3. Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.
3. Et tu fili hominis, fac1 tibi vasa transmigrationis: et transmigra interdiu in oculis ipsorum: migrabis autem a loco tuo ad locum alium in oculis ipsorum, si forte videant, quia domus rebellis strut.
Now God instructs his Prophet in what he wishes him to do: he orders him to take vessels for journeying, that is, he orders him to prepare for a long journey, even for exile: for exile is the subject here. But he who is compelled to leave home to go into a foreign land, collects whatever he can carry with him, namely, his clothes, shoes, hat, scrip, and staff, and other things of that kind, if he have even a little money. Therefore the Prophet is advised to gird himself for his journey, by which he represents the character of those who were just about to be dragged into exile. For this reason he is ordered to prepare for himself vessels for traveling. The Latins call garments as well as other goods "vessels:" whence proverbially to collect goods is to remove baggage in a military phrase, or to take away one's stuff. But he orders this to be done in the day-time, that the Israelites may see what is done.
Then the Prophet is ordered to remove from one place to another. As I have said, this might appear puerile. Cicero describes those legal fictions,2 how those who went to law about a field when called upon to plead, had, so to speak, an imaginary way of going to see it; for since it was too troublesome to the judge to mount his horse and ride over various fields, they retained an ancient and customary ceremony: the plaintiff said, the land which you say is yours, I claim for myself and say is mine, and if you wish to dispute with me legally, I summon you to the spot: the defendant replied, as you summon me there, I in return answer your summons. The judge then arose and moved from his place, and so an imaginary action took place. Cicero derides that by-play, and says it is unworthy of the gravity of a court of law. But such was the action of the Prophet; he took his hat, cloak, staff, and shoes, and other things, and changed his place as if he were moving. But he only went a short distance. But God previously had said, that he was dealing with a perverse nation, and so had need of such assistances. And we must remark the particle, if by chance they should see, because they are a rebellious house. For here God as it were suspends the event of his teaching, when he says, if perhaps they should hear. And the reason is added, because the hardness of the people was so great, that they could scarcely be turned to obedience by any discourses or signs. Meanwhile let us learn from this place, that we must still go on, although success does not answer to our labor, when we spend our strength for God. And this instruction is peculiarly necessary, because when God imposes on us any duty, we dispute with ourselves as to its result, and thus all energy flags, because we are seldom willing to put forth a finger unless we perceive a prosperous issue. Because, therefore, we are always too attentive to the fruit of our labor, hence this passage should be diligently regarded, when God sends his Prophet and yet adds, if by chance they should listen. Whatever may be the event, we must obey God; if our labor should not profit, yet God wishes us to obey him. It follows --
1 Or, "prepare." -- Calvin.
2 Orat. pro Murcena, sect. 12:page 129; and Edit. Lond. 1819, tom. 2:page 760. It is needless to quote the passage, as Calvin's allusion to it is sufficienfiy copious, and the reader will readily perceive how our own obsolete law forms are open to the same objection, and illustrate the text in a similar way.
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