Isaiah 3:7
In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.
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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.In that day shall he swear - Hebrew, ישׁא yı̂shā' 'Shall he lift up' - that is, the voice, or the hand. To lift up the hand was one of the modes of taking an oath. Perhaps it means only that he should lift up "the voice" - that is, "should answer;" compare Numbers 14:1. The Vulgate, the Septuagint, and the Chaldee, read it simply 'he shall answer.'

I will not be an healer - Hebrew, 'a binder up,' Isaiah 1:6. The Vulgate renders it, 'I am not a physician.' The Septuagint and the Chaldee, 'I am not sufficient to be a leader.' The meaning is, that the state of affairs was so ruinous and calamitous that he would not attempt to restore them; as if, in the body, disease should have so far progressed that he would not undertake to restore the person, and have him "die" under his hands, so as to expose himself to the reproach of being an unsuccessfill and unskillful physician.

Is neither bread nor clothing - I am not rich. I have not the means of providing for the needs of the people, or to maintain the rank of a ruler. 'It is customary,' says Sir John Chardin, 'to gather together an immense quantity of clothes, for their fashions never alter.' 'The kings of Persia have great wardrobes, where they have always many hundreds of habits ready, designed for presents, and sorted.' - "Lowth." The description here is one of very great calamity and anarchy. So great would be the ruin and danger, that men would be unwilling to be chosen to the office of princes and rulers, and none could be found who would desire to possess the highest honors of the nation. Generally men "aspire" to office; here they were unwilling, on account of the disordered and ruined state of affairs, even to accept of it.

7. swear—literally, "lift up," namely, his hand; the gesture used in solemn attestation. Or, his voice, that is, answer; so Vulgate.

healer—of the body politic, incurably diseased (Isa 1:6).

neither … clothing—so as to relieve the people and maintain a ruler's dignity. A nation's state must be bad indeed, when none among men, naturally ambitious, is willing to accept office.

He shall swear, Heb. he shall lift up; understand either,

1. His voice; he shall cry aloud, to show his earnestness in refusing the offer; or,

2. His hand, which was the usual gesture in swearing, Genesis 14:22 Deu 32:40, &c., to show his resolvedness.

An healer; a repairer of the ruins of the state.

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. In that day shall he swear,.... Or "lift up", that is, his hand (e), which was a gesture used in swearing, and therefore is so rendered; the meaning is, that he shall at once immediately give an answer, and for the solemn confirmation of it shall say an oath with it, saying,

I will not be a healer, or "a binder"; that is, of wounds, of political wounds, made in the nation, and which were incurable. See Isaiah 1:6 for the meaning is, that he neither was fit to be, nor could he be, a healer of the distempered state of the nation, it was so desperately bad. The Targum is,

"I am not fit to be a head or governor;''

and so Kimchi explains it of a governor, who, he says, is so called, because he binds and imprisons those that transgress his commands; and to this sense Jarchi and Abarbinel:

for in my house is neither bread nor clothing; not a sufficiency of either to support such grandeur and dignity; not enough to keep a proper table, and a suitable equipage:

make me not a ruler of the people; this shows that the state of the nation must be very bad indeed, that men, who are naturally ambitious of power and honour, should refuse government when offered to them.

(e) "attollet manum", Piscator.

In that day shall he {g} swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.

(g) Fear will cause him to forswear himself, rather than to take such a dangerous charge upon himself.

7. swear] better, protest, lit. “lift up (sc. his voice).”

healer] lit. “binder-up” (of the wounds of the state), see Isaiah 1:6in my house … clothing] “I am as poor as any of you.”Verse 7. - In that day shall he swear; or, lift up his voice - speaking with emotion (Kay). I will not be an healer; literally, a binder-up (comp. Isaiah 1:6); "I will not undertake to heal the calamities of the state." In my house is neither bread nor clothing; i.e. "I am not a wealthy man; I have no stores laid up; I am quite unfit to be the people's ruler." Make me not; or, ye shall not make me. The decently clad man entirely declines to be advanced to the helm of the state. "For, behold, the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, takes away from Jerusalem and from Judah supporter and means of support, every support of bread and every support of water." The divine name given here, "The Lord, Jehovah of hosts," with which Isaiah everywhere introduces the judicial acts of God (cf., Isaiah 1:24; Isaiah 10:16, Isaiah 10:33; Isaiah 19:4), is a proof that the proclamation of judgment commences afresh here. Trusting in man was the crying sin, more especially of the times of Uzziah-Jotham. The glory of the kingdom at that time carried the wrath of Jehovah within it. The outbreak of that wrath commenced in the time of Ahaz; and even under Hezekiah it was merely suspended, not changed. Isaiah foretells this outbreak of wrath. He describes how Jehovah will lay the Jewish state in ruins, by taking away the main supports of its existence and growth. "Supporter and means of support" (mash'en and mash'enah) express, first of all, the general idea. The two nouns, which are only the masculine and feminine forms of one and the same word (compare Micah 2:4; Nahum 2:11, and the examples from the Syriac and Arabic in Ewald, 172, c), serve to complete the generalization: fulcra omne genus (props of every kind, omnigena). They are both technical terms, denoting the prop which a person uses to support anything, whilst mish'an signifies that which yields support; so that the three correspond somewhat to the Latin fulcrum, fultura, fulcimen. Of the various means of support, bread and wine are mentioned first, not in a figurative sense, but as the two indispensable conditions and the lowest basis of human life. Life is supported by bread and water: it walks, as it were, upon the crutch of bread, so that "breaking the staff of bread" (Leviticus 26:26; Ezekiel 4:16; Ezekiel 5:16; Ezekiel 14:13; Psalm 105:16) is equivalent to physical destruction. The destruction of the Jewish state would accordingly be commenced by a removal on the part of Jehovah of all the support afforded by bread and water, i.e., all the stores of both. And this was literally fulfilled, for both in the Chaldean and Roman times Jerusalem perished in the midst of just such terrible famines as are threatened in the curses in Leviticus 26, and more especially in Deuteronomy 28; and in both cases the inhabitants were reduced to such extremities, that women devoured their own children (Lamentations 2:20; Josephus, Wars of Jews, vi. 3, 3, 4). It is very unjust, therefore, on the part of modern critics, such as Hitzig, Knobel, and Meier, to pronounce Isaiah 3:1 a gloss, and, in fact, a false one. Gesenius and Umbreit retracted this suspicion. The construction of the v. is just the same as that of Isaiah 25:6; and it is Isaiah's custom to explain his own figures, as we have already observed when comparing Isaiah 1:7. and Isaiah 1:23 with what preceded them. "Every support of bread and every support of water" are not to be regarded in this case as an explanation of the general idea introduced before, "supporters and means of support," but simply as the commencement of the detailed expansion of the idea. For the enumeration of the supports which Jehovah would take away is continued in the next two verses.
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