Isaiah 28:1
Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXVIII.

(1) Woe to the crown of pride . . .—Better, the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim. The chapter is remarkable, as showing that the prophet’s work was not limited to Judah and Jerusalem, but extended to the northern kingdom. The warning was clearly uttered before the capture of Samaria by Salmaneser, or, more probably, by Sargon, and paints in vivid colours—reminding us in part of Amos 6:4-6, not without a side glance at the like vices in Jerusalem (Isaiah 22:13)—the license into which the capital of the northern kingdom had fallen. With a bold personification the words paint (1) the banquet with its revellers, crowned, as in the later days of Rome, with wreaths of flowers; and (2) Samaria itself as such a wreath, once beautiful, now fading, crowning the “head” of the “fat,” or luxuriant, valley (literally, valley of oils, or, fat things) in which the revellers held their feasts. Cheyne notes that the inscription of Salmaneser records that the tribute of Jehu consisted of bowls, cups, and goblets of gold, as illustrating the luxury of the palace of Samaria (Records of the Past, v. 41). The LXX. strangely renders the last clause, “drunk without wine,” as if from a reminiscence of Isaiah 29:9, and gives the “hirelings of Ephraim” instead of “drunkards.”

Isaiah

THE JUDGMENT OF DRUNKARDS AND MOCKERS

Isaiah 28:1 - Isaiah 28:13
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This prophecy probably falls in the first years of Hezekiah, when Samaria still stood, and the storm of war was gathering black in the north. The portion included in the text predicts the fall of Samaria {Isaiah 28:1 - Isaiah 28:6} and then turns to Judah, which is guilty of the same sins as the northern capital, and adds to them mockery of the prophet’s message. Isaiah speaks with fiery indignation and sharp sarcasm. His words are aflame with loathing of the moral corruption of both kingdoms, and he fastens on the one common vice of drunkenness-not as if it were the only sin, but because it shows in the grossest form the rottenness underlying the apparent beauty.

I. The woe on Samaria {Isaiah 28:1 - Isaiah 28:6}. Travellers are unanimous in their raptures over the fertility and beauty of the valley in which Samaria stood, perched on its sunny, fruitful hill, amid its vineyards. The situation of the city naturally suggests the figure which regards it as a sparkling coronet or flowery wreath, twined round the brows of the hill; and that poetical metaphor is the more natural, since revellers were wont to twist garlands in their hair, when they reclined at their orgies. The city is ‘the crown of pride’-that is, the object of boasting and foolish confidence-and is also ‘the fading flower of his sparkling ornament’; that is, the flower which is the ornament of Ephraim, but is destined to fade.

The picture of the city passes into that of the drunken debauch, where the chief men of Samaria sprawl, ‘smitten down’ by wine, and with the innocent flowers on their hot temples drooping in the fumes of the feast. But bright and sunny as the valley is, glittering in the light as the city sits on her hill, careless and confident as the revellers are, a black cloud lies on the horizon, and one of the terrible sudden storms which such lands know comes driving up the valley. ‘The Lord hath a mighty and strong one’-the conqueror from the north, who is God’s instrument, though he knows it not.

The swift, sudden, irresistible onslaught of the Assyrian is described, in harmony with the figure of the flowery coronal, as a tempest which beats down the flowers and flings the sodden crown to the ground. The word rendered ‘tempest’ is graphic, meaning literally a ‘downpour.’ First comes hail, which batters the flowers to shreds; then the effect of the storm is described as ‘destruction,’ and then the hurrying words turn back to paint the downpour of rain, ‘mighty’ from its force in falling, and ‘overflowing’ from its abundance, which soon sets all the fields swimming with flood water. What chance has a poor twist of flowers in such a storm? Its beauty will be marred, and all the petals beaten off, and nothing remains but that it should be trampled into mud. The rush of the prophet’s denunciation is swift and irresistible as the assault it describes, and it flashes from one metaphor to another without pause. The fertility of the valley of Samaria shapes the figures. As the picture of the flowery chaplet, so that which follows of the early fig, is full of local colour. A fig in June is a delicacy, which is sure to be plucked and eaten as soon as seen. Such a dainty, desirable morsel will Samaria be, as sweet and as little satisfying to the all-devouring hunger of the Assyrian.

