Isaiah 1

Listen to Isaiah 1
1 The 1vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem 2in the days of 3Uzziah, 4Jotham, 5Ahaz, and 6Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

The Wickedness of Judah

2 7Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O 8earth; for the LORD has spoken: "Children[a]9have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox 10knows its owner, and the donkey its master's crib, but Israel does 11not know, my people do not understand."
4 Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, 12offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have 13despised 14the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly 15estranged.
5 Why will you still be 16struck down? Why will you 17continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
6 18From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are 19not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.
7 20Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
8 And 21the daughter of Zion is left like a 22booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.
9 23If the LORD of hosts had not left us 24a few survivors, we should have been like 25Sodom, and become like 26Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching[b] of our God, you people of 27Gomorrah!
11 28"What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.
12 "When you come to 29appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts?
13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. 30New moon and Sabbath and the 31calling of convocations-- I cannot endure 32iniquity and 33solemn assembly.
14 Your 34new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you 35spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; 36even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; 37your hands are full of blood.
16 38Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; 39cease to do evil,
17 learn to do good; 40seek justice, correct oppression; 41bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.
18 "Come now, 42let us reason[c] together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as 43white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
19 44If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;
20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; 45for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

The Unfaithful City

21 How the faithful city 46has become a whore,[d] 47she who was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.
22 48Your silver has become dross, your best wine mixed with water.
23 Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone 49loves a bribe and runs after gifts. 50They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow's cause does not come to them.
24 Therefore the 51Lord declares, the LORD of hosts, the 52Mighty One of Israel: "Ah, I will get relief from my enemies 53and avenge myself on my foes.
25 54I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your 55dross as with lye and remove all your alloy.
26 And I will restore your judges 56as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward 57you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city."
27 58Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
28 59But rebels and sinners shall be broken together, and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
29 60For they[e] shall be ashamed of 61the oaks that you desired; and you shall blush for 62the gardens that you have chosen.
30 For you shall be 63like an oak whose leaf withers, and like a garden without water.
31 And the strong shall become 64tinder, and his work a spark, and both of them shall burn together, with 65none to quench them.

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Isaiah 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

Isaiah prophesied in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. He has been well called the evangelical prophet, on account of his numerous and full prophesies concerning the coming and character, the ministry and preaching, the sufferings and death of the Messiah, and the extent and continuance of his kingdom. Under the veil of the deliverance from Babylon, Isaiah points to a much greater deliverance, which was to be effected by the Messiah; and seldom does he mention the one, without alluding at the same time to the other; nay, he is often so much enraptured with the prospect of the more distant deliverance, as to lose sight of that which was nearer, and to dwell on the Messiah's person, office, character, and kingdom.

The corruptions prevailing among the Jews. (1-9) Severe censures. (10-15) Exhortations to repentance. (16-20) The state of Judah is lamented; with gracious promises of the gospel times. (21-31)

Verses 1-9 Isaiah signifies, "The salvation of the Lord;" a very suitable name for this prophet, who prophesies so much of Jesus the Saviour, and his salvation. God's professing people did not know or consider that they owed their lives and comforts to God's fatherly care and kindness. How many are very careless in the affairs of their souls! Not considering what we do know in religion, does us as much harm, as ignorance of what we should know. The wickedness was universal. Here is a comparison taken from a sick and diseased body. The distemper threatens to be mortal. From the sole of the foot even to the head; from the meanest peasant to the greatest peer, there is no soundness, no good principle, no religion, for that is the health of the soul. Nothing but guilt and corruption; the sad effects of Adam's fall. This passage declares the total depravity of human nature. While sin remains unrepented, nothing is done toward healing these wounds, and preventing fatal effects. Jerusalem was exposed and unprotected, like the huts or sheds built up to guard ripening fruits. These are still to be seen in the East, where fruits form a large part of the summer food of the people. But the Lord had a small remnant of pious servants at Jerusalem. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed. The evil nature is in every one of us; only Jesus and his sanctifying Spirit can restore us to spiritual health.

Verses 10-15 Judea was desolate, and their cities burned. This awakened them to bring sacrifices and offerings, as if they would bribe God to remove the punishment, and give them leave to go on in their sin. Many who will readily part with their sacrifices, will not be persuaded to part with their sins. They relied on the mere form as a service deserving a reward. The most costly devotions of wicked people, without thorough reformation of heart and life, cannot be acceptable to God. He not only did not accept them, but he abhorred them. All this shows that sin is very hateful to God. If we allow ourselves in secret sin, or forbidden indulgences; if we reject the salvation of Christ, our very prayers will become abomination.

Verses 16-20 Not only feel sorrow for the sin committed, but break off the practice. We must be doing, not stand idle. We must be doing the good the Lord our God requires. It is plain that the sacrifices of the law could not atone, even for outward national crimes. But, blessed be God, there is a Fountain opened, in which sinners of every age and rank may be cleansed. Though our sins have been as scarlet and crimson, a deep dye, a double dye, first in the wool of original corruption, and afterwards in the many threads of actual transgression; though we have often dipped into sin, by many backslidings; yet pardoning mercy will take out the stain, ( Psalms 51:7 ) . They should have all the happiness and comfort they could desire. Life and death, good and evil, are set before us. O Lord, incline all of us to live to thy glory.

