Isaiah 1:25
And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) I will turn my hand upon thee.—The phrase, like the English “visit,” presents both a severe and a gracious aspect. Of the former we have instances in Psalm 81:14, Amos 1:8; of the latter in Zechariah 13:7. The context here inclines to the latter meaning. Jehovah punishes that He may save, and smites that He may heal.

Purely purge away thy dross.—Better, will smelt away thy dross with lye, or potash, which was used in the smelting process. The imagery of Isaiah 1:22 is resumed. The great Refiner can purify the debased metal. In Malachi 3:2-3, we have the same image expanded. The process involved, of course, the rejection of the dross—i.e., in the interpretation of the parable, of the lead that would not let itself be turned to silver.

Tin.—Better, perhaps, lead. In either case Isaiah’s knowledge of metallurgy was probably due to intercourse with the Phœnicians, who brought both lead and tin from Tarshish (i.e., Spain).

Isaiah 1:25-26. And I will turn my hand upon thee — I will chastise thee again, and thereby reform thee: or, I will do that for the reviving of religion, which I did at first for the planting of it. And purge away thy dross — I will purge out of thee those wicked men that are incorrigible, and, as for those of you that are curable, I will by my word, and by the furnace of affliction, purge out all that corruption that yet remains in you. And I will restore thy judges, &c. — I will give thee such princes and magistrates as thou hadst in the beginning, either, 1st, Of thy commonwealth, such as Moses and Joshua: or, 2d, Of thy kingdom, such as David. And thy counsellors — Thy princes shall have, and shall hearken to, wise and faithful counsellors. Afterward thou shalt be called — Namely, justly and truly, the city of righteousness, &c. — Thou shalt be such. “The reforming of the magistracy,” says Henry, “is a good step toward the reforming of the city and country too.”

1:21-31 Neither holy cities nor royal ones are faithful to their trust, if religion does not dwell in them. Dross may shine like silver, and the wine that is mixed with water may still have the colour of wine. Those have a great deal to answer for, who do not help the oppressed, but oppress them. Men may do much by outward restraints; but only God works effectually by the influences of his Spirit, as a Spirit of Judgment. Sin is the worst captivity, the worst slavery. The redemption of the spiritual Zion, by the righteousness and death of Christ, and by his powerful grace, most fully accord with what is here meant. Utter ruin is threatened. The Jews should become as a tree when blasted by heat; as a garden without water, which in those hot countries would soon be burned up. Thus shall they be that trust in idols, or in an arm of flesh. Even the strong man shall be as tow; not only soon broken, and pulled to pieces, but easily catching fire. When the sinner has made himself as tow and stubble, and God makes himself as a consuming fire, what can prevent the utter ruin of the sinner?And I will turn my hand upon thee - This expression is capable of two significations. The hand may be stretched out for two purposes, either to inflict punishment, or to afford help and protection. The phrase here refers evidently to the latter, to the act of redeeming and restoring his people, Isaiah 1:26-27. The idea may be thus expressed: 'I will stretch out my hand to punish my enemies Isaiah 1:24, and will turn my hand upon thee for protection, and recovery.'

Purge away - This refers to the process of smelting, or purifying metals in the fire. It means, I will remove all the dross which has accumulated Isaiah 1:22, and will make the silver pure. This was commonly done by fire; and the idea is, that he would render his own people pure by those judgments which would destroy his enemies who were intermingled with them.

Purely - The original word here - כבר kabor - has been commonly understood to mean, according to purity; that is, effectually or entirely pure. Thus it is translated by the Septuagint, and by the Latin Vulgate. But by the Chaldee it is translated, 'I will purify thee as with the herb borith.' The word may mean lye, alkali, or potash, Job 9:30; and it may mean also borax - a substance formed of alkali and boracic acid, much used in purifying metals. The essential idea is, I will make you effectually, or entirely pure.

