|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:9-12 Zion's walls owe no thanks to those that build them up with blood and iniquity. The sin of man works not the righteousness of God. Even when men do that which in itself is good, but do it for filthy lucre, it becomes abomination both to God and man. Faith rests in the Lord as the soul's foundation: presumption only leans upon the Lord as a prop, and would use him to serve a turn. If men's having the Lord among them will not keep them from doing evil, it never can secure them from suffering evil for so doing. See the doom of wicked Jacob; Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field. This was exactly fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and is so at this day. If sacred places are polluted by sin, they will be wasted and ruined by the judgments of God.
Verse 11. - Judge for reward. The very judges take bribes (Isaiah 1:23; Ezekiel 22:12), which the Law so stringently forbade (see Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19, etc.). The priests thereof teach for hire. The priests were bound to teach and explain the Law, and decide questions of religion and ritual (Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 17:11; Deuteronomy 33:10; comp. Haggai 2:11, etc.). This they ought to have done gratuitously, but they corruptly made it a source of gain. Divine for money. The accusation in ver. 5 is repeated. These false prophets sold their oracles, pretending to have a suitable revelation when paid for it (Ezekiel 22:28; Zephaniah 3:3, 4). Yet will they lean upon the Lord. These priests and prophets were worshippers of Jehovah and trusted in him, as though he could not fosake his people. They had faith without love, divorced religion from morality, made a certain outward conformity serve for righteousness and truth. Is not the Lord among us? (Exodus 17:7). As though the very fact that they had in their midst the temple, wherein Jehovah's presence was assured, would protect them from all harm, whatever their conduct might he. Such presumptuous confidence is reproved by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:4, 8, etc.; comp. Amos 5:14, and note there).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The heads thereof judge for reward,.... That is, the heads or principal men of Zion and Jerusalem; the kings, or sanhedrim, according to Kimchi; but as this prophecy was delivered in the times of Hezekiah, Jeremiah 26:18, be who was so good a king must be excepted from this charge; perhaps it was delivered in the beginning of his reign, before a reformation was made, and might be the occasion of it: the former reign was a very wicked one; and very likely the public officers, judges, and civil magistrates, were as yet continued, and who went on in the same course of injustice, giving the cause not on the right side, but to them that gave them most money, or bribed highest, contrary to the law of God, Deuteronomy 16:19;
and the priests thereof teach for hire; for though they had a sufficient and honourable maintenance provided by the law of God for them, yet, not content with this, they took a price of the people for teaching them; and that not such things as were agreeable to the will of God declared in his word, which they ought to have done freely; but such doctrines as were most pleasing to carnal men, and indulged them in their lusts, presumption, and vain confidence:
and the prophets thereof divine for money; tell men what should befall them; what good things they should be possessed of; what plenty and prosperity they should enjoy; and this they did according to the sum of money given them, more or less. This must be understood of the false prophets:
yet will they lean upon the Lord; on his are, providence, and protection, as if they were filled to these things, and might securely rely and depend upon them; though by their sins and transgressions they had forfeited all the bent fits and privileges thereof. To lean by faith upon the Lord; or in his Word, as the Targum; and to trust in his promises, in his power, and faithfulness, and goodness; when this springs from an honest and upright heart, and is attended with the fruits of righteousness and holiness, it is well pleasing to God, and highly regarded by him, and such may, depend upon his blessing and protection; but to talk of faith in him, and reliance upon him, when the whole course of the conversation is wicked, this is abominable in the sight of God, and displeasing to him:
and say, is not the Lord among us? trusting to this, that the temple of the Lord was among them, and that the temple of God were they; that the most holy place was there, where were the symbols of the divine Presence, the ark, cherubim, and mercy seat; and so concluding from hence their safety and security; putting their confidence in outward places and things, in external worship, sacrifices, rites, and ceremonies, when they neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice, truth, and mercy: and so
none evil can come upon us: as pestilence, famine, sword, and captivity, the prophets of the Lord had threatened them with.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. heads thereof—the princes of Jerusalem.
judge for reward—take bribes as judges (Mic 7:3).
priests teach for hire—It was their duty to teach the law and to decide controversies gratuitously (Le 10:11; De 17:11; Mal 2:7; compare Jer 6:13; Jude 11).
prophets … divine—that is, false prophets.
Is not the Lord among us?—namely in the temple (Isa 48:2; Jer 7:4, 8-11).
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