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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 19: Jeremiah and Lamentations, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at


volume third

The derangement as to the order of the chapters first occurs in this Volume. It is commonly thought that chapters 21, 24, and 27, were delivered in the time of Zedekiah; while chapters 20, 22, 23, 25, and 26, contain Prophecies delivered in the previous reign of Jehoiakim. The early Versions and the Targum retain the same order with the Hebrew, only there are derangements of another kind both in the Septuagint and the Arabic, which commence at verse 14 of chapter 25, and continue to the end of chapter 51: It hence appears that the disorder had taken place early, before the Versions were made.

There are a few particulars to which the Editor wishes to draw the attention of Literary Readers, some of which have been already noticed in the Notes appended to previous Volumes, though not perhaps so fully specified as to attract attention; and there is one subject which belongs especially to this Volume.

The first thing is in reference to a Hebrew idiom; and that with regard to the pronoun relative רשא, who, which, whom. There is a peculiarity as to the use of this which has been overlooked, as far as the writer knows, by Grammarians. It precedes in Hebrew, as in other languages, the verb by which it is governed; but when it is not governed in a transitive sense, a personal pronoun follows the verb with a preposition prefixed to it, as, for instance, in Jer 1:2,

“To whom the word of the Lord came;”

which is literally, “Whom the word of the Lord came to him.” “To him” and “whom” are the same. It is an idiom, and the same exists in Welsh, which in many of its peculiarities corresponds exactly with the Hebrew. This passage, and others of a similar kind, are literally the same in that language, “Yr hwn y daeth gair yr Arglwydd atto;” and the last word, “atto,” the preposition being prefixed to the pronoun, and made, as it were, one word, corresponds exactly with the Hebrew.

We have, in Jer 7:10, these words —

“Which (God’s house) is called by my Name,” literally, “which my Name is called on it;”

which means, “on which my Name is called.” The following are similar examples: —

“Unto whom they offer incense” literally, “whom they offer incense to them,”
(Jer 11:12;)

“Against whom I have pronounced;” literally, “whom I have pronounced against them,” (Jer 18:8;)

“Upon whose roofs they have burned incense;” literally, “which they have burned incense on their roofs,” (Jer 19:13.)

In all these instances the Welsh is literally the Hebrew. The last example is rather remarkable, but the Welsh is exactly the same, “y rhai yr arogldarthasant ar eu pennau.” The verb, also, is similar, derived from the noun which means incense, “they have incensed;” but the verb in English is not so used. There is hardly a noun or a verb in Hebrew which the Welsh cannot literally express — a peculiarity which neither Latin nor Greek possesses, and perhaps no modern language. See also Gen. 44:5, 10, 16, Gen. 48:15, Deut. 11:24, Deut. 12:2, Isa. 31:4, Jer. 14:15, Jer. 17:19, Amos 9:12, Jonah 4:10, 11.  1

But it must be especially observed, as the point will be hereafter referred to, that when the relative pronoun is governed by the verb in a transitive sense, without a preposition, there is then no personal pronoun added after the verb, either affixed to it or separately. This seems to be an invariable rule, —

“The land that I have given for an inheritance; יתלחנה רשא” (Jer 3:18.)

“In the land that I gave; יתתנ רשא” (Jer 7:7.)

“My law which I set before them; םהינפל יתתנ רשא”
(Jer 9:13.)

See also Ps. 78:69, Ps. 86:9, Ps. 105:5; Jer. 7:23, Jer. 9:16, Jer. 11:10; Jer. 13:4, Jer. 15:4, Jer. 16:13; Eze 18:27; Da 9:10.

The Second point is connected with the style of the Hebrew prophets.

1. The order in which they arrange their ideas. — They frequently mention, first, the effect, then the cause — first, the last act, then the previous act or acts — first, the deed or action, then the motive or what led to the deed — first, the later event, then the former — first, what is most evident and visible, then what is less ostensible and hidden. In all these instances, the order is the reverse of what is commonly found in other writers.

