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Jeremiah 34:20

20. I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth.

20. Et dabo illos in manum inimicorum ipsorum, et in manum quaerentium animam ipsorum: et erit cadaver ipsorum in cibum avi (hoc est, avibus) coelorum, (est heterosis numeri) et bestiae (hoc est, bestiis) terrae.

 

He confirms and explains what he had before said, and expresses how the punishment would be executed, — that he would deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and he adds, who seek their life, in order to shew that their enemies would not be content with the spoils, or with a moderate punishment, but would be their inveterate enemies, who would not be satisfied until they destroyed them. Now this passage teaches us also that the ungodly are God’s scourges, for the punishment he resolved to inflict on the transgressors of his law, he executed through them. Though then the Chaldeans had another object than to be God’s ministers in punishing the Jews, yet they performed God’s work as though they were his hired servants, subject to his own will and pleasure. Nor is there a doubt but that their minds had been greatly exasperated against the Jews, so that they shed blood indiscriminately withoat mercy: for as God often says,

“I will give you favor in the sight of your enemies,”
(Exodus 3:21; 11:3)

so also on the other hand, he declares, that when enemies raged cruelly against them, it was through hls secret influence, he having resolved severely to punish them. This is the reason why he now says, that he would deliver the Jews into the hand of those who sought their life, that is, who were not intent on prey or spoils, and would not be satisfied with moderate punishment, but would be implacable enemies, until they destroyed the people.

Another kind of punishment follows, Their carcases shall be for food to the birds of heaving, and to the beasts of the earth, as though he had said, that God’s vengeance on the Jews would be made evident even after death. We said last week, that it would be no loss to us were we to he unburied, for burial brings no advantage to us; but yet it is a sign of God’s vengeance. As then famine, and nakedness, and cold, and diseases, and other evils, are evidences of God’s wrath against men, so also it is when the body of a dead man is cast forth, and is either torn by wild beasts, or eaten by birds. If any one objects and says, that this has sometimes happened to the best and holiest of God’s servants; to this we answer, that temporal punishment happens in common to the good and the bad; but when God by famine and want, by diseases also, or by exile, or by prison, or by any other evils, tries and chastises his servants, all this is to them as a help to their salvation. Yet this special mercy of God towards the faithful, which is a peculiar privilege, is no reason why all miseries should in themselves be deemed evidences of God’s wrath, for they are everywhere called curses. And we also know that from the same fountain flow all the evils which men suffer in this life, even from God’s judgment, who in this manner executes punishment. It is not then without reason that the Prophet here declares, that so severe and dreadful would be God’s judgment towards the Jews, that it would extend beyond death itself, for they would become meat to the birds of heaven and to the beasts of the earth. It follows —

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