Lecture One Hundred and Seventy-Fourth
7. Concerning Edom, thus saith the Lord of hosts, Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?
7. Ad Edom (contra Edom) sic dicit Jehova exercituum, An non amplius sapientia in Theman? periitne consilium ab intelligentibus? computruit (vel, supervacua facta est) sapientia ipsorum?
Here Jeremiah turns to Idumeans, who were most inveterate enemies to the chosen people, though their origin ought to have disposed them to show kindness to them, for they had descended from the same father, even Abraham. The Idumeans also gloried in their holy descent, and had circumcision in common with the Jews. It was then a most impious cruelty that the Idumeans entertained such bitter hatred towards their own blood. Hence our Prophet most severely reproved them, as also did Ezekiel and Obadiah. (Ezekiel 25:12-14; Obadiah 1,8.)
He says first,
"I will take away wisdom from Teman, and there shall be no understanding in Mount Esau."
But as Obadiah had preceded Jeremiah, it was necessary that he should speak of this as of a future thing. But our Prophet, as the judgment of which Obadiah was a witness and a herald, was near at hand, boldly exults over the Idumeans, and laughs at their reproach, inasmuch as they were deprived of counsel and understanding when they had most need of them. Teman, no doubt, was the name of a mountain or of a region; and this we learn from the Prophet Habakkuk,
"God shall come from Teman, and the holy one from Mount Paran." (Habakkuk 3:3)
It was also a chief city, as we learn form other places; and our Prophet sets it forth as the seat of the kingdom, when he says,
I wonder that interpreters, skillful in the language and conversant in it, should render the last word "sons," for it is unsuitable to the place.1 The word, no doubt, is derived from
He then adds,
I give then this explanation: he first says,
But we must notice the sameness and the difference between our Prophet and Obadiah. The latter foretold the blindness of that nation; but our Prophet, as though he wished to rouse from their torpor those who had been inattentive to the prophecy of Obadiah, exclaims, "How has wisdom perished from Teman, and counsel from the intelligent?" We must further observe, that this punishment was by God inflicted on the Idumeans, because they had applied all their thoughts to frauds and intrigues; and it seldom happens, but that they who excel in acuteness become very sharp and fraudulent. As then men are thus wont to abuse for the most part their knowledge, God blinds them, and shews that men cannot of themselves be wise, but as far as it is given them from above. As I have already said, the Prophet enlarges on this judgment, that he might the more effectually rouse the minds of men. For had the Idumeans been rustics, such as dwell among mountains, and had no report prevailed as to their wisdom, no one would have wondered that they were taken and subdued; for simple and unwary men are exposed to the intrigues of their enemies, and cannot escape them. But the Prophet, in order to set forth this judgment of God as wonderful, says that their wisdom had been as it were overflowing, that is, like an abundant treasure, for they administered counsel to others. As, then, the Idumeans so much excelled in intelligence, especially those who dwelt in the city Teman, the Prophet shews by this very circumstance that their blindness proceeded from the manifest vengeance of God, and that such a change did not happen by chance. It follows, --
1 So the Vulg. and the Targ., while the Sept. and the Syr., have "prudent," or intelligent. The word is not in its regular form, the y iod being wanted, and the m mem before it being omitted, which is not uncommon. Discerning rather than "prudent," or "intelligent," is its meaning. -- Ed.
2 Some maintain that the first clause only is a question, for there is no interrogatory particle prefixed to the other clauses, --
Is wisdom no longer in Teman? Perished has counsel from the discerning, Vanished has their wisdom.
Neither the versions nor the Targum put the two last lines as questions; nor the Sept. and the Syr. the first. The verb
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