Romans 10:19
But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses said, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
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(19) Did not Israel know that the preaching of the gospel would be thus universal, and pass over from them to the Gentiles? Yes, certainly, for Moses had warned them of this.

First.—In the order of time and of Scripture.

I will provoke you.—In requital for the idolatries of the Jews, Moses prophesied that God would bestow his favour on a Gentile nation, and so provoke their jealousy; and the Apostle sees the fulfilment of this in his own day.

No people . . . a foolish nation.—Terms used by the Jews of their Gentile neighbours. They were “no people,” because they did not stand in the same recognised relation to God. They were “a foolish nation,” because they had not received the same special revelation, but, on the contrary, worshipped stocks and stones.

10:18-21 Did not the Jews know that the Gentiles were to be called in? They might have known it from Moses and Isaiah. Isaiah speaks plainly of the grace and favour of God, as going before in the receiving of the Gentiles. Was not this our own case? Did not God begin in love, and make himself known to us when we did not ask after him? The patience of God towards provoking sinners is wonderful. The time of God's patience is called a day, light as day, and fit for work and business; but limited as a day, and there is a night at the end of it. God's patience makes man's disobedience worse, and renders that the more sinful. We may wonder at the mercy of God, that his goodness is not overcome by man's badness; we may wonder at the wickedness of man, that his badness is not overcome by God's goodness. And it is a matter of joy to think that God has sent the message of grace to so many millions, by the wide spread of his gospel.But I say ... - Still further to meet the objection, he shows that the doctrine which he was maintaining was actually taught in the Old Testament.

Did not Israel know? - Did not the Jews understand. Is it not recorded in their books, etc. that they had full opportunity to be acquainted with this truth? This question is an emphatic way of affirming that they did know. But Paul does not here state what it was that they knew. That is to be gathered from what he proceeds to say. From that it appears that he referred to the fact that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles, and that the Jews were to be cast off. This doctrine followed from what he had already maintained in Romans 10:12-13, that there was no difference in regard to the terms of salvation, and that the Jew had no particular privileges. If so, then the barrier was broken down; and if the Jews did not believe in Jesus Christ, they must be rejected. Against this was the objection in Romans 10:14-15, that they could not believe; that they had not heard; and that a preacher had not been sent to them. If, now, the apostle could show that it was an ancient doctrine of the Jewish prophets that the Gentiles should believe, and that the Jews would not believe, the whole force of the objection would vanish. Accordingly he proceeds to show that this doctrine was distinctly taught in the Old Testament.

First - First in order; as we say, in the first place.

I will provoke you - These words are taken from Deuteronomy 32:21. In that place the declaration refers to the idolatrous and wicked conduct of the Jews. God says that they had provoked him, or excited his indignation, by worshipping what was not God, that is, by idols; and he, in turn, would excite their envy and indignation by showing favors to those who were not regarded as a people; that is, to the Gentiles. They had shown favor, or affection, for what was not God, and by so doing had provoked him to anger; and he also would show favor to those whom they regarded as no people, and would thus excite their anger. Thus, he would illustrate the great principle of his government in 2 Samuel 22:26-27, "With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with the pure, thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself unsavory," that is, froward. Psalm 18:26. In this passage the great doctrine which Paul was defending is abundantly established - that the Gentiles were to be brought into the favor of God; and the cause also is suggested to be the obstinacy and rebellion of the Jews. It is not clear that Moses had particularly in view the times of the gospel; but he affirms a great principle which is applicable to those times - that if the Jews should be rebellious, and prove themselves unworthy of his favor, that favor would be withdrawn, and conferred on other nations. The effect of this would be, of course, to excite their indignation. This principle the apostle applies to his own times; and affirms that it ought to have been understood by the Jews themselves.

That are no people - That is, those whom you regard as unworthy the name of a people. Those who have no government, laws, or regular organization; who wander in tribes and clans, and who are under no settled form of society. This was the case with most barbarians; and the Jews, evidently regarded all ancient nations in this light, as unworthy the name of a people.

A foolish nation - The word "fool" means one void of understanding. But it also means one who is wicked, or idolatrous; one who contemns God. Psalm 14:1, "the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." Proverbs 1:7, "fools despise wisdom and instruction." Here it means a nation who had no understanding of the true God ἀσυνέτῳ asunetō.

