1. Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near,
1. Et accesserunt cuncti duces copiarum, et Joannes filius Kareah, et Jezaniah filius Ozamae, et totus populus a parvo usque ad magnum,
2. And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:)
2. Et dixerunt ad Jeremiam prophetam, Cadat Agedum precatio nostra coram facie tua, et ores pro nobis Jehovam Deum tuum pro omnibus reliquiis istis, quia relicti sumus exiguum e magno, sicuti oculi tui vident nos;
3. That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.
3. Et annuntiet nobis Jehova Deus tuus viam, per quam ambulemus, et rem quam faciamus.
I have said that John, and his associates, and the whole people acted much more culpably by coming to the Prophet, than if they had not done so, and had gone directly to Egypt: for they either came dissemblingly, and thus designedly spoke what was false, or they were extremely stupid, and hypocrisy had wholly deprived them of their understanding. They came to the Prophet to ask counsel; nay, that he might be to them God's interpreter, and that thus they might know what to do; and they promised to obey, as we shall hereafter see. However this may have been, they sought an oracle in which it was their duty to acquiesce, except they resolved openly to shake off the yoke and to show themselves to be gross and profane despisers of God. They came to the Prophet, when yet it was their fixed purpose, as we shall see, to go to Egypt.
He who asks counsel, ought first to see that he bring no prejudice, but be free and honest: but it is, however, a fault too common, that men deliberate and ask counsel, when they have already settled what to do; nay, nothing is more common than this; for those who consult do not, for the most part, wish to learn what is right, but that others should fall in with their own inclinations. He who has resolved on this or that point, pretends that he is in doubt, and held in suspense; he asks what ought to be done: if the answer be according to his wishes, he embraces what is said; but if he who is consulted, disapproves of what he has already resolved to do, he rejects the counsel given. Such was the dissimulation described by the Prophet, when the leaders of the forces and the whole people came to him.
He mentions, first, the leaders of the forces, and then John the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshiah He adds these two last; but it was to give them honor, as when the angel said,
|Go and tell his disciples and Peter.| (Mark 16:7)
He did not put aside Peter, as though he was inferior to all the rest; but for the sake of honor he mentions his name, after having spoken generally of them all. So also here, the Prophet names generally the leaders, but as John the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah were the chief men, he expressly gives their names. He adds, the whole people, from the least to the greatest This does not refer to age; but what he means is, that all, of every grade, came with one consent to Jeremiah. It was not then the conspiring of a few men, but all from the least to the greatest had resolved to go to Egypt; and yet they came, as though with an honest purpose, to the Prophet; wherefore? They wished their own perverse design to be approved by God, and thus to subject God to their own will and humor; for they did not suffer themselves to be ruled by his Spirit, but audaciously disregarded his word. The Prophet then shews that they were all implicated in the same sin.
It is added, that they said, as though they were ready to obey, Let our prayer fall before thee. This, as we have said, when addressed to God, is an evidence of humility; but it is applied here to man; and when the Hebrews make a humble request, they say, |Let my prayer fall before thee,| that is, Hear what I suppliantly and humbly ask. Pray, they said, to Jehovah thy God for us They called him the God of Jeremiah, not that they intended to exempt themselves from his authority; they did not mean that they were alienated from God; but in this way they extolled Jeremiah, and acknowledged him to be God's true and lawful Prophet. In short, this saying refers to the prophetic office, as though they had said, that Jeremiah had hitherto confirmed his vocation, so that it was clearly evident that he had been sent from above.
We hence see why they called Jehovah the God of Jeremiah, not as though they had rejected God, and as though he was not their God in common with Jeremiah, but they allowed that the Prophet possessed a higher honor, and that his faithfulness and integrity were beyond controversy.
But this admission justly recoiled on their own head; for if Jeremiah was God's Prophet, why did they not instantly obey him, after knowing that what he faithfully told them he had received from God? and why did they insolently and ferociously resist him and accuse him of falsehood? Their own admission then was not sincere, but a fallacious flattery, as is the case with all hypocrites, who never speak in sincerity and truth.
They afterwards added, Pray for all this remnant, for we are left, a few from many This they added to produce pity, in order that they might more easily obtain from Jeremiah what they asked; nor was that difficult; but as they felt conscious of wrong, they sought the favor of the Prophet by flatteries, Had they asked him without disguise, they knew that he was of himself disposed to seek the well being of the people; but as they were of a double mind, they set before him their miserable state, which might; have roused the Prophet still more to make intercession to God for them. And for this reason they added, as thine eyes see us And they set before him this sad spectacle, to create sympathy in the Prophet. And it then follows, And may Jehovah thy God shew us the way in which we are to walk. They now explained more clearly why they wished prayer to be made for them, even that God might answer and shew what he wished them to do.
They came then, as it has been stated, as though they were ready to obey; and then they professed humility, because they did not wish to do anything rashly, but only to follow where God called them. Had they spoken from the heart, it would have been a rare virtue thus to-have fled in perplexities to God, and to have allowed themselves to be ruled by his word; but we shall see that it was all a pre-tence. We have then here set before us the hypocrisy of that people, so that we may learn that whenever we ask what pleases God, we should bring a pure and sincere heart, so that nothing may prevent or hinder us immediately to embrace whatever God may command us. But their hypocrisy is discovered to have been still baser, when the Prophet adds,