Woe upon the Secure Rulers of the People.

THE PEOPLE GUILTY OF SECURITY AND LUXURY. V. 1. Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, given to a false security, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, those who are apparently without a care as they occupy their mountain dwellings where they consider themselves safe, which are named chief of the nations, the most excellent heads of the chosen people in both Judah and Israel, to whom the house of Israel came, namely, for counsel and direction, for the decision of their controversies. V. 2. Pass ye unto Calneh, a city in Babylonia, on the river Tigris, and see, and from thence go ye to Hamath, the great, a district and city of Syria beyond the extreme northern boundary of Canaan; then go down. to Gath of the Philistines, so that they would visit some of the most powerful of the neighboring nations. Be they better than these kingdoms? that is, these two kingdoms were in no better condition than Judah and Israel, or their border greater than your border? Israel thus ranking at that time with the first of the nations, unexcelled by any of their heathen neighbors. But for this very fact, on account of their reliance upon their prosperity and power, the Lord pronounces a woe upon them. V. 3. Ye that put far away the evil day, refusing to believe that a day of reckoning is near, and cause the seat of violence to come near, so that violence and oppression come ever nearer to them, that they become guilty of these transgressions with ever-increasing frequency. This ignoring of the Lord and His holy will was apparent particularly in their luxurious feasting; v. 4. that lie upon beds of ivory, on costly couches, inlaid with ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, reclining, in luxurious self-indulgence, on the sofas of their dining-rooms, and eat the lambs out of the flock and the calves out of the midst of the stall, in either case the choicest animals, v. 5. that chant to the sound of the viol, in quavering and silly songs, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David, but only for the gratification of their own vanity and sensuality, instead of for the glory of God, as did David; v. 6. that drink wine in bowls, out of sacrificial vessels, such as were used in worship, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments, using only the finest grades for their purpose; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph, literally, "the breach of Joseph," that is, the impending calamity, the destruction of the northern kingdom. This same fact stands out time and again in the history of nations, namely, that they indulge in wanton luxury even while their country is hastening to its ruin.

THE DESTRUCTION OF THE KINGDOM FORETOLD. V. 7. Therefore now shall they, those who indulged themselves in this manner while their country was getting ready for dissolution, go captive with the first that go captive, this being said in bitter irony concerning the position of the rulers in the procession of captives, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves, reclining in careless ease, shall be removed, so that they could no more indulge in feasts and drinking-bouts. V. 8. The Lord God hath sworn by Himself, saith the Lord God of hosts, a most solemn oath, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, the pride which they exhibited regarding their prosperity and power, and hate his palaces, as one evidence of such pride; therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein, both houses and men being delivered into the hands of the enemy to be destroyed. V. 9. And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die, that is, no matter how large the number, not one would escape. V. 10. And a man's uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, literally, "his cousin and his burier," that is, a near relative who had the duty of providing for his burial, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, a last survivor hiding in the innermost recesses of the house, Is there yet any with thee? And he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue, quickly cautioning him not to say any more; for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord, he should not utter Jehovah's name, lest, by doing so, he call the Lord's attention and bring down judgment upon himself. V. 11. For, behold, the Lord commandeth, and He will smite the great house with breaches, so that it would become a total ruin, and the little house with clefts, so that it would be reduced to splinters. Such would be the punishment which would strike the people, which they would not be able to avert by any reliance upon their own might. V. 12. Shall horses run upon the rock? Will one plow there with oxen? As little as either feat is possible, so little is it possible that one, by perverting right and justice into the opposite, can bring deliverance to himself and his country. For ye have turned judgment into gall, justice into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock, the tree which ought to prosper in their midst into wormwood; v. 13. ye which rejoice in a thing of naught, depending upon something which does not exist, except in their own imagination, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength? trusting in the strength of their armies by which they hoped to overcome all enemies. V. 14. But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the Lord, the God of hosts, and they shall afflict you, by overthrowing and oppressing them, from the entering in of Hemath, the northernmost boundary, where the invading army of the Assyrians would enter, unto the river of the wilderness, literally, "the brook of the desert," here most likely that which formed the boundary between Moab and Edom, on the southeastern corner of the Dead Sea. Warfare is one means in the hands of the Lord by which He punishes the pride of nations.