Isaiah 24:10
The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in.
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(10) The city of confusion.—Better, the city of chaos, the tohu of Genesis 1:2, “without form and void.” The world should be cast back out of its cosmos into its primeval chaos. The word is a favourite one with Isaiah (Isaiah 34:11; Isaiah 59:4, and nine other passages).

Every house is shut upi.e., to complete the picture, not because its gates are barred, but because its own ruins block up the entrance.

Isaiah 24:10-12. The city — Jerusalem, and other cities, for the word may be here taken collectively; of confusion — Hebrew, תהו, which signifies vanity, emptiness, desolation, or confusion. And the city may be thus called, either, 1st, In regard of the judgments of God coming upon it, as if he had termed it a city devoted to desolation and destruction: or, 2d, For its sin, a city of confusion and disorder; breaking all the laws and orders which God had established among them; or a city walking in and after vanity, worshipping vain idols, and pursuing vain things. And this may seem the most proper and suitable, that the sin of the city should be pointed out in this word, as the punishment is expressed in the next; is broken down — Its walls, palaces, and temple battered down and demolished; every house is shut up — Either for fear of the enemy, who have entered the city, or because the inhabitants are either fled or dead, or gone into captivity. This seems to be only applicable to the destruction of the city by the Chaldeans, or by the Romans. There is a crying for wine — For the want or loss of their wine; or for the spoiling of the vintage, whereby they were deprived of the means both of their profit and pleasure. In the city is desolation — In Jerusalem itself, that had been so much frequented, there shall be left nothing but desolation; grass shall grow in the streets. The gate is smitten with destruction — The gates of the city are totally ruined, so that the enemy may enter when and where they please. Or, all that used to pass and repass through the gates are smitten, and all the strength of the city is destroyed. How soon can God make a city of order, a city of confusion; and then it will soon be a city of desolation!24:1-12 All whose treasures and happiness are laid up on earth, will soon be brought to want and misery. It is good to apply to ourselves what the Scripture says of the vanity and vexation of spirit which attend all things here below. Sin has turned the earth upside down; the earth is become quite different to man, from what it was when God first made it to be his habitation. It is, at the best, like a flower, which withers in the hands of those that please themselves with it, and lay it in their bosoms. The world we live in is a world of disappointment, a vale of tears; the children of men in it are but of few days, and full of trouble, See the power of God's curse, how it makes all empty, and lays waste all ranks and conditions. Sin brings these calamities upon the earth; it is polluted by the sins of men, therefore it is made desolate by God's judgments. Carnal joy will soon be at end, and the end of it is heaviness. God has many ways to imbitter wine and strong drink to those who love them; distemper of body, anguish of mind, and the ruin of the estate, will make strong drink bitter, and the delights of sense tasteless. Let men learn to mourn for sin, and rejoice in God; then no man, no event, can take their joy from them.The city of confusion - That Jerusalem is here intended there can be no doubt. The name 'city of confusion.' is probably given to it by anticipation of what it would be; that is, as it appeared in prophetic vision to Isaiah (see the note at Isaiah 1:1). He gave to it a name that would describe its state when these calamities should have come upon it. The word rendered 'confusion' (תהו tôhû) does not denote disorder or anarchy, but is a word expressive of emptiness, vanity, destitution of form, waste. It occurs Genesis 1:2 : 'And the earth was without form.' In Job 26:7, it is rendered 'the empty place;' in 1 Samuel 12:21; Isaiah 45:18-19, 'in vain;' and usually 'emptiness,' 'vanity', 'confusion' (see Isaiah 24:10; Isaiah 40:17; Isaiah 41:29). In Job 12:24; Psalm 107:40, it denotes a wilderness. Here it means that the city would be desolate, empty, and depopulated.

Is broken down - Its walls and dwellings are in ruins.

Every house is shut up - That is, either because every man, fearful of danger, would fasten his doors so that enemies could not enter; or more probably, the entrance to every house would be so obstructed by ruins as to render it impossible to enter it.

10. city of confusion—rather, "desolation." What Jerusalem would be; by anticipation it is called so. Horsley translates, "The city is broken down; it is a ruin."

shut up—through fear; or rather, "choked up by ruins."

