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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 17:13

13. O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.

13. Spes (vel, expectatio) lsrael Jehova, quicunque abs te discedunt (vel, qui te derelinquunt, zvvk; hoc verbo nuper fuerat usus de perdicibus loquens) pudefient; qui deficiunt a me in terra scribentur; quia dereliquerunt (idem est verbum) fontem aquarum viventium Jehovam.

It appears more clear from this verse why the Prophet had commended before the excellency of his own nation, even that by the comparison their impiety might appear less excusable; for the more bountiful God had dealt with them, the more atrocious was their sin of ingratitude. As then the Jews had been raised high, so that their elevation appeared eminent through the whole world, the more detestable became their contumacy against God, and also their ingratitude in rejecting and despising a favor so remarkable, when they forsook him and followed idols, vain hopes, and their own false counsels. It is the same as though the Prophet had said, -- |What does it avail you, that God dwells among you, and that the Temple is as it were his earthly habitation, where he converses familiarly with you? what benefit is this to you? for no one accepts of this favor; nay, we wilfully, and as it were designedly cast away from us this kindness which is freely offered to us.|

We hence see that all this ought to be read together, -- that the throne of God was in Judea, but that the people in the meantime malignantly and wickedly rejected the favor offered them.

But the Prophet turns to God, that he might rouse the Jews, for such was their perverseness that he in vain taught them. And he says, Jehovah, the expectation of Israel! whosoever forsake thee shall be made ashamed; as though he had said, -- |The ungodly multitude which accepts not the dignity by which our race excels all other nations, receives no benefit. God indeed dwells in the midst of us, but hardly one in a hundred cleaves to him; nay, almost all treacherously forsake him; but notwithstanding all their glory, they shall be made ashamed who thus reject the kindness of God.| The Prophet, in short, reminds the Jews how vainly and presumptuously they gloried, because God had adopted their race; for a reciprocity was required, so that they were to respond to God and receive his benefits. But when they perversely his favor, what could have remained for them?

Hence he says, Ashamed shall all they be made who forsake thee. By the word forsake, he intimates that the Jews had been favored by God; for this could not have been said in the same sense, and in an equal degree of the heafilens, as the heathens had never been gathered by God into one body; but the Jews alone had enjoyed this favor. When therefore he had manifested himself to them, and testified that he would be their Father, he was forsaken by them. This defection, of which the Jews alone were guilty, is noticed, because God had sought them for himself; he had also come to them, and made with them a covenant. As then they were thus brought nigh to God, this defection was the more execrable. This is what the Prophet means.

He now adds, And they who depart shall be written in the earth. Literally it is, |Who depart from me;| but the y, iod, at the end, as many think, is a servile letter. And some think that the word is a verb, and that the y, iod, at the beginning denotes the future tense, and they regard the y, iod, at the end to be for v, vau, ysvdv isuru, |Who depart.| Others suppose it to be a noun, and read ysvry isuri, for vsvrym vasurim As to the meaning, it is evident that the Prophet designed here to shake off from the Jews the vain glory with which they were inflated, when they boasted that they were the people of God, the holy race of Abraham, the royal priesthood; all these things he ridicules as vain, as though he had said, -- |Away with all these boastings, which are all false; ye are apostates, therefore your name shall be written in the earth.| No doubt, the earth here is set in opposition to heaven; and Scripture sometimes says, that the name of the wicked shall be a reproach on earth. But as they often acquire a celebrated and honorable name on earth, the Prophet makes a concession and says, |Be it so; let the world regard you as the holy race of Abraham, the blessed seed and the chosen people; let, in short, every one of you claim for himself whatever he pleases, but your name shall be on earth, and shall be blotted out from heaven; there will be no inheritance above for you, no portion in the kingdom of God.| He in short intimates, that the Jews would have no place before God and his angels, for they were unworthy that God shouhi regard them as his children, since they had wickedly denied him. He then grants them a name on earth; but it is the, same as though he had said, that they wickedly lied in boasting that they were a chosen people, since they themselves, as far as they could, obliterated the election of God.

He afterwards adds, Because they have forsaken Jehovah, the fountain of living waters. The Prophet confirms what he had said, lest the Jews should think that they were too severely rebuked, when he said that their name was blotted out from heaven: Ye have forsaken, he says, the fountain of living waters. |What does this mean? God (according to what is said in Jeremiah 2) manifested himself to you; is there not in him a full and sufficient happiness for you? What more can be sought for by a mortal man than to enjoy his God, in whom there is the fullness of all blessings? God has offered himself to you, and his bounty has ever been extended to you, as though he were a fountain from which you might draw enough to satisfy you; but ye have forsaken this fountain. You must therefore perish through thirst, and justly so, for your ingratitude has been so great as to despise these remarkable and invaluable favors of God.| It now follows --

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