“My people is foolish,” the effect; “they have not known me,” the cause. (Jer 4:22.) “Before me continually is grief,” the effect; “and wounds,” the cause. (Jer 6:7.) “I sent them not,” the last act; “neither have I commanded them,” the preceding; “neither spake to them,” the first. (Jer 14:14.) “With an outstretched hand and a strong arm,” the deed or action; “even in anger and in fury, and in great wrath,” what led to the deed. (Jer 21:5.) “The truth to Jacob,” the later event; “and the mercy to Abraham,” the former event. (Mic 7:20.) “Hast thou utterly rejected Judah?” the visible act; “hath thy soul loathed Zion?” the hidden reason. (Jer 14:19.)

Similar instances are found in the New Testament. What is palpable and evident is stated first, then what leads to it, or the source from which it comes; as when St. Paul mentions “rioting” first, and then “drunkenness,” which leads to it; and “strife” first, and then “envying,” from which it proceeds. (Ro 13:13.) In a like manner he puts “joy,” the higher and the most manifest feeling, before “peace,” which is the source of it. (Ro 15:13) In Eph 6:23, the Apostle mentions “peace, love, and faith;” the right order is reversed — the most evident thing is first referred to. There are many passages which can be satisfactorily explained on no other principle.

2. The order in which subjects are often treated. — When two things are referred to, the last mentioned is first spoken of, and then the first. This is what is very commonly done. Pollution and going after Baalim are laid to the charge of Israel in Jer 2:23. To prove the last it is added,

“See thy way in the valley;”

and to bring connection as to the first, God says,

“Know what thou hast done.”

In Jer 4:28, we have these words,

“I have spoken it, I have purposed it.”

The next sentence applies to the last,

“and I will not repent,”

and the following to what he had spoken,

“Neither will I turn back from it.”

Neighbor and brother are mentioned in Jer 9:4; the order is reversed in the latter clause of the verse. Pashur and the people of Judah are addressed in Jer 20:4; the doom of Judah is described in the following verse, and in the sixth the doom of Pashur. God speaks of

“The way of life and of the way of death,”

in Jer 21:8; in the next verse, such as would meet with death are first referred to, and then those to whom life would be granted. In De 27:11-26, and De 28:1-6, “blessing” and “curse” are mentioned, and then the “curse” is first described, and afterwards the “blessing.” This mode of treating subjects is indeed so common that it would be useless to multiply examples; and there are not a few instances of the same kind in the New Testament.  2

The Third subject is the construction of a passage in this Volume, in connection with another, which will be included in the next. — The two passages are Jer 23:6, and Jer 33:16. The doctrine involved is important; but our business is to ascertain the real meaning according to the current diction of the language. These passages are not rendered alike in our Version, nor in the same sense; and yet it is evident from the context that the meaning of both passages must be the same, though the words are in some measure different. However we may differ from Blayney, he yet seems to have been at least so far right, as he renders them both in the same sense. His versions are the following: —

“And this is the Name by which Jehovah shall call him, Our Righteousness.”
(Jer 23:6.)

“And this is he whom Jehovah shall call, Our Righteousness.”
(Jer 23:16.)

In a Note on the last verse, it is said, “This is the strict grammatical translation of the words of the text.” There is no doubt but that it may be so rendered; and here is an instance of what has been already observed as to the relative רשא. It has often after the verb a personal pronoun with a preposition prefixed: and as the verb ארק, whenever it means to name, has the preposition ל after it, so it has here. The relative and the pronoun in this case always refer to the same thing or person. Since this is the idiom of the language, it becomes evident that הל in this verse, is a masculine according to Chaldee dialect, as Blayney regards it, or a misprint for ול according to three MSS.; for רשא, with which it is connected, has, הז, “this” for its antecedent; and “this” is clearly the “king” mentioned in the previous verse.

The matter then is so far clear as to construction of this part of the verse; but whether “Jehovah” is the nominative to the verb is another question; and this we shall presently consider.

