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God the Creator and Redeemer


Hear this, O house of Jacob,

who are called by the name of Israel,

and who came forth from the loins of Judah;

who swear by the name of the L ord,

and invoke the God of Israel,

but not in truth or right.


For they call themselves after the holy city,

and lean on the God of Israel;

the L ord of hosts is his name.



The former things I declared long ago,

they went out from my mouth and I made them known;

then suddenly I did them and they came to pass.


Because I know that you are obstinate,

and your neck is an iron sinew

and your forehead brass,


I declared them to you from long ago,

before they came to pass I announced them to you,

so that you would not say, “My idol did them,

my carved image and my cast image commanded them.”



You have heard; now see all this;

and will you not declare it?

From this time forward I make you hear new things,

hidden things that you have not known.


They are created now, not long ago;

before today you have never heard of them,

so that you could not say, “I already knew them.”


You have never heard, you have never known,

from of old your ear has not been opened.

For I knew that you would deal very treacherously,

and that from birth you were called a rebel.



For my name’s sake I defer my anger,

for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,

so that I may not cut you off.


See, I have refined you, but not like silver;

I have tested you in the furnace of adversity.


For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,

for why should my name be profaned?

My glory I will not give to another.



Listen to me, O Jacob,

and Israel, whom I called:

I am He; I am the first,

and I am the last.


My hand laid the foundation of the earth,

and my right hand spread out the heavens;

when I summon them,

they stand at attention.



Assemble, all of you, and hear!

Who among them has declared these things?

The L ord loves him;

he shall perform his purpose on Babylon,

and his arm shall be against the Chaldeans.


I, even I, have spoken and called him,

I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way.


Draw near to me, hear this!

From the beginning I have not spoken in secret,

from the time it came to be I have been there.

And now the Lord G od has sent me and his spirit.



Thus says the L ord,

your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

I am the L ord your God,

who teaches you for your own good,

who leads you in the way you should go.


O that you had paid attention to my commandments!

Then your prosperity would have been like a river,

and your success like the waves of the sea;


your offspring would have been like the sand,

and your descendants like its grains;

their name would never be cut off

or destroyed from before me.



Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea,

declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it,

send it forth to the end of the earth;

say, “The L ord has redeemed his servant Jacob!”


They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;

he made water flow for them from the rock;

he split open the rock and the water gushed out.



“There is no peace,” says the L ord, “for the wicked.”


17. Thus saith Jehovah. I connect this verse with the four following verses, because they relate to the same subject, and because in them the Lord promises deliverance to his people, but in such a manner as first to shew that it was through their own fault that they were reduced to slavery; that is, that the people might not murmur and object that it would have been better to be kept in their native country, if the Lord wished to assist them, than to be carried away and brought back; for physicians who cure a disease which they might have prevented, are held to be less entitled to thanks. The Prophet therefore meets this, and says that this befell the people through their own fault, and that they might have escaped this destruction, if they had attended to the commandments of the Lord. He shews, therefore, that this was a just reward of the wickedness of the people; for it was not the Lord who had formerly prevented the people from enjoying prosperity, but they had rejected his grace. And yet he declares that the Lord will go beyond this wickedness by his goodness, because he will not suffer his people to perish, though he afflict them for a time.

Teaching thee profitably. He means that God’s “teaching” is such that it might keep the people safe and sound, if they would only rest upon it. Now, the Lord “teaches,” not for his own sake, but in order to promote our salvation; for what profit could we yield to him? It is therefore by “teaching” that he makes provision for the advantage of each of us, that, having been instructed by it, we may enjoy prosperity. But since, through our ingratitude, we reject the benefit that is freely offered to us, what remains but that we shall miserably perish? Justly, therefore, does Isaiah reproach the Jews that, if they had not defrauded themselves of the benefit of teaching, nothing that was profitable for their salvation would have been hidden from them. And if these things were said of the Law, that the Lord, by means of it, “taught his people profitably,” what shall we say of the Gospel, in which everything that is profitable for us is very fully explained? 238238     “When God the Redeemer says here that he ‘teacheth his people, להועיל (lehognil) to profit,’ and that he provides for their true interests, there can be no doubt that he makes this declaration concerning himself, κατ᾿ ἀντίθεσιν by way of contrast with Idols, false gods, the worship of which not only did no good, but even did harm, and brought great hurt and damage to their worshippers. (Compare Isaiah 44:10, and 45:19.) Hence also God says by, Jeremiah 2:11, ‘Is there any nation that changeth its gods, though they are not gods? But my people have changed their glory בלא יועיל (belo yognil) for that from which they derive no advantage;’ or rather, from which they suffer the greatest loss and damage.” — Vitringa.

Hence, also, it is manifest, how shocking is the blasphemy of the Papists who say that the reading of the Holy Scripture is dangerous and hurtful, in order to terrify unlearned persons 239239     “Afin de destourner les idiots (qu’ils appellent) de lira dedans.” “In order to dissuade idiots (as they call them) from reading it.” from reading it. Shall they then accuse God of falsehood, who declares, by the mouth of the Prophet, that it is “profitable?” Do they wish us to believe them rather than God? Though they impudently vomit out their blasphemies, we certainly ought not to be dissuaded from the study of it; for we shall learn by actual experience with what truthfulness Isaiah spoke, if we treat the Holy Scriptures with piety and reverence.

