Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 3. Just. But had not God declared the contrary, chap. xviii? The time was not yet arrived; or, he rescued the just from death, though he permitted them to experience the other common miseries. (Calmet) — He preserved them from eternal death. (Estius) — The just often means those who are so only in appearance, chap. xvi. 51. (Calmet) — Temporal afflictions fall upon all; but the just derive benefit from them, while the wicked fall into eternal misery. (St. Jerome) (Worthington)
Ver. 4. North, including all the country belonging to Israel.
Ver. 5. Back, (ver. 30.) without doing execution, Jeremias l. 9. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Bitterness. Septuagint, “pains,” like those of child-bearing, Isaias xxi. 3.
Ver. 7. Melt. Literally, “decay,” Josue vii., &c. — Knee. Chap. vii. 17. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. My son. He speaks, according to St. Jerome, to the sword of Nabuchodonosor; which was about to remove the sceptre of Israel, whom God here calls his son. (Challoner) — This title belonged to all Israel, Exodus iv. 22. (Worthington) — The Hebrew seems to be corrupt, and we may adhere to the Vulgate or to the Septuagint, (Calmet) which has, (9.) “Sword be sharp, and raging to slay victims; be sharp to shine, ready for destruction; cut, reduce to nothing, remove all wood.” (Haydock) — Syriac, “be ready to scatter the race of my son,” &c. Hebrew, “Where shall we rejoice, sceptre of my son, thou sword which despisest every tree?” (Calmet) — Protestants, “It contemneth the rod of my son as every tree?” (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Slayer. He had conquered many nations before he attacked Israel. Let none boast of being the scourges of the Lord.
Ver. 12. Fled, with Sedecias, by night. — Thigh, in surprise and grief, ver. 17.
Ver. 13. God. Perhaps you will say it is only a trial: but what will be your sentiments, when you behold the king and his people led away? (Calmet) — Protestants, “Because it is a trial; and what if the sword contemn even the rod? it shall be no more, saith.” (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Tripled. Let the war be very bloody. Nabuchodonosor often invaded Judea. (Calmet) — He raised the siege, but returned. (Vatable)
Ver. 15. Ready. Literally, “covered,” (amicti. Haydock) in the scabbard, and quite new and sharp.
Ver. 20. Rabbath. They had formed a league with Sedecias, and Nabuchodonosor thought of punishing them first. (Haydock) — But they joined his forces, Jeremias xii. 6., and xxvii. 3.
Ver. 21. Shuffling. Hebrew, “polishing.” Syriac, &c., “shooting an arrow upwards.” He was undetermined which to attack first, and perhaps wrote Jerusalem on one and Rabbath on another arrow; (St. Jerome, &c.; Calmet) or which way the arrow fell the army followed. (Haydock) — Many nations have adopted such superstitious practices. — Idols. Hebrew Teraphim, Genesis xxxi. 19. (Calmet) — Entrails. The Chaldeans taught the Lydians and they the Tuscans. (Grotius) — At first this was done only to see if the victims were sound. (Cicero, Div.)
Ver. 22. Right of one going by Thapsacus and Damascus, and not through the Desert Arabia, for thus Rabbath would have been to the right. God permitted this divination to succeed in his wrath. The devil pushed the Chaldeans forward, lest the Jews might be converted. (Calmet) — If they had attacked Rabbath first, they would probably have succeeded, as they did five years after. But the time of vengeance was come for Jerusalem, (Haydock) and they were directed to assault it. (Worthington) — Voice: the din of war, (Haydock) or of soldiers, trumpets, &c.
Ver. 23. Vain. They shall think that Nabuchodonosor is wasting his time. — Sabbaths. Hebrew, “they have people who swear to them;” false prophets, or the Egyptians, on whom they depend. Septuagint, “and counting the weeks,” like Aman, Esther iii. 7. — Iniquity, or perfidy of Sedecias, chap. xvii. 15. (Calmet)
Ver. 24. Remembered. Hebrew, “caused….to be remembered,” (Haydock) sinning publicly. (Calmet)
Ver. 25. Thou profane, &c. He speaks to king Sedecias, who had broken his oath, and was otherwise a wicked prince. (Challoner) — Hebrew, “Criminal, (sentenced to die) wicked,” &c. (Calmet)
Ver. 26. Diadem, (cidarim.) Some think this was the ornament of the high priest, (St. Jerome; Chaldean) denoting that he should perish as well as the king. (Haydock) — This. The royal crown of Juda had exalted Sedecias from a private state and condition to the sovereign power, as the loss of it brought down Jechonias, &c. (Challoner) — It shall be given to Godolias. (Chaldean) Hebrew, “it is not (Haydock) or shall be no more” the same, or for the posterity of Sedecias. None of the tribe of Juda was truly king after him, till the Messias. (Sanctius; Tirinus, &c.) (Genesis xlix. 10.) (Calmet)
Ver. 27. Iniquity. Or, I will overturn it, viz., the crown of Juda, for the manifold iniquities of the kings: but it shall not be utterly removed till Christ come, whose right it is; and who shall reign in the spiritual house of Jacob (that is, in his Church,) for evermore. (Challoner) — Hebrew also, “sideways.” Thou shalt no more wear the tiara erect, (Haydock) like a king: (Hesychius) or rather, thy iniquity or punishment shall be most grievous. — Him; Christ, or (Calmet) Nabuchodonosor. (Vatable) (Menochius)
Ver. 28. Reproach, by which they had reproached and insulted over the Jews, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. (Challoner) (chap. xxv. 6., and Sophonias ii. 8.) — They were punished five years later (Calmet) by the same Babylonians whom they had encouraged. (Worthington)
Ver. 30. Sheath. The sword of Babylon, after raging against many nations, was shortly to be judged and destroyed at home by the Medes and Persians. (Challoner) — After Nabuchodonosor had chastised the nations around for 18 years, after the ruin of Jerusalem, he returned and died in peace. Yet he first became like a beast, ver. 31., and Daniel iv. 30. The rest of the prophecy regards his successors. Cyrus waged war upon them, and Baltassar was slain in a conspiracy. See Isaias xlvii., and Jeremias l. (Calmet) — At last the sword fell upon Babylon itself. (Worthington)
Ver. 31. Brutish, or devoid of sense. (Haydock) — Hebrew, “burning;” smiths. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The destruction of Jerusalem by the sword is further described. The ruin also of the Ammonites is foreshewn. And finally Babylon, the destroyer of others, shall be destroyed.
