Isaiah 1:10
Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah.
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(10) Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom.—The Hebrew text, by leaving a space between the two verses, indicates the beginning of a new section. It is noticeable that the prophet does not address the king. It may be that he trusted him, but not his ministers. We have to remember that the rulers (better, judges; same word as kadi) thus addressed were probably those who were outwardly active in Hezekiah’s work of reformation, or had taken part in the older routine worship under Uzziah. For princes and people alike that reformation was but superficial. The priestly writer of the Book of Chronicles might dwell only on the apparent good in either reign (2Chronicles 27:2; 2 Chronicles 29-31); but the eye of Isaiah saw below the surface. In “the word of the Lord,” and “the law of our God,” we have two different aspects of the revelation of the Divine will, the first being the prophetic message of the prophet, the second pointing primarily, perhaps, to the law given by Moses, but including also, as in Psalm 19:7; Psalm 119:1; Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 42:24; Isaiah 51:7, all forms of direct ethical teaching, especially, perhaps, such as were actually based upon the law or Torah as a text.

Isaiah 1:10. Hear the word of the Lord — I bring a message from your Lord and governor, to whom you owe all reverence and obedience; ye rulers of Sodom — So called for their resemblance of them in wickedness. Compare Deuteronomy 32:32; Ezekiel 16:46; Ezekiel 16:48. “The incidental mention of Sodom and Gomorrah in the preceding verse, suggested to the prophet this spirited address to the rulers and inhabitants of Jerusalem, under the character of princes of Sodom and people of Gomorrah. Two examples, of an elegant turn, of the like kind, may be observed in St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans 15:4-5; Romans 15:12-13.” — Bishop Lowth. Give ear unto the law of our God — The message which I am now to deliver to you from God, your great lawgiver.1:10-15 Judea was desolate, and their cities burned. This awakened them to bring sacrifices and offerings, as if they would bribe God to remove the punishment, and give them leave to go on in their sin. Many who will readily part with their sacrifices, will not be persuaded to part with their sins. They relied on the mere form as a service deserving a reward. The most costly devotions of wicked people, without thorough reformation of heart and life, cannot be acceptable to God. He not only did not accept them, but he abhorred them. All this shows that sin is very hateful to God. If we allow ourselves in secret sin, or forbidden indulgences; if we reject the salvation of Christ, our very prayers will become abomination.Hear the word of the Lord - The message of God. Having stated the calamities under which the nation was groaning, the prophet proceeds to address the rulers, and to state the cause of all these woes.

Ye rulers of Sodom - The incidental mention Sodom in the previous verse gives occasion for this beautiful transition, and abrupt and spirited address. Their character and destiny were almost like those of Sodom, and the prophet therefore openly addresses the rulers as being called to preside over a people like those in Sodom. There could have been no more severe or cutting reproof of their wickedness than to address them as resembling the people whom God overthrew for their enormous crimes.

10. Sodom—spiritually (Ge 19:24; Jer 23:14; Eze 16:46; Re 11:8). Hear the word of the Lord; I speak not my own fancies or passions, but the message of your Lord and Governor, to whom you owe all reverence and obedience.

Rulers of Sodom; so called for their resemblance of them in wickedness: compare Deu 32:32 Ezekiel 16:46,48.

The law; or, doctrine, as this word is commonly used; the message which I am now to deliver to you from God, your great Lawgiver, which ought to have the force of a law, with you. Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom,.... Not literally, but mystically, meaning the governors of Judea; they and their people having sinned in like manner, and as openly, as the rulers of Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof; see Isaiah 3:9 and so the Targum paraphrases the words,

"receive the word of the Lord, ye governors, whose works are evil like the governors of Sodom.''

These are called to attend to the word of the Lord; either the Scriptures, which should be the rule of faith and practice, from which they had swerved; or to the word which now came to them by the prophet, and is contained in the following verses; or rather to the Gospel preached to them by John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles, see Isaiah 2:3 which being rejected by them as it was, it is declared that it would be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for them, Matthew 11:24.

give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah; the inhabitants of Judea; for as were both the civil and ecclesiastical rulers, so were the people both in Isaiah's time, and in the times of Christ and his apostles. The Targum is,

"hearken to the law of our God, ye people whose works are like to the people of Gomorrah.''

And by "the law of our God" is meant, not so much the law of Moses, which these people had not hearkened to, but had broken it, and cast it away from them, as the doctrine of the grace of God, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our God; which was first sent and preached to this wicked people, for the sake of the small remnant, according to the election of grace left among them; see Isaiah 2:3.

Hear the word of the LORD, ye {r} rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

(r) You who for your vices deserved to be destroyed, as they of Sodom, save that God from his mercy reserved a little number, La 3:22.

