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The Gospel To Israel
Book 1

Isaiah 1:1-31

In compiling a commentary on prophecy, there are five questions that I ask myself:

1. What is the Historical significance of the prophecy?
2. Who is the prophecy addressed to?
3. Are there any double references in the prophecy such as in our past as well as our future?
4. Are there any hidden references that help explain the prophecy better, like the LXX and Targum?
5. What are the recorded results of this prophecy?

General Information

Isaiah 1:1
From the Tanakh
(1)  The prophecies of  Isaiah son of Amoz, who prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

From the NKJV

(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.

Added thoughts from the Targum

Verse 2 Heavens -  “Which trembled when I gave my law to my people. earth, Which was shaken from before my word."
Verse 3 Thought.  “How to return to my law"
Verse 4 Forsaken the service of the Lord
Verse 5 From the lowest (literally: the remnant) of  the people even to the heads thereof

In passing to our exposition of the book, the first thing which strikes us is its traditional title - Yeshaiah  (Isaiah).
In the book itself, and throughout the Old Testament Scriptures,  the prophet is called Yeshayahu;  and the shorter form is found in the latest books as the name of  other persons.  It was a common thing in the very earliest times for the shorter forms of such names to be used interchangeably with the longer;  but in later times the shorter was the only form employed,  and for this reason it was the one adopted in the traditional title.

The name is a compound one,  and signifies  "Jehovah's salvation."
The prophet was conscious that it was not merely by accident that he bore this name; for

yeesha` (he shall save)  (Strong's # OT:3468)  and
yŞshuw`aah (salvation)   (Strong's # OT:3444)
are among his favorite words.  It may be said,  in fact,  that he lived and moved altogether in the coming salvation,  which was to proceed from Jehovah,  and would be realized hereafter,  when Jehovah should come at last to His people as He had never come before.

This salvation was the goal of  the sacred history (Heilsgeschichte, literally, history of  salvation);  and Jehovah was the peculiar name of  God in relation to that history. It denotes

"the existing one"
"existing evermore"
filling all history, and displaying His glory therein in grace and truth.
The ultimate goal of  this historical process,  in which God was ever ruling as the absolutely free One,  according to His own self-assertion in Ex 3:14,  was true and essential salvation,  proceeding outwards from Israel,  and eventually embracing all mankind.

In the name of  the prophet the Tetragrammaton  yhwh (OT:3068) is contracted into yhw (yh) by the dropping of the second h.
We may easily see from this contraction that the name of God was pronounced with an a sound,  so that it was either called

  Yahveh or rather Yahaveh
or else Yahvaah or rather Yahavaah

According to Theodoret, it was pronounced Babe (Yahaveh) by the Samaritans;  and it is written in the same way in the list of  the names of  the Deity given in Epiphanius.
That the  ah  sound was also a customary pronunciation,  may not only be gathered from such names as

Jimnah,   Jimrah,   Jishvah,   Jishpah   (compare Jithlah, the name of a place),
but is also expressly attested by the ancient variations,  Jao, Jeuo, Jo (Jer 23:6, LXX),  and also by the mode of  spelling adopted by
  Origen (Jaoia)
and Theodoret (Aia)

Also in  Fab. haeret. v. 4:  "Aia signifies the Existing One;   it was pronounced thus by Hebrews,   but the Samaritans call it  Jabai."

To return, then: the prophet's name signifies  "Jehovah's salvation."

In the Septuagint it is always written  Aeesai'as,  with a strong aspirate
in the Vulgate it is written  Isaias,  and sometimes  Esaias.

There is something royal in the nature and bearing of Isaiah throughout.

He speaks to kings as if he himself were a king.
He confronts with majesty the magnates of the nation and of the imperial power.
In his peculiar style, he occupies the same place among the prophets as Solomon among the kings.

Under all circumstances, and in whatever state of mind, he is:

  Simple - completely master of his materials
yet Elevated - majestic in his style
yet Beautiful - without affectation
though Unadorned.  

But this regal character had its roots somewhere else than in the natural blood line.
All that can be affirmed with certainty is, that Isaiah was:

A native of Jerusalem
Notwithstanding his manifold prophetic missions, we never find him outside Jerusalem
There he lived with his wife and children

And there he labored under the four kings

Uzziah reigned 52 years 811-759 BC
Jotham reigned 16 years 759-743 BC
Ahaz reigned 16 years 743-728 BC
Hezekiah reigned 29 years 728-699 BC

Written to

The expression  "concerning Judah and Jerusalem"  is applicable to the whole book,  in which all that the prophet sees is seen from Judah-Jerusalem as a center,  and seen for the sake of  and in the interests of  both. The title in verse 1 may pass without hesitation as the heading written by the prophet's own hand.


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First Half of the Prophetic Collection      Ch. 1-39

PART I     Chapters 1-6
Prophecies Relating to the Onward Course of the People Towards Hardening of Heart

Opening Address concerning the Ways of Jehovah with His Ungrateful and Rebellious Nation

Isaiah 1:2
From the Tanakh From the Targum
(2)  Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken:  “I reared children and brought them up-  
And they have rebelled against Me! My Memra. (Word)

From the NKJV

(2)  Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!  For the LORD has spoken:
"I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me;

The difficult question as to the historical and chronological standpoint of this section to all the following addresses can only be brought fully out when the exposition is concluded.  But there is one thing which we may learn even from a cursory inspection: namely, that

the prophet was standing at the eventful boundary line between two distinct halves in the history of Israel.

The people had not been brought to reflection and repentance either by

The riches of the divine goodness,  which they had enjoyed in the time of Uzziah-Jotham
The reverting to the times of David and Solomon
The chastisements of divine wrath, by which wound after wound was inflicted
The divine methods of education were exhausted, and all that now remained for Jehovah to do was to let the nation in its existing state be dissolved in fire, and to create a new one from the remnant of gold that stood the fiery test.

At this time,  so pregnant with storms,  the prophets were more active than at any other period:

Amos appeared about the tenth year of Uzziah's reign,  the twenty-fifth of Jeroboam II
Micah prophesied from the time of Jotham till the fall of Samaria, in the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign

But most prominent of all was

Isaiah the prophet par excellence, standing as he did midway between Moses and Christ

Song of Moses

We refer to Moses' dying song which is called shirath haazinu  (song of  "Give ear"),  from the opening words in chapter 32.  This song is a concise outline or draft,  and also the common key to all prophecy,  and bears the same fundamental relation to it as the Decalogue to all other laws,  and the Lord's Prayer to all other prayers. The lawgiver summed up the whole of  the prophetic contents of his last words,  and threw them into the form of a song,  that they might be perpetuated in the memories and mouths of the people.

This song sets before the nation its entire history to the end of time.
That history divides itself into four great periods:

The creation and rise of Israel
The ingratitude and apostasy of Israel
The consequent surrender of Israel to the power of the heathen
The restoration of Israel, sifted, but not destroyed
and the unanimity of all nations in the praise of Jehovah, who reveals Himself both in judgment and in mercy.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

This fourfold character is not only verified in every part of  the history of  Israel,  but is also the seal of that history as a whole,  even to its remotest end in New Testament times.  In every age,  therefore,  this song has presented to Israel a mirror of its existing condition and future fate.  And it was the task of  the prophets to hold up this mirror to the people of  their own times.  This is what Isaiah does.  He begins his prophetic address in the same form in which Moses begins his song.

Hear ... give ear

The opening words of Moses are:  "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth" (Deut 32:1).
In what sense he invoked the heaven and the earth,  he tells us himself in Deut 31:28-29.  He foresaw in spirit the future apostasy of Israel,  and called heaven and earth,  which would outlive his earthly life,  that was now drawing to a close,  as witnesses of  what he had to say to his people,  with such a prospect before them.

Isaiah commences in the same way  (Isaiah 1:2),  simply transposing the two parallel verbs  "hear" and  "give ear:"  "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth.  For the Lord has spoken."
The reason for the appeal is couched in very general terms:

they were to hear,  because Jehovah was speaking.

What Jehovah said coincided essentially with the words of  Jehovah,  which are introduced in Deut 32:20 with the expression  "And He said."  What it was stated there that Jehovah would one day have to say in His wrath,  He now said through the prophet.  The time had now arrived for heaven and earth,  which had accompanied Israel's history thus far in all places and at all times,  to fulfill their duty as witnesses,  according to the word of the lawgiver.

And this was just the special,  true,  and ultimate sense in which they were called upon by the prophet,  as they had previously been by Moses,  to  "hear."  They had been present,  and had taken part,  when Jehovah gave the Torah  (the first 5 books of the Old Testament)  to His people:

the heavens,   according to Deut 4:36,  as the place from which the voice of God came forth;  and
the earth, as the scene of His great fire.

They were solemnly invoked when Jehovah gave His people the choice between blessing and cursing,  life and death  (Deut 30:19; 4:26).

Fifteen times in the New Testament we are instructed to "hear" what the Lord would say to us:

1. Matthew 11:15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
2. Matthew 13:43 He who has ears to hear, let him hear
3. Mark 4:9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
4. Mark 4:23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.
5. Mark 7:16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!
6. Luke 8:8 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
7. Luke 14:35 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
8. Revelations 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
9. Revelations 2:11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
10. Revelations 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches
11. Revelations 2:29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
12. Revelations 3:6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
13. Revelations 3:13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
14. Revelations 3:22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
15. Revelations 13:9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear.

