Isaiah 24:2
And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
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(2) It shall be, as with the people . . .—In the apparently general classification there is, perhaps, in the last two clauses a trace of the prophet’s indignation at the growing tendency of the people to the luxury which led to debt, and to the avarice which traded on the debtor’s necessities. Israel, it would seem, was already on the way to become a nation of money lenders.

Isaiah 24:2-3. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest, &c. — The calamity shall be universal, without any respect or distinction of persons or ranks of men; the priests themselves, having been partakers of the people’s sins, shall also partake with them of their plagues. As with the buyer, so with the seller — The purchaser of lands shall have no more left than he that hath sold his patrimony; but all persons shall be made equal in beggary and slavery. The land shall be utterly emptied and utterly spoiled — Shall be deprived both of its riches and inhabitants. “As the public calamities coming upon the land were to be repeated, at various times and in various manners,” the sacred writer is thought by some interpreters to have “accommodated his discourse to these calamities, and divided it into various articles and gradations.” See Vitringa.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.As with the people, so with the priest - This does not mean in moral character, but in destiny. It does not mean that the character of the priest would have any influence on that of the people, or that because the one was corrupt the other would be; but it means that all would be involved in the same calamity, and there would be no favored class that would escape. The prophet, therefore, enumerate the various ranks of the people, and shows that all classes would be involved in the impending calamity.

As with the taker of usury - He who lends his money at interest. It was contrary to the Mosaic law for one Israelite to take interest of another Leviticus 25:36; Deuteronomy 23:19; Nehemiah 5:7, Nehemiah 5:10; but it is not probable that this law was very carefully observed, and especially in the corrupt times that preceded the Babylonian captivity.

2. as with the people, so with the priest—All alike shall share the same calamity: no favored class shall escape (compare Eze 7:12, 13; Ho 4:9; Re 6:15). It shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; the approaching calamity shall be universal, without any respect or distinction of persons or ranks of men; the priests themselves, having been partakers of the people’s sins, shall also partake with them in their plagues.

As with the buyer, so with the seller; the purchaser of lands shall have no more left than he that hath sold all his patrimony; and all persons shall be made equal in beggary and slavery. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest,.... Or, "prince" (p); no order or rank of men will fare better than another; their dignity, in things civil or ecclesiastical, will not secure them from ruin; it will be no better with princes and priests than the common people; they shall all alike share in the common destruction. Not Jeroboam's priests, but rather the Romish priests, are here meant, who have led the people into superstition and idolatry; blind leaders of the blind, and so both fall into the ditch together:

as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; there shall be no distinction of superiors and inferiors; as not of prince and subjects, so not of master and servant, mistress and maid; no respect will be had to persons, but the one shall be treated even as the other:

as with the buyer, so with the seller; the one that bought an estate, and thought to enjoy it, will be no better off than he that sold it, and perhaps spent the money; the one will be possessed of no more than the other, seeing what the one had bought, and the other sold, will now be in the possession of a third:

as with the lender, so with the borrower; their condition will be equal; he that was so poor that he was obliged to borrow to carry on his business, or for the necessaries of life, and so he that was so rich that he was capable of lending, now the one will be no richer than the other, but both on a level; the substance of the lender being taken from him:

as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him; this was forbidden the Jews by a law, Deuteronomy 23:19 wherefore not the land of Judea is here meant, but the antichristian states, among whom this practice has greatly prevailed.

(p) "ac praesidi", Junius & Tremellius; "sic gubernator", Piscator.

And it shall be, as with the people, so with the {b} priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of interest, so with the giver of interest to him.

(b) Because this was a name of dignity it was also applied to them who were not of Aaron's family, and so signifies also a man of dignity, as in 2Sa 8:18, 20:25, 1Ch 18:17 and by these words the prophet signifies a horrible confusion, where there will be neither religion, order nor policy, Ho 4:9.

