Isaiah 1:11
To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me? said 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices? . . .—Isaiah carries on the great catena of prophetic utterances as to the conditions of acceptable worship (1Samuel 15:22; Psalm 40:6; Psalm 50:7-14; Psalm 51:16-17). In Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8 we have the utterances of contemporary prophets, who may have exercised a direct influence on his teaching. The description points primarily, perhaps, to the reign of Uzziah, but may include that of Hezekiah. The account of the sacrifices agrees with 2Chronicles 29:21-29.

Saith the Lord . . .—Here, as in Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 33:10; Isaiah 41:21; Isaiah 66:9, the prophet uses the future instead of the familiar past tense. This is what Jehovah will say, once and for ever.

Isaiah 1:11-12. To what purpose, &c., your sacrifices unto me? — Who am a Spirit, and therefore cannot be satisfied with such carnal oblations, but expect to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and to have your hearts and lives, as well as your bodies and sacrifices, presented unto me. I delight not in the blood, &c. — He mentions the fat and blood, because these were, in a peculiar manner, reserved for God, to intimate that even the best of their sacrifices were rejected by him. The prophets often speak of the ceremonies of Moses’s law as of no value, without that inward purity, and true spiritual worship, and devotedness to God, which were signified by them. This was a very proper method to prepare the minds of the Jews for the reception of the gospel, by which those ceremonies were to be abolished. When ye come to appear before me — Upon the three solemn feasts, or upon other occasions. Who hath required this at your hand? — The thing I commanded was not only, nor chiefly, that you should offer external sacrifices, but that you should do it with true repentance, with faith in my promises, and sincere resolutions of devoting yourselves to my service.1:10-15 Judea was desolate, and their cities burned. This awakened them to bring sacrifices and offerings, as if they would bribe God to remove the punishment, and give them leave to go on in their sin. Many who will readily part with their sacrifices, will not be persuaded to part with their sins. They relied on the mere form as a service deserving a reward. The most costly devotions of wicked people, without thorough reformation of heart and life, cannot be acceptable to God. He not only did not accept them, but he abhorred them. All this shows that sin is very hateful to God. If we allow ourselves in secret sin, or forbidden indulgences; if we reject the salvation of Christ, our very prayers will become abomination.To what purpose - לי למה lâmâh lı̂y. 'What is it to me; or what profit or pleasure can I have in them?' God here replies to an objection which might be urged by the Jews to the representation which had been made of their guilt. The objection would be, that they were strict in the duties of their religion, and that they even abounded in offering victims of sacrifice. God replies in this and the following verses, that all this would be of no use, and would meet with no acceptance, unless it were the offering of the heart. He demanded righteousness; and without that, all external offerings would be vain. The same sentiment often occurs in the Old Testament.

Hath Jehovah as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices

As in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

And to hearken than the fat of rams.

11. God does not here absolutely disparage sacrifice, which is as old and universal as sin (Ge 3:21; 4:4), and sin is almost as old as the world; but sacrifice, unaccompanied with obedience of heart and life (1Sa 15:22; Ps 50:9-13; 51:16-19; Ho 6:6). Positive precepts are only means; moral obedience is the end. A foreshadowing of the gospel, when the One real sacrifice was to supersede all the shadowy ones, and "bring in everlasting righteousness" (Ps 40:6, 7; Da 9:24-27; Heb 10:1-14).

full—to satiety; weary of

burnt offerings—burnt whole, except the blood, which was sprinkled about the altar.

fat—not to be eaten by man, but burnt on the altar (Le 3:4, 5, 11, 17).

To what purpose? they are vain and useless, being neither accepted by me, nor beneficial to you.

Unto me, who am a Spirit, and therefore cannot be satisfied with such carnal oblations, but expect to be worshipped in spirit and truth, and to have your hearts and lives, as well as, your bodies and sacrifices, presented unto me.

I am full of the burnt-offerings; I am glutted with them, and therefore loathe them.

The blood; he mentions the fat and blood, because these were in a peculiar manner reserved for God, Leviticus 3:15,16 17:11, to intimate that even the best of their sacrifices were rejected by him. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord,.... These people, though they neglected the weightier matters of the law, and the more substantial duties of religion, as did the Scribes and Pharisees in Christ's time, Matthew 23:23 yet were very diligent in the observance of the ceremonial law, and repeated their sacrifices almost without number, on which they placed all their trust and dependence; wherefore, to take off their confidence in these things, the Lord observes to them the unprofitableness of them; they could be of no avail to them, for they could not expiate their sins, or atone for them; and they could not be profitable to God, for he had no need of them; see Psalm 50:10.

