Jeremiah 5:2

2. And though they say, The Lord liveth; surely they swear falsely.

2. Etsi, vivit Jehova, dixerint, ob id in vanum (vel, fallaciter) jurabunt.


This is added by way of anticipation; for the Jews, as it is well known, thought that they had a cover for all their vices, inasmuch as they had God's name continually in their mouths. Since then they professed to worship the God of Abraham, they thought that this pretext was sufficient to cover all their wickedness. The Prophet obviates this objection, and shews that this disguise was of no avail, because in thus using God's name, they profaned it: and he goes still further; for he shews that the Jews, not only in common practice, were wholly destitute of the fear of God, but that when anything of a religious kind appeared among them, it was sacrilegious; and this is far worse than when God's name is forgotten, and wretched men allow themselves a full license in sinning, as though they could not conceal their wickedness: for when they openly provoke God, and as it were dishonor him to his face, how detestable and how monstrous is their impiety! This then is what Jeremiah sets forth, Though they say, Live does Jehovah, yet in this they swear falsely.

We now perceive the Prophet's meaning: In the first place, he takes away from hypocrites their vain confidence in thinking that God would be propitious to them, provided they avowed his name, without considering how precious God's name is, but regarding it as nothing to swear carelessly by his name: but the Prophet not only condemns the hypocrisy of the Jews, but, as I have said, he enhances their wickedness; for they hesitated not to profane God's sacred name, and to carry on, as it were, an open war with him, by abusing his name in swearing.

By mentioning, Live does Jehovah, he refers to the words which the godly also use when they make an oath; for when they appeal to the living God, it is the same thing as though they stood before his tribunal; and at the same time said, that they knew that though God may defer his vengeance, yet an account must be given, because he ever lives. Thus the godly acknowledge that there is nothing gained by delay, in case God suspends his vengeance, if they swear falsely. But the Prophet, as I have already said, applies this to hypocrites, who seemed to ascribe great honor to God, for nothing is more specious than their words: gall indeed was in their heart, while honey was on their lips. Hence the Prophet derides this false pretense, and says, "Even when they swear most solemnly as to the words used, and shew a high concern for religion, nevertheless they swear falsely." Some render Nkl, lacen, surely, or certainly; but the meaning will be plainer, if we render it "nevertheless."1 It follows --

1 There are many MSS. which have Nka, "surely, "but Nkl may also be so rendered; yet, as "nevertheless" is its meaning, in Jeremiah 16:14, and other places, it may be so taken here. The Septuagint must have read Nk al, and the sentence is a question, "Do they not thus swear falsely?" But the early versions favor the present reading; and it gives a suitable meaning,-

And though "Live does Jehovah, "they say, Nevertheless falsely do they swear.

The verbs are in the future tense, but used to express present acts, as is the case often in Hebrew, and also very commonly in Welsh. The words in the latter language might be expressed exactly as in the former, and be understood as speaking of what is present,-

Ac er "Byw yw Jehova" a ddywedant,
Etto yn gelwyddog y tyngant.-Ed.