Ezekiel 16:57
Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about.
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(57) Thy reproach of the daughters of Syria—The pronoun should be omitted, and the phrase read, “the reproach.” The time referred to, when Jerusalem was too proud to make mention of Sodom, was in the days of her prosperity. Later her “wickedness was discovered,” and her pride humbled by such disasters. as fell upon her, especially from the days of Ahaz onward. At that time she was hard pressed both by the Syrians and by the Philistines (2Kings 15:37; 2Chronicles 28:18-19), and impoverished herself to obtain aid from Assyria (2Kings 16:8); and such straits continued to mark her subsequent history. (See 2Kings 24:2.) In the weakness and disasters towards the close of her kingdom, Judah became an object of contempt to the surrounding nations, “despised “by Syria and Philistia alike. Another view less probably refers “thy reproach” to Judah’s exultation at the fall of Syria and the Philistines before the march of the Assyrians.

Ezekiel 16:57-59. As at the time of thy reproach, &c. — These words appear to begin a new sentence; which may be translated more intelligibly thus, by joining them to the following verse: “But when it was the time of thy becoming the reproach of the daughters of Syria,” &c. The words, with regard to what goes before, import thus much: In thy prosperity thou didst despise those who were no worse than thyself; but thou hast since, in thy turn, been insulted and invaded by thy neighbours, both Syrians and Philistines, whom God hath made use of as executioners of his judgments upon thee; thou hast been a remarkable instance of his vengeance, and God’s hand hath been heavy upon thee for all thine idolatries and abominations. The words relate to the frequent inroads which the Syrians and Philistines made into Judea, in the time of King Ahaz. Thou hast borne — Or, Thou shalt bear, thy lewdness, &c. — Thou shalt be punished according to thy wickedness. I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath, &c. — That solemn oath and covenant you entered into with me, to be my people, and serve no other god besides, Deuteronomy 29:12; Deuteronomy 29:14. Hereupon God threatens her, that since she had broken her oath and promise, he should not think himself obliged to make good any of the promises of favour and protection which he had made to her, but would give her up to ruin and desolation.

16:1-58 In this chapter God's dealings with the Jewish nation, and their conduct towards him, are described, and their punishment through the surrounding nations, even those they most trusted in. This is done under the parable of an exposed infant rescued from death, educated, espoused, and richly provided for, but afterwards guilty of the most abandoned conduct, and punished for it; yet at last received into favour, and ashamed of her base conduct. We are not to judge of these expressions by modern ideas, but by those of the times and places in which they were used, where many of them would not sound as they do to us. The design was to raise hatred to idolatry, and such a parable was well suited for that purpose.Thy reproach - Rather, the "reproach." In his march toward Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar attacked and overthrew Damascus and other Syrian towns. The Jews exulted, not foreseeing that this was but a precursor of that ruin which should discover their own wickedness. 57. Before thy wickedness was discovered—manifested to all, namely, by the punishment inflicted on thee.

thy reproach of … Syria and … Philistines—the indignity and injuries done thee by Syria and the Philistines (2Ki 16:5; 2Ch 28:18; Isa 9:11, 12).

The time of her pride, security, and sin was when they were not afflicted, and despised by the Syrians.

Thy wickedness; thy abominable doings were made known to thyself, to thy friends and enemies too, by the execution of the severe menaces and sad predictions of my prophets, who foretold what punishments and what shame this sinful people should suffer by the hands of the Syrians, who should waste the Jews, and deride them, burn their cities, and carry citizens captives, as in the time of Ahaz over Judah, and Rezin over Syria.

All that are round about; the nations that were round about in vicinity, and combined in league against the house of David.

Her; either Jerusalem or Syria; rather this latter, the chief whereof were the Philistines, called here the daughters of the Philistines, as Isaiah 9:12.

Despise thee; contemn thee, as an impotent as well as wicked people, a people which had deserved to be enslaved, and over whom they might at pleasure make a king.

