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Isaiah 1 Explained

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The Prophecy Of Isaiah.

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Isaiah Explained has the New Isaiah Institute Translation of this chapter read by Marvain Payne. Audio Narration of Analytical Commentary of Isaiah. Isaiah Explained has the New Isaiah Institute Translation of this chapter read by Marvain Payne. Isaiah Explained has the New Isaiah Institute Translation of this chapter read by Marvain Payne. MP3 File.

Isaiah's Seven-Part Bifid Structure.

Apocalyptic Commentary of the Book of Isaiah.

Metaphorical Key Words that Function as Pseudonyms.

A Comprehensive Concordance Of The Book of Isaiah.

      

Ancient Israel's apostasy typifies an end-time apostasy,
with salvation reserved for some who repent.

King James Version                                                Isaiah Institute Translation

חֲזוֹן יְשַׁעְיָהוּ בֶן־אָמוֹץ אֲשֶׁר חָזָה עַל־יְהוּדָה וִירוּשָׁלִָם בִּימֵי עֻזִּיָּהוּ יוֹתָם אָחָז יְחִזְקִיָּהוּ מַלְכֵי יְהוּדָה ׃ 1:1 
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.   The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz which he beheld concerning Judea and Jerusalem during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah:
שִׁמְעוּ שָׁמַיִם וְהַאֲזִינִי אֶרֶץ כִּי יְהוָה דִּבֵּר בָּנִים גִּדַּלְתִּי וְרוֹמַמְתִּי וְהֵם פָּשְׁעוּ בִי ׃ 1:2 
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth:
      for the Lord hath spoken,
I have nourished and brought up children,
      and they have rebelled against me.
63:8-10 Hear, O heavens! Give heed, O earth!
      Jehovah has spoken:
I have reared sons, brought them up,
      but they have revolted against me.
יָדַע שׁוֹר קֹנֵהוּ וַחֲמוֹר אֵבוּס בְּעָלָיו יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יָדַע עַמִּי לֹא הִתְבּוֹנָן ׃ 1:3 
The ox knoweth his owner,
      and the ass his master's crib:
but Israel doth not know,
      my people doth not consider.
45:6 The ox knows its owner,
      the ass its master’s stall,
but Israel does not know;
      my people are insensible.
הוֹי גּוֹי חֹטֵא עַם כֶּבֶד עָוֹן זֶרַע מְרֵעִים בָּנִים מַשְׁחִיתִים עָזְבוּ אֶת־יְהוָה נִאֲצוּ אֶת־קְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל נָזֹרוּ אָחוֹר ׃ 1:4 
Ah sinful nation,
      a people laden with iniquity,
a seed of evildoers,
      children that are corrupters:
they have forsaken the Lord,
      they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger,
they are gone away backward.

