8. For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.
8. Quoniam sic dicit Jehova exercituum, Deus Israel, Ne decipiant vos prophetae vestri, qui sunt in medio vestri, et divini vestri; et ne attendatis ad somnia vestra, quae vos somniatis.
As the minds of almost all were taken up, as we have seen, with that vain and false confidence which they had imbibed from false prophecies, that they should return after two years, the Prophet gives this answer, and reminds them to beware of such impostures. And thus we see that it is not sufficient for one simply to teach what is right, except he also restores from error those who have been already deceived or are in danger of being deceived. For to assert the truth is only one-half of the office of teaching, because Satan ever leads his ministers to corrupt the pure doctrine with falsehoods. It is not then enough to proclaim the truth itself, except all the fallacies of the devil be also dissipated, of which there is at this day a manifest instance under the Papacy; for as the minds of almost all are there inebriated with many corrupt inventions, were any one only to shew that this or that is right, he would certainly never in this way eradicate errors from the hearts of men. And hence Paul bids bishops not only to be furnished with doctrine in order to shew the right way to the teachable, but also to be so armed as to be able to resist adversaries and to close their mouths. (Titus 1:9.)
Inasmuch then as from the beginning of the world Satan has never ceased to try and attempt, as far as he could, to corrupt the truth of God, or to immerse it in darkness, it has hence been always necessary for God's servants to be prepared to do these two things -- faithfully to teach the meek and humble, -- and boldly to oppose the enemies of truth and break down their insolence. This is the rule which the Prophet now follows; he had exhorted the Jews to bear patiently the tyranny to which they were subject, because it was God's yoke; but as on the other hand the false prophets boasted that there would be a return in two years, it was necessary for him to oppose them; on this point then he now speaks.
And that what he was going to say might have more weight, he speaks again in God's name, Let not your prophets who are in the midst of you deceive you For while Jeremiah had many adversaries at Jerusalem, the devil was also deceiving the miserable exiles in Chaldea. He then warns them not to believe these impostors; and though by way of concession he calls them prophets who were wholly unworthy of so honorable a name, he yet by way of reproach gives them afterwards the name of diviners Then the first name refers to that outward profession in which they gloried, when they boasted that they were sent by God and brought his commands. He then conceded to them the name of prophets, but improperly, or as they say, catachristically; as the case is at this day; for we do not always fight about names, but we call those priests, bishops or prelates, who are so brutal that they ought not to be classed among men. In like manner, as it has already often appeared, the prophets spoke freely, and never hesitated to call those prophets who had already gained some estimation among the people. But that they might not be proud of such fallacious boasting, he afterwards designated them by another name; he called them diviners, and then dreamers; and afterwards he adds, Attend not to your dreams He addresses here the whole people; and there were a few who, under the color and pretense of having a prophetic spirit, announced prophecies.
But Jeremiah did not without reason transfer to the whole people what belonged to a few; for we know that the devil's ministers are cherished not only through the foolish credulity of men, but also through a depraved appetite. For the world is never deceived but willingly, and men, as though they were given up to their own destruction, seek for themselves falsehoods in every direction, and though unwilling to be deceived, they yet for the most part seek to be deceived. Were any one to ask, does the world wish to be deceived? all would cry out, from the least to the greatest, that they shun and fear nothing so much; and yet whence is it that as soon as Satan gives any sign, he attracts vast multitudes, except that we are by nature prone to what is false and vain? Then there is another evil, that we prefer darkness to light. Jeremiah then did no wrong to the people by telling them to beware of the dreams which, they dreamt.
Some indeed take mchlmym, mechelmim, in a transitive sense, as it is in Hiphil, and ought to have been written here mchlymym, mechelimim; but it may be taken in the neuter gender.
However this may be, the meaning of the Prophet is not ambiguous; for he imputes this to all the Jews, that they were deceived by vain dreams, and that the fault could not be confined to a few impostors, for it was an evil common to them all. And the pronoun 'tm, atere, is emphatical, ye, he says, dream; for he sets these false dreams in opposition to prophecies. We know that God formerly revealed his will either by visions or by dreams. There were then dreams, which were divine, of which God was the author. But he shews here that the people devised all these impostures for themselves, so that it availed them nothing to pretend that they were prophets, the interpreters of God, and that they announced what they had received by dreams; for what makes the difference is, whether one dreams from his own brain, or whether God reveals to him in a dream what ought to be deemed oracular. We now then understand the design of the Prophet. It follows, --