Isaiah 65:8
Thus said the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one said, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) As the new wine . . .—Literally, the must, or unfermented juice of the grape. The transition from the denunciations of the preceding verse is abrupt, and suggests the thought of an interval of time and absence of direct continuity. Possibly, however, a link may be found in the “first” of the amended translation, which prepares the way for something that is to follow. God chastens, but does not destroy.

Destroy it not . . .—The thought is that as even one fruitful cluster of grapes will lead the vine-dresser to spare an otherwise fruitless vine in the hope of a fuller blessing in the future, so Jehovah will spare a sinful nation for the twenty or the ten righteous (Genesis 18:23-33). The words “destroy it not” are those which stand at the head of Psalms 57-59, as indicating the tune to which they were to be sung; and it is a natural inference that it may have been a popular vintage song, and therefore doubly apt for the prophet’s purpose. May we compare our own song of “Wood-man, spare that tree?” applied, as it has been, to the trees of ancient institutions.

Isaiah 65:8-10. Thus saith the Lord — These words may be conceived as a gracious answer from God to the prophet, pleading God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. To this God replies, that he intended no such severity as the utter destruction of the whole nation; that the unfaithfulness of men should not make his promise to the ancient patriarchs of none effect, Romans 3:3; that his threatening should be made good upon the generality of this people, whose vine was of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah, Deuteronomy 32:32. As the new wine is found in the cluster, &c. — As in a vineyard, which is generally unfruitful, there may be some vine that brings forth fruit; or as in a vine that is full of luxuriant branches, that bring forth no fruit, there may be here and there a bunch that contains good grapes, and as to such, the gardener bids his servants destroy it not, for there is in them what speaks God’s blessing. So — So

(saith God) will I do for my servants’ sake, that I may not destroy them all — Namely, for the sake of my servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will bring a seed out of Jacob — A small number, which shall be as a seed, from whence others shall spring, Romans 9:27-29. And out of Judah — God further promises to bring out of Judah an inheritor of his mountains — That is, of the country of Judea, which was mountainous. God calls them his mountains, because he had chosen that country before all others. Though this may first refer to the return of the Jews out of the captivity of Babylon into their own land, yet, according to this whole prophecy, it must ultimately respect their restoration to the land of Canaan, after their conversion to Christianity. And mine elect shall inherit it — My chosen ones, namely, such as should embrace Christianity, termed by St. Paul, the election of grace, (Romans 11:5-7,) who, in consequence of repentance toward God, and faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the true Messiah, should become, with the Gentile Christians, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks — After they are restored, as mentioned above, to their own land. Sharon was a place of great fruitfulness for pastures. It was become like a wilderness, but God here promises that it should again be a place for the flocks. And the valley of Achor a place, &c. — Achor was a valley to the north of Jericho, opposite to the town of Ai, where Achan was put to death, and which was remarkably fertile, Joshua 7:26. For my people that have sought me — Lest the wicked, idolatrous Jews should apply this promise to themselves, God here limits it to the people who should seek him, that is, should turn to him in true repentance and faith, and seek his favour. That the words have the force of such a limitation appears from what follows.65:8-10 In the bunch of unripe grapes, at present of no value, the new wine is contained. The Jews have been kept a distinct people, that all may witness the fulfilment of ancient prophecies and promises. God's chosen, the spiritual seed of praying Jacob, shall inherit his mountains of bliss and joy, and be carried safe to them through the vale of tears. All things are for the display of God's glory in the redemption of sinners.Thus saith the Lord - This verse is designed to keep their minds from utter despair, and to assure them that they should not be utterly destroyed. See the analysis of the chapter.

As the new wine - The Hebrew word used here (תירושׁ tı̂yrôsh), means properly "must" or "new wine" (see the notes at Isaiah 24:7). The Septuagint renders it here, ὁ ῥὼξ ho rōx, a grain or berry; meaning probably a good grape. The Chaldee renders it, 'As Noah was found pure in the generation of the deluge, and I said I would not destroy them, that I might rise up a generation from him, so will I do on account of my servants, that I may not destroy all.' Jerome renders it, Granum - 'A kernel,' or berry.

