Verse 23. "With their face toward the earth "With their faces to the earth"" - It is well known that expressions of submission, homage, and reverence always have been and are still carried to a great degree of extravagance in the eastern countries. When Joseph's brethren were introduced to him, "they bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth, "Gen. xlii. 6. The kings of Persia never admitted any one to their presence without exacting this act of adoration; for that was the proper term for it. Necesse est, says the Persian courtier to Conon, si in conspectum veneris, venerari te regem; quod proskunein illi vocant.
"It is necessary, if thou shouldest come in sight, to venerate thee as king; which they call worshipptng." -NEPOS in Conone. Alexander, intoxicated with success, affected this piece of oriental pride: Itaque more Persarum Macedonas venerabundos ipsum salutare, prosternentes humi corpora.
"The Macedonians after the manner of the Persians, saluted their monarch with the ceremony of prostration." -CURTIUS, lib. viii. The insolence of eastern monarchs to conquered princes, and the submission of the latter, is astonishing. Mr. Warmer, Observ. ii. 43, gives the following instance of it from D'Herbelot: "This prince threw himself one day on the ground, and kissed the prints that his victorious enemy's horse had made there; reciting some verses in Persian, which he had composed, to this effect:- "'The mark that the foot of your horse has left upon the dust, serves me now for a crown.
"'The ring which I wear as the badge of my slavery, is become my richest ornament.
"'While I shall have the happiness to kiss the dust of your feet, I shall think that fortune favours me with its tenderest caresses, and its sweetest kisses.'" These expressions therefore of the prophet are only general poetical images, taken from the manners of the country, to denote great respect and reverence: and such splendid poetical images, which frequently occur in the prophetical writings, were intended only as general amplifications of the subject, not as predictions to be understood and fulfilled precisely according to the letter. For the different kinds of adoration in the east, see the note on chap. xliv. 17.
Verse 24. "Shall the prey be taken from the mighty "Shall the prey seized by the terrible be rescued"" - For qydx tsaddik, read Åyr[ arits. A palpable mistake, like that in chap. xlii. 19. The correction is self-evident from the very terms of the sentence; from the necessity of the strict correspondence in the expressions between the question and the answer made to it, -and it is apparent to the blindest and most prejudiced eye.
However, if authority is also necessary, there is that of the Syriac and Vulgate for it; who plainly read Åyr[ arits, in ver. 24 as well as in ver. 25, rendering it in the former place by the same word as in the latter. - L.
These two last verses contain a glorious promise of deliverance to the persecuted Church of Christ from the terrible one-Satan, and all his representatives and vicegerents, persecuting antichristian rulers. They shall at last cease from destroying the Church of God, and destroy one another.