Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, May 29th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 1

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole BibleCommentary Critical




Verse 1

1. THE GENERAL TITLE OR PROGRAM applying to the entire book: this discountenances the Talmud tradition, that he was sawn asunder by Manasseh.

Isaiah—equivalent to "The Lord shall save"; significant of the subject of his prophecies. On "vision," see 1 Samuel 9:9; Numbers 12:6; and see my Numbers 12:6- :

Judah and Jerusalem—Other nations also are the subjects of his prophecies; but only in their relation to the Jews (Numbers 12:6- :); so also the ten tribes of Israel are introduced only in the same relation (Numbers 12:6- :). Jerusalem is particularly specified, being the site of the temple, and the center of the theocracy, and the future throne of Messiah (Psalms 48:2; Psalms 48:3; Psalms 48:9; Jeremiah 3:17). Jesus Christ is the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Jeremiah 3:17- :).

Uzziah—called also Azariah (2 Kings 14:21; 2 Chronicles 26:1; 2 Chronicles 26:17; 2 Chronicles 26:20). The Old Testament prophecies spiritually interpret the histories, as the New Testament Epistles interpret the Gospels and Acts. Study them together, to see their spiritual relations. Isaiah prophesied for only a few years before Uzziah's death; but his prophecies of that period (Isaiah 1:1-6) apply to Jotham's reign also, in which he probably wrote none; for Isaiah 7:1-25 enters immediately on Ahaz' reign, after Uzziah in Isaiah 7:1-23.7.25- :; the prophecies under Hezekiah follow next.

Verse 2

2. The very words of Moses ( :-); this implies that the law was the charter and basis of all prophecy (Isaiah 8:20).

LordJehovah; in Hebrew, "the self-existing and promise-fulfilling, unchangeable One." The Jews never pronounced this holy name, but substituted Adonai. The English Version, LORD in capitals, marks the Hebrew "Jehovah," though Lord is rather equivalent to "Adonai" than "Jehovah."

children— (Isaiah 8:20- :).

rebelled—as sons (Isaiah 8:20- :) and as subjects, God being king in the theocracy (Isaiah 8:20- :). "Brought up," literally, "elevated," namely, to peculiar privileges (Jeremiah 2:6-8; Romans 9:4; Romans 9:5).

Verse 3

3. ( :-).

crib—the stall where it is fed (Proverbs 14:4). Spiritually the word and ordinances.

Israel—The whole nation, Judah as well as Israel, in the restricted sense. God regards His covenant-people in their designed unity.

not know—namely, his Owner, as the parallelism requires; that is, not recognize Him as such (Exodus 19:5, equivalent to "my people," John 1:10; John 1:11).

considerattend to his Master (Isaiah 41:8), notwithstanding the spiritual food which He provides (answering to "crib" in the parallel clause).

Verse 4

4. people—the peculiar designation of God's elect nation ( :-), that they should be "laden with iniquity" is therefore the more monstrous. Sin is a load (Psalms 38:4; Matthew 11:28).

seed—another appellation of God's elect (Genesis 12:7; Jeremiah 2:21), designed to be a "holy seed" (Isaiah 6:13), but, awful to say, "evildoers!"

children—by adoption (Hosea 11:1), yet "evildoers"; not only so, but "corrupters" of others (Hosea 11:1- :); the climax. So "nation—people—seed children."

provoked—literally, "despised," namely, so as to provoke (Proverbs 1:30; Proverbs 1:31).

Holy One of Israel—the peculiar heinousness of their sin, that it was against their God (Amos 3:2).

gone . . . backward—literally, "estranged" (Amos 3:2- :).

Verse 5

5. Why—rather, as Vulgate, "On what part." Image from a body covered all over with marks of blows (Psalms 38:3). There is no part in which you have not been smitten.

head . . . sick, c.—not referring, as it is commonly quoted, to their sins, but to the universality of their punishment. However, sin, the moral disease of the head or intellect, and the heart, is doubtless made its own punishment (Proverbs 1:31 Jeremiah 2:19; Hosea 8:11). "Sick," literally, "is in a state of sickness" [GESENIUS]; "has passed into sickness" [MAURER].