Before thy wickedness was discovered,.... By the punishment of it, by the judgments of God brought upon them; then they were humbled, who before were proud and haughty; and might speak and think of the vengeance of God on Sodom, which before they made no mention of. It is a sad thing only to know sin, and to have it discovered only by the punishment of it:

as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines; this seems to refer to the times of Ahaz, when the Syrians smote the men of Judah; and carried many of them captive; and the Philistines invaded the cities of the low country, and southern parts of Judah, and took many of them, 2 Chronicles 28:5; at which time the wickedness of the Jews was discovered; and it was a plain case they had sinned against the Lord, by his suffering their enemies to come upon them, and prevail over them; which was to their reproach. The Syrians reproached them, and so did the Philistines:

which despise thee round about; they spoiled and plundered them on all sides; and treated them with scorn and contempt, who before were formidable and terrible to them: thus it is with a people when they are left of God, they are despised by men.

Before thy wickedness was {i} uncovered, as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are around {k} her, the daughters of the Philistines, who despise thee on every side.

(i) That is, till you were brought under by the Syrians and Philistines, 2Ch 28:19.

(k) Which joined with the Syrians, or compassed about Jerusalem.

57. was discovered] i.e. manifested. According to modes of thinking then prevalent calamity was the accepted proof of wickedness. Jerusalem’s wickedness was laid bare when her great calamities fell upon her, Lamentations 1:8-9.

the time of thy reproach] Better, with R.V. as at the time of the reproach of the daughters of Syria—which is that which they cast upon Jerusalem, not conversely as A.V. The “time” must be the present, not any previous time, and the language expresses this awkwardly. LXX. read: as now thou art the reproach (“now” for “time,” and either finding or inserting the pron. “thou”). The rendering: before thy wickedness was discovered as (it is) now, a reproach &c. (Hitz. Corn.), is scarcely a Heb. construction. It would be easiest to change “time” into “thou” (cf. the opposite change “which” into “ten” ch. Ezekiel 40:49): as thou art the reproach.

Syria, and … round about her] The mention of Syria (Heb. Aram) is strange when the reference is to the downfall of Jerusalem. For Aram Syriac gives Edom (d. for r, cf. ch. Ezekiel 27:16) which is more natural (cf. ch. Ezekiel 35:12 seq., Ezekiel 25:5; Ezekiel 25:12; Ezekiel 25:15). Vulg. reads, round about thee, while Syr. wants the whole phrase. The ref. is to Jerusalem in any case. Ezekiel nowhere else brings Syria into connexion with Israel.

which despise thee] Or, do despite unto thee; cf. ch. Ezekiel 25:15.

