a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above


At that time, says the L ord, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its officials, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be brought out of their tombs; 2and they shall be spread before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and served, which they have followed, and which they have inquired of and worshiped; and they shall not be gathered or buried; they shall be like dung on the surface of the ground. 3Death shall be preferred to life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family in all the places where I have driven them, says the L ord of hosts.


The Blind Perversity of the Whole Nation


You shall say to them, Thus says the L ord:

When people fall, do they not get up again?

If they go astray, do they not turn back?


Why then has this people turned away

in perpetual backsliding?

They have held fast to deceit,

they have refused to return.


I have given heed and listened,

but they do not speak honestly;

no one repents of wickedness,

saying, “What have I done!”

All of them turn to their own course,

like a horse plunging headlong into battle.


Even the stork in the heavens

knows its times;

and the turtledove, swallow, and crane

observe the time of their coming;

but my people do not know

the ordinance of the L ord.



How can you say, “We are wise,

and the law of the L ord is with us,”

when, in fact, the false pen of the scribes

has made it into a lie?


The wise shall be put to shame,

they shall be dismayed and taken;

since they have rejected the word of the L ord,

what wisdom is in them?


Therefore I will give their wives to others

and their fields to conquerors,

because from the least to the greatest

everyone is greedy for unjust gain;

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 at all ashamed,

they did not know how to blush.

Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;

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

says the L ord.


When I wanted to gather them, says the L ord,

there are no grapes on the vine,

nor figs on the fig tree;

even the leaves are withered,

and what I gave them has passed away from them.



Why do we sit still?

Gather together, let us go into the fortified cities

and perish there;

for the L ord our God has doomed us to perish,

and has given us poisoned water to drink,

because we have sinned against the L ord.


We look for peace, but find no good,

for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.



The snorting of their horses is heard from Dan;

at the sound of the neighing of their stallions

the whole land quakes.

They come and devour the land and all that fills it,

the city and those who live in it.


See, I am letting snakes loose among you,

adders that cannot be charmed,

and they shall bite you,

says the L ord.


The Prophet Mourns for the People


My joy is gone, grief is upon me,

my heart is sick.


Hark, the cry of my poor people

from far and wide in the land:

“Is the L ord not in Zion?

Is her King not in her?”

(“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images,

with their foreign idols?”)


“The harvest is past, the summer is ended,

and we are not saved.”


For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,

I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.



Is there no balm in Gilead?

Is there no physician there?

Why then has the health of my poor people

not been restored?

He increases their terror by another comparison, — that not only enemies would violently attack them, but that their bitings would be venomous. He had spoken of horses, and mentioned their violent onsets; but he now expresses another thing, — that the Jews would have to carry on war with vipers and basilisks The Prophet no doubt only meant to shew that they could not possibly escape; for as from serpents men can hardly escape, especially when they are numerous, and assail them on every side, so he intimates, that the war would be fatal to the Jews, when attacked by serpents and vipers.

They shall bite you, he says, and for them there will be no incantation; that is, by no means can they be driven away from you. If one asks, Can serpents be driven away by incantations? the answer is, — that the Prophet here does not refer to what is true, but speaks according to the common opinions of men. It has been thought in all ages, that serpents can be driven away by incantations, or be killed, or be deprived of the power of hurting. “The deadly snake, “says Virgil, in Eclo. viii., “is dissolved in the meadows by singing.” What that heathen poet has said has been believed also by other nations; and as I have already said, it has been a commonly received opinion that serpents may be charmed. As then it was a common belief, the Prophet says, “If ye think that these serpents can be turned away, and the hurt that proceeds from them, ye are greatly deceived; for there will be for them no incantation.” There is also a mention made of incantation in Psalm 58:6: but as I have already said, the prophets accommodate their words to the comprehension of men. The Prophet does here also indirectly reprove the Jews, by comparing their false resources to incantations, as though he had said, — “Ye think that ye can soothe your enemies by flatteries and bribery, so that they may not hurt you; and ye also think that ye have ready at hand various means by which you may avert the evils which impend over you: in vain, he says, ye deceive yourselves with such hopes; for all your incantations as to these serpents shall be to no purpose, and wholly useless.”

We now then perceive the Prophet’s intention, and see that by this figure he ironically derides the crafty measures of the people, and all the remedies which they thought they had in readiness when assailed by their enemies. It follows —

VIEWNAME is study