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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 4:16

16. Make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah.

16. Memorate in gentibus (vel, ad gentes,) ecce promulgate super Jerusalem, obsessores veniunt e terra longinqua, et mittunt super urbes Jehudah vocem suam.

The beginning of this verse is variously explained. Some read, |Remember ye the nations, |and think that the Prophet says this, because many of the nations were heralds of that vengeance of God, which the Jews despised, as they thought that what the true heralds of God declared were mere fables. They therefore take the meaning of this passage, as though Jeremiah sent the Jews to the nations, intimating that they were unworthy that God should send them his usual teachers. But as the verb is in Hiphil, we ought rather to read, Rehearse it: and some give this explanation, |Rehearse, |or tell, |of the nations;| that is, |Announce that the Chaldeans are hastening to lay waste the land, to pull down the cities of Judah and to destroy the people.| But there is a third meaning which, in my judgment, comports better with the passage. He literally says, Rehearse it to the nations; behold, proclaim against Jerusalem: for as the Prophet saw that he spent his labor in vain on that stupid people, who had become so hardened in their perverseness, that they were wholly inattentive and unteachable, he turned his address to the nations, and said, |Rehearse it to the Gentiles;| as though he had said, |I have long ago reminded this people, that God had other teachers; but what have we gained by our labor, except that the people become continually worse: since then it is so, now he says, Declare it to the nations concerning Jerusalem;' let the Jews hear nothing more of their ruin, but let God's vengeance on them be made known to the heathens.| There is nothing strained or obscure in this explanation; and it is wholly consonant with the prophetic style.

He then deigned no longer to favor his own nation with heavenly truth; because this would have cast what was holy to the dogs; but he directs his discourse to the heathens, as though he had said, |There is more knowledge in the blind and unbelieving than in the chosen people of God.| This does not shew but that he afterwards continued a long time in the discharge of his office; for the prophets, inflamed with zeal for God, often threatened the people with utter ruin, and afterwards performed their charge and tried whether they, of whom they seemed to despair, were healable.

He says that besiegers would come from a far country. Some render ntsrym, netserim, keepers; and they think that Jeremiah alludes to Nebuchadnezzar, because his captains would come to destroy Jerusalem and to demolish the cities of Judah. But I prefer to render the word |besiegers.| Though some think that ntsr, netser, sometimes means to destroy or lay waste; yet the other meaning seems more suitable, as it appears evident from the next verse. To render it keepers, seems to be frigid; though this is what is done almost by all. I render it |besiegers,| -- Come then shall besiegers; for ntsr, netser, means not only to keep, but also to shut up in a strait place. Come, he says, shall besiegers from a far country. He used these expressions, that the people might not promise themselves impunity, as it has been before stated, through the forbearance of God: for when God deferred his vengeance, they thought themselves relieved from all fear. Hence he says, that though the enemy was not as yet present, though they did not as yet hear the sound of the coming enemy, God at the same time did not threaten them in vain; for he would in an instant send for those from a distant land, who would execute his vengeance.

What follows, they shall send forth their voice against the cities of Judah, is added, in order that the Jews might know that they could by no hindrances prevent God from bringing quickly the Chaldeans to terrify their cities by their sound. What he indeed means is the shout by which soldiers rouse one another to fight: but as this is commonly done as a sign of victory, he intimates that it was all over with the Jews; for the soldiers had as it were already uttered their triumphant shoutings. It follows --

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