Micah 7:14
Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
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(14) Feed thy people with thy rod.—Or, with thy shepherds crook. The prophet lifts up his prayer for the people, either dwelling “alone” among the idolaters of Babylon—among them, but not of them—or living a nation, mysteriously apart from other nations, returned from Babylon, and settled on the fruitful mountain range of Carmel, or in the rich pasture land on the east of Jordan. The extraordinary fertility of this “Land of Promise” has been recently brought into prominence, and its future prosperity predicted in glowing colours by Mr. Oliphant, in The Land of Gilead.

Micah 7:14. Feed thy people with thy rod, &c. — This seems to be a prayer which the prophet broke out into on this occasion, beseeching God to take his people again under his peculiar protection and care; which is the meaning of feeding them with his rod, or pastoral crook: the flock of thy heritage, which dwell solitarily — That is, that peculiar people, which thou hast separated from the rest of the world, or caused to live apart by themselves, that they might maintain among them, and preserve uncorrupted, thy pure worship. In the wood, in the midst of Carmel — Called the forest of Carmel, Isaiah 37:24, and spoken of as a place remarkable for its fruitfulness. Therefore, to feed in the midst of Carmel, implied giving them great plenty. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, &c. — These parts of Canaan were noted for their rich pastures, and therefore this implies the same as the foregoing sentence, namely, Bless them with plenty of every thing, as was the case formerly.

7:14-20 When God is about to deliver his people, he stirs up their friends to pray for them. Apply spiritually the prophet's prayer to Christ, to take care of his church, as the great Shepherd of the sheep, and to go before them, while they are here in this world as in a wood, in this world but not of it. God promises in answer to this prayer, he will do that for them which shall be repeating the miracles of former ages. As their sin brought them into bondage, so God's pardoning their sin brought them out. All who find pardoning mercy, cannot but wonder at that mercy; we have reason to stand amazed, if we know what it is. When the Lord takes away the guilt of sin, that it may not condemn us, he will break the power of sin, that it may not have dominion over us. If left to ourselves, our sins will be too hard for us; but God's grace shall be sufficient to subdue them, so that they shall not rule us, and then they shall not ruin us. When God forgives sin, he takes care that it never shall be remembered any more against the sinner. He casts their sins into the sea; not near the shore-side, where they may appear again, but into the depth of the sea, never to rise again. All their sins shall be cast there, for when God forgives sin, he forgives all. He will perfect that which concerns us, and with this good work will do all for us which our case requires, and which he has promised. These engagements relate to Christ, and the success of the gospel to the end of time, the future restoration of Israel, and the final prevailing of true religion in all lands. The Lord will perform his truth and mercy, not one jot or tittle of it shall fall to the ground: faithful is He that has promised, who also will do it. Let us remember that the Lord has given the security of his covenant, for strong consolation to all who flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them in Christ Jesus.Feed Thy people with Thy rod - The day of final deliverance was still a great way off. There was a weary interval before them of chastisement, suffering, captivity. So Micah lays down his pastoral office by committing his people to Him who was their true and abiding Shepherd. who that has had the pastoral office, has not thought, as the night drew near in which no man can work, "what will be after him?" Micah knew and foretold the outline. It was for his people a passing through the valley of the shadow of death. Micah then commits them to Him, who had Himself committed them to him, who alone could guide them through it. It is a touching parting with his people; a last guidance of those whom he had taught, reproved, rebuked, in vain, to Him the Good Shepherd who led Israel like a flock. The rod is at times the shepherd's staff Leviticus 27:32; Psalm 23:4, although more frequently the symbol of chastisement. God's chastisement of His people is an austere form of His love. So He says, "If his children forsake My law, I will visit their offences with a rod and their sin with scourges: nevertheless My loving-kindness will I not utterly take from them" Psalm 89:31, Psalm 89:33.

