Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
A new prophecy; entire in itself. Probably delivered about the same time
as the second and third chapters, in Uzziah's reign. Compare
Isa 5:15, 16
with Isa 2:17;
with Isa 3:14.
However, the close of the chapter alludes generally to the still
distant invasion of Assyrians in a later reign (compare
with Isa 7:18;
with Isa 9:12).
When the time
drew nigh, according to the ordinary prophetic usage, he handles the
details more particularly
namely, the calamities caused by the Syro-Israelitish invasion, and
subsequently by the Assyrians whom Ahaz had invited to his help.
1. to--rather, "concerning" [GESENIUS],
that is, in the person of My
beloved, as His representative [VITRINGA].
Isaiah gives a hint of the
distinction and yet unity of the Divine Persons (compare He with
Isa 5:2, 3).
of my beloved--inspired by Him; or else, a tender song
By a slight change of reading "a song of His love"
Beloved" is Jehovah, the Second Person, the "Angel" of God the Father,
not in His character as incarnate Messiah, but as God of the Jews
(Ex 23:20, 21; 32:34; 33:14).
&c.). The Jewish covenant-people, separated from the nations for His
glory, as the object of His peculiar care
(Mt 20:1; 21:33).
Jesus Christ in the "vineyard" of the New Testament Church is the same
as the Old Testament Angel of the Jewish covenant.
fruitful hill--literally, "a horn" ("peak," as the Swiss
shreckhorn) of the son of oil; poetically, for
very fruitful. Suggestive of isolation, security, and a sunny
aspect. Isaiah alludes plainly to the Song of Solomon
(So 6:3; 8:11, 12),
in the words "His vineyard" and "my Beloved" (compare
Isa 26:20; 61:10,
with So 1:4; 4:10).
The transition from "branch"
to "vineyard" here is not unnatural.
2. fenced--rather, "digged and trenched" the ground to prepare it
for planting the vines [MAURER].
choicest vine--Hebrew, sorek; called still in Morocco,
serki; the grapes had scarcely perceptible seeds; the Persian
kishmish or bedana, that is, "without seed"
tower--to watch the vineyard against the depredations of man or
beast, and for the use of the owner
wine-press--including the wine-fat; both hewn, for coolness, out of
the rocky undersoil of the vineyard.
wild grapes--The Hebrew expresses offensive putrefaction,
answering to the corrupt state of the Jews. Fetid fruit of the wild
vine [MAURER], instead of "choicest" grapes.
Of the poisonous monk's
hood [GESENIUS]. The Arabs call the fruit of the
(De 32:32, 33;
JEROME tries to specify the details of the
parable; the "fence," angels; the "stones gathered out,"
idols; the "tower," the "temple in the midst" of Judea;
the "wine-press," the altar.
3. And now, &c.--appeal of God to themselves, as in
So Jesus Christ, in
Mt 21:40, 41,
alluding in the very form of expression to this, makes them pass
sentence on themselves. God condemns sinners "out of their own mouth"
4. God has done all that could be done for the salvation of sinners,
consistently with His justice and goodness. The God of nature is, as it
were, amazed at the unnatural fruit of so well-cared a vineyard.
5. go to--that is, attend to me.
hedge . . . wall--It had both; a proof of the care of
the owner. But now it shall be trodden down by wild beasts (enemies)
(Ps 80:12, 13).
6. I will . . . command--The parable is partly dropped and Jehovah,
is implied to be the Owner: for He alone, not an ordinary husbandman
could give such a "command."
no rain--antitypically, the heaven-sent teachings of the prophets
Not accomplished in the Babylonish captivity; for Jeremiah, Ezekiel,
Daniel, Haggai, and Zechariah prophesied during or after it. But in
7. Isaiah here applies the parable. It is no mere human owner, nor
a literal vineyard that is meant.
vineyard of the Lord--His only one
pleasant--"the plant of his delight"; just as the husbandman was at
pains to select the sorek, or "choicest vine"
so God's election of the Jews.
judgment--justice. The play upon words is striking in the Hebrew, He looked for mishpat, but behold mispat ("bloodshed"); for
tsedaqua, but behold tseaqua (the cry that attends anarchy,
covetousness, and dissipation,
Isa 5:8, 11, 12;
compare the cry of the rabble by which justice was overborne in the
case of Jesus Christ,
Mt 27:23, 24).
