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The Song of the Unfruitful Vineyard


Let me sing for my beloved

my love-song concerning his vineyard:

My beloved had a vineyard

on a very fertile hill.


He dug it and cleared it of stones,

and planted it with choice vines;

he built a watchtower in the midst of it,

and hewed out a wine vat in it;

he expected it to yield grapes,

but it yielded wild grapes.



And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem

and people of Judah,

judge between me

and my vineyard.


What more was there to do for my vineyard

that I have not done in it?

When I expected it to yield grapes,

why did it yield wild grapes?



And now I will tell you

what I will do to my vineyard.

I will remove its hedge,

and it shall be devoured;

I will break down its wall,

and it shall be trampled down.


I will make it a waste;

it shall not be pruned or hoed,

and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;

I will also command the clouds

that they rain no rain upon it.



For the vineyard of the L ord of hosts

is the house of Israel,

and the people of Judah

are his pleasant planting;

he expected justice,

but saw bloodshed;


but heard a cry!

Social Injustice Denounced


Ah, you who join house to house,

who add field to field,

until there is room for no one but you,

and you are left to live alone

in the midst of the land!


The L ord of hosts has sworn in my hearing:

Surely many houses shall be desolate,

large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant.


For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath,

and a homer of seed shall yield a mere ephah.



Ah, you who rise early in the morning

in pursuit of strong drink,

who linger in the evening

to be inflamed by wine,


whose feasts consist of lyre and harp,

tambourine and flute and wine,

but who do not regard the deeds of the L ord,

or see the work of his hands!


Therefore my people go into exile without knowledge;

their nobles are dying of hunger,

and their multitude is parched with thirst.



Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite

and opened its mouth beyond measure;

the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude go down,

her throng and all who exult in her.


People are bowed down, everyone is brought low,

and the eyes of the haughty are humbled.


But the L ord of hosts is exalted by justice,

and the Holy God shows himself holy by righteousness.


Then the lambs shall graze as in their pasture,

fatlings and kids shall feed among the ruins.



Ah, you who drag iniquity along with cords of falsehood,

who drag sin along as with cart ropes,


who say, “Let him make haste,

let him speed his work

that we may see it;

let the plan of the Holy One of Israel hasten to fulfillment,

that we may know it!”


Ah, you who call evil good

and good evil,

who put darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!


Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes,

and shrewd in your own sight!


Ah, you who are heroes in drinking wine

and valiant at mixing drink,


who acquit the guilty for a bribe,

and deprive the innocent of their rights!

Foreign Invasion Predicted


Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,

and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,

so their root will become rotten,

and their blossom go up like dust;

for they have rejected the instruction of the L ord of hosts,

and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.



Therefore the anger of the L ord was kindled against his people,

and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them;

the mountains quaked,

and their corpses were like refuse

in the streets.

For all this his anger has not turned away,

and his hand is stretched out still.



He will raise a signal for a nation far away,

and whistle for a people at the ends of the earth;

Here they come, swiftly, speedily!


None of them is weary, none stumbles,

none slumbers or sleeps,

not a loincloth is loose,

not a sandal-thong broken;


their arrows are sharp,

all their bows bent,

their horses’ hoofs seem like flint,

and their wheels like the whirlwind.


Their roaring is like a lion,

like young lions they roar;

they growl and seize their prey,

they carry it off, and no one can rescue.


They will roar over it on that day,

like the roaring of the sea.

And if one look to the land—

only darkness and distress;

and the light grows dark with clouds.


26. And he will lift up an ensign to the nations. In this and the following verses he describes the nature of the punishment which the Lord would inflict on his people; namely, that they were about to suffer from the Assyrians a similar, or even a heavier calamity, than that which their brethren the Israelites had lately endured. Many distresses had indeed been suffered by themselves from the Assyrians, though the kingdom of Judah was not yet overturned. Besides, what had befallen the kingdom of Israel might be viewed as a mirror in which they could behold God’s wrath and righteous chastisement.