I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; to the loathing of them, and therefore would no more eat their flesh, and drink their blood, or accept of them in sacrifice, Psalm 50:13 "rams" were used for burnt offerings, Exodus 29:18, Leviticus 1:10 and the fat of any creature offered in sacrifice was burnt, and forbidden to be eaten by men, Leviticus 1:8, Leviticus 1:15.

and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats: as he did in moral services, in acts of beneficence and mercy, and in sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, 1 Samuel 15:22, Hosea 6:6 much less did he delight in the sacrifices of these creatures, as offered by such wicked hands and without faith in the blood and sacrifice of Christ; and still less when these were superseded and abrogated by Christ; for this prophecy belongs to the times of the apostles, as appears from Isaiah 1:9 see Psalm 40:6. The several creatures mentioned were used in sacrifice, and their blood was sprinkled round about the altar, Leviticus 3:2 and before the vail, Leviticus 4:6.

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I {s} delight not in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of male goats.

(s) Although God commanded these sacrifices for a time, as aids and exercises of their faith, yet because the people did not have faith or repentance, God detests them, Ps 50:13, Jer 6:20, Am 5:22, Mic 6:7.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. sacrifices] the general term for animal sacrifices; burnt-offerings, those entirely consumed on the altar; of the more ordinary kinds the deity received the fat and the blood.

I am full of] am sated with. The idea of sacrifice as the food of the gods seems to belong to the original conception of the rite, and lingered long in the popular consciousness even of Israel (Psalm 50:13). See Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 224 (Revised Ed.).Verse 11. - To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Cui bono? What good end do they serve? "Thinkest thou that I will eat the flesh of bulls, and drink the blood of goats? "(Psalm 1:13). God "delights not in burnt offerings." From the time of Samuel he had declared, "Behold, to obey is better then sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22). David had said of him, "Sacrifice and meat offering thou wouldest not; burnt offerings and sacrifice for sin hast thou not required" (Psalm 40:8, 9); and again, "I will not reprove thee because of thy sacrifices, or for thy burnt offerings, because they were not always before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he-goat out of thy folds; for all the beasts of the forest are mine, and so are the cattle upon a thousand hills" (Psalm 50:8-10). Not, of course, that either David or Isaiah desired to abolish sacrifice, or had any commission so to do; but they were, both of them, anxious to impress on men that sacrifice, by itself, was nothing - that self-dedication, self-renunciation, true devotion of the heart, with its necessary concomitant obedience, must accompany sacrifice, for God to be pleased therewith. The sacrifices of a people such as is described in vers. 21-23 could not but be an offence to him. Saith the Lord. The phrase employed is unusual, and almost confined to Isaiah, occurring elsewhere only in Psalm 12:5. Isaiah uses it again in ver. 18, and also in Isaiah 33:10; Isaiah 41:21; and Isaiah 66:9. It is explained to be emphatic, implying that this is what God says, and will say, concerning the matter in hand, once and forever (Kay). I am full of the burnt offerings of rams; rather, I am overfull, satiated, wearied with them. Barns formed a part of the required sacrifice on all great occasions, as at the Passover (Numbers 28:19), at the Feast of Weeks (Numbers 28:27), at the Feast of Tabernacles (Numbers 29:13, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 36), at the Feast of Trumpets (Numbers 29:2), and on the great Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:8). They were commanded as the sole sacrifice for a trespass offering (Leviticus 5:16, 18). Under David were offered on one occasion "a thousand rams" (1 Chronicles 29:21); and the occasions where seven rams formed the legitimate sacrifice were many. Unaccompanied by a proper frame of mind, each such offering was an offence to God, displeased him, wearied him. The fat of fed beasts. The fat was always regarded, both by the Hebrews and the Greeks, as especially suitable for sacrifice. It was burnt upon the altar in every case, even where the greater part of the victim was consumed as food (see Leviticus 1:8, 12; Leviticus 3:3, 10, etc.; note particularly the expression in Leviticus 3:16, "All the fat is the Lord's"). "Fed beasts" are those which were kept separate in stalls or sheds for some time before the sacrifice, and given food in which there was nothing" unclean." The Paschal lambs were required to be thus separated and fed for four days (Exodus 12:3, 6). I delight not in the blood. The blood, "which is the life" (Leviticus 17:14), was to be sprinkled on the altar in every sacrifice of a victim. This sprinkling was of the very essence of the sacrifice (Leviticus 1:5; Leviticus 3:2, 8, 13; Leviticus 4:6, 17, 25, 30, etc.). Bullocks... lambs... he-goats. These, together with rams, constituted all the sacrificial beasts of the Hebrews. In this v. a disputed question arises as to the words על־מה (מה, the shorter, sharper form of מה, which is common even before non-gutturals, Ges. 32, 1): viz., whether they mean "wherefore," as the lxx, Targums, Vulgate, and most of the early versions render them, or "upon what," i.e., upon which part of the body, as others, including Schrring, suppose. Luzzatto maintains that the latter rendering is spiritless, more especially because there is nothing in the fact that a limb has been struck already to prevent its being struck again; but such objections as these can only arise in connection with a purely literal interpretation of the passage. If we adopted this rendering, the real meaning would be, that there was no judgment whatever that had not already fallen upon Israel on account of its apostasy, so that it was not far from utter destruction. We agree, however, with Caspari in deciding in favour of the meaning "to what" (to what end). For in all the other passage in which the expression occurs (fourteen times in all), it is used in this sense, and once even with the verb hiccâh, to smite (Numbers 22:32), whilst it is only in Isaiah 1:6 that the idea of the people as one body is introduced; whereas the question "upon what" would require that the reader or hearer should presuppose it here. But in adopting the rendering "whereto," or to what end, we do not understand it, as Malbim does, in the sense of Cui bono, with the underlying thought, "It would be ineffectual, as all the previous smiting has proved;" for this thought never comes out in a direct expression, as we should expect, but rather - according to the analogy of the questions with lamah in Ezekiel 18:31; Jeremiah 44:7 -in the sense of qua de causa, with the underlying thought, "There would be only an infatuated pleasure in your own destruction."

