The twenty-eighth through thirty-third chapters form
almost one continuous prophecy concerning the destruction of Ephraim,
the impiety and folly of Judah, the danger of their league with Egypt,
the straits they would be reduced to by Assyria, from which Jehovah
would deliver them on their turning to Him; the twenty-eighth chapter
refers to the time just before the sixth year of Hezekiak's reign, the
rest not very long before his fourteenth year.
1. crown of pride—Hebrew for
"proud crown of the drunkards," &c. [Horsley], namely, Samaria, the capital of Ephraim,
or Israel. "Drunkards," literally (Isa 28:7, 8;
Isa 5:11, 22; Am 4:1; 6:1-6)
and metaphorically, like drunkards, rushing on to their own
beauty … flower—"whose glorious
beauty or ornament is a fading flower." Carrying on the image of
"drunkards"; it was the custom at feasts to wreathe the brow with
flowers; so Samaria, "which is (not as English Version,
'which are') upon the head of the fertile valley," that is, situated on
a hill surrounded with the rich valleys as a garland (1Ki 16:24); but the garland is "fading," as
garlands often do, because Ephraim is now close to ruin (compare Isa 16:8); fulfilled 721 B.C. (2Ki 17:6, 24).
2. strong one—the Assyrian (Isa 10:5).
cast down—namely, Ephraim (Isa 28:1) and Samaria, its crown.
with … hand—with violence (Isa 8:11).
3. crown … the drunkards—rather,
"the crown of the drunkards."
4. Rather, "the fading flower, their glorious
28:1), which is on the head
of the fat (fertile) valley, shall be as the early fig" [G. V. Smith]. Figs usually ripened in August; but
earlier ones (Hebrew bikkurah, Spanish bokkore) in June,
and were regarded as a delicacy (Jer 24:2; Ho 9:10; Mic
while it is yet—that is,
immediately, without delay; describing the eagerness of
the Assyrian Shalmaneser, not merely to conquer, but to destroy
utterly Samaria; whereas other conquered cities were often
5-13. The prophet now turns to Judah; a
gracious promise to the remnant ("residue"); a warning lest through
like sins Judah should share the fate of Samaria.
crown—in antithesis to the
"fading crown" of Ephraim (Isa 28:1, 3).
the residue—primarily, Judah,
in the prosperous reign of Hezekiah (2Ki 18:7), antitypically, the elect of
God; as He here is called their "crown and diadem," so are
they called His (Isa 62:3); a
6. Jehovah will inspire their magistrates with
justice, and their soldiers with strength of spirit.
turn … battle to …
gate—the defenders of their country who not only repel the
foe from themselves, but drive him to the gates of his own cities
(2Sa 11:23; 2Ki 18:8).
7. Though Judah is to survive the fall of
Ephraim, yet "they also" (the men of Judah) have perpetrated like sins
to those of Samaria (Isa 5:3, 11), which must be chastised by God.
erred … are out of the
way—"stagger … reel." Repeated, to express the
frequency of the vice.
priest … prophet—If the
ministers of religion sin so grievously, how much more the other rulers
vision—even in that most sacred
function of the prophet to declare God's will revealed to them.
judgment—The priests had the
administration of the law committed to them (De 17:9;
19:17). It was against the
law for the priests to take wine before entering the tabernacle (Le 10:9;
9, 10. Here the drunkards are introduced as
scoffingly commenting on Isaiah's warnings: "Whom will he (does
Isaiah presume to) teach knowledge? And whom will He make to
understand instruction? Is it those (that is, does he take us to
be) just weaned, &c.? For (he is constantly repeating, as if to
little children) precept upon precept," &c.
line—a rule or law. [Maurer]. The repetition of sounds in Hebrew tzav
latzav, tzav latzav, qav laqav, qav laquav, expresses the scorn of
the imitators of Isaiah's speaking; he spoke stammering (Isa 28:11). God's mode of teaching offends
by its simplicity the pride of sinners (2Ki 5:11, 12; 1Co 1:23). Stammerers as they were
by drunkenness, and children in knowledge of God, they needed to be
spoken to in the language of children, and "with stammering lips"
13:13). A just and merciful
11. For—rather, "Truly." This is
Isaiah's reply to the scoffers: Your drunken questions shall be
answered by the severe lessons from God conveyed through the Assyrians
and Babylonians; the dialect of these, though Semitic, like the
Hebrew, was so far different as to sound to the Jews like the
speech of stammerers (compare Isa 33:19; 36:11). To them who will not understand God
will speak still more unintelligibly.
