Isaiah 56:11
Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.
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(11) Shepherds that cannot understand . . .—Better, and such are shepherds; they cannot understand. There is no confusion or change of metaphors. What is implied is that the prophets who are not fit to be watch-dogs of the flock, assume the office of its shepherds.

From his quarteri.e., in modern phrase, from his own sphere of influence.

Isaiah 56:11. Yea, they are greedy dogs — Insatiably covetous: shepherds that cannot understand — Hebrew, that know not to understand; that do not care, or love, or desire either to understand the word of God themselves, or to make the people understand it. They all look to their own way — They regard neither God’s glory nor the people’s good, but only the satisfaction of their own base desires. Every one for his gain from his quarter — In their several places and stations, as they have opportunity.

56:9-12 Desolating judgments are called for; and this severe rebuke of the rulers and teachers of the Jewish church, is applicable to other ages and places. It is bad with a people when their shepherds slumber, and are eager after the world. Let us pray the Great Shepherd to send us pastors after his own heart, who will feed us with knowledge, that we may rejoice in his holy name, and that believers may be daily added to the church.Yea, they are greedy dogs - Margin, 'Strong of appetite.' Literally, 'Strong of soul' (עזי־נפשׁ ‛azēy-nephesh. Jerome renders it, Canes impudentissimi. So the Septuagint, Κύνες ἀναιδεῖς τῇ ψυχῇ Kunes anaideis tē psuchē - 'Dogs impudent in soul.' They were greedy and insatiable in that which the soul or the appetite demands. The idea here is, that the prophets to whom reference is here made were sensual, and disposed to gorge themselves; living only for carnal indulgence, insensible to the rights of others, and never satisfied.

And they are shepherds that cannot understand - Who are ignorant of the needs of the people, and who cannot be made to comprehend what is needed by them (see Isaiah 56:10).

They all look to their own way - That is, they are all selfish. The ministers of religion are set apart not to promote their own interests bug the welfare and salavation of others.

Every one for his gain - For his own private ends and emoluments.

From his quarter - Lowth, 'From the highest to the lowest.' So Rosenmuller. Septuagint, Κατὰ τὸ ἑαυτοῦ Kata to heautou - 'Each one according to his own purpose.' The Hebrew is literally, 'From his end,' or extremity. Genesis 19:4 : 'From every quarter' (מקצה mı̂qqâtseh) that is, from one end to the other; one and all, the whole. This seems to be the idea here, that one and all were given to selfishness, to covetousness, and to indulgence in luxury and sensuality.

11. greedy—literally, "strong" (that is, insatiable) in appetite (Eze 34:2, 3; Mic 3:11).

cannot understand—unable to comprehend the wants of the people, spiritually: so Isa 56:10, "cannot bark."

look to … own way—that is, their own selfish interests; not to the spiritual welfare of the people (Jer 6:13; Eze 22:27).

from his quarter—rather, "from the highest to the lowest" [Lowth]. "From his quarter"; that is, from one end to the other of them, one and all (Ge 19:4).

Greedy dogs which can never have enough; insatiably covetous.

That cannot understand, Heb. that know not to understand; that do not care, or love, or desire (as knowing is frequently taken) either to understand the law or word of God themselves, or to make the people to understand it.

They all look to their own way; they regard neither God’s command and glory, nor the people’s good, but only the satisfaction of their own base lusts. See Poole "Isaiah 53:6".

Every one for his gain, from his quarter; in their several places and stations, as they have opportunity. Heb. from his or their end or extremity, i.e. universally, or all from one end of that body or society of men unto the other; as the same word signifies, Genesis 19:4; from one end of the city to the other; or, as we there render it,

from every quarter; and as the same word is by divers learned men rendered, 1 Kings 12:31, out of the meanest of the people, but out of all the people, or indifferently out of every tribe; of which See Poole "1 Kings 12:31". But if that phrase be rightly rendered there, out of the meanest of the people, as divers also expound the same phrase, Genesis 47:2, of the meanest of his brethren, why may it not as well be rendered here, even from the meanest or poorest of his flock? which is a great aggravation of their covetousness and cruelty, to extort gains from such as needed their charity.

