Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
REPROOF OF THE
1. aloud--Hebrew, "with the throat," that is, with full voice,
not merely from the lips
Speak loud enough to arrest attention.
my people--the Jews in Isaiah's time, and again in the time of our
Lord, more zealous for externals than for inward holiness.
thinks the reference to be to the Jews in the captivity practising their
rites to gain God's favor and a release; and that hence, sacrifices are not mentioned, but only fasting and Sabbath observance,
which they could keep though far away from the temple in Jerusalem. The
same also applies to their present dispersion, in which they cannot
offer sacrifices, but can only show their zeal in fastings, &c.
Compare as to our Lord's time,
Mt 6:16, 23;
2. Put the stop at "ways"; and connect "as a nation that," &c.
with what follows; "As a nation that did righteousness," thus answers
to, "they ask of Me just judgments" (that is, as a matter of justice
due to them, salvation to themselves, and destruction to their
enemies); and "forsook not the ordinance of their God," answers to "they
desire the drawing near of God" (that God would draw near to
exercise those "just judgments" in behalf of them, and against their
So JEROME, "In the confidence, as it were, of a good
conscience, they demand a just judgment, in the language of the saints:
Judge me, O Lord, for I have walked in mine integrity." So in
they affect to be scandalized at the impunity of the wicked, and impugn
God's justice [HORSLEY]. Thus, "seek Me
daily, and desire (English Version not so well, 'delight') to
know My ways," refers to their requiring to know why God delayed so
long in helping them. English Version gives a good, though
different sense; namely, dispelling the delusion that God would be
satisfied with outward observances, while the spirit of the law,
was violated and the heart unchanged
Eze 33:31, 32;
scrupulosity side by side with murder. The prophets were the
commentators on the law, as their Magna Charta, in its inward
spirit and not the mere letter.
3. Wherefore--the words of the Jews: "Why is it that, when we fast,
Thou dost not notice it" (by delivering us)? They think to lay God under
obligation to their fasting
afflicted . . . soul--
pleasure--in antithesis to their boast of having "afflicted their
soul"; it was only in outward show they really enjoyed themselves.
GESENIUS not so well translates, "business."
exact . . . labours--rather, "oppressive labors"
with Vulgate, translates, "Exact the whole upon your debtors";
those who owe you labor
(Ne 5:1-5, 8-10,
4. ye shall not fast--rather, "ye do not fast at this time, so as to
make your voice to be heard on high," that is, in heaven; your aim in
fasting is strife, not to gain the ear of God
(1Ki 21:9, 12, 13).
In English Version the sense is, If you wish acceptance with
God, ye must not fast as ye now do, to make your voice heard high in
5. for a man to afflict his soul--The pain felt by abstinence is
not the end to be sought, as if it were meritorious; it is of value
only in so far as it leads us to amend our ways
(Isa 58:6, 7).
bow . . . head . . . sackcloth--to affect the outward tokens, so as
to "appear to men to fast"
(Mt 6:17, 18;
6. loose . . . bands of wickedness--that is, to dissolve every tie
wherewith one has unjustly bound his fellow men
&c.). Servitude, a fraudulent contract, &c.
undo . . . heavy burdens--Hebrew, "loose the bands of the yoke."
oppressed--literally, "the broken." The expression, "to let go free,"
implies that those "broken" with the yoke of slavery, are meant
Jer 34:9-11, 14, 16).
JEROME interprets it, broken with poverty;
cast out--rather, reduced
naked . . . cover him--
hide . . . thyself--means to be strange towards them, and not to
relieve them in their poverty
Also brethren in common descent from Adam, and brethren in Christ
8. light--emblem of prosperity
health--literally, a long bandage, applied by surgeons to heal a
Hence restoration from all past calamities.
go before thee--Thy conformity to the divine covenant acts as a
leader, conducting thee to peace and prosperity.
glory . . . reward--like the pillar of cloud and fire, the symbol of
God's "glory," which went behind Israel, separating them from their
Ex 14:19, 20).
9. Then . . . call . . . answer--when sin is
When the Lord's call is not hearkened to, He will not hear our
Pr 1:24, 28; 15:29; 28:9).
putting forth of . . . finger--the finger of scorn pointed at
simple-minded godly men. The middle finger was so used by the Romans.
speaking vanity--every injurious speech
10. draw out thy soul--"impart of thine own subsistence," or
"Soul" is figurative for "that wherewith thou
sustainest thy soul," or "life."
light . . . in obscurity--Calamities shall be suddenly succeeded by
11. satisfy . . . in drought--
(Isa 41:17, 18).
Literally, "drought," that is, parched places [MAURER].
make fat--rather, "strengthen"
[NOYES]. "Give thee the free use of thy bones"
[JEROME], or, "of thy strength"
watered garden--an Oriental picture of happiness.
fail not--Hebrew, "deceive not"; as streams that disappoint the
caravan which had expected to find water, as formerly, but find it dried
12. they . . . of thee--thy people, the Israelites.
old waste places--the old ruins of Jerusalem
foundations of many generations--that is, the buildings which had
lain in ruins, even to their foundations, for many ages; called in
the parallel passage
"the former desolations"; and in the preceding clause here, "the
old waste places." The literal and spiritual restoration of
Israel is meant, which shall produce like blessed results on the
(Am 9:11, 12;
Ac 15:16, 17).
be called--appropriately: the name truly designating what thou shalt
breach--the calamity wherewith God visited Israel for their sin
paths to dwell in--not that the paths were to be dwelt in, but the paths leading to their dwellings were to be restored;
"paths, so as to dwell in the land"
The Sabbath, even under the new dispensation, was to be obligatory
foot--the instrument of motion (compare
men are not to travel for mere pleasure on the Sabbath
The Jews were forbidden to travel on it farther than the tabernacle or
temple. If thou keep thy foot from going on thy own ways and "doing thy
(Ex 20:10, 11).
my holy day--God claims it as His day; to take it for our pleasure
is to rob Him of His own. This is the very way in which the Sabbath is
mostly broken; it is made a day of carnal pleasure instead of spiritual
holy of the Lord--not the predicate, but the subject; "if thou call
the holy (day) of Jehovah honorable"; if thou treat it as a day to be
him--or else, it, the Sabbath.
not doing . . . own way--answering to, "turn away thy foot from the
nor finding . . . pleasure--answering to, "doing thy pleasure." "To
keep the Sabbath in an idle manner is the sabbath of oxen and asses; to
pass it in a jovial manner is the sabbath of the golden calf, when the
people sat down to eat and drink, and rose again to play; to keep it in
surfeiting and wantonness is the sabbath of Satan, the devil's holiday"
nor speaking . . . words--answering to, "call Sabbath a
delight . . . honorable." Man's "own words" would "call" it a
"weariness"; it is the spiritual nature given from above which "calls
it a delight"
14. delight . . . in . . . Lord--God rewards
in kind, as He punishes in kind. As we "delight" in keeping God's
"Sabbath," so God will give us "delight" in Himself
ride upon . . . high places--I will make thee supreme lord of the
land; the phrase is taken from a conqueror riding in his chariot, and
occupying the hills and fastnesses of a country
Judea was a land of hills; the idea thus is, "I will restore
thee to thine own land" [CALVIN]. The parallel
words, "heritage of Jacob," confirm this
(Ge 27:28, 29; 28:13-15).
mouth of . . . Lord . . . spoken it--a formula to assure men of the
fulfilment of any solemn promise which God has made