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Ezekiel 16:52

52. Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters.

52. Etiam tu porta probrum tuum quae judicasti sororem tuam in sceleribus tuis quibus impie egisti 144144     Or, “thou was abominable.” — Calvin. prae illis: justificatae sunt prae te. Atque etiam tu 145145     “Even thou.” — Calvin. pudefias, et porta probrum tuum, quod justificaveris sorores tuas.


Here at length God announces that he would punish the Jews according to their deserts. Hitherto he has recounted their crimes, as judges are accustomed, when they condemn criminals, to state the reasons which induce them to pass sentence: thus God shortly shows how wicked the Jews were. He now adds, that he would avenge them according to the magnitude of their crimes. For they would easily have swallowed all reproaches if the fear of punishment had not been infused into them. This second head, then, was necessary, lest they should Judea off with impunity, since they had surpassed both Sodom and Samaria. Do thou also bear thy disgrace who has judged thy sisters. Here Ezekiel seems to be at variance with himself, for he said just now and will repeat again shortly, that Jerusalem had justified her sisters; and this is contrary to judging. But he says that Samaria was condemned by the Jews; and the solution of this discrepancy is easy: for the Jews justified both the Israelites and the Sodomites, not by absolving them in any sentence passed on them, but because they were worthy of double condemnation; as Christ says, In the last day it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for the Jews. (Matthew 11:24.) But what is here said of condemnation has another meaning — that the Jews insulted over their brethren when they saw their kingdom destroyed, and the Israelites driven away from their land. Since they spoke so proudly of the slaughter of the ten tribes, as if innocent themselves, the Prophet here reproves them as if they judged them. And this is too common with all hypocrites, to inveigh hardly against all others, and to grow hot against them, as if in this way they covered their own crimes. And Paul reproves this vice in them, since they were supercilious censors of others, and at the same time committed every sin. Thinkest you, O man, says he, when you judge others, that God will not condemn thee; for who art you, O mortal man? Do you claim the office of a judge? (Romans 2:1-3.) Meanwhile will God be deprived of his rights, so as not to call thee to account for thy sins? Now, therefore, we understand the Prophet’s intention: for he exaggerates the crimes of the Jews when he pronounces sentence from on high against the ten tribes. Truly God blotted out this kingdom deservedly: for they were apostates; they had revolted from the family of David, and had violated that sacred unity by which God had bound to himself the whole family of Abraham. They had indeed just cause for speaking thus in condemning the Israelites; but when they were worse than them, what arrogance it was to harass their brethren, and to be blind to their own vices, nay, to grow utterly callous to them!

Thou, therefore, have judged thy sister, that is, you have taken God’s office upon thee, and yet you were worse than thy sister. Some explain it otherwise, that the Jews judged the ten tribes as long as they remained in a moderate degree worshipers of God: but they do not attend to the context. There is no doubt that the Prophet here rebukes the pride with which the Jews were puffed up, while they judged others severely and themselves leniently. They were justified in comparison with thee, says he: you, therefore, he repeats, blush and bear thy disgrace. This repetition is not superfluous, although in the former words there was nothing obscure, for it was difficult to persuade the Jews that they should suffer punishment, since God had borne with them so long. God’s goodness, then, which invited them to repentance, had rather hardened them, and had occasioned so much torpor that they thought themselves free from all danger. Hence this is the reason why the Prophet confirms his former teaching concerning the nearness of God’s vengeance against them. He says, when you have justified them. He here repeats the cause, and does so to restrain all pretenses by which the Jews could in any way protect themselves. For by one word he shows that they must perish, since they had justified those who had been treated so strictly. For it is by no means likely, that God should cease from his office of judge in one direction, since he had been so severe against the Sodomites, who were in some way excusable for their errors. This then is the reason why the Prophet affirms again that Sodom and Samaria were justified by the Jews. It follows —

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