1. The General Title
or Program applying to the entire book: this discountenances the
Talmud tradition, that he was sawn asunder by Manasseh.
Isaiah—equivalent to "The Lord
shall save"; significant of the subject of his prophecies. On
"vision," see 1Sa 9:9; Nu 12:6; and see my Introduction.
Judah and Jerusalem—Other nations also
are the subjects of his prophecies; but only in their relation to the
Jews (Isa 13:1-23:18); so also the ten tribes of Israel are
introduced only in the same relation (Isa 7:1-9:21). Jerusalem is particularly specified,
being the site of the temple, and the center of the theocracy, and the
future throne of Messiah (Ps 48:2, 3, 9; Jer 3:17). Jesus Christ is the "Lion of the tribe
of Judah" (Re
Uzziah—called also Azariah (2Ki 14:21; 2Ch 26:1, 17, 20). The Old Testament prophecies
spiritually interpret the histories, as the New Testament Epistles
interpret the Gospels and Acts. Study them together, to see their
spiritual relations. Isaiah prophesied for only a few years before
Uzziah's death; but his prophecies of that period (Isa 1:1-6:13) apply to Jotham's reign also, in
which he probably wrote none; for Isa 7:1-25 enters immediately on Ahaz' reign, after
Uzziah in Isa 6:1-13;
the prophecies under Hezekiah follow next.
2. The very words of Moses (De 32:1); this implies that the law was the
charter and basis of all prophecy (Isa 8:20).
Lord—Jehovah; in Hebrew,
"the self-existing and promise-fulfilling, unchangeable One." The Jews
never pronounced this holy name, but substituted Adonai. The English
Version, Lord in capitals, marks the
Hebrew "Jehovah," though Lord is rather equivalent to
"Adonai" than "Jehovah."
rebelled—as sons (De 21:18) and as subjects, God being king in the
theocracy (Isa 63:10).
"Brought up," literally, "elevated," namely, to peculiar privileges
(Jer 2:6-8; Ro 9:4, 5).
3. (Jer 8:7).
crib—the stall where it is fed (Pr 14:4). Spiritually the word and
Israel—The whole nation, Judah as well
as Israel, in the restricted sense. God regards His covenant-people in
their designed unity.
not know—namely, his Owner, as the
parallelism requires; that is, not recognize Him as such (Ex 19:5, equivalent to "my people," Joh 1:10,
consider—attend to his Master
41:8), notwithstanding the
spiritual food which He provides (answering to "crib" in the
4. people—the peculiar designation of
God's elect nation (Ho 1:10),
that they should be "laden with iniquity" is therefore the more
monstrous. Sin is a load (Ps 38:4; Mt 11:28).
seed—another appellation of God's
elect (Ge 12:7; Jer 2:21), designed to be a "holy seed" (Isa 6:13), but, awful to say,
children—by adoption (Ho 11:1), yet "evildoers"; not only so, but
"corrupters" of others (Ge 6:12); the
climax. So "nation—people—seed children."
namely, so as to provoke (Pr 1:30, 31).
Holy One of Israel—the peculiar
heinousness of their sin, that it was against their God (Am 3:2).
gone … backward—literally,
"estranged" (Ps 58:3).
5. Why—rather, as Vulgate, "On
what part." Image from a body covered all over with marks of blows
38:3). There is no part in
which you have not been smitten.
head … sick, &c.—not
referring, as it is commonly quoted, to their sins, but to the
universality of their punishment. However, sin, the moral
disease of the head or intellect, and the heart, is
doubtless made its own punishment (Pr 1:31; Jer 2:19; Ho
8:11). "Sick," literally, "is
in a state of sickness" [Gesenius]; "has
passed into sickness" [Maurer].
6. From the lowest to the highest of the
people; "the ancient and honorable, the head, the prophet that
teacheth lies, the tail." See Isa 9:13-16. He first states their wretched
condition, obvious to all (Isa 1:6-9);
and then, not previously, their irreligious state, the cause of it.
wounds—judicially inflicted (Ho 5:13).
mollified with ointment—The art of
medicine in the East consists chiefly in external applications (Lu
10:34; Jas 5:14).
7. Judah had not in Uzziah's reign recovered
from the ravages of the Syrians in Joash's reign (2Ch 24:24), and of Israel in Amaziah's reign
25:13, 23, &c.). Compare
Isaiah's contemporary (Am 4:6-11),
where, as here (Isa 1:9, 10), Israel is compared to "Sodom and
Gomorrah," because of the judgments on it by "fire."
in your presence—before your eyes:
without your being able to prevent them.
desolate, &c.—literally, "there is
desolation, such as one might look for from foreign" invaders.
