Isaiah 43:24
Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) No sweet cane . . .—Probably some species of Amomum for the anointing oil (Exodus 30:23). It is distinguished from the incense, and is not one of the ingredients (Exodus 30:34).

Thou hast made me to serve.—The verbs of Isaiah 43:23 are repeated with the emphasis of scorn, the thought being analogous to that of Isaiah 1:14. The people had made this hypocritical worship as a service which their God had to endure, till He was altogether weary of it.

43:22-28 Those who neglect to call upon God, are weary of him. The Master tired not the servants with his commands, but they tired him with disobedience. What were the riches of God's mercy toward them? I, even I, am he who yet blotteth out thy transgressions. This encourages us to repent, because there is forgiveness with God, and shows the freeness of Divine mercy. When God forgives, he forgets. It is not for any thing in us, but for his mercies' sake, his promise' sake; especially for his Son's sake. He is pleased to reckon it his honour. Would man justify himself before God? The attempt is desperate: our first father broke the covenant, and we all have copied his example. We have no reason to expect pardon, except we seek it by faith in Christ; and that is always attended by true repentance, and followed by newness of life, by hatred of sin, and love to God. Let us then put him in remembrance of the promises he has made to the penitent, and the satisfaction his Son has made for them. Plead these with him in wrestling for pardon; and declare these things, that thou mayest be justified freely by his grace. This is the only way, and it is a sure way to peace.Thou hast bought me - You have not purchased this - implying that it was not produced in Palestine, but was an article of commerce. It was to be obtained only from abroad. This is expressly affirmed in Jeremiah 6:20 : 'To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from afar country?' That it was an article of commerce is also apparent from Ezekiel 27:19 : 'Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in thy fairs (that is, Tyre): bright iron, cassia, and calamus (קנה qâneh), were in thy market.'

Sweet cane - The word used here (קנה qâneh), denotes properly "cane, reed, calamus" (Greek κάννα kanna and κάννη kannē, Latin canna, whence the English, cane; French, canne; Italian, canna). It usually refers to a reed growing in wet or marshy ground. It denotes also sweet cane, calamus aromaticus. It is sometimes joined with the word בשׂם bôs'em, aromatic, odor, fragrance, spice, as in Exodus 30:23; see also Jeremiah 6:20. According to Pliny (xii. 22) it grew in Arabia, Syria, and India; according to Theophrastus, in the vales of Lebanon (Hist. Plant. ix. 7). It was used among the Hebrews in compounding the sacred perfumes Exodus 30:23. It is a knotty root, of a reddish color, and contains a soft white pith - in resemblance probably not unlike the calamus so well known in this country. Strabo and Diodorus Siculus say that it grew in Saba. Hasselquist says that it is common in the deserts of the two Arabias. It is gathered near Jumbo, a port town of Arabia Petrea, from where it is brought into Egypt. The Venetians purchase it, and use it in the composition of their 'theriaca.' It is much esteemed among the Arabs on account of its fragrance. See Calmet (Art. Cane), and Gesenius (Lex. and Commentary in loc). It was not probably used in the worship of God anywhere except among the Hebrews. The pagans made use of incense, but I do not know that they used the calamus.

Neither hast thou filled me - Margin, 'Made me drunk,' or 'abundantly moistened.' The word used here (רוה râvâh), means properly "to drink to the full, to be satisfied, sated with drink." See it explained in the notes at Isaiah 34:6. It is applied to water which is drank, or to fat which is sucked in or drank rather than eaten Psalm 36:9; or to a sword as drinking up blood. Here it means to satiate, or to satisfy. They had not offered the fat of sacrifices so as to satiate God. Probably this passage does not mean that the Jews had wholly neglected the public worship of God; they had not worshipped him with a proper spirit, and had thus served him with their sins, and wearied him with their transgressions. It is true, also, that while they were abundant in external rites and ceremonies, they frequently made oblations to idols, rather than to the true God. Perhaps, therefore, an emphasis is to be placed on the word 'me' in this passage, meaning, that however diligent and regular they had been in the performance of the external rites and duties of religion, yet that God had been neglected.

Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins - You have made it oppressive, burdensome, wearisome for me, like the hard and onerous service of a slave (see the note at Isaiah 43:23; compare the note at Isaiah 1:14).

24. bought—for "sweet cane" (aromatic calamus) was not indigenous to Palestine, but had to be bought from foreign countries (Jer 6:20). It was used among the Hebrews to make the sacred ointment (Ex 30:23). It is often offered as a mark of hospitality.

filled—satiated (Jer 31:14). God deigns to use human language to adapt Himself to human modes of thought.

made me to serve—though "I have not caused thee to serve" (Isa 43:23). Our sin made the Son of God to become "a servant." He served to save us from servile bondage (Php 2:7; Heb 2:14, 15).

wearied me—Though I have "not wearied thee" (Isa 43:23; see Isa 1:14).

