19. But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.
19. Ego autem quasi agnus, bos ductus ad immolandum (ad mactandum) et non cognovi quod contra me cogitarent cogitationes (hoc est, inirent consilia, nempe) corrumpamus ligno panera ejus (ad verbum est, corrumpamus lignum in pane; sed dicemus post de sensu verborum) et excidamus eum e terra vivorum, et nomen ejus non memoretur amplius.
The Prophet adds here, as I think, that he did not retaliate private wrongs: for the Jews might, under this pretext, have rejected his doctrine, and have said, that he was moved by anger to treat them sharply and severely. And doubtless, whosoever allows his own reelings to prevail in the least degree, cannot teach in sincerity; for he who prepares himself for the prophetic office, ought to put off all the affections of the flesh, and to manifest a pure, and, so to speak, a limpid zeal, and also a calm mind, so that he may seek nothing, and have no object but the glory of God and the salvation of those to whom he is sent a teacher. Whosoever then is under the influence of private feelings cannot act otherwise than violently, so that he cannot either faithfully or profitably discharge the office of a prophet or a teacher.
Hence the Prophet now adds, in the second place, that he did not plead his own cause, nor had respect, as they say, to his own person; for he knew not what the Jews had devised against him. They who join the two verses think that they have some reason for doing so, as they suppose that the Prophet now expresses more fully what he had before briefly touched upon: but if any maturely considers the whole passage, he will easily see that Jeremiah had another object in view, and that was, to secure authority to his doctrine. The Jews probably employed two ways to discredit the holy Prophet: "O, thou divinest! -- the same thing, as we have said, is done now by many." He therefore summons the Jews here before God's tribunal, and shews that it was nothing strange, that he brought to light what they thought to be hidden, because it had been revealed to him by the Spirit of God. Even Christ said the same,
"The Spirit, when he comes, shall judge the world."
The Spirit did not appear except in the doctrine of the Apostles; but he exercised by the Apostles his own functions. The Apostle also seems to have this in view in Hebrews 4:12, when he says, that the word of God is like a two -- edged sword, which penetrates into the inmost thoughts and hidden feelings, even to the marrow and bones, so as to distinguish between thoughts and feelings.
Then the Prophet, in the first place, shews that it was nothing strange that he ascended above all human judgments, for he was endued with the authority of the Holy Spirit. And he adds, in the second place, that he was not influenced by carnal feelings, but by a pure zeal for God, for he
For the sake of amplifying, he adds,
He then adds, Let
"They have put gall in my bread, and vinegar in my drink."
Jeremiah also, in Lamentations 3:15, complains that his food was mingled with poison. Similitudes of this kind often occur; for when the very food of man is corrupted, there is no more any support for life. The meaning then is, that his enemies had acted cruelly towards the Prophet, as they sought in every way to destroy him, even by poison.
Some take wood for poison, but I know not whether that can be done. They indeed imagine that a poisonous wood is what is here meant; but this is too refined. I take the meaning to be simply this, as though they had said, "Let us spoil with wood his food," that is, "Let us give him wood instead of bread; and this, by its hardness, will hurt his teeth, ulcerate his throat, and cannot be digested so as to become nourishment." To spoil this bread with wood is to cause the wood to spoil the food either by its hardness or by its putridity. In this sense there is nothing ambiguous.
The ancients perverted this passage in the most childish manner when they applied it to the body of Christ. The Papists too, at this day, boast wonderfully of this allegory, though they make the most absurd use of it; for they seek to prove by it that bread is converted, or, as they say, transubstantiated into the body of Christ; and they quote Origen and Irenaeus, and others like them: "Behold, explained is that passage of Jeremiah, let us send wood for his bread, (such is the meaning of the Vulgate) for the body of Christ has been crucified;" and then they add, "For he said, 'Take and eat, this is my body.'"We see how extremely absurd this is; and it must appear ridiculous even to children. But so great is the dishonesty and wantonness of the Papists, that they cast off all shame, and only boastfully pretend the authority of the ancients; and whatever Origen may have foolishly and falsely said, they will have it to be regarded as something oracular, provided their errors are thereby confirmed. But if we grant that the Prophet was a type of Christ, what has this to do with the similitude of his body, since he speaks here only of food? It is as though he had said, that his aliment was corrupted, as it were, with poison, and that he was so cruelly treated by his enemies, that they sought to destroy him by the means of his food.2
It then follows,
1 All the early versions, and the Targum render
But I -- as a meek lamb led to be killed was I And I knew not, that against me they had devised devices.
The Septuagint render the last words "they have thought an evil thought," and, "I knew not," is connected with the former line thus, --
But I, as an innocent lamb led to be slain, I knew not: Against me have they thought an evil thought.
But the construction in the other versions, and in the Targum, is according to the former rendering. -- Ed.
2 But the best meaning is that given by the Syriac, and has been adopted in our version, and by Gataker, Venema, Henry, Horsley, Scott, and Adam Clarke, -- "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit;" that is, the Prophet and his prophecy. "In this case," says Horsley, "the man is the tree; his doctrine the fruit." But there seems to be an allusion in the words to "the olive" mentioned in Jeremiah 11:16, which was threatened with destruction: and Jeremiah's enemies, adopting his simile, by way of irony apply it to himself: "Well, thou comparest us to an olive devoted to ruin; we shall now deal with thee accordingly: thou art a tree, and we shall cut thee down and destroy thee and all the fruit thou bearest."
The whole verse I would render as follows, --
19. And I -- as a meek lamb led to be killed was I And I knew not that against me they had devised these devices: -- "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, Yea, let us cut him down from the land of the living; And his name, let it be remembered no more."
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