Isaiah 9:17
Therefore the LORD shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
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(17) Therefore the Lord shall have no joy . . .—The Hebrew tenses are in the past, The Lord had no joy. The severity of the coming judgment is represented as not sparing even the flower of the nation’s youth, the widows and orphans who were the special objects of compassion both to God and man. The corruption of the time was universal, and the prophet’s formula, For all this his anger is not turned away . . .” tolls again like the knell of doom.

Folly.—Better, blasphemy or villainy.

9:8-21 Those are ripening apace for ruin, whose hearts are unhumbled under humbling providences. For that which God designs, in smiting us, is, to turn us to himself; and if this point be not gained by lesser judgments, greater may be expected. The leaders of the people misled them. We have reason to be afraid of those that speak well of us, when we do ill. Wickedness was universal, all were infected with it. They shall be in trouble, and see no way out; and when men's ways displease the Lord, he makes even their friends to be at war with them. God would take away those they thought to have help from. Their rulers were the head. Their false prophets were the tail and the rush, the most despicable. In these civil contests, men preyed on near relations who were as their own flesh. The people turn not to Him who smites them, therefore he continues to smite: for when God judges, he will overcome; and the proudest, stoutest sinner shall either bend or break.Shall have no joy - He shall not delight in them so as to preserve them. The parallel part of the verse shows that the phrase is used in the sense of having mercy.

In their young men - The hope and strength of the nation. The word used here commonly denotes those who are chosen, particularly for purposes of war. The sense is, that the hope and strength of the nation, that on which the chief reliance would be placed, would be cut off.

Neither shall have mercy ... - Judgment would sweep through the nation, even over those who were the usual objects of the divine protection - widows and orphans; compare Psalm 10:14, Psalm 10:18; Psalm 48:5; Deuteronomy 10:18; Jeremiah 49:11; Hosea 14:3. These passages show that the fatherless and the widow are the special objects of the divine favor; and when, therefore, it is said that the Lord would not have mercy been on these, it shows the extent and severity of the divine judgments that were coming on the nation.

For every one is a hypocrite - A deceiver; a dissembler. The word used here, however. חנף chânêph, means rather a profane or profligate man, a man who is defiled or polluted, than a dissembler. It is applied often to idolaters and licentious persons, but not to hypocrites; see Job 8:13; Job 13:16; Job 15:34; Job 17:8; Daniel 11:32.

Every mouth speaketh folly - The word rendered folly, may denote foolishness, but it is also used to denote wickedness or crime; 1 Samuel 25:23. Probably this is the meaning here. That the character here given of the Ephraimites is correct, is abundantly shown also by other prophets; see particularly Hosea.

For all this - Notwithstanding all the judgments that should come thus upon the young men, and widows, and orphans, still his anger was not turned away. This is the close of the second strophe or part of this prophecy.

17. no joy—the parallelism, "neither … mercy," shows that this means, He shall have no such delight in their youthful warriors, however much they be the nation's delight and reliance, as to save them from the enemy's sword (Isa 31:8; compare Jer 18:21).

fatherless, &c.—not even the usual objects of His pity (Ps 10:14, 18; 68:5; Jer 49:11; Ho 14:3) shall be spared.

hypocrite—rather, a libertine, polluted [Horsley].

folly—wickedness (Ps 14:1).

still—Notwithstanding all these judgments, more remain.

Shall have no joy in their young men; shall not rejoice over them to do them good, as he doth to his people, Isaiah 62:5 Zephaniah 3:17; will not have mercy or pity on them, as the next clause explains it. but will abhor and utterly destroy them; for more is here intended than is expressed, as Proverbs 17:21.

Neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows, who are the special objects of his care and pity, Deu 16:11,14 24:19,20, and much less upon others.

Every one; not precisely, for there were seven thousand elect persons among them, when they seemed to Elijah to be universally corrupt, 1 Kings 19:18; but the body or generality of the people.

Is an hypocrite; for though they professed to worship and serve the true God, yet indeed they had forsaken him. Or, a profane person, as this word is rendered, Jeremiah 23:15, as also Isaiah 32:6.

An evil-doer; elsewhere called a worker of iniquity, as Job 31:3 Psalm 5:5 Matthew 7:23; one that gives up himself to a constant course and custom of sinning.

