Isaiah 29

Woe to David’s City

1 Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David settled! Add year to year and let your cycle of festivals go on.
2 Yet I will besiege Ariel; she will mourn and lament, she will be to me like an altar hearth.[a]
3 I will encamp against you on all sides; I will encircle you with towers and set up my siege works against you.
4 Brought low, you will speak from the ground; your speech will mumble out of the dust. Your voice will come ghostlike from the earth; out of the dust your speech will whisper.
5 But your many enemies will become like fine dust, the ruthless hordes like blown chaff. Suddenly, in an instant,
6 the LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.
7 Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night—
8 as when a hungry person dreams of eating, but awakens hungry still; as when a thirsty person dreams of drinking, but awakens faint and thirsty still. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion.
9 Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer.
10 The LORD has brought over you a deep sleep: He has sealed your eyes (the prophets); he has covered your heads (the seers).
11 For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.”
12 Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I don’t know how to read.”
13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.[b]
14 Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
15 Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?”
16 You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?
17 In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest?
18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.
19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
20 The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down—
21 those who with a word make someone out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.
22 Therefore this is what the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, says to the descendants of Jacob: “No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will their faces grow pale.
23 When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.”

Isaiah 29 Commentary

Chapter 29

Judgements on Jerusalem and on its enemies. (1-8) The senselessness and hypocrisy of the Jews. (9-16) The conversion of the Gentiles, and future blessings for the Jews. (17-24)

Verses 1-8 Ariel may signify the altar of burnt-offerings. Let Jerusalem know that outward religious services will not make men free from judgements. Hypocrites never can please God, nor make their peace with him. God had often and long, by a host of angels, encamped round about Jerusalem for protection and deliverance; but now he fought against it. Proud looks and proud language shall be brought down by humbling providences. The destruction of Jerusalem's enemies is foretold. The army of Sennacherib went as a dream; and thus the multitudes, that through successive ages fight against God's altar and worship, shall fall. Speedily will sinners awake from their soothing dreams in the pains of hell.

Verses 9-16 The security of sinners in sinful ways, is cause for lamentation and wonder. The learned men, through prejudice, said that the Divine prophecies were obscure; and the poor urged their want of learning. The Bible is a sealed book to every man, learned or unlearned, till he begins to study it with a simple heart and a teachable spirit, that he may thence learn the truth and the will of God. To worship God, is to approach him. And if the heart be full of his love and fear, out of the abundance of it the mouth will speak; but there are many whose religion is lip-labour only. When they pretend to be speaking to God, they are thinking of a thousand foolish things. They worship the God of Israel according to their own devices. Numbers are only formal in worship. And their religion is only to comply with custom, and to serve their own interest. But the wanderings of mind, and defects in devotion, which are the believer's burden, are very different from the withdrawing of the heart from God, so severely blamed. And those who make religion no more than a pretence, to serve a turn, deceive themselves. And as those that quarrel with God, so those that think to conceal themselves from him, in effect charge him with folly. But all their perverse conduct shall be entirely done away.

Verses 17-24 The wonderful change here foretold, may refer to the affairs of Judah, though it looks further. When a great harvest of souls was gathered to Christ from among the Gentiles, then the wilderness was turned into a fruitful field; and the Jewish church, that had long been a fruitful field, became as a deserted forest. Those who, when in trouble, can truly rejoice in God, shall soon have cause greatly to rejoice in him. The grace of meekness contributes to the increase of our holy joy. The enemies who were powerful shall become mean and weak. To complete the repose of God's people, the scorners at home shall be cut off by judgements. All are apt to speak unadvisedly, and to mistake what they hear, but it is very unfair to make a man an offender for a word. They did all they could to bring those into trouble who told them of their faults. But He that redeemed Abraham out of his snares and troubles, will redeem those who are, by faith, his true seed, out of theirs. It will be the greatest comfort to godly parents to see their children renewed creatures, the work of God's grace. May those who now err in spirit, and murmur against the truth, come to understanding, and learn true doctrine. The Spirit of truth shall set right their mistakes, and lead them into all truth. This should encourage us to pray for those that have erred, and are deceived. All who murmured at the truths of God, as hard sayings, shall learn and be aware what God designed in all. See the change religion produces in the hearts of men, and the peace and pleasure of a humble and devout spirit.

