27. Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillars.
27. Tollite signum in terra, clangite tuba in gentibus, sanctificate (vel, praeparate) super eam gentes, congregate contra eam regna Ararath, Minni, et Aschenaz, praeficite super eam ducem (alii putant esse nomen proprium, et relinquunt ropj sed accipitur haud dubie pro duce,) educite equum tanquam locustam (vel, bruchum) horribilem (vertit Hieronymus, aculeatum; alii vertunt, horripilantem; sed vox illa asperior est, et tamen proprie signatur horror ille, dum pili exurgunt ob metum, vel, ob iracundiam.)
The Prophet here confirms what he had before taught, even that Babylon, however proud on account of its strongholds, would not yet escape God's hand. Had he used a simple mode of speaking, hardly any one would have ventured to look for what the Prophet said. It was then necessary to introduce figurative expressions, of which we have before spoken. Here, then, with the highest authority, he commands the nations to raise up war against Babylon.
We must observe, as I have before reminded you, that by such modes of speaking, the effect of prophetic doctrine is set forth. For the unbelieving deride whatever they hear, because the voice of God is the same to them as though it were a sound flowing through the air. Hence the Prophet shows that he was endued with the power of God, and that the hand of God was connected with his mouth, so that he fulfills whatever he predicts. Raise, he says, a standard. This might have appeared ludicrous, for we know that the Prophet was despised, not only at Jerusalem, but also in his own town where he had been born: by what right, then, or on what ground does he now boldly command all nations, and bid the banners to be raised? But as I have said, he shows that a false judgment would be formed of what he said, except the people thought that God himself spoke.
Sound with the trumpet, he says, among all nations, and then, sanctify against her the nations; and further, assemble, literally, "make to hear," but it means, in Piel, to collect, to assemble. As to the word Ararat, it may be taken for Armenia. I know not why some have taken Minni to be the lower Armenia, for there is no creditable author for such an opinion. Nor is it certain what country the Prophet designates by Ashchenaz. But it is evident from histories, that the great army which Darius, or Cyrus under the authority of Darius, led with him, had been collected from various and even remote nations. For he brought with him the Hyrcanians and the Armenians, and some from many unknown places. As, then, heathen authors declare that this army was collected indiscriminately from many nations and almost unknown, it is nothing strange that the Hebrew names are at this day unknown. And there is no doubt but that the Prophet here indirectly intimates some great shaking of the world, as though he had said, that even barbarous nations, The name of whom hath not hitherto been heard of, would come like all overwhelming flood to destroy Babylon. He will hereafter speak of the Medes; but here he treats the subject in a different way, as though he had said, that so great would be the multitude of enemies, that Babylon, notwithstanding its largeness, would be easily overthrown. We now perceive the Prophet's design as to these obscure words.
He says afterwards, Set up a leader against her. This is to be understood of Cyrus, whose vigor was especially apparent in that war. Nor is there a doubt but that he led his uncle and father-in-law to undertake the war. For those historians fable, who say that Cyrus was cast away by his grandfather, and that he was brought up privately by Astyages, and that he afterwards made war with his grandfather. All these things have been invented. For it is quite evident that Darius, the king of the Medes, was the chief in that war, and Daniel is our best witness on this point. Heathen writers imagine that there was no king of the Medes except under the authority of Cyrus. But Cyrus did not rule until after the death of his father-in-law, or his uncle, whose daughter he had married. It then follows, that he was the general, so that he carried on the war under the authority of Darius. Cyrus then was, as it were, the hired soldier of his uncle and father-in-law, but at length he obtained the kingdom of the Medes and the whole empire of the East. Of this leader, then, I understand this passage, when the Prophet says, Set up or appoint a leader against Babylon:1 he adds, Bring forth, or make to ascend, the horse as the locust. This refers to their number; as though he had said, Bring forth against Babylon horses without number, who shall be as locusts. He compares them to locusts, not for strength or skill in war, but only with regard to their number. But as the locusts are frightful, he applies to them the word rmo, samer, "dreadful," as though he had said, They are, indeed, locusts as to their abundance, but they are at the same time dreadful, as though they had on them frightful hairs. It afterwards follows, --