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1. A Rebellious Nation

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

5Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

10Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. 11To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

16Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

21How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. 22Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: 23Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. 24Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:

25And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: 26And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city. 27Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

28And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed. 29For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. 30For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. 31And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

24. Therefore saith the lord, the LORD of hosts He first employs the word האדון, (haadon) which literally signifies lord, and expresses the relation to a servant. Next is added the word יהוה (Jehovah,) which denotes the eternal essence and majesty of God. After having laid open some kinds of crimes, which made it manifest that in that nation everything was corrupted, Isaiah, now wishing to threaten and to hold out to them the judgment of God, not only represents God as invested with the power and authority of a Judge, but at the same time reminds them that the children of Abraham are his peculiar people, and for this reason he immediately adds, the mighty One of Israel. There may also be implied in it a kind of irony, by which he stings the Jews, as if he had said that it was foolishness in them to boast of the name of God, seeing that they were worthless and unprincipled servants, and that it was vain for them to rely on his strength, which would immediately break forth against them. After this preface, he adds —

Ah! I will take consolation on my adversaries 2929     In our English version it runs, Ah! I will ease me of mine adversaries. — Ed. By these words he intimates that God will not be pacified until he has satiated himself with inflicting punishment. He employs the word consolation after the manner of men; for as anger is nothing else than the desire of revenge, so revenge gives relief to the mind, and he who has taken vengeance congratulates himself and is satisfied. By this course, which may be regarded as a kind of compensation, the Lord says that he will satisfy himself with inflicting punishment on his adversaries

There are various ways, indeed, of expounding this passage; and I shall not undertake the task of examining all the interpretations and refuting those which I do not approve: it will be enough if we ascertain the true meaning. He does not here speak of Chaldeans or Assyrians, as some imagine, but of Jews, to whom, in the character of a herald, he proclaims war in the name of the Lord. This threatening sounded harshly in their ears; for they supposed that they were joined in such a confederacy with God, that he was an adversary to their adversaries. He declares, on the other hand, that he is their enemy because he had so often been provoked by their crimes. In this manner we must shake off the slothfulness of hypocrites, who are continually waging war with God, and yet do not hesitate to allege that they enjoy his protection. We need not wonder, therefore, if the Prophet sternly pronounces them to be adversaries of God, who had broken the covenant, and had thus carried on war against him.

And yet, in order to show that he is unwillingly, as it were, constrained to inflict punishment on his people, God utters his threatening with a kind of groan. For as nothing is more agreeable to his nature than to do good, so whenever he is angry with us and treats us harshly, it is certain that our wickedness has compelled him to do so, because we do not allow his goodness to take its free course. More especially he is disposed to treat his own people with gentleness, and when he sees that there is no longer any room for his forbearance, he takes measures, as it were in sorrow, for inflicting punishment.

Some would rather choose perhaps to explain the particle הוי (hoi) as of God made this exclamation when aroused by anger. For my own part, I rather consider it, in this passage, to be an expression of grief; because God, being mindful of his covenant, would willingly spare his chosen people, were it not that pardon was entirely prevented by their obstinacy.

And avenge me of mine enemies In this second clause there is a reduplication, (ἀναδίπλωσις) a figure of speech customary with the Hebrews, who frequently express the same thing twice in one verse. Hence also we learn that the object of the statement is, that God cannot rest until he has taken vengeance on a wicked and treacherous people


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