Cross References 82

  • 1. Isaiah 22:12-13; S Isaiah 28:1
  • 2. ver 2,7; 2 Samuel 5:9
  • 3. S 2 Samuel 5:7
  • 4. S Isaiah 1:14
  • 5. S ver 1
  • 6. S Isaiah 3:26; Lamentations 2:5
  • 7. Ezekiel 43:15
  • 8. Luke 19:43-44
  • 9. S 2 Kings 25:1
  • 10. Isaiah 8:19
  • 11. Isaiah 47:1; Isaiah 52:2
  • 12. S Leviticus 19:31
  • 13. Isaiah 26:16
  • 14. S Deuteronomy 9:21; Psalms 78:39; Psalms 103:15; S Isaiah 2:22; Isaiah 37:27; Isaiah 40:6; Isaiah 51:12
  • 15. S Isaiah 13:11
  • 16. S Isaiah 17:13
  • 17. S Psalms 55:15; S Isaiah 17:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:3
  • 18. S Isaiah 26:21; Zechariah 14:1-5
  • 19. S Exodus 19:16
  • 20. Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11; S Revelation 6:12; Revelation 11:19
  • 21. S Psalms 50:3; S Psalms 55:8; S Isaiah 28:15
  • 22. S Leviticus 10:2; Psalms 83:13-15
  • 23. Micah 4:11-12; Zechariah 12:9
  • 24. S ver 1
  • 25. S Job 20:8
  • 26. S Psalms 73:20
  • 27. ver 5,7; Isaiah 41:11,15; Jeremiah 30:16; Zechariah 12:3
  • 28. Isaiah 17:12-14; Isaiah 54:17
  • 29. ver 14; Jeremiah 4:9; Habakkuk 1:5
  • 30. S Isaiah 6:10
  • 31. Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 63:6; Jeremiah 13:13; Jeremiah 25:27
  • 32. S Leviticus 10:9; Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 51:21-22
  • 33. S Psalms 60:3; S Isaiah 3:12
  • 34. S Judges 4:21; John 1:5
  • 35. Psalms 69:23; S Isaiah 6:9-10; Isaiah 44:18; Romans 11:8*; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11
  • 36. Micah 3:6
  • 37. S 1 Samuel 9:9
  • 38. S Isaiah 28:7
  • 39. S Isaiah 8:16; Daniel 8:26; Daniel 12:9; Matthew 13:11; Revelation 5:1-2
  • 40. Jeremiah 14:11; Haggai 1:2; Haggai 2:14
  • 41. S Psalms 50:16
  • 42. S Psalms 119:70; Isaiah 58:2; Jeremiah 12:2; Ezekiel 33:31
  • 43. Matthew 15:8-9*; Mark 7:6-7*; Colossians 2:22
  • 44. S Job 10:16; Habakkuk 1:5
  • 45. S Job 5:13; Jeremiah 8:9; Jeremiah 49:7
  • 46. Isaiah 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 1:19*
  • 47. S Genesis 3:8; S Isaiah 28:15
  • 48. S Job 8:3; Psalms 10:11-13; Psalms 94:7; Isaiah 47:10; Isaiah 57:12; Ezekiel 8:12; Ezekiel 9:9
  • 49. S 2 Kings 21:16; S Job 22:13
  • 50. S Job 10:9; S Isaiah 10:15
  • 51. S Genesis 2:7
  • 52. Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 18:6; Romans 9:20-21*
  • 53. S Job 9:12
  • 54. S Isaiah 10:25
  • 55. S Isaiah 2:13
  • 56. Psalms 84:6; Psalms 107:33
  • 57. Isaiah 32:15
  • 58. S Isaiah 28:5
  • 59. Mark 7:37
  • 60. S Psalms 107:14
  • 61. S Psalms 146:8; S Isaiah 32:3; Isaiah 35:5; Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22
  • 62. Psalms 25:9; Psalms 37:11; Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 5:5; Matthew 11:29
  • 63. S Psalms 72:4; S Isaiah 3:15; S Isaiah 14:30; Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22; James 1:9; James 2:5
  • 64. ver 23; Isaiah 1:4; S Isaiah 5:19; S Isaiah 12:6; Isaiah 30:11
  • 65. S Isaiah 9:4; S Isaiah 13:11
  • 66. Isaiah 34:12
  • 67. S 2 Chronicles 36:16; Isaiah 28:22
  • 68. S Job 15:35; Psalms 7:14; Isaiah 32:7; Isaiah 33:11; Isaiah 59:4; Ezekiel 11:2; Micah 2:1; Nahum 1:11
  • 69. Amos 5:10,15
  • 70. Proverbs 21:28
  • 71. S Isaiah 5:23; Isaiah 32:7; Habakkuk 1:4
  • 72. S Exodus 6:6
  • 73. Genesis 17:16; Isaiah 41:8; Isaiah 51:2; Isaiah 63:16
  • 74. Psalms 22:5; Psalms 25:3; S Isaiah 28:16; Isaiah 49:23; Isaiah 61:7; Joel 2:26; Zephaniah 3:11
  • 75. Jeremiah 30:6,10; Joel 2:6,21; Nahum 2:10
  • 76. Isaiah 49:20-26; Isaiah 53:10; Isaiah 54:1-3
  • 77. S Psalms 8:6; S Isaiah 19:25
  • 78. Matthew 6:9
  • 79. S ver 19; S Isaiah 5:19
  • 80. Psalms 95:10; S Proverbs 12:8; Isaiah 28:7; Hebrews 5:2
  • 81. Isaiah 1:3; Isaiah 32:4; Isaiah 41:20; Isaiah 60:16
  • 82. Isaiah 30:21; Isaiah 42:16

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. The Hebrew for "altar hearth" sounds like the Hebrew for "Ariel."
  • [b]. Hebrew; Septuagint "They worship me in vain;" / "their teachings are merely human rules"

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a prophecy concerning the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem by the Romans; the character and condition of the people of the Jews, previous to it; the calling of the Gentiles, by the preaching of the Gospel; the ruin of antichrist, and the conversion of the Jews, in the latter day. The siege and destruction of Jerusalem are described in Isa 29:1-6 the disappointment of their enemies, notwithstanding their taking and destroying it, Isa 29:7,8 the stupidity, judicial blindness, and hardness of the Jews, which brought on their ruin, are predicted, Isa 29:9,10 the ignorance of their learned, as well as of their unlearned men, with respect to the Scripture, and the prophecies of it, Isa 29:11,12 their hypocrisy and formality in worship, Isa 29:13 a blast upon all their wisdom and prudence, who thought to be wiser than the Lord, and too many for him, whose folly and atheism are exposed, Isa 29:14-16, and a great change both in Judea and the Gentile world, by the removal of the Gospel from the one to the other, Isa 29:17 the effects of which are, deaf sinners hear the word, dark minds are enlightened, and joy increased among the meek and poor, Isa 29:18,19 the fall of the Jews, or else of antichrist, is foretold, Isa 29:20,21 and the chapter is closed with a promise and prophecy of the conversion of the seed of Abraham and Jacob, Isa 29:22-24.

Isaiah 29 Commentaries

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