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Israel’s Futile Idolatry


The righteous perish,

and no one takes it to heart;

the devout are taken away,

while no one understands.

For the righteous are taken away from calamity,


and they enter into peace;

those who walk uprightly

will rest on their couches.


But as for you, come here,

you children of a sorceress,

you offspring of an adulterer and a whore.


Whom are you mocking?

Against whom do you open your mouth wide

and stick out your tongue?

Are you not children of transgression,

the offspring of deceit—


you that burn with lust among the oaks,

under every green tree;

you that slaughter your children in the valleys,

under the clefts of the rocks?


Among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion;

they, they, are your lot;

to them you have poured out a drink offering,

you have brought a grain offering.

Shall I be appeased for these things?


Upon a high and lofty mountain

you have set your bed,

and there you went up to offer sacrifice.


Behind the door and the doorpost

you have set up your symbol;

for, in deserting me, you have uncovered your bed,

you have gone up to it,

you have made it wide;

and you have made a bargain for yourself with them,

you have loved their bed,

you have gazed on their nakedness.


You journeyed to Molech with oil,

and multiplied your perfumes;

you sent your envoys far away,

and sent down even to Sheol.


You grew weary from your many wanderings,

but you did not say, “It is useless.”

You found your desire rekindled,

and so you did not weaken.



Whom did you dread and fear

so that you lied,

and did not remember me

or give me a thought?

Have I not kept silent and closed my eyes,

and so you do not fear me?


I will concede your righteousness and your works,

but they will not help you.


When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!

The wind will carry them off,

a breath will take them away.

But whoever takes refuge in me shall possess the land

and inherit my holy mountain.


A Promise of Help and Healing


It shall be said,

“Build up, build up, prepare the way,

remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”


For thus says the high and lofty one

who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:

I dwell in the high and holy place,

and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit,

to revive the spirit of the humble,

and to revive the heart of the contrite.


For I will not continually accuse,

nor will I always be angry;

for then the spirits would grow faint before me,

even the souls that I have made.


Because of their wicked covetousness I was angry;

I struck them, I hid and was angry;

but they kept turning back to their own ways.


I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;

I will lead them and repay them with comfort,

creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips.


Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the L ord;

and I will heal them.


But the wicked are like the tossing sea

that cannot keep still;

its waters toss up mire and mud.


There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.


11. And whom hast thou worshipped and feared? Here he breaks out more vehemently against the Jews, because they were destitute of the fear of God, though they boasted of their holiness and sheltered themselves under an empty title of religion. Not only do hypocrites flatter themselves in their superstitions, but they are likewise regarded by the common people as holy and pious; and, therefore, they act haughtily and insolently towards God and men. But the Prophet declares that true fear of God cannot exist, where the worship is not pure and agreeable to his word. All the opinions entertained by men, as to the plausible forms of worship observed by superstitious persons, are absolute wickedness and folly, he declares, therefore, that there is no fear of him and no religion among them, although they are greatly delighted with their masks.

What is more, by their religious ceremonies, as manifest proofs, they show that they have no reverence or fear of God; for God testifies, by Moses, that he makes trial whether or not they love him with all their heart, when he permits superstition and idolatry to be introduced by the false prophets. (Deuteronomy 13:3) All that fly to them, therefore, show that they are altogether destitute of the fear of God; for, if they considered that they must one day give an account to him, they would not so daringly trample under foot his commandments.

And hast not remembered me. When he complains of having been forgotten, he shows that it was through obstinate wickedness that they fought against God, and not through ignorance that they wandered from him; because, having a sure rule of leading a holy life, they willingly revolted from him, and broke the promise which they had made to him. We ought to consider diligently how dreadful is the thunder launched against hypocrites, who mock at all threatenings, and cover themselves by vain disguises, when he declares that they are destitute of the fear of God, and that they are liars and have forgotten him.

Is it not because I held my peace? 113113     “Have I not held my peace?” ­ (Eng. Ver.) Here I have thought it right to insert the word “because,” which needs to be supplied, in order to bring out more fully the Prophet’s meaning; for those who do not supply some word subject themselves to a vast amount of trouble in bringing out an exposition; and we know how frequently this mode of expression is employed by the Hebrew writers. He reproaches the Jews with having abused God’s forbearance and patience, by which their hearts ought rather to have been softened. But such is the wickedness of men, that it renders them bolder in transgression, and leads them to think that they may do what they please without being punished.

Accordingly, in the last clause of the verse I consider the particle ו (vau) to mean therefore. “And therefore thou dost not fear me, because I held my peace, whereas thou oughtest rather to have been melted by my goodness.” Hence we infer that the Jews could not complain of God’s excessive severity, since he bore patiently with them for a long time, and they grew worse and worse in consequence of having been exempted from punishment. It was therefore necessary that he should assume a totally different character, and punish them more severely for their iniquities.

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