Warnings to Judah
These chapters refer to the state of affairs during the reign of Hezekiah, when Palestine was threatened by Assyria, and an influential party in Judah favoured resistance, relying on the support of Egypt; a line of policy consistently opposed by Isaiah.
This chapter must be assigned (Isaiah 28:1) to a date prior to the capture of Samaria by the Assyrians (722 b.c.) and fall of the northern kingdom.
1-6. Samaria's luxury and self-indulgence pave the way to ruin.
7-10. Judah likewise is given up to indulgence and heeds not the prophet's warning,
11-13. Therefore Jehovah will teach the people by means of foreign invasion and disaster.
14-22. Judah's safety lies not in faithless diplomacy, but in trust in Jehovah.
23-29. A parable of Jehovah's way of working, drawn from the action of the husbandman, who conducts his operations in accordance with a wise plan.
1. RV 'Woe to the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading flower of his glorious beauty which is on the head,' etc. The city of Samaria crowning its fair valley is destined to fade and pass away like the flower-garlands of her revellers.
2. A mighty.. one] viz. the Assyrian, Jehovah's agent.
4. Hasty fruit] RV 'first-ripe fig': a delicacy eagerly devoured.
5. In place of the false glory destined to perish, Jehovah is to be a true glory for the faithful remnant.
6. True administration of justice within, and strength to repel the invader. Turn, etc.] RV 'turn back the battle at the gate.'
7. They also] the men of Judah. They err in vision, etc.] They are drunk when engaged in the sacred duties of their office; the tables they have just left prove it (Isaiah 28:8).
9. They mock the prophet; his teaching is only fit for babes!
10. The people's mockery continued. Must be] RV 'is.' Precept.. line] The words in Heb. are monosyllables, such as would be used in teaching little children.
11. Isaiah's retort, Jehovah will teach them through a foreign invader. RV 'Nay, but by men of strange lips and with another tongue,' etc.
12. This is the rest, etc.] cp. Isaiah 30:15. Jehovah through His prophet had pointed out the way of peace and recovery for the nation that already under Ahaz had suffered much through foreign alliance. But the politicians of Judah were without patient trust in Jehovah, and were preparing further trouble by seeking alliance with Egypt.
13. RV 'Therefore shall the word of the Lord be unto them,' etc. The teaching they refused will prove a burden and a stumbling block.
15. Made a covenant] they thought that by their policy they had, as it were, bought off death and Hades—made themselves secure.
Lies, etc.] Though the words are put into the mouth of the politicians, the point of view is the prophet's.
16. Zion] as being Jehovah's foundation, shall stand firm. The imagery was suggested by the large stones of the Temple. Shall not make haste] i.e. hasten hither and thither to seek security by alliances (e.g. with Egypt), but may wait confidently on Jehovah. The Apostles saw the ultimate spiritual fulfilment of Isaiah's words in the person of Christ (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6-7).
17. RV 'Judgment also will I make the line and righteousness the plummet.' Righteousness is the standard by which Jehovah will try conduct. The sense of what follows is that the false refuges and alliances (Isaiah 28:18), by which men seek to secure themselves, will be swept away.
19. From.. forth] RV 'As often as it passeth through.' A vexation, etc.] RV 'nought but terror to understand the message,' which they before rejected (Isaiah 28:12-13); it is now nothing but terrifying rumours.
20. Depicts in an expressive figure the failure ending in restless discomfort and distress, towards which the policy of the dominant party is tending.
21. Perazim.. Gibeon] referring to David's victories over the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:20; 1 Chronicles 14:16). Then God interposed on behalf of His people, His strange work is His work of judgment against them.
22. Their scornful attitude will only lead to heavier foreign oppression. Lest your bands] They are acting in such a way as to fix the Assyrian yoke more firmly upon Judah, and render it more galling. Consumption] RV 'consummation': see Isaiah 10:22, Isaiah 10:23.
24. The implied answer is No; he doth not do these things continually.
25. Fitches] (i.e. fennel-seed) and cummin were the smallest and most delicate seeds. Cast in, etc.] RV 'put in the wheat in rows, and the barley in the appointed place, and the spelt in the border thereof.'
28. 'Is bread corn crushed? Nay, he.. and though the wheel of his cart and his horses scatter it, he doth not grind it.'
29. Working] RV 'wisdom.'
In Isaiah 28:24-29 the skill of the agriculturalist in varying his operations is treated as a reflexion and parable of the divine wisdom. Delicate grains are threshed but not crushed so heavily as to spoil them (Isaiah 28:27-28); so Jehovah's judgments are not for destruction, but to prepare men for their great destiny.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 28". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany