Isaiah 65:1
I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.
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(1) I am sought of them . . .—Is this the answer to the previous prayer? Most commentators say “Yes;” but there is, at least, an apparent absence of continuous sequence. A more probable view is that it was written after an interval more or less considerable, and that the prophet utters what had been revealed to him as explaining why the plaintive appeal of Isaiah 64:12 did not meet at once with the answer that might have been looked for.

A further question meets us, which has received different answers. Do the opening words speak, as St. Paul implies they do, of the calling of the Gentiles, contrasting their faith with the unbelief of Israel (Romans 10:20)? Taking the text as it stands, the most natural interpretation (there being no reference afterwards to the Gentiles) seems to be that Jehovah speaks to the same people in Isaiah 65:1-2, and that both alike speak of indifference and hardness. On this view the words may be translated, I was ready to answer those who did not enquire, was nigh at hand to be discovered by those who did not seek. . . . Such words were a true description of the state of Israel, as they have been of Christian Churches since, and are in close agreement with what follows. On this view St. Paul’s free use of the LXX. rendering must be looked on as analogous to the like application of Hosea 1:10; Hosea 2:1, by him (Romans 9:25-26) and by St. Peter (1Peter 2:10), though in these instances it is beyond question that the words primarily referred to the Jews, and not to the Gentiles.

A nation that was not called by my name.—Better, with the LXX., as in Isaiah 43:22; Isaiah 64:7, that has not called on my name. The meaning, on either rendering, is that Israel has sunk to the level of the heathen.

Isaiah 65:1. That in the primary sense of this text it is a prophecy of the conversion of the Gentiles, upon the rejection of the Jews, for their contempt and crucifying of Christ, cannot be doubted by any, who will not arrogate to themselves a greater ability to interpret the prophecies of the Old Testament than St. Paul had, who, Romans 10:20, expressly so interprets it, and applies it; which shows the vanity of the Jews in their other interpretations of it. I am sought — Hebrew, נדרשׁתי, literally, diligent inquiry is made after me; or, I am diligently inquired of. Vitringa renders it, “Quæsitus sum cum effectu;” I am sought so as to be found. The LXX. read, εμφανης εγενηθην, I am made manifest, or, made known, as Bishop Lowth translates it; to them that asked not for me — That in times past made no inquiry after me; I am now found by them that formerly sought me not. I said, Behold me, behold me — I invited whole nations, by the preaching of my gospel, to behold me, and that with importunity, reiterating my calls and entreaties; and this I did unto a nation not called by my name, with which I was not in covenant, and which did not profess any relation to me. The prophet speaks of what was to take place some hundreds of years afterward, as if it were a thing already done, to signify the certainty of it.

65:1-7 The Gentiles came to seek God, and find him, because they were first sought and found of him. Often he meets some thoughtless trifler or profligate opposer, and says to him, Behold me; and a speedy change takes place. All the gospel day, Christ waited to be gracious. The Jews were bidden, but would not come. It is not without cause they are rejected of God. They would do what most pleased them. They grieved, they vexed the Holy Spirit. They forsook God's temple, and sacrificed in groves. They cared not for the distinction between clean and unclean meats, before it was taken away by the gospel. Perhaps this is put for all forbidden pleasures, and all that is thought to be gotten by sin, that abominable thing which the Lord hates. Christ denounced many woes against the pride and hypocrisy of the Jews. The proof against them is plain. And let us watch against pride and self-preference, remembering that every sin, and the most secret thoughts of man's heart, are known and will be judged by God.I am sought of them that asked not for me - That is, by the Gentiles. So Paul applies it in Romans 10:20. Lowth translates the word which is rendered, 'I am sought,' by 'I am made known.' Noyes, 'I have heard.' The Septuagint renders it, Ἐμφανὴς ἐγενήθην Emphanēs egenēthēn - 'I became manifest.' Jerome, 'They sought me who had not before inquired for me.' The Chaldee, 'I am sought in my word by those who had not asked me before my face.' The Hebrew word דרשׁ dârash means properly "to frequent a place, to search or seek"; and in the Niphal - the form used here - "to be sought unto, to grant access to anyone; hence, to hear and answer prayer" Ezekiel 14:3; Ezekiel 20:3-31. Here there is not only the idea that he was sought, but that they obtained access to him, for he listened to their supplications. The phrase, 'That asked not for me,' means that they had not been accustomed to worship the true God. The idea is, that those had obtained mercy who had not been accustomed to call upon him.

