James 5:5
You have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; you have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Ye have lived in pleasure.—And what an indictment is this brought against them by the Apostle:—Ye revelled upon earth, and wantoned; ye nourished your hearts in a day of slaughter. The pleasure and wantonness wherein the rich had lived, the selfishness with which they had cared for their own hearts, in a time of death for others—nay, preparation of like for themselves: this is the aggravated wrong, and the inexpiable shame. In the Received text above they are accused of having “nourished their hearts as in a day of slaughter,” the cries of the victims thus seeming an addition to their own delights; but the charge against them is heavy enough without this insertion.

As they had dealt to others, so the vengeance of God dealt with them. The Passover called together the richest Jews from all parts of the earth, and they themselves were the victims in their last sacrifice. No words can overdraw the fury of the Roman onset, under Titus, when the Temple floors ran with blood, and the roofs raged in fire till all was utter desolation.

James 5:5-6. Ye have lived in pleasure, and have been wanton Ετρυφησατε και εσπαταλησατε. The former word signifies, ye have lived luxuriously; or, as the Vulgate has it, Epulati estis, ye have feasted; it being intended of their luxuries and intemperance in eating and drinking: the latter word is intended of their indulging themselves in lasciviousness and carnal lusts. Ye have nourished — Or cherished; your hearts — Have indulged yourselves to the uttermost; as in a day of slaughter — That is, as beasts are fed for a day of slaughter; or, as the words may be rendered, as in a day of sacrifice, which were solemn feast-days among the Jews. The apostle’s meaning is, both that the rich Jews pampered themselves every day, as the luxurious did on high festival-days; and that, by their luxury and lasciviousness, they had rendered themselves fit to be destroyed in the day of God’s wrath. Ye have condemned and killed, τον δικαιον, the Just One — Many just men, and in particular that Just One, termed, (Acts 3:14,) the Holy One and Just. They had killed Stephen, also, and they afterward killed James, the writer of this epistle, surnamed the Just. But the expression might be intended to comprehend all the righteous persons who were murdered by the Jews from first to last. And he — The Just One; doth not resist you — With that display of power which he can easily exert to your utter destruction, and therefore you are secure. But the day will speedily come when God will avenge his own cause, and pour out upon you the judgments he has threatened.5:1-6 Public troubles are most grievous to those who live in pleasure, and are secure and sensual, though all ranks suffer deeply at such times. All idolized treasures will soon perish, except as they will rise up in judgment against their possessors. Take heed of defrauding and oppressing; and avoid the very appearance of it. God does not forbid us to use lawful pleasures; but to live in pleasure, especially sinful pleasure, is a provoking sin. Is it no harm for people to unfit themselves for minding the concerns of their souls, by indulging bodily appetites? The just may be condemned and killed; but when such suffer by oppressors, this is marked by God. Above all their other crimes, the Jews had condemned and crucified that Just One who had come among them, even Jesus Christ the righteous.Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth - One of the things to which the rich are peculiarly addicted. Their wealth is supposed to be of value, because it furnishes them the means of doing it. Compare Luke 12:19; Luke 16:19. The word translated "lived in pleasure, (τρυφάω truphaō) occurs only here in the New Testament. It means, to live delicately, luxuriously, at ease. There is not in the word essentially the idea or vicious indulgence, but that which characterizes those who live for enjoyment. They lived in ease and affluence on the avails of the labors of others; they indulged in what gratified the taste, and pleased the ear and the eye, while those who contributed the means of this were groaning under oppression. A life of mere indolence and ease, of delicacy and luxury, is nowhere countenanced in the Bible; and even where unconnected with oppression and wrong to others, such a mode of living is regarded as inconsistent with the purpose for which God made man, and placed him on the earth. See Luke 12:19-20. Every man has high and solemn duties to perform, and there is enough to be done on earth to give employment to every human being, and to fill up every hour in a profitable and useful way.

