Isaiah 5:13
Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) My people are gone into captivity.—The great captivity of Judah lay as yet far off, but the prophet may be speaking of it as already present in his vision of the future. Probably, however, the disastrous wars of Ahaz had involved many captures of the kind referred to (2Chronicles 28:5; 2Chronicles 28:8; 2Chronicles 28:17-18).

Because they have no knowledge.—Better, and they knew noti.e., did not foresee that this must be the outcome of their conduct. The “honourable men” and the “multitude” are named as representing all classes of society.

Isaiah 5:13-14. Therefore the people are gone into captivity — The prophet may refer to those carried captive in the time of Ahaz: see on Isaiah 2:20. Or his words may be rendered, the people go into, &c.; that is, shall certainly and shortly go, speaking of the approaching judgments as if they were already come. Because they have no knowledge — No serious consideration of God’s works, and of their own duty and danger. And their honourable men are famished — Who thought themselves quite out of the reach of famine. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself — The grave, or the place of torment to which certainly the souls of such persons must descend; and opened her mouth without measure —

To receive those vast numbers which die by this famine, or otherwise, as is here implied. The prophet is thought to allude “to the form of the ancient sepulchres, which were subterraneous caverns hollowed out of a rock, the mouth of which was generally closed by a great stone. The prosopopœia is extremely fine and expressive, and the image is fraught with the most tremendous horror.” And their glory, &c. — Their nobles, or honourable men, as they are called, Isaiah 5:13, being distinguished, both here and there, from the multitude; and their pomp — Which shall die with them; and he that rejoiceth — That spendeth all his days in mirth and jollity, and casteth away all cares and fears; shall descend into it — Not only into the grave, but into hell. Bishop Lowth’s translation of this verse is peculiarly striking:

“Therefore Hades hath enlarged his appetite; And hath stretched open his mouth without measure: And down go her nobility, and her populace, And her busy throng, and all that exult in her.”

“These verses,” (13 and 14,) he justly observes, “have a reference to the two preceding. They that indulged in feasting and drinking, shall perish with hunger and thirst: and Hades” (the invisible world, hell prepared to receive these sinners that live and die in sin) “shall indulge his appetite as much as they had done, and devour them all. The image is strong and expressive in the highest degree. Habakkuk uses the same image with great force, chap. 2:5. But in Isaiah, Hades is introduced, to much greater advantage, in person; and placed before our eyes as a ravenous monster, opening wide his unmeasurable jaws, and swallowing them all together.”5:8-23 Here is a woe to those who set their hearts on the wealth of the world. Not that it is sinful for those who have a house and a field to purchase another; but the fault is, that they never know when they have enough. Covetousness is idolatry; and while many envy the prosperous, wretched man, the Lord denounces awful woes upon him. How applicable to many among us! God has many ways to empty the most populous cities. Those who set their hearts upon the world, will justly be disappointed. Here is woe to those who dote upon the pleasures and the delights of sense. The use of music is lawful; but when it draws away the heart from God, then it becomes a sin to us. God's judgments have seized them, but they will not disturb themselves in their pleasures. The judgments are declared. Let a man be ever so high, death will bring him low; ever so mean, death will bring him lower. The fruit of these judgments shall be, that God will be glorified as a God of power. Also, as a God that is holy; he shall be owned and declared to be so, in the righteous punishment of proud men. Those are in a woful condition who set up sin, and who exert themselves to gratify their base lusts. They are daring in sin, and walk after their own lusts; it is in scorn that they call God the Holy One of Israel. They confound and overthrow distinctions between good and evil. They prefer their own reasonings to Divine revelations; their own devices to the counsels and commands of God. They deem it prudent and politic to continue profitable sins, and to neglect self-denying duties. Also, how light soever men make of drunkenness, it is a sin which lays open to the wrath and curse of God. Their judges perverted justice. Every sin needs some other to conceal it.Therefore my people are gone - This is evidently used with reference to the "future." The prophet described events as "passing before his eyes" as a vision (note, Isaiah 1:1); and he here seems to "see" the people going into captivity, and describes it as an event actually occurring.

Into captivity - Referring, doubtless, to the captivity at Babylon.

Because they have no knowledge - Because they do not choose to retain the knowledge of God.

And their honorable men - The Hebrew is, 'The glory of the people became people of famine;' that is, they shall be destroyed with famine. This was to be a "punishment" for their dissipation at their feasts.

