Zechariah 7:11
But they refused to listen, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.
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7:8-14 God's judgements upon Israel of old for their sins, were written to warn Christians. The duties required are, not keeping fasts and offering sacrifices, but doing justly and loving mercy, which tend to the public welfare and peace. The law of God lays restraint upon the heart. But they filled their minds with prejudices against the word of God. Nothing is harder than the heart of a presumptuous sinner. See the fatal consequences of this to their fathers. Great sins against the Lord of hosts, bring great wrath from his power, which cannot be resisted. Sin, if regarded in the heart, will certainly spoil the success of prayer. The Lord always hears the cry of the broken-hearted penitent; yet all who die impenitent and unbelieving, will find no remedy or refuge from miseries which while here they despised and defied, but which they then will not be able to bear.But they gave a backsliding shoulder - Like a restive animal, which would not endure the yoke, dull and stupid as the beasts: as Hosea says, "Israel slideth back like a backsliding heifer" Hosea 4:16. Nehemiah confesses the same; "they gave a backsliding shoulder and hardened their neck and would not hear" Nehemiah 9:29.

And made heavy their ears - Fulfilling in themselves what God foretold to Isaiah would be the result of his preaching, "make their ears heavy." The heart, which will not hearken, becomes duller by the outward hearing, as Paul says, "The earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God; but that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected" Hebrews 6:7-8.

11. pulled away the shoulder—literally, "presented a refractory shoulder"; an image from beasts refusing to bear the yoke (Ne 9:29, Margin).

stopped … ears—(Isa 6:10; Jer 7:26; Ac 7:57).

But they refused to hearken; they wilfully were ignorant, ant, would not consider nor understand.

Pulled away the shoulder; next they shift from doing their duty, withdraw their shoulder from the yoke of the law, Nehemiah 9:29 Hosea 4:16.

And stopped their ears; and to make it highest contempt, they act the deaf man, stop their ears, and so turn their backs on God.

That they should not hear; all this out of an obstinate resolution to be unacquainted with God’s will and their own duty. But they refused to hearken,..... That is, the Jews, before the captivity, refusal to give heed to the above exhortations, and obey the voice of God in them:

and pulled away the shoulder; from serving the Lord, and supporting his interest: or "they gave", or presented, "a rebellious shoulder" (f); a refractory one, that slides back, like a backsliding or refractory heifer, that will not admit of the yoke, Hosea 4:16 so these could not bear the yoke of the law, nor the burden of duty; nor suffer the words of exhortation, or receive the admonitions given them:

and stopped their ears, that they should not hear; like the deaf adder, Psalm 58:4 they would not hear, and pretended they could not; which was an instance of contempt to the speakers.

(f) "scapulam aversam", Pagninus; "deflectentem", Montanus; "rebellem", Munster, Tigurine version; "refractarium", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ben Melech.

But they refused to hearken, and {l} withdrew the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.

(l) And would not carry the Lord's burden, which was sweet and easy, but would bear their own, which was heavy and grievous to the flesh, thinking to gain merit by it: which metaphor is taken from oxen, which shrink at the yoke; Ne 9:29.

11. pulled away the shoulder] Nehemiah 9:29; Hosea 4:16.

stopped] Lit. made heavy, i.e. dull. Comp. Isaiah 6:10. The same word is used of the eyes, Genesis 48:10, and of the tongue, Exodus 4:10.Verse 11. - Pulled away the shoulder; they gave a stubborn, refractory shoulder, like an ox which refuses to have the yoke put on his neck, or draws hack when it feels the weight (Nehemiah 9:29; Hosea 4:16). Stopped their ears. Made their ears heavy. Τὰ ω΅τα αὐτῶν ἐβάρυναν (Septuagint); Isaiah 6:10; Isaiah 59:1. Three degrees of obduracy are named in this verse: they refused to listen; they resisted the warners; they exhibited open contempt for them. The full climax is given in the next verse. To give still greater emphasis to his exhortation to repentance, the prophet turns to Jerusalem again, that he may once more hold up before the hardened sinners the abominations of this city, in which Jehovah daily proclaims His right, and shows the necessity for the judgment, as the only way that is left by which to secure salvation for Israel and for the whole world. Zephaniah 3:1. "Woe to the refractory and polluted one, the oppressive city! Zephaniah 3:2. She has not hearkened to the voice; not accepted discipline; not trusted in Jehovah; not drawn near to her God. Zephaniah 3:3. Her princes are roaring lions in the midst of her; her judges evening wolves, who spare not for the morning. Zephaniah 3:4. Her prophets boasters, men of treacheries: her priests desecrate that which is holy, to violence to the law." The woe applies to the city of Jerusalem. That this is intended in Zephaniah 3:1 is indisputably evident from the explanation which follows in Zephaniah 3:2-4 of the predicates applied to the city addressed in Zephaniah 3:1. By the position of the indeterminate predicates מוראה and נגאלה before the subject to which the hōi refers, the threat acquires greater emphasis. מוראה is not formed from the hophal of ראה (ἐπιφανής, lxx, Cyr., Cocc.), but is the participle kal of מרא equals מרה or מרר, to straighten one's self, and hold one's self against a person, hence to be rebellious (see Delitzsch on Job, on Job 33:2, note). נגאלה, stained with sins and abominations (cf. Isaiah 59:3). Yōnâh does not mean columba, but oppressive (as in Jeremiah 46:16; Jeremiah 50:16, and Jeremiah 25:38)), as a participle of yânâh to oppress (cf. Jeremiah 22:3). These predicates are explained and vindicated in Zephaniah 3:2-4, viz., first of all מוראה in Zephaniah 3:2. She gives no heed to the voice, sc. of God in the law and in the words of the prophets (compare Jeremiah 7:28, where קול יהוה occurs in the repetition of the first hemistich). The same thing is affirmed in the second clause, "she accepts no chastisement." These two clauses describe the attitude assumed towards the legal contents of the word of God, the next two the attitude assumed towards its evangelical contents, i.e., the divine promises. Jerusalem has no faith in these, and does not allow them to draw her to her God. The whole city is the same, i.e., the whole of the population of the city. Her civil and spiritual rulers are no better. Their conduct shows that the city is oppressive and polluted (Zephaniah 3:3 and Zephaniah 3:4). Compare with this the description of the leaders in Micah 3:1-12. The princes are lions, which rush with roaring upon the poor and lowly, to tear them in pieces and destroy them (Proverbs 28:15; Ezekiel 19:2; Nahum 2:12). The judges resemble evening wolves (see at Habakkuk 1:8), as insatiable as wolves, which leave not a single bone till the following morning, of the prey they have caught in the evening. The verb gâram is a denom. from gerem, to gnaw a bone, piel to crush them (Numbers 24:8); to gnaw a bone for the morning, is the same as to leave it to be gnawed in the morning. Gâram has not in itself the meaning to reserve or lay up (Ges. Lex.). The prophets, i.e., those who carry on their prophesying without a call from God (see Micah 2:11; Micah 3:5, Micah 3:11), are pōchăzı̄m, vainglorious, boasting, from pâchaz, to boil up or boil over, and when applied to speaking, to overflow with frivolous words. Men of treacheries, bōgedōth, a subst. verb, from bâgad, the classical word for faithless adultery or apostasy from God. The prophets proved themselves to be so by speaking the thoughts of their own hearts to the people as revelations from God, and thereby strengthening it in its apostasy from the Lord. The priests profane that which is holy (qoodesh, every holy thing or act), and do violence to the law, namely, by treating what is holy as profane, and perverting the precepts of the law concerning holy and unholy (cf. Ezekiel 22:26).
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