Isaiah 5:7 Commentaries: For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel And the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.
Isaiah 5:7
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts.—The words remind us of Nathan’s “Thou art the man,” to David (2Samuel 12:7), and of our Lord’s words in Matthew 21:42-43.

Behold oppression.—The Hebrew word carries with it the idea of bloodshed, and points to the crimes mentioned in Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 4:4. The “cry” is that of the victims who appeal to Jehovah when they find no help in man (Genesis 4:10; Deuteronomy 24:15; James 5:4).

Isaiah 5:7. For the vineyard, &c. — Or rather, Now the vineyard, as Dr. Waterland renders it: here we have the interpretation of the preceding parable in general. In the subsequent verses the prophet enters into particulars. This general interpretation is fully verified by the history of the Jewish people, especially in the time of our Lord and his apostles: and the men of Judah his pleasant plant — In whom God formerly delighted; and he looked for judgment — Both the administration of justice by magistrates, and justice in the dealings of the people with one another: but behold oppression — From the powerful upon their inferiors; and for righteousness — For equity, mercy, and benevolence; but behold a cry — From the oppressed, crying to men for help, and to God for vengeance. “The paronomasia, or play on the words, in the Hebrew, in this place, is very remarkable; mispat, mispach; zedakah, zeakah. There are many examples of it in the other prophets; but Isaiah seems peculiarly fond of it. The rabbins esteem it a great beauty: their term for it is, elegance of language.” — Bishop Lowth.5:1-7 Christ is God's beloved Son, and our beloved Saviour. The care of the Lord over the church of Israel, is described by the management of a vineyard. The advantages of our situation will be brought into the account another day. He planted it with the choicest vines; gave them a most excellent law, instituted proper ordinances. The temple was a tower, where God gave tokens of his presence. He set up his altar, to which the sacrifices should be brought; all the means of grace are denoted thereby. God expects fruit from those that enjoy privileges. Good purposes and good beginnings are good things, but not enough; there must be vineyard fruit; thoughts and affections, words and actions, agreeable to the Spirit. It brought forth bad fruit. Wild grapes are the fruits of the corrupt nature. Where grace does not work, corruption will. But the wickedness of those that profess religion, and enjoy the means of grace, must be upon the sinners themselves. They shall no longer be a peculiar people. When errors and vice go without check or control, the vineyard is unpruned; then it will soon be grown over with thorns. This is often shown in the departure of God's Spirit from those who have long striven against him, and the removal of his gospel from places which have long been a reproach to it. The explanation is given. It is sad with a soul, when, instead of the grapes of humility, meekness, love, patience, and contempt of the world, for which God looks, there are the wild grapes of pride, passion, discontent, and malice, and contempt of God; instead of the grapes of praying and praising, the wild grapes of cursing and swearing. Let us bring forth fruit with patience, that in the end we may obtain everlasting life.For the vineyard ... - This is the application of the parable. God had treated the Jews as a farmer does a vineyard. This was "his" vineyard - the object of his faithful, unceasing care. This was his "only" vineyard; on this people alone, of all the nations of the earth, had he bestowed his special attention.

His pleasant plant - The plant in which he delighted. As the farmer had been at the pains to plant the "sorek" Isaiah 5:2, so had God selected the ancient stock of the Jews as his own, and made the race the object of his chief attention.

And he looked for judgment - For justice, or righteousness.

But behold oppression - The word rendered "oppression" means properly "shedding of blood." In the original here, there is a remarkable "paranomasia," or play upon words, which is not uncommon in the Hebrew Scriptures, and which was deemed a great beauty in composition:

He looked for "judgment," משׁפט mishpâṭ, And lo! "shedding of blood," משׂפח mis'pâch; For "rightousness," צדקה tsedâqâh, But lo! "a clamor," צעקה tse‛âqâh.

It is impossible, of course, to retain this in a translation.

A cry. A clamor - tumult, disorder; the clamor which attends anarchy, and covetousness, and dissipation Isaiah 5:8, Isaiah 5:11-12, rather than the soberness and steadiness of justice.

