37. For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life; and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the Lord; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them.
37. Et expavefaciam Elam coram hostibus ipsorum, et coram his qui quaerunt animam ipsorum; et adducam super eos malum excandescentiae irae meae, dicit Jehova; et emittam post eos gladium usque dum consumpsero ipsos.
This verse especially shews that the Elamites were of the number of those who had inhumanly raged against God's people, for he did not without reason set forth the severity of his vengeance towards them. We must, then, bear in mind that the Elamites had been among the chief of God's enemies, or at least had been in no ordinary way cruel, delighting in slaughters. Hence he says, I will dismay, or affright, etc. The verb ttx, chetat, means to tear in pieces, or to break; it may therefore be rendered, "I will break." They who render it "I will lay prostrate," do not seem to know the difference between consternere, to lay prostrate, and consternare, to dismay. But the most suitable meaning is, that God would terrify the Elamites, for he had spoken before of their flight and exile.
He then mentions the cause of their dread, even because God would dismay them and frighten them before their enemies, so that they would not be able to stand before them. By these words he intimates, that however warlike the Elamites were, they yet would not stand their ground when it seemed good to God to render to them their reward, for in his hand are the hearts of men. Though, then, the Elamites were brave, yet the Prophet declares that they would be so faint-hearted at the sight of enemies, as immediately to flee away, even because God would terrify them.
He afterwards adds, I will send the sword after them. He means by this clause that he would not be content with terrifying them, but that when they began to flee, he would take them, because he would follow them, that is, urge on their enemies. And it ought ever to be observed, that what proceeds from men is ascribed to God, because men, however little they may think of it, yet execute his purpose, and are not only the proclaimers of his wrath, but also the instruments of it.
But he mentions the evil of the indignation of his wrath.1 This mode of speaking seems indeed harsh; but we have elsewhere stated, that the Prophets did not without reason join together these words, which appear somewhat harsh. Now wrath does not in a strict sense belong to God, for no feelings of this kind appertain to him. But when heat of wrath or indignation is mentioned, it doubles its vehemence in order to shake off the torpor of men, who would otherwise, as I lately said, be wholly insensible and indifferent. In short, by indignation the Prophet means no other thing than that vengeance is dreadful, and ought to astonish all mortals, so that they ought to fall down immediately as it were lifeless, as soon as they hear that God is displeased with them. In the meantime he shews what I have stated, that God was grievously offended with that people whom he threatens with extreme punishment, for he says, until I shall have consumed them. We see what I have said, that this people were not slightly chastised, according to what has been mentioned of others: it hence follows that their wickedness had been very atrocious. The two clauses seem however to be inconsistent, -- that God would scatter the Elamites through all nations, -- and that he would consume them, for dispersion and consumption widely differ. But consumption refers to the body of the nation or to its name, as though he had said, that no Elamites would survive, because they would be merged in other nations, and disappear like chaff. It follows --
And I will bring on them evil, The burning of my wrath, saith Jehovah.
The evil was the effect of God's high displeasure. -- Ed.