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Isaiah 5:18 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, and sin as it were with a cart rope;
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, And sin as if with cart ropes;
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Woe to them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart-rope:
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as with cart-ropes!
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Alas! for them, Who draw on themselves punishment, with cords of falsehood,—And, as with waggon-bands, penalty:
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— Woe [to] those drawing out iniquity with cords of vanity, And as [with] thick ropes of the cart—sin.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Woe to you that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as the rope of a cart.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Woe vnto them that draw iniquitie with cords of vanitie, and sinne, as it were with a cart rope:
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— Woe [to them] that draw sins to them as with a long rope, and iniquities as with a thong of the heifer's yoke:
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Woe 1945
{1945} Prime
A prolonged form of H1930 (akin to H0188); oh!.
unto them that draw 4900
{4900} Prime
A primitive root; to draw, used in a great variety of applications (including to sow, to sound, to prolong, to develop, to march, to remove, to delay, to be tall, etc.).
<8802> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Active (See H8814)
Count - 5386
iniquity 5771
{5771} Prime
From H5753; perversity, that is, (moral) evil.
with cords 2256
{2256} Prime
From H2254; a rope (as twisted), especially a measuring line; by implication a district or inheritance (as measured); or a noose (as of cords); figuratively a company (as if tied together); also a throe (especially of parturition); also ruin.
of vanity, 7723
{7723} Prime
From the same as H7722 in the sense of desolating; evil (as destructive), literally (ruin) or morally (especially guile); figuratively idolatry (as false, subjectively), uselessness (as deceptive, objectively; also adverbially in vain).
and sin y2403
[2403] Standard
From H2398; an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness), and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation; also (concretely) an offender.
(2402) Complement
(Chaldee); corresponding to H2401; an offence, and the penalty or sacrifice for it.
as it were with a cart 5699
{5699} Prime
From the same as H5696; something revolving, that is, a wheeled vehicle.
rope: 5688
{5688} Prime
The same as H5687; something intwined, that is, a string, wreath or foliage.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Isaiah 5:18

_ _ Third Woe — against obstinate perseverance in sin, as if they wished to provoke divine judgments.

_ _ iniquity — guilt, incurring punishment [Maurer].

_ _ cords, etc. — cart-rope — Rabbins say, “An evil inclination is at first like a fine hair-string, but the finishing like a cart-rope.” The antithesis is between the slender cords of sophistry, like the spider’s web (Isaiah 59:5; Job 8:14), with which one sin draws on another, until they at last bind themselves with great guilt as with a cart-rope. They strain every nerve in sin.

_ _ vanity — wickedness.

_ _ sin — substantive, not a verb: they draw on themselves “sin” and its penalty recklessly.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Isaiah 5:18-30

_ _ Here are, I. Sins described which will bring judgments upon a people: and this perhaps is not only a charge drawn up against the men of Judah who lived at that time, and the particular articles of that charge, though it may relate primarily to them, but is rather intended for warning to all people, in all ages, to take heed of these sins, as destructive both to particular persons and to communities, and exposing men to God's wrath and his righteous judgments. Those are here said to be in a woeful condition,

_ _ 1. Who are eagerly set upon sin, and violent in their sinful pursuits (Isaiah 5:18), who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, who take as much pains to sin as the cattle do that draw a team, who put themselves to the stretch for the gratifying of their inordinate appetites, and, to humour a base lust, offer violence to nature itself. They think themselves as sure of compassing their wicked project as if they were pulling it towards them with strong cart-ropes; but they will find themselves disappointed, for they will prove cords of vanity, which will break when they come to any stress. For the righteous Lord will cut in sunder the cords of the wicked, Psalms 129:4; Job 4:8; Proverbs 22:8. They are by long custom and confirmed habits so hardened in sin that they cannot get clear of it. Those that sin through infirmity are drawn away by sin; those that sin presumptuously draw iniquity to them, in spite of the oppositions of Providence and the checks of conscience. Some by sin understand the punishment of sin: they pull God's judgments upon their own heads as it were, with cart-ropes.