I will anger - My bestowing favors on them will excite your anger. We may remark here,

(1) That God is a sovereign, and has a right to bestow his favors on whom he pleases.

(2) that when people abuse his mercies, become proud, or cold, or dead in his service, he often takes away their privileges, and bestows them on others.

(3) that the effect of his sovereignty is to excite people to anger.

Proud and wicked people are always enraged that he bestows his favors on others; and the effect of his sovereign dealings is, to provoke to anger the very people who by their sins have rejected his mercy. Hence, there is no doctrine that proud man hates so cordially as he does the doctrine of divine sovereignty; and none that will so much test the character of the wicked.

19. But I say, Did not Israel know?—know, from their own Scriptures, of God's intention to bring in the Gentiles?

First—that is First in the prophetic line [De Wette].

Moses saith, &c.—"I will provoke you to jealousy ('against') [them that are] not a nation, and against a nation without understanding will I anger you" (De 32:21). In this verse God warns His ancient people that because they had (that is, in aftertimes would) moved Him to jealousy with their "no-gods," and provoked Him to anger with their vanities, He in requital would move them to jealousy by receiving into His favor a "no-people," and provoke them to anger by adopting a nation void of understanding.

Here he proves by three testimonies out of the Old Testament, that the Jews must needs have heard the sound of the gospel, together with the Gentiles; only they rejected it, when the other embraced it. And so he layeth the ground of what he was purposed to handle in the following chapter, concerning the receiving of the Gentiles, and the casting off, and after calling, of the Jews.

Did not Israel know; here something must be supplied to make up the sense neither God, or the gospel, or the righteousness of faith, or the conversion of the Gentiles. The Israelites could not well pretend ignorance, considering what Moses and Isaiah had said, in whom, or in whose writings, they were conversant.

Moses saith; viz. in Deu 32:21. Still he follows the translation of the Seventy.

I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you; here God threateneth the Jews, that he would punish them with jealousy and anger, by preferring the Gentiles before them; at the sight whereof, their hearts should be sore vexed; to behold all their privileges taken from them, and given to a people whom they accounted most vile and despicable, to be no people in regard of them, to be dogs and beasts rather than men: see Acts 13:45. Read the cited place in Deuteronomy Deu 32:21 and you will find that God speaks of this as a fit punishment upon the Jews for their idolatry. They had chosen to themselves such as were no gods; and therefore, to requite them, God would take to him such as were no people: they had chosen to themselves (as it were) another husband; and God, to be even with them, had chosen another wife. But I say, did not Israel know? Some supply the word "God", did not Israel know God? verily, they did; they knew the being and perfections of God, the unity of God, and the trinity of persons in the divine essence; they knew the will of God, and the right way of worshipping him; for they were favoured with a divine revelation; to them were committed the oracles of God, and to them belonged the giving of the "Gospel", did not Israel know the Gospel? yes, they did; they not only heard it, but knew it; not spiritually and experimentally, but nationally and speculatively, and, against the light and conviction of their own minds, obstinately rejected it with contempt: but I rather think this question refers to the calling of the Gentiles, and their own rejection; and the sense is, did not Israel know, that the Gentiles were to be called by the grace of God, and that they themselves were to be cast off? they did know this, at least something of it, though not so clearly as it is now revealed to the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; but in some measure they could not but know it, since there were such strong hints of it in the writings of the Old Testament, some of which are hereafter produced:

first Moses saith; not "Moses the first", as if there was another, or a second Moses, but either Moses, who is the first of the inspired writers, and chief of the prophets; or rather this regards order of time, Moses in the first place says so and so, for other testimonies are after cited; the passage in Moses referred to, is Deuteronomy 32:21.

