Isaiah 5:10
Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.
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(10) Ten acres.—The disproportion was as great as that which we have seen in recent times in vine countries suffering from the Phylloxera or the oidium, or in the potato failures of Ireland. The bath was equal to seventy-two Roman sextarii (Jos. Ant. viii. 2-9), about seven and a half gallons, and this was to be the whole produce of ten acres, from which an average yield of 500 baths might have been expected. The Hebrew word for “acre” means primarily the ground that could be ploughed in a day by a yoke of oxen.

The seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.—Here also there is an all but total failure. The homer was a dry measure of thirty-two pecks, and the ephah was equal to one-tenth of a homer (Ezekiel 45:11; Exodus 16:36). This scanty crop—Ruth’s gleanings for a single day (Ruth 2:17)—one-tenth of the seed sown, was to take the place of the “thirtyfold, sixty, and a hundredfold” (Genesis 26:12; Matthew 13:8) of average or prosperous years.

5:8-23 Here is a woe to those who set their hearts on the wealth of the world. Not that it is sinful for those who have a house and a field to purchase another; but the fault is, that they never know when they have enough. Covetousness is idolatry; and while many envy the prosperous, wretched man, the Lord denounces awful woes upon him. How applicable to many among us! God has many ways to empty the most populous cities. Those who set their hearts upon the world, will justly be disappointed. Here is woe to those who dote upon the pleasures and the delights of sense. The use of music is lawful; but when it draws away the heart from God, then it becomes a sin to us. God's judgments have seized them, but they will not disturb themselves in their pleasures. The judgments are declared. Let a man be ever so high, death will bring him low; ever so mean, death will bring him lower. The fruit of these judgments shall be, that God will be glorified as a God of power. Also, as a God that is holy; he shall be owned and declared to be so, in the righteous punishment of proud men. Those are in a woful condition who set up sin, and who exert themselves to gratify their base lusts. They are daring in sin, and walk after their own lusts; it is in scorn that they call God the Holy One of Israel. They confound and overthrow distinctions between good and evil. They prefer their own reasonings to Divine revelations; their own devices to the counsels and commands of God. They deem it prudent and politic to continue profitable sins, and to neglect self-denying duties. Also, how light soever men make of drunkenness, it is a sin which lays open to the wrath and curse of God. Their judges perverted justice. Every sin needs some other to conceal it.Yea, ten acres - In this verse a reason is rendered why the houses mentioned in the previous verse should become desolate. The reason is, that the land would become sterile and barren, as a divine judgment for their oppression. To what particular time the prophet refers, here, is not apparent. It is certain, however, that the land of Canaan was frequently given up to sterility. The withholding of the early and latter rains, or the neglect of cultivation from any cause, would produce this. At present, this formerly fertile country is among the most unproductive on the face of the earth.

Ten acres - An "acre," among the Hebrews, was what could be plowed by one yoke of oxen in a day. It did not differ materially from our acre.

Shall yield one bath - One bath of wine. The "bath" was a Jewish measure for liquids, containing about seven gallons and a half. To say that "ten acres" should produce no more wine than this; was the same as to say that it would produce almost nothing.

And the seed of an homer - An "homer" was a Hebrew measure for grain, containing about eight bushels.

An ephah - The "ephah" contained about three pecks. Of course, to say that an homer of seed should produce about three pecks, would be the same as saying that it would produce almost nothing.

10. acres—literally, "yokes"; as much as one yoke of oxen could plow in a day.


bath—of wine; seven and a half gallons.

homer … ephah—Eight bushels of seed would yield only three pecks of produce (Eze 45:11). The ephah and bath, one-tenth of an homer.

Ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, to wit, of wine. The bath contained about eight gallons. Thus an acre did yield one gallon.

