Isaiah 1:2 Commentaries: Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, "Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me.
Isaiah 1:2
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD has spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth.—The prophet opens the great indictment by calling the universe to listen to it. The words remind us of Deuteronomy 30:19; Deuteronomy 32:1, but the thought was the common inheritance of Hebrew poets (Psalm 50:4; Jeremiah 6:19; Jeremiah 22:29), and we can draw no inference from the parallelism as to the date of either book.

I have nourished and brought up children. The last word has in the Hebrew the emphasis of position: Sons I have reared and brought up. From those who had thus grown up under a father’s care filial duty might have been expected; but it was not so. The sons had rebelled against their father’s control. It is significant that the prophet starts from the thought of the fatherhood of God in His relation to Israel. The people might be unworthy of their election, but He had chosen them (Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1; Hosea 11:1).

Isaiah 1:2. Hear, O heavens, &c. — “God is introduced as entering upon a solemn and public action, or pleading, before the whole world, against his disobedient people. The prophet, as herald, or officer, to proclaim the summons to the court, calls upon all created beings, celestial and terrestrial, to attend and bear witness to the truth of his plea, and the justice of his cause.” — Bishop Lowth. See the same scene more fully displayed, Psalm 50:3-4. With the like invocation Moses begins his sublime song, Deuteronomy 32:1; see also Micah 6:1-2. For the Lord hath spoken — Or, It is Jehovah that speaketh, as Bishop Lowth renders it, there seeming to be an impropriety in demanding attention to a speech already delivered. I have nourished, &c. — I first made them a people, and, until this time, I have sustained and blessed them above all other nations: God’s care over them is compared to that of parents in nursing and training up their children. And they have rebelled against me — Or, as פשׁעו ביmay be rendered, have revolted from me — Even they, peculiarly favoured as they have been, have proved deserters, nay, traitors, against my crown and dignity. This is the Lord’s plea against them, of the equity of which he is willing that all the creatures should be judges.1:1-9 Isaiah signifies, The salvation of the Lord; a very suitable name for this prophet, who prophesies so much of Jesus the Saviour, and his salvation. God's professing people did not know or consider that they owed their lives and comforts to God's fatherly care and kindness. How many are very careless in the affairs of their souls! Not considering what we do know in religion, does us as much harm, as ignorance of what we should know. The wickedness was universal. Here is a comparison taken from a sick and diseased body. The distemper threatens to be mortal. From the sole of the foot even to the head; from the meanest peasant to the greatest peer, there is no soundness, no good principle, no religion, for that is the health of the soul. Nothing but guilt and corruption; the sad effects of Adam's fall. This passage declares the total depravity of human nature. While sin remains unrepented, nothing is done toward healing these wounds, and preventing fatal effects. Jerusalem was exposed and unprotected, like the huts or sheds built up to guard ripening fruits. These are still to be seen in the East, where fruits form a large part of the summer food of the people. But the Lord had a small remnant of pious servants at Jerusalem. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed. The evil nature is in every one of us; only Jesus and his sanctifying Spirit can restore us to spiritual health.Hear, O heavens - This is properly the beginning of the prophecy. It is a sublime commencement; and is of a highly poetic character. The heavens and the earth are summoned to bear witness to the apostasy, ingratitude, and deep depravity of the chosen people of God. The address is expressive of deep feeling - the bursting forth of a heart filled with amazement at a wonderful and unusual event. The same sublime beginning is found in the song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:1 :

Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak;

And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

Compare Psalm 4:3-4. Thus also the prophets often invoke the hills and mountains to hear them; Ezekiel 6:3 : 'Ye mountains of Israel, hear the words of the Lord God: Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains, and to the hills, and to the rivers, and to the valleys;' compare Ezekiel 36:1. 'Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord,' Jeremiah 2:12. By the heavens therefore, in this place, we are not to understand the inhabitants of heaven, that is, the angels, anymore than by the hills we are to understand the inhabitants of the mountains. It is high poetic language, denoting the importance of the subject, and the remarkable and amazing truth to which the attention was to be called.

Give ear, O earth - It was common thus to address the earth on any remarkable occasion, especially anyone implying warm expostulation, Jeremiah 5:19; Jeremiah 22:29; Micah 1:2; Micah 6:2; Isaiah 34:1; Isaiah 49:13.

For - Since it is Yahweh that speaks, all the universe is summoned to attend; compare Psalm 33:8-9 : 'Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the World stand in awe of him. For he spake and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast.'

