Lecture Eighty-Third

Jeremiah 22:20

20. Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed.

20. Ascende in Libanum, et clama, et in Basan ede vocem tuam, et clama a lateribus, quia contriti sunt omnes amatores tui.


Jeremiah triumphs over the Jews, and derides their presumption in thinking that they would be safe, though God was against them. He then shews that they were deceived in promising to themselves impunity; but he bids them to ascend Mount Lebanon, and to cry aloud on Mount Bashan, that they might know that there would be no aid for them when God's judgment came. But the whole verse is ironical; for they would in vain cry and howl. Indeed, the Prophet thus treated them, because he saw that they were wholly irreclaimable. They were not worthy then that he should give them counsel, or faithfully warn them. He was therefore under the necessity ironically to deride their madness in promising safety to themselves, while they were continuing to provoke God's vengeance against themselves.

But at the same time he accommodates what he says to their intentions; for there is no doubt but that they ever cast their eyes either on Egypt or on Assyria for any aid they might want. Hence he says, Ascend Mount Lebanon, and cry, and then cry on Mount Bashan, and cry all around, (for by sides he means all parts;) but thou shall gain nothing, he says, for consumed are all thy lovers.1 We learn from the end of the verse that the Prophet said, Ascend, and cry, by way of derision. By lovers he means the Egyptians and the Assyrians, and other neighboring nations; for the Jews, when they feared any danger, were wont to flee to their neighbors, and God was in the meantime neglected by them; and for this reason they were called lovers. God had espoused the people as his own, and hence he often called them his wife, and he speaks here in the feminine gender; and thus the people are compared to a wife, and God assumes the character of a husband. When, therefore, the people, according to their self-will and humor, wandered here and there, this levity was called adultery; for the simplicity of faith is our spiritual chastity; for as a wife who regards her husband alone, keeps conjugal fidelity and chaste conduct, so when we continue to cleave to God alone, we are, in a spiritual sense, chaste as he requires us to be; but when we seek our safety from this and that quarter, we violate the fidelity which we owe to God. As soon, then, as we cast our thoughts here and there, it is to act like a woman who seeks vagrant and unlawful connections.

We now see the reason why the Prophet compares the Egyptians and Assyrians to lovers, for he intimates that the people of Israel did in this manner commit adultery, as it has been stated in other places. It follows, --

1 "All around," Myrbem, is rendered "beyond the sea" by the Sept.; "to those who pass by," by the Vulg.; "from the farther shores of the sea, by the Syr.; "at the fords," by the Targ.; "beyond the fords," that is, of the Nile, by Grotius and Piscator; and "from the borders," by Blayney. But the most suitable rendering here is what has been adopted by Gataker and Venema, "from Abarim," a mountain in the confines of Moab. See Numbers 27:12. There are here two mountains previously mentioned, lying to the north; and here is another to the east. Jerusalem (for that is here addressed) is commanded, by way of taunt, to ascend these mountains to cry for aid and to utter its lamentation; for all its lovers from these quarters were destroyed; the king of Babylon had subdued them. -- Ed.