I have reared children

And so now they are called upon to hear and join in bearing witness to all that Jehovah,  their Creator,  and the God of Israel,  had to say:  "I have brought up children,  and raised them high,  and they have fallen away from me."   Israel is referred to;  but Israel is not specially named.  On the contrary,  the historical facts are generalized almost into a parable,  in order that the appalling condition of  things which is crying to heaven may be made all the more apparent.  Israel was Jehovah's son  (Ex 4:22-23).  All the members of  the nation were His children  (Deut 14:1; 32:20).  Jehovah was Israel's father,  by whom it had been begotten (Deut 32:6,18).

The primary ground of Israel's origin was the supernatural and mighty word of promise given to Abraham,  in Genesis 17:15-16;  and it was by a series of  manifestations of  miraculous power and displays of divine grace,  that the development of Israel,  which dated from that starting-point,  was brought up to the position it had reached at the time of  the exodus from Egypt.  It was in this sense that Jehovah had begotten Israel.  And this relation between Jehovah and Israel,  as His children,  had now,  at the time when Jehovah was speaking through the mouth of Isaiah,  a long and gracious past behind it:

The period of Israel's childhood in Egypt;
The period of its youth in the desert
A period of growing manhood from Joshua to Samuel
So that Jehovah could say, "I have brought up children, and raised them high."

They have rebelled

Two things,  which ought never to be coupled -

Israel’s filial relation to Jehovah, and
Israel’s base rebellion against, Jehovah
had been realized in their most contradictory forms.

The radical meaning of the verb is  to break away, or  break loose.
The idea is that of  dissolving connection with a person with violence and self-will.
Here it relates to that inward severance from God,  and renunciation of  Him,  which preceded all outward acts of  sin,  and which not only had idolatry for its full and outward manifestation,  but also was truly idolatry in all its forms.  From the time that Solomon gave himself  up to the worship of idols,  at the close of his reign, down to the days of Isaiah,  idolatry had never entirely or permanently ceased to exist,  even in public.

In two different reformations the attempt had been made to suppress the rebellion against God:

In the one commenced by Asa and concluded by Jehoshaphat
This was not successful in suppressing it altogether
In the one carried out by Joash, during the lifetime of the high priest Jehoiada
What Joash removed, returned with double abominations as soon as Jehoiada was dead.
Consequently the words,  "They have rebelled against me,"  which sum up all the ingratitude of Israel in one word,  and trace it to its root,  apply to the whole history of  Israel,  from its culminating point under David and Solomon,  down to the prophet's own time.

Isaiah 1:3
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(3)  An ox knows its owner,
An ass its master’s crib:
Israel does not know, Israel does not know Me
My people takes no thought.” Have not regarded Me

From the NKJV

(3)  The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's crib;
But Israel does not know, my people do not consider."

Jehovah then complains that the rebellion with which His children have rewarded Him is not only inhuman,  but even worse than that of the brutes:  "An ox knows its owner,  and an ass its master's crib:  Israel does not know,  my people doth not consider.

" An ox has a certain knowledge of its buyer and owner,  to whom it willingly submits;
and an ass has at least a knowledge of the crib of its master  (the noun for  "master"  is in the plural:  this is not to be understood in a numerical,  but in an amplifying sense,  "the authority over it,"  as in Ex 21:29  (If ... the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death.     NIV)

The expressions  "doth not know"  and  "doth not consider"  must not be taken here in an objectless sense - as signifying they were destitute of  all knowledge and reflection;  but they knew not,  and did not consider what answered in their case to the owner and to the crib which the master fills -  namely,  that

they were the children and possession of  Jehovah,
and that
their existence and prosperity were dependent upon the grace of  Jehovah alone.

The parallel,  with its striking contrasts,  is self-drawn,  like that in Jeremiah 8:7,  where animals are referred to again,  and is clearly indicated in the words  "Israel"  and  "my people."

Jeremiah 8:7
Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons,  and the dove,  the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration.  But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD.     (NIV)

Those who were so far surpassed in knowledge and perception even by animals,  and so thoroughly put to shame by them,  were not merely a nation,  like any other nation on the earth,  but were

"Israel" Descendants of Jacob,  the wrestler with God,  who wrestled down the wrath of God,  and wrestled out a blessing for himself and his descendants
"My people" The nation which Jehovah had chosen out of  all other nations to be the nation of  His possession, and His own peculiar government.

This nation,  bearing as it did the God-given title of a hero of  faith and prayer,  this favorite nation of Jehovah,  had let itself down far below the level of the brutes beasts.

This is the complaint that the exalted speaker pours out in verses. 2 and 3 before heaven and earth.
The words of God,  together with the introduction,  consist of:

the measure and the meaning of the words and
the emotion of the speaker
There is nothing strained in it at all.

Prophecy lives and moves amidst the thoughts of God,  which prevail above the evil reality:  and for that very reason,  as a reflection of the glory of God,  which is the ideal of beauty (Ps 50:1  -  The Mighty One, God, the LORD,  speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.     NIV),   it is through and through poetical.
That of Isaiah is especially so.  There was no art of oratory practiced in Israel,  which Isaiah did not master,  and which did not serve as the vehicle of  the word of God, after it had taken shape in the prophet's mind.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Isaiah 1:4
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(4)  Ah, sinful nation!
People laden with iniquity!
Brood of evildoers!
Depraved children!
They have forsaken the Lord,
Spurned the Holy One of Israel,
Turned their backs [on Him]. Provoked to wrath the Holy One of Israel

From the NKJV

(4)  Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters!
They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward.

With verse 4 there commences a totally different rhythm.

The words of  Jehovah are ended.
The piercing lamentation of  the deeply grieved Father is also the severest accusation.
The cause of God, however,  is to the prophet the cause of a friend,  who feels an injury done to his friend quite as much as if  it were done to himself  (Isaiah 5:1).

The lamentation of God,  therefore,  is changed now into violent scolding and threatening on the part of the prophet;  and in accordance with the deep wrathful pain with which he is moved,  his words pour out with violent rapidity,  like flash after flash,  in climactic clauses having no outward connection,  and each consisting of only two or three words.

"Woe upon the sinful nation,  the guilt-laden people,  the miscreant race,  the children acting corruptly!  They have forsaken Jehovah,  blasphemed Israel's Holy One,  turned away backwards."
The distinction sometimes drawn between  hoi (with He)  and  oi (with Aleph) - as equivalent to  oh! and woe! -cannot be sustained.  Hoi is an exclamation of  pain,  with certain doubtful exceptions;  and in the case before us it is not so much a denunciation of  woe  (vae genti, as the Vulgate renders it),  as a lamentation  (vae gentem)  filled with wrath.  The epithets which follow point indirectly to that which Israel ought to have been,  according to the choice and determination of  God,  and plainly declare what it had become through its own choice and ungodly  self-determination:

(1) According to the choice and determination of God, Israel was to be a holy nation
(goi kadosh,  holy nation)
Exodus 19:6 - You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.   (NIV)
But it was a sinful nation is not a participle here, but rather a participial adjective in the sense of what was habitual.
(2) In the torah Israel was called not only  "a holy nation,"  but also  "the people of Jehovah"
Leviticus 26:12 -   I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. (NIV)
But now it had become  "a people heavy with iniquity."
Instead of  the most natural expression,  a people bearing heavy sins;  the sin,  or iniquity -  the weight carried - is attributed to the people themselves upon whom the weight rested,  according to the common figurative idea,  that whoever carries a heavy burden is so much heavier himself.
(3) Israel bore elsewhere the honorable title of  the seed of the patriarch
Isaiah 41:8 - But you,  O Israel, my servant,  Jacob,  whom I have chosen,  you descendants of  Abraham my friend.      (NIV)
But in reality it was a seed of evil-doers (miscreants).
This does not mean that it was descended from evildoers;  but the genitive is used in the sense of  a direct apposition to zera (seed),  and the meaning is a seed that consists of evildoers,  and therefore is apparently descended from evildoers instead of  from patriarchs.
This last thought is not implied in the genitive,  but in the idea of  "seed;"  which is always a compact unit,  having one origin,  and bearing the character of  its origin in it.
The rendering brood of  evil-doers,  however it may accord with the sense,  would be inaccurate;  for  "seed of evil-doers"  is just the same as  "house of evil-doers" in Isaiah 31:2 (He will rise up against the house of the wicked,  against those who help evildoers.  NIV)
(4) Those who were of  Israel were  "children of Jehovah"  through the act of God
Deuteronomy 14:1 - You are the children of the LORD your God.     (NIV)
But in their own acts they were  "children acting destructively"  (bânim mashchithim),  so that what the torah feared and predicted had now occurred.
(Deut 4:15,16 - Therefore watch yourselves very carefully,  so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape.)
(Deut 32:5 - They have acted corruptly toward him;  to their shame they are no longer his children,  but a warped and crooked generation.)
Both of them conjugations which contain within themselves the object of  the action indicated:   to do what is destructive,  so to act as to become destructive to one's self and to others.
It is evident from verse 2b,  that the term  children  is to be understood as indicating their relation to Jehovah.
(Isaiah 30:1 - Woe to the obstinate children)
(Isaiah 30:9 - These are rebellious people, deceitful children,  children unwilling to listen to the LORD's instruction.)

The four interjectional clauses are followed by three declaratory clauses,  which describe Israel's apostasy as total in every respect,  and complete the mournful seven.   There was:

(1) Apostasy in heart: "They have forsaken Jehovah"
(2) Apostasy in words "They blaspheme the Holy One of Israel"
(3) Apostasy in action "They turned their backs on Him"

It is with intention that God is designated here as  "the Holy One of Israel,"  -  a name which constitutes the keynote of  all Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 6:3).

It was sin to mock at anything holy
It was a double sin to mock at God, the Holy One
It was a threefold sin for Israel to mock at God the Holy One,
who had set Himself to be the sanctifier of Israel,  and required that as He was Israel's sanctification,  He should also be sanctified by Israel according to His holiness
(Lev 19:2 - Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: 'Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy    NIV).

