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Ezekiel 20:9

9. But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.

9. Et feci propter nomen meum ne profanaretur in oculis gentium, in quibus ipsi in medio eorum, quibus cognitus fui ipsis in oculis eorum, ad educendum eos e terra Ægypti.

 

Here God signifies that he was restrained for one reason only from entirely blotting out so ungrateful and wicked a nation, namely, since he saw his own sacred name would be exposed to the Gentiles as a laughing-stock. He teaches, therefore, that he spared them, and suspended his rigor for the time, rather through being induced by regard to his own glory than by pity to them. Hence, by the word I did it, we ought to understand what will be more clearly explained. The sense is, that he abstained from the final act of vengeance for his name’s sake, that it should not be profaned among the Gentiles. Although God here pronounces that he had respect rather to himself than to them, yet there is no doubt that he spared them, because he saw that they could not be otherwise preserved than by his pardoning them even in such hardness and obstinacy; and certainly God’s glory and the salvation of the Church are things almost inseparably united. When I speak of the salvation of the Church, I do not comprehend all those who profess to be its members, but I mean only the elect. Since, therefore, God had adopted that nation, he must preserve the remnant in safety, otherwise his truth would have failed, and thus his name would have been much more severely profaned. Hence we may gather, whenever God pardons us, though he regards himself, and wishes in this way to exercise his clemency, yet his pity towards us is another reason for his pardoning us: but when he says that he has withdrawn his hand from vengeance through regard for His own glory, he in this way prostrates still more the pride of this nation, since, whenever he had pity on them, they thought it a concession to their own worthiness and merits. The Prophet therefore shows here that they were snatched from destruction, while they were remaining in the land of Egypt, for no other reason than this, that God was unwilling to expose his name to the contempt of the nations. He says, therefore, in the eyes of the Gentiles, among whom they were, regarding not the Egyptians only, but others.

Yet the question arises, in what sense, he adds by and by, that he was known to them? for as yet he had given no specimen of his power among the Gentiles. He had borne witness by two miracles that Moses should be the agent in their redemption, (Exodus 4:2, and following:) afterwards Moses approached Pharaoh himself: there God put forth the signs of his power, which deservedly frightened all the Egyptians; but his fame had not yet reached other nations. But this knowledge ought not to be simply restricted to past time; for God only means that he had already begun to show, by certain and remarkable proofs, that Moses was chosen, by whose hand he wished to redeem his own people. Since, therefore, God had. already come forward with those remarkable signs, he says, that he was known to those nations, not that his fame had reached them, but because he had gone there himself, so that the event could not be in obscurity, and all must know that miracles had been performed by the hand of Moses, by which it was evident that he wished to claim the Israelites as his own. Now, therefore, we understand in what sense Ezekiel says that God was known. Some explain this relatively thus: I was known to them, meaning the Israelites, in their eyes, meaning the Gentiles: but this sense seems to me forced; for in my opinion this one word “their,” in the Prophet’s language, is superfluous. He simply means that God was manifested in the eyes of all the nations in leading them forth. This clause shows the kind of knowledge intended, since God showed his power in liberating the people by remarkable miracles. It follows —

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