Isaiah 56


Whoever would partake of the blessings of the Gospel is

required to be holy in all manner of life and conversation.

And he that will be so is declared to be accepted according to

this gracious dispensation, the blessings of which are large as

the human race, without any respect to persons or to nations,


At the ninth verse begins a different subject, or new section

of prophecy. It opens with calling on the enemies of the Jews,

(the Chaldeans, or perhaps the Romans,) as beasts of prey

against them, for the sins of their rulers, teachers, and other

profane people among them, whose guilt drew down judgments on

the nation, 9-12.


Verse 2. That keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it] Kimchi has

an excellent note here. "The Sabbath is sanctified when it is

distinguished in dignity; and separated from other days. 1. As

to the body, in meat, drink, and clean clothing. 2. As to the

soul, that it be empty of worldly occupations, and be busily

employed in the words of the law and wisdom, and in meditation on

the works of the Lord." The rabbins say, "Jerusalem had never been

destroyed, had not the Sabbaths been profaned in it."

Verse 5. I will give them an everlasting name] For lo, him,

in the singular, it is evident that we ought to read lamo,

them, in the plural: so read the Septuagint, Syriac, Chaldee, and


Verse 6. The sons of the stranger] The Gentiles.

That join themselves to the Lord] Who shall enter into the

Christian covenant by baptism and faith in Christ, as the Jews and

proselytes did by circumcision.

To serve him] To live according to the Gospel, and ever do that

which is right in the sight of the Lord.

To love the name of the Lord] The name of JESUS, the Christ, the

Saviour of sinners, the Anointed of God, and the Giver of the Holy

Spirit to his followers.

To be his servants] To worship no other God but JEHOVAH, and to

trust in none for salvation but his CHRIST.

That keepeth the Sabbath] That observes it as a type of the rest

that remains for the people of God.

And taketh hold of my covenant] biberithi, "of my

covenant sacrifice;" as without this he can do nothing good; and

without it nothing can be acceptable to the infinite majesty of

the Most High.

Verse 7. Shall be accepted] A word is here lost out of the text:

it is supplied from the Septuagint, yihyu, εσονται,

"they shall be."-Houbigant.

Verse 9. All ye beasts of the field] Here manifestly begins a

new section. The prophet in the foregoing chapters, having

comforted the faithful Jews with many great promises of God's

favour to be extended to them, in the restoration of their ruined

state, and in the enlargement of his Church by the admission of

the Gentiles; here on a sudden makes a transition to the more

disagreeable part of the prospect, and to a sharp reproof of the

wicked and unbelievers; and especially of the negligent and

faithless governors and teachers, of the idolaters and hypocrites,

who would still draw down his judgments upon the nation. Probably

having in view the destruction of their city and polity by the

Chaldeans, and perhaps by the Romans. The same subject is

continued in the next chapter; in which the charge of corruption

and apostasy becomes more general against the whole Jewish Church.

Some expositors have made great difficulties in the 9th verse of

this chapter, where there seems to be none. It is perfectly well

explained by Jeremiah, Jer 12:7, 9, where, having introduced God

declaring his purpose of punishing his people, by giving them up

as a prey to their enemies the Chaldeans, a charge to these his

agents is given in words very nearly the same with those of Isaiah

in this place:-

"I have forsaken my house; I have deserted my heritage;

I have given up the beloved of my soul into the hands of her


Come away, be gathered together, all ye beasts of the field;

Come away to devour."

All ye beasts in the forest-"All ye beasts of the forest."]

Instead of baiyaar, three MSS. have yaar, without

the preposition; which seems to be right, and is confirmed by ali

the ancient Versions.

Verse 10. His watchmen are blind] Kimchi observes, "The flock

is intrusted to the care of these watchmen. The wild beasts come;

these dogs bark not; and the wild beasts devour the flock. Thus

they do not profit the flock. Yea, they injure it; for the owner

trusts in them, that they will watch and be faithful; but they are

not. These are the false teachers and careless shepherds."

Dumb dogs, they cannot bark] See Clarke on Isa 62:6.

Sleeping-"Dreamers"] hozim, ενυπνιαζομενοι,

Septuagint. This seems to be the best authority for the meaning

of this word, which occurs only in this place: but it is to be

observed, that eleven MSS. of Kennicott's and De Rossi's, and four

editions, have chazim, seers, or those who see; and so the

Vulgate seems to have read, videntes vana, "seeing vain things."

Loving to slumber.] lanum: but six of Kennicott's and

seven of De Rossi's MSS. read lanus, to fly, "to change

their residence:" but what connexion such reading can have with

the sense of the passage, I cannot discern. What is taken for

samech here is, I have no doubt, a narrow formed final mem,

which has been mistaken for the above. Many instances occur in my

own MSS., where the final mem is similar to the samech; and

yet no such change was intended by the scribe.

Verse 11. Greedy dogs] Insatiably feeding themselves with the

fat, and clothing themselves with the wool, while the flock is

scattered, ravaged, and starved! O what an abundance of these dumb

and greedy dogs are there found hanging on and prowling about the

flock of Christ! How can any careless, avaricious, hireling

minister read this without agitation and dismay?

Verse 12. I will fetch wine-"Let us provide wine"] For

ekchah, first person singular, an ancient MS. has nikchah,

first person plural; and another ancient MS. has ak upon a

rasure. So the Syriac, Chaldee, and Vulgate render it. The spirit

of this epicurean sentiment is this: Let us indulge ourselves in

the present time to the utmost, and instead of any gloomy

forebodings of the future, let us expect nothing but increasing

hilarity for every day we shall live. Thus they,

"Counting on long years of pleasure here,

Are quite unfurnished for the world to come."

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