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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 5

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 5:1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

Ver. 1. Now will I sing.] Now, or, Now I pray, as stirring up his hearers to attention; for here beginneth his third sermon. He had endeavoured, but with little good effect, to convince them of their detestable unthankfulness, apostasy, and other enormities, in prose. Now he resolves to try another course, and to be unto them as a poet rather than a prophet, if haply they might be taken by the sweetness of his verse, and loveliness of his voice. [Ezekiel 33:32]

Metra parant animos, comprendunt plurima paucis:

Aures delectant, pristina commemorant. ”

True it is that poets, for the most part, are dulcissime vani, most sweetly vain, as Augustine said of Homer. And some have noted well concerning St Paul, that citing his countryman, Aratus (for he was a Cilician), he nameth him not, but only saith, "Certain of your own poets," [Acts 17:28] notwithstanding the piety of his beginning, ‘ Eκ Dιος αρχωμεθα, or the divineness of his subject, the heavens - more sublime and pure matter than useth to be in the wanton pages of other poets. But our divine poet is of another alloy, and his holy song is of the same strain with that of Moses, of Deborah and Barak, of Hannah, of David, - qui noster Orpheus est, saith Euthymius, the "sweet singer of Israel," [2 Samuel 23:1] - of Solomon with his Song of Songs; saving that this is lugubre carmen, saith Oecolampadius, et tragediae quam comediae similius, a lamentable ditty, and more like a tragedy than a comedy; for, though the prophet beginneth merrily, yet he endeth heavily; it is of "mercy and judgment" that he singeth.

To my well beloved,] i.e., To Christ, the Church’s bridegroom, cuius amicus et administer sum, whose paranymph {advocate} I am and well wisher; [John 3:29 2 Corinthians 11:2-3] some render it for my beloved, or in his defence.

A song.] Or, Poem, whereto this first verse is the proem or preface. A spiritual song it is, most artificially composed, and set out with the most exquisite skill that might be.

Of my beloved.] Of him whom my soul loveth; {as Song of Solomon 1:7} Jonathan loved David (1.) With a love of union; [1 Samuel 18:1] (2.) With a love of complacence; [Isaiah 5:19] (3.) With a love of benevolence. [Isaiah 20:4] So doth a gracious heart love Jesus Christ. My Love was crucified, said Ignatius, (a) whose heart was even a lump of love.

Touching his vineyard.] That degenerate plant of a strange vine unto him, [Jeremiah 2:21] the plantation and supplantation whereof is here, first, Parabolically propounded; secondly, More plainly expounded. Some read it, "to his vineyard"; others, "for his vineyard." See Matthew 21:33-34, Mark 12:1-2, Luke 20:9; Luke 20:16.

My beloved.] See how oft he harps upon this sweet string, and cannot come off. What a man loveth he will be talking of, as the huntsman of his hounds, the drunkard of his cups, the worldling of his wealth, &c. Ten times in eight verses together doth St Paul mention the name of Jesus, [1 Corinthians 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:7-10] showing thereby that it was to him mel in ore, melos in aure, iubilum in corde, the sweetest music.

Hath a vineyard.] So the Church is here [Isaiah 5:7] and elsewhere frequently and fitly styled: Confert autem vineae, saith Oecolampadius. To a vineyard is the Church compared for sundry reasons; as the great care men take about it, (b) the great delight they take in it, the sweet fruits they expect from it, the great worth of its fruit, the little worth of its stem [Ezekiel 15:3] if it prove fruitless, the lowly and feeble condition thereof, the continual need it hath to be dressed, supported, sheltered, pruned. αιρει, καθαιρει, [John 15:2] amputat, putat.

In a very fruitful hill.] Heb., In a horn the son of oil, that is, a horny hill, bowing like a halfmoon, and so exposed to the sunbeams all the day long. (c) Some say that Judea lieth in the form of a horn, like as the low countries do in the form of a lion, unde Leo Belgicus. The "son of oil," or "fatness," that is, exceeding fat; Judea is called Sumen totius orbis, the friutful mother of all the earth, a land "flowing with milk and honey," [Ezekiel 20:6] a very cornucopia of all comforts. Basil telleth us that it was a tradition of great antiquity, that Adam, when he was thrust out of paradise, ut dolorem leniret, for a mitigation of his grief, chose Judea, that most fruitful country, for a place to dwell in; whence it is that Sodom and her sisters, which were a part of that country, are said to be "pleasant as the garden of God." [Genesis 13:10]


Verse 2

Isaiah 5:2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

Ver. 2. And he fenced (a) it.] Maceria munivit; he hedged it in, or walled it about, protecting his people from the rage of enemies wherewith that country was begirt. God was "a wall of fire to them," [Zechariah 2:5] and a wall of water to them, {as Exodus 14:22} whence their land, though part of the continent, is called "an island," [Isaiah 26:6] not only because separated from other countries, but because secured and made media insuperabilis unda.

