Isaiah 59:14
And judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
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(14) Truth is fallen in the street—i.e., the broad open place, or agora, of the city. The words point naturally to Jerusalem. If they refer to Babylon, we must assume, unless we deal with the language as altogether figurative, that the exiles had a quarter of their own, in which they had an agora for business and judicial proceedings.

Isaiah 59:14-15. And judgment is turned away backward — He speaks here of the sentences in courts of judicature, which were contrary to right and justice; as if he had said, God denies you justice, as you have denied it to others. And justice standeth afar off — Justice and judges are at a great distance from each other; for truth is fallen — Truth is cast to the ground, and justice trampled under foot; in the street — Even in public. And equity cannot enter — No such thing will be admitted in the courts. Yea, truth faileth — Truth is more than fallen, which he had said in the last verse; it faileth. If it had been only fallen, it might have recovered itself again: but its failing denotes the loss of its very vitals; as being everywhere neglected, in the court, in the city, in the country; in inferior as well as superior ranks; in the streets, in the gates, in the markets, in the fairs; in all public places of commerce: as if he had said, All things are amiss; neither judgment, nor justice, nor truth is to be found among us; but fraud and deceit; yet none are troubled on account of it. And he that departeth from evil — That separateth himself from evil things and evil persons, that will not be as vile as others; maketh himself a prey — Or, as משׁתוללis rendered in the margin, is accounted mad; is laughed at. Josephus tells us, that immediately before the destruction of Jerusalem, it was a matter of scorn to be religious. The translators reach the meaning of the word by prey: the wicked, like wild beasts, endeavouring to devour such as are not as bad as themselves: where wickedness rules, innocence is oppressed. For they that are simple and innocent are outwitted by the crafty and fraudulent, as not being willing, or rather, not daring to oppose fraud with fraud, but doing all things in sincerity. And the Lord saw it — Took notice of it; it was not hid from him. It is spoken of God after the manner of men. And it displeased him, &c. — As if he had said, If you would know why God is so angry with you, it is for such things as these; the Lord observes them, and they are great evils in his eyes.59:9-15 If we shut our eyes against the light of Divine truth, it is just with God to hide from our eyes the things that belong to our peace. The sins of those who profess themselves God's people, are worse than the sins of others. And the sins of a nation bring public judgments, when not restrained by public justice. Men may murmur under calamities, but nothing will truly profit while they reject Christ and his gospel.And judgment is turned away backward - The word 'judgment' is not used, as in Isaiah 59:9, to denote the divine interposition to avenge and deliver them, but it is used in the sense of justice, or lust decisions between man and man. The verse contains a further confession of the evil of their course of life; and, among other things, they acknowledged that they had been unjust in their legal decisions. They had been influenced by partiality and by bribes; they had condemned the innocent, they had acquitted the guilty. Judgment had thus been lumped back by their sins when it seemed to be approaching and entering the city.

And justice standeth afar off - This is a beautiful figure. justice is represented as standing at a distance from the city. Deterred by their sins, it would not enter. They prevented its approach, and it was unknown among them.

For truth is fallen in the street - Or rather, perhaps, in the gate - the place where justice was administered. The language here is all taken from courts of justice, and the idea is, that there was no justice in their decisions, but that their courts were unprincipled and corrupt.

And equity cannot enter - It stood at a distance, and the impenetrable mass of guilt effectually prevented its approach to the capital.

14. Justice and righteousness are put away from our legal courts.

in the street—in the forum, the place of judicature, usually at the gate of the city (Zec 8:16).

cannot enter—is shut out from the forum, or courts of justice.

Judgment is turned away backward: he speaks here of the sentences and decrees in courts of judicature, which are carried quite contrary to right and justice. God denies you justice, as you have denied help to others.

Justice standeth afar off: it notes the same thing with the former, to show that justice and judges are far asunder.

