« AnteriorContinuar »
11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth
12 not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be
13 horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
11. a nation] Not meaning any nation, for it was true of Israel that they had done this, but any heathen nation, according to the force of the Hebrew word.
■which are yet no gods] Therefore it need not have occasioned surprise, if their worshippers had at some time deserted them.
their glory] Him, through Whom they had attained pre-eminence over all other nations, or better, Him to Whom all honour and glory were due. This latter accords more with the passage "Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass" (Ps. cvi. so).
12. be ye very desolate] Literally, be ye dry. By a figure common in all poetry nature is called upon to adapt herself, as though a living being, to the complexion of human affairs. So "He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people." "And the heavens shall declare his righteousness" (Ps. 1. 4, 6). "Sing, O ye heavens...shout, ye lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob and glorified himself in Israel" (Is. xliv. 23). "Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted" (Is. xlix. 13). So here the heavens are bid to shrivel up in horror at the behaviour of the people.
13. For my people have committed two evils] The one sin of the heathen is idolatry, whereas this people have in addition renounced the service of God.
the fountain of living waters] More properly the reservoir (tank) into which living waters (those of wells and streams) are drawn and where they are stored. Isaiah (xliv. 3) had already spoken of God's blessing under this figure, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon thy seed and my blessing upon thine offspring," a passage to which our Lord perhaps alludes in John vii. 37—39.
cisterns] These were very familiar objects to those whom the prophet addressed. "There are thousands of these ancient cisterns in upper Galilee, where Josephus says there were two hundred and forty cities in his day, and the site of every one was pierced like a honeycomb with them" (Thomson, The Land and the Book, p. 287). It was no doubt into such a one that Joseph was cast by his brethren.
14—30. Wickedness and obstinacy and consequent calamities of Israel.
Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he 14 spoiled? The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and 15
broken cisterns, that can hold no water] "No comparison could more keenly rebuke the madness of a people who changed their glory for that which doth not profit. The best cisterns, even those in solid rock, are strangely liable to crack...and if by constant care they are made to hold, yet the water collected from clay roofs or from marly soil has the colour of weak soapsuds, the taste of the earth or the stable, is full of worms, and in the hour of greatest need it utterly fails...1 have never been able to tolerate this cistern water except in Jerusalem, where they are kept with scrupulous care, and filled from roofs both clean and hard" (ibid.). The failure of the broken cistern, discovered at the moment of need, is the point of the comparison made by the prophet.
14—30. Wickedness And Obstinacy And Consequent CalaMities Of Israel.
14. Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave?] The relationship of master and servant, in our sense of the words, as a contract was unknown among the Jews. Domestic service was discharged by slaves, who might be roughly divided into two classes, (i) those captured in war or bought, (ii) those born and brought up in their master's house. For the latter there was more opportunity of escape from servitude than for the former. On the other hand the position of the latter was often preferable. Iri general the condition of the slave depended much on the character of his master, and from this consideration have sprung two different explanations of the passage. Some understand the questions as meaning, Israel is the object of God's most careful protection. Me is His most cherished possession, a member of His family. How is it then that he has been spoiled? The answer is given in ver. 17. Others take it thus :—Is Israel a slave, subject to all the miseries of such a lot, a prey to each whim of a cruel master? Far as this would seem from the truth, we are yet driven to suppose that his state is in no way superior to this, for he has been spoiled and carried captive. This latter explanation falls in better with the form of the enquiries, as compared with the somewhat similar passages ver. 31, viii. 4, xiv. 19 ; and specially with xxii. 28, xlix. 1. The prophet no doubt has in particular before his view the captivity of the Ten Northern Tribes.
IB. The young lions roared upon him, and yelled] This may be meant literally as what befell the land of Israel after the captivity of the Ten Tribes, and the introduction of the inhabitants of foreign cities in their room (2 Kings xvii. 25). It is more likely however to have reference to the cruelties practised upon the exiles by their captors, as Well as to the frequent Assyrian invasions. Compare for this figure of speech words spoken by Isaiah (v. 29) of an attacking host, "Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions; yea, they
they made his land waste: his cities are burnt without
16 inhabitant. Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes
17 have broken the crown of thy head. Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord
18 thy God, when he led thee by the way? And now what
shall roar and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe and none shall deliver it." See also Mic. v. 8.
burnt] Many prefer to render the Hebrew, are levelled to the ground.
16. Alsd] Even. The sense is, those in whom thou most trustedst. JVoph'] either a town in the South of Egypt, or, as it is more generally
taken, Memphis the capital of Lower (i.e. Northern) Egypt, the word Noph representing some colloquial Shemitic or Egyptian pronunciation of the name.
Tahapanes] The Greek Daphnae Pelusii, which Herodotus mentions (Book ii. 30) as a town in which a garrison was maintained against the Syrians and Arabians. It bears an important part in the history contained in the later chapters. Johanan and the other captains went there in disobedience to the words of the prophet (xliii. 7). We gather from this that it was one of the towns of Egypt nearest to the border of Palestine. Jeremiah here prophesies that Egypt shall be smitten by Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews continued during Jeremiah's time to dwell there. The towns of Noph and Tahapanes would both be well known to the Jews even in Josiah's day, the former as a capital city, the latter from its local position.
have broken] Or, if the present Heb. text is right, shall feed upon. The tense in the original makes it more likely that a prophecy is intended, while 'feed upon,' the proper sense of the verb, is illustrated by the mention of shepherds (captains of hostile armies) in vi. 3, xii. 10. It is possible, however, that a past event may be referred to, such as the attack upon Jerusalem by Shishak, king of Egypt, in the reign of Rehoboam, son of Solomon. In this case the sense will be, Egypt has in past times shewn what she could do as a foe. Do not seek to ally yourselves with her now.
the crown of thy head] Baldness was considered among the Jews a reproach. This is shewn in the history of Elisha (2 Kings ii. 23. See also Jer. xlviii. 45). Or the sense may be, afflict thee, cause thee to mourn, a shaven head being a sign of mourning (Is. iii. 24, xv. 2, xxii. 12).