Isaiah 1:5
From the Tanakh
(5)  Why do you seek further beatings,
That you continue to offend?
Every head is ailing,
And every heart is sick.

From the NKJV

(5)  Why should you be stricken again?
You will revolt more and more.  The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints.

The NIV translates:  Why do you persist in rebellion?

There is a dispute whether the next words should be rendered  "every head"  and  "every heart,"  or  "the whole head"  and  "the whole heart."

Render it:  "Every head is diseased,  and every heart is sick."

The prophet asks his fellow-countrymen why they are so foolish as to heap apostasy upon apostasy,  and so continue to call down the judgments of God,  which have already fallen upon them blow after blow.
Has it reached such a height with them,  that among all the many heads and hearts there is

not one head that is not in a diseased state
not one heart that is not thoroughly ill?

Head and heart are mentioned as the noblest parts of the outer and inner man.
Outwardly and inwardly every individual in the nation had already been smitten by the wrath of God,  so that they had had enough,  and might have been brought to reflection.

I want to bring to your attention the passage found in the Targum that states:  “the lowest  (literally,  The remnant)  of  the people even to the heads thereof.”   So from the man on the street to the rulers…”

Isaiah 1:6
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(6)  From head to foot
No spot is sound:
All bruises, and welts,
And festering sores- nor festering ulcer are healed
Not pressed out, not bound up, it is not possible to apply a plaister
Not softened with oil. Nor bandages

From the NKJV

(6)  From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores;  they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment.

This description of  the total misery of every individual in the nation is followed by a representation of the whole nation as one miserably diseased body. V

Verse 6:   "From the some of the foot even to the head there is nothing sound in it: cuts, and stripes, and festering wounds; they have not been pressed out, nor bound up, nor has there been any soothing with oil."

The body of the nation,  to which the expression  "in it"  applies  (i.e., the nation as a whole),  was covered with wounds of  different kinds;  and no means whatever had been applied to heal these many,  various wounds,  which lay all together,  close to one another,  and one upon the other,  covering the whole body.

Cuts  (from paatsa` (OT:6482)  to cut)  are wounds that have cut into the flesh - sword-cuts,  for example.
These need binding up,  in order that the gaping wound may close again.

Stripes  (chabburâh,  from châbar,  to stripe),  swollen stripes,  as if from a cut with a whip,  or a blow with a fist:  these require softening with oil,  which the coagulated blood of  swelling may disperse.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

The surgical treatment so needed by the nation was a figurative representation of  the pastoral addresses of  the prophets,  which had been delivered indeed,  but,  inasmuch as their healing effects were dependent upon the penitential sorrow of the people,  might as well have never been delivered at all.

The people had despised the merciful, compassionate kindness of their God.
They had no liking for the radical cure that the prophets had offered to effect.
All the more pitiable,  therefore,  was the condition of  the body,  which was sick within,  and diseased from head to foot.  The prophet is speaking here of  the existing state of things.
He affirms that it is all over with the nation;  and this is the ground and object of  his reproachful lamentations.
Consequently,  when he passes in the next verse from figurative language to literal,  we may presume that he is still speaking of  his own times.  It is Isaiah's custom to act in this manner as his own expositor.
The body thus inwardly and outwardly diseased was,  strictly speaking,  the people and the land in their fearful condition at that time.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

I found something interesting in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which you might enjoy.

1 “[And God spoke] to Moses in the year [forty] of  the departure of the children of  Israel from [the land of] Egypt,  in the eleventh month,  2 the first day of the month, saying: [Muster] all the congregation, climb [Mount Nebo] and stay there, you 3 and Eleazar, Aaron’s son. Blank Interpret [for the heads of] families of the Levites and for all the [priests] and decree to the sons of 4 Israel the words of the Law which I commanded [you] on Mount Sinai to decree to them. [Proclaim] in there ears everything 5 accurately, for [I will require] it from them. [Take] the heavens and the [earth as witnesses] for they will not love 6 what I have commanded them, they and their so[ns, all the] days [they live upon the ea]rth. [However] I announce 7 that they will desert me and ch[oose the sins of the na]tions, their abominations and their disreputable acts [and will serve] 8 their gods, who for them will be a trap and a snare. They will [violate all the] holy [assemblies], the sabbath of the covenant, [the festivals] which today I command [to be kept. This is why] I will strike them with a great [blow] in the midst of the land for 10 the conquest of which they are going to cross the Jordan there. And when all the curses happen to them and strike them until they die and until 11 they are destroyed, then they will know that the truth has been carried out on them. Blank And Moses turned towards Eleazar, son of 12 [Aaron] and to Joshua [son of Nun, saying] to them: Speak [all the words of the Law, without leaving any out. Be silent.]”
(Section PARABIBLICAL LITERATURE. 8 Pseudo-Moses. Words of Moses. (Reference 1Q Words of Moses (1Q22 [1QDM]) on Page 276 - The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated by Florentino Garcia Martinez - Publisher William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids. Second Edition)

I call your attention to PESHARIM 3 Pesharim.  A Commentaries on  Isaiah Pg. 185
1. Isaiah 1:1 Vision of Isaiah, son of [Amos, concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the period of Uzziah] 2 and of Jotham, of Achaz and of [Hezekiah, kings of Judah. The interpretation of the word which] 3 Isaiah prophesied concerning […] 4 to […] king of Ju[dah Isaiah 1:2 Listen, heavens; pay attention, earth; for the Lord speaks.] 5 […] Blank [Its interpretation: that…] 6 [the] day of judgment […] 7 […]…[…].

John C. Trever,  luckily also a very good photographer,  was to examine the manuscripts.  He identified one of them as a copy of  Isaiah,  recognized it to be ancient and significant,  obtained from Mar Athanasius permission to photograph three of them  (1 Q Isa, 1 QpHab and 1 QS)  in their entirety,  with a view to publishing them on behalf of the American School of Oriental Research.

When I was in Israel in 1972,  I saw this scroll in the Museum of the Scroll.      Paul the Learner.

Isaiah 1:7
From the Tanakh
(7)  Your land is a waste, your cities burnt down;  before your eyes, the yield of your soil is consumed by strangers- a wasteland as overthrown by strangers!

From the NKJV

(7)  Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; strangers devour your land in your presence; and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

This is described more particularly in verse 7, which commences with the most general view, and returns to it again at the close.

Your land ... A desert
Your cities ... Burned with fire
Your field ... Foreigners consuming it before your eyes

Caspari has pointed out,  in his Introduction to the Book of  Isaiah (p. 204),  how nearly every word corresponds to the curses threatened in  Lev 26 and Deut 28  stand in the very same relation to these sections of the Pentateuch.

From the time of  Isaiah downwards,  the state of  Israel was a perfect realization of  the curses of the law.  The prophet intentionally employs the words of  the law to describe his own times;  he designates the enemy,  who devastated the land,  reduced its towers to ashes,  and took possession of its crops,  by the simple term zarim  (foreigners  or  barbarians) -  a word which would have the very same meaning if  it were really the reduplication of the Aramaeans bar;  compare the Syriac barôye,  a foreigner -  without mentioning their particular nationality.

Mahpechâh  (overthrow)  is used in other places in which it occurs to denote the destruction of  Sodom,  Gomorrah, etc.,  and Isaiah had evidently also this catastrophe in his mind,  as verse 8 clearly shows.   The desolation,  which had fallen upon the land of  the people of  God,  resembled that thorough desolation with which God visited the nations outside the covenant,  who,  like the people of the Pentapolis,  were swept from off  the earth without leaving a trace behind.

Zion itself is represented as a daughter, i.e., as a woman.
The expression applied primarily to the community dwelling around the fortress of  Zion,  to which the individual inhabitants stood in the same relation as children to a mother,  inasmuch as the community sees its members for the time being come into existence and grow:  they are born within her,  and,  as it were,  born and brought up by her.  It was then applied secondarily to the city itself,  with or without the inhabitants (Jer 46:19; 48:18).

Jeremiah 46:19
O you daughter dwelling in Egypt,
Prepare yourself to go into captivity!
For Noph shall be waste and desolate, without inhabitant.

Jeremiah 48:18
O daughter inhabiting Dibon,
Come down from your glory,
And sit in thirst;
For the plunderer of Moab has come against you,
He has destroyed your strongholds.

In this instance the latter are included, as verse 9 clearly shows.
This is precisely the point in the first two comparisons.

Isaiah 1:8
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(8)  Fair Zion is left The daughter of Sion Congregation of Zion
Like a booth in a vineyard,    
Like a hut in a cucumber field, As a storehouse of fruits  
Like a city beleaguered.    

From the NKJV

(8)  So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, as a hut in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

As a cottage (booth made of reeds)  
As a hut (or storehouse)  in a cucumber field.
Like a city besieged (beleaguered)  

The point of comparison therefore is

in the vineyard and cucumber field not a human being is to be seen in any direction
there is nothing but the cottage to show that there are any human beings there at all

So did Jerusalem stand in the midst of desolation,  reaching far and wide - a sign,  however,  that the land was not entirely depopulated.
But what is the meaning of the third point of comparison?

It may therefore denote the reconnoitering of a city.
Jerusalem was not actually blockaded at the time when the prophet uttered his predictions;  but it was like a blockaded city.
In the case of such a city there is a desolate space,  completely cleared of human beings,  left between it and the blockading army,  in the center of which the city itself stands solitary and still,  shut up to itself.

