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Jeremiah 48:19

19. O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way, and espy; ask him that fleeth, and her that escapeth, and say, What is done?

19. Super viam consiste et speculare habitatrix Aroer; interroga fugientem et eam quae elapsa fuerit, dic, Quid factum est (quid accidit?)

 

We have stated elsewhere why the prophets in describing calamities spoke in so elevated a style; for their object was not to seek fame or the praise of eloquence. They are not these rhetorical ornaments which the prophets used; but they necessarily spoke in a lofty style of the punishments which awaited the ungodly, because such was the hardness of their hearts that they hesitated not to despise God’s threatenings, or to regard them as fables. That God’s threatenings then might penetrate into the hearts of men, it was necessary to exaggerate them by means of various comparisons, as it is done here and in many places. We ought at the same time to bear in mind what I have said, that the Prophet had a regard to his own people. As the Moabites were like a hid treasure, the Jews could never have thought it possible, that the Chaldeans would at length make an inroad there; but the Prophet declares that the thing was so certain, as though it was seen by their own eyes. In order then to lead the Jews to the very scene itself, the judgments of God are here not only described, but as it were painted.

Stand, he says, on the way, and look, thou inhabitant of Aroer This was another city of the Moabites, of which mention is made in many places; and then he mentions others, as we shall see. Ask him, he says, who fleeth and her who escapes He, indeed, changes the gender of the nouns; but when he mentions many, and then one person, he did this for the sake of amplifying; because, on the one hand, he wished to show that so great would be the number of exiles, that the whole land would become empty; and then, on the other hand, when he says that this and that person would flee, he means that they would be so scattered that they would not go in troops; but as it is usual in a disordered state of things, one would flee on this side, and another on the other side. Ask him who fleeth, or as we may render the words, Ask all who flee; and then, ask her who escapes; because not only men, but also women would flee, so that no sex would be spared. In short, he intimates, that those who dwelt in cities well fortified, would be all anxiety on seeing enemies irresistibly advancing through every part of the country.

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