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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

Isaiah 28

Verse 1

Isa 28:1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty [is] a fading flower, which [are] on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!

Ver. 1. Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim. ] Drunkenness is a sin, at the heel whereof hangeth many a woe. Some think it is a dry drunkenness that is here threatened - that there is a dry drunkenness as well as a wet; see Isaiah 51:21 2 Timothy 2:26 , ινα ανανηψωσι , that they may awake out of their drunken sleep - a drunkenness with prosperity, which made them proud and dissolute, even the king of Israel and his counsellors also, not considering that in maxima libertate minima est licentia; " it is not for kings to drink wine." Pro 31:4

Whose glorious beauty is a fading flower. ] Or, And to the fading flower of his goodly gallantry. Some conceive that the prophet here alludeth to the etymology of the word Ephraim, whereof see Genesis 41:42 , but Ephraim was now declining and decaying.

That are overcome with wine. ] Heb., Smitten, beaten, overmastered, as Sisera was by Jael’s hammer, which hath its name from the word here used. Jdg 4:22 Tremellius rendereth it, obtusis vino, to those that are blunted with wine, or beaten about the ears with it. a

a Kραιπαλη , Crapula, παρα το παλλειν το καρα .

Verse 2

Isa 28:2 Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, [which] as a tempest of hail [and] a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.

Ver. 2. Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and a strong one, ] viz., Shalmaneser, king of Assyria. For whereas Ephraim might say, Who is there that can or dare pull off the flower of our goodly gallantry? God answereth that he hath at hand one that can do it, and do it with a turn of a hand, with little ado.

Verse 3

Isa 28:3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet:

Ver. 3. The crown a of pride … shall be trodden under foot.] This noteth utmost ignominy. Finge ideam animo, saith one here; imagine you saw Shalmaneser pulling the crown from the king of Israel’s head, throwing it to the ground, and then trampling on it. What brave rhetoric is here!

a The Romans pictured pride with a triple crown. On the first crown was written Transcendo; I excel, on the next, Non obedio; I do not submit, on the third, Perturbo I throw into confusion.

Verse 4

Isa 28:4 And the glorious beauty, which [is] on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, [and] as the hasty fruit before the summer; which [when] he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.

Ver. 4. As the hasty fruit. ] Quasi primae et praematurae ficus, early maturing fruits much coveted and caught at.

Verse 5

Isa 28:5 In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people,

Ver. 5. For a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty. ] So he was to Judah - called here the "residue of his people" - during Hezekiah’s days; a crown unfading, or a garland made of amaranth, as 1Pe 1:4 which is, saith Clement, a certain flower that being hung up in the house, yet is still fresh and green. And as God is thus to his people, so, interchangeably, are they to him "a crown of glory," Isa 62:3 and "a royal diadem," ( ib. ); his "throne of glory"; Jer 4:21 "The beauty of his ornament." Eze 7:20

Verse 6

Isa 28:6 And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.

Ver. 6. And for a spirit of judgment. ] A sagacity more than ordinary, in regard whereof Solomon calleth the king’s doom a divination, Pro 16:10 as is well observed.

And for strength to them, &c. ] In this verse we have the description of a happy state, governed justly at home, and able abroad to resist any endeavour of the enemy. a

a Diod.

Verse 7

Isa 28:7 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble [in] judgment.

Ver. 7. But they also have erred through wine. ] Judah had caught this disease of Ephraim, as the English are said to have done of the drunken Dutchmen. Sin is more contagious and catching than the plague. The Hebrew word importeth an alienation of mind. Proverbs 20:1 Hosea 11:2-3 ; Hos 11:12 Jer 23:9 Vino sapientia obscuratur, Wisdom is voided by wine, said Alphonsus, King of Arragon.

They are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink. ] Errarunt propter Shecar: they are bucked in beer; they are drowned in drink, like as George, Duke of Clarence, was drowned in a butt of malmsey a by his own election. Nam sicut athletico potore dignum erat, ut potando moreretur, elegit, saith mine author; for, being condemned to die by his brother King Edward IV, he chose that kind of death, as becoming to a stout drunkard.

They err in vision. ] The prophets do.

They stumble in judgment. ] The priests do, for they were to interpret the law, and to decide differences. Drunkenness in rulers is a capital sin, and maketh the land reel.

a A strong sweet wine, originally the product of the neighbourhood of Monemvasia (Napoli di Malvasia) in the Morea; but now obtained from Spain, the Azores, and the islands of Madeira and the Canaries, as well as from Greece.

