Isaiah 3:9
The show of their countenance does 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.
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(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.

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. "Hero and man of war, judge and prophet, and soothsayer and elder; captains of fifty, and the highly distinguished, and counsellors, and masters in art, and those skilled in muttering." As the state had grown into a military state under Uzziah-Jotham, the prophet commences in both vv. with military officers, viz., the gibbor, i.e., commanders whose bravery had been already tried; the "man of war" (ish imlchâmâh), i.e., private soldiers who had been equipped and well trained (see Ezekiel 39:20); and the "captain of fifty" (sar Chamisshim), leaders of the smallest divisions of the army, consisting of only fifty men (pentekontarchos, 2 Kings 1:9, etc.). The prominent members of the state are all mixed up together; "the judge" (shophet), i.e., the officers appointed by the government to administer justice; "the elder" (zâkēn), i.e., the heads of families and the senators appointed by the town corporations; the "counsellor" (yōetz), those nearest to the king; the "highly distinguished" (nesu panim), lit., those whose personal appearance (panim) was accepted, i.e., welcome and regarded with honour (Saad.: wa'gı̄h, from wa'gh, the face of appearance), that is to say, persons of influence, not only on account of their office, but also on account of wealth, age, goodness, etc.; "masters in art" (Chacam Charâshim: lxx σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων ), or, as Jerome has very well rendered it, in artibus mechanicis exercitatus easque callide tractans (persons well versed in mechanical arts, and carrying them out with skill). In the Chaldean captivities skilled artisans are particularly mentioned as having been carried away (2 Kings 24:14.; Jeremiah 24:1; Jeremiah 29:2); so that there can be no doubt whatever that Charâshim (from Cheresh) is to be understood as signifying mechanical and not magical arts, as Gesenius, Hitzig, and Meier suppose, and therefore that Chacam Charâshim does not mean "wizards," as Ewald renders it (Chărâshim is a different word from Chârâshim, fabri, from Chârâsh, although in 1 Chronicles 4:14, cf., Nehemiah 11:35, the word is regularly pointed חרשׁים even in this personal sense). Moreover, the rendering "wizards" produces tautology, inasmuch as masters of the black art are cited as nebon lachash, "skilled in muttering." Lachash is the whispering or muttering of magical formulas; it is related both radically and in meaning to nachash, enchantment (Arabic nachs, misfortune); it is derived from lachash, sibilare, to hiss (a kindred word to nâchash; hence nâchâsh, a serpent). Beside this, the masters of the black art are also represented as kosem, which, in accordance with the radical idea of making fast, swearing, conjuring, denoted a soothsayer following heathen superstitions, as distinguished from the nabi, of false Jehovah prophet (we find this as early as Deuteronomy 18:10, Deuteronomy 18:14).

(Note: According to the primary meaning of the whole thema, which is one of hardness, rigidity, firmness, aksama (hi. of kâsam) signifies, strictly speaking, to make sure, i.e., to swear, either by swearing to the truth and certainty of a thing, or by making a person swear that he will do or not do a certain thing, by laying as it were a kasam upon him. The kal, on the other hand (kasama), gets its meaning to divide from the turn given to the radical idea in the substantive kism, which signifies, according to the original lexicographers, something fixed ( equals nası̄b), definite, i.e., a definite portion. There is just the same association of ideas in ‛azama as in aksama, namely, literally to be firm or make firm, i.e., to direct one's will firmly towards an object or place; also to direct one's will firmly towards a person, to adjure him to do a thing or not to do it; sometimes with a softer meaning, to urge or invite a person to anything, at other times to recite conjuring formulas (‛azâim.)

These came next to bread and water, and were in a higher grade the props of the state. They are mixed together in this manner without regular order, because the powerful and splendid state was really a quodlibet of things Jewish and heathen; and when the wrath of Jehovah broke out, the godless glory would soon become a mass of confusion.

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