And yet this prediction, though it was accompanied by clear proofs, must undoubtedly have appeared to be incredible; for at that time they enjoyed repose, and the slightest truce of any kind easily laid them asleep. He says, therefore, that this calamity will come to them from distant nations, from whom nothing of this kind was expected; and he sounds an alarm as if the enemy were already at hand. It is not for the sake of soothing their fear that he uses those words, from afar, and from the end of the earth; but, on the contrary, he speaks in this manner for the express purpose of informing them that they ought not to judge of the anger of God from what meets the eye, for we are wont to judge of dangers from the outward appearance of things. Now, if the enemies are not so near, or if other circumstances hinder them from giving us immediate annoyance, we give ourselves no concern. Thus the people were lulled into a profound sleep, as if there were no danger to be dreaded. But Isaiah says that this will not hinder the Lord from erecting a banner, and instantly commissioning the Assyrians to slaughter them. The expression is metaphorical; for when a banner is displayed it is customary for soldiers, at the bidding of their general, to advance in hostile array and rush into the battle.

He will hiss to it. 8888     Sibilabit ad eam. In the version prefixed to the Commentary on this chapter, our Author has likewise observed here the singular number, sibilabit genti, he will hiss to the nation. Bishop Stock, following Bishop Lowth, renders ושקר לו, (veshakar lo,) he will hiss to every one of them. — Ed Though a change of number frequently occurs in Scripture, yet it is on solid grounds that the Prophet, by changing the number, makes many nations to be but one nation. The meaning is, that when it shall please God to assemble various nations, and form them into one body, it will not be a confused multitude, but will resemble a body which has a visible head that rules and guides. He chose to employ the word hiss rather than a word of weightier import, such as sound a trumpet, or anything of that sort; in order to show that God does not need to sound a trumpet in order to call the enemies to battle, and that he has no difficulty in inflicting punishment when the time for taking vengeance is fully at hand, for by a mere nod he can accomplish the whole. 8989     “The metaphor is taken from the practice of those that keep bees, who draw them out of their hives into the fields, and lead them back again, συρίσμασι, by a hiss or a whistle;” Cyril on the place: and to the same purpose Theodoret, ibid. In Isaiah 7:18, the metaphor is more apparent by being carried further, where the hostile armies are expressed by the fly and the bee: —
   “Jehovah shall hist the fly,
That is in the utmost parts of Egypt;
And the bee, that is in the land of Assyria.”

   On which place see Deuteronomy 1:44; Psalm 118:12. — Lowth.

And lo, it will come speedy and swift. This confirms still more what I have already observed, that we ought not to judge of the anger of the Lord from the present appearance of things; for although everything appears to give assurances of peace, yet suddenly war will break out from a quarter from which we do not expect it. Even though we think that we are defended on all sides by friends, yet God will stir up enemies from the farthest corners of the earth, who will break through every obstruction, and overtake us with ease, as if the way were plain and smooth. This ought to be carefully observed, that we may not suffer ourselves to be blinded by vain presumption and foolish confidence.

We ought also to observe that wars are not kindled accidentally, or by an arrangement of men, but by the command of God, as if he assembled the soldiers by the sound of a trumpet. Whether, therefore, we are afflicted by battle, or by famine, or by pestilence, let us know that all this comes from the hand of God, for all things obey him and follow his direction. And yet it was not the intention of the Chaldeans to obey God, for they were hurried on by their eagerness to obtain wealth and power, while he has quite another object in view: but God employs their agency for executing his judgments. Hence arises a remarkable and illustrious display of the power of God, which is not limited by the will of men, or dependent on their decisions, but leads them, though contrary to their wish, or without their knowledge, to obey him. And yet it is no excuse for the ungodly that they are drawn contrary to the disposition of their mind, and do not willingly serve God, for they aim at nothing else than fraud, cruelty, and violence; and by their cruelty God punishes the transgressions and crimes of his people.

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