COMMENTARY

THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH

BY JOHN CALVIN

TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL LATIN,

By The Rev. William Pringle,

VOLUME SECOND

 


CHAPTER 55.

Go To Isaiah 55:1-13

1. Ho, all that are thirsty. Here the Prophet describes in lofty terms of commendation the goodness of God, which was to be poured down more copiously and abundantly than before under the reign of Christ, “in whose hand are hid all the treasures” (<510203>Colossians 2:3) of the grace of God; for in him God fully explains his mind to us; so that the saying of John is actually fulfilled, “We have all drawn from his fullness, and have received grace for grace.” (<430116>John 1:16) The fathers were, indeed, partakers of that divine goodness and spiritual kindness which is here mentioned. “How great,” says David, “is thy goodness, which hath been laid up for them that fear thee!” (<193119>Psalm 31:19) But he hath poured it out far more liberally and abundantly in Christ. Thus, it is a remarkable commendation of the grace of God, which is exhibited to us in the kingdom of Christ; for the Prophet does not instruct us what has been done once, but also what is done every day, while the Lord invites us by his doctrine to the enjoyment of all blessings.

Come to the waters. Some view the word “waters” as referring to the doctrine of the Gospel, and others to the Holy Spirit; but neither of these expositions, in my opinion, is correct. They who think that it denotes the doctrine of the Gospel, and who contrast it with the law, (of which the Jewish writers think that the Prophet speaks in this passage,) include only one part of what the Prophet meant. They who expound it as denoting the Holy Spirit have somewhat more plausibility, and quote that passage of John’s Gospel,

“If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” (<430410>John 4:10)

And a little after, Christ appears to expound this passage when he says,

“Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever shall drink of the water which I shall give to him shall never thirst; but the water which I shall give to him shall become in him a fountain of water springing up to everlasting life.” (<430413>John 4:13, 14)

But I have no doubt that under these words, “waters, milk, wine, bread,” Isaiah includes all that is necessary for spiritual life; for the metaphors are borrowed from those kinds of food which are in daily use amongst us. As we are nourished by “bread, wine, milk, and water,” so in like manner let us know that our souls are fed and supported by the doctrine of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit, and other gifts of Christ.

The Prophet exclaims, as with a voice above the usual pitch, He! for so great is the sluggishness of men that it is very difficult to arouse them. They do not feel their wants, though they are hungry; nor do they desire food, which they greatly need; and therefore that indifference must be shaken off by loud and incessant cries. So much the more base and shameful is the indolence of those who are deaf to this exhortation, and who, even when they are so sharply urged forward, still indulge in their slothfulness. Besides, the invitation is general; for there is no man who is not in want of those “waters,” and to whom Christ is not necessary; and therefore he invites all indiscriminately, without any respect of persons. But men are so miserable that, although they know that they are in need of Christ, they contrive methods by which they may be deprived of this benefit, and rather believe the devil, who offers various obstructions, than this kind invitation.

We must therefore inquire what is the true preparation for receiving this grace. The Prophet describes it by the word “thirsty.” Those who are puffed up with vain confidence and are satiated, or who, intoxicated by earthly appetites, do not feel thirst of soul, will not receive Christ; because they have no relish for spiritual grace. They resemble those persons who are in want of nourishments, but who, because they are filled and swollen with wind, loathe food, or who, being carried away by their own vain imaginations, feed on their own stupidity, as if they were in want of nothing. The consequence is, that they who are puffed up with pride or a false opinion of their own righteousness, or whom the allurements of the flesh have seized with lethargy, despise or reject the grace of God. It is therefore necessary that we have “thirst,” that is, an ardent desire, in order that it may be possible for us to receive so great blessings.

Buy without money. He does not mean that there are any persons who have money in abundance, but the words ought to be explained thus. “Although they are poor, although they are sunk in the deepest poverty, yet the way is open for them to come to Christ, through whom these blessings are freely bestowed.” “But how is it possible,” it will be said, “to buy without a price?” I reply, “buying” denotes figuratively the method by which we procure anything; and rb (shabar) is here put for “procure,” and “price” for labor or industry, or any other method by which men obtain anything, he shows that we are poor and utterly destitute, and that we have nothing by which we can become entitled to God’s favor; but that he kindly invites us, in order that he may freely bestow everything without any recompense.

2. Wherefore do ye spend money?  F919 He complains of the ingratitude and madness of men, in rejecting or disdaining the kindness of God who offers all things freely, and yet harassing themselves greatly about various trifles which cannot yield them any advantage. Men are so enchanted by the devil, that they choose rather to wander through deserts, and to vex themselves in vain, than to rely on the grace which God offers to them. The experience of the present age abundantly shows that the Prophet not only expostulated with his own nation, but exclaimed against all men, to whatever age they might belong; for all the posterity of Adam have been seized with such madness that, in seeking the road to a heavenly life, F920 they altogether go astray, and follow their own vain opinions rather than the voice of God.

The Prophet does not complain of the slothfulness of those who, altogether forgetful of themselves and of God, take no concern about the spiritual life of the soul; (there are many such persons;) but of those who desire life, and yet do not understand the method or way of obtaining it, and wander in uncertainty through deserts and untrodden paths. Here, therefore, are condemned all the methods which men contrive, in opposition to the Word of God, for obtaining salvation, and they are pronounced to be useless expenses; for by the word “money” he denotes all the industry, study, or labor which belongs to man. Not that God values a single farthing all our idle attempts to worship him, but because labors foolishly undertaken are reckoned valuable by the judgment of the flesh.

And your labor, not so as to be satisfied. We see that by the word “bread” is here meant the same as was formerly meant by “waters,” and that he gives the name “labor” to that which he formerly called “money.” As if he had said, “Men toil without any advantage; for, when they follow their own inventions, however eagerly they may vex and weary themselves, they have no right to expect any reward.” Thus he affirms that they who labor in an inconsiderate manner cannot “be satisfied; “ for they who forsake God, and attempt new methods of salvation, can never “be satisfied.” “They feed on wind,” as Hosea says. (<281201>Hosea 12:1) They may, indeed, imagine that they are full, when they are swelled with vain confidence, but are like persons who, in consequence of being swollen with wind, do not perceive their hunger. Yet it would be better for them to be sore pressed by hunger and thirst, that it might lead them to call on the Lord with earnestness of heart, as it is said in the Psalm, “My soul is as a thirsty land before thee.” (<19E306>Psalm 143:6) But bread alone, or water alone, would not be enough to “satisfy,” and by neither of them could life be supported; and that is the reason why the Prophet has made use of a variety of terms, in order to show that the Lord abundantly supplies everything that is necessary for life, that we may not think that we ought to seek aid from any other quarter.

Hear ye by hearing me.  F921 Because every person is led into error by his own counsel, and all who neglect God vanish away in wicked imaginations, the Prophet here adds the remedy, which is, that we must depend entirely on the mouth of God. Whoever shall submit to his word will have no reason to fear that he shall spend his strength on things of no value. Here we see the amazing goodness of God, who offers his grace to men, though they are unthankful and unworthy.

But he adds the condition; for there is no way by which we can enter into life but by “hearing” him; and as the cause of our destruction is, that we are deaf to the voice of God, so the road to life is open, if we lend our ears to him.  F922 In order to make a deeper impression upon us, he repeats the same admonition, and doubles the same word, “Hear ye by hearing; “ and, in order to draw us more gently, he solemnly declares that it depends entirely on ourselves whether or not he will “delight” us even to fullness with all abundance of blessings.

3. Incline your ear. This assemblage of words makes still more evident what I slightly mentioned a little before, that God leaves nothing undone which is fitted to correct and arouse our tardiness. Yet there is an implied reproof; for they must be excessively stupid who, when they are so gently called, do not instantly obey. This is a remarkable passage, from which we see that our whole happiness lies in obeying the word of God. When God speaks in this manner, the object which he has in view is to lead us to life;  F923 and therefore the blame lies wholly with ourselves, because we disregard this saving and life‑giving word.

And come unto me. If God only commanded what we ought to do, he would indeed lay down the method of obtaining life, but without advantage; for the Law, which proceeded from the mouth of God, is the minister of death; but when he invites us “to himself,” when he adopts us as children, when he promises pardon of sin and sanctification, the consequence is, that they who hear obtain life from him. We ought, therefore, to take into view the kind of doctrine which contains life, in order that we may seek our salvation from it; and hence we infer that there is no hope of salvation if we do not obey God and his word. This reproves all mankind, so that they can plead no excuse for their ignorance; for he who refuses to hear can have no solid argument to defend his cause.

These repetitions describe the patience of God in calling us; for he does not merely invite us once, but when he sees that we are sluggish, he gives a second and even a third warning, in order to conquer our hardheartedness. Thus he does not all at once reject those who despise him, but after having frequently invited them.

Besides, this is a description of the nature of faith, when he bids us “come to himself.” We ought to hear the Lord in such a manner that faith shall follow; for they who by faith receive the word of God have laid aside their desires and despised the world, and may be said to have broken their chains, so that they readily and cheerfully “draw near to God.” But faith cannot be formed without hearing, (<451017>Romans 10:17 ) that is, without understanding the word of God, and so he bids us “hear” before we “come to him.” Thus, whenever faith is mentioned, let us remember that it must be joined to the word, in which it has its foundation.

And I will strike a covenant of eternity with you. It is asked, Did not the Jews formerly enter into an everlasting covenant with God? For he appears to promise something that is new and uncommon. I reply, nothing new is here promised for which the Lord did not formerly enter into an engagement with his people; but it is a renewal and confirmation of the covenant, that the Jews might not think that the covenant of God was made void on account of the long‑continued banishment. For when they were banished from the country that had been promised to them,  F924 when they had no temple or sacrifices, or any marks of the “covenant” except circumcision, who would not have concluded that it was all over with them? This mode of expression, therefore, Isaiah accommodated to the capacity of the people, that they might know that the covenant into which God entered with the fathers was firm, sure, and eternal, and not changeable or temporary.

This is also what he means by the mercies of David, but by this phrase he declares that it was a covenant of free grace; for it was founded on nothing else than the absolute goodness of God. Whenever, therefore, the word “covenant” occurs in Scripture, we ought at the same time to call to remembrance the word “grace.” By calling them “the faithful mercies of David,”  F925 he declares that he will be faithful in it, and at. the same time states indirectly that he is faithful and steadfast, and cannot be accused of falsehood, as if he had broken his covenant; that the Jews, on the other hand, are covenant‑breakers and traitors, (for they have revolted from him,) but that he cannot repent of his covenant or his promise.

He calls them “the mercies of David,” because this covenant, which has now been solemnly confirmed, was made in the land “of David.” The Lord indeed entered into a covenant with Abraham, (<011505>Genesis 15:5; 17:7) afterwards confirmed it by Moses, (<020224>Exodus 2:24; 33:1) and finally ratified this very covenant in the hand of David, that it might be eternal. (<100712>2 Samuel 7:12) Whenever, therefore, the Jews thought of a Redeemer, that is, of their salvation, they ought to have remembered “David” as a mediator who represented Christ; for David must not here be regarded as a private individual, but as bearing this title and character. Yet some regard must be had to the time when this prophecy was uttered; for, since the rank of the kingdom had been obliterated, and the name of the royal family had become mean and contemptible during the captivity in Babylon, it might seem as if, through the ruin of that family, the truth of God had fallen into decay; and therefore he bids them contemplate by faith the throne of David, which had been cast down.

4. Behold, I have given him a witness to the peoples. The Prophet now explains more fully the reason why he mentioned “David.” It was because into his hand had been committed the promise of a Redeemer that was to come, and this discourse might be expressed with a view to his public character, so far as he was the surety of the covenant; for he did not act for himself individually, but was appointed to be a sort of mediator between God and the people. Yet it is beyond all doubt that the Prophet leads them directly to Christ, to whom the transition from David was easy and natural; as if he had said, “That successor of David shall come forth, by whose hand perfect salvation and happiness hath been promised.”

By calling him “a witness,” he means that the covenant into which he entered shall be ratified and confirmed in Christ. There is a weighty meaning in the word “witness;” for he clearly shows that this covenant shall be proved in Christ, by whom the truth of God shall be made manifest. He will! testify that God is not false. But this testimony consists in doctrine; and if it were not added, we should receive little benefit from Christ’s coming, as it is said, “I will publish the command.” (<190207>Psalm 2:7) In this sense also Isaiah said in another passage, that Christ will have a mouth like a sword or an arrow. (<234902>Isaiah 49:2)

A leader and instructor. This is added, in order to procure attention to his doctrine; for, if we do not hear him when he speaks, and if we do not embrace by assured faith what he makes known to us concerning the Father’s good pleasure, his power is set aside. In like manner, the name of Christ is pronounced loudly enough by the Papists; but since they refuse to receive him as a teacher and instructor, and acknowledge him merely by name, their boasting is idle and ridiculous.

To the peoples. This was added for the purpose of amplification, because the Church could not be restored to her ancient dignity, or be enlarged, but by assembling the Gentiles; and therefore it. was necessary that the voice of Christ should pierce even to the remotest countries, because he has been appointed a “witness, leader, and instructor” to the whole human race.

5. Behold, thou shalt call a nation which thou knowest not. Isaiah explains more largely what he formerly glanced at by a single word; for he declares that Christ shall be the “leader,” not of a single people, but of all the peoples. “To call” here denotes possession; for there is a mutual relation between the words “call” and “answer.” Christ therefore “calls” in the exercise of authority, as one who is invested with supreme power; and he “calls” the Gentiles, that he may bring them into a state of obedience, and may cause them to submit to his word.

He says that they shall be ready to obey, though hitherto they were unknown; not that the Son of God, by whom they were created, did not know them, but because he paid no regard to them  F926 until they began to be reckoned as belonging to the Church. God had in a peculiar manner called the Jews; the Gentiles appeared to be excluded as if they did not at all belong to him. But now, addressing Christ,  F927 he promises that Christ shall constrain the Gentiles to obey him, though formerly they were opposed to his authority. He expresses this still more plainly in what immediately follows.

A nation that knew not thee shall run to thee. By putting the verb wxwry (yarutzu) shall run, in the plural number, he intends to explain more fully that the Church shall be collected out of various peoples, so that they who were formerly scattered shall be gathered into one body; for the word “run” relates to harmony of faith. When he now says that the Gentiles “did not know Christ,” he employs the expression in a different sense from that in which he said, a little before, that they were unknown to Christ; for all heathens and unbelievers are declared, in a literal sense, to be in a state of ignorance, in consequence of their being destitute of the light of heavenly doctrine, without which they cannot. have the knowledge of God. Although by nature the knowledge of God is engraven on the hearts of all men, yet it is so confused and dark, and entangled by many errors, that, if the light of the word be not added to it, by knowing they know not God, but wander miserably in darkness.

Here we have a remarkable testimony of God as to the calling of the Gentiles, for whom, as well as for the Jews, Christ was appointed. Hence also we learn that God takes care of us, if we bow to his authority, and not only such care as he takes of all the creatures, but such care as a father takes of his children.

Yet the word “run” describes more fully the efficacy of this calling, for the object of it is, that we shall obey God, that we shall readily and cheerfully place ourselves before him as teachable, and ready to comply with any expression of his will; in like manner, as Paul shows that obedience is the end of our calling. (<450105>Romans 1:5; 16:26) But as the Gentiles were at a great distance from God, it was necessary that they should labor earnestly to surmount every obstacle, that they might draw near to him.

For the sake of Jehovah thy God. He shows what is the source of this readiness and cheerfulness. It is because the Gentiles shall know that they have to do with God; for, if we contemplate Christ merely as man, we shall not be powerfully affected by his doctrine, but when we behold God in him, an astonishing warmth of affection is kindled in our hearts. Now, Christ is here described as a minister appointed by God to perform his work; for he assumes the character of a servant along with our flesh, and in this respect there is no impropriety in his being subjected to the Father, as if he belonged to the rank of other men.

Yet we ought to keep in remembrance what we have frequently seen as to the union of the Head and the members; for what is now said concerning Christ relates to the whole body, and therefore the glorifying is common to the whole Church. Yet Christ always holds the highest rank; for, being raised on high, he is exalted above the whole world, that to him there may be a concourse of all nations. In a word, he shows that men obey Christ and submit to his doctrine, because God hath exalted him, and hath determined to make his pre-eminence known to all men; for otherwise the preaching of the gospel would be of little use, if God did not give power and efficacy to his doctrine by the Spirit.

6. Seek ye Jehovah. After having spoken of the good success of the gospel among the Gentiles, who formerly were strangers to the kingdom of God, he urges the Jews to be ashamed of loitering while others run; for since they were the first who were called, it is shameful that they should be last. This exhortation, therefore, relates strictly to the Jews, to whom the example of the Gentiles is held out in order to excite their jealousy; in the same manner as the Lord hath foretold that “he would provoke the Jews to jealousy by a foolish nation.” (<053221>Deuteronomy 32:21)

While he is found. “The time of finding” is here used not exactly in the same sense as in <193206>Psalm 32:6,  F928 but as the time when God offers himself to us, as in other passages he has limited a fixed day for his good‑pleasure and our salvation. (<234908>Isaiah 49:8) Yet I readily admit that it likewise denotes the time when necessity prompts us to seek God’s assistance; but we ought chiefly to remember that God is sought at a seasonable time, when of his own accord he advances to meet us; for in vain shall indolent and sluggish persons lament that they had been deprived of that grace which they rejected. The Lord sometimes endures our sluggishness, and bears with us; but if ultimately he do not succeed, he will withdraw, and will bestow his grace on others. For this reason Christ exhorts us to walk while it is day, for the night cometh when the means of pursuing our journey shall be taken from us. (<431235>John 12:35) We ought to draw high consolation from being assured that it is not in vain for us to seek God. “Seek,” says Christ, “and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened; ask, and it shall be given to you.” (<400707>Matthew 7:7)

Call upon him while he is near. The word “call” may here be taken in a general sense; but I think that it denotes one description of” seeking” God, which is of more importance than all the others, as if he commanded us to betake ourselves to him by prayers and supplications. He says that he is “near,” when he opens the door and gently invites us to come to him, or when he comes forth publicly, so that we do not need to seek him through long windings. But we must attend to Paul’s definition, who tells us that it denotes the preaching of the gospel. (<451008>Romans 10:8) “The Lord is nigh,” (<500405>Philippians 4:5) and exhibits himself to us, when the voice of the gospel cries aloud; and we do not need to seek far, or to make long circuits, as unbelievers do; for he exhibits himself to us in his word, that we, on our part, may draw near to him.

7. Let the wicked man forsake his way. He confirms the former statement; for, having formerly called men to receive the grace of God, he now describes more largely the manner of receiving it. We know how hypocrites loudly call on God whenever they desire relief from their distresses, and yet shut up their hearts by wicked obstinacy;  F929 and therefore, that the Jews may not be hypocritical in seeking God, he exhorts them to sincere piety. Hence we infer that the doctrine of repentance ought always to accompany the promise of salvation; for in no other way can men taste the goodness of God than by abhorring themselves on account of their sins, and renouncing themselves and the world. And indeed no man will sincerely desire to be reconciled to God and to obtain pardon of sins till he is moved by a true and earnest repentance.

By three forms of expression he describes the nature of repentance, — first, “Let the wicked man forsake, his way;” secondly, “The unrighteous man his thoughts;” thirdly, “Let him return to the Lord.” Under the word way he includes the whole course of life, and accordingly demands that they bring forth the fruits of righteousness as witnesses of their newness of life. By adding the word thoughts he intimates that we must not only correct outward actions, but must begin with the heart; for although in the opinion of men we appear to change our manner of life for the better, yet we shall have made little proficiency if the heart be not changed.

Thus repentance embraces a change of the whole man; for in man we view inclinations, purposes, and then works. The works of men are visible, but the root within is concealed. This must first be changed, that it may afterwards yield fruitful works. We must first wash away from the mind all uncleanness, and conquer wicked inclinations, that outward testimonies may afterwards be added. And if any man boast that he has been changed, and yet live as he was wont to do, it will be vain-boasting; for both are requisite, conversion of the heart, and change of life.

Besides, God does not command us to return to him before he has applied a remedy to revolt; for hypocrites will willingly endure that we praise what is good and right, provided that they be at liberty to crouch amidst their filth. But we can have nothing to do with God if we do not withdraw from ourselves, especially when we have been alienated by wicked variance; and therefore self-denial goes before, that it may lead us to God.

And he will have mercy on him. We ought carefully to examine this context, for he shows that men cannot be led to repentance in any other way than by holding out assurance of pardon. Whoever, then, inculcates the doctrine of repentance, without mentioning the mercy of God and reconciliation through free grace, labors to no purpose; just as the Popish doctors imagine that they have discharged their duty well when they have dwelt largely on this point, and yet do but chatter and trifle about the doctrine of repentance. But although they taught the true method of repenting, yet it would be of little avail, seeing that they leave out the foundation of freely‑bestowed pardon, by which alone consciences can be pacified. And indeed, as we have formerly said, a sinner will always shrink from the presence of God so long as he is dragged to his judgment-seat to give an account of his life, and will never be subdued to fear and obedience till his heart is brought into a state of peace.

For he aboundeth in pardoning. Now, because it is difficult to remove terror from trembling minds, Isaiah draws all argument from the nature of God, that he will be ready to pardon and to be reconciled. Thus the Holy Spirit dwells on this part of doctrine, because we always doubt whether or not God is willing to pardon us; for, although we entertain some thoughts of his mercy, yet we do not venture fully to believe that, it belongs to us. It is not without reason, therefore, that this clause is added, that we may not be hindered by uncertainty or doubt as to his infinite compassion toward us.

8. For my thoughts are not your thoughts. This passage is expounded in various ways. Some think that it condemns universally the life of men, that they may not be satisfied with it or flatter their vices; for we cannot approach to God but by taking away a false conviction of our own righteousness. And indeed none call for physicians but those who are driven by the violence of disease to seek both health and remedies. Accordingly, this passage is compared by them to that saying of our Lord,

“What ranks high among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (<421615>Luke 16:15)

But the Prophet’s meaning, I think, is different, and is more correctly explained, according to my judgment, by other commentators, who think that he draws a distinction between God’s disposition and man’s disposition. Men are wont to judge and measure God from themselves; for their hearts are moved by angry passions, and are very difficult to be appeased; and therefore they think that they cannot be reconciled to God, when they have once offended him. But the Lord shows that he is far from resembling men. As if he had said, “I am not a mortal man, that I should show myself to be harsh and irreconcilable to you. F930 My thoughts are very different from yours. If you are implacable, and can with difficulty be brought back to a state of friendship with those from whom you have received an injury, I am not like you, that I should treat you so cruelly.”

9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth. This agrees well with that passage in which David, describing the mercy of God, says, (<19A311>Psalm 103:11) that it is as much more excellent “as the heavens are higher than the earth;” for although the application is different, yet the meaning is the same. In short, God is infinitely compassionate and infinitely ready to forgive; so that it ought to be ascribed exclusively to our unbelief, if we do not obtain pardon from him.  F931

There is nothing that troubles our consciences more than when we think that God is like ourselves; for the consequence is, that we do not venture to approach to him, and flee from him as an enemy, and are never at rest. But they who measure God by themselves as a standard form a false idea and altogether contrary to his nature; and indeed they cannot do him a greater injury than this. Are men, who are corrupted and debased by sinful desires, not ashamed to compare God’s lofty and uncorrupted nature with their own, and to confine what is infinite within those narrow limits by which they feel themselves to be wretchedly restrained? In what prison could any of us be more straightly shut up than in our own unbelief?

This appears to me to be the plain and simple meaning of the Prophet. And yet I do not deny that he alludes, at the same time, to the life of men such as he formerly described it to be. In a word, he means that men must forget themselves, when they wish to be converted to God, and that no obstacle can be greater or more destructive than when we think that God is irreconcilable. We must therefore root out of our minds this false imagination.

Moreover, we learn from it how widely they err who abuse the mercy of God, so as to draw from it greater encouragement to sin. The Prophet reasons thus, “Repent, forsake your ways; for the mercy of God is infinite.” When men despair or doubt as to obtaining pardon, they usually become more hardened and obstinate; but when they feel that God is merciful, this draws and converts them. It follows, therefore, that they who do not cease to live wickedly, and who are not changed in heart, have no share in this mercy.

10. Surely, as the rain cometh down. After having spoken of God’s tender affection and inconceivable forbearance towards us, he again brings forward the promises, that, by relying on them, we may banish all doubt of being free from every danger. It would be of little avail to speak to us about the nature or the secret purpose of God, if we were not reminded of “the word,” by which he reveals himself. Now, God speaks openly to us, so that it is unnecessary to make longer inquiry. We must. therefore come to the word, in which his will is declared without obscurity, provided that all our senses are confined within those limits; for otherwise we remain in suspense, and doubt what he has determined concerning us, even though the Lord declare a thousand times that he is altogether unlike men; for, although men acknowledge this, yet they wish to be certain about themselves and their salvation.  F932 For this reason we ought carefully to observe the order which is followed by the Prophet. Thus also Moses recalled the people to the knowledge of God. “Say not thou, Who shall ascend to heaven? or, Who shall descend into the deep? The word is nigh, in thy mouth and in thy heart.” (<053012>Deuteronomy 30:12) “That is,” saith Paul, “the word of faith which we preach.” (<451008>Romans 10:8)

He employs a comparison drawn from daily experience and wonderfully appropriate; for, if we see great efficacy in the rain, which waters and fertilizes the earth, much greater efficacy will God display in his word. The rain is transitory and liable to corruption; but the word is eternal, unchangeable, and incorruptible, and cannot, like the rain, vanish away.

That we may more fully understand the Prophet’s words, we must keep in view the end at which he aims. Men doubt if God will actually perform what he promises in his word; for we look upon the word, as if it were suspended in the air and had no effect. How shocking this is, he demonstrates from the very course of nature; for it is in the highest degree unreasonable to ascribe less to the word than to a dumb creature; and therefore he teaches us, that his word never fails of its effect. Some understand this to mean that the preaching of the Gospel is never unprofitable, but always produces some fruit. This is true in itself; for the Lord worketh by his Spirit, and “giveth increase,” (<460307>1 Corinthians 3:7) so that the labor of his servants is not unproductive. But the Prophet’s meaning was different; namely, that God does not speak in vain or scatter his promises into the air, but that we shall actually receive the fruit of them, provided that we do not prevent it by our unbelief.

But watereth the earth, and causeth it to bring forth. He mentions two effects produced by the watering of the rain, which fertilizes the earth; first, that men have abundance of food for their support; and secondly, that they have seed for procuring a crop in the following year. If therefore in things of a transitory nature the power of God is so great, what must we think of the word? F933

11. So shall my word be. The word goeth out of the mouth of God in such a manner that it likewise “goeth out of the mouth” of men; for God does not speak openly from heaven, but employs men as his instruments, that by their agency he may make known his will. But the authority of the promises is more fully confirmed, when we are told that they proceed from the sacred mouth of God. Although, therefore, he brings forward witnesses from the earth, he declares that all that they have promised shall be ratified and sure; and, in order to impress more deeply on the minds of men the power and efficacy of preaching, he declares that he does not cast that precious seed at random, but appoints it for a fixed purpose, and consequently that we ought to entertain no doubt as to the effect; for there is nothing to which mortals are more prone than to judge of God from themselves so as to withhold belief from his voice.

This doctrine must be frequently repeated and inculcated, that we may know that God will do what. he hath once spoken. For this reason, when we hear the promises of God, we ought to consider what is his design in them; so that, when he promises the free pardon of our sins, we may be fully assured that we are reconciled through Christ. But, as the word of God is efficacious for the salvation of believers, so it is abundantly efficacious for condemning the wicked; as Christ also teacheth, “The word which I have spoken, that shall judge him at the last day.”

12. Therefore ye shall go out with joy. The Prophet concludes the subject of this chapter; for, when he spoke of the mercy of God, his object was, to convince the Jews that the Lord would deliver them. He now applies to his purpose what was contained in his discourse concerning the infinite goodness of God, and shows that his thoughts are very unlike the thoughts of men. And the true way of teaching is this, that we should apply general statements for present use. Finally, he treats of the restoration of the people, which depended on the undeserved mercy of God.

The mountains and hills shall break out before you. By “the mountains and hills” he means that everything which they shall meet in the journey, though in other respects it be injurious, shall aid those who shall return to Jerusalem. They are metaphors, by which he shows that all the creatures bow to the will of God, and rejoice and lend their aid to carry on his work. He alludes to the deliverance from Egypt, (<021422>Exodus 14:22) as is customary with the Prophets; for thus is it described by the Psalmist, “The mountains leaped like rams, and the hills like lambs. What ailed thee, O sea, that thou fleddest, and Jordan, (<060316>Joshua 3:16) that thou wast driven back? (<19B404>Psalm 114:4, 5) For the restoration of the Church may be regarded as a renovation of the whole world, and in consequence of this, heaven and earth are said to be changed, as if their order were reversed. But all this depended on former predictions, by which they had received a promise of their return.

13. Instead of the bramble  F934 shall come up the fir-tree. He still extols the power of God, which would be visible in the restoration of the people; for he shows that the change will be such that they shall have an easy road to return. Some explain it allegorically, and suppose that by “brambles” are meant men who wish to do injury, and who inflict wounds on others, and that these shall be “fir‑trees,” that is, trees that bear fruit and that are useful to their neighbors; but in expositions of that kind ingenuity is carried to excess. When they say that these things relate to the kingdom of Christ, and on that account ought to be understood in a spiritual sense, I agree with them; for the Prophet begins with the departure from Babylon, and includes the whole condition of the Church, till Christ was manifested to the world. But the propriety of that allegory must not therefore be admitted; for he speaks of the departure from Babylon, and, in order to open it up for his people, he says that he will remove every obstacle, and will supply them with everything necessary, so that they shall suffer no inconvenience. In like manner, when Christ promises the benefit of redemption, he likewise takes away everything that would injure or retard, and even turns those things to a different and totally opposite purpose, that from them also they may receive some benefit. All things (<450828>Romans 8:28) tend to the advantage of believers, and those things which would otherwise be injurious and destructive, are employed by God as remedies to purify them, that they may not be devoted to the world, but may become more ready and cheerful in the service of their Master.  F935

And shall be to Jehovah for a name. When he says that it shall be to God “for a name,” he shows what is the design of the restoration of the Church. It is, that the name of God may be more illustrious among men, and that the remembrance of him may flourish and be maintained. On this account he adds that it shall be a perpetual sign, that is, a monument, and, as we commonly say, a memorial; and although, amidst these tempests, the Church be tossed and agitated in various ways, yet, because the Lord wishes that the remembrance of his name may be everlasting, he will guard and defend her.


CHAPTER 56.

Go To Isaiah 56:1-12

1. Thus saith Jehovah. This is a remarkable passage, in which the Prophet shows what God demands from us, as soon as he holds out tokens of his favor, or promises that he will be ready to be reconciled to us, that our reconciliation may be secured. He demands from us such a conversion as shall change our minds and hearts, that they may forsake the world and rise towards heaven; and next he likewise calls for the fruits of repentance.

Keep ye judgment, and do righteousness. Under the names “judgment” and “righteousness,” he includes all the duties which men owe to each other, and which consist not only in abstaining from doing wrong, but also in rendering assistance to our neighbors. And this is the sum of the second table of the Law, in keeping which we give proof of our piety, if we have any. For this reason the prophets always draw our attention to that table; because by means of it our real character is better known, and true uprightness is ascertained; for hypocrites, as we have formerly seen, F936 often practice deceit by ceremonies.

For my salvation is near, and my righteousness. He assigns the reason, and at the same time points out the source and the cause why it is the duty of all to devote themselves to newness of life. It is because “the righteousness of the Lord approaches to us,” that we, on our part, ought to draw near to him. The Lord calls himself “righteous,” and declares that this is “his righteousness,” not because he keeps it shut up in himself, but because he pours it out on men. In like manner he calls it “his salvation,” by which he delivers men from destruction.

Although this discourse was addressed to the Jews, that, by sincere affection of heart, and by the practice of integrity, they might show their gratitude to God their Redeemer, yet it refers to every one of us; for the whole world is ruined in itself, if it do not obtain salvation from God alone. We must therefore attend to this exhortation, which instructs us that the nearer we are to God, so much the more powerfully ought we to be excited to the practice of godliness. Hence also Paul admonishes believers, F937 “Cast. away the works of darkness; put on the armor of light; for our salvation is nearer than we thought.” (<451311>Romans 13:11, 12)

2. Happy is the man that shall do this. When he calls those persons “happy” who, having embraced this doctrine, devote themselves to walk uprightly, he indirectly leads us to conclude that many will be deaf or disobedient; but, lest their wickedness or indifference should retard the elect, he recommends the exhortation which he has given from the advantage which it yields. Thus, in order that believers may abandon all delay, he exclaims that they are “happy” to whom it hath been given F938 to possess such wisdom.

Keeping the Sabbath. We have said that the words “justice” and “judgment,” in the preceding verse, include all the duties of the second table; but here he mentions the Sabbath, which belongs to the first table. I reply, as I have already mentioned briefly, that they who live inoffensively and justly with their neighbors, testify that they serve God; and therefore we need not wonder that the Prophet, after having glanced at the second table, mentions also the first; for both ought to be joined together In a word, Isaiah declares that he who shall obey God by keeping his law perfectly shall be “happy;” for the salvation and the righteousness of God shall belong to him. Since, therefore, men wander at random amidst their contrivances, and adopt various methods of worshipping God, he shows that there is only one way, that is, when men endeavor to frame and regulate their life by the injunction of the Law; for otherwise they will weary themselves in vain by taking other roads. In short, this is a remarkable passage, showing that nothing pleases God but keeping the Law.

If the question be put, “Can men obtain righteousness and salvation by their own works?” the reply will be easy; for the Lord does not offer salvation to us, as if he had been anticipated by our merits, (for, on the contrary, we are anticipated by him,) but offers himself freely to us, and only demands that we, on our part, draw near to him. Since therefore he willingly invites us, since he offers righteousness through free grace, we must make every effort not to be deprived of so great a benefit.

Again, because the Sabbath, as Moses declares, (<023113>Exodus 31:13, 17) and as <262012>Ezekiel 20:12 repeats, was the most important symbol of the worship of God, so by that figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole, and which is called a synecdoche, the Sabbath includes all the exercises of religion. But we must view the Sabbath in connection with everything that attends it; for God does not rest satisfied with outward ceremony, or delight in our indolence, but demands from us earnest self‑denial, that we may be entirely devoted to his service.

So that he may not profane it. This clause is commonly rendered, “That he may not profane it; “ and literally it runs thus, “From profaning it; “ and therefore we have thought it proper to prefix the word “so” to the clause, “So that he may not profane it,” in order to remove all ambiguity.

And keeping his hand, that he may abstain from all that is evil. He now adds another synecdoche, to describe the duties which men owe to each other. The amount of it is, that there is no other way of serving God aright but by sincere piety and a blameless life, as he has also included in these two parts the rule of leading a holy life. In a word, it is an exposition of true righteousness which is contained in the Law of the Lord, that we may acquiesce in it; for in vain do men seek any other road to perfection. Here also are thrown down all false worship and superstitions, and, finally, everything that is contrived by men in opposition to the word of God.

3. And let not the son who is a foreigner  F939 say. The Prophet shows that this grace of God shall be such that even they who formerly were estranged from him, and against whom the door might be said to have been shut, may obtain a new condition, or may be perfectly restored. And he meets their complaint, that they may not say that they are rejected, or unworthy, or “foreigners,” or excluded by any mark; for the Lord will remove every obstacle. This may refer both to Jews, who had been brought into a condition similar to that of foreign nations by a temporary rejection, and to the heathen nations themselves. For my own part, I willingly extend it to both, that it may agree with the prediction of Hosea,

“I will call them my people who were not my people.” (<280110>Hosea 1:10)

Joined to Jehovah. When he says that they are “joined to God,” he gives warning that this consolation belongs to those only who have followed God when he called them; for there are many “eunuchs” on whom God does not bestow his favor, and many “foreigners” who do not join themselves to the people of God. This promise is therefore limited to those who have been called and have obeyed.

By calling them “foreigners” and “eunuchs,” he describes under both classes all who appear to be unworthy of being reckoned by God in the number of his people; for God had separated for himself a peculiar people, and had afterwards driven them out of his inheritance. The Gentiles were entirely shut out from his kingdom, as is sufficiently evident from the whole of Scripture. Paul says,

“Ye were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But now by Christ Jesus, ye who formerly were far off have been made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
(<490212>Ephesians 2:12, 13)

The Gentiles, therefore, might at first doubt whether or not the benefit of adoption, which was literally intended for the Jews, belonged to them. We see also how much the Apostles shrunk from it, when the Lord commanded them (<411615>Mark 16:15) to “preach the Gospel through the whole world;” for they thought that the doctrine of salvation was profaned if it was communicated indiscriminately to Gentiles as well as to Jews. The same hesitation might harass the elect people, from the time that their banishment from the holy land became a sign of the rejection of them; and therefore the Prophet commands them to dismiss their doubts.

And let not the eunuch say. By the same figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, he includes under this designation all who bore any mark of disgrace which kept them apart~ from the people of God; for “eunuchs,” and those who had no children, appeared to be rejected by God and shut out from the promise which the Lord had made to Abraham, that “his seed should be as the stars of heaven, (<011505>Genesis 15:5) and as the sand of the sea.” (<012217>Genesis 22:17) In a word, he warns all men against looking at themselves, that they may fix their minds exclusively on God’s calling, and may thus imitate the faith of Abraham, (<011506>Genesis 15:6) who did not look at either his own decayed body or the barren womb of Sarah, so as through unbelief to dispute with himself about the power of God, but hoped above all hope. (<450418>Romans 4:18‑20) The Prophet addresses persons who were despised and reproached; for, as Peter says,

“there is no respect of persons with God, but in every nation he who feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted by him.” (<441034>Acts 10:34, 35)

4. For thus saith Jehovah. Now follows a confirmation; for the sincere worshippers of God, who keep the sabbaths and follow the righteousness of the Law, though they be “eunuchs,”  F940 or labor under any other obstruction, shall nevertheless have a place in the Church. He appears to annihilate in this manner all the external marks  F941 in which alone the Jews gloried; for the high rank of the Church is not external, but spiritual; and although believers have no emblems of distinction in the eyes of the world, and are even despised and reproached, yet they rank high in the sight of God.

And choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant. With the “keeping of the Sabbath,” he connects obedience and adherence to “the covenant;” and hence we may readily infer that, when he spoke hitherto about the Sabbath, he had in view not an idle ceremony but perfect holiness. At the same time, he again lays a restraint on the children of God, not to make even the smallest departure from the injunction of the Law; for they are permitted to “choose,” not whatever they think fit, but that which God declares to be pleasing and acceptable to himself. Wherefore both hypocrisy and inconsiderate zeal are here condemned, when God not only contrasts his own commandments with the inventions of men, but enjoins them earnestly to “take hold of his covenant.”

5. I will give to them in my house. Here we see that all men, however unworthy, may obtain admission into the kingdom of God. he alludes to Jerusalem, and to the temple in which the Lord placed a memorial of his name. No place was given in it to any but to the Jews alone; and they would have reckoned the temple to be polluted, if any of the Gentiles had entered into it. Hence also a serious insurrection arose against Paul for having brought into the temple uncircumcised persons. The Lord now admits, without distinction, those whom he previously forbade; and indeed he set aside this distinction, when we, who were the children of strangers, were brought by him into the temple, that is, into his Church, which is not confined, as formerly, within those narrow limits of Judea, but is extended through the whole world.

A place and a name. dy (yad) is here put for place, as in many other passages. It might also be supposed to denote “authority,” or “power; “ for they shall be elevated to such dignity as to be accounted the children of God.

Better than of sons and of daughters. A question may arise, Does the Lord compare the Jews who were at that time in the Church, with the believers whom he shall afterwards place in their room; or, does he contrast the future condition of the people with their condition at that time? For it is certain that “the name” of the Gentiles is “better” than that of the Jews, who were “cut off on account of their unbelief; “ and we have succeeded in their room, “as wild olives ingrafted into a good olive tree,” as Paul says. (<451124>Romans 11:24) The meaning’ might therefore be, that “eunuchs” and “foreigners” shall have “a better name” than children and domestics, who were regarded as God’s heritage. But I choose rather to explain it in a different manner, namely, that the dignity of believers shall be higher under Christ than it was under the Law. The patriarchs had a very excellent “name,” when they called upon God as their Father, and were joined in covenant with him; but the grace of God has been far more abundantly poured out upon us since the coming of Christ; and therefore we have obtained in him a far more excellent name.

A perpetual name. He calls this name “perpetual,” because it is written in heaven, where it shall live and flourish throughout all ages. Wicked men wish to have their name made illustrious in this world, and labor to promote their reputation, that the remembrance of their name may last for ever; but it is fading and of short duration. But far different is this name; for it makes us heirs of the heavenly kingdom, so that in the presence of angels we are reckoned to be the children of God.

We might also interpret ynbm (mibbanim) to mean, “than the name which is derived from children;  F942 for men, by having children, do in some respect perpetuate their own name. He promises that this name shall be far more excellent. But I prefer to follow the former exposition.

6. The children of the foreigner who shall be joined to Jehovah. He repeats the same thing which he had formerly said, that God will open the doors of his temple to all men without distinction, so that there shall no longer be a distinction between the Jew and the Greek. He declares that those whom God brings into a state of friendship with himself by the word, which is the bond of our adoption, are “joined to God.” This is “the betrothing in mercy and faithfulness” which is mentioned by Hosea. (<280219>Hosea 2:19, 20) Not only does he grant to them a temple in which they may adore him as the body of the people were wont to do, but he assigns to them a more honorable rank, that they, nay minister to him; that is, God acknowledges as priests or Levites those who were formerly heathens.

And that they may love the name of Jehovah. We must observe the end of the calling, which is here stated; for he says that they shall be God’s ministers on condition that they love his name. Thus hypocrites are here excluded; for the calling joins two things together, that we serve God, and that our service be with a ready and cheerful disposition of mind. There can be no worship of God, if we do not willingly and readily yield obedience. What is said about alms, that “God loveth a cheerful giver,” (<470907>2 Corinthians 9:7) ought to be applied to every part of life, that we render to God willing service.

Whosoever shall keep my Sabbath. He again mentions the Sabbath; and we have said that under this word is included the whole worship of God. In observing it the people overlooked that which was of the highest importance; for, by resting satisfied with outward ceremony, they neglected the truth, that is, reformation of life. The Lord enjoined them to rest in such a manner as to keep both their hands and their minds from all crime and wickedness.

And shall embrace my covenant. Here he describes the zeal and steadfastness of those who submit themselves to God and cleave to his word; and therefore, if we are joined to God by a covenant, we ought to hold by it constantly, and adhere firmly to sound doctrine, so that it may not be possible to withdraw or separate us from him in any manner.

7. These will I bring. By these modes of expression he describes what he had formerly stated, that foreigners who were formerly excluded from the Church of God, are called to it; so that henceforth the distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision shall be abolished. This cannot refer to proselytes, who were received into the number of God’s people by circumcision, for that would have been nothing new or uncommon; but he testifies that the grace of God shall be diffused throughout the whole world; and this cannot be accomplished without uniting the Gentiles to the Jews so as to form one body, which happened when the difference between circumcision and uncircumcision was taken out of the way. There is therefore nothing now to prevent Gentiles from ministering to God, seeing that they have been called into the temple, that is, into the assembly of believers. Not only so, but we saw a little before, that the priesthood is removed from the tribe of Levi, not only to the whole body of the people, but even to foreigners.

How strongly the Jews abhor this sentiment is well known; for, although they read these words of the Prophet, yet they reckon it to be utterly monstrous that the Gentiles should be called to this distinguished benefit of God which was especially intended for them. Yet the Prophet’s meaning is so plain, that it cannot without the greatest impudence be called in question. He extols this grace from the fruit which it yields; for true and perfect happiness is, to be reconciled to God and to enjoy his favor. We know, indeed, that wicked men indulge excessively in mirth; but that mirth is turned into gnashing of teeth, because the curse of God rests upon it. But God fills the hearts of believers with the most delightful joy, not only by showing that he is reconciled to them, but by the manifestation of his favor and kindness in their prosperity. Yet their highest joy is that which springs from “peace” of conscience, which Paul ascribes to “the kingdom of God,” (<451401>Romans 14:1-7) and which we enjoy when we are reconciled to God by Christ. (<450501>Romans 5:1)

Their burnt-offerings and sacrifices shall be acceptable. He promises that their sacrifices shall be acceptable to him, because all have been called on this condition, that they shall offer themselves and all that they have to God. By the word “sacrifices,” he means such spiritual worship of God as is enjoined in the Gospel; for the Prophet spoke in accordance with what was customary in his time, when the worship of God was wrapped up in a variety of ceremonies. But now, instead of sacrifices, we offer to God praises, thanksgivings, good works, and finally ourselves. When he declares that they shall be acceptable, let us not imagine that; this arises from their own value or excellence, but from God’s undeserved kindness; for he might justly reject them, if he looked at them in themselves. This ought to be a spur to excite in us a strong desire to worship God, when we see that our works, which are of no value, are accepted by God as if they had been pure sacrifices.

He adds, On my altar; because in no other manner could the sacrifices be acceptable to God than “on the altar,” by which “they were sanctified.” (<402319>Matthew 23:19) Thus all that we offer will be polluted, if it be not “sanctified” by Christ, who is our altar.

For my house shall be called a house of prayer. Formerly the temple was appointed for the Jews alone, whom in an especial manner the Lord desired to call upon him; for, when Paul shows that the Jews have a superiority over the Gentiles, he says that latrei>a, that is, “the worship of God,” is theirs. (<450904>Romans 9:4) Thus by an extraordinary privilege, such as the rest of the nations were not permitted to enjoy, a temple was built among them. But now the distinction has been removed, and all men, to whatsoever nation or place they belong, are freely admitted into the temple, that is, into the house of God. This temple has been enlarged to such a degree, that it extends to every part of the whole world; for all nations have been called to the worship of God.

Here we have the manifest difference between the Law and the Gospel; for under the Law the true worship of God was observed by one nation only, for whose sake the temple was especially dedicated to him; but now all are freely admitted without distinction into the temple of God, that they may worship him purely in it, that is, everywhere. We must attend to the form of expression, which is customary and familiar to the Prophets, who employ, as we have already said, figures that correspond to their own age, and, under the name of “Sacrifices” and of “the Temple,” describe the pure worship of God. He paints the spiritual kingdom of Christ, under which we may everywhere “lift up pure hands,” (<540208>1 Timothy 2:8) and call upon God; and, as Christ saith, God is not now to be adored in that temple, but “the true worshippers worship him in spirit and in truth.” (<430424>John 4:24)

For this reason we see a fulfillment of this plain prophecy, namely, that “to all peoples the house of God hath become the house of prayer,” that all may “call upon him, Abba, Father,” (<450815>Romans 8:15; <480406>Galatians 4:6) that is, in every language; that henceforth the Jews may not boast that they alone have God. Thus the prophets were under a necessity of accommodating their discourse to their own time, and to the ordinary services of religion, that they might be understood by all; for the time of full revelation was not yet come, but the worship of God was clothed with various figures. Yet undoubtedly the temple, which had been consecrated to the name of God, was actually his house; for he testified by Moses that he would be in all places where he made mention of his name, (<022024>Exodus 20:24) and Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, said, “When they shall come to pray in this house, thou wilt hear in heaven, in thy habitation.” (<110830>1 Kings 8:30) And accordingly Christ reproves the Jews for “turning his Father’s house into a den of robbers,” (<402113>Matthew 21:13; <411117>Mark 11:17) and connects this passage with a passage in the book of the Prophet <240711>Jeremiah 7:11

Christ calls the temple “the house of prayer,” with reference to that time when the Gospel had not yet been published; for although he was come, he was not yet known, and the ceremonies of the Law were not abolished. But when “the vail of the temple was rent,” (<402751>Matthew 27:51) and pardon of sins was proclaimed, these applauses of the temple ceased along with other ceremonies; for God began to be everywhere called upon by “all peoples.”

Yet it must here be observed that we are called into the Church, in order that we may call on God; for in vain do they boast who neglect prayer and true calling upon God, and yet hold a place in the Church. In whatever place we are, therefore, let us not neglect this exercise of faith; for we learn from the words of Isaiah, as it is also said, (<190101>Psalm 1:14) that this is the highest and most excellent sacrifice which God demands; so that the holiness of the temple consists in prayers being there offered continually.

8. The Lord Jehovah saith. Isaiah again confirms what he formerly testified as to the restoration of the people; for although he extolled in lofty terms the grace of God, by which he would deliver his people, yet the condition of the Church was such that promises of this kind appeared to be ridiculous. Such repetitions, therefore, are not superfluous, but were necessarily added in order to strengthen feeble minds, that they might be fully convinced of that which was otherwise incredible.

Who gathereth the outcasts of Israel. It is with reference to the subject in hand that he bestows on God this title; for it belongs to him to gather a scattered church, and the same words, “he gathereth the outcasts of Israel,” are used here in the same sense. (<19E702>Psalm 147:2) Thus he promises that he will assemble them, and not them only, but that he will add to them various “peoples,” that the Church may be very numerously increased and multiplied. Whenever therefore we are drawn by various calamities of the Church to doubt as to his gathering them together, we ought to interpose this shield: “It belongeth to the Lord to gather the dispersed of Israel; and, though they are widely dispersed and scattered, yet he will easily and perfectly restore them.”

Still more will I gather upon him his gathered. I willingly keep by the literal meaning of the words of the Prophet. L[ (gnal) that is, “To,’ or “Upon; “ for he appears to me to have in view what he had said in the former verse, that the temple would be opened to all peoples; and he means that he will yet add many others to the Jews who have been gathered. This actually happened; for not only did he gather the dispersed in Babylon, but he also gathered other dispersions, which were frequent and almost of daily occurrence. Nor has he ever ceased to gather; so that he has added a large mass to those who have been gathered.

9. All ye beasts of the field. This prediction appears to be at variance with what goes before; for what the Prophet has hitherto said was full of the most delightful consolation, but now he appears to threaten fiercely, and to predict frightful ruin. These statements might indeed appear to be contradictory; but, after having comforted believers, it ought not to be thought inconsistent if he forewarn them of a future calamity that they might not lose courage when they saw everything near destruction, and that necessity might likewise prompt them to betake themselves more warmly and earnestly to the grace of God. There is also another reason, that hypocrites abuse the promises of God and hold them out under false pretenses, cherish unfounded hope, and insolently boast of those things which do not at all belong to them; and therefore Isaiah intended to take from them the ground of false boasting.

And thus his design was twofold; first, that the hearts of believers might not be discouraged by various calamities, which should bring them almost, to utter destruction, and that even when, amidst prosperity and peace, they beheld by faith at a distance a future calamity, they might rest satisfied with this single consolation; and secondly, that he might strike hypocrites with dread and horror, so that they might not exalt themselves by vain confidence, or freely indulge their sinful inclinations under the pretense of these promises. For this reason God calls not men, but savage “beasts,” that they might devour the people. He therefore forbids believers to be alarmed and tempted to unbelief, when these wild beasts shall be sent. And yet he intended also to strike terror into them, that he might arouse them to repentance, and to exhort them to seek the mercy of God, that the promises might not lose their value.

When he calls them “beasts of the field,” he means beasts of every kind, and includes not only the Babylonians and Assyrians, but Antiochus, the Romans, and other enemies of the people, who brought various calamities upon them. But he has chiefly in view the defeat which they received from the Babylonians, who carried them away into wretched bondage.

10. Her watchmen are blind. He now assigns the reason why the people must be destroyed. It is because they are governed by wicked princes and pastors; not that he wishes to throw the blame on them alone, and thinks that the people are innocent, but because this was the beginning of the evil. We are not exempted from blame, if we follow blind guides, but, on the contrary, are justly punished for our transgressions; for the Lord takes away good guides from those whom he intends to punish for their ingratitude.

By the word “Watchmen”  F943 he means not only the prophets, to whom was committed the office of teaching, but likewise judges, princes, and kings, who ought to have governed everything in a proper manner. He includes both kinds of government, that of princes, and that of the ministers of the word, whom the Lord has placed, as the two eyes in the body, to govern the Church. Consequently, if they are wicked or unfaithful, there cannot arise a more destructive plague to a commonwealth.

All are ignorant. First, he reproaches them with want of knowledge; for, as it is the chief excellence of a good shepherd to know his duty, that he may judge what is profitable and what is pernicious to the flock, and to watch laboriously, and to stand, as it were, on a watch‑tower, that he may promote their safety in every respect, so nothing is more inconsistent with that office than ignorance and blindness. No man, therefore, will be a good shepherd, unless he understands the right method of governing the people. And hence we see what we ought to think of the idols of our time, who haughtily and insolently boast of the name of shepherds or pastors; for they are untaught and ignorant beasts.

All are dumb dogs. By calling them, secondly, “dumb dogs,” he charges them with slothfulness and indifference; for, since it is the duty of a good shepherd to be industrious and careful, when he calls them slothful and indifferent, he shows that they had nothing about them that ought to belong to a shepherd. Thus, when we are deprived of good shepherds, and when lazy or even savage beasts come in their room, let us acknowledge God’s wrath, and let us know that destruction is not far off; for the Prophet threatens and foretells the ruin of the people, when shepherds are “dumb.”

Hence also it follows, that God appoints them to discharge the office of “dogs,” that is, to keep watch, to drive away robbers and thieves, and not to permit them to enter into the fold. And if dogs are so faithful guardians and so warmly attached to their masters, that they continually watch for their safety, and do not cease to drive away, by barking, those from whom danger is apprehended, shepherds, when they give themselves up to sloth and drowsiness, ought to be ashamed of being surpassed by a brute beast.

11. And those dogs strong of appetite. The third vice which he remarks in wicked pastors is insatiable avarice. Though they are lazy in all that relates to good government, yet they have a strong and ravenous appetite for food. Some view the Prophet’s words as still more extensive, and as meaning that they rule tyrannically. Ezekiel expressly reproves them for this vice; for false prophets are commonly fierce, and act cruelly and barbarously towards the people of God. (<263404>Ezekiel 34:4) But if any person examine the matter carefully, he will perceive that the Prophet speaks of their insatiable avarice, which he afterwards describes by a variety of expressions.

They look to their ways. That is, “They attend eagerly to their own affairs; every person consults his own advantage.” In short, he means that there is no man who does not wish to be preferred to others, as if every man had been born for himself.

Every one to his gain from his end.  F944 whxqm (mikkatzehu) has received various expositions. Some render it, “In his end,” that is, “In his affairs;” as if the reading had been, whxqb, (bekatzehu) But this does not agree with the Prophet’s meaning. Others render it, “From the end of his avarice.” I think that a more simple interpretation is, “From his end,” that is, “On his part; “ or as we commonly say, (Chacun en son endroict,) “Every one in his place.” Thus every one is bent on avarice, and draws and appropriates everything to himself, and consults his own advantage, without attending to the duties of his office.

Hence we learn, that no man can serve God who is given up to wicked desires; and he who shall labor to amass wealth, will not apply his mind to build up the Church of the Lord. No kind of blindness can be more dangerous than avarice; and so much the more ought it to be avoided by pastors, if they wish to be faithful servants of God. When we see the Prophet complaining of the bad pastors of his time, let us not be alarmed if we meet with the same thing in the present day, and let us not look upon it as an unusual occurrence that so few are earnestly employed in the work of the Lord.

12. Come ye, I will fetch wine. After having spoken of the avarice and carelessness of pastors, he points out their desperate wickedness and obstinacy; for he represents them as speaking, F945 and brings forward their hard‑hearted speeches, from which it is evident that they could not be brought back to the right path by any admonitions or threatenings, but fearlessly despised them all. In another passage the Prophet quoted the words of scorners, who, when the servants of God exhorted them to sackcloth and ashes, invited each other to feasting and drinking. “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die.” (<232213>Isaiah 22:13) Why do those prophets annoy us? It will never fare well with us, if we give ear to them. (<232815>Isaiah 28:15) A similar complaint is here repeated by Isaiah, that the pastors held out obstinately and seared themselves against the judgments of God.

Nor does he merely reprove them for drinking wine and strong drink, which in itself is not sinful, but for that mental drunkenness and brutality by which men haughtily and insolently despise the word of God. In other passages drunkenness and the abuse of wine are condemned; but here the Prophet exclaims against the madness and insolence with which pastors exalted themselves against God, and trampled under foot all threatenings, warnings, reproofs, and, in short, all religion. Yet there can be no doubt that he reproves the gross and shameful wickedness of burying reflection, as if on purpose, by excess of wine and feasting, that no shame or fear, no reverence for God or men, might disturb their repose; as ungodly persons do all they can to stupefy themselves by unlawful pleasures, that they may more daringly, and with less reserve, abandon themselves to wickedness.

It is a shocking and monstrous sight to behold such contempt of God and of religion, not in foreigners, not in the common people, but in governors and princes themselves, who ought to have instructed others by their example, in that sacred order which bore the image of Christ; for both kings and priests bore his likeness and image. How intolerable this pride is, by which men furiously oppose the word, is well known. We are ruined and undone, when this medicine, which is the last, is rejected by us; for we do not permit the Lord to lead us back into the right path. F946 For this reason he has threatened in another passage that “this wickedness shall not be expiated.” (<232214>Isaiah 22:14) Thus he rebukes the height of impiety; and it is of great importance for us to weigh carefully the words which follow —

As today, so tomorrow. That is, “If it is well with us today, it shall be well tomorrow. Let us not be miserable before the time.”  F947 He describes their aggravated guilt, in treating with mockery God’s gentleness and forbearance, and assuring themselves that they would escape punishment, as if God were asleep or enjoyed luxurious ease in heaven, whenever he suspended his judgments. By such diabolical proverbs, do men, even in the present day, labor to soothe and even to fascinate their consciences, that they may more fully wallow in every kind of pleasures, and indulge in their iniquities and crimes. That we may not fall, therefore, under this terrible judgment of the Lord, let every one examine himself, and perceive at a distance the wrath of God, that it may not attack us suddenly and unprepared.


CHAPTER 57.

Go To Isaiah 57:1-21

1. The righteous man hath perished. Isaiah continues his subject; for, after having shown how fearlessly hypocrites indulge in their luxuries, and with what impudence they despise the word of God, he likewise complains that they do not consider the works of God. We have been placed here, as in a spacious theater, to behold the works of God; and there is no work of God so small that we ought to pass by it; lightly, but all ought to be carefully and diligently observed.

And no man layeth it to heart. The Lord holds out as a mirror this event of his providence, more remarkable than all others, that he takes away good and worthy men out of this life, when he determines to chastise his people severely. But no man considers it, or reflects that it is a token of approaching destruction, that God gathers them, and places them in safety from being distressed by prevailing afflictions. The general meaning is, that wicked men grievously deceive themselves by supposing that there is no greater happiness than to have life continued to a great age, and by thus pluming themselves on their superiority to the servants of God, who die early. Being attached to the world, they likewise harden themselves by this pretense, that, by nothing else than a manifestation of God’s favor towards them, while others die, they continue to be safe and sound.

Men of mercy are gathered. If by “men of mercy” be meant kind or tender-hearted men, this description ought to be carefully studied, by which the Prophet shows what is the true righteousness of the children of God; for hypocrites reckon this to be of no value. But nothing is more acceptable to God than kindness, by which we give evidence of our righteousness, and manifest that our heart is free from all hypocrisy. Yet we may with equal propriety take the phrase “men of mercy” in a passive sense, as meaning those whom the Lord has embraced by his mercy; for it is a phrase of frequent occurrence in Hebrew writings. Nor will it be inappropriate to suppose that there is an implied contrast between the grace of God and the wicked and unfavorable judgments of men; for they are wont to look on those persons as condemned who are taken away in the flower of their age. But, since God, in many passages of Scripture, represents gentleness and kindness as a distinguishing mark of his children, this may be, as I have said, a definition of true righteousness.

Hence we see that the Lord, at that time, gathered many good men, whose death portended some dreadful calamity, and yet that the Jews paid no regard to such forewarnings, and even proceeded to more daring lengths of wickedness; for they thought that all went well with them, when they were the survivors of many excellent men. This doctrine is highly appropriate to every age. It frequently happens that God takes good men out of this world, when he intends to punish severely the iniquities of the ungodly; for the Lord, having a peculiar regard to his own people, takes compassion upon them, and, as it were, snatches them from the burning, that even survivors may perceive in it the wrath of God. And yet this is not an invariable rule; for righteous men are frequently involved, along with the reprobate, in temporal punishments; but it is so frequent that it rarely happens otherwise. F948

In our own times a remarkable instance of this was given in the death of Luther, who was snatched from the world a short time before that terrible calamity befell Germany, which he had foretold many years before, when he exclaimed loudly against that contempt of the Gospel, and that wickedness and licentiousness which everywhere prevailed. Frequently had he entreated the Lord. to call him out of this life before he beheld that dreadful punishment, the anticipation of which filled him with trembling and horror. And he obtained it from the Lord. Soon after his death, lo, a sudden and unforeseen war sprang up, by which Germany was terribly afflicted, when nothing was farther from her thoughts than the dread of such a calamity.

Instances of this kind occur every day; and if men observed them, they would not so heedlessly flatter themselves and their vices. But I thought it right to take special notice of this event, both because it happened lately, F949 and because in so distinguished a preacher of the Gospel and prophet of God it must be more clearly seen. We ought, therefore, to consider diligently the worlds of the Lord, both in the life and in the death of “the righteous,” but especially in their death, by which the Lord calls them away to a better life, that they may be rescued from those afflictions in which the wicked must be plunged.

2. Peace shall come. The Prophet describes what shall be the condition of believers in death; for the wicked, who think that there is no life but the present, imagine that good men have perished; because in death they see nothing but ruin. For this reason he says that “Peace shall come,” which is more desirable than a thousand lives full of trouble; as if he compared them to discharged soldiers, who are and allowed to enjoy case and quietness.

They shall rest in their beds. He adds the metaphor of sleep, in order to show that they shall be absolutely free from all the uneasiness of cares, just as if they were safely pleasantly asleep “on their beds.”

Whosoever walketh before him.  F950 I do not think that the verb “walketh” is connected with wl, (shalom,) “peace,” as some do, who suppose the meaning to be this, that peace shall go before believers, so as to be, as it were, the guide of their life. But I am of opinion that believers, on the contrary, are described by it; as if he had said, “Whosoever walketh before God shall enjoy peace.” Thus, when righteous men die, and their various labors are finished, and their course is ended, they are called to peace and repose. They “rest in their beds,” because they do not yet enjoy perfect blessedness and glory; but they wail; for the last day of the resurrection, when everything shall be perfectly restored; and that, I think, is what Isaiah meant.

It will be said, “Do not righteous men enjoy this peace while they live?” for the fruit of faith is, that; “in patience we may possess our souls.” (<422119>Luke 21:19) Although faith produces peace in our hearts, (<450503>Romans 5:3) yet we are tossed about by various storms and tempests; and never in life are we so calm and peaceful as when the Lord takes us to himself. Peaceful and calm, therefore, is the death of the righteous, (<19B615>Psalm 116:15) for it is “precious in the sight of God;” but stormy is the death of the wicked.  F951 Hence also we may learn that souls are immortal; for if souls had no feeling, (as some fanatics have dreamed,) they could not enjoy “peace.” Thus they enjoy peace and repose, because they live in Christ.

3. And draw near, ye sons of the sorceress. After having spoken of the happy and peaceful death of good men, he breaks out with very great vehemence against the wicked, who did not cease to lead a base and shameful life, and were not moved by the death of believers. As he had said that good men enjoy peace, so he threatens that the wicked shall have ceaseless war. He taught that to the holy servants of God death shall even be like a hiding‑place, to shelter them from the whirlwind, and storm, and other tempests, that he might threaten the worst of evils against the obstinate despisers of God. Here we ought to observe the contrast, between good men who walk before God, and the wicked, who cease not rebelliously to resist God. The former shall enjoy peace when they die; the latter shall have no peace during life, and shall feel dreadful torments in death.

He orders them to come forth to the judgment‑seat of God, which they hope that they will be able to escape by their disguises; and therefore he affirms that they gain nothing by their refusal, for they shall be dragged against their will. The more hardened they were, the sharper were the excitements that must be applied to them; and therefore the harshness of the Prophet could not be excessive, either in arousing their stupidity, or in casting down their pride. And indeed it is well known how insolent was the vanity of the Jews on account of their genealogy; for which reason the prophets frequently beat down their haughtiness and pride, and affirmed that they were not the children of Abraham, because they were bastards and traitors.

On this account Isaiah calls them “the seed of the adulterous and the whore.” In like manner Ezekiel reproaches them, “Thy father is an Amorite; thy mother a Hittite.” (<261603>Ezekiel 16:3) Similar forms of expression are found ill many parts of Scripture. Thus he beats down their intolerable hardihood, and drags them forward unwillingly and reluctantly, that they might not think that they could escape the judgment‑seat of God.

4. On whom have ye made sport? The Prophet shows that there is no reason why the Jews should boast so proudly on the pretense of their birth, seeing that they mocked at God and the prophets. They thought that they had to deal with men, when they rejected the word; as we see that wicked men in the present day, while they fearlessly despise the doctrine of God and laugh at ministers, nevertheless shelter themselves, and falsely glory in the name of God. This is the reason why the Prophet bears hard upon them and censures with severity.

On whom have ye opened the mouth? The meaning of the words is, “When ye put forth the tongue against God, and mock his word, do ye think that ye have to deal with a mortal man?” The question (“ On whom? “) means that they resorted to disguises and concealments, in order to conceal their impiety; for wicked men do not confess that they are rebels against God, and even complain that they are very unjustly treated. But they must be dragged to the light and convicted of their wickedness; for if there be a God in heaven, they carry on war with him, by attacking and rejecting his word and treating it as a fable.

To “open the mouth” and to “put forth the tongue” mean the same thing, except that by these expressions he has more fully described their wickedness, in not only rejecting God, but also mocking him. The inward contempt of the heart had driven them to open jeers and blasphemies, so that they were not moved by any fear of disgrace.

Seed of the adulterer and the whore. At length he concludes that they are treacherous children, a lying seed, and that he has justly reproached them with being “the children of the whore;” for such contempt of God could not be found in the children of Abraham. Hence we learn in what manner wicked men ought to be treated, and with what severity they ought to be reproved, that they may not flatter themselves; and the more they despise everything that is held out in the name of God, the more ought their sacrilegious wickedness to be exposed and dragged forth to public view.

5. Inflaming yourselves. Others render it, “Taking delight” or “consolation;” but the Prophet makes use of a metaphor which is often found in Scripture, and which is exceedingly adapted to the present subject; for the Lord compares the ardor by which idolaters are hurried along to the love of a harlot, by which poor wretched men are inflamed so as to be transported with blind eagerness. (<240301>Jeremiah 3:1; <280202>Hosea 2:2; 4:5) Idolaters have no moderation, and do not permit themselves to be reclaimed from their madness by any arguments. In the sight of God idolatry is a very base kind of fornication.

Under the oaks, or, with the gods. Some translate yla (elim) “gods,” and others “oaks.” F952 I leave every one at liberty to adopt either reading; for the meaning will always be the same, and commentators are agreed that the Prophet condemns idolatry. I do not dispute, therefore, about the reading; though it is probable that the same thing is twice repeated, in accordance with the practice of Hebrew writers, in a particular and in a general form, and yet that the Prophet, by means of an ambiguous word, alludes to “the gods.”

Sacrificing children. Here he bears still harder on the Jews, and shows that they are not the true seed of Abraham; seeing that they pollute themselves with superstitions of every kind. In consequence of the delight which the Jews took in such practices, he exposes their vileness. “You shelter yourselves, indeed, under the name of religion, but I declare that you commit fornication with idols.” In this manner it was proper to expose and freely to point out that wickedness which base and malicious men endeavor to cloak under various pretenses; and thus the Prophet boldly discharges his duty by summoning men to the judgment‑seat of God, and holding them to be guilty, though they wish to take every method of excusing themselves. He shows that they are treacherous, and have departed from the law of God by abominable idolatry, and mentions one kind of shocking and even accursed and monstrous worship; namely, the “sacrificing of children,” from which it is very evident how powerful is the spirit of error, when men have once turned aside from God. Satan seizes their minds (<530209>2 Thessalonians 2:9) in such a manner that he drives them altogether to madness and rage. They who do not hesitate to slay their children, as if on the ground of its being a righteous sacrifice, must be in a state of furious madness.

And yet those cruel murderers of their children did not want some pretense; for they cloaked their crime under the example of Abraham, who did. not spare (<012216>Genesis 22:16) his only‑begotten son; and the ancient Hebrew writers pronounce it to have been (kakozhli>a) a wicked imitation “If we are Abraham’s descendants, we ought not to spare our children.” But Abraham did this (<012202>Genesis 22:2) by the command of God; while they did it of their own accord, and without God’s command. It was an extraordinary example, by which the Lord intended to try and attest Abraham’s faith. Besides, Isaac was not sacrificed; for the Lord was satisfied with Abraham’s cheerful and ready will. (<012212>Genesis 22:12) They slew their children. It was, therefore, a perverse and damnable imitation, for they differed widely from their father This should be carefully observed; for a large portion of superstitions has proceeded from this source of (kakozhli>a) wicked imitation. Men have rashly and without discrimination seized on everything that was done by the fathers.

6. Amidst polished stones, or, in parts of the valley. He continues the same subject, and reproves in various ways the superstitions which abounded in Judea; for no place was altogether free from idolatry. There were no rocks, no rivers, no valleys, no corner whatever, in which they had not erected a monument of their superstition. They had their groves and mountains, in which they sacrificed after the manner of the Gentiles.

Whether we here adopt the reading, “Polished stones,” or “Parts of the river,” the meaning will be the same. The Prophet means that the Jews chose their own method of worshipping God, and turned aside from the rule which he had laid down in his Law; and consequently that every kind of worship which they followed by their own choice was abominable and wicked; for in religion and in the worship of God it is only to the voice of God that we ought to listen. If it be thought preferable to render it “polished stones,” then Isaiah rebukes the contempt of the Law by which God forbade the use of hammers, (<022025>Exodus 20:25) in hewing or chiselling the stones to be employed in building the altar; for he did not wish that sacrifices should be offered on any but one altar. But as it was customary with the Gentiles to dedicate temples near fountains and rivers, the other meaning will be equally appropriate.

They, they are thy lot. The repetition of “they, they” is highly emphatic. A word may be supplied by way of permission, as if the Lord permitted the Jews to abide by their practices, since they had forsaken him and preferred idols and false worship; as it is said, “Go, sacrifice to idols.” (<262039>Ezekiel 20:39) I am disposed to favor this reading; as if he had said, “I leave to you your inventions, and willingly permit you to be entirely devoted to them, and relinquish my right; for I have nothing to do with traitors and apostates.” And yet he undoubtedly alludes to that passage in the writings of Moses, by whose mouth God said that he would be the inheritance of his people, so that they ought to be satisfied with having him alone. (<041820>Numbers 18:20) This was also followed by David, who says, “The Lord is my portion, my inheritance.” (<191605>Psalm 16:5) Since, therefore, the Jews had revolted from God, and had followed idols, the Lord justly commanded them to keep the idols to themselves, and intimated that he would have nothing in common with them.

Even to them hast thou poured a drink‑offering. He proceeds in enumerating superstitions, and confirms the statement that he has been rejected and cast off by them; for they alienated to false gods what he wished to belong to himself alone. The Jews might have replied to every word of the Prophet, that they had no other intention than to worship God. But the Prophet pays no regard to such idle and frivolous pretenses; for the wrath of God is provoked by false worship, and is the more inflamed by it in proportion as it is more constant and longer continued. Hence we learn what sobriety we ought to observe in the worship of God, that we may depend on his word alone; for whosoever shall swerve from it in the smallest degree, will not only lose his labor, but will kindle the wrath of God, whose majesty he wickedly insults and does all that is in his power to lessen.

Shall I take pleasure in these things? It might also be translated, “Shall I repent?” This interpretation has been most generally adopted, because he wishes to assign a reason why he punishes the people. As if he had said, “When I take vengeance for these transgressions, is it possible that I shall repent? “ Yet the interpretation which I have followed appears to me preferable, “Shall I take delight, or consolation, from those sacrifices which thou hast offered to me?” For idolaters commonly take delight in their own inventions, and imagine that God also is delighted with everything that they pursue with mad and furious eagerness. Nor is such a question superfluous; for men think that God is like themselves, and will approve of everything that is agreeable to them. On the contrary, he declares that nothing is approved by him, or is acceptable to him, but what agrees with his word. F953

7. Upon a lofty and high mountain. He again repeats that metaphor at which we have formerly glanced. Superstitious persons commit fornication with their idols, because, by forsaking the simplicity of the word, they violate the bond of that holy marriage into which God has entered with them, and prostitute themselves to Satan. But now Isaiah intended to express something more; for, when he says that they set up their bed on a lofty place, he means that they are not at all ashamed of their shameful conduct. As a harlot, who has lost all shame, dreads not the sight of men, and cares not about her reputation, so they openly and shamefully committed fornication in a lofty and conspicuous place. He compares altars and groves to “beds” on which that accursed crime is committed, and he compares men who sacrifice on them to impudent and abandoned harlots. As to the opinion entertained by some, that this relates to the couches on which they reclined at their sacrificial feasts, there is no good foundation for it.

To offer a sacrifice. Here he describes without a figure that kind of fornication which he rebukes, namely, that they offered sacrifices to idols. They imagined, indeed, that in doing so they were rendering obedience to God; but the Lord rejects all that men contrive according to their own pleasure, and abhors that licentiousness.

8. Behind the door. He dwells largely on the crime of which we have already spoken, that the people may no longer flatter themselves in their inventions. It is probable that Isaiah alludes to the words of Moses, by which God commanded them to have the Law continually placed before them, to attach it to the posts of their houses, and to keep it written and wrapped around their arms and the fringes of their garments, that they might be constantly reminded of their duty. (<050609>Deuteronomy 6:9; 11:20) But the Jews, on the contrary, polluted the doors and posts of their houses by tokens of idolatry, and left no corner free or pure from such pollutions. Thus they came to forget everywhere God and the Law, and substituted in their room the excitements of their own lust.

