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Introduction

\\INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH\\

This book is called, in the New Testament, sometimes "the Book of the
Words of the Prophet Esaias", \\#Lu 3:4\\ sometimes only the "Prophet
Esaias", \\#Ac 8:28,30\\ and sometimes, as here, the "Book of the
Prophet Esaias", \\#Lu 4:17\\. In the Syriac version the title is, "the
Prophecy of Isaiah the Son of Amos": and in the Arabic version, "the
Beginning of the Prophecy of Isaiah the Prophet". It stands first of all
the prophets; though the order of the prophets, according to the Jews
{a}, is, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve. But it is here
placed first, not because Isaiah prophesied before the other prophets;
for Joel, Jonah, Hosea, and Amos, begun before him, namely, in or
before the days of Jeroboam the Second; but because of the excellency
of the matter contained in it. Isaiah is called by Ben Syra {b} the
great prophet, and by Eusebius {c} the greatest of the prophets; and
Jerom {d} a says, he should rather be called an evangelist than a
prophet, since he seems rather to write a history of things past, than
to prophesy of things to come; yea, he styles him an apostle, as well
as an evangelist {e}: and certain it is that no one writes so fully and
clearly of the person, offices, grace, and kingdom of Christ; of his
incarnation and birth of a virgin; of his sufferings and death, and the
glory that should follow, as he does. John, the forerunner of Christ,
began his ministry with a passage out of him concerning himself,
\\#Mt 3:3 Mr 1:3 Lu 3:4 Joh 1:23\\. Our Lord preached his first sermon
at Nazareth out of this book, \\#Lu 4:17-21\\ and it was in this the
eunuch was reading when Philip came up to him, who from the same
Scripture preached to him Christ, \\#Ac 8:28-35\\. And there are more
citations in the New Testament made out of this prophecy than any other
book, excepting the book of Psalms, as Musculus observes. To which may
be added, as another reason, the elegance and sublimity of his style in
which he exceeds the greatest of orators, Demosthenes among the Greeks,
and Tully among the Romans; and this is observed both by Jews and
Christians. Abarbinel {f} says, that the purity, and elegance of his
diction is like that of kings and counsellors, who speak more purely
and elegantly than other men: hence their Rabbins, he says, compare
Isaiah to a citizen, and Ezekiel to a countryman. And Jerom {g}
observes, that Isaiah is so eloquent and polite, that there is nothing
of rusticity in his language; and that his style is so florid, that a
translation cannot preserve it. Moreover, another reason of this book
being placed first may be the bulk of it; it being larger, and
containing more chapters, than any of the greater prophets, and almost
as many as all the lesser prophets put together. That Isaiah was the
writer of this book is not to be questioned; many of the prophecies in
it are by name ascribed to him, \\#Mt 13:14 15:7 Joh 12:39\\
\\#Ro 10:20,21\\ though some others might be the compilers of it,
collect his prophecies, and digest them in order: so the Jews say {h},
that Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah At what time, and in
whose days he prophesied, may be learnt from \\#Isa 1:1\\ by which it
appears that he prophesied long, and lived to a good old age. He began
to prophesy about A. M. 3236, and about seven hundred and seventy years
before Christ. Abulpharagius, an Arabic writer, says {i}, he lived an
hundred and twenty years, eighty five of which he prophesied. It is a
generally received tradition with the Jews, that he lived to the time
of Manasseh, and that he was sawn asunder by him; and which has been
embraced by the ancient Christian writers, and is thought to be
referred to in \\#Heb 11:37\\.
\\See Gill on "He 11:37"\\.
But Aben Ezra on \\#Isa 1:1\\ observes, that had he lived to the time
of Manasseh, it would have been written, and is of opinion that he died
in Hezekiah's time. According to the Cippi Hebraici {k}, he was buried
at Tekoah, over whose grave a beautiful monument was erected; though
Epiphanius {l}, or the author of the Lives of the Prophets that go by
his name, says he was buried under the oak of Rogel, near the fountain
of Siloam; and it is a tradition with the Syriac writers, that his body
lay hid in the waters of Siloah; \\see Gill on "Joh 5:4"\\ but these
are things not to be depended on; and alike fabulous are all other
writings ascribed to him, besides this prophecy; as what are called the
ascension of Isaiah, the vision of Isaiah, and the conference of
Isaiah. This book contains some things historical, but chiefly
prophetic; of which some relate to the punishment of the Jews, and
other nations; but for the most part are evangelical, and concern the
kingdom and grace of Christ; of which some are delivered out more
clearly and perspicuously, and others more obscurely, under the type of
the deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity.

