Isaiah 29:10
For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.
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(10) The Lord hath poured out upon you . . .—The prophet sees in the stupor and panic of the chief of the people what we call a judicial blindness, the retribution of those who had wilfully closed their eyes against the light. (Comp. Romans 11:8.)

Your rulers.—Literally, your heads, the word being in apposition with the seers. The word is emphasised with a keen irony, precisely because they did not see. They were as those who sleep, and are “covered,” their mantle wrapped round their head, as when men settle themselves to sleep.

29:9-16 The security of sinners in sinful ways, is cause for lamentation and wonder. The learned men, through prejudice, said that the Divine prophecies were obscure; and the poor urged their want of learning. The Bible is a sealed book to every man, learned or unlearned, till he begins to study it with a simple heart and a teachable spirit, that he may thence learn the truth and the will of God. To worship God, is to approach him. And if the heart be full of his love and fear, out of the abundance of it the mouth will speak; but there are many whose religion is lip-labour only. When they pretend to be speaking to God, they are thinking of a thousand foolish things. They worship the God of Israel according to their own devices. Numbers are only formal in worship. And their religion is only to comply with custom, and to serve their own interest. But the wanderings of mind, and defects in devotion, which are the believer's burden, are very different from the withdrawing of the heart from God, so severely blamed. And those who make religion no more than a pretence, to serve a turn, deceive themselves. And as those that quarrel with God, so those that think to conceal themselves from him, in effect charge him with folly. But all their perverse conduct shall be entirely done away.For the Lord hath poured out upon you - The word rendered 'hath poured out' (נסך nâsak) is usually referred to the act of pouring out a libation, or drink-offering in worship Exodus 30:9; Hosea 9:4; Isaiah 30:1. Here it means that Yahweh had, as it were, "drenched them" (Septuagint, πεπότικε pepotike) with a spirit of stupefaction. This is traced to God in accordance with the usual custom in the Bible, by which his providential agency is recognized in all events (see the notes at Isaiah 6:9-10). Compare the notes at Romans 11:8), where this passage is quoted from the Septuagint, and is applied to the Jews in the time of the apostle Paul.

The spirit of deep, sleep - The word rendered 'deep sleep,' is the same as is used in Genesis 2:21, to denote the sleep that God brought on Adam; and in Genesis 15:12, to denote the deep sleep that fell on Abraham, and when a horror of great darkness fell upon him; and in 1 Samuel 26:12, to denote the deep sleep that came upon Saul when David approached and took away the spear and the cruise of water from his bolster. Here it means spiritual sluggishness, inactivity, stupidity, that prevailed everywhere among the people in regard to the things of religion.

The seers - Those that see visions, another name for the prophets (see the note at Isaiah 1:1).

Hath he covered - That is, he has covered their eyes; or they are all blind.

10. Jehovah gives them up judicially to their own hardness of heart (compare Zec 14:13). Quoted by Paul, with variations from the Septuagint, Ro 11:8. See Isa 6:10; Ps 69:23.

eyes; the prophets, &c.—rather, "hath closed your eyes, the prophets; and your heads (Margin; see also Isa 3:2), the seers, He hath covered." The Orientals cover the head to sleep; thus "covered" is parallel to "closed your eyes" (Jud 4:19). Covering the face was also preparatory to execution (Es 7:8). This cannot apply to the time when Isaiah himself prophesied, but to subsequent times.

Hath poured out upon you; which phrase notes the plenty and vehemency of this judgment.

The spirit of deep sleep; hardness of heart, and insensibleness of your danger and misery, which God is said to send, because he denies or withdraws his fight and grace, which alone can cure those maladies. The prophets and your rulers, the seers; your magistrates and ministers, whose blindness or stupidity is a great curse and plague to the people. Or, the prophets, even the chief (for the head is oft put for the chief of persons or things, as Exodus 30:23 1 Chronicles 12:18, and elsewhere) of your seers. Hath he covered with the veil of ignorance and stupidity, or as to their eyes, which is understood out of the former clause. And this last clause is and may be rendered thus, The eyes (which may be repeated out of the foregoing clause) of your prophets, and of, or even of, your principal seers, (or, and of your most intelligent rulers,) hath he covered.

For the Lord hath poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep,.... Gave them up to a stupid frame of spirit; to a reprobate mind, a mind void of judgment and sense; to judicial blindness and hardness of heart: this was remarkably fulfilled in the Jews, in the times of Christ and his apostles, who choosing darkness rather than the light of the Gospel, which shone around them, were righteously given up to such a temper of mind; and to nothing else can be imputed their obstinate rejection of the Messiah, against the most glaring light and evidence. The Apostle Paul produces this passage, in proof of that blindness that had happened unto them in his time, Romans 11:7,

and hath closed your eyes; that is, the eyes of their understandings, so that they could not see the characters of the Messiah, and the fulfilment of prophecies in Jesus of Nazareth; nor the danger they were in, nor the ruin that was coming upon their nation, nor even when it was come, still flattering themselves with safety and deliverance:

the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered; the eyes of them, as before; not only the common people were blinded, but even the Scribes and Pharisees, the elders of the people, their ecclesiastical rulers, who pretended to be seers, and to know more than others; even "for judgment", for the judicial blindness and hardness of these Christ "came, that they which see might be made blind", John 9:39. The words may be rendered, "your heads, the seers, hath he covered" (t); and there may be an allusion to the covering of the head with a veil, an emblem of that veil of ignorance and infidelity which still remains upon the Jews. The Targum renders it,

"the prophets, and the Scribes, and the teachers that teach the law.''

(t) "et capita vestra, videntes, operuit", Montanus. So Cocceius.

