Isaiah 5:14
Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
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(14) Therefore hell hath enlarged herself.—The Hebrew Sheol, or Hades, like “hell” itself in its original meaning, expressed not a place of torment, but the vast shadow – world of death, thought of as being below the earth (Psalm 16:10; Psalm 49:14). Here, as elsewhere (Jonah 2:2; Proverbs 1:12; Proverbs 30:16), it is half-personified, as Hades and Death are in Revelation 6:8; Revelation 20:13-14. In that unseen world there were, in the later belief of Judaism, the two regions of Gehenna and of Eden or Paradise. What the prophet says is that all the pomp and glory of the rich oppressors are on their way to that inevitable doom. The word for “glory” (as in 1Samuel 4:22) is the same as that for “honourable men” in Isaiah 5:13, so that the original has all the emphasis of repetition.

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.Therefore hell - The word transated "hell," שׁאול she'ôl, has not the same meaning that we now attach to that word; its usual signification, among the Hebrews, was "the lower world, the region of departed spirits." It corresponded to the Greek ἅδης Hadēs, "hades," or place of the dead. This word occurs eleven times in the New Testament Matthew 11:23; Matthew 16:18; Luke 10:15; Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27, Acts 2:31; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 6:8; Revelation 20:13-14, in all of which places, except 1 Corinthians 15:55, it is rendered "hell," though denoting, in most of those places, as it does in the Old Testament, the abodes of the dead. The Septuagint, in this place, and usually, translates the word שׁאול she'ôl by ἅδης Hadēs, "Hades." It was represented by the Hebrews as "low down, or deep" in the earth - contrasted with the height of heaven; Deuteronomy 32:22; Job 11:8; Psalm 139:7-8. It was a place where thick darkness reigns; Job 10:21-22 : 'The land of darkness and the shadow of death; a land of darkness, as darkness itself.' It is described as having "valleys, or depths," Proverbs 9:18. It is represented also as having "gates," Isaiah 38:10; and as being inhabited by a great multitude, some of whom sit on thrones, occupied in some respects as they were on earth; see the note at Isaiah 14:9. And it is also said that the wicked descend into it by openings in the earth, as Korah, Dathan, and Abiram did; Numbers 15:30, ... In this place, it means evidently the "regions of the dead," without the idea of punishment; and the poetic representation is, that so many of the Jews would be cut off by famine, thirst, and the sword, that those vast regions would be obliged "to enlarge themselves" in order to receive them. It means, therefore, that while many of them would go into captivity Isaiah 5:13, vast multitudes of them would be cut off by famine, thirst, and the sword.

Opened her mouth - As if to absorb or consume them; as a "cavern," or opening of the earth does; compare Numbers 16:30.

Without measure - Without any limit.

And their glory - All that they esteemed their pride and honor shall descend together into the yawning gulf.

Their multitude - The multitude of people; their vast hosts.

Their pomp - Noise, tumult; the bustle, and shouting, and display made in battle, or war, or victory; Isaiah 13:4; Amos 2:2; Hosea 10:14.

And he that rejoiceth - All that the nation prided itself on, and all that was a source of joy, should be destroyed.

14. hell—the grave; Hebrew, sheol; Greek, hades; "the unseen world of spirits." Not here, "the place of torment." Poetically, it is represented as enlarging itself immensely, in order to receive the countless hosts of Jews, which should perish (Nu 16:30).

their—that is, of the Jewish people.

he that rejoiceth—the drunken reveller in Jerusalem.

Hell; or, the grave, as this word most commonly signifies.

Opened her mouth without measure, to receive those vast numbers which shall die by this famine, or otherwise, as is here implied.

Their glory; their honourable men, as they were called, Isaiah 5:13, being distinguished both here and there from the multitude.

Their pomp; all their glory, shall die with them.

He that rejoiceth; that spendeth all his days in mirth and jollity, and casteth away all cares and fears.

