Jeremiah 25:8-9

8. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Because ye have not heard my words,

8. Propterea sic dicit Jehova exercituum, Eo quod non audistis ad sermones meos (hoc est, non attenti fuistis ad sermones meos:)

9. Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.

9. Ecce ego mittam et accipiam (vel, assumam) omnes cognationes (vel, familias) Aquilonis, dicit Jehova, et Nebuchadnezer regem Babylonis servum meum, et inducam eos in terram hanc et in habitatores ejus, et in omnes gentes istas in circuitu, et perdam eas, et ponam eas in stuporem et sibilum, et in vastitares seculi (id est, perpetuas.)


Here follows a denunciation of punishment; the Prophet says that God would no longer deal in words, for their iniquity had ripened, according to what is in Genesis,

"My Spirit shall not contend (or strive) any more with man." (Genesis 6:3.)

When God prepares to execute vengeance on the wickedness of men, he says that there is no more time for contending. A sudden execution of judgment is then what is here intended; but he mentions at the same time the punishment. After having explained the cause of so much severity, even because they would not hear the words of God, he adds, Behold, I will send for and take all the families of the north, etc. I have no doubt but that the Prophet alludes to the edicts of kings, for when they wish to raise an army they publish their edicts, and order those everywhere to meet who have either given their names or been enlisted as soldiers. So God now by these words intimates that the Chaldeans were under his power, so that they were ready, as soon as he gave them a signal; according to other modes of speaking he uses in other places, but in the same sense, "I will hiss," and also, "I will send an alarm." The Scripture is full of expressions of this kind, which shew that all mortals are prepared to obey God whenever he intends to employ their services; not that it is their purpose to serve God, but that he by a secret influence so rules them and their tongues, their minds and hearts, their hands and their feet, that they are constrained, willing or unwilling, to do his will and pleasure. And in the same sense he calls Nebuchadnezzar his servant, for that cruel tyrant never meant to offer his service to God; but God employed him as his instrument, as though he had been hired by him. And we shall see also elsewhere that he is called God's servant.

And it ought to be noticed, for we hence learn the fact, that many are God's servants who are yet wholly unworthy of so honorable a title; but they are not so called with respect to themselves. Nebuchadnezzar thought that he was making war with the God of Israel when he invaded Judea; and only ambition, and avarice, and cruelty impelled him to undertake so many wars. When, therefore, we think of him, of his designs and his projects, we cannot say that he was God's servant; but this is to be referred to God only, who governs by his hidden and incomprehensible power both the devil and the ungodly, so that they execute, though unwittingly, whatever he determines. There is a great difference between these and God's servants, who, when anything is commanded them, seek to render that obedience which they ought -- all such are faithful servants. They are, then, justly called God's servants, for there is a mutual concord between God and them: God commands, and they obey. But it is a mutilated and a half service when the ungodly are led beyond the purpose of their own minds, and God uses them as instruments when they think of and design another thing.

It must at the same time be noticed that this name of servant is given, though in an inferior sense, to Nebuchadnezzar for the sake of honor, in order that the Jews might be made ashamed; for it was a great reproach to them that a heathen had been chosen by God, and had obtained the title of a servant, when they themselves had become aliens. The Prophet then, no doubt, intended to cast reproach on them by raising to this dignity the king of Babylon. There was also another reason, even that the Jews might know that whatever they were to suffer would be inflicted by God's hand, and that they might not otherwise think of Nebuchadnezzar than as God's scourge, in order that they might thus be led to confess their sins and be really humbled. We now perceive the meaning of the words.

He says afterwards, I will bring them on this land and on all its inhabitants, etc. By these words he confirms what I have just referred to, that God had his vengeance ready as soon as he purposed to treat the Jews as they deserved. As he had then said that Nebuchadnezzar and all the people of the north were prepared by him as hired soldiers, so he now adds that victory was in his power -- I will bring them, he says, over the land and over all the neighboring nations which are around.1 Why the Prophet denounces punishment here on other nations we shall see elsewhere. The Jews, in addition to other vain confidences, were wont to flatter themselves with this, that if Nebuchadnezzar should invade the territories of others, all would unite together against him, and that by such a confederacy they could easily overcome him. As, then, the Jews looked to all parts, and knew that the Egyptians were in alliance with them, and were also persuaded that the Moabites, the Tyrians, the Syrians, and all the rest would become confederates, they became confident, and indulged in that security by which they deceived themselves. This, therefore, is the reason why the Prophet expressly threatens the nations by which they were surrounded, not for the sake of these nations, but that the Jews might cease to entertain their vain confidence.

God says that he would make all nations, as well as the Jews, an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations. He intimates that it would be a dreadful calamity, such as would astonish all that heard of it. As it is said elsewhere, "The report alone will excite alarm;" so in this place, I will make them for an astonishment. When a moderate calamity is related to us, we are indeed moved to pity; but when the greatness of the evil exceeds belief, we then stand amazed, and all our senses are stunned. The Prophet then means that the calamity which God would bring on the Jews would be, as it were, monstrous, such as would stupify all that would hear of it.2

At last he adds, that they would be for perpetual desolations. He does afterwards, indeed, mitigate the severity of these words; for he confines God's vengeance to seventy years. But this mode of speaking is common in Scripture; for, Mlwe, oulam stands opposed to a short time. It is to be taken in different senses, according to the circumstances of the passage. It sometimes designates perpetuity, as when the Prophet says, from age to age, that is, through continued ages, or through a course of years, which shall last perpetually. But age, or Mlwe, oulam, is often to be taken for the time allotted to the people until the coming of Christ; and sometimes it means simply a long time, as here and in many other places. It follows, --

1 "Over or on the land," etc., rather than "against;" for it is literally, "I will cause them to come over this land," etc. So is the Vulg. -- Ed.

2 The three words are by the Sept. and Arab. rendered "extinction -- hissing -- perpetual reproach;" by the Vulg., "astonishment -- hissing -- perpetual solitudes;" by the Targ., "waste -- astonishment -- perpetual desolations;" and by the Syr., "astonishment -- hissing -- waste for ever." The first word, hms, means first, waste or desolation, and then what waste occasions, wonder or astonishment. It evidently means the latter here, as desolation is expressed by the last word; it is so rendered by the Vulg. the Syr., and in our version and by Blayney and others. The two words are again found together in the eleventh verse. Here the order, as often is the case, is inverted; the effect is first mentioned, then the cause: the cause of astonishment and hissing would be the desolations. -- Ed.