Thou hast enlarged thy bed. He again repeats what he formerly said, and returns to that clause, that the Jews most basely commit fornication with idols when they think that they are worshipping God; because they do not follow the rule of the word. It is the same as if a woman, having forsaken her husband, should prostitute herself in a brothel, and freely receive all that came, as if the bed had been a large plain, and capable of containing a vast multitude.

For this reason he says that she was detected by him, because, having laid aside the modesty of the married state, she allowed herself to be dishonored and ravished by others; for God holds the place of a husband, to whom she ought to have been subject, but she sought new husbands, and broke the bond of marriage, he describes their aggravated guilt, by saying that the Jews of their own accord devoted themselves to idols, as if a base woman ran after a man with blind eagerness.

Thou lovedst their bed in the place which thou sawest. By a different figure he accuses them of that hasty love, because, as if by a single glance, they were suddenly and eagerly hurried on to any place whatever. Yet he blames the rashness of men, who think that they are sagacious in worshipping God, and select places according to their own pleasure. But this sagacity is diabolical; for God commands us to keep our eyes fixed on himself and his word, so as to be closed against everything else.

9. And thou wentest to the king with ointment. Here the Prophet censures another vice closely allied to the former; for ungodliness begets various errors, and leads into grievous and intricate distresses those minds which are frivolous and destitute of the fear of God; for it is proper that they who refuse to rest on God should be tossed about, or rather driven up and down. He therefore reproaches the Jews with having labored much and long in seeking the assistance of the wicked; that is, with having attempted to bring the Egyptians against the Assyrians, and next, when they had been disappointed of their hope, with having begun to betake themselves to the Babylonians. When their hearts have been estranged from God, they seek assistance from another quarter, and by great labor and expense bring upon themselves severer distresses. Yet while the Lord grants repose to his people, that they may perform their work in peace, wicked men “vex themselves in vain, rise early, go late to rest, eat the bread of sorrow,” as it is said, (<19C702>Psalm 127:2) and yet do not gain a farthing, because all that they do is without God’s authority or guidance. But the Spirit inflicts on them this punishment, so that they incessantly wander and are tossed about in doubt and uncertainty, and never can find rest in their minds.

10. Thou art wearied. He means that men undertake superfluous and useless labors, when they do not follow God. They vex themselves in vain, as has been already said; for nothing that is attempted in opposition to God can ever be successful. Besides, he wittily ridicules the wicked practices of those who choose rather to waste themselves by incessant toil than to advance calmly wherever God calls them.

And hast not said, There is no hope; that is, “Although thou seest that thy labors are fruitless, yet thou obstinately perseverest and pursuest thy designs; whereas even fools, when they are unsuccessful, commonly repent.” Men must therefore be obstinate and desperate, when an unhappy and unsuccessful issue of their schemes does not sometimes lead them to ask themselves, What are you doing? Jeremiah glances at this obstinacy, hut in different words; for he says that the Jews were so fool‑hardy as to say,

“We are undone, yet we will follow our own thoughts. This has been determined by us, and our opinion cannot be changed.” (<241812>Jeremiah 18:12)

But here he censures that stupidity which bewildered them so much that they could not acknowledge their folly and repent, and turn again to the right road.

Thou hast found the life of thine hand. “Life” is here supposed by some to mean “food; “ as if the Prophet had said, “Thy labor was as delightful to thee as if thou wert gaining food for thyself by thy hand.” F954 Others take “the life of the hand” to mean delight, or the highest pleasure; and both interpretations amount to the same thing.

But there is somewhat greater difficulty in the question, “Does he speak sincerely or ironically?” If the words be taken in the literal sense, the meaning will be, “Thou didst not grieve, because fortune appeared to favor thee for a time.” When unbelievers succeed to their wish, they encourage themselves the more in their unbelief, and, as the common saying is, “Men are blinded by prosperity.” But especially this happens when men have forsaken God, and abide by their own ways and schemes; for then they fearlessly despise God. But they may also be viewed as ironical, “How comes it that thou dost not retrace thy steps and repent? Why dost thou not acknowledge thy folly? Is it because thou hast life in thy hand, and because everything goes prosperously with thee? F955

I prefer the latter interpretation, though I do not reject the former. It is plain enough from history that the Jews had no good reason for being proud of their prosperity or success; for the treaty into which they entered, first with the Egyptians, next with the Assyrians, and lastly with the Babylonians, was destructive and fatal to them; and they found by experience how rash they had been in calling allies to their aid; so that the Prophet justly taunts them with having found “the life of their hand.” Thus he heightens his description of the foolishness of this people, who willingly rush forward to their own destruction, and obstinately bring down ruin on themselves, when they ought, at least, like fools, to have gained wisdom by the misery which they had experienced.

11. And whom hast thou worshipped and feared? Here he breaks out more vehemently against the Jews, because they were destitute of the fear of God, though they boasted of their holiness and sheltered themselves under an empty title of religion. Not only do hypocrites flatter themselves in their superstitions, but they are likewise regarded by the common people as holy and pious; and, therefore, they act haughtily and insolently towards God and men. But the Prophet declares that true fear of God cannot exist, where the worship is not pure and agreeable to his word. All the opinions entertained by men, as to the plausible forms of worship observed by superstitious persons, are absolute wickedness and folly, he declares, therefore, that there is no fear of him and no religion among them, although they are greatly delighted with their masks.

What is more, by their religious ceremonies, as manifest proofs, they show that they have no reverence or fear of God; for God testifies, by Moses, that he makes trial whether or not they love him with all their heart, when he permits superstition and idolatry to be introduced by the false prophets. (<051303>Deuteronomy 13:3) All that fly to them, therefore, show that they are altogether destitute of the fear of God; for, if they considered that they must one day give an account to him, they would not so daringly trample under foot his commandments.

And hast not remembered me. When he complains of having been forgotten, he shows that it was through obstinate wickedness that they fought against God, and not through ignorance that they wandered from him; because, having a sure rule of leading a holy life, they willingly revolted from him, and broke the promise which they had made to him. We ought to consider diligently how dreadful is the thunder launched against hypocrites, who mock at all threatenings, and cover themselves by vain disguises, when he declares that they are destitute of the fear of God, and that they are liars and have forgotten him.

Is it not because I held my peace?  F956 Here I have thought it right to insert the word “because,” which needs to be supplied, in order to bring out more fully the Prophet’s meaning; for those who do not supply some word subject themselves to a vast amount of trouble in bringing out an exposition; and we know how frequently this mode of expression is employed by the Hebrew writers. He reproaches the Jews with having abused God’s forbearance and patience, by which their hearts ought rather to have been softened. But such is the wickedness of men, that it renders them bolder in transgression, and leads them to think that they may do what they please without being punished.

Accordingly, in the last clause of the verse I consider the particle w (vau) to mean therefore. “And therefore thou dost not fear me, because I held my peace, whereas thou oughtest rather to have been melted by my goodness.” Hence we infer that the Jews could not complain of God’s excessive severity, since he bore patiently with them for a long time, and they grew worse and worse in consequence of having been exempted from punishment. It was therefore necessary that he should assume a totally different character, and punish them more severely for their iniquities.

12. I will declare thy righteousness. The Prophet affirms that the Lord will no longer endure what he formerly endured, and that henceforth he must follow a different method. He calls it ironically “their righteousness; “ for he means by it all the wickedness and all the errors by which they were stained and corrupted; as if he had said, “I will show what is the nature of your righteousness.” So long as God “holds his peace,” they who are most unrighteous and most unholy appear to be “righteous” persons; but when the Lord ascends his judgment-seat, men are brought out of their lurking‑places, and their baseness is dragged forth to public view. And so the Prophet means that the greatest wickedness passes in the world for “righteousness,” so long as God holds his peace, but that it shall at length be scattered, when he ascends his judgment‑seat; for men, after having much and long flattered themselves, shall at length feel that he is their judge.

And they shall not profit thee. This relates to the effect, by which men almost always judge; for they do not inquire whether a thing be righteous or unrighteous, but think that whatever is profitable to them ought to be approved. The Prophet therefore threatens that all the works from which they hoped to derive some profit shall be destructive to them.

13. When thou shalt cry, let thy troops deliver thee. He states more fully what he had slightly touched in the former verse, that, when they shall come to close quarters, they shall be ashamed; for the potential mood, “Let them deliver,” amounts to saying, “They will not do it.” He alludes to what he had formerly said, (verse 9) “Thou wentest to the king with ointments.” And accordingly he gives the name of “troops” to all the means of defense by which the Jews thought that they would be safe; for, by trusting to them, they abandoned themselves to every kind of vices, as if they should be certain of escaping punishment, because they were guarded and fortified on every side. But the Lord shows how unavailing are all the troops which are assembled without his authority.

“Cry” denotes here that calamity by which they were to be afflicted; for, relying on their treaties and on the aid of allies, they thought that they would enjoy profound peace, as if they had never at any former period been deceived. But he declares that all the military defenses which they have collected for themselves shall be of no advantage to them whatever. Detestable and accursed is that confidence which men, having forsaken God, place in things of this world or in human defenses. (<241705>Jeremiah 17:5) Formerly he brought it as a reproach against the people, that they were not satisfied with the gentle waters of Shiloah, and desired to have the rapid and impetuous rivers which would at length overflow them. (<230806>Isaiah 8:6) This actually happened; for the Assyrians and Egyptians, and lastly the Babylonians, were not only unprofitable, but even ruinous, to the Jews whose allies they were.

But he who hopeth in me. Next follows a contrast, in which he invites them to confidence in God, which is the remedy that ought to be employed against all evils; as, on the other hand, all evils arise from unbelief and distrust. As to the promise of an inheritance to those who hope in God, it amounts to this, — “ What else do you seek than to remain safe and sound, and to have your inheritance uninjured? It is I who can do this. For who brought you into this country? Who gave you possession of it? And yet you run after Egypt, and seek from men assistance which will be of little avail, and disregard my help.”

Shall have the land by inheritance. I have no doubt that by the word “inheritance” he means Judea, in which the Jews were desirous to remain in safety; for he afterwards mentions the “mountain of his holiness,” that is, the mountain on which the temple was built. So, then, the Jews did not ascribe to the Lord that which belonged to him, when they fled, not to him, but to the Assyrians or Egyptians, for help. Hence we ought to draw a universal doctrine, namely, that our affairs will succeed admirably, if we hope in the Lord; and if we throw away confidence in him, we certainly need not wonder if we waver and are tossed about in various ways.

When he calls the mountain to which the Jews were to be brought back “the mountain of holiness,” he means that life and all its comforts are not in themselves desirable, except that we may worship God; for the end of human life is this, that God may have a people who shall render to him purity of worship. Let our eyes, therefore, be always fixed on the worship and service of God, if we desire life, or deliverance, or any of the comforts of life.

14. And he shall say, Prepare, prepare. Because this promise, that they who hoped in the Lord should possess the land, might be thought ridiculous, (for soon afterwards they were to be driven out of it,) for the sake of believers that still remained, there is added this second promise, by which he pledges himself that, although they have been driven out of the land of Canaan, and banished to a distant country, yet they shall be brought back to it. He therefore meets a doubt which might arise, that good men might not despair during that painful and long‑continued banishment, or imagine that the promise of God had failed of accomplishment. Some explain it to mean, that the Lord will send true and faithful prophets, to cleanse from its scandals the Church which had been corrupted by false prophets and wicked rulers; as he formerly showed that from them arose the cause of her ruin; and so they think that this is a promise of a better and happier condition. But such an interpretation is excessively forced, and therefore I choose rather to adopt the former interpretation, that, although for a time the Jews shall be deprived of that land, yet they shall be restored to it by the Lord, who will order the roads to be levelled, in order to bring them back.

This passage agrees with that which we formerly examined, (<234001>Isaiah 40:1-4) in which the Lord commanded to bring comfort to his people, to proclaim and publish the return to Judea, and to clear the roads; for, in consequence of their having been shut up in Babylon as in a grave, and of the length and difficulty of the journey, and of the vast wilderness that lay between, they could scarcely have any hope of returning to their native country. It was therefore proper that Isaiah should not pass by this matter lightly, that they might not dread the mountains or the sea that lay between, or any other obstructions.

Level the road. He addresses Cyrus and Darius, whose minds the Lord inspired to open up the path, and grant protection to the Jews; as if he had said, that the Lord will send ministers, who are now unknown to them, by whose agency he will “prepare the way” and bring out the people. The apostrophe, also, by which he directly addresses them, carries greater force than if he had spoken in the third person. By ordering them to remove the stumbling blocks, he shows that there is no reason why they should be terrified by the difficulties and obstructions of the roads, which the Lord will easily “take away,” whenever he thinks fit.

Out of the way of my people. The hope of return is contained in this, that the Lord determines to bring back his people, and place them again in the land of Canaan. Wherefore, though there were no other road, yet there must be one, and every bar and obstacle must be removed; because the Lord hath promised their return, and consequently is their leader in the journey.

15. For thus hath spoken the High and Lofty One. He confirms the former statement about the restoration of the people from captivity. But this verse may be explained in two ways; either that the Prophet meets the doubt which might spring up in the hearts of good men, and thus compares things which are contrasted with each other; or, that he draws an argument from the nature of God, in order to strengthen weak minds. To explain these things more clearly, we know, first, that our hearts are often distracted by these thoughts, that God is actually in heaven, but that there is a great distance between him and us, and that, he overlooks or despises human affairs, and, in a word, that he takes no care at all about us. In order to correct this imagination, the Prophet says that God does indeed dwell in a lofty place, but does not the less on that account look at this world and govern it by his providence; for he is anxious about the salvation of men, and dwells with the afflicted, and with them that are of a broken and humble heart; as it is said, “Jehovah is high, and hath respect to the lowly,” (<19D806>Psalm 138:6) and in other passages.

The other meaning is, that the Prophet shows that God is very unlike us; for we tremble in adversity, because we measure him by our standard, and say, “How shall the Lord render assistance to us, who are oppressed?” Besides, men who are in distress are commonly overlooked and despised. Thus we think that God holds us in no estimation, because we form our ideas of him from our own nature. But we ought to entertain very different views of him; and therefore he says, that he “dwelleth in heaven,” in order to intimate that he is not liable to human passions; for he is like himself at all times, and never changes his purpose; and therefore as he has once promised restoration to his people, so he will perform it. I do not dislike this interpretation, nor do I reject the former, which is fuller and more abundant, and agrees with other passages of Scripture, that commonly join together those two things; that the Lord dwelleth in heaven, and taketh care of human affairs, and especially of his children, as I stated briefly a little before.

Who dwelleth in eternity. We are fickle, and apply our minds sometimes to one subject, and sometimes to another; and our hearts do not continue to be fixed on that which we have once embraced. On this account he distinguishes between God and men, for on him no shadow of change falls; but we have not such steadfastness as to exercise constant care about those who need our assistance.

I inhabit the high and holy. wdq (kadosh) sometimes denotes the temple, but here it denotes heaven itself. We see the reason why he calls him “the Holy One,” and “the inhabitant of the holy and lofty place.” It is in order to inform us how much he differs from us, and how unlike he is to our nature. Besides, we ought to draw from it a singular consolation, that the Lord wishes to assist the wretched, and even chooses for himself a habitation amongst them, that is, provided that they acknowledge their wretchedness.

And with him who is lowly in spirit. Wicked men are oppressed by various calamities, but do not cease to be fierce and haughty. It will be vain for them to hope that God will draw near to them; F957 for their hearts must be lowly and utterly cast down, if they expect to obtain any assistance from God. Accordingly, he descends even to the lifeless, that he may breathe new life into them and form them anew. Twice he expressly mentions the “lowly spirit,” and the “afflicted heart,” that we may know that these promises belong to those who, in their afflictions, shall not be hardhearted and rebellious, and who, in short, shall lay aside all haughtiness and be meek and lowly.

16. Because not for ever will I strive. He continues the same doctrine; for it was difficult to persuade them of this, seeing that during that painful captivity they perceived that God was their enemy, and could scarcely obtain any taste of the grace of God, by which their hearts might be encouraged or relieved. The Prophet therefore meets this doubt, and shows that the punishments which they shall endure will be for a short time, and that God will not always be angry with them; that God has indeed very good reason to be angry, but yet that he will relinquish his right, and will make abatement of that which he might have demanded. Thus he connects the wrath of God with that moderation by which he soothes believers, that they may not be discouraged; for, although he draws an argument from the nature of God, yet this promise is especially directed to the Church.

This sentence, therefore, ought always to be remembered by us amidst our sorest afflictions, lest we should think that God is our enemy, or that he will always contend with us. When he says that God is angry, he speaks as if he made an admission, and in accordance with the feelings of our flesh; for we cannot form any other conception of God during our afflictions, than that he is angry with us. It is even profitable to be moved by this feeling, that it may instruct us to repentance; and therefore this form of expression must be viewed as referring exclusively to our capacity, and not to God.

For the spirit shall be clothed, (or, shall be concealed, or, shall fail.) He assigns the reason why he will not always strive. There are various interpretations of this passage. Among others this appears to me to be the more appropriate; that “the spirit is clothed” with the body, as with a garment. Hence also the body is called the tabernacle, and, as it were, the habitation of the spirit. If we adopt this signification of the word, there will be two modes of interpreting this clause. Some explain it as referring to the last resurrection: “the spirit shall be clothed; “ that is, after having gone out of the body, will again return to it as to its habitation. Thus there will be an argument from the greater to the less: “I will raise up dead bodies; why then shall I not restore you, though half‑dead, to a better life?” Another meaning, which is also adopted by some, will be simpler and better; for the interpretation of the clause, as referring to the last resurrection, is too remote from the context. “I surrounded the spirit with a body;” as if he had said, “I created men, and therefore will take care of them.”

But for my own part, I think that the Prophet rises higher; for he shows that the Lord deals so gently and kindly with us, because he perceives how weak and feeble we are; as is also pointed out in other passages of Scripture, such as <19A313>Psalm 103:13, 14. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. He knoweth our condition, remembering that we are dust. The age of man is like grass, and flourisheth as a flower in the field.” The same thing is said in <197838>Psalm 78:38, 39. “Yet being inclined to mercy, he was gracious to their iniquity, and did not destroy them, and often recalled his anger, and did not stir up all his indignation, remembering that they were flesh, and a wind that passeth away and returneth not again.” Here the Prophet appears to me to mean the same thing; as if the Lord had said, “I am unwilling to try my strength with breath or wind, which would be as if with grass or a leaf, that shall suddenly vanish away when they have felt the heat of the sun.” wf[y (yagnatoph) is explained by some to mean “Shall fail; “ which agrees very well with this passage; for our spirit shall fail, when the Lord puts forth his power against us. Leaving the signification of the words as somewhat doubtful, we sufficiently understand the Prophet’s design. He shows that God deals gently with us, and acts with little severity in correcting our sins, because he takes into account our weakness, and wishes to support and relieve it.

17. For the iniquity of his lust. Here he complains of the obstinate wickedness of the people, and shows that the Lord had very good reason for punishing him in this manner; so that there can be no complaint of his immoderate cruelty. W[xb (betzagno) is translated by some “lust,” and by others “covetousness.” If it be “covetousness,” it will then be a figurative mode of expression, in which a part is taken for the whole; for this is the source from which all evils arise. (<540610>1 Timothy 6:10) But we may take it generally for every kind of sinful desire; for it was on account of the various and numerous vices by which the Jews were polluted, that the Lord was angry, and inflicted on them severe punishments. But he expressly mentions “lust,” in order to intimate that they were punished, not because they were openly wicked, but because they were sinful in the sight of God; for it is enough to condemn them, that God is Judge of the hearts, and punishes not only for outward crimes, but likewise for wicked dispositions and “lusts.” At the same time he reminds them that their punishment is just, in order that, being conscious of guilt, they may humbly pray for pardon.

I struck him, I hid myself. He means that his favor was, in some respects, withdrawn and “hidden” for a time. Now, he speaks according to the opinion of men, because, as we have already said, we imagine that God is an enemy, and is angry with us, when he punishes for our transgressions. And it is necessary that we should have those views and conceptions of him, that we may arrive at a true acknowledgment of our sins; for we should never acknowledge them sincerely, or be distressed on account of them, if we did not reflect with ourselves, and know that we had provoked God’s wrath. But, while it is desirable that we should be led to repentance in this manner, we must beware, on the other hand, lest in consequence of imagining that God is hostile and unwilling to be reconciled to us, we should be swallowed up by sorrow. The Prophet therefore restrains these immoderate terrors, and forbids us to judge of God according to our natural disposition; for although he chastises us, he does not cease to cherish a father’s love and affection towards those whom he has once embraced.

But he went away. This is the rebelliousness which the Prophet blames and rebukes, that the people were in no degree made better, but persevered in their wickedness. He shows that they were desperate, because the violent remedies which the Lord had tried could not bring them back into the right way.

18. I have seen his ways.  F958 Here the Lord, on the contrary, magnifies his mercy, because he is gracious to that people, though obstinate and rebellious, and anticipates them by his grace and mercy. As if he had said, “I labored to bring back this people to repentance by my chastisements, because they violently pursued their lusts; but they were obstinate and untameable; all that I did was of no avail. I might justly, indeed, have ruined him, but I choose rather to heal and preserve. This cannot be done but by distinguished and incomparable mercy. I will therefore cease to punish them.” For these reasons Isaiah gradually magnifies the mercy of God, whom he represents as a physician considering what remedies are best adapted for healing this people. Now, our diseases are incurable, if the Lord do not anticipate us by his mercy.

And will guide him. No chastisements, however severe, will drive us to repentance, if the Lord do not quicken us by his Spirit; for the consequence will be, to render us more rebellious and hard‑hearted. And so we may behold, in the example of this people, an image of mankind; that we may clearly see what is our rebellion and obstinacy against God, and what remedies are necessary for curing our diseases; and that, when we are diseased and almost beyond hope, we are healed, are brought back to the right path, and afterwards continue in it. Hence follows consolation:

Restoring comforts to him. If piety be wanting, there can be no faith and no consolation; for they who are not dissatisfied with themselves on account of their vices can look for nothing but the wrath of God, terrors and despair. It is proper, therefore, to observe the context, in which the Prophet, after mentioning “healing,” next mentions “consolation; “ for they whose diseases have been cured obtain, at the same time, that joy of heart and that consolation of which they had been deprived.

When he adds, To his mourners, he appears especially to denote good men, F962 who were few in number; as appears clearly from the complaints of the prophets, who exclaim loudly against the stupidity which had seized the people on every side. Thus he describes those who, amidst the universal guilt, were constrained by sincere grief to mourn, and who not only bewailed the miseries of the people, but deeply groaned under the burden of God’s wrath, while others indulged freely in their pleasures.

19. I create the fruit of the lips. This is an explanation of the former statement, or of the manner in which the Lord will give consolation to this people. It is, because he will promise and offer peace to them; for by “the fruit of the lips” he means that he will cause them to hear the glad tidings of peace, by which they shall be filled with joy.

Peace, peace. I think that he speaks of the publication of “peace,” the ministry of which was committed to the prophets, and was afterwards enjoined on the apostles and the other ministers of the Gospel; as Paul teaches that they “are ambassadors for Christ, to reconcile men to God.” (<470520>2 Corinthians 5:20) The repetition of the word “Peace” is intended to express not only certainty, but also uninterrupted continuance. As if he had said, “You now hear nothing but dreadful threatenings. The doctrine of grace and salvation is silent, because you are incapable of it. Such is your obstinacy that I must deal with you by threatenings and terrors. But I will one day restore the doctrine of ‘peace,’ and open the lips of the prophets, that they may proclaim it to you.”

To them that are far off. This is added, because the people who had been carried into captivity did not think that these things belonged to them, (because they were “far off,”) but perhaps to those who were at home; for captivity was a sort of casting off. But the Prophet foretells that, though they are at a great distance, yet they shall be partakers of this grace.

And I heal him. At length he adds the end or effect, that the Lord determines to heal the people; that is, to make them safe and sound. Hence we infer what I remarked a little before, that all that relates to the full and perfect happiness of the Church is absolutely the gift of God.

Paul appears to have glanced at this passage, when he says that Christ

“brought peace to them that are near, and to them that are far off.” (<490217>Ephesians 2:17)

He speaks of Gentiles and Jews; for the Jews were “near,” because God had entered into a covenant with them; but the Gentiles were “far off,” because they were strangers to that covenant. But the Prophet appears to speak of Jews only.

I reply, Paul adheres to the true meaning of the Prophet, if the whole be but carefully examined; for the Jews are said, in this passage, to be “far off,” because the Lord appeared to have driven them out of his house; and in that respect they resembled the Gentiles. Since, therefore, at the time of that casting off, there was no difference between them and the Gentiles, Paul, by putting both, as it were, in the same rank, justly placed them on a level with the Jews, and thus applied to them what the Prophet had spoken about the Jews; as, in a manner not unlike, he elsewhere applies to the Gentiles a passage in Hosea. (<450925>Romans 9:25; <280110>Hosea 1:10)

20. But the wicked. Having formerly spoken of the “peace” which good men shall enjoy, he threatens that the wicked, on the contrary, shall have continual war and incessant uneasiness and distress of heart; in order that good men may value more highly the excellent blessing of “peace,” and next, that the reprobate may know that their condition shall in no degree be improved in consequence of that peace which is promised to the children of God. But because the reprobate make false pretensions to the name of God, and vainly glory in it, the Prophet shows that there is no reason why they should flatter themselves, or advance any claim, on the ground of this promise, since they can have no share in this peace. Nor will it avail them anything, that God, having compassion upon his people, receives them into favor, and commands peace to be proclaimed to them.

As the troubled sea. That metaphor of “the sea” is elegant and very well fitted to describe the uneasiness of the wicked; for of itself “the sea is troubled.” Though it be not beaten by the wind or agitated by frightful tempests, its billows carry on mutual war, and dash against each other with terrible violence. In the same manner wicked men are “troubled” by inward distress, which is deeply seated in their hearts. They are terrified and alarmed by conscience, which is the most agonizing of all torments and the most cruel of all executioners. The furies agitate and pursue the wicked, not with burning torches, (as the fables run,)but with anguish of conscience and the torment of wickedness; for every one is distressed by his own wickedness and his own alarm;  F960 every one is agonized and driven to madness by his own guilt; they are terrified by their own evil thoughts and by the pangs of conscience. Most appropriately, therefore, has the Prophet compared them to a stormy and troubled sea. Whoever then wishes to avoid these alarms and this frightful agony of heart, let him not reject that peace which the Lord offers to him. There can be no middle course between them; for, if you do not lay aside sinful desires and accept of this peace, you must unavoidably be miserably distressed and tormented.

21. There is no peace to the wicked. He confirms the preceding statement, namely, that in vain shall the reprobate endeavor to seek peace, for everywhere they will meet with war. It is God who threatens war, and therefore there can be no hope of “peace.” Wicked men would indeed wish to enjoy peace, and ardently long for it; for there is nothing which they more eagerly desire than to be at ease, and to lull their consciences, that they may freely take their pleasures and indulge in their vices. They drive away all thoughts about the judgment of God, and endeavor to stupify themselves and to repose in indolence, and think that these are the best ways and methods of obtaining peace. But they never shall enjoy it; for, until men have been reconciled to God, conscience will never cease to annoy and carry on war with them.

Saith my God. Thus he represents God as the only author of peace, that he may, by this dreadful threatening, tear from the Jews their dearest pleasures; and calls him “his God,” in opposition to the vain boasting of those who falsely boasted of his name; for they cannot acknowledge God, so long as they reject his Prophet and his doctrine. For this reason the Prophet boldly declares that he has received a command from God to declare perpetual war against them.


CHAPTER 58.

Go To Isaiah 58:1-14

1. Cry with the throat. This chapter has been badly divided; for these words are connected with what goes before; and therefore, if we wish to understand the Prophet’s meaning, we ought to read them as if there had been no separation. The Prophet has testified that the people shall be punished in such a manner as to leave some hope of peace, and next has threatened that the wicked, who by indolent pride endeavor to escape from God, shall have continual war. He now confirms that doctrine, and informs them that God has given him this command, to “cry with the throat,” that is, to use a common expression, (a plein gosier) “at the full stretch of the voice.”

Why is this? It is to make known to the people their sins. He does not speak merely of the stretch of the voice, but means by it that keenness and severity of language which hypocrites especially need, as if God were throwing thunderbolts against them from heaven; for they are delighted with their vices, if they be not severely reproved and dragged forth to the light, or rather if they be not violently thrown down.

When he adds, Spare not, it is a mode of expression very frequently employed by Hebrew writers, such as, “I cry, and am not silent.” (<192202>Psalm 22:2) It is equivalent to a common expression, (Crie sans espargner,) “Cry without sparing.” We have said that the Prophet does not speak of the mere sound of the voice, but means a severe and harsh reproof, which is very necessary to be sharply used towards hypocrites. For instance, if the prophets merely spoke of the Law of the Lord, and showed what is the rule of a good and holy life, and recommended the worship of God, and likewise reproved vices, but. without employing any vehemence of language, what impression would they produce on hypocrites, whose conscience is lulled in such a manner that they cannot be aroused but by applying spurs? And so a simple manner of teaching would not be enough, unless they were sharply attacked, and the thunderbolts of words were launched against them.

Paul also, imitating the prophets, after having condemned all mankind, breaks out with greater vehemence against those who made some profession of holiness and abused God’s patience. “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the Law, and boastest in God, and knowest his will, and approvest what is excellent, being instructed out of the Law; and trustest that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of those who are in darkness, an instructor of fools, a teacher of the ignorant, having the form of knowledge and of truth by the Law. Thou therefore that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou who preachest that men ought not to steal, dost thou steal? (<450217>Romans 2:17-21) Against such persons he threatens the judgment of God and terrible vengeance, because they have abused his goodness, and vainly boast of his name.

Thus the Prophet, in this passage, sharpens his pen expressly against the Jews, who gloried in the name of God, and yet proudly rose up against him. This is the method, therefore, that ought to be followed against hypocrites, who hold out an empty show of holiness; at least, if we wish to discharge our duty in a proper and useful manner. As the Lord exercised the prophets in this kind of combat, so we must be exercised in it at the present day; so that we must not hold our peace, or give them a slight reproof, but must exclaim against them with all our might.

It might be objected, “If the Lord commands his servants to reprove the sins of the people, to whom he promises peace, he undoubtedly intended to leave to them the hope of salvation. And yet it is certain that those words are addressed to the reprobate, against whom he had formerly declared war.” I reply, believers were at that time reduced to a small number; for there were few who embraced the peace that was offered to them. Accordingly, when Isaiah holds out the hope of approaching peace, he has his eye on that little flock; when he threatens war, his aim is to terrify the multitude, who were estranged from God and despised his warnings; for the state of the people was such, as we have formerly seen, (<230121>Isaiah 1:21) that scarcely any pure or sound morality remained.

And to the house of Jacob their iniquity. With good reason does he call them “the house of Jacob,” when the greater part of the people were corrupted. And we ought carefully to observe this distinction: that the prophets sometimes address the multitude at large, and sometimes limit their discourse to a few believers. Nor is it without witty and bitter mockery that he gives the designations of “his people” and “children of Jacob” to those who had degenerated from their stock and had basely revolted from the faith of the fathers. The concession made is therefore ironical; as if he had said that there is no privilege which hinders them from hearing what they deserve.

2. Yet they seek me daily. Here he intended to take away every ground of objection from hypocrites, who had their answers ready. “We fear, serve, and love God, and seek him with the whole heart. Why do you rebuke us as if we were irreligious persons; for we wish to regulate our life according to the injunctions of the Law.” To meet this objection, he affirms that they do nothing in a pure or sincere manner, that everything is pretended and hypocritical, and consequently is of no value before God, who demands the whole heart. (<011701>Genesis 17:1)

It is proper to observe this order which the Prophet has followed. After having threatened war against wicked men and hypocrites, he now rebukes them severely, and takes away the pretenses and disguises under which they shrouded themselves. This is the manner in which hypocrites should be treated, and dragged, as it were, out of their lurking‑places; for otherwise doctrine could produce no good effect upon them. And not only should godly teachers observe this order, but every person ought to apply this manner of teaching for his own use, that he may not be satisfied with himself or flatter his vices; that he may not practice hypocrisy on himself, or suffer himself to be deceived by the tricks of Satan. Let him therefore bring a pure and upright heart, if he wish to profit by the doctrine of the word, and to be acceptable to God.

And wish to know my ways. Although Isaiah admits that traitors and liars have some show of holiness, yet, on the other hand, by a bitter figure of speech, he censures them, as if he had said that in their shameful boasting there was excessive wickedness. Thus it is not simple irony, but there is likewise added a complaint, that, while they apparently labor to serve God, still, if any person examine them more closely, and inquire into their whole manner of life, he will perceive that their hearts are altogether estranged from God.

They ask of me the judgments of righteousness. F961 Those who think that in these words hypocrites blame God, and rise up against him, as if they would enter into controversy with him, have not understood the Prophet’s meaning. I acknowledge that he does this soon afterwards; but before coming down to it, he tears off their mask of pretended godliness. After having said that they “seek God daily,” as if there were nothing that occupied their thoughts more earnestly than religion, he proceeds in the same strain, and says, that they “ask judgments,” that they may serve God, and observe the rule of a holy life, that is, by pretending to burn with zeal for religion. And indeed the Prophet here enumerates the most important exercises of believers, which sometimes are ostentatiously imitated by the wicked. Now, the chief point of religion is, to inquire into the will of God, that we may regulate our life by the rule which he has laid down for us, and to depend on his mouth. But the children of God, in this respect, are falsely copied by hypocrites, so that they appear to practice all that relates to the true worship of God, and sometimes to exceed the very best of men.

3. Wherefore have we fasted? He proceeds farther with the same subject, and says that feigned and perverse worshippers of God are not only blinded by their hypocrisy, but likewise swell with pride, so that they venture openly to murmur at God, and to complain when he presses hard upon them, as if he had done them a grievous injury. “Dost thou reject our services, fastings, and prayers? Why are they not acceptable to thee? Do we not vex ourselves in vain? “

He has admitted, as we have already said, that hypocrites have some outward show of holiness, by which they deceive men; but now he declares that inwardly they are also puffed up and intoxicated by pride, while they have pretended good works, by which they think that they satisfy God, and, on this pretense, they carry themselves high against the prophets, and indulge in the worst vices, such as unbelief, rebellion, and obstinacy against God, distrust, cruelty, fraud, and pillage. These are light matters in themselves, and are easily washed away by other external exercises; for the former are their pre‑eminent merits, in which they think that the worship of God consists, and from which they hope to obtain the pardon of all their sins. Thus they “strain out a gnat, F962 and do not scruple to swallow a whole camel.” (<402324>Matthew 23:24) If such characters had been found among the Jews only, and if the world had changed its disposition, we should have needed to seek far for examples; but since we have experience of the same thing every day, there is no necessity for giving ourselves much trouble about the exposition of this passage.

This complaint may be viewed as referring both to the word and to the hand of God. In both ways God judges hypocrites; for he rebukes by the word, and punishes for their obstinate malice; and therefore those words may be viewed as referring both to the chastisements and to the preceding reproof. For my own part, I interpret it as relating to the word, and as a rebuke to hypocrites, who boasted of their fastings, and contrasted them with the censures of the prophets; as if they were the true worshippers of God, and were unjustly rebuked. I differ from those who think that the people blame God for treating them harshly during their captivity. On the contrary, it appears to me that they complain of the prophets for rebuking them with great sharpness and severity; for the Jews wished to be regarded as devout and religious persons, and could not patiently endure to be condemned for impiety and wickedness. For this reason the Prophet exposes their dispositions, and shows that they make war with God, that they may not suppose that they have to deal with him as a private individual.

Ye find pleasure and exact all your labors. In the second part of the verse he refutes, in the name of God, those virtues which hypocrites proclaim with the sound of a trumpet. It is, because they do not nevertheless lay aside the sinful dispositions of the flesh, or begin to deny themselves; for he condemns them chiefly on the ground of having been devoted to their desires, and next he enumerates particular kinds of vices. Hence we may easily infer that their heart is not moved by any anxiety to repent.

4. Behold, for strife and contention ye fast. This verse ought to be connected with the end of the preceding verse; for, having in the former clause introduced hypocrites as complaining of the violence and harshness of the prophets, he assigns, in the latter clause, the reason why the Lord loathes their fasts and their other performances. It is because they do not proceed from pure affection of heart. What the inclination of their heart is, he shows from its fruits; for he sends them back to the duties of the second table, from which it is easily seen what we are. Purity of heart is manifested by our living innocently, and abstaining from all deceit and injustice. These are the marks of pure affection, in the absence of which the Lord rejects, and even abhors, all external worship. Wherever, on the other hand, cheating, and plunder, and extortion prevail, it is very certain that there is no fear of God.

Thus he reproaches hypocrites with making their fasts to give greater encouragement to sin, and with giving a looser rein to their lusts. We have experience of this every day. Not only do many people fast in order to atone for their cheating and robberies, and to plunder more freely, but even that, during the time of the fast, they may have greater leisure for examining their accounts, perusing documents, and calculating usury, and contriving methods by which they may lay hold on the property of their debtors. On that account they frequently throw this labor on Lent and on the stated times of fasts; and, in like manner, other notable hypocrites hear many Masses every day, that they may more freely, and with less interruption, and under the pretense of religion, contrive their cheating and treachery.

Fast not, as ye do this day. At length he rejects their fasts, however highly they may value them; because in this manner the wrath of God is still more provoked. Immediately afterwards he rejects also their prayers.

That ye may make your voice to be heard on high. F963 Hence it is evident, (as we have explained fully in our exposition of <230111>Isaiah 1:11,) that God approves of no duties which are not accompanied by sincere uprightness of heart. Certainly no sacrifice is more excellent than calling upon God; and yet we see how all prayers are stained and polluted by impurity of heart. Besides, in consequence of fasting being usually joined to prayer, the Prophet takes this for granted; for it is an appendage to prayer, he therefore forbids such men to offer up solemn prayer accompanied by fasting; because they will gain nothing, except that the Lord will punish them more severely. And hence we infer (as has been already said) that the Lord pays no regard to external works, if they be not preceded by sincere fear of God.

Such fasting as was customary among the Jews is not here blamed in itself, as if it were a superstitious ceremony, but abuse of fasting, and false confidence. This ought to be carefully observed; for we would need to deal very differently with the Papists, if we blamed their fasts. They contain nothing but superstition, being tied to this or that day, or to fixed seasons, as if during the rest of the time they were at liberty to gormandize; while they think that the flesh is unclean, and yet allow every kind of indulgence to it; provided only that they do not once gormandize on a fast‑day, they think that they have discharged their duty admirably well. Since therefore there is nothing in them that can be approved, we may absolutely condemn them.

But the dispute on this occasion was different. That fasting which the Jews observed was laudable in itself, because God had appointed it; but a false opinion respecting it was censurable. Among the Papists, on the other hand, we must condemn both the false opinion and the institution itself; because it is wicked. The Papists have this in common with the Jews, that they think that they serve God by it, and that it is a meritorious work. Yet fasting is not the worship of God, and is not in itself commanded by him, in the same manner as those works which he enjoins in the Law; but it is an external exercise, which is auxiliary to prayer, or is useful for subduing the flesh, or testifying our humiliation, when, as guilty persons, we implore that the wrath of God may be turned away in adversity. But the reader will find the use and design of fasting more fully discussed in our Institutes. (Book 4, chapter 12:15‑21)

5. Is it such a fast as I have chosen? He confirms the preceding statement, and shows that fasting is neither desired nor approved by God in itself, but so far as it is directed to its true end. He did not wish that it should be altogether abolished, but the improper use of it; that is, because they believed the worship of God to consist in it, and by neglecting or even despising true godliness, thought that bodily exercise was enough; just as hypocrites always put forward external ceremonies, as if they were satisfactions to appease God.

Again, because men, through their rashness, define what is the worship of God, he expressly refers us to his own will, that we may not suppose that he approves of everything which our own judgment pronounces to be right. Although men are well pleased with themselves, and swell with astonishing haughtiness, and indulge in insolent boasting, the Lord rejects and abhors them, because he claims for himself alone the right to “choose.” Now, “to choose” a thing is of the same import as “to take pleasure in it.”

And hanging his head like a bulrush. He says that he is not delighted if a man passes a day in hunger, and then walks with a sad and downcast look. The Prophet employs all appropriate metaphor; because the bulrush, though it is straight, is easily bent. So hypocrites bend themselves, and bow down the head, as if under the influence of oppressive leanness, or display some empty appearance of humility. The Prophet therefore intended to censure superstitious attitudes, in which hypocrites imagine that there is some holiness.

And spread sackcloth and ashes. These things also were added to fasting, especially when they made solemn professions of repentance; for they clothed themselves with “sackcloth,” and threw “ashes” on their head. (<290113>Joel 1:13) Now, such an exercise was holy and approved by God; and we see that the prophets, while they exhort the people to repentance, cry aloud for “sackcloth and ashes.” But as we have said that fasting is not here condemned on its own account, so Isaiah does not condemn those outward ceremonies, but reproves hypocrites for separating them from reality.

If it be asked, Are “sackcloth” and “ashes” suitable to our time? I reply, they are indifferent matters, which may be used for edification; but in the light of the Gospel, which has brought liberty to us, we have no need of such figures. At the same time, we should attend to the difference between Eastern nations, which make use of a great abundance and variety of ceremonies, and Western nations, whose habits are far more simple. If we wished to imitate the former, it would be nothing else than to enact the part of apes, or of stage‑players. Yet there is nothing to hinder those who intend to confess their guilt, from wearing soiled and faltered garments, after the manner used by suppliants. F964

A day acceptable to Jehovah. Hence it is evident that to solemn prayer, when a holy assembly was held, there was added fasting; for fasting, as we have already said, is an appendage to prayer; as we see that it was added to prayer by Christ himself. (<401721>Matthew 17:21) It is not appointed, therefore, for its own sake, but is directed to a different end.

6. Is not this the fast which I have chosen? The Prophet shows what are the real duties of piety, and what God chiefly recommends to us; namely, to relieve those who are wretched and pressed with a heavy burden. But the Prophet appears to abolish fasting universally, when, in place of it, he enumerates those works which are most highly acceptable to God. I reply, fasting is approved when it is accompanied by that love which we owe to our fellow‑men; and therefore the Prophet directs that we shall be tried by this principle, that our consciences be entire and pure, that we exercise mutual kindness towards each other; for if this order prevail, then fasting, which shall be added to it, will be pleasing and acceptable to God. But here he does not at all mention purity of heart. I reply, it is described by works, as by its fruits, from which it is easily seen what kind of heart we have. Next, he enumerates the duties of the Second Table, under which, as we have elsewhere seen, by a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole, he includes the whole observation of the Law; for it would not be enough to assist our neighbor by kind offices, if at the same time we despised God. But we must observe the Prophet’s design; because the love which we owe to our neighbors cannot be sincerely cultivated, unless when we love them in God. In order to make trial of our fear of God, he demands these as more immediate signs, if we live justly, inoffensively, and kindly with each other. Besides, he was not satisfied with outward appearance; and indeed the love of our neighbor does not thrive where the Spirit of God does not reign; and therefore Paul includes it in the enumeration of “the works of the Spirit.” (<480522>Galatians 5:22) Thus when the observation of the Law is spoken of, not only outward works, but likewise the dispositions of the heart, must be taken into the account.

To loose wicked bindings. Some explain it to mean “sinful thoughts,” by which the hearts of men are entangled. But Isaiah appears to me to have had another object in view, namely, that hypocrites are exceedingly cruel in distressing the poor, and lay heavy burdens upon them. He therefore calls them “bonds,” or “bindings,” or, as we commonly say, “oppressions.” Of the same import is what he adds, to undo the heavy burdens, under the weight of which the poor groan and are overwhelmed. he again adds, “to let the oppressed go free,” and expresses the same thing in a variety of words. Thus the Prophet does not define what is meant by “fasting,” but shows what the Lord requires in the first place and chiefly, and in what manner our obedience can be approved by him, and what ought to be the dispositions of those who endeavor to fast in a right manner.

7. Is it not to break thy bread to the hungry? He goes on to describe the duties of love of our neighbor, which he had described briefly in the preceding verse; for, having formerly said that we must abstain from every act of injustice, he now shows that we ought to exercise kindness towards the wretched, and those who need our assistance. Uprightness and righteousness are divided into two parts; first, that we should injure nobody; and secondly, that we should bestow our wealth and abundance on the poor and needy. And these two ought to be joined together; for it is not enough to abstain from acts of injustice, if thou refuse thy assistance to the needy; nor will it be of much avail to render thine aid to the needy, if at the same time thou rob some of that which thou bestowest on others. Thou must not relieve thy neighbors by plunder or theft.; and if thou hast committed any act of injustice, or cruelty, or extortion, thou must not, by a pretended compensation, call on God to receive a share of the plunder. These two parts, therefore, must be held together, provided only that we have our love of our neighbor approved and accepted by God.

By commanding them to “break bread to the hungry, F965 he intended to take away every excuse from covetous and greedy men, who allege that they have a right to keep possession of that which is their own. “This is mine, and therefore I may keep it for myself. Why should I make common property of that which God has given me? “ He replies, “It is indeed thine, but on this condition, that thou share it with the hungry and thirsty, not that thou eat it thyself alone.” And indeed this is the dictate of common sense, that the hungry are deprived of their just right, if their hunger is not relieved. That sad spectacle extorts compassion even from the cruel and barbarous. He next enumerates various kinds, which commonly bend hearts of iron to sumpa>qeian fellow‑feeling or compassion; that the savage disposition of those who are not moved by feeling for a brother’s poverty and necessity may be the less excusable. At length he concludes —

And that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh. Here we ought to observe the term flesh, by which he means all men universally, not one of whom we can behold, without seeing, as in a mirror, “our own flesh.” It is therefore a proof of the greatest inhumanity, to despise those in whom we are constrained to recognize our own likeness.

8. Then shall break forth as the dawn  F966 thy light. The Prophet shows that God is not too rigorous, and does not demand from us more than what is proper; and that hypocrites complain of him without cause, when they accuse him of excessive severity. When their works are condemned, they murmur, and reply that God can never be satisfied, that they do not know what they should do, or what course they should follow. He replies that he demands nothing else than a pure and honest heart, that is, an upright conscience; that if they have this, God will graciously receive them, and will bear testimony to their holiness, and will bestow every kind of blessing on those whose faults he justly chastises; and lastly, that there is no reason why they should murmur at him as excessively stern and harsh, because they will find him to be kind and bountiful when they shall lay down all hypocrisy, and devote themselves sincerely to his service.

We should observe the particle then; for it means that hypocrites, on the contrary, are very far from the true worship of God, though they wish to be reckoned very holy persons. But he holds them to be fully convicted, when he shows from their works that they neither worship nor fear God. By the word light he means prosperity, as by the word “darkness” is meant a wretched and afflicted life; and this mode of expression occurs frequently in Scripture.

And thy health. By “health” he means prosperity and safety, as we shall afterwards see in another passage, because the wounds inflicted by the hand of God on account of their sins had brought the people so low that they wasted away like a sick man under terrible disease. No kind of disease is more severe than to be pursued by God’s righteous vengeance, or consumed under his curse.

Righteousness shall go before thy face. “Righteousness” may be taken in two senses, either for the testimony of “righteousness,” or for good order; because God will put an end to the confusion, and will restore everything to its proper place. Thus the former meaning amounts to this, “When God shall be pacified towards thee, the testimony of thy righteousness shall be visible before God and men, as if some herald went before thee.” There are some who prefer to expound the word “righteousness” as meaning just government, which is the gift of God, and a token of his kindness as a Father; and we have seen that this word is sometimes used in that sense by Hebrew writers. But the latter clause which follows, And the glory of Jehovah will gather thee, leads me to prefer the former exposition, “Thy righteousness shall go forth; “ that is, “All shall acknowledge thee to be holy and righteous, though formerly thou wast guilty and convicted. So shalt thou also be adorned with the glory of the Lord, though formerly thou wast loaded with reproaches.” For we are reproached and disgraced, while we suffer the punishment of our sins.

9. Then shalt thou call. Isaiah follows out what he had formerly begun, that everything shall prosper well with the Jews, if they shall be just and inoffensive and free from doing wrong to any one, so that it shall manifest their piety and religion. He pronounces what is said by Hosea, (<270606>Hosea 6:6) and repeated by Christ, that “mercy shall be preferred to sacrifice.” (<400913>Matthew 9:13; 12:7) Thus after having spoken of the duties which men owe to one another, and testified that it shall be well with those who shall perform those duties, he adds, “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord will listen to thee.” The chief part of our happiness is, if God listen to us; and, on the other hand, nothing could be more miserable than to have him for an enemy. In order to try our faith, he attributes to our prayers what he bestows willingly and by free grace; for if he always bestowed his blessings while we were asleep, the desire to pray would become utterly cold, and indeed would cease altogether; and so the kindness of God would be an encouragement to slothfulness. Although he anticipates us by his free grace, yet he wishes that our prayers for his blessings should be offered, and therefore he adds, Thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Behold, here I am. This promise likewise contains an exhortation, that we may not lie idle. When he says that he is present, this indeed is not visible to our eyes; but he gives a practical declaration that he is near and reconciled to us.

If thou shalt take away from the midst of thee the yoke. In the latter part of the verse he again repeats that God will be reconciled to the Jews if they repent. Under the word “yoke” he includes all the annoyances that are offered to the poor; as if he had said, “If thou shalt cease to annoy thy brethren, and shalt abstain from all violence and deceit, the Lord will bestow upon thee every kind of blessing.”

And the pointing of the finger.  F967 This includes every kind of attack; for we are said to “point the finger,” when we threaten our neighbors, or treat them cruelly, or offer any violence.

And speech of vanity, or unprofitable speech. This is the third class of acts of injustice, by which we injure our neighbor when we impose upon him by cunning and deceitful words or flatteries; for every iniquity consists either of concealed malice and deceit, or of open violence.

10. If thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry. He goes on to recommend the duties of that love which we owe to one another. The sum of the whole discourse is this, that in vain do men serve God, if they only offer to him trivial and bare ceremonies; and that this is not the right and proper worship of God, who rigidly commands and enjoins us to lead an upright and innocent life with our neighbors, willingly to give ourselves and our labors to them, and to be ready to assist, them readily and cheerfully, whenever it is necessary. We should observe the two parts of this duty which the Prophet has expressly described; for in the first place, he recommends to us the feeling of mercy and kindness; and, in the second place, he exhorts us to the work itself and the effect. It would not be enough to perform acts of kindness towards men, if our disposition towards them were not warm and affectionate. “If I give all my goods to the poor,” says Paul, “and have not love, I am nothing.” (<461303>1 Corinthians 13:3) To “pour out the soul,” therefore, is nothing else than to bewail their distresses, and to be as much affected by their own poverty as if we ourselves endured it; as, on the other hand, all who are limited and devoted to themselves are said to have a hard and seared heart, to “shut up their bowels,” (<620317>1 John 3:17) and to restrain their feelings. F968 Another translation given by some commentators, “If thou shalt offer thy soul,” is unworthy of notice.

Thy light shall arise in darkness. Again, there follows the same promise, and under the same figure or metaphor. By “darkness” he denotes adversity, and by “light” prosperity; as if he had said to the people, “The Lord will cause all the miseries by which thou art now oppressed to cease, and sudden prosperity shall spring up.” He shows, therefore, that there is no reason why they should blame God for punishing them so severely; for they would immediately be delivered and enjoy prosperity if they sincerely worshipped and obeyed God.

11. And Jehovah will always conduct thee. He now describes more clearly what he had spoken briefly and figuratively, that God will be their guide, so that they shall be in want of nothing for a full abundance of blessings. God is said to “conduct” us, when we actually feel that he goes before us, as if he were placed before our eyes.

And will satisfy thy soul in drought. The Prophet adds that the aid promised shall not be of short duration, because God never forsakes his people in the middle of the journey, but continues his kindness towards them with unwearied regularity, and for this reason promises that they shall be satisfied amidst the deepest poverty; because God never is in want of any benefits for relieving their poverty, and his act of blessing is of more value than the most abundant rains of the whole year. And yet he does not promise to believers a rich and abundant produce of fruits, or a plentiful harvest, but that God will nourish them, though the earth yield no food. In this way he bids them depend on God’s assistance and be satisfied with it, though they be not altogether free from the distresses of famine. In this sense he adds, —

And will make fat thy bones. He does not say that they shall be fully and highly fattened, but that they shall be so lean that the “bones” shall protrude even through the skin. Thus he gives the appellation of” bones” to those who have been worn bare by hunger or famine, men who have hardly anything remaining but dry skin and “bones;” and he means that the Jews will have to contend with want of all things and with leanness, till God shall restore them.

Of the same import are the metaphors which he adds, a watered garden, and a spring of waters. Isaiah cannot satisfy himself in describing the kindness of God, which he displays towards his sincere worshippers, that men may not seek anywhere else than in themselves the causes of barrenness. It amounts to this, that this fountain of God’s kindness never dries up, but always flows, if we do not stop its course by our own fault.

12. And from thee shall be those who shall restore the deserts of the age. By “deserts” Isaiah means frightful desolation, which befell the Jews, when they were carried into captivity; for the country was reduced to a wilderness, the city was sacked, the temple was razed, and the people were brought into bondage and scattered. He calls them “deserts of the age,” (or of perpetuity,) because the temple could not be immediately repaired, and there was no hope of rebuilding it or of delivering the people. If any city has been ruined or destroyed, while its inhabitants remain, it may be speedily restored; but if none of the inhabitants survive, and if they have been carried away into a distant country, and are very far off, there can be no hope of rebuilding that city; and it will be reckoned monstrous if, after it has lain for a long time in ruins, some person shall say that the people who appear to have perished shall restore and rebuild it.

Since therefore the promise appeared to be incredible, the Prophet intended to meet the doubt; for they might have objected, “If God wishes to restore us, why does he suffer us to languish so long?” He replies that no continuance of delay prevents God from raising again to a lofty situation those who had been sunk low for a long period. Nor must this be limited to the rebuilding of the temple, which was begun by Zerubbabel, (<260308>Ezekiel 3:8) and continued by Nehemiah; but it includes the restoration of the Church, which followed after the lapse of several centuries.

The phrase “From thee,” means that from that people, though seemingly half dead, there shall arise those who shall repair the melancholy ruins, and shall be architects or workmen to rebuild Jerusalem. The verb wnb (banu) “shall build,” is translated by some in a passive sense; but as that way renders the meaning doubtful, the active signification ought to be retained. F969 A little afterwards, he appears to ascribe to the whole people what he had said of a few individuals; but the meaning is the same; for, if the question be put, “Who rebuilt Jerusalem? “ undoubtedly it was that people; but out of that vast multitude the Lord selected a small number and cut off the rest. Some suppose the meaning to be, that the cities will be insufficient for the number of inhabitants, so that they shall be constrained to rebuild other cities which had been formerly destroyed; but this appears to be too unnatural.

Thou wilt raise up the foundations of generation and generation. Some think that this clause conveys what the Prophet had formerly said, and that by “the foundations of generation and generation” are meant those which lay long in a ruinous state; because out of them must the building be immediately raised and set up; for various hinderances had arisen, by which that work was interrupted. But we may view it as referring to the time to come: “Thou wilt raise up buildings, which shall last for a very long period;” for he seems to promise that the condition of the Church shall be of long duration; as if he had said, “Other buildings do not last long, but this shall last for many ages.” Yet if any one prefer to view it as referring to the past, I am not much disposed to dispute with him.

And thou shalt be called. Here the Prophet includes both statements; namely, that the people would resemble a ruined building, and next, that they would be perfectly restored. He ascribes this to the Jews, that they shall be repairers and directors of the ways; that is, that the Lord will make use of their labors; for we ought to ascribe everything to the power of God, who is pleased to bestow upon us so high an honor as to permit our hands to be applied to his work. We have here a remarkable promise about gathering and raising up the ruins of the Church; and since the Lord is pleased to make use of our labor, let us not hesitate to be entirely devoted to it; and although the world oppose and mock at us, and account us fools, let us take courage and conquer every difficulty. Our hearts ought to cherish assured confidence, when we know that it is the work of the Lord, and that he has commanded us to execute it.

13. If thou shalt turn away thy foot from the sabbath. Some think that the Prophet alludes to the external observation of the Sabbath, because it was not lawful to perform a journey on that day. (<022008>Exodus 20:8) Though I do not reject that opinion, yet I think that the meaning is far more extensive; for by a figure of speech, ill which a part is taken for the whole, he denotes the whole course of human life; as it is very customary to employ the word “going” or “walking” to denote our life. He says, therefore, “If thou cease to advance in thy course, if thou shut up thy path, walk not according to thine own will,”’ etc. For this is to “turn away the foot from the Sabbath,” when we lay ourselves under the necessity of wandering freely and without restraint in our own sinful desires. As he formerly included under the class of fasting all ceremonies and outward masks, in which they made their holiness to consist, and showed that they were vain and unprofitable; so in this passage he points out the true observation of the Sabbath, that they may not think that it consists in external idleness but in true self‑denial, so as to abstain from every act of injustice and wickedness, and from all lusts and wicked thoughts. First, by the word “foot” he denotes actions; because the Jews, though they did not venture to perform a journey, or to cook flesh on a Sabbath‑day, yet did not scruple to harass their neighbors and to mock at the afflicted. Yet he immediately passes on to the will and to speeches, so as to include every part of the obedience which we owe to God.

And shalt call the Sabbath a delight. This word, “delight,” must be viewed as referring to God, and not to men; because nothing can be more pleasing or acceptable to God, titan the observation of the Sabbath, and sincere worship. He carefully inculcates this, that men do wrong, if, laying aside the commandments of God, they esteem highly those things which are of no value; and he warns them that they ought to form their judgment from his will alone. Certain classes of duties are again enumerated by him, by which he shows clearly that the true observation of the Sabbath consists in self‑denial and thorough conversion. And thus he pronounces the foundation to be the will, from which proceed speeches, and next actions; for we speak what we have conceived in our heart, and by speech we make known our will, and afterwards carry it into effect. Whoever then wishes to serve God in a proper manner, must altogether renounce his flesh and his will. And hence we see the reason why God so highly recommends, in the whole Scripture, the observation of the Sabbath; for he contemplated something higher than the outward ceremony, that is, indolence and repose, in which the Jews thought that the greatest holiness consisted. On the contrary, he commanded the Jews to renounce the desires of the flesh, to give up their sinful inclinations, and to yield obedience to him; as no man can meditate on the heavenly life, unless he be dead to the world and to himself. Now, although that ceremony has been abolished, nevertheless the truth remains; because Christ died and rose again, so that we have a continual sabbath; that is, we are released from our works, that the Spirit of God may work mightily in us.

14. Then wilt thou delight in Jehovah. He appears to allude to the word delight in the preceding verse; for the verb gg[tt (tithgnanneg) which the Prophet employs, is derived from the same root as gg[ (gnoneg) which he formerly used, when he said that the Lord takes the highest delight in the true observation of the Sabbath. In a word, he means that the people take no delight in God, because they provoke him, and do not obey his will; for if we framed our life in obedience to God, we should be his delight, and, on the other hand, he would be our delight. Thus he affirms that it is owing entirely to the Jews themselves that they do not, by relying on a reconciled God, lead a cheerful and joyful life. By these words he indirectly reproaches them with bringing upon themselves, by their own fault, many calamities.

And I will cause thee to ride on the high places of the earth. By these words he promises a return to their native country, and a safe habitation in it. We know that Judea was situated on a lofty place above the neighboring countries; while the situation of Babylon was much lower, so that the people trembled as if they had been shut up in a cave. He next tells more plainly what he meant by the word ride  F970 for he promises the possession of that country which had been promised and given to the fathers, F971 and which they at that time enjoyed, and of which they were afterwards deprived for a time.

For the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it. He added this, that they might know, beyond all controversy, that all these things were true; and this must be viewed as referring not only to those promises, but likewise to the beginning of the chapter. For he rebuked hypocrites, who thought that they were defending themselves in a just cause, and showed that they were suffering the just punishment of their sins; and that it was in vain to contend with God, and to bring forward in opposition to him their own works, which were altogether empty and worthless. On that account he brings them back to the true observation of the Sabbath, and shows that it will be well with them, if they shall worship God in a right manner. At length he concludes that they have not to deal with a mortal man, but that he who pronounces these things is God the Judge.


CHAPTER 59.

Go To Isaiah 59:1-21

1. Behold, the hand of Jehovah is not shortened. This discourse closely resembles the preceding one; for, after having torn off the mask from hypocrites, who vainly boasted of themselves, and after having shown that the punishment inflicted on them was just, he now replies to other objections. Hypocrites are wont to accuse God either of weakness or of excessive severity. He shows, therefore, that he does not want either power or will to save his people, but that he is prevented by their wickedness from exercising his kindness towards them; and therefore that. they do wrong in blaming God, and in uttering those slanders against him, when they ought, on the contrary, to accuse themselves.

The word ˆh (hen) “behold,” is emphatic, as if the Prophet spoke of something actually present, and pointed it out with the finger, for the sake of expressing certainty, in order to cut off a handle from hypocrites, that they might no longer practice evasion. We must also supply the contrasts to the words “shortened” and “benumbed; “ as if he had said, that formerly there were abundant resources in the hand of God to render assistance to his people, and that he always was ready to be reconciled and lent a willing car to prayers, and that now he is not unlike himself, F972 as if either his hand were broken or his ears grown dull, so that he did not hear distinctly.

2. But your iniquities have made a separation. The amount of what is said is, that they cannot say that God has changed, as if he had swerved from his natural disposition, but that the whole blame lies with themselves; because by their own sins they, in some measure, prevent his kindness, and refuse to receive his assistance. Hence we infer that our sins alone deprive us of the grace of God, and cause separation between us and him; for what the Prophet testifies as to the men of his time is applicable to all ages; since he pleads the cause of God, against the slanders of wicked men. Thus God is always like himself, and is not wearied in doing good; and his power is not diminished, but we hinder the entrance of his grace.

It will be objected, that men cannot anticipate God by deserving well of him, and that consequently he must do good to those who are unworthy. I reply, this is undoubtedly true; but sometimes the frowardness of men grows to such an extent as to shut the door against God’s benefits, as if they purposely intended to drive him far away from them. And although he listens to no man without pardoning him, as we always bring before him supplication for the removal of guilt, yet he does not listen to the prayers of the wicked. We need not wonder, therefore, if the Prophet accuse the people of rejecting God’s benefits by their iniquities, and rendering him irreconcilable by their obstinacy, and, in a word, of making a divorce, which drives away or turns aside the ordinary course of grace.

3. For your hands. He now brings forward their actions, that they may not practice evasion, or call in question what are those sins which have “caused the separation.” He therefore takes away from them every excuse, by bringing forward particular instances, as if their shameful life were exhibited on an open stage. Now, he speaks in the second person, because, like an advocate, he argues and pleads the cause of God, and therefore speaks of himself as not belonging to the rank of the wicked, with whom he did not wish to be classed, though he was not entirely free from sin, but feared and served God, and enjoyed liberty of conscience. No man could be at liberty to condemn others, who was involved in the guilt of the same vices; and no man could be qualified for pleading the cause of God, who deprived himself of his right by living wickedly. We must be unlike those whom we reprove, if we do not wish to expose our doctrine to ridicule, and to be reckoned impudent; and, on the other band, when we serve God with a pure conscience, our doctrine obtains weight and authority, and holds even adversaries to be more fully convicted.

Are polluted with blood. The picture which he gives of the wicked life of the people is not superfluous; for men seek various subterfuges, and cannot be reduced to a state of obedience, unless they have previously acknowledged their sins. By mentioning blood, he does not mean that murders have been everywhere committed; but by this word he describes the cruelty, extortions, violence, and enormities, which were perpetrated by hypocrites against the poor and defenseless; for they had not to deal with robbers and assassins, but with the king and the nobles, who were highly respected and honored. He calls them manslayers, because they cruelly harassed the innocent, and seized by force and violence the property of others; and so, immediately afterwards he uses the word “iniquity” instead of “blood.”

And your fingers with iniquity. Though he appears to extend the discourse farther, yet it is a repetition, or rather, a reduplication, such as is frequently employed by Hebrew writers, accompanied by amplification; for he expresses more by “fingers” than by “hands; “ as if he had said that not even the smallest part was free from unjust violence. F973

Your lips have uttered falsehood. Next, he takes notice of one kind of wickedness, that is, when men deceive each other by tricks, or falsehood, or perjury; for that iniquity by which we wound our neighbors is most frequently defended either by cruelty as a body‑guard, or by cheating and falsehood. Here the Prophet takes a rapid view of the second table, and, from the crimes which they commit against it, he shows that they are wicked and destitute of all fear of God; for cruelty and treachery, by which human society is infringed, proceed from contempt of God. Thus from “the hands,” that is, from extortion and violence, he descends to falsehoods and deceitful practices, to perjuries and crafty devices, by which we take advantage of our neighbors.

4. There is none that crieth for justice. He means that there is not among them any study of what is right or proper, that no man opposes the acts of injustice which are committed by the strong on the weak; and that this leads to growing licentiousness, because all wink at it, and there is none who cares about undertaking the defense of justice. It is not enough that we abstain from violence, if we do not, as far as lies in our power, hinder it from being committed by others. And, indeed, whoever permits what he is able to hinder does in some sense command it; so that silence is a sort of consent.

None that contendeth for truth. This clause is of the same import as the preceding one. Some take fpn (nishpat) in a passive sense, and suppose the Prophet’s meaning to be, “None is rightly judged; for everything is full of corruptions, and yet nobody makes opposition.” But the active signification is more appropriate; for these two statements are closely connected with each other, that “None crieth for justice” and “None defendeth truth or uprightness.” The rendering given by some, “No man judgeth himself truly,” is rather too harsh. But because this verb in Niphal is taken, in many passages, for “to contend,”  F974 the whole passage appeared to run more freely thus: that “none comes forward to protect what is right, openly and loudly to defend justice, and to plead against the wicked.” Yet it will perhaps be thought preferable to view the words “cry for justice” as referring to wretched persons who are unjustly harassed; as if he had said that they are dumb, because they would gain nothing by crying. But this would also be harsh.

If God condemns so severely those who pay no attention to the righteous causes of men, and do not aid such as are in difficulties, what shall become of us, if no zeal for defending the glory of God prompt us to rebuke iniquities? If we wink at the mockeries by which wicked men jeer at God’s sacred doctrine and profane his name; if we pay no attention to the efforts which they make to destroy the Church of God, shall not our silence be justly condemned for treachery?  F975 In a word, Isaiah says that good order falls into decay through our fault, if we do not, as far as we can, resist the wicked.

They trust in vain things. He next points out that this is extreme confusion, when no one rises up in defense of justice. When he says that they “trust in vain things,” he means that they heap up perverse reliances, by means of which they bring upon themselves insensibility. This is the utmost verge of iniquity, when, by seeking flatteries on every hand, they willingly harden themselves to despise God; and by such allurements Satan caresses the reprobate, till he altogether enchants them, so that, shaking off all fear of God, they not only despise sound counsels, but become haughty and fearless mockers. Since therefore foolhardiness drives us headlong, when we place false hopes in opposition to the judgment of God, the Prophet has good reason for representing, as a mark of desperate malice, this confidence under which cunning men shelter themselves; because the disease is manifestly incurable, when men who are openly wicked do not hesitate to flatter themselves, and, relying on their obstinate wickedness, think that they are at liberty to do whatever they please.

They talk idly. He adds that their conversation tells plainly what is the nature of their dispositions and morals; as the proverb says, that “the tongue is the image of the mind.” Yet this clause may be explained in two ways; either that they speak nothing sincerely, but, by constant practice, their tongues are formed to deceive, or, that their wickedness breaks out into open boasting. For my own part, I prefer the latter of these expositions.

They conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. These are elegant metaphors, by which he compares wicked men to women, who support the child in the womb, and afterwards give birth to it. Thus he says that the wicked, while they inwardly contrive their crimes, may be said to be pregnant till they bring forth in due time; that is, when they have found occasions and opportunities. “They conceive,” he says, “purposes of mischief, that afterwards they may unjustly harass simple persons;” as if he had said, that they make preparation for their crimes by long meditation, and are always ready for any mischief; because they do not cease to search in every quarter for indirect methods of annoying those who are giving them no disturbance.

5. They hatch the eggs of the basilisk. The Prophet proceeds farther, comparing the Jews not only to women, but to venomous beasts; so as to make it more evident that everything that proceeds from them is destructive and deadly. First, then, he says, that “they hatch the eggs of the basilisk; “ because, as a viper cannot lay an egg that is not venomous, so they are so inured to wickedness, and so full of it, that they can throw out nothing but poison. F976

And weave the webs of spiders. By “the webs of spiders” he means that they are so barren and destitute of anything good, that even by the appearance of virtues they deceive. By two marks he describes wicked men; first, that the works which they perform manifest their corrupt nature; secondly, that they are of no value whatever, and. contribute nothing towards making them kind, amiable, charitable, and faithful to those with whom they have intercourse. I am aware that it is explained ill a different manner by other commentators; namely, that the wicked, while they are contriving the destruction of others, ruin themselves, and, while they think that they are industrious, labor fruitlessly and to no purpose; that “they are snared in their own nets,” (<190915>Psalm 9:15) and “fall into the pit which they had digged.” (<190715>Psalm 7:15) But I am of opinion that the Prophet meant what I have now said; namely, that the wicked do mischief in all places, at all times, and in all transactions, and that they never do anything good; and that every person who has anything to do with them will find them to be venomous and destructive. Such is the import of what he says, that in their eggs there lurks a deadly venom, and that, if they are broken, a serpent will come out of them.

6. Their webs shall not be for clothing. He repeats and confirms the same statement, that everything that they attempt or undertake is always useless to mankind; because they purposely shrink from all acts of kindness. Now, it is an indication of a mind utterly abandoned, to devote themselves to evil deeds in such a manner, that no advantage of any kind can be expected from the life of him who desires to be barren and destitute of all justice. Others explain it, that they will toil unsuccessfully to acquire wealth and to rise to honor. But I consider the meaning to be more simple, that no man will “cover himself with their works,” because in their texture there is nothing solid or durable.  F977

By various modes of expression he inculcates the same thing, in order to demonstrate that their works yield no advantage whatever. But we were born for this end, that we should yield assistance to our neighbors, and, in our turn, contribute something to the general good. Thus they are savage beasts, and ought not to be called men, who are only skillful to do mischief, and labor with all their might to avoid doing good. he immediately adds, without a figure, that they are given up, and, as it were, devoted to iniquity.

7. Their feet run to evil. In various ways he paints to us the picture of what may be called extreme wickedness; that is, when men, having shaken off and cast away from them the fear of God, throw themselves into every kind of wickedness, and break out into all cruelty, extortion, and outrage. He says that they run, because they are eager and hasten with excessive keenness to evil actions. Having formerly spoken of the “hands” and the “tongues,” he likewise adds the feet, in order to show that they are proficients  F978 in every kind of villainy, and that there is no part of their body that is entirely free from crime. Some are violent, but restrain their tongues. F979 Others resemble harpies, but are satisfied with the first prey that they meet with. But the Prophet says that his countrymen are swift of foot for committing robberies. F980

Wasting and destruction are in their paths. He means that, wherever they go, they will resemble wild beasts, which seize and devour whatever they meet with, and leave nothing behind, so that, by their terrific onset, they drive away every kind of animals from venturing to approach to them. Pliny makes use of the same comparison, when speaking of Domitian, whose arrival was like that of a savage beast. The same thing happens with other violent men, whom all avoid as wild beasts. And in this manner their ways are rendered desolate and solitary, when none have any intercourse with them.

8. The way of peace they know not. Some give an ingenious interpretation of the word “peace” as meaning a “peaceful” conscience; because the wicked must endure continual agony. But the Prophet summons wicked men to judgment, in order to show, by the transgression of the Second Table, that they have no sincerity and no kindness, and, in a word, that they are ajsto>rgouv without natural affection. He says that “they know not the way of peace; “ because their cruelty deprives them of justice and equity, by which human society is maintained, the very food of which is mutual peace and kindness; for justice and integrity are nourished by peace. And if every person, with unbridled rage, rush on his neighbors and attack them, there is then open war; for harmony cannot be preserved among us, unless equity be observed by every individual.  F981

And judgment is not in their steps. What he had just before said is expressed more clearly by the word “Judgment;” as if he had said, that they excite terror wherever they go, because they lay aside all integrity.

Whosoever walketh by them. The last clause may be taken in various senses; either, “Whosoever walketh in them shall also be a stranger to peace,” or, “He who falleth into the hands of the wicked shall find them to be savage and barbarous.” Either of those meanings is admissible, and I do not think it worth while to dispute much about them. Thus, after having spoken in general terms, and after having shown that it is not God who prevents the Jews from being prosperous, the Prophet descends to particulars, by which he explains more fully the manner in which they have become estranged from God, and have rendered themselves unworthy of his favor.

Here arises a difficulty; for Paul (<450317>Romans 3:17) quotes this passage for the purpose of condemning all mankind as being sinful and corrupted, and as having nothing good; while the Prophet appears to apply it especially to the men of his own time. But the answer is easy; for, while he expressly addresses the Jews, who thought that they were holier than other men, the Gentiles must also be included along with them. If it be objected that the Gentiles, while they live uprightly, “are a law to themselves,” (<450214>Romans 2:14) and that “uncircumcision is counted as circumcision,” (<450226>Romans 2:26) I reply that the Prophet represents God as complaining of all who have not been renewed by the Spirit of God. In this manner no man can be excepted, if he be viewed in his own nature; but the Prophet speaks of himself as not belonging to their number, because he had been regenerated and was guided by the Spirit of God.

