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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 6

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

Isaiah 6:1-13. Isaiah is outside, near the altar in front of the temple. The doors are supposed to open, and the veil hiding the Holy of holies to be withdrawn, unfolding to his view a vision of God, represented as an Eastern monarch, attended by seraphim as His ministers of state (1 Kings 22:19), and with a robe and flowing train (a badge of dignity in the East) which filled the temple. This assertion that he had seen God was, according to tradition, the pretext for sawing him asunder in Manasseh's reign (Hebrews 11:37). Compare Introduction. Visions often occur in the other prophets: in Isaiah there is only this one, and it marked by characteristic clearness and simplicity.

In the year that king Uzziah died - either literal death, or civil, when he ceased, as a leper, to exercise his functions as king (Chaldaic). (2 Chronicles 26:19-21.) 754 BC (Calmet). 758 (Common Chronology). This is not the first beginning of Isaiah's prophecies, but his inauguration to a higher degree of the prophetic office; for Isaiah 6:9, etc., implies the tone of one who had already experience of the people's obstinacy.

I saw also the Lord - here 'Adonaay (H136); Yahweh (H3068) in Isaiah 6:5. Jesus Christ is meant as speaking in Isaiah 6:10, according to John 12:41. Isaiah could only have 'seen' the Son, not the divine essence (John 1:18). The words of Isaiah 6:10 are attributed by Paul (Acts 28:25-26) to the Holy Spirit. Thus the Trinity, in unity is implied; as also by the thrice "Holy" (Isaiah 6:3). Isaiah mentions the robes temple, and seraphim, but not the form of God Himself. Whatever it was, it was different from the usual Shekinah: that was on the mercy-seat, this on a throne; that a cloud and fire, of this no form is specified; over that were the cherubim, over this the seraphim; that had no clothing, this had a flowing robe and train.

Verse 2

Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

Above it (or, Above HIM) stood - not necessarily the posture of standing; rather were in attendance on Him, hovering on expanded wings.

The - not in the Hebrew.

Seraphim, [ sªraapiym (H8314)] - nowhere else applied to God's attendant angels; but to the fiery flying (not winged, but rapidly moving) serpents which bit the Israelites (Numbers 21:6): called so from the poisonous inflammation caused by their bites. Saarap (H8313) is to burn; implying the burning zeal, dazzling brightness of appearance (2 Kings 2:11; 2 Kings 6:17; Ezekiel 1:13; Matthew 28:3), and serpent-like rapidity of the seraphim in Gods service. Perhaps Satan's form as a serpent ( nachash (H5175)) in his appearance to man has some connection with his original form as a seraph of light. The head of the serpent was the symbol of wisdom in Egypt (cf. Numbers 21:8; 2 Kings 18:4). Satan has wisdom, but wisdom not sanctified by the flame of devotion. The seraphim, with six wings and one face, can hardly be identified with the cherubim, which had four wings (in the temple only two) and four faces (Ezekiel 1:5-12). But cf. Revelation 4:8, 'The four living creatures (Greek) had each of them six wings about him.' The "face" and "feet" imply a human form; something of a serpentine form (perhaps a basilisk head, as in the temples of Thebes) may have been mixed with it: so the cherub was compounded of various animal forms. However, seraph may come from an Arabic root akin to sarim, meaning prince: applied in Daniel 10:13 to Michael (Maurer); just as cherub comes from a root (changing m into b) meaning noble.

With twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. Two wings alone of the six were kept ready for instant fight in God's service; two veiled their faces as unworthy to look on the holy God, or pry into His secret counsels which their fulfilled (Exodus 3:6; Job 4:18; Job 15:15; 1 Kings 19:13); two covered their feet, or rather the whole of the lower parts of their persons-a practice usual in the presence of Eastern monarchs, in token of reverence (cf. Ezekiel 1:11, "two (wings) covered their bodies"). Man's service a fortiori consists in reverent waiting on, still more than in active service for God.

Verse 3

And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

One cried unto another Holy, holy, holy (is) the Lord of hosts - (Revelation 4:8) The Trinity is implied (see note on "Lord" Isaiah 6:1). Gods holiness is the key-note of Isaiah's whole prophecies.

The whole earth (is) full of his glory. The Hebrew more emphatically, the fullness of this whole earth is His glory (Psalms 24:1; Psalms 72:19).

Verse 4

And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

The posts of the door moved at the voice - the foundations of the thresholds (Maurer). The lintel above resting on the posts (Mercer).

The house - the temple.

Was filled with smoke - the Shekinah cloud, the symbol of "the glory of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:10; Ezekiel 10:4).

Verse 5

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Then said I, Woe (is) me! for I am undone - (Exodus 33:20.) The same effect was produced on others by the presence of God (Judges 6:22; Judges 13:22; Job 42:5-6; Luke 5:8; Revelation 1:17).

Because I am a man of unclean lips. Appropriate to the context, which describes the antiphonal praises of the lips, sung in alternate responses (Exodus 15:20-21; Exodus 5:3) by the seraphim; also appropriate to the office to which Isaiah is now specially being called-that of speaking as the prophet of God (Isaiah 6:9).

For mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts - not strictly Yahweh Himself (John 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:16), but the symbol of His presence.

The LORD - Hebrew, Yahweh (H3068).

Verse 6

Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

Then flew one of the seraphim unto me. The seraph had been in the temple, Isaiah outside of it.

Having a live coal - literally, a hot stone ( ritspah (H7531)) used, as in some countries in our days, to roast meat with; e.g., the meat of the sacrifices. Fire was a symbol of purification, as it takes the dross out of metals (Malachi 3:2-3).

Which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar - of burnt offering in the court of the priests before the temple. The fire on it was at first kindled by God (Leviticus 9:24), and was kept continually burning.

Verse 7

And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

He lain (it) upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips - (cf. note, Isaiah 6:5.) The mouth was touched because it was the part to be used by the prophet when inaugurated. So 'tongues of fire' rested on the disciples (Acts 2:3-4) when they were being set apart to speak in various languages of Jesus.

And thine iniquity is taken away - implying conscious unworthiness of acting as God's messenger.

And thy sin purged ( tªkupaar (H3722)) - literally, covered (cf. note, Isaiah 4:5-6, "defense ... covert"); i:e., expiated, not by any physical effect of fire to cleanse from sin, but in relation to the altar-sacrifices, of which Messiah, who here commissions Isaiah, was in His death to be the antitype: it is implied hereby that it is only by sacrifice sin can be pardoned.

Verse 8

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? The change of number indicates the Trinity (cf. Genesis 1:26; Genesis 11:7). Though not a sure argument for the doctrine, for the plural may in indicate merely majesty, it accords with that truth, proved elsewhere.

Whom ... who - implying that few would be willing to bear the self-denial which the delivering of such an unwelcome message to the Jews would require on the part of the messenger, (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:5, "who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?")

Here am I - prompt zeal, now that he has been specially qualified for it (Isaiah 6:7: cf. 1 Samuel 3:10-11; Acts 9:6).

Verse 9

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

Hear ye indeed, but understand not - Hebrew, In hearing, hear; i:e., Though ye hear the prophet's warnings again and again, ye are doomed, because of your perverse will (John 7:17), not to understand. Light enough is given in Revelation to guide those sincerely seeking to know, in order that they may do, God's will; darkness enough is left to confound the willfully blind (Isaiah 43:8). So in Jesus' use of parables (Matthew 13:14).

See ye indeed - Hebrew, see in seeing; 'though ye see again and again' yet, etc.

Verse 10

Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Make the heart of this people fat (Psalms 119:70) - 'render them the more hardened by thy warning, that they may he hurried along to destruction, to which they willfully hasten' (Maurer). This effect is the fruit, not of the truth in itself, hut of the corrupt state of their hearts, to which God here judicially gives them over (Isaiah 63:17). Gesenius takes the imperatives as futures. 'Proclaim truths, the result of which proclamation will be their becoming the more hardened' (Romans 1:28; Ephesians 4:18); but this does not so well as the former set forth God as designedly giving up sinners to judicial hardening (Romans 11:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:11). In the first member of the sentence the order is, the heart, ears, eyes, in the latter the reverse order, the eyes, ears, heart. It is from the heart that corruption flows into the ears and eyes (Mark 7:21-22); but through the eye and ears healing reaches the heart (Romans 10:17) (Bengel). Jeremiah 5:21; Ezekiel 12:2; Zechariah 7:11; Acts 7:57; 2 Timothy 4:4 "They shall turn away their ears from the truth, and (as the judicial and righteous retribution) shall be turned unto fables." In Matthew 13:15 the words are quoted in the indicative, is waxed gross, (so the Septuagint), not the imperative, make fat: God's word as to the future is as certain as if it were already fulfilled. To see with one's eyes will not convince a will that is opposed to the truth. Compare John 11:45-46; John 12:10-11. So far from being persuaded when one rose from the dead (Luke 16:31) "the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death." 'One must love divine things in order to understand them' (Pascal).

And convert, and be healed - of their spiritual malady, sin (Isaiah 1:6; Psalms 103:3; Jeremiah 17:14).

Verse 11

Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, Lord, how long - will this wretched condition of the nation being hardened to its destruction continue?

Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant (Isaiah 5:9) - fulfilled primarily at the Babylonian captivity, and more fully at the dispersion under the Roman Titus.

Verse 12

And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

And the Lord have removed men far away - (2 Kings 25:21 .) And there be a great forsaking - abandonment of dwellings by their inhabitants (Jeremiah 4:29, end).

Verse 13

But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.

Yet in it (shall be) a tenth, and (it) shall return, and shall be eaten - rather, 'and if in it (the land) there still be a tenth,' it shall be again given over to be consumed:' if even a tenth survive the first destruction, it shall be destroyed by a second (Isaiah 5:25, end; Ezekiel 5:1-5; Ezekiel 5:12) (Maurer and Horsley). In the English version "return" refers to the poor remnant left in the land at the Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 24:14; 2 Kings 25:12), and to those who had fled to Moab and Edom (Jeremiah 40:11-12) and subsequently returned when they heard that the King of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah, end suffered under further divine judgments.

