38. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord, from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.
38. Ecce dies (addunt alii
39. And the measurlng, line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.
39. Et exibit adhuc funiculus mensurae coram ipso (vel, coram ipsa porta) et usque ad collem Gazeb, et circumdabit Goathath,
40. And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse-gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down, any more for ever.
40. Et omnem vallem (alii legunt in nominativeocasu, et omnis vailis) cadaverum et cineris, et omnes regiones (vel, agri) ad torrentem Kedron usque ad angulum portae equorum versus orientem, sanctitas Jehovae; non evelletur, et non destructur amplius in perpetuum.
Here the Prophet speaks of the rebuilding of the city. I doubt not but that his object was to shew them that the largeness and splendor of the city after the return of the people would not be less than it had been under David in its most flourishing condition. We must, however, first speak of the words before we proceed to the subject.
He afterwards adds,
"Inhabited shall the city be under itself,"
or in its own place. (Zechariah 12:6) As then Zechariah promises that the city would occupy the same place as formerly, I do not conclude anything else from the words of our Prophet, especially as the particle yet intimates the same thing. When it is said
He then adds,
It is then added,
We now see the design of the Prophet: after having spoken of the return of the people, he adds that the city would again become splendid and large, as it had been; for the land continued in a state of disorder until the restoration of the city, as God had there chosen a habitation for himself. And as the Temple had been built there, it behoved the Israelites, wherever they dwelt, ever to direct their eyes to the Temple and the sanctuary of God, that they might live under his protection. Except, then, the city had been built again, the goodness of God could not have been really enjoyed; for a sort of desolation would have otherwise ever presented itself to the eyes of the people, as the city was as it were the banner under which God protected them. This then is the reason why the Prophet expressly announced this prophecy respecting the future restoration of the city.
Now, when he says that the
"He himself founded it," (Psalm 87:5)
"His foundations are on the holy mountains,"
and this ought to be understood of himself. (Psalm 87:1) The meaning is, that God would again care for that city, as the Temple would become as it were his royal throne and earthly sanctuary. At the same time when the Prophet affirms that the extent of the city would not be less than it had been, we see that this prophecy must necessarily be referred to the kingdom of Christ: for though Jerusalem before Christ's coming was eminent and surrounded by a triple wall, and though it was celebrated through all the East, as even heathen writers say that it excelled every other city, yet it was never accomplished, that the city flourished as under David and Solomon.2 We must then necessarily come to the spiritual state of the city, and explain the promise as the grace which came through Christ.
But we must especially notice what is said, that it would be
The promise of perpetual favor is added, as it is also done by Zechariah; for it would not be sufficient to have God's mercy promised to us for a short time, except its perpetuity were secured. The Prophet then promises now that the course of God's benefits would be permanent;. The city indeed was again destroyed by Titus, and at length wholly demolished by Adrian; but this fact does not militate against this promise; for as we have said, God gave some taste of his favor in the external aspect of the city until Christ came; but after Christ was manifested, the heavenly Jerusalem became the object to be sought, for all the types and shadows then ceased. The perpetuity then of which the Prophet speaks, is that which corresponds with the character of Christ's kingdom, and is therefore spiritual. Moreover, this passage teaches us that the Church will be perpetual, and that though God may permit it to be terribly shaken and tossed here and there, there will yet be ever some seed remaining, as long as the sun and the moon shall shine in the heavens, and the order of nature shall continue; so that all the elements, everything we see with our eyes, bear evidence to the perpetuity of the Church, even that it will ever continue: for though Satan and all the world daily threaten its ruin, yet the Lord will in a wonderful manner preserve it to the end, so that it will never perish. This is the import of the passage. Another prophecy follows.
1 The whole of this passage is differently rendered in the early versions and the Targum; some of them evidently wrong and some doubtful. Blayney gives the most literal and most consistent version. I give the following, --
38. Behold the days are coming, saith Jehovah, That built shall the city be for (or to) Jehovah, From the tower of Hananeel to the gate of the corner:
39. Yea, go forth again shall the measuring line From over against it, over the hill of Oareb, And shall surround Goath
40.And all the valley of the carcases and ashes, And all the fields to the river Kidron, To the corner of the gate of the horses eastward: Holy to Jehovah, it shall not be rooted up, Nor demolished any more for ever.
The 38th verse (Jeremiah 31:38) contains a general description; this is particularized in the following verses. The beginning of measuring was to be at "the tower of Hananeel;" hence "from over against it," or before it: the "gate" being feminine cannot be meant; it is then "the tower." As to the word for "fields," the reading of the Keri and of several MSS., countenanced by the Vulg., ought no doubt to be adopted. "Eastward," -- thus the line came round to the same point where it began; for the tower of Hananeel was eastward. But what is referred to in the two last lines? The verbs are in the masculine gender, and "city" is feminine; and there is nothing in the passage with which they can agree except the tower of Hananeel. Then this tower seems to stand here for the rebuilt city; and then rooting up, i.e., undermining the foundations, and demolishing, are suitably applied to a tower. -- Ed.
2 Some think, such as Gataker and Blayney, that according to the description here given, the dimensions of the city are much larger than what they had ever been before. The "line" was to inclose a part at least of the hill of Gareb, the whole of Goath, supposed to be Golgotha, the valley of the carcases, and the fields of Kidron, all which were formerly without the walls of the city. -- Ed.
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