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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?

As the hardness of the people was so great, that the threatenings we have observed did not touch them, the Prophet now ascribes to himself what he had before attributed to them. We then see how the Prophet varies his mode of speaking; but it was necessary, for he was at a loss to find a way to address them sufficiently strong to penetrate into their stony and even iron hearts. We need not wonder, then, that there are so many figurative terms used by the Prophet; for it was needful to set before them God’s judgment in various ways, that the people might be awakened out of their torpid state.

He then says, that he was bruised for the bruising of his people. He was no doubt ridiculed by most of them: “Oh! thou grievest for thine own evils; it is well and prosperous with us: who has asked thee for this pity? Think not, then, that thou canst gain any favor with us, for we are contented with our lot. Weep rather for thine own calamities, if thou hast any at home; but suffer us at the same time to enjoy our pleasures, since God is propitious and indulgent to us.” Thus then was the Prophet derided; but yet he warns the obstinate people, that they might be less excusable: he says, that he was rendered black; for sorrow brings blackness with it, and makes dark the face of man: it is a metaphorical expression. He says at last, that he was astonished 233233     To keep throughout the metaphorical character of this verse, it ought to be rendered thus, —
   For the bruising of the daughter of my people I was bruised, I became black;
Desolation possessed me.

   But taking the words as applied to the mind, divested of metaphor, we must render them thus, —

   For the sorrow of the daughter of my people I sorrowed, I mourned;
Astonishment possessed me.

   And this “astonishment” he explains in the next verse: there were means of restoration, and yet the people were not restored; at this he was astonished. — Ed.
The astonishment with which he was seized he no doubt sets down as being the opposite of the people’s torpor and insensibility, for they had no fear for themselves. It follows —

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