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In this chapter, after a repetition of some laws against idolatry, and concerning keeping sabbaths, and reverencing the sanctuary of God, ( Leviticus 26:1,2); in order to encourage the Israelites to keep the various statutes and commandments in this book, and in the preceding, many promises are made of plenty, and peace, and safety from enemies, and of the presence of God with them, ( Leviticus 26:3-13); and on the contrary, to such as should despise and break his commandments, the most grievous things are threatened, as diseases of body, destruction by their enemies, barrenness and unfruitfulness of land, the sore judgments of wild beasts, famine, sword, and pestilence, ( Leviticus 26:14-39); and yet after all, when they should confess their sins, and were humbled for them, the Lord promises to remember the covenant he made with their ancestors, and would deal kindly with them, and not cast them away, and utterly destroy them, ( Leviticus 26:40-46).
Ver. 1 . Ye shall have no idols, or graven image , etc.] Some of the Jewish writers, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra, think this law against idolatry is mentioned on account of the Israelite sold to a stranger, spoken of in the latter part of the preceding chapter, lest he should be drawn into idolatry; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 25:48”); but this is rather mentioned as being a principal law, respecting the honour and glory of God, and the foundation of all religion and godliness, and the breach of it a capital crime, and which led on to other sins, and exposed to the displeasure and resentment of God, and brought on all the calamities after mentioned in this chapter. “Idols” here signify “things of nought”, as an idol is nothing in the world, ( Corinthians 8:4); and a “graven image”, any likeness of man or beast cut out of wood, or stone; and may include any molten image of gold, silver, or brass, and then engraven with a tool, as the golden calf was, ( Exodus 32:4): neither rear you up a standing image ; or pillar f901 ; an heap of rude stones, set up pillar, not bearing the likeness of any creature; otherwise graven and molten images were standing ones, but these were statues without any figure; such as the Arabians used to worship; the god Mars, worshipped in Arabia Petraea, was no other than a black stone four square, unformed, four feet high, and two broad, and was placed on a basis of gold f902 ; neither shall ye set up [any] image of stone in your land, to bow down unto ; any “figured stone”, as the Targum and Aben Ezra interpret it, which had figures and representations of creatures cut in it, in order to bow down unto and worship: the word has the signification of covering, as they cover a floor with a pavement of stones: for I [am] the Lord your God ; who is the alone object of religious worship and adoration.
Ver. 2 . Ye shall keep my sabbaths , etc.] The seventh day sabbaths, and the seventh year sabbaths; especially the former are meant, in which religious worship was given to the one true and living God, and therefore the observance of them is strictly enjoined; and hence this law follows closely upon the former, though Aben Ezra restrains it to the sabbatical years, or seventh year sabbaths, as he applies the sanctuary in the following clause to the jubilee year, which is said to be holy, ( Leviticus 26:12); supposing that this refers unto and stands in strict connection with the laws of the preceding chapter, concerning the sabbatical, ( Leviticus 25:1-7), and jubilee years, ( Leviticus 25:8-55): and reverence my sanctuary ; by attending in it, and on the worship in it, with reverence and godly fear, (see Leviticus 19:30); I [am] the Lord ; who had a right to such religious worship, and to command such things, in which he ought to be obeyed, his sabbaths kept, and sanctuary reverenced.
Ver. 3 . If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them .] Both moral, ceremonial, and judicial, which had been delivered unto them, and now completely recorded in this and the preceding book; for what follow in the two next are chiefly repetitions of what are contained in these.
Ver. 4 . Then I will give you rain in due season , etc.] The former and latter rain, in the two seasons of the year in which rain usually fell, and the Scriptures frequently speak of; and when the land of Israel, which required rain, not being watered with a river, as Egypt, was blessed with it; the one was at the sowing of their seed, or a little after it, and the other a little before harvest; and when it was had in those times it was had in due season, and hence the word is in the plural number, “your rains” f903 ; unless showers of rain are meant: to encourage to keep the commands of God, promises of many outward good things are made; and this is the first, being a principal blessing, and which only God, and not all the vanities of the Gentiles, could give: and the land shall yield her increase ; which is greatly owing to seasonable showers of rain, by which means the earth brings forth bread to the eater and seed to the sower, corn and grass for man and beast: and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit ; vines, olives, pomegranates, figs, etc. are meant, with which the land of Israel abounded, ( Deuteronomy 8:8).
Ver. 5 . And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time , etc.] Signifying that there should be such plentiful harvests of barley and wheat, the first of which began in March, as would employ them in threshing them out unto the time of vintage, which may be supposed to, be in the month of July; for on the twenty ninth of Sivan, which was about the middle of June, was the time of the first ripe grapes, as appears, (see Gill on “ Numbers 13:20”); and that they should have such quantities of grapes on their vines, as would employ them in gathering and pressing them until seedtime, which was usually in October, (see Amos 9:13); and ye shall eat your bread to the full ; which is put for all provisions; and the meaning is, they should have plenty of food, eat full meals, or however, what they ate, whether little or much, should be satisfying and refreshing to them, having it with a divine blessing: and dwell in your land safely ; would have no need to go out of it into other lands for the sake of food, and would be in no danger from enemies invading them and carrying off their substance; plenty without safety would not be so great a blessing as with it, since, though they had it, they might be deprived of it, wherefore security from enemies is promised.
