Isaiah 5:10
Yes, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.
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(10) Ten acres.—The disproportion was as great as that which we have seen in recent times in vine countries suffering from the Phylloxera or the oidium, or in the potato failures of Ireland. The bath was equal to seventy-two Roman sextarii (Jos. Ant. viii. 2-9), about seven and a half gallons, and this was to be the whole produce of ten acres, from which an average yield of 500 baths might have been expected. The Hebrew word for “acre” means primarily the ground that could be ploughed in a day by a yoke of oxen.

The seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.—Here also there is an all but total failure. The homer was a dry measure of thirty-two pecks, and the ephah was equal to one-tenth of a homer (Ezekiel 45:11; Exodus 16:36). This scanty crop—Ruth’s gleanings for a single day (Ruth 2:17)—one-tenth of the seed sown, was to take the place of the “thirtyfold, sixty, and a hundredfold” (Genesis 26:12; Matthew 13:8) of average or prosperous years.

5:8-23 Here is a woe to those who set their hearts on the wealth of the world. Not that it is sinful for those who have a house and a field to purchase another; but the fault is, that they never know when they have enough. Covetousness is idolatry; and while many envy the prosperous, wretched man, the Lord denounces awful woes upon him. How applicable to many among us! God has many ways to empty the most populous cities. Those who set their hearts upon the world, will justly be disappointed. Here is woe to those who dote upon the pleasures and the delights of sense. The use of music is lawful; but when it draws away the heart from God, then it becomes a sin to us. God's judgments have seized them, but they will not disturb themselves in their pleasures. The judgments are declared. Let a man be ever so high, death will bring him low; ever so mean, death will bring him lower. The fruit of these judgments shall be, that God will be glorified as a God of power. Also, as a God that is holy; he shall be owned and declared to be so, in the righteous punishment of proud men. Those are in a woful condition who set up sin, and who exert themselves to gratify their base lusts. They are daring in sin, and walk after their own lusts; it is in scorn that they call God the Holy One of Israel. They confound and overthrow distinctions between good and evil. They prefer their own reasonings to Divine revelations; their own devices to the counsels and commands of God. They deem it prudent and politic to continue profitable sins, and to neglect self-denying duties. Also, how light soever men make of drunkenness, it is a sin which lays open to the wrath and curse of God. Their judges perverted justice. Every sin needs some other to conceal it.Yea, ten acres - In this verse a reason is rendered why the houses mentioned in the previous verse should become desolate. The reason is, that the land would become sterile and barren, as a divine judgment for their oppression. To what particular time the prophet refers, here, is not apparent. It is certain, however, that the land of Canaan was frequently given up to sterility. The withholding of the early and latter rains, or the neglect of cultivation from any cause, would produce this. At present, this formerly fertile country is among the most unproductive on the face of the earth.

Ten acres - An "acre," among the Hebrews, was what could be plowed by one yoke of oxen in a day. It did not differ materially from our acre.

Shall yield one bath - One bath of wine. The "bath" was a Jewish measure for liquids, containing about seven gallons and a half. To say that "ten acres" should produce no more wine than this; was the same as to say that it would produce almost nothing.

And the seed of an homer - An "homer" was a Hebrew measure for grain, containing about eight bushels.

An ephah - The "ephah" contained about three pecks. Of course, to say that an homer of seed should produce about three pecks, would be the same as saying that it would produce almost nothing.

10. acres—literally, "yokes"; as much as one yoke of oxen could plow in a day.


bath—of wine; seven and a half gallons.

homer … ephah—Eight bushels of seed would yield only three pecks of produce (Eze 45:11). The ephah and bath, one-tenth of an homer.

Ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, to wit, of wine. The bath contained about eight gallons. Thus an acre did yield one gallon.

The seed of an homer shall yield an ephah which was of the same quantity with the bath, only the bath was the measure of liquid things, the ephah of dry and an ephah was the tenth part of an homer, Ezekiel 45:11. So instead of that great increase which that fruitful land commonly yielded, they should lose nine parts of their seed. Thus a fruitful land was made barren for their wickedness, according to God’s threatening, Psalm 107:34; and they had as little comfort in their lands as in their houses; which were the two kinds of their purchases, Isaiah 5:8. Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath,.... They shall get nothing by laying field to field, for their fields shall be barren and unfruitful; though Jarchi and Kimchi take this to be a reason why their houses should be desolate, and without inhabitants, because there would be a famine, rendering the words, "for ten acres", &c. The Targum makes this barrenness to be the punishment of their sin, in not paying tithes; paraphrasing the words thus,

"for because of the sin of not giving tithes, the place of ten acres of vineyard shall produce one bath.''