I am found of them - Paul has rendered this Romans 10:20, Ἐμφανὴς ἐγενόμην Emphanēs egenomēn - 'I was made manifest.' The idea is, that they obtained his favor.

I said, Behold me, behold me - I offered them my favor, and invited them to partake of salvation. Paul has omitted this in his quotation.

Unto a nation - This does not refer to any particular nation, but to people who had never been admitted to favor with God.

That was not called by my name - (See the notes at Isaiah 63:19).


Isa 65:1-25. God's Reply in Justification of His Dealings with Israel.

In Isa 64:9, their plea was, "we are all Thy people." In answer, God declares that others (Gentiles) would be taken into covenant with Him, while His ancient people would be rejected. The Jews were slow to believe this; hence Paul says (Ro 10:20) that Isaiah was "very bold" in advancing so unpopular a sentiment; he implies what Paul states (Ro 2:28; 9:6, 7; 11:1-31), that "they are not all (in opposition to the Jews' plea, Isa 64:9) Israel which are of Israel." God's reason for so severely dealing with Israel is not changeableness in Him, but sin in them (Isa 65:2-7). Yet the whole nation shall not be destroyed, but only the wicked; a remnant shall be saved (Isa 65:8-10, 11-16). There shall be, finally, universal blessedness to Israel, such as they had prayed for (Isa 65:17-25).

1. I am sought—Hebrew, "I have granted access unto Me to them," &c. (so Eze 14:3, "Should I be inquired of"; Eph 2:18).

found—Ro 10:20 renders this, "I was made manifest." As an instance of the sentiment in the clause, "I am sought," &c., see Joh 12:21; of the sentiment in this clause, Ac 9:5. Compare as to the Gentile converts, Eph 2:12, 13.

Behold me—(Isa 45:22).

nation … not called by my name—that is, the Gentiles. God retorts in their own words (Isa 63:19) that their plea as being exclusively "called by His name" will not avail, for God's gospel invitation is not so exclusive (Ro 9:25; 1:16).The calling of the Gentiles, Isaiah 65:1. The Jews, for their incredulity, idolatry, and hypocrisy, rejected, Isaiah 65:2-7. A remnant shall be saved, Isaiah 65:8-10. Judgments on the wicked, and blessings on the godly, Isaiah 65:11-16. The flourishing and peaceable state of the new Jerusalem, Isaiah 65:17-25.

That in the primary sense of this text it is a prophecy of the conversion of the Gentiles, upon the rejection of the Jews, for their contempt and crucifying of Christ, cannot be doubted by any who will not arrogate to themselves a greater ability to interpret the prophecies of the Old Testament than Paul had, who, Romans 10:20, expressly so interpreteth it, and applieth it, which showeth the vanity of the Jews in their other interpretations of it.

I am sought: the word signifies properly a diligent inquiry in things relating to God, 2 Chronicles 14:4 Psalm 34:4 Jeremiah 37:7. I am diligently inquired of by them that asked not for me; that in times before made no inquiry after me (as the Gentiles, who are said to be without God in the world, Ephesians 2:12). As seeking may more strictly relate to prayer, as the word is used, Isaiah 55:6, so this word translated asked may also be so taken, and is so, 1 Samuel 1:20 22:13, but (possibly) it is better interpreted more generally.

I am found of them that sought me not; yea, I was found of them before they sought me; those who formerly did not seek me now seek me; but they were found of me before they

sought me; I prevented them by my grace, sending my Son to preach peace to those that were afar off, Ephesians 2:17, and my apostles to entreat them to be reconciled to God, 2 Corinthians 5:20, and my Spirit to convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, John 16:8.

