Isaiah Chapter 5

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In this chapter, I found familiar territory regarding the Lord’s vineyard, which “is the only parable found in Isaiah’s writings.”Personally, I’ve spent plenty of time with the parables of the olive garden in Jacob and again in D&C 101, so this chapter wasn’t quite so foreign to me. Also, Madsen and Hopkin pointed out: “Jesus relied upon this vineyard imagery in many of his parables: Matt 20:1; 21:28, 33–41; Mark 12:1; Luke 20:9–16; 13:6; John 15:1. See also Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon.”2

Victor Ludlow previews Isaiah 5 with this brief overview by writing:”Isaiah presents new literary techniques and teaching patterns in this unusual chapter. Using a parable with a surprise ending, six snapshots of woeful human behavior, and a prophecy with a pleasant promise, he foreshadows the scattering of the children of Israel, recounts their multiple disappointments, and foretells their eventual gathering.”3

However, as often is the case with Isaiah, the last five verses at the end of the chapter offer several possible meanings. The first could teach about how nations would gather against the Israelites in Isaiah’s day, and the second teaches about how the Lord would gather Israel in the last days.

 THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET
ISAIAH

CHAPTER 5

The Lord’s vineyard (Israel) will become desolate, and His people will be scattered—Woes will come upon them in their apostate and scattered state—The Lord will lift an ensign and gather Israel—Compare 2 Nephi 15.

King James Version  Book of Mormon
2 Nephi 15
 Expanded Notes and Commentary
Joseph Smith Translation (JST) corrections are in RED; commentary is GREEN and when not otherwise noted comes from Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students
aNow will I bsing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his cvineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard din a very fruitful hill: aAnd then will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved, touching his bvineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill. Verses 1–2 are known as the Song of the Vineyard, it “…demonstrates Isaiah’s literary skill and is well known for its beautiful language and poetic structure. This is the only parable found in Isaiah’s writings—Ludlow, Unlocking Isaiah in the Book of Mormonp. 103.
“The Book of Mormon version of the Isaiah text, this song is presented as something sung “then” (2 Ne. 15:1)—that is, at that day when the word of promise from Isaiah 4 is fulfilled. (This is a consequence of the way the Book of Mormon makes Isaiah 2–4 and Isaiah 5 into a single chapter.)…but it curiously projects the song into the future, making it something that will need to be sung once Israel has been reduced to just a remnant.—Spencer, Joseph M., The Vision of All: Twenty-five Lectures on Isaiah in Nephi’s Record (Part 2 of 2), Greg Kofford Books. Kindle Edition.
And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest avine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a wine-press therein; and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

Isaiah details careful preparations for the vineyard. The master chooses fertile soil on a “fruitful hill,” cultivates the soil, selects good stock, protects the crop, and prepares for the crop’s harvest and storage. In chronological sequence, Isaiah describes that he “fenced [the vineyard],” “gathered out the stones,” “planted it,” “built a tower in the midst of it,” and “made a wine-press.” The master invests time, energy, and money into this project, and by building his own winepress in the garden, he shows that he anticipates a fruitful yield from his crop.—Ludlow, Unlocking Isaiah in the Book of Mormonp. 103.

Blair Van Dyke, my eveing Institute teacher, pointed out in modern terms the four sides of the fence are temples, stakes, homes, and faithful saints.

 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. I’ll give you the facts; you be the judge.—Ridges, David J., The Old Testament Made Easier Part 3, Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition
 4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth awild grapes? What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes it brought forth wild grapes. This is “the main question—compare with Jacob 5:47, 49]? wherefore [why], when I looked [planned] that it should bring forth grapes [the desired result, faithful people], brought it forth wild grapes [wicked people; apostasy]?—Ridges, David J., The Old Testament Made Easier Part 3, Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my avineyard: I will btake away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the cwall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard—I will atake away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down; The loss of protection for the vineyard, the neglect, and the effects of famine would result from Israel’s transgression (see vv. 5–7). OTSM
And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

The lack of cultivation resulting from broken covenants leads to briars and thorns. Compare Gen 3:18.—Madsen & Hopkin, Opening Isaiah, p 18 

7 For the avineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for bjudgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold ca cry.   For the avineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant; and he looked for bjudgment, and behold, coppression; for righteousness, but behold, a cry. Israel was carefully established by the Lord, and He looked to see them repeat Abrahamic behavior. All he could see, though, was their imitation of wrongdoing by the nations Abraham was called to minister to.Spencer, Joseph M., The Vision of All, Greg Kofford Books. Kindle Edition.
The parable of the vineyard condemns Israel for failing to serve the Lord. Isaiah now presents evidence for this accusation through six pronouncements of “woe and judgment” upon the house of Israel. Each “woe” outlines the Israelites’ evil actions and specifies the antithetic punishment that will befall them because of their choices.—Ludlow, Unlocking Isaiah in the Book of Mormonp. 105
 ¶ Woe unto them that ajoin bhouse to housethat lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may cbe placed alone in the midst of the earth! Wo unto them that join ahouse to house, till there can be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!x

