Isaiah 1:24
Therefore said the LORD, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of my adversaries, and avenge me of my enemies:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) Therefore saith the Lord.—The word for “saith” (literally, whisper) is that which always indicates the solemn utterance of an oracle. The solemnity is emphasised by the exceptional accumulation of Divine names. He who speaks is the Eternal, the Lord of the armies of earth and heaven, the Hero, the Mighty One, of Israel. The latter name is found also in Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 60:16; Genesis 49:24; Psalm 132:2; Psalm 132:5, and not elsewhere.

Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries.—In bold, anthropomorphic language, which reminds us of Psalm 78:65, Jehovah is represented as waking out of slumber, and rising up to judgment. The words “ease” and “avenge” in the Hebrew have nearly the same sound (nicham and niqqam), and come from the same root, the primary thought being that of the deep breath which a man draws in the act of throwing off a burden. The weariness and impatience of Isaiah 1:14, the long-suffering that waited, had come to an end at last (comp. Isaiah 5:11; Isaiah 5:13), and the day of vengeance had come. The punishment was, however, to be reformatory, and not merely penal.

Isaiah 1:24. Ah, I will ease me, &c. — This is an expression borrowed from men’s passions, who find some sort of ease and rest in their minds upon venting their anger on just occasions, or in bringing offenders to condign punishment. Thus God, speaking after the manner of men, represents himself as feeling satisfaction in executing justice upon obstinate and incorrigible offenders. Compare Ezekiel 5:13; Ezekiel 16:42; Ezekiel 21:17. But let it be observed, God is never said to take pleasure in the punishment of any, but those who have filled up the measure of their iniquities.1:21-31 Neither holy cities nor royal ones are faithful to their trust, if religion does not dwell in them. Dross may shine like silver, and the wine that is mixed with water may still have the colour of wine. Those have a great deal to answer for, who do not help the oppressed, but oppress them. Men may do much by outward restraints; but only God works effectually by the influences of his Spirit, as a Spirit of Judgment. Sin is the worst captivity, the worst slavery. The redemption of the spiritual Zion, by the righteousness and death of Christ, and by his powerful grace, most fully accord with what is here meant. Utter ruin is threatened. The Jews should become as a tree when blasted by heat; as a garden without water, which in those hot countries would soon be burned up. Thus shall they be that trust in idols, or in an arm of flesh. Even the strong man shall be as tow; not only soon broken, and pulled to pieces, but easily catching fire. When the sinner has made himself as tow and stubble, and God makes himself as a consuming fire, what can prevent the utter ruin of the sinner?Therefore saith the Lord ... - The prophet having stated the guilt of the nation, proceeds to show the consequences of their crimes; or to foretell what would happen. The name of God is repeated, to attract attention; to fill the mind with awe; and to give emphasis to the solemn sentence which was about to be uttered.

The Lord - אדון 'âdôn. This word properly denotes master, lord, owner. Genesis 24:9 : "lord over his whole house." 1 Kings 16:24 : "owner of the hill Samaria." It is applied here to Yahweh, not as a special title, or as one of the names which he assumes to himself, but as owner, proprietor, master, ruler of the nation. The word, when applied to God as one of his special titles, has the form of an ancient plural termination, אדני 'ădonāy. The root is probably דוּן dôn, to judge, which in ancient times was also closely connected with the idea of ruling.

The Lord of hosts - Yahweh - ruling in the hosts of heaven, and therefore able to accomplish his threatenings; note, Isaiah 1:9.

The mighty One of Israel - He who had been their defender in the days of their peril; who had manifested his mighty power in overthrowing their enemies; and who had shown, therefore, that he was able to inflict vengeance on them.

Ah - הוי hôy. This is an expression of threatening. It is that which is used when an affront is offered, and there is a purpose of revenge; see Isaiah 1:4.

I will ease me - This refers to what is said in Isaiah 1:14, where God is represented as burdened with their crimes. The Hebrew word is, I will be consoled, or comforted - that is, by being delivered from my foes - אנחם 'enâchem from נחם nâcham, in Niphil, to suffer pain, to be grieved; and hence, to have pity, to show compassion. In Piel, to console or comfort one's-self; to take revenge. The idea included in the word is that of grief or distress, either in beholding the sufferings of others, or from some injury received from others. Hence, in Piel, it denotes to obtain relief from that distress, either by aiding the distressed object, or by taking revenge. In both instances, the mind, by a law of its nature, finds relief. The passion expends itself on its proper object, and the mind is at ease. It is used here in the latter sense. It is an instance where God uses the language which people employ to denote passion, and where they obtain relief by revenge. When applied to God, it is to be understood in accordance with his nature, as implying simply, that he would punish them; compare the note at Isaiah 1:13. It means that he had been pained and grieved by their crimes; his patience had been put to its utmost trial; and now he would seek relief from this by inflicting due punishment on them. An expression explaining this may be seen in Ezekiel 5:13; 'Then shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted.' Also, Deuteronomy 28:63 : 'As the Lord rejoiced over you, to do you good; so the Lord will rejoice over you, to destroy you.'

