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Ibid.-the judgment of JEHOVAH] His law, or system of laws; that rule of moral conduct which God prescribed for their observance; and which he furnished them with the means of knowing as certainly, as those birds of passage are taught by what we call natural instinct all that is convenient for them. See Isa. i. 3.
8. Surely the false pen of scribes hath converted these into falsehood] The nature of the English language, which usually requires the nominative to precede the verb, will not easily admit the hemistichs to proceed. here in the same order as in the original- should not be rendered, behold, but these, namely, the light of natural understanding, and the assistance of a revealed law; on both which the Jews valued themselves. But these advantages, they are told, were in a great measure lost to them through the false glosses of those that took upon them to expound the sacred text. These are understood to have been called Scribes, Writers, from their usually delivering their instructions in writing. And hence the propagation of error by their means is ascribed to their "false pen."
10. Their fields to those that shall enter into possession] w properly signifies to possess that which was the property of others, and therefore implies a dispossession of the former owners. One MS. with the LXX. and Syr. place the conjunction before '.
Ibid. from the prophet-] Twelve MSS. and two Editions with the LXX. and Syr. read, with the conjunction, as in the parallel place, Ch. vi. 13. Also six MSS. and one Edition read for ha in the first instance; and in the second, seven MSS. and two more in the margin, do the same.
11. And they have healed] Four MSS. and the oldest Edition of the Bible read here, as Ch. vi. 14.
12. Were they ashamed, &c.] See the note on Ch. vi. 15.
to אסף I take--- אסף אסיפם [---I will utterly consume them .13
be one of those words where the has been put by mistake for the Characteristic, of which instances have been already given in the Note on Ch. iv. 19. We should therefore read on the infinitive Hiphil from 10; from whence ox, the first person future of the same conjugation.--The failing of grapes on the vine, and of figs on the figtree, and the withering of the leaf, I conceive metaphorically to signify, that the nation should be deprived of all their real advantages, and also of what was ornamental, by a severe dispensation of God's providence.
14.----let us wait in silence] implies forbearing to act, as well as to speak. The prophet therefore hereby seems to advise not to take measures of resistance, as they would be ineffectually employed against what God had determined.
Ibid.---hemlock] So our translators have rendered w, Hos. x. 4. Amos vi. 12. And it is evident from Deut. xxix. 18. that some herb or plant is meant by it of a malignant or nauseous kind at least, being there joined with wormwood, and in the margin of our Bibles explain
ed to be a very poisonful herb." In like manner see Ch. ix. 15. xxiii, 15. In Ps. lxix. 21. which is justly considered as a prophecy of our Saviour's sufferings, it is said, "They gave me w to eat ;" which the LXX have rendered xoan, gall. And accordingly it is recorded in the History, Matt. xxvii. 34. "They gave him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall," ožos μera xoλns. But in the parallel passage, Mark xv. 23. it is said to be topupyopeɛvov aivov, "wine mingled with myrrh," a very bitter ingredient. From whence I am induced to think that xoan, and perhaps w&, may be used as a general name for whatever is exceedingly bitter; and consequently, where the sense requires it, may be put specially for any bitter herb or plant, the infusion of which may
מי ראש be called
15. We look for peace] All the ancient versions have rendered
p by a verb in the first person plur. of the preter tense, both here and Ch. xiv. 19. But this is clearly no literal version; for is the infinitive mood, which is often changed into, or used for a noun: so that up literally signifies "a looking for peace." But as the preceding words, NT, ought, I am persuaded, to be taken in connection with the following context, rather than with that which goes before them, we may from thence be justified in supplying " est nobis expectatio pacis ; and the whole sentence will express the state of anxiety and terror into which the people were fallen in consequence of their sins. See the parallel passage, Ch. xiv. 19.
,and so render, We look for peace ,קוה לשלום to לנו
16. From Dan-] Grotius observes after Jerome, that Nebuchadnezzar, having subdued Phoenicia, passed through the tribe of Dan in his way to Jerusalem. When the enemy therefore was advanced so near, it was time for the people of Judah to take the alarm, and to provide for their own security.
Ibid. his steeds-]
8-This word is used for war horses," Judg. v. 22. Ch. xlvii. 3. See also note on Ch. 1, 11.
