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Lecture Seventy-First

The Prophet, having related that he had denounced on the Jews the vengeance of God, adds now, how proudly they despised his threatenings. And their sin was on this account enhanced, because a hope of pardon remained for them, provided they returned to God. But the Prophet says, that they expressly refused to do so. They said, נואש nuash, which we render, “It is all over,” though interpreters in general render it, “It is past hope.” We have spoken of this word in chapter second, and the Prophet now repeats the same thing, — that the Jews were obstinately given to superstitions, and also to perverted counsels, thinking that they could well provide for their own safety and drive away all dangers by connecting themselves, at one time with the Assyrians, and at another with the Egyptians. But as the verb יאש iash, may be taken as signifying, to be weary, as we learn from the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes; it may perhaps be not unsuitably rendered here, “We are become weary;” that is, we are unwilling to consume so much labor in vain; for the ungodly took this as a reason for their obstinacy, that they had labored long and much in something or another; and pride hardened them, and they said, “Have we not hitherto labored in vain?” Now this meaning, “We have become wearied,” Does not appear in-suitable, by which they implied, “Thou oughtest to have called us back at the beginning; but now we have nearly finished the whole journey and are not far distant from the goal; it cannot then be that we shall return to the starting place, for it would be absurd for us to spend so much labor in vain and to no purpose.” Nor is this meaning disapproved of by those who regard the word as a noun, “It is weariness,” that is, “It is now too late to reprove us, for we have now followed this way for many years.” 196196     The variety of the versions is remarkable as to the word נואש; “We shall be men, or act manly,” is the Septuagint; “We have despaired,” the Vulgate; “We shall perish,” the Syriac. It is a participle, and may be rendered “Hopeless.” Blayney’s version is, “It is a thing not to be hoped.” — Ed

With regard to the main subject, there is but little difference. But the meaning would be clearer were we thus to paraphrase it, “Labor more than enough has been already spent; thou comest then not in due time.”

Isaiah in Isaiah 57:10, seems to have reproved the Jews for what was praiseworthy, if this declaration of Jeremiah be right; for he spoke thus,

“For ye have wearied yourselves in your ways,”

and no one has said נואש, nuash; and Jeremiah reproves them here for having said נואש, nuash. These two places theft seem inconsistent. But when Isaiah spoke thus, he reproved the insensibility of the Jews, for even experience, which is said to be the teacher of fools, had not made them weary; for when they had so often found by their own calamities that they had been at one time deceived by the Assyrians, and at another by the Egyptians, it was an instance of palpable madness not to learn at length by long experience, and to confess, “We have surely labored in vain.” We thus see in what sense Isaiah blamed them for not saying, “It is weariness;” that is, because they did not consider that their labor had been in vain. But our Prophet here has another thing in view, — that the Jews were unwilling to lose their toil, but went on in their course obstinately, for they had hardened themselves so as to persist in their corrupt habit of sinning.

It follows, For after our thoughts we shall go, and every one will do the wickedness of his evil heart? 197197     More literally, —
   For after our own contrivances shall we go;
And we shall do, each, the resolutions of his evil heart.

    — Ed.
Doubtless they did not thus speak openly, for they did not avowedly boast that they were ungodly and despisers of God: but the Prophet did not regard what they said, but what their conduct proved, for the Jews were wont to set up their own devices and the fallacies of Satan against the word of God. No wonder then that the Prophet charges them with these impious and sacrilegious words, that they resolved to follow their own thoughts, and the wickedness of their own hearts, rather than to submit to God and to obey his word.

We hence see that hypocrites gain nothing by obtruding their vain mummeries, for God cannot be dealt with sophistically or cunningly. Condemnation then awaits all the ungodly, however they may by disguises cover their wickedness; for whatever is contrary to sound doctrine, is a sinful device, a fallacy of Satan, and, in a word, the impiety of a corrupt heart. Whosoever indeed turns aside from the plain teaching of the prophets, and from the teaching of the law, follow their own thoughts, or the figments of their own hearts. It hence follows that they try evasions in vain, for when they reject pure doctrine they set up their own inventions. In the same sense we are to take the words “his own evil heart,” לבו הרע labu ero; they never confessed that, their heart was evil or wicked, and yet the Prophet charged them with having uttered the words here stated, for he considered, as I have said, what their conduct proved, and not the evasions by which hypocrites usually attempt to deceive God. It now follows —

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