22. Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God.
22. Revertimini, filii rebelles; sanabo transgressiones vestras. Ecce, nos venimus ad to, quia Jehova Deus noster.
23. Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.
23. Certe fallacia a collibus, multitudo montium; certe in Jehova Deo nostro sans Israel.
God here exhorts the Israelites to repent, that by their example he might move the Jews. The benefit of what is here taught might indeed have reached to the miserable captives and exiles; but as Jeremiah was especially the teacher of his own nation, he labored chiefly no doubt for their advantage, as we have before stated. God then here declares, that he would be reconcilable to the Israelites, how grievously soever they had sinned, he afterwards introduces them as answering, Behold, we return, or we shall come to thee: for the Prophet speaks here of the future conversion of the ten tribes.
It is then a dialogue between God and the Israelites. God himself freely invites them to repent: Return, he says, ye rebellious children; and then he promises to be a physician to heal their diseases: I will heal thy transgressions; that is, I will blot out thy sins, and absolve thee from guilt. God then undertakes to do these things; first, to stimulate the Israelites to repentance, and then to give them the hope of pardon: and he says that a remedy was provided for them, except they hardened themselves. Now, the Israelites, on the other hand, make this answer, Behold, we shall come to thee Here Jeremiah condemns the obstinacy of his own nation, by saying, that the Israelites, when thus kindly invited by God, would not be perverse, but would, on the contrary, be tractable and obedient. This indeed was not fulfilled, when a liberty to return was given to the people, except in the case of a few, who had a right feeling, and preferred the glory of God to their temporal advantages. But the number was small; nor was it a matter of surprise; for God had not previously said, without reason, that if one came from a city, and two from a tribe, he would be received, though others continued fixed in their perverseness. However this may have been, God here intimates that the Israelites would not be so refractory as not to obey his admonition when the hope of pardon and salvation would be presented to them: and this is mentioned, that the perverseness of the Jews might appear more detestable.
But some think that the Israelites are here upbraided, because they hypocritically pretended that they always sought God. Hence they elicit this meaning, |Ye indeed say, Behold, we return to thee, thou art our God;| as though he condemned their hypocrisy, because they falsely alleged that they always sought him. But this view seems to me foreign to the intention of the Prophet. Hence I doubt not but that Jeremiah sets before the Jews, as in a picture, what ought to have constrained them not to persist so obstinately in their sinful courses: |Behold,| he says, |God is prepared to receive into favor your brethren, who are undone and past all hope; and when they shall hear God's voice kindly and graciously inviting them to himself, they will doubtless return: why then do not ye obey?|
And in the same sense is to be taken what follows, Surely, deceit is from the hills, and the multitude of mountains, or, from the multitude of mountains, as the letter m is to be repeated. Here the Prophet more fully expresses the evidence of their repentance, as though he had said, |We have been deceived by the hills and the multitude of mountains; we thought that there would be more defense from a large number of gods than if we worshipped one God: this deception has led to ruin. Let then all these deceits be now discarded; for we shall be content with the only true God.| In short, the Israelites confess, in these words, that they had been drawn into ruin by the worst of errors, while they sought many gods, and did not acquiesce in the one true God.
Then they add, for surely in Jehovah our God is salvation They set here the one true God in opposition to all their idols, as though they had said, that the cause of all their evils was, that they did not continue in the service of the one true God, but wandered after a multitude of Gods. We hence see that these two things cannot possibly be connected, -- to worship the true God, -- and to seek for ourselves various other gods, and to form vain hopes, as they do, who are not satisfied with the only true God. It follows --