Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. Isaiah 43:1 to Isaiah 44:5. Israel, in spite of its sin and blindness, is comforted with gracious promises of Redemption
(i) Isaiah 43:1-7. This section is very closely connected in thought with Isaiah 43:18-25 of the previous chapter. The contrast, however, is no longer between the ideal Israel and the actual, but between Israel in the misery of exile and Israel in the glory of its coming salvation. The prophet has just reminded the captives that the author of their calamities is Jehovah, against whom they have sinned; now he assures them that in spite of these sins God has not finally cast them off, and directs their thoughts to the bright future about to dawn on them. Jehovah is about to redeem Israel, which He has formed and chosen for His own (Isaiah 43:1-2); He will ransom it at the cost of powerful and wealthy nations which must take its place as servants of the world-power, because it is precious in His sight (Isaiah 43:3-4); He will gather together its scattered members from the remotest quarters of the world (Isaiah 43:5-7).
(ii) Isaiah 43:8-13. The argument from prophecy is here repeated, and again in the dramatic form of a judicial process between Jehovah and the assembled nations. These are challenged to bring forward their witnesses to prove that their gods have foretold this wonderful event, or that any past prediction of theirs has been verified (Isaiah 43:9). Jehovah on His part brings forward His servant Israel, a people blind and deaf, but able at least to bear witness to the fact that He has given incontestable proof of Divinity by predicting this great deliverance (Isaiah 43:8; Isaiah 43:10 ff.).
(iii) Isaiah 43:14-21. The fall of Babylon is here for the first time explicitly announced (Isaiah 43:14-15), as the preliminary to Israel’s restoration. The glory of this “new thing” shall eclipse all “former things,” even the wonders of the exodus from Egypt and the marching through the wilderness (Isaiah 43:16 ff.). The prophet’s imagination again fixes on the concrete image of the miraculous way through the desert as the emblem of Jehovah’s saving power (Isaiah 43:19 ff.).
(iv) Isaiah 43:22-28. A renewed remonstrance with Israel, similar in tone to ch. Isaiah 42:18-25. The general idea of the section seems to be that while Israel has been utterly careless of Jehovah (Isaiah 43:22), burdening Him not with lavish offerings but merely with its sins and iniquities (Isaiah 43:23-24), He, for His own sake, forgives its trespasses (Isaiah 43:25), although the people have forfeited all claim on His mercy (Isaiah 43:26-28). (But see the Notes below, pp. 42 f.)
(v) Ch. Isaiah 44:1-5. By the outpouring of His Spirit, Jehovah shall so bless and prosper His people, that proselytes from among the heathen shall voluntarily attach themselves to the restored nation. This promise stands in contrast to the severity of the preceding verses, exactly as Isaiah 43:1-7 follow upon the last strophe of ch. 42.
But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.1–7. Israel, though blind and deaf (ch. Isaiah 42:18 ff.), is precious in the sight of Jehovah its Creator, who is now about to shew Himself as its Redeemer.
But now] Introducing the contrast to Isaiah 42:25.
that created thee … that formed thee] Three verbs which express Jehovah’s creative activity are applied in this prophecy to His special relations to Israel: “create” (Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 43:15); “form” (Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 43:21, Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 44:24, Isaiah 45:11, Isaiah 49:5 (Isaiah 64:8); “make” (Isaiah 44:2, Isaiah 51:13, Isaiah 54:5).
I have redeemed thee] Rather, I redeem thee (perf. of certainty). see on ch. Isaiah 41:14. I have called (I call) thee by thy name] i.e. I address thee as one who is familiar and dear (Isaiah 45:3 f., cf. Exodus 31:2); stronger than the simple “call” (Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 49:1).
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.2. When Jehovah was angry the fire burned Israel (ch. Isaiah 42:25), but now with Jehovah on its side, it is invulnerable in the severest trials. “Water” and “fire” are common images of extreme peril; the former in Psalm 32:6; Psalm 42:7; Psalm 124:4 f.; the latter in ch. Isaiah 42:25 (cf. Daniel 3:17; Daniel 3:27); both together Psalm 66:12. For burned render scorched (Proverbs 6:28).
For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.3. thy Saviour] or, “Deliverer”; a favourite designation of Jehovah with this prophet; Isaiah 43:11, ch. Isaiah 45:15; Isaiah 45:21, Isaiah 49:26 (Isaiah 60:16, Isaiah 63:8). The second half of the verse shews on how large a scale this deliverance is to be executed.