Isaiah 1:5 we therefore render thus: "Why would ye be perpetually smitten, multiplying rebellion?" עוד (with tiphchah, a stronger disjunctive than tebir) belongs to תּכּוּ; see the same form of accentuation in Ezekiel 19:9. They are not two distinct interrogative clauses ("why would ye be smitten afresh? why do ye add revolt?" (Luzzatto), but the second clause is subordinate to the first (without there being any necessity to supply Chi, "because," as Gesenius supposes), an adverbial minor clause defining the main clause more precisely; at all events this is the logical connection, as in Isaiah 5:11 (cf., Psalm 62:4, "delighting in lies," and Psalm 4:3, "loving vanity"): lxx "adding iniquity." Sârâh (rebellion) is a deviation from truth and rectitude; and here, as in many other instances, it denotes apostasy from Jehovah, who is the absolutely Good, and absolute goodness. There is a still further dispute whether the next words should be rendered "every head" and "every heart," or "the whole head" and "the whole heart." In prose the latter would be impossible, as the two nouns are written without the article; but in the poetic style of the prophets the article may be omitted after Col, when used in the sense of "the whole" (e.g., Isaiah 9:12 : with whole mouth, i.e., with full mouth). Nevertheless Col, without the article following, never signifies "the whole" when it occurs several times in succession, as in Isaiah 15:2 and Ezekiel 7:17-18. We must therefore render Isaiah 1:5, "Every head is diseased, and every heart is sick." The Lamed in locholi indicates the state into which a thing has come: every head in a state of disease (Ewald, 217, d: locholi without the article, as in 2 Chronicles 21:18). The prophet asks his fellow-countrymen why they are so foolish as to heap apostasy upon apostasy, and so continue to call down the judgments of God, which have already fallen upon them blow after blow. Has it reached such a height with them, that among all the many heads and hearts there is not one head which is not in a diseased state, not one heart which is not thoroughly ill? (davvai an emphatic form of daveh). Head and heart are mentioned as the noblest parts of the outer and inner man. Outwardly and inwardly every individual in the nation had already been smitten by the wrath of God, so that they had had enough, and might have been brought to reflection.

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