Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
THREAT OF THE
SLAUGHTER OF THE
1. named chief of the nations--that is, you nobles, so eminent
in influence, that your names are celebrated among the chief nations
[LUDOVICUS DE DIEU]. Hebrew, "Men designated by name among the
first-fruits of the nations," that is, men of note in Israel, the
people chosen by God as first of the nations
to whom . . . Israel came--that is, the princes to whom the Israelites
used to repair for the decision of controversies, recognizing their
authority [MAURER]. I prefer to refer "which" to the antecedent "Zion"
and "Samaria"; these were esteemed "chief" strongholds among the heathen
nations "to whom . . . Israel came" when it entered Canaan;
accords with this.
2. Calneh--on the east bank of the Tigris. Once powerful, but
recently subjugated by Assyria
about 794 B.C.).
Hameth--subjugated by Jeroboam II
Also by Assyria subsequently
Gath--subjugated by Uzziah
be they better--no. Their so recent subjugation renders it
needless for Me to tell you they are not. And yet they once
were; still they could not defend themselves against the enemy. How
vain, then, your secure confidence in the strength of Mounts
Zion and Samaria! He takes cities respectively east, north, south, and
west of Israel (compare
3. Ye persuade yourselves that "the evil day" foretold by the
prophets is "far off," though they declare it near
(Eze 12:22, 27).
Ye in your imagination put it far off, and therefore bring near
violent oppression, suffering it to sit enthroned, as it
were, among you
The notion of judgment being far off has always been an incentive to
the sinner's recklessness of living
(Ec 8:12, 13;
Yet that very recklessness brings near the evil day which he puts far
off. "Ye bring on fever by your intemperance, and yet would put it far
beds of ivory--that is, adorned, or inlaid, with ivory
stretch themselves--in luxurious self-indulgence.
lambs out of the flock--picked out as the choicest, for their
owners' selfish gratification.
5. chant--literally, "mark distinct sounds and tones."
viol--the lyre, or lute.
invent . . . instruments . . . like David--They fancy they equal David
in musical skill
They defend their luxurious passion for music by his example:
forgetting that he pursued this study when at peace and free
from danger, and that for the praise of God; but they pursue for
their own self-gratification, and that when God is angry and ruin is
6. drink . . . in bowls--in the large vessels or basins in which
wine was mixed; not satisfied with the smaller cups from which it
was ordinarily drunk, after having been poured from the large mixer.
chief ointments--that is, the most costly: not for health or
cleanliness, but wanton luxury.
not grieved for the affliction of Joseph--literally, "the breach,"
that is, the national wound or calamity
of the house of Joseph
resembling in this the heartlessness of their forefathers, the sons of
Jacob, towards Joseph, "eating bread" while their brother lay in the
pit, and then selling him to Ishmaelites.
7. Therefore . . . shall they go captive with the
first--As they were first among the people in rank
and anointed themselves "with the chief ointments"
so shall they be among the foremost in going into captivity.
banquet--literally, the "merry-making shout of revellers"; from an
Arabic root, "to cry out." In the Hebrew, marzeach; here, there
is an allusion to mizraqu, "bowls"
them that stretched themselves--on luxurious couches
8. the excellency of Jacob--
The sanctuary which was the great glory of the covenant-people
The priesthood, and kingdom, and dignity, conferred on them by God.
These, saith God, are of no account in My eyes towards averting
hate his palaces--as being the storehouses of "robbery"
(Am 3:10, 15).
How sad a change from God's love of Zion's gates
(Ps 48:3, 13),
owing to the people's sin!
the city--collectively: both Zion and Samaria
all that is therein--literally, "its fulness"; the multitude of
men and of riches in it (compare
9. If as many as ten
remain in a house (a rare case, and only in the scattered villages, as
there will be scarcely a house in which the enemy will leave any), they
shall all, to a man, die of the plague, a frequent concomitant of war
in the East
(Jer 24:10; 44:13;
10. a man's uncle--The nearest relatives had the duty of burying the
(Ge 25:9; 35:29;
No nearer relative was left of this man than an uncle.
and he that burneth him--the uncle, who is also at the
same time the one that burneth him (one of the "ten,"
Burial was the usual Hebrew mode of disposing of their dead. But in
cases of necessity, as when the men of Jabesh-gilead took the bodies of
Saul and his three sons from the walls of Beth-shan and burned them to
save them from being insulted by the Philistines, burning was
practised. So in this case, to prevent contagion.
the bones--that is, the dead body
Perhaps here there is an allusion in the phrase to the emaciated
condition of the body, which was little else but skin and bones.
say unto him that is by the sides of the house--that is, to the only
one left of the ten in the interior of the house
Hold thy tongue . . . we may not . . . mention
. . . the Lord--After receiving the reply, that none is
left besides the one addressed, when the man outside fancies the man
still surviving inside to be on the point, as was customary, of
expressing devout gratitude to God who spared him, the man outside
interrupts him, "Hold thy tongue! for there is not now cause for
mentioning with praise
the name of Jehovah"; for thou also must die; as all the ten are
to die to the last man
Formerly ye boasted in the name of Jehovah, as if ye were His peculiar
people; now ye shall be silent and shudder at His name, as hostile to
you, and as one from whom ye wish to be hidden
11. commandeth, and he will smite--His word of command, when once
given, cannot but be fulfilled
His mere word is enough to smite with destruction.
great house . . . little house--He will spare none,
great or small
JEROME interprets "the great house" as Israel, and
"the small house" as Judah: the former being reduced to branches or
ruins, literally, "small drops"; the latter, though injured with
"clefts" or rents, which threaten its fall, yet still permitted to
12. In turning "judgment (justice) into gall (poison), and . . .
righteousness into hemlock" (or wormwood, bitter and noxious), ye act as
perversely as if one were to make "horses run upon the rock" or to
"plough with oxen there"
[MAURER]. As horses and oxen are useless on a
rock, so ye are incapable of fulfilling justice
[GROTIUS]. Ye impede the
course of God's benefits, because ye are as it were a hard rock on which
His favor cannot run. "Those that will not be tilled as fields, shall be
abandoned as rocks" [CALVIN].
13. rejoice in a thing of naught--that is, in your vain and fleeting
Have we not taken to us horns--that is, acquired power, so as to
conquer our neighbors
Horns are the Hebrew symbol of power, being the
instrument of strength in many animals
14. from the entering in of Hamath--the point of entrance for an
invading army (as Assyria) into Israel from the north; specified here,
as Hamath had been just before subjugated by Jeroboam II
Do not glory in your recently acquired city, for it shall be the
starting-point for the foe to afflict you. How sad the contrast to the
feast of Solomon attended by a congregation from this same
Hamath, the most northern boundary of Israel, to the
Nile, the river of Egypt, the most southern boundary!
unto the river of the wilderness--that is, to Kedron, which empties
itself into the north bay of the Dead Sea below Jericho
the southern boundary of the ten tribes
"from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain") [MAURER]. To the river Nile, which skirts the
Arabian wilderness and separates Egypt from Canaan [GROTIUS]. If this verse includes Judah, as well as Israel
"Zion" and "Samaria"), GROTIUS' view is correct;
and it agrees with