Jeremiah 40:1-4

1. The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, after that Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him, being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon.

1. Sermo qui fuit ad Jeremiam a Jehova, postquam dimisit eum Nabuzardan, princeps interfectorum, e Ramah, quum sustulisset ipsum: et ipse vinctus erat cathenis (vel, manicis,) in medio captivitatis (hoc est, multitudinis captivae) Jerusalem et Jehudah, qui transferebantur Babylonem.

2. And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The Lord thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place.

2. Et sumpsit princeps interfectorum Jeremiam, et dixit ad eum, Jehova Deus tuus loquutus est malum hoc super locum hunc;

3. Now the Lord hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you.

3. Et adduxit et fecit Jehova sicut loquutus fuerat, quia peccastis Jehovae, et non audiistis vocem ejus; et fuit vobis res haec (hoc est, accidit vobis haec res.)

4. And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come, and I will look well unto thee; but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go.

4. Et tu ecce (hoc est, quantum ad te,) ego ecce solvi te hodie a manicis (vel, cathenis, sed potius, a manicis, quoniam addit) quae erant super manus tuas (ideo perperam alii, vertunt, compedes, quia non ligantur compedibus;) si bonum in oculis tuis fecerit, ut venias (hoc est, si tibi placuerit venire) Babylonem, venias; ego autem ponam oculum meum super te; si autem malum in oculis tuis fuerit, ut venias Babylonem, desine (cessa, veI, supersedeas:) ecce tota regio coram facie tua est, ad bonum et rectum in oculis tuis, ad proficiscendum (hoc est, quod fuerit bonum et rectum in oculis tuis,) ut illic eas, eas.


Here Jeremiah pursues more at large what he had briefly touched upon before; for the Hebrews were wont, in a few words, to state the substance of the whole, and then to explain more diffusely what, they had briefly said. Jeremiah had before told us that some of the Babylonian generals had been sent to release him from prison; and he added that he had been committed to the care of Gedaliah, who had been set over the poor of the land. He now tells us, that he, as yet bound with chains, had been brought forth to Ramah in that miserable condition. These things appear inconsistent, but, as I have said, we must bear in mind, that there is an omission in that summary, which we have noticed. For, in the first instance, Jeremiah only said, that he had been freed from his chains; but he now states the manner more distinctly, and, as it were, the different parts of the transaction. Then this order ought to be especially noticed.

Moreover, this chapter so begins, that he seems throughout the chapter to have forgotten the introduction. He says, that a word came to him; he afterwards declares historically, how he had been brought to Ramah, and then that he had been released there, and also that Gedaliah was set over the remainder of the people: in short, there is not in this long' passage any mention made of any prophecy; but there is inserted a whole historical narrative before the Prophet expresses what God had committed to him, after the city was taken, and after he had been restored to his former liberty. When, therefore, he says here, that a word came to him, we must wait until he has completed what we find in this chapter; for he will then return to this prophecy.

Let us now consider the words. After Nebuzaradan, he says, dismissed him from Ramah, etc.; into which place he had been brought by the guards, when he was as yet bound with chains. There is then no doubt but that the leaders of the army had ordered Jeremiah to be brought there, after he was taken out of the court of the prison, and that he was brought there in the presence of all the people; for it is probable also that all the Jews, who were to be led into exile, were brought there too, and that they were there mustered, that none might escape, for they would have slipped off here and there, had they not been delivered to guards. When, therefore, all the captives were there, Nebuzaradan ordered Jeremiah to be brought forth, not for the sake of degrading him, for, as we have seen, the king had been solicitous about his life; and no doubt this coutier wished to gratify his king in every way: but it was, on the contrary, for the purpose of an indirect reproof to all the people, as though he would honor the servant of God, who had so faithfully warned them, and for so long a time, even above forty years, and would set before them their wickedness, and also their ingratitude, for having so cruelly treated God's servant.

This then was the reason why Nebuzaradan wished Jeremiah to come bound with chains, and to be released in the presence of all the people; it was that the Jews might at length be ashamed of their pride and impiety against God, and of their ingratitude towards the holy Prophet. Nebu-zaradan then did not treat Jeremiah reproachfully; but he brought him forth in chains, that he might publicly expose the wickedness of the whole nation.

He says, that an option was given him by Nebuzaradan; so that if he wished, he might remain in his own country, and choose the best place for himself, and the situation which was most agreeable to him; but if he chose rather to go to Babylon, there he might go. This, certainly, was a liberal offer. The Prophet was not only freed from prison and loosed from His chains; but liberty was so given him, that he alone was free, while the whole nation was reduced to bondage. For they who remained had no liberty to go elsewhere. But Nebuzaradan gave here a free option to Jere-mime, so that he was at liberty either to live in Chaldea, or to remain in any place he wished, or in any part of the earth.

