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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 1

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Judah's sins, Isaiah 1:1-4;

her judgments, Isaiah 1:5-9;

her worship is rejected, Isaiah 1:10-15.

Exhortations to repentance; promises of grace and mercy; threatenings of sore judgments; and complaints by reason of their backsliding, Isaiah 1:16-31.

Verse 1

The vision, or, the visions; the word being here collectively used, as it Isaiah 22:1; 1 Samuel 3:1. The sense is, This is the book of the visions or prophecies. As prophets were called seers, 1 Samuel 9:9, so prophecies are called visions, because they were as clearly and certainly represented to the prophets' minds as bodily objects are to men's eyes.

Amoz; either the brother of Amaziah king of Judah, as the Hebrew writers fancy; or rather, some other person then well known.

Saw, i.e. foresaw and foretold. But he speaks, after the manner of the prophets, of things to come as if they were either past or present.

Concerning Judah and Jerusalem; principally, but not exclusively. For he prophesieth also concerning Egypt and Babylon, and divers other countries; which yet he doth with respect to Judah.

In the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; in the time of their reign; whence it may be gathered that Isaiah exercised his prophetical office above fifty years together: see 2 Kings 15:0; 2 Kings 16:0.

Verse 2

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: he directeth his speech to these senseless creatures, that thereby he might more awaken and affect the Israelites, whom he hereby proclaimeth to be so dull and stupid that they were past hearing, and therefore gives them over as desperate; and calleth in the whole creation Of God to bear witness against them.

The Lord hath spoken: this is his plea against them, of the equity whereof he is willing that all the creatures should be judges.

I have nourished and brought up children; I first made them a people, and until this time I have sustained and blessed them above all other nations.

Verse 3

The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; the most stupid brute beasts acknowledge and obey their Lord and Benefactor, as experience showeth.

Israel doth not know, to wit, me, their Owner and Master, which is easily and necessarily understood out of the former clause.

Knowing is here taken practically, as it is usually in Scripture, and includes reverence and obedience.

Verse 4

Ah: this particle implies both his wonder, and anger, and grief, and shame that they were such.

Laden with iniquity, Heb. of heaviness of iniquity, i.e. of heavy or great sins; for heavy is commonly put for great or grievous, as Isaiah 21:15; Isaiah 30:27. Laden not with the sense of sin, as Matthew 11:28, but with the guilt and bondage of sin.

A seed of evil-doers; the children of wicked parents, whose guilt they inherit, and whose evil example they follow.

That are corrupters, Heb. that corrupt, to wit, themselves, or their ways, or others by their counsel and example. Or, that destroy themselves and their land by their wickedness.

They have forsaken the Lord, not in profession, but in practice and reality, neglecting or corrupting his worship, refusing his yoke and conduct. They have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger; they have lived as if it were their great design and business to provoke him.

They are gone away backward; instead of proceeding forward, and growing in grace, which was their duty, they are all fallen from their former professions, and grown worse and worse, and have impudently turned their backs upon me.

Verse 5

Why should ye be stricken any more? it is to no purpose to seek to reclaim you by one chastisement after another; and therefore I will utterly forsake and destroy you at once.

Ye will revolt more and more; I see you are incorrigible, and turn even your afflictions into sin.

The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint; your disease is mortal, as being in the most noble and vital parts, the very head and heart of the body politic, from whence the plague is derived to all the other members, as it follows. And this is to be understood either,

1. Of their sins; or rather,

2. Of their miseries. Which best suits,

1. With the foregoing words, this being added as a reason why it was in vain to strike them any more, or to expect any amendment that way, because he had stricken them already, and that very terribly, even in their head and heart, whose wounds are most dangerous, and yet they were not at all better for it.

2. With Isaiah 1:7,Isaiah 1:8, where this metaphor is so explained.

Verse 6

From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; you have been all of you punished, from the highest to the lowest, from the worst to the best.

They have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment; I have suffered you to lie under your maladies for a time, without applying any remedies, to try whether the length and continuance of your affliction might not work that cure which the strength of it could not do, but all in vain.

