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Isaiah 1:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Ah sinful nation "Degenerate" - Five MSS., one of them ancient, read משחתים moschathim, without the first י yod, in hophal corrupted, not corrupters. See the same word in the same form, and in the same sense, Proverbs 25:26.

Are corrupters "Are estranged" - Thirty-two MSS., five ancient, and two editions, read נזורו nazoru ; which reading determines the word to be from the root זור zur, to alienate, not from נזר nazar, to separate; so Kimchi understands it. See also Annotat. in Noldium, 68.

They are gone away backward "They have turned their backs upon him" - So Kimchi explains it:" they have turned unto him the back and not the face." See Jeremiah 2:27; Jeremiah 7:24. I have been forced to render this line paraphrastically; as the verbal translation, "they are estranged backward," would have been unintelligible.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Ah! sinful nation - The word rendered ‹ah!‘ - הוי hôy - is not a mere exclamation, expressing astonishment. It is rather an interjection denouncing threatening, or punishment. ‹Wo to the sinful nation.‘ Vulgate, ‹Vae genti peccatrici.‘ The corruption pertained to the nation, and not merely to a part. It had become general.

Laden with iniquity - The word translated “laden” - כבד kebed - denotes properly anything “heavy,” or burdensome; from כבד kâbad “to be heavy.” It means that they were oppressed, and borne down with the “weight” of their sins. Thus we say, Sin sits “heavy” on the conscience. Thus Cain said, ‹My punishment is greater than I can bear;‘ Genesis 4:13. The word is applied to an “employment” as being burdensome; Exodus 18:18: ‹This thing is too “heavy” for thee.‘ Numbers 11:14: ‹I am not able to bear eli this people alone; it is too “heavy” for me.‘ It is applied also to a “famine,” as being heavy, severe, distressing. Genesis 12:10: ‹For the famine was “grievous” (כבד kâbed heavy) in the land;‘ Genesis 41:31. It is also applied to “speech,” as being heavy, dull, unintelligible. Exodus 4:10: ‹I am slow (heavy כבד kebad ) of speech, and of a slow (heavy כבד kebad ) tongue.‘ It is not applied to sin in the Scriptures, except in this place, or except in the sense of making atonement for it. The idea however, is very striking - that of a nation - an entire people, bowed and crushed under the enormous weight of accumulated crimes. To pardon iniquity, or to atone for it, is represented by bearing it, as if it were a heavy burden. Exodus 28:38, Exodus 28:43, ‹That Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things.‘ Leviticus 10:17: ‹God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation.‘ Leviticus 22:9; Leviticus 16:22; Numbers 18:1; Isaiah 53:6: ‹Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.‘ Isaiah 53:11: ‹He shall bear their iniquities.‘ 1 Peter 2:24: ‹Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.‘

A seed - זרע zera‛ from זרע zâra‛ to sow, to scatter, to disperse. It is applied to seed sown in a field; Judges 6:3; Genesis 1:11-12; Genesis 47:23; to plants set out, or engrafted; or to planting, or transplanting a nation. Isaiah 17:10: ‹And thou shalt set it (תזרענוּ tizerâ‛enû shalt sow, or plant it) with strange slips.‘ Hence, it is applied to children, posterity, descendants, from the resemblance to seed sown, and to a harvest springing up, and spreading. The word is applied by way of eminence to the Jews, as being the seed or posterity of Abraham, according to the promise that his seed should be as the stars of heaven; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15-16; Genesis 15:5, Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:7, …

Children - Hebrew sons - the same word that is used in Isaiah 1:2. They were the adopted people or sons of God, but they had now become corrupt.

That are corrupters -

d mashchiytiym - משׁחיתים mashechı̂ythı̂ym from שׁחת shachath to destroy, to lay waste, as an invading army does a city or country; Joshua 22:33; Genesis 19:13. To destroy a vineyard; Jeremiah 12:10. To break down walls; Ezekiel 26:4. Applied to conduct, it means to destroy, or lay waste virtuous principles; to break down the barriers to vice; to corrupt the morals. Genesis 6:12: ‹And God looked upon the earth, and it was corrupt - נשׁחתה nı̂shechâthâh for all flesh had corrupted his way - השׁחית hı̂shechı̂yth - upon the earth;‘ Deuteronomy 4:16; Deuteronomy 31:29; Judges 2:19. They were not merely corrupt themselves, but they corrupted others by their example. This is always the case. When people become infidels and profligates themselves, they seek to make as many more as possible. The Jews did this by their wicked lives. The same charge is often brought against them; see Judges 2:12; Zephaniah 3:7.

They have provoked - Hebrew נאצוּ nı̂'ătsû ‹They have despised the Holy One;‘ compare Proverbs 1:30; Proverbs 5:12; Proverbs 15:5. Vulgate, ‹They have blasphemed.‘ Septuagint, παρωργίσατε parōrgisate ‹You have provoked him to anger.‘ The meaning is, that they had so despised him, as to excite his indignation.

The Holy One of Israel - God; called the Holy One of Israel because he was revealed to them as their God, or they were taught to regard him as the sacred object of their worship.

They are gone away backward - Lowth: ‹They have turned their backs upon him.‘ The word rendered “they are gone away,” נזרוּ nâzorû from זור zûr means properly, to become estranged; to be alienated. Job 19:13: ‹Mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.‘ It means especially that declining from God, or that alienation, which takes place when people commit sin; Psalm 78:30.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Isaiah signifies, "The salvation of the Lord;" a very suitable name for this prophet, who prophesies so much of Jesus the Saviour, and his salvation. God's professing people did not know or consider that they owed their lives and comforts to God's fatherly care and kindness. How many are very careless in the affairs of their souls! Not considering what we do know in religion, does us as much harm, as ignorance of what we should know. The wickedness was universal. Here is a comparison taken from a sick and diseased body. The distemper threatens to be mortal. From the sole of the foot even to the head; from the meanest peasant to the greatest peer, there is no soundness, no good principle, no religion, for that is the health of the soul. Nothing but guilt and corruption; the sad effects of Adam's fall. This passage declares the total depravity of human nature. While sin remains unrepented, nothing is done toward healing these wounds, and preventing fatal effects. Jerusalem was exposed and unprotected, like the huts or sheds built up to guard ripening fruits. These are still to be seen in the East, where fruits form a large part of the summer food of the people. But the Lord had a small remnant of pious servants at Jerusalem. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed. The evil nature is in every one of us; only Jesus and his sanctifying Spirit can restore us to spiritual health.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1137

1 (Hebrews 11:37). Isaiah Was Sawn Asunder—Isaiah, who was permitted by the Lord to see wonderful things, was sawn asunder, because he faithfully reproved the sins of the Jewish nation. The prophets who came to look after the Lord's vineyard, were indeed beaten and killed. “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented”—men of whom the world was not worthy. They were cruelly treated, and banished from the world (The Signs of the Times, February 17, 1898). 4BC 1137.1

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1137

1 (Hebrews 11:37). Isaiah Was Sawn Asunder—Isaiah, who was permitted by the Lord to see wonderful things, was sawn asunder, because he faithfully reproved the sins of the Jewish nation. The prophets who came to look after the Lord's vineyard, were indeed beaten and killed. “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented”—men of whom the world was not worthy. They were cruelly treated, and banished from the world (The Signs of the Times, February 17, 1898). 4BC 1137.1

Read in context »