Isaiah 64:11
Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised you, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste.
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(11) Our holy and our beautiful house . . .—The destruction of the Temple, which, on the assumption of Isaiah’s authorship, the prophet sees in vision, with all its historic memories, comes as the climax of suffering, and, therefore, of the appeal to the compassion of Jehovah.

All our pleasant things . . .—Probably, as in 2Chronicles 36:19, the precincts, porticoes, and other “goodly buildings” of the Temple.

64:6-12 The people of God, in affliction, confess and bewail their sins, owning themselves unworthy of his mercy. Sin is that abominable thing which the Lord hates. Our deeds, whatever they may seem to be, if we think to merit by them at God's hand, are as rags, and will not cover us; filthy rags, and will but defile us. Even our few good works in which there is real excellence, as fruits of the Spirit, are so defective and defiled as done by us, that they need to be washed in the fountain open for sin and uncleanness. It bodes ill when prayer is kept back. To pray, is by faith to take hold of the promises the Lord has made of his good-will to us, and to plead them; to take hold of him, earnestly begging him not to leave us; or soliciting his return. They brought their troubles upon themselves by their own folly. Sinners are blasted, and then carried away, by the wind of their own iniquity; it withers and then ruins them. When they made themselves as an unclean thing, no wonder that God loathed them. Foolish and careless as we are, poor and despised, yet still Thou art our Father. It is the wrath of a Father we are under, who will be reconciled; and the relief our case requires is expected only from him. They refer themselves to God. They do not say, Lord, rebuke us not, for that may be necessary; but, Not in thy displeasure. They state their lamentable condition. See what ruin sin brings upon a people; and an outward profession of holiness will be no defence against it. God's people presume not to tell him what he shall say, but their prayer is, Speak for the comfort and relief of thy people. How few call upon the Lord with their whole hearts, or stir themselves to lay hold upon him! God may delay for a time to answer our prayers, but he will, in the end, answer those who call on his name and hope in his mercy.Our holy and our beautiful house - The temple. It was called 'holy,' because it was dedicated to the service of God; and 'beautiful,' on account of its extraordinary magnificence. The original word more properly means glorious.

Where our fathers praised thee - Few attachments become stronger than that which is formed for a place of worship where our ancestors have long been engaged in the service of God. It was now a great aggravation of their sufferings, that that beautiful place, consecrated by the fact that their forefathers had long there offered praise to God, was lying in ruins.

Is burned up with fire - (See 2 Chronicles 36:19).

And all our pleasant things - All that is precious to us (Hebrew); all the objects of our desire. The reference is to their temples, their homes, their city - to all that was dear to them in their native land. It would be difficult to find a passage anywhere in the Bible - or out of it - that equals this for tenderness and true pathos. They were an exiled people; long suffering in a distant land with the reflection that their homes were in ruins; their splendid temple long since fired and lying in desolation; the rank grass growing in their streets, and their whole country overrun with wild beasts, and with a rank and unsubdued vegetation. To that land they longed to return, and here with the deepest emotion they plead with God in behalf of their desolate country. The sentiment here is, that we should go to God with deep emotion when his church is prostrate, and that then is the time when we should use the most tender pleadings, and when our hearts should be melted within us.

11. house—the temple.

beautiful—includes the idea of glorious (Mr 13:1; Ac 3:2).

burned—(Ps 74:7; La 2:7; 2Ch 36:19). Its destruction under Nebuchadnezzar prefigured that under Titus.

pleasant things—Hebrew, "objects of desire"; our homes, our city, and all its dear associations.

Our holy and our beautiful house; the temple, Isaiah 60:7: q.d. Not only our cities, and our principal cities, but even our temple, which we thought sacred and inviolable, in which we have gloried, because it was thine, and our fathers, and ours, the place where thy holy service was performed, and thy glory and presence was manifested.

Our fathers; not presuming to mention themselves, they had been so every way abominable, but their fathers.

All our pleasant things; the king’s palace, and the houses of the nobles, and other places of state and magnificence, 2 Kings 25:9 Lamentations 1:7,10; or, their synagogues; or, those stately pieces about the temple. Our holy and our beautiful house,.... Meaning the temple, the house of God, as Aben Ezra: called "holy", because dedicated to holy uses; where the holy sacrifices were offered up, the holy service of God performed; and where the holy God granted his presence, and where were the symbols of it: and "beautiful", in its building, as the first temple was that was built by Solomon; but here the second temple is meant, built by Zerubbabel, which being repaired and beautified by Herod, was a very beautiful building; and the Jews say (d), that

"he who has not seen the building of Herod has never seen a beautiful building;''

or it may be rendered, "the house of our holiness, and of our glory" (e); where their holy services were performed, and which was the glory of their nation, and on which they gloried and boasted:

where our fathers praised thee: with psalms and songs; the singers in the temple, as Aben Ezra; and the priests and all the people also, who, by their various services, as well as songs, gave praise and glory to God in this place; they do not mention their own services and praises, which they had been very negligent of, or not sincerely performed; but their fathers, which had been acceptable to the Lord, and therefore would bear mentioning when theirs would not: now this place, in which the glory of God and the interest of his people were concerned,

is burnt up with fire; this is true, as Kimchi observes, both of the first and second temple; the first was burnt with fire by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Jeremiah 52:13, and the second by the Romans under Titus the man emperor, as Josephus (f) relates:

and all our pleasant things are laid waste; their pleasant land, and pleasant cities, and especially Jerusalem, the palaces of their princes and nobles, and all the riches and grandeur of them, the temple, and all the rich vessels and utensils in it.

