a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

The Imminence and Horror of the Invasion


Flee for safety, O children of Benjamin,

from the midst of Jerusalem!

Blow the trumpet in Tekoa,

and raise a signal on Beth-haccherem;

for evil looms out of the north,

and great destruction.


I have likened daughter Zion

to the loveliest pasture.


Shepherds with their flocks shall come against her.

They shall pitch their tents around her;

they shall pasture, all in their places.


“Prepare war against her;

up, and let us attack at noon!”

“Woe to us, for the day declines,

the shadows of evening lengthen!”


“Up, and let us attack by night,

and destroy her palaces!”


For thus says the L ord of hosts:

Cut down her trees;

cast up a siege ramp against Jerusalem.

This is the city that must be punished;

there is nothing but oppression within her.


As a well keeps its water fresh,

so she keeps fresh her wickedness;

violence and destruction are heard within her;

sickness and wounds are ever before me.


Take warning, O Jerusalem,

or I shall turn from you in disgust,

and make you a desolation,

an uninhabited land.



Thus says the L ord of hosts:

Glean thoroughly as a vine

the remnant of Israel;

like a grape-gatherer, pass your hand again

over its branches.



To whom shall I speak and give warning,

that they may hear?

See, their ears are closed,

they cannot listen.

The word of the L ord is to them an object of scorn;

they take no pleasure in it.


But I am full of the wrath of the L ord;

I am weary of holding it in.


Pour it out on the children in the street,

and on the gatherings of young men as well;

both husband and wife shall be taken,

the old folk and the very aged.


Their houses shall be turned over to others,

their fields and wives together;

for I will stretch out my hand

against the inhabitants of the land,

says the L ord.



For from the least to the greatest of them,

everyone is greedy for unjust gain;

and from prophet to priest,

everyone deals falsely.


They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,

saying, “Peace, peace,”

when there is no peace.


They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;

yet they were not ashamed,

they did not know how to blush.

Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;

at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,

says the L ord.


Thus says the L ord:

Stand at the crossroads, and look,

and ask for the ancient paths,

where the good way lies; and walk in it,

and find rest for your souls.

But they said, “We will not walk in it.”


Also I raised up sentinels for you:

“Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!”

But they said, “We will not give heed.”


Therefore hear, O nations,

and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.


Hear, O earth; I am going to bring disaster on this people,

the fruit of their schemes,

because they have not given heed to my words;

and as for my teaching, they have rejected it.


Of what use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba,

or sweet cane from a distant land?

Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,

nor are your sacrifices pleasing to me.


Therefore thus says the L ord:

See, I am laying before this people

stumbling blocks against which they shall stumble;

parents and children together,

neighbor and friend shall perish.



Thus says the L ord:

See, a people is coming from the land of the north,

a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.


They grasp the bow and the javelin,

they are cruel and have no mercy,

their sound is like the roaring sea;

they ride on horses,

equipped like a warrior for battle,

against you, O daughter Zion!



“We have heard news of them,

our hands fall helpless;

anguish has taken hold of us,

pain as of a woman in labor.


Do not go out into the field,

or walk on the road;

for the enemy has a sword,

terror is on every side.”



O my poor people, put on sackcloth,

and roll in ashes;

make mourning as for an only child,

most bitter lamentation:

for suddenly the destroyer

will come upon us.



I have made you a tester and a refiner among my people

so that you may know and test their ways.


They are all stubbornly rebellious,

going about with slanders;

they are bronze and iron,

all of them act corruptly.


The bellows blow fiercely,

the lead is consumed by the fire;

in vain the refining goes on,

for the wicked are not removed.


They are called “rejected silver,”

for the L ord has rejected them.


The Prophet now again declares, that it was nothing strange that God resolved to deal with so much severity with that people, and to execute on them extreme vengeance; for no part was whole and sound, but impiety had pervaded all ranks. It might, indeed, be ascribed to the young, as well as to the old, for he says, From the small to the great; but I prefer to understand the first clause of the poor and the lower orders, and the second of the higher ranks, who excelled in power and wealth among the people. He says, then, that contempt of God and every kind of wickedness prevailed, not only in one part but in the whole community, so that there was no soundness from the head to the soles of the feet. We now, then, perceive what the Prophet means by saying, From the small to the great 173173     “From the small of them even to the great,“ Septuagint; “From the less to the greater,“ Vulgate; “From the least of them even to the greatest of them,“ Targum, Syriac, and Arabic. The last is the best. The positive degree is often put in Hebrew for the superlative. See Jonah 3:5. — Ed.

And this appears still clearer from the end of the verse, where he says, From the prophet to the priest He amplifies here what he had said of the small and the great. Hence we see, that by the great he understands not those of mature or advanced age, but such as were in dignity and honor, who were in esteem on account of their wealth or of other endowments. So also, on the other hand, he does not call those small who were young, but such as were despised, who were of the lowest order, and formed as it were the dregs of society: for as I have said, he amplifies what he had said, by adducing the prophets and the priests. Even though the king and his court were extremely wicked, yet some care for religion ought to have prevailed among the prophets and the priests; there ought at least to have been among them some decency; for they were appointed for the purpose of carrying light for others. As, then, even these were apostates, and had degenerated from the true worship of God, what could have been found among the rest of the people?

We now, then, see that the mouth of the ungodly was here closed, so that they could not expostulate with God or blame his severity, for they had all arrived at the highest pitch of impiety, inasmuch as the prophets and the priests were no less corrupt than the common people.