Ver. 6 . And I will give peace in the land , etc.] Among yourselves, as Aben Ezra; that as safety from enemies is promised before, here it is assured they should be free from insurrections and from riots, broils, contentions, and civil wars among themselves: and ye shall lie down, and none shall make [you] afraid ; that is, lie down upon their beds, and sleep quietly and comfortably, and not be in any fear of thieves and robbers breaking in upon them, ( Psalm 3:5 4:8); and I will rid evil beasts out of the land : out of the land of Israel, as the Targum of Jonathan, not out of the world, such as lions, bears, wolves, etc. which were sometimes troublesome and mischievous in the land: neither shall the sword go through your land ; either the sword of the enemy, which if it entered should not be suffered to proceed, much less to pervade the land and destroy the inhabitants of it: so the Targum of Jonathan, “they that draw the sword shall not pass through your land,” or the sword of the Lord, that is, the pestilence, ( 1 Chronicles 21:12); as Ainsworth suggests; though the Jews commonly understand it of the sword of peace, as they call it, though that is of one that is not an enemy, but passes through one country to destroy another; which yet is distressing to the country he passes through, as in the case of Pharaoh Necho, whom Josiah went out to meet, ( 2 Chronicles 35:20); though, by what follows, it seems rather to be the first of these.
Ver. 7 . And ye shall chase your enemies , etc.] Who being overcome in battle, and put to the flight, should be pursued: and they shall fall before you by the sword ; not by the sword of one another, as the Midianites did, ( Judges 7:21,22), so Jarchi; but rather by the sword of the Israelites, for oftentimes multitudes of the enemy are killed in a pursuit.
Ver. 8 . And five of you shall chase an hundred , etc.] One man chase twenty; and an hundred of you put ten thousand to flight ; which, had it been in proportion to the other number, should have been two thousand, as in ( Deuteronomy 32:30); where there is a proportion observed; and Abendana observes, there are some that give the sense of it thus, an hundred of you, an hundred times five, that is, five hundred, and so it comes up to a right computation; but here it seems to be a certain number for an uncertain, and only a proverbial expression, signifying that a very few, under the blessing of divine Providence, should get the advantage over a large number, and oblige them to retire, and pursue them closely: instances we have of large bodies of the enemy being defeated by a small number of Israelites, ( Judges 7:21,22); and even many by a single person or two, ( 1 Samuel 14:13,14 2 Samuel 23:8-16); and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword ; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 26:7”).
Ver. 9 . For I will have respect unto you , etc.] Look at them with delight and pleasure, and with a careful eye on them, watch over them to do them good, and protect them from all evil; or turn himself to them from all others, having a particular regard for them and special care of them: and make you fruitful and multiply you ; increase their number, as he did in Egypt, even amidst all their afflictions; and much more might they expect this blessing in the land of Canaan, when settled there, which is the original blessing of mankind, (see Genesis 1:28 9:1); and establish my covenant with you ; not the new covenant spoken of in ( Jeremiah 31:31); as Jarchi and other Jewish writers suggest; for that was not to take place but in future time, under the Gospel dispensation; but rather the covenant made with them at Sinai, though perhaps it chiefly respects the covenant made with their ancestors concerning multiplication of their seed as the stars of heaven and the sand of the sea, ( Genesis 15:5 22:17), since it follows upon the promise of an increase of them.
Ver. 10 . And ye shall eat old store , etc.] What is very old, corn of three years old, as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it; such plenty should they have that it would be so long consuming: and bring forth the old because of the new ; out of their barns and granaries, to make room for the new, which they should have great quantities of, and scarce know where to bestow them; and therefore should empty their treasures and garners of the old, and fill them with new; or they should bring them forth out of their barns into their houses, to make use of themselves, or into their markets to expose to sale, being under no temptation to withhold against a time of scarcity in order to make more of it, (see Proverbs 11:26); now all these temporal blessings promised may be emblems of spiritual things, and might be so understood by such who were spiritually enlightened; as of the rain of divine grace, and the blessings of it, and of the doctrines of the Gospel, sometimes compared thereunto, ( Deuteronomy 32:2 Isaiah 54:10,11); and of great fruitfulness in grace and good works, and of internal peace in the minds of good men, and of their safety and security from spiritual enemies; of fulness of spiritual provisions, even of things new and old, and which are laid up for them, ( Song of Solomon 7:13); thus promises of a spiritual nature more manifestly follow.
