Isaiah 59:12
For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;
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(12) For our transgressions . . .—The parallelism with the confessions of Daniel (Isaiah 9:5-15) and Ezra (Isaiah 9:6-15) is singularly striking, but is as explicable on the hypothesis that they reproduced that of 2 Isaiah as on the assumption that this also was written at the close of the exile. It would, of course, be as true in the time of Manasseh as at any subsequent period. The self accusations of the people are now, as they ought to be, as full and severe as the prophet’s original indictment had been.

Isaiah 59:12-13. For our transgressions — The word פשׁעונו, here used, signifies sins of a high nature, namely, such as were wilfully committed against light and knowledge; rebellious sins. Are multiplied before thee — They admit of no excuse; for they are committed before thee, and multiplied against thee, whereby thou art justly provoked to deny us all help. And our sins testify against us — The sins charged upon us are so many witnesses produced to prove our guilt. For our transgressions are with us — Are still unforgiven, and we lie under the divine wrath on account of them. As for our iniquities, we know them — We are convinced of them. In transgressing and lying, &c. — He now enumerates some of those particular sins which they profess themselves to be convinced of; by which he does not mean the sins of some particular persons, or some slight sins, but a general defection and corruption of the whole body. Transgressing here, and lying, seem to be one and the same thing, inasmuch as in their transgressing the law of God, they broke their solemn engagement to God, made upon mount Sinai. Departing away from God — Turning from God to idols. Speaking oppression, &c. — As it were, talking of little else one among another, but how to oppress their neighbours, and apostatize from God. Conceiving and uttering — That is, first contriving in their hearts false accusations against their neighbours, and false worship, to the dishonour of God; laying the contrivances so that they might be effectual, and then uttering them; from the heart — And when they dealt with men in ways of fraud, it was from the heart; but when they spake with God, it was but from the lips.59:9-15 If we shut our eyes against the light of Divine truth, it is just with God to hide from our eyes the things that belong to our peace. The sins of those who profess themselves God's people, are worse than the sins of others. And the sins of a nation bring public judgments, when not restrained by public justice. Men may murmur under calamities, but nothing will truly profit while they reject Christ and his gospel.Our sins testify against us - Hebrew, 'Answer against us.' The idea is, that their past lives had been so depraved that they became witnesses against them (compare the notes at Isaiah 3:9).

We know them - We recognize them as our sins, and we cannot conceal from ourselves the fact that we are transgressors.

12. (Da 9:5, &c.).

thee … us—antithesis.

with us—that is, we are conscious of them (Job 12:3, Margin; Job 15:9).

know—acknowledge they are our iniquities.

Our transgressions: the word here signifies sins of a high nature; such as wherein there is much of man’s will against light; rebellious sins.

Are multiplied before thee: q.d. They admit of no excuse; for they are acted before thee, and multiplied against thee, whereby thou art justly provoked to deny us all help.

Our sins testify; every sin that is charged upon is like so many witnesses produced to prove the guilt of our consciences; or, as the Hebrew word, do answer; and so some make it an elegant metaphorical allusion to the echo, which, as it returns the voice again, so those judgments they cry out of are but the meritorious repercussion of their sins. They had been cruel to others, neither had they executed judgment and justice, and here they suffer all kind of cruelties and indignities from the Chaldeans, as the true and just representation or echo of their own works: see a personal instance in Adoni-bezek, Judges 1:6,7.

Our transgressions are with us, i.e. we lie under the guilt of them, they are a burden to us; God hath not yet forgiven them.

As for our iniquities, we know them; we are convinced of them; our guilty consciences must own and acknowledge them, Psalm 2 3. It notes either their conviction or sorrow, or both. See Jeremiah 14:7. Or, we know what are those sins thou art so angry with us for; and this is favoured by the sequel, where they seem to particularize those sins in the following verses. For our transgressions are multiplied before thee,.... Not only an increase of immorality among the people in common, but among professors of religion; and as their transgressions are committed against the Lord, so they are in his sight taken notice of and observed by him, are loathsome and abominable to him, and call aloud for his judgments on them:

and our sins testify against us; God is a witness against us, in whose sight our sins are done; and our consciences are witnesses against us, which are as a thousand witnesses; and there is no denying facts; our sins stare us in the face, and we must confess our guilt: or, "our sins answer against us" (c); as witnesses called and examined answer to the questions put, so our sins, being brought as it were into open court, answer and bear testimony against us; or it must be owned, our punishment for our sins answers to them; it is the echo of our sins, what they call for, and righteously comes upon us:

for our transgressions are with us; or, "on us" (d); in our minds, on our consciences, loading us with guilt; continually accusing and condemning us; are manifest to us, as the Targum; too manifest to be denied:

and as for our iniquities, we know them; the nature and number of them, and the aggravating circumstances that attend them; and cannot but own and acknowledge them, confess, lament, and bewail them; an enumeration of which follows.

