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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 3 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 27:8

8. And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.

8. Erit autem ut gens et regnum, quae non servierint ei, nempe Nebuchadnezer regi Babylonis, et qui non posuerit collum suum sub jugo regis Babylonis, gladio et fame et peste visitabo super gentem illam, dicit Jehova, donec interfecero ipsos in manu ejus.

After having promulgated his decree by the mouth of Jeremiah, God now adds a threatening, in order that the Jews as well as others might willingly, and with resigned and humble minds, undertake the yoke laid on them. The Prophet, indeed, as we have said, had the Jews more especially in view; but he extended, as it were by accident, his prediction to aliens. We hence see why this denunciation of punishment was added. It ought, indeed, to have been enough to say, that Nebuchadnezzar was God's servant to subdue Judea; but as it was a hard thing for the Jews to receive that enemy, nor could they be induced to submit to him, it became necessary to add this threatening, |See what ye do, for ye cannot be stronger than God.| This threatening is indeed included in the former verse; but we know how tardy men are to learn, especially when any false impression has preoccupied their minds. As, then, the Jews refused the authority of Nebuchadnezzar, though the Prophet had testified to them that he was God's servant, they would not have hesitated still to evade and to be refractory, had not their hardness and obduracy been broken by this commination.

And it shall be, that the nation and kingdom, which will not serve him, even Nebuchadnezzar, and not put their neck under his yoke, it shall be, that I shall visit that nation, etc. God speaks without distinction of all nations; but the Jews ought to have reasoned from the less to the greater; for if God would so severely punish the pride of the Gentiles, in case they withdrew themselves from under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, how much heavier and more dreadful vengeance ought the Jews to have dreaded, who had been warned by the Prophet, and who doubtless knew that this happened not to them by chance, but that it was God's righteous judgment, by which their sins were punished? Were they obstinately to attempt to shake off the yoke from their neck, would not this have been to fight against God? We now, then, perceive that the Prophet spoke thus indiscriminately of all nations, that he might sharply rebuke the Jews; and he showed that their ferocity would be inexcusable were they not willingly to humble themselves.

By mentioning twice, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, he seems to imply something important; for they might have objected and said, |What have we to do with a king so distant? and by what right does he now invade our countries? why is he not content with his own burdens? why does he not abide in his own city and in his own land?| And the name of Babylon was at the same time hateful, for they had carried on war with many nations, and reduced the Assyrians under their yoke, who were neighbors to the Jews, and the Assyrians were also in a manner connected with them; and their name was no doubt abhorred by the Jews, on account of the wars perpetually carried on by them. Hence God meets here these objections, and shows that however odious Babylon might be to the Jews, and that however remote Nebuchadnezzar might be from Judea, yet his yoke was to be borne, as it had been so appointed by God. This seems to me to be the reason why Jeremiah repeated the words, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon

There is also a denunciation of punishment, that God would visit with pestilence, famine, and the sword We know that these words are commonly mentioned in Scripture, when it is God's purpose to set forth the signs of his wrath. He has indeed various and innumerable ways by which he chastises us; but these are his most remarkable and most known scourges, the pestilence, the sword, and the famine. He then says, that he would visit the nations who would not obey King Nebuchadnezzar with these three scourges; and at the same time he shews what the end would be, until I slay, or consume them by his hand He not only threatens them with pestilence, famine, and the sword, but he also shows that the end would be such, that the nations who might at first obstinately resist, would yet be constrained to undertake the yoke, and to acknowledge Nebuchadnezzar as their king and master. This is the reason why he says, by his hand

Death might have seemed lighter, if only they could have escaped the tyranny of Nebuchadnezzar; but since both would happen to them, even to be consumed by famine, the sword, and the pestilence, and yet not to be able to escape bondage, it was a miserable prospect indeed. We now then perceive why God speaks of the hand of the King Nebuchadnezzar; it was, that the Jews might know that they could effect nothing by seeking means to escape, for they would at length, willing or unwilling, be brought under the hand and under the yoke of this king.

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