Ver. 11 . And I will set my tabernacle amongst you , etc.] Which God had directed them to make, and they had made, and also erected; but here he promises to fix and establish it among them, that so it might continue as a place for the public worship of him, and where he would take up his residence, and grant them his presence; so the Targum of Jonathan, “I will put the Shechinah of my glory among you:” and my soul shall not abhor you ; though in themselves, and because of their sins, loathsome and abominable; the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan are, “my Word shall not abhor you;” and the whole may have respect to Christ, the Word made flesh, and tabernacling among them; the tabernacle being a type and emblem of the human nature of Christ, in which the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and is the true tabernacle which God pitched and not man, ( John 1:14 Colossians 1:9 Hebrews 8:2).
Ver. 12 . And I will walk among you , etc.] As they journeyed from place to place, he walked among them, in the tabernacle built for him, (see Samuel 7:6); it may be expressive of the familiarity and communion which the Lord grants to his people, in and through Christ: and will be your God ; to provide for them, and supply them with all the blessings of his goodness, both in providence and grace; and to protect and defend them against all their enemies, temporal and spiritual: and ye shall be my people ; appear to be a special and peculiar people of his, chosen, redeemed, and sanctified by him, and to whom he bore a special love, and took special care of; (see 2 Corinthians 6:16); the Targum of Jonathan of the whole is, “I will make the glory of my Shechinah dwell among you, and my Word shall be unto you for God the Redeemer, and ye shall be to my name for a people of Holy Ones.”
Ver. 13 . I [am] the Lord your Lord, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt , etc.] Who, having done that, was able to fulfil the above promises; and which may be considered as an earnest and pledge of them, as well as be a motive to the Israelites, and an obligation upon them to obey the commandments of God, and walk in his statutes: that ye should not be their bondmen ; this was the end of their being brought out of Egypt, that they might be no longer in a state of bondage to the Egyptians, nor to any other, but to serve the Lord their God, by whom they were delivered; as those who are redeemed by Christ from worse than Egyptian bondage, from sin, Satan, and the law, are redeemed, that they might not be the servants of any, but be a peculiar people, zealous of good works to serve the Lord Christ: and I have broken the bands of your yoke ; which fastened it on their shoulders, that is, set them at full liberty, from the yoke of all their enemies, particularly the Egyptians, who made their lives bitter in hard bondage, making the yoke of it heavy upon them; as Christ has broken the yoke of spiritual enemies from off the shoulders and necks of his people, ( Isaiah 10:27); and made you go upright ; who before stooped under the yoke, as well as were of dejected countenances, but now were made to walk in an erect stature, as the Targum of Jonathan, and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra, or in liberty, as Onkelos; (see Galatians 5:1); and with heads lift up and countenances cheerful.
Ver. 14 . But if ye will not hearken unto me , etc.] To his commandments, as the rule of their duty, and to his promises, as an encouragement to it, or to his prophets and ministers, explaining and enforcing his law, and exhorting to a cheerful obedience to it; so the Targum of Jonathan, “if ye will not hearken to the doctrine of them that teach my laws;” which was the sin of the Jews in later times, for which captivity and other calamities befell them, ( Jeremiah 7:25 25:3,4 44:5); and will not do all these commandments ; which he had delivered to them by Moses, whether moral, ceremonial, or judicial, recorded in this book and in the preceding; even all of them were to be respected, attended to, and performed, for the law curses everyone that does not do all things it requires, ( Galatians 3:10).
Ver. 15 . And if ye shall despise my statutes , etc.] Which is an aggravated sin; to be negligent hearers of the commands of God is bad, not to be doers of them worse, but to treat them with contempt is worse still: or if your soul abhor my judgments : which is worst of all, to despise them as if not wisely or righteously made is a dreadful reflection upon the Maker of them; but to abhor them as bad things, not fit to be regarded, but to be had in the utmost detestation, is shocking impiety: so that ye will not do all my commandments ; nor any of them, but are set against them, and determined and resolved on the contrary: [but] that ye break my covenant ; the covenant made with them at Sinai, when they promised, on their part, that they would hearken and be obedient, ( Exodus 24:7).
Ver. 16 . I also will do this unto you , etc.] Henceforward follow threatenings of dreadful evils to the transgressors and despisers of the commandments of God, which thus begin: I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart ; some, as Aben Ezra observes, take these to design what may affect the seed sown and the increase of it, such as blasting and mildew, because it follows: “ye shall sow in vain”; but no doubt diseases of the body are intended; for what we translate “terror” does not signify terror of mind, but some sudden, hasty, terrible distemper; perhaps the pestilence, as the Targum of Jonathan; some have thought of the falling sickness, as Bishop Patrick, because the word has the signification of haste and precipitance; and the second is a disease well known among us, and so called from its wasting and consuming nature; Jarchi interprets it of a disease which swells the flesh, either fills it with tumours and pustules, the Septuagint calls it the itch; or with wind or water, which has led some to think of the dropsy; and the last of them seems to be rightly rendered a burning ague or fever, though the Septuagint takes it for the jaundice, but that seems not to be so threatening, terrible, and dangerous, as what may be here supposed: now these diseases and all others are by the appointment of God, they come and go by his order, and while they continue have the power over persons, nor can they rid themselves of them at pleasure; and these have such an effect on persons seized by them, as to cause dimness of sight, a hollowness of their eyes, which sink into the head, as well as fill the heart with grief and sorrow; either through present pains and agonies, or in a view of future judgment and wrath to come: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it ; either eat it up for forage before it is ripe, or, if ripe and gathered in the barn, should come and besiege their cities and plunder their granaries.
