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For now the Sovereign, the L ord of hosts,

is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah

support and staff—

all support of bread,

and all support of water—


warrior and soldier,

judge and prophet,

diviner and elder,


captain of fifty

and dignitary,

counselor and skillful magician

and expert enchanter.


And I will make boys their princes,

and babes shall rule over them.


The people will be oppressed,

everyone by another

and everyone by a neighbor;

the youth will be insolent to the elder,

and the base to the honorable.



Someone will even seize a relative,

a member of the clan, saying,

“You have a cloak;

you shall be our leader,

and this heap of ruins

shall be under your rule.”


But the other will cry out on that day, saying,

“I will not be a healer;

in my house there is neither bread nor cloak;

you shall not make me

leader of the people.”


For Jerusalem has stumbled

and Judah has fallen,

because their speech and their deeds are against the L ord,

defying his glorious presence.



The look on their faces bears witness against them;

they proclaim their sin like Sodom,

they do not hide it.

Woe to them!

For they have brought evil on themselves.


Tell the innocent how fortunate they are,

for they shall eat the fruit of their labors.


Woe to the guilty! How unfortunate they are,

for what their hands have done shall be done to them.


My people—children are their oppressors,

and women rule over them.

O my people, your leaders mislead you,

and confuse the course of your paths.



The L ord rises to argue his case;

he stands to judge the peoples.


The L ord enters into judgment

with the elders and princes of his people:

It is you who have devoured the vineyard;

the spoil of the poor is in your houses.


What do you mean by crushing my people,

by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord G od of hosts.



The L ord said:

Because the daughters of Zion are haughty

and walk with outstretched necks,

glancing wantonly with their eyes,

mincing along as they go,

tinkling with their feet;


the Lord will afflict with scabs

the heads of the daughters of Zion,

and the L ord will lay bare their secret parts.


18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarfs; 20the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21the signet rings and nose rings; 22the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 23the garments of gauze, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils.


Instead of perfume there will be a stench;

and instead of a sash, a rope;

and instead of well-set hair, baldness;

and instead of a rich robe, a binding of sackcloth;

instead of beauty, shame.


Your men shall fall by the sword

and your warriors in battle.


And her gates shall lament and mourn;

ravaged, she shall sit upon the ground.

1. For, behold. We stated, a little before, that this is the same subject which the Prophet began to treat towards the close of the former chapter; for he warns the Jews that their wealth, however great it may be, will be of no avail to prevent the wrath of God, which, when it has once been kindled, will burn up all their defenses. Hence it follows that they are chargeable with excessive madness, when, in order to drive away their alarm, they heap up their forces, strength, and warlike accoutrements, consultations, armor, abundant supply of provisions, and other resources.

The demonstrative particle הנה, (hinneth,) “behold,” is employed not only to denote certainty, but to express the shortness of time, as if Isaiah caused wicked men to be eye-witnesses of the event; for it frequently happens that they who do not venture openly to ridicule the judgments of God pass them by, as if they did not at all relate to them, or were still at a great distance. “What is that to us?” say they; “Or, if they shall ever happen, why should we be miserable before the time? Will it not be time enough to think of those calamities when they actually befall us?” Since, therefore, wicked men, in order to set at naught the judgments of God, dig for themselves lurking-places of this description, on this account the Prophet presses them more closely and earnestly, that they may not imagine that the hand of God is distant, or vainly expect that it will be relaxed.

The Lord Jehovah of hosts will take away from Jerusalem. This is also the reason why he calls God the Lord and Jehovah of Hosts, that the majesty of God may terrify their drowsy and sluggish minds; for God has no need of titles, but our ignorance and stupidity must be aroused by perceiving his glory. First, the Prophet threatens that the Jews will have the whole produce of the harvest taken from them, so that they will perish through famine. Immediately afterwards he speaks in the same manner about military guards, and all that relates to the good order of the state. Hence we may infer that the Jews boasted of the prosperity which they at that time enjoyed, so as to entertain a foolish belief that they were protected against every danger. But Isaiah threatens that not only the whole country, but Jerusalem herself, which was the invincible fortress of the nation, will be exposed to God’s chastisements; as if he had said, “The wrath of God will not only fall on every part of the body, but will pierce the very heart.”