Paul’s quotation of this passage was therefore appropriate; because he intended to show what sort of men they are whom God hath forsaken, and who are under the influence of their own nature. Although the depravity of men does not always break out into gross vice, and the Prophet’s design is to rebuke a very corrupt age; yet whenever crimes become so prevalent, we may behold, as in a mirror, what a pool and how deep a pool of every evil thing is the nature of man. And yet this discourse was undoubtedly very distasteful to the Jews, who were puffed up with vain glorying of the family from which they were descended; but since even they were not spared by the Spirit of God, there is no reason why other nations, who are not less sinful by nature, should wallow in their pleasures.

9. Therefore is judgment far from us. After having described how corrupt and depraved was the condition of that people, he likewise shows that the severe chastisements inflicted on them are richly deserved, that they may not complain of being treated with greater harshness and severity than was proper. Thus he has painted, as in a picture, those vices which were publicly known, that they might more fully perceive in how many and how various ways they were guilty before God; and now he again repeats that we need not wonder if God treat such obstinate dispositions with greater severity, and render to them a just reward. He says that “Judgment is far off, because they were the most wretched of all men, and had not God for their protector as formerly.”

And justice doth not overtake us. He employs the words “judgment” and “justice” as denoting God’s guardianship, when he defends us, and shows that he takes care of us. He calls it “justice” when he defends us, and “judgment” when he revenges the injuries done to us. Here he declares that God had cast away the care of his people, and had deprived them of his countenance and aid, because they were unworthy of it; and hence we ought to observe the particle ˆk l[ (gnal ken) “therefore;” for he draws the conclusion that we ought not to blame God, as if he acted unjustly towards his people, since in so many ways they had insulted his majesty.

Of the same import is what he adds, that while they look for light, continual darkness sits down upon them; for the metaphor shows that they were almost consumed by their calamities, and that, when they promised to themselves any alleviation, they were disappointed of their hope. Light is a word very frequently employed to denote prosperity, and darkness to denote adversity. He means, therefore, that it will be vain to expect that their condition shall be changed for the better; and his object is, that the people may learn to ascribe their calamities to themselves, and may not imagine that those calamities happen by chance, or that the Lord is excessively severe; for he always endeavors to bring his people to the doctrine of repentance.

10. We grope for the wall like the blind. He explains the same thing by different forms of expression; for, in consequence of the grievous complaints which were heard among the people, he determined to omit nothing that was fitted to describe their calamities. It is perhaps by way of concession  F982 that he mentions those things; as if he had said, “Our affairs are reduced to the deepest misery, but we ought chiefly to consider the cause, for we have deserved all this and far worse.” But it is not a probable interpretation, that stupid persons are aroused to think of their evil actions; for, although they are abundantly disposed to complain, yet the devil stupifies them, so that the tokens of God’s anger do not awaken them to repentance, he alludes to that metaphor which he employed in the preceding verse, when he said that the people were in darkness and obscurity, and found no escape; and. his meaning is, that they are destitute of counsel, and overwhelmed by so deep anguish that they have no solace or refuge. When a lighter evil presses upon us, we look around and hope to find some means of escape; but when we are overpowered by heavier distresses, despair takes from us all ability to see or to judge. For this reason the Prophet says that they have been thrown into a labyrinth, and are “groping.”

We stumble. The same thing is expressed, and even in a still more aggravated form, by this mode of expression, that, if they stir a foot, various stumbling blocks meet them on every hand, and, indeed, that there is no alleviation to their distresses, as if day had been changed into night.

In solitary places as dead men. By “solitary places” I understand either gulfs or ruinous and barren regions; for in this passage I willingly follow the version of Jerome, who derives the word ynma (ashmannim) from a (asham,)”to be desolate.” The Jews, who choose to derive it from ˆm (shaman,) to be fat, appear to me to argue idly, and to have no solid ground for their opinion. They think that it denotes men, because ˆm (shemen) denotes “ointment,” and say that this word is used for describing the Gentiles. But the true meaning of the Prophet is, that the Jews have been reduced to a wilderness, so that, shut out from the society of men, they resemble the dead, and have no hope of escape.

l1. We all roar like bears. He describes two classes of those who cannot silently endure their afflictions without making them known by external signs; for some howl fiercely, and others moan like doves. This latter metaphor was employed by him in describing the groans of Hezekiah, (<233814>Isaiah 38:14; ) and this happens when we endeavor to restrain our grief, and yet cannot prevent the outward signs of grief from breaking out in spite of us. The meaning is, that sometimes the violence of their grief constrained them to utter loud cries, and sometimes they complained in low and murmuring sounds, but in both cases without avail, because their condition was not changed for the better.

We looked for judgment. He again repeats that in vain they “looked for judgment and salvation,” meaning that the people were deprived of the assistance of God, which he desired above all things; and he makes use of the word salvation, in order to describe more fully and completely what he formerly denoted by the word “justice,” and now again by the word “judgment.” Thence infer that it is by our own fault that we are wretched, and grow old and waste away in our wretchedness, till we are converted to God. We may indeed moan and howl, but can obtain no alleviation of our grief without repentance. There can be no end of our afflictions, so long as we provoke the Lord’s wrath, and do not desire with the whole heart to be reconciled to him.

12. For our iniquities are multiplied before thee. He confirms what he formerly said, namely, that the people act unjustly in accusing God of cruelty, and in not understanding that they are justly punished for their iniquities, the huge mass of which towers up to heaven; and in this sense the Prophet says that they “are multiplied.” There is also much weight in the phrase “before thee;” for the Prophet descends into himself, and acknowledges the righteous judgment of God, which was hidden from men. Thus he intended to point out an implied contrast between the judgment of God and the judgment of men, who flatter themselves, and do not consider their sins; but God, who is a just judge, does not the less on that account reprove them, or pay any attention to the frivolous excuses under which they endeavor to shelter themselves. For this reason he does not reckon it enough simply to condemn the people, but says that they have “multiplied” their sins, that is, in many respects they are guilty before God. He acknowledges, therefore, that the Lord is righteous, and performs the part of an excellent judge; since nothing good or right is found among men; and therefore he adds, —

Our sins have testified against us, (or, answer  F983 to us.) Witnesses are not summoned, or brought from heaven; but the Jews are rebuked and condemned by the testimony of conscience. That mode of expression ought to be carefully observed; for it shows that God does not need many proofs, since our sins hold us to be sufficiently convicted. We must not, therefore, strive with God, as if he punished us unjustly, or chastised us too severely; for our sins openly proclaim what we are, and God does not need additional proofs.

For our iniquities are with us. Instead of “with us,” some render wnta (ittanu)”upon us;” but I choose rather to adhere to the strict meaning of the word. F984 Men practice evasions, and assume various shapes, in order to appear righteous; but in vain, for they carry with them their iniquities, from which they cannot extricate themselves; as God, in condemning Cain, (<010407>Genesis 4:7) declares that “sin keepeth watch before the door; “ so that any one who despises the judgment of God shall in vain attempt to escape by his rebellion.

And we know our sins. When he says that the Jews “know their sins,” he does not mean that their hearts are truly affected by them, for in that case repentance follows; but he declares that, although they desire to escape the judgment of God, the testimony of their own conscience binds and holds them fast, so that it is vain for them to cavil or seek an excuse. He speaks in the first person, as if he were one of the great body of the people. This is very customary; but at the same time he shows that this evil prevails through the whole body to such an extent that not one member is whole or sound; and, although he may plead his own cause before God, yet, because iniquity is diffused through every part of the body, he acknowledges that he is one of the diseased members and is infected by the general contagion. Nor is there any contradiction in having formerly spoken of himself as not sharing the general guilt, and now laying aside all distinction, and including himself along with others.

13. We have done wickedly. Here he enumerates certain classes of sins, in order to arouse the people more keenly to an acknowledgment of their sin. It must be regarded as monstrous, that men, who have been chastised and almost crushed by the hand of God, are still proud, and so obstinate that they cannot bend or be humbled by a conviction of their sin. The Lord endeavors to soften our obduracy by stripes and wounds; but when chastisements do us no good, our case must be given up as hopeless. Isaiah therefore labors to show how wretched is the condition of the people, who, while they endured severe hardships, yet murmured against God, and did not suffer themselves to be brought into a state of obedience. And therefore he frequently repeats this warning, and reproves sharply, in order to subdue this obstinacy of the people.

And we have lied to Jehovah. By a variety of terms he rebukes their vices, and enumerates classes of them, after having pointed out in a general manner that corruption which everywhere prevailed.: Nor does he mention only slight faults, or those of a small number of persons, but a universal revolt. By these words he pronounces them to have been so deeply corrupted, that no sincerity, uprightness, fear, or conscience remained in them. For what is meant by “lying to God,” but to revolt treacherously from him, as if all obedience were refused? Thus he does not reproach them with one or a few transgressions of the Law, but says that, like fugitives, they have forsaken God, so that they do not follow him when he calls.

Conceiving and uttering from the heart. He now adds that they were devoted to the invention of mischief, and thoroughly imbued with falsehood; for “to utter a lie from the heart,” is far worse than to tell lies thoughtlessly, or even to deceive when an occasion presents itself. F985 Nor is there any room to doubt that those reproofs grievously offended the Jews, who, puffed up with pride, imagined that they were exceedingly holy. But it was proper to treat their hypocrisy in this manner, because mere doctrine produced little effect upon them. Taught by this example, pastors, when they see the Church of God corrupt, and men pleasing themselves and flattering their vices, ought to make strenuous opposition, accompanied by loud and sharp reproof.

14. And judgment is driven back. It is a mistake to suppose that the Prophet returns to his earliest subject, (<230105>Isaiah 1:5) and speaks of the punishments which the people had suffered at the hand of God; for he still proceeds with the preceding narrative, and explains the diseases under which the people labored, that they may see clearly that they are justly punished. But we must distinguish this verse from the ninth, in which he said that “judgment had gone back;” for there he declared that they were deprived of God’s assistance, because they did not deserve to have him as the defender of their cause; but here he says that “judgment is driven back” in a different sense, that is, because they have overthrown all justice and equity among themselves. They have therefore received a just reward, because no justice of God has shone forth to render assistance, when they have banished far from them justice and equity; for in vain do we expect from God what we have refused to others and cast away from ourselves.

In the street. That is, in a public place. He describes those places in which judicial sentences were pronounced. When he says that “truth is fallen in the street,” he means that not only some private individuals have been corrupted, but the whole condition of the people is so thoroughly depraved as to leave no part sound; for, if some vices reign among the common people, some remedy may be obtained, so long as there is room for judgment; but if judgments are overthrown or corrupted, it follows that all things are infected by a universal contagion. He describes also their unbridled licentiousness, in not being ashamed of conduct openly wicked, and in not shrinking from the light and from the eyes of men.

15. Truth faileth. Hence it clearly appears that Isaiah, in the preceding verse, did not speak of punishments; for, without interrupting the stream of his discourse, he proceeds to show that the people ought not to complain of the severity of chastisements, since they have so grievously offended and provoked God. He therefore confirms what he formerly said, that “truth hath fallen, that there is no place for equity;” and he enlarges this statement the more, by adding that he who hath withdrawn from evil hath become a prey. F986 Almost all the Jewish expositors, reading the two clauses consecutively, explain them thus: — “Truth hath failed, and, by departing from evil, hath been made a prey.” Why they adopt that meaning, I do not see.

Jerome’s exposition, which I follow, is much more correct; and appropriate; and a similar mode of expression is frequently employed in the Scriptures. Job is said to have been

“an upright and perfect man, fearing
God, and departing from evil.” (<180101>Job 1:1)

Solomon also says,

“The fool is confident, but the righteous man looketh well to himself, and departeth from evil.” (<201416>Proverbs 14:16)

The Prophet means that all uprightness was so greatly abhorred, that the true worshippers of God, if any remained, were not permitted to be safe. As if he had said, “Whoever wishes to live among men must vie with them in wickedness,” F987 according to the common proverb, “Among wolves we must howl; but he who wishes to live innocently shall be torn in pieces, as a sheep is torn by wolves.” Finally, he describes the utmost pitch of wickedness; for he shows that “truth hath failed,” so that no good man is allowed to remain among them; because every one that abstains front acts of injustice “lays himself open to be a prey.”

And Jehovah saw. This relates to the consolation of the people; for he declares that, although they have grievously offended, so that it may appear as if there were no room for pardon, still the Lord will have regard to his people, and, although he has inflicted very severe chastisements, will at length remember his covenant, so as to bring incredible relief by healing their wounds. He speaks here of a future period, and promises that one day, after calamities so numerous and diversified, the Lord will aid the people that are left; for the Jews would have lost heart, and would have been altogether discouraged, if the Lord had not brought that consolation.

Thus men commonly rush forward, and throw themselves headlong into opposite vices; for, when they are reproved, they either grow obstinate and harden themselves, or are terrified and fall into despair. We must therefore observe carefully this order which the Prophet followed. First, it was necessary to reprove the Jews, that, being affected and laid low by repentance, they might cease to find fault with God; and, secondly, a mitigation of punishments, accompanied by salvation, is promised, that they might not be discouraged, but expect assistance from the Lord, who is unwilling that his Church should perish, and punishes his people for a time, in order that he may not suffer them to be ruined and destroyed.

Yet if any one prefer to limit this dislike or displeasure of God to the “judgment,” because he had good reason for abhorring a wicked people, I have no objection; as if he had said that God saw nothing in that people but what was ground of hatred. Hence it follows, that there was no other motive that prompted him to yield assistance, than because their affairs were utterly desperate.

16. He saw that there was no man. Isaiah continues the same subject, but expresses more, and relates more fully what he had briefly noticed; for what he said in the preceding verse, that “it displeased the Lord that there was no judgment,” might have been obscure. In this passage he repeats that the Lord saw that “there was no man”  F988 to render assistance to the Church, and that he wondered. He makes use of the verb mwty (yishtomem) in the Hithpahel conjugation,  F989 for the purpose of denoting that the Lord was the cause of his own astonishment; as if he had said, “He made himself astonished.”

He wondered that none came forward. Some think that [ygpm (maphgiang) means an intercessor; but I think that the meaning is this, that there was none who endeavored to relieve their affliction, that there was no physician who applied his hand to this wound, and that for this reason God “wondered.” The reason why he attributes to God this astonishment may be easily understood. By this rebuke he intended to put the Jews to shame, that they might not, according to their custom, resort to hypocritical pretenses for concealing their sins; and, because it was incredible and monstrous that there was not found in a holy and elect people any one that opposed injustice, he represents God as astonished at such a novelty, that the Jews may at length be ashamed and repent. Was it possible that there could be greater obstinacy of which they ought to be ashamed, since by their wickedness they moved God to astonishment?

At the same time he rebukes their hypocrisy, if they pretend to have eminent piety and holiness, when God, after a diligent search, did not find even one upright man. He likewise praises and magnifies the unspeakable mercy of God, in condescending to rescue, as if from the depths of hell, a people whose condition was so desperate; for the Jews were undoubtedly reminded by these words in what manner they ought to hope for redemption; namely, because God is pleased to rise up miraculously to save what was lost. Besides, by the word “wonder” he describes also God’s fatherly care. It is certain that God is not liable to those passions, so as to wonder at anything as new or uncommon; but he accommodates himself to us, in order that, being deeply moved by a conviction of our evils, we may view our condition with horror. Thus, when he says that “the Lord saw,” he means that there is no help in our own industry; when he says that the Lord “wonders,” he means that we are excessively dull and stupid, because we neither perceive nor care for the evils of our condition; and yet that our indifference does not prevent the Lord from rendering assistance to his Church.

Therefore his arm brought (or, made) salvation to him. By these words he means that we ought not to despair, although we receive no assistance from men. Yet, reducing to nothing every other assistance, he pronounces the salvation of his own nation, and consequently of all mankind, to be owing, from first to last, to God’s undeserved goodness and absolute power. Thus, in like manner as, by asserting that God is abundantly sufficient for himself, and has power and strength sufficient to redeem the Jews, he stretches out his hand to the feeble; so, by saying that men can do nothing to promote their salvation, he abases all pride, that, being stripped of confidence in their works, they may approach to God. And we must observe this design of the Prophet; for, in reading the Prophets and Apostles, we must not merely consider what they say, but for what purpose, and with what design. Here, therefore, we ought chiefly to observe the design of the Prophet, that in God alone is there sufficient power for accomplishing our salvation, that we may not look hither and thither; for we are too much disposed to lean on external aids; but that we ought to place the hope of salvation nowhere else than on the arm of God, and that the true foundation of the Church is in his righteousness, and that they do wrong who depend on anything else; since God has borrowed nothing from any but himself.

The usefulness of this doctrine is still more extensive; for, although all remedies often fail us, yet the Lord will find sufficient assistance in his own arm. Whenever, therefore, we are destitute of men’s assistance, and are overwhelmed by calamities of every kind, and see nothing before us but ruin, let us betake ourselves to this doctrine, and let us rest assured that God is sufficiently powerful to defend us; and, since he has no need of the assistance of others, let us learn to rely firmly and confidently on his aid.

Yet we must keep in remembrance the universal doctrine, namely, that the redemption of the Church is a wonderful blessing bestowed by God alone, that we may not ascribe anything to the strength or industry of men. With abhorrence we ought to regard the pride of those who claim for themselves any part of that praise which belongs to God, since in him alone is found both the cause and the effect of our salvation.

And his righteousness, it upheld him. Here arm denotes power and strength, and righteousness denotes the integrity which he displays in procuring the salvation of his people, when he is their protector, and delivers them from destruction.  F990 When he says that “the arm of God brought to him salvation,” this must not be limited to God, and ought not to be taken passively, as if God saved himself, but, actively; so that this salvation refers to the Church, which he has delivered from the bands of enemies.

17. And he put on righteousness as a coat of mail. Here he equips God with his armor, for the purpose both of confirming more and more the confidence of believers, and of stripping all men of all confidence in their own strength. The meaning of the verse amounts to this, that God is in want of nothing for discomfiting his enemies and gaining the victory; because from his righteousness, power, and grace, and from his ardent love of his people, he will make for himself panopli>an complete armor. And this is again worthy of remark; for, although we acknowledge that God is sufficiently powerful, yet we are not satisfied with it, but at. the same time seek other help. Thus our minds are always inclined to unbelief, so that they fasten on inferior means, and are greatly entangled by them.

In order to correct this vice, Isaiah presents this lively description; as if he had said, “Know ye that God has in his hand all the safeguards of your salvation, and will be in want of nothing to deliver you in spite of enemies and bring you back to your native country; and therefore there is no reason why you should tremble.” Besides, there is nothing to which we are more prone than to imagine that we bestow something on God, and thus to claim for ourselves some part of the praise which ought to remain undivided with him.

When he clothes God with vengeance, and with indignation as a cloak, this relates to enemies, against whom God is said to be enraged for the sake of his people; and thus, the more that Satan labors and makes every effort against us, so much the more does God kindle with zeal, and so much the more powerfully does he rise up, to render assistance to us. Although, therefore, Satan and all the reprobate do not rest, but raise up obstacles of every kind to prevent our salvation, and even exert themselves furiously to destroy us, yet, by his power alone, God will defeat all their efforts.

18. As if on account of recompenses. He confirms the statement of the preceding verse; for he shows what will be the nature of that vengeance with which he had clothed the Lord; namely, that he is prepared to render recompense to his enemies. We must attend to the reason why the Prophet describes the Lord as thus armed, indignant, and ready for vengeance. It is, because the salvation of the Church is connected with the destruction of the wicked; and therefore God must be armed against the enemies who wish to destroy us.

Hence we see God’s infinite love toward us, who loves us so ardently that he bears hostility to our enemies, and declares that he will render recompense to them. So strong is his affection to his little flock, that he sets a higher value on them than on the whole world. This is the reason why he says that he will render recompense to the islands, that is, to countries beyond the sea and far off; for, in order to deliver his people, he overthrew monarchies that were powerful, and that appeared to be invincible. But, although here he mentions none but mortal men, still we must begin with Satan, who is their head.

19. Therefore they shall fear the name of Jehovah. He now testifies that this work of redemption shall be so splendid and illustrious, that the whole world shall wonder, behold, praise, and celebrate, and, struck with fear, shall render glory to God. It is uncertain whether he means the conversion of the Gentiles, or the terror with which God dismays his enemies. For my own part, I am more inclined to the former opinion, that, even to the utmost boundaries of the earth, the name of God shall be revered and honored, so that the Gentiles shall not only tremble, but shall serve and adore him with true repentance.

For  F991 the enemy shall come as a river. As to the reason now assigned, commentators differ. But the true meaning, in my opinion, is, that the attack of the enemy shall be so furious that, like a rapid and impetuous torrent, it shall appear to sweep away and destroy everything, but that the Lord shall cause it instantly to subside and disappear. It is therefore intended to heighten the description of the divine power, by which the vast strength and dreadful fury of the enemies are repelled, receive a different direction, and fall to pieces.

A question now arises, “What redemption does the Prophet mean?” I reply, as I have already suggested on another passage, that these promises ought not to be limited, as is commonly done, to a single redemption; for the Jews refer it, exclusively to the deliverance from Babylon, while Christians refer it to Christ alone. For my part, I join both, so as to include the whole period after the return of the people along with that which followed down to the coming of Christ; for this prophecy was not fulfilled but in Christ, and what is said here cannot apply to any other. Never was the glory of God revealed to the whole world, nor were his enemies put to flight so as not to recover their strength, till Christ achieved a conquest and illustrious triumph over Satan, sin, and death.

20. And a Redeemer shall come to Zion. He again confirms what he formerly said, that the people shall be delivered, and that God will be the author of this blessing. He bids the people, therefore, be of good cheer in their captivity, which shall not be perpetual; and next, he exhorts them to place the hope of redemption in God alone, that they may fix their minds solely on his promises. By the name Zion he denotes here, as in other passages, captives and exiles; for however far they had been banished from their country, still they must have carried the temple in their hearts.

And to them who have turned away from iniquity. That the bastard children of Abraham may not apply indiscriminately to themselves what he has just now said, he proceeds to show to whom the redemption shall come, namely, to those only who have been truly consecrated to the Lord. It is certain that many returned from Babylon, who were not moved by any feeling of repentance, and yet who became partakers of the same blessing. But the Prophet speaks of the complete redemption which the elect alone enjoy; for, although the fruit of external redemption extends also to hypocrites, yet they have not embraced the blessing of God for salvation. The design of the Prophet is, to show that the punishment; of banishment will be advantageous, that God may gather his Church, after having purified it from filth and pollution; for we must always bear in remembrance what we saw elsewhere as to the diminution of the people.

In this way the Prophet exhorts the elect to the fear of God, that they may profit by his chastisements. Hence infer, that we cannot be reconciled to God through the blood of Christ, unless we first repent of our sins; not that salvation, which is founded on the pardon of sins, depends on our repentance; but repentance is joined to it in such a manner that it cannot be separated. They whom the Lord receives into favor are renewed by his Spirit in such a manner as to abhor their vices and change their manner of life.

Papists overturn the whole doctrine of salvation, by mingling and confounding pardon of sin with repentance; and not only they, but others also who wish to be thought more acute.  F992 They acknowledge that a man is justified by free grace through Christ, but add, that it is because we are renewed by him. Thus they make our justification to depend partly on the pardon of sins and partly on repentance. But in this way our consciences will never be pacified; for we are very far from being perfectly renewed. These things must, therefore, be distinguished, so as to be neither separated nor confounded; and thus our salvation will rest; on a solid foundation.

Paul quotes this passage, (<451126>Romans 11:26) in order to show that there is still some remaining hope among the Jews; although from their unconquerable obstinacy it might be inferred that they were altogether cast off and doomed to eternal death. But because God is continually mindful of his covenant, and “his gifts and calling are without repentance,” (<451129>Romans 11:29) Paul justly concludes that it is impossible that there shall not at length be some remnant that come to Christ, and obtain that salvation which he has procured. Thus the Jews must at length be collected along with the Gentiles, that out of both “there may be one fold” under Christ. (<431016>John 10:16) It is of the deliverance from Babylon, however, that the Prophet treats. This is undoubtedly true; but we have said that he likewise includes the kingdom of Christ, and spiritual redemption, to which this prediction relates. Hence we have said that Paul infers that he could not be the redeemer of the world, without belonging to some Jews, whose fathers he had chosen, and to whom this promise was directly addressed.

Saith Jehovah. By these words, in the conclusion of the verse, he sets a seal to the excellent sentiment which he has expressed.

21. And I make this my covenant with them. Because it was difficult to believe what the Prophet has hitherto declared, therefore he endeavors, in various ways, to confirm the Jews, that they may rely with unshaken confidence on this promise of salvation, and may ascribe to God so much honor as to trust in his word. And we ought carefully to observe the word covenant, by which the Prophet points out the greatness and excellence of this promise; for the promises are more extensive, and may be regarded as the stones of the building, while the foundation of it is the covenant, which upholds the whole mass. He makes use of this word, therefore, that they might not think that it contained some matter of ordinary occurrence, and adds these confirmations, that, although the Lord did not immediately perform this, they might nevertheless expect it with firm and unshaken hope; and there appears to be an implied contrast, that believers may cheerfully look forward to the new covenant, which was to be established in the hand of Christ.

My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words. What is now added may be thought to be feeble and trivial, when he enjoins the Church to be satisfied with the “word” and “Spirit; “ as if this were a great happiness, to hang in suspense on nothing but God’s promises. Yet although the Prophet commends the value and excellence of doctrine, I have no doubt that still it is not separated from its effect. But because God regulates and dispenses his grace in such a manner, that, as long as believers remain in this world, he always trains them to patience, and does not in every instance answer their prayers, therefore he brings them back to doctrine; as if he had said, “Thou wilt indeed find that I am kind to thee in various ways; but. there is no happiness which will be of greater importance to thee, or which thou oughtest to desire more earnestly, than to feel that I am present by ‘ the word’ and ‘the Spirit.’” Hence we infer that this is a most valuable treasure of the Church, that he has chosen for himself a habitation in it, to dwell in the hearts of believers by his Spirit, and next to preserve among them the doctrine of his gospel.

Shall not depart out of thy mouth. Finally, he foretells that the Lord will never forsake his people, but will always be present with them by “his Spirit” and by “the word.” The “Spirit” is joined with the word, because, without the efficacy of the Spirit, the preaching of the gospel would avail nothing, but would remain unfruitful. In like manner, “the word” must not be separated from “the Spirit,” as fanatics imagine, who, despising the word, glory in the name of the Spirit, and swell with vain confidence in their own imaginations. It is the spirit of Satan that is separated from the word, to which the Spirit of God is continually joined. Now, when he quickens outward doctrine, so that it strikes root in our hearts, our condition is happy even amidst many afflictions; and I have no doubt that the Prophet expressly declares that, although God deals kindly with his Church, still its life and salvation shall be laid up in faith. Thus the new people is distinguished from the ancient people; for, as the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, so, since he has risen from the dead, believing souls must be raised up along with him. But now he promises that the Church will never be deprived of this invaluable blessing, but will be guided by the Holy Spirit and sustained by heavenly doctrine; for it would be of little avail that the gospel should once be offered to us, and that the Spirit should be given to us, if he did not dwell with us.

Which I have put in thy mouth. The Prophet shows that God addresses us in such a manner that he chooses to employ the ministry and agency of men. He might indeed speak from heaven or send angels; but he has consulted our advantage the more by addressing and exhorting us through men like ourselves, that, by their voice and word, he may more gently draw us to himself. This order has therefore been established by him in the Church, that it is vain for those who reject his ministers to boast that they are willing to obey God; and therefore he commands us to seek the word and doctrine from the mouth of prophets and teachers, who teach in his name and by his authority, that we may not foolishly hunt after new revelations.

My words shall not depart. The phrase, “shall not depart,” is rendered by some in the imperative mood, for which it is well known that the future tense is sometimes used. But here a command or exhortation is not appropriate; for the Prophet promises that which God intends to fulfill. An exhortation may indeed be drawn from it, but the priority is due to the promise, which is to this effect, that the Lord will assist his Church, and will take care of it, so as never to allow it to be deprived of doctrine. To this, therefore, we ought always to look, when we are tempted by adversity, and when everything does not succeed according to our wish; for we must be supported and upheld by the word and the Spirit, of which the Lord declares that we shall never be left destitute.


CHAPTER 60.

Go To Isaiah 60:1-23

1. Arise, be bright. He now shows what is the efficacy of that word of which he formerly  F993 spoke; for he raises up a prostrate and afflicted Church, and restores her to her brightness; and, because he represents the person of God, he now declares his authority. For this reason he employs the form of command, that the word spoken might be more efficacious; as if, in the exercise of absolute power, he put the Church in possession of that happier condition which he had promised. The amount of what is said is, that believers may know that he does not scatter his words in the air, but speaks with effect.

He bids her “arise,” because he formerly told her to “lie down;” and these two words stand in contrast with each other. Of Babylon he formerly said, “Come down, sit in the dust.” (<234701>Isaiah 47:1) Of the Jews themselves he said, “My people shall sit in the dust.” On the other hand, he says, “Arise, arise, put on the garments of thy beauty.” (<235201>Isaiah 52:1) Thus, by what may be called the stretching out of his hand, he lifts up the Church again, that she who had formerly been prostrated, and covered all over with filth and pollution, may regain her seat of honor.

For thy brightness is come. That the darkness of afflictions may not overwhelm the Jews with despair, he says that the light which had been hidden would soon afterwards arise, alluding to the alternation of day and night. As if he had said, “The Lord, having compassion upon thee, will rescue thee out of this darkness in which thou liest; thou hast been sufficiently punished; it is time that thy condition should begin to be improved.” By the word brightness, therefore, he metaphorically denotes salvation and prosperity, as by “darkness” he formerly denoted a calamitous state of the Church.

The glory of Jehovah. He mentions at the same that this light will arise from no other quarter than from God’s smiling countenance, when he shall be pleased to display his grace; for everything goes well when the Lord shines upon us by his light; and, when he turns away from us, nothing that can befall us is more wretched and unhappy.

2. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth. He now exhibits in a stronger light, by means of comparison, that grace which he formerly mentioned; that we may form some idea how much God loves his elect, and how extraordinary is the privilege which he bestows upon them. The amount of what he says is, that, while we are weighed down by innumerable afflictions, and while the whole world, as it were, sinks under them, God will take care of his people., in order to enrich them with various benefits. He shows, therefore, that the light of grace and favor, which he mentioned, will not be indiscriminately enjoyed by all, but will be peculiar to the people of God.

We have said that the word “brightness” denotes a prosperous condition of the Church; but let us not judge of this condition from outward appearance; for the Prophet rises higher, and I have no doubt that his discourse relates to spiritual light and brightness. Otherwise that mode of expression which he afterwards employs, “The Gentiles shall walk to thy brightness,” (verse 3) would not be appropriate. Besides, this is clearly demonstrated by the connection between this chapter and the preceding; for he says that this covenant is continued in the word and Spirit. Finally, from the contrast it may easily be inferred that the happiness promised to the Church is different from that which consists in meat and drink, or tranquillity and peace, and other conveniences; and indeed never afterwards was there any period in which the darkness of afflictions overwhelmed all the Gentiles, while the Jews enjoyed peace and prosperity. Since, therefore, the condition of the Church is separated from the whole world, that benefit which Isaiah puts into the possession of the Church is spiritual, and the brightness which he promises is spiritual; and consequently, these things relate to the spiritual kingdom of Christ, when the light of the Gospel shone in every part of the world, and foreign nations were enlightened by it. To this also relates what follows, —

The Lord will arise upon thee; for although he shows that the favor of God will be visible by manifest tokens and effects, yet he does not leave out that which is of the greatest importance, that believers will truly feel that he is their Father, so as to expect salvation from him. Hence infer that we are overwhelmed by darkness till God shine upon us with the testimony of adoption by free grace. I speak of all mankind; for Isaiah informs us that this life‑giving light proceeds from God alone, in order to declare that it is a special gift of God.

Secondly, it ought to be observed that the Church alone, that is, the elect of God, are partakers of this brightness. Hence it follows, that it is not a common or natural gift, but a gift by which the Lord relieves us from an ordinary defect of human nature. Thus also we perceive that there is no light or brightness but in the Church; for the rest of men, though they think that they enjoy light and brightness, are overwhelmed by darkness, from which they cannot be extricated in any other way than by the light of the Gospel.

And his glory shall be seen upon thee. He adds the word “glory,” because, after having embraced us by his favor, the Lord continues more and more to increase his acts of kindness toward us.

3. And the Gentiles shall walk. He confirms what we have already said, that there is no other light of men but when the Lord shines on them by his word. All indeed acknowledge this; but they do not set so high a value as they ought on this benefit, and imagine it to be something of an ordinary kind, which naturally belongs to all men. But he shows that this grace is supernatural, and therefore it ought to be distinguished from nature; which is clearly shown by the repetition of the words upon thee, in the preceding verse.

First, then, we ought to believe that this benefit comes from God alone; and secondly, that all are not indiscriminately partakers of it, but only the elect, on whom the Lord shines by undeserved favor, so as to take them out of the ordinary rank of men. This is done by Christ, who is called “the Sun of Righteousness,” because we are enlightened as if by his rays. (<390402>Malachi 4:2) Besides, the Prophet declares that this favor shall be spread far and wide by the Jews; which is also intimated by the words of the covenant,

“In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.” (<012218>Genesis 22:18)

To thy brightness. If one nation only had enjoyed the light, it would have been of no advantage to the rest; but, so far as the doctrine of the Gospel has been spread throughout the whole world, Judea has held out the light to the Gentiles formerly blinded, in order to point out the way. By making the brightness peculiar to a single nation, he shows that in no other way could the world be enlightened, or come to share in this benefit, than by seeking light from that word which proceeded from the Jews, and was heard at Jerusalem, where the lamp of the Lord was kindled, and where the Sun of Righteousness arose, that from it he might diffuse his light to all the ends of the earth, as we have formerly seen, “Out of Zion shall go forth the Law.” (<230203>Isaiah 2:3) There is, therefore, no light but from the doctrine of the prophets; so that they who withdraw from it falsely boast of walking in the light.

And kings to the brightness of thy rising. He alludes to the dawn; for, as the morning‑star begins the day in one quarter only of heaven, and immediately the sun enlightens the whole world, so the daybreak was first in Judea, from which the light arose and was afterwards diffused throughout the whole world; for there is no corner of the earth which the Lord has not enlightened by this light. He mentions “kings,” that they might not imagine that none but the common people would come to this light, but princes and nobles, who in other respects are greatly delighted with their high rank. But now he confers on the Church the very highest honor, that she shines with such brightness as to attract to herself nations and princes. He calls it “the light” of the Church; not that she has any light from herself, but borrows it from Christ, as the moon borrows from the sun.

4. Lift up thine eyes round about. By a variety of expressions he confirms that promise of the restoration of the Church which appeared to be altogether incredible. Nor was it easy to convince the Jews of this, while the state of their affairs was so wretched and confused. At that time the kingdom of Judah alone remained, and grew less every day, till it was utterly ruined; but when the people were led into captivity amidst that frightful dispersion and melancholy ruin, everything was so desperate that it appeared as if the Church were entirely ruined. It was therefore proper to confirm this doctrine by a variety of expressions, that hearts naturally prone to distrust might no longer doubt. For this reason he leads the Jews to look at the event as actually at hand, though it was at a great distance; that they might not hesitate any more than if it were already placed before their eyes.

He bids believers lift, up their eyes on high, that is, above human thought; for, so long as we fix them on the outward condition, we cannot obtain the fruit of these promises. He adds, “round about,” that they may fully believe that the nations will come, not from one quarter only, but from every direction, that they may be united in one body. And not only does he promise a remedy and an end of the dispersion which was yet to take place, as it is said elsewhere, “He will gather the dispersed of Israel,” (<19E702>Psalm 147:2; <235608>Isaiah 56:8) but this gathering is more extensive; for it means that there will be a wonderful revolution in the world, so that they who formerly were strangers and dispersed shall be united in one body. Finally, it denotes the extension of the Church to the farthest boundaries of the earth. There is also an implied contrast, by which he points out the wretched and afflicted condition in which the world was, before it was gathered together under the direction of Christ.

Thy sons shall come from far. Some think that by “sons” are meant those who are stronger and more steadfast in faith, and by daughters those who are weaker. But I do not think that the Prophet intended to convey such ingenious distinctions;  F994 and therefore I consider the plain meaning to be, that both sons and daughters shall run together to the Church; that is, that the Church shall have sons and daughters, not only at home but abroad, and in the most distant parts of the world; that the womb of the Church shall not be limited to any corner of the world, but shall be extended as far and wide as there shall be space throughout the whole world.

5. Then shalt thou see. These things appear, at first sight, to be somewhat inconsistent with each other, that formerly he spoke of the fact as present, and now foretells it as future. But formerly he spoke of the eyes of faith, which beholds those things which do not fall under the senses of men, and now he speaks of the actual event; or, at least, he intended by the present tense to point out the certainty; but now, in order that believers may continue to exercise patience, he limits the same statement. Besides, although those things which the Lord promises are concealed, for a time, from the eyes of men, yet believers perceive them by faith; so that they have a firm belief and expectation of the accomplishment of them, however incredible they may appear to others.

Thou shalt shine, or, thou shalt overflow. As the verb rhn (nahar) signifies both “to shine” and “to overflow,” so it may be rendered either way.  F995 We may refer it to that joy with which the Church is filled and overflows, when it is enlarged in this manner, or to the ornament with which it shines and dazzles.  F996

Thou shalt tremble. He now mentions “trembling,” and connects it with splendor or joy; and this may appear to be inconsistent with the meaning assigned to the former clause. But I have no doubt that he intended, by this word, to express the astonishment and even amazement with which the Church shall be seized, when she shall perceive that this strange and unexpected honor has been obtained by her, and that she has been elevated to so high a rank of honor. As if he had said, “The extent of the work will be so great as to exceed thy expectation.” It is not, therefore, the “trembling”’ which is produced by some danger or some melancholy event, but such as commonly arises in matters of great importance, which exceed the capacity of our understanding, when we are struck with amazement, and almost think that we dream, and this “trembling” agrees very well with joy.

6. A multitude of camels shall cover thee. The Prophet describes figuratively the glory of the Church, and accommodates his discourse to the time, and to the persons with whom he had to do. We must keep in remembrance what we have often said, that the prophets took into account the people whom they taught, and therefore mentioned customary transactions and well‑known ceremonies, that, under the figures of them, they might describe the spiritual worship of God. The Jews must be first instructed, and afterwards the Gentiles, to whom the truth of those things has come; as if he had said, that nations far distant shall come, with their wealth, into the power of God; for, when he foretells that the Church shall be enriched, this must not be understood as referring to the persons of men; but, on account of the unity of the Head and the members, what belongs to God and to Christ is transferred to the Church. Foolishly, therefore, do the Jews, under the pretense of this prophecy, devour with their insatiable avarice all the riches of the earth; and not less absurdly do the Papists torture these words to support their luxuries, wealth, and magnificence.

He mentions “camels, frankincense, gold., and sheep,” because he has in his eye what each country produces, in order to show that all will consecrate to God whatever they shall have in their power, and will offer themselves and all that they have as a sacrifice. Hence it ought to be inferred, that we cannot be truly converted to the Lord, without offering to him all our faculties; for these are “spiritual sacrifices,” (<600205>1 Peter 2:5) which he demands, and which cannot be refused to him, if our hearts be dedicated and consecrated to him in sincerity. (<451201>Romans 12:1) Wicked men abuse the gifts of God for luxury and intemperance, and corrupt them, as far as lies in their power, by unworthy profanation; but good men, by using them with a pure conscience, dedicate them to the Lord. No one, therefore, can belong to God without dedicating and devoting to him all that he has.

7. Kedar, Nebaioth. So far as relates to the countries which the Prophet here enumerates, it is unnecessary to explain in what place each of them is situated; but it ought to be observed, in passing, that he mentions here those countries which lay toward the East, and chiefly Arabia and neighboring places, which he describes under the names of “Kedar” and “Nebaioth.” The Papists have also abused this passage, in order to prove that kings came from the East to offer gifts to Christ; and, in so doing, they make themselves exceedingly ridiculous, seeing that the Prophet speaks of all ranks of men. But they heap up, without judgment, all passages of this kind, in which mention is made of “gold” or “frankincense,” as if the prophets meant those gifts which the magi offered. (<400211>Matthew 2:11) But in this passage there is no obscurity; for it means that everywhere men shall call upon God, and all foreigners shall assemble to worship him.

They shall ascend to the good pleasure of my altar. Others render the words, “They shall ascend with good pleasure on my altar,” and think (not altogether without reason, in my opinion) that it is a figure of speech by which words interchange their cases with each other, and that. the Prophet means that those sacrifices which shall be offered by the Gentiles will be acceptable to God. Others interpret ˆwxr (ratzon) as if it were an adjective, which does not agree with the correct use of the language; for ˆwxr (ratzon) signifies benevolence or favor. For this reason I consider the rendering which I have given to be preferable; namely, that “sacrifices shall ascend to the good pleasure of the altar;” and the meaning may be brought out in this manner, “They shall ascend to appease God; as it is for this purpose that an altar has been appointed, and sacrifices are offered, that God may be reconciled and favorable to men; and God also, according to his promise, accepts the sacrifices that have been offered on his altar;” for at that time the “altar” was the approach to obtain God’s favor.

Here the Prophet plainly expresses three things. First, when he says that “the sacrifices ascend,” he alludes to the ancient ceremony, which was formerly observed by them in sacrifices; for they lifted up the slain beasts; by which they meant that all men ought to raise their hearts on high, that they might not keep their eyes fixed on the earth or look only at the sacrifice which was offered. Secondly, the Prophet says that those sacrifices are acceptable to God, that they may be distinguished from the profane offerings of the Gentiles, which were unaccompanied by faith. Thirdly, he says, “On the altar,” which alone can “sanctify the offerings,” (<402319>Matthew 23:19; ) for all that was offered anywhere else was unholy and detestable. Besides, this figure ought to lead us to the truth; for Christ is the altar of God, and on him we must offer, if we wish that God should accept our sacrifices.

And I will glorify the house of my glory. Under the glorification of the temple he declares the true restoration of the people; for the chief part of their happiness was, that the temple should stand, in which men called on God in a right manner; and we must begin with this, that God reigns amongst us, by which we are made truly happy. For this reason, when the Lord declares that the Church shall be restored, he mentions the temple, the glory of which he will restore; as if he had said, “My house is now exposed to the mockery of the Gentiles, but I will at length restore to it that glory of which it has now been deprived.” It is evident from Zechariah, Haggai, and Malachi, that this was not completed immediately after the return of the people. We must not imagine that its true dignity consisted in that splendid building by which Herod cunningly endeavored to gain favor; and therefore the dignity or honor, which is here mentioned, was not manifested till God opened the gate of heaven to Jerusalem, and then openly called all the Gentiles to the hope of eternal salvation.

8. Who are those? As the Prophet cannot satisfy himself in describing this gift of God, he breaks out into admiration, and exclaims, “Who are those? “ This is far more forcible than if he had simply said that an inconceivable multitude was flying, and had even made use of the same metaphors. He intended, therefore, to describe how splendid this multiplication would be, when he could not find words sufficient to express it.

That fly as a cloud.  F997 It is generally thought that this denotes the Apostles, who, with incredible swiftness, made their way to the farthest boundaries of the world; and there is some plausibility in that interpretation. (<411615>Mark 16:15) But the Prophet speaks of a universal assemblage of the Church; for from every quarter men shall run to it readily and cheerfully.

And as doves to their windows.  F998 The metaphor of “doves,” which he employs, is highly appropriate to this subject; for, when they are dispersed through the fields, they appear not to differ at all from untamed birds; and yet they are domesticated, and have their pigeon‑house, to which they betake themselves, and in which they build their nests. Thus believers, enlightened by faith, begin to perceive their assembly, to which they fly from frightful dispersion. How necessary this warning was, will be readily perceived by all who shall take into account their wretched and alarming condition at that time; for, if the prophets, after having carefully instructed the Jews for many years, could gain very little or hardly any success, what was to be expected from the Gentiles, who were altogether alienated from God? Was it not para>doxon beyond all reasonable expectation, that the Gentiles would one day come into the Church? Yet the Prophet does not speak extravagantly, but is filled with such amazement that he leads us to admire it in the same manner.

9. Surely the islands shall wait for me. After having employed every eulogium that he could find for extolling that wonderful benefit of restoration, Isaiah introduces God himself as speaking, that the discourse may carry greater weight. This “waiting” is supposed by some to denote desire; as if he had said that this is done, because nations beyond the seas shall, as it were, hunger after him; because they shall feel that they are destitute of life and salvation. Others view it as simply denoting hope. But sometimes it likewise means “to observe,” in which sense David employs it. “Wicked men wait for my soul;” that is, “they lay snares for my life.” (<195606>Psalm 56:6) In that sense it may be understood in this passage. “They shall wait for,” that is, they shall observe my will; as servants are wont to comply with the will of their masters. Do not wonder, therefore, that so many shall flow into the Church; for “the islands,” which at present sometimes despise and sometimes fight against me, shall be so attentive to me as to execute whatever I shall command. And indeed from the remainder of the verse it is manifest that he now speaks of that kind of obedience.

And the ships of Tarshish. If it be thought preferable, the particle k (caph,) as, may be here supplied in this manner: “As the ships of Tarshish formerly traded with Judea, and brought what was necessary for building the temple and for the use of men, so they shall again renew their traffic, and that navigation which had been broken off shall bring them back to their former course. By “Tarshish,” that is, Cilicia, he means, sunekdocikw~v by a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole, all the naval intercourse and all the traffic which they carried on with foreign nations. It may also be supposed simply to mean, “The ships of Tarshish, which now proudly despise my Church, shall be subjected to my authority, and shall bring sons to her from distant countries.”

Their silver and gold with them. He again repeats what he had formerly said, that the Gentiles shall yield obedience to God in such a manner as to offer themselves and all that they have. The Popish doctors, as I remarked a little before, display consummate impudence in abusing these proofs for defending that tyrannical and theatrical  F999display by which Roman antichrist, and his attendants, wish to attain fame and distinction. Abounding in luxury, adorning themselves with gold and jewels, and indeed with the attire of a harlot, they are not ashamed of representing the Holy Spirit as the author of this wickedness; so that, whenever gold and silver are mentioned in Scripture, they apply it to their luxury. In. this respect they certainly are very like the Jews, who rise to ecstatic delight at the mention of gold and silver, and hope to wallow in them, when Messiah comes. Thus the Papists think of nothing else than gold and silver, and their understandings are so much dazzled by that empty display that they cannot raise them to heaven. But such stupidity does not need a lengthened refutation.

To the name of Jehovah thy God. The general meaning is, that God intends to elevate his Church to the highest honor, and to adorn her with necessary ornaments. And that believers may not have their minds disturbed by any doubt of so illustrious a promise, or ascribe anything to their own merits, God himself promises that he will be the author of this event, for he will glorify thee. Besides, the Prophet declares that the riches of the Gentiles, which he appeared to represent, a little before, as the prey of the Church or the prize of victory, shall be a sacred offering to God; and thus he states more clearly what I have said, that there is nothing which we ought to desire more earnestly than that the whole world should bow to the authority of God.

10. And the sons of the stranger shall build thy walls. He continues the same subject. As he formerly said that foreigners shall submit to his authority, in order to build the temple; so he now says that “the sons of the stranger” shall bestow their labor in building the walls. Various are the comparisons by which he promises the restoration of the Church. It is customary in Scripture, when the Church is spoken of, to exhibit sometimes the temple, and sometimes Jerusalem. He promises that foreigners and strangers shall assist in rearing this building, that the Jews may not be terrified by their poverty or their small number, and consequently lose heart; for they might be tempted to distrust during the captivity, so that, though they hoped to return to their native country, still they might think that this could not be accomplished by them.

Now, Cyrus accomplished it, when he supplied them with a large amount of gold and silver. But in him these things were merely shadowed out. They were actually fulfilled in Christ, to whose reign they must entirely relate; for, first, Christ employed a few apostles, (<401001>Matthew 10:1) who could not be sufficient for so great a work; but afterwards he raised up strangers, from among whom he chose pastors, and wished that their foreign princes should be nursing‑fathers of the Church.

With aggravated wickedness do the Papists pervert and corrupt this passage, by torturing it to uphold the tyranny of the Pope, whom they wish to possess supreme power over kings and princes. They speak impudent falsehood when they say that he is Christ’s deputy; for Christ’s “kingdom” is not of this world. (<431836>John 18:36) The Pope rules barbarously and tyrannically, and claims the power of changing and disposing of kingdoms. But kings submit to Christ in such a manner that they do not cease to be kings, but exercise all their power for preserving the worship of God and administering righteous government.

Hence we see how much those persons are opposed to the kingdom of Christ who wish to snatch authority and power from kings, that they themselves may possess it. Hence also the Anabaptists may be refuted, who overturn political order so far as to imagine that kings cannot be Christians in any other way than by renouncing their own authority, since even in the royal rank God shows that he wishes to hold the highest place.

For in my wrath I smote thee. Lest any one should object that it would have been easier to preserve the Church uninjured than to raise her from hell, God anticipates the objection, and shows that the Jews were justly afflicted in this manner, because he had been exceedingly provoked by their offenses; but he gives them good ground of hope, because he does not choose to demand the punishment which they had deserved, but will be satisfied, provided that a temporary chastisement shall humble them.

In my kindness have I had compassion on thee. He reminds the Jews what is the cause of this change, that they may not judge of it according to their own apprehension. When kingdoms are changed, and frequently rise and fall, men think that these events happen by chance, and that it is the common lot of the world. The Jews might think the same thing, when, in consequence of the kingdom of the Babylonians having been overturned, they were restored to liberty. For this reason the Lord testifies that all these things are governed by his providence; that is, that they may not shut their eyes after the manner of heathens. It is as if he had said, “If thou inquire why thou hast endured so many afflictions, the reason is this, that I was angry with thee and punished thy transgressions. But if thou ask the cause of thy deliverance, my undeserved kindness, and not thy worthiness, or an accidental occurrence, was the cause.” Accordingly, calamities do not happen by chance, nor is God angry without cause; and he is not angry to such a degree as not to leave room for his compassion. (<350302>Habakkuk 3:2)

11. And thy gates shall be open continually. The ordinary exposition of this verse is incorrect. The Prophet is generally supposed to mean that the Church will be perfectly safe under the Lord’s protection and guardianship; for “open gates” indicate that danger is far off. But I think that the Prophet himself explains it; namely, that the gates shall be open, that riches may be brought into the city from every quarter. And as burdens are usually carried in the daytime, “The day,” he says, “will not be enough, so vast shall be the crowd of those who bring into it precious treasures, and therefore the carrying will be so constant that it will be necessary to keep the gates open night and day.”  F1000

When he says that the riches of the Gentiles shall belong to the Church, let us not view this as referring to carnal luxury, but to obedience, which the whole world shall render to God in the Church; for he says that what is offered to God belongs to the Church, because here God has nothing separate from it.

That their kings may be led. I prefer retaining the participial form which the Prophet employs, instead of following those who change it into a verb. Such commentators corrupt the Prophet’s meaning, who expressly added this, because so great is the haughtiness of kings that they can scarcely endure to be led, but. rather, relying on their power, give free scope to their inclinations, and not only are driven along so as to be the sport of their passions, but., like violent torrents, drag others along with them. He shows, therefore, that these kings, though naturally haughty and ungovernable, shall submit to the authority of God and of the Church.

12. For the nation and kingdom. The Prophet dwells largely on confirming the hearts of believers, that they may not doubt that the restoration shall be such as he has described. Those events were altogether incredible; and we ourselves, though we have obtained abundant confirmation of them from the actual event, (for they have been made manifest to the eyes of all,) yet, unless we are guided by the Spirit of the Lord, could hardly conceive of them in our mind. He shows, therefore, that there is no reason why the Jews should doubt as to the restoration of the temple, because the Gentiles will aid them to the utmost of their power But here Isaiah looks at something higher than the building of the visible temple; for he intends to speak of that obedience which kings and nobles and the common people render to the Church when they promote, as far as they are able, pure doctrine.

Shall perish. He goes still farther, and confirms his statement the more by declaring that “the kingdoms and nations which will not serve the Church shall be destroyed.” And if so dreadful a punishment was pronounced against those who did not aid the Church, what shall we say of the tyrants who rush upon her with furious attack, and labor with all their might to destroy her? If careless and slothful men do not pass unpunished, does not a fearful vengeance await the ungodly, who disturb and overturn the work of the Lord?

The nations, I say, shall be utterly destroyed. What he had said in the singular number he immediately repeats in the plural, in order to show that even the whole world, if it be involved in the same guilt, shall likewise perish; for their multitude will not be able to prevent all who are estranged from God from perishing, and ungodly men will have no excuse for throwing obstacles in each other’s way, or for encouraging each other to impiety and wickedness. Kings and nations are said, as we have already seen, to “serve the Church;” not that she exercises any dominion over them, but because God has committed to her the scepter of his word by which he rules.

13. The glory of Lebanon. Isaiah again employs the metaphor which he formerly used, when he compared the Church of God to a building or a city. He enumerates those things which were necessary for building, such as “the fir‑tree, the pine, and the box‑tree,” which grew in Lebanon, a forest abounding, as we know, in excellent trees.

For the beauty of the place of my holiness. He means that all that is excellent and beautiful in Lebanon shall be carried into the Church. But it must be believed that these figures contain an emblematical reference to the spiritual worship of God; for the Lord adorns his Church with the title of a sanctuary, because he dwells in the midst of it. Yet he always alludes to the temple, so as to accommodate himself to the time and to ordinary custom. Thus he holds out to us the pattern of the temple which stood at Jerusalem, that under the image of it we may contemplate the “spiritual temple,” (<490221>Ephesians 2:21) of which we are the “living stones” and the living substance. (<600205>1 Peter 2:5)

For I will glorify the place of my feet. By “the place of his feet,” he means that he dwells in the temple in such a manner that his majesty is not confined within it, (for he is not limited to so narrow a place; ) and therefore his feet only, what may be called the smallest part, is there, that we may ascend to heaven, and not fix our whole attention on those outward signs by which we are instructed according to our capacity. Thus also in the Psalm,

“Worship the footstool of his feet, for it is holy.”
(<199905>Psalm 99:5)

And again,

“We will worship in the place where his feet stood.”
(<19D207>Psalm 132:7)

Not that God’s essence is divided into parts above and below,  F1001 but because by such means he lifts up his servants, as it were, from the feet to the head.

14. And the sons of them that afflict thee shall come. He continues the same subject, for he shows how splendid will be this work of redemption; that is, that they who persecuted or despised the Church “shall come,” so as to bow down humbly before her, and submit to her with their whole heart. By “the sons of them that afflict her,” he means the persecutors and enemies who oppressed her. This was indeed partly fulfilled, when the Jews returned to their native country; but that return was nothing more than a dark shadow of the deliverance which we have obtained through Christ. These things were actually accomplished under the reign of Christ, yet so that the full accomplishment of them may be expected at; his second coming, as we have already said under a different passage.

Some one will ask, “Is not this honor, of which the Prophet speaks, excessive and greater than ought to be given to the Church? for to bow down and prostrate ourselves are tokens of honor which no human being ought to receive.” I reply, this honor is rendered, not to the members, but to the Head; that is, to Christ, who is worshipped in the Church; and this worship is rendered by those who formerly hated and persecuted him. Now we say that Christ is worshipped in the Church, not as the Papists do, who think that the honor which they bestow on that Roman idol is rendered to Christ.  F1002 They for whose sake these things are said reject and despise doctrine; for Christ is honored by those who obey his doctrine. And this is what the Prophet means, that they who were formerly alienated from it shall heartily submit, so as to obey Christ; for if Christ; has any majesty, it shines forth in the doctrine which he administers by the agency of men.

They shall call thee the city of Jehovah. The Church had formerly been adorned with that title; but it was nearly obliterated when the city was destroyed, the temple thrown down, and the people carried into captivity. Jerusalem was no more, and nothing was to be seen in it but frightful desolation; and therefore he means that it shall be restored in such a manner that all shall acknowledge it to be the city of God.

The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. He next speaks of the temple, that all may know that this high rank is ascribed to Jerusalem on account of the temple; that is, on account of the worship of God which the Lord established there.

15. Instead of  F1003 thy having been forsaken and hated. The Prophet has in his eye that intermediate period which was already at hand; for, soon after his death, the people were deprived of their heritage and led into captivity, so that all thought that there was no remaining hope of their safety. Lest this thought should come into the minds of believers, by which they might be reduced to despair, “We are undone, there can be no remedy for affairs so desperate, and we ought not to hope for a better condition,” he shows that those grievous calamities cannot prevent God from restoring them; for, although for a time, when the Lord chastised them, they appeared to be forsaken, yet it was easy for him to raise them again to prosperity and to a better condition than before.

If any one object that this splendor of the Church was not of long duration, the reply is short. Although the people were afflicted in various ways after their return, and although even the Christian Church did not long retain its glory, yet those things which the Prophet foretold were fulfilled; for under the cross the glory of Christ shines forth, so that the name of God remains, and there is a people that calls upon him by faith. It ought also to be observed, that in consequence of our ingratitude, we do not obtain the fruit of those promises; for we interrupt the course of God’s works, and deprive ourselves of the fruit of them by our malice. Besides, we ought always to keep in remembrance what I have so often said, that the Prophet does not speak of a few years or a short period, but embraces the whole course of redemption, from the end of the captivity to the preaching of the Gospel, and, finally, down to the end of the reign of Christ.

16. And thou shalt suck the milk of the Gentiles. He speaks of the extension of the Church which he had formerly mentioned; but it was of great importance that the same things should be frequently repeated, because it appeared to be incredible that the Church, which had been reduced to calamities so great and so numerous, would be restored and spread throughout the whole world. Her condition was desperate; but at length, out of that slender remnant which had been, as it were, snatched from the burning, to the great astonishment of all she was restored, and her seed was spread far and wide through every part of the world. And therefore it is as if he had said, “Although thou art confined within narrow limits, and thou hast had no intercourse with the Gentiles, yet thou wilt obtain very abundant fruit from them.”

Thou shalt suck the breast of kings.  F1004 By “milk” and “breasts” he means nothing else than service and obedience, which the Gentiles shall render to the Church for supporting her offspring; for, having formerly said that at one birth she would bring forth innumerable children, he now gives them milk for nourishment till they grow up. And he speaks expressly of “kings,” because it was more difficult to be believed. Here, too, in passing, “kings” are reminded of their duty; and if they wish to discharge it in a proper manner, they must be the servants of the Church; otherwise the Lord will call them to account. We see also what David says of them,

“And now, O ye kings, be wise; and ye judges of the earth, be instructed. Serve Jehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (<190210>Psalm 2:10,11)

But we ought carefully to observe in what manner the Church sucks “the milk” and “the breasts” of the Gentiles; for she is not at liberty to exhaust the wealth of the whole world, but to preserve her own condition safe and sound. What is more inconsistent with the nature of a Church than to be an insatiable gulf, and to draw the wealth of all to herself? Those things, therefore, must relate to her spiritual condition, that God may be purely worshipped in her, that the ministry of the word may prosper and flourish, and that some discipline may be maintained, which shall serve as a bridle to restrain all. Yet let believers remember that (<442035>Acts 20:35) “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” and that they ought to bear poverty so patiently as to enrich others abundantly with spiritual benefits.

And thou shalt know that I Jehovah am thy Redeemer. At length he adds that what had been concealed for a time shall be made manifest, that the Jews were not elected in vain, because they shall know by undoubted experience that God takes care of their salvation. It may be asked, Did they not know this even before they were led into captivity? I answer, that captivity was like the thick darkness to which also the Prophet compared it in the beginning of this chapter. Since, therefore, during that harsh tyranny, they could not behold God’s majesty and power, the Lord led them out into open day, not that faith gives way amidst afflictions, but that the feeling of faith is different from that of experience. When we appear to be ruined, faith raises itself above the present condition and the thick darkness in which we are involved; and if God restore us perfectly, then we see it, not by the eyes of faith, but by actual experience. And this is the clear knowledge of which he speaks; as if he had said, “When I shall have acted so kindly towards you, then you shall actually know that I am your Redeemer.”

The mighty one of Jacob. He expressly claims the title of “the mighty one of Jacob,” because he had often shown that he was so; and not only had Jacob experience in various ways of the power of God, but Jacob’s posterity had also known that in the power of God there was abundant protection. He therefore calls himself the “mighty one,” that they may know that God will henceforth be to them what he formerly was to their fathers.

17. For brass I will bring gold. He alludes to the building of the ancient temple, and compares it with the heavenly and spiritual temple; as if he had said, “When you shall be led into captivity, you will deplore the ruin of the temple, but I will cause you to build one far more excellent.” Thus, “for brass I will bring gold, for iron silver, for wood brass, for stones iron;” that is, everything shall be full of magnificence and splendor in that temple which shall come in place of the former.

We know that this prediction was never accomplished ill that external restoration of the people, or during the commencement of it, and even that the temple which was afterwards erected was far inferior to the former. It follows, therefore, that the Prophet, to whom a full redemption was exhibited in spirit, not only relates what shall happen immediately after the return of the people, but discourses concerning the excellence of the spiritual temple; that is, of the Church of Christ. We must, therefore, come down in uninterrupted succession to Christ, if we wish to understand this prophecy. In his reign these things were abundantly fulfilled, and the glory of the former temple was greatly surpassed; for the Lord poured out gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are more excellent than gold, silver, and jewels. We may therefore see the temple now built with precious stones, as was formerly said. (<235411>Isaiah 54:11, 12)

I will make thy magistracy peace.  F1005 Instead of “magistracy” some render the word “tribute.” I have no doubt that the Prophet intended indirectly to compare the wretched bondage of the people under which they were to be kept, with that pre‑eminently high rank which they afterwards obtained. With “peace” and “righteousness” he contrasts the “magistrates” who exercised unjust rule, while they were harassed by the avarice and cruelty of the Babylonians.

And thy exactors righteousness. He now shows that when their “exactors” shall have been exterminated, there will be no “magistracy” but that of “peace” and “righteousness.” “They who shall have power over thee will observe righteousness and peace.” This was more fully accomplished when, through Christ, we were delivered from the tyranny of the devil; for by the Gospel he set up a kingdom of righteousness which he has not yet completed; but we must look for his last coming so as to have our eyes eagerly fixed on it, and, in the meantime, must; be satisfied with those first‑fruits.

18. Oppression shall no longer be heard in thy land. Here he states more clearly what we have already said, namely, that, while the Prophet discourses concerning the prosperous condition of the Church, he indirectly contrasts the miseries and calamities by which they had been afflicted in various ways. He promises, therefore, that they shall never afterwards be subjected to such afflictions. Yet nevertheless various afflictions afterwards befell them. This is undoubtedly true; but the people were never scattered in such a manner as not to have some remaining form of the Church, and thus to enjoy peace, and to feel that they were protected and kept by the hand of God. These words did not contain a promise of exemption from every annoyance and distress; but by comparison they held out this solace for future evils, that God spares his Church, and consequently the Church shall be safe under his protection; and during the very course of the deliverance there was exhibited a striking proof of this peace, which the Prophet extols. Finally, we must always keep in remembrance what we have so often said, that; it is only in part that all these things are experienced by us; for the kingdom of Christ has not yet been completed.

And thy gates Praise. He alludes, as we have often said already, to the building of the temple or the city, and shows that the Church shall be safe, not by means of walls, or towers, or any enclosures, but that, although there are no earthly defenses, there shall be abundance of safety and peaceful joy in God alone. Now he connects the safety of the Church with “peace” or “joy; “ because she rejoices at being safe and sound, whereas formerly she lay silently in affliction and despair.

19. and 20. And thou shalt no longer have the sun for the light of days. He teaches that the prosperity of the Church shall not be temporary, but permanent; for he distinguishes it from the ordinary condition of men, among whom there is nothing steadfast or permanent; because there is nothing under the sun, however well regulated, that is not subject to various changes. But we ought not to judge of the Church from the dangers of the present life; for she is preserved in the midst of the billows; as if he had said, “Do not judge of thy safety from the present appearance of things, but know that it is laid up in God. God will be thy sun, so that thou hast no need of borrowing light from the sun or the moon. Do not, therefore, dread any change or revolution of affairs; for thou shalt have a perpetual and unchangeable light.”

By these words the Prophet does not mean that the children of God shall be deprived of the ordinary advantages of life; for, since the Lord. bestows them indiscriminately on all men, he certainly has appointed them also for his children, for whose sake, indeed, God created all things, since he exercises a peculiar care over them. But the Prophet intended to express a still greater blessing, which the children of God alone enjoy, namely, the heavenly Light, which ungodly men hate, and therefore cannot receive; for, although they enjoy the sun and other blessings, yet their happiness cannot be firm and enduring; because, being void of taste, they do not relish that which was of the greatest importance, that they have God for their Father.

Thus he distinguishes the condition of the Church and of believers from the ordinary lot of men, that we may not judge of it from the revolution and change of events, and next that we may know that, amidst the thickest darkness, the fatherly kindness of God shines on believers, in order to cheer them. And, indeed, although all the elements either cease to discharge their duty, or threaten us with a melancholy aspect, yet it ought to be enough that God is reconciled to us. By a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, he includes, under the terms “Sun” and “Moon,” the whole condition of man, which is continually undergoing change.

21. Thy people also are all righteous. Here he shows what is the true establishment of the Church; namely, when she is purged of the ungodly, and none but righteous men have a place in her. Yet we know that, in the Church, hypocrites have always been mingled with the true children of God. We have said that this is a description of the whole reign of Christ, not such as it shall be at any one moment, but in its perfection. Christ began to do this at his coming, when he purged the Church. Hence also he calls the Church “a sieve,” (<400312>Matthew 3:12) because by means of it the chaff is separated from the wheat; but he goes on from day to day in purifying it, and will go on till the day of harvest. Yet there must be much rubbish mixed with the wheat, which shall at length be removed on that day. Besides, there is an implied contrast between this people and that irreligious and unholy multitude which, by its defilement, had polluted the sanctuary of God. The use of the plural number appears to denote an assemblage of nations, when he says that all the peoples shall be righteous.

They shall inherit the land for ever. I have no doubt that, in these words, the Prophet had his eye on Judea, and indirectly contrasted the time of restoration with the time of the captivity which was immediately at hand; as if he had said, “Though I drive out my people from their inheritance, yet after seventy years I will restore them, that they may possess it for ever.” Besides, it ought to be observed that, when he limits to the “righteous” that promise which related to the people of Zion, there is implied a sort of correction, in order to exclude hypocrites, who falsely and unwarrantably are wont to appropriate to themselves what is said about the true children of God.

This sentiment, therefore, agrees with these words, “How good is God to Israel, to those who are of an upright heart!” in which the Psalmist claims the name of “Israel,” which all without exception had in their mouth, as belonging to none but God’s sincere worshippers. (<197301>Psalm 73:1) Such is the import, in this passage, of the phrase, “Thy people,” that is, the remaining portion which shall have been purged from its defilement. This was not, in every respect, fulfilled in the Jews; but a beginning was made with them, when they were restored to their native country, that, by their agency, the possession of the whole earth might afterwards be given to them, that is, to the children of God. For as he formerly spoke of the restoration of the temple, which was not complete at Jerusalem, but must be extended throughout the whole world, so the possession of this land must not be limited to Judea, since it is more extensive, and all men are called to it, that by faith they may be children of Abraham, and may thus become heirs of it. (<480428>Galatians 4:28)

We must therefore observe carefully those modes of expression which are customary among the prophets, that we, nay understand their meaning, and not break off sentences, or torture them to meanings different from what was intended. Exceedingly unnatural and inconsistent with the style of the prophets is the interpretation of those who explain “the land” to mean heaven and the blessed life; for the land of Canaan was given to the children of God with this intention, that, being separated from the whole world, and having become God’s heritage, they might worship him there in a right manner; and consequently, to dwell in the land by right of inheritance means nothing else than to remain in the family of God.

The branch of his planting. When God declares that a new “branch,” which shall come forth, shall be the work of his hands, this tends to confirm the hope;  F1006 for it was impossible, to human view, that the Church should spring up again, which all perceived to be dead, especially while the root was hidden. Thus, in order that it may spring up, he says that God will be like a husbandman, who plants anew that which had been torn up and was withered. In a word, he declares that it will be a wonderful work of God, and not of men, that the Church shall be rescued from a wretched and harsh captivity; for she shall be raised up as from the dead. And indeed all that relates to the heavenly life was neither produced in us by nature nor obtained by our own strength, but flows and proceeds from God alone. What is here said universally concerning the whole body every person ought to apply to himself in particular; for we are God’s “planting” before the world was made, (<490104>Ephesians 1:4,) and were afterwards ingrafted into Christ, and called, that we might have the testimony of our election and planting. Wicked men are not God’s planting; and therefore Christ declares that “they whom his heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.” (<401513>Matthew 15:13)

That I may be glorified. At length he adds the end of the “planting,” that we may celebrate the perfections of God, (<600209>1 Peter 2:9) and may show forth his glory, as Paul beautifully explains. (<490112>Ephesians 1:12)

22. A little one shall become a thousand. He again confirms what he formerly said, that, although they were few in number, yet the Church of God would be populous. When the Prophet foretold these things, there was still a vast multitude of people; but afterwards it was so greatly diminished that not more than a feeble remnant was left, as we have formerly seen. (<230109>Isaiah 1:9; 10:22) he declares that the small number shall be so much enlarged, that it shall afterwards be a vast body of people, and shall possess great strength. Let us consider that what was said to the Jews is now said also to us; that is, though we are few in number and inconsiderable, and appear to be very near destruction, still the Church cannot perish, but will be enlarged and multiplied till it become very numerous; for it is God’s planting, and therefore we must not judge of it from the multitude or strength of men.

I Jehovah. He now shows the reason why he said all those things which we have formerly seen; namely, that we may not suppose him to be like men, whose labors and efforts quickly pass away. Although they wish to change the condition of any kingdom or of the world, they will accomplish nothing; but the Lord changes everything in an instant. He does not speak, therefore, of an ordinary government, but of a wonderful work by which the Lord delivers and multiplies his Church.

Will hasten it in her time. He says that “he will hasten this,” so as to complete it. But he employs a little word which deserves notice as to the time of the Church; for the relative is in the feminine gender, and is improperly interpreted by some as relating to God.  F1007 The Prophet means that there is a fixed time when the Church shall be delivered; and in this way he exhorts believers to patience, that they may not plunge headlong, but depend on God’s eternal purpose, who knows how to arrange every moment in an appropriate manner.

First, then, he describes the seasonableness and the time when it is advantageous that. the Church shall be delivered. We do not indeed perceive this, for we would wish to obtain instantly God’s promises, and are impatient of delay; but the Lord delays for our benefit, and because the time is not yet come. Next, he speaks of haste; for the Lord appears to us to be idle and inactive, when he prolongs the time; although he hastens to accomplish everything at the proper season, which he knows.


CHAPTER 61.

Go To Isaiah 61:1-11

1. The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah. As Christ explains this passage with reference to himself, (<420418>Luke 4:18) so commentators limit it to him without hesitation, and lay down this principle, that Christ is introduced as speaking, as if the whole passage related to him alone. The Jews laugh at this, as an ill‑advised application to Christ of that which is equally applicable to other prophets. My opinion is, that this chapter is added as a seal to the former, to confirm what had hitherto been said about restoring the Church of Christ; and that for this purpose Christ testifies that he has been anointed by God, in consequence of which he justly applies this prophecy to himself; for he has exhibited clearly and openly what others have laid down ill an obscure manner.

But this is not inconsistent with the application of this statement to other prophets, whom the Lord has anointed; for they did not speak in their own name as individuals, or claim this authority for themselves, but were chiefly employed in pointing out the office of Christ, to whom belongs not only the publication of these things, but likewise the accomplishment of them. This chapter ought, therefore, to be understood in such a sense, that Christ, who is the Head of the prophets, holds the chief place, and alone makes all those revelations; but that Isaiah, and the other prophets, and the apostles, contribute their services to Christ, and each performs his part in making known Christ’s benefits. And thus we see that those things which Isaiah said would be accomplished by Christ, have now been actually accomplished.

On that account Jehovah hath anointed me. This second clause is added in the room of exposition; for the first would have been somewhat obscure, if he had said nothing as to the purpose for which he was endued with the Spirit of God; but now it is made far more clear by pointing out the use, when he declares that. he discharges a public office, that he may not be regarded as a private individual. Whenever Scripture mentions the Spirit, and says that he “dwelleth in us,” (<450811>Romans 8:11; <460316>1 Corinthians 3:16) let us not look upon it as something empty or unmeaning, but let us contemplate his power and efficacy. Thus, after having spoken of the Spirit of God, the Prophet next mentions the “anointing,” by which he means the faculties which flow from him, as Paul teaches that the gifts are indeed various, but the Spirit is one. (<461204>1 Corinthians 12:4)

This passage ought to be carefully observed, for no man can claim right or authority to teach unless he show that he has been prompted to it by the Spirit of God, as Paul also affirms that “no man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (<461203>1 Corinthians 12:3) But, it will be said, we see that almost all men boast of having the Spirit of God; for the Pope, and the Anabaptists, and other heretics and fanatics, have his name continually in their mouth, as if they were governed by him. How, then, shall we judge that any man has been sent by God, and is guided by his Spirit? By “anointing; “ that is, if he is endued with the gifts which are necessary for that orate. If therefore, having been appointed by the Lord, he abound in the graces of the Spirit and the ability which the calling demands, he actually has the Spirit. And if he wish to make profession of enjoying that teacher, and if he have no doctrine,  F1008 let him be held as an impostor.

He hath sent me to preach. The Prophet does not claim for himself right and authority to teach, before he has shown that the Lord “hath sent him” The authority is founded on his having been “anointed,” that is, furnished by God with necessary gifts. We ought not to hear him, therefore, as a private individual, but as a public minister who has come from heaven.

