Jeremiah 22:8-9

8. And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbor, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city?

8. Et transibunt gentes multae per urbem hanc, et dicent quisque socio suo (vir ad socium suum, ad verbum,) cur fecit Jehova in hunc modum urbi huic magnae?

9. Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.

9. Et dicent, Quia dereliquierunt foedus Jehovae Dei sui, et sese inclinarunt coram diis alienis, et coluerunt eos.


The Prophet shews in these words how blind the Jews were as to their own ruin, in disregarding in so refractory a manner the judgment of God. The words no doubt embrace two contrasts; he compares mortal men with God, and those many nations with him alone. The Jews could not bear God as their judge, and were still refractory and strove by their perverseness to overcome him. Then the Prophet says, that as they would not endure to be judged by God, judges would come who would pronounce on them a free impartial sentence; and who were they to be? the heathens. And then, as the Jews would not obey the one true God, the Prophet sets many nations in contrast with the one true God.

We hence see the full import of these words, Pass shall many nations through this city;1 that is, God has hitherto adorned this city with many privileges, so that it became like a miracle to foreigners, for so conspicuous was the dignity of this city, that it attracted the notice of all, and its fame was known far and wide. Now, he says, this city shall be deprived of all its ornaments, when God shall depart from it. Pass, then, he says, shall man. nations through this city, and they will inquire, every one of his friend, Why hath Jehovah done thus to this city? Jeremiah, no doubt, indirectly condemns, not only the sloth, but also the insensibility which had so demented the Jews, that they never duly reflected on God's judgment, nor were ever touched by the curses of the Law. He then shews that there would be more understanding and wisdom in the Gentiles, for on seeing Jerusalem overthrown and wholly demolished, they would know that this had not happened by chance, but was an evidence of vengeance from heaven. We thus see that he upbraided the Jews with their own stupidity, as they did not consider the judgment of God; but he ascribed to the nations wisdom and the spirit of inquiry; for they would ask, "Why has Jehovah done thus to this city?"

"The nations," he says, "will understand what ye do not comprehend, even that this city will exhibit an example of dreadful vengeance, and this will be the subject of their inquiry; but while God now of his own free will foretell this to you, ye close your ears; surely there would be no need of much inquiry in a matter so clear, were you not deaf and blind, and indeed obstinate, for God of his own accord warns you beforehand. What, then, can this be, that God forewarns you and ye refuse to hear him, except that the devil bewitches you?"

And he says, this great city; for its ruin was more remarkable on account of its greatness. When a small town is destroyed, hardly any account is made of the event; but when a city falls, which was everywhere celebrated for its largeness, and also for the extraordinary benefits conferred on it by God, it excites the wonder of all, as though it had fallen from the clouds.

He afterwards adds, that there would be not only a spirit of inquiry among the nations, but that every one would become spontaneously a judge of the whole people: they shall answer, he says, because they have forsaken the covenant of Jehovah their God. Now, when Jeremiah declares that all the nations would become the judges of the people, he no doubt intended to condemn the false confidence in which they proudly indulged. At the same time, he says, "they have forsaken the covenant of Jehovah their God," in order that he might take away the plea of ignorance. For they had not only deprived the eternal God of his own right and authority, but they had become doubly wicked, because God had made himself familiarly known to them. As, then, true religion had been fully revealed to them in the Law, hence their perverseness and wicked and base ingratitude appeared, for they had rejected God thus made known to them, and they bowed down before foreign gods and served them. I only touch here on these points, for they have been elsewhere explained. It follows, --

1 So the Versions, "through," and not, "by," as in our version; it is "nigh" in the Targ. The preposition is le, upon, over, most commonly. It may mean the passing over the city when in ruins. -- Ed.