17. Has not thy desertion of God in old time brought upon thee this trouble?
when he led thee by the way] Way is not here used in the secondary sense that it often bears as 'way of sinners,' 'way of the righteous,' 'way of the ungodly,' but, as is shewn by its meaning in the next two verses, in the sense of a literal path or journey, viz.—that through the wilderness. The worship of the golden calf and of Baal-peor was but the earliest exhibition of that same idolatrous spirit, which had broken out hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? Thine own wickedness shall 19 correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know
again and again, was now so terribly prevalent, and formed the cause of the calamities which beset the kingdom.
18. what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt] The thought is the same as that expressed by Isaiah (xxx. 1—3) "Woe to the rebellious children..-that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth...Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion." Ever since the time when Psammetichus king of Egypt reduced under his own sway the twelve separate kingdoms into which that country had been formed, there was a party of statesmen at Jerusalem who favoured an Egyptian alliance. To this party Jeremiah ceased not to oppose himself.
to drink the waters of Sihor] to hold communication with Egypt, and espouse its cause. The figure has been already suggested by the mention of fountains and cisterns (ver. 13).
Sihor] The word, which properly means turbid, is shewn by the context to be equivalent to the Nile, a word which itself denotes blue, or dark. On the other hand the same name (though perhaps in each case qualified by some explanatory addition) is sometimes at any rate given apparently to a much smaller river, near the Egyptian frontier.
what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria] It has been objected that Nineveh and with it the Assyrian empire had probably been some time before overthrown, and that of Babylon established upon its ruins. This however is far from certain, while, even granting it, the use of the old name Assyria presents no difficulty, as we have a parallel more than once in the case of this same empire. In 2 Kings (xxiii. 29) PharaohNechoh (on the occasion of the battle of Megiddo) is spoken of as going up "against the king of Assyria," meaning Nabopolassar; and again in the Book of Ezra (vi. 22) Darius is spoken of under the same title. It is very possible however that the mention of Assyria is to be quite otherwise explained; that the prophet, as in ver. 16 (see notes there), is speaking of past acts. Both Israel and Judah had vacillated for many reigns between Egypt and Assyria. Menahem king of Israel bribed Pul king of Assyria to support him, and to him also his successors Pekahiah and Pekah seem to have looked, while Hoshea, who ended the line of Israel, sought the aid of Egypt. Hezekiah looked towards Egypt, Josiah met his death in fighting against it and on behalf of the Eastern empire, Assyria's successor. Thus subservience now to one now to the other quarter was a familiar thought to those whom Jeremiah addressed.
to drink the waters of the river] Euphrates, the great river, on which was built Babylon. Compare Is. viii. 7, "Now the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory." 19. Thine own wickedness shall correct thee] Thy misdeeds shall therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts. For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot. Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right
bear their own punishment with them. Correct in the sense (now grow-, ing obsolete) of chastise. So " Correct thy son and he shall give thee rest" (Prov. xxix. 17). The word occurs several times in Jeremiah iu this sense (x. 24, xxx. 11, xlvi. 28).
and that my fear] depending on "it is an evil thing and bitter." In other words the evil and bitterness is twofold; (a) desertion, (b) indifference.
my fear] The fear of me.
20. / have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands] A reference to the deliverance from slavery in Egypt. It is possible however to render the original as a continuance of the words of reproof contained in the previous verses; Thou didst break thy yoke &c, i.e. thou didst cast off all allegiance to Me, thy Maker.
transgress] serve. Transgress is no doubt a later reading formed by a very slight change in one of the letters of the verb in the original.
when] for. The Hebrew word possesses both senses. The only reason however for its having that of when is removed by the correction of the preceding word.
wanderest] bowest down. The reference is to the rendering of idolatrous worship, renouncing of allegiance to the true God Who has espoused the people to Himself, and readiness to do homage to any and every object beside.
21. a noble vine] a Sorek vine, the word Sorek probably referring to the colour of the fruit, a vine bearing dark-purple grapes. It is the "choice vine" spoken of by Jacob in his blessing of his sons (Gen. xlix. n).
vine] the first plant the cultivation of which is recorded in the Bible (Gen. ix. 20). The dream of Pharaoh's butler and the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian sculptures shew that it was cultivated early in Egypt and Assyria, while the same is proved for Palestine by the frequent mention of it in Scripture and the numerous remains of winepresses hewn out of the rock. In the Temple over the gates leading to the Holy Place was an extensive vine ornamentation "from which hung clusters of grapes the length of a man's stature." It was made from the gold offered from time to time in the temple and was the embodiment of a symbol often used by the prophets. "The charge made against the Jews, that they worshipped Bacchus, probably rose from this temple ornament; and it is not impossible that our Lord may have had a reference to it, when He spoke of Himself as the True Vine" (St John xv. 1). (See Geikie's Life and Words of Christ, i. 552.)