Jeremiah 4:30

30. And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.

30. Et tu perdita (aut, vastata) quid facies? Quamvis to induas coccino, quamvis to ornes ornamentis auri (vel, monilibus aureis, ut alii vertunt,) quamvis distinguas fuco (aut, stybio, ut alii vertunt,) oculos tuos, frustra to decorabis (ad verbum, pulchrificabis;) abominabuntur to amatores tui, animam tuam quaerent.


The Prophet boldly ridicules the Jews, in order to cast down their pride and haughtiness. It was indeed his object to check that pride with which they were elated against God. The Prophet could not have done this without assuming a higher strain than usual, and by rendering his discourse more striking by using metaphorical words. It is indeed the language of derision; he exclaims, What wilt thou do, thou wretched one? The Jews had hitherto been inflated with contempt towards God, and their high spirits had not been subdued. Since, then, their haughtiness continued untamed, the Prophet cries out and says, "Thou wretched, what wilt thou do?" as though he had said, "In vain do they flatter themselves and promise themselves aid from this and from that quarter, for their condition is past any remedy."1

He afterwards adds, Though, etc.; for so I consider the connection of the verse; and they seem right to me who do not separate the words of the Prophet. But the view which others take appears frigid, "Who now adornest thyself, who now clothest thyself in scarlet, who adornest thyself with ornaments of gold, who paintest thy eyes black." To no purpose do they introduce the relative, for it renders the meaning of the Prophet different from what it really is.

These parts follow one another, and the principal verb is found in these words, In vain dost thou adorn thyself; and the particle yk is to be rendered "though."

There are those who consider ceremonies to be intended, as hypocrites think that they are by these protected against God's judgment: but this view is unsuitable and wholly alien to what is here set forth. It is indeed true, that ceremonies are to hypocrites dens of thieves, as we shall hereafter see, (Jeremiah 7:11;) but the Prophet in this place refers to meretricious ornaments; for the people, as it had before appeared, were become like an adulterous woman. God had formed with them as it were a marriage -- contract; they had violated it; and this perfidy was like the defection of an adulteress, who leaves her husband and wanders here and there, and lives as a prostitute. As then harlots, for the purpose of enticement, are wont to dress themselves elegantly, to paint their faces, and to use other allurements, the Prophet says, "In vain wilt thou adorn thyself; though thou puttest on scarlet, though thou shinest with gold even from the head to the feet, yet all this will be superfluous and useless; and though, in addition to all this, thou paintest thy face,2 it will yet avail thee nothing."

Now, we know whom he understands by lovers, even the Egyptians and the Assyrians. For the Jews, when oppressed by the Egyptians, were wont to seek help from the Assyrians; and again, when attacked by the Assyrians, they became suppliants to the Egyptians. The prophets compared this sort of conduct to that of strumpets; for whenever they courted the aid of either of these parties, they broke the bond of marriage, by which they were connected with God, and perfidiously violated their pledged faith. Hence, the Prophet says, "Even if the Egyptians promise wonderful things to thee, as a lover allured by thy beauty and by thy meretricious ornaments, yet they will deceive thee; and if the Assyrians shew themselves ready to bring aid, they also will disappoint thy hope: so that thou shalt be like a destitute strumpet, reduced to extreme want." I cannot finish today: I must therefore defer the rest until to-morrow.


Grant, Almighty God, that though we are torpid in our vices, we may yet be attentive to these examples of thy wrath, by which thou designest to warn us, so that we may learn by the misery of others to fear thee: and may we be also attentive to those threatenings, by which thou drawest us to thee, as thou failest to allure us by thy kindness: and may we, in the meantime, feel assured that thou wilt ever be propitious and merciful to all miserable sinners, who will from the heart seek thee and sincerely and unfeignedly repent; so that we may contend with our vices, and with real effort strive to deliver ourselves from those snares of Satan which he ever spreads for us, in order that we may more freely devote ourselves altogether to thee, and take such delight in thy righteousness, that our object and aim through the whole course of our life may be to please thee, and to render our services approved in Christ Jesus our Lord. -- Amen.

Lecture Eighteenth

WE stated, yesterday, what the Prophet meant by the scarlet clothing, by the golden ornaments, and by the painting, which he mentions, even those delusive crafts, which the princes and the people employed in forming confederacies; for they ever acted perfidiously. But it was also said, that the Prophet refers to the spiritual marriage which God had formed with the people of Israel; for a kind of adultery was committed, when they sought foreign alliances; as they thus denied God, being not satisfied with his protection. As a wife considers herself sufficiently protected by her husband, so the Israelites ought to have depended on God only: but inasmuch as they ran here and there, following their own vagrant desires, the Prophet justly compares them to adulterous women.

But he says, that they would be an abomination to their lovers; and not only so, but that both the Egyptians and the Assyrians, in whom they foolishly trusted, would be their worst enemies: Hate thee, he says, shall thy lovers;3 yea, they will seek thy life; that is, those aids, by which thou thinkest to become safe and secure, will be for thy destruction. It then follows --

1 The words "thou wretched, "or, more commonly, "thou spoiled, "are left out in the Septuagint and Arabic, and are retained in this sense by the Vulgate, Syriac, and the Targum. But, as Blayney justly says, it is a rendering that is not correct. "Thou, "as in the received text, is feminine, and "spoiled" is masculine. The Keri and many MSS. have ta instead of yta; and dwds, as Blayney supposes, is not a passive participle, but a verb in the infinitive mood, used as a noun. So he gives this version,-

And against spoiling what wilt thou do?

The word "spoiled," or wasted, may indeed refer to "every city," mentioned in the former verse, and the word for city is masculine. We may then render thus,-

And the city being wasted, what wilt thou do?

"The city" may be deemed as the poetical singular for the plural.-Ed.

2 The Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Targum give this rendering,-

"Though thou paintest with stibium thine eyes."

The Hebrew literally is, as it is rendered by Blayney,-

Though thou distendest with paint thy eyes.

The verb erq, means first to rend, to divide, and then to divide in the sense of distending or enlarging. Large eyes were considered a beauty, and women used a sort of paint, or rather powder, for the purpose of enlarging them. See Lowth's note on Isaiah 3:16, and Parkhurst under the word Kp.-Ed.

3 Rather,-

Rejected thee have paramours.

This is the meaning of the verb when followed as here by b. See note on Jeremiah 2:37. The word for paramours means not lovers, but lewd or mad lovers. The verb is rendered "to dote upon," Ezekiel 23:12.-Ed.