Verse 57. - For thy reproach, read, with the Revised Version, the reproach. The words point primarily to the disasters, not of Judah, but to those that fell on the cities of Syria and Philistia - the Assyrian and Chaldean invasions. (For the grouping of the two nations as enemies of Judab, see Isaiah 9:12; and for special acts of hostility, 2 Kings 15:37; 2 Kings 16:6; and 2 Chronicles 28:18, 19.) Ezekiel 16:57But this disgrace will not be the conclusion. Because of the covenant which the Lord concluded with Israel, Jerusalem will not continue in misery, but will attain to the glory promised to the people of God; - and that in such a way that all boasting will be excluded, and Judah, with the deepest shame, will attain to a knowledge of the true compassion of God. - Yet, in order that all false confidence in the gracious promises of God may be prevented, and the sinful nation be thoroughly humbled, this last section of our word of God announces the restoration of Sodom and Samaria as well as that of Jerusalem, so that all boasting on the part of Israel is precluded. - Ezekiel 16:53. And I will turn their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, and the captivity of thy captivity in the midst of them: Ezekiel 16:54. That thou mayest bear thy shame, and be ashamed of all that thou hast done, in comforting them. Ezekiel 16:55. And thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, will return to their first estate; and Samaria and her daughters will return to their first estate; and thou and thy daughters will return to your first estate. Ezekiel 16:56. And Sodom thy sister was not a discourse in thy mouth in the day of thy haughtinesses, Ezekiel 16:57. Before thy wickedness was disclosed, as at the time of the disgrace of the daughters of Aram and all its surroundings, the daughters of the Philistines, who despised thee round about. Ezekiel 16:58. Thy wrong-doing and all thy abominations, thou bearest them, is the saying of Jehovah. Ezekiel 16:59. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, And I do with thee as thou hast done, who hast despised oath to break covenant. Ezekiel 16:60. And I shall remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and shall establish an everlasting covenant with thee. Ezekiel 16:61. And thou wilt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou receivest thy sisters, those greater than thou to those smaller than thou; and I give them to thee for daughters, although they are not of thy covenant. Ezekiel 16:62. And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou wilt perceive that I am Jehovah; Ezekiel 16:63. That thou mayest remember, and be ashamed, and there may no longer remain to thee an opening of the mouth because of thy disgrace, when I forgive thee all that thou hast done, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - The promise commences with an announcement of the restoration, not of Jerusalem, but of Sodom and Samaria. The two kingdoms, or peoples, upon which judgment first fell, shall also be the first to receive mercy; and it will not be till after then that Jerusalem, with the other cities of Judah, will also be restored to favour, in order that she may bear her disgrace, and be ashamed of her sins (Ezekiel 16:54); that is to say, not because Sodom and Samaria have borne their punishment for a longer time, but to the deeper shaming, the more complete humiliation of Jerusalem. שׁוּב שׁבוּת, to turn the captivity, not "to bring back the captives" (see the comm. on Deuteronomy 30:3), is here used in a figurative sense for restitutio in statum integritatis, according to the explanation given of the expression in Ezekiel 16:55. No carrying away, or captivity, took place in the case of Sodom. The form שׁבית, which the Chetib has adopted several times here, has just the same meaning as שׁבוּת. שׁבית שׁביתיך does not mean the captives of thy captivity, since the same word cannot be used first as a concrete and then as an abstract noun; nor does the combination serve to give greater emphasis, in the sense of a superlative - viz. "the captivity of thy captivities, equivalent to thy severest or most fearful captivity," - as Stark and Hvernick suppose. The genitive must be taken as explanatory, as already proposed by Hengstenberg and Kliefoth: "captivity, which is thy captivity;" and the pleonastic mode of expression is chosen to give greater prominence to the thought, "thine own captivity," than would have been given to it by a suffix attached to the simple noun. בּתוכהנה, in their midst, does not imply, that just as Judah was situated now in the very midst between Sodom and Samaria, so its captives would return home occupying the centre between those two (Hitzig); the reference is rather to fellowship in captivity, to the fact that Jerusalem would share the same fate, and endure the same punishment, as Samaria and Sodom (Hengst., Klief.). The concluding words of Ezekiel 16:54, "in that thou comfortest them," do not refer to the sins already committed by Israel (as Kliefoth, who adopts the rendering, "didst comfort them," imagines), but to the bearing of such disgrace as makes Jerusalem ashamed of its sins. By bearing disgrace, i.e., by its endurance of well-merited and disgraceful punishment, Jerusalem consoles her sisters Samaria and Sodom; and that not merely by fellowship in misfortune, - solamen miseris etc. , (Calvin, Hitzig, etc.), - but by the fact that from the punishment endured by Jerusalem, both Samaria and Sodom can discern the righteousness of the ways of God, and find therein a foundation for their hope, that the righteous God will bring to an end the merited punishment as soon as its object has been attained (see the comm. on Ezekiel 14:22-23). The turning of the captivity, according to Ezekiel 16:55, will consist in the fact that Sodom, Samaria, and Jerusalem return לקדמתן, to their original state. קדמה does not mean the former or earlier state, but the original state, as in Isaiah 23:7. Kliefoth is wrong, however, in explaining this as meaning: "as they were, when they came in Adam from the creative hand of God." The original state is the status integritatis, not as a state of sinlessness or original righteousness and holiness, - for neither Jerusalem on the one hand, nor Samaria and Sodom on the other, had ever been in such a state as this, - but as an original state of glory, in which they were before they had fallen and sunk into ungodly ways.

