on Isaiah 43 :27
Thy first father hath sinned - On this Kimchi speaks well: "How can ye say that ye have not sinned, seeing your first father, Adam, sinned; and man hath sin impressed on him through natural generation?"
on Isaiah 43 :27
Thy first father hath sinned - This is the argument on the side of God, to show that they were neither unjustly punished, nor punished with undue severity. The argument is, that their rulers and teachers had been guilty of crime, and that therefore it was right to bring all this vengeance upon the nation. Various interpretations have been given of the phrase 'thy first father.' A slight notice of them will lead to the correct exposition.
1. Many have supposed that Adam is referred to here. Thus Piscator, Calovius, and most of the fathers, understand it; and, among the Jews, Kimchi. But the objections to this are plain:
(a) Adam was not peculiarly the first father or ancestor of the Jews, but of the whole human race.
(b) The Jews never boasted, or gloried in him as the founder of their nation, but they always referred to Abraham under this appellation Matthew 3:9; John 8:33, John 8:39.
(c) It would have been irrelevant to the design of the prophet to have referred to the sin of Adam in this case. God was vindicating his own cause and conduct in destroying their capital and temple, and in sending them as captives to a distant land. How would it prove that he was right in this, to say that Adam was a transgressor? How would it demonstrate his justice in these special inflictions of his anger to refer to the apostasy of the ancestor of the whole human race?
2. Others refer it to Abraham. This was the sentiment of Jerome, and of some others; and by those who maintain this opinion, it is supposed to refer to his doubting the truth of the promise Genesis 15:8; or to the denial of his wife, and his sin in inducing her to say that she was his sister Genesis 12:11; Genesis 20:2; or to the fact that when young he was an idolater. But the obvious objection to this is, that Abraham is everywhere in the Scriptures proposed as an example of one eminently devoted to God; nor could it be said that these calamities had come upon them in consequence of his unfaithfulness, and his sins.
3. Others refer it to the rulers and princes individually. Thus Grotius refers it to Manasseh; Aben Ezra to Jeroboam, etc.
4. Others, as Vitringa, refer it to the high priest, and particularly to Uriah, who lived in the time of Ahaz, and particularly to the fact, that, in obedience to the command of Ahaz, he constructed an altar in Jerusalem like the one which he had seen and admired in Damascus 2 Kings 16:10-16. The objection to this interpretation is, that no reason can be given for selecting this particular act from a number of similar abominations on the part of the priests and rulers, as the cause of the national calamities. It was only one instance out of many of the crimes which brought the national judgments upon them.
5. Others, as Gesenius, suppose that the word is to be taken collectively, not as referring to any particular individual, but to the high priests in general. It is not uncommon to give the name 'father' thus to a principal man among a people, and especially to one eminent in religious authority. The word 'first' here does not refer to time, but to rank; not the ancestor of the people, but the one having appropriately the title of father, who had the priority also in rank. The Septuagint renders it, Οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν πρῶτοι Hoi pateres humōn prōtoi. It refers therefore, probably, to the character of the presiding officers in religion, and means that the priests, supreme in rank, and whose example was so important, had sinned; that there was irreligion at the very foundation of influence and authority; and that therefore it was necessary to bring these heavy judgments on the nation. No one acquainted with the history of the Jewish people in the times immediately preceding the captivity, can doubt that this was the character of the high priesthood.
(Gesenius and some others give the words a collective sense, as signifying either the succession of priests or ancestors in general. The interpretation which understands the phrase of Abraham, is supposed by some to be at variance with the uniform mention of that patriarch in terms of commendation. But these terms are perfectly consistent with the proposition that he was a sinner, which may here be the exact sense of חטא châṭâ'. To the application of the phrase to Adam, it has been objected, that he was not peculiarly the father of the Jews. To this it may be answered, that if the guilt of the national progenitor would prove the point in question, much more would it be established by the fact of their belonging to a guilty race. At the same time it may be considered as implied, that all their fathers, who had since lived, shared in the original depravity; and thus the same sense is obtained that would have been expressed by the collective explanation of first father, while the latter is still taken in its strict and full sense, as denoting the progenitor of all mankind. - Alexander)
And thy teachers - Margin, 'Interpreters.' The word used here (מלציך melı̂ytseykā) is derived from לוץ lûts. This word means to stammer, to speak unintelligibly; and then to speak in a foreign and barbarous language, and then to interpret, from the idea of speaking a foreign tongue. Hence, it may be used in the sense of an internuncius, or a messenger (2 Chronicles 32:31; compare the notes at Job 33:23). That it refers here to the priests, there can be no doubt, and is properly applied to them because they sustained the office of interpreting his will to the people, and generally of acting as internuncii or messengers between God and them. The Septuagint renders it, " Ἄρχοντρς Archontes - 'Rulers.'
on Isaiah 43 :27
43:27 Thy father - This may be put for their forefathers; and so he tells them, that as they were sinners, so also were their progenitors, yea even the best of them. Teachers - Thy priests and prophets; who were their intercessors with God: and if these were transgressors, the people had no reason to fancy themselves innocent.