|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:5-14 The prophet reads the doom of all proud and oppressive powers that bear hard upon God's people. The lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are the entangling snares of men; and we find him that led Israel captive, himself led captive by each of these. No more of what we have is to be reckoned ours, than what we come honestly by. Riches are but clay, thick clay; what are gold and silver but white and yellow earth? Those who travel through thick clay, are hindered and dirtied in their journey; so are those who go through the world in the midst of abundance of wealth. And what fools are those that burden themselves with continual care about it; with a great deal of guilt in getting, saving, and spending it, and with a heavy account which they must give another day! They overload themselves with this thick clay, and so sink themselves down into destruction and perdition. See what will be the end hereof; what is gotten by violence from others, others shall take away by violence. Covetousness brings disquiet and uneasiness into a family; he that is greedy of gain troubles his own house; what is worse, it brings the curse of God upon all the affairs of it. There is a lawful gain, which, by the blessing of God, may be a comfort to a house; but what is got by fraud and injustice, will bring poverty and ruin upon a family. Yet that is not the worst; Thou hast sinned against thine own soul, hast endangered it. Those who wrong their neighbours, do much greater wrong to their own souls. If the sinner thinks he has managed his frauds and violence with art and contrivance, the riches and possessions he heaped together will witness against him. There are not greater drudges in the world than those who are slaves to mere wordly pursuits. And what comes of it? They find themselves disappointed of it, and disappointed in it; they will own it is worse than vanity, it is vexation of spirit. By staining and sinking earthly glory, God manifests and magnifies his own glory, and fills the earth with the knowledge of it, as plentifully as waters cover the sea, which are deep, and spread far and wide.
Verse 13. - Is it not of the Lord of hosts? Hath not God ordained that this, about to be mentioned, should be the issue of all this evil splendour? That the people shall labour in the very fire; rather, that the peoples labour for the fire; i.e. that the Chaldees and such like nations expended all this toil on cities and fortresses only to supply food for fire, which, the prophet sees, will be their end (Isaiah 40:16). Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:58) applies these and the following words to the destruction of Babylon. This is indeed to weary themselves for very vanity. Babylon, when it was finally taken, was given over to fire and sword (comp. Jeremiah 50:32; Jeremiah 51:30, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts?.... That which follows; the judgments of God upon the bloody city, which they that labour to prevent labour in vain. So the Targum,
"lo, strong and mighty blows or judgments come from the Lord of hosts;''
the mighty God, the Lord of armies, whose hand when stretched out none can turn back; he does what he pleases, and none can hinder him; when the decree is gone forth from him, it is in vain to attempt to stop it:
that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? words of the same import, and expressed in much the same language, were used of the destruction of literal Babylon by fire, and of the vain attempts of the Chaldeans in labouring and wearying themselves to quench it, Jeremiah 51:58 and here of mystical Babylon, and the vanity of the people of it, in labouring to support it by their wars, for recovering the holy land from the Turks, and against the Waldenses, Hussites, and Bohemians; for, notwithstanding all their successes, and the vast number of persons slain by them, yet they could never prevail so as to root out the kingdom and interest of Christ: and their city and state shall fall, and they will not be able to uphold it; and a considerable blow and shock it received at the time of the Reformation; and this great city Babylon will be destroyed by fire, which its best friends cannot prevent; even the ten kings that have given their kingdom to the beast will hate the whore, and burn her with fire; and those antichristian kings that will continue friends to her, when they see her burning, will find it in vain to attempt to help her, and will stand afar off lamenting her case, Revelation 17:16. Kimchi begins here to see that this section and paragraph does not belong to Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans, but to the times of the Messiah; and interprets it of the vengeance of God that shall come upon all the nations that come along with Gog against Jerusalem in the latter day; but he is mistaken: it designs what will come on mystical Babylon; so Abarbinel owns, that, from Habakkuk 2:12, what is said belongs to the Roman empire, which he calls the kingdom of Edom.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. is it not of the Lord of hosts—Jehovah, who has at His command all the hosts of heaven and earth, is the righteous author of Babylon's destruction. "Shall not God have His turn, when cruel rapacious men have triumphed so long, though He seem now to be still?" [Calvin].
people … labour in the … fire … weary themselves for … vanity—The Chaldeans labor at what is to be food for the fire, namely, their city and fortresses which shall be burnt. Jer 51:58 adopts the same phraseology to express the vanity of the Chaldean's labor on Babylon, as doomed to the flames.
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