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Lecture One Hundred and First

We stated yesterday what the Prophet meant by these words, that though the Assyrians were quiet and many, they would yet be suddenly cut off by the Lord. He clearly intimates, that the wicked are never so fortified by their own forces or by the help of others, but that the Lord can, without any difficulty, destroy them.

As to the words, some connect the particle כן, can with what he had said, “Though they be quiet,” and give this version, “Though they be quiet and in like manner many, that is, though they be secure, thinking themselves safe from all danger, and so also trust in their own number, yet they shall be removed.” But the repetition of כן in Hebrew is common; and the sentence may be thus explained, Though they be quiet, and how many soever they may be, yet thus shall they be removed. וכן וכן, ucan ucan, that is, “As they are many, so also the many shall be destroyed.” With regard to the verb גוזguz, (but some, though not correctly, derive it from גזז, gezaz,) I take it in the sense of removing from the middle, of destroying: it properly means in Hebrew to remove to a distance, though almost all interpreters render it, “They are shorn,” which ought rather to be, “They shall be shorn:” and both the verbs, גוז, guz as well as גזז, gizaz, mean to clip or shear: but as the other sense suits the form of the Prophet’s discourse better, I hesitate not thus to render it, “They shall be taken away,” or destroyed. What the Prophet next adds, ועבר, uober, and he shall pass, is applied by some to the angel, by whom the army of Sennacherib was destroyed. Others think that a temporary pestilence is meant; as though he had said, that it would only pass through. But the Prophet seems to refer to a former clause, where he said, that God would suddenly destroy the Assyrians as it were with a sudden and unexpected deluge. This, then, is the most suitable meaning, that however much the Assyrians excelled in number of men and in strength, they would yet be suddenly destroyed; for the Lord would pass through, that is, the Lord would by one onset reduce them to nothing. 219219     The best and the most literal version of these two lines, with the exception of the last word, is that of Dr. Wheeler, as given by Newcome,
   Though they are at peace, and also mighty,
Still shall they be cut off and pass away.

   The last verb is in the singular number, ועבד, “and he shall pass through” or away, that is, the wicked counselor mentioned in the preceding verse. Newcome’s own version is that of new text, which he has himself formed, from a mere hint derived from the Septuagint. Henderson’s version is the following, —

   Though they are complete and so very numerous,
Yet in this state they shall be cut off,
And he shall pass away.

   The word שלמים means, no doubt, entire, complete, perfect, as well as to be at peace, secure, quiet; and may be referred, as the author says, to the complete condition of the Assyrian army: but what seems to be intended is the character of the nation. — Ed.

Then it follows, Though (and, literally) I have afflicted thee, yet afflict thee will I no more. But this sentence must be thus rendered, ‘Though thee have I afflicted, I will not afflict thee any more.’ The Prophet meets a doubt, which might have laid hold on the perplexed minds of the faithful; for they saw that God had been hitherto angry with them. They might then have succumbed under their griefs had it not been added, that they had indeed been afflicted for a time, but that God would now put an end to his severity, for he would no longer afflict them. It is indeed certain, that they were often afflicted afterwards; but this ought to be confined to what the Assyrians had done; for we know that our Prophet directed his predictions chiefly against that monarchy: and then the monarchy of Babylon succeeded; but it was necessary that Nineveh should be first subverted, and that the government should be transferred to the Chaldeans, that the Israelites as well as the Jews might know, that that monarchy had been overthrown, because it rebelled against God himself by distressing his own people.

We now then perceive the intention of the Prophet: after having threatened the Assyrians, he now turns his discourse to the Israelites, Though I have afflicted thee, I will no more afflict thee; that is, There is no reason for the faithful to despond, because they have been hitherto severely treated by God; let them on the contrary remembers that these scourges are temporary, and that God’s displeasure with his elect people and his Church is such that he observes moderation; for this must ever be fulfilled, —

‘In the moment of mine indignation I smote thee;
but I will show thee perpetual mercies,’ (Isaiah 54:8.)

This promise has been once given to the Church; and it is now in force, and will be in force to the end of the world. Thus we see that the Prophet obviated a doubt, lest the faithful should think that there was no hope for them, because they had found God so severe towards them; for he says that God was satisfied with the punishment which he had inflicted and that he would no longer afflict his people. It follows —

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