Jeremiah 9:7

7. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them: for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?

7. Propterea sic dicit Jehova exercituum, Ecce ego examinabo eos (vel, conflabo; ad verbum, examinans, vel, conflans,) et probabo eos; nam quomodo agerem cum filia (ad verbum, a facie filiae) populi mei?


Jeremiah, speaking in God's name, concludes that the chastisement, of which he had spoken, was necessary; And what I have already said appears more clearly from this verse, -- that he brings to light their sins, that they might know that they could not escape God's hand, who is a just avenger of wickedness; for they had extremely provoked him by their petulance and obstinacy.

I will try or melt them, he says, and I will prove them. As they put on a false color, he says that there was a trial needful, as when any one shews copper or any other metal for gold, he is disproved by trial. Any impostor might otherwise sell dross for silver: the spurious metal, that is passed as gold or silver, must be proved; it must be cast into the fire and melted. As then the Jews thought that they had honest pretences to cover their baseness, God gives this answer, that he had yet a way to discover their deceitfulness, and as it were tells them, "The goldsmith, when any one brings dross for silver, or copper for gold, has a furnace, and he tries it; so will I try and melt you; for you think that you can dazzle ray eyes by false pretences: this will avail you nothing." In short, God intimates that he had means ready at hand to discover their deceitfulness, and that thus their hypocrisy would be of no advantage to them, as his judgments would be like a furnace. As then stubble or wood, cast into the furnace, is immediately burnt, so hypocrites cannot endure God's judgment. They indeed at first exhibit some brightness, until God tries them; but their deceits must eventually be discovered; and they themselves will be consumed when they come to be really proved. This is the meaning.

And the reason is added, For how should I do with the daughter of my people? This may be applied to Jeremiah himself; but it would be a strained meaning. He then continues, I have no doubt, to speak in God's name; How then should I do, or act, with the daughter of my people? God speaks here as one deliberating; and thus he more fully proves the Jews guilty; for since he admits them as judges or counsellors, they could give no other reply. We hence see that this question is very emphatic; for the Prophet intimates, that except the Jews were beyond measure stupid, they could no longer flatter themselves in their sins, so as to demand to be otherwise treated by God, as they had in so many ways and with s.uch perversity procured vengeance for themselves.1

But we hence learn that it is right that judgment should begin at the house of God, as it is elsewhere said. (1 Peter 4:17.) God indeed will not pass by anytliing without punishing it: hence the heathens must at last stand before his tribunal. But as he is nearer to his Church, their impiety, who profess themselves to be as it were his domestics, is less tolerable, as though he had said, "I have chosen you to be my peculiar people, and have taken you under my care and protection; when ye become intractable, what remains for me to do, but to try you, as ye act so unfaithfully towards me." It follows --

1 All the ancient versions (except the Vulgate) and the Targum read, as though tb "daughter," were ter "wickedness," as in Jeremiah 7:12. Both Houbigant and Horsley adopt this reading; and the first gives the meaning of "thus" to Kya, and not "how." Then the verse would be,

Therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts, -- Behold I will melt them that I may try them; For thus will I do because of the wickedness of my people.

The rendering of the last line, according; to the received text, might be this, which is nearly the Vulgate, --

For how should I deal otherwise with the daughter of my people?

The passage runs better in this way, than according to the proposed emendation. -- Ed.