20. Therefore hear the counsel of the Lord that he hath taken against Edom, and his purposes that he hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out; surely he shall make their habitations desolate with them.
20. Propterea audite consilium Jehovae, quod consultavit contra Edom, et cogitationes ejus, quas cogitavit contra habitatores Theman; Si non minores gregiseos dejecerint, si non perdiderint super eos habitacula ipsorum (vel, si non perdant super ipsos habitacula ipsorum.)
The Prophet proceeds with his subject respecting the Idumeans and their destruction; but he makes a preface in order to gain credit to his words. He then says that this was God's counsel and his thoughts. He speaks after the manner of men; for he transfers to God what does not properly belong to his nature; for God does not deliberate or consult, but has once for all decreed before the creation of the world what he will do; nor does he toss about his thoughts in all directions, as men do, who do not immediately see what is right or what ought to be done. Nothing of this kind belongs to God. But this way of speaking is sufficiently common, when what strictly applies to man is transferred to God. It ought at the same time to be observed, that this is not done without reason, for when God speaks by his servants, we ever raise doubts, "Is that said in earnest -- can it be changed -- is it revocable?" In short, we receive what is light and frivolous, and immediately give credit to it; but when God declares anything, we subject it to comments, and raise up a hundred disputes on every subject, "Oh, but this or that may happen; and it may be that God does not speak in earnest." As, then, men never acquiesce in God's word, as they ought to do, the Prophets borrow from common use these forms of speech, that God had thus thought, that he had thus decreed.
The meaning is, that whatever Jeremiah had hitherto predicted of the Idumeans, could not be retracted, for it was a settled decree, so fixed as though God had thought of it for a hundred or thousand years.
He now adds,
The formula of swearing is adopted, when he says, If not, draw them, etc. It is an elliptical phrase, as it has often been observed; such an obtestation as this is understood, "Believe me not hereafter," or, "Regard me not as God." In short, it is a form of an oath, which is a stronger affirmation than if he had simply said, "Draw them forth shall the least of the flock."
Some render the last clause, "If not, set shall they," etc.; as though the verb came from
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