The power and the strength. 4949     “Heb, ‘the support masculine and the support feminine,’ that is, every kind of support, whether great or small, strong or weak. Al kenitz, wal kanitzan; the wild beast, male and female: proverbially applied both to fishing and hunting; that is, I seized the prey, great or little, good or bad. From hence, as Schultens observes, is explained Isaiah 3:1, literally, the male and female stay; that is, the strong and weak, the great and small.” Chappelow, quoted by Lowth. As to the words ומשענה משען, (mashgnen umashgnenah) which differ only in this respect, that one is in the masculine, and the other in the feminine genders, I have no doubt that the Prophet intended by this change to express more fully the certainty that supports of every kind would be broken; and therefore I have translated them the power and the strength 5050     Calvin has imitated the Hebrew phrase by the rendering vigorem et vim; employing two words, of which one is in the masculine and the other in the feminine gender, and both begin with the same letter, while each of them denotes strength. Our English version has imitated the alliteration by stay and the staffEd. I do not agree with those interpreters who view it as referring to the persons of men, for it more appropriately denotes all supports, whatever may be their nature.

Still it is doubtful whether the Prophet limits it to food, or extends it to all other kinds of support, which he mentions immediately afterwards. But it is natural to suppose that by משען ומשענה, (mashgnen umashgnenah) is included generally everything that is necessary to sustain the order of the city or of the people; and next that, for the sake of explanation, he enumerates some particulars. The first clause therefore means, “God will take away every help and assistance by which you think that you are upheld, so that nothing whatever may be left to support you.”

Next, he adds, what will be their want and nakedness; and he begins, as we have said, with food and nourishment, which hold the first rank in sustaining the life of men. Now there are two ways in which God takes away the strength of bread and water; either when he deprives us of victuals, or when he takes from them the power of nourishing us; for unless God impart to our food a hidden power, the greatest abundance of it that we may possess will do us no good. (Leviticus 26:26.) Hence in another passage God is said to break the staff of bread (Ezekiel 4:16,) when the bakers deliver the bread by weight, and yet it does not yield satisfaction. And this comparison ought to be carefully observed, in order to inform us that, even though the belly be will filled, we shall always be hungry, there being nothing but the secret blessing of God that can feed or support us.

Though the hunger which the Prophet threatens in this passage may be understood to mean that the fields will be unproductive, or, that God will take away from the Jews every kind of food, yet, since the Prophets are generally accustomed to borrow their forms of expression from the law, this interpretation will apply very well. For he might simply have said, “I will take away the bread and wine;” but he expresses something more secret when he speaks of the support of bread and water; as if he had said that, though the people be not reduced to famine, yet God will make them, even while they are rioting in gluttony, to pine with hunger; for when the blessing of God is withdrawn, all its usefulness will vanish away. We may sum it up in this manner, that the people will have no food to strengthen them; either because they will not have bread and water, or, if they have, will derive no advantage from them.

2. The strong man, and the man of war He mentions other ends which contribute to the safety and good order either of nations or of cities. Of these he threatens that the Jews will be wholly deprived, so that they will neither have wisdom or bravery at battle, nor military forces abroad. He is not careful to attend to order, but is satisfied with giving a short abridgement, and mixes one subject with another. He begins with men of war, into whose hands was committed the defense of the country. God sometimes takes them away by death, and sometimes by making them soft and effeminate. The latter is more frequent, so that posterity degenerates from the bravery of ancestors, and those who were formerly courageous become, in process of time, cowardly and unfit for war. But we see also that the former sometimes happens, in consequence of which the boldest men suddenly lose heart.

The judge and the prophet. We know that, in the Hebrew language, the word judge stands for every kind of governors; and it is certain that by prophets are meant every kind of teachers. Accordingly, he threatens that the civil government will be set aside, and that instruction will be at an end, and that thus the Jews will be destroyed; and, indeed magistrates and teachers hold the same place in the commonwealth that the two eyes do in the human body.

