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Injustice and Oppression to Be Punished


See, the L ord’s hand is not too short to save,

nor his ear too dull to hear.


Rather, your iniquities have been barriers

between you and your God,

and your sins have hidden his face from you

so that he does not hear.


For your hands are defiled with blood,

and your fingers with iniquity;

your lips have spoken lies,

your tongue mutters wickedness.


No one brings suit justly,

no one goes to law honestly;

they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,

conceiving mischief and begetting iniquity.


They hatch adders’ eggs,

and weave the spider’s web;

whoever eats their eggs dies,

and the crushed egg hatches out a viper.


Their webs cannot serve as clothing;

they cannot cover themselves with what they make.

Their works are works of iniquity,

and deeds of violence are in their hands.


Their feet run to evil,

and they rush to shed innocent blood;

their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity,

desolation and destruction are in their highways.


The way of peace they do not know,

and there is no justice in their paths.

Their roads they have made crooked;

no one who walks in them knows peace.



Therefore justice is far from us,

and righteousness does not reach us;

we wait for light, and lo! there is darkness;

and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.


We grope like the blind along a wall,

groping like those who have no eyes;

we stumble at noon as in the twilight,

among the vigorous as though we were dead.


We all growl like bears;

like doves we moan mournfully.

We wait for justice, but there is none;

for salvation, but it is far from us.


For our transgressions before you are many,

and our sins testify against us.

Our transgressions indeed are with us,

and we know our iniquities:


transgressing, and denying the L ord,

and turning away from following our God,

talking oppression and revolt,

conceiving lying words and uttering them from the heart.


Justice is turned back,

and righteousness stands at a distance;

for truth stumbles in the public square,

and uprightness cannot enter.


Truth is lacking,

and whoever turns from evil is despoiled.


The L ord saw it, and it displeased him

that there was no justice.


He saw that there was no one,

and was appalled that there was no one to intervene;

so his own arm brought him victory,

and his righteousness upheld him.


He put on righteousness like a breastplate,

and a helmet of salvation on his head;

he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,

and wrapped himself in fury as in a mantle.


According to their deeds, so will he repay;

wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies;

to the coastlands he will render requital.


So those in the west shall fear the name of the L ord,

and those in the east, his glory;

for he will come like a pent-up stream

that the wind of the L ord drives on.



And he will come to Zion as Redeemer,

to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the L ord.

21 And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the L ord: my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the L ord, from now on and forever.


12. For our iniquities are multiplied before thee. He confirms what he formerly said, namely, that the people act unjustly in accusing God of cruelty, and in not understanding that they are justly punished for their iniquities, the huge mass of which towers up to heaven; and in this sense the Prophet says that they “are multiplied.” There is also much weight in the phrase “before thee;” for the Prophet descends into himself, and acknowledges the righteous judgment of God, which was hidden from men. Thus he intended to point out an implied contrast between the judgment of God and the judgment of men, who flatter themselves, and do not consider their sins; but God, who is a just judge, does not the less on that account reprove them, or pay any attention to the frivolous excuses under which they endeavor to shelter themselves. For this reason he does not reckon it enough simply to condemn the people, but says that they have “multiplied” their sins, that is, in many respects they are guilty before God. He acknowledges, therefore, that the Lord is righteous, and performs the part of an excellent judge; since nothing good or right is found among men; and therefore he adds, —

Our sins have testified against us, (or, answer 140140     “A witness interrogated by a judge, or even speaking of his own accord, is said, ענה, (gnanah,) ‘to answer.’ The same forIn of expression occurs in Isaiah 3:9; Jeremiah 14:7; Hosea 7:10.” — Rosenmuller to us.) Witnesses are not summoned, or brought from heaven; but the Jews are rebuked and condemned by the testimony of conscience. That mode of expression ought to be carefully observed; for it shows that God does not need many proofs, since our sins hold us to be sufficiently convicted. We must not, therefore, strive with God, as if he punished us unjustly, or chastised us too severely; for our sins openly proclaim what we are, and God does not need additional proofs.

For our iniquities are with us. Instead of “with us,” some render אתנו (ittanu) ”upon us;” but I choose rather to adhere to the strict meaning of the word. 141141     “Lowth translates אתנו, (ittanu,) ‘cleave fast unto us; ‘but interpreters generally prefer the sense expressed in the English Version, (they are with us, that is, in our sight, or present to our memory.)” ­ Alexander.
“Our sins are well known to us.” ­ Doederlein
Men practice evasions, and assume various shapes, in order to appear righteous; but in vain, for they carry with them their iniquities, from which they cannot extricate themselves; as God, in condemning Cain, (Genesis 4:7) declares that “sin keepeth watch before the door;“ so that any one who despises the judgment of God shall in vain attempt to escape by his rebellion.

And we know our sins. When he says that the Jews “know their sins,” he does not mean that their hearts are truly affected by them, for in that case repentance follows; but he declares that, although they desire to escape the judgment of God, the testimony of their own conscience binds and holds them fast, so that it is vain for them to cavil or seek an excuse. He speaks in the first person, as if he were one of the great body of the people. This is very customary; but at the same time he shows that this evil prevails through the whole body to such an extent that not one member is whole or sound; and, although he may plead his own cause before God, yet, because iniquity is diffused through every part of the body, he acknowledges that he is one of the diseased members and is infected by the general contagion. Nor is there any contradiction in having formerly spoken of himself as not sharing the general guilt, and now laying aside all distinction, and including himself along with others.

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