1 And *the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
2 Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and let thy speech flow towards the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel:
3 And say to the land of Israel: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I come against thee, and I will draw forth my sword out of its sheath, and will cut off in thee the just, and the wicked.
4 And forasmuch as I have cut off in thee the just, and the wicked, therefore shall my sword go forth out of its sheath against all flesh, from the south even to the north.
5 That all flesh may know that I the Lord have drawn my sword out of its sheath, not to be turned back.
6 And thou, son of man, mourn with the breaking of thy loins, and with bitterness sigh before them.
7 And when they shall say to thee: Why mournest thou? thou shalt say: For that which I hear: because it cometh, and every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be made feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and water shall run down every knee: behold it cometh, and it shall be done, saith the Lord God.
8 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
9 Son of man, prophesy, and say: Thus saith the Lord God: Say: The sword, the sword is sharpened, and furbished.
10 It is sharpened to kill victims: it is furbished that it may glitter: thou removest the sceptre of my son, thou hast cut down every tree.
11 And I have given it to be furbished, that it may be handled: this sword is sharpened, and it is furbished, that it may be in the hand of the slayer.
12 Cry, and howl, O son of man, for this sword is upon my people, it is upon all the princes of Israel, that are fled: they are delivered up to the sword with my people; strike, therefore, upon thy thigh,
13 Because it is tried: and that, when it shall overthrow the sceptre, and it shall not be, saith the Lord God:
14 Thou, therefore, O son of man, prophesy, and strike thy hands together, and let the sword be doubled, and let the sword of the slain be tripled: this is the sword of a great slaughter, that maketh them stand amazed,
15 And languish in heart, and that multiplieth ruins. In all their gates I have set the dread of the sharp sword, the sword that is furbished to glitter, that is made ready for slaughter.
16 Be thou sharpened, go to the right hand, or to the left, which way soever thou hast a mind to set thy face.
17 And I will clap my hands together, and will satisfy my indignation: I the Lord have spoken.
18 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
19 And thou, son of man, set thee two ways, for the sword of the king of Babylon to come: both shall come forth out of one land: and with his hand he shall draw lots, he shall consult at the head of the way of the city.
20 Thou shalt make a way, that the sword may come to Rabbath of the children of Ammon, and to Juda, unto Jerusalem, the strong city.
21 For the king of Babylon stood in the highway, at the head of two ways, seeking divination, shuffling arrows: he enquired of the idols, and consulted entrails.
22 On his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, to set battering rams, to open the mouth in slaughter, to lift up the voice in howling, to set engines against the gates, to cast up a mount, to build forts.
23 And he shall be in their eyes as one consulting the oracle in vain, and imitating the leisure of sabbaths: but he will call to remembrance the iniquity, that they may be taken.
24 Therefore thus saith the Lord God: Because you have remembered your iniquity, and have discovered your prevarications, and your sins have appeared in all your devices: because, I say, you have remembered, you shall be taken with the hand.
25 But thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come that hath been appointed in the time of iniquity:
26 Thus saith the Lord God: Remove the diadem, take off the crown: is it not this that hath exalted the low one, and brought down him that was high?
27 I will shew it to be iniquity, iniquity, iniquity: but this was not done, till he came to whom judgment belongeth, and I will give it him.
28 *And thou son of man prophesy, and say: Thus saith the Lord God concerning the children of Ammon, and concerning their reproach, and thou shalt say: O sword, O sword, come out of the scabbard to kill, be furbished to destroy, and to glitter.
29 Whilst they see vain things in thy regard, and they divine lies; to bring thee upon the necks of the wicked that are wounded, whose appointed day is come in the time of iniquity.
30 Return into thy sheath. I will judge thee in the place wherein thou wast created, in the land of thy nativity.
31 And I will pour out upon thee my indignation: in the fire of my rage will I blow upon thee, and will give thee into the hands of men that are brutish and contrive thy destruction.
32 Thou shalt be fuel for the fire, thy blood shall be in the midst of the land, thou shalt be forgotten; for I, the Lord, have spoken it.
1: Year of the World 3411.
28: Genesis xlix. 10.