Ver. 17 . And I will set my face against you , etc.] Exert his power, and stir up his wrath and indignation against them, as enemies of his, to cut them off; (see Psalm 34:16); which is the reverse of having respect to them, ( Leviticus 26:9); and ye shall be slain before your enemies ; as they were sometimes by the Philistines and others: and they that hate you shall reign over you ; as did the Chaldeans and Babylonians; (see <19A641> Psalm 106:41); and ye shall flee when none pursueth you ; of such pusillanimous spirits should they be, and filled with such dread and terror of their enemies, so contrary from what is promised them on their obedience, ( Leviticus 26:8).
Ver. 18 . And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me , etc.] If such corrections by diseases of body, and by giving them up into the hands of their enemies, should be ineffectual to reform them, and bring them to obedience to the statutes and commandments of God, but should continue in their disobedience to him, and rebellion against him: then I will punish you seven times more for your sins ; that is, abundantly more, with sorer punishments, and these more frequently repeated.
Ver. 19 . And I will break the pride of your power , etc.] Which the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi interpret of the sanctuary, which they were proud of, trusted in, and boasted of; but was broke or destroyed, first by Nebuchadnezzar, then by the Romans: but it may rather signify their country, the glory of all lands for its fruitfulness, which for their sins should become barren, as follows; or the multitude of their forces, and the strength of their mighty men of war, in which they put their confidence; it may take in everything, civil and ecclesiastical, they prided themselves with, and had their dependence on, thinking themselves safe on account of them, but should be broken to shivers, and be of no service to them: and I will make your heaven as iron ; so that neither dew nor rain shall descend from thence to make the earth fruitful; but, on the contrary, an heat should be reflected, which would parch it, and make it barren: and your earth as brass ; that the seed could not be cast into it, nor anything spring out of it, for the service of man and beast, so that a famine must unavoidably follow.
Ver. 20 . And your strength shall be spent in vain , etc.] In endeavouring to till the ground, to plough, or sow, or to dig about the vines or olives, and prune them; for your land shall not yield its increase ; produce corn, and bring forth grass, the one for the use of men, the other for the use of the cattle, and therefore both must starve: neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits ; such as vines, olives, figs, pomegranates, etc. which were very plentiful in the land of Judea, and on which they much lived, and on which their more comfortable subsistence at least depended, (see Habakkuk 3:17); all this is the reverse of ( Leviticus 26:4,5,10).
Ver. 21 . And if ye walk contrary unto me , etc.] To his mind and will, to his laws, commands, and ordinances, showing no regard unto them by a walk and conversation agreeably to them, but neglecting and breaking them continually; or by chance, as the Targum of Jonathan, not with any intention and design to obey the Lord, and to honour and glorify him, but in a careless and indifferent manner, having no regard to the law of God, only now and then, as it happens, act according to it, but having no concern for the honour and glory of God: and will not hearken unto me ; to his voice in his laws and his precepts, or by his prophets, exhorting them to obedience to them: I will bring seven times more plagues upon you, according to your sins ; greater and sorer punishments still, and these more frequently repeated, and in proportion to their transgressions of his righteous laws.
Ver. 22 . I will also send wild beasts among you , etc.] Either in a literal sense, as lions, bears, wolves, etc. and so is the reverse of what is promised to them on their doing well, ( Leviticus 26:6); or figuratively, mighty monarchs and cruel oppressors, such as were the kings of Assyria and Babylon, ( Jeremiah 50:17); which shall rob you of your children ; as the bears, in a literal sense, destroyed the children of them in the times of Elisha, ( 2 Kings 2:24); and destroy your cattle ; the tame beasts, who often become a prey to the wild ones, as both those of the flock, and of the herd, sheep and oxen, do to lions, wolves, etc. and make you few in number ; or diminish them, their number, by bereaving them of their children, and their wealth and substance, by destroying their cattle: and your [high] ways shall be desolate ; or ways, the word high not being in the text, and may signify both their public and private ones, which would be all forsaken, none caring to venture to walk in them for fear of beasts of prey.
Ver. 23 . And if ye will not be reformed by these things , etc.] Corrected and amended by these punishments, be prevailed upon to return from their evil ways to the Lord, and walk in his commandments, and keep his judgments, and do them: but will walk contrary unto me ; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 26:21”).
Ver. 24 . Then I will also walk contrary unto you , etc.] Opposing himself unto them as their enemy, fighting against them in his providence, whetting his sword, bending his bow, and causing the arrows of his wrath and vengeance to fall upon them; or behaving towards them in a careless and indifferent manner, not regarding what befell them, showing no peculiar concern for them, or as exercising any particular providence over them; but as if everything came by chance to them, which was the language of their actions, if not of their lips: and will punish you yet seven times for your sins ; add fresh corrections, and these greater than before, and more numerous in proportion to their aggravated transgressions.
