Isaiah 30:1
Woe to the rebellious children, said the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXX.

(1) Woe to the rebellious children . . .—The interjection perhaps expresses sorrow rather than indignation, Alas, for . . .! as in Isaiah 1:4. The prophet hears that the intrigues of the palace have at last issued in favour of an alliance with Egypt, and that an embassy has been already sent.

That cover with a covering.—Better, that weave a web. The word was fitly chosen then, as now, to describe the subtle intricacies of a double-dealing diplomacy. Some, however, render “form a molten image,” not as referring to actual idolatry, but to the trust in human plans which the prophet condemns.

Isaiah 30:1-5. Wo to the rebellious children — The Jews, who called themselves God’s children, though they were rebellious ones, as was said Isaiah 1:2. That take counsel — That consult together, and resolve what to do; but not of me — Not following nor asking my advice, which I encouraged and commanded them to do. And cover with a covering — Seek protection; but not of my Spirit — Not such as by my Spirit, speaking in my word, I have directed and required them to seek; that they may add sin to sin — That unto all their other sins, by which they have deserved and provoked my judgments, they may add distrust of my power and mercy, and put confidence in an arm of flesh. That walk to go down into Egypt — That send ambassadors to Egypt for succour, which the Jews were prone to do upon all occasions, and did now upon the invasion of the king of Assyria, chap. 20:5, 6; and have not asked at my mouth — Either by the priests or prophets, as they were commanded to do in weighty cases. The strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame — Not only unprofitable, but mischievous to you. For his princes — The princes of Judah; were at Zoan — Sent thither by the king, or by their brethren. His ambassadors came to Hanes — An eminent city of Egypt, called more largely Tahapanes. They were all ashamed — Both the messengers and they who sent them; of a people that could not profit them — For, though the Egyptians, in conjunction with the Ethiopians, did so far assist the Jews as to give a diversion to Sennacherib’s forces; yet, being entirely routed, they became rather a burden than a help to the Jews, and are therefore (Isaiah 36:6) compared to a broken reed, which not only fails the hand that leans upon it, but pierces and wounds it.30:1-7 It was often the fault and folly of the Jews, that when troubled by their neighbours on one side, they sought for succour from others, instead of looking up to God. Nor can we avoid the dreadful consequences of adding sin to sin, but by making the righteousness of Christ our refuge, and seeking for the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Men have always been prone to lean to their own understandings, but this will end in their shame and misery. They would not trust in God. They took much pains to gain the Egyptians. The riches so spent turned to a bad account. See what dangers men run into who forsake God to follow their carnal confidences. The Creator is the Rock of ages, the creature a broken reed; we cannot expect too little from man, or too much from God. Our strength is to sit still, in humble dependence upon God and his goodness, and quiet submission to his will.Wo, - (see the note at Isaiah 18:1).

To the rebellious children - To those whom he had nourished as children, and who had rebelled against him (see the note at Isaiah 1:23).

That take counsel, but not of me - They look to Egypt, and depend on a human arm.

And that cover with a covering - The idea here, according to our translation, is, that they seek protection or a covering from the impending calamity. Lowth renders this, 'Who ratify covenants;' supposing that the reference is to the fact that in ancient times compacts were formed by offering sacrifices, and by pouring out libations. The Hebrew, according to Lowth, means, 'who pour out a libation.' So the Septuagint renders it, Συνθήκας sunthēkas - 'And thou hast made covenants.' The Syriac renders it, 'Who pour out libations.' The Hebrew word נסך nâsak properly conveys the idea of pouring out, and is applied:

(1) to the act of pouring out wine as a drink offering, or as a libation to God Genesis 35:14; Exodus 30:9; 1 Chronicles 11:18; Hosea 9:4;

(2) to the act of pouring out oil, that is, to anointing kings and rulers Psalm 2:6; Daniel 11:8;

(3) to the act of pouring out melted metals, that is, to cast them Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 44:10.

The word also may have a meaning kindred to סכך sâkak and denote "to cover," as in Isaiah 25:7. Various derivatives from the word are rendered 'to cover withal' Numbers 4:7; 'the covering' Isaiah 28:20; 'the web,' that is, that which is woven for a covering Judges 16:13-14. The idea, however, which best suits the connection here is probably that suggested by Lowth, in accordance with the Septuagint, and the Syriac, and adopted by Rosenmuller, Gesenius, and others, "to make a libation;" that is, to ratify a covenant, or compact.

But not of my Spirit - It was not such as was suggested by his Spirit, and not such as he would approve.

