« PreviousContinue »
They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God; for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer; therefore they shall be holy.” In both instances we see, the prohibition of the law stands upon the same ground, though in different degrees. Both priests and people were consecrated and set apart for the worship of JEHOÙAH in a peculiar manner; and therefore neither the one nor the other were to admit of any thing that miglit derogate froin the external decency and comeliness of that service, which they were required to perform in the face of all mankind ; ,which a voluntary disfiguring of the human form in their own persons must unavoidably do.
Ibid.-Nor shall any one make himself bald for them] Cutting off the hair was a still more general practice among mankind as a token of mourning. See Bp. Lowth's Note on isa. xv. 2. Forster in his Observations, p. 560. speaks of “ the hair cut off, and thrown on the biei? at Otabeite. And at the Friendly Islands, it is expressly said, that “ cutting off the hair is one of their mourning ceremonies." Narrative of Cook's and Clark's Voyage ; Vol.i. p. 112. – This also was forbidden by the Mosaic law at the same time, and on the same principles as the foregoing one. The hair is the natural ornament of the head ; and the loss of it a considerable defect in the human figure. It was therefore not to be voluntarily assumed by those, whose profession obliged them to “ worship JEHOVAH in the beauty of holiness.” At what time the observance of the law in these particulars began to be relaxed, does not appear; but I do not recollect any traces of such customs among God's chosen people, earlier than those which are alluded to in the prophetical books, properly so called.
7. Neither shall men break bread among them] The translation in the text of our English Bibles, 6. Neither shall men tear themselves for them," seems not near so proper as that in the margin, “ break bread for them.” It would be an unmeaning repetition of what had been said in the foregoing verse, and by no means suitable to the latter clause of this. ' Besides, yo signifies not to tear, but 10 divide and distribute. So we read Isa. lviii. 7. gris 3873 079. “ to deal (or distribute) thy bread to the hungry." The LXX. and Vulgate seem indeed to have found bring "bread” in the text of their copies here ;
. . But as it is in a stile of conformity with the context, instead of parting with it, I am more apt to conclude, either that is has been lost out of the later MSS. by means of its great similarity to on, the next adjoining word; or that it was designedly omitted from the first by an Ellipsis very easy to be supplied.---As to the custom alluded to, Jerome iria forms us in his commentary on this place, that "it was usual to carry provisions to mourners, and to make an entertainment, which sort of feasts the Greeks call megides vee, and the Latins parentalia.” The ori. gin of which custom undoubtedly was, that the friends of the mourner, who came to comfort him (and that they often came in great numbers for that purpose, we may learn from John xi. 19.) easily concluding that a person so far swallowed up of grief, as even to forget his own
.להם is perhaps written for לחם
.and in one MS
bread, could hardly attend to the entertainment of so many guests, each i sent in his proportion of meat and drink, in hopes to prevail upon the mourner by their example and persuasions to partake of such refreshment, as might tend to recruit both his bodily strength and his spirits, To this custom Tobit refers, when among other good exhortations to his son, he directs him to 6
pour out his bread on the burial of the just." Tob. iv. 17. And such no doubt was the entertainment which Job's friends partook of, when they came “to eat bread with him," and for å farther consolation to his misfortunes, “ every man gave him a piece of money and an earring of gold,” Job xlii. ii. Sir John Chardin in one of his MSS. tells us, that “the oriental Christians still make banquets of the same kind, by a custom derived from the Jews; and that the provisions spoken of in this verse were such as were wont to be sent to the house of the deceased, where healths were also drunk to the survivors of the family, wishing that the dead may have been the victims for the sins of the family." These latter meant no doubt, or were taken from, the cup of consolations.“ The same," says he, “ with respect to eating, is practised among the Moors.” In like manner he explains (as many other commenlators have also done) “the bread of men'' mentioned Ezek. xxiv. 17. as signifying “the bread of others; the bread sent to mourners; the bread that the neighbours, friends and relations sent.” Harmer, Ch. vi. Obs. 55. How far the funeral entertainments among the Greeks and Romans corresponded with the beforementioned, I leave to be considered by those who are conversant in heathen antiquities. See in particular Homer's Iliad *. 29. D. 801.
10.-what is our iniquity, and what our sin] All the ancient verșions read 13999 and 137xon, as in the text at present; but thirty four MSS. and three Editions read in the plural 139378and thirty eight MSS. and one Edition 721780FT.
