28. Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, mine, or theirs.
28. Et qui evaserint e gladio re-vertentur e terra Aegypti in terram Jehudah pauci numero; et cognoscent omnes reliquiae Jehudah, quae ingressi sunt terram Aegypti, ut habitarent illic, sermo quis stabit a me, an ab ipsis.
He at length adds that a few would escape. He had said before, (Jeremiah 44:14) that there would be none, but added at the end of the verse, |but such as shall escape.| We said that this second clause is to be explained of the Jews who had been driven into exile in Babylon. But if it be applied to exiles in Egypt the meaning will be different. For the Prophet then said that none would escape, that none would remain alive: he thus doubtless took away every hope of deliverance with regard to those in Egypt. But he added, |but such as shall escape,| that is, such as should stealthily escape from the sword, as though they had never migrated into Egypt. And then in this different sense must necessarily be taken what the Prophet adds now, They who escape shall return But we must bear in mind that those remaining alive would not be numbered among the exiles, for they must have withdrawn themselves so as no longer to form a part of that people. They had before become fugitives, but when they departed from Egypt, that second flight made them to be no longer a residue in that land.
When, therefore, the Prophet declares that none of the residue would escape, we must understand the words as meaning, that there would be Jews no more in Egypt, as their memory would be obliterated. But when, in the second place, he mentions evaders, phlytym, pelithim, (the word which we have rendered, |They who shall escape,|) he means that those who escaped had now ceased to be counted among the residue, having in a manner of their own accord separated themselves from them, so that they were no longer to be reckoned among the fugitive exiles in Egypt. Then he says, that those who escape from the sword would return into the land of Judah; an event wholly different from what they looked for, for they expected to return to their own country in a triumphant manner. They intended indeed to dwell in Egypt only for a time; and they hoped to come afterwards into a free possession of the land, when the Chaldeans had gone far away. Thus they had promised to themselves a new kingdom, and were not disposed to return except in great pomp. As, then, such a restoration had been imagined by them, the Prophet says, that a few only would return into the land of Judah; and then that they would return, not to possess the land and enjoy it as their own inheritance, but that they would return, because there would be no safe corner where they might hide themselves. We hence see that this return is set up in opposition to the false imagination in which the Jews indulged; and he says that a few only would return.
And at length he adds, All the remnant of Judah who had entered into the land of Egypt, shall know whose word shall stand, mine, or theirs Here at length the sentence is completed, for I have said that it was the Prophet's object to convince the Jews of their foolish and impious presumption, when in their perverseness they contended against God, as though he had said, |What do you mean, ye wretched beings? Is the truth of God to give way, or can you frustrate his purpose by your madness and obstinacy? And surely God will prove stronger than you.| He now then fully explains his meaning. By saying, all shall know, he does not refer to true and sincere knowledge, but to experience, that is, they shall at length really find out whose word is firm, mine or theirs.
This passage deserves special attention; we hence learn that we ought to acquiesce in God's word, and wholly to receive it, and especially to beware of that diabolical obstinacy which the Prophet here condemns; for when we fight to the last, we must at the end necessarily fall; though we may a hundred times complain and clamor, yet God's word will stand firm and will never yield to us. It follows, --