17. Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow.
17. Dices igitur (copula enim loco illativoe particuloe sumitur) ad eos verbum hoc, (hoc est, annunciabis illis hoc verbum) Deducent oculi mei lachrymam (vertunt alii, descendent oculi mei in lachrymam; Hebraicum nomen est singulare) nocte et die, et non quiescent; quoniam contritione magna contrita est virgo, filia populi mei, plaga aegra (vel, acerba) valde.
God shews here again how tardy, yea, how stupid the people were, whom no threatenings could induce to return to a right mind. When, therefore, they daringly neglected all threatenings, God bids a sad spectacle to be presented to them, justly calculated to fin them with fear and shame; he bids his Prophet to speak rims to them, |Behold, I shall be wholly dissolved into tears, and that on your account.| The Prophet, no doubt, wept sincerely when he saw his own people wilfully drawing upon themselves the wrath of God and their final dest, ruction; nor could he divest himself of his humane feelings: but he speaks not here only of his own solicitude, but God himself bids him thus to speak, in order that the Jews might be ashamed of their carelessness, as they ridiculed or despised, with dry eyes, the calamity which was nigh them, and the Prophet alone wept for them. We have spoken of this in the ninth chapter and in other places. There indeed the Prophet wished that his eyes were fountains of tears; but his object was, no doubt, not only to shew his concern for his own nation, but also thus to try whether they could be turned to repentance, their hardness being so great: and in this place the same thing is shewn still more clearly; for God bids the Prophet to weep, not in secret, but to declare this to the whole people, Behold, my eyes come down into tears, and there shall be no rest, no cessation.
We now perceive the design of the Holy Spirit; for as the obstinacy of the people was so great that they shed no tears, though God often terrified them with the most dreadful threatenings, it was necessary that this coming calamity should be set before their eyes, in the person of Jeremiah, as in a mirror, in order that they might at length learn to fear. Whenever such passages occur, let us remember that at this day also men are equally stupid, so that they ought not to be less sharply urged, and that, God in the gospel adds vehemence and sharp goads to the truth; for such is not only the sloth of our hearts, but also their hardness, that it is necessary to constrain those who will not suffer themselves to be drawn and led.
Some render the words, |Descend shall tears from mine eyes;| but more correct is the other version, |Mine eyes shall descend into, tears,| as v, beth, is to be prefixed to dmh damoe, or l lamed; and it is added, night and day, because the daughter of my people is broken with a great breaJeremiah As yet the Jews were indeed existing as a nation; but the Prophet gives here a striking representation, as though the scene was present, that they might know that a sudden destruction was at hand, though they as yet trusted in their own auxiliaries; nor indeed could they have been led to fear God in any degree until, their quietness was disturbed.
He calls them the virgin daughter of his people, not for honor's sake, but because God had hitherto spared the Jews. Virgin is sometimes taken in a good sense; for God, when speaking of the holy marriage, by which he had bound the Jews to himself, compares his people to a virgin. But the daughter of Babylon is also often called a virgin, because the Chaldeans, through long peace, had accustomed themselves to delicacies. So also in this place the Prophet, by way of concession, says that his own nation were soft and tender, because they had been borne with through the indulgence of God. But as in war virgins are exposed to violations, and the lust of men rages without shame and beyond all limits, so God intended here to set forth the fierceness of his vengeance; as though he had said, |Now indeed ye are tender and delicate young women, but in a short time your condition will be changed; nor is there any reason why the constant happiness which ye have hitherto enjoyed should deceive you.|
And for the same purpose he adds, that the smiting would be very bitter It was indeed necessary by many words to exaggerate that vengeance, of which the people made no account. It now follows --