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and I will uproot your sacred poles from among you

and destroy your towns.

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He afterwards subjoins, I will take away thy groves. The groves, we know, formed a part of their idolatry: they are therefore mentioned here as an addition by the Prophet. For he speaks not simply of trees, but refers to the wicked practices of the people: for wherever there were high and lofty trees, they thought that something divine was hid under their shade; hence their superstition. When therefore the Prophet mentions groves, it must be understood of vicious and false modes of worship; for they thought that those places acquired a sort of sanctity from the trees; as they also thought that they were nearer to God when they were on a hill. We hence see that this verse is to be connected with the last; as though the Prophet had said, that the Church could not be in safety and recover her pristine vigor, without being well cleansed from all the filth of idolatry. For we indeed know that some pious kings when they took away idols did not cut down the groves; and this exception to their praise is added, that they worshipped God, but that the high places were suffered to stand. We see that the Holy Spirit does not fully commend those kings who did not destroy the groves. — Why? Because they were the materials of corruption. And further, had the Jews been really penitent, they would have exterminated those groves by which they had so shamefully abused and profaned the worship of God. The sum of the whole then is, that when God shall have well cleansed his Church and wiped away all its stains, he will then become the unfailing preserver of its safety. 159159     Scott, speaking of the latter part of this chapter, says, “The reformation of the Jews after their return from Babylon might be alluded to; but the purification of the Christian Church from all antichristian corruptions of faith and worship, and all idolatry and superstition, seems more immediately to be predicted.” — Ed.

He afterwards subjoins, And I will destroy thy enemies עריך, orik, may be rendered, enemies, and many so render it: but others translate it, cities; and the word, cities, would be the most suitable, were it not that the Prophet had previously mentioned cities. I do not therefore see that it would be proper to render it here by this term. The word עריך, orik, then, ought doubtless to be rendered, thy enemies. Let us inquire why the prophet says, that the enemies of the Church were to be destroyed. This sentence ought to be thus explained, (I leave the former ones, and take only this the last,) And I will demolish thy groves from the midst of thee, that I may destroy thine enemies: 160160     Newcome renders the word עריך, thine enemies, and not, thy cities, though he connects the verse differently, — more with the last than with the former portion of this, —
   I will also destroy thine enemies:

   15. And I will execute vengeance, in anger and in fury,
Upon the nations which have not hearkened
unto me.
the copulative is then to be considered as a final particle; and this meaning is the most suitable; as though the Prophet had said, as I have already often stated, that the door was closed against God, so that he could bring no aid to his Church, and deliver it from enemies, as long as it held to false confidence, and was attached to the filth of idolatry, which was still worse. “That I may then destroy thine enemies, it is necessary first that every thing in thee that prevents or hinders my favor should be taken away and removed.”