Thou hast bought me no sweet cane; or, calamus, as this word is rendered, Exodus 30:23, which was used in the making of that precious ointment, Exodus 30:34, and as a perfume, or for the incense, Exodus 30:7: see Jeremiah 6:20. The meaning of this clause seems to be this, Thou hast been stubborn in my service, when thou hast spared for no cost in the service of thine idols, as is elsewhere noted.

Neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; thou hast offered no more sacrifices than were simply necessary; thou hast not multiplied thy thank-offerings and free-will offerings, though I have given thee sufficient occasion to do so.

Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins; thou hast made me to bear the load and burden of thy sins, which are very grievous and oppressive to me, Amos 2:13, and great exercises of my patience. Yea, thou hast made it necessary for me to take upon me the form of a servant, that I might bear and carry away thy sins. This clause and that which follows are opposed to and aggravated by what he said, Isaiah 43:23. I did not make thee to serve or weary thee with offerings, though that work was honourable and beneficial to thee, as well as conducing to my service; but thou hast made me to serve in the vilest manner, with such things as are not only offensive to me, but also pernicious to thee.

Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money,.... Or "calamus" (r), which was used in the anointing oil, and for the perfume or incense, Exodus 30:7, this they thought too expensive, and so left it out of the composition, or neglected the whole this being put a part for the whole. Jarchi gives it as the sense, that they had no need to buy it, since it grew in great plenty in the land of Israel, which he took to be cinnamon; though this is distinguished from calamus, or the sweet cane, Sol 4:14, wherefore Kimchi much better observes, that it was not to be had in the land of Israel, but came from a land afar off; and therefore must be bought; see Jeremiah 6:20, hence grudging to give the price for it, and to be at the expense of it, bought it not, and disused it:

neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; they did not multiply their sacrifices, offered only just what the law required, if so many, and those of the leaner sort; and whereas the fat of the sacrifices was the Lord's, there was little of it for him in these:

but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities; they were so many, and so aggravated, that he could not bear with them any longer, his patience was worn out; they were an uneasiness to him, as it were a burden upon him, and therefore would ease himself, as he sometimes does, by avenging himself, Isaiah 1:24, but here by pardoning them, as in the following verse. Some think that these are the words of Christ, the surety of his people, who took upon him the form of a servant for the sake of them, and had all their sins laid upon him, and which he bore, and made satisfaction for; and were to the human nature a burden, and a weariness to it; see Psalm 40:12. This must be understood of the remnant according to the election of grace, among these people so sadly corrupted, for whose sins of omission and commission Christ made atonement; and upon the foot of his satisfaction, remission of sins proceeds, as in the next verse: this they thought too chargeable, and so left it out of the composition, or neglected the whole this being put a part for the whole. Jarchi gives it as the sense, that they had no need to buy it, since it grew in great plenty in the land of Israel, which he took to be cinnamon; though this is distinguished from calamus, or the sweet cane, Sol 4:14, wherefore Kimchi much better observes, that it was not to be had in the land of Israel, but came from a land afar off; and therefore must be bought; see Jeremiah 6:20, hence grudging to give the price for it, and to be at the expense of it, bought it not, and disused it:

neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; they did not multiply their sacrifices, offered only just what the law required, if so many, and those of the leaner sort; and whereas the fat of the sacrifices was the Lord's, there was little of it for him in these:

but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities; they were so many, and so aggravated, that he could not bear with them any longer, his patience was worn out; they were an uneasiness to him, as it were a burden upon him, and therefore would ease himself, as he sometimes does, by avenging himself, Isaiah 1:24, but here by pardoning them, as in the following verse. Some think that these are the words of Christ, the surety of his people, who took upon him the form of a servant for the sake of them, and had all their sins laid upon him, and which he bore, and made satisfaction for; and were to the human nature a burden, and a weariness to it; see Psalm 40:12. This must be understood of the remnant according to the election of grace, among these people so sadly corrupted, for whose sins of omission and commission Christ made atonement; and upon the foot of his satisfaction, remission of sins proceeds, as in the next verse.

(r) "calamum", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus; "calamum odoratum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Vitringa.

Thou hast bought me no sweet {a} cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast {b} burdened me with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thy iniquities.

(a) Either for the composition of the sweet ointment Ex 30:34, or for the sweet incense Ex 30:7.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. sweet cane] (qâneh) is also mentioned in Jeremiah 6:20 as coming from a “far country.” It is supposed to be calamus odoratus, a product of India, but grown also in Arabia and Syria; hence Jarchi, the Jewish commentator, explains: “because there was enough in Palestine”! It formed an ingredient in the sacred oil with which the priests, the tabernacle, &c. were anointed (Exodus 30:23, E.V. “sweet calamus”). One of the rare paronomasias in this prophecy is the play of words between this name and the verb for “buy” (qânâh).

filled me] satiated me (as R.V. marg.).

with the fat] cf. Jeremiah 31:14; Psalm 36:8.

but (only) thou hast made me to serve …] This is the contrast which the prophet has had in view from the beginning of the section: while Jehovah has not burdened His people even with the offerings which it had been too ready to bring, it has burdened Him with its sins; and while Israel has taken its whole relation to Jehovah lightly, He has accepted the burden, and laboured in its service for the removal of its guilt.