Speaketh folly, i.e. wickedness, which is commonly called folly. They are not ashamed to proclaim their own wickedness, and the corruption of their hearts breaketh forth into ungodly speeches. Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men,.... Take no delight and pleasure in them; but, on the contrary, detest and abhor them, and so destroy them, being depraved and corrupted by the bad instructions and examples of their parents:

neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows; who are objects of pity and compassion; yet these being wicked, as well as the fathers of the one, and the husbands of the other, shall be no more spared than they have been; so that this expresses both the general corruption and destruction of this people:

for everyone is a hypocrite and an evildoer; a hypocrite, as Aben Ezra on the place observes, is one that is outwardly good, and inwardly wicked; which was the general character of the people of Israel in Isaiah's time, as it was of the Jews in the times of Christ, see Matthew 23:25 they pretended to do good, but were doers of evil, workers of iniquity, continually committing sin; and yet would be thought to be very upright and sincere, both in their religion towards God, and in their dealings with men; but deceitful in both:

and every mouth speaketh folly; or falsehood; a lie, as the Targum, as all lies are foolish; as also all vain words, all impious ones; or the savour of irreligion or superstition, and indeed every idle word, and all unsavoury and corrupt speech, and there is particularly foolish talking, which is not convenient, Ephesians 5:4,

for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still; which is repeated from Isaiah 9:12. See Gill on Isaiah 9:12.

Therefore the LORD shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
17. A sentence of utter rejection. The unwonted severity of the threat against the widows and orphans is justified by the universal corruptness of the nation.

a hypocrite] Rather, profane (R.V.), “impious.” Cf. ch. Isaiah 10:6, Isaiah 32:6, Isaiah 33:14; Job 8:13; Psalm 35:16.

every mouth speaketh folly] ch. Isaiah 32:6 (“villany” A.V.). In the O.T. folly and wickedness are practically synonymous.Verse 17. - The Lord shall have no joy in their young men. "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy" (Psalm 147:11). He can have no joy or delight in evil-doers, or idolaters, or in those whose speech is profanity. Neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows. The widow and the orphan are objects of God's tenderest love and compassion (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18; Deuteronomy 14:29; Isaiah 1:17, etc.); but when the wickedness of a land provokes him to send any one of his "four sore judgments" upon it, the widow and the fatherless must suffer with the other inhabitants. God pities them, doubtless, but his justice and his righteous anger force him to restrain his pity, and carry out his judgment in spite of it. Every one is an hypocrite; or, corrupt; compare, "They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psalm 14:3). A certain allowance must be made for the natural hyperbole of strong feeling. Every mouth speaketh folly. The word translated here (and generally) "folly" is rendered "villany" in Isaiah 32:6 and Jeremiah 29:23. Its proper meaning seems to be "lewdness or "profligacy." The great light would not arise till the darkness had reached its deepest point. The gradual increase of this darkness is predicted in this second section of the esoteric addresses. Many difficult questions suggest themselves in connection with this section. 1. Is it directed against the northern kingdom only, or against all Israel? 2. What was the historical standpoint of the prophet himself? The majority of commentators reply that the prophet is only prophesying against Ephraim here, and that Syria and Ephraim have already been chastised by Tiglath-pileser. The former is incorrect. The prophet does indeed commence with Ephraim, but he does not stop there. The fates of both kingdoms flow into one another here, as well as in Isaiah 8:5., just as they were causally connected in actual fact. And it cannot be maintained, that when the prophet uttered his predictions Ephraim had already felt the scourging of Tiglath-pileser. The prophet takes his stand at a time when judgment after judgment had fallen upon all Israel without improving it. And one of these past judgments was the scourging of Ephraim by Tiglath-pileser. How much or how little of the events which the prophet looks back upon from this ideal standpoint had already taken place, it is impossible to determine; but this is a matter of indifference so far as the prophecy is concerned. The prophet, from his ideal standing-place, had not only this or that behind him, but all that is expressed in this section by perfects and aorists (Ges. 129, 2, b). And we already know from Isaiah 2:9; Isaiah 5:25, that he sued the future conversive as the preterite of the ideal past. We therefore translate the whole in the present tense. In outward arrangement there is no section of Isaiah so symmetrical as this. In chapter 5 we found one partial approach to the strophe in similarity of commencement, and another in chapter 2 in similarity of conclusion. But here Isaiah 5:25 is adapted as the refrain of four symmetrical strophes. We will take each strophe by itself.

