Jeremiah 5:27

27. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.

27. Sicuti cavea plena est ave (hoc est, avibus,) sic domus eorum plenae sunt fraude: propterea aucti sunt et ditati.


Jeremiah goes on with the same subject. He made use, as we have said, of a similitude taken from fowling: he now applies this similitude to the Jews, -- that their houses were full of fraud, as the cage (some render it basket1) is full of birds: for fowlers, when they go for game, carry with them either bags or cages or baskets. So then Jeremiah says, that they collected plunder on every side, so that their houses were full of frauds: but by fraud he means spoils, which they acquired by unjust means. It may at the first view seem an obscure language; but if we take the word hmrm, mereme, in a passive sense, there will be nothing ambiguous. The Prophet then does not use a language strictly correct when he says, that their houses were full of deceit or fraud; but they were full of spoils which they had acquired by deceit and fraud. Hence, what he means by fraud were the plunders by which they had become rich, as he afterwards explains.

We now perceive, that the meaning of the Prophet is, -- that there was no longer a proof required, that the Jews circumvented the helpless and the poor, for their houses were filled with such spoils as made evident their wickedness: they had scraped together their riches by depriving the helpless and the poor of their substance. And hence he adds, By this have they increased and become rich. It is probable that they gloried in their wealth, like thieves, whose trade is to plunder: for when they increased, they thought themselves raised above all danger. They were like courtiers, who by rapines and frauds and tyrannical violence, draw to themselves from all quarters the possessions of others, so that one got annually sixty thousands and another a hundred thousands; and then they became the more ferocious, because they thought that they could not be called to an account, being blinded by the splendor of their riches. But the Prophet here derides this besotted glorying, and says, "Behold, they are become great in the world, and they would have themselves to be on this account exalted;" increased have they, he says, and become rich; that is, "If any one will now search their houses, he will indeed find many things by which they make a display before the eyes of the simple; but they are nothing but rapines, plunders, frauds, spoils, thefts, and, in a word, robberies." This is what he simply means. He afterwards adds --

1 It is so rendered in Amos 8:1, 2. This was no doubt a wicker-basket or cage for birds, to keep them, and not a trap-cage, as suggested by the Septuagint and Vulgate versions. The Targum is, "the house of feeding." The comparison is between a cage full of birds, which had been caught by snares, nets, or traps, and houses filled with spoils, which had been procured by frauds. And were "full" rendered "filled, "as it might be, there would be no need of the metonymy supposed to be in the word "fraud, "-

As the cage is filled with birds, So their houses are filled by means of fraud: Hence they have become great and grown rich.-Ed.