3:9
30:9-11
Alas, a nation astray,
      a people weighed down by sin,
the offspring of wrongdoers,
      perverse children:
they have forsaken Jehovah,
      they have spurned the Holy One of Israel,
they have lapsed into apostasy.
עַל מֶה תֻכּוּ עוֹד תּוֹסִיפוּ סָרָה כָּל־רֹאשׁ לָחֳלִי וְכָל־לֵבָב דַּוָּי ׃ 1:5 
Why should ye be stricken any more?
      ye will revolt more and more:
the whole head is sick, and the
      whole heart faint.
9:15 Why be smitten further
      by adding to your waywardness?
The whole head is sick,
      the whole heart diseased.
מִכַּף־רֶגֶל וְעַד־רֹאשׁ אֵין־בּוֹ מְתֹם פֶּצַע וְחַבּוּרָה וּמַכָּה טְרִיָּה לֹא־זֹרוּ וְלֹא חֻבָּשׁוּ וְלֹא רֻכְּכָה בַּשָּׁמֶן ׃ 1:6 
From the sole of the foot even unto the head
      there is no soundness in it;
but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores:
      they have not been closed, neither bound up,
      neither mollified with ointment.
17:11 From the soles of the feet even to the head
      there is nothing sound,
only wounds and bruises and festering sores;
      they have not been pressed out or bound up,
      nor soothed with ointment.
אַרְצְכֶם שְׁמָמָה עָרֵיכֶם שְׂרֻפוֹת אֵשׁ אַדְמַתְכֶם לְנֶגְדְּכֶם זָרִים אֹכְלִים אֹתָהּ וּשְׁמָמָה כְּמַהְפֵּכַת זָרִים ׃׃ 1:7 
Your country is desolate,
      your cities are burned with fire:
your land, strangers devour it in your presence,
      and it is desolate, as over thrown by strangers.
5:5-6 Your land is ruined,
      your cities burned with fire;
your native soil is devoured by aliens in your presence,
      laid waste at its takeover by foreigners.
וְנוֹתְרָה בַת־צִיּוֹן כְּסֻכָּה בְכָרֶם כִּמְלוּנָה בְמִקְשָׁה כְּעִיר נְצוּרָה ׃ 1:8 
And the daughter of Zion is left
      as a cottage in a vineyard,
as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers,
      as a be sieged city.
4:5-6
36:1-2
The Daughter of Zion is left
      like a shelter in a vineyard,
a hut in a melon field,
      a city under siege.
לוּלֵי יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת הוֹתִיר לָנוּ שָׂרִיד כִּמְעָט כִּסְדֹם הָיִינוּ לַעֲמֹרָה דָּמִינוּ ׃ 1:9 
Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us
      a very small remnant,
      we should have been as Sodom,
and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
  Had not Jehovah of Hosts left us a few survivors,
      we should have been as Sodom,
or become like Gomorrah.
שִׁמְעוּ דְבַר־יְהוָה קְצִינֵי סְדֹם הַאֲזִינוּ תּוֹרַת אֱלֹהֵינוּ עַם עֲמֹרָה ׃ 1:10
Hear the word of the Lord,
      ye rulers of Sodom;
give ear unto the law of our God,
      ye people of Gomorrah.
28:14 Hear the word of Jehovah,
      O leaders of Sodom;
give heed to the law of our God,
      you people of Gomorrah!
לָמָּה־לִּי רֹב־זִבְחֵיכֶם יֹאמַר יְהוָה שָׂבַעְתִּי עֹלוֹת אֵילִים וְחֵלֶב מְרִיאִים וְדַם פָּרִים וּכְבָשִׂים וְעַתּוּדִים לֹא חָפָצְתִּי ׃ 1:11
To what purpose is the multitude of your
      sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord:
I am full of the burnt offerings of rams,
      and the fat of fed beasts;
and I delight not in
      the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
43:23-24 For what purpose are your abundant
      sacrifices to me? says Jehovah.
I have had my fill of offerings of rams
      and fat of fatted beasts;
the blood of bulls and sheep and he-goats
      I do not want.
כִּי תָבֹאוּ לֵרָאוֹת פָּנָי מִי־בִקֵּשׁ זֹאת מִיֶּדְכֶם רְמֹס חֲצֵרָי ׃ 1:12
When ye come to appear before me,
      who hath required this at your hand,
      to tread my courts?
38:11 When you come to see me,
      who requires you to trample my courts so?
לֹא תוֹסִיפוּ הָבִיא מִנְחַת־שָׁוְא קְטֹרֶת תּוֹעֵבָה הִיא לִי חֹדֶשׁ וְשַׁבָּת קְרֹא מִקְרָא לֹא־אוּכַל אָוֶן וַעֲצָרָה ׃ 1:13
Bring no more vain oblations;
      incense is an abomination unto me;
the new moons and sabbaths,
      the calling of assemblies,
I cannot away with; it is iniquity,
       even the solemn meeting.
58:13-14 Bring no more worthless offerings;
      they are as a loathsome incense to me.
As for convening meetings at the New Month
      and on the Sabbath,
wickedness with the solemn gathering
      I cannot approve.
חָדְשֵׁיכֶם וּמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם שָׂנְאָה נַפְשִׁי הָיוּ עָלַי לָטֹרַח נִלְאֵיתִי נְשֹׂא ׃ 1:14
Your new moons and your appointed feasts
      my soul hateth:
they are a trouble unto me;
      I am weary to bear them.
46:3 Your monthly and regular meetings
      my soul detests.
They have become a burden on me;
      I am weary of putting up with them.
וּבְפָרִשְׂכֶם כַּפֵּיכֶם אַעְלִים עֵינַי מִכֶּם גַּם כִּי־תַרְבּוּ תְפִלָּה אֵינֶנִּי שֹׁמֵעַ יְדֵיכֶם דָּמִים מָלֵאוּ ׃ 1:15
And when ye spread forth your hands,
       I will hide mine eyes from you:
yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear:
      your hands are full of blood.
59:2-3 When you spread forth your hands,
      I will conceal my eyes from you;
though you pray at length, I will not hear—
      your hands are filled with blood.
רַחֲצוּ הִזַּכּוּ הָסִירוּ רֹעַ מַעַלְלֵיכֶם מִנֶּגֶד עֵינָי חִדְלוּ הָרֵעַ ׃ 1:16
Wash you, make you clean;
      put away the evil of your doings
from before mine eyes;
      cease to do evil;
55:7 Wash yourselves clean:
      remove your wicked deeds
from before my eyes;
      cease to do evil.
לִמְדוּ הֵיטֵב דִּרְשׁוּ מִשְׁפָּט אַשְּׁרוּ חָמוֹץ שִׁפְטוּ יָתוֹם רִיבוּ אַלְמָנָה ׃ 1:17
Learn to do well; seek judgment,
      relieve the oppressed,
judge the fatherless,
      plead for the widow.
58:6 Learn to do good: demand justice,
      stand up for the oppressed;
plead the cause of the fatherless,
      appeal on behalf of the widow.
לְכוּ־נָא וְנִוָּכְחָה יֹאמַר יְהוָה אִם־יִהְיוּ חֲטָאֵיכֶם כַּשָּׁנִים כַּשֶּׁלֶג יַלְבִּינוּ אִם־יַאְדִּימוּ כַתּוֹלָע כַּצֶּמֶר יִהְיוּ ׃ 1:18
Come now, and let us reason together,
      saith the Lord:
though your sins be as scarlet,
      they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson,
      they shall be as wool.
43:25 Come now, let us put it to the test,
      says Jehovah:
though your sins are as scarlet,
      they can be made white as snow;
though they have reddened as crimson,
      they may become white as wool.
אִם־תֹּאבוּ וּשְׁמַעְתֶּם טוּב הָאָרֶץ תֹּאכֵלוּ ׃ 1:19
 If ye be willing and obedient,
      ye shall eat the good of the land:
3:10 If you are willing and obey,
      you shall eat the good of the land.
וְאִם־תְּמָאֲנוּ וּמְרִיתֶם חֶרֶב תְּאֻכְּלוּ כִּי פִּי יְהוָה דִּבֵּר ׃
1:20
But if ye refuse and rebel,
      ye shall be devoured with the sword:
for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
3:25 But if you are unwilling and disobey,
      you shall be eaten by the sword.
By his mouth Jehovah has spoken it.
אֵיכָה הָיְתָה לְזוֹנָה קִרְיָה נֶאֱמָנָה מְלֵאֲתִי מִשְׁפָּט צֶדֶק יָלִין בָּהּ וְעַתָּה מְרַצְּחִים ׃ 1:21
How is the faithful city
      become an harlot!
it was full of judgment;
      righteousness lodged in it;
      but now murderers.
57:7-8 How the faithful city
      has become a harlot!
She was filled with justice;
      righteousness made its abode in her,
      but now murderers.
כַּסְפֵּךְ הָיָה לְסִיגִים סָבְאֵךְ מָהוּל בַּמָּיִם ׃ 1:22
Thy silver is become dross,
      thy wine mixed with water:
  Your silver has become dross,
      your wine diluted with water.
שָׂרַיִךְ סוֹרְרִים וְחַבְרֵי גַּנָּבִים כֻּלּוֹ אֹהֵב שֹׁחַד וְרֹדֵף שַׁלְמֹנִים יָתוֹם לֹא יִשְׁפֹּטוּ וְרִיב אַלְמָנָה לֹא־יָבוֹא אֲלֵיהֶם ׃ 1:23
Thy princes are rebellious,
      and companions of thieves:
every one loveth gifts,
       and followeth after rewards:
they judge not the fatherless,
      neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
5:23
10:2
Your rulers are renegades,
      accomplices of robbers:
with one accord they love bribes
      and run after rewards;
they do not dispense justice to the fatherless,
      nor does the widow’s case come before them.
לָכֵן נְאֻם הָאָדוֹן יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת אֲבִיר יִשְׂרָאֵל הוֹי אֶנָּחֵם מִצָּרַי וְאִנָּקְמָה מֵאוֹיְבָי ׃ 1:24
Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts,
      the mighty One of Israel,
Ah, I will ease me
      of mine adversaries,
      and avenge me of mine enemies:
59:18 Therefore my Lord, Jehovah of Hosts,
      the Valiant One of Israel, declares,
Woe to them! I will relieve me
      of my adversaries,
      avenge me of my enemies.
וְאָשִׁיבָה יָדִי עָלַיִךְ וְאֶצְרֹף כַּבֹּר סִיגָיִךְ וְאָסִירָה כָּל־בְּדִילָיִךְ ׃ 1:25
And I will turn my hand upon thee,
      and purely purge away thy dross,
      and take away all thy tin:
48:10 I will restore my hand over you
      and smelt away your dross as in a crucible,a
      and remove all your alloy.
וְאָשִׁיבָה שֹׁפְטַיִךְ כְּבָרִאשֹׁנָה וְיֹעֲצַיִךְ כְּבַתְּחִלָּה אַחֲרֵי־כֵן יִקָּרֵא לָךְ עִיר הַצֶּדֶק קִרְיָה נֶאֱמָנָה ׃ 1:26
And I will restore thy judges as at the first,
      and thy counsellors as at the beginning:
afterward thou shalt be called,
      The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
19:18 I will restore your judges as at the first,
      and your counselors as in the beginning.
After this you shall be called
      the City of Righteousness, a faithful city.
צִיּוֹן בְּמִשְׁפָּט תִּפָּדֶה וְשָׁבֶיהָ בִּצְדָקָה ׃ 1:27
Zion shall be redeemed with judgment,
      and her converts with righteousness.
32:17 For Zion shall be ransomed by justice,
      those of her who repent by righteousness.
וְשֶׁבֶר פֹּשְׁעִים וְחַטָּאִים יַחְדָּו וְעֹזְבֵי יְהוָה יִכְלוּ ׃ 1:28
And the destruction of the transgressors
      and of the sinners shall be together,
and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.
13:9 But criminals and sinners
      shall be altogether shattered
when those who forsake Jehovah are annihilated.
כִּי יֵבֹשׁוּ מֵאֵילִים אֲשֶׁר חֲמַדְתֶּם וְתַחְפְּרוּ מֵהַגַּנּוֹת אֲשֶׁר בְּחַרְתֶּם ׃ 1:29
For they shall be ashamed of the oaks
      which ye have desired,
and ye shall be confounded for the gardens
      that ye have chosen.
65:3 And youb will be ashamed of the oaks you cherished
      and blush for the parks you were fond of;
כִּי תִהְיוּ כְּאֵלָה נֹבֶלֶת עָלֶהָ וּכְגַנָּה אֲשֶׁר־מַיִם אֵין לָהּ ׃ 1:30
For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth,
      and as a garden that hath no water.
  you shall become like an oak whose leaves wither,
      and as a garden that has no water.
וְהָיָה הֶחָסֹן לִנְעֹרֶת וּפֹעֲלוֹ לְנִיצוֹץ וּבָעֲרוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם יַחְדָּו וְאֵין מְכַבֶּה ׃ 1:31
And the strong shall be as tow,
      and the maker of it as a spark,
and they shall both burn together,
      and none shall quench them.