The words in the other passage, Jer 23:6, are somewhat different. The word “Name” is in it; but it has no personal pronoun with a ל prefixed, which is ever the case when ארק means to name, and when the word “name” is omitted. See Ge 21:31; Ge 35:18; 1Sa 23:28; 1Ch 11:7; Jer 30:17. But when “name” is connected with the verb in this sense, the preposition ל is not found. See Gen. 11:9, Gen. 29:35; 1Ch 4:9. This accounts for the absence of the pronoun with a ל prefixed coming after the verb in this passage, which is found in the other in which the word “name” is omitted. The רשא then here refers to the “name,” and stands as it were in its place; and the literal rendering, if we adopt Blayney’s arrangement of the words, would be as follows, —

And this is His Name, which Jehovah shall call it,
Our Righteousness.

Now there is a grammatical objection to this rendering; for רשא, as before mentioned, when governed by a verb in the objective case, is never followed by a personal pronoun after the verb, either postfixed or separately. But here the ו in וארקי is made a pronoun, wholly contrary to the usage of the language in such a case as the present. The other passage may admit of Blayney’s construction; but his version here is, as I conceive, inadmissible, being ungrammatical; the verb is in the plural number and not in the singular, with an affixed pronoun, therefore Jehovah cannot be its nominative case.

It may then be asked, how is the passage to be translated? Let the reader bear in mind, that when the word “Name — םש,” is connected with ארק, there is no preposition used; and as רשא here has “Name” as its antecedent, it is not necessary to have a pronoun with a prefixed ל after the verb; but this is necessary in the other passage, for the word “name” is not given. Here we see a perfect consistency in the two passages, though differently worded. Then the true version of this passage I conceive to be the following, —

“And this is His Name, which they shall call,
Jehovah our Righteousness.”

But in our language it might be rendered, “by which they shall call him” The pronoun “they” refers to Judah and Israel, at the beginning of the verse. As then “Jehovah” cannot be here the nominative case to “call,” there is no grammatical necessity to make it so in the other passage, though there is nothing contrary to the usage of the language in such a construction. The other passage may be rendered literally thus, —

“And this is He, whom it shall be called on Him,
Jehovah our Righteousness.”

The words in the idiom of our language may be thus correctly expressed, “who shall be called.” But however awkward and even unintelligible the literal rendering may be in English, yet it is in Welsh both expressive and elegant. The phrase is word for word the same, and thoroughly idiomatic, —

Ac eve yw’r hwn y gelwir arno, Jehova ein cyviawnder.”  3

We shall now refer to the early versions and the Targum.

In the Septuagint, the passage in Jer 23:6, is rendered substantially according to what is done by Blayney; he indeed defends himself by appealing to that version. As to the passage in Jer 33:16, it is wanting in the Septuagint; as supplied in the Complutensian Edition, it is evidently a version of the Vulgate, as is the case in other instances; and as given by Theodoret, it is as follows, —

“This is He who shall be called (ὁ κληθήσεται)
The Lord our Righteousness.”

The Vulgate version is the same in both places, —

“And this is the Name which they shall call him,
Our righteous Lord.”

The Syriac version is the same in both places, —

“And this is the Name by which they shall call Him,
The Lord our Righteousness.”

The Arabic version is the same with the preceding, only “righteousness” is not translated; it is “The Lord Josedek.” It is wanting like the Septuagint as to the second passage.

The paraphrase of the Targum is substantially the same as to both places, —

“And this is the Name by which they shall call Him, Done shall be righteousness for us from the presence of the Lord in his days.”

It appears then from all the Early Versions, except the Septuagint as to the first passage, and from the Targum, that “Jehovah” is not connected with the verb to call, but with “righteousness;” and this, as we have seen, comports with what the usage of the language requires. There can therefore be no reasonable doubt as to the real meaning of these two passages.