But before he says this, he administers reproof to the people, and says, Jehovah thy God hath spoken evil on this city; and he hath brought it, and made it to come. Here Nebuzar-adan undertook the prophetic office, and spoke in high terms of God's righteous vengeance on the people. There is no doubt but that God had raised up such a teacher to the Jews; for they had for forty years and more obstinately rejected celestial truth. God had not ceased kindly to invite them to repentance, and to promise them pardon and salvation, provided they repented. As then God had not ceased for so long a time, and continually to address them according to his paternal goodness, and at the same time had spoken to the deaf, they deserved to hear such a preacher as Nebuzaradan, who now contumeliously upbraided them, that they had brought this evil on themselves, because they had been disobedient and rebellious against God, as they had not obeyed his word.

There is here a remarkable example set before us, so that we may learn, that when God addresses us by his servants, we ought immediately to render obedience to him; let us learn to fear when he threatens us, and learn to entertain hope when he offers his favor to us. For if we reject the Prophets when they are sent to us, other teachers will arise, who will deride us, and though they may be themselves ungodly, they will yet upbraid us with our impiety. This then is the doctrine we ought to gather from this passage, in which we see that Nebuzaradan, as though gifted with the prophetic spirit, severely rebuked the people. He, indeed, addressed Jeremiah, and seems to have included him with the people, when he said, Thy God hath spoken -- because ye have sinned and have been rebellious. But Nebuzaradan, no doubt, thus highly commended the faithfulness of Jeremiah, because he had been true and faithful in his vocation and office, he then did not make him as one of the people, nor did he mean that he had sinned with others, or had been rebellious against God. But, in the first, place, he addressed Jeremiah, Thy God, he said; and this was expressed by way of honor, even that God was the God of Jeremiah; for though the people boasted that they were holy, yet Nebuzaradan here indirectly condemned their foolish boastings, since he inti-mated that Jeremiah alone was worthy of being deemed one of God's servants, as though he had said, that the Jews were unworthy of the honor of glorying in God's name, or of professing it: Thy God then hath spoken. The rest tomorrow.


Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast promised that we shall be to thee as the apple of the eye, -- O grant, that we may ever flee under the shadow of thy mercy, and that this alone may be our tranquillity in times of confusion and misery: and may we, at the same time, recumb in confidence on thy help, that we may, in sincerity, perform what thou commandest us, and that which is our duty to do, so that we may, by experience, find, that all they who obey thy voice are really sustained by thine hand, and that those are never disappointed who look for the certain reward of their obedience from thee; and may we carry on the warfare so perseveringly in this life, that we may know that there is a reward laid up for us in heaven, when Christ thine only-begotten Son shall appear. -- Amen.

Lecture One Hundred and Fifty-Third

WE began yesterday to explain the words of Nebuzaradan which he spoke before all the Jews. We have said that though he directed his words to Jeremiah, yet what he said referred to the whole people; for he spoke in praise of Jeremiah, and subscribed to his prophecies: he hence concluded that the people deserved their extreme punishment. he says that God had spoken, not that he had faith in the words of Jeremiah, but as far as he saw, that they were serviceable to his purpose. He-gladly laid hold on what he approved, as ungodly men do, who embrace what is useful for them in God's Law and the Prophets, though they do not regard them with much reverence; and yet they pretend a great concern for religion. Such was the case with Nebu-zaradan; when he had got the victory over the Jews, he boasted that he was the minister of God; Jehovah, he says, has spoken, as though he had said, that the Jews suffered such punishment as they deserved, because God had long before declared that he would punish them.

And then he adds, that God had done as he had spoken, because they had sinned and hearkened not to his voice. He was nothing better; but as I have already said, he boldly reproved others. And this is a common thing with hypocrites and all despisers of God; they are judges in another's cause, but look not, as one has said, on the other side of the wallet. Thus all are keen and ready enough to condemn others; and of this we have an example here in Nebuzaradan, for, as though he was the lawful judge of the people, he declared that the destruction of the city and Temple had not happened by chance, but that it was a just punishment inflicted by God on the wicked, because they had obstinately rejected the prophetic doctrine, and had been intractable and disobedient.

Nor is there indeed a doubt, as we hinted yesterday, but that God, in order to expose the Jews to greater shame, raised up for them this prophet; for when Jeremiah addressed them, and that for their safety, while yet there was time to repent, they had perversely rejected that favor of God. They then deserved to be addressed with no benefit by a foreign teacher, who exulted over them, as this unbelieving heathen did in the present instance.

As to the option given to Jeremiah, we said yesterday that it was openly made in the presence of the Jews, in order that Nebuzaradan might wound them the more. But at the same time it was God's purpose to make the perseverance of his servant an example, as we shall hereafter see. Let us now proceed, --


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