Jeremiah 5:12

12. They have belied the Lord, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine:

12. Negarunt Jehovam (alii vertunt, mentiti sunt Jehovae,) et dixerunt, Non est, et non veniet super nos malum; et gladium et famem non videbimus.


He expresses more clearly and fully what he had previously said. Their perfidy was, that they had denied God. I do not wholly reject what others have said, that they lied to God: but as b is here used after sxk, I cannot see that it means to lie. It ought to have been in that case, wsxk, hwhyl cacheshu La-Jeve: but as it is hwhyb, Be-Jeve, I doubt not but that he simply declares that they denied God; and the context seems to require this meaning; for he immediately adds, that they said there was no God.1 This certainly was not to lie to God, but to reject him as one who did not exist. As then the sense would be less significant, were we to say, that they lied to God, I am inclined to take the other meaning, that they denied God; that is, that they wholly disregarded him or sought to erase the remembrance of him.

The reason which follow requires special notice: They have said, He is not. To render this more clear, he says, that they boasted of impunity. It seemed, no doubt, to exceed credibility, when the Prophet said that God was denied by the Jews; but that they might not evade the charge, he continued it, they have said, He is not. We are further to consider why he brought against them so grievous and so atrocious a charge: it was, because they boasted that they should be free from the punishments which the prophets had threatened.

We then see what Jeremiah alleges against them, even their contempt and also their perverseness. They felt themselves safe notwithstanding the prophetic threatenings. The Prophet says, this is nothing less than wholly to deny God. Were we judges, this declaration might appear too severe: but let us pause, and acquiesce in what the Holy Spirit has pronounced.

And this is a remarkable passage, whence we may learn how abhorred by God is their indifference, who harden themselves against his threatenings, and wholly disregard his judgment. For if we acknowledge him as God, his power as a judge ought not to be taken away. What does God's name mean? Doubtless they who imagine that God remains quiet in heaven and enjoys his leisure and his rest, though they may not in words deny God, yet treat him with mockery: there is in them at the same time no religion and no thought of a divine being. Let us then carefully notice this passage, in which the Prophet testifies that God is denied by us, except we be moved by his threatenings; for the torpidity in which we indulge ourselves, when God denounces his judgment on us, is the same as the denial of him; nor is there anything by which they can extenuate their sin who thus despise the vengeance of God. For the Holy Spirit has once for all declared, that all who trifle with the prophets do in their hearts say, that there is no God, inasmuch as they deprive him of his power and of his office, and leave him only a naked essence; nay, they make him only a creature of the imagination or a mere phantom.

We now then understand the meaning of the Prophet: he more fully explains the perfidy with which he had charged the Jews; for he says that they denied God, and said, He is not; and they proved that they did all this, for they did not believe the evil to be at hand which the prophets had announced. It afterwards follows --

1 According to all the instances in which the verb occurs, followed by b, its meaning is what Calvin states, though not so rendered uniformly in our version. The verb, followed by b, occurs elsewhere five times,-Leviticus, 6:2, 3; Joshua 24:27; Job 8:18; Isaiah 59:13; Hosea 9:2. In Leviticus 6:3, hb sxkw, ought to be rendered, "and denieth it;" and so the verb ought to be, rendered in the previous verse, "and deny to his neighbor his deposit, etc. It is rendered here "lied to the Lord" by the Septuagint and the Targum; and "denied the Lord" by the Vulgate and the Syriac, and so also by Piscator, Venema, and Blayney. The denial seems to have been as to the Lord speaking in his prophets. Calvin appears to have gone too far in saying that they denied his existence. The expression which follows, "Not he, "means that he was not in the prophets. The import is correctly given in our version, "It is not he, "that is, who speaks in the prophets. The verse might be literally given thus,-

12. And they deny Jehovah, And say, "It is not he, And come upon us shall not evil, And the sword and the famine we shall not see."

Then the following verse, which is a continuation of what they said, proves clearly what the meaning of this is,-

13. "And the prophets shall be wind, For the word is not in them: Thus shall it happen to them,"


Thus shall it be done to them.

That is, they shall be found out to be like the wind, having spoken nothing real, such as shall be accomplished. Indeed the last line may be translated thus,-

Thus shall he do to (or, deal with) them.

The reference in this case is to God, who, they thought, would render abortive, or turn as it were into wind, what the prophets had threatened. Their blindness and presumption appear to us to have been extreme.-Ed.