But how could a restoration of Sodom and her daughters (Gomorrah, etc.) be predicted, when the destruction of these cities was accompanied by the sweeping away of all their inhabitants from off the face of the earth? Many of the commentators have attempted to remove the difficulty by assuming that Sodom here stands for the Moabites and Ammonites, who were descendants of Lot, who escaped from Sodom. But the untenableness of such an explanation is obvious, from the simple fact that the Ammonites and Moabites were no more Sodomites than Lot himself. And the view expressed by Origen and Jerome, and lately revived by Hvernick, that Sodom is a typical name denoting heathenism generally, is also unsatisfactory. The way in which Sodom is classed with Samaria and Jerusalem, and the special reference to the judgment that fell upon Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49, Ezekiel 16:50), point undeniably to the real Sodom. The heathen world comes into consideration only so far as this, that the pardon of a heathen city, so deeply degraded as Sodom, carries with it the assurance that mercy will be extended to all heathen nations. We must therefore take the words as referring to the literal Sodom. Yet we certainly cannot for a moment think of any earthly restoration of Sodom. For even if we could conceive of a restoration of the cities that were destroyed by fire, and sunk into the depths of the Dead Sea, it is impossible to form any conception of an earthly and corporeal restoration of the inhabitants of those cities, who ere destroyed at the same time; and in this connection it is chiefly to them that the words refer. This does not by any means prove that the thing itself is impossible, but simply that the realization of the prophecy must be sought for beyond the present order of things, in one that extends into the life everlasting.

As Ezekiel 16:55 elucidates the contents of Ezekiel 16:53, so the thought of Ezekiel 16:54 is explained and still further expanded in Ezekiel 16:56 and Ezekiel 16:57. The meaning of Ezekiel 16:56 is a subject of dispute; but so much is indisputable, that the attempt to Kliefoth to explain Ezekiel 16:56 and Ezekiel 16:57 as referring to the future, and signifying that in the coming day of its glory Israel will no longer carry Sodom as a legend in its mouth as it does now, does violence to the grammar, and is quite a mistake. It is no more allowable to take ולא היתה as a future, in the sense of "and will not be," than to render כּמו עת חרפּת redner ot naht " (Ezekiel 16:57), "it will be like the time of scorn." Moreover, the application of בּיום גּאוניך to the day of future glory is precluded by the fact that in Ezekiel 16:49 the word גּאון is used to denote the pride which was the chief sin of Sodom; and the reference to this verse very naturally suggests itself. The meaning of Ezekiel 16:56 depends upon the rendering to be given to לשׁמוּעה. The explanation given by Rosenmller and Maurer, after Jerome, - viz. non erat in auditione, i.e., non audiebatur, thou didst not think at all of Sodom, didst not take its name into thy mouth, - is by no means satisfactory. שׁמוּעה means proclamation, discourse, and also report. If we adopt the last, we must take the sentence as interrogatory (לוא for הלוא), as Hengstenberg and Hitzig have done. Although this is certainly admissible, there are no clear indexes here to warrant our assumption of an interrogation, which is only hinted at by the tone. We therefore prefer the meaning "discourse:" thy sister Sodom was not a discourse in thy mouth in the day of thy haughtinesses, that thou didst talk of the fate of Sodom and lay it to heart when thou wast in prosperity. The plural גּאוניך is more emphatic than the singular. The day of the haughtinesses is defined in Ezekiel 16:57 as the period before the wickedness of Judah had been disclosed. This was effected by means of the judgment, which burst upon Jerusalem on the part of Babylon. Through this judgment Jerusalem is said to have been covered with disgrace, as at the time when the daughters of Aram, i.e., the cities of Syria, and those of the Philistines (Aram on the east, and the Philistines on the west, Isaiah 9; 11), scorned and maltreated it round about. This refers primarily to the times of Ahaz, when the Syrians and Philistines pressed hard upon Judah (2 Kings 15:37; 2 Kings 16:6; and 2 Chronicles 28:18-19). It must not be restricted to this, however; but was repeated in the reign of Jehoiachin, when Jehovah sent troops of the Chaldaeans, Aramaeans, Ammonites, and Moabites against him, to destroy Judah (2 Kings 24:2). It is true, the Philistines are not mentioned here; but from the threat in Ezekiel 25:15, we may infer that they also attempted at the same time to bring disgrace upon Judah. שׁאט equals שׁוּט, according to Aramaean usage, to treat contemptuously, or with repudiation (cf. Ezekiel 28:24, Ezekiel 28:26). Jerusalem will have to atone for this pride, and to bear its wrong-doing and its abominations (Ezekiel 16:58). For zimmâh, see the comm. on Ezekiel 16:43. The perfect נשׂאתים indicates that the certainty of the punishment is just as great as if it had already commenced. The reason assigned for this thought in Ezekiel 16:59 forms a transition to the further expansion of the promise in Ezekiel 16:60. ועשׂית (Ezekiel 16:59) has been correctly pointed by the Masoretes as the 1st person. The ו is copulative, and shows that what follows forms the concluding summary of all that precedes. אותך for אתּך, as in Ezekiel 16:60, etc., to deal with any one. The construction of עשׂה, with an accusative of the person, to treat any one, cannot be sustained either from Ezekiel 17:17 and Ezekiel 23:25, or from Jeremiah 33:9; and Gesenius is wrong in assuming that we meet with it in Isaiah 42:16.