And gathered out the stones thereof.] He not only cast out the Canaanites, but flatly forbade idolatry, and all other wickednesses, παντα τα σκανδαλα, every scandal or rock of offence that might hinder their growth, or turn them out of the way. [Hebrews 12:13]

And planted it with the choicest vine.] Heb., Sorek; the vines of which place [ 16:4] may seem to be the best and choicest, like as now in Germany are the vines of Herbipolis. See Jeremiah 2:21. The saints of God are noble plants, and of choice spirits; they are the chiefest personages, and of highest account in heaven.

And built a tower in the midst of it.] For both beauty, defence, and convenience. This may be meant of Jerusalem, or the temple therein, that "tower of the flock," and the "stronghold of the daughter of God’s people." [Micah 4:8] Religion set up in the power and purity of it, is the beauty and bulwark of any place.

And also made a winepress therein.] For the pressing of the grapes, and saving of the vine; but, alas! that labour might have been saved for any grapes he got, or wine he made.

Fallitur augurio spes bona saepe suo.

Little good is done many times by the most pressing and piercing exhortations and argumeuts used by God’s faithful prophets.

And he looked that it should bring forth grapes,] i.e., Good grapes, as little thinking ut opera perdatur et spes eludatur, to have lost all his care and cost, as he did. For who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock and eateth not of the milk of the flock? [1 Corinthians 9:7]

And it brought forth wild grapes.] Stinking stuff, as the word signifieth, that which was naught and noisome: grapes of Sodom and clusters of Gomorrah. [Deuteronomy 32:32-33] He looked for the "fruit of the Spirit"; but behold the "works of the flesh" [Galatians 5:19] No whit answerable to his continual care, culture, and custody, they made him, as one saith, a contumacious and contumelious retribution. Thus the wicked answer Heaven’s kindness with an ungrateful wickedness.


Verse 3

Isaiah 5:3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.

Ver. 3. And now, O ye inhabitants of Jerusalem.] Here we have God’s plea before his sentence, and therein his appeal to them, and his indictment against them. First he appealeth to the Jews themselves, and maketh them judges in their own cause. So Nathan dealt by David, and Jesus by the wicked Jews of his time. [Matthew 21:40] Iudicate, quaeso, only "judge a righteous judgment," [John 7:24] and then I dare report me to the conscience of any one among you, and will therehence fetch witness.

Between me and my vineyard.] With which I am now at variance. Sin is that hell-hag, {a diabolical or vile woman} makebait, {breeder of strive} trouble town, that sets odds between God and his greatest favourites.


Verse 4

Isaiah 5:4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

Ver. 4. What could have been done to my vineyard?] See the like angry expostulations, Jeremiah 2:5, Micah 6:3; when God hath done all that can be done to do wretched men good, they oft do their utmost to defeat him, and undo themselves. Quid debui facere Domino meo quod fecerim? said Augustine of himself, by way of penitent confession: quis ego, qualis ego? quid non mali ego? The cypress tree, the more it is watered, the less fruitful; so it is with many people. But God can no way be charged with their barrenness.

At Paris ut vivat regnetque beatus,

Cogo posse negat. ” - Horat.


Verse 5

Isaiah 5:5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; [and] break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:

Ver. 5. And now go to, I will tell you, &c.] God loveth to foresignify, to warn ere he woundeth, and to foretell a judgment ere he inflicteth it. This he doth that he may be prevented. [Amos 4:12] Prolata est sententia ut non fiat. Well might the Lord say, "Fury is not in me." [Isaiah 27:3]

I will take away the hedge thereof.] Hedge and wall shall be taken away at once from an ungrateful people, and all laid open to the wrath of God and rage of enemies; it shall be next indeed. [Psalms 80:12-13] And what may be reasonably pleaded against God at such a time, when he may say to men, as Reuben did to his brethren, "Did not I warn you, saying, Sin not?"

It shall be eaten up, it shall be trodden down.] All shall run to ruin, as it did at Jerusalem by the Babylonians, but especially by the Romans; and as it did in Christendom about six hundred years after Christ’s incarnation, when religion was become a matter of form, yea, of scorn; then the Saracens in the east, and the barbarous nations in the west, broke in and bore down all before them.