To the afflicted. Some render it, “To the meek; “ and both ideas are conveyed by the word ywn[ (gnanavim). But I preferred to adhere to the former signification, because the Prophet is speaking of captives and prisoners. Yet I think that he includes both; for he means those who, while they are altogether forsaken and abandoned, are also wretched in themselves. Christ is promised to none but those who have been humbled and overwhelmed by a conviction of their distresses, who have no lofty pretensions, but keep themselves in humility and modesty. And hence we infer that Isaiah speaks literally of the Gospel; for the Law was given for the purpose of abasing proud hearts which swelled with vain confidence, but the Gospel is intended for “the afflicted,” that is, for those who know that they are destitute of everything good, that they may gather courage and support. For what purpose were prophets, and apostles, and other ministers, anointed and sent, but to cheer and comfort the afflicted by the doctrine of grace?

To bind up the broken in heart. Numerous are the metaphors which the Prophet employs for explaining more clearly the same thing. By “binding up,” he means nothing else than “healing,” but now he expresses something more than in the preceding clause; for he shows that. the preaching of the word is not an empty sound, but a powerful medicine, the effect of which is felt, not by obdurate and hard‑hearted men, but by wounded consciences.

To proclaim liberty to the captives. This also is the end of the Gospel, that they who are captives may be set at liberty. We are prisoners and captives, therefore, till we are set free (<430836>John 8:36) through the grace of Christ; and when Christ wishes to break asunder our chains, let us not refuse the grace that is offered to us. It ought to be observed in general, that the blessings which are here enumerated are bestowed upon us by heavenly doctrine, and that none are fit for the enjoyment of them but those who, conscious of their poverty, eagerly desire the assistance of Christ, as he himself says,

“Come to me all ye that labor and are heavy laden,
and I will relieve you.” (<401128>Matthew 11:28)

2. To proclaim the year of the good-pleasure of Jehovah. Here he expressly mentions the time of bestowing such distinguished grace, in order to remove the doubts which might arise. We know by daily experience how numerous and diversified are the anxious cares which distract the heart,. He affirms that he is the herald of future grace, the time of which he fixes from the “good‑pleasure” of God; for, as he was to be the Redeemer of the Church by free grace, so it was in his power, and justly, to select the time.

Perhaps he alludes to the Jubilee, (<032510>Leviticus 25:10) but undoubtedly he affirms that we must wait calmly and gently till it please God to stretch out his hand. Paul calls this year “the time of fullness.” (<480404>Galatians 4:4) We have likewise seen that the Prophet says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (<234908>Isaiah 49:8) Paul applies this to his own preaching; for, while the Lord addresses us by the Gospel, the door of heaven is thrown open to us, that we may now, as it were, enter into the possession of God’s benefits. (<470602>2 Corinthians 6:2) We must not delay, therefore, but must eagerly avail ourselves of the time and the occasion when such distinguished blessings are offered to us.

And the day of vengeance to our God. But those expressions appear to be inconsistent with each other, namely, “The day of good‑pleasure,” and “The day of vengeance.” Why did Isaiah join together things so opposite? Because God cannot deliver his Church without showing that he is a just judge, and without taking vengeance on the wicked. He therefore employs the term “good‑pleasure,” with reference to the elect, and the term “day of vengeance,” with reference to the wicked, who cease not to persecute the Church, and consequently must be punished when the Church is delivered. In like manner Paul also says, that “It is righteous with God to grant relief to the afflicted, (<530106>2 Thessalonians 1:6) and to reward the enemies of believers who unjustly afflict them;” and the Jews could not expect a termination of their distresses till their enemies had been destroyed.

Yet we ought to observe the cause of our deliverance; for to his mercy alone, and not to our merits, or excellence, or industry, must it be ascribed, he appears, indeed, as I briefly remarked a little before, to allude to the Jubilee; but above all things we should attend to this, that our salvation lies entirely in the gracious will of God.

To comfort all that mourn. We ought to keep in remembrance what we formerly remarked, that the end of the Gospel is, that we may be rescued from all evils, and that, having been restored to our former freedom, and all tears having been wiped from our eyes, we may partake of spiritual joy. And if we are not partakers of so great a benefit, it must be ascribed to our unbelief and ingratitude, by which we refuse and drive away God, who freely offers himself to us.

3. To appoint to the mourners in Zion. He proceeds with the same subject; for he means that the punishment which was to be inflicted on the people shall be such as still to leave room for forgiveness. And, in order more fully to convince them of it, he says that the Lord has charged him with this office, that he may proclaim this deliverance; and not to himself only, but also to others, till the chief messenger arrive, namely, Christ, who actually bestows and exhibits what God at that time commanded to be made known for a future period. Yet he means that the “mourning” shall not hinder God from giving ground of joy, when he shall think proper; for “to appoint” has the same meaning as “to fix the time,” that the tediousness of delay may not discourage them.

That I may give to them beauty for ashes. By the word, give he speaks with commendation of the efficacy of the prediction, that they may be fully convinced of the event. The allusion is to the ancient customs of the Jews, who, when any calamity pressed hard upon them, sprinkled ashes on their heads, and wore sackcloth. (<170403>Esther 4:3) By these he denotes the filth and mourning which necessarily attend the wretched condition of the people, and contrasts them with the joy and gladness which they shall have when they are restored to liberty. I think that we ought not to pass by the allusion contained in the words rap (peer) and rpa (epher;) for, by the mere transposition of letters, he intended to denote very different things, and, by an elegant inversion, a change of condition.

Trees of righteousness. By these words he points out the restoration of the people; as if he had said, “Whereas they had formerly been rooted out and resembled a dry stock, they shall be planted and settled.” Thus he reminds them that they ought to contemplate the divine power, so that, though they are slain and dead, still they may confidently hope that they shall be restored so as to take root and to receive strength and increase. From this ought to be drawn a universal doctrine, namely, that there is no other way in which we are restored to life than when we are planted by the Lord. We are indeed called his “planting,” because he elected us from the beginning. (<490104>Ephesians 1:4) But there is also another kind of “planting” which follows the former, namely, the Calling, by which we are ingrafted through faith into Christ’s body. The Lord does this by the agency and ministry of the Gospel; but it must be wholly ascribed to him, for “it is he alone that giveth the increase.” (<460307>1 Corinthians 3:7) We must always bear in mind the emblematical meaning of the first deliverance as illustrating the spiritual kingdom of Christ,.

He gives the appellation of “trees of righteousness” to those in whom the justice of God or good order shines forth. Yet let us know that the Lord adopts us on this condition, that we shall become new creatures, and that true righteousness shall reign in us. And hence it follows that we are by nature depraved and corrupted, and cannot yield fruit in any other way than by being changed and planted by the Lord. This sets aside the vain and haughty opinion of the Papists, who, by contriving either preparations or the aids of free will, claim what belongs to God alone; for if we are planted by the Lord, it follows that we are by nature dry and unfruitful.

To glorify him. This is the design of our “planting; “ but we have already spoken of these things in expounding the twenty-first verse of the preceding chapter.

4. And they shall build the deserts of the age. He goes on to describe more largely that restoration of the Church; and chiefly with this view, that the Jews may entertain confident hope of deliverance, because those promises appeared to be altogether incredible. And this is the reason why he adorns with extensive and magnificent terms that benefit of redemption. It is a mistake to suppose that these words, “the age” and “many ages, relate to a future period; as if he had said that the building of which he speaks shall be firm and permanent. The Prophet’s meaning was widely different; for he shows (as I have explained at another passage) that the long‑continued ruins of the city shall not prevent it from rising anew. When the inhabitants of any city, scattered in all directions, have been absent for a very long time, there can be no hope of rebuilding it; just as no person in the present day takes any concern about rebuilding Athens. Thus, when the Jews had been banished into a distant country, and Jerusalem had been forsaken for seventy years, who would have hoped that it would be built by the citizens themselves?

For this reason Isaiah employs the designations of “deserts of the age, ancient wildernesses, cities of desolation, wildernesses of many ages,” in order to show that all this cannot prevent the Lord from restoring the city to be inhabited by his elect at the proper time. Yet these statements ought also to be accommodated to our time, so that, although the Lord permits his Church, when it has fallen down, to lie long in ruins, and though there is no remaining hope of rebuilding it, yet we may strengthen our heart by these promises; for it is God’s peculiar office to raise up and renew what had formerly been destroyed, and devoted as it were to eternal rottenness. But we have formerly treated of these matters at the fifty‑eighth chapter.

5. And strangers shall stand. He means that foreigners and strangers shall be ready to yield obedience to them; for, in consequence of their being at that time separated from the rest of the nations, none was willing to assist them, and therefore he says that “strangers stand; “ that is, are ready to meet and assist them. As to what follows, about “feeding sheep” and “cultivating fields and vines,” these are metaphorical expressions; for the Prophet treats of the kingdom of Christ, which is spiritual, but by means of these figures describes its perfect happiness, that we may understand it better from examples drawn from those things which are known to us. Let us therefore understand that we shall be truly happy when Christ shall exercise his dominion over us; for in this way shall we likewise obtain, beyond expectation, many advantages of which the children of Adam are justly deprived.

6. But ye shall be called the priests of Jehovah. This verse sheds somewhat more light on the preceding; for in the second part of it the Prophet foretells that believers shall enjoy the riches of the Gentiles, and shall be raised to glory as their successors. The Jews, indeed, seize eagerly on such declarations, and already devour by covetousness the wealth of all the nations, as if they would one day possess it, and vaunt as if the glory of the whole world would become their own.

But there are chiefly two things that ought to be observed in these words, that we may more fully understand them. First, the prophets, when they wish to describe the glory and happiness of the Kingdom of Christ, borrow comparisons from human affairs. Secondly, when they speak of the Church, they connect the Head with the members in such a manner that sometimes they look more at the Head than at the members. We must not understand the enjoyment of the wealth of others to mean that they who are converted to Christ shall seize on the wealth, or glory, or rank of others, which is most inconsistent with true religion; but because all things shall be brought under the dominion of Christ, so that he alone shall hold authority and rule. And that is what I have already said, that he looks both at the members and the Head. But when they come into the power of Christ, they are called ours, because Christ possesses nothing separate from his Church.

In the same manner it is said elsewhere, (<234514>Isaiah 45:14) that the enemies of Christ “shall kiss his feet and supplicate pardon,” although this is done in the Church, in which they acknowledge Christ and yield to his doctrine. Thus Isaiah shows what the Father will give to the Son, who has lawful authority over the whole world, (<402818>Matthew 28:18) and to whom

“all things must be made subject.” (<580208>Hebrews 2:8)

Yet we must not omit what I mentioned a little before, that God gives large and kind support to his elect in the world, in order that they may feel that their condition is far better than that of unbelievers; for, though they are in want of many things, yet, being content with a little, they cheerfully give thanks to God, so that their hunger is better than all the abundance of unbelievers.

Priests of Jehovah. By this term he shows that the condition of the people shall be far more excellent than formerly; as if he had said, “Hitherto the Lord had chosen you to be his heritage; but he will adorn you with gifts much more excellent, for he will elevate you to the honor of the priesthood.” Although the whole people was “a kingdom of priests,” (<021906>Exodus 19:6; <053310>Deuteronomy 33:10) yet we know that the tribe of Levi only discharged this office; but the Prophet declares that in future it shall be common to all. This was not manifested but under the reign of Christ. The restoration of the Church, indeed, began at the time when the people returned from Babylon; but at the coming of Christ believers were at length adorned and honored by this dignity; for all the saints have been consecrated to Christ, and discharge that office. To this belong the words of Peter,

“Ye are a holy nation, a royal priesthood.” (<600209>1 Peter 2:9)

What is the nature of this kind of priesthood ought to be carefully observed; for we must no longer offer to God earthly sacrifices,  F1009 but men must be offered and slain in obedience to Christ, as Paul declares that he slew the Gentiles by the sword of the Gospel, that thenceforth they might obey the Lord.  F1010 (<451516>Romans 15:16)

Hence infer how childish is the folly of the Papists, who abuse this passage to prove their priesthood; for the Pope and his lackeys ordain priests to sacrifice Christ, not to teach the people. But Christ offered himself “by eternal redemption,” (<580912>Hebrews 9:12) and he alone has once exercised this priesthood, and commands that the priest of the sacrifice shall be offered to us by the doctrine of the Gospel. Those persons, therefore, who usurp this office, and wish to repeat what he has completed, are guilty of sacrilege.

But every person ought to offer himself, (<451201>Romans 12:1) and all that he has, in sacrifice to God, that he may exercise this lawful priesthood; and next, ministers, who have been specially called to this office of teaching, ought to make use of the sword of the word to slay men and consecrate them to God. Lastly, those are lawful ministers who do not of themselves attempt or undertake anything, but faithfully and diligently execute the commands which they have received from God.

7. Instead of your shame. He confirms the former statement, in which he said that believers who, clothed with sackcloth and covered with ashes, mourned, shall be sprinkled with the oil of gladness. This change of mourning into joy is again promised.

There shall be a double reward. Some interpret the word double as meaning that they who have been redeemed by God shall be happy both before God and before men. But I do not know that there are solid grounds for that interpretation. I choose rather to adopt a more simple view; as if the Prophet had said, “The prosperity of the Church shall be so great as togo far beyond all the calamities and afflictions by which she is now oppressed.” If, therefore, she is now weary of her condition, she ought to look to that day when she shall be most happy, as Paul contrasts “an eternal weight of glory” with “the momentary lightness of afflictions.” (<470417>2 Corinthians 4:17)

And instead of disgrace they shall rejoice in their portion. Wicked men vaunt over us and indulge in wantonness, because they think that they have the superiority; but the Lord promises that ere long he will cause good men, rescued from their tyranny, to obtain their portion. This began to be done, indeed, when the people returned from captivity; but a clearer proof has been exhibited in Christ, and is exhibited every day, and will at length be completed at his last coming, when all things shall be fully renewed, and the wicked shall be thrown down, that we may obtain the inheritance of the world. This is the reason why he says, by way of acknowledgment, that the earth is the portion of those wicked men; for they now boast that they are the lords of the world, but they shall at length feel that it belongs peculiarly and specially to the children of God.

And they shall have everlasting joy. This may relate to the outward condition of the Church; ibr he daily supplies his people with ground of thanksgiving; but as they must also devour many griefs, and are surrounded by manifold sorrow, this prediction is not fulfilled but when joy of spirit reigns and holds the pre-eminence in our hearts, accompanied by that “peace which (as Paul says) surpasses all understanding,” (<500407>Philippians 4:7,) which the children of God alone enjoy when they have the testimony of adoption, He calls it everlasting, in order to shew how greatly it differs from the joy of wicked men, which is momentary and quickly passes away, and is even changed into “gnashing of teeth.” (<400812>Matthew 8:12.)

8. For I Jehovah love judgment. He not only confirms what he promised in the name of the Lord, but likewise exhorts the Jews to repent, and shews whence they ought to expect salvation, and what and how great is the Judge with whom we have to do; for lie reasons from the nature of God in what manner they ought to regulate their life, that they may not by their wickedness reject the grace that is offered to them.

Under the word judgment he includes all that is just and equitable; for he contrasts this word with the useless inventions of the Jews, by which they thought that they satisfied God, and at the same time concealed their malice. The Lord cares not, as we have often seen, for such masks and vain pretences, but demands true cleanness of heart and hands pure from all unrighteousness. He who wishes to obtain the approbation of God for himself and for all that he does must have an upright heart and an unblemished life.

And hate robbery in the burnt-offering. By a single part he figuratively denotes all hypocritical worship of God; and under “burnt-offering” is included every kind of sacrifice. Nothing is more abominable than when men, from cheating and robbery, sacrifice to God, or when they mingle their lies, hypocrisy, and impurity of heart, with their sacrifices, or corrupt the worship of God by basely defrauding him. This vice abounds not only in a single age, but at all times; for all men pretend to worship God, and even the wicked are ashamed of not having an appearance of religion, the impression of a Divine Ruler being so deeply engraven on the hearts of all that it cannot be erased. Yet the greater park of men sport with God, and endeavor to satisfy him by childish trifles.

Isaiah therefore condemns and abhors this hypocrisy, and teaches that the Lord demands from us “mercy rather than sacrifice.” (<280606>Hosea 6:6; <400913>Matthew 9:13; 12:7.) We cannot worship God in a right manner, if we do not observe the Second Table, and abstain from all dishonesty and violence; for he who defrauds or injures his neighbors does violence also to God. In a word, the design of the Prophet is to teach what is the true character of repentance; namely, when, laying aside hypocrisy, and dismissing all inventions, the worshippers of God cherish natural kindness to one another.

And I will establish their work in truth. Some explain it to mean the “reward.” of work. But I rather think that it denotes all the undertakings of life, to which the Lord promises a prosperous issue. The undertakings of men succeed very ill; because they do not choose to ask counsel of God, or attempt anything under his guidance. Thus they are justly punished for their rashness; because they trust in their own counsels, or depend on a blind stroke of fortune, in which there is no reality whatever, but only a deceitful shadow. But that they who are guided by the Spirit of God, and who commit themselves wholly to his protection, should succeed prosperously and to their wish, is not at all wonderful; for all prosperity flows from his blessing alone.

By the word truth is meant a uniform course; for even unbelievers are often puffed up with transitory joy, but it speedily vanishes away.

And will make an everlasting covenant with them. In the conclusion of the verse he assigns the cause of the stability. It is because God is pleased not once only to stretch out his hand to them, but to be the continual guide of the journey. And the true support of our perseverance is, that he deigns to enter into an everlasting covenant with us, in which he voluntarily makes himself our debtor, and freely bestows upon us all things, though he owes us nothing whatever.

9. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles. Here the Prophet treats more clearly of the extension of the Church, which at that time might be said to be confined within a narrow corner of the earth, and afterwards, as we have already seen, was exceedingly diminished and impaired. (<230109>Isaiah 1:9; 10:22.) Isaiah therefore discourses concerning the Church, which, after having suffered so great a diminution, would be spread throughout the whole world, so as to be visible to all the nations. And yet this did not happen even in the reign of Solomon, when the Jews flourished most in wealth and splendor. (<111021>1 Kings 10:21, 27.) Now this appeared to be altogether incredible; and that is the reason why the prophets take such pains to convince men of it, and repeat it very frequently, that the Jews may not measure this restoration by their own understanding or by the present appearance of things.

A question now arises, When did these things happen? I reply (as I have often done before) that they began when the people returned to their native country; for at that time, and in uninterrupted succession, they experienced the manifold kindness of God towards them. But as nothing more than feeble sparks appeared, the full brightness shone forth in Christ, in whose reign those things are entirely accomplished; for where there was the utmost barrenness of godliness, the offspring of Abraham sprouted, because foreigners were ingrafted by faith into the elect people. Thus foreign and barbarous nations acknowledged that the Jews were the blessed seed of God, (<012218>Genesis 22:18,) when they united with them in the same confession of faith; nor was this fulfilled but once only, but is in course of being fulfilled every day.

As to the Jews going before, and holding the first rank in God’s covenant, this ought to be ascribed to the mercy of God, and not to their own excellence, as Paul (<450302>Romans 3:2) teaches; for, after having shown that by nature they differ nothing at all from the Gentiles, and after having subjected them to the same condemnation, he likewise teaches that they hold this privilege of pre-eminence, because they were the very first that received the word of God and the promises. But this proceeded from God’s undeserved kindness, and not from their merits or excellence.

10. Rejoicing I shall rejoice in Jehovah. He represents the Church as giving thanks to God, in order to convince them more fully of the truth of what he formerly said. It may be regarded as (uJpotu>twsiv) a lively description, by which the thing is, as it were, painted and laid before the eyes of men, so as to remove all doubt; for by nature we are prone to distrust, and so fickle, that we place confidence rather in the inventions of men than in the word of God. As to this form of confirmation, we have spoken at chapter 12:1; 26:1, and at other passages.

For he hath clothed me. These things were still, indeed, at a great distance, but must have been seen and understood by the eyes of faith; as the eyes should undoubtedly be raised to heaven, when the Prophet discourses concerning salvation and righteousness. Nothing is visible here, and much less could so great happiness have been perceived by the senses, while everything tended to destruction. But because even now we do not see any such beauty of the Church, which is even contemptible in the eyes of the world under the revolting dress of the cross, we need faith, which comprehends heavenly and invisible things.

With the garments of salvation. He connects “righteousness” with “salvation,” because the one cannot be separated from the other. “Garments” and “mantles” are well-known metaphors. It is as if he had said, that righteousness and salvation had been bestowed upon them. Since the Lord bestows these benefits, it follows that from him alone we should seek and expect them.

He hath adorned me. The metaphor is supposed to be drawn from priestly ornament; and accordingly there are some who speculate here about the priesthood of Christ. But I do not think that the Prophet spoke so ingeniously; for he brings forward the comparison of the bridegroom and the bride F1011 Formerly the Church lay in filth and rags, and was universally despised, as a forsaken woman; but now, having been received into favor with her husband, she shines with amazing lustre. A parallel passage occurs in <280220>Hosea 2:20. This was accomplished at the coming of Christ; but it is also bestowed upon us daily, when the Lord adorns his people with righteousness and salvation. But all these things, as we have often said already, shall be accomplished at Christ’s last coming.

11. For as the earth putteth forth. By a beautiful comparison the Prophet confirms the former promises; for he reminds the Jews of the ordinary power of God, which shines brightly in the creatures themselves. The earth every year puts forth her bud, the gardens grow green after the sowing time, and, in short, herbs and plants, which appear to be dead during the winter, revive in the spring and resume their vigor. Now these are proofs and very clear illustrations of the divine power and kindness toward us; and since it is so, ought men to doubt of it? Will not he who gave this power and strength to the earth display it still more in delivering his people? And will he not cause to bud the elect seed, of which he promised that it should remain in the world for ever?

Before all the nations. He again shews that the boundaries of the Church shall no longer be as narrow as they formerly were, for the Lord will cause her to fill the whole world.

Will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth, He mentions “righteousness,” which was fully displayed when the Lord redeemed his people; but the righteousness of God was chiefly seen, when Christ was manifested to the world; not that God kept his righteousness concealed till that time, but that men did not know it. It is, as if he had said, “God will deliver and restore his people in such a manner that all shall acknowledge him to be righteous.” For redemption is a striking proof of the justice of God.

He next mentions praise; because such a benefit ought to be accompanied by thanksgiving. The end of “righteousness” is, that glory may be given to God; and therefore he exhorts us to gratitude; for it is exceedingly base to be dumb after having received God’s benefits.


CHAPTER 62.

Go To Isaiah 62:1-12

1. On account of Zion I will not be silent. That sad captivity being at hand, which was almost to blot out the name of the whole nation, it was necessary to confirm and encourage believers by many words, that with strong and assured confidence they might rely on these promises under the burden of the cross. Here, therefore, the Prophet, discharging that office which had been entrusted to him, openly declares that he will not be slack in the performance of his duty, and will not cease to speak, till he encourage the hearts of believers by the hope of future salvation, that they may know and be fully convinced that God will be the deliverer of his Church. He too might have been dismayed by the unbelief of that people, and might have lost courage when he saw that matters were every day growing worse, and when he foresaw that terrible vengeance. But, notwithstanding so great difficulties, he will still persist in his duty, that all may know that neither the massacre of the people nor their unbelief can prevent God from executing his promises at the proper time.

And on account of Jerusalem I will not rest. It was necessary that these things should be frequently repeated, because such is the depravity of our mind that we speedily forget God’s promises. When he says that he will not cease to speak,he likewise reminds others of their duty, that they may take courage, and expect with assured confidence their restoration, though it be long delayed, and even that their unwearied attention may answer to the voice of God which constantly addresses them. We know by experience every day how necessary this is, while Satan endeavors by every method to turn us aside from the right course.

At the same time he shews what ought to be the aim of godly teachers, namely, to spend and devote themselves entirely for the advantage of the Church; for when he says “on account of Zion,” he means that our chief care ought to be that the Church may be preserved, and that none are good and faithful teachers but they who hold the salvation of the Church so dear as to spare no labors. Some explain this as relating to prayer, but I choose rather to refer it to doctrine; and it is more natural to view it as meaning’ that no inconvenience or annoyance shall wear out his patience, and no opposition shall retard him from proceeding in the office of teaching which God has enjoined on him concerning the redemption of the Church. For if he had survived that very sad calamity, the unbelieving multitude would undoubtedly have persecuted him, as well as the other Prophets, by many reproaches; but whatever may happen, he says that he is fortified by unshaken firmness, never to be dumb through shame, but to proceed with unremitting eagerness in his course. Besides, by this form of expression he procures credit to his predictions, and maintains their authority, so that, even when he is dead, they do not cease to resound in the ears of believers.

Till her righteousness go forth as brightness. By “righteousness” he means the rights of the Church; for during the period of calamity, she appeared to be condemned. Her “righteousness,” therefore, “goes forth” when she is perfectly restored, and regains her former condition; for that righteousness lay concealed during the captivity.

And her salvation. To “righteousness” he adds “salvation,” because they whom God justifies, or to whom he re-restores their rights, do likewise regain their “salvation.” Hence we infer that we are wretched and without assistance, so long as God withholds his grace from us on account of our sins; and therefore in other passages he frequently gave the appellation of “the righteousness of God” to that which he here affirms to be the righteousness of the Church. Thus we are undone while we are destitute of the righteousness of God; that is, while we slumber in our sins, and God shews himself to be a severe judge by punishing us for them.

The phrase “go forth” means that the righteousness of the Church was hidden and, as it were, buried for a time: she deserved in the sight of God no favor; but, on the contrary, her unspeakable iniquities prevailed to such an extent that there remained nothing but God’s righteous vengeance. But here the Prophet has his eye on men who already looked upon the afflicted Church as lost, and by their pride and reproaches almost cast her down to hell.

May burn like a lamp. Finally, he compares her to the world, and says, that with respect to the world she shall be righteous, when God shall have purged away her sins and undertaken her cause. By these words the Prophet teaches that we ought always to entertain favorable hopes of the restoration of the Church, though she be plunged under thick darkness and in the grave; for although for a time she is overwhelmed and hidden, yet she has God for her avenger in heaven, who, after having chastised her moderately, will at length shew that she was the object of his care. And indeed his righteousness must be illustrious and manifest, and that for the salvation of those whom he hath chosen to be his people and heritage.

2. And the Gentiles shall see. He now states more plainly the reason why he formerly said that he would not be silent, namely, that believers may be fully convinced that salvation is not promised to them in vain.

And all the kings of the earth thy glory. Here he employs the word “glory” as meaning “salvation.” We see here the argument by which prophets must fortify themselves for perseverance, namely, that the Lord is faithful, and will at length fulfill what he has once promised, though he delay for a time. The word kings serves for amplification; as if he had said that not only mean persons and those of the lowest rank shall behold and admire the glory of God, but even “kings” themselves, who commonly look down with contempt on all that was worthy in other respects of being esteemed and honored; for they are blinded by their splendor, and maddened by their high rank, so that they do not willingly behold any rank but their own.

And thou shalt be called by a new name. By a “new name” he means “a crowded assemblage;” for the people were so completely scattered, that there was no visible body, and they appeared to be altogether ruined. Although a vast multitude of persons were led into captivity, yet, having been scattered among the Babylonians, they were driven about like the members of a body broken in pieces, and scarcely retained the name of a people; which had also been foretold to them. After having been brought back from captivity, they began again to be united in one body, and thus regained the “name” of which they had been deprived. Yet “new” denotes what is uncommon; as if the Prophet had said that the glory of the people shall be extraordinary and such as was never before heard of. We know that this took place in the progress of time; for that small band of people, while they dwelt by sufferance in their native country, could not by any extraordinary distinction arrive at so great renown; but at length, when the doctrine of the Gospel had been preached, the Jewish name became known and renowned.

Which the mouth of Jehovah shall name. He confirms what would otherwise have been hard to be believed, by promising that God will be the author of this glory; for it was not in the power of men thus to raise a Church which had sunk low and was covered with dishonor, but to God, who “lifteth up the poor from the dunghill,” (<19B307>Psalm 113:7,) it was not difficult to adorn his Church by new celebrity. As there was no face of a Church for forty years, and, although the Lord had some seed, yet it was in a state so disordered and so ruinous that there was no visible people of God, he now restores to the Church its name, when he has assembled it by the word of the Gospel. This majestic work of God, therefore, ought to confirm us on this point, that we may know that he will never forsake his Church; and although wicked men tear us by their slanders, and beat and spit upon us, and in every way endeavor to make us universally loathed, let us remember that God is not deprived of his right to vindicate us in the world, whose names he has deigned to write in heaven.

Others expound the passage in a more ingenious manner, namely, that instead of Israelites they shall be called Christians. But I think that the former meaning is more agreeable to the context and to the Prophet’s ordinary language; and we ought carefully to observe those forms of expression which are peculiar to the prophets, that we may become familiar with their style. In a word, the people shall be restored, though it appears to be exterminated, and shall obtain, not from men but from God, a new name.

3. And thou shalt be a crown of glory. Isaiah proceeds with the same subject, and we need not wonder at this; for no man, by judging from the flesh, could have formed such vast conceptions and expectations. Besides, he intended to fix the hearts of believers on the kingdom of Christ, which it was the more necessary to adorn and magnify by these illustrious titles, because hitherto it was not only obscure but at a great distance. It was needful to provide against a twofold danger, that the Jews, when they saw that they were still at a very great distance from their former honor, might not, on the one hand, despise the grace of God, or, on the other hand, rest satisfied with the mere beginnings, and thus, by disregarding Christ, devote their whole attention to earthly advantages. The Prophet therefore reminds them, that the return to their native country was but the forerunner of that exalted rank which was to be expected at the manifestation of Christ.

So far as relates to the former clause, exiles and slaves could perceive nothing but ground for despair, when they beheld the outward condition of things, since, after having returned and been restored to their country, they made very little progress in building the temple. Accordingly, he bids them look to God, that they may expect from him the glory which is concealed from the eyes of flesh, and, knowing that they are dear and precious in his sight, may be fully satisfied with this, till he adorn them more bountifully by the hand of Christ.

And the diadem of the kingdom. He calls the Church God’s crown, because God wishes that his glory should shine in us; and in this it is proper that we should behold and admire the inconceivable goodness of God, since, notwithstanding that we are by nature filthy and corrupted, and more abominable than the mire of the streets, yet he adorns us in such a manner that he wishes us to be “the diadem of his kingdom.” Let us therefore be aroused by this goodness of God to the desire of leading a holy life, that his image may more and more be formed anew in us.

4. Thou shalt no more be called forsaken. He meets a difficulty which might occur to the minds of believers, seeing that they were forsaken and abandoned, while at the same time they were called a “diadem” and a “crown.” Seeing that they were hated and abhorred by all nations, and sometimes even lay prostrate at the feet of their enemies, and no assistance of any kind was seen, it might appear ridiculous that they should receive these names, and thus be elevated to heaven and placed in the hand of God. He therefore means that the people, though for a time they resemble a divorced and forsaken woman, shall yet be restored so as to change their condition and name; as if he had said, “This divorce shall not be perpetual; God will at length receive thee to himself.” Thus, although the Church seems to be “forsaken,” and has the appearance of a divorced woman, yet the Lord will put an end to her afflictions and miseries.

For they shall call thee, My good-pleasure in her. He teaches that this proceeds from the “good-pleasure of God;” that is, from his undeserved favor, that nothing may be ascribed to the merits or excellence of men; as he says in Hosea,

“I will espouse thee to me in mercy and compassions.”
(<280219>Hosea 2:19.)

And thus he shews that they shall be prosperous for no other reason than because God, out of his infinite goodness, will graciously condescend to receive into favor those whom he had abandoned. Although this relates strictly to the Church, yet let us learn in general that it is by the favor and bounty of God that cities and kingdoms are restored to their former condition, which, while he was angry and offended, appeared to be ruined. The Prophet, therefore, holds out to the consideration of the Jews the source of all the calamities which they had suffered, when he testifies that when God is reconciled to them, they will be happy; for we may gather from it that formerly God was angry with them, when their condition was wretched and miserable.

And thy land shall be married. This metaphor, by which he denotes the restoration of the people, is highly beautiful, and conveys twofold instruction. He shews that the state of variance between God and the Church shall be terminated; first, because she shall be received as a wife by her appeased husband; and secondly, because the multitude of people will take away the reproach of widowhood. The earth is, in some sense, married to its inhabitants, as trees to vines; and, on the other hand, when it is stripped of its inhabitants, it is said to be a widow.

For the good-pleasure of Jehovah is in thee. He again repeats and confirms what has been already said, that it is owing to the undeserved kindness of God that the Church is restored, that she remains in her condition, that the earth receives its inhabitants; for when God turns away his face and is angry with us, nothing can be looked for but destruction, and nothing can be expected from the aid or strength of men.

5. For as a young man marrieth a virgin. This verse contains nothing more than an explanation and confirmation of the preceding verse. Now there appears to be a sort of contradiction in this respect, that in the latter clause he makes God the only Husband of the Church, while in the former clause he assigns to her many husbands. But the solution is easy; for, when this marriage of the Church is spoken of, there is but one Husband, that is, God, who always claims for himself that title; and that is fulfilled in Christ, to whom, as Paul says, the pastors “espouse the Church as a chaste virgin.” (<471102>2 Corinthians 11:2.) Yet this does not prevent the metaphor of marriage from being employed to describe that unity of faith which all the children of God have with their mother, the Church. Nay more, it is consistent with God being the Husband of his Church, that he marries to his Church all the nations that are assembled to her; for, when she is without children, she may be said to be widowed and solitary. This is said, therefore, even with respect to God, who, by ratifying with his guidance the sacred amity between the members of his Church, extends the effect of marriage to the whole body.

And hence it ought to be inferred, that the Church of God shall be truly populous, that is, shall have many children, when she is united to God her Husband; for we must begin with God, that he may preside over his Church, and that under his guidance we may be gathered into her bosom; for then shall the marriage be truly sacred. But for this a vast multitude of people will not constitute a church, but rather an abominable brothel; as we see that in Popery there is boasting of the name of God, and yet the majesty of God is dishonored in it by frightful sacrilege.

6. On thy walls. As the Prophet intended to describe the perfect happiness of the kingdom of Christ, so he makes an assemblage of all that belongs to the prosperous condition of any country or city. To other advantages he adds guards and a garrison; because the greatest abundance of all good things would be of little avail, if we were not safe from enemies; and therefore he declares that the Lord will not only supply the Church with all that is necessary, but will also appoint faithful guards to ward off enemies and robbers, that he may thus be recognised, both within and without, as the author of a happy life.

Who shall not be, silent. By “being silent,” he means “being at rest;” as if he had said, “They will be continually on the watch, so as to foresee at a great distance the dangers that threaten them.”

Ye who are mindful of Jehovah. He next explains who these guards are, namely, those who “shall be mindful of the Lord,” that is, shall celebrate the memory of his name. Although among the guards we might, without impropriety, reckon the angels, (<199111>Psalm 91:11; <580114>Hebrews 1:14,) to whom we know that this office is assigned, yet because they willingly and cheerfully watch over the safety of the Church, and do not need to be spurred on by exhortations, the Prophet addresses his discourse to other watchmen.

The word which he employs is of doubtful meaning. F1012 Sometimes it signifies “to remember,” and sometimes “to bring to remembrance;” and neither of those significations will be inappropriate. But I think that he simply means that these guards will be God’s ministers to celebrate his name. Some render it “Making known the Lord;” but that is unnatural, and suddenly breaks off the Prophet’s meaning; and such commentators do not attend to the comparison of the guards of a city, which the Prophet employs.

Although the Prophet intends simply to teach that the Church will be safe from all dangers, because she has God to watch over her safety, yet we ought always to consider what is the nature of Christ’s kingdom; for it is not defended by the weapons of war or by arms, but, being spiritual, is protected by spiritual arms and guards. The Lord will therefore have his ministers, whose agency he will employ for defending the Church by the sword of the word, that she may be kept safe; not by earthly guards, but by God’s secret and spiritual power; and the Prophet explains himself by saying, “Ye who are mindful of the Lord.” Although this statement relates to all the godly, who are commanded to celebrate the name of God in all places, as far as lies in their power, yet it is chiefly addressed to the priests, who, discharging a public office, should hold out an example to others, and devote themselves with all their heart to the praises of God.

During the whole day and the whole night. Here pastors are reminded of their duty; for it is not enough to feed the Lord’s flock, if they do not likewise defend it from the attacks of robbers and wolves. “Night and day,” therefore, they must guard and keep watch, if they wish to perform their duty in a proper manner.

Keep not silence. The Lord forbids them to be silent; for he wishes them to be diligent and attentive; and in this he shews how great is the care which he takes about the safety of the Church. This passage testifies that it is a remarkable kindness of God, when we have faithful pastors who take care of us; for we are exposed to dangers of every kind, and lie open to the snares of Satan, if the Lord do not protect us by his guards; and therefore we ought always to pray that he would surround us with those guards which he sees that we need.

7. And do not give him silence. Hitherto the Prophet has spoken of the office and duty of teaching; but as this would not be enough if prayer were not likewise added, he exhorts the ministers of the word to prayer; for I think that wl, (lo,) “to him,” refers to God. We ought, therefore, to plead with God, and to entreat by earnest prayer, that he will give some success to our labors, which would otherwise be unprofitable. And since we devote ourselves entirely to preaching doctrine, and vigorously oppose all the machinations of Satan, let us learn, at the same time, to turn our minds to God, that he may not permit our labors to be unsuccessful. In the same manner as he applied the word “silence” to doctrine in the beginning of the chapter, when he said, “I will not be silent,” so in this passage he applies it to prayer, by which we obtain from God some fruit of doctrine. Even the angels move us by their example to this earnestness of prayer, as we read in Zechariah that the angel prays ardently for the restoration of the Church. (<380112>Zechariah 1:12.)

Till he restore. Hence infer that there are two distinct benefits: first, to have faithful pastors who shall watch over the safety of the Church; secondly, that the Church be upheld and preserved in her condition by their agency. But God, who speaks here, claims these benefits as his own; which he also does in many other passages. “How shall they preach,” says Paul, “unless they be sent?” (<451015>Romans 10:15.) It belongs to God alone, therefore, to appoint pastors; for no man could otherwise have been “sufficient” (<470216>2 Corinthians 2:16) for an office so important and so difficult; and it is he alone who promotes by their agency the restoration of the Church; for their efforts would be altogether vain and fruitless, if the Lord did not grant them prosperous success. And here we see that the external agency of men is joined with the efficacy of the Holy Spirit; for, although the Lord alone is the author and finisher of the work, yet he brings forward instruments which he employs for rearing the building of the Church. This reminds us that we ought not to lose courage, even when we see nothing but ruin and wretchedness and desolation; but it is our duty to pray that the Lord will restore her, which he also promises that he will do.

And till he place Jerusalem a praise. This means to render the Church glorious, that ground of joy may shine forth from it; for when we feel nothing but God’s severity, we become dumb, and are overwhelmed with shame; but when he frees us from our afflictions, and causes us to recover, he at the same time opens our mouth; for he supplies us with ground of praise and thanksgiving.

8. Jehovah hath sworn. He proceeds with the metaphors which he formerly used; for since, owing to the corruption of our nature, the kingdom of Christ cannot be described so as to be level to our capacity; it was necessary to represent it under figures. In the same manner as he promised, first, an abundance of all things, and next, faithful guardianship, that the condition of believers may be safe; so here he promises tranquillity and repose, that they may peacefully enjoy their blessings, and may not in future be defrauded of them. As if he had said, “Whatever thou hadst formerly in thy hands was exposed to plunder and robbery; but now thou shalt have everything well secured, and shall freely partake of thy corn and thy wine; and, in a word, thou shalt enjoy thy prosperity in peace.”

But since the depravity of our nature is such that we do not place trust in God, though he promise largely and bountifully, for this reason the Prophet represents him as swearing; for the Lord condescends to us so far as to make use of an oath, in order to correct still more our unbelief and obstinacy. Now, the Lord “sweareth by himself, because” (as an Apostle says) “he hath none greater than himself.” (<580613>Hebrews 6:13.)

By his right hand and by the arm of his strength. He mentions his “right arm,” that is, the power of God; because that was appropriate to the present discourse. As if he had said, “If I have any power, I will display it in your salvation; and lest, in an arduous affair, your minds should slumber, I swear by my hand, which is invincible and victorious over all, that, whatever difficulties may arise, you shall be safe under my protection.” Whenever therefore he promises salvation, let us think of his strength and power.

If I shall give. This is an elliptical form of expression; and we are taught by it the sacredness and solemnity of an oath. The import of this declaration is, as if he had said, that he wishes that henceforth he may not be believed, if these promises be not justified by the event. When he promises the peaceful enjoyment of wheat and wine, he means that it proceeded from his righteous judgment, and did not happen by chance, that the Church was deprived of corn and wine; for whenever enemies ravage and plunder, this is unquestionably done by God’s permission; as he threatens in the Law. (<052833>Deuteronomy 28:33.) On the other hand, it is his special blessing, that every one eats in safety

“under his vine, and under his fig-tree.” (<110425>1 Kings 4:25.)

9. For they who have gathered it shall eat it. This is an explanation and confirmation of the preceding statement; for, after having testified that he will no longer permit that which the Church possesses to be laid open as a prey, he adds that she shall enjoy her possessions. Yet he shews that “corn and wine” are justly called our own, when we have obtained them by honest industry; for they who violently seize the bread of others, or obtain it by unlawful means, have it not from the Lord, and cannot attribute it to his blessing, as if they possessed it lawfully; and to this corresponds what is said in the Psalm,

“Thou shalt eat the labor of thy hands, thou shalt be happy, and it shall be well with thee.” (<19C802>Psalm 128:2.)

And shall praise Jehovah. But when he promises that they who cultivate the soil shall have food, why does he say that they will give thanks to God? And why do men praise God, if by their own labor they gather the corn and procure the wine? It appears to be but a pretended thanksgiving, if those things are ascribed to the toil and industry of men; and God deserves no praise, if men procure food by their own labor. But it ought to be observed, that the Prophet, after having shewn what is the lawful method of seeking food, at the same time adds that our labor will be fruitless, if the Lord do not supply us with food; for all that we have belongs to God, and to him alone all that we obtain ought to be ascribed.

Shall drink wine in my holy courts. He alludes to the solemn act of offering sacrifices; for they might drink in other places, and every one might eat in his own dwelling. But the allusion is to that ceremony which was observed in consecration, when the law required that the first-fruits should be an oblation, (<030212>Leviticus 2:12; 23:10,) in order that the produce of the year might be dedicated to God; and in the writings of Moses we frequently meet with these words,

“Thou shalt feast, and rejoice in presence of thy God.” (<051218>Deuteronomy 12:18.)

10. Pass through, pass through the gates. From the preceding statement he draws the conclusion, that there shall be a free passage through the gates of the city, which formerly were shut or in a ruinous state; shut when it was besieged by enemies; in a ruinous state, when the city was thrown down and levelled with the ground. He means that there shall be such a restoration of the city, that its inhabitants shall be numerous, and there shall be frequent passing to and from it.

Some think that these words are addressed to the pastors, that they may enter in at the gates, and go before others as their conductors. But it is a general and figurative statement, by which he compares the Church to a populous city, though for a time it was ruinous and desolate, as Jerusalem had been. Others pursue more ingenious speculations, and say that the gates of a Church are opened, when pardon of sins is proclaimed in it, and by that message God invites all to come to him. But if we wish to get at the Prophet’s meaning, we must believe that all these things are spoken figuratively, as we have already mentioned.

Clear the way for the people. This is, strictly speaking, the duty of teachers; but the Prophet speaks in general terms, and addresses all whose agency the Lord employed for preparing the way for the people. At that time, indeed, he spoke to Medes and Persians, by means of whom he opened up the way for the Jews, that they might return to their native country; but next he includes all others by whom the Lord restored his Church.

Level, level the road. He authoritatively commands all men to “clear and level the roads;” that the Jews might know that every obstacle shall easily be removed, and that all men, however inveterate their hostility, shall immediately obey the command of God. In this way he enjoins believers to gird themselves manfully for the work, as if many workmen were ready to give assistance, and the emphatic repetition of the word (“Level, level”) deserves notice as intended to express certainty.

Pave it with stones. lqs (sikkel) sometimes means to remove stones, and sometimes to pave with stones; and I think that it ought rather to be understood here in this latter signification, though commentators are generally of a different opinion. F1013

Lift up a standard to the peoples. This is of the same import with the former clause; for the Prophet means that the peoples shall obey the command of God, in the same manner as subjects are wont to obey princes; for they shall assemble and run together when “the standard is lifted up,” and shall lend their aid to bring back the people; and thus he extols in lofty terms the power of God, that the Jews might be fully persuaded that they would one day be restored. F1014

11. Behold, Jehovah hath, proclaimed. He means that the Lord, by acting miraculously and beyond the judgment or expectation of the flesh, will cause all the nations to know that this is done by his command. It might be objected, How shall it be brought about that the peoples, who now make fierce resistance to God, shall become obedient to him? He assigns the reason, “Because the Lord will proclaim your return, so that they shall acknowledge that at his command you are restored.”

Say ye to the daughter of Zion. Undoubtedly this refers literally to the ministers of the word and to the prophets, whom the Lord invests with this office of promising deliverance and salvation to the Church. And hence we conclude that these promises are not merely limited to a single age, but must be extended to the end of the world; for, beginning at the return from Babylon into Judea, we must advance as far as the coming of Christ, by which this prophecy was at length accomplished, and redemption was brought to a conclusion; for the Savior came, when the grace of God was proclaimed by the Gospel. In a word, he foretells that the voice of God shall one day resound from the rising to the setting of the sun, and shall be heard, not by a single nation only, but by all nations.

Behold, the Savior cometh. This is a word which, we know, belongs peculiarly to the Gospel; and therefore he bids the teachers of the Church encourage the hearts of believers, by confirmed expectation of the coming of the Lord, though he appeared to be at a great distance from his people. But this promise relates chiefly to the reign of Christ, by which these things were fully and perfectly accomplished; for he actually exhibited himself as the “Savior” of his Church, as we have seen before in the fortieth chapter.

Behold, his reward is with him, and the effect of his work is before him. That they may no longer be distressed by any doubt, when God the Savior shall appear, he invests him with power, as in <234010>Isaiah 40:10; for he repeats the same words which we found in that passage. As if he had said, “As soon as it shall please God to display his hand, the effect will be rapid and sudden; for so long as he stops or delays, the judgment of the flesh pronounces him to be idle;” and we see how very many fanatics imagine some deity that has no existence, as if they were painting a dead image. Justly, therefore, does the Prophet declare that God’s “work and reward are before him,” that he may make it evident, whenever it shall be necessary, that he is the righteous Judge of the world.

12. And they shall call you a holy people. He describes the benefit of the coming of the Lord; that is, because, by shewing that he takes care of his elect as his heritage, he will make it evident to the whole world that the covenant of adoption, which he made with Abraham, was not deceptive. He therefore calls them “a holy people,” because the Lord hath separated and consecrated them to himself; for, although he governs all nations, he has deigned to choose the seed of Abraham, that he might make them the object of his peculiar care. (<021906>Exodus 19:6.)

The redeemed of Jehovah. In the sense now stated, God declares that they shall be a holy people, when he shall appear as their Savior and Redeemer; for, as the people are said to be “profaned” when they lie amidst filth, being afflicted and distressed by the reproaches of the wicked, so they are said to be “sanctified,” when the Lord actually shews that he presides over their salvation. This was accomplished by a wonderful redemption; and at that time God also testified that he remembered his heritage, which, in the eyes of men, he appeared to have forsaken and disregarded; for in these words, Sought out, F1015 not forsaken, is denoted a contrast between the time when God made a divorce from his people, and the time when he again reconciled to himself those whom he had cast off.


CHAPTER 63.

Go To Isaiah 63:1-19

1. Who is this that cometh from Edom? This chapter has been violently distorted by Christians, as if what is said here related to Christ, whereas the Prophet speaks simply of God himself; and they have imagined that here Christ is red, because he was wet with his own blood which he shed on the cross. But the Prophet meant nothing of that sort. The obvious meaning is, that the Lord comes forth with red garments in the view of his people, that all may know that he is their protector and avenger; for when the people were weighed down by innumerable evils, and at the same time the Edomites and other enemies, as if they had been placed beyond the reach of all danger, freely indulged in wickedness, which remained unpunished, a dangerous temptation might arise, as if these things happened by chance, or as if God did not care for his people, or chastised them too severely. If the Jews were punished for despising God, much more the Edomites, and other avowed enemies of the name of God, ought to have been punished.

The Prophet meets this very serious temptation by representing God the avenger as returning from the slaughter of the Edomites, as if he were drenched with their blood. There is great liveliness and energy in a description of this sort, Who is this? for that question raises the hearts of the hearers into a state of astonishment, and strikes them more forcibly than a plain narrative. On this account the Prophet employed it, in order to arouse the hearts of the Jews from their slumbering and stupefaction.

We know that the Edomites were somewhat related to the Jews by blood; for they were descended from the same ancestors, and derived their name from Esau, who was also called Edom. (<013601>Genesis 36:1, 8, 9.) Having corrupted the pure worship of God, though they bore the same mark of circumcision, they persecuted the Jews with deadly hatred. They likewise inflamed the rage of other enemies against the Jews, and shewed that they took great pleasure in the ruin of that people, as is evident; from the encouraging words addressed by them to its destroyers.

“Remember, O Lord, (says the Psalmist,) the children of Edom, who, in the day of the destruction of Jerusalem, said, Raze, raze it even to the foundations.” (<19D707>Psalm 137:7.)

The Prophet, therefore, threatens that judgment shall be passed on the Edomites, that none may imagine that they shall escape punishment for that savage cruelty with which they burned towards their brethren; for God will punish all wicked men and enemies of the Church in such a manner as to shew that the Church is the object of his care.

Beautiful in his raiment. Because spots of blood pollute and stain the conquerors, Isaiah affirms that God will nevertheless be “beautiful in his raiment,” after having taken vengeance on the enemies. In like manner, we have seen in other passages (<233406>Isaiah 34:6) that the slaughter of the wicked is compared to sacrifices, because the glory of God shines brightly in them; for can we conceive of any ornament more lovely than judgment? Thus, in order to impress men with reverence for God’s righteous vengeance, he pronounces the blood with which he was sprinkled, by slaying and destroying the wicked, to be highly beautiful and ornamental. As if he had said, “Think not that God will resemble a person of mean rank. Though he be drenched with blood, yet this will not prevent his glory and majesty from shining brightly.”

Marching in the greatness of his strength. Various expositions of the word h[x (tzogneh) are given by the Jews. Some view it in a transitive sense, as referring to the people whom the Lord brought back from captivity. Others refer it to the nations whom the Lord will remove to another country, though they appear to have a settled habitation. But I consider it to he more agreeable to the context to give to it an absolute sense as a noun. The Prophet, therefore, describes God’s majestic march and heroic firmness, by which he displays vast power.

I who speak. The Lord himself replies; and this carries much more authority than if the Prophet spoke in his own person. Believers are reminded by him of former predictions, that they may know that in the judgments of God not only his justice and goodness, but likewise his faithfulness is manifested. As if he had said, “Behold, ye now see fulfilled what I have already and frequently testified to you by my servants. This effect of my promises clearly shews that I am true, and that I speak justly and sincerely, and not for the purpose of deceiving you.” The vision would have been little fitted to strike their minds, if the Jews had not remembered those promises which they formerly heard; but since the design of it was, that they should rely on God’s salvation, he at the same time claims for himself no ordinary power to save.

2. Wherefore is thy raiment red? He proceeds with the same subject; but, as it would have impaired the force of the narrative, he does not immediately explain whence came the red color of God’s garments, but continues to put questions, that he may arouse their minds to the consideration of what is strange and uncommon. He means that this sprinkling of blood is something remarkable and extraordinary. The comparison drawn from a “wine-press” is highly appropriate; for the town Bozrah, which he mentioned a little before, lay in a vine-bearing district. As if he had said, “There will be other vintages than those which are customary; for blood shall be shed instead of the juice of the grapes.”

3. Alone have I pressed the wine-press. The Prophet now explains the vision, and the reason why the Lord was stained with blood. It is because he will take vengeance on the Edomites and other enemies who treated his people cruelly. It would be absurd to say that these things relate to Christ, because he alone and without human aid redeemed us; for it means that God will punish the Edomites in such a manner that he will have no need of the assistance of men, because he will be sufficiently able to destroy them. The Jews might have objected that the Edomites are powerful, and are not harassed by any wars, but are in a flourishing and tranquil condition. The Prophet shews that this does not prevent the Lord from inflicting punishment on them whenever he shall think proper. Human means were, indeed, employed by him when he took vengeance on the Edomites, but in such a manner that it was made evident to all that it was entirely directed by his hand, and that no part of it could be ascribed to human forces or counsels. They were overwhelmed by sudden and unlooked-for destruction, of which the people ought not to have doubted that God, who had so often warned them of it, was the author.

And of the peoples there was none with me.  F1016 This is added in order to intimate that, although “peoples” will arise out of the earth in order to destroy the nation of Edom, yet the work of God shall be separate from them, because nothing was farther from the design of heathen nations than to inflict punishment on the Edomites for their unjust cruelty. For this reason the Lord wishes his judgment to be known and to be illustriously displayed amidst the din of arms and tempestuous commotions.

For I will tread them. I willingly retain the future tense; for the Prophet speaks of events that are future and not yet accomplished; and although the Edomites were living in prosperity and at their ease, yet God would severely punish them on account of their cruelty. Why the Prophet makes use of the metaphor of a bloody wine-press, which is a shocking and melancholy sight, we have already in part explained; but it ought likewise to be added, that the punishments and vengeance which God inflicts on enemies are appropriately called his vintage, as if he gathered them when he ruins or destroys them. In like manner, such punishment is called in another passage (<233406>Isaiah 34:6) a solemn sacrifice; that we may learn that glory ought to be ascribed to God, not less when he executes his judgments than when he exhibits tokens of compassion. F1017

And I will stain all my raiment. He nevertheless describes his amazing love toward the Jews, in deigning to sprinkle himself with the blood of enemies on their account; and that is the reason why he makes use of the word stain.

In my wrath. He shews that this is of itself sufficient for destroying the Edomites, that the Lord is angry with them; as if he had said that there will be none to rescue them, when the Lord shall be pleased to chastise, Hence we may infer that the destruction of men proceeds from nothing else than the wrath of God; as, on the other hand, on his graco alone depends our salvation. In a word, God intended here to testify that the Edomites shall not remain unpunished for having persecuted the Church of God.

4. For the day of vengeance is in my heart. In the former clause of this verse Isaiah intimates that God does not cease to discharge his office, though he does not instantly execute his judgments, but, on the contrary, delays till a seasonable time, which he knows well; and that it does not belong to us to prescribe to him when or how he ought to do this or that, but we ought to bow submissively to his decree, that he may administer all things according to his pleasure. Let us not, therefore, imagine that he is asleep, or that he is idle, when he delays.

And the year of my redeemed is come. In this latter clause he shews that all these things are done for the sake of believers. “Day” and “year” are here used by him in the same sense; but by the word “year” is denoted the long duration of the captivity, that the Jews may not despair or grow faint and weary, if the redemption be long delayed. The Lord therefore punishes and destroys wicked men for the purpose of delivering the godly and of redeeming his Church, for which he has a special regard.

Finally, by the slaughter and destruction of them he opens up a way for his grace. And this tends to our consolation, that whenever we see tokens of God’s wrath toward the wicked, we may know that the fruit of the punishment which they endure will come to us; for in this way it is clearly seen that our groans are heard, and that God, when he wishes to relieve the afflicted, is armed with strength to put to flight all the enemies of his Church. Wherefore, although the cross be heavy to us, yet by hearing patiently let us learn to lift up our minds by hope to that “year” which God hath appointed for executing his vengeance.

5. I looked, and there was none to help. Although the Jews were destitute of all assistance, and no one aided them by word or deed, yet he shews that the arm of the Lord is alone sufficient to punish enemies, and to set his people at liberty. He shews, therefore, that from God alone they ought to expect salvation, that they may not gaze around in every direction, but may have their eyes wholly fixed on God, who has no need of the assistance of others.

And I wondered. He represents God as amazed that there is none to stretch out a hand to him, when he wishes to execute his judgments, that he may impress more deeply on the minds of believers this doctrine, that God has no need of human aid, and that he is sufficient of himself for procuring salvation to his people. By this circumstance he magnifies still more the assistance which he had determined to render to his people, partly to correct their distrust, and partly to exhort them to gratitude in future; for God assumes a different character, when he says that he stood like one astonished; because this stupidity belonged literally to the Jews, who scarcely believed what could not be done by the power of men. With every assistance, therefore, he contrasts his own arm, with the invincible power of which he says that he will be satisfied, both that he may be seen to be their Savior, and that he may scatter and lay low all the wicked.

6. And I will tread down the peoples. From the preceding statement he draws the conclusion, that God’s wrath is sufficiently powerful to destroy the wicked, without calling for the assistance of others; and he does so in order that the Jews may not be deterred from cherishing favorable hopes by the strength that is arrayed against them.

And will make them drunk. The expression, “make drunk,” must here be taken in a different sense from what it formerly had in some passages. We have seen that sometimes we are made drunk, when God strikes us with fury or madness, (<232909>Isaiah 29:9,) or with a spirit of giddiness, (<231914>Isaiah 19:14,) or, in a word, “gives us up to a reprobate mind.” (<450128>Romans 1:28.) But here it means nothing else than “to fill,” and to strike even to satiety, or, as we commonly say, (tout leur saoul,) “to their heart’s content;” a metaphor which the prophets frequently employ.

And will cast down their strength to the earth. That is, though they think that they are invincible, yet I will cast down and destroy them. The meaning may be thus summed up. “The Jews, when they are afflicted, must not call in question their salvation, as if God hated them, and must not be amazed at the chastisements which they endure, as if they happened by chance; for other nations, by whom they are now oppressed, shall be punished, there shall be a revolution of affairs, and they shall not escape who chant a triumph before the time. He produces as an example the Edomites, because they were nearer and better known than others, and were also the most injurious.

7. I will keep in remembrance the compassions of Jehovah. Isaiah brings consolation to his people in distressed and calamitous circumstances, and by his example bids the Jews, when they were oppressed by afflictions, call to remembrance God’s ancient benefits, and betake themselves to prayer; that they may not be like hypocrites, who only in prosperity feel the goodness of God, and are so much cast down by adversity as to remember no benefit. But when the Lord chastises us, we ought to mention and celebrate his benefits, and to cherish better hopes for the future; for the Lord is always the same, and does not change his purpose or his inclination; and therefore if we leave room for his compassion, we shall never be left destitute.

Such appears to me to be the scope of the context, though others view it in a different light, namely, that the Prophet, having hitherto spoken of the destruction of the people, comforts himself by this confident hope of compassion, that God wishes to save some of them. But they are mistaken in supposing that Isaiah has hitherto spoken of the Jews, as if God punished them only, whereas he testified that he would likewise punish other nations, that they might not think that they alone were hated by God; and accordingly, he now exhorts them to celebrate the remembrance of those benefits which God had formerly bestowed on the fathers, that by their example they may know better the love of God toward them. From the context it will also appear clearly, that the Jews are joined with their fathers, that the covenant which belongs to them in common with their fathers, may encourage them to hope well.

As upon all that Jehovah hath bestowed on us. He employs the particle of comparison, As, in order to shew that in adversity we ought instantly to remember those benefits which the Lord bestowed on his people, as if they were placed before our eyes, though they appear to be buried by extreme old age; for if they do not belong to us, the remembrance of them would be idle and unprofitable.

He confirms this also by saying on us. Because the Jews were members of the same body, he justly reckons them the descendants of their grandfathers and other ancestors. Isaiah did not, indeed, experience those benefits which he mentions; but because they had been bestowed on the Church, the fruit of them came partly to himself, because he was a member of the Church. And undoubtedly that communion of saints which we profess to believe, ought to be so highly valued by us, as to lead us to think that what the Church has received from the hand of God has been given to us; for the Church of God is one, and that which now is has nothing separate from that which formerly was. F1018

In the multitude of kindness toward the house of Israel. By these words Isaiah more fully explains his meaning. Since therefore the Lord shewed himself to be kind and bountiful toward his people, we ought to hope for the same thing in the present day, because we are “fellow-citizens,” and members of the very same Church. (<490219>Ephesians 2:19.) Although we feel that God is angry with us on account of our sins, yet our hearts ought to be encouraged by hope and armed by confidence; because he cannot forsake his Church. Yet it ought to be carefully observed, that the Prophet extols and magnifies in lofty terms the mercy of God, that we may know that the foundation of our salvation and of all blessings is laid on it; for this excludes the merits of men, that nothing may in any way be ascribed to them.

That this doctrine may be better understood, we must take into account the time of which Isaiah speaks. At that time righteousness and godliness chiefly flourished; for although the people were exceedingly corrupted, yet Moses, Aaron, and other good men, gave illustrious examples of unblamable and holy lives. Yet the Prophet shews that all the blessings which the Lord. bestowed on Moses and others ought to be ascribed, not to their merits, but to the mercy of God. But what are we in comparison of Moses, that we should deserve anything from God? This repetition, therefore, of kindness, mercies, and compassions, as it raises feeble minds on high, that they may rise above stupendous and formidable temptations, ought also to remove and swallow up all thought of human merits.

8. For he said, Surely they are my people. He mentions the election of the people, and represents God as speaking of it, that we may keep in view the end of our calling., that he wished to have a peculiar people, who should call upon him. And yet he accuses the people of ingratitude, in having disappointed God of his expectation; not that the Lord can be deceived, for he dearly foresaw what they would become, and also declared it (<053215>Deuteronomy 32:15) by Moses; but Scripture speaks in this manner, when it is altogether owing to the ingratitude of men that they ,disappoint God, as we formerly saw,

“I looked that it should yield grapes, and it hath yielded wild grapes.” (<230504>Isaiah 5:4.)

Nor does he treat of God’s secret decree, but speaks after the manner of men about the mutual consent between God and believers, that all to whom he deigns to offer himself as their Father, may answer to God when he calls; “for the foundation standeth sure, that none of the elect shall perish, because the Lord knoweth who are truly his. (<550219>2 Timothy 2:19.)

Children that do not lie. We know that the end of our calling is, that we may lead a holy and blameless life, as the whole of Scripture testifies, and as we have often stated at former passages. (<234321>Isaiah 43:21; 55:5.) Justly, therefore, does the Lord say that he elected the people, that they might be holy and true, that he might have children who were averse to falsehood and vanity. But the people did not keep their promise, and were far removed from that simplicity which they ought to have followed; for everything was full of deceit and hypocrisy. Yet nevertheless he holds out the hope of pardon, provided that they fly to God and humble themselves by sincere repentance.

Therefore he became their Savior. The Prophet shews what is the chief part of the service of God; namely, to have a pure and upright heart. Hence it follows that God forsakes us, because we are treacherous and are covenant-breakers. Seeing therefore that this people took pleasure in their vices, it was proper first to convict them of their unbelief, that being afterwards converted to God, they might find him to be their Savior.

9. In all their affliction he was afflicted. He enlarges on the goodness of God toward his people, and shews that he was kind to the fathers, so long as they permitted themselves to be governed by him, and was so careful about them that he himself bore their distresses and afflictions. By speaking in this mainner, he declares the incomparable love which God bears toward his people. In order to move us more powerfully and draw us to himself, the Lord accommodates himself to the manner of men, by attributing to himself all the affection, love, and (sumpaqei>a) compassion which a father can have. And yet in human affairs it is impossible to conceive of any sort of kindness or benevolence which he does not immeasurably surpass.

I acknowledge that al (lo) with a (aleph) literally signifies not; and therefore I do not altogether reject a different interpretation, that the people in their afflictions were not afflicted, because God always applied some remedy to alleviate their sorrows. But since a, (aleph,)in many passages, is manifestly changed into w, (vau,) learned commentators justly, in my opinion, view it as equivalent to the pronoun wl, (lo,) to him. In this sense the Prophet testifies that God, in order to alleviate the distresses and afflictions of his people, himself bore their burdens; not that he can in any way endure anguish, but, by a very customary figure of speech, he assumes and applies to himself human passions. F1019

And the angel of his face saved them. Of the care which he took of them he next explains the effect, by saying that he always delivered them by the hand of his angel, whom he calls “the angel of his face,” because he was the witness of the presence of God, and, as it were, his herald to execute his commands; that we may not think that angels come forth of their own accord, or move at their own suggestion, to render assistance to us; for the Lord makes use of their agency, and makes known to us his presence by means of them. Angels can do nothing of themselves, and give no assistance, except so far as the Lord commissions them

“to be ministers of our salvation.” (<580114>Hebrews 1:14.)

Let us not, therefore, fix our whole attention on them, for they lead us straight to God.

If it be thought preferable to interpret this phrase as describing the lively image of God, because that angel, being the leader and guardian of the people, shewed the face of God as in a mirror, that meaning will be highly appropriate. And indeed I have no doubt that the office of Savior is ascribed to Christ, as we know that he was the angel of highest rank, by whose guidance, safeguard, and protection, the Church has been preserved and upheld.

In his love. He shews what was the cause of so great benefits; namely, his love and undeserved kindness, as Moses also teaches. “How came it that God adopted thy fathers, but because he loved them, and because his heart clave to them?” (<050437>Deuteronomy 4:37; 7:7, 8.) Moses wishes to set aside entirely the lofty opinion which they might entertain of themselves, because they were proud and haughty, and claimed more for themselves than they had a right to claim; and therefore he shews that there was no other cause for so great benefits than the absolute and undeserved goodness of God.

He bore them and carried them. He next makes use of the same metaphor which Moses employs in his song, when he says that God

“carried his people in the same manner as an eagle bears her young on her wings.” (<053211>Deuteronomy 32:11.)

Or perhaps some may choose to refer it to sheep, as we have seen elsewhere, “He will lead those that are with young.” (<234011>Isaiah 40:11.) Yet it is more natural to view this as a comparison to a mother, who not only carries the child in the womb, but rears it till it arrive at full strength. The meaning may be thus summed up. “The people experienced the grace of God, not only once, when they were redeemed, but during the whole course of their life, so that to him alone ought to be ascribed all the benefits which they have received.” And therefore he adds —

All the days of the age; that is, in an uninterrupted succession of many years; for God is not wearied in doing good, nor is it only to a single age that he shews his kindness; for he has never ceased to adorn and enrich his Church with various gifts.

10. But they were rebellious. The Prophet now comes down to the second clause, in which he states that the Lord ceased to shew kindness to his people, because they revolted, and turned aside from him. The question turns on this point: “God exercised his kindness towards our fathers for a long time; why do not we experience the same kindness? Is he unlike himself?” By no means; but we ourselves, by our rebellion, refuse and even drive away his goodness. Yet the Prophet not only accuses the men of his own age, but likewise condemns former ages. We see how, even when they had Moses for their leader, they murmured against God and rebelled. (<021705>Exodus 17:5; <041101>Numbers 11:1; 20:3.)

Therefore he became an enemy to them. He shews that the effect of their rebellion was, that God, who had loved them tenderly, yet, in consequence of their obstinacy, “became an enemy to them.” Let them accuse themselves, therefore, for suffering the punishment of their transgressions; for God is by nature disposed to shew kindness, and nothing is more agreeable to him than to bestow his favors.

And they provoked his Holy Spirit. We are said to irritate “the Holy Spirit” by our wickedness; and this form of expression, after the manner of men, is intended to produce in us stronger abhorrence against sin, which provokes God’s wrath and hatred. Now, since it is the same Spirit that performs the work of our salvation, the Prophet suggests that God is alienated from us by our sins, which break asunder the bond of union. To this belongs the exhortation of Paul,

“Grieve not; the Spirit of God, by whom ye have been sealed to the day of redemption.” (<490430>Ephesians 4:30.)

It ought also to be observed here, that we have no reason for blaming men, who hate and persecute us, seeing that the Lord makes war with us, and punishes our transgressions by their hand. We ought therefore to accuse and condemn our transgressions; for they are the cause of all the evils which we endure.

11. And he remembered the days of old. This is the design of the chastisement, that the people may be roused from their lethargy, and may call to remembrance those things which they had formerly forgotten; for we are so intoxicated by prosperity that we altogether forget God. And therefore chastisements bring back this thought, which had been defaced in us, “Where is God who bestowed so many benefits on our fathers?” For I refer these things to the past time; and therefore I have translated lw[ (gnolam) “of old.” and not “of the age,” which would be unsuitable to this passage, seeing that he mentions those times in which Moses governed the people of God. Wherefore, the true meaning is, that the Jews, being wretchedly oppressed, thought of “the times of old,” in which the Lord displayed his power for defending his people. As to the opinion of some commentators, who refer it to God, as if he contended with the wickedness of the people, because he chose rather to bestow his favors improperly on ungrateful persons, than not to complete what he had begun, it appears to be too harsh and unnatural; and therefore the Prophet rather utters the groans and complaints of a wretched people, when they have learned from chastisements how miserable it is to lose God’s protection.

With the shepherd of his flock. By “the shepherd” he means Moses, and I see no good reason for translating it in the plural rather than the singular number. F1020

That put his Holy Spirit in the midst of him. He describes also the manner; namely, that he endowed him with a remarkable grace of the Holy Spirit; for “to put the Spirit in the midst of him” means nothing else than to display the power of his Spirit. Others prefer to view it as referring to the people; and I do not object to that opinion. But when the Lord chose Moses, and appointed him to be the leader of the whole people, in him especially the Lord is said to have “put his Spirit.” Now, he gave his Spirit to him for the benefit of the whole people, that he might be a distinguished minister of his grace, and might restore them to liberty. At the same time, the power of the Spirit of God was seen in the midst of the whole people.

12. Who led them. Here he goes on to describe the miraculous deliverance of the people, who were led out of Egypt under the guidance of Moses; and he goes on to relate the complaints which might occur to the minds of the afflicted Jews. Here we see two things connected; namely, the right hand of Moses and the arm of God’s majesty. The Lord employs the labors and ministry of men in such a manner that his praise and glory must not be in any degree diminished or obscured; for, while these things are transacted under Moses as the leader, everything is ascribed to God. Just as, when the ministers of the Gospel are said to “forgive sins,” (<432023>John 20:23,) which nevertheless belongs to God alone, does this detract from his authority and majesty? Not at all; for they are only his instruments, and lend their labor to God, to whom the undivided praise ought to be rendered. And indeed, what could the hand of a single man have accomplished, if it had not been wielded by the arm of God?

Accordingly, he expressly adds the design, that God performed miracles at that time, in order that he might gain for himself an everlasting name; and if we are not at liberty to deprive him of this, it will not be lawful to transfer to man even the smallest portion of praise.

13. Who made them walk through the depths. These things are added for the purpose of setting that benefit in a stronger light. He likewise brings forward comparisons, in order to describe that extraordinary power of God: “As a horse in the desert, As a beast into a plain;” that is, he led out his people as gently as if one were leading a horse into a plain. By the word “desert” is not meant the wilderness of Paran in which the people dwelt forty years; but, in accordance with the ordinary usage of the Hebrew tongue, it denotes pasture, in which herds and flocks wander at large. This is still more evident from the following verse, —

14. As a beast into a plain. Here, instead of “desert,” he makes use of the word “plain;” and the same meaning is drawn from what he says, that “the people walked through the depths without stumbling, as horses are wont to do in the desert.” In a word, he informs them that the Red Sea was no obstacle to the people marching through the midst of the depths, as if they were walking on level ground. F1021

A glorious name. This is in the same sense that he called it a little before “an everlasting name.” The people now argue with God, that if he once wished to obtain “a glorious name,” he must not now throw away all care about it; otherwise the remembrance of the benefits which he formerly bestowed on the fathers will be entirely blotted out.

15. Look down from heaven. After having, in the name of the whole people, related the benefits of former times, he now applies this to the present subject, and entreats the Lord to pay regard to his people.

Behold from the habitation of thy holiness. By these words he means that the power of God is not diminished, though this does not always appear; for we must supply a contrast, that God at that time might be said to be concealed, and did not shew himself to them as he had shewn himself to the fathers. “Although, therefore, we do not see thee, O Lord, and although thou hast withdrawn from us as if thou wert shut up in heaven, so that thou mayest seem to have altogether ceased to care about us, yet ‘look down from heaven, and from thy habitation’ behold our distresses.” Believers must differ from unbelievers in acknowledging a powerful and kind God, even when they perceive no tokens of his power or kindness; and thus, even when he is at a great distance, they nevertheless call on him; for God never ceases to care about his people, (<600507>1 Peter 5:7,) since he governs unceasingly every part of the world.

Where is thy zeal? By these questions believers appear in some measure to reproach God, as if he were not now moved by any affection toward them, or as if his power were diminished; but the Prophet’s meaning is different; for in thus extolling those benefits, his object is, as I have already remarked, to confirm the hope of believers for the future, that they may know that God is always like himself, and will never lay aside his care about his people. This will appear more clearly from what follows.

The multitude of bowels and of compassions denotes God’s vast goodness; for God displays and opens up his bowels, so to speak, when he exercises toward us bounty and kindness, which truly is so great that we cannot praise it in adequate language. Nor is it a new thing that believers, when oppressed by grief, expostulated familiarly with God for shutting up his bowels. They do indeed hold by this principle, that God is always compassionate, because he does not change his nature; and though they impute it to their sins that they do not experience him to be compassionate, yet, that they may not sink into despair, they ask how it is possible that God should treat them with severity, and, as if he had forgotten his natural disposition, should shew nothing but tokens of absolute displeasure? F1022

16. Surely thou art our Father. God permits us to reveal our hearts familiarly before him; for prayer is nothing else than the opening up of our heart before God; as the greatest alleviation is, to pour our cares, distresses, and anxieties into his bosom. “Roll thy cares on the Lord,” says David. (<193705>Psalm 37:5.) After having enumerated God’s benefits, from which his goodness and power are clearly seen, so that it is evident that it is nothing else than the sins of men that hinder them from feeling it as formerly, he returns to this consideration, that the goodness of God is nevertheless so great as to exceed the wickedness of men. He calls God a Father in the name of the Church; for all cannot call him thus, but it is the peculiar privilege of the Church to address him by a father’s name. Hence it ought to be inferred that Christ, as the first-born, or rather the only-begotten Son of God, always governed his Church; for in no other way than through him can God be called Father. And here we again see that believers do not contend with God, but draw an argument from his nature, that, by conquering temptation, they may strive to cherish good hope.