The Lord - - יהוה yehovâh, or Jehovah. The small capitals used here and elsewhere throughout the Bible in printing the word Lord, denote that the original word is Yahweh. It is derived from the verb היה hâyâh, "to be;" and is used to denote "being," or the fountain of being, and can be applied only to the true God; compare Exodus 3:14 : 'And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am, אהיה אשׁר אהיה 'eheyeh 'ăsher 'eheyeh; Exodus 6:3; Numbers 11:21; Isaiah 47:8. It is a name which is never given to idols, or conferred on a creature; and though it occurs often in the Hebrew Scriptures, as is indicated by the small capitals, yet our translators have retained it but four times; Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 26:4. In combination, however, with other names, it occurs often. Thus in Isaiah, meaning the salvation of Yahweh; "Jeremiah," the exaltation or grandeur of Yahweh, etc.; compare Genesis 22:14 : 'Abraham called the name of the place "Jehovah-jireh,'" Exodus 17:15; Judges 6:24; Ezekiel 48:35. The Jews never pronounced this name, not even in reading their own Scriptures. So sacred did they deem it, that when it occurred in their books, instead of the word Yahweh, they substituted the word אדני 'ădonāy, "Lord." Our translators have shown respect to this feeling of the Jews in regard to the sacredness of the name; and hence, have rendered it by the name of Lord - a word which by no means conveys the sense of the word Yahweh. It would have been an advantage to our version if the word Yahweh had been retained wherever it occurs in the original.

I have nourished - Hebrew "I have made great;" גדלתי gı̂daletı̂y. In Piel, the word means "to make great, to cause to grow;" as e. g., the hair; Numbers 6:5, plants, Isaiah 44:14; then to educate or bring up children; Isaiah 49:21; 2 Kings 10:6

And brought up - רוממתי romamethı̂y, from רום rûm, "to lift up" or "exalt." In Piel it means to bring up, nourish, educate; Isaiah 23:4. These words, though applied often to the training up of children, yet are used here also to denote the elevation to which they had been raised. He had not merely trained them up, but he had trained them up to an elevated station; to special honor and privileges. "Children." Hebrew בנים bânnı̂ym - sons." They were the adopted children of God; and they are represented as being weak, and ignorant, and helpless as children, when he took them under his fatherly protection and care; Hosea 11:1 : 'When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt;' compare the note at Matthew 2:15; Isaiah 63:8-16.

They have rebelled - This complaint was often brought against the Jews; compare Isaiah 63:10; Jeremiah 2:6-8. This is the sum of the charge against them. God had shown them special favors. He recounted his mercy in bringing them out of Egypt; and on the ground of this, he demanded obedience and love; compare Exodus 20:1-3. And yet they bad forgotten him, and rebelled against him. The Targum of Jonathan, an ancient Chaldee version, has well expressed the idea here. 'Hear, O heavens, which were moved when I gave my law to my people: give ear, O earth, which didst tremble before my word, for the Lord has spoken. My people, the house of Israel, whom I called sons - I loved them - I honored them, and they rebelled against me.' The same is true substantially of all sinners; and alas, how often may a similar expostulation be made with the professed people of God!

2. The very words of Moses (De 32:1); this implies that the law was the charter and basis of all prophecy (Isa 8:20).

Lord—Jehovah; in Hebrew, "the self-existing and promise-fulfilling, unchangeable One." The Jews never pronounced this holy name, but substituted Adonai. The English Version, Lord in capitals, marks the Hebrew "Jehovah," though Lord is rather equivalent to "Adonai" than "Jehovah."

children—(Ex 4:22).

rebelled—as sons (De 21:18) and as subjects, God being king in the theocracy (Isa 63:10). "Brought up," literally, "elevated," namely, to peculiar privileges (Jer 2:6-8; Ro 9:4, 5).

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: he directeth his speech to these senseless creatures, that thereby he might more awaken and affect the Israelites, whom he hereby proclaimeth to be so dull and stupid that they were past hearing, and therefore gives them over as desperate; and calleth in the whole creation Of God to bear witness against them.

The Lord hath spoken: this is his plea against them, of the equity whereof he is willing that all the creatures should be judges.

I have nourished and brought up children; I first made them a people, and until this time I have sustained and blessed them above all other nations. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth,.... To what the Lord was about to say of his controversy with his people, which was to be managed openly and publicly before them as spectators and witnesses; this designs either strictly and properly the heavens and the earth, or figuratively the inhabitants of them, angels and men. The address is solemn, and denotes something of moment and importance to be done and attended to: see Deuteronomy 32:1. The Targum is,

"hear, O ye heavens, that were moved when I gave my law to my people; and hearken, O earth, that trembleth before my word.''

