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The Great Drought


The word of the L ord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:


Judah mourns

and her gates languish;

they lie in gloom on the ground,

and the cry of Jerusalem goes up.


Her nobles send their servants for water;

they come to the cisterns,

they find no water,

they return with their vessels empty.

They are ashamed and dismayed

and cover their heads,


because the ground is cracked.

Because there has been no rain on the land

the farmers are dismayed;

they cover their heads.


Even the doe in the field forsakes her newborn fawn

because there is no grass.


The wild asses stand on the bare heights,

they pant for air like jackals;

their eyes fail

because there is no herbage.



Although our iniquities testify against us,

act, O L ord, for your name’s sake;

our apostasies indeed are many,

and we have sinned against you.


O hope of Israel,

its savior in time of trouble,

why should you be like a stranger in the land,

like a traveler turning aside for the night?


Why should you be like someone confused,

like a mighty warrior who cannot give help?

Yet you, O L ord, are in the midst of us,

and we are called by your name;

do not forsake us!



Thus says the L ord concerning this people:

Truly they have loved to wander,

they have not restrained their feet;

therefore the L ord does not accept them,

now he will remember their iniquity

and punish their sins.


11 The L ord said to me: Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12Although they fast, I do not hear their cry, and although they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I do not accept them; but by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence I consume them.

Denunciation of Lying Prophets

13 Then I said: “Ah, Lord G od! Here are the prophets saying to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you true peace in this place.’ ” 14And the L ord said to me: The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15Therefore thus says the L ord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name though I did not send them, and who say, “Sword and famine shall not come on this land”: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. 16And the people to whom they prophesy shall be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword. There shall be no one to bury them—themselves, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their wickedness upon them.



You shall say to them this word:

Let my eyes run down with tears night and day,

and let them not cease,

for the virgin daughter—my people—is struck down with a crushing blow,

with a very grievous wound.


If I go out into the field,

look—those killed by the sword!

And if I enter the city,

look—those sick with famine!

For both prophet and priest ply their trade throughout the land,

and have no knowledge.


The People Plead for Mercy


Have you completely rejected Judah?

Does your heart loathe Zion?

Why have you struck us down

so that there is no healing for us?

We look for peace, but find no good;

for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.


We acknowledge our wickedness, O L ord,

the iniquity of our ancestors,

for we have sinned against you.


Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake;

do not dishonor your glorious throne;

remember and do not break your covenant with us.


Can any idols of the nations bring rain?

Or can the heavens give showers?

Is it not you, O L ord our God?

We set our hope on you,

for it is you who do all this.

The Prophet here prescribes no doubt to the Jews the way of appeasing God. He before uttered a prayer, partly in order to reprove the people for their wicked obstinacy, and partly to shew to the godly and the elect that there remained some hope. But now he uses a simple form of prayer, when he says, O Lord, we know, etc Hardly one in a thousand then did know; but the Prophet does not assume the character of the whole people; and why not? He doubtless knew that the faithful among the people were very few; but he dictates for posterity a right form of prayer, so that they might iu exile know that this one thing only remained for them — to confess their sins, as otherwise they could not obtain pardon.

He therefore says, We know our wickedness and the iniquity of our fathers; for we have done wickedly against thee We have already explained the Prophet’s meaning in these few words, — that when God puts forth his hand against us, there is no hope of salvation, except we repent. But confession is here put for repentance. Hypocrites are indeed very free in confessing their sins; but the Prophet speaks here of real confession; and by stating a part for the whole, everything included in repentance, as I have said, is intended. But the object here is to shew, that they were humbly to seek forgiveness, which could not be done, except they condemned themselves before God, and thus anticipated his judgment.

He speaks of the iniquity of the fathers, not that the faithful seek associates, here and there, for the sake of extenuating their guilt; but it was an aggravation of their sins, when they confessed that they were not only guilty themselves before God, but that they had brought from the womb what was, as it were, hereditary, so that they deserved death because they were the descendants of ungodly parents. Whilst hypocrites allege the examples of fathers, they think themselves thus absolved, or at least not so culpable, because they had learnt what they practice from their childhood, because a bad education had led them astray. But the faithful are of a far different mind; for they confess themselves worthy of God’s vengeance, though he inquired not into the wickedness of their fathers; and they think also that God acts justly, when he executes vengeance on account of their fathers’ sins, being thus worthy of a twofold vengeance.