Though Abraham do not know us. Here a question arises, Why does he say that the patriarch does not know the people? Jerome thinks that this is done because they were degenerated, and therefore were unworthy of so high an honor; but that interpretation appears to me to be exceedingly unnatural. The true meaning is, “Though our fathers deny us, yet God will reckon us as children, and will act toward us as a Father.”

They who say that Abraham and other believers care no more about the affairs of men, torture by excessive ingenuity the words of the Prophet. I do not speak of the fact itself, but I say that those words do not prove that the saints have no care about us. The natural and true meaning is, “O Lord, that thou art our Father will be so sure and so firmly established, that even though all parentage and all relationship should cease among men, yet thou wilt not fail to be our Father. Sooner shall the rights of nature perish than thou shalt not act toward us as a Father, or the sacred adoption shall be infringed, which was founded on thy unchangeable decree, and ratified by the death of thine only-begotten Son.” F1023

Yet we may infer from this that holy men present themselves before God, and pray to him, in such a manner as not to look at any intercessions of others; for they are commanded to pray so as to rely on God’s fatherly kindness, and to lay aside every other confidence. And if the Prophet did not instruct the Jews, in order that God might listen to them, to turn their mind to Abraham and Jacob, to whom promises so numerous and so great had been given, assuredly much less ought we to resort, to Peter, and Paul, and others; for this is not a private prayer offered by a single individual or by a few persons, but the public and universal prayer of the whole Church, as if the Prophet laid down a general form. Besides, our confidence ought to be founded on God’s favor and kindness as a Father, so as to shut our eyes on all the intercessions of men, whether living or dead. In a word, believers profess that they do not gaze around in all directions, but rely on God alone.

It comes now to a question, Why did he pass by Isaac and mention in a special manner Abraham and Jacob? The reason is, that with those two persons the covenant was more solemnly ratified. Isaac was, indeed, a partaker of the covenant, but did not receive promises so large and so numerous.

Our Redeemer. Redemption is here described as a testimony of that adoption; for by this proof God manifested himself to be the Father of the people; and therefore boldly and confidently do believers call on God as their Father, because he gave a remarkable testimony of his fatherly kindness toward them, which encouraged them to confidence. But redemption alone would, not have been enough, if a promise had not likewise been added; and therefore, as he once redeemed them, he promised that he would always be their Father.

From everlasting is thy name. By the word “everlasting” F1024 is pointed out the stability and continuance of his fatherly name, for we did not deserve the name of children; but his will, by which he once adopted us to be children, is unchangeable. Since, therefore, the Lord has an eternal name, it follows that the title and favor which are connected with that eternity and flow from it, shall be durable and eternal. F1025

17. Why didst thou cause as to wander, O Jehovah, from thy ways? Because these modes of expression appear to be rough and harsh, some think that unbelievers are here introduced as murmuring against God and uttering blasphemies, with the rage and obstinacy of men who are in a state of despair. But the connection in which these words occur does not at all admit of that interpretation; for the Prophet points out the fruit that would result from the calamities and afflictions of the Jews, because, having been subdued and tamed, they no longer are fierce or indulge in their vices. They are therefore ashamed that in time past they departed so far from the right way, and they acknowledge their own fault.

And indeed when they trace their sins to the wrath of God, they do not intend to free themselves from blame, or to set aside their guilt. But the Prophet employs a mode of expression which is of frequent occurrence; for in the Scriptures it is frequently said that God drives men into error, (<530211>2 Thessalonians 2:11;) “gives them up to a reprobate mind,” (<450128>Romans 1:28;) and “hardens them.” (<450918>Romans 9:18.) When believers speak in this manner, they do not intend to make God the author of error or of sin, as if they were innocent, or to free themselves from blame; but they look higher, and rather acknowledge that it is by their own fault that they are estranged from God and deprived of his Spirit, and that this is the reason why they are plunged into every kind of evils.

Those who say that God leads us into error by privation, that is, by depriving us of his Spirit, do not perceive the actual design; for God himself is said to harden and to blind, when he gives up men to be blinded by Satan, who is the minister and executioner of his wrath. Without this we would be exposed to the rage of Satan; but, since he can do nothing without the command of God, to whose dominion he is subject, there will be no impropriety in saying that God is the author of blinding and hardening, as Scripture also affirms in many passages. (<450918>Romans 9:18.) And yet it cannot be said or declared that God is the author of sin, because he punishes the ingratitude of men by blinding them in this manner.

Thus believers here acknowledge that God has forsaken them, but that it is by their own fault;  F1026 and they acknowledge God’s righteous vengeance against them. In like manner, when Moses says that “God hath not hitherto given to the people eyes to see and a heart to understand,” (<052904>Deuteronomy 29:4,) he does not lay the blame on God, but reminds the Jews whence they should seek to obtain a remedy for that stupidity of which they had been convicted. Yet it may appear as if here they aimed at something else, by inquiring into the cause and remonstrating with God, that he ought to have acted differently towards them and treated them less harshly. But I reply, that believers always look at the goodness of God, even when they acknowledge that they suffer justly on account of their sins.

Some refer these words to the captivity; as if believers complained that God permitted them to languish so long in captivity. As if he had said, “The chief cause of their obstinacy is, that the Lord does not permit them to partake of his grace.” Believers are troubled by a dangerous temptation, when they see wicked men pursuing their career without being punished, and are almost driven by it to despair; as it is beautifiully expressed by David. (<19B503>Psalm 115:3.) But I think that the Prophet’s meaning is more general; for believers acknowledge that they “wandered,” because they were not governed by the Spirit of God; and they do not; expostulate with God, but desire to have that Spirit, by whom their fathers were guided, and from whom they obtained all prosperity.

And hast caused our heart to depart from thy fear. jyqt, (takshiach,) is rendered by some, hast hardened; but as that would not agree with the words, “in thy fear,” I have preferred to translate it, “Hast caused to depart;” for jq, (kashach,) also signifies “to remove and place at a distance.”

Return on account of thy servants. Some think that these words relate to the whole people, as Scripture frequently gives the appellation of “servants of God” to all the citizens of the Church. But I think that they relate literally to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that is much more probable; not that the people relied on their intercession, but because the Lord had made a covenant with them, which they should transmit from hand to hand to their posterity. Thus they do not hold out these patriarchs as men, but as ministers and depositaries or messengers of the covenant which was the foundation of their confidence. In the same manner, in that psalm,

“Lord, remember David,” (<19D201>Psalm 132:1,)

the name of the dead patriarch is mentioned to God, not because the saints thought that he would be their intercessor, but that the promise given to a single individual, as to establishing the kingdom in his family for ever, belongs to the body of the people.

The Papists eagerly seize on these words, as if they were a proof of the intercessions of the saints. But how easy it is to reply may be easily seen from the true interpretation; for the fathers are mentioned, not because they had a right to obtain anything for them, or because they now intercede, but because with them was formed a gracious covenant, which belongs not only to themselves, but to all their posterity.

To the tribes of thine inheritance. I have added the preposition To, which was understood, in order that the meaning might be more easy and obvious. It is a customary form of expression among the Hebrews, “Return the tribes,” instead of “Return to the tribes;” as if he had said, “Return to a state of friendship with thy people.” Hence it is evident that what was formerly said had no other object than that the people urged God to the exercise of mercy by representing to God their distresses and calamities. And in this manner we must come to God; that is, by recounting former benefits and laying before him our afflictions, if we desire to be delivered from them.

He employs the word Inheritance, because God hath chosen that people to be his heritage; as if he had said, “Where shall thy people be, if we perish?” Not that the Lord was bound to that people, but that he had given his promise to them. F1027 Accordingly, the people venture to remind God of his promise and to offer earnest prayer, because he had laid himself under a voluntary obligation both to the fathers and to posterity. Now, since all the promises are ratified and confirmed in Christ, (<470120>2 Corinthians 1:20,) and since we possess the reality of all things, we ought to be fortified by stronger confidence; for not only was the covenant made in his hand, but it was ratified and sealed by his blood. To the ancient fathers also he was indeed the Mediator, but we have everything clearer and plainer; because they were still kept amidst the darker shadows.

18. For a little time. It is wonderful that the people should call it “a little time;” for fourteen hundred years had elapsed since the people began to possess that land. But we must take into account the promise by which he said that the seed of Abraham should have it as an everlasting inheritance; and therefore that was a short time, when compared with eternity. (<011708>Genesis 17:8; 48:4.) Believers, therefore, represent to God the shortness of that time; not that they accuse him of insincerity, but that he may remember the promise and covenant, and may have more regard to his own goodness than to the chastisements which they justly deserved. Thus the ancient Church complains that

“her strength was weakened in the journey, that her days were shortened, and prays that she may not be cut off in the middle of her course,” (<19A223>Psalm 102:23, 24,)

that is, because the fullness of age depended on the coming of Christ.

Our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. This was a much heavier complaint, that wicked men had profaned the land which the Lord had consecrated to himself. Undoubtedly this was far more distressing to the people than the rest of their calamities, and justly; for we ought not to care so much about ourselves as about religion and the worship of God. And this is also the end of redemption, that there may be a people that praises the name of the Lord and worships him in a right manner.

19. We have been of old. The words of the Prophet admit of two meanings. Some view this passage in such a light as if the people argued with God on this ground, that they were elected at that time when the rest of the nations were rejected, and that this covenant was ratified “from of old,” that is, for a long period. Another meaning, which I prefer, is this, that the people argue with God, and complain that they seem as if they did not differ at all from unbelievers; that is, because they receive from him no assistance or relief in adversity, which is unreasonable and improper. This statement is remarkable and worthy of notice; for, whenever we are oppressed beyond measure with adversity, we are permitted to complain to God, and to represent to him our calling, that he may render assistance, and shew how wide a difference there is between us and strangers.

On whom thy name hath not been called. This is of the same import with what goes before; for it means that the calling of God must not be made void. And indeed the Lord does not wish that we should call upon him in vain; for prayers would be unprofitable and useless, if the Lord took no care of us. Now, the Church is distinguished by this mark, that “his name is called upon her.” Unbelievers cannot call upon him; for there is no access to him but through the word, of which they have no knowledge; and therefore, wherever there is faith, there is also calling on him; and if there be no faith, it is certain that there is no hope or confidence.


CHAPTER 64.

Go To Isaiah 64:1-12

1. O that thou wouldest rend the heavens! The particle awl (lu) appears to me, in this passage, to denote a wish; for, although it has many significations, yet the context shews that this signification is more appropriate to this passage than any other. Here believers burst forth into earnest prayer, as usually happens, when in sore adversity we do not find plain terms to be sufficiently forcible for our purpose.

God is said to “rend the heavens,” when he unexpectedly gives some uncommon and striking proof of his power; and the reason of this mode of expression is, not only that men, when they are hard pressed, commonly look up to heaven, from which they expect assistance, but that miracles, by interrupting the order of nature, open up for themselves an unusual path. Now, when God renders no assistance, he appears to be shut up in heaven, and to disregard what is taking place on earth. For this reason he is said to open and “rend the heavens,” when he holds out to us some testimony of his presence; because otherwise we think that he is at a great distance from us.

That thou wouldest come down. This expression, like the former, is adapted to the estimation of our flesh; for God does not need to move from one place to another, but accommodates himself to us, that we may understand those subjects better. F1028 (<011105>Genesis 11:5; 18:21.)

Let the mountains flow down. That is,

“Let thy majesty be openly displayed, and let the elements, struck by the perception of it, yield and obey.” (<191811>Psalm 18:11.)

This will appear more plainly from what immediately follows.

2. As by the burning of a melting fire, F1029 the fire hath made the water to boil. All this might be read either in the future or in the subjunctive; as if he had said, “O Lord, if thou camest down, the nations would tremble at thy presence; thine enemies would instantly be melted away.” But I think that the translation which I have given is more simple; for it is very certain that the Prophet here alludes to Mount Sinai, where the Lord openly revealed himself to the people. Hence we see also the gross absurdity of the division of this chapter; F1030 since those events are related in support of that prayer which ought rather to have been placed at the beginning of the chapter. F1031

We have formerly seen that the prophets, when they relate that God assisted his people, bring forward an instance in the history of redemption. F1032 Whenever therefore the prophets mention this history, they include all the benefits that were ever bestowed by God on his people; not only when he delivered them from the tyranny of Pharaoh, when he appeared to them in Mount Sinai, but also when, during forty years, he supplied them with all that was necessary in the wilderness, when he drove out their enemies, and led them into the possession of the land of Canaan. In a word, they include all the testimonies by which he formerly proved himself to be gracious to his people and formidable to his enemies.

He says that “the melting fire made the waters boil,” because, contrary to custom, fire and lightning were mingled with violent showers; as if he had said that the fire of God melted the hardest bodies, and that the waters were consumed by its heat. To the same purpose is what he adds, that “the mountains flowed at his presence;” for he opened up a passage for his people through the most dreadful obstacles.

3. Terrible things which we did not look for. He says that the Israelites saw what they did not at all expect; for, although God had forewarned them, and had given them experience of his power in many ways, yet that alarming spectacle of which he speaks goes far beyond our senses and the capacity of the human mind.

4. From of old they have not heard. This verse confirms what has been already said, that believers do not here ask anything strange or uncommon, but only that God may shew himself to be to them what he formerly shewed himself to be to the fathers, and that he may continue to exercise his kindness, and that, since he has been wont to assist his people, and to give them undoubted tokens of his presence, he may not cease in future to cause his strength and power to shine forth more and more brightly. He represents believers as praying to God in such a manner that they strengthen themselves by the remembrance of the past, and betake themselves; with greater courage to God’s assistance.

Eye hath not seen a God besides thee. The Prophet’s design unquestionably is, to celebrate God’s immense goodness, by relating the numerous benefits which he bestowed upon his people in ancient times; and this kind of praise is highly magnificent, when, rising to rapturous admiration, of them, he exclaims that there is no God besides him, and that those things which the Lord has carried into effect for the sake of his people are unheard-of and uncommon. But there are two ways in which these words may be read, for yhla (elohim) may either be in the accusative or in the vocative case. “O Lord, no one hath seen besides thee what thou doest for them that wait for thee.” But another reading is more generally approved, “No one hath ever seen or ever heard of such a God.” Yet in this reading we must supply the particle of comparison, as; for otherwise the sentence would be incomplete. The verb h[y (yagnaseh) is put absolutely, “No ear hath heard, and no eye hath seen, such a God as doeth such things.” And thus God is distinguished from idols, from which superstitious men imagine that they obtain all good things; for they are the mere inventions of men, and can do neither good nor harm, seeing that God bestows on his worshippers benefits of every kind.

Paul appears to explain this passage differently, and to torture it to a different purpose, and even quotes it in different words, that is, because he followed the Greek version. (<460209>1 Corinthians 2:9.) In this respect the Apostles were not squeamish; for they paid more attention to the matter than to the words, and reckoned it enough to draw the attention of the reader to a passage of Scripture, from which might be obtained what they taught. As to the addition which Paul appears to have made of his own accord, “Nor hath entered into the heart of man what God hath prepared for them that love him,” he did so for the purpose of explanation; for he added nothing that does not fully agree with the Prophet’s doctrine.

That we may understand better how thoroughly he agrees with the Prophet, we must understand his design. In that passage he treats of the doctrine of the Gospel, which he demonstrates to surpass the capacity of the human understanding; for it contains knowledge that is widely different and far removed from the perception of our flesh, and, in short, is “hidden wisdom,” so that Paul is justly led to view it with astonishment. And as the Prophet, when he takes into consideration the wonderful acts of God’s kindness, exclaims, like one who is lost in amazement, that nothing like this was ever heard of; so, in the most excellent of all benefits, namely, that in which Christ is offered to us by the Gospel, we may exclaim in the same manner, “O Lord, what thou bestowest on thy people exceeds all the capacity of the human mind: no eye, no ear, no senses, no mind can reach such loftiness.” Thus Paul applies this passage admirably to his reasoning, and does not make an improper use of the statement made by the Prophet when he elevates above the world that peculiar grace which God bestows on his Church.

There remains but one difficulty, namely, that Paul applies to spiritual blessings what the Prophet here says about blessings of a temporal nature. But we may say that Isaiah here looks merely at the cause of God’s benefits, though he has in his eye the condition of the present life; for all the benefits that we receive from God, for the sake of food and nourishment, are proofs of his fatherly kindness toward us; and it is the peculiar excellence of faith, to rise from visible favors to those which are invisible. Although therefore the Prophet appears to speak of external deliverance and other benefits of this life, yet he rises higher, and looks chiefly at those things which belonged especially to the people of God. What stupidity would it be, if, while we enjoy God’s benefits, we did not consider the fountain itself, that is, his fatherly kindness! Ordinary favors are enjoyed indiscriminately by the good and the bad; but that favor with which he embraces us belongs especially to citizens. The consequence is, that we do not merely observe those things which fall under the senses of men, but contemplate the cause itself. Although therefore neither eyes nor ears reach so far as to comprehend the grace of adoption, by which the Lord testifies that he is our Father, yet he reveals it by the testimony of his Spirit.

It is even probable that the Prophet, when he spoke of a particular instance of God’s kindness, was elevated, by means of it, to a general reflection; for, in considering God’s works, it was frequent and customary for good men to pass from a single instance to the whole class. In that way might this single but remarkable instance of the divine goodness raise the mind of the Prophet to so high a pitch as to meditate on that infinite abundance of blessings which is laid up for believers in heaven. We even see clearly that this commendation includes the gracious covenant by which God adopted the children of Abraham into the hope of eternal life. (<011707>Genesis 17:7.) What has been said amounts to this: “Seeing that the goodness and power of God are so great, we have no reason to distrust him; but we ought to place our confidence in him, so as to hope that he will assuredly assist us.” And such is the design of those excellent benefits which are here mentioned by the Prophet.

5. Thou hast met. He proceeds with the same subject; for the people deplore their hard lot, that they feel no alleviation in their adversity, although formerly God was wont to stretch out the hand to the fathers. Believers, therefore, speak in this manner: “Thou wast wont to meet our fathers; now thy face is turned away from us; and thou appearest to be irreconcilable:, because we gain nothing by calling on thee. Whence comes this diversity, as if thy nature had been changed, and thou wert now different from what thou hast been?” They next add, and make an acknowledgment, that they are punished justly, because “they have sinned.” I have formerly stated that nothing is better in adversity than to remember God’s benefits, and not only those which we have ourselves experienced, but likewise those which are related in Scripture; for we cannot be armed by a stronger shield against temptations of every kind.

This verse, in my opinion, is inaccurately explained by those who think that we ought to read those words as closely connected, Him that rejoiceth and doeth righteousness, as if he had said, “Thou hast met them that willingly serve thee, and whose highest pleasure is to do what is right.” I think that rejoicing denotes here those who were glad in prosperity; for at that time the people were in sadness and mourning. There is an implied contrast. “Formerly thou wast wont to meet the fathers, before they were distressed by any affliction, and to cheer them by thy approach; now thou art far distant, and permittest us to languish in mourning and grief.”

In thy ways they remembered thee. In accordance with what he has now said, he adds that they “remembered God,” because they enjoyed his present grace, and felt that he was the author and director of their salvation; and so by “the ways of God,” he means prosperity; either that in this way he was near to them, when he treated them softly and gently as his children, or because God is by nature inclined to acts of kindness. But since he said that God was wont to “meet him that doeth righteousness,” the “remembrance” may relate to the practice of piety, that is, that they devoted themselves earnestly to the worship of God; and so it will be an explanation of the former clause, for the prophets frequently confirm by a variety of expressions what they have formerly said. To “remember” God, is to be captivated by the pleasant remembrance of him, so that we shall desire nothing more, and to place all our happiness in him. There is nothing that delights us more than the remembrance of the mercy of God; and, on the other hand, if we feel that God is angry, the mention of him fills us with alarm.

And we have sinned. The reason is assigned; for, when they find that God is so unlike what he formerly was, they do not murmur against him, but throw all the blame on themselves. Let us learn from this, that we ought never to think of the chastisements which the Lord inflicts, without at the same time calling to mind our sins, that we may confess that we are justly punished, and may acknowledge our guilt.

In them is perpetuity. In this passage lw[ (gnolam) denotes nothing else than “long duration;” but it may refer either to “sins” or to “the ways of the Lord.” To sins it may refer in this way, “Though we obstinately persisted in our sins, and deserved that thou shouldst destroy us a thousand times, yet hitherto we have been saved by thy mercy.” If we understand it to relate to “the ways of the Lord,” it will assign the reason why the people did not perish, because “the ways of the Lord” are steadfast and perpetual, and his mercy never comes to an end; and that meaning appears to me to agree best with this passage. Some supply the words, that “the age,” or “perpetuity,” is founded on the ways of the Lord. But I prefer to take the words in their literal acceptation, as when David says that the Lord “is not angry but for a moment,” (<193005>Psalm 30:5,) that he is easy to be reconciled, and always compassionate; for his anger is not suddenly kindled, or with immoderate rage, after the manner of men, but he is unchangeable in benevolence and favor.

And we shall be saved, or, we have been saved. We have not yet got at the whole of the Prophet’s statement; for he says that the people “are saved,” although they had been led into captivity, as into a grave, and deplored their calamity. On that account I consider the preterite to be put for the future, for it is rather a wish or a prayer than an affirmation. Nor do the saints boast that they have obtained salvation, but, deploring their misery, they betake themselves to God’s everlasting mercy; and consequently, they praise that which they wish, and not that which they have already obtained.

6. We have all been as the unclean. The believers go on in their complaint; for they deplore their condition, because God appears to take no account of them. Hebrew writers are not agreed as to the meaning of the words yd[ dgb (beged gniddim.)  F1033 Yet it is certain that it denotes something which is vile and worthless, and which, on account of its filthiness, stinks in the noses of men. But here two things ought to be observed; first, that believers confess their guilt, and are justly punished for it; and, secondly, that they nevertheless complain of the severity of the punishments which they endure, not to blame God, but to move him to compassion; just as a culprit, when he endeavors to mitigate the severity of a judge, lays before him his own distresses and calamities. Some commentators torture this passage, by alleging that the Prophet, when he speaks of the pollutions of sins, describes all Jews without exception, though there still remained some of them who were sincere worshippers of God. But there are no good grounds for this; for the Prophet does not speak of individuals, but of the whole body, which, being trodden under foot by all men, and subjected to the utmost indignity, he compares to a filthy garment.

There are some who frequently quote this passage, in order to prove that so far are our works from having any merit in them, that they are rotten and loathsome in the sight of God. But this appears to me to be at variance with the Prophet’s meaning, who does not speak of the whole human race, but describes the complaint of those who, having been led into captivity, experienced the wrath of the Lord against them, and therefore, acknowledged that they and their righteousnesses were like a filthy garment. And first, he exhorts them to a confession of their sin, that they may acknowledge their guilt; and next, that they should nevertheless ask pardon from God, the manner of obtaining which is, that, while we complain that we are wretched and distressed, we at the same time acknowledge that we are justly punished for our sins.

And we all fade as a leaf. This is a very beautiful comparison, which shews that men utterly fade and decay when they feel that God is angry with them; as is admirably described in <199006>Psalm 90:6; 103:16. F1034 Justly, therefore, are we compared to leaves; for “our iniquities, like the wind, carry us away.”

7. There is none that calleth on thy name. He confirms what was formerly said; for he exhorts believers, even though God’s punishment of them appears to be severe, still to believe that they deserve such a punishment. Heinous sins are mentioned by him; and though it would be tedious to go over all of them in detail, he points out the fountain itself, and says that the worship of God is neglected. Under the word “calleth on,” he includes, as is customary in Scripture, the whole worship of God; for the most important part of God’s worship is to “call upon” him, and to testify our confidence in him. Prayers and supplications, undoubtedly, were always practiced among them; but, because the heart was far removed, he reckons all pretended ceremonies as of no value.

Or that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee. He now explains more clearly the former clause, by saying that no one earnestly applies his mind, or gives his endeavor to seek God, but that all are consumed and wasted away through their own slothfulness. And first, he shews that nothing is more desirable than to be perfectly joined to God; for, when we are alienated from him, everything must go ill with us. We are indolent and sluggish by nature; and therefore we need to have spurs applied to us. Seeing that by nature we indulge our slothfulness, we must listen to the advice of the Prophet so as not to become utterly stupid; for, otherwise he in his turn will reject us, or contemptuously drive us away. The Prophet describes the miserable condition of the people, in which there was no desire to seek God, and no means were used to stir up the heart to godliness.

Thou hast made us to languish. They again complain that they are overwhelmed by the severity of distress, and Obtain from God no alleviation; for Isaiah asserts these things in the name of the whole people, and prays to God not to permit them any longer to languish amidst so great miseries.

8. And now, O Jehovah. After having complained of their miseries, by which they were almost overwhelmed, they now more openly ask pardon from God and a mitigation of their distresses, and with greater boldness plead with God that still they are his children. Adoption alone could encourage them to cherish favorable hopes, that they might not cease to rely on their Father, though overwhelmed by the load of afflictions. And this order should be carefully observed; for, in order that we may be truly humbled in our hearts, we need to be cast down, and laid low, and almost crushed. But when despair seizes us, we must lay hold on this altar of consolation, that, “since God has been pleased to elect us to be his children, we ought to expect salvation from him, even when matters are at the worst.” Thus, with a view to the gracious covenant, the Israelites affirm that they are the children of God, in order that they may experience his fatherly kindness, and that his promise may not be made void.

We are the clay, and thou our potter. By means of a comparison they magnify the grace of God, and acknowledge that they were formed of despicable clay; for they do not seek the ground of superiority in themselves, but in their origin celebrate the mercy of God, who out of mean and filthy clay determined to create children to himself.

We all are the work of thy hands. Of the same import as the former is this second clause, in which God is called the Creator, and his people are called the work of his hands; because to God alone they ascribe all that they are and all that they have. This is true gratitude; for, so long as men advance the smallest claim to anything as their own, God is defrauded of his right. Now, Isaiah speaks not of the ordinary creation of men, but of regeneration, on account of which believers are especially called “the work of God;” as we have frequently stated in the exposition of other passages: F1035 Here they acknowledge a remarkable act of God’s kindness, in having elected them to be his people, and adorned them with benefits so numerous and so great.

9. Be not angry, O Jehovah, beyond measure. F1036 The people pray that the severity of punishment and the fierceness of the wrath of God may be abated; not that God goes beyond measure, but because they would be altogether overwhelmed, if he should choose to act toward them with the utmost strictness of justice. They therefore ask a mitigation of punishment; as Jeremiah also says, “Chasten me, O Lord, but in judgment,” (<241024>Jeremiah 10:24,) that is, moderately; for he draws a contrast between “judgment” and “wrath;” as it is elsewhere said that God chastises us “by the hand of man,” (<100714>2 Samuel 7:14,) because he does not put forth the power of his hand to punish us, lest we should be utterly destroyed.

Neither remember iniquity for ever. It deserves notice that they do not absolutely shrink from the judgment of God, or pray that they may wholly escape from it, but present themselves to be corrected, so as not to faint under the strokes. And this is the reason why they desire to have the remembrance of their iniquities blotted out; for, if God do not mercifully pardon them, there will be no end of the chastisements.

We all are thy people. The Prophet repeats what he said a little before, that God elected the family of Abraham; because the best ground for the confident expectation of obtaining pardon was, that God, who is true to his promises, cannot east away those whom he had once elected. By employing the word all, he does not speak of each individual, as I formerly remarked, but includes the whole body of the Church. Although the greater part had withdrawn through wicked revolt, yet still it was true that the Jews were God’s peculiar people; and this prayer was offered, not for every one of them without distinction, but only for the children of God who were still left. F1037 The people do not plead their own merits before God, but betake themselves to the covenant of free grace, by which they had been adopted. This is the sure and only refuge of believers, this is the remedy for all evils; and that is the reason why Moses and the other prophets repeat it so frequently. (<023213>Exodus 32:13.)

10. The cities of thy holiness. The Church again recounts her miseries, that she may move God to mercy and obtain pardon. She says that the cities have been reduced to “a wilderness;” and, for the sake of amplification, adds that “Zion is a desert;” because it was the royal residence, in which God wished that men should call upon him. She adds also Jerusalem, in which Zion was; for it appeared to be shameful that a city, which God had consecrated to himself, should be ruined and destroyed by enemies.

She calls them “cities of holiness,” because, as the Lord had sanctified a people, so he also wished that the cities, and even the whole country, should be consecrated to himself. Seeing, therefore, that the cities were dedicated to God, they are justly called “cities of his holiness;” for in them God reigned, and men called upon him. In the same manner we may at the present day give the appellation of “cities of God’s holiness” to those which, laying aside superstitions, worship him in a sincere and right manner.

11. The house of our sanctuary and of our glory. F1038 It is called “the sanctuary of the people” in a different sense from that in which it is called “the sanctuary of God;” for, being the testimony of a sacred union between God and the people, it is often called “God’s holy house;” that is, because it corresponds to his holiness. But now, in a passive sense, believers call it “their sanctuary,” because from it they must seek their sanctification.

This is more plainly confirmed by the words, “of our glory.” They acknowledge that they have nothing in which they ought to glory, except the temple, in which God wished to be adored and worshipped. And yet we see that this glorying was often without foundation, and for that reason was reproved by Jeremiah,

“Trust not in words of falsehood, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are we.” (<240704>Jeremiah 7:4.)

But while the glorying of those who were proud and insolent on account of empty titles was without foundation, yet true and well-grounded was the glorying of those who embraced with the heart the Lord’s ordinance, and, relying on the testimony of his word, knew that they dwelt under the shadow of him who had reared for himself a constant dwelling-place in the midst of them; for the temple was built by the command of the Lord, so that the Jews might justly glory in having God for the protector of their salvation.

In which our fathers praised thee. Because the worship of God was at that time corrupted and adulterated, and almost all had revolted to superstition and ungodliness, for this reason he mentions not the present but the former age. As if he had said, “Though we have not rendered to thee such worship as we ought to have rendered, yet this is the temple in which our fathers worshipped thee in purity; wilt thou permit it to be profaned and destroyed? Will not this disgrace recoil on thyself, since it relates to the worship of thy name?” Here the Jews say nothing about their life, and bring forward no excuses, and rather confess their guilt, but offer their worship to God, that he may be mindful of his covenant, and not allow his promises to be made void. This example ought to be imitated by all believers. The word “praise” denotes thanksgiving; as if he had said, “In that temple, the melancholy ruins of which draw forth mourning and tears from all believers, the praises of God at one time resounded, when he treated his people with kindness and gentleness. F1039

12. Wilt thou restrain thyself for these things, O Jehovah? The people strengthen themselves by assured confidence, that God will not permit his glory to be trampled under foot, though men provoke him by innumerable transgressions. This can yield no consolation of any kind to hypocrites, but relates solely to those who are moved by a true sense of the mercy of God. Such persons believe and are fully persuaded, though death threaten them, that God will nevertheless have regard to his own glow, and will at least be gracious to the remnant, that the seed may not perish.

And wilt thou afflict us beyond measure?  F1040 He shews that it is impossible for God not to be mindful of his mercy; for “he cannot deny himself.” (<550213>2 Timothy 2:13.) But our salvation is connected with his glory. This ought to be carefully observed; for, after having spoken of the glory of God, he adds, “Thou wilt not afflict us beyond measure.” The Lord will therefore restrain his chastisements; for his glory, which he cannot disregard, is deeply involved in our deliverance from death. To this prayer, therefore, let us betake ourselves whenever we are attacked by our enemies; not in the manner of hypocrites, (who haughtily boast of the glory of God, of which they have no experience whatever,) but with repentance and faith, that we may actually obtain the fruit of that glory.


CHAPTER 65.

Go To Isaiah 65:1-25

1. I have manifested myself. The Prophet now passes on to another doctrine; for he shews that God has good reason for rejecting and casting off the Jews. It is because they have profited nothing by either warnings or threatenings to be brought back from their errors into the right way. But that they might not think that the Lord’s covenant would on that account be made void, he adds that he will have another people which formerly was no people, and that where he was formerly unknown, his name Shall be well known and highly celebrated. The Jews looked on this as monstrous, and reckoned it to be altogether inconsistent with the covenant which the Lord made with Abraham, (<011707>Genesis 17:7,) if such a benefit were extended to any others than his posterity. But the Prophet intended to strip them of the foolish confidence of imagining that God was bound to the posterity of Abraham; for the Lord had not restricted himself to them but on an absolute condition, and if this were violated by them, they would be deprived, like covenant-breakers and traitors, of all the advantage derived from the covenant. Nor was this promise made to Abraham alone, and to those who were descended from him, but to all who should be ingrafted by faith into his family. But it will be more convenient to begin with the second verse, in which he explains the cause of the rejection, that we may more fully understand the Prophet’s design. F1041

2. I have stretched out my hands. He accuses the Jews, and complains of their ingratitude and rebellion; and in this manner he proves that there is no reason why they should say that the Lord does them wrong if he bestow his grace on others. The Jews conducted themselves proudly and insolently toward God, as if they had been elected through their own merit. On account of their ingratitude and insolence the Lord rejects them as unworthy, and complains that to no purpose did he “stretch out his hands” to draw and bring them back to him.

By “the stretching out of the hands” he means the daily invitation. There are various ways in which the Lord “stretches out his hands to us;” for he draws us to him, either effectually or by the word. In this passage it must relate chiefly to the word. The Lord never speaks to us without at the same time “stretching out his hand” to join us to himself, or without causing us to feel, on the other hand, that he is near to us. He even embraces us, and shews the anxiety of a father, so that, if we do not comply with his invitation, it must be owing entirely to our own fault. The heinousness of the guilt is greatly aggravated by long continuance, that, during a long succession of ages, God did not cease to send one Prophet after another, and even, as he says elsewhere, to rise early in the morning and continue the same care till the evening. (<240713>Jeremiah 7:13; 11:7; 35:14.)

To a rebellious people. First, he calls them “rebellious” or disobedient, but immediately afterwards he declares what is the nature of that rebellion, namely, that the people walk after their own thoughts. Nothing is more displeasing to God than for men to be aujqa>deiv “self-willed,” (<610210>2 Peter 2:10;) that is, devoted to their own inclinations; for he commands us to surrender our own judgment, that we may be capable of receiving the true doctrine. The Lord therefore testifies that it was not owing to him that he did not retain and continue to exercise towards them his wonted favor, but that they alienated themselves through their own madness, because they chose to abide by their own natural inclinations rather than to follow God as their leader.

Having pointed out the cause of this rejection, we must come to the calling of the Gentiles, who succeeded in the room of the Jews; for that is undoubtedly the subject treated in the first verse. The Lord had long ago foretold it by Moses, so that they ought not to have thought that there was anything new in this prediction.

“They have provoked me by that which is not God; they have moved me to anger by their vanities; and I also will provoke them by that which is not a people, by a foolish nation I will enrage them.” (<053221>Deuteronomy 32:21.)

Finally, the Prophet now threatens the same thing which was afterwards foretold by Christ when that blinding was at hand.

“The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation which shall bring forth fruit.” (<402143>Matthew 21:43.)

1. To them that asked not. F1042 When he says that God manifested himself “to them that asked not,” he shews that the Gentiles were anticipated by the grace of God, and that they brought no merit or excellence as an inducement to God to give it to them. This obviously agrees with that passage which we quoted, in which Moses calls them “a foolish nation.” (<053221>Deuteronomy 32:21.) Thus, under a universal type, he describes what is the nature of men before the Lord anticipates them by his mercy; for they neither call on the Lord, nor seek him, nor think about him. And this passage ought to be carefully observed, in order to establish the certainty of our calling, which may be said to be the key that opens to us the kingdom of heaven; for by means of it peace and repose are given to our consciences, which would always be in doubt and uncertainty if they did not rest on such testimonies. We see, therefore, that it did not happen accidentally or suddenly that we were called by God and reckoned to be his people; for it had been predicted long before in many passages. From this passage Paul earnestly contends for the calling of the Gentiles, and says that Isaiah boldly exclaims and affirms that the Gentiles have been called by God, because he spoke more clearly and loudly than the circumstances of Ms own time required. Here we see, therefore, that we were called by an eternal purpose of God long before the event happened.

Behold I, behold I. By repeating these words twice, he confirms still more the declaration that God hath manifested himself in so friendly a manner to foreign and heathen nations, that they do not doubt that he dwells in the midst of them. And, indeed, that sudden change needed to be confirmed, because it was difficult to be believed; although by that very novelty the Prophet intended to magnify the unexpected grace of God. The meaning may be thus summed up: “When the Lord shall have offered himself to the Gentiles, and they shall have been joined to the holy family of Abraham, there will be some Church in the world, after the Jews have been driven out.” Now we see that all that is here predicted by the Prophet was fulfilled by the Gospel, by which the Lord actually offered and manifested himself to foreign nations. Whenever, therefore, this voice of the Gospel is sounded in our ears, or when we record the word of the Lord, let us know that the Lord is present, and offers himself, that we may know him familiarly, and may call on him boldly and with assured confidence.

3. A people that provoketh me. Here he describes and illustrates more largely in what respects the Jews were rebellious against God. It was because they had forsaken the command of God, and had polluted themselves by various superstitions. He had said a little before, (<236317>Isaiah 63:17,) that the Jews had estranged themselves from God, because they wandered after their inventions; and now he points out the fruit of that licentiousness, that, by giving a loose rein to their thoughts, they overturned the pure worship of God. And undoubtedly this is the origin of all superstitions, that men are delighted with their own inventions, and choose to be wise in their own eyes rather than restrain their senses in obedience to God. In vain do men bring forward their devotions, as they call them, and their good intentions, which God holds in such abhorrence and detestation that they who have followed them are guilty of breaking the covenant and deserting from their allegiance; for there is nothing which we ought to undertake of our own accord, but we ought to obey God when he commands. In a word, the beginning and perfection of lawful worship is a readiness to obey.

By the word “provoke” he describes the impudence of the people, who deliberately, as it were, provoked God, and had no reverence for his majesty so as to submit to his authority. And he heightens the description by saying, To my face; for since God may be said to be present and actually beheld by those whom he warns by his word, they sin more heinously, and are guilty of greater impudence and rebellion, than those who never heard the word.

That sacrificeth in gardens, and offereth incense on bricks. He mentions the “gardens” which they had consecrated to their idols, and says that they provoked him by them. Some think that “bricks” are mentioned by way of contempt, and are indirectly contrasted with the altar on which alone God wished that they should sacrifice; and accordingly they think that here he mentions the roofs on which superstitious persons were wont to offer sacrifices; for they were made of “bricks.” But I think that it means simply the altars which they had built for idols; for, although they were not without the plausible pretense of wishing to imitate that form of altar which God had prescribed, yet God abhorred it, because it was contrary to his word.

4. Who dwell in the graves. He enumerates other kinds of superstitions; and although, in consequence of its brevity, the description is obscure, yet we may easily learn from other passages what was the nature of them. For as necromancy was generally practiced among heathen nations, the Jews also consulted demons “in graves and deserts,” instead of consulting God alone, which they ought to have done; and, as if they were seeking answers from the dead, they took pleasure in being deceived by the illusions of demons. F1043 How solemnly the Lord had forbidden it, appears very clearly from <051810>Deuteronomy 18:10, 11, and other passages; and we have seen something of this kind in a former part of this book, (<230819>Isaiah 8:19.) In general we are taught that God demands nothing more than obedience, which he prefers to slain beasts and sacrifices. (<091522>1 Samuel 15:22.)

Who eat swine’s flesh. Formerly he complained that the worship of God was polluted by strange inventions; and now he adds that they set aside every distinction, so that they do not distinguish between the clean and the unclean; and he brings forward a single instance, that they do not abstain from “swine’s flesh.” But it may be thought that this was a small matter. Very far from it; for we ought not to judge from our own opinion, but from that of the legislator, how heinous a sin it is; and nothing which the Lord has forbidden ought to be reckoned trivial. (<031107>Leviticus 11:7; <051408>Deuteronomy 14:8.) This related to the external profession of. faith, by which the Jews were in duty bound to testify how widely they differed from the pollution of the Gentiles. From that rule, therefore, which the Lord enjoins upon us, we must not swerve even a hair’s breadth. F1044

5. Remain by thyself. F1045 He points out extreme impiety in the Jews, who obstinately and rebelliously opposed God’s worshippers, and refused to listen to any warnings. There is some hope of repentance, so long as we lend an ear to warnings and reproofs; but if we reject them, our case is undoubtedly hopeless.

Though the words are apparently obscure, their meaning amounts to this, that hypocrites disdainfully and fiercely repel faithful advisers, because they either make false claims to holiness, or, on account of pride, do not suffer themselves to be reproved; for hypocrisy is never free from supercilious disdain and haughtiness. Let us not wonder, therefore, that those who are infected by this vice swell with insolent pretensions, and boast of their virtue and holiness, and value themselves more highly than all others; for Satan has blinded them to make an idle and ostentatious boast of what they call their devotions, and to despise the word of God.

Commentators think that this is a general statement; which reproves the Jews for refusing to submit to the prophets. But it appears to me that we ought to take into account a circumstance to which they do not attach sufficient weight, that this verse is in close and immediate connection with the preceding verses, and contains a sharp reproof of the Jews, for not only revolting from the true worship, but likewise following obstinately their own inventions, so as to turn with disdain from every one that did not flatter them; for that phrase, “Remain with thyself,” means nothing else than “Away with thee!” as if they declared that they would have nothing to do with honest instructors. F1046

6. Lo, it is written before me. He alludes to the ordinary custom of judges, who keep before them in writing the processes of investigation regarding any matter, together with the testimonies, acts, and everything of that nature, in order that, when it shall be found necessary to make use of them, the guilt of the culprit may be easily proved; for we write those things which we wish to be remembered by posterity The Lord therefore testifies that these things can never fade into oblivion, because they have been written; for, although for a time he pass them over in silence, yet the wicked shall not escape unpunished, but shall at length feel that he is a righteous judge.

Hence we ought to learn that we must not abuse God’s patience, because he bears with us long, and does not all at once stretch out his hand to punish us; for all our faults are nevertheless written before him, for which we must at length suffer punishment, if we do not repent. F1047 True, indeed, the Lord has no need of writing as an aid to memory; but he makes use of this form of expression, that we may not think that he has forgotten anything, when he is slow in executing his judgments. Jeremiah even says expressly, that

“the sin of Judah is written with an iron pen and with the nail of a diamond.” (<241701>Jeremiah 17:1.)

To recompense into the bosom is a phrase frequently employed in Scripture; for men think either that their sins are concealed, or that they will not be called to account for them; but, hurried along by unbridled lust, or laying the blame on some other person, they drive fear to a distance from them. (<197912>Psalm 79:12; <243218>Jeremiah 32:18.) On this account the Lord threatens that he will “recompense into their bosom,” that they may consider who is the judge with whom they have to do.

7. Your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together. Isaiah enlarges on that, which he had expressed briefly in the preceding verse; for he shews that the Jews are not now, for the first time, guilty of this treason, but that there is the ancient example of the fathers, in whose footsteps they closely follow. In like manner the Lord formerly complained that he had borne long with that people, and was at length wearied with them. He therefore describes the aggravated heinousness of the offense, by saying that the Jews follow the example of their fathers; as if he had said, “They are very bad eggs of bad crows;” for the more frequently and the more earnestly that men have been warned, so much the more must they be condemned for obstinacy, if they do not repent. Thus he shews that they disregarded warnings and threatenings, and persevered for many years in their baseness and impiety; that they may no longer bring forward any excuse or pretense, but, on the contrary, may know that they deserve severe punishment.

Here we see that the corruption which has flowed from the fathers is so far from being an excuse to the children, (as is alleged by ignorant persons, who commonly make use of this shield,) that, on the contrary, they draw down on themselves severer judgment. He adds wdjy, (yachdcav,) together. As if the Lord had said, that he gathers together, and, as it were, forms into a bundle, the crimes of the fathers and of the children, that he may at length punish them. Not that

“the son bears the iniquity of the father,” (<261820>Ezekiel 18:20,)

and endures the punishment which the father deserved, but that, since they carry on the crimes of their fathers, they must be included and condemned in the same judgment, while obstinacy shews that their diseases are incurable.

Because they have offered incense on the mountains. He glances at one kind of sin, under which, by a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole, he describes also the rest of their sins; for he means by it the whole of the revolt by which the people withdrew from the true worship, and devoted and gave themselves up to strange gods. This is the utmost verge of iniquities; for, when the fear of God has been taken away, we can have nothing sound or healthy in us. Thus he points out the source of all evils, which ought to be the more diligently observed, because men are highly pleased with themselves, and think that they deserve great praise, when they worship God according to their own fancy, and do not understand that nothing is more abominable in the sight of God than pretended worship, which proceeds from human contrivance. Beyond all doubt, the people desired to be acceptable to God by “offering incense on the mountains;” but it is not from the purpose of their mind, and from their intention, as they call it, that we must judge of their work. In preference to all men, we must listen to the voice of the Lord, who testifies that he is greatly dishonored, that we may not endeavor to defend ourselves by pleading our intention, which will render us doubly guilty before God.

Therefore I will measure back their ancient work. The word hnar (rishonah) may be explained in various ways, either “I will measure back with their antiquity,” or, “in the first place,” or “formerly,” or, “from the beginning.” But we must take into account the connection of the passage, from which the Prophet’s meaning will be clearly seen. Having spoken a little before about the works of the fathers, he undoubtedly ridicules those who made them a bulwark. It is a slight and useless defense, and indeed it is idle to plead before God the practices of the fathers, that is, their long-continued corruption; for in this way we bring down on ourselves a heavier judgment. And yet many men are so intoxicated by this pretense, that they think that no objection can be brought against it, and even refuse to listen to anything else. F1048 Antiquity, indeed, is highly venerable; but no man ought to value it so highly as to make the smallest diminution of the honor of God. This is a remarkable passage for convincing those who uphold superstitions by length of years, as if old established error ought to be accounted a law.

8. Thus saith Jehovah. Here the Prophet softens the preceding statement; for otherwise it would have been very hard to say that the iniquities of the fathers would be brought to remembrance in such a manner, that the Lord would destroy the fathers and the children along with them; and these things might strike believers with such horror as to lead them to think that their salvation was past all hope. We must therefore be carefully on our guard, and observe the reason why the Lord is angry with us; for he wishes to terrify us, so as to lead us to himself, and not so as to throw us into despair. For this reason he holds out hope to believers, that they may not lose courage; and, by exhibiting consolation, he encourages them to repentance. He confirms it by a comparison.

As if one found a grape in a cluster. As if a person who has determined to root out a vine that is inconvenient or injurious to him, and finds a fruit-bearing branch, shall spare it; so the Lord will refrain from tearing up those in which he shall find no strength or flavor. Formerly he complained that the people were useless, and even that they yielded bitter fruits. (<230502>Isaiah 5:2, 4, 7.) Isaiah retains the same comparison, but applies it in a different manner. “Though the people may be said to be an unfruitful and degenerate vine, yet there are still left some fruit-bearing branches which the Lord will not suffer to perish.

But this may be understood in two ways; either that the Lord will preserve his people for the sake of the elect, or that, when the reprobate are destroyed, he will rescue believers from destruction. There is a wide difference between these two interpretations. As to the first, we know that the wicked are sometimes spared on account of good men, whom God does not wish to destroy or to involve in the same judgment, as various examples of Scripture sufficiently shew. The Lord would have spared Sodom, if he had found but ten good men in it. (<011832>Genesis 18:32.) All who sailed along with Paul, to the number of “two hundred and seventy-six,” (<442737>Acts 27:37,) were “given to him” and rescued from shipwreck, that the power which He manifested in his servant might be more illustriously displayed. (<442724>Acts 27:24.) The Lord blessed the house of Potiphar, and made it to prosper in all things, for the sake of Joseph who was in his family. (<013905>Genesis 39:5.) There are other examples of the same kind, which every one will easily collect for himself.

But I approve more highly of the other interpretation, that the Lord will punish the sins of his people in such a manner as to have regard nevertheless to his own, and not to involve all universally in the same destruction. Nor does he mean only that believers shall be saved, but that a people shall be left amongst whom men shall call on his name. And the comparison ought to be carefully observed; for he shews that the remnant will be small, as compared with the multitude which was at that time, as has been already explained. (<230109>Isaiah 1:9.)

Now, as to believers being often punished along with the reprobate, let us not think that it is wrong; for the Lord will often find in each of us enough of blame to afflict and punish us. Besides, he wishes to instruct and arouse us by his chastisements; and seeing that we have been joined to a certain people, and, as it were, ingrafted into their body, we undoubtedly ought not to think it strange if we, who may be said to be diseased members, shall share in the same strokes and pains. Yet the Lord moderates the punishment, so as not to tear up by the roots the elect plants.

9. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob. He explains the preceding verse by other words, and shews that the Lord wishes to reserve for himself some “seed” that shall call upon him; for the Lord is wont to chastise his people in such a manner as to determine that the Church shall exist, in which his truth and the pure religion may be preserved, and which Paul for that very reason calls “the pillar and foundation of truth.” (<540315>1 Timothy 3:15.) We must not, therefore, judge of the Church from the present condition of things, (for nothing in this world can be permanent,) but from the purpose of God, which will not suffer it to be overturned or destroyed. This ought to be carefully remembered by us, that we may not be terrified by any calamities or ruins, or by any hideous desolation of the Church.

And out of Judah the heir of my mountains. He gives the appellation of “heirs of the mountains” to those who, having returned from captivity, shall again inhabit their native land. Judea, as is well known, was a mountainous country. He again explains what might have appeared to be somewhat obscure.

And my elect shall possess it by inheritance. He means that the Jews shall return to their original condition, that they may enjoy that country as their own inheritance, from which they had been driven out. Judea was soon afterwards reduced to the utmost desolation. The Lord testifies that this shall not be of long duration; and, in order to confirm it the more, he mentions in a compendious manner the covenant by which that land was destined for them, that they might possess it by the right of inheritance. Thus, although they were long in captivity, yet this word “inheritance” ought to arouse them to cherish the confident hope that they would at length regain the possession of it. But it ought to be observed that this grace is confined to the elect and true worshippers of God, that every one may not apply it to himself without distinction. F1049

10. And Sharon shall be an abode of flocks. By these figures he means nothing else than that the land, which was a desert, shall be again inhabited; for there is an implied comparison. “Although, in consequence of the banishment of her inhabitants into a distant country, she shall be forsaken and desolate, yet she shall at length be inhabited, so as to abound in flocks and herds, and have lands that are fertile and that are fit for pasture, and supply abundantly everything that is necessary for the food and support of men.” Sharon was a place adapted to pasture, and so was Achor; but the former was adapted to flocks, and the latter to herds.

Here we see that the promises of God contain blessings not only of the future but also of the present life, that we may taste more and more his bounty and kindness; for by the latter F1050 we are invited to the greater and more excellent blessings of the heavenly life. When the Lord extends his bounty to flocks and herds, this ought to confirm us the more and make us more certain of his fatherly care and anxiety about us; for if he pays attention to flocks which were created for our sake, much more will he supply us with all that is necessary

“for the life that now is, and for that which is to come.”
(<540408>1 Timothy 4:8.)

Yet we must likewise keep in view the spiritual meaning (of which we have spoken formerly) that leads us from God’s earthly blessing to Christ’s spiritual kingdom, which the prophets shadow out under that image.

For my people. Here also he excludes the reprobate, who were not ashamed of glorying vainly and falsely of the name of God. Although they confidently boast of promises and sacraments, yet they have nothing in common with the children, and, having been shut out from all hope of God’s favors, they receive the reward of their iniquity. By adding, Who have sought me, he describes more plainly who are they that shall be partakers of these benefits, in order that, as has been already said, he may entirely cut off reprobates and hypocrites. The sure mark by which lambs are distinguished from kids, and lawful children from bastards, is to “seek” the Lord; for it is not enough to shelter ourselves under a name and title, but we must seek the Lord with a pure conscience, that we may cleave to him with the whole heart. (<050605>Deuteronomy 6:5.)

11. But ye forsakers of Jehovah, who forget the mountain of my holiness. That hypocrites may not abuse these promises, or think that what is said about the restoration of the people relates to them, he again addresses them by these words, and calls them “forsakers,” F1051 because they “have forgotten” Mount Zion; that is, have revolted from the true worship of God. By “the mountain of holiness” he denotes figuratively the rule of a holy life which had been laid down in the word of the Lord; for the temple had been built by the command of the Lord, that these men might call upon him; and likewise the altar on which the Lord wished that sacrifices should be offered. Thus those sacrifices and oblations were impure which were offered in other places, or to other gods, or in any way different from the strict observance of the ceremonies of the Law. It is not lawful for men to undertake anything at their own suggestion; for the Lord demands nothing but obedience, (<091522>1 Samuel 15:22,) and there is no obedience without faith; and there is no faith without the word, (<451017>Romans 10:17,) by which alone we are at liberty to inquire or think concerning God.

Who prepare a table for the army. F1052 He enumerates their superstitions. The word dg (Gad) is variously explained. Some think that it denotes Jupiter, or the star of Jupiter; and others that it denotes Fortune. Jerome translates the words, “Ye who spread a table for fortune;” for he thinks that it means prosperity. But I think it more probable that dg (Gad) means “a band,” or “a troop,” or even “an army;” and this agrees well with the etymology of the word and the context. One passage is especially worthy of notice, (<013011>Genesis 30:11,) in which Leah rejoices on account of the addition of children; for I think that the word which he employs, dgb (begad), ought to be understood as if she had said, “Now, I have plenty of children;” for she had many children before that time, and hence she gave the name dg (Gad) to her fifth son. Accordingly, I think that dg (Gad) ought to be interpreted, in this passage, as meaning “a troop,” or “an army;” because their false gods were so numerous, that they could scarcely be numbered for multitude.

And fill an oblation to the number. To fill may here be taken in two senses; either that they supplied everything largely and bountifully for the worship of idols; (for superstition has no limit or measure, and they who are niggardly in the worship of God very cheerfully spend all that they have for the sake of idols;) or that they passed by no idol to which they did not render their worship. I prefer the latter meaning; for idolaters do not think that they have done enough, if they do not give honor to each of the saints; and the more numerous the saints whom they have honored, they think that they will have better success. We have too great experience of this every day in the Papists.

By “number” he means the same thing as he formerly meant by “army;” for it is a repetition which is very customary among Hebrew writers. He means, therefore, that “a table is prepared,” that is, sacrifice is offered, not to a single idol, but to a great number of idols; in order to shew clearly how grievous are the punishments which they have deserved.

12. Therefore I will number you to the sword. He alludes to the number of the gods; and the Lord declares that he will easily ascertain how numerous they are, for he “will number them to the sword.” And hence we see that the Prophet, in the preceding verse, does not speak of the two planets, Jupiter and Mercury, as some think, but means that they were not satisfied with one God, and collected for themselves various idols. It is an idle conjecture that the word ynm (meni) denotes Mercury, because hnm (manah) signifies “to number,” and Mercury presided over numbers and merchants. F1053 The design of the Prophet is manifest, who declares that the people “shall be numbered to the sword,” because they delighted in a vast number of gods, and did not choose to rely on one God.

Because I called, and ye did not answer. He heightens the extent and heinousness of that treason, by saying that the Jews sinned through deliberate malice, and on purpose, rather than through ignorance. They had been often instructed and warned, but had disdainfully rejected all warnings, and consequently were far less excusable than others, to whom no prophets were sent; for although ignorance cannot be pleaded as an excuse by any man, yet much less can it be pleaded by the Jews and those to whom the word of God is proclaimed, and who, on that account, will be condemned and punished more severely than others.

I spake, and ye did not hear. He describes the manner of calling, namely, that he exhorted the people by the prophets; for by the word “speak” he twice repeats the same thing, as we have already stated to be the custom of Hebrew writers. To “hear” the Lord is to obey his word; for it would be a trivial matter to lend our ears, if we did not submit to the word; and it would then be with us as the proverb says, “They listen with the ears of an ass.” F1054 God wishes to be heard sincerely, and does not approve of a pretended hearing; and he shews how it came that they rejected the calling. It was because they shut their ears to the doctrine of the prophets; for the beginning of obedience is to bring a desire to learn.

And ye did evil before mine eyes. The phrase, “before mine eyes,” is of the same import as “to my face;” a mode of expression which he made use of a little before. (Verse 3.) All men, indeed, sin “before the eyes” of the Lord, and none can withdraw from his presence. But in a peculiar sense we are said to sin “before his eyes,” when, having been called by him, we do not dread his presence; for he approaches nearer to those whom he calls by the prophets, and, so to speak, exhibits himself as present to them. Far more detestable, therefore, and worthy of severe chastisements, is the impiety of those who, laying aside all shame, despise and scorn God when he draws near to call and invite them.

And chose the things in which I took no pleasure. From this concluding clause of the verse it is evident that they are condemned, not for gross crimes, but for foolish devotions, by which they corrupted the worship of God. Although they zealously devoted themselves to sacrifices contrived by themselves, because they thought that in this way they would become entitled to the favor of God; yet he declares that he abhors their wicked practices. It is not permitted that any person shall have a free choice to follow whatever he thinks fit, but all must observe what God approves, and must not turn aside from it in any way whatever. Now we see that it was not a fault peculiar to a single age that men should follow their own caprice in the worship of God, and should adore their own inventions instead of God; but whatever “pleasure” men “take in these things,” the Lord solemnly declares that he condemns and abhors them.

13. and 14. Behold, my servants shall eat. Here also the Prophet more deafly distinguishes between hypocrites, who held a place in the Church, and the true and lawful children; for, although all without distinction were called children, yet he skews that many shall be disowned as not belonging to the family, and that they who proudly and haughtily exalted themselves, under the name of the people of God, shall be disappointed of their hope, which is vain and false. We must carefully observe the highly emphatic contrast between “the servants of God,” and those who falsely pretend to his name; for he shews that empty titles, and false boasting, or vain confidence, shall avail them nothing.

Shall eat, shall drink. By these words he denotes happiness and a prosperous condition of life; as if he had said, that he will take care that believers shall not be in want of anything. But the Lord promises to his servants something different from what he actually bestows; for they often “are hungry and thirsty,” (<460411>1 Corinthians 4:11,) while the wicked abound in enjoyments of every kind, and abuse them for luxury and intemperance. But it ought to be observed, that the kingdom of Christ is here described under figures; for otherwise we could not understand it. Accordingly, the Prophet draws comparisons from earthly kingdoms, in which, when the people abound in wealth and enjoy comforts of every kind, there is a visible display of the blessing of God from which we may judge of his fatherly love.

But since it is not proper that good men should have their minds engrossed by earthly advantages, it is enough that some taste of those advantages should support their faith. And if they are sometimes oppressed by hunger, yet, being satisfied with a moderate portion of good, they nevertheless acknowledge that God is their Father, and that he is kind to them, and in their poverty have greater riches than kings and nobles. On the other hand, the wicked, whatever may be their abundance of good things, cannot enjoy them with a good conscience, and therefore are the most wretched of all men. The Prophet, therefore, has in his eye the right use of the gifts of God; for they who serve God in a right manner receive, as children from the hand of a father, all that is necessary for this life, while others, like thieves and profane persons, take violent possession of it. Wicked men are never satisfied with any amount of wealth, however great; they have continual fear and trembling, and their conscience can never be at ease.

The Lord, therefore, does not promise here what he does not actually bestow; and this happiness must not be estimated by the outward condition of things. This is still more evident from what follows, where he speaks of joy and thanksgiving. The Prophet undoubtedly intends to state in a few words, that contentment does not lie in abundance of earthly enjoyments, but in calm peace of mind and spiritual joy; for unbelievers have no relish for such things, but to believers a persuasion of God’s fatherly love is more delightful than all earthly enjoyments. Yet let us observe that we ought to look for all prosperity from God alone, who will not permit his people to be in want of anything that belongs to a happy life.

15. And ye shall leave your name for a curse  F1055 to my elect. He continues the same doctrine, and teaches that God will at length separate hypocrites from the true servants. And indeed we need not wonder that the Prophet dwells so much on this point; for there is nothing of which it is harder to convince hypocrites, who, puffed up with pride, deceive and blind themselves. He affirms that “their name” shall be “accursed,” because they thought that they were the holy seed, and that nothing else under heaven was worthy of being remembered. Such is also the import of the word “Leave;” as if he had said that false boasting, to which they were so strongly attached, shall be shaken off by violence; and therefore, that they may not flatter themselves with a glory that is temporal, and that shall speedily pass away, the Lord rebukes that haughtiness, and declares that he will have other servants, to whom they shall be a curse, so that even in solemn cursing this shall be taken as an example, “May God curse thee as he has cursed the Jews!”

And shall call his servants by another name. He shews how ill-founded is the confidence of that nation, which thought that God would have no people, if he had not the posterity of Abraham; for he solemnly declares that he will adopt a new people, and that he is not confined to the Jews, so as not easily to find others whom he shall adorn with the “name” of his people. The opinion entertained by some, that by “another name” is meant the Christian name, is exceedingly unnatural; and even from the context it is evident that the Prophet had quite a different object in view; for, in consequence of the Jews boasting proudly of the antiquity of their name, and growing insolent at having been elected by God long ago, as if God could not do without them, he shews that he will elect and adopt another people, and yet that he cannot be accused of capriciousness or fickleness, as if he had changed his mind. He will execute his purpose and his righteous judgments against those who, under a false pretense of his name, obscure his glory and corrupt all godliness.

16. He who blesseth himself in the earth. Here the whole world is contrasted with a corner of Judea, in which the worship of God might be said to be shut up. Since the time when God has been manifested everywhere, he is not now worshipped in one particular district, but in all places without distinction; as Christ also teacheth, (<430421>John 4:21,) “The hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father;” and Paul also saith,

“I wish that men in every place may lift up clean hands, without wrath and disputing.” (<540208>1 Timothy 2:8.)

Thus the word “earth,” by which he denotes, in this passage, the whole world, is employed by him in an indirect contrast with Judea.

Shall bless himself in the true God. Shall swear by the true God. By “blessing” and “swearing” he denotes the whole of the worship of God. “Swearing,” as we have formerly seen, F1056 is a kind of worship of God; for by it we declare that all judgment belongs to God, and acknowledge that he is perfectly acquainted with all that we do. We “bless,” when we wish to obtain from him all prosperity, and render thanksgiving to him alone; and, in short, when we acknowledge that our prosperity comes from no other source than from his undeserved kindness. By “the true God” is meant that he is faithful to his promises and steadfast to his purpose; though perhaps there is an implied and indirect contrast between “the true God” and the false gods of the Gentiles.

For the former afflictions are surrendered to forgetfulness. This promise relates to believers only. God declares that he will put an end to their afflictions and distresses, that the calamity of the Church may not be perpetual. This began to be accomplished when the people were brought out of Babylon; for, although they were afflicted in various ways both during the journey and at home, yet the severity of the punishments was mitigated; because the return to their native country, the rebuilding of the temple, the restoration of regular government, soothed their griefs, and supported their hearts by good hope till the coming of Christ.

17. For, lo, I will create new heavens and a new earth. By these metaphors he promises a remarkable change of affairs; as if God had said that he has both the inclination and the power not only to restore his Church, but to restore it in such a manner that it shall appear to gain new life and to dwell in a new world. These are exaggerated modes of expression; but the greatness of such a blessing, which was to be manifested at the coming of Christ, could not be described in any other way. Nor does he mean only the first coming, but the whole reign, which must be extended as far as to the last coming, as we have already said in expounding other passages.

Thus the world is (so to speak) renewed by Christ; and hence also the Apostle (<580205>Hebrews 2:5) calls it “a new age,” and undoubtedly alludes to this statement of the Prophet. Yet the Prophet speaks of the restoration of the Church after the return from Babylon. This is undoubtedly true; but that restoration is imperfect, if it be not extended as far as to Christ; and even now we are in the progress and accomplishment of it, and those things will not be fulfilled till the last resurrection, which has been prescribed to be our limit.

The former things shall not be remembered. Some refer these words to heaven and earth; as if he had said that henceforth they shall have no celebrity and no name. But I choose rather to refer them to the former times; for he means that the joy at being restored shall be so great that they shall no longer remember their miseries. Or perhaps it will be thought preferable to view them as relating to benefits which, though they were worthy of being recorded, lost their name when God’s amazing- grace shone forth. In this sense the Prophet said elsewhere, “Remember ye not the former things.” (<234318>Isaiah 43:18.) Not that God wished the first deliverance to be set aside or blotted out of the hearts of believers; but because by comparison the one brought a kind of forgetfulness over the other, just as the sun, when he rises, deprives the stars of their brightness.

Let us remember that these things take place in us so far as we are renewed. But we are only in part renewed, and therefore we do not yet see a new heaven and a new earth. We need not wonder, therefore, that we continue to mourn and weep, since we have not entirely laid aside the old man, but many remains are still left. It is with us also that the renovation ought to begin; because we hold the first rank, and it is through our sin that “the creatures groan, and are subject to vanity,” as Paul shews. (<450820>Romans 8:20.) But when we shall be perfectly renewed, heaven and earth shall also be fully renewed, and shall regain their former state. And hence it ought to be inferred, as we have frequently remarked, that the Prophet has in his eye the whole reign of Christ, down to its final close, which is also called

“the day of renovation and restoration.” (<440321>Acts 3:21.)

18. But rejoice ye and be glad for ever. He exhorts believers to rejoice, in such a manner as they ought, on account of such a benefit bestowed by God. And this was added for the sake of amplification; because men do not adequately consider God’s other benefits, and especially that which is the highest and most excellent of all; for either they disregard them altogether, or value them less than they ought to do. On this account believers must be aroused and urged by such exhortations as these, that they may not chew themselves to be unthankful or unmindful, or think that it ought to be lightly passed by, that, having been redeemed by the hand of Christ, they carry in their hearts the pledge of eternal and heavenly life. That is the reason why Isaiah chews that believers do not give due praise for redemption in any other way than by continuing their joy through the whole course of their life, and employing themselves in celebrating the praises of God.

For, lo, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. At first sight this might be thought harsh; but an excellent meaning is obtained, that the ground of joy in the deliverance of the Church shall be so great as to remove every cloud of sadness. And, indeed, since even afflictions aid our salvation, (<450828>Romans 8:28,) we have good reason for rejoicing in them.

19. And I will be glad in Jerusalem. He expresses more than in the preceding verse; for by these words he means that he not only will give to men ground for rejoicing, but even will be a partaker with them in that joy. So great is his love toward us, that he delights in our prosperity not less than if he enjoyed it along with us. And hence we obtain no small confirmation of our faith, when we learn that God is moved, and so powerfully moved, by such an affection toward us. If we are in painful and distressed circumstances, he says that he is affected by grief and sorrow; and, on the other hand, if our condition is pleasant and comfortable, he says that he takes great pleasure in our prosperity. Hence also we have formerly seen that “the Spirit of the Lord is sad and vexed,” (<236310>Isaiah 63:10,) when that order which he demands and approves is overturned and confounded; and in another passage he takes upon himself the character of a husband who is satisfied with the love of his wife. (<236205>Isaiah 62:5.)

20. There shall be no more thence an infant of days. Some think that this points out the difference between the Law and the Gospel; because “the Law, as a schoolmaster,” (<480324>Galatians 3:24,) kept scholars in the first elements, but the Gospel leads us on to mature age. Others suppose it to mean that there will no longer be any distinction of age; because, where life is eternal, no line is drawn between the child and the old man. But I interpret the words of the Prophet in this manner, “Whether they are children or old men, they shall arrive at mature age so as to be always vigorous, like persons in the prime of life; and, in short, they shall always be healthful and robust;” for it is on account of our sins that we grow old and lose our strength. “All our days,” saith Moses, “pass away when thou art angry: we close our years quicker than a word. The days of our years in which we live are seventy years, or, at the utmost, eighty: what goeth beyond this in the strongest is toil and vexation; our strength passeth swiftly, and we fly away.” (<199009>Psalm 90:9, 10.) But Christ comes to repair our strength, and to restore and preserve our original condition.

For the son of a hundred years shall die young. It is proper to distinguish between the two clauses; for, after having said that the citizens of the Church shall be long-lived, so that no one shall be taken out of the world till he has reached mature age and fully completed his course, he likewise adds that, even in old age, they shall be robust. Although the greater part of believers hardly support themselves through weakness, and the strength of others decays even before the time, yet that promise is not made void; for, if Christ reigned truly and perfectly in us, his strength would undoubtedly flourish in us, and would invigorate both body and soul. To our sins, therefore, it ought to be imputed, that we are liable to diseases, pains, old age, and other inconveniences; for we do not permit Christ to possess us fully, and have not advanced so far in newness of life as to lay aside all that is old. F1057

Here it ought also to be observed, that blessings either of soul or body are found only in the kingdom of Christ, that is, in the Church, apart from which there is nothing but cursing. Hence it follows that all who have no share in that kingdom are wretched and unhappy; and, however fresh and vigorous they may appear to be, they are, nevertheless, in the sight of God, rotten and stinking corpses.

21 and 22. They shall build houses and inhabit them. In these verses he mentions what is written in the Law; for these are the blessings of the Law, that they who have obeyed God shall dwell in the houses which they have built, and shall gather fruit from the trees which they have planted. (<032610>Leviticus 26:10.) On the other hand, the disobedient shall be expelled from the houses which they built, and shall give place to foreigners, and shall be deprived of the fruits of the trees which they planted. “The Lord,” saith Isaiah, “shall protect you from that curse, so as to enjoy your property.” Now the Prophets hold out those things which relate to the present life, and borrow metaphors from them; but it is in order that they may teach us to rise higher and to embrace eternal and blessed life. We must not fix our whole attention on these transitory blessings, but must make use of them as ladders, that, being raised to heaven, we may enjoy eternal and immortal blessings. To the Church, which has been renewed, and which rests on nothing but God’s good pleasure and undeserved favor, is justly promised the enjoyment of those blessings of which unbelievers had deprived themselves.

According to the days of a tree. Some think that this is a promise of eternal life; as if men had the tree of life; but that is forged ingenuity, and far removed from the Prophet’s meaning. And I do wonder that commentators give themselves so much trouble in explaining this passage; for the Prophet speaks, not only of life, but of a peaceful condition of life; as if he had said, “Ye shall plant vineyards, and shall eat the fruit of them; and ye shall not be removed from this life before receiving the fruit, which shall be enjoyed, not only by yourselves, but by your children and posterity. He employs the metaphor of a tree, because he had formerly spoken of planting vineyards; and accordingly he promises that the people shall peacefully enjoy both their houses and their vineyards, and shall not be molested by enemies or robbers, and this peaceful condition shall last as long as the life of a tree.

And my elect shall perpetually enjoy   F1058 the work of their hands. A work is said to be continued or perpetuated when the result of it is prosperous; for otherwise men would subject themselves to long and severe toil, and all to no purpose, if God did not grant success. Enemies will either take away or destroy what we have begun, and the completion of it will be out of our power; and therefore it is strictly said to be continued, not when merely some progress is made, but when it is brought to a close. Here it ought to be observed, that we cannot possess our wealth and have the peaceful and lawful enjoyment of it in any other way than by dwelling in the kingdom of Christ, who is the only heir of the world, and without being ingrafted into his body. Wicked men may indeed enjoy, for many years, the good things of this life; but they will continually be uneasy, and will wretchedly devour themselves, so that even possession shall be destructive and deadly; for it is only by faith that we obtain all that belongs to a blessed life, and they who have not faith cannot be members of Christ.

23. They shall not toil in vain. He enumerates other kinds of blessings which God promises to the kingdom of Christ; for, although God always blessed his people, yet the blessings were in some measure suspended till the coming of Christ, in whom was displayed full and complete happiness. In a word, both Jews and Gentiles shall be happy, in all respects, under the reign of Christ. Now, as it is a token of God’s wrath and curse when we obtain no advantage front our labor, so, on the other hand, it is a token of blessing when we clearly see the fruit of our labor. For this reason he says that they who shall have returned from captivity, in order that they may obtain a true and complete deliverance, shall not spend their labor in vain or lose their pains. The Law threatens the death of relatives, destructive wars, losses of property, and terror in their hearts. (<032622>Leviticus 26:22; <052848>Deuteronomy 28:48.) Here, on the contrary, are promised fertility, peace, the fruit of labor, and repose. And blessings of this kind ought to be carefully observed; for there are few who, amidst their labors, think of the blessing of God, so as to ascribe everything to him alone, and to be fully convinced that they will accomplish nothing whatever unless the Lord grant to them a prosperous result. Wherefore, as every blessing should be sought from God, so, when it has been received, thanksgiving should be rendered for it to God alone.

And they shall not bring forth in terror. When it is said that women “shall not bring forth in terror,” some explain it to mean, that they shall have no uneasiness or dread of childbirth, because they shall be free from pain. We know that this punishment was inflicted on the woman on account of sin, to bring forth with difficulty, and to be in danger of death. Children are brought into the world with fear and trembling, when there is any expectation of war; and it is probable that the Prophet rather looks to this, that there shall be such settled peace that neither women nor men shall have any reason to fear; for this must be viewed as relating to both parents, who will have no dread about their children, as commonly happens when any danger is threatened.

For they shall be the seed of the blessed of Jehovah. This reason is highly appropriate; for whence come fears and terrors, whence come alarms, but from the curse of God? When the curse has been removed, the Prophet therefore says justly that parents, together with their offspring, shall be free from dread and anxious solicitude; because they shall be convinced that they shall always be safe and sound through the favor of God.

And their offspring with them. This is contrasted with childlessness, which is reckoned in the number of the curses of God; and therefore it is the same as if he had said, “I will no longer deprive them of their children, but will cause them to enjoy them, along with the rest of the blessings which I shall bestow upon them.”

