16. To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing: terrain every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head.
16. Ad ponendum terram eorum in vastitatem, (hoc est, ut ponam terram eorum in vastitatem.) in sibila perpetua; quisquis transibit per eam obstupescet et movebit caput.
The Prophet again denounces the punishment which they deserved, that desolation awaited the land. It would be, he says, their reward to have the land reduced to a solitude, and also to perpetual hissings. The word Mlwe oulam, which the Prophet had just used, is here also used, but in a different sense, for when he said, the paths of ages, he referred to past time, but now to a future time. As then the Jews had alienated themselves from the ways of ages, that is, from the eternal verity of God, so now he says, that their land would be for the hissings of ages, for the dreadful calamity now at hand would not be for a few years but to the end of the world.
And in the second clause he expresses more clearly what he meant by eternal hissings, that every one passing through it would be astonished and move or shake his head,1 as one does either in amazement, or in contempt, or in abhorrence; this kind of speaking often occurs in the Prophets. The land of Canaan, after having been given to the Jews, became as it were an extraordinary country, in which all kinds of opulence appeared, for God poured upon it the invaluable treasures of his bounty, so that the very sight of it filled all with admiration; on the other hand, it became the scene of horror and an object of hissing when God cursed it. A confirmation then follows --