Isaiah 27:9
By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he makes all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.
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(9) By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged.—The pronoun may refer either to the chastisement of the previous verse as the instrument of purification (preferably), or to the destruction of idols which follows as the result and proof of that purification, the end contemplated by Jehovah in His chastisements.

This is all the fruit to take away his sin.—Better, of taking away his sin. The words repeat the thought of the previous clause. The fruit of repentance and forgiveness will be found in rooting out all vestiges of idol-worship. The LXX., “when I shall take away their sins,” is quoted by St. Paul in Romans 11:27.

The groves and images.—Literally, as elsewhere, the Asherahs, or the sun-images, the two leading features of the cultus which Israel had borrowed from the Phœnicians. In the action of Josiah (2Chronicles 34:3-4) we may, with little doubt, trace a conscious endeavour to fulfil the condition which Isaiah had thus proclaimed. He sought to “purge” Judah and Jerusalem from the groves and the carved (sun) images, and molten images.”

Isaiah 27:9. By this therefore — By this manner of God’s dealing with his people; shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged — Hebrew, יכפר, expiated, or forgiven: that is, by these chastisements Jacob shall be brought to true repentance, and in consequence thereof shall be pardoned. And this is all the fruit — The effect designed to be produced, by these severe corrections; to take away his sin — Not to destroy the sinner, as others are often destroyed by the calamities brought upon them, but only to take away the guilt and power of his sins; when he, &c. — Which sin of Jacob shall be taken away, and the punishment thereof removed, when he shall give such an evidence of the reality of his repentance as to destroy all the objects, instruments, means, and signs of idolatry out of the land; when he maketh the stones of the altar — Namely, the idolatrous altar, or altars, as chalk-stones — That is, broken into small pieces, and reduced to powder and dust. Possibly he may say, the altar, with respect to that particular altar which Ahaz had set up in the place of God’s altar; and this prophecy might be delivered in Ahaz’s time, while that altar stood and was used. He seems to allude to Moses’s showing his detestation of idolatry, by taking the golden calf, burning it, and grinding it to powder: and he intimates that when their repentance should be sincere, it would discover itself in a similar way. It must be observed, that of all sins, which are of a heinous nature, the Jews, till they were carried into captivity, were most inclined to idolatry, and for that sin especially, most of God’s judgments, which they had hitherto suffered, had been inflicted upon them. But of that most unreasonable and wicked inclination they were in a great measure cured by that severe punishment, the seventy years captivity in Babylon. The groves and images shall not stand up — Shall be thrown down with contempt and indignation.27:6-13 In the days of the gospel, the latter days, the gospel church shall be more firmly fixed than the Jewish church, and shall spread further. May our souls be continually watered and kept, that we may abound in the fruits of the Spirit, in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. The Jews yet are kept a separate and a numerous people; they have not been rooted out as those who slew them. The condition of that nation, through so many ages, forms a certain proof of the Divine origin of the Scriptures; and the Jews live amongst us, a continued warning against sin. But though winds are ever so rough, ever so high, God can say to them, Peace, be still. And though God will afflict his people, yet he will make their afflictions to work for the good of their souls. According to this promise, since the captivity in Babylon, no people have shown such hatred to idols and idolatry as the Jews. And to all God's people, the design of affliction is to part between them and sin. The affliction has done us good, when we keep at a distance from the occasions of sin, and use care that we may not be tempted to it. Jerusalem had been defended by grace and the Divine protection; but when God withdrew, she was left like a wilderness. This has awfully come to pass. And this is a figure of the deplorable state of the vineyard, the church, when it brought forth wild grapes. Sinners flatter themselves they shall not be dealt with severely, because God is merciful, and is their Maker. We see how weak those pleas will be. Verses 12,13, seem to predict the restoration of the Jews after the Babylonish captivity, and their recovery from their present dispersion. This is further applicable to the preaching of the gospel, by which sinners are gathered into the grace of God; the gospel proclaims the acceptable year of the Lord. Those gathered by the sounding of the gospel trumpet, are brought in to worship God, and added to the church; and the last trumpet will gather the saints together.By this - This verse states the whole design of the punishment of the Jews. They were taken away from their temple, their city, and their land; they were removed from the groves and altars of idolatry by which they had been so often led into sin; and the design was to preserve them henceforward from relapsing into their accustomed idolatry.

The iniquity of Jacob - The sin of the Jewish people, and particularly their tendency to idolatry, which was their easily besetting sin.

Be purged - (see the note at Isaiah 1:25).

And this is all the fruit - And this is all the "object" or "design" of their captivity and removal to Babylon.

When he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalk stones - That is, Yahweh shall make the stones of the altars reared in honor of idols like chalk stones; or shall throw them down, and scatter them abroad like stones that are easily beaten to pieces. The sense is, that Yahweh, during their captivity in Babylon, would overthrow the places where they had worshipped idols.

