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Isaiah 46:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth; their idols are upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: the things that ye carried about are made a load, a burden to the weary [beast].
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages [were] heavy loaden; [they are] a burden to the weary [beast].
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops over; Their images are [consigned] to the beasts and the cattle. The things that you carry are burdensome, A load for the weary [beast].
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your loads [were] heavy; [they were] a burden to the weary [beast].
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Bel is bowed down, Nebo bendeth; their idols are upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: the things ye carried are laid on, a burden to the weary [beast].
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Bel, hath crouched, Nebo, is cowering, Their images, are, [delivered up] to beast, and to cattle,—The things ye carried about, are become a load, A burden, to the weary!
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— Bowed down hath Bel, stooping is Nebo, Their idols have been for the beast and for cattle, Your burdens are loaded, a burden to the weary.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Bel is broken, Nebo is destroyed: their idols are put upon beasts and cattle, your burdens of heavy weight even unto weariness.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Bel boweth downe, Nebo stoupeth, their idoles [were] vpon the beasts, and vpon the cattell: your carriages [were] heauie loaden, they [are] a burden to the wearie [beast].
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— Bel has fallen, Nabo is broken to pieces, their graven images are gone to the wild beasts and the cattle: ye take them packed up as a burden to the weary, exhausted, hungry, and [at the same time] helpless man;
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Bel boweth down, Nevo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages [were] heavy loaden; [they are] a burden to the weary [beast].

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Bl בֵּל 1078
{1078} Prime
By contraction for H1168; Bel, the Baal of the Babylonians.
boweth down, 3766
{3766} Prime
A primitive root; to bend the knee; by implication to sink, to prostrate.
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
Nv נְבוֹ 5015
{5015} Prime
Probably of foreign derivation; Nebo, the name of a Babylonian deity, also of a mountain in Moab, and of a place in Palestine.
stoopeth, 7164
{7164} Prime
A primitive root; properly to protrude; used only as denominative from H7165 (for alliteration with H7167), to hunch, that is, be humpbacked.
<8802> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Active (See H8814)
Count - 5386
their idols 6091
{6091} Prime
From H6087; an (idolatrous) image.
were x1961
(1961) Complement
A primitive root (compare H1933); to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary).
upon the beasts, 2416
{2416} Prime
From H2421; alive; hence raw (flesh); fresh (plant, water, year), strong; also (as noun, especially in the feminine singular and masculine plural) life (or living thing), whether literally or figuratively.
and upon the cattle: 929
{0929} Prime
From an unused root (probably meaning to be mute); properly a dumb beast; especially any large quadruped or animal (often collectively).
your carriages 5385
{5385} Prime
Feminine passive participle of H5375; something borne, that is, a load.
[were] heavy loaden; 6006
{6006} Prime
A primitive root; to load, that is, impose a burden (or figuratively infliction).
<8803> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Passive (See H8815)
Count - 1415
[they are] a burden 4853
{4853} Prime
From H5375; a burden; specifically tribute, or (abstractly) porterage; figuratively an utterance, chiefly a doom, especially singing; mental, desire.
to the weary 5889
{5889} Prime
From H5888; languid.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Isaiah 46:1

_ _ Isaiah 46:1-13. Babylon’s idols could not save themselves, much less her. but God can and will save Israel: Cyrus is his instrument.

_ _ Bel — the same as the Phoenician Baal, that is, lord, the chief god of Babylon; to it was dedicated the celebrated tower of Babylon, in the center of one of the two parts into which the city was divided, the palace being in the center of the other. Identical with the sun, worshipped on turrets, housetops, and other high places, so as to be nearer the heavenly hosts (Saba) (Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29; Zephaniah 1:5). Gesenius identifies Bel with the planet Jupiter, which, with the planet Venus (under the name Astarte or Astaroth), was worshipped in the East as the god of fortune, the most propitious star to be born under (see on Isaiah 65:11). According to the Apocryphal book, Bel and the Dragon, Bel was cast down by Cyrus.

_ _ boweth ... stoopeth — falleth prostrate (Isaiah 10:4; 1 Samuel 5:3, 1 Samuel 5:4; Psalms 20:8).

_ _ Nebo — the planet Mercury or Hermes, in astrology. The scribe of heaven, answering to the Egyptian Anubis. The extensive worship of it is shown by the many proper names compounded of it: Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuzar-adan, Nabonassar, etc.

