1. If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.
1. Si reverteris Israel, dicit Jehova, ad me revertere (vel, apud me quiesce;) et si abstuleris abominationes tuas a facie mea, et non fueris vagus (alii, et non migrabis.)
The Prophet no doubt requires here from the people a sincere return to God, inasmuch as they had often pretended to confess their sins, and had given many signs of repentance, while they were acting deceitfully with him. As then they had often dealt falsely with God and with his prophets, Jeremiah bids them to return to God without any disguise and in good faith. With regard to what is here substantially taught, this is the Prophet's meaning; but there is some ambiguity in the words.
Some read thus, "If thou returnest, Israel, to me, saith Jehovah, "connecting "to me,
I have as yet mentioned only what others have thought; but, in my judgment, the most suitable rendering is, "If thou wilt return, Israel, rest in me, "arrete toi, as we say in French.
If this reading be approved, "Israel, return to me," the intimation is, that they ever took circuitous courses, that they might not return directly to God: for it is usual with hypocrites to make a great show of repentance and at the same time to shun God. If then we follow this reading, the Prophet means this, "Israel, there is no reason for thee hereafter to think that thou gainest anything by boasting with thy mouth of thy repentance; return to me; know that thou hast to do with God, who is not deceived, as he never deceives any: return then faithfully to me, and let thy conversion be sincere and in no way deceptive."
But if the verb,
Whatever view we may take, this passage deserves to be noticed as being against hypocrites, who dare not openly to reject prophetic warnings; but while they shew some tokens of repentance, they still by windings shun the presence of God. They indeed testify by their mouth that they seek God, but yet have recourse to subterfuges: and hence I have said that this passage is remarkably useful, so that we may know that God cannot be pacified by those fallacious trifles which hypocrites bring forward, but that he requires a sincere heart, and that he abominates all dissimulation. It is therefore expressly said,
1 The best rendering is that which connects "to me" with the former clause: the end of the verse, as Grotius observes, proves this. If they returned to God, they were to return from captivity; and if they cast away their abominations, they were not to be vagabonds or to wander any more. This seems to be the meaning. The
1. If thou wilt return, Israel, saith Jehovah, to me, Thou shalt be restored, (that is, from captivity:) If thou wilt remove thy abominations from my sight, Thou shalt not be a wanderer.-Ed.
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