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Social Evils Denounced


Alas for those who devise wickedness

and evil deeds on their beds!

When the morning dawns, they perform it,

because it is in their power.


They covet fields, and seize them;

houses, and take them away;

they oppress householder and house,

people and their inheritance.


Therefore thus says the L ord:

Now, I am devising against this family an evil

from which you cannot remove your necks;

and you shall not walk haughtily,

for it will be an evil time.


On that day they shall take up a taunt song against you,

and wail with bitter lamentation,

and say, “We are utterly ruined;

the L ord alters the inheritance of my people;

how he removes it from me!

Among our captors he parcels out our fields.”


Therefore you will have no one to cast the line by lot

in the assembly of the L ord.



“Do not preach”—thus they preach—

“one should not preach of such things;

disgrace will not overtake us.”


Should this be said, O house of Jacob?

Is the L ord’s patience exhausted?

Are these his doings?

Do not my words do good

to one who walks uprightly?


But you rise up against my people as an enemy;

you strip the robe from the peaceful,

from those who pass by trustingly

with no thought of war.


The women of my people you drive out

from their pleasant houses;

from their young children you take away

my glory forever.


Arise and go;

for this is no place to rest,

because of uncleanness that destroys

with a grievous destruction.


If someone were to go about uttering empty falsehoods,

saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,”

such a one would be the preacher for this people!


A Promise for the Remnant of Israel


I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob,

I will gather the survivors of Israel;

I will set them together

like sheep in a fold,

like a flock in its pasture;

it will resound with people.


The one who breaks out will go up before them;

they will break through and pass the gate,

going out by it.

Their king will pass on before them,

the L ord at their head.


As the words of the Prophet are concise, they contain some obscurity. Hence interpreters differ. First, as to the word אתמיל, atmul, some think it to be one word, others divide it into את, at and מול, mul, which means, over against, opposite; and they regard it of the same import with ממול, which immediately follows. But as the repetition would be frigid, the Prophet no doubt intended that it should be taken here in its proper sense, and its meaning is yesterday. But this time is not strictly taken by the Hebrews, for they take yesterday as meaning the past time, even when many years have elapsed. I have therefore rendered it formerly, which suits this place. There is also another difference as to the sense of the text, for some think that this אתמול, atmul, is to be joined to the verb קומם, kumum; but it is rather to be connected with the word עמי, omi, My people formerly There is another diversity, that is, as to the term אויב, avib, for some apply it to God, and others to the people; that they rose up or stood one against another. For this verb is explained in two ways: some view it as a verb neuter, They stand against the enemy; and others render it, They rise up against the enemy; and this second meaning is most approved, and harmonizes best with the context.

I will now refer to what I consider to be the real meaning. The Prophet, in the first place, says, that the people were formerly under the power and government of God, but that now they were become wholly alienated from him. Formerly, then, it was my people, as though God now renounced all friendship with them. “I have hitherto owned you as my people, but hereafter I shall have nothing to do with you, for the whole authority of my word is by you entirely abolished; ye have violated your faith: in short, as you have destroyed my covenant, ye have ceased to be my people; for whatever favor I have conferred on you, you have deprived yourselves of it by your wickedness; and though I have adopted you, yet your wickedness now strips you of this privilege.” This is one thing.

It then follows, They have risen up as against an enemy. I consider a note of likeness to be here understood. The Prophet says simply, Against an enemy have they risen up; but I regard the meaning to be, that they had risen up as against an enemy; that is that they had made God, their best father, their enemy, inasmuch as they had by their crimes provoked his displeasure. 8686     Newcome gives the same meaning to this part of the line, though another to the former part,—
   But of old my people hath risen up as an enemy.

   Henderson’s version is the same. The word rendered “of old” means “yesterday,” and expresses often past time indefinitely. It is once rendered “of old,” Isaiah 30:33; but in other places, “heretofore,” “in times past;” but “formerly,” or “of late,” would be the most suitable expression in this passage. — Ed.
He then confirms this truth by saying, that they practiced robberies among themselves. We indeed know that hypocrites ever hide themselves under their religious rites, and spread them forth as their shield whenever they are reproved. Hence the Prophet says, that they were not to be deemed the people of God for spending their labors on sacrifices, for they were at the same time robbers, and plundered innocent men.

The garment of comeliness, he says, or, the garment and the cloak, (about such words I do not labor much,) they take away from those who pass by securely; 8787     The literal rendering of these two lines may be given thus:—
   From off the garment the mantle ye shall strip
From those who pass by securely, returning from war.

   Or the last words, שובי מלחמה, “averters of war,” may designate people of a peaceable disposition, and “war” may be taken for strife or contention; then the rendering would be, “who turn away from contention.” Newcome, on the authority of one MS., which has שבי, gives this version, “captives of war,” which seems unsuitable to this passage. Marckius renders the phrase thus, aversi belli, seu, a bello, “turning away from war,” or, “shy of war.” This view evidently comports best with the context. — Ed.
that is from all who are peaceable. For when there is a suspicion of war, or when a traveler does any mischief, he rightly deserves to be punished. But the Prophet says here, that they were robbed, who passed by securely as though they were in a safe country. “When travelers fear nothing, ye strip them of their garments, as though they were returning from war: as they are wont, when war is over, to seize on spoils wherever found, and no one can keep his own; so now, during peace, ye take to yourselves the same liberty, as though all things were exposed to plunder, and ye were in a hostile country, lately the scene of warfare.”

We now then perceive the meaning of the Prophet. He first intimates that the people were now rejected by God, for they had rendered themselves, by their most abandoned life, wholly unworthy of his benefits; and at the same time he reproves their ingratitude that having been the people of God, they choose to make war with him rather than to observe the covenant which he had made for their safety; for it was a most shameful wickedness in them, since they had been chosen from the whole world to be a peculiar people, to prefer going to war with God rather than to live quietly under his protection. And that they did rise up against God he proves, for they gave themselves up to robberies; they plundered, even during times of peace, which circumstance greatly aggravated their wickedness. It now follows —

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