_ _ 2. Who set the justice of God at defiance, and challenge the Almighty to do his worst (Isaiah 5:19): They say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work; this is the same language with that of the scoffers of the last days, who say, Where is the promise of his coming? and therefore it is that, like them, they draw iniquity with cords of vanity, are violent and daring in sin, and walk after their own lusts, 2 Peter 3:3, 2 Peter 3:4. (1.) They ridicule the prophets, and banter them. It is in scorn that they call God the Holy One of Israel, because the prophets used with great veneration to call him so. (2.) They will not believe the revelation of God's wrath from heaven against their ungodliness and unrighteousness; unless they see it executed, they will not know it, as if the curse were brutum fulmena mere flash, and all the threatenings of the word bugbears to frighten fools and children. (3.) If God should appear against them, as he has threatened, yet they think themselves able to make their part good with him, and provoke him to jealousy, as if they were stronger than he, 1 Corinthians 10:22. “We have heard his word, but it is all talk; let him hasten his work, we shall shift for ourselves well enough.” Note, Those that wilfully persist in sin consider not the power of God's anger.

_ _ 3. Who confound and overthrow the distinctions between moral good and evil, who call evil good and moral evil (Isaiah 5:20), who not only live in the omission of that which is good, but condemn it, argue against it, and, because they will not practise it themselves, run it down in others, and fasten invidious epithets upon it — not only do that which is evil, but justify it, and applaud it, and recommend it to others as safe and good. Note, (1.) Virtue and piety are good, for they are light and sweet, they are pleasant and right; but sin and wickedness are evil; they are darkness, all the fruit of ignorance and mistake, and will be bitterness in the latter end. (2.) Those do a great deal of wrong to God, and religion, and conscience, to their own souls, and to the souls of others, who misrepresent these, and put false colours upon them — who call drunkenness good fellowship, and covetousness good husbandry, and, when they persecute the people of God, think they do him good service — and, on the other hand, who call seriousness ill-nature, and sober singularity ill-breeding, who say all manner of evil falsely concerning the ways of godliness, and do what they can to form in men's minds prejudices against them, and this in defiance of evidence as plain and convincing as that of sense, by which we distinguish, beyond contradiction, between light and darkness, and between that which to the taste is sweet and that which is bitter.

_ _ 4. Who though they are guilty of such gross mistakes as these have a great opinion of their own judgments, and value themselves mightily upon their understanding (Isaiah 5:21): They are wise in their own eyes; they think themselves able to disprove and baffle the reproofs and convictions of God's word, and to evade and elude both the searches and the reaches of his judgments; they think they can outwit Infinite Wisdom and countermine Providence itself. Or it may be taken more generally: God resists the proud, those particularly who are conceited of their own wisdom and lean to their own understanding; such must become fools, that they may be truly wise, or else, at their end they shall appear to be fools before all the world.

_ _ 5. Who glory in it as a great accomplishment that they are able to bear a great deal of strong liquor without being overcome by it (Isaiah 5:22), who are mighty to drink wine, and use their strength and vigour, not in the service of their country, but in the service of their lusts. Let drunkards know from this scripture that, (1.) They ungratefully abuse their bodily strength, which God has given them for good purposes, and by degrees cannot but weaken it. (2.) It will not excuse them from the guilt of drunkenness that they can drink hard and yet keep their feet. (3.) Those who boast of their drinking down others glory in their shame. (4.) How light soever men make of their drunkenness, it is a sin which will certainly lay them open to the wrath and curse of God.

_ _ 6. Who, as judges, pervert justice, and go counter to all rules of equity, Isaiah 5:23. This follows upon the former; they drink and forget the law (Proverbs 31:5), and err through wine (Isaiah 28:7), and take bribes, that they may have wherewithal to maintain their luxury. They justify the wicked for reward, and find some pretence or other to clear him from his guilt and shelter him from punishment; and they condemn the innocent, and take away their righteousness from them, that is, overrule their pleas, deprive them of the means of clearing up their innocency, and give judgment against them. In causes between man and man, might and money would at any time prevail against right and justice; and he who was ever so plainly in the wrong would with a small bribe carry the cause and recover the costs. In criminal causes, though the prisoner ever so plainly appeared to be guilty, yet for a reward they would acquit him; if he were innocent, yet if he did not fee them well, nay, if they were feed by the malicious prosecutor, or if they themselves had spleen against him, they would condemn him.

