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Commentary On Joel Amos Obadiah by Jean Calvin

Obadiah 5

5. If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?

5. An fures venerunt ad te? An praedones nocturni? Quomodo in silentium redactus es? (vel, quomodo consumptus es?) annon furati essent sufficientiam suam? An vindemiatores ad te venerunt? Annon reliquissent racemos?

The Prophet shows in this verse that the calamity with which God was resolved to afflict the Idumeans would not be slight, for nothing would be left among them; and he amplifies what he says by a comparison. When one is plundered of his property by thieves, he grieves, that what he had acquired by much labor through life, has been in one moment taken from him: and when any one has spent labor and expense in cultivating his vineyard, and another takes away its fruit, he complains of his great misfortune, that he had lost his property and big labor in the cultivation of his vineyard, while another devours its fruit. But the Prophet intimates that God would not be content with such kind of punishment as to the Idumeans.

Hence he says, Have night thieves or robbers come to thee? They must doubtless have stolen, and have taken away what they thought sufficient for them; but now nothing shall be left to thee. In short, the Prophet intimates that the Assyrians would not be like thieves or night robbers, who stealthily and privately take away what comes to their hands; but he means, that the Idumeans would be so plundered, that their houses would be left wholly empty, and he declares that the Assyrians would thus spoil them like night thieves or robbers, who are wont to proceed with unbridled liberty; for none dares to resist them, or even to say a word against them. This plundering then will not be, says the Prophet, of an ordinary kind; but the enemies will make thee entirely empty.

The same is the object in view when he says, Have vintagers come to thee? To be sure, they commonly leave some clusters; but the Assyrians will leave, no, not one: they shall depart so laden with plunders, that thou shalt be left empty.

But all this, as we have reminded you, was said in order to alleviate or to mitigate the grief of the faithful, who then deemed themselves very miserable, as they were alone plundered by enemies; for they saw that their neighbors were dwelling in safety, and even becoming partakers of the spoil. Their condition therefore was very miserable and degraded. Hence the Prophet, that he might moderate this bitter grief, says, that the Idumeans would in no common way be plundered, for not a hair could be left them. This is the import of the passage.

But some regard the verb ndmyth nudamite as signifying, |Thou art reduced to silence;| for the verb dvm dum or dmh dame means to be silent: and they give this exposition, |How dost thou not endeavor at least to meet thine enemies?| for they take |to be silent| in the sense of being still, as dmh dame is often so taken in Scripture, |How then have they been silent?| but he speaks of the future in the past tense, as though God had already inflicted punishment on the Idumeans, that faith in the prediction might be made more certain: thou hast been reduced to silence, that is, how couldest thou remain quiet on seeing thine enemies plundering with so much violence -- how then hast thou been reduced to silence? Others say, How hast thou been consumed? for dmh dame often means to destroy. But to this point belongs no great importance; for the Prophet means, that it could not be ascribed to chance, that enemies would destroy the whole land of Edom, for the cruel assault would by no means be of an ordinary kind: and then as the Idumeans thought that an entrance to their enemies was on every side closed up, as they inhabited the summits of mountains, according to what I have already said, and that they were most safe in their recesses and lofty rocks, the Prophet here sets it forth as a wonderful thing that God's judgment would yet reach them. Let us proceed --

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