Isaiah 3:11
Woe to the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.
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3:10-15 The rule was certain; however there might be national prosperity or trouble, it would be well with the righteous and ill with the wicked. Blessed be God, there is abundant encouragement to the righteous to trust in him, and for sinners to repent and return to him. It was time for the Lord to show his might. He will call men to a strict account for all the wealth and power intrusted to and abused by them. If it is sinful to disregard the necessities of the poor, how odious and wicked a part do they act, who bring men into poverty, and then oppress them!Wo unto the wicked - To all the wicked - but here having particular reference to the Jews whom Isaiah was addressing.

It shall be ill with him - The word "ill" is the only word here in the original. It is an emphatic mode of speaking - expressing deep abhorrence and suddenness of denunciation. 'Woe to the impious! Ill!'

For the reward of his hands - Of his conduct. The hands are the instruments by which we accomplish anything, and hence, they are put for the whole man.

Shall be given him - That is, shall be repaid to him; or he shall be justly recompensed for his crimes. This is the principle on which God rules the world. It shall be well here and hereafter, with those who obey God; it shall be ill here and forever, with those who disobey him.

11. ill—antithesis to "well" (Isa 3:10); emphatic ellipsis of the words italicized. "Ill!"

hands—his conduct; "hands" being the instrument of acts (Ec 8:12, 13).

Woe unto the wicked! these heavy judgments are designed against them, and shall certainly find them out, though here they be mixed with the righteous. Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him,.... In time, and to eternity, in times of public calamity, and under all afflictions, and adverse dispensations of Providence; he has no God to go to; all that befalls him is in wrath; at death he is driven away in his wickedness; at judgment he will be bid to depart as cursed, and his portion will be in the lake of fire, with devils and damned spirits for ever. Some (l) render it, "woe to the wicked, evil"; or who is evil, who is exceedingly bad, a very great sinner, the chief of sinners, such as the Sodomites were, sinners before the Lord exceedingly, Genesis 13:13 to whom these men are compared, Isaiah 3:9. So the Targum,

"woe to the ungodly, whose works are evil:''

the Jews, as they distinguish between a good man and a righteous man, so between a wicked man and an evil man; there are, say they (m), a righteous good man, and a righteous man that is not good; but he that is good to God, and good to men, he is a righteous good man; he that is good to God, and not good to men, he is a righteous man, that is not good; and there are a wicked evil man, and a wicked man that is not evil; he that is evil to God, and evil to men, he is a wicked evil man; he that is evil to God, and not evil to men, he is a wicked man that is not evil. See Romans 5:7.

for the reward of his hands shall be given him; in righteous judgment, in strict justice, as a just recompense of reward; nor shall he have reason to complain of unrighteousness in God.

(l) "vae impio malo", Munster, Vatablus; so Ben Melech. (m) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 40. 1.

Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.
"And the people oppress one another, one this and another that; the boy breaks out violently upon the old man, and the despised upon the honoured." Niggas is the reciprocal niphal, as the clause depicting the reciprocity clearly shows (cf., nilcham, Isaiah 19:2); nagas followed by Beth means to treat as a tyrant or taskmaster (Isaiah 9:3). The commonest selfishness would then stifle every nobler motive; one would become the tyrant of another, and ill-mannered insolence would take the place of that reverence, which is due to the old and esteemed from boys and those who are below them in position, whether we regard the law of nature, the Mosaic law (Leviticus 19:32), or the common custom of society. Nikleh (from kâlâh, the synonym of הקל, Isaiah 9:1; Isaiah 23:9; cf., Isaiah 16:14, kal, to be light or insignificant) was a term used to denote whoever belonged to the lowest stratum of society (1 Samuel 18:23). It was the opposite of nichâd (from Cabed, to be heavy or of great importance). The Septuagint rendering, ὁ ἄτιμος πρὸς τὸν ἔντιμον is a very good one (as the Semitic languages have no such antithetical formations with ἃ στερητικόν). With such contempt of the distinctions arising from age and position, the state would very soon become a scene of the wildest confusion.
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