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Ezekiel 16:56-57

56. For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride,

56. Et non fuit Sodoma soror tua in sermonem in ore tuo in die superbiarum tuarum, 148148     Or, “loftiness.” — Calvin.

57. Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about.

57. Priusquam detegeretur malitia tua secundum tempus probri filiarum Syriae, et omnium quae in circuitu ejus sunt filiarum Philistim, quae spreverunt 149149     Or, “have seized.” — Calvin. te a circuitu.


God here blames the Jews because they did not attend to that remarkable judgment which he had executed against the Sodomites: for they had always before their eyes what ought to retain them in the fear of God; for that was a formidable spectacle, as it is this day. They knew that region to have been like the paradise of God, as it is called by Moses. (Genesis 13:10.) Since, then, the fertility and pleasantness of the place was so great, to see there the lake of sulphur and bitumen was sufficient material for instructing them, unless they had been utterly sluggish. But the Prophet says, that there was no mention of Sodom while the Jews lived happily; and we know that it was a great crime not to consider God’s judgments, as we read in Isaiah. (Isaiah 5:12.) Among other things he says, that the Jews and Israelites were so corrupt that they did not regard God’s works: hence as it is a useful exercise to consider God’s judgments, yea, this is the chief prudence of the faithful; so, on the other hand, those who shut their eyes to the manifest judgments of God are like the brutes. And yet this is a very common fault, especially when the circumstance here expressed is added, that profane men do not attend to God’s operations through being intoxicated by prosperity; for in this passage we have two ways of explaining the word גאוניך, gaonik, which the Prophet uses for pride or loftiness. Sometimes the word גאון, gaon, is taken in a bad sense, as well as for sublimity or any high degree of honor. Besides, the Prophet’s meaning is clear, while things proceeded according to the Jews desires they were not anxious about rendering an account before God; nay, they passed by with their eyes shut that memorable example which God designed for them in Sodom and the neighboring cities. Therefore we should learn from this passage, when God indulges us, and treats us softly and delicately, that we must always recall his judgments to mind, that we may be restrained from all licentiousness, lest prosperity should incite us to self-indulgence; for such remembrance is most needful. For we know that nothing is more dangerous than to exult like ferocious horses when God feeds us in abundance. Hence the remedy must be taken in time that we may receive instruction from the examples of punishment which we read in Scripture, or in other histories, or such as we witness with our own eyes. He adds, before thy wickedness was discovered. Here Ezekiel says that their wickedness was discovered, when it appeared that God was hostile to their sins; because even then, when their sins could be pointed out with the finger as notorious throughout Jerusalem, yet the people gloried in them; just as if an immodest woman, who is the town’s talk, is saluted honorably by all because she has many admirers to worship and adore her, and so sets herself above every chase matron: but if they all reject her, and she is reduced to want, and to foul and disgraceful ulcers, then all her enormities are made evident. This is the effect of which the Prophet speaks: before, says he, thy enormities were discovered. How so? God, indeed, constantly proclaimed them ‘by his prophets, and the wickedness of the people was open enough; but then they also remained as if buried: for they proudly rejected all the prophetic warnings, and were even restive against God himself: thus they lay hid under their own hiding-places. But when they became a laughingstock they were spoiled by their neighbors, and suffered the extremity of reproach, and then it was apparent that God had rejected them; for their crimes were detected by punishments, since neither reproofs nor threats profited them in any way.

Besides, interpreters explain this of the slaughter which the Jews suffered in the time of Ahaz. (2 Kings 16.) For then the King of Syria laid waste almost the whole region, and the citizens of Jerusalem were grievously fined. The Philistines took advantage of this occasion and made an irruption: they think, therefore, that the time is pointed out when the King of Syria made war upon the Israelites, and violently assaulted Judea. But I know not whether the Prophet looks to the future, as I said yesterday; for he speaks of punishment at hand, just as if God was fulfilling what he had already determined. I am inclined to think that the beginning and the end ought to be united. Hence God begins to disclose the wickedness of the people from the time when the burning consumed their neighbors till it reached themselves; for the slaughter of the tribes of Israel brought upon them many losses, as we know well enough. But God seems to embrace their ultimate destruction, which was now at hand. Hence he says, that they had been, and would be, a laughingstock to the daughters of Syria, and the nations all around, and also to the daughters of the Philistines. But because they were spoiled by the Philistines, who took their cities, as the sacred narrative informs us, it is very suitable thus to explain the word שאט, shat, to despise, in this passage. But because it signifies to despise, and the Prophet spoke of reproach, he may repeat the same thing of the Philistines which he had a little before said of the Syrians. It follows —

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