16. Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord.
16. Superbia cordis tui, terror tuus, decepit to, quae habitas in fissuris petrae (vel, rupis,) quae occupas altitudinem collis (id est, collium, mutatio est numeri, sicur etiam in elo, ham significat rupes, plurali numero;) quamvis extollas tanquam aquila nidum tuum, illinc detraham to (descendere faciam, ad verbum,) dicit Jehova.
Some render the first words thus, "Thine idol hath deceived thee;" and others, "Thy folly hath deceived thee." The verb has, indeed, this meaning, though there is a different reading, for some put a point over the right side of the letter, and others on the left. But the most suitable meaning is thus conveyed, Deceived thee has thy terror, the pride of thy heart. Those who render the first word "idol," consider that superstition is referred to, that the false confidence which the Edomites placed in their idols had deceived them. But this seems to be a forced explanation. Why others have rendered the word "folly," I know not. The word properly means terror. The verb Plp, pelets, means to terrify, and from this the noun is derived. And when the word is taken for an idol, it is so metaphorically, because idols terrify men, or because a terrible end awaits their worshippers. But I retain the proper meaning of the word. At the same time terror here is to be taken actively, because the Idumeans were a terror to other nations, and were thus blinded with pride on account of their conceit as to their power.
And the following words are explanatory, the pride of thy heart; for they who despise others fill themselves with empty pride, and thus elevate their own hearts. As then the Idumeans had gained for themselves the repute of being a warlike people, the terror entertained for them inflated their own hearts with pride: but the Prophet says, that they were deceived, as they arrogated to themselves too much power. At the same time he continues the subject which I have stated, as though he had said, "How comes it, that as God has designed thee to be contemptible, thou takest to thyself such authority among the nations? Thou fightest against nature, for thou hast hitherto in vain terrified thy neighbors: hence it is, that thou art swollen with pride; but it is a mere delusion; thou art greatly mistaken, and deceivest thyself in thus thinking of thy strength, since thy condition ought, on the contrary, to make thee humble." We now see how well the whole passage runs, and how aptly the words agree together. He then says that it was a foolish confidence, by which the people of Edom, whom God had made contemptible, were deceived.
He now adds, by way of concession, Thou who dwellest in the fissures of rocks, and occupiest the heights of mountains. In these words the Prophet concedes something to the Idumeans; but he afterwards adds, that the fortresses, by which they thought themselves to be protected, would come to nothing; though thou raisest high thy nest as the eagle, thence will I, says God, draw thee down. We hence see that the Prophet concedes to the Idumeans some reason for boasting on account of their mountains, because they presented on every side a defense against enemies; and yet he shews that all this would be useless to them; for he says, though thou raisest high thy nest as the eagle, that is, though thou ascendest, as they commonly say, above the very clouds, thence will I draw thee down.
Now this passage teaches us first, that all who trust in their own earthly defences deceive themselves; and, secondly, that all who arrogate to themselves more than what is just and right, contend, as it were, against God, and that it cannot, therefore, be otherwise but that God will lay them prostrate. We are then taught by this doctrine to cultivate humility. Humility has its roots fixed deeply within; so that the state of those who willingly submit themselves, becomes firm and permanent; for the root, which appears not on the surface, sustains the tree. So also that humility, which is not known by men, is our real and solid prop and support. Whosoever takes the wing and flies, and seeks, through his own presumption, to raise up himself, provokes God as it were designedly: and here the Prophet shews what end awaits all those who thus raise themselves on high, seeking to set their nest on a summit like the eagle; for God will draw them down and lay them prostrate, as he did to the Idumeans. It now follows --