_ _ II. The judgments described, which these sins would bring upon them. Let not those expect to live easily who live thus wickedly; for the righteous God will take vengeance, Isaiah 5:24-30. Here we may observe,

_ _ 1. How complete this ruin will be, and how necessarily and unavoidably it will follow upon their sins. He had compared this people to a vine (Isaiah 5:7), well fixed, and which, it was hoped, would be flourishing and fruitful; but the grace of God towards it was received in vain, and then the root became rottenness, being dried up from beneath, and the blossom would of course blow off as dust, as a light and worthless thing, Job 18:16. Sin weakens the strength, the root, of a people, so that they are easily rooted up; it defaces the beauty, the blossoms, of a people, and takes away the hopes of fruit. The sin of unfruitfulness is punished with the plague of unfruitfulness. Sinners make themselves as stubble and chaff, combustible matter, proper fuel to the fire of God's wrath, which then of course devours and consumes them, as the fire devours the stubble, and nobody can hinder it, or cares to hinder it. Chaff is consumed, unhelped and unpitied.

_ _ 2. How just the ruin will be: Because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and would not have him to reign over them; and, as the law of Moses was rejected and thrown off, so the word of the Holy One of Israel by his servants the prophets, putting them in mind of his law and calling them to obedience, was despised and disregarded. God does not reject men for every transgression of his law and word; but, when his word is despised and his law cast away, what can they expect but that God should utterly abandon them?

_ _ 3. Whence this ruin should come (Isaiah 5:25): it is destruction from the Almighty. (1.) The justice of God appoints it; for that is the anger of the Lord which is kindled against his people, his necessary vindication of the honour of his holiness and authority. (2.) The power of God effects it: He has stretched forth his hand against them. That hand which had many a time been stretched out for them against their enemies is now stretched out against them at full length and in its full vigour; and who knows the power of his anger? Whether they are sensible of it or no, it is God that has smitten them, has blasted their vine and made it wither.

_ _ 4. The consequences and continuance of this ruin. When God comes forth in wrath against a people the hills tremble, fear seizes even their great men, who are strong and high, the earth shakes under men and is ready to sink; and as this feels dreadful (what does more so than an earthquake?) so what sight can be more frightful than the carcases of men torn with dogs, or thrown as dung (so the margin reads it) in the midst of the streets? This intimates that great multitudes should be slain, not only soldiers in the field of battle, but the inhabitants of their cities put to the sword in cold blood, and that the survivors should neither have hands nor hearts to bury them. This is very dreadful, and yet such is the merit of sin that, for all this, God's anger is not turned away; that fire will burn as long as there remains any of the stubble and chaff to be fuel for it; and his hand, which he stretched forth against his people to smite them, because they do not by prayer take hold of it, nor by reformation submit themselves to it, is stretched out still.

_ _ 5. The instruments that should be employed in bringing this ruin upon them: it should be done by the incursions of a foreign enemy, that should lay all waste. No particular enemy is named, and therefore we are to take it as a prediction of all the several judgments of this kind which God brought upon the Jews, Sennacherib's invasion soon after, and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans first and at last by the Romans; and I think it is to be looked upon also as a threatening of the like desolation of those countries which harbour and countenance those sins mentioned in the foregoing verses; it is an exposition of those woes. When God designs the ruin of a provoking people,

_ _ (1.) He can send a great way off for instruments to be employed in effecting it; he can raise forces from afar, and summon them from the end of the earth to attend his service, Isaiah 5:26. Those who know him not are made use of to fulfil his counsel, when, by reason of their distance, they can scarcely be supposed to have any ends of their own to serve. If God set up his standard, he can incline men's hearts to enlist themselves under it, though perhaps they know not why or wherefore. When the Lord of hosts is pleased to make a general muster of the forces he has at his command, he has a great army in an instant, Joel 2:2, Joel 2:11. He needs not sound a trumpet, nor beat a drum, to give them notice or to animate them; no, he does but hiss to them, or rather whistle to them, and that is enough; they hear that, and that puts courage into them. Note, God has all the creatures at his beck.

_ _ (2.) He can make them come into the service with incredible expedition: Behold, they shall come with speed swiftly. Note, [1.] Those who will do God's work must not loiter, must not linger, nor shall they when his time has come. [2.] Those who defy God's judgments will be ashamed of their insolence when it is too late; they said scornfully (Isaiah 5:19), Let him make speed, let him hasten his work, and they shall find, to their terror and confusion, that he will; in one hour has the judgment come.

