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The Imminence and Horror of the Invasion


Flee for safety, O children of Benjamin,

from the midst of Jerusalem!

Blow the trumpet in Tekoa,

and raise a signal on Beth-haccherem;

for evil looms out of the north,

and great destruction.


I have likened daughter Zion

to the loveliest pasture.


Shepherds with their flocks shall come against her.

They shall pitch their tents around her;

they shall pasture, all in their places.


“Prepare war against her;

up, and let us attack at noon!”

“Woe to us, for the day declines,

the shadows of evening lengthen!”


“Up, and let us attack by night,

and destroy her palaces!”


For thus says the L ord of hosts:

Cut down her trees;

cast up a siege ramp against Jerusalem.

This is the city that must be punished;

there is nothing but oppression within her.


As a well keeps its water fresh,

so she keeps fresh her wickedness;

violence and destruction are heard within her;

sickness and wounds are ever before me.


Take warning, O Jerusalem,

or I shall turn from you in disgust,

and make you a desolation,

an uninhabited land.



Thus says the L ord of hosts:

Glean thoroughly as a vine

the remnant of Israel;

like a grape-gatherer, pass your hand again

over its branches.



To whom shall I speak and give warning,

that they may hear?

See, their ears are closed,

they cannot listen.

The word of the L ord is to them an object of scorn;

they take no pleasure in it.


But I am full of the wrath of the L ord;

I am weary of holding it in.


Pour it out on the children in the street,

and on the gatherings of young men as well;

both husband and wife shall be taken,

the old folk and the very aged.


Their houses shall be turned over to others,

their fields and wives together;

for I will stretch out my hand

against the inhabitants of the land,

says the L ord.



For from the least to the greatest of them,

everyone is greedy for unjust gain;

and from prophet to priest,

everyone deals falsely.


They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,

saying, “Peace, peace,”

when there is no peace.


They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;

yet they were not ashamed,

they did not know how to blush.

Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;

at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,

says the L ord.


Thus says the L ord:

Stand at the crossroads, and look,

and ask for the ancient paths,

where the good way lies; and walk in it,

and find rest for your souls.

But they said, “We will not walk in it.”


Also I raised up sentinels for you:

“Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!”

But they said, “We will not give heed.”


Therefore hear, O nations,

and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.


Hear, O earth; I am going to bring disaster on this people,

the fruit of their schemes,

because they have not given heed to my words;

and as for my teaching, they have rejected it.


Of what use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba,

or sweet cane from a distant land?

Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,

nor are your sacrifices pleasing to me.


Therefore thus says the L ord:

See, I am laying before this people

stumbling blocks against which they shall stumble;

parents and children together,

neighbor and friend shall perish.



Thus says the L ord:

See, a people is coming from the land of the north,

a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.


They grasp the bow and the javelin,

they are cruel and have no mercy,

their sound is like the roaring sea;

they ride on horses,

equipped like a warrior for battle,

against you, O daughter Zion!



“We have heard news of them,

our hands fall helpless;

anguish has taken hold of us,

pain as of a woman in labor.


Do not go out into the field,

or walk on the road;

for the enemy has a sword,

terror is on every side.”



O my poor people, put on sackcloth,

and roll in ashes;

make mourning as for an only child,

most bitter lamentation:

for suddenly the destroyer

will come upon us.



I have made you a tester and a refiner among my people

so that you may know and test their ways.


They are all stubbornly rebellious,

going about with slanders;

they are bronze and iron,

all of them act corruptly.


The bellows blow fiercely,

the lead is consumed by the fire;

in vain the refining goes on,

for the wicked are not removed.


They are called “rejected silver,”

for the L ord has rejected them.


This is an explanation of the last verse, yet not simply so; for the Prophet by a similitude aggravates the obstinacy of the people, who were not only deaf to the Prophet’s admonitions, but would not be roused by the sound of the trumpet, nor even attend to it. The sound of the trumpet ought to have penetrated into their minds more than anything else for two reasons, — because it was louder than any voice of man, — and also, because we do not usually hear the trumpet sounding, except when war is at hand, or when there is the fear of war.

We hence see why the Prophet, after having announced his message, mentions the sound of the trumpet; as though he had said, that not only the prophets were despised, while teaching the people, but that the sound of the trumpet, announcing the approach of war, was not attended to by them. The stupidity of the people, and not only their stupidity, but as I have said, their perverseness also, was more fully proved, than if the Prophet had simply said, that they had resolved not to hear. It now follows —

He turns now to address the nations, which had never heard anything of true religion. But the design of the apostrophe was, to make the Jews ashamed of their insensibility and deafness, for more attention and understanding were found among heathen nations. This was surely very great shame: the Jews had been plainly taught by the Law and by the Prophets, God had continued morning and evening to repeat the same things to them, that the nations, who had never heard the prophets and to whom the Law had not been given, should still be endued with more understanding and judgment than the Jews — this was very shameful and really monstrous. Thus the Prophet’s design was to expose their disgraceful conduct by addressing the nations, and saying, Hear, ye nations

Then he says, Know, thou assembly The words used are דעי, doi, and עדה, ode; and though the letters are inverted, there is yet an alliteration by no means ungraceful. With regard to the meaning, the Prophet shews that he found no disciples among the elect people, for they were like brute beasts or stones or trunks; he therefore turned to address the nations, as he despaired of any fruit to his labors among the Jews: ye nations, then, hear, and know, thou assembly, (the reference is to any people,) what shall be to them Some interpreters apply this to their vices, and give this version, “What their state is, “or, “What atrocious vices prevail and reign among them.” But I prefer to apply it to their punishment, though I do not contend for this view, as there is a probability in favor of the other. But the Prophet seems here to send for the nations, that they might be witnesses of the just vengeance of God, because the people’s impiety had become irreclaimable. “Hear then what shall be done to them.” He had threatened the Jews as he had done before, and as he will often do hereafter; but his design in this place was to reproach them for being so intractable; for he expected that his labors would produce more fruit among the nations than among them. 179179     The version of the Septuagint is wholly inconsistent with the drift of the passage. The other ancient versions are materially according to our version. Several MSS. read ודעוfor ודעי; and this renders the meaning much better. Then עדהis “testimony” as well as “assembly,“ which appears here very much without meaning. The two verses would then be as follows, —
   18. Therefore hear, ye nations, And know the testimony which is against them;

   19. Yea, hear thou earth, — Behold, I am bringing an evil on this people, The fruit of their own devices, Because to my words they have not hearkened; And my law, they have ever rejected it.

   The preposition ב is found after the verb, to testify, and is even rendered to or against; and coming after the substantive, testimony, it ought to be rendered the same. — Ed

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