Verse 6

Isaiah 5:6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

Ver. 6. And I will lay it waste.] Heb., Wasteness; I will utterly root it up and ruin it. Lege et lute; by law and dirt, wrath is come upon Jewry to the utmost. Lukewarm Laodicea was swallowed up by an earthquake, as Eutropius testifieth. The rest of these seven famous churches are overrun by the Turk. And our utter ruin, unless we repent, may be as plainly foreseen as if letters had been sent us from heaven to such a purpose.

It shall not be pruned nor digged,] sc., By such painful vinedressers as were wont both to dig and beg for it, as he in Luke 13:8. Such labour shall now be no longer lost, such cost cast away no more. Cutting shall be used where there is no longer hope of curing.

But there shall come up briers and thorns.] Being bereft of the means of grace, they shall run into foul and flagitious practices, which shall ripen them for ruin. See Hebrews 6:8.

I will also command the clouds.] The prophets and ministers.

That they rain no rain upon it.] No, not a small shower or mist. Non pluma dignabitur nedum imbre, saith Oecolampadius.


Verse 7

Isaiah 5:7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts [is] the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

Ver. 7. For the vineyard, &c.] Exponit breviter mentem huius cantici. Here we have the parable expounded and applied: the Scripture is its own best interpreter; sometimes, as here and John 7:39, the sense is annexed. The Rabbis have a saying, Nulla est obiectio in lege quae non habet solutionem in latere. Nothing is exposed in law which does not have a solution in parts.

His pleasant plant.] Delectabilis in patriarchis, infructifera in palmitibus. Heb., "His plant of delights," but now turned into the degenerate plant of a "strange vine" unto him. [Jeremiah 2:21] Good progenitors may have a bad offspring: the reason whereof is given by Augustine, (a) Homo liberos gignit ex carne vetusta et peccatrice, non ex spivitu, &c. Man begetteth children of the old and sinful flesh, and not of the Spirit.

And he looked for judgment, but behold oppression.] Or, Conspiracy; or, as some render it, a scab, a cleaving scab, such as a man cannot easily be rid or recovered from. And here in the original is excellent rhetoric past interpretation. It is as if we should say, a preacher, a prevaricator rather; a dispensation, a dissipation: the sound is almost the same the sense much different. There is a lawful use of rhetoric in divine discourses. Augustine confesseth that while he heard Ambrose for his eloquence only, together with his words which he loved, the matter which he at first cared not for, came into his mind: and while, saith he, I opened my heart to listen how trimly he spoke, I came to consider also how truly he spoke; gradatim quidem, even by decrees.

For righteousness, but behold a cry.] The clamour of the oppressed entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabbaoth, who heareth their groans, and beholdeth their grievances. [Job 34:28 Psalms 12:5 James 5:4]

Clamitat in coelum vex sanguinis et Sodomorum,

Vex oppressorum, mercesque retenta laborum. ”

The twofold Ecce, "Behold oppression," "Behold a cry," showeth it to be an evil action with an accent, a wickedness with a witness. Aliam Hebroeorum labrusiam notat.


Verse 8

Isaiah 5:8 Woe unto them that join house to house, [that] lay field to field, till [there be] no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!

Ver. 8. Woe unto them that join house to house.] The prophet goeth on in the exposition of his parable, showing us some more of those wild or stinking grapes, with the sad effects thereof, to the end of the chapter. He beginneth with covetousness - that "root of all evil," as Paul calleth it, [1 Timothy 6:10] that metropolis of all wickedness, as Bion - and throweth a woe at it, as do also sundry other prophets. Covetous persons are of the dragon’s temper, who, they say, is so thirsty, that no water can quench his thirst. Covetousness is a dry drunkenness, saith one, an insatiable dropsy, and like hell itself, [Isaiah 5:14] insatiabiliter cava guttura pandit; its never enough will be once alive with fire enough in the bottom of hell. Here they are brought in "joining house to house," as Shallum did at Jerusalem, [Jeremiah 22:13-14] as Nero did at Rome for the enlarging of his palace to a vast extent: whence that of the poet -

Roma domus fiet, Veios migrate Quirites,

Si non et Veios oecupet ista domus. ” - Martial.

That lay field to field.] Encroaching upon others, and engrossing all to yourselves; as William the Conqueror did at New Forest, wherein forty-six parish churches were demolished, with the removing of all the inhabitants, to make room for beasts or dog’s-game. But in true account -

Parva seges satis est: laudato ingentia rura,

Exiguum colito. ”

The holy patriarchs were content to dwell in tents. Abraham’s only purchase was a burying place. David in that Litany of his, as one calleth it, blesseth himself from those "men of God’s hand who have their portion here." {Psalms 17:14} Christ biddeth us lay up treasures, and build tabernacles for ourselves in heaven; and having food and raiment, saith the apostle, let us therewith be content. [1 Timothy 6:8]

Discite quam parvo liceat producere vitam:

Et quantum natura petat. ”

- Lucan. Phar., lib. iv.

