Isaiah 10:2
To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!
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10:1-4 These verses are to be joined with the foregoing chapter. Woe to the superior powers that devise and decree unrighteous decrees! And woe to the inferior officers that draw them up, and enter them on record! But what will sinners do? Whither will they flee?To turn aside - Their sentences have the effect, and are designed to have, to pervert justice, and to oppress the poor, or to deprive them of their rights and just claims; compare Isaiah 29:21; Proverbs 27:5.

The needy - daliym - דלים dalı̂ym. Those of humble rank and circumstances; who have no powerful friends and defenders. "From judgment." From obtaining justice.

And to take away - To take away by violence and oppression. The word גזל gāzal, is commonly applied to robbery, and to oppression; to the taking away of spoils in battle, etc.

That widows may be their prey - That they may rob widows, or obtain their property. This crime has always been one particularly offensive in the sight of God; see the note at Isaiah 1:23. The widow and the orphan are without protectors. Judges, by their office, are particularly bound to preserve their rights; and it, therefore, evinces special iniquity when they who should be their protectors become, in fact, their oppressors, and do injustice to them without the possibility of redress. Yet this was the character of the Jewish judges; and for this the vengeance of heaven was about to come upon the land.

2. To turn aside, &c.—The effect of their conduct is to pervert the cause of the needy [Horsley]. In English Version "from judgment" means "from obtaining justice."

take away the right—"make plunder of the right" (rightful claim) [Horsley].

From judgment; or, from their right, as it is in the next clause; or, from obtaining a just sentence, because they either denied or delayed to hear their causes, or gave a wrong sentence.

From the poor, whom I have in a special manner committed to your care.

Of my people; of Israelites. who profess themselves to be my people, and whom I did take into covenant with myself; and therefore this is an injury not only to them, but to me also.

To turn aside the needy from judgment,.... Such laws being made as discouraged them from any application for justice; and, when they did, were harassed with such long, vexatious, and expensive suits, as obliged them to desist, and the cause being generally given against them, and for the rich:

and to take away the right from the poor of my people; for not to do justice to the poor is the same as to rob and plunder them, and take away by force what of right belongs to them; wherefore it follows:

that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless; who have none to protect and defend them, and whose protectors judges ought to be, in imitation of God, whom civil magistrates represent, who is the Judge of the widows and the fatherless; and therefore this is observed as an aggravation of their sin, which was very great indeed: it is very wicked in a judge to pervert the judgment of the poor and needy, the widow and the fatherless, contrary to laws that are made by God and men; but to make and prescribe wicked and unrighteous laws, that wickedness may be framed, and mischief committed by a law, that the poor and the needy, the widows and fatherless, may be injured under colour and pretence of law and justice, is the height of injustice. See Psalm 94:20.

To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!
2. The effect and real purpose of this legislative activity.

To turn aside the needy from judgment] See on ch. Isaiah 1:23.

my people] as Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 3:15.

Verse 2. - The poor... the widow... the fatherless. These were the classes who were the chief sufferers by the perversion of justice (comp. Isaiah 1:17, 23). They were exactly the classes for whom God had most compassion, and whom he had commended in the Law to the tender care of his people (see note on Isaiah 9:17). Isaiah 10:2Strophe 4. "Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers who prepare trouble to force away the needy from demanding justice, and to rob the suffering of my people of their rightful claims, that widows may become their prey, and they plunder orphans! And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the storm that cometh from afar? To whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye deposit your glory? There is nothing left but to bow down under prisoners, and they fall under the slain. With all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still." This last strophe is directed against the unjust authorities and judges. The woe pronounced upon them is, as we have already frequently seen, Isaiah's Ceterum censeo. Châkak is their decisive decree (not, however, in a denominative sense, but in the primary sense of hewing in, recording in official documents, Isaiah 30:8; Job 19:23); and Cittēb (piel only occurring here, and a perfect, according to Gesenius, 126, 3) their official signing and writing. Their decrees are Chikekē 'aven (an open plural, as in Judges 5:15, for Chukkē, after the analogy of גללי, עממי, with an absolute Chăkâkim underlying it: Ewald, 186-7), inasmuch as their contents were worthlessness, i.e., the direct opposite of morality; and what they wrote out was ‛âmâl, trouble, i.e., an unjust oppression of the people (compare πόνος and πονηρός).

(Note: The current accentuation, ומכתבים mercha, עמל tiphchah, is wrong. The true accentuation would be the former with tiphchah (and metheg), the latter with mercha; for ‛âmâl cittēbu is an attributive (an elliptical relative) clause. According to its etymon, ‛âmâl seems to stand by the side of μῶλος, moles, molestus (see Pott in Kuhn's Zeitschrift, ix. 202); but within the Semitic itself it stands by the side of אמל, to fade, marcescere, which coincides with the Sanscrit root mlâ and its cognates (see Leo Meyer, Vergleichende Grammatik, i. 353), so that ‛âmâl is, strictly speaking, to wear out or tire out (vulg. to worry).)

Poor persons who wanted to commence legal proceedings were not even allowed to do so, and possessions to which widows and orphans had a well-founded claim were a welcome booty to them (for the diversion into the finite verb, see Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 8:11; Isaiah 49:5; Isaiah 58:5). For all this they could not escape the judgment of God. This is announced to them in Isaiah 10:3, in the form of three distinct questions (commencing with ūmâh, quid igitur). The noun pekuddah in the first question always signifies simply a visitation of punishment; sho'âh is a confused, dull, desolate rumbling, hence confusion (turba), desolation: here it is described as "coming from afar," because a distant nation (Asshur) was the instrument of God's wrath. Second question: "Upon whom will ye throw yourselves in your search for help then" (nūs ‛al, a constr. praegnans, only met with here)? Third question: "Where, i.e., in whose hand, will ye deposit your wealth in money and possessions" (câbōd, what is weighty in value and imposing in appearance); ‛âzab with b'yad (Genesis 39:6), or with Lamed (Job 39:14), to leave anything with a person as property in trust. No one would relieve them of their wealth, and hold it as a deposit; it was irrecoverably lost. To this negative answer there is appended the following bilti, which, when used as a preposition after a previous negation, signifies praeter; when used as a conjunction, nisi (bilti 'im, Judges 7:14); and where it governs the whole sentence, as in this case, nisi quod (cf., Numbers 11:6; Daniel 11:18). In the present instance, where the previous negation is to be supplied in thought, it has the force of nil reliquum est nisi quod (there is nothing left but). The singular verb (câra‛) is used contemptuously, embracing all the high persons as one condensed mass; and tachath does not mean aeque ac or loco (like, or in the place of), as Ewald (217, k) maintains, but is used in the primary and local sense of infra (below). Some crouch down to find room at the feet of the prisoners, who are crowded closely together in the prison; or if we suppose the prophet to have a scene of transportation in his mind, they sink down under the feet of the other prisoners, in their inability to bear such hardships, whilst the rest fall in war; and as the slaughter is of long duration, not only become corpses themselves, but are covered with corpses of the slain (cf., Isaiah 14:19). And even with this the wrath of God is not satisfied. The prophet, however, does not follow out the terrible gradation any further. Moreover, the captivity, to which this fourth strophe points, actually formed the conclusion of a distinct period.

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