17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive.
17 Quod si non audieritis hoc, in areanis (hoc est, in secreto) lugebit anima mea a facie superbia (hoc est, propter superbiam) et lachrymando lachrymabitur, et descendet oculus meus in lachrymas (de hac locutione vidimut cap. 9; diffluet ergo oculus meus in lachrymae; ad verbum, et descendet oculus meus lachryma) quoniam abductus est (captus est) grex Jehovae.
The Prophet had indirectly threatened them; but yet there was some hope of pardon, provided the Jews anticipated God's judgment in time and humbled themselves before him. He now declares more clearly that a most certain destruction was nigh at hand, If ye will not hear, he says, weep will my soul in secret. But much weight is in what the Prophet intimates, that he would cease to address them, as though he had said, "I have not hitherto left off to exhort you, for God has so commanded me; but there will be no remedy, if ye as usual harden yourselves against what I teach you. There remains then nothing now for me, except to hide myself in some secret place and there to mourn; for my prophetic office among you is at an end, as ye are unworthy of such a favor from God."
He does not state simply, If ye will not hear, but he adds a pronoun, this, If ye will not hear this, or it: for the Jews might have raised an objection and said, that they were not disobedient to God, and had prophets among them, as it appeared yesterday; for there were those who deceived them by their flatteries. The Prophet then does not speak indistinctly, for that would have had no effect; but he expressly declares that they were to hear what he had said in the last verse: "Except then," he says, "ye give glory to God, I will leave you or bid you farewell, and will hide myself in some corner, and there bewail your miseries." When the Prophet said that nothing remained for him but weeping, he intimated that it was all over with them, and that their salvation was hopeless. The sum of the whole is, that they were not to be always favored with that which they were now despising, that is, to be warned by God's servants; for if they continued to despise all the prophets, God would withdraw such a favor from them.
The Prophet at the same time shows with what feelings he exercised his prophetic office; for though he knew that he was to perform, the part of an herald, and boldly to denounce on the Jews the calamity which we have observed; he yet ever felt so much pity in his soul, that he bewailed that perverseness which would prove their ruin. The Prophet then connected the two feelings together, so that with a bold and intrepid spirit he denounced vengeance on the Jews, and at the same time he felt commiseration and sympathy.
He then mentions the cause, For taken captive is the flock of Jehovah. Jeremiah might have had indeed a regard also for his own blood. When, therefore, he saw the nation from which he himself sprung miserably perishing, he could not but mourn for their ruin: but he had an especial regard to the favor of God, as was the case also with Paul, (Romans 9:2, 4, 5) for though he refers to his descent from the Israelites, and assigns this as a reason why he wished to be an anathema from Christ on their account, there were yet other reasons why he spoke highly of them; for he afterwards adds, that the covenant was theirs, that they derived their origin from the fathers, that from them Christ came according to the flesh, who is God, blessed for ever. Paul then so honored and valued the benefits with which the Jews were adorned, that he wished as it were to die for their salvation, and even wished to be an anathema from Christ. There is not the least doubt but Jeremiah for a similar reason adds now, that he would seek retirement or some hidden place where he might bewail the destruction of his people, for it was the flock of Jehovah.1 We hence see that it was God's covenant that made him to shed tears, for he saw that in a manner it failed through the fault of the people. It follows --
But if ye will not hear, weep in secret places Will my soul, on account of your haughtiness; Yea, bewailing it will bewail, And pour down will mine eye the tear, When taken captive is the flock of Jehovah.
The word for "haughtiness," hwg, is rendered "insolence" by the Septuagint and Arabic; "pride" by the Vulgate, and "affliction" by the Syriac. The word is commonly derived from hag, to swell, to be high, to be elated. It is found in this sense in two other places, Job 33:17, and Daniel 4:37; and in a good sense, elevation, in Job 22:29. It seems to be a contraction, in full hwag. See Psalm 36:12; Proverbs 29:23. This being the meaning of the word, the view of Calvin cannot be admitted. There is an evident reference to what is said in Jeremiah 13:15, "Be ye not lifted up," or, "be ye not haughty." The cause of his weeping was their haughtiness in not hearing God speaking to them.- Ed.