If a man will study rather to satisfy his hunger than his humour, a little will serve. But it is as easy to quench the fire of Etna as the thoughts set on fire by covetousness. Unus Pelaeo iuveni non sufficit orbis. (a)

Till there be no place,] sc., Left unseized upon by you: Usque ad desitionem loci, no place or room for any other.

That they may be placed alone.] Man is a sociable creature, and not born for himself. Aristotle calleth him nature’s good fellow; but the covetous wretch hath put off all humanity, and would have all to himself, be placed alone; and herein, as Ambrose rightly observeth, he is worse than the unreasonable creatures. Avis avibus se associat, saith he, pecus pecori adiungitur, piscis piscibus, Birds, beasts, and fishes sort and shoal together, and account it no loss, but a comfort, to be in company of their own kind. Solus tu homo, consortem excludis, includis feras: struis habitacula bestiarum, destruis hominum ;(b) Only thou, O sorry man, shuttest out men like thyself, enclosest for cattle, pullest down houses, settest up folds and sheep cotes, &c. And yet thou canst not live without poor labourers; only thou hatest to have them live by thee.


Verse 9

Isaiah 5:9 In mine ears [said] the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, [even] great and fair, without inhabitant.

Ver. 9. In mine ears, said the Lord of hosts.] Or, In the ears of the Lord of hosts - q.d., God well heareth and knoweth all your cunning contrivances, your coloured and cloaked covetousness, as it is called [1 Thessalonians 2:5 2 Peter 1:3] The cries also of those poor whom you have by fraud or force unroosted and undone, is come into God’s ears, [Deuteronomy 15:9; Deuteronomy 24:15] and he will reckon with you, though by your greatness you can bear out your wrong dealing, because it is facinus maioris abollae. Yet God will arraign you one day for an Abaddon; and in the meanwhile,

Of a truth many houses shall be desolate.] You shall be driven out of your great and fair houses, aut a milite, aut a morte, either by the enemy or by death, who shall come upon you with a firmae eiectione, forceful ejection and then the place of your habitation shall know you no more; a poor fool God will make of you. [Jeremiah 17:11 Luke 12:20] If many houses be not desolate, never trust him more - if they be not left for caddows and jackdaws (a) to dwell in.


Verse 10

Isaiah 5:10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.

Ver. 10. Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath,] viz., Of wine; a poor proportion - not a gallon of wine for an acre of ground planted with vines.

And the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.] And no more. The earth shall yield but the tenth part of what was sown; so little joy shall you have either of your enlarged houses, or fields laid to fields by evil arts. Et signanter decem ponit iugera, saith Oecolampadius here; neither is it for nothing that the prophet saith ten acres of vineyard, &c., and that they shall have but the tithe of their seed again, to teach them how angry God is with such as through covetousness refuse to pay their tithes duly and truly, &c.


Verse 11

Isaiah 5:11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, [that] they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, [till] wine inflame them!

Ver. 11. Woe unto them that rise up early.] Heb., The early risers, but for an ill purpose. O intolerandum flagitium, saith one, (a) homines inertiae, somnique plenissimos, &c.; O intolerable wickedness, that men so lazy, and more sleepy than dormice, should be up and at it so very early - they rise early to corrupt their actions, saith another prophet [Zephaniah 3:7] - and should have their brains crowing before day. Neither are they so soon up alone, but they call up others (as the Hebrew word here signifieth) to serve them, and sit with them on their ale bench; for they are good fellows, they say, and must have company.

That they may follow strong drink.] (b) Pursue it eagerly, as the worldling doth his gain, the hunter his game. Their motto is, Take away our liquor, ye take away our life. By strong drink, here understand any inebriating liquor, whereof, besides wine, the Italians have twenty distinct kinds, to please the gusto. Pliny (c) cries out, Hei mira vitiorum solertia inventum est quemadmodum aqua quoque inebriaret! Portentosum sane potionis genus, &c.

