Parable of Jehovah's Vineyard.
A new prophecy; entire in itself. Probably delivered
about the same time as the second and third chapters, in Uzziah's
reign. Compare Isa 5:15, 16 with Isa 2:17; and Isa 5:1 with Isa 3:14. However, the close of the chapter
alludes generally to the still distant invasion of Assyrians in
a later reign (compare Isa 5:26 with Isa 7:18; and Isa 5:25 with Isa 9:12). When the time drew nigh, according to
the ordinary prophetic usage, he handles the details more
particularly (Isa 7:1-8:22); namely, the calamities caused by the
Syro-Israelitish invasion, and subsequently by the Assyrians whom Ahaz
had invited to his help.
1. to—rather, "concerning" [Gesenius], that is, in the person of My beloved, as
His representative [Vitringa]. Isaiah
gives a hint of the distinction and yet unity of the Divine Persons
(compare He with I, Isa 5:2, 3).
of my beloved—inspired by Him; or
else, a tender song [Castalio]. By a
slight change of reading "a song of His love" [Houbigant]. "The Beloved" is Jehovah, the Second
Person, the "Angel" of God the Father, not in His character as
incarnate Messiah, but as God of the Jews (Ex
23:20, 21; 32:34; 33:14).
vineyard—(Isa 3:14; Ps
80:8, &c.). The Jewish
covenant-people, separated from the nations for His glory, as the
object of His peculiar care (Mt 20:1; 21:33). Jesus Christ in the "vineyard" of the
New Testament Church is the same as the Old Testament Angel of the
fruitful hill—literally, "a horn"
("peak," as the Swiss shreckhorn) of the son of oil;
poetically, for very fruitful. Suggestive of isolation,
security, and a sunny aspect. Isaiah alludes plainly to the Song of
Solomon (So 6:3; 8:11, 12), in the words "His vineyard" and
"my Beloved" (compare Isa 26:20; 61:10, with
So 1:4; 4:10). The transition
from "branch" (Isa 4:2) to
"vineyard" here is not unnatural.
2. fenced—rather, "digged and trenched"
the ground to prepare it for planting the vines [Maurer].
choicest vine—Hebrew, sorek;
called still in Morocco, serki; the grapes had scarcely
perceptible seeds; the Persian kishmish or bedana, that
is, "without seed" (Ge 49:11).
tower—to watch the vineyard against
the depredations of man or beast, and for the use of the owner (Mt 21:33).
wine-press—including the wine-fat;
both hewn, for coolness, out of the rocky undersoil of the
wild grapes—The Hebrew
expresses offensive putrefaction, answering to the corrupt state of the
Jews. Fetid fruit of the wild vine [Maurer], instead of "choicest" grapes. Of the
poisonous monk's hood [Gesenius]. The
Arabs call the fruit of the nightshade "wolf grapes" (De
32:32, 33; 2Ki 4:39-41).
Jerome tries to specify the details of
the parable; the "fence," angels; the "stones gathered out,"
idols; the "tower," the "temple in the midst" of Judea;
the "wine-press," the altar.
3. And now, &c.—appeal of God to
themselves, as in Isa 1:18; Mic 6:3. So Jesus Christ, in Mt 21:40, 41, alluding in the very form of
expression to this, makes them pass sentence on themselves. God
condemns sinners "out of their own mouth" (De 32:6; Job 15:6; Lu 19:22; Ro 3:4).
4. God has done all that could be done for the
salvation of sinners, consistently with His justice and goodness. The
God of nature is, as it were, amazed at the unnatural fruit of so
well-cared a vineyard.
5. go to—that is, attend to me.
hedge … wall—It had both; a
proof of the care of the owner. But now it shall be trodden down by
wild beasts (enemies) (Ps 80:12, 13).
6. I will … command—The parable is
partly dropped and Jehovah, as in Isa 5:7, is implied to be the Owner: for He
alone, not an ordinary husbandman (Mt 21:43; Lu 17:22), could give such a "command."
no rain—antitypically, the
heaven-sent teachings of the prophets (Am 8:11). Not accomplished in the Babylonish
captivity; for Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, and Zechariah
prophesied during or after it. But in gospel times.
