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Daniel 9:11

11. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

11. Et totus Israel transgressi sunt legem tuam, et defecerunt, 9090     Verbally, receded or declined. — Calvin. ne auscultarent voci tuae. Ideo, 9191     The copula here has a inferential force. — Calvin. effesa est super nos, 9292     Or, distilled; for נתק, nethak, has both meanings. — Calvin. maledicto, 9393     Some translate, “execration.” — Calvin. et jusjurandum, quod scriptum est in lege Mosis sevei Dei, quai peccavimus contra ipsum.


Daniel again confirms what I formerly said concerning the punishment being most justly inflicted upon the people. They had no cause for the slightest complaint of any excess of severity on the part of God. He now says, All Israel had sinned He does not enumerate the separate ranks of the people as he did before, but he pronounces all to be transgressors in one single word, as they had broken God’s law from the least to the greatest. He uses sometimes the second and sometimes the third person, as a mark of his vehemence and ardor, since Daniel now speaks for the whole world, and then prostrates himself before God, and prepares to approach his tribunal. It is just as if at one time he were to confess himself guilty before God and angels, and next to ascend a theater and testify to his own infamy and that of the whole people before all mankind. In revolting, he says, so as not to hear By these words Daniel expresses the determined obstinacy of the people, implying — this was not occasioned by either error or ignorance; nay, even sloth was not the cause of Israel’s willful blindness and inattention to God’s precepts, but was only the beginning of this act of rebellion. In revolting, therefore, so as not to hear thy voice We now understand the Prophet’s meaning. He was not content with the simple condemnation of the people, but he wished to mark distinctly the various forms of rebellion, to impress the Israelites with a further sense of the grievous manner in which they had provoked God’s wrath. Not only had they departed from the right course through negligence or folly, but they had knowingly transgressed God’s law. We must carefully notice this. Although hypocrites testify themselves to be prepared for obedience, if only they can be quite sure that God is speaking to them, yet they are certainly held back by some hidden depravity from coming openly to the light. And whenever God’s word is put before us, whoever does not prove himself of a docile disposition, even if he should swear a hundred times over that he is perplexed and must decline embracing the teaching proposed to him, because he is doubtful whether God speaks to him or not, he lies; and the truth of Daniel’s assertion will always be made clear; for all who do not hear God when he speaks to them are backsliders and inwardly perverse, and by the depravity of their nature place a veil before themselves which obscures their perceptions, and then their own minds prevent them from becoming obedient to God.

He next adds, For this cause the curse of which Moses had written is poured down upon us. By this circumstance he enlarges upon the people’s crime, because they had long ago been warned of the impending judgments, and yet they closed their eyes and despised both threats and instruction. This was the very height of wickedness; for the Israelites were intractable, although God stretched out his hand towards them, pointed out the way of safety, and taught them faithfully whatever was useful for them; but this only increased their perverseness, while they treated his threatenings as if utterly worthless. Besides this, they added contempt of his teaching to ridiculing his threats, as they thought either that God was deluding them when he announced by Moses his coming vengeance unless they obeyed his law, or else they imagined it all invented by Moses, and that God could not possibly execute his threats. Thus the people are convicted of desperate impiety, as they neither attended to the teaching of the Almighty nor believed in the authority of his threatenings. If a father threatens his son, or a master his servant, the vengeance will be just, as the comic poet says, Do not say you have not been warned. (Terence Ardria, Act 1, Scene 2.) As God had predicted for so many ages that the Israelites should not be unpunished if they transgressed the law, this proves how completely unmanageable they were. (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28.) And when he says the curse was poured out or distilled, he confesses how the wrath of God inundated the whole people like a deluge, although it was completely under control. For God had predicted what he intended to do by the mouth of Moses, and whoever reads those curses which Moses denounces against transgressors of the law, will confess them to be by no means immoderate. When, therefore, execution really occurs, must we not acknowledge the shining forth of God’s justice without the slightest possibility of blame? I have stated that the wordשבועה , shebugneh, is explained by some as an “oath,” and by others a “curse:” it properly means a curse, and is deduced from the word שבוע shebugn, which seems to be taken in an extraordinary sense, because this word properly means seven., and the word derived from it means to “swear,” through the practice of bringing forward a certain number of witnesses; and hence the noun means an oath. But because a curse is often interposed, and the swearer calls God to witness against himself if he fails to perform his verbal engagement, some interpreters elicit the sense of a curse being poured out. But there may be some change of construction here, and so I willingly interpret it. The curse and the oath, then, are poured out; that is, the curse which God has sanctioned by an oath, by a figure of speech well known to grammarians under the name of hypallage. The curse, therefore, was sworn by the mouth of God himself; and we know how threats cause more terror by being confirmed by an oath, just as God, on the other hand, adds strength to the promises of his favor.

He adds afterwards, Because we have acted wickedly against him By this expression, Daniel shortly but clearly affirms that the people have no cause for complaint, as their calamities were the result of neither accident nor chance. They might behold the very source of their evils in the law of God. Had there been no predictions of this kind, the Israelites might have doubted and even disputed with themselves, as to the origin and cause of their being enslaved by their enemies, and of their being cast out with the utmost contempt and cruelty into distant lands. They might then have inquired into the causes of their evils, as if they were entirely unknown. But when the law of Moses was before their eyes, and God had therein sworn that he would perform the very threatenings just as they had happened, no further doubt could possibly remain. This, then, is the summary of Daniel’s meaning; the very denunciation of these punishments was sufficient to condemn the Israelites, because their sins were brought home to them over and over again, when God fulfilled against them, what he had formerly predicted by his servant Moses. It follows, —

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