13. And there shall ye serve strange gods-] This is a prediction of what would happen to them in the course of their captivity ; but of their own seeking, not of God's appointment. Finding themselves cast out of the favour of their own God, and despairing of any
relief from that quarter, they would be tempted to put themselves under the protection of the gods of the country where they dwelt. See Deut. is. 28. xxviii. 36, 64. 1 Sam. xxvi. 19.
14. After this behold the days shall come] Mr Lowth supposes that ras sometimes signifies Nevertheless; and Noidius does the same. But both here, and Ch. xxiii. 7. Xxx. 16. xxxii. 36. and also Isa. xxx. 18. Hos. ii. 14. it seems more properly to signify, After this. § is used frequently to denote after a time or transaction ; as opin nyaw), “after seven days ;' Gen. vii. 10. Opi Bingw), “after two years" 2 Sam. xiii. 23, 70, "after the carrying into captivity;" Ezek.i. 2. no7), “after having murdered,” Ch. xli. 4. and therefore why
" after this?” Sce also Exod. xix. 1. Numb. i. 1. 1 Kings įü. 16, &c. It is obvious that this notice of a future restoration was here inserted, on purpose to guard the people during their exile from fal
.slhould be rendered משנה ראשונה
ling into idolatry through despair, by letting them see they had still a prospect of recovering God's wonted favour and protection.
Ibid. When it shall no more be said, As JEHOVAH liveth, who brought up, &c.] That is, the people in those days shall no more swear by JEHOVAH, as their deliverer from Egyptian bondage ; but as him, who had restored them from a much more calamitous situation, after they had been carried into captivity to Babylon, and dispersed through different countries. The latter deliverance would be so much more wonderful and important, as to swallow up all remembrance of the former.
16. Behold I will send for many fishers] The Masoretes for 1992 read Digiging, and so do seven MSS. and four Editions. By “ fishers" and " hunters” are probably meant the same enemies, who should take different methods one after another to destroy them; besieging them in their cities, and taking them like fish inclosed in a net; and afterwards pursuing the scattered parties from place to place, till they got them into their hands; so that one way or other none would be suffered to escape. Compare Isai. xxiv. 17, 18. where it is in like manner foretold, that those who escaped from one danger should fall by another.. 18. And I will requite in a double proportion--] So I think
Literally the words signify, “ the first time repeated.” And God assigns the reason why their punishment should be doubled; because the offence committed in their own persons was aggravated by the influence of their bad example, tending to diffuse the same impiety and wickedness throughout the land. Thus they became answerable for the sins of others together with their
own, and were therefore to receive double punishment. 19. O JEHOVAH, &c.] The prophet, shocked at the apostasy of Israel, and concerned for God's honour, looks forward to the time, when, as he predicts, even the Gentiles themselves shall become sensible of the absurdity of their hereditary idolatry, and be converted to the acknowledgment of the true God.
Ibid.-have falsely possessed vanity] sto signifies to be possessed of a property in any thing. And as JEHOVAH is said to be the portion" or “ inheritance of his people, who claimed him as their peculiar God; in like manner the heathen nations may be said to have had their
portion and inheritance in those idols, to whose protection they reconmended themselves. But these idols wereza 17, “ vanity," things of nought, mere creatures of the imagination, without real existence. Their possession therefore or inheritance in such things was a fiction only or false possession ; a title without a foundation. The next line expresses exactly the same sense in different words; and the following context argues conformably.
20. Shall man make gods for himself, &c.] This seems to be a reply from God, accounting for what was said before, that the heathens had no benefit from the objects in which they placed their religious confidence, by asking whether it was likely that men could create gods, giving them power and perfections which they had not in themselves.
21. Therefore behold I, instructing them at this time] The time alluded to is undoubtedly that, when the Gospel was to be preached to and embraced by the Gentiles; when God promises that he would make such a display of his mighty power, as should amply convince them of the truth of his existence and divinity. 6. They shall know that my
name is JEHOVAH :" a name which implies absolute and necessary existence, the real source and origin of all perfection; and they shall know it by the blessings which shall from my providence be derived to them.
