26. O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us.
26. Filia populi mei, accingere sacco, voluta to in pulvere, luctum unigeniti fac tibi, planctum amaritudinum; quia repente veniet vastator super nos.
The Prophet seems to use more words than necessary; for in a clear matter he appears to extend his discourse too far: but we must consider the design which has been mentioned; for he could not rouse the Jews without urging the matter on them with great vehemence. Known and sufficiently common is the term, |daughter of my people, |as applied to the whole community. Daughter of my people, he says, be thou girded with sackcloth, and roll thyself in the dust It is doubtful whether the Prophet exhorts them to repent, or whether he denounces mourning on the irreclaimable and the hopeless; for ashes and sackcloth are often mentioned, when there is no hope of conversion or of repentance. However, if this view be approved, I will not object, that is, that the Prophet still makes the trial, whether the Jews would return to a sane mind.
Make thee a mourning, he says, as for an only-begotten Thus the Hebrews speak of the greatest and bitterest mourning: for when any one loses an only son, he grieves far more for his death than if he had many children; for when some remain, some comfort still remains; but when one is wholly bereaved, a greater grief, as I have said, is felt by parents. For this reason the Hebrews call it a mourning for an only son, when things are in a hopeless state. He afterwards adds, the mourning of bitternesses, signifying the same thing; because suddenly shall come upon us the waster
If repentance be thought to be intended here, we know that sackcloth and ashes are, of themselves, of no account before God, but that they were formerly evidences of repentance when God's wrath was humbly deprecated; and hence the prophets often designated the thing signified by the sign. We must yet remember what Joel says, that hearts, and not garments, are to be rent. (Joel 2:13.) But the prophets assume this principle as granted, that we are not to deal falsely with God, but with sincerity. Then by sackcloth and ashes they did not understand false protestations, as it is said, but real manifestations of what they felt, when really and from the heart they sought God's mercy. But as the Prophet seems here to assume the character of a herald, denouncing war, I know not whether repentance is what is here meant. So then I rather understand him as saying, that nothing but extreme mourning remained for the Jews: and hence he says, that destroyers would suddenly come upon them; for they had for many years so misused the forbearance of God, that they thought that they could sin with impunity. As, then, they had long indulged this false confidence, the Prophet made use of this word, |suddenly,| pht'm, petam He adds --