That continue unto night.] All the life long days these ale stakes stick to it, quaffing and carousing. Diem noctemque continuare potando nulli probrum, saith Tacitus of the old Germans. To drink whole days together is among them no disgrace, neither is it among many of their posterity to this day. About the midst of Queen Elizabeth’s reign that cursed sin was first brought over into England, say some, out of the Low Countries; before which time there was neither general practice nor legal punishment of that vice in this kingdom. (d)

Till wine inflame them.] By which expression, Omnem ebriorum insanium intelligit, saith Oecolampadius, he meaneth all the drunkard’s mad pranks, when heated with wine, and yet more with lusts and passions; see Proverbs 23:29-34. Tyrone the rebel, 1567, was such a drunkard, that to cool his body when it was immoderately inflamed with wine and whisky, he would many times be buried in the earth up to the chin. (e)


Verse 12

Isaiah 5:12 And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.

Ver. 12. And the harp and the viol.] To make themselves the more mad upon pleasure, they had their music of all sorts, that thereby they might banish all seriousness, and be lulled faster asleep in carnal security. Fescenninis cantibus omnia personabant, a practice still in use among drunkards, to drown the noise of their consciences; like as the old Italians, to drown the noise of the heavens when it thundered, were wont to ring their greatest bells, beat up their drums and tabors, &c; so Amos 6:4; Amos 6:6.

Are in their feasts.] Or, Are their feasts or drinkings.

But they regard not the work of the Lord.] That is, the first making, whether of themselves, to glorify God in some honest employment, and not to make drunkenness their occupation; or of other creatures, wherein they might find much of God, (a) as Pliny did in the music of the gnat, and the curious paint of the butterfly; as Galen did in the double motion of the lungs, called systole and diastole; but especially as David did in the contemplation of the universe, [Psalms 8:3] and as Mr John Dod did in the flower he had in his hand at Holdenby, where, being invited by an honourable person to see that stately house, he answered, In this flower I can see more of God than in all the beautiful buildings in the world. See Psalms 111:2; Psalms 92:4; Psalms 37:4. Thus if these drunkards had done, they would not have so abused God’s good creatures. But "whoredom and wine, and new wine had taken away their hearts." [Hosea 4:11] Neither regarded they anything but the sparkling of the wine in the cup, [Proverbs 23:31] and the beauty of the strange woman, [Proverbs 23:33] in the flagrancy of their beastly lust.

Neither consider the operation of his hands.] The present disposing of his creatures, either by way of mercy or judgment. They pass by his providences unobserved, his late judgments upon the ten tribes, [Amos 6:6] his heavy plagues hanging over their own heads, called his "work, and the counsel of the Holy One of Israel." [Isaiah 5:19] Nihil omnino sapiunt nisi luxum suum, They mind nothing but their luxury and looseness.


Verse 13

Isaiah 5:13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because [they have] no knowledge: and their honourable men [are] famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.

Ver. 13. Therefore my people are gone into captivity,] i.e, They are sure to go. {so Amos 6:7}

Because they have no knowledge.] Heb., Propter non-scientiam; i.e., ut ita dicam, non-curantiam, For their brutish oscitancy and lack of consideration, as having buried their wits in their guts, and being miserably besotted by their daily sensualities. "Surely they are poor, they are foolish; for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God." [Jeremiah 5:4]

And their honourable men are famished.] Heb., Are men of hunger or famine; Congrua huic malo lues. They had abused their food and drink to surfeiting and drunkenness; now they shall know the worth of those good creatures by the want of them.

And their multitude dried up with thirst.] The common sort also shall taste of the common calamity; as they did very deeply, when besieged by Vespasian, for five months. (a) Ox dung was then a precious dish unto them, and the shreddings of pot herbs, cast out and trodden under foot and withered, were taken up again for nourishment; yea some, to prolong their lives, would not stick to eat up that which others had vomited and cast up; see Isaiah 9:19-20.


Verse 14

Isaiah 5:14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.

Ver. 14. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, &c.] To swallow up those insatiable helluones and lurcones, drunkards and epicures; these swill howls and sensualists, Cerberi instar, triaguttura pandebant. Diotimus of Athens was surnamed Tunbowl, and young Cicero, Tricongius, because he could take off three bottles of wine at a draught. Therefore death and hell

Have opened their mouth without measure.] Hiante rictu amplissimo helluones istos absorbere, To devour such pests and botches of mankind. Oh that the carousers were persuaded, as Mohammed told his followers, that in every grape there dwelt a devil! And oh that they would foresee and prevent a worse punishment in hell than befell that poor Turk who, being found drunk, had a ladleful of boiling lead poured down his throat by the command of a certain pasha!

And their glory.] Their great ones, those men of honour. [Isaiah 5:13]

And their multitude.] The meaner sort. Nos numeri sumus.

And their pomp.] Or, Their noise or tumult: their revel rout, as they call it, when they have drunk all the outs, and are now singing and hallooing.