Verse 6

6. From the lowest to the highest of the people; "the ancient and honorable, the head, the prophet that teacheth lies, the tail." See :-. He first states their wretched condition, obvious to all (Isaiah 1:6-9); and then, not previously, their irreligious state, the cause of it.

wounds—judicially inflicted (Hosea 5:13).

mollified with ointment—The art of medicine in the East consists chiefly in external applications (Luke 10:34; James 5:14).

Verse 7

7. Judah had not in Uzziah's reign recovered from the ravages of the Syrians in Joash's reign ( :-), and of Israel in Amaziah's reign (2 Chronicles 25:13; 2 Chronicles 25:23, c.). Compare Isaiah's contemporary (Amos 4:6-11), where, as here (Isaiah 1:9 Isaiah 1:10), Israel is compared to "Sodom and Gomorrah," because of the judgments on it by "fire."

in your presence—before your eyes: without your being able to prevent them.

desolate, &c.—literally, "there is desolation, such as one might look for from foreign" invaders.

Verse 8

8. daughter of Zion—the city (Psalms 9:14), Jerusalem and its inhabitants (2 Kings 19:21): "daughter" (feminine, singular being used as a neuter collective noun), equivalent to sons (2 Kings 19:21- :, Margin) [MAURER]. Metropolis or "mother-city" is the corresponding term. The idea of youthful beauty is included in "daughter."

left—as a remnant escaping the general destruction.

cottage—a hut, made to give temporary shelter to the caretaker of the vineyard.

lodge—not permanent.

besieged—rather, as "left," and Isaiah 1:9 require, preserved, namely, from the desolation all round [MAURER].

Verse 9

9. Jehovah of Sabaoth, that is, God of the angelic and starry hosts (Psalms 59:5; Psalms 147:4; Psalms 148:2). The latter were objects of idolatry, called hence Sabaism (Psalms 148:2- :). God is above even them (Psalms 148:2- :). "The groves" were symbols of these starry hosts; it was their worship of Sabaoth instead of the Lord of Sabaoth, which had caused the present desolation (Psalms 148:2- :). It needed no less a power than His, to preserve even a "remnant." Condescending grace for the elect's sake, since He has no need of us, seeing that He has countless hosts to serve Him.

Verse 10

10. Sodom—spiritually (Genesis 19:24; Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16:46; Revelation 11:8).

Verse 11

11. God does not here absolutely disparage sacrifice, which is as old and universal as sin (Genesis 3:21; Genesis 4:4), and sin is almost as old as the world; but sacrifice, unaccompanied with obedience of heart and life (1 Samuel 15:22; Psalms 50:9-13; Psalms 51:16-19; Hosea 6:6). Positive precepts are only means; moral obedience is the end. A foreshadowing of the gospel, when the One real sacrifice was to supersede all the shadowy ones, and "bring in everlasting righteousness" (Psalms 40:6; Psalms 40:7; Daniel 9:24-27; Hebrews 10:1-14).

full—to satiety; weary of

burnt offerings—burnt whole, except the blood, which was sprinkled about the altar.

fat—not to be eaten by man, but burnt on the altar (Leviticus 3:4; Leviticus 3:5; Leviticus 3:11; Leviticus 3:17).

Verse 12

12. appear before me—in the temple where the Shekinah, resting on the ark, was the symbol of God's presence (Exodus 23:15; Psalms 42:2).

who hath required this—as if you were doing God a service by such hypocritical offerings (Psalms 42:2- :). God did require it (Psalms 42:2- :), but not in this spirit (Micah 6:6; Micah 6:7).

courts—areas, in which the worshippers were. None but priests entered the temple itself.