Ver. 25 . And I will bring a sword upon you , etc.] War upon them by the sword of their enemies; they that use and kill with the sword, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; their neighbours that delighted in war, and bore an implacable, hatred unto them, and gladly embraced every opportunity of shedding their blood, and ravaging their country: that shall avenge the quarrel of [my] covenant ; the covenant made with them at Sinai, which they transgressed, and for which vengeance would be taken on them in this way, God so ordering it in his providence, though the enemy meant it not, ( Isaiah 10:5-7); and when ye are gathered together within your cities ; from the fields and villages, fleeing from the enemy invading and destroying, to their fortified towns and cities for safety: I will send the pestilence among you ; which shall destroy those that escaped the sword, and thought themselves safe in a strong city, and even the very soldiers in the garrisons, who were set for the defence of the city: and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy ; so many being taken off by the pestilence, there would not be a sufficient number to defend the place, and therefore obliged to give it up, by which means those that escaped the pestilence would fall into the hands of the enemy.
Ver. 26 . [And] when I have broken the staff of your bread , etc.] Brought a famine, at least a scarcity of provisions upon them, deprived them of bread, the staff of life, by which it is supported; or however made it very scarce among them, so that they had hardly a sufficiency to sustain nature, and perhaps the blessing of nourishment withheld from that; (see Isaiah 3:1); ten women shall bake your bread in one oven ; for want of wood, according to Jarchi; or rather through scarcity of bread corn, they should have so little to bake every week, that one oven would be sufficient for ten families, which in a time of plenty each made use of one for themselves; and so Aben Ezra says, it was a custom in Israel for every family to bake in an oven by themselves, which they ate the whole week. Ten is a certain number for an uncertain, and denotes many, as in ( Zechariah 8:23).
Making and baking bread was the work of women in the eastern countries, as we find it was particularly among the Persians f907 , and continues to this day among the Moors and Arabs f908 : and they shall deliver [you] your bread again by weight ; there being not enough for everyone to eat what they pleased, but were obliged to a rationed allowance, therefore everyone in the family should have their share delivered to him by weight; (see Ezekiel 4:16,17); and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied ; not having enough to eat to satisfaction; or what they did eat, God would withhold a blessing from it for their nourishment, the reverse of ( Leviticus 26:5,10).
Ver. 27 . And if ye for all this will not hearken unto me , etc.] To his commands, and to his prophets sent unto them time after time, and all his corrections and chastisements being ineffectual to reform them, and make them obedient to him: but walk contrary unto me ; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 26:21”).
Ver. 28 . Then I will walk contrary to you also in fury , etc.] As in ( Leviticus 26:24); with this addition, in fury; being greatly provoked, and highly incensed, that no regard was had to him, neither to his commands, nor to his corrections; and therefore would be determined to stir up his wrath, and pour out the fury of his indignation on them, which must be terrible; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins ; add new and many more chastisements, and that in hot displeasure, for their sins; and the repetition or doubling of the phrase, “I, even I, will do it”, denotes the certainty of it, and that he will do it himself, and his hand should be visible in it; and they should feel the weight of it, and be obliged to own that these were punishments inflicted by him for their sins.
Ver. 29 . And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons , etc.] Which was fulfilled at the siege of Samaria, in the times of Joram, ( 2 Kings 6:29); and at the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, ( Lamentations 4:10); and though there is no instance of it at that time in the sacred records, the Jews tells us of one Doeg ben Joseph, who died and left a little one with his mother, who was very fond of him; but at this siege slew him with her own hands, and ate him, with respect to which they suppose Jeremiah makes the lamentation, ( Lamentations 2:2); and of this also there was an instance at the last siege of Jerusalem, by Titus, when a woman, named Mary, of a considerable family, boiled her son, and ate part of him, and the rest was found in her house when the seditious party broke in upon her, as Josephus relates: and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat ; of which, though no instances are given, it is as reasonable to suppose it was done as the former. Some of the Jewish writers think, that in this prediction is included, that children should eat their parents, as well as parents their children, as in ( Ezekiel 5:10).
Ver. 30 . And I will destroy your high places , etc.] Which Jarchi interprets of towers and palaces; but Aben Ezra of the place of sacrifices; for on high places, hills and mountains, they used to build altars, and there offer sacrifices, in imitation of the Heathens; (see Gill on “ Ezekiel 6:13”); and cut down your images ; called Chammanim, either from Ham, the son of Noah, the first introducer of idolatrous worship after the flood, as some have thought; or from Jupiter Ammon, worshipped in Egypt, from whence the Jews might have these images; or rather from Chammah, the sun, so called from its heat; so Jarchi says, there were a sort of idols placed on the roofs of houses, and because they were set in the sun, they were called by this name; and Kimchi observes they were made of wood, and made by the worshippers of the sun, (see 2 Kings 23:11); but Aben Ezra is of opinion that these were temples built for the worship of the sun, which is the most early sort of idolatry that appeared in the world, to which Job may be thought to refer, ( Job 31:26,27). Some take these to be the puraiyeia , or “fire hearths”, which Strabo described as large enclosures, in the midst of which was an altar, where the (Persian) Magi kept their fire that never went out, which was an emblem of the sun they worshipped; and these, he says, were in the temples of Anaitis and Omanus, and where the statue of the latter was in great pomp; which idol seems to have its name from the word in the text; and these are fitly added to the high places, because on such, as Herodotus says, the Persians used to worship: and cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols ; or “dunghill gods” f915 ; such as the beetle, the Egyptians worshipped, signifying that they and their idols should be destroyed together: and my soul shall abhor you ; the reverse of ( Leviticus 26:6); and by comparing it with that, this may signify the removal of the divine Presence from them, as a token of his abhorrence of them; and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra interpret it.
