Isaiah 33:1
Woe to you that spoil, and you were not spoiled; and deal treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with you! when you shall cease to spoil, you shall be spoiled; and when you shall make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXXIII.

(1) Woe to thee that spoilest . . .—No chapter in the prophet’s writings presents so little traceable connection. A thought is expressed in one, or it may be two, verses, and then another follows without anything to link it on. This may be, perhaps, explained either by the strong emotion which filled the prophet’s mind as he looked on the coming perils of his country, or, as I think, more probably, on the assumption that we have a series of rough notes, memoranda for a long discourse, which was afterwards delivered in a more continuous form. They would, perhaps, be more intelligible if they were printed separately, as we print Pascal’s Pensées, the verse arrangement giving a fictitious semblance of continuity. The opening words are addressed to Sennacherib when he entered on his second campaign against Judah, as it seemed to Isaiah, without the slightest provocation. Hezekiah had submitted, and had paid an enormous indemnity for the costs of the war (2Kings 18:13-16) at the close of the first campaign, and had, in the meantime, taken no aggressive action. The invasion was one of undisguised spoliation and rapacity. (For “treacherously,” read rapaciously.) Upon such aggressiveness there was sure to come a righteous retribution, and in that thought the prophet finds comfort.

Isaiah 33:1. Wo to thee that spoilest — To Sennacherib, who wasted the land of Judah. The prophet speaks “as if he had found this great spoiler,” to whom he addresses himself, “in the very act of spoiling, and was face to face denouncing the divine judgment upon him.” And thou wast not spoiled — Hadst not received the like injuries. “It is the practice of the great oppressors of the world to make war upon their neighbours without any just provocation, or having received any real injury from them; and it is against such practices that this wo is denounced.” — Lowth. And dealest treacherously — So Sennacherib dealt with Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:14; 2 Kings 18:17. And, or when, they dealt not treacherously with thee — Hezekiah and the Jews did not. “We read, indeed, (2 Kings 18:7,) that Hezekiah rebelled against the king of Assyria; but the meaning is no more than that he would not stand to those dishonourable terms of slavery, to which his father Ahaz had submitted, when he professed himself the servant of the king of Assyria,” (2 Kings 16:7,) begging his assistance against the Syrians and Ephraimites, for which he paid him well; but the king of Assyria did not keep his agreement with him, for he distressed him, but strengthened him not, 2 Chronicles 28:20. When thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled — When thou hast performed the work of chastising my people, to which I have sent thee, thou also shalt be spoiled by thine enemies. The further meaning of this prediction may be, that when the Assyrians, glutted, as it were, with their conquests, should cease to make any further conquests, and give themselves up to luxury and pleasure, then other nations, either mindful of the injuries which they had received from them, or out of rapacity, would attack them in their turn, and spoil them, as they had spoiled others: which came to pass accordingly. Their calamities seem to have begun from the times that Dejoces, king of the Medes, shook off their yoke, about seven hundred years before Christ: for other nations soon followed his example.33:1-14 Here we have the proud and false destroyer justly reckoned with for all his fraud and violence. The righteous God often pays sinners in their own coin. Those who by faith humbly wait for God, shall find him gracious to them; as the day, so let the strength be. If God leaves us to ourselves any morning, we are undone; we must every morning commit ourselves to him, and go forth in his strength to do the work of the day. When God arises, his enemies are scattered. True wisdom and knowledge lead to strength of salvation, which renders us stedfast in the ways of God; and true piety is the only treasure which can never be plundered or spent. The distress Jerusalem was brought into, is described. God's time to appear for his people, is, when all other helpers fail. Let all who hear what God has done, acknowledge that he can do every thing. Sinners in Zion will have much to answer for, above other sinners. And those that rebel against the commands of the word, cannot take its comforts in time of need. His wrath will burn those everlastingly who make themselves fuel for it. It is a fire that shall never be quenched, nor ever go out of itself; it is the wrath of an ever-living God preying on the conscience of a never-dying soul.Wo to thee that spoilest - This description accords entirely with Sennacherib and his army, who had plundered the cities and countries which they had invaded, and who were about to advance to Jerusalem for the same purpose (compare Isaiah 29:7-8; Isaiah 37:11).