_ _ were upon — that is, were a burden (supplied from the following clause) upon. It was customary to transport the gods of the vanquished to the land of the conquerors, who thought thereby the more effectually to keep down the subject people (1 Samuel 5:1, etc.; Jeremiah 48:7; Jeremiah 49:3; Daniel 11:8).

_ _ carriages — in the Old English sense of the things carried, the images borne by you: the lading (Acts 21:15), “carriages,” not the vehicles, but the baggage. Or, the images which used to be carried by you formerly in your solemn processions [Maurer].

_ _ were heavy loaden — rather, are put as a load on the beasts of burden [Maurer]. Horsley translates, “They who should have been your carriers (as Jehovah is to His people, Isaiah 46:3, Isaiah 46:4) are become burdens” (see on Isaiah 46:4).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Isaiah 46:1-4

_ _ We are here told,

_ _ I. That the false gods will certainly fail their worshippers when they have most need of them, Isaiah 46:1, Isaiah 46:2. Bel and Nebo were two celebrated idols of Babylon. Some make Bel to be a contraction of Baal; others rather think not, but that it was Belus, one of their first kings, who after his death was deified. As Bel was a deified prince, so (some think) Nebo was a deified prophet, for so Nebo signifies; so that Bel and Nebo were their Jupiter and their Mercury or Apollo. Barnabas and Paul passed at Lystra for Jupiter and Mercury. The names of these idols were taken into the names of their princes, Bel into Belshazzar's, Nebo into Nebuchadnezzar's and Nebuzaradan's, etc. These gods they had long worshipped, and in their revels praised them for their successes (as appears, Daniel 5:4); and they insulted over Israel as if Bel and Nebo were too hard for Jehovah and could detain them in captivity in defiance of their God. Now, that this might be no discouragement to the poor captives, God here tells them what shall become of these idols, which they threaten them with. When Cyrus takes Babylon, down go the idols. It was usual then with conquerors to destroy the gods of the places and people they conquered, and to put the gods of their own nation in the room of them, Isaiah 37:19. Cyrus will do so; and then Bel and Nebo, that were set up on high, and looked great, bold, and erect, shall stoop and bow down at the feet of the soldiers that plunder their temples. And because there is a great deal of gold and silver upon them, which was intended to adorn them, but serves to expose them, they carry them away with the rest of the spoil. The carriers' horses, or mules, are laden with them and their other idols, to be sent among other lumber (for so it seems they accounted them rather than treasure) into Persia. So far are they from being able to support their worshippers that they are themselves a heavy load in the wagons, and a burden to the weary beast. The idols cannot help one another (Isaiah 46:2): They stoop, they bow down together. They are all alike, tottering things, and their day has come to fall. Their worshippers cannot help them: They could not deliver the burden out of the enemy's hand, but themselves (both the idols and the idolaters) have gone into captivity. Let not therefore God's people be afraid of either. When God's ark was taken prisoner by the Philistines it proved a burden, not to the beasts, but to the conquerors, who were forced to return it; but, when Bel and Nebo have gone into captivity, their worshippers may even give their good word with them: they will never recover themselves.

_ _ II. That the true God will never fail his worshippers: “You hear what has become of Bel and Nebo, now hearken to me, O house of Jacob! Isaiah 46:3, Isaiah 46:4. Am I such a god as these? No; though you are brought low, and the house of Israel is but a remnant, your God has been, is, and ever will be, your powerful and faithful protector.”

_ _ 1. Let God's Israel do him the justice to own that he has hitherto been kind to them, careful of them, tender over them, and has all along done well for them. Let them own, (1.) That he bore them at first: I have made. Out of what womb came they, but that of his mercy, and grace, and promise? He formed them into a people and gave them their constitution. Every good man is what God makes him. (2.) That he bore them up all along: You have been borne by me from the belly, and carried from the womb. God began betimes to do them good, as soon as ever they were formed into a nation, nay, when as yet they were very few, and strangers. God took them under a special protection, and suffered no man to do them wrong, Psalms 105:12-14. In the infancy of their state, when they were not only foolish and helpless, as children, but forward and peevish, God carried them in the arms of his power and love, bore them as upon eagles' wings, Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11. Moses had not patience to carry them as the nursing father does the sucking child (Numbers 11:12), but God bore them, and bore their manners, Acts 13:18. And as God began early to do them good (when Israel was a child, then I loved him), so he had constantly continued to do them good: he had carried them from the womb to this day. And we may all witness for God that he has been thus gracious to us. We have been borne by him from the belly, from the womb, else we should have died from the womb and given up the ghost when we came out of the belly. We have been the constant care of his kind providence, carried in the arms of his power and in the bosom of his love and pity. The new man is so; all that in us which is born of God is borne up by him, else it would soon fail. Our spiritual life is sustained by his grace as necessarily and constantly as our natural life by his providence. The saints have acknowledged that God has carried them from the womb, and have encouraged themselves with the consideration of it in their greatest straits, Psalms 22:9, Psalms 22:10; Psalms 71:5, Psalms 71:6, Psalms 71:17.