Thy tin - Tin is with us a well-known white metal. But the word used here does not mean tin. It denotes the stannum of the ancients; a metal formed of lead mixed with silver ore. Here it means, I will take away all the impure metal mixed with thee; varying the idea but little from the former part of the verse.

25. turn … hand—not in wrath, but in grace (Zec 13:7), "upon thee," as Isa 1:26, 27 show; contrasted with the enemies, of whom He will avenge Himself (Isa 1:24).

purely—literally, "as alkali purifies."

thy dross—not thy sins, but the sinful persons (Jer 6:29); "enemies" (Isa 1:24); degenerate princes (see on [689]Isa 1:22), intermingled with the elect "remnant" of grace.

tin—Hebrew, bedil, here the alloy of lead, tin, &c., separated by smelting from the silver. The pious Bishop Bedell took his motto from this.

I will turn my hand upon thee, to chastise thee again, which God threatened that he would not do, Isaiah 1:5, but now promiseth that he will do it, not in fury, or so as utterly to destroy them, but in mercy, and with moderation, so as to purge them, as it here follows.

And purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin; I will purge out of thee and destroy those wicked men that are incorrigible and infectious to others; and for those of you that are curable, I will by my word, and by the furnace of affliction, purge out all that hypocrisy and corruption that yet remains in you, and requires so sharp a cure.

And I will turn my hand upon thee,.... The remnant, according to the election of grace, left in Jerusalem, Isaiah 1:9 meaning not his afflicting hand, no, not even as a fatherly chastisement; though the Lord sometimes, by such means, purges away the iniquity of his people, as follows; see Isaiah 27:9 much less his hand of wrath and vengeance, the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger; but his hand of efficacious grace in conversion, with which he plucks sinners as brands out of the burning; delivers them from the power of Satan; turns their hearts to himself; opens them, to attend unto and understand divine things; breaks them in pieces with the hammer of his word; works grace in them, and carries on the good work in their souls: all which is owing to his mighty hand of grace upon them, and to the exertions of the exceeding greatness of his power towards them. This was accomplished in part in the conversion of a large number of the Jews on the day of Pentecost, and afterwards; and will be more fully accomplished in the latter day, when that people shall turn to the Lord, in consequence of his hand of powerful grace being turned on them. The phrase is used of the display of divine grace and mercy, in Zechariah 13:7.

and purely purge away thy dross; which the Targum rightly interprets of "ungodliness" or wickedness; it means the sins of converted ones, which, at conversion, they are purely purged from; not that sin, as to the being of it, is removed from them; that dwells in them, abides with them; and, like dross, is a heavy burden, a dead weight upon them, and will be while they are in this tabernacle, and makes them groan, being burdened; so far from it, that in their view it rather increases; they see the plague of their own hearts; and such innumerable swarms of corruption they never saw before; sin revives, and they die; but in conversion grace superabounds it, deluges over it, keeps down the force and power of it, so that it has not the dominion; the old man is put off concerning the former conversation, which ceases to be a series, a course of sinning: besides, through the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, which cleanseth from all the dross and filth of sin, the guilt is removed from the conscience, and perfect peace and full pardon take place; all iniquity is caused to pass from them, and they are clothed with change of raiment, the righteousness of Christ, by which they are justified from all things, and are pure, spotless, and without fault before the throne:

