Therefore will I judge you, O house of Israel
The case being fairly stated, the charge removed, instances to the contrary given, the Lord, as Judge, proceeds to bring the controversy to an issue, and to pass the definitive sentence, and to deal with them in the way of his providence as they deserved: everyone according to his ways, saith the Lord God;
not according to the ways of their father, but according to their own ways: this refers, not to the last and general judgment, but to some sore temporal punishment, which God, as the righteous Judge, would inflict upon them for their sins, according to the just desert of them; but whereas, notwithstanding all their wickedness, insolence, and blasphemy, the Lord was desirous of showing mercy to them, rather than proceed to strict justice; he exhorts and advises them to the following things: repent, and turn [yourselves] from all your transgressions;
this is to be understood of a national repentance for national sins, to prevent national judgments, being an address to the whole house of Israel; and not of evangelical repentance, which is the gift of God, and of an external reformation, as the fruit of it; and not of the first work of internal conversion, which is by the powerful and efficacious grace of God; though, were both exhorted to, it would not prove that these are in the power of men, only show the want and necessity of them, and so be the means of God's bringing his chosen people to them. The phrase, "yourselves", is not in the original; both words used signify "to turn"; and may be rendered and explained thus, "turn" yourselves, and "cause [others] to turn" F16; let every man turn himself from his evil courses, and do all he can to turn his brother, or his neighbour, from the same; so Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech interpret them. The Targum is,
``turn you to my worship, and remove from you the worship of idols:''so iniquity shall not be your ruin;
meaning temporal ruin, as it deserved, and they were threatened with; and which might be prevented by repentance and reformation: or, "shall not be a stumbling block to you" F17; an hinderance, an obstruction in the way of their enjoyment of temporal blessings.
F16 (wbyvhw wbwv) "convertimini et facite converti", Pagninus, Montanus, "sub. proximos"; so some in Calvin; "quisque suam fratrem", Munster, Vatablus.
F17 (lwvkml Mkl hyhy alw) "et non erit vobis in offendiculum", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator.