Jeremiah 22:22

22. The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity; surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.

22. Omnes pastores tuos depascet ventus, et amatores tui in exilium migrabunt; certe tunc pudefies et erubesces ab omni malitia tua (hoc est, propter cunctam malitiam tuam.)


As the main fault was in the chief men, therefore God shews, that there would be no defense found in their prudence and wealth, when things came to an extremity: and it was a usual thing for the common people, when reproved, to refer to their rulers as their shield: nor is there a doubt but that the Jews made this objection to God's Prophets, -- "What do you mean? that God has suffered us to be unhappily governed by bad princes? then he has exposed us as a prey to wolves: now if he punishes us, it seems an unjust thing for us to suffer for the fault of others." At the same time, they who thus spoke were secure and despised God, because they thought that their safety was secured by their chief men.

Hence, the Prophet here shakes off from the Jews this vain confidence, Thy pastors, he says, the wind shall eat up. By pastors he understands the king and his counsellors, as well as the priests and the prophets. The word eat up, means that all would be consumed by the wind. Sometimes, indeed, men are said to feed on the wind, that is, when they entertain vain confidences. So the wind means in other places vain hopes, as they say; but it is in another sense that the Prophet speaks, when he says that pastors would be eaten up by the wind, that is, that they would vanish away like the smoke. Thus God shews that their presumption, and frauds, and false imaginations, were nothing but smoke and emptiness.1

He then speaks of their lovers, -- that they would migrate into exile: for the Jews thought at first, that they would be impregnable as long as the throne of David stood; and then we know that the common people were easily deceived by external splendor, when they saw that the priests as well as the prophets and the king's counsellors were endued with craftiness, and swelling with great pride; and hence they disregarded what the prophets threatened. Now, the second ground of confidence was their alliance with the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and other neighboring nations. Therefore God, after having said, that all their pastors would be destroyed, adds, that the Egyptians and others would be driven into captivity.

He afterwards says, Surely, thou shalt then be ashamed, and shalt blush for all thy wickedness;2 that is, "Thou shalt at length know that thou art justly punished for thy sins, when God shall denude thee of all aids, and make it evident that everything that now gives thee confidence is altogether empty and vain." And he mentions all wickedness; for the Jews had not sinned only in one thing, but had added evils to evils, so that they had provoked God's vengeance by an immense heap of wickedness. Their acknowledgment, however, would not be that which availed to repentance, but extorted; for the reprobate, willing or unwilling, are often constrained to acknowledge their shame. It follows --

1 The wind sometimes means what is empty; and in this sense the Sept., the Vulg., and the Arab. take it here, "All thy pastors the wind shall feed;" but the Syr. and the Targ. take the "wind" as meaning a blasting or a stormy wind: "All thy pastors the wind shall feed on," or eat up, is the Syr.; and the Targ. gives this paraphrase, "All thy pastors shall be scattered unto every wind." The verb, no doubt, means to feed, and to feed on, or eat up, or consume, but not to scatter or disperse. Therefore the meaning here is, either that the pastors would have nothing but what was empty to support them, or that they would be consumed as by a blast. The first is most consonant to the tenor of the passage; for the aid of their lovers is previously referred to; but they would find this aid to be "wind," and then it is added, that these lovers as well as themselves would be driven into captivity. There is a striking paronomasia in the words. The word for pastors is derived from the verb to feed. We may give this version, "All thy feeders shall the wind feed." The feeders had fed the people with winds, with empty expectations, and they, in their turn, would have nothing but wind, what was empty, to live upon or to support them. -- Ed.

2 Our version is better as to the two verbs here used, "ashamed and confounded." The latter is stronger than the former. The Vulg. and the Targ. invert the order, "confounded and ashamed." The Sept. and Arab. have "ashamed and dishonored," or despised. The first verb means simply to be ashamed, and the other to turn aside as it were from a sense of shame, as one not able to look on others. -- Ed.