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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.

He says first, Multiplied have been his widows; because the men had been almost all kined, in battle. If the Prophet is the speaker, the particle לי li, is redundant, but if the words be referred to God, we know that the people were in such a way under the government of God that he calls the widows his, as he calls the children his who were born Israelites. But in this there is no great importance, only that if we consider God to be speaker the sense will be this, “Behold, it is by no means unknown to me how numerous his widows are: as then I am merciful I have not heedlessly and without reason suffered such slaughters among the people.” The Prophet intended to shew that so great was the obstinacy of the Jews that they struggled against all the judgments of God; and it is a proof of dreadful impiety when men rush on heedlessly and pay no attention to any punishments. And this is what the Prophet means when he says that the widows were multiplied. And he adds, More than the sand of the sea This was surely a strange thing; so many slaughters were presented to their view that their great perverseness might become more evident, and yet he says that they were not moved.

What follows must be applied to God, I have made to come to them, on the troop of youths, a waster 135135     This rendering is the Targum; “the mother (and) the youths,” is the Septuagint; “the mother of a youth,” the Vulgate; “both mother and youths,” the Syriac; “the mother and the youths,” the Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, and Gataker take the “mother” for the chief city, the metropolis, and consider the “youth,” or “the chosen one,” to be the “waster,” signifying Nebuchadnezzar, — “And I will bring to them, against the mother-city, a chosen one, a waster at mid-day.” So Blayney substantially, only he renders the verb in the past tense. — Ed. This is an explanation of the former clause, as though he had said, “The reason why there are so many widows is, because God has destroyed all the men.” As the Jews might have ascribed this to their enemies, God declares that he was the author of all the slaughters which they had suffered. He then shews that these slaughters were not fortuitous as men suppose who think that fortune prevails mostly in war, for they do not ascribe so much to the wisdom and valor of men as to fortune, being ignorant of the Providence of God. Here then God shews that the whole of the flower of the people had been indeed cut off by the swords of enemies, but that the Chaldeans or the Assyrians had not come of their own accord, or by an impulse of their own, but by a hidden impulse, and that of God, who had resolved to punish that irreclaimable people. This then is the reason why God not only speaks of a waster, but also intimates that the enemies were impelled by his influence, and carried on the war as it were under his banner, authority, and guidance.

He says, at mid-day, even when the Jews might have exercised greater watchfulness. But he shews that he was against them, for they were not taken by the craft of their enemies, as had often been the case, nor were they surprised by secret designs, but their enemies attacked them openly and boldly, even at the time when many of their cities were fortified, and the people thought that they had sufficient defences. As the enemies then dared to assail them in the middle of the day, (for such is the meaning of the Hebrew word) and during the clearest light, it was certainly a fuller proof of God’s vengeance; for under such a circumstance the contrivance and counsel of men were not so evident, but the hand of God, which he stretched forth from heaven as it were in an open and visible manner.

He afterwards adds, And I have cast, or caused to fall, upon them suddenly; some say, the city; others, the enemy; and עיר oir, means a city, and sometimes an enemy; but another explanation seems more probable, that God had sent on them a tumult and terrors, for the word עיר, oir, conms from the verb עור, our, which signifies to excite. It may therefore be taken for tumult, and this sense I prefer, for they who render the word city, are constrained to adopt a forced and far-fetched explanation, “To fall have I made suddenly the city,” that is, cities, “upon them.” There is first a change of number, and then, to fall have I made cities, that is, the ruins of cities, upon them, seems an unnatural phrase; but the sense would be most suitable were we to render the word tumult, for what immediately follows is, and terrors Some however render the word בהלות, belut, adverbially suddenly, and consider that the same thing is said twice. He had said just before, “I have cast upon her suddenly;” but now he says, “hastenings.” Such is the version, but not suitable, for the two words עיר oir, and בהלות, belut, are joined together. I therefore give this simple explanation — that the Jews were suddenly smitten with despair because they thought that their enemies were afar off, and that they had to apprehend no danger. Then it is, suddenly have I sent upon them a tumult and terrors 136136     Trembling and haste, (σπουδην,)” is the version of the Septuagint; “tumult and trembling,” of the Syriac; “terror and trembling,” of the Arabic; the Vulgate retains only the word “terror.” Various have been the explanations of the word עיר, which Calvin renders “tumult,” consistently with the general tenor of the ancient versions. Gataker renders it “watcher;” Blayney, “enemy;” and others “city;” but the most suitable to the passage is “tumult,” or commotion. — Ed He then adds —

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