Isaiah 27:2 Commentaries: In that day, "A vineyard of wine, sing of it!
Isaiah 27:2
In that day sing you to her, A vineyard of red wine.
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(2) In that day sing ye . . .—The prophet appears once again, as in Isaiah 26:1, as the hymn writer of the future day of the triumph of the redeemed. He had chanted a dirge over the vineyard that was unfruitful, and therefore given over to desolation. He now changes the wailing into a poem. The word translated “red wine” (comp. Deuteronomy 32:14) signifies “fiery,” or “foaming.” The LXX. seems to have followed a different text, giving (with the alteration of a single letter) the meaning, “a pleasant vineyard.”

Isaiah 27:2-3. In that day — When these powerful enemies shall be destroyed. Sing ye unto her — Hebrew, ענו לה, answer ye her, or say ye to her, namely, to the church of God. A vineyard of red wine — “Behold a vineyard,” or, “Thou art a vineyard of red wine,” that is, of the choicest and best wine, which in those parts was red, as appears both from the Scriptures and from heathen authors. I the Lord do keep it, &c. — I will protect my church from all her enemies, and supply her with my ordinances, word, and Spirit, with all necessary means and helps. “The import of these two verses,” says Lowth, “is, that when the enemies of God’s people are destroyed, among other songs and thanksgivings, this acknowledgment shall be made to the praise of God, and of the church which he protects, that as she is fruitful in all good works, so God continually watches over her, and defends her from danger.”27:1-5 The Lord Jesus with his strong sword, the virtue of his death, and the preaching of his gospel, does and will destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, that old serpent. The world is a fruitless, worthless wilderness; but the church is a vineyard, a place that has great care taken of it, and from which precious fruits are gathered. God will keep it in the night of affliction and persecution, and in the day of peace and prosperity, the temptations of which are not less dangerous. God also takes care of the fruitfulness of this vineyard. We need the continual waterings of Divine grace; if these be at any time withdrawn, we wither, and come to nothing. Though God sometimes contends with his people, yet he graciously waits to be reconciled unto them. It is true, when he finds briers and thorns instead of vines, and they are set in array against him, he will tread them down and burn them. Here is a summary of the doctrine of the gospel, with which the church is to be watered every moment. Ever since sin first entered, there has been, on God's part, a righteous quarrel, but, on man's part, most unrighteous. Here is a gracious invitation given. Pardoning mercy is called the power of our Lord; let us take hold on that. Christ crucified is the power of God. Let us by lively faith take hold on his strength who is a strength to the needy, believing there is no other name by which we can be saved, as a man that is sinking catches hold of a bough, or cord, or plank, that is in his reach. This is the only way, and it is a sure way, to be saved. God is willing to be reconciled to us.Sing ye unto her - That is, sing unto, or respecting the vineyard. The word rendered 'sing' (ענוּ ‛anû) signifies properly, "answer, respond to;" and then, sing a responsive song, where one portion of the choir responds to another (see Exodus 15:21). This has been well expressed here by Lowth in his translation:

'To the beloved Vineyard, sing ye a responsive song.'

It is the commencement of a song, or hymn respecting Judea, represented under the image of a vineyard, and which is probably confirmed to the close of the chapter.

A vineyard - (see the notes at Isaiah 5:1 ff) The Hebrew phrase rendered 'a vineyard of red wine' is the title to the song; or the responsive song respects the 'vineyard of red wine.'

Of red wine - (חמר chemer). Lowth proposes to read instead of this, חמד chemed, pleasantness, beauty, or beloved." He observes that many manuscripts have this meaning, and that it is followed by the Septuagint and the Chaldee. The Septuagint reads it: Ἀμπελών καλλὸς Ampelōn kallos - 'Beautiful vineyard.' This would well suit the connection, and this slight error in transcribing might have easily occurred. But the authority in the manuscripts for the change is not conclusive. The word which now occurs in the text denotes properly "wine," from חמר châmar, to "ferment." The word חמר châmar also has the signification "to be red" Psalm 75:9; Job 16:16; and according to this, our translators have rendered it 'of red wine.' Bochart (Geog. Sac. ii. 1, 29) renders it, 'A vineyard fertile in producing wine.' The correct translation would be one that would not seem very congruous in our language, 'a vineyard of wine,' or 'a wine-vineyard.'

2. In that day when leviathan shall be destroyed, the vineyard (Ps 80:8), the Church of God, purged of its blemishes, shall be lovely in God's eyes; to bring out this sense the better, Lowth, by changing a Hebrew letter, reads "pleasant," "lovely," for "red wine."

sing—a responsive song [Lowth].

unto her—rather, "concerning her" (see on [737]Isa 5:1); namely, the Jewish state [Maurer].

