Isaiah 28:14
Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Ye scornful men, that rule this people . . .—The last words emphasise the fact that the men who derided the prophet in their worldly wisdom were found among Hezekiah’s chief princes and counsellors, the partizans now of an Assyrian, now of an Egyptian alliance—anything rather than the policy of righteousness and repentance.

Isaiah 28:14-15. Wherefore hear, ye scornful men — Who make a mock at sin, and at God’s word and threatenings, and who doubt not that by your crafty counsels, and human efforts, you shall escape God’s judgments; who have said — In your hearts; we have made a covenant with death, &c. — We are as safe from death and hell, or the grave, (as the word שׁאולhere means,) as if they had entered into covenant with us, that they would not invade us. “To be in covenant with any thing, is a kind of proverbial expression to denote perfect security from evil, and mischief from it:” see Job 5:23; Hosea 2:18. When the overflowing scourge — The calamity which the prophets speak of as coming; shall pass through — Namely, the land: if it should pass through, which, however, we do not believe it will; it shall not come unto us — We shall escape. For we have made lies our refuge, &c. — These words the prophet puts into their mouths, as declarative of the real nature of their false confidence and vain hopes of safety: as if he had said, You are confident the calamity shall not come to you, because you have taken sanctuary in a refuge of lies! You depend on your vain idols, or on your riches, or strength, or crafty devices, which will all fail you. Or, you hope to secure yourselves by your arts of cunning and falsehood, but you will find yourselves disappointed.

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.Wherefore ... - This verse commences a direct address to the scoffing and scornful nation, which is continued to the close of Isaiah 28:22. It is addressed particularly to the rulers in Jerusalem, as being the leaders in crime, and as being eminently deserving of the wrath of God.

Ye scornful men - Ye who despise and reproach God and his message; who fancy yourselves to be secure, and mock at the threatened judgments of the Almighty.

14. scornful—(See on [738]Isa 28:9). Ye scornful men; which make a mock at sin, and at God’s words and threatenings; and doubt not by your witty devices, and by your wicked practices, to escape God’s judgments, of which we read in the next verse.

Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men,.... Men of scorn and mockery, that scoffed and mocked at the word of God, as in the preceding verse Isaiah 28:13; or at the threatenings of punishment; and even made a jest of death and hell, as in the following words: "the word of the Lord" they are called upon to hear, hearken, and attend to, is either the word of promise of the Messiah, Isaiah 28:16 or rather the word threatening them with ruin, Isaiah 28:18 or it may be both:

that rule this people which is in Jerusalem; which must not be understood of the chief ruler Hezekiah, but rather of some subordinate rulers, such as Shebna and others; these set a very bad example to the common people: no wonder that irreligion and profaneness prevail, when civil magistrates are scoffers at religion. It agrees best with the rulers of the Jewish people in the times of Christ, who mocked at him and his ministry, and that of his apostles.

Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. ye scornful men] Better: scoffing men. The “scoffer” (lêç, a word almost confined to Pss. and Prov.) represents the last degree of ungodliness,—open contempt of religion. The phrase here is applied to worldly politicians, who form their plans in defiance of Jehovah’s revealed will (cf. Isaiah 28:22; ch. Isaiah 29:20).

that rule this people] The prophet’s antagonists are the party which has gained the upper hand in the councils of state; the king himself is tacitly acquitted of responsibility.

15 is the protasis to Isaiah 28:16 f.

Because ye have said] Isaiah no doubt clothes the thoughts of the conspirators in his own language; but the vagueness of the allusions corresponds to the air of mystery which shrouded their designs. The utmost secrecy was observed with regard to the negotiations with Egypt (ch. Isaiah 29:15, Isaiah 30:1), and it is doubtful if at this time Isaiah knew exactly what project was on foot.

with hell are we at agreement] Lit. with Sheôl we have made a vision. The simplest explanation of this and the preceding expression is that the political plot had been ratified by a compact with the dreaded powers of the underworld. That those who had renounced the guidance of Jehovah should have recourse to necromancy and other superstitions was natural (ch. Isaiah 8:19). At the same time the phrases may be proverbial, or they may merely express Isaiah’s abhorrence of the dark immorality which marked the proceedings. In any case the feeling attributed to the schemers is one of absolute security against the worst that fate could bring.

the overflowing scourge]—a mixture of metaphors, which is still further increased in Isaiah 28:18.

we have made lies our refuge] The reference might be to conscious political treachery (towards Assyria), but more probably it is to false grounds of confidence, such as false oracles (Ezekiel 13:6-8; Micah 2:11), Isaiah putting his own language into their mouth.

