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Jeremiah 49:15

15. For, lo, I will make thee small among the heathen, and despised among men.

15. Quia ecce parvum posui to inter gentes, contemptum inter homines.


Interpreters for the most part give this exposition, that the people of Edom would be contemptible, because God had determined to cast them down from their dignity, which they for a time possessed: and then they connect the next verse, in which the reason for this is given, “Thy terror deceived thee, the pride of thy heart,” etc. But this passage may be taken otherwise, — that God derides the pride of that nation, which ought to have restrained itself, because it contended against nature, when it wished to elate itself so much. And it seems to me that this is the real meaning of the Prophet. I do not, indeed, pronounce the other view wrong, yet it behooves me to state what I prefer. I then think that there is to be understood here an implied comparison between the Israelites and the children of Edom, which is more clearly expressed by Malachi, (Malachi 1:2, 3;) for God there extols his kindness towards the Israelites, because he gave them a rich and fruitful land, and sent away the posterity of Esau, and confined them within rough mountains. As then the Idumeans, ejected from so pleasant and desirable an inheritance as had been given to the children of Abraham, were confined as it were to rugged mountains, the Prophet derides their pride, because they tried in a way contrary and repugnant to nature to elevate themselves: I made thee, he says, small among the nations, and contemptible among men And we know that less easily can that pride be borne, where there is no reason for boasting. When any one obscure from the lowest rank exalts himself above the most noble, all regard him with contempt, for it is a monstrous thing. It is for this reason that the Prophet now says, “What have you, O Idumeans, that ye are so proud! What do you possess? what is your glory? for God has humbled you. It is then the same as though a fly wished to exceed in bulk the elephant.”

But if the other exposition be preferred, the meaning would be as follows, “Behold, I will make thee small and contemptible among the nations, because thou hast been very proud.” But I have stated what I approve, even that God here brings against the Idumeans their folly, because they ought not to have boasted without reason, “Behold,” he says; he shews, as by the finger, how mean and abject their condition was; 1 have made thee small among the nations, and contemptible among men And, doubtless, were it a threatening, it would not have been sufficiently forcible; for the Prophet has hitherto been thundering against the Idumeans, and he goes on in the same strain. If then he had now put in what we read, referring to their smallness, it would have been frigid. I doubt not, then, but that the Prophet describes the state of that nation, such as it had been in comparison with that of the chosen people, and even of other nations; for though they were rich, had always been free from disturbance, and suffered no losses, yet they lived, as it has been stated, in mountains by no means fertile. It now follows —

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