Leading thee. These words shew more clearly the profitableness which was mentioned a little before. He means that the way of salvation is pointed out to us, if we hearken to God when he speaks; for he is ready to become our guide during the whole course of our life, if we will only obey him. In this manner Moses testifies that he “set before the people life and death.” (Deuteronomy 30:19.) Again, it is said, (Isaiah 30:21,) “This is the way, walk ye in it;” for the rule of a holy life is contained in the Law, which cannot deceive. “I command thee,” says Moses, “that thou love the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways, and keep his commandments and statutes and judgments, that thou mayest live and be multiplied, and that the Lord may bless thee in the land which thou goest to possess.” (Deuteronomy 30:16.) In a word, they who submissively yield obedience are not destitute either of counsel or of the light of understanding.

18. O if thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! As the people might complain of being carried into captivity, the Prophet, intending to meet those murmurs, points out the cause, which was, that they did not submit to the doctrine of salvation, and did not allow themselves to derive any advantage from it. He undoubtedly alludes to the song of Moses, in which very nearly the same form of expression occurs, “O that they were wise, and that they understood!” (Deuteronomy 32:29.) לוא (lu) denotes a wish, O if! or, Would that!

Not only does the Lord expostulate with the Jews for having disregarded the advantage, or “profitableness,” (verse 17,) which was offered to them, but like a father, he deplores the wretchedness of his children; for he takes no pleasure in our distresses, and is not severe, unless when we constrain him by our wickedness. This is therefore a figurative appropriation of human affections, by which God compassionates the ruin of those who chose rather to perish of their own accord than to be saved; for he was ready to bestow blessings of every kind, if we did not drive him away by our obstinacy. Yet it would be foolish to attempt to penetrate into his secret counsel, and to inquire why he did not add the efficacy of the Spirit to the external word; for nothing is said here about his power, but there is only a reproof of the hard-heartedness of men, that they may be rendered inexcusable. Certainly, whenever God invites us to himself, there is clearly laid before us, in his word, complete happiness, which we wickedly reject.

Then would thy peace have been as a river. The word peace, as we have formerly explained, 240240     See Commentary on Isaiah, vol. 1, p 312; vol. 2, pp. 214, 227. denotes all prosperous events. It is as if he had said, “The richest plenty of spiritual blessings would have flowed to thee abundantly, and thou wouldst have had no occasion to dread any change; because the blessing of God upon believers is never dried up.

And thy righteousness as the waves of the sea. We might explain righteousness, which he connects with peace, to mean what is expressed by the familiar phrase (ton bon droict) “thy right.” But I choose rather to understand by the word “Righteousness” a well regulated commonwealth, in which everything is administered in a regular and orderly manner; as if he had said, “Thou wouldest have had everything well conducted at home, and wouldest have had plenty and abundance of all things.” And properly does he connect this condition with “peace;” for when government is overtumed, everything goes wrong and is out of order, and it is utterly impossible that we shall enjoy “peace,” if there be not “righteousness,” that is, a just and equitable administration of affairs. If, therefore, we are desirous of “peace,” let us likewise wish to have that blessed condition on which the Lord bestows his blessing. Here some commentators speculate about spiritual “righteousness,” and the forgiveness of sins; but they wander far from the Prophet’s meaning, which is plain and obvious.

19. Thy seed would have been as the sand. This also relates to a happy life, when progeny is multiplied, by whose aid the labors of the old are alleviated, and which “resists the adversaries in the gate.” The Psalmist compares such children to “arrows shot by a strong hand,” and pronounces him to be “blessed who hath his quiver full of them;” that is, who has a large number of such children. (Psalm 127:4, 5.)

When he mentions sand, he appears to allude to the promise which was made to Abraham,

“I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is on the sea-shore.” (Genesis 22:17.)

And he repeats the same sentiment in various words; according to the usage of the Hebrew writings, substituting children for “seed,” and small stones for “sand.” In a word, he shews that the people prevented God from causing them to enjoy the fruit of that promise.

His name would not have been cut off. Coming down to the interruption of this favor, he next reproaches them in more direct terms with having sought for dispersion, after having been miraculously collected by the hand of God; for by the word name he means the lawful condition of the people, which would always have flourished, if the blessing had not been tumed aside front its course. What he says about the people having been “cut off,” must be understood to refer to the land of Canaan, from which the people of God had been cast out, and thus appeared to have been thrust out of their Father’s house; for the Temple, of which they were deprived, was a symbol of God’s presence, and the land itself was a pledge or earnest of a blessed inheritance. Being driven into captivity, therefore, the people appeared to have been cut off and banished from the presence of God, and had no token of the divine assistance, if the Lord had not soothed their affliction by those promises. Now, we ought carefully to observe this distress, that, when they had been banished into a distant country, they had no temple, or sacrifices, or religious assemblies; for they who in the present day have no form of a Church, 241241     “Nulle forme d’Eglise.” no use of sacraments, and no administration of the word, ought to look upon themselves as being in some measure cast out from the presence of God, and should learn to desire, and continually to ask by earnest prayer, the restoration of the Church.

