CHAPTER 1 | Verses 22 - 25

Verse 22: “Your silver has become dross, your drink has been polluted with water.”

Dross: Very inadequate, of a poor quality, impure. When metal is refined the dross is removed and thrown away. This was not the case with Jerusalem. They were happy to live with the impurities and did not remove them.

Drink: This is not the word for wine but is the word for liquor or hard drink. 

Polluted: Lessened

Note: Things have changed. This city is now full of impurity. There is a lessening. The measure being used here is not the measure that God says is proper among the children of Israel.

Verse 23: “Your leaders are rebellious, a band of robbers. Each one of them loves a bribe, and pursues payments. The orphan you do not judge, and the contention of the widow you do not plead for.”

Leaders: The word for a high-ranking official in the government. 

Rebellious: This word is found in Deuteronomy 21:18-21 regarding a stubborn and extremely rebellious son. This son refuses to take correction or listen to truth. He is wholly committed to that which is sinful. As a result of this rebellion the community would stone this son to death. This same word is used here to describe the leadership of Judah.

Loves a bribe: They are not interested in reflecting the character, the truth, the justice of God. They just want money through whatever means they can get it.

Pursues payments: This is written in the plural. It is not a one-time sin. This leadership is committing the same sin over and over again.

Orphan you do not judge: They do not provide justice for the orphan, nor do they plead his cause.

The contention of the widow you do not plead for: They exploited and oppressed the widow when she came seeking justice. They did not contend for her.

Verse 24: “’Therefore declares the Lord God of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, ‘Woe, I will be comforted from my enemies, and I will exert vengeance on my enemies.”

Lord God of hosts: Usually we find the expression ‘Lord of Hosts’ or the ‘Lord God’ in the Bible but the expression used here is a very rare one. This is a very strong term for the Supreme God who is totally able and who is totally in control.

The Mighty One of Israel: This is a term of great respect. Like for a knight of the round table, it is a term that speaks of One who has great character, great ability and of someone who has done something truly wonderful.

Woe: This is a word used for capturing our attention. If something does not happen, how awful the consequences are going to be.

Comforted: In Scripture this comfort is usually tied to the work of Messiah, and it relates to redemption. There is, however, another aspect related to comfort, and it is this aspect that is being referred to here – God’s judgment brings comfort to Him. When an unrighteous situation has been dealt with it results in a change to the situation, a new status. This new status, this righteous change, brings comfort to God.

Enemies: Those who are in opposition to the things of God.

Vengeance: Often we think of vengeance as an act of revenge (getting even – an eye for an eye…). This is not the kind of vengeance that God exacts on His enemies. Vengeance, for God, is not an act of revenge or retribution. This kind of vengeance means that God acts/behaves in such a way that righteousness is manifested. Because there is a righteous outcome to this vengeance, God takes comfort in it.

Verse 25: “I will turn My hand upon you, and I will refine in purity your dross, and I will remove all your alloy.”

I will turn My hand upon you: God knows the spiritual condition of Judah, His covenant people, and He is the One who does the work that is needed to redeem them. ‘Turning His hand’ does not mean that He smacks, punishes, or strikes them. When God turns His hand
upon them, He works in a way to purify and refine them.

Dross: Impurities found in a metal. When metal (eg silver) is melted down the dross and the good quality metal separate from each other. All the impurities rise to the top of the ‘pot’ and they can be scooped out and thrown away. This is what the hand of God is going to do to Judah. His activity is going to produce righteousness.

Alloy: Although an alloy has some metal in it, it is inadequate and inferior to pure metal. God wanted to remove anything in Judah that was impure, and anything in Judah that was not of the highest quality.


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