The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

ISAIAH 1:4-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 24, 2007

ISAIAH 1:4-9
Vs 4. “woe, sinful nation, a people burdened down by iniquity, offspring of sinners, sons of corruption! They have forsaken Yahweh, and scorned the holy one of Israel. They have gone away backward.”

Described as Israel in verse 3 (a name that relates them to God) they are here simply called a sinful nation. In verse 2 they were described as sons (of God), and in verse 3 as My (God’s) people. But here in verse 4 the relation ship is shown as broken. Now they are refered to as offspring and sons of evil and corruption. Notice that the possesive “my” has become the distant “them”. What they wanted in verse 3– not to know God–they have gotten. God no longer knows them in a personal way.

Verse 4 also contains a word play in Hebrew. The word iniquity in Heb means literally to be bent backward. It denotes perversity. The people “burdened down by iniquity” (bent backwardness, a state of perversity), have “gone away backward” from God. Their sins have led to apostasy. Their rebellion is complete (vs 2).

Vs 5-6. There is now nowhere for you to be further struck, yet you revolt again and again. From the bottom of your feet, to the very top of your head there is no undamaged place, only wounds and welts and sores; they have not been closed, nor bandaged, nor soothed with oil.

We’ve seen that the people have seperated themselves from God as their father (vss 2-3); and that God has seperated himself from them as his children (vs 4). Now, in verses 5-6, we see God thru the prophet describe the people in terms of a rebellious slave. This of course relates to the family seperation theme and the theme of rebellion mentioned in vs 2. Yet it also continues the theme of senselessness alluded to in vs 3 (the senseless beasts). A slave who has been beaten so frequently that his wounds not only do not heal, but also cover every inch of his body, has no sense at all.

Vss 7-9. (7)”Your land is laid to waste, fire burns you cities; foreigners consume your land before your very eyes; it is waste, overthrown by aliens. (8)And Daughter Zion stands lonely, like a hut in a vineyard, like a shack in a cucmber patch, like a city under siege. (9)Had not the Lord of Hosts (armies) left us as a remnant, we would be as Sodom; we would be like Gomorrah.”

These verses relate to vss 5 and 6. The southern kingdom of Judah is like the slave that has been beaten over and over again. The beating has been military invasion and the desolation it brings. What event is being refered to here is slightly debated by scholars.

There were three invasions of the kingdom in the prophets day. The first is called the Syro-Ephraimite war of 735-732 BC. This event saw Syria (also called Damascus or Aram) and the northern kingdom of Israel (Ephraim) invade Judah. They wanted that kingdom to enter into an alliance with them against the growing might of Assyria. Ahaz, king of Judah, refused and was attacked. The plan was to install a puppet king to replace him. Ahaz appealed to Assyria for help. That kingdom invaded and destroyed Syria and reduced both Israel (north) and Judah (south) to vassalage, forcing them to pay heavy tribute (see Is. 7-8; 2 Kings 16; 2 Chron 28:16-27). Some think this is the event being refered to here.

The second invasion took place when Assyria, under Sargon, invaded in 712 BC.

The third invasion was in 701 BC, near the end of the prophets career. This too was by the Assyrians under Sennacherib. When Sqargon II died in 705, several of its vassal kingdoms, including Judah under Hezekiah, rebelled. The new king Sennacherib advanced and reduced most of the rebel kingdoms. In 701 BC he invaded Judah and laid much of the land and cities to waste. He laid siege to the Jerusalem but, as the prophet had predicted, the holy city was saved. See 2 Kings 18-19; Is 36-38; 2 Chron 32. Most scholars think it is this event being spoken of in Is 1.

The land being laid waste and invasion by foreign armies are two of the curses threatened against the people for breaking the covenant. See Deut 28:16-69.

The symbol of the hut in a vineyard or vegetable patch is quaint, like a picture you might see on a calender. That is, if you forget the fact that the land is wasted. It was common for Jewish farmers at harvest and vintage time to construct huts in their fields. This was probably to protect the harvested fruit. As the harvest proceeded the once quaint scene would turn ugly as the land began to look more and more desolate because of the disappearing fruit and greenery. It is this bleak image that the prophet is playing with.

657px-syro-ephraimite_war.jpg A map of the Syro-Ephraimite War.

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