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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 46:16

16. He made many to fall, yea, one fell upon another: and they said, Arise, and let us go again to our own people, and to the land of our nativity, from the oppressing sword.

16. Multiplicavit, impingent, etiam cecidit quisque in socium suum; et dixerunt, surge et revertamur ad populum nostrum, et ad terram nativitatis nostrae a facie gladii populantis.

Brevity of expression renders this sentence obscure or ambiguous. The verb hrvh, erebe, is put without a nominative case; but it is to be applied to God. God, then, has multiplied. And then there is a change of number, for the singular is to be taken as a plural when he says, he falls, kvsl, cushil: the meaning is, that many would stumble, because God would drive them, as it was said in the last verse. Hence comes what immediately follows, Even fall shall every one on his friend, that is, before the enemy smote them; by crowding together they would of themselves dash one against another, so that each would fall by the pushing of his associate.

He afterwards adds, And they shall say, Rise Here he speaks not of natives. Some think that the reference is to foreigners, who had come into Egypt on account of the fruitfulness of the land; for a dwelling in Egypt, which we know was very fertile and full of all abundance, was especially advantageous to them. As, then, Egypt had in it many strangers and sojourners, some interpreters think that the Prophet here speaks of them, as though he had said, |They who came into Egypt, to live well there through the affluence of all good things, shall find nothing better for them than to flee away:| They shall then say, Rise; that is, every one will exhort one another, and say, Let us go into the land of our nativity, that is, |Let us be satisfied with our own native soil; for the very richness of Egypt will prove fatal to us if we remain in it.| But I rather think that the Prophet refers to the hired soldiers. We saw yesterday that when Pharaoh carried on war on the banks of Euphrates, he had with him Ethiopians, and Lydians, and many from Libya, and we shall see again presently that there were hired soldiers in Egypt when Nebuchadnezzar conquered it. It was then very suitable for the Prophet to mention these foreign soldiers whom Pharaoh had hired; for at the beginning of the verse he said, Every one shall stumble on his neighbor, and then it follows, And they shall say, Let us return to our own people and to the land of our nativity When he says, Every one shall stumble on his neighbor, he means, no doubt, those valiant men, called to defend Egypt; of the same also he speaks when he says, Rise, let us return to the land of our nativity.

He says, From the face of the devastating sword. The word hyvnh, eiune, is derived by some from yyn, iin, wine; and they give this explanation, |from the inebriated sword.| Jerome renders the word |Dove,| but without reason. He then calls the sword wasting or destroying, which had already been inebriated with much blood, and which had done many slaughters. By the sword, he means that of the soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar. Some render the words, |saddening sword,| but this rendering appears to me unmeaning. They then say, |As we have been already broken down, and see our enemies committing slaughters with impunity, and kill all who meet them, nothing is better for us than to return to our own land.| It follows, --

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