6. Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD.
6. Heus! Heus! et fugite e terra Aquilonis, dicit Iehova; quia in quatuor ventos coelorum dispersi vos, dicit Iehova.
That the design of the Prophet may be more clear, we must especially bear in mind the history of the case. When it was allowed the Jews, by the edict of Cyrus and of Darius, to return to their own land, that kindness was suspected by many, as though the two kings had a wish suddenly to oppress them when they had pained their object in their return. Some who dwelt comfortably among the Chaldeans and in other places, preferred to enjoy their rest rather than to return with so much trouble to their own country, where there were no houses prepared, and where there were only dreary desolations. As then the greater part of the people thus slighted the singular favor of God, of which the Prophets had so often spoken, it was necessary that this sloth, connected as it was with great impiety, should be reproved. For if any religion had touched their hearts, they must have preferred Jerusalem to the whole world, and the service of God to all earthly advantages and pleasures. Hence the self-indulgence in which the Jews had become torpid, deserved a sharp and severe reproof. This is the reason why the Prophet treats them here with so much sharpness, for otherwise they could not have been roused.
Ho! Ho! he says, as though he had said, |What means this delay? for when God has opened the door for you, ye still take your rest, as though Judea were not your inheritance, as though there were no difference between you and the profane heathens.| We now understand the object of the Prophet.
The particle hvy, eui, is used for stimulating them; and by it the Prophet reprehends their indifference, which was a proof, as I have said, of ingratitude; for the Jews in this way showed their contempt of that favor, which ought to have been preferred far before all the wealth and the pleasures of the world.
But the reason which is added seems far-fetched, or even unsuitable -- For to the four winds of heaven have I scattered you; for this could not have served to rouse the Jews to leave Babylon, and to return to the holy land promised to them by God. Yet it was very efficacious towards producing an impression on their minds; for the Lord shows, in these words, that it was in his power to restore them in safety, inasmuch as they had not been scattered here and there, except through his just vengeance. Had their enemies prevailed against them, or had they without reason been expelled from their country, a doubt might have crept in whether the promise could be relied on; but when it appeared evident that their exile was a punishment inflicted by God, they might safely conclude that he would become the author of their restoration; for he who had inflicted the wound was able to heal it.
We now then see what the Prophet had in view: he intimates that the Jews had hitherto suffered punishment from God, because they obeyed not his word, but provoked by their obstinacy his extreme vengeance; they ought then now to entertain hope, because God was pacified towards them and ready to forgive them. As then their exile was from God, the Prophet intimates that their return would not be difficult when God became reconciled to them, because the Jews had to do only with the heavenly Judge himself. In short, the Prophet designs to show that the Jews acted foolishly by continuing in exile, when liberty was given them to return; and therefore he exhorts them to hasten in time, lest the season of God's favor should pass away, and thus the door be again closed against them. That they might not hesitate whether this was possible, he shows that it was in God's power, for he had driven them from their country; it would not therefore be difficult for him to open a way for their return whenever he pleased. He now adds --