We now then understand what the Prophet means; and hence we learn how foolishly the Papists set up this shield against God; that is, by having the word fathers often on their lips; for they ought on the contrary to confess the wickedness and iniquities of their fathers, according to what is more fully enlarged upon in the ninth chapter of Daniel (Daniel 9), where he confesses that he himself and the fathers and kings had done wickedly. And in these words we may also notice, that it was not some slight fault that Jeremiah refers to when he said, “We acknowledge our iniquity and the iniquity of our fathers;” he mentions first the iniquity of the living; then the iniquity of their fathers, and adds, in the third place, “We have acted wickedly against thee.” We hence see that he did not formally acknowledge some slight faults, but he confesses most plainly, that they were all ungodly and transgressors of God’s law, and were worthy, not merely of a moderate chastisement, but of dreadful perdition, as they had thus provoked the wrath of God. 123123     There is no and in Hebrew, nor in the Septuagint, nor in the Vulgate, between “wickedness” and “iniquity;” it is found in the Syriac and the Targum. In case it be excluded, Blayney proposes to render the passage thus, “We acknowledge, O Jehovah, that we have wrought wickedly the iniquity of our fathers;” that is, as he adds, “We have practiced over again the same wickedness, of which our fathers set the example.” But a meaning is given to רשע which it never has; nor is this rendering necessary in order to convey this idea, which is probably what is intended. They confessed their wickedness, which was the iniquity of their fathers; it was the same: the latter is in apposition with the former, —
   We acknowledge, Jehovah, our wickedness, — The iniquity of our fathers;
For we have sinned against thee.

   Their wickedness, the same with the wickedness or iniquity of the fathers, was, that they sinned against God. — Ed.

Jeremiah goes on with the same prayer; and he made it from love, and also for the purpose of encouraging the faithful, who remained among the people, to seek forgiveness; for he undertakes here to represent the true Church, which was then very small. All indeed boasted that they were the children of God, and gloried in the covenant made with Abraham; but hardly one in a thousand called on God in truth and from the heart. The Prophet then represented the common feeling of a very small number; and yet he proceeded, as I have said, with his prayer.

Hence he says, Reject not, overthrow not, the throne of thy glory; or the meaning of the two verbs may be the same, which seems to me more probable. 124124     The versions differ as to the two verbs: “Cease for thy name’s sake, and destroy not,” etc., is the Septuagint and the Arabic; “Reproach us not, etc., nor dishonor,” etc., is the Vulgate; “Be not angry, etc., nor dishonor,” etc., is the Syriac; “Cast us not away, etc., nor make vile,” etc., is the Targum. Neither of these renderings is correct. The two verbs here used have a similar meaning, though they are different, with those in the 19th verse (Jeremiah 14:19); the first signifies the rejection of a thing as worthless, and the second as vile, or filthy. They may be thus rendered, —
   Scorn not, for thy name’s sake, Abominate not, the throne of thy glory.

   The same form is adopted in what follows; two verbs are used, which have the same objective case, —

   Remember, break not, thy covenant with us.

   Which means, Remember thy covenant, and break it not, or annul it not. Blayney renders the first two lines thus, —

   Spurn us not for thy name’s sake.
Dishonor not the throne of thy glory.

   But “us” is not in the original, nor do the versions give it, except the Vulgate; and dishonor has also been borrowed from that version, and is not the meaning of the verb. No doubt the two verbs refer to the throne. — Ed.
But the Prophet joined together two verbs, not so much for the sake of ornament as rhetoricians do, as for the purpose of expressing the intenseness of his concern and anxiety; for he saw that the kingdom of Judah was in extreme danger. He then did not in an ordinary way try to turn aside God’s vengeance, but he hastened as one to extinguish a fire; for the obtaining of pardon was difficult.

