Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel.
The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.
5:2 The virgin - So she was, when first espoused to God. Upon her land - Broken to pieces upon her own land, and so left as a broken vessel.
For thus saith the Lord GOD; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel.
5:3 By a thousand - That sent out one thousand soldiers. An hundred - Shall lose nine parts of them.
For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
5:4 Ye shall live - It shall be well with you.
But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.
5:5 Seek not - Consult not, worship not the idol at Bethel, Gilgal, or Beersheba.
Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.
5:6 The house of Joseph - The kingdom of the ten tribes, the chief whereof was Ephraim, the son of Joseph. In Beth - el - If once this fire breaks out, all your idols in Beth - el shall not be able to quench it.
Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,
5:7 Ye - Rulers and judges. Judgment - The righteous sentence of the law. To wormwood - Proverbially understood; bitterness, injustice and oppression. Leave off - Make to cease in your courts of judicature.
Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:
5:8 The seven stars - A constellation, whose rising about September was usually accompanied with sweet showers. Orion - Which arising about November brings usually cold, rains and frosts intermixt very seasonable for the earth. The shadow of the earth - The greatest adversity into as great prosperity. Dark with might - Changes prosperity into adversity. That calleth - Commands the vapour to ascend, which he turns into rain; and then pours from the clouds to make the earth fruitful.
That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.
5:9 The strong - The mighty, victorious and insolent. Shall come - Shall rally and form a siege against their besiegers.
They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.
5:10 They - The judges and people. In the gate - Where judges sat, and where the prophets many times delivered their message.
Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.
5:11 Your treading - You utterly oppress the helpless. Ye take - Ye extort from the poor great quantities of wheat, on which he should live.
For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.
5:12 In the gate - In their courts of justice.
Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.
5:13 Shall keep silence - Be forced to it. Evil - Both for the sinfulness of it, and for the troubles, wars, and captivity now at hand.
Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.
5:14 With you - To bless and save you yet.
Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.
5:15 The evil - All evil among the people, and yourselves. Love - Commend, encourage, defend: let your heart be toward good things, and good men. Remnant - What the invasions of enemies, or the civil wars have spared, and left in Samaria and Israel.
Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.
5:16 Therefore - The prophet foreseeing their obstinacy, proceeds to denounce judgment against them. The husbandman - This sort of men are little used to such ceremonies of mourning, but now such also shall be called upon; leave your toil, betake yourselves to publick mourning.
And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD.
5:17 Vineyards - In these places were usually the greatest joy. Pass through - To punish all every where.
Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.
5:18 That desire - Scoffingly, not believing any such day would come. To what end - What do you think to get by it? Is darkness - All adversity, black and doleful. Not light - No joy, or comfort an it.
As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.
5:19 And a bear - You may escape one, but shall fall in another calamity. Into the house - At home you may hope for safety, but there other kind of mischief shall meet you.
Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?
I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
5:21 I hate - Impure and unholy as they are. Will not smell - A savour, of rest or delight, I will not accept and be pleased with.
Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
5:23 Thy songs - Used in their sacrifices, and solemn feasts; herein they imitated the temple - worship, but all was unpleasing to the Lord. Will not hear - Not with delight and acceptance. Thy viols - This one kind of musical instrument is put for all the rest.
But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
5:24 Let judgment - Let justice be administered constantly. Righteousness - Equity. Stream - Bearing down all that opposes it.
Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?
5:25 Have ye - Their fathers and they, tho' at so great a distance of time, are one people, and so the prophet considers them. Unto me - Was it to me, or to your idols, that you offered, even in the wilderness?
But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.
5:26 Ye have borne - Ye carried along with you in the wilderness; the shrine, or canopy in which the image was placed. Moloch - The great idol of the Ammonites. Chiun - Another idol.
Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.
5:27 Therefore - For all your idolatry and other sins, in which you have obstinately continued.