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Lecture One Hundred and Second

We said yesterday that some interpreters regard these words of the Prophet, Ascended has the destroyer before it face, guard the fortress, as having a reference to Sennacherib; that is, that God had taken him away and made him like mist to disappear. We also said, that some elicit this meaning, — that Sennacherib ascended into Judea and filled the whole country with terror, and that he had at length laid it wholly waste. But I am disposed to take their view, who think that this is said of Nebuchodonosor, the waster of Nineveh: as he had been raised up by God to overturn the tyranny of that city, the Prophet ridicules all the efforts and preparations made by the Ninevites (as it is usual when a country is invaded) to oppose him. He therefore says, guard the fortress, watch the way, confirm the loins, and strengthen thy courage greatly But these are ironical expressions; as though he said, Whatever the Ninevites may contrive to defend themselves against the assault of their enemies will be all in vain. 223223     That the Babylonian power is meant by “the destroyer,” or disperser, or scatterer, is the opinion if Jerome, Drusius, Grotius, Marckius, and Newcome. But Kimchi, Dathius, Henderson, and some others, regard the “destroyer” as the king of Assyria. What agrees best with the context is the former opinion. Having in the preceding verse announced the release of the people of Israel from the rule of Assyria, the Prophet now introduces its destroyer, and then proceeds with the main object of his prophecy, and describes the fall of Nineveh. Marckius considers the whole verse as addressed to the Babylonian power under the person of the king, while Calvin regards it, with the exception of the first line or clause, as addressed ironically to Nineveh. The verbs are either participles or preterites indicative; but they are construed by the former as gerunds; most of them imperatives. נצור is rendered as a passive participle by the Septuagint, and so it appears to be, and the three which follow, as imperatives. But in two copies it is without the ו; then all the verbs in the verse appear to be in the same form, and may be considered to be either preterites indicative or participles; and participles are often used in Hebrew to express the present tense: and the Prophet may be considered as seeing the Babylonian ascending and laying siege to Nineveh, for מצורה means a siege as well as a fortress: then the rendering would be as follows, —
   Ascend does the waster before thee;
He watches the siege, guards the way,
Makes firm the loins, exerts strength mightily.

   But if “fortress” be preferred to “siege,” it may be adopted consistently with the context. — Ed.

What is now subjoined has been added, in my view, in reference to what had already taken place, that is that God had taken away the pride of Jacob, as the pride of Israel Some give this rendering, “God has made to returns or to rest;” and they take גאון, gaun, in a good sense, as meaning courage or glory. The sense, according to these, would be, — that God, having routed the army of Sennacherib, or destroyed the Assyrians, would make the ancient glory of his people to return; for both kingdoms had fallen. They then understand this to have been said respecting the restoration of the whole people; and they who translate, “he will make to rest,” think that continual peace is here promised to the Israelites, as well as to the Jews. But, on the contrary, it appears to me, that the Prophet shows, that it was the ripened time for the destruction of the city Nineveh, for God had now humbled his people. He had then taken away the pride of Jacob, as the pride of Israel; that is, God, having first corrected the pride of Israel, had also applied the same remedy to Judah: thus the whole people were humbled, and had left off their extreme height; for גאון, gaun, for the most part, is taken in a bad sense, for haughtiness or pride. This then is the reason why God now declares, that the ruin of Nineveh was nigh at hand; it was so, because the Jews and the Israelites had been sufficiently brought down. This sense is the most suitable.

And then for the same purpose is the next clause, — that the emptiers had emptied, that is that robbers had pillaged them, and left nothing to remain for them. There is a passage in Isaiah which corresponds with this, where it is said, — that when the Lord had completed his work on mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he would then turn his vengeance against the Assyrians, (Isaiah 10:12:) but why were they not sooner destroyed? Because the Lord designed to employ them for the purpose of chastising the Jews. Until then the whole work of God was completed, that is, until he had so corrected their pride, as wholly to cast it down, it was not his purpose to destroy the Ninevites; but they were at length visited with destruction. The same thing does our Prophet now teach us here, — that Nebuchodonosor would come to demolish Nineveh, when the Lord had taken away the haughtiness of his people. 224224     Drusius confessed that he did not understand this verse. The view given of it by Calvin seems plain, and Marckius has taken the same view of it: but Newcome, as well as Henderson, differ widely, and give a rendering which seems not to comport with the context. It is like that of Drusius, which no doubt made him to say that he did not understand the passage.
   For Jehovah restoreth the excellency of Jacob
As the excellency of Israel.

   In this connection, this can have no meaning. The version of Henderson is the same, only he puts the verb in the future tense. The verb שב has the meaning of turning away, as well as of restoring, and Marckius renders it avertit, he turned away. Then גאון, rising, swelling, elatio, is more commonly taken in a bad than in a good sense, as meaning pride, haughtiness. The latter part of the verse sets before us distinctly the means which had been adopted to take away this pride. The passage is evidently parenthetic. — Ed.

What follows, Ανδ τηεψ ηαςε δεστροψεδ τηειρ σηοοτσ, or their branches, I take metaphorically, because the Israelites, as to outward appearances had been pulled up by the roots; for before the eyes of their enemies they were reduced to nothing, and their very roots were torn ups so that they perceived nothing left. The Lord indeed always preserved a hidden remnant; but this was done beyond the perceptions of men. But what the Prophet says metaphorically of the ruined branches, is to be understood of what was apparent.

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