Isaiah 5


‘I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.” The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.’ Isaiah 5:1-7

The Song Of The Vineyard

This chapter is the song of the vineyard, which portrays God’s planting of Israel as a vineyard in the promised Land, Matthew 21:33-46 / Psalm 80:8-13. Sadly, it’s not a joyous song, but a song of judgment against Judah.

The Vineyard

This is one of the most important products of Palestine. The first mention of it is in the history of Noah, Genesis 9:20. It is afterwards frequently noticed both in the Old and New Testaments, and in the ruins of terraced vineyards, there is evidence that the Jews extensively cultivated it.

It was cultivated in Palestine before the Israelites took possession of it. The men sent out by Moses brought with them from the Valley of Eshkol a cluster of grapes so large that they bare it between two upon a staff, Numbers 13:23.

The vineyards of En-Gedi, Song of Solomon 1:14, Heshbon, Sibmah, Jazer, Elealeh, Isaiah 16:8-10 / Jeremiah 48:32-34 and Helbon, Ezekiel 27:18, as well as of Eshkol, were celebrated.

The church is compared to a vine, Psalm 80:8, and Christ says of Himself, ‘I am the vine’, John 15:1. In one of his parables, Matthew 21:33, our Lord compares His Church to a vineyard which a certain householder planted and hedged around.

The preparation of a vineyard is the most costly and troublesome of all the operations of that primitive husbandry in Eastern lands, the methods of which have remained unchanged and unimproved from the earliest records. It is, in fact, the only branch of agriculture practised there that demands any considerable outlay.

In the first place, a permanent fence must carefully enclose the vineyard, which is required for no other crop. The pasturelands outside the villages are all unfenced, and the boundaries only are marked by well-known stones or landmarks.

The grain fields are equally open, or only protected by thorn branches strewn on the ground, whereas the olive yards nearer the town or village are equally unprotected.

When the vineyard has been consequently hedged, the next operation is to gather out the stones, not the small stones that strew all the hillsides and are indispensable for the retention of moisture in the soil but the larger boulders, which are heaped in long rows like a ruined stonewall. On these rows, the vines are trailed to preserve the fruit from dampness.

Next, there must be a wine press which is hewn out of the native rock; for the grapes are always pressed on the spot, lest they should be bruised and injured by conveying them a distance.

These wine presses, or vats, are the most imperishable records of the past in the deserted land. They are simply two parallel troughs, one above the other, with a perforated channel between them.

The bunches of grapes are thrown into the upper vat, where they are trodden, and the juice flows into the lower one. These wine vats, found in abundance through the whole land and even far into the southern desert, are silent witnesses to its former fertility.

Then, unless the vineyard adjoins the village, there must be a temporary lodge, or booth, erected on poles. But, more generally, a permanent tower, of which many traces may still be seen, was built for the watchman to use during the season, to guard the vintage against thieves or jackals.

Israel is God’s vineyard, the one He loves, Psalm 127:2 / Deuteronomy 33:12, but it yielded nothing for its owner. Isaiah describes a parable designed to set forth the highly favoured position of the nation and her failure. He describes the vineyard and says God has done everything he can for his vineyard but it didn’t turn out right.

It was fenced, that is, it had a wall around it, it had a tower for watching and defending, Isaiah 1:8 / Matthew 21:33. It had a winepress to squeeze the juice out of the grapes, Matthew 21:33. Everything was done in order that faithfulness is produced and God’s name glorified.

Israel was planted with all the advantages but produced wild and useless grapes, Deuteronomy 32:32-33. She was now useless for bringing glory to God.

God would just take down the hedge, that is He took away His blessing and protection, and let the wild beast eat it up, which is a reference to the captivity of Judah.

Every blessing would be withheld. Their farms were laid waste when thousands of Israelites were taken into captivity. God looked for justice and righteousness, the fruit of the spirit of God, but found only bloodshed and distress.

Woes And Judgments

‘Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. The LORD Almighty has declared in my hearing: “Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants. A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine; a homer of seed will yield only an ephah of grain.” Isaiah 5:8-10

There are six woes found within the song and Israel are described as six types of rotten fruit, drunkenness, sarcastic, liars, conceited and perverse. The sins of the people and the woe that will befall them are set forth, and this is followed by the announcement of the Lord’s punishment.

The first woe is upon the greedy landowners who were so greedy they grasped everything on every side of them, Micah 2:2 / Nehemiah 5:1-8.

They crowded out small farmers who were driven to the cities as the poor, Numbers 27:1-11 / Numbers 33:54 / 1 Kings 21:3-4. Large landowners made no room for the poor to glean from the leftovers.

As a result, their houses became desolate, which is a reference to the punishment from God when the Assyrians and Babylonians took them into captivity and their enemies raided their homes and stole their goods.

The land would also suffer, although ten acres would normally produce a lot of wine, here God says it wouldn’t even make a bath of wine, which is around 8 gallons.