Verse 15

Isaiah 5:15 And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:

Ver. 15. And the mean man shall be brought down, &c.] Here the prophet, before he comes to the third denunciation (for this part of the chapter, like Ezekiel’s roll, is full of lamentation, and mourning, and woe, Ezekiel 2:10), inserteth three good effects of the fore-threatened punishments: (a) - 1. That the wicked shall be thereby tamed (in this verse); 2. That God’s glory shall be asserted; [Isaiah 5:16] and 3. That God’s poor people shall be graciously provided for; [Isaiah 5:17] see for this verse, Isaiah 2:9.

And the eyes of the haughty.] See on Isaiah 2:11.


Verse 16

Isaiah 5:16 But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.

Ver. 16. But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted.] See Isaiah 2:11.

And God, that is holy, shall be sanctified.] He shall be religiously acknowledged, approved of, and worshipped as an enemy to sin, and an upright judge, because of his most righteous judgments. (a) It shall be said, "Certainly there is a God that ruleth in the earth." [Psalms 58:11]


Verse 17

Isaiah 5:17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.

Ver. 17. Then shall the lambs feed after their manner,] i.e., Freely and quietly. By lambs here understand the godly poor - those lambs with golden fleeces - who shall be graciously provided for.

And the waste places of the fat ones.] Medullatorum, of those fat bulls of Bashan, who had oppressed the poor, and laid waste their dwellings, but are now served in like sort by the enemy.

Shall the strangers eat.] Such as had been strangers at home, because held captive in a far country, but are now returned, and repossessed of all.


Verse 18

Isaiah 5:18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:

Ver. 18. Woe unto them that draw iniquity.] That draw sin to them, as a beast draweth a cart after it. Here the prophet reproveth and threateneth such, saith an interpreter, (a) as sin without any strong temptation or occasion drawing them thereunto; yea, they draw sin to themselves as with ropes, et quodammodo velut invitum et repugnans cogunt, not remembering that sin haleth hell at the heels of it. Let such get from under sin’s cart as soon as they can, otherwise they shall be "holden with the cords (punishments) of their iniquity; they shall die without instruction," &c. [Proverbs 5:22] The devils, as they sinned without a tempter, so they perish without a Saviour. Cavete. Beware!


Verse 19

Isaiah 5:19 That say, Let him make speed, [and] hasten his work, that we may see [it]: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know [it]!

Ver. 19. That say, Let him make speed.] That jeer when they should fear, jest at God’s judgments, and mock at his menaces, as if they were only bugbear terms, devised on purpose to frighten silly people, but that themselves had more wit than to regard them. This also was the guise of those atheists in later ages. [Jeremiah 17:15 Ezekiel 12:23 Amos 5:18 2 Peter 3:3] Eμπαικται, they made children’s play of God’s direful threats, as the Greek word signifieth. And that they may not plead ignorance, the apostle addeth, [Isaiah 5:5] that they were "willingly ignorant"; they choked their natural light, and contradicted the testimony of their own consciences. Magna eorum hodieque seges est; such dust heaps are found in every corner.

And let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel.] Verba ludificantium Deum et prophetas, (a) These scoffers are here brought in deriding the very name whereby the holy prophets for more reverence sake commonly called the Lord, viz., "the Holy One of Israel." Or thus, God is the Holy One of Israel, which Israel we are; and thinkest thou that he will do us hurt? (b) Hereupon the prophet addeth,


Verse 20

Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Ver. 20. Woe unto them that call evil good, &c.] That can make candida de nigris, et de candentibus atra, and go about to invert the nature of things, and to change the very names of them; while they call - not out of ignorance or infirmity, but out of base calumny or gross flattery - evil good, and good evil; calling drunkenness good fellowship, covetousness good husbandry, prodigality liberality, swearing with a grace a gentleman-like quality, fornication a trick of youth, adultery an enjoyment of the fellow creature, as Ranters call it, &c. Thus the Athenians flattered their own vices, calling πορνας εταιρας, φιρους συνταξεις, φυλακας φρουρας των πολεων, &c. Cicero (a) said it was an ill omen of the overthrow of the commonwealth, that the true names of things were lost; and in divinity it is a rule, Qui fingit nova verba, nova gignit dogmata, He that affecteth new terms would bring in new opinions. That saying of Luther was oft in Pareus’s mouth, Theologus gloriae dicit malum bonum, et bonum malum. Theologus crucis dicit id quod res est. The theology of vain glory says good is bad and bad is good. The theology of popery says this because it is the problem. (b) Not long before our late unhappy troubles the martyrs of the Protestant religion were disgraced, the conspirators in the gunpowder treason excused in a sermon at St Mary’s, Cambridge, by one Kemp of Queen’s College. (c) The schools, press, and pulpit began to speak Italian apace, and to persuade to a moderation, to a reconciliation with Rome, which now was said to be a true Church, the Pope not Antichrist, &c. The great elixir called state policy hath, with some at least, so transmutive a faculty, as to make copper seem gold, right wrong, and wrong right. But let us pray, with good David in Psalms 119:66, "Teach me good judgment and knowledge"; give me senses habitually "exercised to discern between good and evil." [Hebrews 5:14] And then take heed that we neither make censure’s whip nor charity’s cloak too long; we may offend in both.


