10. The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water.
10. Fuerunt principes Jehudah, quasi transferentes terminum (vel potest omitti
Here the Prophet transfers the blame of all the evils which then reigned in the tribe of Judah to their princes. He says, that the people had fallen away and departed from God through their fault, and he uses a most fit similitude. We know that there is nothing certain in the possessions of men, except the boundaries of fields be fixed; for no one can otherwise keep his own. But by the metaphor of boundaries in fields, the Prophet refers to the whole political order. The meaning is, that all things were now in a state of disorder and confusion among the Jews; because their leaders who ought to have ruled the people and kept them in obedience, had destroyed the whole order of things. We now then understand what the Prophet had really in view.
But it must be observed that the tribe of Judah had been hitherto kept separate, as it were by limits, as God's heritage; for Israel had become alienated. The possession of God had been diminished by the defection of Jeroboam; and he retained only one tribe and a half in his service. The Prophet says now, that the Jews had mixed with the Israelites, and had thus become themselves alienated from the Lord; for the princes themselves had taken away the boundaries, that is, they had, through indolence and other vices, destroyed all reverence for God, all care for religion, and also every concern for what was just and right: he therefore severely threatens them, "I will pour out", he says, "my wrath upon them like waters".
By this metaphor, he means that God would deal much more severely with them than with the common people: "I," he says, "will with full force pour forth upon them my fury, as if it were the deluge of antiquity." The meaning is, "I will overwhelm them in my vengeance, because they have done more evil by their bad examples, than if they had been private individuals." We hence see that the corruption of the people is imputed to the princes, and therefore God's more dreadful vengeance is denounced on them.
But we must bear in mind what I have before said, that the Prophet gives here metaphorically the name of boundaries to the lawful worship of God, and to whatever he had enjoined on the people, that they might be his certain possession, as fields among men are usually separated by bounds that every one may keep his own. It follows. --