10. rulers of Sodom … people of Gomorrah] Note the singularly effective transition from the last words of Isaiah 1:9. The word for “ruler” is the same as the Arabic kadi (found again in Isaiah 3:6, Isaiah 22:3) and means strictly “decider,” i.e. judge.

law of our God] Parallel to word of the Lord, as in Isaiah 2:3. The reference is not to the Mosaic Law, but to the prophetic revelation which follows (cf. Isaiah 5:24, Isaiah 8:16, Isaiah 30:9). The word Tôrâh (primarily “direction,” then “instruction” or “teaching”) was perhaps originally employed of the oral directions given by the priests on points of ritual or ethics (see esp. Haggai 2:11; Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 8:8; Jeremiah 18:18; Ezekiel 7:26); but is frequently used of the prophetic teaching (Jeremiah 31:33; Isaiah 42:4, &c.). It appears always to denote religious instruction, even in such cases as Proverbs 1:8; Proverbs 3:1; Proverbs 13:14, &c. Of the Mosaic Law, Deuteronomy 1:5; Deuteronomy 4:8, and very often.

10–17. “The false and the true way of seeking God’s favour” (Dillmann). The threatening aspect of public affairs had probably led to an unwonted display of zeal in the performance of the Temple ritual. Although the underlying thought of the people is that the bond between them and their God is maintained by sacrifice, &c., there is no reason to suppose that they are here conceived as consciously entering this plea in arrest of judgment. It is not till Isaiah 1:18 that Jehovah calls the nation to answer His indictment.—It is to be noted that in these verses there is a progression from the cruder and more external to the more spiritual expressions of religious homage: sacrifice, solemn assemblies, prayer. This shews that what the prophet repudiates is not cultus as such, but the unholy combination of ritual worship with immoral conduct.Verses 10-15. - THE PEOPLE'S PLEA NO EXCUSE, BUT AN AGGRAVATION OF THEIR GUILT. The prophet supposes the people, by the mouth of their rulers, to meet the charge of rebellion with an appeal to the fact that they maintain all the outward ordinances of religion, as required by the Lawn and are therefore blameless. This draws from him a burst of indignant eloquence, which the Holy Spirit directs him to put, mainly, into the mouth of God (vers. 11-15), denouncing such a pretence of religion as an aggravation of their sin, and characterizing their whole worship as an "abomination." Verse 10. - Hear the word of the Lord; i.e. "Do not speak to no purpose, but hear." The rulers are supposed to have begun their plea, but the prophet stops them. Ye rulers of Sodom. Having said in the preceding verse how nearly Jerusalem had suffered the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, the writer grows more bold, and proceeds to give Jerusalem the obnoxious names. Her "rulers, "literally, judges (katsin in Hebrew corresponding to kadi in Arabic), are "rulers of Sodom;" her people are the "people of Gomorrah." There is as much wickedness, though it may be not the same wickedness, in "the daughter of Zion" at the existing time, as in the cities of the plain when God destroyed them. The law of our God. Not the Levitical Law, though the word used has generally that sense, but the "instruction" or "direction" that was about to be uttered (comp. Psalm 78:1; and see below, Isaiah 2:3 and Isaiah 51:4). See Mr. Cheyne's note on the passage. "Woe upon the sinful nation, the guilt-laden people, the miscreant race, the children acting corruptly! They have forsaken Jehovah, blasphemed Israel's Holy One, turned away backwards." The distinction sometimes drawn between hoi (with He) and oi (with Aleph) - as equivalent to oh! and woe! - cannot be sustained. Hoi is an exclamation of pain, with certain doubtful exceptions; and in the case before us it is not so much a denunciation of woe (vae genti, as the Vulgate renders it), as a lamentation (vae gentem) filled with wrath. The epithets which follow point indirectly to that which Israel ought to have been, according to the choice and determination of God, and plainly declare what it had become through its own choice and ungodly self-determination. (1.) According to the choice and determination of God, Israel was to be a holy nation (goi kadosh, Exodus 19:6); but it was a sinful nation - gens peccatrix, as it is correctly rendered by the Vulgate. חטא is not a participle here, but rather a participial adjective in the sense of what was habitual. It is the singular in common use for the plural חטאי, sinners, the singular of which was not used. Holy and Sinful are glaring contrasts: for kadosh, so far as its radical notion is concerned (assuming, that is to say, that this is to be found in kad and not in dosh: see Psalter, i. 588, 9), signifies that which is separated from what is common, unclean, or sinful, and raised above it. The alliteration in hoi goi implies that the nation, as sinful, was a nation of woe. (2.) In the thorah Israel was called not only "a holy nation," but also "the people of Jehovah" (Numbers 17:6, Eng. ver. Numbers 16:41), the people chosen and blessed of Jehovah; but now it had become "a people heavy with iniquity." Instead of the most natural expression, a people bearing heavy sins; the sin, or iniquity, i.e., the weight carried, is attributed to the people themselves upon whom the weight rested, according to the common figurative idea, that whoever carries a heavy burden is so much heavier himself (cf., gravis oneribus, Cicero). עון (sin regarded as crookedness and perversity, whereas חטא suggests the idea of going astray and missing the way) is the word commonly used wherever the writer intends to describe sin in the mass (e.g., Isaiah 33:24; Genesis 15:16; Genesis 19:15), including the guilt occasioned by it. The people of Jehovah had grown into a people heavily laden with guilt. So crushed, so altered into the very opposite, had Israel's true nature become. It is with deliberate intention that we have rendered גּוי a nation (Nation), and עם(am a people (Volk): for, according to Malbim's correct definition of the distinction between the two, the former is used to denote the mass, as linked together by common descent, language, and country; the latter the people as bound together by unity of government (see, for example, Psalm 105:13). Consequently we always read of the people of the Lord, not the nation of the Lord; and there are only two instances in which goi is attached to a suffix relating to the ruler, and then it relates to Jehovah alone (Zephaniah 2:9; Psalm 106:5).