17.---which cannot be charmed] That some persons possessed the faculty of rendering serpents harmless, is a fact too well attested by historians and travellers to admit of contradiction. But by what means this effect was produced, is not quite so clear. The Scripture word wn seems to be used in conformity to the vulgar opinion, ascribing it to the power of certain cabalistical words and incantations muttered through the teeth. But this we have reason to believe was in general no other than a mist cast over the eyes of the common people by those who were in possession of physical discoveries, in order to procure more veneration and respect. Pliny speaks of certain herbs, which being carried about prevented the bite of serpents. Hist. Nat. Lib. xx. § 15. Lib. xxii. § 25. Others tell surprising, but not altogether incredible stories of the affinity and influence of musical sounds. See Bochart De sacr. animal. Par. II. Lib. iii. Cap. 6. Shaw's Travels, p. 429. and Sir John Chardin's MS. cited by Harmer, Ch. viii. Obs. 14. In this same MS. the author remarks, that "those that know how to tame serpents by their charms, are wont commonly to break out their teeth; and
supposes this to be alluded to, Ps. lviii. 6. "Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth."--But whatever were the methods commonly practised, the enemies of the Jews are here compared to such serpents as were not to be mollified nor disarmed by any of those means; "they shall bite you, saith JEHOVAH.”
18.-past my remedying] nan. This I take to be an improper junction of two words, naan, which are so distinguished in four MSS. and one Edition. Another MS. also reads nap. The first of these words, an, is a negative particle; and 'n', or written at full length, na, is a verb in the infinitive mood from a, to heal, with the affix. The LXX and Arabic versions favour this emendation.
19. Behold the voice, &c.] The prophet anticipates in his imagination the captivity of his countrymen in Babylon, "a far country ;" and represents them there as asking with a mixture of grief and astonishment, if there was no such Being as JEHOVAH, who presided in Sion, that he so neglected his people, and suffered them to continue in such a wretched plight. Upon this complaint of theirs God justly breaks in with a question on his part; and demands why, if they acknowledged such a protector as himself, they had deserted his service, and by going over to idols, with which they had no natural connexion, had forfeited all title to his favour. The people then proceed with their complaint in the next verse, setting forth that though much time had elapsed, they nevertheless seemed to be still as far from deliverance as
Ibid. And by their foreign vanities] The LXX. Syr, and Vulg. add the conjunction 1, and read amaı.
22. Is there no balm in Gilead?] Balm or Balsam is used with us as a common name for many of those oily resinous substances, which flow spontaneously or by incision from certain trees or plants, and are of considerable use in medicine and surgery. It serves therefore very properly to express the Hebrew word, which the LXX. have rendered garn, and the ancients have interpreted resin indiscriminately. But Kimchi and some of the moderns have understood by that particular species, heretofore properly called balsamum or opobalsamum, and now distinguished by the name of Balsamum Judaicum, or "Balm of Gilead;" being that which is so much celebrated by Pliny, Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, Tacitus, Justin, and others, for its costliness, its medicinal virtues, and for being the product of Judea only, and of a particular spot there; and which Josephus attributes to the neighbourhood of Jericho ; but says, that the tree was according to tradition originally brought by the queen of Sheba to king Solomon out of Arabia Felix, the country that now principally supplies the demand for that valuable drug. See Joseph. Ant. Lib. iv. c. 6. Lib. viii. c. 6. De Bell. Jud. Lib. i. c. 6. (Edit. Hudson.) On the other hand, Bochart strongly contends, that could not possibly mean that balsam, as Gilead was very far from the spot which produced it, and none of the trees grew on that side of the Jordan; and besides, is spoken of as brought
from Gilead (Gen. xxxvii. 25.) long before the balsam tree had been planted in any part of Judea. He therefore considers it as no other than the resin drawn from the Terebinthus, or turpentine tree, which abounds sufficiently in those parts. Bochart De sacr. animal. Par. I. Lib. ii. Cap. 51. And this for all that appears may have been the case; the resin or balm of the Terebinthus, being well known to have healing virtues; which is at least sufficient to answer the design of the prophet's question on this occasion; which was metaphorically to ask, if there were no salutary means within reach, or none that knew how to apply them for the relief of his country from those miseries with which it was afflicted.
