Who exactly is the beloved in Isaiah 5:1. The verse reads, “Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill”?
Is Israel the Beloved?
At first glance, it looks to be Israel. And yet in Isaiah 5:3 God asks Israel and Judah to judge God’s relationship to the vineyard, suggesting that the vineyard is the nation of Israel / people of Judah: “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard.”
The context soon confirms the reading of Israel as vineyard reading (See Isa 5:24–25). And Gentiles later occupy the vineyard (Isa 5:26–30).
And this seems to the be reading that the High Priests, Pharisees, and Jesus agree upon in Matthew 21 (despite other key differences!).
So I return to it. Who is the beloved?
So Then Who Is the Beloved?
Am I allowed to propose a prosopological solution in a day when such interpretations are unfavourable? Certainly, it’s possible that the singer is actually the Son and the beloved is the Father. Such a view seems more obvious in Isaiah 61 (“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor”), yet not impossible here.
So here is my proposition, which is up for discussion: the singer of Isaiah 5 is the Son; the beloved is the Father. In this case, the Son would be celebrating his beloved Father who shaped and formed the nation of Israel.
Who Has Rights to the Vineyard?
And yet, as Isaiah 53 and Matthew 21 in which Jesus tells a parable about the vineyard chronicle, when the Son visited the vineyard, he was put to death, rejected. Those who built the house (to use another metaphor from Ps 118) rejected the corner store, who is the Christ.
In Matthew 21 Jesus tells the religious leaders of Israel who thought that the farmers who leased the kingdom of God (or the nation of Israel) were there temporarily. They thought that the gentiles leased the land until God restored it to Israel. The religious leaders conclude: “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons” (Matt 21:41).
Jesus concurs, but he then identifies Israel, not the Gentiles, as being the farmers who lease the vineyard. He does so by citing Psalm 118 which identifies Israel (the builders of the house) as being the ones who reject the cornerstone, or in the parable of the tenants, the Son.
The vineyard (the nation or the kingdom as in Matt 21:43) will be leased out to another nation who will fruitfully work it (Matt 21:43).
The Beloved’s Son
So the beloved’s Son, he who sang praise about his Father’s care of Israel in Isaiah 5, comes to Israel. But his people don’t accept him (John 1:11). They reject him.
And yet rights to the vineyard, the right to be the people of God came with obligations, namely, that the farmers who lease the vineyard need to produce fruit while accepting God’s prophets and Son. They did not. So the status of God’s people was taken away and given to another nation who would produce fruit (Matt 21:43).
The Son who sang of his Father’s love and provision for Israel is rejected by Israel. God’s kindness is meant to lead to repentance, and yet Israel refused to repent. The song of love became a song of mourning when divinity incarnated.
And yet through the mourning of the Son, the light of life shone brightly across the universe. And we now sing a new song to the lamb of God who is worthy to open the scroll because he shed his blood.