Mine adversaries - The enemies to his law and government among the rebellious Jews. The expression in this verse is a remarkable instance of God's adapting himself to our apprehension, by using our language. Instances occur often in the Scriptures where language expressive of human passions is applied to God; and as human language must be employed in revelation, it was indispensable. But those expressions are not to be understood as they are when applied to the passions of mankind. In God, they are consistent with all that is pure, and glorious, and holy, and should be so understood. The Chaldee renders this verse, 'I will console the city of Jerusalem; but woe to the impious, when I shall be revealed to take vengeance on the enemies of my people.' But this is manifestly a false interpretation; and shows how reluctant the Jews were to admit the threatenings against themselves.

24. Lord … Lord—Adonai, Jehovah.

mighty One of Israel—mighty to take vengeance, as before, to save.

Ah—indignation.

ease me—My long tried patience will find relief in at last punishing the guilty (Eze 5:13). God's language condescends to human conceptions.

I will ease me, Heb. I will comfort myself; ease my mind, and satisfy my justice, by taking vengeance, as the next clause explains this. The same expression is used in the same sense Ezekiel 5:13.

Of mine adversaries; of the Israelites, who, though they have called themselves my children and friends, yet by their temper and carriage towards me have showed themselves to be mine enemies. Therefore, saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel,.... All these names and titles, which are expressive of the majesty, power, and authority of God, are used to give the greater solemnity and weight to what follows; and to show that he is able to accomplish what he determines and threatens to do.

Ah! which is a particle, either expressive of grief at their wretched and miserable condition, or of indignation at their provoking sins and transgressions:

I will ease me of mine adversaries; or, "I will take comfort (n) of" them, by destroying them; expressing the pleasure and satisfaction he should take in avenging his justice on them: they had been a trouble to him, and had wearied him with their sins, and now he will ease himself of them by removing them. The Targum is,

"I will comfort the city of Jerusalem;''

not taking the sense of the words:

and avenge me of mine enemies; the Jews, who were enemies to Christ and his Gospel, and would not have him to reign over them, and which was the cause of the destruction of their city, temple, and nation; see Luke 19:14.

(n) "consolationem capiam", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. "Consolabor me", Cocceius.

Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the {h} mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will {i} rid myself of my adversaries, and avenge me of my enemies:

(h) When God will show himself merciful to his Church, he calls himself the Holy one of Israel, but when he has to do with his enemies, he is called Mighty, as against whom no power is able to resist.

(i) I will take vengeance of my adversaries the Jews and so satisfy my desire by punishing them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. Such men are adversaries and enemies of Jehovah, thwarting His wishes and purposes for His people. the Lord] “the Master” or the Sovereign. The title, used absolutely as here (hâ-’Adôn), is almost peculiar to Isaiah, and is used by him only in introducing a threat (ch. Isaiah 3:1, Isaiah 10:16; Isaiah 10:33, Isaiah 19:4; cf. Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:23).

the mighty One of Israel] Israel’s Strong One, a rare word in Hebr., first found in Genesis 49:24. See on ch. Isaiah 10:13. ease me] Better: appease myself, and so again, avenge myself. By a bold anthropopathy the divine Being is compared to a man thirsting for vengeance.

25 resumes the first figure of Isaiah 1:22, the judgment on Zion being likened to the smelting of impure ore. turn (or bring back) my hand] not in mercy, but, as usual, in judgment.

