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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 3:21

21. A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God.

21. Vox super excelsa audita est, fletus precationum filiorum Israel; quia perverterunt viam suam, obliti sunt Jehovae Dei sui.

What I have stated becomes now more evident, -- that the case of the Israelites is here set before the Jews, that the perverse, whom God had spared, might know that the same punishment impended over them, except they returned in due time to him: for the Prophet declares, that the Israelites were weeping and in tears, because they had departed from their God, and violated their faith pledged to him. For what purpose did he do this? That the Jews, who indulged themselves in their own pleasures, might be awakened, and be convinced, that except they anticipated God's judgments, the same tears and the same weeping were prepared for them. The Israelites, indeed, did not as yet thus weep and shew signs of true repentance; for the Prophet does not here commend their feeling or their piety, but intimates, that they were thus severely afflicted, because they had forsaken their God.

A voice, he says, was heard on high places, that is, It was everywhere sufficiently known how cruelly the Israelites were oppressed by their enemies. Now they cried, then they called themselves the most wretched of men: why was this lamentation? Because they had perverted their ways It is, then, the same as though he had said, -- that it was a monstrous perverseness in the Jews, that being warned by the punishment of their brethren, they did not repent: for the calamity which happened to the Israelites filled all men with terror. That kingdom had, indeed, flourished for a long time; but the land had been emptied of its inhabitants, and was occupied by wild beasts, until some were sent from Persia and other parts in the East to cultivate it. How could a land so pleasant and so fruitful have become like a desert? Even because God had so predicted:

|Ye have neglected,| he says, |my Sabbaths, and your land shall rest, and it shall no more be wearied by you.|
(Leviticus 26:34, 35.)

It was an awful sight; and nations, far and wide, were able to see how great must have been the impiety of that people, on whom God had taken such dreadful vengeance. Were not the Jews, who had this solitude before their eyes, and this devastation of the land, extremely stupid in overlooking all this?

We now see the design of the Prophet, when he says, A voice on high places was heard, as though the Israelites cried on the tops of mountains. And he adds, the weeping of the supplications, etc.: but he does not mean, that they were prayers which arose from faith; but simply that they were such lamentations as betokened misery and wretchedness. In giving a reason, the Prophet mentions not what the Israelites confessed, but only shews the cause why they so deeply deplored their calamities; it was, because they had perverted their ways, and forgotten Jehovah their God He afterwards adds --

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