The seed of an homer shall yield an ephah which was of the same quantity with the bath, only the bath was the measure of liquid things, the ephah of dry and an ephah was the tenth part of an homer, Ezekiel 45:11. So instead of that great increase which that fruitful land commonly yielded, they should lose nine parts of their seed. Thus a fruitful land was made barren for their wickedness, according to God’s threatening, Psalm 107:34; and they had as little comfort in their lands as in their houses; which were the two kinds of their purchases, Isaiah 5:8.

Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath,.... They shall get nothing by laying field to field, for their fields shall be barren and unfruitful; though Jarchi and Kimchi take this to be a reason why their houses should be desolate, and without inhabitants, because there would be a famine, rendering the words, "for ten acres", &c. The Targum makes this barrenness to be the punishment of their sin, in not paying tithes; paraphrasing the words thus,

"for because of the sin of not giving tithes, the place of ten acres of vineyard shall produce one bath.''

The word signifies "yokes", and is used of yokes of oxen; hence the Septuagint and Arabic versions render the words thus, "for where ten yoke of oxen work", or "plough, it shall make one flagon"; and so Kimchi explains them, the place in a vineyard, which ten yoke of oxen plough in one day, shall yield no more wine than one bath. A bath is a measure for liquids; according to Godwin (a), it held four gallons and a half; a small quantity indeed, to be produced out of ten acres of ground; an acre, according to our English measure, being a quantity of land containing four square roods, or one hundred sixty square poles or perches:

and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah: that is, as much seed as an "homer" would hold, which was a dry measure, and which, according to the above writer, contained five bushels and five gallons, should yield only an ephah, which was the tenth part of an homer, Ezekiel 45:11 so that it would only produce a tenth part of the seed sown.

(a) Moses and Aaron, l. 6. c. 9.

Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one {m} bath, and the seed of an {n} homer shall yield an {o} ephah.

(m) Which contains about 5 gallons, so that every acre would yield only half a gallon.

(n) Which contains 50 gallons.

(o) An ephah contains 5 gallons and is in dry things as much as a bath is in liquids.

10. The land shall be smitten with the curse of barrenness; Jehovah’s remedy for land-grabbing.

ten acres] lit. ten yoke; a yoke of land being

“As much as two stout oxen

Could plough from morn till night.”

one bath] (of wine),—about 8 gallons.

seed of a homer … ephah] The ephah is a dry measure of the same capacity as the bath; the homer is ten ephahs (Ezekiel 45:11).

Verse 10. - Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath. The greed of adding field to field will he punished by the curse of barrenness, which God will send upon the laud. Dr. Kay-calculates that ten acres (Roman) of vineyard ought to yield upon the average five hundred baths (or four thousand gallons) instead of one bath (eight gallons). An homer... an ephah. The "ephah" was the tenth-part of a "homer" (Ezekiel 45:11). Corn lands should return only one-tenth part of the seed sown in them. Isaiah 5:10And the denunciation of punishment is made by him in very similar terms to those which we find here in Isaiah 5:9, Isaiah 5:10 : "Into mine ears Jehovah of hosts: Of a truth many houses shall become a wilderness, great and beautiful ones deserted. For ten yokes of vineyard will yield one pailful, and a quarter of seed-corn will produce a bushel." We may see from Isaiah 22:14 in what sense the prophet wrote the substantive clause, "Into mine ears," or more literally, "In mine ears is Jehovah Zebaoth," viz., He is here revealing Himself to me. In the pointing, בּאזני is written with tiphchah as a pausal form, to indicate to the reader that the boldness of the expression is to be softened down by the assumption of an ellipsis. In Hebrew, "to say into the ears" did not mean to "speak softly and secretly," as Genesis 23:10, Genesis 23:16; Job 33:8, and other passages, clearly show; but to speak in a distinct and intelligible manner, which precludes the possibility of any misunderstanding. The prophet, indeed, had not Jehovah standing locally beside him; nevertheless, he had Him objectively over against his own personality, and was well able to distinguish very clearly the thoughts and words of his own personality, from the words of Jehovah which arose audibly within him. These words informed him what would be the fate of the rich and insatiable landowners. "Of a truth:" אם־לא (if not) introduces an oath of an affirmative character (the complete formula is Chai ani 'im-lo', "as I live if not"), just as 'im (if) alone introduces a negative oath (e.g., Numbers 14:23). The force of the expression 'im-lo' extends not only to rabbim, as the false accentuation with gershayim (double-geresh) would make it appear, but to the whole of the following sentence, as it is correctly accentuated with rebia in the Venetian (1521) and other early editions. A universal desolation would ensue: rabbim (many) does not mean less than all; but the houses (bâttim, as the word should be pronounced, notwithstanding Ewald's objection to Khler's remarks on Zechariah 14:2; cf., Job 2:1-13 :31) constituted altogether a very large number (compare the use of the word "many" in Isaiah 2:3; Matthew 20:28, etc.). מאין is a double, and therefore an absolute, negation (so that there is not, no inhabitant, i.e., not any inhabitant at all). Isaiah 5:10, which commences, with Ci, explains how such a desolation of the houses would be brought about: failure of crops produces famine, and this is followed by depopulation. "Ten zimdē (with dagesh lene, Ewald) of vineyard" are either ten pieces of the size that a man could plough in one day with a yoke of oxen, or possibly ten portions of yoke-like espaliers of vines, i.e., of vines trained on cross laths (the vina jugata of Varro), which is the explanation adopted by Biesenthal. But if we compare 1 Samuel 14:14, the former is to be preferred, although the links are wanting which would enable us to prove that the early Israelites had one and the same system of land measure as the Romans;

