Isaiah 1:5
Why should you be stricken any more? you will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
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(5) Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more.—Better, by revolting more and more. The prophet does not predict persistency in rebellion, but pleads against it. (Comp. “Why will ye die?” in Ezekiel 18:31.)

The whole head is sick. . . .—Better, every head. . . . every heart. The sin of the people is painted as a deadly epidemic, spreading everywhere, affecting the noblest organs of the body (see Note on Jeremiah 17:9), and defying all the resources of the healing art. The description that follows is one of the natural parables of ethics, and reminds us of Plato’s description of the souls of tyrants as being full of ulcerous sores (Gorg., c. 80). The description may have connected itself with the prophet’s personal experience or training in the medicine and surgery of his time, or with the diseases which came as judgments on Jehoram (2Chronicles 21:18) and Uzziah (2Chronicles 26:20). We find him in Isaiah 38:21 prescribing for Hezekiah’s boil. It would seem, indeed, from 2Chronicles 16:12, that the prophets, as an order, practised the art of healing, and so were rivals of the “physicians,” who depended chiefly on idolatrous charms and incantations. The picture of the disease reminds us of the language of Deuteronomy 28:22-35; Job 2:7, and of the descriptions of like pestilences in the history of Florence, and of England. Every part of the body is tainted by the poison. “We note a certain technical precision in the three terms used: “wounds” (literally, cuts, as inflicted by a sword or knife); “bruises,” or weals, marks of the scourge or rod; “putrifying sores,” wounds that have festered into ulcers. As the diagnosis is technical, so also are the therapeutic agencies. To “close” or “press” the festering wound was the process tried at first to get rid of the purulent discharge; then, as in Hezekiah’s case (Isaiah 38:21), it was “bound up,” with a poultice, then some stimulating oil or unguent, probably, as in Luke 10:34, oil and wine were used, to cleanse the ulcer. No such remedies, the prophet says, had been applied to the spiritual disease of Israel.

Isaiah 1:5-6. Why should ye be stricken any more — It is to no purpose to seek to reclaim you by one chastisement after another; ye will revolt more and more — I see you are incorrigible, and turn even your afflictions into sin. The whole head is sick, &c. — The disease is mortal, as being in the most noble and vital parts, the very head and heart of the body politic, from whence the plague is derived to all the other members. “The end of God’s judgments, in this world, is men’s reformation; and when people appear to be incorrigible, there is no reason to expect that he should try any further methods of discipline with them, but consume them all at once.” From the sole of the foot, &c. — “The whole frame of the Jewish Church and state is corrupted, and their misery is as universal as their sin which caused it.” — Lowth.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.Why ... - The prophet now, by an abrupt change in the discourse, calls their attention to the effects of their sins. Instead of saving that they had been smitten, or of saying that they had been punished for their sins, he assumes both, and asks why it should be repeated. The Vulgate reads this: 'Super quo - on what part - shall I smite you anymore?' This expresses well the sense of the Hebrew - על־מה ‛al-meh - upon what; and the meaning is, 'what part of the body can be found on which blows have not been inflicted? On every part there are traces of the stripes which have been inflicted for your sins.' The idea is taken from a body that is all covered over with weals or marks of blows, and the idea is, that the whole frame is one continued bruise, and there remains no sound part to be stricken. The particular chastisement to which the prophet refers is specified in Isaiah 1:7-9. In Isaiah 1:5-6, he refers to the calamities of the nation, under the image of a person wounded and chastised for crimes. Such a figure of speech is not uncommon in the classic writers. Thus Cicero (de fin. iv. 14) says, 'quae hie reipublicae vulnera imponebat hie sanabat.' See also Tusc. Quaes. iii. 22; Ad Quintum fratrem, ii. 25; Sallust; Cat. 10.

