|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-7 The earth is called upon, with all that are therein, to hear the prophet. God's holy temple will not protect false professors. Neither men of high degree, as the mountains, nor men of low degree, as the valleys, can secure themselves or the land from the judgments of God. If sin be found in God's people he will not spare them; and their sins are most provoking to him, for they are most reproaching. When we feel the smart of sin, it behoves us to seek what is the sin we smart for. Persons and places most exalted, are most exposed to spiritual diseases. The vices of leaders and rulers shall be surely and sorely punished. The punishment answers the sin. What they gave to idols, never shall prosper, nor do them any good. What is got by one lust, is wasted on another.
Verses 5-7. - § 2. Judgment is denounced on Israel for its sin. Verse 5. - The prophet shows the cause of this punishment. Transgression; better, apostasy, which the people's trangression really was. Jacob. Here the ten tribes and Judah - the whole of the covenant people. In the latter part of the verse the term includes only the ten tribes, called often Israel or Ephraim. All this. The manifestation of God's power and wrath described in vers. 3 and 4. The house of Israel. The ten tribes. Is it not Samaria? She is naught but sin. He names the capitals of the two kingdoms as the source and centre of the idolatry and wickedness which pervaded the whole country. Samaria was built by Omri, a king who "wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him;" and in it his son Ahab erected a temple to Baal (1 Kings 16:32), and it became the chief seat of idolatry in the land. What are the high places? The prophet seems to say that Jerusalem is no longer the Lord's sanctuary, but a collection of unauthorized or idolatrous shrines. These were buildings or altars erected in conspicuous spots, contrary to the enactments of the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 12:11-14), and used more or less for idolatrous worship. With a strange perversity, the Jews mixed the pure service of Jehovah with the rites of heathen deities. Even the best kings of Judah were unable wholly to suppress these local sanctuaries (see 2 Kings 12:3; 2 Kings 14:4, etc.). They were found even in Jerusalem itself (Jeremiah 32:35), especially in the time of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:4). The parallelism of this clause with the preceding being thought defective ("high places" being not parallel with "apostasy"), the Septuagint reads, ἡ ἁμαρτία, "the sin," followed by the Syriac and the Targum. One Hebrew manuscript confirms the reading; but it is probably unauthorized, and has been ignorantly introduced The prophet defines the sins of Samaria and Jerusalem. The sin of the former is apostasy; that of the latter, unauthorized worship. Instead of "what" in both places the Hebrew gives "who," implying that there is a personal cause, the two capitals being personified. Hezekiah's partial reformation had not taken place when this was uttered.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel,.... All this evil, all these calamities and judgments, signified by the above metaphorical phrases, these did not come by chance, nor without, reason; but were or would be inflicted, according to the righteous judgment of God, upon the people of Israel and Judah, for their manifold sins and transgressions, especially their idolatry: and should it be asked,
what is the transgression of Jacob? what notorious crime has he been guilty of? or what is the iniquity the two tribes are charged with, that is the cause of so much severity? the answer is,
is it not Samaria? the wickedness of Samaria, the calf of Samaria? as in Hosea 7:1; that is, the worship of the calf of Samaria; is not that idolatry the transgression of Jacob, or which the ten tribes have given into? it is; and a just reason for all this wrath to come upon them: or, "who is the transgression of Jacob?" (r) who is the spring and source of it; the cause, author, and encourager of it? are they not the kings that have reigned in Samaria from the times of Omri, with their nobles, princes, and great men, who, by their edicts, influence, and example, have encouraged the worship of the golden calves? they are the original root and motive of it, and to them it must be ascribed; they caused the people to sin: or, as the Targum,
"where have they of the house of Jacob sinned? is it not in Samaria?''
verily it is, and from thence, the metropolis of the nation, the sin has spread itself all over it:
and what are the high places of Judah? or, "who are they?" (s) who have been the makers of them? who have set them up, and encouraged idolatrous worship at them?
are they not Jerusalem? are they not the king, the princes, and priests, that dwell at Jerusalem? certainly they are; such as Ahaz, and others, in whose times this prophet lived; see 2 Kings 16:4; or, as the Targum,
"where did they of the house of Judah commit sin? was it not in Jerusalem?''
truly it was, and even in the temple; here Ahaz built an altar like that at Damascus, and sacrificed on it, and spoiled the temple, and several of the vessels in it, 2 Kings 16:10.
(r) "quis est praevaricatio Jacobi?" De Dieu; so Pagninus, Burkius; "quis defectio Jacobi?" Cocceius; "quis scelus Jacobi?" Drusius. (s) "quis est excelsa Judae?" Montanus, Drusius, De Dieu; "quis cesla Judae?" Cocceius; "quis fuit causa excelsorum Jehudae?" Burkius; so Kimchi.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. For the transgression of Jacob is all this—All these terrors attending Jehovah's coming are caused by the sins of Jacob or Israel, that is, the whole people.
What is the transgression of Jacob?—Taking up the question often in the mouths of the people when reproved, "What is our transgression?" (compare Mal 1:6, 7), He answers, Is it not Samaria? Is not that city (the seat of the calf-worship) the cause of Jacob's apostasy (1Ki 14:16; 15:26, 34; 16:13, 19, 25, 30)?
and what are the high places of Judah?—What city is the cause of the idolatries on the high places of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem (compare 2Ki 18:4)?
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