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Jeremiah 51:34

34. Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.

34. Comedit me, contrivit me Nabuchadnezer rex Babylonis; posuit me (locavit, ad verbum) vas inane; diglutivit me tanquam draco, implevit ventrem suum deliciis meis, ejecit me.


Here is mentioned the complaint of the chosen people, and this was done designedly by Jeremiah, in order that the Jews might feel assured that their miseries were not overlooked by God; for nothing can distress us so much as to think that God forgets us and disregards the wrongs done to us by the ungodly, hence the Prophet here sets the Israelites in God’s presence, that they might be convinced in their own minds that they were not disregarded by God, and that he was not indifferent to the unjust and cruel treatment they received from their enemies. For this complaint is made, as though they expostulated with God in his presence.

He then says, Devoured me and broken me in pieces has Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon 9696     The pronoun after the verbs in this verse is in the plural number, us, according to the present Hebrew text, but according to the Keri and several copies, it is in the singular number, me. The authority as to MSS. is nearly equal; only the latter reading is favored by the versions and the Targ, and also by the verse which follows. — Ed. The word, to eat, or devour, was enough; but Jeremiah wished to express something more atrocious by adding the word, to break in pieces; 9797     The common meaning of the verb is, violently to disturb, but it is evidently used in the sense of breaking, crushing, or breaking in pieces, in Isaiah 28:28; and this is the most suitable sense here, as it follows “devouring.” — Ed. for he intimates that Babylon had not been like a man who devours meat set before him, but that she had been a cruel wild beast, who breaks in pieces the very bones. We now, then, understand the design of the Prophet; he amplifies the savageness of the king of Babylon, by saying that God’s people had not only been devoured by him as men swallow down their food, but that they had also been torn in pieces by his teeth, as though he had been a lion, or a bear, or some other wild animal; for these not only devour their prey, but also with their teeth break in pieces whatever is harder than flesh, such as bones.

For the same purpose he adds, He has set me an empty vessel, that is, he has wholly exhausted me, as when one empties a flagon or a cask. Then he says, he has swallowed me like a dragon 9898     Or a sea-monster, or a whale, who devours smaller fish whole and entire. — Ed. It is a comparison different from the former, but yet very suitable; for dragons are those who devour a whole animal; and this is what the Prophet means. Though these comparisons do not in everything agree, yet as to the main thing they are most appropriate, even to show that God suffered his people to be devoured, as though they had been exposed to the teeth of a lion or a bear, or as though they had been a prey to a dragon.

He adds, Filled has he his belly with my delicacies, that is, whatever delicate thing I had, he has consumed it. He then says, he has cast off the remnants, like wolves and lions and other wild beasts, who, when they have more prey than what suffices them, choose what is most savory; for they choose the head of man that they may eat the brain; they suck the blood, but leave the intestines and whatever they do not like. So also the Prophet says here of the miserable Jews, that they had been so devoured that the enemy, having been satiated, had cast. off the remainder. 9999     The last verb is left out by the Sept., rendered “cast out,” by the Vulg., “destroyed,” by the Syr.; “made to emigrate,” by the Targ. The verb properly means to drive out or away; and their ejection from the land is what is meant. — Ed.

We hence learn that God’s people had been so exposed to plunder, that the conqueror was not only satisfied, but cast away here and there what remained; for satiety, as it is well known, produces loathsomeness. But the Prophet refers to the condition of the miserable people; for their wealth had been swallowed up by the Chaldeans, but their household furniture was plundered by the neighboring nations; and the men themselves had been driven into exile, so that there came a disgraceful scattering. They were then scattered into various countries, and some were left through contempt in the land; thus was fulfilled what is said here, “He has cast me out,” even because these wild beasts, the Chaldeans, became satiated; meat was rejected by them, because they could not consume all that was presented to them.

By these figurative terms, as it has been stated, is set forth the extreme calamity of the people; and the Prophet no doubt intended to meet such thoughts as might otherwise have proved very harassing to the Jews. For as they found no end to their evils, they might have thought that they had been so cast away by God as to become the most miserable of men. This is the reason why our Prophet anticipates what might have imbittered the minds of the godly, and even driven them to despair, he then says, that notwithstanding all the things which had happened, yet God had not forgotten his people; for all these things were done as in his sight.

With regard to us, were God not only to double the calamities of his Church, but also to afflict it in an extreme degree, yet what the Prophet says here ought to afford us aid, even that God’s chosen people were formerly so consumed, that the remainder was cast away in contempt; for the conqueror, though insatiable, could not yet consume all that he got as a prey, because his cupidity could not contain it. It now follows, —


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