Therefore hell hath enlarged herself,.... That is, the grave, to receive the dead which die with famine and thirst; signifying that the number of the dead would be so great, that the common burying places would not be sufficient to hold them; but additions must be made to them; or some vast prodigious pit must be dug, capable of receiving them; like Tophet, deep and large: or "hath enlarged her soul" (d); her desire after the dead, see Habakkuk 2:5 being insatiable, and one of those things which are never satisfied, or have enough, Proverbs 30:15 wherefore it follows:

and opened her mouth without measure; immensely wide; there being no boundary to its desires, nor any end of its cravings, or of filling it. And so the Targum renders it, "without end". Moreover, by "hell" may be meant the miserable estate and condition of the Jews upon the destruction of Jerusalem, when they were in the utmost distress and misery; see Gill on Luke 16:23.

And their glory; their glorious ones, their nobles, as the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions; and the Targum, their princes, rulers, civil and ecclesiastical; which were the glory of the nation:

and their multitude; meaning the common people; or rather their great and honourable ones, as the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions render the word; and in which sense it may be used in the preceding verse Isaiah 5:13; since not of the poor, but of the rich, the context speaks; even of such who indulged themselves in luxury and pleasure:

and their pomp; the Septuagint version, "their rich ones"; such who live in pomp and splendour: but the word (e) signifies noise and tumult; and so the Targum renders it; and it designs noisy and tumultuous ones, who sing and roar, halloo and make a noise at feasts; and who may be called , "sons of tumult", or "tumultuous ones"; Jeremiah 48:45 wherefore it follows:

and he that rejoiceth, that is, at their feasts,

shall descend into it; into hell, or the grave: or, "he that rejoiceth in it", that is, in the land or city; so the Targum,

"he that is strong among them;''

so Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it.

(d) "dilatavit suam animam", V. L. Munster, Montanus, Cocceius. (e) "et strepitus ejus", Montanus, Forerius.

Therefore {u} hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.

(u) Meaning, the grave will swallow up them who will die for hunger and thirst, and yet for all this great destruction it will never be satisfied.

14–17. A second threatening, in a sublime image, of the sudden destruction of Jerusalem. The transition to the fate of the capital is somewhat abrupt. 14. hell hath enlarged herself] better, Sheol hath enlarged her appetite (Habakkuk 2:5). Sheol, the Underworld, the realm of the dead (like the Greek Hades), is here, as elsewhere, conceived as a devouring insatiable monster; cf. Hosea 13:14; Jonah 2:2; Song of Solomon 8:6; Proverbs 1:12; Proverbs 30:16.

and their glory … descend into it] Render (nearly as Cheyne) and down goes her (Jerusalem’s) pomp, and her tumult and her uproar and (all) that is (so) jubilant in her.

Verse 14. - Therefore hell hath enlarged herself; rather, hath enlarged her desire (comp. Habakkuk 2:5). "Hell" here represents the underworld, into which souls descended at death, not yet perhaps recognized as comprehending two divisions, but regarded much as the Greeks regarded their Hades - as a general receptacle of the dead, dark and silent. Hades (Sheol), not viewed as a person, but personified by poetical license, "enlarges her desire" and "opens her mouth" to receive the crowd that is approaching the crowd of those who in captivity succumb to the hardships of their lot. Their glory; literally, her glory - the glory, i.e., of Jerusalem, which is especially in the prophet's thoughts. "Her glory, and her crowd, and her pomp, and he that is joyful in her, shall go down" into the sheol that gapes for them. Isaiah 5:14The threat of punishment commences again with "therefore;" it has not yet satisfied itself, and therefore grasps deeper still. "Therefore the under-world opens its jaws wide, and stretches open its mouth immeasurably wide; and the glory of Jerusalem descends, and its tumult, and noise, and those who rejoice within it." The verbs which follow lâcēn (therefore) are prophetic preterites, as in Isaiah 5:13. The feminine suffixes attached to what the lower world swallows up do not refer to sheol (though this is construed more frequently, no doubt, as a feminine than as a masculine, as it is in Job 26:6), but, as expressed in the translation, to Jerusalem itself, which is also necessarily required by the last clause, "those who rejoice within it." The withdrawal of the tone from ועלז to the penultimate (cf., Châphētz in Psalm 18:20; Psalm 22:9) is intentionally omitted, to cause the rolling and swallowing up to be heard as it were. A mouth is ascribed to the under-world, also a nephesh, i.e., a greedy soul, in which sense nephesh is then applied metonymically sometimes to a thirst for blood (Psalm 27:12), and sometimes to simple greediness (Isaiah 56:11), and even, as in the present passage and Habakkuk 2:5, to the throat or swallow which the soul opens "without measure," when its craving knows no bounds (Psychol. p. 204). It has become a common thing now to drop entirely the notion which formerly prevailed, that the noun sheol was derived from the verb shâal in the sense in which it was generally employed, viz., to ask or demand; but Caspari, who has revived it again, is certainly so far correct, that the derivation of the word which the prophet had in his mind was this and no other. The word sheol (an infinitive form, like pekōd) signifies primarily the irresistible and inexorable demand made upon every earthly thing; and then secondarily, in a local sense, the place of the abode of shades, to which everything on the surface of the earth is summoned; or essentially the divinely appointed curse which demands and swallows up everything upon the earth. We simply maintain, however, that the word sheol, as generally sued, was associated in thought with shâal, to ask or demand. Originally, no doubt, it may have been derived from the primary and more material idea of the verb שׁאל, possibly from the meaning "to be hollow," which is also assumed to be the primary meaning of שׁעל.

