Lecture Thirty-Third

Jeremiah 8:10

10. Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.

10. Propterea dabo uxores eorum alienis, et agros eorum possessoribus; quia a parvo usque ad magnum omnes cupiditatem concupiverunt (vel, cupiditate concupiverunt;) a propheta usque ad sacerdotem omnes egerunt fallaciter.


GOD here threatens punishment, because he found that he effected nothing, and that he had to do with an obstinate people, having before tried whether they were reclaimable. Having seen that exhortations were of no avail, he now comes to extreme severity, I will give, he says, their wives to strangers. He sets forth, by a particular instance, the evils which usually accompany wars: and nothing is more distressing than when the wife is snatched away from her husband; for if husbands had their option, they would prefer instant death than to bear such a disgrace. Jeremiah then shews that the most atrocious thing that happens to conquered nations was nigh the Jews, -- that their men would be deprived of their wives. He afterwards says the same thing of their fields; God declares that he would give the fields to their possessors. By this mode of speaking he intimates, that they would be deprived of their fields, not for a short time, but perpetually.

There is, indeed, a contrast here implied: for it sometimes happens, that enemies prevail and plunder everything; but yet they take no long possession of the fields, for a change succeeds: but when he calls enemies possessors, he means that there would be such a calamity, that the Jews would for a long time, even for their life, be banished from their country, and would lose their possessions. They thought that the land was so given to them, that it could never be taken from them: and doubtless the Lord would have never expelled them, had they not defiled it with their pollutions; but as they had polluted it by their sins, they deserved to be banished from it. So the Prophet shews that their confidence was absurd, in thinking that they would be the perpetual inheritors of that land: "Succeed you, "he says, "shall others, who shall possess it as it were by an hereditary right." We now perceive the Prophet's meaning.

He afterwards mentions the reason why God had resolved to deal so severely with them, For they are, he says, from the least to the greatest given up to avarice.1 He means that no equity prevailed among the people; for under one kind of sin he includes all frauds and plunders, and every kind of injustice. He then says, that every one was addicted to his own gain, so that they practiced mutual wrongs without any regard to what was right and just.

He then enlarges on the subject and says, that all, from the prophet to the priest, acted deceitfully. There is here also a part mentioned for the whole. But Jeremiah in various ways sets forth the wrongs by which men harassed one another. Nor does he exclude violence when he speaks of fraud; but it is the same as though he said, that they, being forgetful of what was right, practiced fraud of every kind. It was, indeed, a dreadful thing, that there remained no rectitude or justice in the prophets and the priests, who ought to have carried light for others, and to have shewn to them the right way, as God had constituted them to be the leaders of the people. Since, then, even these acted deceitfully, there must have been among the common people the most disgraceful injustice. Hence the Prophet shews by these words, that God could not be charged with too much rigor, as though he treated the people cruelly; for there was such a mass of wickedness, that it could no longer be borne. It follows --

1 It would be more suitable to render "for" because, as it is explanatory of Nkl, "for this, "or, for this reason, at the beginning of the verse. This illative, and others too, are often used anticipatively,-

For this reason, give will I Their wives to strangers, their fields to inheritors; Because from the least even to the greatest, Ever one covets gain; From the prophet even to the priest, Every one practices deception.-Ed.