1. And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
1. Et nunc ad vos praeceptum hoc, O sacerdotes, --
2. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
2. Si non audieritis et non posueritis super cor, ut detis gloriam nomini meo, dicit Iehova exercituum, mittam (copula hic abundat) in vos maledictionem et maledicam benedictionibus vestris, atque etiam maledixi eam (est mutatio numeri, pro eas,) quia non ponitis super cor.
Though the priests did not sin alone, yet it is not without reason, as we have said, that they were regarded as the first in wickedness; for it was their office to correct what the people did amiss. Their dissimulation had the effect of encouraging the common people to sin: hence the Prophet accuses them especially as the authors of impiety; and this is what the words intimate, if they are rightly considered.
To you, he says, O priests. They might have indeed exonerated themselves, or at least transferred a part of their guilt to others: |Oh! what can we do? for we see that the people are growing cold in God's worship; it is better that imperfect sacrifices should be offered than none at all.| As then they might by evasion have somewhat extenuated their guilt, the Prophet the more sharply reproves them and says, To you especially is addressed this command, as they ought to have shown to others the right way; for when they dissembled, their connivance was nothing else but a consent; and thus they divested the people of God's fear, and allowed them to corrupt the whole of religion by offering spurious sacrifices. To you then, he says, that is, |Though the whole people is guilty before God, think not that ye are on this account excused; for it behoves you to check this wickedness, for God has set you over the people as their teachers and guides: as then ye have neglected your duty, whatever others have done amiss, falls justly on your heads. For how has it happened that the people have dared to proceed so far in impiety? even because you have no concern for religion; for God has promoted you to the priesthood for this end -- to preserve in integrity the worship of his name; but ye know of all the prevailing profanations, and ye hold your peace: To you then is this command.|
He then adds, If ye will not hear nor lay it to heart to give glory to my name, etc. He seems here to threaten the priests alone; and yet if any one carefully considers the whole passage, he will easily perceive that this address extends to the whole people, in such a way however that it is in the first place directed to the priests; for as I have said the greater portion of the guilt belonged to them. God then denounces a heavy punishment on the whole people as well as on the priests, even that he would send a curse. But that they might not object and say that they were too severely dealt with, God shows how justly he was displeased with them, because they hearkened not nor attended to his warnings. What indeed is less tolerable than not to hear God speaking? But as many thought it enough to stretch the ear, and then immediately to forget what had been spoken, it is added, If ye lay it not to heart, that is, If ye attend not and seriously apply your hearts to what is said. We see then that the Prophet shows how that God had a just cause for severely punishing them; for it was an impiety not to be borne, when he could obtain no hearing from men. But the Prophet shows at the same time what it is to hear God; he therefore adds the latter clause as a definition or an explanation of the former: for God is not heard, if we receive with levity his words, so that they soon vanish away; but we hear them when we lay them on the heart, or, as the Latins say, when we apply the mind to them. There is then required a serious attention, otherwise it will be the same as though the ears were closed against God.
Let us further learn from this passage that obedience is of so much account with God, that he bears nothing less than a contempt of his word or a careless attention to it, as though we regarded not its authority. We must also notice that our guilt before God is increased and enhanced, when he recalls us to the right way, and seeks to promote our welfare by warning and exhorting us. When therefore God is thus kindly careful for our salvation, we are doubly inexcusable, if we perversely reject his teaching, warnings, counsels, and other remedies which he may apply.
He now adds, I will send on you a curse; and this curse he immediately explains, I will curse your blessings The word blessing, we know, means everywhere in Scripture the beneficence or kindness of God. God then is said to bless us when he bountifully supports us and supplies whatever is necessary for us. And hence seems to have arisen the expression, that God by his nod alone can satisfy us with all abundance of good things. By blessings then he means a large and an abundant provision, and also rest from enemies, a healthy air, and everything of this kind. Some think that those prayers are intended, by which the priest blessed the people; but there is no reason for this. God then had manifested his favor to the Jews; he now declares that he will deprive them of all his benefits, that they might know that he is not propitious to them. Blessings then are evidences of God's bounty and paternal favor.
But he immediately adds, Yea, I have cursed. By which words he proves their senselessness: for they were not even taught by their evils, which yet produce some effect even on fools, who, according to the common proverb, begin to be wise when they are chastised. God then here reproves the stupidity of the Jews; for they had already been deprived of his benefits, and they might have known by experience that he was not propitious to them, but on the contrary an angry judge; and yet they were touched by no penitence, according to what we have seen in the other Prophets.
We now understand the import of the words, and at the same time the object of the Prophet: I will then curse your blessings, and what is more, (so I explain, vgm, ugam,) I have already cursed them: but ye are like blocks of wood or stones; for the very scourges avail nothing with you. He again repeats, because ye lay it not on your heart, in order to show that he could not bear the contempt of his word, for it was, as we have said, a sign of extreme impiety. It follows