The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 59

Isa 59:2

YOUR INIQUITIES... YOUR SINS: Continuation of Day of Atonement background/theme from Isa 58.

YOUR SINS HAVE HIDDEN HIS FACE FROM YOU: Isaiah's vision of the seraphim with the covered faces (Isa 6:2). Adam and Eve driven from garden of Eden. Ct Isa 53:3.

Isa 59:3

YOUR HANDS ARE STAINED WITH BLOOD: A grim irony: it was supposed to be the hands of the High Priest stained with blood, as he offered the sacrificial blood on the mercy seat on Day of Atonement!

LIPS... TONGUE: Respectively, open and secret lies.

Isa 59:4

Isa 59:4

THEY CONCEIVE TROUBLE: Cit Psa 7:14, re the traitor who plots against the life of God's Beloved.

Isa 59:5

"Here is all the quiet evil of the serpent, as in Eden. It is even possible that the worship of the brazen serpent, stamped out by Hezekiah, had secretly come into being again" (WIsa 506).

Israel as a generation of serpents: Luk 3:7; Mat 12:34.

SPIDER'S WEB: "Custom, reputation, praise, advancement, and other flies, are the small game which hypocrites take in their nets. A spider's web is a marvel of skill: look at it and admire the cunning hunter's wiles. Is not a deceiver's religion equally wonderful? How does he make so barefaced a lie appear to be a truth? How can he make his tinsel answer so well the purpose of gold? A spider's web comes all from the creature's own bowels. The bee gathers her wax from flowers, the spider sucks no flowers, and yet she spins out her material to any length. Even so hypocrites find their trust and hope within themselves... But a spider's web is very frail. It is curiously wrought, but not enduringly manufactured. It is no match for the servant's broom, or the traveller's staff... Hypocritical cobwebs will soon come down when the besom of destruction begins its purifying work... Such cobwebs are not to be endured in the Lord's house: He will see to it that they and those who spin them shall be destroyed for ever" (CHS).

WHEN ONE IS BROKEN, AN ADDER IS HATCHED: If one seeks to crush their eggs (as in Gen 3:15), then the serpents break forth anyway.

ADDER: Heb "ephgeh", from rt "to hiss". Used only here. The serpent lie: Gen 3; 2Co 11:3,4. The seed of the serpent: sin and death: Jam 3:14,15. See Article, Viper of Isa 59.

Isa 59:6

THEIR COBWEBS ARE USELESS FOR CLOTHING: Like the sinners in Eden, they fashion ingenious coverings of their own, contrary to what God has commanded, and in a vain attempt to hide themselves from God (Gen 3:7).

Isa 59:7

Cit Rom 3:15-17, to prove that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin (Rom 3:9). This whole passage (Isa 59) suggests the plans and trials of High Priest, Herod, and Pilate [both Jews and Gentiles] to destroy Jesus: cp Mat 27:4.

Isa 59:8

THE WAY OF PEACE THEY DO NOT KNOW: Cp Isa 57:21. They cannot receive the blessing of "Peace" from the lips of the High Priest. Cp Christ's words in Luk 19:42.

THEY HAVE TURNED THEM INTO CROOKED ROADS: And John the Baptist urges that crooked roads should/must be made straight (Isa 40:3,4; Luk 3:5). Cp Paul's charge against Elymas the sorcerer: Act 13:10.

Isa 59:9

WE LOOK FOR LIGHT: The shining forth of the Shekinah Glory on Day of Atonement, signifying forgiveness of sins and renewal of nation.

BUT ALL IS DARKNESS: But there is no Glory of God to shine forth...

BRIGHTNESS: Heb "nogah" (Isa 60:3; 62:1) -- which always ref the Shekinah Glory of Yahweh.

Isa 59:10


AT MIDDAY WE STUMBLE: Saul of Tarsus, making haste to shed innocent blood (Isa 59:7), is struck blind at noon (Act 22:6)! At crucifixion, darkness over Land from 6th to 9th hr (Luk 23:49). Cp the men of Sodom (Gen 19:11).

Isa 59:12

Vv 12-16: "The point here is simple: no amount of human effort or cleverness, no reliance on legalism or the keeping of rules, can acquit mankind from a sweeping and utterly justified condemnation before God. V 13 compresses the proven indictment into 'Guilty on two counts -- crime against God and against one's neighbour'... From this guilt there is no escape by any human means... Was His great purpose, begun in Eden, to come to nought? So He went into action" (WIsa 509).

Isa 59:16

HE SAW THAT THERE WAS NO ONE: Similar ideas in Isa 63:5; Jer 5:1; Eze 22:30. This also explains Exo 2:12: when Moses saw no man.

HIS OWN ARM: Cp Isa 51:9; 53:1.

Isa 59:17

"Sin has not only to be atoned for, but also slain. So the equipment of the High Priest -- breastplate, crown, ephod, girdle and the rest -- become the accoutrements of a warrior: a different kind of breastplate, a helmet of salvation, garments of vengeance (ct v 6), zeal as a cloak (sw Isa 9:7), the girdle of truth, and the sword of the Sprit (v 21). And all who join in this war must be similarly equipped with 'the whole armor of God' -- it is called that because He is the Commander-in-chief and He provides the equipment (Eph 6:14-17; 1Th 5:8)" (WIsa 511).


Isa 59:20

To fulfill prayer of Psa 14:7. See Rom 11:26 -- blindness to Israel (v 10), fullness of Gentiles (Isa 60), then Israel is also saved (here): Jer 31:34. Zion -- site of Shekinah Glory (Isa 56:7; 60:7). The glory departed (Eze 10:18; 11:23), but will return (Eze 43:2-5). "Thy light is come" (Isa 60:1).

REDEEMER: Heb "gaal" = near-kinsman.

ZION: See Rev 14:1n; Isa 60:16.

Isa 59:21

OR FROM THE MOUTHS OF YOUR CHILDREN: At the time of the great Assyrian invasion, Hezekiah had no child ; here is a promise of the birth of a seed -- Manasseh.

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