Isaiah 1:12
When you come to appear before me, who has required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
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(12) When ye come to appear before me.—Literally, before my face. This is the meaning given by the present Hebrew text, and it is, of course, adequate. The Syriac version and some modern scholars (e.g., Cheyne) adopt a reading which gives to see my face. In either case the implied thought is that the worshippers believed they came into the more immediate presence of Jehovah when, they entered the Temple courts. To “appear before God” was the normal phrase for visiting the Temple at the three great Feasts and other solemn occasions (Exodus 34:23; Psalm 42:3; Psalm 84:7).

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.When you come to appear before me - The temple was in Jerusalem, and was regarded as the habitation, or dwelling-place, of the God of Israel. Particularly, the most holy place of the temple was deemed the place of his sacred abode. The Shekinah - from שׁכן shâkan, to dwell - the visible symbol of his presence, rested on the cover of the ark, and from this place he was accustomed to commune with his people, and to give responses to their requests. Hence, 'to appear before God,' Hebrew 'to be seen before my face,' פני לראות lerâ'ôth pânāy for פני את 'et pânāy, means to appear in his temple as a worshipper. The phrase occurs in this sense in the following places: Exodus 34:23-24; Deuteronomy 31:11; 1 Samuel 1:22; Psalm 42:3.

Who hath required this - The Jews were required to appear there to worship God Exodus 23:17; Deuteronomy 16:16; but it was not required that they should appear with that spirit and temper. A similar sentiment is expressed in Psalm 50:16.

At your hand - From you. The emphasis in this expression is to be laid on your. 'Who has asked it of you?' It was indeed the duty of the humble, and the sincere, to tread those courts, but who had required such hypocrites as they were to do it? God sought the offerings of pure worshippers, not those of the hypocritical and the profane.

To tread my courts - The courts of the temple were the different areas or open spaces which surrounded it. None entered the temple itself but the priests. The people worshipped God in the courts assigned them around the temple. In one of those courts was the altar of burnt-offerings; and the sacrifices were all made there; see the notes at Matthew 21:12. To tread his courts was an expression therefore, equivalent to, to worship. To tread the courts of the Lord here, has the idea of profanation. Who has required you to tread those courts with this hollow, heartless service? It is often used in the sense of treading down, or trampling on, 2 Kings 7:17-20; Daniel 8:7-10; Isaiah 63:3-16.

12. appear before me—in the temple where the Shekinah, resting on the ark, was the symbol of God's presence (Ex 23:15; Ps 42:2).

who hath required this—as if you were doing God a service by such hypocritical offerings (Job 35:7). God did require it (Ex 23:17), but not in this spirit (Mic 6:6, 7).

courts—areas, in which the worshippers were. None but priests entered the temple itself.

When ye come to appear before me, upon the three solemn feasts, Exodus 23:17 34:23, or upon other occasions.

Who hath required this at your hands, to wit, in this manner, and upon these terms? The thing that I commanded was not only nor chiefly that you should offer external sacrifices to me, but that you should do it with true repentance for all your sins, with faith in my promises, with hearty love to me, and sincere resolutions of devoting yourselves to my service, without which you offer me a dead carcass instead of a living sacrifice.

My courts; the courts of my temple, which were two, that of the priests, and that where the people assembled, 2 Chronicles 4:9. So this reproof seems to be directed against both priests and people, as unworthy to enjoy this privilege. When ye come to appear before me,.... At the grand festivals of the passover, pentecost, and tabernacles, at which times all the males in Israel appeared before God, Exodus 23:17.

who hath required this at your hand; either to appear at such times, these feasts being no more to be observed; or to offer the above sacrifices; these were not required of the Israelites when they first came out of Egypt, Jeremiah 7:22 nor were they necessary to appear before God with, or to introduce them to the throne of his grace, Micah 6:6 and much less under the Gospel dispensation, being abolished by the sacrifice of Christ; or this relates to what follows,

to tread my courts? in that unbecoming and hypocritical way they did, and with such wicked hearts and bloody hands. "Courts" are mentioned, because, as Kimchi observes, the Israelites stood in the courts of the Lord's house, and did not go into the temple, only the priests.

