Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.
Wherefore, when I came, was there no man?.... The Targum is,
"why have I sent my prophets, and they are not converted?''
And so Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret it of the prophets that prophesied unto them, to bring them to repentance: the Lord might be said to come by his prophets, his messengers; but they did not receive them, nor their messages, but despised and rejected them, and therefore were carried captive, 2 Chronicles 36:15, but it is best to understand it of the coming of Christ in the flesh; when there were none that would receive, nor even come to him, but hid their faces from him, nor suffer others to be gathered unto him, or attend his ministry; they would neither go in themselves into the kingdom of the Messiah, nor let others go in that were entering, John 1:11,
when I called, was there none to answer? he called them to the marriage feast, to his word and ordinances, but they made light of it, and went about their worldly business; many were called externally in his ministry, but few were chosen, and effectually wrought upon; he called, but there was no answer given; for there was no internal principle in them, no grace to answer to the call; he stretched out his hands to a rebellious and gainsaying people, Matthew 22:2,
Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? they did not know him to be the mighty God; they took him to be a mere man; and being descended from such mean parents, and making such a mean appearance, they could not think he was able to be their Redeemer and Saviour; but that he had sufficient ability appears by what follows:
behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea; he was able to do it, and did do it for the children of Israel, and made a passage through the Red sea for them, as on dry land; which was done by a strong east wind he caused to blow, here called his "rebuke", Exodus 14:20, of Christ's rebuking the sea, see Matthew 8:26.
I make the rivers a wilderness; as dry as the wilderness, and parched ground; in which persons may pass as on dry ground, and as travellers pass through a wilderness; so Jordan was made for the Israelites, Joshua 3:17, and may be here particularly meant; called "rivers" because of the excellency of it, and the abundance of water in it, which sometimes overflowed its banks; and because other rivers fall into it, as Kimchi observes:
their flesh stinketh because there is no water, and dieth for thirst; as they did when the rivers of Egypt were turned into blood, Exodus 7:21.