1. In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, came this word from the Lord, saying,
1. Principio regni Joakim filii Josiae, regis Jehudah, fuit sermo hic a Jehova, dicendo,
2. Thus saith the Lord, Stand in the court of the Lord's house, And speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord's house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word.
2. Sic dicit Jehova, Sta in atrio templi Jehovae, et loquere ad omnes urbes Jehudah (id est, omnes cives urbium Jehudah) quae veniunt ad orandum in templum Jehovae hos omnes sermones quas mandavero tibi ad loquendum ad ipsos (hoc est, loquaris ipsis;) ne diminuas verbum.
This chapter contains a remarkable history, to which a very useful doctrine is annexed, for Jeremiah speaks of repentance, which forms one of the main points of true religion, and he shews at the same time that the people were rejected by God, because they perversely despised all warnings, and could by no means be brought to a right mind. We shall find these two things in this chapter.
He says that this word came to him at the
The time, however, is not here repeated in vain, for we know that the miserable derive some hope from new events. When men have been long afflicted and well-nigh have rotted in their evils, they yet think, when a change takes place, that they shall be happy, and they promise themselves vain hopes. Such was probably the confidence of the people when Jehoiakim began to reign; for they might have thought that things would be restored by him to a better state. There is also another circumstance to be noticed; though their condition was nigh past hope, they yet hardened themselves against God, so that they obstinately resisted the prophets. It hence appears that the reprobate were become more and more exasperated by the scourges of God, and had never been truly and really humbled. This was the reason why Jeremiah, according to God's command, spoke so sharply.
I pass by other things and come to the words, that
Thus then they might have contended with the Prophet; but he anticipates these objections, and allows what they might have pleaded, that they came to the Temple to offer sacrifices; but he intimates that another thing was required by God, and that they did not discharge their duties in coming to the Temple, except they faithfully obeyed God and his Law. We now see why the Prophet said, that he was sent to those who came up to Jerusalem to worship God. The deed itself could not indeed have been blamed; nay, it was highly worthy of praise, that they thus frequented the worship of God; but as the Jews regarded not the end for which God had commanded sacrifices to be offered to him, and also the end for which he had instituted all these external rites, it was necessary to remove this error in which they were involved.
Speak, he says,
He afterwards adds,
"Thou shalt not add, nor diminish,"
in reference to the Law, in which the people were to acquiesce, without corrupting it with any human devices. To diminish then was to take away something from the word.2But we ought to consider the reason why this was said to Jeremiah; it never entered the mind of the holy man to adulterate God's word; but God here encourages him to confidence, so that he might boldly execute his commands. To diminish then something from the word, was to soften what appeared sharp, or to suppress what might have offended, or to express indirectly or coldly what could not produce effect without being forcibly expressed. There is then no doubt but that God anticipates here this evil, under which even faithful teachers in a great measure labor; for when they find the ears of men tender and delicate, they dare not vehemently to reprove, threaten, and condemn their vices. This is the reason why God added this,
We may now easily learn the use of this doctrine; the Prophet was not sent to profane men, who openly avowed their impiety, or lived in gross sins; but he was sent to the very worshippers of God, who highly regarded his external worship, and for this reason had left wives and children, came to the Temple and spared neither labor nor expense. As, then, he was sent to them, we must beware, lest we sleep in our vices and think that we have done our duty to God, when we have apparently given some evidences of piety; for except we really and
1 Indeed his message does not seem to have been to the priests nor to the false prophets, but to the people who came to worship, as though it was useless to address them. There are none in so hopeless a state as unfaithful and corrupt priests and false prophets; the people led astray by them may be restored, but their own case is almost past hope. This appears to be intimated here; for they are passed by, while the people are addressed. -- Ed.
2 As it stands opposed to add, to subtract or take away would be the most suitable term. Such is the word used by the Sept., the Vulg., and the Syr.; the Targ. is diminish, the word of our version. -- Ed.