6. O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? Put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still.
6. Heus gladie Jehovae, quousque non quiesces? collige te (vel, reconde te) in vaginam tuam; quiesce et sile.
7. How can it be quiet, seeing the Lord hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea-shore? there hath he appointed it.
7. Quomodo quiesces, cum Jehova praeceperit ei (vel, de ipsa, sed malo, praeceperit ei) super Ascalon, et super littus maris, illic contestatus sit ei?
Here Jeremiah turns to address the sword of God; and it is a happy apostrophe. It is very striking and forcible, when the Prophet at one time addresses the land of the Philistines, and at another, the sword of God; and he had no other object but to confirm his prophecy, of which otherwise, the Jews might have doubted.
He then says, Ho! sword of Jehovah! Though he puts here the preposition l, lamed, which designates the dative case; yet it is often redundant. There is, in the meantime, no doubt but that he intimates that the slaughter of which he speaks would be, as it were, by God's sword, or by a sword hired by him. Thus he shews that the Chaldeans would do the work of God in destroying the land of the Philistines.
How long, he says, ere thou restest! Hide thyself in thy sheath, rest and be still. Here the Prophet assumes the character of another, as though he wished to soothe with blandishments the sword of God, and mitigate its fury. "O sword," he says, "spare them, leave off to rage against the Philistines." The Prophet, it is certain, had no such feeling; but, as we have said elsewhere, it was a common thing with the Prophets to assume different characters while endeavor-ing more fully to confirm their doctrine. It is the same, then, as though he represented here the Philistines; and the Prophets speak also often in the person of those on whom they denounce the vengeance of God. It is here as though he had said, "The Philistines will humbly ask pardon of God's sword, but it will be without advantage or profit; for when they seek to mitigate the wrath of God, the answer will be, How can it rest?" Here the Prophet, as it were, reproves himself, "I act foolishly in wishing to repress the sword of God; for how canst thou rest?" It could not be; and why? because God hath commanded it against Ashkelon. He now changes the person, but without any injury to the sense. God, then, hath commanded it, therefore the whole world would intercede in vain; in vain also will the Philistines deprecate it; for it will not be in their power to mitigate God's wrath, when it shall burn against them and against Ashkelon.
Some take it, h, he, as meaning the land itself; but as it immediately follows, against Ashkelon and against the seashore, it is better to explain it as above.
By the sea-shore some understand Joppa; but it is probable that the Prophet includes the whole coast, and that he thus still speaks of Tyre, and Sidon, and Gaza, though he names Ashkelon, which was a little distant from the sea. When, therefor, God commanded his sword against Ashkelon and all the cities which were by the sea-shore, the execution of his judgement could not be prevented in that region. He further adds, he hath commanded it; but it is in a solemn manner, and hence I have rendered the words, he hath called it to witness, or protested it. He then intimates that God had not simply given his sword a command to commit slaughters through the whole land, but bound his sword, as it were, by solemn protest; as though he had said, that this decree could not be revoked, because Godwill not only command his sword to execute his vengeance, but will also give it a solemn command, and bind it, as it were, by an oath, never to cease from its work until the whole people, and all the cities, and the whole land, should be destroyed together.
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou wouldst have to exist a monument of thine invaluable mercy towards thy chosen people, when thou didst so grievously punish the unbelieving, -- O grant, that we may at this day resort to thee whenever our enemies distress us, and never doubt but that thou wilt take care of our safety, and so recumb on thy mercy, that we may patiently wait for the time of our deliverance; and that, in the meantime, we may see from on high, as in mirror, the punishment prepared for the unbelieving, so that we may not follow their example nor implicate ourselves in their vices, but separate ourselves from them, that, being devoted to thee, we may fight under the banner of thine only-begotten Son, until he shall gather us into his celestial kingdom. -- Amen.