And been wanton - This word now probably conveys to most minds a sense which is not in the original. Our English word is now commonly used in the sense of "lewd, lustful, lascivious." It was, however, formerly used in the sense of "sportive, joyous, gay," and was applied to anything that was variable or fickle. The Greek word used here (σπαταλάω spatalaō) means, to live luxuriously or voluptuously. Compare the notes at 1 Timothy 5:6, where the word is explained. It does not refer necessarily to gross criminal pleasures, though the kind of living here referred to often leads to such indulgences. There is a close connection between what the apostle says here, and what he refers to in the previous verses - the oppression of others, and the withholding of what is due to those who labor. Such acts of oppression and wrong are commonly resorted to in order to obtain the means of luxurious living, and the gratification of sensual pleasures. In all countries where slavery exists, the things here referred to are found in close connection. The fraud and wrong by which the reward of hard toil is withheld from the slave is connected with indolence and sensual indulgence on the part of the master.

Ye have nourished your hearts - Or, yourselves - the word hearts here being equivalent to themselves. The meaning is, that they appeared to have been fattening themselves, like stall-fed beasts, for the day of slaughter. As cattle are carefully fed, and are fattened with a view to their being slaughtered, so they seemed to have been fattoned for the slaughter that was to come on them - the day of vengeance. Thus many now live. They do no work; they contribute nothing to the good of society; they are mere consumers - fruges, consumere nati; and, like stall-fed cattle, they seem to live only with reference to the day of slaughter, and to the recompense which awaits them after death.

As in a day of slaughter - There has been much variety in the interpretation of this expression. Robinson (lex.) renders it, "like beasts in the day of slaughter, without care or forethought." Rosenmuller (Morgenland) supposes that it means, as in a festival; referring, as he thinks, to the custom among the ancients of having a feast when a part of the animal was consumed in sacrifice, and the rest was eaten by the worshippers. So Benson. On such occasions, indulgence was given to appetite almost without limit; and the idea then would be, that they had given themselves up to a life of pampered luxury. But probably the more correct idea is, that they had fattened themselves as for the day of destruction; that is, as animals are fattened for slaughter. They lived only to eat and drink, and to enjoy life. But, by such a course, they were as certainly preparing for perdition, as cattle were prepared to be killed by being stall-fed.

5. Translate, "Ye have luxuriated … and wantoned." The former expresses luxurious effeminacy; the latter, wantonness and prodigality. Their luxury was at the expense of the defrauded poor (Jas 5:4).

on the earth—The same earth which has been the scene of your wantonness, shall be the scene of the judgment coming on you: instead of earthly delights ye shall have punishments.

nourished … hearts—that is glutted your bodies like beasts to the full extent of your hearts' desire; ye live to eat, not eat to live.

as in a day of slaughter—The oldest authorities omit "as." Ye are like beasts which eat to their hearts' content on the very day of their approaching slaughter, unconscious it is near. The phrase answers to "the last days," Jas 5:3, which favors Alford's translation there, "in," not "for."

Ye have lived in pleasure; luxuriously and deliciously, giving up yourselves to your sensual appetites, Amos 6:4-6 Luke 16:19,25.

On the earth; where you place your happiness without looking higher, and from whence you fetch your delights, Philippians 3:19.

And been wanton: the same word is used 1 Timothy 5:6; it seems to imply effeminate, lascivious behaviour, as the effect of their riotous living.

Ye have nourished your hearts: either by a Hebrew phrase, ye have nourished your hearts, for ye have nourished yourselves, Esther 6:6 Job 10:13; or, ye have cheered up and encouraged your hearts in your luxury by pampering your flesh, {Luke 12:19} and feeding not to the satisfaction of nature, but the inflaming of your lusts.