The jubilee restoration of possessions was intended as a guard against
till there be no place--left for any one else.
that they may be--rather, and ye be.
the earth--the land.
9. In mine ears . . . the Lord--namely, has revealed it, as in
desolate--literally, "a desolation," namely, on account of the national
great and fair--houses.
10. acres--literally, "yokes"; as much as one yoke of oxen could plow
in a day.
bath--of wine; seven and a half gallons.
homer . . . ephah--Eight bushels of seed would yield only three pecks
The ephah and bath, one-tenth of an homer.
11. Second Woe--against intemperance.
early--when it was regarded especially shameful to drink
Banquets for revelry began earlier than usual
(Ec 10:16, 17).
strong drink--Hebrew, sichar, implying intoxication.
continue--drinking all day till evening.
12. Music was common at ancient feasts
(Isa 24:8, 9;
Am 6:5, 6).
viol--an instrument with twelve strings
[JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 8.10].
tabret--Hebrew, toph, from the use of which in drowning the
cries of children sacrificed to Moloch, Tophet received its name.
Arabic, duf. A kettle drum, or tambourine.
pipe--flute or flageolet: from a Hebrew root "to bore through";
or else, "to dance" (compare
regard not . . . Lord--a frequent effect of feasting
work . . . operation--in punishing the guilty
13. are gone--The prophet sees the future as if it were
before his eyes.
no knowledge--because of their foolish recklessness
famished--awful contrast to their luxurious feasts
(Isa 5:11, 12).
multitude--plebeians in contradistinction to the "honorable men," or
(Ps 107:4, 5).
Contrast to their drinking
In their deportation and exile, they shall hunger and thirst.
14. hell--the grave; Hebrew, sheol; Greek, hades; "the unseen
world of spirits." Not here, "the place of torment." Poetically, it is
represented as enlarging itself immensely, in order to receive the
countless hosts of Jews, which should perish
their--that is, of the Jewish people.
he that rejoiceth--the drunken reveller in Jerusalem.
Isa 2:9, 11, 17).
All ranks, "mean" and "mighty" alike; so "honorable" and
16. God shall be "exalted" in man's view, because of His manifestation
of His "justice" in punishing the guilty.
sanctified--regarded as holy by reason of His "righteous"
17. after their manner--literally, "according to their own word,"
that is, at will. Otherwise, as in their own pasture
so the Hebrew in
The lands of the Scenite tent dwellers
Arab shepherds in the neighborhood shall roam at large, the whole of
Judea being so desolate as to become a vast pasturage.
waste . . . fat ones--the deserted lands of the rich ("fat,"
then gone into captivity; "strangers," that is, nomad tribes shall make
their flocks to feed on [MAURER]. Figuratively,
"the lambs" are the pious, "the fat ones" the impious. So tender
disciples of Jesus Christ
are called "lambs"; being meek, harmless, poor, and persecuted. Compare
where the fatlings are the rich and great
(1Co 1:26, 27).
