Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
For reward - For bribes.
And take away the righteousness - That is, they do not decide the cause in favor of those who have just claims, but are determined by a bribe; see the note at Isaiah 1:23. It is remarkable, that this is introduced in immediate connection with their being mighty to mingle strong drink. One effect of intemperance is to make a man ready to be "bribed." Its effect is seen as clearly in courts of justice, and in the decisions of such courts, as any where. A man that is intemperate, or that indulges in strong drink, is not qualified to be a judge.
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.Justify the wicked for reward; not by mistake or incogitancy, but wilfully for bribes.
Take away the righteousness of the righteous from him, to wit, juridically; they pronounce sentence against him, as if he and his cause were unjust. Deuteronomy 16:19 or rather of the Scribes and Pharisees, who pronounced the wicked righteous men, provided they kept the traditions of the elders, and paid tithes of all they possessed, and gave them money for their long prayers, Matthew 23:14,
and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him; by condemning them as unrighteous persons: so the Jews did Christ and his apostles; they pronounced them wicked, and condemned them to death; and as much as in them lay took away their righteousness from them, by taking away their character from them as righteous persons among men; though their righteousness itself could not be taken away, it being an everlasting one.Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)23. These valiant drinkers are weak enough in their official capacity; they acquit the guilty and condemn the innocent. justify the wicked] “wicked” and “righteous” are here used in their forensic sense: “he who is in the wrong” and “he who is in the right” (cf. Exodus 9:27). So “take away the righteousness” means “declare guilty”—the opposite of “justify.”Verse 23. - Justify the wicked; i.e. "decide his cause in his favor," declare him to be right, and his adversary wrong. For reward; or, for a bribe. Take away the righteousness of the righteous; i.e. "declare him to be in the wrong by deciding his cause against him." Isaiah 5:17 : "And lambs feed as upon their pasture, and nomad shepherds eat the waste places of the fat ones." There is no necessity to supply an object to the verb ורעוּ, as Knobel and others assume, viz., the waste lands mentioned in the second clause; nor is Cedâbrâm to be taken as the object, as Caspari supposes; but the place referred to is determined by the context: in the place where Jerusalem is sunken, there lambs feed after the manner of their own pasture-ground, i.e., just as if they were in their old accustomed pasture (dober, as in Micah 2:12, from dâbar, to drive). The lambs intended are those of the gârim mentioned in the second clause. The gârim themselves are men leading an unsettled, nomad, or pilgrim life; as distinguished from gêrim, strangers visiting, or even settled at a place. The lxx have ἄρνες, so that they must have read either Cârim or gedâim, which Ewald, Knobel, and others adopt. But one feature of the prophecy, which is sustained by the historical fulfilment, is thereby obliterated. Chârboth mêchim are the lands of those that were formerly marrowy, i.e., fat and strutting about in their fulness; which lands had now become waste places. Knobel's statement, that âcăl is out of place in connection with gârim, is overthrown by Isaiah 1:7, to which he himself refers, though he makes he-goats the subject instead of men. The second woe closes with Isaiah 5:17. It is the longest of all. This also serves to confirm the fact that luxury was the leading vice of Judah in the time of Uzziah-Jotham, as it was that of Israel under Jeroboam II((see Amos 6:1-14, where the same threat is held out).
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