Despising the oath (אלה) points back to Deuteronomy 29:11-12, where the renewal of the covenant concluded at Sinai is described as an entrance into the covenant and oath which the Lord then made with His people. - But even if Israel has faithlessly broken the covenant, and must bear the consequence punishment, the unfaithfulness of man can never alter the faithfulness of God. This is the link of connection between the resumption and further expansion of the promise in Ezekiel 16:60 and the closing words of Ezekiel 16:59. The remembrance of His covenant ins mentioned in Leviticus 26:42 and Leviticus 26:45 as the only motive that will induce God to restore Israel to favour again, when the humiliation effected by the endurance of punishment has brought it to a confession of its sins. The covenant which God concluded with Israel in the day of its youth, i.e., when He led it out of Egypt, He will establish as an everlasting covenant. Consequently it is not an entirely new covenant, but simply the perfecting of the old one for everlasting duration. For the fact itself, compare Isaiah 55:3, where the making of the everlasting covenant is described as granting the stedfast mercies of David, i.e., as the fulfilment of the promise given to David (2 Samuel 7). This promise is called by David himself an everlasting covenant which God had made with him (2 Samuel 23:5). And the assurance of its everlasting duration was to be found in the fact that this covenant did not rest upon the fulfilment of the law, but simply upon the forgiving grace of God (compare Ezekiel 16:63 with Jeremiah 31:31-34). - The bestowal of this grace will put Israel in remembrance of its ways, and fill it with shame. In this sense, וזכרתּ (and thou shalt remember), in Ezekiel 16:61, is placed side by side with זכרתּי (I will remember) in Ezekiel 16:60. This shame will seize upon Israel when the establishment of an everlasting covenant is followed by the greater and smaller nations being associated with it in glory, and incorporated into it as children, though they are not of its covenant. The greater and smaller sisters are the greater and smaller nations, as members of the universal family of man, who are to be exalted to the glory of one large family of God. The restoration, which is promised in Ezekiel 16:53 and Ezekiel 16:55 to Sodom and Samaria alone, is expanded here into a prophecy of the reception of all the greater and smaller nations into fellowship in the glory of the people of God. We may see from this that Sodom and Samaria represent the heathen nations generally, as standing outside the Old Testament dispensation: Sodom representing those that were sunk in the deepest moral degradation, and Samaria those that had fallen from the state of grace. The attitude in which these nations stand towards Israel in the everlasting covenant of grace, is defined as the relation of daughters to a mother. If, therefore, Israel, which has been thrust out among the heathen on account of its deep fall, is not to return to its first estate till after the return of Sodom, which has been destroyed, and Samaria, which has been condemned, the election of Israel before all the nations of the earth to be the first-born son of Jehovah will continue unchanged, and Israel will form the stem of the new kingdom of God, into which the heathen nations will be incorporated. The words, "and not of thy covenant," have been taken by most of the commentators in the sense of, "not because thou hast kept the covenant;" but this is certainly incorrect. For even if "thy covenant" really formed an antithesis to "my covenant" (Ezekiel 16:60 and Ezekiel 16:62), "thy covenant" could not possibly signify the fulfilment of thy covenant obligations. The words belong to bânōth (daughters), who are thereby designated as extra-testamental - i.e., as not included in the covenant which God made with Israel, and consequently as having no claim by virtue of that covenant to participate in the glory of the everlasting covenant which is hereafter to be established. - When this covenant has been established, Israel will know that God is Jehovah, the unchangeably true (for the meaning of the name Jehovah, see the commentary on Genesis 2:4); that it may call to mind, sc. both its sinful abominations and the compassionate grace of God, and be so filled with shame and penitence that it will no more venture to open its mouth, either for the purpose of finding excuses for its previous fall, or to murmur against God and His judgments, - namely, when the Lord forgives all its sins by establishing the everlasting covenant, the kernel and essence of which consists in the forgiveness of sins (cf. Jeremiah 31:34). Thus will the experience of forgiving grace complete what judgment has already begun, viz., the transformation of proud and haughty sinners into meek and humble children of God, for whom the kingdom has been prepared from the beginning.

