Lecture Twenty-Sixth

Jeremiah 6:24

24. We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail.

24. Audivimus famam ejus, dissolutae sunt manus nostrae, angustia apprehendit nos, dolor tanquam parturientis.


Jeremiah proceeds in the same strain; for he sets before the eyes of the Jews the judgment of God, and draws them, as it were against their will, into the middle of the scene. And this was done by the prophets, as it has been already said, because by plain words they could not move the hearts of the people on account of their contempt of God, and of the long obduracy in which they had settled. Hence he says, that heard had been the report of the enemy, and that immediately dissolved had their hands. When the Prophet spoke, the Jews did not think that their enemies were so near. But the phrase is to be thus explained: "As soon as ye shall hear the report, your hands shall be relaxed, and lay hold on you shall distress."

The similitude of a woman in travail is often found in Scripture; and what is to be understood in most places is sudden and unexpected pain: but in this place the Prophet refers rather to the violence of pain; though the other meaning, which I have just stated, is not to be excluded; for it is probable, that when he saw that the hardness and obstinacy of the people were so great, he adopted this similitude, in order to shew, that however heedlessly they despised the punishment due to them, it could not yet be avoided, as it would seize them suddenly like that of a woman in childbearing. He afterwards adds --