The flock of Thine inheritance - So Moses had appealed to God, "Destroy not Thy people and Thine inheritance which Thou hast redeemed through Thy greatness - They are Thy people and Thine inheritance" Deuteronomy 9:26, Deuteronomy 9:29; and Solomon, in his dedication-prayer, that, on their repentance in their captivity, God would forgive His people, "for they be Thy people and Thine inheritance which Thou broughtest forth out of Egypt" 1 Kings 8:51; and Asaph, "O Lord, the pagan are come into Thine inheritance" Psalm 79:1; and again, "Why doth Thine anger smoke against the sheep of Thy pasture? Remember the tribe of Thine inheritance which Thou hast redeemed" Psalm 74:1-2; and Joel, "Spare Thy people and give not Thine heritage to reproach" Joel 2:17; and a Psalmist, "They break in pieces Thy people, O Lord, and afflict Thine heritage" Psalm 94:5; and Isaiah, "Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of Thine inheritance" Isaiah 63:17.

The appeal excludes all merits. Not for any deserts of their's, (for these were but evil,) did the prophets teach them to pray; but because they were God's property. It was His Name, which would be dishonored in them; it was His work, which would seemingly come to nothing; it was He, who would be thought powerless to save. Again, it is not God's way, to leave half-done what He has begun. "Jesus, having loved His own which were in the world, loved them unto the end" John 13:1. God's love in creating us and making us His, is the earnest, if we will, of His everlasting love. We have been the objects of His everlasting thought, of His everlasting love. Though we have forfeited all claim to Ills love, He has not forfeited the work of His Hands; Jesus has nor forfeited the price of His Blood. So holy men have prayed; , "I believe that Thou hast redeemed me by Thy Blood: permit not the price of the Ransom to perish." "O Jesus Christ, my only Saviour, let not Thy most bitter Passion and Death be lost or wasted in me, miserable sinner!" .

Which dwell solitarily, or alone - Micah uses the words of Balaam, when he had been constrained by God to bless Israel. "The people shall dwell alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations" Numbers 23:9. Moses had repeated them, "Israel shall dwell in safety alone" Deuteronomy 33:28. This aloneness among other nations, then, was a blessing, springing from God's being in the midst of them Exodus 33:16, Deuteronomy 4:7, the deeds which He did for them Exodus 34:10; Deuteronomy 4:3, the law which He gave Deuteronomy 4:8, Deuteronomy 4:33. So Moses prayed, "Wherein shall it be known here, that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight?" Exodus 33:16, is it "not in that Thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are on the face of the earth". It was, then, a separate appeal to God by all His former loving-kindness, whereby He had severed and elected His people for Himself.

In the wood, in the midst of Carmel - God "turneth a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water and dry ground into watersprings" Psalm 107:34, Psalm 107:5. Isaiah at the same time used the like image, that "Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field (Carmel), and the fruitful field (Carmel) shall be esteemed as a forest" Isaiah 29:17. The wild forest was to be like the rich domestic exuberance of Carmel (see the note at Amos 1:2). He would say, "Feed Thy people in Babylon, which is to them a wild homeless tract, that it may be to them as their own peaceful Carmel." Without God, all the world is a wilderness; with God, the wilderness is Paradise.

Let them feed in Basha and Gilead - The former words were a prayer for their restoration. Gilead and Bashan were the great pasture-countries of Palestine (see the note at Amos 1:3, vol. i. p. 234; iv. L p 280), , "a wide tableland, with undulating downs clothed with rich grass throughout," where the cattle ranged freely.

They were the first possessions, which God had bestowed upon Israel; the first, which they forfeited. Micah prays that God, who protected them in their desolation, would restore and protect them in the green pasture where He placed them. They are a prayer still to the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep John 10:11, John 10:15, our Lord Jesus Christ, that He would feed His flock whom He has redeemed, who have been given to Him as an inheritance Psalm 2:8, the little flock Luke 12:32, to which it is the Fathers good pleasure to give the kingdom, which cleaveth to Him and shall be heirs with Him Romans 8:17. Cyril: "Christ feedeth His own with a rod, guiding them gently, and repressing by gentle fears the tendency of believers to listlessness. He bruiseth as with a rod of Iron, not them, but the rebellious disobedient and proud, who receive not the faith; believers He instructs and forms tenderly, feeds them among the lilies Sol 6:3, and leads them into good pastures and rich places, namely the divinely-inspired Scriptures, making the hidden things thereof clear through the Spirit to those of understanding, that they "may grow up unto Him in all things which is the Head, even Christ" Ephesians 4:15, with minds well-fed and nourished and gladdened with all spiritual delights.