 

37:18-19

The mighty shall be as refuse,
       and their works a spark;
both shall burn up alike,
       and there shall be none to extinguish.

   

     a25  Hebrew kabbor, as with potash/lye, emended to kakur; compare 48:10.

     b29  Hebrew they.

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Apocalyptic Commentary of the Book of Isaiah

Isaiah 1 Explained

Ruin and Rebirth    (Isaiah 15; 3435)


Ancient Israel's apostasy typifies an end-time apostasy,
with salvation reserved for some who repent.


1:1  The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

      Isaiah mentions four successive kings during whose reign he prophesies, of whom Ahaz and Hezekiah feature most prominently
in the Book of Isaiah, one for evil, the other for good. A fifth goes unmentioned—Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, who slays Isaiah by sawing him in half (Ascension of Isaiah, 11:41). On account of the sins of Manasseh, the people of the Southern Kingdom of Judah are ultimately exiled and taken captive by the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:3–4). Manasseh's reign becomes a point of no return for the Jewish nation because of the king's evil influence on the people.
       Chapter 1, the preface of the Book of Isaiah, dates from about 701 B.C., the fourteenth year of the reign of King Hezekiah. At that time, Assyria invades the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Israel's God Jehovah, however, thwarts Assyria's designs because of the righteousness of the king and his people. Earlier, in 722 B.C., Assyria conquers the ten-tribed Northern Kingdom of Israel and takes its people captive into Mesopotamia. Chronologically speaking, the first chapter of the Book of Isaiah is Isaiah 6, which describes Isaiah's calling as a prophet in the year of King Uzziah's death in 742 B.C.
      The vision. Although Isaiah's prophetic ministry may span as many as fifty years, the singular term "vision" (ḥāzôn) defines Isaiah's writings as one conceptually from beginning to end. That is evident in his book's multi-layered structuring, through which Isaiah integrates his early oracles and later written discourses into a single prophecy that spells out an end-time scenario. Without taking away from the historical origins of Isaiah's writings, historical events now serve as an allegory of the end-time, in which "Judea" and "Jerusalem" are codenames that identify God's endtime people.
      
1:2  Hear, O heavens! Give heed, O earth!
      Jehovah has spoken:
I have reared sons, brought them up,
      but they have revolted against me.

      Isaiah begins his prophecy by calling on the heavens and the earth, which are witnesses of the Sinai Covenant (Deuteronomy 4:26; 30:19). That is the covenant Jehovah makes with Israel as a nation, through which the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob become the people of God (Exodus 6:7). However, the "heavens" and the "earth" don't refer simply to the physical heavens and earth but to those who reside in them. Such heavenly witnesses to the covenant no doubt include Israel's ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who would have the utmost interest in their descendants.
      Additionally, when Jehovah makes the covenant with his people Israel, it includes both those present and those who aren't present (Deuteronomy 29:14–15). That alludes to the idea that there exist others yet unborn who are parties to the covenant as much as the people who stand with Moses at Mount Sinai. In fact, even though God's people Israel may at different times break the Sinai Covenant, that never causes the covenant itself to be annulled. According to Isaiah, even the new covenant Jehovah makes at the dawning of the millennial age is a compound of all former covenants he has made.
      Jehovah has spoken. When Israel's God "speaks" formally, as he does here, it signifies an official decree or proclamation. This suggests that at that point in time there is need for a kind of reassessment or stocktaking. Let's say his people's affairs continue for a time but then noticeably deteriorate. At that juncture, Jehovah issues a pronouncement condemning his people or warning them of the inevitable consequences that must follow. Those consequences take the form of curses or misfortunes that pertain to God's covenant with his people, which, after several admonitions, become inescapable.
      I have reared sons, brought them up, but they have revolted against me. The word "sons" (Hebrew bānîm) is a technical term common to ancient Near Eastern covenants that denotes vassalship to an emperor. As the prophets from Moses to Malachi adopt this emperor– vassal paradigm to define Jehovah's covenant relationship both with Israel collectively and with people individually, the word "sons," as used in the present context, implies the breaking of covenant relationships by those with whom Jehovah has covenanted. The term "sons," however, may secondarily signify "children."
      Brought them up. The Hebrew verb rômamtî additionally alludes to being "elevated" to an exalted state—to possessing special duties and privileges compared to others of God's children. God's covenants with Israel as a nation, as well as with individuals among them, lends them special status. When they keep the law of the covenant in which his prophets have instructed them, Jehovah blesses them more than other nations. Now, however, not only are they taking such blessings and privileges for granted, they are "revolting" or "transgressing" (pāšcû) against their source —God.
      