Verse 7

All this and what follows was verified in the days of king Ahaz, 2 Chronicles 28:0, in whose time, and upon which occasion, this prophecy seems to have been delivered, as more exactly agreeing with that time than with any other. If any object, that this being the first of his prophecies, must rather belong to the days of Uzziah, they must take notice, and it is agreed by interpreters, and it is undeniably true, that the prophecies of Isaiah, as also of the other prophets, are not set down in the same order in which they were delivered, but oftentimes the latter are put before the former.

In your presence; which your eyes shall see to torment you, when there is no power in your hands to deliver you.

As overthrown by strangers, Heb, as the overthrow of strangers, i.e. which strangers bring upon a land which is not theirs, nor likely to continue in their hands, and therefore they spare no persons that come in their way, and they spoil and destroy all things, which is not usually done in wars between persons of the same or of a neighbour nation.

Verse 8

The daughter of Zion, i.e. Zion, or Jerusalem; for these two names are promiscuously used of the same place; the name of daughter being frequently given to cities or countries. Thus the daughter of Babylon is put for Babylon itself, Psalms 137:8; Isaiah 47:1. In the same sense we read of the daughter of Tyre, Psalms 45:12, and of Zidon, Isaiah 23:12, and of Egypt, Jeremiah 46:11,Jeremiah 46:24, and of Edom, Lamentations 4:21.

Is left as a cottage in a vineyard as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers; is left solitary, all the neighbouring villages and country round about it being laid waste.

Verse 9

If God, by his infinite power and goodness, had not restrained our enemies, and reserved some of us, the whole nation and race of us had been utterly cut off, as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were; so great was the rage and power of our enemies, and so utterly unable we were to deliver ourselves.

Verse 10

Hear the word of the Lord; I speak not my own fancies or passions, but the message of your Lord and Governor, to whom you owe all reverence and obedience.

Rulers of Sodom; so called for their resemblance of them in wickedness: compare Deuteronomy 32:32; Ezekiel 16:46,Ezekiel 16:48.

The law; or, doctrine, as this word is commonly used; the message which I am now to deliver to you from God, your great Lawgiver, which ought to have the force of a law, with you.

Verse 11

To what purpose? they are vain and useless, being neither accepted by me, nor beneficial to you.

Unto me, who am a Spirit, and therefore cannot be satisfied with such carnal oblations, but expect to be worshipped in spirit and truth, and to have your hearts and lives, as well as, your bodies and sacrifices, presented unto me.

I am full of the burnt-offerings; I am glutted with them, and therefore loathe them.

The blood; he mentions the fat and blood, because these were in a peculiar manner reserved for God, Leviticus 3:15,Leviticus 3:16; Leviticus 17:11, to intimate that even the best of their sacrifices were rejected by him.

Verse 12

When ye come to appear before me, upon the three solemn feasts, Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:23, or upon other occasions.

Who hath required this at your hands, to wit, in this manner, and upon these terms? The thing that I commanded was not only nor chiefly that you should offer external sacrifices to me, but that you should do it with true repentance for all your sins, with faith in my promises, with hearty love to me, and sincere resolutions of devoting yourselves to my service, without which you offer me a dead carcass instead of a living sacrifice.

My courts; the courts of my temple, which were two, that of the priests, and that where the people assembled, 2 Chronicles 4:9. So this reproof seems to be directed against both priests and people, as unworthy to enjoy this privilege.

Verse 13

Bring no more; I neither desire nor will accept of any upon these terms.

Oblations, Heb. meat-offerings; of which see Leviticus 2:1; Numbers 15:4. Incense is an abomination, unto me; so far is it from being a sweet savour to me, as you foolishly imagine. The new moons; which were holy to God, and observed with great solemnity. See Numbers 28:11,Numbers 28:14; Psalms 81:3.

The calling of assemblies; all other solemn times wherein the people were obliged to meet together, as the three great yearly feasts, and other extraordinary seasons.

