Isaiah 50:1
Thus said the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have you sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.
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Thus saith the Lord - To the Jews in Babylon, who were suffering under his hand, and who might be disposed to complain that God had dealt with them with as much caprice and cruelty as a man did with his wife, when he gave her a writing of divorce, and put her away without any just cause.

Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement? - God here speaks of himself as the husband of his people, as having married the church to himself, denoting the tender affection which he had for his people. This figure is frequently used in the Bible. Thus in Isaiah 62:5 : 'As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee;' 'For thy Maker is thy husband' Isaiah 54:5; 'Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord, for I am married unto you' Jeremiah 3:14. Thus in Revelation 21:9, the church is called 'the bride, the Lamb's wife.' Compare Ezekiel 16:See Lowth on Hebrew poetry, Lec. xxxi. The phrase, 'bill of divorcement.' refers to the writing or instrument which a husband was by law obliged to give a wife when he chose to put her away. This custom of divorce Moses found probably in existence among the Jews, and also in surrounding nations, and as it was difficult if not impossible at once to remove it, he permitted it on account of the hardness of the hearts of the Jews (Deuteronomy 24:1; compare Matthew 19:8).

It originated probably from the erroneous views which then prevailed of the nature of the marriage compact. It was extensively regarded as substantially like any other compact, in which the wife became a purchase from her father, and of course as she had been purchased, the husband claimed the right of dismissing her when he pleased. Moses nowhere defines the causes for which a man might put away his wife, but left these to be judged of by the people themselves. But he regulated the way in which it might be done. He ordained a law which was designed to operate as a material check on the hasty feelings, the caprice, and the passions of the husband. He designed that it should be with him, if exercised, not a matter of mere excited feeling, but that he should take time to deliberate upon it; and hence, he ordained that in all cases a formal instrument of writing should be executed releasing the wife from the marriage tie, and leaving her at liberty to pursue her own inclinations in regard to future marriages Deuteronomy 24:2.

It is evident that this would operate very materially in favor of the wife, and in checking and restraining the excited passions of the husband (see Jahn's Bib. Antiq. Section 160; Michaelis' Commentary on the Laws of Moses, vol. i. pp. 450-478; ii.-127-40. Ed. Lond. 1814, 8vo.) In the passage before us, God says that he had not rejected his people. He had not been governed by the caprice, sudden passion, or cruelty which husbands often evinced. There was a just cause why he had treated them as he had, and he did not regard them as the children of a divorced wife. The phrase, 'your mother,' Here is used to denote the ancestry from whom they were descended. They were not regarded as the children of a disgraced mother.

Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you - Among the Hebrews, a father had the right, by the law of Moses, if he was oppressed with debt, to sell his children Exodus 21:7; Nehemiah 5:5. In like manner, if a man had stolen anything, and had nothing to make restitution, he might be sold for the theft Exodus 22:3. If a man also was poor and unable to pay his debts, he might be sold Leviticus 25:39; 2 Kings 4:1; Matthew 18:25. On the subject of slavery among the Hebrews, and the Mosaic laws in regard to it, see Michaelis' Commentary on the Laws of Moses, vol. ii. pp. 155, following In this passage, God says that he had not been governed by any such motives in his dealings with his people. He had not dealt with them as a poor parent sometimes felt himself under a necessity of doing, when he sold his children, or as a creditor did when a man was not able to pay him. He had been governed by different motives, and he had punished them only on account of their transgressions.

Ye have sold yourselves - That is, you have gone into captivity only on account of your sins. It has been your own act, and you have thus become bondmen to a foreign power only by your own choice.

Is your mother put away - Retaining the figure respecting divorce. The nation has been rejected, and suffered to go into exile, only on account of its transgressions.

Thus saith the Lord - This chapter has been understood of the prophet himself; but it certainly speaks more clearly about Jesus of Nazareth than of Isaiah, the son of Amos.

