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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Lecture One Hundred and Twenty-Ninth

I did not, in the last lecture, fully explain the passage in which the Prophet announced the burning of the city. After having spoken of the city, he mentions the houses on which they had offered incense to their idols, and poured out libations He then expresses the cause why so heavy a vengeance from God awaited that holy city, even because its houses had been polluted by superstitions. And he says, that incense had been made to idols on their tops or roofs; for the roofs, as it appears from many parts of Scripture, were places, as it were, to walk in; and we know that idolaters ever sought high places, as they imagined that they were thus nearer to God. Then the design is to shew, that the punishment of which the Prophet had spoken, was not too severe, because all the houses had been contaminated by many sacrilegious acts.

He first mentions Baal, and then foreign gods Baal, we know, is sometimes taken specifically, and sometimes includes all sorts of idols, and yet the Prophets often used the plural number, and called them Baalim, that is, patrons; whom the Jews thought that they were first to propitiate, in order that they might in the same manner pacify God. For superstition is never satisfied with the one only true God, but seeks many gods, as we shall hereafter see in the 35th verse (Jeremiah 32:35), where Molech is mentioned, being added to Baal. And the Prophet says here, that they had poured libations to foreign gods We hence see that Baal includes idols of every sort.

He adds, that they might provoke me By these words God intimates, that no ignorance could have been pretended by the Jews, for they had been more than sufficiently taught from the Law how God was to be worshipped; and a rule had been also prescribed to them to worship God alone: but they worshipped many gods, and according to their own fictitious superstitions. Justly, then, does God here complain that they had, as it were, purposely provoked him, for ignorance could not have been made a pretext, since the doctrine of the Law was sufficient to guide them. It now follows --

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