Lecture Twentieth

Jeremiah 5:10

10. Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the Lord's.

10. Ascendite muros ejus et diruite (vel, dissipate;) et consumptionem ne feceritis (vel potius, finem;) auferte propagines ejus (vel, ramos, vel, dentes murorum, ut alii vertunt, vel, pinnas,) quia non sunt Jehovae.


Here God by the mouth of his Prophet addresses the enemies of his people, whom he had appointed to be the ministers of his vengeance: and this was usual with the prophets, when they sought more effectually to rouse and more sharply to touch the hearts of men; for we know how great is their indifference when God summons them to judgment. As then Jeremiah saw that simple instruction availed but little, he used this mode of speaking. He then in the person of God addresses the Chaldeans, and bids them to come to attack Jerusalem. The prophets often speak thus, -- "Hiss will God for the Egyptians," or, "Sound shall the trumpet, and he will send for the Chaldeans." (Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 7:18.) But the representation is more effectual to penetrate into the hearts of men, when the Prophet at God's command assembles enemies as a celestial herald and bids them what to do, even to destroy the whole city.

He says first, Ascend ye her walls. By which words he intimates, that the Jews in vain boasted of the height of their walls, for God would make their enemies to ascend them, so that the entrance would not be difficult. They hoped indeed that they were safe, because the city was well fortified. Hence he says, that they were deceived; and he exposes their folly, for their walls would not protect them.

He afterwards adds, An end do not make. This sentence is explained in two ways. Some take it in a good sense, as though God mitigated the extremity of their punishment, according to the meaning which some attach to the words in the last chapter; for though God in that passage terrified the Jews, yet they consider that by way of mitigation this was added, "I will not yet make a consummation," that is, there will be some remaining. And the prophets are wont thus to speak, when they intend to shew that some seed will ever remain, so that the Church shall not wholly be destroyed. Thus also do the same interpreters explain this passage, as though God had said, that the ruin of Jerusalem would be such that the Church would still continue, for there would be no consummation. But others take hlk, cale, as signifying an end: and this meaning is more suitable; for God in this verse severely threatens the Jews with destruction. It is no objection, that it is said elsewhere, that the consummation would not be complete; for it is quite evident that the prophets do not always adopt the same mode in speaking: when they denounce vengeance on the reprobate, they leave no hope; and so this mode of speaking often occurs, "I will make an end:" but when they address the faithful, they moderate the severity of their threatenings by saying, "God will not make a consummation." I am therefore disposed to take their view, whom regard consummation here as signifying an end; and llk, calal, means to finish. The meaning then is, "Demolish the city, and let there be no end, "that is, destroy it entirely.1

To the same purpose is what immediately follows, Take away her shoots, or her branches, or the teeth of her walls, as some render the word. I think, however, that the Prophet refers to the width of the walls in their foundations; for we know that walls are so built, that the foundation is wider than the upper structure. The word which the Prophet uses, means shoots, which spread far and wide. They who render it, the wings of the walls, seem not to me to understand what the Prophet means; for he speaks not here of the top of the walls, but of the foundations, as though he had said, "Overthrow or demolish from the foundation the walls of the city: "and why? They are not Jehovah's, he adds. The Jews were inflated with this empty confidence, -- that they were safe under the protection of God; for they imagined that God was the guardian of the city, because the sanctuary and the altar were there. Hence the Prophet declares, that the walls or the foundations were not God's.2 Nor could it have been objected, that it is said elsewhere, that the city had been founded by the Lord: God had indeed chosen his habitation and his throne there; but on this condition -- that the people should faithfully worship him. When Jerusalem was made a den of thieves, God departed thence, according to what is said by Ezekiel in chapter 14 (Ezekiel 14). Here then the Prophet reproves that foolish confidence, by which the Jews deceived themselves, when they thought that God was in a manner bound never to forsake the defense of the city. He denies that their walls and foundations were God's; for the Jews by their sins had so polluted the whole place, that God could not dwell in such filth. It follows --

1 See Note on Jeremiah 4:27.

2 It is true the word means shoots or branches; but as the root means to spread, it evidently signifies here battlements, bulwarks, or ramparts. It is rendered "uJposthri>gmata-props, pillars," by the Septuagint; "propagines-shoots," by the Vulgate; "foundations," by the Syriac and Arabic; and "palaces, or towers, by the Targum. Our version has the most suitable word-"battlements." Blayney has "branches, "and thinks that the cities of Judea are meant; but this is not suitable to the context.-Ed.