Lecture Ninety-Third

Jeremiah 24:8

8. And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the Lord, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt.

8. Et sicut ficus malae, quae non comeduntur prae malitia (id est, amaritudine,) sic certe (est yk, sed abundat, certe sic,) dicit Jehova, ita ponam Zedekiam, regem jehudah, et principesejus, et reliquias Jerusalem, quae residuae sunt in terra hac, et eos qui habitant in terra AEgypti.


God, after having promised to deal kindly with the captives, now declares that he would execute heavier punishment on King Zedekiah, and the whole people who yet remained in their own country. We have stated why God exhibited this vision to the Prophet, even that he might support their minds who saw nothing but grounds of despair, and that also, on the other hand, he might correct their pride who flattered themselves in their own lot, because God had deferred his vengeance as to them. Then the Prophet, having given comfort to the miserable exiles, now speaks against Zedekiah and his people, who boasted that God was propitious to them, and that they had not only been fortunate, but also wise in continuing in their own country.

He then says that Zedekiah and his princes, and all who remained in Judea, were like the bad figs, which could not be eaten on account of their bitterness. I have said that this is to be referred to punishment and not to guilt. They had sinned, I allow, most grievously; but we are to regard the design of the Prophet. The meaning then is, that though the condition of those who had been driven into captivity was for the present harder, yet God would deal more severely with those who remained, because he had for a time spared them, and they did not repent, but hardened themselves more and more in their wickedness.

Now we know that Zedekiah was set over the kingdom of Judah, when Jeconiah surrendered himself to Nebuchadnezzar: he was the uncle of Jeconiah, and reigned eleven years; and during that time he ought to have been at least wise at the expense of another. For Eliakim, who was also called Jehoiakim, had been chastised, and that not only once; but Nebuchadnezzar, after having spoiled the temple, rendered him tributary to himself, on his return to Chaldea. At length, after having been often deceived by him, he became extremely displeased with him; and his son, who had reigned with his father, three months after his death, voluntarily surrendered himself into the power and will of the conqueror. Mathaniah afterwards reigned, of whom the Prophet speaks here. So, he says, will I render1 Zedekiah (called previously Mathaniah) the king of Judah, and his princes, and the remnants of Jerusalem, who remain in this land, (for the greater part had been led into exile,) and those who dwell in the land of Egypt, for many had fled thither; and we know that they were confederates with the Egyptians, and that through a vain confidence in them they often rebelled.

And this was also the reason why the prophets so sharply reproved them: they relied on the help of Egypt, and took shelter under its protection. When, therefore, they found themselves exposed to the will of their enemies, they fled into Egypt. But Nebuchadnezzar afterwards, as we shall see, conquered Egypt also. Thus it happened that they were only for a short time beyond the reach of danger. But as fugitive slaves, when recovered, are afterwards treated more severely by their masters, so also the rage of King Nebuchadnezzar became more violent against them. It now follows --

1 Rather "make." The verb Ntn, to give, means often to make, to constitute; and such is its meaning evidently here. As the figs were bad, unfit for eating; so God would make Zedekiah, the princes, etc., like them. The previous words, "yea, thus saith Jehovah," would be better included in a parenthesis:

8. But like the bad figs, which cannot be eaten, they being so bad, (yea, thus saith Jehovah,) so will I make Zedekiah, etc. -- Ed.