Isaiah 24:5
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) The earth also is defiled.—The verb is used of blood-guiltiness in Numbers 35:33, of impurity in Jeremiah 3:1-2; Jeremiah 3:9. It includes, therefore, all the sins that, in modern phrase, desecrate humanity. Taking the word in its wider range, each form of evil was a transgression of the “everlasting covenant” of Genesis 9:16.

Isaiah 24:5-6. The earth also — Rather, And the land is defiled under the inhabitants thereof — By the wickedness of its people. Here we have the causes of the divine judgment upon the land: because they have transgressed the laws — The laws of God revealed to them, and pressed upon them in a singular manner; changed the ordinance — God’s ordinances concerning his worship and service; broken the everlasting covenant — The covenant made between God and Abraham, and all his posterity, which was everlasting, both on God’s part, who, upon the conditions therein expressed, engaged himself to be a God to them, and to their seed for ever; and on Israel’s part, who were obliged thereby to constant and perpetual obedience through all generations. Therefore hath the curse — The curse of God threatened to transgressors; devoured the earth — See this illustrated Zechariah 5:1. And they that dwell therein are desolate — Reduced to poverty, by the spoiling of their goods. The inhabitants are burned — Destroyed by fire and sword, or consumed by the wrath of God, which is often compared to fire; and few men left — The prophet’s general meaning is, that the inhabitants of the land should waste away and be consumed, being partly cut off by the sword, partly dispersed by the public calamities, partly destroyed by famine, and partly carried into captivity, so that but few of them should remain, and they only of the poorer sort. And this was the face of things in Judea at the time referred to.

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 also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof - The statements in this verse are given as a reason why the curse had been pronounced against them, and why these calamities had come upon them, Isaiah 24:6. The first reason is, that the very earth become polluted by their crimes. This phrase may denote that injustice and cruelty prevailed to such an extent that the very earth was stained with gore, and covered with blood under the guilty population. So the phrase is used in Numbers 33:33; Psalm 106:38. Or it may mean in general that the wickedness of the people was great, and was accumulating, and the very earth under them was polluted by sustaining such a population. But the former is probably the correct interpretation.

Changed the ordinance - Or, the statute (חק chôq). This word, from חקק châqaq, to engrave, and then to make or institute a law or an ordinance, is usually applied to the positive statutes appointed by Moses. The word statute accurately expresses the idea. These they had changed by introducing new statutes, and had in fact, if not in form, repealed the laws of Moses, and introduced others.

Broken the everlasting covenant - The word 'covenant' here is evidently used, as it is often, in the sense of law. By the term 'everlasting covenant,' Vitringa correctly supposes is denoted the laws of nature, the immutable laws of justice and right, which are engraven on the conscience, and which are inflexible and perpetual.

5. earth—rather, "the land."

defiled under … inhabitants—namely, with innocent blood (Ge 4:11; Nu 35:33; Ps 106:38).

laws … ordinance … everlasting covenant—The moral laws, positive statutes, and national covenant designed to be for ever between God and them.

The earth also, Heb. And the land; or, this land; for here is an emphatical article in the Hebrew text.

Is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; by the wickedness of its people; of which see Leviticus 18:25,27 Num 35:33, &c. The laws; the laws of God revealed to them, and pressed upon them in a singular manner, called simply the laws, as the word of God is ofttimes called the word, by way of eminency.

The ordinance; God’s ordinances concerning his worship and service; the singular being put collectively for the plural.

The everlasting covenant; the covenant made between God and Abraham, and all his posterity, renewed with the Israelites at Sinai, which was everlasting, both on God’s part, who, upon the conditions therein expressed, engaged himself to be a God to them and to their seed for ever; and on Israel’s part, who were obliged thereby to constant and perpetual obedience through all generations. All these clauses clearly prove that the earth or land which this prophecy concerns, is no other than the land of Israel and Judah.

The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants of it,.... Or, "and the earth"; or, "for the earth is defiled" (q); and so it is a reason why it is emptied and spoiled, because polluted and corrupted with the fornication of the whore of Rome, with her idolatries and superstitions, with which the inhabitants of the earth are defiled; or with her rapine and violence, cruelties, bloodshed, and murders; for blood defiles a land, Numbers 35:33 all which are committed by the inhabitants of the earth, subject to the see of Rome, by reason of which it may be said to be corrupted or defiled; so the phrase may be interpreted "for", or "because of the inhabitants of it": thus Jarchi and Kimchi, because of their wickedness and impieties; see Revelation 11:18 or, "the earth is deceitful" (r), or plays the hypocrite; promising and showing as if it would bring forth fruit, and brings forth none, but is barren and unfruitful, because of the sins of the inhabitants of it; see Revelation 18:14,

