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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 65

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary



The foregoing prayer is to be answered not in terms of the petition, but by the destruction of the fleshly Israel, and the reinforcing of the remnant that is to be left by the larger hosts of the spiritual Israel, comprised of other believing Jews, and great numbers of converted Gentiles.

Verses 1-2

1, 2. Sought of them that asked not The first verse refers to the Gentiles; the second to the Jews. So St. Paul in Romans 10:20-21. The rendering of Delitzsch is: “I was discernible to those who did not inquire.” They had the ability to apprehend God from natural reason, and from pervasive influence of the ever-revealing Logos.

Found of them that sought me not “The grace of God, that bringeth salvation,” Which “hath appeared to all men,” (Titus 2:10,) was a gift to heathen consciences, and when Messianic light first dawned on the world very many heathen welcomed it. But the Jew, with light, promise, and entreaty, during all his history, was still wont to walk in his own light, and withhold himself from God. He was of a rebellious nature, as a whole, to the last.

Verses 1-25

THE LAST CONTROVERSY WITH ISRAEL, Isaiah 63:7 to Isaiah 65:25.

Israel’s former Mercies and Sins.

There are various schemes of division of the matter now following. The one here adopted as best, is that of two well-defined sections, namely, The Last Controversy of Israel, with subdivisions as the topics vary, (Isaiah 63:7 to Isaiah 65:25,) and The Full Redemption of Zion, comprising chapter 66.

Verses 3-5

3-5. Sacrificeth in gardens Entering on heathen worship in the face of Jehovah’s temple, within the precincts of Jerusalem perhaps within the courts of great houses wherein were gardens. In this, daring impiety is charged. Or, upon altars of brick, extemporized on the tiled roofs of houses, whereon incense to idols was burned. Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29.

Among the graves Now little known or understood as an ancient practice, but perhaps for purposes of necromancy, by persons believing that thoughts from the dead could thus be obtained. In monuments In crypts or sepulchres, wherein they lodged for the night, with like ends in view.

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Swine’s flesh Used in idol worship, but abominable to the Hebrews. It is difficult to explain, from present knowledge, some of these allusions. Some think certain mysteries were involved in them, in which devotees assumed a sanctity, and said to others, Stand by… for I am holier than thou. It is precarious to apply these things to Pharisees in Christ’s time, though the phrase may have then become a proverb, and applicable to the Pharisees.

Verses 6-7

6, 7. Behold Something very important.

It is written Or, recorded. Probably for retribution soon to occur. For character as above portrayed shall be visited with deserved decree, or doom. It is poured into their bosom. “Their bosom” may refer to an oriental way of drawing up the loose garment, so as to make a capacious sack around the chest. See Ruth 3:15.

Verse 8

8. Not all are to be so served. For, as an occasional cluster is ripe, and new wine (ever regarded as a blessing) is in it all the vintage season, so, in this mass of corrupted Israel is a small undefiled group, worthy to be culled out and saved. In a general way, Christ’s time and ministry are here very aptly illustrated; but that the prophet distinctly and exclusively meant this, may be venturesome to assert, unless it be viewed as perspective prophecy.

Verses 9-10

9, 10. Seed out of Jacob… Judah “Out of Jacob and… Judah” (which means the faithful few taken from the whole body of Israelites) the small worthy number (Isaiah 65:7-8) shall prove to be the “handful of corn upon the top of the mountains,” the fruit whereof “shall shake like Lebanon, and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth,” (Psalms 72:16-17,) enduring in glorious fertility as long as the sun and moon endure. And the whole land shall be in peace, from Sharon in the west, to the valley of Achor, near Jericho. Joshua 7:24.

Verses 11-12

11, 12. Ye are they that forsake the Lord Freely paraphrased, the passage is thus: “But as for you, ye forsakers of God, ye men who forget my holy mountain, (Isaiah 2:1-5,) ye who set (or lay out) viands upon tables for a troop, ( Gad, supposed by Gesenius, Delitzsch, and many others to signify fortune of varying degrees, the difference occurring like that of the metric system, for example, according to popular estimate among nations,) and ye men who pour libations to Meni, (or, destiny, the goddess who numbers the fates of men; so deemed by the authorities named above;) so will I number you as destined to the sword, and ye all shall to slaughter bow, because ye paid me no heed when I called you (away from sun and planet worship, in the interest of this superstition about fortune,) and ye heard me not when I spake to you,” (by way of rebuke for the same.) Further space cannot here be given to Gad, rendered troop, and to Meni, rendered number; but a common opinion obtains among investigators, with only slightly varying shades, that they refer to the superstition bearing meanings as above stated, chiefly involving sun and star or planet worship, which is supposed to have been of wide extent at least as far as from Assyria and Babylon to Egypt. But allusions to it in the Bible are few indeed, and very obscure. See Genesis 30:1; Job 31:26.

Verses 13-14

13, 14. The turn given to idolatrous feastings (Isaiah 65:11-12) suggested a course of figures illustrative of the different “fortunes” of the godly and ungodly: their meaning is, “My people shall be satisfied with the rich abundance I shall give, while ye with momentary idolatrous pleasures shall pass into destitution and abandonment. My people, from first to last, shall possess unfailing springs of joy; but ye shall be irredeemably bowed with heart sorrow, despite your cries or howlings for relief, for ever to be unavailing.” This proved true to the bold, bad Jews, down to their final experiences and ineffective struggles with the Romans.