Verse 24. - Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money. "Sweet cane" is mentioned in the Law only in connection with the "holy anointing oil" (Exodus 30:23). But the present passage raises a suspicion that it was practically used in the burnt offerings of private persons (see the next clause). That it was anciently used in Babylonia in sacrifice, appears from the Deluge Tablets ('Transactions of Society of Bibl. Archaeol.,' vol. 3. p. 559, 1. 48). But thou hast made me to serve with thy sins. "The sins of Israel," as Delitzsch observes, "pressed upon Jehovah, as a burthen does upon a servant." This is a part of the fundamental idea running through the third part of Isaiah, closely connected with the mediatorial office of the "Servant of the Lord," who "bare the sin of many" (Isaiah 53:12), and on whom "the Lord laid the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). Israel, both during the Captivity and before, had accumulated a heavy load of sin, not merely by negligence, but by overt acts of guilt (see Isaiah 1:4, 15, 21-23, etc.). Isaiah 43:24It would be the praise of God, however, and not the merits of their own works, that they would have to relate; for there was nothing at all that could give them any claim to reward. There were not even acts of ceremonial worship, but only the guilt of grievous sins. "And thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob, that thou shouldst have wearied thyself for me, O Israel! Thou hast not brought me sheep of thy burnt-offerings, and thou hast not honoured me with thy slain-offerings. I have not burdened thee with meat-offerings, and have not troubled thee about incense. Thou hast bought me no spice-cane for silver, nor hast thou refreshed me with fat of thy slain-offerings. No; thou hast wearied me with thy sins, troubled me with thine iniquities." We cannot agree with Stier, that these words refer to the whole of the previous worship of Israel, which is treated here as having no existence, because of its heartlessness and false-holiness. And we must also not forget, that all these prophecies rested on either the historical or the ideal soil of the captivity. The charge commences with the worship of prayer (with calling upon Jehovah, as in Psalm 14:4; Psalm 18:7), to which the people were restricted when in exile, since the law did not allow them to offer sacrifice outside the holy land. The personal pronoun אתי, in the place of the suffix, is written first of all for the sake of emphasis, as if the meaning were, "Israel could exert itself to call upon other gods, but not upon Jehovah." The following kı̄ is equivalent to ut (Hosea 1:6), or ‛ad-kı̄ in 2 Samuel 23:10, adeo ut laborasses me colendo (so as to have wearied thyself in worshipping me). They are also charged with having offered no sacrifices, inasmuch as in a foreign land this duty necessarily lapsed of itself, together with the self-denial that it involved. The spelling הביאת (as in Numbers 14:31) appears to have been intended for the pronunciation הביאת (compare the pronunciation in 2 Kings 19:25, which comes between the two). The ‛ōlōth (burnt-offerings) stand first, as the expression of adoration, and are connected with sēh, which points to the daily morning and evening sacrifice (the tâmı̄d). Then follow the zebâchı̄m (slain-offerings), the expression of the establishment of fellowship with Jehovah (וּזבחיך is equivalent to וּבזביחך, like חמה equals בּחמה, Isaiah 43:25). The "fat" (chēlebh) in Isaiah 43:24 refers to the portions of fat that were placed upon the altar in connection with this kind of sacrifice. After the zebâchı̄m comes the michâh, the expression of desire for the blessing of Jehovah, a portion of which, the so-called remembrance portion ('azkârâh), was placed upon the altar along with the whole of the incense. And lastly, the qâneh (spice-cane), i.e., some one of the Amoma,

(Note: The qâneh is generally supposed to be the Calamus; but the calamus forms no stalk, to say nothing of a cane or hollow stalk. It must be some kind of aromatic plant, with a stalk like a cane, either the Cardamum, Ingber, or Curcuma; at any rate, it belonged to the species Amomum. The aroma of this was communicated to the anointing oil, the latter being infused, and the resinous parts of the former being thereby dissolved.)

points to the holy anointing oil (Exodus 30:23), or if it refer to spices generally, to the sacred incense, though qâneh is not mentioned as one of the ingredients in Exodus 30:34. The nation, which Jehovah was now redeeming out of pure unmingled grace, had not been burdened with costly tasks of this description (see Jeremiah 6:20); on the contrary, it was Jehovah only who was burdened and troubled. He denies that there was any "causing to serve" (העביד, lit., to make a person a servant, to impose servile labour upon him) endured by Israel, but affirms this rather of Himself. The sins of Israel pressed upon Him, as a burden does upon a servant. His love took upon itself the burden of Israel's guilt, which derived its gravitating force from His won holy righteous wrath; but it was a severe task to bear this heavy burden, and expunge it - a thoroughly divine task, the significance of which was first brought out in its own true light by the cross on Golgotha. When God creates, He expresses His fiat, and what He wills comes to pass. But He does not blot out sin without balancing His love with His justice; and this equalization is not effected without conflict and victory.

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