Woe to them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place…
is as old as history. The Hebrews were hardly out of the wilderness before laws were enacted to prevent the strong from getting more land than anyone ought to possess. The land laws of Moses occupy a large place in his legislation. The prevention of monopoly in land was clearly in the mind of the Hebrew lawgiver. In Isaiah's time the nation had recovered from poverty and grown rich, and the wealthy and ruling classes had begun to grasp the earth. They would have tried to fence in the air and pack the sunlight in barrels, if they could have done so. The spirit that would monopolise land would monopolise light if it could. Against this awful wrong the voice of the Lord rings its condemnation. Four things belong to man as man, and anyone who tries to prevent their being used for the service of humanity is a sinner against the universe and against God. Those four things are: the earth, the air, the water, and the light. Every man has a right to live, and no one can live as he ought without free access to earth, air, water, and light. Isaiah brought the people to this one point — this land belongs to God, and you are using it as if it were yours to do with as you please. And that is all that need be said today. The land, like the air, belongs to God; and if to God, then to humanity; and it is our business to find out, as all easily can if they will, how the great Owner of all the earth would have men use that which must be the home of all His creatures. Of one thing, however, we may be sure. He never intended that a few big lions should get possession of all the forests, so that there should be no comfortable places left for the rabbits, the sheep, and the cattle, except in holes in the ground; and He never intended that a few strong men should get possession of all the fertile, healthful, and beautiful ]portions of earth, so that the rest of humanity — the artists, the artisans, the literary men, and those who work with their hands — should be obliged to live in cellars and attics and hardly know what is meant by that great and dear word home.
(Amory H. Bradford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!