Jeremiah 49:36

36. And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come

36. Et adducam contra Elam quatuor ventos a quatuor finibus coelorum, et dispergam eos ad omnes ventos istos; et non erit gens ad quem non veniat quispiam profugus (est mutatio numeri, sed quae sensum non obscurat, quispiam ex iis qui expulsi fuerint) ab Elam.


He now adds that four winds would come, which would dissipate the whole people. God himself speaks, in order that the word might be more powerful and have more weight. I will rouse up, he says, four winds. And we know that the air is in a moment put in motion whenever it pleases God; and when Scripture extols the power of God, it does not without reason refer to the winds; for it is not a small miracle when the whole world is on a sudden put in motion. It is now tranquil, and then in half an hour the winds rise and conflict together in mid air. And God alludes to what is usual in nature: as then he suddenly rouses up winds which make, as it were, the whole world to shake and tremble; so he says he would raise up winds from the four ends of the world. But he speaks metaphorically; by winds he understands enemies, who would on all sides unite their powers to oppress the Elamites. I will bring, he says, on Elam the four winds from the four quarters of the world. By the last words he expresses more clearly what I have just said, that God alludes to that formidable power which is daily presented to our eyes in nature. As, then, a sudden change disturbs the whole earth when winds arise, so God declares that he would rouse up four winds from the four quarters of the heavens. And he calls them the quarters of the heavens; for though the winds arise from the earth, yet their blowing is not perceived until they ascend into mid air: and though sometimes they seem to be formed above the clouds, they yet arise from the earth; for the origin of the wind is cold and dry exhalation.

We now understand the reason why the Prophet speaks of the winds. There is yet no doubt but that he denotes some enemies by the four winds; but this prophecy was not fulfilled as long as the Persian monarchy ruled and flourished. It is, then, probable that the destruction denounced by the Prophet took place many ages after, even when the soldiers of Alexander contended about the supremacy; for we know how grievously distressed were all the Orientals when Alexander made an irruption into those countries. It was, indeed, a horrible tempest. But as he enjoyed the empire of the east but for a short time, what is said by the Prophet here was not then fulfilled. But those countries were afterwards so miserable, torn by intestine wars, that the Prophet does not without reason compare those contrary and opposite movements to four winds; for never has there been a fiercer emulation between enemies, and each of them had strong armies. Hence, then, it was, that that land was not oppressed by one enemy, but exposed to various and almost innumerable calamities. This is the reason that leads me to interpret this prophecy as fulfilled in the calamities which followed the death of Alexander the Great.

I will scatter them, he says, to these four winds; that is, as one wind breaks out at one time, and another at another time, so the Elamites shall flee here and there. For no one ruled long peaceably in the East, till almost all the soldiers of Alexander were consumed by mutual slaughters. Then Seleucus obtained Syria, and exercised the cruelest tyranny. But, as I have said, before Seleucus obtained peace and security, the whole of that part of the world had been inundated with blood. This is the reason why the Prophet says that the Elamites would be scattered to these four winds.

The end of the verse remains: and there shall be no nation to which some of the fugitives from Elam shall not come. We cannot, certainly, show from histories when this was fulfilled which the Prophet now says; but it is probable that that people were scattered at the time when the chiefs contended about the supremacy, that is, those who obtained power under Alexander. At the same time there would be nothing unreasonable were we to say that the Prophet spoke hyperbolically; and no doubt he exceeds due limits when he says "There shall be no nation to which some of the fugitives from Elam shall not come." He indeed understands all the neighboring nations. But it may also have been that they did not flee to the Asiatics, but rather departed towards the Persian sea or to the Indies. We have already stated why the servants of God sometimes introduced hyperbolical expressions into their teaching, even because they had to do with men who were slow and stupid, who would not hear God when speaking in a simple manner, and could hardly be moved when he thundered. It now follows --


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