1:3  The ox knows its owner,
      the ass its master's stall,
but Israel does not know;
      my people are insensible.

      Israel . . . my people. We learn from the Book of Isaiah's multilayered literary structures that Isaiah speaks on two levels simultaneously, and that God's people who are addressed are two: (1) those who possess their Promised Land anciently; and (2) those who possess their Promised Land in the end-time. Linear structures enable us to read the Book of Isaiah as a prophecy relating to Israel's past, whereas synchronous structures enable us to read it as relating to the end-time. In its end-time context, names such as "Israel" identify those who consider themselves God's people in that day.
      The ox . . . the ass. Whereas the ox is a ritually clean animal— because it divides the hoof and chews the cud (Leviticus 11:3)— the ass is not. Such dual imagery of beasts at times appears in Isaiah's writings to signify both Israel's natural or ethnic lineages and the nations of the Gentiles, or those of Israel who assimilated into the Gentiles. In an allegorical sense, therefore, this implies that Jehovah acknowledges a covenant relationship (1) with Israel's natural or ethnic lineages and (2) with those who assimilated into the Gentiles following Israel's ancient exile from the Promised Land.
      The ox knows . . . Israel does not know. The verb "to know" (yd) is a theological term that expresses an intact covenant relationship— as when Adam "knew" his wife Eve and she conceived and bore a son (Genesis 4:1). Israel's "not knowing," on the other hand, implies that God's people have broken the covenant with their God or voided their relationship with him (cf. Matthew 7:23). Although righteous individuals among them may come to know God personally—as he manifests himself to those who love him— in this case most are unwilling to pay the price (cf. Matthew 25:12).
      My people are insensible. As the negative reflexive verb "insensible" (lōᐣ hitbônān) (also "undiscerning" or "uncomprehending") parallels "not knowing" Jehovah—his people's "owner" and "master"— and "not knowing" the "stall" or institution he provides to feed his people, it connotes a disintegration of the covenant relationship and ignorance of spiritual truths. Says Paul, "The things of God no man knows but the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11). Unless one obtains the Spirit of God that comes with keeping the law of his covenant, it is impossible to know God or discern his truth.
      
1:4  Alas, a nation astray,
      a people weighed down by sin,
the offspring of wrongdoers,
      perverse children:
they have forsaken Jehovah,
      they have spurned the Holy One of Israel,
they have lapsed into apostasy.

      From addressing his people personally as "Israel . . . my people" (v 3), Jehovah now addresses them impersonally as "a nation," signifying their alienated state. Additionally, a regression occurs from his people's simply going "astray" to their burdening themselves with "sin," which, over time, ends in outright "wrongdoing." This happens both collectively and generationally: the "offspring of wrongdoers" turn into "perverse children," meaning that the rising generation has become thoroughly corrupt. "Forsaking" God and "spurning" him finally becomes a conscious and deliberate act.
      The Holy One of Israel. The title of "Holy One," together with "Valiant One" (v 24) designates Israel's God more than thirty times in the Book of Isaiah. In this case, it contrasts God's holiness with his people's unholiness. Still, it points to what God's people should become: "holy" or "sanctified," like their God. Both titles—"Holy One" and "Valiant One"—characterize Israel's God as his people's exemplar. We observe this in an instance in which God exempts a righteous remnant of his people, called his "holy ones" and "valiant ones," from a worldwide destruction (Isaiah 13:3).
      They have lapsed into apostasy. Hebrew nāzōrû āḥôr signifies that God's people have become entirely "estranged" from him. They have "gone backwards" to what they used to be before they became God's covenant people, when they didn't know Jehovah. In effect, they have become godless again, like the world's heathen nations, but perhaps more so because they have rejected the light they once had. The apostasy into which they began to slide a generation ago is now complete. As a consequence, instead of enjoying the blessings of God's covenant, they must experience its curses.
      
1:5  Why be smitten further
      by adding to your waywardness?
The whole head is sick,
      the whole heart diseased.

      To be "smitten" of God—through plagues, misfortunes, natural disasters, and enemies—constitutes God's final attempt to bring his people back to a state of blessedness by influencing or impelling them to repent of evil. Instead, their persistent "waywardness" (sārâ) compounds their plight. Illness and disease become rampant, reflecting a society sick in mind and body. Allegorically, the people's "head" (rōᐣš ) or leadership, and their "heart" (lēbāb) or core institutions—their entire establishment, political and religious (Isaiah 7:8–9; 9:15–16)—has degenerated to a pathological state.
      
1:6  From the soles of the feet even to the head
      there is nothing sound,
only wounds and bruises and festering sores;
      they have not been pressed out or bound up,
      nor soothed with ointment.

            Like the wounds, bruises, and sores of an enemy slave—one who has no chance of being ministered to—God’s people in their wicked state find themselves in pitiful circumstances. When someone in a gulag becomes ill, that is his problem; he is dispensable. That is the condition to which God’s people are reduced in his Day of Judgment. Like the Prodigal Son, they have rebelled against God and squandered their inheritance. Then, when their entire society breaks down, their curse becomes irrevocable. Nevertheless, although a majority suffers misery, there remains hope for some.
            Nor soothed with ointment. The idea of being “soothed with ointment,” which is here denied the wicked, God doesn’t deny the righteous. We observe his healing and anointing of his repentant people later in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 30:26; 61:3). It is for the reader to discover such antitheses by searching Isaiah’s terms and concepts. In other words, all doesn’t end in gloom and doom, although Isaiah has us wade through the judgmental parts of his prophecy before he presents God’s glorious promises. If God’s people repent of evil in time, they may yet qualify for his divine blessings.


