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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 10:20

20. My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.

20. Tabernaculum meum vastatum est (vel, dirutum) et omnes funes mei rupti sunt; filii mei egressi sunt a me (particula ny tantundem valet ac mmny,) et nulli sunt (hoc est, nulli restant amplius:) nemo qui extendat amplius tabernaculum meum, et erigat (vel, disponat) cortinas meas.

This metaphor may have been taken from shepherds, and it seems suitable here; yet the prophets often compare the Church to a tent. Though indeed it is said elsewhere that the Church is built on the holy mountains, (Psalm 87:1) and great firmness is ascribed to it, yet, as to its external condition, it may justly be said to be like a tent, for there is no fixed residence for God's children on earth, for they are often constrained to ehange their place; and hence Paul speaks of the faithful as unsettled. (1 Corinthians 4:11.) But as, in the next verse, mention is made of shepherds, the Prophet seems here to refer to the tents of shepherds. Though indeed he takes hereafter the similitude more generally, or in a wider sense, yet there is no reason why he should not allude to the shepherds of whom he afterwards speaks, and yet retain the metaphor which so often occurs in all the prophets.

He then says that his tent was pulled down, and that all his cords were broken Some take the tent for the city of Jerusalem, but this is a strained view, and unsuitable. We have already said that the Prophet speaks here in the name of the whole people; and it is the same as though he compared the people to a man dwelling with his family in a tent. He adds, My children are gone forth from me The people then complain that they were deprived of all their children; nor was this all, but they were scattered here and there, which was worse than if they had been taken away by death. He afterwards says, And there is no one to extend my tent, and to set up my curtains Jeremiah shews that the people would be so bereaved as to have none to bring them any assistance, though in much want of it.

No one then thought that such a thing would take place, and Jeremiah was held in contempt, and some raged against him, and yet He shewed what would be. And that what he said might be more forcible, and produce a stronger effect, he speaks in their name, like a poet in a play, who describes a miser, and mentions things suitable to his character, making use of such words and actions, so that he cannot but see, as it were in a mirror, his own disposition and conduct. So also the Prophet does here; for when He saw that the stupid people could not be moved by the simple truth, he told them what they all ought to have felt in their liearts, and to have testified by their mouths, -- that they were solitary, deserted by all who belonged to them, and that there was no one to bring them any help. But he pursues, as we have said, the same metaphor. It follows --

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