- The mean beginning of the Jewish church and nation, verse 1-5.
- The many favours God bestowed upon them, verse 6-14.
- Their treacherous and ungrateful requital, verse 15-34.
- Terrible judgments threatened, verse 35-43.
- An aggravation of their sin and of their punishment, verse 44-59.
- A promise of mercy to a remnant, verse 60-63
Jerusalem - The whole race of the Jews. Thy birth - Thy root whence thou didst spring. Thy father - Abraham, before God called him, (as his father and kindred) worshipped strange gods beyond the river, Joshua 24:14. An Amorite - This comprehended all the rest of the cursed nations.
In the day - In the day I called Abraham to leave his idolatry. Salted - Salt was used to purge, dry, and strengthen the new-born child. Nor swaddled - So forlorn was the state of the Jews in their birth, without beauty, without strength, without friend.
To the loathing - In contempt of thee as unlovely and worthless; and in abhorrence of thee as loathsome to the beholder. This seems to have reference to the exposing of the male children of the Israelites in Egypt. And it is an apt illustration of the Natural State of all the children of men. In the day that we were born, we were shapen in iniquity: our understandings darkened, our minds alienated from the life of God: all polluted with sin, which rendered us loathsome in the eyes of God.
When I passed by - God here speaks after the manner of men. Live - This is such a command as sends forth a power to effect what is commanded; he gave that life: he spake, and it was done.
Thou art come - Thou wast adorned with the choicest blessings of Divine Providence. Thy breasts - Grown up and fashioned under God's own hand in order to be solemnly affianced to God.
When I passed - This second passing by, may be understood of God's visiting and calling them out of Egypt. Thy time - The time of thy misery was the time of love in me towards thee. I spread my skirt - Espoused thee, as Ruth 3:9. Entered into a covenant - This was done at mount Sinai, when the covenant between God and Israel was sealed and ratified. Those to whom God gives spiritual life, he takes into covenant with himself. By this covenant they become his, his subjects and servants; that speaks their duty: and at the same time his portion, his treasure; that speaks their privilege.
Washed - It was a very ancient custom among the eastern people, to purify virgins who were to be espoused. And I anointed - They were anointed that were to be married, as Ruth 3:3.
Broidered - Rich and beautiful needle-work. Badgers skin - The eastern people had an art of curiously dressing and colouring the skins of those beasts, of which they made their neatest shoes, for the richest and greatest personages.
A chain - Of gold, in token of honour and authority.
My comeliness - "That is, thro' the beauty of their holiness, as they were a people devoted to God. This was it that put a lustre upon all their other honours, and was indeed the perfection of their beauty. Sanctified souls are truly beautiful in God's sight, and they themselves may take the comfort of it. But God must have all the glory for whatever comeliness they have, it is that which God has put upon them."
Playedst the harlot - Thou didst go a whoring after idols. Thy renown - Her renown abroad drew to her idolatrous strangers, who brought their idols with them. Pouredst out - Didst readily prostitute thyself to them; every stranger, who passed thro' thee, might find room for his idol, and idolatry. He it was - Thy person was at the command of every adulterer.
Thy garments - Those costly, royal robes, the very wedding clothes. High places - Where the idol was. With divers colours - With those beautiful clothes I put upon thee. The like things - As there was none before her that had done thus, so shall there be none to follow her in these things.
Images - Statues, molten and graven images. Commit whoredom - Idolatry, spiritual adultery. And possibly here is an allusion to the rites of Adonis, or the images of Priapus.
Coveredst - Didst clothe the images thou hadst made. Set mine oil - In lamps to burn before them.
For a sweet savour - To gain the favour of the idol. Thus it was - All which is undeniable.
And those - These very children of mine hast thou destroyed. Sacrificed - Not only consecrating them to be priests to dumb idols; but even burning them in sacrifice to Molech. Devoured - Consumed to ashes. Is this - Were thy whoredoms a small matter, that thou hast proceeded to this unnatural cruelty?
For them - For the idols.
In every street - Idol temples were in every street; both in Jerusalem and her cities.
At every head of the way - Not content with what was done in the city, she built her idol temples in the country, wherever it was likely passengers would come.
