|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:8-21 Those are ripening apace for ruin, whose hearts are unhumbled under humbling providences. For that which God designs, in smiting us, is, to turn us to himself; and if this point be not gained by lesser judgments, greater may be expected. The leaders of the people misled them. We have reason to be afraid of those that speak well of us, when we do ill. Wickedness was universal, all were infected with it. They shall be in trouble, and see no way out; and when men's ways displease the Lord, he makes even their friends to be at war with them. God would take away those they thought to have help from. Their rulers were the head. Their false prophets were the tail and the rush, the most despicable. In these civil contests, men preyed on near relations who were as their own flesh. The people turn not to Him who smites them, therefore he continues to smite: for when God judges, he will overcome; and the proudest, stoutest sinner shall either bend or break.
Verse 10. - The bricks are fallen down, etc.; i.e. we have suffered a moderate damage, but we will more than make up for it; all our losses we will replace with something better. Bricks were the ordinary material for the poorer class of houses in Palestine; stone was reserved for the dwellings of the rich and great (Amos 5:11). Sycamore wood was the commonest sort of timber, cedar the scarcest and most precious, having to be imported from Phoenicia (1 Kings 5:6; 2 Chronicles 2:3; Ezra 3:7). (On the contrast between cedar and sycamore wood, comp. 2 Chronicles 1:15.) Cut down. The Israelites probably alluded to damage done by Tiglath-Pileser in his first invasion. The Assyrians were in the habit of actually cutting down trees in foreign countries, in order to injure and weaken them; but the present passage is, perhaps, rather intended to be figurative.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The bricks are fallen down,.... Houses made of bricks, which were without the cities besieged and destroyed by the Assyrians; of which the haughty Israelites made no account, looking upon such a desolation as little, or no loss at all:
but we will build with hewn stone, so that the houses will be better and stronger, more beautiful, and more durable:
the sycamores are cut down; which grew in the fields, and outer parts of the cities, and were but a mean sort of wood, and which the Assyrians cut down to serve several purposes in their siege; of this sort of trees; see Gill on Luke 19:4,
but we will change them into cedars; that is, will plant cedars in place of them; trees tall and large, very delightful to look at, of great worth and usefulness, and very durable; though this may regard not so much the planting of them as the use of them in building, and the sense be agreeable to the former clause; that as, instead of brick, they would build houses with hewn stone; so, instead of sycamore wood, which was not so substantial and durable, and fit for building, they would make use of cedar, which was both beautiful and lasting; so the Septuagint,
"the bricks are fallen, let us hew stones, and cut down sycamores and cedars, and build for ourselves a tower;''
and so the Arabic version; so that, upon the whole, they flattered themselves they should be gainers, and not losers, by the Assyrian invasion; thus deriding it, and despising the prophecy concerning it. Jarchi interprets the bricks and sycamores of the kings that went before, as Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, in whose days they were lessened, and were like a building of brick, broken and falling; but their present king, Pekah, the son of Remaliah, was strong, like a building of hewn stone, and so cedars were better for building than sycamores; and to this sense agrees the Targum,
"the heads (or princes) are carried captive, but we will appoint better in their room; goods are spoiled, but what are more beautiful than them we will purchase.''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. bricks—in the East generally sun-dried, and therefore soon dissolved by rain. Granting, say the Ephraimites to the prophet's threat, that our affairs are in a ruinous state, we will restore them to more than their former magnificence. Self-confident unwillingness to see the judgments of God (Isa 26:11).
hewn stones—(1Ki 5:17).
sycamores—growing abundantly on the low lands of Judea, and though useful for building on account of their antiseptic property (which induced the Egyptians to use them for the cases of their mummies), not very valuable. The cedar, on the other hand, was odorous, free from knots, durable, and precious (1Ki 10:27). "We will replace cottages with palaces."
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