|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:6-11 Both priests and people rejected knowledge; God will justly reject them. They forgot the law of God, neither desired nor endeavoured to retain it in mind, and to transmit the remembrance to their posterity; therefore God will justly forget them and their children. If we dishonour God with that which is our honour, it will, sooner or later, be turned into shame to us. Instead of warning the people against sin, from the consideration of the sacrifices, which showed what an offence sin was to God, since it needed an atonement, the priests encouraged the people to sin, since atonement might be made at so small an expense. It is very wicked to be pleased with the sins of others, because they may turn to our advantage. What is unlawfully gained, cannot be comfortably used. The people and the priests hardened one another in sin; therefore justly shall they share in the punishment. Sharers in sin must expect to share in ruin. Any lust harboured in the heart, in time will eat out all its strength and vigour. That is the reason why many professors grow so heavy, so dull, so dead in the way of religion. They have a liking for some secret lust, which takes away their hearts.
Verses 7, 8. - As they were increased; rather, multiplied. Whether כְּרֻבָּם be taken as infinitive with suffix and prefix, or as a noun, it will amount to the same. The reference is rather to the multitude of the population than to the greatness of their prosperity or the abundance of their wealth. In the latter sense it is understood by the Chaldee paraphrase, but in the former by the Syriac translator. So also Kimchi, where he says, "As for Aaron the priest their father, the Law of truth was in his mouth; but now that his sons have multiplied and spread abroad, they have sinned against me and forgotten my law; according as I did them good they did evil." He also gives as the explanation of others, "As I increased them in wealth and riches, they sinned against me." Their glory will I change into shame. The "therefore" of the Authorized Version is inserted unnecessarily. Both the Chaldee and Syriac render, "And they changed their glory into shame;" as they took אָמִיר for the infinitive הָמִיר, and that in the sense of the preterit; or the infinitive in the gerundival sense: "changing their glory into shame." Kimchi explains the meaning correctly: "Therefore I made them beads over the people and expiators, yet if they do not observe my Law I will change their glory into shame; and the people will contemn and despise them." Their numbers multiplied with the multiplication of idols, and the apostasy of the people kept pace with both; and now as a fit punishment they are to be deprived of their priestly glory - their dignity and splendor. They eat up the sin of my people. The word חַטַּאה may be understood in either of two senses; and the meaning of the verse will correspond thereto. It may either mean that these faithless priests lived upon the sin of the people, deriving their livelihood and profit from the people's idolatrous practices; or that they were delighted with their sin, approving rather than reproving them for the same. The other explanation understands the word of sin offering, and is thus expressed by Kimchi: "They are only priests for eating up the sin and trespass offering which the people offer on account of sins, not for teaching the Law or right way." To their iniquity they lift up (each one) his soul. They set their heart upon and eagerly desire the continued practice of sin on the part of the people that they may profit by the sacrifices. Thus Kimchi explains this clause in accordance with his exposition of the former: "The priests lift up every one his soul to the sin of the people, saying, When will they sin, and bring sin offering and trespass offering that we may eat?"
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
As they were increased, so they sinned against me,.... As the children of the priests increased and grew up, they sinned against the Lord, imitating their parents; they were as many sinners as they were persons, not one to be excepted: this expresses their universal depravity and corruption. Some understand it of their increase, as in number, so in riches, wealth, honour, dignity, and authority, and yet they sinned more and more; which shows their ingratitude. So the Targum,
"as I have multiplied fruits unto them, &c.''
Therefore will I change their glory into shame, take away their priesthood from them, so that they shall be no more priests, and as if they never had been; and reduce them to a state of poverty, meanness, and disgrace; and cause them to go into captivity with the meanest of the people; and be in no more honour, but subject to as much scorn and contempt as they.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. As they were increased—in numbers and power. Compare Ho 4:6, "thy children," to which their "increase" in numbers refers.
so they sinned—(Compare Ho 10:1 and Ho 13:6).
will I change their glory into shame—that is, I will strip them of all they now glory in (their numbers and power), and give them shame instead. A just retribution: as they changed their glory into shame, by idolatry (Ps 106:20; Jer 2:11; Ro 1:23; Php 3:19).
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