Isaiah 3:4 Commentaries: And I will make mere lads their princes, And capricious children will rule over them,
Isaiah 3:4
And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
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(4) I will give children to be their princes.—Better, youths. The words may point obliquely to Ahaz, who had ascended the throne at the age of twenty (2Chronicles 28:1). Manasseh was but twelve when he became king; Josiah but eight (2Chronicles 33:1; 2Chronicles 34:1). In an Eastern monarchy the rule of a young king, rash and without experience, guided by counsellors like himself, was naturally regarded as the greatest of evils, and the history of Rehoboam had impressed this truth on the mind of every Israelite. (Comp. Ecclesiastes 10:16.)

Isaiah 3:4-5. And I will give children to be their princes — Either, 1st, Children in age, whose minority corrupt ministers of state commonly abuse, to the producing of much evil: or, 2d, In understanding and experience. When all the eminent persons, mentioned Isaiah 3:2-3, were removed, the necessary consequence must be, that persons of no qualifications for government must succeed in their places. This also was fully accomplished in the succession of weak and wicked princes, from the death of Josiah to the destruction of the city and temple. And the people shall be oppressed — By the command or permission of such childish rulers. The child shall behave himself proudly, &c. — The child in understanding, or the young and inexperienced; and the base against the honourable — “The usual effects,” says Lowth, “of a weak and unsettled government, where faction grows too hard for justice, and seditious men become so bold as openly to insult those that are in authority.”3:1-9 God was about to deprive Judah of every stay and support. The city and the land were to be made desolate, because their words and works had been rebellious against the Lord; even at his holy temple. If men do not stay themselves upon God, he will soon remove all other supports, and then they must sink. Christ is the Bread of life and the Water of life; if he be our Stay, we shall find that is a good part not to be taken away, Joh 6:27. Here note, 1. That the condition of sinners is exceedingly woful. 2. It is the soul that is damaged by sin. 3. Whatever evil befals sinners, be sure that they bring it on themselves.And I will give children - Not children in respect to age so much as in regard to talent for governing. I will commit the land to the government of weak and imbecile princes. This would naturally occur when the wise and great were removed; compare Ecclesiastes 10:16 : 'Wo to thee, O land, when thy king is a child;' compare Isaiah 3:12.

And babes shall rule ... - That is, babes in experience and knowledge. This was fully accomplished in the succession of weak and wicked princes that succeeded Isaiah, until the time of Zedekiah, the last of them, when the temple was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. - "Lowth."

4. children—in ability for governing; antithesis to the "ancient" (see Isa 3:12; Ec 10:16).

babes—in warlike might; antithesis to "the mighty" and "man of war."

Children; either,

1. In age, whose minority corrupt ministers of state commonly abuse to great mischiefs; or,

2. In understanding, experience, and manners; foolish, froward, unteachable, &c. And I will give children to be their princes,.... Either in age, or in understanding, who are really so, or act like such; and in either sense, when this is the case, it is an unhappiness to a nation, Ecclesiastes 10:16,

and babes shall rule over them; which is the same as before. The Targum is,

"the weak shall rule over them;''

such who are weak in their intellectuals, or are of mean pusillanimous spirits, "effeminate", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; and so as "children" are opposed to the "ancient", that should be taken away, these are opposed to "men of might" and courage, who would now be wanting: or "men of illusions", as in the margin; such as were subtle as foxes, and should deceive them, and impose upon them, and were audacious and impudent, and would mock at them, and despise them. So Jarchi and Abarbinel; and according to this sense of the word the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "mockers shall rule over them".

And I will give {d} children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.

(d) Not only in age: but in manners, knowledge and strength.

4. The supreme power passing into the hands of weaklings, a Reign of Terror ensues among the people. The sudden change of speaker is very striking.

and babes …] Rather, and Outrage shall rule over them. The word rendered “babes” is really an abstract noun, occurring again only in ch. Isaiah 66:4 (A.V. “delusions”). It is derived from a verb meaning “to outrage” or “to insult” (see Jdg 19:25; 1 Samuel 31:4; Jeremiah 38:19; Numbers 22:29), and seems here to denote those personal affronts and outrages which invariably accompany social confusions. The rendering “capriciousness,” preferred by many, does not suit Isaiah 66:4. Some take the word as adverbial acc. (see R.V. marg. “with childishness shall they rule”), others think the abstract is used for the concrete (“capricious youths”). But the translation given is perhaps the most forcible,—Outrage instead of Justice.Verse 4. - I will give children to be their princes; rather, youths than "children." The extreme youth of the later kings of Judah at the date of their accession is very remarkable. After Hezekiah, only one was as much as twenty-five years old when he came to the throne. Jehoahaz was twenty-three (2 Kings 23:31); Amon, twenty-two (2 Kings 21:19); Zedekiah twenty-one (2 Kings 24:18); Jehoiachin, eighteen (2 Kings 24:8); Manasseh, twelve (2 Kings 21:1); and Josiah eight (2 Kings 22:1). Thus this prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. And babes shall rule over them; literally, puerilities shall rule over them; i.e. the youths shall behave in a childish way. Isaiah 2:20 forms the commencement to the fourth strophe: "In that day will a man cast away his idols of gold and his idols of silver, which they made for him to worship, to the moles and to the bats." The traditional text separates lachpor peroth into two words,

(Note: Abulwali equals d Parchon and others regard the double word as the singular of a substantive, applied to a particular bird (possibly a woodpecker), as a pecker of fruit (peroth). Kimchi would rather take lachpor as an infinitive (as in Joshua 2:2), to dig pits; and compares with it the talmudic word pēr, a pit or grave. No one adopts the rendering "into mouse-holes," simply because pērah, a mouse (from an Arabic word fa'ara, to dig, or root up), was not a Hebrew word at all, but was adopted at a later period from the Arabic (hence the Hebraeo-Arabic purah, a mousetrap).)

though without its being possible to discover what they are supposed to mean. The reason for the separation was simply the fact that plurilitera were at one time altogether misunderstood and regarded as Composita: for other plurilitera, written as two words, compare Isaiah 61:1; Hosea 4:18; Jeremiah 46:20. The prophet certainly pronounced the word lachparpâroth (Ewald, 157, c); and Chapharpârâh is apparently a mole (lit. thrower up of the soil), talpa, as it is rendered by Jerome and interpreted by Rashi. Gesenius and Knobel, however, have raised this objection, that the mole is never found in houses. But are we necessarily to assume that they would throw their idols into lumber-rooms, and not hide them in holes and crevices out of doors? The mole, the shrew-mouse, and the bat, whose name (atalleph) is regarded by Schultens as a compound word (atal-eph, night-bird), are generically related, according to both ancient and modern naturalists. Bats are to birds what moles are to the smaller beasts of prey (vid., Levysohn, Zoologie des Talmud, p. 102). The lxx combine with these two words l'hishtachavoth (to worship). Malbim and Luzzatto adopt this rendering, and understand the words to mean that they would sink down to the most absurd descriptions of animal worship. But the accentuation, which does not divide the v. at עשׂוּ־לו, as we should expect if this were the meaning, is based upon the correct interpretation. The idolaters, convinced of the worthlessness of their idols through the judicial interposition of God, and enraged at the disastrous manner in which they had been deceived, would throw away with curses the images of gold and silver which artists' hands had made according to their instructions, and hide them in the holes of bats and in mole-hills, to conceal them from the eyes of the Judge, and then take refuge there themselves after ridding themselves of this useless and damnable burden.

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