Isaiah 57:3
But draw near here, you sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore.
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(3) Ye sons of the sorceress.—The words may be purely figurative, as meaning those who practise sorcery, but it is also possible that they may have reference to the female soothsayers, such as are described in Ezekiel 13:17-23.

The adulterer.—Here again the epithet may have had both a figurative and a literal application. (Comp. Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4; James 4:4.)

Isaiah 57:3-4. But draw near hither, &c. — “The prophet proceeds to exhibit the church, totally corrupt as it was, the good men being extinct or dispersed; so that they who remained of the pure seed of the church lay hid in solitary places, while the body of the church appeared like a dead carcass; not the true, but the idolatrous church.” Thus Vitringa, who understands this paragraph as describing the state of the church in the dark ages of popery. It seems, however, by many of the expressions which the prophet uses, that he is rather giving a description of the corrupt state of the Jewish Church, before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. Draw near hither — To God’s tribunal, to receive your sentence; ye sons of the sorceress — Not by propagation, but by imitation, those being frequently called men’s sons that follow their example: the seed of the adulterer, &c. — Not the genuine children of Abraham, as you pretend and boast yourselves to be; your dispositions being far more suitable to a spurious brood than to Abraham’s seed. Against whom do you sport yourselves? — Consider who it is that you mock and scoff at when you deride God’s prophets, (see Isaiah 28:14; Isaiah 28:22,) and know that it is not so much men that you insult, as God, whose cause they plead, and in whose name they speak. Are ye not a seed of falsehood — A generation of liars, whose practices contradict your professions, who deal deceitfully both with God and man?57:3-12 The Lord here calls apostates and hypocrites to appear before him. When reproved for their sins, and threatened with judgments, they ridiculed the word of God. The Jews were guilty of idolatry before the captivity; but not after that affliction. Their zeal in the worship of false gods, may shame our indifference in the worship of the true God. The service of sin is disgraceful slavery; those who thus debase themselves to hell, will justly have their portion there. Men incline to a religion that inflames their unholy passions. They are led to do any evil, however great or vile, if they think it will atone for crimes, or purchase indulgence for some favourite lust. This explains idolatry, whether pagan, Jewish, or antichristian. But those who set up anything instead of God, for their hope and confidence, never will come to a right end. Those who forsake the only right way, wander in a thousand by-paths. The pleasures of sin soon tire, but never satisfy. Those who care not for the word of God and his providences, show they have no fear of God. Sin profits not; it ruins and destroys.But draw near hither - That is, come near to hear the solemn sentence which God pronounces in regard to your character and doom. This is addressed to the impenitent and unbelieving part of the nation, and is designed to set before them the greatness of their sin, and the certainty that they would be punished.

Ye sons of the sorceress - You who are addicted to sorcery and enchantments; who consult the oracles of the pagan rather than the only true God. On the meaning of the word used here, see the notes at Isaiah 2:6. The Hebrews, like other inhabitants of the East, were much addicted to this, and particularly in the time of Manasseh 2 Kings 21:6 : 'And he made his sons pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits, and wizards.' So much were they devoted to this in his time, that they might be called, by way of eminence, 'the sons of the sorceress;' as if a sorceress had been their mother, and they had grown up to walk in her steps, and to imitate her example.

The seed of the adulterer - Implying that the obligations of the marriage contract were disregarded, and that licentiousness prevailed in the nation. Amidst the other abominations which existed under the wicked and corrupt reign of Manasseh 2 Kings 21, there is every probability that these sins also abounded. Licentiousness had been the invariable attendant on idol-worship; and dissoluteness of manners is the usual accompaniment of all other crimes. It is observable also that the Saviour often charges the same sin on the nation in his own time (Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4; John 8:1 ff.) In the language here, however, there is a reference to the fact that the nation had apostatized from God, and they were guilty of spiritual adultery - that is, of unfaithfulness to God. They fixed their affections on other objects than God, and loved the images of idol-worship more than they did their Creator.

3. But … ye—In contrast to "the righteous" and their end, he announces to the unbelieving Jews their doom.

sons of the sorceress—that is, ye that are addicted to sorcery: this was connected with the worship of false gods (2Ki 21:6). No insult is greater to an Oriental than any slur cast on his mother (1Sa 20:30; Job 30:8).

seed of the adulterer—Spiritual adultery is meant: idolatry and apostasy (Mt 16:4).