I cannot away with, Heb. I cannot bear; it is burdensome and grievous to me. It is also iniquity; so far is it from pleasing me, that it is an offence to me; and instead of reconciling me to you, which is your design, it provoketh me more against you.

The solemn meeting; the most solemn day of each of the three feasts, which was the last day, which is called by this very name, Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35, and elsewhere; although the word be sometimes more generally used of any other solemn festival day.

Verse 15

When ye spread forth your hands; when you pray with hands spread abroad, as the manner was; of which see Exodus 9:29,Exodus 9:33; Job 11:13, &c.

I will hide mine eyes from you; which is a gesture of contempt and loathing. I will take no notice of your persons or requests.

Your hands are full of blood; you are guilty of murder, and oppression, and other crying sins, which I abhor, and have forbidden, under pain of mine highest displeasure.

Verse 16

Make you clean; cleanse your hearts and hands from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and do not content yourselves with your ceremonial washings.

Put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; reform yourselves so thoroughly, that you may not only approve yourselves to men, but to me, who search your hearts, and try all your actions.

Verse 17

Learn to do well; begin and inure yourselves to live soberly, righteously, and godly.

Seek judgment; show your religion to God, by studying and practising justice to men, and neither give nor procure any unrighteous judgment.

Relieve the oppressed; be not only just, but merciful.

Judge the fatherless; defend and deliver them, as this word is used, Psalms 7:8,Psalms 7:11; Psalms 9:4, and oft elsewhere.

Plead for the widow; maintain the righteous cause of poor and helpless persons, against their unjust and potent adversaries; whereby you will show your love to justice and mercy, and that you fear God more than men.

Verse 18

Come now, and let us reason together; I am willing to lay aside my prerogative, and to submit the matter to a fair and equal trial, whether I do not deal justly in rejecting all your services, which are accompanied with such gross hypocrisy and wickedness, and whether I do not deal very graciously in offering mercy and pardon to you upon these conditions.

Though your sins be as scarlet, red and bloody, as theirs were, Isaiah 1:15, great and heinous,

they shall be as white as snow; they shall be washed and purged by the blood of the Messias, whereby you shall be made white and pure in God’s sight. It is a metonymical expression, as sins are said to be purged, Hebrews 1:3, when men are purged from their sins, Hebrews 9:14.

Shall be as wool; which for the most part is white, and is compared to snow for whiteness, Revelation 1:14.

Verse 19

If ye be willing and obedient; if you are heartily willing and fully resolved to obey all my commands.

Ye shall eat the good of the land; together with the pardon of your sins, you shall receive many temporal and worldly blessings.

Verse 20

If ye refuse and rebel; if you obstinately persist in your disobedience to me, as hitherto you have done.

The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it; he hath said it, who can as easily do it as speak the words, and who cannot lie, and therefore will do it.

Verse 21

How, a note of admiration at so strange, and sad, and sudden a change,

is the faithful city, Jerusalem, which in the reign of former kings was faithful to God,

become an harlot is filled with idolatry, which is commonly called whoredom.

It was full of judgment; judgment was duly and truly executed in all its courts. Righteousness lodged in it; it was famous for being the seat of justice, which did not only pass through it, like a wayfaring man, but had its settled abode in it.

But now murderers; under that one gross kind he comprehends all sorts of unrighteous men and practices, as may be gathered by the opposition. Only their connivance at that horrid crime of murder is noted, to assure us that Other crimes of a lower nature were not only unpunished, but even encouraged.

Verse 22

Thou art woefully degenerated from thy former purity. If there be any remainders of religion and justice in thee, they are mixed with many and great corruptions.

Verse 23

Thy princes are rebellious against me, their sovereign Lord; they cast off my yoke, and make their own wills and lusts the rule of their life and government.

Companions of thieves; partly by giving them connivance and countenance, and receiving a recompence from them for it; and partly by practising the same violence, and cruelty, and injustice that thieves use.

Loveth gifts, i.e. bribes given to pervert justice, which are severely forbidden, Deuteronomy 10:17; Deuteronomy 27:25.