The city; Jerusalem, and other cities; for the singular word may be here taken collectively.

Of confusion; or, of vanity, or emptiness, or desolation; for this Hebrew word signifies all these things. And the city may be thus called, either,

1. In regard of the judgments of God coming upon it, as if he had said, a city devoted to desolation or destruction, to be emptied of its goods and people; or,

2. For its sin, a city of confusion or disorder, breaking all the laws and orders which God had established among them; or a city that walketh with or after vanity, as the Scripture speaks, Job 31:5 Jeremiah 2:5, that loveth and speaketh vanity, as they did, Psalm 4:2 12:2. And this may seem most convenient, that the sin of the city should be noted in this word, as the punishment is expressed in the next.

Every house is shut up; either for fear of the enemy who have entered the city; or rather, because the inhabitants are either fled, or dead, or gone into captivity, and so there are none to go into it, or come out of it. The city of confusion is broken down,.... Or "of vanity", as the Vulgate Latin version; or of "emptiness" or "desolation"; the word is "tohu", used in Genesis 1:2 this is to be understood not of Bethel, where one of Jeroboam's calves was, called Bethaven, or "the house of vanity"; nor Samaria, the chief city of the ten tribes; nor Jerusalem; but mystical Babylon, whose name signifies "confusion"; even the city of Rome, in which there is nothing but disorder and irregularity, no truth, justice, or religion; a city of vanity, full of superstition and idolatry, and devoted to ruin and desolation; and will be broke to pieces by the judgments of God, which will come upon it in one hour, Revelation 18:8,

every house is shut up, that no man may come in: or, "from coming in"; not for fear of the enemy, and to keep him out; but because there are no inhabitants in them, being all destroyed by one means or another, by fire or sword, or famine or pestilence, so that there is none to go in or out.

The city of {f} confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may enter.

(f) Which as it was without order so now should it be brought to desolation and confusion: and this was not only meant of Jerusalem, but of all the other wicked cities.

10. The city of confusion] (or of chaos, Genesis 1:2) need not mean “the city destined to become a chaos,” still less “the city of idolatry,” which of course would be epithets inapplicable to Jerusalem. It may simply be equivalent to “the wasted city.”

every house … come in] (cf. ch. Isaiah 23:1) i.e. the surviving inhabitants have barred their doors, suspicious of the intrusion of unbidden guests.

