(12) Continuing with the judgment theme against the wicked, the Lord will punish with a plague those who have fought against Jerusalem. Their flesh will rot where they stand, their eyes in their holes, and their tongues in their mouths. The LXX says that their flesh and tongues will dissolve and their eyes will flow out of their holes. However, this rotting away will take some time as becomes clear in the following verses.
This rotting away, maqaq, is the explicit consequence of breaking the covenant, according to Lev 26:39. And the cause of this rotting of their flesh was their sins. Ps 38:5, Ezek 4:17, 24:23, 33:10 also connect rotting flesh with sin. Such rotting away is probably synonymous with the wasting diseases and sickness that Deut 28 lists among the curses for failure to keep the covenant. Two examples of this punishment came upon Jehoram (2 Chr 21:15-19) and Herod Antipas (Acts 12:23). It likely also sheds some light on the cryptic phrase “their worm shall not die” in Isa 66:24 and Mark 9:48, which is connected to the death of the wicked at the end and also with Satan’s end in Isa 14:11. Isa 51:8 also says that worms will devour the wicked.
The first of the seven angels who pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth pours out a plague of terrible sores upon the wicked. The parallels here are intriguing, particularly when seen in the light of the promise in Lev 26:16-28 that if after the first curses the people still refused to obey the Lord, then He would punish them seven times more for their sins.
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