1. The word of the Lord also came unto me, saying,
1. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me dicendo,
2. Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.
2. Fili hominis, in medio domus rebellis tu habitas, oculi illis ad videndum, et non vident: aures illis ad audiendum, et non audiunt: quia domus rebellis ipsi.1
Because God was about to give a command to his servant, he wished to inspire him with fortitude of mind, lest, when he saw that he was consuming his labor in vain, he should withdraw from his course. For we know how severe is that temptation to God's servants when they speak to the deaf, and not only is their doctrine rejected but even refused with ignominy. They think, therefore, that nothing is better than silence, because where their word is so despised it only exposes the name of God to the reproaches of the impious. Now then we understand for what purpose God admonishes his Prophet about the contumacy of the nation. The Prophet had tried enough, and more than enough, how unmanageable the Israelites were, but God confirms by his judgment what the Prophet had discovered sufficiently in practice. Then we must observe another reason, for God not only commanded his Prophet what to say, but he added an outward symbol, as we shall see. But the Prophet might object, that it would be ridiculous to take a staff, and scrip, and hat, as a traveler about to commence a journey. Nor is it doubtful that the Israelites derided through perverseness what he was doing, as a boyish amusement.
Lest, therefore, the Prophet should think what he was commanded to do absurd, God instructs him, and gives him the reason of his plan. He says, therefore, the house of Israel is rebellious, and then he expresses the greatness of their contumacy, namely, that they are deaf, though endued with ears: that they are blind, and yet do not want eyes. God here shows that the Israelites could not defend their error, as if they had sinned without consideration; but he assigns their neither hearing nor seeing to their obstinacy. And this must be diligently remarked, because hypocrites, when convicted, catch as much as possible at this excuse, that they fell through error or ignorance. But God on the contrary here pronounces that the Israelites were blind and deaf, and shows that their blindness was voluntary. When, therefore, unbelievers pretend that they have not been illuminated by the Lord, it may be conceded to them that they are blind and deaf: but we must often proceed beyond this, since their own obstinacy is the fountain of their blindness and deafness: and God blinds them, because they will not admit the light offered them, but stop their ears. In God's judgments, indeed, the causes do not always appear, for we sometimes see a whole nation Minded without any reason apparent to us; but as far as the ten tribes are concerned, there can be no excuse for their error, since they were brought up from childhood in God's law, so that their pride and contempt caused God to reject them. Hence they were so stupified that they neither saw with their eyes nor heard with their ears. And this the Prophet expresses significantly, they hear not, says he, since they are a rebellious house; he does not say, because their senses do not penetrate to the secrets of God, are not sufficiently acute, are not endued with such great prudence; but because they are a rebellious house, that is, because they have stupified themselves. Hence it happens that they neither hear nor see. It follows --
1 That is, "they are." -- Calvin.
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