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8. Sin and Punishment

At that time, saith the Lord, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves: 2And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth. 3And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the Lord of hosts.

4Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord; Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not return? 5Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. 6I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle. 7Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord. 8How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain. 9The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them? 10Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. 11For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. 12Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.

13I will surely consume them, saith the Lord: there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them. 14Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the Lord our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the Lord. 15We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble! 16The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land, and all that is in it; the city, and those that dwell therein. 17For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the Lord.

18 When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me. 19Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the Lord in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? 20The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. 21For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. 22 Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?

THE Prophet repeats what we have noticed in the sixth chapter: but it was necessary to reiterate often, to the deaf and the slothful, what had already been forgotten, or what had not touched their hearts. As these things have been already explained, I shall now only refer briefly to the main points.

He no doubt condemns here the priests and the prophets. He spoke before generally of the whole people, “from the least,” he said, “to the greatest.” But as for the sake of amplifying, he had expressly mentioned the prophets and the priests as given to fraudulent dealings, he now in an especial manner condemns them, not only for grievously offending God, but also for deceiving others by their flatteries, as though they were allowed to sin with impunity. It is, indeed, an inexcusable crime in those, who ought to lead others, to be no less wicked than the common people; for they not only by their example, but also by their doctrine, corrupt the whole community, and thus they increase the evil twofold. It was therefore an intolerable impiety, when they were so presumptuous as to spread those falsehoods, by which they led the people to despise God and his law. Hence he says, that they healed the wound of the people, while God was yet shewing tokens of his wrath. And he speaks, as it has been said elsewhere, by way of concession, as though he had said, that they were very foolish physicians in applying plaisters to cover the wrath of God. 225225     See note on Jeremiah 6:14.

Behold, he says, they have healed the wound of my people, saying, Peace, peace By mentioning the word twice the Prophet shews more clearly how supine was their security; for they deceived the people not only once, but proceeded obstinately in the work of deceiving the wretched people by their false promises. He adds, When there was no peace This may be taken in two ways, — that God by the event exposed their madness, — or, that when there was no prosperity, they still fallaciously promised peace. As God elsewhere complains that the prophets flattered the people, so he does here: such sentences we have already often explained. He then adds —

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