21. And I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it.
21. Et ponam ipsum in manum alienorum ad direptionem, et impiorum terrae ad spoliationem, et profanabunt ipsum.
I have said that I do not approve of twisting these words to the sanctuary, as some interpreters do. Hence I do not doubt that the Prophet still speaks of the people. He changed indeed the number in the former verse, for at the beginning he had used the singular number: now he returns again to the singular number, and designates the people. I will deliver it, says he, into the hand of strangers. This was more severe than if they had been oppressed by any domestic tyranny: nor do I doubt that by strangers the Prophet signifies remote and barbarous nations, as we know that those with whom we have no communication are more savage against us. First, therefore, he says, they shall be the slaves of strangers; he adds, the impious of the earth: he means that their enemies should be so cruel and wicked, that no pity or equity was to be expected from them. The sum is, that God's wrath would be terrible since he had borne the iniquities of the people so long. Hence we gather that wicked and abandoned men are God's scourges, and are governed by his will and hand. Since it is so, we gather that God so works by them that he is pure from all alliance with their faults, because he so exercises his judgments by means of them, that he appears without blame with regard to them; but they are condemned deservedly, because either their own avarice or ambition, or other lusts destroy them. I shall give them therefore into the hands of strangers to destroy them: then, to the wicked of the earth for a prey, and they shall profane them By this word interpreters have been induced to take this verse with reference to the sanctuary. But we know that chll, chelel, is taken in another sense -- to slay. This word therefore may be explained, that there shall be a general slaughter of the people: because the enemies not content with the booty and spoil, shall also slay the captives when they have obtained the victory. But I willingly retain the sense |profane,| which means the same as |render vile,| because the Prophet seems to me to allude to all kinds of abuse, as when we do not consider for what purpose things are intended, but rashly and thoughtlessly, contemptuously, and even insultingly dissipate them. It means therefore that such should be the insolence of their enemies, that they should waste and lay in ruins not only the people's substance, but also their persons: although this may be here referred to the substance itself: for a robber is said to prey upon a man when he takes away whatever he has and leaves him naked: in this sense we may conveniently explain what the Prophet now says. But that simple explanation satisfies me, namely, that the enemy shall so disperse the people generally, that there shall be no difference. It follows --