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Ezekiel 12:17-19

17. Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

17. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me dicendo,

18. Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness;

18. Fili hominis, panem tuam in tremore comede, et aquas tuas in tumultu et dolore 258258     Either “torture,” or, “anxiety.” — Calvin. bibe;

19. And say unto the people of the land, Thus saith the Lord GOD of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land of Israel; They shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment, that her land may be desolate from all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein.

19. Et dices ad populum terrae, Sic dicit Dominator Iehovah habitatoribus 259259     Or, “inhabitants.” — Calvin. Hierosolymae super terrain Israel, Panem snare in anxietate 260260     Either “torture,” or, “pain,” for he repeats the same word. — Calvin. comedent, et aquas suds in desolatione bibent, ut vastetur 261261     Or, “be made desolate.” — Calvin. terra a sua plenitudine, propter violentiam omnium qui habitant in ea.


The Prophet is now ordered to represent the famine which awaited the Jews in both the siege and exile. But this prophecy ought to be especially referred to the time of the siege; for the Jews were in continual fear, and thought that by means of their garrison they would be impregnable. But as the Lord had often removed this trust from them, so he does now: hence therefore that miserable anxiety and fear, so that they never ate their bread but in fear, nor drank their water but in confusion. For a besieged city always fears for itself, and then the enemy so harasses them that fatigue at length compels the besieged to surrender. And it is probable, since the army of the Chaldees could often attempt to take the city with ease and without any great loss, that the Jews would daily be subject to fresh terrors, so that they could neither eat bread nor drink water except in anxiety and confusion. But because simple and unadorned teaching would not have been effective among the ten tribes and the Jews, hence an outward symbol is added. The Prophet therefore is the image of the besieged people, and hence he is ordered to eat his bread with trembling, that the spectacle might the more affect these slow and slothful men. By and bye the application follows, thou shalt say to the people of the land I do not doubt that he here means the ten tribes: hence the land signifies Chaldea, and those regions through which the exiles were dispersed. As we have before seen, it was to their advantage to hear this, because they thought that the Jews remaining at home were treated well, and themselves miserably. Hence not only their complaint but even their outcry against God and his servants, especially Jeremiah. This then is the reason why the Prophet is obliged to utter his discourse to the captives.

But afterwards it follows, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to the inhabitants of Jerusalem concerning the land of Israel, that is, those remaining in the land of Israel. We here see that the land of Israel is distinguished from the other land, of which mention was lately made. Those who dwelt at Jerusalem remained quiet in their own inheritance; and hence their condition was esteemed better, because nothing is more sad than exile and captivity. But God pronounces them more miserable than the captives, who had already been relieved from the principal part of their miseries. They shall eat, says he, their bread in pain, or torture, and shall drink their water in desolation: he does not repeat the same words which he had formerly used, but shortly shows that the Jews boasted in vain that they were still in safety: because very soon the enemy will press upon them, so that they should not be able to eat a mouthful of bread in peace. That the land may be reduced, says he, from plenty to devastation: some translate, after its plenty, which is forced and far-fetched; for the Prophet means that the land would be desert and empty through exhaustion: for plenty, as we well know, means an abundance of all things. Judea was then reduced from plenty to want, when the enemies plundered whatever it contained, and so the region was despoiled of its wealth. The reason follows, through the violence of those who dwell in it. Some explain this erroneously of the Chaldees, because they lost the whole land through their rapacity. For the Prophet rather advises that this vengeance of God was just, because in truth all the Jews were given up to violence, cruelty, and rapacity. חמס, chemes, signifies all kinds of injury, but usually means violence and rapine. Hence we understand the Prophet’s intention, namely, that the Jews suffered this slaughter deservedly, because the just reward of their wickedness was measured out to them. And thus Ezekiel represses all complaints, in which they too freely indulged, as if God was treating them too roughly and hardly. Therefore he shortly teaches them that he would not spare them any longer. It follows —

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