The citizens do not venture out
The enemy does not come within the circle that immediately surrounds the city, for fear of the shots of the citizens
Everything within this circle is destroyed, either by the citizens themselves, to prevent the enemy from finding anything useful, or else by the enemy, who cut down the trees

Thus, with all the joy that might be felt at the preservation of  Jerusalem,  it presented but a gloomy appearance.
It was,  as it were,  in a state of siege.
A proof that this is the way in which the passage is to be explained,  may be found in Jer 4:16-17,  where the actual storming of Jerusalem is foretold,  and the enemy is called  nozerim,  probably with reference to the simile before us.

Jeremiah 4:16-17
Make mention to the nations,
Yes, proclaim against Jerusalem,
That watchers come from a far country
And raise their voice against the cities of Judah.
Like keepers of a field they are against her all around,
Because she has been rebellious against Me," says the LORD.

Isaiah 1:9
From the Tanakh
(9)  Had not the Lord of Hosts
Left us some survivors,
We should be like Sodom,
Another Gomorrah.

From the NKJV

(9)  Unless the LORD of hosts had left to us a very small remnant, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been made like Gomorrah.

For the present,  however,  Jerusalem was saved from this extremity.
The omnipotence of God had mercifully preserved it:  "Unless Jehovah of  hosts had left us a little of what had escaped, we had become like Sodom, we were like Gomorrah." Cf., Rom 9:29,  was used,  even in the early Mosaic usage of the language,  to signify that which escaped the general destruction  (Deut 2:34, etc.);  and  (which might very well be connected with the verbs which follow:  "we were very nearly within a little like Sodom")  is to be taken in connection with  "a remnant which was but a mere trifle."

Yahweh  (Jehovah)  Zebaoth stands first,  for the sake of emphasis.
It would have been all over with Israel long ago,  if  it had not been for the compassion of God (Hosea 11:8).
And because it was the omnipotence of  God,  which set the will of  His compassion in motion,  He is called Jehovah Zebaoth,  Jehovah (the God) of  the heavenly hosts.
The prophet says "us" and "we."  He himself was an inhabitant of Jerusalem;  and even if he had not been so,  he was nevertheless an Israelite.

He therefore associates himself with his people,  like Jeremiah in Lam 3:22.

Lamentations 3:22
Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.

He had had to experience the anger of  God along with the rest;  and so,  on the other hand,  he also celebrates the mighty compassion of God,  which he had experienced in common with them.
If it were not for this compassion, the people of God would have become like

Sodom from which only four human beings escaped
Gomorrah which was absolutely annihilated

Isaiah 1:10-11
From the Tanakh From the Targum
(10)  Hear the word of the Lord,
You chieftains of Sodom;
whose deeds are evil like those of the rulers
Give ear to our God’s instruction, O people, whose deeds resemble those of the people
You folk of Gomorrah!
(11)  “What need have I of all your sacrifices?”
Says the Lord.
“I am sated with burnt offerings of rams,
And suet of fatlings,
And blood of bulls;
And I have no delight
In lambs and he-goats.

From the NKJV

(10)  Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah:
(11)  "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?"  Says the LORD.
"I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats.

The prophet's address has here reached a resting-place.  The fact that it is divided at this point into two separate sections is indicated in the text by the space left between vv. 9 and 10.  This mode of marking larger or smaller sections,  either by leaving spaces or by breaking off the line,  is older than the vowel points and accents,  or rests upon a tradition of  the highest antiquity (Hupfeld, Gram. p. 86 ff.).
The space is called pizka
The section indicated by such a space, a closed parashah (sethumah)
And the section indicated by breaking off  the line,  an open parashah (pethuchah).

The prophet stops as soon as he has affirmed that nothing but the mercy of  God has warded off  from Israel the utter destruction that it so well deserved.
He catches in spirit the remonstrances of  his hearers.
They would probably declare that the accusations, which the prophet had brought against them, were utterly groundless, and appeal to their scrupulous observance of the law of God.
In reply to this self-vindication that he reads in the hearts of the accused,  the prophet launches forth the accusations of God.

He commences thus:

Hear the word of Jehovah ye Sodom judges
give ear to the law of our God O Gomorrah nation!
The second start in the prophet's address commences, like the first, with "hear" and "give ear."

It was through the mercy of  God that Jerusalem was in existence still,  for Jerusalem was  "spiritually Sodom,"  as the Revelation (Rev 11:8) distinctly affirms of  Jerusalem,  with evident allusion to this passage of Isaiah.

Revelation 11:8
And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

Pride,  lust of the flesh,  and unmerciful conduct,  were the leading sins of Sodom,  according to Ezek 16:49; and of these, the rulers of Jerusalem, and the crowd that was subject to them and worthy of them, were equally guilty now.

Ezekiel 16:49-50
Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom:  She and her daughter had pride,  fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

But they fancied that they could not possibly stand in such evil repute with God,  inasmuch as they rendered outward satisfaction to the law.

The prophet therefore called upon them to hear the law of the God of  Israel,  which he would announce to them:  for:

The prophet was the Appointed Interpreter of the Law
Prophecy was the Spirit of the Law

And the prophetic institution was the constant living presence of  the true essence of the law bearing its own witness in Israel.   "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith Jehovah."

Isaiah 1:12
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(12)  That you come to appear before Me- neither shall ye come with these
Who asked that of you? For who has required these things at your hands?
Trample My courts.  

From the NKJV

(12)  "When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts?

Jeremiah says this with regard to the sacrifices (Jer. 7:22); Isaiah also applies it to visits to the temple:  "When ye come to appear before my face, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?"

Jeremiah 7:22-24
For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.  But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.'  Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.

This is the standing expression for the appearance of all male Israelites in the temple at the three high festivals,  as prescribed by the law,  and then for visits to the temple generally (cf., Ps 42:3; 84:8).

Exodus 23:15-17
You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty);   and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.
Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.

"My face"  (in Ex 23:15; 34:20) - for the purpose of avoiding an expression which might be so easily misunderstood as denoting a sight of God with the bodily eye.  They visited the temple diligently enough indeed,  but who had required this at their hand, i.e., required them to do this?
Jehovah certainly had not.  "To tread my courts"  is in apposition to this,  which it more clearly defines. Jehovah did not want them to appear before His face, i.e., He did not wish for this spiritless and undevotional tramping there, this,  which might as well have been omitted,  since it only wore out the floor.  

Isaiah 1:13
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(13)  No more; Though ye bring fine flour, it is vain Obtained by violence
Bringing oblations is futile,
Incense is offensive to Me.
New moon and Sabbath, the great day Ye do not forsake your transgressions so that I may receive it
Proclaiming of solemnities,
I cannot abide.

From the NKJV

(13)  Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies — I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
1. Because they had not performed what Jehovah commanded as He commanded it -
He expressly forbids them to continue it.
"Continue not to bring lying meat-offering; abomination incense is it to me."

Minchah (the meat-offering) was the vegetable offering
Zebach (the animal sacrifice)  

The  zebach is called a "lying meat-offering,"  as being a hypocritical dead work,  behind which there was none of  the feeling that it appeared to express.

In the second clause the Septuagint, Vulgate, Gesenius, and others adopt the rendering "incense-an abomination is it to me."
Ketoreth being taken as the name of the daily burning of incense upon the golden altar in the holy place (Ex 30:8). But neither in Ps 141:2, where prayer is offered by one who is not a priest, nor in the passage before us, where the reference is not to the priesthood, but to the people and to their deeds, is this continual incense to be thought of. The meat offering is called  "incense"  (ketoreth) with reference to the so-called azcarah, i.e., that portion which the priest burned upon the altar, to bring the grateful offerer into remembrance before God  (called "burning the memorial,"  hiktir azcârâh, in Lev 2:2).  As a general rule,  this was accompanied with incense (Isaiah 66:3),  the whole of which was placed upon the altar,  and not merely a small portion of it.

The meat offering,  with its sweet-smelling savor, was merely

  the form which served as an outward expression of the thanksgiving for God's blessing
or the longing or His blessing, which really ascended in prayer

But in their case the form had no such meaning.
It was nothing but the form, with which they thought they had satisfied God; and therefore it was an abomination to Him.

2. God was just as little pleased with their punctilious observance of the feasts:
"New-moon and Sabbath, calling of festal meetings...I cannot bear ungodliness and a festal crowd."

The first objective notions,  which are logically governed by  "I cannot bear" 
(lo'-'uwkal: literally, a future - and -  hophal - I am unable, incapable, viz., to bear, which may be supplied, according to Ps 101:5; Jer 44:22).

Psalm 101:5
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor,
Him I will destroy;
The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart,
Him I will not endure.

Jeremiah 44:22
So the LORD could no longer bear it, because of the evil of your doings and because of the abominations which you committed.

The prophet intentionally joins these two nouns together.
A densely crowded festal meeting,  combined with inward emptiness and barrenness on the part of those who were assembled together,  was a contradiction that God could not endure.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Isaiah 1:14
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(14)  Your new moons and fixed seasons Your fasting, and rest from work  
Fill Me with loathing   my Memra abhorred
I cannot endure them. I will no more pardon your sins an abomination before me: I have multiplied forgiveness

From the NKJV

(14)  Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.

He gives a still stronger expression to His repugnance:  "Your new-moons and your festive seasons my soul hateth;  they have become a burden to me;  I am weary of bearing them."
As the soul (nephesh) of a man,  regarded as the band which unites together bodily and spiritual life,  though it is not the actual principle of self-consciousness,  is yet the place in which he draws,  as it were,  the circle of self-consciousness,  so as to comprehend the whole essence of  His being in the single thought of  "I;"  so,  according to a description taken from godlike man,  the "soul"  (nephesh) of God,  as the expression  "my soul"  indicates,  is the center of His being,  regarded as encircled and pervaded (personated) by self-consciousness;  and therefore,  whatever the soul of  God hates (vid., Jer 15:1)  or loves (Isaiah 42:1),  is hated or loved in the inmost depths and to the utmost bounds of His being.

