Isaiah 5 Commentary

God’s love and Judah’s response (5:1-30)

Judah and Israel together are likened to God’s vineyard. God did everything possible to make it healthy, beautiful and fruitful, and he expected a good harvest of grapes, but the people brought God none of the fruit he expected (5:1-4). He therefore will cease to care for them, so that they might be left to suffer whatever ruin their sin brings upon them. Israel has already been destroyed and Judah will now follow (5-7).


Examples of the sins that brought this judgment are now given. The first people to be condemned are the rich landowners, who lend money to the poor at high rates of interest, then seize their lands when they are unable to pay their debts. But the houses and lands that the rich have dishonestly gained will bring them no profit (8-10).

Next to be condemned are the leading citizens of Jerusalem, who live only for pleasure and have fallen under the power of strong drink. Their greed will be replaced by tormenting thirst when they are carried captive into a foreign country. Many will die. The ‘greedy one’ in that day will be the world of the dead (Hebrew: sheol), who will eagerly ‘swallow up’ the multitudes killed by the enemy (11-14). God’s justice will be carried out upon Jerusalem and the wicked city will be left in ruins. Its only inhabitants will be sheep and goats, for all the people will have been taken into captivity (15-17).

The prophet pictures the people of Jerusalem as having so much sin that they pull it along by the cartload. Some actually boast of the amount of sin they commit and challenge God to stop them (18-19). Others try to reverse God’s standards by calling evil good and good evil. They claim that they know everything and have no need of God (20-21). Judges and officials love the social life of the upper classes. They are not interested in administering justice, but only in increasing their own luxury through collecting bribes (22-23).

When a nation claims to be God’s people but defiantly ignores his standards, it only invites his judgment. It is like a field of dry grass about to be burnt (24-25). God responds by sending against it an enemy nation whose army is so highly disciplined, well equipped and fiercely aggressive that Judah cannot possible escape (26-30).

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