Followeth after rewards; pursuing them with all eagerness, and by all means possible.

They judge not the fatherless, & c.; they are so far from doing them justice, that they will not so much as give them a fair hearing of their cause, because they cannot make their way to them by gifts.

Verse 24

I will ease me, Heb. I will comfort myself; ease my mind, and satisfy my justice, by taking vengeance, as the next clause explains this. The same expression is used in the same sense Ezekiel 5:13.

Of mine adversaries; of the Israelites, who, though they have called themselves my children and friends, yet by their temper and carriage towards me have showed themselves to be mine enemies.

Verse 25

I will turn my hand upon thee, to chastise thee again, which God threatened that he would not do, Isaiah 1:5, but now promiseth that he will do it, not in fury, or so as utterly to destroy them, but in mercy, and with moderation, so as to purge them, as it here follows.

And purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin; I will purge out of thee and destroy those wicked men that are incorrigible and infectious to others; and for those of you that are curable, I will by my word, and by the furnace of affliction, purge out all that hypocrisy and corruption that yet remains in you, and requires so sharp a cure.

Verse 26

I will restore thy judges, I will give thee such princes and magistrates,

as at the first, Heb. as thou hadst in the beginning; either,

1. Of thy commonwealth, such as Moses and Joshua; or,

2. Of thy kingdom, such as David.

Thy counsellors; thy princes shall have and hearken to wise and faithful counsellors, which is a singular blessing to a prince and people.

Thou shalt be called, to wit, justly and truly; thou shalt be such; for to be called is oft put for to be, as Isaiah 4:3; Isaiah 61:6; Matthew 5:9.

Verse 27

Zion, the Jews that live in or near Zion, and worship God in Zion,

shall be redeemed, shall be delivered from all their enemies and calamities,

with judgment; or, by judgment, i.e. by God’s righteous judgment, purging out those wicked and incorrigible Jews, who by their sins hindered the deliverance of the people, and punishing and destroying their unmerciful enemies, who kept them in cruel bondage, as he did to the Babylonians, whereby he made the way open for their deliverance.

Her converts, Heb. her returners, those of them who shall come out of captivity into their own land,

with righteousness; or, by righteousness, i.e. either by my faithfulness, in keeping my promise of delivering them after seventy years; or by my goodness; for both these come under the name of righteousness in Scripture use.

Verse 28

And; or rather, but, as that particle is oft used; for here is a manifest opposition.

The destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together; though I will deliver my people from the Babylonish captivity, yet those of them who shall still go on in their wickedness shall not have the benefit of that mercy, but are reserved for a more dreadful and total destruction.

Verse 29

They shall be ashamed; not with an ingenuous and penitential shame for the sin, but with an involuntary and penal shame for the disappointment of their hopes which they had in their idols.

Which ye have desired; which, after the manner of the heathen, you have consecrated to idolatrous uses, that under them you might worship your idols, as they did, Ezekiel 6:13; Hosea 4:13; see also Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6.

The gardens; in which, as well as in the groves, they committed idolatry; of which we read Isaiah 65:3; Isaiah 66:17.

That ye have chosen, to wit, for the place of your worship, which is opposed to the place which God had chosen and appointed for his worship.

Verse 30

As you have sinned under the oaks and in gardens, so you shall be made like unto oaks and gardens, not when they are green and flourishing, but when they wither and decay.

Verse 31

The strong; either,

1. Your idols, which you think to be strong, and able to defend you, as appears by your confidence in them. Or,

2. The strongest persons among you, who think to secure themselves against the threatened danger by their wealth, or power, or wisdom; and much more they that are weak and helpless.

Shall be as tow; shall be as suddenly and easily consumed by my judgments as tow is by fire.

The maker of it; the maker of the idol, who can neither save himself nor his workmanship. Or,

his work; either all that he doth or can do, or that which he hath done, his wicked course of life, shall bring him to ruin.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 1". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/isaiah-1.html. 1685.
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