This thought brings the entire prophecy to a close, - a prophecy which embraces the whole of the world's history and the New Testament, the parallel to which is contained in the apostle's words, "God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all" (Romans 11:32). - As the punishment threatened to the adulteress, i.e., to the nation of Israel that had despised its God and King, had been fulfilled upon Jerusalem and the Jews, and is in process of fulfilment still, so has the promise also been already fulfilled, so far as its commencement is concerned, though the complete and ultimate fulfilment is only to be expected in time to come. The turning of the captivity, both of Jerusalem and her daughters, and of Samaria and her daughters, commenced with the establishment of the everlasting covenant, i.e., of the covenant made through Christ, and with the reception of the believing portion of Israel in Judaea, Samaria, and Galilee (Acts 8:5., Acts 8:25, Acts 9:31). And the turning of the captivity of Sodom commenced with the spread of the gospel among the heathen, and their entrance into the kingdom of Christ, inasmuch as Sodom with her daughters represents the morally degraded heathen world. Their reception into the kingdom of heaven, founded by Christ on earth, forms the commencement of the return of the forgiven to their first estate on the "restitution of all things," i.e., the restoration of all moral relations to their original normal constitution (compare Acts 3:21 and Meyer's comm. thereon with Matthew 17:11), which will attain its perfection in the παλιγγενεσία, the general restoration of the world to its original glory (compare Matthew 19:28 with Romans 8:18. and 2 Peter 3:13). The prophecy before us in Ezekiel 16:55 clearly points to this final goal. It is true that one might understand the return of Jerusalem and Samaria to their original state, which is predicted here as simply relating to the pardon of the covenant nation, whose apostasy had led to the rejection of both its parts; and this pardon might be sought in its reception into the kingdom of Christ and its restoration as the people of God. In that case the complete fulfilment of our prophecy would take place during the present aeon in the spread of the gospel among all nations, and the conversion of that portion of Israel which still remained hardened after the entrance of the full number of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God. But this limitation would be out of harmony with the equality of position assigned to Sodom and her daughters on the one hand, and Samaria and Jerusalem on the other. Though Sodom is not merely a type of the heathen world, the restoration of Sodom and her daughters cannot consist in the reception of the descendants of the cities on which the judgment fell into the kingdom of God or the Christian Church, since the peculiar manner in which those cities were destroyed prevented the possibility of any of the inhabitants remaining alive whose descendants could be converted to Christ and blessed in Him during the present period of the world. On the other hand, the opinion expressed by C. a Lapide, that the restoration of Sodom is to be referred and restricted to the conversion of the descendants of the inhabitants of Zoar, which was spared for Lot's sake, when the other cities of the plain were destroyed, is too much at variance with the words of the passage to allow of our accepting such a solution as this. The turning of the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, i.e., the forgiveness of the inhabitants of Sodom and the other cities of the plain, points beyond the present aeon, and the realization can only take place on the great day of the resurrection of the dead in the persons of the former inhabitants of Sodom and the neighbouring cities. And in the same way the restoration of Samaria and Jerusalem will not be completely fulfilled till after the perfecting of the kingdom of Christ in glory at the last day.