1. Oh that my head] All the Heb. MSS. and the generality of printed copies, reckon this as the 23d verse of Ch. viii. to which it properly belongs, being a continuation of the prophet's sympathetic wailing over his wretched country.
2. Oh that I had in the wilderness] These words are not spoken like the former by the prophet in his own person, but as coming immediately from the mouth of God; as appears from the close of ver. 3. "And me have they not known saith JEHOVAH." God wishes himself in a situation not to see the corrupt and profligate manners of his people, which are set forth at large, and for which he renews his denunciations of vengeance against them; v. 2--16. He summons the mourning women to bewail the calamities of the nation; v. 17-22. forbids setting any value on personal endowments, except the knowledge of God and his attributes only; v. 23, 24; and shews the punishment of the circumjacent nations, circumcised and uncircumcised, to be near at hand.
Ibid.-a traveller's lodge] Travellers in the East are not, nor ever were accommodated at inns on the road, after the manner of the European nations. In some places indeed there are large public buildings provided for their reception, which they call Caravanseras: but these afford merely a covering, being absolutely without furniture; and the traveller must carry his own provisions and necessaries along with him, or he will not find any. Nor are even these empty mansions always to be met with; so that if the weary traveller at night comes into a town, where there is no caravansera, or avdoxe, as it is called, Luk. x. 34. he must take up his lodging in the street, unless some charitable inhabitant will be pleased to receive him into his house; as we find, Judg. xix. 15. And if he passes through the desart, it is well for him if he can light upon a cave, or a hut, which some one before him may have erected for a temporary shelter. And this last is what I conceive to be here meant by ; a solitary and not very comfortable situation; but yet preferable to the chagrin of living continually in the society of men of profligate manners.
3.-like a bow; by falsehood] Instead of pwnup I propose to
read pwn up. The LXX, Chald. and Vulg. do not acknowledge the affix pronoun after nwp; and the ellipsis of 5, the particle of similitude, which is wanting before it, is very frequent; although it may very possibly have been dropt by accident here, on account of the similar sound of the following p. All the ancient versions express it. 4.-will go about to overreach]. See the note on Ch. vi. 28.
6. Through deceit have they refused to know me, saith JEHOVAH.] The knowledge of God, which is true religion, is incompatible with the habitual practice of any wickedness. And therefore it is natural enough for those, that are resolved at all events to abide in their evil courses, to endeavour, if possible, to divest themselves of all religious principles, which, if insufficient to restrain, will be sure at least to be very troublesome to them. For this cause they are ready to say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." Job xxi. 14.
7. Behold I will melt them, and try them] In these words God professes his intention of making use of the furnace of affliction, to try if he can by such means purge and purify the manners of his people; since all other had proved ineffectual for their amendment.
8.-the arrow of a murderer] The Masoretes here read inw, which is also the reading of twenty nine, perhaps thirty one, MSS. and three Editions. But I prefer mw, the received reading of the
Ibid. to fall upon him by surprize] 1278—insidiari ei.
10.--the pastures of the plain-] 27 is used for the plain or champain country, as opposed to the mountains. See Isa. lxiii. 13. Lam. iv. 19. Joel i. 19. ii. 22. It properly signifies a thinly inhabited country, used chiefly for sheepwalks; from the Chaldee signification of the word 27, to lead, as a shepherd doth his sheep.
Ibid.-are fled, are gone] The Syr. and Vulg. add the conjunction
.וילכו as if they had read ,,הלכו before
12. Who is the wise man, &c.] In this stile of interrogation the prophet indirectly declares himself to be the person qualified by divine inspiration to answer the question proposed in the latter part of the verse; which he accordingly does in the verses that follow.
14. the deities vich they learned from their fathers] The Vulg. seems to point out 12 1922 w as the true reading; but whether we follow that, or read as the text stands at present, the sense is the same.
As the heathen nations had their superior gods, dii majores, and others of a subordinate rank, so it has been observed by some learned writers, the Israelites seem in early times to have distinguished between the terms and bra, the former of which they appropriated to JEHOVAH, the supreme God, the maker of heaven and earth; and whilst they pretended to admit of no other gods, ns, but him, none of the same rank and order, they were willing to think themselves free M m