9. And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
9. Et dixit Jehova ad me, inventa est conspiratio (ad verbum, colligatio; nam rsq significat proprie ligare vel connectere, sed metaphorica est significatio cum transfertur ad conspirationem) in viro (hoc est, in viris) Jehudah et in civibus Jerusalem.
10. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant, which I made with their fathers.
10. Reversi sunt ad iniquitates patrum suorum superiorum (qui ante fuerunt) qui noluerunt audire verba mea; et ipsi ambularunt post deos alienos, ut servirent ipsis; dissoluerunt domus Israel et domus Jehudah foedus meum, quod pepigeram cum patribus ipsorum.
Here the Prophet joins closer battle with the men of his age, and says, that they were worse than their fathers; for this is the meaning of the word, banding or joining together. For when the Israelites concurred in a body in ungodly superstitions, it was more excusable at the beginning, for they had not yet struck deep roots in true religion; but when God by his prophets had endeavored many times, and in various ways, to restore them to the right way, and when his diligence and assiduous efforts had proved fruitless, it was an evidence of confirmed and hopeless obstinacy. He then says, that this had been discovered; for this is what he means by saying, that it had been found out. This verb is often used in Scripture in another sense, but it means here the same, as though he had said, that the conspiracy of the people had been discovered or proved, as it is said of thieves when found out, that they are caught in the very act. So God says here, that it was no matter of dispute whether the people had designedly and from sheer wickedness perverted his true and lawful worship; the conspiracy,1 he says, is sufficiently notorious.
We then understand the meaning of the Prophet to be, -- that not a part of the people was implicated in impiety, but that all, from the least to the greatest, were together defiled, and that this was done, not by some foolish impulse of the moment, but designedly, for they banded together; and further, that this was sufficiently evident, so that they could no longer contend as to the fact, for their wickedness was sufficiently manifest.
And he says between Judah and Israel.2 There is here implied a sharp reproof; for we know that these two kingdoms had not only entertained a hidden grudge, but fiercely contended with one another, Since then the discord had been such between the ten tribes and the tribe of Judah, that it was as it were an insane hatred, so that they wished wholly to destroy one another, for the Jews sent for the Egyptians when the Israelites had called!o arms the Syrians and the Assyrians for the destruction of Judah. Since then they so inimically treated one another for so many ages, what did this now mean? What a monstrous thing it was, that they conspired together to subvert the worship of God, to overturn everything true in religion, and to set up their own idols! We now then perceive the meaning of the Prophet; he intimates, that they had in all other things been enemies, and that they only united in this one thing, that is, in carrying on war against God, in subverting his worship, and rendering void his law. We hence see what the Spirit of God had in view in saying, that a conspiracy was found out; which was, that the Prophet might not use many words, as though the matter was doubtful! God then bids him positively to declare this fact, like at scribe who records the sentence of a judge; and thus God shews that he dealt with the Jews, as men deal with those who are condemned.
He also adds, that they had returned, etc. He shews for what purpose they had conspired, even to return to the vices of their fathers, who had been before them. Some render the word "ancestors;" but the meaning of the Prophet is not thus sufficiently expressed, for what he means is, that the Israelites had been refractory from the very beginning, so that God could never subdue their wayward dispositions. It must however be observed, that he speaks not of the most ancient, as Mynsrh, erashnim are the ancient who were before them;3 but as there had been a continued succession or series of impiety, the Prophet calls them here, the former fathers, who had first begun to shake off the yoke of God even to that day. And he again mentions what we have before noticed, that they were unwining to hear. Though ignorance does not wholly clear or absolve us, it yet extenuates a crime; but God shews that the Israelites had been disobedient from the beginning. Though he had by Moses sufficiently taught them, we yet find that they often rose up against Moses. If we inquire of their origin, it appears to have been marked with resolute impiety; they were unwining to obey God.
He then adds, that they walked after alien gods that they might serve them. There is ever an implied contrast between God and idols. God had given them evidences enough of his power and glory, and we may justly say, that he had sufficiently proved himself to he the only true God. How then was it that the; Israelites had given the preference to fictitious gods? Doubtless no unwining error could have been pretended. We hence see that they had rejected the true God and wilfully followed their own devices. He then says, that they might serve them. But God had already bound them to himself, as he had redeemed them; when, therefore, they devoted themselves to alien gods, was not their ingratitude thus most fully proved?
He at length subjoins, by way of explanation, Therefore the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dissolved my covenant. He confirms what I have just said, -- that they had not erred because the way was unknown, but because they were refractory and untameable in their disposition, and would not bear to hear God, thought he kindly shewed to them what they were to do. But the word covenant expresses more than this, -- that God had not only delivered them his precepts by Moses, but had also adopted them as his own people, and at the same time pledged his faith to them,
"I shall be your God, be ye my people," (Jeremiah 11:4)
Since then God had so kindly allured them to himself, how monstrous was their rebellion, When they refused to hear his voice! With reference to this the word tyrb, berit, is used; for God had not only delivered to them a rule of life, but also adopted them as his people, that they might be obedient to him.
By saying that he made a covenant with their fathers, he refers to that time when he brought the people out of Egypt, for then was the race of Abraham united. They were indeed twelve distinct tribes; but there was one head over the people, there was one priesthood, and they formed afterwards one kingdom. God then shews, that though the ten tribes made for themselves in after time another king, and the tribe of Judah was then divided, and there were in this separation some special causes of enmity, they yet had always been of the same disposition, and proved how like their fathers they were, as though he i had said, "They were formerly one people, they are now two, yet they have conspired together; their iniquity is the same, in this they are united; and there is among them a binding together." It follows --
10. They have turned to the iniquities of their fathers -- The first who refused to hearken to my words; And they have walked after alien gods to serve them: Annulled have the house of Israel and the house of Judah My covenant, which I made with their fathers.
The word for "iniquities" means perversions, distortions, the turning of things to purposes not intended. These are the kinds of iniquities which are meant. Perverting the truth rather than denying or renouncing it, had ever been the sin of the Jews. Instead of worshipping God himself, they worshipped him by means of idols, and through the mediation of inferior gods. This was the perversion. Alien gods were mediators; hence they never renounced God's worship. But God deemed this as an annulment of his covenant, by which they were required to worship him alone. -- Ed.