And their multitude - The mass, or body of the nation; the common people.

Dried up with thirst - Are punished in this manner for their indulgence in drinking. The punishment here specified, refers particularly to a journey through an arid, desolate region, where drink could be obtained only with difficulty. Such was the route which the nation was compelled afterward to take in going to Babylon.

13. are gone—The prophet sees the future as if it were before his eyes.

no knowledge—because of their foolish recklessness (Isa 5:12; Isa 1:3; Ho 4:6; Lu 19:44).

famished—awful contrast to their luxurious feasts (Isa 5:11, 12).

multitude—plebeians in contradistinction to the "honorable men," or nobles.

thirst—(Ps 107:4, 5). Contrast to their drinking (Isa 5:11). In their deportation and exile, they shall hunger and thirst.

Are gone into captivity; either,

1. Are actually gone, which was true of the ten tribes in Hezekiah’s reign, 2 Kings 18:9, under whom this prophecy might be uttered; or,

2. Shall certainly and shortly go, as the two tribes afterward did.

They have no knowledge; no serious consideration of God’s works, and of their own duty and danger. Their honourable men, who thought themselves quite out of reach of famine. Therefore my people are gone into captivity,.... Or rather, as Kimchi explains it, "shall go into captivity"; the past for the future; for this cannot be understood even of the captivity of the ten tribes, for they were not carried captive until the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign, 2 Kings 17:6 whereas this prophecy was delivered out many years before, even in the time of Uzziah, as is manifest from the following chapter, Isaiah 6:1 and much less it cannot design the captivity of Judah, but respects the captivity by the Romans, in future time.

Because they have no knowledge; of the work of the Lord, and the operations of his hands; the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "because they knew not the Lord", the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, the true Messiah; they knew not his person, office, grace, and Gospel; they did not own and acknowledge him, but despised and rejected him; their ignorance was affected and voluntary; they had the means of knowledge, but did not make use of them; they would not know him, they would not attend to the strong and clear evidence of his being the Messiah, which prophecies, miracles, and his doctrines, gave of him; the things belonging to their peace they knew not, these were righteously hid from them, and hence destruction came upon them, Luke 19:42 the words may be rendered in connection with the former, "therefore my people shall go into captivity without knowledge" (b), unawares, unthought of, and unexpected; and the Jews, to the last; did not think their city would be taken, but that in some way of other salvation and deliverance would be wrought for them:

and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst; or "shall be"; this is expressive of a famine of bread and water, which all, both high and low, prince and people, should be affected with; see Isaiah 3:1 and was true not only when Jerusalem was besieged by the Chaldeans, Jeremiah 52:6, Jeremiah 5:10 but when it was besieged by the Romans, in which the rich suffered as well as the poor; and was so great, that even women ate their own children, as Josephus (c) relates: this is threatened as a punishment of their rioting and drunkenness, Isaiah 5:11.

(b) "idcirco exsulat populus meus absque scientia", Cocceius; so Montanus. (c) De Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 10. sect. 2. 3. & 12. 3. & 6. 3, sect. 3.

Therefore my people {s} have gone into captivity, because they have {t} no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.

(s) That is, will certainly go: for so the prophets use to speak as though the thing which will come to pass were done already.

(t) Because they would not obey the word of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. Therefore (because its leaders are so blind) my people goeth into captivity (proph. perf.). This is the only explicit mention of exile in Isaiah. Cf. again Amos 6:7. The next words may be rendered either from lack of knowledge (R.V.) or without knowing it—“unawares” (Cheyne). The former gives the better sense (cf. Hosea 4:6).

