Jeremiah 29:23

23. Because they have committed villany in Israel, and have commited adultery with their neighbors' wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the Lord.

23. Propterea quod fecerunt (vel, patrarunt) flagitium in Israel, et scortati sunt cum uxoribus sociorum suorum, et locuti sunt sermonem in nomine meo mendaciter; quod (vel, quem sermonem) non mandaveram ipsis; ego autem sum cognitor et testis, dicit Jehova.


We perceive why the Prophet mentions the cause of their death; it was, that the Jews might regard the event, not according to their own thoughts, but that they might feel assured that God took vengeance on the impiety of those who had falsely pretended his name. For we know that we always look here and there, and that when we find an immediate cause, we neglect and esteem as nothing the judgments of God. In order then to correct this evil, Jeremiah again repeats that Zedekiah and Ahab were not punished by the king of Babylon, but by God himself, because they committed villany in Israel. Some render, hlbn, nubele, enormity or abomination; but I am disposed to render it villany, or turpitude, or filthiness.1 They, then, committed a filthy thing. He afterwards specifies two kinds, that they committed adultery with the wives of their friends, and that they falsely prophesied in the name of God.

By the first clause we see how great was the stupidity of the people, for they did not consider what was the life of those who pretended to be witnesses for God, as though they were angels come down from heaven. Their wickedness might indeed have been concealed; but there is no doubt but that the Jews were extremely stupid, for they had willingly seized on the vain promises, which afforded them gratification. As, then, they were anxious to return, and wished to be restored to their own country as it were against the will of God, and sought to break through all obstacles by the force of their own obstinacy; it was a just punishment, that they were so blinded as not to see what was yet sufficiently manifest, even that these vaunting prophets were adulterers, and that the filthiness of their life was so great, that it was certain that they had nothing divine or heavenly in them.

Then there is another kind of evil added, that they prophesied falsely in God's name. This was an atrocious crime; for as his truth is precious to God, so it is a sacrilege that he cannot bear, when his truth is turned into falsehood. But as the minds of them all were so corrupted, that no one would open his eyes, God testifies, that though their adulteries might be unknown to the people, that though their vanity in their false prophecies might not be perceived, yet it was enough that he knew and was a witness.

Now this passage is worthy of special notice; for hypocrites, until they find that they are proved guilty before men, fear nothing, nay, they haughtily exalt themselves, even when things are justly laid to their charge. Since, then, the hardness and dishonesty of hypocrites are so great, it is necessary to summon them before God's tribunal, that they may know that they may a hundred times be acquitted by the world, and yet that this derogates nothing from God's judgment. It now follows --

1 "Iniquity" is the Sept.; "folly," the Vulg.; "crime" or offense, the Syr.; and "disgrace," the Targ. Vileness, or abomination, is its meaning. It is applied to the sin of prostitution, Genesis 34:7, -- of stealing, Joshua 7:15, -- of murder, Judith 20:6, -- of sodomy, Jeremiah 19:24, -- of incest, 2 Samuel 13:12, -- and of base ingratitude, 1 Samuel 25:25. The most suitable term for all these places is abomination, and not "folly," as in our version. It means what is hateful, vile, contemptible, or abominable. It refers here to what was abominably filthy -- adultery; and to what was abominably wicked and presumptuous -- speaking lies in God's name. -- Ed