|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-7 Christ is God's beloved Son, and our beloved Saviour. The care of the Lord over the church of Israel, is described by the management of a vineyard. The advantages of our situation will be brought into the account another day. He planted it with the choicest vines; gave them a most excellent law, instituted proper ordinances. The temple was a tower, where God gave tokens of his presence. He set up his altar, to which the sacrifices should be brought; all the means of grace are denoted thereby. God expects fruit from those that enjoy privileges. Good purposes and good beginnings are good things, but not enough; there must be vineyard fruit; thoughts and affections, words and actions, agreeable to the Spirit. It brought forth bad fruit. Wild grapes are the fruits of the corrupt nature. Where grace does not work, corruption will. But the wickedness of those that profess religion, and enjoy the means of grace, must be upon the sinners themselves. They shall no longer be a peculiar people. When errors and vice go without check or control, the vineyard is unpruned; then it will soon be grown over with thorns. This is often shown in the departure of God's Spirit from those who have long striven against him, and the removal of his gospel from places which have long been a reproach to it. The explanation is given. It is sad with a soul, when, instead of the grapes of humility, meekness, love, patience, and contempt of the world, for which God looks, there are the wild grapes of pride, passion, discontent, and malice, and contempt of God; instead of the grapes of praying and praising, the wild grapes of cursing and swearing. Let us bring forth fruit with patience, that in the end we may obtain everlasting life.
Verse 2. - He fenced it. So the LXX., the Vulgate, Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Rosenmüller, Lowth, Kay. Gesenius, Knobel, and Mr. Cheyne prefer to translate, "he dug it over;" while the Revisers of 1885 have suggested, "he made a trench about it." The word occurs only in this place, and has no cognates in Hebrew. And gathered out the stones (comp. Isaiah 62:10). In the stony soil of Palestine, to collect the surface stones into heaps, or build them into walls, is of primary necessity for the improvement of the land. Conversely the stones were put back, and scattered over the land, by those who wished to "mar" it (2 Kings 3:19, 25). Planted it with the choicest vine (comp. Genesis 49:11; Jeremiah 2:21). The sorek seems to have been a particular kind of vine, reckoned superior to others. The etymology of the word indicates that it was of a deep red color. Built a tower (comp. Matthew 21:33). Towers had to be built in gardens, orchards, and vineyards, that watch might be kept from them against thieves and marauders (see 1 Kings 17:9; 1 Kings 18:8; 2 Chronicles 26:10; 2 Chronicles 27:4, etc.). Made a wine-press; literally, dug a winepress. The excavation was made to contain a vat, above which was the "press," worked by men, who wrung the liquor out of a great bag containing the grapes. (See the Egyptian rock-paintings, passim, where the operation is represented repeatedly.) It brought forth wild grapes. The natural, not the cultivated fruit, a worthless product.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he fenced it,.... With good and wholesome laws, which distinguished them, and kept them separate from other nations; also with his almighty power and providence; especially at the three yearly festivals, when all their males appeared before God at Jerusalem:
and gathered out the stones thereof; the Heathens, the seven nations that inhabited the land of Canaan, compared to stones for their hardness and stupidity, and for their worshipping of idols of stone; see Psalm 80:8.
and planted it with the choicest vine; the seed of Abraham, Joshua, and Caleb, who fully followed the Lord, and the people of Israel with them, who first entered into the land of Canaan, and inhabited it; such having fallen in the wilderness, who murmured and rebelled against God, Jeremiah 2:21.
and built a tower in the midst of it; in which watchmen stood to keep the vineyard, that nothing entered into it that might hurt it; this may be understood of the city of Jerusalem, or the fortress of Zion, or the temple; so Aben Ezra, the house of God on Mount Moriah; and the Targum,
"and I built my sanctuary in the midst of them:''
and also made a winepress therein; to tread the grapes in; this the Targum explains by the altar, paraphrasing the words,
"and also my altar I gave to make an atonement for their sins;''
so Aben Ezra; though Kimchi interprets it of the prophets, who taught the people the law, that their works might be good, and stirred them up and exhorted them to the performance of them.
And he looked that it should bring forth grapes; this "looking" and "expecting", here ascribed to God, is not to be taken properly, but figuratively, after the manner of men, for from such a well formed government, from such an excellent constitution, from a people enjoying such advantages, it might have been reasonably expected, according to a human and rational judgment of things, that the fruits of righteousness and holiness, at least of common justice and equity, would have been brought forth by them; which are meant by "grapes", the fruit of the vine, see Isaiah 5:7.
and it brought forth wild grapes; bad grapes; corrupt, rotten, stinking ones, as the word (s) used signifies; these, by a transposition of letters, are in the Misnah (t) called which word signifies a kind of bad grapes, and a small sort: evil works are meant by them, see Isaiah 5:7 the Targum is,
"I commanded them to do good works before me, and they have done evil works.''
(s) The Septuagint render it "thorns". (t) Maaserot c. 1. sect. 2. Vid. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. fenced—rather, "digged and trenched" the ground to prepare it for planting the vines [Maurer].
choicest vine—Hebrew, sorek; called still in Morocco, serki; the grapes had scarcely perceptible seeds; the Persian kishmish or bedana, that is, "without seed" (Ge 49:11).
tower—to watch the vineyard against the depredations of man or beast, and for the use of the owner (Mt 21:33).
wine-press—including the wine-fat; both hewn, for coolness, out of the rocky undersoil of the vineyard.
wild grapes—The Hebrew expresses offensive putrefaction, answering to the corrupt state of the Jews. Fetid fruit of the wild vine [Maurer], instead of "choicest" grapes. Of the poisonous monk's hood [Gesenius]. The Arabs call the fruit of the nightshade "wolf grapes" (De 32:32, 33; 2Ki 4:39-41). Jerome tries to specify the details of the parable; the "fence," angels; the "stones gathered out," idols; the "tower," the "temple in the midst" of Judea; the "wine-press," the altar.
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