visit = inflict, punish
Recently I read the following verse (Jeremiah 14:10):
Thus saith the Lord with this people,
thus have they loved to wander,
they have not refrained their feet,
he will now remember their iniquity,
and visit their sins.
I suppose that the meaning of the word "visit" on this place is " inflict, punish".
Would you tell me whether this usage is common in everyday English language? There is, in my humble opinion, something queer about hearing an expression as "to visit the sins of the parents on the children", isn't there?
The things might go wrong (Difficulties are liable to occur) by reading the expression "to visit with" and then have to pore for a long time what is it all about; you do not know what the future holds in store for you: a cruel and unusual, harsh, mild, light punishment or common, idle, silly gossip with friends?
Would you help me to understand now what is your opinion on this matter?
Re: visit = inflict, punish
You've noticed, I expect, all the other strange language features, like the unusual verb form "saith" instead of "says", the odd word order as in "thus have they" and the strange vocubulary such as "iniquity".
I expect you're reading from the Authorised Version (also known as the King James Version), a translation made in the 17th century and written in a style which as a little old-fashioned even in those days.
Languages always change over time. Grammar changes, words go in and out of fashion, and many words even change their meanings, add new meanings or lose old meanings.
Such is the case with "visit". It comes from a Latin word meaning "to go in order to see", a meaning very similar to the usual modern meaning. Soon people used it in the context of sickness and disaster, which would "visit" the population, an unwelcome and unpopular visitor. From there it's just a short step to using the verb to mean "cause to visit", "to send an unwelcome visitor (e.g. plague)", thus "to inflict" or "to punish".
This particular usage is now obsolete -- we don't say that God visits sins, we say he punishes sins, except perhaps in some of the more old-fashioned churches. However, we do sometimes still use "visit" to describe disaster of some sort afflicting the population; for example, the Great Plague visited London in 1665.
Re: visit = inflict, punish
Thank you for your prompt and rich in content reply. I really enjoyed with it.
Thank you also for your through answer which put an end to all doubt concerning the usage of the verb "visit".
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