|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:18-30 God rejects their outward services, as worthless to atone for their sins. Sacrifice and incense were to direct them to a Mediator; but when offered to purchase a license to go on in sin, they provoke God. The sins of God's professing people make them an easy prey to their enemies. They dare not show themselves. Saints may rejoice in hope of God's mercies, though they see them only in the promise: sinners must mourn for fear of God's judgments, though they see them only in the threatenings. They are the worst of revolters, and are all corrupters. Sinners soon become tempters. They are compared to ore supposed to have good metal in it, but which proves all dross. Nothing will prevail to part between them and their sins. Reprobate silver shall they be called, useless and worthless. When warnings, corrections, rebukes, and all means of grace, leave men unrenewed, they will be left, as rejected of God, to everlasting misery. Let us pray, then, that we may be refined by the Lord, as silver is refined.
Verse 29. - The bellows are burned. The objection to this rendering is that the burning of the bellows would involve the interruption of the process of assaying. We might, indeed, translate "are scorched" (on the authority of Ezekiel 15:4), and attach the word rendered "of the fire" to the first clause; the half-verse would then run: "The bellows are scorched through the fire; the lead is consumed," i.e. the bellows are even scorched through the heat of the furnace, and the lead has become entirely oxydized. But this requires us to alter the verb from the masculine to the feminine form of third sing. perf. (reading tammah). It is better, therefore, to give the verb (which will be Kal, if the nun be radical) the sense of "snorting," which it has in Aramaic and in Arabic, and which the corresponding noun has in Hebrew (Jeremiah 8:16; Job 39:20; Job 41:12). The masculine form of the verb rendered "is consumed" is still a difficulty; but we have a better right to suppose that the first letter of tittom was dropped, owing to its identity with the second letter, than to append (as the first view would require us) an entirely different letter at the end. This being done, the whole passage becomes clear: "The bellows puff, (that) the lead may be consumed of the fire." In any case, the general meaning is obvious. The assayer has spared no trouble, all the rules of his art have been obeyed, but no silver appears as the result of the process. Lead is mentioned, because, before quicksilver was known, it was employed as a flux in the operation of smelting, Plucked away; rather, separated, like the dross from the silver.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The bellows are burnt,.... Which Kimchi interprets of the mouth and throat of the prophet, which, through reproving the people, were dried up, and become raucous and hoarse, and without any profit to them; and so the Targum,
"lo, as the refiner's blower, that is burnt in the midst of the fire, so the voice of the prophets is silent, who prophesied to them, turn to the law, and they turned not;''
or the judgments and chastisements of God upon the Jews may be meant, which were inflicted upon them to no purpose:
the lead is consumed of the fire; lead being used formerly, as is said (f), instead of quicksilver, in purifying of silver; which being consumed, the refining is in vain: or it may be rendered,
out of the fire it is perfect lead (g); or wholly lead, a base metal, no gold and silver in it, to which the Jews are compared:
the founder melteth in vain; to whom either the prophet is likened, whose reproofs, threatenings, and exhortations, answered no end; or the Lord himself, whose corrections and punishments were of no use to reform this people:
for the wicked are not plucked away; from their evil way, as Jarchi; or from good men, they are not separated the one from the other; or, "evils (sins) are not plucked away" (h); from sinners: their dross is not purged away from them; neither the words of the prophet, nor the judgments of God, had any effect upon them. The Targum of the latter part of the verse is,
"and as lead which is melted in the midst of the furnace, so the words of the prophets which prophesied to them were nothing in their eyes; and without profit their teachers taught them and they did not leave their evil works.''
(f) By Mathiolus, Agricola and others, in Poli Synops. (g) "ab igne, et integrum est plumbum", Munster, Calvin, Tigurine version. (h) "et mala non sunt evulsa", Piscator, so some in Vatablus; "mala avelli non pussunt", Junius & Tremellius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
29. bellows … burned—So intense a heat is made that the very bellows are almost set on fire. Rosenmuller translates not so well from a Hebrew root, "pant" or "snort," referring to the sound of the bellows blown hard.
lead—employed to separate the baser metal from the silver, as quicksilver is now used. In other words, the utmost pains have been used to purify Israel in the furnace of affliction, but in vain (Jer 5:3; 1Pe 1:7).
consumed of the fire—In the Chetib, or Hebrew text, the "consumed" is supplied out of the previous "burned." Translating as Rosenmuller, "pant," this will be inadmissible; and the Keri (Hebrew Margin) division of the Hebrew words will have to be read, to get "is consumed of the fire." This is an argument for the translation, "are burned."
wicked … not plucked away—answering to the dross which has no good metal to be separated, the mass being all dross.
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