23. And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandest them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them:
23. Et ingressi sunt, et haereditate adepti sunt cam; et non audierunt vocem tuam (ad verbum, in voce tua) et in lege tua non ambulaverunt (hoc est, secundum legera tuam) quaecunque illis praecepisti ut facerent, non fecerunt; ideo occurrere fecisti illis malum hoc.
The Prophet in this verse confesses that. God's vengeance was just, when the people were cast out of the land and driven into exile, because they, after having entered into the land, did not obey the voice of God. The very sight of the land ought to have made the people obedient to God; for they could not have eaten a crumb of bread, without being always reminded whence their food came, even because God had expelled the Gentiles from that land. When, therefore, they were filled with all kinds of good things, and at the same time despised God, no excuse could have been pretended; for if they made ignorance their pretense, the very land itself was before their eyes, which recalled them to the fear of God. This, then, is the reason why the Prophet joins those two things together, that the Israelites entered into the land, and that they disobeyed the voice of God
Now, by this clause he intimates that they had not fallen through ignorance, because God had sufficiently made known his will. God had indeed spoken, but it was to the deaf. The Prophet then here shews that there was no other cause for the sin of the people, but that they obstinately refused to attend to the voice of God.
Then he adds for the same purpose, that they had not walked in his Law The Law is often compared to a way; for except God prescribes to us what his will is, and regulates all the actions of our life according to a certain rule, we should be perpetually going astray. God's Law, then, is justly said to be like a way, according to what Moses also speaks,
|This is the way, walk ye in it.|
(Deuteronomy 5:33; see also Isaiah 30:21)
Then Jeremiah, after having shewn that the people had been taught, mentions this, -- that the way had been made known to them, so that they went astray knowingly and wilfully; for they could not have turned aside either to the right hand or to the left without being called back by the doctrine of the Law.
He says, in the third place, What thou hast commanded them to do they did not He explains here the same thing more clearly and without any figurative expression, even that they had been unwilling to obey God, while yet they sufficiently understood what was right; for the Law suffered them not to go astray, and God had included in it everything necessary to be known. The Prophet then shews that they had not turned aside except through perverseness, because they knew what God required. As a certain Lacedaemonian said, that the Athenians knew what was right, but were unwilling to do it; so the Prophet in this place distinguishes the open impiety and contempt of the people from ignorance and inadvertence, and does not mean that the people did not satisfy all the precepts of the Law.
And this passage also Jerome explains very absurdly; for he says that the Israelites did not stand to their promises, because they had said that they would do whatever God commanded. But the Prophet here does not condemn them as to one thing only, as though he had said that there had been some defect, but he says that they had been wholly disobedient, for they had not despised only one precept of the Law, but had as it were designedly cast aside the whole Law, and obeyed none of God's commandments. Then this negative sets forth the defection of the people as to the whole law, and as to every precept of it.
And this passage is worthy of special notice, because the Prophet advisedly repeats the same thing, -- that the people had not walked in the Law, -- that they had not obeyed the voice of God, -- that they had done nothing of what had been commanded; for a heavier condemnation and vengeance await those who have been faithfully taught what pleases God and what is right, and yet follow their own will, and are carried away by the passions and lusts of the flesh. In a word, Jeremiah points out the highest pitch of impiety, that is, when people clearly and familiarly know what the will of God is, and yet disregard it and shake off the yoke, and thus shew manifestly a contempt for the whole Law.
It follows, Therefore thou hast made to come on them all this evil The Prophet here testifies that whatever had happened to the people, was not by chance, but that a reward was rendered to their sins. Men in some measure acknowledge God's judgments, but this acknowledgment presently vanishes. Wisely then does the Prophet here shew that God's vengeance is evident in adversities, and that the people thus received the reward which they had deserved. It now follows, --