1:7  Your land is ruined,
      your cities burned with fire;
your native soil is devoured by aliens in your presence,
      laid waste at its takeover by foreigners.

            The “land” is the Promised Land, which God gives as a covenant blessing to his people who live righteously. The land’s invasion and destruction by enemies, on the other hand, signifies covenant curses directed at a generation of God’s people that has turned to wickedness. In a historical context, the “land” is the Land of Canaan, which ancient Israel conquered under the leadership of Moses and Joshua. In an end-time context, the “land” is the one occupied by those who profess to be God’s covenant people in that day, which their forebears obtained from God as a covenant blessing.
            Cities burned with fire. As determined by a network of synonymous parallels, the terms “fire” and “sword” (v 20) possess dual meanings in the Book of Isaiah. Besides their literal meaning, these terms additionally identify persons who personify God’s fire and sword, who serve as God’s instruments in punishing the wicked. In a historical context, one such person is the “king of Assyria,” whom Isaiah represents as conquering all nations of the world anciently (Isaiah 10:5–14; 37:18). In an end-time context, a comparable archtyrant, a modern-day Antichrist, likewise conquers the world.
            Aliens . . . foreigners. Conceptually, in the Book of Isaiah, “aliens” and “foreigners” identify the Assyrian alliance that conquers the world (cf. Isaiah 5:26–29; 10:5–7, 28–32; 13:4–5; 28:11, 22; 33:19; 62:8). From the way the Hebrew prophets portray world affairs, we learn that the rise of Assyria as a superpower occurs in direct proportion to the apostasy of God’s people, in the end-time as anciently. Without that, foreign nations could not dominate the world stage nor invade God’s people’s lands of inheritance. The one place Assyria does not conquer, however, is Zion, as we see next.


1:8  The Daughter of Zion is left
      like a shelter in a vineyard,
a hut in a melon field,
      a city under siege.

      The Daughter of Zion. The Hebrew prophets often characterize Israel as a woman, and her relationship to Jehovah her God as that of a wife to her husband within the marriage covenant. Because God's people in general have here apostatized, however, those individuals among them who survive Assyria's destruction comprise but a small remnant of God's people called "Zion" or the "Daughter of Zion" (cf. Isaiah 37:22; 52:2; 62:11). These represents a higher spiritual category of God's people than the "Israel" category because of their faithfulness to his covenant through many trials.
      The daughter of Zion is left. The idea of being "left" (nôtrâ) denotes the survival of a few of God's people when the rest perish. A recurrent motif, it underscores the dire conditions under which the few survive. Those who are "left" in the Book of Isaiah include persons who return from exile in an exodus to Zion (Isaiah 11:11, 16), who survive Assyria's siege of Jerusalem (Isaiah 37:4), who are "left as a flagstaff on a mountaintop, an ensign on a hill" (Isaiah 30:17), whose names are "inscribed among the living at Jerusalem" (Isaiah 4:3), and who are called "the holy offspring" (Isaiah 6:13).
      A shelter in a vineyard. While the "vineyard" (kārem) defines Israel (Isaiah 5:1–7), in the end-time it extends to the earth (Isaiah 27:2–6). The "shelter" (sūkkâ) refers to God's cloud of glory that protects a remnant of his people as it protected Israel anciently (cf. Exodus 14:19–20, 24): "Over the whole site of Mount Zion, and over its solemn assembly, Jehovah will form a cloud by day and a mist glowing with fire by night: above all that is glorious shall be a canopy. It shall be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, a secret refuge from the downpour and from rain" (Isaiah 4:5–6).
      A hut in a melon field. The idea of a "hut" (mělûnâ) alludes to the presence of a watchman who guards the field against thieves and wild beasts. A synonym of the term "shelter"—which appears in parallel with it—the "hut" further connotes protection from the elements, such as the heat of the sun or a rainstorm, both of which represent God's Day of Judgment (cf. Isaiah 18:4– 6; 25:4–5; 28:14–19; 40:23–24; 49:10). As a watchman's role includes sounding the alarm when danger approaches (cf. Isaiah 21:6–10), those who heed the watchman's warning are persons most likely to survive.
      A city under siege. The "city" motif—which here appears in parallel with the "shelter" and "hut"—provides another metaphor of God's people. Ultimately there emerge two cities in the Book of Isaiah that represent God's covenant people: one wicked, the other righteous; one destroyed, the other delivered (cf. v 21 Isaiah 24:10–12; 26:1–6; 33:20; 52:1–2; 66:6). The expression "under siege" (něṣûrâ), moreover, possesses a double meaning in Hebrew: (1) "under siege" and (2) "preserved." In other words, although the righteous city may come under siege by enemies, God preserves it.
      
1:9  Had not Jehovah of Hosts left us a few survivors,
      we should have been as Sodom,
or become like Gomorrah.

      A type or precedent of the "few survivors" (́sarîd kim āṭ) of God's people who are "left" (hôtîr) after the destruction are Lot and his two daughters who escape God's ancient destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Genesis 19:24–30). As a pattern of the end-time, when God sends his angels to escort Lot and his family out of Sodom, his sons-in-law consider it foolish while Lot's wife looks back and perishes (Genesis 19:1–23; cf. Matthew 24:31). The full, authoritative title "Jehovah of Hosts" (yhwh ṣěbāᐣôt) underscores the gravity of these events and the fact that God is in charge.
       Sodom . . . Gomorrah. The names Sodom and Gomorrah take us back to those ancient cities and their inhabitants and what they came to typify. In their perverse lifestyle, their residents grew so aggressive that they sought to violate the angels of God who were Lot's guests (Genesis 19:1–9). Isaiah's using this type when predicting the end-time lets us know that, once they lose God's light, God's people start to resemble those ancient citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah. When his people's devotion to God becomes but a superficial version of his law and word, it lacks the power to withstand evil.
       The names Sodom and Gomorrah additionally function as word links to Babylon: "And Babylon, the most splendid of kingdoms, the glory and pride of Chaldeans, shall be [thrown down] as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah" (Isaiah 13:19). Isaiah's structurally developed concept of a Greater Babylon—similar to John's "Babylon the Great"—identifies it as an evil world conglomerate on the eve of its destruction (cf. Isaiah 13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,47; Revelation 1718). That a wicked majority of God's people suffers the same fate as Babylon implies that it has become identified with Babylon.
      That the destruction of God's people includes "cities burned with fire" (v 7) alludes to the utter destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their inhabitants by a hail of fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24–25; cf. Isaiah 32:19). While the endtime version of that event may include cosmic cataclysm, Isaiah attributes the destruction of the world's cities to the king of Assyria (Isaiah 37:26). In view of modern weaponry's ability to destroy entire cities in seconds, such technology in the hands of an archtyrant may account for Isaiah's end-time scenario (cf. Isaiah 9:18–19; 54:16–17).
      
