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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 44:20-23

20. Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying,

20. Et dixit Jeremias ad totum populum, ad viros et mulieres, et ad totum populum, qui responderant ipsi sermonem, dicendo,

21. The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind?

21. An non suffitus quem vos suffiebatis (vel, adolebatis) in urbibus Jehudah et compitis Jerusalem, vos et patres vestri, reges vestri et duces vestri, et populus terre, eorum (hoc est, ejus suffumigationis, vel, harum omnium superstitionum) recordatus est Jehova, et ascenderunt in cor ejus?

22. So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day.

22. Et non potuit Jehova amplius ferre propter malitiam operum vestrorum, propter abominationes quas fecistis, et redacta est terra vestra in vastitatem et in stuporem et in maledictum (vel, execrationem,) ita ut nemo sit habitator, sicut dies haec (hoc est, sicut hodie apparet.)

23. Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.

23. Propterea quod suffitum fecis-tis et peccastis Jehovae (vel, impie gessistis contra Jehovam,) et non audivistis vocem Jehovae, et in lege ejus et statutis et testimoniis non ambulastis, propterea accedit vobis malum hoc, sicut dies haec (hoc est, sicut hodie apparet.)

The Prophet refutes the impious objections by which the Jews had attempted to subvert and to render contemptible his doctrine, he then turns against them all that they had falsely boasted. They had at the beginning said, |Our kings, our princes, and our fathers, had before used these rites; and they have been delivered to us, as it were, by their hands.| To this Jeremiah answers, |This is certainly true, and for this reason it was that God became so severe a judge of their impiety, when he took away your fathers from the world, when he wholly destroyed the kingdom itself, when he demolished the city, and when at length he afflicted you with all kinds of evils: for except your kings, and your fathers, and your princes, had been impious towards God, he would have never treated them with so much severity; for he has promised to be a Father to the children of Abraham. God, then, must have been grievously offended with you, and your fathers, and your kings, when his wrath thus burned against them.|

There is, then, here a retort; for as we see that the Prophet turns against them what they had adduced against him. This is the sum of what is said.

He says that he spoke to the whole people, both men and women, and he repeats the whole people, because all had subscribed to the impious calumny. Then God says, |For this reason have I destroyed your city and you, even because ye burnt incense to-your idols.| The truth of what they had boasted is allowed, but it is turned to a meaning different from what they thought. For, as their fathers and their kings had imbibed superstitions, they supposed that they were doing right in following them; for, as we have said, hypocrites consider use and custom as sufficient reasons for disregarding the Law. Then, as to the fact itself, the Prophet admits that what they said was quite true, that this had been the cause of all their evils; for had not the kings and the whole people provoked the wrath of God, the temple would not have been demolished, nor the kingdom destroyed; God, in short, would not have alienated himself from his own people whom he had adopted. This is the meaning.

The incense, he says, which ye have burnt in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, ye and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the whole people of the land, has not Jehovah remembered them? Whence, he says, has this dreadful calamity proceeded, which has destroyed all your race? Even from the wrath of God, for it has not happened to you by chance, for God had by his servants predicted what afterwards has been really fulfilled. It then follows, that your city has been destroyed through the righteous judgment of God. And what has been the cause of so great and so grievous a vengeance? Even your incense.

And hence he adds, Jehovah could not endure the wickedness of your works and the abominations which ye have done: therefore, he says, your land has been reduced to a waste The Prophet, in short, shews that had they not been justly exposed to God's judgment, they would not have been destroyed. For he assumes this principle, that God is not angry without reason; and then he assumes another principle, that as God had chosen the seed of Abraham, and had been always propitious even to the unworthy, they would have been made partakers of his kindness, had not God been wholly alienated from them. It then follows, that God's vengeance had not been thus kindled by some slight offense, but by many and daily offenses, so that it could no longer be deferred: for the atrocity of punishment shews the atrocity of sin; and hence he says, Jehovah could not endure the wickedness of your works, and the abominations which ye have done: therefore, he adds, your land has been made a waste, an astonishment, and a curse, or execration, so that there is no inhabitant

He at length explains more clearly, in other words, the same thing, on account of your incense, he says, and because ye have done wickedly, etc. By naming incense especially, stating a part for the whole, he refers to all false and corrupt modes of worship, as it was stated yesterday; but he declares all of them to have been abominable. Then he says, Ye have acted impiously against God He now exaggerates their sin, for they had despised all godly admonitions, ye have not hearkened, he says, to the voice of Jehovah I apply this to the discourses of the Prophets, by which God continued to exhort them to repentance; for he daily and constantly addressed them, in order to restore them to the way of salvation. Then the Prophet condemns them, because they hearkened not to the words of the Prophets.

Then he adds, Nor walked in his Law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies, he shews by these words, that even if Prophets had not been sent, one after the other, the Law ought to have been sufficient for them. But he was not content with mentioning the Law only, but added, statutes and testimonies: by which words he intimates, as we said yesterday, that the doctrine of the Law was clear and plain.

he at length adds, Therefore has all this evil happened to you, as it appears at this day. The Prophet, in short, intimates that their guilt was sufficiently proved, because God had been so angry with them, and they had been so severely afflicted; for if his judgments are right, it follows that the punishment he inflicted on the Jews was right. It may also be hence inferred, that they had been rebellious, because they had perverted and corrupted his true worship.

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