Lecture One Hundred and Sixth

Jeremiah 27:19-22

19. For thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, and concerning the sea, and concerning the bases, and concerning the residue of the vessels that remain in this city,

19. Quia sic dicit Jehova exercituum de columnis et de mari, et de basibus, et de residuo vasorum quae supersunt in urbe hac,

20. Which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took not, when he carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem;

20. Quae non abstulit Nebuchadnezer rex Babylonia, cum adduxit captivum Jechaniam filium Jehoiakim regem Jehudah e Jerusalem, Babylonem, et omnes proceres Jehudah et Jerusalem;

21. Yea, thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the Lord, and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem;

21. Certe sic dicit Jehovah exercituum, Deus Israel, de vasis quae supersunt in domo Jehovae et in domo regis et in Jerusalem;

22. They shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be until the day that I visit them, saith the Lord: then will I bring them up, and restore them to this place.

22. Babylonem transferentur, et illic erunt usque ad diem quo visitabo ea (vel, cos, quod mihi magis placet,) dieit Jehova; et ascendere faciam eos et reducam cos ad locum hunc.


Jeremiah said, in the passage we considered yesterday, that it was more to be desired that God should keep what remained at Jerusalem, than that what had been taken away should be restored, for the time of punishment had not yet passed away; and thus he condemned the false teachers, because they had presumptuously and boldly promised a quick return as to the king as well as to those who had been led with him into exile, he now confirms the same thing, and says that what remained as yet at Jerusalem was already destined for their enemies the Babylonians, and would become their prey. Nebuchadnezzar had in part spared the Temple and the city; he had taken away chiefly the precious vessels, but had not entirely spoiled the Temple of its ornaments. As, then, some splendor was still to be seen there, the Jews ought to have learned that he had acted kindly towards them. He now says, that the Temple and the city would be destroyed; and this may be gathered from his words when he says, that there would be nothing remaining.

Thus saith Jehovah concerning the pillars, etc. There is no doubt but that Solomon spent much money on the pillars, as the Scripture commends the work. He adds, concerning the sea, which was a very large vessel, for from it the priests took water to wash themselves whenever they entered the Temple to perform their sacred duties. And though it was made of brass, it was yet of no small value on account of its largeness; and for this reason it was called sea. He mentions, in the third place, the bases.1 Jerome reads, "To the bases," for the preposition is la, but it means often of, or concerning, as it is well known. He then declares what God had determined as to the pillars as well as the sea and the bases. There were, indeed, other vessels besides; but he specified these in order that the king, and also the people, might know that nothing would be left remaining in the Temple.

And he also adds, The residue of the vessels which remains, in this city. By adding, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took not away, he indirectly condemned the Jews, because they did not acknowledge that the cruelty of their enemy had been moderated by divine power. For we know how cruel were Babylonians, and how insatiable was their avarice, and that nothing would have been left in the Temple had not their hands been in a manner restrained by the hidden power of God. The Jews ought to have duly considered this, and therefore the Prophet alludes to their ingratitude when he says, that Nebuchadnezzar had not taken away the vessels when yet he led captive the king and all the chief men, both of the city and the whole land. There is, indeed, to be understood here a comparison between the less and the greater, as though he had said, "Nebuchadnezzar would not have been so gentle had not God moderated his spirit, for he spared not your king, he led into exile all your chief men; how, then, was it that he left anything to remain in your city, and that the pillars were not taken away? Did he despise them? They have been polished with exquisite skill, and the materials are very costly. Ye hence see that God gave you a proof of his mercy, for some things still remain safe in the city as well as in the Temple; yet ye disregard this so great a benefit bestowed on you by God; what, then, will at length happen to you?" We now perceive the Prophet's design in these words when he says, that the vessels were not taken away, even when the king was taken captive, and when the chief men of the land were led into exile.

Useful instruction may also be hence gathered. Whenever God chastises us, let us ever consider that he does not proceed to extremities; for the cause of murmuring, and often of despair, is this, -- because we think that he deals with us with extreme rigor. But this happens through our sinful and perverted judgment; for God never afflicts us so severely but that some portion of kindness and of moderation ever appears; in a word, his judgments are always founded on his goodness. Were any one, therefore, rightly to call to mind how far he is from suffering extreme evils, it would conduce much to alleviate his sorrows. But when we reject every knowledge of God's goodness, and only consider his severity, we either murmur or in a manner become furious against him. But this passage teaches us, that when God leaves some residue to us, it is an evidence of his paternal favor, and that therefore something more may be hoped for, provided we from the heart repent.

The design, then, of the Prophet's warning was, that the Jews might receive this remaining favor of God, and not proceed in their obstinacy until God again stretched forth his hand to destroy them.

He repeats again the same words, Yea, thus saith Jehovah, etc.; for so ought the particle yk, ki, to be rendered in this place.2 And he emphatically expresses what was of itself sufficiently clear, that he might deeply imprint on their minds this declaration of God, and that thus some terror might penetrate into the hearts of those who were so obdurate that it was not easy to effect anything by a simple statement of the truth. Thus, then, saith Jehovah of the vessels which yet remain in the Temple of Jehovah and in, the palace of the king, They shall be carried to Babylon, and there they shall be, etc. Jeremiah intimates that the Jews had no hope, as they were perversely resisting God and refusing to be chastised by his hand. And he says, until the day in which I shall visit them, the vessels; for so the reference may suitably be made; but as it is often the case in Hebrew to put a pronoun when anything remarkable is spoken without any noun, or a subject, as they say, preceding it, I am inclined to refer it to the Jews themselves; for the restoration of the vessels depended on that of the people. He means, then, that the vessels would be held captive until God allowed a free return to the people, which happened through the edict of Cyrus, after he had obtained power in Chaldea and Assyria.

It was the same thing as though the Jews were reminded that the exile which had been predicted would be long, and that they foolishly hoped for what the false prophets had promised as to the vessels; for God had no greater care for the vessels than for his chosen people, as the vessels were acceptable to God for the people's sake. Here, then, Jeremiah confirms what he has said elsewhere, and that often, that the people would be captives until the day of visitation, that is, till the end of seventy years. When, therefore, says God, I shall visit the Jews themselves, I will then bring back also the vessels; and so it was permitted by the command of Cyrus. We now understand the simple meaning of the words. Another narrative follows, --

1 Or foundations, those on which the sea or pillars stood. See I Kings 7:27-37. -- Ed.

2 A clear instance of the affirmative sense of this particle, for the passage can admit of no other, though the versions, except the Syr., retain its causal sense. -- Ed.