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Injustice and Oppression to Be Punished


See, the L ord’s hand is not too short to save,

nor his ear too dull to hear.


Rather, your iniquities have been barriers

between you and your God,

and your sins have hidden his face from you

so that he does not hear.


For your hands are defiled with blood,

and your fingers with iniquity;

your lips have spoken lies,

your tongue mutters wickedness.


No one brings suit justly,

no one goes to law honestly;

they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,

conceiving mischief and begetting iniquity.


They hatch adders’ eggs,

and weave the spider’s web;

whoever eats their eggs dies,

and the crushed egg hatches out a viper.


Their webs cannot serve as clothing;

they cannot cover themselves with what they make.

Their works are works of iniquity,

and deeds of violence are in their hands.


Their feet run to evil,

and they rush to shed innocent blood;

their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity,

desolation and destruction are in their highways.


The way of peace they do not know,

and there is no justice in their paths.

Their roads they have made crooked;

no one who walks in them knows peace.



Therefore justice is far from us,

and righteousness does not reach us;

we wait for light, and lo! there is darkness;

and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.


We grope like the blind along a wall,

groping like those who have no eyes;

we stumble at noon as in the twilight,

among the vigorous as though we were dead.


We all growl like bears;

like doves we moan mournfully.

We wait for justice, but there is none;

for salvation, but it is far from us.


For our transgressions before you are many,

and our sins testify against us.

Our transgressions indeed are with us,

and we know our iniquities:


transgressing, and denying the L ord,

and turning away from following our God,

talking oppression and revolt,

conceiving lying words and uttering them from the heart.


Justice is turned back,

and righteousness stands at a distance;

for truth stumbles in the public square,

and uprightness cannot enter.


Truth is lacking,

and whoever turns from evil is despoiled.


The L ord saw it, and it displeased him

that there was no justice.


He saw that there was no one,

and was appalled that there was no one to intervene;

so his own arm brought him victory,

and his righteousness upheld him.


He put on righteousness like a breastplate,

and a helmet of salvation on his head;

he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,

and wrapped himself in fury as in a mantle.


According to their deeds, so will he repay;

wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies;

to the coastlands he will render requital.


So those in the west shall fear the name of the L ord,

and those in the east, his glory;

for he will come like a pent-up stream

that the wind of the L ord drives on.



And he will come to Zion as Redeemer,

to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the L ord.

21 And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the L ord: my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the L ord, from now on and forever.


16. He saw that there was no man. Isaiah continues the same subject, but expresses more, and relates more fully what he had briefly noticed; for what he said in the preceding verse, that “it displeased the Lord that there was no judgment,” might have been obscure. In this passage he repeats that the Lord saw that “there was no man” 145145     “And now, when God repents on account of the evil which he has brought on the people, he sees that there is not a righteous man to stand in the gap. (Ezekiel 22:30)” ­ Jarchi.
“Rosenmuller, Umbrett, and others, follow Jarchi in supposing איש (ish) to be emphatic and to signify a man of the right sort, a man equal to the occasion. This explanation derives some color from the analogy of Jeremiah 5:1; but even there, and still more here, the strength of the expression is increased rather than diminished by taking this phrase in the simple sense of nobody. What was wanted was not merely a qualified man, but any man whatever, to maintain the cause of Israel and Jehovah.” ­ Alexander
to render assistance to the Church, and that he wondered. He makes use of the verb ישתומם (yishtomem) in the Hithpahel conjugation, 146146     The verb אשתומם (yishtomem) denotes a man who stands, and wonders, and remains silent through his wonder.” ­ Jarchi for the purpose of denoting that the Lord was the cause of his own astonishment; as if he had said, “He made himself astonished.”

He wondered that none came forward. Some think that מפגיע (maphgiang) means an intercessor; but I think that the meaning is this, that there was none who endeavored to relieve their affliction, that there was no physician who applied his hand to this wound, and that for this reason God “wondered.” The reason why he attributes to God this astonishment may be easily understood. By this rebuke he intended to put the Jews to shame, that they might not, according to their custom, resort to hypocritical pretenses for concealing their sins; and, because it was incredible and monstrous that there was not found in a holy and elect people any one that opposed injustice, he represents God as astonished at such a novelty, that the Jews may at length be ashamed and repent. Was it possible that there could be greater obstinacy of which they ought to be ashamed, since by their wickedness they moved God to astonishment?

At the same time he rebukes their hypocrisy, if they pretend to have eminent piety and holiness, when God, after a diligent search, did not find even one upright man. He likewise praises and magnifies the unspeakable mercy of God, in condescending to rescue, as if from the depths of hell, a people whose condition was so desperate; for the Jews were undoubtedly reminded by these words in what manner they ought to hope for redemption; namely, because God is pleased to rise up miraculously to save what was lost. Besides, by the word “wonder” he describes also God’s fatherly care. It is certain that God is not liable to those passions, so as to wonder at anything as new or uncommon; but he accommodates himself to us, in order that, being deeply moved by a conviction of our evils, we may view our condition with horror. Thus, when he says that “the Lord saw,” he means that there is no help in our own industry; when he says that the Lord “wonders,” he means that we are excessively dull and stupid, because we neither perceive nor care for the evils of our condition; and yet that our indifference does not prevent the Lord from rendering assistance to his Church.

Therefore his arm brought (or, made) salvation to him. By these words he means that we ought not to despair, although we receive no assistance from men. Yet, reducing to nothing every other assistance, he pronounces the salvation of his own nation, and consequently of all mankind, to be owing, from first to last, to God’s undeserved goodness and absolute power. Thus, in like manner as, by asserting that God is abundantly sufficient for himself, and has power and strength sufficient to redeem the Jews, he stretches out his hand to the feeble; so, by saying that men can do nothing to promote their salvation, he abases all pride, that, being stripped of confidence in their works, they may approach to God. And we must observe this design of the Prophet; for, in reading the Prophets and Apostles, we must not merely consider what they say, but for what purpose, and with what design. Here, therefore, we ought chiefly to observe the design of the Prophet, that in God alone is there sufficient power for accomplishing our salvation, that we may not look hither and thither; for we are too much disposed to lean on external aids; but that we ought to place the hope of salvation nowhere else than on the arm of God, and that the true foundation of the Church is in his righteousness, and that they do wrong who depend on anything else; since God has borrowed nothing from any but himself.

The usefulness of this doctrine is still more extensive; for, although all remedies often fail us, yet the Lord will find sufficient assistance in his own arm. Whenever, therefore, we are destitute of men’s assistance, and are overwhelmed by calamities of every kind, and see nothing before us but ruin, let us betake ourselves to this doctrine, and let us rest assured that God is sufficiently powerful to defend us; and, since he has no need of the assistance of others, let us learn to rely firmly and confidently on his aid.

Yet we must keep in remembrance the universal doctrine, namely, that the redemption of the Church is a wonderful blessing bestowed by God alone, that we may not ascribe anything to the strength or industry of men. With abhorrence we ought to regard the pride of those who claim for themselves any part of that praise which belongs to God, since in him alone is found both the cause and the effect of our salvation.

And his righteousness, it upheld him. Here arm denotes power and strength, and righteousness denotes the integrity which he displays in procuring the salvation of his people, when he is their protector, and delivers them from destruction. 147147     “De mort.” “From death.” When he says that “the arm of God brought to him salvation,” this must not be limited to God, and ought not to be taken passively, as if God saved himself, but, actively; so that this salvation refers to the Church, which he has delivered from the bands of enemies.

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