10–12. Even the “city,” usually the scene of busy and joyous life, shares in the universal sadness. It is difficult to say whether a particular city is meant, or whether the word is used collectively for cities in general. The fulness of the picture gives the impression that the writer has a particular city before his mind, although it stands as a type of many others throughout the world. If this be so, it is most natural to refer the description to Jerusalem, where the prophecy seems to have been written.Verse 10. - The city of confusion is broken down. No special city seems to be intended. "Est urbis nomen collective capiendum" (Rosenmüller). Chaos (tohu) reigns in the cities, where there is no civic life, no government, no order, nothing but confusion. Every house is shut up; bolted and barred against intruders. There is no confidence, no friendly intercourse, no visiting. That this is the case is evident from Isaiah 24:4-9, where the accursed state into which the earth is brought is more fully described, and the cause thereof is given. "Smitten down, withered up is the earth; pined away, wasted away is the world; pined away have they, the foremost of the people of the earth. And the earth has become wicked among its inhabitants; for they transgressed revelations, set at nought the ordinance, broke the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they who dwelt in it make expiation: therefore are the inhabitants of the earth withered up, and there are very few mortals left. New wine mourneth, vine is parched, all the merry-hearted groan. The joyous playing of tabrets is silent; the noise of them that rejoice hath ceased; the joyous playing of the guitar is silent. They drink no wine with a song; meth tastes bitter to them that drink it." "The world" (tēbēl) is used here in Isaiah 24:4, as in Isaiah 26:9 (always in the form of a proper name, and without the article), as a parallel to "the earth" (hâ'âretz), with which it alternates throughout this cycle of prophecies. It is used poetically to signify the globe, and that without limitation (even in Isaiah 13:11 and Isaiah 18:3); and therefore "the earth" is also to be understood here in its most comprehensive sense (in a different sense, therefore, from Isaiah 33:9, which contains the same play upon sounds). The earth is sunk in mourning, and has become like a faded plant, withered up with heat; the high ones of the people of the earth (merōm; abstr. pro concr., like câbōd in Isaiah 5:13; Isaiah 22:24) are included (עם is used, as in Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 40:7, to signify humanity, i.e., man generally). אמללוּ (for the form, see Comm. on Job, at Job 18:16-19) stands in half pause, which throws the subjective notion that follows into greater prominence. It is the punishment of the inhabitants of the earth, which the earth has to share, because it has shared in the wickedness of those who live upon it: chânaph (not related to tânaph) signifies to be degenerate, to have decided for what is evil (Isaiah 9:16), to be wicked; and in this intransitive sense it is applied to the land, which is said to be affected with the guilt of wicked, reckless conduct, more especially of blood-guiltiness (Psalm 106:38; Numbers 35:33; compare the transitive use in Jeremiah 3:9). The wicked conduct of men, which has caused the earth also to become chanēphâh, is described in three short, rapid, involuntarily excited sentences (compare Isaiah 15:6; Isaiah 16:4; Isaiah 29:20; Isaiah 33:8; also Isaiah 24:5; Isaiah 1:4, Isaiah 1:6, Isaiah 1:8; out of the book of Isaiah, however, we only meet with this in Joel 1:10, and possibly Joshua 7:11). Understanding "the earth" as we do in a general sense, "the law" cannot signify merely the positive law of Israel. The Gentile world had also a torâh or divine teaching within, which contained an abundance of divine directions (tōrōth). They also had a law written in their hearts; and it was with the whole human race that God concluded a covenant in the person of Noah, at a time when the nations had none of them come into existence at all. This is the explanation given by even Jewish commentators; nevertheless, we must not forget that Israel was included among the transgressors, and the choice of expression was determined by this. With the expression "therefore" the prophecy moves on from sin to punishment, just as in Isaiah 5:25 (cf., Isaiah 5:24). אלה is the curse of God denounced against the transgressors of His law (Daniel 9:11; compare Jeremiah 23:10, which is founded upon this, and from which אבלה has been introduced into this passage in some codices and editions). The curse of God devours, for it is fire, and that from within outwards (see Isaiah 1:31; Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 9:18; Isaiah 10:16-17; Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:27., Isaiah 33:11-14): chârū (milel, since pashta is an acc. postpos.),

(Note: In correct texts châr has two pashtas, the former indicating the place of the tone.)

from chârar, they are burnt up, exusti. With regard to ויּאשׁמוּ, it is hardly necessary to observe that it cannot be traced back to אשׁם equals ישׁם, שׁמם; and that of the two meanings, culpam contrahere and culpam sustinere, it has the latter meaning here. We must not overlook the genuine mark of Isaiah here in the description of the vanishing away of men down to a small remnant: נשׁאר (שׁאר) is the standing word used to denote this; מזער (used with regard to number both here and in Isaiah 16:14; and with regard to time in Isaiah 10:25 and Isaiah 29:17) is exclusively Isaiah's; and אנושׁ is used in the same sense as in Isaiah 33:8 (cf., Isaiah 13:12). In Isaiah 24:7 we are reminded of Joel 1 (on the short sentences, see Isaiah 29:20; Isaiah 16:8-10); in Isaiah 24:8, Isaiah 24:9 any one acquainted with Isaiah's style will recall to mind not only Isaiah 5:12, Isaiah 5:14, but a multitude of other parallels. We content ourselves with pointing to עלּיז (which belongs exclusively to Isaiah, and is taken from Isaiah 22:2 and Isaiah 32:13 in Zephaniah 2:15, and from Isaiah 13:3 in Zephaniah 3:11); and for basshir (with joyous song) to Isaiah 30:32 (with the beating of drums and playing of guitars), together with Isaiah 28:7. The picture is elegiac, and dwells so long upon the wine (cf., Isaiah 16:1-14), just because wine, both as a natural production and in the form of drink, is the most exhilarating to the heart of all the natural gifts of God (Psalm 104:15; Judges 9:13). All the sources of joy and gladness are destroyed; and even if there is much still left of that which ought to give enjoyment, the taste of the men themselves turns it into bitterness.

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