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Jeremiah 33:1-6

1. Moreover, the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying,

1. Et fuit sermo Jehovae ad Jeremiam secundo, cum ipse adhuc captivus esset in atrio custodiae, dicendo,

2. Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; The LORD is his name;

2. Sic dicit Jehova, faciens ipsam, Jehova formans ipsam, ad stabiliendum ipsam; Jehova nomen ejus;

3. Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

3. Clama ad me, et respondebo tibi, et annunciabo tibi res magnificas et reconditas, quas non novisti:

4. For thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which are thrown down by the mounts, and by the sword;

4. Quia sic dicit Jehova, Deus Israel, super domibus urbis hujus, super domibus regum Jehudah, quae dirutae fuerunt catapultis (vel, balistis, vel, machinis aliis) et gladio, (alii autem vertunt, ad catapultas, vel, balistas, vel, alias munitiones, et ad gladium; dicemus postea de sensu: hoec omnia legenda sunt uno contextu)

5. They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but it is to fill them with the dead bodies of men, whom I have slain in mine anger and in my fury, and for all whose wickedness I have hid my face from this city.

5. Venerunt ad praeliandum cum Chaldaeis, et ad replendas ipsas (domos) cadaveribus hominum, quos percussi in ira mea et indignatione mea, et quia abscondi faciam meam ab hac urbe propter universam malitiam ipsorum;

6. Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.

6. Ecce ego adduco illi restitutionem et sanationem, et sanabo eos, et aperiam ipsis multitudinem pacis et veritatis (alii vertunt, orationem)

 

This prophecy refers to the same subject; nor was it to be wondered at, that God spoke so much of the same thing, for it was necessary to render the Jews inexcusable, as they always pretended ignorance, except God made frequent repetitions. And this was also the reason why Paul said, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses everything should be established, when he said that he would come the second and the third time to Corinth. (2 Corinthians 13:1) He intimated that his coming would not be useless, for except they repented they could not have escaped by pretending ignorance, as hypocrites are wont to do. It was, then, God’s purpose to confirm by many prophecies what he had once testified respecting the restoration of the people; but he had an especial care for the faithful, that they might not grow faint and succumb under those many trials which remained for so long a time; for as some died in exile, they might have forgotten the covenant of God, and thus the soul might have perished with the body. And those who were to return to their own country had need of no common support, so that they might continue firm for seventy years, and rely with confidence on God’s mercy. We now, then, understand why God repeated the doctrine as to the return of the people.

It is said that the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah while he was yet in prison Then the Prophet was bidden to consult the benefit of his enemies, and to promote their welfare, however unworthy they were through their ingratitude; for though they had not all demanded his death, yet the greater part of them had clamorously condemned him, and he had been with difficulty delivered, and was now lying in prison. It was a great cruelty that the people, while he was faithfully discharging his prophetic office, should thus furiously rage against him. He is, however, bidden still to proceed in the duties of his office, to comfort them, to ease their grief, and to afford them some alleviation in their evils and miseries.

There is also no doubt but that it was profitable to Jeremiah himself; for it was a most iniquitous reward, that he should, while serving God faithfully and conscientiously, be cast ignominiously into prison, and be there kept a captive so long. It was, then, some mitigation of his grief, that God appeared to him in that very prison; it was an evidence that God esteemed him higher than all the Jews. God did not then speak in the Temple, nor throughout the whole city. The prison then was God’s sanctuary, and there he gave responses to his Prophet, though he was wont to do this before from the mercy-seat, from the ark of the covenant. We hence see how great was the honor that God was pleased at that time to bestow in a manner on a prison, when he had forsaken his own Temple.

Now follows the prophecy, the substance of which is, that though the city was to be given up into the hand of the king of Babylon, yet that calamity was not to be perpetual, for God at length, after the completion of seventy years, would restore it. But why this promise was given has been stated already: it was given that the faithful might submit patiently to God, and suffer themselves with calm minds to be chastised, and also recumb on the hope the promise gave them, and thus feel assured, that as they were smitten by God’s hand, their punishment would prove their medicine and an aid to their salvation. Now, then, we perceive what this prophecy is, and also for what purpose it was delivered.

