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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 42:13-17

13. But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God,

13. Quod si dixeritis vos, Non habitabimus in terra hac, non obediendo voci Jehovae Dei vestri;

14. Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell:

14. Dicendo, Non, quia (vel, sed) in terram Aegypti ibimus (nam yk potest adversative capi,) ubi non videbimus proelium, et vocem tubae non audiemus, et ad panem non esuriemus, et habitabimus illic:

15. And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there;

15. Nunc propterea audite sermonem Jehovae, residuum Jehudah, quia sic dicit Jehova exercituum, Deus Israel, Si vos ponendo posueritis facies vestras ad ingrediendum Aegyptum (ut ingrediamini in Aegyptum,) et ingressi fueritis illic ad peregrinandum;

16. Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.

16. Erit (accidet) ut gladius quem vos timetis ab eo (hoc est, a quo metuitis) illic apprehendat vos (vel, occurrat vobis illic, nempe) in terra Aegypti, et fames a qua extimescitis (hoc est, propter quam estis anxii, (vel, quam expaveseitis, nam g'd utrunque significat) illic apprehendet vos (vel, adhaerebit vobis, sed ad verbum, apprehendet post vos, vel, persequetur vos, nempe) in terra Aegypti, et illic moriemini.

17. So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them.

17. Et erunt omnes viri qui posuerint facies suas ut veniant in Aegyptum ad peregrinandum illuc morientur gladio, fame et peste, et non erit illis superstes aut evasor (id est, qui evadat) a facie mali quod ego adduco super eos.

God having promised, that the counsel he gave to the Jews would be good and safe, now, on the other hand, threatens them, that if they disobeyed, everything they would attempt would end miserably. They had not expressly asked whether it would be for their good to go into Egypt, or whether it would be pleasing to God; but God, who penetrates into all hidden purposes, anticipated them, and declared that their going would be unhappy, if they fled into Egypt. We hence see how the Prophet, or rather God himself, who spoke by his servant, tried by all means to keep them in the way of duty.

He then says, If ye say, We shall not dwell in this land, it shall be ill with you, he says: but before he denounced punishment, he shewed that they deserved to be destroyed, if they went to Egypt; for had the thing been in itself lawful, yet to attempt such a thing against the express will of God was, as we know, an impious and a diabolical presumption and rashness. God had forbidden them specifically in his Law ever to set their hearts on Egypt, (Deuteronomy 17:16;) and he had often confirmed the same thing by his Prophets, (Isaiah 30:2; Isaiah 31:1;) and now again he seals the former prophecies, as he expressly forbids them to go to Egypt. The Prophet then sets this crime before their eyes: |If ye flee into Egypt, what is it that compels you? even because ye will not obey God.| There is then great weight in these words, Nor obey the voice of Jehovah your God; as though he had said, that they could not think of Egypt, except they designedly, as it were, rejected the authority of God, and resisted his counsel.

He adds, Saying, No; for we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war, etc. here the Prophet discovers the very fountain of rebellion, namely, that they paid no regard to God's favor. They were indeed exposed to many dangers in their own land, which produced fear and trembling, and its desolation also might have filled them with horror and weariness; but as God had declared that their safety would be cared for by him, how great and how base an ingratitude it was to deem as nothing that aid which he had freely promised! The Prophet then, in condemning their disobedience, shews at the same time the cause of it, even that unbelief led them away from rendering obedience to God. If, then, ye say, No, -- this word was a proof of their obstinacy; but he adds, We shall go into Egypt, where we shall not see war, where we shall not hear the sound of the trumpet, as though, indeed, the promise of God were false or void. But the Prophet here discovers their hidden impiety, that they did not recumb on God's promise. They promised then to themselves a peaceable life in Egypt. Was it in their power to effect this? and God, what could he do? he had declared that they would be safe and secure in the land of Canaan. It was to charge God with falsehood, to hope for rest in Egypt, and to imagine nothing but disturbances in the land where God bade them to remain in quietness.

We now then see why he says, We shall go into Egypt, where we shall not see war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor hunger for bread They promised to themselves an abundance of all blessings, for the land of Egypt was fruitful. But could not God afflict them with want? The Egyptians, we know, had also been sometimes visited with famine. We hence see why God so much condemned the design of the people as to their going into Egypt; for they entertained vain hopes, and at the same time charged God indirectly with falsehood.

He adds, Hear the word of Jehovah, ye remnant of Judah Jeremiah, by thus addressing them, no doubt endeavored to lead them to obedience. We indeed know that men in prosperity are in a manner inebriated, so that they are not easily induced to obey sound counsels. For whence comes it that kings and princes of the world indulge themselves so much, and allow such license to their lusts? even because the splendor of their fortune inebriates them. So also private men, when all things succeed according to their wishes, they lodge in their own dregs; hence it is that they are difficult to be ruled. The Prophet, on the other hand, shews that there is no reason for them to be proud. Ye are, he says, a small number, and God has wonderfully saved you. Hear, then, ye remnant of Judah In short, they are reminded of their humble and miserable condition, that they might be more teachable. But this also was done without any fruit, as we shall hereafter see.

This saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel Of these words we have spoken elsewhere. God is often called the God of hosts on account of his power: so by this term God sets forth his own greatness. Afterwards when he is said to be the God of Israel, we know that the benefit of adoption was thus brought to the recollection of the people; for God had them especially as his people, and bound them as it were to himself. This ought then to have been a most holy bond of faithfulness and obedience. It was not, then, by way of honor that the Prophet thus spoke, but in order to reprove the Israelites for their hardness and ingratitude towards God. If, he adds, ye set your faces to go into Egypt, and ye enter in there to sojourn, it shall be that the sword which ye fear shall meet you, etc. Here is their punishment described, and there is nothing obscure in the words. God shows that they were greatly deceived, if they thought that they would be prosperous in Egypt; for no prosperity can be hoped except through the favor and blessing of God; and God pronounced a curse on all their perverse counsels when he saw that they would not be restrained by his word. If, then, we attempt anything contrary to the prohibition of God, it must necessarily end unsuccessfully; and why? because the cause of all prosperity is the favor of God, and so his curse always renders all issues sad and unhappy: and however prosperous at first may be what we undertake against God's will, yet the end will be wretched and miserable, according to what the Prophet teaches here.

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