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 5

Now you are walled around with a wall;

siege is laid against us;

with a rod they strike the ruler of Israel

upon the cheek.

 


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To encourage the faithful to patience, the Prophet again reminds them that hard and severe time was nigh; for it was needful to put them in mind often of the approaching calamity, lest terror should wholly discourage them. As then there was danger from despair, the Prophet often repeats what he has already said of God’s judgment, which was then suspending over the people of Israel. And this mode and order of teaching ought to be observed. When the Prophets threaten us, or denounce the punishment we have deserved, we either become torpid, or grow angry with God, and murmur: but when they set forth any thing of comfort, we then indulge ourselves and become too secure. It is therefore necessary to connect threatening with promises, so that we may be always ready to endure temporal evils, and that our minds, sustained by hope, may, at the same time, depend on the Lord, and recomb on him. It was for this reason that the Prophet again mentions what he had already several times stated, — that the Jews would be surrounded by a siege. How do these two things agree, — that the enemies, assembled together, would be like sheaves which are taken to the floor to be trodden by the feet of animals, — and that the Jews would be besieged? I answer, that these things harmonize, because the temporary punishment, which God would inflict on his Church, would not prevent him to restore it again whenever it pleased him. Lest, therefore, security should creep over the minds of the godly, the Prophet designed often to remind them of that dreadful calamity which might have entirely upset them, had no support been afforded them, that is, had not God sustained them by his word.

Now then thou shalt assemble thyself, he says, O daughter of a troop The verb התגדדי, etgaddi, and the noun גדוד, gadud, sound alike; as though he said, Thou shalt he collected, O daughter of collection. The Prophet addresses Jerusalem: but we must see why he calls her the daughter of collection. Some think that by this word is designated the splendid and wealthy state of Jerusalem; as though the Prophet said, — “This city has been hitherto populous, but now it shall be reduced to such straits that none shall dare to go forth beyond its gates, for they shall on every side be surrounded.” But the Prophet calls Jerusalem the daughter of a troop in another sense, — because they were wont to occasion great troubles: as thieves agree together, and meet in troops for the purpose of committing plunder; so also the Prophet calls Jerusalem the daughter of a troop, for its citizens were wont willfully to do great evils, and like robbers to use violence. Thou then, he says, shalt now be collected; that is, thou shalt not send forth thy troops, but enemies shall assemble thee together by a severe siege, so that thou shalt contract thyself like a bundle.

There are, then, two clauses in this verse, — that though the Lord resolved to help his Church, he would yet straiten her for a time, — and then the Prophet shows the reason, lest they complained that they were too severely treated: “You have been hitherto,” he says, “without a cause oppressive to others: the time then is come when the Lord will return to you your recompense.” As Isaiah says

‘Woe to thee, plunderer!
Shalt thou not also be exposed to plunder?’
Isaiah 33:1;

so also in this place, — “Ye have assembled in troops, that ye might pillage innocent men; therefore other troops shall now encircle you; nay, ye shall be beset by your own fear.” The verb is in Hithpael: he says not, “Thou daughter of a troop shalt be now encircled;” but he says “Thou shalt gather thyself.”

He then adds, A siege has he set against thee. This may refer to God; but it must be understood only of enemies: for the Prophet immediately adds, They shall strive with the rod, etc. in the pleural number, — They shall then strike with the rod the cheek of the judge of Israel. He means that the Jews would be subdued by their enemies that their judges and governors would be exposed to every kind of contumely and dishonor, for to strike on the cheek is to offer the greatest indignity; as indeed it is the greatest contempt, as Demosthenes says, and is so mentioned by the lawyers. We now then perceive, that the Prophet’s object was to show, — that the Jews in vain boasted of their kingdom and civil constitution, for the Lord would expose the governors of that kingdom to extreme contempt. The enemies then shall strike their judges even on the cheek. 141141     This verse has been variously interpreted. It is considered by most as connected with the last chapter. Some, as Marckius, consider it as an address to the Roman power; some, to the Babylonian; and others, to Jerusalem. The construction of it is the main point. The first verb, תתגדדי, is found in six other places, and rendered in all, except in Jeremiah 5:7, to cut one’s self; but its other meaning, as in Jeremiah 5:7, and evidently here is to troop or band together; and the noun גדוד, which follows, commonly means a band or a troop. The participle שם, in the next clause, can refer to nothing in the text but to “the daughter of a troop.” The obvious and natural rendering of the verse would be the following, —
   Band thyself together, thou daughter of a band,
Laying against us a siege:

With the rod shall they strike on the cheek
The judge of Israel.

   The daughter of a band or a troop means a military power, which collects bands or troops for warlike purposes. It is certainly more obvious to apply this to the Babylonian power than to Jerusalem, especially as the next line, “Laying against us a siege,” necessarily refers to the latter.

   “The judge” is, as Calvin seems to take it, a poetical singular for the plural. No particular person is meant, as Newcome and others seem to think, but judges in general. — Ed.

But there follows immediately a consolation: we hence see that the Prophet, at one time, humbles the children of God: and prepares them for enduring the cross; and then he mitigates all sorrow; yea, and makes them to rejoice in the midst of their evils. For this purpose he adds what follows —




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