For the Lord hath spoken: not only by Moses, and the prophets that were before Isaiah, but he had spoken to him the words he was now about to deliver; for they were not his own words, but the Lord's: he spoke by the inspiration of God, and as moved by the Holy Ghost; and therefore what he said was to be received, not as the word of man, but as the word of God:

I have nourished and brought up children; meaning the Jews;

"my people, the house of Israel, whom I have called children,''

as the Targum paraphrases it; see Exodus 4:22 to these, as a nation, belonged the adoption; they were reckoned the children of God; the Lord took notice and care of them in their infant state, brought them out of Egypt, led them through the wilderness, and fed them in it; brought them into Canaan's land, drove out the nations before them, and settled them there; gave them his laws and ordinances, distinguished them from all other nations by his favours, and raised them to a high estate, to much greatness and prosperity, especially in the days of David and Solomon. The words may be rendered, "I have magnified", or "made great, and have exalted children" (s); not only brought them up, but brought them to great honour and dignity; and even unto man's estate, unto the time appointed of the Father, when they should have been under tutors and governors no longer, but under the King Messiah; but they were rebellious, as follows:

and they have rebelled against me, their Lord and King; for the Jews were under a theocracy; God, who was their Father, was their King, and they rebelled against him by breaking his laws, which rebellion is aggravated by its being not only of subjects against their king, but of children against their father; the law concerning a rebellious son, see in Deuteronomy 21:18. The Targum paraphrases it, "they have rebelled against my Word"; the essential Word, the Messiah; the Septuagint version is, "but they have rejected me" (t); and the Vulgate Latin version (u), "but they have despised me": so the Jews rejected and despised the true Messiah when he came, would not have him to reign over them, would not receive his yoke, though easy, but rebelled against him. The Jews were a rebellious people from the beginning, in Moses's time, and in the prophets, and so quite down to the times of the Messiah.

(s) "magnificavi", Montanus, Vatablus; "exaltavi", Munster; "extuli", Jun. & Tremel. Sept. (t) . (u) "Spreverunt me".

Hear, O {d} heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up {e} children, and they have rebelled against me.

(d) Because men were obstinate and insensible, he calls to the dumb creatures, who were more prompt to obey God's word, as in De 32:1.

(e) He declares his great mercy toward the Jews as he chose them above all other nations to be his people and children as in De 10:15.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. the Lord hath spoken] The inner ear of the prophet has heard the words which follow; he will utter them in trumpet-tones which shall cause all creation to hear and shudder. The apostrophe to the heavens and the earth has probably no other force than this (cf. Deuteronomy 32:1; Micah 6:1-2; Jeremiah 2:12), although Dillmann thinks they are appealed to as witnesses of all that has passed between the Lord and His people. The dramatic conception of a formal Assize, with Heaven and Earth for Assessors, the prophet for Herald, and so on, although a favourite one with commentators, is merely fanciful, and weakens the rhetorical effect of the passage.

nourished and brought up] The two expressions may be synonymous, as in ch. Isaiah 23:4; Ezekiel 31:4. More probably, however, the second means “set on high [among the nations]” (cf. R.V. marg.).

children] sons; the position of the word is emphatic. (Israel, the son of Jehovah, as Exodus 4:22 f.; Deuteronomy 16:1; Deuteronomy 32:5-6; Deuteronomy 32:18; Hosea 11:1 ff.) The “sons” are not named here, attention being concentrated on the tragic fact that He who is Lord of all should know

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is

To have a thankless child.”

have rebelled] The charge of rebellion in the mouth of Isaiah (only here and Isaiah 1:28) would include three things: (1) the sin of idolatry, (2) breaches of the moral law, (3) rejection of his own prophetic message (cf. Isaiah 1:4). It is possible that the occasion of this revelation may have been some particular incident of the kind last mentioned, such as e.g. the decision of Ahaz to call in the help of Assyria (ch. 7), or Hezekiah’s treaty with Egypt in 701 (cf. ch. Isaiah 30:9-15).

