Isaiah 3:5
And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.
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(5) The people shall be oppressed . . .—The words paint the worst form of the decadence of an Eastern kingdom. All is chaotic and anarchic; a fierce struggle for existence; the established order of society subverted; the experience of age derided by the petulance of youth. The picture of the corruption of a monarchy is as vivid and complete in its way as that which Thucydides (3:82-84) draws of the corruption of a democracy. It might seem to have been drawn from the Turkey or the Egypt of our own time.

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 the people shall be oppressed - This describes the state of anarchy and confusion which would exist under the reign of children and babes Isaiah 3:4, when all law would be powerless, and all rights violated, and when the feeble would be oppressed and borne down by the strong. The word used here, properly denotes that "unjust exactions or demands" would be made, or that the people would be "urged" to fulfill them.

Every one by another - In turn they shall oppress and vex one another. Hebrew 'man by man; and man by his neighbor' - a strong mode of expression, denoting that there would be a state of mutual strife, and violation of rights; compare 1 Kings 20:20.

The child ... - All ranks of society shall be broken up. All respect due from one rank in life to another shall be violated.

Shall behave himself proudly - The word used here means rather to "urge," or "press on." The child shall "crowd on" the old man. This was particularly descriptive of a state of anarchy and disorder, from the fact that the Jews inculcated so much respect and deference for age; see the note at Isaiah 3:2.

The ancient - The old man.

And the base - The man of low rank in life. The word properly means the man that is despised, the vile, the ignoble; 1 Samuel 18:23; Proverbs 7:9.

The honorable - All the forms of respect in life would be broken up; all the proper rules of deference between man and man would be violated. Neither dignity, age, nor honor would be respected.

5. The anarchy resulting under such imbecile rulers (Isa 3:4); unjust exactions mutually; the forms of respect violated (Le 19:32).

base—low-born. Compare the marks of "the last days" (2Ti 3:2).

The people shall be oppressed, by the command or connivance of such childish rulers.

The child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable; foolish and unworthy men shall by wicked arts gain the favour and abuse the power of the prince, and thereby behave themselves insolently towards their betters.

And the people shall be oppressed, everyone by another, and everyone by his neighbour,.... There being no governors, or such as were unfit for government, no decorum was kept and observed, but a mere anarchy; and so everyone did as he pleased, as when there was no king in Israel; and everyone rushed into the house of his neighbour, and plundered his goods; this was the case of Jerusalem, at the time of the siege, it abounding with robbers and spoilers:

the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient; show no respect to them, nor honour them, as the law requires in Leviticus 19:32 but behave insolently towards them; and so the Jews say (d), that when the son of David is come, as he now would be, young men shall make ashamed the faces of old men, and old men shall stand before young men:

and the base against the honourable; persons of a mean birth and extract would rise up against and insult such as were men of families and fortune, of noble birth and of high degree.

(d) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 97. 1.

And the people shall be {e} oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the elder, and the base against the honourable.

(e) For lack of good regiment and order.

5. A general description of the state of anarchy; “the bonds of discipline and order are loosed, all authority disappears” (Dillmann).

Verse 5. - And the people shall be oppressed, etc.; rather, shall oppress each man his fellow, and each man his companion. This would be no new thing (see Isaiah 1:17, 21, 23), but perhaps might be more widely spread, having passed from the upper classes to the lower ones, as is usual with vices. The child; rather, the youth. Shall behave himself proudly; or, insolently. The respect for age inculcated by the Law (Leviticus 19:32) shall disappear. Youths shall set at naught the counsel of the aged. The spirit of Rehoboam shall prevail over that of Solomon, with the usual result - rashness, recklessness, and failure. And the base, etc. Respect for station shall likewise disappear. The dregs of the people shall grow insolent towards those above them in the social scale; and thus the old social order shall be inverted. Isaiah 3:5"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." Nichas 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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