Jeremiah 4:9

9. And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.

9. Et erit die illo, dicit Jehova, peribit cor Regis et cor procerum, et obstupescent sacerdotes, et prophetae mirabuntur (vel, attoniti erunt).


As the royal dignity still continued with the Jews, though their power was greatly diminished, they, relying on that distinction, hoped that they had a sufficient protection: hence it was, that they were not moved by any denunciation; for the royal power, which remained not altogether secure, and yet so in some degree, was to them like a shield. We also know what pride filled the courtiers; for they extolled their kings, and thus made a show of their prudence and magnanimity. Since, then, this foolish notion of the chief men respecting their king, and their delusive boasting, deceived the Jews, the Prophet says, In that day perish shall the heart of the king, and the heart of the princes.

By heart he no doubt means the understanding or the mind, as the word is to be taken in many other places. Moses says,

"God has not yet given you a heart to understand."
(Deuteronomy 29:4.)

The Latins also call men "hearted" (cordatos) who excel in intelligence and wisdom.1 So, then, the Prophet shews, that it was a vain and deceptive fancy for the people to expect that the king would be an invincible defense to them; for "the king, "he says, "shall then be deprived of understanding and reason; and the counselors, who lay claim to understanding, shall be found then to be wholly foolish: there is, then, no ground for that vain confidence which deceives you." The Prophet briefly intended to shake off that false confidence, by which the Jews were inebriated, when they thought that there was a sure safety in the intelligence of the king and princes.

He says the same thing respecting the priests as well as the prophets, as much glory belonged to the priestly order; for the tribe of Levi had not taken that honor to itself, but God himself had set priests over the people. Hence an opinion prevailed, that the priests could not be without understanding and wisdom. With regard to the prophets, Jeremiah no doubt conceded the name to impostors, who falsely professed the name of God; and this way of speaking is common in the writings of the prophets. He does not, then, mean those true and faithful ministers of God, who duly executed their office, but those who boasted of the name and title: and he says of these, that they would be astonished.2

He, in short, deprives the people of that false confidence, through which they hardened themselves, so as not to fear God's judgment.

But this passage is entitled to special notice, because it shews that God's grace is not to be tied either to ranks of men or to titles. The prophetic office had always been in high repute; nor was the priestly without honor, for it was founded on God's command; but Jeremiah nevertheless declares, that there would be no understanding in the priests and in the prophets, because they would become stupefied and astonished. And with regard to the king, we know that he was the representative of Christ; and yet he pronounces the same thing of the king, and also of his counselors, -- that they would be made blind by the just vengeance of God, so as not to see anything. he afterwards adds --

1 Though the most common meaning of bl, heart, is what is here stated, yet it means also strength, firmness, courage. See Deuteronomy 20:2, 3; 2 Samuel 17:10; Psalm 22:14; Psalm 73:26. And this meaning is most suitable to this passage.-Ed.

2 The verse is as follows,-

And it shall be in that day, saith Jehovah, That perish shall the heart of the king And the heart of the princes, And confounded shall be the priests, And the prophets shall be astonished.

"Confounded," that is, like persons at their wit's end, not knowing what to do, or what course to take. "Astonished," or amazed, that is, at witnessing the reverse of what they had prophesied; being filled with stunning and stupefying amazement.-Ed.