Isaiah 5:20-23

20 Woe to those who 1call evil good, and good evil; Who 2substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are 3wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight *!
22 4Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink,
23 5Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And 6take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!

Isaiah 5:20-23 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 5

In this chapter, under the parable of a vineyard and its ruins, the Jews and their destruction are represented; the reasons of which are given, their manifold sins and transgressions, particularly enumerated, with the punishment threatened to them, and which is delivered in form of a song. The vineyard is described by the owner of it, a well beloved one; by the situation of it, in a fruitful hill; by the fence about it, and care and culture of it; and by its not answering the expectation of the owner, it bringing forth wild grapes instead of good ones, Isa 5:1,2 wherefore the men of Judah and Jerusalem are made judges between the owner and his vineyard, what more could have been done to it, or rather what was now to be done to it, since this was the case; and the result is, that it should be utterly laid waste, and come to ruin; and the whole is applied to the house of Israel, and men of Judah, Isa 5:3-7 whose sins, as the cause of their ruin, are mentioned in the following verses; their covetousness, with the punishment of it, Isa 5:8-10 their intemperance, luxury, and love of pleasure, with the punishment threatened thereunto, Isa 5:11-14 whereby haughty men should be humbled, the Lord be glorified, and at the same time his weak and innocent people would be taken care of, Isa 5:15-17 next, other sins are taken notice of, and woes pronounced on account of them, as, an impudent course of sinning, insolent impiety against God, confusion of good and evil, conceit of their own wisdom, drunkenness, and perversion of justice, Isa 5:18-23 wherefore for these things, and for their contempt and rejection of the law and word of the Lord, utter destruction is threatened them, Isa 5:24 yea, the anger of God had been already kindled against them, and they had felt it in some instances, Isa 5:25 but they are given to expect severer judgments, by means of foreign nations, that should be gathered against them; who are described by their swiftness, strength, and vigilance; by their armour, horses, and carriages; and by their terror and cruelty; the consequence of which would be utter darkness, distress, and calamities, in the land of Judea, Isa 5:26-30.

Isaiah 5:20-23 In-Context

18 Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, And sin as if with cart ropes;
19 Who say, "Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it; And let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near And come to pass, that we may know it!"
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight !
22 Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink,
23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!
24 Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble And dry grass collapses into the flame, So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust; For they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 On this account the anger of the LORD has burned against His people, And He has stretched out His hand against them and struck them down. And the mountains quaked, and their corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets. For all this His anger is not spent, But His hand is still stretched out.

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Cross References 6

  • 1. Proverbs 17:15; Amos 5:7
  • 2. Job 17:12; Matthew 6:22, 23; Luke 11:34, 35
  • 3. Proverbs 3:7; Romans 12:16; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20
  • 4. Proverbs 23:20; Isaiah 5:11; Isaiah 56:12; Habakkuk 2:15
  • 5. Exodus 23:8; Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 10:1, 2; Micah 3:11; Micah 7:3
  • 6. Psalms 94:21; James 5:6

Footnotes 3

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