Verses 15-16

15, 16. Ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen “Name for a curse,” is that by which an imprecation is called on one’s own head if he do not what he pledges to do, or if he do what he pledges himself not to do. Canaan is such a curse; “let what Canaan imports befall me, if,” etc.

He who blesseth That is, one who invokes blessings on himself does so in the name, or in the personal attributes, of the true God. He neither needs nor desires any blessing except as the God of truth is willing to bestow it. Calling for a blessing in the name of an idol is invoking a curse. So then, every oath made, or any good asked for, is valid, is acceptable, only as it is made or asked in the name of the God of truth. Swearing and blessing, in this sense, are therefore acts of worship of the God of truth. They are acts of self-consecration and prayer to him. When these become universal with Jew and Gentile, then, and by very reason of their being so, the former troubles are forgotten. There is no more retribution for sin. All have become the spiritual Israel the faithful followers of the true God.

Verses 17-19

17-19. Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth Viewing such a glorious restoration as a new creation, Jehovah is represented as saying: I work a wondrous change; it is a new state of Messianic glory. “The prophet had previously declared that mighty changes on the one hand would take place in consequence of severe judgments, and of glorious saving grace on the other.” “The prophet manifestly distinguishes stadia in the accomplishment of salvation, though he says nothing of their relative times. Objects which are represented in one perspective on different planes, so that those in the background can be seen through the intervening spaces of those in the foreground, appear to be on one plane to him who regards them at a distance. We can here, also, distinguish three really distinct stadia, although the prophet in no way indicates a difference of time. The first stadium he describes, Isaiah 65:9-10. He then speaks of again taking possession of the holy land. This was first accomplished by the return from exile. He brings us, in Isaiah 65:13-16, to another stadium. In it he sees the wicked and the godly together; but he perceives the godless Israel judged, and cursed, and the elect that are saved from the judgment called by another name. We enter on the third stadium, Isaiah 65:17. In it every thing becomes new. A new higher life pervades the whole of nature. To this highest stadium the preceding are related as organic preparation.” Nagelsbach. The old mixed state of affairs shall be forgotten through the abounding joy of the new.

Be ye glad and rejoice (Isaiah 51:11; Isaiah 51:16,) because it is not, “I will create,” but, “I am creating.” Not a happiness for a day or a year, but for ever.

Jerusalem Renewed Jerusalem the ever appropriate symbol-seat of prosperity and joy; the Church of the living God, under the rule of love and peace in the Holy Ghost.

The same thought continues in Isaiah 65:19. Jehovah shall rejoice in his people, and his people in him. No more occasion for sorrow and weeping to his people; nor for him aught on their account to grieve over.

Verse 20

20. No more… an infant of days There is considerable variety of not very clever comment on this passage. Nor is it easy to be made clear. Evidently the thread of illustration is not broken from Isaiah 65:17, wherein Jehovah, under poetic imagery, is creating a new heaven and a new earth perhaps even from Isaiah 65:13, in which contrast is drawn between the status of the righteous and that of the unrighteous. In Isaiah 65:20 the characteristic blessedness of the new order of things in the great future is that of longevity: “No more thence (from holy Jerusalem) shall be (rather, shall go, perhaps to burial) an infant of days.” To agree with second clause of this verse this must mean: No one shall die in infancy. The old man and the one now an infant shall alike enjoy the full covenant blessing made to Abraham when he was a hundred years old. (And even if early death perchance occur, it shall be no bar to the promise of the inheritance. Genesis 17:17.) In the second clause comes the contrast, like that of Isaiah 65:13-16.

For the child shall die a hundred years old This seems to have a meaning touching child-likeness in simplicity, truthfulness, sincerity, and standing in a right relationship with God for a hundred years, or for an indefinite length of life. But every sinner, though “a hundred years old,” shall die accursed. His long life has nothing in it to redeem his character from disgrace.

Verses 21-22

21, 22. Not build, and another inhabit As against Deuteronomy 28:15-68, and Leviticus 26:14-46, (which see,) here is a promise of permanent blessedness in the new order of things. Like Lebanon’s cedars, symbols of everlastingness, so shall the lives of the righteous go on to indefinite years. The final grand Messianic period shall yield unceasing enjoyment.

Verse 23

23. They shall not labour in vain Another figure denoting permanent enjoyment. No certain wearying for an uncertain good. They shall be blessed of the Lord with prosperity temporal and spiritual, and their offspring with them.

Verse 24

24. Before they call, I will answer With unclouded consciousness of union with God, they shall realize certain possession of blessings, without need or occasion of calling for them. Such is the character of the faith of Christian adoption a state covering the whole scope of ever-advancing religious life.

Verse 25

25. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together Here is an allusion to Isaiah 11:6-7; Isaiah 11:9, there connected with the vision of Immanuel, here connected with Isaiah’s closing prophetic message. Here the figures are abridged in number, but they bear a similar, indeed identical, meaning in both, as to the moral state of the world intended in the description in both places. Herein are links binding together the two great sections of a one great prophetic system by one and the same great prophet.

And dust shall be the serpent’s meat This is a unique addition to the passage in chap.

11, It alludes to the two main features of the earliest promise the gift of the Seed of the woman and the sentence upon the old serpent. Genesis 3:14-15. The allegory has this meaning: While all untamed natures among human souls blend together in harmony and peace under Messiah’s rule, the primeval curse shall rest with ever-increasing weight upon Satan figured as a serpent and he become at length completely vanquished, wriggling powerless and harmless, biting only the dust on which he helplessly affects to crawl.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 65". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/isaiah-65.html. 1874-1909.
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