Draw near hither, to God’s tribunal, to answer for yourselves, and to hear what I have to say against you, and to receive your sentence.

Sons of the sorceress; not by propagation, but by imitation; such being frequently called a man or woman’s sons that learn their art, and follow their example: you sorcerers, either properly or metaphorically so called; for the Jews were guilty of it both ways.

The seed of the adulterer and the whore; not the genuine children of Abraham, as you pretend and boast, but begotten in fornication upon a common whore; which is not to be understood properly, but figuratively, because their dispositions and carriages were far more suitable to a bastardly brood than to Abraham’s seed. But draw near hither,.... The death of the righteous, and their happiness after it, being observed: the wicked, who thought themselves safe from danger, and the happier that they were rid of the righteous, those witnesses and prophets which had tormented them, and therefore rejoiced on that account, are here summoned to the divine tribunal, to hear their character, and receive their doom, as follows:

ye sons of the sorceress; the children of Jezebel, the witch, and the prophetess that taught the servants of the Lord to commit fornication, and bewitched with her witchcrafts the sons of the apostate church of Rome; by whose sorceries all nations have been deceived, and of which she repents not, Revelation 2:20,

the seed of the adulterer and of the whore; of the great whore of Babylon, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication; and whose subjects and children are the seed of this whore, and the sons of this idolatrous church: or, "that committeth whoredom" (g); which aggravates the character, that they were not only the children of adulterous persons, but committed whoredom themselves.

(g) "qua scortata est", Piscator; "quod scortaris", Junius & Tremellius; "qui scortaris", Cocceius.

But draw near here, ye {c} sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the harlot.

(c) He threatens the wicked hypocrites, who under the pretence of the name of God's people, derided God's word and his promises: boasting openly that they were the children of Abraham, but because they were not faithful and obedient as Abraham was, he calls them bastards and the children of sorcerers, who forsook God, and fled to wicked means for comfort.

3, 4. Indignant summons to the apostate community.

But draw near hither] Better, But as for you, draw near hither &c. to hear your doom (cf. Isaiah 41:1, Isaiah 45:20, Isaiah 48:16).

ye sons of a sorceress] The most galling insult to an Oriental is to revile his mother (see 1 Samuel 20:30). By the use of the phrase here the persons addressed are described as nursed in witchcraft and superstition.

seed of an adulterer and a whore] Cf. Ezekiel 16:3; Ezekiel 16:45 (“thy father an Amorite, thy mother a Hittite”). It is not improbable that the words contain a specific allusion to the mixed origin of the Samaritans (2 Kings 17:24 ff.); the “adulterer” may be the remains of the old Israelitish population (who had been untrue to the marriage bond with Jehovah), and the “harlot” the heathen element which had been imported by successive kings of Assyria.

3–13. Invective against an idolatrous party.—With regard to the reference of this obscure and difficult passage the following points have to be noticed: (1) The scenery of Isaiah 57:5-6 is unmistakeably Palestinian (wadis, clefts of the rock, terebinths). (2) Several of the rites specified bear the complexion of Canaanitish heathenism, and could not have been performed in Babylonia. (3) The opening words (“But ye”) seem to imply that the people addressed are distinct from those whose leaders are denounced in Isaiah 56:10-12. (4) Those spoken of are animated by contempt and hatred of the cause and people of Jehovah (Isaiah 57:4), while at the same time they advance pretensions to “righteousness” or correctness of religious standing (Isaiah 57:12). (5) They have persisted in their abominations down to the time of the prophecy (Isaiah 57:10-13).

