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The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

The Wickedness of Judah


Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth;

for the L ord has spoken:

I reared children and brought them up,

but they have rebelled against me.


The ox knows its owner,

and the donkey its master’s crib;

but Israel does not know,

my people do not understand.



Ah, sinful nation,

people laden with iniquity,

offspring who do evil,

children who deal corruptly,

who have forsaken the L ord,

who have despised the Holy One of Israel,

who are utterly estranged!



Why do you seek further beatings?

Why do you continue to rebel?

The whole head is sick,

and the whole heart faint.


From the sole of the foot even to the head,

there is no soundness in it,

but bruises and sores

and bleeding wounds;

they have not been drained, or bound up,

or softened with oil.



Your country lies desolate,

your cities are burned with fire;

in your very presence

aliens devour your land;

it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.


And daughter Zion is left

like a booth in a vineyard,

like a shelter in a cucumber field,

like a besieged city.


If the L ord of hosts

had not left us a few survivors,

we would have been like Sodom,

and become like Gomorrah.



Hear the word of the L ord,

you rulers of Sodom!

Listen to the teaching of our God,

you people of Gomorrah!


What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?

says the L ord;

I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams

and the fat of fed beasts;

I do not delight in the blood of bulls,

or of lambs, or of goats.



When you come to appear before me,

who asked this from your hand?

Trample my courts no more;


bringing offerings is futile;

incense is an abomination to me.

New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation—

I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.


Your new moons and your appointed festivals

my soul hates;

they have become a burden to me,

I am weary of bearing them.


When you stretch out your hands,

I will hide my eyes from you;

even though you make many prayers,

I will not listen;

your hands are full of blood.


Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;

remove the evil of your doings

from before my eyes;

cease to do evil,


learn to do good;

seek justice,

rescue the oppressed,

defend the orphan,

plead for the widow.



Come now, let us argue it out,

says the L ord:

though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be like snow;

though they are red like crimson,

they shall become like wool.


If you are willing and obedient,

you shall eat the good of the land;


but if you refuse and rebel,

you shall be devoured by the sword;

for the mouth of the L ord has spoken.


The Degenerate City


How the faithful city

has become a whore!

She that was full of justice,

righteousness lodged in her—

but now murderers!


Your silver has become dross,

your wine is mixed with water.


Your princes are rebels

and companions of thieves.

Everyone loves a bribe

and runs after gifts.

They do not defend the orphan,

and the widow’s cause does not come before them.



Therefore says the Sovereign, the L ord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel:

Ah, I will pour out my wrath on my enemies,

and avenge myself on my foes!


I will turn my hand against you;

I will smelt away your dross as with lye

and remove all your alloy.


And I will restore your judges as at the first,

and your counselors as at the beginning.

Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness,

the faithful city.



Zion shall be redeemed by justice,

and those in her who repent, by righteousness.


But rebels and sinners shall be destroyed together,

and those who forsake the L ord shall be consumed.


For you shall be ashamed of the oaks

in which you delighted;

and you shall blush for the gardens

that you have chosen.


For you shall be like an oak

whose leaf withers,

and like a garden without water.


The strong shall become like tinder,

and their work like a spark;

they and their work shall burn together,

with no one to quench them.


7. Your country is desolate Literally, it is desolation; and thus Isaiah goes on to speak more fully and plainly of what he had already said figuratively about chastisements, that the country has been reduced to a frightful state of devastation: for I choose to interpret all those statements as relating to past occurrences, because the Prophet does not threaten the vengeance of God, but describes those heavy calamities which have already happened. He upbraids them with indolence and stupidity in remaining unmoved by their afflictions.

