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Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
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CHAPTER 65

Isa 65:1-25. God's Reply in Justification of His Dealings with Israel.

In Isa 64:9, their plea was, "we are all Thy people." In answer, God declares that others (Gentiles) would be taken into covenant with Him, while His ancient people would be rejected. The Jews were slow to believe this; hence Paul says (Ro 10:20) that Isaiah was "very bold" in advancing so unpopular a sentiment; he implies what Paul states (Ro 2:28; 9:6, 7; 11:1-31), that "they are not all (in opposition to the Jews' plea, Isa 64:9) Israel which are of Israel." God's reason for so severely dealing with Israel is not changeableness in Him, but sin in them (Isa 65:2-7). Yet the whole nation shall not be destroyed, but only the wicked; a remnant shall be saved (Isa 65:8-10, 11-16). There shall be, finally, universal blessedness to Israel, such as they had prayed for (Isa 65:17-25).

1. I am soughtHebrew, "I have granted access unto Me to them," &c. (so Eze 14:3, "Should I be inquired of"; Eph 2:18).

foundRo 10:20 renders this, "I was made manifest." As an instance of the sentiment in the clause, "I am sought," &c., see Joh 12:21; of the sentiment in this clause, Ac 9:5. Compare as to the Gentile converts, Eph 2:12, 13.

Behold me—(Isa 45:22).

nation … not called by my name—that is, the Gentiles. God retorts in their own words (Isa 63:19) that their plea as being exclusively "called by His name" will not avail, for God's gospel invitation is not so exclusive (Ro 9:25; 1:16).

2. spread out … hands—inviting them earnestly (Pr 1:24).

all … day—continually, late and early (Jer 7:13).

rebellious people—Israel, whose rebellion was the occasion of God's turning to the Gentiles (Ro 11:11, 12, 15).

way … not good—that is, the very reverse of good, very bad (Eze 36:31).

3. continually—answering to "all the day" (Isa 65:2). God was continually inviting them, and they continually offending Him (De 32:21).

to my face—They made no attempt to hide their sin (Isa 3:9). Compare "before Me" (Ex 20:3).

in gardens—(See on Isa 1:29; Isa 66:17; Le 17:5).

altars of brickHebrew, "bricks." God had commanded His altars to be of unhewn stone (Ex 20:25). This was in order to separate them, even in external respects, from idolaters; also, as all chiselling was forbidden, they could not inscribe superstitious symbols on them as the heathen did. Bricks were more easily so inscribed than stone; hence their use for the cuneiform inscriptions at Babylon, and also for idolatrous altars. Some, not so well, have supposed that the "bricks" here mean the flat brick-paved roofs of houses on which they sacrificed to the sun, &c. (2Ki 23:12; Jer 19:13).

4. remain among … graves—namely, for purposes of necromancy, as if to hold converse with the dead (Isa 8:19, 20; compare Mr 5:3); or, for the sake of purifications, usually performed at night among sepulchres, to appease the manes [Maurer].

monumentsHebrew, "pass the night in hidden recesses," either the idol's inmost shrines ("consecrated precincts") [Horsley], where they used to sleep, in order to have divine communications in dreams [Jerome]; or better, on account of the parallel "graves," sepulchral caves [Maurer].

eat swine's flesh—To eat it at all was contrary to God's law (Le 11:7), but it much increased their guilt that they ate it in idolatrous sacrifices (compare Isa 66:17). Varro (On Agriculture, 2.4) says that swine were first used in sacrifices; the Latins sacrificed a pig to Ceres; it was also offered on occasion of treaties and marriages.

broth—so called from the "pieces" (Margin) or fragments of bread over which the broth was poured [Gesenius]; such broth, made of swine's flesh, offered in sacrifice, was thought to be especially acceptable to the idol and was used in magic rites. Or, "fragments (pieces) of abominable foods," &c. This fourth clause explains more fully the third, as the second does the first [Maurer].

is in—rather, literally, "is their vessels," that is, constitute their vessels' contents. The Jews, in our Lord's days, and ever since the return from Babylon, have been free from idolatry; still the imagery from idolatrous abominations, as being the sin most loathsome in God's eyes and that most prevalent in Isaiah's time, is employed to describe the foul sin of Israel in all ages, culminating in their killing Messiah, and still rejecting Him.

5. (Mt 9:11; Lu 5:30; 18:11; Jude 19). Applicable to the hypocritical self-justifiers of our Lord's time.

smoke—alluding to the smoke of their self-righteous sacrifices; the fire of God's wrath was kindled at the sight, and exhibited itself in the smoke that breathed forth from His nostrils; in Hebrew the nose is the seat of anger; and the nostrils distended in wrath, as it were, breathe forth smoke [Rosenmuller] (Ps 18:8).