because they have transgressed the laws; of God and man, as antichrist and his followers have done; who is that wicked that "lawless one", that sets up himself above laws, and takes upon him to dispense with the laws of God and man, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and in innumerable instances has transgressed both, casting all contempt upon them, and bidding all defiance to them, as being not at all bound and obliged by them:

changed the ordinance; or "ordinances"; the singular for the plural, a collective word; the ordinances of divine revelation, of the Gospel dispensation, those of baptism, and the Lord's supper; the former of these is changed, both as to subjects and mode, from adult baptism to infant baptism, from immersion to aspersion; and the latter, in it the bread and wine are pretended to be changed into the very body and blood of Christ, and is only given in one kind to the laity, and made a real sacrifice of, when its end and use are only to commemorate the one sacrifice already offered up; moreover, by the "ordinance" may be meant the Scriptures, which are the "the rule of judgment"; which antichrist has most miserably perverted, and has changed and altered the sense of them; taking upon him to be the infallible interpreter of them, and judge of all controversies, forbidding the reading of them to the people, and setting up his own decrees, definitions, and determinations, above them; and is "that throne of iniquity, that frameth mischief, by a law", or ordinance, of his own making, and which he puts in the room of the divine law or ordinance, Psalm 94:20 where the same word is used as here; and he is that little horn, that thought to change times and laws, Daniel 7:25,

broken the everlasting covenant; not the eternal law of nature, nor the everlasting covenant of circumcision, or that made with Israel on mount Sinai; but the new covenant, or the administration of the covenant of grace under the Gospel dispensation, which is to last to the end of time, and lies in the ministration of the word, and administration of ordinances; which antichrist has done all that in his power lies to break, make null and void, by corrupting the word, and changing the ordinances, and setting up his own institutions above them, and against them.

(q) "et terra", V. L. "nam terra", Piscator. (r) "hypocrita est", Montanus, Tigurine version.

The earth {c} also is defiled under its inhabitants; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.

(c) That is, does not give her fruit for the sin of the people, whom the earth deceived of their nourishment because they deceived God of his honour.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. The earth also is defiled (literally, profaned) under the inhabitants thereof] That the land of Israel is profaned by the sins of its people, is a prominent idea in the O.T.; the conception is here extended to the whole earth. The condition of the world resembles that which preceded the Deluge (Genesis 6:11).

changed the ordinance] Rather, disregarded (lit. “passed by”) the ordinance.

the everlasting covenant] The expression is taken from Genesis 9:16, and refers to the covenant made after the flood with Noah and his family as representatives of the human race. The sin of the world lies in the violation of these fundamental dictates of morality, especially the law against murder, which is the principal stipulation of the Noachic covenant (Genesis 9:5-6). The conception is probably a late one.

Verse 5. - The earth also is defiled. Hitherto the prophet has been concerned with the mere fact of a terrible judgment to be sent by God upon the whole world. Now he sets forth the cause of the fact. It is the old cause, which has reduced so many lauds to desolation, and which in the far-off times produced the Flood, viz. the wickedness of man (Genesis 6:5-13). The earth is "defiled" or "polluted" by the sins of its inhabitants, and has to be purged from the defilement by suffering. They have transgressed the laws. Apart from both Judaism and Christianity, all mankind have been placed by God under a double law:

1. The "law written in their hearts" (Romans 2:15), which speaks to them through their consciences, and lays them under an obligation that cannot be gainsaid.

2. The law of positive commands, given to the entire human race through the common progenitors, Adam and Noah, which is obligatory upon all to whom it has been traditionally handed down; but which has been only very partially handed down, and it is not generally felt as obligatory. Mankind has in all ages largely transgressed both laws, and both would seem to be pointed at in the present passage. The transgression of the "law written in the heart" is doubtless that which especially calls down God's vengeance, and makes him from time to time execute wrath on the whole world. Changed the ordinance; rather, broken, violated. Transgression in act is intended, not formal abrogation of the Divine ordinances. Broken the everlasting covenant. Mr. Cheyne supposes an allusion to the covenant made with Noah (Genesis 9:16); but it seems better to understand that "everlasting covenant" which exists between God and man, in virtue of the nature wherewith God has endowed man, and of the laws which he Ires impressed upon man's con. science. Sophocles well says of these laws, that they are

ὑψίποδες οὐρανίαν δι αἰθέρὰΝΛ´τεκνοθέντες ῶν Ὄλυμπος
πατὴρ μόνος οὐδέ νιν θνατὰ
φύσις αηνέρων ἔτικτεν οὐδὲ
μήν ποτε λάθα κατακοιμάσει Or -

"Laws that walk on high, begot and bred
In upper air, whose only sire is Heaven;
Nor did the race of mortals give them birth,
Nor will oblivion ever cause them sleep."
Isaiah 24:5That 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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