7. Isaiah here applies the parable. It is no
mere human owner, nor a literal vineyard that is
vineyard of the Lord—His only
one (Ex 19:5; Am 3:2).
pleasant—"the plant of his delight";
just as the husbandman was at pains to select the sorek, or
"choicest vine" (Isa 5:2); so
God's election of the Jews.
judgment—justice. The play upon words
is striking in the Hebrew, He looked for mishpat, but
behold mispat ("bloodshed"); for tsedaqua, but behold
tseaqua (the cry that attends anarchy, covetousness, and
dissipation, Isa 5:8, 11, 12; compare the cry of the rabble by which
justice was overborne in the case of Jesus Christ, Mt 27:23, 24).
Six Distinct Woes against Crimes.
8. (Le 25:13; Mic 2:2). The jubilee restoration of possessions
was intended as a guard against avarice.
till there be no place—left for any
that they may be—rather, and ye
the earth—the land.
9. In mine ears … the Lord—namely,
has revealed it, as in Isa 22:14.
desolate—literally, "a desolation,"
namely, on account of the national sins.
great and fair—houses.
10. acres—literally, "yokes"; as much as
one yoke of oxen could plow in a day.
bath—of wine; seven and a half
homer … ephah—Eight bushels of
seed would yield only three pecks of produce (Eze 45:11). The ephah and bath, one-tenth of an
11. Second Woe—against
early—when it was regarded especially
shameful to drink (Ac 2:15; 1Th 5:7). Banquets for revelry began earlier
than usual (Ec 10:16, 17).
strong drink—Hebrew, sichar,
continue—drinking all day till
12. Music was common at ancient feasts (Isa
24:8, 9; Am 6:5, 6).
viol—an instrument with twelve strings
tabret—Hebrew, toph, from the
use of which in drowning the cries of children sacrificed to Moloch,
Tophet received its name. Arabic, duf. A kettle drum, or
pipe—flute or flageolet: from a
Hebrew root "to bore through"; or else, "to dance" (compare
regard not … Lord—a frequent
effect of feasting (Job 1:5; Ps 28:5).
work … operation—in punishing
the guilty (Isa 5:19; Isa 10:12).
13. are gone—The prophet sees the
future as if it were before his eyes.
no knowledge—because of their foolish
recklessness (Isa 5:12; Isa 1:3; Ho 4:6; Lu 19:44).
famished—awful contrast to their
luxurious feasts (Isa 5:11, 12).
contradistinction to the "honorable men," or nobles.
thirst—(Ps 107:4, 5). Contrast to their drinking (Isa 5:11). In their deportation and exile,
they shall hunger and thirst.
14. hell—the grave; Hebrew, sheol;
Greek, hades; "the unseen world of spirits." Not here, "the place
of torment." Poetically, it is represented as enlarging itself
immensely, in order to receive the countless hosts of Jews, which
should perish (Nu 16:30).
their—that is, of the Jewish
he that rejoiceth—the drunken reveller
15. (Compare Isa 2:9, 11, 17). All ranks, "mean" and "mighty"
alike; so "honorable" and "multitude" (Isa 5:13).
16. God shall be "exalted" in man's view,
because of His manifestation of His "justice" in punishing the
sanctified—regarded as holy by
reason of His "righteous" dealings.
17. after their manner—literally,
"according to their own word," that is, at will. Otherwise,
as in their own pasture [Gesenius]: so the Hebrew in Mic 2:12. The lands of the Scenite tent dwellers
35:7). Arab shepherds in the
neighborhood shall roam at large, the whole of Judea being so desolate
as to become a vast pasturage.
waste … fat ones—the
deserted lands of the rich ("fat," Ps 22:29), then gone into captivity; "strangers,"
that is, nomad tribes shall make their flocks to feed on [Maurer]. Figuratively, "the lambs" are the pious,
"the fat ones" the impious. So tender disciples of Jesus Christ (Joh 21:15) are called "lambs"; being meek,
harmless, poor, and persecuted. Compare Eze 39:18, where the fatlings are the rich and
great (1Co 1:26, 27). The "strangers" are in this view the
"other sheep not of the" the Jewish "fold" (Joh 10:16), the Gentiles whom Jesus Christ
shall "bring" to be partakers of the rich privileges (Ro 11:17) which the Jews ("fat ones," Eze 34. 16) fell from. Thus "after their
(own) manner" will express that the Christian Church should worship God
in freedom, released from legal bondage (Joh 4:23; Ga 5:1).
