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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.


9. Therefore is judgment far from us. After having described how corrupt and depraved was the condition of that people, he likewise shows that the severe chastisements inflicted on them are richly deserved, that they may not complain of being treated with greater harshness and severity than was proper. Thus he has painted, as in a picture, those vices which were publicly known, that they might more fully perceive in how many and how various ways they were guilty before God; and now he again repeats that we need not wonder if God treat such obstinate dispositions with greater severity, and render to them a just reward. He says that “Judgment is far off, because they were the most wretched of all men, and had not God for their protector as formerly.”

And justice doth not overtake us. He employs the words “judgment” and “justice” as denoting God’s guardianship, when he defends us, and shows that he takes care of us. He calls it “justice” when he defends us, and “judgment” when he revenges the injuries done to us. Here he declares that God had cast away the care of his people, and had deprived them of his countenance and aid, because they were unworthy of it; and hence we ought to observe the particle על כן (gnal ken) “therefore;” for he draws the conclusion that we ought not to blame God, as if he acted unjustly towards his people, since in so many ways they had insulted his majesty.

Of the same import is what he adds, that while they look for light, continual darkness sits down upon them; for the metaphor shows that they were almost consumed by their calamities, and that, when they promised to themselves any alleviation, they were disappointed of their hope. Light is a word very frequently employed to denote prosperity, and darkness to denote adversity. He means, therefore, that it will be vain to expect that their condition shall be changed for the better; and his object is, that the people may learn to ascribe their calamities to themselves, and may not imagine that those calamities happen by chance, or that the Lord is excessively severe; for he always endeavors to bring his people to the doctrine of repentance.

10. We grope for the wall like the blind. He explains the same thing by different forms of expression; for, in consequence of the grievous complaints which were heard among the people, he determined to omit nothing that was fitted to describe their calamities. It is perhaps by way of concession 139139     “Comme s’il accordoit qu’elles fassent vrayes.” “As if he admitted that they were true.” that he mentions those things; as if he had said, “Our affairs are reduced to the deepest misery, but we ought chiefly to consider the cause, for we have deserved all this and far worse.” But it is not a probable interpretation, that stupid persons are aroused to think of their evil actions; for, although they are abundantly disposed to complain, yet the devil stupifies them, so that the tokens of God’s anger do not awaken them to repentance, he alludes to that metaphor which he employed in the preceding verse, when he said that the people were in darkness and obscurity, and found no escape; and. his meaning is, that they are destitute of counsel, and overwhelmed by so deep anguish that they have no solace or refuge. When a lighter evil presses upon us, we look around and hope to find some means of escape; but when we are overpowered by heavier distresses, despair takes from us all ability to see or to judge. For this reason the Prophet says that they have been thrown into a labyrinth, and are “groping.”

We stumble. The same thing is expressed, and even in a still more aggravated form, by this mode of expression, that, if they stir a foot, various stumbling blocks meet them on every hand, and, indeed, that there is no alleviation to their distresses, as if day had been changed into night.

In solitary places as dead men. By “solitary places” I understand either gulfs or ruinous and barren regions; for in this passage I willingly follow the version of Jerome, who derives the word אשמנים (ashmannim) from אשם (asham,)”to be desolate.” The Jews, who choose to derive it from שמן (shaman,) to be fat, appear to me to argue idly, and to have no solid ground for their opinion. They think that it denotes men, because שמן (shemen) denotes “ointment,” and say that this word is used for describing the Gentiles. But the true meaning of the Prophet is, that the Jews have been reduced to a wilderness, so that, shut out from the society of men, they resemble the dead, and have no hope of escape.

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