14. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?
14. Ar relinquet e rupe agri nivem Libani? an relinquentur aquae alienae et frigidae fluentes?
15. Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burnt incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up.
15. Quia oblitus est mei populus meus, frustra suffitum faciunt (vel, adolent,) dum corruere eos fecerunt (copula enim explicitive accipitur, vel causaliter) in viis suis (vel, ipsorum,) semitis saeculi, ut ambularent per semitas viam non calcatam (quamquam
As I have just said, God here enhances the sin of the people by a twofold comparison; for when one can draw water in his own field, and find there a spring, what folly will it be for him to run to a distance to seek water? And then, when water does not spring up near, but flows from a distance in a pure and cold stream, who will not be satisfied with such water? and if he seeks to find the spring, will not all laugh at such madness? Now God was like a living fountain, and at Jerusalem was the spring where the Jews might drink to their full; and God's blessings flowed also to them as it were through various channels, so that nothing was wanting to them. We then see that here is condemned a twofold madness in the people, that they despised God's kindness which was near at hand, as though one close to Mount Libanus refused its cold waters, or as though one would not draw water from a river without going to the spring-head. Since then God offered himself to them in every way, and presented his bounty to them, it was a madness extremely base and inexcusable to reject flowing waters and the fountain itself.
We now perceive the meaning of this passage. It is doubtless natural for all to be satisfied with present blessings, especially when nothing better can anywhere else be found. When one has a fountain in his own field, why should he go elsewhere to drink? This would be monstrous. Dost thou want water? God supplies thee with it; take it from thine own fountain. If one objects and says, "That fountain I dislike; I wish to know whether better waters can be found at a distance." This we see is a proof of brutal stupidity; for if the water which flows he cold and pure, and he dislikes it, because he wishes to go to the spring, he shews his own folly, whoever he may be. If, for instance, any one at this day would not drink the waters of the Rhone, which flows by here, and would not taste of the springs, but would run to the fountain and spring-head of the Rhone, would he not deserve to perish through thirst? God then shews that the Jews were so void of all sense and reason, that they ought to have been deemed detestable by all; and therefore in the application, when he says,
He again calls them
He afterwards adds, In vain2
This truth is often referred to by the Prophets, and ought to be well known by the godly; yet we see how difficult it is to bring the world to believe it. Hypocrisy ever prevails, and men think that they perform all that is required of them when some kind of religion appears among them. But God, as we have before seen, has regard to the heart itself or integrity; yet this is what the world cannot comprehend. Therefore the Prophets do not without reason so often inculcate the truth, that inward piety, connected with integrity of heart, alone pleases God.
He afterwards mentions the cause -- that they
But we hence learn how frivolous is the excuse of those who say, that they follow what they have learnt from the fathers, and what has been delivered to them from the ancients, and received by universal consent; for God here declares, that the destruction of the people would follow, because they suffered themselves to be deceived by false prophets.
As to the words
This brevity may be deemed obscure; I will therefore give a more explicit explanation. The Prophet calls those the ways of the people in which they had been fully taught; and this took away every color of defense; for the people could not object and say that they had been deceived, as though they had not known what was right; for they had not only been taught, but had also been led as it were by the hand, so that the way of the law ought to have been well known by them. Then he adds,
But it may be here asked, whether this change in itself ought to be condemned, since we despise antiquity, or rather regard what is right? To this the easy reply is, that the Prophet speaks here in the name of God' therefore this principle ought to be maintained, that there is no right way but what God himself has pointed out. Had any one else come and boasted antiquity, the Prophet would have laughed to scorn such boasting, and why? for what antiquity can be in men who vanish away? and when we count many ages, there is nothing constant and sure among men. It ought then to be noticed, that God. was the author of that way which the Prophet complains had been forsaken by the people, how the things which follow harmonize together, that the people had strayed from the way which they had long kept; for the Jews, as it has been said, had not followed any men, but God himself, who had been pleased to stretch forth his hand to them and to shew them the sure way of salvation; and we must also observe what sort of people were the fathers, even such as had followed God, and when they had such examples, they ought to have been more and more stimulated to imitate them.
It was therefore an inexcusable wickedness to forsake a way found good by long experience,
1 The general drift of this verse is no doubt given here, though the version seems not to be correct. The early versions and the Targum are all different, and hardly present any meaning at all. The versions of Blayney and Horsley are not much better. Venema appears to have given the most satisfactory version, which is as follows, --
Will any one forsake for a rock A field irrigated by the snow of Libanus? Shall for strange waters Be abandoned cold streams?
To make the two clauses alike, the preposition
Shall it be forsaken, rather than the rock, The field watered by the snow of Libanus? Shall they be abandoned rather than strange waters, The cooling streams (or rills)?
The change proposed in the last verb is unnecessary, as both verbs are nearly of the same meaning. The second line literally rendered is, "The field of the snow of Libanus;" so called as being irrigated by the melted snow from that mountain. To prefer a rocky dry ground for such a field, symbolized the conduct of the Jews, as well as to prefer waters brought by pipes from a distance to refreshing streams. -- Ed.
2 So the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Targum, but the Syriac and Arabic are like our version, "to vanity," the idol being often so called: and this is the most suitable rendering here, as it shews the object of their worship when they forsook Jehovah. The word may be rendered "to a lie," or, what is meant, "to a false god." See Romans 1:25. -- Ed.
3 I propose the following rendering of the verse, --
For forsaken me have my people; To vanity they burn incense, And make them stumble in their ways, The paths of ages; So that they walk in the tracks Of a way not prepared; literally, not cast up or raised.
That "they" were the false priests is evident, because to burn incense was the office of the priests. To stumble in God's ways is to transgress his law; and these "ways" were "the paths of ages," or, of antiquity, or, "ancient paths," as they had for ages been made known to the people.-- Ed.
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