Isaiah 59:12
For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) For our transgressions . . .—The parallelism with the confessions of Daniel (Isaiah 9:5-15) and Ezra (Isaiah 9:6-15) is singularly striking, but is as explicable on the hypothesis that they reproduced that of 2 Isaiah as on the assumption that this also was written at the close of the exile. It would, of course, be as true in the time of Manasseh as at any subsequent period. The self accusations of the people are now, as they ought to be, as full and severe as the prophet’s original indictment had been.

Isaiah 59:12-13. For our transgressions — The word פשׁעונו, here used, signifies sins of a high nature, namely, such as were wilfully committed against light and knowledge; rebellious sins. Are multiplied before thee — They admit of no excuse; for they are committed before thee, and multiplied against thee, whereby thou art justly provoked to deny us all help. And our sins testify against us — The sins charged upon us are so many witnesses produced to prove our guilt. For our transgressions are with us — Are still unforgiven, and we lie under the divine wrath on account of them. As for our iniquities, we know them — We are convinced of them. In transgressing and lying, &c. — He now enumerates some of those particular sins which they profess themselves to be convinced of; by which he does not mean the sins of some particular persons, or some slight sins, but a general defection and corruption of the whole body. Transgressing here, and lying, seem to be one and the same thing, inasmuch as in their transgressing the law of God, they broke their solemn engagement to God, made upon mount Sinai. Departing away from God — Turning from God to idols. Speaking oppression, &c. — As it were, talking of little else one among another, but how to oppress their neighbours, and apostatize from God. Conceiving and uttering — That is, first contriving in their hearts false accusations against their neighbours, and false worship, to the dishonour of God; laying the contrivances so that they might be effectual, and then uttering them; from the heart — And when they dealt with men in ways of fraud, it was from the heart; but when they spake with God, it was but from the lips.

59:9-15 If we shut our eyes against the light of Divine truth, it is just with God to hide from our eyes the things that belong to our peace. The sins of those who profess themselves God's people, are worse than the sins of others. And the sins of a nation bring public judgments, when not restrained by public justice. Men may murmur under calamities, but nothing will truly profit while they reject Christ and his gospel.Our sins testify against us - Hebrew, 'Answer against us.' The idea is, that their past lives had been so depraved that they became witnesses against them (compare the notes at Isaiah 3:9).

We know them - We recognize them as our sins, and we cannot conceal from ourselves the fact that we are transgressors.

12. (Da 9:5, &c.).

thee … us—antithesis.

with us—that is, we are conscious of them (Job 12:3, Margin; Job 15:9).

know—acknowledge they are our iniquities.

Our transgressions: the word here signifies sins of a high nature; such as wherein there is much of man’s will against light; rebellious sins.

Are multiplied before thee: q.d. They admit of no excuse; for they are acted before thee, and multiplied against thee, whereby thou art justly provoked to deny us all help.

Our sins testify; every sin that is charged upon is like so many witnesses produced to prove the guilt of our consciences; or, as the Hebrew word, do answer; and so some make it an elegant metaphorical allusion to the echo, which, as it returns the voice again, so those judgments they cry out of are but the meritorious repercussion of their sins. They had been cruel to others, neither had they executed judgment and justice, and here they suffer all kind of cruelties and indignities from the Chaldeans, as the true and just representation or echo of their own works: see a personal instance in Adoni-bezek, Judges 1:6,7.

Our transgressions are with us, i.e. we lie under the guilt of them, they are a burden to us; God hath not yet forgiven them.

As for our iniquities, we know them; we are convinced of them; our guilty consciences must own and acknowledge them, Psalm 2 3. It notes either their conviction or sorrow, or both. See Jeremiah 14:7. Or, we know what are those sins thou art so angry with us for; and this is favoured by the sequel, where they seem to particularize those sins in the following verses.