The groves and images shall not stand up - The groves consecrated to idols, and the images erected therein (see the note at Isaiah 17:8).

9. By this—exile of Israel (the "sending away," Isa 27:8).

purged—expiated [Horsley].

all the fruit—This is the whole benefit designed to be brought about by the chastisement; namely, the removal of his (Israel's) sin (namely, object of idolatry; De 9:21; Ho 10:8).

when he—Jehovah; at the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, His instrument. The Jews ever since have abhorred idolatry (compare Isa 17:8).

not stand up—shall rise no more [Horsley].

By this, by this manner of God’s dealing with his people, therefore, that the difference between Jacob and his enemies in their several sufferings may appear,

shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, Heb. expiated or forgiven upon their true repentance, which shall be the happy effect of their chastisement.

This is all the fruit to take away his sin; the effect hereof shall not be to destroy the sinner, as it is in other men, but only to take away the guilt and power of their sins.

When he maketh; which sin of Jacob’s shall be purged and taken away, and the judgment removed, when he shall truly repent of all his sins, and especially of his idolatry, to which they were most inclined, and for which the most of God’s judgments which they had hitherto felt had been inflicted upon them.

The altar; which by a usual enallage may be put for the altars, to wit, their idolatrous altars, as is evident from the following words. Possibly he may say the altar with respect to that particular altar which Ahaz had set up in the place of God’s own altar; and this prophecy might be delivered either to the prophet, or by him to the people, in Ahaz’s time, while that altar stood and was used.

As chalk stones; when he shall break all those goodly altars in pieces, which God by his law had enjoined.

That are beaten in sunder; which kind of stones are of themselves apt to break into small pieces, and by the artificer are broken into smaller pieces for making mortar. He seems to allude to that fact of Moses, who, to show his detestation of idolatry, took the golden calf, and burnt it, and ground it to powder; and intimates, that when their repentance should be sincere, it would discover itself by their zeal in destroying the instruments of their idolatry. The groves; which were frequently erected to the honour of idols, of which we have many instances in Scripture, which God therefore commanded his people to destroy, Deu 7:5 12:3.

Shall not stand up; shall be thrown down with contempt and indignation. By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged,.... Or "expiated", or "atoned" (a); not that afflictions are atonements for sin, or give satisfaction to divine justice for it; but they are the means of bringing the Lord's people to a sense of their sins, and to repentance and humiliation for them, and confession of them, and of leading them to the blood and sacrifice of Christ, by which they are expiated and atoned, and which the Spirit of God brings near, and applies unto them; whereby their sins, they are convicted of by means of afflictions, and which lay heavy upon their consciences, are purged away, and removed from them:

and this is all the fruit, to take away sin; this is the design and use of afflictions, the profit and advantage of them to the saints, that, being humbled for their sins, they depart from them, leave and forsake them; as well as the guilt of them is taken away from their consciences, through the application of pardoning grace, upon their repentance; see Job 36:8 this shows another difference between the afflictions of God's people and of others: namely, in the use and end of them. The sin of idolatry seems to be particularly designed by what follows; unless the sin of the present Jews, in their disbelief and rejection of the Messiah, should be rather intended; which, through their long affliction, they will be convinced of in the latter day, and it will be taken away from them, and be purged and expiated through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, the Saviour and Deliverer, they will embrace, Romans 11:25,

when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder; that is, when Jacob, or the people of the Jews, being convinced of their idolatry by their afflictions, shall pull down all their idolatrous altars; perhaps particularly referring to that which Ahaz made, 2 Kings 16:10 and remove the stones thereof, and break them to pieces, as chalkstones for lime, which is easily done:

the groves and the images shall not stand up; erect, to be worshipped; but shall be thrown down, demolished, and broke to pieces; and, by thus abandoning their idols and idolatrous practices, they will show the sense they have of their sins, and the sincerity of their repentance; and it is to be observed, that the Jews, after their return from the Babylonish captivity, never practised idolatry more, not in the literal sense; perhaps some respect may be had here to the time when they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn; and when they shall renounce all their legal sacrifices, traditions of the elders, and their own righteousness, their idols, and look alone to the sacrifice of Christ, and declare against all the idolatry of the church of Rome, and all antichristian worship.

(a) "propitiabitur", Pagninus, Montanus; "expiabitur", Piscator.

By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the {i} fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten asunder, the idols and images shall not stand up.

(i) He shows that there is no true repentance nor full reconciliation to God, till the heart is purged from all idolatry and the monuments of it are destroyed.

