Isaiah 2:6
Therefore you have forsaken your people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.
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(6) Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people . . .—Better, For Thou hast . . . This was the sad, dark present, in contrast with the bright future. Jehovah “went not forth” with the armies of Judah (Psalm 68:7); and the Syrians, Edomites, and Philistines, possibly the Assyrians also (2Kings 16:9; 2Chronicles 28:17-20), were laying the lands waste.

Because they be replenished from the east.—The disasters of the time are viewed as chastisements for sin, and the sin consisted in casting off their national allegiance to Jehovah. The “east,” from which they were replenished, with which they filled their thoughts and life, was Syria and Mesopotamia, to whose influence they had yielded, and whose cultus Ahaz had adopted (2Kings 16:10-12).

And are soothsayers like the Philistines.—Literally, cloud-diviners. The word points to the claim of being “storm-raisers,” which has been in all ages one of the boasts of sorcerers. The conquests of Uzziah (2Chronicles 26:6) had brought Judah into contact with the Philistines, and the oracles at Ekron and elsewhere (2Kings 1:2) attracted the people of Judah. There was, as it were, a mania for divination, and the “diviners” of Philistia (1Samuel 6:2) found imitators among the people of Jehovah.

They please themselves in the children of strangers.—Literally, they strike hands with, as meaning, (1) they enter into contracts with, or (2) they make common cause with. The commerce of the people with foreign nations, which had expanded under Uzziah (2Kings 14:22), was, from the prophet’s point of view, the cause of much evil. It was probably conducted, as at an earlier date, chiefly by Phoenician sailors and merchants (1Kings 9:27), and thus opened the way to their impurity of worship and of life (Jonah 1:5). The sense of being a peculiar and separate people wore away. The pictures of the “strange woman” and the foreign money-lender of Proverbs 5:3; Proverbs 6:1, present two aspects of this evil.

Isaiah 2:6. Therefore — For the following causes; thou hast forsaken thy people — Or, wilt certainly forsake and reject them. The house of Jacob — The body of that nation. The prophet here begins his complaint of the state of the Jewish nation, and “assigns the reason of God’s withdrawing his kindness from those of the present age, (as there would be a more remarkable rejection of them under the gospel,) because of their following the corrupt manners of the idolatrous nations round about them, in seeking to soothsayers and wizards, which God had solemnly and expressly forbidden, Deuteronomy 18:14.” — Lowth. Because they are replenished from the east — Or, as the margin reads it, more than the east, which Dr. Waterland interprets, They are fuller of sorceries than the east; and Bishop Lowth, They are filled with divination from the east. The general meaning seems to be, that their land was full of the impious, superstitious, and idolatrous manners of the eastern nations, the Syrians and Chaldeans, and perhaps also they had encouraged these heathen to settle among them, that they might learn their customs. And are soothsayers — Undertaking to discover secret things, and to foretel future, contingent events, by observing the stars, or the clouds, or the flight of birds, and in other ways of divination; like the Philistines — Who were infamous for those practices; of which see one instance, 1 Samuel 6:2. They please themselves in the children of strangers — They delight in their company and conversation, making leagues, and friendships, and marriages with them. Dr. Waterland renders the clause, They please themselves in the conceptions, or productions, of strangers.2:1-9 The calling of the Gentiles, the spread of the gospel, and that far more extensive preaching of it yet to come, are foretold. Let Christians strengthen one another, and support one another. It is God who teaches his people, by his word and Spirit. Christ promotes peace, as well as holiness. If all men were real Christians, there could be no war; but nothing answering to these expressions has yet taken place on the earth. Whatever others do, let us walk in the light of this peace. Let us remember that when true religion flourishes, men delight in going up to the house of the Lord, and in urging others to accompany them. Those are in danger who please themselves with strangers to God; for we soon learn to follow the ways of persons whose company we keep. It is not having silver and gold, horses and chariots, that displeases God, but depending upon them, as if we could not be safe, and easy, and happy without them, and could not but be so with them. Sin is a disgrace to the poorest and the lowest. And though lands called Christian are not full of idols, in the literal sense, are they not full of idolized riches? and are not men so busy about their gains and indulgences, that the Lord, his truths, and precepts, are forgotten or despised?Therefore - The prophet proceeds in this and the following verses, to state the reasons of their calamities, and of the judgments that had come upon them. Those judgments he traces to the crimes which he enumerates - crimes growing chiefly out of great commercial prosperity, producing pride, luxury, and idolatry.