Verses 21-31 Neither holy cities nor royal ones are faithful to their trust, if religion does not dwell in them. Dross may shine like silver, and the wine that is mixed with water may still have the colour of wine. Those have a great deal to answer for, who do not help the oppressed, but oppress them. Men may do much by outward restraints; but only God works effectually by the influences of his Spirit, as a Spirit of Judgment. Sin is the worst captivity, the worst slavery. The redemption of the spiritual Zion, by the righteousness and death of Christ, and by his powerful grace, most fully accord with what is here meant. Utter ruin is threatened. The Jews should become as a tree when blasted by heat; as a garden without water, which in those hot countries would soon be burned up. Thus shall they be that trust in idols, or in an arm of flesh. Even the strong man shall be as tow; not only soon broken, and pulled to pieces, but easily catching fire. When the sinner has made himself as tow and stubble, and God makes himself as a consuming fire, what can prevent the utter ruin of the sinner?

Cross References 65

  • 1. Isaiah 6:1
  • 2. Hosea 1:1; Micah 1:1
  • 3. [2 Kings 15:1, 7]; See 2 Chronicles 26
  • 4. See 2 Kings 15:32-38; 2 Chronicles 27
  • 5. Isaiah 7:1, 3, 10, 12; Isaiah 14:28; See 2 Kings 16; 2 Chronicles 28
  • 6. See Isaiah 37:2 - 39:8; 2 Kings 18-20; 2 Chronicles 29 - 32
  • 7. Deuteronomy 32:1; [Deuteronomy 4:26]
  • 8. Micah 1:2; Micah 6:2
  • 9. [Deut. 32:6, 10, 15]
  • 10. [Jeremiah 8:7]
  • 11. [Jeremiah 8:7]
  • 12. [Matthew 3:7]
  • 13. Isaiah 5:24
  • 14. See Isaiah 31:1
  • 15. Ezekiel 14:5
  • 16. Jeremiah 5:3; [Isaiah 9:13]
  • 17. Isaiah 31:6
  • 18. Psalms 38:3
  • 19. [Jeremiah 8:22]
  • 20. Isaiah 5:5; Isaiah 6:11, 12; Deuteronomy 28:51, 52
  • 21. Isaiah 10:32; Isaiah 37:22; Zechariah 2:10; Zechariah 9:9
  • 22. Job 27:18
  • 23. Lamentations 3:22
  • 24. Isaiah 10:21, 22; Cited Romans 9:29
  • 25. Isaiah 13:19; Genesis 19:24, 25
  • 26. Isaiah 13:19; Genesis 19:24, 25
  • 27. [Deuteronomy 32:32]
  • 28. Proverbs 15:8; Jeremiah 6:20; Malachi 1:10; [Isaiah 66:3]; See 1 Samuel 15:22
  • 29. Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:23
  • 30. Numbers 28:11; 1 Chronicles 23:31
  • 31. Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:36
  • 32. [Jeremiah 7:9, 10]
  • 33. See Joel 2:15-17
  • 34. [See ver. 13 above]
  • 35. 1 Kings 8:22
  • 36. Proverbs 1:28; Micah 3:4
  • 37. Isaiah 59:3
  • 38. [Jeremiah 2:22]
  • 39. [1 Peter 3:11]
  • 40. Jeremiah 22:3
  • 41. [ver. 23; James 1:27]
  • 42. Micah 6:2; [Isaiah 43:26]
  • 43. Psalms 51:7; [Revelation 7:14]
  • 44. Deuteronomy 30:15, 16
  • 45. ver. 2; Isaiah 24:3; Isaiah 40:5; Isaiah 58:14; Micah 4:4; [Numbers 23:19]
  • 46. Jeremiah 2:20; [Exodus 34:15]
  • 47. [Jeremiah 31:23]
  • 48. [Jeremiah 6:30; Ezekiel 22:18]
  • 49. Micah 7:3; [Exodus 23:8]
  • 50. Jeremiah 5:28; Zechariah 7:10; [ver. 17]
  • 51. Isaiah 3:1; Isaiah 10:33
  • 52. Psalms 132:2
  • 53. [Deuteronomy 32:41]
  • 54. Psalms 81:14; Amos 1:8; [Isaiah 5:25]
  • 55. [Ezekiel 22:20; Malachi 3:3]
  • 56. Jeremiah 33:7, 11
  • 57. [Zechariah 8:3]
  • 58. Jeremiah 22:3, 4
  • 59. Job 31:3; Psalms 1:6
  • 60. Hosea 4:19
  • 61. Isaiah 57:5; Hosea 4:13
  • 62. Isaiah 65:3; Isaiah 66:17
  • 63. [Jeremiah 17:8]
  • 64. Judges 16:9
  • 65. Isaiah 66:24

Footnotes 5

Chapter Summary


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.


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.

Isaiah 1 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.