|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:1-9 God was about to deprive Judah of every stay and support. The city and the land were to be made desolate, because their words and works had been rebellious against the Lord; even at his holy temple. If men do not stay themselves upon God, he will soon remove all other supports, and then they must sink. Christ is the Bread of life and the Water of life; if he be our Stay, we shall find that is a good part not to be taken away, Joh 6:27. Here note, 1. That the condition of sinners is exceedingly woful. 2. It is the soul that is damaged by sin. 3. Whatever evil befals sinners, be sure that they bring it on themselves.
Verse 4. - I will give children to be their princes; rather, youths than "children." The extreme youth of the later kings of Judah at the date of their accession is very remarkable. After Hezekiah, only one was as much as twenty-five years old when he came to the throne. Jehoahaz was twenty-three (2 Kings 23:31); Amon, twenty-two (2 Kings 21:19); Zedekiah twenty-one (2 Kings 24:18); Jehoiachin, eighteen (2 Kings 24:8); Manasseh, twelve (2 Kings 21:1); and Josiah eight (2 Kings 22:1). Thus this prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. And babes shall rule over them; literally, puerilities shall rule over them; i.e. the youths shall behave in a childish way.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I will give children to be their princes,.... Either in age, or in understanding, who are really so, or act like such; and in either sense, when this is the case, it is an unhappiness to a nation, Ecclesiastes 10:16,
and babes shall rule over them; which is the same as before. The Targum is,
"the weak shall rule over them;''
such who are weak in their intellectuals, or are of mean pusillanimous spirits, "effeminate", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; and so as "children" are opposed to the "ancient", that should be taken away, these are opposed to "men of might" and courage, who would now be wanting: or "men of illusions", as in the margin; such as were subtle as foxes, and should deceive them, and impose upon them, and were audacious and impudent, and would mock at them, and despise them. So Jarchi and Abarbinel; and according to this sense of the word the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "mockers shall rule over them".
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. children—in ability for governing; antithesis to the "ancient" (see Isa 3:12; Ec 10:16).
babes—in warlike might; antithesis to "the mighty" and "man of war."
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