Isaiah 32:12
They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.
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(12) They shall lament for the teats . . .—Better, shall smite upon the breasts. The Hebrew nouns for “teats” and “fields,” Shâdaim and Sadè, have an assonance which may be represented by the Latin ubera and ubertas. In the renewed, unabated luxury of the women of Jerusalem Isaiah sees the precursor of another time of desolation like that which he had foretold before in the reign of Ahaz (Isaiah 7:24). “Thorns and briers” are again to take the place of the fair gardens in the outskirts of Jerusalem during the invasion of Sennacherib, as they had once before in that of Rezin and Pekah. The “houses of joy” are manifestly what we should call the stately villas of the rich.

32:9-20 When there was so much provocation given to the holy God, bad times might be expected. Alas! how many careless ones there are, who support self-indulgence by shameful niggardliness! We deserve to be deprived of the supports of life, when we make them the food of lusts. Let such tremble and be troubled. Blessed times shall be brought in by the pouring out of the Spirit from on high; then, and not till then, there will be good times. The present state of the Jews shall continue until a more abundant pouring out of the Spirit from on high. Peace and quietness shall be found in the way and work of righteousness. True satisfaction is to be had only in true religion. And real holiness is real happiness now, and shall be perfect happiness, that is, perfect holiness for ever. The good seed of the word shall be sown in all places, and be watered by Divine grace; and laborious, patient labourers shall be sent forth into God's husbandry.They shall lament for the teats - Interpreters have been not a little perplexed by this expression. Lowth supposes it is to be taken in connection with the previous verse, and that it denotes that sackcloth was to be girded upon the breast as well as upon the loins. Others have supposed that it denotes to 'smite upon the breasts,' as a token of grief; others, that the word 'breast' here denotes children by a synecdoche, as having been nourished by the breast, and that the women here were called to mourn over their children. But it is evident, I think, that the word breasts here is used to denote that which nourishes or sustains life, and is synonymous with fruitful fields. It is so used in Homer (Iliad, ix. 141), where οίθαρ ἀρούρης oithar arourēs denotes fertility of land. And here the sense doubtless is, that they would mourn over the fields which once contributed to sustain life, but which were now desolate. In regard to the grammatical difficulties of the place, Rosenmuller and Gesenius may be consulted.

The pleasant fields - Margin, as in Hebrew, 'Fields of desire.'

12. lament for … teats—rather, shall smite on their breasts in lamentation "for thy pleasant fields" (Na 2:7) [Maurer]. "Teats" in English Version is used for fertile lands, which, like breasts, nourish life. The transition from "ye" to "they" (Isa 32:11, 12) is frequent. They shall lament for the teats; either,

1. Properly, because through famine your teats are destitute of milk for the nourishment of your poor children. Or rather,

2. Metaphorically, as the following words explain it,

for the pleasant and fruitful fields, which like teats yielded you plentiful and excellent nourishment, for which the land was said to flow with milk, Ezekiel 20:6. And the earth being compared to the womb that bare us, Job 1:21, it is not strange if its fruitful fields be compared to the breasts which nourish us. They shall lament for the teats,.... Either of the beasts of the field, that should be dried up, and give no milk, through the great drought that should be upon the land; or through the waste of the herbage by the enemy; or else of the women, their breasts and paps, which should afford no milk for their infants, through the famine that should press them sore, which would occasion great lamentation, both in mothers and children; though some think are to be understood of the fields, and are explained by them in the next clause; the fruitful earth being compared to a woman, its fields are like breasts or paps, which yield food and nourishment, but now should not afford any, and therefore there would be cause of lamentation. Jarchi interprets it, "they shall beat upon their breasts" (m) a gesture used in lamentation to express exceeding great grief and sorrow, Luke 18:13 some, because the word rendered "lament" is of the masculine gender, and so not applicable to women, render the words in connection with the preceding verse Isaiah 32:11 thus,

"gird sackcloth on your loins, and on your mourning breasts'' (n);

though they may be interpreted indefinitely, "there shall be lamentation for the teats", among all sorts of people, men, women, and children:

for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine; as the fields are when covered with corn and grass, and the vines with clusters of grapes, but now should not be, either through drought, or by being foraged and trampled on by the enemy.

