Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. That. Hebrew, “the scissors of clippers.” The same term is used for clipping sheep as for cutting hair. Shaving was not probably then in use. — Beard, as in mourning or for ignominy, 2 Kings x. 4., and Jeremias xlvii. 5. — Balance, to shew that God does nothing unjustly. (Calmet) — The hair. Literally, “them.” (Haydock) — This was to be done before he lay down. Hew was to burn, cut, and divide the hair as the siege represented on the tile advanced, to denote that some should perish in the city by famine, others by the sword, while a few should be scattered among the nations: yet of these a small number should be gathered round Godolias, and perish with him, or in Egypt, &c., and the rest be thence led captive to Babylon.
Ver. 2. Third. Septuagint and Theodotion read “a fourth,” as also [in] ver. 12., (Calmet) thus assigning half to be burnt by death (pestilence) and famine. The other half of the people falls a prey to the sword and to captivity. The pestilence, famine, and the sword, were the three usual scourges left to David’s choice, (2 Kings xxiv.) which here destroy each a fourth part, while the rest become captives. Yet even of this third or fourth part, many engage in civil broils, and perish. St. Jerome hints that the Septuagint is interpolated from Theodotion, ver. 12, and that their version only comprised the pentateuch. But the other books went at least under the same title; and there must be some mistake in the words asterisked, since they occur in the Hebrew, Vulgate, &c., third being only substituted for fourth: “And a fourth part of thee shall fall by the sword.” The Hebrew is rather less degrading to the Jews, as there would be thus at most one-third preserved, instead of a part only of one-fourth. See Deuteronomy xxvii. 4., and Jeremias lii. 28. — Take. Septuagint add here, “a fourth part; and shalt burn it in the midst of it; and a fourth thou shalt cut,” &c. (Haydock) — He was thus to deal with a part of the hair during 390 days, (Menochius) or at the end of them. (R. Salom.) — Round, in the cities near Jerusalem, (Worthington) or round the picture of it, chap. iv. 1.
Ver. 4. Out of it. Some rose up against Godolias, Jeremias xl., &c. (Calmet) — The divisions of the Jews brought on the persecution of Epiphanes, (Sanctius) and introduced Pompey. (St. Jerome) (Haydock)
Ver. 5. Midst, distinguished above the rest. Many have supposed that the city was in the exact middle of Palestine, or of the world, Psalm lxxiii. 12. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Surpassed in numbers, (Symmachus) or rather in wickedness. (Chaldean) (Calmet) — Septuagint, “because you have been incited by the,” &c. (Haydock) — Judgments. You have been less attached to my service than the Gentiles have been to their idols. Some think that not is here superfluous, as it is omitted [in] chap. xi. 12. But it is wrong to imitate the Gentiles, and worse to surpass them in crimes.
Ver. 9. Like. The ruin of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans was terrible, (Calmet) but that by the Romans was more so. (St. Jerome) — The reasons were different.
Ver. 10. Fathers. This is not specified in history. Famine prevailed, 4 Kings xxv. 3.; and we find something similar, Lamentations iv. 10., (Calmet) and Baruch ii. (Worthington) — It is probable, therefore, that these threats were realized. (Theodoret) (Deuteronomy xxviii. 53.) — Scatter. Literally, “winnow.” (Haydock) — The Jewish nation was never again all together in the promised land.
Ver. 12. Pestilence. Septuagint, “death;” so they usually denote pestilence. They add, “and a fourth part of thee shall be,” &c., ver. 2. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Comforted, or revenged, chap. xxiv. 14., and Isaias i. 24.
Ver. 14. And a. Septuagint, “and thy daughters (dependances. Calmet) round,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Scoff. Literally, “blasphemy;” which is here used improperly, to denote derision. (Worthington)
Ver. 16. Arrows; inclemency of the seasons, &c., which bring on famine. (Menochius)
Ver. 17. Beasts. They usually take possession of abandoned countries. (St. Jerome) — The Chaldeans may also be meant, chap. xvii. 3.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The judgments of God upon the Jews are foreshewn under the type of the prophet’s hair.
1 And *thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, that shaveth the hair, and cause it to pass over thy head, and over thy beard; and take thee a balance to weigh in, and divide the hair.
2 A third part thou shalt burn with fire in the midst of the city, according to the fulfilling of the days of the siege; and thou shalt take a third part, and cut it in pieces with the knife all round about; and the other third part thou shalt scatter in the wind, and I will draw out the sword after them.
3 And thou shalt take thereof a small number; and shalt bind them in the skirt of thy cloak.
4 And thou shalt take of them again, and shalt cast them in the midst of the fire, and shalt burn them with fire; and out of it shall come forth a fire into all the house of Israel.
5 Thus saith the Lord God: This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations, and the countries round about her.
6 And she hath despised my judgments, so as to be more wicked than the Gentiles; and my commandments, more than the countries that are round about her; for they have cast off my judgments, and have not walked in my commandments.
7 Therefore, thus saith the Lord God: Because you have surpassed the Gentiles that are round about you, and have not walked in my commandments, and have not kept my judgments, and have not done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you:
8 Therefore, thus saith the Lord God: Behold I come against thee, and I myself will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the Gentiles.
9 And I will do in thee that which I have not done: and the like to which I will do no more, because of all thy abominations.
10 Therefore, the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers: and I will execute judgments in thee, and I will scatter thy whole remnant into every wind.
11 Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord God : Because thou hast violated my sanctuary with all thy offences, and with all thy abominations: I will also break thee in pieces, and my eye shall not spare, and I will not have any pity.
12 A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and shall be consumed with famine in the midst of thee: and a third part of thee shall fall by the sword round about thee: and a third part of thee will I scatter into every wind, and I will draw out a sword after them.
13 *And I will accomplish my fury, and will cause my indignation to rest upon them, and I will be comforted; and they shall know, that I the Lord have spoken it in my zeal, when I shall have accomplished my indignation in them.
14 And I will make thee desolate, and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of every one that passeth by.
15 And thou shalt be a reproach, and a scoff, an example, and an astonishment amongst the nations that are round about thee, when I shall have executed judgments in thee in anger, and in indignation, and in wrathful rebukes.
16 I the Lord have spoken it: When I shall send upon them the grievous arrows of famine, which shall bring death, and which I will send to destroy you: and I will gather together famine against you:* and I will break among you the staff of bread.
17 And I will send in upon you famine, and evil beasts, unto utter destruction: and pestilence, and blood shall pass through thee, and I will bring in the sword upon thee. I, the Lord, have spoken it.
1: Year of the World 3409.
13: Zacharias i. 8.
16: Ezechiel iv. 16. and xiv. 16.