Jeremiah 29:10

10. For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

10. Quia sic dicit Jehova, secundum mensuram (nam talm accipitur metaphorice pro mensura; sed adhuc aspera esset loquutio, ideo simplicius vertendum est, quia ubi impleti fuerint) in Babylone septuaginta anni, visitabo vos, et suscitabo super vos sermonem meum bonum, ut reducam vos ad locum hunc.


In order to expose the dreams by which the false prophets had inebriated the people, he again repeats what he had said, that the end of their exile could not be expected until the end of seventy years. And this way of teaching ought to be particularly observed, for the truth of God will ever avail to dissipate all the mists in which Satan never ceases to envelop the pure truth. As then we have before seen, that when the people are imbued with any error, it ought to be boldly resisted; so now we see with what weapons all God's servants ought to fight, in order to expose all those fallacies by which pure doctrine is assailed, even by setting in opposition to them the word of God: for this is the way which Jeremiah points out to us by his own example. He had spoken of the false prophets, he warned the people not to believe them; but as the minds of many were still vacillating, he confirms what he had said that they were not sent by God, because God never varies in his purpose, and never changes, and is never inconsistent with himself: "Now he has prefixed seventy years for your exile; whoever, then, tries to impugn that truth, is a professed and an open enemy to God." We now perceive the object of the Prophet; When seventy years then shall be fulfilled, etc.1

The Prophet here puts a restraint on the Jews, that they might not hasten before the time; and then he gives them the hope of a return, provided they quietly rested until the end fixed on by God. There are then two things in this verse, -- that the people would ill consult their own good, if they hastened and promised to themselves a return before the end of seventy years, -- and that when that time was completed, the hope of a return would be certain, for God had so promised.

He adds, And I will raise up my good word towards you. By good word he means what might bring joy to the Jews. Though God's word is fatal to the unbelieving, yet it never changes its nature; it ever remains good. And hence Paul says that the Gospel is a fatal odor to many, but that it is, nevertheless, a sweet odor before God, (2 Corinthians 2:16;) for it ought to be imputed to the fault of those who perish, that they receive not the doctrine of the Gospel to their own salvation. The word of God is then always good: but this commendation is to be referred to experience, that is, when God really shews that he is propitious to us. And a shorter definition cannot be given, than that the good word denotes the promises, by which God testifies his paternal favor. But we have seen elsewhere that threatenings are called an evil word: why so? This character cannot, indeed, as it has been just said, be suitably applied to God's word; yet God's word which threatens destruction is called evil, as it is said,

"I am he who create good and evil," (Isaiah 45:7)

but it is so according to our apprehension of its effects. And all this reasoning seems nearly superfluous, when we understand that God by the word of evil strikes the unbelieving with fear, but that the Prophet now means no other thing than to bear testimony to God's favor to the Jews: and hence he says, that they would find by experience, that God had not in vain promised what he had before mentioned.

But he is said to rouse up2 his good word, that is, when it produced its effects before their eyes; for when God only speaks, and the thing itself does not yet appear, his word seems in a manner to he dormant and to be useless. And for seventy years the Jews could perceive no other thing than that God was displeased with them, and thus they were continually in fear; for the promise continued as it were dormant, as its effects were not as yet visible. God then is said to rouse up his word, when he proves that he has not promised anything in vain. The meaning is, that the prophecy which Jeremiah had related would not be fruitless; but if the people did not soon know this, yet God, when the time came, would really prove that he deceives not his people, nor allures them when he promises anything, by vain hopes.

And the Prophet explains himself, for he says that God would restore them to their own country: for this was the good word, the promise of deliverance, as the word, according to what the people felt, was evil, and bitter, and bad, when God had threatened that he would cast away the reprobate. But it is an accidental thing, as I have said, that men find God's word to be evil for them or adverse to them; for it proceeds from their own fault, and not from the nature of the word. It follows --

1 The words literally are, "When at the mouth (or extremity) of fillings (or, of fulfilments) in Babylon shall be seventy years," etc., that is, when seventy years shall be completed, the whole number or measure being filled up. Blayney's version is, "Surely when seventy years have been completed at Babylon." But yk here is not rendered "surely," but "when," by the Targ. and the ancient versions. -- Ed.

2 The Vulg. is the same, "suscitabo -- I will awaken," etc.; and so the Sept. and the Targ.; but the Syr. is, "I will ratify," or confirm. The primary meaning of Mq is to rise, and in Hiphil, as here, to cause to rise, that is, to rouse, to awaken; its secondary meaning is, to stand, and in Hiphil, to cause to stand, that is, to ratify or confirm. The first idea is the most striking: the word of promise was as it were lying down and dormant for seventy years, and now it was to be roused up: "I will rouse up for you the very word of mine, the good." This is the literal rendering, except we take the secondary meaning of the verb, which is also very suitable, "I will ratify for you," etc. -- Ed.