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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 14:18

18. If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not.

18. Si exiero in agrum, ecce (copula enim redundat) occisi gladio; et si ingressus fuero in urbem, ecce dolentes fame (alii volunt esse nomen substantivum, dolores famis, vel, aegritudines;) quia tam propheta quam sacerdos circumeunt ad terram, et nesciunt (alii vertunt, quam nesciunt.)

He confirms the same thing in other words, not on account of the obscurity of what he had said, but because he knew that he was speaking to the deaf, or that such was their sloth, that they needed many goads. He says, in short, that there would be in the city no defense for the people to shield them from the punishment that was at hand, and that if they went into the fields the whole land would be covered with enemies, who would destroy them. This is the sum of the whole.

But he speaks as though he saw the event with his eyes, If I go out into the field, he says, their carcases meet me; for the enemy destroys with his drawn sword all who venture to go forth. Then he says, If I go into the city, there famine kins those whom the enemy has not reached. As he had said before, |Behold, all were east forth in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword.| But what he had said of the streets of Jerusalem he extends now to the fields; as though he had said, that there would be no place of rest to the Jews; for if they attempted to flee away, they met with the swords of enemies, and if they sought hiding -- places, the famine would meet them, so that they would perish without being destroyed by any enemy.

The prophet, he says, as well as the priest shall wander, shall go round to the land and know not Some explain the last part of the verse as though the Prophet had said, When both the prophets and the priests shall be driven into exile, after many wanderings, they shall not understand that exile is a punishment due to their sins. They therefore take the words, vl' ydv vela idou, and they shall not know, in a general sense, as though the Prophet here condemned that brutal blindness which possessed the minds of the people, nay, even of the priests, who did not consider that God punished them for their sins. Others explain the words more simply, -- that they would go round to the land, that is, that they would come to Chaldea by various windings and by long circuits, and would come to a land they knew not, that is, which was before unknown to them. But I know not whether this was the meaning of the Prophet. Certainly a third view seems more suitable to me, though it has none in its favor, that is, that the priests and prophets would go round to seek subterfuges, as they would be destitute of all means of escape, not knowing what to do; and they shall not know, that is, they shall find that a sound mind is by God taken from them, because they had demented others. Hence I doubt not but that the Prophet had especially denounced this punishment on the wicked priests and the false prophets, because they thought that they would have some way of escape; but they would be mistaken; for their own conceit would at length disappoint them; and when they thought of this and of that, God would bring to nothing their crafty ways. And they were worthy of such a punishment, because they had fascinated the wretched people with their lies; and we also know that they were proud of their own crafts and wiles. The Prophet therefore derides this false confidence and says, They shall go round through the land and shall not understand, that is, all their counsels and plans shall be, without any fruit or benefit, though they may be long in forming them. It follows --

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