on Isaiah 45 :14
The labor of Egypt "The wealth of Egypt" - This seems to relate to the future admission of the Gentiles into the Church of God. Compare Psalm 68:32; Psalm 72:10; Psalm 60:6-9. And perhaps these particular nations may be named, by a metonymy common in all poetry, for powerful and wealthy nations in general. See note on Isaiah 60:1.
The Sabeans, men of stature "The Sabeans, tall of stature" - That the Sabeans were of a more majestic appearance than common, is particularly remarked by Agatharchides, an ancient Greek historian quoted by Bochart, Phaleg, 2:26, τα σωματα εστι των κατοικουντων αξιολογωτερα. So also the Septuagint understand it, rendering it ανδρες ὑψηλοι, "tall men." And the same phrase, אנשי מדה anshey middah, is used for persons of extraordinary stature, Numbers 13:32, and 1 Chronicles 20:6.
They shall make supplication unto thee "They shall in suppliant guise address thee" - The conjunction ו vau is supplied by the ancient Versions, and confirmed by fifteen MSS. of Kennicott's, (seven ancient), thirteen of De Rossi's, and six editions, ואליך veelayich. Three MSS. (two ancient) omit the ו vau before אליך elaylch at the beginning of the line.
on Isaiah 45 :14
Thus saith the Lord - This verse is designed to denote the favors which in subsequent times would be conferred on Jerusalem, the city which Isaiah 45:13 was to be rebuilt. It bas reference, according to Lowth, to the conversion of the Gentiles, and their admission into the church of God. Grotius, however, understands it as addressed to Cyrus, and as meaning that, because he had released the Jews without reward, therefore God would give him the wealth of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sabaea, and that those nations should be subject to him. But in this opinion probably he stands alone, and the objections to it are so obvious that they need not be specified. Some of the Jewish interpreters suppose that it refers to the same events as those recorded in Isaiah 43:3, and that it relates to the fact that God had formerly given those nations for the deliverance and protection of his people. They suppose that particular reference is had to the slaughter and destruction of the army of Sennacherib. Vitringa regards it as referring to the fact that proselytes should be made from all these nations to the true religion, and finds, as he supposes, a fulfillment of it in the times of the Saviour and the apostles. In regard to the true meaning of the passage; we may observe:
1. That it refers to the times that would succeed their return from their exile; and not to events that were then past. This is apparent on the face of the passage.
2. It relates to Jerusalem, or to the people of God, and not to Cyrus. This is evident, because it was not true that these nations became subject to Cyrus after his taking Babylon, for it was not Cyrus, but his son Cambyses that invaded and subdued Egypt, and because the whole phraseology has reference to a conversion to religion, and not to the subjection involved in the conquests of war.
3. It appropriately relates to a conversion to the true God, and an embracing of the true religion. This is implied in the language in the close of the verse, 'saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.'
4. The passage, therefore, means, that subsequent to their return from Babylon, there would be the conversion of those nations; or that they - perhaps mentioned here as the representatives of great and mighty nations in general - would be converted to the true faith, and that their wealth and power would be consecrated to the cause of Yahweh. The time when this was to be, is not fixed in the prophecy itself. It is only determined that it was to be subsequent to the return from the exile, and to be one of the consequences of that return. The fulfillment, therefore, may be sought either under the first preaching of the gospel, or in times still more remote. A more full explanation will occur in the examination of the different parts of the verse.
The labor of Egypt - That is, the fruit, or result of the labor of Egypt; the wealth of Egypt (see the word thus used in Job 10:3; Psalm 78:46; Isaiah 55:2; Jeremiah 3:24; Jeremiah 20:5; Ezekiel 23:9). The idea is, that Egypt would be converted to the true religion, and its wealth consecrated to the service of the true God. The conversion of Egypt is not unfrequently foretold Psalm 68:31 :
Princes shall come out of Egypt.
Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.
See the notes at Isaiah 19:18-22 - where the conversion of Egypt is introduced and discussed at length.
And merchandise of Ethiopia - On the situation of Ethiopia, see the notes at Isaiah 18:1. The word 'merchandise' here means the same as wealth, since their wealth consisted in their traffic. That Cush or Ethiopia would be converted to the true religion and be united to the people of God, is declared in the passage above quoted from Psalm 68:31; and also in various other places. Thus in Psalm 67:4 : 'Behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there;' Zephaniah 3:10 : 'From beyond the ruins of Ethiopia, my suppliants, even the daughters of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.'
And of the Sabeans, men of stature - (סבאים sebâ'ı̂ym). The inhabitants of Seba (סבא sebâ', not שׁבא shebâ'). Sheba and the Sabeans of that name were a country and people of Arabia Felix - comprising a considerable part of the country now known as Yemen, lying in the southwest part of Arabia Joel 3:8; Job 1:15. That country abounded in frankincense, myrrh, spices, gold, and precious stones 1 Kings 10:1; Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20. Seba, here referred to, was a different country. It was inhabited by a descendant of Cush Genesis 10:7, and was probably the same as Meroe in Upper Egypt (see the notes at Isaiah 43:3). That this people was distinguished for height of stature is expressly affirmed by Herodotus (iii. 20), who says of the Ethiopians, among whom the Sabeans are to be reckoned, that they were 'the tallest of men' (λέγονται εἶναι μέγιστοι ἀνθρώπων legontai einai megistoi anthrōpōn); and Solinus affirms that the Ethiopians are 'twelve feet high.' Agatharchides, an ancient Greek poet, quoted by Bochart (Phaleg. ii. 26), says of the Sabeans, τὰ σώματά ἐστι τῶν κατοικούντων ἀξιολογωτερα ta sōmata esti tōn katoikountōn achiologōtera - 'the bodies of those who dwell there are worthy of special remark.' This shows at least a coincidence between the accounts of Scripture and of profane writers. This country is alluded to by Solomon in Psalm 72:10 :
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
They are connected here with the Egyptians, and with the inhabitants of Ethiopia or Cush; and their conversion to the true religion would occur probably about the same time. Doubtless the Christian religion was early introduced into these countries, for among those converted on the day of Pentecost, were foreigners from Egypt, and the adjacent countries Acts 2:10-11, who would carry the gospel with them on their return. See also the ease of the eunuch of Ethiopia Acts 8:26-39, by whom, undoubtedly, the gospel was conveyed to that region The first bishop of Ethiopia was Frumentius, who was made bishop of that country about 330 a.d. There is a current tradition among the Ethiopians that the Queen of Sheba, who visited Solomon, was called Maqueda, and that she was not from Arabia, but was a queen of their own country. They say that she adopted the Jewish religion, and introduced it among her people; and the eunuch, who was treasurer under Queen Candace, was probably a Jew by religion if not by birth. Yet there will be in future times a more signal fulfillment of this prophecy, when the inhabitants of these countries, and the people of all other nations, shall be converted to the true religion, and shall give themselves to God (compare the notes at Isaiah 60:3-14). That prophecy has a remarkable similarity to this, and indeed is little more than a beautiful expansion of it.
on Isaiah 45 :14
45:14 The labour - The wealth gotten by their labour. Thee - Jerusalem shall not only be rebuilt, but the wealth and glory of other countries shall be brought to it again. This was in part verified in Jerusalem; but it was much more fully accomplished in the church of the gospel, in the accession of the Gentiles to that church which began in Jerusalem, and from thence spread itself into all the parts of the world. Come over - They shall be taken captive by thee, and willingly submit themselves to thee.