Yea, they are greedy dogs,.... Or "strong of soul" (y); of great appetites, and are never satisfied: or "strong of body"; the soul is sometimes put for the body; large bodied, fat bellied men, such as the priests, monks, and friars, that live upon the fat of the land; gluttons, epicures, men of a canine appetite, like dogs,

which can never have enough; know not fulness (z), or what it is to be filled to satisfaction, always craving more. Though some think this denotes their insatiable avarice, their greedy desire of money, not being satisfied with what they have, in order to support their voluptuous way of living.

And they are shepherds that cannot understand; or, "and they are", or "are they shepherds?" these blind and ignorant watchmen; these dumb and greedy dogs; these pretend to be the shepherds of the flock, and to feed them?

yet they know not to understand (a), or "know not understanding"; have no knowledge and understanding of divine things, and therefore unfit and incapable of feeding the people therewith:

they all look to their own way: to do that which is most pleasing to them, agreeable to their carnal lusts; they seek that which is most for their worldly profit and advantage, having no regard to the glory of God, the interest of Christ, and the welfare of the flock:

everyone for his gain from his quarter; from the province, city, or town he is in; from his archbishopric, bishopric, or parish; making the most of his benefice, of his tithes and revenues; increasing his salary as much as he can; getting as much as possible from all sorts of persons, rich and poor, high and low, that are under his jurisdiction; and this is the case of everyone, from the greatest to the least. The Targum is,

"everyone to spoil the substance of Israel;''

as the Pharisees devoured widows' houses, Matthew 23:14.

(y) "fortes animo", Montanus; "fortes anima, sub. appetente", Vatablus; "sunt valido appetitu", Vitringa. (z) "nesciunt, vel non noverunt saturitatem", Paguinus, Montanus, &c, (a) "et iili pastores? non sciunt docere", Cocceius; "et illi cum pastores sunt, mulla pollent discernendi peritia", Vitringa.

Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.
11. The first line reads, And the dogs are greedy (lit. “strong of soul,” i.e. appetite), they know not how to be satisfied. The charge of cupidity and of selling oracles for gain is one frequently brought against the false prophets (Micah 3:5; Micah 3:11; Jeremiah 6:13; Ezekiel 13:19; Ezekiel 22:25); a contemporary instance may be the incident of Shemaiah (Nehemiah 6:10 ff.). That the priesthood was infected with the same vice of covetousness is shown by Malachi 1:12; on the upper classes generally see Nehemiah 5:7 ff.

and they are shepherds &c.] The meaning can hardly be that those who have been called dogs are really the shepherds of the flock; but it is not easy to obtain a satisfactory sense. Cheyne renders “and these, pastors as they are,” taking “pastors” in the figurative sense of rulers. Dillmann with a slight change of the text reads “and even these, the shepherds,” supposing that a class of persons different from the “watchmen” (prophets) are now spoken of, viz., the nobles and elders. On any view the sentence is awkward; it adds nothing to the thought, and may originally have been a marginal gloss.

they all look to their own way] R.V. they have all turned to their own way; all pursue their selfish interests (cf. Isaiah 53:6).

from his quarter] Render, without exception, as Ezekiel 25:9; Genesis 19:4.

