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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 19:7

7. And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.

7. Et exinaniam consilium Jehudah et Jerusalem in loco hoc, et prosternam eos in gladio coram inimicis ipsorum, et in manu quaerentium animam eorum, et ponam (dabo) cadaver eorum in cibum volucri coeli (hoc est, avibus coeli, est enallage) et bestiae (hoc est, bestiis) terrae.

This amplification further exasperated the minds of the people, -- that they in vain trusted that this place would be to them a fortress. For, as we have already stated, they had persuaded themselves that it was abundantly sufficient to reconcile them with God, when they spared not their own children, and so zealously performed tlheir acts of worship. And hypocrites are commonly inflated with this presumption, for they prefer what pleases them to what pleases God; they regard not what the law bids, what God approves, but they adore their own inventions. Since then almost all the superstitious are filled with such a presumption, God here rightly declares, that he would make void their counsels

It is indeed certain that there is neither wisdom nor counsel in deluded men, while they thus devise new and frivolous modes of worship, for these are sheer mummeries. But we ought to observe what Paul says in Colossians 2:23, that all the fictions which men devise for themselves have in them some appearance of wisdom; for we know that wherever our imagination may carry us, we think ourselves wise, and that whatever God prescribes becomes insipid to us. Then the Prophet concedes |counsel,| though improperly, to frivolous and vain inventions, but not without reason, for experience teaches us sufficiently, that men ever take great delight in their superstitions, for they wish to subject God as it were to their own will. He then says, by way of concession, that the counsels of the whole people, especially of the city Jerusalem, would be made void, which was above others the teacher of errors, while yet the doctrine of the law ought especially to have prevailed there. And it may be also that there is an allusion to that word vqvq bekbek, which we have before seen, and which the Prophet will repeat again, for it means to make void or empty, though some think it to be a factitious word, because the sound, bekbek, is produced while the bottle is emptied. However this may be, the allusion is still sufficiently striking.

He afterwards adds, And I will lay them prostrate by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. In this second part, the Prophet intimates that the hatred entertained by their enemies towards the Jews would not be common. Wars are carried on sometimes in such a way, that the conquerors are satisfied with the spoils; but the Prophet intimates, that the cruelty of their enemies would be such, that they would seek the life of the whole people, and delight in slaughter; as though he had said, that they would be deadly enemies and altogether implacable. He will again repeat these words, and in the same sense.

He then adds, I will give your carcase to be meat to the birds of heaven, and to the beasts of the field We have said elsewhere that it is deemed a punishment inflicted by heaven when the carcases of the dead remain unburied; for it is the last office of humanity to bury the dead. And this is a distinction which God would have to be between men and brute animals, for animals have not the honor of a burial. It has also been ever granted as a singular privilege to men to be buried, in order to set forth the hope of resurrection. When, therefore, a burial is denied, it is a proof of extreme dishonor. It has indeed often happened that the saints have been without a burial; but temporal punishment is ever turned to salvation to God's children. As to the reprobate it must be deemed a judgment from God, when he casts away their carcases, as then there is no difference between them and animals. But I have treated this subject more fully elsewhere, and I shall not proceed with it now. It follows --

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