(d) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 4. 1. & Succa, fol. 51. 2.((e) "domus sanctitatis nostae, et gloriae nostrae", Calvin, Junius & Tremellius, Forerius. (f) De Bello Judaeorum, l. 6. c. 4. sect. 2.

Our holy and our beautiful house, {m} where our fathers praised thee, is burned with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste.

(m) In which we rejoiced and worshipped you.

11. The reference must apparently be to the first Temple and its destruction by the Chaldæans. The expression, and indeed the whole tone of the passage, suggest an event not quite recent; it is not the present generation, but their fathers who praised God in the “holy and beautiful house.” The question then comes to be whether this could have been said after the erection of Zerubbabel’s Temple. In spite of the tendency to hyperbolical language which marks the prayer, and the painful contrast between the magnificence of the first Temple and the poverty of the second, it is difficult to think that the author should absolutely ignore the existence of the sanctuary if it had been restored. See Introductory note.

is burned with fire] Lit. “has become a burning of fire”; cf. ch. Isaiah 9:5.

our pleasant things] Rather, our desirable places; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:19; Lamentations 1:10; Ezekiel 24:21; Ezekiel 24:25.Verse 11. - Our holy and our beautiful house. This is the true meaning. The exiles have the tenderest and most vivid remembrance of the holiness and the beauty (or glory) of that edifice, which had formed the centre of the national life for above four centuries, and had been a marvel of richness and magnificence. Many of them had seen it with their own eyes (Ezra 3:12), and could never forget its splendours. Where our fathers praised thee. Though in the later times of the Captivity there were still some of the exiles who had seen the temple, and probably worshipped in it, yet with the great majority it was otherwise. They thought of the temple as the place where their "fathers" had worshipped. Burned up with fire (see 2 Kings 25:9; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Jeremiah 52:13). Our pleasant things; or, our delectable things - as in Isaiah 44:9; the courts, gardens, outbuildings of the temple, are probably meant. The people who ask the question in Isaiah 64:5 do not regard themselves as worthy of redemption, as their self-righteousness has been so thoroughly put to shame. "We all became like the unclean thing, and all our virtues like a garment soiled with blood; and we all faded away together like the leaves; and our iniquities, like the storm they carried us away." The whole nation is like one whom the law pronounces unclean, like a leper, who has to cry "tâmē, tâmē "as he goes along, that men may get out of his way (Leviticus 13:45). Doing right in all its manifold forms (tsedâqōth, like Isaiah 33:15, used elsewhere of the manifestations of divine righteousness), which once made Israel well-pleasing to God (Isaiah 1:21), has disappeared and become like a garment stained with menstruous discharge (cf., Ezekiel 36:17); (lxx ὡς ῥάκος ἀποκαθημένης equals dâvâ, Isaiah 30:22; niddâh, Lamentations 1:17; temē'âh, Leviticus 15:33). ‛Iddı̄m (used thus in the plural in the Talmud also) signifies the monthly period (menstrua). In the third figure, that of fading falling foliage, the form vannâbhel is not kal ( equals vannibbōl or vannibbal; Ewald, 232, b), which would be an impossibility according to the laws of inflexion; still less is it niphal equals vanninnâbhel (which Kimchi suggests as an alternative); but certainly a hiphil. It is not, however, from nâbhēl equals vannabbel, "with the reduplication dropped to express the idea of something gradual," as Bttcher proposes (a new and arbitrary explanation in the place of one founded upon the simple laws of inflexion), but either from bâlal (compare the remarks on belı̄l in Isaiah 30:24, which hardly signifies "ripe barley" however), after the form ויּגל (from גּלל) ויּסך (from סכך), or from būl, after the form ויּקם, etc. In any case, therefore, it is a metaplastic formation, whether from bâlal or būl equals nâbhēl, like ויּשׂר (in 1 Chronicles 20:3, after the form ויּסר, from שּׂור equals נשׂר, or after the form ויּרע, from שׂרר equals נשׂר (compare the rabbinical explanation of the name of the month Bul from the falling of the leaves, in Buxtorf, Lex. talm. col. 271). The hiphil הבל or הביל is to be compared to האדים, to stream out red ( equals to be red); האריך, to make an extension ( equals to be long); השׁרישׁ, to strike root ( equals to root), etc., and signifies literally to produce a fading ( equals to fade away). In the fourth figure, עוננוּ (as it is also written in Isaiah 64:6 according to correct codices) is a defective plural (as in Jeremiah 14:7; Ezekiel 28:18; Daniel 9:13) for the more usual עונתינוּ (Isaiah 59:12). עון is the usual term applied to sin regarded as guilt, which produces punishment of itself. The people were robbed by their sins of all vital strength and energy, like dry leaves, which the guilt and punishment springing from sin carried off as a very easy prey.
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