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Judgment on Idolatrous Israel


The word of the L ord came to me: 2O mortal, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, 3and say, You mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord G od! Thus says the Lord G od to the mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: I, I myself will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places. 4Your altars shall become desolate, and your incense stands shall be broken; and I will throw down your slain in front of your idols. 5I will lay the corpses of the people of Israel in front of their idols; and I will scatter your bones around your altars. 6Wherever you live, your towns shall be waste and your high places ruined, so that your altars will be waste and ruined, your idols broken and destroyed, your incense stands cut down, and your works wiped out. 7The slain shall fall in your midst; then you shall know that I am the L ord.

8 But I will spare some. Some of you shall escape the sword among the nations and be scattered through the countries. 9Those of you who escape shall remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I was crushed by their wanton heart that turned away from me, and their wanton eyes that turned after their idols. Then they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. 10And they shall know that I am the L ord; I did not threaten in vain to bring this disaster upon them.

11 Thus says the Lord G od: Clap your hands and stamp your foot, and say, Alas for all the vile abominations of the house of Israel! For they shall fall by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. 12Those far off shall die of pestilence; those nearby shall fall by the sword; and any who are left and are spared shall die of famine. Thus I will spend my fury upon them. 13And you shall know that I am the L ord, when their slain lie among their idols around their altars, on every high hill, on all the mountain tops, under every green tree, and under every leafy oak, wherever they offered pleasing odor to all their idols. 14I will stretch out my hand against them, and make the land desolate and waste, throughout all their settlements, from the wilderness to Riblah. Then they shall know that I am the L ord.

Now he again announces that they shall know what they have long neglected. But here a different knowledge from the former seems to be marked; for he has lately said that they should so remember as to be ashamed, and acknowledge that the slaughters predicted by the Prophets had not been in vain: but here he mentions nothing of this kind, but only speaks of that experimental knowledge which is common to the ungodly. And, in truth, this doctrine seems to be extended promiscuously to all the commonalty. For although for the most part they did not profit by it, yet all perceived that God was a judge, because so clear and conspicuous was the proof of his vengeance, that they were compelled to feel, whether they would or not, that their punishment was just. We may perceive, then, that the Prophet intends the phrase — then ye shall know, etc., in a wide sense, because he addresses all the Israelites without exception, even those who should perish. For, we said, such was the character of that knowledge, that it only frightened them, and did not bend them to humility. And, truly, the words which follow show only the terrible vengeance of God, when they shall be slain, says he, that is, shall fall, near their idols But we have said that they would more clearly acknowledge the vengeance of God from this — that he rendered their false gods an object of ridicule. But, as I have said before, the Prophet uses an opprobrious name when speaking of idols. Since, therefore, they so fell near their idols, under the confidence and protection of which they thought that they would always be safe; and although the idols themselves were thus involved in the condemnation, this made God’s vengeance more manifest. And this is the reason, as I have before suggested, why the Prophet enters into these details. What follows is to the same purpose — by the circuit of all their altars This, then, was profanation of all altars, to be defiled by carcases being drawn over them, and then sprinkled with human blood. But he also points out the places where they worshipped false gods; for we have said that lofty places were chosen for them, but here he puts lofty hills, and then the tops of the mountains But as idol-worshippers heaped to themselves various and numerous games, when they were satiated with their high places, they had shady valleys, for their altars were under trees, where they offered incense. The Prophet therefore pronounces that there was no place which God did not condemn with infamy. When, therefore, he says that the incense had a pleasing smell, the opposite is doubtless intended, since this incense was foul before God: as when an immodest woman desires to please an adulterer, it moves the wrath of her husband, so here God silently complains that he was provoked by that foul incense with which the Israelites wished and desired to gratify their idols.

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