Jeremiah 49:10-11

10. But I have made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself his seed is spoiled, and his brethren, and his neighbor's, and he is not.

10. Quia ego discooperio Esau, retego abscondita ejus, et occultari non poterit; vastatum est semen ejus (aut, vastabitur) et fratres ejus, et vicini, et non ipse (quanquam alii vertunt, et nemo erit, et contexunt proximum versum,)

11. Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me.

11. Relinque pupillos tuos; ego vivificabo (hoc est, alam ipsos;) et viduae tuae in me sperent.


As to the beginning of the verse, the meaning of the Prophet is not obscure; for he means that such would be the destruction of the people of Edom, that they would be spoiled by enemies, that they would become wholly naked. But he speaks in the name of God: Behold, I uncover Esau, and make open his hidden things. By hidden things he means treasures, as it is evident from Obadiah. He then says that he would so expose the Idumeans to plunder, that there would be no hidden thing but that their enemies would seize and plunder it. This is the meaning.

He then confirms what I have said, that this plundering would not be like grape-gathering, or theft, or common robbery, because God would altogether empty the Idumeans of all that they had, even of all that they hid in the ground.

With regard to the end of the verse, some give this explanation, "There will be none to say:" there is then a word to be understood, -- "there will be none to say, Leave thy orphans to me, I will nourish or sustain them, or I will he a father to them; and thy widows, let them hope or trust in me, or rest on me." For it is no small comfort to parents, when they know that their widows would have one to flee to, and also their orphans. When one dies and sees that his widow is destitute of every help, and sees that his orphans are miserable and needy, his paternal and conjugal love is grievously wounded. For is it more bitter than death itself, when the husband cannot provide any help for his widow, when he cannot provide any relief for his orphans. Hence some interpreters think that the ruin of this people is in this way exaggerated; that is, because no one would be found to bring comfort to parents, and to take as it were the place of the dead.

But the meaning would not be unsuitable, were the words deemed ironical, that the Prophet spoke in the person of God, Leave to me thy orphans, I will nourish them, and let thy widows rest on me, or trust in me: for it follows afterwards, Behold, they to whom there was no judgment, have drunk of the cup, etc. The passage then would not read amiss, if we consider that God taunts the Idumeans, and ironically declares that he would be a judge against them even after they were dead; for God's vengeance, we know, reaches to the third and the fourth generation. As then he had before declared, that the Idumeans would be destroyed, their seed, their brethren, and their neighbors, so he now confirms the same thing, -- "What! dost thou expect that I should be a father or a protector to thy orphans? that I should bring aid to thy widow? This thou expectest in vain from me."

The Prophet, in a few words, very sharply goads the minds of the Idumeans, when God thus presents himself, and says by way of mockery, that he would be a protector to their orphans and widows; for they had indiscriminately vented their rage on orphans and women, and spared neither sex nor age. Then God shews here that there was no reason why they should expect any comfort as to their children, for he would be their avenger to the third and the fourth generation. And forced, no doubt, is what some say; at least I do not see how the words, I will nourish them, can comport with the rest of the context. This clause, then, I apply to God himself, because his vengeance would consume them with their brethren, their neighbors and their seed. And the irony is the most suitable to the whole passage; that is, that God meant to show, that he could bring no help to orphans or aid to widows, since they had been so cruel both to orphans and widows.1 Then follows a confirmation --

1 Neither of the two explanations here given are satisfactory, though the first especially has been adopted by many, such as Henry and Scott. It is difficult to know the meaning of the Sept.; the Vulg. and the Syr. are literally our version. The Targ. goes wide astray, representing this verse as addressed to the people of Israel, of whom there is no mention here. Blayney supposes a typographical mistake, joins bze to the preceding verse, and puts h, to the next word, and gives this version, --

And there is nothing of him left. 11. Shall I preserve the life of thy fatherless children? Or shall thy widows trust in me?

The questions he considers as strong negatives. The simpler view seems to be this: in the preceding verse the destruction not only of Esau, but also of his brethren and neighbours, is announced. His "seed" means his posterity, the nation, and he was was not to be, that is, as a kingdom. There would be still some "orphans" and "widows," and as "brethren" and "neighbors" would be destroyed as well as Esau himself, as to all grown up people, forming the nation, and thus orphans and widows would be left helpless, God was pleased to give the promise here stated:

Leave thy orphans, I will preserve them, Thy widows also, in me let them trust.

The last verb is both masculine and feminine, and refers both to the orphans and widows. This is substantially the explanation given by Venema, and is the most satisfactory. -- Ed.


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