(c) "peccata nostra respondit contra nos", Montanus; "id ipsum respondit contra nos", Cocceius; "even everyone of them", so Junius & Tremellius; "peccatorum nostrorum quodque", sic (d) "super nos", Munster.

For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our {k} sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;

(k) This confession is general to the Church to obtain remission of sins, and the prophets did not exempt themselves from the same.

12. our sins testify against us] So Jeremiah 14:7.

our transgressions are with us] present to our conscience, Job 12:3; Job 14:5 &c.; comp. also Psalm 51:3 (“my transgressions I know, and my sin is before me continually”).Verse 12. - Our transgressions are multiplied before thee; i.e. they are very numerous; and they come "before God," so as to attract his attention and call for his animadversion. Our sins testify against us; i.e. "rise up against us as witnesses, whose evidence we cannot disprove, and have not even the face to dispute." Our transgressions are with us - i.e. "constantly haunt us" - and as for our iniquities, we know them; i.e. we are aware of them, we acknowledge them, we have them continually in our memories. It is one of the most certain phenomena of consciousness that grievous sins, deadly sins, haunt the mind, and cannot in this life be wiped out from the memory. The description now passes over to the social and judicial life. Lying and oppression universally prevail. "No one speaks with justice, and no one pleads with faithfulness; men trust in vanity, and speak with deception; they conceive trouble, and bring forth ruin. They hatch basilisks' eggs, and weave spiders' webs. He that eateth of their eggs must die; and if one is trodden upon, it splits into an adder. Their webs do not suffice for clothing, and men cannot cover themselves with their works: their works are works of ruin, and the practice of injustice is in their hands." As קרא is generally used in these prophetic addresses in the sense of κηρύσσειν, and the judicial meaning, citare, in just vocare, litem intendere, cannot be sustained, we must adopt this explanation, "no one gives public evidence with justice" (lxx οὐδεὶς λαλεῖ δίκαια). צדק is firm adherence to the rule of right and truth; אמוּנה a conscientious reliance which awakens trust; משׁפּט (in a reciprocal sense, as in Isaiah 43:26; Isaiah 66:16) signifies the commencement and pursuit of a law-suit with any one. The abstract infinitives which follow in Isaiah 59:4 express the general characteristics of the social life of that time, after the manner of the historical infinitive in Latin (cf., Isaiah 21:5; Ges. 131, 4, b). Men trust in tōhū, that which is perfectly destitute of truth, and speak שׁוא, what is morally corrupt and worthless. The double figure און והוליד עמל הרו is taken from Job 15:35 (cf., Psalm 7:15). הרו (compare the poel in Isaiah 59:13) is only another form for הרה (Ges. 131, 4, b); and הוליד (the western or Palestinian reading here), or הולד (the oriental or Babylonian reading), is the usual form of the inf. abs. hiph. (Ges. 53, Anm. 2). What they carry about with them and set in operation is compared in Isaiah 59:5 to basilisks' eggs (צפעוני, serpens regulus, as in Isaiah 11:8) and spiders' webs (עכּבישׁ, as in Job 8:14, from עכּב, possibly in the sense of squatter, sitter still, with the substantive ending ı̄sh). They hatch basilisks' eggs (בּקּע like בּקע, Isaiah 34:15, a perfect, denoting that which has hitherto always taken place and therefore is a customary thing); and they spin spiders' webs (ארג possibly related to ἀράχ-νη;

(Note: Neither καῖρος nor ἀράχνη has hitherto been traced to an Indian root in any admissible way. Benfey deduces the former from the root dhvir (to twist); but this root has to perform an immense number of services. M. Mller deduces the latter from rak; but this means to make, not to spin.)

the future denoting that which goes on occurring). The point of comparison in the first figure is the injurious nature of all they do, whether men rely upon it, in which case "he that eateth of their eggs dieth," or whether they are bold or imprudent enough to try and frustrate their plans and performances, when that (the egg) which is crushed or trodden upon splits into an adder, i.e., sends out an adder, which snaps at the heel of the disturber of its rest. זוּר as in Job 39:15, here the part. pass. fem. like סוּרה (Isaiah 49:21), with a - instead of ā - like לנה, the original ă of the feminine (zūrăth) having returned from its lengthening into ā to the weaker lengthening into ĕ. The point of comparison in the second figure is the worthlessness and deceptive character of their works. What they spin and make does not serve for a covering to any man (יתכּסּוּ with the most general subject: Ges. 137, 3), but has simply the appearance of usefulness; their works are מעשׂי־און (with metheg, not munach, under the Mem), evil works, and their acts are all directed to the injury of their neighbour, in his right and his possession.

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