Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
DEATH OF THE
UNGODLINESS OF THE
JUDGMENTS OF THE
In the midst of the excesses of the unfaithful watchmen
(Isa 56:10, 11, 12),
most of the few that are godly perish: partly by vexation at the
prevailing ungodliness; partly by violent death in persecution:
prophetical of the persecuting times of Manasseh, before God's
judgments in causing the captivity in Babylon; and again those in the
last age of the Church, before the final judgments on the apostasy
Mt 23:29-35, 37;
The Hebrew for "perisheth," and "is taken away," expresses a
1. no man layeth it to heart--as a public calamity.
merciful men--rather, godly men; the subjects of mercy.
none considering--namely, what was the design of Providence in
removing the godly.
from the evil--Hebrew, from the face of the evil, that is, both
from the moral evil on every side
and from the evils about to come in punishment of the national sins,
foreign invasions, &c.
(Isa 56:9; 57:13).
So Ahijah's death is represented as a blessing conferred on him by God
for his piety
2. Or, "he entereth into peace"; in contrast to the
persecutions which he suffered in this world
(Job 3:13, 17).
The Margin not so well translates, "he shall go in peace"
rest--the calm rest of their bodies in their graves (called "beds,"
because they "sleep" in them, with the certainty of awakening at the
is the emblem of the eternal "rest"
each one walking in . . . uprightness--This clause defines the
character of those who at death "rest in their beds," namely, all who
3. But . . . ye--In contrast to "the righteous" and their end, he
announces to the unbelieving Jews their doom.
sons of the sorceress--that is, ye that are addicted to sorcery:
this was connected with the worship of false gods
No insult is greater to an Oriental than any slur cast on his
seed of the adulterer--Spiritual adultery is meant: idolatry and
4. sport yourselves--make a mock
Are ye aware of the glory of Him whom you mock, by mocking His servants
make . . . wide mouth--
(Ps 22:7, 13; 35:21;
children of transgression, &c.--not merely
children of transgressors, and a seed of false parents, but of
transgression and falsehood itself, utterly unfaithful to God.
5. Enflaming yourselves--burning with lust towards idols
[GESENIUS]; or else (compare Margin), in
the terebinth groves, which the Hebrew and the parallelism
favor (see on
under . . . tree--
The tree, as in the Assyrian sculptures, was probably made an
idolatrous symbol of the heavenly hosts.
slaying . . . children--as a sacrifice to Molech, &c.
2Ch 28:3; 33:6).
in . . . valleys--the valley of the son of Hinnom. Fire was put
within a hollow brazen statue, and the child was put in his heated arms;
kettle drums (Hebrew, toph) were beaten to drown the child's cries;
whence the valley was called Tophet
under . . . clifts--the gloom of caverns suiting their dark
6. The smooth stones, shaped as idols, are the gods chosen by thee
as thy portion
meat offering--not a bloody sacrifice, but one of meal and flour
mingled with oil. "Meat" in Old English meant food, not flesh, as it means now
Should I receive comfort--rather, "Shall I bear these things with
7. Upon . . . high mountain . . . bed--image from adultery,
open and shameless
the "bed" answers to the idolatrous altar, the scene of their
spiritual unfaithfulness to their divine husband
(Eze 16:16, 25; 23:41).
8. "Remembrance," that is, memorials of thy idolatry: the
objects which thou holdest in remembrance. They hung up household
tutelary gods "behind the doors"; the very place where God has
directed them to write His laws "on the posts and gates"
(De 6:9; 11:20);
a curse, too, was pronounced on putting up an image "in a secret place"
discovered thyself--image from an adulteress.
enlarged . . . bed--so as to receive the more paramours.
made . . . covenant--with idols: in open violation of thy "covenant"
(Ex 19:5; 23:32).
Or, "hast made assignations with them for thyself" [HORSLEY].
thy bed . . . their bed--The Jews' sin was twofold;
they resorted to places of idolatry ("their bed"), and they
received idols into the temple of God ("thy bed").
where--rather, "ever since that"
[HORSLEY]. The Hebrew for
"where" means "room" (Margin), a place; therefore, translate,
"thou hast provided a place for it" (for "their bed"), namely, by
admitting idolatrous altars in thy land
[BARNES]; or "thou choosest a
(convenient) place for thyself" in their bed
9. the king--the idol which they came to worship, perfumed with
oil, like harlots
Eze 23:16, 40).
So "king" means idol
(malcham meaning "king") [ROSENMULLER].
Rather, the king of Assyria or Egypt, and other foreign
princes, on whom Israel relied, instead of on God; the "ointment" will
thus refer to the presents
and perhaps the compliances with foreigners' idolatries, whereby Israel
sought to gain their favor [LOWTH]
Eze 16:33; 23:16;
send . . . messengers far off--not merely to
neighboring nations, but to those "far off," in search of new idols, or
even unto hell--the lowest possible degradation.
