|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
59:1-8 If our prayers are not answered, and the salvation we wait for is not wrought for us, it is not because God is weary of hearing prayer, but because we are weary of praying. See here sin in true colours, exceedingly sinful; and see sin in its consequences, exceedingly hurtful, separating from God, and so separating us, not only from all good, but to all evil. Yet numbers feed, to their own destruction, on infidel and wicked systems. Nor can their skill or craft, in devising schemes, as the spider weaves its web, deliver or save them. No schemes of self-wrought salvation shall avail those who despise the Redeemer's robe of righteousness. Every man who is destitute of the Spirit of Christ, runs swiftly to evil of some sort; but those regardless of Divine truth and justice, are strangers to peace.
Verse 5. - They hatch cockatrice' eggs. (On the cockatrice, see the comment upon Isaiah 11:8.) The meaning here is that the people gave themselves to brooding on and hatching purposes which were as pernicious and destructive as the eggs of venomous serpents. And weave the spider's web; i.e. "their purposes were as flimsy and unsubstantial as the web of the spider." He that eateth, etc. If a man partake of their plans, he becomes morally as bad as they, and is smitten with spiritual death. If an attempt be made to "crush" and destroy their plans, the only result is the premature birth of a viper.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They hatch cockatrice eggs, and weave the spider's web,.... Invent false doctrines according to their own fancies, which may seem fair and plausible, but are poisonous and pernicious; as the "eggs of the cockatrice", which may look like, and may be taken for, the eggs of creatures fit to eat; and spin out of their brains a fine scheme of things, but which are as thin, and as useless, and unprofitable, as "the spider's web"; and serve only to ensnare and entangle the minds of men, and will not stand before the word of God which sweeps them away at once; particularly of this kind is the doctrine of justification by the works of men, which are like the spider's web, spun out of its own bowels; so these are from themselves, as the doctrine of them is a device of man, and is not of God:
he that eateth of their eggs dieth: as a man that eats of cockatrice eggs dies immediately, being rank poison; so he that approves of false doctrines, receives them, and feeds upon them, dies spiritually and eternally; these are damnable doctrines, which bring upon men swift destruction; they are poisonous, and eat as do a canker, and destroy the souls of men:
and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper; or "cockatrice"; so Kimchi and Ben Melech take it to be the same creature as before, which goes by different names; and the words seem to require this sense; however, it cannot be the creature we call the viper, since that is not oviparous, but viviparous, lays not eggs, but brings forth its young; though both Aristotle (w) and Pliny (x), at the same time they say it is viviparous, yet observe that it breeds eggs within itself, which are of one colour, and soft like fishes. The Targum renders it "flying serpents": the sense is, that if a man is cautious, and does not eat of the cockatrice eggs, but sets his foot on them, and crushes them, out comes the venomous creature, and he is in danger of being hurt by it; so a man that does not embrace false doctrines, and escapes eternal death by them, but tramples upon them, opposes them, and endeavours to crush and destroy them, yet he is exposed to and brings upon himself calumnies, reproach, and persecution.
(w) Hist. Animal. l. 5. c. 34. (x) Nat. Hist. I. 10. c. 62.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. cockatrice—probably the basilisk serpent, cerastes. Instead of crushing evil in the egg, they foster it.
spider's web—This refers not to the spider's web being made to entrap, but to its thinness, as contrasted with substantial "garments," as Isa 59:6 shows. Their works are vain and transitory (Job 8:14; Pr 11:18).
eateth … their eggs—he who partakes in their plans, or has anything to do with them, finds them pestiferous.
that which is crushed—The egg, when it is broken, breaketh out as a viper; their plans, however specious in their undeveloped form like the egg, when developed, are found pernicious. Though the viper is viviparous (from which "vi-per" is derived), yet during gestation, the young are included in eggs, which break at the birth [Bochart]; however, metaphors often combine things without representing everything to the life.
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