Jeremiah 17:4

4. And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.

4. Et derelinqueris et in te ab haereditate tua, quam dedi tibi, et servire to faciam inimicis tuis in terra quam non cognoscis: quia ignem succendistis in excandescentia mea (vel, in nare mea, vultu meo) in saeculum usque (id est, in perpetuum) ardebit.


Here, as it is a concise mode of speaking, there seems to be some obscurity; but as to the subject handled, the meaning of the Prophet is evident, that they would be dismissed from their inheritance, and as it were from their own bowels. Hence he says, You shall be dismissed from your inheritance; that is, though ye think yourselves to be beyond the reach of danger, because as yet the city remains safe, and ye continue in it; yet ye shall perish, as they say, living and seeing. There shall then be a dismissal from the inheritance even as to thee; that is, "Though the Lord should delay the time and suffer you to remain, yet ye shall be like the dead, for God will destroy you, though he may leave you a pining life." It seems an emphatical expression when the Prophet says that there would be at length a dismissal even as to herself: he intimates, that though some of the people would remain alive, they would yet be given up to exile and dispersion. And it was a condition worse than death for the Jews to have their lives continued and to be scattered among their enemies.

And he says, From the inheritance which I gave to thee; and he says this that they might not expostulate with him, that their own was taken away from them. "How has the land," he says, "become your inheritance? even because ye have obtained it through my bounty. And now, since ye are so ungrateful, why should I be blamed for taking away what I had given you? or what wrong is done to you? and what can ye object to me? for it has always been my heritage, though for a time I granted it to you. Had ye been thankful to me it would have been yours perpetually; but now when I deprive you of it, this you must ascribe to your own fault."

For the same purpose he adds, I will make thee to serve thine enemies: and this was much more grievous than to serve their neighbors by whom they were not hated. But he shews here how dreadful would be their calamity, they being constrained to serve their enemies. He adds, In a land which thou knowest not. This is a repetition of what has been said before, and it requires no remark. He in the last place confirms what he had said of their wickedness; Burn, he says, shall fire in my nostril: but Pa, aph, may be taken for God's countenance, though it often means anger. As however he says, "Ye have kindled a fire," it seems better to render it here, In my face. Further, by the word I never, he intimates that God would be implacable to the Jews, for they had so deserved.1


Grant, Almighty God, that as thou kindly invitest us every day to repentance, and shewest thyself ready to be reconciled, -- O grant that we may not through our perverseness reject so inestimable a favor, but submit ourselves to thee, and become so displeased with our vices as to be touched with a true and sincere concern for religion, and to labor through the whole course of our life for nothing else but to render ourselves and our duties approved by thee, and thus to glorify thy name, so that we may become at last partakers of that celestial and eternal glory which thine only-begotten Son has attained for us. -- Amen.

1 The whole of this passage, from the first to the end of the fourth verse, is wanting in the Septuagint and Arabic, but is found in the other versions and the Targum. The many emendations of Houbigant and Horsley are quite unwarrantable; the first makes his mostly from the Syriac; and the second from various readings, and those of no value, except in one or two instances, as "their" instead of "your altars" in the first verse, countenanced by very many MSS.; the other nine emendations have, for the most part, nothing of any weight in their favor. The transpositions of Houbigant are quite irreconcilable with any thing like errors incidentally committed by scribes. The same objection does not lie against the emendations of Horsley; but that ten mistakes should occur in the space of four verses is not credible; nor are most of the emendations at all necessary.

The received text is no doubt materially correct, there being no different readings of any weight or suitable, except the one noticed above. The Vulgate, the Syriac, and Targum, differ from one another as much as they do from the Hebrew. They indeed all agree materially as to the beginning of the third verse, in regarding "the mountain" and "the field" as places where the people worshipped idols; and the Vulgate and the Syriac connect the words with the former verse; and this, I believe, is what ought to be done. Then the passage will read as follows: --

1. The sin of Judah is written by a pen of iron, By the point of adamant it is graven, On the tablet of their heart, And on the horns of their altars:

2. As a memorial to their children Are their altars and their idols, Near the green tree, on the high hills, On the mountains, in the field. --

3. Thy substance, all thy treasures For a plunder will I give, Thy high places also for sin in all thy borders;

4. And thou shalt be removed, even for thyself, From thine inheritance which I gave thee; And I will make thee to serve thine enemies In a land which thou knowest not; For a fire have ye kindled in mine anger, Perpetually shall it burn.

According to the frequent manner of the prophets, the last line in the first verse is connected with the first line, and the third with the second. The sin of Judah was "written" on "the horns of the altars;" it was "graven" on "the tablet of their heart." The services at the altars were visible; the impressions within were seen only by God. They left their altars and their idols to their children. The genitive case in Hebrew may often be rendered by a dative, as here, "A memorial to their children." All emendations as to the beginning of the third verse are unsatisfactory: it will bear the rendering above; "for thyself," that is, for thine own fault. -- Ed.


Back to

These files are public domain. This electronic edition was downloaded from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.