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Punishment Is Inevitable


Then the L ord said to me: Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! 2And when they say to you, “Where shall we go?” you shall say to them: Thus says the L ord:

Those destined for pestilence, to pestilence,

and those destined for the sword, to the sword;

those destined for famine, to famine,

and those destined for captivity, to captivity.

3 And I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, says the L ord: the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, and the birds of the air and the wild animals of the earth to devour and destroy. 4I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what King Manasseh son of Hezekiah of Judah did in Jerusalem.



Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem,

or who will bemoan you?

Who will turn aside

to ask about your welfare?


You have rejected me, says the L ord,

you are going backward;

so I have stretched out my hand against you and destroyed you—

I am weary of relenting.


I have winnowed them with a winnowing fork

in the gates of the land;

I have bereaved them, I have destroyed my people;

they did not turn from their ways.


Their widows became more numerous

than the sand of the seas;

I have brought against the mothers of youths

a destroyer at noonday;

I have made anguish and terror

fall upon her suddenly.


She who bore seven has languished;

she has swooned away;

her sun went down while it was yet day;

she has been shamed and disgraced.

And the rest of them I will give to the sword

before their enemies,

says the L ord.


Jeremiah Complains Again and Is Reassured

10 Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. 11The L ord said: Surely I have intervened in your life for good, surely I have imposed enemies on you in a time of trouble and in a time of distress. 12Can iron and bronze break iron from the north?

13 Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder, without price, for all your sins, throughout all your territory. 14I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.


O L ord, you know;

remember me and visit me,

and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.

In your forbearance do not take me away;

know that on your account I suffer insult.


Your words were found, and I ate them,

and your words became to me a joy

and the delight of my heart;

for I am called by your name,

O L ord, God of hosts.


I did not sit in the company of merrymakers,

nor did I rejoice;

under the weight of your hand I sat alone,

for you had filled me with indignation.


Why is my pain unceasing,

my wound incurable,

refusing to be healed?

Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook,

like waters that fail.



Therefore thus says the L ord:

If you turn back, I will take you back,

and you shall stand before me.

If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,

you shall serve as my mouth.

It is they who will turn to you,

not you who will turn to them.


And I will make you to this people

a fortified wall of bronze;

they will fight against you,

but they shall not prevail over you,

for I am with you

to save you and deliver you,

says the L ord.


I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,

and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

Jeremiah speaks now of exile. He had hitherto spoken of the sword and famine, and mentioned also other punishments, that their carcases would be dragged about by dogs, and also devoured by wild beasts and ravenous birds; but he now refers to one kind of punishment only — that God would drive them into exile. And he seems to have taken these words from Moses, for so he speaks in Deuteronomy 28, except that ו, vau, is placed before ע, ain, in the word “commotion,” but such a change is common. In other respects there is a perfect agreement.

I will set them, he says, for a commotion to all the kingdoms of the earth; that is, I will cause them to wander in constant fear and trembling. He amplifies the grievousness of exile by the circumstance that they should have no safe rest. They who leave their country for exile do at least find some corner where they take breath; but God declares that the Jews would be everywhere unsettled and wanderers, so that no place would receive them. And hence God’s vengeance became more fully manifest, for these miserable men never found an asylum when scattered through various countries. Though they had habitations in those parts allotted to them by the king of Babylon, they were yet everywhere without any rest. It was not therefore in vain that Moses threatened them with such a punishment, nor was it to no purpose that Jeremiah repeated what had been said by Moses. 131131     Blayney rightly observes that the word rendered “to be removed,” in our version, has no such meaning. The verb means to move, to agitate, to disquiet, but not to move from one place to another. The noun as found here is rendered “vexation” in Isaiah 28:19, and “trouble” in 2 Chronicles 29:8. The idea of removing is not given in any of the versions, nor in the Targum. It is used in two other places by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 24:9; Jeremiah 29:18). In both places “vexation, trouble, or disquietude,” would be the best rendering. This sentence may be thus translated —
   And I will render them a vexation to all the kingdoms of the earth.

   Literally it is, “I will give them for a vexation,” etc. And so they became, they were a trouble and a disquietudewherever they were; and hence they became, as it is said in Jeremiah 29:18, a curse, a hissing, and a reproach among all nations.

   Venema gives this rendering —

   And I will give them for a shaking to all the kingdoms of the earth.