14–22. There is again a literary connexion with what precedes; although the passage is probably a summary of an independent discourse. The prophet’s aim is to impress on his opponents the disastrous consequences of persisting in their scoffing attitude towards himself and his message.

Verses 14-22. - THE REBUKE OF JUDAH'S NOBLES. The power of the nobles under the later Jewish monarchy is very apparent throughout Isaiah's prophecy. It is they, and not the king, who are always blamed for bad government (Isaiah 1:10-23; Isaiah 3:12-15, etc.) or errors of policy (Isaiah 9:15, 16; Isaiah 22:15-19, etc.). Isaiah now turns from a denunciation of the priests and prophets, who especially opposed his teaching, to a threatening of the great men who guided the course of public affairs. He taxes them with being "men of scorn" (ver. 14), i.e. scorners of Jehovah, and with" a proud and insolent self-confidence" (Delitzsch). They have made, or are about to make, secret arrangements which will, they believe, secure Judaea against suffering injury at the hands of the Assyrians, and are quite satisfied with what they have done, and fear no evil. Isaiah is instructed that their boasted arrangements will entirely fail in the time of trial - their "refuge" (Egypt) will be found a refuge of lies (ver. 17), and the "overflowing scourge" (Assyria) will pass through the land, and carry all before it (ver. 18). There will then ensue a time of "vexation" and discomfort (vers. 19, 20) - God's anger will be poured out upon the land in strange ways (ver. 21). He therefore warns the rulers to lay aside their scorn of God, and humble themselves, lest a worse thing happen to them (ver. 22). Verse 14. - Ye scornful men; literally, ye men of scorn. The word used is rare, but will be found in the same sense in Proverbs 1:22 and Proverbs 29:8. A cognate participle occurs in Hosea 7:5. That rule this people. (On the authority of the nobles at this period, see the introductory paragraph.) Isaiah 28:14The prophet now directly attacks the great men of Jerusalem, and holds up a Messianic prophecy before their eyes, which turns its dark side to them, as chapter 7 did to Ahaz. "Therefore hear the word of Jehovah, ye scornful lords, rulers of this people which is in Jerusalem! For ye say, We have made a covenant with death, and with Hades have we come to an agreement. The swelling scourge, when it cometh hither, will do us no harm; for we have made a lie our shelter, and in deceit have we hidden ourselves. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am He who hath laid in Zion a stone, a stone of trial, a precious corner-stone of well-founded founding; whoever believes will not have to move. And I make justice the line, and righteousness the level; and hail sweeps away the refuge of lies, and the hiding-place is washed away by waters." With lâkhēn (therefore) the announcement of punishment is once more suspended; and in Isaiah 28:16 it is resumed again, the exposition of the sin being inserted between, before the punishment is declared. Their sin is lâtsōn, and this free-thinking scorn rests upon a proud and insolent self-confidence, which imagines that there is no necessity to fear death and hell; and this self-confidence has for its secret reserve the alliance to be secretly entered into with Egypt against Assyria. What the prophet makes them say here, they do not indeed say exactly in this form; but this is the essential substance of the carnally devised thoughts and words of the rulers of the people of Jerusalem, as manifest to the Searcher of hearts. Jerusalem, the city of Jehovah, and such princes as these, who either proudly ignore Jehovah, or throw Him off as useless, what a contrast! Chōzeh, and châzūth in Isaiah 28:18, signify an agreement, either as a decision or completion (from the radical meaning of the verb châzâh), or as a choice, beneplacitum (like the Arabic ray), or as a record, i.e., the means of selecting (like the talmudic châzı̄th, a countersign, a ra'ăyâh, a proof or argument: Luzzatto). In shōt shōtēph ("the swelling scourge," chethib שׁיט), the comparison of Asshur to a flood (Isaiah 28:2, Isaiah 28:8, Isaiah 28:7), and the comparison of it to a whip or scourge, are mixed together; and this is all the more allowable, because a whip, when smacked, really does move in waving lines (compare Jeremiah 8:6, where shâtaph is applied to the galloping of a war-horse). The chethib עבר in Isaiah 28:15 (for which the keri reads יעבר, according to Isaiah 28:19) is to be read עבר (granting that it shall have passed, or that it passes); and there is no necessity for any emendation. The Egyptian alliance for which they are suing, when designated according to its true ethical nature, is sheqer (lie) and kâzâb (falsehood); compare 2 Kings 17:4 (where we ought perhaps to read sheqer for qesher, according to the lxx), and more especially Ezekiel 17:15., from which it is obvious that the true prophets regarded self-willed rebellion even against heathen rule as a reprehensible breach of faith.

