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Jeremiah 13:16

16 Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.

16. Date Jehovae Deo vestro gloriam priusquam obtenebrescere faciat, et priusquam offendant pedes vestri ad montes tenebrarum, speretisque lucem, et ponat in umbram mortis et in caliginem.


Jeremiah pursues the subject, which we began to explain yesterday, for he saw that the Jews were but little moved by what he taught them. He bid them. to regard what he said as coming from God, and told them that they could by no means succeed by their pride. For the same purpose he now adds, Give glory to Jehovah your God To give glory to God is elsewhere taken for confessing the truth in his name; for when Joshua abjured Achan, he used these words, “Give glory to God, my son;” that is, As I have set God before you as a judge, beware lest you should think that if you lie you can escape his judgment. (Joshua 7:19) But here, to give glory to God, is the same as to ascribe to him what properly belongs to him, or to acknowledge his power so as to be submissive to his word: for if we deny faith to the prophets; we rob God of his glory, as we thus disown his power, and, as far as we can, diminish his glory. How indeed can we ascribe glory to God except by acknowledging him to be the fountain of all wisdom, justice, and power, and especially by trembling at his sacred word? Whosoever then does not fear and reverence God, whosoever does not believe his word, he robs him of his glory. We hence see that all the unbelieving, though they may testify the contrary by their mouths, are yet in reality enemies to God’s glory and deprive him of it.

This subject ought to be carefully noticed; for all ought to dread such a sacrilege as this, and yet there is no one who takes sufficient heed in this respect. We then see what instruction this expression conveys; it is as though he had said, that the Jews had hitherto acted contemptuously towards God, for they trembled not before him, as they had no faith in his word: and that it was now time for him to set God before them as their Judge, and also for them to know that they ought to have believed whatever God declared to them by his servants.

He says, Before he introduces darkness Others render it by a single word, “Before it grows dark,” but as the verb is in Hiphil, it ought to be taken in a causative sense. Some consider the word sun to be understood, but without reason; for the sun is not said to send darkness by its setting. But the Prophet removes all ambiguity by the words which immediately follow in the second clause, And turn light to the shadow of death, and turn it to thick darkness In these words the Prophet no doubt refers to God, so that the word God, used at the beginning of the verse, is to be understood here. 8383     All the versions and the Targum render the first verb intransitively, “Before it grows dark:” but Montanus, Pagninus, Piscator and Junius and Tremellius, give it a transitive meaning, as Calvin does, and no doubt correctly, for it is in Hiphil, “Before he causes or brings darkness;” or it may be rendered, “Before he makes it dark.” Blayney follows the early versions, but Gataker, Lowth, and Venema, the latter versions; and the conclusion of the verse confirms, as Calvin says, this meaning. — Ed.

Before God, he then says, sends darkness, and before your feet stumble on the mountains of obscurity The word נשף, neshiph, means the evening and the twilight; it means also the obscure light before the rising of the sun; but it is often taken for the whole night. We can render the words, “the mountains of density.” But the word, no doubt, means here obscurity. Some think that mountains are to be here taken metaphorically for Egypt; for the Jews were wont to flee there in their troubles. But there are safer recesses on mountains than on the plains; yet I know not whether this sense will be very suitable here. On the contrary, I prefer to regard the words as preceded by כ, caph, a particle of likeness, which is often understood, and the meaning would be thus suitable, “Before your feet stumble as on obscure mountains:” for there is more light on level grounds than on mountains, for darkness often fills narrow passes: the sun cannot penetrate there; and also the evening does not come on so soon on plains as in the recesses of mountains; for the Prophet refers not to the summits but to the narrow valleys, which receive not the oblique rays of the sun but for a few hours. But what if we give this rendering? “Before your feet stumble at the mountains of darkness;” for אל, al, has the meaning of at, 8484     This is a mistake, the preposition is על which means on, upon, etc.
   Our version of this sentence is in accordance with the early versions: it is indeed literally the Septuagint and the Vulgate. Yet it is not the original. The verb is in Hithpael, and means to strike or smite together, or against one another. The literal rendering is the following, —

   Before your feet smite one against the other,
On the mountains of gloominess (i.e. gloomy mountains.)

   It is true the word for “gloominess” means sometimes the twilight; but here it seems to signify a state somewhat dark or obscure. To wander and to stumble on gloomy mountains betokens the miserable condition of fugitives: and this is what is meant here. See Jeremiah 16:16; Ezekiel 7:16. Then what follows might be thus rendered, —

   When ye shall look anxiously for light,
Then will he make it the shadow of death,
He will turn it to thick darkness.

   When two vaus occur in a sentence, they may often be rendered when and then. The change proposed as to the last verb is not at all necessary. Literally it is, “He will set it (to be) for thick darkness.” — Ed.
as though the Prophet had said, that the darkness would be so thick that they could not discern mountains opposite them. As in the twilight or in darkness a traveler stumbles at the smallest stones, so also, when the darkness is very thick, even mountains are not perceived. It thus often happens that a person stumbles at mountains, and finds by his feet and his hands a stumblingblock before he perceives it by his eyes. As to myself, I wholly think that this is the right explanation, Before then your feet stumble at the dark mountains

He afterwards adds, When ye hope for light, he turns it to the shadow of death The word צלמות, tsalmut, as I have said elsewhere, is thought by grammarians to be composed of צל tsal, “shadow,” and of מות mut, which means “death,” and they render it “fatal darkness.” Then what he says is, “Before God turns light to darkness, turns it to thick darkness, give to him his glory.” And. hence we perceive more clearly what I have already referred to, that the verb יחשיך, icheshik, “will cause darkness,” ought to be applied to God.

But the sum of the whole is this, that they could anticipate God’s judgment by admitting him in time as their Judge, and also by receiving his word with more reverence than they had previously done. At the same time he declares that their hope was vain if they promised themselves light. But we must know that light is here to be taken metaphorically, as in many other places, and darkness also, its opposite, is to be so taken. Darkness means adversities, and light, peace and prosperity. The Prophet then says that the Jews deceived themselves, if they thought that their happiness would be perpetual, if they despised God and his prophets; and why? because it would have been the same as to disarm or to deprive him of his power, as though he was not the Judge of the world. He in short shews, that there was nigh at hand a most dreadful vengeance, except the Jews in time anticipated it and submitted themselves to God. It now follows —

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