Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did you at all fast unto me, even to me?
Read Chapter 7
George Leo Haydock
Years, from the ruin of the temple till the fourth of Darius.
Unto me? Did you grieve for the injury done to me; or was your sorrow caused by your own losses? The prophet gives not a direct answer; but sufficiently shows that exterior works of themselves are of little value. Whether the Jews entered into his sentiments or not, they still observe these fasts, though he said they should be changed into days of rejoicing, chap. viii. 19. (Calmet)
The fast was good, but imperfect, wanting works of charity. (St. Gregory) (Worthington)
After all, if the loving Lord said to the hardhearted Jews through the prophet, “Behold those seventy years: surely it was not for me that you kept that fast? And if you eat and drink, is it not for yourselves that you eat and drink? This is what the Lord, mighty ruler, says: ‘Deliver just judgments, show mercy and pity each of you to your neighbor, do not oppress widow or orphan, sojourner or poor person, and let none of you plot evil against your brother in your heart.’ ” In other words, if those people sitting in darkness and caught up in the shadow of error gained no benefit merely from fasting without performing those other good works or expelling from their heart evil intended against their neighbor, what sort of an excuse can we offer of whom more is required—not simply commanded to abstain from that, but even obliged to love our enemies and be kind to them? And why do I say “be kind”? Also to pray for them and beseech the Lord and implore his providence in their behalf. After a...
Even when they were exiles in Babylon and their captors were trying to force them to sing a sacred hymn, they neither yielded nor obeyed, even though they were captives and slaves to the masters who had conquered them…. And they could not observe the fast. The prophet made this clear when he said, “ ‘Did you keep a fast for me for seventy years?’ said the Lord.” Nor could they offer sacrifice or pour libations. Listen to the three boys when they said, “We have no prince, prophet or leader, no place to offer firstfruits in your sight and find mercy.” The prophet did not say, “We have no priest,” because there were priests among the captives. But to make you understand that the whole matter was a question of the place and that the whole code of laws was bound up with that place, he said, “We have no place.” .