Jeremiah 5:19

19. And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the Lord our God all these things unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours.

19. Et erit quum dixeritis, Quare fecit Jehova Deus noster nobis omnia haec? Tunc dices illis, Sicuti dereliquistis me et serviistis diis alienorum (alieni, ad verbum, sed est enallage numeri) in terra vestra; sic servietis alienis (subaudiunt alii interpretes deos, sed pervertunt sensum Prophetae) in terra non vobis (hoc est, in terra quae non erit vestra.)


It hence appears that what I have said is true, -- that the Prophet did not soften what was severe in the threatenings which we have noticed, but that he treated the Jews according to their perverseness; for he saw that they were untamable; and the Spirit had taught him that such would be their obstinacy, that until they were wholly broken down, they would not bend their necks to receive the yoke. He further assigns the cause here, that they might not contend with God, as hypocrites are wont to do, whenever God sharply chastises them; for they murmur against him, and complain and demand reasons why he treats them so severely, as though they were wholly innocent. As, then, hypocrites made such complaints, the Prophet here replies to them.

It shall be, he says, when ye shall say: he addresses the Jews in the person of God. He then immediately turns God's address to himself, Why has Jehovah our God done to us all these things? He ascribes here to hypocrites what is ever in their mouths whenever they are summoned to judgment; for they are so well prepared to contend, as though their cause was the best that could be; and, could God be constrained to render an account, they would prove him guilty of cruelty and of immoderate rigor. We hence see how graphically the Prophet describes refractory men, who will not yield nor acknowledge their fault, but with an iron front rise up against God: and the same thing we find in other passages in the prophets, especially in the first chapter of Malachi; for there the Prophet often repeats the words of the people, "In what? In what? What means this?" So also here Jeremiah says, When ye shall say, Why has Jehovah done all these things to us? as though they were innocent: for the reprobate, as though they had washed away all their sins by having wiped their mouths, boldly come forth and demand a reason why God chastises them. So also in this place they hesitate not to call God their God, as though they had not denied God, according to what we have seen yesterday. For so gross an impiety prevailed among them, that they imagined that all things were ruled by chance, and that God unjustly punished them. Though then they had perfidiously forsaken God, yet the Prophet here, in order to expose their petulancy, introduces them here as saying that they regarded God as connected with them.

Then, he says, thou shalt say. God one while addresses the people, and at another time the Prophet. When, therefore, they shall begin thus to murmur, then thou mayest reply, Because ye have forsaken me. That what was said might have more weight, God would have the Prophet to speak in his name, "because ye have forsaken me, "as though Jeremiah did not himself say the words, but God by his mouth; and have served the gods of the alien, that is, of aliens, in your land. God shews here briefly what the Jews deserved; and he thought it sufficient to mention one kind of sin only. We shall see elsewhere, as we have often seen, that they were in other respects wicked and guilty before God. But the Prophet observes brevity here, and charges them only with one sort of sin. Ye shall serve tyrants, he says, in a strange land, who shall cruelly oppress you, because ye have served their gods in your own land.

God reproves them here for having abused his kindness; for he had expelled the heathen nations from Canaan, and gave that land, which was so pleasant and fruitful, as an inheritance to them, so as to be to them a perpetual rest. God called the land his own rest, because he protected the Jews there, and appointed them as the legitimate heirs of the land even to the end of the world. Hence he says now, your land. The reminding them of this kindness was doubtless intended to amplify their guilt; for they possessed the land by the best title, though they had not acquired it themselves.

In your land, he says, ye worshipped gods; he does not say, "strange gods, "but "the gods of the stranger, "or of strangers. The prophets often speak thus; they call them the gods of the strangers, or of strange people: but the expression is emphatical; for it was very base and less excusable for the Jews, while they had God dwelling among them, to seek gods here and there, and as it were to entreat heathens for gods, and say, "Give us your gods." It was then this base conduct that the Prophet now points out as with the finger, Because ye have served the gods of strangers.

He afterwards adds, Ye shall serve strangers; he does not mean, as I think, strange gods; and it seems to me that those who introduce "gods" here, pervert the meaning.1 He speaks of tyrants, according to what is said elsewhere,

"I had given you my good laws, which if any one keeps he shall live in them; and ye would not obey: I will therefore give you laws which are not good," (Ezekiel 20:21, 25:)

that is, "I will lay on you a tyrannical yoke, and conquerors, and those barbarians whose language shall be unknown to you, shall plunder you and your possessions, because ye have been disobedient and unteachable." It follows --

1 The last clause has been improperly omitted in the Arabic: it is found in the other versions. The word for "strangers" is different from that connected with "gods." They served "the gods of the alien, "or, of the heathen: they would have to serve "strangers, "or, foreigners, in a land not their own. As they had adopted the religion of heathens, they would have to submit to the dominion and tyranny of heathens: and as they did the former in their own land, they would have to do the latter in a foreign land. Thus their idolatry would expel them from their own country, and subject them to the tyranny of those from whom they derived their idolatry. Thus God often makes the tempters of his people (if they succeed) to be their tormentors.-Ed.


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