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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 6:2-3

2. I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman

2. Quietae (alii vertunt, speciosam; sed alter sensus melius quadrat, quietae igitur) et delicatae similem feci filiam Sion.

3. The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place.

3. Super eam venient pastores et greges eorum, figent adversus eam tabernecula sua in circuitu; pascent vir ad manum suam (hoc est, quisque ad locum suum).

As the place, where the Prophet was born, was pastoral, he retained many expressions derived from his education; for God did not divest his servants of every natural endowment when he appointed them to teach his people. Hence the Prophet here speaks according to notions imbibed in his early age and childhood. The daughter of Sion, he says, is like a quiet maid, that is, one dwelling at leisure and enjoying herself; and yet she would be exposed to many indignities, for come shall shepherds, and around fix their tents; and the whole country would be subjected to plunder. But it is doubtful whether the Prophet says, that the daughter of Sion might be compared to a maid, tender and delicate, dwelling at ease and cheerful, or whether he means, that rest had been for a time granted to the people. There seems, indeed, to be no great difference, though there is some, between the two explanations.

If we take the verb, dmyty, damiti, in the sense of comparing, as interpreters do, then it is the same as though the Prophet had said, |I seem to see in the state of Jerusalem the image of a tender and delicate maid.| Thus Jeremiah speaks in his own name. But the sentence may be more fitly applied to God, -- that he had made the daughter of Sion quiet for a time, and had given her peace with her enemies, so that she lived at ease and cheerfully.

Though these two views differ, yet the subject itself is nearly the same. The Prophet, no doubt, condemns here the Jews for their extreme torpidity, inasmuch as they had wholly misapplied the quietness granted them by God. He then proves that they were very thoughtless and stupid in thinking that their tranquillity would be perpetual, for it was God's favor, and only for a time. Hence he says, that the Jews were until that very day like a tender maid. For though the country of the ten tribes had been laid waste, and all had been driven away into exile, yet the kingdom of Judah continued safe. They had, indeed, been plundered by enemies, but in comparison with their brethren they had been very kindly treated. This, then, is the reason, why he says that they were like a maid delicate and tender.

But he afterwards adds, Come shall shepherds, etc.; that is, there is no ground for the Jews to deceive themselves, because God has hitherto spared them, and restrained the assaults of enemies; for now shall come shepherds. He keeps to the same metaphor; |come, |he says, |shall shepherds, |together with their flocks; that is, come shall leaders of armies with their forces. But I have already reminded you, that the Prophet here has a regard to the city where he had been born, and adopts a pastoral language. Come then shall shepherds with their flocks; fix shall they their tents, and feed shall each in his place, he means that the whole of Jerusalem would be so much in the power of enemies, that each one would freely choose his own part or his own portion; for when there is any fear, then the shepherds gather their flocks, that they may assist one another; but when everything is in their own power, they move here and there as they please. This free acting then intimates, that the Jews would have no strength, and would be helped by no aid; but that the shepherds would surround the whole city and besiege it: every one, he says, would be in his own place. It follows --

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