Lecture One Hundred and Thirty-Sixth
1. The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, (when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities thereof) saying,
1. Sermo qui fuit ad Jeremiam a Jehova, cum Nebuchadnezer rex Babylonis et totus excreitus ejus et omnia regna terrae, quae sub dominatione marius ejus erant, et omnes populi pugnarent contra Jerusalem (hoc est, oppugnarent Jerosolymam) et cunctas urbes, dicendo,
2. Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him; Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
2. Sic dicit Jehova, Deus Israel, Vade et dices Zedechiae regi Jehudah, dices, inquam, illi, Sic dicit Jehova, Ecce ego trado urbem hanc in manum regis Babylonis, et incendet eam igni.
It is no wonder, nor ought it to be deemed useless, that the Prophet so often repeats the same things, for we know how great was the hardness of the people with whom he had to do. Here, then, he tells us that he was sent to King Zedekiah when the city was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar and his whole army. The Prophet mentions the circumstances, by which we may understand how formidable that siege was, for Nebuchadnezzar had not brought a small force, but had armed many and various people. Hence the Prophet here expressly mentions
Zedekiah was then the king at Jerusalem, and there remained two other cities safe, as we shall hereafter see; but it is evident how unequal he must have been to contend with an army so large and powerful. Nebuchadnezzar was a monarch; the kingdom of Israel had been cut off, which far exceeded in number the kingdom of Judah; and he had subdued all the neighboring nations. Such a siege then ought to have immediately taken away from the Jews every hope of deliverance; and yet the Prophet shews that the king was as yet resolute, and there was still a greater obstinacy among the people. But Zedekiah was not overbearing; we find that he was not so proud and so cruel as tyrants are wont to be: as then he was not of a ferocious disposition, we hence see how great must have been the pride of the whole people, and also their perverseness against God, when they made the king to be so angry with the Prophet. Yet the state of things as described ought to have subdued his passion; for as ungodly men are elevated by prosperity, so they ought to be humbled when oppressed with adversity. The king himself, as well as the people, were reduced to the greatest extremities, and yet they would not be admonished by God's Prophet; and hence it is expressly said in 2 Chronicles 36:16, that Zedekiah did not regard the word of the Prophet, though he spoke from the mouth of the Lord, by whom he had been sent.
The sum of this prophecy is as follows: -- He first says that the
This is what we are taught by daily experience. When any one of the common people, at the time when God does not chasten them either by disease or poverty, or any other adversity, is admonished, the petulant answer is, "What do you mean? in what respect am I worthy of blame? I am conscious of no evil." Thus hypocrites boast as long as God bears with them, and though his kindness spares them. But when any adversity happens to them, when any one is laid on his bed, when another is bereaved of a son or a wife, or in any way visited with afltietion, -- if then God's judgment is set before them, they think that a grievous wrong is done to them: "What! have I not evils enough without any addition? I expected comfort from God's servants, but they exaggerate my calamities." In short, hypocrites are never in a fit condition to receive God's reproofs.
There is then no doubt but that Jeremiah knew that his message would be intolerable to King Zedekiah, and to his people. However, he boldly declared, as we shall see, what God had committed to him. And we further perceive how stupid and hardened Zedekiah must have been, for he hesitated not to cast God's Prophet into prison, even at the time when things were come into extremity. It was the same thing as though God with a stretched out arm and a drawn sword had shewn himself to be his enemy; yet he ceased not to manifest his rage against God; and as he could do nothing worse, he cast God's servant into prison; and though he did this, not so much through the impulse of his own mind as that of others, he yet could not have been excused from blame.
Now the Prophet says,
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