Lecture One Hundred and Ninth
1. Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;
1. Hi sunt sermones libri (vel, epistolae) quem misit Jeremias propheta Jerusalem ad reliquias seniorum captivitatis, et ad sacerdotes et ad prophetas, et ad universum populum, quem captivum abduxerat Nebuchadnezer e Jerusalem in Babylonem;
Here the Prophet begins a new discourse, even that he not only cried out constantly at Jerusalem, that the Jews who still remained there should repent, but that he also mitigated the grief of the exiles, and exhorted them to entertain the hope of returning, provided they patiently endured the chastisement allotted to them. The design of the Prophet was at the same time twofold; for he not only intended to mitigate by comfort the sorrow of the exiles, but designed also to break down the obstinacy of his own nation, so that they who still remained at Jerusalem and in Judea might know that nothing would be better for them than to join themselves to their other brethren. The Jews, as it has already appeared, and as we shall hereafter in many places see, had set their minds on an unreasonable deliverance; God had fixed on seventy years, but they wished immediately to break through and extricate themselves from the yoke laid on them. Hence Jeremiah, in writing to the captives and exiles, intended to accommodate what he said to the Jews who still remained at Jerusalem, and who thought their case very fortunate, because they were not driven away with their king and the rest of the multitude. But at the same time his object was to benefit also the miserable exiles, who might have been overwhelmed with despair, had not their grief been in some measure mitigated. The Prophet, as we shall see, bids them to look forward to the end of their captivity, and in the meantime exhorts them to patience, and desires them to be quiet and peaceable, and not to raise tumults, until the hand of God was put forth for their deliverance.
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But we must notice that he not only exhorts the people to patience, but also the priests and the prophets. And though, as we shall hereafter see, there were among them impostors, who falsely boasted that they were prophets,4 it is yet probable that they are also included here who were endued with God's Spirit, either because the spirit was languid in them, or because God did not always grant to them the knowledge of everything. It might then be that the prophets, to whom God had not made known this, or whose minds were oppressed with evils, were to be taught.
As to the priests, we hence conclude that they had from the beginning neglected their office, for they would have been God's prophets, had they faithfully performed their sacerdotal office; and it was, as it were, an extraordinary thing when God chose other prophets, and not without reproach to the priests; for they must have become degenerated and idle or deceptive, when they gloried in the name alone, when they were destitute of the truth. This then was the reason why they were to be taught in common with the people. It now follows, --
1 So it is rendered by the Sept., Vulg., and Targ.; but "epistle," or letter, by the Syr. The word properly means a narrative; but as that is included in a book or in a letter, it is often used for both. It is rendered "book" in our version in Exodus 24:7; and "letter" in 2 Samuel 11:14. -- Ed.
2 Rather, "old men;" literally it is, "to the remainder of the aged of the transmigration." Age, and not authority, seems to be intended, though Grotins thinks they were the members of the Sanhedrim. The word commonly rendered "captivity," and when a verb, "to lead captive," means properly to be removed, to migrate, and transitively, to remove, to carry away, to transfer, to translate. The idea of captivity is not included in it, though sometimes implied. -- Ed.
3 Here in the original ends the preceding Lecture; but as this chapter has no connection with the foregoing, the prayer which occurs here has been removed to the end of the last chapter. -- Ed.
4 The Targ. has "scribes;" the Sept. and Syr., "false prophets;" and the Vulg., "prophets." They were probably teachers, and not those higher prophets who were favored with visions, and sent forth by God to deliver special messages. -- Ed.
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