Isaiah 3:9
The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) They declare their sin as Sodom.—The comparison is, it should be remembered, of probably an earlier date than that in Isaiah 1:10. In the reign of Ahaz (perhaps the prophet, editing in his old age, thought also of that of Manasseh) there was not even the homage which vice pays to virtue by feigning a virtue which it has not. Men fell into an utter shamelessness, like that of the cities of the plain (Genesis 19:5), generally in the luxury and profligacy of their lives (Ezekiel 16:49), perhaps also with a more definite and horrible resemblance (1Kings 14:24; 1Kings 15:12; 2Kings 23:7).

Woe unto their soul!—In the midst of the confusions of the times the prophet is bidden to proclaim that the law of a righteous retribution would be seen working even there.

Isaiah 3:9. The show of their countenance — Their pride, wantonness, and impiety, manifestly show themselves in their very looks and whole behaviour, and will be swift witnesses against them, both before God and men. They declare their sin as Sodom — They commit it publicly, casting off all fear of God, and reverence to men; and they glory in it. They hide it not — As men do, who have any remains of modesty or ingenuity. They have rewarded evil to themselves — That is, procured a fit recompense for their wickedness, even utter ruin; or, they have done evil, &c. They cannot blame God, but themselves: their destruction is wholly from themselves. The word הכרה, rendered show, in the first clause of the verse, not occurring elsewhere in the Bible, is of rather uncertain signification. Bishop Lowth renders it, steadfastness; and Dr. Waterland, impudence. The former translates the whole verse thus: “The steadfastness of their countenance witnesseth against them: for their sin, like Sodom, they publish, they hide it not: wo to their souls! for upon themselves have they brought down evil.”

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.The show of their countenance - The word rendered "the show" is probably derived from a word signifying "to know," or "to recognize," and here denotes "impudence" or "pride." Septuagint, 'The shame of their face.'

Doth witness against them - "Answers" to them; or "responds" to them (ענתה ‛ânetâh). There is a correspondence between the feeling of the heart and the looks, an "answering" of the countenance to the purposes of the soul that shows their true character, and betrays their plans. The prophet refers here to the great law in physiology that the emotions of the heart will be usually "expressed" in the countenance; and that by the marks of pride, vanity, and malice there depicted, we may judge of the heart; or as it is expressed in our translation, that the expression of the face will "witness" against a wicked man.

They declare ... - By their deeds. Their crimes are open and bold. There is no attempt at concealment.

As Sodom - see Genesis 19:5; compare the note at Isaiah 1:10.

Wo unto their soul - They shall bring woe upon themselves; they deserve punishment. This is an expression denoting the highest abhorrence of their crimes.

They have rewarded evil ... - They have brought the punishment upon themselves by their own sins.

9. show—The Hebrew means, "that which may be known by their countenances" [Gesenius and Weiss]. But Maurer translates, "Their respect for person"; so Syriac and Chaldee. But the parallel word "declare" favors the other view. Kimchi, from the Arabic, translates "their hardness" (Job 19:3, Margin), or impudence of countenance (Jer 3:3). They have lost not only the substance of virtue, but its color.

witness—literally, "corresponds" to them; their look answers to their inner character (Ho 5:5).

declare—(Jude 13). "Foaming out their own shame"; so far from making it a secret, "glorying" in it (Php 3:19).

unto themselves—Compare "in themselves" (Pr 1:31; 8:36; Jer 2:19; Ro 1:27).

The show of their countenance doth witness against them; their pride, and wantonness, and impiety manifestly shows itself in their very looks and carriages, and will be swift witness against them both before God and men.

They declare their sin; they act it publicly, casting off all fear of God, and reverence to men, and they glory in it.

They hide it not, as men do who have any remainders of modesty or ingenuity.

They have rewarded, i.e. procured a fit recompence for their wickedness, even utter ruin. Or, they have done; for this word is oft so used, without any signification of a recompence, as Psalm 7:4. They cannot blame me, but themselves; their destruction is wholly from themselves. Compare Hosea 13:9.

The shew of their countenance doth witness against them,.... The word translated "shew" is only used in this place. Some derive it from "to know", in the conjugations Piel and Hiphil; and render it, "the knowledge of their countenance" (f); that is, that which may be known by their countenances; the countenance oftentimes shows what is in the heart, the cruel disposition of the mind, the pride and vanity of it, the uncleanness and lasciviousness that is in it; to this our version agrees, and which is confirmed by the Chaldee paraphrase,

"the knowledge of their countenance in judgment doth testify against them;''

as they appear there, so it may be judged of them; their guilt flies in their face, and fills them with shame and confusion; and so the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "the shame of their face"; but others derive it from which has the signification of hardness in the Arabic language, and as it is thought by some to have in Job 19:3 and render it, "the hardness of their countenance"; so R. Joseph Kimchi, and others (g), meaning their impudence (h); not only their words and actions, but their impudent looks, show what they are; which agrees with what follows:

and they declare their sin as Sodom, and

hide it not; commit it openly, without fear or shame; glory in it, and boast of it, as the Jews did in their crucifixion of Christ, and their evil treatment of him:

woe to their soul, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves; they have brought upon themselves, soul and body, the just recompence of reward; they have been the cause of their own ruin, and have wronged their own souls.