But storms sweep the air clear, and everything will not go down before this one. The flower fadeth, but there is a chaplet of beauty which men may wreathe round their heads, which shall bloom for ever. All sensuous enjoyment has its limits in time, as well as in nobleness and exquisiteness; but when it is all done with, the beauty and festal ornament which truly crowns humanity shall smell sweet and blossom. The prophecy had regard simply to the issue of the historical disaster to which it pointed, and it meant that, after the storm of Assyrian conquest, there would still be, for the servants of God, the residue of the people, both in Israel and in Judah, a fuller possession of the blessings which descend on the men who make God their portion. But the principle involved is for ever true. The sweeping away of the perishable does draw true hearts nearer to God.

So the two halves of this prophecy give us eternal truths as to the certain destruction awaiting the joys of sense, and the permanence of the beauty and strength which belong to those who take God for their portion.

Drunkenness seems to have been a national sin in Israel; for Micah rebukes it as vehemently as Isaiah, and it is a clear bit of Christian duty in England to-day to ‘set the trumpet to thy mouth and show the people’ this sin. But the lessons of the prophecy are wider than the specific form of evil denounced. All setting of affection and seeking of satisfaction in that which, in all the pride of its beauty, is ‘a fading flower,’ is madness and sin. Into every life thus turned to the perishable will come the crash of the destroying storm, the mutterings of which might reach the ears of the feasters, if they were not drunk with the fumes of their deceiving delights. Only one kind of life has its roots in that which abides, and is safe from tempest and change. Amaranthine flowers bloom only in heaven, and must be brought thence, if they are to garland earthly foreheads. If we take God for ours, then whatever tempests may howl, and whatever fragile though fragrant joys may be swept away, we shall find in Him all that the world ‘fails to give to its votaries. He is ‘a crown of glory’ and ‘a diadem of beauty.’ Our humanity is never so fair as when it is made beautiful by the possession of Him. All that sense vainly seeks in earth, faith finds in God. Not only beauty, but ‘a spirit of judgment,’ in its narrower sense and in its widest, is breathed into those to whom God is ‘the master light of all their seeing’; and, yet more, He is strength to all who have to fight. Thus the close union of trustful souls with God, the actual inspiration of these, and the perfecting of their nature from communion with God, are taught us in the great words, which tell how beauty, justice, and strength are all given in the gift of Jehovah Himself to His people.

II. The prophet turns to Judah {Isaiah 28:7 - Isaiah 28:13}, and charges them with the same disgusting debauchery. His language is vehement in its loathing, and describes the filthy orgies of those who should have been the guides of the people with almost painful realism. Note how the words ‘reel’ and ‘stagger’ are repeated, and also the words ‘wine’ and ‘strong drink.’ We see the priests’ and prophets’ unsteady gait, and then they ‘stumble’ or fall. There they lie amid the filth, like hogs in a sty. It is very coarse language, but fine words are the Devil’s veils for coarse sins; and it is needful sometimes to call spades spades, and not to be ashamed to tell men plainly how ugly are the vices which they are not ashamed to commit. No doubt some of the drunken priests and false prophets in Jerusalem thought Isaiah extremely vulgar and indelicate, in talking about staggering teachers and tables swimming in ‘vomit.’ But he had to speak out. So deep was the corruption that the officials were tipsy even when engaged in their official duties, the prophets reeled while they were seeing visions; the judges could not sit upright even when pronouncing judgment.

Isaiah 28:9 - Isaiah 28:10 are generally taken as a sarcastic quotation of the drunkards’ scoffs at the prophet. They might be put in inverted commas. Their meaning is, ‘Does he take us grave and reverend seigniors, priests and prophets, to be babies just weaned, that he pesters us with these monotonous petty preachings, fit only for the nursery, which he calls his “message"?’ In Isaiah 28:10, the original for ‘precept upon precept,’ etc., is a series of short words, which may be taken as reproducing the ‘babbling tones of the drunken mockers.’

The loose livers of all generations talk in the same fashion about the stern morality which rebukes their vice. They call it weak, commonplace, fit for children, and they pretend that they despise it. They are much too enlightened for such antiquated teaching. Old women and children may take it in, but men of the world, who have seen life, and know what is what, are not to be fooled so. ‘What will this babbler say?’ was asked by the wise men of Athens, who were but repeating the scoffs of the prophets and priests of Jerusalem, and the same jeers are bitter in the mouth of many a profligate man to-day. It is the fate of all strict morality to be accounted childish by the people whom it inconveniently condemns.