I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. The Gentiles are here designed by "them that are no people": who before God, and in his sight, as all nations are, were as a drop of the bucket, as the small dust of the balance: nay, even as nothing, yea, less than nothing and vanity: likewise they were no people of any account, of any name; they were mean and contemptible, neglected and overlooked by God himself, and treated with contempt by the Jews, his professing people: and besides, they were not as yet openly and visibly the people of God; they neither called upon his name, nor were they called by his name; he had not as yet taken from among them a people for his name: these are also meant by "the foolish nation"; Jarchi (m) says, the Cuthites, or Samaritans, are intended; who were neighbours to the Jews, and greatly hated by them: but it may more rightly be applied to all the Gentiles in general, who notwithstanding their large pretensions to natural, civil, and moral wisdom, yet being without a true knowledge of God, Christ, and the Gospel, were a foolish people; and in nothing more did their folly appear, than in their idolatry and superstition. Now the Lord threatened by these people to provoke the Jews to jealousy, and to anger them; and this was but just, and by way of retaliation; for since they provoked him to jealousy and anger, by worshipping strange gods, which plainly declared their want of faith in him, affection for him, and their departure from him; it was a righteous thing in him to provoke them to jealousy of him, as if he had no affection for them, who had been so long, in some sense, an husband to them all; and as about to cast them off; and to anger them, by sending his Gospel among the Gentiles, and calling them by his grace, and making them partakers of his special favours; whereby this prophecy had its full accomplishment: for though the Jews rejected and despised the Gospel themselves, yet nothing more provoked them than that it should be carried among the Gentiles; see Acts 22:21. Now from these words of Moses, the Israelites must needs know, they could not but know that it was the will of God to call the Gentiles, and reject them.

(m) In Deuteronomy 32.21.

{13} But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by {n} them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

(13) The defender and maintainer of the Jew's cause goes on still to ask whether the Jews also did not know God, the one who called them. Isaiah, says the apostle, denies it: and witnesses that the Gospel was taken from them and given to the Gentiles, because the Jews rejected it. In addition the apostle teaches that the outward and universal calling, which is set forth by the creation of the world, is not sufficient for the knowledge of God: indeed, and that the particular calling also which is by the preaching of the word of God, is of itself of little or no efficacy, unless it is apprehended or laid hold of by faith, which is the gift of God: otherwise by unbelief it is made unprofitable, and that by the only fault of man, who can pretend no ignorance.

(n) He calls all profane people them that are no people, as they are not said to live but to die, who are appointed for everlasting condemnation.

Romans 10:19. A further possible exculpation, introduced in emphatic conformity with the preceding, and the repelling of it by means of scriptural declarations down to Romans 10:21. On ἈΛΛΆ Theodore of Mopsuestia rightly observes: ΠΆΛΙΝ ἙΤΈΡΑΝ ἈΝΤΊΘΕΣΙΝ ἘΠΆΓΕΙ.

;] surely it did not remain unknown to the Israelites? The “it” to be supplied with ἔγνω (see Nägelsbach, z. Ilias, p. 120, ed. 3) is: ὅτι εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν ἐξελεύσεται ὁ φθόγγος αὐτῶν κ.τ.λ. This universal destination of the preaching of Christ expressed in Romans 10:18 must have been known by the Jews, for long ago Moses and also Isaiah had prophesied the conversion of the Gentiles

Isaiah likewise, the refractory spirit of opposition thereto of the Jews (Romans 10:20-21). This reference of ΟὐΚ ἜΓΝΩ alone (followed also by de Wette, Fritzsche, and Tholuck) flows purely in accordance with the text from what immediately precedes, and is at the same time naturally in keeping with the contents of the corresponding biblical passages; for the conversion of the Gentiles and the universality of Christianity are one; since the former was prophesied to the Jews, the latter could not be unknown to them; and they could not therefore allege as the excuse for their unbelief: We did not know that Christianity is destined for the whole of humanity—the less could they do so, since Isaiah places before them the true source of their unbelief in their own spirit of resistance. The view of the passage which comes substantially nearest to ours, is that of Thomas Aquinas, Cornelius a Lapide, Piscator, Pareus, Toletus, Calovius, Turretine, Morus, Rosenmüller, Koppe, Benecke, Köllner, Ewald (comp. Tholuck), who supply with ΟὐΚ ἜΓΝΩ: that the gospel would pass over from the Jews to the Gentiles. So Pelagius and Theodore of Mopsuestia: τὸ τοὺς ἐξ ἐθνῶν προσειλῆφθαι εἰς τὴν εὐσέβειαν. But this is wrong, in so far as the object to be supplied is not purely borrowed from the preceding, but is already in part anticipated from what follows. Beza has vaguely and erroneously supplied Deum, with ἔγνω; Reithmayr, on the other hand, thinks no object is to be supplied; while others imagine the gospel to be the object (“Have they not learnt to know the gospel, in order to be able to believe in it?”). So Chrysostom, Vatablus, Gomarus, Hammond, Estius, and several others, including Rückert, Olshausen, van Hengel, Beyschlag, Mangold, and, with a peculiar turn, Philippi also; similarly Hofmann and others, taking up the following πρῶτος (see below). In that case—against which there is no objection in itself