The "strangers" are in this view the "other sheep not of the" the
the Gentiles whom Jesus Christ shall "bring" to be partakers of
the rich privileges
which the Jews ("fat ones,"
Eze 34. 16)
fell from. Thus "after their (own) manner" will express that the
Christian Church should worship God in freedom, released from legal
18. Third Woe--against obstinate perseverance in sin, as if they
wished to provoke divine judgments.
iniquity--guilt, incurring punishment [MAURER].
cords, &c.--cart-rope--Rabbins say, "An evil inclination is at
first like a fine hair-string, but the finishing like a
cart-rope." The antithesis is between the slender cords of
sophistry, like the spider's web
with which one sin draws on another, until they at last bind
themselves with great guilt as with a cart-rope. They strain
every nerve in sin.
sin--substantive, not a verb: they draw on themselves "sin" and its
Language of defiance to God. So Lamech's boast of impunity
(Ge 4:23, 24;
2Pe 3:3, 4).
counsel--God's threatened purpose to punish.
20. Fourth Woe--against those who confound the distinctions of
right and wrong (compare
"reprobate," Greek, "undiscriminating: the moral perception
bitter . . . sweet--sin is bitter
(Jer 2:19; 4:18;
though it seem sweet for a time
(Pr 9:17, 18).
Religion is sweet
21. Fifth Woe--against those who were so "wise in their own
eyes" as to think they knew better than the prophet, and therefore
rejected his warnings
(Isa 29:14, 15).
22, 23. Sixth Woe--against corrupt judges, who, "mighty" in
drinking "wine" (a boast still not uncommon), if not in defending their
country, obtain the means of self-indulgence by taking bribes
("reward"). The two verses are closely joined [MAURER].
mingle strong drink--not with water, but spices to make it
(Pr 9:2, 5;
take away the righteousness--set aside the just claims of those having
a righteous cause.
24. Literally, "tongue of fire eateth"
flame consumeth the chaff--rather, withered grass falleth before the
root . . . blossom--entire decay, both the hidden source and
outward manifestations of prosperity, perishing
cast away . . . law--in its spirit, while retaining the
25. anger . . . kindled--
(2Ki 22:13, 17).
hills . . . tremble--This probably fixes the date of this chapter,
as it refers to the earthquake in the days of Uzziah
The earth trembled as if conscious of the presence of God
torn--rather, were as dung
For all this, &c.--This burden of the prophet's strains, with
dirge-like monotony, is repeated at
Isa 9:12, 17, 21; 10:4.
With all the past calamities, still heavier judgments are impending;
which he specifies in the rest of the chapter
26. lift . . . ensign--to call together the hostile nations to
execute His judgments on Judea
(Isa 10:5-7; 45:1).
But for mercy to it, in
Isa 11:12; 18:3.
Bees were drawn out of their hives by the sound of a flute, or
hissing, or whistling
God will collect the nations round Judea like bees
end of the earth--the widely distant subject races of which the
Assyrian army was made up
The ulterior fulfilment took place in the siege under Roman Titus.
Compare "end of the earth"
&c.). So the pronoun is singular in the Hebrew, for
"them," "their," "whose" (him, his, &c.),
referring to some particular nation and person [HORSLEY].
27. weary--with long marches
none . . . slumber--requiring no rest.
girdle--with which the ancient loose robes used to be girded for
action. Ever ready for march or battle.
nor the latchet . . . broken--The soles were attached to the feet,
not by upper leather as with us, but by straps. So securely clad that
not even a strap of their sandals gives way, so as to impede their
28. bent--ready for battle.
hoofs . . . flint--The ancients did not shoe their horses: hence the
value of hard hoofs for long marches.
wheels--of their chariots. The Assyrian army abounded in cavalry and
(Isa 22:6, 7; 36:8).
29. roaring--their battle cry.
30. sorrow, and the light is darkened--Otherwise,
distress and light (that is, hope and fear) alternately succeed
(as usually occurs in an unsettled state of things),
and darkness arises in, &c. [MAURER].
heavens--literally, "clouds," that is, its sky is rather
"clouds" than sky. Otherwise from a different Hebrew root, "in
its destruction" or ruins. HORSLEY takes "sea
. . . look unto the land" as a new image taken from mariners
in a coasting vessel (such as all ancient vessels were), looking for
the nearest land, which the darkness of the storm
conceals, so that darkness and distress alone may be said to be