting and speaking as Babylon did; of trusting in tyranny and oppression; of boasting as to our abilities, relying on ourselves, and ascribing success to our own prudence and wisdom; lest we partake of her plagues. Those in the height of prosperity, are apt to fancy themselves out of the reach of adversity. It is also common for sinners to think they shall be safe, because they think to be secret in wicked ways. But their security shall be their ruin. Let us draw from such passages as the foregoing, those lessons of humility and trust in God which they convey. If we believe the word of God, we may know how it will be with the righteous and the wicked to all eternity. We may learn how to escape the wrath to come, to glorify God, to have peace through life, hope in death, and everlasting happiness. Let us then stand aloof from all delusions.Therefore shall evil come upon thee,.... The evil of punishment, a great calamity; so Nebuchadnezzar foretold, as Abydenus relates (o), that a calamity, should come upon the Babylonians; a day of evil, because of the above sins Babylon was guilty of:

thou shall not know from whence it riseth; from what quarter it will come, little dreaming of Cyrus, with whom the Chaldeans had had no quarrel. So mystical Babylon will not know from whence her ruin will come; little thinking that the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication with her, and have given their kingdoms to her, will hate her, and burn her flesh with fire: or, "thou shall not know the morning of it" (p): that is, on what day, or at what time, it will be. Babylon was taken when it was not thought of, as appears from the book of Daniel, and profane history. Aristotle (q) reports, that it was said, that the third day after Babylon was taken, one part of the city did not know that it was taken. Or the sense is, this day of evil and calamity should be such a dark and gloomy day, there should be no light in it, it should be as the night, and therefore its morning or light should not be known, so Aben Ezra: "and mischief shall fall upon thee"; contrived for others; the pit dug for others she should fall into herself: though the phrase seems to denote the mischief coming from above, by the hand of heaven, and suddenly and irresistibly; which should fall with weight and vengeance upon her, to the crushing and utter destruction of her:

thou shalt not be able to put it off; or, "to expiate it" (r); and atone for it, either by prayers and entreaties, which God will not regard, Isaiah 47:3 or by gifts, or by ransom price, by gold and silver, which the Medes and Persians were no lovers of, Isaiah 13:17,

and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know; that is, before hand; neither the persons from whom nor the time when it shall come; notwithstanding their astrologers, diviners, and monthly prognosticators, pretended to tell what would come to pass every day; but not being able by their art to give the least hint of Babylon's destruction, as to either time or means, the Chaldeans were in great security, quite ignorant of their ruin at hand, and which therefore came suddenly and unawares upon them; as will the destruction of mystical Babylon.

(o) Ib. c. 41. p. 456. (p) "non scis auroram ejus", Montanus, Vatablus, Cocceius; "cujus non cognoscis auroram", Vitringa. That is, as Ben Melech explains it, thou shalt not know the time of its coming; for it shall come suddenly, as a thing comes in a morning, which a man is not aware of till he sees it. (q) Politic. l. 3. c. 3.((r) "non potens placare eam", Montanus; "expiare", Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Vitringa.

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