Consequently the prophecy before us goes beyond Romans 11:25., inasmuch as it presents, not to the covenant nation only, but, in Samaria and Sodom, to all the larger and smaller heathen nations also, the prospect of being eventually received into the everlasting kingdom of God; although, in accordance with the main purpose of this prophetic word, namely, to bring the pride of Israel completely down, this is simply hinted at, and no precise intimation is given of the manner in which the predicted apokatastasis will occur. But notwithstanding this indefiniteness, we must not explain away the fact itself by arbitrary expositions, since it is placed beyond all possible doubt by other passages of Scriptures. The words of our Lord in Matthew 10:15 and Matthew 11:24, to the effect that it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom than for Capernaum and every other city that shall have rejected the preaching of the gospel, teach most indisputably that the way of mercy stands open still even for Sodom itself, and that the judgment which has fallen upon it does not carry with it the final decision with regard to its inhabitants. For Sodom did not put away the perfect revelation of mercy and salvation. If the mighty works which were done in Capernaum had been done in Sodom, it would have stood to the present day (Matthew 11:23). And from this it clearly follows that all the judgments which fell before the time of Christ, instead of carrying with them the final decision, and involving eternal damnation, leave the possibility of eventual pardon open still. The last judgment, which is decisive for eternity, does not take place till after the full revelation of grace and truth in Christ. Not only will the gospel be preached to all nations before the end comes (Matthew 24:14), but even to the dead; to the spirits in prison, who did not believe at the time of Noah, it has been already preached, at the time when Christ went to them in spirit, in order that, although judged according to man's way in the flesh, they might live according to God's way in the spirit (1 Peter 3:19; 1 Peter 4:6). What the apostle teaches in the first of these passages concerning the unbelievers before the flood, and affirms in the second concerning the dead in general, is equally applicable according to our prophecy to the Sodomites who were judged after man's way in the flesh, and indeed generally to all heathen nations who either lived before Christ or departed from this earthly life without having heard the gospel preached. - It is according to these distinct utterances of the New Testament that the prophecy before us respecting the apokatastasis of Sodom, Samaria, and Jerusalem is to be interpreted; and this is not to be confounded with the heretical doctrine of the restoration, i.e., the ultimate salvation of all the ungodly, and even of the devil himself. If the preaching of the gospel precedes the last judgment, the final sentence in the judgment will be regulated by the attitude assumed towards the gospel by both the living and the dead. All souls that obstinately reject it and harden themselves in unbelief, will be given up to everlasting damnation. The reason why the conversion of Sodom and Samaria is not expressly mentioned, is to be found in the general tendency of the promise, in which the simple fact is announced without the intermediate circumstances, for the purpose of humbling Jerusalem. The conversion of Jerusalem also is not definitely stated to be the condition of pardon, but this is assumed as well known from the words of Leviticus 26, and is simply implied in the repeated assertion that Jerusalem will be seized with the deepest shame on account of the pardon which she receives.

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