7. Isaiah here applies the parable. It is no mere human owner, nor a literal vineyard that is meant.

vineyard of the Lord—His only one (Ex 19:5; Am 3:2).

pleasant—"the plant of his delight"; just as the husbandman was at pains to select the sorek, or "choicest vine" (Isa 5:2); so God's election of the Jews.

judgment—justice. The play upon words is striking in the Hebrew, He looked for mishpat, but behold mispat ("bloodshed"); for tsedaqua, but behold tseaqua (the cry that attends anarchy, covetousness, and dissipation, Isa 5:8, 11, 12; compare the cry of the rabble by which justice was overborne in the case of Jesus Christ, Mt 27:23, 24).

The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant; in whom God formerly delighted to dwell and converse. Compare Proverbs 8:31 Jeremiah 31:20. Behold the cry from the oppressed, crying to men for help, and to God for vengeance. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,.... This is the explication of the parable, or the accommodation and application of it to the people of Israel, by whom are meant the ten tribes; they are signified by the vineyard, which belonged to the Lord of hosts, who had chosen them to be a peculiar people to him, and had separated them from all others:

and the men of Judah his pleasant plant; they were so when first planted by the Lord; they were plants of delight, in whom he took great delight and pleasure, Deuteronomy 10:15 these design the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, in distinction from Israel:

and he looked for judgment; that the poor, and the fatherless, and the widow, would have their causes judged in a righteous manner, and that justice and judgment would be executed in the land in all respects; for which such provision was made by the good and righteous laws that were given them:

but behold oppression; or a "scab", such as was in the plague of leprosy; corruption, perverting of justice, and oppressing of the poor: Jarchi interprets it a gathering of sin to sin, a heaping up iniquities:

for righteousness, but behold a cry; of the poor and oppressed, for want of justice done, and by reason of their oppressions. Here ends the song; what has been parabolically said is literally expressed in the following part of the chapter.

For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for {h} judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold {i} a cry.

(h) Judgment and righteousness are true fruit of the fear of God and therefore in the cruel oppression there is no religion.

(i) Of them who are oppressed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. The formal application of the parable, emphasising two facts: (1) Jehovah’s vineyard is the house of Israel, but especially the men of Judah, the plant of his delight (R.V. marg.); (2) “the wild grapes” it produces are the frightful oppressions and perversion of justice which are perpetrated in its midst. The underlying thought is that Jehovah’s signal care and goodness ought to have resulted in a national life corresponding to His moral character—a fundamental truth of the prophetic theology.

He looked for judgment (mishpâṭ), but behold bloodshed (mispâḥ);

For righteousness (çědâqâh), but behold a cry! (çě‘âqâh).

These powerful assonances, which cannot be reproduced in English, are evidently designed to clinch the moral of the parable in the memories of the hearers. The “cry” is that of the oppressed, cf. Job 19:7.Verse 7. - For the vineyard, etc. The full explanation of the parable follows immediately on the disclosure in ver. 6. The vineyard is "Israel," or rather "Judah;" the fruit expected from it, "judgment and righteousness;" the wild grapes which alone it had produced, "oppression" and the "cry" of the distressed. His pleasant plan;: literally, the plant of his delights; i.e. the plantation in which he had so long taken delight. He looked for judgment, etc. Gesenius has attempted to give the verbal antithesis of the Hebrew, which is quite lost in our version -