2, 3. The heart-rending complaint of Jehovah.Verses 2-6. - GOD'S COMPLAINT AGAINST HIS PEOPLE. The groundwork of Isaiah's entire prophecy is Judah's defection from God. God's people have sinned, done amiss, dealt wickedly. The hour of vengeance approaches. Punishment has begun, and will go on, continually increasing in severity. National repentance would avert God's judgments, but the nation will not repeat. God's vengeance will fall, and by it a remnant will be purified, and return to God, and be his true people. In the present section the indictment is laid. Judah's sins are called to her remembrance. Verse 2. - Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth. "A grave and magnificent exorilium! All nature is invoked to hear Jehovah make complaint of the ingratitude of his people" (Rosenmüller). The invocation is cast in the same form with that so common in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 4:26; 30:19; 31:28; 32:1), and seems to indicate familiarity with that book. The idea extends widely among sacred and other poets (see Psalm 1:3, 4; Micah 6:1, 2; Aesch., 'P. V.,' 11. 88-92). The Lord hath spoken; rather, the Lord (literally, Jehovah) speaketh (so Lowth, Cheyne, and Gesenius). The speech of Jehovah follows in vers. 2, 3. I have nourished and brought up children; literally, (my) sons I have made great and high; i.e. I have raised Israel to greatness and exalted him among the nations. Notwithstanding their disobedience, God still acknowledges them as his "sons." They have rebelled against me. The verb used is generally rendered in our version "transgressed" (see Jeremiah 3:13; Hosea 7:13; Amos 4:4); but it may also have the stronger sense here assigned it. Lowth translates, "revolted from me;" Gesenius, "fallen away from me;" Cheyne, "broken away from me." 10 I was a wall,

     And my breasts like towers;

     Then I became in his eyes

     Like one who findeth peace.

In the language of prose, the statement would be: Your conduct is good and wise, as my own example shows; of me also ye thus faithfully took care; and that I met this your solicitude with strenuous self-preservation, has become, to my joy and yours, the happiness of my life. That in this connection not אני חומה, but חומה אני has to be used, is clear: she compares herself with her sister, and the praise she takes to herself she takes to the honour of her brothers. The comparison of her breasts to towers is suggested by the comparison of her person to a wall; Kleuker rightly remarks that here the comparison is not of thing with thing, but of relation with relation: the breasts were those of her person, as the towers were of the wall, which, by virtue of the power of defence which they conceal within themselves, never permit the enemy, whose attention they attract, to approach them. The two substantival clauses, murus et ubera mea instar turrium, have not naturally a retrospective signification, as they would in a historical connection (vid., under Genesis 2:10); but they become retrospective by the following "then I became," like Deuteronomy 26:5, by the historical tense following, where, however, it is to be remarked that the expression, having in itself no relation to time, which is incapable of being expressed in German, mentions the past not in a way that excludes the present, but as including it. She was a wall, and her breasts like the towers, i.e., all seductions rebounded from her, and ventured not near her awe-inspiring attractions; then (אז, temporal, but at the same time consequent; thereupon, and for this reason, as at Psalm 40:8; Jeremiah 22:15, etc.) she became in his (Solomon's) eyes as one who findeth peace. According to the shepherd-hypothesis, she says here: he deemed it good to forbear any further attempts, and to let me remain in peace (Ewald, Hitz., and others). But how is that possible? מצא שׁלום בעיני is a variation of the frequently occurring מצא חן בעיני, which is used especially of a woman gaining the affections of a man, Esther 2:17; Deuteronomy 24:1; Jeremiah 31:2 f.; and the expression here used, "thus I was in his eyes as one who findeth peace" is only the more circumstantial expression for, "then I found (אז מצאתי) in his eyes peace," which doubtless means more than: I brought it to this, that he left me further unmolested; שׁלום in this case, as syn. of חן, means inward agreement, confidence, friendship, as at Psalm 41:10; there it means, as in the salutation of peace and in a hundred other cases, a positive good. And why should she use שׁלום instead of חן, but that she might form a play upon the name which she immediately, Sol 8:11, thereafter utters, שׁלמה, which signifies, 1 Chronicles 22:9, "The man of peace." That Shulamith had found shalom (peace) with Shelomoh (Solomon), cannot be intended to mean that uninjured she escaped from him, but that she had entered into a relation to him which seemed to her a state of blessed peace. The delicate description, "in his eyes," is designed to indicate that she appeared to him in the time of her youthful discipline as one finding peace. The כ is כ veritatis, i.e., the comparison of the fact with its idea, Isaiah 29:2, or of the individual with the general and common, Isaiah 13:6; Ezekiel 26:10; Zechariah 14:3. Here the meaning is, that Shulamith appeared to him corresponding to the idea of one finding peace, and thus as worthy to find peace with him. One "finding peace" is one who gains the heart of a man, so that he enters into a relation of esteem and affection for her. This generalization of the idea also opposes the notion of a history of seduction. מוחאת is from the ground-form matsiat, the parallel form to מוצאת, 2 Samuel 18:22. Solomon has won her, not by persuasion or violence; but because she could be no other man's, he entered with her into the marriage covenant of peace (cf. Proverbs 2:17 with Isaiah 54:10).

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