|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 12. - The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; or, the Syrians from the east, and the Philistines from the west. The Semitic races regarded the world as looking to the rising sun, and used for the east the preposition signifying "in front," for the west that signifying "behind." Syria seems to have been hostile to Samaria until the league was formed between Rezin and Pekah, and may have become hostile again after Pekah's death (2 Chronicles 28:23). We read of a Philistine invasion of Judah in Chronicles (2 Chronicles 28:18), but not of their attacking Israel. Still, it was as easy for them to attack the one as the other. They abutted on the territory of Israel towards the southwest, as Syria did towards the north-east. For all this his anger is not turned away; since Israel continued impenitent. It would have ceased had they repented and turned to God (see ver. 13). His hand is stretched out; not to save, but to smite.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind,.... Rezin, king of Syria, the confederate of the Israelites, being slain, his people joined the Assyrians against Israel; and they, with others mentioned, beset them on all sides, before and behind, east and west; and so the Targum, Septuagint, and other versions, render it, the Syrians on the east, or from the rising of the sun; and the Philistines on the west, or from the setting of the sun; for, as Kimchi observes, Syria lay east of the land of Israel, and Palestine on the West (b):
and they shall devour Israel with open mouth: greedily and presently; make, as it were, but one morsel of him:
for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still; that is, the anger of God, that was not turned away; he had not yet stirred up all his wrath, he had not done with them, he had still other judgments to bring upon them; and his hand continued to be stretched out to inflict them, seeing they were not brought to repentance by what was already done unto them; so the Targum,
"for all this they do not return from their sins, that he may turn away his anger from them, but still retain their sins; and yet his stroke will be to take vengeance on them.''
(b) So Noldius renders it, Ebr. Concord. Part. p. 10. No. 69.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. Syrians—Though now allies of Ephraim, after Rezin's death they shall join the Assyrians against Ephraim. "Together," in Isa 9:11, refers to this. Conquering nations often enlist in their armies the subject races (Isa 22:6; compare 2Ki 16:9; Jer 35:11), [Aben Ezra, Gesenius]. Horsley less probably takes "Syrians before," as the Syrians to the east, that is, not Rezin's subjects, but the Assyrians: "Aram" being the common name of Syrians and Assyrians.
behind—from the west: in marking the points of the compass, Orientalists face the east, which is before them: the west is behind. The right hand is the south: the left, the north.
devour—as a ravenous beast (Isa 1:20; Jer 10:25; 30:16; Nu 14:9).
For all this, &c.—The burden of each strophe.
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