And thou wast not spoiled - That is, thou hadst not been plundered by the Jews against whom thou art coming. It was because the war was so unprovoked and unjust, that God would bring so signal vengeance on them.

And dealest treacherously - (See the note at Isaiah 21:2). The treachery of the Assyrians consisted in the fact that when their assistance was asked by the Jews, in order to aid them against the combined forces of Syria and Samaria (see Isaiah 7:1-2), they had taken occasion from that invitation to bring desolation on Judah (see Isaiah 7:17, Isaiah 7:20; Isaiah 8:6-8, note; Isaiah 10:6, note). Hezekiah also gave to Sennacherib thirty talents of gold and three hundred talents of silver, evidently with an understanding that this was all that he demanded, and that if this was paid, he would leave the nation in peace. But this implied promise he perfidiously disregarded (see 2 Kings 18:14-15).

When thou shalt cease to spoil - This does not relier to his having voluntarily ceased to plunder, but to the fact that God would put an end to it.

Thou shalt be spoiled - This was literally fulfilled. The Assyrian monarchy lost its splendor and power, and was finally merged in the more mighty empire of Babylon. The nation was, of course, subject to the depredation of the conquerors, and compelled to submit to them. "When thou shalt make an end." The idea is, that there would be a completion, or a finishing of his acts of treachery toward the Jews, and that would be when God should overthrow him and his army.

They shall deal treacherously with thee - The words 'they shall,' are here equivalent to, 'thou shalt be dealt With in a treacherous manner.' The result was, that Sennacherib was treacherously slain by his own sons as he was 'worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god' Isaiah 37:38, and thus the prophecy was literally fulfilled. The sense of the whole is, that God would reward their desire of plundering a nation that had not injured them by the desolation of their own land; and would recompense the perfidiousness of the kings of Assyria that had sought to subject Jerusalem to their power, by perfidiousness in the royal family itself.

CHAPTER 33

Isa 33:1-24. The Last of Isaiah's Prophecies as to Sennacherib's Overthrow.

Isa 33:1, 8, 9, describe the Assyrian spoiler; strong as he is, he shall fall before Jehovah who is stronger (Isa 33:2-6, 10-12). The time is the autumn of 713 B.C.

1. and thou—that is, though thou wast not spoiled—though thou wast not dealt treacherously with (see on [749]Isa 24:16), thy spoiling and treachery are therefore without excuse, being unprovoked.

cease—When God has let thee do thy worst, in execution of His plans, thine own turn shall come (compare Isa 10:12; 14:2; Hab 2:8; Re 13:10).The destruction of the enemies of the church; who are derided, Isaiah 33:1-13; which terrifieth the sinners in Zion, Isaiah 33:14. The safety and privileges of the godly, Isaiah 33:15-24.

Woe to thee that spoilest! to Sennacherib, who wasted the land of Judah.

Thou wast not spoiled; thou didst not meet with any considerable opposition, but wast victorious over all thine enemies; of which the Assyrian boasteth, Isaiah 10:8,9 36:18,19.

Dealest treacherously; as Sennacherib did with Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:14,17.

They dealt not treacherously with thee; none of thine enemies could prevail against thee, either by force, of which he speaketh in the former clause, or by treachery, as here. Or, when they dealt not, &c.; when Hezekiah did not deal treacherously with thee. If it be said that Hezekiah dealt treacherously with him, in breaking his faith, and rebel. ling against him, it may be answered, that Hezekiah neither promised nor owed him any service or subjection. What was done in that kind was done by Ahaz only; and he only begged his assistance for a particular work, and paid him well for it, 2 Kings 16:7,8, and the king of Assyria did not keep his conditions with him; for he distressed him, but strengthened him not, 2 Chronicles 28:20.

When thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; when thou hast performed the work of chastening my people, for which I sent thee, thou also shalt be spoiled by thine enemies.

Woe to thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled,.... Which some understand of Nebuchadnezzar; others of Sennacherib, which is more probable; it seems best to interpret it of the Romish antichrist. Kimchi thinks that, if it respects the times of Hezekiah, Sennacherib is meant; but if the times of the Messiah, then the king of nations that shall be in those days; and he adds, this is the kingdom of Persia, in the vision of Daniel. Vatringa applies this to Antiochus Epiphanes, and the whole prophecy to the times of the Maccabees; but it best agrees with the beast of Rome, to whom power has been given over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations, the Apollyon, the spoiler and destroyer of the earth, especially of the saints, whom he has made war with and overcome; see Revelation 9:11 now this spoiler of man, of their substance by confiscation, of their bodies by imprisonment and death, and of their societies and families by his violent persecutions, and of the souls of others by his false doctrine; though he may continue long in prosperity and glory, and not be spoiled, or destroyed, yet not always. The Vulgate Latin version renders the last clause interrogatively, and perhaps not amiss, "shall thou not be spoiled?" verily thou shalt; the same measure he has meted to others shall be measured to him again; the spoiler of others shall be stripped of all himself; he that destroyed the earth shall be destroyed from off the earth; he that leads into captivity shall go into it; and he that kills with the sword shall be slain by it, Revelation 11:18,

and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee; or, "shall they not deal treacherously with thee?" so the above version renders it with an interrogation; and both this and the preceding clause are thus paraphrased by the Targum,

"woe to thee that comest to spoil, and shall they not spoil thee? and who comest to oppress, and shall they not oppress thee?''

truly they shall; the kings of the earth that were in confederacy with the beast, and gave their kingdoms to him, shall hate the whore, eat her flesh, and burn her with fire, Revelation 17:16,

when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shall be spoiled; when the time is come that antichrist shall be suffered no longer to ravage in the earth, and spoil the bodies, souls, and substance of men, then shall he himself be spoiled of his power and authority, riches and grandeur; his plagues shall come upon him at once, fire, famine, and death; for his cessation from spoiling will not be his own option, nor the fruit and effect of repentance and reformation, but will be owing to the sovereign power of God in restraining him:

and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee; for the coming of antichrist was with lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness; he has the appearance of a lamb, but speaks like a dragon; has used many wiles, arts, and stratagems, and treacherous methods to deceive and impose on men, and to ensnare and entrap them; and when the time is come that he will not be permitted to proceed any further and longer in his deceitful practices, the kings of the earth, who have been deceived by him, and brought in subjection to him, will pay him in his own coin; see 2 Thessalonians 2:9.

Woe to thee that {a} layest waste, and thou wast not laid waste; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! when thou shalt {b} cease to lay waste, thou shalt be wasted; and when thou shalt make an end of dealing treacherously, {c} they shall deal treacherously with thee.

(a) Meaning, the enemies of the Church, as were the Chaldeans and Assyrians, but chiefly of Sennacherib, but not only.

(b) When your appointed time will come that God will take away your power: and that which you have wrongfully gained, will be given to others, as in Am 5:11.

(c) The Chaldeans will do the same to the Assyrians, as the Assyrians did to Israel, and the Medes and Persians will do the same to the Chaldeans.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. The enemy is described by epithets which recur in ch. Isaiah 21:2, Isaiah 24:16. The obscurity of the reference is somewhat unlike Isaiah, who is usually perfectly explicit in his references to the Assyrian.