(Note: On the jugerum, see Hultsch, Griechische und rmische Metrologie, 1862. The Greek plethron, which was smaller by two and a half, corresponded to some extent to this; also the Homeric tetraguon, which cannot be more precisely defined (according to Eustathius, it was a piece of land which a skilful labourer could plough in one day). According to Herod. ii. 168, in the Egyptian square-measure an a'roura was equal to 150 cubits square. The Palestinian, according to the tables of Julian the Ashkalonite, was the plethron. "The plethron," he says, "was ten perches, or fifteen fathoms, or thirty paces, sixty cubits, ninety feet" (for the entire text, see L. F. V. Fennersberg's Untersuchungen ber alte Langen-, Feld-, und Wegemaase, 1859). Fennersberg's conclusion is, that the tzemed was a plethron, equal in length to ten perches of nine feet each. But the meaning of the word tzemed is of more importance in helping to determine the measure referred to, than the tables of long measure of the architect of Ashkalon, which have been preserved in the imperial collection of laws of Constantine Harmenopulos, and which probably belong to a much later period.)

nevertheless Arab. fddân (in Hauran) is precisely similar, and this word signifies primarily a yoke of oxen, and then a yoke (jugerum) regarded as a measure of land. Ten days' work would only yield a single bath. This liquid measure, which was first introduced in the time of the kings, corresponded to the ephah in dry measure (Ezekiel 45:11). According to Josephus (Ant. viii. 2, 9), it was equal to seventy-two Roman sextarii, i.e., a little more than thirty-three Berlin quarts; but in the time of Isaiah it was probably smaller. The homer, a dry measure, generally called a Cor after the time of the kings, was equal to ten Attic medimnoi;

(Note: Or rather 7 1/2 Attic medimnoi equals 10 Attic metretoi equals 45 Roman modia (see Bckh, Metrologische Untersuchungen, p. 259).)

a medimnos being (according to Josephus, Ant. xv 9, 2) about 15-16ths of a Berlin bushel, and therefore a little more than fifteen pecks. Even if this quantity of corn should be sown, they would not reap more than an ephah.The harvest, therefore, would only yield the tenth part of the sowing, since an ephah was the tenth part of a homer, or three seahs, the usual minimum for one baking (vid., Matthew 13:33). It is, of course, impossible to give the relative measure exactly in our translation.

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