1:10 Hear the word of Jehovah,
      O leaders of Sodom;
give heed to the law of our God,
      you people of Gomorrah!

      To call God’s people and their leaders by the names Sodom and Gomorrah is to compare their moral decline to that of those cities’ ancient reprobates. As the leaders of a people generally a reflect the people themselves, and as the political and ecclesiastical leaders of God’s people parallel each other in the Book of Isaiah, their spiritual condition holds little hope for the rising generation. When things reach that point, God’s people are fortunate indeed if God gives them a last warning. For those who accept it, there may still be a chance of deliverance; otherwise their destruction is assured.
      Hear the word of Jehovah . . . give heed to the law of our God. Knowing that God does nothing unless he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7), God sends a warning voice to his people before destroying them. In the Book of Isaiah, that warning voice is God’s servant, of whom Isaiah is a type. Pointing them to God’s “law” and “word—to the terms of his covenant—the servant directs them to the one thing that has the power to ameliorate their circumstances. Replacing current religious practices with keeping God’s law and word remains his people’s only hope.
      
1:11 For what purpose are your abundant
      sacrifices to me? says Jehovah.
I have had my fill of offerings of rams
      and fat of fatted beasts;
the blood of bulls and sheep and he-goats
      I do not want.

      While the worship of God goes on as if nothing has changed, its rituals have become a substitute for spirituality. As when Samuel rebukes Saul: “Does Jehovah delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Give heed: to obey is better than sacrifice and to comply than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). The purpose of temple worship, and the measure of one’s devotion to God, isn’t to multiply ordinances. It is to keep the terms of God’s covenant that assures God’s people the same privileges enjoyed by ancestors who walked and talked with him.
      Offerings of rams and fat of fatted beasts; the blood of bulls and sheep and he-goats. The literalness of the animals—reflecting their ancient use as temple sacrifices—may appear to preclude their relevance to the end-time. Isaiah, however, often uses ritually clean beasts as a metaphor of God’s people (cf. Isaiah 34:1–7; 40:11; 53:7; 60:1–9). Just as sacrificial animals anciently served as proxies for God’s people who transgressed—thereby forestalling God’s justice—so their end-time relevance applies to the temple-goers themselves: their personal sacrifices are no longer acceptable.
      
1:12 When you come to see me,
      who requires you to trample my courts so?

            The question asked at the beginning of verse 11 is answered at the beginning of verse 12: God’s people go to the temple to see God. If they aren’t there for that purpose, then all else doesn’t count for much. This reveals an appalling paradox: instead of going to see God, his people resemble the dumb animals that were anciently brought for sacrifice, which were unaware of their reason for being there. Instead of making an offering of their whole souls to God—as symbolized by burnt offerings and the shedding of the animals’ blood—his people trudge about the temple’s courts defiling it.


1:13 Bring no more worthless offerings;
      they are as a loathsome incense to me.
As for convening meetings at the New Month
      and on the Sabbath,
wickedness with the solemn gathering
      I cannot approve.

      Although God had commanded the offering of incense (Exodus 30:1–8; 40:27)—symbolic of the prayers of the righteous ascending to God’s presence (cf. Psalms 141:2; Revelation 8:3–4)—the idea of a “loathsome incense” likens his people’s offerings to a nauseating odor. Their sacrifices are “worthless” because they aren’t backed up by righteousness. Even their spiritual gatherings and assemblies God “cannot approve” because those who attend them are encumbered with offenses. Their “wickedness”—their unrepented sins and iniquities—renders their religious devotion a mockery.
      
1:14 Your monthly and regular meetings
      my soul detests.
They have become a burden on me;
      I am weary of putting up with them.

      As Isaiah attaches importance to Sabbath and monthly meetings elsewhere (cf. Isaiah 56:2, 6; 58:13; 66:23), it isn’t that these are of themselves unacceptable. It is that people measure their righteousness before God in terms of their attendance at them, not by their personal integrity. Word links show what things burden and weary God, but also that through repentance his people may become clean: “You have burdened me with your sins, wearied me with your iniquities. But it is I myself, and for my own sake, who blot out your offenses, remembering your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:24–25).
      
1:15 When you spread forth your hands,
      I will conceal my eyes from you;
though you pray at length, I will not hear—
      your hands are filled with blood.

      While spreading forth the hands and praying at length are two legitimate forms of prayer, they can’t benefit an unrepentant people guilty of gross crimes. The word “blood” not only signifies extreme injustice, it encapsulates injustices in general. Although “hands filled with blood” alludes to murder, abortion, and so forth, it further epitomizes failings and abuses whose ripple effects include suicides, to which an unjust society contributes. In short, worship of God by those whose hearts aren’t broken, whose spirits aren’t contrite spirit, God cannot countenance (cf. Psalms 51:16–17).
      
1:16 Wash yourselves clean:
      remove your wicked deeds
from before my eyes;
      cease to do evil.

      Instead of simply telling his people to repent, Israel’s God explains how to repent. His definition involves ridding their lives of evil actions, neither excusing nor repeating them. Of course, that includes admitting their guilt, taking ownership of their conduct. While becoming “clean” signifies God’s remission of his people’s sins, it follows only upon their assuming a righteous lifestyle. The words “before my eyes” signify that God ever sees all things, precluding the idea that his people can escape the curses of the covenant that will inevitably follow unless they speedily “cease to do evil.”
      
1:17 Learn to do good: demand justice,
      stand up for the oppressed;
plead the cause of the fatherless,
      appeal on behalf of the widow.

      “Doing good” implies keeping the terms of God’s covenant and reaping its blessings. God’s definition of doing good includes seeking justice for the oppressed—persons unable to help themselves. While widows and fatherless exemplify those most in need, others aren’t excluded. By citing extreme examples of persons and behaviors, Isaiah doesn’t mean to limit himself to them. The fact that God’s people must “learn” to do good suggests that they no longer know. The words “demand,” “stand up for,” “plead,” and “appeal” go beyond noticing others’ needs to actively intervening.
      
