Isaiah 28:9
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
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(9) Whom shall he teach knowledge?—The two verses that follow reproduce the language of the drunkards as they talk scornfully of the prophet. “To whom does he come with what he calls his ‘knowledge’ and his ‘doctrine?’ (better, message, as in Isaiah 28:19). Does he think that they are boys just weaned, who are to be taught the first elements of the religion of the infant school?” Then in their mockery they describe (Isaiah 28:10) his teaching, with what was to them its wearisome iteration, “Always precept upon precept, line upon line . . .”—petty rebukes and puerile harping upon the same note, semper eandem canens cantilenam. We can scarcely doubt that Isaiah was indignantly reproducing, as St. Paul does in 2Corinthians 10:10; 2Corinthians 11:16-17; the very words, almost the drunken accents, in which the priests and false prophets had spoken of him.

Isaiah 28:9-10. Whom shall he — Namely, God, or his prophet, or minister; teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? — Who is there among this people, that are capable and willing to be taught the good knowledge of God? them that are wearied from the milk, &c. — A minister may as soon teach a young child as these men. For precept must be upon precept, &c. — They must be taught like little children, slowly, and with leisure, the same things being often repeated, because of their great dulness. Line upon line — One line of the book after another, as children are taught to read.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.whom shall he teach knowledge? - This verse commences a statement respecting another form of sin that prevailed among the people of Judah. That sin was contempt for the manner in which God instructed them by the prophets, and a disregard for his communications as if they were suited to children and not to adults. That "scoffing" was the principal sin aimed at in these verses, is apparent from Isaiah 28:14. Vitringa supposes that these words Isaiah 28:9-10 are designed to describe the manner of teaching by the priests and the prophets as being puerile and silly, and adapted to children. Michaelis supposes that the prophet means to signify that it would be a vain and fruitless labor to attempt to instruct these persons who were given to wine, because they were unaccustomed to sound and true doctrine. Others have supposed that he means that these persons who were thus given to wine and strong drink were disqualified to instruct others, since their teachings were senseless and incoherent, and resembled the talk of children. But the true sense of the passage has undoubtedly been suggested by Lowth. According to this interpretation, the prophet speaks of them as deriders of the manner in which God had spoken to them by his messengers. 'What!' say they, 'does God treat us as children? Does he deal with us as we deal with infants just weaned, perpetually repeating and inculcating the same elementary lessons, and teaching the mere rudiments of knowledge?' The expression, therefore, 'whom shall he teach knowledge?' or, 'whom does he teach?' is an expression of contempt supposed to be spoken by the intemperate priests and prophets - the leaders of the people. 'whom does God take us to be? Does he regard us as mere children? Why are we treated as children with an endless repetition of the same elementary instruction?'

To understand doctrine - Hebrew as Margin, 'Hearing,' or 'report' Isaiah 53:1. The sense is, For whom is that instruction intended? whom does he wish to be taught by it?

Them that are weaned from the milk ... - Does he regard and treat us as mere babes?

9, 10. Here the drunkards are introduced as scoffingly commenting on Isaiah's warnings: "Whom will he (does Isaiah presume to) teach knowledge? And whom will He make to understand instruction? Is it those (that is, does he take us to be) just weaned, &c.? For (he is constantly repeating, as if to little children) precept upon precept," &c.

line—a rule or law. [Maurer]. The repetition of sounds in Hebrew tzav latzav, tzav latzav, qav laqav, qav laquav, expresses the scorn of the imitators of Isaiah's speaking; he spoke stammering (Isa 28:11). God's mode of teaching offends by its simplicity the pride of sinners (2Ki 5:11, 12; 1Co 1:23). Stammerers as they were by drunkenness, and children in knowledge of God, they needed to be spoken to in the language of children, and "with stammering lips" (compare Mt 13:13). A just and merciful retribution.

Whom shall he, to wit, the teacher, which is easily understood out of the following verb; either God, or his prophets, or ministers;

teach knowledge? who is there among this people that are capable and willing to be taught the good knowledge of God? A minister may as soon teach a young child as these men. Whom shall he teach knowledge?.... Not the drunken priest or prophet, who were both unfit for teaching men knowledge; but either the true and godly priest or prophet of the Lord, or the Lord himself, before spoken of as a spirit of judgment, Isaiah 28:6 namely, by his prophets and ministers, the latter seem rather intended; whom may or can such an one teach the knowledge of God, and of themselves; the knowledge of the law, and of the Gospel; the knowledge of divine truths, of things necessary to salvation, and the conduct of human life; of Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation by him, and of him, as a foundation of the Lord's laying in Zion, hereafter mentioned in this chapter? who are capable of receiving such instructions? it intimates the stupidity and sottishness of the Jews, whose minds were so impaired by excessive drinking, that they were not able to take in the knowledge of these things:

and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? or "hearing"; the hearing of the word, or the word heard, the report of the Gospel; so the word is used in Isaiah 53:1 this will never be understood, believed, and received, unless the arm of the Lord is revealed, or his power be exerted; prophets and ministers may speak to the ears of men, but they cannot give them an understanding of divine things, God only can do that: here it designs, as before, the unteachableness of the people of the Jews, being in the circumstances they were, as appears by what follows:

