Jeremiah 49:9

9. If grape-gatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning-grapes? if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough.

9. Si vindemiatores venissent contra to, non reliquissent uvas? si fures in nocte, nonne perdidissent quod sufficeret ipsis?


Interpreters have not only obscured, but also perverted this verse, and only said what is to no purpose, and have gone far from the meaning of the Prophet.1 How so? because it did not occur to them to compare this with a passage in Obadiah. Obadiah is the true interpreter; nay, our Prophet has borrowed what we read here from him. For there a question is asked, "If thieves were to come to thee, if robbers (ydds, shaddi, is added there, but is omitted by Jeremiah) -- if robbers by night, how wouldest thou have been reduced to nothing?" But in the first place the rendering ought to be, "Had thieves come to thee, how wouldest thou have been reduced to nothing?" then he adds, "Would they not have stolen what would suffice them?" He afterwards adds the second clause, "If the grape-gatherers had come to thee, would they not have left grapes." There is now then no ambiguity in the Prophet's words, if we read them interrogatively. But there is an implied contrast between the calamity threatened to the people and the other devastations. Were a thief of the night to plunder another's house, he would depart, loaded with his prey, and leave something behind; for in all plunder some things remain: so also as to grape-gatherers, some grapes remain, which escape the gatherers.

Then the Prophet here shews, that so great would be the destruction of that nation, that it would exceed all kinds of plundering; for when one strips his vines, he leaves some grapes; and when a thief enters a house, he does not carry all things away with him, being satisfied with his booty. But nothing, he says, shall be left remaining with the Idumeans. We hence see why the Prophet brings forward the two comparisons, that of the grape-gatherers and of the thieves.

We must at the same time observe, that when God denounces his vengeance on the Israelites, he often adduces these comparisons, in order to show that nothing would be left them, "When the olives are shaken, yet some fruit remains on the top of the trees; but thou shalt be wholly emptied." As God had said these things, the Israelites might have raised an objection and said, "What is our condition, and how miserable! for we are extremely afflicted; though God afflicts the Idumeans, yet he deals mildly with them, for God's wrath is less inflamed against them than against us." Lest then the faithful should be thus thrown into despair, our Prophet declares that the Idumeans would be wholly destroyed, so that not a grape would be left them, nor any of their furniture, for their enemies would lay desolate the whole land. Now follows a confirmation of this verse --

1 The interpreters probably referred to are the Sept. and the Vulg., where the interrogative form is not used; not so the Syr. and the Targ. -- Ed.


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