When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
12. to appear before me] R.V. marg. (following one Hebr. MS.) suggests to see my face, which is grammatically easier. It is thought that here and elsewhere the traditional text has substituted the passive for the active so as to avoid the appearance of anthropomorphism. On either view the phrase is a technical one, denoting the act of worship in the sanctuary: Exodus 23:15; Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:20; Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16; Deuteronomy 31:11; 1 Samuel 1:22.

to tread] Better to trample; the idea of desecration is implied. This ending of the question seems weak: LXX. transfers the clause to the beginning of the next verse: “My courts ye shall no more trample; to bring oblations is vain, &c.”Verse 12. - When ye come to appear before me. Mr. Cheyne translates, "to see my face;" but most other commentators (Gesenius, Delitzsch, Ewald, Kay) regard the phrase used as equivalent to that employed in Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16; and the passage as referring to that attendance in the temple at the three great annual festivals, which was required of all adult male Israelites. The requirement of the Law was still observed in the letter, but not in the spirit. They came with no true religious object. Hence the question which follows: Who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? This was not what God had enjoined - a mere bodily attendance, a trampling of his courts with their feet, when their hearts were far from him. This description of the total misery of every individual in the nation is followed by a representation of the whole nation as one miserably diseased body. "From the some of the foot even to the head there is nothing sound in it: cuts, and stripes, and festering wounds; they have not been pressed out, nor bound up, nor has there been any soothing with oil." The body of the nation, to which the expression "in it" applies (i.e., the nation as a whole), was covered with wounds of different kinds; and no means whatever had been applied to heal these many, various wounds, which lay all together, close to one another, and one upon the other, covering the whole body. Cuts (from פּצע to cut) are wounds that have cut into the flesh - sword-cuts, for example. These need binding up, in order that the gaping wound may close again. Stripes (Chabburâh, from Châbar, to stripe), swollen stripes, or weals, as if from a cut with a whip, or a blow with a fist: these require softening with oil, that the coagulated blood of swelling may disperse. Festering wounds, maccâh teriyâh, from târâh, to be fresh (a different word from the talmudic word t're, Chullin 45b, to thrust violently, so as to shake): these need pressing, for the purpose of cleansing them, so as to facilitate their healing. Thus the three predicates manifest an approximation to a chiasm (the crossing of the members); but this retrospective relation is not thoroughly carried out. The predicates are written in the plural, on account of the collective subject. The clause ולא רּכּכה בּשּׁמן, which refers to חבורה (stripes), so far as the sense is concerned (olive-oil, like all oleosa, being a dispersing medium), is to be taken as neuter, since this is the only way of explaining the change in the number: "And no softening has been effected with oil." Zoru we might suppose to be a pual, especially on account of the other puals near: it is not so, however, for the simple reason that, according to the accentuation (viz., with two pashtahs, the first of which gives the tone, as in tohu, Genesis 1:2, so that it must be pronounced zóru), it has the tone upon the penultimate, for which it would be impossible to discover any reason, if it were derived from zârâh. For the assumption that the tone is drawn back to prepare the way for the strong tone of the next verb (Chubbâshu) is arbitrary, as the influence of the pause, though it sometimes reaches the last word but one, never extends to the last but two. Moreover, according to the usage of speech, zorâh signifies to be dispersed, not to be pressed out; whereas zur and zârar are commonly used in the sense of pressing together and squeezing out. Consequently zoru is either the kal of an intransitive zor in the middle voice (like boshu), or, what is more probable - as zoru, the middle voice in Psalm 58:4, has a different meaning (abalienati sunt: cf., Isaiah 1:4) - the kal of zârar ( equals Arab. Constringere), which is here conjugated as an intransitive (cf., Job 24:24, rommu, and Genesis 49:23, where robbu is used in an active sense). The surgical treatment so needed by the nation was a figurative representation of the pastoral addresses of the prophets, which had been delivered indeed, but, inasmuch as their salutary effects were dependent upon the penitential sorrow of the people, might as well have never been delivered at all. The people had despised the merciful, compassionate kindness of their God. They had no liking for the radical cure which the prophets had offered to effect. All the more pitiable, therefore, was the condition of the body, which was sick within, and diseased from head to foot. The prophet is speaking here of the existing state of things. He affirms that it is all over with the nation; and this is the ground and object of his reproachful lamentations. Consequently, when he passes in the next v. from figurative language to literal, we may presume that he is still speaking of his own times. It is Isaiah's custom to act in this manner as his own expositor (compare Isaiah 1:22 with Isaiah 1:23). The body thus inwardly and outwardly diseased, was, strictly speaking, the people and the land in their fearful condition at that time.
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