|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.
Verses 8-24. - THE SIX WOES. After the general warning conveyed to Israel by the parable of the vineyard, six sins are particularized as those which have especially provoked God to give the warning. On each of these woe is denounced. Two have special punishments assigned to them (vers. 8-17); the remainder are joined in one general threat of retribution (vers. 18 - 24). Verse 8. - Woe unto them that join house to house. This is the first woe. It is pronounced on the greed which leads men to continually enlarge their estates, without regard to their neighbors' convenience. Nothing is said of any use of unfair means, much less of violence in dispossessing the former proprietors. What is denounced is the selfishness of vast accumulations of land in single bands, to the detriment of the rest of the community. The Jewish law was peculiarly inimical to this practice (Numbers 27:1-11; Numbers 33:54; 1 Kings 21:4); but perhaps it is not without reason that many writers of our own time object to it on general grounds. Till there be no place; literally, till want of place; i.e. till there is no room for others. A hyperbole, doubtless, but marking a real national inconvenience. That they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth; rather, that ye may dwell by yourselves in the midst of the land. The great landlords wished to isolate themselves; they disliked neighbors; they would fain "dwell by themselves," without neighbors to trouble them. Uzziah seems, by what is said of his possessions (2 Chronicles 26:10), to have been one of the greatest sinners in respect of the accumulation of land.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Woe unto them that join house to house,.... Or "O ye that join", &c.; for, as Aben Ezra observes, it signifies calling, as in Isaiah 55:1 though Jarchi takes it to be expressive of crying and groaning, on account of future punishments; and he observes, that as there are twenty two blessings pronounced in the book of Psalms, on those that keep the law, so there are twenty two woes pronounced by Isaiah upon the wicked:
that lay field to field; the sin of covetousness is exposed and condemned in these words; not that it is unlawful in itself for a man that has a house or field of his own to purchase another that is next unto it; but when he is insatiable, and not content with his houses and lands, but is always coveting more, this is his sin, and especially if he seeks to get them by fraud or force:
till there be no place; for others to dwell in and possess; and so the Targum,
"and say, until we possess every place;''
or "unto the end of the place" (x), city, or field; till they have got all the houses in the town or city, and all the pieces of ground in the field, in their own possession:
that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth, or land; that is, of Judea; wholly inhabit it themselves, and have the sole power and jurisdiction over it. It is in the Hebrew text (y) "that ye may be placed", &c.; the Targum is,
"and they think they shall dwell alone in the midst of the land.''
(x) "usque ad terminum loci", V. L. (y) "constituamini", Vatablus, Forerius, Montanus; "colloeemini", Calvin.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Isa 5:8-23. Six Distinct Woes against Crimes.
8. (Le 25:13; Mic 2:2). The jubilee restoration of possessions was intended as a guard against avarice.
till there be no place—left for any one else.
that they may be—rather, and ye be.
the earth—the land.
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