1. Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.
1. Circuite per vias (alii vertunt, inquirite, vel, explorate, vel, investigate per vias) Jerusalem, et videte, agedum, (hic enim an est hortantis, proximo versu debuit verti nunc, vae nunc mihi,) et cognoscite, et inquirite, in vicis ejus (in compitis ejus,) an invenietis virum, an erit quifaciat judicium (hoc est, rectitudinem,) qui quaerat veritatem, et parcam illi.
In this verse, as in those which follow, God shews that he was not too rigid or too severe in denouncing utter ruin on his people, because their wickedness was wholly incurable, and no other mode of treating them could be found. We, indeed, know that it is often testified in Scripture, that God is patient and waits until sinners repent. Since then God everywhere extols his kindness, and promises to be merciful even to the worst if they repent, and since he of his own accord anticipates sinners, it may appear strange that he rises with so much severity against his own Church. But we know how refractory the ungodly are; and hence they hesitate not to expostulate with God, and willfully accuse him, as though he treated them with cruelty. It is then for this reason, that God now shews that he was not, as it were, at liberty to forgive the people; "Even if I would, "he says, "I could not." He speaks, indeed, after the manner of men; but in this way, as I have said, he shews that he tried all expedients, before he had recourse to extreme severity, but that there was no remedy, on account of the desperate wickedness of the people. And this is what the words fully express.
We now understand the Prophet's object; for he intended here to shut the mouths of the Jews, and to expose their slanders, that they might not clamor against God or blame his judgment, as though it exceeded the limits of moderation: and he shews also, that though God was disposed to pardon, there was yet no place for pardon, and that his mercy was excluded by their untamable obstinacy, since there was not one man in Jerusalem who had any regard for uprightness.
Here, however, a question may be started, Why does Jeremiah say that no good man could be found, since he himself was at Jerusalem, and his friend Baruch, and some others, an account of whom we shall hereafter find? There were then in the city some true servants of God, and some as yet remained who had true religion, though the number was small. It appears then that the language is hyperbolical.
But we must observe, that the Prophet here speaks of the people to the exclusion of the faithful. That this may appear more evident, we must remember a passage in the eighth chapter of Isaiah,
"Seal the law and bind the testimony for my disciples,"
where it appears that God saw that he sent his Prophet in vain, and that his labors were spent in vain among a people wholly irreclaimable. Hence he says, "Bind the testimony and seal the law among the disciples." We see that God gathered as it were together the few in whom remained any seed of true religion, yea, in whose hearts any religion was found. They were not then numbered with the people. So now Jeremiah did not consider Baruch and a few others as forming a part of that reprobate people; and he speaks, as it has been stated, of the community in general; for there were some separated from the rest, not only by the secret counsel of God, but according to the judgment that had been pronounced. He hence truly declares, that there was not one just man.
We ought also to consider with whom he was then contending. On the one side were the king and his counselors, who, inflated with the promises, which they perverted, did not think it possible that the throne of David would fall.
"This is my rest for ever -- As long as the sun and moon shall be, they shall be my witnesses in heaven, that thy seed shall never fail." (Psalm 132:14; Psalm 89:37, 38.)
With such words were they armed. But as hypocrites falsely claim God's promises, so these unprincipled men boasted that God was on their side. Jeremiah had also to fight with another party, as we shall hereafter see, that is, with a host of false prophets; for there was a greater number of them, as is ever to be found in the world. The whole priestly order was corrupt, and openly carrying on war with God; and the people were nothing better. Jeremiah then had to contend with the king and his counselors, with the false prophets, with the ungodly priests, and with the wicked people. So he says, that there was not one man among them who engaged himself in appeasing God's wrath.
1 Our version is, "Run ye to and fro," which has been taken from the Septuagint-peridru>mete; but this is a more correct rendering. The Vulgate is "circuite-go round;" the Syriac is the same. "Streets" were the narrow ones, the lanes; and what Calvin renders "the cross-ways, "and our version "broad places, "were the wide streets, or the squares. In the former the poor people lived, and in the latter the great people, the chief men of the city. The examination was to extend to all the inhabitants. First, it takes place as to the poor in the lanes, and afterwards among the higher orders in the wide streets. The whole verse might be thus rendered,-
1. Go ye round through the narrow streets of Jerusalem, And see, I pray, and know; Yea, seek in the broad streets; If ye can find a man, if there be any, Who doeth justice, who seeks faithfulness, Then will I spare it.
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