|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
51:17-23 God calls upon his people to mind the things that belong to their everlasting peace. Jerusalem had provoked God, and was made to taste the bitter fruits. Those who should have been her comforters, were their own tormentors. They have no patience by which to keep possesion of their own souls, nor any confidence in God's promise, by which to keep possession of its comfort. Thou art drunken, not as formerly, with the intoxicating cup of Babylon's idolatries, but with the cup of affliction. Know, then, the cause of God's people may for a time seem as lost, but God will protect it, by convincing the conscience, or confounding the projects, of those that strive against it. The oppressors required souls to be subjected to them, that every man should believe and worship as they would have them. But all they could gain by violence was, that people were brought to outward hypocritical conformity, for consciences cannot be forced.
Verse 20. - Thy sons have fainted, they lie; rather, thy sons fainted; they lay. The prophet describes the siege and capture of Jerusalem as past, because his standpoint is the time of the Captivity. He depicts the inhabitants of Jerusalem as "faint" through famine, and so weak that they lie prostrate about the streets. As a wild bull in a net; rather, like a gazelle in a net - panting, exhausted, incapable of the hast resistance. They are full of the fury of the Lord; i.e. the fury of the Lord has been fully poured out upon them.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thy sons have fainted,.... Through want of food, or at the desolation made, and have no spirit in them to appear in the interest of true religion:
they lie at the head of all the streets; emaciated by famine, and not able to walk, but drop down in the streets, and there lie panting and pining away; or slain by the enemy; or with the famine, and the sword, as Aben Ezra, and none to bury them; so the dead bodies of the witnesses shall lie in the street of the great city unburied, Revelation 11:8.
as a wild bull in a net; that is slain, being taken; or, if alive, however it flings about and struggles, cannot extricate itself: so it may denote such that survive the calamity, yet held under the power of the enemy; and though inwardly fretting, and very impatient, cannot help themselves, no more than such a creature taken in a toil or net; which Aben Ezra takes to be a fowl, to which a net best agrees; and the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "as the oryx snared"; which Drusius says is the name of a bird; though it is used for a wild goat. So Aristotle (w) makes mention of it as of the goat kind, and says it has two hoofs, or is cloven footed, and has one horn; and Bochart (x) takes it to be the same with the unicorn of the Scriptures, or the "monoceros"; and, according to some writers (y), it is a very fierce and bold creature, and not easily taken; and therefore it is no wonder, when it is in the net, that it strives, though in vain, and till it is weary, to get out of it, and yet is obliged to lie there. But Kimchi says the word here used signifies a wild ox or bull (z), as we render it: in Hebrew it is called "tho" or "thoa", and very probably is the same with the "thoos" mentioned by Aristotle (a) and Pliny (b), and is rendered a wild ox in Deuteronomy 14:5, where it is reckoned among sheep, goats, and deer. It is strange that the Septuagint should render it, "as beet half boiled"; or flaccid and withering, as the Syriac and Arabic versions, taking it for an herb: and as much out of the way is the Targum, which renders it,
"as broken bottles:''
they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God; that is, Jerusalem's sons, the members of the church of God, professors of religion, now full of calamities, which may seem to flow from the wrath of God, and be rebukes in fury, when they are only in love, Revelation 3:19 and from whence they shall be delivered, and their enemies punished, as follows.
(w) Hist. Animal. l. 2. c. 1.((x) Hierozoic. l. 3. c. 27, 28. (y) Oppian. de Cyneget. l. 2. apud Gataker. & Sanctium in loc. "saevus oryx", Martial. l. 13. Epigr. 95. (z) And so it is explained in Gloss. in T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 117. 1.((a) Hist. Animal. l. 2. c. 17. (b) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 34.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. head of all … streets—(La 2:19; 4:1).
wild bull—rather, "oryx" [Jerome], or gazelle [Gesenius], or wild goat [Bochart]; commonly in the East taken in a net, of a wide sweep, into which the beasts were hunted together. The streets of cities in the East often have gates, which are closed at night; a person wishing to escape would be stopped by them and caught, as a wild animal in a net.
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