For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.
10. Their infatuation is caused by Jehovah; see on ch. Isaiah 6:10.

deep sleep] The word (tardçmâh) is nearly always used of a profound slumber due to supernatural agency (1 Samuel 26:12) and favourable for the reception of Divine revelations (Job 4:13). The expressions the prophets and the seers are obviously glosses, based on a misconception of the meaning of the verse. Render: hath closed your eyes, and your heads hath he covered (or muffled).

Verse 10. - The Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. "Sleep," in Scripture, is sometimes "rest," "repose from trouble" ("So he giveth his beloved sleep," Psalm 128:2). But here it is "spiritual deadness and impassiveness" - an inability to appreciate, or even to understand, spiritual warnings. The Jews of Isaiah's time were sunk in a spiritual lethargy, from which he vainly endeavored to arouse them. This spiritual lethargy is here said to have been "poured out upon them by Jehovah;" but we are not to suppose that there was anything exceptional in their treatment - "because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind" (Romans 1:28), as he does men generally. Hath closed your eyes (comp. Isaiah 6:10; and see also Matthew 12:13; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; John 11:8, etc.). The prophets. As the text stands, the proper translation would be, "For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes (the prophets), and your heads (the seers) hath he covered." But it is reasonably conjectured that the expressions, "the prophets," "the seers," are glosses, which have crept from the margin into the text (Eichhorn, Koppe, Cheyne). If so, they are probably mistaken glosses, the allusion being, not to particular classes, but to the actual "heads" and "eyes" of individual Hebrews, which were "closed" and "covered" by the judicial action of the Almighty. In the East a covering is often drawn over the head during sleep. Isaiah 29:10This enigma of the future the prophet holds out before the eyes of his contemporaries. The prophet received it by revelation of Jehovah; and without the illumination of Jehovah it could not possibly be understood. The deep degradation of Ariel, the wonderful deliverance, the sudden elevation from the abyss to this lofty height - all this was a matter of faith. But this faith was just what the nation wanted, and therefore the understanding depending upon it was wanting also. The shemu‛âh was there, but the bı̄nâh was absent; and all שׁמועה הבין was wrecked on the obtuseness of the mass. The prophet, therefore, who had received the unhappy calling to harden his people, could not help exclaiming (Isaiah 29:9), "Stop, and stare; blind yourselves, and grow blind!" התמהמהּ, to show one's self delaying (from מההּ, according to Luzzatto the reflective of תּמהמהּ, an emphatic form which is never met with), is connected with the synonymous verb תּמהּ, to be stiff with astonishment; but to שׁעע, to be plastered up, i.e., incapable of seeing (cf., Isaiah 6:10), there is attached the hithpalpel of the same verb, signifying "to place one's self in such circumstances," se oblinere (differently, however, in Psalm 119:16, Psalm 119:47, compare Isaiah 11:8, se permulcere). They could not understand the word of God, but they were confused, and their eyes were, so to speak, festered up: therefore this self-induced condition would become to them a God-appointed punishment. The imperatives are judicial words of command.

This growth of the self-hardening into a judicial sentence of obduracy, is proclaimed still more fully by the prophet. "They are drunken, and not with wine; they reel, and not with meth. For Jehovah hath poured upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and bound up your eyes; the prophets and your heads, the seers, He has veiled. And the revelation of all this will be to you like words of a sealed writing, which they give to him who understands writing, saying, Pray, read this; but he says, I cannot, it is sealed. And they give the writing to one who does not understand writing, saying, Pray, read this; but he says, I do not understand writing." They were drunken and stupid; not, however, merely because they gave themselves up to sensual intoxication (יין, dependent upon שׁכרוּ, ebrii vino), but because Jehovah had given them up to spiritual confusion and self-destruction. All the punishments of God are inflicted through the medium of His no less world-destroying than world-sustaining Spirit, which, although not willing what is evil, does make the evil called into existence by the creature the means of punishing evil. Tardēmâh is used here to signify the powerless, passive state of utter spiritual insensibility. This judgment had fallen upon the nation in all its members, even upon the eyes and heads of the nation, i.e., the prophets. Even they whose duty is was to see to the good of the nation, and lead it, were blind leaders of the blind; their eyes were fast shut (עצּם, the intensive form of the kal, Isaiah 33:15; Aram. עצּם; Talmud also עמּץ: to shut the eyes, or press them close), and over their heads a cover was drawn, as over sleepers in the night. Since the time of Koppe and Eichhorn it has become a usual thing to regard את־הנּביאים and החזים as a gloss, and indeed as a false one (compare Isaiah 9:13-14); but the reason assigned - namely, that Isaiah's polemics are directed not against the prophets, but against the stupid staring people - is utterly groundless (compare Isaiah 28:7, and the polemics of his contemporary Micah, e.g., Isaiah 3:5-8). Moreover, the author of a gloss would have been more likely to interpret ראשׁיכם by השּׂרים or הכּהנים (compare Job 9:24). And Isaiah 29:11, Isaiah 29:12 are also opposed to this assumption of a gloss. For by those who understood what was written (sēpher), it is evident that the prophets and rulers of the nation are intended; and by those who did not understand it, the great mass of the people. To both of them, "the vision of all," i.e., of all and everything that God had shown to His true prophets, was by the judgment of God completely sealed. Some of them might have an outward knowledge; but the inward understanding of the revelation was sealed to them. Some had not even this, but stared at the word of the prophet, just as a man who cannot read stares at what is written. The chethib has הסּפר; the keri ספר, though without any ground, since the article is merely generic. Instead of נא־זה קרא, we should write זה קרא־נא in both cases, as certain codices and old editions do.

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