Lecture Fifty-Fourth

Jeremiah 13:22

22 And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare.

22 Quod si dixeris in corde suc, cur (vel, ut quid) haec mala acciderunt mihi (occurrerunt mihi?) in multitudine (hoc est, propter multitudinem) iniquitatis tuae discoopertae sunt fimbriae tuae, et nudati calces tui (vel, plantae tuae nudatae sunt)


The Prophet again declares that God's judgment would be just, which he had previously foretold; for hypocrites, we know, do not cease to quarrel with God, except they are often proved guilty; and it is always their object, where they cannot wholly excuse themselves, to extenuate in some measure their fault. The Prophet therefore here removes every pretense for evasion, and declares that they were wholly worthy of such a reward.

But his manner of speaking ought to be noticed, If thou wilt say in thine heart, etc. Hypocrites do not only claim for themselves righteousness before the world, but they also deceive themselves, and the devil so dementates them with a false persuasion, that they seek to be counted just before God. This then is what the Prophet sets forth when he says, If thou wilt say in thine heart, Why have these evils happened to me?1 that is, if thou seekest by secret murmuring to contend with God, the answer is ready, -- Because of the multitude of thine iniquity, discovered are thy skirts, and thy heels are denuded." The multitude of iniquity he calls that perverse wickedness which prevailed among the Jews; for they had not ceased for a long time to provoke the wrath of God. Had they only once sinned, or had been guilty of one kind of sin, there would have been some hope of pardon, at least God would not have executed a punishment so severe; but as there had been an uninterrupted course of sinning, the Prophet shews that it would not be right to spare them any longer.

As to the simile, it is a form of speaking often used by the prophets, that is, to denude the soles of the feet, and to discover the skirts. We know that; men clothe themselves, not only to preserve them from cold. but that they also cover the body for the sake of modesty: there is therefore a twofold use of garments, the one occasioned by necessity, and the other by decency. As then clothes are partly made for this end -- to cover what could not be decently shewn or left bare without shame, the prophets use this mode of speaking when they have in view to shew that one is exposed to public reproaJeremiah2 It afterwards follows --

1 The verb is here in the singular, and is followed by a nominative in the plural; the very same anomaly exists in Welsh. The line would be literally the same in that language, --

Pam y digwyddodd i mi y pethau hyn?

But if "these things" preceded the verb, it would be in the plural. -- Ed.

2 The three last lines are as follows: --

For the number of thine iniquity Discovered have been thy skirts, Violently stripped off have been thy heels.

"Skirts" here stand for the parts covered by them, and "heels" for the sandals which were worn. Both the Septuagint and the Vulgate mention the parts, and not skirts -- "the hinder parts," "the uncomely parts," but they retain the word "heels." The metonomy exists, no doubt, as to both. The Syriac has "skirts" and "ankles." The Targum gives the meaning, "confusion" and "ignominy." The past time is used for the future. -- Ed.


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