Aged diviners and old men 5151     And the prudent and the ancient. — Eng. Ver I consider the same rank as before to be denoted by old men, who are more fit for governing, because age brings along with it prudence, wisdom, and gravity. As to the word diviner, though it is used in a bad sense in Scripture, yet here it appears to be used in a good sense, when Isaiah enumerates those things which contribute to preserve the good order of a city and of a kingdoms. The term might, therefore, be applied to a soothsayer, who divines or penetrates into dark matters, not by omens or superstitious arts, but by extraordinary acuteness and skill. But as God forbade them to consult magicians, soothsayers, and diviners, (Deuteronomy 18:20,) and as Balaam himself declares that there is no divination against Israel, (Numbers 23:23,) I do not quarrel with those who would prefer to use the word diviner as denoting magical divinations; nor will there be any absurdity in enumerating among the punishments of the nation, that it would be deprived also of those aids which were sinful and criminal; for along with the altar and sacrifices Hosea mentions teraphim. 5252     “The Prophet,” says Calvin, “seems to speak here of idols, for he afterwards adds teraphim; and teraphim were no doubt images, (Genesis 31:19, 30) which the superstitious used while worshipping their fictitious gods, as we read in many places. The King of Babylon is said to have consulted the teraphim; and it is said that Rachel stole the teraphim, and shortly after Laban calls the teraphim his gods.” Com. on the Twelve Minor Prophets, vol 1, p. 130. (Hosea 3:4.)

The captain of fifty. He employs this term agreeably to the custom which then prevailed; for as the Romans had centurions, or captains of hundreds, so the Jews had captains, or rulers of fifties, which the Greeks call πεντηκοντάρχους, but as that custom did not exist among the Latins, so the name was unknown among them. By persons of venerable aspect 5353     The honourable man. — Eng. Ver he means those whose reputation for bravery gave then influence among the people.

The senator. 5454     The counsellor. — Eng. Ver. The word יועף (yognetz,) for which I have put senator, may be applied to men in private life who are eminent for prudence; but as it is strictly applicable to counsellors, who discharge a public office, I resolved not to depart from the common opinion.

The sinful artificer. Because the mechanical arts are not less advantageous for upholding the prosperity of a nation, and for the support of animal life, Isaiah likewise mentions that, through the want of them, the destruction of the Jews is at hand.

And the eloquent. 5555     In a marginal reading of the text our author renders this phrase by skilled in mysterious discourse. “The powerful in persuasion.” — Lowth. “The expert dealer in charms.” — Bishop Stock. “לחש is to whisper or mutter certain words, by which jugglers pretended to charm noxious creatures, and to deprive them of their power of hurting.” — Parkhurst. he word which is placed last in the enumeration has been variously explained by commentators. Literally it means, “skilled in muttering, or in a subdued tone of speech. “Now since the heathen oracles give out their replies by whisperings or in mutterings, some think that the word denotes enchantments. A better exposition is given by those who interpret לחש (lahash) to mean secret designs; but as a style which is both mysterious and weighty may be not inappropriately denoted by this word, I had no hesitation in rendering it by the word eloquent. Yet if it be thought preferable to view it as denoting wise and cautious men, who, though not qualified for public speaking, give private advices of what may profitably be done, I have no objection.

We must attend to this comprehensive description of a well-regulated state. For Isaiah has placed first corn and other things necessary for bodily support; secondly, military forces; thirdly, skill in governing a nation and the various parts of civil government; fourthly, the prophetical office; and fifthly, the mechanical arts. With these ornaments does God adorn the nations which he intends to render safe and sound; and, on the other hand, he takes them from those nations which he intends utterly to destroy. Let us, therefore, know that everything which we find to be profitable for the support of life flows from the undeserved goodness of God. Hence also there follows another instruction, namely, that we ought to beware lest, by our ingratitude, we deprive ourselves of those excellent gifts of God.