when thou shalt make an end] The Heb. verb used is supposed to mean “attain”; but it occurs nowhere else, and the reading is probably at fault. The substitution of a Kaph for the Nun gives the common verb killâh, “finish,” which is the exact sense given by the E.V.Verses 1-6. - THE JUDGMENT ON ASSYRIA AND DELIVERANCE OF JERUSALEM, STATED GENERALLY. Events had progressed since the preceding prophecies were delivered. The negotiations carried on with Sennacherib had been futile (ver. 7), the heavy fine imposed and paid (2 Kings 18:14) had been of no avail (ver. 18); the Assyrian monarch was still dissatisfied, and threatened a second siege. Already he was upon his march, spoiling and ravaging (ver. 1). The people of the country districts had removed into the town (ver. 8) - in a little time the vast host might be expected to appear before the walls. All was terror, grief, and confusion. Under these circumstances, Isaiah is once more commissioned to declare the approaching discomfiture of the mighty conqueror, and deliverance of Jerusalem out of his hand (vers. 3, 4). The deliverance ushers in a reign of righteousness (Vers. 5, 6). Verse 1. - Woe to thee that spoilest. The "spoiler" is here, evidently, Assyria - the world-power of this entire group of prophecies (see especially Isaiah 30:31; Isaiah 31:8), and the greatest "spoiler" of Isaiah's time. Thou wast not spoiled; i.e. "that hast not yet been spoiled thyself." A covert threat is conveyed in the words. And dealest treacherously; rather, usest violence (compare the comment on Isaiah 21:2). When thou shalt cease to spoil, etc. Conquering nations cannot with safety pause on their career. Their aggressions have roused so many enmities that, let them cease to attack, and at once they are attacked in their turn. Every man's baud is against the spoiler whose hand has been against every man. The state would then continue long, very long, until at last the destruction of the false rest would be followed by the realization of the true. "Until the Spirit is poured out over us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as the forest. And justice makes its abode in the desert, and righteousness settles down upon the fruit-field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the reward of righteousness rest and security for ever. And my people dwells in a place of peace, and in trustworthy, safe dwellings, and in cheerful resting-places. And it hails with the overthrow of the forest, and into lowliness must the city be brought low." There is a limit, therefore, to the "for ever" of Isaiah 32:14. The punishment would last till the Spirit, which Israel had not then dwelling in the midst of it (see Haggai 2:5), and whose fulness was like a closed vessel to Israel, should be emptied out over Israel from the height of heaven (compare the piel ערה, Genesis 24:20), i.e., should be poured out in all its fulness. When that was done, a great change would take place, the spiritual nature of which is figuratively represented in the same proverbial manner as in Isaiah 29:17. At the same time, a different turn is given to the second half in the passage before us. The meaning is, not that what was now valued as a fruit-bearing garden would be brought down from its false eminence, and be only regarded as forest; but that the whole would be so glorious, that what was now valued as a fruit-garden, would be thrown into the shade by something far more glorious still, in comparison with which it would have the appearance of a forest, in which everything grew wild. The whole land, the uncultivated pasture-land as well as the planted fruitful fields of corn and fruit, would then become the tent and seat of justice and righteousness. "Justice and righteousness' (mishpât and tsedâqâh) are throughout Isaiah the stamp of the last and perfect time. As these advance towards self-completion, the produce and result of these will be peace (ma‛ăseh and abhōdâh are used to denote the fruit or self-reward of work and painstaking toil; compare פּעלּה). But two things must take place before this calm, trustworthy, happy peace, of which the existing carnal security is only a caricature, can possibly be realized. In the first place, it must hail, and the wood must fall, being beaten down with hail. We already know, from Isaiah 10:34, that "the wood" was an emblem of Assyria; and in Isaiah 30:30-31, we find "the hail" mentioned as one of the forces of nature that would prove destructive to Assyria. And secondly, "the city" (העיר, a play upon the word, and a counterpart to היּער) must first of all be brought low into lowliness (i.e., be deeply humiliated). Rosenmller and others suppose the imperial city to be intended, according to parallels taken from chapters 24-27; but in this cycle of prophecies, in which the imperial city is never mentioned at all, "the city" must be Jerusalem, whose course from the false peace to the true lay through a humiliating punishment (Isaiah 29:2-4; Isaiah 30:19., Isaiah 31:4.).
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