Isaiah 24:4
The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
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(4) The haughty people of the earth.—Literally, the heights, or, to use an English term with a like history, “the highnesses of the people.”

Isaiah 24:4. The earth, the land, mourneth and fadeth away — Hebrew, אבלה נבלה, abelah nabelah, lamenteth, falleth. The world languisheth, &c. — “The world,” says Bishop Lowth, “is the same with the land; that is, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah; orbis Iraeliticus,” the Israelitish world. Heathen authors frequently speak of particular provinces and countries under the name of orbis, orbis habitabilis, and orbis terrarum, the world, the habitable world, the whole world, &c. And the same mode of speaking is often used in the Scriptures, where we not only find the Roman empire termed the world, (even all the world,) as Luke 2:1; Acts 11:28; but also Babylon, (Isaiah 13:11,) and this very land of Judea, John 12:19; and John 18:20. The haughty people of the land — Hebrew, מרום עם, the height of the people, those of the highest dignity in it; or the lofty people, as Bishop Lowth renders it. Not only common people are depressed and stink in sorrow, but the magistrates and rulers, the rich and powerful, the haughty and high-minded. Indeed, these are wont to suffer most under such calamities, either as having most to lose, or as not being used to hardships.

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 earth mourneth - The word 'earth' here, as in Isaiah 24:1, means the land of Judea, or that and so much of the adjacent countries as would be subject to the desolation described. The figure here is taken from flowers when they lose their beauty and languish; or when the plant that lacks moisture, or is cut down, loses its vigor and its vitality, and soon withers (compare the note at Isaiah 1:30; Isaiah 34:4; Psalm 1:3).

The world - (תבל têbêl). Literally, the inhabitable world, but used here as synonymous with the 'land,' and denoting the kingdoms of Judah and Israel (compare the note at Isaiah 13:11)

The haughty people - Margin, as in the Hebrew, 'Height of the people.' It denotes the great, the nobles, the princes of the land. The phrase is expressive of rank, not of their moral character.

4. world—the kingdom of Israel; as in Isa 13:11, Babylon.

haughty—literally, "the height" of the people: abstract for concrete, that is, the high people; even the nobles share the general distress.

The world: from this word some infer that this prophecy concerns not only the land of Judea, but also the neighbouring countries. But if the proper signification of that word be urged, this prophecy must be extended to all the parts of the world, which these learned men will not allow. And the world, both in Scripture and other authors, is often used synecdochically for that which in truth is but a small part of it, at least in comparison with the whole; as it is not only of the Roman empire, as Luke 2:1 Acts 11:28, but also of Babylon, Isaiah 13:11, and, which cometh nearer to the point, of this very land of Judea, as John 12:19 18:20, and elsewhere. And therefore it may well be so understood here, especially when this word world is explained by those other words the earth and the land, which the very next verse showeth to be meant of Israel or Judea, as we shall there discover.

The haughty people; not only common people, who use to be of low spirits; but the high and lofty ones, who use to be stout in their words and carriages towards me, and to deride my threatenings.

The earth mourneth, and fadeth away,.... It mourns, because of its inhabitants being destroyed; and it fades away, because stripped of its wealth and riches: so the kings of the earth, and merchants of it are represented as weeping and mourning at the destruction of Rome, because of its judgments, and the loss of its trade and riches, Revelation 18:9,

the world languisheth, and fadeth away: the inhabitants of it are like a sick man, that is so faint and feeble that he cannot stand, but totters and falls; and like the leaves of trees and flowers of the fields, whose strength and beauty are gone, and fade and fall:

the haughty people of the earth do languish: the kings and merchants of the earth before mentioned, who grow sick and faint through fear of what is coming upon them.

The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
4. mourneth … languisheth … fadeth away] Another instance of paronomasia in the original. Cf. ch. Isaiah 33:9; Hosea 4:3; Joel 1:10.

the haughty people] Lit. “the height of the people,” i.e. the noblest of the people. It is the only case where the word is so used (though cf. Ecclesiastes 10:6).

4–6. The earth lies under a curse on account of the wickedness of its inhabitants.

Verse 4. - The earth... fadeth away. As a flower that fades and withers up (comp. Isaiah 1:30; Isaiah 28:1, 4; Isaiah 34:4, etc.; Psalm 1:3; Psalm 37:2). The world. Tabel has never any narrower sense than the entire "world," and must be regarded as fixing the meaning of arets in passages where (as here) the two are used as synonymous. The haughty people; or, the high ones. All the great are brought down, and laid low, that "the Lord alone may be exalted in that day" (cf. Isaiah 2:11-17). Isaiah 24:4That 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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