Lecture Eighty-Seventh

Jeremiah 23:12

12. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness; they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord.

12. Propterea erit via eorum ipsis tanquam lubricitates, in caligine impingent, et cadent in ea; quia inducam super eos malum, annum visitationis eorum, dicit Jehova.


Here he declares to false prophets and unfaithful priests that the Lord's judgment was nigh at hand, because they had deceived the people. But he speaks figuratively when he says, that their way would be to them as lubricities. By way he understands the means which they thought to be of the best kind, as elsewhere, nearly in the same sense, what is deemed delectable, or what conduces to sustain life, is called "the table" of the wicked. (Psalm 69:22.) The meaning then is, that when they thought all things prosperous, as if one made his way through a plain, they would find themselves on a slippery ground. Their way, then, would be to them as lubricities,1 that is, when they seemed to take a safe counsel and so prudently to set all things in order, as that nothing could happen amiss to them, their way would become slippery, and that in darkness. He doubles the evil; for one may stand on a slippery ground, and yet may take care of himself on seeing danger; but when darkness is added to the slippery ground, he who can neither stand nor move can hardly do otherwise than fall, either on this or that side: hence he says, they shall stumble and fall in it.

The reason follows, even because the Lord was displeased with them. They could not then escape ruin, for they had to do with God. But as the ungodly derive false confidence from God's forbearance, so that they dare to glory in their wickedness, he adds, the year of their visitation. Though, then, God would not immediately put forth his hand to punish them, yet their time was to come; for the year of visitation means the suitable time which God has determined within himself. He indeed defers punishment; but when hypocrites and his despisers have long abused his forbearance, he then suddenly begins to thunder against them; and this is the year of visitation. It follows, --

1 Such is the word literally; but there is here an ellipsis, not uncommon in Hebrew; the word way is left out before "lubricities" or slipperinesses. The word being plural, and a reduplicate, expresses what is extreme -- "most slippery," or, wholly slippery, --

12. Therefore their way shall be to them, As a way wholly slippery in thick darkness; They shall drive on and fall in it; For I will bring on them an evil -- The year of their visitation, saith Jehovah.

It is not darkness, but thick darkness is what the word means; and it is connected with the previous words by the Targ. and by all the versions, except the Syr.; which Blayney has thus followed, --

Into darkness shall they be thrust and shall fall therein.

But this spoils the whole force of the passage: their way was to be altogether slippery, and also in thick darkness; along which they would be hurried on, or slide, or drive on, and the inevitable effect would be falling. -- Ed.