Verse 8

Isa 28:8 For all tables are full of vomit [and] filthiness, [so that there is] no place [clean].

Ver. 8. For all places are full of vomit and filthiness. ] Vah, vah, vah: cum tu Narbone mensas hospitam convomeres, saith Cicero to Antony, who was not ashamed likewise to write, or rather to spew out a book concerning his own great strength to bear strong drink, and to lay up others who strove with him for the mastery. Cicero taxeth Julius Caesar for this foul custom; so doth Philo Caligula, and Suetonius Vitellius. a

a Veniunt ut edant, edunt ut vomant. They came to drink, the drink to vomit. - Senec.

Verse 9

Isa 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? [them that are] weaned from the milk, [and] drawn from the breasts.

Ver. 9. Whom shall he teach knowledge? ] Quem docebit scientiam? Doceo governeth two accusative cases. Ministers must have (1.) Quem, Whom to teach; and (2.) Quid, What to teach - sc., knowledge. Isaiah had no want of knowledge, as being apt and able to teach; but he wanted a fit audience, as having to do with a sort of drunken sots that were unteachable, incapable. So, Ezekiel 47:11 , when the waters of the sanctuary flowed, the miry places could not be healed. Think the same also of those that are drunk with pride as Isa 28:1 and self-conceitedness; who make divinity only a matter of discourse, or that come to sit as judges or critics on their ministers’ gifts, &c. It will be long enough ere such will be taught anything. One may as good undertake to teach a young weanling void of understanding, and in some respects better, for these to their natural corruption and impotence have added habitual hardness and obstinace, to their sinews of iron, brows of brass, Isa 48:4 and what hope can there be of working upon such?

Verse 10

Isa 28:10 For precept [must be] upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, [and] there a little:

Ver. 10. For precept must be upon precept. ] Children are of weak understanding and of short memories, and, Hebraei dicunt hisce verbis infantilitatem signifieari, they must also have short words and sentences prescribed unto them (such as are kau and flau ) and inculcated upon them, that something at least may stick. So must most of our hearers, or little good will be done. Deu 6:7 Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children. Heb., ‘Thou shalt whet, or repeat them by often going over the same thing,’ as the knife goeth over the whetstone till it be sharp. But very many of our common hearers are not only unteachable, but untameable, deriding sound doctrine, and making a mocking stock of their godliest ministers. And so some very good expositors - haec ειρωνικως et μιμητικως a propheta dici tradunt - make these words here recited to be the scoffs and taunts of those profane mockers, Isaiah 28:14 ; Isa 28:22 which they put upon the prophet; q.d., We have nothing but rule upon rule, precept upon precept, &c. Zau lazau, kau lakau; the very sound of the words carrieth a jeer, like as scornful people by the tone of their voice and rhyming words scorn at such as they despise. Thus this good prophet became the drunkard’s song. Any man may be witty in a biting way, and those that have the dullest brains have commonly the sharpest teeth to that purpose. Rightly said the comedian:

Homine imperito nunquam quicquam iniustius;

Qui, nisi quod ipse fecit, nihil rectum putat. ”

- Terent.

Verse 11

Isa 28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.

Ver. 11. For with stammering lips, &c. ] With a lisping lip. Heb., With scoffs of lip, or with language of mocks. Surely God scorneth the scorners, Pro 3:34 for he loveth to retaliate, and proportion choice to choice, Isa 66:3-4 device to device, Micah 2:1 ; Mic 2:3 frowardness to frowardness, Psa 18:26 scoffing to scoffing. Pro 1:25-26

And with another tongue. ] Lingua exotica, such as they shall be no whit the better for. See 1 Corinthians 14:21 . We read of John Elmar, Bishop of London in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, that on a time when he saw his audience grow dull in their attention to his sermon, he presently read unto them many verses of the Hebrew text, whereat they all started, admiring what use he meant to make thereof; then showed he them their folly, that whereas they neglected English, whereby they might be edified, they listened to Hebrew, whereof they understood not a word; and how justly God might bring in Popery again, - with Latin service, blind obedience, and dumb offices, - for their contempt of the gospel.

Verse 12

Isa 28:12 To whom he said, This [is] the rest [wherewith] ye may cause the weary to rest; and this [is] the refreshing: yet they would not hear.

Ver. 12. To whom he said, This is the rest, ] i.e., The ready way to "find rest to your souls" as Mat 11:28-29 - sc., by obeying my precepts, and embracing my promises.

Wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest, ] i.e., Me, who am pressed by your sins, Amo 2:13 and wearied out with your iniquities, Isa 43:24 or your poor brethren, tired with miseries, or your own souls, laden with sin guiltiness.

Verse 13

Isa 28:13 But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, [and] there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

Ver. 13. But the word of God was unto them precept upon precept, &c., ] i.e., A derision, as Isa 28:10 therefore henceforth; hearing they shall hear and not understand: Sic Sanniones Deus punit.

That they may go, and fall backward. ] Ut vadant et cadant retrorsum, tanquam turpiter ab hoste superati et resuperati, laid flat on their backs, brought to remediless ruin. This came of their obstinace; though not intentionally, yet eventually.

Verse 14

Isa 28:14 Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which [is] in Jerusalem.

Ver. 14. Wherefore hear the word of the Lord. ] Stand forth and hear your doom, ye that jeer when you should fear, as if you were out of the reach of God’s rod.

Ye scornful men. ] Heb., Ye men of mockage, ye who mock at the word of God by your words, deeds, and gestures; quales sycophantas quotidie videmus, of which sort we find not a few today. Such dust heaps as these we have in every corner - men that have turned religion not only into a form, but also into a scorn, accounting the wisdom of God foolishness. These St Peter calleth scoffers - εμπαικται , - or such as make sport with the word. 2Pe 3:3 And the prophet here - uno verbo multa peccata exprimit, dum illusores nominat - in calling them mockers, calleth them all that naught is.

That rule the people. ] Such as Shebnah now was, and afterwards Tobiah, Neh 2:19 Herod, Domitian, Julian, Sir Thomas Moore, &c.

Verse 15

Isa 28:15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:

Ver. 15. Because ye have said, ] i.e., Ye have thought and reckoned so, but without your host, as they say; Jer 6:19 Hear, O earth; behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts.

We have made a covenant with death. ] Nos ab omni male sumus secttrissimi: Thrasonicae hyperbolae - we are shot free, and shall escape scot free. Becket’s friends advised him, for his security, to have a mass in honour of St Stephen, to keep him from the hands of his enemies. He had so, but it saved him not, as not to have been dipped in Lethe Lake could save the son of Thetis from death, &c. a

And with hell are we at agreement. ] Heb., We have made provision, or taken order, egimus cantum. The prophets tell us a tale of death and hell, but we shall yet dance upon their graves; and for hell, we fear it not. The lion is not so fierce as he is painted, nor the devil so black as he is represented. Diabolo optime convenit cum lurconibus. Good fellows shall have good quarter with the devil, say our modern atheists. But what a mad fellow was that advocate in the court of Rome, mentioned by Bellarmine, who, lying at his last gasp almost, and being called upon to repent and cry to God for mercy, prayed thus: O Lord, I have much desired to speak one word unto thee before I die, not for myself, but for my wife and children, ego enim propero ad inferos, neque est ut aliquid pro me agas, for I am hasting to hell; neither is there anything to be done by thee for me. And this he spoke, saith Bellarmine, b who was by and heard it, with as much confidence as if he were but travelling to the next town.

When the overflowing scourge shall pass through. ] To sweep away such as are drowned in drunkenness, and dread no danger.

It shall not come to us. ] Whatever the prophets prate; let them say as they please, we will believe as we list.

For we have made lies our refuge. ] A poor refuge; for, tenue mendaciam pellucet, lies are so thin, they may be seen through; but it may be that they called their false refuges lies, not because they held them so, but because the prophets called them so, whereas to themselves they seemed prudent counsels.

a Spencer.

b De Arte Mor., lib. ii. cap. 10.

Verse 16

Isa 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner [stone], a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

Ver. 16. Therefore thus saith the Lord God. ] This is purposely prefaced for the support of the faithful, when they should hear the ensuing dreadful denunciations, and see them executed. We cannot beat the dogs, but the children will be ready to cry.

For a foundation a stone. ] Firm and fast, opposed here to the fickle stays and vain fastnesses of wicked worldlings. This foundation stone is Christ, Romans 9:33 ; Rom 10:13 not Hezekiah, as the Jews would have it; or Peter, as the Papists. See Peter to the contrary, 1Pe 2:6 and Paul. 1Co 3:11

He that believeth shall not make haste, ] viz., To help himself as he can, since God defers his help; as did faithless Saul, Ahaz, these Jews, Isa 28:15 those Bethulians, that set him a time, and sent for him by a post as it were. David stayed God’s leisure for the kingdom; those in Esther for deliverance; and those other in the Hebrews for the accomplishment of the promises. Heb 10:35 Hold out faith and patience. We know not what we lose by making haste, and not holding up our hand, as Moses did to the going down of the sun.