‘Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. They have harps and lyres at their banquets, pipes and timbrels and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands.’ Isaiah 5:11-12

These verses speak against those who drink strongly, those who are living for pleasure. It appears they get drunk in an attempt to drown their troubles, 1 Thessalonians 5:7.

The wealthy used most of their time at drunken parties, totally oblivious to the danger which was coming. They didn’t think about anyone else except themselves and thought they could carry on living like this.

‘Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; those of high rank will die of hunger and the common people will be parched with thirst. Therefore Death expands its jaws, opening wide its mouth; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revellers. So people will be brought low and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled. But the LORD Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts. Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture; lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich.’ Isaiah 5:13-17

These words speak against those who are proud, the people who were spiritually dull, this is one of the reasons for Israel’s captivity. The high rank of society will die of hunger and the common people would be parched with thirst.

Death, that is, the grave will be filled with the dead to the point that the dead couldn’t be numbered, Numbers 16:30.

They refused to listen to God, and as a result, all classes of people would be brought down from their stool of pride. God shows Himself holy by His righteousness, God’s justice and holiness are shown in His actions.

Notice that the sheep and the lambs are pictures roaming where Jerusalem once stood, this is a picture of complete destruction.

‘Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes, to those who say, “Let God hurry; let him hasten his work so we may see it. The plan of the Holy One of Israel—let it approach, let it come into view, so we may know it.” Isaiah 5:18-19

Here we read of a woe upon the materialists who have a false set of values. Their falsehood was the cords with which they drew their iniquity, in other words, common individual sins became cultural norms by which society conducted itself.

Scoffers doubted whether or not the day of Jehovah would come, they just made fun of God. Because of their arrogance and ignorance concerning God’s work, they brought judgment upon themselves. What they thought would be God’s good work in their lives was actually God working to bring His judgment upon them.

‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.’ Isaiah 5:20-23

Here we find woes against the moral perverts. They attempt to be two-faced, and some brag about how much they drink.

Darkness, signifies ignorance, error, false doctrine, and crime, whereas light signifies truth, knowledge, and piety. Bitterness signifies sin, Acts 8:23 / Romans 3:14 / Ephesians 4:31 / Hebrews 12:15 / Jeremiah 2:19 / Jeremiah 4:18.

It appears that they were a law unto themselves, each decided what was good and what was evil and they thought they were wise and clever, Proverbs 3:7 / Proverbs 26:12 / Romans 1:22. However, they had totally rejected God’s laws, Mark 7:1-9.

They took pride in themselves because of the amount of alcohol they could consume, Isaiah 56:12.

However, as a result of their drunken state, these judges had become perverted in their justice toward the innocent, Zephaniah 3:3. Their drunkenness was affecting their thinking and judgments, Amos 9:8.

‘Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the LORD’s anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down. The mountains shake, and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.’ Isaiah 5:24-25

Here we have a warning against all evil workers, and so, God calls and the nations of the world come to seek out Israel. This is a fiery judgment as God’s judgment on them would send thousands to death. They were corrupt to the root, and so, brought forth blossoms of iniquity.

All this would happen because they had rejected God and His laws, Hosea 4:6 / Mark 7:9. God is angry, Isaiah 9:12 / Isaiah 9:17 / Isaiah 9:21 / Isaiah 10:4 / Isaiah 23:11, and because of their sins, God’s hand was stretched forth against them, which is bad news for them.

‘He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he whistles for those at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily! Not one of them grows tired or stumbles, not one slumbers or sleeps; not a belt is loosened at the waist, not a sandal strap is broken. Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung; their horses’ hooves seem like flint, their chariot wheels like a whirlwind. Their roar is like that of the lion, they roar like young lions; they growl as they seize their prey and carry it off with no one to rescue. In that day they will roar over it like the roaring of the sea. And if one looks at the land, there is only darkness and distress; even the sun will be darkened by clouds.’ Isaiah 5:26-30

Hostile armies came from afar to fight against the people of God and here, God summoned the Assyrians to bring judgment upon His vineyard that had gone so bad.

He lifts up the banner so that the army assemble for war against His people, Isaiah 44:28 / Isaiah 45:1-7 / Isaiah 10:5-7 / Isaiah 9:11 / Isaiah 8:18. The Assyrian army would come quickly, Job 39:19-25, fully prepared to carry out God’s judgment on His fruitless, sinful people.

There is total darkness, Isaiah 59:9 / Amos 5:18 / Amos 5:20 / Lamentations 3:2, it’s a distressing place and so, the Northern Kingdom of Judah would be no more. We must remember God doesn’t create evil, but He does use evil to bring about His purposes.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The extended metaphor of the lion, the lioness, and the young lions points squarely at the king of Assyria and his merciless armies as instruments through which the impending judgment of God’s rebellious and wicked people would be executed. A reading of Nahum 2:11-13 will quickly reveal how this lion metaphor constituted the universally known logo of Assyria, an identification that clung to that evil kingdom until their own final destruction.’

Go To Isaiah 6


"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."