The Worthlessness of the Vine as Wood
Especially When Burnt, Is the Image of the Worthlessness and Guilt of
the Jews, Who Shall Pass from One Fire
This chapter represents, in the way of a brief
introduction, what the sixteenth chapter details minutely.
2, 3. What has the vine-wood to make it
pre-eminent above other forest-wood? Nothing. Nay, the reverse.
Other trees yield useful timber, but vine-wood is soft, brittle,
crooked, and seldom large; not so much as a "pin" (the large wooden peg
used inside houses in the East to hang household articles on, Isa
22:23-25) can be made of it.
Its sole excellency is that it should bear fruit; when it does not bear
fruit, it is not only not better, but inferior to other trees: so if
God's people lose their distinctive excellency by not bearing fruits of
righteousness, they are more unprofitable than the worldly (De 32:32), for they are the vine; the sole
end of their being is to bear fruit to His glory (Ps 80:8, 9; Isa 5:1, &c.; Jer 2:21; Ho 10:1; Mt
21:33). In all respects,
except in their being planted by God, the Jews were inferior to other
nations, as Egypt, Babylon, &c., for example, in antiquity, extent
of territory, resources, military power, attainments in arts and
or than a branch—rather, in
apposition with "the vine tree." Omit "or than." What
superiority has the vine if it be but a branch among the trees of
the forest, that is, if, as having no fruit, it lies cut down among
other woods of trees?
4. cast into … fire—(Joh 15:6).
both the ends—the north kingdom having
been already overturned by Assyria under Tiglath-pileser; the south
being pressed on by Egypt (2Ki 23:29-35).
midst of it is burned—rather, "is on
flame"; namely, Jerusalem, which had now caught the flame by the attack
Is it meet for any work—"it," that is,
the scorched part still remaining.
5. If useless before, much more so when almost
6. So will I give the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, as being utterly unprofitable (Mt 21:33-41; 25:30; Mr 11:12-14; Lu 13:6-9) in answering God's design that
they should be witnesses for Jehovah before the heathen (Mt 3:10; 5:13).
7. And I will set my face against
them—(See on Le 17:10).
from one fire … another—(Compare
24:18). "Fire" means here
every kind of calamity (Ps 66:12).
The Jewish fugitives shall escape from the ruin of Jerusalem, only to
fall into some other calamity.
8. trespass—rather, "they have
perversely fallen into perverse rebellion." The Jews were not merely
sinners as the other nations, but revolters and
apostates. It is one thing to neglect what we know not, but
quite another thing to despise what we profess to worship [Jerome], as the Jews did towards God and the