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CHAP. I. All that the Prophet says in this chapter, either in his own person or Jehovah's, hath reference to a scene exhibited to his imagination. The scene seems not to represent the manners of the Jews in any one of the four reigns in which he prophesied. For of the four kings named in the title of the book, the first two and the last were godly princes, and in their reigns there was no heavy complaint against the people. But in the reign of Ahaz, idolatry was established, and the temple-service neglected. In his reign therefore there could be little of that hypocritical attachment to the ritual service, with which the people are reproached, verses 10-17; whereas this was the great crime of the Jewish people in our Saviour's days. Vitringa indeed argues with great ability, that idolatry had taken root so deep among the Jewish people in the reign of Ahaz, that it is not to be supposed that Hezekiah's reformation was much more than a restoration of the external form and order of the true religion. The majority of the people in their hearts were still idolaters, and might justly be taxed with hypocrisy in the profession and exercise of the religion which was countenanced and protected by their king. But it seems to me that the language of the Prophet describes not the flattery of courtiers, but that serious sort of hypocrisy, which, without any true principles of religion in the heart, is much in earnest in the rites which it performs, and values itself on the merit of that legal righteousness.
Verse 7. " and it is desolate as overthrown by strangers ;” rather, “ and it is a perfect waste, like à country ravaged by strangers;" i. e. by foreign armies. The λαων αλλοτριων of the LXX is a good paraphrastic rendering of s'n, and is no indication of a various reading. The layman's conjecture, that
.is plausible צרים should be זרים the first
-burnt-devoured”- rather, “are burning are devouring,” This is the language of a man describing a scene lying before him.
Verse. 9. This 9th verse must allude to some greater desolation of the country, than can be supposed to have been effected by Sennacherib's invasion.
Verse 12. " at your hand to tread my courts;" rather, “ at your hand. Tread my courts no more.” LXX, and Bishop Lowth. St Jerome divides the sentence in the same manner : but he understands the latter clause, (as indeed the LXX understood it), not as a prohibition to tread the courts, but as a prediction that the courts of the temple at Jerusalem should be no more trodden; which he makes an argument, that the prophecy respects the last destruction of the temple by the Romans, rather than the former by the Babylonians. For after the former destruction the temple was rebuilt, and its courts trodden again for a long series of years. The words in the Hebrew have certainly more the form of a prediction, than a prohibition. But who shall say, that the temple may not be again rebuilt, and its courts again trodden, though vain oblations shall no more be offered? The latter part of the chapter gives the Jews a hope of a restoration from the ruin threatened in this prophecy. Nevertheless, I agree with St Jerome, that the ruin threatened is that which took place after our Lord's ascension and the publication of the gospel, rather than the prelusive judgments executed by the Babylonians. The whole section, from the 10th to the 15th verse, seems to allude to the abolition of the Mosaic law, though the expressions are too general to be understood in that sense by the Jews of Isaiah's time. Indeed the whole of the vision, exhibited to the prophet, seems to have been a general view of national guilt, punishment, reformation, pardon, and restoration'; and the prophecy is a general prediction of guilt, and threatening of punishment, and, in some degree, received a completion in every great judgment that fell upon the people. At the same time, that the allusions to the particular guilt of the Jews, in their treatment of our Lord, though oblique, are now so evident, and the description of their punishment corresponds so much more exactly with their final dispersion, than with any previous calamity, that little room is left to doubt that these were the things principally in view of the inspiring Spirit.