Jeremiah 6:4-5

4. Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out.

4. Sanctificate super eam proelium; surgite et ascendamus meridie: vae nobis, quia inclinavit dies, quia extensae sunt umbrae vespertinae.

5. Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces.

5. Surgite et ascendamus noctu, et demoliamur palatia ejus.


The Prophet leaves here the similitude he had adopted; for he does not now speak of shepherds, but expressly describes the enemies, as coming with great force, and furiously attacking and laying waste both the city and the whole of Judea. He was before like God's herald, proclaiming war; but he now, by a sort of personification, introduces the Chaldeans encouraging one another to fight. Sanctify, he says, war against her. So the Hebrews speak; for in all ages wars, we know, were proclaimed by a solemn rite. God, no doubt, has implanted this feeling in all nations, that no wars should be suddenly undertaken, and that no arms should be taken up except for a lawful reason: for the proclamation of war was a testimony, that they did not contend with one another but for causes just and necessary. It is indeed true, that wars have been often undertaken rashly, and for no just causes; but yet it was God's will that this custom should remain and continue in use, in order to take away excuse from men given to cruelty, or led by ambition to disturb the world and harass others. This then is the reason for this manner of speaking, Sanctify war; it is the same as though they declared and proclaimed a just war by a solemn ceremony. It was according to the common practice that the Prophet spoke when he said, Sanctify war against her, as we say in our language, Sommez -- la.

Then follows the readiness of the enemies, yea, their incredible quickness, for he shews that they were extremely swift, Arise ye, and let us ascend at mid-day. But they who come to assail a city do so usually in the morning. When the heat prevails, it is not a suitable time, for the heat of the sun debilitates the body. Then enemies rest when night comes, except an unexpected advantage should offer itself: but having been refreshed, they rise early with recruited strength for fighting; they scale the walls or assail the city by other means, or beat down the walls by warlike instruments: but to begin the work at mid-day, when a city is to be attacked, is by no means usual. Hence the Prophet intimates, that so ripened was God's judgment, that the Chaldeans, after having come to the walls of the city, would not wait, no, not even a few hours. Arise ye, and let us ascend at mid-day.

He then subjoins, Alas for us, for declined has the day, and the evening shadows are extended. He employs a military language; for soldiers, we know, are for the most part fierce and barbarous, and never speak in moderate terms. They have ever in their mouths, "Alas for us!" or they use some other words, reproachful either to God or to men. The Prophet then expresses the words of the soldiers; for he describes the Chaldeans, and represents, as I have said, to the Jews the scene as present, that he might dissipate their delusions, in which they were wholly asleep. Alas, then, for us! for declined has already the day, already have the evening shadows extended: they who have added, "Too far," because they had declined more than usual, have mistaken the meaning of the Prophet. It is the same as though he had said, "Already the night is nigh, and why should we give over? and why do we not make such an impetuous assault as to take the city in a moment?" This is the real meaning of the words.

He afterwards adds, Arise ye, and let us ascend in the night; that is, "As we cannot take the city in six hours, (from mid-day to night were six hours, for they divided the day into twelve hours, and the first hour began at the rising of the sun, and the twelfth hour closed the day,) as then we cannot take the city in six hours, let us attack it in the night." We see here how graphically is described the extreme ardor of their enemies; for they were urged on by the hidden power of God; and this is what Jeremiah intended to express.1 He afterwards adds --

1 These two verses seem to have been the language of the enemies on their march towards Jerusalem. When men go to a chief city from any quarter, it is always ascending. When on their march, they encouraged one another to ascend by mid-day, as b may be rendered, but the day declined before they reached the city; then they encouraged each other to continue their march in the night,-

Proclaim ye against her war: Rise, and let us ascend by mid-day.- Alas for us! for declined has the day, For extended have become the shadows of the evening: Arise, and let us ascend by night, And destroy her palaces.

The last word is rendered "foundations" by the Septuagint,-" houses" by the Vulgate,-and "palaces" by the Targum. This is an instance of the loose way in which the versions were often made.

To "sanctify war, "is not to prepare it, but to proclaim it, as Calvin says, by a solemn ceremony.-Ed.