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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 7:17-19

17. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

17. An non rvides tu quid ipsi faciant in urbibus Jehudah et in compitis Jerusalem?

18. The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

18. Filii colligunt ligna, et patres accendunt ignem, et mulieres ad ponendum ut faciant placentas Reginae coelorum, et fundant (libent) libamina diis alienis, ut me provocent ad iram.

19. Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?

19. An me ipsi ad iram provocant, dicit Jehova? an non seipsos ad erubescentiam facierum suarum?

Here God shews first why he ought to be implacable towards the people: for the command to the Prophet not to pray for them seems at the first hearing to be very severe; and it might have been objected and said, |What if they repent? Is there no hope of pardon?| God shews that they were past remedy -- How so? He says, Dost thou not see? Here he refers the examination of the cause to his servant Jeremiah; as though he had said, |There is no reason for thee to contend with me; open thine own eyes, and consider how they have fallen; for children gather wood, and fathers kindle the fire, and women knead dough.| Some render the last words, |Women are busy with the paste;| but literally, |they set the dough, |la paste God intimates here shortly, that the whole people were become corrupt, as though they had wickedly conspired together, so that men, women, and children, were all led away into idolatry as by a mad impulse; for he speaks here only of their superstitions. He had before charged them with adulteries, murders, and plunders; but he now condemns them for having wholly profaned God's worship, and at the same time shews the fruit of their impiety -- that they all strove to outdo one another by an insane rivalship.

The children, he says, gather wood He ascribes the collecting of wood to the young; for it was a more laborious work. As then that age excels in strength, they collected wood; and the fathers kindled the fire: the women, what did they do? They were busy with the meal. Thus no part was neglected. |What then is to be done? and what else can I do, but wholly to cut off a people so wicked?| Then he says, that they may make kvnym, cunim, which is translated |cakes, |and this is the most common rendering. Some think that kindling is meant, deriving the word from kvh, cue, which means to kindle. But I prefer the opinion of those who derive the word from kvn, cun, which is to prepare, as cakes are things prepared. I do not then doubt, but that cakes are meant here, as it appears also from other places. The second interpretation I regard as too refined.

With regard to the word lmlkt, lamelcath, many consider the letter ' left out, and think that |works| are intended. In this case m would be a servile: but others consider it a radical, and render the word, |Queen;| which appears to me probable; though I do not wholly reject what some hold that the workmanship of the heavens is here meant. Some understand the stars, others the sun, and others the moon: let every one enjoy his own opinion. However, I think, that if the workmanship of the heavens be meant, the whole celestial host is to be included, as the Scripture thus calls all the stars. But if |the Queen of the heavens| be adopted, then I am inclined to think that the moon is intended: and we know how much superstition has ever prevailed among most people as to the worship of the moon. Hence I approve of this meaning. Yet I readily admit that all the stars, not one only, may be here designated, and called the work or the workmanship of the heavens. And the Jews, we know, were very much given to this madness: for as the sun was considered by the Orientals as the supreme God, when the Jews became enamoured with this error, they also thought that some high and adorable divinity belonged to the sun: they turned also afterwards to the stars; and this absurdity is often referred to in the Law and also in the Prophets.

It is then added, That they may pour forth libations to foreign gods, to provoke me to wrath When God complains of being provoked, it is the same as though he had said, that the Jews now openly carried on war with him, -- |They sin not through ignorance, nor is it unknown to them how much they offend me by these profanations; but it is as it were their object and design to provoke me and to carry on war with me by these acts of impiety.|

He then subjoins, Do they provoke me, and not rather to the shame of their own faces? God here intimates, that however reproachfully the Jews acted towards him, they yet brought no loss to him, for he stood in no need of their worship. Why then does he so severely threaten them? Because he had their sins in view: but yet he shews that he cared not for them nor their sacrifices, for he could without any loss be without them. Hence he says, that they sought their own ruin, and whatever they devised would fall on their own heads. They seek to provoke me; they shall know with whom they have to do.| It is like what is said by the Prophet Zechariah, |They shall know whom they have pierced: I indeed continue uninjured; and though they provoke me as much as they can, I yet despise all their wickedness, for they cannot reach me; they can neither hurt me nor take anything from me.| But he says, they provoke themselves, that is, their fury shall return on their own heads; and hence it shall be, that their faces shall be ashamed.

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