I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name; I invited whole nations by the preaching of my gospel to behold me; and I invited them with importunity, doubling my words upon them; and this I did unto a

nation not called by my name, with whom I was not in covenant, and which did not profess any relation to me, which none of the Gentiles could pretend unto. The prophet speaks of a thing to come many years after as if it were a thing then done, to signify the certainty of it. God doth the same thing yet in every soul that is converted. But the text is manifestly to be interpreted of the conversion of the Gentiles.

I am sought of them that asked not for me,.... That this is a prophecy of the calling and conversion of the Gentiles is not to be doubted, since the Apostle Paul has quoted it, and applied it to that case, Romans 10:20 and is here mentioned as an aggravation of the sin of the Jews, in rejecting Christ, when the Gentiles received him; and was the reason of their being rejected of God, and the Gospel being taken away from them, and given to another people, and of the Lord's removing his presence from the one to the other. The Gentiles are described as those that "asked not for" Christ, or after him, as the apostle supplies it; they had not asked for him, nor after him, nor anything about him; nor of him "before" this time, as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; they were without Christ, the promises and prophecies concerning him; and so had no knowledge of him, nor made any inquiry about him, who or what he was; they did not ask after his coming, or for it; did not desire it, or him, and were in no expectation of it; they asked no favour of him, nor saw any need of him, or worth in him; and yet now he was "sought of them"; or, as the apostle has it, "was made manifest unto them"; and so the Septuagint version; that is, he was manifested to them in the Gospel, and by the ministry of it; which is a revelation of him, of salvation by him, of justification by his righteousness, of peace and pardon by his blood, of atonement by his sacrifice, and of eternal life through him; and the words will bear to be rendered, "I was preached unto them": for from this word are derived others (g), which signify an expounder, and an interpretation, or exposition; and this was matter of fact, that Christ was preached to the Gentiles upon the Jews' rejection of him, which is one branch of the mystery of godliness, 1 Timothy 3:16 and upon this he was sought of them: they sought him early and earnestly, and desired to have him and his Gospel preached to them again and again, Acts 13:42 they sought after the knowledge of him, and for an interest in him, and for all grace from him, righteousness, salvation, and eternal life; and for all the supplies of grace, as all sensible sinners do; this they did as soon as he was made manifest to them by the word, and especially as soon as he was revealed in them, or made manifest in their hearts by his Spirit:

I am found of them that sought me not; that had not sought him before the Gospel came to them; they sought the world, and the thing, of it, "for after all these things do the Gentiles seek"; they sought after the wisdom of the world, the vain philosophy of it; "the Greeks seek after wisdom"; and at most and best they only sought after morality and outward righteousness, but not after Christ, till he was set up in the Gospel as an ensign to them, Isaiah 11:10, but being preached in it, they were set a seeking after him, and "found" him in it, of whom it is full; in the doctrines, promises, and ordinances of it; in whom they found righteousness, life, and salvation, food, and plenty of it, rest, spiritual and eternal, and everlasting glory and happiness:

I said, behold me, behold unto a nation that was not called by my name; which still describes the Gentiles, who formerly were not called the people of God, even those who now are, Hosea 2:23, this Christ says to them in the Gospel, whose eyes he opens by his Spirit, to behold the glory of his person, the riches of his grace, his wondrous love and condescension, the abundance of blessings in him, and the complete salvation he has wrought out for sinners; and the words are repeated to show that Christ is only to be beheld, and is always to be looked unto; as well as it declares the heartiness of Christ, and his willingness that sinners should look unto him, and be saved; and all this is a proof of the preventing grace of God in the conversion of men, he is first in it; before they ask anything of him, or about him, or his Son, he manifests himself; he reveals Christ, bestows his grace, and presents them with the blessings of his goodness. R. Moses the priest, as Aben Ezra observes, interprets this of the nations of the world; and that the sense is,

"even to the Gentiles that are not called by my name I am preached;''

which agrees with the apostle's sense of them; See Gill on Romans 10:20.