1:18 Come now, let us put it to the test,
      says Jehovah:
though your sins are as scarlet,
      they can be made white as snow;
though they have reddened as crimson,
      they may become white as wool.

      Two possibilities exist for interpreting this verse. First—as Hebrew has no question marks—Jehovah is asking, “With blood on your hands, do you still imagine you can become clean? Do you assume I will readily pardon you though you are guilty of the unpardonable sin?” Do God’s people pretend that the God who said, “Whoever sheds a man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Genesis 9:6), will overlook their crimes so long as they go to church and put on a good appearance? That kind of hypocrisy is indeed characteristic of a Sodom-and-Gomorrah type of society (cf. vv 9–10).
      Second, in this verse’s larger context of God’s people repenting of transgression and purifying their lives, they may even now become clean of gross crimes. They shouldn’t assume, though burdened with guilt, that they are too far gone, that there is no further hope of recovery. The “test” God presents is whether or not they will repent of doing evil. While “scarlet” and “crimson”—the color of “blood”—allude to murder, abortion, etc. (cf. v 15), they also signify the stain of wickedness in general. Jehovah is willing to forgive those who “cease to do evil” and “learn to do good” (vv 16–17).
      
1:19 If you are willing and obey,
      you shall eat the good of the land.

      As noted, the essence of God's "test" (v 18) is whether his people will repent. How? By their willingness to obey the terms of his covenant. The doubling of the Hebrew verbs "willing" (tōᐣǎbû) and "obey" (šěma tem) causes the first to modify the second. An alternative translation, therefore, is "If you willingly obey, you shall eat the good of the land." Both the "good" or increase of the land and the land itself constitute covenant blessings (Deuteronomy 19:8; 28:3–5, 11–12). The context of this verse is God's Day of Judgment, when God preserves alive those who repent (cf. vv 7–9)
      
1:20 But if you are unwilling and disobey,
      you shall be eaten by the sword.
By his mouth Jehovah has spoken it.

      A negative response to God’s warning leads to his people’s destruction in his Day of Judgment. In fact, their refusal to repent results in God’s empowering their enemies against them. Like the word fire (v 7), the sword has a dual meaning. In its present context, it identifies the king of Assyria, who personifies God’s fire and sword. As God’s instrument for destroying the wicked, he cleanses the earth before Jehovah comes to reign on earth: “With fire and with his sword will Jehovah execute judgment on all flesh, and those slain by Jehovah shall be many” (Isaiah 66:16; emphasis added).
      By his mouth Jehovah has spoken it. God makes his warning an official declaration. Just as their divine Judge decrees, so it will come to pass. As chapter 1 shows, however, God’s people as a whole don’t heed his warning. Many are beyond responding positively to a call to repent. God’s servant, who prepares the way before Jehovah’s coming to reign on the earth, serves as his mouth or mouthpiece in the Book of Isaiah. It is he, therefore, who delivers God’s final warning. Because most people ignore their peril, only a few survive their Sodom-and-Gomorrah type of destruction (cf. v. 9).
      
1:21 How the faithful city
      has become a harlot!
She was filled with justice;
      righteousness made its abode in her,
      but now murderers.

      Foreseeing the coming calamity because his people choose not to repent, the prophet breaks out in a lament. The word "How" commences his lament (cf. Lamentations 1:1; 2:1; 4:1). In other words, the prophet is asking "How could this tragedy have happened? How is it that this people didn't repent in time? How could those who were once righteous become so wicked?" The word "harlot" (zônâ) denotes a broken covenant relationship. Besides identifying a specific place, the "city" (qiryâ) represents God's covenant people as a whole in the Book of Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 45:13; 60:14).
       She was filled with justice. Righteousness made her abode in her, but now murderers. Justice and righteousness, the foundation of all good—of every covenant blessing, of every law-abiding society— have given way to injustice and unrighteousness. The term "murderers" (měraṣḥîm) reiterates the level of wickedness to which God's people have sunk. The word righteousness additionally designates God's end-time servant, who acts as an exemplar of righteousness to God's people (cf. Isaiah 41:2, 25; 46:11–13) and whose role is to restore justice in the earth (cf. Isaiah 42:1–4).
      
1:22 Thy silver is become dross,
      thy wine mixed with water:

      As the Hebrew word for "silver" (kesep) also means "money," the meaning points to a worthless or devalued currency. Products such as wine, too, lack the quality they once had. Isaiah, however, intends more than a literal meaning of these terms. His imagery of common, semiprecious, and precious metals and stones, for example, denotes three ascending spiritual categories of people (cf. Isaiah 60:17). Some in an elect category ("silver"), therefore, have become "dross" (sîgîm), which isn't a metal at all. Having
fallen from grace, they belong to Isaiah's Perdition category.
      Your wine diluted with water. Besides its literal meaning, the idea of "wine" metaphorically signifies spiritual nourishment: "You who have no money, come, buy wine and milk with no money and at no cost" (Isaiah 55:1). In other words, those who teach God's word have watered it down until it no longer nourishes his people: "Their heart ponders impiety—how to practice hypocrisy and preach perverse things concerning Jehovah, leaving the hungry soul empty, depriving the thirsty [soul] of drink" (Isaiah 32:6). What passes for God's word is but a diluted version of the real thing.
      
1:23 Your rulers are renegades,
      accomplices of robbers:
with one accord they love bribes
      and run after rewards;
they do not dispense justice to the fatherless,
      nor does the widow's case come before them.

      On a par with the ecclesiastical leaders of God's people (cf. v 10), their political "rulers" ( ́sārayîk) similarly come under God's condemnation. People in government, whose task is to protect society from predators, have become predators themselves. The would-be administrators of justice perpetrate injustice. The most needy elements of society—the fatherless and widows— whose cause God advocates (cf. v 17), are neglected. Persons in leadership positions have turned into "renegades" (sôrrěrîm) and "robbers" ( gannābîm), people who violate others' rights to gain their own ends.
      
1:24 Therefore my Lord, Jehovah of Hosts,
      the Valiant One of Israel, declares,
Woe to them! I will relieve me
      of my adversaries,
      avenge me of my enemies.