Verse 17

Isa 28:17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.

Ver. 17. Judgment also will I lay to the line. ] Or, I will set out judgment by line, and justice by plummet; that is, I will proportion your punishments to your offences, as it were by line and by level, that the wicked may have their due, and the godly sustain no damage. See 2Ki 21:12-13 Amos 7:8 . Calvin saith that by this expression, borrowed from builders, the Lord here showeth that when the corner stone before spoken of shall be laid, the Church of the faithful built thereupon shall rise up to a fair and uniform built temple in the Lord, according to Ephesians 2:20 .

And the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies. ] Or, Shovel away, or, quasi furcillis extrudet, shall fork away, or burn up your vain confidences, as he destroyed the Egyptians by hail mingled with fire.

And the waters. ] See Isa 28:15 Matthew 7:27 .

Verse 18

Isa 28:18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.

Ver. 18. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled. ] See Isaiah 28:15 . God shall shoot at such with an arrow suddenly; Psa 64:7 and when they shall say, Peace and safety, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. 1Th 5:3 They made a covenant with death and hell, but death and hell make no covenant with them. Thus it befell the rich fool; Luk 12:20 Alexander the Great, whom his parasites flattered into a fond conceit of an immortality; and Pope Sylvester the second, who dealt with the devil for the popedom, and was persuaded by him that he should never die till he sang mass in Jerusalem; but when he saw how he was cheated, and that he must die, he cried out,

Ah miser! aeternos vado damnatus ad ignes.

Verse 19

Isa 28:19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only [to] understand the report.

Ver. 19. From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you. ] This was opposed to their fond conceit of impunity, or at least immunity, for a long season; Isa 28:15 the most secure are soonest surprised.

And it shall be a vexation, &c. ] Vexatio dabit intellectum, Luther, after the Vulgate, rendereth it, sententiam prophetae non male exprimens. See Isaiah 26:9 . The cross is the best tutor.

Verse 20

Isa 28:20 For the bed is shorter than that [a man] can stretch himself [on it]: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself [in it].

Ver. 20. For the bed is short. ] Here the prophet seemeth to some to threaten them for their lectulorum luxus Amo 6:4 their beds of ivory, whereon, when well whittled, they once stretched themselves at full length, and slept out their drunkenness; but when brought to Babylon, the case should be otherwise with them. Diodate saith that these are figurative and proverbial terms, importing that all means and devices they can use will no way defend them. God’s wrath is such as none can avert or avoid.

Verse 21

Isa 28:21 For the LORD shall rise up as [in] mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as [in] the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.

Ver. 21. As in Mount Perazim. ] See 2 Samuel 5:20 . God usually sitteth amidst his people in his mercy seat, or throne of grace; neither ariseth he to punish them till much provoked, and then he may possibly deal as severely with them as he did with the Philistines at Mount Perazim, or with the Amorites in the valley of Gibeon. Jos 10:10 But then he doth "his work, his strange work, and brings to pass his act, his strange act" - i.e., That which is neither his wont nor his delight. Lam 3:33 Mic 7:18 Eze 33:11 To fall foul upon his people by his plagues and judgments, goeth as much against the heart with him as against the hair with them. And besides, by doing this his "strange work," he maketh way for the doing of his own proper work. 1Co 11:32

Verse 22

Isa 28:22 Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.

Ver. 22. Now therefore be ye not mockers. ] For those are the worst of men; Isa 28:14 pests, the Septuagint commonly render them; abjects and castaways David calleth them, and yet they proudly disdain others, and far their betters, as thimbles full of dust, and the goodly braveries of their scorn. But shall they escape by this iniquity? - shall they carry it away so? In no wise. For

