Jeremiah 6:13

13. For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.

13. Quia a parvo eorum usque ad magnum eorum omnis (vel, quilibet) con cupiscit cupiditatem (hoc est, cupidus est lucri, vel, addictus avaritiae;) et a propheta usque ad sacerdotem quilibet operatur mendacium (hoc est, fraudulenter agit.)


The Prophet now again declares, that it was nothing strange that God resolved to deal with so much severity with that people, and to execute on them extreme vengeance; for no part was whole and sound, but impiety had pervaded all ranks. It might, indeed, be ascribed to the young, as well as to the old, for he says, From the small to the great; but I prefer to understand the first clause of the poor and the lower orders, and the second of the higher ranks, who excelled in power and wealth among the people. He says, then, that contempt of God and every kind of wickedness prevailed, not only in one part but in the whole community, so that there was no soundness from the head to the soles of the feet. We now, then, perceive what the Prophet means by saying, From the small to the great.1

And this appears still clearer from the end of the verse, where he says, From the prophet to the priest. He amplifies here what he had said of the small and the great. Hence we see, that by the great he understands not those of mature or advanced age, but such as were in dignity and honor, who were in esteem on account of their wealth or of other endowments. So also, on the other hand, he does not call those small who were young, but such as were despised, who were of the lowest order, and formed as it were the dregs of society: for as I have said, he amplifies what he had said, by adducing the prophets and the priests. Even though the king and his court were extremely wicked, yet some care for religion ought to have prevailed among the prophets and the priests; there ought at least to have been among them some decency; for they were appointed for the purpose of carrying light for others. As, then, even these were apostates, and had degenerated from the true worship of God, what could have been found among the rest of the people?

We now, then, see that the mouth of the ungodly was here closed, so that they could not expostulate with God or blame his severity, for they had all arrived at the highest pitch of impiety, inasmuch as the prophets and the priests were no less corrupt than the common people.

By saying that all coveted covetousness, he refers to frauds and base gain; in that he includes every kind of avariciousness.2 By saying that the priests and the prophets wrought falsehood, or acted fraudulently, he means the same thing, but in other words, even that there was no integrity in those teachers who ought to have been leaders to the blind: for God had ordained them that they might, as I have said, carry light to all others and shew them the way of salvation. It follows --

1 "From the small of them even to the great, "Septuagint; "From the less to the greater, "Vulgate; "From the least of them even to the greatest of them, "Targum, Syriac, and Arabic. The last is the best. The positive degree is often put in Hebrew for the superlative. See Jonah 3:5.-Ed.

2 The words literally are "gaining gain, "rendered in Proverbs 1:19, and Proverbs 15:27, "greedy of gain." The Septuagint give only a general idea, "performed unlawful things;" the Vulgate has, "given to avarice;" the Targum, "gape after riches." The prevailing sin of all ranks was covetousness; and the special sin of the priests and prophets was falsehood: they taught falsely. The verse may be thus rendered,-

For from the least of them to the greatest of them, His all is to gain; And from the prophet to the priest, His all is to act falsely.

"His all" means all his object, or all that he did.-Ed.