(g) So, with the Rabbins, is "to preach"; is "a preacher"; is "a sermon"; "the name of a book of sermons"; and "an exposition"; see Buxtorf. Lex. Rab. col. 583, 584.

I am sought by them that {a} asked not for me; I am found by them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, to a nation that was not called by my name.

(a) Meaning, the Gentiles who know not God, would seek him, when he had moved their heart with his Holy Spirit, Ro 10:20.

1, 2. Jehovah’s overtures have been rejected by an obdurate people.

1 Render:  I was to be enquired of by those that asked not, I was to be found by them that sought me not, etc.

The first verb in each line is of the form Niphal, which is to be understood not as a simple passive, but in its tolerative sense: “I let myself be enquired of,” i.e. “I was ready to answer,” exactly as Ezekiel 14:3; Ezekiel 20:3; Ezekiel 20:31; Ezekiel 36:37 : “I let myself be found,” as ch. Isaiah 55:6. Jehovah’s readiness to hear is contrasted with the people’s unwillingness to pray.

Behold me, behold me] Cf. ch. Isaiah 40:9, Isaiah 41:27, Isaiah 52:6, Isaiah 58:9.

that was not called by my name] We should read, changing the vowels in accordance with the Old Versions: that did not call on my name.

Verses 1-7. - ISRAEL'S SUFFERINGS THE JUST MEED OF THEIR SINS. God's mercy is such that it even overflows upon those who are outside the covenant (ver. 1). It has been offered to Israel, but Israel has rejected it. Their rebellion, their idolatries, and their pride have caused, and must continue to cause, their punishment (vers. 2-7). Verse 1. - I am sought; rather, inquired of, or consulted (comp. Ezekiel 14:3; Ezekiel 20:3, 31). The application of the text by St. Paul (Romans 10:20) to the calling of the Gentiles will be felt by all believers in inspiration to preclude the interpretation which supposes Israel to be the subject of ver. 1 no less than of vers. 2-7. I said, Behold me. This was the first step in the conversion of the Gentiles. God called them by his messengers, the apostles and evangelists. A nation that was not called by thy Name (so Gesenius, Delitzsch, Kay, and others). Bishop Lowth, Ewald, Diestel, and Mr. Cheyne, following the Septuagint and other ancient versions, render, "a nation that has not called upon thy Name." But this requires an alteration of the vowel-points, which seems unnecessary. Isaiah 65:1After the people have poured out their heart before Jehovah, He announces what they may expect from Him. But instead of commencing with a promise, as we might anticipate after the foregoing prayer, He begins with reproach and threatening; for although the penitential portion of the community had included the whole nation in their prayer, it was destruction, and not deliverance, which awaited one portion of the nation, and that portion was the greater one. The great mass were in that state of "sin unto death" which defies all intercession (1 John 5:16), because they had so scornfully and obstinately resisted the grace which had been so long and so incessantly offered to them. "I was discernible to those who did not inquire, discoverable by those who did not seek me. I said, 'Here am I, here am I,' to a nation where my name was not called. I spread out my hands all the day to a refractory people, who walked in the way that was not good, after their own thoughts." The lxx (A) render Isaiah 65:1, "I was found by those who did not seek me, I became manifest to those who did not ask for me" (B reverses the order); and in Romans 10:20-21, Paul refers Isaiah 65:1 to the Gentiles, and Isaiah 65:2 to Israel. The former, to whom He has hitherto been strange, enter into fellowship with Him; whilst the latter, to whom He has constantly offered Himself, thrust Him away, and lose His fellowship. Luther accordingly adopts this rendering: "I shall be sought by those who did not ask for me, I shall be found by those who did not seek me. And to the heathen who did not call upon my name, I say, Here am I, here am I." Zwingli, again, observes on Isaiah 65:1, "This is an irresistible testimony to the adoption of the Gentiles." Calvin also follows the apostle's exposition, and observes, that "Paul argues boldly for the calling of the Gentiles on the ground of this passage, and says that Isaiah dared to proclaim and assert that the Gentiles had been called by God, because he announced a greater thing, and announced it more clearly than the reason of those times would bear." Of all the Jewish expositors, where is only one, viz., Gecatilia, who refers v. 1 to the Gentiles; and of all the Christina expositors of modern times, there is only one, viz., Hendewerk, who interprets it in this way, without having been influenced by the quotation made by Paul. Hofman, however, and Stier, feel obliged to follow the apostle's exposition, and endeavour to vindicate it. But we have no sympathy with any such untenable efforts to save the apostle's honour. In Romans 9:25-26, he also quotes Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 2:1 in support of the calling of the Gentiles; whereas he could not have failed to know, that it is the restoration of Israel to favour which is alluded to there. He merely appeals to Hosea 2 in support of the New Testament fact of the calling of the Gentiles, so far as it is in these words of the Old Testament prophet that the fact is most adequately expressed. And according to 1 Peter 2:10, Peter received the same impression from Hosea's words.