Where is the bill "Where is this bill" - Husbands, through moroseness or levity of temper, often sent bills of divorcement to their wives on slight occasions, as they were permitted to do by the law of Moses, Deuteronomy 24:1. And fathers, being oppressed with debt, often sold their children, which they might do for a time, till the year of release, Exodus 21:7. That this was frequently practiced, appears from many passages of Scripture, and that the persons and the liberty of the children were answerable for the debts of the father. The widow, 2 Kings 4:1, complains "that the creditor is come to take unto him her two sons to be bondmen." And in the parable, Matthew 18:25 : "The lord, forasmuch as his servant had not to pay, commands him to be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made." Sir John Chardin's MS. note on this place of Isaiah is as follows: En Orient on paye ses dettes avec ses esclaves, car ils sont des principaux meubles; et en plusieurs lieux on les paye aussi de ses enfans. "In the east they pay their debts by giving up their slaves, for these are their chief property of a disposable kind; and in many places they give their children to their creditors." But this, saith God, cannot be my case, I am not governed by any such motives, neither am I urged by any such necessity. Your captivity therefore and your afflictions are to be imputed to yourselves, and to your own folly and wickedness.

Thus saith the Lord,.... Here begins a new discourse or prophecy, and therefore thus prefaced, and is continued in the following chapter:

where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? these words are directed to the Jews, who stood in the same relation to the Jewish church, or synagogue, as children to a mother; and so the Targum interprets "your mother" by "your congregation", or synagogue; who were rejected from being a church and people; had a "loammi" written upon them, which became very manifest when their city and temple were destroyed by the Romans; and this is signified by a divorce, alluding to the law of divorce among the Jews, Deuteronomy 24:1, when a man put away his wife, he gave her a bill of divorce, assigning the causes of his putting her away. Now, the Lord, either as denying that he had put away their mother, the Jewish church, she having departed from him herself, and therefore challenges them to produce any such bill; a bill of divorce being always put into the woman's hands, and so capable of being produced by her; or if there was such an one, see Jeremiah 3:8, he requires it might be looked into, and seen whether the fault was his, or the cause in themselves, which latter would appear:

or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? referring to a practice used, that when men were in debt, and could not pay their debts, they sold their children for the payment of them; see Exodus 21:7, but this could not be the case here; the Lord has no creditors, not any to whom he is indebted, nor could any advantage possibly accrue to him by the sale of them; it is true they were sold to the Romans, or delivered into their hands, which, though a loss to them, was no gain to him; nor was it he that sold them, but they themselves; he was not the cause of it, but their own sins, as follows:

behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves; or, "are sold" (w); they were sold for them, or delivered up into the hands of their enemies on account of them; they had sold themselves to work wickedness, and therefore it was but just that they should be sold, and become slaves:

and for your transgressions is your mother put away; and they her children along with her, out of their own land, and from being the church and people of God.

(w) Sept. "venditi estis", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Cocceias, Vitringa.

Thus saith the LORD, Where is the {a} bill of your mother's divorcement, {b} whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it {c} to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.

(a) Meaning, that he has not forsaken her, but through her own opportunity as in Ho 2:2.

(b) Who would declare that I have cut her off: meaning, that they could show no one.

(c) Signifying, that he sold them not for any debt or poverty, but that they sold themselves to sins to buy their own lusts and pleasures.


Isa 50:1-11. The Judgments on Israel Were Provoked by Their Crimes, yet They Are Not Finally Cast Off by God.

1. Where … mothers divorcement—Zion is "the mother"; the Jews are the children; and God the Husband and Father (Isa 54:5; 62:5; Jer 3:14). Gesenius thinks that God means by the question to deny that He had given "a bill of divorcement" to her, as was often done on slight pretexts by a husband (De 24:1), or that He had "sold" His and her "children," as a poor parent sometimes did (Ex 21:7; 2Ki 4:1; Ne 5:5) under pressure of his "creditors"; that it was they who sold themselves through their own sins. Maurer explains, "Show the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom … ; produce the creditors to whom ye have been sold; so it will be seen that it was not from any caprice of Mine, but through your own fault, your mother has been put away, and you sold" (Isa 52:3). Horsley best explains (as the antithesis between "I" and "yourselves" shows, though Lowth translates, "Ye are sold") I have never given your mother a regular bill of divorcement; I have merely "put her away" for a time, and can, therefore, by right as her husband still take her back on her submission; I have not made you, the children, over to any "creditor" to satisfy a debt; I therefore still have the right of a father over you, and can take you back on repentance, though as rebellious children you have sold yourselves to sin and its penalty (1Ki 21:25).

bill … whom—rather, "the bill with which I have put her away" [Maurer].

