Isaiah 5:22
Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
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(22) Woe unto them that are mighty to drink. . . . strong drink.—The words in part reproduce the “woe” of Isaiah 5:11-12, but with the distinctive feature that there the revellers were simply of the careless self-indulgent type, while here they are identified with the unjust and corrupt rulers. They were heroes and valiant men only in and for their cups. To such men it seemed a light matter to acquit the guilty and condemn the guiltless. The prophet dwells on the familiar truth, Judex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur. The Targum, it may be noticed, has “the mammon of falsehood” (comp. Luke xvi, 9), for the “reward” of the Hebrew.

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.Wo unto them that are mighty ... - This is the sixth specification of crime. He had already denounced the intemperate in Isaiah 5:11. But probably this was a prevailing sin. Perhaps there was no evidence of reform; and it was needful to "repeat" the admonition, in order that people might be brought to regard it. The prophet repeats a similar denunciation in Isaiah 56:12.

Mighty - Perhaps those who prided themselves on their ability to drink "much" without becoming intoxicated; who had been so accustomed to it, that they defied its effects, and boasted of their power to resist its usual influence. A similar idea is expressed in Isaiah 56:12.

Men of strength - The Chaldee understands this of "rich" men; but, probably, the reference is to those who boasted that they were able to bear "much" strong drink.

To mingle - To mix wine with spices, dates, drugs, etc., to make it more intoxicating; Proverbs 9:2, Proverbs 9:5. They boasted that they were able to drink, without injury, liquor of extraordinary intoxicating qualities.

Strong drink - Note, Isaiah 5:11. On the subject of the strong drink used in the East, "see Harmer's Observations," vol. ii. pp. 140-148. Ed. Lond. 1808.

22, 23. Sixth Woe—against corrupt judges, who, "mighty" in drinking "wine" (a boast still not uncommon), if not in defending their country, obtain the means of self-indulgence by taking bribes ("reward"). The two verses are closely joined [Maurer].

mingle strong drink—not with water, but spices to make it intoxicating (Pr 9:2, 5; So 8:2).

take away the righteousness—set aside the just claims of those having a righteous cause.

That are mighty to drink wine; that can drink much without intoxication, in which they gloried, as too many do at this day.

To mingle, i.e. to drink; the antecedent being put for the consequent, which is usual; for they mingled it in order to drinking.

Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine,.... That can bear a great deal, and not be overcome and intoxicated with it; that try their strength this way with others, and get the mastery and glory in it: not mighty to fight their enemies, as Kimchi observes, and defend their country, but to drink wine; by which their strength was weakened: wherefore some think soldiers are particularly designed, given to drinking, who are derided and mocked, as being valiant in the warfare of Bacchus, and not of Mars:

and men of strength, to mingle strong drink; in the cup, and then drink it: or "men of war"; the same with "mighty" before. The Targum interprets it, "men of riches": who can afford to drink wine and strong drink; which carries the sense not to the strength of their bodies, but of their purses: the former sense seems best. The Scribes and Pharisees loved the cup and the platter, and to be at feasts, and to have the uppermost seats there, Matthew 23:6 and that those that sat in Moses's chair are intended appears from the following words.

Woe to them that are {c} mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mix strong drink:

(c) Who are never weary, but show their strength, and brag in gluttony and drunkenness.

22. them that are mighty] heroes.

to mingle strong drink] This was a delicate operation, almost a fine art, demanding a refined taste and much experience (Proverbs 23:30). The phrase does not mean to dilute with water, which was common among Greeks and Romans, but rather to enhance by the addition of aromatic herbs (cf. “spiced wine” in Song of Solomon 8:2).

22, 23. The sixth woe, against dissolute and corrupt judges. In Isaiah 5:11 f. drunkenness was denounced as destructive of all serious thought; here it is spoken of as the parent of injustice on the bench. Cf. Proverbs 31:4 f.

Verse 22. - Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine. The sixth woe seems at first sight a repetition of the second. But there is this difference, that the drinkers in the present verse do not succumb to their liquor, or remain at the banquet all day, but proceed to the business of their lives, attend courts and judge causes, but with brain obfuscated and moral vision bedimmed, so that they are easily induced to pervert justice on receipt of a bribe. The sixth woe may be considered to be pronounced rather upon their corruption than upon their drinking, and so to be really quite distinct from the second (comp. Proverbs 31:4, 5). Isaiah 5:22The sixth woe: "Woe to those who are heroes to drink wine, and brave men to mix strong drink; who acquit criminals for a bribe, and take away from every one the righteousness of the righteous." We see from Isaiah 5:23 that the drinkers in Isaiah 5:22 are unjust judges. The threat denounced against these is Isaiah's universal ceterum censeo; and accordingly it forms, in this instance also, the substance of his sixth and last woe. They are heroes; not, however, in avenging wrong, but in drinking wine; they are men of renown, though not for deciding between guilt and innocence, but for mixing up the ingredients of strong artistic wines. For the terms applied to such mixed wines, see Psalm 75:9; Proverbs 23:30, Sol 7:3. It must be borne in mind, however, that what is here called shecâr was not, properly speaking, wine, but an artificial mixture, like date wine and cider. For such things as these they were noteworthy and strong; whereas they judged unjustly, and took bribes that they might consume the reward of their injustice in drink and debauchery (Isaiah 28:7-8; Proverbs 31:5). "For reward:" ēkeb (Arab. ‛ukb; different from âkēb, a heel, equals ‛akib) is an adverbial accusative, "in recompense," or "for pay." "From him" (mimmennu) is distributive, and refers back to tsaddikim (the righteous); as, for example, in Hosea 4:8.
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