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Social Evils Denounced


Alas for those who devise wickedness

and evil deeds on their beds!

When the morning dawns, they perform it,

because it is in their power.


They covet fields, and seize them;

houses, and take them away;

they oppress householder and house,

people and their inheritance.


Therefore thus says the L ord:

Now, I am devising against this family an evil

from which you cannot remove your necks;

and you shall not walk haughtily,

for it will be an evil time.


On that day they shall take up a taunt song against you,

and wail with bitter lamentation,

and say, “We are utterly ruined;

the L ord alters the inheritance of my people;

how he removes it from me!

Among our captors he parcels out our fields.”


Therefore you will have no one to cast the line by lot

in the assembly of the L ord.



“Do not preach”—thus they preach—

“one should not preach of such things;

disgrace will not overtake us.”


Should this be said, O house of Jacob?

Is the L ord’s patience exhausted?

Are these his doings?

Do not my words do good

to one who walks uprightly?


But you rise up against my people as an enemy;

you strip the robe from the peaceful,

from those who pass by trustingly

with no thought of war.


The women of my people you drive out

from their pleasant houses;

from their young children you take away

my glory forever.


Arise and go;

for this is no place to rest,

because of uncleanness that destroys

with a grievous destruction.


If someone were to go about uttering empty falsehoods,

saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,”

such a one would be the preacher for this people!


A Promise for the Remnant of Israel


I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob,

I will gather the survivors of Israel;

I will set them together

like sheep in a fold,

like a flock in its pasture;

it will resound with people.


The one who breaks out will go up before them;

they will break through and pass the gate,

going out by it.

Their king will pass on before them,

the L ord at their head.


Here again the Prophet checks the foolish confidence of the people. The land of Canaan, we know, had been honored by God with the distinction of being a rest; yea God called it, not only the rest of the people, but also his own rest,

‘I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest,’
(Psalm 95:11.)

The land of Canaan then was a sort of rest, hidden under the wings of God; for the Lord had assigned it as an inheritance to his chosen people. As God then dwelt in that land, and had also given it to the children of Abraham, that they might rest there in safety, and as this was also one of the blessings contained in the Law, hypocrites said, pursuing their usual course of falsely and groundlessly claiming to themselves the favors of God, that they could not be thence expelled, and that those Prophets were falsifiers who dared to change any thing in God’s covenant. This is the reason why the Prophet now says,

Arise, depart; this is not your rest. “False confidence,” he says, “deceives you, as ye think that ye are inseparably fixed in your habitation. God indeed has made such a promise, but this condition was added, — If ye will stand faithful to his covenant. Now ye are become covenant-breakers: ye think that he is fast bound to you; all the cords are loosened; for as ye have perfidiously departed from the Law of God, there is now no reason for you to think that he is under any obligation to you. There is then no ground for you to boast of being a holy people; you have indeed the name, but the reality has ceased to be: therefore arise and depart: but to sit still securely and proudly will avail you nothing, for God will now drive you afar off: and I now declare to you that you must arise and depart, for ye cannot rest in this land against the will of God: and God will now thrust you out of it.” We now perceive the real meaning of the Prophet.

He afterwards adds, For it is polluted; he will scatter you with violent scattering 8989     The original is תחבל וחבל נמרף, which, according to Parkhurst, is, “It is bound;” that is, bound over to punishment, “and the bond is grievous;” or, as it may be rendered, strong; which is only found in Niphal in two other places, 1 Kings 2:8; Job 6:25. In the first it is rendered, grievous, — “a grievous crime,” and in the second, forcible, — “How forcible are the right words!”
   But most others attach the idea of corruption and destruction to חבל: and Newcome takes the verb here in a passive sense, and gives this rendering of the distich, —

   “Because it is polluted, it shall be destroyed,
And the destruction
shall be great.”

   Some render the verb actively, “It,” i.e. the land, “shall destroy you,” a reference being made, as it is thought, to what is said in Leviticus 18:25. The version of Marckius is this, —

   Quando quidem impuritas corrumpet,
Et corruptio acris

   Seeing that impurity will destroy it,
And a violent destruction.

   The previous word טמאה is here taken as a noun. But the most literal, and the most satisfactory, is the rendering of Newcome.Ed.
Here again he vindicates God from their calumny and ungodly murmurings. We indeed know how difficult it was to bring down that people, who were steeped in so great a perverseness. And we find that the Prophet had a hard contest with the hypocrites, for the multitude had ever this language in their mouths, — What! is it of no moment that God has favored us with so many and so remarkable promises? Is our adoption nothing but a mockery? Has he in vain given us this land by an hereditary right? Since then hypocrites thus brought forward their privileges in opposition to God, and yet abused them, it was necessary to convince them to the contrary, and this is what the Prophet does here, — “Ye call,” he says, “this land your rest, but how do you rest in it? God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath, for he dwells among you to sanctify you: but ye live disorderly, and carry on war with God himself: have not your pollutions obliterated that holy rest, which has been enjoined on you by God? Ye then see that this change has happened through your fault, that is, that God has ceased to call this land, as he was wont formerly to do, your and his own rest. It is not then your rest; he will therefore scatter you with violent or strong scattering: Ye in vain promise to yourselves rest in this land, since ye carry on war with God, and cease not to provoke his wrath against you.” It follows —

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