In Isaiah 28:11 and onwards the prophet speaks. He catches up the mockers’ words, and retorts them. They have scoffed at his message as if it were stammering speech. They shall hear another kind of stammerers when the fierce invaders’ harsh and unintelligible language commands them. The reason why these foreign voices would have authority, was the national disregard of God’s voice. ‘Ye would not hear’ Him when, by His prophet, He spoke gracious invitations to rest, and to give the nation rest, in obedience and trust. Therefore they shall hear the battle-cry of the conqueror, and have to obey orders spoken in a barbarous tongue.

Of course, the language meant is the Assyrian, which, though cognate with Hebrew, is so unlike as to be unintelligible to the people. But is not the threat the statement of a great truth always being fulfilled towards the disobedient? If we will not listen to that loving Voice which calls us to rest, we shall be forced to listen to the harsh and strident tones of conquering enemies who command us to slavish toil. If we will not be guided by His eye and voice, we shall be governed by whip and bridle. Our choice is either to hearken to the divine call, which is loving and gentle, and invites to deep repose springing from faith, or to have to hear the voice of the taskmasters. The monotony of despised moral and religious teaching shall give place to a more terrible monotony, even that of continuous judgments.

‘The mills of God grind slowly.’ Bit by bit, with gradual steps, with dismal persistence, like the slow drops on the rock, the judgments of God trickle out on the mocking heart. It takes a long time for a child to learn a pageful when he gets his lesson a sentence at a time. So slowly do His chastisements fall on men who have despised the continuous messages of His love. The word of the Lord, which was laughed at when it clothed itself in a prophet’s speech, will be heard in more formidable shape, when it is wrapped in the long-drawn-out miseries of years of bondage. The warning is as needful for us as for these drunken priests and scornful rulers. The principle embodied is true in this day as it was then, and we too have to choose between serving God in gladness, hearkening to the voice of His word, and so finding rest to our souls, and serving the world, the flesh, and the devil, and so experiencing the perpetual dropping of the fiery rain of His judgments.Isaiah 28:1. Wo, &c. — The second discourse of the third book of Isaiah’s prophecies, according to Vitringa, begins here, and is continued to the end of the thirty-third chapter. He supposes that the whole of it was delivered before the expedition of Sennacherib, and on occasion of some solemn embassy sent to Egypt to implore the help of the Egyptians against the Assyrians. To the crown of pride — The proud state and kingdom of the ten tribes, commonly called Ephraim; or, as some think, Samaria, the capital city, is chiefly intended, which was situated, says Maundrell, “on a long mount of an oval figure; having first a fruitful valley, and then a ring, or crown, of hills running round about it.” Journey from Aleppo, p. 59. It is thought that the prophet alludes to the crown of flowers which used to be worn by the drunkards in their revels; “an image not unfrequently made use of by the prophets, to convey a strong idea of the universal depravity and folly of the nation.” To the drunkards of Ephraim — Having many and excellent vines among them, the Ephraimites were much exposed to this sin, and very frequently guilty of it, Isaiah 28:7; Hosea 7:5; Amos 6:6. Whose glorious beauty is a fading flower — Whose glory and greatness shall suddenly wither and perish, like the garlands of flowers wherewith they crown their heads, amidst their intoxicating cups. Which are on the head of the fat valleys — Which proud and drunken Israelites have their common and chief abode in Samaria, the head of the kingdom, and seated at the head of fat and rich valleys which encompassed it. 28:1-4 What men are proud of, be it ever so mean, is to them as a crown; but pride is the forerunner of destruction. How foolishly drunkards act! Those who are overcome with wine are overcome by Satan; and there is not greater drudgery in the world than hard drinking. Their health is ruined; men are broken in their callings and estates, and their families are ruined by it. Their souls are in danger of being undone for ever, and all merely to gratify a base lust. In God's professing people, like Israel, it is worse than in any other. And he is just in taking away the plenty they thus abuse. The plenty they were proud of, is but a fading flower. Like the early fruit, which, as soon as discovered, is plucked and eaten.Wo - (see the note at Isaiah 18:1). The word here is used to denounce impending judgment.

