But they also have erred through wine
Either they that sat in judgment, and turned the battle to the gate, as Jarchi interprets it: or rather, since the Lord was a spirit of judgment and strength to those, the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin in later times are meant, in the latter end of Hezekiah's reign, or in the times of Manasseh, or nearer the Babylonish captivity; these tribes, which professed the true religion, and who had the word, and worship, and ordinances of God among them, even these were guilty of the same sin of drunkenness, as the ten tribes that had apostatized; there were the drunkards of Judah, as well Ephraim, who "erred through wine"; they erred and strayed from the rule of the divine word by excessive drinking, and this led them on to other sins, as drunkenness commonly does; and they were not only through it guilty of errors in practice, but in principle also; they made sad mistakes, as in life and conversation, so in doctrine, their memories, understandings, and judgments, being sadly affected and beclouded through this sin: and through strong drink are out the of way;
of God and his word; out of the way of truth and godliness: it signifies the same as before, only expressed in different words. The Targum renders the word for "strong drink", which designs any liquor that makes men drunk, by "old wine", which is accounted the best: the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink;
committed sin, by drinking to excess, and made themselves unfit for the duties of their office, and were guilty of sad mistakes in the performance of it; the priest sinned by so doing against an express command, and made himself incapable of distinguishing between the holy and unholy, the clean and the unclean, ( Leviticus 10:9 Leviticus 10:10 ) though this need not be restrained to the priest only, for the word "cohen" signifies a prince as well as priest; and it is not fitting for kings to drink wine, nor princes strong drink, to excess, ( Proverbs 31:4 Proverbs 31:5 ) civil as well as ecclesiastical rulers may be here designed, though chiefly the latter, men that should set the best of examples to others; and the "prophet", as Kimchi observes, intends not the true, but false prophets. The Targum renders it a "scribe"; these and the priests are frequently mentioned together in the New Testament, and were both erroneous; and their errors here, both as to doctrine and practice, are imputed to their drunkenness; a very scandalous sin, especially in persons of such a character: they are swallowed up of wine;
they not only greedily swallowed it down, and were filled with it, but were swallowed up by it, drowned in it, and lost the exercise of their sense and reason, and were ruined and destroyed by it, and made wholly unfit for such sacred offices in which they were: they are out of the way through strong drink;
out of the of their duty, by sinning in this manner; and out the way of the performance of their office, being rendered incapable of it: they err in vision:
these were the prophets, the seers, who pretended to the visions of God, and related them to the people as such; but they mistook the imaginations of their crazy heads, intoxicated with liquor, for the visions of God; they erred in prophesying, which may be meant by "vision", they delivered out false prophecies, false doctrines, and grievous errors, of fatal consequence to the people; or, as Kimchi further interprets it, they erred "in seeing"; they mistook in those things which were plain and obvious to the eye of everyone, in things clear and manifest; drunkenness affects the eyes both of the body and of the mind, that a man can see clearly with neither. The Targum is,
``they turned after, or declined unto, sweet meat;''as if they were guilty of gluttony as well as drunkenness; but it is not usual for drunkards to crave sweet meat, but rather what is relishing: they stumble [in] judgment;
or "reel" F18 and stagger, as drunken men do: this refers to the priest, who, through drunkenness, made sad hobbling work in expounding the law, and giving the sense of it, and in pronouncing sentence of judgment in matters of controversy brought before him, to whom those things appertained, ( Malachi 2:7 Malachi 2:8 ) ( Deuteronomy 17:8-11 ) .
F18 (hylylp wqp) "titubant in judicatione", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gataker.