Isaiah 1:6
From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
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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.From the sole of the foot ... - Or is we say, 'from head to foot,' that is, in every part of the body. There may be included also the idea that this extended from the lowest to the highest among the people. The Chaldee paraphrase is, 'from the lowest of the people even to the princes - all are contumacious and rebellious.'

No soundness - מתם methôm, from תמם tâmam, to be perfect, sound, uninjured. There is no part unaffected; no part that is sound. It is all smitten and sore.

But wounds - The precise shade of difference between this and the two following words may not be apparent. Together, they mean Such wounds and contusions as are inflicted upon man by scourging, or beating him. This mode of punishment was common among the Jews; as it is at the East at this time. Abarbanel and Kimchi say that the word rendered here "wounds" (פצע petsa‛, a verbal from פצע pâtsa‛ to wound, to mutilate), means an open wound, or a cut from which blood flows.

Bruises - חבורה chabbûrâh. This word means a contusion, or the effect of a blow where the skin is not broken; such a contusion as to produce a swelling, and livid appearance; or to make it, as we say, black and blue.

Putrifying sores - The Hebrew rather means recent, or fresh wounds; or rather, perhaps, a running wound, which continues fresh and open; which cannot be cicatrized, or dried up. The Septuagint renders it elegantly πληγή φλγμαίνουσα plēgē flegmainous, a swelling, or tumefying wound. The expression is applied usually to inflammations, as of boils, or to the swelling of the tonsils, etc.

They have not been closed - That is, the lips had not been pressed together, to remove the blood from the wound. The meaning is, that nothing had been done toward healing the wound. It was an unhealed, undressed, all-pervading sore. The art of medicine, in the East, consists chiefly in external applications; accordingly the prophet's images in this place are all taken from surgery. Sir John Chardin, in his note on Proverbs 3:8, 'It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones,' observes, that the comparison is taken from the plasters, ointments, oils, and frictions, which are made use of in the East in most maladies. 'In Judea,' says Tavernier, 'they have a certain preparation of oil, and melted grease, which they commonly use for the healing of wounds.' Lowth. Compare the note at Isaiah 38:21.

Neither mollified with ointment - Neither made soft, or tender, with ointment. Great use was made, in Eastern nations, of oil, and various kinds of unguents, in medicine. Hence, the good Samaritan is represented as pouring in oil and wine into the wounds of the man that fell among thieves Luke 10:34; and the apostles were directed to anoint with oil those who were sick; James 5:14; compare Revelation 3:18.

Ointment - Hebrew oil. שׁמן shemen. The oil of olives was used commonly for this purpose. The whole figure in these two verses relates to their being punished for their sins. It is taken from the appearance of a man who is severely, beaten, or scourged for crime; whose wounds had not been dressed, and who was thus a continued bruise, or sore, from his head to his feet. The cause of this the prophet states afterward, Isaiah 1:10 ff. With great skill he first reminds them of what they saw and knew, that they were severely punished; and then states to them the cause of it. Of the calamities to which the prophet refers, they could have no doubt. They were every where visible in all their cities and towns. On these far-spreading desolations, he fixes the eye distinctly first. Had he begun with the statement of their depravity, they would probably have revolted at it. But being presented with a statement of their sufferings, which they all saw and felt, they were prepared for the statement of the cause. To find access to the consciences of sinners, and to convince them of their guilt, it is often necessary to remind them first of the calamities in which they are actually involved; and then to search for the cause. This passage, therefore, has no reference to their moral character. It relates solely to their punishment. It is often indeed adduced to prove the doctrine of depravity; but it has no direct reference to it, and it should not be adduced to prove that people are depraved, or applied as referring to the moral condition of man. The account of their moral character, as the cause of their calamities, is given in Isaiah 1:10-14. That statement will fully account for the many woes which had come on the nation.

6. From the lowest to the highest of the people; "the ancient and honorable, the head, the prophet that teacheth lies, the tail." See Isa 9:13-16. He first states their wretched condition, obvious to all (Isa 1:6-9); and then, not previously, their irreligious state, the cause of it.

wounds—judicially inflicted (Ho 5:13).

mollified with ointment—The art of medicine in the East consists chiefly in external applications (Lu 10:34; Jas 5:14).

From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; you have been all of you punished, from the highest to the lowest, from the worst to the best.

They have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment; I have suffered you to lie under your maladies for a time, without applying any remedies, to try whether the length and continuance of your affliction might not work that cure which the strength of it could not do, but all in vain. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it,.... Every member of the body politic was afflicted in one way or another, or sadly infected with the disease of sin; see Psalm 28:3. So the Targum,

"from the rest of the people, even unto the princes, there is none among them who is perfect in my fear;''

see Daniel 9:8.

but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores; to which either public calamities on a city or nation may be compared, Hosea 5:13 or the sins and transgressions both of single persons, and of whole bodies of men, Psalm 38:5. The Targum is,

"they are all stubborn and rebellious, they are defiled with sins as an ulcerous plaster.''

They have not been closed; that is, the wounds and sores have not been healed; or "they have not been pressed" or "squeezed" (c), in order to get the purulent matter out of them:

neither bound up; with bands, after the matter is squeezed out, and a plaster laid on:

neither mollified with ointment; which is used for the supplying and healing of wounds; see Luke 10:34. The sense either is, that they were not reformed by their afflictions; or that they did not repent of their sins, nor seek to God for healing and pardon, nor make use of any means for their more healthful state and condition. The Targum paraphrases the words thus,

"they do not leave their haughtinesses, nor are they desirous of repentance, nor have they any righteousness to protect them.''