ΜῊ ἸΣΡΑῊΛ ΟὐΚ ἜΓΝΩ would be so complete a parallel to ΜῊ ΟὐΚ ἬΚΟΥΣΑΝ in Romans 10:18, that here, as there, the gospel would have to be supplied. But as this is by no means necessary (in opposition to Hofmann)—since it fully satisfies the symmetry of the discourse, if in both instances ἀλλὰ λέγω has its reference to what immediately precedes—so it is directly opposed by the fact, that the following reply beginning with ΠΡῶΤΟς would not be suitable. For if we were to assume that Paul has given an indirect answer (“when he shows that the Gentiles believe, he says: How should not, could not Israel have believed, if it had willed?” Olsh.), this would only be a makeshift, in which the answer would appear the more unsuitable in proportion to its indirectness, and still leave open the possibility of the οὐκ ἔγνω. Or if we were to suppose with Rückert, that the thought is: “Want of knowledge is not the cause, but God is now putting into penal execution what He has threatened, and is allowing salvation to pass over to the Gentiles, in order thereby to convert the Jews to a better disposition,” the point of the ἜΓΝΩ would not be entered into at all, and moreover, the essential part of the interpretation would simply be supplied by the reader. This objection is at the same time valid against van Hengel, according to whom it is to be made to appear from the following prophetic quotations that Israel had indeed known, but had shamefully despised, the gospel. Or if, finally, with Philippi, we are to say that the passages from the prophets contained not a refutation, but a substantiation, of the fact that verily Israel had rejected the gospel (which rejection lies in οὐκ ἔγνω), this would be inconsistent with the interrogative form with μή (comp. on Romans 3:5), which necessarily presupposes the denial of the οὐκ ἔγνω (consequently the affirmative: ἜΓΝΩ). In entire deviation from the views just given, Reiche thinks that ἸΣΡΑΉΛ is accusative, and Θεός to be supplied as subject. “Did not God recognise Israel for His people? How could He permit it to be so blinded and hardened?” It is decisive against this view, that to supply ΘΕΌς as subject, especially after Romans 10:18, is highly arbitrary, and that the following passages of Scripture would be quite inappropriate.

ΠΡῶΤΟς] not in the sense of ΠΡΌΤΕΡΟς (which, regarded by itself, might indeed be the case according to the context; see on John 1:15); but, since Moses is quoted, with whom the testimony of God in the O. T. begins: as the first (who in Scripture comes forward in opposition to this) speaks Moses. Of the later testimonies of Scripture, Paul then contents himself with adducing only the bold divine utterances of Isaiah. Theodore of Mopsuestia well gives it: εὐθὺς Μωϋσής. Wetstein, Michaelis, Storr, Flatt, Hofmann, connect ΠΡῶΤΟς with ΟὐΚ ἜΓΝΩ. But the supposed sense: “Did not Israel first learn to know it (the gospel)?” or, as Hofmann expresses it: “Was it possibly to stand in such a position, that Israel did not obtain the first experience of it?” must have been expressed without μή.

ἐγὼ παραζ. κ.τ.λ.] Deuteronomy 32:21, almost exactly after the LXX. God there, in the song of Moses, threatens the idolatrous Israelites, that He on His part (ἐγώ) will bless a Gentile people, and thereby incite the former to jealousy and to wrath, as they had incited Him by their worship of idols. Paul recognises in this—according to the rule of the constancy of the divine ways in the history of the development of the theocracy—a type of the attaining of the Gentiles to participation in the communion of God’s people, whereby the jealousy and wrath of the Jews will be excited.