Thus He hated each and all of  the festivals that were kept in Jerusalem,  whether the beginnings of the month,  or the high feast-days (moadim,  in which, according to Lev 23, the Sabbath was also included) observed in the course of the month.  For a long time past they had become a burden and annoyance to Him:  His long-suffering was weary of such worship.

"To bear”  has for its object the seasons of worship already mentioned.

Isaiah 1:15
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(15)  And when you lift up your hands,   And when the priests spread forth their hands to pray for you
I will turn My eyes away from you;   I will remove the presence of my Shekinah from you
Though you pray at length,    
I will not listen.   There shall be no pleasure before me in receiving your prayers
Your hands are stained with crime- your hands are full of blood Of innocent blood

From the NKJV

(15)  When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.

Their self-righteousness,  so far as it rested upon sacrifices and festal observances,  was now put to shame,  and the last inward bulwark of  the sham holy nation was destroyed:  "And if ye stretch out your hands,  I hide my eyes from you;  if ye make ever so much praying,  I do not hear:  your hands are full of blood."

Their praying was also an abomination to God.
Prayer is something common to man:  it is the interpreter of religious feeling,  which intervenes and mediates between God and man.

This portion was concerning Israel during the reign of Jotham.

1. The eleventh king of Judah,  and son of King Uzziah by Jerushah,  daughter of  Zadok.
2. After his father was struck with leprosy Jotham conducted the government for him until his death
(about thirteen years).
2 Kings 15:5; 32-33
(5) Then the LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death; so he dwelt in an isolated house. And Jotham the king's son was over the royal house, judging the people of the land.
3. When he ascended the throne,  being then twenty-five years of age, about 740 BC.
2 Kings 15:32-33
In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, began to reign.   He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jerusha the daughter of Zadok.
2 Chronicles 27:1
Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jerushah the daughter of Zadok.
4. Jotham reigned in the spirit and power of  his father and avoided any assumption of  the priestly function that proved so disastrous to his father.
5. He was unable, however, to correct all of the corrupt practices of the people.
2 Chronicles 27:2
And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah had done  (although he did not enter the temple of the LORD).  But still the people acted corruptly.
(from The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)

The law contains no command to pray,  and,  with the exception of  Deut 26,  no form of prayer.
Praying is so natural to man as man,  that there was no necessity for any precept to enforce this,  the fundamental expression of  the true relation to God.
The prophet therefore comes to prayer last of all,  so as to trace back their sham-holiness,  which was corrupt even to this,  the last foundation,  to its real nothingness.

The terrible damim stands very emphatically before the governing verb,  pointing to many murderous acts that had been committed,  and deeds of violence akin to murder.  Not,  indeed,  that we are to understand the words as meaning that there was really blood upon their hands when they stretched them out in prayer;  but before God,  from whom no outward show can hide the true nature of things,  however clean they might have washed themselves,  they still dripped with blood.

The expostulations of the people against the divine accusations have thus been negatively set forth and met in vv. 11-15:

Jehovah could not endure their work-righteous worship,
which was thus defiled with unrighteous works,
even to murder itself.

The divine accusation is now positively established in vv. 16, 17,  by the contrast drawn between the true righteousness of  which the accused were destitute,  and the false righteousness of which they boasted.

The crushing charge is here changed into an admonitory appeal;  and the love which is hidden behind the wrath,  and would gladly break through,  already begins to disclose itself.
There are eight admonitions. The first three point to the removal of evil; the other five to the performance of what is good.

Isaiah 1:16
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(16)  Wash yourselves clean; remove your iniquities from your souls Return to the law
Put your evil doings   From before my Memra
Away from My sight.    
Cease to do evil;    

From the NKJV

(16)  "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;  put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,

The first three admonitions:

1. Wash, clean yourselves
Requires, primarily and above all, purification from the sins committed, by means of forgiveness sought for and obtained.
Wash:  rachatzu,  from râchatz,  in the frequent middle sense of washing one's self.
Referring to the one great act of repentance on the part of a man who is turning to God, the latter to the daily repentance of one who has so turned.
Clean yourselves:
The daily repentance of one who has so turned.
2. Put away the badness of your doings from the range of my eyes
The second admonition requires them to place themselves in the light of the divine countenance,  and put away the evil of their doings,  which was intolerable to pure eyes (Hab 1:13).
Habakkuk 1:13
You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,
And cannot look on wickedness.
3. Cease to do evil
They were to wrestle against the wickedness to which their actual sin had grown, until at length it entirely disappeared.

Isaiah 1:17
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(17)  Devote yourselves to justice; diligently seek judgment  
Aid the wronged.   right (or, declare innocent) him that is oppressed
Uphold the rights of the orphan;    
Defend the cause of the widow.   Carry out the prayer of the widow.

From the NKJV

(17)  Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor;  defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.

The five admonitions relating to the practice of what is good:

1. Learn to do good
This admonition lays the foundation for the rest.
They were to learn to do good - a difficult art,  in which a man does not become proficient merely by good intentions.
"Learn to do good:”
The division of this primary admonition into four minor ones relating to the administration of  justice may be explained from the circumstance that no other prophet directs so keen an eye upon the state and its judicial proceedings as Isaiah has done.  He differs in this respect from his younger contemporary Micah,  whose prophecies are generally more ethical in their nature, while those of Isaiah have a political character throughout.
2. Attend to judgment
Attend to - dârash, to devote one's self to a thing with zeal and assiduity
"Give diligent attention to judgment"
3. Set the oppressor right
"Bring the oppressor to the right way."
It means to direct him to the way of justice, to keep him in bounds by severe punishment and discipline.
Psalm 72:4
He will bring justice to the poor of the people;
He will save the children of the needy,
And will break in pieces the oppressor.
4. Do justice to the orphan
5. Conduct the cause of the widow
Widows and orphans, as well as foreigners, were the protégés of God and His law,  standing under His especial guardianship and care.
Exodus 22:21-24
You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child.  If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry;  and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

Thus all the grounds of self-defense,  which existed in the hearts of the accused,  are both negatively and positively overthrown.  They are thundered down and put to shame.  The law (torah),  announced in verse 10,  has been preached to them.  The prophet has cast away the husks of their dead works,  and brought out the moral kernel of the law in its universal application.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Isaiah 1:18
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(18)  “Come, let us reach an understanding, come, let us reason together Then, when ye return to the law, ye shall entreat from before me, and I will carry out your entreaty
Says the Lord.    
Be your sins like crimson purple Your transgressions are stained like dyed garments
They can turn snow-white;
Be they red as dyed wool,
They can become like fleece.” White as wool Pure wool

From the NKJV

(18)  "Come now, and let us reason together,"  Says the LORD,
"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

The first leading division of  the address is brought to a close, and v. 18 contains the turning point between the two parts into which it is divided.
Until now,  Jehovah has spoken to His people in wrath.
But His love began to move even in the admonitions in vv. 16, 17.
And now this love,  which did not desire Israel's destruction,  but desired Israel's inward and outward salvation,  breaks fully through.  "O come, and let us reason together, says Jehovah.  If your sins come forth like scarlet cloth,  they shall become white as snow;  if they are red as crimson,  they shall come forth like wool!"

Jehovah here challenges Israel to a formal trial:
In such a trial Israel must lose,  for Israel's self-righteousness rests upon sham righteousness;  and this sham righteousness,  when rightly examined,  is but unrighteousness dripping with blood.

It is taken for granted that this must be the result of the investigation.  Israel is therefore worthy of death.
Yet Jehovah will not treat Israel according to His retributive justice,  but according to His free compassion.
He will remit the punishment,  and not only regard the sin as not existing,  but change it into its very opposite.
The reddest possible sin shall become,  through His mercy,  the purest white.

The representation of  the work of  grace promised by God as a change from red to white,  is founded upon the symbolism of colors,  quite as much as when the saints in the Revelation (Rev 19:8) are described as clothed in white raiment.

Revelations 19:6-8
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!  Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."  And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

This was a fast, or fixed color.
Neither dew,  nor rain,  nor washing,  nor long usage,  would remove it.
Hence,  it is used to represent the fixedness and permanency of sins in the heart.

No human means will wash them out.
No effort of man, no external rites, no tears, no sacrifices, no prayers, are of themselves sufficient to take them away.
They are deep fixed in the heart, as the scarlet color was in the Web of cloth, and an almighty power is needful to remove them.

This was the color of

Jesus Christ's robe when bearing our sins (Matt 27:28)
And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him.
Rahab's thread (Josh 2:18)
...when we come into the land,  you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down ... So it shall be that whoever ... is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him.
The "scarlet" used in cleansing the leper (Lev 14:3, 4)
This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest ... the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop.

The Rabbins say that when the lot used to be taken,  a scarlet fillet was bound on the scapegoat's head,  and after the high priest had confessed his and the people's sins over it,  the fillet became white -

The miracle ceased,  according to them,  40 years before the destruction of Jerusalem - exactly when Jesus Christ was crucified.

The Hebrew [shaaniym (OT:8141, from shaanah, to repeat twice] for "scarlet" radically means double-dyed: so the deep-fixed permanency of sin in the heart, which no mere tears can wash away.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Red is the color of fire,  and therefore of life:  the blood is red because life is a fiery process.
For this reason the heifer,  from which the ashes of purification were obtained for those who had been defiled through contact with the dead,  was to be red;  and the sprinkling-brush,  with which the unclean were sprinkled,  was to be tied round with a band of scarlet wool.
Sin is called red, inasmuch as it is a burning heat that consumes a man,  and when it breaks forth consumes his fellow man as well.