and take away all thy tin. The Targum also interprets this of iniquity, rendering it, "I will take away all thy sin"; but it is better to understand it of self-righteousness; which, as tin is of more worth than dross, and looks like silver; so this has the appearance of some good in it, and was what the Jews were fond of, trusted in, and depended on, and which they followed after, and endeavoured to establish and hold fast; but this in conversion is all taken away: the Lord, by his Spirit; convinces of the weakness and insufficiency of it, to justify in his sight; shows that it is not a righteousness, and will be of no service in that respect; yea, takes away these filthy rags, and clothes with the righteousness of Christ; causes the soul to drop and renounce its own righteousness, and put on that; and not only to renounce works before conversion, but all after it, as a profession of religion, subjection to Gospel ordinances, and all works, though done in faith, and in a right manner; a glaring instance we have of all this in one of that little remnant, the Apostle Paul, Philippians 3:6. Moreover, by "dross" and "tin", or "tins", in the plural number, may be meant persons; wicked and profane men, by the former, who should be put away like dross, Psalm 119:119 and self righteous persons, by the latter; who shine like silver, make a show of religion, appear outwardly righteous; but these, as well as the other, should be separated from the people of God, when the precious and the vile should be distinguished.

And I will turn my hand upon thee, and thoroughly purge away thy dross, {k} and take away all thy tin:

(k) Lest the faithful among them should be overcome with his threatening he adds this consolation.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 25. - I will turn my hand upon thee; rather, I will bring back my hand upon thee; i.e. I will once more put forth the "strong hand and mighty arm, with which I brought thee out of Egypt" (Psalm 136:12), and will work another deliverance - the deliverance of Israel out of captivity. Purely purge away thy dross; literally, will purge away thy dross like borax, which was used as a flux in purifying the metal. The prophet continues the metaphor of ver. 22. And take away all thy tin; rather, thy had - the alloy with which the "silver" had become mixed. Isaiah 1:25Isaiah 1:25 states clearly in what the revenge consisted with which Jehovah was inwardly burdened (innakmah, a cohortative with the ah, indicating internal oppression): "And I will bring my hand over thee, and will smelt out thy dross as with alkali, and will clear away all thy lead." As long as God leaves a person's actions or sufferings alone, His hand, i.e., His acting, is at rest. Bringing the hand over a person signifies a movement of the hand, which has been hitherto at rest, either for the purpose of inflicting judicial punishment upon the person named (Amos 1:8; Jeremiah 6:9; Ezekiel 38:12; Psalm 81:15), or else, though this is seldom the case, for the purpose of saving him (Zechariah 13:7). The reference here is to the divine treatment of Jerusalem, in which punishment and salvation were combined - punishment as the means, salvation as the end. The interposition of Jehovah was, as it were, a smelting, which would sweep away, not indeed Jerusalem itself, but the ungodly in Jerusalem. They are compared to dross, or (as the verb seems to imply) to ore mixed with dross, and, inasmuch as lead is thrown off in the smelting of silver, to such ingredients of lead as Jehovah would speedily and thoroughly remove, "like alkali," i.e., "as if with alkali" (Cabbor, Comparatio decurtata, for C'babbor: for this mode of dropping Beth after Caph, compare Isaiah 9:3; Leviticus 22:13, and many other passages). By bedilim (from bâdal, to separate) we are to understand the several pieces of stannum or lead

(Note: Plumbum nigrum, says Pliny, n. n. xxiv. 16, is sometimes found alone, and sometimes mixed with silver: ejus qui primus fluic in fornacibus liquor, stannum appellatur. The reference here is to the lead separated from the ore in the process of obtaining pure silver. In the form of powder this dross is called bedil, and the pieces bedilim; whereas ophereth is the name of solid lead, obtained by simply melting down from ore which does not contain silver. The fact that bedil is also apparently used as a name for tin, may be explained in the same way as the homonymy of iron and basalt (Com. on Job 28:2), and of the oak and terebinth. The two metals are called by the same name on account of their having a certain outward resemblance, viz., in softness, pliability, colour, and specific gravity.)

in which the silver is contained, and which are separated by smelting, all the baser metals being distinguished from the purer kinds by the fact that they are combustible (i.e., can be oxidized). Both bor, or potash (an alkali obtained from land-plants), and nether, natron (i.e., soda, or natron obtained from the ashes of marine plants, which is also met with in many mineral waters), have been employed from the very earliest times to accelerate the process of smelting, for the purpose of separating a metal from its ore.

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