_ _ (3.) He can carry them on in the service with amazing forwardness and fury. This is described here in very elegant and lofty expressions, Isaiah 5:27-30. [1.] Though their marches be very long, yet none among them shall be weary; so desirous they be to engage that they shall forget their weariness, and make no complaints of it. [2.] Though the way be rough, and perhaps embarrassed by the usual policies of war, yet none among them shall stumble, but all the difficulties in their way shall easily be got over. [3.] Though they be forced to keep constant watch, yet none shall slumber nor sleep, so intent shall they be upon their work, in prospect of having the plunder of the city for their pains. [4.] They shall not desire any rest of relaxation; they shall not put off their clothes, nor loose the girdle of their loins, but shall always have their belts on and swords by their sides. [5.] They shall not meet with the least hindrance to retard their march or oblige them to halt; not a latchet of their shoes shall be broken which they must stay to mend, as Joshua 9:13. [6.] Their arms and ammunition shall all be fixed, and in good posture; their arrows sharp, to wound deep, and all their bows bent, none unstrung, for they expect to be soon in action. [7.] Their horses and chariots of war shall all be fit for service; their horses so strong, so hardy, that their hoofs shall be like flint, far from being beaten, or made tender, by their long march; and the wheels of their chariots not broken, or battered, or out of repair, but swift like a whirlwind, turning round so strongly upon their axle-trees. [8.] All the soldiers shall be bold and daring (Isaiah 5:29): Their roaring, or shouting, before a battle, shall be like a lion, who with his roaring animates himself, and terrifies all about him. Those who would not hear the voice of God speaking to them by his prophets, but stopped their ears against their charms, shall be made to hear the voice of their enemies roaring against them and shall not be able to turn a deaf ear to it. They shall roar like the roaring of the sea in a storm; it roars and threatens to swallow up, as the lion roars and threatens to tear in pieces. [9.] There shall not be the least prospect of relief or succour. The enemy shall come in like a flood, and there shall be none to lift up a standard against him. He shall seize the prey, and none shall deliver it, none shall be able to deliver it, nay, none shall so much as dare to attempt the deliverance of it, but shall give it up for lost. Let the distressed look which way they will, every thing appears dismal; for, if God frowns upon us, how can any creature smile? First, Look round to the earth, to the land, to that land that used to be the land of light and the joy of the whole earth, and behold darkness and sorrow, all frightful, all mournful, nothing hopeful. Secondly, Look up to heaven, and there the light is darkened, where one would expect to have found it. If the light is darkened in the heavens, how great is that darkness! If God hide his face, no marvel the heavens hide theirs and appear gloomy, Job 34:29. It is our wisdom, by keeping a good conscience, to keep all clear between us and heaven, that we may have light from above even when clouds and darkness are round about us.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Isaiah 5:18

That draw — That are not only drawn to sin by the allurements of the world; but are active and illustrious in drawing sin to themselves. Cords — Or, with cords of lying, as the last word frequently signifies, with vain and deceitful arguments and pretences, whereby sinners generally draw themselves to sin. A rope — With all their might, as beasts commonly do that draw carts with ropes.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Isaiah 5:18

Woe to them that draw iniquity with (y) cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:

(y) Who use all allurements, opportunities and excuses to harden their conscience in sin.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

Isaiah 28:15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
Judges 17:5 And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.
Judges 17:13 Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to [my] priest.
2 Samuel 16:20-23 Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do. ... And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, [was] as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so [was] all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.
Psalms 10:11 He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see [it].
Psalms 14:1 [[To the chief Musician, [A Psalm] of David.]] The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good.
Psalms 36:2 For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.
Psalms 94:5-11 They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, and afflict thine heritage. ... The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they [are] vanity.
Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love [to have it] so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Jeremiah 8:5-9 Why [then] is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. ... The wise [men] are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom [is] in them?
Jeremiah 23:10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force [is] not right.
Jeremiah 23:14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
Jeremiah 23:24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.
Jeremiah 28:15-16 Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. ... Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD.
Jeremiah 44:15-19 Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, ... And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?
Ezekiel 13:10-11 Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and [there was] no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered [morter]: ... Say unto them which daub [it] with untempered [morter], that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend [it].
Ezekiel 13:22 Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:
Zephaniah 1:12 And it shall come to pass at that time, [that] I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.
John 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
Acts 26:9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
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Jg 17:5, 13. 2S 16:20. Ps 10:11; 14:1; 36:2; 94:5. Is 28:15. Jr 5:31; 8:5; 23:10, 14, 24; 28:15; 44:15. Ezk 13:10, 22. Zp 1:12. Jn 16:2. Ac 26:9.

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The penalty of sin is death.Jesus has the power to set us fee from the bondage of sin.He
has the power to break the cart ropes & remove the cords of vanity.
- Alex (2/24/2009 9:55:08 PM) []
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