10. Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.
10. Et tu ne timeas, Jacob, serve mi, dicit Jehova, et ne paveas, Israel, quia ecce ego servans to a longinquo, et semen tuum e terra captivitatis eorum; et sedebit Jacob et quiescet et tranquillus erit, et nemo exterrebit (nemo exterrens, ad verbum)
The Prophet enforces his doctrine by an exhortation; for it would not be sufficient simply to assure us of God's paternal love and goodwill, unless we were encouraged to hope for it, because experience teaches us how backward and slow we are to embrace the promises of God. This, then, is the reason why the Prophet exhorts and encourages the faithful to entertain hope. Were there in us that promptitude and alacrity which we ought to have, we should be content even with one word; for what can be wished for beyond God's testimony respecting his favor? But our listlessness renders many goads necessary. Hence, when doctrine precedes, it is necessary to add exhortations to stimulate us; and these confirm the doctrine, so that the grace of God may flourish effectually in our hearts.
He addresses |Jacob| and |Israel;| but they mean the same, as in many other places. These duplicates, as they are called, are common, we know, in the Hebrew language; for the same words are repeated for the sake of emphasis. So, in this passage, there is more force when Jeremiah mentions two names, than if he had said only, |Fear not thou, Jacob, and be not afraid.| He then says, Fear not thou, Jacob; and Israel, be not thou afraid And he does this, that the Jews might remember that God had not only been once propitious to their father Jacob, but many times; for from the womb he bore a symbol of that primogeniture which God had destined for him; and he afterwards had, for the sake of honor, the name of Israel given to him. As, then, God had in various ways, and in succession, manifested his goodness to Jacob, the people might hence entertain more hope.
He calls him his servant; not that the Jews were worthy of so honorable a title; but God had regard to himself, and his gratuitous adoption, rather than to their merits. He did not then call them servants, because they were obedient, for we know how contumaciously they rejected both God and his Prophets; but because he had adopted them. So when David says,
|I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid,|
he does not boast of his obedience, nor claim to himself any deserving virtue, but, on the contrary, declares, that before he was created in the womb, he was God's servant through his gratuitous adoption. Hence, he adds, |I am the son of thine handmaid,| as though he had said, |I belong to thee by an hereditary right, because I am descended from that nation which thou hast been pleased to choose for thy peculiar people.| We now then see that the name servant, ought not to be understood as intimating the merits of the people, and that their obedience is not here commended, as though they had truly and faithfully responded to the call of God, but that their gratuitous adoption is alone extolled.
He adds, Behold, I will save thee from far He first declares that he would be ready to save the people when the suitable time came; for behold here intimates certainty. And he subjoins, from far, lest the people should fail in their confidence; for they had been driven into distant exile; and distance is a great obstacle. Were any one to promise to us an advantageous retreat, without calling us away to some unknown country, we could more easily embrace the promise; but were any one to say, |I promise to you the largest income in Syria, and you shall have there whatever may be deemed necessary to make your life happy;| would you not reply, |What! shall I pass over the sea, that I may live there? it is better for me to live here in comparative poverty than to be a king there.| As, then, a difficulty might have presented itself to the Jews, when they saw that they had been driven away into very remote countries, the Prophet adds, that this circumstance would be no obstacle so as to prevent God to save them: I will save you then from far; as though he had said, that his hands were long enough, so that he could extend them as far as Chaldea, and draw them from thence.
He then adds, and thy seed from the land of their captivity As the expectation of seventy years was long, God refers what he promises to their seed. There is no doubt but that the Prophet reminded the Jews, that the time determined by God was to be waited for in patience, as was the case with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; for though they knew that they would be strangers in the land which God had promised them, yet they did not on that account despise or disregard the favor promised them. Abraham received in faith what he had heard from God's mouth,
|I will give thee this land;|
and yet he knew that he would be there a stranger and a sojourner. (Genesis 12:7) His children had to exercise the same patience. Abraham had indeed been warned of a very long delay; for God had declared that his seed would be in bondage for four hundred years. (Genesis 15:13) Here, then, the Prophet exhorts the people of his time to entertain hope, according to the example of their father, and not to despise God's favor, because its fruit did not immediately appear; for Abraham did not enjoy the land as long as he lived, and yet he preferred it to his own country; Isaac did the same; and Jacob followed the example of his fathers. This, then, is the reason why the Prophet mentions seed, as though he had said, |If the fruit of redemption will not come to you, yet God will not disappoint your hope, for your posterity shall find that he is true and faithful.|
If any one had then objected, and said, |What is that to me?| the objection would have been preposterous; for why had God promised to their posterity a return to their own country? was it not thus to testify his love towards them? And whence came their freedom, and whence God's paternal love, except from the covenant? We hence see that the salvation of the fathers was included in the benefit which their sons enjoyed. And therefore, though the fruition of that benefit was not visibly granted to the fathers, yet they partook in part of the fruit, for it was made certain to them, that God would become the deliverer of his people even in death itself.
He adds that which is the main thing in a happy life, that they would be at rest and in a quiet state, so that none would terrify them; for a return to their own country would not have been of any great importance, without a quiet possession of it. Hence the Prophet, after having said that God would come to save the people, and that distance would not prevent him to fulfill and complete what he had promised, now adds, that this benefit would be confirmed, for God would no more allow strangers to lead the Jews into exile, or to rule over them as they had done. God then promises here the continuance of his favor.
But as this did not happen to the Jews, we must again conclude that this prophecy cannot be otherwise interpreted than of Christ's kingdom. And Daniel is the best interpreter of this matter; for he says, that the people were to be exposed to many miseries and calamities after their return, and that they were not to hope to build the Temple and the city except in great troubles. The Jews then were always terrified. We also know, that while building the Temple, they held the trowel in one hand and the sword in the other, for they often had to bear the assaults of their enemies. (Nehemiah 4:17) Since, then, the Jews ever suffered inquietude until the coming of Christ, it follows, that until his coming, this promise was never accomplished. Then the benefit of which the Prophet speaks here is peculiar to the kingdom of Christ. Now, since from the time Christ was manifested to the world, we see that the world has been agitated by many storms, yea, all things have been in confusion; it follows, that this passage cannot be explained of external rest and earthly tranquillity. It ought, therefore, to be understood according to the character of his kingdom. As, then, Christ's kingdom is spiritual, it follows that a tranquil and quiet state is promised here, not because no enemies shall disturb us or offer us molestation, but because we shall especially enjoy peace with God, and our life shall be safe, being protected by the hand and guardianship of God. Then spiritual tranquillity is what is to be understood here, the fruit of which the faithful experience in their own consciences, though always assailed by the world, according to what Christ says,
|My peace I give to you, not such as the world gives,| (John 14:27)
|In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.| (John 16:33)
It follows --