Lecture Fifty-Seventh

Jeremiah 14:15-16

15. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.

15. Propterea sic dicit Jehova super prophetas, qui prophetant in nomine meo, et ego non misi eos, et dicunt, Gladius et fames non erit in terra hac; in gladio et fame consumentur prophetae illi:

16. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them; them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.

16. Et populo cui ipsi prophetarunt (illis, est supervacuum) erunt projecti in compitis Jerusalem a facie famis et gladii (hoc est, coram fame et gladio vel praelio) et non erit qui sepeliat eos, ipsi, uxores eorum, et filii eorum, et filiae eorum, et effundam super eos malum ipsorum.


Jeremiah, after having declared to the false prophets, that as they had by their flatteries deceived the people, they would have to suffer the punishment they had deserved, turns now his address to the people themselves. God might, however, have seemed to deal with them rather hardly, that he inflicted so severe a punishment on men who had been deceived; but the answer to this is evident; for it is certain that except the world winingly sought falsehoods, the power of the devil to deceive would not be so great. When men therefore are led astray by impostures, it happens through their own fault, inasmuch as they are more ready to embrace vanity than to submit to God and his word. And we must remember that saying of Paul, that all the reprobate are blinded and given up to a reprobate mind, because they wilfully seek falsehood, and will not obey the truth. (Romans 1:28) And on this account God declares that he tries the hearts of men, whenever false prophets come abroad; for every one who really fears God shall by no means be led away by the deceits of Satan and of impostors. Hence, whenever men are too credulous and readily embrace deceptions, it is certain that their hypocrisy is thus justly punished by God. And it was well known to the Prophet, that the Jews ever wished for such prophets as soothed their ears and promised them an abundant harvest and a fruitful vintage. (Micah 2:11) As then they had itching ears, a liberty was justly given to Satan to deluge the whole land with falsehood; and so indeed it happened. There is then no wonder that the Lord was so severe in chastising the people; for they had not been deceived except through their own fault. The same thing happens at this day. Though we are touched with pity when we see the ministers of Satan prevail in deceiving the common people: yet we must remember that a reward is rendered by heaven for the impiety of men, who either extinguish or smother the light of God as much as they can, and seek to plunge into darkness.

This then was the reason why God so severely visited the Jews, who had been deceived by false teachers: it was owing to their previous impiety and ingratitude. And on this account also he adds at the end of the verse, I will pour forth upon them their wickedness. Some think that the word her, roe, may denote punishment as well as wickedness, as Nwe, oun, also is taken for both. But the Prophet seems to give a reason why God had resolved to execute so dreadful a judgment on the Jews; and the reason was, because they were worthy of such a reward. I am therefore inclined to render the word wickedness, as though he had said, "A dreadful calamity indeed awaits this people; but that they may not complain of my severity, they shall receive the reward of their own wickedness." However this may be, the Prophet no doubt wished here to close the mouths of the Jews, that they might not proceed in their evasions, as though God treated them with too little kindness. Hence then it appears, that God does not heedlessly execute his vengeance on the innocent; but that the teachers and the whole people, who approved of them, were involved in the same punishment.1

And he says, They shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem by the famine and the sword, or on account of the famine and the sword. They shall then all of them, that is, their carcases, be cast out; for their carcases are evidently meant, as he immediately adds, and no one shall bury them; and he mentions their wives and children. And these had no excuse for themselves, for we have seen in the seventh chapter that this charge was brought against them, rothat the children gathered wood, that the parents kindled the fire, and that the women kneaded the dough to make cakes for their idols. The Prophet then intimates, that no one would escape, because they were all implicated in the same wickedness, some more and some less, but so far, however, that the children were not to go unpunished, because they followed their fathers, nor the wives, because they followed the example of their husbands. It follows --

1 These two verses are differently connected by some: the words, "these prophets," at the end of the fifteenth verse, are joined with the "the people" in the next verse; and this construction is evidently the best, --

15. Therefore, thus saith Jehovah, -- As to the prophets who prophesy in my name, (Though I have not sent them, yet they say, -- The sword and the famine shall not be in this land) By the sword and by the famine shall they perish:

16. These prophets, and the people, to whom they prophesy, Shall be cast out into the streets of Jerusalem, On account of the famine and the sword; And there will be none to bury them -- Neither them, nor their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters; Thus will I pour upon them their own wickedness.

The preceding connection is favored by the Septuagint and the Arabic, but the other versions do not join the "prophets" and the "people" together. "Their own wickedness" is "their own evils" in the Septuagint, -- "their own evil" in the Vulgate, -- and "their own wickedness" in the Syriac. If rendered "wickedness," then it is a metonymy for the fruit or effect of wickedness; if "evil" then the meaning is, the evil due to them. -- Ed.