14. Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the Lord our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the Lord.
14. Ut quid nos sedemus? congregate vos, et ingrediamur urbes munitas (urbes munitionis, ad verbum,) et quiescamus illic: certe Jehova Deus noster silere nos (vel, quiescere nos) fecit, et potavit nos a quis venenatis (vel, aquis fellis; nam r's, significat fel et venenum;) quia impie egimus contra Jehovam.
This verse, and those which follow, are explained in different ways; but I will briefly shew the meaning of the Prophet. I have no doubt but that he speaks here in the name of the whole people. The Prophet, then, in these words, represents what occupied their minds, and the counsels which the Jews adopted: and further, there is no doubt but that he shews in these words that they, as hypocrites are wont to do, had recourse to expedients, by which they thought they could protect themselves from God's wrath. For they who think that the Prophet spoke his own sentiments are greatly mistaken: on the contrary, he relates here the purposes which the Jews formed; and at the same time he reproves their hardness in turning here and there, and in thinking that they could turn aside the judgment of God; for hypocrites, unless constrained, never ascend to the first cause; that is, they never acknowledge nor regard the hand of him who strikes them, as it is said in another place. (Isaiah 9:13.) They indeed feel their evils, and seek to apply remedies; but they stop at the nearest reliefs, without seeking to pacify God and to return into favor with him; and when the smallest hope is given them, they think themselves to be safe, if they betake themselves to this or that hiding-place.
This feeling is what the Prophet describes: Why do we sit? or, |Why do we rest?| But the word here means to sit still: Why do we then sit still? as though they had accused themselves of sloth or idleness: |What means this our slothfulness? we sit still in the villages, which are exposed to the violence of enemies: gather then yourselves, and let us enter into fortified cities; we shall rest there.| They thought that they should be safe, if they entered into fortified cities. Then, on the other hand, Jeremiah shews how foolishly they trusted to such refuges. Surely, he says, our God hath made us silent He had said before vndmh-sm, vanudame-shem, |and we shall there rest.| The verb, means to rest, and to be silent. He repeats the same word, |Surely, our God hath made us to be silent;| but in a different sense. There is then a striking allusion in the verb dmh, dame, or the sameness of sound. |Jehovah hath made us to be silent, |or to rest; or, he hath cut us off, for in Hiphil, it has this meaning.
We hence see, that on the one hand is declared what might have given some comfort to the Jews, for there were fortified cities which might have protected them from the assaults of enemies; but, on the other hand, the Prophet shews that they were greatly mistaken, for God would make them to rest in a different manner, as he would reduce them to nothing; for the dead are said to rest, or to be silent. In short, he means a quiet state when speaking in the name of the people; but he refers to destruction when speaking by God's command.
He afterwards confirms the same thing in a metaphorical language, God will give them the waters of gall, or, poisoned waters: and he adds, Because they have acted impiously against Jehovah We may learn from this last part, that the Prophet is now performing the duty of his office. The people indeed never willingly allowed that they were suffering punishment justly due to their sins; but the Prophet here reproves them for hoping to be safe by fleeing to fortified cities, as though God could not follow them there. He then says that God's vengeance would closely pursue them, and that wherever they fled, they would still be exposed to evils, for they carried with them their impieties, which would draw upon them the wrath of God. It follows --