Truth is fallen; a metaphor taken from a feeble person that wants support, without which he falls; thus truth hath none to support or patronize it: the same, only otherwise expressed, with Isaiah 59:16. Truth is cast upon the ground, and justice trampled under foot.

In the street, i.e. in public.

Equity cannot enter; no such thing will be admitted in their courts; all corrupt, so that all equity and justice is violently kept off by the authority of the great ones. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off,.... Jarchi interprets this of the vengeance of God, and his righteousness in his judgments, not immediately executed; but it is to be understood of the want of judgment and justice being done among men; and therefore are represented as persons turned back, and standing afar off, rejected, neglected, and discouraged. The Targum renders it,

"they that do judgment are turned back, and they that do justice stand afar off;''

having none to take their parts, but everyone opposing them: this may respect both the want of judgment and justice in courts of judicature; no regard being had to right and wrong; no true judgment being given, or justice done, in any cause; but both banished from the bench: and also in the churches of Christ, or, however, under a profession of his name, where there is no judgment in doctrines, or discerning between truth and error; and no justice inflicted on delinquents according to the rules of Christ; no order nor discipline observed in his house; these are dismissed and discarded:

for truth is fallen in the street; where it used to be preached, exalted, established, and confirmed; but now thrown down and trampled upon, and few or none to help it up, and stand by it; and though it may have some secret well wishers, yet very few, if any, public advocates for it:

and equity cannot enter; either into civil courts, or Christian congregations; the doing of that which is just and right between man and man in things civil; and between Christian and Christian in things religious; or that which is right according to the word of God; can find no place, or cannot be admitted into assemblies that are called by his name. The Targum is,

"they that do truth stumble in the street; and they that exercise faith cannot be made manifest;''

such as are on the side of truth, in the service of it, cannot stand their ground through the violence of their opposers; and those that are faithful, and abide by the doctrine of faith, are forced to hide themselves, and cannot appear in the vindication of it.

And {m} judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.

(m) There is neither justice nor uprightness among men.

14. The confession, following the same order as the indictment in Isaiah 59:3-4, proceeds from personal sins to public injustice.

judgment and justice (righteousness) are not the divine vindication of Israel’s right (as in Isaiah 59:9), but the fundamental civic virtues. These, by a bold personification, are conceived as eager to take their rightful place in the administration of justice, but as kept at a distance by the prevailing social corruption. For truth (the essential basis of righteousness) stumbleth in the broad place, and uprightness (R.V.) cannot enter. The “broad place” is probably the open space at the city gate where cases were decided by the judges (Jeremiah 5:1 &c.).Verse 14. - Judgment is turned away backward. In conclusion, the crying sin of perversion of justice is admitted with much amplification.

(1) Right judgment is exactly inverted - the innocent are condemned, the guilty acquitted.

(2) Justice standeth afar off - too far off to be able to hear those who make appeal to it.

(3) Truth is fallen in the street; i.e. false witness prevails over true in the courts of justice.

(4) Equity cannot enter - is not admitted inside the courts, but waits without. Their whole nature is broken up into discord. "The way of peace they know not, and there is no right in their roads: they make their paths crooked: every one who treads upon them knows no peace." With דּרך, the way upon which a man goes, the prophet uses interchangeably (here and in Isaiah 59:7) מסלּה, a high-road thrown up with an embankment; מעגּל (with the plural in ı̂m and ôth), a carriage-road; and נתיבה, a footpath formed by the constant passing to and fro of travellers. Peaceable conduct, springing form a love of peace, and aiming at producing peace, is altogether strange to them; no such thing is to be met with in their path as the recognition of practice of right: they make their paths for themselves (להם, dat. ethicus), i.e., most diligently, twisting about; and whoever treads upon them (bâh, neuter, as in Isaiah 27:4), forfeits all enjoyment of either inward or outward peace. Shâlōm is repeated significantly, in Isaiah's peculiar style, at the end of the verse. The first strophe of the prophecy closes here: it was from no want of power or willingness on the part of God, that He had not come to the help of His people; the fault lay in their own sins.
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