1. At that time, saith the Lord, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves:
1. In die illo, dicit Jehova, extrahent ossa regum Jehudah et ossa principum ejus, et ossa sacerdotum, et ossa prophetarum, et ossa civium Jerosolymae (habitantium,) e sepulchris suis;
2. And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth
2. Et expendent coram sole et luna et toto exercitu coelorum, quae dilexerunt (nam relativum neutrum comprehendit et solem et lunam et exercitum; vel, si magis placeat vertere, quos exercitus dilexerunt,) et quibus servierunt, et post quos ambularunt, et quos quaesierunt, et coram quibus prostrati sunt (hoc est, se inclinarunt;) neque colligentur, et non sepelientur, in stercus in terrae superficie erunt.
I Have said that Jeremiah repeats in the first verse what he had before said, -- that the Jews would be deprived of their graves, in order that there might be on the dead a mark of God's vengeance; as though he had said, that after having been destroyed by the hand of enemies, they would have their punishment extended farther by having their dead bodies exposed to the wild beasts and birds. The faithful, as I have said, suffer no loss, when burial is denied them; but yet they do not disregard burial, inasmuch as it is a badge of the resurrection. Though God suffers them to be involved in this disgrace with the reprobate, yet this does not hinder but that God should execute his vengeance on the wicked by such a temporal punishment as turns to a blessing to the faithful. It is therefore no unmeaning denunciation, when the Prophet says that the time was at hand, when their bones would be taken out of their graves.
He mentions the bones of kings, and of priests, and of prophets, and of the whole people. The kings thought that as soon as they were hid in their graves, their dead bodies would be deemed sacred: the same notion prevailed as to rulers, priests, and prophets: but he says that no grave would be untouched or free from the outrage of enemies; and thus he shews, that the city would be rooted up from its foundations. Were the city to remain safe, the graves would be spared. Hence this punishment could not have been inflicted, without the very foundations of the city being dug up by the enemies. In short, he points out here a dreadful and final overthrow; and at the same time he shews the reason why God would manifest such severity towards the Jews.
It was, because they served the sun, and the moon, and the stars. It was God's just vengeance, that their bones should be taken from their graves, in order that the sun and moon and all the stars might be witnesses of his judgment. By these words Jeremiah indirectly reprobates the senselessness of the people for thinking that they performed an acceptable service to the sun and moon. He therefore says, that all the stars and the planets would become as it were spectators of the vengeance which God would execute; as though he had said, that the whole celestial host would approve of that punishment; for nothing is more detestable to creatures, than when the glory of their Maker is ascribed to them. It is indeed true that the sun, moon, and stars are without sense or reason; but the Prophet here attributes reason to them, in order that he might shake off from the Jews that stupidity in which they hardened themselves, while they thought that they were rendering to the sun an acceptable service. At the same time he alludes, as it appears also from other places, to the punishment inflicted on adulterers: for when a harlot is drawn out and led forth in contempt and disgrace in the presence of her adulterers, it is deemed a most just punishment. And thus as the Jews had as it were committed adultery with the sun and the moon and the stars, so the Prophet says here, that their disgrace and baseness would be made manifest in the sight of the sun, and the moon, and the stars.
He says, which they have loved. He no doubt alludes to the blind ardor by which idolaters were possessed, when they zealously pursued their illicit devotions; for it was a species of an unbridled and mad passion, as it appears from other places; for no fornicator burns with a more impetuous lust after a woman, than idolaters do, when Satan dazzles their eyes and fascinates their hearts. Of this impure love then does the Prophet now speak; and at the same time, he indirectly condemns the Jews for having alienated themselves without a cause from God, who was their legitimate husband. There is indeed nothing less tolerable than for men thus perfidiously to forsake God, when he has invited them to himself, and contracted as it were with them a holy and an inviolable marriage.
He afterwards adds, whom they have served. This was still more base; they devoted themselves to the work of serving the sun, the moon, and the stars. He mentions in the third place, that they walked after them. God had shewn them the right way, and had commanded them to follow him: but they forsook God, says the Prophet, and followed the stars of heaven. He states in the fourth place, that they sought them. By this he refers to their perverseness. Some render the word "consulted," of which I do not approve, for it is strained and far-fetched.1 The Prophet, I doubt not, denotes here the persevering attention of the Jews to the objects of their worship; for they followed their idols not by a sudden and momentary impulse, but they resolutely devoted themselves to them and became as it were fixed in their wicked purpose. And he says in the last place, that they prostrated themselves before them. This was the way in which they served them. It is an evidence of reverence when men prostrate themselves before their idols; and thus they serve them, for it is an act of worship. The Prophet might indeed have sufficiently expressed in one sentence the impiety of the people; but he joins together several sentences for the sake of amplification, in order that he might render more evident the ingratitude of the people in seeking for themselves unknown gods, and in setting up false and fictitious modes of worship, rather than to render obedience to the only true God and to acquiesce in his law, which is a certain rule, and never leads any astray.2
He afterwards adds, They shall not be gathered, nor be buried; for dung shall they be on the face or surface of the land. He confirms what he had said of the punishment before mentioned, -- that they had acted disdainfully towards God, and had prostrated themselves before their idols, so after death they would be made base and detestable, so that the mind would revolt at such a hateful sight. This is the meaning. It follows --
2. And they shall expose them to the sun, And to the moon, and to all the host of heaven: As they had loved them, and as they had served them, And as they had walked after them, And as they had sought them, And as they had bowed down to them, They shall not be gathered, nor buried; For dung on the face of the land shall they be.
The order here is from the principle to the action, and not the contrary, as is often the case: love-service-walking according to the rules prescribed-seeking counsel-and worshipping.--Ed.