Seeing many things, but you observe not; opening the ears, but he hears not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Seeing many things . . .—With a clear vision into the future, the prophet sees that the future Israel will be as far from the ideal as his contemporaries had been. In the actual work of the Servant we find the fulfilment of his vision. Scribes and Pharisees are as those who “learn nothing and forget nothing,” on whom all the lessons of experience are cast away, reproducing the state from which Isaiah started (Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:14; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; Acts 28:26). The transfer of the words to the sufferings of the Christ, who bore them as though He neither heard nor saw, is scarcely tenable.
But thou observest not - Thou dost not keep them (תשׁמר tı̂shmor); thou dost not regard them.
Opening the ears - Thou hast thine ears open. They heard the words of the law, and the instructions conveyed by tradition from their fathers, but they did not lay them to heart, or give heed to them (see the note at Isaiah 6:10).
he—transition from the second to the third person. "Opening … ears," that is, though he (Israel) hath his ears open (see on Isa 6:10). This language, too (see on Isa 42:19), applies to Messiah as Jehovah's servant (Isa 50:5; Ps 40:6).
opening the ears, but he heareth not; they heard John Baptist preach, the forerunner of Christ, and the testimony he bore of him; they heard Christ himself and his apostles; they sometimes opened their ears, and seemed to listen and hear with attention, and wonder at what they heard; and some would own, that never man spake like Jesus; and yet understood not his speech, and hardened their hearts against him; they saw many things with their bodily eyes, but perceived them not with the eyes of their understandings; they heard with their ears, but understood not in their hearts; for their eyes were shut and their ears heavy, Isaiah 6:9.Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)20. seeing many things] Render with R.V. in accordance with the consonantal text, Thou hast seen many things; the form has been quite needlessly changed by the punctuators. The idea of the verse is that the great historical facts of revelation have been within the cognisance of Israel, but it has failed to apprehend their true import. Cf. ch. Isaiah 6:9 ff.Verse 20. - Seeing many things, but, etc. Israel had "seen many things;" i.e. passed through a long experience, but not profited by it - not been "observant," as they should have been. They had had their ears open in a certain sense, and heard the words that the prophets addressed to them, but had not taken in their true import. (The mixture of persons is like that in Isaiah 1:29 and Isaiah 14:30.) Isaiah 57:11; Isaiah 58:12; Isaiah 61:4; Isaiah 63:18-19; Isaiah 64:4, cf., Isaiah 64:10, Isaiah 64:11). He has kept silence, has still forcibly restrained Himself, just as Joseph is said to have done to prevent himself from breaking out into tears (Genesis 43:31). Love impelled Him to redeem His people; but justice was still obliged to proceed with punishment.
Three real futures now take the place of imperfects regulated by החשׁיתי. They are not to be understood as denoting the violent breathing and snorting of a hero, burning with rage and thirsting for battle (Knobel); nor is אשּׁם to be derived from שׁמם, as Hitzig supposes, through a mistaken comparison of Ezekiel 36:3, though the latter does not mean to lay waste, but to be waste (see Hitzig on Ezekiel 36:3). The true derivation is from נשׁם, related to נשׁף, נפשׁ, נשׁב. To the figure of a hero there is now added that of a travailing woman; פּעה is short breathing (with the glottis closed); נשׁם the snorting of violent inspiration and expiration; שׁאף the earnest longing for deliverance pressing upon the burden in the womb; and יחד expresses the combination of all these several strainings of the breath, which are associated with the so-called labour-pains. Some great thing, with which Jehovah has, as it were, long been pregnant, is now about to be born.
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