Isaiah 43:24
You have bought me no sweet cane with money, neither have you filled me with the fat of your sacrifices: but you have made me to serve with your sins, you have wearied me with your iniquities.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) No sweet cane . . .—Probably some species of Amomum for the anointing oil (Exodus 30:23). It is distinguished from the incense, and is not one of the ingredients (Exodus 30:34).

Thou hast made me to serve.—The verbs of Isaiah 43:23 are repeated with the emphasis of scorn, the thought being analogous to that of Isaiah 1:14. The people had made this hypocritical worship as a service which their God had to endure, till He was altogether weary of it.

43:22-28 Those who neglect to call upon God, are weary of him. The Master tired not the servants with his commands, but they tired him with disobedience. What were the riches of God's mercy toward them? I, even I, am he who yet blotteth out thy transgressions. This encourages us to repent, because there is forgiveness with God, and shows the freeness of Divine mercy. When God forgives, he forgets. It is not for any thing in us, but for his mercies' sake, his promise' sake; especially for his Son's sake. He is pleased to reckon it his honour. Would man justify himself before God? The attempt is desperate: our first father broke the covenant, and we all have copied his example. We have no reason to expect pardon, except we seek it by faith in Christ; and that is always attended by true repentance, and followed by newness of life, by hatred of sin, and love to God. Let us then put him in remembrance of the promises he has made to the penitent, and the satisfaction his Son has made for them. Plead these with him in wrestling for pardon; and declare these things, that thou mayest be justified freely by his grace. This is the only way, and it is a sure way to peace.Thou hast bought me - You have not purchased this - implying that it was not produced in Palestine, but was an article of commerce. It was to be obtained only from abroad. This is expressly affirmed in Jeremiah 6:20 : 'To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from afar country?' That it was an article of commerce is also apparent from Ezekiel 27:19 : 'Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in thy fairs (that is, Tyre): bright iron, cassia, and calamus (קנה qâneh), were in thy market.'

Sweet cane - The word used here (קנה qâneh), denotes properly "cane, reed, calamus" (Greek κάννα kanna and κάννη kannē, Latin canna, whence the English, cane; French, canne; Italian, canna). It usually refers to a reed growing in wet or marshy ground. It denotes also sweet cane, calamus aromaticus. It is sometimes joined with the word בשׂם bôs'em, aromatic, odor, fragrance, spice, as in Exodus 30:23; see also Jeremiah 6:20. According to Pliny (xii. 22) it grew in Arabia, Syria, and India; according to Theophrastus, in the vales of Lebanon (Hist. Plant. ix. 7). It was used among the Hebrews in compounding the sacred perfumes Exodus 30:23. It is a knotty root, of a reddish color, and contains a soft white pith - in resemblance probably not unlike the calamus so well known in this country. Strabo and Diodorus Siculus say that it grew in Saba. Hasselquist says that it is common in the deserts of the two Arabias. It is gathered near Jumbo, a port town of Arabia Petrea, from where it is brought into Egypt. The Venetians purchase it, and use it in the composition of their 'theriaca.' It is much esteemed among the Arabs on account of its fragrance. See Calmet (Art. Cane), and Gesenius (Lex. and Commentary in loc). It was not probably used in the worship of God anywhere except among the Hebrews. The pagans made use of incense, but I do not know that they used the calamus.

Neither hast thou filled me - Margin, 'Made me drunk,' or 'abundantly moistened.' The word used here (רוה râvâh), means properly "to drink to the full, to be satisfied, sated with drink." See it explained in the notes at Isaiah 34:6. It is applied to water which is drank, or to fat which is sucked in or drank rather than eaten Psalm 36:9; or to a sword as drinking up blood. Here it means to satiate, or to satisfy. They had not offered the fat of sacrifices so as to satiate God. Probably this passage does not mean that the Jews had wholly neglected the public worship of God; they had not worshipped him with a proper spirit, and had thus served him with their sins, and wearied him with their transgressions. It is true, also, that while they were abundant in external rites and ceremonies, they frequently made oblations to idols, rather than to the true God. Perhaps, therefore, an emphasis is to be placed on the word 'me' in this passage, meaning, that however diligent and regular they had been in the performance of the external rites and duties of religion, yet that God had been neglected.

Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins - You have made it oppressive, burdensome, wearisome for me, like the hard and onerous service of a slave (see the note at Isaiah 43:23; compare the note at Isaiah 1:14).

24. bought—for "sweet cane" (aromatic calamus) was not indigenous to Palestine, but had to be bought from foreign countries (Jer 6:20). It was used among the Hebrews to make the sacred ointment (Ex 30:23). It is often offered as a mark of hospitality.

filled—satiated (Jer 31:14). God deigns to use human language to adapt Himself to human modes of thought.

made me to serve—though "I have not caused thee to serve" (Isa 43:23). Our sin made the Son of God to become "a servant." He served to save us from servile bondage (Php 2:7; Heb 2:14, 15).

wearied me—Though I have "not wearied thee" (Isa 43:23; see Isa 1:14).

Thou hast bought me no sweet cane; or, calamus, as this word is rendered, Exodus 30:23, which was used in the making of that precious ointment, Exodus 30:34, and as a perfume, or for the incense, Exodus 30:7: see Jeremiah 6:20. The meaning of this clause seems to be this, Thou hast been niggardly in my service, when thou hast spared for no cost in the service of thine idols, as is elsewhere noted.

Neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; thou hast offered no more sacrifices than were simply necessary; thou hast not multiplied thy thank-offerings and free-will offerings, though I have given thee sufficient occasion to do so.

Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins; thou hast made me to bear the load and burden of thy sins, which are very grievous and oppressive to me, Amos 2:13, and great exercises of my patience. Yea, thou hast made it necessary for me to take upon me the form of a servant, that I might bear and carry away thy sins. This clause and that which follows are opposed to and aggravated by what he said, Isaiah 43:23. I did not make thee to serve or weary thee with offerings, though that work was honourable and beneficial to thee, as well as conducing to my service; but thou hast made me to serve in the vilest manner, with such things as are not only offensive to me, but also pernicious to thee. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money,.... Or "calamus" (r), which was used in the anointing oil, and for the perfume or incense, Exodus 30:7, this they thought too expensive, and so left it out of the composition, or neglected the whole this being put a part for the whole. Jarchi gives it as the sense, that they had no need to buy it, since it grew in great plenty in the land of Israel, which he took to be cinnamon; though this is distinguished from calamus, or the sweet cane, Sol 4:14, wherefore Kimchi much better observes, that it was not to be had in the land of Israel, but came from a land afar off; and therefore must be bought; see Jeremiah 6:20, hence grudging to give the price for it, and to be at the expense of it, bought it not, and disused it:

neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; they did not multiply their sacrifices, offered only just what the law required, if so many, and those of the leaner sort; and whereas the fat of the sacrifices was the Lord's, there was little of it for him in these:

but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities; they were so many, and so aggravated, that he could not bear with them any longer, his patience was worn out; they were an uneasiness to him, as it were a burden upon him, and therefore would ease himself, as he sometimes does, by avenging himself, Isaiah 1:24, but here by pardoning them, as in the following verse. Some think that these are the words of Christ, the surety of his people, who took upon him the form of a servant for the sake of them, and had all their sins laid upon him, and which he bore, and made satisfaction for; and were to the human nature a burden, and a weariness to it; see Psalm 40:12. This must be understood of the remnant according to the election of grace, among these people so sadly corrupted, for whose sins of omission and commission Christ made atonement; and upon the foot of his satisfaction, remission of sins proceeds, as in the next verse: this they thought too chargeable, and so left it out of the composition, or neglected the whole this being put a part for the whole. Jarchi gives it as the sense, that they had no need to buy it, since it grew in great plenty in the land of Israel, which he took to be cinnamon; though this is distinguished from calamus, or the sweet cane, Sol 4:14, wherefore Kimchi much better observes, that it was not to be had in the land of Israel, but came from a land afar off; and therefore must be bought; see Jeremiah 6:20, hence grudging to give the price for it, and to be at the expense of it, bought it not, and disused it:

neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; they did not multiply their sacrifices, offered only just what the law required, if so many, and those of the leaner sort; and whereas the fat of the sacrifices was the Lord's, there was little of it for him in these:

but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities; they were so many, and so aggravated, that he could not bear with them any longer, his patience was worn out; they were an uneasiness to him, as it were a burden upon him, and therefore would ease himself, as he sometimes does, by avenging himself, Isaiah 1:24, but here by pardoning them, as in the following verse. Some think that these are the words of Christ, the surety of his people, who took upon him the form of a servant for the sake of them, and had all their sins laid upon him, and which he bore, and made satisfaction for; and were to the human nature a burden, and a weariness to it; see Psalm 40:12. This must be understood of the remnant according to the election of grace, among these people so sadly corrupted, for whose sins of omission and commission Christ made atonement; and upon the foot of his satisfaction, remission of sins proceeds, as in the next verse.

(r) "calamum", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus; "calamum odoratum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Vitringa.

Thou hast bought me no sweet {a} cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast {b} burdened me with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thy iniquities.

(a) Either for the composition of the sweet ointment Ex 30:34, or for the sweet incense Ex 30:7.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. sweet cane] (qâneh) is also mentioned in Jeremiah 6:20 as coming from a “far country.” It is supposed to be calamus odoratus, a product of India, but grown also in Arabia and Syria; hence Jarchi, the Jewish commentator, explains: “because there was enough in Palestine”! It formed an ingredient in the sacred oil with which the priests, the tabernacle, &c. were anointed (Exodus 30:23, E.V. “sweet calamus”). One of the rare paronomasias in this prophecy is the play of words between this name and the verb for “buy” (qânâh).

filled me] satiated me (as R.V. marg.).

with the fat] cf. Jeremiah 31:14; Psalm 36:8.

