Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH. Commentary by A. R. Faussett
Isaiah, son of Amoz (not Amos); contemporary of Jonah, Amos, Hosea, in Israel, but younger than they; and of Micah, in Judah. His call to a higher degree of the prophetic office (Isa 6:1-13) is assigned to the last year of Uzziah, that is, 754 B.C. The first through fifth chapters belong to the closing years of that reign; not, as some think, to Jotham's reign: in the reign of the latter he seems to have exercised his office only orally, and not to have left any record of his prophecies because they were not intended for all ages. The first through fifth and sixth chapters are all that was designed for the Church universal of the prophecies of the first twenty years of his office. New historical epochs, such as occurred in the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah, when the affairs of Israel became interwoven with those of the Asiatic empires, are marked by prophetic writings. The prophets had now to interpret the judgments of the Lord, so as to make the people conscious of His punitive justice, as also of His mercy. Isa 7:1-10:4 belong to the reign of Ahaz. The thirty-sixth through thirty-ninth chapters are historical, reaching to the fifteenth year of Hezekiah; probably the tenth through twelfth chapters and all from the thirteenth through twenty-sixth chapters, inclusive, belong to the same reign; the historical section being appended to facilitate the right understanding of these prophecies; thus we have Isaiah's office extending from about 760 to 713 B.C., forty-seven years. Tradition (Talmud) represents him as having been sawn asunder by Manasseh with a wooden saw, for having said that he had seen Jehovah (Ex 33:20; 2Ki 21:16; Heb 11:37). 2Ch 32:32 seems to imply that Isaiah survived Hezekiah; but "first and last" is not added, as in 2Ch 26:22, which makes it possible that his history of Hezekiah was only carried up to a certain point. The second part, the fortieth through sixty-sixth chapters, containing complaints of gross idolatry, needs not to be restricted to Manasseh's reign, but is applicable to previous reigns. At the accession of Manasseh, Isaiah would be eighty-four; and if he prophesied for eight years afterwards, he must have endured martyrdom at ninety-two; so Hosea prophesied for sixty years. And Eastern tradition reports that he lived to one hundred and twenty. The conclusive argument against the tradition is that, according to the inscription, all Isaiah's prophecies are included in the time from Uzziah to Hezekiah; and the internal evidence accords with this.
His Wife is called the prophetess [Isa 8:3], that is, endowed, as Miriam, with a prophetic gift.
His Children were considered by him as not belonging merely to himself; in their names, Shearjashub, "the remnant shall return" [Isa 7:3, Margin], and Maher-shalal-hash-baz, "speeding to the spoil, he hasteth to the prey" [Isa 8:1, Margin], the two chief points of his prophecies are intimated to the people, the judgments of the Lord on the people and the world, and yet His mercy to the elect.
His Garment of sackcloth (Isa 20:2), too, was a silent preaching by fact; he appears as the embodiment of that repentance which he taught.
His Historical Works.—History, as written by the prophets, is retroverted prophecy. As the past and future alike proceed from the essence of God, an inspired insight into the past implies an insight into the future, and vice versa. Hence most of the Old Testament histories are written by prophets and are classed with their writings; the Chronicles being not so classed, cannot have been written by them, but are taken from historical monographs of theirs; for example, Isaiah's life of Uzziah, 2Ch 26:22; also of Hezekiah, 2Ch 32:32; of these latter all that was important for all ages has been preserved to us, while the rest, which was local and temporary, has been lost.