Their bands shall be made strong. ] a "Their sorrows shall he multiplied," and they shall have more load of miseries and mischiefs laid upon them, though now they mock at God’s menaces as uttered in terrorem, only for fray-bugs, b and at his ministers as false prophets. Among many other memorable examples of God’s judgments upon such out of God’s blessed book, the Acts and Monuments of the Church, and other histories, Nicholas Hemingius relateth a story of a lewd fellow in Denmark, A.D. 1550, which usually made a mock at religion and the professors of it. And on a time coming into a church where a godly minister was preaching, by his countenance and gestures showed a great contempt against the Word; but as he passed out of the church, a tile fell upon his head and slew him in the place. How much more mercifully dealt almighty God with that miller in Leicestershire, who, sitting in an alehouse on a Sabbath day with one of his companions, said to him, I hear that bawling Hooker is come to town, let us go and hear him, we shall have excellent sport; and accordingly they went on purpose to jeer him. But it pleased God the sermon so wrought upon him, that, being pricked at the heart, he went to Mr Hooker, entreating him to tell him what he might do to be saved, and afterwards went with him to New England. c By sins men’s bands are made strong, as by repentance they are loosened. Videte ergo ut resipiscatis mature. d

a Ne vincula vestra invalescant.

b An object of fear; a bogy, spectre

c Mr Clark from Mr White.

d Jun.

Verse 23

Isa 28:23 Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech.

Ver. 23. Give ear, and hear my voice; hearken, &c. ] Being to assure the faithful of God’s fatherly care of their safety and indemnity amidst all those distractions and disturbances of the times; he calleth for their utmost attention, as knowing how slow of heart and dull of hearing the best are; how backward to believe, Luk 24:25 and apt to "forget the consolation," παρακλησις . Heb 12:5 See Trapp on " Mat 13:3 "

Verse 24

Isa 28:24 Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground?

Ver. 24. Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? ] a Or, Every day. Doth he not find him somewhat else to do besides? Sua sunt rebus omnibus agendis tempora, novandi, arandi, occandi, aequandi, serendi, metendi, colligandi et excernendi grani, et suae rationes singulis. And shall not the only wise God afflict his people with moderation and discretion? Yea, verily; for he is "a God of judgment, and waiteth to be gracious." Isa 30:18 We are no longer ploughed than needs; and whereas we may think our hearts soft enough, it may be so for some grace; but God hath seeds of all sorts to cast in, the wheat and the rye, &c., and that ground which is soft enough for one, is not for another. God, saith Chrysostom doth like a lutanist, who will not let the strings be too slack, lest they mar the music; nor suffer them to be too hard stretched or screwed up, lest they break.

a Preponit parabolam rusticam, sed magna sapientia refertam.

Verse 25

Isa 28:25 When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place?

Ver. 25. When he hath made plain. ] Laid it level and equal.

Doth he not cast in the fitches? ] See on Isaiah 28:24 .

The appointed barley. ] Hordeum signatum. Whatsoever is sealed with a seal is excellent in its own kind; so are all God’s sealed ones. Eph 4:30

Verse 26

Isa 28:26 For his God doth instruct him to discretion, [and] doth teach him.

Ver. 26. For his God doth instruct him to discretion. ] Being a better tutor to him than any Varro de agricultura, Cato de re rustica, Hesiod, in his Works and Days; Virgil’s Georgics; or, Geonomica Constantino inscripta. Some read the verse thus: "And he beateth it out according to that course that his God teacheth him"; that is, according to the judgment of right reason. God is to be praised for the art of agriculture. How thankful were the poor heathens to their Saturn, Triptolemus, Ceres, &c.

Verse 27

Isa 28:27 For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod.

Ver. 27. For the fitches are not threshed out, &c. ] So are God’s visitations diversely dispensed. He proportioneth the burden to the back, and the stroke to the strength of him that beareth it, sparing his afflicted as a man spareth his son that serveth him. Thus "Epaphroditus was sick nigh unto death," but not unto death; and why? See Philippians 2:27 . Some of the sweet smelling Smyrnians were in prison "ten days," and no more. Rev 2:10

Verse 28

Isa 28:28 Bread [corn] is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break [it with] the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it [with] his horsemen.

Ver. 28. Bread corn is bruised. ] Yet not mauled or marred. That of Ignatius is well known, Commolor dentibus ferarum ut purius Domino panis fiam.

Because he will not ever be threshing it. ] As he is not ever sowing mercies, so he will not always be inflicting miseries.

Nor bruise it with his horsemen. ] Or, With his horses’ hoofs.

Verse 29

Isa 28:29 This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, [which] is wonderful in counsel, [and] excellent in working.

Ver. 29. This also cometh forth from the Lord. ] As doth likewise πανα δοσις αγαθη, και παν δωρημα τελειον . Jam 1:17

Which is wonderful. ] Qui mirificuts est consilio, et magnificus opere.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 28". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.