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Jeremiah 32:24-25

24. Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, that fight against it, because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence: and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it

24. Ecce aggeres (vel, catapultae, vel, arietes) venerunt ad urbem ad capiendum eam; et urbs tradita est in manum Chaldaeorum oppugnantium eam, propter gladium, famem et pestem; et quod tu loquutus es (quicquid loquutus es) evenit; et ecce tu vides.

25. And thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.

25. Et tu dixisti mihi, domine Jehova, eme tibi agrum pecunia et testare testes; cum tamen urbs tradita sit in manum Chaldaeorum.

 

Here then at length the Prophet discovers his own perplexity. We have already stated the reason why he made so long an introduction before he came to the main thing: it was necessary for him to put on as it were a bridle; for except we restrain our thoughts, we shall become petulant against God, and there will be no moderation. The Prophet then, that he might not peevishly expostulate with God, set before himself his immeasurable power, and then he added that nothing happens except through his righteous vengeance. He now however asks, how it was, that he was bidden to buy the field when the city and the whole country were delivered up into their enemies. He then mentions here this inconsistency, and confesses that his mind was embarrassed, for he could not discover why God had bidden him to buy the field, and yet had determined to drive the people into exile and to scatter them into remote lands. But we have said that the Prophet was fully persuaded of God’s truth; and hence it was that he was so willing and ready to obey; for he made no delay in buying the field; and he afterwards laid up with Baruch the writings of the purchase. But after having performed all this, he brought a complaint against God; and as the thing appeared unreasonable, he desired this knot to be untied.

He then says, Behold the mounts, or, the warlike engines, for the word may mean either. The word סללות sallut, often means mounts; but as mention is made here of a siege, the Prophet seems to refer, as we have said in the sixth chapter, to warlike engines or battering rams. And there were engines to beat down walls; great stones or a number of stones were also cast. I am therefore inclined to the opinion of those who consider that they were either engines to shoot stones and darts, or battering rams. Behold, then, he says, there are moved to the city battering rams to take it, and the city is delivered up to the Chaldeans It was, it seems, the tenth year of Zedekiah, and at the beginning of the eleventh month the city was taken. But the Prophet is the best interpreter of his own words, and what he means may be easily gathered from the context, for he says that the city was taken by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; as though he had said, that though the enemies had not as yet entered into the city, yet it was all over with it, that there was no hope remaining, because it was not only assailed by arms and a powerful force, but it had also enemies within, which pressed hard on it, even famine and the pestilence As then a great number had already been consumed by pestilence and famine, the Prophet says, that though, the enemies should cease to assail it, and make no forcible entrance into it, yet it was all over with it, because the pestilence and famine had so prevailed, that there was no hope of deliverance. By these words he intimates an extremity of despair; and hence also arose the thought which tormented the mind of the Prophet, that it appeared wholly unreasonable that God should bid him to buy the field when the city had been already delivered up into the power of enemies.

He adds, and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it He confirms what he had just said, even that the destruction of the city did not otherwise happen than through God’s judgment. And he confirms it, because whatever then happened, had already been testified during the time of the Prophet himself. And it hence appeared, that the city was not distressed through chance, because God had foretold nothing by his servants but what he had decreed and resolved to do. Then the ruin of Jerusalem was the work of God, of which he had foretold by his servants. For these two things ought to be joined together — the mouth of God and the hand of God. Nor is it lawful to imagine such a thing as some fanatics do, that God sees from heaven whatever is done on earth, and yet continues in an idle state. But he decrees what is right, and then when it is necessary, he testifies it by his servants the Prophets. However, the mouth of God ought not to be separated from his hand. The Prophet then shews that the destruction of the city was the righteous judgment of God, because the Prophets had previously spoken of it.

The words, thou seest it, refer to the preceding sentence, or to that which immediately follows, even because it seemed inconsistent or unreasonable that the Prophet should buy the field as God commanded, and yet that God knew that the land was possessed by enemies, and that the people were to be driven into exile. Since then God had resolved to cast out the people from the land, how was it that he had bidden his servant to buy the field? Had all this been unknown to God, the inconsistency would not have been so evident But when God perfectly knew that what he had so often proclaimed as to the exile by his Prophets could not be changed, what could be his purpose in bidding the field to be bought and the purchase to be confirmed by witnesses, when yet the city was delivered up to enemies? Jeremiah, after having mentioned the substance of his prayer, now adds the answer he received from God, in which is seen the fruit of his prayer, even that he had been taught what had regard to the deliverance and return of the people, in order that the faithful might entertain hope, and also that they, relying on the promise, might cheerfully bear their exile until the prefixed time came. The words are these, —

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