That they may add sin to sin - They add to the sin of rebellion against God that of forming an alliance. Sins do not usually stand alone. When one is committed, it is often necessary to commit others in order to carry out and complete the plan which that contemplated.

CHAPTER 30

Isa 30:1-32. The Thirtieth Through Thirty-second Chapters Refer Probably to the Summer of 714 B.C., AS THE Twenty-ninth Chapter to the Passover of That Year.

Jewish ambassadors were now on their way to Egypt to seek aid against Assyria (Isa 30:2-6, 15; 31:1). Isaiah denounces this reliance on Egypt rather than on Jehovah. God had prohibited such alliances with heathen nations, and it was a leading part of Jewish polity that they should be a separate people (Ex 23:32; De 7:2).

1. take counsel—rather, as Isa 30:4, 6 imply, "execute counsels."

cover … covering—that is, wrap themselves in reliances disloyal towards Jehovah. "Cover" thus answers to "seek to hide deeply their counsel from the Lord" (Isa 29:15). But the Hebrew is literally, "who pour out libations"; as it was by these that leagues were made (Ex 24:8; Zec 9:11), translate, "who make a league."

not of—not suggested by My Spirit" (Nu 27:21; Jos 9:14).

that they may add—The consequence is here spoken of as their intention, so reckless were they of sinning: one sin entails the commission of another (De 29:19).The prophet threateneth the people for their confidence in Egypt, Isaiah 30:1-7, and contempt of God’s word, Isaiah 30:8-11; wherefore they shall be destroyed, Isaiah 30:12-17. God’s mercies towards the church, Isaiah 30:18-26. God’s wrath and his people’s joy in the destruction of Assyria, Isaiah 30:27-33.

The rebellious children; the Jews, who call themselves God’s children, though they are rebellious ones, as was said, Isaiah 1:2.

That take counsel; that consult together, and resolve to do what follows, Isaiah 30:2.

Not of me; not following nor asking my advice, which they had command and encouragement from me to do.

That cover with a covering; that seek protection.

Not of my Spirit; not such as by my Spirit, speaking in my word, I have directed and required them to do; but such as I have severely forbidden to them; for the contrary affirmative is frequently implied in the negative; of which I have formerly given many instances.

That they may add sin to sin; that unto those sins, by which they have deserved and procured my judgments upon them, they may add distrust of my power and mercy to save them, and confidence in an arm of flesh, which also is rebellion against my express command to the contrary.

Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord,.... The Jews, who were, by national adoption, and by outward profession of religion, the "children" of God, but were apostates from him, had turned their backs upon him, deviated from his law, and departed from his worship and ordinances; and therefore a woe is pronounced against them, or they are called upon to consider of their evil ways, and return, that iniquity might not be their ruin:

that take counsel, but not of me; they met and consulted together about their safety, when in danger, but did not ask counsel of the Lord; they did not consult his word, nor his prophets, nor by Urim and Thummim, as in case of war they should more especially:

and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit; they sought for a cover, a shelter, a protection from the enemy, but not from the Spirit of the Lord, in his word and prophets, who would have directed them to a more suitable and sufficient one. Kimchi understands this of their covert and secret counsels, which they laid deep, as they fancied, and sought to hide. The Targum of the former clause and this is,

"that take counsel, but not of my word; that consult a consultation, but do not ask of my prophets:''

that they may add sin to sin; the sins of consulting others, and of putting confidence in a creature, to their other sins of rebellion and apostasy: so wicked men, who are enemies in their minds, by wicked works, to God, and commit acts of hostility against him, and are in danger thereby of eternal ruin, do not consult the word and ministers of the Gospel, but flesh and blood, carnal sense and reason, and seek to cover themselves with the rags of their own righteousness, and not with the robe of Christ's righteousness, and garments of salvation, which the Spirit of God reveals and brings near; and so to their other sins they add that of trusting to their own righteousness, and not submitting to Christ's.

Woe to the {a} rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not from me; and that {b} cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:

(a) Who contrary to their promise take not me for their protector and contrary to my commandment seek help from strangers.

(b) They seek shifts to cloak their doings and not godly means.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. Woe to the rebellious children] See on Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 1:4 and Isaiah 1:23; cf. Isaiah 30:9. The “sons” are “rebellious” inasmuch as they have taken this step without consulting Jehovah, their Father.

that take counsel] Rather, that carry out a plan.

that cover with a covering] R.V. gives in the margin two translations, between which it is difficult to choose: either that weave a web or that pour out a drink-offering. The latter is perhaps preferable, although the noun does not occur elsewhere with the sense of “libation” (see Isaiah 25:7, Isaiah 28:20, “covering”). The allusion would be to drink-offerings accompanying the conclusion of a treaty (comp. σπονδή = libation with (σπονδαί = covenant).

not of (with) my spirit] i.e. not in accordance with the spirit of prophecy speaking through Isaiah.

that they may add sin to sin] the sin of concealment to the original sin of dallying with secular alliances.