8. daughter of Zion—the city (Ps 9:14), Jerusalem and its inhabitants
(feminine, singular being used as a neuter collective noun),
equivalent to sons (Isa 12:6,
Margin) [Maurer]. Metropolis or
"mother-city" is the corresponding term. The idea of youthful beauty is
included in "daughter."
left—as a remnant escaping the
cottage—a hut, made to give temporary
shelter to the caretaker of the vineyard.
besieged—rather, as "left," and Isa 1:9 require, preserved, namely,
from the desolation all round [Maurer].
9. Jehovah of Sabaoth, that is, God of the
angelic and starry hosts (Ps 59:5; 147:4; 148:2). The latter were objects of idolatry,
called hence Sabaism (2Ki 17:16). God is above even them (1Ch 16:26). "The groves" were symbols of these
starry hosts; it was their worship of Sabaoth instead of the Lord of
Sabaoth, which had caused the present desolation (2Ch 24:18). It needed no less a power than His, to
preserve even a "remnant." Condescending grace for the elect's sake,
since He has no need of us, seeing that He has countless hosts to serve
10. Sodom—spiritually (Ge 19:24; Jer 23:14; Eze 16:46; Re 11:8).
11. God does not here absolutely disparage
sacrifice, which is as old and universal as sin (Ge 3:21; 4:4), and sin is almost as old as the
world; but sacrifice, unaccompanied with obedience of heart and life
(1Sa 15:22; Ps 50:9-13; 51:16-19; Ho
precepts are only means; moral obedience is the end. A
foreshadowing of the gospel, when the One real sacrifice was to
supersede all the shadowy ones, and "bring in everlasting
righteousness" (Ps 40:6, 7; Da 9:24-27; Heb 10:1-14).
full—to satiety; weary of
burnt offerings—burnt whole, except
the blood, which was sprinkled about the altar.
fat—not to be eaten by man, but burnt
on the altar (Le 3:4, 5, 11, 17).
12. appear before me—in the temple where
the Shekinah, resting on the ark, was the symbol of God's presence
23:15; Ps 42:2).
who hath required this—as if you were
doing God a service by such hypocritical offerings (Job 35:7). God did require it (Ex 23:17), but not in this spirit (Mic 6:6, 7).
courts—areas, in which the worshippers
were. None but priests entered the temple itself.
13. oblations—unbloody; "meat
(old English sense, not flesh) offerings," that is, of
flour, fruits, oil, &c. (Le 2:1-13).
incense—put upon the sacrifices, and
burnt on the altar of incense. Type of prayer (Ps 141:2; Re
new moons—observed as festivals (Nu
10:10; 28:11, 14) with
sacrifices and blowing of silver trumpets.
sabbaths—both the seventh day and the
beginning and closing days of the great feasts (Le 23:24-39).
away with—bear, Maurer translates, "I cannot bear iniquity
and the solemn meeting," that is, the meeting associated with
iniquity—literally, the closing days of the feasts; so the
great days (Le 23:36; Joh 7:37).
14. appointed—the sabbath, passover,
pentecost, day of atonement, and feast of tabernacles [Hengstenberg]; they alone were fixed to certain
times of the year.
15. (Ps 66:18; Pr 28:9; La
spread … hands—in prayer (1Ki 8:22). Hebrew, "bloods," for
all heinous sins, persecution of God's servants especially
23:35). It was the vocation
of the prophets to dispel the delusion, so contrary to the law itself
10:16), that outward
ritualism would satisfy God.
16. God saith to the sinner, "Wash
you," &c., that he, finding his inability to "make" himself
"clean," may cry to God, Wash me, cleanse me (Ps 51:2, 7, 10).
before mine eyes—not mere outward
reformation before man's eyes, who cannot, as God, see into the
17. seek judgment—justice, as
magistrates, instead of seeking bribes (Jer 22:3, 16).
judge—vindicate (Ps 68:5; Jas
18. God deigns to argue the case with us, that
all may see the just, nay, loving principle of His dealings with men
scarlet—the color of Jesus Christ's
robe when bearing our "sins" (Mt 27:28). So Rahab's thread (Jos 2:18; compare Le 14:4). The rabbins say that when the lot used
to be taken, a scarlet fillet was bound on the scapegoat's head,
and after the high priest had confessed his and the people's sins over
it, the fillet became white: the miracle ceased, according to
them, forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, exactly
when Jesus Christ was crucified; a remarkable admission of adversaries.