      Israel's God's bringing to bear his titles and authority renders this statement an official declaration. The title "Jehovah of Hosts" or "Jehovah of Armies" (yhwh ṣěbāᐣôt) alludes to the legions, heavenly and earthly, he has at his disposal to implement his decrees. The title "Valiant One of Israel" (ᐣǎbîr yi ́srāᐣēl ) expresses his divine attribute of valor. His pronunciation of a "woe," signifying a covenant curse, makes this a formal condemnation. The "adversaries" (ṣāray) and "enemies" (ᐣôybāy) of whom Jehovah avenges himself are the "leaders" (v 10) and "rulers" (v 23) of his own people.
      
1:25 I will restore my hand over you
      and smelt away your dross as in a crucible,a
      and remove all your alloy.

      To counter the wickedness of his people’s leaders, Israel’s God restores all things pertaining to his people. This he does through the agency of his servant who prepares the way before Jehovah’s coming to reign on the earth (cf. Matthew 17:11; Acts 3:21). As God’s hand or right hand (Isaiah 11:10–12, 14–15; 41:2, 10, 13), the servant restores God’s people and their lands (Isaiah 49:5–6, 8) and deals with his people’s enemies (Isaiah 50:10–11). The “dross” and “alloy”—the lowest spiritual categories of his people—God purges away in his Day of Judgment (cf. Malachi 3:1–5).
      
1:26 I will restore your judges as at the first,
      and your counselors as in the beginning.
After this you shall be called
      the City of Righteousness, a faithful city.

      The two parallel statements, “I will restore” (vv 25–26), signify not only that both restorations are a part of the same event but that one flows out of the other. In other words, the refinement “as in a crucible” that results in pure silver or gold (v 25) leads to the appointment of righteous leaders “as at the first” and “as in the beginning” (v 26). That leadership of God’s people follows the ancient pattern of Moses and Israel’s judges (cf. Exodus 18:13–26), who established a theocratic government: “A king shall reign in righteousness and rulers rule with justice” (Isaiah 32:1; cf. Jeremiah 23:1–5).
      After this you shall be called the City of Righteousness, a faithful city. While the once-faithful “city” becomes a “harlot”—a place in which “righteousness” no longer abides (v 21)—God’s cleansing results in a city of righteousness grounded in principles of righteousness, and founded by righteousness—God’s servant (Isaiah 41:2). That city, called “Zion” (v 27), God preserves from a Sodom-and-Gomorrah type of destruction (vv 8–9). Two “cities” thus emerge in the Book of Isaiah: one wicked, the other righteous; one destroyed, the other delivered (cf. Isaiah 25:2; 26:1–6; 33:20).
      
1:27 For Zion shall be ransomed by justice,
      those of her who repent by righteousness.

      Isaiah here gives his definition of Zion: "those of her who repent." That is, those of God's people—Jehovah's wife within the marriage covenant—who repent. To them, Jehovah comes to reign, as we observe in a repeat version of Isaiah's definition of Zion: "He will come as Redeemer to Zion, to those of Jacob who repent of transgression" (Isaiah 59:20). While those who are called Jacob or Israel in the Book of Isaiah represent a category of believers in the God of Israel, those who are identified as Zion or Jerusalem represent a higher category—persons who repent, not all of God's people.
      Justice . . . righteousness. The reestablishment of justice and righteousness qualifies God's people who repent for deliverance from destruction in his Day of Judgment. To that end, God sends his servant, who personifies righteousness, to restore justice in the earth and to serve as an exemplar of righteousness (cf. Isaiah 41:2; 42:1–4; 46:11–13). While the verb "ransomed" ( pdh) applies largely to the physical deliverance of God's people in the Book of Isaiah, its synonym "redeemed" ( gᐣl) applies to their spiritual salvation: he who "redeems" is Jehovah; he who "ransoms" is his servant.
      
1:28 But criminals and sinners
      shall be altogether shattered
when those who forsake Jehovah are annihilated.

            The parallelism of (1) “criminals and sinners” who are “shattered” with (2) “those who forsake Jehovah” who are “annihilated” identifies both as God’s people. These, in turn, parallel “adversaries” and enemies” (v 24)—also God’s people—in a chiastic mini-structure, as follows: a. adversaries and enemies are avenged (v 24); b. God’s hand is restored (v 25); c. a righteous city is born (v 26); b. Zion is ransomed by righteousness (v 27); and a. criminals and sinners are annihilated (v 28). In short, when God’s hand of righteousness intervenes, some are delivered while others perish.


1:29 And youb will be ashamed of the oaks you cherished
      and blush for the parks you were fond of;

      Isaiah depicts a kind of nature worship centered around "oaks" and "parks." The parallel verbs "cherished" or "lust after" (ḥǎmadtem) and "fond of" or "preferred" (běḥartem) point to the idolatrous nature of this practice (cf. Isaiah 57:5; 65:3). Applying additional meanings of these terms, however—as the word "oaks" (ᐣelim) serves as a metaphor for elite people (cf. Isaiah 61:3)—those whom God's people fancy include persons of wealth, power, and position who are popular in society, toward whom they "express fawning adulation" (ḥǎmadtem) or whom they idolize as "gods" (ᐣêlîm).
      
1:30 you shall become like an oak whose leaves wither,
      and as a garden that has no water.

            In God’s Day of Judgment, what is exalted Jehovah lays low (cf. Isaiah 26:5; 47:1–5), while what is low he exalts (cf. Isaiah 49:7; 52:1–2). The covenant curses of drought, searing winds, and dying vegetation overtake the wicked (cf. Isaiah 17:13; 27:8; 33:9), causing rivers and lakes to evaporate and dry up (cf. Isaiah 19:5–7; 42:15). Although the pronoun “you” addresses God’s people, these desolate conditions are widespread (cf. Isaiah 24:4–12). Indeed, his people’s apostasy precipitates God’s Day of Judgment. Though the whole earth suffers, they are the catalyst (cf. Isaiah 10:5–14).


1:31 The mighty shall be as refuse,
       and their works a spark;
both shall burn up alike,
       and there shall be none to extinguish.

      The "mighty" (heḥāsōn)—the pillars of society—become but burnt refuse as God cleanses the earth of wickedness. Their works or institutions provide the very spark that sets off the conflagration. "Refuse" (ně ōret), a chaos motif, signifies their society's entire disintegration before a new, Zion society takes its place (cf. Isaiah 2:2–4). God appoints the king of Assyria as his instrument for burning up the wicked of his people and of the nations (cf. v 7; Isaiah 9:18–19; 10:5–7; 33:1, 12–14). God ordained the archtyrant's cleansing of the earth "long ago . . . in days of old" (Isaiah 37:26).
      

     a25  Hebrew kabbor, as with potash/lye, emended to kakur; compare 48:10.

     b29  Hebrew they.