13. My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there.
13. Et extendam rete meum super ipsum, et capietur in plagis meis,1 et educam eum inquit Babylonem in terrain Chaldaeae, et ipsam non videbit, et illic morietur.
That was no slight slaughter, when Zedekiah at length, in his desperation, thought of flight, and thus descended into hidden trenches, as if seeking life in the tomb: thus was he reduced to extremities. But the Prophet now adds, that it would be useless, because notwithstanding this he should be taken by his enemies. Besides, what God executed by means of the Chaldeans he properly transfers to himself. The Chaldeans laid their snares when advised of the king's flight: they knew its direction, and hence they apprehended him. So God announces himself as the author: I, says he, will stretch out my net. This we know, that the Chaldeans did not leave their own country of their own accord, nor carry on the war in their own strength, nor take the king by their own counsel; but the whole affair was under the government of heaven. Men lent their aid, and seemed to carry' on the work by their own labor; but unless God had provided for the event, all their endeavors had proved fruitless. Hence, as God had stirred up the Chaldeans to exact punishment from the king and the people, so he raised their minds to confidence, then he strengthened them to persist in the siege of the city, and afterwards opened their eyes, and sent persons to disclose the plans of the king, so that he might be seized in a cave, as it really happened. The whole of this was done by the secret providence of God. So diligently ought we to observe those places in which God shows that what seems to be the work of men is really his own. Even likeness does not want its weight; for we seem always to have some refuge in perplexity, and on whatever side we look around, some hope deceives us. But God announces that he has nets spread, by which we are surrounded on every side: hence when we seem to have a way of escape, God has hidden nets in which he encloses us. So that this place compares God to a hunter, and ourselves to wild beasts; for when a huntsman follows wild beasts, they seek for a way of escape and rush out there, but they are caught in nets: so also when we endeavor to elude God's hands, we are entrapped and held by him: because when we wish to withdraw ourselves from his providence, we deserve that blindness which leads us to rush on our own destruction.
Hence I will spread my net for him, and he shall be taken in my snares, I will lead him away, says he, to Babylon. The Prophet shows by degrees how formidably God's vengeance should alight on Zedekiah and the whole people. It was already most miserable to be taken by the enemy and subjected to their lust and cruelty. If he had been slain, this would have been accomplished in a single moment, but God wished him to be drawn into exile; meanwhile he says that he should die at Babylon, without seeing the city, both of which were accomplished. Zedekiah then wasted away in exile, for he lay even to his death in filth and defilement. And although he was buried, as we saw in Jeremiah, yet this condition was most sorrowful -- to fear through one's whole lifetime some fresh wrath of an enemy. Then he was barbarously and inhumanly treated: his eyes were put out on the journey; and here it is said, he shall not see Babylon, and yet he shall arrive there and die there. Afterwards he saw his sons strangled in his sight: then his eyes were dug out -- a spectacle more grievous than death. Now we may reflect on the kind of life a man must spend in exile, in prison, and in chains -- since he was bound with chains, as the sacred narrative informs us -- there to consume away by a slow death in a foul prison and in total darkness; yet all this happened to Zedekiah. We see then how God thunders against the Israelites, who thought themselves hardly treated in exile, since they might have remained safe at Jerusalem.
1 "In nets," some translate "a drag-net," but erroneously, and this has given rise to mistake, because some have thought the similie derived from fishes, while it is clear that the same thing is indicated by different words: he shall be taken therefore in my net. -- Calvin.
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