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4. Zion's Past and Present

How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street. 2The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter! 3Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. 4The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them. 5They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills. 6For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her. 7Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire: 8Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick. 9 They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field. 10The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people. 11The Lord hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof. 12The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem.

13For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, 14They have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments. 15They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean; depart, depart, touch not: when they fled away and wandered, they said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there. 16The anger of the Lord hath divided them; he will no more regard them: they respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders. 17As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us. 18They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come. 19Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness. 20The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.

21Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked.

22The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.

He at length concludes that nothing was wanting to complete the extreme vengeance of God; for had the Jews been chastised in an ordinary way, they would have still extenuated their sins, as we know that they were not easily led to repentance. Hence the Prophet, to shew that their offenses had not been slight, but that they had been extremely wicked before God, says that the whole of God’s wrath had been executed: Jehovah has completed his wrath The expression is indeed harsh to Latin ears; but the meaning is, that he had executed his extreme judgment.

He afterwards adds, He has poured forth the indignation of his wrath. God is indeed content with moderate punishment, provided men be awakened from their torpor; but when he pours forth his wrath, there is no hope of repentance. It is then a sign of final despair when God’s vengeance overflows like a deluge. But when Jeremiah thus speaks, he does not contend with God, but rather reminds the Jews of what they deserved, as it was stated yesterday. There is, then, no doubt but that he argues, from the grievousness of their punishment, that there was no reason for the Jews to flatter themselves any longer, since God had dealt so severely with them.

He then, in other words, points out the same thing, that God had kindled a fire which devoured or consumed the very foundations. Fire is wont rather to take hold on the roofs of houses, or, when it creeps farther, it does not proceed beyond the surface. It is a very rare thing for it to penetrate into the foundations. Let us at the same time know that the Prophet speaks metaphorically of the destruction of the city, for it was such as left nothing remaining. For when some ruins remain, there is some intimation of a future restoration at least the minds of beholders are inclined to hope that what has fallen is to be restored; but when the buildings are not only pulled down, but also demolished from their foundations, then the destruction seems to be without any hope of restoration. And this is what the Prophet means when he says, that the fire had consumed, not only what was above ground, but the very foundations of Jerusalem. It follows, —

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