Jeremiah 4:2

2 And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.

2. Et jurabis, vivit Jehova, in veritate, in judicio et in justitia; et benedicent se in eo gentes et in eo gloriabuntur.


Here the Prophet goes on with the same subject; for he denudes these flatteries, by which they thought that God could be pacified: for when they had his name in their mouth, they thought it sufficient for their defense, -- "What! do we not call upon God? do we not ascribe to him his due honor, when we swear by his name?" There is in the Prophet's words a part given for the whole; for swearing is to be taken for the whole of God's worship. When therefore the Israelites made a profession of God's name, they thought themselves absolved from all guilt.

Hence the Prophet says, Thou shalt swear truly in the name of God; that is, "Ye are indeed self -- confident, because an external profession of religion seems to you to be a sort of expiation, whenever ye seek to contend with God: ye boast that you are Abraham's seed, and swear by the name of God; but ye are sacrilegious, when ye thus falsely profess God's name." Swear then, he says, in truth.

We hence see how the words of the Prophet harmonize together: he had said, that Israel had hitherto dealt falsely with God, because they had not performed what in words they had promised, for they went astray; and now he adds, that it availed the Israelites nothing, that they openly called on God and shewed themselves to be his people by an external worship: this, he says, is nothing, except ye worship God in truth and in judgment and in righteousness.

Truth is no doubt to be taken here for integrity, as we shall see in the fifth chapter: it is the same as though he had said, that God is not rightly worshipped, except when the heart is free from all guile and deceit; in short, he means that there is no worship of God without sincerity of heart. But the truth, of which the Prophet speaks, is especially known by judgment and righteousness; that is, when men deal faithfully with one another, and render to all their right, and seek not their own gain at the expense of others. When therefore equity and uprightness are thus observed by men, then is fulfilled what is required here by the Prophet: for then they worship not God fallaciously, nor with vain words, but really shew that they do, without disguise, fear and reverence God.

What follows is variously explained by interpreters; but the Prophet, I have no doubt, does here indirectly reprove the Israelites, because God's name had been exposed to many reproaches and mockeries, when the heathens said, that there was no power in God to help the Israelites, and when the people themselves expostulated with God, as though they had a just cause for contending with him, -- "What! God has promised that we should be models of his blessing; but we are exposed to the reproaches of the heathens: how can this be?" Since then the Israelites thus deplored their lot, and cast the blame on God, the Prophet gives this answer, Bless themselves shall the nations and glory in him. Some refer this to the Israelites, but not correctly. It had indeed been said to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all nations be blessed," or, shall bless themselves. But this blessing had its beginning, as it is here noticed by the Prophet. For we must look for the cause or the fountain of this blessing: how could the nations bless themselves through the seed or the children of Abraham, except God, the author of the blessing, manifested his favor towards the children of Abraham? Very aptly then does the Prophet say here, Then bless themselves in God shall all the nations, and in him shall they glory; that is, "Ye are to be blamed, that God's curse is upon you and renders you objects of reproach to all people, and also, that heathens disdain and despise the name of God: for your impiety has constrained God to deal more severely with you than he wished; for he is ever ready to shew his paternal clemency. What then is the hindrance, that the nations bless not themselves in God and glory in him? that is, that pure religion does not flourish through the whole world, and that all nations do not come to you and unite in the worship of the only true God? The hindrance is your impiety and wickedness; this is the reason why God is not glorified, and why your felicity is not everywhere celebrated among the nations." We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet, -- that the Jews groundlessly imputed blame to God, because they were oppressed by so many evils; for they had procured for themselves all their calamities, and at the same time gave occasion to heathens to profane God's name by their reproaches.1 It follows --

1 This is a very lucid and satisfactory exposition. The import of the passage is very clearly given. A simpler version may be made, and such as will exhibit the meaning more plainly. When two vaus occur, they may often be rendered, when and then: so here,-

2. When thou shalt swear, "Live does Jehovah," In truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; Then call him blessed shall nations, And in him shall they glory.

To swear is to avow Jehovah as our God. The verbs "bless" and "glory" are both in Hithpael, which has commonly a reciprocal sense, but not always. See Psalm 72:17; Psalm 105:3. This and the preceding verse belong to the last chapter.-Ed.