Great of flesh - Naturally of a big, make, and men of great stature.
How weak - Unstable, like water. An imperious woman - A woman, that knows no superior, nor will be neither guided nor governed.
Not as an harlot - Common harlots make gain of their looseness, and live by that gain; thou dost worse, thou lavishest out thy credit, wealth, and all, to maintain thine adulterers.
Contrary - Here we may see, what the nature of men is, when God leaves them to themselves: yea, tho' they have the greatest advantage, to be better, and to do better.
Blood - Thou gavest the blood of thy children to idols in sacrifice; I will give thee thine own blood to drink.
My jealousy - The jealousy whereto you have provoked me, will never cease, 'till these judgments have utterly destroyed you, as the anger of an abused husband ceases in the publick punishment of the adulteress. No more angry - I will no more concern myself about thee.
The mother - Old Jerusalem, when the seat of the Jebusites, or the land of Canaan, when full of the idolatrous, bloody, barbarous nations. Her daughter - Jerusalem, or the Jews who are more like those accursed nations in sin, than near them in place of abode.
Thou - The nation of the Jews. Thy mother's daughter - As much in thy inclinations, as for thy original. Loatheth - That was weary of the best husband.
Thine elder sister - The greater for power, riches, and numbers of people. Her daughters - The lesser cities of the kingdom of Israel. Thy left hand - Northward as you look toward the east. Thy younger sister - Which was smaller and less populous. Thy right hand - Southward from Jerusalem.
Not walked after their ways - For they, all things considered, were less sinners than thou. Nor done - Their doings were abominable, but thine have been worse.
This was - The fountain and occasion of all. Fulness of bread - Excess in eating and drinking. Strengthen - She refused to help strangers.
Hast justified - Not made them righteous, but declared them less unrighteous, than thou; of the two they are less faulty.
Hast judged - Condemned their apostacy, and hast judged their punishment just.
When - Sodom and Samaria never were restored to that state they had been in; nor were the two tribes ever made so rich, mighty, and renowned, though God brought some of them out of Babylon: the words confirm an irrecoverably low, and despised state, of the Jews in their temporals. Then - Then, not before.
A comfort - Encouraging sinners like those of Sodom and Samaria.
Not mentioned - The sins of Sodom, and her plagues, were not minded or mentioned by thee.
Before - The time of her pride was, when they were not yet afflicted, and despised by the Syrians. And all - The nations that were round about and combined in league against the house of David. Her - Syria, the chief whereof were the Philistines.
Thy lewdness - The punishment thereof.
In breaking the covenant - So will I break my covenant with thee.
Nevertheless - The Lord having denounced a perpetual punishment to the impenitent body of the Jewish nation, doth now promise to the remnant, that they shall be remembered, and obtain covenanted mercy. My covenant - In which I promised I would not utterly cut off the seed of Israel, nor fail to send the redeemer, who should turn away iniquity from Jacob. With thee - In the loins of Abraham, and solemnly renewed after their coming out of Egypt, which is the time, called the days of thy youth, Isaiah 44:2. Establish - Confirm and ratify. It shall be sure, and unfailing. An everlasting covenant - Of long continuance, as to their condition in the land of Canaan, and in what is spiritual, it shall be absolutely everlasting.
Then - When that new covenant shall take effect. Receive - Admit into church-communion, the Gentiles, now strangers, but then sisters. Thine elder - Those that are greater and mightier than thou; that by their power, wealth and honour are as much above thee as the elder children are above the younger. Thy younger - Thy lesser or meaner sister. For daughters - As daughters hearken to, and obey, so shall the Gentiles brought into the church, hearken to the word of God, which sounded out from Jerusalem. But not - Not by that old covenant which was violated; nor by external ceremonies, which were a great part of the first covenant, but by that covenant which writes the law in the heart, and puts the fear of God into the inward parts.
Open thy mouth - Neither to justify thyself, or to condemn others, or to quarrel with thy God. Because of thy shame - Such a confusion for thy sin will cover thee. Indeed the more we feel of God's love, the more ashamed we are that ever we offended him. And the more our shame for sin is increased, the more will our comfort in God be increased also.