18. Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.
18. Sic dicit Jehova, Ecce ego reducens captivitatem tabernaculorum Jacob et habitaculorum ejus miserabor; et adificabitur urbs super excelsum suum (vel, super acervum suum; vel, culmen) et palatium in sua statione (vel, regula) sedebit.
Jeremiah goes on with the same subject, and dwells on it more at large; for as it was difficult to lead the people seriously to repent, so it was difficult to raise up desponding minds after they had been subjected to a multitude of calamities. God then declares here again that he would come to restore his people from captivity.
Behold, he says, I restore, etc., as though he was already prepared with an outstretched hand to liberate his people. Let it be noticed, that the Prophet did not in vain represent God as present; but he, no doubt, had regard to the want of faith in the people, and sought to remove this defect. Since then the Jews thought themselves wholly forsaken, the Prophet testifies that God would be present with them, and he introduces him as speaking, Behold, I restore, etc., as though he was already the liberator of the people. He names the restoration of tents and habitations, because they had been long sojourners in Chaldea and other countries, where they had been scattered. As then they had their own dwellings, the Prophet reminds them that they were yet but strangers among the nations, for God would restore them to their own country, which was their real dwelling-place. This is the reason why he speaks of tents and habitations. He, at the same time, points out the cause of their redemption, even mercy, so that the Jews might at length learn to flee to this their sole asylum, and know that there was no other remedy for their calamities than this, -- that God should look on them according to his mercy, for he might have justly destroyed them altogether. In short, the Prophet reminds them that they must have perished for ever, had not God at length shewed mercy to them.
He mentions a fuller display of his favor, -- that he would again build Jerusalem upon its own heap, or hill, as some render it; for the situation of the city was high, and towered above other parts of Judea. But it seems to me that the Prophet means that the city would be built on its own foundations, for he calls here the ruins heaps, or piles. For the city had been destroyed in such a manner, that yet some ruins remained, and some vestiges of the walls. It is then the same as though he had said, that the city, however splendid and wealthy in former times, would yet be so restored, that its dignity would not be less than before. But he speaks of its extent when he says, that it would be built upon its heaps, that is, on its ancient foundations.
And this point is confirmed by what immediately follows, the palace shall be set in its own form or station, l msphtv al meshephthu. The word spht shepheth, properly means judgment, but it means also form, measure, manner, custom. Here, no doubt, the Prophet means that the king's palace would be equally splendid to what it had been, and in the same place. Some think that 'rmvn armun, means the Temple; and this sense I do not reject; but as the Hebrews for the most part understand by this term a splendid, large, or high building, I prefer the former sense, that is, that he speaks of the royal palace: stand then will the king's palace in its own form or place, as though it had never been destroyed. In short, he promises such a restoration of the city and kingdom, that no less favor from God was to be expected in the second state of the Church, than it had formerly; for God would obliterate all memory of calamities when the Church again flourished, and the kingdom became so eminent in wealth, honor, power, and other excellencies, that it would evidently appear that God had only for a time been displeased with his Church.