In that day; when this potent enemy shall be destroyed·

A vineyard of red wine: the words in the Hebrew text lie thus, A vineyard (Behold, a vineyard; or, Jacob or Israel, my church and people, which is sufficiently understood from the next verse, and is expressed Isaiah 27:6, shall be a vineyard, shall be defended and dressed, shall thrive and flourish like a vineyard) of red wine, (i.e. of the choicest and best wine, which in those parts was red, as appears both from Scripture, as Proverbs 23:31, whence it is called the blood of the grape, Genesis 49:11 Deu 32:14, and from other authors,)

sing ye (O you faithful souls, sing with joy and thanksgiving to God) to (or of, or concerning, as this prefix is elsewhere used) her, or it, to wit, the vineyard, or church, (which is frequently compared to a vineyard, as Psalm 80:8 Isaiah 5:7, and elsewhere,) now delivered from her great enemy, and blessed with peace and prosperity. In that day sing ye unto her,.... The congregation of Israel, as the Targum; or rather the church of Christ; for after, and upon the destruction of his and her enemies, there will be great rejoicing and singing alternately, and by responses, as the word signifies; see Revelation 15:1. Gussetius (l) renders it, "afflict her"; as if spoken by the Lord to the enemies to do their worst to her, and he would take care of her, that it shall be in vain, and to no purpose, since he would keep her:

A vineyard of red wine; as the people of the Jews are compared to one, Isaiah 5:1 so is the church of Christ under the Gospel dispensation; see Sol 8:11 a vineyard is a spot of ground separated from others, and the church and people of God are separated from the rest of the world by electing, redeeming, and calling grace; a vineyard is a place set with various vines, so is the church; there is Christ the true vine, the principal one, which stands in the first place, John 15:1 and there are particular congregated churches, which belong to the vineyard, the general or catholic church, Sol 2:13 and there are particular believers that may be so called, Sol 6:11 moreover, sometimes in vineyards other trees are planted besides vines, as barren fig trees, Luke 13:6 and so there are in the visible church of God nominal believers, carnal professors, trees without fruit; there are no true vines but such as are ingrafted and planted in Christ, and who, through union to him, and abiding in him, bring forth fruit; a vineyard is the property of some one person, as this is of Christ, whose it is by his own choice, by his Father's gift, by inheritance, by purchase, as well as it is of his planting, and under his care; vineyards are valuable, pleasant, and profitable, but exposed to beasts of prey, and therefore to be fenced and guarded; all which may be applied to the church of Christ, which shall, in the latter day especially, be very fruitful, and answer to this character given her in this song, a vineyard "of red wine"; the allusion is to such a vineyard, in which vines grow, that bring forth grapes, productive of the best wine, as the red was reckoned in the eastern countries; see Genesis 49:12 and so Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it; this is a vineyard very different from that in Isaiah 5:5 and from the vine of Israel, Hosea 10:1 the fruit of it, signified by "red wine", may intend the graces of the Spirit, which like grapes, the fruit of the vine, grow in clusters; where one is, all of them are, and come from Christ, the vine, from whom all the fruit of divine grace is found: and which receive their tincture from the blood of Christ, their vigour and their usefulness; and may be said, like wine, to cheer the heart of God and man, Judges 9:13 grace when in exercise is delightful to God and Christ, Sol 4:9 and gives pleasure to other saints, Psalm 34:1 and as the fruit of the vine must be squeezed ere the liquor can be had, so the graces of the Spirit are tried by afflictive dispensations of Providence, by which the preciousness and usefulness of them are made known; moreover, the fruits of righteousness, or good works, may be also intended, by which the graces of faith and repentance are evidenced, and which, when performed aright, are acceptable to God through Christ, and profitable to men; and for these fruits of grace and good works the church will be famous in the latter day.

(l) Comment. Ebr. p. 622.

In that day sing ye to her, A vineyard {c} of red wine.

(c) Meaning, of the best wine, which this vineyard, that is, the Church would bring forth, as most agreeable to the Lord.

2. The verse probably runs thus: In that day—“Pleasant vineyard! Sing ye of it.” The introductory formula (cf. ch. Isaiah 25:9, Isaiah 26:1) is here curtailed to the bare note of time, “In that day”; the song itself begins with the words “Pleasant vineyard.” This is preferable to making the last expression a part of the introduction. The construction of the A.V. is opposed to the order of words in the original.

A vineyard of red wine] The reading here (kerem ḥemer) is that of the majority of MSS. But a few MSS. (and indeed the common printed editions), as well as the LXX. and Targ., have kerem ḥemed (“pleasant vineyard”), and this as yielding the best sense is generally adopted by commentators. For the phrase see Amos 5:11.

