Isaiah 5:9
In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) In mine ears said the Lord.—The italics show that there is no verb in the Hebrew, the text, if it be correct, giving the emphasis of abruptness; but it is rightly supplied in the Authorised Version. The sentence that follows is one of a righteous retribution: There shall be no profit or permanence in the property thus unjustly gained.

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.In mine ears - This probably refers to the prophet. As if he had said, 'God has revealed it to me,' or 'God has said in my ears,' i. e, to me. The Septuagint reads it, 'These things are heard in the ears of the Lord of hosts,' that is, the wishes" of the man of avarice. The Chaldee, 'The prophet said, In my ears I have heard; a decree has gone from the Lord of hosts,' etc.

Many houses shall be desolate - Referring to the calamities that should come upon the nation for its crimes.

9. In mine ears … the Lord—namely, has revealed it, as in Isa 22:14.

desolate—literally, "a desolation," namely, on account of the national sins.

great and fair—houses.

In mine ears said the Lord; I heard God speak what I now about to utter. Heb. In the ears of the Lord; may relate either,

1. To the foregoing words; The cry of your sins, and of the oppressed, as come into God’s he hears and sees it, and will certainly punish it.

2. To the following clause, which being of great importance, he ushers in with an oath; I speak it in God’s as well as in yours; I call God to witness the truth of what I say. My houses shall be desolate; the houses you have so greedily coveted shall cast you out, and become desolate.

In mine ears, said the Lord of hosts,.... This may be understood either of the ears of the Lord of hosts, into which came the cry of the sins of covetousness and ambition before mentioned; these were taken notice of by the Lord, and he was determined to punish them; or of the ears of the prophet, in whose hearing the Lord said what follows: so the Targum,

"the prophet said, with mine ears I have heard, when this was decreed from before the Lord of hosts:''

of a truth many houses shall be desolate; or "great" ones (z); such as the houses of the king, of the princes, and nobles, judges, counsellors, and great men of the earth; not only the house of God, the temple, but a multitude of houses in Jerusalem and elsewhere; which was true not only at the taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, but at the destruction of it by the Romans, to which this prophecy belongs, Matthew 23:38 the words are a strong asseveration, and in the form of an oath, as Jarchi and Kimchi observe; , "if not"; if many houses are not left desolate, let it be so or so, I swear they shall:

even great and fair, without inhabitants: houses of large and beautiful building shall be laid in such a ruinous condition, that they will not be fit for any to dwell in, nor shall any dwell in them: and this is the judgment upon them for joining house to house; that for laying field to field follows.

(z) "domus magnificae, sive sumptuosae", Vatablus.

In my {l} ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.

(l) I have heard the complaint and cry of the poor.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. In mine ears said the Lord of hosts] The verb is to be supplied as in Isaiah 22:14 : In my ears (hath revealed himself) Jehovah.… It is a prophetic “audition”; the words which follow seem actually to sound in his ears. The great houses shall be uninhabited, because—

9, 10. The divine judgment on this evil. Cf. Amos 5:11.

Verse 9. - Either something has fallen out in the first clause of this verse, or there is a most unusual ellipse of the verb "said" which our translators have supplied, very properly. There seems to be nothing emphatic in the words, "on mine ears" (see Isaiah 22:14; Ezekiel 9:1, 5; Ezekiel 10:13). Many houses shall be desolate. The greed of adding house to house will be punished by the death of those who have so sinned, and the extinction of their families, either through war, or through a more direct divine judgment. Isaiah 5:9And 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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