Isaiah 5:20
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

New Living Translation
What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.

English Standard Version
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

New American Standard Bible
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

King James Bible
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

International Standard Version
"How terrible it will be for those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute what is bitter for what is sweet and what is sweet for what is bitter!"

NET Bible
Those who call evil good and good evil are as good as dead, who turn darkness into light and light into darkness, who turn bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
How horrible it will be for those who call evil good and good evil, who turn darkness into light and light into darkness, who turn what is bitter into something sweet and what is sweet into something bitter.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Woe unto those that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

King James 2000 Bible
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

American King James Version
Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

American Standard Version
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Douay-Rheims Bible
Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.

Darby Bible Translation
Woe unto them who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

English Revised Version
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Webster's Bible Translation
Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

World English Bible
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Young's Literal Translation
Woe to those saying to evil 'good,' And to good 'evil,' Putting darkness for light, and light for darkness, Putting bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

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.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 20. - Woe unto them that call evil good. This is the fourth woe. There are persons who gloss over evil deeds and evil habits by fair-sounding names, who call cowardice caution, and rashness courage, niggardliness thrift, and wasteful profusion generosity. The same men are apt also to call good evil; they brand prudence with the name of cunning, call meekness want of proper spirit, sincerity rudeness, and firmness obstinacy. This deadness to moral distinctions is the sign of deep moral corruption, and fully deserves to have a special "woe" pronounced against it. That put darkness for light. "Light" and "darkness" symbolize good and evil throughout Scripture (1 Samuel 2:9; 2 Samuel 22:29; Job 29:3; Psalm 112:4; Proverbs 2:13; Ecclesiastes 2:13; Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 6:22; John 1:19; Acts 26:18; Romans 13:12; 1 Corinthians 4:5, etc.). They are sometimes mere synonyms, as here; but sometimes they express rather the intellectual side of morality. Bitter for sweet. More symbolism, but of a rarer kind. Jeremiah calls wickedness "bitter" (Jeremiah 2:9; 4:18), and the psalmist calls the judgments of God" sweet" (Psalm 109:103). But the terms are not often used with any moral bearing.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil,.... That call evil actions good, and good actions evil; that excuse the one, and reproach the other; or that call evil men good, and good men evil; to which the Targum agrees. Some understand this of false prophets rejecting the true worship of God, and recommending false worship; others of wicked judges, pronouncing the causes of bad men good, and of good men evil; others of sensualists, that speak in praise of drunkenness, gluttony, and all carnal pleasures, and fleshly lusts, and treat with contempt fear, worship, and service of God. It may very well be applied to the Scribes and Pharisees in Christ's time, who preferred the evil traditions of their elders, both to the law of God, that is holy, just, and good, and to the Gospel, the good word of God, preached by John the Baptist, Christ and his apostles, and to the ordinances of the Gospel dispensation:

that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter; for calling good evil, and evil good, is all one as putting these things one for another; there being as great a difference between good and evil, as between light and darkness, sweet and bitter; and it suggests, as if the perversion of these things was not merely through ignorance and mistake, but purposely and wilfully against light and knowledge; so the Jews acted when they preferred the darkness of their rites and ceremonies, and human traditions, before the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ; which showed they loved darkness rather than light, John 3:19 and chose that which would be bitter to them in the end, than the sweet doctrines of the grace of God; the bitter root of error, rather than the words of Christ's mouth, which are sweeter than the honey, or the honeycomb. The Targum is,

"woe to them that say to the wicked who prosper in this world, ye are good; and say to the meek, ye are wicked: when light cometh to the righteous, shall it not be dark with the wicked? and sweet shall be the words of the law to them that do them; but bitterness (some read "rebellion") shall come to the wicked; and they shall know, that in the end sin is bitter to them that commit it.''

Abarbinel interprets this of the ten tribes preferring the worship at Dan and Bethel, before that at Jerusalem.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

20. Fourth Woe—against those who confound the distinctions of right and wrong (compare Ro 1:28), "reprobate," Greek, "undiscriminating: the moral perception darkened."

bitter … sweet—sin is bitter (Jer 2:19; 4:18; Ac 8:23; Heb 12:15); though it seem sweet for a time (Pr 9:17, 18). Religion is sweet (Ps 119:103).

Isaiah 5:20 Additional Commentaries
Context
Woes to the Wicked
19Who say, "Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it; And let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near And come to pass, that we may know it!" 20Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!…
Cross References
Matthew 6:22
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.

Matthew 6:23
But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Luke 11:34
Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.

Luke 11:35
See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.

Job 17:12
turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near.

Proverbs 17:15
Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent-- the LORD detests them both.

Isaiah 24:9
No longer do they drink wine with a song; the beer is bitter to its drinkers.

Isaiah 30:10
They say to the seers, "See no more visions!" and to the prophets, "Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions.

Amos 5:7
There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground.

Habakkuk 1:4
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

Malachi 2:17
You have wearied the LORD with your words. "How have we wearied him?" you ask. By saying, "All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them" or "Where is the God of justice?"
Treasury of Scripture

Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

them

Proverbs 17:15 He that justifies the wicked, and he that comdemns the just, even …

Malachi 2:17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, Wherein have …

Malachi 3:15 And now we call the proud happy; yes, they that work wickedness are …

Matthew 6:23 But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. …

Matthew 15:3-6 But he answered and said to them, Why do you also transgress the …

Matthew 23:16-23 Woe to you, you blind guides, which say, Whoever shall swear by the …

Luke 11:35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in you be not darkness.

Luke 16:15 And he said to them, You are they which justify yourselves before …

2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come…

2 Peter 2:1,18,19 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there …

call evil good. Heb. say concerning evil. It is good, etc.

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