But the chosen and elect dwell solitarily, being apart from the rest who think only of the things of earth, and give themselves to the pleasures of sense. So then these, having the mind at rest, freed from the vain and abominable tumults, are placed apart as in a wood and in a mountain. By the wood you may understand, the rich and varied and solid instruction (as it were trees and flowers) both in doctrine and life; by the mountain, what is high and lofty. For none of the wisdom, accounted of in the Church, is low. They are "fed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old", rich pastures; for the mind of the holy is beautified, delighting itself in the contemplation of the inspired Scriptures, and filled, as it were, with a certain richness, and shares without stint all excellence in though or in deed; and that, not for a brief and narrow season, but forever. For what gladdeneth the flesh falleth therewith and fadeth and hasteth away like a shadow; but the participation of the good things from above and of the Spirit, stretcheth out along endless ages."

14. Feed thy people—Prayer of the prophet, in the name of his people to God, which, as God fulfils believing prayer, is prophetical of what God would do. When God is about to deliver His people, He stirs up their friends to pray for them.

Feed—including the idea of both pastoral rule and care over His people (Mic 5:4, Margin), regarded as a flock (Ps 80:1; 100:3). Our calamity must be fatal to the nation, unless Thou of Thy unmerited grace, remembering Thy covenant with "Thine heritage" (De 4:20; 7:6; 32:9), shalt restore us.

thy rod—the shepherd's rod, wherewith He directs the flock (Ps 23:4). No longer the rod of punishment (Mic 6:9).

which dwell solitarily in the wood, in … Carmel—Let Thy people who have been dwelling as it were in a solitude of woods (in the world, but not of it), scattered among various nations, dwell in Carmel, that is, where there are fruit-bearing lands and vineyards [Calvin]. Rather, "which are about to dwell (that is, that they may dwell) separate in the wood, in … Carmel" [Maurer], which are to be no longer mingled with the heathen, but are to dwell as a distinct people in their own land. Micah has here Balaam's prophecy in view (compare Mic 6:5, where also Balaam is referred to). "Lo, the people shall dwell alone" (Nu 23:9; compare De 33:28). To "feed in the wood in Carmel," is to feed in the rich pastures among its woods. To "sleep in the woods," is the image of most perfect security (Eze 34:25). So that the Jews' "security," as well as their distinct nationality, is here foretold. Also Jer 49:31.

Bashan—famed for its cattle (Ps 22:12; Am 4:1). Parallel to this passage is Jer 50:19. Bashan and Gilead, east of Jordan, were chosen by Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh, as abounding in pastures suited for their many cattle (Nu 32:1-42; De 3:12-17).

That this verse contains good tidings to the people of God, both to his ancient people, type of his church in gospel days, and to the church of the converted Gentiles, is agreed on all hands, for they are either a direction and command to those God doth appoint by office to be shepherds over his flock, or a prayer to God that he would please to take the care of them, which doth include somewhat more than the bare petition for the blessing. Or it is a prediction of what shall be done for them after their return out of the Babylonish captivity, or a promise made to assure and comfort them during their captivity.

Feed; so Christ directs his officers, or God appointeth Christ to do this; or so the prophet for the people, or the people for themselves, pray to God that he would be their shepherd and feed them. Or the prophet doth in the imperative, instead of the future, tell them what shall be, which is a promise express enough for their support and comfort.

Thy people; literally, Israel after the flesh, returned out of captivity; mystically, the whole Israel of God, redeemed out of a worse captivity; both a people peculiar to God through grace by covenant, and through Christ.

With thy rod; in allusion to the usage of shepherds, who guided their sheep by a pastoral staff: the peculiar and gracious providence of God over his sheep is hereby expressed, and desired or promised.

The flock of thine heritage; they are as sheep, weak, not able to defend or provide for themselves, a flock of innocent ones compared with their enemies; and, however they have been scattered, they are thine heritage still, which thou, O Lord, hast purchased of old: let them be so still, and do thou both possess, rule, feed, and preserve, Deu 4:20 32:9 Psalm 100:3.