Thou hast forsaken - The address is changed from the exhortation to the house of Jacob Isaiah 2:5 to God, as is frequently the case in the writings of Isaiah. It indicates a state where the mind is full of the subject, and where it expresses itself in a rapid and hurried manner.

Hast forsaken - Hast withdrawn thy protection, and given them over to the calamities and judgments which had come upon them.

They be replenished - Hebrew, They are "full." That is, these things abound.

From the East - Margin, "More than the East." The meaning of the expression it is not easy to determine. The word translated "East," קדם qedem denotes also "antiquity," or that which is "of old," as well as the East. Hence, the Septuagint renders it, 'their land is, as of old, filled.' The Chaldee, 'their land is filled with idols as at the beginning.' Either idea will suit the passage; though our translation more nearly accords with the Hebrew than the others. The "East," that is, Arabia, Persia, Chaldea, etc., was the country where astrology, soothsaying, and divination particularly abounded; see Daniel 2:2; Deuteronomy 18:9-11.

And are soothsayers - Our word "soothsayers" means "foretellers, prognosticators," persons who pretend to predict future events "without inspiration," differing in this from true prophets. What the Hebrew word means, it is not so easy to determine. The word עננים ‛onenı̂ym may be derived from ענן ‛ânân, "a cloud" - and then would denote those who augur from the appearance of the clouds, a species of divination from certain changes observed in the sky; compare Leviticus 19:26 : 'Neither shall ye - observe times.' 2 Kings 21:6. This species of divination was expressly forbidden; see Deuteronomy 18:10-12 : 'There shall not be found among you anyone that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter,' etc. Or the word may be derived from עין ‛ayin, "an eye," and then it will denote those who fascinate, enchant, or bewitch by the eye. It is probable that the word includes "augury, necromancy, and witchcraft," in general - all which were expressly forbidden by the law of Moses; Deuteronomy 18:10-12.

Like the Philistines - The Philistines occupied the land in the southwest part of Palestine. The Septuagint uses the word "foreigners" here, as they do generally, instead of the Philistines.

And they please themselves - The word used here - שׂפק s'âphaq - means literally "to clap the hands" in token of joy. It may also mean, "to join the hands, to shake hands," and then it will signify that they "joined hands" with foreigners; that is, they made compacts or entered into alliances with them contrary to the law of Moses. The Septuagint seems to understand it of unlawful marriages with the women of surrounding nations - τέκνα πολλὰ ἀλλόφυλλα ἐγενήθη αὐτοῖς tekna polla allophula egenēthē autois; compare Nehemiah 13:23. It means probably, in general, that they entered into improper alliances, whether they were military, matrimonial, or commercial, with the surrounding nations. The words "children of strangers" may mean, with the descendants of the foreigners with whom Moses forbade any alliances. The Jews were to be a separate and special people, and, in order to this, it was necessary to forbid all such foreign alliances; Exodus 23:31-32; Exodus 34:12-15; Psalm 106:3, Psalm 106:5; Ezra 9:1-15,

6. Therefore—rather, "For": reasons why there is the more need of the exhortation in Isa 2:5.

thou—transition to Jehovah: such rapid transitions are natural, when the mind is full of a subject.

replenished—rather, filled, namely, with the superstitions of the East, Syria, and Chaldea.

soothsayers—forbidden (De 18:10-14).

Philistines—southwest of Palestine: antithesis to "the east."

please themselves—rather, join hands with, that is, enter into alliances, matrimonial and national: forbidden (Ex 23:32; Ne 13:23, &c.).

Therefore; for the following reasons. Or, but, as this particle is oft used. But why do I persuade the Israelites to receive the light of the gospel? my labour is in vain. I foresee they will refuse it; and God, for their many and great sins, will give them up to apostacy and infidelity.

Thou hast forsaken; wilt certainly forsake and reject. The body of that nation.

They be replenished from the east; their land is full of the impious, and superstitious, and idolatrous manners of the Eastern nations, the Syrians and Chaldeans.

