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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 6

Verses 1-13

The Prophet’s Call

This c., which recounts the prophet’s call and commission, would stand first in a chronological arrangement of the book. The opening words remind us of the vision of Micaiah (1 Kings 22:19), and we should compare the visions of Jeremiah and Ezekiel which inaugurated their prophetic activity. In St. John’s vision (Revelation 4) the same anthem, ’Holy, holy, holy,’ is sung by the six-winged living creatures round about the throne. Isaiah’s vision foreshadows such leading elements of his thought as, (1) the majesty of God, (2) the uncleanness of the people, (3) his conviction that he had a divine message for them, (4) their stubbornness and heedlessness, (5) the necessity of judgment, (6) the idea of the remnant.

1-4. Isaiah’s vision of Jehovah enthroned and the worship of heaven. 5-7. He confesses his sin and is absolved. 8-13. He receives his prophetic commission.

1. The year that king Uzziah died] 740 b.c. See Intro. The prophet, when meditating perhaps on the condition of the nation and its gloomy prospects, is favoured with a vision of the glory of God. Train] i.e. the skirts (RM) of his royal robes.

2. Above it] RV ’above him.’ The seraphims] here only in OT. the word denotes supernatural beings, It is derived from the verb ’to burn,’ and may simply indicate the fiery or glowing appearance of Jehovah’s attendant angels (Ezekiel 1:13-14). Elsewhere, however, the same word stands for venomous serpents (Numbers 21:6; Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 30:6) and it may here be intended to convey the meaning that the guardians of Jehovah’s throne are of serpentine form. This is scarcely borne out by the context (Isaiah 6:6-7), though in Ezekiel’s vision of heaven animal forms are introduced (Ezekiel 1:10.)

Covered his face] in reverence.

3. Holy, holy, holy] The threefold repetition denotes emphasis or intensity (Jeremiah 7:4). It is significant that the title of Jehovah most characteristic of Isaiah’s prophecies is ’the Holy One of Israel.’ In the light of later revelation Christians have not unnaturally seen here a foreshadowing of the Holy Trinity: cp. Revelation 4:8.

4. The posts of the door moved] RV ’the foundations of the thresholds were moved.’ Smoke] a symbol of the divine presence, as in Exodus 19:9, Exodus 19:18; 1 Kings 8:10, 1 Kings 8:11.

5. Lips] the pure praises of the seraphim made Isaiah think by contrast of his own sins of the lips. For mine eyes have seen, etc.] No man could see God and live (Exodus 33:20).

6. Live coal] Fire is the symbol of purification: cp. Malachi 3:2; Matthew 3:11.

8. For us] the plural in the mouth of God as in Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22; Genesis 11:7. Jehovah consults with the angels around His throne; similarly in Micaiah’s vision (1 Kings 22:19-20: cp. Psalms 89:7).

10. The result of the prophet’s preaching described as though it were the purpose. Most of his hearers will stubbornly reject his message, with the result that they will become dead to all impressions. The heart] regarded by the Hebrews as the seat of the understanding: cp. Hosea 7:11. Convert] RV ’turn again.’

11, 12. Isaiah feels that such a state of things cannot be allowed to continue, and is assured that Jehovah will interpose with a terrible judgment of war and exile.

12. There he a great forsaking] RV ’the forsaken places be many.’

13. RV ’And if there be yet a tenth in it, it shall again be eaten up: as a terebinth, and as an oak, whose stock remaineth, when they are felled; so the holy seed is the stock thereof.’ The meaning is that the coming judgment is not a single one but a series. Yet as when an evergreen tree is cut down the stump remains from which new shoots may grow, so there will be a faithful remnant of Israel left, to be the germ of a renewed people. This doctrine of the remnant is characteristic of Isaiah: cp. Isaiah 4:3; Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 10:20, Isaiah 10:21.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 6". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.