44. Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan unto the habitation of the strong: but I will make them suddenly run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?
44. Ecce tanquam leo ascendet (ascondens) a tumore Jordanis (ab altitudine, vel, elevatione, proprie, Nwag etiam significat metaphorice superbiam) ad habitaculum forte, quum quiescere fecero, (vel, postquam irruptionem fecero,) currere faciam eos ab ipsa; et quis electus quem super eam praeficiam? Quis enim similis mei? et quis contestabitur mecum? et quis ille pastor qui consistat coram me (vel, ad faciem meam)?
We have explained nearly the same words in the last chapter; for the Prophet not only used the same similitude respecting the Humans, but also added all the words which are found here; nay, the Prophet brings forward nothing new to the end of the chapter, but only repeats what we have seen before.
He first compares either Darius or Cyrus to a lion, who, at, the overflowing of Jordan, removes to another place. This passage, like the former, is indeed variously explained. Some read, "for the pride of Jordan." But as it appears from other places that lions had their dens near the banks of Jordan, I have no doubt but that the Prophet here compares Cyrus to, a lion, forced to leave his own lair because of the inundation of that river. We know how savage a beast is the lion; but, when he is forced to change his dwelling and to move to another place, his fury rages the more. It is the same, then, as though he had said, that not any sort of lion would attack the Babylonians, but a lion furious through rage. He then adds, to the strong habitation. When he spoke of the Idumeans, the allusion might have been to their country, which was elevated, and they had also mountains as their fortresses. But as Babylon was also strongly fortified, and nearly impregnable on account of fire various streams of the Euphrates, what the Prophet says is also suitable, that a lion would come, though there were hindrances which might impede his course; for when a lion rambles, being not hungry nor forced by any necessity, he can turn here and there as he pleases; but when rage drives and constrains him, he will then surmount all obstacles. So also the Prophet says, that how confident soever Babylon might be in its fortresses, yet Cyrus would break through them, for he would be like a lion, who, at the overflowing of Jordan, removes elsewhere, as he can no longer find his wonted dwelling.
We now perceive the meaning of the words, -- that the Babylonians would have to do, not with an idle but a terrible enemy, and with one who would surmount all obstacles, as when fury excites a lion when necessity drives him as it were headlong.
What follows is obscure. Some render the words thus, "When I shall make Israel to rest, then I will make them to flee from her." In the former place (Jeremiah 49:19), we read "him," in the singular, wnuyra, aritsnu; but here the Prophet uses the plural number, "them," Muyra, aritsem; it is yet certain that the meaning is the same. Some, at the same time, apply this to the Jews, that God would remove them from Babylon, purposing to give them rest, that is, by dwelling securely in their own country; but as there is no mention made here of his people, this view is forced and far-fetched. I omit other explanations, for the meaning of the Prophet seems to me to be simply this, When I shall make an irruption, or, after I shall have made them rest, I will make them to flee. He speaks, as I think, of the Chaldeans; and the particle yk, ki, is to be taken as an adverb of time, when, or after. It is, indeed, often a causative, but it has sometimes this meaning.
Now, these two clauses may be thus explained: When I shall make an irruption, or, when I shall have made them rest; for egr, rego, means both to break and to rest. It is here in the active or causative conjugation, in Hiphil. If, then, we read, "After I shall have made them to rest," the sense will be that the: Babylonians had been long tranquil, as there was no one who infested them or disturbed their peace; and we know that men having long rested in their idleness and sloth, become almost stupefied, so that they are touched with no fear. God then shows that the Babylonians were greatly mistaken, if they thought that the rest which they had previously enjoyed would be perpetual; for he would make them to flee from the city, though they had been long there in a tranquil state. The other sense is by no means unsuitable, "When I shall break," or make an irruption, then all will flee away, that is, leave the city, which was before like a paradise. There is still no doubt but that the Prophet here denounces on the Babylonians a sudden overthrow, which would drive the people here and there in all directions.1
It now follows, Who is the chosen one whom I shall set over her? God here in a manner deliberates as to the person whom he should make the leader of the war against the Chaldeans; and by these words he intimates that there would be ready for him the best general, and one especially active and also excelling in the art of war. And we know that even the unwilling are made to serve God, when he employs the ungodly as his scourges. In short, God shows that though the Babylonians might have brave leaders and most skillful in war, there yet would be prepared leaders, to whom he would commit the office of taking that city. And thus he teaches us at the same time that men are ruled by his hand, so that he chooses them according to his will and directs them to any work he pleases, Who is the chosen one, he says, whom I shall set over her?
And he adds, and who is like me? Here the Prophet shows that the Babylonians in vain trusted in their own defenses; for after having tried all things, they would find that whatever was set up against God and his invincible power, would be mere smoke. This sentence often occurs; and however common it may appear, yet, if we examine ourselves, we shall find that the Holy Spirit does not so often enforce it without reason; for after we have confessed that none is equal to God or can add to his power, -- as soon as any trial assails us, this confession vanishes, and we tremble as though God was nothing, and had no power to bring us help. Diffidence, then, which often creeps in when we are in difficulties or dangers, sufficiently shows that we do not attribute to God the praise due to his power. He does not then exclaim here, as in other places, without reason, Who is like me? as though he had said, that the Babylonians would foolishly seek auxiliaries here and there; for when they had made the utmost exertions, whatever they might think the most useful would all vanish away, so that they would be destitute of all remedies.
He adds, And who will protest against me? Some give this frigid version, Who will prescribe to me the time? but they wholly pervert the meaning of the Prophet; for God in this place declares, that men would in vain contend or litigate with him. It is the same as if he had said, "Though all men were to rise up against, me, yet I will not allow them to litigate with me; and this they would also do in vain." In short, God intimates that men would in vain clamor against his judgments, for he would nevertheless perform what he has decreed. He does not yet claim for himself that absolute power about which the sophists prattle, while they separate it from justice; but he intimates that the causes are not always manifest to men when he executes his judgments; for it is not without reason that the Scripture testifies that God's judgments are a deep abyss; but by such an expression it is not meant that anything in God's judgments is confused or in disorder, what then? even that God works in an extraordinary manner, and that hence his judgments are sometimes hidden from men.
Then God briefly shows, that though the Babylonians were to dispute, and start many objections, all this would be useless, because he would execute what he had decreed, and that without debating.
Let us then learn from these words, that when God's works have the appearance of being unreasonable, we ought humbly to admire them, and never to judge them according to our computation; for God is not to be judged by us. Therefore, as I have already said, we are then only wise, when we humbly adore him in all his works, without disputing with him; for when we adduce all possible things, he will close our mouth with one word, and check all our presumption; nay, he will ever overcome us by being silent, for his justice will always overthrow whatever may come to our minds. But we must bear in mind what I have stated, that God never so acts by his absolute power as to separate it from his justice; for this would be as it were to wound himself; for these things are undivided, his power and justice, though justice often does not appeal however this may be, his sole and simple will is to us the rule of all justice.
It follows, And who is that shepherd who will stand before me? He alludes to the similitude he had used, for he compared himself before to a lion. he says now, "Since I shall go against Babylon like a lion, what shepherd will dare to oppose me?" We see that there is to be understood a contrast, between a lion and a shepherd; for God would be like a lion to destroy Babylon; hence, by pastor, he denotes any adversary who might come forth to defend the Chaldean flock. It follows, --