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Ezekiel 16:4-5

4. And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast you washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.

4. Et nativitates tuae in die qua nata es tu 6565     That is, “of your origin or nativity.” — Calvin. non praecisus fuit umbilicus tuus, aquis non fuisti lota, ad mollitiem 6666     Or “to soften thy flesh:” we shall speak of this afterwards. — Calvin. sale non fuisti salita, et non fuisti involuta fasciis. 6767     Verbally, “wrapped in wrappings.” — Calvin.

5. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.

5. Non misertus est super te oculus faciendum tibi unum ex his ad considerandum super te et projecta fuisti in superficie agri, in probrum animae tuae quo die nata es.

 

Here the Prophet metaphorically describes that most miserable state in which God found the Jews. For we know that scarcely any nation was ever so cruelly and disgracefully oppressed. For when they were all driven to servile labor without reward, the edict went forth that their males should be cut off. (Exodus 1:16, 22.) No species of disgrace was omitted, and their life was worse than a hundred deaths. This, then, is the reason why God says that the Jews were so cast forth on the face of the earth without any supply of the common necessaries of life. He takes these figures from customary usage; for it is usual to cut the navel-string of infants: for the navel affords them nourishment in their mothers’ womb, and mother and child would both perish unless a separation took place; and if the navel-string were not tied the child would perish; for all the blood flows through that organ, as the child received its sustenance through it: and this is the midwife’s chief care as soon as the child is born, to cut away what must afterwards be restored to its place, and to bind up the part, and to do it, as I have said, with the greatest care, as the infant’s life depends upon it.

But God says, that the navel-string of the Jews is not cut off. Why so? because they were cast, says he, on the surface of the earth; that is, they were deserted and exposed, — using but a single word. He now adds, they were not washed with water: for we know how young infants require ablution; and unless it be performed immediately, they will perish. Hence he says, they were not washed with water. He adds, to soften or refresh, or “fettle” them, as the common phrase is; for water softens and smoothes the skin, though others translate it in the sense of causing it to shine: but we understand the Prophet’s meaning sufficiently. He afterwards adds, they were not rubbed with salt; for salt is sprinkled on the body of an infant to harden the flesh, while care must be taken not to render it too hard; and this moderate hardness is effected by the sprinkling of salt. The full meaning is, that the Jews at their birth were cast out with such contempt, that they were destitute of the necessary care which life requires. He adds, No eye pitied thee, so as to discharge any of these duties, and to show thee pity: and this is sufficiently evident, since the Israelites would have been destroyed had no one taken compassion on them; for they were in some sense buried in the land of Egypt; for we know how cruel was the conspiracy of the whole land against them. No wonder, then, if God here relates that they were cast upon the surface of the land, so that no eye looked upon them and showed them pity. He adds, they were cast to the loathing of their life. He simply means, that they were so despicable that they had no standing among men; for loathing of life means the same as rejection. It now follows —


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