9. The condition of restoration and forgiveness. Therefore points back to the idea of Isaiah 27:7—the moderation of Israel’s punishment,—while By this, i.e. (“on this condition”) points forward to the end of the verse, the removal of idolatrous emblems.

be purged] be expiated (R.V. marg.).

and this is all … sin] Better: and this is the whole fruit of the taking away of his sin. “Fruit” seems here to mean contemplated or expected issue,—“the aim.”

when he maketh all the stones of the altar] Rather, that he should make all altar-stones, &c.

the groves and images, &c.] or, the Asherim and sun-pillars (see on Isaiah 17:8) shall not remain standing.Verse 9. - By this; i.e. "by the punishment inflicted." God accepts punishment as an expiation of sin; and this punishment of Judah was especially intended to be expiatory, and to remove at once his guilt, and the evil temper which had led him into sin. Its fruit would be a revulsion from idolatry, which would show itself in a fierce determination to destroy all idolatrous emblems and implements, altars, groves, images, and the like. This spirit was strongly shown in the Maccabee period (see 1 Macc. 5:44, 68 1 Macc. 10:84 1 Macc. 13:47, etc.). He maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones. A calcining of the stones into lime is probably intended. It was usual to subject the idolatrous objects to the action of fire, and then to stamp them into powder (2 Kings 23:4, 6, 11, 12, 15, etc.). The groves and images (comp. 1 Kings 15:13; 1 Kings 16:33; 2 Kings 17:10; 2 Chronicles 14:3; and see the comment on Isaiah 17:8). The prophecy here passes for the fourth time into the tone of a song. The church recognises itself in the judgments upon the world, as Jehovah's well-protected and beloved vineyard.

In that day a merry vineyard - sing it!

I, Jehovah, its keeper,

Every moment I water it.

That nothing may come near it,

I watch it night and day.

Wrath have I none;

O, had I thorns, thistles before me!

I would make up to them in battle,

Burn them all together.

Men would then have to grasp at my protection,

Make peace with me,

Make peace with me.

Instead of introducing the song with, "In that day shall this song be sung," or some such introduction, the prophecy passes at once into the song. It consists in a descending scale of strophes, consisting of one of five lines (Isaiah 27:2, Isaiah 27:3), one of four lines (Isaiah 27:4), and one of three lines (Isaiah 27:5). The thema is placed at the beginning, in the absolute case: cerem chemer. This may signify a vineyard of fiery or good wine (compare cerem zaith in Judges 15:5); but it is possible that the reading should be cerem chemed, as in Isaiah 32:12, as the lxx, Targum, and most modern commentators assume. ענּה ל signifies, according to Numbers 21:17; Psalm 147:7 (cf., Exodus 32:18; Psalm 88:1), to strike up a song with reference to anything - an onomatopoetic word (different from ענה, to begin, literally to meet). Cerem (the vineyard) is a feminine here, like בּאר, the well, in the song of the well in Numbers 21:17-18, and just as Israel, of which the vineyard here is a symbol (Isaiah 3:14; Isaiah 5:1.), is sometimes regarded as masculine, and at other times as feminine (Isaiah 26:20). Jehovah Himself is introduced as speaking. He is the keeper of the vineyard, who waters it every moment when there is any necessity (lirgâ‛im, like labbekârim in Isaiah 33:2, every morning), and watches it by night as well as by day, that nothing may visit it. על פּקד (to visit upon) is used in other cases to signify the infliction of punishment; here it denotes visitation by some kind of misfortune. Because it was the church purified through afflictions, the feelings of Jehovah towards it were pure love, without any admixture of the burning of anger (chēmâh). This is reserved for all who dare to do injury to this vineyard. Jehovah challenges these, and says, Who is there, then, that gives me thorns, thistles! עיתּנני equals לי יתּן, as in Jeremiah 9:1, cf., Joshua 15:19.) The asyndeton, instead of ושׁית שׁמיר, which is customary elsewhere, corresponds to the excitement of the exalted defender. If He had thorns, thistles before Him, He would break forth upon them in war, i.e., make war upon them (bâh, neuter, upon such a mass of bush), and set it all on fire (הצית equals הצּית). The arrangement of the strophes requires that we should connect כּמּלחמה with אפשׂעה (var. אפשׂעה), though this is at variance with the accents. We may see very clearly, even by the choice of the expression bammilchâmâh, that thorns and thistles are a figurative representation of the enemies of the church (2 Samuel 23:6-7). And in this sense the song concludes in Isaiah 27:5 : only by yielding themselves to mercy will they find mercy. או with a voluntative following, "unless," as in Leviticus 26:41. "Take hold of:" hechezik b', as in 1 Kings 1:50, of Adonijah, who lays hold of the horns of the altar. "Make peace with:" ‛âsâh shâlōm l', as in Joshua 9:15. The song closes here. What the church here utters, is the consciousness of the gracious protection of its God, as confirmed in her by the most recent events.

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