27. And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Ben-hadad.
27. Et accendam ignem in muro Damasci, et consumet palatia Benhadad.
Here God himself speaks, and declares that he would be the author of the destruction of which Jeremiah prophesied. And he employs the similitude of fire, because there is nothing more violent or more dreadful than burning; for we know that the greatest cities are soon consumed and reduced to ashes when fire begins to blaze. God then compares the destruction of the city to burning, though no fire was applied to destroy the walls and the palaces of the king; but the Prophet means by this metaphor, that such would be the destruction of the city, as though it was consumed by fire. He at the same time reminds the faithful of God's judgment, that they might know that whatever happened to the Syrians proceeded from his hand; because such calamities would have availed but little, except this doctrine was also added, that just punishments are inflicted by God on the wickedness of men.
But when he speaks of the palaces of Ben-hadad, he briefly points out the cause why God would deal so severely with the Syrians. We have said already that they had been always hostile to God's chosen people. They first tried to overthrow the kingdom of Israel; afterwards they confederated with the kings of Israel, but it was for the purpose of overthrowing the kingdom of Judah; and many were the confederacies for this end. But Ben-hadad, as we read in the first book of Kings, grievously distressed the Israelites. We indeed learn from the history of those times, that there were many kings of Syria who bore this name, for it was a common name, as the kings of Egypt were called Pharaohs; and other kings also took a popular name, as the emperors of Rome called themselves Caesars. But we read that the last Ben-hadad was the son of Hazael, who was also the king of Syria; and as I have said, it was not a private name. Since, then, sacred history clearly shews that there were many who were called Ben-hadad, the Prophet, I have no doubt, refers to the first who began to disturb and harass the Israelites. He then points out the cause why God had determined to destroy Damascus, for he had in his forbearance borne for a long time with the Syrians. But when he saw that they did not repent, but on the contrary added sins to sins, at length ascending his tribunal, he says, that the fire which he would apply to the walls of Damascus, would also consume the palaces of Ben-hadad, that is, the palaces whence so many evils had proceeded, and so much cruelty, by which the miserable Church had been distressed. This is the meaning. It now follows, --