_ _ 2. He will then do them the kindness to promise that he will never leave them. He that was their first will be their last; he that was the author will be the finisher of their well-being (Isaiah 46:4): “You have been borne by me from the belly, nursed when you were children; and even to your old age I am he, when, by reason of your decays and infirmities, you will need help as much as in your infancy.” Israel were now growing old, so was their covenant by which they were incorporated, Hebrews 8:13. Gray hairs were here and there upon them, Hosea 7:9. And they had hastened their old age, and the calamities of it, by their irregularities. But God will not cast them off now, will not fail them when their strength fails; he is still their God, will still carry them in the same everlasting arms that were laid under them in Moses's time, Deuteronomy 33:27. He has made them and owns his interest in them, and therefore he will bear them, will bear with their infirmities, and bear them up under their afflictions: “Even I will carry and will deliver them; I will now bear them upon eagles' wings out of Babylon, as in their infancy I bore them out of Egypt.” This promise to aged Israel is applicable to every aged Israelite. God has graciously engaged to support and comfort his faithful servants, even in their old age: “Even to your old age, when you grow unfit for business, when you are compassed with infirmities, and perhaps your relations begin to grow weary of you, yet I am he — he that I am, he that I have been — the very same by whom you have been borne from the belly and carried from the womb. You change, but I am the same. I am he that I have promised to be, he that you have found me, and he that you would have me to be. I will carry you, I will bear, will bear you up and bear you out, and will carry you on in your way and carry you home at last.”

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Isaiah 46:1

Bel — The chief idol of the Babylonians, called by profane historians Jupiter Belus. Boweth — As the Babylonians used to bow down to him to worship, so now he bows down to the victorious Persians. Nebo — Another of the famous idols, which used to deliver oracles. Their idols — Were taken and broken, and the materials of them, gold, silver, and brass, were carried upon beasts into Persia. Your carriages — O ye Persians, to whom he turns his speech.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Isaiah 46:1

Bel boweth down, (a) Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the (b) beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages [were] heavily loaded; [they were] a burden to the weary [beast].

(a) These were the chief idols of Babylon.

(b) Because they were of gold and silver, the Medes and Persians carried them away.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
Bel, called Belus by the Greek and Roman writers, is the same as Baal; and Nebo is interpreted by Castell and Norberg of Mercury; the two principal idols of Babylon. When that city was taken by the Persians, these images were carried in triumph.
Isaiah 21:9 And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, [with] a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.
Isaiah 41:6-7 They helped every one his neighbour; and [every one] said to his brother, Be of good courage. ... So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, [and] he that smootheth [with] the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It [is] ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, [that] it should not be moved.
Exodus 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I [am] the LORD.
1 Samuel 5:3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon [was] fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
Jeremiah 48:1-25 Against Moab thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Woe unto Nebo! for it is spoiled: Kiriathaim is confounded [and] taken: Misgab is confounded and dismayed. ... The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah 50:2 Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, [and] conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.
Jeremiah 51:44 And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.
Jeremiah 51:47 Therefore, behold, the days come, that I will do judgment upon the graven images of Babylon: and her whole land shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her.
Jeremiah 51:52 Wherefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will do judgment upon her graven images: and through all her land the wounded shall groan.

a burden:

Isaiah 2:20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made [each one] for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;
Jeremiah 10:5 They [are] upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also [is it] in them to do good.
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Ex 12:12. 1S 5:3. Is 2:20; 21:9; 41:6. Jr 10:5; 48:1; 50:2; 51:44, 47, 52.

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