12. Rather, "He (Jehovah) who hath said to
this … the rest—Reference may be
primarily to "rest" from national warlike preparations, the Jews being
at the time "weary" through various preceding calamities, as the
Syro-Israelite invasion (Isa 7:8;
compare Isa 30:15; 22:8; 39:2; 36:1;
2Ki 18:8). But spiritually,
the "rest" meant is that to be found in obeying those very "precepts"
of God (Isa 28:10)
which they jeered at (compare Jer 6:16; Mt 11:29).
13. But—rather, "Therefore," namely,
because "they would not hear" (Isa 28:12).
that they might go—the designed
result to those who, from a defect of the will, so far from
profiting by God's mode of instructing, "precept upon precept,"
&c., made it into a stumbling-block (Ho 6:5; 8:12; Mt 13:14).
go, and fall—image appropriately from
"drunkards" (Isa 28:7, 8, which they were) who in trying to "go
forward fall backward."
14. scornful—(See on Isa 28:9).
15. said—virtually, in your conduct, if
not in words.
covenant—There may be a tacit
reference to their confidence in their "covenant" with the Assyrians in
the early part of Hezekiah's prosperous reign, before he ceased to pay
tribute to them, as if it ensured Judah from evil, whatever might
befall the neighboring Ephraim (Isa 28:1). The full meaning is shown by
the language ("covenant with death—hell," or sheol) to
apply to all lulled in false security spiritually (Ps 12:4;
Ec 8:8; Jer 8:11); the godly
alone are in covenant with death (Job 5:23; Ho 2:18; 1Co
overflowing scourge—two metaphors: the
hostile Assyrian armies like an overwhelming flood.
pass through—namely, through Judea on
their way to Egypt, to punish it as the protector of Samaria (2Ki 17:4).
lies—They did not use these
words, but Isaiah designates their sentiments by their true name
16. Literally, "Behold Me as Him who
has laid"; namely, in My divine counsel (Re 13:8); none save I could lay it (Isa 63:5).
stone—Jesus Christ; Hezekiah
[Maurer], or the temple [Ewald], do not realize the full significancy
of the language; but only in type point to Him, in whom the prophecy
receives its exhaustive accomplishment; whether Isaiah
understood its fulness or not (1Pe 1:11, 12), the Holy Ghost plainly contemplated
its fulfilment in Christ alone; so in Isa 32:1; compare Ge
49:24; Ps 118:22; Mt 21:42; Ro 10:11; Eph 2:20.
tried—both by the devil (Lu 4:1-13) and by men (Lu 20:1-38), and even by God (Mt 27:46); a stone of tested solidity to bear the
vast superstructure of man's redemption. The tested
righteousness of Christ gives its peculiar merit to His vicarious
sacrifice. The connection with the context is, though a "scourge" shall
visit Judea (Isa 28:15),
yet God's gracious purpose as to the elect remnant, and His kingdom of
which "Zion" shall be the center, shall not fail, because its rests on
Messiah (Mt 7:24, 25; 2Ti 2:19).
precious—literally, "of preciousness,"
so in the Greek, (1Pe 2:7).
He is preciousness.
7:9; Job 38:6); the stone
laid at the corner where two walls meet and connecting them; often
make haste—flee in hasty alarm; but
the Septuagint has "be ashamed"; so Ro 9:33, and 1Pe
2:6, "be confounded,"
substantially the same idea; he who rests on Him shall not have the
shame of disappointment, nor flee in sudden panic (see Isa 30:15;
17. line—the measuring-line of the
plummet. Horsley translates, "I will
appoint judgment for the rule, and justice for the plummet." As the
corner-stone stands most perpendicular and exactly proportioned, so
Jehovah, while holding out grace to believers in the Foundation-stone,
will judge the scoffers (Isa 28:15)
according to the exact justice of the law (compare Jas 2:13).
hail—divine judgment (Isa 30:30;
18. disannulled—obliterated, as letters
traced on a waxen tablet are obliterated by passing the stylus over
trodden down—passing from the metaphor
in "scourge" to the thing meant, the army which treads
down its enemies.
19. From the time, &c.—rather, "As
often as it comes over (that is, passes through), it shall overtake
you" [Horsley]; like a flood returning
from time to time, frequent hostile invasions shall assail
Judah, after the deportation of the ten tribes.
vexation … understand …
report—rather, "It shall be a terror even to hear the mere
report of it" [Maurer], (1Sa 3:11). But G. V.
