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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 42:19-21

19. The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day.

19. Loquutus est Jehova contra vos, reliquiae Jehudah, Ne eatis in Aegyptum; sciendo sciatis quod contestatus fuerim vos hodie:

20. For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it.

20. Quoniam fefellistis animus vestras (aut, fallaces fuistis in animabus vestris) quando misistis me ad Jehovam Deum vestrum, dicendo, Ora pro nobis Jehovam Deum nostrum; et secundum omnia quae locutus Jehova Deus noster fuerit, sic annuntia nobis et faciemus.

21 And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you.

21. Ego autem annuntiavi vobis hodie, et non audivistis vocem Jehovae Dei vestri, et secundum omnia propter quae misit me ad vos.

Here the Prophet explains more fully their sin; for their punishment might have appeared extreme, had not their impiety been more clearly unfolded. He then says that this punishment ought not to be regarded as too rigid, because God had not once only protested against the Jews and admonished them in a solemn manner and before witnesses; but they to the last not, only despised his counsel and warnings, but proudly rejected them. And he adds, that they dealt falsely and perfidiously with God, because they pretended that they would be obedient as soon as the will of God was known; but they shewed that in reality they had no such purpose; for their own vanity and deceit took full possession of them when the Prophet answered them in God's name; nor had they a desire to obey God.

Let us now consider the words: Jehovah hath spoken against you, the remnant of Judah He again calls them a remnant, in order that they might remember that they had no reason any more to be proud. We know how the Jews while in prosperity disregarded the Prophets; for they were inebriated with their good fortune. But God had dissipated this pride, with which they were previously filled. The Prophet had also set before them the favor through which they had been liberated, that they might learn hereafter to submit to God and his word. For this reason then he called them a remnant, even to render them more attentive and teachable. But it was done without any benefit; for though their affairs were nearly hopeless, and they were reduced almost to nothing, yet they had not laid aside their high spirits. They were then still swollen with false confidence. But this warning, however, availed to render them more inexcusable.

If ye enter into Egypt, he says, knowing know ye, or, knowing ye shall know. The verb is in the future tense, though it may be taken as an imperative. But the future tense is the most suitable, knowing ye shall know, that is, the event itself will teach you, but too late, as the foolish are never wise till after the evil has taken place. Knowing ye shall know that I have protested against you this day. God says that he had left nothing undone to bring the Jews to a right mind; for a protest is usually made in a solemn manner, witnesses being called in, so that no one can plead that. he has gone astray through ignorance. To take away then every ground of excuse, witnesses were wont to be called. Hence God speaks according to the common practice and in a forensic sense, and says that he had protested against the Jews, lest they should by chance offend through want of knowledge. It then follows, that they knowingly perished, as though they had sought their own destruction.

He now adds another circumstance, that they had sent him under the pretense of rare piety, as though they were in every way ready to render obedience to God. But he first says that they had deceived themselves, or had been deceived. The verb th, toe, from which the Hithpael comes, means to err or go astray. But interpreters do not agree; for some give this explanation, that they deceived the Prophet in their hearts, that is, that they craftily retained their perverse design of going to Egypt, and at the same time professed that they were ready to obey. But as the Prophet's name is not mentioned here, this explanation seems unnatural. I therefore prefer the other explanation, that they deceived themselves; and v, beth, is here redundant, as in many places: Ye deceived, then, your own souls, when ye sent me, he says, to Jehovah The Prophet intimates that when they sought to act craftily they were deceived; for God is wont to discover the astute, and when they devise this or that, they only weave snares and toils for themselves; and we see that craftiness ever brings the ungodly to ruin. The Prophet, according to this sense, derides that perverse affectation of astuteness, when the ungodly seek to deceive God; and he says that they deceived themselves, as we see also daily. Then he says that they themselves had been the authors of the evil, for they had brought themselves to ruin by their astute and crafty counsel, when they sent him to Jehovah. The ky, ki, is to be taken here as an adverb of time, When ye sent me to Jehovah your God, saying, Pray for us.

He reproves them not only for perfidy, but also for sacrilege, because they wickedly profaned the name of God. For it. was not to be endured that they should pretend a regard for religion, and testify that they would be obedient to God, and should at the same time cherish in their hearts that perverse intention which afterwards they discovered. And hence he not only relates that he had been sent, but that he had also been solicited to intercede for them. It was then a twofold sacrilege, for they had asked what would please God, and afterwards disregarded the prophecy, -- and then they offered a prayer, and when God gave them an answer by his servant., they counted it as nothing! We now perceive why Jeremiah so expressly mentioned these two things.

Pray for us to our God, and according to all which Jehovah our God shall say, relate thou to us: the people seemed to act with wonderful sincerity; they exhorted the Prophet to dissemble nothing, to add nothing and to diminish nothing'. What better can be wished than that men should lay aside all ambiguity and all evasions, and not wish God's words to be corrupted? And this the Jews expressed in high terms, Whatever Jehovah our God shall answer, declare thou to us Here they seemed to have more zeal than Jeremiah himself; for they enjoined a law, that he should add nothing and diminish nothing, but that he should be a faithful interpreter of God's will. They seemed then to be half-angels. They afterwards testified that they would do whatever God should command them.

He at length adds, And I have this day declared it to you Here he sets forth his own fidelity, not for the sake of boasting, but that their impiety might be reproved, who at length despised the oracle of God, which they had boasted that they would obey. Ye have not hearkened, he says, to the voice of Jehovah your God, and according to all the things on account of which he hath sent me to you. The Prophet again confirms the truth, that it was their own fault that the Jews did not follow what was right, and also what was for their good, for he had faithfully delivered to them what God had commanded. He now adds, --

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