As in a day of slaughter; either securely, and without fear of the destruction coming upon you, as sheep graze quietly, though by and by to be brought to the shambles; or rather, in a day of slaughter, i.e. in a day of solemn feasting, when many beasts were killed in sacrifice, on which they were wont to feast, Proverbs 7:14 17:1. They made every day a feasting day, and that, too, lavishing out other men’s dues upon their own flesh, and sparing from their labourers that they might spend upon their lusts. This he brings to aggravate their sin. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth,.... This is said of other rich men; for all that is here said is not to be understood of the same individuals, but some things of one, and some of another; some made no use of their riches, either for themselves, or others; some did make use of them, and employed the poor, and then would not give them their wages; and others lived a voluptuous and luxurious life, indulged themselves in carnal lusts and pleasures, and gratified the senses by eating, drinking, gaming, and so were dead while they lived. The phrase suggests, that their pleasures were but short lived, but for a season, even while they were on earth; and that hereafter they would not live in pleasure:

and been wanton; through the abundance and plenty of good things, their delicious way of living, and the swing of pleasures which they took; the allusion is to fatted beasts, which being in good pastures, grow fat and wanton:

ye have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter, when beasts were slain for some extraordinary entertainment, or for the solemn festivals and sacrifices the Jews, when they lived more deliciously than at other times; and then the sense is, that these rich men fared sumptuously every day; every day was a festival with them; they indulged themselves in intemperance; they ate and drank, not merely what was necessary, and satisfying, and cheering to nature, but to excess, and gorged, and filled themselves in an extravagant manner: the Syriac version, instead of "hearts", reads "bodies" and one copy reads, "your flesh": and the last phrase may be rendered, as it is in the same version, "as unto", or "for the day of slaughter"; and so the Arabic version, "ye have nourished your hearts, as fattened for the day of slaughter": like beasts that are fattened in order to be killed, so were they preparing and fitting up by their sins for destruction.

Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have {b} nourished your hearts, as in a {c} day of slaughter.

(b) You have pampered yourselves.

(c) The Hebrews call a day that is appointed to solemn banqueting, a day of slaughter or feasting.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Jam 5:5. A second sin of the rich, namely, their luxurious and gluttonous life, which forms a sharp contrast to the toilsome life of the labourers.

ἐτρυφήσατεἐσπαταλήσατε] synonymous terms: τρυφᾶν, in the N. T. ἅπ. λεγ, in the LXX. Nehemiah 9:25; Isaiah 66:11 (Isaiah 57:4). σπαταλᾷν, only here and in 1 Timothy 5:6; in the LXX. Ezekiel 16:49; Amos 6:4, and other places. Hottinger thus states the distinction between them: τρυφᾷν deliciarum est et exquisitae voluptatis; σπαταλᾶν luxuriae atque prodigalitatis; comp. the description of the rich man in Luke 16:19. These and the following verbs are in the aorist, not “because the conduct of the rich is described as viewed from the day of judgment” (1st ed. of this commentary; similarly also Wiesinger), for “this does not suit the present ἀντιτάσσεται” (Gunkel), but because James will mark the present conduct as a constant occurrence. The addition ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς] forms a sharp contrast to the preceding εἰς τὰ ὦτα κυρίου σαβαώθ. Whilst the Lord in heaven hears the complaints of the unjustly oppressed, the rich on earth enjoy their lusts, undisturbed by the wrath of God, which shall be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18).

ἐθρέψατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν] does not add a new idea to the preceding, but brings forward the fact that the rich in their luxurious living find the satisfaction of the desires of their heart. Luther’s translation: “Ye have pastured your heart,” does not sufficiently correspond to the idea τρέφειν; something bad is evidently denoted by it. Since τρέφειν is literally “to make firm, thick,” it is best here to render it by “to satiate.” Other expositors translate it by “to fatten; “Lange, by “to make fat.τὰς καρδίας is equivalent neither to τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν nor to ὑμᾶς; comp. Acts 14:17, and Meyer on that passage;[225] Winer, p. 141 [E. T. 195].

ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς] corresponds to the preceding ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις. These last times are designated by James with reference to the rich as ἡμέρα σφαγῆς, the day of slaughter, because the sentence of death, which they have incurred, will be directly executed, upon them at the approach of the παρουσία of Christ (comp. Jam 5:7) and the judgment; so also Wiesinger, Brückner, Lange, only the latter arbitrarily understands by the day of slaughter, the day of Israel’s judgment, comprehending the time from the death of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem. This designation of the day of judgment is also found in the O. T., particularly Jeremiah 12:3, LXX.: ἅγνισον αὐτοὺς εἰς ἡμέραν σφαγῆς αὐτῶν; Jeremiah 25:34. By the reading ὡς before ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφ. a comparison occurs, namely, with the beasts who are to be slaughtered, so that Pott after ὡς directly supplies θρέμματα. De Wette explains it: “Ye have pastured your hearts as in the day of slaughter; i.e. according to the comparison with beasts, who on the day on which they are to be slaughtered feed carelessly and devour greedily;” so also Bouman. But the idea “carelessly and greedily” is introduced; also the comparison is unsuitable, since beasts on the day of slaughter do not eat more greedily than on other days. Other expositors, as Wolf, Augusti, Hottinger, and others, take ἐν as equivalent to εἰς; Hottinger: corpora vestra aluistis, tanquam pecora, quae saginari solent ad mactationem; but this change of prepositions is arbitrary. Several expositors, as Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Laurentius, Bengel, and others, understand by ἡμέρα σφαγῆς the day of sacrifice; Calvin: addit similitudinem, sicut etc., quia solebant in sacrificiis solemnibus liberalius vesci. quam pro quotidiano more; the meaning then is: tota vita vestra est quasi perpetuum epulum ac festum continuum (Laurentius); but that expression never elsewhere occurs in this signification. Had James thought on the sacrificial feast or the like, he would have expressed it more definitely; besides, by this explanation the reference to the judgment is entirely awanting, and only the luxurious life is described; but this contradicts the character of the whole section, for if James, from Jam 5:4 onwards, assigns the reason of ταλαιπωρίαι, he does this not without an earnest pointing to the judgment and its nearness.

[225] Meyer: “The heart is filled with food, inasmuch as the sensation of being filled, the pleasant feeling of satisfaction, is in the heart.”Jam 5:5. ἐτρυφήσατε: ἅπ. λεγ. in N.T.; it occurs in Sir 14:4 for the Hebrew בוע,[59] which means “to revel,” followed by ב. Luther translates: Ihr habt wohlgelebet, “Ye have lived well”; but the German word “schwelgen” so exactly describes the Greek that one wonders why he did not adopt it; the English “to revel” comes nearest to it, and this is the R.V. rendering of the word in the Sir. passage referred to. τρυφᾶν with its compounds is used in a good as well as in a bad sense; for the former see Psalm 37:4; Psalm 37:11; Isaiah 55:2; Isaiah 66:11; Nehemiah 9:25.—ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς: the contrast is between their enjoyment of the good things of the earth and what their lot is to be hereafter; cf. Luke 16:25, “Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art in anguish”.—ἐσπαταλήσατε: only elsewhere in N.T. in 1 Timothy 5:6; it occurs in Ezekiel 16:49 of the women of Jerusalem who are compared to those of Sodom; see also Sir 21:15; the compound κατασπ. occurs in Amos 6:4; Proverbs 29:21; neither the word itself nor its compound is used in a good sense, expressing as it does the living of a life of wanton self-indulgence.—ἐθρέψατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν: this use of καρδία is thoroughly Hebraic, לב being used in a very wide sense in Hebrew, cf. Psalm 104:15, “… and bread that strengtheneth man’s heart” (לבב which does not differ from לב in meaning), cf. Jdg 19:5.—ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς: there is something extremely significant in this quotation from Jeremiah 12:3, because Jeremiah uses this expression (יום הרגה) as the day of judgment; and not only so, but this prophet had also coined a new word for Gehenna, viz., “Geharêgah” = “the valley of slaughter” (Jeremiah 7:32; Jeremiah 19:6). These expressions—“day of slaughter” and “valley of slaughter”—belong to Jeremiah (Enoch, xvi. 1 quotes the expression καὶ ἀπὸ ἡμέρας καιροῦ σφαγῆς), and in using the words “day of slaughter” the writer of our Epistle is undoubtedly giving them the meaning that they had originally; the passage before us probably means that these luxurious livers will be revelling in self-indulgence on the very day of judgment, cf. our Lord’s words in Luke 17:27 ff., “They ate, they drank … and the flood came and destroyed them all … after the same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed”. The tense ἐθρέψατε is in accordance with Hebrew usage of regarding a thing in the future as having already taken place; it is wholly in the prophetic style.