4. And I will appoint children to be their princes 5656     And I will give children to be their princes. — Eng. Ver. That the vengeance of God may be more manifest, he now describes how sad and wretched will be the change, when competent and faithful rulers shall be taken from among them and God shall put cowardly and worthless persons in their room. By children are meant not only those who are so by age, but also by mind and conduct, such as delicate and effeminate persons, who are destitute of courage and cannot wield the sword entrusted to them. He does not here carry out the contrast, clause by clause; for he thought it enough to point out one way in which a commonwealth is speedily ruined; that is, when its rulers are weak and foolish men like children, who have no gravity or wisdom. But it must be laid down as a principle, that no man is qualified for governing a commonwealth unless he have been appointed to it by God, and be endued with uncommon excellence. Plato, too, understood this matter well: for though, being a heathen, he had no true knowledge of this kind, yet his quick sagacity enabled him to perceive that no man is fit and qualified for public government which has not been prepared for it by God in an extraordinary measure; for public government proceeds from God alone, and in like manner every part of it must be upheld by him. Besides, they whom the Lord does not govern have nothing left for them but to be children, or rather to be twice children, that is, destitute of all skill and of all wisdom.

Now the Lord executes this vengeance in two ways; because it frequently happens, that when we appear to have those who are grave and skillful in business, no sooner do they come to action than they stumble like blind men, and have no more wisdom than children; for the Lord deprives them of that remarkable ability which they had formerly received from him, and stuns them, as if he had struck them with a thunderbolt. But sometimes the Lord proceeds more gently, and gradually removes men of extraordinary ability, who were fit for ruling, and commits the reins of government to those who were unable to govern a family, or even a single child liken these things happen, it is very certain that destruction is not far off.

Besides, it deserves our notice, as I lately mentioned, that a well-regulated commonwealth is a singular gift of God, when the various orders of judges and senators, soldiers, captains, artificers, and teachers, aid each other by mutual intercourse, and join in promoting the general safety of the whole people. For when the Prophet threatens, and pronounces it to be a very severe punishment, that these things shall be taken away, he plainly shows that those eminent and uncommon gifts of God are necessary for the safety of nations. Accordingly, he here commends the office of magistrates, and captains, and soldiers, and likewise the office of teachers. This deserves our notice in opposition to fanatics, who endeavor to banish from the world the power of using the sword, together with all civil government and order. But the Prophet declares that these things are not taken away or removed unless when God is angry. It follows, therefore, that they who oppose, and, as far as lies in their power, set aside or destroy such benefits, are wicked men and enemies of the public safety.

He likewise commends instruction, without which a commonwealth cannot stand; for, as Solomon says,

where prophecy is not, the nation must be ruined. (Proverbs 29:18.)

At the same time, he commends the mechanical arts, agriculture, manual occupations of every description, architecture, and such like, which we cannot dispense with; for all artisans of every kind, who contribute what is useful to men, are the servants of God, and have the same end in view with those who were formerly mentioned, namely, the preservation of mankind

The same thing must be said about war; for, although lawful, war ought to be nothing else than an attempt to obtain peace; yet sometimes an engagement is unavoidable, that they who have the power of the sword may use it, and defend themselves and their followers by arms. War, therefore, is not in itself to be condemned; for it is the means of preserving the commonwealth. But neither must eloquence be despised; for it is often needed, both in public and in private life, that something may be clearly and fully explained and demonstrated to be true. This is also reckoned among the gifts and important blessings of God, when a state abounds in wise and eloquent men,

who can contend with the adversaries in the gate.
(Psalm 127:5.)

This passage may be thus summed up, “When God takes away those gifts, and alters the condition of a people, in whatever way this takes place, either by changing the form of government, or by taking away the rulers, the anger of God ought to be acknowledged;” for, as Hosea says,

He Taketh Away Kings In His Wrath,
And Appointeth Them In His Indignation. (Hosea 13:11.)

Let us not, therefore, ascribe these changes to chance or other causes.

