Micah 7:3
That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asks, and the judge asks for a reward; and the great man, he utters his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.
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(3) That they may do evil with both hands earnestly.—Literally, well. Dr. Benisch, in his Old Testament newly translated under the supervision of the Rev. the Chief Rabbi of the United Congregations of the British Empire (1852), avoids the oxymoron of doing “evil” “well” by translating the passage, “concerning the evil which their hands should amend,” which satisfactorily harmonises with the rest of the passage.

So they wrap it up.—Literally, twist it, and pervert the course of justice.

Micah 7:3-4. That they may do evil with both hands, &c. — With all diligence; earnestly — Hebrew, להישׂיב, to good it; that is, to do it thoroughly and effectually. “Their hands are bent on iniquity, to execute it fully.” So Dr. Wheeler. The prince asketh — Namely, a gift; to do any one a favour, or good. And the judge asketh for a reward — And the judge will not pass a decision till he has had a bribe to engage him to do it. And the great man uttereth his mischievous desire — The great man at court, who can do what he will there, is bold to declare plainly his unjust, oppressive design; or, the mischief of his soul, as הות נפשׁוproperly signifies. So they wrap it up — The prince, the judge, and the great man, agreeing in their ill designs, make a threefold cord of iniquity: or, they twist one sin upon another, the latter to maintain or cover the former, and all jointly promote injustice, violence, and cruelty. The best of them is a brier — Or, like a brier. They catch fast hold on, and retain, whatever they can lay their hands on. The most upright is sharper than a thorn — Even the best among them would wound and injure on every side all that come near them. The day of thy watchmen — The day in which they shall sound the alarm; and thy visitation cometh — Namely, surely and speedily. The time of vengeance is coming, which hath been foretold by the prophets of former times, as well as the present, called here watchmen, as they are by Ezekiel 3:7, and by Hosea 9:8; then God will visit for all the sins thou hast committed against him. Watchmen may signify magistrates as well as prophets, (see note on Isaiah 56:10,) and then the words import the time when God will call both princes and prophets to account for their unfaithfulness in the discharge of their several offices. Now — When that day is come; shall be their perplexity — They shall be so entangled and insnared, as not to know what way to take.7:1-7 The prophet bemoans himself that he lived among a people ripening apace for ruin, in which many good persons would suffer. Men had no comfort, no satisfaction in their own families or in their nearest relations. Contempt and violation of domestic duties are a sad symptom of universal corruption. Those are never likely to come to good who are undutiful to their parents. The prophet saw no safety or comfort but in looking to the Lord, and waiting on God his salvation. When under trials, we should look continually to our Divine Redeemer, that we may have strength and grace to trust in him, and to be examples to those around us.That they may do evil with both hands earnestly - (Literally, upon evil both hands to do well,) that is, "both their hands are upon evil to do it well," or "earnestly" , as our translation gives the meaning; only the Hebrew expresses more, that evil is their good, and their good or excellence is in evil. Bad men gain a dreadful skill and wisdom in evil, as Satan has; and cleverness in evil is their delight. Jerome: "They call the evil of their hands good." "The prince asketh, and the judge asketh (or, it may more readily be supplied, judgeth, doth that which is his office,) against right "for a reward", (which was strictly forbidden,) "and the great man he uttereth his mischievos desire" (Deuteronomy 16:19. See above Micah 3:11), (or the "desire of his soul".) Even the shew of good is laid aside; whatever the heart conceives and covets, it utters; - mischief to others and in the end to itself.

The mischief comes forth from the soul, and returns upon it. "The elders and nobles in the city" 1 Kings 21:8, 1 Kings 21:11, as well as Ahab, took part, (as one instance,) in the murder of Naboth. The great man, however, here, is rather the source of the evil, which he induces others to effect; so that as many as there were great, so many sources were there of oppression. All, prince, judges, the great, unite in the ill, and this not once only, but they are ever doing it and "so they wrap it up", (literally, twist, intertwine it.) Things are twisted, either to strengthen, or to pervert or intricate them. It might mean, they "strengthen" it, that which their soul covets against; the poor, or they "pervert" it, the cause of the poor.

3. That they may do evil with both hands earnestly—literally, "Their hands are for evil that they may do it well" (that is, cleverly and successfully).

the great man, he—emphatic repetition. As for the great man, he no sooner has expressed his bad desire (literally, the "mischief" or "lust of his soul"), than the venal judges are ready to wrest the decision of the case according to his wish.

so they wrap it up—The Hebrew is used of intertwining cords together. The "threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Ec 4:12); here the "prince," the "judge," and the "great man" are the three in guilty complicity. "They wrap it up," namely, they conspire to carry out the great man's desire at the sacrifice of justice.