Like the destruction of strangers 1818     In the English version it runs, as overthrown by strangers; and the marginal reading, adhering more closely to the Hebrew idiom, is, as the overthrow of strangers. The interpretation rejected by Calvin has been approved by some able critics; and Lowth, distrusting the philological views given by his predecessors, has resorted to a conjectural alteration of the Hebrew text: — “This reading, though confirmed by all the ancient versions, gives us no good sense; for your land is devoured by strangers, and is desolate as if overthrown by strangers, is a mere tautology, or, what is as bad, an identical comparison. Aben Ezra thought that the word, in its present form, might be taken for the same with זרם, an inundation. Schultens is of the same opinion, (see Taylor’s Concord;) and Schindler, in his Lexicon, explains it in the same manner, and so, says Kimchi, some explain it.” After enumerating the attempts of Abendana “to reconcile it to grammatical analogy,” he adds, “but I rather suppose the true reading to be זרם, and have translated it accordingly: the word זרים, in the line above, seems to have caught the transcriber’s eye, and to have led him into this mistake.” — Notes on Isaiah. — Ed . This is added for the sake of heightening the picture; for the opinion that זרים (zarim) is here put for זרם (zerem), an inundation, is farfetched. That word might no doubt be applied to enemies, but it is better to take it as literally denoting foreigners. The calamity is more grievous when it is brought on by men who are unknown, and who have come from a distant country, who lay waste with far greater recklessness and cruelty than neighboring tribes. Such men destroy cities, burn houses, buildings, and villages, and spread desolation all around. In short, they rush forward with barbarous ferocity, bent on murders and conflagrations, and are more eager to inflict damage than to make gain. But neighbors, when they have subdued a country, can retain possession of it by having a garrison, and as soon as a revolt is attempted, or an insurrection takes place, can send additional troops; and therefore they are not so cruel; nor do they lay waste a country from which they hope to derive some advantage. It is therefore no ordinary calamity, but the most shocking of all calamities, that is here described.

Hence we ought to learn that, when God begins to punish us, if we do not repent, he does not immediately desist, but multiplies the chastisements, and continually follows them up with other afflictions. We ought therefore to abstain from such obstinacy, if we do not wish to draw down upon ourselves the same punishments, or at least to deserve the same reproach which was brought against the Jews, that though they had received sharp warnings, and had felt the hand of God, still they could not be corrected or reformed.

Moreover, we ought not to wonder that we are visited with so great an amount and variety of afflictions, of which we see no end or limit, for by our obstinacy we fight with God and with his stripes. It must therefore happen with us as with wincing and unruly horses, which, the more obstinate and refractory they are, have the whip and spur applied to them with greater severity. In the present day there are many who almost accuse God of cruelty, as if he always treated us with harshness, and as if he ought to chastise us more gently; but they do not take into account our shocking crimes. If those crimes were duly weighed by them, they would assuredly acknowledge that, amidst the utmost severity, the forbearance of God is wonderful; and that we may not think that in this case the Lord was too severe, we must take into consideration the vices which he afterwards enumerates.

Here an objection will be started. Why does Isaiah declare that the nation endured such a variety of afflictions, while we have already mentioned that he began to prophesy under Uzziah, 1919     Called also Azariah, 2 Kings 15:1. — Ed. during whose reign the kingdom of Judah was in a prosperous condition? (2 Chronicles 26:5-15.) For although, towards the end of his life, the kingdom of Israel met with some disasters, still this did not affect the kingdom of Judah. Accordingly, the Jews think that these words relate to the reign of Jotham, (2 Kings 15:32,) and not of Uzziah. Their opinion appears at first sight to have little weight; and yet, when the whole matter is examined, it is not destitute of probability; for we know that the prophets did not always attend to chronological arrangement in collecting their prophecies; and it is possible that this discourse of Isaiah was placed first in order for no other reason but because it contains a summary view of that doctrine which is afterwards to be delivered.

Others think that they can easily get rid of the difficulty by interpreting the whole passage as a description of vice, and not of punishments; but what is said about the burning of cities and about the desolation of the country cannot easily be disposed of in that manner. If it is supposed that the Prophet speaks of the future and not the present condition of that kingdom, and that in the name of God he foretells approaching calamities, though they did not behold them with their eyes, I do not greatly object to that view, though it is probable that he treats of events which were known to them. It is a real narrative, and not a prediction, though in the next verse I acknowledge he announces the approaching result.

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