For the land is full of adulterers
Of such as were guilty of corporeal adultery, and of spiritual adultery, which is idolatry. Now, though in this, and in the following verses, the prophet describes the men of his generation, both ecclesiastics and laics; yet also so as to have regard to the Jews in the times of Christ, to which this prophecy has respect; between whom there was a great resemblance; adulteries were so frequent in Christ's time, that the Jews left off the use of the bitter waters F14; and our Lord sometimes calls the generation in which he lived an adulterous one, ( Matthew 12:39 ) ( 16:4 ) ; for because of swearing the land mourneth;
because of false swearing and cursing; because of the oaths and imprecations of men; or because of the curse of God, for the sins of men, the land was desert or desolate, as the Targum; it became barren and unfruitful, the land of Judea; just as the earth was cursed for the sin of man originally; though it seems rather to signify perjury or false swearing, which, and adultery, were the reigning vices of the age; see ( Matthew 5:33-37 ) ; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up;
or the pastures of the wilderness, where cattle used to feed, were dried up for want of rain, and so were unfruitful, and produced no grass for the beasts of the field: and yet their course is evil;
the course of their ministry or prophesying was bad; and the course of their lives and conversations was one continued series of iniquity; the race they ran, both prophet and people, was a wicked one; they ran and made haste to commit sin; though a professing people, their conversation was according to "the course of this world", ( Ephesians 2:2 ) ; and not according to the rule of God's word: and their force [is] not right;
or, "is not so" F15; as it ought to be, or employed in the manner it should: the power and authority of the prophets over the people was not used, as it might have been, for the preserving of the people from sin; nor their courage and valour shown for truth, as it ought to have been; and they used their power to hurt and oppress, and not to relieve and help: so the Pharisees in Christ's time laid heavy burdens on others, but would not move them themselves; and, through a pretence of devotion, devoured widows' houses, ( Matthew 23:4 Matthew 23:14 ) . So some render the words here, "and their violence is not right" F16; their rapine and oppression were very unjust; so that, besides adultery and swearing, they are charged with violence in particular, and with a wicked course of life in general.
F14 Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 9.
F15 (Nk al) "non sic", Montanus; "dissimilis", V. L.
F16 (Mtrwbg) "violentia eorum". So the margin of our Bible.