Verse 13

13. oblations—unbloody; "meat (old English sense, not flesh) offerings," that is, of flour, fruits, oil, c. ( :-). Hebrew, mincha.

incense—put upon the sacrifices, and burnt on the altar of incense. Type of prayer (Psalms 141:2 Revelation 8:3).

new moons—observed as festivals (Numbers 10:10; Numbers 28:11; Numbers 28:14) with sacrifices and blowing of silver trumpets.

sabbaths—both the seventh day and the beginning and closing days of the great feasts (Leviticus 23:24-39).

away with—bear, MAURER translates, "I cannot bear iniquity and the solemn meeting," that is, the meeting associated with iniquity—literally, the closing days of the feasts; so the great days (Leviticus 23:36; John 7:37).

Verse 14

14. appointed—the sabbath, passover, pentecost, day of atonement, and feast of tabernacles [HENGSTENBERG]; they alone were fixed to certain times of the year.

weary— ( :-).

Verse 15

15. (Psalms 66:18; Proverbs 28:9; Lamentations 3:43; Lamentations 3:44).

spread . . . hands—in prayer (1 Kings 8:22). Hebrew, "bloods," for all heinous sins, persecution of God's servants especially (Matthew 23:35). It was the vocation of the prophets to dispel the delusion, so contrary to the law itself (Matthew 23:35- :), that outward ritualism would satisfy God.

Verse 16

16. God saith to the sinner, "Wash you," c., that he, finding his inability to "make" himself "clean," may cry to God, Wash me, cleanse me (Psalms 51:2 Psalms 51:7; Psalms 51:10).

before mine eyes—not mere outward reformation before man's eyes, who cannot, as God, see into the heart (Psalms 51:10- :).

Verse 17

17. seek judgmentjustice, as magistrates, instead of seeking bribes (Jeremiah 22:3; Jeremiah 22:16).

judge—vindicate (Psalms 68:5; James 1:27).

Verse 18

18. God deigns to argue the case with us, that all may see the just, nay, loving principle of His dealings with men (Isaiah 43:26).

scarlet—the color of Jesus Christ's robe when bearing our "sins" (Isaiah 43:26- :). So Rahab's thread (Isaiah 43:26- :; compare Leviticus 14:4). The rabbins say that when the lot used to be taken, a scarlet fillet was bound on the scapegoat's head, and after the high priest had confessed his and the people's sins over it, the fillet became white: the miracle ceased, according to them, forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, exactly when Jesus Christ was crucified; a remarkable admission of adversaries. Hebrew for "scarlet" radically means double-dyed; so the deep-fixed permanency of sin in the heart, which no mere tears can wash away.

snow— (Leviticus 14:4- :). Repentance is presupposed, before sin can be made white as snow (Isaiah 1:19; Isaiah 1:20); it too is God's gift (Jeremiah 31:18).

red—refers to "blood" (Isaiah 1:15).

as wool—restored to its original undyed whiteness. This verse shows that the old fathers did not look only for transitory promises (Article VII, Book of Common Prayer). For sins of ignorance, and such like, alone had trespass offerings appointed for them; greater guilt therefore needed a greater sacrifice, for, "without shedding of blood there was no remission"; but none such was appointed, and yet forgiveness was promised and expected; therefore spiritual Jews must have looked for the One Mediator of both Old Testament and New Testament, though dimly understood.

Verse 19

19, 20. Temporal blessings in "the land of their possession" were prominent in the Old Testament promises, as suited to the childhood of the Church (Exodus 3:17). New Testament spiritual promises derive their imagery from the former (Exodus 3:17- :).

Verse 20

20. Lord hath spoken it—Isaiah's prophecies rest on the law ( :-). God alters not His word ( :-).

Verse 21

21. faithful—as a wife (Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 62:5; Hosea 2:19; Hosea 2:20).

harlot— (Hosea 2:20- :).

righteousness lodged— (2 Peter 3:13).

murderers—murderous oppressors, as the antithesis requires (see on 2 Peter 3:13- :; 2 Peter 3:13- :).