{a} T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2.
{b} Ecclesiasticus, ch. xlviii. ver. 22.
{c} Demonstrat, Evangel. l. 5. c. 4. inscript. p. 225.
{d} Adv. Ruffinum, fol. 76. D. tom. 2. ad Paulam & Eustechium, fol. 8.
M. tom. 3.
{e} Prooem. in Es. fol. 2. B. tom. 5.
{f} Comment. in Proph. Poster. fol. 1. 2.
{g} Ad Paulam, ut supra, (& Eustechium, fol. 8. M. tom. 3.)
{h} T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 15. 1.
{i} Hist. Dynast. p. 43.
{k} P. 11. Ed. Hottinger.
{l} De Vitis Prophet. c. 7. & Isidor. Hispalens. de Vit. & Mort. Sanct.
c. 37.

\\INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 1\\

This chapter, after the inscription, contains a charge of aggravated
sin against the Jews; God's rejection of their ceremonial sacrifices
and service; an exhortation to repentance and obedience, with a promise
of pardon; a restoration from their sad estate; a prophecy of their
restoration to a better; and of the destruction of idolatrous sinners.
The inscription is in \\#Isa 1:1\\ in which are the title of the
prophecy, a vision; the writer of it described by his name, his
descent, and the times in which he prophesied; and the subject of the
prophecy is Judah and Jerusalem. The charge against the Jews is
rebellion against the Lord, and the heavens and earth are called as
witnesses of it; which is aggravated by the relation they stood in to
God, and by the favours bestowed upon them, \\#Isa 1:2\\ by their more
than brutish stupidity, \\#Isa 1:3\\ by the multitude of their sins,
which were of a provoking nature, \\#Isa 1:4\\ by the uselessness of
chastisements, the whole body of the people, from the highest to the
lowest, being afflicted without being the better for it, and so
generally depraved, that no regard was had to any means of reformation,
\\#Isa 1:5,6\\ and by the desolation it brought upon them, which is
illustrated by several similes, \\#Isa 1:7,8\\ and by the grace and
goodness of God in reserving a few, or otherwise they must have been
for their punishment, as they were for their sins, like Sodom and
Gomorrah, \\#Isa 1:9\\ wherefore both rulers and people are called upon
under those names to hearken to the law of God, and not trust in and
depend upon their sacrifices and other rites of the ceremonial law,
together with their hypocritical prayers; all which were abominable to
the Lord, since they were guilty of such dreadful immoralities,
\\#Isa 1:11-15\\ when they are exhorted to repentance for sin, to the
obedience of faith, and washing in the blood of Christ, whereby their
crimson and scarlet sins would become as white as wool and snow,
otherwise destruction must be expected, \\#Isa 1:16-20\\ and then a
lamentation is taken up concerning the deplorable state of Jerusalem,
representing the difference between what it was now, and what it was
formerly, and the sad degeneracy of the people, rulers, and judges,
\\#Isa 1:21-23\\ upon which the Lord foretells what he thought to do:
to avenge himself of his enemies; to purge his church and people; to
restore them to their former uprightness and integrity; and to redeem
them with judgment and righteousness, \\#Isa 1:24-27\\ and the chapter
is concluded with a denunciation of utter destruction upon wicked men,
who are described and pointed at as idolaters; which will cover them
with shame and confusion, \\#Isa 1:28,29\\ and which is illustrated by
the fading of the leaves of an oak, and by a garden parched with
drought, \\#Isa 1:30\\ and it is suggested that it will be by burning
with fire unquenchable, \\#Isa 1:31\\.