1–5. The futile alliance with Egypt denounced. Comp. Isaiah 29:15, Isaiah 31:1.Verse 1. - Woe to the rebellious children (comp. Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 65:2). The word translated "rebellious" is used in Deuteronomy 21:18, 20 of the persistently disobedient son, who was to be brought before the elders and stoned to death. That take counsel; rather, that form plans, such as the plan now formed to call in the aid of Egypt. It must be borne in mind that, under the theocracy, there was an authorized mode of consulting God, and receiving an answer from him, in any political emergency. That cover with a covering. The exact metaphor employed is uncertain, Mr. Cheyne renders, "that weave a web;" Dr. Kay, "that pour out a molten image." The meaning, however, in any case is, "that carry out a design," the clause being a mere variant of the preceding one. That they may add sin to sin; i.e. "to add a fresh sin to all their former sins." But the prophet's God, whose omniscience, creative glory, and perfect wisdom they so basely mistook and ignored, would very shortly turn the present state of the world upside down, and make Himself a congregation out of the poor and wretched, whilst He would entirely destroy this proud ungodly nation. "Is it not yet a very little, and Lebanon is turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field esteemed as a forest? And in that day the deaf hear scripture words, and the eyes of the blind will see out of obscurity and out of darkness. And the joy of the humble increases in Jehovah, and the poor among men will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For tyrants are gone, and it is over with scoffers; and all who think evil are rooted out, who condemn a man for a word, and lay snares for him that is free-spoken in the gate, and overthrow the righteous through shameful lies." The circumstances themselves, as well as the sentence passed, will experience a change, in complete contrast with the present state of things. This is what is affirmed in Isaiah 29:17; probably a proverb transposed into a more literary style. What is now forest becomes ennobled into garden ground; and what is garden ground becomes in general estimation a forest (לכרמל, ליער, although we should rather expect ל, just as in Isaiah 32:15). These emblems are explained in Isaiah 29:18. The people that are now blind and deaf, so far as the word of Jehovah is concerned, are changed into a people with open ears and seeing eyes. Scripture words, like those which the prophet now holds before the people so unsuccessfully, are heard by those who have been deaf. The unfettered sight of those who have been blind pierces through the hitherto surrounding darkness. The heirs of the new future thus transformed are the anâvı̄m ("meek") and the 'ebhyōnı̄m ("poor"). אדם (the antithesis of אנשׁהים, e.g., Isaiah 29:13) heightens the representation of lowliness; the combination is a superlative one, as in הצאן צעירי, Jeremiah 49:20, and הצאן עניי in Zechariah 11:7 (cf., חיות פריץ in Isaiah 35:9): needy men who present a glaring contrast to, and stand out from, the general body of men. Such men will obtain ever increasing joy in Jehovah (yâsaph as in Isaiah 37:31). Such a people of God would take the place of the oppressors (cf., Isaiah 28:12) and scoffers (cf., Isaiah 28:14, Isaiah 28:22), and those who thought evil (shâqad, invigilare, sedulo agere), i.e., the wretched planners, who made a חטא of every one who did not enter into their plans (i.e., who called him a chōtē'; cf., Deuteronomy 24:4; Ecclesiastes 5:5), and went to law with the man who openly opposed them in the gate (Amos 5:10; yeqōshūn, possibly the perf. kal, cf., Jeremiah 50:24; according to the syntax, however, it is the fut. kal of qūsh equals yâqōsh: see at Isaiah 26:16; Ges. 44, Anm. 4), and thrust away the righteous, i.e., forced him away from his just rights (Isaiah 10:2), by tōhū, i.e., accusations and pretences of the utmost worthlessness; for these would all have been swept away. This is the true explanation of the last clause, as given in the Targum, and not "into the desert and desolation," as Knobel and Luzzatto suppose; for with Isaiah tōhū is the synonym for all such words as signify nothingness, groundlessness, and fraud. The prophet no doubt had in his mind, at the time that he uttered these words, the conduct of the people towards himself and his fellow-prophets, and such as were like-minded with them. The charge brought against him of being a conspirator, or a traitor to his country, was a tōhū of this kind. All these conspirators and persecutors Jehovah would clear entirely away.
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