15. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the Lord; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.
15. Quoniam ecce ego voco omnes familias regnorum Aquilonis, dicit Jehova, et venient; ponent quisque solium suum in ostio postarum Jerosolymae, et super omnes muros ejus in circuitu, et super omnes urbes Jehudah.
This verse contains an explanation of the last; for God more dearly and more specifically expresses what he had before referred to -- that the evil would come from the north. He says that he would be the sender of this evil, and speaks thus of it: Behold, I call all the families of the kingdoms of the north. The prediction would not have been so effectual had not this declaration been expressly added -- that the Chaldeans would come by the authority of God; for men are ever wont to ascribe to fortune whatever takes place: and we shall hereafter see in the Book of Lamentations (Lamentations 3:37, 38) that the Jews were so besotted, that in their calamities they attributed to the events of fortune the destruction of the temple and city, and the ruin of the kingdom. Hence God sharply expostulated with them, because they were so blind in a matter so clear, and did not acknowledge his judgments. The Prophet, then, after having testified that the evil would come from the north, now adds, that this evil would by no means be by chance, but through that war which the Chaldeans would bring on them; that God would be the chief commander, who would gather soldiers from all parts, and prepare an army to destroy the Jews.
The Prophet uses the word, to cry: Behold, he says, I will cry to all the kindreds, or families, etc.1 God employs various modes of speaking, when he intends to teach us that all nations are in his hand, and subject to his will, so that he can excite wars whenever it pleases him. He says, "Behold, I will hiss (or whistle) for the Egyptians;" and he compares them sometimes to bees. (Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 7:18.) Again, in another place he says, "Behold, I will blow with the trumpet, and assemble shall the Assyrians." All these modes of speaking are intended to shew, that though men make a great stir, and disturb the whole world, yet God directs all things by his sovereign power, and that nothing takes place except under his guidance and authority. We then see that the Prophet does not speak as an historian; nor does he simply predict what was to be, but also adds a doctrine or a great truth. It would have been a naked prediction only, had he said, "An evil shall break forth from the north: "but he now, as I have already said, performs the office of a teacher, that his prediction might be useful, and says that God would be the chief commander in that war: Behold, then, I will cry to all the families2 of the kingdoms of the north.
There was then indeed but one monarchy; but as the self -- confidence of the Jews was so great, and hence their sottishness, so that they dreaded no evil, God, in order to arouse them, says that he would assemble all the families of the kingdoms: and doubtless those belonged to many kingdoms whom God brought together against the Jews. A regard also was had to that vain confidence which the Jews entertained, in thinking that the Egyptians would be ever ready to supply them with help. As, then, they were wont to set up the Egyptians as their shield, or even as a mountain, God here exposes their folly, -- that trusting in the Egyptians, they thought themselves sufficiently fortified against the power and arms of the whole Chaldean monarchy. For these reasons, then, he mentions the families, and then the kingdoms, of the north.
It follows, And they shall come, and set each (man, literally) his throne3at the entrance of the gates. The Prophet here means that the power of the Chaldeans would be such, that they would boldly pitch their tents before the gates, and not only so, but would also close up the smaller gates, for he mentions the doors (ostia) of the gates.4 And by speaking of each of them, he meant the more sharply to touch the Jews: for they, relying on the help of Egypt, thought themselves capable of resisting, while yet the Chaldeans, who had conquered the Assyrians, would be irresistible. Hence he says, that not only the army itself would encamp before the gates, but that each individual would fix himself there, and set up his tent as in a place of safety. In short, God intimates that the Chaldeans and Assyrians would be victorious, that they would entirely rule and rest themselves as at their own homes, in the fields and before the gates of the city Jerusalem. These things are afterwards more distinctly expressed, and many circumstances are added: but God intended at first to announce this declaration, that the Jews might know that it would be all over with them.
He then says, On its walls around, and on all the cities of Judah. The Prophet here declares, that the whole country would be laid waste, as though he had said, "The Jews in vain trust to their own resources, and help from others, for God will fight against them; and as the Chaldeans and the Assyrians shall be armed by him, they shall be victorious, whatever force the Jews may oppose to them." It follows --
And they shall come, and set, each his seat,
At the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem,
And on all its walls around,
And on all the cities of Judah.
The description betokens an entire possession of the whole land.-Ed.