(c) "non expessa fuere a" "exprimere humorem, hoc significari clarum est ex" Jud. vi. 38. Gusset. Comment. Ling. Ebr. p. 227. So Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius.

From the {l} sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, {m} neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

(l) Every part of the body, the least as well as the chiefest was plagued.

(m) Their plagues were so grievous that they were incurable, and yet they would not repent.

6. The state of the nation is indeed desperate; no remedial measures have yet been applied. In the simple surgery of Isaiah’s time a wound was first pressed (to extrude suppurating matter), then bandaged and softened with oil (cf. Luke 10:34).Verse 6. - From the sole of the foot even unto the head (comp. Job 2:7). From top to bottom, the body corporate is diseased throughout - there is no soundness in it (cf. Psalm 38:3, 7) - all is one wound, one livid bruise, one festering sore. Note the use of the singular number in the original. They have not been closed; literally, they have not been pressed; which is explained to mean (Aben Ezra, Kay) that they have not had the matter formed by suppuration pressed out of them. Neither bound up; i.e. not bandaged, Neither mollified with ointment; rather, with oil. On the treatment of wounds and ulcers with oil m ancient times, see 'Hippocrat., De Ulceri. bus,' § 4; Galen., 'De Compos. Medic.,' § 2; and comp. Luke 10:34. Recent medical science has revived the practice, and wounds of all kinds are now frequently treated with nothing but carbolic oil. The general sentiment of the entire passage is that there has been no medical treatment of the wounds of any kind; they have been left to themselves, to spread corruption over the whole body - no attempt has been made to cure them. 14 Flee, my beloved,

     And be thou like a gazelle,

     Or a young one of the harts,

     Upon spicy mountains.

Hitzig supposes that with these words of refusal she bids him away from her, without, however, as "my beloved" shows, meaning them in a bad sense. They would thus, as Renan says, be bantering coquetry. If it is Solomon who makes the request, and thus also he who is addressed here, not the imaginary shepherd violently introduced into this closing scene in spite of the words "(the thousand) is thine, Solomon" (Sol 8:12), then Shulamith's ignoring of his request is scornful, for it would be as unseemly if she sang of her own accord to please her friends, as it would be wilful if she kept silent when requested by her royal husband. So far the Spanish author, Soto Major, is right (1599): jussa et rogata id non debuit nec potuit recusare. Thus with "flee" she begins a song which she sings, as at Sol 2:15 she commences one, in response to a similar request, with "catch us." Hoelem. finds in her present happiness, which fills her more than ever, the thought here expressed that her beloved, if he again went from her for a moment, would yet very speedily return to his longing, waiting bride.

(Note: Similarly Godet: The earth during the present time belongs to the earthly power; only at the end shall the bridegroom fetch the bride, and appear as the heavenly Solomon to thrust out the false and fleshly, and to celebrate the heavenly marriage festival.)

But apart from the circumstance that Shulamith is no longer a bride, but is married, and that the wedding festival is long past, there is not a syllable of that thought in the text; the words must at least have been אלי בּרח, if ברח signified generally to hasten hither, and not to hasten forth. Thus, at least as little as סב, Sol 2:17, without אלי, signifies "turn thyself hither," can this בּרח mean "flee hither." The words of the song thus invite Solomon to disport himself, i.e., give way to frolicsome and aimless mirth on these spicy mountains. As sov lecha is enlarged to sov demeh-lecha, Sol 2:17, for the sake of the added figures (vid., under Sol 2:9), so here berahh-lecha (Genesis 27:43) is enlarged to berahh udemeh (udǎmeh) lecha. That "mountains of spices" occurs here instead of "cleft mountains," Sol 2:17, has its reason, as has already been there remarked, and as Hitzig, Hoelem., and others have discovered, in the aim of the poet to conclude the pleasant song of love that has reached perfection and refinement with an absolutely pleasant word.

But with what intention does he call on Shulamith to sing to her beloved this בּרח, which obviously has here not the meaning of escaping away (according to the fundamental meaning, transversum currere), but only, as where it is used of fleeting time, Job 9:25; Job 14:2, the sense of hastening? One might suppose that she whom he has addressed as at home in gardens replied to his request with the invitation to hasten forth among the mountains, - an exercise which gives pleasure to a man. But (1) Solomon, according to Sol 2:16; Sol 6:2 f., is also fond of gardens and flowers; and (2) if he took pleasure in ascending mountains, it doubled his joy, according to Sol 4:8, to share this joy with Shulamith; and (3) we ask, would this closing scene, and along with it the entire series of dramatic pictures, find a satisfactory conclusion, if either Solomon remained and gave no response to Shulamith's call, or if he, as directed, disappeared alone, and left Shulamith by herself among the men who surrounded her? Neither of these two things can have been intended by the poet, who shows himself elsewhere a master in the art of composition. In Sol 2:17 the matter lies otherwise. There the love-relation is as yet in progress, and the abandonment of love to uninterrupted fellowship places a limit to itself. Now, however, Shulamith is married, and the summons is unlimited. It reconciles itself neither with the strength of her love nor with the tenderness of the relation, that she should with so cheerful a spirit give occasion to her husband to leave her alone for an indefinite time. We will thus have to suppose that, when Shulamith sings the song, "Flee, my beloved," she goes forth leaning on Solomon's arm out into the country, or that she presumes that he will not make this flight into the mountains of her native home without her. With this song breaking forth in the joy of love and of life, the poet represents the loving couple as disappearing over the flowery hills, and at the same time the sweet charm of the Song of Songs, leaping gazelle-like from one fragrant scene to another, vanishes away.

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