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Jeremiah 12:3

3. But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.

3. Et tu, Jehova, cognoscis me (cognovisti me), videbis me (vides me), et probasti cor meum tecum (hoc est, probasti quale sit cor meum apud to, vel, coram to:) extrahe eos tanquam oves ad mactationem, et praepara eos ad diem occisionis.

 

The Prophet is not here solicitous about himself, but, on the contrary, undertakes the defense of his own office, as though he had said that, he faithfully discharged the office committed to him by God. Though then the Jews, and even the citizens of Anathoth, his own people, unjustly persecuted him, yet he was not excited by private wrongs; and though he disregarded these entirely, he yet could not give up the defense of his office. He then does not speak here of his own private feelings, but only claims for himself faithfulness and sincerity before God in performing his office as a teacher; as though he had said that he executed what God had commanded him to do, and that therefore the Jews contended not with a mortal being, but with God himself.

Hence he says, But thou, Jehovah, knowest me and seest me, and triest my heart towards thee; that is, thou knowest how sincerely I serve thee, and endeavor to fulfin my vocation, and thus to obey thy command. He afterwards glories over them as a conqueror, and says, Draw them forth as sheep for the day of sacrificing, prepare them for slaughter Here no doubt the Prophet intended not only to touch, but sharply to wound the Jews, in order that they might know that they had been hitherto secure to no purpose, and to their own ruin, because God had spared them. They who consider that the Prophet was himself troubled, because he saw that God was propitious and kind to the ungodly, think that, with reference to himself, he took comfort from this, — that the judgment of God was nigh at hand; but I doubt not but that the Prophet had regard to the Jews, as I have already reminded you. When, therefore, he saw that they were torpid in their delusions, he intended to rouse their sensibilities by saying, “I see how it is, O Lord; thou dost indeed concede thyself; but what else is thy purpose but that they should be fattened for the day of slaughter?”

He says, first, Thou wilt draw them out: others read, “Thou wilt lead them forth,” and quote a passage in Judges 20:32, where נתק nutak, is taken in this sense. The word properly means to draw out with force, as when a tree is pulled up, or when any one is drawn out against his will; and this is the sense most suitable to the present passage. Thou wilt then draw them out; that is, thou wilt suddenly draw them out to slaughter. He then intimates that there was no reason for the Jews to be dormant in their prosperity, for God could in a moment act against them; and as the pain of one in labor is sudden, so also, when the wicked say, Peace and security, their ruin will come suddenly upon them. (1 Thessalonians 5:3) This then is what the Prophet now means: but he goes on in his way of teaching; for he does not address men as they were all deaf, but speaks to God himself, that his doctrine might be more effectual: Thou then wilt draw them out, and do thou prepare them; for it is a prayer: do thou then prepare them for the day of slaughter 5656     This verse, according to the tenses of the verbs, is as follows: —
   But thou, Jehovah, thou hast known me; Thou seest me, and triest my heart towards thee: Pull them out as sheep for the sacrifice, And set them apart for the day of slaughter.

   It is evident that “seest,” which is here in the future tense, is to be taken as expressing a present act. It would be so rendered in Welsh, —

   Ond ti Jehova, adwaenaist vi;
Gweli vi, a phrovi, vy nghalon tuag atat
.

   God had known him, he was still seeing him, and approved of his heart before him, as the Septuagint express the words. To prove here, or to “try,” means a trial by which a thing is found to be genuine. Blayney gives the meaning by a paraphrase, —

   Thou canst discern by trial my heart to be with thee.

    — Ed.

The last expression ought especially to be noticed. The Prophet indeed seems here in an excited feeling to imprecate ruin on the people; but there is no doubt but that he was here discharging the duty of his office, for he was the herald of God’s vengeance. He therefore asks God to execute what he had commanded him to denounce on the people. He had often promulgated what God had resolved to do to them, but he had moved no one: he now then asks God to fulfin what he had foretold the Jews — that they should shortly perish, because they refused to repent.

We may also learn from this passage, — that when the ungodly accumulate wealth, they are in a manner fattened. When oxen plough, and sheep are fed that they may bear wool and bring forth young, they are not fed that they may grow fat, and a moderate quantity of food will suffice them; but when any one intends to prepare sheep or oxen for the slaughter, he fattens them. So then the feeding of them is nothing else than the fattening of them; and the fattening of them is a preparation for their slaughter. I have therefore said that a very useful doctrine is included in this form of speaking; for when we see that plenty of wealth and power abound with the ungodly and the despisers of God, we see that they are in a manner thus fined with good things, that they may grow fat: — it is fattening or cramming. Let us then not bear it in that they are thus covered with their own fatness, for they are prepared for the day of slaughter. It follows —


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