C H A P. XVII,
In this Chapter the prophet describeth in the four first verses the attachment of the people of Judah to idolatry, and foretelleth the fatal consequences. He contrasteth the accursed condition of him that resteth his trust on man, with the blessedness of one that trusteth in God; and illustrates both by apt and lively comparisons ; v. 5.-8. He sheweth, that be the human heart ever so wily, God can detect, and will finally punish its double-dealing ; v. 9.-11. He acknowledgeth that sure salvation cometh from God, and from him only ; v. 12.14. And complaining of those that scoffed at his predictions, he prayeth for the divine countenance and support against them ; v. 15. -18.
The remaining part of the Chapter is taken up with a distinct pro. phecy, relative to the strict observance of the sabbath day; which the prophet was sent, most probably immediately after the delivery of the foregoing, to proclaim aloud in all the gates of Jerusalem, as a matter which concerned the conduct of each individual, and the general happiness of the whole.
1. The sin of Judah is written, &c.] Some commentators have understood these words in a literal sense, as if these idolaters had actually carried about them tablets hanging before the place of their hearts, on which, and on the horns of their altars, the name of their idol was in. scribed. But I think that “the pen of iron,” and “the diamond's point," might be sufficient to shew that the whole was spoken metaphorically, and meant to denote, that idolatry was indelibly fixed in their affections and memory, as much so, as if it had been engraved, with instruments capable of making the strongest and most durable impression, upon their heart, as upon a writing tablet, and upon their al. tars, so as to be for ever present before their eyes. And for a further proof of this, appeal is made ver. 2. to the behaviour of their children, equally attentive to and tenacious of the corrupt institutions which they had learned from the example of their parents. This was indeed inverting the rule which Moses had prescribed to them in order to secure the observance of God's law; and which is also couched in the like metapborical terms, Deut. xi. 18-20. “ Therefore shall ye lay up these my ; מזבחותיהס read מזבחותיכם the oldest Edition of the Bible
words in your heart, and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ·ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up; and thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates.” In the same stile Solomon enforces his exhortations, Prov. iii. 3.
“ Let not mercy and truth forsake thee; bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart." And again, Prov. vii. 3. speaking of his conimandments, says, “ Bind them about thy fingers ; wrile them upon the table of thine heart." Ibid.-of their altars-] Sixty one, perhaps sixty five MSS. and
, ; and forty nine, perhaps fifty three, MSS, read connais contractedly. I he Syr. Chald. Vulg. Arabic, and the Greek versions preserved in the Hexaplar, likewise render “ their," not " your, altars."
2.-- and upon the highest hill] Sixty two, perhaps sixty five MSS. and two Editions read on instead of by before yan.
The Syr. Chald. and Arab, also prefix the conjunction.
3. O my mountain, &c.] The ancient versions all connect the words 57912 1977, or whatever they read instead of them, with the preceding context. But it is manifest, that the text, as it stands at present, cannot be reconciled with any of their interpretations. Most of the modern commentators render as we find in our English Bible, “ O my mountain in the field;" although they differ in explaining what is meant thereby. Some understand mount Sion or Jerusalem ; others the temple. Michaelis paraphrases it thus, “ Jerusalem, which hast long been situate on my chosen mountain, and surrounded by a most fertile country, the land of Canaan.” But at the same time he cites Cocceius, who says, that the Jewish people are hereby enigmatically compared with the rest of the world, as a mountain situate in the midst of a level plain, and distinguished with a glory, which did not belong to the world in general. These explanations are ingenious ; but the general error seems to me to lie in not observing that its should be construed with thin, so as to denote substance in the field, as cattle, growing corn, &c. in contradistinction to genyy98, “thy stores,” laid up in granaries, &c. at home. 1977 then stands single, and may be understood of the Jewish nation; the punishment of which is denounced. Nations and princes of great power and eminence are figuratively called mountains in regard to their strength and elevation. See Ch. li. 25. Isai. xli. 15. Zech. iv. 7. Judah is therefore stiled God's mountain, as having been chosen by him, and thereby raised to a degree of elevation above all other people. See Ch. xxxi. 23.
3.-and all thy treasures] All the ancient versions for 32 réad 271, as it is found in no less than 193, perhaps 195, MSS. and three Editions.
Ibid. thy strong holds -] DR DURELL has the following Note on Deut. xxxiii. 29. Though nina generally denotes such high places