Lecture One Hundred and Thirteenth
28. For therefore he sent unto us in Babylon, saying, This captivity is long: build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
28. Nempe quia misit (vel, quia ideo, ad verbum, quia ob id, vel, propterea) ad nos in Babylonem, dicendo, Longum est (tempus exilii,) aedificate domos et habitate, plantate hortos et comedite fractum eorum.
29. And Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the ears of Jeremiah the prophet.
29. Legerat autem Zephania epistolam hanc in auribus Jeremiae prophetae.
The crime ascribed to Jeremiah was, — that he rendered the captives indifferent, so that they cast off every hope of deliverance, and disregarded their own country. But the design of Jeremiah was far different; it was, that the people might not by too much haste anticipate the promises of God, and that he might also extend their hope to the end, prefixed. As there are two causal particles here found, ky l-kn, ki ol-ken, some give this rendering, "For for this cause," that is, because he claimed the name of a Prophet. The simpler meaning however is, that he gives a reason why Shemaiah blamed the neglect of the priest, even because he (Jeremiah) had habituated the captives to bear their exiles. But he reproached the holy man, as though he had made them indifferent through long delay. Jeremiah had indeed said that the time would be long; but this particular phrase, It is long, means a different thing, as though Jeremiah wished to bury in oblivion the hope of a return, because it would have been foolish to languish so long.
It follows, And Zephaniah had read, etc The past perfect tense is more suitable here, for the verse ought to be put in a parenthesis. The Prophet obviates a doubt which might have been entertained. He then shews how the prophecy was made known to him; he was one of the hearers when the letter was read. And it is probable that the priest called Jeremiah on purpose, that he might be proved guilty by his own accuser. However this may have been, he wished to expose the holy man to the hatred of the people, or rather to their fury. The constancy of Jeremiah was worthy of greater praise, while he boldly reproved the arrogance of them all, who had nothing else in view but to suppress God's truth by force and tyranny.