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Lecture One Hundred and Eighty-second

Malachi, after having said that the Sun of righteousness would arise on the Jews, now adds that it would be for their joy, for as sorrow lays hold on the faithful when they are without Christ, or when they think him far removed from them, so his favor is their chief happiness and real joy. Hence the angel when he made known to the shepherds that Christ was born, thus introduces his message,

“Behold, I declare to you great joy.” (Luke 2:10.)

Now though the comparison might seem rather unnatural, yet it was not without reason that the Prophet said that the Jews would be like fattened calves, for the change of which he speaks was incredible; hence it was necessary that the subject should be stated in a very homely manner, that they might entertain hope.

There is in the words going forth, an implied contrast, for anxiety had long held them as it were captives, but now they were to go forth and be at liberty, according to what takes place when things change for the better; we then openly declare our joy to one another, and we seek as it were a wide place for giving vent to our feelings. We now see why the Prophet says that the Jews would go forth: they had been before confined as it were within narrow limits, but God would now give them occasion for rejoicing, according to what Paul says,

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
(2 Corinthians 3:17). 273273     Newcome’s version of the last line is as follows —
   And ye shall go forth and thrive as bullocks of the stall.

   Henderson’s is —

   And ye shall go forth and leap as calves of the stall.

   The latter part is rendered by the Septuagint “Ye shall leap (or frisk — σκιρτήσετε) like calves let loose from bonds.” This conveys the idea, for פשה, means first to spread, to be diffused, and then to range at large, to leap, to frisk. The context favors this view: they would go forth, that is, from confinement to the fields, and leap like calves of the stall, or from the stall, which are tied up during the night but are let loose when the sun arises, and allowed to range at large in the field.

   To apply this as a prophecy to the escape of the Christians from Jerusalem when destroyed by the Romans, has nothing in the context to justify it, but everything to the contrary. The effect here produced is ascribed to the influence of the Sun of righteousness, and it is exhilarating and joyful, and followed, as it appears from the next verse, by the subjugation of the wicked. Calvin’s view is consistent with the whole tenor of the passage. — Ed.

It follows —


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