II God's numerous and continued mercies render the Jews in their idolatry inexcusable, and unparalleled in any nation; and themselves the causes if their calamities, ver. 1-19. Their gross idolatry, ver. 20-28. Incorrigibleness, bloodshedding, and hypocrisy, ver. 29-37.
Verse 2. Go - From Anathoth to Jerusalem. Remember - I remind thee of the kindness that was between us. The love - When I entered into covenant with thee at the giving of the law. Wilderness - I took such care of thee, in the howling wilderness, a land that was not sown.
Verse 3. Holiness - A people dedicated to God. As - As the first fruits were holy to God, so was Israel. Devour - All that were injurious to him. Offend - Were liable to punishment. Evil - Evil was inflicted on them from the Lord, as upon the Egyptians, Amalekites, Midianites, Canaanites.
Verse 5. Vanity - idols. Vain - Fools; senseless as the stocks and stones that they made their idols of.
Verse 6. Neither - They never concerned themselves about what God had done for them, which should have engaged them to cleave to him. Of drought - Where they had no water but by miracle. Death - Bringing forth nothing that might support life, therefore nothing but death could be expected; and besides, yielding so many venomous creatures, as many enemies that they went in continual danger of. No man dwelt - As having in it no accommodation for travelers, much less for habitation.
Verse 7. My land - Consecrated to my name; by your idols and many other abominations.
Verse 8. They - They that should have taught others, knew as little as they, or regarded as little, who are said here to handle the law, the priests and Levites, who were the ordinary teachers of the law. Pastors - Either teachers, or kings and princes. Prophets - They that should have taught the people the true worship of God, were themselves worshippers of Baal.
Verse 9. Plead - By his judgments, and by his prophets, as he did with their fathers, that they may be left without excuse. Children - God often visits the iniquities of the parents upon the children, when they imitate their parents.
Verse 10. Of Chittim - All the isles in the Mediterranean sea, with the neighbouring coasts; for the Hebrew call all people, that separated from them by the sea, islanders, because they came to them by shipping. Kedar - Arabia that lay east-southeast of Judea, as Chittim did more north or northwest; go from north to south, east to west, and make the experiment; look to Chittim the most civilized, or Kedar the most barbarous, yet neither have changed their gods.
Verse 11. Their glory - The true God, who was their glory; and who always did them good, giving them cause to glory in him.
Verse 12. O ye heavens - A pathetical expression, intimating that it is such a thing, that the very inanimate creatures, could they be sensible of it, would be astonished. Be desolate - Lose your brightness, as the sun seemed to do when Christ suffered.
Verse 13. Of living waters - A metaphor taken from springs, called living, because they never cease, or intermit; such had God's care and kindness been over them. Cisterns - Either their idols, which are empty vain things, that never answer expectation, or the Assyrians, and Egyptians. Indeed all other supports, that are trusted to besides God, are but broken vessels.
Verse 14. A slave - Slave is here added to home-born to express the baseness of his service, because the master had power to make those slaves who were born of slaves in his house. Why - Why is he thus tyrannized over, as if strangers had the same right over him as owners over their slaves?
Verse 15. Lions - Understand the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians, called lions from their fierceness, and young from their strength. Yelled - Noting the terrible voice that the lion puts forth, either in seizing the prey, or devouring it.
Verse 16. Noph, &c. - Two of the kings of Egypt's principal seats. Noph was sometimes called Memphis, now Cairo. Tahapanes probably took its name from Taphanes queen of Egypt, 1 Kings xi, 19, called also Hanes: Isaiah xxx, 4. The inhabitants of these cities are called here their children.
Verse 17. When - By the conduct of providence in the wilderness, keeping thee from all dangers.
Verse 18. And now - What business hast thou there? Sihor - The Nile: it signifies black, called Melas by the Greeks, either from the blackness of the land it passed through, or of the soil it casts up. The waters - Here and by the same words before is meant, to seek help from either place. River - Euphrates, often called so by way of eminency.
Verse 19. Thy wickedness - Thy own wickedness is the cause of thy correction. Know - Consider well, and thou canst not but be convinced.
