Lecture One Hundred and Forty-First
17. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered.
17. Propterea sic dicit Jehova, Deus exercituum, Deus Israel, Ecce ego adducam super Jehudah, et super incolas Jerusalem omne malum quod pronuntiavi contra cos; quia loquutus sum ad eos, et non audierunt; et vocavi eos et non responderunt.
The Prophet, after having shewn that the Jews were so condemned by the example of the Rechabites, that there was no defense for them, now adds, -- that as the word of God had been to them useless, it would now be efficacious against them. This is the purport of the verse.
I have spoken to them, says God; I will now speak to them no more, but I will speak against them, that is, I will command the Chaldeans, and they shall be my ministers and the executioners of my vengeance. We hence see the order which the Prophet has observed: he did not bring forward this final sentence, which is like a thunderbolt, until he had proved the Jews guilty. For this purpose was the comparison he made, when he said that the Rechabites had obeyed their father, and that the Jews had disregarded God's Law and all the warnings given by the Prophets. I will bring, he says, upon Judah, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, all the evil which I have spoken against them; for I have spoken to them, and they heard not.
Here the Prophet distinguishes between two sorts of speaking. For God had spoken to the Jews, but he had also spoken against them. Here are two prepositions, not very unlike, the one begins with an a aleph, and the other with e, oin. By the one the Prophet denotes doctrine, exhortations, and whatever may lead to repentance, so that men may either be recalled to their duty or retained in it. This, then, is one mode of speaking, that is, when God addresses us and invites us to himself. The other mode is that which refers to threatenings, that is, when God, after having found that he can do nothing by teaching, has recourse to threatenings, and shews what vengeance awaits us. This passage, then, is especially worthy of observation, because we hence learn, that when men reject the word of teaching, they cannot escape the other word, which denounces the judgment of God. Teaching appears useless when not received by men; but whosoever despises his word, will find at last, to his own ruin, that the denunciations by which God confirms and ratifies the authority of his word, cannot possibly be made void: as, then, they heard not the word which I had spoken to them, come upon them shall all the evils which I have pronounced against them.
By adding, I have called and they answered not, he amplifies the atrocity of their sin; for God had not simply shewn what was necessary for their salvation, but had also called them to himself, and had even loudly called them; but he spoke to the deaf, for they answered not. It follows, --