Isaiah 9:18

For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.

For wickedness burneth as the fire,.... That is, the punishment of their sins, as the Targum interprets it; the wrath of God for sin, which is poured out like fire, and consumes as that does; unless wicked men are meant, who are consumed with the fire of divine vengeance; the sense is the same:

it shall devour the briers and thorns; sinners and ungodly, so the Targum paraphrases it; and Aben Ezra observes, they are the wicked; who are compared to briers and thorns, for their unfruitfulness in themselves, harmfulness to others, and for their weakness to stand against the fury of incensed Deity, see 2 Samuel 23:6:

and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest. Kimchi thinks there is a gradation in these words, that as fire first begins to burn the thorns, and smaller wood, and then the greater; so wickedness consumes first the little ones, who are the thorns, and after that it kindles in the thickets of the forest, who are the great ones; so the commonwealth of Israel is compared to a forest; and the thorns, briers, and thickets, may denote the common people and their governors, who all being guilty of wickedness, should not escape the vengeance of God:

and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke: or lift up themselves, or be lifted up; so Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret the word; but Jarchi thinks it has the signification of Kwb, "to be perplexed": and gives the sense of it thus; they are perplexed, and shut up with the strength of smoke that burns: others take it to be a word of the same meaning with qba; and render it, "they shall pulverize", or "go into dust in the lifting up of smoke" {d}; and denotes the dissolution of the commonwealth; but perhaps it may be better rendered, "though they shall walk proudly" (or behave haughtily), their "pride" shall be as "smoke", which soon vanishes away; since the word, which is only here used, in the Syriac language signifies to walk proudly, as a cock with two crests {e}.

{d} Nve twag wkbaty "et epulverabitur erectione fumi", Cocceius; "adeo ut in minutissimum pulverem abeant elato fumo, vel elatione fumi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
{e} "Et superbient, (fastuose se gerent,) at superbia (vel quorum superbia) fumus, h. e. fumi instar, evanescit, interibit, quod etiam Armenis indigiat, isfud vacobulum `Abac' , Syr. galus, gallinaceus, superbo gradu incedens et bicristatus", Castel. Lexicon Polyglott. col. 12.