I give Egypt as thy ransom …] The meaning appears to be that Cyrus will be compensated for the emancipation of Israel by the conquest of these African nations, which did not belong to the Babylonian Empire. As a matter of fact the conquest of Egypt was effected by Cambyses, the son and successor of Cyrus, although it is said to have been contemplated by Cyrus himself (Herod. 1:153) and is actually (though wrongly) attributed to him by Xenophon (Cyrop. VIII. 6. 20).
Seba (Genesis 10:7; Psalm 72:10; ch. Isaiah 45:14) was, according to Josephus, Meroë, the northern province of Ethiopia, lying between the Blue and the White Nile.
ransom is strictly a money payment by which a man escapes the forfeit of his life (see Exodus 21:30; Numbers 35:31 f.; Proverbs 6:35 &c.).
Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.4. Since thou wast … thou hast been …] Rather, Because thou art precious in my sight, art honourable, and I love thee (three coordinate clauses). The A.V. seems to take the conjunction in a temporal sense, a view which has been defended by some commentators on grammatical grounds, but is quite unsuitable.
men] in contrast to a money payment. For people read peoples (as R.V.).
Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;5–7. The ingathering of the Dispersion (cf. ch. Isaiah 49:12).
I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;6. my sons … my daughters] see ch. Isaiah 1:1. The individual Israelites are the children of the marriage between Jehovah and the nation (Hosea 2:2; Hosea 2:5; Ezekiel 16:20, &c.).
Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.7. that is called by my name] i.e. who belongs to the community in which Jehovah is worshipped.
for I have created him] Render with R.V. and whom I have created.
for my glory] Although it is only the restored nation that can fully manifest Jehovah’s glory to the world, each of its scattered units shares the dignity which belongs to Israel as a whole.
Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.8. Bring forth] i.e. not “from exile,” but “before the tribunal.” The sense demands an imperat., and the Heb. pointing (which gives a perf.) must be altered accordingly.
a blind people that have eyes …] “a people which is blind and yet has eyes &c.” This cannot mean “a people once blind and deaf, but now in possession of sight and hearing”; and it scarcely means anything so subtle as “a people which though blind and deaf yet possesses the organs of sight and hearing,” and therefore can be made to see and hear (Isaiah 43:10). The paradox is the same as in ch. Isaiah 42:20 (“thou hast seen many things but thou observest not,” &c.) and goes back to ch. Isaiah 6:9 ff.; the sense being that while Israel lacks insight into the divine meaning of its own history, it is nevertheless a perfectly competent witness to the bare external facts; it has heard the predictions and seen them fulfilled.
8–13. Another imaginary judgement scene (cf. ch. Isaiah 41:1-4; Isaiah 41:21-28), in which Israel appears as Jehovah’s witness to the truth of His prophecies.
Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth.9. Let all the nations be gathered together] The form of the verb in Heb. presents difficulty. By some it is treated as a rare form of imperat., on the ground of two doubtful analogies (so R.V. marg., “Gather yourselves together &c.”). Others take it as a precative perf. (A.V. and R.V.) the existence of which in Heb. is also disputed (see Driver, Tenses, § 20). There seems, however, no reason why it should not be understood as a perf. in the ordinary sense: All the nations are gathered together. The assembling of the parties in the process naturally precedes the calling of witnesses; and this clause is descriptive of the scene presupposed by Isaiah 43:8. The following verb should then be pointed as a consecutive impf.: and the peoples are assembled.
who among them (the heathen gods, represented by their worshippers) can declare this] i.e. the contents of the prophecy, Isaiah 43:1-7.
former things] predictions of the events that have already taken place. If they profess to do this, then let them bring forth their witnesses, in support of their contention.
or let them hear, and say] The subject is the witnesses, who are supposed to hear the allegations of the false deities, and corroborate them.
be justified … It is truth] see on ch. Isaiah 41:26.
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.10. The gods are unable to meet the challenge, and Jehovah turns to His servant Israel, whose very presence is evidence of His power both to predict and to deliver. The words and my servant are not a complement of the subject (“ye are my witnesses, and [so is] my Servant”) but of the predicate (ye are my witnesses and [ye are] my Servant). The former view would imply some sort of distinction between the Servant and Israel, whether of an individual over against the nation, or of a part of the nation over against the whole. But whatever view may be held of the personality of the Servant, the natural construction of the sentence places it alongside of those numerous passages where the title is applied to Israel. To bear witness to Jehovah’s divinity is one of the functions of Israel as the Servant of the Lord.
that ye may know …] In the very act of bearing witness, it would seem that the mind of Israel is to be awakened to the grand truth of which its own history is the evidence,—the sole divinity of Jehovah, and its own unique position as His servant.
