|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:9-22 The false prophets of Samaria had deluded the Israelites into idolatries; yet the Lord considered the false prophets of Jerusalem as guilty of more horrible wickedness, by which the people were made bold in sin. These false teachers would be compelled to suffer the most bitter part of the Lord's indignation. They made themselves believe that there was no harm in sin, and practised accordingly; then they made others believe so. Those who are resolved to go on in evil ways, will justly be given up to believe strong delusions. But which of them had received any revelation of God, or understood any thing of his word? There was a time coming when they would reflect on their folly and unbelief with remorse. The teaching and example of the true prophets led men to repentance, faith, and righteousness. The false prophets led men to rest in forms and notions, and to be quiet in their sins. Let us take heed that we do not follow unrighteousness.
Verse 10. - The land is full of adulterers. The false prophets connive at flagrant immoralities, one of which is mentioned as a typical sin. As to the nature of the adultery, see note on Jeremiah 5:7. Because of swearing; rather, because of the curse; the curse, namely, with which God punishes the guilty earth (comp. Zechariah 5:3; Daniel 9:11; and especially Isaiah 24:6, where in the original there is a paronomasia very similar to that here). The land mourneth; a figurative expression, suggested partly by the assonance of the word for "curse." Drought is what is meant (comp. Jeremiah 12:4; Jeremiah 14:1, 2). The pleasant places of the wilderness; rather, the pastures of the prairie-land ("wilderness" suggests ideas very alien to the context). Their course; literally, their running (comp. Jeremiah 8:6). The subject is "the inhabitants of the land." Their force is not right; rather, their might (or, heroism) is untruth. They are "mighty men" only in telling untruths (comp. Jeremiah 9:3; Isaiah 5:22).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the land is full of adulterers,.... Of such as were guilty of corporeal adultery, and of spiritual adultery, which is idolatry. Now, though in this, and in the following verses, the prophet describes the men of his generation, both ecclesiastics and laics; yet also so as to have regard to the Jews in the times of Christ, to which this prophecy has respect; between whom there was a great resemblance; adulteries were so frequent in Christ's time, that the Jews left off the use of the bitter waters (n); and our Lord sometimes calls the generation in which he lived an adulterous one, Matthew 12:39;
for because of swearing the land mourneth; because of false swearing and cursing; because of the oaths and imprecations of men; or because of the curse of God, for the sins of men, the land was desert or desolate, as the Targum; it became barren and unfruitful, the land of Judea; just as the earth was cursed for the sin of man originally; though it seems rather to signify perjury or false swearing, which, and adultery, were the reigning vices of the age; see Matthew 5:33;
the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up; or the pastures of the wilderness, where cattle used to feed, were dried up for want of rain, and so were unfruitful, and produced no grass for the beasts of the field:
and yet their course is evil; the course of their ministry or prophesying was bad; and the course of their lives and conversations was one continued series of iniquity; the race they ran, both prophet and people, was a wicked one; they ran and made haste to commit sin; though a professing people, their conversation was according to "the course of this world", Ephesians 2:2; and not according to the rule of God's word:
and their force is not right; or, "is not so" (o); as it ought to be, or employed in the manner it should: the power and authority of the prophets over the people was not used, as it might have been, for the preserving of the people from sin; nor their courage and valour shown for truth, as it ought to have been; and they used their power to hurt and oppress, and not to relieve and help: so the Pharisees in Christ's time laid heavy burdens on others, but would not move them themselves; and, through a pretence of devotion, devoured widows' houses, Matthew 23:4. So some render the words here, "and their violence is not right" (p); their rapine and oppression were very unjust; so that, besides adultery and swearing, they are charged with violence in particular, and with a wicked course of life in general.
(n) Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 9. (o) "non sic", Montanus; "dissimilis", V. L. (p) "violentia eorum". So the margin of our Bible.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. adulterers—spiritual, that is, forsakers of God, Israel's true Husband (Isa 54:5) for idols, at the instigation of the false "prophets" (Jer 23:9, 15). Literal adultery and fornication, the usual concomitants of idolatry, are also meant.
swearing—Maurer, &c., translate, "Because of the curse (of God on it), the land mourneth" (De 27:15-26; 28:15-68; Isa 24:6). More than usual notoriety had been given to the curses of the law, by the finding and reading of it in Josiah's time (2Ki 22:11, &c.). But Ho 4:2, 3, favors English Version (compare Jer 12:4). A drought was sent by God on the pastures ("pleasant places," oases) in the desert, on account of the "profaneness" of the priests, prophets, and people (Jer 23:11).
course … evil—They (both prophets and people) rush into wickedness (Jer 23:21; Isa 59:7).
force … not right—Their powers are used not on the side of rectitude, but on that of falsehood.
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