The Inscription (Isa 1:1) applies to the whole book and implies that Isaiah is the author of the second part (the fortieth through sixty-sixth chapters), as well as of the first. Nor do the words, "concerning Judah and Jerusalem" [Isa 1:1], oppose the idea that the inscription applies to the whole; for whatever he says against other nations, he says on account of their relation to Judah. So the inscription of Amos, "concerning Israel" [Am 1:1], though several prophecies follow against foreign nations. Ewald maintains that the fortieth through sixty-sixth chapters, though spurious, were subjoined to the previous portion, in order to preserve the former. But it is untrue that the first portion is unconnected with those chapters. The former ends with the Babylonian exile (Isa 39:6), the latter begins with the coming redemption from it. The portion, the fortieth through forty-sixth chapters, has no heading of its own, a proof that it is closely connected with what precedes, and falls under the general heading in Isa 1:1. Josephus (The Antiquities of the Jews, 11. 1, sec. 1, 2) says that Cyrus was induced by the prophecies of Isaiah (Isa 44:28; 45:1, 13) to aid the Jews in returning and rebuilding the temple Ezr 1:1-11 confirms this; Cyrus in his edict there plainly refers to the prophecies in the second portion, which assign the kingdoms to him from Jehovah, and the duty of rebuilding the temple. Probably he took from them his historical name Cyrus (Coresh). Moreover, subsequent prophets imitate this second portion, which Ewald assigns to later times; for example, compare Jer 50:1-51:64 with Isaiah's predictions against Babylon [Is 13:1-14:23]. "The Holy One of Israel," occurring but three times elsewhere in the Old Testament [2Ki 19:22; Ps 78:41; 89:18; Jer 50:29; 51:5], is a favorite expression in the second, as in the first portion of Isaiah: it expresses God's covenant faithfulness in fulfilling the promises therein: Jeremiah borrows the expression from him. Also Ecclesiasticus 48:22-25 ("comforted"), quotes Isa 40:1 as Isaiah's. Lu 4:17 quotes Isa 61:1, 2 as Isaiah's, and as read as such by Jesus Christ in the synagogue.
The Definiteness of the prophecies is striking: As in the second portion of isaiah, so in Mic 4:8-10, the Babylonian exile, and the deliverance from it, are foretold a hundred fifty years before any hostilities had arisen between Babylon and Judah. On the other hand, all the prophets who foretell the Assyrian invasion coincide in stating, that Judah should be delivered from it, not by Egyptian aid, but directly by the Lord. Again Jeremiah, in the height of the Chaldean prosperity, foretold its conquest by the Medes, who should enter Babylon through the dry bed of the Euphrates on a night of general revelry. No human calculation could have discovered these facts. Eichorn terms these prophecies "veiled historical descriptions," recognizing in spite of himself that they are more than general poetical fancies. The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was certainly written ages before the Messiah, yet it minutely portrays His sufferings: these cannot be Jewish inventions, for the Jews looked for a reigning, not a suffering, Messiah.
Rationalists are so far right that The Prophecies Are on a General Basis whereby they are distinguished from soothsaying. They rest on the essential idea of God. The prophets, penetrated by this inner knowledge of His character, became conscious of the eternal laws by which the world is governed: that sin is man's ruin, and must be followed by judgment, but that God's covenant mercy to His elect is unchangeable. Without prophetism, the elect remnant would have decreased, and even God's judgments would have missed their end, by not being recognized as such: they would have been unmeaning, isolated facts. Babylon was in Isaiah's days under Assyria; it had tried a revolt unsuccessfully: but the elements of its subsequent success and greatness were then existing. The Holy Ghost enlightened his natural powers to discern this its rise; and his spiritual faculties, to foresee its fall, the sure consequence, in God's eternal law, of the pride which pagan success generates—and also Judah's restoration, as the covenant-people, with whom God, according to His essential character, would not be wroth for ever. True conversion is the prophet's grand remedy against all evils: in this alone consists his politics. Rebuke, threatening, and promise, regularly succeed one another. The idea at the basis of all is in Isa 26:7-9; Le 10:3; Am 3:2.
The Use of the Present and Preterite in prophecy is no proof that the author is later than Isaiah. For seers view the future as present, and indicate what is ideally past, not really past; seeing things in the light of God, who "calls the things that are not as though they were." Moreover, as in looking from a height on a landscape, hills seem close together which are really wide apart, so, in events foretold, the order, succession, and grouping are presented, but the intervals of time are overlooked. The time, however, is sometimes marked (Jer 25:12; Da 9:26). Thus the deliverance from Babylon, and that effected by Messiah, are in rapid transition grouped together by THE Law of Prophetic Suggestion; yet no prophet so confounds the two as to make Messiah the leader of Israel from Babylon. To the prophet there was probably no double sense; but to his spiritual eye the two events, though distinct, lay so near, and were so analogous, that he could not separate them in description without unfaithfulness to the picture presented before him. The more remote and antitypical event, however, namely, Messiah's coming, is that to which he always hastens, and which he describes with far more minuteness than he does the nearer type; for example, Cyrus (compare Isa 45:1 with Isa 53:1-12). In some cases he takes his stand in the midst of events between, for example, the humiliation of Jesus Christ, which he views as past, and His glorification, as yet to come, using the future tense as to the latter (compare Isa 53:4-9 with 53:10-12). Marks of the time of events are given sparingly in the prophets: yet, as to Messiah, definitely enough to create the general expectation of Him at the time that He was in fact born.