White ... Wool
The righteousness,  white as snow and wool,  with which Israel comes forth,  is a gift conferred upon it out of  pure compassion,  without being conditional upon any legal performance whatever.

Restored to its original undyed whiteness.
This verse shows that the old fathers did not 'look only for transitory promises' (Article vii., 'Book of Common Prayer').  For sins of ignorance,  and such like,  alone had trespass offerings appointed for them;  greater guilt,  therefore,  needed a greater sacrifice,  for  "without shedding of blood there was no remission;"  but none such was appointed,  and yet forgiveness was promised and expected;  therefore spiritual Jews must have looked for the One Mediator of  both the Old Testament and the New Testament, though dimly understood.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

1 Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men,  the Man Christ Jesus,  who gave Himself a ransom for all.      (NKJV)

Isaiah 1:19-20
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(19)  If, then, you agree and give heed,   and obey my Memra
You will eat the good things of the earth;    
(20)  But if you refuse and disobey,   and obey not my Memra
You will be devoured [by] the sword.   be slain by the sword of the enemy
For it was the Lord who spoke.   For by the Memra of the Lord is it so decreed.

From the NKJV

(19)  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;
(20)  But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword";  for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

But after the restoration of  Israel in interim by this act of grace,  the rest would unquestionably depend upon the conduct of Israel itself.  According to Israel's own decision would Jehovah determine Israel's future.  "If ye then shall willingly hear,  ye shall eat the good of the land;  if ye shall obstinately rebel,  ye shall be eaten by the sword:  for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it."

After their justification,  both blessing and cursing lay once more before the justified,  as they had both been long before proclaimed by the law (compare v. 19 b with Deut 28:3 ff., Lev 26:3 ff., and v. 20 b with the threat of vengeance with the sword in Lev 26:25).

The promise of eating, i.e., of the full enjoyment of domestic blessings, and therefore of  settled,  peaceful rest at home,  is placed in contrast with the curse of  being eaten with the sword.

Chereb  (the sword)  is the accusative of  the instrument,  as in Ps 17:13-14;  but this adverbial construction without either genitive,  adjective,  or suffix,  as in Ex 30:20,  is very rarely met with (Ges. §138, Anm. 3);  and in the passage before us it is a bold construction which the prophet allows himself.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

In the conditional clauses the two futures are followed by two preterites (compare Lev 26:21, which is more in conformity with our western mode of expression),  inasmuch as obeying and rebelling are both of  them consequences of an act of will:

if ye shall be willing, and in consequence of this obey
if ye shall refuse, and rebel against Jehovah.

Will Israel tread the saving path of  forgiveness thus opened before it,  and go on to renewed obedience,  and will it be possible for it to be brought back by this path?
Individuals possibly may,  but not the whole.
The divine appeal therefore changes now into a mournful complaint.
So peaceful a solution as this of the discord between Jehovah and His children was not to be hoped for.
Jerusalem was far too depraved.

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken
This sets the seal on this book as a whole,  uniting all its parts.
It occurs in the

former” portion (Isa. 1:20)
“latter” portion (Isa. 40:5, and 58:14)


Previous Section

Isaiah 1:21
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(21)  Alas, she has become a harlot, How has the faithful city Sion, once full of judgment How are her deeds changed so as to become like those of a harlot
The faithful city    
That was filled with justice,   was full of workers of judgment!
Where righteousness dwelt-
But now murderers.
How are her deeds changed so as to become like those of a harlot.    

From the NKJV

(21)  How the faithful city has become a harlot!
It was full of justice;  righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers.

"How is she become a harlot, the faithful citadel! She, full of right, lodged in righteousness, and now-murderers."   It is the keynote of an poetic song of  mourning.

The kinoth  (Lamentations)  of  Jeremiah commence with it,  and receive their title from it;  whereas the shorter form is indicative of  scornful complaining,  and is characteristic of the mâshôl (e.g., Isaiah 14:4,12; Micah 2:4).
From this word,  which gives the keynote,  the rest all follows,  soft,  full,  monotonous, long drawn out and slow,  just in the style of an elegy.

This covenant was a marriage covenant.
And she had broken it,  and had thereby become a  zonâh  (harlot) - a prophetic view,  the germs of  which had already been given in the Pentateuch,  where the worship of  idols on the part of  Israel is called  whoring after them  (Deut 31:16; Ex 34:15-16; in all, seven times).

It was not,  however,  merely gross outward idolatry which made the church of God a  "harlot,"
but infidelity of  heart,  in whatever form it might express itself;
so that Jesus described the people of  His own time as an  "adulterous generation,"  notwithstanding the pharisaical strictness with which the worship of  Jehovah was then observed.  For,  as the verse before us indicates,  this marriage relation was founded upon right and righteousness in the broadest sense.

Jerusalem was once full of  such right;  and righteousness was not merely there in the form of  a hastily passing guest,  but had come down from above to take up her permanent abode in Jerusalem:  she tarried there day and night as if  it were her home.

The prophet had in his mind the times of  David and Solomon,
and also more especially the time of  Jehoshaphat
(about one hundred and fifty years before Isaiah's appearance),
who restored the administration of justice,  which had fallen into neglect since the closing years of  Solomon's reign,
and  the time of  Rehoboam and Abijah, to which Asa's reformation had not extended, and re-organized it entirely in the spirit of the law.
It is possible also that Jehoiada, the high priest in the time of  Joash,  may have revived the institutions of Jehoshaphat,  so far as they had fallen into disuse under his three godless successors;  but even in the second half of  the reign of  Joash,  the administration of  justice fell into the same disgraceful state,  at least as compared with the times of David,  Solomon,  and Jehoshaphat,  as that in which Isaiah found it. 

The glaring contrast between the present and the past is indicated by the expression "and now."
In this way the statement as to the past condition is sufficiently distinguished from that relating to the present.

Formerly righteousness,  now  "murderers" (merazzechim),  and indeed,  as distinguished from  rozechimmurderers by profession,  who formed a band,  like king Ahab and his son (2 Kings 6:32).
The contrast was as glaring as possible,  since murder is the direct opposite,  the most crying violation,  of righteousness.

Isaiah 1:22
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(22)  Your silver has turned to dross;  
Your wine is cut with water. merchants mix the wine with water

From the NKJV

(22)  Your silver has become dross, your wine mixed with water.

The complaint now turns from the city generally to the authorities.
First of all figuratively.
It is upon this passage that the figurative language of Jer 6:27 ff. and Ezek 22:18-22 is founded.

Jeremiah 6:27-30
"I have set you as an assayer and a fortress among My people,
That you may know and test their way.
They are all stubborn rebels, walking as slanderers.
They are bronze and iron,
They are all corrupters;
The bellows blow fiercely,
The lead is consumed by the fire;
The smelter refines in vain,
For the wicked are not drawn off.
People will call them rejected silver,
Because the LORD has rejected them."

Ezekiel 22:18-22
"Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from silver.  Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.  As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you.  Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst.  As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have poured out My fury on you.'"

A figurative representation of  the princes and lords, with special reference to the nobility of  character naturally associated with nobility of  birth and rank.

Silver - refined silver - is an image of all that is noble and pure,  light in all its purity being reflected by it.
The princes and lords had once possessed all the virtues which the Latin’s called the virtues of magnanimity,  affability,  impartiality,  and superiority to bribes.

This silver had now become l'sigim - dross, or base metal separated  (thrown off)  from silver in the process of refining refuse left in smelting, or dross: cf., Prov 25:4).

Proverbs 25:4-5
Take away the dross from silver,
And it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.
Take away the wicked from before the king,
And his throne will be established in righteousness.

A second figure compares the leading men of the older Jerusalem to good wine, such as drinkers like.
The word employed here  (sobe)  must have been used in this sense by the more cultivated classes in Isaiah's time (cf., Nah 1:10).

Nahum 1:10
For while tangled like thorns,
And while drunken like drunkards,
They shall be devoured like stubble fully dried.

This pure, strong, and costly wine was now adulterated with water (lit. castratum, according to Pliny's expression in the Natural History:  and therefore its strength and odor were weakened,  and its worth was diminished.)
The present was nothing but the dross and shadow of the past.

Isaiah 1:23
From the Tanakh From the Targum
(23)  Your rulers are rogues  Thy princes are rebellious
And cronies of thieves, companions of thieves, all of them love to receive a bribe; they say one to another
Every one avid for presents
And greedy for gifts;
Assist me in my suit, that I may repay thee in thy suit
They do not judge the case of the orphan,
And the widow’s cause never reaches them.

From the NKJV

(23)  Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves;  everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards.  They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them.

The prophet says this without a figure:

"Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards.  They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them."
In two words the prophet depicts the contemptible baseness of  the national rulers (sârim).
In Relation to God He describes first of all their baseness in relation to God,  with the alliterative sorerim:  rebellious,  refractory
In Relation to Men Then,  in relation to men,  companions of  thieves,  inasmuch as they allowed themselves to be bribed by presents of  stolen goods to acts of injustice towards those who had been robbed.

They not only willingly accepted such bribes,  and that not merely a few of them,  but every individual belonging to the rank of  princes (cullo, equivalent to haccol, the whole: every one loves gifts).
But they went eagerly in pursuit of  them (rodeph).

It was not peace (shalom) that they hunted after (Ps 34:16)
but shalmonim,  things that would pacify their avarice
Not what was good
but compensation for their partiality
This was the existing state of Jerusalem, and therefore it would hardly be likely to take the way of mercy opened before it in verse 18;  consequently Jehovah would avail himself of other means of setting it right.