   Which he understands to mean, that they would be given to be shaken, agitated, and disquieted in all the kingdoms of the earth.

   Blayney’s version is —

   And I will give them up to vexation in all kingdoms of the earth.

    But this is what the original will hardly bear; the preposition before “kingdoms” is not in, but to. — Ed.

He adds the cause, On account of Manasseh But Manasseh was now dead, why then did God transfer the vengeance which he merited to posterity? And this seems inconsistent with another passage found in Ezekiel,

“The soul that sinneth it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:8)

But doubtless God justly punished the wickedness of the people even after the death of that ungodly king, for they ceased not to accumulate evils on evils; as however their impiety appeared especially at that time, he particularly noticed it, that the Jews might understand that they had been long worthy of destruction, and that punishment was not delayed except through the great mercy of God, who had not immediately treated them as they deserved. The Prophet therefore commends the long forbearance of God because their ruin was suspended until that time. And, on the other hand, he shews that they were not so severely treated but that they were worthy of greater and more atrocious punishment; for such had been their obstinacy that they did all they could to draw upon themselves destruction many times.

But another question arises: Manasseh pretended repentance, and God seemed to have forgiven him and the whole people, (2 Kings 21:2 Chronicles 33:12) why does he now declare that he would take vengeance on sins which had been already buried? But the answer is evident, for the Jews from that time had been in no way better. As then they had continued to pursue the same sinful courses with Manasseh, it was right that they should at length be rewarded as they deserved; for, had they become really changed, there would have been a change in God’s dealings with them, but inasmuch as their impiety had ever remained the same, and as they gave themselves up to the same vices, a heavier judgment was nigh them, and justly so, because they had abused God’s forbearance, who had spared the king as well as themselves on the condition of receiving the pardon offered to them. But since they had hardened themselves, it was riglit to take such account of their ingratitude and perverseness as to treat them with greater severity.

Farther, Manasseh is called the son of Hezekiah, and that for the purpose of enhancing his crime. For as religion had been reformed in the time of Hezekiah, and as that pious king, with great labor and toil, exerted all his powers to restore the true worship of God, it was the duty of Manasseh to follow his example. But he not only built altars to idols, and polluted the whole land with superstitions, but also defiled the very Temple of God. It was thus a horrible, and wholly a diabolical madness in the son, when the right way of worshipping God had been delivered unto him, to be of such a reprobate mind as immediately to overthrow what his father with great labor has so faithfully established. This then was the reason why Jeremiah mentioned to his dishonor the name of his father. And hence we learn that they are worthy of a heavier punishment, who have been religiously brought up from their childhood, and become afterwards degenerated, who, having had pious and godly parents, afterwards abandon themselves to every wickedness. Hence a heavier judgment awaits those who depart from the examples of godly fathers. And this we gather from the very words of the Prophet, who here, by way of reproach, calls Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, which yet would have been to his honor, had he been like his father and followed his piety.

And at the same time there is no doubt but that the Prophet indirectly condemns the whole people; for we know how great opposition pious Hezekiah met with, and how he contended for the faithful worship of God, as though he had been among the Assyrians or the Egyptians. But the perverseness of the people appeared then extreme, when he was put in jeopardy as to the kingdom, because he endeavored to cleanse the land of Judah from its filth and pollutions; their impiety and ingratitude then shewed, and openly discovered themselves. Afterwards Manasseh overturned as it were in an instant the worship of God, and they all, with great exultation, went immediately after superstition. We hence see that the mouths of the Jews were thus closed, so that they could not object and say, that they obeyed the command of their king; for they winingly followed wicked superstitions. They assented to the king of their own accord, while yet they hardly, and with great unwiningness, were led to obey when God’s worship was restored in the time of Hezekiah.

But Manasseh added cruelties to superstitions; for we know that he not only covered the streets of the city with blood, but made it also to flow in streams, as sacred history relates. As, then, the Prophets were so cruelly treated in the time of Manasseh, and as he was not the sole author of this barbarity, but the true servants of God were persecuted to death by the consent of the people, it was hence evident that it was the crime of the whole community. And hence he mentions Jerusalem, in order that the Jews might know that the holy city, in which they gloried, had been for a long time the den of robbers, and that the Temple of God had been polluted by wicked superstitions, and even the whole city by unlawful and barbarous slaughters. It now follows —

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