I am he] See ch. Isaiah 41:4.
before me there was no god formed] Strictly, of course, the idea is, “before any god was formed I existed.” The form of expression might be derived from the Babylonian cosmology, according to which the gods were the first beings to emerge from the primeval chaos. The following words occur in the Chaldæan account of creation: “When of the gods none had yet arisen, when none named a name or [determined] fate; then were the [great] gods formed” (Schrader, Cuneiform Inscriptions on Genesis 1:1). It is probably to this origin of the gods themselves that reference is made, rather than to the formation of their images (ch. Isaiah 44:9).
I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.11. I, even I, am the Lord] I, I am Jehovah; see on ch. Isaiah 42:8. there is no saviour] see on Isaiah 43:3.
I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.12. have declared … saved … shewed] The arrangement of the verbs is peculiar. Some would remove the second, others the third, as dittography. But if there be any error in the text it is more likely the omission of a fourth word, which would be parallel to “saved,” as “shewed” is to “declared” (so Duhm).
when there was no strange god] Rather as R.V. and there was no strange (i.e. foreign) god. There cannot be an allusion to an early period of the history, before idolatry had crept in; because the deliverance is conceived as having just taken place. It is true that many “strange gods” had been acknowledged in Israel; but none of them was really there, as a living active presence in their midst. The meaning is, “It was I who did this, and no god who was a stranger among you.” strange god is strictly “stranger,” as in Deuteronomy 32:16; Jeremiah 2:25; Jeremiah 3:13.
therefore ye are … that I am God] Render: and ye are my witnesses, and I am God.
Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?13. Yea, before the day was] The correct translation is that of R.V. marg.: Yea, from this day forth (for all the future) I am the same (Isaiah 41:4); the deliverance marking a new era in Jehovah’s manifestation of Himself as God, the only God who is a Saviour (Isaiah 43:11).
I will work … let it?] Better: I work, and who shall reverse it?
Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.14, 15. A new section (14–21) commences here with a brief but explicit announcement of the fall of Babylon.
the Lord, your redeemer] see on ch. Isaiah 41:14.
I have sent (or perhaps, I will send) to Babylon] As object of the verb we must supply, the Persian army, the “consecrated ones” of ch. Isaiah 13:3.
and have brought … ships] This sentence is somewhat peculiar in its structure and phraseology, and many emendations have been proposed. Accepting the text as it stands, the best translation is no doubt that of R.V. and I will bring down all of them as fugitives, even the Chaldeans in the ships of their rejoicing. Since the verb “bring down” cannot be understood in two different senses in the two members, the idea must be that they shall all be sent down the Euphrates as fugitives in ships, which was precisely the manner in which Merodach-baladan made his escape from Sennacherib (see Schrader, Cuneiform Inscriptions, E. T. vol. II. p. 36). A description of the ships on the Euphrates is to be found in Herod. I. 194; they are here called “ships of rejoicing” as having formerly been used for pleasure. The rendering, however, is not altogether convincing. The “and” before “Chaldæans” seems to make a distinction between them and the fugitives, which is hardly to be explained by supposing that the latter are the foreign merchants referred to in ch. Isaiah 13:14. The probability is that the difficulties are due to somewhat extensive omissions in the text. The word for “fugitives” might (with the change of one vowel) be read as “bolts,” and this is taken by A.V., though without any justification, as a metaphor for “nobles.” It might, however, be a metaphor for the defences of Babylon, or a symbol of Israel’s captivity; “I will bring down the bolts” gives a good enough sense so far as it goes. Another slight emendation which naturally suggests itself is to change “ships” into “lamentations”: “and the shouting of the Chaldæans into lamentations.”
I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.
Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;16. Thus saith the Lord] The oracle itself begins at Isaiah 43:18; it is prefaced in Isaiah 43:16 f. by a vivid description of the mighty power of Jehovah, as illustrated once for all at the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14 f.).
in the mighty waters] Cf. Nehemiah 9:11.
16–21. The sequel to the overthrow of Babylon is the deliverance of Israel, the method of which is compared with the greatest miracle in Israel’s past history, the exodus from Egypt.
Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow.17. which bringeth forth] i.e. allows them to come forth to their destruction (cf. Ezekiel 38:4, where the same expression is used with regard to the expedition of Gog, king of Magog). The next words should be rendered simply chariot and horse (without art.).
the army and the power] Perhaps: army and warrior. The second word is found elsewhere only in Psalm 24:8 (A.V. “mighty”) in apposition with the common word for “hero.” Here it may be used collectively.
they shall lie down] Better: they lie down.
quenched as tow] extinguished like a wick; the same words as in ch. Isaiah 42:3. The alternation of tenses in the original is noteworthy and very graphic. The participial construction first gives place to the descriptive impf., and this again to two perfects of completed action.
