4. They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.
4. Omnes adulteri, sicut fornax incensa a pistore, cessabit ab excitando post conspersionem (vel, mixtionem) farinae, sonec fermentetur.
The Prophet pursues the same subject in this verse: he says that they were all adulterers. This similitude has already been often explained. He speaks not here of common fornication, but calls them adulterers, because they had violated their faith pledged to God, because they gave themselves up to filthy superstitions, and also, because they had wholly corrupted themselves, for faith and sincerity of heart constitute spiritual chastity before God. When men become corrupt in their whole life, and degenerate from the pure worship of God, they are justly deemed adulterers. In this sense does the Prophet now say, that they were all adulterers, and thus he confirms what I have said before, that as to the corruptions which then prevailed, it was not few men who had been drawn into them, but that the whole people were implicated in guilt; for they were all adulterers. To say that they had been deceived by the king, that they had been forced by authority, that they had been compelled by the tyranny of their princes, would have been vain and frivolous, for all of them were adulterers.
He afterwards compares them to a furnace or an oven, They are, he says, as a furnace or an oven, heated by the baker, who ceases from stirring up until the meal kneaded is well fermented. The Prophet by this similitude shows more clearly, that the people were not corrupted by some outward impulse, but by their own inclination and propensity of mind; yea, by a mad and furious desire of acting wickedly. He had previously said that they had willfully sinned, when they readily embraced the edict of the king; but now he goes still farther and says that they had been set on fire by an inward sinful instinct, and were like a hot oven. Then he adds that this had not been a sudden impulse, as it sometimes happens; but that it had so continued, that they were confirmed in their wickedness. When he says, that adulterers are like a burning oven, he means, that their defection had not only been voluntary, so that the blame was in themselves; but that they had also ardently seized on the occasion of sinning, and had been heated, as an hot oven. The ungodly often restrain their desires, and suppress them when no occasion is presented, but give vent to them when they have the opportunity of sinning with impunity. So God now declares that the people of Israel had not only been prone to defection, but had also greedily desired it, so that their madness was like a burning flame. 1
But a third thing follows, and that is, that this fire had not been suddenly lighted up, but had been for a long time gathering strength. Hence he says As an oven heated by the baker, who ceases, he says, from stirring up after the shaking or mixing of the meal, until it be fermented. Mwl, lush, means "to besprinkle," empaster is what they say here. Some foolishly hold that they were like those who sleep and afterwards awake early in the morning. But the Prophet had a different thing in view, and that was, that by length of time their wickedness had increased, and, as it were, by degrees. He means, in short, that they had not been under a sudden impulse, like men who often break out through want of thought, and immediately repent; and their lust, which had been in a moment set on fire, in a short time abates. The Prophet says, that the frenzy of the people of Israel had been different; for they had been like an oven, which the baker, after having lighted up, allows to grow quite hot even to the highest degree; for he waits while the dough is becoming well fermented. It was not then the intemperance and lust of a few days; but they made their hearts quite hot, as when a baker heats his oven, and puts in a great quantity of fuel, that after a time it may become heated, while the dough is fermenting.
The word ryem, meoir, "from stirring up," is to be taken for ryehm, maeoir; for what some say, that the baker rested from the city, that is, to manage public affairs, is frigid. Others render it thus, "He rests from the city," so as not to be a citizen, -- to what purpose? There is then no doubt but that the Prophet here pursues his own similitudes which he will again shortly repeat. It follows --