Isaiah 24:6
Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
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(6) Therefore hath the curse . . .—The definite article may be either generic, the curse which always follows on evil-doing, or, more specifically, the curse of the Book of the Covenant, as in Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28. The curse is personified as a beast of prey or a consuming fire, ready to devour. (Comp. Genesis 4:7; Genesis 4:11.)

They that dwell therein are desolate.—Better, bear their punishment, or are dealt with as guilty.

Are burned.—The word determines, perhaps, the sense of the word “devour” in the previous clause. The curse, the symbol of the wrath of Jehovah, is the consuming fire that burns.

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.Therefore hath the curse devoured - Eaten it up; a figurative expression that is common in the Scriptures, denoting that the desolation is widespread and ruinous.

Are burned - (חרוּ chârû). Instead of this reading, Lowth proposes to read: חרבוּ chârebû 'Are destroyed.' The Septuagint reads it, 'Therefore the inhabitants of the land shall be poor.' The Syriac, 'The inhabitants of the land shall be slain.' But there is no authority from the manuscripts to change the text as proposed by Lowth, Nor is it necessary. The prophet does not mean that the inhabitants of the land were consumed by fire. The expression is evidently figurative. He is speaking of the effect of wrath or the curse, and that effect is often described in the Scriptures as burning, or consuming, as a fire does. The sense is, that the inhabitants of the land are brought under the withering, burning, consuming effect of that wrath; and the same effects are produced by it as are seen when a fire runs over a field or a forest. Hence, the word here used (חרה chârâh, "to burn, to be kindled") is often used in connection with wrath, to denote burning or raging anger. Exodus 22:23 : 'His anger burns.' Genesis 30:2 : 'And the anger of Jacob was kindled against Rachel; Genesis 44:18; Job 27:2-3; Job 42:7; Genesis 31:6 : 'His anger was kindled.' Psalm 37:1, Psalm 37:7-8; Proverbs 24:19 Compare Job 30:30 :

My skin is black upon me,

And my bones are burnt with heat.

The sense is, that the inhabitants of the land were wasted away under the wrath of God, so that few were left; as the trees of the forest are destroyed before a raging fire.

And few men are left - This was literally true after the invasion of the land by the Chaldeans 2 Kings 24:14-16.

6. earth—the land.

burned—namely, with the consuming wrath of heaven: either internally, as in Job 30:30 [Rosenmuller]; or externally, the prophet has before his eyes the people being consumed with the withering dryness of their doomed land (so Joe 1:10, 12), [Maurer].

The curse; the curse of God threatened to transgressors, Deu 28:15 29:20, and imprecated by and upon themselves, if they should not persist in their obedience to God, Deu 27:26, and elsewhere.

Are burned; are consumed by the wrath of God, which is commonly compared to fire.

Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth,.... The inhabitants of it, and the fruits upon it, alluding to the earth being cursed for the sin of man, when it brought forth briers and thorns; this may denote the seven vials of God's wrath poured upon the earth, or the antichristian states. Some, by the curse, understand perjury or false swearing; so the Targum,

"therefore, because of perjury (or a false oath) the earth is become a desert;''

of which popes, and Popish princes, cardinals, priests, Jesuits, &c. have been notoriously guilty:

and they that dwell therein are desolate: for want of houses, cities and towns being destroyed by war; or through famine, for want of provisions, the earth being cursed for their sins: or the words may be rendered, "for they that dwell therein are guilty" (s); of idolatry, bloodshed, perjury, thefts, sorcery, and all other abominations, Revelation 9:20,

therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned; their cities burnt with fire, and particularly the city of Rome; or their persons, their bodies burnt with burning fevers, and pestilential diseases; and their minds with envy, fury, and madness: this may be the same with the fourth vial poured upon the sun, when men will be scorched with fire and great heat, and blaspheme, Revelation 16:8. The Vulgate Latin version here renders it, "shall be mad"; through the wrath of God poured out upon them:

and few men left; but what shall be consumed by fire or sword, by famine or pestilence, or by one or other of the vials; and those that remain shall be frightened, and give glory to the God of heavens Revelation 11:13.

(s) Sept. "peccabunt", V. L. "quia deliquerunt", Tigurine version; "rei aguntur, sive luunt", Cocceius.

Therefore hath the {d} curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell in it are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are {e} burned, and few men left.

(d) Written in the law, as in Le 26:14, De 28:16 thus the prophets used to apply particularly the menaces and promises which are general in the law.

(e) With heat and drought, or else that they were consumed with the fire of God's wrath.

6. hath the (or a) curse devoured the earth] Cf. Zechariah 5:3.

are desolate] Render with R.V., are found guilty.

the inhabitants of the earth are burned] or burn under the curse, which is the expression of the Divine wrath. The verb (ḥârar) means “to glow” (Ezekiel 24:11) or “be parched” (Job 30:30), not “be burned up.”

few men left] Desolating and protracted wars have reduced the population of all countries; but the process of extermination is not yet at an end (see Isaiah 24:13).

Verse 6. - The curse; rather, a curse. God has pronounced a curse upon the earth on account of man's perversity; and hence the calamities which the earth is about to suffer. Are desolate; rather, are held as guilty (see Zechariah 11:5; and compare the marginal rendering of Psalm 5:10; Psalm 34:21). Are burned; or, scorched - shriveled up by the "burning anger" (Isaiah 30:27)and "fiery indignation" (Hebrews 10:27) of Jehovah. Isaiah 24:6That 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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