By saying that all coveted covetousness, he refers to frauds and base gain; in that he includes every kind of avariciousness. 174174     The words literally are “gaining gain,“ rendered in Proverbs 1:19, and Proverbs 15:27, “greedy of gain.” The Septuagint give only a general idea, “performed unlawful things;” the Vulgate has, “given to avarice;” the Targum, “gape after riches.” The prevailing sin of all ranks was covetousness; and the special sin of the priests and prophets was falsehood: they taught falsely. The verse may be thus rendered, —
   For from the least of them to the greatest of them, His all is to gain;
And from the prophet to the priest, His all is to act falsely.

   “His all” means all his object, or all that he did. — Ed.
By saying that the priests and the prophets wrought falsehood, or acted fraudulently, he means the same thing, but in other words, even that there was no integrity in those teachers who ought to have been leaders to the blind: for God had ordained them that they might, as I have said, carry light to all others and shew them the way of salvation. It follows —

This is to be applied to the prophets and priests alone; they not only corrupted the people by their bad example, but also shook off every fear of God, and by their impostures and false boasting took away every regard and respect for the teaching of the true prophets. He then says, that they healed to no purpose, or with levity or slightness, 175175     The words על נקלה — “with what is worthless,“ or base, or contemptible, are rendered, “ἐξουθενοῦντες — regarding as nothing,” or despising, by the Septuagint; “cum ignominia — with reproach” or contempt, by the Vulgate and Arabic; “illusione — by illusion,” by the Syriac; and “with false words,“ by the Targum. The same phrase occurs in Jeremiah 8:11. The whole verse is there omitted by the Septuagint; the Vulgate has “ad ignominiam — to reproach;” the Arabic, “in jocos — for sport; the Syriac, “nugis — with trifles;” but the Targum is the same as here. None give the same version but the last. In the Complutensian Edition, which has this verse in Jeremiah 8:11, the Greek version is evidently a version of the Vulgate.
   The idea of “slightly,“ or “superficially,“ as rendered by Blayney, is not countenanced by any of the foregoing versions, nor can the original words bear this meaning. The word נקלה, is found as a Niphal participle, and applied to man, as a despised, contemptible, or worthless being, — 1 Samuel 18:23; Proverbs 12:9; Isaiah 3:5; Isaiah 16:14. But here it refers to the means used for healing, which, according to all the versions, was something contemptible, worthless, useless, and which is afterwards named, being no more than saying, Peace, peace, when in fact there was no peace.

   And healed have they the bruise Of the daughter of my people with what is worthless, Saying, “Peace, peace;” and there was no peace.

   — Ed.
the wound of the people He says, by way of concession, that they had healed the wounds of the people: but it was no cure, when the evil was increasing. They were like the unskillful, who by rashly applying false remedies, cause inflammation, even when the disease is not serious; or like those who are only bent on easing pain, and cause the increase of the disease within, which is the more dangerous as it is more hidden. This is not to heal, but to kill. But the Prophet, as I have said, concedes to them the work of healing, and then states the issue, — that they were executioners and not physicians. They have healed, he says, the wound of my people: He takes the words, as it were, from their mouth, “Ye are verily good physicians! for by your flatteries ye have soothed my people: there was need not only of sharp medicine to stimulate and to cause pain, but also of caustics and of amputations; but ye have only applied lenients. This is your way of healing! ye have thus healed the wound of my people, even by plasters and ointments to drive inward the disease; but what has been the effect?”

He then immediately shews what sort of healing it was: It was saying, Peace, peace The evil we know is an old one, common almost to all ages; and no wonder, for no one wishes otherwise than to please himself; and what we observe daily as to the ailments of the body, is the same as to the diseases of the soul. No sick person willingly submits to the advice of his physician, if he prohibits the use of those things which he desires: “What am I then to do? it were better to die than to follow this advice.” And then, if the physician bids him to take a bitter dose, he will say, “I would rather a hundred times endure any pain than to drink that draught.” And when it comes to bleeding and other more painful operations, as caustics and things of this kind, O the sick man can stand it no longer, and wishes almost any evil to his physicians. What then experience proves to be true as to bodily diseases, is also true, as I have said, as to the vices of the mind. All wish to deceive themselves; and thus it happens that they wish for such prophets as promise them large vintages and an abundant harvest, according to what is said by the Prophet Micah:

“Behold,” says God, “ye wish to have prophets who will speak to you of rich provisions and of every kind of affluence; and ye do not wish them to prophesy evil; ye would not have them to denounce on you the punishment which you fully deserve.” (Micah 2:11)

As, then, the despisers of God wished to be soothed by flatteries, and reject the best and the most salutary remedies, hence God has from the beginning given loose reins to Satan, and hence impostors have gone forth, whose preaching has been, Peace, peace; but to no purpose; for there is nothing real in such healing, for the Lord says, there is no peace

The bolder any one is who professes to heal, if he be unskillful, the more disastrous will be the issue. Hence the Prophet shews that the cause of the extreme calamity of the Jews was, because they were deceived by their own priests and teachers. He does not at the same time, as it has been elsewhere observed, excuse them, as though the whole blame belonged to their false teachers. For how was it that the false prophets thus fascinated them? Even because they knowingly and willfully destroyed themselves; for they would not receive honest and skillful physicians: it was therefore necessary to give them up to such as killed them. It follows —

VIEWNAME is study