2–6. The song of the vineyard,—the counterpart of ch. Isaiah 5:1 ff. This peculiar and perplexing passage has little relation to the context. It seems to fall into two stanzas; the first (Isaiah 27:2-4 a) expresses Jehovah’s satisfaction in his vineyard (the Theocratic nation), the second (Isaiah 27:4 b–5, which however is obscure) states what He would do if it should again be injured by wicked men. Isaiah 27:6 forms an appendix.Verses 2-6. - GOD'S CARE FOR HIS VINEYARD. This piece may be called a companion picture to Isaiah 5:1-7, or a joy-song to be set over against that dirge. In both the figure of the vineyard is employed to express the people of God, and God is "the Lord of the vineyard." But whereas, on the former occasion, all was wrath and fury, menace and judgment, here all is mercy and loving-kindness, protection and promise. The difference is, no doubt, not with God, "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17), but with the vineyard, which is either not the same, or, if the same, then differently circumstanced. The vineyard of Isaiah 5. is beyond all doubt the Jewish Church in the time of Isaiah, or in the times shortly after. The vineyard of the present place is either the Christian Church, or the Jewish Church reformed and purified by suffering. It is not the Church triumphant in heaven, since there are still "briars and thorns" in it, and there are still those belonging to it who have to "make their peace with God." The prophet has come back from his investigations of the remote future and the supra-mundane sphere to something which belongs to earth, and perhaps not to a very distant period. His second "song of the vineyard" may well comfort the Church through all her earthly struggles. Verse 2. - Sing ye unto her. Our translators have, strangely enough, inverted the order of the two clauses, which stand thus in the Hebrew: "A vineyard of red wine; sing ye unto it, "or "sing ye of it." The "vineyard of red wine" is one that produces abundance of rich fruit. The tephillâh now returns to the retrospective glance already cast in Isaiah 26:8, Isaiah 26:9 into that night of affliction, which preceded the redemption that had come. "Jehovah, in trouble they missed Thee, poured out light supplication when Thy chastisement came upon them. As a woman with child, who draws near to her delivery, writhes and cries out in her pangs, so were we in Thy sight, O Jehovah. We went with child, we writhed; it was as if we brought forth wind. We brought no deliverance to the land, and the inhabitants of the world did not come to the light." The substantive circumstantial clause in the parallel line, למו מוּסר, castigatione tua eos affilgente (ל as in Isaiah 26:9), corresponds to בּצּר; and לחשׁ צקוּן, a preterite עצוּק etire equals יצק, Job 28:2; Job 29:6, to be poured out and melt away) with Nun paragogic (which is only met with again in Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 8:16, the yekōshūn in Isaiah 29:21 being, according to the syntax, the future of kōsh), answers to pâkad, which is used here as in Isaiah 34:16; 1 Samuel 20:6; 1 Samuel 25:15, in the sense of lustrando desiderare. Lachash is a quiet, whispering prayer (like the whispering of forms of incantation in Isaiah 3:3); sorrow renders speechless in the long run; and a consciousness of sin crushes so completely, that a man does not dare to address God aloud (Isaiah 29:4). Pregnancy and pangs are symbols of a state of expectation strained to the utmost, the object of which appears all the closer the more the pains increase. Often, says the perfected church, as it looks back upon its past history, often did we regard the coming of salvation as certain; but again and again were our hopes deceived. The first כּמו is equivalent to כּ, "as a woman with child," etc. (see at Isaiah 8:22); the second is equivalent to כּאשׁר, "as it were, we brought forth wind." This is not an inverted expression, signifying we brought forth as it were wind; but כמו governs the whole sentence in the sense of "(it was) as if." The issue of all their painful toil was like the result of a false pregnancy (empneumatosis), a delivery of wind. This state of things also proceeded from Jehovah, as the expression "before Thee" implies. It was a consequence of the sins of Israel, and of a continued want of true susceptibility to the blessings of salvation. Side by side with their disappointed hope, Isaiah 26:18 places the ineffectual character of their won efforts. Israel's own doings - no, they could never make the land into ישׁוּעת (i.e., bring it into a state of complete salvation); and (so might the final clause be understood) they waited in vain for the judgment of Jehovah upon the sinful world that was at enmity against them, or they made ineffectual efforts to overcome it. This explanation is favoured by the fact, that throughout the whole of this cycle of prophecies yōshbē tēbēl does not mean the inhabitants of the holy land, but of the globe at large in the sense of "the world" (Isaiah 26:21; Isaiah 24:5-6). Again, the relation of יפּלוּ to the תּפּיל in Isaiah 26:19, land the figure previously employed of the pains of child-birth, speak most strongly in favour of the conclusion, that nâphal is here used for the falling of the fruit of the womb (cf., Wis. 7:3, Il. xix. 110, καταπεσεῖν and πεσεῖν). And yōshbē tēbēl (the inhabitants of the world) fits in with this sense (viz., that the expected increase of the population never came), from the fact that in this instance the reference is not to the inhabitants of the earth; but the words signify inhabitants generally, or, as we should say, young, new-born "mortals." The punishment of the land under the weight of the empire still continued, and a new generation did not come to the light of day to populate the desolate land (cf., Psychol. p. 414).
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