16. But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity.
The Prophet seems here to be at variance with himself, because he formerly pronounced them all devoted to destruction. How, then, does he now say that some should come hither and thither, to seek hiding-places in the mountains? But what seem at, variance easily agree, because by these words he means that the life of those who escaped should be more miserable than if they had perished by the sword, or had been consumed by pestilence and famine. And why so? They shall be, says he, in the mountains. By mountains he doubtless understands dry and desert places. But he who seeks hiding-places in the mountains is only anxious about preserving his life, since he expects not to live. So, therefore, the Prophet means, nothing can be more miserable than the exile of those who had escaped, because they would be in dry and desert places, like doves of the valleys, there they will not dare to cry out. He means, also, that they would be so timorous, that even in anxiety, want, and squalidness, and despair of all things, finally, in the heap of their miseries, they would groan as doves, and as doves of the valleys, that is, which hide themselves through fear, and dare not show themselves; unless, perhaps, the contrast increases the evil, as if he had said that they should be much more astonished, because the unaccustomed aspect of the place should strike them with greater fear. Now, therefore, we understand the Prophet's meaning -- if any should escape from the people, yet nothing else would happen through their flight, than that they should miserably protract their life in the greatest anxiety. For we know that this is the last solace in evils, when men complain freely, and unburden themselves by weeping and groaning. But when the wretched one dares not complain, he becomes as it were twice dead among the living. It follows --
1 That is, "those who are to escape of them shall escape." -- Calvin.
2 Or, "murmuring or shouting." -- Calvin.
3 That is, "each one." -- Calvin.
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