6. Et ponam (vel, adjiciam) oculum meum super eos in beneficentiam, et reducam eos ad terram hanc, et aedificabo eos et non diruam, et plantabo eos et non evellam.
He confirms what he said in the last verse, but in other words, for it was difficult to persuade them that they were happier who were apparently lost, than those who still enjoyed some measure of safety. He had said that he would acknowledge them; but he now adds, I will set my eye upon them He uses a metaphor which often occurs in Scripture, for God is said to turn away his face when he hides his favor; and in the same sense he is said to forget, to depart, not to care, to despise, to cast away. Then, as God might have seemed to have no more any care for this people, he says, "I will set my eyes on them." But he goes even farther, for he refers to the sentence announced in the last verse -- he had said that he was the author of their exile, "I have cast them into the land of the Chaldeans" but he now confirms the same thing, though in other words, when he says, "Mine eyes will I set on them for good." For God is said to visit men, not only when he manifests his favor towards them, but also when he chastises them and punishes them for their sins. He had then set his eyes on them to execute punishment; he says now that he would act differently, that he would kindly treat the miserable.
He afterwards says, I will restore them For, as he had sent them away, it was in his power to restore them. As, then, he could heal the wound inflicted by his own hand, this promise ought to have been sufficient to dispel every doubt from the minds of the captives as to their return; and further, the Jews, who as yet remained in Jerusalem and in the land of Judah, ought to have known that they in vain boasted in their good lot, as though God treated them better than their captive brethren, for it was in his power to restore those whom he had banished.
And he adds, I will build and not pull them down, I will plant and not pluck them up This mode of speaking would not be so significant either in Latin or in Greek; but such a repetition, as it is well known, often occurs in Hebrew. But whenever a negative is added to an affirmative, such form of expression is to be thus interpreted, "I shall be so far from plucking them up, that I will plant them; I shall be so far from pulling them down, that I will build them up;" or, "since I had pulled them down, I will now build them up; since I had plucked them up, I will now plant them:" or a perpetuity may be meant, as though God had said, "I will plant them, so as not to pluck them again; I will build them, so as not to pull them down again." But the most frequent import of such expressions is what I first mentioned, "I will not pull them down, but on the contrary build them up; I will not pluck them up, but on the contrary plant them."
The meaning of the whole is, that however sad might be the calamities of the people in Chaldea, they being as exiles reduced to a desolate condition, yet God could collect them again, like one who plants a tree or builds a house. The metaphor of building is common in Scripture, and also that of planting. God is said to plant men, when he introduces a certain order among them, or when he allots to them a certain place to dwell in, or when he grants them peace and quietness. God is said in Psalm 44:2, to have planted his people; but I will not refer to the many passages which are everywhere to be met with. God often says that he had planted his vineyard. (Isaiah 5:2, etc.) And then well known is this passage,
"The branch of the Lord, and the planting for his glory." (Isaiah 60:21)
This is said of the preservation of the Church.
The meaning then is, that though God severely chastised the exiles who had been led into Chaldea, yet their condition was not to be estimated by one day, or a month, or a few years, but that a happy end was to be expected. And as God intended at length to shew himself reconcilable and propitious, it follows that the calamity which had happened to them was lighter than that which awaited the rest, who resolutely despised God and his prophets, and thus increased the vengeance which had been already denounced on them. It follows, --