Make the heart of this people fat "Gross" - The prophet speaks of the event, the fact as it would actually happen, not of God's purpose and act by his ministry. The prophets are in other places said to perform the thing which they only foretell: -
"Lo! I have given thee a charge this day
Over the nations, and over the kingdoms;
To pluck up, and to pull down;
To destroy, and to demolish;
To build, and to plant."
And Ezekiel says, "When I came to destroy the city," that is, as it is rendered in the margin of our version, "when I came to prophesy that the city should be destroyed;" Ezekiel 43:3. To hear, and not understand; to see, and not perceive; is a common saying in many languages. Demosthenes uses it, and expressly calls it a proverb: ὡστε το της παροιμιας ὁρωντας μη ὁρᾳν, και ακουοντας μη ακουειν ; Conttra Aristogit. I., sub fin. The prophet, by the bold figure in the sentiment above mentioned, and the elegant form and construction of the sentence, has raised it from a common proverb into a beautiful mashal, and given it the sublime air of poetry.
Or the words may be understood thus, according to the Hebrew idiom: "Ye certainly hear, but do not understand; ye certainly see, but do not acknowledge." Seeing this is the case, make the heart of this people fat - declare it to be stupid and senseless; and remove from them the means of salvation, which they have so long abused.
There is a saying precisely like this in Aeschylus: -
- - - βλεποντες εβλεπον ματην,π
Κλυοντες ουκ ηκουον .
Aesch. Prom. Vinct. 456.
"Seeing, they saw in vain; and hearing, they did not understand."
And shut "Close up" - השע hasha . This word Sal. ben Melec explains to this sense, in which it is hardly used elsewhere, on the authority of Onkelos. He says it means closing up the eyes, so that one cannot see; that the root is שוע shava, by which word the Targum has rendered the word טח tach, Leviticus 14:42, בית את וטח vetach eth beith, "and shall plaster the house." And the word טח tach is used in the same sense, Isaiah 44:18. So that it signifies to close up the eyes by some matter spread upon the lids. Mr. Harmer very ingeniously applies to this passage a practice of sealing up the eyes as a ceremony, or as a kind of punishment used in the East, from which the image may possibly be taken. Observ. 2:278.
With their heart "With their hearts" - ובלבבו ubilebabo, fifteen MSS. of Kennicott's and fourteen of De Rossi's, and two editions, with the Septuagint, Syriac, Chaldee, and Vulgate.
Make the heart - The word “heart” here is used in the sense of the “mind” - to denote all their mental powers. It is commonly used in this sense in the Scriptures.
Fat - Gross, heavy, dull, stupid. That is, go and proclaim such “truth” to them as shall have this effect - as shall irritate, provoke, enrage them; truth, whose delivery shall be attended, in their gross and corrupt hearts, with this blinding and infatuating influence the effect would be produced by the corrupt state of their hearts, not by any native tendency of the truth, and still less by any direct divine influence. ‹Go, and proclaim truth to a corrupt and sensual people, and the result will be that they will not hear; they are so wicked that they will not attend to it; they will become even more hardened; yet go, and though certain of producing this effect, still proclaim it;‘ see this passage explained in the notes at John 12:40.
Their ears heavy - Dull, stupid, insensible.
And shut their eyes - The word used here means “to spread over,” and then to close. It denotes here the state of mind which is more and more indisposed to attend to the truth.
And be healed - Be restored from the malady of sin; be recovered and pardoned. Sin is often represented as a painful, loathsome malady, and forgiveness as restoration from such a malady; Isaiah 30:26; Psalm 41:3-4; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 3:22; Jeremiah 17:14. We may learn here,
(1) That the effect of truth is often to irritate people and make them more wicked.
(2) The truth must, nevertheless, be proclaimed.
This effect is not the fault of the truth; and it is often well that the heart should be known, and the true effect should be seen.
The outlook was particularly discouraging as regards the social conditions of the people. In their desire for gain, men were adding house to house and field to field. See Isaiah 5:8. Justice was perverted, and no pity was shown the poor. Of these evils God declared, “The spoil of the poor is in your houses.” “Ye beat My people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor.” Isaiah 3:14, 15. Even the magistrates, whose duty it was to protect the helpless, turned a deaf ear to the cries of the poor and needy, the widows and the fatherless. See Isaiah 10:1, 2. PK 306.1
With oppression and wealth came pride and love of display, gross drunkenness, and a spirit of revelry. See Isaiah 2:11, 12; 3:16, 18-23; Isaiah 5:22, 11, 12. And in Isaiah's day idolatry itself no longer provoked surprise. See Isaiah 2:8, 9. Iniquitous practices had become so prevalent among all classes that the few who remained true to God were often tempted to lose heart and to give way to discouragement and despair. It seemed as if God's purpose for Israel were about to fail and that the rebellious nation was to suffer a fate similar to that of Sodom and Gomorrah. PK 306.2
In the face of such conditions it is not surprising that when, during the last year of Uzziah's reign, Isaiah was called to bear to Judah God's messages of warning and reproof, he shrank from the responsibility. He well knew that he would encounter obstinate resistance. As he realized his own inability to meet the situation and thought of the stubbornness and unbelief of the people for whom he was to labor, his task seemed hopeless. Should he in despair relinquish his mission and leave Judah undisturbed to their idolatry? Were the gods of Nineveh to rule the earth in defiance of the God of heaven? PK 306.3Read in context »
The people of every country have their own peculiar, distinctive characteristics, and it is necessary that men should be wise in order that they may know how to adapt themselves to the peculiar ideas of the people, and so introduce the truth that they may do them good. They must be able to understand and meet their wants. Circumstances will arise which demand immediate action, and it will be necessary that those who are right on the field should take hold of the interest, and do the thing that is necessary to be done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Should they wait in a time of crisis for direction to come from Battle Creek as to what they should do, they might lose much. The men who are handling the work should be faithful stewards of the grace of God. They should be men of faith, and they should be encouraged to look to God, and to trust in Him. TM 213.1
Let God's workmen study the sixth chapter of Isaiah, and the first and second chapters of Ezekiel. TM 213.2Read in context »