28. They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.
28. Omnes perversi perversorum ambulantes in obtrectatione (dicemus postea de hac voce;) aes (aut, chalybs, ut alii vertunt,) vel ferrum; omnes perditores (vel, corruptores) sunt.
The Prophet now shews what he found the Jews to be, whose manners and proceedings he had been commanded to observe. Had he said this at first, either the fury of the people would have been kindled, or his judgment would have been treated with contempt: but when God shewed what he had known through his servant, it had more weight, and then the fury of the people was also repressed, when they understood that it would avail them nothing to fight against God.
He says, that they were all the apostates of apostates, or the transgressors of transgressors. Some read sry, sari, with a s, shin, and render the words, |the princes of transgressors.| But I adopt the first as the more approved reading. They who read |princes, |elicit a meaning from the words which appears strange, but not the true one: they say that they were the princes of transgressors, because the people were no better than their rulers, and because servants imitated their masters in all kinds of wickedness. But this, as all must see, is a strained meaning. Why then should anything be changed, since the sentence, as it is, has a most suitable meaning? They are then called the apostates of apostates, or the transgressors of transgressors, sry srrym, sari sarerim The Hebrews, we know, express the superlative degree by doubling the word, as, the heaven of heavens, the holy of holies, the God of gods. He then says, that they were not only wicked, but most wicked, who had reached the extreme point of depravity. For when impiety reaches its summit, then justly may men be called the apostates of apostates. This, I have no doubt, is what the Prophet means.
He afterwards adds, that they walked in slander The same mode of speaking, if I mistake not, is found in Leviticus 19:16,
|Go not,| or walk not, |among thy people with slander.|
Yet this phrase may be otherwise explained, that is, that they walked in calumnies, or that they perverted everything. But in this place, the word slander, seems too feeble, as the Prophet, in my judgment, means more, even the audacity of the people, so that they allowed themselves every liberty in sinning, and thus walked in their own wickedness.
He adds, Brass and iron Many render the words, |Brass mixed with iron;| that is, that the noble and the vulgar were mingled together, so that there was a common consent among them. Of this meaning I do not wholly disapprove: but as it is rather refined, I know not whether it be well -- founded. I therefore prefer to regard this as designating their hardness: They were like brass and iron, for they were inflexible. The Prophet then after having called them transgressors who had alienated themselves from God, and after having said, that they walked in their own depravity, now adds, that they were untamable, not capable of any improvements; and hence he compares them to brass and iron.
He at last adds, that they were all corrupters This, as I think, is to be referred to their habits: for thus are enemies called, who plunder everything, and commit all excesses. But they are corrupters here, who not only like thieves plunder the goods of all, but who are leaders to others in wickedness: so that all things were in confusion, as it is wont to be said, from the head to the feet. He afterwards adds --