Beginning here Isaiah lists the first of six woe-oracles

This verse condemns the purchase of large tracts of land for one dwelling place while ignoring the needs of many poor.—Madsen & Hopkin, Opening Isaiah, p 18 

“‘They, the insatiable, would not rest till, after every smaller piece of landed property had been swallowed by them, the whole land had come into their possession, and no one beside themselves was settled in the land’ [Job 22:8]. Such covetousness was all the more reprehensible because the law of Israel had provided so very stringently and carefully, that as far as possible there should be an equal distribution of the soil, and that hereditary family property should be inalienable.”—Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 7:1:166

 In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.

x

x

In mine ears, said the Lord of Hosts, of a truth many houses shall be desolate, and great and fair cities without inhabitant.

x

x

Isaiah describes the ironic punishment of these selfish landlords—their houses and vast lands (their source of pride and success) will be made desolate, and their once fruitful fields (prosperity) will yield pathetic harvests (income).—Ludlow, Unlocking Isaiah in the Book of Mormonp. 105 
10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one abath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah. 10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one abath, and the seed of a homer shall yield an ephah. An acre is the amount a yoke of oxen could plow in a day. A bath is about 5.5 gallons. A homer is about 6.5 bushels, and an ephah is one-tenth of a homer. These measurements show how unproductive the land would become because of this wickedness. OTSM 
11 ¶ Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till awine inflame them! 11 Wo unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may afollow strong drink, that continue until night, and bwine inflame them!

Begining with this verse through 17 Isaiah is the second woe.

Drunkenness and partying prevail, with no regard for God. OTSM

12 And the harp, and the aviol, the btabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they cregard not the dwork of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands. 12 And the harp, and the aviol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine are in their feasts; but they bregard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands. There is no knowledge of truth and true principles. Ignorance is a hindrance in any field of endeavor, but especially in spiritual things. The Prophet Joseph Smith gave instruction on this important principle: “The Church must be cleansed, and I proclaim against all iniquity. A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.” (Teachings,p. 217.) OTSM
13 ¶ Therefore my people are gone into acaptivity, because they have no bknowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. 13 Therefore, my people are gone into acaptivity, because they have no bknowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.

Famine is a result of how little the land produces because of the lack of rain.—Madsen & Hopkin, Opening Isaiah, p 18 

 

14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their apomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. 14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their apomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. I love Ridges commentary on this verse: “they’ve had to add on to hell to make room for you [wider] …than anyone thought possible”—Ridges, David J., The Old Testament Made Easier Part 3, Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 
 15 And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the alofty shall be humbled: 15 And the mean man shall be abrought down, and the bmighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the clofty shall be humbled. A mean man could be average, common or poor—Madsen & Hopkin, Opening Isaiah, p 18 
16 But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in ajudgment, and God that is bholy shall be sanctified in righteousness. 16 But the Lord of Hosts shall be exalted in ajudgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.
17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat. 17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the afat ones shall strangers eat. Isaiah concludes this woe with a prophecy that “lambs” will feed in the Israelites’ once fertile lands and “strangers” will partake of the Israelite’s labor, This pronouncement parallels Moses’ words: “The Lord shall bring a nation against thee…: And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed” (Deuteronomy 28:49, 51). Isaiah’s prophecy may also refer to the Gentiles or “other sheep” who will partake of the fruits of the gospel because of the Israelites’ disobedience to God’s commandments (John 10:163 Nephi 15:17, 21). —Ludlow, Unlocking Isaiah in the Book of Mormonp. 105  
18 Woe unto them that adraw iniquity with cords of bvanity, and sin cas it were with a cart rope: 18 Wo unto them that draw iniquity with cords of avanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope;

The third woe is in verses 18–19

“If I were to ask you what is the heaviest burden one may have to bear in this life, what would you answer? The heaviest burden that one has to bear in this life is the burden of sin”—President Harold B. Lee, “Stand Ye in Holy Places,” Ensign, July 1973, 122

They draw sin and iniquity with ropes of vanity. Isaiah 5:18c helps explain Isaiah’s idiomatic expressions: “They are tied to their sins like beasts to their burdens.” OTSM

19 That say, aLet him make bspeedand chasten his work, that we may dsee it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! 19 That say: Let him amake speed, bhasten his work, that we may csee it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it. Isaiah 5:19 records that because the people were lacking in faith, they were sign seekers who demanded that God demonstrate His power (see 2 Peter 3:3–4)  OTSTM

 20 ¶ Woe unto them that call aevil bgood, and good evil; that put cdarkness for dlight, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Scripture MasteryAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. What are some examples of evil things or behaviors that are being called good in our day?