The lâkhēn (therefore), which is resumed in Isaiah 28:16, is apparently followed as strangely as in Isaiah 7:14, by a promise instead of a threat. But this is only apparently the case. It is unquestionably a promise; but as the last clause, "he that believeth will not flee," i.e., will stand firm, clearly indicates, it is a promise for believers alone. For those to whom the prophet is speaking here the promise is a threat, a savour of death unto death. Just as on a former occasion, when Ahaz refused to ask for a sign, the prophet announced to him a sign of Jehovah's own selection; so here Jehovah opposes to the false ground of confidence on which the leaders relied, the foundation stone laid in Zion, which would bear the believing in immoveable safety, but on which the unbelieving would be broken to pieces (Matthew 21:44). This stone is called 'ebhen boochan, a stone of proving, i.e., a proved and self-proving stone. Then follow other epithets in a series commencing anew with pinnath equals 'ebhen pinnath (compare Psalm 118:22): angulus h. e. lapis angularis pretiositatis fundationis fundatae. It is a corner-stone, valuable in itself (on yiqrath, compare 1 Kings 5:17), and affording the strongest foundation and inviolable security to all that is built upon it (mūsâd a substantive in form like mūsâr, and mūssâd a hophal participle in the form of those of the verba contracta pe yod). This stone was not the Davidic sovereignty, but the true seed of David which appeared in Jesus (Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6-7). The figure of a stone is not opposed to the personal reference, since the prophet in Isaiah 8:14 speaks even of Jehovah Himself under the figure of a stone. The majestically unique description renders it quite impossible that Hezekiah can be intended. Micah, whose book forms the side piece of this cycle of prophecy, also predicted, under similar historical circumstances, the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:1). What Micah expresses in the words, "His goings forth are from of old," is indicated here in the preterite yissad connected with hineni (the construction is similar to that in Obadiah 1:2; Ezekiel 25:7; compare Isaiah 28:2 above, and Jeremiah 49:15; Jeremiah 23:19). It denotes that which has been determined by Jehovah, and therefore is as good as accomplished. What is historically realized has had an eternal existence, and indeed an ideal pre-existence even in the heart of history itself (Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 25:1; Isaiah 37:26). Ever since there had been a Davidic government at all, this stone had lain in Zion. The Davidic monarchy not only had in this its culminating point, but the ground of its continuance also. It was not only the Omega, but also the Alpha. Whatever escaped from wrath, even under the Old Testament, stood upon this stone. This (as the prophet predicts in יסהישׁ לא המּאמין יחישׁ׃ the fut. kal) would be the stronghold of faith in the midst of the approaching Assyrian calamities (cf., Isaiah 7:9); and faith would be the condition of life (Habakkuk 2:4). But against unbelievers Jehovah would proceed according to His punitive justice. He would make this (justice and righteousness, mishpât and tsedâqâh) a norm, i.e., a line and level. A different turn, however, is given to qâv, with a play upon Isaiah 28:10, Isaiah 28:11. What Jehovah is about to do is depicted as a building which He is carrying out, and which He will carry out, so far as the despisers are concerned, on no other plan than that of strict retribution. His punitive justice comes like a hailstorm and like a flood (cf., Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 10:22). The hail smites the refuge of lies of the great men of Jerusalem, and clears it away (יעה, hence יע, a shovel); and the flood buries their hiding-place in the waters, and carries it away (the accentuation should be סתר tifchah, מים mercha).

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