2. The judgment affects all classes alike, without distinction of rank or fortune.

as with the people … priest] Cf. Hosea 4:9. It would hardly be safe to infer from this proverbial expression that at the time of the author the priests formed the aristocracy of the Jewish people. the buyer … the seller] Ezekiel 7:12. the taker … the giver of usury] Jeremiah 15:10.Verse 2. - It shall be, as with the people, so with the priest, etc. There shall be "no respect of persons" - no favor shown to men of any particular rank or station. All shall suffer equally. The author is obliged to take as examples distinctions of rank known to him; but he carefully selects such as are of almost universal occurrence. There was scarcely any nation of antiquity in which there were not "priests and people," "masters and slaves," "buyers and sellers," "lenders and borrowers," "takers and givers of usury." By "usury" is meant, not exorbitant interest, but interest simply, of whatever amount. The prophet now proceeds to describe the fate of Phoenicia. "Behold the Chaldean land: this people that has not been (Asshur - it hath prepared the same for desert beasts) - they set up their siege-towers, destroy the palaces of Kena'an, make it a heap of ruins. Mourn, he ships of Tarshish: for your fortress is laid waste." The general meaning of Isaiah 23:13, as the text now runs, is that the Chaldeans have destroyed Kenaēan, and in fact Tyre. הקימוּ (they set up) points to the plural idea of "this people," and בּחוּניו (chethib בּחיניו) to the singular idea of the same; on the other hand, the feminine suffixes relate to Tyre. "They (the Chaldeans) have laid bare the palaces ('armenoth, from 'armoneth) of Tyre," i.e., have thrown them down, or burned them down to their very foundations (עורר, from ערר equals ערה, Psalm 137:7, like ערער in Jeremiah 51:58); it (the Chaldean people) has made her (Tyre) a heap of rubbish. So far the text is clear, and there is no ground for hesitation. But the question arises, whether in the words לציּים יסדהּ אשּׁוּר Asshur is the subject or the object. In the former case the prophet points to the land of the Chaldeans, for the purpose of describing the instruments of divine wrath; and having called them "a nation which has not been" (היה לא), explains this by saying that Asshur first founded the land which the Chaldeans now inhabit for them, i.e., wild hordes (Psalm 72:9); or better still (as tziyyim can hardly signify mountain hordes), that Asshur has made it (this nation, עם fem., as in Jeremiah 8:5; Exodus 5:16) into dwellers in steppes (Knobel), which could not be conceived of in any other way than that Asshur settled the Chaldeans, who inhabited the northern mountains, in the present so-called land of Chaldea, and thus made the Chaldeans into a people, i.e., a settled, cultivated people, and a people bent on conquest and taking part in the history of the world (according to Knobel, primarily as a component part of the Assyrian army). But this view, which we meet with even in Calvin, is exposed to a grave difficulty. It is by no means improbable, indeed, that the Chaldeans, who were descendants of Nahor, according to Genesis 22:22, and therefore of Semitic descent,

(Note: Arpachshad (Genesis 10:22), probably the ancestor of the oldest Chaldeans, was also Semitic, whether his name is equivalent to Armachshad (the Chaldean high-land) or not. Arrapachitis rings like Albagh, the name of the table-land between the lake of Urmia and that of Van, according to which shad was the common Armenian termination for names of places.)

came down from the mountains which bound Armenia, Media, and Assyria, having been forced out by the primitive migration of the Arians from west to east; although the more modern hypothesis, which represents them as a people of Tatar descent, and as mixing among the Shemites of the countries of the Euphrates and Tigris, has no historical support whatever, the very reverse being the case, according to Genesis 10, since Babylon was of non-Semitic or Cushite origin, and therefore the land of Chaldea, as only a portion of Babylonia (Strabo, xvi. 1, 6), was the land of the Shemites. But the idea that the Assyrians brought them down from the mountains into the lowlands, though not under Ninus and Semiramis,

(Note: The same view is held by Oppert, though he regards the Casdim as the primitive Turanian (Tatar) inhabitants of Shinar, and supposes this passage to relate to their subjugation by the Semitic Assyrians.)

as Vitringa supposes, but about the time of Shalmanassar (Ges., Hitzig, Knobel, and others),

