Isaiah 56:10
(10) His watchmen are blind.--These are the guides of the people, and specially the self-styled prophets, who are "blind" to the signs of the times, who are "dumb," and give no warning to the people of the real dangers that threaten them, who prophesy for the rewards of divination (Numbers 22:7 :1Samuel 9:7; Nehemiah 6:12), who are conspicuous for their luxury and intemperance. Given the men who are described in Isaiah 5:22; Isaiah 28:7-8; Isaiah 30:10, and the circumstances of Manasseh's reign, no other result could be expected.

Sleeping.--The prophet, with a scornful irony, substitutes hozim ("dreamers") for khozim ("seers"). The "lying down" contrasts their indolent and easy life with the vigil and the fast of a true prophet.

Verse 10. - His watchmen are blind. Israel's "watchmen" are his guides and teachers, the prophets (Isaiah 6:17; Ezekiel 3:17; Habakkuk 2:1, etc.). At the time of which Isaiah speaks, they are "blind" (Isaiah 29:18; Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 42:7, 16, 18, 19; Isaiah 43:8, etc.), or without knowledge - like the "blind guides" of the Gospel (Matthew 15:14; Luke 6:39, etc.). They have not the spiritual discernment which would enable them to lead the people aright. Further, they are dumb dogs. Instead of acting as faithful watch-dogs, who give warning of the approach of danger by their barking, they remain apathetic, and utter no warning at all. It is as if they passed their lives in sleep.

56:9-12 Desolating judgments are called for; and this severe rebuke of the rulers and teachers of the Jewish church, is applicable to other ages and places. It is bad with a people when their shepherds slumber, and are eager after the world. Let us pray the Great Shepherd to send us pastors after his own heart, who will feed us with knowledge, that we may rejoice in his holy name, and that believers may be daily added to the church.His watchmen are blind,.... A sad character of watchmen; who, of all men, ought to have good sight, to see who is coming, to discover an enemy, to discern approaching danger, and so be capable of giving notice thereof. This some apply to the Scribes and Pharisees, who are often called blind guides, and blind leaders of the blind, Matthew 15:14 and well suits the character of the Popish clergy, bishops, and priests, those ecclesiastical watchmen, whose business should be to look after the souls of men, and feed them with knowledge and understanding; but very ill qualified for it, being blind and ignorant as to the knowledge of things divine and spiritual. The first letter in this clause is larger than usual, perhaps designed to strike the eye, and raise the attention to what follows, as being something remarkable and extraordinary, as indeed the character given of these men is, and directing to beware of them. The first word, which is the word for "watchmen", has the letter "jod" wanting; which, being a note of multitude, shows, it is observed (u), that all the watchmen were universally deficient in the light of their minds, and not one of them did their duty, as it follows:

they are all ignorant; or "know not" (w), or "nothing", not the Scriptures, and the meaning of them; the Gospel, and the doctrines of it; Christ, and the way of salvation by him; the Spirit of God, and his operations on the souls of men; and so very unfit to be spiritual watchmen, or to have the care of immortal souls. A Popish bishop in Scotland declared he did not know neither the Old nor the New Testament; and Bishop Albert, reading the Bible, could not tell what book it was, only he found it was contrary to their religion.

They are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; and so useless; as a house dog, or one that is set to keep the sheep, if it barks not at the noise of a thief, or the approach of a wolf, to give notice to the family, or the shepherd, it is of no service. It may design such who call themselves ministers of the word, and yet either cannot or will not preach, such as are non-preaching bishops; or in their ministry do not reprove the errors and vices of men, and warn them of their danger:

sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber; as dogs do; slothful, indolent, do not care to be concerned in business, but take their ease and pleasure, and are very improper persons for watchmen. The first word (x) used is observed to signify speaking vain things in dreams, things delirious; and agrees well with the dreaming doctrines and delirious notions of the Romish clergy.

(u) Buxtorf. Tiberias, c. 14. p. 39. Vid. Hiller. De Arcano Cethib & Keri, I. 1. c 7. p. 55. (w) "nesciverunt", Pagninus, Montanus; "nil sciunt", Piscator. (x) "deliria loquentes", Montanus; "videntes vans", V. L. So Ben Melech interprets it of such that speak vain things in their sleep.

Isaiah 56:9
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