Hebrew for "scarlet" radically means double-dyed; so the
deep-fixed permanency of sin in the heart, which no mere tears
can wash away.
snow—(Ps 51:7). Repentance is presupposed, before sin
can be made white as snow (Isa 1:19, 20); it too is God's gift (Jer 31:18, Lam 5:21, Acts 5:31).
red—refers to "blood" (Isa 1:15).
as wool—restored to its original
undyed whiteness. This verse shows that the old fathers did not look
only for transitory promises (Article VII, Book of Common
Prayer). For sins of ignorance, and such like, alone had trespass
offerings appointed for them; greater guilt therefore needed a greater
sacrifice, for, "without shedding of blood there was no remission"; but
none such was appointed, and yet forgiveness was promised and expected;
therefore spiritual Jews must have looked for the One Mediator of both
Old Testament and New Testament, though dimly understood.
19, 20. Temporal blessings in "the land
of their possession" were prominent in the Old Testament promises, as
suited to the childhood of the Church (Ex 3:17). New Testament spiritual
promises derive their imagery from the former (Mt 5:5).
20. Lord hath spoken it—Isaiah's
prophecies rest on the law (Le 26:33).
God alters not His word (Numbers 23. 19).
21. faithful—as a wife (Isa
54:5; 62:5; Ho 2:19, 20).
righteousness lodged—(2Pe 3:13).
as the antithesis requires (see on Isa 1:15; 1Jo 3:15).
22. Thy princes and people are degenerate in
"solid worth," equivalent to "silver" (Jer 6:28, 30; Eze 22:18,
19), and in their use of
the living Word, equivalent to "wine" (So 7:9).
mixed—literally, "circumcised." So the
Arabic, "to murder" wine, equivalent to dilute it.
23. companions of thieves—by connivance
gifts—(Eze 22:12). A nation's corruption begins with its
24. Lord … Lord—Adonai,
mighty One of Israel—mighty to take
vengeance, as before, to save.
ease me—My long tried patience will
find relief in at last punishing the guilty (Eze 5:13). God's language condescends to human
25. turn … hand—not in wrath, but
in grace (Zec 13:7),
"upon thee," as Isa 1:26, 27 show; contrasted with the
enemies, of whom He will avenge Himself (Isa 1:24).
purely—literally, "as alkali
thy dross—not thy sins, but the
sinful persons (Jer 6:29);
"enemies" (Isa 1:24);
degenerate princes (see on Isa 1:22),
intermingled with the elect "remnant" of grace.
tin—Hebrew, bedil, here the
alloy of lead, tin, &c., separated by smelting from the silver. The
pious Bishop Bedell took his motto from this.
26. As the degeneracy had shown itself most in
the magistrates (Isa 1:17-23), so, at the "restoration," these shall
be such as the theocracy "at the first" had contemplated, namely, after
the Babylonish restoration in part and typically, but fully and
antitypically under Messiah (Isa 32:1; 52:8; Jer
33:7; Mt 19:28).
faithful—no longer "an harlot."
27. redeemed—temporarily, civilly, and
morally; type of the spiritual redemption by the price of
Jesus Christ's blood (1Pe 1:18, 19), the foundation of "judgment" and
"righteousness," and so of pardon. The judgment and
righteousness are God's first (Isa 42:21; Ro 3:26); so they become man's when "converted"
4); typified in the display
of God's "justice," then exhibited in delivering His covenant-people,
whereby justice or "righteousness" was produced in them.
converts—so Maurer. But Margin, "they that return of
her," namely the remnant that return from captivity. However, as Isaiah
had not yet expressly foretold the Babylonian captivity, the English
Version is better.
28. destruction—literally, "breaking
into shivers" (Re 2:27). The
prophets hasten forward to the final extinction of the ungodly (Ps
37:20; Re 19:20; 20:15); of
which antecedent judgments are types.
29. ashamed—(Ro 6:21).
oaks—Others translate the "terebinth"
or "turpentine tree." Groves were dedicated to idols. Our Druids took
their name from the Greek for "oaks." A sacred tree is often
found in Assyrian sculpture; symbol of the starry hosts, Saba.
gardens—planted enclosures for
idolatry; the counterpart of the garden of Eden.
30. oak—Ye shall be like the "oaks," the
object of your "desire" (Isa 1:29).
People become like the gods they worship; they never rise above their
135:18). So men's sins become
their own scourges (Jer 2:9). The
leaf of the idol oak fades by a law of necessary consequence, having no
living sap or "water" from God. So "garden" answers to "gardens" (Isa 1:29).
31. strong—powerful rulers (Am 2:9).
maker of it—rather, his work. He shall
be at once the fuel, "tow," and the cause of the fire, by kindling the
both—the wicked ruler, and "his work,"
which "is as a spark."