Isaiah 9:16
For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Isaiah 9:16-17. For, &c. — “We have here a defence of the divine judgment, taken from the universal corruption of the people, wherein God sets forth the justice of his proceedings, and shows, that not from choice, but from the iniquities of the people, he is compelled to punish. The leaders of this people — Their governors, both civil and ecclesiastical, especially the latter, their teachers, or the false prophets, last-mentioned; cause them to err — Their governors compelling them by power, and their teachers deceiving them by false doctrines, and evil counsels and persuasions. They that are led, &c., are destroyed — Shall certainly perish; nor will it avail them to plead, in their excuse, that they followed the counsel and conduct of their leaders. The Lord shall have no joy in their young men — Shall not rejoice over them to do them good, as he doth over his faithful people, Isaiah 62:5; Zephaniah 3:17. Neither shall have mercy on their fatherless — Who generally are the special objects of his care and pity, and much less upon others. For every one — Not precisely; for there were seven thousand pious persons among them, when they seemed to Elijah to be universally corrupt; but the body or generality of the people are intended; is a hypocrite — For though they professed to worship the true God, yet indeed they had forsaken him. Every mouth speaketh folly — That is, wickedness, which is commonly called folly. They are not ashamed to proclaim their own wickedness; and the corruption of their hearts breaks forth into ungodly speeches.9:8-21 Those are ripening apace for ruin, whose hearts are unhumbled under humbling providences. For that which God designs, in smiting us, is, to turn us to himself; and if this point be not gained by lesser judgments, greater may be expected. The leaders of the people misled them. We have reason to be afraid of those that speak well of us, when we do ill. Wickedness was universal, all were infected with it. They shall be in trouble, and see no way out; and when men's ways displease the Lord, he makes even their friends to be at war with them. God would take away those they thought to have help from. Their rulers were the head. Their false prophets were the tail and the rush, the most despicable. In these civil contests, men preyed on near relations who were as their own flesh. The people turn not to Him who smites them, therefore he continues to smite: for when God judges, he will overcome; and the proudest, stoutest sinner shall either bend or break.For the leaders of this people ... - Note, Isaiah 3:12. Hebrew 'They that call this people blessed' - referring more particularly to the false prophets.

They that are led of them - Hebrew, 'They that are called blessed by them.'

Are destroyed - Hebrew, 'Are swallowed up;' see the note at Isaiah 3:12. They are ruined; or swallowed up as in a vast whirlpool or vortex.

16. leaders, &c.—(See Isa 3:12, Margin, and see on [700]Isa 3:12.) The leaders; their governors, both civil and ecclesiastical, and especially the latter, their teachers, even the false prophets last mentioned. Or, they that bless or praise them, to wit, the false prophets, that flatter them in their wicked ways, with hopes and promises of peace, as their manner was, Jeremiah 6 14 28:9. Both ways the sense is the same.

Cause them to err; either compelling them by power, or deceiving them by false doctrines and evil counsels and persuasions.

Are destroyed; shall certainly perish; nor will it excuse them that they followed the counsel and conduct of their leaders. For the leaders of this people cause them to err,.... Or, "who bless this people", as the Septuagint and Arabic versions; and so the Targum,

"who praise this people;''

that call them blessed, pronounce them happy, see Malachi 3:15 and promise them happiness, both in this world and that to come, though guilty of notorious sins, and live a vicious course of life; and so harden them in their iniquities, and cause them to wander more and more from the way of truth and righteousness; and lead them unto, and leave them in, fatal mistakes about their state and condition. These seem to design the ecclesiastical leaders of the people, the blind leaders of the blind, see Isaiah 3:12,

and they that are led of them are destroyed; or, "they" that "are blessed of them are swallowed up" (c); and so irrecoverably lost; the deceivers and the deceived perish together; as it is sinful in teachers and leaders of the people to teach them false things, and lead them out of the way, it is criminal in the people to be led and taught by them, who ought to take care what they hear and receive; and therefore both are righteously punished; for the words are a reason why the Lord would cut off both the one and the other.

(c) "qui ex hoc populo beati dicuntur, absorbebuntur", Vatablus.