Ver. 31 . I will make your cities waste , etc.] By suffering the enemy to besiege them, enter into them, and plunder them, and destroy the houses in them, and reduce them to the most desolate condition, as Jerusalem, their metropolis, was more than once: and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation ; the temple, so called from the several apartments in it, the court, the holy place, and the most holy; or rather both sanctuaries or temples are intended, the first built by Solomon, and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar; the second rebuilt by Zerubbabel, and adorned by Herod, and reduced to ashes by Titus Vespasian: the Jews understand this of their synagogues, which were many both in Jerusalem, and in other parts of their country, but cannot be intended, since it follows: and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours : of their incense offered on the altar of incense; or the savour of their offerings, as the Targum of Jonathan, of their burnt offerings, and the fat of their other offerings burnt on the altar of burnt offering; signifying, that these would not be acceptable to him, or he smell a savour of rest in them; (see Genesis 8:21); now these were only offered in the temple, not in synagogues.
Ver. 32 . And I will bring the land into desolation , etc.] The whole country of Judea, cities, towns, villages, fields, vineyards, etc. through the ravage and plunder of the enemy; and they being driven out of it, and carried captive from it, and so the land left untilled, and become barren and unfruitful: and your enemies which dwell therein ; having destroyed them, or cast them out, and sent them into other countries, and took possession of theirs in their room; shall be astonished at it ; at the desolation of the land, that such a fruitful country, a land flowing with milk and honey, should be turned into barrenness, for the wickedness of its inhabitants, and shall be amazed at the judgments of God upon them and that.
Ver. 33 . And I will scatter you among the Heathen , etc.] As with a fan, ( Jeremiah 15:7); so they were at the time of the Assyrian and Babylonish captivities, some were carried to one place, and some to another, some fled to one place, and some to another, and they are at this day scattered among the several nations of the world; and will draw out a sword after you ; draw it out of its scabbard, and with it pursue after them, when fleeing or going whither they should not; as the remainder of the Jews in Judea sought to go to Egypt, contrary to the will of God, ( Jeremiah 42:16); (see Leviticus 26:25); and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste ; for want of men to till the one, and inhabit the other.
Ver. 34 . Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths , etc.] The sabbatical years, or seventh year sabbaths, when, according to the law in the preceding chapter, it was to rest from tillage, ( Leviticus 25:2-4): as long as it lieth desolate, and ye [be] in your enemies’ land ; so long it should lie uncultivated, at least in part, there not being a sufficient number left to till it in general, or as it should be; this was the case during the seventy years’ captivity in Babylon; [even] then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths ; or complete them, as Aben Ezra, which is a bitter sarcasm upon them for their neglect of observance of the law concerning the sabbatical years; but now the land should have its sabbaths of rest whether they would or not; and it seems as if it was on account of this sin, as well as others, that they were carried captive; and it is remarkable, if what Maimonides says is right, that it was at the going out or end of a sabbatical year, that the first temple was destroyed, and the Jews carried captive, and endured a seventy years’ captivity; which some say was because they had neglected seventy sabbatical years; (see 2 Chronicles 36:21).
Ver. 35 . As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest , etc.] From tillage, neither man nor beast working upon it; for which reason such a space of time was called a sabbath: because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when you dwelt upon it ; they manured and tilled it on the seventh years, as on others, neglecting the command which God had given them; and this they did not once or twice, but many times, while they were dwellers in the land; which seems to confirm pretty much the notion of their having omitted so many years, though that cannot be affirmed with certainty; see Jarchi on the place.
Ver. 36 . And upon them that are left [alive] of you , etc.] In the land of Judea, or rather scattered about among the nations, suggesting that these would be comparatively few: I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies ; or “a softness” f917 ; so that they should be effeminate, pusillanimous, and cowardly, have nothing of a manly spirit and courage in them; but be mean spirited and faint hearted, as the Jews are noted to be at this day, as Bishop Patrick observes; who also adds, “it being scarce ever heard, that a Jew listed himself for a soldier, or engaged in the defence of his country where he lives:” and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them ; either the sound of a leaf that falls from the tree, as the Targum of Jonathan, or which the wind beats one against another, as Jarchi, which makes some little noise; even this should terrify them, taking it to be the noise of some enemy near at hand, just ready to fall on them; such poor faint hearted creatures should they be; and they shall flee as fleeing from the sword ; as if there were an army of soldiers with their swords drawn pursuing them: and they shall fall when none pursueth ; fall upon the ground, and into a fit, and drop down as if dead, as if they had been really wounded with a sword and slain, (see Proverbs 28:1).