Psalm 34:16
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

Isaiah 1:24
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(24)  Assuredly, this is the declaration Therefore thus saith the Lord the ruler of the world
Of the Sovereign, the Lord of Hosts,    
The Mighty One of Israel:   As for the city, Jerusalem, I am about to comfort her
“Ah, I will get satisfaction from My foes; Woe to the mighty men of Israel Woe to the wicked
I will wreak vengeance on My enemies!   Shall repay vengeance to the adversary

From the NKJV

(24)  Therefore the Lord says,  the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel,
"Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries, and take vengeance on My enemies.

"Therefore, saying of  the Lord, of  Jehovah of  hosts, of  the Strong One of  Israel:

Ah! I will relieve myself on mine adversaries, and will avenge myself upon mine enemies."
Salvation through judgment was the only means of  improvement and preservation left to the congregation,  which called itself  by the name of Jerusalem.  Jehovah would therefore afford satisfaction to His holiness,  and administer a judicial sifting to Jerusalem.

There is no other passage in Isaiah in which we meet with such a crowding together of  different names of  God as we do here (compare Isaiah 19:4; 3:1; 10:16,33; 3:15).
Jehovah would procure Himself relief  from His enemies by letting out upon them the wrath with which He had hitherto been burdened (Ezek 5:13).  He now calls the masses of  Jerusalem by their right name.

Ezekiel 5:13
Thus shall My anger be spent, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, and I will be avenged; and they shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it in My zeal, when I have spent My fury upon them.

Isaiah 1:25
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(25)  I will turn My hand against you,    
And smelt out your dross as with lye, and purge thee completely, and I will destroy the rebellious  
And remove all your slag: all transgressors As one cleanses with lye, remove all thy guilty ones

From the NKJV

(25  I will turn My hand against you, and thoroughly purge away your dross, and take away all your alloy.

Verse 25 states clearly in what the revenge consisted with which Jehovah was inwardly burdened:

I will turn my hand against you;  I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities.
As long as God leaves a person's actions or sufferings alone,  His hand,  i.e.,  His acting is at rest.
Bringing the hand over a person signifies a movement of  the hand, which has been hitherto at rest,  either for the purpose of  inflicting judicial punishment upon the person named (Amos 1:8; Jer 6:9; Ezek 38:12; Ps 81:15),  or else,  though this is seldom the case,  for the purpose of saving him (Zech 13:7).

The reference here is to the divine treatment of  Jerusalem,  in which punishment and salvation were combined -

Punishment as the means
Salvation as the end
The interposition of  Jehovah was,  as it were,  a smelting,  which would sweep away,  not indeed Jerusalem itself,  but the ungodly in Jerusalem.
They are compared to dross,  or  (as the verb seems to imply)  to ore mixed with dross,  and,  inasmuch as lead is thrown off  in the smelting of silver,  to such ingredients of  lead as Jehovah would speedily and thoroughly remove,  "like alkali," i.e., "as if with alkali"

Isaiah 1:26
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(26)  I will restore your magistrates as of old,
And your counselors as of yore.
After that you shall be called
City of Righteousness, Faithful City.” Mother-city Sion

From the NKJV

(26)  I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city."

As the threat couched in the previous figure does not point to the destruction,  but simply to the smelting of Jerusalem,  there is nothing strange in the fact that in verse 26 it should pass over into a pure promise;  the meltingly soft and yearningly mournful termination of  the clauses with ayich,  the keynote of  the later songs of  Zion,  being still continued.

"I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counselors as at the beginning.  Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City."

The threat itself  was a promise

inasmuch as whatever could stand the fire would survive the judgment
And the distinct object of  this was
to bring back Jerusalem to the purer metal of  its original state
But when that had been accomplished, still more would follow.

The indestructible kernel that remained would be crystallized,  since Jerusalem would receive back from Jehovah the judges and counselors which it had had in the olden flourishing times of  the monarchy,  ever since it had become the city of  David and of  the temple;  not,  indeed,  the very same persons,  but persons quite equal to them in excellence.  Under such God-given leaders Jerusalem would become what it had once been,  and what it ought to be.  The names applied to the city indicate the impression produced by the manifestation of its true nature.  The second name is written without the article,  as in fact the word kiryah (city),  with its massive,  definite sound,  always is in Isaiah.  Thus did Jehovah announce the way,  which it had been irrevocably,  determined that He would take with Israel,  as the only way to salvation.
Moreover,  this was the fundamental principle of  the government of God,  the law of  Israel's history.

Isaiah 1:27
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(27)  I Zion shall be saved in the judgment For her captives shall be saved with judgment, and with mercy  
Her repentant ones, in the retribution.   have observed the law shall return to her in righteousness

From the NKJV

(27)  Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her penitents with righteousness.

Verse 27 presents it in a brief and concise form:

Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness..
Mishpat and tzedâkâh are used elsewhere for
Divine gifts
Such conduct as is pleasing to God
Royal Messianic virtues
(Isaiah 33:5; 28:6)
(ch. 1:21; 32:16)
(Isaiah 9:6; 11:3-5; 16:5; 32:1)

Here,  however,  where we are helped by the context,  they are to be interpreted according to such parallel passages as Isaiah 4:4; 5:16; 28:17,

as signifying God's right and righteousness in their primarily judicious self-fulfillment.
A judgment, on the part of God the righteous One,  would be the means by which Zion itself,  so far as it had remained faithful to Jehovah,  and those who were converted in the midst of the judgment,  would be redeemed - a judgment upon sinners and sin,  by which the power that had held in bondage the divine nature of  Zion,  so far as it still continued to exist,  would be broken,  and in consequence of which those who turned to Jehovah would be incorporated into His true church.

While,  therefore,  God was revealing Himself  in His punitive righteousness;  He was working out a righteousness that would be bestowed as a gift of grace upon those who escaped the former.
The notion of  "righteousness"  is now following a New Testament track.

In front it has the fire of the law;
behind, the love of the gospel.

Love is concealed behind the wrath,  like the sun behind the thunderclouds.
Zion, so far as it truly is or is becoming Zion, is redeemed, and none but the ungodly are destroyed. But, as is added in the next verse, the latter takes place without mercy.

Isaiah 1:28
From the Tanakh From the Targum
(28)  But rebels and sinners shall all be crushed,  
And those who forsake the Lord shall perish. That has forsaken the law of the Lord

From the NKJV

(28)  The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.

"And breaking up of  the rebellious and sinners together;  and those who forsake Jehovah will perish."
The judicial side of  the approaching act of  redemption is here expressed in a way that all can understand.  The exclamatory substantive clause in the first half of  the verse is explained by a declaratory verbal clause in the second.

The "rebellious" were those who had both inwardly and outwardly broken away from Jehovah
"sinners" were those who were living in open sins; and "those who forsake Jehovah," such as had become estranged from God in either of these ways.

(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Isaiah 1:29
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(29)  Truly, you k shall be shamed of their idols The trees of the idols
Because of the Terebinths you desired,
And you shall be confounded
Because of the gardens you coveted.   Of the idols wherein ye assemble together

From the NKJV

(29)  For they shall be ashamed of the terebinth trees which you have desired; and you shall be embarrassed because of the gardens which you have chosen.

Verse 29 declares how God's judgment of destruction would fall upon all of these.  The verse is introduced with an explanatory  "for" (chi):  "For they become ashamed of the Terebinths,  in which ye had your delight;  and ye must blush for the gardens, in which ye took pleasure."  The Terebinths and gardens are not referred to as objects of luxury,  but as unlawful places of  worship and objects of worship.  They are both of them frequently mentioned by the prophets in this sense (Isaiah 57:5; 65:3; 66:17): châmor and bâchar are also the words commonly applied to an arbitrary choice of  false gods (Isaiah 44:9; 41:24; 66:3),  and bosh min is the general phrase used to denote the shame which falls upon idolaters,  when the worthlessness of their idols becomes conspicuous through their impotence.
The excited state of the prophet at the close of  his prophecy is evinced by his abrupt leap from an exclamation to a direct address.

Isaiah 1:30
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(30)  For you shall be like a Terebinths turpentine tree
Wilted of leaf, that has cast its leaves
And like a garden
That has no water,

From the NKJV

(30)  For you shall be as a terebinth whose leaf fades, and as a garden that has no water.

He still continues in the same excitement,  piling a second explanatory sentence upon the first,  and commencing this also with  "for" (chi);  and then,  carried away by the association of ideas,  he takes Terebinths and gardens as the future figures of  the idolatrous people themselves.  Their prosperity is destroyed,  so that they resemble a Terebinth withered as to its leaves,  which in other cases are always green.  Their sources of help are dried up,  so that they are like a garden without water,  and therefore waste.  In this withered state Terebinths and gardens,  to which the idolatrous are compared,  are easily set on fire.  All that is wanted is a spark to kindle them, when they are immediately in flames.

Isaiah 1:31
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(31)  Stored wealth shall become as tow And their strength shall be as a thread
of tow
Tow of flax
And he who amassed it a spark; and their works as sparks  
And the two shall burn together, the transgressors and the sinners  
With none to quench.   So shall the wicked come to an end, they and their evil works, with no pity

From the NKJV

(31)  The strong shall be as tinder, and the work of it as a spark;  both will burn together, and no one shall quench them.

Verse 31 shows in a third figure where this spark was to come from.  Moreover, the figure itself would be a distorted one, since the natural order would be, that

the idol would be the thing that kindled the fire,
and the man the object to be set on fire,
and not the reverse.
We therefore follow the LXX, Targum, and Vulgate, with Gesenius and other more recent grammarians,  and adopt the rendering  "his work"  (opus ejus).

