Isaiah 1:10
Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
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(10) Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom.—The Hebrew text, by leaving a space between the two verses, indicates the beginning of a new section. It is noticeable that the prophet does not address the king. It may be that he trusted him, but not his ministers. We have to remember that the rulers (better, judges; same word as kadi) thus addressed were probably those who were outwardly active in Hezekiah’s work of reformation, or had taken part in the older routine worship under Uzziah. For princes and people alike that reformation was but superficial. The priestly writer of the Book of Chronicles might dwell only on the apparent good in either reign (2Chronicles 27:2; 2 Chronicles 29-31); but the eye of Isaiah saw below the surface. In “the word of the Lord,” and “the law of our God,” we have two different aspects of the revelation of the Divine will, the first being the prophetic message of the prophet, the second pointing primarily, perhaps, to the law given by Moses, but including also, as in Psalm 19:7; Psalm 119:1; Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 42:24; Isaiah 51:7, all forms of direct ethical teaching, especially, perhaps, such as were actually based upon the law or Torah as a text.

Isaiah 1:10. Hear the word of the Lord — I bring a message from your Lord and governor, to whom you owe all reverence and obedience; ye rulers of Sodom — So called for their resemblance of them in wickedness. Compare Deuteronomy 32:32; Ezekiel 16:46; Ezekiel 16:48. “The incidental mention of Sodom and Gomorrah in the preceding verse, suggested to the prophet this spirited address to the rulers and inhabitants of Jerusalem, under the character of princes of Sodom and people of Gomorrah. Two examples, of an elegant turn, of the like kind, may be observed in St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans 15:4-5; Romans 15:12-13.” — Bishop Lowth. Give ear unto the law of our God — The message which I am now to deliver to you from God, your great lawgiver.

1:10-15 Judea was desolate, and their cities burned. This awakened them to bring sacrifices and offerings, as if they would bribe God to remove the punishment, and give them leave to go on in their sin. Many who will readily part with their sacrifices, will not be persuaded to part with their sins. They relied on the mere form as a service deserving a reward. The most costly devotions of wicked people, without thorough reformation of heart and life, cannot be acceptable to God. He not only did not accept them, but he abhorred them. All this shows that sin is very hateful to God. If we allow ourselves in secret sin, or forbidden indulgences; if we reject the salvation of Christ, our very prayers will become abomination.Hear the word of the Lord - The message of God. Having stated the calamities under which the nation was groaning, the prophet proceeds to address the rulers, and to state the cause of all these woes.

Ye rulers of Sodom - The incidental mention Sodom in the previous verse gives occasion for this beautiful transition, and abrupt and spirited address. Their character and destiny were almost like those of Sodom, and the prophet therefore openly addresses the rulers as being called to preside over a people like those in Sodom. There could have been no more severe or cutting reproof of their wickedness than to address them as resembling the people whom God overthrew for their enormous crimes.

10. Sodom—spiritually (Ge 19:24; Jer 23:14; Eze 16:46; Re 11:8). Hear the word of the Lord; I speak not my own fancies or passions, but the message of your Lord and Governor, to whom you owe all reverence and obedience.

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

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

Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom,.... Not literally, but mystically, meaning the governors of Judea; they and their people having sinned in like manner, and as openly, as the rulers of Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof; see Isaiah 3:9 and so the Targum paraphrases the words,

"receive the word of the Lord, ye governors, whose works are evil like the governors of Sodom.''

These are called to attend to the word of the Lord; either the Scriptures, which should be the rule of faith and practice, from which they had swerved; or to the word which now came to them by the prophet, and is contained in the following verses; or rather to the Gospel preached to them by John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles, see Isaiah 2:3 which being rejected by them as it was, it is declared that it would be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for them, Matthew 11:24.

give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah; the inhabitants of Judea; for as were both the civil and ecclesiastical rulers, so were the people both in Isaiah's time, and in the times of Christ and his apostles. The Targum is,

"hearken to the law of our God, ye people whose works are like to the people of Gomorrah.''

And by "the law of our God" is meant, not so much the law of Moses, which these people had not hearkened to, but had broken it, and cast it away from them, as the doctrine of the grace of God, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our God; which was first sent and preached to this wicked people, for the sake of the small remnant, according to the election of grace left among them; see Isaiah 2:3.

Hear the word of the LORD, ye {r} rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

(r) You who for your vices deserved to be destroyed, as they of Sodom, save that God from his mercy reserved a little number, La 3:22.

10. rulers of Sodom … people of Gomorrah] Note the singularly effective transition from the last words of Isaiah 1:9. The word for “ruler” is the same as the Arabic kadi (found again in Isaiah 3:6, Isaiah 22:3) and means strictly “decider,” i.e. judge.

law of our God] Parallel to word of the Lord, as in Isaiah 2:3. The reference is not to the Mosaic Law, but to the prophetic revelation which follows (cf. Isaiah 5:24, Isaiah 8:16, Isaiah 30:9). The word Tôrâh (primarily “direction,” then “instruction” or “teaching”) was perhaps originally employed of the oral directions given by the priests on points of ritual or ethics (see esp. Haggai 2:11; Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 8:8; Jeremiah 18:18; Ezekiel 7:26); but is frequently used of the prophetic teaching (Jeremiah 31:33; Isaiah 42:4, &c.). It appears always to denote religious instruction, even in such cases as Proverbs 1:8; Proverbs 3:1; Proverbs 13:14, &c. Of the Mosaic Law, Deuteronomy 1:5; Deuteronomy 4:8, and very often.

