Isaiah 1:11-15

11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!

Isaiah 1:11-15 Meaning and Commentary

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.

Isaiah 1:11-15 In-Context

9 Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!
16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Cross References 20

  • 1. Psalms 50:8; Amos 6:4
  • 2. S Job 22:3
  • 3. Isaiah 66:3; Jeremiah 6:20
  • 4. 1 Samuel 15:22; S Psalms 40:6; Malachi 1:10; Hebrews 10:4
  • 5. Exodus 23:17; Deuteronomy 31:11
  • 6. Proverbs 15:8; Isaiah 66:3; Haggai 2:14
  • 7. Jeremiah 7:9; Jeremiah 18:15; Jeremiah 44:8
  • 8. S 1 Kings 14:24; Psalms 115:8; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 41:24; Malachi 2:11
  • 9. S Numbers 10:10
  • 10. 1 Chronicles 23:31
  • 11. S Nehemiah 10:33
  • 12. Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:1-44; Nu 28:11-29:39; Deuteronomy 16:1-17; Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 29:1; Hosea 2:11
  • 13. S Psalms 11:5
  • 14. S Job 7:12
  • 15. Psalms 69:3; Isaiah 7:13; Isaiah 43:22,24; Jeremiah 44:22; Malachi 2:17; Malachi 3:14
  • 16. S Exodus 9:29
  • 17. S Deuteronomy 31:17; Isaiah 8:17; Isaiah 57:17; Isaiah 59:2; Micah 3:4
  • 18. S Deuteronomy 1:45; S 1 Samuel 8:18; S Job 15:31; S John 9:31
  • 19. S Job 9:30
  • 20. Isaiah 4:4; Isaiah 59:3; Jeremiah 2:34; Ezekiel 7:23; Hosea 4:2; Joel 3:21
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