For the transgression of a land many [are] the princes
Either together; that is, reigning princes, such as lay claim to the crown, and usurp it; otherwise it is a happiness to a nation to have many princes of the blood, to inherit in succession, to support the crown in their family, and defend a nation, and study the good of it; but it is a judgment to a nation when many rise up as competitors for rule, or do rule, as at Athens, where thirty tyrants sprung up at once; by which factions and parties are made, and which issue in oppression, rapine, and murder: or successively, very quickly, one after another, being dethroned the one by the other: or removed by death, as in the land of Israel, in the times of the judges, and of the kings of Israel and Judah, after the revolt of the ten tribes; which frequent changes produce different administrations, new laws, and fresh taxes, disagreeable to the people; and oftentimes children come to be their princes, which is always reckoned an infelicity to a nation; see ( Ecclesiastes 10:16 ) ( Isaiah 3:12 ) ; and all this is usually for some national sin or sins indulged to, which draw upon a people the divine resentment, and provoke God to suffer such changes among there; but by a man of understanding [and] knowledge the state [thereof]
shall be prolonged,
either by a set of wise and understanding, good and virtuous men, who will oppose the growing vice and immoralities of a people, and form themselves into societies for the reformation of manners; the word "man" being taken collectively for a body of men: or by a wise and prudent minister or ministry, or a set of civil magistrates, who will show themselves to be terrors to evildoers, and a praise to them that do well: or by a wise and prudent prince, who seeks to establish his throne by judgment and mercy; who will take care that justice and judgment be executed in the land, and that vice and profaneness be discouraged; by means of such, the state of a kingdom, which seemed near to ruin, will be prolonged, and the happiness and prosperity of it secured and established; and God, in mercy to it, may long preserve the life of their king, will being a good one, a long reign is always a happiness to a nation. And to this sense is the Vulgate Latin version, "the life of the prince shall be longer"; and the Targum, which is,
``and the sons of men that understand knowledge shall endure;''see ( Ecclesiastes 9:15 ) .