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.18. Great as the wonders of the exodus were they shall be far surpassed by that which Jehovah is about to do. The verse resumes the opening clause of Isaiah 43:16.
Remember ye not …] Cf. Jeremiah 16:14 f., Isaiah 23:7 f. It is not meant of course that the exodus shall be actually forgotten (see ch. Isaiah 46:9), but only that it shall no longer be the supreme instance of Jehovah’s redeeming power.
former things … things of old] Cf. ch. Isaiah 46:9. Obviously the expression “former things,” so often used of past events predicted, here includes the remote incidents of the deliverance from Egypt.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.19. The making of the way through the desert and water for the pilgrims to drink (See on ch. Isaiah 40:3 f., Isaiah 41:18 ff.) is considered to be a miracle transcending the passage of the Red Sea, and all the miracles which attended the first exodus. This is the new thing on which the prophet’s mind fastens as the symbol of Israel’s deliverance.
now it shall &c.] Rather: even now it is springing forth; do ye not recognise it? In ch. Isaiah 42:9, the new things are spoken of as announced before they “spring forth,” while as yet there is no sign of their appearing; here to the lively imagination of the prophet they are already seen “germinating,” and he calls on the people to see them as the inevitable issue of the conquests of Cyrus. But while the above seems the most effective rendering of the question, that of the E.V. is quite possible:—“shall ye not experience it.”
the desert] Heb. Jěshîmôn, an utterly barren and arid region (Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 68:7; Psalm 78:40; Psalm 107:4 &c.) as distinguished from midbâr (“wilderness” or “steppe”), where flocks can find a scanty sustenance. It occurs as a proper name in Numbers 21:20 (1 Samuel 26:1).
The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.20. Even the wild beasts shall honour Jehovah, unconsciously, through their joy at the abundant supply of water.
the dragons and the owls] Render as R.V. the jackals and the ostriches. see on ch. Isaiah 13:21-22.
This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.21. The verse supplies an apposition to “my people” of Isaiah 43:20. It reads: The people which I have formed for myself, they shall tell forth my praise. As the “streams in the desert” were created for Israel and not for the “beasts of the field,” so it is Israel alone that can fully celebrate the praises of the Lord, Who is its Redeemer (cf. 1 Peter 2:9).
But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.22. But thou hast not called upon me] To call upon Jehovah “in the day of trouble” was the first and most obvious duty of Israel (Psalm 50:15), but this duty Israel has neglected. The statement is of course general; it does not exclude the existence of a believing minority which poured out its heart in prayer to God. The position of the word “me” is emphatic in the original; but the emphasis on the object throws a corresponding emphasis on the subject: “But not upon me hast thou called, Jacob”; it is I who have called thee (ch. Isaiah 41:9, Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 43:1 &c.). It is foreign to the context to suppose an antithesis between Jehovah and other gods.
but thou hast been weary of me] Or, perhaps: much less hast thou wearied thyself about me (Cheyne). The translation of E.V. is possible, although the expression is not elsewhere used of being weary of a person. The other sense, however, is much to be preferred because of Isaiah 43:23 b, and is justified by the analogy of ch. Isaiah 47:12; Isaiah 47:15, Isaiah 62:8; Joshua 24:13. The use of the conjunction is peculiar; the simple kî seems to have the same force as the fuller ’aph kî (as in 1 Kings 8:27, “much less this house” &c.). The easiest solution might be to suppose that the ’aph has been omitted, but this is not really necessary. How Israel might have “wearied itself about” Jehovah is explained in Isaiah 43:23 f.
