Isaiah 3:6
When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:
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(6, 7) When a man shall take hold of his brother . . .—Disorder was followed by destitution. The elder brother, the impoverished owner of the ruined dwelling, the head of a family or village, turns in his rags to the younger, whose decent garments seem to indicate comparative wealth, and would fain transfer to him the responsibilities of the first-born, though he has but a ruined tenement to give him. And instead of accepting what most men would have coveted (Genesis 25:31-33), the younger brother rejects it. He has enough bread and clothing (same word as in Exodus 22:27) for himself, and no more. It is not for him to bind up the wounds of others, or to try to introduce law where all is lawlessness. The supreme selfishness of a sauve qui peut asserts itself in his answer. In Isaiah 4:1 we have another feature of the same social state.

Isaiah 3:6-8. A man shall take hold of his brother — Of his relation, friend, or neighbour. To take hold of another implies entreating his assistance; see Isaiah 4:1; Zechariah 8:23; saying, Thou hast clothing — We are utterly undone, and have neither food nor raiment; but thou hast something left to support the dignity, which we offer to thee; be thou our ruler

And we will be subject to thee. It is taken for granted that there would be no way of redressing all these grievances, and bringing things into order again, but by good magistrates, who should be invested with power by common consent, and exert that power for the good of the community; and let this ruin be under thy hand — Namely, to heal it. In that day he shall swear — To show that he was resolved. Hebrew, he shall lift up, namely, his hand, which was the usual gesture in swearing; I will not be a healer — A repairer of the ruins of the state; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing — I have not sufficient provisions, either of food or raiment, for my own family; much less, as you falsely suppose, for the discharge of so high a trust. For Jerusalem is ruined — The case is desperate, and past relief: it will be to no purpose to attempt affording any; because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord — They have broken the law of God in word and deed, and that in contempt of his authority and defiance of his justice. Their tongue was against the Lord, for they contradicted his prophets, and their doings were against him, for they acted as they spoke; to provoke the eyes of his glory — Of his glorious majesty, whom they ought to reverence and adore; the all-seeing eyes of Him who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, unless with abhorrence.

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.When a man shall take hold ... - In this verse, and the following verses, the prophet continues to describe the calamitous and ruined state that would come upon the Jews; when there would be such a want of wealth and people, that they would seize upon anyone that they thought able to defend them. The act of "taking hold" here denotes "supplication" and "entreaty," as when one in danger or distress clings to that which is near, or which may be likely to aid him; compare Isaiah 4:1; 1 Samuel 15:27,

His brother - His kinsman, or one of the same tribe and family - claiming protection because they belonged to the same family.

Of the house of his father - Descended from the same paternal ancestors as himself. Probably this refers to one of an ancient and opulent family - a man who had kept himself from the civil broils and tumults of the nation, and who had retained his property safe in the midst of the surrounding desolation. In the previous verse, the prophet had said that one characteristic of the times would be a want of respect for "the aged" and "the honorable." He here says that such would be the distress, that a man would be "compelled" to show respect to rank; he would look to the ancient and wealthy families for protection.

Thou hast clothing - In ancient times wealth consisted very much in changes of garments; and the expression, 'thou hast clothing,' is the same as 'you are rich, you are able to assist us;' see Exodus 12:34; Exodus 20:26; Genesis 45:22; 2 Kings 5:5.

And let this ruin ... - This is an expression of entreaty. 'Give us assistance, or defense. We commit our ruined and dilapidated affairs to thee, and implore thy help.' The Septuagint reads this, 'and let my food,' that is, my support, 'be under thee' - do thou furnish me food. There are some other unimportant variations in the ancient versions, but the sense is substantially given in our translation. It is expressive of great distress and anarchy - when there would be no ruler, and every man would seek one for himself. The whole deportment evinced here by the suppliant is one of submission, distress, and humility.

6. Such will be the want of men of wealth and ability, that they will "take hold of" (Isa 4:1) the first man whom they meet, having any property, to make him "ruler."

brother—one having no better hereditary claim to be ruler than the "man" supplicating him.

Thou hast clothing—which none of us has. Changes of raiment are wealth in the East (2Ki 5:5).

ruin—Let our ruined affairs be committed to thee to retrieve.

A man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father; whereas envy ordinarily reigns in near relations, when one brother is advanced far above all the rest.

Thou hast clothing: we are utterly undone, and have neither food nor raiment; but thou hast something yet left to support the dignity which we offer to thee, and to enable thee to execute thine office.

Be thou our ruler: he showeth that misgovernment should cause the dissolution of the government, and that the former governors should be removed either by foreign force, or by domestic insurrection.

Let this ruin be under thine hand, to wit, to heal it, as it is explained in the next verse. Undertake the charge of this tottering state.