Are soothsayers: these undertook to discover secret things, and to foretell future contingent things, by the superstitious observation of the stars, or clouds, or birds, or other ways of divination, which God had severely forbidden. See Leviticus 19:26. Like the Philistines, who are infamous for those practices; of which see one instance 1 Samuel 6:2. They please themselves; they delight in their manners, and company, and conversation, making leagues, and friendships, and marriages with them.

In the children of strangers; either,

1. In the children begotten by them upon strange women; or rather,

2. In strangers, as this phrase is used, Nehemiah 9:2 Isaiah 60:10, and elsewhere. Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people, the house of Jacob,.... These words contain a reason of the divine conduct, in calling the Gentiles, and rejecting the Jews, because of the sins of the latter hereafter mentioned; though some, as the Targum and R. Moses, refer this to the Israelites; and read, "because ye have forsaken", &c. and interpret it of their forsaking the Lord, his worship, and his law. What is hereafter said does not agree with the Jews, literally understood, neither in the times of Isaiah, nor when they returned from Babylon, nor in the times of Christ, nor since the destruction of Jerusalem, or in the latter day, a little before their conversion; for after the Babylonish captivity they were not given to idolatry, nor did they abound in riches, and much less since their dispersion among the nations; nor will this be their case in the latter day: wherefore Kimchi applies the whole to the times of Solomon, when the land abounded with gold and silver, with horses and chariots, and with idolatry also, in the latter part of his life: but it seems best to interpret this of antichrist and his followers, who call themselves the people of God, and the house of Jacob, say they are Jews, but are not, and are of the synagogue of Satan; and are therefore rejected of the Lord, and will be given up to utter ruin and destruction, for the evils found in them, hereafter charged with.

Because they be replenished from the east, or "more than the east" (s); than the eastern people, the Syrians and Chaldeans; that is, were more filled with witchcrafts and sorceries than they, as Kimchi explains it; of the sorceries of the Romish antichrist, see Revelation 9:21 the words may be rendered, "because they be full from of old time" (t); or, as of old, or more than they were of old; namely, fuller of idols than formerly; so the Targum paraphrases it,

"because your land is full of idols, as of old;''

and so Rome Papal is as full of idols, or fuller, than Rome Pagan was. Some, as Aben Ezra, understand this of their being filled with the wisdom of the children of the east, 1 Kings 4:30 and others of the riches of the east:

and are soothsayers like the Philistines: who were a people given to divination and soothsaying, 1 Samuel 6:2 and some of the popes of Rome have studied the black art, and by such wicked means have got into the Papal chair; for under this may be included all evil arts and fallacious methods, by which they have deceived themselves and others:

and they please themselves in the children of strangers; being brought into their convents, monasteries, and nunneries; the priests and nuns vowing celibacy and virginity, and contenting themselves with the children of others: or they love strange flesh, delight in sodomitical practices, and unnatural lusts with boys and men; wherefore Rome is called Sodom and Egypt, Revelation 11:8 or they content and delight themselves in the laws, customs, rites, ceremonies, and doctrines of other nations; many of the Gentile notions and practices being introduced into the faith and worship of the church of Rome; wherefore the Papists go by the name of Gentiles, Revelation 11:2. The Targum is,

"and they walk in the laws of the people,''

or study strange sciences, and not the statutes and laws of God; so some interpret it, as Ben Melech observes, and who also mentions another sense some give, that they please themselves in images they renew daily.

(s) "prae oriente, vel filiis orientis", Vatablus. (t) , Sept.; "ut olim", Vulg. Lat. Sic Syr. & Ar.

Therefore thou {m} hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they are {n} filled with customs from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, {o} and they please themselves in the children of foreigners.

(m) The prophet seeing the small hope that the Jews would convert, complains to God as though he had utterly forsaken them for their sins.

(n) Full of the corruptions that reigned chiefly in the east parts.

(o) They altogether gave themselves to the fashions of other nations.

