4. And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.
4. Et ponam eos in commotionem omnibus regnis terrae propter Manasse, filium Ezechiae, regem Jehudah, (vel, regis Jehudah, parum interest,) propter ea quae fecit in Jerusalem.
Jeremiah speaks now of exile. He had hitherto spoken of the sword and famine, and mentioned also other punishments, that their carcases would be dragged about by dogs, and also devoured by wild beasts and ravenous birds; but he now refers to one kind of punishment only -- that God would drive them into exile. And he seems to have taken these words from Moses, for so he speaks in Deuteronomy 28, except that v, vau, is placed before , ain, in the word |commotion,| but such a change is common. In other respects there is a perfect agreement.
I will set them, he says, for a commotion to all the kingdoms of the earth; that is, I will cause them to wander in constant fear and trembling. He amplifies the grievousness of exile by the circumstance that they should have no safe rest. They who leave their country for exile do at least find some corner where they take breath; but God declares that the Jews would be everywhere unsettled and wanderers, so that no place would receive them. And hence God's vengeance became more fully manifest, for these miserable men never found an asylum when scattered through various countries. Though they had habitations in those parts allotted to them by the king of Babylon, they were yet everywhere without any rest. It was not therefore in vain that Moses threatened them with such a punishment, nor was it to no purpose that Jeremiah repeated what had been said by Moses.
He adds the cause, On account of Manasseh But Manasseh was now dead, why then did God transfer the vengeance which he merited to posterity? And this seems inconsistent with another passage found in Ezekiel,
|The soul that sinneth it shall die.| (Ezekiel 18:8)
But doubtless God justly punished the wickedness of the people even after the death of that ungodly king, for they ceased not to accumulate evils on evils; as however their impiety appeared especially at that time, he particularly noticed it, that the Jews might understand that they had been long worthy of destruction, and that punishment was not delayed except through the great mercy of God, who had not immediately treated them as they deserved. The Prophet therefore commends the long forbearance of God because their ruin was suspended until that time. And, on the other hand, he shews that they were not so severely treated but that they were worthy of greater and more atrocious punishment; for such had been their obstinacy that they did all they could to draw upon themselves destruction many times.
But another question arises: Manasseh pretended repentance, and God seemed to have forgiven him and the whole people, (2 Kings 21:2 Chronicles 33:12) why does he now declare that he would take vengeance on sins which had been already buried? But the answer is evident, for the Jews from that time had been in no way better. As then they had continued to pursue the same sinful courses with Manasseh, it was right that they should at length be rewarded as they deserved; for, had they become really changed, there would have been a change in God's dealings with them, but inasmuch as their impiety had ever remained the same, and as they gave themselves up to the same vices, a heavier judgment was nigh them, and justly so, because they had abused God's forbearance, who had spared the king as well as themselves on the condition of receiving the pardon offered to them. But since they had hardened themselves, it was riglit to take such account of their ingratitude and perverseness as to treat them with greater severity.
Farther, Manasseh is called the son of Hezekiah, and that for the purpose of enhancing his crime. For as religion had been reformed in the time of Hezekiah, and as that pious king, with great labor and toil, exerted all his powers to restore the true worship of God, it was the duty of Manasseh to follow his example. But he not only built altars to idols, and polluted the whole land with superstitions, but also defiled the very Temple of God. It was thus a horrible, and wholly a diabolical madness in the son, when the right way of worshipping God had been delivered unto him, to be of such a reprobate mind as immediately to overthrow what his father with great labor has so faithfully established. This then was the reason why Jeremiah mentioned to his dishonor the name of his father. And hence we learn that they are worthy of a heavier punishment, who have been religiously brought up from their childhood, and become afterwards degenerated, who, having had pious and godly parents, afterwards abandon themselves to every wickedness. Hence a heavier judgment awaits those who depart from the examples of godly fathers. And this we gather from the very words of the Prophet, who here, by way of reproach, calls Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, which yet would have been to his honor, had he been like his father and followed his piety.
And at the same time there is no doubt but that the Prophet indirectly condemns the whole people; for we know how great opposition pious Hezekiah met with, and how he contended for the faithful worship of God, as though he had been among the Assyrians or the Egyptians. But the perverseness of the people appeared then extreme, when he was put in jeopardy as to the kingdom, because he endeavored to cleanse the land of Judah from its filth and pollutions; their impiety and ingratitude then shewed, and openly discovered themselves. Afterwards Manasseh overturned as it were in an instant the worship of God, and they all, with great exultation, went immediately after superstition. We hence see that the mouths of the Jews were thus closed, so that they could not object and say, that they obeyed the command of their king; for they winingly followed wicked superstitions. They assented to the king of their own accord, while yet they hardly, and with great unwiningness, were led to obey when God's worship was restored in the time of Hezekiah.
But Manasseh added cruelties to superstitions; for we know that he not only covered the streets of the city with blood, but made it also to flow in streams, as sacred history relates. As, then, the Prophets were so cruelly treated in the time of Manasseh, and as he was not the sole author of this barbarity, but the true servants of God were persecuted to death by the consent of the people, it was hence evident that it was the crime of the whole community. And hence he mentions Jerusalem, in order that the Jews might know that the holy city, in which they gloried, had been for a long time the den of robbers, and that the Temple of God had been polluted by wicked superstitions, and even the whole city by unlawful and barbarous slaughters. It now follows --