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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 intimates in these words that the slaughter of the people would be so fatal that they would in vain seek remedies; as though he had said, that the disease would be incurable, and altogether deadly. The people, no doubt, ever devised for themselves many kinds of aids, according to what is commonly done; for ungodly men, when any danger appears, look around them on all sides; and when they think that they can be protected by any kind of assistance, or by any of the means they contrive, they rest secure and free from every trouble. Hence the Prophet, that he might dispel such vain confidences, says that there would be no rosin to heal their diseases. The rosin is a liquid which flows, not from every tree, but from the pine, and trees of that kind.

We may conclude from this passage, as well as from other passages, that the best and the most valuable rosin was found in that part of Judea, called Gilead. Indeed the whole of Judea produced rosin; but as it was more abundant in Gilead, and as that rosin was more odoriferous and more powerful, he expressly mentions that place. The word צרי tsari, means also balsam: and as to this let each follow his own opinion, for the Jews themselves do not altogether agree. They who render it “treacle” wholly depart from the meaning, and offer what is absurd; for we know that treacle is made up of several ingredients: now rosin is not any sort of gum, but a thick liquid, as I have said, which belongs to trees; and from it comes rosin, and mastic, and other things; for the liquid becomes thick after it has flown from the trees.

He says then, as one astonished, Is there not rosin in Gilead? Is there not a physician there? But the Prophet foretells here by the Spirit, that there would be such a destruction as could not by any means be avoided, that the disease would be incurable. For why, he says, does not health come to the daughter of my people? The reason is added, because healing could not be expected by the people; not that the Jews perceived this, for, on the contrary, they boasted, as I have said, of their perfect safety. But the Prophet here declares that a deadly disease was at hand, which would inevitably destroy the wicked 234234     As the whole passage, from the 19th verse, is anticipative, and represents the ease of the Jews in captivity, this verse is to be viewed in the same light, and rendered in the past tense, —
   22. Was there not balm in Gilead? Was there not a healer there?
Why then has not succeeded The recovery of the daughter of my people?

   Whether balm or rosin be meant, it makes no great difference; its healing virtues had become proverbial; and in this sense it is to be taken here. Kimchi held that it was balm or balsam, which Josephus reports was first brought to Judea by the Queen of Sheba. But the tree which produced צרי, was not an exotic, but indigenous in Judea, as it appears from Genesis 37:25, and 43:10; and it grew especially in Gilead, as it appears from this passage and from chap. 46:11 Bochart maintained that rosin is meant by the word, the gum drawn from the Terebinthus or the turpentine tree, which possesses strong healing virtues. It is rendered, “ῥητίνη — rosin,” by the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Arabic; and “cera — wax,” by the Syriac. “Healer,” or physician, is rendered “ἰατρὸς — healer,” by the Septuagint, and “medicus,” by the Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic. It appears that Gilead was not only celebrated for its healing gum, but also for its medical men.

   The balm was the word of God, and the healer who applied it was the prophet or the teacher.

   Perhaps the most literal rendering of the first two lines is the following, and the most suitable to express astonishment, —

   The balm, not in Gilead!:
Verily, a healer, not there!

   — Ed.
Afterwards follows —


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