but (only) thou hast made me to serve …] This is the contrast which the prophet has had in view from the beginning of the section: while Jehovah has not burdened His people even with the offerings which it had been too ready to bring, it has burdened Him with its sins; and while Israel has taken its whole relation to Jehovah lightly, He has accepted the burden, and laboured in its service for the removal of its guilt.Verse 24. - Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money. "Sweet cane" is mentioned in the Law only in connection with the "holy anointing oil" (Exodus 30:23). But the present passage raises a suspicion that it was practically used in the burnt offerings of private persons (see the next clause). That it was anciently used in Babylonia in sacrifice, appears from the Deluge Tablets ('Transactions of Society of Bibl. Archaeol.,' vol. 3. p. 559, 1. 48). But thou hast made me to serve with thy sins. "The sins of Israel," as Delitzsch observes, "pressed upon Jehovah, as a burthen does upon a servant." This is a part of the fundamental idea running through the third part of Isaiah, closely connected with the mediatorial office of the "Servant of the Lord," who "bare the sin of many" (Isaiah 53:12), and on whom "the Lord laid the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). Israel, both during the Captivity and before, had accumulated a heavy load of sin, not merely by negligence, but by overt acts of guilt (see Isaiah 1:4, 15, 21-23, etc.). There now follows a second field of the picture of redemption; and the expression "for your sake" is expounded in Isaiah 43:16-21 : "Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth a road through the sea, and a path through tumultuous waters; who bringeth out chariot and horse, army and hero; they lie down together, they never rise: they have flickered away, extinguished like a wick. Remember not things of olden time, nor meditate upon those of earlier times! Behold, I work out a new thing: will ye not live to see it? Yea, I make a road through the desert, and streams through solitudes. The beast of the field will praise me, wild dogs and ostriches: for I give water in the desert, streams in solitude, to give drink to my people, my chosen. The people that I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise." What Jehovah really says commences in Isaiah 43:18. Then in between He is described as Redeemer out of Egypt; for the redemption out of Egypt was a type and pledge of the deliverance to be looked for out of Babylon. The participles must not be rendered qui dedit, eduxit; but from the mighty act of Jehovah in olden time general attributes are deduced: He who makes a road in the sea, as He once showed. The sea with the tumultuous waters is the Red Sea (Nehemiah 9:11); ‛izzūz, which rhymes with vâsūs, is a concrete, as in Psalm 24:8, the army with the heroes at its head. The expression "bringeth out," etc., is not followed by "and suddenly destroys them," but we are transported at once into the very midst of the scenes of destruction. ישׁכּבוּ shows them to us entering upon the sleep of death, in which they lie without hope (Isaiah 26:14). The close (kappishtâh khâbhū) is iambic, as in Judges 5:27. The admonition in Isaiah 43:18 does not commend utter forgetfulness and disregard (see Isaiah 66:9); but that henceforth they are to look forwards rather than backward. The new thing which Jehovah is in the process of working out eclipses the old, and deserves a more undivided and prolonged attention. Of this new thing it is affirmed, "even now it sprouts up;" whereas in Isaiah 42:9, even in the domain of the future, a distinction was drawn between "the former things" and "new things," and it could be affirmed of the latter that they were not yet sprouting up. In the passage before us the entire work of God in the new time is called chădâshâh (new), and is placed in contrast with the ri'shōnōth, or occurrences of the olden time; so that as the first part of this new thing had already taken place (Isaiah 42:9), and there was only the last part still to come, it might very well be affirmed of the latter, that it was even now sprouting up (not already, which עתה may indeed also mean, but as in Isaiah 48:7). In connection with this, תדעוּה הלוא (a verbal form with the suffix, as in Jeremiah 13:17, with kametz in the syllable before the tone, as in Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 47:11, in pause) does not mean, "Will ye then not regard it," as Ewald, Umbreit, and others render it; but, "shall ye not, i.e., assuredly ye will, experience it." The substance of the chădâshâh (the new thing) is unfolded in Isaiah 43:19. It enfolds a rich fulness of wonders: אף affirming that, among other things, Jehovah will do this one very especially. He transforms the pathless, waterless desert, that His chosen one, the people of God, may be able to go through in safety, and without fainting. And the benefits of this miracle of divine grace reach the animal world as well, so that their joyful cries are an unconscious praise of Jehovah. (On the names of the animals, see Khler on Malachi 1:3.) In this we can recognise the prophet, who, as we have several times observed since chapter 11 (compare especially Isaiah 30:23-24; Isaiah 35:7), has not only a sympathizing heart for the woes of the human race, but also an open ear for the sighs of all creation. He knows that when the sufferings of the people of God shall be brought to an end, the sufferings of creation will also terminate; for humanity is the heart of the universe, and the people of God (understanding by this the people of God according to the Spirit) are the heart of humanity. In v. 21 the promise is brought to a general close: the people that (zū personal and relative, as in Isaiah 42:24)

(Note: The pointing connects עם־זוּ with makkeph, so that the rendering would be, "The people there I have formed for myself;" but according to our view, עם should be accented with yethib, and zū with munach. In just the same way, zū is connected with the previous noun as a demonstrative, by means of makkeph, in Exodus 15:13, Exodus 15:16; Psalm 9:16; Psalm 62:12; Psalm 142:4; Psalm 143:8, and by means of a subsidiary accent in Psalm 10:2; Psalm 12:8. The idea which underlies Isaiah 42:24 appears to be, "This is the retribution that we have met with from him."' But in none of these can we be bound by the punctuation.)

I have formed for myself will have richly to relate how I glorified myself in them.

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