    2. How can you tell what is really evil and what is really good?

    3. Where can we turn to learn what is really evil and what is really good?

20 Wo unto them that acall bevil good, and good evil, that put cdarkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

This is the fourth woe

“Political campaigns and marketing strategies widely employ public opinion polls to shape their plans. Results of those polls are informative. But they could hardly be used as grounds to justify disobedience to God’s commandments! Even if ‘everyone is doing it,’ wrong is never right. Evil, error, and darkness will never be truth, even if popular” —Russel M. Nelson, “Let Your Faith Show,” Ensign, May 2014, 30–31

They pervert righteousness and goodness, calling them evil, and try to pass off evil things as good. It is the nature of sinners to reject the reality of the consequences of their transgressions, and so they attempt to explain them away. OTSM

 21 Woe unto them that are awise in their own beyes, and cprudent in their own sight!

21 Wo unto the awise in their own eyes and bprudent in their own sight!

 

This is the fifth woe

They are “wise in their own eyes.” President N. Eldon Tanner illustrated the necessity of heeding this warning. He noted that when people “become learned in the worldly things such as science and philosophy, [they] become self-sufficient and are prepared to lean unto their own understanding, even to the point where they think they are independent of God; and because of their worldly learning they feel that if they cannot prove physically, mathematically, or scientifically that God lives, they can and should feel free to question and even to deny God and Jesus Christ. Then many of our professors begin to teach perverse things, to lead away disciples after them; and our youth whom we send to them for learning accept them as authority, and many are caused to lose their faith in God. …How much wiser and better it is for man to accept the simple truths of the gospel and to accept as authority God, the Creator of the world, and his Son Jesus Christ, and to accept by faith those things which he cannot disprove and for which he cannot give a better explanation. He must be prepared to acknowledge that there are certain things—many, many things—that he cannot understand.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1968, pp. 48–49.) OTSM 

 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to adrink bwine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:

22 Wo unto the mighty to drink awine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink;

Isaiah’s sixth and final woe (vv. 22–23) chastises those who “are mighty to drink wine, and . . . mingle strong drink.” The Revised Standard Version of the Bible clarifies this passage: “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink.” This verse mocks and rebukes those who find fame in sinful festivities, and who acquire success through intoxication of body and spirit.  
  23 Which ajustify the bwicked for reward, and ctakeaway the righteousness of the righteous from him! 23 Who justify the wicked for areward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! They “justify the wicked for reward.” Those who were guilty of crimes were declared innocent by bribed judges and other officials, whereas the innocent were found guilty so that they could be silenced or their property exploited. Obviously, the dark evils that prevailed among the Israelites of the ancient kingdom of Judah help modern readers understand why the judgments of God come upon them. But today’s world can also learn a great lesson, for one need only look to see the same evils prevailing on many sides. The effects of sin today are as devastating as they were anciently. That is the message of Isaiah for today. OTSM 
 24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the astubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their broot shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 24 Therefore, as the afire devoureth the bstubble, and the flame consumeth the cchaff, their droot shall be rottenness, and their blossoms shall go up as dust; because they have cast away the law of the Lord of Hosts, and edespised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

The stubble and chaff are routinely left in a field to be burned after the harvest. A rotten root decays, killing the plant and leaving a dry blossom.—Madsen & Hopkin, Opening Isaiah, p 18 

 

 

25 Therefore is the aanger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath bstretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.  25 Therefore, is the aanger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them; and the hills did tremble, and their carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. The phrase “his hand is stretched out still” can represent both the justice and mercy of God—justice (destruction and punishment) for the wicked and mercy for the repentant if they will turn to God. From the context of the surrounding verses, the reader can often determine which meaning was intended by the scripture author. OTSTM (see chart below for more passages about His hand being out in justice and mercy)
Passages with “his hand is stretched out still” that likely refer to God’s justice:

Isaiah 9:12,* 17, 21(2 Nephi 19:12, 17, 21)
Isaiah 10:4 (2 Nephi 20:4)
Isaiah 10:13–14(2 Nephi 20:13–14)
Isaiah 14:26–27(2 Nephi 24:26–27)
Isaiah 23:11

Isaiah 9:12, footnote d, indicates that the phrase in this verse can refer to both justice and mercy.