22–28. Jehovah effects this deliverance for His own sake, not in return for any service He has received at the hands of Israel. The argument of the section is difficult to follow, especially in the part which speaks of sacrifice. Two questions present themselves: (a) does Jehovah upbraid His people with their neglect of ritual, or does He assert His own indifference to it? and (b), is the reference to the whole course of Israel’s history or merely to the period of the Exile? The answer to (b) seems determined by the consideration that if understood of the history as a whole the statement is inconsistent with fact. Although the prophet undoubtedly takes a dark view of Israel’s past religious condition (Isaiah 43:27), we cannot suppose that he charges it with disregard of the externals of religion. Whatever faults Israel had been guilty of, it had not been slack in the performance of ritual (see ch. Isaiah 1:10 ff.). Now if we limit the reference to the Exile, the idea of an implied reproach (a) must be abandoned, because the suspension of the sacrificial system was in the circumstances inevitable. In other words, the main thought here is expressed in the second half of Isaiah 43:23 more clearly than in the first halves of Isaiah 43:23-24. At the same time this hardly amounts to a repudiation of sacrifice in principle on the part of Jehovah. The truth appears to be that the prophet directs attention to the simple fact that during the Exile sacrifice had not been offered; whether Israel was to blame for this or not is immaterial to his argument. He has in his view the prevailing ideas of the time as to the normal attitude of a people to its God; and he shews how inadequate these are to explain Jehovah’s relation to Israel. The natural and proper thing was for a nation to invoke the name of its God, and to honour Him with costly and laborious rites. Israel has done none of these things, it has only burdened Jehovah with its sins; yet Jehovah proves Himself to be its God by forgiving its iniquities and undertaking its cause against its enemies.
Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense.23. The absence of sacrifice has not impaired the bond between Jehovah and His people. The thought presents a striking contrast to ch. Isaiah 1:10 ff., a passage which was probably in the writer’s mind.
the small cattle] The Heb. word serves as the noun of unity to the word for “flock” (i.e. sheep and goats). On burnt-offerings, sacrifices and offering, see on ch. Isaiah 1:11; Isaiah 1:13.
I have not caused thee to serve] “have not treated thee as a slave,” by exacting tribute. The statement might no doubt be understood absolutely, according to Jeremiah 7:21 ff.; but it is perhaps sufficient to take it of the Exile, when the non-essential character of sacrifice was revealed by its enforced discontinuance (cf. Psalm 51:16).
incense] See ch. Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20. In both these passages incense is described as coming from Arabia, which agrees with the statement of Pliny, that it was collected in the chief city of Hadramaut and thence conveyed to Syria. The Heb. word (lěbônâh), which is preserved in the Gr. λίβανος, λιβανωτός, is quite different from that found in ch. Isaiah 1:13.
Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.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.
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.25. Since Israel has neither brought sacrifices, nor even offered prayer acceptable to Jehovah, He himself must take the initiative in the work of redemption, blotting out its transgressions “for his own sake.” In accordance with O.T. analogies, the act of forgiveness is described simply as “not remembering” sin; but the actual working out of forgiveness in history calls into exercise the resources of Omnipotence; it includes all Jehovah’s dealings with His people, His handing them over to the dominion of the heathen (Isaiah 43:28), and saving them again in His marvellous providence. The verse, moreover, contains only one half of the prophet’s teaching about forgiveness; the other half is the process by which the people are brought to repentance, and this is the work of the Servant of the Lord, as described in ch. 53.
Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.26. In order to bring home the charge of guilt (Isaiah 43:24) Jehovah summons the people to debate their cause with Him. As Isaiah 43:23-25 recall ch. Isaiah 1:10 ff., so this verse seems to be suggested by Isaiah 43:18 of that chapter.
Put me in remembrance] i.e. “of any merits thou canst claim, or any plea thou canst urge, and which I have overlooked.”
let us plead together] “let us implead one another,” as in Isaiah 1:18, though the verb is different. declare thou] Rather reckon thou up (Psalm 40:5). mayest be justified] mayest be in the right.
Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me.27. Thy first father] Undoubtedly Jacob, the eponymous hero of the nation, is meant (cf. Hosea 12:3 f.), not Abraham (who is never spoken of in the later literature as sinful), nor the earliest ancestors collectively; still less Adam.
thy teachers] Lit. as R.V. thine interpreters (Genesis 42:23), and hence “mediators” (as Job 33:23; 2 Chronicles 32:31); used of the prophets only here. On the idea, see Jeremiah 23:11 ff. If the representative ancestor and the spiritual leaders of Israel were such, what must the mass of the nation have been!
Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches.28. Therefore I have profaned] is better than R.V. “Therefore I will profane,” although it requires the change of a vowel. The verb (like the one following) is pointed as a cohortative, and as this appears sometimes to express the idea of compulsion (see Driver, Tenses, §§ 51–53) we may perhaps venture to render: and so I had to profane.
the princes of the sanctuary] Better: consecrated princes. The priests are so named in 1 Chronicles 24:5; it is doubtful whether here priests or kings or both are meant, the consecration by anointing being common to both.
and have given … curse] Render: and had to deliver (see on last clause) Jacob to the ban. R.V. changes the translation for the worse.