10. greatness of . . . way--the length of thy journey in seeking
strange gods, or else foreign aid
(Jer 2:23, 24).
Notwithstanding thy deriving no good from these long journeys (so,
"send . . . far off,"
thou dost not still give up hope
(Jer 2:25; 18:12).
hast found . . . life of . . . hand--for "thou still findest life
(that is, vigor) enough in thy hand" to make new idols
[MAURER], or to
seek new alliance ("hand" being then taken for strength in general).
grieved--rather, "therefore thou art not weak"
as having "life in thy hand," thou art still strong in hope.
11. Israel wished not to seem altogether to have denied God.
Therefore they "lied" to Him. God asks, Why dost thou do so? "Whom dost
thou fear? Certainly not Me; for thou hast not remembered Me."
Translate, "seeing that thou hast not remembered Me."
laid it to . . . heart--rather, "nor hast Me at heart"; hast no regard
for Me; and that, because I have been long silent and have not punished
thee. Literally, "Have I not held My peace, and that for long? and so
thou fearest Me not"
It would be better openly to renounce God, than to "flatter Him" with
lies of false professions
[LUDOVICUS DE DIEU]. However,
Isa 51:12, 13
favors English Version of the whole verse; God's "silent"
long-suffering, which was intended to lead them to repentance, caused
them "not to fear Him"
(Ro 2:4, 5).
12. declare--I will expose publicly thy (hypocritical) righteousness.
I will show openly how vain thy works, in having recourse to idols, or
foreign alliances, shall prove
13. When thou criest--In the time of thy trouble.
companies--namely, of idols, collected by thee from every quarter; or
else, of foreigners, summoned to thy aid.
wind . . . carry . . . away--
vanity--rather, "a breath" [LOWTH].
possess . . . land . . . inherit--that is, the literal land of Judea
and Mount Zion; the believing remnant of Israel shall return and inherit
the land. Secondarily, the heavenly inheritance, and the spiritual Zion
Ps 37:9, 11; 69:35, 36;
"He that putteth his trust in Me," of whatever extraction, shall
succeed to the spiritual patrimony of the apostate Jew [HORSLEY].
14. shall say--The nominative is, "He that trusteth in Me"
The believing remnant shall have every obstacle to their return cleared
out of the way, at the coming restoration of Israel, the antitype to
the return from Babylon
(Isa 35:8; 40:3, 4; 62:10, 11).
Cast . . . up--a high road before the returning Jews.
stumbling-block--Jesus had been so to the Jews, but will not be so
then any longer
their prejudices shall then be taken out of the way.
15. The pride and self-righteousness of the Jews were the stumbling
block in the way of their acknowledging Christ. The contrition of
Israel in the last days shall be attended with God's interposition in
their behalf. So their self-humiliation, in
Isa 66:2, 5, 10,
&c., precedes their final prosperity
(Zec 12:6, 10-14);
there will, probably, be a previous period of unbelief even after their
(Zec 12:8, 9).
16. For--referring to the promise in
Isa 57:14, 15,
of restoring Israel when "contrite"
(Ge 6:3; 8:21;
Ps 78:38, 39; 85:5; 103:9, 13, 14;
God "will not contend for ever" with His people, for their human
spirit would thereby be utterly crushed, whereas God's object is to
chasten, not to destroy them
(La 3:33, 34;
Mic 7:8, 9).
With the ungodly He is "angry every day"
spirit . . . before me--that is, the human spirit which
went forth from Me
answering to "which I have made" in the parallel clause.
17. covetousness--akin to idolatry; and, like it, having drawn off
Israel's heart from God
(Isa 2:7; 56:11; 58:3;
(Isa 8:17; 45:15).
went on frowardly--the result of God's hiding His face
Ro 1:24, 26).
18. Rather, "I have seen his ways (in sin), yet will I heal him,"
that is, restore Israel spiritually and temporally
(Jer 33:6; 3:22;
Ho 14:4, 5)
I will . . . restore comforts unto him and to his mourners--However,
the phrase, "his mourners," favors English Version; "his ways" will
thus be his ways of repentance; and God's pardon on "seeing" them
answers to the like promise
(Isa 61:2, 3;
Jer 31:18, 20).
19. fruit of . . . lips--that is, thanksgivings which flow from the
lips. I make men to return thanks to Me
Peace, peace--"perfect peace" (see
Primarily, the cessation of the troubles now afflicting the
Jews, as formerly, under the Babylonian exile. More generally,
the peace which the Gospel proclaims both to Israel "that is near," and
to the Gentiles who are "far off"
20. when it cannot rest--rather, "for it can have no rest"
&c.; Pr 4:16, 17).
English Version represents the sea as occasionally
agitated; but the Hebrew expresses that it can never be
my God--The prophet, having God as his God, speaks in the person
of Israel, prophetically regarded as having now appropriated God and
warning the impenitent that, while they continue so, they can have no