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Jeremiah 46:21

21. Also her hired men are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks; for they also are turned back, and are fled away together: they did not stand, because the day of their calamity was come upon them, and the time of their visitation.

21. Etiam mercenarii ejus in medio ejus tanquam vituli saginati, quia etiam ipsi vertent terga, fugient simul, non steterunt, quia dies calamitatis (vel, miseriae) venit super eos, tempus visitationis ipsorum.

 

Here the Prophet represents the mercenaries of Egypt, as we have already said, as being foreign soldiers, who had been hired here and there, and from far countries, such as Lydia was. It may yet have been, that there were not many at that time who had come from beyond the sea to the Egyptians; but they had the Ethiopians, for Ezekiel says that many came from Cush, that is, Ethiopia; and then they had some from Libya and the neighboring countries. Then Jeremiah includes them under one name, and says that they were mercenaries. Now, they who hire themselves seem to be more warlike than others; for they who defend their own country do this from necessity; but those who of themselves seek war, and depart from their own borders for the purpose of engaging in war, seem to be men fit for any bold undertaking.

But the Prophet says, also, גם, gam, also mercenaries; that is, not only the Egyptians were accustomed to a delicate and indulgent life, but also the Ethiopians and others who had been hired, They are also in the midst of it as fatted bullocks, that is, they fill themselves with the abundance of Egypt; and hence it was that they became a prey to their enemies; for we know that nothing is more injurious to soldiers than to live delicately and luxuriously. Of all ancient generals, the most celebrated is Hannibal; but how did it happen, that having an invincible army, by which he had terrified all Italy, he afterwards fell? because Campania, with its luxuries, enervated him, for he lived there not like a soldier, but had tables richly furnished for himself and for his army. Hence it was, that they were no more what they had been. So also the Prophet says, “Egypt will ruin its hired soldiers; for she will satiate them with luxuries.” What did at length happen to them? he compares them to bullocks of the stall, מרבק, merebec; some read bullocks of the pasture, but not correctly; for רבק, rebec, is properly to fatten. He then calls them the bullocks of the stall, which are fed that they may become fat and be soon slaughtered. He therefore says, They also shall turn their backs; and then he says, They shall not stand, because the time of calamity is come I cannot finish this subject now.

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