5. The people will oppress every man his neighbor He describes the utmost confusion, which was about to overtake the Jews, when order was destroyed or relaxed; and this will happen to all nations, as soon as government is removed or falls to the ground. We know how great is the wantonness of the human mind, when every man is hurried along by ambition and, in short, how furious the lawless passions are when they are laid under no restraint. There is no reason, therefore, to wonder if, when the judgment-seats have been laid low, every man insults his neighbor, cruelty abounds, and licentiousness rages without control. If we considered this wisely, we would set a higher value on the kindness of God, when he preserves us in any tolerable condition, and does not allow us to be lamentably ruined. Hence it is evident that they who direct or apply their minds to sap the foundations of civil government are the open enemies of mankind, or rather, they are in no respect different from wild beasts.

But this confusion described by the Prophet is most disgraceful, that a child shall dare to insult an old man, that the dregs of a low and despised multitude shall rise up against nobles and men of high reputation; for it is the most preposterous of all things that modesty shall be thrown away, so that they who were worthy of veneration shall be treated with contempt. And yet this spectacle, so shameful and revolting, must unavoidably be exhibited when civil government has been overthrown. As to my rendering of the verb נגש (niggash) in an active sense, to oppress, I was forced to adopt it, for otherwise the meaning of the passage would have been imperfect.

6. When every man shall take hold of his brother As this verse is closely connected with the former, and proceeds without interruption as far as the phrase he shall swear, the particle כי (ki) is evidently taken for an adverb of time. For Isaiah, intending to express the extreme wretchedness of the people, says that there will be no man who will undertake to govern them, though he were requested to do so. To such an extent unquestionably does ambition prevail among men, that many are always eager to contend for power, and endeavor to obtain it even at the hazard of their lives. In every age the whole world has been convulsed by the desire of obtaining kingly power; and there is not a villain so inconsiderable as not to contain men who willingly undertake to become rulers; and all this proves that man is an animal desirous of honor. Hence it follows that everything is in a deplorable condition, when that dignity is not only despised but obstinately rejected; for the mournful calamity has reached its lowest depth, when that which men naturally desire with the greatest ardor is universally disclaimed.

Isaiah mentions other circumstances of an aggravating nature, tending to show that the Jews will rather lay aside every feeling of humanity and compassion than undertake the office of rulers. If one shall refuse to rule foreign nations, it will not perhaps be thought so wonderful; but when the preservation of brethren is in question, it is excessively unkind to decline the honorable office. It is therefore a proof that matters are utterly desperate, when the office of ruler is disdainfully rejected by that man to whom his kinsmen appeal, by entreating his support and throwing themselves on his protection. Now, since princes are commonly selected on account of their wealth, or, at least, kingly power is not usually bestowed on any who have not a moderate share of riches, lest poverty should lay them open to contempt and reproach, or drive them to unworthy means of gain, he likewise adds this circumstance, that though they are able to bear the burden, still they will not accept of it; as if he had said, “Not only the common people, but also the nobles and the wealthy, decline the task of government.”

The phrase take hold is likewise emphatic, for it means to “lay hands” on a person; as if Isaiah had said that those who shall wish to obtain a prince will not employ flatteries and entreaties, but will proceed with disorder and violence to seize on some person, and endeavor to compel him to occupy the throne.

Let this ruin be under thy hand. This last circumstance is not less weighty. The meaning is, “At least if you have any compassion or humanity, do not fail to aid us in our extreme wretchedness.” For when a multitude of men, like a scattered flock, bewailing with tears their ruinous condition, implore the protection of a shepherd, he who will not stretch out a helping hand must have a heart as hard as iron. Some translate it as if, by a figure of speech, (hypallage,) one word had been put for another, Let thy hand be under this ruin; that is, for the sake of upholding it.

7. In that day shall he swear. The word swear expresses an absolute and vehement refusal; for frequently he who at first excuses himself, or declares that he will not do it, at length yields to entreaty; but he who, in refusing, employs an oath, shuts out all hope, because he gives them to understand that his purpose is firm and decided. Perhaps, too, the phrase in that day, means “immediately, without any delay, and without long consultation;” but as it may also be viewed demonstratively, (δεικτικῶς,) as pointing out more fully the time of the calamity, I do not express a strong opinion. The general meaning is obvious, that their ruinous condition will be past remedy.