purely] R.V. throughly, lit. “as with lye,” i.e. potash, which was used as a flux to facilitate the separation of the metals. The grammar is still suspicious. Some, by transposing two consonants, obtain the sense “in the furnace.”Verses 24-31. - THE DECLARATION OF GOD'S JUDGMENT. It is foreknown to God that Israel will not repent. He therefore fulminates his judgment; which, however, is still conditional, so far as individuals are con-corned. His vengeance will fall upon the land; but the result will be twofold. Destruction will come upon the unrighteous and the sinners (ver. 28) - they will be "consumed" (ver. 28), and "confounded" (ver. 29); but there will be some on whom the punishment will have a purifying power, whose dross it will purge away, and whom it will convert to God (vers. 25, 27). From these will rise up a new Jerusalem - a "city of righteousness," a "faithful stronghold" (ver. 26). Verse 24. - The Lord, the Lord of hosts. In the original, Ha-Adon, Jehovah Sabaoth - i.e. "The Lord" (or "Master" of men and angels), "the Self-Existing One of the hosts of heaven" - i.e., their God, the only proper object of their worship. It gives peculiar weight and significance to this prophecy, that it is introduced by a triple designation of the Divine Being. The Mighty One of Israel. A very unusual designation, only found here and, with the modification of "Jacob" for "Israel, "in the following places: Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 60:16; Genesis 49:24; Psalm 132:2, 5. God's might would be shown alike in his vengeance on his enemies, and in his purification of a remnant to serve him. I will ease me of mine adversaries; literally, I will comfort me; i.e. I will rid myself of them, and so obtain the only comfort that they will allow me to receive from them (comp. Ezekiel 5:13, "I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted"). The first leading division of the address is brought to a close, and Isaiah 1:18 contains the turning-point between the two parts into which it is divided. Hitherto Jehovah has spoken to His people in wrath. But His love began to move even in the admonitions in Isaiah 1:16, Isaiah 1:17. And now this love, which desired not Israel's destruction, but Israel's inward and outward salvation, breaks fully through. "O come, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah. If your sins come forth like scarlet cloth, they shall become white as snow; if they are red as crimson, they shall come forth like wool!" Jehovah here challenges Israel to a formal trial: nocach is thus used in a reciprocal sense, and with the same meaning as nishpat in Isaiah 43:26 (Ges. 51, 2). In such a trial Israel must lose, for Israel's self-righteousness rests upon sham righteousness; and this sham righteousness, when rightly examined, is but unrighteousness dripping with blood. It is taken for granted that this must be the result of the investigation. Israel is therefore worthy of death. Yet Jehovah will not treat Israel according to His retributive justice, but according to His free compassion. He will remit the punishment, and not only regard the sin as not existing, but change it into its very opposite. The reddest possible sin shall become, through His mercy, the purest white. On the two hiphils here applied to colour, see Ges. 53, 2; though he gives the meaning incorrectly, viz., "to take a colour," whereas the words signify rather to emit a colour: not Colorem accipere, but Colorem dare. Shâni, bright red (the plural shânim, as in Proverbs 31:21, signifies materials dyed with shâni), and tolâ, warm colour, are simply different names for the same colour, viz., the crimson obtained from the cochineal insect, Color cocccineus. The representation of the work of grace promised by God as a change from red to white, is founded upon the symbolism of colours, quite as much as when the saints in the Revelation (Revelation 19:8) are described as clothed in white raiment, whilst the clothing of Babylon is purple and scarlet (Isaiah 17:4). Red is the colour of fire, and therefore of life: the blood is red because life is a fiery process. For this reason the heifer, from which the ashes of purification were obtained for those who had been defiled through contact with the dead, was to be red; and the sprinkling-brush, with which the unclean were sprinkled, was to be tied round with a band of scarlet wool. But red as contrasted with white, the colour of light (Matthew 17:2), is the colour of selfish, covetous, passionate life, which is self-seeking in its nature, which goes out of itself only to destroy, and drives about with wild tempestuous violence: it is therefore the colour of wrath and sin. It is generally supposed that Isaiah speaks of red as the colour of sin, because sin ends in murder; and this is not really wrong, though it is too restricted. Sin is called red, inasmuch as it is a burning heat which consumes a man, and when it breaks forth consumes his fellow-man as well. According to the biblical view, throughout, sin stands in the same relation to what is well-pleasing to God, and wrath in the same relation to love or grace, as fire to light; and therefore as red to white, or black to white, for red and black are colours which border upon one another. In the Song of Solomon (Isaiah 7:5), the black locks of Shulamith are described as being "like purple," and Homer applies the same epithet to the dark waves of the sea. But the ground of this relation lies deeper still. Red is the colour of fire, which flashes out of darkness and returns to it again; whereas white without any admixture of darkness represents the pure, absolute triumph of light. It is a deeply significant symbol of the act of justification. Jehovah offers to Israel an actio forensis, out of which it shall come forth justified by grace, although it has merited death on account of its sins. The righteousness, white as snow and wool, with which Israel comes forth, is a gift conferred upon it out of pure compassion, without being conditional upon any legal performance whatever.
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