Verse 21

Isaiah 5:21 Woe unto [them that are] wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Ver. 21. Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes.] Wiser than David - as the proud prince of Tyre thought himself [Ezekiel 28:3] - or than any prophet of them all. This self-conceitedness is πασης της προκοπης εγκοπη, said that heathen, the hindrance of all true proficiency, and a mischievous marrer of good; here is a woe hung at the heels of it. And lest any should hold that to be a small matter, let them consider what befell Meroz after that bitter curse pronounced against it [ 5:23] - the very name and memorial of it is utterly extinct and blotted out; as also what befell the barren fig tree when once cursed by Christ - it withered away suddenly, [Matthew 21:19-20] both root and branch, though naturally the fig tree is the most juiceful of any tree, and beareth the brunt of winter blasts.


Verse 22

Isaiah 5:22 Woe unto [them that are] mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:

Ver. 22. Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine.] Iterate taxat hoc vitium, eo quod invaluerat. The prophet inveigheth against this vice a second time, because it was grown so common. Drunkards also are a sottish kind of creatures, and had therefore more than need to be double dealt with; like as physicians use to give double quantities to such as have palsies or epilepsies, so to awaken their dull, drowsy senses. Many of these sots take it for a great glory that they are mighty to drink wine; as did Darius King of Persia, who caused it to be written upon his tomb, I was a great hunter; I could also drink much wine, and bear it bravely. (a) This was, as one well saith, to glory in his shame; it being rather the commendation of a tun (b) than of a man, for a beast will scarce abide it, to be able to take in and contain much liquor. When Bonosus the drunken Roman had hanged himself, it went for a by-word Amphoram pendere non hominem, (c) that a tun or tankard hung there, and not a man. And when one was commended to King Alphonsus for a great drinker, and able to bear it, he answered that that was a good praise in a sponge, but not in a prince. (d) This, if Alexander the Great and Tiberius the Emperor - those great drinkers and encouragers of others to that vice - had well remembered, they would not have been so infamous as they are and will be to all posterity.

And men of strength.] Or, Valour. But to do what? Pινειν και βινειν μονον, (e) as the comedian hath it: To drink and do worse only. A goodly prize surely, a fair commendation. (e) Fortes esse et strenuos non contra hostes, sed ad exhauriendos calices; gigantes esse non ad bellandum, sed ad potandum. To be carpet knights, not of Mars, but of Bacchus, and fitter for a canopy than a camp.

To mingle.] Or, To pour in. Whether into their own wide gullets, or into the cup to make others drunk; for preventing whereof Minos, King of Crete, made a law that men should not drink one to another, εις μεθην, to drunkenness. So did Lycurgus at Lacedemon. And our King Edgar made an ordinance for putting pins in cups that none should quaff whole ones, or cause others to do so.


Verse 23

Isaiah 5:23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

Ver. 23. Which justify the wicked for reward,] q.d., Woe to such also, for even they both are abomination to the Lord [Proverbs 17:15 Isaiah 1:23] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 17:15"}


Verse 24

Isaiah 5:24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, [so] their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Ver. 24. Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble.] For all the crimes aforementioned, and for that, to all the former they add this, that they have cast away the law of the Lord, and despised his Word.

As the fire.] Heb., The tongue of fire; that is, the top of the flame, which resembleth a tongue, that is also thin, broad, long, and of a fiery colour: "Setting on fire the course of nature, and is itself set on fire of hell." [James 3:6]

Devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff.] Sin doth as naturally draw and suck judgments to it as the lodestone doth iron, as dry stubble and light chaff doth fire; suddenly and with no ado shall sinners be consumed, when God once taketh them to do; exorientur et exurentur.