Should ye be stricken - Smitten, or punished. The manner in which they had been punished, he specities in Isaiah 1:7-8. Jerome says, that the sense is, 'there is no medicine which I can administer to your wounds. All your members are full of wounds; and there is no part of your body which has not been smitten before. The more you are afflicted, the more will your impiety and iniquity increase.' The word here, תכוּ tukû, from נכה nâkâh, means to smite, to beat, to strike down, to slay, or kill. It is applied to the infliction of punishment on an individual; or to the judgments of God by the plague, pestilence, or sickness. Genesis 19:2 : 'And they smote the men that were at the door with blindness.' Numbers 14:12 : 'And I will smite them with the pestilence.' Exodus 7:25 : 'After that the Lord had smitten the river,' that is, had changed it into blood; compare Isaiah 1:20; Zechariah 10:2. Here it refers to the judgments inflicted on the nation as the punishment of their crimes.

Ye will revolt - Hebrew You will add defection, or revolt. The effect of calamity, and punishment, will be only to increase rebellion. Where the heart is right with God, the tendency of affliction is to humble it, and lead it more and more to God. Where it is evil, the tendency is to make the sinner more obstinate and rebellious. This effect of punishment is seen every where. Sinners revolt more and more. They become sullen, and malignant, and fretful; they plunge into vice to seek temporary relief, and thus they become more and more alienated from God.

The whole head - The prophet proceeds to specify more definitely what he had just said respecting their being stricken. He designates each of the members of the body - thus comparing the Jewish people to the human body when under severe punishment. The word head in the Scriptures is often used to denote the princes, leaders, or chiefs of the nation. But the expression here is used as a figure taken from the human body, and refers solely to the punishment of the people, not to their sins. It means that all had been smitten - all was filled with the effects of punishment - as the human body is when the head and all the members are diseased.

Is sick - Is so smitten - so punished, that it has become sick and painful. Hebrew לחלי lâchŏlı̂y - for sickness, or pain. The preposition ל denotes a state, or condition of anything. Psalm 69:21. 'And in (ל) my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.' The expression is intensive, and denotes that the head was entirely sick.

The whole heart faint - The heart is here put for the whole region of the chest or stomach. As when the head is violently pained, there is also sickness at the heart, or in the stomach, and as these are indications of entire or total prostration of the frame so the expression here denotes the perfect desolation which had come over the nation.

Faint - Sick, feeble, without vigor, attended with nausea. Jeremiah 8:18 : 'When I would comfort myself in my sorrow, my heart is faint within me;' Lamentations 1:22. When the body is suffering; when severe punishment is inflicted, the effect is to produce landor and faintness at the seat of life. This is the idea here. Their punishment had been so severe for their sins, that the heart was languid and feeble - still keeping up the figure drawn from the human body.

5. Why—rather, as Vulgate, "On what part." Image from a body covered all over with marks of blows (Ps 38:3). There is no part in which you have not been smitten.

head … sick, &c.—not referring, as it is commonly quoted, to their sins, but to the universality of their punishment. However, sin, the moral disease of the head or intellect, and the heart, is doubtless made its own punishment (Pr 1:31; Jer 2:19; Ho 8:11). "Sick," literally, "is in a state of sickness" [Gesenius]; "has passed into sickness" [Maurer].

Why should ye be stricken any more? it is to no purpose to seek to reclaim you by one chastisement after another; and therefore I will utterly forsake and destroy you at once.

Ye will revolt more and more; I see you are incorrigible, and turn even your afflictions into sin.

The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint; your disease is mortal, as being in the most noble and vital parts, the very head and heart of the body politic, from whence the plague is derived to all the other members, as it follows. And this is to be understood either,

1. Of their sins; or rather,

2. Of their miseries. Which best suits,

1. With the foregoing words, this being added as a reason why it was in vain to strike them any more, or to expect any amendment that way, because he had stricken them already, and that very terribly, even in their head and heart, whose wounds are most dangerous, and yet they were not at all better for it.

2. With Isaiah 1:7,8, where this metaphor is so explained. Why should ye be stricken any more? .... Or "for what are ye stricken again" (a)? with afflictions and chastisements, with which God smites his people by way of correction for their sins, Isaiah 57:17 and the sense is, either that they did not consider what they were afflicted for, that it was for their sins and transgressions; they thought they came by chance, or imputed them to second causes, and so went on in sin, and added sin to sin; to which sense the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, incline: or the meaning is, that the chastisements that were laid upon them were to no purpose; had produced no good effect, were of no avail, and unprofitable to them; and which is mentioned as an aggravation of their sins, obstinacy, and impenitence; see Jeremiah 5:3.

