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The Purification of Jerusalem

21 How she has become a prostitute,
    the faithful city,[a] so upright!
Justice used to lodge within her,
    but now, murderers.(A)
22 Your silver is turned to dross,
    your wine is mixed with water.
23 Your princes are rebels
    and comrades of thieves;
Each one of them loves a bribe
    and looks for gifts.
The fatherless they do not defend,
    the widow’s plea does not reach them.(B)
24 Now, therefore, says the Lord,
    the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel:
Ah! I will take vengeance on my foes
    and fully repay my enemies!(C)
25 I will turn my hand against you,
    and refine your dross in the furnace,
    removing all your alloy.
26 I will restore your judges[b] as at first,
    and your counselors as in the beginning;
After that you shall be called
    city of justice, faithful city.(D)
27 [c]Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
    and her repentant ones by righteousness.
28 Rebels and sinners together shall be crushed,
    those who desert the Lord shall be consumed.

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Footnotes

  1. 1:21–28 Faithful city: the phrase, found in v. 21 and v. 28, forms an inclusio which marks off the passage and also suggests three chronological periods: the city’s former ideal state, its present wicked condition (described in vv. 21b–23), and the future ideal conditions intended by God. This will be brought about by a purging judgment directed primarily against the leaders (“judges…counselors”).
  2. 1:26 Judges: the reference must be to royal judges appointed by David and his successors, not to the tribal judges of the Book of Judges, since the “beginning” of Jerusalem as an Israelite city dates only to the time of David. The Davidic era is idealized here; obtaining justice in the historical Jerusalem of David’s time was more problematic (see 2 Sm 15:1–6).
  3. 1:27–28 These verses expand the oracle that originally ended at v. 26. The expansion correctly interprets the preceding text as proclaiming a purifying judgment on Zion in which the righteous are saved while the wicked perish. The meaning of “by justice” and “by righteousness” is ambiguous. Do these terms refer to God’s judgment or to the justice and righteousness of Zion’s surviving inhabitants? Is 33:14–16 suggests the latter interpretation.

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