That they may do evil with both hands earnestly: as we render the words, their plain sense will be, that all their diligence, that with both hands they can use, is to set forward evil and mischief. Possibly this clause might bear this reading, Both hands are towards evil; and then the following clause thus, To do good the prince asketh. The prince; the chief ruler, who commissioneth the judge, and should awe him from perverse judging, who should charge the judges as Jehoshaphat did, 2 Chronicles 19:5,6; but, contrarily, here the prince set a price upon his own act in evil.

The judge; the inferior magistrate, commissioned to be judge.

Asketh for a reward: shameless injustice! to sell the innocent, and condemn their cause and persons, and to acquit the guilty, and pronounce them just! for a bribe to make God’s authority which is in them to act so directly against itself, is abominably wicked, for God’s authority to them is given that they might relieve the poor oppressed, and acquit innocency, but here innocency must buy its safety, or else is sold to danger.

The great man; either the advocates in their courts of judicature, or the great man of interest at court, who can do what he will there.

He uttereth; is bold to speak plainly what bribe he will have, he makes his own demand, whereas they did (whilst a little modest) treat by others, and a servant or under-officer must make the bargain.

His mischievous desire; his unjust, oppressive design and purpose, knowing that his greatness and interest will bear him out in whatever violence he attempts against poor, weak, and unbefriended innocence; he dares for gain set any thing forward.

So they, all three, prince, judge, and great man, wrap it up, or twist it together, consent each to other, and jointly promote violence and bloody cruelty. That they may do evil with both hands earnestly,.... Or "well" (t), strenuously, diligently, to the utmost of their power, labouring at it with all their might and main; as wicked men generally are more industrious, and exert themselves more to do evil than good men do to do good; and even weary themselves to commit iniquity: or, "instead of doing good", as Marinus in Aben Ezra, take a great deal of pains to do evil; work with both hands at it, instead of doing good. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "they prepare their hands for evil"; the Syriac version is, "their hands are read? to evil, and they do not do good"; with which agrees the Targum,

"they do evil with their hands, and do not do good.''

Some make the sense to depend on what goes before and follows; "to do evil, both hands" are open and ready, and they hurt with them; "but to do, good the prince asketh, and the judge for a reward" (u); forward enough to do evil, but very backward to do any good office;

the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and, if they do it, must be bribed, and have a reward for it, even persons of such high character; but this sense is not favoured by, the accents; besides, by what follows, it seems as if the "prince", by whom may be meant the king upon the throne, and the "judge" he that sits upon the bench under him, sought for bribes to do an ill thing; to give a cause wrong against a poor man, and in favour of a rich man that will bribe high:

and the great man he uttereth his mischievous desire; the depravity, corruption, and perverseness of his soul; who is either some great man at court, that, being encouraged by the example of the prince and judge, openly and publicly requires a bribe also to do an ill thing; and without any shame or blushing promises to do it on that consideration; or a counsellor at the bar, who openly declares that he will speak in such a cause, though a bad one, and defend it, and not doubt of carrying it; or else this is some rich wicked man, that seeks to oppress his poor neighbour, and, being favoured by the prince and judge he has bribed, does without fear or shame speak out the wickedness of his heart, and what an ill design he has against his neighbour, whose mischief, hurt, and ruin, he seeks:

so they wrap it up together; or, "twist it together" (w); as cords are, which thereby become strong; slid so these three work up this mischievous business, and strengthen and establish it; and such a threefold cord of wickedness is not easily broken or unravelled: or, "they perplex it" (x); as thick branches of trees are implicated and wrapped together; so these agree to puzzle and perplex a cause, that they may have some show of carrying it with justice and truth. So the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "they trouble it"; confound the matter, and make it dark, dubious, and difficult. The Targum is, "they corrupt it"; or deprave it; put an ill sense on things, and make a wrong construction of them.

(t) "bene", Drusius. (u) So Grotius. (w) "contorquent", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius; "contorquere solent", Burkius; "contortuplicant", Junius, Grotius; so R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 38. 2.((x) "A radice quae intricare significat, atque confusum reddere, atque perplexum", Sanctius,

That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the {c} great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so {d} they wrap it up.

(c) That is, the rich man that is able to give money, abstains from no wickedness or injury.

(d) These men agree among themselves, and conspire with one another to do evil.

3. That they may do evil …] This verse and the first half of the following verse are extremely obscure, and it is most improbable that the text as it stands is correct. In any case, the A.V. rendering of the first clause cannot be maintained; a better one is, ‘(Their) hands are (only) for evil, to do (it) skilfully.’

the prince asketh] ‘Asketh’ the judge to shut his eyes to some act of violence, or to put some righteous man out of the way.

the judge asketh] Rather, ‘the judge doeth it,’ or ‘agreeth to his demand;’ but the ellipsis is harsh, and the probability is that there is some corruption of the text, or that the letters are wrongly grouped in the Massoretic text.

so they wrap it up] Rather, ‘and they weave it together.’ It requires ‘weaving’ to carry an evil desire into effect, for, bad as the times are, it is needful to keep up the forms of justice. Thus, when Ahab wished to get rid of Naboth, it was necessary to persuade the people that his victim had ‘renounced God and the king’ (1 Kings 21:13).Verse 3. - That they may do evil, etc. rather, both hands are upon (equivalent to "busy with") evil to do it thoroughly. This clause and the rest of the verse are very obscure Cheyne supposes the text to be corrupt. Henderson renders, "For evil their hands are well prepared;" so virtually Hitzig, Pusey, and the Septuagint. Caspari agrees rather with the Vulgate (Malum manuum suarum dicunt bonum)," Hands are (busy) upon evil to make (it seem) good," which looks to that extremity of iniquity when men "call evil good, and good evil" (Isaiah 5:20). The general meaning is that they are ready enough to do evil, and, as the next clause says, can be bribed to do anything. The prince asketh; makes some nefarious demand of the judge, some perversion of justice at his hands, as in the case of Naboth (1 Kings 21.). The judge asketh (is ready) for a reward. The judge is willing to do what the prince wishes, if he is bribed for it. LXX., Ὁ κριτής εἰρηνικοὺς λόγους ἐλάλησε, "The judge speaks words of peace" (comp. Micah 3:11; Isaiah 1:23; Zephaniah 3:8). He uttereth his mischievous desire; or, the mischief of his soul. The rich man speaks out unblushingly the evil that he has conceived in his heart, the wicked design which he meditates. So they wrap it up; better, and they weave it together. The prince, the judge, and the rich man weave their evil plan together, to make it strong and right in others' eyes. The passage is altered in meaning by a different grouping of the Hebrew letters, thus: "The prince demandeth (a reward) to do good; and the judge, for the recompense of a great man, uttereth what he himself desireth. And they entangle the good more than briars, and the righteous more than a thorn hedge." The LXX. carries on the sense to the next verse, Καὶ ἐξελοῦμαι τὰ ἀγαθὰ αὐτῶν ὠς σὴς ἐκτρώγων, "And I will destroy their goods as a consuming moth." "Does it not come to pass in that day, is the saying of Jehovah, that I destroy the wise men out of Edom, and discernment from the mountains of Esau? Obadiah 1:9. And thy heroes despair, O Teman, that every one may be cut off by murder from the mountains of Esau." In order to give up the Edomites to destruction at that time, the Lord will take away discernment from their wise men, so that even they will not be able to help them. The destruction of the wise men is not to be understood as signifying that the wise men will all be slain, or slain before any others, but simply that they will be destroyed as wise men by the withdrawal or destruction of their wisdom. This meaning is sustained, not only by the fact that in the second clause tebhūnâh only is mentioned as that which is to be destroyed, but also by the parallel passages, Jeremiah 49:7; Isaiah 19:11; Isaiah 29:14. Jeremiah mentions here the wisdom of the Temanites in particular. That they were celebrated for their wisdom, is evident not only from this passage, but also from the fact that Eliphaz, the chief opponent of Job in argument, was a Temanite (Job 2:1, etc.). With this withdrawal of wisdom and discernment, even the brave warriors lose their courage. The heroes are dismayed (chattū), or fall into despair. Tēmân, which the Chaldee has rendered incorrectly as an appellative, viz., inhabitants of the south (dârōmâ'), is a proper name of the southern district of Idumaea (see at Amos 1:12), so called from Teman, a son of Eliphaz and grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:11, Genesis 36:15). Gibbōrekhâ (thy heroes), with the masculine suffix, the people inhabiting the district being addressed under the name of the district itself. God inflicts this upon Edom with the intention (lema‛an, to this end) that all the Edomites should be cut off. Miqqâtel, from the murdering, by murder (compare Genesis 9:11, where min occurs after yikkârēth in this sense); not "without conflict," as Ewald renders it, for qetel signifies slaying, and not conflict. The thought of connecting miqqâtel with what follows cannot for a moment be entertained (vid., lxx, Syr., Vulg.). It is opposed not only by the authority of the Masoretic punctuation, but still more decisively by the fact, that the stronger and more special word (qetel) cannot precede the weaker and more general one (châmâs), and that the murder of certain fugitives is placed first in the list of crimes committed by Edom upon the Israelites (Obadiah 1:10-14).
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