The word signifies "yokes", and is used of yokes of oxen; hence the Septuagint and Arabic versions render the words thus, "for where ten yoke of oxen work", or "plough, it shall make one flagon"; and so Kimchi explains them, the place in a vineyard, which ten yoke of oxen plough in one day, shall yield no more wine than one bath. A bath is a measure for liquids; according to Godwin (a), it held four gallons and a half; a small quantity indeed, to be produced out of ten acres of ground; an acre, according to our English measure, being a quantity of land containing four square roods, or one hundred sixty square poles or perches:

and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah: that is, as much seed as an "homer" would hold, which was a dry measure, and which, according to the above writer, contained five bushels and five gallons, should yield only an ephah, which was the tenth part of an homer, Ezekiel 45:11 so that it would only produce a tenth part of the seed sown.

(a) Moses and Aaron, l. 6. c. 9.

Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one {m} bath, and the seed of an {n} homer shall yield an {o} ephah.

(m) Which contains about 5 gallons, so that every acre would yield only half a gallon.

(n) Which contains 50 gallons.

(o) An ephah contains 5 gallons and is in dry things as much as a bath is in liquids.

10. The land shall be smitten with the curse of barrenness; Jehovah’s remedy for land-grabbing.

ten acres] lit. ten yoke; a yoke of land being

“As much as two stout oxen

Could plough from morn till night.”

one bath] (of wine),—about 8 gallons.

seed of a homer … ephah] The ephah is a dry measure of the same capacity as the bath; the homer is ten ephahs (Ezekiel 45:11).Verse 10. - Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath. The greed of adding field to field will he punished by the curse of barrenness, which God will send upon the laud. Dr. Kay-calculates that ten acres (Roman) of vineyard ought to yield upon the average five hundred baths (or four thousand gallons) instead of one bath (eight gallons). An homer... an ephah. The "ephah" was the tenth-part of a "homer" (Ezekiel 45:11). Corn lands should return only one-tenth part of the seed sown in them. The song of the beloved who was so sorely deceived terminates here. The prophet recited it, not his beloved himself; but as they were both of one heart and one soul, the prophet proceeds thus in Isaiah 5:3 and Isaiah 5:4 : "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard! What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore did I hope that it would bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes?" The fact that the prophet speaks as if he were the beloved himself, shows at once who the beloved must be. The beloved of the prophet and the lover of the prophet (yâdid and dōd) were Jehovah, with whom he was so united by a union mystica exalted above all earthly love, that, like the angel of Jehovah in the early histories, he could speak as if he were Jehovah Himself (see especially Zechariah 2:12-13). To any one with spiritual intuition, therefore, the parabolical meaning and object of the song would be at once apparent; and even the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah (yoosheeb and iish are used collectively, as in Isaiah 8:14; Isaiah 9:8; Isaiah 22:21, cf., Isaiah 20:6) were not so stupefied by sin, that they could not perceive to what the prophet was leading. It was for them to decide where the guilt of this unnatural issue lay - that is to say, of this thorough contradiction between the "doing" of the vineyard and the "doing" of the Lord; that instead of the grapes he hoped for, it brought forth wild grapes. (On the expression "what could have been done," quid faciendum est, mah-la'asoth, see at Habakkuk 1:17, Ges. 132, Anm. 1.) Instead of למה (למּה) we have the more suitable term מדּוּע, the latter being used in relation to the actual cause (Causa efficiens), the former in relation to the object (Causa finalis). The parallel to the second part, viz., Isaiah 50:2, resembles the passage before us, not only in the use of this particular word, but also in the fact that there, as well as here, it relates to both clauses, and more especially to the latter of the two. We find the same paratactic construction in connection with other conjunctions (cf., Isaiah 12:1; Isaiah 65:12). They were called upon to decide and answer as to this what and wherefore; but they were silent, just because they could clearly see that they would have to condemn themselves (as David condemned himself in connection with Nathan's parable, 2 Samuel 12:5). The Lord of the vineyard, therefore, begins to speak. He, its accuser, will now also be its judge.
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