Passages with “his hand is
stretched out still” that likely
refer to God’s mercy:
Exodus 6:6
Deuteronomy 5:15
Deuteronomy 7:19
Psalm 136:10–14
Jeremiah 32:21
Ezekiel 20:33–34
2 Nephi 28:32
Jacob 5:47
Jacob 6:4–5
Alma 5:33–34
Alma 19:36
3 Nephi 9:14
Mormon 6:17
D&C 136:22
Isaiah 5:26–30. “…and their wheels like a whirlwind’ than in the modern train? How better could ‘their roaring … be like a lion’ than in the roar of the airplane? Trains and airplanes do not stop for night. Therefore, was not Isaiah justified in saying: ‘none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken’? With this manner of transportation the Lord can really ‘hiss unto them from the end of the earth,’ that ‘they shall come with speed swiftly.’ Indicating that Isaiah must have foreseen the airplane, he stated: ‘Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?’ (Isaiah 60:8.)”—Elder LeGrand Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Israel! Do You Know? [1954], 182  

 26 ¶ And he will lift up an aensign to the nations from far, and will bhiss unto them from the cend of the earth: and, behold, they shall dcome with speed swiftly:

x

26 And he will lift up an aensign to the bnations from far, and will hiss unto them from the cend of the earth; and behold, they shall dcome with speed swiftly; none shall be weary nor stumble among them. bhiss :This expression describes a signal, such as a whistle, to summon or alert someone to an event. (see Isaiah 5:26b and Isaiah 7:18a.)
27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken: 27 None shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken;
28 Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:  28 Whose arrows shall be sharp, and all their bows bent, and their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind, their roaring like a lion.
29 Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young alions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the bprey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it. 29 They shall roar like young alions; yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry away safe, and none shall deliver.
30 And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the alight is bdarkened in the heavens thereof. 30 And in that aday they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea; and if they look unto the land, behold, darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.

Joseph Spencer and entirely different interpretation of the last five verses:

“…Isaiah 5 ends, then, with a prophecy of war against Israel. Oddly, there’s a longstanding tradition among Latter-day Saints of reading this concluding prophecy here as about missionary work, but it’s about war. You’ll hear people refer to the bent bows and sharp arrows of Isaiah’s prophecy, the whirlwind of wheels and the flinty hooves of horses, and they’ll say that Isaiah’s struggling here to describe trains or planes or whatever other modern means of transportation, carrying missionaries out to the world to preach the gospel. Missionaries, such argue, are those who “lay hold of the prey” and “carry away safe” (2 Ne. 15:29). We can grant that this sort of interpretation is imaginative and inventive, but it makes very little sense of the passage.

“Isaiah concludes this chapter with a prophecy of war and destruction. It opens with devouring fire and consuming flame, a response to those who ‘have cast away the law of the Lord of Hosts’ (v. 24). And we’re then told that ‘the anger of the Lord’ is ‘kindled against his people,’ such that ‘their carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets’ (v. 25).

“It’s to accomplish this that the Lord here ‘will lift up an ensign to the nations from far’ (v. 26). He’s waving a banner to invite the armies of the nations to come and devastate Israel. This isn’t the ensign you find elsewhere in scripture—elsewhere, in fact, in Isaiah—that signals a gathering place for Israel. It’s a flag that’s meant to signal the start of a war.

“And so Isaiah prophesies destruction. Armies ‘come with speed swiftly’ (2 Ne. 15:26). Their bows are bent with sharp arrows on the string. They come in their chariots (used only for war, remember), pulled by tireless horses (see 2 Ne. 15:28). And as they come to the battle, they do what all ancient armies did; they ‘roar like young lions’ (2 Ne. 15:29). Sadly for Israel, they ‘lay hold of the prey . . . , and none shall deliver’ (v. 29). The whole prophecy ends on an unmistakably dour note: ‘If they look unto the land, behold, darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof’ (v. 30). War and destruction, devastation and death, and all that’s left at the end is darkness.”—Spencer, Joseph M., The Vision of All: Twenty-five Lectures on Isaiah in Nephi’s Record, Greg Kofford Books. Kindle Edition.


1 Victor L. Ludlow,  Unlocking Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, p. 102
2 Ann Madsen and Shon Hopkin, Opening Isaiah: A Harmony, p.16
3Ludlow, Unlocking Isaiah in the Book of Mormonp. 102.

Chapter Links to the Book of Isaiah
(those in blue are posted others are pending)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
33 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44
45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 55 54 55
56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66

Chapters of Isaiah Quoted in the Book of Mormon

1 Nephi 20 21
2 Nephi  7  8  12  13 14 15  16  17
18 19 20 21 22 23  24  27
Mosiah  14
3 Nephi  20  22

 

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Darryl Alder is a retired professional, with an adopted family of four, and a lovely wife of 40+years. He has blogged for a variety of sites and loves to bake, garden, camp, and study ancient scripture, all of which is reflected in his posts at AbigailsOven.com, EternalCore.org, SearchIsaiah.org and various Scouting blog sites

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