The line of Samaria - I will treat Jerusalem as I have treated Samaria. Samaria was taken, pillaged, ruined, and its inhabitants led into captivity; Jerusalem shall have the same measure.
And the plummet of the house of Ahab - The house of Ahab was totally destroyed, and not a man of his race left to sit upon the throne of Israel: so shall it be done to the house or royal family of Judah; they shall be all finally destroyed, and not a man of their race shall any more sit on the throne of Judah; nor shall Judah have a throne to sit on. Thus Jerusalem shall have the same weight as well as the same measure as Samaria, because it has copied all the abominations which brought that kingdom to total destruction.
I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish - The Vulgate translates this clause as follows: Delebo Jerusalem, sicut deleri solent tabulae; "I will blot out Jerusalem as tablets are wont to be blotted out." This is a metaphor taken from the ancient method of writing: they traced their letters with a stile on boards thinly spread over with wax; for this purpose one end of the stile was sharp, the other end blunt and smooth, with which they could rub out what they had written, and so smooth the place and spread back the wax, as to render it capable of receiving any other word. Thus the Lord had written down Jerusalem, never intending that its name or its memorial should be blotted out. It was written down The Holy City, The City of the Great King; but now God turns the stile and blots this out; and the Holy Jerusalem, the City of the Great King, is no longer to be found! This double use of the stile is pointed out in this ancient enigma: -
De summo planus; sed non ego planus in imo:
Versor utrinque manu, diverso et munere fungor:
Altera pars revocat, quicquid pars altera fecit.
"I am flat at the top, but sharp at the bottom;
I turn either end, and perform a double function:
One end destroys what the other end has made."
But the idea of emptying out and wiping a dish expresses the same meaning equally well. Jerusalem shall be emptied of all its wealth, and of all its inhabitants, as truly as a dish turned up is emptied of all its contents; and it shall be turned upside down, never to be filled again. This is true from that time to the present hour. Jerusalem is the dish turned upside down, the tablet blotted out to the present day! How great are God's mercies! and how terrible his judgments!
The general meaning is plain, but the exact force of the metaphor used is not so clear. If the “line” and the “plummet” be “symbols of rule” or law, the meaning will be - “I will apply exactly the same measure and rule to Jerusalem as to Samaria - I will treat both alike with strict and even justice.”
The kingdom of Judah, prosperous throughout the times of Hezekiah, was once more brought low during the long years of Manasseh's wicked reign, when paganism was revived, and many of the people were led into idolatry. “Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen.” 2 Chronicles 33:9. The glorious light of former generations was followed by the darkness of superstition and error. Gross evils sprang up and flourished—tyranny, oppression, hatred of all that is good. Justice was perverted; violence prevailed. PK 381.1
Yet those evil times were not without witnesses for God and the right. The trying experiences through which Judah had safely passed during Hezekiah's reign had developed, in the hearts of many, a sturdiness of character that now served as a bulwark against the prevailing iniquity. Their testimony in behalf of truth and righteousness aroused the anger of Manasseh and his associates in authority, who endeavored to establish themselves in evil-doing by silencing every voice of disapproval. “Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” 2 Kings 21:16. PK 381.2Read in context »