them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts; signifying, that one might as well take children from the breast, such as are just weaned, and instruct them, as to pretend to teach these people the knowledge of divine things, or cause them to understand sound doctrine, that which is agreeable to law and Gospel; so sottish were they become through excessive drinking. Some understand this as a serious answer to the questions, and of persons in a metaphorical sense, who desire and thirst after the sincere milk of the word, as children just taken from the breast, and deprived of it, do; and who are afflicted and distressed, and without the milk of divine comfort, and are like weaned children, humble, meek, and lowly; see Matthew 11:25. Jarchi makes mention of such an interpretation as this, "them that are weaned from the milk"; from the law, which is called milk: "and drawn from the breasts"; drawn from the disciples of the wise men. It may be understood of such who departed from the sincere milk of the word; and embraced the traditions of the elders.

{h} Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

(h) For there was no one that was able to understand any good doctrine: but were foolish and as unfit as young babes.

9. The retort of the revellers to Isaiah’s recriminations. The meaning is: “Who are we that we should thus be lectured by this man? Are we newly-weaned infants, &c.?” (cf. R.V.). Whom will he teach knowledge? expresses the injured self-consciousness of the priests; whom will he make to understand doctrine? that of the prophets. For doctrine R.V. has the message; the word commonly means “report,” but here it denotes “that which is heard” (by prophetic audition) from the Lord, as in Isaiah 28:19; ch. Isaiah 53:1; Jeremiah 49:14; Obadiah 1:1.

9–13. The occasion of this remarkable encounter was probably a feast held to celebrate the renunciation of allegiance to Assyria. Isaiah has surprised the drunkards over their cups and administered some such rebuke as we read in Isaiah 28:7-8. (On the excesses that often accompanied sacrificial meals, see 1 Samuel 1:13 f.; Amos 2:8.)Verse 9. - Whom shall he teach? A sudden and abrupt transition. The best explanation seems to be that suggested by Jerome, and followed by Bishop Lowth and most commentators, viz. that the prophet dramatically introduces his adversaries as replying to him with taunting speeches. "Whom does he think he is teaching?" they ask. "Mere children, just weaned from their mother's milk, and taken away from the breast? Does he forget that we are grown men - nay, priests and prophets? And what poor teaching it is! What 'endless petty feazing'! (Delitzsch) - precept upon precept," etc. The intention is to throw ridicule upon the smallness and vexatious character of the prophet's interminable and uninterrupted chidings (Delitzsch). Knowledge... doctrine. Technical terms in Isaiah's teaching, which his adversaries seem to have ridiculed as "catch-words." The term translated "doctrine" means properly "tidings," and involves the idea that the prophet obtained the teaching so designated by direct revelation from God. In the next three vv. the hoi is expanded. "Behold, the Lord holds a strong and mighty thing like a hailstorm, a pestilent tempest; like a storm of mighty overflowing waters, He casts down to the earth with almighty hand. With feet they tread down the proud crown of the drunken of Ephraim. And it happens to the fading flower of its splendid ornament, which is upon the head of the luxuriant valley, as to an early fig before it is harvest, which whoever sees it looks at, and it is no sooner in his hand than he swallows it." "A strong and mighty thing:" ואמּי חזק we have rendered in the neuter (with the lxx and Targum) rather than in the masculine, as Luther does, although the strong and mighty thing which the Lord holds in readiness is no doubt the Assyrian. He is simply the medium of punishment in the hand of the Lord, which is called yâd absolutely, because it is absolute in power - as it were, the hand of all hands. This hand hurls Samaria to the ground (on the expression itself, compare Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 26:5), so that they tread the proud crown to pieces with their feet (tērâmasnâh, the more pathetic plural form, instead of the singular tērâmēs; Ges. 47, Anm. 3, and Caspari on Obadiah 1:13). The noun sa‛ar, which is used elsewhere in the sense of shuddering, signifies here, like סערה, an awful tempest; and when connected with קטב, a tempest accompanied with a pestilential blast, spreading miasma. Such destructive power is held by the absolute hand. It is soon all over then with the splendid flower that has already begun to fade נבל ציצת, like הקּטן כּלי in Isaiah 22:24). It happens to it as to a bikkūrâh (according to the Masora, written with mappik here, as distinguished from Hosea 9:10, equivalent to kebhikkūrâthâh; see Job 11:9, "like an early fig of this valley;" according to others, it is simply euphonic). The gathering of figs takes place about August. Now, if any one sees a fig as early as June, he fixes his eyes upon it, and hardly touches it with his hand before he swallows it, and that without waiting to masticate it long. Like such a dainty bit will the luxuriant Samaria vanish. The fact that Shalmanassar, or his successor Sargon, did not conquer Samaria till after the lapse of three years (2 Kings 18:10), does not detract from the truth of the prophecy; it is enough that both the thirst of the conqueror and the utter destruction of Samaria answered to it.
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