But before God promised anything respecting the return of the people, he strengthened the mind of the Prophet by a preface, and also encouraged and animated the godly to entertain good hope. The preface is, that God created and formed Jerusalem There was, then, no doubt but he would at length rescue it from the hands of enemies; nay, that he would raise it up even from hell itself. To prove this, he says that he is Jehovah We hence see why the Prophet, before he recited the promise, honored God with magnificent titles. But it is doubtful whether the past or the present time is to be understood, when it is said, Jehovah the maker of it, Jehovah the former of it; for either would be suitable, — that is, that God at the beginning built Jerusalem and was its founder, or that he had purposed again to create and form it anew. If the past time be taken, then the meaning is, that the city, which had been built by God, could not possibly perish, because his will was that it should remain perpetually. And the same sentiment often occurs in the Prophets, and also in the Psalms. For it was God’s design to be regarded as the founder of Jerusalem, in order that he might distinguish it from all other cities of the world. We know that there is nothing under the sun perpetual, for the whole world is subject to various changes; nay,

“the fashion of this world,” as Paul says, “passeth away.”
(1 Corinthians 7:31)

As, then, changes so various take place in all cities, God, by a singular privilege, exempted Jerusalem from this common lot; and hence the Prophet truly and wisely concludes, that the ruin of the city would not be perpetual, because God had formed it. And hence its future restitution is sufficiently proved.

But if any one prefers the present time, then the meaning would be, that he who had resolved to create and form Jerusalem is Jehovah, the God of hosts: no one then can hinder his work. As this sense is not unsuitable, I do not reject it, though I follow the former. We must, at the same time, bear in mind this principle, — that restoration is promised to the Jews, because Jerusalem had been, as it were, chosen by God, so that he took it under his care and protection, so as to preserve it perpetually. Whether then we take the words to be in the past or present time, that God is the creator and former of Jerusalem, we see that the promise of deliverance is founded on the mercy of God, even because he had cliosen Jerusalem for his own habitation, according to what is in the Psalms,

“His foundations are on the holy mountains.” (Psalm 87:1)

And there, also, the pronoun is used instead of God’s name, as here instead of the city’s name, Thus saith Jehovah, who has created it, who has formed it, that he might establish it Here Jerusalem is not named; but the narrative is much more emphatical than if it was expressed, as also in the place we have just quoted, the word God is not given, nor the word Church, if I mistake not, in the 37th chapter of Isaiah (Isaiah 37). When the Prophet says,

“His foundations are on the holy mountains,”

there is no doubt but that the word God is to be understood, though not expressed. So here, when speaking of the city, he says that Jehovah formed it, or will form it. 8686     The Sept. give the present time, “who makes,” etc.; the Vulg. the future, “who will make,” etc.; and the Syr. and the Targ. in the past, “who made,” etc. The verse may be thus rendered, —
   Thus saith Jehovah, — Made it hath Jehovah, Having formed it in order to establish it; Jehovah is his name.

   That the city is meant cannot be disputed, as the word itself is introduced in the 4th verse (Jeremiah 33:4), and at the end of the 5th verse. In the Sept. it is land, “who makes the land,” and in the Syr., “who made thee:” both which are no doubt wrong. — Ed.

He adds, Jehovah is his name Here he exalts the power of God, that the Jews might not set up against him what otherwise might have terrified them, and, as it were, reduced them to a lifeless state, and caused them wholly to faint away. He, therefore, sets before their eyes the power of God, as though he had said, that there would be no obstacle which could delay God’s work, for he had resolved to form and create anew his own city after its demolition; it is, in a word, the same as though he had bidden the people to turn their eyes and all their thoughts to God, to consider his immeasurable power, and so to entertain hope, and thus to look down, as it were, from on high on all the impediments which might have otherwise wholly weakened their confidence.

He afterwards adds, Cry to me, and I will answer thee, and I will announce to thee things magnificent and recondite, which thou hast not known It was not so much for the sake of the Prophet as of others that this was said. For the Prophet, no doubt, had earnestly prayed, and his prison must have inflamed his ardor, so as to intercede constantly with God. God then does not here reprove his torpor or his sloth by saying, Cry to me; but as I have said, the word is so directed to the Prophet, that God excites all the godly to pray. There is indeed here an implied reproof, as though he had said that it was their fault that God did not cheer their minds with a joyful and happy message, for they had closed the door against themselves, so as to prevent God from offering them that comfort which they yet especially wished; but men, while they expect God to be propitious to them, do not yet give entrance to his grace, because they bolt up, as it were, their hearts with unbelief. We hence see why it was said, Cry to me, and I will answer thee

But this passage ought especially to be noticed; for we may hence conclude, that whenever we pine away in sorrow, or are worn out by affliction, it is our own fault, because we are tardy and slow to pray: for every one who cries acknowledges that God is always nigh, as he promises in the Psalms, to those who truly call on him. That we are then sometimes worn out with long grief, and no comfort given to us, this happens, let us know, through our neglect and sloth, because we cry not to God, who is ever ready to answer us, as he here promises.

