7. And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him
7. Et populus meus suspensi ad aversionem (alii vertunt, conversionem) et ad excelsum vocabunt (id est, vocant) simul non extollet (id est, nemo extollit.)
This verse is variously rendered. Some explain the word tlv'ym, teluaim, as signifying |perplexed;| as though the Prophet had said, that the people would suffer a just punishment through being anxious and looking around them, and yet finding no comfort; for this would be the reward of their defection or apostasy. Hence he says, My people are in suspense; that is, there is no wonder that the Israelites are now tormented with great anxiety, and find no end to their evils; for they who have rebelled against the Lord are worthy of being thus bound fast by him. It is the fruit of their defection that they are now so full of sorrow, and also of despair. This is one exposition. Others say that God here complains of the wickedness of the people, as of those who deliberated whether they ought to repent. They then take suspense for doubt, My people are in suspense; that is, they debate on the subject as on a doubtful matter, when I exhort them to repent, and they cannot at once decide what to do, but alternate between divers opinions, and now incline to one thing and then to another; as if truly the subject itself made it necessary for them to deliberate. Doubtless what is right is in no way hid from them: but as they are unwilling, they seek for themselves, by evasions, some excuses for doubting; for the Prophets cry to them, and no one extols them. This is the second exposition.
It must at the same time be observed, that the word msvvt, meshubat, is variously taken; for the first render it, |turning away,| and the |jod| that is affixed must then be expounded passively, and must mean their turning away from God, because the Israelites had fallen away from him; as in Isaiah chapter 56 he calls that the house of his prayer in which the people were wont to pray. Then the turning away from God, according to them, is to be taken passively, because the people were alienated from him. Others render it, |conversion.| But the Hebrew doctors will have this word to be ever taken in a bad sense, and affirm that there is no place where it signifies any thing but rebellion or apostasy. Since it is so, I am inclined to consider it to be turning away; and thus the second sense, that the people deliberated whether they ought to hear the admonitions of the Prophets, will not stand.
The Prophet also seems to me to mean what is different from what I have referred to in the first place, as the opinion of those who say, My people are in suspense; that is, they anxiously torment themselves on account of their defection, because I punish them for their apostasy; through which it has happened, that, forsaking me, they have wandered after their own inventions. But I take the passage otherwise, as I have already said, My people are fastened; that is, my people have not only once departed from me, but they are, as it were, fastened in their defection. He says, that they were fastened, not that they were sorrowful and endured great tortures, and found their affairs perplexed; but that they were fastened, because they remained obstinate; as when one says, that a man is fastened to a thing, when he cannot be moved. This being fastened, is indeed nothing else but the obstinacy of the people. They were then fastened to defection.
He afterwards adds, To him on high they call them; none at all rises up What an indefinite sentence signifies we stated yesterday. The Prophet means that instruction had been given the people, and that many witnesses or preachers had been sent by the Lord, but that all this had been wholly useless. Hence he says, They call them to him on high, no one raises up himself. Some indeed consider the word, God, to be understood; and this is the commonly received opinion; but in my judgement they are mistaken; for the Prophet, speaking of the Israelites, doubtless means that they remained in the same state, and were not moved by any instruction to make any progress, or to show any sign of repentance. Hence, no one rises up. He uses the singular number, and puts down the particle ychd, ichad, as though he said, |There is no one, from the first to the last, who is touched with grief, for they continue obstinate in their wickedness.| And when he says, No one raises up himself, he seems to allude to the word, fastened. They are then fastened to their defection; and when the Prophets cry and diligently exhort them to repent, they do not rise up; that is, they do not aspire to God; and this indeed they neglect with one consent, as if they all alike blindly united in one and the same wickedness.
In this verse then the Prophet brings again to view the sins of the people, that it might more fully appear that God threatened them so dreadfully not without a cause; for they who were so perversely rebellious against God were worthy of the most grievous punishment. This is the sum of the whole. Let us now proceed --