Is found in the cluster - Expositors have differed in the interpretation of this passage. The true image seems to be taken from collecting grapes when a large part of them were in some way damaged or spoiled - either by the quality of the vine, or by a bad season, or by having been gathered too early, or being suffered to remain too long in a heap. In such a case the vine-dresser would be ready to throw them away. But in the mass he would find a few that were ripe and good. While he was throwing away the mass, someone would say that a part was good, and would entreat him not to destroy it. So with the Jews. The mass was corrupt, and was to be cut off. But still a portion should be left. This is in accordance with the doctrine everywhere occurring in Isaiah and elsewhere in the Scriptures, that the whole Jewish nation should not be cut off, but that a remnant should be preserved (see the notes at Isaiah 6:13; compare Isaiah 1:9; Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 10:21; Isaiah 11:11-16).

For a blessing - That which is regarded as a blessing; that is wine (compare Judges 9:13).

So will I do - The whole nation shall not be cut off, but a remnant shall be kept and saved.

8. new wine—as if some grapes having good wine-producing juice in them, be found in a cluster which the vinedresser was about to throw away as bad, and one saith, &c.

blessing—that is, good wine-producing juice (compare Jud 9:13; Joe 2:14).

so—God will spare the godly "remnant," while the ungodly mass of the nation shall be destroyed (Isa 1:9; 6:13; 10:21; 11:11, 12-16).

my servants—the godly remnant. But Horsley, "for the sake of my servant, Messiah."

These words must be conceived as a gracious answer from God to the prophet, saying as Abraham, Genesis 18:23,25, or as Moses, Exodus 32:11-13, pleading God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. To this God replieth that he intended no such severity, the unfaithfulness of men should not make his promise of no effect, Romans 3:3. His threatening should be made good upon the generality of this people, whose vine was of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah, Deu 32:32. But yet, as in a vineyard which is generally unfruitful, there may be some particular vine that brings forth fruit; or, as in a vine which is full of luxuriant branches that bring forth no fruit, there may be here and there a branch that bringeth forth fruit, and hath the hopes of new wine in the cluster; and as to such, the gardener bids his servant

Destroy it not, or them not, for they are fruitful; there is in them what speaketh God’s blessing, or what may be of use, and do us good.

So (saith God)

will I do for my servants’ sake, that I may not destroy them all; either for the sake of my servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with whom I anciently made a covenant; or for my servant David’s sake; or for the sake of such as are my elect at this time amongst them: see Jeremiah 30:11 Amos 9:1. Thus saith the Lord, as the new wine is found in the cluster,.... Now, lest the truly godly and gracious among these people should be distressed at such denunciations of wrath and destruction, it is suggested that these few, this remnant according to the election of grace, should be saved from the general ruin; as when men are about to cut down a vine, or pluck it up, or prune the unfruitful branches of it, a single cluster of grapes is observed upon it, in which new wine is supposed to be:

and one saith, destroy it not, for a blessing is in it; one that stands by, perhaps the owner of the vine, seeing it, says to his servant, spare the vine, do not cut it down; or do not cut off the branch on which the cluster is, for there is life and sap in it, and it may grow, and bring forth much fruit:

so will I do for my servants' sake, that I may not destroy them all; as formerly he spared Noah at the deluge; of whom the Targum paraphrases the former clause; and Lot at the burning of Sodom; and Joshua and Caleb, when all the rest that came out of Egypt perished in the wilderness; so there would be, and were, a few whom God called by his grace, among the Jews, brought to the knowledge of Christ, and into a Gospel church state in Jerusalem; and these he preserved from the destruction of it, of which they had previous warning, and were directed to Pella, where they were safe: and so, wherever the truth of grace is, such shall not be destroyed; and which is a blessing, and a blessed work in the heart of man, and is a new thing there; and, like new wine, delightful to God and man; and like wine in the cluster, all grace, and all spiritual blessings are with it; and which must be tried by afflictions, to be brought into exercise, as the cluster is pressed; and which is found but in a few, like wine in a single cluster, concerning whom the Father says, destroy them not, being loved and chosen by him; and so says the Son, being redeemed by his blood; and the same says the Spirit, being regenerated and sanctified by his grace; and such being the servants of the Lord, and partakers of his grace, he will not suffer any of them to be destroyed; but encompasses them with his favour; holds them with his right hand; suffers no enemy to do them wrong, and guards them with his power.

Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a {m} blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sake, that I may not destroy them all.

(m) That is, it is profitable: meaning that God will not destroy the faithful branches of his vineyard, when he destroys the rotten stocks, that is, the hypocrites.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. In the figure, the grape-cluster represents the nation as a whole, including many unworthy members, the “new wine” (iîrôsh, “must”) is the spiritual kernel of the nation, here called “my servants”; and the truth taught is that for the sake of the latter “the whole” shall not be annihilated in the judgement that is to come. It is an application to new circumstances of Isaiah’s doctrine of the Remnant (ch. Isaiah 6:13).

The words Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it have been thought, from their rhythm, to be the first line of one of the vintage songs often referred to in Scripture (cf. Jdg 9:27; Isaiah 16:10; Jeremiah 25:30; Jeremiah 48:33, &c.). It has further been conjectured that the words “Destroy not” (’al tashḥçth) in the headings of four psalms (57, 58, 59, 75) refer to this song, naming its melody as the tune to which these Psalms were to be sung (W. R. Smith, O. T. in Jewish Church2, p. 209).

that I may not &c.] (so as) not to destroy the whole.

8–10. In spite of the gross idolatries denounced in the preceding section there is that in Israel which makes it precious in the sight of Jehovah, and ensures for it a brilliant future.Verses 8-10. - SALVATION PROMISED TO A REMNANT. In Isaiah, and especially in the "Book of Consolation" (Isaiah 40-66.), promises are almost always intermingled with threatenings. The threats extend to the bulk of the nation; the promises are limited to "a remnant," since a remnant only could be brought to "seek" and serve God (ver. 10). Here the announcement that a remnant would be spared is introduced by a simile from men's treatment of their own vineyards (ver. 8). Verse 8. - As the new wine is found in the cluster; rather, as when new wine is found in a grape-bunch; i.e. as when even a single cluster of grapes is spied on a vine-stem, the vine-pruners say one to another, "Destroy not that stem, but spare it," so will God refrain from destroying those stocks in his vineyard, which give even a small promise of bearing good fruit. Destroy it not. The words are thought to be those of a well-known vintage-song, which is perhaps alluded to in the heading (Al-taschith) prefixed to Psalm 57, 58, and 59. "Each of these psalms was probably sung to the air of this favourite song" (Cheyne). A blessing is in it; i.e. "a boon from God" (comp. Isaiah 36:16; 2 Kings 5:15). After the people have poured out their heart before Jehovah, He announces what they may expect from Him. But instead of commencing with a promise, as we might anticipate after the foregoing prayer, He begins with reproach and threatening; for although the penitential portion of the community had included the whole nation in their prayer, it was destruction, and not deliverance, which awaited one portion of the nation, and that portion was the greater one. The great mass were in that state of "sin unto death" which defies all intercession (1 John 5:16), because they had so scornfully and obstinately resisted the grace which had been so long and so incessantly offered to them. "I was discernible to those who did not inquire, discoverable by those who did not seek me. I said, 'Here am I, here am I,' to a nation where my name was not called. I spread out my hands all the day to a refractory people, who walked in the way that was not good, after their own thoughts." The lxx (A) render Isaiah 65:1, "I was found by those who did not seek me, I became manifest to those who did not ask for me" (B reverses the order); and in Romans 10:20-21, Paul refers Isaiah 65:1 to the Gentiles, and Isaiah 65:2 to Israel. The former, to whom He has hitherto been strange, enter into fellowship with Him; whilst the latter, to whom He has constantly offered Himself, thrust Him away, and lose His fellowship. Luther accordingly adopts this rendering: "I shall be sought by those who did not ask for me, I shall be found by those who did not seek me. And to the heathen who did not call upon my name, I say, Here am I, here am I." Zwingli, again, observes on Isaiah 65:1, "This is an irresistible testimony to the adoption of the Gentiles." Calvin also follows the apostle's exposition, and observes, that "Paul argues boldly for the calling of the Gentiles on the ground of this passage, and says that Isaiah dared to proclaim and assert that the Gentiles had been called by God, because he announced a greater thing, and announced it more clearly than the reason of those times would bear." Of all the Jewish expositors, where is only one, viz., Gecatilia, who refers v. 1 to the Gentiles; and of all the Christina expositors of modern times, there is only one, viz., Hendewerk, who interprets it in this way, without having been influenced by the quotation made by Paul. Hofman, however, and Stier, feel obliged to follow the apostle's exposition, and endeavour to vindicate it. But we have no sympathy with any such untenable efforts to save the apostle's honour. In Romans 9:25-26, he also quotes Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 2:1 in support of the calling of the Gentiles; whereas he could not have failed to know, that it is the restoration of Israel to favour which is alluded to there. He merely appeals to Hosea 2 in support of the New Testament fact of the calling of the Gentiles, so far as it is in these words of the Old Testament prophet that the fact is most adequately expressed. And according to 1 Peter 2:10, Peter received the same impression from Hosea's words.