"Er harrete auf Recht, und siehe da Unrecht,
Auf Gerechtigkeit, und siehe da Schlechtigkeit."
The prophet commenced his first address in chapter 1 like another Moses; the second, which covered no less ground, he opened with the text of an earlier prophecy; and now he commences the third like a musician, addressing both himself and his hearers with enticing words. Isaiah 1:1. "Arise, I will sing of my beloved, a song of my dearest touching his vineyard." The fugitive rhythm, the musical euphony, the charming assonances in this appeal, it is impossible to reproduce. They are perfectly inimitable. The Lamed in lı̄dı̄dı̄ is the Lamed objecti. The person to whom the song referred, to whom it applied, of whom it treated, was the singer's own beloved. It was a song of his dearest one (not his cousin, patruelis, as Luther renders it in imitation of the Vulgate, for the meaning of dōd is determined by yâdid, beloved) touching his vineyard. The Lamed in l'carmo is also Lamed objecti. The song of the beloved is really a song concerning the vineyard of the beloved; and this song is a song of the beloved himself, not a song written about him, or attributed to him, but such a song as he himself had sung, and still had to sing. The prophet, by beginning in this manner, was surrounded (either in spirit or in outward reality) by a crowd of people from Jerusalem and Judah. The song is a short one, and runs thus in Isaiah 1:1, Isaiah 1:2 : "My beloved had a vineyard on a fatly nourished mountain-horn, and dug it up and cleared it of stones, and planted it with noble vines, and built a tower in it, and also hewed out a wine-press therein; and hoped that it would bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes." The vineyard was situated upon a keren, i.e., upon a prominent mountain peak projecting like a horn, and therefore open to the sun on all sides; for, as Virgil says in the Georgics, "apertos Bacchus amat colles." This mountain horn was ben-shemen, a child of fatness: the fatness was innate, it belonged to it by nature (shemen is used, as in Isaiah 28:1, to denote the fertility of a nutritive loamy soil). And the owner of the vineyard spared no attention or trouble. The plough could not be used, from the steepness of the mountain slope: he therefore dug it up, that is to say, he turned up the soil which was to be made into a vineyard with a hoe (izzēk, to hoe; Arab. mi‛zak, mi‛zaka); and as he found it choked up with stones and boulders, he got rid of this rubbish by throwing it out sikkēl, a privative piel, lapidibus purgare, then operam consumere in lapides, sc. ejiciendos, to stone, or clear of stones: Ges. 52, 2). After the soil had been prepared he planted it with sorek, i.e., the finest kind of eastern vine, bearing small grapes of a bluish-red, with pips hardly perceptible to the tongue. The name is derived from its colour (compare the Arabic zerka, red wine). To protect and adorn the vineyard which had been so richly planted, he built a tower in the midst of it. The expression "and also" calls especial attention to the fact that he hewed out a wine-trough therein (yekeb, the trough into which the must or juice pressed from the grapes in the wine-press flows, lacus as distinguished from torcular); that is to say, in order that the trough might be all the more fixed and durable, he constructed it in a rocky portion of the ground (Châtsēb bo instead of Chătsab bo, with a and the accent drawn back, because a Beth was thereby easily rendered inaudible, so that Châtsēb is not a participial adjective, as Bttcher supposes). This was a difficult task, as the expression "and also" indicates; and for that very reason it was an evidence of the most confident expectation. But how bitterly was this deceived! The vineyard produced no such fruit, as might have been expected from a sorek plantation; it brought forth no ‛anâbim whatever, i.e., no such grapes as a cultivated vine should bear, but only b'ushim, or wild grapes. Luther first of all adopted the rendering wild grapes, and then altered it to harsh or sour grapes. But it comes to the same thing. The difference between a wild vine and a good vine is only qualitative. The vitis vinifera, like all cultivated plants, is assigned to the care of man, under which it improves; whereas in its wild state it remains behind its true intention (see Genesis, 622). Consequently the word b'ushim (from bâ'ash, to be bad, or smell bad) denotes not only the grapes of the wild vine, which are naturally small and harsh (Rashi, lambruches, i.e., grapes of the labrusca, which is used now, however, as the botanical name of a vine that is American in its origin), but also grapes of a good stock, which have either been spoiled or have failed to ripen.

(Note: In the Jerusalem Talmud such grapes are called ūbshin, the letters being transposed; and in the Mishnah (Ma'aseroth i. 2, Zeb'ith iv 8) הבאישׁ is the standing word applied to grapes that are only half ripe (see Lwy's Leshon Chachamim, or Wrterbuch des talmudischen Hebrisch, Prag 1845). With reference to the wild grape (τὸ ἀγριόκλημα), a writer, describing the useful plants of Greece, says, "Its fruit (τὰ ἀγριοστάφυλα) consists of very small berries, not much larger than bilberries, with a harsh flavour.")

These were the grapes which the vineyard produced, such as you might indeed have expected from a wild vine, but not from carefully cultivated vines of the very choicest kind.

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