Isaiah 28:13
But the word of the LORD was to them precept on precept, precept on precept; line on line, line on line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) That they might go, and fall backward . . .—The words are an echo of those in Isaiah 8:14-15. The preaching which might have led to “rest and refreshing” would become to those who scorned it a “stumbling stone” on which they would fall, a “net” in which they, who boasted of their freedom, would be entangled.

Isaiah 28:13. But the word of the Lord was unto them, &c. — The sense of the passage thus rendered, may be, that they spake of God’s word with scorn and contempt, repeating the prophet’s words, (which are as peculiar in sound, as they are strong and expressive in sense, קו לקו, קו לקו, צו לצו, צו לצו, tzav latzav, tzav latzav, kav lakav, kav lakav,) in a scoffing manner, and with a ridiculous tone of voice; as if they had said, It seems the prophet takes us to be mere children, that need to be taught the very rudiments of knowledge, and that but slowly. Precept upon precept, line upon line, &c. — That these were scornful men and mockers, is affirmed Isaiah 28:14; Isaiah 28:22; and, as scoffers frequently catch the words out of other men’s mouths, and use them in the way of derision; so it may be thought they did with the prophet’s words. But the clause may be rendered a little otherwise, as indeed it is by divers learned men, thus: And the word of the Lord shall be unto them, precept upon precept, &c.; as this method has been used, and was altogether necessary for them, so it still is, and for the future shall be. As they were children in understanding, they shall continue to be such; they shall be ever learning, and never come to the knowledge of the truth; as they formerly would not, so now they shall not profit by the word, and their sin shall be their punishment. That they may, or might go, and fall backward — This will be the event, or consequence of their sin: they will fall backward, which is the worst and most dangerous way of falling; and so be broken to pieces.28:5-15 The prophet next turns to Judah, whom he calls the residue of his people. Happy are those alone, who glory in the Lord of hosts himself. Hence his people get wisdom and strength for every service and every conflict. But it is only in Christ Jesus that the holy God communicates with sinful man. And whether those that teach are drunk with wine, or intoxicated with false doctrines and notions concerning the kingdom and salvation of the Messiah, they not only err themselves, but lead multitudes astray. All places where such persons have taught are filled with errors. For our instruction in the things of God, it is needful that the same precept and the same line should be often repeated to us, that we may the better understand them. God, by his word, calls us to what is really for our advantage; the service of God is the only true rest for those weary of the service of sin, and there is no refreshment but under the easy yoke of the Lord Jesus. All this had little effect upon the people. Those who will not understand what is plain, but scorn and despise it as mean and trifling, are justly punished. If we are at peace with God, we have, in effect, made a covenant with death; whenever it comes, it cannot do us any real damage, if we are Christ's. But to think of making death our friend, while by sin we are making God our enemy, is absurd. And do not they make lies their refuge who trust in their own righteousness, or to a death-bed repentance? which is a resolution to sin no more, when it is no longer in their power to do so.But the word of the Lord was unto them - Or, rather, but the word of Yahweh "shall be" unto them. This refers to the mode in which God said He would instruct them in a foreign land. They had complained Isaiah 28:9-10 that his instructions had been like a short lesson constantly repeated, as we instruct children. God here says that it should be as they said it was - they would be carried away to a distant land, and long abide among strangers; they would have ample time there to acquire instruction, and all that they would receive would be lesson after lesson of the same kind - line upon line, one judgment following another, until the lesson of their disobedience had been fully inculcated, and they had been brought to true repentance.

Here a little, and there a little - So they had said Isaiah 28:10 the lessons of God were to them by the prophets. So God says his lessons "shall be" to them by judgment. It shall not come in one sudden and overpowering burst of indignation, but it shall be, as it were, dealt out to them in small portions that it may not be soon exhausted.

That they might go ... - That they may go into captivity, and stumble, and be broken by the judgments of God. God will so deal out the lessons of his judgment and wrath, that as a people they shall be broken up, and made prisoners, and be borne to a distant land.

13. But—rather, "Therefore," namely, because "they would not hear" (Isa 28:12).

that they might go—the designed result to those who, from a defect of the will, so far from profiting by God's mode of instructing, "precept upon precept," &c., made it into a stumbling-block (Ho 6:5; 8:12; Mt 13:14).

go, and fall—image appropriately from "drunkards" (Isa 28:7, 8, which they were) who in trying to "go forward fall backward."

The sense of the words thus rendered may be this, They spake of God’s word with scorn and contempt, repeating the prophet’s words in a scoffing manner, and with a stammering and ridiculous tone, saying, Precept upon precept, &c.; as if they had said, It seems the prophet takes us to be mere children, that need to be taught our first rudiments, and that but slowly. That these were scornful men. and mockers is affirmed, Isaiah 28:14,22; and as scoffers frequently catch the words out of other men’s mouths, and use them in way of derision, so it may be thought they did with the prophet’s words. But the words may be, and by divers learned men are, rendered a little otherwise;

And the word of the Lord shall be unto them precept upon precept, &c. As this method hath been used by them, and was altogether necessary for them; so it still is, and for the future shall be. As they were children in understanding, they shall still continue to be such; they shall be ever learning, and never come to the knowledge of the truth; as they formerly would not, so now they shall not, profit by the word; and their sin shall be their punishment. And this seems to suit with the following clause, which notes the dreadful design and effect of that judicial blindness,

that they may or might go and fall backward, & c.

