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Ezekiel 5:9-10

9. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations.

9. Et faciam in to quae non feci, et quae, non sum facturus secundum hoc amplius, propter cunctas abominationes tuas.

10. Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.

10. Propterea 114114     “Because,” or “on that account.” — Calvin. patres vorabunt filios in medio tui, et filii vorabunt patres suos: faciam ergo judicia in to et dispergam cunctas reliquias tuas ad quemlibet ventum.

 

Now God subjoins, that their punishment should be so severe that no similar example could be found in the world — I will do what I have not done, nor intended to do, that is, I will avenge your contempt of my law in a striking and unexpected manner; for God sometimes so chastises men as not to exceed the ordinary method. But because punishments seem vile and contemptible when they are so common, God is compelled to surpass the ordinary measure, and to punish the wicked signally and portentously, as he says by Moses. (Deuteronomy 28:46.) When therefore he now says, that he would do what he had not done before, and what he would not do again, he signifies a horrible vengeance, which has no similar example. It means nothing else than what, we have quoted from Moses, that the vengeance would be signal and portentous. Interpreters take this metaphorically, but this view cannot be admitted, because in their opinion no history has recorded its fulfillment; hence they fly to allegory and metaphor. But first of all, we know what Josephus says, that mothers were so ravenous that they slew their children and fed upon them, although here a previous siege is referred to, in which God signifies that he would cause fathers to devour their children: I confess it; but even if we receive what they wish, it was not done then; hence Jeremiah is mistaken when he says, that miserable women cooked their children for food. (Lamentations 4:10.) Surely this is a sufficient witness; for to say that we never find that this actually happened is to reject the testimony of Jeremiah. Besides, God had threatened that very thing by Moses; nor can the passage be eluded, because there is weight in the words —

“Men delicate among you, and those accustomed to luxuries,” says he, “shall eat their own children; a man shall envy the wife of his bosom, so that he shall not suffer her to enjoy that nefarious food with him. Then by stealth shall he consume and devour the flesh of his son, so that he shall distribute no part of it to another.” (Deuteronomy 28:54, 55.)

When Moses uses this language he certainly does not mean that there shall be intestine dissensions, so that disciples shall rise up against their masters, and masters oppress their disciples, as Jerome fancies. But it is necessary to take the words as they sound, namely, that God would not be content with common and customary punishments when the Jews had arrived at the very last pitch of impiety and wickedness, since he blames them so severely. Hence Ezekiel now threatens this; nor is it surprising that the Prophets took such forms of expression from Moses, since they used the language of Moses rather than a new one, that the people might not despise their prophesyings. Now, therefore, we must decide, that the Prophet uses these threatenings against the Jews literally. But if any one now object that what God says will not happen does often happen, a solution must be sought for. For we said that when the Jews were besieged by Titus, such a ravenousness attacked certain women, that they fed by stealth on their own children. But God pronounces that he never would do this again I reply that this kind of vengeance is not to be restricted to one day, so that God should not often punish the Jews in a similar manner. But we do not read that this was done, except by the Jews, for although this cruelty is related in tragedies — that children were used as food by their parents, yet this barbarity nowhere existed, that a father knowingly and willingly ate his own son; hence this was peculiar to the Jews. And that God had once executed this vengeance on them by means of the Chaldeans, is no obstacle to his again inflicting the same punishment, when he wished to take vengeance on the extreme rebellion of the people. For although in Ezekiel’s time all things were very corrupt, yet we know that when the Son of God was rejected, the Jews cut off from themselves all hope of restoration to the mercy of God. It is not surprising, then, if again he had suffered sons to be devoured by their fathers, as he now threatens that fathers should be so rabid as not even to spare their own bowels.

I know not why Jerome invented this difference, which is altogether futile. For he says, that when a thing is honorable and becoming it should be ascribed to God, but when the thing itself is base, God averts the infamy from himself. For when this wonder is treated of here, God does not say I will cause the people to eat their sons, but he says, fathers shall eat their sons, and sons their fathers. But there is nothing solid in this comment, because the cruelty which the Chaldeans exercised towards the Jews certainly was not either honorable or becoming, and yet God ascribes to himself whatever the Chaldeans did. Again, what was baser than the incest of Absalom, in debauching his father’s wives? and even that was not sufficient, but he wished the whole people, at the sound of a trumpet, to be witnesses of his crime; and yet what does God say? “I will do this before the sun,” says he. (2 Samuel 12:12, and 2 Samuel 16:21, 22.) We see, then, that this man was not familiar with the Scriptures, and yet that he offered his comments too hastily. There was, indeed, no true religion in the man, and it is not without cause that I admonish you; for there is danger lest many be deceived, if they were not admonished that his genius was full of ostentation and arrogance.

He says, then, fathers shall eat their sons in the midst of you, and this was certainly fulfilled: for Jeremiah speaks of women, but he comprehends men also. (Lamentations 4:10.) For he says that women are tender-hearted, he does not say mothers merely, but that they were humane beyond others; but we know that maternal affection is more tender. But when mothers and those tender ones devour their children, that was the final portent. Now he adds, I will execute, therefore, (for the copula here ought to be resolved into the expletive particle,) judgments against thee That is, in this manner I will really show myself a judge, and I will scatter all thy remnants unto all winds. He signifies that there should be such dispersion, that no body or name of the people should remain. But that hope might cherish and sustain the Jews, if any name and body of the people had been left. But when God pronounces that they should be offscourings to be scattered to every wind, he takes away all hope of restoration for the present at least. We know that there was a certain number left, but such destruction was necessarily threatened before God gave any hope of his mercy. When he says, to any wind, he signifies in any quarter whatever. For as one or another wind blows so the dust is carried, and the offscourings are dispersed in all directions. It follows —


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