5. If thou hast run with the foot -- men, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
5. Quia (vel, si) eumpeditibus (significat proprie pedes, sed translative significat etiam pedites; si ergo cum peditibus) cucurristi et fatigarunt te, quomodo miscebis te equitibus? et in terra pacis tu confisus es, quid facies (vel, quomodo facies, vel faceres) in altitudine Jordanis?
Many think that God here checks the boldness of Jeremiah, as though he had exceeded the limits of moderation when he contended with God, as we have seen, because he patiently endured the reprobate and did not immediately punish them. Hence they elicit this meaning from rite words, "Thou hast hitherto been contending with mortals, and hast confessed that thou didst maintain an unequal contest; dost thou dare now to assail me, who am far greater than the whole world? Footmen have wearied thee, who walk on earth; but thou engagest now with horsemen, that is, with me."
But I have already shewn that the Prophet did not undertake this cause presumptuously, nor was he carried away by blind zeal when he disputed with God, but that he thus spoke through a divine fervor: he was indeed influenced by God, in order that he might by this mode of speaking more fully rouse an obstinate people. There was therefore no need to check hint; for his object was no other than to shew by a lively representation, that God would be the Judge of the Jews, who had despised his teaching and esteemed it as nothing.
Some think that a comparison is made between the citizens of Anathoth and the citizens of Jerusalem: they hence suppose that Jeremiah is encouraged, lest he should succumb under the temptations which awaited him; as though it was said, "Thy citizens or thy people are like footmen; thou seest now how much they have wearied thee, for thou canst not bear their insolence: what then will become of thee, when thou comest to Jerusalem? for as there is more power there, so there is more arrogance; thou wilt have to contend with the king and his court, with the priests and with the people, who are blinded by their own splendor: horsemen will be there, and thou wilt have all equestrian contest. Thou mayest hence see how thou art to prepare thyself; for these things are only the beginnings, and yet thou complainest of them."
But when I maturely weigh all things, I come to another opinion, which both Jerome snd Jonathan1 have suggested, and yet obscurely, and so confusedly that the meaning cannot be correctly understood, and especially for this reason, because they did not state the exposition which we have hitherto given; hence the meaning of what they have said does not seem suitable. But the Prophet, I doubt not, here reproves the people and condemns their presumption, because they thought themselves furnished with so many defences that they despised the judgment of God. I regard then this verse as spoken in the person of God, for hitherto Jeremiah has been the accuser, and arraigned the whole people as guilty before God, and was also the herald of his judgment. Now that what he says might have more weight, God himself comes forth and says,
This then is not addressed to the Prophet, but to the people; as though it was said, that the Jews had but a slight contest with the Assyrians, and yet were conquered and oppressed by many calamities; but that they would have now to fight more seriously, as a greater violence was impending over them:
He then adds,
1 The author of the Targum -- the Chaldee Paraphrase. -- Ed.
2 Most commentators agree in the previous exposition, -- that a comparison is made between the persecution which Jeremiah experienced from his countrymen at Anathoth, and the persecution he was to expect at Jerusalem. So thought the Jewish commentators, Grotius, Venema, Gataker, Henry, Scott, Adam Clarke, and Blayney. It must. however, be added, that Jerome and Horsley were of the same opinion with Calvin: but the most obvious and natural meaning seems to be the former.
The rendering of Blayney is as follows, --
If thou hast run with footmen, and they have wearied thee, Then how wilt thou chafe thyself with horses?
More literally, --
If with footmen thou hast run, and they have tired thee, Then how wilt thou heat thyself with horses?
"Horses" may indeed be rendered horsemen, as "feet" in the previous line is rendered footmen. As to the verb "heat thyself," the versions and the Targum differ, but the word in Hebrew is plain enough; it is
3 As in the previous clause, so in this, most interpreters are opposed to Calvin. The contrast here is between a quiet state and great troubles. If Jeremiah complained, when among his connections at Anathoth, what could he do when troubles, like the swelling of Jordan, overflowed the land? And this view is confirmed by the verse which follows, --
Blayney, following the Vulgate, renders the passage thus, --
And though in the land of peace thou mayest have confidence, Yet how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
But rather as follows, --
And in the land of peace thou art secure; But how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
That is, "Thou complainest though living secure in a land which enjoys peace and is not harassed with war: what then wilt thou do when the troubles of war shall come over the land like the overflowings of Jordan?" or, according to some, "Thou complainest though living in retirement among thine own people, where thou didst expect rest and peace, what wilt thou do when exposed to the violent persecutions of the great and powerful?" the swelling of Jordan being considered a proverbial expression, designating great and overwhelming troubles. -- Ed.
Back to BibleStudyGuide.org.