13. Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts: and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.
13. Et dixistis, Ecce fatigatio (alii vertunt, Ecce ex fatigatione,) et sufflastis in illud, dicit Iehova exercituum; et obtulistis raptum et claudum et debile; et obtulistis Minchah (hoc est, oblationem;) an gratam hanc habebo e manu vestra, dicit Iehova.
He pursues the same subject -- that the worship of God was despised by them and regarded as almost worthless. We must bear in mind what I have before stated -- that the Jews are not reprehended here as though they had openly and avowedly spoken reproachfully of God's worship; but that this was sufficiently evident from their conduct; for they allowed themselves so much licentiousness, that it was quite manifest that they were trifling with God, inasmuch as they had cast off every fear of him and all reverence towards him.
Ye have said, Behold, labor. This may apply to the whole people, or to the priests alone. It is commonly explained of the priests -- that they complained that they had a hard office, because they were continually in the temple and constantly watched there, and were much occupied in cleaning the vessels.
The monks at this day under the Papacy, and the priests, boasting of themselves, say, |While all others sleep, we are watching; for we are constant in prayers.| Forsooth! they howl at midnight in their temples; and then by massing and by doing other strange things they imagine that they are seriously engaged in pacifying God. In this sense do some understand this passage, as though the priests, in order to commend their work, alleged that they labored much in God's service, and as though God had enjoined on them many and difficult things. But I prefer applying this to the whole people, and yet I do not exclude the priests; for the Prophet here condemns both, and shows that it was wearisome to them to spend labor in worshipping God, that they considered it weariness, as we commonly say, Tu le fais par courvee.
And the import of what follows is the same, Ye have snuffed at it, that is, through disdain. Some give this rendering, |With sorrow have ye moved him;| and the verb is in Hiphil, and is often taken in this sense. The verb, nphch, nephech, is properly to snuff; and it is here in another conjugation; but even in Hiphil it has this meaning, and cannot be taken otherwise. Now they who render it, to move or touch with sorrow, are under the necessity of turning the words of the Prophet to a sense the most foreign and remote, even that the priests, extremely greedy of gain, compelled the common people to bring sacrifices, and thus extorted sacrifices, but not without sorrow and lamentation. We see how forced this is: I therefore wholly reject it. Some have hammered out a very refined sense, which is by no means suitable, |Ye have snuffed at it,| that is, Ye have said indeed that the victims are good and sufficiently fat; and yet ye may by breath blow them into the air. Others render it, to cast down, because they threw the sacrifices on the ground. But what need there is of departing from the common meaning of the word, since it is easy to conclude that both the priests and the people are here condemned, because the worship of God was a weariness to them, as we snuff at a thing when it displeases us. The behavior then of the fastidious is what the Prophet meant here to express. The passage will thus be very appropriate, Ye have said, Behold weariness! Ye have snuffed at it: then he adds, --
Ye have offered the torn, and the lame, and the weak. These words prove the same thing -- that they performed their duty towards God in a trifling manner by offering improper victims: when they had anything defective or diseased, they said that it was sacred to God, as we find it stated in the next verse. Some improperly render, gzvl, gazul, a prey, what had been unjustly procured, as though he had said, that they offered victims obtained by plunder: but I wonder how they could thus distort the words of the Prophet without any pretense. He mentions here three kinds -- the torn, the lame, and the maimed or the feeble. Who then does not see that the torn was an animal which had been torn by wild beasts? When therefore they had an animal half dead, having been torn by wolves, they thought that they had a suitable victim: |I am constrained to offer a sacrifice to God, this lamb is very suitable, for the wolf has devoured a part of it, and it has hardly escaped: as then it is maimed, I will bring it.| The Prophet then calls those torn victims which had been lacerated by the teeth of wild beasts.
We now understand the import of the words; but we must remember what I have said -- that God required not the performance of external rites, because he had need of meat and drink, or because he set a great value on these sacrifices, but on account of their design. The sacrifices then which God demanded from his ancient people had in themselves nothing that promoted true religion; nor could the odour of sacrifices of itself delight God; but the end was to be regarded. As then God ordered and commanded sacrifices to be offered to him, that he might exercise his people in penitence and faith, it was for this reason that he valued them. But when the people had fallen into gross contempt of them, that they brought to God, as it were to insult him, the maimed and the lame, their extremely base and intolerable impiety, as I have already said, was made fully evident. This is the reason why the Prophet now so vehemently chides the priests and the whole people; they offered to God such sacrifices as man would have rejected, according to what we noticed yesterday. It then follows --