As a teil tree, and as an oak - rather, terebinth, or turpentine tree (Isaiah 1:29).

Whose substance is in them, when they cast (their leaves) 'As a terebinth or oak is which, when they are cast down ( bªshaleket (H7995), from shaalak (H7993), to cast down) (not "cast their leaves:" cf. Job 14:7), the trunk or stock ( matsebet (H4678), akin to the Syriac natzab, to plant) remains, so the holy seed (Ezra 9:2) shall be the stock of that land (Maurer after Forerius). But matsebet (H4678) [from naatsab (H5324) to stand erect] means commonly a pillar (Genesis 28:18; Genesis 35:20); and it may mean, as in the English version, When the tree casts it, leaves, and seems dead Chaldaic), yet it has its solid, pillar-like substance or support in its root. So the holy seed shall be the substance or support of Israel's vitality, giving the assurance of her resurrection spiritually and nationally. The seeds of vitality still exist in both the land and the scattered people of Judea, waiting for the returning spring of God's favour (Romans 11:5; Romans 11:23-29). According to Isaiah, not all Israel, but the elect remnant alone, is destined to salvation. God shows unchangeable severity toward, sin, but covenant faithfulness in preserving a remnant; and to it Isaiah bequeaths the prophetic legacy of the second part of his book, (Isaiah 40:1-31; Isaiah 41:1-29; Isaiah 42:1-25; Isaiah 43:1-28; Isaiah 44:1-28; Isaiah 45:1-25; Isaiah 46:1-13; Isaiah 47:1-15; Isaiah 48:1-22; Isaiah 49:1-26; Isaiah 50:1-11; Isaiah 51:1-23; Isaiah 52:1-15; Isaiah 53:1-12; Isaiah 54:1-17; Isaiah 55:1-13; Isaiah 56:1-12; Isaiah 57:1-21; Isaiah 58:1-14; Isaiah 59:1-21; Isaiah 60:1-22; Isaiah 61:1-11; Isaiah 62:1-12; Isaiah 63:1-19; Isaiah 64:1-12; Isaiah 65:1-25; Isaiah 66:1-24.) Remarks: He who would minister with life-like carnestness to men, must first go into the presence-chamber of the King of kings. King Uzziah's visitation with leprosy had just given the world an awful intimation of the weakness of man in his most prosperous state, and of the terrible consequences of presumptuous sin against God. "Judgments must begin at the house of God;" but if it begin with the otherwise righteous when they transgress, what a terrible doom must await the hardened sinner? Lest, however, the prophet should be discouraged in prosecuting the duties of his office, he is favoured with a vision of the Lord sitting upon His throne amidst attendant Seraphim. Earthly kings and patrons may die, but the Lord above ever lives, as the Upholder of His servants. In our services of God we should imitate the humility of the Seraphim, who marked their sense of their own vast inferiority by veiling their faces with two of their wings, the lower parts of their persons with two of their wings, and with the two remaining wings stood ready instantly to fly at God's command. That minister serves God best who is most in the attitude of waiting on the Lord.

In the Assyrian inscriptions the name of Rezin, king of Damascus, is found among the tributaries of Tiglath-pileser, of whose reign the annals of 17 years have been deciphered. For the historical facts in this chapter cf. 2 Kings 15:37; 2 Kings 16:9. Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel, as confederates, advanced against Jerusalem. In the first campaign (2 Chronicles 28:1-27) they "smote Ahaz with a great slaughter." Their object was probably to unite the three kingdoms against Assyria. Egypt seems to have favoured the plan, so as to interpose these confederate kingdoms, between her own frontier and Assyria (cf. Isaiah 7:18, "Egypt," and 2 Kings 17:4, Hoshea's league with Egypt). Rezin and Pekah may have perceived Ahaz' inclination toward Assyria, rather than toward their own confederacy. This and the old feud between Israel and Judah (1 Kings 12:16) occasioned their invasion of Judah. Ahaz, at the second inroad of his enemies (cf. 2 Chronicles 28:1-27, and 2 Kings 15:37, with 2 Kings 16:5), smarting under his former defeat, applied to Tiglath-pileser, in spite of Isaiah's warning in this chapter that he should rather rely on God. That king accordingly attacked Damascus and slew Rezin (2 Kings 16:9), and probably it was at the same time that he carried away part of Israel captive (2 Kings 15:29), unless there were two assaults on Pekah-that in 2 Kings 15:29, the earlier, and that in which Tiglath helped Ahaz, subsequent (G.V. Smith). Ahaz was saved at the sacrifice of Judah's independence, and the payment of a large tribute, which continued until the overthrow of Sennacherib under Hezekiah (Isaiah 37:1-38; 2 Kings 16:8; 2 Kings 16:17-18; 2 Chronicles 28:20). Ahaz' reign began about 741 BC, and Pekah was slain in 738 (Wiper).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/isaiah-6.html. 1871-8.
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