ἐπʼ οὐκ ἔθνει] בְּלֹא עָם, in respect to a not-people; for only the people of God was the real one, the people corresponding to the divine idea of a people; every other is the negation of this idea. Comp. Romans 9:25; 1 Peter 2:10. On the connection of Οὐ with nouns, cancelling the notion objectively, see Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 129; Grimm on 2Ma 4:13. Often found in Thucydides (Krüger on i. 137. 4). On ἐπί, over, on the ground, that is, on account of, comp. Demosthenes, 1448. 4 : παροξυνθέντων ἐπὶ τῷ γεγενημένῳ, Polyb. iv. 7. 5.

ἀσυνέτῳ] τί γὰρ Ἑλλήνων ἀσυνετώτερον ξύλοις καὶ λίθοις προσκεχηνότων; Theophylact. Comp. i. 21.Romans 10:19. ἀλλὰ λέγω: another attempt to introduce a plea on behalf of Israel. You cannot say, “they did not hear”; surely you do not mean to say, then, Israel did not understand? At first sight there seems an unnatural emphasis here on Israel, but this is not the case. The generality of the argument must be abandoned now, for the passages next to be quoted, which are already present to Paul’s mind, contrast Israel with the Gentiles, and so bring it into prominence; and it is in the case of Israel, of all nations, that the plea of not understanding is most out of place. Above all nations Israel ought to have understood a message from God: Israel, and inability to understand God’s Word, ought to be incompatible ideas. πρῶτος Μωυσῆς λέγει, Deuteronomy 32:21. πρῶτος suggests the beginning of a line of witnesses to this effect: virtually it means, even Moses, at the very beginning of their history. The point of the citation is not very clear. Like the passages quoted in Romans 9:25-26, it might have been adduced by Paul as a proof that the Gentiles were to be called into God’s kingdom, and called in order to rouse the Jews to jealousy; but to be in place here, there must be also the latent idea that if peoples beyond the covenant (who were not peoples at all), and unintelligent peoples (i.e., idol worshippers) could understand the Gospel, a privileged and religiously gifted people like the Jews was surely inexcusable if it failed to understand it. The same idea seems to be enforced again in Romans 10:20. Ἡσαίας δὲ ἀποτολμᾷ: “breaks out boldly” (Gifford). It was an act of great daring to speak thus to a nation with the exclusive temper of Israel, and Paul who needed the same courage in carrying the Gospel to the Gentiles was the man to see this. οἱ ἐμὲ μὴ ἐπερωτῶντες means those who put no question to me, sc., about the way of salvation. In Isaiah 65:1 the clauses occur in reverse order. What the prophet has in view is God’s spontaneous unmerited goodness, which takes the initiative, unsolicited, in showing mercy to faithless Jews who made no appeal to Him and never sought Him; the Apostle applies this, like the similar passages in Romans 9:25 f., to the reception of the Gospel by the Gentiles.[2] If God was found and recognised in His character and purposes, where all the conditions seemed so much against it, surely Israel must be inexcusable if it has missed the meaning of the Gospel. The very calling of the Gentiles, predicted and interpreted as it is in the passages quoted, should itself have been a message to the Jews, which they could not misunderstand; it should have opened their eyes as with a lightning flash to the position in which they stood—that of men who had forfeited their place among the people of God—and provoked them, out of jealousy, to vie with these outsiders in welcoming the righteousness of faith.

[2] The part of Isaiah 65:1 which is not quoted here (I said, Behold Me, behold Me, unto a nation that was not called by My name) is meant, as usually pointed, to refer to the Gentiles, and this tradition of its application Paul may have learned from Gamaliel (Cheyne); but the pointing is wrong: see Cheyne.19. But I say, &c.] Another objection is anticipated and met, (as indeed it has been already met, less explicitly,) viz., that Israel had no prophetic warning of the Gentiles’ enlightenment and their own unbelief.

know?] i.e. “know the prospect” of the spread of Messiah’s Gospel, and their own rejection of it.