(3.) Israel bore elsewhere the honourable title of the seed of the patriarch (Isaiah 41:8; Isaiah 45:19; cf., Genesis 21:12); but in reality it was a seed of evil-doers (miscreants). This does not mean that it was descended from evil-doers; but the genitive is used in the sense of a direct apposition to zera (seed), as in Isaiah 65:23 (cf., Isaiah 61:9; Isaiah 6:13, and Ges. 116, 5), and the meaning is a seed which consists of evil-doers, and therefore is apparently descended from evil-doers instead of from patriarchs. This last thought is not implied in the genitive, but in the idea of "seed;" which is always a compact unit, having one origin, and bearing the character of its origin in itself. The rendering brood of evil-doers, however it may accord with the sense, would be inaccurate; for "seed of evil-doers" is just the same as "house of evil-doers" in Isaiah 31:2. The singular of the noun מרעים is מרע , with the usual sharpening in the case of gutturals in the verbs (' '(, מרע with patach, מרע with kametz in pause (Isaiah 9:16, which see) - a noun derived from the hiphil participle. (4.) Those who were of Israel were "children of Jehovah" through the act of God (Deuteronomy 14:1); but in their own acts they were "children acting destructively (bânim mashchithim), so that what the thorah feared and predicted had now occurred (Deuteronomy 4:16, Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 31:29). In all these passages we find the hiphil, and in the parallel passage of the great song (Deuteronomy 32:5) the piel - both of them conjugations which contain within themselves the object of the action indicated (Ges. 53, 2): to do what is destructive, i.e., so to act as to become destructive to one's self and to others. It is evident from Isaiah 1:2, that the term children is to be understood as indicating their relation to Jehovah (cf., Isaiah 30:1, Isaiah 30:9). The four interjectional clauses are followed by three declaratory clauses, which describe Israel's apostasy as total in every respect, and complete the mournful seven. There was apostasy in heart: "They have forsaken Jehovah." There was apostasy in words: "They blaspheme the Holy One of Israel." The verb literally means to sting, then to mock or treat scornfully; the use of it to denote blasphemy is antiquated Mosaic (Deuteronomy 31:20; Numbers 14:11, Numbers 14:23; Numbers 16:30). It is with intention that God is designated here as "the Holy One of Israel,"a name which constitutes the keynote of all Isaiah's prophecy (see at Isaiah 6:3). It was sin to mock at anything holy; it was a double sin to mock at God, the Holy One; but it was a threefold sin for Israel to mock at God the Holy One, who had set Himself to be the sanctifier of Israel, and required that as He was Israel's sanctification, He should also be sanctified by Israel according to His holiness (Leviticus 19:2, etc.). And lastly, there was also apostasy in action: "they have turned away backwards;" or, as the Vulgate renders it, abalienati sunt. נזור is the reflective of זוּר, related to נור and סוּר, for which it is the word commonly used in the Targum. The niphal, which is only met with here, indicates the deliberate character of their estrangement from God; and the expression is rendered still more emphatic by the introduction of the word "backwards" (achor, which is used emphatically in the place of מאחריו). In all their actions they ought to have followed Jehovah; but they had turned their backs upon Him, and taken the way selected by themselves.

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