But with the passage before us it is very different. The apostle shows, by the way in which he applies the Scripture, how he depended in this instance upon the Septuagint translation, which was in his own hands and those of his readers also, and by which the allusion to the Gentiles is naturally suggested, even if not actually demanded. And we may also assume that the apostle himself understood the Hebrew text, with which he, the pupil of Rabban Gamaliel, was of course well acquainted, in the same sense, viz., as relating to the calling of the Gentiles, without being therefore legally bound to adopt the same interpretation. The interchange of גּוי (cf., Isaiah 55:5) and עם; the attribute בשׁים קרא לא, which applies to heathen, and heathen only; the possibility of interpreting Isaiah 65:1-2, in harmony with the context both before and after, if Isaiah 65:1 be taken as referring to the Gentiles, on the supposition that Jehovah is here contrasting His success with the Gentiles and His failure with Israel: all these certainly throw weight into the scale. Nevertheless they are not decisive, if we look at the Hebrew alone, apart altogether from the lxx. For nidrashtı̄ does not mean "I have become manifest;" but, regarded as the so-called niphal tolerativum (according to Ezekiel 14:3; Ezekiel 20:3, Ezekiel 20:31; Ezekiel 36:37), "I permitted myself to be explored or found out;" and consequently נמצאתי, according to Isaiah 55:6, "I let myself be found." And so explained, Isaiah 65:1 stands in a parallel relation to Isaiah 55:6 : Jehovah was searchable, was discoverable (cf., Zephaniah 1:6) to those who asked no questions, and did not seek Him (ללוא equals לא לאשׁר, Ges. 123, 3), i.e., He displayed to Israel the fulness of His nature and the possibility of His fellowship, although they did not bestir themselves or trouble themselves in the least about Him - a view which is confirmed by the fact that Isaiah 65:1 merely refers to offers made to them, and not to results of any kind. Israel, however, is called בשׁמי אל־קרא גוי, not as a nation that was not called by Jehovah's name (which would be expressed by נקרא, Isaiah 43:7; cf., מקראי, κλητός μου, Isaiah 48:12), but as a nation where (supply 'ăsher) Jehovah's name was not invoked (lxx "who called not upon my name"), and therefore as a thoroughly heathenish nation; for which reason we have gōi (lxx ἔθνος) here, and not ‛am (lxx λαός). Israel was estranged from Him, just like the heathen; but He still turned towards them with infinite patience, and (as is added in Isaiah 65:2) with ever open arms of love. He spread out His hands (as a man does to draw another towards him to embrace him) all the day (i.e., continually, cf., Isaiah 28:24) towards an obstinate people, who walked in the way that was not good (cf., Psalm 36:5; Proverbs 16:29; here with the article, which could not be repeated with the adjective, because of the לא), behind their own thoughts. That which led them, and which they followed, was not the will of God, but selfish views and purposes, according to their won hearts' lusts; and yet Jehovah did not let them alone, but they were the constant thought and object of His love, which was ever seeking, alluring, and longing for their salvation.

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