24. Before they cry, I will listen. A remarkable promise; for nothing is more desirable than to have God reconciled to us, and to have it in our power to draw near to him with freedom and boldness; for, although we are surrounded by innumerable distresses and calamities, yet we cannot be miserable so long as we are at liberty to betake ourselves to the Lord. Here therefore the Lord promises that we shall not pray in vain. Yet this was also promised to the fathers under the Law. It is certain that, since the beginning of the world, God listened to the fathers, to all that called upon him; for this is the most valuable fruit of faith. But he confirms this more and more. Because the Jews would be exiles for a long time, the Lord solemnly declares that he will not permit them any longer to languish in banishment, and will no longer delay his assistance, but will “listen to them even before they cry.”

This relates chiefly to the kingdom of Christ, through whom we are heard and have access to God the Father, as Paul admirably explains. (<490218>Ephesians 2:18; 3:12.) The fathers indeed enjoyed the same access, and there was no other way in which they could be heard but through Christ; but the door was still narrow and might be said to be shut, whereas now it has been most widely and perfectly thrown open. Under the law the people were wont to stand at a distance in the porch; but now nothing hinders us from entering into the sanctuary itself, because

“the veil of the temple hath been rent.” (<402751>Matthew 27:51.)

Thus we have admission into heaven through Christ,

“that we may approach with freedom and boldness to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find needful assistance.”
(<580416>Hebrews 4:16.)

A question will be put. “Are there no believers in the world, and is there no kingdom of Christ, in the present day? For it does not appear that God is so ready to render assistance, and there is no visible fruit of our prayers.” I reply. Though it becomes fully evident that we have been heard when the event actually proves it, yet God does not in the meantime overlook us; for he does not permit us to faint, but supports us by the power of his Spirit, that we may wait for him patiently. Nor does he delay, as men do, because he has need of time, but because he wishes to exercise and try our patience. In a word, there are two ways in which God listens to us; first, when he renders assistance openly; and secondly, when he aids us by the power of his Spirit, that we may not sink under the weight of afflictions. And if this doctrine were deeply fixed in the hearts of men, they would fly to God more readily and boldly, and would not dispute so eagerly about calling on saints. For how comes it that men contrive for themselves such a variety of intercessors, to whom they betake themselves rather than to Christ, but because they do not receive that doctrine, and because they reject such large and bountiful promises?

25. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together. He means that everything shall be fully restored, when Christ shall reign. And here it appears as if there were an implied comparison between Adam and Christ. We know that all the afflictions of the present life flowed from the sin of the first man; for at that time we were deprived of the dominion and sovereignty which God had given to man (<010128>Genesis 1:28) over animals of every kind, all of which at first undoubtedly bowed cheerfully to the dominion of man, and were obedient to his will; but now the most of them rise up against man, and even carly on mutual war against each other. Thus, when wolves, bears, lions, and other savage animals of that kind, are hurtful to man and to other beasts from which we obtain some advantage, and when even animals which ought to have been useful to man are hostile to him, this ought to be imputed to his sin, because his disobedience overthrew the order of things. But since it is the office of Christ to bring back everything to its condition and order, that is the reason why he declares that the confusion or ruin that now exists in human affairs shall be removed by the coming of Christ; because at that time, corruptions having been taken away, the world shall return to its first origin.

And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. “The lion” shall eat harmlessly, and shall no longer seek his prey. The serpent, satisfied with his dust, shall wrap himself in it, and shall no longer hurt by his envenomed bite. In a word, all that is disordered or confused shall be restored to its proper order. Yet beyond all controversy the Prophet speaks allegorically of bloody and violent men, whose cruel and savage nature shall be subdued, when they submit to the yoke of Christ. But first we must carefully consider that confusion which befell all the creatures in consequence of the fall of man; for if this were not taken into view, it would be impossible for us to have sufficiently just and correct views of this blessing of restoration. At the same time, we must keep in remembrance what we said in expounding a similar allegory in the eleventh chapter. F1059 Here we are taught what is the nature of men before the Lord convert them and receive them into his fold; for they are cruel and untamed beasts, and only begin to abstain from doing any injury, when the Lord subdues their wicked inclination and their furious desire to do harm.

In all my holy mountain. This is added because, when rubbish and filth have been taken out of the way, the Lord will gather to himself a Church without spot. By the word all he means cleansing. Yet we ought not to think it strange that still so many are ferocious; for there are few that are the true inhabitants of God’s mountain, few that are upright and faithful, even among those who profess to be Christians. Seeing that the old man still reigns and is vigorous in them, contentions and wars must also exist and prevail amongst them.


CHAPTER 66.

Go To Isaiah 66:1-19

1. This saith Jehovah. This discourse is different from the preceding one; for here the Prophet exclaims against the Jews, who, puffed up with vain confidence in the sacrifices and the temple, indulged freely in their pleasures, and flattered themselves in their sins under this pretense. He shews that this confidence is not only foolish and groundless, but diabolical and accursed; for they grossly mock God who endeavor to serve and appease him by outward ceremonies. Accordingly, he reproaches them with endeavoring to frame an idol in place of God, when they shut him up in the temple. Next, he speaks of the renovation of the Church, and of the extension of it throughout the whole world.

Heaven is my throne. His aim being to shake off the self-complancency of the pretended or hypocritical worshippers of God, he begins with his nature. By assigning “heaven” for his habitation, he means that the majesty of God fills all things, and is everywhere diffused; and that he is so far from being shut up in the temple, that he is not shut up or confined within any place whatever. The Scripture often teaches that God is in heaven; not that he is shut up in it, but in order that we may raise our minds above the world, and may not entertain any low, or carnal, or earthly conceptions of him; for the mere sight of heaven ought to carry us higher, and transport us into admiration. And yet, in innumerable passages, he protests that he is with us, that his power is everywhere diffused, in order that we may not imagine that he is shut up in heaven.

It may be thought that this is beyond all controversy, and was at that time acknowledged by all; for who did not know that heaven and earth are filled by the majesty of God? They might therefore object that there is no man who wishes to thrust God out of heaven, and that the Prophet has no good reason for waxing wroth and breaking out into such violent invective. And undoubtedly they rejected with great haughtiness this doctrine of the Prophet, and were highly irritated and enraged, as if great injury had been done to them. But it is easy to reply that, when men endeavor to appease God according to their own fancy, they frame an idol that is altogether contrary to his majesty, Relying on their useless ceremonies, they thought that they had performed their duty well when they went frequently to the temple, and offered in it prayers and sacrifices. The Prophet shews that the majesty of God must not be measured by this standard, and that all that they bring forward, unaccompanied by purity of heart, are absolute trifles; for since it is evident from his dwelling-place being in heaven that the nature of God is spiritual, if the worship do not correspond to that nature, it is undoubtedly wicked and corrupted.

Where is that house which ye will build for me? Under the word house or temple he includes all the ceremonies in which they thought that the worship of God consisted; and because they measured God and his worship by the temple as a standard, the Prophet shews that it is unworthy of God’s majesty to view his presence as confined to a visible and frail building. He does not argue merely about God’s essence, but at the same time discourses concerning his true worship, which he shews to be spiritual, in order that it may correspond to the nature of God, who “is a Spirit.” (<430424>John 4:24.) And if men diligently considered what is the nature of God, they would not contrive foreign and new modes of worship for him, or measure him by themselves. F1060 This common and often expressed sentiment is more weighty and energetic than if the Prophet had brought forward something new; for he shews that they are so stupid and dull as to be ignorant of that which was well known to the merest idiot, and that they resemble dumb beasts in imagining that God dwells and reposes in the temple. He therefore asks contemptuously, “Where is that house?” For it was absurd to think either that God dwells on the earth, or that he is concealed and shut up in a prison. Besides, the temple was built on a small mountain, and could not contain the glory of God within its limited dimensions.

And where is this place of my rest? And yet the Lord had said of the temple, “This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have chosen it,.” (<19D214>Psalm 132:14.) In another passage it was said, “Enter, O Lord, into thy rest.” (<140641>2 Chronicles 6:41.) Besides, we have seen, in a former part of this book, that “the Lord’s rest shall be glorious in it.” (<231110>Isaiah 11:10.) Finally, this was the ordinary designation of the temple, and yet the Prophet now finds fault with it. I reply, the temple is called God’s rest, because he gave the token of his presence in the temple; for he had chosen it as the place where men should call upon him, and from which he would give a display of his strength and power. But he did not command it to be built in order that men might conceive of his majesty according to their own fancy, F1061 but rather that, reminded by the outward signs of God’s presence, they might raise their minds higher and rise to heaven, and acknowledge that God is greater and more excellent than the whole world. Yet, as the minds of men are prone to superstition, the Jews converted into obstacles to themselves those things which were intended to be aids; and when they ought to have risen by faith to heaven, they believed that God was bound to them, and worshipped him only in a careless, manner, or rather made sport of worshipping him at their own pleasure.

This passage is very appropriately quoted by Stephen, (<440749>Acts 7:49,) and is indirectly accommodated by Paul to the sense which we have now stated; for they shew that those persons are grievously deceived and far astray who bring to God carnal ceremonies, as if pure worship and religion consisted of them, or who wickedly and profanely disfigure his worship by statues and images. Stephen addresses the Jews, who, being attached to the figures of the Law, disregarded true godliness; while Paul, speaking to the Gentiles, affirms that “God dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” (<441724>Acts 17:24.)

2. Yet my hand hath made all these things. The Prophet refutes the false opinion which men form about the worship of God, by thinking that sacrifices and outward ceremonies are of great value in themselves; for the state of the question is this. God cares nothing about ceremonies, but they are empty and useless masks, when men think that they satisfy God by means of them. When he says that he made all these things, this must not be understood as referring solely to the temple, but to all that was there offered to God. Now he says that he “made all these things,” in order that men may know that God has no need of this external worship, as he declares (<190101>Psalm 1:10) that all the animals were created by him, and are his own, though by sacrifices of them the Jews hoped to obtain his favor. But foolish mortals have this disease deeply seated in them, that they transform God according to their inclination, though he appointed external worship not for his sake, but for our advantage; that is, that we may be trained by it according to the capacity of our flesh.

And all these things began to be. It is the same as if he had said that he must not be compared to these things, which at one time began to be; for he is eternal and had no beginning. “I could dispense with your sacrifices,” saith the Lord, “for, before they began to be, I was, and therefore they can be of no service to me.” In short, he maintains that ceremonies are of no avail in themselves, but aim at a different object. Isaiah takes for granted that it is impossible that God could receive any addition; and hence it follows that he is satisfied with himself alone; for he could do without the world from all eternity.

And I look to him who is humble and contrite in spirit. Next, a definition of lawful worship is added; for, when he says that God “looketh to the humble,” I have no doubt that he who is “humble and contrite in spirit” is indirectly contrasted by him with the array, and splendor, and elegance of ceremonies, by which the eyes of men are commonly dazzled, so as to be carried away in admiration. On the other hand, the Lord testifies that he demands humble and downcast minds, and that tremble at his commandments. By these words he describes inward purity of heart and sincere desire of godliness, and at the same time shews in what way we ought to be prepared to please God.

And trembleth at my word. So far as relates to “trembling,” it might be thought strange at first sight that he demands it in believers, since nothing is more sweet or gentle than the word of the Lord, and nothing is more opposite to it than to excite terror. I reply, there are two kinds of trembling; one by which they are terrified who hate and flee from God, and another which affects the heart, and promotes the obedience, of those who reverence and fear God. This clause, I am aware, is viewed by others as relating to the Law, which threatens and terrifies, and proclaims the dreadful judgment of God. But I take it in a more general acceptation; for even believers tremble at the promises when they embrace them with reverence. Hence infer that true godliness consists in having our senses brought into a state of obedience to God, and in making no boastful or wicked claims for ourselves. The nature of faith is to yield obedience to God, and to listen to him attentively and patiently when he speaks. But when we are puffed up and carried away by a vain confidence in ourselves, we have no piety or fear of God; for we cannot make even the smallest claim for ourselves without despising God.

We ought carefully to mark the expression which he employs, “Trembling at the word of God.” Many boast that they reverence and fear God; but, by disregarding his word, they at the same time shew that they are despisers of God. All the reverence that we owe to God must be paid to his word, in which he wishes to be fully recognised as in a lively image. The amount of what is said is, that God prefers this sacrifice to all others, when believers, by true self-denial, lie low in such abasement as to have no lofty opinion about themselves, but to permit themselves to be reduced to nothing. Thus also the Psalmist says, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a contrite spirit; an afflicted heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (<195117>Psalm 51:17.) Because this modesty of faith produces obedience, this pious feeling is likewise added, that, laying aside all obstinacy, they tremble at the word of God.

From these words we ought to draw a remarkable consolation, “Though we appear to be wretched in our abasement and humility, and though we appear to be unworthy of being beheld by men, yet we are truly happy; because the Lord looks upon us, and bestows on us his favor.” When we are tempted to despair, let us think that in this way the Lord exalts his servants to heaven, though they have been cast down to hell, and almost sink under the burden.

3. He that killeth an ox, as if he slew a man. There are two clauses in this verse. In the former, Isaiah plainly declares that all the sacrifices of his nation are of no value in the sight of God, but are held by him in abomination; in the latter, he describes the dreadful corruption by which they mingled the ceremonies of the Gentiles with the sacrifices of the Law, and in this way corrupted and perverted everything. The greater part of commentators think that these words repeal the sacrifices of the Law, but this is a mistake; for Isaiah, in this passage, treats of the same subject of which he had formerly treated in the first and fifty-eighth chapters, and does not absolutely condemn sacrifices, but rather the blemishes and corruptions of them, because the Jews thought that God was satisfied with a deceitful and empty appearance, and at the same time cared not about the true fear of God and a pure conscience. He does not speak, therefore, of the thing itself, but censures men who abused sacrifices; because this was as much as to offer to God the shell of an empty nut. In a word, no sacrifices are acceptable to God but those which proceed from a pure heart and an upright will.

Yet it is probable that the Prophet alludes to the sacrifices of the Gentiles, which were shocking and monstrous; for they killed men, or buried them alive. Neither the Romans, (who reckoned themselves to be more religious than other nations,) nor even the Jews, abstained from this crime. Nay more, (kako>zhloi) wicked imitators polluted themselves by many child-murders, thinking that they followed their father Abraham. Isaiah says that, “when they kill an ox, they do the same thing as if they slew a man;” F1062 and thus he shews that the Jews, though they had a religion which was peculiar and which God had appointed, yet were in no respect better than the Gentiles, among whom everything was polluted and profane, and were not more highly approved by God; because the name of God is profaned by hypocrisy of religion not less than by corrupted and false worship. How necessary this admonition was, we have formerly seen; for, while the Jews were convicted of all crimes, yet, so long as they concealed themselves under this shadow, they thought that they were safe. Justly therefore does the Prophet meet them by saying, that they gain nothing more by their attempts to appease God than if they sought to offer sacrifices from the abominable sacrileges of the Gentiles.

And truly they have chosen their own ways. There are two interpretations of this passage; for the antecedent to the pronoun may either be the Gentiles or the Jews; that is, either that the Jews mingled and entangled themselves with the wicked ceremonies of the Gentiles, or that they followed their own inventions. The former exposition would not be inappropriate, were it not that it is unnatural, because the word “Gentiles” has not been formerly expressed. It was the most aggravated part of the wickedness of the Jews, that they not only abused the pure worship of God, but likewise, through their contempt of the Law, defiled the temple and every other place by wicked and abominable superstitions. They built altars on high places, planted and reared groves, took delight in games and public entertainments, and copied everything else that was appointed by public authority for the purpose of corrupting the hearts of men. Thus there was produced among them a confused medley of superstitions, such as we now behold in Popery, in which we see various patches sewed together, taken out of every kind of superstitions, not only heathen and Jewish, but likewise such as have been recently contrived by Satan, that he might more easily, and with greater plausibility, impose on the world. These and similar practices the Prophet would justly pronounce to be doubly worthy of condemnation, because, while they boast of the name of God, and make profession of his worship, still they are not ashamed to stain and pollute that worship by the sacrileges of idolatrous nations.

The other interpretation is not obscure, and is equally appropriate, that the Jews were devoted to their own inventions, and followed their own abominations, He affirms that they do not worship God sincerely, who despise him according to their own caprice, not only because they are full of avarice, hatred, ambition, dishonesty, cruelty, and extortion, but because they corrupt the worship of God by their own contrivances. Although the pronoun refers to the Jews, yet the Prophet condemns all superstitions which they had borrowed from the heathen nations. Consequently, there is little difference between the two interpretations; for he merely teaches that, because they have insolently and rebelliously shaken off the yoke of God, because wickedness openly prevails among them, everything that proceeds from them is polluted and detestable. Streams that bring down dirty and offensive matter from a muddy and polluted fountain cannot be clean or pure. Choice and desire reveal their obstinacy more clearly; that is, because, knowingly and willingly, they despised God’s commandments, and devoted their heart to everything that was opposed to them, as if they wished intentionally to disdain everything that proceeded from God, that they might obey their depraved lust.

4. I also will choose their delusions. F1063 The Prophet means that the Jews gain nothing by holding out various and plausible pretences and by searching for excuses; because God does not care for the cunning or fine speeches of men. And indeed it is not proper to measure God by our own capacity, and we ought not to depend on human judgment; but it is our duty to judge of the works of God from his word. I will choose; that is, “I will scatter the clouds which they endeavor to spread over themselves, so that their delusions shall be manifest and visible to all; for now they appear to be hidden, but one day they shall be dragged forth to public view.” The meaning may be thus summed up. “Because the Jews have indulged so freely in sinning that everything which they chose was preferred by them to the command ments of God, so also, in his turn, God will lay open their delusions at his pleasure.”

And will bring upon them their terror. F1064 Under the word “terror” he repeats the same thing, according to the custom of Hebrew writers. “I will cause them to know that they have fallen into a mistake, and that the terrors which they indulged shall fall on their own heads. F1065 Thus their excuses or hypocritical pretences will be of no avail for confounding truth and falsehood and veiling superstitions; because the Lord will clearly distinguish between them.

Because I called. The Prophet again condemns the Jews for obstinacy, in not having suffered the Lord to correct them. This is the only remedy that remains for correcting our vices, that we hear the Lord speaking, when he endeavors to bring us back into the right way; but when we sear and harden our hearts, it is the worst of all evils. Whenever therefore men prefer their own inventions to the ordinances and commandments of God, they openly despise God, to whose will they ought to have yielded. This is especially the case when there is added such obstinate hardness of heart as shuts the door against holy warnings, and it is vain for them to allege that they cannot displease God by doing that which they undertake for the purpose of worshipping him; for all that men, by neglecting the word, choose and follow, the Lord rejects and abhors.

Before mine eyes. He repeats what he had formerly said, that the Jews sinned in the sight of God, as if they had resolved to provoke him to anger. At length he adds their manner of doing so, that, with perverse desire, they sought what God had forbidden; nor is it without good reason that he so frequently censures the wicked insolence of men, in defrauding God of his right, by treating contemptuously what he approves.

5. Hear the word of Jehovah. He directs his discourse to the true worshippers of God, and promises to them what they could scarcely have expected during those terrible calamities; and he expressly addresses them, because at that time there were many who falsely boasted of the name of God. Nay more, leaving the undistinguished multitude, he directs his discourse separately to a small number, as he formerly said,

“Seal the law, bind the testimony among my disciples.”
(<230816>Isaiah 8:16.)

Ye who tremble at my word. He points out the true and sincere children of God, by this mark, that they “tremble at the word of the Lord.” This indeed is an uncommon virtue; and therefore he contrasts it with the false profession of those who, by bearing the outward mark of circumcision, wished to be reckoned among the people of God, and made a great profession and show of holiness; that we may know that they alone reverence and fear God who reverence and fear his holy word; that is, who, in consequence of being powerfully impressed by hearing the voice of God, constrain all their senses to obey; for this is a remarkable proof of godliness.

Your brethren said. Because it is customary with hypocritical worshippers of God to make loud boasting of their pompous ritual, the design of the Prophet is, to arm and fortify believers for enduring their attacks, that they may not give way when they are mocked and insulted. As if he had said, “You have to contend not only with foreign nations, but with domestic foes, who hold a place in the Church, and who are bound by the tie of brotherhood on account of the covenant of God which is common to you all. If they mock at your simplicity in the same manner as they haughtily despise God himself, you must boldly and fearlessly resist that temptation.” He therefore calls them “brethren,” although they were enemies of believers and of the word of God, for it is by way of concession that he gives to them that name which they falsely usurped. Hence we infer that this is not a new evil, that enemies, who bear the name of brethren, are nourished in the bosom of the Church. This internal war must be incessantly carried on with hypocrites, who cannot patiently endure that we shall worship God with an honest and upright conscience.

Casting you out for the sake of my name. Literally, “bidding you begone.” As we see the Pope thundering dreadfully against us, as if we had been base and worthless persons; so hypocrites were casting out the small number of believers; for, being superior in number, authority, and wealth, they likewise exercise that tyranny in such a manner that they approve or disapprove of everything according to their own caprice, and cause that believers may be reckoned as of no value, whom they not only overwhelm by their vast numbers, as the chaff does the wheat, but also trample proudly under their feet.

Let Jehovah be glorified. Or, in the future tense, “Jehovah will be glorified.” Others translate it, “Jehovah is severe;” but let us see which is the preferable meaning. They who translate it, “Jehovah is severe,” think that wicked men complain of God’s excessive severity, in not sparing his people and in acting severely toward them; and they think that by this word the people were tempted to despair; for, when wicked men endeavor to turn us aside from God, they take away all hope and confidence of salvation. But I give the preference to either of the other two expositions. That which is most generally approved is the following. Wicked men laughed at the prophecies and promises, because that glory which the Prophets had so frequently mentioned was nowhere to be seen; as if they had said, “Let the Lord display some testimony of his glory, that we may safely rely on it;” and therefore the Prophet wishes to arm believers against such blasphemy, that they may not allow their faith to be overturned by the sneers of wicked men. But this passage might be appropriately and perhaps more correctly interpreted to mean, that wicked men have promised very great things for themselves, as if by their good deeds they had deserved God’s favor, as <300518>Amos 5:18 also reproaches them, that, while they fearlessly provoke God, they confidently trust that he will be gracious to them. Since, therefore, relying on their sacrifices, they scorned all threatenings, and boasted that God would assist them, he replies that they shall see the glory of God in a very different manner. F1066

But he will be seen to your joy. As if he had said, “God, by his coming, will cause believers to know that they have not hoped in vain; for he will appear for the advantage of believers, and for the destruction of those who maintain that he will appear as the defender of wickedness, of which he will be the severe avenger. The former shall enjoy gladness and consolation, while the latter shall be ashamed and shall blush, for they shall quickly feel that the judgment of God, which they now laugh at, is at hand.”

6. A voice of tumult from the city, a voice from the temple. He confirms the preceding statement; namely, that God hath not threatened in vain, that he will speedily come to take vengeance on hypocrites, in order that what has been promised concerning gladness may be more eagerly expected by believers. It is uncertain what are the enemies whom he describes; for this passage may be explained as relating to the Babylonians, whose destruction was the deliverance of his Church. It may also be explained as relating to other enemies, who were nourished in the bosom of the Church; and I am more favorable to this opinion, though I do not deny that it may be viewed in reference to any kind of enemies. But he has in his eye domestic foes, of whom he had formerly spoken, who disdained the voice of God continually addressing them by the mouth of the prophets. He therefore threatens that they shall speedily hear another and more terrible voice; but there is immediately added a mitigation, that the same terror may not discourage the believing servants of God.

The meaning may be thus summed up. “In vain do wicked men boast and set their own obstinacy in opposition to the judgments of God, for they shall not escape his hand, and even ‘from the temple,’ which was their lurking-place of false confidence, his voice shall come forth, and believers will then receive the fruit of their patience.” Would that we did not at the present day experience similar contempt in hypocrites, who set at nought all remonstrances and threatenings, and have no respect for the word of God! To them, therefore, instead of the mild and gentle voice which they now hear, we are compelled to threaten “a tumultuous voice,” which they shall one day hear from other and very different masters; for since the world, with irreligious scorn, disdains the word of God, it shall be constrained not only to hear, but likewise to experience, an armed voice, that is, fire and sword.

7. Before she travailed, she brought forth. Having formerly comforted believers, that they might not be discouraged by the insolence and contempt of brethren, whom he would at length punish, and having thus commanded them to wait for the coming of the Lord with a steady and resolute heart, the Lord at the same time adds, that he will punish them in such a manner that, by their destruction, he will provide for the safety of believers. Nor does he speak of one or two men, but of the whole Church, which he compares to a woman. The same metaphor has already been sometimes employed by him; for God chiefly aims at gathering us into one body, that we may have in it a testimony of our adoption, and may acknowledge him to be a father, and may be nourished in the womb of the Church as our mother. This metaphor of a mother is therefore highly appropriate. It means that the Church shall be restored in such a manner that she shall obtain a large and numerous offspring, though she appear for a time to be childless and barren.

Before her pain came upon her. He repeats the same statement which he has already employed on other occasions; but he expresses something more, namely, that this work of God shall be sudden and unexpected; for he guards believers against carnal views, that they may not judge of the restoration of the Church according to their own opinion. Women carry a child in the womb for nine months, and at length give birth to it with great pain. But the Lord has a very different manner of bringing forth children; for he says that he will cause the child to see the light, before it be possible to perceive or discern it by any feeling of pain. On this account he likewise claims the whole praise for himself, because a miracle sets aside the industry of men.

She brought forth a male. He expressly mentions “a male,” in order to describe the manly and courageous heart of these children; for he means that they shall be a noble offspring, and not soft or effeminate. In like manner we know that believers are regenerated by the Spirit of Christ, that they may finish, with unshaken fortitude, the course of their warfare; and in this sense Paul says that they “have not the spirit of timidity.” (<450815>Romans 8:15.)

8. Who hath heard such a thing? He extols the greatness of the thing of which he has spoken; for he means that there shall be a wonderful and “unheard of” restoration of the Church; so that believers shall not judge of it from the order of nature, but from the grace of God; for when men reflect upon it:. they think that it is like a dream, as the Psalmist says. (<19C601>Psalm 126:1.) He does not mean that the Church shall be restored perfectly and in a moment; for the advancement of this restoration is great and long-continued, and is even slow in the estimation of the flesh; but he shews that even the beginning of it exceeds all the capacity of the human understanding. And yet he does not speak hyperbolically; for we often see that the Church brings forth, which previously did not appear to be pregnant. Nay more, when she is thought to be barren, she is rendered fruitful by the preaching of the gospel; so that we greatly admire the event, when it has happened, which formerly we reckoned to be altogether incredible.

These things were fulfilled in some measure, when the people returned from Babylon; but a far brighter testimony was given in the gospel, by the publication of which a diversified and numerous offspring was immediately brought forth. In our own times, have we not seen the fulfillment of this prophecy? How many children has the Church brought forth during the last thirty years, in which the gospel has been preached? Has not the Lord his people, at the present day, in vast numbers, throughout the whole world? Nothing, therefore, has been here foretold that is not clearly seen.

Shall a nation be born at once? He illustrates the glory of the miracle by a metaphor. No “nation” ever came into the world in an instant; for it is by degrees that men assemble, and grow in number, and spread their nation. But the case is very different with the Church, which all at once, and in more than one place, brings forth a vast number of children. It amounts to this, that God, in a wonderful manner, will cause innumerable children of the Church, in an extraordinary manner, to be born all at once and suddenly.

Shall a land be brought forth in one day? The word ≈ra, (eretz,) “a land,” may be taken either for any country, or for its inhabitants.

9. Do I bring to the birth? As in the preceding verse he extolled in lofty terms the work of God, so he now shews that it ought not to be thought incredible, and that we ought not to doubt of his power, which surpasses all the order of nature; for, if we consider who it is that speaks, and how easy it is for him to perform what he has promised, we shall not remain in such uncertainty as not instantly to recollect that the renewal of the world is in the hand of him, who would have no difficulty in creating a hundred worlds in a moment. A little before, by a burst of astonishment, he intended to magnify the greatness of the work. But now, lest the minds of good men should be perplexed or embarrassed, he exhorts them to consider his strength; and, in order that he may more fully convince them that nothing is so difficult in the eyes of men as not to be in his power and easily performed by him, he brings forward those things which we see every day; for in a woman’s bringing forth a child we see clearly his wonderful power. Shall not the Lord manifest himself to be far more wonderful in enlarging and multiplying the Church, which is the principal theater of his glory? It is therefore exceedingly wicked to limit his strength, by believing that he is less powerful, when he shall choose to act directly and by openly stretching out his hand, than when he acts by natural means.

10. Rejoice ye with Jerusalem. He promises that they who formerly were sad and melancholy shall have a joyful condition; for Isaiah has in view not his own age, but the time of the captivity, during which believers continually groaned, and, overwhelmed with grief, almost despaired; and therefore he exhorts and stimulates to joy all believers, who are moved by strong affection toward the Church, and reckon nothing more desirable than her prosperity. In this way he instructs them that none shall have a share in so valuable a blessing but they who are prompted by a godly love of the Church, and desire to seek her deliverance, and that too when she is contemptible in the eyes of the world; as the Psalmist says,

“For thy meek ones love her stones, and will have compassion on her dust.” (<19A214>Psalm 102:14.)

And therefore he adds, —

All ye that mourn for her; for, since in the captivity there was frightful and shocking desolation, and there appeared to be no longer any hope of safety, he arouses believers, and bids them be of good cheer, or at least prepare themselves for joy. And this exhortation contains also a promise and something more, for a bare promise would not have carried so much weight. But those statements must not be limited exclusively to a single period; for we ought to abide by the general rule, of which we have often spoken already, namely, that those promises must be extended from the return of the people down to the reign of Christ, and to the full perfection of that reign.

11. That ye may suck. This verse ought to be joined with the preceding verse; for the Prophet explains what shall be the occasion of joy, namely, because the wretched and miserable condition of the Church shall be changed into a happy and prosperous condition. By the word “suck” he makes an allusion to young infants; as if he had said, “That you may enjoy your mother with every advantage, and may hang on her breasts.” Here all believers, whatever may be their age, are compared by him to children, that they may remember their infirmity and may be confirmed by the strength of the Lord; and therefore this metaphor of “sucking” and “milking” ought to be carefully observed.

From the breast of her consolations. Some take the word “consolations” in an active, and others in a passive sense; but I prefer to adopt the passive signification; for he means the consolations which the Church has received, and of which he makes his children partakers. And indeed none can be greater or more abundant, none can be more excellent, than that ground of joy; and this appears more clearly from the following clause, “that ye may be delighted with the brightness of her glory.”

12. I cause peace to flow on her like a river. He continues his metaphor, and compares the children of God to infants, that are carried in the arms, and warmed in the bosom of their mothers, who even play with them. And in order that he may express more strongly his affection toward us, he compares himself to a mother, whose love, as we have formerly seen, (page 30,) exceeds every other by a wide interval. (<234915>Isaiah 49:15.) The Lord wishes to be to us in the room of a mother, that, instead of the annoyances, reproaches, distresses, and anxieties, which we have endured, he may treat us gently, and, as it were, fondle us in his bosom. By the word “peace” he means prosperity.

And the glory of the Gentiles as an overflowing torrent. The word “glory” contains a repetition, by which he denotes every kind of riches, so that nothing is wanting to full and perfect peace; for, since the Gentiles had formerly lived luxuriously, and had enjoyed a vast abundance of everything desirable, he affirms that all riches, and everything that belongs to a happy life, shall be possessed by believers, as the rivers run into the sea. By “constant flowing” he denotes continuance; for, since God is an inexhaustible fountain, his peace differs widely from the peace of the world, which quickly passes away and is dried up. Whenever therefore we behold the sad and melancholy condition of the Church, let us remember that these promises relate to us not less than to that people. Seeing that the Lord has rivers of peace which he wishes to cause to flow into his Church, let us not despair even amidst the fiercest wars; but, in our distresses and straits, let us cheer our hearts and rejoice. When he takes pleasure in us as infants, and not as men of mature age, we ought to acknowledge our condition, that we may be satisfied with such consolations. And indeed it is a token of remarkable condescension that he thus bears with our weakness.

13. As a man  F1067 whom his mother comforteth. It is wonderful that the Prophet, who appeared to have already spoken enough about this renewal, dwells on it so largely. But, because he can neither express the greatness and warmth of the love which God bears toward us, nor satisfy himself with speaking about it, for that reason he mentions and repeats it frequently.

And you shall have consolation in Jerusalem. There are two ways in which this may be explained. It may be said that believers shall have joyful hearts, when they shall behold the Church restored; or, that the Church, after having been restored, shall discharge her duty by gladdening her children. I prefer the latter interpretation, though either of them is admissible. The former appears to be a richer interpretation; but we must consider what the Prophet meant, and not what we think the most beautiful. In the first place, indeed, he makes God the author of the joy, and justly; but, in the second place, he adds that Jerusalem is his handmaid. But this is not addressed to irreligious scorners, who are not moved by any solicitude about the Church, but to those who, with holy zeal, declare that they are her children.

14. And ye shall see. By the word “see,” he expresses undoubted experience, that believers may not doubt as to the result, but, embracing this prediction with full belief, may patiently endure for a time the barrenness of the Church.

And your bones shall flourish as grass. He illustrates his former statement by a metaphor, saying that “their bones” shall regain their former vigor, as faded “grass” becomes fresh and green again. He mentions the “bones,” which are commonly dried up by a melancholy spirit, (<201722>Proverbs 17:22,) and, on the other hand, are replenished and invigorated by a happy and cheerful disposition. Thus he describes an ardent and invaluable joy, and seems to allude to the sadness by which believers had been almost dried up during the captivity, and had become like dead men. The Lord therefore comforts them, and promises that the Church shall flourish, and shall abound in everything that is desirable; as if bones, that wanted moisture, should regain their former vigor, or as grass, which appears to be dead during the winter, recovers its freshness every year.

And the hand of Jehovah shall be known toward his servants. That they may cherish confidence, he nexts bids them rise to God, who will then reveal his assistance. It follows from this, that the hand of God has not always been known, but has sometimes remained concealed, as if he had no care about his people. At first sight, he appeared to have cast them off; for Daniel, and other good men, (<270106>Daniel 1:6,) not less than Zedekiah, (<245209>Jeremiah 52:9,) were carried into captivity. He says, that when the fine weather shall smile upon them, there shall be such a distinction between the good and the bad, as to make manifest this hand, which formerly was in some measure hidden; because he will no longer conceal himself, or permit the wicked to ravage without control, but will openly shew how great is his solicitude about his people. If therefore for a time the enemies have the superiority, and pursue their lawless course without being punished, if we appear to be overlooked and destitute of all assistance, let us not despair; for the time will come when the Lord will reveal himself, and will rescue us from their assaults and tyranny.

15. For, lo, Jehovah will come in fire. The object of this (uJpotu>pwsiv) lively description is, that believers, when they see worthless men laughing at their distresses, and growing more and more insolent, may not on that account turn aside from the right path, or lose courage; for he intended not only to smite wicked men, who are moved by no threatenings, and scorn all instruction, F1068 but to comfort good men, that they may feel that they are happy, because they are under God’s protection; and may not attach themselves to the wicked on account of the prosperity of all their undertakings. Their advantage is, therefore, what he has chiefly in view, that they may be satisfied with God’s protection and grace. But it may admit of doubt whether or not he includes the last judgment, along with the temporal punishments with which he now begins to chastise the wicked. For my own part, I have no doubt that he intends to include that judgment also, along with those which were only the forerunners of eternal destruction.

Will come. This began to be accomplished, when, by carrying away the people to Babylon, God took vengeance on domestic foes. Next, when the time of the deliverance was accomplished, he attacked more severely the wicked Gentiles by an armed force, and ceased not to give other and various proofs of his approach, by which he shewed himself to be present with the elect people, and came in fire to judge their enemies. Lastly, we know that he will come in fire at the last day, to take vengeance on all the wicked. But this passage ought not to be limited to the last judgment, so as to include all the rest. Yet these threatenings, as we shall see soon afterwards, are especially directed by the Prophet against hypocritical Jews.

These metaphorical expressions are very customary in Scripture; for we could not comprehend this dreadful judgment of God in any other way than by the Prophets employing metaphors drawn from known and familiar objects. (<530108>2 Thessalonians 1:8; <610307>2 Peter 3:7.) By means of them the prophets endeavor to make a deep impression on our senses, that, struck with the true fear of God, we may not envy the wicked, for whom such dreadful vengeance is prepared. Hence we see how trivial and useless are the speculations of the Sophists, who dispute about the refined nature and qualities of that fire; for the design of Scripture is to point out to us under figures the dreadful judgment of God, which otherwise we could not imagine or understand. This is still more evident from the word “sword,” in the following verse; for it conveys the same meaning.

16. For Jehovah will judge in fire. Here he brings forward nothing new, but merely confirms the former statement, and shews that this judgment will be dreadful; that none may think that it is a matter of small importance. Accordingly, he describes that horror in strong language, that the wicked may fear, and that believers, on the other hand, may keep themselves holy and chaste, and may withdraw from the society of the wicked. Yet let them endure patiently the unjust and cruel attacks of enemies, till the armed avenger come forth front heaven. F1069

And many shall be the slain of Jehovah. He threatens the destruction of all men, so that there may be a prodigious mass of corpses. And he expressly added this, because ungodliness reigned everywhere, and believers were subjected to a dangerous temptation on account of the prosperity of the wicked; for such is the fickleness of our minds, that we allow ourselves to be led away by a bad custom, and are alarmed by a multitude, as if it were sufficient for restraining the hand of God. This sinful fear the Prophet corrects by reminding’ them, that the more ungodliness shall abound, and the greater the number of wicked men, so much the more will the wrath of the Lord be kindled, that he may make a greater and more extensive slaughter; and the multitude and conspiracy of the ungodly shall not hinder him from carrying them away by the same ruin.

17. They who sanctify themselves. He now describes those enemies of whom he said, that God’s anger would be kindled against them; for it might have been doubtful whether he spoke of foreign and avowed enemies, or directed his discourse to the despisers of God, although they had been mixed with those who were elect and holy; and therefore he plainly addresses the false and degenerate Jews. Nor have I any doubt that, in the first place, he rebukes hypocrites, and, in the second place, when he says, “Who eat swine’s flesh,” he describes men of immoral lives, that is, those who were openly wicked and grossly licentious. Hypocrites sanctified themselves, that is, assumed false disguises of holiness, and deceived many under this pretense.

They purified themselves in the gardens; that is, they polluted themselves with various superstitions, although they imagined that, by means of those superstitions, they rendered themselves pure in the sight of God. Others, without any reserve, despised God and all religion. It is therefore a general statement, in which he includes all the ungodly, to whatever class they may belong; that is, both those who openly display their wickedness, and those who hide and cover it by various disguises.

Behind one in the midst. F1070 Some commentators supply the word “pool,” or “laver;” as if holy water had been placed “in the midst” of the garden for ablutions. But another meaning would be equally appropriate; that every one chose a God for himself exclusively, and therefore every one out of many trees had his own tree.

18. For I — their works, and their thoughts. F1071 He confirms what he said in the preceding verse; namely, that punishment shall be executed on all the ungodly, in order that, although the Lord permit them for a time to sin with impunity, yet believers, being convinced that they shall one day be punished, may guard against following their example. The Lord here testifies that he sees and observes their works, and that one day he will actually manifest that none can be concealed from his eyes. Others understand by it that the ungodly can accomplish nothing without God’s permission. That statement is indeed true, but is not applicable to this passage; for everybody sees that it is unnatural, and at variance with the context of the Prophet, who merely confirms what he formerly said, that hypocrites and wicked men shall not finally escape with impunity, because God perceives all their actions, and schemes, and thoughts; and that they gain nothing by their evasions, as if they were never to be dragged to the judgment.

Because the time is come. These words confirm still more what has been already said, for he says that the time is at hand when he shall assemble all the nations, that he may cast off the hypocrites and ungodly, and gather and adopt a people to himself from among them. The Jews were puffed up with pride, and despised all other nations as unholy. But the Lord declares that he will adopt those nations, that they may be partakers of his glory, of which the Jews prove themselves to be unworthy.

This is a remarkable passage, which teaches us that God is not confined to any people, so as not to choose whomsoever he pleases, by casting off unbelievers whom he formerly called to himself. This is abundantly explained by Paul, (<451019>Romans 10:19; 11:25,) where he shews that we have come into a possession which was left empty, after the Jews were cast off through their unbelief. Isaiah now threatens them in this manner. “Think not that God is in want of peoples when you have revolted and have rendered yourselves unworthy of his grace, for he will have others; but he will shew that he is the judge, and will not finally permit you to abuse so great forbearance.”

And they shall come. He says that “they shall come,” because, being ingrafted by unity of faith, they shall be united in the Church with the true Jews, who have not swerved from the adoption; for, in consequence of the Jews being near to God, the Gentiles, who were at a distance, must be joined to them, that, by the removal of disagreement, they might become one body.

And shall see my glory. To “see the glory” of the Lord, is nothing else than to enjoy that grace which he had bestowed on the Jews; for the special privilege of that nation was, that they beheld the glory of God, and had tokens of his presence, he says that now the Gentiles, who had not enjoyed these benefits, shall see and behold that glory, for the Lord will reveal himself to all without exception.

19. And I will place in them a sign. This may be understood in two ways; either that God holds out a sign, or that by some symbol or mark he seals his own people, that they may be placed in safety. The former exposition is more generally approved, but some reason childishly about it as relating to the sign of the cross, while others refer it to the preaching of the Gospel. In my opinion both are mistaken; for he seems rather to allude to what, Moses tells us, happened at the departure and deliverance of the people. It is also declared (<660703>Revelation 7:3) that “as many as the Lord hath sealed” shall be safe, even when his anger shall be fiercely kindled throughout the whole world; just as they whose door-posts were marked in Egypt escaped safely. (<021213>Exodus 12:13.) And thus he shews that none can escape God’s wrath, except the elect, on whom the Lord has impressed his mark and seal.

And will send some of them, being reserved. In a word, the Prophet heightens the description of what has been already said about the grievous and terrible vengeance which the Lord will execute on the ungodly; for all would have perished without distinction if the Lord had not marked some of them with his seal. From the general destruction of the whole nation, therefore, he says that he will reserve a small number. And this is the true meaning of the Prophet; just as he had said, in other passages, that he would rescue “a remnant” from the general conflagration. (<230109>Isaiah 1:9; 10:22.) Of this band, which had been reserved, he says that some shall be his heralds to celebrate his name among the Gentiles; just as we see that the doctrine of salvation, by the agency of a few, was spread far and wide.

To the nations of Tarshish, Pul, and Lud. By the name “Tarshish” he denotes Cilicia, and includes the whole coast of the Mediterranean Sea opposite to Judea. Others think that it denotes Africa and Cappadocia; but I rather adopt the former view. By Lud, some suppose Lydia to be meant; and others, Asia Minor. By “those who draw the bow” are meant the Parthians, because they were skillful in archery. By Tubal and Javan he denotes Italy and Greece, and by the Islands he denotes unknown countries; for by the name “Islands,” as we have seen on many former occasions, the Jews denoted all that lay beyond the sea.

Which have not heard my name. He means that the knowledge of God shall be spread throughout the whole world; for the Greeks, Italians, Parthians, Cilicians, and other nations had heard nothing about pure religion and the true worship of God; and the whole world was plunged in the deepest darkness of ignorance. He therefore promises that the glory of God shall be known in every part of the world. The word “nations” is emphatic; for at that time the Lord was known to not more than one people, but now he has revealed himself to all.

20. And they shall bring. Here he clearly explains what was formerly said, namely, that all who shall escape and survive, though they be few in number, shall nevertheless be priests, who shall bring sacrifices to God from all places. He alludes to the ancient ceremony of the Law, though he points out the difference that will be between those oblations and the sacrifices of the ancient Law; for he appoints a new kind of punishment and new sacrifices. As he had said that he would gather all the nations, so he now shews that the priests, whom he had appointed, shall not labor in vain; for God will grant prosperity to their undertakings.

All your brethren. He gives the name of “brethren” to those who formerly were strangers; for he has in his eye the new relation which arises from faith. We know that foreign nations were ingrafted by faith into the family of Abraham. Yet others bring out a different meaning, which I do not absolutely reject. “When God shall gather a new people to himself out of foreign nations, the Jews, who had been scattered in all directions, shall be brought into one place.” This was also accomplished; but it seems more appropriate to refer it to the calling of the Gentiles, because at that time, by the removal of the difference, a brotherly relation began to be established among all whom God wished to adopt to be his children. Abraham was the father of one nation, and yet not all who were descended from him according to the flesh are accounted his children; for the Ishmaelites and the Edomites were rejected. (<450907>Romans 9:7.) The time when he became “the father of many nations” (<011705>Genesis 17:5; <450417>Romans 4:17) was when God adopted the Gentiles, and joined them to himself by a covenant, that they might follow the faith of Abraham. And thus we see the reason why the Prophet gives the name of “brethren” of the Jews to us, who formerly were aliens from the Church of God. It is because he had previously cast out of their place false and reprobate brethren.

It is our duty to observe this fruit which is produced by the godly labors of those who faithfully serve the Lord, namely, that they “bring their brethren” from deadly errors to God, the fountain of life. By this consolation they ought to cheer their hearts, and to support them amidst the distresses and tribulations which they endure. The Lord does not suffer any of his own people to perish. Thus it is a high enjoyment and privilege, when he wishes to make use of our labors for delivering our “brethren.”

Out of all nations. He means that there shall no longer be any difference between Jews and Gentiles; because God will throw down “the partition-wall,” (<490214>Ephesians 2:14,) and will form a Church “out of all nations.” And thus was fulfilled the saying of David concerning Christ,

“Ask of me; I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession.” (<190208>Psalm 2:8.)

When he speaks of the “holy mountain,” he accommodates himself to the customs and usages of that period; for at Jerusalem God was worshipped in the temple. But now the temple is everywhere diffused; for everywhere we are at liberty to “lift up holy hands to God,” (<540208>1 Timothy 2:8,) and there is no longer any distinction of places. He likewise mentions oblations and sacrifices, which were offered in the temple; although the sacrifices which are now to be offered differ widely from the ancient sacrifices. But the prophets, as we have frequently remarked, were under a necessity of borrowing comparisons from known and familiar objects. Formerly the sacrifices were taken from the flocks and herds; but the Apostles and other priests of Christ slew men themselves, and offered them as a living sacrifice to God by the Gospel. Paul testifies that he discharged the office of the priesthood, when he slew men by the sword of the Gospel, “that they might be an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (<451501>Romans 15:1 6.)

It is not therefore a legal priesthood, and does not resemble that of the Papists, who say that they sacrifice Christ; F1072 but it is the priesthood of the Gospel, by which men are slain, in order that, being renewed by the Spirit, they may be offered to the Lord. Thus, whomsoever we can gain to Christ, we offer in sacrifice, that they may be wholly consecrated to God. Moreover, every person sacrifices when he devotes and dedicates himself to God, and offers to him unreserved obedience; and this is the sacrifice which Paul calls “reasonable.” (<451201>Romans 12:1.) The end of our calling is here pointed out to be, that, washing away our pollutions, and being dead to ourselves, we may learn to devote ourselves to the cultivation of holiness.

With horses and chariots. There are some who endeavor to find an allegory here, and who think that the Prophet made use of the word “bring” on this account, that the Gospel does not constrain men by fear, but rather draws them gently, so that of their own accord they betake themselves to God, and run with cheerfulness and joy. But for my own part, I take a simpler view of this passage. Because this doubt might arise in the minds of many persons, “How is it possible that men shall come to us from countries so distant?” he replies, “Horses, chariots, and carriages shall not be wanting; for the Lord has at his command all that can be of service for assisting his people and conducting them to the end which he has in view.” Yet I do not deny that the Gospel may be called a “chariot,” because it conveys us to the hope of eternal life; but I think that the Prophet simply declares that nothing shall hinder God from gathering his Church, and that he will have at his command all the necessary means, that none of the elect whom he has called may fail in the middle of the course.

21. And I will even take some of them for priests and Levites. The Prophet heightens the description of that which he had already declared about the extraordinary grace of God. He had made known that the Church of God should be collected out of all nations, so that, in spite of every difficulty and obstruction, even distant nations should draw near to them. But now he proceeds further, and instructs them that the Gentiles shall not only be adopted by God, but shall also be elevated by him to the highest honor. Already it was a great honor, that unclean and polluted nations were reckoned to be a holy people; but now here is something far more wonderful, that they are elevated to the highest pinnacle of rank.

Hence we see that the priesthood under Christ is very different from what it was under the Law; for under the Law one tribe exclusively was admitted to the priesthood, and the Gentiles, as unclean, were so far from having it in their power to discharge that priesthood, that they were even forbidden to enter into the temple; but now all are admitted without distinction. Some expound this passage in a general manner, that the Gentiles shall be priests; that is, shall offer themselves to God, as Scripture frequently denominates all believers “a royal priesthood.” (<600209>1 Peter 2:9; <660106>Revelation 1:6; 5:10.) But he appears to describe in an especial manner ministers and teachers whom the Lord also chose from among the Gentiles, and appointed to execute this distinguished office; that is, to preach the Gospel; such as Luke, Timothy, and others of the same class, who offered spiritual sacrifices to God by the Gospel.

22. For as the new heavens. Here he promises that the restoration of the Church shall be of such a nature that it shall last for ever. Many might be afraid that it would be ruined a second time; and therefore he declares that henceforth, after having been restored by God, its condition shall be permanent. Accordingly, he mentions here two benefits of surpassing excellence, restoration and eternity. When he speaks of “new heavens” and a “new earth,” he looks to the reign of Christ, by whom all things have been renewed, as the Apostle teaches in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Now the design of this newness is, that the condition of the Church may always continue to be prosperous and happy. What is old tends to decay; what is restored and renewed must be of longer continuance. (<580813>Hebrews 8:13.)

So shall your seed and your name remain. God had promised that “the sun and moon,” so long as they remained in heaven, should be witnesses of the eternal succession, that the posterity of David might not be cut off. But because some interruption arose from the treachery and ingratitude of the people, the restoration effected by Christ actually confirmed that prediction. Justly, therefore, does Isaiah say, “Your sons shall succeed to you, and your grandsons shall succeed to your sons;” and as God will establish the world, that it may never perish, so the succession of the Church shall be perpetual, that it may be prolonged through all ages.

In a word, he explains what he had formerly said about renewing the world, that none may think that this relates to trees, or beasts, or the order of the stars; for it must be referred to the inward renewal of man. The ancients were mistaken when they thought that these things related absolutely to the last judgment; and they had not sufficiently weighed the context of the Prophet or the authority of the Apostle. Yet I do not deny that they extend as far as to that judgment, because we must not hope for a perfect restoration before Christ, who is the life of the world, shall appear; but we must begin higher, even with that deliverance by which Christ regenerates his people, that they may be new creatures. (<470701>2 Corinthians 7:1.)

23. From a month to his month, and from a Sabbath to his Sabbath. F1073 The Prophet again points out what shall be the difference between the nature of the spiritual worship of God which shall be under the reign of Christ and of the carnal worship which was under the Law. Sacrifices were offered every month at the new moon. There were Sabbaths, and other festivals, and solemn days, which they carefully observed. But under the reign of Christ there shall be a constant and uninterrupted solemnity; for there are not fixed and stated days of sacrifices on which we must go to Jerusalem, or offer anything in one place or in another; but our oblations, festivals, and rejoicings are continued from day to day in unbroken succession. Yet he alludes to the ancient custom of sacrifices as we have already said that the prophets are frequently accustomed to do.

So then the Lord wishes to have “pure sacrifices” offered to him daily, (<600205>1 Peter 2:5,) not such as were formerly offered under the Law or are now offered by Papists, who either rely foolishly on their ceremonies, as if they were expiations of crime, or basely venture to sacrifice Christ, F1074 but spiritual sacrifices, that we may reverence and adore God with a pure and sincere worship. (<430424>John 4:24.) As to the opinion held by some, that this passage proves the abrogation of the Law and of ancient ceremonies, it does not appear to me to rest on sufficient grounds, it is indeed certain that those legal ceremonies have been set aside, and that may be gathered from this passage; but in proof of that point I would choose to employ other passages which contain stronger evidence. There is only here a contrast between the Sabbath and festivals which were celebrated under the Law, and the perpetual Sabbath which we have at the present day. (<580409>Hebrews 4:9, 10.)

24. And they shall go forth. We must not here attempt to obtain subtle and ingenious interpretations; for he simply informs those who shall be adopted into the Church that they shall see, all around them, the dreadful vengeance of God. Yet there is an implied contrast between the straits of the calamity and the free departure; as if he had said, “Out of the dark prison in which they had been confined they shall again come forth to the light.”

And shall see the dead bodies of men. He does not mean that this slaughter shall take place in the assembly of believers; for this would greatly diminish the happiness of the Church, in which God displays all testimonies of joy and gladness. But as he formerly spoke of the perpetual glory by which he shall dignify his people, so he now threatens the punishment which he shall inflict on the reprobate, that the godly may be more careful to keep themselves in the fear of God.

And their fire shall not be extinguished. When he says that they shall be tormented by “fire,” this mode of expression, as I have formerly remarked, F1075 is metaphorical. And this is clearly evident from the succeeding clause; for worms will not be formed out of the earth to gnaw the hearts of unbelievers. The plain meaning, therefore, is, that the wicked shall have a bad conscience as an executioner, to torment them without end, and that torment awaits them greater than all other torments; and finally, that they shall tremble and be agitated in a dreadful and shocking manner, as if a worm were gnawing the heart of a man, or a fire were consuming it, and yet thus consumed, he did not die.

And they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. Because the wicked are now held in the highest honor, and from their lofty position look down with contempt on good men, the Prophet threatens a shocking change; for, along with unutterable torments, they shall also endure the deepest disgrace; as it is just and right that they who despised and reproached the glory of God shall be loaded with every reproach, and shall be the objects of abhorrence to angels and to the whole world.


A TRANSLATION OF

CALVINS VERSION OF

THE PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH.

CHAPTER 1

1               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.

2               Hear, O heavens, And hearken, O earth, For thus the Lord speaketh: I have nourished And brought up children; Yet they have acted wickedly towards me. fa1

3               The ox knoweth his owner, And the ass his masters crib; Israel doth not know; My people doth not understand.

4               O sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, Seed of evil-doers, degenerate children! They have forsaken Jehovah, They have despised fa2 the Holy One of Israel, They are estranged backwards.

5               Why should I strike you any more? Ye will add faithlessness. The whole head is sickness, And the whole heart is faintness.

6               From the sole of the foot even to the head. There is no soundness in it; A wound, a swelling, And a purifying sore; And they have not been plastered, nor bound up, Nor softened with ointment.

7               Your country is desolation; Your cities are burnt with fire; Your land do strangers devour in your presence, It is reduced to solitude, like the destruction of foreigners.

8               And the daughter of Zion shall be left, As a cottage in a vineyard, As a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, As a city laid waste.

9               Unless the Lord of hosts bad left us a very small remnant, We should have been as Sodom, And like Gomorrah.

10             Hear the word of the Lord, ye princes of Sodom! Give car to the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah! Of what value to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? Saith the Lord.

11             I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, And of the fat of fed beasts; And in the blood of oxen, or of sheep, or of he-goats, I delight not.

12             When you come that you may appear before my face, Who hath required this at your hand? Even to tread my courts.

13             Do not continue to bring an offering of vanity. Incense is an abomination to me. The new-moon, And the sabbath, And the yearly assemblies, I cannot endure, (It is a vain thing, ) Nor the assembly.

14             Your new-moons And your yearly festivals. My soul hateth; They have been a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.

15             When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you. Even though you multiply prayer, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.

16             Wash you, make you clean; Take away the wickedness of your practices from before mine eyes; Cease to do evil;

17             Learn to do well: Seek judgment, restore fa3 the oppressed; Plead for the orphan, defend the widow.

18             Come now, And let us reason together, Hath the Lord said: If your sins be as scarlet, They shall be white as snow; If they be red like purple, They shall be as wool.

19             If ye shall be willing And shall hearken, Ye shall eat the good of the land.

20             But if ye shall refuse And rebel, Ye shall be consumed by the sword; For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

21             How is the faithful city become a harlot! She was full of judgment, And righteousness lodged by night fa4 in her; But now murderers.

22             Thy silver is become dross, And thy wine is mixed with water.

23             Thy princes are rebellious, And are companions of thieves; Every one loveth a gift, And seeketh eagerly for rewards. They judge not the cause of the fatherless, Nor doth the cause of the widow come to them.

24             Therefore saith the Lord, fa5 Jehovah of hosts, The mighty One of Israel; Alas! I will take consolation on mine adversaries, I will be avenged of mine enemies.

25             I will turn my hand upon thee; I will purely purge away thy dross, And I will take away all thy tin.

26             And I will restore thy judges as at the first, And thy counselors as at the beginning. Then shall it be said of thee, The city of righteousness, The faithful city.

27             Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, And they who shall be brought back to her with righteousness.

28             And the destruction of the transgressors And of the sinners shall be together, And they who have revolted from the Lord shall be consumed.

29             Yea, they shall be ashamed of the trees which ye have desired, And they shall be covered with disgrace. By the groves which ye have chosen.

30             Ye shall surely be as a tree whose leaf fadeth, And as a grove that hath no water.

31             And your strong man fa6 shall be as tow, And the maker of it as a spark; And they shall both be burnt, And there shall be none to quench them.

CHAPTER 2

1               The word which Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah And Jerusalem.

2               And it shall come to pass in the last of the days, That the mountain of the house of Jehovah Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it.

3               And many peoples shall come, And shall say, Come, And we shall go up To the mountain of Jehovah, To the house of the God of Jacob; And he will teach us in his ways, And we shall walk in his paths; For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

4               And he will judge among the nations, And will rebuke many peoples: And they shall beat their swords into spades, And their spears into pruning-hooks; And nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they practice war any more.

5               O house of Jacob, come ye, And we shall walk in the light of the Lord.

6               Verily thou hast forsaken thy people, the house of Jacob; Because they are filled with the east fa7 And with soothsayers, like the Philistines; And they have delighted in the children of foreigners.

7               Their land is full of silver And gold, And there is no end to their treasures. Their land is also full of horses, And there is no end to their chariots.

8               Their land is also full of idols, And they have bowed down before the work of their own hands, Before that which their fingers have made.

9               And the man of low degree boweth down, And the man of rank humbleth himself; Therefore do not thou forgive them. fa8

10             Enter into the rock, Hide thee in the dust, From before the fear of the Lord And the glory of his majesty.

11             The loftiness of the eyes of men shall be humbled, And the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down; And Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day.

12             For the day of Jehovah of hosts shall be On every one that is proud And lofty, And on all that is lifted up, And it shall be brought low.

13             Even on all the cedars of Lebanon high And lifted up, On all the oaks of Bashan,

14             And on all the lofty mountains, And on all the high hills,

15             And on every lofty tower, And on every fortified wall;

16             On all the ships of Tarshish, And on delightful pictures.

17             And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, Arid the haughtiness of men shall be humbled; And Jehovah alone shall be exalted on that day.

18             And he will utterly abolish the idols.

19             And they shall enter into caverns of the rocks, And into clefts of the earth, From the presence of the terror of Jehovah, And from the glory of his majesty, When he shall arise to shake the earth.

20             In that day shall a man cast away His idols of silver, And his idols of gold,Which they made for him to worship, Into the cavern of the moles And of the bats;

21             And they shall enter into the clefts of the rocks, And into the tops of the ragged rocks, From before the fear of the Lord, And from the glory of his majesty, When he shall arise to shake the earth.

22             Cease then from man, Whose breath is in his nostrils; For in what respect fa9 is he valued?

CHAPTER 3

1               For, behold, the Governor, Jehovah of hosts, Will take away from Jerusalem And Judah The stay And the strength; The whole stay of bread; The whole stay of water;

2               The strong man And the man of war, The judge And the prophet, And the diviner And the elder;

3               The captain of fifty, And the man of rank, The senator, And the skilful artificer, And the eloquent. fa10

4               And I will appoint boys to be their rulers, And babes shall rule over them.

5               The people shall violently oppress each other, A man his neighbor; The youth shall behave insolently towards the old man, The despicable towards the honorable.

6               When every man shall take hold of his brother Of the family of his father, saying, Thou hast raiment; Be thou our ruler; Let this ruin be under thy hand;

7               He shall swear in that day, saying, I will not be a healer; For in my house is neither bread nor raiment; Therefore make me not a ruler of the people.

8               Verily Jerusalem is ruined, And Judah is fallen; Because their tongue And their practices are against Jehovah, To provoke the eyes of his glory.

9               The proof of their countenance answereth in them; fa11 They have declared their sin, as Sodom, And have not hid it. Wo to their soul! For they have brought evil on them.

10             Say ye to the righteous man, It shall be well; For they shall eat the fruit of their hands.

11             Wo to the wicked man! It shall be ill; For according to the works of his hands. Shall it be rewarded to him.

12             Of my people children are oppressors, And women rule over them. O my people! They who govern thee lead thee astray, And pervert the way of thy paths.

13             Jehovah standeth to plead, And standeth up to judge the people.

14             Jehovah will enter into judgment With the elders of his people, And with their rulers; And ye have destroyed the vineyard, And the spoil of the poor is in your houses.

15             What mean ye that ye crush my people, And grind the faces of the poor? Saith the Lord Jehovah of hosts.

16             Jehovah also saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, And walk with stretched-forth neck, And with wandering eyes, And walk And mince as they go, And make a tinkling with their feet.

17             Therefore will the Lord make bald. The crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, And the Lord will expose their shame.

18             In that day will the Lord take away. Ornaments that tinkled, or were made of net-work, or like a half-moon,

19             Perfumes, bracelets, And head-hands;

20             Bonnets, ornaments of the legs, Chaplets, neck-amulets, And ear-rings;

21             Rings And nose-jewels,

22             Changeable dresses, mantles, Upper garments, And hair-ties,

23             Mirrors And fine linens, Hoods And veils.

24             And instead of a sweet odor there shall be rottenness, And instead of a girdle, a rent, And instead of curled locks, baldness; Instead of a belt, a girdle of sackcloth, Instead of beauty, burning.

25             Thy men shall fall by the sword, And thy might in the battle.

26             Her gates shall lament And mourn, And she, desolate, shall sit on the ground.

CHAPTER 4

1               In that day, therefore, shall seven women. Take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, We will wear our own raiment; Only let thy name be called on us, fa12 And take thou away our reproach.

2               In that day shall the branch of Jehovah Be for beauty And glory, And the fruit of the earth. Be for excellence And comeliness, To the escaped of Israel.

3               And it shall come to pass. That he who shall be left in Zion, And shall remain in Jerusalem, Shall be called holy, And all shall be enrolled Among the living fa13 at Jerusalem.

4               When the Lord shall have washed away. The filth of the daughter of Zion, And shall have cleansed the blood of Jerusalem From the midst of her, Both by the Spirit of judgment, And by the Spirit of burning.

5               And Jehovah will create on every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, And on all her assemblies, A cloud And darkness by day, And the brightness of a flaming fire by night; For on all the glory shall be a defense.

6               And a covering shall be by day, For a shadow from the heat, And for refuge, And for a covert from storm And from rain.

CHAPTER 5

1               Come, I will sing for my beloved A song of my beloved to his vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard On a hill, the son of oil.

2               He fenced it, And gathered out the stones, And planted it as a choice vine; He reared a tower in the midst of it, And built a wine-press in it: He therefore hoped that it would yield grapes, And it yieldeth wild grapes.

3               Now then, O inhabitant of Jerusalem, And man of Judah, Judge ye between me And my vineyard.

4               What more ought to have been done to my vineyard, Which I have not done to it? How did I look that it should yield grapes, And yet it hath yielded wild grapes?

5               And now come, I will show to you, What I will do to my vineyard. I will take away its hedge, that it may become pasture; I will break down its wall, that it may be trodden down.

6               I will lay it waste; It shall not be pruned nor digged; And the brier And thorn shall grow up. Yea, I will command the clouds That they do not rain on it.

7               Verily the vineyard of Jehovah of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah his pleasant plant. Hence he looked for judgment, And behold oppression; For righteousness, And behold a cry.

8               Wo to them that join house to house, And add field to field, Till there be no place; That you may be placed alone, In the midst of the earth.

9               This is in the ears of Jehovah of hosts, If many houses be not laid desolate, Great And fair, without inhabitant.

10             Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall produce one bath, And the seed of a homer shall yield an ephah.

11             Wo to them that rise early, To follow drunkenness, And who prolong the time till night, While wine inflameth them.

12             And the harp, the lyre, the tabret, And the pipe, And wine Are in their entertainment’s; But they do not regard the work of Jehovah, Nor consider the operation of his hands.

13             Therefore my people are gone into captivity, Because they have no knowledge; And their glory are men famished, And their multitude are dried up with thirst.

14             Therefore hell hath enlarged his soul, And opened his mouth without measure; And his glory And his multitude hath descended, And his wealth, And he that rejoiced in her.

15             And the man of low degree shall be bowed down, And the man of rank shall be humbled; Yea, the eyes of the haughty shall be humbled.

16             And Jehovah of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, And God, who is holy, shall be sanctified in righteousness.

17             And the lambs shall feed after their manner, And the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.

18             Wo to them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, And sin as with cart-ropes.

19             Who say, Let him make speed, And hasten his work, That we may see it; Let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near And come, That we may know it.

20             Wo to them that call evil good, And good evil; That put darkness for light, And light for darkness; That turn bitter into sweet, And sweet into bitter.

21             Wo to them that are wise in their own eyes, And are prudent in their own sight.

22             Wo to them that are powerful to drink wine, And powerful men to mingle strong drink;

23             Who justify the wicked for reward, And take away the righteousness of the righteous from him.

24             Therefore, as the tongue of fire devoureth the stubble, And the chaff is consumed by the flame; So their root shall be as rottenness, And their blossom shall pass away as dust; Because they have east away the law of Jehovah of hosts, And have loathed the word of the Holy One of Israel.

25             Therefore the anger of Jehovah, Hath been kindled against his people, And, stretching forth his hand against them, He hath smitten them; And the mountains trembled, . And their torn carcass was thrown into the midst of the streets; And for all these things his anger hath not been turned away, But his hand is stretched out still.

26             And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from afar; He will hiss to the nation from the end of the earth; And lo, it will come speedy And swift.

27             None shall be weary nor stumble among them; None shall slumber nor sleep; None shall have the girdle of their loins loosed, Nor shall the latchet of their shoes be broken.

28             Their arrows will be sharp, And all their bows bent. The hoofs of their horses shall be counted as flint, And their wheels as a whirlwind.

29             Their roaring shall be like that of a lion; They shall roar like young lions; They shall gnash And seize the prey; They shall carry away the spoils, And none shall deliver.

30             He shall roar against them in that day, as the roaring of the sea; Then shall he look to the earth, And behold! the darkness of tribulation; And the light shall be darkened in the heavens.

CHAPTER 6

1               In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne high And lifted up, And his remotest parts filled the temple.

2               And seraphim stood above it; Each had six wings; With two they covered their face, With two they covered their feet, And with two did they fly.

3               And one cried to another, saying, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts; The whole earth is full of his glory.

4               And the posts of the doors were moved by the voice of him that cried, And the house was filled with smoke.

5               Then I said, Wo to me, for I am undone; fa14 Because I am a man of polluted lips, And I dwell amidst a people having polluted lips; And yet mine eyes have seen the king, Jehovah of hosts.

6               And one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal, snatched with a fork from the altar.

7               And laying it on my mouth, he said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips, And thy sin shall be expiated.

8               Afterwards I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? And who shall go for us? Then I said, Here am I, send me.

9               Then he said, Go And tell this people: Hearing hear, And do not understand; Seeing see, And do not know.

10             Harden the heart of this people, And make heavy their ears, And close up their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, . And hear with their ears, And their heart understand, And when they have been converted, they be healed.

11             And I said, how long, O Lord. And he said, Till the houses be laid waste without inhabitant, And the houses be emptied of men, And the land be reduced to solitude;

12             Till God have removed men far away, And till there be great desolation in the midst of the land;

13             Till a tenth shall return, And be destroyed like a tell And an oak, Whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves; So in it shall the substance be the holy seed.

CHAPTER 7

1               It came to pass, in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin, the king of Syria, And Pekah, the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up against Jerusalem, to besiege it, but. could not overcome it.

2               And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is allied with Ephraim; And his heart was moved, as when the trees of the forest are moved by the wind.

3               Then said Jehovah to Isaiah, Go out to meet Ahaz, thou And Shear-jashub, thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, at the road of the fullers field.

4               And thou shalt say to him: Take heed, And be quiet; Fear not, And let not thy heart be soft, For the two tails of those smoking firebrands, For the fierceness of the anger of Rezin the Syrian, And of the son of Remaliah.

5               Because the Syrian hath taken wicked counsel against thee with Ephraim, And the son of Remaliah, saying:

6               Let us go up against Judah, And harass it, And let us open it for us; And let us appoint a king in the midst of it, The son of Tabeal.

7               Thus hath the Lord Jehovah said, It shall not stand, And shall not be,

8               For the head of Syria is Damascus, And the head of Damascus is Rezin; And within sixty-five years shall be broken Ephraim, that it be not a people.

9               Yet the head of Ephraim is Samaria, And the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If ye do not believe, Surely ye shall not stand.

10             And Jehovah added to speak to Ahaz, saying:

11             Ask thee a sign from Jehovah thy God, By asking in the deep, Or in the height above.

12             And Ahaz said, I will not ask, And I will not tempt the Lord.

13             And he said, Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small tiling for you to weary men, If ye do not also weary my God?

14             Therefore will the Lord himself give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, And bear a son, And shall call his name Immanuel.

15             Butter And honey shall he eat, Till he know to refuse the evil, And to choose the good.

16             And before the child shall know, To refuse the evil And choose the good, Forsaken shall be the land which thou hatest by both her kings.

17             Jehovah will bring upon thee, And on thy people, And on thy fathers house, Days which have not come. Since the day of the revolt of Ephraim from Judah, The king of Assyria.

18             It shall be in that day, Jehovah shall hiss. For the fly, which is in the extremity of the rivers of Egypt, And for the bee which is in the land of Assyria.

19             And they shall all of them come And rest, In the desolate valleys, And in the caverns of the rocks, And on all thorns, And on all bushes.

20             In that day shall Jehovah shave with a hired razor, By those who are beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, The head And the hair of the feet; And shall also take away the beard.

21             And it shall be in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow And two sheep.

22             And it shall come to pass, That, on account of the abundance of milk which they shall yield, He shall eat butter. Yea, butter And honey shall every one eat. That shall be left in the midst of the land.

23             It shall also be in that day, That, wherever there are a thousand vines, They shall be sold for a thousand pieces of silver, On account of thorns And briers.

24             With arrows And bow shall they come thither, Because thorns And briers shall be throughout all the land.

25             And on all the mountains which are dug with the hoe Thither shall not come the dread of thorns And briers; But they shall be laid out for pasture to the cattle, And shall be trodden by the flocks.

CHAPTER 8

1               And Jehovah said to me: Take thee a large roll, And write in it with an ordinary pen: fa15 Make speed to spoil, hasten to the prey.

2               And I took unto me faithful witnesses, Uriah the priest, And Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.

3               And I approached the prophetess, who conceived And bare a son. And Jehovah spoke to me: Call his name, Make speed to spoil, Hasten to the prey.

4               Verily before the child shall know to cry, My father And my mother, The riches of Damascus anti the spoil of Samaria, Shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.

5               Moreover, Jehovah spoke unto me, saying again:

6               Because this people hath refused. The waters of Shiloah, which flow softly, And hath rejoiced in Rezin And the son of Remaliah:

7               Therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth upon them, The waters of the river, rapid And strong, The king of Assyria And all his force; And he shall come up over all his channels, And shall pass over all his banks.

8               And, crossing over into Judah, He shall overflow And pass over; He shall reach even to the neck; And the stretching out of his wings shall fill, The breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.

9               Associate yourselves, ye peoples, And ye shall be broken in pieces; Give ear, all ye that are from a distant land. Gird yourselves, And ye shall be broken in pieces; Gird yourselves, And ye shall be broken in pieces.

10             Take counsel together, And it shall be disannulled; Decree a decree, And it shall not stand; For God is with us. fa16

11             For thus did Jehovah speak to me, as if seizing fa17 my hand, And taught me not to go in the way of this people, saying,

12             Say ye not, A confederacy, In all things in which this people saith, A confederacy; And fear not their fear, Nor be ye afraid.

13             Sanctify Jehovah of hosts himself; And let him be your fear, And let him be your dread.

14             Then shall he be for a sanctuary; A stone of stumbling And rock of destruction To the two houses of Israel; A net And a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

15             And many among them shall stumble, And fall, And shall be bruised, snared, And taken.

16             Bind up the testimony; Seal the law among my disciples.

17             Therefore will I wait for Jehovah, Who hideth Iris face from the house of Jacob, And I will look for him.

18             Behold I, And the children whom Jehovah hath given me, Are for signs And wonders in Israel, From Jehovah of hosts, Who dwelleth in Mount Zion.

19             And if they shall say to you, Inquire at soothsayers And diviners, Who whisper And mutter; Should not a people ask counsel of their God? From the living to the dead?

20             To the law And to the testimony: If they have not spoken according to this word, It is because there is no light in them.

21             Then shall they pass through this land distressed And hungry, And it shall happen. that, when they are hungry, they shall fret, And shall curse their king And their God, looking upward.

22             And when they shall look to the earth, Lo, trouble And darkness, dimness And distress, And they shall be driven to gloominess.

CHAPTER 9

1               Yet the darkness shall not be, According to the affliction which happened to her, When they first lightly afflicted, The land of Zebulun And the land of Naphtali; Nor when they afterwards did more grievously afflict By the way of the sea beyond Jordan, In Galilee of the nations.

2               The people walking in darkness, Hath seen a great light. They who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Light hath shined on them.

3               By multiplying the nation thou hast not increased the joy; They have rejoiced before thee according to the joy of harvest, As men shout in dividing the spoils.

4               For his burdensome yoke, And the staff of his shoulder, The scepter of his oppressor Hast thou broken, as in the day of Midian.

5               Although every battle of the warrior is made With noise And rolling of the vesture in blood, This shall be for burning, For fuel of fire.