That they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken: according to the former, which is our translation, this clause notes only the event or consequent of their sin; according to the latter, it notes the judgment of God designed and inflicted for it; that God’s word being so horribly abused by them, might be an occasion at which they might stumble and fall, and that backward, which is the worst and most dangerous way of falling; and so be broken to pieces, or by which they might be snared and taken. But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept,.... Was despised and derided by them; they took the prophet's words out of his mouth, and in a scoffing manner repeated them; which, in the Hebrew text, is in a rhyming form, and were sung and drawled out by them, "Tsau lotsau, Tsau lotsau, Kau lakau, Kau lakau": this is all he can say to us, and we have from him:

precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; or the words may be rendered, "and the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept", &c.; as it had been, so it still was; the same method was continued to be taken with them, and they still treated as children; and it is suggested that they should remain so, and not be men in understanding; and that they should be ever learning like children, and never come to the knowledge of the truth. Moreover, the words may be rendered, "though the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept", &c.; though it was delivered in so plain and easy a manner to them, and such methods of instruction were used gradually and gently, to instil knowledge into them, yet so stupid were they as not to receive it, and so perverse and stubborn as wilfully to reject it; hence they were given up to judicial blindness and hardness, Romans 11:8,

that they might go and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken: go on in their own sinful ways, backslide from God, and be broken by his judgments; and be ensnared and taken in the net of the Babylonians, and be carried by them into captivity; see Ezekiel 12:13 compare with this Matthew 21:44 or rather fall into the hands of the Romans, and be taken and dispersed by them among the nations.

But the word of the {o} LORD was to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

(o) Because they will not receive the word of God, when it is offered, it comes of their own malice, if after their hearts are so hardened, that they care not for it, as before, Isa 6:9.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. But the word of the Lord was] Render: And (so) the word of Jehovah shall be—all that they had scoffingly said about Isaiah’s message (Isaiah 28:10), a monotonous, intolerable, yet unavoidable, succession of judgments (cf. Isaiah 28:19).

that they might … backward] that they may go and stumble backwards (cf. ch. Isaiah 6:11-12). and be broken … taken] as in ch. Isaiah 8:15.Verse 13. - The word of the Lord was to them; rather, shall be to them. God will now speak to them, not by his prophet, but by the Assyrian conqueror, who will do what they said Isaiah had done, i.e. lay upon them command after command, rule alter rule, a constant series of minute injunctions, under which they will chafe and fret and at last rebel, but only to be "snared and taken." It is uncertain whether the reference is to the immediate future and to the Assyrians proper only, or whether the Babylonians are not taken into account also, and their oppression of Judaea pointed to. The yoke of Babylon was probably quite as difficult to endure as that of Assyria; and we find that, in the space of eighteen years, it produced at least three rebellions. With the words, "and they also," the prophet commences the second half of the address, and passes from Ephraim to Judah. "And they also reel with wine, and are giddy with meth; priest and prophet reel with meth, are swallowed up by wine: they are giddy with meth, reel when seeing visions, stagger when pronouncing judgment. For all tables are full of filthy vomit, without any more place." The Judaeans are not less overcome with wine than the Ephraimites, and especially the rulers of Judah. In wicked violation of the law of God, which prohibited the priests from drinking strong drink when performing priestly service, and that on pain of death (Leviticus 10:9, cf., Ezekiel 44:21), they were intoxicated even in the midst of their prophetic visions (הראה, literally "the thing seeing," then the act of seeing; equivalent to ראי, like חזה in Isaiah 28:15 equals חזוּת; Olshausen, 176, c), and when passing judicial sentences. In the same way Micah also charges the prophets and priests with being drunkards (Micah 3:1., cf., Isaiah 2:11). Isaiah's indignation is manifested in the fact, that in the words which he uses he imitates the staggering and stumbling of the topers; like the well-known passage, Sta pes sta mi pes stas pes ne labere mi pes. Observe, for example, the threefold repetition of shâgu - tâghu, shâgu - tâghu, shâgu - pâqu. The hereditary priests and the four prophets represent the whole of the official personages. The preterites imply that drunkenness had become the fixed habit of the holders of these offices. The preposition בּ indicates the cause ("through," as in 2 Samuel 13:28 and Esther 1:10), and min the effect proceeding from the cause (in consequence of wine). In v. 8 we can hear them vomit. We have the same combination of the and צ in the verb kotzen, Gothic kozan. All the tables of the carousal are full, without there being any further room (cf., Isaiah 5:8); everything swims with vomit. The prophet paints from nature, here without idealizing. He receives their conduct as it were in a mirror, and then in the severest tones holds up this mirror before them, adults though they were.
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