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Ezekiel 16:18-19

18. And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.

18. Et tulisti 9191     Or, “has taken.” — Calvin. vestes tuas discolores, 9292     Or, “variated.” — Calvin. et operuisti eos 9393     Namely, “the false gods or lovers.” — Calvin. et oleum meum, et suffitum meum dedisti coram ipsis. 9494     That is, “has offered to them.” — Calvin.

19. My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour: and thus it was, saith the Lord GOD.

19. Et. panem meum quem dederam tibi, similam, et oleum, et mel quibus te cibaveram 9595     Or, “had nourished.” — Calvin. etiam dedisti coram ipsis in odorem quietis: et ita fuit, dicit Dominator Iehovah.


Here God complains that the Jews turned their abundance of all things to perverse worship: for, as a husband who indulges his wife freely supplies all her wants, so a woman who is immodest was what she has received from her husband, and bestows it on adulterers; so also the Jews were prodigal in the worship of idols, and wasted upon them the blessings which God had bestowed upon them. Ezekiel, therefore, now follows up this sentiment. He says that they took those variegated garments, of which we spoke yesterday, and covered their idols; just as if an adulteress were to clothe her paramours in the very garments which she had received from her husband’s liberality: you have covered them, he says. He afterwards adds, you have offered my oil and incense. Here he speaks more clearly, although he does not depart far from the figure, for they were accustomed to use oil in sacrifices; and incense was used by all nations when they wished to propitiate their deities. There is no doubt that the unbelievers imitated the holy fathers, but sinfully, because they did not consider the right end. We know that the fathers used oil in their sacrifices, (Leviticus 2:1, and often elsewhere;) we know that incense was prescribed by God’s law, and it was used promiscuously by all the nations, but without reason and judgment. So now God complains that they made incense of his herbs, and an offering of the oil which he had bestowed upon the Jews. He then adds the same of bread, and fine flour, oil, and honey. We said yesterday that by these words ample and delicate food was intended; for by the figure, a part for the whole, fine flour comprehends the best and sweetest bread, as well as other viands. Oil and honey are added. It is then just as if the Prophet had said that the Jews overflowed with all luxuries, yet consumed them badly. But this was a mockery not. to be borne, when the Jews, after being enriched by God’s beneficence, rashly threw it all away, and not only so, but adorned their false gods to the dishonor of God himself, when they ought to have offered to him what they wasted upon idols. For this reason he calls it his own bread, and explains the passage in this sense, that the Jews could neither ascribe to themselves the abundance of their possessions, nor boast in the fruitfulness of the soil; for all these things flowed from the mere benevolence of God. This ingratitude, then, was too foul — to bestow upon idols what God had given for a far different purpose. I, says he, have fed thee He shows the legitimate use of such manifold abundance. Since they abounded in wheat, whence they obtained fine flour, and were stuffed full of other delicacies, they thought to be elevated towards God, and to exercise themselves in the duties of gratitude; but they abused that abundance in adorning false deities.

You have offered it to them, therefore, for a savor of peace. Rest no doubt signifies appeasing here, as frequently with Moses, though others translate “for an odor of sweetness;” but they do not sufficiently express the meaning of Moses; for he means that when God is appeased there is peace between himself and men. (Leviticus 3:9, 13, 17, and often.) There is no doubt that “the odor of quiet” signifies a just expiation, by which God is appeased, so that he receives men into favor. This is everywhere said of the sacrifices of the law, since there was no other means by which men could be reconciled to God, unless by offering sacrifices according to his command. Now the Prophet transfers this ironically to their impious worship, when he says that they offered to idols all the delicacies by which God nourishes his people. To what purpose? for a sweet savor; that is, that they may be propitious to you. But it was ridiculous to wish to appease gods of stone and wood and silver. We see then how Ezekiel reproves the people’s folly, when he says, that they offered both fine flour and other things to their idols to reconcile themselves to them. Now the crime is increased since the Jews did not recognize that singular blessing of being so reconciled to God, that he no longer imputed their sins to them. Woe indeed to us if we are destitute of this remedy! because we constantly commit various faults, and are thus subject to God’s judgments. Unless, then, God receives us into favor, we see that nothing can be more miserable for us. But he has prescribed a fixed and easy rule by which he will be appeased, namely, by sacrifices — I am speaking of the fathers who lived under the law: for we know that we of this day must flee to the only sacrifice of Christ, which the sacrifices of the law shadowed forth. Since, therefore, the Jews could return to God’s favor, and bury all their sins, and redeem themselves from the curse, how great was their madness in willingly depriving themselves of so inestimable a boon! Hence the Prophet now rebukes this folly, when he says that they propitiated their idols that they might appease them. He concludes at length, and it was so, says the Lord Jehovah. Here God takes away all occasion for their turning aside, when he says it was so; for we know that men always have various pretenses by which they lay the blame on some other parties, or soften it off, or cover it with some disguise. But God here says that there is no occasion for dispute, since the matter is perfectly plain. We see, then, that this word is used emphatically, when he says I am the Lord; for, if Ezekiel had announced it, they would not have listened to him; but God himself comes before them, and cuts off all excuses from the Jews. It follows —

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