6. written before me—"it is decreed by Me," namely, what follows (Job 13:26), [Maurer]; or, their guilt is recorded before Me (compare Da 7:10; Re 20:12; Mal 3:16).

into … bosom—(Ps 79:12; Jer 32:18; Lu 6:38). The Orientals used the loose fold of the garment falling on "the bosom" or lap, as a receptacle for carrying things. The sense thus is: I will repay their sin so abundantly that the hand will not be able to receive it; it will need the spacious fold on the bosom to contain it [Rosenmuller]. Rather it is, "I will repay it to the very person from whom it has emanated." Compare "God did render the evil of the men of Shechem upon their heads" (Jud 9:57; Ps 7:16) [Gesenius].

7. Their sin had been accumulating from age to age until God at last repaid it in full.

mountains—(Isa 57:7; Eze 18:6; 20:27, 28; Ho 4:13).

their—"Your" had preceded. From speaking to, He speaks of them; this implies growing alienation from them and greater distance.

work—the full recompense of their work (so Isa 49:4).

8. new wineas if some grapes having good wine-producing juice in them, be found in a cluster which the vinedresser was about to throw away as bad, and one saith, &c.

blessing—that is, good wine-producing juice (compare Jud 9:13; Joe 2:14).

so—God will spare the godly "remnant," while the ungodly mass of the nation shall be destroyed (Isa 1:9; 6:13; 10:21; 11:11, 12-16).

my servants—the godly remnant. But Horsley, "for the sake of my servant, Messiah."

9. seed—"the holy seed" (Isa 6:13), a posterity from Jacob, designed to repossess the Holy Land, forfeited by the sin of the former Jews.

my mountains—Jerusalem and the rest of Judea, peculiarly God's (compare Isa 2:2; 11:9; 14:32).

it—the Holy Land.

elect—(Isa 65:15, 22).

10. Sharon—(See on Isa 33:9; Isa 35:2).

Achor—meaning "trouble"; a valley near Jericho, so called from the trouble caused to Israel by Achan's sin (Jos 7:24). "The valley of Achor," proverbial for whatever caused calamity, shall become proverbial for joy and prosperity (Ho 2:15).

11. holy mountain—Moriah, on which the temple was.

troop—rather "Gad," the Babylonian god of fortune, the planet Jupiter, answering to Baal or Bel; the Arabs called it "the Greater Good Fortune"; and the planet Venus answering to Meni, "the Lesser Good Fortune" [Gesenius, Kimchi, &c.]. Tables were laid out for their idols with all kinds of viands, and a cup containing a mixture of wine and honey, in Egypt especially, on the last day of the year [Jerome].

drink offering—rather, "mixed drink."

number—rather, "Meni"; as goddess of fortune she was thought to number the fates of men. Vitringa understands Gad to be the sun; Meni the moon, or Ashtaroth or Astarte (1Ki 11:33).

12. number—"doom" you. Alluding to the "number," as Meni (Isa 65:11) means. Retribution in kind, the punishment answering to the sin (compare 2Ch 36:14-17).

I called, ye … not answer—"I called," though "none had called" upon Me (Isa 64:7); yet even then none "answered" (Pr 1:24). Contrast with this God and His people's mutual fellowship in prayer (Isa 65:24).

13. eat—enjoy all blessings from me (So 5:1).

hungry—(Am 4:6; 8:11). This may refer to the siege of Jerusalem under Titus, when 1,100,000 are said to have perished by famine; thus Isa 65:15 will refer to God's people without distinction of Jew and Gentile receiving "another name," namely, that of Christians [Houbigant]. A further fulfilment may still remain, just before the creation of the "new heavens and earth," as the context, Isa 65:17, implies.

14. howl—(Isa 15:2; Mt 8:12).

15. curse—The name of "Jew" has been for long a formula of execration (compare Jer 29:22); if one wishes to curse another, he can utter nothing worse than this, "God make thee what the Jew is!" Contrast the formula (Ge 48:20) [Maurer].

my chosen—the elect Church, gathered from Jews and Gentiles, called by "another name," Christians (Ac 11:26). However (see on Isa 65:13), as "My chosen," or "elect," in Isa 65:9, refers to the "seed of Jacob," the believing Jews, hereafter about to possess their land (Isa 65:19, 22), are ultimately meant by "My chosen," as contrasted with the unbelieving Jews ("ye"). These elect Jews shall be called by "another," or a new name, that is, shall no longer be "forsaken" of God for unbelief, but shall be His "delight" and "married" to Him (Isa 62:2, 4).

thee—unbelieving Israel. Isaiah here speaks of God, whereas in the preceding sentences God Himself spake. This change of persons marks without design how completely the prophet realized God with him and in him, so that he passes, without formally announcing it, from God's words to his own, and vice versa, both alike being from God.

16. That he—rather, "he who," &c.

blesseth, &c.—(Ps 72:17; Jer 4:2).

