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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 6:22-23

22. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth.

22. Sic dicit Jehovah, Ecce populus veniet e terra Aquilonis, et gens magna excitabitur e lateribus terrae:

23. They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.

23. Arcum et hastam (alii vertunt, clypeum) apprehendent; crudeles erunt et non parcent; vox eorum quasi mare tumultuabitur, et super equos ascendent; erunt dispositi sicuti vir ad proelium, super to, filia Sion.

It was no useless repetition when the Prophet said so often that God said. He might have said only, |Behold, a nation shall come from the north;| but he premises by saying that he derived this message from God, and not only so, but he introduces God as the speaker, that his message might be more impressive. In the former verse he had also said, Thus saith Jehovah, and elsewhere: but he now repeats the same words, that the holy name of God might more powerfully rouse their minds.

Behold, he says, a people shall come from the land of the north For forty years Jeremiah ceased not to proclaim war against the Jews, and also openly to name their enemies: we yet see that so much preaching was without fruit. This was dreadful indeed: but we may thus see, as it were in a mirror, how great is our hardness and stupor, and how great is our fury and madness against God. He then designates here the Chaldeans as a northern nation, and says that it was a great nation: and yet he shews, that the Chaldeans would not of themselves come; it shall be roused, he says. This act is to be applied to God; for though ambition and avarice impelled the Chaldeans to lay waste nations and lands far and wide, yet that war was carried on under the guidance of God himself: he armed and impelled the Chaldeans, and used them as the scourges of his wrath. We may learn this from the verb yvr, iour, |shall be roused;| and he says, from the sides of the earth, for they came from a distant country. But the Prophet means, that there would be nothing to hinder the Chaldeans from entering Judea, and from destroying and putting to flight the people, and from demolishing the city and the temple.

He adds other particulars, in order more fully to render the Chaldeans objects of dread: They shall lay hold, he says, on the bow and the lance They who render the last word shield, do not sufficiently attend to the design of the Prophet. For there is no mention here made of defense; but it is the same as though the Prophet had said, that they would come furnished with bows and spears, that they might shoot at a distance. The word kydvn, kidun, means a spear and a lance; and it means also a shield: but in this place the Prophet, I doubt not, means a spear; as though he had said, |They will strike at a distance, or near at hand.|

He afterwards adds, that they would be cruel, according to what Isaiah says, when he speaks of the Persians and Medes,

|They will covet neither gold nor silver,| (Isaiah 13:17)

and yet they were a rapacious people. This is indeed true; but the Prophet meant both these things, that as the Persians and Medes were to be the executioners of divine vengeance, they would come with a new disposition and character, despising gold and silver, and other kinds of spoil, and seeking only blood. And they will shew, he says, no mercy; and then he adds, their voice shall make an uproar, or sound, like the sea He touches, I have no doubt, on the stupor of the people in not attending to the voice of God; for the teaching of Jeremiah had for many years sounded in their ears: Isaiah and others had preceded him; but the people had continued deaf. He says now, |Ye shall hereafter hear other teachers; they will not warn you, nor give you counsel, nor be satisfied with reproofs and threatenings, but they will come like a tempest on the sea; their voice shall make an uproar |

He adds, Ascend shall they on horses, and be set in order as a man for war; that is, |Thou, Jerusalem, shalt find that thou wilt have to do with military men.| The Prophet means, in short, that the Jews most foolishly trusted in their own strength, and thus heedlessly despised the threatenings of the prophets. But as their security was of this kind, he says that they would at length really find out how stupid they had been, for the Chaldeans would come with dreadful violence, prepared for war -- against whom? Against thee, he says, O daughter of Sion I cannot proceed further, on account of some other business.

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