As to the word חבש, (chobesh,) though commentators differ in their interpretation of it, yet I cheerfully concur with those who think that the metaphor is here borrowed from surgeons; 5757     חבש(chabash) literally signifies to bind I will not be a binder; that is, “I will not be one who binds up your wounds.” Jarchi renders it, “I will not be a binder, that is, I will not be one of those who bind up.” His annotator, Breithaupt, explains it thus: “that is, who employ any remedy, or apply a plaster, teaching in the school or synagogue what should be done, and what should be avoided.” This accords with the rendering, healer, as in the English version, which is supported by that of Lowth, “I will not be a healer of thy breaches.” — Ed for nothing can more fully meet the case. It is as if one, to whom application had been made to heal a sick man, should declare that he has no skill in the art of healing, or that the disease is too inveterate to admit of being cured.

The next copulative ו, (vau,) means for; as if he had said, “And undoubtedly I have not ability to do so.” 5858     ובביתי(ubebethi,) and in my house; that is, for in my house is neither bread nor clothing. — Ed His meaning therefore is, that the state of affairs will be so desperate, that no man, even when matters are at the worst, will venture to take measures for their defense.

8. For Jerusalem is ruined. Lest it should be thought that God is excessively cruel, when he punishes his people with such severity, the Prophet here explains briefly the reason of the calamity; as if he had said that the destruction of that ungodly people is righteous, because in so many ways they have persisted in provoking God. And thus he cuts off all ground of complaint; for we know with what insolent fury the world breaks out, when it is chastised with more than ordinary severity. He says that they were ready, both by words and by actions, to commit every kind of crimes. In speaking of their destruction, he employs such language as if it had already taken place; though the past may be taken for the future, as in many other passages.

To provoke the eyes of his glory. This mode of expression aggravates the crime, as denotes that they had intentionally resolved to insult God; for those things which are done before our eyes, if they are displeasing to us, are the more offensive. It is true that wicked men mock God, as if they were able to deceive him; but as nothing, however it may be concealed, escapes his view, Isaiah brings it as a reproach against them, that they openly and shamelessly, in his very presence, indulged in the commission of crimes. The word glory also deserves our attention; for it is a proof of extraordinary madness, if we have no feeling of reverence, when the majesty of God is presented to our view. If God had so illustriously displayed his glory before the nation of Israel, that they ought justly to have been humbled, if they had any remains of shame or of modesty. Whatever, then, may be the murmurings of wicked men against God, or their complaints of his severity, the cause of all the calamities which they endure will be found to be in their own hands.

9. The proof of their countenance will answer in them, or, will answer against them 5959     See p. 122. As the Prophet had to do with impudent and brazen-faced hypocrites, who impudently boasted that they were good men; so he says that their countenance testifies what kind of persons they are, and that it will not be necessary to bring witnesses from a distance, in order to prove their wickedness; for to answer means “to bear testimony,” or “to confess.” Although, therefore, they disguise their face and countenance, so that they frequently deceive others, yet God compels them to show and prove what they are; so that, in spite of themselves they carry, as it were, in their forehead a mark of their deceit and hypocrisy.

Some explain it, that their crimes are so manifest that they cannot avoid seeing, as in a mirror, the baseness which they desire to conceal But the former meaning is confirmed by what immediately follows, that they declared their sin in the same manner as the inhabitants of Sodom. By these words he intimates that they devoted themselves to iniquity in such a manner, that they boasted of their transgressions without any shame; as if it had been honorable and praiseworthy in them to trample on every distinction between right and wrong, and not to indulge in every kind of wickedness. On this account he compares them to the inhabitants of Sodom, (Genesis 18:20; 19:5,) who were so much blinded by their lusts, that they rushed, with brutish stupidity, to everything base. So, then, this is the answer of the countenance, which he mentioned a little before, that they carry about with them plain tokens of impiety, which are abundantly sufficient to prove their guilt.

