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able to ward off the blow, or to prevent it from being given. The great Disposer of all events clearly discerns all human connections, consequences, and designs, so that his purpose cannot be defeated, nor his
providence counteracted. We have now finished
a cursory view of the awful threatenings denounced against Babylon, and considered the infallible certainty of the predictions relating to that great city, the metropolis of Assyria, which are here solemnly confirmed. However improbable the foretold events might appear to many in the days of Isaiah, time hath fully verified the prophecy. Having contemplated the tota.1 overthrow of the literal Babylon, which was a sigure of the destruction of mystical Babylon, comprehending the numerous society of wicked and worldly men, who, under the prince of darkness, indulge in all manner of transgression, and act as the avowed enemies of God's people; let us look forward, with faith and hope, to the happy period, when it shall be proclaimed concerning this adverse power, 'Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, aud shall no ( more arise.'
T7f7E are now arrived at the second prophetical » TM discourse, contained in the second part of these prophecies, which relates to the future fortunes of the Philistines, a people frequently mentioned in sacred history. They were the posterity of Ham, one of the sons of Noah. The country which they inhabited was called Philistia, or Palestine, and was situated to the westward of Judea, toward the sea. They possessed sive principal cities, whose names were Ashdod, Gaza, Askelon, Gath, and Ekron *, each of which was governed by a lord or prince j-. Dagon was the chief idol whom they served, and to others they professed to do homage: they neither acknowleged, nor worshipped the God of Israel. Being a martial people, they were perhaps the greatest ene. mies of the posterity of Jacob, against whom they entertained an inveterate enmity, and with whom they were often at war. For a long period of time, many battles were fought between Israel and the Philistines, which terminated with various success, as God, in his providence, interposed, either to chasten his people, by their means, for their sins, or, in righteousness, to punish their enemies for their wickedness. The Philistines, on the one side, often vanquished and distressed the Israelites. In the days of the Judges, when the children of Israel forsook the Lord, and served him not, the anger of the Lord waxed hot against them, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, who vexed and oppressed them eighteen years J. Not long after, for the fame reason, he delivered them into their hands for forty years. In the time of Samuel the prophet, they smote the Israelites with a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand men, and the ark of God was taken ||. In
* See 1 Sam. vi. 17. f See Josh. xiii. 3. t Judges x. 7, 8}| 1 Sam. iv. 10.
another battle, after Saul ascended the throne of Israel, they flew that prince, with his three sons; the Israelites fled, and the Philistines came and dwelt in their cities *. The Israelites, on the other side, frequently conquered and subdued the Philistines. Samson distressed them greatly; and, with his own hand, flew prodigious numbers of them f. While Samuel judged Israel, they sustained some considerable losses. They were, in a special manner, severely handled by David, the king of Israel, who, with his own hand, flew their champion, and repeatedly obtained signal victories Otct them J. Uzziah, long after, demolished the walls of their strqng cities, and built towns among the Philistines. These continual wars rankled the minds of both nations, and confirmed the implacable hatred which subsisted between Israel and the Philistines from generation to generation.
In the verses now to be considered, our prophet, in the name of God, denounces against the Philistines the distressing calamities whereby they were afflicted, first by Hezekiah, and afterward by the king of Assyria. Having dissuaded them from foolish joy, and vain glory, which, in a short time, was to be exchanged for sorrow and lamentation, he assures the pious, distressed Jews, that they should enjoy tranquillity and security, under divine protection, in the midst of the extreme danger to which they were to be exposed. In this manner God was pleased, by a new argument, to confirm the faith of his people in his providential government, who disposes of the fate of nations, and takes a sriendly care of his people in every condition.
* 1 Sam. xxxi. f Judges xiv. 15,16. % 2 Sam. V. 8, £sV.
CHAP. XIV. Ver. 28.
IN the year that king Ahaz died, was this burden.
These words shew us the date of this prophecy. In the year that king Uzziah, the grandfather of Ahaz, died, our prophet was favoured with the vision which he describes in chap. vi. And now, in the year wherein Ahaz departed this life, he received from God the prophecy recorded in the' following verses. The Holy Spirit often interposes, in critical, remarkable seasons, to instruct and comfort his servants under great changes in public affairs, whether for the better or the worse. Ahaz was an unhappy, wicked prince, whose reign had been unfriendly to the worship and service of the true God, and who, by his transgressions, brought many evils upon himself and his people. He died in the midst of his days, when he was only thirty-sis years of age, leaving his throne and kingdom to his son, who, in every respect, greatly excelled his father.
39 % Rejoice not thou whole Paleftina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit jhall be a fiery flying serpent.
The Philistines, to whom our prophet directs his discourse, are forbidden to triumph, on account of the prosperity which they had of late enjoyed, and the death of the king of Judah, and that for a most important reason. The Philistines inhabited the land of Palestina, which lay toward the Mediterranean sea, to the west of Judea, between the wilderness on the south, and Tyre on the north. It was divided into certain districts, over which presided the lords- of the
Philistine Philistines. The prophet addresses, not merely one division of the country, but the whole inhabitants of the land, and calls upon them, not to rejoice on this occasion. They had probably been greatly overjoyed at the death of some of the former kings of Judah, with whom they had been at variance; and now that their affairs wore an agreeable aspect, they were ready to exult at the death of a hostile prince. This message was sent to correct this levity and vanity, which, for reasons that were both important and interesting,
appeared unjustifiable and unbecoming. Because
Hm rod ef him that smote thee h broken. Uzziah, king of Judah, seems to have been the person here intended, who smote the Philistines. I already observed, that he destroyed some of their fortifications; and that he went so far, in consequence of his having smitten them, as to build cities within their territories. The Philistines must have been greatly reduced, and severely smitten, before they submitted to these encroachments. If Uzziah, as seems probable, was the person who smote the land of Palestina, Ahaz, his grandson, who sprung from his stem and root, must have been the rod, which was now broken by death. The sceptre of Judah, the rod of royal authority, which he had held for a considerable time, was the instrument whereby he had been enabled to beat the
Philistines. Rejoice not thou whole Pale/tina, as
thou exultedst and triumphedst at the death of Uzziah, by whom thou wast greatly afflicted, as if thou had It nothing to fear from the kings of Judah. Though thou hast enjoyed for some time peace and security, whilst Ahaz sat upon the throne, be admonished to be very temperate in your mirth, as your affairs will soon take a different, and a very unfavourable turn.
For out of the serpent's root fliall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit Jhall be a fiery flying serpent. These words, which suggest the reakm upon which the foregoing advice is founded, must be understood, not in their literal, but in their sigurative signification.