The Chaldæisms alleged against the genuineness of the second portion of Isaiah, are found more in the first and undoubted portion. They occur in all the Old Testament, especially in the poetical parts, which prefer unusual expressions, and are due to the fact that the patriarchs were surrounded by Chaldee-speaking people; and in Isaiah's time a few Chaldee words had crept in from abroad.
His Symbols are few and simple, and his poetical images correct; in the prophets, during and after the exile, the reverse holds good; Haggai and Malachi are not exceptions; for, though void of bold images, their style, unlike Isaiah's, rises little above prose: a clear proof that our Isaiah was long before the exile.
Of Visions, strictly so called, he has but one, that in the sixth chapter; even it is more simple than those in later prophets. But he often gives Signs, that is, a present fact as pledge of the more distant future; God condescending to the feebleness of man (Isa 7:14; 37:30; 38:7).
The Varieties in His Style do not prove spuriousness, but that he varied his style with his subject. The second portion is not so much addressed to his contemporaries, as to the future people of the Lord, the elect remnant, purified by the previous judgments. Hence its tenderness of style, and frequent repetitions (Isa 40:1): for comforting exhortation uses many words; so also the many epithets added to the name of God, intended as stays whereon faith may rest for comfort, so as not to despair. In both portions alike there are peculiarities characteristic of Isaiah; for example, "to be called" equivalent to to be: the repetition of the same words, instead of synonyms, in the parallel members of verses; the interspersing of his prophecies with hymns: "the remnant of olive trees," &c., for the remnant of people who have escaped God's judgments. Also compare Isa 65:25 with Isa 11:6.
The Chronological Arrangement favors the opinion that Isaiah himself collected his prophecies into the volume; not Hezekiah's men, as the Talmud guesses from Pr 25:1. All the portions, the dates of which can be ascertained, stand in the right place, except a few instances, where prophecies of similar contents are placed together: with the termination of the Assyrian invasion (the thirty-sixth through thirty-ninth chapters) terminated the public life of Isaiah. The second part is his prophetic legacy to the small band of the faithful, analogous to the last speeches of Moses and of Jesus Christ to His chosen disciples.
The Expectation of Messiah is so strong in Isaiah, that Jerome To Paulinus calls his book not a prophecy, but the gospel: "He is not so much a prophet as an evangelist." Messiah was already shadowed forth in Ge 49:10, as the Shiloh, or tranquillizer; also in Psalms 2, 45, 72, 110. Isaiah brings it out more definitely; and, whereas they dwelt on His kingly office, Isaiah develops most His priestly and prophetic office; the hundred tenth Psalm also had set forth His priesthood, but His kingly rather than, as Isaiah, His suffering, priesthood. The latter is especially dwelt on in the second part, addressed to the faithful elect; whereas the first part, addressed to the whole people, dwells on Messiah's glory, the antidote to the fears which then filled the people, and the assurance that the kingdom of God, then represented by Judah, would not be overwhelmed by the surrounding nations.
His Style (Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament,) is simple and sublime; in imagery, intermediate between the poverty of Jeremiah and the exuberance of Ezekiel. He shows his command of it in varying it to suit his subject.
The Form is mostly that of Hebrew poetical parallelism, with, however, a freedom unshackled by undue restrictions.
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
2. The very words of Moses (De 32:1); this implies that the law was the charter and basis of all prophecy (Isa 8:20).
Lord—Jehovah; in Hebrew, "the self-existing and promise-fulfilling, unchangeable One." The Jews never pronounced this holy name, but substituted Adonai. The English Version, Lord in capitals, marks the Hebrew "Jehovah," though Lord is rather equivalent to "Adonai" than "Jehovah."
rebelled—as sons (De 21:18) and as subjects, God being king in the theocracy (Isa 63:10). "Brought up," literally, "elevated," namely, to peculiar privileges (Jer 2:6-8; Ro 9:4, 5).