their honourable men … their multitude] lit. “its glory” … “its tumult.” The contrast, however, is rightly indicated by A.V.—the noblesse over against the populace. famished] Hebr. “men of hunger.” But the word for “men” is poetic (Isaiah 3:25) and never found in such phrases as this. The ancient versions, with a different vocalisation, read “dead with hunger,” which is obviously too strong. Most commentators now follow Ewald and Hitzig, and alter the text in accordance with Deuteronomy 32:24 (R.V. “wasted”), reading “sucked out (exhausted) with hunger.” This involves the change of a single letter, and yields a suitable parallelism to “dried up with thirst.”Verse 13. - Therefore my people are gone into captivity. "Are gone" or "have gone" is "the perfect of prophetic certainty" (Cheyne). The prophet sees the captivity as a thing that had already taken place. It as an appropriate punishment for drunkenness and revelry to be carried off into servitude, and in that condition to suffer, as slaves so often did, hunger and thirst. Because they have no knowledge; or, unawares, without foreseeing it (so Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Ewald, Delitzsch, Cheyne). Their honorable men; literally, their glory, for "their glorious ones" - the abstract for the concrete. Are famished; literally, sons of famine; i.e. "starvelings." Their multitude; or, their noisy crowd (Kay) - the "throng of voluptuaries" who frequented the great banquets of vers. 11, 12. "For the vineyard of Jehovah of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the plantation of His delight: He waited for justice, and behold grasping; for righteousness, and behold a shriek." The meaning is not that the Lord of the vineyard would not let any more rain fall upon it, because this Lord was Jehovah (which is not affirmed in fact in the words commencing with "for," Ci), but a more general one. This was how the case stood with the vineyard; for all Israel, and especially the people of Judah, were this vineyard, which had so bitterly deceived the expectations of its Lord, and indeed "the vineyard of Jehovah of hosts," and therefore of the omnipotent God, whom even the clouds would serve when He came forth to punish. The expression "for" (Ci) is not only intended to vindicate the truth of the last statement, but the truth of the whole simile, including this: it is an explanatory "for" (Ci explic.), which opens the epimythion. "The vineyard of the Lord of hosts" (Cerem Jehovah Zebaoth) is the predicate. "The house of Israel (Beth Yisrâel) was the whole nation, which is also represented in other passages under the same figure of a vineyard (Isaiah 27:2.; Psalm 80, etc.). But as Isaiah was prophet in Judah, he applies the figure more particularly to Judah, which was called Jehovah's favourite plantation, inasmuch as it was the seat of the divine sanctuary and of the Davidic kingdom. This makes it easy enough to interpret the different parts of the simile employed. The fat mountain-horn was Canaan, flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 15:17); the digging of the vineyard, and clearing it of stones, was the clearing of Canaan from its former heathen inhabitants (Psalm 54:3); the sorek-vines were the holy priests and prophets and kings of Israel of the earlier and better times (Jeremiah 2:21); the defensive and ornamental tower in the midst of the vineyard was Jerusalem as the royal city, with Zion the royal fortress (Micah 4:8); the winepress-trough was the temple, where, according to Psalm 36:9 (8.), the wine of heavenly pleasures flowed in streams, and from which, according to Psalm 42:1-11 and many other passages, the thirst of the soul might all be quenched. The grazing and treading down are explained in Jeremiah 5:10 and Jeremiah 12:10. The bitter deception experienced by Jehovah is expressed in a play upon two words, indicating the surprising change of the desired result into the very opposite. The explanation which Gesenius, Caspari, Knobel, and others give of mispâch, viz., bloodshed, does not commend itself; for even if it must be admitted that sâphach occurs once or twice in the "Arabizing" book of Job (Job 30:7; Job 14:19) in the sense of pouring out, this verbal root is strange to the Hebrew (and the Aramaean). Moreover, mispâch in any case would only mean pouring or shedding, and not bloodshed; and although the latter would certainly be possible by the side of the Arabic saffâch, saffâk (shedder of blood), yet it would be such an ellipsis as cannot be shown anywhere else in Hebrew usage. On the other hand, the rendering "leprosy" does not yield any appropriate sense, as mispachath (sappachath) is never generalized anywhere else into the single idea of "dirt" (Luzzatto: sozzura), nor does it appear as an ethical notion. We therefore prefer to connect it with a meaning unquestionably belonging to the verb ספח (see kal, 1 Samuel 2:36; niphal, Isaiah 14:1; hithpael, 1 Samuel 26:19), which is derived in יסף, אסף, סוּף, from the primary notion "to sweep," spec. to sweep towards, sweep in, or sweep away. Hence we regard mispach as denoting the forcible appropriation of another man's property; certainly a suitable antithesis to mishpât. The prophet describes, in full-toned figures, how the expected noble grapes had turned into wild grapes, with nothing more than an outward resemblance. The introduction to the prophecy closes here.

The prophecy itself follows next, a seven-fold discourse composed of the six-fold woe contained in vv. 8-23, and the announcement of punishment in which it terminates. In this six-fold woe the prophet describes the bad fruits one by one. In confirmation of our rendering of mispâch, the first woe relates to covetousness and avarice as the root of all evil.

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