Lecture Sixteenth

Jeremiah 4:15

15. For a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from mount Ephraim.

15. Quia vox annuntians e Dan, et promulgans cladem (vel, poenam) e monte Ephraim (alii vertunt, iniquitatem Nwa).


The Prophet again repeats what he had said, -- that the Jews were given up, on account of their perverseness, to final ruin; for they had so often and for so long a time provoked God, and had not attended to pious admonitions, when God by his servants the prophets offered pardon to them on their repentance. But the whole passage, which I shall now explain, gives a lively representation of the ruin that was at hand; for we see that in this verse there is a scene presented to us, as the Prophet sets before our eyes what could not be fully expressed in words.

A voice, he says, declares from Daniel This was the extreme border on the north He had before said, that an evil was coming from that quarter, that is, from the north; for God had chosen the Chaldeans as the executors of his vengeance: hence he says, "a voice is heard from Dan;" not that there was an army already prepared to attack the Jews, but Jeremiah speaks here by the prophetic spirit; and he sets the event as present before the Jews, who thought not that so grievous an evil was nigh. For we said yesterday, that when God for a time spares hypocrites, they become more hardened, and with haughty contempt deride his prophets. When, therefore, Jeremiah saw that he had to do with blocks, he deemed it necessary to use figurative language, which exhibited to them more clearly that the judgment, which the Jews imagined they had no reason to fear, was near at hand: hence he says, a voice is heard from Dan.

And proclaims Nwa, aun, that is, trouble, or punishment, or ruin. The other rendering, to which I have referred, is not suitable. The word Nwa, aun, does indeed properly signify iniquity; but it is to be taken here for punishment.1 But whenever the Prophets use this term, they intimate that evil is not inflicted by God except for just causes; and they remind us that its source or fountain is to be found in the wickedness of men. Ruin then was coming from Mount Ephraim which was near the tribe of Judah and also Jerusalem. But it was the same as though Jeremiah had said, that God was now thundering from heaven, and that it would be of no avail to the Jews to close their ears: for though they were even deaf, yet God's vengeance would soon come to light, accompanied with dreadful noise. It follows --

1 The first meaning of the word is iniquity, wickedness; and as the fruit or the effect of wickedness is affliction, distress, misery, it is sometimes taken to express the latter idea. It may be rendered here, distress.-Ed.