Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
Isa 24:1-23. The Last Times of the World in General, and of Judah and the Church in Particular.
The four chapters (the twenty-fourth through the twenty-seventh) form one continuous poetical prophecy: descriptive of the dispersion and successive calamities of the Jews (Isa 24:1-12); the preaching of the Gospel by the first Hebrew converts throughout the world (Isa 24:13-16); the judgments on the adversaries of the Church and its final triumph (Isa 24:16-23); thanksgiving for the overthrow of the apostate faction (Isa 25:1-12), and establishment of the righteous in lasting peace (Isa 26:1-21); judgment on leviathan and entire purgation of the Church (Isa 27:1-13). Having treated of the several nations in particular—Babylon, Philistia, Moab, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Edom, and Tyre (the miniature representative of all, as all kingdoms flocked into it)—he passes to the last times of the world at large and of Judah the representative and future head of the churches.
1. the earth—rather, "the land" of Judah (so in Isa 24:3, 5, 6; Joe 1:2). The desolation under Nebuchadnezzar prefigured that under Titus.
And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
2. as with the people, so with the priest—All alike shall share the same calamity: no favored class shall escape (compare Eze 7:12, 13; Ho 4:9; Re 6:15).
The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word.
The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
4. world—the kingdom of Israel; as in Isa 13:11, Babylon.
haughty—literally, "the height" of the people: abstract for concrete, that is, the high people; even the nobles share the general distress.
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
5. earth—rather, "the land."
defiled under … inhabitants—namely, with innocent blood (Ge 4:11; Nu 35:33; Ps 106:38).
laws … ordinance … everlasting covenant—The moral laws, positive statutes, and national covenant designed to be for ever between God and them.
Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
6. earth—the land.
burned—namely, with the consuming wrath of heaven: either internally, as in Job 30:30 [Rosenmuller]; or externally, the prophet has before his eyes the people being consumed with the withering dryness of their doomed land (so Joe 1:10, 12), [Maurer].
The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth, all the merryhearted do sigh.
7. mourneth—because there are none to drink it [Barnes]. Rather, "is become vapid" [Horsley].
languisheth—because there are none to cultivate it now.
The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth.
8. (Re 18:22).
They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.
9. with a song—the usual accompaniment of feasts.
strong drink—(See on Isa 5:11). "Date wine" [Horsley].
bitter—in consequence of the national calamities.
The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in.
10. city of confusion—rather, "desolation." What Jerusalem would be; by anticipation it is called so. Horsley translates, "The city is broken down; it is a ruin."
shut up—through fear; or rather, "choked up by ruins."
There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone.
11. crying for wine—to drown their sorrows in drink (Isa 16:9); Joe 1:5, written about the same time, resembles this.
In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction.
12. with destruction—rather "crash" [Gesenius]. "With a great tumult the gate is battered down" [Horsley].
When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done.
13. the land—Judea. Put the comma after "land," not after "people." "There shall be among the people (a remnant left), as the shaking (the after-picking) of an olive tree"; as in gathering olives, a few remain on the highest boughs (Isa 17:5, 6).
They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the LORD, they shall cry aloud from the sea.
14. They—those who are left: the remnant.
sing for the majesty of the Lord—sing a thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord, who has so mercifully preserved them.
from the sea—from the distant lands beyond the sea, whither they have escaped.
Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, even the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.
15. in the fires—Vitringa translates, "in the caves." Could it mean the fires of affliction (1Pe 1:7)? They were exiles at the time. The fires only loose the carnal bonds off the soul, without injuring a hair, as in the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Lowth reads, in the islands (Eze 26:18). Rather translate for "fires," "in the regions of morning light," that is, the east, in antithesis to the "isles of the sea," that is, the west [Maurer]. Wheresoever ye be scattered, east or west, still glorify the Lord (Mal 1:11).
From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.
16. Songs to God come in together to Palestine from distant lands, as a grand chorus.
glory to the righteous—the burden of the songs (Isa 26:2, 7). Amidst exile, the loss of their temple, and all that is dear to man, their confidence in God is unshaken. These songs recall the joy of other times and draw from Jerusalem in her present calamities, the cry, "My leanness." Horsley translates, "glory to the Just One"; then My leanness expresses his sense of man's corruption, which led the Jews, "the treacherous dealers" (Jer 5:11), to crucify the Just One; and his deficiency of righteousness which made him need to be clothed with the righteousness of the Just One (Ps 106:15).
treacherous dealers—the foreign nations that oppress Jerusalem, and overcome it by stratagem (so in Isa 21:2) [Barnes].
Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth.
17. This verse explains the wretchedness spoken of in Isa 24:16. Jeremiah (Jer 48:43, 44) uses the same words. They are proverbial; Isa 24:18 expressing that the inhabitants were nowhere safe; if they escaped one danger, they fell into another, and worse, on the opposite side (Am 5:19). "Fear" is the term applied to the cords with feathers of all colors which, when fluttered in the air, scare beasts into the pitfall, or birds into the snare. Horsley makes the connection. Indignant at the treatment which the Just One received, the prophet threatens the guilty land with instant vengeance.
And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake.
18. noise of … fear—the shout designed to rouse the game and drive it into the pitfall.
windows … open—taken from the account of the deluge (Ge 7:11); the flood-gates. So the final judgments of fire on the apostate world are compared to the deluge (2Pe 3:5-7).
The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.
19. earth—the land: image from an earthquake.
The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
20. removed like a cottage—(See on Isa 1:8). Here, a hanging couch, suspended from the trees by cords, such as Niebuhr describes the Arab keepers of lands as having, to enable them to keep watch, and at the same time to be secure from wild beasts. Translate, "Shall wave to and fro like a hammock" swung about by the wind.
heavy upon it—like an overwhelming burden.
not rise again—not meaning, that it never would rise (Isa 24:23), but in those convulsions it would not rise, it would surely fall.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.
21. host of … high ones—the heavenly host, that is, either the visible host of heaven (the present economy of nature, affected by the sun, moon, and stars, the objects of idolatry, being abolished, Isa 65:17; 60:19, simultaneously with the corrupt polity of men); or rather, "the invisible rulers of the darkness of this world," as the antithesis to "kings of the earth" shows. Angels, moreover, preside, as it were, over kingdoms of the world (Da 10:13, 20, 21).
And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
22. in the pit—rather, "for the pit" [Horsley]. "In the dungeon" [Maurer]. Image from captives thrust together into a dungeon.
prison—that is, as in a prison. This sheds light on the disputed passage, 1Pe 3:19, where also the prison is figurative: The "shutting up" of the Jews in Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar, and again under Titus, was to be followed by a visitation of mercy "after many days"—seventy years in the case of the former—the time is not yet elapsed in the case of the latter. Horsley takes "visited" in a bad sense, namely, in wrath, as in Isa 26:14; compare Isa 29:6; the punishment being the heavier in the fact of the delay. Probably a double visitation is intended, deliverance to the elect, wrath to hardened unbelievers; as Isa 24:23 plainly contemplates judgments on proud sinners, symbolized by the "sun" and "moon."
Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.
23. (Jer 3:17). Still future: of which Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem amidst hosannas was a pledge.
his ancients—the elders of His people; or in general, His ancient people, the Jews. After the overthrow of the world kingdoms. Jehovah's shall be set up with a splendor exceeding the light of the sun and moon under the previous order of things (Isa 60:19, 20).