Smith, "Hard treatment (Horsley,
'dispersion') only shall make you to understand instruction"; they
scorned at the simple way in which the prophet offered it (Isa 28:9); therefore, they must be taught by the
severe teachings of adversity.
20. Proverbial, for they shall find all their
sources of confidence fail them; all shall be hopeless perplexity in
21. Perazim—In the valley of Rephaim
(2Sa 5:18, 20; 1Ch 14:11), there Jehovah, by David, broke
forth as waters do, and made a breach among the
Philistines, David's enemies, as Perazim means,
expressing a sudden and complete overthrow.
Gibeon—(1Ch 14:16; 2Sa 5:25, Margin); not Joshua's victory
strange—as being against His own
people; judgment is not what God delights in; it is, though necessary,
yet strange to Him (La 3:33).
work—punishing the guilty (Isa 10:12).
22. mockers—a sin which they had
committed (Isa 28:9, 10).
bands—their Assyrian bondage (Isa 10:27); Judah was then tributary to
Assyria; or, "lest your punishment be made still more severe" (Isa 24:22).
consumption—destruction (Isa 10:22,
23; Da 9:27).
23. Calling attention to the following
illustration from husbandry (Ps 49:1, 2). As the husbandman does his different
kinds of work, each in its right time and due proportion,
so God adapts His measures to the varying exigencies of the several
cases: now mercy, now judgments; now punishing sooner, now later (an
answer to the scoff that His judgments, being put off so long, would
never come at all, Isa 5:19);
His object being not to destroy His people any more than the
farmer's object in threshing is to destroy his crop; this vindicates
God's "strange work" (Isa 28:21)
in punishing His people. Compare the same image, Jer
24:6; Ho 2:23; Mt 3:12.
24. all day—emphatic; he is not
always ploughing: he also "sows," and that, too, in accordance
with sure rules (Isa 28:25).
doth he open—supply "always." Is he
25. face—the "surface" of the ground:
"made plain," or level, by harrowing.
fitches—rather, "dill," or "fennel";
Nigella romana, with black seed, easily beaten out, used as a
condiment and medicine in the East. So the Septuagint, "cummin"
was used in the same way.
cast in … principal
wheat—rather, plant the wheat in rows (for wheat was
thought to yield the largest crop, by being planted sparingly [Pliny, Natural History, 18.21]); [Maurer]; "sow the wheat regularly" [Horsley]. But Gesenius, like English Version, "fat," or
"principal," that is, excellent wheat.
appointed barley—rather, "barley in
its appointed place" [Maurer].
in their place—rather, "in its (the
field's) border" [Maurer].
26. to discretion—in the due rules of
husbandry; God first taught it to man (Ge 3:23).
27. The husbandman uses the same discretion in
threshing. The dill ("fitches") and cummin, leguminous and tender
grains, are beaten out, not as wheat, &c., with the heavy corn-drag
("threshing instrument"), but with "a staff"; heavy instruments would
crush and injure the seed.
cart wheel—two iron wheels armed with
iron teeth, like a saw, joined together by a wooden axle. The
"corn-drag" was made of three or four wooden cylinders, armed with iron
teeth or flint stones fixed underneath, and joined like a sledge. Both
instruments cut the straw for fodder as well as separated the corn.
staff—used also where they had but a
small quantity of corn; the flail (Ru 2:17).
28. Bread corn—corn of which bread is
bruised—threshed with the
corn-drag (as contrasted with dill and cummin, "beaten with the
staff"), or, "trodden out" by the hoofs of cattle driven over it on the
threshing-floor [G. V. Smith], (De 25:4;
because—rather, "but" [Horsley]; though the corn is threshed with the heavy
instrument, yet he will not always be thus threshing it.
break it—"drive over it (continually)
the wheel" [Maurer].
horsemen—rather, "horses"; used to
tread out corn.
29. This also—The skill wherewith the
husbandman duly adjusts his modes of threshing is given by God, as well
as the skill (Isa 28:26)
wherewith he tills and sows (Isa 28:24, 25). Therefore He must also be able to
adapt His modes of treatment to the several moral needs of His
creatures. His object in sending tribulation (derived from the
Latin tribulum, a "threshing instrument," Lu 22:31; Ro
5:3) is to sever the moral
chaff from the wheat, not to crush utterly; "His judgments are usually
in the line of our offenses; by the nature of the judgments we may
usually ascertain the nature of the sin" [Barnes].