But with the passage before us it is very different. The apostle shows, by the way in which he applies the Scripture, how he depended in this instance upon the Septuagint translation, which was in his own hands and those of his readers also, and by which the allusion to the Gentiles is naturally suggested, even if not actually demanded. And we may also assume that the apostle himself understood the Hebrew text, with which he, the pupil of Rabban Gamaliel, was of course well acquainted, in the same sense, viz., as relating to the calling of the Gentiles, without being therefore legally bound to adopt the same interpretation. The interchange of גּוי (cf., Isaiah 55:5) and עם; the attribute בשׁים קרא לא, which applies to heathen, and heathen only; the possibility of interpreting Isaiah 65:1-2, in harmony with the context both before and after, if Isaiah 65:1 be taken as referring to the Gentiles, on the supposition that Jehovah is here contrasting His success with the Gentiles and His failure with Israel: all these certainly throw weight into the scale. Nevertheless they are not decisive, if we look at the Hebrew alone, apart altogether from the lxx. For nidrashtı̄ does not mean "I have become manifest;" but, regarded as the so-called niphal tolerativum (according to Ezekiel 14:3; Ezekiel 20:3, Ezekiel 20:31; Ezekiel 36:37), "I permitted myself to be explored or found out;" and consequently נמצאתי, according to Isaiah 55:6, "I let myself be found." And so explained, Isaiah 65:1 stands in a parallel relation to Isaiah 55:6 : Jehovah was searchable, was discoverable (cf., Zephaniah 1:6) to those who asked no questions, and did not seek Him (ללוא equals לא לאשׁר, Ges. 123, 3), i.e., He displayed to Israel the fulness of His nature and the possibility of His fellowship, although they did not bestir themselves or trouble themselves in the least about Him - a view which is confirmed by the fact that Isaiah 65:1 merely refers to offers made to them, and not to results of any kind. Israel, however, is called בשׁמי אל־קרא גוי, not as a nation that was not called by Jehovah's name (which would be expressed by נקרא, Isaiah 43:7; cf., מקראי, κλητός μου, Isaiah 48:12), but as a nation where (supply 'ăsher) Jehovah's name was not invoked (lxx "who called not upon my name"), and therefore as a thoroughly heathenish nation; for which reason we have gōi (lxx ἔθνος) here, and not ‛am (lxx λαός). Israel was estranged from Him, just like the heathen; but He still turned towards them with infinite patience, and (as is added in Isaiah 65:2) with ever open arms of love. He spread out His hands (as a man does to draw another towards him to embrace him) all the day (i.e., continually, cf., Isaiah 28:24) towards an obstinate people, who walked in the way that was not good (cf., Psalm 36:5; Proverbs 16:29; here with the article, which could not be repeated with the adjective, because of the לא), behind their own thoughts. That which led them, and which they followed, was not the will of God, but selfish views and purposes, according to their won hearts' lusts; and yet Jehovah did not let them alone, but they were the constant thought and object of His love, which was ever seeking, alluring, and longing for their salvation.

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