(m) So it is explained in T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 27. 2.((n) So Castalio.

They shall lament for the {i} breasts, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.

(i) By the breasts he means the plentiful fields, by which men are nourished as children with the breast: or, the mothers for sorrow and heaviness will lack milk.

12. They shall lament for the teats] R.V. gives a better translation: they shall smite upon the breasts; but the construction is difficult. The verb is a masculine plural participle and signifies strictly “to mourn.” The word for “breasts” might by a slight change of points be read as “fields”; hence some commentators think that the reference to the women is here abandoned, and render, “men shall mourn for the fields.” If the R.V. is right we must suppose that the word “mourn” (like the Greek κόπτεσθαι) meant originally “smite upon (the breast)” and is here used in its literal sense. The clause would be somewhat more easily construed if read as the conclusion of Isaiah 32:11 (Duhm, “smiting on the breasts”), but even with this change the masculine gender is exceedingly harsh.Verse 12. - They shall lament for the teats, etc.; rather, they shall beat upon the breasts for the pleasant fields, etc. (so the LXX., the Vulgate, Jarchi, Gesenius, Ewald, Maurer, Knobel, Delitzsch, and Mr. Cheyne). Dr. Kay prefers the rendering of the Authorized Version, understanding by "the teats" such "dry breasts" as Hosea speaks of (Hosea 9:14). But nothing has been said in this place of any such affliction. For the pleasant fields, etc.; i.e. for their loss (see ver. 10). A third fruit of the blessing is the naming and treating of every one according to his true character. "The fool will no more be called a nobleman, nor the crafty a gentleman. For a fool speaks follies, and his heart does godless things, to practise tricks and to speak error against Jehovah, to leave the soul of hungry men empty, and to withhold the drink of thirsty ones. And the craft of a crafty man is evil, who devises stratagems to destroy suffering ones by lying words, even when the needy exhibits his right. But a noble man devises noble things, and to noble things he adheres." Nobility of birth and wealth will give place to nobility of character, so that the former will not exist or not be recognised without the latter. Nâdı̄bh is properly one who is noble in character, and then, dropping the ethical meaning, one who is noble by rank. The meaning of the word generosus follows the same course in the opposite direction. Shōă‛ is the man who is raised to eminence by the possession of property; the gentleman, as in Job 34:19. The prophet explains for himself in what sense he uses the words nâbhâl and kı̄lai. We see from his explanation that kı̄lai neither signifies the covetous, from kūl (Saad.), nor the spendthrift, from killâh (Hitzig). Jerome gives the correct rendering, viz., fraudulentus; and Rashi and Kimchi very properly regard it as a contraction of nekhı̄lai. It is an adjective form derived from כּיל equals נכיל, like שׂיא equals נשׂיא (Job 20:6). The form כּלי in Isaiah 32:1 is used interchangeably with this, merely for the sake of the resemblance in sound to כּליו (machinatoris machinae pravae). In Isaiah 32:6, commencing with ki (for), the fact that the nâbhâl (fool) and kı̄lai (crafty man) will lose their titles of honour, is explained on the simple ground that such men are utterly unworthy of them. Nâbhâl is a scoffer at religion, who thinks himself an enlightened man, and yet at the same time has the basest heart, and is a worthless egotist. The infinitives with Lamed show in what the immorality ('âven) consists, with which his heart is so actively employed. In Isaiah 32:6, ūbhedabbēr ("and if he speak") is equivalent to, "even in the event of a needy man saying what is right and well founded:" Vâv equals et in the sense of etiam ((cf., 2 Samuel 1:23; Psalm 31:12; Hosea 8:6; Ecclesiastes 5:6); according to Knobel, it is equivalent to et quidem, as in Ecclesiastes 8:2; Amos 3:11; Amos 4:10; whereas Ewald regards it as Vav conj. (283, d), "and by going to law with the needy," but את־אביון would be the construction in this case (vid., 2 Kings 25:6). According to Isaiah 32:8, not only does the noble man devise what is noble, but as such (הוּא) he adheres to it. We might also adopt this explanation, "It is not upon gold or upon chance that he rises;" but according to the Arabic equivalents, qūm signifies persistere here.
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