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
3. (Jer 8:7).
crib—the stall where it is fed (Pr 14:4). Spiritually the word and ordinances.
Israel—The whole nation, Judah as well as Israel, in the restricted sense. God regards His covenant-people in their designed unity.
not know—namely, his Owner, as the parallelism requires; that is, not recognize Him as such (Ex 19:5, equivalent to "my people," Joh 1:10, 11).
consider—attend to his Master (Isa 41:8), notwithstanding the spiritual food which He provides (answering to "crib" in the parallel clause).
Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
4. people—the peculiar designation of God's elect nation (Ho 1:10), that they should be "laden with iniquity" is therefore the more monstrous. Sin is a load (Ps 38:4; Mt 11:28).
seed—another appellation of God's elect (Ge 12:7; Jer 2:21), designed to be a "holy seed" (Isa 6:13), but, awful to say, "evildoers!"
children—by adoption (Ho 11:1), yet "evildoers"; not only so, but "corrupters" of others (Ge 6:12); the climax. So "nation—people—seed children."
provoked—literally, "despised," namely, so as to provoke (Pr 1:30, 31).
Holy One of Israel—the peculiar heinousness of their sin, that it was against their God (Am 3:2).
gone … backward—literally, "estranged" (Ps 58:3).
Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
5. Why—rather, as Vulgate, "On what part." Image from a body covered all over with marks of blows (Ps 38:3). There is no part in which you have not been smitten.
head … sick, &c.—not referring, as it is commonly quoted, to their sins, but to the universality of their punishment. However, sin, the moral disease of the head or intellect, and the heart, is doubtless made its own punishment (Pr 1:31; Jer 2:19; Ho 8:11). "Sick," literally, "is in a state of sickness" [Gesenius]; "has passed into sickness" [Maurer].
From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
6. From the lowest to the highest of the people; "the ancient and honorable, the head, the prophet that teacheth lies, the tail." See Isa 9:13-16. He first states their wretched condition, obvious to all (Isa 1:6-9); and then, not previously, their irreligious state, the cause of it.
wounds—judicially inflicted (Ho 5:13).
mollified with ointment—The art of medicine in the East consists chiefly in external applications (Lu 10:34; Jas 5:14).
Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
7. Judah had not in Uzziah's reign recovered from the ravages of the Syrians in Joash's reign (2Ch 24:24), and of Israel in Amaziah's reign (2Ch 25:13, 23, &c.). Compare Isaiah's contemporary (Am 4:6-11), where, as here (Isa 1:9, 10), Israel is compared to "Sodom and Gomorrah," because of the judgments on it by "fire."
in your presence—before your eyes: without your being able to prevent them.
desolate, &c.—literally, "there is desolation, such as one might look for from foreign" invaders.
And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.
8. daughter of Zion—the city (Ps 9:14), Jerusalem and its inhabitants (2Ki 19:21): "daughter" (feminine, singular being used as a neuter collective noun), equivalent to sons (Isa 12:6, Margin) [Maurer]. Metropolis or "mother-city" is the corresponding term. The idea of youthful beauty is included in "daughter."
left—as a remnant escaping the general destruction.
cottage—a hut, made to give temporary shelter to the caretaker of the vineyard.
besieged—rather, as "left," and Isa 1:9 require, preserved, namely, from the desolation all round [Maurer].
Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
9. Jehovah of Sabaoth, that is, God of the angelic and starry hosts (Ps 59:5; 147:4; 148:2). The latter were objects of idolatry, called hence Sabaism (2Ki 17:16). God is above even them (1Ch 16:26). "The groves" were symbols of these starry hosts; it was their worship of Sabaoth instead of the Lord of Sabaoth, which had caused the present desolation (2Ch 24:18). It needed no less a power than His, to preserve even a "remnant." Condescending grace for the elect's sake, since He has no need of us, seeing that He has countless hosts to serve Him.
Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
10. Sodom—spiritually (Ge 19:24; Jer 23:14; Eze 16:46; Re 11:8).
To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
11. God does not here absolutely disparage sacrifice, which is as old and universal as sin (Ge 3:21; 4:4), and sin is almost as old as the world; but sacrifice, unaccompanied with obedience of heart and life (1Sa 15:22; Ps 50:9-13; 51:16-19; Ho 6:6). Positive precepts are only means; moral obedience is the end. A foreshadowing of the gospel, when the One real sacrifice was to supersede all the shadowy ones, and "bring in everlasting righteousness" (Ps 40:6, 7; Da 9:24-27; Heb 10:1-14).
full—to satiety; weary of
burnt offerings—burnt whole, except the blood, which was sprinkled about the altar.
fat—not to be eaten by man, but burnt on the altar (Le 3:4, 5, 11, 17).
When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
12. appear before me—in the temple where the Shekinah, resting on the ark, was the symbol of God's presence (Ex 23:15; Ps 42:2).
who hath required this—as if you were doing God a service by such hypocritical offerings (Job 35:7). God did require it (Ex 23:17), but not in this spirit (Mic 6:6, 7).
courts—areas, in which the worshippers were. None but priests entered the temple itself.
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
13. oblations—unbloody; "meat (old English sense, not flesh) offerings," that is, of flour, fruits, oil, &c. (Le 2:1-13). Hebrew, mincha.
incense—put upon the sacrifices, and burnt on the altar of incense. Type of prayer (Ps 141:2; Re 8:3).
new moons—observed as festivals (Nu 10:10; 28:11, 14) with sacrifices and blowing of silver trumpets.
sabbaths—both the seventh day and the beginning and closing days of the great feasts (Le 23:24-39).
away with—bear, Maurer translates, "I cannot bear iniquity and the solemn meeting," that is, the meeting associated with iniquity—literally, the closing days of the feasts; so the great days (Le 23:36; Joh 7:37).
Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
14. appointed—the sabbath, passover, pentecost, day of atonement, and feast of tabernacles [Hengstenberg]; they alone were fixed to certain times of the year.
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
15. (Ps 66:18; Pr 28:9; La 3:43, 44).
spread … hands—in prayer (1Ki 8:22). Hebrew, "bloods," for all heinous sins, persecution of God's servants especially (Mt 23:35). It was the vocation of the prophets to dispel the delusion, so contrary to the law itself (De 10:16), that outward ritualism would satisfy God.
Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
16. God saith to the sinner, "Wash you," &c., that he, finding his inability to "make" himself "clean," may cry to God, Wash me, cleanse me (Ps 51:2, 7, 10).
before mine eyes—not mere outward reformation before man's eyes, who cannot, as God, see into the heart (Jer 32:19).
Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
17. seek judgment—justice, as magistrates, instead of seeking bribes (Jer 22:3, 16).
judge—vindicate (Ps 68:5; Jas 1:27).
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
18. God deigns to argue the case with us, that all may see the just, nay, loving principle of His dealings with men (Isa 43:26).
scarlet—the color of Jesus Christ's robe when bearing our "sins" (Mt 27:28). So Rahab's thread (Jos 2:18; compare Le 14:4). The rabbins say that when the lot used to be taken, a scarlet fillet was bound on the scapegoat's head, and after the high priest had confessed his and the people's sins over it, the fillet became white: the miracle ceased, according to them, forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, exactly when Jesus Christ was crucified; a remarkable admission of adversaries. Hebrew for "scarlet" radically means double-dyed; so the deep-fixed permanency of sin in the heart, which no mere tears can wash away.
snow—(Ps 51:7). Repentance is presupposed, before sin can be made white as snow (Isa 1:19, 20); it too is God's gift (Jer 31:18, Lam 5:21, Acts 5:31).
red—refers to "blood" (Isa 1:15).
as wool—restored to its original undyed whiteness. This verse shows that the old fathers did not look only for transitory promises (Article VII, Book of Common Prayer). For sins of ignorance, and such like, alone had trespass offerings appointed for them; greater guilt therefore needed a greater sacrifice, for, "without shedding of blood there was no remission"; but none such was appointed, and yet forgiveness was promised and expected; therefore spiritual Jews must have looked for the One Mediator of both Old Testament and New Testament, though dimly understood.