For our transgressions are multiplied before thee,.... Not only an increase of immorality among the people in common, but among professors of religion; and as their transgressions are committed against the Lord, so they are in his sight taken notice of and observed by him, are loathsome and abominable to him, and call aloud for his judgments on them:

and our sins testify against us; God is a witness against us, in whose sight our sins are done; and our consciences are witnesses against us, which are as a thousand witnesses; and there is no denying facts; our sins stare us in the face, and we must confess our guilt: or, "our sins answer against us" (c); as witnesses called and examined answer to the questions put, so our sins, being brought as it were into open court, answer and bear testimony against us; or it must be owned, our punishment for our sins answers to them; it is the echo of our sins, what they call for, and righteously comes upon us:

for our transgressions are with us; or, "on us" (d); in our minds, on our consciences, loading us with guilt; continually accusing and condemning us; are manifest to us, as the Targum; too manifest to be denied:

and as for our iniquities, we know them; the nature and number of them, and the aggravating circumstances that attend them; and cannot but own and acknowledge them, confess, lament, and bewail them; an enumeration of which follows.

(c) "peccata nostra respondit contra nos", Montanus; "id ipsum respondit contra nos", Cocceius; "even everyone of them", so Junius & Tremellius; "peccatorum nostrorum quodque", sic (d) "super nos", Munster.

For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our {k} sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;

(k) This confession is general to the Church to obtain remission of sins, and the prophets did not exempt themselves from the same.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. our sins testify against us] So Jeremiah 14:7.

our transgressions are with us] present to our conscience, Job 12:3; Job 14:5 &c.; comp. also Psalm 51:3 (“my transgressions I know, and my sin is before me continually”).

Verse 12. - Our transgressions are multiplied before thee; i.e. they are very numerous; and they come "before God," so as to attract his attention and call for his animadversion. Our sins testify against us; i.e. "rise up against us as witnesses, whose evidence we cannot disprove, and have not even the face to dispute." Our transgressions are with us - i.e. "constantly haunt us" - and as for our iniquities, we know them; i.e. we are aware of them, we acknowledge them, we have them continually in our memories. It is one of the most certain phenomena of consciousness that grievous sins, deadly sins, haunt the mind, and cannot in this life be wiped out from the memory. Isaiah 59:12The people have already indicated by על־כּן in Isaiah 59:9 that this benighted, hopeless state is the consequence of their prevailing sins; they now come back to this, and strike the note of penitence (viddui), which is easily recognised by the recurring rhymes ānu and ênu. The prophet makes the confession (as in Jeremiah 14:19-20, cf., Isaiah 3:21.), standing at the head of the people as the leader of their prayer (ba‛al tephillâh): "For our transgressions are many before Thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are known to us, and our evil deeds well known: apostasy and denial of Jehovah, and turning back from following our God, oppressive and false speaking, receiving and giving out from the heart words of falsehood." The people acknowledge the multitude and magnitude of their apostate deeds, which are the object of the omniscience of God, and their sins which bear witness against them (ענתה the predicate of a neuter plural; Ges. 146, 3). The second כּי resumes the first: "our apostate deeds are with us (את as in Job 12:3; cf., עם, Job 15:9), i.e., we are conscious of them; and our misdeeds, we know them" (ידענוּם for ידענון, as in Genesis 41:21, cf., Isaiah 59:8, and with ע, as is always the case with verbs ל ע before נ, and with a suffix; Ewald, 60). The sins are now enumerated in Isaiah 59:13 in abstract infinitive forms. At the head stands apostasy in thought and deed, which is expressed as a threefold sin. בּה (of Jehovah) belongs to both the "apostasy" (treachery; e.g., Isaiah 1:2) and the "denial" (Jeremiah 5:12). נסוג is an inf. abs. (different from Psalm 80:19). Then follow sins against the neighbour: viz., such speaking as leads to oppression, and consists of sârâh, that which deviates from or is opposed to the law and truth (Deuteronomy 19:16); also the conception (concipere) of lying words, and the utterance of them from the heart in which they are conceived (Matthew 15:18; Matthew 12:35). הרו and הגו are the only poel infinitives which occur in the Old Testament, just as שׁושׂתי (Isaiah 10:13) is the only example of a poel perfect of a verb ל ה. The pol is suitable throughout this passage, because the action expressed affects others, and is intended to do them harm. According to Ewald, the poel indicates the object or tendency: it is the conjugation employed to denote seeking, attacking, or laying hold of; e.g., לושׁן, lingua petere, i.e., to calumniate; עוין, oculo petere, i.e., to envy.
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