Woe unto their soul! Here he declares what was formerly mentioned, that the whole cause of their calamities is to be found in themselves; for by their sins and iniquities they provoked the Lord; and consequently that they have no means of evasion, that it is useless to contrive idle pretenses, because the evil itself dwells in their bones; as if he had said, “God cannot be accused, as if he punished you unjustly. Acknowledge that it has been done by yourselves; give glory to a righteous judge and lay the whole blame on yourselves.”

10. Say, it shall be well with the righteous Before quoting the opinions of others, I shall point out the true meaning As punishments so severe commonly present to pious minds an exceedingly sharp temptation, and especially since hardly any public calamities occur which do not involve good men along with the bad; so the Prophet — at least, in my opinion — reminds them of the providence of God, which never confounds anything, but even, when there is apparent confusion, never ceases to distinguish between good and bad men.

But there are various ways in which this passage is explained; for some render it, “Say to the righteous man, because he is good, therefore he shall eat the fruit of his hands.” From that interpretation this meaning is obtained: “I wish and command the godly to be of good cheer; for with whatever severity I may punish the crimes of the nation, still it shall be well with the godly.” But a more suitable meaning is this: Say; that is, hold it to be a settled point; for in Scripture to say often means to think, and to be convinced; as David writes, I said, I will take heed to thy ways, (Psalm 39:1,) and in a thousand instances of the same kind; so that he does not bid them tell the righteous man, but he bids every man be fully convinced, that happy will be the condition of the righteous man, though he may only appear to be unhappy.

Besides, I consider טוב, (tob,) to mean a happy and prosperous condition; as in the former verse he employed the word רעה, (ragnah) with which טוב is now contrasted; and thus I do not think that רעה, (ragnah,) means wickedness, but a miserable condition. Now since it literally runs, Say to the righteous man, כי טוב: (ki tob,) that it shall be well either the particle כי, (ki,) has an affirmative sense, as in many other passages, or it appears to be superfluous, though the probability is, that it is intended for confirmation. Surely it shall be well with the righteous man; that is, let every ground of doubt be removed, and let us be fully convinced, that the condition of the righteous man will be most excellent and prosperous. It is difficult to believe this, and therefore it is added, he shall eat the fruit of his doings; that is, he shall not be defrauded of the reward of his good conduct. Others consider to say as meaning to exhort, and render the two words, כי טוב (ki tob,) that he will do well; but I reject it as a forced interpretation.

11. Woe unto the wicked! It shall be ill with him. He brings forward this clause as a contrast to the former one; from which it may be easily inferred what was the design of the Prophet, namely, to comfort the godly, and to terrify the wicked by the judgment of God. For when an uncommonly severe calamity occurs, which attacks all without discrimination, we doubt whether it be by the providence of God, or, on the contrary, by blind chance, that the world is governed. On this account godly men fear and dread that the same destruction which overtakes the wicked will ruin them also. Others think that it is of no importance whether a man be good or bad, when they see both classes visited by pestilence, war, famine and other calamities. And hence arises the wicked thought, that there is no difference between the rewards of the good and of the bad; and in the midst of these gloomy thoughts carnal appetites lead many to despair.

Accordingly, the Prophet shows that the judgment of God is right, that men may continue to fear God, and may be aware that those who, in the expectation of escape of punishment, provoke God, will not pass unpunished. He likewise exhorts them to ascribe to God the praise of justice; as if he had said, “Think not that blind chance rules in the world, or that God punishes with blind violence, and without any regard to justice, but hold it as a principle fully settled in your minds, that it shall be well with the righteous man; for God will repay him what he hath promised, and will not disappoint him of his hope. On the other hand, believe that the condition of the wicked man will be most wretched, for he brings on himself the evil which must at length fall on his head.”

By these words the Prophet, at the same time, charges the people with stupidity in not perceiving the judgment of God; for they suffered the punishments of their crimes, and yet hardened themselves under them, as if they had been altogether devoid of feeling. Now there cannot befall us anything worse than that we should be hardened against chastisements, and not perceive that God chastiseth us. When we labor under such stupidity, our case is almost hopeless.

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