6. Therefore thou hast forsaken] For thou hast rejected—a strong word, used twice (Deuteronomy 32:15; Jeremiah 15:6) of Israel’s rejection of Jehovah, more frequently as here. This “rejection” is the counterpart of the “rebellion” of ch. Isaiah 1:2. replenished from the east] An old and plausible emendation (mqṣm for mqdm) gives the sense “filled with sorcery.” Possibly both words were written (“with sorcery from the east”), one having been dropped in copying because of their resemblance. “The east” would include Arabia, Syria, and Mesopotamia, perhaps also Babylonia, “the classic land of magic.”

soothsayers] It is not certain what particular form of divination is indicated by the name. Some take it as derived from the word for cloud; “cloud-compellers,” i.e. rainmakers. On divination amongst “the Philistines” see 1 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 1:2 please themselves in] Lit. strike hands with (R.V.), i.e. “form alliances with.” The expression is not found elsewhere, and the rendering is somewhat uncertain. Dillmann thinks that “children of strangers” must mean “foreign youths,” who were in request as sorcerers, but the wider sense (= “strangers,” simply) seems preferable. It is probably better (with Hitzig) to read bîdê (“with the hands of”) instead of běyaldê (“with the children of”), rendering simply: “join hands with strangers.”

6–9. The prophet bears witness to Jehovah against Israel. It is very rarely that Isaiah thus addresses himself directly to God.Verse 6. - Therefore; rather, for. The prophet, in calling upon Israel to "walk in the light of the Lord," implies that they are not so walking. He then proceeds to give the reasons of this. They are not, "for God has forsaken them, or, cast them off." The first reason is because they be replenished from the east (Revised Version, "they be filled with customs from the east); i.e. they have adopted a number of Syrian, Assyrian, and Ammonite superstitions; e.g. high places, images, and "groves," the burning of their children in honor of Moloch, the use of divination and enchantment, etc. (2 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 16:3, 4; 2 Kings 17:10-12, 16, 17, etc.). Most of these practices reached the Israelites from Syria, though many had their origin either in Assyria or Babylonia. Soothsayers, like the Philistines. The "diviners" of the Philistines are mentioned in 1 Samuel 6:2. By the word here employed, it would seem that they foretold the future from observations on the clouds and the general appearance of the sky. During the reign of Uzziah, the Israelites had been brought into closer contact with the Philistines than usual, through his conquest of several of their cities (2 Chronicles 26:6). They please themselves in the children of strangers; literally, strike hands with the children of strangers (comp. Job 27:23). This is thought to refer to striking hands upon a bargain (Cheyne), and to be an allusion to the commercial activity of the reigns of Uzziah and Jotham (2 Kings 14:22; 2 Kings 16:6). But perhaps it does not mean more than familiarity. Isaiah 1:31 shows in a third figure where this spark was to come from: "And the rich man becomes tow, and his work the spark; and they will both burn together, and no one extinguishes them." The form poalo suggests at first a participial meaning (its maker), but החסון would be a very unusual epithet to apply to an idol. 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, Targ., and Vulg., with Gesenius and other more recent grammarians, and adopt the rendering "his work" (opus ejus). The forms פּעלו and פּעלו (cf., Isaiah 52:14 and Jeremiah 22:13) are two equally admissible changes of the ground-form פעלו (פּעלו). As Isaiah 1:29 refers to idolatrous worship, poalo (his work) is an idol, a god made by human hands (cf., Isaiah 2:8; Isaiah 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 fibre 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 date of the composition of this first prophecy is a puzzle. Caspari thoroughly investigated every imaginary possibility, and at last adopted the conclusion that it dates from the time of Uzziah, inasmuch as Isaiah 1:7-9 do not relate to an actual, but merely to an ideal, present. But notwithstanding all the acuteness with which Caspari has worked out his view, it still remains a very forced one. The oftener we return to the reading of this prophetic address, the stronger is our impression that Isaiah 1:7-9 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: one under Ahaz in the year of the Syro-Ephraimitish war; the other under Hezekiah, when the Assyrian forces laid the land waste but were scattered at last in their attack upon Jerusalem. The year of the Syro-Ephraimitish war is supported by Gesenius, Rosenmller (who expresses a different opinion in every one of the three editions of his Scholia), Maurer, Movers, Knobel, Hvernick, and others; the time of the Assyrian oppression by Hitzig, Umbreit, Drechsler, and Luzzatto. Now, whichever of these views we may adopt, there will still remain, as a test of its admissiblity, the difficult question, 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 Isaiah 6:1-13. 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.

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