Verse 20. Broken - The bondage and tyranny that thou wert under in old time in Egypt, as also divers times besides. Tree - Under these shades idolaters thought there lay some hiddendeity. Wanderest - The word properly signifies, making hast from one tree to another, or from one idol to another. Playing - Committing idolatry, which is a spiritual harlotry, chap. iii, 1, 2.
Verse 21. A right seed - A right seed of true believers.
Verse 22. Nitre - Though interpreters do greatly vary in describing what is particularly meant here by Nitre and Soap, and would be superfluous to mention here; yet all agree, they are some materials that artists make use of for cleansing away spots from the skin. The blot of this people is by no art to be taken out; nor expiated by sacrifices; it is beyond the power of all natural and artificial ways of cleansing. Marked - Thy filthiness is so foul that it leaves a brand behind which cannot be hid or washed out, but will abide, chap. xvii, 1.
Verse 23. Baalim - The word is plural, as comprehensive of all their idols. Thy way - The filthiness thou hast left behind thee, whereby thou mayst be traced. Valley - Whether of Hinnom where they burnt their children in sacrifice, or in any valleys where thou hast been frequent in thy idolatries. Traversing - A metaphor taken from creatures that are hunted, that keep no direct path.
Verse 24. A wild ass - Another similitude for the more lively description of the same thing. The wind - This creature, by the wind, smells afar off which way her male is. In her occasion - That is, when she has an occasion to run impetuously to her male, she bears down all opposition. In her month - Perhaps the sense is, though Jerusalem be now madly bent upon going after her idols, that there is no stopping her, yet the time may come, in their afflictions, that they may grow more tame, and willing to receive counsel.
Verse 25. Withhold - Take not those courses that will reduce thee to poverty, to go bare foot, and to want wherewith to quench thy thirst. No hope - We care not since there is no remedy. Strangers - idols.
Verse 26. Found - Not ashamed of his sin of theft, but that he is at last found.
Verse 27. Brought me forth - Or begotten me; so is the word used, Gen. iv, 18. This denotes the sottish stupidity of this people, to take a lifeless stock or stone to be their maker, and to give the honour of God unto them, Isaiah xliv, 17. Turned - They turn their faces towards their idols.
Verse 28. For - Thou hast enough of them, imitating the Heathens, who had, according to Varro, above thirty thousand deities. Make trial if any, or all of them together, can help thee.
Verse 30. Children - Your inhabitants in every city, they being frequently called the children of such a city. Correction - Instruction: though they were corrected, yet they would not be instructed. Your sword - You have been so far from receiving instruction, that you have, by the sword, and other ways of destruction, murdered those that I have sent to reprove you.
Verse 31. O generation - O ye men of this generation. See - You shall see the thing with your eyes, because your ears are shut against it. A wilderness - Have I been like the wilderness of Arabia, have not I accommodated you with all necessaries? A land of darkness - As it were a land uninhabitable, because of the total want of light. Have I been a God of no use or comfort to them, that they thus leave me? Have they had nothing from me but misery and affliction? We - Words of pride and boasting.
Verse 32. A maid - How unlikely is it, that a maid should forget her ornaments? A bride - Those jewels which the bridegroom was wont to present his bride with. Forgotten - In the neglect of my worship; me, who was not only their defense, but their glory.
Verse 33. Trimmest - Or, deckest, Ezek xxiii, 40, thinking thereby to entice others to thy help. Taught - Nations that have been vile enough of themselves, by thy example are become more vile.
Verse 34. Skirts - Of thy garments: the tokens of cruelty may be seen openly there. Innocents - In thee is found the murder expressed here by blood of innocent persons, murdering souls as well as bodies. Search - Hebrew. by digging; as if the earth had covered the blood, or as if they had committed their wickedness in some obscure places. These - Upon thy garments, exposed openly to publick view.
Verse 35. Behold - I will proceed in my judgment against thee. Because - Because thou justifiest thyself.
Verse 36. Why - Why dost thou seek auxiliaries anywhere, rather than cleave to me? Ashamed - Egypt shall stand thee in no more stead than Assyria hath done.
Verse 37. Yea - All the help thou canst procure shall not prevent thy captivity, but from hence thou shalt go. Thy hands - An usual posture of mourning.