And he says, I will declare to thee great things, and of hidden things thou knowest not So are the words literally; but they cannot be thus suitably rendered: then we may read, “and things hidden which thou knowest not,” or, “I will make thee acquainted with hidden things which are unknown to thee.” It may, however, be asked, why God called those things hidden, of which Jeremiah had already prophesied? The answer is obvious, — that they had, as it were, made void all the promises of God, and the holy man might, have been even confounded, when he saw that God’s favor was thus rejected; for it was reasonable to conclude, that as the people obstinately rejected the hope of deliverance, it was all over with them, and that their condition was, as it were, hopeless. We hence see that those things are often hidden to us which God has again and again made known to us; for either they do not immediately penetrate into our minds, or the memory of them is extinguished, or faith is not so vigorous in us as it ought to be, or we are disturbed and confounded by obstacles thrown in our way.

He now expresses what these hidden things were, As to the houses, he says, (so it is literally) thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, as to the houses of this city, and as to the houses of the kings of Judah The proposition; על, upon, often means with regard to, concerning. He names the houses of the kings, for the kings of Judah were not satisfied, as it is well known, with one palace, but had many houses without the city. As to the houses, he says, which had been thrown down This is variously explained; the houses, say some, had been pulled down for the warlike engines, that is, that these engines might be made from the materials, and for the sword. The sense, however, would appear more obvious were we to take this view, that the houses had been thrown down by the warlike engines, and also by the sword, that is, by the violence of the enemies. The word, סללת sallut, as it has been already stated, is rendered by some fortifications; but when the storming of cities is spoken of, it means no doubt warlike machines, such as the engines to throw darts, or battering-rams: but we know not in what form they were made by the Jews and the Chaldeans.

There are two parts to this prophecy, — that the Jews were about to perish through their own fault, — and that they were to be restored through the favor and goodness of God alone. Here, then, in the first place, the Prophet condemns the false confidence of the people, who stoutly resisted the Chaldeans. They came, he says, to fight with the Chaldeans; but what would be the issue of the battle? even to fill, he says, with the carcases of men their very houses When he says that the Jews were come, he speaks of what had already, as it were, taken place. It is indeed a participle in the present tense, coming; but the Prophet here sets before their eyes what was to be, as though he had said, “The Jews will boldly rush forth, and will think themselves equal, and even superior to the Chaldeans; thus they will arm themselves with courage for the battle.” Then he says this, in order to ridicule the audacity of the people. The sad issue of the fight follows, the filling of their own houses with the carcases of men. The copulative is redundant, or it must be taken as explanatory, and rendered, even. They shall come then to fight, evern that they may fill their own houses with carcases, and thus inflame the fury of their enemies. 8787     These two verses have been improperly separated, so that באים, “coming,” stands by itself without connection with anything; it ought to be in regimine with “sword.” The versions vary, but none give any tolerable meaning. The verses may be thus rendered, —
   4. For thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, Concerning the houses of this city, And concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, — Which are thrown down by the engines,

   5. And by the sword of those who come To make war, even the Chaldeans, And to fill them [i.e., houses] with the carcases of the men, Whom I have smitten in mine anger, And in my wrath, and for all whose wickedness I have hidden my face from this city, —

   6. Behold, I will bring, etc. etc.

   The present and past time in the 4th and 5th verses, is used for the future, which is often the case in prophecies. — Ed.
For it hence happened that the Chaldeans shed more blood, and spared not the mass of the people; because we know that when a city is won by force, more cruelty is exercised, and the slaughters become much greater. Had the Jews willingly surrendered, they would have received more humanity at the hand of their conquerors; but the Chaldeans became implacable, because their fury had been kindled by the pertinacity of the people fighting against them. God, at the same time, shews that the Chaldeans would not be victorious through their own valor, but because he himself would smite or slay the Jews. Then he ascribes to his own vengeance the calamity which might have seemed to proceed from the Chaldeans; for Jeremiah could not have exhorted the people to repentance except he shewed that it happened through a righteous judgment, that the Chaldeans so cruelly raged against them. But we must defer the rest until to-morrow.


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