(Note: For an impartial examination of this migration or transplantation hypothesis, which is intimately connected with the Scythian hypothesis, see M. V. Niebuhr's Geschichte Assurs und Babels seit Phul (1857, pp. 152-154). Rawlinson (Monarchies, i.-71-74) decidedly rejects the latter as at variance with the testimonies of Scripture, of Berosus, and of the monuments.)

is pure imagination, and merely an inference drawn from this passage. For this reason I have tried to give a different interpretation to the clause לציּים יסדהּ אשּׁוּר in my Com. on Habakkuk (p. 22), viz., "Asshur - it has assigned the same to the beasts of the desert." That Asshur may be used not only pre-eminently, but directly, for Nineveh (like Kena‛an for Tzor), admits of no dispute, since even at the present day the ruins are called Arab. 'l-âṯūr, and this is probably a name applied to Nineveh in the arrow-headed writings also (Layard, Nineveh and its Remains).

The word tziyyim is commonly applied to beasts of the wilderness (e.g., Isaiah 13:21), and לציּים יסד for ציּה שׂם (used of Nineveh in Zephaniah 2:13-14) may be explained in accordance with Psalm 104:8. The form of the parenthetical clause, however, would be like that of the concluding clause of Amos 1:11. But what makes me distrustful even of this view is not a doctrinal ground (Winer, Real Wrterbuch, i. 218), but one taken from Isaiah's own prophecy. Isaiah undoubtedly sees a Chaldean empire behind the Assyrian; but this would be the only passage in which he prophesied (and that quite by the way) how the imperial power would pass from the latter to the former. It was the task of Nahum and Zephaniah to draw this connecting line. It is true that this argument is not sufficient to outweigh the objections that can be brought against the other view, which makes the text declare a fact that is never mentioned anywhere else; but it is important nevertheless. For this reason it is possible, indeed, that Ewald's conjecture is a right one, and that the original reading of the text was כּנענים ארץ הן. Read in this manner, the first clause runs thus: "Behold the land of the Canaaneans: this people has come to nothing; Asshur has prepared it (their land) for the beasts of the desert." It is true that היה לא generally means not to exist, or not to have been (Obadiah 1:16); but there are also cases in which לא is used as a kind of substantive (cf., Jeremiah 33:25), and the words mean to become or to have become nothing (Job 6:21; Ezekiel 21:32, and possibly also Isaiah 15:6). Such an alteration of the text is not favoured, indeed, by any of the ancient versions. For our own part, we still abide by the explanation we have given in the Commentary on Habakkuk, not so much for this reason, as because the seventy years mentioned afterwards are a decisive proof that the prophet had the Chaldeans and not Asshur in view, as the instruments employed in executing the judgment upon Tyre. The prophet points out the Chaldeans - that nation which (although of primeval antiquity, Jeremiah 5:15) had not yet shown itself as a conqueror of the world (cf., Habakkuk 1:6), having been hitherto subject to the Assyrians; but which had now gained the mastery after having first of all destroyed Asshur, i.e., Nineveh

(Note: This destruction of Nineveh was really such an one as could be called yesor l'ziyyim (a preparation for beasts of the desert), for it has been ever since a heap of ruins, which the earth gradually swallowed up; so that when Xenophon went past it, he was not even told that these were the ruins of the ancient Ninus. On the later buildings erected upon the ruins, see Marcus v. Niebuhr, p. 203.)

(namely, with the Medo-Babylonian army under Nabopolassar, the founder of the Neo-Babylonian empire, in 606 b.c.) - as the destroyers of the palaces of Tyre. With the appeal to the ships of Tarshish to pour out their lamentation, the prophecy returns in Isaiah 23:14 to the opening words in Isaiah 23:1. According to Isaiah 23:4, the fortress here is insular Tyre. As the prophecy thus closes itself by completing the circle, Isaiah 23:15-18 might appear to be a later addition. This is no more the case, however, here, than in the last part of chapter 19. Those critics, indeed, who do not acknowledge any special prophecies that are not vaticinia post eventum, are obliged to assign Isaiah 23:15-18 to the Persian era.

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