Moses saith] Deuteronomy 32:21; verbatim with LXX. and Heb., except that “you” is substituted for “them,” probably to make the reference unmistakable. The words occur in the sublime prophetic Song of Moses, so full of the mysterious future of both judgment and mercy for Israel. The point of the sentence (see the whole of the verse in Deut.) clearly is that the God of Israel would adopt other nations as Israel had adopted other gods.—The clause is more strictly rendered Moses is the first to say. But the difference is not important.

no people … a foolish nation] i.e., probably, in the opinion of Israel. Israel had taken up deities despised of God; He would take up a people despised of Israel. At the same time the description would be true of the Gentiles in respect of their lack of previous privilege and revelation.Romans 10:19. Μὴ οὐκ ἔγνω Ἰσράηλ; Did not Israel know?) The meaning is, that Israel could and should have known the righteousness of God, but did not wish to know it, Romans 10:3, and that is now shown from Moses and Isaiah. Paul in ch. 9–11. frequently calls the people, Israel, not Jews.—πρῶτος Μωϋσῆς, first Moses) Moses, under whom Israel took the form of a people or nation, has already at that early time said.—ἐγὼὑμᾶςὑμᾶς) Deuteronomy 32:21. LXX., κἀγὼαὐτοὺςαὐτοὺςοὐκ ἔθνει) This may be expressed in Latin by ne-gente, a not-nation. As the people followed gods, that were no gods, so God avenges the perfidy of the people, and took up a people that was no people, a people, who had not God as their God, a people quite unlike to Israel. So the term people does not recur Romans 10:20, [of the Gentiles] but Romans 10:21 [of Israel].—ἀσυνέτῳ, foolish) Wisdom makes a people, Job 12:2. Therefore a foolish people is not a nation; [a not-nation] a people that knows not God is foolish. גוי is a middle term, by which even Israel is denoted [μέσον; applicable to the people Israel, and the not-people, the Gentiles]. The epithet נבל denotes other nations.Verse 19. - But I say, Did not Israel know? (see explanation given above). First, Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no nation; by a foolish nation I will anger you. It may be observed that in the Greek we have the same word, ἔθνει,, in both classes of the sentence, though, in order to bring out the supposed meaning in the first clause, it is there, in the Authorized Version, rendered "people," and in the second, "nation." The passage occurs in the song attributed to Moses in Deuteronomy 32:21, and expresses the idea of God, in consequence of the defaults of Israel, favouring those who were so far, as it were, no nation at all, so as to provoke Israel to jealousy. It is therefore aptly cited as an intimation in the Pentateuch itself of the calling of the Gentiles in place of unbelieving Israel. The idea involved in "provoke you to jealousy" - in the sense of moving to emulation, so that Israel itself as a nation might, through the calling of the Gentiles, in the end be saved - is pursued, as will be seen, in the chapter that follows. Did Israel not know?

As in Romans 10:18, a negative answer is implied. "It is surely not true that Israel did not know." Did not know what? That the Gospel should go forth into all the earth. Moses and Isaiah had prophesied the conversion of the Gentiles, and Isaiah the opposition of the Jews thereto.

First Moses

First in order; the first who wrote.

I will provoke you to jealousy (ἐγὼ παραζηλώσω ὑμᾶς)

From Deuteronomy 32:21. See Romans 11:11, Romans 11:14; 1 Corinthians 10:22. Used only by Paul. The Septuagint has them instead of you.

By them that are no people (ἐπ' οὐκ ἔθνει)

Lit., upon a no-people. The relation expressed by the preposition is that of the no-people as forming the basis of the jealousy. The prediction is that Israel shall be conquered by an apparently inferior people. No-people as related to God's heritage, not that the Gentiles were inferior or insignificant in themselves. For people render nation, as Rev. See on 1 Peter 2:9.

By a foolish nation (ἐπὶ ἔθνει ἀσυνέτῳ)

Lit., upon a foolish nation as the basis of the exasperation. For foolish, see on Romans 1:21.

I will anger (παροργιὦ)

Or provoke to anger. The force of the compounded preposition παρά in this verb and in παραζηλώσω provoke to jealousy, seems to be driving to the side of something which by contact or comparison excites jealousy or anger.

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