As to the peculiar idioms of the Hebrew language, the Septuagint version of Jeremiah and of the minor prophets, is by no means so satisfactory as the Vulgate and the Syriac versions. This is what the Editor can testify after a minute examination.

Thrussington, September, 1852



There is another peculiarity as to רשא which may be mentioned, that is, when connected with a noun and rendered “whose,” in the genitive case in our language. “Whose land the rivers have spoiled;” literally, “whom the rivers have spoiled her land.” (Isa 18:2.) “Whose merchants are princes;” literally, “who-her merchants are princes.” (Isa 23:8.) Here, again, the Welsh is exactly the Hebrew, and in the first of these verses, the very order of the words is the same, — “Yr hon yr yspeiliodd yr avonydd ei thir.” “Whose mouth speaketh vanity;” literally, “who — their mouth speaketh vanity.” (Ps 144:8.) The Welsh is literally the same, — “Y rhai y llevara en genan wagedd;” the “who” is in apposition with “their,” both being in Hebrew the same in every case. See also De 8:9; Ps. 95:4, 5; Ps 144:15; Ps 146:5

The following are similar instances: — “Whose seed was in itself;” literally, which — its seed was in itself. (Ge 1:12.) “In the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; literally, which — in it is the fruit of a tree yielding seed;” (Ge 1:29.) “Wherein is the breath of life;” literally, “which — in it is the breath of life.” (Ge 6:17.) “Of beasts that are not clean;” literally, “of the beast which — not it was clean.” (Ge 7:8.) “That hath statutes;” literally, “which to it are statutes.” (De 4:8.) See De 19:1; Ru 3:2.


A few passages shall be referred to, and they shall be arranged in lines that the order may be more clearly seen, —

But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, But ye are justified, In the name of the Lord Jesus, And by the Spirit of our God. (1Co 6:11.)

He mentions sanctification first, and then justification; the next line refers to justification, and the last to sanctification.

That if thou wilt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, And shalt believe in thine heart, etc., etc.; For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, And with the mouth confession is made, etc. (Rom. 10:9, 10.)

Confession and faith, and then faith and confession. This inversion seems to shew their inseparable connection, as in the former case as to sanctification and justification; and it is to be observed that in both instances the right order is given last; but the case is different in the following example: —

And he gave some apostles, And some prophets, and some evangelists, And some pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, For the work of the ministry, For the edifying (or building) of the body of Christ. (Eph. 4:11, 12.)

The work of building the Church, which included especially the laying of the foundation, belonged to the Apostles; the ministerial work generally was performed by those called prophets and evangelists, who were the assistants of the Apostles; but the perfecting work, that of furthering the continual progress of the saints in a religious life, was carried on by stationary pastors and teachers. See similar instances in Mt 7:6, and 1 Cor. 1:24, 25.


As to רשא, I may here state the result of a minute examination as to the Book of Psalm. It is found there as a relative, and as an adverb, about a hundred and seven times; about forty times as a nominative to verbs; nearly thirty times as an adverb or conjunction, for, because, that, whom, how, whose, etc.; in a few instances, in construction with nouns to which are affixed pronouns in the same case, as exemplified in a previous note; in twenty-six instances governed by verbs in the objective case, without any pronouns affixed to the verbs; and five times, according to our version, accompanied by pronouns when thus circumstanced. But in these five instances our version seems to me to be incorrect, the construction being inconsistent with what appears to be the common usage of the language. The passages are the following, Ps 1:5; Ps 8:3; Ps 88:5; Ps 94:12; and Ps 107:2; רשא should be when in the first, how in the second, where in the third, when in the fourth, and that in the fifth, or how. as it is sometimes rendered in our version. In the first twelve chapters of Deuteronomy, there are at least a hundred instances of רשא being governed in a transitive sense; and in no case it has a corresponding pronoun after the verb, but there are several instances of this, when governed by an intransitive verb — such as the following, “A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness,” literally, “A land which without scarceness thou shalt in it eat bread.”

Next: Chapter 20