He calls Jerusalem the throne of God’s glory, because God had chosen that city where he was to be worshipped, not that he was confined to the Temple, but because the memorial of his name was there, according to what had been usually said, especially by Moses. (Exodus 20:24) Nor was the ark a vain Symbol of his covenant, for God really dwelt there; for the presence of his power and grace was evidenced by the clearest proofs. But as this mode of speaking is often found in the Prophets, it was sufficient for Jeremiah briefly to notice the subject. God indeed, as it is well known, fins heaven and earth, but he gives symbols of his presence wherever he pleases; and as it was his will to be worshipped in the Temple, it is called iris throne, and it is elsewhere called his footstool; for the Scripture describes the same thing in various ways. The Temple is often called the rest of God, his dwelling, his sanctuary, the place of his habitation; it is also called his footstool,

“We will worship at his footstool.” (Psalm 132:7)

But these various forms are used for the same purpose, though they are apparently different; for where the Temple is called the habitation of God, his palace or his throne, the presence of his power is set forth, as though God dwelt as a friend among his worshippers; but when it is called his footstool, it is for the purpose of checking a superstition which might have crept in; for God raises the minds of the godly higher, lest they should think that his presence is confined to any place.

We then perceive what the Scripture intends and what it means, whenever it calls Jerusalem or the Temple the throne or the house of God.

But we nmst carefully notice what is here mentioned by the Prophet, For thy name’s sake We know that whenever the saints pray to be heard for the sake of God’s name, they cast aside every confidence in their own worthiness and righteousness. Whosoever then pleads God’s name, in order to obtain what he asks, renounces all other things, and fully confesses that he is unworthy to find God propitious to him; for this form of speaking necessarily implies a contrast. As then the Prophet flees to God’s name as his only refuge, there is included in the words a confession, such as we have before noticed, — that the Jews, inasmuch as they had acted wickedly towards God, were unworthy of any mercy; nor could they pacify him by any of their own satisfactions, nor have anytiling by which they could obtain his favor. This then is the meaning; and as this doctrine has been elsewhere more fully handled, it; seems to me sufficient briefly to shew the design of the Prophet.

He calls it the throne of glory, to intimate that God’s name would be unknown and unnoticed, or even despised and exposed to reproaches, if he did not spare the people whom he had chosen. The genitive case is used in Hebrew, we know, instead of an adjective; and to enlarge on the subject is useless, as this is one of its primary elements. The Prophet then in calling the Temple the glorious throne of God, in which his majesty shone forth, in a manner reminds God himself not to expose his name to reproaches; for instantly the ungoldly, according to their evil dispositions, would vomit forth their blasphemies; and thus God’s name would be reproached.

He afterwards adds, Remember, make not void, thy covenant with us Here also the Prophet strengthens his prayer by calling to mind the covenant: for it might have been said, that the Jews had nothing to do with the holy name of God, with his glory, or with his throne; and doubtless they were worthy of being wholly forsaken by God. As then they had divorced themselves from God, and were wholly destitute of all holiness, the Prophet here brings before God his covenant, as though he had said, “I have already prayed thee to regard thine own glory and to spare thine own throne, as thou hast favored the place with so much honor as to reign among us: now, though our impiety is so great that thou mayest justly cast us away yet thou didst not make a covenant with Mount Sion, or with the stones of the Temple, or with material things, but with us; render not void then this thy covenant.”

We hence see that there is great emphasis in the words of the Prophet, when he implores God not to make void, or not to undo, the covenant, which he had made with the people. For though God would have continued true and faithful, had he obliterated the name of the whole people, yet it was necessary that his goodness should contend with their wickedness, his fidelity with their perfidiousness, inasmuch as the covenant of God did not depend on the people’s faithfulness or integrity. It was, as it may be said, a mutual stipulation; for God made a covenant with Abraham on this condition — that he should walk perfectly with him: this is indeed true; and the same stipulation was in force in the time of the Prophets. Yet at the same time Jeremiah assumed this principle — that the grace of God cannot be wholly obliterated; for he had chosen the race of Abraham, from whom the Redeemer was at length to be born. But Jeremiah intended to extend God’s grace still farther, according to what has been already said, and we shall again presently see the same thing. However this may be, he had a just reason for praying, “Undo not thy covenant with us.” But God had hidden means of accomplishing his purpose; for he did, according to the common apprehension of men, abolish the covenant by which the Jews thought him to be bound to them; and yet he remained true; for his truth shone forth at length from darkness, after the time of exile was completed. It now follows —

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