God of truth—very God, as opposed to false gods; Hebrew, Amen: the very name of Messiah (2Co 1:20; Re 3:14), faithful to His promises (Joh 1:17; 6:32). Real, substantial, spiritual, eternal, as opposed to the shadowy types of the law.

sweareth, &c.—God alone shall be appealed to as God (Isa 19:18; De 6:13; Ps 63:11).

troubles—that is, sins, provocations [Lowth]. Rather, calamities caused by your sins; so far from these visiting you again, the very remembrance of them is "hid from Mine eyes" by the magnitude of the blessings I will confer on you (Isa 65:17, &c.). [Maurer].

17. As Caleb inherited the same land which his feet trod on (De 1:36; Jos 14:9), so Messiah and His saints shall inherit the renovated earth which once they trod while defiled by the enemy (Isa 34:4; 51:16; 66:22; Eze 21:27; Ps 2:8; 37:11; 2Pe 3:13; Heb 12:26-28 Re 21:1).

not be remembered—See on Isa 65:16, note on "troubles"; the words here answer to "the former … forgotten," &c. The former sorrows of the earth, under the fall, shall be so far from recurring, that their very remembrance shall be obliterated by the many mercies I will bestow on the new earth (Re 21:4-27).

18. rejoice for ever … Jerusalem—(Isa 51:11). "Everlasting joy … Zion." Spiritually (1Th 5:16).

19. (Isa 62:5).

weeping … no more—(Isa 25:7, 8; 35:10; Re 7:17; 21:4), primarily, foretold of Jerusalem; secondarily, of all the redeemed.

20. The longevity of men in the first age of the world shall be enjoyed again.

thence—from that time forward.

infant of days—that is, an infant who shall only complete a few days; short-lived.

filled … days—None shall die without attaining a full old age.

child … die … hundred years—that is, "he that dieth an hundred years old shall die a mere child" [Lowth].

sinner … hundred … be accursed—"The sinner that dieth at an hundred years shall be deemed accursed," that is, his death at so early an age, which in those days the hundredth year will be regarded, just as if it were mere childhood, shall be deemed the effect of God's special visitation in wrath [Rosenmuller]. This passage proves that the better age to come on earth, though much superior to the present will not be a perfect state; sin and death shall have place in it (compare Re 20:7, 8), but much less frequently than now.

21. (See on Isa 62:8; Am 9:14).

22. They shall not experience the curse pronounced (Le 26:16; De 28:30).

tree—among the most long-lived of objects in nature. They shall live as long as the trees they "plant" (compare Isa 61:3, end of verse; Ps 92:12).

enjoyHebrew, "consume," "wear out"; they shall live to enjoy the last of it (Isa 62:9).

23. bring forth for trouble—literally, "for terror," that is, "They shall not bring forth children for a sudden death" (Le 26:16; Jer 15:8).

seed … blessed—(Isa 61:9).

offspring with them—(Ho 9:12). "Their offspring shall be with themselves" [Maurer]; not "brought forth" only to be cut off by "sudden death" (see the parallel clause).

24. Contrast Isa 64:7, "none … calleth," &c.; and see on Isa 65:12, "I called, ye did not answer." Maurer translates, "They shall hardly (literally, "not yet") call, when (literally, "and") I will answer; they shall be still speaking, when I will hear" (Ps 32:5; Da 9:20, 21).

25. (See on Isa 11:6).

and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock—(See on Isa 11:7).

and dust—rather, "but dust," &c. The curse shall remain on the serpent [Horsley], (Ge 3:14; Mic 7:17). "To lick the dust" is figurative of the utter and perpetual degradation of Satan and his emissaries (Isa 49:23; Ps 72:9). Satan fell self-tempted; therefore no atonement was contrived for him, as there was for man, who fell by his temptation (Jude 6; Joh 8:44). From his peculiar connection with the earth and man, it has been conjectured that the exciting cause of his rebellion was God's declaration that human nature was to be raised into union with the Godhead; this was "the truth" concerning the person of the Son of God which "he abode not in"; it galled his pride that a lower race was to be raised to that which he had aspired to (1Ti 3:6). How exultingly he might say, when man fell through him, "God would raise manhood into union with Himself; I have brought it down below the beasts by sin!" At that very moment and spot he was told that the seed of the abhorred race, man, should bruise his head (1Jo 3:8). He was raised up for this, to show forth God's glory (Ex 9:16; Ro 9:17). In his unfallen state he may have been God's vicegerent over the earth and the animal kingdom before man: this will account for his assuming the form of a serpent (Ge 3:1). Man succeeded to that office (Ge 2:19, 20), but forfeited it by sin, whence Satan became "prince of this world"; Jesus Christ supplants the usurper, and as "Son of man" regains the lost inheritance (Ps 8:4-8). The steps in Satan's overthrow are these: he is cast out, first, from heaven (Re 12:7-9) on earth; next, he is bound a thousand years (Re 20:2, 3); finally, he is cast into the lake of fire for ever (Re 20:10).

the serpent's meat—(See on Isa 11:8).

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain—(See on Isa 11:9).

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