To the crown of pride - This is a Hebrew mode of expression, denoting the proud or haughty crown. There can be no doubt that it refers to the capital of the kingdom of Ephraim; that is, to Samaria. This city was built by Omri, who purchased 'the hill Samaria' of Shemer, for two talents of silver, equal in value to 792 British pounds, 11 shillings, 8d., and built the city on the hill, and called it, after the name of Shemer, Samaria 1 Kings 16:24. Omri was king of Israel (925 b.c.), and he made this city the capital of his kingdom. The city was built on a pleasant and fertile hill, and surrounded with a rich valley, with a circle of hills beyond; and the beauty of the hill on which the city was built suggested the idea of a wreath or chaplet of flowers, or a "crown." After having been destroyed and reduced to an inconsiderable place, it was restored by Herod the Great, 21 b.c., who called it "Sebaste" (Latin, "Augusta"), in honor of the Emperor Augustus. It is usually mentioned by travelers under the name of Sebaste. Maundrell (Travels, p. 58) says, 'Sebaste, the ancient Samaria, is situated on a long mount of an oval figure; having first a fruitful valley, and then a ring of hills running round it.' The following is the account which is given by Richardson: 'Its situation is extremely beautiful, and strong by nature; more so, I think, than Jerusalem. It stands on a fine large insulated hill, compassed all round by a broad, deep valley.

The valley is surrounded by four hills, one on each side, which are cultivated in terraces to the top, sown with grain, and planted with fig and olive trees, as is also the valley. The hill of Samaria, likewise, rises in terraces to a height equal to any of the adjoining mountains.' Dr. Robinson, who visited this place in 1838, says, 'The find round swelling hill, or almost mountain of Samaria, stands alone in the midst of the great basin of some two hours (seven or eight miles) in diameter, surrounded by higher mountains on every side. It is near the eastern side of the basin; and is connected with the eastern mountains, somewhat after the manner of a promontory, by a much lower ridge, having a wady both on the south and on the north. The mountains and the valleys around are to a great extent arable, and enlivened by many villages and the hand of cultivation. From all these circumstances, the situation of the ancient Samaria is one of great beauty.

The hill itself is cultivated to the top; and, at about midway of the ascent, is surrounded by a narrow terrace of level land like a belt, below which the roots of the hill spread off more gradually into the valleys. The whole hill of Sebastich (the Arabic form for the name Sebaste) consists of fertile soil; it is cultivated to the top, and has upon it many olive and fig trees. It would be difficult to find, in all Palestine, a situation of equal strength, fertility, and beauty combined. In all these particulars, it has very greatly the advantage over Jerusalem.' (Bib. Researches, vol. iii. pp. 136-149). Standing thus by itself, and cultivated to the top, and exceedingly fertile, it was compared by the prophet to a crown, or garland of flowers - such as used to be worn on the head, especially on festival occasions.

To the drunkards of Ephraim - Ephraim here denotes the kingdom of Israel, whose capital was Samaria (see the note at Isaiah 7:2). That intemperance was the prevailing sin in the kingdom of Israel is not improbable. It prevailed to a great extent also in the kingdom of Judah (see Isaiah 28:7-8 : compare Isaiah 5:11, note; Isaiah 5:22, note).

Whose glorious beauty is a fading flower - That is, it shall soon be destroyed, as a flower soon withers and fades away. This was fulfilled in the destruction that came upon Samaria under the Assyrians when the ten tribes were carried into captivity 2 Kings 17:3-6. The allusion in this verse to the 'crown' and 'the fading flower' encircling Samaria, Grotius thinks is derived from the fact that among the ancients, drunkards and revellers were accustomed to wear a crown or garland on their heads, or that a wreath or chaplet of flowers was usually worn on their festival occasions. That this custom prevailed among the Jews as well as among the Greeks and Romans, is apparent from a statement by the author of the Book of Wisdom:

'Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ornaments,

And let no flower of the spring pass by us;

Let us crown ourselves with rose-buds before they are withered.'

- Wisdom Romans 2:7, Romans 2:8.

Which are on the head - Which flowers or chaplets are on the eminence that rises over the fat valleys; that is, on Samaria, which seemed to stand as the head rising from the valley.

