Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
isa 18:1The lord - Either Ethiopia beyond Egypt; or of Egypt. Wings - The title of wings is given, in scripture, to divers things which have some kind of resemblance to wings, as to the battlements of an house or temple, to an army, and to the sails of a ship, as this word is here commonly understood. And shadowing with wings is nothing else but overspread or filled with them. Which title may be given either to Ethiopia or Egypt, in regard of the great numbers either of their armies, or of their ships or vessels sailing upon the sea or rivers. Besides - Situated on both sides of the Nile. Rivers - Called rivers, in the plural number, either for its greatness, or for the many rivulets that run into it, or for the various streams into which it is divided.
isa 18:2Sendeth - That at this time are sending ambassadors, to strengthen themselves with alliances. Bulrushes - Both the Egyptians and Ethiopians, used boats of rushes or reeds, which were more convenient for them than those of wood, because they were both cheaper and swifter, and lighter for carriage from place to place. These seem to be the words of the prophet, who having pronounced a woe against the land hitherto described, here continues his speech, and gives a commission from God to these messengers, to go to this nation scattered, &c. Then he calls to all nations to be witnesses of the message sent, Isa 18:3, and then the message follows in the succeeding verses. Messengers - Whom I have appointed for this work, and tell them what I am about to do with them. Scattered - Not by banishment but in their habitations. Which agrees well to the Ethiopians, for the manner of their habitation, which is more scattered than that of other people. Peeled - Having their hair plucked off. This is metaphorically used in scripture, for some great calamity, whereby men are stripped of all their comforts. And this title may be given to them prophetically, to signify their approaching destruction. Terrible - Such were the Egyptians, and Ethiopians, as appears both from sacred and profane histories. Meted - Meted out as it were with lines to destruction. Trodden - By Divine sentence, and to be trodden down by their enemies. The rivers - Which may be understood of the Assyrians or Babylonians breaking in upon them like a river, and destroying their land and people.
isa 18:3When - When God shall gather together the nations, as it were by the lifting up of an ensign, or by the sound of a trumpet, to execute his judgments upon this people.
isa 18:4Rest - I will not bestir myself, to help this people. God is said in scripture to rest, or sit still, when he doth not work on the behalf of a person or people. Dwelling - place - In heaven, the place where God dwells. Harvest - The sense is, that God would look upon them with as uncomfortable an influence as the sun with a clear heat upon the herbs, which are scorched and killed by it; and as a cloud of the dew, which brings dew or rain, in the heat of harvest, when it is unwelcome and hurtful.
isa 18:5For - Before they receive the end of their hopes. When - When the bud or flower is turned into a grape, which gives hopes of good vintage. He - The Lord. The branches - Instead of gathering the grapes, shall cut down the tree, and throw it into the fire.
isa 18:6Thy - The branches being cut down and thrown upon the ground, with the unripe grapes upon them. Left - They shall lie upon the earth, so that either birds or beasts may shelter themselves with them, or feed on them, both summer and winter.
isa 18:7In that time - At or after that time, when the judgment shall be compleatly executed. A people - The people of whom I am speaking shall present themselves, and their sacrifices, to the true God.