20. Go out of Babylon. This is the second clause of this remonstrance, in which the Lord solemnly declares that he will be the Redeemer of his people, though they have been unworthy and ungrateful. After having declared that he performed the office of a good teacher, but that the people refused to hearken to him, so that by their own fault they drew down on themselves the punishment of captivity, he now declares his unwearied forbearance, by adding that he will still assist them, in order to bring them out of slavery. He therefore commands them to go out of the land of Babylon, in which they were captives. Hence we see that God, in his unspeakable goodness, though he has just cause to remonstrate with us, yet relieves our afflictions, and assists those who had been unworthy, and even who had insolently rejected his grace.

With the voice ofrejoicing. This relates to the confirmation of the deliverance, for he intended to give assurance to a promise which was altogether incredible. In order, therefore, to remove all doubt, he employed lofty language in extolling this blessing.

Tell it. He describes the strength of that confidence by which he wished to encourage the Jews; for we are wont to utter loudly and boldly those things of which we are certain, and, if we have any doubt, we scarcely venture to speak, and are dumb. Isaiah speaks of a future event as if it had actually arrived, that the people might cherish in their hearts greater and stronger confidence He makes use of the imperative mood, which is much more forcible, and produces a more powerful impression on our minds, than if he had expressed his meaning in plain terms.

21. Therefore they thirsted not. Because the Jews did not see the way opened up for their return, and because great and dangerous wildernesses intervened, the Prophet asserts the power of God, and brings forward examples of it, that they may not be terrified by any difficulty. He therefore bids them consider whether or not God had sufficient power to rescue their fathers from the slavery of Egypt, and to lead them through desolate wildernesses, in which he supplied them with food and water and everything that was necessary for them. (Exodus 16 and 17; Numbers 20.) Here the Jews, according to their custom, contrive absurd fables, and invent miracles which were never performed; and they do this, not through ignorance, but through presumption, by which anything that is plausible, though there be no ground whatever for it, easily gains their support.

The design of the Prophet was to recall to their remembrance the former departure from Egypt, and the miracles which the Lord performed at that time, which we have already remarked to be customary with the Prophets, when they wish to extol in lofty terms the works of God. Thus David, when he was celebrating the victories which he had obtained, says that

“the mountains trembled and flowed down, that the air was cleft asunder, and that the Lord was seen from heaven,”
(Psalm 18:7,)

though nothing of this kind ever happened to him; but he imitates the description of the deliverance from Egypt, in order to shew that God, who was the author of it, had also been his supporter and leader in conquering his enemies, and that the power of God ought not to be less acknowledged in his victory than in those signs and wonders.

In like manner the Prophet wishes that the people should now contemplate those miracles, in order to correct their unbelief, and that they may not be tempted by any distrust. The holy servants of God were always accustomed to cast their eyes on that deliverance, in order that, by the remembrance of so great a benefit, they might strengthen the hearts of all in hope and confidence; as we have formerly said that it was the duty of believers in every age to expect the fruit of this redemption, that the Lord, by uninterrupted progress, might be the guardian of a redeemed people. Thus Isaiah means that the Lord will easily surmount every obstacle, will open up a way which is shut, and will supply them abundantly with water, so that they shall not die of thirst, in the same manner as he formerly brought water out of rock by an extraordinary miracle, when the people thought that their condition was hopeless; and consequently, that there is no reason why they should despair of their return, if they wish to contemplate, and cordially to believe, that power of God which they have already experienced.

22. There is no peace, saith Jehovah to the wicked. These words, “saith the Lord,” are included by some commentators in a parenthesis; but we view them as having this connection with what goes before, that the Lord denies to wicked men that “peace” of which they are unworthy. 242242     Our author means that, instead of reading the words thus, “There is no peace to the wicked, saith Jehovah,” he prefers to read them, “Jehovah saith to the wicked, There is no peace.” — Ed. And this is expressly added, that hypocrites might not, according to their custom, cherish false confidence in these promises; for he declares that the promises do not belong to them, in order to shut them out altogether from the hope of salvation. But Isaiah appears also to have had his eye on something else; for, since the greater part of the people, under the influence of impiety, rejected this blessing, many weak and feeble persons might hesitate and might be terrified by the opinion of the multitude; 243243     “These words relate to those Jews who, being obstinately devoted to idolatry, and having settled down in Babylon, chose to remain there rather than to return to their native country and the religious worship of Jehovah. He declares, therefore, that such persons shall not have the happiness that is promised to those who shall return to their native habitations.” — Rosenmuller. as in our own day we see feeble consciences disturbed, when they see the greater part of men despise the doctrine of salvation. Beholding many persons placed in danger, he tums away their minds from such a temptation, that they may not be troubled by the multitude of wicked and unbelieving men, who reject the grace of God and this prosperous condition, but that, without paying any regard to those men, they may embrace and enjoy this benefit.

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