(f) "cognitio vultus eorum", Munster, Vatablus, V. L. (g) "Obfermatio", Janius & Tremellius; "durities", Piscator. (h) So Schindler renders the Arabic word, "hacar", impudence. Vid. Castel. Lexic. col. 846.

The {h} show of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe to their soul! for they have rewarded evil to themselves.

(h) When God examines their deed on which they now set an impudent face, he will find the mark of their impiety in their forehead.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. The shew of their countenance] The safest translation is that of R.V. marg., their respecting of persons, i.e. their partiality in judgment. The familiar phrase “respect persons” (see Deuteronomy 1:17, &c.) appears here in the nominal form, the usual infinitive being replaced by a verbal noun. It is not an objection to this view that such a charge only applies to a particular class. The prophet deals with the nation throughout as a political unity, and he knows that the whole people must suffer for the sins of the rulers.

they declare … hide it not] or, they declare their sin, like Sodom, undisguisedly. On the construction see Davidson, Synt. § 41, R. 3.

Woe unto their soul …] or, Woe to themselves for they have done themselves evil. The injustice they have done to others witnesses against them and recoils on their own heads.

Verse 9. - The show of their countenance doth witness against them. This is not in itself a sin, but it is a sign of frequent and habitual sin. Vice, long indulged in, stamps its mark upon the countenance, giving men what is called "a bad expression" - a guilty and hardened look. It does not require a skilled physiognomist to detect at a glance the habitual criminal or sensualist. They declare their sin as Sodom. Not only does their countenance betray them, but, like the Sodomites (Genesis 19:5, 9), they boldly and impudently declare their wicked purposes beforehand, and make no attempt at concealment. Hypocrisy has been said to be the homage that vice pays to virtue. Where there is none, where vice has ceased to shroud or veil itself, a very advanced stage of wickedness has been reached. They have rewarded evil unto themselves. They have "received in themselves the recompense of their error which was meet" (Romans 1:27). Their sins have at once marred their countenance and injured their moral nature. Isaiah 3:9But Israel, instead of walking in the consciousness of being a constant and favourite object of these majestic, earnestly admonishing eyes, was diligently engaged in bidding them defiance both in word and deed, not even hiding its sin from fear of them, but exposing them to view in the most shameless manner. - "The look of their faces testifies against them, and their sin they make known like Sodom, without concealing it: woe to their soul! for they do themselves harm." In any case, the prophet refers to the impudence with which their enmity against God was shamelessly stamped upon their faces, without even the self-condemnation which leads in other cases to a diligent concealment of the sin. But we cannot follow Luzzatto and Jos. Kimchi, who take haccârath as used directly for azzuth (impudence), inasmuch as the Arabic hakara (hakir‛a), to which Kimchi appeals, signifies to be astonished and to stare (see at Job 19:3). And in this case there would be nothing strange in the substantive form, which would be a piel formation like בּלּהה חטּאה. But it may be a hiphil formation (Ewald, 156, a); and this is incomparably the more probable of the two, as hiccir panim is a very common phrase. It signifies to look earnestly, keenly, or inquiringly in the face of a person, to fix the eye upon him; and, when used of a judge, to take the part of a person, by favouring him unjustly (Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 16:19). But this latter idea, viz., "their acceptance of the person, or partiality" (according to Proverbs 24:23; Proverbs 28:21), is inadmissible here, for the simple reason that the passage refers to the whole nation, and not particularly to the judges. "The look of their faces" (haccârath p'nēhem) is to be understood in an objective sense, viz., the appearance (τὸ εἶδος, Luke 9:29), like the agnitio of Jerome, id quo se agnoscendum dat vultus eorum. This was probably the expression commonly employed in Hebrew for what we designate by a very inappropriate foreign word, viz., physiognomy, i.e., the expression of the face which reveals the state of the mind. This expression of their countenance testified against them (anah b', as in Isaiah 59:12), for it was the disturbed and distorted image of their sin, which not only could not be hidden, but did not even wish to be; in a word, of their azzuth (Ecclesiastes 8:1). And it did not even rest with this open though silent display: they spoken openly of their sin (higgid in its simplest meaning, palam facere, from nâgad, nagâda, to be open, evident) without making any secret of it, like the Sodomites, who publicly proclaimed their fleshly lusts (Genesis 19). Jerusalem was spiritually Sodom, as the prophet called it in Isaiah 1:10. By such barefaced sinning they did themselves harm (gâmal, lit., to finish, then to carry out, to show practically).

(Note: It may now be accepted as an established fact, that the verb gâmal is connected with the Arabic 'gamala, to collect together, 'gamula, to be perfect, kamala, kamula id., and gâmar, to finish (see Hupfeld on Psalm 7:5, and Frst, Heb. Lex.).)

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