Verse 11. - Yea, they are greedy dogs. Another defect is noted. Not only do they fail in the way of neglect of duty, but they are actively culpable. Being worldly and not spiritually minded, they are "greedy" after gain. Anciently, the taking of a gift, or fee, from those who came to consult them was regarded as no dishonour to the prophetic office (Numbers 22:7; 1 Samuel 9:7; 1 Kings 14:3); but the nobler class of prophets declined to make a profit of their spiritual powers, and would receive no fee (2 Kings 5:16; Matthew 10:8; Acts 8:20). In Ezekiel and Micah the taking of gifts by prophets is regarded as discreditable (Ezekiel 13:19; Ezekiel 22:25; Micah 3:3). From his quarter; rather, to the uttermost (Kay), or every one, without exception (Cheyne). Isaiah 56:11The prophet now proceeds with צפו (צפיו): the suffix refers to Israel, which was also the object to לאכל. "His watchmen are blind: they (are) all ignorant, they (are) all dumb dogs that cannot bark; raving, lying down, loving to slumber. And the dogs are mightily greedy, they know no satiety; and such are shepherds! They know no understanding; they have all turned to their own ways, every one for his own gain throughout his border." The "watchmen" are the prophets here, as everywhere else (Isaiah 52:8, cf., Isaiah 21:6, Habakkuk 2:1; Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 3:17). The prophet is like a watchman (tsōpheh) stationed upon his watch-tower (specula), whose duty it is, when he sees the sword come upon the land, to blow the shōphâr, and warn the people (Ezekiel 33:1-9). But just as Jeremiah speaks of bad prophets among the captives (Jeremiah 29), and the book of Ezekiel is full of reproaches at the existing neglect of the office of watchman and shepherd; so does the prophet here complain that the watchmen of the nation are blind, in direct opposition to both their title and their calling; they are all without either knowledge or the capacity for knowledge (vid., Isaiah 44:9; Isaiah 45:20). They ought to resemble watchful sheep-dogs (Job 30:1), which bark when the flock is threatened; but they are dumb, and cannot bark (nâbhach, root nab), and leave the flock to all its danger. Instead of being "seers" (chōzı̄m), they are ravers (hōzı̄m; cf., Isaiah 19:18, where we have a play upon החרס in ההרס). הזים, from הזה, to rave in sickness, n. act. hadhajan (which Kimchi compares to parlare in snno); hence the Targum נימים, lxx ἐνυπνιαζόμενοι A φανταζόμενοι, S ὁραματισταί, Jer. videntes vana. The predicates which follow are attached to the leading word hōzı̄m (raving), if not precisely as adjectives, yet as more minutely descriptive. Instead of watching, praying, wrestling, to render themselves susceptible of visions of divine revelations for the good of their people, and to keep themselves in readiness to receive them, they are idle, loving comfortable ease, talkers in their sleep. And the dogs, viz., those prophets who resemble the worst of them (see at Isaiah 40:8), are נפשׁ עזּי, of violent, unrestrained soul, insatiable. Their soul lives and moves in the lowest parts of their nature; it is nothing but selfish avarice, self-indulgent greediness, violent restlessness of passion, that revolves perpetually around itself. With the words "and these are shepherds," the range of the prophet's vision is extended to the leaders of the nation generally; for when the prophet adds as an exclamation, "And such (hi equals tales) are shepherds!" he applies the glaring contrast between calling and conduct to the holders of both offices, that of teacher and that of ruler alike. For, apart from the accents, it would be quite at variance with the general use of the personal pronoun המה, to apply it to any other persons than those just described (viz., in any such sense as this: "And those, who ought to be shepherds, do not know"). Nor is it admissible to commence an adversative minor clause with והמה, as Knobel does, "whereas they are shepherds;" for, since the principal clause has הכלבים (dogs) as the subject, this would introduce a heterogeneous mixture of the two figures, shepherds' dogs and shepherds. We therefore take רעים והמה as an independent clause: "And it is upon men of such a kind, that the duty of watching and tending the nation devolves!" These רעים (for which the Targum reads רעים) are then still further described: they know not to understand, i.e., they are without spiritual capacity to pass an intelligible judgment (compare the opposite combination of the two verbs in Isaiah 32:4); instead of caring for the general good, they have all turned to their own way (ledarkâm), i.e., to their own selfish interests, every one bent upon his own advantage (בּצע from בּצע, abscindere, as we say, seinen Schnitt zu machen, to reap an advantage, lit., to make an incision). מקּצהוּ, from his utmost extremity (i.e., from that of his own station, including all its members), in other words, "throughout the length and breadth of his own circle;" qâtseh, the end, being regarded not as the terminal point, but as the circumference (as in Genesis 19:4; Genesis 47:21, and Jeremiah 51:31).
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