Isaiah 40:23
That brings the princes to nothing; he makes the judges of the earth as vanity.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) That bringeth the princes to nothing.—The words imply, like those of Isaiah 14:9, the prophetic strain of experience. The past is full of the records of kingdoms that are no more; so also shall the future be; mortalia facta peribunt. In “vanity” we have the familiar tohu once more.

40:18-26 Whatever we esteem or love, fear or hope in, more than God, that creature we make equal with God, though we do not make images or worship them. He that is so poor, that he has scarcely a sacrifice to offer, yet will not be without a god of his own. They spared no cost upon their idols; we grudge what is spent in the service of our God. To prove the greatness of God, the prophet appeals to all ages and nations. Those who are ignorant of this, are willingly ignorant. God has the command of all creatures, and of all created things. The prophet directs us to use our reason as well as our senses; to consider who created the hosts of heaven, and to pay our homage to Him. Not one fails to fulfil his will. And let us not forget, that He spake all the promises, and engaged to perform them.That bringeth the princes to nothing - That is, all princes and kings. No matter how great their power, their wealth, and their dignity, they are, by his hand, reduced to nothing before him. The design of this passage is to contrast the majesty of God with that of princes and nobles, and to show how far he excels them all. The general truth is therefore stated, that all monarchs are by him removed from their thrones, and consigned to nothing. The same idea is expressed in Job 12:21 :

He poureth contempt upon princes,

And weakeneth the strength of the mighty.

And in Psalm 107:40 :

He poureth contempt upon princes,

And causeth them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way.

The particular idea here, as appears from the next verse, is, that the princes and rulers who are opposed to God constitute no real resistance to the execution of his purposes. He can strip off their honors and glory, and obliterate even their names.

He maketh the judges of the earth - Kings and princes often executed judgment personally, and hence, the words judges and kings seem to be synonymous as they are used here, and in Psalm 2:10 :

Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings;

Be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

23. (Ps 107:4; Da 2:21).

judges—that is, rulers; for these exercised judicial authority (Ps 2:10). The Hebrew, shophtee, answers to the Carthaginian chief magistrates, suffetes.

That bringeth the princes to nothing; that can at his pleasure destroy all the great potentates of the world. That bringeth princes to nothing,.... The great men of the earth, kings, rulers, and nobles, these he brings to the dust; and all their counsels, schemes, and purposes, come to nothing; and their monarchies and kingdoms too in time. Where are now the Babylonish, Persian, and Grecian monarchies, and those great princes that formerly reigned in them?

he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity; their decrees and decisions to stand for nothing, as "tohu" and "bohu", the first of which words is used here; so that they are no more regarded and attended to.

That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23, 24. The majesty of God displayed in Providence.

princes] dignitaries (a poetic word), “potent, grave and reverend signiors.” as vanity] “as nothingness,” lit. “chaos”; see on Isaiah 40:17. For he maketh, render who maketh.Verse 23. - The princes... the judges; rather, princes, judges. The entire class of such is meant, not any special individuals (comp. Psalm 107:40; Job 12:19-21). As vanity; or, as chaos - the same word that is used in ver. 17. From the obverse of the thought in Isaiah 40:15 the prophet returns to the thought itself, and dwells upon it still further. "All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are regarded by Him as belonging to nullity and emptiness." 'Ephes is the end at which a thing ceases, and in an absolute sense that at which all being ceases, hence non-existence or nullity. Tōhū (from tâhâh, related to shâ'âh; vid., Comm. on Job, at Job 37:6), a horrible desolation, like the chaos of creation, where there is nothing definite, and therefore as good as nothing at all; min is hardly comparative in the sense of "more nothing than nothing itself" (Like Job 11:17, where "brighter" is to be supplied, or Micah 7:4, where "sharper" is similarly required), but is used in the same partitive sense as in Isaiah 41:24 (cf., Isaiah 44:11 and Psalm 62:10).
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