If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
19, 20. Temporal blessings in "the land of their possession" were prominent in the Old Testament promises, as suited to the childhood of the Church (Ex 3:17). New Testament spiritual promises derive their imagery from the former (Mt 5:5).
But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
20. Lord hath spoken it—Isaiah's prophecies rest on the law (Le 26:33). God alters not His word (Numbers 23. 19).
How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
21. faithful—as a wife (Isa 54:5; 62:5; Ho 2:19, 20).
righteousness lodged—(2Pe 3:13).
murderers—murderous oppressors, as the antithesis requires (see on Isa 1:15; 1Jo 3:15).
Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
22. Thy princes and people are degenerate in "solid worth," equivalent to "silver" (Jer 6:28, 30; Eze 22:18, 19), and in their use of the living Word, equivalent to "wine" (So 7:9).
mixed—literally, "circumcised." So the Arabic, "to murder" wine, equivalent to dilute it.
Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
23. companions of thieves—by connivance (Pr 29:24).
gifts—(Eze 22:12). A nation's corruption begins with its rulers.
Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:
24. Lord … Lord—Adonai, Jehovah.
mighty One of Israel—mighty to take vengeance, as before, to save.
ease me—My long tried patience will find relief in at last punishing the guilty (Eze 5:13). God's language condescends to human conceptions.
And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
25. turn … hand—not in wrath, but in grace (Zec 13:7), "upon thee," as Isa 1:26, 27 show; contrasted with the enemies, of whom He will avenge Himself (Isa 1:24).
purely—literally, "as alkali purifies."
thy dross—not thy sins, but the sinful persons (Jer 6:29); "enemies" (Isa 1:24); degenerate princes (see on Isa 1:22), intermingled with the elect "remnant" of grace.
tin—Hebrew, bedil, here the alloy of lead, tin, &c., separated by smelting from the silver. The pious Bishop Bedell took his motto from this.
And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellers as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
26. As the degeneracy had shown itself most in the magistrates (Isa 1:17-23), so, at the "restoration," these shall be such as the theocracy "at the first" had contemplated, namely, after the Babylonish restoration in part and typically, but fully and antitypically under Messiah (Isa 32:1; 52:8; Jer 33:7; Mt 19:28).
faithful—no longer "an harlot."
Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.
27. redeemed—temporarily, civilly, and morally; type of the spiritual redemption by the price of Jesus Christ's blood (1Pe 1:18, 19), the foundation of "judgment" and "righteousness," and so of pardon. The judgment and righteousness are God's first (Isa 42:21; Ro 3:26); so they become man's when "converted" (Ro 8:3, 4); typified in the display of God's "justice," then exhibited in delivering His covenant-people, whereby justice or "righteousness" was produced in them.
converts—so Maurer. But Margin, "they that return of her," namely the remnant that return from captivity. However, as Isaiah had not yet expressly foretold the Babylonian captivity, the English Version is better.
And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
28. destruction—literally, "breaking into shivers" (Re 2:27). The prophets hasten forward to the final extinction of the ungodly (Ps 37:20; Re 19:20; 20:15); of which antecedent judgments are types.
For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.
29. ashamed—(Ro 6:21).
oaks—Others translate the "terebinth" or "turpentine tree." Groves were dedicated to idols. Our Druids took their name from the Greek for "oaks." A sacred tree is often found in Assyrian sculpture; symbol of the starry hosts, Saba.
gardens—planted enclosures for idolatry; the counterpart of the garden of Eden.
For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.
30. oak—Ye shall be like the "oaks," the object of your "desire" (Isa 1:29). People become like the gods they worship; they never rise above their level (Ps 135:18). So men's sins become their own scourges (Jer 2:9). The leaf of the idol oak fades by a law of necessary consequence, having no living sap or "water" from God. So "garden" answers to "gardens" (Isa 1:29).
And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.
31. strong—powerful rulers (Am 2:9).
maker of it—rather, his work. He shall be at once the fuel, "tow," and the cause of the fire, by kindling the first "spark."
both—the wicked ruler, and "his work," which "is as a spark."