14. And fire is one out of a rod of her branches, which has devoured her fruit, so that she has no strong rod to be a scepter to rule. This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation.
Here the Prophet comes down to the close of their woes, when Zedekiah was dragged into captivity, and so the people's independence was abolished. God had formerly planted that vine, or at least some of the branches, in a desert spot, since first four tribes, and afterwards seven, were led away, and last of all, the greater part of the tribe of Judea; but the little that remained with King Zedekiah perished. He says, therefore, that the fire went forth from the vine branches: thus he shows that the last slaughter proceeded only from the people themselves; and lest they should utter their accustomed complaints, the Prophet meets them by saying that they were consumed by intestine fire; that is, their slaughter could not be ascribed to their Chaldaean conquerors, but to themselves; because King Zedekiah, by his own perfidy, had stirred up the king of Babylon against himself; for he might have spent his time in his kingdom, but he could not refrain himself from throwing off the yoke; for this reason he armed himself against the king of Babylon, because he was a breaker of treaties: and thus the Prophet says, with propriety, that a fire went forth from one rod, or twig of its branches, and hence the fruit of the whole vine was consumed; that is, the remnant was lost by the fault of that perfidious king. He now adds, there was no scepter for ruling among its rods. Hence it appears that the exposition which I have advanced suits best, and is entirely genuine. He said first that the rods were for a scepter of the rulers; but he here says there was no scepter for them among these rods. What follows we will treat tomorrow.
Grant, Almighty God, since you have once deigned to insert us into the body of thy Son, that we may be such vine-branches as you have undertaken to cultivate: that by the power of thy Spirit we may be so watered as never to be deficient in spiritual rigor: and may we so bear fruit to the glory of thy name, that we may at length arrive at the fountain of our faith when we enjoy the celestial glory to which you have adopted us in the same, your only-begotten
Time did not permit us yesterday to explain the words at the close of this nineteenth chapter: this is a lamentation, and it shall be a lamentation. Some think this to be said of the Jews, that is, of all the, Israelites, since they should all be lamentable, because God would not cease to inflict his judgments upon them until he had utterly consumed them. But I had rather refer it to the prophecy, and this is the more correct sense. This lamentation: thus the Prophet designates this sad and mournful prophecy because it contains the last slaughter of the people. Secondly, he adds, it shall be for a lamentation, because it suggests material for wailing, since remarkable miseries are accustomed to be more celebrated. If anything usual occurs, men soon forget it; but if any slaughter happens worthy of notice and of remembrance it is everywhere spread abroad, nay, it supplies posterity with material for their poems. Hence the Prophet signifies not only that this prophecy was mournful, but that God's wrath would fly about in common conversation through so rare and memorable an example. I now come to the twentieth chapter.
1 Or, "consumed." -- Calvin.
2 That is, "strong." -- Calvin.
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