Ver. 37 . And they shall fall one upon another , etc.] In their hurry and confusion, everyone making all the haste he can to escape the imaginary danger; or “a man upon his brother” f918 ; his friend, as Aben Ezra interprets it, having no regard to relation and friendship, every one endeavouring to save himself. There is another sense which some Jewish writers give of this phrase, and is observed by Jarchi, which is, that everyone shall fall for the iniquities of his brother; for all the Israelites say, they are sureties for one another; but the former sense is best: as it were before a sword, when none pursueth : as if a sword was drawn and brandished at them, just ready to be thrust in them, filling them with the utmost dread and terror, and yet at the same time none in pursuit of them: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies ; no heart to resist them, no strength nor spirit to oppose them, and defend themselves but be obliged to surrender their cities, themselves, their families and goods, into the hand of the enemy.
Ver. 38 . And ye shall perish among the Heathen , etc.] Not utterly, but great numbers of them, through change of air, and different diet, as Aben Ezra, and through the cruel usage of their enemies; for there is a body of them which continues unto this day; unless this is to be understood of the ten tribes, as R. Akiba interprets it, who are supposed to be entirely lost and swallowed up among the nations where they were carried captive: and the land of your enemies shall eat you up ; they should die in it through one disease or another; by the pestilence, as the Targum of Jonathan, and so be buried in it; in which sense it may be said to eat them up, or consume them, for the grave swallows up and consumes all that are put into it; Jarchi says, this is to be understood of those that die in captivity.
Ver. 39 . And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands , etc.] Such as were not taken off by any public calamity, as the sword or pestilence should gradually diminish and melt away like wax before the fire, and die in and for their iniquities in an enemy’s country, (see Ezekiel 24:23 33:10); and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them ; or for the iniquities of their evil fathers, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; they treading in their steps, and doing the same evil deeds, whereby they filled up the measure of their fathers’ sins, and brought upon them deserved punishment. ( Matthew 23:32,33).
Ver. 40 . If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers , etc.] The Targum of Jonathan adds, “in the time of their distress;” which might serve to bring their sins to remembrance, and them to a confession of them, not only of their own sins, but of their fathers’ also; acknowledging thereby that they had been guilty of sinning against God for a long course of years past; and that God had been long suffering towards them, and bore much with them before he brought his judgments on them, which were just, and what they righteously deserved; and such a confession Daniel made, ( Daniel 9:4-8); and the words may as well be rendered absolute as conditional, or better, and as a prediction of what would be done by them when in captivity and distress, “and they shall confess their iniquity” f921 ; with shame and sorrow, with repentance for it, and abhorrence of it; or otherwise, if the confession was only verbal and hypocritical, it would not be acceptable: with their trespass which they trespassed against me ; along with their own iniquities, and those of their fathers, they should confess, their trespass against the Lord would be acknowledged by them; which seems to design some particular and grievous sin committed by them, by which perhaps is meant their idolatry, a capital sin, directly against God, and what those people were prone unto: and that also they have walked contrary unto me ; to his mind and will, to his laws, commands, statutes, and ordinances, disregarding him and them, as if enemies to him; or “by chance”; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 26:21”).
Ver. 41 . And [that] I also have walked contrary unto them , etc.] Showed no regard unto them, as if he took no care of them, or in a providential way concerned himself for them, but let what would befall them; yea, came out in the way of his judgments against them, as if he was an enemy to them, (see Gill on “ Leviticus 26:24”); and have brought them into the land of their enemies ; should acknowledge the hand of God in it, that he himself brought them out of their own country into an enemy’s land, as Assyria, Babylon, and other nations: and that this was not the chance of war, or owing to the superior power or skill of their enemies, but to the just judgment of God upon them for their sins, who on that account delivered them up into the hands of their enemies: if then their uncircumcised heart be humbled ; their foolish proud heart, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; it signifies a sinful, wicked, hard, and impenitent heart, brought to a sense of sin, to repentance and humiliation for it. Jarchi interprets it, “or if their uncircumcised heart”, etc. as in ( Exodus 2:23); and observes another sense of the word, “perhaps their uncircumcised heart”, etc. not only would in words confess their sins, but be truly humbled at heart for them: and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity ; take it well at the hand of God, bear it patiently without murmuring, or thinking themselves hardly dealt by, but freely owning it is less than their iniquities deserve; or complete and finish the punishment of their sins, as Aben Ezra, which upon their humiliation should be put an end to, and cease. Jarchi takes the word in the sense of atonement and pacification, as if by their chastisement their sins were expiated f922 , and God was pacified toward them: but rather it denotes the free and full pardon of their sins, manifested to them upon their repentance and humiliation for sin.
