Isaiah 28:11
For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
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(11) With stammering lips and another tongue . . .—The “stammering lips” are those of the Assyrian conquerors, whose speech would seem to the men of Judah as a barbarous patois. They, with their short sharp commands, would be the next utterers of Jehovah’s will to the people who would not listen to the prophet’s teaching. The description of the “stammering tongue” re-appears in Isaiah 33:19. (Comp. Deuteronomy 28:49.) In 1Corinthians 14:21, the words are applied to the gift of “tongues,” which, in its ecstatic utterances, was unintelligible to those who heard it, and was therefore, as the speech of the barbarian conquerors was in Isaiah’s thoughts, the antithesis of true prophetic teaching.

Isaiah 28:11-12. For — Or, rather, therefore, as the particle כיis often used. For the prophet here evidently intends to express the punishment of their dulness. With stammering lips, and another tongue — By people of a strange language, whom he will bring among them, and into whose power he will deliver them; will he speak to this people — Seeing they will not hear him speaking by his prophets and ministers, in their own language, they shall hear their enemies speaking to them in a strange language. It was a great aggravation of the misery of the Jews, during their captivity, that they did not understand the language of the Chaldeans, whose captives they were. To whom he said — To which people, the Lord, by his ministers, said, This — This doctrine, or the word of the Lord, as it follows, Isaiah 28:13; is the rest — The only way, in the observance of which you will find rest. Wherewith, &c. — The word wherewith is supplied by our translators, there being nothing for it in the Hebrew, which is, cause ye the weary to rest — Namely, your weary minds and weary country. As if he had said, As rest is offered you by the prophets in God’s name, do you embrace it; which is to be done by hearkening to God’s word. So shall this people, which hath been so often, and so long, wearied and harassed by great and manifold calamities, find rest and peace. Yet they would not hear — They were wilfully ignorant, and obstinately refused the very means of instruction. 28:5-15 The prophet next turns to Judah, whom he calls the residue of his people. Happy are those alone, who glory in the Lord of hosts himself. Hence his people get wisdom and strength for every service and every conflict. But it is only in Christ Jesus that the holy God communicates with sinful man. And whether those that teach are drunk with wine, or intoxicated with false doctrines and notions concerning the kingdom and salvation of the Messiah, they not only err themselves, but lead multitudes astray. All places where such persons have taught are filled with errors. For our instruction in the things of God, it is needful that the same precept and the same line should be often repeated to us, that we may the better understand them. God, by his word, calls us to what is really for our advantage; the service of God is the only true rest for those weary of the service of sin, and there is no refreshment but under the easy yoke of the Lord Jesus. All this had little effect upon the people. Those who will not understand what is plain, but scorn and despise it as mean and trifling, are justly punished. If we are at peace with God, we have, in effect, made a covenant with death; whenever it comes, it cannot do us any real damage, if we are Christ's. But to think of making death our friend, while by sin we are making God our enemy, is absurd. And do not they make lies their refuge who trust in their own righteousness, or to a death-bed repentance? which is a resolution to sin no more, when it is no longer in their power to do so.For - This verse is to be understood as a response to what the complaining and dissatisfied people had said, as expressed in the previous verse. God says that he will teach them, but it should be by another tongue - a foreign language in a distant land. Since they refused to hearken to the messages which he sent to them, and which they regarded as adapted only to children, he would teach them in a manner that should be "much more" humiliating; he would make use of the barbarous language of foreigners to bring them to the true knowledge of God.

With stammering lips - The word which is used here is derived from a verb (לעג lâ‛âg), which means to speak unintelligibly: especially to speak in a foreign language, or to stammer; and then to mock, deride, laugh at, scorn (compare Isaiah 33:19; Proverbs 1:26; Proverbs 17:5; Psalm 2:4; Psalm 59:9; Job 22:19). Here it means in a foreign or barbarous tongue; and the sense is, that the lessons which God wished to teach would be conveyed to them through the language of foreigners - the Chaldeans. They should be removed to a distant land, and there, in hearing a strange speech, in living long among foreigners, they should learn the lesson which they refused to do when addressed by the prophets in their own land.

11. For—rather, "Truly." This is Isaiah's reply to the scoffers: Your drunken questions shall be answered by the severe lessons from God conveyed through the Assyrians and Babylonians; the dialect of these, though Semitic, like the Hebrew, was so far different as to sound to the Jews like the speech of stammerers (compare Isa 33:19; 36:11). To them who will not understand God will speak still more unintelligibly. For; or, therefore, as this particle is oft used. For this seems to be the punishment of their dulness.