Of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine - That are occupied by, or in the possession of, those who are overcome with wine. Margin, 'Broken' with wine. Hebrew, (יין הלוּמי hălûmēy yâyin) 'Smitten with wine;' corresponding to the Greek ὀινοπλὴξ oinoplēx; that is, they were overcome or subdued by it. A man's reason, conscience, moral feelings, and physical strength are all overcome by indulgence in wine, and the entire man is prostrate by it. This passage is a proof of what has been often denied, but which further examination has abundantly confirmed, that the inhabitants of wine countries are as certainly intemperate as those which make rise of ardent spirits.

CHAPTER 28

Isa 28:1-29.

The twenty-eighth through thirty-third chapters form almost one continuous prophecy concerning the destruction of Ephraim, the impiety and folly of Judah, the danger of their league with Egypt, the straits they would be reduced to by Assyria, from which Jehovah would deliver them on their turning to Him; the twenty-eighth chapter refers to the time just before the sixth year of Hezekiak's reign, the rest not very long before his fourteenth year.

1. crown of pride—Hebrew for "proud crown of the drunkards," &c. [Horsley], namely, Samaria, the capital of Ephraim, or Israel. "Drunkards," literally (Isa 28:7, 8; Isa 5:11, 22; Am 4:1; 6:1-6) and metaphorically, like drunkards, rushing on to their own destruction.

beauty … flower—"whose glorious beauty or ornament is a fading flower." Carrying on the image of "drunkards"; it was the custom at feasts to wreathe the brow with flowers; so Samaria, "which is (not as English Version, 'which are') upon the head of the fertile valley," that is, situated on a hill surrounded with the rich valleys as a garland (1Ki 16:24); but the garland is "fading," as garlands often do, because Ephraim is now close to ruin (compare Isa 16:8); fulfilled 721 B.C. (2Ki 17:6, 24).The drunkenness of Ephraim bringeth destruction on them: a remnant shall be honourable, Isaiah 28:1-8. Their unteachableness, Isaiah 28:9-13. Their mock at God’s threatenings, Isaiah 28:14,15. Christ prophesied for a sure foundation to believers, Isaiah 28:16, and destruction to the mockers, who are exhorted to amend, Isaiah 28:17-22. God’s providence, its work and seasons towards the church set out by a husbandman, Isaiah 28:23-29.

The crown of pride; that proud and insolent kingdom; for the crown is oft put for the kingdom, as Jeremiah 13:18, &c.

The drunkards; either,

1. Metaphorically, drunk with proud self-confidence, and security, and prosperity; or rather,

2. Properly, by comparing this with Isaiah 28:7 Hosea 7:5 Amos 6:6, where the Israelites are taxed with this sin. For having many and excellent vines among them, they were exposed to this sin, and frequently overcome by it.

Of Ephraim; of the kingdom of the ten tribes; which is commonly called. by the name of Ephraim, as hath been oft noted before.

Whose glorious beauty is a fading flower; whose glory and greatness shall suddenly wither and perish.

Which are; which proud and drunken Israelites have their common and chief abode. Or, which is, i.e. which flower is-or which beauty or glory is.

The head of the fat valleys either,

1. In Samaria, which might well be called the head, as being seated upon a mountain; and the head of the kingdom, and the head of the fat valleys, because it was encompassed with many fat and rich valleys. Or,

2. Upon the chief or choicest (as this word signifies, Exodus 30:23 Song of Solomon 4:14 Isaiah 9:14,15, and elsewhere) of the fat or rich valleys; which they made occasions and instruments of luxury.

That are overcome, Heb. that are smitten, or broken, or overthrown, or knocked down; all which significations of this word fitly agree to drunkards.

Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim,.... Or, "of the drunkards of Ephraim": or, "O crown of pride, O drunkards of Ephraim (l)"; who are both called upon, and a woe denounced against them. Ephraim is put for the ten tribes, who were drunk either in a literal sense, for to the sin of drunkenness were they addicted, Hosea 7:5, Amos 6:6. The Jews say (m), that wine of Prugiatha (which perhaps was a place noted for good wine), and the waters of Diomasit (baths), cut off the ten tribes from Israel; which both Jarchi and Kimchi, on the place, make mention of; that is, as Buxtorf (n) interprets it, pleasures and delights destroyed the ten tribes. The inhabitants of Samaria, and the places adjacent, especially were addicted to this vice; these places abounding with excellent wines. Sichem, which were in these parts, is thought to be called, from the drunkenness of its inhabitants, Sychar, John 4:5 this is a sin very uncomely in any, but especially in professors of religion, as these were, and ought to be declaimed against: or they were drunkards in a metaphorical sense, either with idolatry, the two calves being set up in Dan and Bethel, which belonged to the ten tribes; just as the kings of the earth are said to be drunk with the wine of antichrist's fornication, or the idolatry of the church of Rome, Revelation 17:2 or with pride and haughtiness, being elated with the fruitfulness of their country, their great affluence and riches, and numbers of people; in all which they were superior to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and in which they piqued themselves, and are therefore called "the crown of pride"; and especially their king may be meant, who was lifted up with pride that he ruled over such a country and people; or rather the city of Samaria, the metropolis of the ten tribes, and the royal city. Perhaps there may be an allusion to the crowns wore by drunkards at their revels, and particularly by such who were mighty to drink wine or strong drink, and overcame others, and triumphed in it: pride and sensuality are the vices condemned, and they often go together:

whose glorious beauty; which lay in the numbers of their inhabitants, in their wealth and riches, and in their fruits of corn and wine:

is a fading flower; not to be depended on, soon destroyed, and quickly gone:

which are on the head of the fat valleys; meaning particularly the corn and wine, the harvest and vintage, with which the fruitful valleys being covered, looked very beautiful and glorious: very probably particular respect is had to Samaria, the head of the kingdom, and which was situated on a hill, and surrounded with fruitful valleys; for not Jerusalem is here meant, as Cocceius; nor Gethsemane, by the fat valleys, as Jerom:

of them that are overcome with wine; or smitten, beaten (o) knocked down with it, as with a hammer, and laid prostrate on the ground, where they lie fixed to it, not able to get up; a true picture of a drunkard, that is conquered by wine, and enslaved unto it; see Isaiah 28:3.

(l) "vae coronae erectionis ebriorum Ephraimi", Cocceius, Gataker. (m) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 147. 2.((n) Lex. Talmud. col. 529. (o) "concussi vino", Pagninus, "percussi vino", so some in Vatablus; "conquassantur vel conculcantur a vino", Forerius; "contusorum a vino", Cocceius.

Woe to the {a} crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, who are on the head of the rich {b} valleys of them that are overcome with wine!

(a) Meaning, the proud kingdom of the Israelites, who were drunk with worldly prosperity.

(b) Because the Israelites for the most part dwelt in plentiful valleys, he means by this the valley of them who had abundance of worldly prosperity and were as it were crowned with garlands.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. In a single image of great beauty the prophet describes the picturesque situation of the city, the tone of its society, and its ripeness for judgment. Samaria, with its ramparts and white terraced streets crowning the summit of a low hill, which rises in the middle of a fertile valley (1 Kings 16:24), is compared to the chaplet of flowers that wreathes the flushed temples of a reveller (cf. Wisd. Song of Solomon 2:7-8). But the long carousal is nearly over, the wreath is already faded and soon (Isaiah 28:3) will be dashed to the ground. The verse should be read:

Woe to the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim,

And (to) the fading flower of his glorious beauty,

Which is upon the fat valley of the wine-smitten.

overcome (lit. “struck down”) with wine] (οἰνοπλῆγες) the last stage of intoxication. Hard drinking is compared to a combat between the toper and his drink, in which the latter is victorious, ch. Isaiah 16:8.