For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. Render: And the leaders of this people have become misleaders, and they of it that are led are swallowed up (or perhaps as Isaiah 3:12 confused).Verse 16. - The leaders of this people cause them to err (comp. Isaiah 3:12). Both the peoples were led into idolatry by their rulers, but Israel especially. Jeroboam, the first king, introduced the calf-worship, and his successors from first to last persisted in his sin. Ahab added the still grosset idolatry of Baal. Those who held high position under the kings were equally bad examples to the people (see above, Isaiah 1:2:3). Are destroyed. First, morally corrupted and debased, then physically given over to destruction - slaughtered by Philistines, Syrians, and Assyrians. The great light would not arise till the darkness had reached its deepest point. The gradual increase of this darkness is predicted in this second section of the esoteric addresses. Many difficult questions suggest themselves in connection with this section. 1. Is it directed against the northern kingdom only, or against all Israel? 2. What was the historical standpoint of the prophet himself? The majority of commentators reply that the prophet is only prophesying against Ephraim here, and that Syria and Ephraim have already been chastised by Tiglath-pileser. The former is incorrect. The prophet does indeed commence with Ephraim, but he does not stop there. The fates of both kingdoms flow into one another here, as well as in Isaiah 8:5., just as they were causally connected in actual fact. And it cannot be maintained, that when the prophet uttered his predictions Ephraim had already felt the scourging of Tiglath-pileser. The prophet takes his stand at a time when judgment after judgment had fallen upon all Israel without improving it. And one of these past judgments was the scourging of Ephraim by Tiglath-pileser. How much or how little of the events which the prophet looks back upon from this ideal standpoint had already taken place, it is impossible to determine; but this is a matter of indifference so far as the prophecy is concerned. The prophet, from his ideal standing-place, had not only this or that behind him, but all that is expressed in this section by perfects and aorists (Ges. 129, 2, b). And we already know from Isaiah 2:9; Isaiah 5:25, that he sued the future conversive as the preterite of the ideal past. We therefore translate the whole in the present tense. In outward arrangement there is no section of Isaiah so symmetrical as this. In chapter 5 we found one partial approach to the strophe in similarity of commencement, and another in chapter 2 in similarity of conclusion. But here Isaiah 5:25 is adapted as the refrain of four symmetrical strophes. We will take each strophe by itself.

Strophe 1. Isa 9:8-12 "The Lord sends out a word against Jacob, and it descends into Israel. And all the people must make atonement, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, saying in pride and haughtiness of heart, 'Bricks are fallen down, and we build with square stones; sycamores are hewn down, and we put cedars in their place.' Jehovah raises Rezin's oppressors high above him, and pricks up his enemies: Aram from the east, and Philistines from the west; they devour Israel with full mouth. For all this His anger is not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still." The word (dâbâr) is both in nature and history the messenger of the Lord: it runs quickly through the earth (Psalm 147:15, Psalm 147:18), and when sent by the Lord, comes to men to destroy or to heal (Psalm 107:20), and never returns to its sender void (Isaiah 55:10-11). Thus does the Lord now send a word against Jacob (Jacob, as in Isaiah 2:5); and this heavenly messenger descends into Israel (nâphal, as in Daniel 4:28, and like the Arabic nazala, which is the word usually employed to denote the communication of divine revelation), taking shelter, as it were, in the soul of the prophet. Its immediate commission is directed against Ephraim, which has been so little humbled by the calamities that have fallen upon it since the time of Jehu, that the people are boasting that they will replace bricks and sycamores (or sycamines, from shikmin), that wide-spread tree (1 Kings 10:27), with works of art and cedars. "We put in their place:" nachaliph is not used here as in Job 14:7, where it signifies to sprout again (nova germina emittere), but as in Isaiah 40:31; Isaiah 41:1, where it is construed with כּח (strength), and signifies to renew (novas vires assumere). In this instance, when the object is one external to the subject, the meaning is to substitute (substituere), like the Arabic achlafa, to restore. The poorest style of building in the land is contrasted with the best; for "the sycamore is a tree which only flourishes in the plain, and there the most wretched houses are still built of bricks dried in the sun, and of knotty beams of sycamore."

(Note: Rosen, Topographisches aus Jerusalem.)

These might have been destroyed by the war, but more durable and stately buildings would rise up in their place. Ephraim, however, would be made to feel this defiance of the judgments of God (to "know," as in Hosea 9:7; Ezekiel 25:14). Jehovah would give the adversaries of Rezin authority over Ephraim, and instigate his foes: sicsēc, as in Isaiah 19:2, from sâcac, in its primary sense of "prick," figere, which has nothing to do with the meanings to plait and cover, but from which we have the words שׂך, סך, a thorn, nail, or plug, and which is probably related to שׂכה, to view, lit., to fix; hence pilpel, to prick up, incite, which is the rendering adopted by the Targum here and in Isaiah 19:2, and by the lxx at Isaiah 19:2. There is no necessity to quote the talmudic sicsēc, to kindle (by friction), which is never met with in the metaphorical sense of exciting. It would be even better to take our sicsēc as an intensive form of sâcac, used in the same sense as the Arabic, viz., to provide one's self with weapons, to arm; but this is probably a denominative from sicca, signifying offensive armour, with the idea of pricking and spearing - a radical notion, from which it would be easy to get at the satisfactory meaning, to spur on or instigate. "The oppressors of Rezin" tzâr Retzı̄n, a simple play upon the words, like hoi goi in Isaiah 1:4, and many others in Isaiah) are the Assyrians, whose help had been sought by Ahaz against Rezin; though perhaps not these exclusively, but possibly also the Trachonites, for example, against whom the mountain fortress Rezı̄n appears to have been erected, to protect the rich lands of eastern Hauran. In Isaiah 9:12 the range of vision stretches over all Israel. It cannot be otherwise, for the northern kingdom never suffered anything from the Philistines; whereas an invasion of Judah by the Philistines was really one of the judgments belonging to the time of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:16-19). Consequently by Israel here we are to understand all Israel, the two halves of which would become a rich prize to the enemy. Ephraim would be swallowed up by Aram - namely, by those who had been subjugated by Asshur, and were now tributary to it - and Judah would be swallowed up by the Philistines. But this strait would be very far from being the end of the punishments of God. Because Israel would not turn, the wrath of God would not turn away.

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