Which dwell solitarily in the wood; feed, graciously protect and guide, those that in their present captive state are solitary, compassed with dangers from wild beasts; so thy people are in danger by cruel enemies, worse than wild beasts.

Carmel; a fruitful place and well inhabited, whether you take it for Carmel which Elijah frequented, or where Nabal dwelt, and where was rich pastures and safe feeding. Bashan; a place of note for fruitfulness in Canaan.

Gilead; equal with any of the others for plenty and safety.

As in the days of old; before the sins of the people caused their captivity; own them for thine and prosper them, O Lord, in their own land: a much like promise or prediction you have Jeremiah 1:18,19 Eze 34:25.

Feed thy people with thy rod,.... These are either the words of God the Father to Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, calling upon him to do his office as such; to feed the people he had given him, the sheep of his hand, the flock of his pasture, by his Spirit, and with his word and ordinances; see Zechariah 11:5; or of Christ to his ministers, his undershepherds, to feed his sheep and his lambs, the people committed to their care and charge, with wholesome words, with sound and good doctrine, by faithfully preaching the Gospel, and administering the ordinances to them: or rather the words of the prophet, a prayer of his to God or Christ, to take care of the people of God in their desolate state, in captivity; to guide and lead them, protect and defend them, by his power and providence, as a shepherd directs, leads, governs, and preserves his flock with his pastoral crook or rod; or, as before, to feed the church of God as a shepherd does his flock, lead them into good pastures, and secure them from all their enemies: and this, being a prayer of faith, may be considered as a prophecy or prediction of what would be; and so some render the words, "thou shalt feed thy people", &c. (h). The Targum is,

"feed thy people with thy word, the people of thine inheritance, in the age which is to be renewed;''

in the new world, the world to come; plainly referring to the times of the Messiah;

the flock of thine heritage; who are like to sheep for their harmlessness and innocence, and to a flock of them, being associated together, and folded in the church; and though but a little flock, yet the lot, the portion, the inheritance of Christ; all which is a strong reason for his feeding, keeping, and preserving them, being committed to his care and charge for that purpose:

which dwell solitary in the wood; dwell alone in the world, which is like a wood and a wilderness; separated from the men of the world; distinguished by the grace of God, chosen and called out from among them, and different from them both in principle and practice: this may have respect to the Jews, in their dispersion, living separate from and unmixed with the nations of the world; or rather to their dwelling in safety and security under the protection of the great Shepherd, the Messiah, David their Prince, when they shall be returned to their own land in the latter day:

in the midst of Carmel; or of a fruitful field, as Carmel was; enjoying all happiness and prosperity, temporal and spiritual:

let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old; places in the land of Israel famous for rich and fat pastures; and so express the great plenty of good things wished for, and which will be enjoyed by the Jews when converted to Christ, and replaced in their own land; and are an emblem of those spiritual good things, and of those rich and green pastures of the word and ordinances, which the great Shepherd is desired to lead, and does lead, his people into; see Psalm 23:1; these places are now in the hand of the Turks, and so the words may be a petition for their conversion, as well as for the Jews, that this country may no more be inhabited by Heathens, but by the Israel of God, as Gulichius (i) very well observes.

(h) "pasces", so some in Vatablus. (i) Apud Burkium in loc.

{n} Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.

(n) The Prophet prays to God to be merciful to his Church, when they would be scattered abroad as in solitary places in Babylon, and to be beneficial to them as in times past.

