13. And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry end thirsty ground.
13. Et nunc plantata est in deserto, in terra siccitatis et sitis.1
The Prophet seems here inconsistent with himself, since these two clauses are openly at variance, that the vine was not, only withered, but burnt up, and yet planted in a desert place; for if it was withered, it could not take root again; but the burning removed the slightest hope; for when the twigs were reduced to ashes, who ever saw a vine spring up and grow from its ashes? But when the Prophet says that the vine was withered and burnt up, he refers to the conclusion which men must arrive at by their own senses when the city was utterly ruined; for that was in truth a horrible spectacle, when the people were made tributary after their king was taken, the temple, plundered, the city ruined, and their safety dependent on the lust of their conqueror. Since, therefore, neither the royal name and dignity, nor freedom and security, remained, and especially when they were led to the slaughter-house, was not their ruin very like a burning? Now, therefore, we see why the Prophet said that the vine was torn and burnt up, for that most severe destruction took away all hope of restoration for a short time. Hence he spoke according to common sense: then he kept in view that form of horrible ruin, or rather deformity, which was like a burning and a final destruction of the people. But now, when he says that the vine was planted again, he commends the mercy of God, who wished some seed to remain for the production of young plants; as it is said in the first chapter of Isaiah, Lest you should be in like Sodom and Gomorrah, some small seed has been wonderfully preserved. Although, therefore, the people were burnt up after being violently plucked up, and all their lives subjected to the will of the proudest, of conquerors, yet God took some twigs or vine branches, which he planted, that he might propagate a new nation, which was done at the people's return.
But he says that those vine branches were planted in the desert in the dry and thirsty land, since God preserves the religion of his people even in death. Hence he compares their exile to a desert and a wilderness. It may seem absurd at first sight that, Chaldaea should be likened to a desert, since that district we know to be remarkable for its fertility and other advantages; we know, too, that it was well watered, though called dry. But the Prophet here does not, consider the material character of the country, but the condition of the people in it. Although Chaldaea was most lovely, and full of all kinds of fruits, yet, since the people were cruelly oppressed and contemptuously treated, hence the land was called a desert. We say that no prison is beautiful, so that their exile could not be agreeable to the children of Israel; for they were ashamed of their life, and did not dare to raise their eyes upwards. Since, then, they were drowned in a deep abyss of evils, the land was to them a desert; hence there was no splendor, dignity, or opulence; and liberty, the most precious of all boons, was wrested from them. Now we see the sense of the words. It follows at length --
1 That is, "dry and barren." -- Calvin.
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