The words that sound in the ears of Zion are now followed by the thought of astonishment and surprise, that rises up in her heart. "And thou wilt say in thy heart, Who hath borne me these, seeing I was robbed of children, and barren, banished, and thrust away; and these, who hath brought them up? Behold, I was left alone; these, where were they?" She sees herself suddenly surrounded by a great multitude of children, and yet she was robbed of children, and galmūdâh (lit. hard, stony, Arab. 'galmad, 'gulmūd, e.g., es-sachr el'gulmūd, the hardest stone, mostly as a sugstantive, stone or rock, from gâlam, from which comes the Syriac gelomo, stony ground, related to châlam, whence challâmı̄sh, gravel, root gal, gam, to press together, or heap up in a lump or mass), i.e., one who seemed utterly incapacitated for bearing children any more. She therefore asks, Who hath borne me these (not, who hath begotten, and which is an absurd question)? She cannot believe that they are the children of her body, and her children's children. As a tree, whose foliage is all faded away, is called nōbheleth itself in Isaiah 1:30, so she calls herself gōlâh vesūrâh, extorris et remota (sūr equals mūsâr, like sūg in Proverbs 14:14 equals nâsōg or mussâg), because her children have been carried away into exile. In the second question, the thought has dawned upon her mind, that those by whom she finds herself surrounded are her own children; but as she was left alone, whilst they went forth, as she thought to die in a foreign land, she cannot comprehend where they have been hitherto concealed, or where they have grown up into so numerous a people. 50:1-3 Those who have professed to be people of God, and seem to be dealt severely with, are apt to complain, as if God had been hard with them. Here is an answer for such murmurings; God never deprived any of their advantages, except for their sins. The Jews were sent into Babylon for their idolatry, a sin which broke the covenant; and they were at last rejected for crucifying the Lord of glory. God called on them to leave their sins, and prevent their own ruin. Last of all, the Son came to his own, but his own received him not. When God calls men to happiness, and they will not answer, they are justly left to be miserable. To silence doubts concerning his power, proofs of it are given. The wonders which attended his sufferings and death, proclaimed that he was the Son of God, Mt 27:54.Verse 1. - Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement? On account of her persistent "backsliding," God had "put away Israel," Judah's sister, and had "given her a bill of divorce" (Ver. 3:8). But he had not repudiated Judah; and her children were wrong to suppose themselves altogether cast off (see Isaiah 49:14). They had, in fact, by their transgressions, especially their idolatries, wilfully divorced themselves, or at any rate separated themselves, from God; but no sentence had gone forth from him to bar reconciliation and return. Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you! Neither has God exercised the right, regarded as inherent in a parent (Exodus 21:7; 2 Kings 4:11; Nehemiah 6:5, 8), of selling his children to a creditor. They are not sold - he has "taken no money for them" (Psalm 44:12; Isaiah 52:3); and the Babylonians are thus not their rightful owners (Isaiah 49:24) - they are still God's children, his property, and the objects of his care. For your iniquities... for your transgressions; rather, by your iniquities... by your transgressions. The separation, such as it was, between God and his people was caused by their sins, not by any act of his.

the bill

Deuteronomy 24:1-5 When a man has taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass …

Jeremiah 3:1,8 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become …

Hosea 2:2-4 Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am …

Mark 10:4-12 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorce, and to put her away…

or which

Exodus 21:7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not …

Leviticus 25:39 And if your brother that dwells by you be waxen poor, and be sold …

Deuteronomy 32:30 How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, …

2 Kings 4:1 Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets …

Nehemiah 5:5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children as …

Esther 7:4 For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and …

Psalm 44:12 You sell your people for nothing, and do not increase your wealth …

Matthew 18:25 But for as much as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be …

behold. Husbands often sent bills of divorcement to their wives on slight occasions; and fathers, oppressed with debt, sold their children till the year of release. But this, saith God, cannot be my case: I am not governed by any such motives, nor am I urged by any such necessity. Your captivity and afflictions are the fruits of your own folly and wickedness. For your iniquities.

Isaiah 52:3 For thus said the LORD, You have sold yourselves for nothing; and …

Isaiah 59:1,2 Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither …

1 Kings 21:25 But there was none like to Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness …

2 Kings 17:17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the …

Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed …

Jeremiah 4:18 Your way and your doings have procured these things to you; this …

50:1 Thus saith the Lord - The scope of this and the next chapter , is to vindicate God's justice and to convince the Jews that they were the causes of their own calamities. Behold - You can blame none but yourselves and your own sins, for all your captivities and miseries.
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