10–17. “The false and the true way of seeking God’s favour” (Dillmann). The threatening aspect of public affairs had probably led to an unwonted display of zeal in the performance of the Temple ritual. Although the underlying thought of the people is that the bond between them and their God is maintained by sacrifice, &c., there is no reason to suppose that they are here conceived as consciously entering this plea in arrest of judgment. It is not till Isaiah 1:18 that Jehovah calls the nation to answer His indictment.—It is to be noted that in these verses there is a progression from the cruder and more external to the more spiritual expressions of religious homage: sacrifice, solemn assemblies, prayer. This shews that what the prophet repudiates is not cultus as such, but the unholy combination of ritual worship with immoral conduct.

Verses 10-15. - THE PEOPLE'S PLEA NO EXCUSE, BUT AN AGGRAVATION OF THEIR GUILT. The prophet supposes the people, by the mouth of their rulers, to meet the charge of rebellion with an appeal to the fact that they maintain all the outward ordinances of religion, as required by the Lawn and are therefore blameless. This draws from him a burst of indignant eloquence, which the Holy Spirit directs him to put, mainly, into the mouth of God (vers. 11-15), denouncing such a pretence of religion as an aggravation of their sin, and characterizing their whole worship as an "abomination." Verse 10. - Hear the word of the Lord; i.e. "Do not speak to no purpose, but hear." The rulers are supposed to have begun their plea, but the prophet stops them. Ye rulers of Sodom. Having said in the preceding verse how nearly Jerusalem had suffered the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, the writer grows more bold, and proceeds to give Jerusalem the obnoxious names. Her "rulers, "literally, judges (katsin in Hebrew corresponding to kadi in Arabic), are "rulers of Sodom;" her people are the "people of Gomorrah." There is as much wickedness, though it may be not the same wickedness, in "the daughter of Zion" at the existing time, as in the cities of the plain when God destroyed them. The law of our God. Not the Levitical Law, though the word used has generally that sense, but the "instruction" or "direction" that was about to be uttered (comp. Psalm 78:1; and see below, Isaiah 2:3 and Isaiah 51:4). See Mr. Cheyne's note on the passage. Isaiah 1:10The 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 Isaiah 1:9 and Isaiah 1:10. This mode of marking larger or smaller sections, either by leaving spaces of by breaking off the line, is older than the vowel points and accents, and rests upon a tradition of the highest antiquity (Hupfeld, Gram. p. 86ff.). 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 (petuchah). The prophet stops as soon as he has affirmed, that nothing but the mercy of God has warded off from Israel the utter destruction which 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 which he reads in the hearts of the accused, the prophet launches forth the accusations of God. In Isaiah 1:10, Isaiah 1:11, he commences thus: "Hear the word of Jehovah, ye Sodom judges; give ear to the law of our God, O Gomorrah nation! What is the multitude of your slain-offerings to me? saith Jehovah. I am satiated with whole offerings of rams, and the fat of stalled calves; and blood of bullocks and sheep and he-goats I do not like." The second start in the prophet's address commences, like the first, with "hear" and "give ear." The summons to hear is addressed in this instances (as in the case of Isaiah's contemporary Micah, Micah 3:1-12) to the kezinim (from kâzâh, decidere, from which comes the Arabic el-Kadi, the judge, with the substantive termination in: see Jeshurun, p. 212 ss.), i.e., to the men of decisive authority, the rulers in the broadest sense, and to the people subject to them. It was through the mercy of God that Jerusalem was in existence still, for Jerusalem was "spiritually Sodom," as the Revelation (Revelation 11:8) distinctly affirms of Jerusalem, with evident allusion to this passage of Isaiah. Pride, lust of the flesh, and unmerciful conduct, were the leading sins of Sodom, according to Ezekiel 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. 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, and prophecy the spirit of the law, and the prophetic institution 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." The prophet intentionally uses the word יאמר, not אמר: this was the incessant appeal of God in relation to the spiritless, formal worship offered by the hypocritical, ceremonial righteousness of Israel (the future denoting continuous actions, which is ever at the same time both present and future). The multitude of zebâchim, i.e., animal sacrifices, had no worth at all to Him. As the whole worship is summed up here in one single act, zebâchim appears to denote the shelamim, peace-offerings (or better still, communion offerings), with which a meal was associated, after the style of a sacrificial festival, and Jehovah gave the worshipper a share in the sacrifice offered. It is better, however, to take zebâchim as the general name for all the bleeding sacrifices, which are then subdivided into 'oloth and Cheleb, as consisting partly of whole offerings, or offerings the whole of which was placed upon the altar, though in separate pieces, and entirely consumed, and partly of those sacrifices in which only the fat was consumed upon the altar, namely the sin-offerings, trespass-offerings, and pre-eminently the shelâmim offerings. Of the sacrificial animals mentioned, the bullocks (pârim) and fed beasts (meri'im, fattened calves) are species of oxen (bakar); and the lambs (Cebashim) and he-goats (atturim, young he-goats, as distinguished from se'ir, the old long-haired he-goat, the animal used as a sin-offering), together with the ram (ayil, the customary whole offering of the high priest, of the tribe prince, and of the nation generally on all the high feast days), were species of the flock. The blood of these sacrificial animals - such, for example, as the young oxen, sheep, and he-goats - was thrown all round the altar in the case of the whole offering, the peace-offering, and the trespass-offering; in that of the sin-offering it was smeared upon the horns of the altar, poured out at the foot of the altar, and in some instances sprinkled upon the walls of the altar, or against the vessels of the inner sanctuary. Of such offerings as these Jehovah was weary, and He wanted no more (the two perfects denote that which long has been and still is: Ges. 126, 3); in fact, He never had desired anything of the kind.
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