[59] This is not biblical Hebrew, which would be התענג (Isaiah 66:11), or התעזן (Nehemiah 9:25); בוע occurs in the Targums, but means there “to shout for joy”.5. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton] Better, Ye lived luxuriously and spent wantonly, the latter word emphasising the lavish and profligate expenditure by which the luxury which the former expresses was maintained.

ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter] Many of the best MSS. omit the particle of comparison, ye nourished your heart in the day of slaughter. With this reading, the “day of slaughter” is that of the carnage and bloodshed of war, such a “sacrifice” as that which the Lord of Hosts had, of old, by the river Euphrates (Jeremiah 46:10), or the “great slaughter” in the land of Idumæa (Isaiah 34:6). The “rich men” of Judæa, in their pampered luxury, were but fattening themselves, all unconscious of their doom, as beasts are fattened, for the slaughter. The insertion of the particle of comparison suggests a different aspect of the same thought. A sacrifice was commonly followed by a sumptuous feast upon what had been offered. Comp. the union of the two thoughts in the harlot’s words (“I have peace-offerings with me; this day have I paid my vows”) in Proverbs 7:14. Taking this view St James reproaches the self-indulgent rich with making their life one long continuous feast. The former interpretation seems preferable, both on critical and exegetical grounds.Jam 5:5. Ἐτρυφήσατε, ye have lived in pleasure) with specious delights, which you have supported from that very hire.—ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, on the earth) now about to be laid waste.—καὶ ἐσπαταλήσατε, and ye have been wanton) with luxury, sordid and mad, and wasting yourselves. Luxury (τρυφὴ) produces wantonness (σπατάληι); and wantonness is closely joined to slaughter (τῇ σφαγῇ). James describes together the pleasure and the cruelty of the rich, as is suitable to the gradation.—ὠς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς, as in the day of slaughter) An adage. The slaughter here intended is not that of the rich, but of oxen and sheep, etc., for banquets. The Æthiop. omits it;[67] Mill approves of the omission. Baumgarten blames me for not refuting that approbation; but I have sufficiently refuted such matters, Appar. p. 443 (Ed. ii. p. 78).

[67] AB Vulg. Memph. omit ὡς, but support ἐν ἡμέρᾳ (ἡμέραις) σφαγῆς. Rec. Text prefixes the ὡς without good authority. Æthiop. Vers. omits all the words.—E.Verse 5. - Further description of their sin. Ye have lived in pleasure (ἐτρυφήσατε, here only) on the earth, and been wanton (ἐσπαλατήσατε, only here and 1 Timothy 5:6); ye have nourished your hearts in a day of slaughter. The ὡς of the Received Text ("as in a day," etc., A.V.) is quite wrong; it is wanting in א, A, B, Latt., Memphitic. The clause seems to imply that they were like brute beasts, feeding securely on the very day of their slaughter. Vulgate (Clem.), in die occisionis; but Codex Amiat., in diem occisionis. The actual expression, ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς, may have been suggested by Jeremiah 12:3, "Prepare them for the day of slaughter (LXX., εἰς ἡμέραν σφαγῆς αὐτῶν)." Ye have lived in pleasure (ἐτρυφήσατε)

Only here in New Testament. See on 2 Peter 2:13, on the kindred noun τρυφή, riot or revel. Rev., ye have lived delicately.

Been wanton (ἐσπαταλήσατε)

Only here and 1 Timothy 5:6. Ἐτρυφήσατε denotes dainty living: this word, luxurious or prodigal living. Rev., taken your pleasure, is colorless, and is no improvement on the A. V.

As in a day of slaughter (ὡς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς)

All the best texts reject ὡς, as. The meaning of the passage is disputed. Some find the key to it in the words last days (James 5:3). The phrase day of slaughter is used for a day of judgment, Jeremiah 12:3; Jeremiah 25:(Sept.). According to this, the meaning is, the day of judgment, at the supposed near coming of Christ. Others explain that these men are like beasts, which, on the very day of their slaughter, gorge themselves in unconscious security.

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