With stammering lips; either,

1. In way of condescension, as mothers and nurses teach children, lisping and stammering with them. Or,

2. In way of judgment; which suits best with the next clause.

And another tongue; by people of a strange language, whom he shall bring among them, and into whose power he shall deliver them; which is a great aggravation of their misery: see Deu 28:49 Jeremiah 5:15 Ezekiel 3:5.

Will he speak to this people: seeing they will not hear him speaking by his prophets and ministers, in their own language, they shall hear their enemies speaking to them in a strange and rough language. For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. Or "hath spoken" (s); as parents and nurses, in a lisping manner, and in a language and tone different from what they use in common, speak unto their children, accommodating themselves according to their capacities and weakness; and so it is a continuation of the method to be used in instructing the Jews, as being like children: or else these words are to be considered as a reason why, since they refused instruction in this plain, easy, and gentle manner, by the ministry of the prophets of the Lord, he would speak to them in a more severe and in a rougher manner in his providences, and bring a people against them of a strange language they understood not, and so should not be able to treat and make peace with them, and who would carry them captive into a strange land; which was fulfilled by bringing the Chaldean army upon them, Jeremiah 5:15 see 1 Corinthians 14:21 and afterwards the Romans.

(s) So Gataker.

For with stammering {k} lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.

(k) Let one teach what he can, yet they will no more understand him, than if he spoke in a strange language.

11. Isaiah parries the gibe with a terrible threat. Jehovah is about to employ a more uncouth language, to which their mocking description will fully apply, viz., the harsh barbarous accents of the Assyrian invaders.

stammering lips] either “stammerings of lip” or “stammerers of lip” (cf. the Greek use of βάρβαρος). Comp. 1 Corinthians 14:21.Verses 11-13. - JUDAH'S PUNISHMENT. God will retort on the Jews their scorn of his prophet, and, as they will not be taught by his utterances, which they find to be childish and unrefined, will teach them by utterances still more unrefined - those of the Assyrians, which will be quite as monotonous and quite as full of minutiae as Isaiah's. Verse 11. - With stammering lips and with another tongue. The Assyrian language, though a Semitic idiom nearly allied to Hebrew, was sufficiently different to sound in the ears of a Jew like his own tongue mispronounced and barbarized. The threat is now followed by a promise. This is essentially the same in character as Isaiah 4:2-6. The place of the false glory thus overthrown is now filled by a glory that is divine and true. "In that day will Jehovah of hosts be the adorning crown and the splendid diadem to the remnant of His people; and the spirit of justice to them that sit on the judgment-seat, and heroic strength to them that drive back war at the gate." "The remnant of His people" (שׁאר with a fixed kametz, as in Isaiah 21:17) is not Judah, as distinguished from Ephraim that had utterly perished; but Judah and the remaining portion of Ephraim, as distinguished from the portion which had perished. After the perishable thin in which they gloried had been swept away, the eternal person of Jehovah Himself would be the ornament and pride of His people. He, the Lord of the seven spirits (Isaiah 11:1), would be to this remnant of His people the spirit of right and heroic strength. There would be an end to unjust judging and powerless submission. The judges are called "those who sit ‛al-hammishpât" in the sense of "on the seat of judgment" (Psalm 9:5; Psalm 122:5); the warriors are called "those who press back milchâmâh shâ‛râh" (war at the gate), i.e., either war that has reached their own gate (Isaiah 22:7), or war which they drive back as far as the gate of the enemy (2 Samuel 11:23; 1 Macc. 5:22). The promise in this last passage corresponds to Micah 5:4-5. The athnach in Isaiah 28:6 ought to stand at hammishpât; the second clause of the v. may be completed from the first, ולגבוּרה being equivalent to גבורה ולרוח, and משיבי to למישבי. We might regard 2 Chronicles 30 as a fulfilment of what is predicted in Isaiah 28:6, if the feast of passover there described really fell in the age succeeding the fall of Samaria; for this feast of passover did furnish a representation and awaken a consciousness of that national unity which had been interrupted from the time of Rehoboam. But if we read the account in the Chronicles with unprejudiced minds, it is impossible to shut our eyes to the fact that this feast of passover took place in the second month of the first year of Hezekiah's reign, and therefore not after the depopulation of the northern kingdom by Shalmanassar, but after the previous and partial depopulation by Tiglath-pileser. In fact, the fulfilment cannot be looked for at all in the space between the sixth and fourteenth years of Hezekiah, since the condition of Judah during that time does not answer at all to the promises given above. The prophet here foretells what might be hoped for, when Asshur had not only humbled Ephraim, but Judah also. The address consists of two connected halves, the promising beginnings of which point to one and the same future, and lay hold of one another.
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