14. the flock of thine heritage] Comp. Psalm 28:9 ‘bless thine inheritance; feed them also;’ Psalm 95:7, ‘we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.’

which dwell solitarily] The special mission of Israel (which was to be ‘holy,’ i.e. set apart, ‘unto Jehovah’) rendered seclusion from the world a matter of primary importance. Comp. Numbers 23:9, ‘Lo, the people dwelleth alone [or, solitarily] and is not reckoned among the nations, Deuteronomy 33:28, ‘So Israel dwelleth … alone.’

in the wood, in the midst of Carmel] These words ought rather to have been attached to the following verb, so that ‘in the wood,’ &c. should be parallel to ‘in Bashan and Gilead.’ The ‘deep jungles of copse’ in the ‘rocky dells’ of Carmel form, by their luxuriance, a contrast to the bare hills and vales of the land of Judah. Comp. Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 35:2.

in Bashan and Gilead] The pastures of Bashan were as famous as its woods; in poetic language, the ‘fat bulls of Bashan’ became a symbol for the proud, unfeeling aristocracy of Israel (Psalm 22:12, Amos 4:1). Gilead too was famous for its cattle (Numbers 32:1, 1 Chronicles 5:9).

as in the days of old] i.e. probably in the days of David—the ideal period of Israel’s history (see on Micah 5:2).

14–17. Here an abrupt transition occurs. The prophet, in the name of the people, supplicates for the fulfilment of the promise of salvation.

