8. Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord God.
8. Gladium timuistis, et gladium adducam super vos, dicit Dominator lehovah.
9. And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you.
9. Et ejiciam vos e medio ejus, et tradam vos in manum extraneorum, et exercebo in vos judicia.
10. Ye shall fail by the sword; I will judge you in. the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
10. Et gladio cadetis: ad terminum Israel judicabo vos, et scietis quod ego sim Iehovah.
11. This city shall not be your caldron, neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel.
11. Ipsa non erit vobis in ollam: et vos non eritis1 in medio ejus in carnem: in termino Israel judicabo vos.
We ought to join these verses together, because the Prophet treats the same thing in many words. First he denounces that they should perish by the sword since they feared the sword. By these words he admonishes them, that even if God should draw them out of the city, yet Jeremiah's prophecy would prove true, since the Chaldeans would consume them as if the pot was boiling on the fire. Lastly, he shows how frivolous was their cavil when they said, "if we are flesh, we shall remain in the caldron." But the Prophet shows that they must not cavil like children with God, because when he showed the caldron to his servant Jeremiah, he meant nothing else than that the Jews should perish, since the Chaldeans would come to consume them. But they had purposely perverted the Prophet's sense, and thought themselves clever and shrewd when they corrupted the heavenly doctrine. First of all the Prophet says, ye have feared the sword, and ye shall fall by the sword: he afterwards adds the manner: I, says he, will bring the sword upon you, which ye feared: he says, I will draw you out from the midst of it. He declares the manner: namely, that he will bring them into an open plain, that he may more easily slay them there. If any should object, that this was not seething them in the city, the answer is easy: that God did not restrict his wroth to one kind of punishment, when he thus spoke by Jeremiah. For we know that the Prophets set before us God's judgments in various ways, and thus use various figures. Since therefore the Prophets do not always teach in the same manner, it is not surprising if, when he shortly shows that God's wrath was near the Jews, he used that simile: ye shall fall, says he, by the sword, and in the borders of Israel shall I judge you.
Here he clearly expresses what I lately touched upon. It was indeed God's judgment, when the Jews were drawn from the city in which they thought they had a quiet nest: for when they were violently dragged into exile, God exercised his judgments upon them: and from the time when he deprived them of their country, then he already began to be their judge. But here he begins to treat of a severer judgment. Although God had begun to chastise the Jews when he expelled them from the city, yet he treated them more severely in the boundaries of Israel; because when they came in sight of the king of Babylon, then the king saw his
slain: then he himself was rendered blind and dragged into Chaldea, and all the nobles slain. (2 Kings 25; Jeremiah 39.) Hence we may gather that the people's blood was poured out without discrimination. Now therefore we understand what God means when he threatens to judge them in the borders of Israel, that is without their country. Lastly, he here denounces a double penalty, first because God would east them out of Jerusalem in which they delighted, and in which they said that they should dwell so long that exile would be their first punishment: then he adds, that he was not content with exile, but that a heavier punishment was at hand, when they should be cast out of their country, and the land should cast; them forth as a stench which it cannot bear. I will judge you therefore in the borders of Israel: that is, beyond the holy land: for since one curse has already occurred in exile, still a harder and more formidable revenge will await; you. Now he adds, ye shall know that I am Jehovah.
Doubtless Ezekiel reproves the sloth which was the cause of such great contumacy: for they had never dared to contend so perseveringly with God, unless their minds had been stupified; for were we to reflect that we are striving with God, horror would immediately seize upon us; for who labors under such madness as to dare to contend with God his maker? This torpor, therefore, Ezekiel now obliquely reproves, when he says that the Jews would know too late that they were dealing with God. Although therefore they sinned through ignorance, it does not follow that they were without, excuse, for whence arose their ignorance except from being inattentive to God? It sprang first from carelessness: then that carelessness and security produced contempt, and contempt sprang from their depraved lust of sinning. Since therefore they determined to give themselves up to all manner of sinning, they put away as far as possible all teaching: nay they willingly endeavored to stupify their own consciences, and thus we see that depraved desire impelled them to contempt, and contempt begat in them security, in which at length this ignorance plunged them. Since therefore at the time it did not come into their mind to contend with God, this does not extenuate their fault, because, as I have said, they had stupified themselves with determined and spontaneous wickedness.
Meanwhile, it is by no means doubtful that God always pricked them that they might feel themselves sinners, but the Prophet here speaks of that knowledge which is called experimental. For the impious are said to know God when, being struck by his hand, they unwillingly acknowledge his power: because whether they will or not they feel him to be their judge. But this knowledge does not profit them; nay even increases their destruction. But we understand the Prophet's meaning, that the Jews were rebellious and despised God's servants: because they pretended that they had to do only with men, and covered themselves with darkness, lest they should behold the light which was offered to their eyes. God pronounces that they should know at length with whom they contended, as Zechariah says, they shall see whom they have pierced; (Zechariah 12:10;) that is, they shall know that it is I whom they have wounded, when they so proudly despised my servants, and abjured all confidence in my teaching. Hence also we gather that the minds of the impious were so confused, that seeing they did not see; for when they experience God to be their judge, they are compelled in reality to confess that they feel his hand: yet they remain stupid, because they do not profit, as the Prophet had just now said, -- ye feared the sword. But they were careless, as we saw, and despised all threats. Of what kind, then, is this fear which is remarked upon by the Prophet? that of the impious forsooth, who while they make for themselves blandishments, and fancy that they have made a covenant with death, as is said in Isaiah, (Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 48:22; and Isaiah 57:21,) and promise themselves freedom from punishment, even when a scourge is passing through the land, yet tremble and are always ill-at-ease, because they have no peace, as it is said elsewhere. In fine, we see the impious always remaining careless and stupid: though they are careless, yet they tremble and are tortured with secret impiety, since the severity of God urges them on. At length he concludes, Jerusalem should not be their caldron, but he would punish them in the border of Israel. But I have sufficiently explained this clause. It follows --
1 The negative must be understood. -- Calvin.
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