6. For thus saith the LORD unto the king's house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.
6. Quoniam dicit Jehova super domum regis Jehudah, Guilead, tu mihi caput Libani, si non posuero to desertum, tanquam urbes quae non habitantur.
He confirms the preceding declaration, and explains more at large what had been stated sufficiently clear; for the false boasting of the Jews could hardly be restrained, as they still thought that the kingdom in the family of David would be permanent and exempt from any danger of a change.
But interpreters differ as to the meaning of the words. I will not repeat their views, nor is it necessary: I will only state what seems to me to be the real meaning. All others indeed give a different explanation; but the Prophet, I doubt not, means the same thing as we have observed in Jeremiah 7:12; where he says,
|Go to Shiloh, and see what is the state of that place, for the ark of the covenant had a long time dwelt there.|
Though, then, they thought that place sacred, yet it was reduced to desolation; and thus it must have become a dreadful spectacle to the whole people. For the same reason now, as it seems to me, the Prophet compares Lebanon to Mount Gilead; for what some say, that Gilead was the chief city of the ten tribes, has nothing in it. But we must remember the state of things at that time; the kingdom of Israel was wholly demolished when our Prophet spoke these words. Judea had indeed been much reduced by many calamities; but still some kind of a kingdom remained. Then by Mount Gilead the Prophet doubtless meant, by stating a part for the whole, the kingdom of Israel, but for a purpose different from that assigned by interpreters, even because the whole land of Israel was then laid waste; for all the inhabitants had been led into exile, and all the spoils had been removed, and nothing had escaped the rapacity and cruelty of their enemies.
Since, then, the land of Israel had been reduced unto desolation, God says now, that Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah would not be of greater value in his sight than the whole country of the ten tribes had been, which was doubtless larger in extent and in wealth. And this meaning may be easily gathered from the words of the passage; he does not say, |Thou art like Gilead the head of Lebanon;| but, Gilead to me art thou the head of Lebanon And he calls Jerusalem Lebanon, because it was, as it were, the queen of that land; for by Mount Lebanon he designated whatever was precious in that country, for the reason we mentioned yesterday. As to Gilead, I do not consider that the Prophet refers especially to the city, but by stating a part for the whole, he includes the whole country, and for this reason, because Mount Gilead was full of many fruitful trees, and particularly of the balsam and the rosin tree, and of many odoriferous herbs and aromatics, which at this day are from thence brought to different parts of the world. And hence we found it asked in Jeremiah 8:22,
|Is there no rosin in Gilead?
is there no medicine found there to heal the Church?|
Why was mention made then of Mount Gilead? even because there grew the best aromatics, and especially the balsam tree, and also many odoriferous trees and most precious fruits.
The meaning then is, |What dost thou think thyself to be? or, for what reason dost thou trust so much in thyself? I did not spare Mount Gilead and that extensive country which was much superior to thee; what means then this foolish presumption, that thou persuadest thyself that all danger is far off? Thou shalt be to me as Gilead. Think of my judgment on Mount Gilead, and of the dreadful desolation of the land of Israel; the same which you may now see there shall happen to thee.| We now perceive in what sense the Prophet says, that before God the head of Lebanon, that is, Jerusalem itself, which ruled over Lebanon, would become like Gilead
He then adds, If I make thee not a desert God again makes an oath; for it is, we know, an elliptical mode of expression, when the particle 'm, am, is only used, for an imprecation is to be understood, -- |Let me not be thought a God;| or, |Let my power be deemed nothing;| or, |Let me not be hereafter counted true and faithful.| However this may be, God makes an oath, that the city would become a desert, as those cities which are not inhabited Thus the whole context appears consistent, -- that Jerusalem would be at length like the land of Israel, for he would no more spare Lebanon than Mount Gilead. It afterwards follows: