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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 13:27

27. I have seen thy adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?

27. Adulteria tua et hinnitus tuos, cogitationem scortationis tuae super montes in agro vidi, abominationes tuas: vae tibi Jerusalem; non mundaberis posthac? quousque adhuc?

Here the Prophet explains at large what I have before stated, -- that the people were justly punished by God, though very grievously, because they had provoked God, not at one time only, but for a long time, and had obstinately persisted in their evil courses. Moreover, as their sins were various, the Prophet does not mention them all here; for we have seen elsewhere, that they were not only given to superstitions, but also to whoredoms, drunkenness, plunders, and outrages; but here he only speaks of their superstitions, -- that having rejected God, they followed their own idols. For by adulteries he no doubt means idolatries; and he does not speak here of whoredom, which yet prevailed greatly among the people; but he only condemns them for having fallen away into ungodly and false forms of worship. To the same thing must be referred what follows, thy neighings; for by this comparison, we know, is set forth elsewhere, by way of reproach, that furious ardor with which the Jews followed their own inventions. The word indeed sometimes means exultation; for the verb tshl, tsel, is to exult; but here, as in Jeremiah 5 it signifies neighing.

He then says, Thy adulteries and thy neighings, etc. Now this is far more shameful than if he had said thy lusts, for by this comparison we know their crime was enhanced, because they were not merely inflamed by a violent natural lust, such as adulterers feel towards strumpets, but they were like horses or bulls: Thy adulteries then and thy neighings; and he adds, the thought of thy whoredom, etc. The word zmt, zamet, is to be taken here for thought, and this is its proper meaning. It is indeed taken sometimes in a bad sense; but the Prophet, I have no doubt, meant here to wipe off a color with which the Jews painted themselves; for they said that they intended to worship God, while they accumulated rites which were not. prescribed in the law. The Prophet therefore condemns them here as being within full of unchastity, as though he had said, |I do not only accuse you of open acts of wickedness, but ye burn also within with lust, for impiety has taken such hold on all your thoughts, that God has no place at all in you; ye are like an unchaste woman, who thinks of nothing but of her filthy lovers, and goes after her adulterers: ye are thus wholly given up to your whoredoms.

Some read the words by themselves and put them in the nominative case, |Thy adulteries and thy neighings, and the thought of thy whoredom on the mountains;| and then they add, |In the field have I seen thine abominations.| But I prefer to take the whole together, and thus to include all as being governed by the verb r'yty, I have seen; |Thy adulteries and thy neighings, the thought of thy whoredom on the mountains in the field have I seen, even thy abominations.| The last word is to be taken in apposition with the former words. But the Prophet introduces God here as the speaker, that the Jews might not seek evasions and excuse themselves. He therefore shews that God, whose proper office it is to examine and search the hearts of men, is the fit Judge.

He mentions hills and field. Altars, we know, were then built on hills, for they thought that God would be better worshipped in groves; and hence there was no place, no wood, and even no tree, but that they imagined there was something divine in it. This is the reason why the Prophet says, that their abominations were seen by God on the hills as well as on the plains. And he adds fields, as though he had said, that the hills did not suffice them for their false worship, by which they profaned the true worship of God, but that the level fields were filled with their abominations.

We now then perceive the meaning of what is here said, that the Jews in vain tried to escape by evasions, since God declares that he had seen them; as though he had said, |Cease to produce your excuses, for I will allow nothing of what ye may bring forward, as the whole is already well known by me.| And he declares their doings to be abominations, and also adulteries and neighings.

At length he adds, Woe to thee, Jerusalem! The Prophet here confirms what we have before observed, that the Jews had no just ground of complaint, for they had provoked God extremely. Hence the particle woe intimates that they were now justly given up to destruction. And then he says, Will they never repent? But this last part is variously explained; and I know not whether it can today be fully expounded. I will however briefly glance at the meaning.

Jerome seems to have read 'chry, achri, |after me,| |Wilt thou not then return after me?| as though God here intended to exhort the Jews to return at length to him, as he was ready to be reconciled to them. But as it is simply 'chry, achri, and he may have read without the points, I do not wish to depart from what is commonly received. There is further a difficulty in the words which follow, for interpreters vary as to the import of the words mty d, mati od, |how long yet?| In whatever sense we may take the words, they are sufficient to confute the opinion of Jerome, which I had forgotten to mention, because the malediction in that case would be improper and without meaning, |Woe to thee, Jerusalem, wilt thou not be made clean after me?| for what can this mean? It is therefore necessary so to read as to include all the words in the sentence, |Wilt thou not hereafter or at length be made clean?| Some, however, read the words affirmatively, |Thou shalt not be cleansed hereafter,| as though it was said, |Thou shalt not be cleansed until I first drive thee into exile.| But this meaning is too refined, as I think. I therefore take the words in their simple form, Wilt thou not at length be made clean? how long yet? as though God again reproved the hardness of the people, as indeed he did reprove it. Hence he says, |Wilt thou not at length be made clean?| for I take 'chry, achri, as meaning |at length.| Then follows an amplification, mtyd, mati od, |how long yet?| that is, |Wilt thou never make an end? and can I not at length obtain this from thee, since I have so often exhorted thee, and since thou seest that I make no end of exhorting thee? how long yet shall thy obstinacy continue, so that I cannot subdue thee by my salutary admonitions?| This is the meaning.

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