When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father,.... One of the same country, kindred, and family; for only one of their brethren, and not a stranger, might rule over them, Deuteronomy 17:15 this taking hold of him may design not so much a literal taking hold of his person, his hand or garment, much less using any forcible measures with him; though indeed the Jews would have took Christ by force, who was one of their brethren, and would have made him a temporal king, which he refused, as this man did here spoken of, John 6:15 but rather an importunate desire and entreaty, urging him, as follows,

saying, thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler; that is, he had good and rich clothing, fit for a ruler or civil magistrate to appear in, which everyone had not, and some scarce any in those troublesome times:

and let this ruin be under thy hand; that is, let thy care, concern, and business, be to raise up the almost ruined state of the city and nation; and let thy hand be under it, to support and maintain it. The Targum is,

"and this power shall be under thy hand;''

thou shalt have power and government over the nation, and the honour and greatness which belong unto it, and all shall be subject unto thee. The Septuagint renders it, "let my meat be under thee", or "from thee", as the Arabic version.

When a man shall {f} take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:

(f) He shows that this plague will be so horrible that contrary to the common manner of men, who by nature are ambitious, no one will be found able or willing to be their governor.

6, 7. Frantic but unsuccessful efforts will be made to induce some one to undertake the task of maintaining order, Isaiah 3:6 is the protasis, Isaiah 3:7 the apodosis. Render: When one man lays hold of another in his father’s house: “Thou hast a cloak, thou shalt he a ruler for us,” &c. It is the election of a local justice (kadi ch. Isaiah 1:10), not of a king or dictator, which is described; “not an isolated, but a frequently observed circumstance” (Cheyne). The choice of the people falls on a landed proprietor who has been fortunate enough to retain his ancestral estate (his “father’s house”), and whose outer garment is a sufficient badge of respectability. On ruler see Isaiah 1:10.

Verse 6. - When a man shall take hold of his brother. A new departure. In the general anarchy described (vers. 4, 5) it will be felt that something must be done. A man will take hold of his brother (i.e. his fellow) in his (i.e. the latter's) father's house, where he lives in seclusion, and say to him, "Thou hast clothing" (or, "thou art decently clad"), "thou must be our ruler; let this ruin" (i.e. "this ruined state") "be under thy band." This ruin; literally, this stumbling-block (see Zephaniah 1:3; and compare the uniform translation of the kindred noun mikshol (Leviticus 19:14; Psalm 119:165; Isaiah 57:14; Jeremiah 6:21; Ezekiel 52:20; 7:10, etc.). The Jewish community is meant, which was full of stumbling itself, and might well cause all those to stumble who came into contact with it. Isaiah 3:6At length there would be no authorities left; even the desire to rule would die out: for despotism is sure to be followed by mob-rule, and mob-rule by anarchy in the most literal sense. The distress would become so great, that whoever had a coat (cloak), so as to be able to clothe himself at all decently, would be asked to undertake the government. "When a man shall take hold of his brother in his father's house, Thou hast a coat, thou shalt be our ruler, and take this ruin under thy hand; he will cry out in that day, I do not want to be a surgeon; there is neither bread nor coat in my house: ye cannot make me the ruler of the people." "his father's house" - this is not an unmeaning trait in the picture of misery. The population would have become so thin and dispirited through hunger, that with a little energy it would be possible to decide within the narrow circle of a family who should be ruler, and to give effect to the decision. "In his father's house:" Beth âbiv is an acc. loci. The father's house is the place where brother meets with brother; and one breaks out with the urgent petition contained in the words, which follow without the introductory "saying" (cf., Isaiah 14:8, Isaiah 14:16, and Isaiah 22:16; Isaiah 33:14). לכה for לך with He otians, a form rarely met with (vid., Genesis 27:37). תּהיה, which would be written תּהי before the predicate, is jussive in meaning, though not in form. "This ruin:" macshelah is used in Zephaniah 1:3 for that which occasions a person's fall; here it signifies what has been overthrown; and as Câshal itself, which means not only to stumble, strip, or slide, but also to fall in consequence of some force applied from without, is not used in connection with falling buildings, it must be introduced here with an allusion to the prosopopeia which follows in Isaiah 3:8. The man who was distinguished above all others, or at any rate above many others, by the fact that he could still dress himself decently (even if it were only in a blouse), should be made supreme ruler or dictator (cf., kâtzin, Judges 11:6); and the state which lay so miserably in ruins should be under his hand, i.e., his direction, protection, and care (2 Kings 8:20; Genesis 41:35, cf., Isaiah 16:9, where the plural is used instead of the ordinary singular yâd.) The apodosis to the protasis introduced with Chi as a particle of time (when) commences in Isaiah 3:7. The answer given by the brother to the earnest petition is introduced with "he will raise (viz., his voice, Isaiah 24:14) in that day, saying." It is given in this circumstantial manner because it is a solemn protest. He does not want to be a Chobēsh, i.e., a binder, namely of the broken arms, and bones, and ribs of the ruined state (Isaiah 30:26; Isaiah 1:6; Isaiah 61:1). The expression ehyeh implies that he does not like it, because he is conscious of his inability. He has not confidence enough in himself, and the assumption that he has a coat is a false cone: he not only has no coat at home (we must remember that the conversation is supposed to take place in his father's house), but he has not any bread; so that it is utterly impossible for a naked, starving man like him to do what is suggested ("in my house," ubebethi with a Vav of causal connection: Ges. 155, 1, c).
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