6. For thus hath the Lord of hosts said, Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem: this is the city to be visited; she is wholly oppression in the midst of her.
6. Quia sic dicit Jehova exercituum, Excidite ligna et fundite super Jerusalem aggerem (alii vertunt, balistam; sed nomen aggeris hic melius convenit;) ipsa est urbs visitationis (hic variant interpretes, et quidem exercitati in lingua Hebraea sic depravant sensum ut piqeat referre quid ipsi ausi sunt scribere,) tota oppressio (vel, rapina; nam sqsignificat rapere, rapina ergo) in medio ejus.
The Prophet now points out the cause why a near calamity awaited both the city and the whole of Judea. Two things were necessary to be done: as the Jews had hardened themselves in their thoughtlessness, so that they disregarded all the threatenings of the prophets, it was necessary to expose and reprove this stupidity. This is what the Prophet has hitherto done. But the other thing needful to be done was, to make the Jews to know that they had not to do with the Chaldeans or other nations, but with God himself, with whom they had for a long time carried on war. The Prophet then, after having set before the eyes of his own kindred the calamity which was then nigh at hand, shews now that God was its author.
Thus saith Jehovah of hosts. He reminds them here of the judgment of God, lest they thought that they could overcome their enemies, even if they fought with the greatest ardor and the greatest courage, for they could not overcome God. Thus then saith the God of hosts; as though he had said, |The Chaldeans will indeed bring their forces, which shall be great and strong; but the contest will be now with God, whom ye have so often and for a long time and so pertinaciously provoked.| Thus then saith now the God of hosts, --
Cut ye down wood; that is, |The Chaldeans will not of themselves attack you, but they will fight for God, and serve him as hired soldiers.| As we have seen elsewhere that God blows the trumpet, and sends by a hiss for whomsoever he pleases; so also he says now that the Chaldeans would carry on war under the authority and banner of God. Command them then did God to cut down wood and to cast up a mound. We indeed know that warlike engines were made of timber, but the most suitable word here, as it is evident, is mound.
It follows, She is the city of visitation. Jeremiah shews here that God would justly act towards the Jews, though with much severity, because they had nearly become putrid in their vices; for this reason he calls it the city of visitation. They therefore who render the words, |that it may be laid waste, |or, |it is laid waste, |misconceive the meaning; and indeed they touch neither heaven nor earth, for they consider not the Prophet's design, but only dwell on the words. But it is certain, that Jerusalem is called the city of visitation, because God had exercised long patience and suspended punishment, until the ripened time of vengeance came, so that it could no longer be endured, inasmuch as it had become more and more corrupt through the forbearance of God. It is, he says, the city of visitation; that is, |The time of extreme vengeance is now come; for I have tried all means to see whether there was any hope of repentance; but I now find that she is wholly irreclaimable. She is then the city of visitation; its ruin cannot be suspended any longer.|
The Prophet obviates here, as I have already said, all those complaints which the Jews were ever ready to make; for they were wont to murmur when any severity appeared, and say, |God deals cruelly with us; where is his covenant? where is that paternal kindness which he has promised to us?| As then the Jews were wont thus to expostulate with God, the Prophet says that it was the city of visitation, and the whole of it, and not a part only. As then there was nothing pure in it, he says that it could no longer be spared: and he adds one kind of evil; but stating a part for the whole, he means (as it is said elsewhere, Jeremiah 7:11) that Jerusalem was a den of thieves: he therefore says that it was full of rapines, and that oppression was in its very bowels. It follows --