Verses 14-17. - § 7. The prophet in the name of the people prays for this promised salvation, and the Lord assures him that his mercies shall not fail, and that the hostile nations shall be humbled. Verse 14. - Feed thy people with thy rod. The prophet prays to the Shepherd of Israel (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 80:1), beseeching him to rule and lead his people, and to find them pasture. The "rod" is the shepherd's staff (Leviticus 27:32; Psalm 23:4). The flock of thine heritage. So Israel is called (Psalm 28:9; Psalm 95:7; comp. Zephaniah 3:13). Which dwell solitarily; or, so that they dwell; separate from all other nations, religiously and physically, by institution and geo graphical position. Compare Balaam's words (Numbers 23:9; also Deuteronomy 33:28). It was Israel's special characteristic to be holy, i.e. set apart, and it was only when she observed her duty in this respect that she prospered (see Exodus 33:16). In the wood (forest) in the midst of Carmel. The forest would isolate the flock, and secure it from interference. The chief pasture lands west and east of Jordan are named, and the whole country is included in the description. (For Carmel, see note on Amos 1:2.) Bashan and Gilead were also celebrated for their rich pasture. "Bulls of Bashan" were a proverb for well fed animals, and a metaphor for bloated, proud aristocrats (Deuteronomy 32:14; Psalm 22:12; Ezekiel 39:18; Amos 4:1). Gilead was so excellently adapted for cattle that Reuben and Gad were irresistibly drawn to settle there (Numbers 32:1, 5; 1 Chronicles 5:9; see the parallel to this passage in Isaiah 65:9, 10, and Ezekiel 34:13, 14). As in the days of old; usually taken to refer to the time of Moses and Joshua, but also and more probably, to that of David and Solomon, which realized the ideal of peace and prosperity (comp. Micah 4:4). Micah 7:14The promise of salvation impels the congregation to pray that it may be granted (Micah 7:14); whereupon the Lord assures it that His covenant mercies shall be renewed, and promises the thorough humiliation of the hostile nations of the world (Micah 7:15-17). Micah 7:14. "Feed thy people with thy staff, the sheep of thine inheritance, dwelling apart, in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of the olden time." The question in dispute among commentators, whether this prayer is addressed to the Lord by the prophet on behalf of the nation, or whether the prophet is still speaking in the name of the believing church, is decided in favour of the latter by the answer addressed to the church in Micah 7:15. The Lord is addressed as the shepherd of Israel, the title by which Jacob addressed Him in Genesis 49:24 (cf. Psalm 80:2; Psalm 23:1 ff.). The prayer is related to the promise in Micah 5:3 ff., viz., that the ruler coming forth out of Bethlehem will feed in the strength of Jehovah, and involves the prayer for the sending of this ruler. "With this staff," i.e., the shepherd's staff (cf. Leviticus 27:32; Psalm 23:4), is added pictorially; and as a support to the prayer, it designates the people as the sheep of Jehovah's inheritance. צאן נחלה, instead of עם נחלה, which occurs more frequently, is occasioned by the figure of the shepherd. As the sheep need the protection of the shepherd, lest they should perish, so Israel needs the guidance of its God, that it may not be destroyed by its foes. The following apposition שׁכני לבדד determines the manner of the feeding more precisely; so that we may resolve it into the clause, "so that thy people may dwell apart." The words contain an allusion to Numbers 23:9, where Balaam describes Israel as a people separated from the rest of the nations; and to Deuteronomy 33:28, where Moses congratulates it, because it dwells in safety and alone (bâdâd, separate), under the protection of its God, in a land full of corn, new wine, etc. The church asks for the fulfilment of this blessing from Jehovah its shepherd, that it may dwell separate from the nations of the world, so that they may not be able to do it any harm; and that "in the wood in the midst of Carmel," that promontory abounding in wood and pasture land (laetis pascuis abundat: Jerome on Amos 1:2). The wood is thought of here as shutting off the flock from the world without, withdrawing it from its sight, and affording it security; and the fact that dangerous wild beasts have their home in the forest (Jeremiah 5:6; Psalm 80:14) is overlooked here, because Israel is protected from them by its own shepherd. ירעוּ, which follows, is not future, but optative, corresponding to the imperative רעה. Gilead and Bashan are also named as portions of the land that were rich in pasture (cf. Numbers 32:1 ff.), namely, of the land to the east of the Jordan, Carmel belonging to the western portion of Canaan. These three portions individualize the whole of the territory which Israel received for its inheritance, and not merely the territory of the kingdom of the ten tribes. The simple reason why no districts in the kingdom of Judah are mentioned, is that Judah possessed no woody districts abounding in grass and pasture resembling those named. Moreover, the prayer refers to the whole of Israel, or rather to the remnant of the whole nation that has been rescued from the judgment, and which will form an undivided flock under the Messiah (cf. Micah 5:2; Isaiah 11:13; Ezekiel 37:15 ff.). ימי עולם, "the days of old," are the times of Moses and Joshua, when the Lord brought Israel with His mighty arm into the possession of the promised land. The Lord answers this prayer, by promising, according to His abundant goodness, more than the church has asked. Micah 7:15. "As in the days of thy going out of the land of Egypt will I cause it to see wonders. Micah 7:16. Nations will see it, and be ashamed of all their strength: they will lay the hand upon the mouth, their ears will become deaf. Micah 7:17. They will lick dust like the snake, like the reptiles of the earth they come trembling out of their castles: they will go trembling to Jehovah our God, and before thee will they fear." The wonders (niphlâ'ōth; cf. Exodus 3:20; Exodus 15:11; Psalm 78:11) with which the Lord formerly smote Egypt, to redeem His people out of the bondage of that kingdom of the world, will the Lord renew for His people. In צאתך the nation is addressed, whilst the suffix of the third pers. attached to אראנּוּ points back to עמּך in Micah 7:14. The miraculous deeds will make such an impression, that the heathen nations who see them will stand ashamed, dumb and deaf with alarm and horror. Ashamed of all their strength, i.e., because all their strength becomes impotence before the mighty acts of the Almighty God. Laying the hand upon the mouth is a gesture expressive of reverential silence from astonishment and admiration (cf. Judges 18:19; Job 21:5, etc.). Their ears shall become deaf "from the thunder of His mighty acts, Job 26:14, the qōl hâmōn of Isaiah 33:8" (Hitzig). With this description of the impression made by the wonderful works of God, the words of God pass imperceptibly into words of the prophet, who carries out the divine answer still further in an explanatory form, as we may see from Isaiah 33:17. The heathen will submit themselves to Jehovah in the humblest fear. This is stated in Micah 7:17. Licking the dust like the serpent contains an allusion to Genesis 3:14 (cf. Psalm 72:9 and Isaiah 49:23). זחלי ארץ, earth-creepers, i.e., snakes, recals the זחלי עפר of Deuteronomy 32:24. Like snakes, when they are driven out of their hiding-place, or when charmers make them come out of their holes, so will the nations come trembling out of their castles (misgerōth as in Psalm 18:46), and tremble to Jehovah, i.e., flee to Him with trembling, as alone able to grant help (see Hosea 3:5), and fear before thee. With ממּךּ the prayer passes into an address to Jehovah, to attach to this the praise of God with which he closes his book.
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