So their root shall be rottenness.] In allusion to the vine [Isaiah 5:1] which brought forth rotten grapes. [Isaiah 5:4]

And their blossom shall go up as dust.] Shall vanish and come to nothing, as it needs must where the root is putrified. Of wild vines Pliny (a) saith, Ostentant fructum potius quam porrigunt, they rather make a show of fruit than yield any. And there are some vines, saith Varro, (b) whose fruit ever rotteth before it hath time to ripen. He meaneth they shall vanish in their greatest flourish of seeming felicity.


Verse 25

Isaiah 5:25 Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases [were] torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still.

Ver. 25. Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled.] For contempt of the law, but especially of the gospel, "wrath came upon" that wretched people of the Jews "to the utmost," [1 Thessalonians 2:16] or until the end, as some read it. They are to this day a people of God’s wrath and curse, and become a woeful example of that rule, Atrocia delicta puniuntur atrocibus poenis, Heinous sins bring heavy punishments. This desolation of theirs (as Daniel prophesieth, Daniel 9:27) shall continue to the end.

And he hath stretched forth his hand against them.] His mighty hand, as St James hath it, wherewith he oft leaveth bloody wales on the backs of the best when they provoke, but crusheth the wicked in pieces, and crumbleth them to shreds.

And hath smitten them.] Revenge is the next effect of anger.

And the hills did tremble,] (a) i.e., The highest among them; or, literally, the senseless hills seemed sensible of so great displeasure.

And their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets.] What havoc there was made of men at the last destruction of Jerusalem, Josephus, Egesippus, Orosius, and Eusebius fully tell us. What with the extremity of famine, what with the fury of the sword, and what with sickness during the siege, there perished about 600,000 able men; or, as others say, 1,100,000, besides 97,000 carried captive. Titus, the Roman general, seeing the infinite number of carcases of the Jews cast out unburied without the walls of the city was much grieved, and took God to witness that he was not the author of that calamity, but that the fault was altogether in those stubborn Jews, that held out the city against him. (b)

For all this his anger is not turned away.] With those "froward ones God will show himself froward," [Psalms 18:26] and not give place to their pertinacity, till they have enough of it. It must be a humble submission that pacifieth God’s wrath.


Verse 26

Isaiah 5:26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:

Ver. 26. And he will lift up an ensign.] That is, by his secret providence he shall bring on the enemy’s army. The Roman forces are called God’s armies, [Matthew 22:7] and Titus confessed that he only lent God his hand to execute his wrath on that rebellious people the Jews.

And will hiss unto them.] Bring them together with little ado, as pilots hiss for their ship boys, or shepherds whistle for their sheep to come about them.

From the end of the earth.] Rome was far remote from Jerusalem, and in the Roman army were likely many French, Spaniards, Italians, and perhaps Britons.

And behold they shall come with speed.] Sooner than those mockers imagined who said, "Let him make speed." [Isaiah 5:19] Hence the enemy is compared to a swift eagle. [Deuteronomy 28:49]


Verse 27

Isaiah 5:27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:

Ver. 27. None shall be weary nor stumble.] Though they come speedily, yet they shall none of them tire or turn out of the way, but come on with expedition, robusti, alacres, felices, probe armati, saevi [Isaiah 5:27-29] being lively, lusty, happy, well appointed, fierce.

None shall slumber or sleep.] More than the necessity of nature requireth; they shall be no less vigilant than diligent.

Neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed.] They may put up their swords sometimes, but not put them off at all, as it is said of Julius Caesar.

Nor the latchet,] i.e., So as to hinder their march.


Verse 28

Isaiah 5:28 Whose arrows [are] sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:

Ver. 28. Whose arrows are sharp.] Or, Sharpened, sc., to wound the deeper.

Their horses’ hoofs.] Judea was a stony country; but hard to hard will not easily break.


Verse 29

Isaiah 5:29 Their roaring [shall be] like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry [it] away safe, and none shall deliver [it].

Ver. 29. Their roaring shall be like a lion.] At whose terrible roar the beasts of the field are said to stand as amazed.

They shall lay hold on the prey.] Not of wealth only, but of persons, and shall hold their own when they have gotten them.


Verse 30

Isaiah 5:30 And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if [one] look unto the land, behold darkness [and] sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.

Ver. 30. Like the roaring of the sea.] The noise whereof is so hideous, that the shrieking of the devil is set forth by it. [James 2:19] {See Trapp on "James 2:19"}

And if one look into the land.] Or, To the earth below, behold darkness, &c., as if to the heavens, the light also there is darkened. Man cannot help them; God will not. To such straits of "an evil, an only evil," are such oft brought, as think themselves out of the reach of God’s rod. Vae victis. Alas, having been conquered.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 5:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-5.html. 1865-1868.


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Thursday, November 23rd, 2017
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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