16. Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.
16. Tunc loqunti sunt timentes Iehovam quisque ad socium suum; et attendit Iehova, et audivit; et scriptus est liber memoriae (vel, memorialis) coram facie ejus pro timentibus Iehovam, et cogitantibus de nomine ejus, (vel, in pretio habentibus nomen ejus.)
In this verse the Prophet tells us that his doctrine had not been without fruit, for the faithful had been stimulated, so that they animated one another, and thus restored each other to a right course. They who explain the words -- that the faithful spoke, indefinitely, pervert the meaning of the Prophet, and they also suppress the particle
We are hence taught that we are by nature slothful and tardy, until God as it were plucks our ears; there is therefore need of warnings and stimulants. But let us also learn to attend to what is taught, lest it should become frigid to us. We ought at the same time to observe, that all were not moved by the Prophet's exhortations to repent, but those who feared God: the greater part no doubt securely went on in their vices, and even openly derided the Prophet's teaching. As then the truth profited only those who feared God, let us not wonder that it is despised at this day by the people in general; for it is given but to a few to obey God's word; and the conversion of the heart is the peculiar gift of the Holy Spirit. There is therefore no reason for pious teachers to despond, when they do not see their doctrine received everywhere and by all, of when they see that but a few make any progress in it; but let them be content, when the Lord blesses their labor and renders it profitable and fruitful to some, however small their number may be.
But the Prophet not only says that individuals were Touched with repentance, but also that they
He says that Jehovah
Our Prophet wished especially to show, that God
The Prophet at the same time seems to point it out as something miraculous, that there were found then among the people any who were yet capable of being healed, since so much wickedness had prevailed among the people, nay, had become hardened, as we have seen, to an extreme obstinacy; for there was nothing sound or upright either among the priests or the common people. As then they had long indulged with loose reins in all kinds of wickedness, it was incredible, that any could be converted, or that any piety and fear of God could be found remaining among them. This then is the reason why the Prophet says, that God
With regard to the participle
1 Or, "talked together:" the verb is in Niphal, as we find it in verse 13. The good as well as the wicked talked together, mutually conversed, or talked often. The Targum renders it, "They multiplied speech;" our version introduces "often." Newcome give the simple word, "spake;" and Henderson has "conversed." If the verb in Niphal has a frequentative meaning, and not a reciprocal, our version is right, "spake often." Then it should be so rendered in verse 13. It is to be observed that what the ungodly often spoke or said, is mentioned, but not the frequent or the mutual converse of the godly. Jerome imagines it to have been a defense of God's dealings with them.
The words which follow, "Every one to his neighbor," seem to favor the opinion that speaking "often" is the real meaning of the verb here used; for the fact of speaking "together" is conveyed in these words: and yet speaking "together" is more suitable in the thirteenth verse.--Ed.
3 This latter meaning is the true one. The word never means what is understood by "thinking on" a thing; but to count, to reckon, and hence to contrive, to plan, to devise, and hence also to make an account of, to value, to regard. To make an account of and thus to regard and reverence, is its meaning here. The whole verse may be thus rendered,--
16. Then spake they often who feared Jehovah, Every one to his neighbor; And hearken did Jehovah and hear; And there was written a book of remembrance before him, For those who feared Jehovah, Yea, for those who regarded his name.
The last two lines describe the same persons,--they feared God and valued and regarded his name or his authority.--Ed.
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