|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.
Verses 9-11. - § 9. The second woe: for their avarice, violence, and cunning. Verse 9. - That coveteth an evil covetousness to his house; better, gaineth evil gains for his house. The "house" is the royal family or dynasty, as in ver. 10; and the Chaldean is denounced for thinking to secure its stability and permanence by amassing godless gains. That he may set his nest on high. This is a figurative expression, denoting security as well as pride and self-confidence (comp. Numbers 24:21; Job 39:27, etc.; Jeremiah 49:16; Obadiah 1:4), and denotes the various means which the Chaldeans employed to establish and secure their power (comp. Isaiah 14:14). Some see in the words an allusion to the formidable fortifications raised by Nebuchadnezzar for the protection of Babylon, and the wonderful palace erected by him as a royal residence (see Rawlinson, 'Ant. Men.,' 3:340, etc., edit. 1865). It is certain that Nebuchadnezzar and other monarchs, after successful expeditions, turned their attention to building and enriching towns, temples, and palaces (see Josephus, 'Cont. Ap.,' 1:19, 7, etc.). From the power of evil; from the hand of evil; i.e. from all calamity.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house,.... The bishops of Rome, being enriched by the donations of Constantine, were not satisfied, but coveted more; these are the greedy dogs Isaiah speaks of, that could never have enough, Isaiah 56:11 but were still seeking and gaping after more for themselves and families, and for their own house or church; which, from the time of their apostasy, became their own house, in distinction from, and in opposition to, the house or true church of God; and of those covetous bishops, or Rome Papal, are these and the following words to Habakkuk 2:9 to be understood:
that he may set his nest on high: in allusion to birds, especially the eagle, which builds its nest in high places, that it may be secure from any that would otherwise disturb it, or take it away: so these covetous and ambitious bishops, getting great wealth and riches, and large dominions into their hands, secular power and authority, as well as ecclesiastical, set themselves up, and advanced their see and seat, not only above all other bishops, but even above the kings and princes of the earth, above all that are called gods, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and by such means endeavoured to gain their point, the main thing they had in view:
that he may be delivered from the power of evil; that they might be safe and secure against all worldly power, and be out of the jurisdiction of the princes of the earth, and in no danger of being dispossessed or crushed by them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. coveteth an evil covetousness—that is, a covetousness so surpassingly evil as to be fatal to himself.
to his house—greedily seizing enormous wealth, not merely for himself, but for his family, to which it is destined to be fatal. The very same "evil covetousness" that was the cause of Jehoiakim's being given up to the Chaldean oppressor (Jer 22:13) shall be the cause of the Chaldean's own destruction.
set his nest on high—(Nu 24:21; Jer 49:16; Ob 4). The image is from an eagle (Job 39:27). The royal citadel is meant. The Chaldean built high towers, like the Babel founders, to "be delivered from the power of evil" (Ge 11:4).
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