Jeremiah 22:10

10. Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him; but sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.

10. Ne fleatis (vel, ne lugeatis) super mortuum, et ne condoleatis ei; flete flendo super eum qui migrat, qui non revertetur amplius, et videbit (hoc est, ut videt) terram nativitatis suae.


They explain this verse of Jehoiakim and Jeconiah, but I consider it rather a general declaration, for the Prophet wished briefly to shew how miserable would be the condition of the people, as it would be better and more desirable at once to die than to protract life in continual languor. Of the kings he wilt afterwards speak, but reason compels us to extend these words to the whole people.

When a people flee away, being not able to resist their enemies, they may look for a restoration. In that case all dread death more than exile and all other calamities which are endured in this life, for they who remain alive may somehow emerge from their ills and troubles, or at least they may have them alleviated; but death cuts off all hopes. But the Prophet says here that death would be better than exile; and why? Because it would have been better at once to die than to protract a life of misery, weariness, and reproach, and at last to be destroyed. By saying, then, Weep ye not for the dead, nor bewail him,1 it is the same as though he had said, "If the destruction of this city be lamented, much more ought they to be lamented who shall remain alive than those who shall die, for death will be as it were a rest, it will be a harbor to end all evils; but life will be nothing else than a continual succession of miseries." We hence conclude that this ought not to be confined to the two kings, but viewed as declared generally of the whole people.2

It follows, For he shall return no more, that he may see the land of his nativity. He shews that exile would be a sort of infection that would gradually consume the miserable Jews. Thus death would have been far better for them than to be in this manner long tormented and to have no relaxation. He then takes away the hope of a return, that he might shew that their exile would be as it were a dying languor, corroding them as a worm, so that to die a hundred times would have been more desirable than to remain in such a hard and miserable bondage. It now follows:

1 Literally, "nor nod for him." They were not to shake the head for him in sign of sorrow. There was a shaking of the head in scorn or derision as well as in condolence or sympathy. See Jeremiah 18:16. -- Ed.

2 The Versions and the Targum seem to favor this view of Calvin, as they render the participle, "going away," in the present tense, as in our version. The verse, then, is as follows, --

Weep ye not for the dead, nor bewail him; Weep, weep for him who goeth away; For he will not return any more, And see the land of his nativity.

The repetition of the verb "weep" is emphatical. Our version, "weep sore," is the Arab. The Sept. and the Targ. take it as an instance of what often occurs in Hebrew, a participle joined to a verb to enhance its force; but it is not so here, the two verbs are in the imperative mood. But it may be that there is here, as many think, a direct allusion to Josiah, who was dead, and was much lamented, and to Shallum, who was taken captive and carried into Egypt, where he died. In that case we ought to render the second line thus, --

Weep, weep for him who has gone away.

The Hebrew participle may often be rendered in the past tense; and so it is rendered here by Gataker, Venema, and Blayney. -- Ed.