King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Isaiah 40

The preaching of the gospel, and glad tidings of the coming of Christ. (1-11) The almighty power of God. (12-17) The folly of idolatry. (18-26) Against unbelief. (27-31)

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The preaching of the gospel, and glad tidings of the coming of Christ

1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.

3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:

7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.

8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

The almighty power of God

12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?

14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?

15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.

16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.

17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

The folly of idolatry

18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?

19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.

20 He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.

21 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.

24 Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.

25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.

26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

Against unbelief

27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?

28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Be. Sept. “comfort my people.” Let them not be dejected. H. — The end of the captivity, and still more the coming of the Messias, afford consolation, (C.) and to this the prophet chiefly alludes. W.

Ver. 2. Evil. Heb. and some Latin copies have, “warfare.” — Double. A rigorous chastisement. Apoc. xviii. 6. C.

Ver. 3. God, that he may conduct his people from Babylon. Sanchez. — Yet the prophet speaks chiefly of the baptist, (Mat. iii. 3. C.) who is evidently foretold. W.

Ver. 4. Plain. For the captives, or the conversion of the world. Bar. v. 6.

Ver. 5. Glory. God will rescue his people. Christ will redeem mankind.

Ver. 6. Field. On the downfall of the empire of Babylon, the Jews were liberated.

Ver. 9. Thou, female. How beautiful are the feet of those who announce good tidings! Rom. x. 15. H. — Thus a feminine noun is applied to Solomon. Eccle. i. Prophets make known to all the coming of the Saviour. C. — Christ preaches from the mountain, and his apostles over the world. W.

Ver. 10. Him. Christ will reward and punish. Jer. xxxi. 16. Lu. ii. 34.

Ver. 11. Young, or have lately had young lambs, fœtas. Jesus is the good shepherd. Jo. x. 14.

Ver. 12. Who. He now proceeds to shew the difference between God and idols. — Fingers, is not expressed in Heb. which may denote the epha. Ps. lxxix. 6. C. — God’s power and goodness in the works of the creation, shew what he will do for man. W.

Ver. 15. Dust. Heb. caddak, (H.) “as dok fallen.” Sym. — It may signify an atom. S. Jer. — If all nations be only like a drop, what portion of it do I occupy? C. v. 17.

Ver. 18. Image. Catholics never pretend to represent the Deity, when they depict the Father as a venerable old man, &c. The do not adore pictures, as our adversaries would insinuate. If we were disposed to cavil, we might bring the same charge against them. For a few weeks ago, “a beautiful altar-piece, painted and presented by the lady of major general Cheney, was put in Horn-sea church, representing Christ blessing the bread and wine.” But Protestants can confine such things to their proper use, and Catholic must adore them. H. — “Such things the Jew, Apella, may believe: not I.” Horace.

Ver. 19. Silver. Is God like these idols? H. — Who knows not that the workman is better than they are? Wis. xiii. 11. C.

Ver. 20. Wood. Heb. hamsuccan, (H.) which Sept. Chal. and S. Jerom explain of a sort of wood used for idols. Moderns take it to be “a rich,” or rather “a poor man. He who is mean in his offering, chooses wood that,” &c. C. Prot.

Ver. 21. Beginning, by the light of nature, and (W.) has not Moses declared that God alone created the world? H. — His power and goodness herein convince us that he will not deny grace. W.

Ver. 22. Locusts, compared with the greatest animals. — Nothing. Heb. “a curtain.” Sept. Syr. “vault, (C.) or chamber,” kamaran.

Ver. 23. Searchers. Heb. “princes to nothing.” Prot. H. — Philosophers know nothing independently of God, nor can they subsist without him. W.

Ver. 26. Host of heaven, the stars, &c. Gen. ii. 1. Ps. cxlvi. 4.

Ver. 27. Judgment, or conduct, (Gen. xl. 13. C.) as if God minded not our affairs.

Ver. 31. Eagles, who grow young, when they get new feathers. Ps. cii. 5. S. Jer. — In this and the following 26 chapters the prophet chiefly comforts his people, as he had rebuked them for their crimes in the first part. W.