The lead is consumed . . .--Better, from their fire is lead only. A different punctuation gives, The bellows burn with fire; yet lead is the only outcome. The point lies in the fact that lead was used as a flux in smelting silver ore. The founder in the case supposed went on with his work till the lead was melted, but he found no silver after all.
Plucked away.--Better, separated or purified, as in keeping with the metaphor.
"lo, as the refiner's blower, that is burnt in the midst of the fire, so the voice of the prophets is silent, who prophesied to them, turn to the law, and they turned not;''
or the judgments and chastisements of God upon the Jews may be meant, which were inflicted upon them to no purpose:
the lead is consumed of the fire; lead being used formerly, as is said (f), instead of quicksilver, in purifying of silver; which being consumed, the refining is in vain: or it may be rendered,
out of the fire it is perfect lead (g); or wholly lead, a base metal, no gold and silver in it, to which the Jews are compared:
the founder melteth in vain; to whom either the prophet is likened, whose reproofs, threatenings, and exhortations, answered no end; or the Lord himself, whose corrections and punishments were of no use to reform this people:
for the wicked are not plucked away; from their evil way, as Jarchi; or from good men, they are not separated the one from the other; or, "evils (sins) are not plucked away" (h); from sinners: their dross is not purged away from them; neither the words of the prophet, nor the judgments of God, had any effect upon them. The Targum of the latter part of the verse is,
"and as lead which is melted in the midst of the furnace, so the words of the prophets which prophesied to them were nothing in their eyes; and without profit their teachers taught them and they did not leave their evil works.''
(f) By Mathiolus, Agricola and others, in Poli Synops. (g) "ab igne, et integrum est plumbum", Munster, Calvin, Tigurine version. (h) "et mala non sunt evulsa", Piscator, so some in Vatablus; "mala avelli non pussunt", Junius & Tremellius.