6               For to us a child is born; To us a son is given; And the government hath been laid upon his shoulder; And his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The Father of the age, The Prince of Peace.

7               To the increase of the government And to peace, There shall be no end; On the throne of David And on his kingdom, To order And establish it In judgment And justice, Henceforth, even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will do this.

8               The Lord sent a word against Jacob, And it hath fallen on Israel.

9               And all the people shall know, Ephraim, And the inhabitants of Samaria, Who say in the pride And haughtiness of their heart,

10             The bricks are fallen down, And we will build with hewn stones; The sycamores are cut down, And we will substitute cedars.

11             But Jehovah will strengthen the enemies of Rezin against him, And will aid his adversaries.

12             Syria before, And the Philistines behind; And they shall devour Israel with open mouth. And for all this his anger is not turned away, But his hand is stretched out still.

13             But the people have not turned to him that smote them, And have not sought Jehovah of hosts.

14             Therefore will Jehovah cut off from Israel The head And the tail, The branch And the reed, In one day.

15             The elder And the honorable, he is the head; And the prophet who teacheth falsehood, he is the tail.

16             For the governors of this people are seducers, And they who are guided by them are destroyed.

17             Therefore the Lord will not rejoice over their young men, And will not have compassion on the orphans And widows; For all are hypocrites And evil-doers, And every mouth speaketh villany. For all this his anger is not turned away, But his hand is stretched out still.

18             For wickedness burneth as the fire; It shall devour the briers And thorns; Afterwards it shall kindle into the thickets of the forest, And the smoke of that which ascendeth shall go up.

19             Through the wrath of Jehovah of hosts, Shall the land be darkened, And the people shall be as the fuel of fire: No man shall spare his brother.

20             Every one shall snatch on the right hand, And be hungry; He shall eat on the left hand, And shall not be satisfied; Every one Shall devour the flesh of his own arm:

21             Manasseh, Ephraim; And Ephraim, Manasseh; They together shall be against Judah. And yet for all this his anger is not turned away, But his hand is stretched out still.

CHAPTER 10

1               Wo to them that decree unrighteous decrees, And who prescribing prescribe injustice:

2               To keep back the poor from judgment, And to take away the right from the poor of my people, To defraud the widows, And to plunder the orphans.

3               And what will ye do in the day of visitation? And when the desolation shall come from afar, To whom will ye flee for aid? And where will ye deposit fa18 your glory?

4               Unless fa19 they shall stumble among the vanquished, And shall fall down among the slain. For all this his anger shall not be turned away, And his hand is stretched out still.

5               O Assyrian! the rod of mine anger! And the very staff in their hand is my wrath.

6               Against a hypocritical nation will I send him, And against the people of my indignation will I command him, To seize the prey, To carry off the spoils, And to tread him down as the mire of the streets.

7               Yet will he not so intend, Nor will his heart think so; For it will be in his heart to destroy, And to cut off nations not a few.

8               For he saith, Are not my princes also kings?

9               Is not Calno as Carchemish? Is not Hamath as Arpad? Is not Samaria as Damascus?

10             As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, For their graven images excelled Jerusalem And Samaria.

11             As I have done to Samaria And her idols, Shall I not do so to Jerusalem And her idols?

12             But it shall come to pass, When the Lord shall have performed his whole work. In mount Zion And Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the haughtiness of theheart of the king of Assyria, And the glory of the loftiness of his eyes.

13             For he saith, By the strength of my hand have I done it; And by my wisdom; for I am sagacious; And therefore have I removed the boundaries of the peoples, And have plundered their treasures, And have brought down the inhabitants, like a mighty man.

14             And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the peoples; And as eggs which have been left are gathered, So have also I gathered the whole earth; And there was none that moved the wing, Or opened the mouth, or chirped.

15             Shall the axe boast against him that heweth with it? Shall the saw magnify itself against him that moveth it? Like the rising up of a rod against him that raiseth it, Like the risings up of a staff, as if it were not wood.

16             Therefore will the Governor, Jehovah of hosts, send Against his fat ones leanness, And under his glory will kindle, A burning, like the burning of a fire.

17             And the light of Israel shall become a fire, And his Holy One shall become a flame; And it shall burn And devour His briers And thorns in one day.

18             The glory of his forest And of his fruitful field, From the soul even to the flesh, will he consume; And it shall be as the fainting of a standard-bearer.

19             And the remains of the wood of his forest, Shall become a number, Such that a child may count them.

20             It shall be in that day, The remnant of Israel, And they that are left of the house of Jacob, Shall not add to rely on him that smote them; For they shall rely on Jehovah, The Holy One of Israel, in truth.

21             The remnant shall return, the remnant of Jacob, To the mighty God.

22             For if thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, A remnant of it shall return. The consumption decreed overfloweth righteousness. fa20

23             For a consumption And consummation Doth the Lord Jehovah of hosts make In the midst of all the land.

24             Therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts: O my people, the inhabitants of Zion, Fear not the Assyrian. He will smite thee with a rod, And will lift up his staff against thee, After the pattern of Egypt.

25             But yet a little while, And my rage And indignation, Shall be discharged in their destruction.

26             And Jehovah of hosts will stir up a scourge against him, According to the slaughter of Midian on the rock Oreb; And his rod shall be on the sea, And he will lift it up after the pattern of Egypt.

27             And it shall come to pass in that day, That his burden shall be removed from thy shoulder, And his yoke from thy neck; And the yoke shall be destroyed From the face of the anointing.

28             He is come to Aiath; he hath passed to Migron; At Michmash he will lay up thy baggage.

29             They have crossed the ford; they have lodged by night at Geba; Ramah is terrified; Gibeah of Saul hath fled.

30             Neigh with thy voice, O daughter of Gallim! Cause it to be heard at Laish, O poor Anathoth.

31             Madmenah is removed; The inhabitants of Gebim have gathered themselves.

32             Yet a day, when he shall remain at Nob, He will lift up his hand, Against the mount of the daughter of Zion, The hill of Jerusalem.

33             Behold! The Lord Jehovah of hosts Will cut off the branch with terror; fa21 And the lofty of stature shall be cut down. And the haughty shall be brought low.

34             And he will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, And Lebanon shall fall violently.

CHAPTER 11

1               But a branch shall spring from the stock of Jesse, And a sprout from his roots shall yield fruit.

2               And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, The Spirit of wisdom And understanding, The Spirit of counsel And strength, The Spirit of knowledge And to the fear of Jehovah;

3               And will make him sagacious in the fear of Jehovah; Not according to the sight of his eyes shall he judge, Nor according to the hearing of his ears shall he reprove.

4               For in righteousness he shall judge the poor, And in equity shall he reprove for the meek of the earth; And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

5               And righteousness shall be the belt of his loins, And faithfulness the belt of his reins.

6               The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, And the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf, And the lion, And the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.

7               The cow And the bear shall feed; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

8               And the child shall play on the hole of the asp, And on the dell of the basilisk shall the weaned child lay his hand.

9               They shall not hurt, nor do injury, In all the mountain of my holiness; For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, As with waters that cover the sea.

10             And it shall be in that day, The root of Jesse, Which shall stand for an ensign of the peoples, Shall be sought by the nations; And his rest shall be glory.

11             And it shall be in that day, The Lord will again apply his hand, To recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, From Assyria, And from Egypt, from Parthia, From Arabia, from Ethiopia, from Persia, From Chaldea, from Hamath, And from the islands of the sea.

12             And he shall lift up an ensign to the nations, And shall gather the outcasts of Israel, And shall gather the dispersed of Judah, From the four corners of the earth.

13             And the envy of Ephraim shall depart, And the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off. Ephraim shall not envy Judah, And Judah shall not vex Ephraim.

14             But they shall fly on the shoulders of the Philistines to the west; They shall plunder together the children of the east; Edom And Moab shall be the stretching out of their hands, And the children of Ammon shall be their obedience.

15             And Jehovah shall utterly destroy. The tongue of the Egyptian sea; And he shall lift up his hand on the river. By the might of his wind; And he shall smite it in the seven streams, And shall make them to be shod with shoes.

16             And there shall be a path for the remnant of his people, Which shall be left from Assyria, As there was to Israel, In the day when he came up out of the land of Egypt.

CHAPTER 12

1               And in that day thou shalt say: I will sing to thee, O Jehovah; Though thou wast angry With me, Thine anger is turned away, And thou hast comforted me.

2               Behold! God is my salvation; I will trust, And not be afraid; For God Jehovah is my strength And song; And he hath become fa22 my salvation.

3               Ye shall draw waters with joy. From the fountains of the Savior. fa23

4               And in that day shall ye say: Sing to Jehovah; call upon his name; Make known his works among the peoples; Proclaim that his name is exalted.

5               Sing to Jehovah; For he hath done glorious things; And this hath been made known throughout all the earth.

6               Shout And sing, O inhabitress of Zion! For great in the midst of thee, Is the Holy One of Israel.

CHAPTER 13

1               The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw.

2               On a lofty mountain lift up a banner; Raise the voice to them; shake the hand; That they may enter into the gates of the nobles.

3               I have commanded my sanctified ones; And for mine anger have I also called my mighty ones, Who rejoice in my glory.

4               The noise of a multitude in the mountains, As of a great people; The noise of the sound of kingdoms, Of nations gathered together; Jehovah of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.

5               Coming from a distant land, From the end of heaven, Jehovah And the vessels of his anger, To destroy the whole land.

6               Howl ye, for the day of Jehovah is at hand; As destruction from the Strong One fa24 shall it come.

7               Therefore shall all hands be weakened, And every heart of man shall melt.

8               And they shall be afraid; Pangs And sorrows shall take hold of them; They shall be in pain like a woman in labor; Every one shall be amazed at his neighbor; Their faces shall be faces of flames.

9               Behold! the day of Jehovah shall come cruel; Even indignation And the burning of angel, To lay the land desolate, And to destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

10             Therefore the stars of heaven, And the constellations, Shall not give their light; The sun shall be darkened in his going forth, And the moon shall not give forth her brightness.

11             And I will visit upon the world wickedness, And upon the wicked their iniquity; And I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, And I will lay low the loftiness of tyrants.

12             I will make a mortal more precious than fine gold, And a man than the weight of the gold of Ophir.

13             Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth shall be moved out of its place, In the indignation of Jehovah of hosts, And in the day of the fierceness of his anger.

14             And it shall be as a chased roe, And a sheep which no man taketh up; Every one shall look to his own people, And every one shall flee to his own land.

15             Every one that is found shall be pierced through, And every one that is joined to them shall fall by the sword.

16             Their infants shall be dashed in pieces before their eyes; Their houses shall be plundered, And their wives shall be ravished.

17             Behold! I raise up against you the Medes, Who shall not think of silver, And shall not desire even gold.

18             And with their bows shall they dash in pieces the children; They shall not pity the fruit of the womb, Nor shall their eye spare children.

19             And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, And the ornament of the brightness of the Chaldeans, Shall be like Gods overthrowing of Sodom And Gomorrah.

20             Never shall it be inhabited any more, Nor shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation; Nor shall the Arabian pitch his tent there, Nor shall the shepherds make their flocks to lie down there.

21             But the Ziim shall lie down there; And their houses shall be full of Ohim; There shall the daughters of the ostrich dwells. And there shall the satyrs dance.

22             And Iim shall cry ill their splendid houses, And dragons in their delightful palaces; And her time is near at hand, And her days shall not be prolonged.

CHAPTER 14

1               Jehovah will now pity Jacob, And will yet choose Israel, And will cause them to rest in their own land; And the stranger shall be joined to them; They shall be allied to the house of Jacob.

2               And the peoples shall take them, And shall bring them to their own place, And in the land of Jehovah shall the house of Israel Possess them for servants And for handmaids; And they shall take them whose captives they were? And shall rule over their oppressors.

3               And it shall be in the clay, When Jehovah shall have given thee rest, From thy labor, And from thy trembling, And from the hard bondage which had been laid on thee.

4               Then against the king of Babylon Shalt thou take up this proverb, And shalt say, How hath the oppressor ceased! How hath the city covetous of gold ceased!

5               Jehovah hath broken the staff of the wicked, The scepter of the rulers,

6               Which smote the nations in anger, With an incurable wound; Which ruled over the nations with anger; If any one suffered persecution. He did not hinder it.

7               The whole earth is at rest, And is quiet; They have sung praise.

8               Yea, the fir-trees rejoice over thee, And the cedars of Lebanon: Since thou art laid down, No feller hath come up against us.

9               Hell from beneath is moved on account of thee; To meet thy coming. He hath stirred up the dead for thee, And hath made to rise from their thrones All the leaders of the earth, All the kings of the nations.

10             All shall speak, And say to thee: Art thou also become weak as we? And art thou become like to us?

11             In the grave is laid thy splendor, And the noise of thine instruments of music; The worm is spread under thee, And reptiles cover thee.

12             How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the dawn, How art thou thrown down to the earth, That didst cast the lot upon the nations! fa25

13             But thou saidst in thy heart, I will ascend to heaven; In high places near the stars of God. Will I place my throne, And will sit on the mountain of the testimony, On the sides of the north.

14             I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, And will be like the Most High.

15             But thou art brought down to the grave, To the sides of the pit.

16             They that see thee shall bend forward, And shall view thee attentively. Is this the man that made the earth to tremble? That shook the kingdoms?

17             That made the world as a wilderness; That destroyed its cities? That opened not the house to his prisoners?

18             All the kings of the nations, all of them, Lie in glory, each in his own house.

19             But thou art cast out of thy grave, As an abominable branch, As the garments of the slain Who were killed with the sword, Who go down to the pit; As a carcass trodden under foot.

20             Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial; Because thou hast laid waste thy land, Thou hast slain thy people; The seed of wicked men shall not be continually remembered.

21             Prepare slaughter for his children, For the iniquity of their fathers; That they may not rise, And possess the land, And fill the face of the world with cities.

22             For I will rise up against them, saith Jehovah of hosts, And the name And the remnant, The son And the grandson, Will I cut off, saith Jehovah.

23             And I will make it to be a possession of the hedgehog, And pools of water; And I will sweep it with a besom, emptying it, Saith Jehovah of hosts.

24             Jehovah of hosts hath sworn, saying, If it hath not been as I thought, And if it shall not stand as I purposed,

25             That in my land I will crush the Assyrian, And on my mountains will tread him under foot; And that his yoke shall depart from them, And his burden be removed from their shoulder.

26             This is the purpose which is purposed on the whole earth; And this hand is stretched out on all the nations.

27             For Jehovah of hosts hath decreed, And who shall disannul it? His hand is stretched out, And who shall turn it back?

28             In the year in which Ahaz the king died, was this burden.

29             Rejoice not, thou whole Palestina, Because the rod of him that smote thee is broken; For from the root of the adder shall spring a cockatrice, And his fruit shall be a fiery serpent.

30             And the first-born of the poor shall feed, And the needy shall lie down in safety; And I will cause thy root to die with famine, And he shall slay thy remnant.

31             Howl, O gate! cry, O city! Thou whole Palestina art dissolved; For smoke cometh from the north; And no one shall be alone in his appointed day.

32             And what shall be answered to the messengers of the nations? That Jehovah hath founded Zion, And the poor of his people shall have confidence in her.

CHAPTER 15

1               The burden of Moab. Because in the night Aro Moab Is laid waste, And brought to silence; Surely in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, And brought to silence.

2               He shall go up into the house, And to the high places of Dibon, to weep; Over Nebo, And over Medeba, shall Moab howl. On all his heads shall be baldness, And every beard shall be shaved.

3               In his cross-roads shall they be girded with sackcloth; On his roofs, And in his streets, Shall every one howl, And go down to weep.

4               Heshbon And Elealeh shall cry aloud; As far as Jahaz shall their voice be heard; Therefore shall the armed men of Moab howl; The soul of each man shall howl to itself.

5               My heart shall cry aloud for Moab; Her fugitives to Zoar, a heifer of three years old; By the going up of Luhith shall they go up with weeping, By the way of Horonaim shall they raise the cry of sorrow.

6               The waters of Nimrim are cut off; The grass is withered, The herbage hath failed, No verdure is left.

7               Therefore what every one hath left, And his riches, They shall carry to the brook of the willows. fa26

8               The cry hath gone round the borders of Moab; Even to Eglaim is his howling. And even to Beer-Elim is his howling.

9               Because the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood; For I will lay additions upon Dimon, Lions to them that are escaped of Moab, And to the remnant of the land.

CHAPTER 16

1               Send ye the lamb to the governor of the land, From the rock of the desert, To the mountain of the daughter of Zion.

2               And it shall be as a bird let loose, wandering from its nest, So shall the daughters of Moab be at the fords of Arnon.

3               Assemble a council; execute judgment; Make thy shadow as the night in the midst of noon-day; Hide the banished; Betray not the fugitive.

4               Let mine outcasts dwell with thee. Moab, be thou a place of concealment From the face of the destroyer; For the extortioner hath ceased; The destroyer hath failed; He that trod us under foot hath been consumed out of the land.

5               And in mercy shall the throne be prepared; And he shall sit upon it in steadfastness, To judge in the tabernacle of David, And to seek judgment, And to hasten righteousness.

6               We have heard of the pride of Ahab, (he is very proud,) His pride, his haughtiness, And his insolence; fa27 But his lies shall not be successful.

7               Therefore shall Moab howl to Moab, all shall howl, On account of the foundations of Kirhareseth; You will groan, being only smitten.

8               For the vines of Heshbon are cut down, The vine of Sibmah. The lords of the nations have trodden down her choicest roots, fa28 Which reached even to Jazer, Which wandered even to the wilderness; Her noble plants have been thrown down, Which crossed the sea.

9               Therefore will I bewail with the weeping of Jazer the vine of Sibmah; I will water thee with my tears, O Heshbon And Elealeh! Because on thy summer fruits, And on thy harvest, A shouting shall break forth. fa29

10             Joy And rejoicing have been taken away from the fruitful field; In the vineyards shall there be no rejoicing nor shouting. The treader shall not tread wine in the presses; I have made the shouting to cease.

11             Therefore my bowels shall sound like a harp for Moab, And my inward parts for Kirharesh.

12             And it shall be, when it shall be seen, That Moab hath been wearied on the high places, Then shall he come to the sanctuary to pray? And shall not profit by it.

13             This is the word which Jehovah uttered concerning Moab since that time.

14             Now, I say, Jehovah hath spoken, saying Three years, as the years of a hireling; And the glory of Moab, With all her multitude, however great, Shall be turned into disgrace; And her remnant shall be few, small, And feeble.

CHAPTER 17

1               The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away, that it be not a city; For it shall be a heap of ruins.

2               The cities of Aroer are forsaken; They shall be changed into sheepfolds; They shall lie down, And there shall be none to terrify them.

3               And the fortress shall cease from Ephraim, And the kingdom from Damascus; And the remnant of Syria shall be As the glory of the children of Israel, Saith Jehovah of hosts.

4               And it shall be in that day, The glory of Jacob shall be diminished, And the fatness of his flesh shall become lean.

5               And it shall be as he who gathereth the harvest of the corn, Who reapeth the ears with his arm, Like as one gleaneth grapes in the valley of Rephaim.

6               And in thee shall be left a gleaning, as the shaking of an olive-tree; There two or three berries remain on the top of the highest branch. Four or five on the spreading branches of its fruit, Saith Jehovah, the God of Israel.

7               In that day shall a man look to his Maker, And his eyes shall be fixed on the Holy One of Israel.

8               And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his own hands. Nor view the things which his fingers have made, Nor the groves, Nor the graven images.

9               In that day the cities of his strength shall be, As the forsaking of a thicket And of a branch, In like manner as they left before the children of Israel; And there shall be desolation.

10             Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, And hast not been mindful of the God of thy strength; Therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, And thou shalt engraft a foreign shoot.

11             In the day of thy plantation shalt thou make it to grow, And in the morning thou shalt make the seed to sprout; But in the day of enjoying shall the harvest fail. And the grief shall be desperate.

12             Alas! the multitude of many peoples; Like the sound of many peoples shall they sound, And like the noise of nations; Like the noise of mighty waters shall they rush.

13             Like the noise of mighty waters Shall the peoples make a noise, And he will rebuke them, And will drive them far away; They shall be chased. As the chaff of the mountains before the wind, And as a rolling thing before the whirlwind.

14             In the evening time, behold! trouble: Ere it be morning, it shall not at all be. This is the portion of them that tread us down, And the lot of them that plunder us.

CHAPTER 18

1               Alas! the land shadowing with wings, Which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.

2               Sending ambassadors by the sea, In ships of reeds on the waters. Go, ye swift messengers, To a nation scattered And plundered, To a people terrible from that time And till now, To a nation trodden down on every side, Whose land the rivers have plundered.

3               All ye inhabitants of the world, And dwellers on the earth, When he shall set up a standard on the mountains, you shall see it; When he shall sound a trumpet, you shall hear it.

4               Thus also hath Jehovah said to me, I will rest, And will look in my tabernacle, As the heat that drieth up the rain, And as a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.

5               For when the harvest shall be at hand, The bud shall be perfect, And the ripening fruit shall go out of the flower Then will he prune the twigs with pruning-hooks, And cut down And take away the branches.

6               They shall be left together to the fowls of the mountains, And to the beasts of the earth. The fowls shall spend the summer upon them, And all the beasts of the earth shall spend the winter upon them.

7               At that time shall a present be brought to Jehovah of hosts, A people torn And plundered, And from a people terrible from the beginning hitherto; From a nation trodden down on every side, Whose land the rivers have plundered, To the place of the name of Jehovah of hosts, To Mount Zion.

CHAPTER 19

1               The burden of Egypt. Behold, Jehovah rideth on a swift cloud, And will come into Egypt; And the idols of Egypt shall be moved before his face, And the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of her.

2               And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians; Then shall they fight every one against his brother, Every one against his neighbor; City against city, And kingdom against kingdom.

3               And the spoil of Egypt shall be emptied in the midst of her, And I will destroy her counsel, Even though they seek to the idols, to the magicians, To the soothsayers, to the diviners.

4               And I will deliver the Egyptians . into the hand of a cruel master, And a powerful king shall rule over them, Saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts.

5               Then shall the waters fail from the sea, And the flood shall be wasted And dried up.

6               The rivers shall be turned aside; The brooks of defense shall be emptied And dried up; The reed And the flag shall wither.

7               The herbs at the brook, And on the mouth of the brook, And all the seed of the river, Shall wither, And be driven away, that it may be no more.

8               And the fishers shall mourn, And all who cast a hook into the brook shall lament; They who spread a net on the face of the waters shall anguish.

9               They who work in the finest flax shall blush, And they who weave perforated fa30 meshes.

10             For their nets shall be broken, And all that make a net shall be sad in their heart.

11             Surely the princes of Zoan are fools; The counsel of the wise counselors of Pharaoh is foolish. How say ye to Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, And the son of ancient kings?

12             Where are now thy wise men? That they may declare to thee, Or that they may even know, What Jehovah of hosts hath decreed concerning Egypt.

13             The princes of Zoan are become infatuated, The princes of Noph are deceived; Egypt hath been led astray By a corner of her tribes.

14             Jehovah hath mingled a spirit of perverseness in the midst of her; And they have misled Egypt in all her work,  As a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.

15             Neither shall Egypt have any work to do, The head or the tail. The branch or the rush.

16             In that day shall Egypt be like women; For it shall shudder And tremble, From before the shaking of the hand of Jehovah of hosts, Which he shall shake over it.

17             And to the Egyptians shall the land of Judah be a terror. Every one that shall mention it Shall tremble on account of her, Because of the purpose of Jehovah of hosts, Which he hath decreed concerning her.

18             In that day shall there be five cities in the land of Egypt. Speaking with the lip of Canaan, And swearing by Jehovah of hosts. One shall be called, The city of desolation.

19             In that day shall there be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, And a statue to Jehovah near its border.

20             And it shall be for a sign And for a witness To Jehovah of hosts, in the land of Egypt; For they shall cry to Jehovah because of the oppressors. And he will send to them a savior, And a ruler, that he may deliver them.

21             And Jehovah shall be known by the Egyptians; The Egyptians shall know Jehovah in that day. And shall make sacrifice And oblation, And shall vow vows to Jehovah, And perform them.

22             Therefore will the Lord smite Egypt. Smiting And healing; For they shall be turned to Jehovah, And he will be entreated by them, And will heal them.

23             In that day shall there be a way from Egypt into Assyria; The Assyrians shall go into Egypt, And the Egyptians into Assyria; And the Egyptians shall serve the Assyrians. fa31

24             In that day shall Israel be, With Egypt And with Assyria, The third blessing in the midst of the land.

25             For Jehovah of hosts will bless him, saying, Blessed be the Egyptian, my people, And the Assyrian, the work of my hands, And Israel, my inheritance.

CHAPTER 20

1               In the year that Tartan came to Ashdot, (when Sargon, the king of Assyria, sent him,) And attacked Ashdod, And took it.

2               At that time Jehovah spoke by the hand of Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saying, Go And loose the sackcloth from thy loins, And put off thy shoe from thy foot.

3               And he did so, walking naked And barefooted. And Jehovah said: As my servant Isaiah for three years, Hath walked naked And barefooted, A sign And a wonder. Concerning Egypt And concerning Ethiopia;

4               So will the king of Assyria lead away the captivity of Egypt, And the removal of Ethiopia, Of the young And of the old, Naked And barefooted, And with their hinder parts uncovered, To the disgrace of Egypt.

5               And they shall be afraid And ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, And of Egypt their glory. fa31

6               And in that day shall the inhabitant of this island say, Behold! what is become of our expectation, To which we fled for aid, That we might be delivered from the face of the king of Assyria; And how shall we escape?

CHAPTER 21

1               The burden of the desert of the sea. As storms that pass from a southerly direction, It will come from the wilderness, From a terrible land.

2               A harsh vision hath been declared to me, The transgressor to the transgressor, And the plunderer to the plunderer. Go up, O Persian! Besiege, O Mede! All his groaning have I made to cease.

3               Therefore are my loins filled with pain; Pangs have seized me, as the pangs of a woman in labor; I am bowed down at hearing, And am dismayed at seeing.

4               My heart is shaken; Terror hath overwhelmed me; The night of my pleasures He hath changed to terror.

5               Prepare the table; Watch in the watch-tower; Eat, drink; Arise, ye princes, And anoint the shield.

6               For thus hath the Lord said to me: Go, appoint a watchman, That he may declare what he seeth.

7               And he saw a chariot of a couple of horsemen, A chariot of an ass, And a chariot of a camel; Next, he looked attentively, And watched eagerly.

8               Then he cried, A lion. On my watch-tower, my lord, I continually stand by day, And in my ward am I stationed whole nights.

9               And behold, here cometh a chariot of a man, A couple of horsemen. And he spoke, And said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the graven images of her gods, Hath he broken to the ground.

10             O my thrashing, And the corn of my floor! I have related to you what I have heard From Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel.

11             The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir: Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

12             The watchman said: The morning cometh, afterwards the night. If ye will inquire, inquire ye. Return, come.

13             The burden in Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, In the ways of Dedanim.

14             To meet the thirsty bring waters, O inhabitants of the land of Tema! Relieve the fugitive with thy bread.

15             For they flee from the face of the swords, From the face of the drawn sword, From the face of the bent bow, From the face of the grievousness of war.

16             For thus hath the Lord said to me: Yet a year, according to the years of a hireling, Then shall all the glory of Kedar fail;

17             And then shall be diminished the number of the archers, Which shall be reckoned among the mighty sons of Kedar; For Jehovah, the God of Israel, hath spoken it.

CHAPTER 22

1               The burden of the valley of vision. What hast thou here, fa33 That thou art entirely gone up upon the roofs?

2               Full of miseries, Tumultuous city, joyful city; Thy slain men are not slain by the sword, And are not dead in battle.

3               All thy rulers have fled; Together have they been made prisoners by the archers; All that were found in thee have been made prisoners together, Who have fled from afar.

4               Therefore I said, Let me alone; I will be bitter in my weeping; Labor not to comfort me Because of the plundering of the daughters of my people.

5               For it is a day of trouble, And of treading down, And of perplexity, From the Lord Jehovah of hosts, in the valley of vision, Demolishing the city, And crying to the mountain.

6               Yet Elam beareth the quiver, In a chariot of men And horsemen, And Kir uncovereth the shield.

7               And the choice of thy valleys was filled with chariots, And horsemen set themselves in array at the gate.

8               And he took away the covering of Judah; And thou didst look in that day To the armory of the house of the forest.

9               And ye have seen the breaches of the city of David, which were many; And ye collected the waters of the lower pool.

10             And the houses of Jerusalem have ye numbered, And ye have thrown down houses to fortify the wall.

11             For the waters of the old pool, Have ye also made a ditch between the walls; And ye have not looked to him that made it, And have not seen him that formed it in ancient times. fa34

12             And in that day the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, Called to weeping And to lamentation, To baldness And girding with sackcloth;

13             And, behold! joy And gladness, Slaying oxen, killing sheep, Eating flesh, And drinking wine, Eating And drinking; For tomorrow we shall die!

14             It was revealed in my ears by Jehovah of hosts, If this iniquity shall be forgiven you till ye die, Saith the Lord Jehovah of hosts.

15             Thus saith the Lord Jehovah of hosts, Go, approach to that abettor, To Shebna, the ruler of the house.

16             What hast thou here? And whom hast thou here? That thou hast hewed out here for thyself a sepulchre, As he who heweth out his sepulchre on high, Or who cutteth out a habitation for himself in the rock.

17             Behold, Jehovah will carry thee away with a remarkable carrying away, And covering will cover thee.

18             Whirling he will turn thee with whirling, As a ball with the hands, into a distant country; There shalt thou die; And there the chariot of thy glory, Shall be the disgrace of the house of thy lord.

19             And I will drive thee from thy post, And from thy abode shall he east thee out.

20             And it shall be in that day, I will call my servant, Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah.

21             And I will clothe him with thy raiment, And will strengthen him with thy girdle, And will deliver thy power into his hand; And he shall be a father of the inhabitant of Jerusalem, And of the house of Judah.

22             And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder; He will open, And none shall shut; He will shut, And none shall open.

23             And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place, And to the house of his father he shall become a throne of glory.

24             And all the glory of his fathers house, Grandchildren And great-grandchildren, All smaller vessels, From vessels of cups to all vessels of musical instruments, They shall hang upon him.

25             In that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, The nail fixed in a sure place shall be removed, And shall be cut down, And shall fall; And the burden which was upon it shall be cut off; For Jehovah hath spoken it.

CHAPTER 23

1               The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; For desolation has been made. So that there is no house, That there is no entering in from the land of Chittim. This was revealed to them.

2               Be silent, ye inhabitants of the islands, The merchant of Sidon; they that crossed the sea; Who supplied thee.

3               By great waters was the seed of the Nile; Her fruits were the harvest of the river; And she was a mart of nations.

4               Be ashamed, O Sidon; For the sea hath spoken, The strength of the sea, saying, I have not conceived nor brought forth, And I have not brought up young men, And have not reared virgins.

5               As soon as the report shall reach the Egyptians, They shall be grieved according to the report of Tyre.

6               Pass ye over to Tarshish; Howl, ye inhabitants of the islands.

7               Is this your exulting city? From ancient days is her antiquity. Her feet shall carry her, To travel into a distant country.

8               Who hath consulted this concerning crowning, Pyre, Whose merchants are princes, Whose traders are the nobles of the land

9               Thus hath Jehovah of hosts decreed, To profane the pride of all that are illustrious, To bring into contempt all the renowned of the land.

10             Cross over from thy land, like a river, To the daughter of Tarshish; For there is no longer any girdle.

11             He laid his hand upon the sea, He shook kingdoms. Jehovah hath commanded concerning Canaan, To weaken her strength.

12             And he saith, O virgin daughter of Sidon, When thou shalt be oppressed, Thou shalt not add any more to rejoice. Arise, that thou mayest pass over into Chittim; Yet even there thou shalt not have rest.

13             Behold, the land of the Chaldeans; This was not a people; Assyria founded it for the inhabitants of the wilderness; They have reared its fortresses; They have built its palaces; He hath reduced it to desolation.

14             Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; For your strength is laid waste.

15             It shall come to pass in that day, That Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, According to the days of one king; At the end of seventy years, Shall Tyre have a song like that of a harlot.

16             Take a harp, go about the city, O harlot, devoted to forgetfulness! Make sweet melody, multiply song, That thou mayest be kept in remembrance.

17             It shall then be at the end of seventy years, That Jehovah will visit Tyre; And then shall she return to her hire, And shall commit fornication With all the kingdoms of the earth Which are upon the earth.

18             Yet her merchandise And her hire, Shall be holy to Jehovah; It shall not be treasured nor laid up; But her merchandise shall be, For them that dwell before Jehovah, That they may eat sufficiently, And may have a thick covering.

CHAPTER 24

1               Behold, Jehovah emptieth the earth, Maketh it bare, Overturneth its face, And scattereth its inhabitants.

2               And it shall be, as the people, so the priest; As the servant, so his master; As the maid, so her mistress; As the buyer, so the seller; As the lender, so the borrower; As the usurer, so he that giveth usury. fa35

3               By emptying shall the earth be emptied, And by plundering shall it be plundered; For Jehovah hath spoken this word.

4               The earth hath lamented, And hath fallen; The world hath languished, And hath fallen; They who were the lofty people of the earth have languished.

5               And the earth hath been deceitful under its inhabitants; Because they have transgressed the laws, They have changed the ordinance, They have broken the covenant of eternity.

6               Therefore hath the curse consumed the earth, And its inhabitants are made desolate; Therefore are the inhabitants of the earth burned, And few men have been left.

7               The wine hath failed; The vine hath languished; All who were of joyful heart have groaned.

8               The joy of tabrets hath ceased, The noise of them that exult is ended, The mirth of the harp is silent.

9               They shall not drink wine with a song; Strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.

10             The city of vanity is broken down; Every house is shut up, that none may enter.

11             There is a cry about wine in the streets; All joy is darkened; The mirth of the land hath departed.

12             Desolation is left in the city, And the gate is smitten with desolation.

13             For in the midst of the land, In the midst of the peoples, Thus shall it be as the shaking of an olive-tree, And as the shaking of the grapes, when the vintage is ended.

14             They shall lift up their voice; They shall shout for the majesty of the Lord; They shall cry aloud from the sea.

15             Therefore glorify ye Jehovah in the valleys, The name of Jehovah, the God of Israel, in the isles of the sea.

16             From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, Glory to the Righteous One! And I said, I have leanness! I have leanness! Wo to me! The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; With treachery have the treacherous dealers dealt treacherously.

17             Fears And the pit, And the snare, Are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth!

18             And it shall come to pass, That he who fleeth from the voice of fear, Shall fall into the pit, And he who goeth up out of the midst of the pit, Shall be taken in the snare; For the windows from on high are opened, And the foundations of the earth are shaken.

19             By bruising is the earth bruised; By breaking down is the earth broken down; By shaking is the earth shaken.

20             With reeling doth the earth reel, like a drunkard; And it shall be removed, like a tabernacle; And its transgression shall be heavy upon it; And it shall fall, And shall not add to rise again.

21             And it shall be in that days, Jehovah will visit, Upon the high army on high, And upon the kings of the earth on the earth.

22             And with gathering together shall they be gathered together Like prisoners in a dungeon; And they shall be shut up in a prison; Afterwards at the end of many days shall they be visited.

23             The moon shall be confounded, And the sun shall be ashamed, When Jehovah of hosts shall reign In Mount Zion, And in Jerusalem; And before his elders glory.

CHAPTER 25

1               O Jehovah, thou art my God; I will exalt thee; I will praise thy name; For thou hast done a wonderful thing; Counsels which have been already decreed of old; Firm truth.

2               For thou hast made of a city a heap; A fortified city to be a ruin; A palace of foreigners, that it may not be a city, That it may never be built.

3               Therefore shall the mighty people glorify thee; The city of the powerful nations shall fear thee.

4               For thou hast been strength to the poor; Strength to the needy in his affliction; A refuge from the flood, A shadow from the heat; For the breath of the strong fa36 ones Was as a storm fa37 against the wall.

5               As the heat in a dry place, Thou wilt lay low the noise of foreigners, As the heat by the shadow of a cloud; The shouting fa38 of the strong ones wilt thou lay low.

6               And Jehovah of hosts will make For all people in that mountain A feast of fat things, A feast of liquids purified, Of fat things full of marrow, Of liquids purified.

7               And he will destroy in that mountain, The free of the covering with which all nations were covered, And the veil which was spread over all nations.

8               He hath destroyed death eternally. And the Lord Jehovah will wipe away tears from all faces, And will take away the disgrace of his people from all the earth; For Jehovah hath spoken it.

9               And it shall he said in that day: Lo, this is our God; We have waited for him, And he will save us; This is Jehovah; We have waited for him; We will rejoice And be glad in his salvation.

10             For the hand of Jehovah shall rest on that mountain; And Moab shall be trodden down under him, As straw is trodden down on the dunghill.

11             And he will spread out his hand under the midst of them, As a swimmer spreadeth forth his hands to swim; And he will lay low their pride, With the arms of their hands.

12             And the fortress of the loftiness of thy walls He will bring down, He will lay low, And he will cast down to the ground, To the dust.

CHAPTER 26

1               In that day shall a song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a city of strength; He hath made salvation to be walls And a rampart.

2               Open ye the gates, And the righteous nation shall enter, Which keepeth the truth.

3               The thought is fixed; Thou wilt keep peace, peace; For they have trusted in thee.

4               Hope ye in Jehovah for ever; For in Jah Jehovah is the strength of ages.

5               For he will bow down the inhabitants of loftiness; He will lay low the elevated city; He will lay it low to the ground; He will bring it to the dust.

6               The foot shall tread it down; The feet of the poor, The steps of the needy.

7               Straightnesses are the path of the righteous man; The straight way of the righteous man thou wilt weigh. fa39

8               Even in the way of thy judgments, O Jehovah, We have waited for thee; To thy name, And to the remembrance of thee, Is the desire of the soul.

9               My soul hath desired thee in the night; Yea, with my spirit within me I will seek thee in the morning; fa40 For so soon as thy judgments shall be in the earth, The inhabitants of the earth shall learn righteousness.

10             The wicked man will obtain favor, And will not learn righteousness; In the land of upright actions he will deal unjustly, And will not behold the majesty of Jehovah.

11             Jehovah, though thy hand is lifted up, They will not see; They shall see, And be ashamed, Through their envy of the people; Yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.

12             O Jehovah, thou wilt ordain peace for us; For thou also hast wrought all our works for us.

13             O Jehovah our God, Lords besides thee have had dominion over us; By thee only will we call thy name to remembrance.

14             The dead shall not live; The slain shall not rise again; Therefore thou hast visited and driven them away, And hast destroyed all remembrance of them.

15             Thou hast added to the nation, O Jehovah! Thou hast added to the nation; Thou art glorified; Thou hast enlarged all the boundaries of the earth.

16             O Jehovah, in trouble have they visited thee; They poured out a prayer, when thy chastening was upon them.

17             As a woman with Child, who draweth near to her delivery, Is in pain, And crieth out in her pains; So have we been before thy face, O Jehovah.

18             We have been in labor, We have had pain, As if we had brought forth wind; Salvation hath not been wrought for the earth, And the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.

19             Thy dead men shall live; My dead body, they shall arise; Awake And sing, ye inhabitants of the dust; For thy dew is the dew of herbs; And the earth shall cast out the dead. fa41

20             Come, O my people; Enter thou into thy chambers; Shut the door behind thee; Hide thyself a little for a moment, Till the indignation pass over.

21             For, behold, Jehovah cometh out of his place, To visit the iniquity of the inhabitant of the earth against him; And the earth shall disclose her blood, And shall no longer cover her slain.

CHAPTER 27

1               In that day will Jehovah visit, With his hard, And great, And strong sword, On leviathan the piercing serpent, And on leviathan the crooked serpent; And he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.

2               In that day sing ye to the vineyard of redness.

3               I Jehovah keep it; Every moment will I water it; That (the enemy) may not visit it, I will keep it night And day.

4               Fury doth not dwell in me. Who shall engage me in battle with the brier And thorn? fa42 I will pass through it in a hostile manner, I will utterly burn it up.

5               Will she take hold of my strength, That she may make peace with me? Yea, that she may make peace with me?

6               Afterwards shall Jacob put forth roots; Israel shall bud And blossom; And the face of the world shall be filled with fruit.

7               Hath he smitten him according to the stroke of him that smote him? Hath he been slain according to the slaughter of them that slew him?

8               In measure, in her shooting forth, Thou wilt contend with her; Even though he blow with his violent wind, In the day of the east wind.

9               Therefore in this manner shall the iniquity of Jacob be expiated; And this is all the fruit, The taking away of his sin; When he shall make all the stones of the altar As lime-stones broken in pieces, That groves And images may not rise again.

10             Yet the fortified city shall be desolate; The inhabited place shall be deserted, And forsaken like a wilderness. There the calf shall feed, And there shall lie down, And shall browse on its tops.

11             When its harvest shall wither, they shall break fa43 it; Women coming shall burn it; For it is a people that doth not understand; Therefore their Maker will not have compassion on them, And he who formed them will not be gracious to them.

12             Yet in that day it shall come to pass That Jehovah will thrash From the channel of the river To the river of Egypt; And ye shall be gathered one by one, O children of Israel.

13             It shall also come to pass in that day, That the great trumpet shall be blown; And they shall come who were perishing in the land of Assyria, And who had been scattered in the land of Egypt; And they shall worship Jehovah, In the holy mountain, in Jerusalem.

CHAPTER 28

1               Wo to the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim; For the splendor of his glory shall be a fading flower, Which is on the head of the valley of the fat ones, Of them that are overcome by wine.

2               Behold, the Lord hath a mighty And strong one; As a deluge of hail, A desolating whirlwind; As the violence of mighty waters overflowing, Casting down to the earth with the hand.

3               The crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim, Shall be trodden under feet.

4               And the splendor of his glory shall be a fading flower, Which is on the head of the valley of the fat ones; Like the premature fig before the summer, Which, while he looketh at it, While it is yet in his hand, He that seeth it devoureth.

5               In that day will Jehovah of hosts :Become a crown of glory And a diadem of excellence To the remnant of his people,

6               And a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth on the judgment-seat, And strength to them that drive back the battle to the gate.

7               But they also have erred through wine; Through strong drink they have gone astray. The priest And the prophet have erred through strong drink; They have been swallowed up by wine; They have gone astray through strong drink; They have erred in vision, They have stumbled in judgment.

8               For all tables are full of nauseous vomiting, So that no place is unoccupied.

9               Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk? Them that are withdrawn from the breasts?

10             For precept must be on precept, precept on precept; Instruction on instruction, instruction on instruction; Here a little, there a little.

11             For with stammering lips will he speak to this people, And with a foreign tongue.

12             For he said to them, This is the rest; Cause the weary to rest; And this is the refreshing; And they refused to hear.

13             The word of Jehovah shall therefore be to them. Rule upon rule, rule upon rule; Instruction upon instruction, instruction upon instruction; Here a little, there a little; Therefore they shall go, And shall fall backward, Shall be broken, And snared, And taken.

14             Therefore hear the word of Jehovah, ye scornful men, Who govern this people, which is in Jerusalem.

15             Because ye have said, We have struck a league with death, And with hell have we made a compact; When the overflowing scourge shall pass through, It shall not come to us; For we have made falsehood our refuge, And under vanity have we hidden ourselves.

16             Wherefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I will lay in Zion a stone, a stone of trial, A precious corner-stone, a sure foundation. He that believeth shall not make haste.

17             And I will lay judgment to the line, And righteousness to the measure. fa44 The hail shall sweep away the reliance of falsehood, And the waters shall overflow the hiding-place.

18             And your compact with death shall be disannulled; Your agreement with hell shall not stand; When the overflowing scourge shall pass through, Then shall ye become a treading down to it.

19             From the time that it shall pass, It shall seize you every morning, And shall pass every day by day And by night; And it shall be that terror fa45 alone, Shall cause them to understand the report.

20             For the bed is short, so that it is not enough; The covering shall be narrow for wrapping,

21             For as in Mount Perazim will Jehovah stand up, And as in the valley of Gibeon will he be angry; fa46 To do his work, his strange work; To perform his act, his strange act.

22             Now therefore he ye not mockers, Lest your chains be more firmly fastened; For I have heard from the Lord Jehovah of hosts a consumption, And a completion on the whole earth.

23             Listen ye, And hear my voice; Hearken, And hear my speech.

24             Doth the ploughman plough every day, that he may sow? Doth he open And break the clods of his field.

25             When he hath leveled its surface, Will he not then scatter fitches, And sow cummin, And allot wheat in measure, And barley measured, And spelt in its order?

26             His God instructeth him, And teacheth him what is right.

27             Certainly vetches shall not be thrashed with a toothed instrument, Nor shall the wheel of a cart be turned round on the cummin; For vetches are beaten with a staff, And cummin with a rod.

28             Though wheat be bruised, He doth not bruise it continually, Nor always cause the wheel of his cart to grind it, Lest he crush it with its teeth.

29             This also hath proceeded from Jehovah of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel, And majestic in procedure.

CHAPTER 29

1               Alas! Ariel, Ariel, The city which David inhabited, Add ye year to year, That the lambs may be slain.

2               Yet I will bring Ariel into distress, And there shall be grief And sorrow, And it shall be to me as Ariel.

3               And I will encamp against thee round about, And will attack thee with a military force, And will erect ramparts against thee.

4               Then shalt thou be brought low, Thou shalt speak out of the earth, And thy speech shall come out of the dust, And thy voice shall be like that of a sorcerer out of the earth, And thy speech shall mutter out of the dust.

5               And the sound of thy foreigners shall be as the small dust, And the multitude of thy mighty men as the passing chaff, And it shall be in a moment suddenly.

6               Thou shalt be visited by Jehovah of hosts With thunder, And earthquake, And great noise, With whirlwind And tempest, And with the flame of devouring fire.

7               And as a dream of a vision of the night shall be, The multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, Of every one that fighteth, And that raiseth fortifications against her, And that distresseth her.

8               It shall therefore be, As when a hungry man dreameth, And behold! he eateth, But when he awaketh, his soul is empty; And as when a thirsty man dreameth, And behold! He drinketh, But when he awaketh, he is faint, And his soul hath appetite; So shall be the multitude of all the nations That fight against Mount Zion.

9               Tarry And wonder; They are blinded And they blind; They are drunken, but not with wine; They stagger, And not with strong drink.

10             For Jehovah hath overpowered you with the spirit of slumber, And hath closed your eyes; Your prophets And principal seers He hath struck with darkness.

11             Therefore every vision hath become to you, As the words of a sealed book; Which if they deliver to one who knoweth letters, And say, Read in it, I pray, Then shall he say, I cannot, For it is sealed:

12             And if the book be delivered to one who hath not learned letters, And it be said, Read in it, I pray, Then shall he say, I know not letters.

13             Therefore the Lord saith: Because this people draw near to me with their mouth, And honor me with their lips, And have removed their heart far from me, And their fear toward me hath been taught by the commandment of men;

14             Therefore, behold! I add to do, A wonderful work among this people, A miracle And a prodigy; For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the prudence of their prudent men shall vanish away.

15             Wo to them that conceal themselves from Jehovah, That they may hide counsel; For their works are in the dark, And they say, Who seeth us? And, Who knoweth us?

16             Is your turning reckoned like potters clay? Doth a work say of its author, He did not make me? And doth a thing framed say of its framer, He did not understand?

17             Is it not yet a little, a little, And Lebanon shall be changed into Carmel, And Carmel shall be reckoned a forest?

18             And in that day shall the deaf hear, The words of the book, And the eyes of the blind shall see, Out of obscurity And out of darkness.

19             Then shall the humble again take joy in Jehovah, And the poor of men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

20             For the violent man is brought to naught, The mocker is despised; And they who hastened early to iniquity are ruined.

21             Who make a man to offend in word, Who have laid snares for him that reproveth in the gate, And have turned aside the righteous man for nothing.

22             Therefore Jehovah, who redeemed Abraham, Speaketh thus to the house of Jacob: Jacob shall not now be confounded. Nor shall his face now become pale.

23             For when he shall see in the midst of him His children, the work of my hands, They shall sanctify my name, They shall sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, They shall fear the God of Israel.

24             Then they that erred in spirit shall learn understanding, And the murmurers shall learn doctrine.

CHAPTER 30

1               Wo to the rebellious fa47 children, saith Jehovah, That they may take counsel. And not from me; That they may cover a secret, fa48 And not from my Spirit; That they may add sin to sin.

2               Who set out that they may go down into Egypt, And have not inquired at my mouth; Strengthening themselves with the strength of Pharaoh, And trusting in the shadow of Egypt.

3               But the strength of Pharaoh, Shall become to you shame; And reliance on the shadow of Egypt, Shall become disgrace.

4               For his princes were in Zoan, And his ambassadors came to Hanes.

5               All shall be ashamed, Of a people that will not profit them, And will not become a help, And will not yield advantage, But will become shame, And even disgrace.

6               The burden of the beasts of the south. In the land of trouble And anguish, The lion And the stronger lion, The viper And the flying serpent; While they shall carry their riches On the shoulders of young asses, And on the bunches of camels, To a people that will not profit them.

7               Surely the Egyptians are vanity, And shall help in vain. Therefore have I cried to her, Their strength is to sit still.

8               Now go, And write this vision on a tablet before them, And engrave it in a book, That it may be till the last day, For ever And ever.

9               For this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who refuse to hear the law of Jehovah.

10             Who say to the seers, Do not see, And to the foreseers, Do not foresee to us right things; Speak ye to us flatteries, See ye errors.

11             Go out of the way; Turn aside from the path; Cause the Holy One of Israel To depart from our presence.

12             Therefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel: Because ye have disdained this word, And have trusted in violence And wickedness, And have rested on it;

13             Therefore shall your iniquity be to you, Like a breach falling, Like the bulging out in a lofty wall, The fall of which comes suddenly And unexpectedly.

14             And the breaking of it shall be, As the breaking of a potters vessel, Which is broken without mercy; And in its breaking there is not found a sherd To carry fire from the hearth, Or to draw water from a well.

15             For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, The Holy One of Israel: “In rest And quietness shall you be safe; In peace And confidence shall be your strength; But ye would not.

16             And ye said, ]No, but we will flee on horses; Therefore shall ye flee; We will ride on the swift; Therefore they that shall pursue you shall be more swift.

17             A thousand as one from the face of the rebuke of one, From the face of the rebuke of five shall ye flee, Until ye shall be left, As the mast of a ship on the top of a mountain. And as a banner on a hill.

18             Therefore will Jehovah wait for you, That he may have compassion on you; And therefore will he be exalted, That he may have compassion on you; For Jehovah is a God of judgment: Blessed are all they that wait for him.

19             Surely the people in Zion shall dwell in Jerusalem: Weeping thou shalt not weep; With compassion will he have compassion on thee; At the voice of thy cry, as soon as he shall hear it, He will answer thee.

20             When the Lord shall have given to you, Bread of anguish, And water of affliction, Thy rain shall not be withheld, And thine eyes shall see thy rain.

21             Then shall thine ears hear a word behind thee, Saying, This is the way; Walk ye in it; another ye go to the right, Or go to the left.

22             Then shall ye profane, The covering of the graven images of thy silver, And the covering of thy molten gold; And thou shalt put it away from thee as a menstruous cloths. And shalt say to it, Depart. fa49

23             Then will he give rain to thy seed, When thou shalt have sowed the ground, And bread of the produce of the earth; And it shall be plentiful And fat; And in that day thy cattle Shall feed in large pastures.

24             Thine oxen also, And the young asses that labor the ground, Shall eat clean provender, Which shall be winnowed with the shovel, And with the sieve.

25             And it shall come to pass, That on every high mountain, And on every lofty hill, Shall be streams, streams of waters, In the day of the great slaughter When the towers shall have fallen.

26             And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, And the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, As the light of seven days, In the day when Jehovah, Shall have bound up the breach of his people, And shall have healed the stroke of their wound.

27             Behold! the name of Jehovah cometh From a distant place: His face burneth, And the burden is heavy; His lips are full of indignation, And his tongue as a devouring fire.

28             And his breath, as an overflowing torrent, Shall divide even to the neck; To sift the nations with a useless sieve; And on the cheeks of the peoples There shall be a bridle causing to err.

29             You shall have a song, as in the night When a festival is kept. And gladness of heart, As of him. that moveth to a pipe, That he may come to the mountain of Jehovah, To the Mighty One of Israel.

30             And Jehovah shall cause to be heard the power of his voice, And shall cause to be seen the descent of his arm, With rage of countenance, And with the flame of devouring fire, With scattering, with flood, And with hailstones.

31             Verily by the voice of Jehovah shall the Assyrian be crushed, Who smote with a rod.

32             And in every passage shall be the fastened staff, Which Jehovah shall lay upon him With tabrets And harps, And with battles of lifting up Shall he fight against her.

33             For Prophet is ordained since yesterday; Yea, for the king it is prepared: He hath made it deep And large; The pile of it is fire, And much wood; The breath of Jehovah, like a torrent of brimstone, Doth kindle it.

CHAPTER 31

1               Wo to them that go clown into Egypt for help, And who rely on horses, And who trust to chariots, because they are numerous, And to horses, because they are very strong, And have not looked to the Holy One of Israel, Nor have sought Jehovah.

2               Yet he also is wise: Therefore he will bring evil, And will not make void his words; he will rise up against the house of the evil-doers, And against the aid of the workers of vanity.

3               And verily the Egyptian is a man, And not God; And his horses are flesh, And not spirit. Therefore, as soon as Jehovah shall stretch out his arm, The helper shall fall, And he who is helped shall fall down, And all shall fail together.

4               For thus hath Jehovah said to me: As the lion roareth, And the young lion for his prey, Against whom, if a multitude of shepherds be gathered together, He shall not be alarmed by their cry, And shall not humble himself on account of their noise; Thus will Jehovah of hosts come down To fight for Mount Zion, And for its hill.

5               As birds which fly, So will Jehovah of hosts defend Jerusalem; Defending, he will deliver it, And passing over, he will preserve it.

6               Return ye, As ye have made a deep revolt, O children of Israel

7               For in that day shall a man cast away The idols of his silver, And the idols of his gold, Which your hands have made for you, a sin.

8               Then shall the Assyrian fall by the sword, not of a mighty man; And the sword, not of a man, shall devour him; And by flight shall he seek safety from the face of the sword, And his young men shall melt away.

9               He shall pass to his stronghold through fear, And his princes shall tremble at the banner, saith Jehovah, Who hath a fire fa50 in Zion, And who hath a furnace in Jerusalem.

CHAPTER 32

1               Behold! a king shall reign in righteousness, And princes shall rule in judgment.

2               And that man shall be, As a hiding-place from the wind, As a covert from the rainy, As streams of waters on dry ground, As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

3               Then the eyes of them that see shall not be closed up, And the ears of them that hear shall hearken.

4               And the heart of fools shall be eagerly directed to knowledge, And the tongue of stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.

5               No longer shall the base man be called liberal, Nor shall the parsimonious man be called bountiful.

6               For the vile person will speak vileness, And his heart will contrive iniquity, To commit wickedness, That he may utter mockery against Jehovah, That he may make empty the hungry soul, And that he may withhold drink from him that is thirsty.

7               The instruments of the covetous man are evil; fa51 He contriveth wickednesses, That he may deceive the simple by lying words, And that he may speak against the poor man in judgment.

8               But the liberal man shall devise liberal things, And in acting liberally he shall make progress.

9               Ye women at ease, arise; Hear my voice, ye careless daughters; Hearken to my speech.

10             Days above a year shall ye tremble, ye careless women; For the vintage shall fail, And the gathering shall not come.

11             Tremble, ye women that are at ease; Be troubled, ye careless women; Strip you, make you bare, gird your limbs.

12             Mourning over the udders, Over the pleasant fields, Over the fruitful vine.

13             There shall come up t. he thorn And brier, On the land of my people, Even on all the houses of gladness in the city of rejoicing.

14             For the palace shall be forsaken; The noise of the city shall be left; The tower And the fortress, Shall be reduced to dens for ever, Where wild asses may delight themselves, And where flocks may feed.

15             Till the Spirit be poured out upon you from on high, And the wilderness become a cultivated field, And the cultivated field be reckoned like a forest.

16             And judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, And justice shall have its abode in the cultivated field.

17             And the work of righteousness shall be peace; The effect of righteousness shall be Safety And quietness for ever.

18             And my people shall dwell in a tabernacle of peace, And in safe dwellings, And in quiet resting-places.

19             And in coming down the hail shall turn aside on the forest, And the city shall be situated in a low place.

20             Blessed are ye who sow on all waters, Who send forth the feet of the ox And of the ass.

CHAPTER 33

1               Wo to thee that spoilest, And was not spoiled; Who dealest wickedly, And they dealt not wickedly with thee! When thou shalt have ceased to spoil, Thou shalt be spoiled; When thou shalt have ceased to deal wickedly, They shall deal wickedly with thee.

2               O Jehovah, have pity upon us; We have hoped in thee; Be thou, who hast been their arm in the morning, Our salvation also in the time of trouble.

3               At the voice of the tumult the people fled; At thy exaltation the nations were dispersed.

4               And your prey shall be gathered by your gathering of cater-pillars, Advancing thither, according to the running of locusts.

5               Jehovah is exalted, who dwelleth on high; He hath filled Zion with judgment And righteousness.

6               And the stability of thy times shall be Strength, salvation, wisdom, And knowledge; The fear of Jehovah is his treasure.

7               Behold, their messengers shall cry without; The ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly.

8               The roads are deserted, The traveler hath ceased; He hath violated the treaty, He hath despised the cities, He hath paid no regard to any man.

9               The earth hath mourned And languished; Lebanon is ashamed And hewn down; Sharon hath been made like a wilderness; Bashan And Carmel have been shaken.

10             Now will I arise, saith Jehovah; Now will I be exalted; Now will I lift up myself.

11             Ye shall conceive chaff; Ye shall bring forth stubble; The fire of your breath shall devour you.

12             And the peoples shall be the burnings of lime; fa52 As thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire.

13             Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; Ye that are near, acknowledge my power.

14             The sinners in Zion are afraid; Terror hath seized the hypocrites. fa53 Which of us fa54 shall dwell with devouring fire? Which of us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?

15             He who walketh in righteousnesses And speaketh what is right; Who despiseth the gain from violence And calumny; Who shaketh his hands from accepting a bribe; Who stoppeth his ear, that he may not hear blood; Who shutteth his eyes, that he may not see evil.

16             He shall dwell in high places; Fortifications of rocks shall be his refuge; Bread shall be given to him, And his waters (shall be) sure.

17             Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty; They shall behold the land (that is) very far off.

18             Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the weigher? Where is he who singleth out the principal houses?

19             The fierce people thou shalt not see, The people of a confused lip, so that thou canst not understand; Of a stammering tongue, so that thou canst not comprehend.

20             Look at Zion, the city of our solemnities; fa55 Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a peaceful habitation, A tent which shall not be carried away, The stakes of which shall never be removed, And of which none of the ropes shall be broken:

21             Thus, fa56 shall the mighty Jehovah there be to us, A place of streams, of broad rivers, Through which there shall not pass a ship with oars, And through which a splendid ship shall not pass.

22             For Jehovah is our Judge; Jehovah is our Lawgiver; Jehovah is our King; He himself will save us.

23             Thy cords were loosed, So that they did not fasten their mast, Nor spread the sail; Then was ; he prey of much spoil divided, The lame also seized the prey.

24             And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; The people that dwell in it have been freed from iniquity.

CHAPTER 34

1               Draw near, ye nations, to hear; And ye peoples, hearken. Let the earth hear, And its fullness; The world, And all its productions.

2               For the indignation of Jehovah is on all nations, And his fury on all their army; He hath destroyed them; He hath delivered them to slaughter.

3               Their slain shall be east out; And from their carcasses shall come up their stench; And the mountains shall melt on account of their blood.

4               And all the armies of heaven shall fade away, And shall be rolled up as a scroll. The heavens And all their armies shall fall down, As a leaf falleth down from a vine, And as it falleth from the fig-tree.

5               For my sword is made drunken in the heavens. Behold, it shall come down on Edom, Even on the people of my curse to judgment.

6               The sword of Jehovah hath been filled with blood; It hath been made fat with fatness; Even with the blood of lambs And of goats, With the fat of the kidneys of rams; For the sacrifice of Jehovah is on Bozrah, And a great slaughter in the land of Edom.

7               And the unicorns shall come down with them, And the bullocks with the bulls; And their land shall be made drunken with blood, And their dust shall be made fat with fatness.

8               For (it is) the day of vengeance of Jehovah, The year of recompenses for the cause of Zion.

9               And her streams shall be turned into pitch, And her dust into brimstone; And her land shall become burning pitch.

10             By night And by day it shall not be quenched; Its smoke shall continually go up; From generation to generation it shall lie waste; Tone shall pass through it for ever And ever.

11             Therefore shall the pelican And the owl take possession of it; The great owl And the raven shall dwell in it; And he shall stretch over it the cord of emptiness, And the plummets of vanity.

12             They shall call her nobles without a kingdom, And all her princes shall be nothing.

13             In her palaces she shall bring forth thorns, And nettles And thistles in her fortresses; And she shall be a habitation for dragons, And an abode for the young ones of the ostrich.

14             And the wild beasts shall meet with the satyrs; And the screech-owl shall cry to his companion; There also shall the fairy dwell, And shall find for herself a peaceful abode.

15             There shall the owl make her nest, And lay, And hatch And gather her young under her shadow; Yea, there shall the vultures be gathered together, Every one with her mate.

16             Inquire at the book of Jehovah, And read. Not one of those shall fail; Tot one shall want her mate; For his mouth hath commanded, And his Spirit hath gathered them.

17             And he hath cast the lot for them; And his hand hath divided it to them for ever, as by a cord. Therefore they shall inhabit it; From generation to generation they shall dwell in it.

CHAPTER 35

1               The wilderness And the desert shall be glad; The loathsome place shall rejoice, And shall flourish like the lily.

2               Flourishing it shall flourish, And shall even rejoice with rejoicing, And shall sing; The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, The beauty of Carmel And Sharon; They shall see the glory of Jehovah, The majesty of our God.

3               Strengthen ye the weak hands, Confirm the tottering knees.

4               Say to them that are trembling in heart, Be strong, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; God himself will come with a recompense, fa57 And will save you.

5               Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be opened.

6               Then shall the lame man leap like a stag, The tongue of the dumb mall shall sound loudly; For waters shall be digged in the desert, And rivers in the wilderness.

7               The dry place shall be changed into a pool, And the parched country into fountains of waters; And in the habitation of dragons, And in its lair, Shall be a place for the reed And the rush.

8               And a path shall be there, And a way, And it shall be called, The holy way. An unclean person shall not pass through it; And he shall be to them one that walketh in the way, That fools may not go astray.

9               There shall not be there a lion; Nor shall a wild beast go up by it; Neither shall it be found there; That the redeemed may walk.

10             Therefore shall the redeemed of Jehovah return, And shall come to Zion with rejoicing; And everlasting joy shall be on their head; And they shall obtain joy And gladness; And sorrow And sighing shall flee away.

CHAPTER 36

1               It came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against all the defended cities of Judah, And took them.

2               Then the king of Assyria sent Rabshakch from Lachish, with a powerful army, to Jerusalem, to king Hezekiah, who stood at the conduit of the upper pool in the way of the fullers field.

3               And there came out to him Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, who was over the house, And Shebna the chancellor, And Joab, the son of Asaph, the secretary.

4               And Rabshakeh said to them: Say now to Hezekiah? Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this in which thou trustest? I have said, (only a word of the lips.)

5               Counsel And strength for war. Now in whom hast thou trusted, that thou hast rebelled against me?

6               Behold, thou hast rusted in that broken staff of reed, on Egypt, on which if one lean, it will go into his hand And pierce it. Such is Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to all who have confidence in him.

7               And if thou shalt say to me, We trust in Jehovah our God; is it not, he whose high places And altars Hezekiah hath taken away, And hath said to Judah And Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar?

8               Now, come, give a hostage to my master, the king of Assyria. I will give thee two thousand horses; wilt thou have horsemen to set upon them?

9               And how dost thou despise the face of one captain of the least of my masters servants, And place thy confidence in Egypt for chariots And horsemen?

10             And have I now come up without Jehovah to this land, to destroy it? Jehovah said to me: Go up against this land, to destroy it.

11             Then said Eliakim, And Shebna, And Joah, to Rabshakeh: Speak, I pray, to thy servants, in the Syrian language, (for we understand it,) And speak not to us in the Jewish language, in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.

12             And Rabshakeh said: Hath my master sent me to thy master And to thee to speak those words? Is it not to the men who sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, And drink their own urine with you?

13             Therefore Rabshakeh stood, And cried with a loud voice in the Jewish language, And said: Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.

14             Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah impose upon you, for he will not be able to deliver you.

15             And let not Hezekiah make you trust in Jehovah, saying, By delivering will Jehovah deliver us; this city shall not be given up into the hand of the king of Assyria.

16             Listen not to Hezekiah; for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make with me a blessing, And come out; And let every one eat of his own vine, And let every one eat of his own fig-tree, And let every one drink the waters of his own well.

17             Till I come And take you into a land like your own land, a land of corn And wine, a land of bread And vineyards.

18             Lest perhaps Hezekiah deceive you, saying, Jehovah will deliver us. Have any of the gods of the nations delivered their land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?

19             Where is the god of Hamath And Arpad? Where is the god of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?

20             Who is there among all the gods of those lands that hath delivered his land out of my hand; that Jehovah should rescue Jerusalem out of my hand?

21             They were silent, And did not answer him a word; for this was the commandment of the king, Do not answer him.

22             Then came Eliakim, who was over the house And Shebna the chancellor, And Joab, the son of Asaph, the secretary, to Hezekiah, with rent garments, And told him the words of Rabshakeh.

CHAPTER 37

1               Now, it came to pass, that Hezekiah, when he heard this rent his clothes, And covered himself with sackcloth, And went into the house of Jehovah.

2               At the same time he sent Eliakim, who was over the palace, And Shebna the chancellor, and the eldest of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the son of Amoz, the prophet.

3               Who said to him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, And of blasphemy; for the children have come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.

4               If, perhaps, Jehovah thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom his master, the king of Assyria, hath sent to curse the living God, And to rebuke with words which Jehovah thy God hath heard. Thou shalt therefore lift up a prayer for the remnant that is still left.

5               The servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah.

6               And Isaiah said to them, Thus shall ye say to your master: Thus saith Jehovah, Fear not the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reproached me.

7               Behold, I will bring a wind upon him; for he shall hear a report, And shall return to his own land; And I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.

8               And Rabshakeh, having returned, found the king of Assyria besieging Libnah; for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.

9               And hearing concerning Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, He hath gone out to fight against thee; after having heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying:

10             Thus shall ye say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given up into the hand of the king of Assyria.

11             Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to at hands, how they have destroyed them; And shalt thou be delivered?

12             Have the gods of the nations delivered those whom my fathers destroyed, Gozan, And Itaran, And Rezeph, And the children of Edom, who were in Telassar?

13             Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arphad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena And Iva?

14             Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, And read it, And went up to the house of Jehovah, and spread it before Jehovah.

15             Then Hezekiah prayed to God, saying:

16             O Jehovah of hosts, God of Israel, who dwellest between the cherubim, thou alone art God over all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven And earth.

17             Incline thine ear, O Jehovah, And hear; open thine eyes, O Jehovah, And see; And hear all the words of Sennacherib, who hath sent to reproach the living God.

18             Truly, O Jehovah, the kings of Assyria have destroyed all the nations, And their land,

19             And have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood, And stone; therefore they have destroyed them.

20             And now, O Jehovah our God, save us from his hand; that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou alone art Jehovah.

21             Then Isaiah, the son of Amoz, sent to Hezekiah, saying: Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, Since thou hast prayed to me concerning Sennacherib, king of Assyria;

22             This is the word which Jehovah hath spoken concerning him: The virgin daughter of Zion hath despised thee, hath laughed at thee; The daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. Whom hast thou reproached?

23             And whom hast thou blasphemed? Against whom hast thou exalted thy Voice, And lifted up thy hands on high? Even against the Holy One of Israel.

24             By the hand of thy servants thou hast reproached the Lord, And hast said, By the multitude of my chariots I will go up, To the heights of the mountains, To the sides of Lebanon; I will cut down the tallest of her cedars, Her choice firs; Then will I come to the height of his border, And even to his level forest. fa58

25             I will dig, And will drink waters; With the sole of my feet I will dry up all the lakes of the siege.

26             Hast thou not heard that I made it long ago, That I formed it from ancient days? And should I now bring it to be a desolation, To be heaps of ruins, like fortified cities?

27             For their inhabitants were maimed, Were terrified And confounded; They were made like the grass of the field And the green herb, Like the grass of the house-tops, which withereth before it is ripe.

28             I know thy sitting down, And thy going out, And thy entrance, And thy indignation against me.

29             Because thou wast angry against me, Thy tumult hath come up into my ears. Therefore will I put my hook fa59 in thy nostril, And my bridle ill thy lips, And will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.

30             And this shall be a sign to thee; Thou shalt eat this year that which groweth of itself, And in the second year that which springeth up of itself; And in the third year ye shall sow And reap, And shall plant vineyards, And eat the fruit of them.

31             And that which shall be preserved of the house of Judah, And that which shall be left, Shall vet strike root downward, And shall bear fruit upward.

32             For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, And that which shall be preserved of Mount Zion. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will do this.

33             Therefore thus saith Jehovah concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not enter into this city, Nor throw an arrow into it; And he who is defended by a shield shall not seize it, Nor cast a balister against it.

34             By the way that he came shall he return, And shall not enter into this city, saith Jehovah.

35             And I will be a protector to this city, To save it, for my own sake, And for the sake of my servant David.

36             And the angel of Jehovah went forth, And smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred And eighty-five thousand; And when the people arose early in the morning, behold, they were all corpses of dead men.

37             Then Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed, And went, And returned, And dwelt in Nineveh.

38             And it came to pass, while he was worshipping his god in the temple of Nisroch, fa60 that his sons, Adrammeleeh And Sharezar, smote him with the sword, And fled into the land of Armenia; And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.

CHAPTER 38

1               In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, came to him, And said to him: Thus saith Jehovah, Give charge concerning thy house; fa61 for thou shalt die, And shalt not live.

2               Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, And prayed to Jehovah.

3               And he said, I beseech thee, O Jehovah, remember now that I have walked before thee in truth, And with a perfect heart, And have done what was right in thine eyes. And Hezekiah wept with sore weeping. fa62

4               Then was communicated the word of Jehovah to Isaiah, saying,

5               Go, And say to Hezekiah: Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Jacob thy father: I have heard thy prayer, And have seen thy tears: Behold, I add to thy days fifteen years.

6               And I will deliver thee And this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; And I will be a protector to this city.

7               And this shall be a sign to thee from Jehovah, that Jehovah will do this thing, of which he hath spoken:

8               Behold, I bring back the shadow of degrees, by which it hath gone down on the sun-dial of Ahaz, ten degrees. And he sun went back on the sundial ten degrees, by which it had already gone down.

9               The writing of Hezekiah, king of Judah, when he had been sick, And had recovered from his sickness.

10             I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave; I am deprived of the residue of my years.

11             I said, I shall not see God, God in the land of the living; I shall no longer behold man with the inhabitants of the world.

12             Sly habitation is departed, And is removed from me as a shepherds tent; I have cut off; as a weaver, my life: From lifting up fa63 he will cut me off; From day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.

13             I reckoned fa64 till the dawn; As a lion, so he hath broken my bones; From the dawn till night thou wilt make an end of me.

14             As a crane or a swallow, I chattered; I mourned as a dove. My eyes were lifted up on high, O Lord, it hath oppressed me; comfort me.

15             What shall I say? He who hath spoken to me hath done it. I shall be moved fa65 all the days of my life In the bitterness of my soul.

16             O Lord, by all who shall live beyond those (years) Shall the life of my spirit (be known;) And that thou didst cause me to sleep, And didst make me alive.

17             Behold, in peace my bitterness was bitter; And thou hast been pleased (to rescue) my soul from the pit; fa66 For thou hast east behind thy back all my sins.

18             For hell shall not confess thee; Death shall not praise thee; They that go down into the pit shall not wait for thy truth.

19             The living, the living, he shall confess to thee, As I (do) this day; The father to the sons shall make known thy truth.

20             Jehovah to save me; And we will sing our songs All the days of our life in the house of Jehovah.

21             Now, Isaiah had said, They shall take a mass of figs, and apply it to the boil, And they shall live.

22             For fa67 Hezekiah had said, What is the sign that I shall go up into the house of the Lord?

CHAPTER 39

1               At that time Merodach-Baladan, son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters And a present to Hezekiah, after having heard that he had been sick, And was recovered.

2               And Hezekiah was glad on account of them, And showed to them the house of his treasure, silver, And gold, And spices, precious ointment, And all his armory, And all that was contained in his treasures; there was not anything in his house, And in all his kingdom, which Hezekiah did not show.

3               Then came Isaiah the prophet to king Pezekiah, And said to him, What did those men say. And whence came they to thee. Hezekiah answered, They came to me from a distant country, from Babylon.

4               Then he said, What have they seen in thy house? And Hezekiah said, They have seen all that is in my house; And there is nothing in my treasures which I have not showed to them.

5               Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, Hear the word of Jehovah of hosts:

6               Behold, the days come, that all that is in thy house, And all that thy fathers have treasured up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon; And nothing shall be left, saith Jehovah.

7               Of thy sons which shall issue from thee, whom thou shalt beget, shall they take; And they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

8               Hezekiah said to Isaiah, Good is the word of Jehovah which thou hast spoken. And he said, At least there shall be peace And permanency in my days.

CHAPTER 40

1               Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, Saith your God.

2               Speak ye according to the heart of Jerusalem; And cry to her, That her warfare is accomplished; That her iniquity fa68 is pardoned; For she hath received at the hand of Jehovah Double for all her sins.

3               A voice crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of Jehovah; Make straight in the desert a path for our God.

4               Every valley shall be exalted, And every mountain And hill shall be laid low; And the crooked shall be made straight, And the rough places shall become a plain.

5               And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; That the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it.

6               The voice said, fa69 Cry; And I said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, And all the goodliness of it as the flower of the field.

7               The grass is withered; The flower is faded; Because the breath of Jehovah hath blown upon it. Surely, the people is grass.

8               The grass withereth; The flower fadeth; But the word of our God shall stand for ever.

9               Go up into the high mountain, O Zion, that bringest tidings; Lift up thy voice aloud, O Jerusalem, that bringest tidings; Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

10             Behold, the Lord Jehovah shall come with strength; And his arm shall be powerful. Behold, his reward is with him, And his work is before his face.

11             He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs in his arm, And shall early them in his bosom, And shall gently lead those that are with young.

12             Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, And measured the heavens with his palm, And held with three fingers the dust of the earth, And weighed the mountains in scales, And the heavens in a balance?

13             Who hath instructed the spirit of Jehovah, Or hath guided him by counsel, And hath taught him?

14             From whom sought he counsel, that he might advise him? And who taught him the path of judgment, And instructed him in knowledge, And showed to him the way of wisdom?

15             Lo, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, And are reckoned as the small dust of the balance; Lo, he taketh up the islands as a very little thing.

16             And Lebanon would not be sufficient to make a fire, Nor its beasts for a burnt-offering.

17             All nations are as nothing before him, And in comparison of him are reckoned less than nothing, And what hath no existence.

18             To whom then have ye likened God? Or what resemblance will ye appoint to him?

19             The workman prepareth a graven image, The goldsmith overlayeth it with gold, And (casteth) golden chains.

20             The poor man chooseth for his offering wood that will not rot; He procureth a skilful workman. To prepare a graven image that shall not be moved.

21             Do ye not know? Have ye not heard? Hath it not been told you from the beginning? Have ye not been instructed from the foundations of the earth?

22             It is he that sitteth on the circle of the earth, The inhabitants of which are as locusts; He stretcheth out heaven as a curtain, And spreadeth it out as a tent to be inhabited.

23             He bringeth the mighty to nothing, The rulers of the earth as if they were not.

24             It is as if they had not been planted; It is as if they had not been sown; It is as if their stock had no root in the earth. Even while he bloweth on them, they wither, And the whirlwind carrieth them away as stubble.

25             And to whom will ye liken me, That I may be like? saith the Holy One.

26             Lift up your eyes on high, And see who hath created those things, Bringing out their army by number; He will call to all of them by name; By the greatness of his strength, And by the might of his power, None shall fail. fa70

27             Why wilt thou say, fa71 O Jacob? And why wilt thou speak, O Israel? My way is hidden from Jehovah, And my judgment passeth away from my God.

28             Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard That Jehovah is the God of eternity, Who hath created the ends of the earth? He fainteth not, And is not worn out by fatigue; And there is no searching of his understanding.

29             He giveth power to the faint, And to him who hath no might he imparteth strength.

30             The youths are wearied, And they faint; And the young men by falling full.

31             But they who wait upon Jehovah shall gather new strength; They shall raise their wings as eagles; They shall run, And shall not be wearied; They shall walk, And shall not faint.

CHAPTER 41

1               Be silent to me, O islands; And let the peoples collect their strength; Let them draw near; then let them speak; Let us come near together to judgment.

2               Who raised up righteousness from the east, Called him to his foot, Gave nations before him, And subdued kings; Gave them as dust to his sword, And as driven stubble to his bow?

3               He pursued them; he departed in peace, By the way that his foot had not gone.

4               Who hath appointed And done it. He who calleth the nations from the beginning. I Jehovah am the first, And with the last I am the same.

5               The islands saw, And were afraid; The farthest boundaries of the earth trembled; They drew near And came.

6               Every one brought assistance to his neighbor, And said to his neighbor, Be courageous.

7               The carver encouraged the founder, And he that beateth with the hammer him that striketh by turns; And he said, It is good for soldering; And he fastened it with nails, that it might not be moved.

8               But thou, O Israel, (art) my servant, O Jacob, whom I have chosen, Thou seed of Abraham my friend.

9               For I have taken thee from the ends of the earth; From its eminences have I called thee; And I have said to thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, And have not cast thee off;

10             Fear not, for I am with thee; :Be not terrified, for I am thy God; For I strengthen thee; yea, fa72 I will help thee; Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

11             Behold, they who provoke thee, Shall be ashamed And shall blush; They who contend with thee, Shall become as nothing, And shall perish.

12             Thou shalt seek them, And shalt not find them; They who contend with thee shall be as nothing, And they who fight with thee shall be as consumption.

13             For I (am) Jehovah thy God, Taking hold of thy right hand, And saying to thee, Fear not, I will help thee.

14             Fear not, thou worm Jacob, Ye dead men of Israel. I will help thee, saith Jehovah, And thy Redeemer, fa73 the Holy One of Israel.

15             Behold, I have made thee a cart, Like a sharp thrashing instrument having teeth; Thou shalt thrash the mountains, And beat them small; And thou shalt reduce the hills to dust.

16             Thou shalt winnow them; And the wind shall carry them away, And the whirlwind shall scatter them. But thou shalt rejoice in Jehovah; Thou shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.

17             The needy And poor shall seek waters, Which are nowhere to be seen; Their tongue shall be parched with thirst. I Jehovah will listen to them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

18             I will open rivers on lofty mountain-tops, And fountains in the midst of a plain; I will make the wilderness pools of waters, And the dry land fountains of waters.

19             In the wilderness I will give the cedar, The sloe, the myrtle, And the pine; I will set in the desert the fir-tree, The elm And poplar together.

20             Therefore let them see And know; Let them likewise think And understand; That the hand of Jehovah hath done this, And that the Holy One of Israel hath created it.

21             Plead your cause, saith Jehovah; Produce your strong reasons, saith the king of Jacob.

22             Let them bring them forth, And let them tell us what is to come; Let them declare the former things which were, And we will lay our heart to them; And we shall know the latest of those things; And declare ye to us what is to come.

23             Tell what shall be hereafter, That we may know that ye are gods; Yea, do good, or do evil, That we may relate And likewise may see fa74 it.

24             Behold, you are of nothing, And your work is of nothing; (The man) hath chosen abomination in you.

25             I have raised him from the north, And he hath come; From the rising of the sun shall he call on my name; And he shall come to princes, as to clay; And he shall tread the clay like a potter.

26             Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? Beforehand, And we will say, (He is) righteous. Surely, there is none that declareth; Surely, there is none that causeth (us) to hear; Surely, there is none that heareth your words.

27             The first to Zion; Behold, behold them; And I will give a messenger to Jerusalem.

28             I looked, And there was none; I inquired at them, And there was no counselor; I asked them, And they answered not a word.

29             Behold, all are vanity; And their works are a failure; Their images are wind And confusion.

CHAPTER 42

1               Behold, my servant; I will lean upon him; fa75 Mine sleet, in whom my soul is well pleased. I have put my Spirit upon him; He shall exhibit judgment to the nations.

2               He shall not cry aloud; He shall not lift up, Nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets.

3               A bruised reed he shall not break, And the smoking flax he shall not quench; He shall bring forth judgment in truth.

4               He shall not thine, nor be discouraged, Till he set judgment in the earth; And the islands shall wait for his law.

5               Thus saith God fa76 Jehovah, The Creator of the heavens, And who stretcheth them out; Who spreadeth out the earth, And its productions; Giving breath to the people who dwell in it, And spirit to them who walk on it.

6               I Jehovah have called thee in righteousness, And will hold thee by thy hand; And will keep thee, And will place thee for a covenant of the people, For a light of the nations;

7               That thou mayest open the eyes of the blind; That thou mayest bring out the prisoners from the prison, And from the house of the prison those who sit in darkness.

8               I am Jehovah, that is my name; And my glory will I not give to another, Nor my praise to graven images.

9               Behold, the former things have come; And new things do I declare; Before they spring up, I will make them known to you.

10             Sing to Jehovah a new song, His praise from the end of the earth; Ye who go down to the sea, And its fullness; Ye islands, And their inhabitants.

11             Let the desert And its cities cry aloud, The villages where Kedar dwelleth; Let the inhabitants of the rock sing; And let them shout from the top of the mountains.

12             Let them give glory to Jehovah, And let them declare his praise in the islands.

13             Jehovah shall go forth as a giant; And as a warrior shall he rouse his zeal; He shall cry aloud; he shall shout; He shall strengthen himself against his adversaries.

14             I have kept silence for a long time; I have been silent, And have refrained myself; I will cry like a woman in travail; I will destroy And swallow at once.

15             I will reduce mountains And hills to a wilderness; I will dry up all their herbage; I will make the rivers islands; And I will dry up the pools.

16             And I will lead the blind by a way which they knew not; I will cause them to walk in paths which they had not known; And I will turn darkness before them into light, And crooked ways into a plain. These things fa77 will I do to them, And I will not forsake them.

17             They shall be turned back, With shame shall they be ashamed, Who trust in a graven image; And who say to a molten image; Ye are our gods.

18             O ye deaf, hear; And ye blind, be attentive to see.

19             Who is blind but my servant? Who is deaf but my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as he that is perfect, And blind as the servant of Jehovah?

20             By seeing many things which thou observest not; By opening the ears, so that he may not hear.

21             Jehovah is well-pleased on account of his righteousness, That he may honor And magnify his law.

22             But this people hath been robbed And trodden down; They shall all be snared in prisons, And they shall be hidden in caves; They shall be made a spoil, And there shall be none to deliver; A prey, And none shall say, Restore.

23             Who among you will hear this? Who will hearken? Who will attend for the time to come?

24             Who gave Jacob to be a prey, And gave up Israel to the robbers? Was it not Jehovah? Because we have sinned against him, And they would not walk in his ways, And did not hearken to his law.

25             Therefore he hath poured upon him The fury of his anger, And the strength of battle. It set him on fire on every side, And he gave no heed to it; It burned him, But he laid it not to heart.

CHAPTER 43

1               And now thus saith Jehovah, Thy Creator, O Jacob, And thy Former, O Israel; Fear not, for I have redeemed (thee); I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

2               When thou shalt pass through the waters, I will be with thee; Through rivers, they shall not overflow thee; When thou shalt pass through the fire itself, thou shalt not be scorched; And the flame shall not kindle on thee.

3               For I am Jehovah thy God; The Holy One of Israel, thy Savior; I have given Egypt as the price of thy redemption, Ethiopia And Sheba in thy room.

4               Because thou hast been precious in my eyes, Thou hast been honorable, And I have loved thee. I will give a man in thy stead, And peoples instead of thy soul.

5               Fear not, for I am with thee; I will bring thy seed from the East, And I will gather thee from the West.

6               I will say to the North, Give; And to the South, Hinder not; Bring my sons from a distance, And my daughters from the end of the earth.

7               All are called by my name, And I have created them for my glory; I have formed them; yea, I have made them.

8               That I may bring forth the blind people, who have eyes; And the deaf, who have ears.

9               Let all the nations be assembled together, And let the peoples be gathered. Who is there among them to declare this, And to cause us to hear the former things? Let them produce their witnesses, they shall be declared righteous; But let them hear, And they shall says, It is truth.

10             Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, And my servant, whom I have chosen. Therefore ye shall know And believe me; And ye shall understand that I am He; Before me there was no god formed; Nor shall there be after me.

11             I, I fa78 am Jehovah; And there is no Savior besides me.

12             I have declared, And have saved, And have made you to heat; And there is no strange (god) among you. Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, That I am God.

13             Even before the day was, I was; And there is none to deliver out of my hand. I will do; And who shall disannul it?

14             Thus saith Jehovah, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel; For your sake have I sent to Babylon, And have made them come down. They are all fugitives; And the cry of the Babylonians is in the ships.

15             I am Jehovah, your Holy One; The Creator of Israel, your King.

16             Thus saith Jehovah, Who maketh a way in the sea, And a path in the stormy waters.

17             When he bringeth (them) out, The chariot And the horse, The army And the power, Lie down together, so that they do not rise. They are quenched; they are quenched like flax.

18             Remember not the former things, And mention not the things that are ancient.

19             Behold, I do a new thing; Now it shall arise; Shall ye not know it? This time fa79 I will make a way ill the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.

20             The beast of the field shall honor me; The dragons, And the young of the ostrich; Because I will give waters in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert, To give drink to my people, my chosen.

21             This people have I created for myself; They shall declare my praise.

22             And thou hast not called on me, O Jacob; But thou hast been wearied of me, O Israel.

23             Thou hast not brought to me the cattle of thy burnt-offerings; And thou hast not honored me with thy sacrifices; I have not made thee to serve with offering, Nor to be wearied with incense.

24             Thou hast not bought cane for me with money, And hast not made me drunk with the fat of thy sacrifices; But thou hast made me to serve with thy sills; And thou hast made me to weary with thine iniquities.

25             I, I fa80 am He, Who blot out thine iniquities for my own sake; Therefore I will not remember thy sins.

26             Bring to my remembrance; Let us plead together; declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.

27             Thy first father hath sinned, And thy teachers have transgressed against me.

28             Therefore I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary; And I will make Jacob a curse, And Israel a reproach.

CHAPTER 44

1               Yet now hear, O Jacob, my servant, And Israel whom I have chosen.

2               Thus saith Jehovah, thy Maker, And thy Former from the womb; He will help thee. Fear not, O Jacob, my servant, O beloved, whom I have chosen.

3               For I will pour waters on that which is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit on thy seed, And my blessing on thy productions.

4               And they shall spring up as among the grass, As willows near the streams of waters.

5               One shall say, I belong to Jehovah; And another shall be called by the name of Jacob; Another shall write with his hand, (I belong) to Jehovah, And shall be surnamed by the name of Israel.

6               Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts; I am the first, And I am also the last; And besides me there is no God.

7               And who as I shall call, Shall declare this, And set it in order before me, Since I appointed the people of the age? And let them tell them the things that are coming, And the things that shall come.

8               Fear ye not, And be not terrified. Have I not since then made thee to hear? And have I not declared it? Therefore ye are my witnesses, That there is no God besides me, And there is no strong God whom I know not.

9               The formers of a graven image are all vanity; And their desirable things do no; profit; And they are their own witnesses That they do not see, nor know; And therefore they shall be confounded.

10             Who is the maker of God? And who is it that hath molten a graven image, Which is profitable for nothing?

11             Behold, all his companions shall be ashamed; And the workmen themselves are of men; Though they all assemble, And stand up, They shall tremble, And be ashamed together.

12             The worker in iron shall take the file; fa81 He shall work in the coals; He shall form it with hammers; He shall work in it with the arm of his strength; He shall even be hungry, so that his strength shall fail; He shall not drink water, so that he shall faint.

13             The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; He marketh it with a dyed thread; He adjusteth it with planes; He shapeth it with a compass; He maketh it according to the shape of a man, According to the image of a man, That it may remain in the house.

14             He shall cut down for himself cedars; He shall take the pine And the oak; He shall supply himself with trees of the forest; He shall plant a pine which the rain shall nourish.

15             Then shall a man have them for burning; For he shall take of them, And shall warm himself; Yea, he shall heat an oven, And shall bake bread; He shall also make a god, And worship it; He shall make an idol, And shall bow down before it.

16             Part of it he shall burn in the fire; Of a part he shall make ready flesh, And shall cat it; He shall roast roast. And shall be satisfied. Next, he shall warm himself, And shall say, Ah! I am warmed, And have seen the fire.

17             The remainder of it he turneth into a god, Into his graven image; He boweth down before it; He worshippeth And prayeth to it, Saying, Deliver me; for thou art my God.

18             They have not known, nor understood; For he hath smeared their eyes, that they may not see, And their heart, that they may not understand.

19             It cloth not return into their heart; They have not knowledge, nor understanding, to say, Part of it I have burned in the fire; Yea, on the coals of it have I baked bread; I have roasted flesh, And have eaten it; Shall I turn the remainder of it into an abomination? Shall I bow down before the stock of a tree?

20             He feedeth on ashes: A deceived heart turneth him aside, So that he cannot deliver his soul, nor sly, Is there not a lie in my right hand?

21             Remember these things, O Jacob; And Israel, for thou art my servant; I have formed thee; thou art my servant; O Israel, do not thou forget me.

22             I have blotted out, as a cloud, thy iniquities; As a vapor, thy sins. Return thou to me; For I have redeemed thee.

23             Praise, O ye heavens; For Jehovah hath done it; Shout, ye lower parts of the earth; Burst forth into praise, ye mountains; O forest. And every tree that is in it; For Jehovah hath redeemed Jacob, And will be glorified ill Israel.

24             Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, And thy Maker from the womb: I am Jehovah, who maketh all things, Who stretcheth out the heavens above, Who spreadeth out the earth by my power; fa82

25             Who frustrateth the tokens of the diviners; Who maketh the soothsayers mad; Who turneth wise men backward; And who maketh their knowledge foolishness;

26             Who upholdeth the word of his servant, And performeth the counsel of his messengers; Saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; And to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built; And I will raise up her ruins.

27             Who saith to the deep, Be thou dried up; And I will make dry thy rivers;

28             Who saith to Cyrus, Thou art my shepherd; And he shall fulfil all my will; Even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; And to the Temple, Thou shalt be founded.

CHAPTER 45

1               Thus saith Jehovah to his anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have taken hold of, To subdue nations before him; Therefore will I loose fa83 the loins of kings; To open the doors before him; Therefore the gates shall not be shut.

2               I will go before thee; And will make straight the crooked ways; I will break asunder the brazen doors; And I will hew down the iron bars.

3               And I will give thee treasures of darkness, And things hidden in secret places; That thou mayest know that I am Jehovah, Who call thee by thy name; Even the God of Israel.

4               For the sake of my servant Jacob, And for the sake of Israel, mine elect; I will call thee by thy name; I will surname thee, though thou hast not known me.

5               I am Jehovah, And there is none besides me; There is no god besides me; I have girded thee, though thou hast not known me.

6               Therefore shall they know, From the rising of the sun, And from the west, That there is none besides me. I am Jehovah; And there is none besides me.

7               Forming light, And creating darkness; Making peace, And creating evil; I Jehovah do all these things.

8               Drop down, ye heavens, from above; And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth be opened; And let salvation And righteousness come forth; Let her bring them forth together: I Jehovah have created it.

9               Wo to him that striveth with his Maker! A potsherd to the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to his maker, Why hast thou made? And, Thy work hath no hands?

10             Wo to him that saith to his father, Why hast thou begotten And to the woman, Why dost thou bring forth?

11             Thus saith Jehovah, The Holy One of Israel, And his Maker; Ask me of things to come; Concerning my sons command ye me, And concerning the work of my hands.

12             I have made the earth, And have created man upon it; It is I, whose hands have stretched out the heavens; And all their army have I commanded.

13             I have raised him up in righteousness, And will make straight all his ways. He shall build my city, And shall release my captivity; Not for price nor for reward, Saith Jehovah of hosts.

14             Thus saith Jehovah; The labor of Egypt, the merchandise of Ethiopia, And the Sabeans of great stature, Shall pass over to thee, And shall be thine; They shall walk behind thee; In chains shall they pass over, And shall reverence And beseech thee. Surely fa84 God is in thee; And there is no other besides God.

15             Truly thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior!

16             All of them shall be covered with shame, And shall even blush: With shame shall go away together All the makers of graven images.

17             Israel hath been saved in Jehovah with eternal salvation; Ye shall not be covered with shame; Neither shall ye blush even for ever.

18             For thus saith Jehovah, who createth the heavens; God himself, the Maker of the earth; Who made it, And furnished it; He created it not empty; He formed it to be inhabited; I am Jehovah, And there is none besides me.

19             Not in secret have I spoken, In a place of the darkness of the earth; Not in vain have I said to the seed of Jacob, Seek me; I Jehovah speak righteousness; I declare what is right.

20             Assemble yourselves, And come; Draw near together, ye rejected fa85 of the nations. They know nothing, who carry about the wood of a graven image, And who pray to a god who cannot save.

21             Publish ye, And bring forward; Yea, let them consult together. Who hath caused this to be heard from the beginning? And who hath declared it from ancient times? Is it not I Jehovah? And there is no other god besides me; A just God, And a Savior; There is none besides me.

22             Look to me, And ye shall be saved, All the ends of the earth; For I am God, And there is none else.

23             By myself have I sworn; In righteousness hath the word gone out of my mouth, Which shall not return; That to me every knee shall bend; Every tongue shall swear.

24             Surely in Jehovah, will he say, Have I righteousness And strength; To him shall he come; And all who provoke him shall be ashamed.

25             In Jehovah all the seed of Israel Shall be justified, And shall glory.

CHAPTER 46

1               Bel hath bowed down; Nebo is fallen; Their images shall be on the beasts And the cattle; They who carry you are burdened by you; A wearisome burden.

2               They bowed down; they stooped together; And they could not withdraw themselves from the binden; And their soul hath gone away into captivity.

3               Hear me, O house of Jacob; All ye the remnant of the house of Israel; Who are borne from the womb; Who are carried from the breast.

4               And even to old age I am the same; And even to gray hairs I will carry. I have made, And I will bear; I will carry, And will save.

5               To whom will ye liken, And make me equal, And compare me, that I may be like?

6               Lavishing gold out of bags; Weighing silver in a balance; They shall hire a goldsmith, to make of it a god; To bow down before it, And to worship it.

7               They shall carry him on the shoulder; They shall lead him about; They shall put him in his place; There shall he stand; From his place shall he not remove; Moreover, if any one cry to him, he will not answer, Nor deliver him from his trouble.

8               Remember ye this, And blush; fa86 Return to your heart, ye transgressors.

9               Remember the former things of old; For I am God, And there is none besides, And there is none like me.

10             Declaring the latest event from the beginning, And from antiquity those things which had not yet been done; Saying, My counsel shall stand, And I will do whatever I wish.

11             Calling a bird fa87 from the east, From a distant country the man of my counsel; I have spoken, And accordingly I will accomplish it; I have thought, And I will do it.

12             Hear me, ye that are stubborn in heart, Who are far from righteousness.

13             I will cause my righteousness to come near, And it shall not be delayed; And my salvation shall not tarry; And I will place salvation in Zion, And my glory in Jerusalem.

CHAPTER 47

1               Come down, And sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; Sit on the ground; There is no throne for the daughter of the Babylonians; For they shall no more call thee tender And delicate.

2               Take millstones, And grind meal; Unbind thy curled locks, make bare the feet; Uncover the limbs, that thou mayest cross the rivers.

3               Thy baseness shall be exposed, And thy shame shall be seen; I will take vengeance, And will not meet a man. fa88

4               Our Redeemer, his name is Jehovah of hosts, The Holy One of Israel.

5               Sit thou silent, enter into darkness, O daughter of the Babylonians; For they shall no longer call thee the mistress of kingdoms.

6               I was angry with my people; I profaned my inheritance; And I gave them up into thy hand; Thou didst not show compassion to them; On the old man didst thou heavily lay thy yoke.

7               And thou saidst, I shall for ever be a mistress. Hitherto thou hast not applied thy mind to it, And hast not remembered her end.

8               But now hear this, thou delicate woman, That sitteth confidently; Who saith in her heart, I am, And there is none besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, And I shall not know bereavement.

9               But those two things shall suddenly come to thee, Bereavement And widowhood; In their perfection shall they come upon thee, For the multitude fa89 of thy divinations, And for the abundance of thy auguries.

10             For thou trustedst in thy malice; Thou saidst, No one seeth me. Thy wisdom And thy knowledge have led thee astray; And thou saidst in thy heart, It is I, And there is none besides me.

11             Therefore shall evil come upon thee, the dawn of which thou knowest not crushing shall fall upon thee, which thou shalt not be able to avert; Destruction shall suddenly come upon thee, which thou knowest not; fa90

12             Stand now amidst thy divinations, And amidst the multitude of thy auguries, In which thou hast wearied thyself from thy youth: If perhaps thou mayest be profited, If perhaps thou mayest prevail.

13             Thou hast wearied thyself with the multitude of thy counsels; Let the binders of the heavens, The watchers of the stars, who predict by the moon, Stand now And deliver thee, From those things which shall come upon thee.

14             Behold, they shall he as stubble; The fire shall burn them; They shall not deliver their soul from the strength of the flame; There shall not be a coal to warm, Nor a light at which they may sit.

15             So shall they be to thee with whom thou weariedst thyself, Thy traders from thy youth. Every one shall wander into his own quarter; There shall be no one to save thee.

CHAPTER 48

1               Hear this, O house of Jacob, Ye who are called by the name of Israel, Who have come forth from the waters of Judah, Who swear by the name of Jehovah, And remember the God of Israel, Not in truth, nor in righteousness.

2               For from the holy city they are called, And they rely on the God of Israel, Whose name is Jehovah of hosts.

3               Long ago did I declare the former things; They went out of my mouth; I published them; I did them suddenly, And they came.

4               For I knew that thou art obstinate; And thy neck is all iron sinew; And thy forehead is of brass.

5               Long ago did I declare them to thee; Before they came, I showed to thee; Lest perhaps thou shouldst say, My idol hath done these things; My graven image And my molten image hath commanded them.

6               Thou hast heard; see all things; And will ye not declare them? Even now have I made thee to hear new things, And hidden things, which thou didst not know.

7               Now for the first time have they been created, And not long ago, nor by a succession of time; Thou hadst not heard them; Lest thou shouldst say, Behold, I knew.

8               Surely thou hadst not heard; Surely thou hadst not known; Surely it is not long since thine ear was opened; For I knew that by transgressing thou didst transgress; Therefore have I called thee a rebel from the womb.

9               For my names sake I will delay my fury; And for my praise I will restrain myself toward thee, So as not to cut thee off.

10             Behold, I have tried thee, And not like silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

11             For mine own sake, for mine own sake, will I do it; For how shall my name be profaned? And I will not give my glory to another.

12             Hear me, O Jacob, And O Israel, my called; I, even I, am the first; Also I am the last.

13             Surely my hand hath founded the earth; And my right hand hath measured fa91 the heavens with the palm; When I call them they stand up fa92 together.

14             Assemble yourselves, all of you, And hear. Who among them declareth those things? Jehovah hath loved him, And will execute his pleasure against Babylon, And his arm fa93 against the Babylonians.

15             I, I fa94 have spoken; Surely I have called him, I have led him; Therefore he shall prosper in his way.

16             Draw near to me, hear this. I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; Since the thing was done, there was I; And now the Lord Jehovah, And his Spirit, hath sent me.

17             Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel. I am Jehovah thy God, Who teacheth thee profitably, Who directeth thee in the way which thou goest.

18             O if thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then should thy peace have been as a river, And thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.

19             Thy seed should have been as the sand, And the children of thy womb as the small stones of it; Her name would not be cut off, And would not be destroyed before my face.

20             Come forth from Babylon; Flee from the Babylonians. With the voice of rejoicing tell this; Publish, And carry it even to the end of the earth. Say ye, Jehovah hath redeemed his servant Jacob.

21             Therefore they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts; He made water to flow to them from the rock; He clave the rock, And the waters flowed out.

22             There is no peace, saith Jehovah to the wicked.

CHAPTER 49

1               Hear me, O islands! And hearken, ye peoples from afar. Jehovah hath called me from the womb; From my mothers belly he hath had my name in remembrance.

2               And he hath placed nay mouth like a sharp sword; In the shadow of his hand he hath protected me, And hath placed me as a polished arrow; in his quiver hath he hid me;

3               And said to me, Thou art my servant, O Israel! In thee will I he glorified.

4               But I said, In vain have I toiled; Uselessly And unprofitably have I exhausted my strength; and my judgment is before Jehovah; And my work before my God.

5               And now saith Jehovah, Who formed me from the womb to be his servant, That I may bring back Jacob to him: And though Israel be not gathered, Yet I shall be glorious in the eyes of Jehovah, And my God shall be my strength.

6               And he saith, It is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant, To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And that thou shouldst restore the desolations of Israel; Therefore have I appointed thee to be a light of the Gentiles, That thou mayest be my salvation to the end of the earth.

7               Thus saith Jehovah, The Redeemer of Israel, His Holy One, To the contemptible in the soul, To the abhorred nation, To the servant of rulers; Kings shall see, And princes shall arise, And shall worship for the sake of Jehovah; For faithful is the Holy One of Israel, who hath chosen thee.

8               Thus saith Jehovah, In a time of good-pleasure have I listened to thee; In the day of salvation have I assisted thee; And I will preserve thee, . And give thee for a covenant of the people, That thou mayest raise up the earth, That thou mayest possess by inheritance the desolate heritages;

9               That thou mayest say to them that are bound, Go forth! To them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. On the ways they shall feed; On all the high places shall be their pastures.

10             They shall not hunger nor thirst; The heat And the sun shall not smite them; For he that hath compassion on them shall guide them; And by the fountains of waters shall he lead them.

11             And I will place all my mountains for a way; And my paths shall be elevated.

12             Behold! those from afar shall come; And, behold! those from the North, And from the sea; And those from the land of Sinis. fa95

13             Praise ye, O heavens! And rejoice, thou earth; And break forth into praise, ye mountains; For Jehovah hath comforted his people, And will have compassion on his poor.

14             Yet Zion hath said, Jehovah hath forsaken me, And my Lord hath forgotten me.

15             Shall a woman forget her infant, So as not to have compassion oil the soil of her womb? Even though they have forgotten, Yet will not I forget thee.

16             Behold! on the palms of my hands have I engraven thee; Thy walls are continually before me.

17             Thy builders hasten; Thy destroyers And demolishers shall depart far from thee.

18             Lift up thine eyes round about, And see. All are assembled, And have come to thee. I live, saith Jehovah, That thou shalt be clothed with them all, as with an ornament, And shalt be bound with them round about as a bride.

19             For thy desolations, And thy wastes, And thy ruined land, Shall now be too narrow for the multitude of its inhabitants; And thy destroyers shall depart far away.

20             The children of thy bereavement shall yet say in thine ears, The place is too narrow for me; Make room for me. that I may dwell.

21             And thou shalt say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me those? For I am bereaved fa96 And solitary, A wanderer And an exile; Who then hath brought up those? Behold! I was left alone; Whence are they?

22             Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold! I will lift up my hand to the Gentiles, And will erect my banner to the people; And they shall bring thy sons in their bosom, And thy daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.

23             And kings shall be thy nursing-fathers, And their queens thy nurses; With their faces on the ground they shall worship thee, And shall lick the dust of thy feet; And thou shalt know that I am Jehovah, For they who wait for me shall not be ashamed.

24             Shall the prey be taken from the mighty? And shall the captivity of the righteous fa97 be delivered?

25             Yet thus saith Jehovah; Even the captivity of the mighty shall be taken away, And the prey of the tyrant shall be delivered; For I will contend with him who contendeth with thee, And I will save thy children.

26             And I will feed thy spoilers with their own flesh, And they shall be made drunk with their own blood as with new wine; And all flesh shall know that I am Jehovah, Thy Savior And thy Redeemer, The Mighty One of Jacob.

CHAPTER 50

1               Thus saith Jehovah: Where is that bill of your mothers divorcement Whom I have dismissed? Or who is the creditor To whom I sold you? Behold! for your iniquities ye have been sold, And to your transgressions was . Your mother dismissed.

2               Why came I, And no mall (met me)? Called I, And no man answered? By shortening hath my hand been shortened, So that it cannot redeem? Is there not in me power to deliver? Behold! by my rebuke I dry up the sea; I put rivers in the wilderness, So that their fishes purify for want of water, And die for thirst.

3               I clothe the heavens with blackness, And make their covering like sackcloth.

4               The Lord Jehovah hath given me the tongue of the learned, That I may know a word in season to the weary. In the morning will he awaken, In the morning will he awaken mine ear, That I may hear as the learned.

5               The Lord Jehovah hath opened mine ear, And I was not rebellious: I did not turn back.

6               I exposed my body to the smiters, And my cheeks to them that tore me; My face I did not hide from shame And spitting.

7               For the Lord Jehovah will assist me; Therefore I was not ashamed; Therefore have I set my time as a flint; And I know that I shall not be confounded.

8               He is near that justifieth me: Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together: Who is the opponent of my cause? Let him draw near to me.

9               Behold! the Lord Jehovah will assist me; Who is he that shall condemn me? Behold! all shall wax old as a garment; The moth shall consume them.

10             Who is there among you that feareth Jehovah? Let him hear the voice of his servant. He who hath walked in darkness, And hath had no light; Let him trust in the name of Jehovah, And rely on his God.

11             Behold! ye all kindle a fire, And are surrounded with sparks. Walk ye in the light of your fire, And in the sparks which ye have kindled. From my hand hath this been to you; Ill sorrow shall ye lie down.

CHAPTER 51

1               Hearken to me, ye that follow righteousness, Ye that seek Jehovah; Look ye to the rock of your hewing, And to the hole of the pit whence ye were digged.

2               Look ye to Abraham your father; And to Sarah, who bore you; For I called him alone, And blessed And multiplied him.

3               Surely Jehovah will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her desolations; And he will make her desert like a place of delights, And her wilderness like the garden of Jehovah: Gladness And joy shall be found in her; Confession And the voice of a song.

4               Attend to me, my people; And listen to me, my nation; For the law shall go forth from me; And I will reveal my judgment for a light of the peoples.

5               My righteousness is near; My salvation hath gone forth; And my arms shall judge the peoples: For me shall the islands wait, And in my arm shall they hope.

6               Lift up your eyes toward heaven, And look upon the earth beneath; For the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, And the earth shall wax old like a garment, And its inhabitants shall perish in the same manner; But my salvation shall endure for ever. And my righteousness shall not perish.

7               Hearken to me, ye that know righteousness; A people in whose heart is my law. Fear ye not the reproach of men, And be not discouraged by their slander.

8               For the moth shall consume them like a garment; The worm shall consume them like wool; But my righteousness shall continually endure, And my salvation for ever And ever.

9               Awake, O arm of Jehovah! Awake, be clothed with strength! Awake as in ancient days, As in generations long ago past. Art thou not that arm which crushed the proud one, Which slew the dragon?

10             Art thou not that arm which dried up the sea, The water of the vast gulf; Which turned the depth of the sea into a path, For the passage of the redeemed?

11             Therefore the redeemed by Jehovah shall return; They shall come to Zion with a song; And everlasting joy shall be upon their head; They shall obtain gladness And joy, And sorrow And groaning shall flee away.

12             I, I am he that comforteth you. Who art thou that thou shouldst be afraid of man that shall die, Of the son of man, that shall be accounted grass?

13             And hast forgotten Jehovah thy Maker, Who stretched out the heavens, And founded the earth; And hast dreaded continually every day The rage of the destroyer, When he prepareth to lay waste? And where is the rage of the destroyer?

14             The exile hasteneth to be loosed, That he may not die in a pit, And that his bread may not fail.

15             And I am Jehovah thy God, Who divide the sea, And its waves shall roar; Jehovah of hosts is his name.

16             And I have put my words in thy mouth; And in the shadow of my hand have I protected thee; That I may plant the heavens And found the earth; That I may say to Zion, Thou art my people.

17             Awake, awake, O Jerusalem! Arise, thou who hast drunk from the hand of Jehovah the cup of his fury; Pressing out, thou hast drunk the dregs of the cup of distress. fa98

18             Of all the sons whom she bore, There is no one to guide her; Of all the sons whom she brought up, There is no one to take her by the hand.

19             These two things have happened to thee; Who shall bewail thee? Desolation And destruction, And the famine And the sword; Who shall comfort thee?

20             Thy sons have fainted; They lay down at the head of all the streets, As a wild bull in a net, Full of the indignation of Jehovah, Of the rebuke of thy God.

21             Therefore now hear this, thou afflicted, And drunken, but not with wine

22             Thus saith thy Lord, Jehovah, And thy God, the avenger of his people; Behold! I have taken out of thy hand The cup of affliction fa99 The dregs of the cup of my fury; Thou shalt not drink of it any more.

23             And I will put it into the hand of thy oppressors, Who said to thy soul, Bow down, And we shall pass over; And thou didst lay thy body as the ground, And as the street to them that pass over.

CHAPTER 52

1               Awake, awake, O Zion! Be clothed with thy strength, Be clothed with the garments of thy beauty, O Jerusalem! the holy city; For there shall no longer come into thee, The uncircumcised And unclean.

2               Shake thyself from the dust; Arise, sit, O Jerusalem! Loose thyself from the chains of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion!

3               For rims saith Jehovah for naught were ye sold; Therefore shall ye be redeemed without money.

4               For thus saith the Lord Jehovah Into Egypt my people went down aforetime, That they might sojourn there; But Assyria hath oppressed them without cause.

5               And now, What have I here, saith Jehovah, That my people should be carried away for naught, And that they who rule over them should cause them to howl, Saith Jehovah, And that every day continually: My name should be exposed to reproach?

6               Therefore shall my people know my name; Therefore shall they know in that day That it is I who speak; Behold! I shall be present.

7               How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him that bringeth tidings, That proclaimeth peace, That bringeth good tidings, That proclaimeth salvation, That saith to Zion, Thy God reigneth!

8               The voice of thy watchmen! They have lifted up the voice; They shall shout for joy together; For they shall see eye to eye, When Jehovah shall restore Zion.

9               Praise ye, And rejoice together, Ye wildernesses of Jerusalem; For Jehovah hath comforted his people; He hath redeemed Jerusalem.

10             Before the eyes of all the nations Jehovah hath made bare the arm of his holiness; And all the ends of the earth Shall see the salvation of our God.

11             Depart ye, depart ye; Go ye out thence; Touch not the unclean thing; Go ye out of the midst of her; Be clean, ye that bear the vessels of Jehovah.

12             For not in haste shall ye go out, And not in flight shall be your journey; For Jehovah shall go before you, And the God of Israel shall assemble you.

13             Behold! my servant shall have prosperous success, Shall be exalted, Shall be lifted up, And shall be very high.

14             As many were shocked at thee; (So much was his face disfigured by men, fa100 And his form by the sons of men; fa101)

15             So shall he sprinkle many nations; Kings shall shut their mouths on him; For what had not been declared to them they shall see, And what they had not heard they shall understand.

CHAPTER 53

1               Who will believe our report? And to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been revealed?

2               Yet he shall grow up before him as a twig, And as a root out of a desert land; He hath no form nor beauty; We will see him; And his countenance is not such that we should desire him.

3               Despised And rejected among men; . h man of sorrows; Acquainted with infirmity; We hid, as it were, the face from him; And we did not at all esteem him.

4               Surely our sicknesses he bare; And our sorrows he carried; And we thought him to be smitten, Wounded by God And afflicted.

5               But he was wounded for our iniquities; He was bruised for our sins; The chastisement of our peace was upon him; And in his wound fa102 we have healing.

6               We all, like sheep, have gone astray; Every one hath turned to his own way; And Jehovah hath laid upon him the iniquities of us all.

7               He was condemned And afflicted; fa103 And he opened not his mouth. As a lamb shall he be led to the slaughter; And as a sheep before her shearers shall he be dumb, And shall not open his mouth.

8               From prison And judgment was he taken; And who shall relate his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living; For the transgression of my people was he wounded.

9               And he laid open to wicked men his grave, And to the rich man his death. Although he did no iniquity, And there was no deceit in his mouth.

10             Yet Jehovah was pleased to bruise him, And to subject him to infirmity. When he shall have offered his soul as a sacrifice, He shall see a seed; fa104 He shall prolong his days; And the will of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand.

11             Of the labor of his soul he shall see, And shall be satisfied; And by his doctrine fa105 shall my righteous servant justify many; For he shall bear their iniquities.

12             Therefore will I divide to him a portion with the great; And he shall divide the spoil with the strong; Because he poured out his soul unto death, And was ranked with the transgressors; He bare the sin of many, And prayed for the transgressors.

CHAPTER 54

1               Shout, O barrens that didst not bear; Shout And sing, thou that didst not conceive; For more are the children of the widow, Than the children of the married woman, saith Jehovah.

2               Widen the place of thy tabernacles; And let them stretch out the curtains of thy tents; Spare not; Lengthen thy cords; And strengthen thy stakes.

3               For on the right hand And on the left thou shalt be multiplied; And thy seed shall possess the Gentiles; And they shall inhabit the desolate cities.

4               Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; And blush not, for thou shalt not be exposed to disgrace; Yea, the shame of thy youth thou shalt forget; And the reproach of thy widowhood thou shalt no longer remember.

5               For thy husband is thy Make, Whose name is Jehovah of hosts; And thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. fa106

6               For as a woman forsaken And broken in spirit Jehovah hath called thee; And a wife of youth, Who hadst been dismissed, Saith thy God.

7               For a little moment have I forsaken thee, And with great mercies will I gather thee.

8               In a moment of wrath I hid my face for a little from thee; But with everlasting kindness have I had compassion on thee, Saith Jehovah thy Redeemer.

9               For the waters of Noah fa107 this is to me; As I have sworn that the waters of Noah Shall no more pass over the earth; So have I sworn that I will not be wroth with thee, To rebuke thee.

10             For the mountains shall indeed be shaken, And the hills shall tremble; But my mercy shall not depart from thee, And the covenant of my peace shall not waver, Saith Jehovah, who hath compassion on thee.

11             O thou wretched, tossed by a tempest, Destitute of consolation; Behold! I will build thy stones on carbuncles, And will found thee on sapphires.

12             And I will lay thy windows with pearls, And thy gates with shilling stone, And all thy borders with precious stone.

13             For all thy children shall be taught by Jehovah, And thy children shall have great peace.

14             In righteousness shalt thou be equipped; Thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear it; And from terror, for it shall not come near thee.

15             And he who assembleth shall assemble against thee without me; He who assembleth in thee shall fall against thee.

16             Behold! I have created the smith, That bloweth the coals in the fire, And bringeth out the instrument for his work; I have created the waster to destroy.

17             No instrument that hath been formed against thee shall prosper; And every tongue that hath risen against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the inheritance of the servants of Jehovah; And their righteousness is from me, saith Jehovah.

CHAPTER 55

1               Ho! all that are thirsty, Come ye to the waters; And ye who have not money, Come ye, buy, And eat. Come ye, buy without money, And wine And milk without any price.

2               Wherefore do ye spend fa108 money, not for bread? And your labor, not so as to be satisfied, Hear ye by hearing me; And eat ye that which is good; And let your soul delight itself in fatness.

3               Incline your ear, And come to me; Hear, And your soul shall live; And I will strike a covenant of eternity with you, The faithful mercies of David.

4               Behold I have given him a witness to the peoples, A leader And instructor to the peoples.

5               Behold! thou shalt call a nation which thou knowest not; And a nation that knew not thee shall run to thee; For the sake of Jehovah thy God, And of the Holy One of Israel; For he hath glorified thee.

6               Seek ye Jehovah, while he is found; Call upon him, while he is near.

7               Let the wicked man forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to Jehovah, And he will have compassion on him; To our God; for he aboundeth in pardoning.

8               For my thoughts are not your thoughts, And my ways are not your ways, saith Jehovah.

9               For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So far do my ways exceed your ways, And my thoughts your thoughts.

10             Surely, as the rain cometh down, And the snow from heaven, And returneth not thither. But watereth the earth, And causeth it to bring forth And bud. That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater;

11             So shall be my word which shall go out of nay mouth It shall not return to me empty; Till it do what I wish, And accomplish that to which I sent it.

12             Therefore with peace shall ye go out, And with peace shall ye be led forth; The mountains And hills shall break out before you into joy, And all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands.

13             Instead of the bramble shall grow up the fir-tree; And instead of the nettle fa109 shall grow up the myrtle; fa110 And it shall be to Jehovah for a name; For an everlasting covenant, that shall not be cut off.

CHAPTER 56

1               Thus saith Jehovah; Keep ye judgment, And do righteousness; For my salvation is near, that it may come; And my righteousness, that it may be revealed.

2               Happy is the man who shall do this, And the son of man who shall take hold of this; Keeping the Sabbath, so that he may not profane it; And keeping his hand, that he may abstain from all that is evil.

3               And let not the son, that is a foreigner, speak, That is joined to Jehovah, saying, By separating hath Jehovah separated me from his people; And let not the eunuch say, I am a dry tree.

4               For thus saith Jehovah to the eunuchs, Who keep my Sabbaths, And choose the things that please me, And take hold of my covenant;

5               In my house And within my walls, I will give to them a place And a name Better than of sons And of daughters; I will give to them an everlasting name, Which shall not be cut off.

6               The children, I say, of the foreigner, Who shall be joined to Jehovah? That they may minister to him, And may love the name of Jehovah; That they may be his servants; Whosoever shall keep the Sabbath, so that he may not profane it, And shall embrace my covenant:

7               Them will I bring into the mountain of my holiness, And will make them joyful in my house of prayer; Their burnt-offerings And sacrifices Shall be acceptable on mine altar; For my house shall be called A house of prayer to all peoples,

8               Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Who gathereth the outcasts of Israel: Still more will I gather upon him his gathered.

9               O all ye beasts of the field! Come to devour; O all ye beasts of the forest!

10             His watchmen are blind; All are ignorant; All are dumb dogs, that cannot bark; They lie down And sleep; They love slumber.

11             And those dogs, strong of appetite, know not to be satisfied; The shepherds themselves know not? nor understand; All of them look to their own ways; Every one to his gain from his end.

12             Come ye, I will fletch wine; We shall drink strong liquor; As today, so shall be tomorrow, Or better, And more abundant.

CHAPTER 57

1               The righteous man hath perished, And there is no man that layeth it to heart: Men of mercy are gathered, And there is none that considereth, That the righteous man is gathered from the face of the evil.

2               Peace shall come; They shall rest in their beds, Whosoever walketh before him.

3               And draw near, ye sons of the sorceress; The seed of the adulterer And the whore.

4               On whom have ye made sport? On whom have ye opened the mouth? On whom have ye stretched out the tongue? Are ye not rebellious children? A lying seed?

5               Warming themselves among the oaks fa111 under every green tree; Sacrificing children in the valleys, Under the cliffs of the rocks,

6               Among the smooth stones of the valley fa112 is thy portion; They, they are thy lot; Even to them hast thou poured out a drink-offering, And offered a sacrifice. Shall I take pleasure in these things? fa113

7               On a lofty And high mountain hast thou set thy bed; Yea, thou art gone up to it to offer a sacrifice.

8               Behind the door And behind the door-post Hast thou set thy memorial; Thou hast been discovered to another than me; Thou art gone up; Thou hast enlarged thy bed; Thou hast made a covenant with them; Thou lovedst their bed in the place which thou sawest.

9               And thou wentest to the king with ointment; Thou multipliedst thy disguises; Thou sentest thy ambassadors to a distant place; Thou art humbled even to hell.

10             Thou art wearied with thy manifold journeying; And hast not said, There is no hope: Thou hast found the life of thine hand; Therefore thou hast not grieved.

11             And whom hast thou worshipped, And of whom hast thou been afraid, That thou hast dealt falsely, And hast not remembered me, Blot laid it on thy heart? Is it not because I have held my peace, And therefore thou never fearest me?

12             I will declare thy righteousness, And thy deeds; And they shall not profit thee.

13             When thou shalt cry, let thy troops deliver thee; Yet the wind shall carry them all away; Vanity shall seize them. But he who hopeth in me shall obtain the land by inheritance, And shall possess the mountain of my holiness.

14             And he shall say, Prepare, prepare; Level the road; Remove the stumbling-block out of the way of my people.

15             For thus hath spoken the high And Lofty One, Who dwelleth in eternity, Whose name is Holy; I inhabit the high And holy, And with the afflicted, And with him who is lowly in spirit; That I may revive the spirit of the lowly, That I may revive the heart of the afflicted.

16             For I will not contend for ever, Nor will I be always wroth; For the spirit shall be clothed fa114 before me, And the wind have I made.

17             For the iniquity of his lust I was wroth, And smote him; I have concealed myself, And will be wroth; But he turned And departed in the way of his heart.

18             I have seen his ways, And will heal him, And will lead him, restoring consolations To him And to his mourners.

19             I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to them that are afar off, And to them that are near, saith Jehovah, And I heal him.

20             But the wicked are as the troubled sea, Which cannot rest; And its waters will east out filth And mud.

21             There is no peace to the wicked, saith my God.

CHAPTER 58

1               Cry with the throat, spare not; Raise thy voice as with a trumpet; And proclaim to my people their sin, And to the house of Jacob their iniquity.

2               Yet they seek me daily, And wish to know my ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And neglected not the judgment of her God; They inquire at me about the judgments of righteousness: They wish to approach to God.

3               Wherefore have we fasted, And thou didst not take notice of it? Wherefore have we humbled our souls, And thou knewest not? Behold! on the day that ye fast, ye find pleasure, And exact all your demands.

4               Behold! for strife And contention ye fast, And that ye may smite with the wicked fist. Fast not, as ye do this day, That ye may cause your voice to be heard on high.

5               Is it such a fast as I have chosen? That a man may afflict his soul for a day, And may hang down his head as a bulrush, And may spread sackcloth And ashes? Wilt thou call this a fast, And a day acceptable to Jehovah?

6               Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose wicked bonds, To undo heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that ye may burst asunder every yoke?

7               Is it not that thou shalt break thy bread to the hungry, And shalt bring the wandering poor to thy house? If thou shalt see the naked, that thou shalt cover him; And that thou shalt not hide thyself from thine own flesh?

8               Then shall break forth as the dawn thy light; And thy health shall quickly spring up; Righteousness shall go before thy face, And the glory of Jehovah shall gather thee.

9               Then shalt thou call, And Jehovah will listen; Thou shalt cry, And he shall say, Behold! I am here. If thou shalt take away from the midst of thee the burden, And the pointing of the finger, And the speech of vanity; fa115

10             If thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry man, And shalt satisfy the afflicted soul, Thy light shall arise in darkness, And thy obscurity as noon-day;

11             And Jehovah shall always conduct thee, And shall satisfy thy soul in drought, And shall make fit thy bones; And thou shalt be as a well-watered garden, And as a fountain of waters, Whose waters fail not.

12             And from thee shall be those who shall restore the deserts of the age; Thou shalt raise up the foundations of generation And generation; And thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths for inhabiting.

13             If thou shalt turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, And shalt not do thy pleasure on my holy day, And shalt call the Sabbath a delight, To consecrate it to Jehovah, because it is honorable, And shall give honor to it, So as not to follow thine own ways, Nor to find thine own pleasure, Nor to speak thine own words;

14             Then shalt thou delight thyself in Jehovah; And I will cause thee to ride on the high places of the earth, And will feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; For the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it.

CHAPTER 59

1               Behold! the hand of Jehovah is not shortened, That it cannot, save; Nor is his ear heavy, That it cannot hear.

2               But your sins have made a separation Between you And your God; And your sins have hidden his face from you, That he may not heal.

3               For your hands are polluted with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have uttered falsehood; Your tongue hath spoken wickedness.

4               There is none that crieth for justice, None that contendeth for truth; They trust in vain things, And talk icily; They conceive mischief, arid bring forth iniquity.

5               They hatch the eggs of the basilisk, . And weave the webs of spiders; He that eateth of their eggs shall die; If they be crushed, there shall come forth a viper.

6               Their webs shall not become clothing, And they shall not cover themselves with their works; For their works are works of iniquity; fa116 And the work of violence is in their hands.

7               Their bet run to evil, And hasten to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are vain thoughts; fa117 Wasting And destruction are in their paths.

8               The way of peace they know not; And there is no judgment in their steps: They have corrupted their paths; Whosoever walketh by them shall not know peace.

9               Therefore judgment hath departed far from us; And justice doth not overtake us. We looked for light, And, behold! obscurity; For brightness, And, behold! we walk amidst thick darkness.

10             We grope for the wall like the blind; We grope like those who have been deprived of sight; We stumble at noon-day as in the night; Ill solitary places like dead men.

11             We all roar like bears; And moaning, we moan like doves We looked for judgment, And it is not visible; For salvation, And it is far off from us.

12             For our iniquities are multiplied before thee; And our sins have testified against us; fa118 for our iniquities are with us, And we know our sins.

13             We have done wickedly, And have lied to Jehovah, And have turned back from our God; Speaking slander And revolt; Conceiving And uttering from the heart words of falsehood.

14             And judgment is driven back, And justice is far off; For truth is fallen in the street, And equity cannot come forth.

15             Yea, truth faileth; And he who hath withdrawn from evil hath become a prey. And Jehovah saw it; And it displeased his eyes, that there was no judgment.

16             He saw that there was no man, And wondered that none came forward; fa119 Therefore his arm brought fa120 salvation to him; And his righteousness, it upheld him.

17             And he put on righteousness as a coat of mail, And the helmet of salvation on his head; He put on vengeance as a robe, And was clothed with indignation as a cloak.

18             As if for the sake of recompenses, As if for rendering vengeance, For rendering indignation to his adversaries, Recompense to his enemies, He will render recompense to the islands.

19             Therefore they shall fear the name of Jehovah from the west, And his glory from the rising of the sun; For the enemy shall come as a river; And the Spirit of Jehovah shall drive him. fa121

20             And a Redeemer shall come to Zion, And to them who have returned from iniquity in Jacob, Saith Jehovah.

21             And this my covenant I make with them, saith Jehovah; My Spirit that is upon thee, And my words which I have put in thy mouth, Shall not depart out of thy mouth, Nor out of the mouth of thy seed, Nor out of the mouth of thy seeds seed, saith Jehovah, From this time even for ever.

CHAPTER 60

1               Arise, be bright; For thy brightness is come; And the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee.

2               For, behold! darkness shall cover the earth, And thick darkness the peoples; But Jehovah shall arise upon thee; And his glory shall be seen upon thee.

3               And the Gentiles shall walk to thy brightness, And kings to the luster of thy rising.

4               Lift up thine eyes round about, And see. They all are assembled that they may come to thee; Thy sons shall come from afar; Thy daughters shall be nursed at the side.

5               Then thou shalt see, And shalt be bright; Thou shalt tremble, And thy heart shall be enlarged; Because the abundance of the sea fa122 shall be converted to thee; The riches fa123 of the Gentiles shall come to thee.

6               A multitude of camels shall cover thee, Of the dromedaries of Midian And Ephah; All they from Sheba shall come; They shall bring gold And incense, And shall declare the praises of Jehovah.

7               All the sheep of Kedar shall be gathered together to thee; The rams of Nebaioth shall minister to thee; They shall ascend to the good-pleasure of mine altar; And I will glorify the house of my glory.

8               Who are those that fly as a cloud, And as doves to their windows?

9               Surely the islands shall wait for me, And the ships of Tarshish; That they may bring thy sons from afar, Their silver And their gold with them, To the name of Jehovah thy God, And to the Holy One of Israel; For he hath glorified thee.

10             And the sons of the foreigner shall build thy walls, And their kings shall minister to thee; For in my wrath I smote thee; And in my loving-kindness have I had compassion on thee.

11             And thy gates shall be open continually; They shall not be shut by day nor by night; That the riches fa124 of the Gentiles may be carried to thee, And that their kings may be led.

12             For the nation And kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; The nations, Is, shall be utterly destroyed.

13             The glory of Lebanon shall come to thee; The fir-tree, the pine, And the box together; To the beauty fa125 of the place of my holiness; For I will glorify the place of my feet.

14             And the sons of them that afflict thee Shall come bending to thee; And all who despised thee, Shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; And they shall call thee the City of Jehovah, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

15             Instead of thy having been forsaken And hated, So that no man passed through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, The joy of generation And generation.

16             And thou shalt suck the milk of the Gentiles; Thou shalt suck the breast of kings; And thou shalt know that  Jehovah Am thy Savior And thy Redeemer, The Mighty One of Jacob.

17             For brass I will bring gold; And for iron I will bring silver; And for wood, brass; And for stones, iron; And I will make thy magistracy peace, And thine exactors, righteousness.

18             Oppression shall no longer be heard in thy hind; Wasting or destruction within thy borders; And thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, And thy gates, Praise.

19             And thou shalt no longer have the sun for the light of days, Nor shall the brightness of the moon give light to thee; For Jehovah shall be to thee an everlasting light, And thy God shall be thy glory.

20             Thy sun shall no longer set; And thy moon shall no longer wane; For Jehovah shall be to thee an everlasting light; And the days of thy mourning shall be ended.

21             Thy people also shall all be righteous; They shall inherit the land for ever; The branch of his planting shall be the work of my hands, That I may be glorified.

22             A little one shall become a thousand; A small one, a strong nation; Jehovah will hasten this in her time.

CHAPTER 61

1               The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me; On that account Jehovah hath anointed me; He hath sent me to preach to the afflicted; fa126 To bind up the broken in heart; To proclaim liberty to the captives, The opening of the prison to them that are bound.

2               To proclaim the year of the good-pleasure of Jehovah, And the day of vengeance to our God; To comfort all that mourn.

3               To appoint to the mourners in Zion; That I may give to them beauty instead of ashes, The oil of joy instead of mourning, The garment of gladness instead of an afflicted spirit; To call them trees of righteousness, The plantation of Jehovah, To glorify him.

4               And they shall build the deserts of the age; They shall raise up the ancient wildernesses; And they shall restore the cities of desolation, The wildernesses of many ages.

5               And strangers shall stand And feed your sheep; And the sons of the foreigner shall be Your husbandmen And vine-dressers.

6               But ye shall be called the Priests of Jehovah; Men shall call you the Ministers of our God; Ye shall eat the substance of the Gentiles; And ye shall rise by their glory.

7               Instead of your shame there shall be a double reward; And instead of disgrace they shall rejoice in their portion; For in their land they shall possess the double, And they shall have everlasting joy.

8               For I Jehovah love judgment; I hate robbery in the burnt-offering; And I will establish their work in truth, And will make an everlasting covenant with them.

9               And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles; And their offspring in the midst of the peoples; All who see them shall acknowledge them That they are the seed blessed by Jehovah.

10             Rejoicing I will rejoice in Jehovah; My soul shall be joyful in my God; Nor he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness; As a bridegroom hath he adorned me, And as a bride decorated with her jewels.

11             For, as the earth putteth forth her bud, And as the garden causeth her seed to spring up, So the Lord Jehovah will cause righteousness to spring up, And praise before all the nations.

CHAPTER 62

1               On account of Zion I will not be silent; And on account of Jerusalem I will not rest; Till her righteousness go forth as brightness, And till her salvation burn like a lamp.

2               And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, And all the kings of the earth thy glory; And thou shalt be called by a new name, Which the mouth of Jehovah shall name.

3               And thou shalt be a crown of glory in the hand of Jehovah; And the diadem of the kingdom in the hand of thy God.

4               Thou shalt no more be called forsaken; Nor shall thy land be any more called desolate; For they shall call thee, My good-pleasure in her; . And they shall call thy land, Married; For the good-pleasure of Jehovah is in thee, And thy land shall be married.

5               For, as a young man marrieth a virgin, So shall thy sons marry thee; And with the joy of the bridegroom over the bride Thy God will rejoice over thee.

6               On thy walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen, Who, during the whole day And the whole night together, Shall not keep silence. Ye that are mindful fa127 of Jehovah, Be ye not silent;

7               And give him not silence, Till he establish, And till he make Jerusalem, A praise in the earth.

8               Jehovah hath sworn by his right hand, And by the arm of his strength; If I shall any more give thy corn For food to thine enemies, And if the sons of the foreigner shall drink thy wine, For which thou hast labored.

9               For they who have gathered it shall eat it, And shall praise Jehovah; And they that collect it shall drink wine, In my holy courts.

10             Pass through, pass through the gates; Clear the way for the people; Level, level the road; Pave it with stones; Lift up a standard to the peoples.

11             Behold! Jehovah hath proclaimed to the end of the earth; Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold! thy Savior cometh; Behold! his reward is with him, And the effect of his work is before him.

12             And they shall call thee, A holy people, Redeemed by Jehovah; And they shall call thee The City sought out, Not forsaken.

CHAPTER 63

1               Who is this that cometh from Edom? With red garments from Bozrah? This that is beautiful in his raiment, Marching in the greatness of his strength? I, who speak in righteousness, Mighty to save.

2               Wherefore is thy raiment red? And thy garments like one that treadeth in the wine-press?

3               Alone have I pressed the wine-press; And of the peoples there was none with me; For I will tread them in my wrath, And will trample them down in my fury; And their blood shall be sprinkled on my garments, And I will stain all my raiment.

4               For the day of vengeance is in my heart; And the year of my redeemed is come.

5               Therefore I looked, And there was none to help; And I wondered that there was none to uphold; Therefore mine arm brought salvation to me And my wrath upheld me.

6               And I will tread down the peoples in my wrath, And will make them drunk in my fury, And will east down their strength to the earth.

7               The mercies of Jehovah will I keep in remembrance, The praises of Jehovah; According to all that Jehovah hath bestowed on us, And in the abundance of kindness toward the house of Israel, Which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, And according to the multitude of his loving-kindnesses.

8               For he said, Surely they are my people; Children that do not lie; Therefore he became their Savior.

9               In all their affliction he was afflicted; fa128 And the angel of his presence saved them; In his love And in his compassion he redeemed them; And he bare them And carried them all the days of the age.

10             But they were rebellious, And provoked his Holy Spirit; Therefore he was turned to be their enemy, And fought against them.

11             And he remembered the days of old, In which Moses was with his people. Where is he that made them to come up out of the sea, With the shepherd of his flock? Where is he that put his Holy Spirit in the midst of them?

12             That led them by the right hand of Moses, By the arm of his glory; That divided the waters before them, That he might gain for himself all everlasting name?

13             That made them walk through the depths, As a horse ill the desert, So that they did not stumble?

14             He went down, as a beast into a plain; The Spirit of Jehovah gave him rest; So didst thou lead thy people, That thou mightst make for thyself a glorious name.

15             Look down from heaven; Behold from the habitation, Of thy holiness And of thy glory. Where is thy zeal And thy strength? The multitude of thy bowels, And of thy compassions toward me, Have been restrained.

16             Surely thou art our Father, Though Abraham do not know us, And Israel do not acknowledge us; Yet thou art our Fattier And out Redeemer; From everlasting is thy name.

17             Why didst thou cause us, O Jehovah, To wander from thy ways? Why didst thou cause our heart To depart from thy fear? Return, on account of thy servants, To the tribes of thine inheritance.

18             For a little time the people of thy holiness possessed it; Our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary.

19             For a long period have we been They over whom thou hast not ruled, On whom thy name hath not been called.

CHAPTER 64

1               O that thou wouldst rend the heavens! That thou wouldst come down! That the mountains would flow down at thy presence!

2               As by the burning of a melting fire, fa129 The fire hath made the waters to boil, That thou mightst make thy name known to thine adversaries; The nations trembled at thy presence.

3               When thou didst terrible things, Which we looked not for, Thou camest down; The mountains flowed down at thy presence.

4               From of old they have not heard, Nor perceived by the ears; Eye hath not seen a God besides thee, That doeth such things to him that waiteth for him.

5               Thou hast met him that rejoiceth And worketh righteousness; In thy ways they remembered thee; Behold! thou wast angry, And we have sinned; In them is perpetuity, And we shall be saved. fa130

6               And we have all been as the unclean; And all our righteousnesses as a defiled garment; And we all fade as a leaf; And our iniquities, as the wind, Have carried us away.

7               There is none that calleth on thy name, Nor that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee; For thou hast hidden thy face from us, And hast made us to languish In the hand of our iniquity.

8               And now, O Jehovah, thou art our Father; We are the clay, And thou our potter; We all are the work of thy hands.

9               Be not angry, O Jehovah, beyond measure; Neither remember iniquity for ever. Behold! see, we beseech thee, We all are thy people.

10             The cities of thy holiness have been a desert; Zion hath been a desert; Jerusalem hath been a wilderness.

11             The house of our sanctuary And of our glory, In which our fathers praised thee, Hath been burnt with fire; And all our desirable things are laid waste.

12             Wilt thou restrain thyself for these things, O Jehovah! Wilt thou be silent? And wilt thou afflict us beyond measure?

CHAPTER 65

1               I have manifested myself to them that asked not; I have been found by them that sought me not; I said, Behold me, behold me, To a nation that called not on my name.

2               I have stretched out my hands every day To a rebellious people, Walking in a way not good, After their own thoughts.

3               A people that provoketh me always to my face, That sacrifieth in gardens, And offereth incense on bricks:

4               Who dwell in the graves; Who pass the night in the deserts; Who eat swines flesh; And broth of unclean things is in their vessels:

5               Who say, Remain by thyself; Approach not to me; For I would sanctify thee; fa131 Those shall be smoke in my fury, A fire that burneth all the day.

6               Behold! it is written before me; I will not be silent from rendering And recompensing into their bosom,

7               Your iniquities, And the iniquities of your fathers together, saith Jehovah. Because they have offered incense on the mountains, And have dishonored me on the hills, Therefore I will measure back their ancient work, Into their bosom.

8               Thus saith Jehovah: As if one should find a grape in a cluster, And should say, Destroy it not, For a blessing is in it; So will I do for the sake of my servants, That I may not destroy the whole.

9               And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, And out of Judah the heir of my mountains; And mine elect shall possess it by inheritance; And my servants shall dwell there.

10             And Sharon shall be an abode of flocks, And the valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down in, To my people who have sought me.

11             But ye are forsakers of Jehovah, Who forget the mountain of my holiness, Who prepare a table for the army, And fill an oblation to the number.

12             Therefore I will number you to the sword, And ye all shall be cut down by slaughter; Because I called, And ye answered not; I spoke, And ye heard not; And ye did evil before mine eyes, And chose the things in which I took no pleasure.

13             Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold! my servants shall eat, And ye shall be hungry; Behold! my servants shall drink, And ye shall be thirsty; Behold! my servants shall rejoice, And ye shall be covered with shame.

14             Behold! my servants shall shout for gladness of heart; And ye shall cry aloud for grief of heart, And shall howl for anguish of spirit.

15             And ye shall leave your name for a curse to mine elect; The Lord Jehovah shall slay you, And shall call his servants by another name.

16             He who blesseth himself in the earth Shall bless himself in the faithful God; And he who sweareth in the earth Shall swear by the faithful God; For the former afflictions, Are surrendered to forgetfulness, And hidden from mine eyes.

17             For, behold! I will create, New heavens And a new earth; The former shall not be remembered, Igor come into mind.

18             But rejoice And be glad for ever, In the things which I create; For, behold! I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, And her people a joy.

19             And I will be glad in Jerusalem, And will rejoice in my people; And the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying.

20             There shall be no more there an infant of days, Nor an old man that fulfilleth not his days; For the son of a hundred years shall die young; And the sinner who is the son of a hundred years shall be accursed.

21             They shall build houses, And shall inhabit them; They shall plant vines, And shall eat the fruit of them.

22             They shall not build that another may inhabit; They shall not plant that another may eat; For according to the days of a tree Shall be the days of my people; And mine elect shall perpetually enjoy, The work of their hands.

23             They shall not toil in vain; And they shall not bring forth in terror; For the seed of the blessed of Jehovah shall they be, And their offspring with them.

24             And it shall be, before they cry, I will listen; While they are yet speaking, I will hear.

25             The wolf And the lamb shall feed together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox; And the serpent shall have dust for his food. They shall not destroy, And shall not hurt, In all my holy mountain, saith Jehovah.

CHAPTER 66

1               Thus saith Jehovah: Heaven is my throne, And the earth is my footstool: Where is that house which ye will build for me? And where is this place of my rest?

2               Yet all these things hath my hand made, And all these things began to be, saith Jehovah; And I look to him who is humble And contrite in spirit, And who trembleth at my word.

3               He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; He that sacrificeth a sheep, as if he stabbed a dog; He that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swines flesh; He that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol; And truly they have chosen their own ways; And their soul hath delighted in their abominations.

4               I also will choose their delusions, And will bring upon them their terror; Because I called, And no man answered; I spoke, And they heard not; And they did evil before mine eyes, And chose those things in which I take no delight.

5               Hear the word of Jehovah, Ye that tremble at his word. Your brethren that hate you. And that cast you out for my names sake, Have said, Let Jehovah be glorified. fa132 But he shall be seen to your joy, And they shall be ashamed.

6               A voice of tumult from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of Jehovah Rendering recompense to his adversaries.

7               Before she was in labor, she brought forth; Before her pain came upon her she was delivered of a male.

8               Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such thing? Shall the earth bring forth in one day? Shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion had the pains of child-bearing? Immediately she brought forth.

9               Shall I bring to the birth, And not bring forth? saith Jehovah. Shall I cause to bear. And yet restrain? saith thy God.

10             Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, And be glad with her, All ye that love her; Rejoice for joy with her, All ye that mourn for her;

11             That ye may suck And be satisfied From the breast of her consolations; That ye may milk And be delighted . With the brightness of her glory.

12             For thus saith Jehovah: Behold! I cause peace to flow on her like a river, And the glory of the Gentiles as an overflowing torrent; Thus ye shall suck; Ye shall be carried on the shoulder, And shall be dandled on the knees.

13             As a man whom his mother comforteth, So will I comfort you; And ye shall have comfort on Jerusalem.

14             And ye shall see, And your heart shall rejoice; And your bones shall flourish like the grass; And the hand of Jehovah shall be known toward his servants, And he shall be enraged against his enemies.

15             For, behold! Jehovah shall come in fire; And his chariots, as a whirlwind; That he may utter his wrath in fury, And his rebuke in a flame of fire.

16             For with fire, And with his sword, Shall Jehovah judge all flesh; And many shall be the slain of Jehovah.

17             They that sanctify themselves, And that purify themselves in the gardens behind one in the midst, That eat swines flesh, And the abomination, And the mouse, Shall be consumed together, saith Jehovah.

18             For I (know) their deeds And their thoughts; Because the time is come, That I should assemble all nations And languages; And they shall come, And shall see my glory.

19             And I will put a mark upon them, And will send some of them that are escaped, To the nations of Tarshish, Pul, And Lud, that draw the bow To Tubal And Jayan; To the distant islands, Which have not heard my name, And have not seen my glory; And they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.

20             And they shall bring all your brethren, Out of all nations, An oblation to Jehovah, On horses, And chariots, And wagons, On mules And swift animals, To my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith Jehovah; As the children of Israel bring in a clean vessel To the house of Jehovah.

21             And even some of them will I take For priests And Levites, saith Jehovah.

22             For, as the new heavens And the new earth, which I make, Remain before me, saith Jehovah; So shall your seed And your name remain.

23             And it shall be, That from month to his month, And from Sabbath to his Sabbath, All flesh shall come, To worship before me, saith Jehovah.

24             And they shall go forth, And shall see the carcasses of the men who have rebelled against me; For their worm shall not die, And their fire shall not be quenched; And they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.


TABLES OF SCRIPTURE

Go To Commentary 38:1-22

Isaiah 38:1-22

1. In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.

1. In diebus illis aegrotavit Ezechias usque ad mortem. Et vemt ad eum Isaias filius Amoz Propheta, dixitque illi: Sic dicit Iehova, Praeeipe quoad domum tuam; (vel, domui tuoe;) quia tu morieris, et non rives.

2. Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord,

2. Tunc vertit Ezechias faciem suam ad parietem, oravitque Iehovam.

3. And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight: and Hezekiah wept sore.

3. Ac dixit: Obsecro, Iehova, recordare nunc quod ambulaverim coram to in veritate, in corde perfecto, et recte fecerim in oculis tuis. Flevitque Ezechias fletu magno.

4. Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying,

4. Tunc factum fuit verbum Iehovae ad Isaiam, dicendo:

5. Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

5. Vade, et dic Ezechiae: Sic dicit Iehova Deus David patris tui: Audivi orationem tuam, et vidi lachrymas tuas: Ecce ego adjicio ad dies tuos annos quindecim.

6. And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.

6. Et eruam to de manu regis Assur, atque urbem hane; et protector ero huic urbi.

7. And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken;

7. Erit autem hoc tibi signum ab Iehova, quod Iehova hanc rem facturus sit, de qua loquutus est:

8. Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sundial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.

8. Ecce ego reduco umbram graduum, quibus descendit in horologio Achaz per solem decem gradibus; et reversus est sol decem gradibus in horologio, quibus jam descenderat.

9. The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness:

9. Scriptum Ezechiae regis Iuda, cum aegrotasset, ac convaluisset a morbo Suo.

10. I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years.

10. Ego dixi in successione dierum meorum, vadam ad portas sepulchri; privatus sum residuo annorum meorum.

11. I add, I shall net see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world.

11. Dixi, Non videbo Deum, Deum in terra viventium; non aspiciam hominem ultra cum incolis seculi.

12. Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life; he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.

12. Habitatio mea discessit, et convoluta est a me, quasi tabernaculum pastoris; succidi quasi textor vitam meam; ab elevatione (vel macie ant morbo) succidet me; a die usque ad noctem conficies me.

13. I reckoned till morning, that as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.

13. Supputabam ad auroram; sicut leo, its contrivit ossa mea; ab aurora ad noctem conficies me.

14. Like a crane, or a swallow, so did I chatter; I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me.

14. Sicut grus aut hitundo garriebam, gemeban, quasi columba. Elevabantur ocnli mei in sublime, Domine, vim fecit mihi, recrea me.

15. What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul.

15. Quid loqusr? Qui dixit mihi, ipse fecit: Movebor (vel, trepidus incedam) omnibus diebus vitae meae in amaritudine animae meae.

16. 0 Lord, by these thing men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live.

16. Domine, etiam omnibus qui ultra eos vivent, vita spiritus mei in illis (nota erit,) et me quod dormire feceris, et vivificaveris me.

17. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness; but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

17. Ecce in pace amaritudo mihi amara, et tibi placuit animam meam (eruere) a fovea; (vel, amasti animam meam a fovea interitns;) quia projecisti post tergum omnia peccata mea.

18. For the grave cannot praise thee; death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.

18. Quoniam non infernus confitebitur tibi neque mors laudabit to; nec expectabunt qui in foveam descendunt veritatem tuam.

19. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day; the father to the children shall make known thy truth.

19. Vivens, vivens, ipse confitebitur tibi; sicur ego hodie. Pater filiis notam faciet veritatem tuam.