Ye will revolt more and more, or "add defection" (b); go on in sin, and apostatize more and more, and grow more obdurate and resolute in it; unless afflictions are sanctified, men become more hardened by them:

the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint; which may be understood either of their chastisements, which were universal, and had reached all sorts and ranks of men among them, without any reformation, and therefore it was in vain to use more; or of their sins and transgressions which abounded among them, even among the principal of them; their civil rulers and governors, meant by the "head"; and the priests, who should feed the people with knowledge and understanding, designed by the "heart"; but both were corrupted, and in a bad condition.

(a) "super quo", V. L. "ad quid", Ar. (b) "addentes prevaricationem", Sept. V. L.

Why should ye be {i} stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole {k} head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

(i) What good is it to seek to mend you by punishment, seeing that the more I correct you, the more you rebel?

(k) By naming the chief parts of the body, he signifies that there was no part of the whole body of the Jews free from his rods.

5. Why] Many comm., following the Vulg., render “On what (sc. part of the body).” Their meaning is exactly expressed by the line of Ovid (cited by Gesenius), “Vix habet in vobis iam nova plaga locum.” The idea seems somewhat frigid, and hardly suits the clause immediately following. The translation “why” is thoroughly established by Hebrew usage, is supported by most ancient versions, and ought probably to be retained.

the whole head … heart] Not “every head” (in spite of the absence of the Hebr. art.). The commonwealth is conceived as a body, sorely wounded and sick unto death: afterwards its calamities are described literally (Isaiah 1:7).Verse 5. - Why should ye, etc.? Translate, Why will ye be still smitten, revolting more and more? or, Why will ye persist in re-hellion, and so be smitten yet more? The Authorized Version does not express the sense, which is that suffering must follow sin - that if they still revolt, they must still be smitten for it - why, then, will they do so? Compare Ezekiel's "Why will ye die, O house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 18:31). The whole head... the whole heart. Mr. Cheyne translates, "Every head... every heart;" but Lowth, Gesenius, and Ewald agree with the Authorized Version. The prophet personifies Israel, and means to say that the whole head of the nation is diseased, its whole heart faint, or "prostrate with languor" (Kay). The head and heart represent respectively the intellectual and moral natures. The king who seems to this point to have silently looked on in inmost sympathy, now, on being addressed by Shulamith, takes speech in hand; he does not expressly refer to her request, but one perceives from his words that he heard it with pleasure. He expresses to her the wish that she would gratify the companions of her youth who were assembled around her, as well as himself, with a song, such as in former times she was wont to sing in these mountains and valleys.

13 O thou (who art) at home in the gardens,

     Companions are listening for thy voice;

     Let me hear!

We observe that in the rural paradise with which she is surrounded, she finds herself in her element. It is a primary feature of her character which herein comes to view: her longing after quietness and peace, her love for collectedness of mind and for contemplation; her delight in thoughts of the Creator suggested by the vegetable world, and particularly by the manifold soft beauty of flowers; she is again once more in the gardens of her home, but the address, "O thou at home in the gardens!" denotes that wherever she is, these gardens are her home as a fundamental feature of her nature. The חברים are not Solomon's companions, for she has come hither with Solomon alone, leaning on his arm. Also it is indicated in the expression: "are listening for thy voice," that they are such as have not for a long time heard the dear voice which was wont to cheer their hearts. The חבר are the companions of the former shepherdess and keeper of a vineyard, Sol 1:6 f., the playmates of her youth, the friends of her home. With a fine tact the poet does not represent Solomon as saying חבריך nor חברינוּ: the former would be contrary to the closeness of his relation to Shulamith, the latter contrary to the dignity of the king. By חברים there is neither expressed a one-sided reference, nor is a double-sided excluded. That "for thy voice" refers not to her voice as speaking, but as the old good friends wish, as singing, is evident from השׁמיעני in connection with Sol 2:14, where also קולך is to be supplied, and the voice of song is meant. She complies with the request, and thus begins:

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