Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved "Let me sing now a song," etc. - A MS., respectable for its antiquity, adds the word שיר shir, a song, after נא na ; which gives so elegant a turn to the sentence by the repetition of it in the next member, and by distinguishing the members so exactly in the style and manner in the Hebrew poetical composition, that I am much inclined to think it genuine.
A song of my beloved "A song of loves" - דודי dodey, for דודים dodim : status constructus pro absoluto, as the grammarians say, as Micah 6:16; Lamentations 3:14, Lamentations 3:66, so Archbishop Secker. Or rather, in all these and the like cases, a mistake of the transcribers, by not observing a small stroke, which in many MSS., is made to supply the מ mem, of the plural, thus, דודי dodi . דודים שירת shirath dodim is the same with ידידת שיר shir yedidoth, Psalm 45:1. In this way of understanding it we avoid the great impropriety of making the author of the song, and the person to whom it is addressed, to be the same.
In a very fruitful hill "On a high and fruitful hill" - Hebrew שמן בן בקרן bekeren ben shamen, "on a horn the son of oil." The expression is highly descriptive and poetical. "He calls the land of Israel a horn, because it is higher than all lands; as the horn is higher than the whole body; and the son of oil, because it is said to be a land flowing with milk and honey." - Kimchi on the place. The parts of animals are, by an easy metaphor, applied to parts of the earth, both in common and poetical language. A promontory is called a cape or head; the Turks call it a nose. "Dorsum immane mari summo;" Virgil, a back, or ridge of rocks: -
"Hanc latus angustum jam se cogentis in arctum
Hesperiae tenuem producit in aequora linguam,
Adriacas flexis claudit quae cornibus undas."
Lucan, 2:612, of Brundusium, i.e., Βρεντεσιον, which, in the ancient language of that country, signifies stag's head, says Strabo. A horn is a proper and obvious image for a mountain or mountainous country. Solinus, cap. viii., says, "Italiam, ubi longius processerit, in cornua duo scindi;" that is, the high ridge of the Alps, which runs through the whole length of it, divides at last into two ridges, one going through Calabria, the other through the country of the Brutii. "Cornwall is called by the inhabitants in the British tongue Kernaw, as lessening by degrees like a horn, running out into promontories like so many horns. For the Britons call a horn corn, in the plural kern." - Camden. "And Sammes is of opinion, that the country had this name originally from the Phoenicians, who traded hither for tin; keren, in their language, being a horn." - Gibson.
Here the precise idea seems to be that of a high mountain standing by itself; "vertex montis, aut pars montis ad aliis divisa;" which signification, says I. H. Michaelis, Bibl. Hallens., Not. in loc., the word has in Arabic.
Judea was in general a mountainous country, whence Moses sometimes calls it The Mountain, "Thou shalt plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance;" Exodus 15:17. "I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land beyond Jordan; that goodly mountain, and Lebanon;" Deuteronomy 3:25. And in a political and religious view it was detached and separated from all the nations round it. Whoever has considered the descriptions given of Mount Tabor, (see Reland, Palaestin.; Eugene Roger, Terre Sainte, p. 64), and the views of it which are to be seen in books of travels, (Maundrell, p. 114; Egmont and Heyman, vol. ii., p. 25; Thevenot, vol. i., p. 429), its regular conic form rising singly in a plain to a great height, from a base small in proportion, and its beauty and fertility to the very top, will have a good idea of "a horn the son of oil;" and will perhaps be induced to think that the prophet took his image from that mountain.
Now will I sing - This is an indication that what follows is poetic, or is adapted to be sung or chanted.
To my well-beloved - The word used here - ידיד yedı̂yd - is a term of endearment. It properly denotes a friend; a favorite; one greatly beloved. It is applied to saints as being the beloved, or the favorites of God, in Psalm 127:2; Deuteronomy 33:12. In this place, it is evidently applied to Yahweh, the God of the Jewish people. As there is some reason to believe that the God of the Jews - the manifested Deity who undertook their deliverance from Egypt, and who was revealed as “their” God under the name of ‹the Angel of the covenant‘ - was the Messiah, so it may be that the prophet here meant to refer to him. It is not, however, to the Messiah “to come.” It does not refer to the God incarnate - to Jesus of Nazareth; but to the God of the Jews, in his capacity as their lawgiver and protector in the time of Isaiah; not to him in the capacity of an incarnate Saviour.
A Song of my beloved - Lowth, ‹A song of loves,‘ by a slight change in the Hebrew. The word דוד dôd usually denotes ‹an uncle,‘ a father‘s brother. But it also means one beloved, a friend, a lover; Jeremiah 2:21; Jeremiah 12:10. Our Saviour also used this beautiful figure to denote the care and attention which God had bestowed on his people; Matthew 21:33 ff; Mark 12:1, following.
My beloved - God.
Hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill - Hebrew ‹On a horn of the son of oil.‘ The word “horn” used here in the Hebrew, denotes the “brow, apex,” or sharp point of a hill. The word is thus used in other languages to denote a hill, as in the Swiss words “shreckhorn, buchorn.” Thus “Cornwall,” in England, is called in the old British tongue “Kernaw,” as lessening by degrees, like a horn, running out into promontories, like so many horns; for the Britons called a horn “corn,” and in the plural “kern.” The term ‹horn‘ is not unfrequently applied to hills. Thus, Pococke tells us (vol. ii. p. 67), that there is a low mountain in Galilee which has both its ends raised in such a manner as to look like two mounts, which are called the ‹Horns of Hutin.‘ Harmer, however, supposes that the term is used here to denote the land of Syria, from its resemblance to the shape ofa horn; Obs. iii. 242. But the idea is, evidently, that the land on which God respresents himself as having planted his vineyard, was like an elevated hill that was adapted eminently to such a culture. It may mean either the “top” of a mountain, or a little mountain, or a “peak” divided from others. The most favorable places for vineyards were on the sides of hills, where they would be exposed to the sun. - Shaw‘s “Travels,” p. 338. Thus Virgil says:
- denique apertos
Bacchus amat colles.
‹Bacchus loves open hills;‘ “Georg.” ii. 113. The phrase, “son of oil,” is used in accordance with the Jewish custom, where “son” means descendant, relative, etc.; see the note at Matthew 1:1. Here it means that it was so fertile that it might be called the very “son of oil,” or fatness, that is, fertility. The image is poetic, and very beautiful; denoting that God had planted his people in circumstances where he had a right to expect great growth in attachment to him. It was not owing to any want of care on his part, that they were not distinguished for piety. The Chaldee renders this verse, ‹The prophet said, I will sing now to Israel, who is compared to a vineyard, the seed of Abraham my beloved: a song of my beloved to his vineyard.‘
“The Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.” Deuteronomy 32:9-12. Thus He brought the Israelites unto Himself, that they might dwell as under the shadow of the Most High. Miraculously preserved from the perils of the wilderness wandering, they were finally established in the Land of Promise as a favored nation. PK 17.1
By means of a parable, Isaiah has told with touching pathos the story of Israel's call and training to stand in the world as Jehovah's representatives, fruitful in every good work: PK 17.2
“Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching His vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and He fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a wine press therein: and He looked that it should bring forth grapes.” Isaiah 5:1, 2. PK 17.3Read in context »
For three years the Lord of light and glory had gone in and out among His people. He “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil,” binding up the brokenhearted, setting at liberty them that were bound, restoring sight to the blind, causing the lame to walk and the deaf to hear, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, and preaching the gospel to the poor. Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18; Matthew 11:5. To all classes alike was addressed the gracious call: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. GC 20.1
Though rewarded with evil for good, and hatred for His love (Psalm 109:5), He had steadfastly pursued His mission of mercy. Never were those repelled that sought His grace. A homeless wanderer, reproach and penury His daily lot, He lived to minister to the needs and lighten the woes of men, to plead with them to accept the gift of life. The waves of mercy, beaten back by those stubborn hearts, returned in a stronger tide of pitying, inexpressible love. But Israel had turned from her best Friend and only Helper. The pleadings of His love had been despised, His counsels spurned, His warnings ridiculed. GC 20.2
The hour of hope and pardon was fast passing; the cup of God's long-deferred wrath was almost full. The cloud that had been gathering through ages of apostasy and rebellion, now black with woe, was about to burst upon a guilty people; and He who alone could save them from their impending fate had been slighted, abused, rejected, and was soon to be crucified. When Christ should hang upon the cross of Calvary, Israel's day as a nation favored and blessed of God would be ended. The loss of even one soul is a calamity infinitely outweighing the gains and treasures of a world; but as Christ looked upon Jerusalem, the doom of a whole city, a whole nation, was before Him—that city, that nation, which had once been the chosen of God, His peculiar treasure. GC 20.3Read in context »
The priests and rulers were unwilling to bear these searching truths; they remained silent, however, hoping that Jesus would say something which they could turn against Him; but they had still more to bear. DA 596.1
“Hear another parable,” Christ said: “There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?” DA 596.2
Jesus addressed all the people present; but the priests and rulers answered. “He will miserably destroy those wicked men,” they said, “and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” The speakers had not at first perceived the application of the parable, but they now saw that they had pronounced their own condemnation. In the parable the householder represented God, the vineyard the Jewish nation, and the hedge the divine law which was their protection. The tower was a symbol of the temple. The lord of the vineyard had done everything needful for its prosperity. “What could have been done more to my vineyard,” he says, “that I have not done in it?” Isaiah 5:4. Thus was represented God's unwearied care for Israel. And as the husbandmen were to return to the lord a due proportion of the fruits of the vineyard, so God's people were to honor Him by a life corresponding to their sacred privileges. But as the husbandmen had killed the servants whom the master sent to them for fruit, so the Jews had put to death the prophets whom God sent to call them to repentance. Messenger after messenger had been slain. Thus far the application of the parable could not be questioned, and in what followed it was not less evident. In the beloved son whom the lord of the vineyard finally sent to his disobedient servants, and whom they seized and slew, the priests and rulers saw a distinct picture of Jesus and His impending fate. Already they were planning to slay Him whom the Father had sent to them as a last appeal. In the retribution inflicted upon the ungrateful husbandmen was portrayed the doom of those who should put Christ to death. DA 596.3Read in context »