Jeremiah 2:30

30. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.

30. Frustra (vel, in vanum) castigavi filios tuos, correctionem non receperunt; voravit gladius vester prophetas vestros quasi leo vastator.


Some expound the beginning of this verse as though the meaning were, -- that God chastised the Jews on account of their folly, because they habituated themselves to falsehoods: but the latter clause does not correspond. There is therefore no doubt but that God here expostulates with the Jews, because he had tried to bring them to the right way and found them wholly irreclaimable. A similar expostulation is found in Isaiah,

"In vain," he says, "have I chastised you; for from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head there is no soundness."
(Isaiah 1:6)

There God shews that he had tried every remedy, but that the Jews, being wholly refractory in their spirit, were wholly incurable. Jeremiah speaks now on the same subject: and God thus exaggerates the wickedness of the people; for he testifies that he had tried whether they would be taught, not only by words, but also by scourges and chastisements, but that his labor in both instances had been in vain. He spoke before of teaching, "Keep thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst." The Prophets, then, had exhorted the Jews by God's command to rest quietly. This teaching had been useless and unfruitful. God now adds, that he had tried in another way to bring them back to a right mind; but this effort had been also useless and in vain: In vain have I chastised you; for ye have not received correction.

But he speaks of children, in order to shew that the whole people were unteachable: for though lusts boil more in youth, yet their obduracy is not so great as in the old; as he who has through his whole life hardened himself in the contempt of God, can hardly be ever healed and be amended by correction; for old age is of itself morose and difficult to be pleased, and the old also think, that wrong is in a manner done them when they are reproved: but when the insolence and obduracy of the young are so great that they reject all correction, it is more strange and monstrous. The Prophet then shews that there was nothing sound or right in that people, since their very children refused correction.1

We now perceive his object, -- that, as God had sent his prophets, and as their labor availed nothing, he now shews, that not only the ears of the people had been deaf to wholesome teaching, but that they were hard -- necked and untamable; for he had tried to correct them by scourges, but effected nothing. It follows, their sword has devoured the prophets. But I cannot finish now.


Grant, Almighty God, that since thou, in thy paternal kindness, daily invitest us to thyself, we may not harden ourselves against thy holy and salutary admonitions: and whenever thou chastisest us with scourges, may we not become obdurate against thee, but learn humbly to submit to thy word, and receive thy chastisement, and so profit by both, that we may not be exposed to the extreme judgment which thou denouncest on the obstinate; but may we, on the contrary, open a way for thy paternal goodness, so that thou mayest kindly deal with us, until thou receivest us into that blessed rest which has been prepared for us in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. -- Amen.

Lecture Ninth

IN yesterday's lecture, God complained that he had spent labor in vain in chastising the children of Israel; for they were of a nature utterly untamable and refractory, incapable of being improved. Hence he says, "I have in vain endeavored by punishments to bring you back to the right way." But he now exaggerates their crime of obduracy, as they not only had rejected wholesome instruction, but had also shed innocent blood, and persecuted as their enemies the prophets who had been sent to them from above, in order to promote their wellbeing. God then condemns them here not only for perverseness, but also for cruelty; for he says, that he had not gained his object in leading them to repentance, and also, that they had not only been refractory and incorrigible, but that they had besides cruelly raged against the prophets: and Jerusalem, we know, had been a slaughter -- house where many of the prophets had been killed.

Some explain the passage of false teachers, as though the Prophet had said, that it was to be ascribed to the wickedness of the people, that prophets, who were false and mendacious, suffered just punishment; and they lay hold on one word, even because they are called their prophets. Hence Jerome says, that they were said to be your, and not my prophets; as though God thus denied that he had given them any commission. But this view is forced and strained.

We must, then, understand the meaning to be what I have stated, -- that when God used means to heal the vices of the people, the very prophets, the ministers of salvation, were cruelly slain by the people. And this exposition best suits the expressions which follow, as a devouring lion. For God says, that the Jews raged against the prophets, as though they had entered a forest full of lions. It now follows --

1 Blayney renders the word "instruction." The Septuagint have "paidei>an-discipline: "the Syriac, Vulgate, and the Targum are the same; but the Arabic has "instruction-eruditionem." The strict meaning of the word rowm, is restraint, check, discipline, correction. Not to receive restraint or correction, is not to be thereby improved or reformed, but to proceed in the same course, see Jeremiah 5:3. The word has also a secondary meaning, instruction, as the effect of correction, see Zephaniah 3:7. But here it clearly means correction.-Ed.