14. All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased.
14. Omnes amici tui obliti sunt tui, et non requirunt; quia plaga tibi (hoc est percussi to) castigtione crudelis (hominis, aut, saevi) propter multitudinem iniquitatum tuarum, invaluerunt scelera tua.
The Prophet again repeats, that nothing remained for Israel as coming from men, for no one offered to bring help. Some, indeed, explain the words as though the Prophet had said, that friends, as it is usually the case, concealed themselves through shame on seeing the condition of the people hopeless: for as long as friends can relieve the sick, they are ready at hand, and anxiously exert themselves, but when life is despaired of, they no longer appear. But the Prophet, I have no doubt, condemns here the Jews for the false confidence with which they had been long fascinated; for we know, that at one time they placed hope in the Egyptians; at another in the Assyrians; and thus it happened that they brought on themselves many calamities. And we have seen elsewhere, in many passages, that these confederacies are compared to impure lusts; for when the people sought at one time the friendship of the Egyptians, at another, that of the Assyrians, it was a kind of adultery. God had taken the Jews under his care and protection; but unbelief led them astray, so that. they sought to strengthen themselves by the aid of others. Hence, everywhere in the Prophets the Egyptians and the Assyrians are compared to lovers. And this view will suit well here; for it was not enough to point out the miseries of the people, without making known the cause of them.
Then the Prophet refers to those false counsels which the Jews had adopted, when they thought themselves secure and safe while the Egyptians, or the Assyrians, or the Chaldeans were favorable to them. For this reason he says, that all their friends had forgotten them, and also that they did not inquire for them, that is, that they had cast off every care for them. And he adds the reason, because God had smitten, the people with an hostile wound Here the Prophet summons them again to God's tribunal, that they might learn to consider that these evils did not happen by chance, but that they were the testimonies of God's just wrath. God then comes forth here, and declares himself the author of all those calamities; for the Prophet would have spoken to no purpose of the miseries of the people, had not this truth been thoroughly impressed on their minds, -- that they had to do with God.
Now, that God calls himself an enemy, and compares himself to a cruel enemy, must not be so understood as that the covenant had been abolished by which he had adopted the children of Abraham as his own; for he, through his mercy, always reserved some remnants. Nor ought we to understand that there was excess in God's severity, as though he raged cruelly against his people, when he executed his judgments: but this ought to be understood according to the common perceptions of men. God also calls elsewhere the Israelites his enemies, but not without lamentation,
|Alas!| he says, |I will take vengeance on my enemies.| (Isaiah 1:24)
He assumed there the character of one grieving, as though he had said, that he unwillingly proceeded to so much rigor, for he would have willingly spared the people, had not necessity forced him to such severity. But, as I have already said, when God calls himself the enemy of his people, it ought to be understood of temporal punishment, or it ought to be explained of the reprobate and lost, who had wholly alienated themselves from God's favor, and whom God had also cut off from the body of his Church as putrid members. But as the Prophet here addresses the faithful, there is no doubt but that God calls himself an enemy, because, according to the state of things at that time, the Jews could not have otherwise thought than that God was angry with them.
With regard to cruel one, we have already said, that excess is thereby denoted, as though too much rigor or severity were ascribed to God: but the Jews could not have been otherwise awakened to consider their sins, nor be sufficiently terrified so as to be led seriously to acknowledge the judgment of God. And God himself, in what follows, sufficiently proves, that though he compares himself to a severe or cruel man, yet nothing wrong could be found in his judgments.
For he adds, for the multitude of thine iniquity, because thy sins have prevailed Though the Jews thought that God acted severely, when he threatened them with long exile, here their mouth was closed by the multitude of their iniquity; as though he had said, |Set in a balance on one side, the weight of the punishment of which ye complain, and on the other side the heap of sins by which ye have often, and for a long time, provoked my wrath against you.| God then, by multitude of iniquity, shews that it could not be ascribed to him as a fault that he so severely punished the Jews, because they deserved to be so punished. And he confirms the same thing in other words, not that there was anything ambiguous in what he had said, but because the Prophet saw that he had to do with perverse men. That he might then reprove their indifference, he says, that their sins had grown strong It follows --