7. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
7. Quid ergo? Quod quaerit Israel, non est assequutus; 1 electio autem assequuta est, reliqui vero excaecati fuerunt;
8. (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear) unto this day.
8. Quemadmodum scriptum est, Dedit illis Deus spiritum compunctionis, oculos ut non videant, et aures ut non audiant, usque ad hodiernum diem.
9. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them:
9. Et David dicit, Fiat mensa eorum in laqueum et in captionem et in offendiculum et in retributionem ipsis:
10. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
10. Obscurentur oculi eorum ne videant, et dorsum eorum semper incurva.
Now the meaning of the word
The quotations which he adduces, collected from various parts of Scripture, and not taken from one passage, do seem, all of them, to be foreign to his purpose, when you closely examine them according to their contexts; for you will find that in every passage, blindness and hardening are mentioned as scourges, by which God punished crimes already committed by the ungodly; but Paul labors to prove here, that not those were blinded, who so deserved by their wickedness, but who were rejected by God before the foundation of the world.
You may thus briefly untie this knot, -- that the origin of the impiety which provokes God's displeasure, is the perversity of nature when forsaken by God. Paul therefore, while speaking of eternal reprobation, has not without reason referred to those things which proceed from it, as fruit from the tree or river from the fountain. The ungodly are indeed, for their sins, visited by God's judgment with blindness; but if we seek for the source of their ruin, we must come to this, -- that being accursed by God, they cannot by all their deeds, sayings, and purposes, get and obtain any thing but a curse. Yet the cause of eternal reprobation is so hidden from us, that nothing remains for us but to wonder at the incomprehensible purpose of God, as we shall at length see by the conclusion. But they reason absurdly who, whenever a word is said of the proximate causes, strive, by bringing forward these, to cover the first, which is hid from our view; as though God had not, before the fall of Adam, freely determined to do what seemed good to him with respect to the whole human race on this account, -- because he condemns his corrupt and depraved seed, and also, because he repays to individuals the reward which their sins have deserved. 3
Then Paul himself adds,
Seeing then that this imprecation remains for all the adversaries of Christ, -- that their meat shall be converted into poison, (as we see that the gospel is to be the savor of death unto death,) let us embrace with humility and trembling the grace of God. We may add, that since David speaks of the Israelites, who descended according to the flesh from Abraham, Paul fitly applies his testimony to the subject in hand, that the blindness of the majority of the people might not appear new or unusual.
1 Literally it is, "what Israel seeks, this he has not obtained." The pronoun for "this,"
2 "Excaecati fuerunt,"
3 The foregoing reasoning is not satisfactory: it goes beyond the evident meaning of the Apostle. He no doubt quoted the texts according to their original design, and to say he did not is to assert what is incapable of being proved, and what is even contrary to the Apostle's reasoning throughout. The hardening or blinding spoken of by the Prophets, is stated uniformly as a punishment for previous unbelief and impenitence, as admitted by our author himself, and the obvious fact as to the Jews in the Apostle's days, was an evidence of the same, and though he states not this fact here, he states it in the sequel of this Epistle. But why some were hardened, and others were softened, is what must be resolved altogether to the will of God. This, and no more than this, is what the Apostle evidently teaches here: and it is neither wise nor right to go beyond what is expressly taught, especially on a subject of a nature so mysterious and incomprehensible. -- Ed.
4 The quotation in this verse is taken from two passages: the first clause is from Isaiah 29:10, and the rest from Isaiah 6:9, or Deuteronomy 29:4. The first clause is not exactly according to the Hebrew or the Septuagint; instead of "God gave them," etc., it is in the Septuagint, "the Lord hath made you drink," etc., and in Hebrew, "Jehovah has poured upon you," etc. It is the "spirit of slumber" in both, or rather, "of deep sleep" --
6 Grotius understands by "table" guests, or friends, who partake of the provisions spread on the table. The wish is, that these should be a snare, etc. "Table," according to Pareus, means luxury or festivity: and he adds, that there are here three metaphors, -- the ensnaring of birds -- the entrapping of wild beasts -- and the stumbling in the dark, or that of blind men. Then the recompense or retaliation implies, that this evil of being ensnared and entrapped, and of stumbling, are only just retaliations for similar acts on their part; as they had ensnared, entrapped, and caused others to stumble, it was but just that they should be treated in the same way. And if we take "table" as a metonymy for friends or guests, the meaning would be very striking. And we know that the very friends and confederates of the Jews became their enemies and effected their ruin. See Jeremiah 38:22.
The subject of imprecations is attended with some difficulty. To imprecate, or to pronounce a curse on others, or to wish others accursed, was forbidden even under the law, and it is expressly forbidden under the gospel, Matthew 5:45; Romans 12;14; we have the example of our Savior praying for his enemies even on the cross; and yet we find that God pronounced a curse on all the transgressors of the law, Deuteronomy 27:26, -- that Christ pronounced a curse on Chorazin and Bethsaida, -- that the Psalmist often imprecated vengeance on his enemies, Psalm 5:10; Psalm 109:7-15, -- that the Apostle cursed Alexander the coppersmith, 2 Timothy 4:14, -- and that John bids us not to pray for him who sins the sin unto death, 1 John 5:16.
The truth is, that circumstances make the difference; what is forbidden in one respect is allowed in another. The rule to man is, not to curse, but to bless, except to pronounce on God's enemies as such the judgment which God has already denounced on them. But to curse individuals is what no one is allowed to do, except he be inspired so as to know who those are who are given up by God to final judgment; which may be supposed to have been the case with the Psalmist and with St. Paul. -- Ed.
7 Psalm 69:22,23. The passage is given as in the Septuagint, except that