On the supposition that the prophecy was written after the return from Babylon, there is much plausibility in the view that the party here addressed is the Samaritan community. This theory is at all events simpler than that advocated by the majority of critics, who have felt the force of the objections against exilic authorship, and have accordingly supposed that the passage (or its original) was written at some time previous to the Captivity and borrowed by the great prophet of the Exile as a warning against idolatrous tendencies which still manifested themselves in Babylon. (See further Introduction, pp. lvii, lix). The connexion between this section and the preceding would be explained by the fact that the Jewish aristocracy cultivated friendly relations with the Samaritans; there was a serious danger that the struggling Jewish community should by these alliances be dragged down to the level of their semi-pagan neighbours.Verses 3-14. - ISRAEL SEVERELY REBUKED FOR IDOLATRY. Though Hezekiah had made a great reformation of religion when he ascended the throne(2 Kings 18:4; 2 Chronicles 29:3-19), and had done his best to put down idolatry, yet it was still dear to large numbers among the people, and was easily revived by Manasseh in the earlier portion of his reign (2 Chronicles 33:2-9). Isaiah now rebukes various kinds of idolatrous practices, and shows the vanity of them. Verse 3. - Draw near hither. Approach, to hear the reprimand which ye so well deserve. Ye sons of the sorceress; rather, of a sorceress. Judah herself, the nation, is the" sorceress" and "adulteress," whose individual children are summoned to draw near. She is an adulteress; for she has transgressed against the mystic marriage-tie which bound her to Jehovah (see Isaiah 54:5, and the comment ad lot.). She is also a "sorceress," since she has bewitched her children, and given herself up to magical as well as to idolatrous practices (2 Chronicles 33:6). Seed of the adulterer and the whore; rather, seed of an adulteress, and that thyself committest whoredom. The congenital tendency has broken out into act. The Israel addressed is as "adulterous," i.e. idolatrous, as the Israel of former times. It is a question whether Isaiah 56:9 forms the commencement of a fresh prophecy, or merely the second half of the prophecy contained in Isaiah 56:1-8. We decide, for our part, in favour of the former. If Isaiah 56:9. formed an antithetical second half to the promising first half in Isaiah 56:1-8, we should expect to find the prophets and leaders of Israel, whose licentiousness and want of principle are here so severely condemned, threatened with destruction in the heathen land, whilst true proselytes and even eunuchs were brought to the holy mountain. But we meet with this antithesis for the first time in Isaiah 57:13, where we evidently find ourselves in the midst of another prophetic address. And where can that address commence, if not at Isaiah 56:9, from which point onwards we have that hard, dull, sharp, and concise language of strong indignation, which recals to mind psalms written "in a thundering style" (Psalter, i. 80) and the reproachful addresses of Jeremiah, and which passes again in Isaiah 57:11. into the lofty crystalline language peculiar to our prophet's "book of consolation?" The new prophetic address commences, like Isaiah 55:1, with a summons. "All ye beasts of the field, come near! To devour, all ye beasts in the forest!" According to the accentuation before us (לכל mercha, כלח־יתו tiphchah), the beasts of the field are summoned to devour the beasts in the forest. This accentuation, however, is false, and must be exchanged for another which is supported by some MSS, viz., לכל tiphchah, כלח־יתו mercha, and ביער Beth raphatum. It is true that even with these accents we might still adhere to the view favoured by Jewish commentators, viz., that the beasts of the field are to be devoured by the beasts of the forest, if this view yielded any admissible sense (compare, for example, that supported by Meyer, "Ye enemies, devour the scattered ones of my congregation"), and had not against it the synonymous parallelism of שדי חיתו and ביער חיתו (Isaiah 43:20; Psalm 104:11, Psalm 104:20; cf., Genesis 3:14). But there remains another view, according to which ביער כל־חיתו is a second vocative answering to שׂדי כל־חיתו. According to the Targum, what is to be devoured is the great body of heathen kings attacking Jerusalem; according to Jerome, Cyril, Stier, etc., the pasture and food provided by the grace of God. But what follows teaches us something different from this. Israel has prophets and shepherds, who are blind to every coming danger, and therefore fail to give warning of its approach, because they are sunken in selfishness and debauchery. It resembles a flock with a keeper, and therefore an easy prey (Ezekiel 34:5); and the meaning of the appeal, which is certainly addressed to the nations of the world, the enemies of the people of God, is this: "Ye have only to draw near; ye can feed undisturbed, and devour as much as ye please." This is the explanation adopted by most of the more modern commentators. In Jeremiah 12:9, which is founded upon this ("Assemble all ye beasts of the field, bring them hither to devour"), it is also Jerusalem which is assigned as food to the heathen. The parallel in Isaiah 56:9 is both synonymous and progressive. The writer seeks for rare forms, because he is about to depict a rare inversion of the proper state of things. חיתו (with the first syllable loosely closed) is the antiquated form of connection, which was admissible even with ביּער following (cf., Isaiah 5:11; Isaiah 9:1-2; 2 Samuel 1:21). On אתיוּ ( equals אתוּ), see at Isaiah 21:12 (cf., Isaiah 21:14).
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