18. Third Woe—against obstinate
perseverance in sin, as if they wished to provoke divine judgments.
iniquity—guilt, incurring punishment
say, "An evil inclination is at first like a fine hair-string,
but the finishing like a cart-rope." The antithesis is between
the slender cords of sophistry, like the spider's web (Isa
59:5; Job 8:14), with which
one sin draws on another, until they at last bind themselves
with great guilt as with a cart-rope. They strain every nerve in
sin—substantive, not a verb: they draw
on themselves "sin" and its penalty recklessly.
19. work—vengeance (Isa 5:12). Language of defiance to God. So
Lamech's boast of impunity (Ge 4:23, 24; compare Jer 17:15; 2Pe 3:3, 4).
counsel—God's threatened purpose to
20. Fourth Woe—against those who
confound the distinctions of right and wrong (compare Ro 1:28), "reprobate," Greek,
"undiscriminating: the moral perception darkened."
bitter … sweet—sin is
bitter (Jer 2:19; 4:18; Ac 8:23; Heb 12:15); though it seem sweet for a time
18). Religion is sweet
21. Fifth Woe—against those who
were so "wise in their own eyes" as to think they knew better than the
prophet, and therefore rejected his warnings (Isa 29:14, 15).
22, 23. Sixth Woe—against corrupt
judges, who, "mighty" in drinking "wine" (a boast still not uncommon),
if not in defending their country, obtain the means of self-indulgence
by taking bribes ("reward"). The two verses are closely joined [Maurer].
mingle strong drink—not with
water, but spices to make it intoxicating (Pr 9:2, 5; So
take away the righteousness—set aside
the just claims of those having a righteous cause.
24. Literally, "tongue of fire eateth" (Ac 2:3).
flame consumeth the chaff—rather,
withered grass falleth before the flame (Mt 3:12).
root … blossom—entire
decay, both the hidden source and outward manifestations
of prosperity, perishing (Job 18:16; Mal 4:1).
cast away … law—in its spirit,
while retaining the letter.
25. anger … kindled—(2Ki 22:13, 17).
hills … tremble—This probably
fixes the date of this chapter, as it refers to the earthquake in
the days of Uzziah (Am 1:1; Zec 14:5). The earth trembled as if conscious of
the presence of God (Jer 4:24; Hab 3:6).
torn—rather, were as dung (Ps 83:10).
For all this, &c.—This burden of
the prophet's strains, with dirge-like monotony, is repeated at Isa
9:12, 17, 21; 10:4. With all
the past calamities, still heavier judgments are impending; which he
specifies in the rest of the chapter (Le 26:14, &c.).
26. lift … ensign—to call together
the hostile nations to execute His judgments on Judea (Isa
10:5-7; 45:1). But for
mercy to it, in Isa 11:12; 18:3.
hiss—(Isa 7:18). Bees were drawn out of their hives by
the sound of a flute, or hissing, or whistling (Zec 10:8). God will collect the nations
round Judea like bees (De 1:44; Ps 118:12).
end of the earth—the widely distant
subject races of which the Assyrian army was made up (Isa 22:6). The ulterior fulfilment took place in
the siege under Roman Titus. Compare "end of the earth" (De 28:49, &c.). So the pronoun is
singular in the Hebrew, for "them," "their," "whose"
(him, his, &c.), Isa 5:26-29; referring to some particular
nation and person [Horsley].
27. weary—with long marches (De 25:18).
none … slumber—requiring no
girdle—with which the ancient loose
robes used to be girded for action. Ever ready for march or battle.
nor the latchet … broken—The
soles were attached to the feet, not by upper leather as with us, but
by straps. So securely clad that not even a strap of their sandals
gives way, so as to impede their march.
28. bent—ready for battle.
hoofs … flint—The ancients did
not shoe their horses: hence the value of hard hoofs for long
wheels—of their chariots. The Assyrian
army abounded in cavalry and chariots (Isa 22:6, 7; 36:8).
29. roaring—their battle cry.
30. sorrow, and the light is
darkened—Otherwise, distress and light (that is, hope
and fear) alternately succeed (as usually occurs in an unsettled state
of things), and darkness arises in, &c. [Maurer].
heavens—literally, "clouds," that is,
its sky is rather "clouds" than sky. Otherwise from a different
Hebrew root, "in its destruction" or ruins. Horsley takes "sea … look unto the land" as a
new image taken from mariners in a coasting vessel (such as all ancient
vessels were), looking for the nearest land, which the
darkness of the storm conceals, so that darkness and
distress alone may be said to be visible.