(Note: The meaning "to be hollow" is not very firmly established, however; as the primary meaning of שׁעל, and the analogy sometimes adduced of hell equals hollow (Hlle equals Hhle), is a deceptive one, as Hlle (hell), to which Luther always gives the more correct form Helle, does not mean a hollow, but a hidden place (or a place which renders invisible: from hln, to conceal), Lat. celans (see Jtting, Bibl. Wrterbuch, 1864, pp. 85, 86). It is much more probable that the meaning of sheol is not the hollow place, but the depression or depth, from של, which corresponds precisely to the Greek χαλᾶν so far as its primary meaning is concerned (compare the talmudic shilshêl, to let down; shilshul, sinking or depression, Erubin 83b; shul, the foundation, fundus): see Hupfeld on Psalm 6:6. Luzzatto on this passage also explains sheol as signifying depth, and compares the talmudic hishchil equals hēshil, to let down (or, according to others, to draw up - two meanings which may easily be combined in the same word, starting from its radical idea, which indicates in a general a loosening of the previous connection). Frst has also given up the meaning cavitas, a hollow, and endeavours to find a more correct explanation of the primary signification of shâ'al (see at Isaiah 40:12).)

At any rate, this derivation answers to the view that generally prevailed in ancient times. According to the prevalent idea, Hades was in the interior of the earth. And there was nothing really absurd in this, since it is quite within the power and freedom of the omnipresent God to manifest Himself wherever and however He may please. As He reveals Himself above the earth, i.e., in heaven, among blessed spirits in the light of His love; so did He reveal Himself underneath the earth, viz., in Sheōl, in the darkness and fire of His wrath. And with the exception of Enoch and Elijah, with their marvellous departure from this life, the way of every mortal ended there, until the time when Jesus Christ, having first paid the λὐτρον, i.e., having shed His blood, which covers our guilt and turns the wrath of God into love, descended into Hades and ascended into heaven, and from that time forth has changed the death of all believers from a descent into Hades into an ascension to heaven. But even under the Old Testament the believer may have known, that whoever hid himself on this side the grave in Jehovah the living One, would retain his eternal germ of life even in Sheōl in the midst of the shades, and would taste the love of God even in the midst of wrath. It was this postulate of faith which lay at the foundation of the fact, that even under the Old Testament the broader and more comprehensive idea of Sheōl began to be contracted into the more limited notion of hell (see Psychol. p. 415). This is the case in the passage before us, where Isaiah predicts of everything of which Jerusalem was proud, and in which it revelled, including the persons who rejoice din these things, a descent into Hades; just as the Korahite author of Psalm 49 wrote (Psalm 49:14) that the beauty of the wicked would be given up to Hades to be consumed, without having hereafter any place in the upper world, when the upright should have dominion over them in the morning. Hades even here is almost equivalent to the New Testament gehenna.

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