Verse 22

22. Thy princes and people are degenerate in "solid worth," equivalent to "silver" (Jeremiah 6:28; Jeremiah 6:30; Ezekiel 22:18; Ezekiel 22:19), and in their use of the living Word, equivalent to "wine" (Song of Solomon 7:9).

mixed—literally, "circumcised." So the Arabic, "to murder" wine, equivalent to dilute it.

Verse 23

23. companions of thieves—by connivance (Proverbs 29:24).

gifts— (Proverbs 29:24- :). A nation's corruption begins with its rulers.

Verse 24

24. Lord . . . LordAdonai, JEHOVAH.

mighty One of Israel—mighty to take vengeance, as before, to save.


ease me—My long tried patience will find relief in at last punishing the guilty ( :-). God's language condescends to human conceptions.

Verse 25

25. turn . . . hand—not in wrath, but in grace ( :-), "upon thee," as Isaiah 1:26; Isaiah 1:27 show; contrasted with the enemies, of whom He will avenge Himself (Isaiah 1:27- :).

purely—literally, "as alkali purifies."

thy dross—not thy sins, but the sinful persons (Isaiah 1:27- :); "enemies" (Isaiah 1:27- :); degenerate princes (see on Isaiah 1:27- :), intermingled with the elect "remnant" of grace.

tinHebrew, bedil, here the alloy of lead, tin, &c., separated by smelting from the silver. The pious Bishop Bedell took his motto from this.

Verse 26

26. As the degeneracy had shown itself most in the magistrates ( :-), so, at the "restoration," these shall be such as the theocracy "at the first" had contemplated, namely, after the Babylonish restoration in part and typically, but fully and antitypically under Messiah (Isaiah 32:1; Isaiah 52:8; Jeremiah 33:7; Matthew 19:28).

faithful—no longer "an harlot."

Verse 27

27. redeemed—temporarily, civilly, and morally; type of the spiritual redemption by the price of Jesus Christ's blood (1 Peter 1:18; 1 Peter 1:19), the foundation of "judgment" and "righteousness," and so of pardon. The judgment and righteousness are God's first (Isaiah 42:21; Romans 3:26); so they become man's when "converted" (Romans 8:3; Romans 8:4); typified in the display of God's "justice," then exhibited in delivering His covenant-people, whereby justice or "righteousness" was produced in them.

converts—so MAURER. But Margin, "they that return of her," namely the remnant that return from captivity. However, as Isaiah had not yet expressly foretold the Babylonian captivity, the English Version is better.

Verse 28

28. destruction—literally, "breaking into shivers" ( :-). The prophets hasten forward to the final extinction of the ungodly (Psalms 37:20; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:15); of which antecedent judgments are types.

Verse 29

29. ashamed— ( :-).

oaks—Others translate the "terebinth" or "turpentine tree." Groves were dedicated to idols. Our Druids took their name from the Greek for "oaks." A sacred tree is often found in Assyrian sculpture; symbol of the starry hosts, Saba.

gardens—planted enclosures for idolatry; the counterpart of the garden of Eden.

Verse 30

30. oak—Ye shall be like the "oaks," the object of your "desire" ( :-). People become like the gods they worship; they never rise above their level (Psalms 135:18). So men's sins become their own scourges (Psalms 135:18- :). The leaf of the idol oak fades by a law of necessary consequence, having no living sap or "water" from God. So "garden" answers to "gardens" (Psalms 135:18- :).

Verse 31

31. strong—powerful rulers ( :-).

maker of it—rather, his work. He shall be at once the fuel, "tow," and the cause of the fire, by kindling the first "spark."

both—the wicked ruler, and "his work," which "is as a spark."

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfb/isaiah-1.html. 1871-8.
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