Isaiah 3:6
When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, You have clothing, be you our ruler, and let this ruin be under your 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. "To creep into the cavities of the stone-blocks, and into the clefts of the rocks, before the terrible look of Jehovah, and before the glory of His majesty, when He arises to put the earth in terror." Thus ends the fourth strophe of this "dies irae, dies illa," which is appended to the earlier prophetic word. But there follows, as an epiphonem, this nota bene in Isaiah 2:22 : Oh, then, let man go, in whose nose is a breath; for what is he estimated at? The Septuagint leaves this v. out altogether. But was it so utterly unintelligible then? Jerome adopted a false pointing, and has therefore given this marvellous rendering: excelsus (bâmâh!) reputatus est ipse, by which Luther was apparently misled. But if we look backwards and forwards, it is impossible to mistake the meaning of the verse, which must be regarded not only as the resultant of what precedes it, but also as the transition to what follows. It is preceded by the prediction of the utter demolition of everything which ministers to the pride and vain confidence of men; and in Isaiah 3:1. the same prediction is resumed, with a more special reference to the Jewish state, from which Jehovah is about to take away every prop, so that it shall utterly collapse. Accordingly the prophet exhorts, in Isaiah 2:22, to a renunciation of trust in man, and everything belonging to him, just as in Psalm 118:8-9; Psalm 146:3, and Jeremiah 17:5. The construction is as general as that of a gnome. The dat. Commodi לכם (Ges. 154, 3, e) renders the exhortation both friendly and urgent: from regard to yourselves, for your own good, for your own salvation, desist from man, i.e., from your confidence in him, in whose nose (in cujus naso, the singular, as in Job 27:3; whereas the plural is used in Genesis 2:7 in the same sense, in nares ejus, "into his nostrils") is a breath, a breath of life, which God gave to him, and can take back as soon as He will (Job 34:14; Psalm 104:29). Upon the breath, which passes out and in through his nose, his whole earthly existence is suspended; and this, when once lost, is gone for ever (Job 7:7). It is upon this breath, therefore, that all the confidence placed in man must rest - a bad soil and foundation! Under these conditions, and with this liability to perish in a moment, the worth of man as a ground of confidence is really nothing. This thought is expressed here in the form of a question: At (for) what is he estimated, or to be estimated? The passive participle nechshâb combines with the idea of the actual (aestimatus) that of the necessary (aestimandus), and also of the possible or suitable (aestimabilis); and that all the more because the Semitic languages have no special forms for the latter notions. The Beth is Beth pretı̄, corresponding to the Latin genitive (quanti) or ablative (quanto) - a modification of the Beth instrumenti, the price being regarded as the medium of exchange or purchase: "at what is he estimated," not with what is he compared, which would be expressed by ‛eth (Isaiah 53:12; compare μετά, Luke 22:37) or ‛im (Psalm 88:5). The word is בּמּה, not בּמּה, because this looser form is only found in cases where a relative clause follows (eo quod, Ecclesiastes 3:22), and not bama equals h, because this termination with ā is used exclusively where the next word begins with Aleph, or where it is a pausal word (as in 1 Kings 22:21); in every other case we have bammeh. The question introduced with this quanto (quanti), "at what," cannot be answered by any positive definition of value. The worth of man, regarded in himself, and altogether apart from God, is really nothing.

The proclamation of judgment pauses at this porisma, but only for the purpose of gathering fresh strength. The prophet has foretold in four strophes the judgment of God upon every exalted thing in the kosmos that has fallen away from communion with God, just as Amos commences his book with a round of judgments, which are uttered in seven strophes of uniform scope, bursting like seven thunder-claps upon the nations of the existing stage of history. The seventh stroke falls upon Judah, over which the thunderstorm rests after finding such abundant booty. And in the same manner Isaiah, in the instance before us, reduces the universal proclamation of judgment to one more especially affecting Judah and Jerusalem. The current of the address breaks through the bounds of the strophe; and the exhortation in Isaiah 2:22 not to trust in man, the reason for which is assigned in what precedes, also forms a transition from the universal proclamation of judgment to the more special one in Isaiah 3:1, where the prophet assigns a fresh ground for the exhortation.

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