Ver. 42 . Then i will also remember my covenant with Jacob , etc.] Would fulfil and make good all that he had promised in covenant with Jacob, and his posterity: the account begins with him, and rises upwards to Abraham, whereas it usually begins with Abraham, and descends to Jacob; no sufficient reason is given for this alteration, though several are attempted by the Jewish writers f923 : and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember ; which chiefly respects the multiplication of their seed, the continuance of them, and the Messiah springing from them; which is the mercy promised to these fathers, and the principal part of the covenant made with them, and which was remembered and performed when God visited and redeemed his people by him, ( Luke 1:68-73); and I will remember the land ; the land of Judea, and return the Jews to it, and make it fruitful, after he had given it rest from tillage for many years, which was fulfilled at their return from the captivity of Babylon.
Ver. 43 . The land also shall be left of them , etc.] This seems to refer to a second time, when this should be the case of the land of Judea again, as it was when subdued by the Romans, and the Jews were carried captive from it, and so it was left by them, as it has been ever since: and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while lieth desolate without them ; shall be as in the sabbatical years, uncultivated, neither ploughed nor sown, nor reaped; and thus the land of Canaan, though once so very fruitful, is now desolate and barren, being without its former inhabitants, and so it is like to be until it is restored to them again; and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity ; that is, when made sensible of their sins, and particularly of their iniquity of rejecting the Messiah; they will not think it hard that they have been punished in so severe a manner, but own the righteous hand of God in it, and be humble under it; and confessing their sins with true sorrow and repentance for them, looking at him whom they have pierced, and mourn, shall have the free and full remission of their sins applied unto them: because, even, because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes ; despised and abhorred Christ, his doctrines and ordinances, which was the reason of their being carried captive out of their land, when it was forsaken by them, and lay desolate as to this day, especially with respect to any benefit of it enjoyed by them; and which, when they are sensible of, will be a reason of their accepting the punishment of their iniquity so readily, and not murmur at the hand of God upon them, or reflect on his dealings with them, but freely and fully confess their sins, that he may be justified in all that he has done.
Ver. 44 . And yet for all that , etc.] I will have on them, in or through my Word, as the Targum of Jonathan; notwithstanding their many and great sins and transgressions, and the sad and miserable condition they were brought into by them, the Lord would have mercy on them and be gracious to them, through Christ and for his sake, and convert and save them, (see Romans 11:26,27); the Jews, as Fagius tells us, wonderfully delight themselves with this passage, and read it with the greatest joy and pleasure, and with an elevated voice; concluding from hence that they shall certainly return to their own land; and because the first word in this verse is in sound the same as the Germans use for an “ape”, they call this paragraph “the golden ape”, and say, when this shall be fulfilled the golden age will take place with them: a very learned man has wrote a dissertation upon it: when they shall be in the land of their enemies ; of the Romans and other nations, among whom they have been disposed ever since the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus: I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly ; for though they have been cast away by the Lord out of their land, and from being his people, and enjoying either the civil or religious privileges they formerly did; and though they have been cast off with abhorrence, and had in great detestation by him, for their sin of rejecting the Messiah, as appears by the punishment inflicted on them; yet not so as to make an utter end of them as a body of people, for, notwithstanding their dispersion everywhere, and their long captivity, they remain a distinct people from all others, which seems to forebode something favourable to them: and to break my covenant with them ; which he will not do, even his promise of the future call and conversion of them, and of their return to their own land: for I [am] the Lord their God ; their covenant God, and a covenant keeping God, ( Romans 11:27).
Ver. 45 . But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors , etc.] Or rather, “remember to them” f925 , to their good and benefit, for their profit and advantage, not for their desert and merit, for any worth or worthiness in them; this covenant respects not the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as in ( Leviticus 26:42); but with their fathers, either at Sinai, or rather in the plains of Moab, ( Deuteronomy 29:1), for it follows: whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the Heathen, that I might be their God ; whom he brought out of great bondage and distress in Egypt, with an high hand and outstretched arm, and in the sight of the Egyptians, who were not able to oppose it, yea, because of their plagues, were urgent for it; and in the sight of all the nations round about, who heard of the wonderful power of God in the deliverance of his people; and this he did that he might appear to be their covenant God, who had taken them into covenant with him, and had taken them under his care and protection, and would be still their King and their God; and who also, in like manner, it may be here suggested, would deliver the people of the Jews out of their present exiled and captive state and condition in the sight of the whole world, and declare himself their covenant God and Father: I [am] the Lord ; whose will is sovereign, whose power is uncontrollable, who is a covenant keeping God, faithful to his promises, and able to perform them.
Ver. 46 . These [are] the statutes, and judgments, and laws , etc.] Which refer not only to those in this chapter, but in all the preceding chapters in this book, and respect them all, whether ceremonial, moral, or judicial, which may be signified by these three words: which the Lord made between him and the children of Israel ; the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan are, “between his Word and the children of Israel:” in Mount Sinai ; or near it, in the wilderness of it, while the children of Israel lay encamped about it: by the hand of Moses ; they were first delivered to him, and by means of him to the people.