on Isaiah 1 :3
The ox knoweth - An amplification of the gross insensibility of the disobedient Jews, by comparing them with the most heavy and stupid of all animals, yet not so insensible as they. Bochart has well illustrated the comparison, and shown the peculiar force of it. "He sets them lower than the beasts, and even than the most stupid of all beasts, for there is scarcely any more so than the ox and the ass. Yet these acknowledge their master; they know the manger of their lord; by whom they are fed, not for their own, but for his good; neither are they looked upon as children, but as beasts of burden; neither are they advanced to honors, but oppressed with great and daily labors. While the Israelites, chosen by the mere favor of God, adopted as sons, promoted to the highest dignity, yet acknowledged not their Lord and their God; but despised his commandments, though in the highest degree equitable and just." Hieroz. i., Colossians 409.
Jeremiah's comparison to the same purpose is equally elegant, but has not so much spirit and severity as this of Isaiah.
"Even the stork in the heavens knoweth her season;
And the turtle, and the swallow, and the crane, observe the time of their coming:
But my people doth not know the judgment of Jehovah.
on Isaiah 1 :3
The ox ... - The design of this comparison is to show the great stupidity and ingratitude of the Jews. Even the least sagacious and most stupid of the animals, destitute as they are of reason and conscience, evince knowledge anal submission far more than the professed people of God. The ox is a well known domestic animal, remarkable for patient willingness to toil, and for submission to his owner.
Knoweth his owner - Recognizes, or is submissive to him.
The ass - A well known animal, proverbial for dulness and stupidity.
His master's crib - אבוס 'êbûs from אבס 'âbas, to heap up, and then to fatten. Hence, it is applied to the stall, barn, or crib, where cattle are fed, or made fat; Job 39:9; Proverbs 14:4. The donkey has sufficient knowledge to understand that his support is derived from that. The idea is, that the ox was more submissive to laws than the Jews; and that even the most stupid animal better knew from where support was to be derived, than they did the source of their comfort and protection. The donkey would not wander away, and the ox would not rebel as they had done. This comparison was very striking, and very humiliating, and nothing could be more suited to bring down their pride. A similar comparison is used elsewhere. Thus, in Jeremiah 8:7, the Jews are contrasted with the stork: 'Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle Dove, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord.' This idea has been beautifully expressed by Watts:
The brutes obey their God,
And bow their necks to men;
But we more base, more brutish things,
Reject his easy reign.
Compare Hosea 11:4.
But Israel - The name Israel, though after the division of the tribes into two kingdoms specifically employed to denote that of the ten tribes, is often used in the more general sense to denote the whole people of the Jews, including the kingdom of Judah. It refers here to the kingdom of Judah, though a name is used which is not inappropriately characteristic of the whole people.
Doth not know - The Latin Vulgate, the Septuagint, and the Arabic, add the word 'me.' The word know is used in the sense of recognizing him as their Lord; of acknowledging him, or submitting to him.
Doth not consider - Hebrew, Do not "understand." They have a stupidity greater than the brute.
on Isaiah 1 :3
1:3 Know - Me their owner and master. Knowing is here taken practically, as it is usually in scripture, and includes reverence and obedience.