10. And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.
10. Et nunc retegam flagitium ejus in oculis amatorum ejus, et nullus eripiet eam e manu mea.
11. And I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
11. Et cessare faciam omne gaudium ejus, festivitatem ejus (alii vertunt, tripudium,) novilunium ejus, sabbathum ejus et omnem diem ejus festum.
12. And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.
12. Et destruam (vel, in solitudinem redigam) vineam ejus et ficum ejus, de quibus dixit, Merces haec sunt mihi, quam dederunt mihi amatores mei: et ponam eas (vel, redigam, nempe vineas et ficus) in sylvam, et comedat (vel, depascet) eas fera campestris.
He pursues the same subject; and the Prophet explains at large, and even divides what he had briefly said before, into many clauses or particulars. He says firsts I will uncover her baseness. How was this done? By God, when he took away the coverings by which the Israelites kept themselves hid: for, as we have said hypocrites felicitate themselves on account of God's gifts, and thus hide themselves as thieves do in caverns; and they think that they can mock God with impunity; for, through the fatness of their eyes, as it is said in Psalm 73:7, they have but a very dim sight. Now then God declares, that the filthiness of the people would be made to appear, when he deprived them of those gifts with which he had for a time enriched them.
Now, he says, will I uncover her baseness before the eyes of her lovers. By this sentence he intimates a change, of which the people were not apprehensive; for, as long as the wicked feel not the strokes, they laugh at all threatening. Hence God, that he might rouse them from such an indifference, says, Now will I uncover her before the eyes of her lovers. The Prophet, no doubt, speaks of false gods, and of all those devices by which the Israelites corrupted the pure worship of God: for I cannot be persuaded to explain this either of the Assyrians or of the Egyptians. I indeed know, as I mentioned briefly yesterday, that the treaties into which the Jews, as well as the Israelites, entered with idolaters, were the tenter-hooks of Satan: this I allow; but at the same time, I look on what the Prophet especially treats of; for he directly inveighs here against absurd and vicious modes of worship. What then does he mean by saying, that God will uncover the baseness of the people before their lovers? He alludes to shameless women, who dare, by terror, to check their husbands, that they may not exercise their own right. "What! do you treat me ill? there is one who will resent this conduct." Even when husbands indignantly bear their own reproach, they often attempt not to assert their own right, because they see that fear is in the way. But God says, "Nothing will hinder me from chastising thee as thou deserves (for he addresses the people under the character of a wife;) before thy lovers then will I uncover thy baseness."
And no man shall rescue thee from my hand. The word man is put here for idols; for it is a word of general import among the Hebrews. Sometimes when brute animals are spoken of, this word, man, is used; and it is also applied to the fragments of a carcass. For when Moses describes the sacrifice made by Abraham, 'Man,' he says, 'was laid to his fellow;' that is, Abraham joined together the different parts of the sacrifice, as we say in French, Il n'y a piece. God then speaks here of idols: No one, he says, shall rescue them from my hand. We now comprehend the meaning of the Prophet.
We must, at the same time, see what he had in view. The Israelites indeed thought, that as long as their corrupt modes of worship prevailed, they were safe and secure: it seemed impossible to them that any adversity should happen to them while idolatry continued. As, then, they imagined their false gods to be to them like an invincible rampart, "Thy idols," he says, "shall remain, and yet thou shalt fall: for I will before thy lovers uncover thy baseness, and not one of them shall deliver thee from my hand."
The Prophet now descends to particulars; and, in the first place, he says, that the people would be deprived of their sacrifices and feast-days, and of that whole external pomp, which was with them the guise of religion. He then adds, that they would be spoiled of their food, and all their abundance. He has hitherto been speaking of their nakedness; but he now describes what this nakedness would be: and he specially mentions, that sacrifices would cease, that feast days, new-moons, and whatever belonged to external worship, would cease. I will make to cease, he says, all her joy. He speaks doubtless, of sacred joys; and this may be easily collected from the context. He adds, her every festal-day. As they were wont to dance on their festal-days, this word may be referred to that practice. He afterwards adds, "her sabbath", and all feast-days. Then the first kind of nakedness was, that God would take away from the Israelites that fallacious and empty form of religion in which they foolishly delighted. The second kind of nakedness was, that they were to be stripped of all earthly riches, and be reduced to misery and extreme want. But I cannot finish to-day.
Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as we are so dull and slothful, that though often admonished, we yet consider not our sins, yea, though chastised by thy hand, we yet return not immediately to a right mind, -- O grant, that we may hereafter profit more under thy rod, and not he refractory and untractable; but as soon as thou raises thy hand, may each of us mourn, know our own evils, and then, with one consent, surrender ourselves to be ruled by thee; and may we, in the meantime, patiently and calmly endure thy chastisements, and never murmur against thee, but ever aspire to the attainment of true repentance, until, having at length put off all the vices and corruptions of our flesh, we attain to the fulness of righteousness, and to that true and blessed glory which has been prepared for us in heaven by Jesus Christ. Amen.
We began yesterday to explain the verse in which the Lord speaks of the intermission of the Sabbath, and of the new-moon, and of external worship. The people of Israel, as we have stated, were to be deprived of these excellent gifts with which they had been favoured. And God, we know, is in two respects bountiful to men. There is his common bounty as to foods and other earthly benefits: but he is especially bountiful to his people in those gifts which are called supernatural. Hence the Prophet says in the first place, I will make to cease the sabbath, and the new-moon, and the festal-days. They indeed thought themselves, blessed when they celebrated the festal-days, when they offered sacrifices, and in a word, when the external pomp of God's worship shone forth among them: yet we know that they worshipped God neither in a lawful place nor in a right manner, as he had commanded in the law; for they mingled many superstitions; nay, the whole of religion among them was polluted; and yet they thought that their worship pleased God. We now see that the object of their punishment was this, -- that the people of Israel might now cease to felicitate themselves on account of their external form of religion, when deprived of their temple, and sacrifices, and all outward worship: and all this happened when the Israelites were driven away into exile. We indeed know that they did not leave off their superstitions until they were deprived of their country and driven into banishment.
I now come to the second kind of nakedness: the Prophet says, I will waste or destroy her vine and her fig-tree, of which she has said, Reward are these to me; that is, These things are wages to me, which my lovers have given to me: and I will make them a forest, and feed on them shall the beast of the field. The second part of the spoiling, as we have said, is, that the Israelites would be reduced to miserable want, who, before, had not only great abundance of good things, but also luxury, as we shall hereafter see more fully in other passages. As then they were swollen with pride on account of their prosperity, the Prophet now announces their future nakedness, I will take away, he says, the vine and the fig-tree. It is a mode of speaking by which a part is to be taken for the whole; for under the vine and the fig-tree the Prophet intended to comprehend every variety of temporal blessings. Whatever then belongs to man's support, the Prophet here includes in these two words: and he repeats what he had said before, that the Israelites falsely thought, that it was a reward paid them for their superstitions, while they worshipped false gods.
She said, These are my reward. The word is derived from the verb hnt tene: some have rendered it gift, but not rightly. I indeed allow that wntn "natnu", which means to give, follows shortly after; from which some derive this word. But we know that in many parts of Scripture hnta, atne, is strictly taken for reward; and is sometimes applied to hired soldiers: but the Prophets often use this word when they speak of harlots. Hence the Prophet here introduces the people of Israel under the character of a harlot; These are my reward, or, These things are my reward, which to me have my lovers given.
Since then the Israelites had so hardened themselves in their superstitions, that this false persuasion could not be driven out of them, until they were deprived of all their blessings, he announces to them this punishment, -- that God would take away whatever they thought had come to them from their idols or false gods: I will turn, he says, all these into a forest, that is, "I will reduce to a waste, both the vineyards and all the well cultivated parts; so that they will produce nothing, as is usually the case with desert places." We now understand the whole meaning of the Prophet. Let us proceed --