1–4. The fate of the drunkards of Ephraim. On the luxury and debauchery of Samaria, see Amos 3:12; Amos 3:15; Amos 4:1; Amos 6:1; Amos 6:6.Verses 1-4. - A WARNING TO SAMARIA. The prophet has now east his eagle glance over the whole world and over all time. He has denounced woe upon all the principal nations of the earth (Isaiah 13-23.), glanced at the destruction of the world itself (Isaiah 24:17-20), and sung songs over the establishment of Christ's kingdom, and the ingathering of the nations into it (Isaiah 25-27.). In the present chapter he returns to the condition of things in his own time and among his own people. After a brief warning, addressed to Samaria, he turns to consider the condition of Judah, which he accuses of following the example of Samaria, of perishing through self-indulgence and lack of knowledge (vers. 7-12). He then proceeds to expostulate seriously with the "rulers of Jerusalem," on whom lies the chief responsibility for its future. Verse 1. - Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkard; rather, of the drunkards, The "drunkards of Ephraim," or of the ten tribes, were at once intoxicated with wine (Amos 4:1; Amos 6:6) and with pride (Amos 6:13). As the external aspect of affairs grew mere and more threatening through the advances of Tiglath-Pileser and Shalmaneser, they gave themselves up more and more to self-indulgence and luxury, lay upon beds of ivory, drank wine from bowls, feasted to the sound of the viol, and even invented fresh instruments of music (Amos 6:4, 5). At the same time, they said in their hearts, "Have we not taken by our own strength?" (Amos 6:13). They persisted in regarding themselves as secure, when even ordinary political foresight might have seen that their end was approaching. Whose glorious beauty is a fading flower; rather, and to the fading flower of his glorious beauty. The "glorious beauty" of Samaria was a beauty of magnificent luxury. "Summer" and "winter houses," distinct each from the other (Amos 3:15); "ivory palaces" (1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:15); a wealth of "gardens, vineyards, fig-orchards, and olive yards" (Amos 4:9); residences of "hewn stone" (Amos 5:11); feasts enlivened with "the melody of viols" (Amos 5:23); "beds of ivory" (Amos 6:4); "wine in bowls" (Amos 6:6); "chief ointments" (Amos 6:6); constituted a total of luxurious refinement beyond which few had proceeded at the time, and which Isaiah was fain to recognize, in a worldly point of view, as "glorious" and "beautiful." But the beauty was of a kind liable to fade, and it was already fading under the sirocco of Assyrian invasion. Which are on the head of the fat valleys; rather, which is on the head (or, which decks the head) of the rich valley. Samaria was built on a hill of an oval form, which rose up in the midst of a fertile valley shut in by mountains. The prophet identifies the valley with the kingdom itself, and then personifies it, and regards its head as crowned by the fading flower of Samaria's beauty. The prophet does not return even now to his own actual times; but, with the certainty that Israel will not be exalted until it has been deeply humbled on account of its sins, he placed himself in the midst of this state of punishment. And there, in the face of the glorious future which awaited Israel, the fact shines out brightly before his eyes, that the punishment which God inflicts upon Israel is a very different thing from that inflicted upon the world. "Hath He smitten it like the smiting of its smiter, or is it slain like the slaying of those slain by Him? Thou punishedst it with measures, when thou didst thrust it away, sifting with violent breath in the day of the east wind." "Its smiter" (maccēhū) is the imperial power by which Israel had been attacked (Isaiah 10:20); and "those slain by Him" (הרגיו) are the slain of the empire who had fallen under the strokes of Jehovah. The former smote unmercifully, and its slain ones now lay without hope (Isaiah 26:14). Jehovah smites differently, and it is very different with the church, which has succumbed in the persons of its righteous members. For the double play upon words, see Isaiah 24:16; Isaiah 22:18; Isaiah 10:16. When Jehovah put Israel away (as if by means of a "bill of divorcement," Isaiah 50:1), He strove against it (Isaiah 49:25), i.e., punished it, "in measure," i.e., determining the measure very exactly, that it might not exceed the enduring power of Israel, not endanger the existence of Israel as a nation (cf., bemishpât in Jeremiah 10:24; Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 46:28). On the other hand, Hitzig, Ewald, and Knobel read בּסאסאה, from a word סאסא,

(Note: Bttcher refers to a Talmudic word, הסיא (to remove), but this is to be pronounced הסּיא ( equals הסּיע), and is moreover, very uncertain.)

related to זעזע, or even טאטא, "when thou didst disturb (or drive forth);" but the traditional text does not indicate any various reading with ה mappic., and the ancient versions and expositors all take the word as a reduplication of סאה, which stands here as the third of an ephah to denote a moderately large measure. The clause hâgâh berūchō is probably regarded as an elliptical relative clause, in which case the transition to the third person can be best explained: "thou, who siftedst with violent breath." Hâgâh, which only occurs again in Proverbs 25:4, signifies to separate, e.g., the dross from silver (Isaiah 1:25). Jehovah sifted Israel (compare the figure of the threshing-floor in Isaiah 21:10), at the time when, by suspending captivity over it, He blew as violently upon it as if the east wind had raged (vid., Job 2:1-13 :19). But He only sifted, He did not destroy.

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