Crime Under Colour of Law
Isaiah 10:1-4
Woe to them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;…

The prophet has described the sins of Ephraim in a general manner; but on the mention of Judah he proceeds to denounce what we know from the whole tenor of his discourses he felt to be the worst form of the guilt of his own people, with a particularity which it is perhaps not fanciful to attribute to his thoughts being now directed homewards. The Ten Tribes were far more ferocious and anarchical than the men of Judah; there are more indications in the latter of that national respect for law which so characterises the English, that it has been observed (by Lord Campbell), that though history attributes to us our share in national wickedness, our crimes have almost always been committed under colour of law, and not by open violence, — as in the series of judicial murders in the reigns of Henry VIII, Charles II, and James II. And thus Isaiah, recurring to Judah, denounces the utmost severity of God's wrath in the day in which He, the righteous Judge, shall come to visit "an hypocritical nation," whose nobles and magistrates decree, and execute, unrighteous decrees, — "to turn aside the needy from judgment," etc. (ver. 2). They are satisfied, that they are safe in their heartless selfishness, with peace at home and protection abroad restored by their statecraft and their alliance with Assyria. But while they thus rejoice at home, "desolation cometh from afar." To whom will they fly for help when God has abandoned them? Under whose protection will they leave their wealth, their dignities, their glory, which they have been heaping up for themselves? Captivity or death are the only prospects before them. And yet, as though no judgments could sufficiently condemn and punish their utter wickedness, me prophet repeats — "For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand stretched out still."

(Sir E. Strachey, Bart.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;

WEB: Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers who write oppressive decrees;

Wickedness is Destruction
Top of Page
Top of Page