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43. Israel's Only Savior

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. 5Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; 7Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

8Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. 9Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth. 10Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. 12I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God. 13Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?

14Thus saith the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships. 15I am the Lord, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. 16Thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; 17Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow.

18Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. 20The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. 21This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.

22But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel. 23Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense. 24Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. 25I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. 26Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified. 27Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me. 28Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches.

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27. Thy first father sinned. This passage is almost universally understood to refer to the “first parent” Adam. (Genesis 3:6.) Some prefer to interpret it as relating to Abraham; as if he had said,

“You have not alone sinned, but your father Abraham himself sinned, though he was a man of eminent holiness.” 171171     Jarchi adopts this view, and paraphrases the clause thus; “‘Thy first father sinned,’ that is, when he said, ‘How shall I know that I shall inherit it?’” (Genesis 15:8.) This passage was not likely to have occurred to modern readers as the most striking fact in Abraham’s history for proving that that eminently holy man was not absolutely perfect; and the selection of it is a curious specimen of Jewish interpretation. — Ed. (Joshua 24:2.)

By the teachers are understood to be meant Moses and Aaron, who were men of extraordinary holiness, and yet sinned: “how much more you who are far inferior to theme” (Numbers 20:12.) That would be an argument from the greater to the less. But I view the matter differently; for under the word Father he includes not one or a few of their ancestors, but many. It is an interchange of the singular and plural number, which is very frequently employed by Hebrew writers. This reproof occurs very frequently in the prophets and in the Psalms; for, knowing that God reckoned them to be “a holy people,” (Exodus 19:6,) as if this honor had been due to the excellence or merits of the fathers, they rose fiercely against God himself, and swelled with pride on account of their hereditary privilege. On this account the prophets in every age expose the crimes of the fathers; and Stephen, who followed them, says, that “they always resisted the Holy Spirit;” (Acts 7:51;) as if he had said, “You do not now for the first time begin to be wicked; long ago your fathers were base and infamous. From a bad crow has come a bad egg. But you are far worse, and exceed your fathers in wickedness; so that if I had looked at you alone, you would long ago have been destroyed and completely ruined.”

And thy teachers. 172172     “Thy teachers. Hebrews Interpreters.” — (Eng. Ver.) “Interpreters, or organs of communication, is a title given elsewhere to ambassadors, (2 Chronicles 32:31,) and to an interceding angel. (Job 33:23.) It here denotes all those who, under the theocracy, acted as organs of communication between God and the people, whether prophets, priests, or rulers.” — Alexander. He now adds the teachers, in order to shew that the blame did not lie with the people alone; for they who ought to have been the guides of others, that is, the priests and the prophets, were the first to stumble, and led others into error. In a word, he shews that no class was free from vices and corruptions. “Let them now go and boast of their virtues, and let them produce the very smallest reason why I ought to protect them, except my own goodness.” If it be objected that there is no reason why the sins of their fathers should be brought as an accusation against them, because it is written,

“The soul that hath sinned shall die, and the children shall not be punished instead of the fathers,” (Ezekiel 18:20,)

the answer will be easy. The Lord makes the children to bear the punishment of the sins of the fathers, when they resemble their fathers; and yet they are not punished for other men’s sins, for they themselves have sinned; and when the Lord chastises the whole body, he puts the fathers and the children together, so as to involve all in the same condemnation.