As verse 29 refers to idolatrous worship, poalo (his work) is an idol,  a god made by human hands (cf., Isaiah 2:8; 37:19, etc.).  The prosperous idolater,  who could give gold and silver for idolatrous images out of the abundance of his possessions (châson is to be interpreted in accordance with Isaiah 33:6),  becomes tow (talm. "The refuse of flax:"  the radical meaning is to shake out, viz., in combing),  and the idol the spark which sets this mass of fiber in flames,  so that they are both irretrievably consumed.
For the fire of judgment,  by which sinners are devoured,  need not come from without.
Sin carries the fire of indignation within itself.
And an idol is,  as it were,  an idolater's sin embodied and exposed to the light of day.

The more we return to the reading of this prophetic address,  the stronger is our impression that vv. 7-9  contain a description of  the state of things which really existed at the time when the words were spoken.
There were actually two devastations of the land of  Judah which occurred during the ministry of Isaiah,  and in which Jerusalem was only spared by the miraculous interposition of  Jehovah:

Under Ahaz in the year of the Syro-Ephraimitish war
Under Hezekiah when the Assyrian forces laid the land waste but were scattered at last in their attack upon Jerusalem

How did this prophecy come to stand at the head of  the book,  if it belonged to the time of Uzziah-Jotham?
This question,  upon which the solution of the difficulty depends,  can only be settled when we come to chapter 6.  Till then,  the date of  the composition of chapter 1 must be left undecided.
It is enough for the present to know,  that,  according to the accounts given in the books of  Kings and Chronicles,  there were two occasions when the situation of  Jerusalem resembled the one described in the present chapter. (From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)


If after studying the first chapter of  Isaiah,  all we got out of it was a history lesson,  then we have failed to learn the true meaning of  Scripture.
(Paul the Learner)

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,  and is profitable for doctrine,  for reproof,  for correction,  for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of  God may be complete,  thoroughly equipped for every good work.

What lessons have we found out from studying the first chapter of Isaiah?

1. If the rulers are evil, then the people also become evil. It is human nature that evil follows evil as good follows good.
2. The lessons that were taught in the book of Judges did not change the people.
a. Israel serving God with all its heart.
b. Israel wants to be like the other nations, having a king (a foot in the world).
c. Israel decides that they can have more fun in the world, so they forsake God and the Law.
d. God sends them a Prophet (like Isaiah) and warns them to repent, they refuse.
e. God sends in the enemy to conquer the nation.
f. Israel cry’s and repents to God, who then forgives them.
g. God send in a judge to deliver them from their bondage, they again service God.

This happens 7 times in the book of Judges.
The kings do the vary same thing,  and the cycle repeats itself.

What about our life as a believer in Jesus Christ?

1. Israel’s problem was that they believe and still do that  “We have Abraham to our father.
In other words,  because I am a Jew,  God will forgive me and I might suffer for a year in Sheol but afterward God will restore me to Heaven,  because I am a son of Abraham.
2. There are some Christian believers that believe that you go to purgatory,  a half way place of punishment,  but after words you go to Heaven,  because of  what others do for you in prayers and gifts.
3. There are some who believe that God will resurrect everybody and give him or her a second chance to accept Jesus Christ.  So live like you want to,  no problem.
But I think of  what the Apostle Paul said,  “He that is dead to sin, how can he live any longer therein?”
4. There are others who believe that  “because I am a good person”  so God should let me in because of that.  Except that Jesus said that the only way is through Him,  He is the door;  only thiefs and robbers try to get in other ways.
5. Then there are others who lived for God and fell and believe that God will use a balance scale and check whether the good will overcome their failure.
Except I think of the Scripture  “When a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity ... his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered"   (Ezekiel 3:20  NKJV)

In Isaiah chapter one,  Israel failed as a nation,  God tried to show mercy and love,  it was rejected and so all they could expect was judgment.


Jeremiah 4:15-17
"Tell this to the nations,  proclaim it to Jerusalem:  'A besieging army is coming from a distant land, raising a war cry against the cities of Judah.  They surround her like men guarding a field,  because she has rebelled against me,'" declares the LORD.    (NIV)

If we hear a person speaking whose language we do not understand,  we undoubtedly know that he speaks,  but do not know what his words mean;  it may even happen that we hear some words that mean one thing in the tongue of the speaker,  and exactly the reverse in our language,  and taking the words in the sense which they have in our language,  we imagine that the speaker employed them in the sense.

Suppose, for example., an Arab hears of a Hebrew,  the word abah,

he may think that the Hebrew relates how a man despised and refused a certain thing,
while the Hebrew in reality says that the man was pleased and satisfied with it.

The very same thing happens to the ordinary reader of  the Prophets; some of  their words he does not understand at all,  like those to whom the prophet says (Isaiah 29:11),  “the vision of all is become unto you as the words of  a book that is sealed;”  in other passages he finds the opposite or the reverse of  what the prophet meant;  to this case reference is made in the words, “Ye have perverted the words of the living God” (Jeremiah 23:36).

Besides,  it must be borne in mind that every prophet has his own peculiar diction,  which is,  as it were,  his language,  and it is in that language that the prophecy addressed to him is communicated to those who understand it.  After this preliminary remark you will understand the metaphor frequently employed by Isaiah,  and less frequently by other prophets.
(Moses Maimonides)

Figure of Speech Represents
verse 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! You, hear what I say
verse 4 Sinful nation Petition of words similar in sense, but different in sound and origin.
(or Gradual Ascent – An increase of emphasis or sense in successive sentences)
verse 5 Why? The asking of questions,  not for information,  or for an answer.
verse 13 The solemn meeting Your vain assembly
verse 14 My soul I  (very emphatic)
verse 15 Spread forth your hands “prays,”  in which the hands are spread forth
verse 17 Fatherless…widow for all kinds of helpless and bereaved persons
verse 23 Your Princes are rebellious It may be under stood as “your rulers are unruly.”

It sometimes is difficult for us Gentiles to understand just what a Hebrew Prophet (who knew the language and the figures of speech,  and who is talking to his people Israel)  says.
We can see pictures of Jesus Christ in his words,  and we can understand a little of the times that he was writing in.
We can memorize our favorite Scriptures.
But to see Isaiah as Israel saw and understood - that takes some effort.
So please bear with us as we try to unlock the mysteries of the Book of Isaiah.
(Paul the Learner)

Isaiah 1:1-31 - from the Amplified Version
(1)   THE VISION [seen by spiritual perception] of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah [the kingdom] and Jerusalem [its capital] in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
(2)   Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: I have nourished and brought up sons and have made them great and exalted, but they have rebelled against Me and broken away from Me.
(3)   The ox [instinctively] knows his owner, and the donkey his master's crib, but Israel does not know or recognize Me [as Lord], My people do not consider or understand.
(4)   Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised and shown contempt and provoked the Holy one of Israel to anger, they have become utterly estranged (alienated).
(5)   Why should you be stricken and punished any more [since it brings no correction]? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint (feeble, sick, and nauseated).
(6)   From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness or health in [the nation's body]--but wounds and bruises and fresh and bleeding stripes; they have not been pressed out and closed up or bound up or softened with oil. [No one has troubled to seek a remedy.]
(7)  [Because of your detestable disobedience] your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire; your land--strangers devour it in your very presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by aliens.
(8)   And the Daughter of Zion [Jerusalem] is left like a [deserted] booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, like a besieged city [spared, but in the midst of desolation].
(9)   Except the Lord of hosts had left us a very small remnant [of survivors], we should have been like Sodom, and we should have been like Gomorrah. [Gen 19:24,25; Rom 9:29.]
(10)  Hear [O Jerusalem] the word of the Lord, you rulers or judges of [another] Sodom! Give ear to the law and the teaching of our God, you people of [another] Gomorrah!
(11)  To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me [unless they are the offering of the heart]? says the Lord. I have had enough of the burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts [without obedience]; and I do not delight in the blood of bulls or of lambs or of he-goats [without righteousness].
(12)  When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you that your [unholy feet] trample My courts?
(13)  Bring no more offerings of vanity (emptiness, falsity, vainglory, and futility); [your hollow offering of] incense is an abomination to Me; the New Moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure--[it is] iniquity and profanation, even the solemn meeting.
(14)  Your New Moon festivals and your [hypocritical] appointed feasts My soul hates. They are an oppressive burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.
(15)  And when you spread forth your hands [in prayer, imploring help], I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood!
(16)  Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes! Cease to do evil,
(17)  Learn to do right! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.
(18)  Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.
(19)  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;
(20)  But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.
(21)  How the faithful city has become an [idolatrous] harlot, she who was full of justice! Uprightness and right standing with God [once] lodged in her--but now murderers.
(22)  Your silver has become dross, your wine is mixed with water.
(23)  Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves; everyone loves bribes and runs after compensation and rewards. They judge not for the fatherless nor defend them, neither does the cause of the widow come to them [for they delay or turn a deaf ear].
(24)  Therefore says the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the Mighty one of Israel, Ah, I will appease Myself on My adversaries and avenge Myself on My enemies.
(25)  And I will bring My hand again upon you and thoroughly purge away your dross [as with lye] and take away all your tin or alloy.
(26)  And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning; afterward you shall be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.
(27)  Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her [returned] converts with righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God).
(28)  But the crushing and destruction of rebels and sinners shall be together, and they who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.
(29)  For you will be ashamed [of the folly and degradation] of the oak or terebinth trees in which you found [idolatrous] pleasure, and you will blush with shame for the [idolatrous worship which you practice in the passion-inflaming] gardens which you have chosen.
(30)  For you shall be like an oak or terebinth whose leaf withers, and like a garden that has no water.
(31)  And the strong shall become like tow and become tinder, and his work like a spark, and they shall both burn together, with none to quench them.

(End of  the Lesson 1)





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