Strophe 1. Isa 9:8-12 "The Lord sends out a word against Jacob, and it descends into Israel. And all the people must make atonement, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, saying in pride and haughtiness of heart, 'Bricks are fallen down, and we build with square stones; sycamores are hewn down, and we put cedars in their place.' Jehovah raises Rezin's oppressors high above him, and pricks up his enemies: Aram from the east, and Philistines from the west; they devour Israel with full mouth. For all this His anger is not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still." The word (dâbâr) is both in nature and history the messenger of the Lord: it runs quickly through the earth (Psalm 147:15, Psalm 147:18), and when sent by the Lord, comes to men to destroy or to heal (Psalm 107:20), and never returns to its sender void (Isaiah 55:10-11). Thus does the Lord now send a word against Jacob (Jacob, as in Isaiah 2:5); and this heavenly messenger descends into Israel (nâphal, as in Daniel 4:28, and like the Arabic nazala, which is the word usually employed to denote the communication of divine revelation), taking shelter, as it were, in the soul of the prophet. Its immediate commission is directed against Ephraim, which has been so little humbled by the calamities that have fallen upon it since the time of Jehu, that the people are boasting that they will replace bricks and sycamores (or sycamines, from shikmin), that wide-spread tree (1 Kings 10:27), with works of art and cedars. "We put in their place:" nachaliph is not used here as in Job 14:7, where it signifies to sprout again (nova germina emittere), but as in Isaiah 40:31; Isaiah 41:1, where it is construed with כּח (strength), and signifies to renew (novas vires assumere). In this instance, when the object is one external to the subject, the meaning is to substitute (substituere), like the Arabic achlafa, to restore. The poorest style of building in the land is contrasted with the best; for "the sycamore is a tree which only flourishes in the plain, and there the most wretched houses are still built of bricks dried in the sun, and of knotty beams of sycamore."

(Note: Rosen, Topographisches aus Jerusalem.)

These might have been destroyed by the war, but more durable and stately buildings would rise up in their place. Ephraim, however, would be made to feel this defiance of the judgments of God (to "know," as in Hosea 9:7; Ezekiel 25:14). Jehovah would give the adversaries of Rezin authority over Ephraim, and instigate his foes: sicsēc, as in Isaiah 19:2, from sâcac, in its primary sense of "prick," figere, which has nothing to do with the meanings to plait and cover, but from which we have the words שׂך, סך, a thorn, nail, or plug, and which is probably related to שׂכה, to view, lit., to fix; hence pilpel, to prick up, incite, which is the rendering adopted by the Targum here and in Isaiah 19:2, and by the lxx at Isaiah 19:2. There is no necessity to quote the talmudic sicsēc, to kindle (by friction), which is never met with in the metaphorical sense of exciting. It would be even better to take our sicsēc as an intensive form of sâcac, used in the same sense as the Arabic, viz., to provide one's self with weapons, to arm; but this is probably a denominative from sicca, signifying offensive armour, with the idea of pricking and spearing - a radical notion, from which it would be easy to get at the satisfactory meaning, to spur on or instigate. "The oppressors of Rezin" tzâr Retzı̄n, a simple play upon the words, like hoi goi in Isaiah 1:4, and many others in Isaiah) are the Assyrians, whose help had been sought by Ahaz against Rezin; though perhaps not these exclusively, but possibly also the Trachonites, for example, against whom the mountain fortress Rezı̄n appears to have been erected, to protect the rich lands of eastern Hauran. In Isaiah 9:12 the range of vision stretches over all Israel. It cannot be otherwise, for the northern kingdom never suffered anything from the Philistines; whereas an invasion of Judah by the Philistines was really one of the judgments belonging to the time of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:16-19). Consequently by Israel here we are to understand all Israel, the two halves of which would become a rich prize to the enemy. Ephraim would be swallowed up by Aram - namely, by those who had been subjugated by Asshur, and were now tributary to it - and Judah would be swallowed up by the Philistines. But this strait would be very far from being the end of the punishments of God. Because Israel would not turn, the wrath of God would not turn away.

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