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Jeremiah 49:20

20. Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Edom; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitations desolate with them.

20. Propterea audite consilium Jehovae, quod consultavit contra Edom, et cogitationes ejus, quas cogitavit contra habitatores Theman; Si non minores gregiseos dejecerint, si non perdiderint super eos habitacula ipsorum (vel, si non perdant super ipsos habitacula ipsorum.)


The Prophet proceeds with his subject respecting the Idumeans and their destruction; but he makes a preface in order to gain credit to his words. He then says that this was God’s counsel and his thoughts. He speaks after the manner of men; for he transfers to God what does not properly belong to his nature; for God does not deliberate or consult, but has once for all decreed before the creation of the world what he will do; nor does he toss about his thoughts in all directions, as men do, who do not immediately see what is right or what ought to be done. Nothing of this kind belongs to God. But this way of speaking is sufficiently common, when what strictly applies to man is transferred to God. It ought at the same time to be observed, that this is not done without reason, for when God speaks by his servants, we ever raise doubts, “Is that said in earnest — can it be changed — is it revocable?” In short, we receive what is light and frivolous, and immediately give credit to it; but when God declares anything, we subject it to comments, and raise up a hundred disputes on every subject, “Oh, but this or that may happen; and it may be that God does not speak in earnest.” As, then, men never acquiesce in God’s word, as they ought to do, the Prophets borrow from common use these forms of speech, that God had thus thought, that he had thus decreed.

The meaning is, that whatever Jeremiah had hitherto predicted of the Idumeans, could not be retracted, for it was a settled decree, so fixed as though God had thought of it for a hundred or thousand years.

He now adds, the inhabitants of Teman; by whom he means the Idumeans. But the repetition deserves notice: he first mentions Edom, and then the inhabitants of Teman. And Teman and Seir are sometimes the same. If not, cast them down, etc.; the verb properly means to draw, and to draw in reproach and contempt, as when a carcase is drawn through the mire. Then the Prophet means here a throwing down, accompanied with reproach. And he says, If not, draw them forth shall the least of the flock He speaks here otherwise than before; for he called the Chaldeans chosen, and extolled their strength, that he might strip the Idumeans of their vain confidence; but he now proceeds further and says, that there was no need of great valor to put that nation to flight, because even the least could lay them prostrate on the ground, and also draw them in disgrace through the land. Now, though the manner of speaking is different, yet the meaning remains the same, even that God would arm the Chaldeans with courage, so that they would easily destroy the land of Edom; and then, that though the Chaldeans should not, according to the estimation of men, excel in valor, they would yet be superior to the Idumeans, because victory was in God’s hand, and he could work by means of flies as well as by men, and by children as well as by giants.

The formula of swearing is adopted, when he says, If not, draw them, etc. It is an elliptical phrase, as it has often been observed; such an obtestation as this is understood, “Believe me not hereafter,” or, “Regard me not as God.” In short, it is a form of an oath, which is a stronger affirmation than if he had simply said, “Draw them forth shall the least of the flock.”

Some render the last clause, “If not, set shall they,” etc.; as though the verb came from שום, shum, to put, to set; but it is from שמם, shemem, or ימם, imem, as some think, though rather שמם, shemem The Prophet, I have no doubt, means, that they would destroy, or lay waste over them their dwellings. It follows —

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