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Suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.
How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
For my people is foolish, they have not known me;
They are sottish children, and they have none understanding:
They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form, and void;
And the heavens, and they had no light.
I beheld the mountains, and lo, they trembled,
And all the hills moved lightly.
I beheld, and lo, there was no man,
And all the birds of the heavens were fled.
I beheld, and lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness,
is spoiled] assuming that this had already taken place; so certain -was it.
tents] This seems not merely a name for dwellings, retained from nomadic times, but a representation of the real state of things with much of the pastoral and agricultural part of the nation even then. Compare for the expression 2 Sam. xviii. 17, xx. 1; 1 Kings viii. 66, xii. 16.
curtains] another way of saying tents; so x. 20; Cant. i. 5; Is. liv. 2.
21. standard] as above in ver. 6.
trumpet] not as summoning hosts to battle, but admonishing fugitives to hasten their flight. Those who have not yet fled for refuge to the cities are constantly warned of fresh reason for so doing. The term is prolonged, and the end of it is not in sight. How long shall this state of things last?
22. For] The last verse contained an appeal addressed to God to know the cause why this invasion was permitted. This verse contains God's reply. It is not without cause, for, etc.
known] had regard to.
23. The prophet sees in vision the vastness of the desolation that is coming upon the land. It is a return to the state of things described in the History of the Creation. Matter is as yet lying '' without form and void." Wildness, solitude, and general disorder are indicated. All is chaotic.
24. moved lightly] In spite of their vast size they were shaken to and fro as though they were "a very little thing."
25. all the birds of the heavens were fled] as expecting some dread convulsion of nature,
26. the fruitful'place] Heb. Carmel, (see ii. 7), probably taken And all the cities thereof were broken down
At the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger.
27—31. The suffering and dismay that shall attend upon the overthrow of the kingdom cannot by any devices be averted.
27 For thus hath the Lord said,
The whole land shall be desolate;
Yet will I not make a full end. as For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black:
Because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, And will not repent, neither will I turn back from it. a9 The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen andjbowmen;
however here as representing the most fruitful portions of the land in general.
a wilderness] literally, the wilderness, i.e. "changed into the wilderness with all its attributes" (Hitzig, as quoted by Keil). There is a complete reversal of the natural features of the soil.
"In no country is the contrast between the glorious past and the miserable present so startling and sad ..The whole land is a venerable ruin." (Through Bible Lands, p. 387, P. Schaff., D.D., New York, 1878).
27—31. The Suffering And Dismay That Shall Attend Upon The Overthrow Of The Kingdom Cannot By Any Devices Be Averted.
27. This is no mere picture or flight of fancy, but a tremendous reality, For, etc.
yet will I not make a full end] The overthrow shall not be such as that which sooner or later befalls all other kingdoms. The contrast between the chosen people and the rest of the nations is thus very remarkable, as is also the frequency and consistency with which the promise of final deliverance appears even in the midst of the severest threatenings. This feature of prophecy is found as early as Lev. xxvi. 44. Compare chap. v. 10; also Is. vi. 13, xi. 11, 16; Ezek. xx. 34; Amos ix. 8: Mic. ii. 12.
28. For this] because of the desolation of the whole land.
be black] be in mourning from sympathy. Observe in the latter part of the verse the emphatic assurance of the certainty of the coming woe.
29. This verse is in point of fact the resumed description of the desolating effect of the invasion, verses 27, 28 being almost a parenthesis.
The whole city] Every city. That this is the right rendering is shewn by the last word of the verse, which is literally in them (not, in it).
They shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks:
deckest thee with ornaments of gold, Though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt
thou make thyself fair;
A new feature is thus introduced into the description. Not only shall the country people flee to Jerusalem, but the inhabitants of the various towns as well. The whole city would mean Jerusalem only. 'City' is here used for its inhabitants, as in i Sam. iv. 13 ("all the city cried out").
bowmen] These formed the chief feature in the armies of the Assyrians. See Layard's Monuments of Nineveh.
thickets] The word in the original according to the pure Hebrew use means clouds, but in local dialects it came to be used in the sense in which Jeremiah here employs it.
rocks] These, and the caves which they contained, were often used as places of refuge in the course of Jewish history. See chap. xvi. 16, also Judges vi. 2; 1 Sam. xiii. 6; and compare Is. ii. 19, 21.
30. And when thou art spoiled] And thou, plundered one. The singular is put collectively for the plural. Compare ver. 31 'the daughter of Zion;' so also Ps. xlv. 12 ("the daughter of Tyre," meaning Tyrian maidens).
rentest thy face with painting] This is illustrated by an Egyptian "practice universal among the females of the higher and middle classes and very common among those of the lower orders, which is that of blackening the edge of the eyelids both above and below the eye with a black powder called kohl. This is a collyrium commonly composed of the smoke black, which is produced by burning a kind of liban, an aromatic resin, a species of frankincense. ...Kohl is also prepared of the smoke black produced by burning the shells of almonds....Antimony, it is said, was formerly used for painting the edges of the eyelids. The kohl is applied with a small probe of wood, ivory, or silver, tapering towards the end, but blunt: this is moistened, sometimes with rosewater, then dipped in the powder and drawn along the edges of the eyelids....The custom of thus ornamenting the eyes prevailed among both sexes in Egypt in very ancient times: this is shewn by the sculptures and paintings in the temples and tombs of this country, and iohl-vesseh with the probes and even with remains of the black powder have often been found in the ancient tombs " (Lane's Modern Egyptians, vol. i. pages 45, 46).
rentest thy face] dividest thine eyes, forcibly partest thine eyelids, i.e. by the process above described. Rent is the older form of rend and is the present not the past tense. It now occurs here only, but in older editions of the Bible is found in eleven other passages. As instances of its use in Shakespeare, compare
Thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life. 31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and
the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, The voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself,
that spreadeth her hands, Saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because
Chap. V. r—9. Is the punishment too severe 1 Nay; God cannot but punish the wickedness that prevails among high and low alike.
5 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and
"And will you rent our ancient love asunder."
Alids. NighCs Dr. iii. 2. 215. "Where sighes and groanes, and shrieks that rent the ayre Are made, not mark'd."
Macbeth, iv. 3 (Ed. 1623). (The Bible-Word Book, by Eastwood and Wright.) thy lovers] those whom thou wouldest have as paramours, those for whose support thou earnest on intrigues (ii. 33, 36) are the very ones, O Jerusalem, who seek thy hurt.
31. Thy wiles shall have no effect; for already I hear thy cries of agony and dismay.
that bewaileth herself] she slgheth.
that spreadeth her hands] she streteheth out her hands (in the attitude of a suppliant).
is wearied] sinketh exhausted.
Chap. V. 1—9. Is The Punishment Too Severe? Nay; God CanNot BUT PUNISH THE WICKEDNESS THAT PREVAILS AMONG HIGH AND LOW ALIKE.
1. Bun ye to and fro] Instead of saying simply that good men were difficult or impossible to find in Jerusalem, the prophet seeks to arrest the attention by challenging his hearers to find one by a thorough and extensive search. The last words of the verse are evidently an allusion to the history contained in Gen. xviii. 23—33. As Abraham obtained by a series of requests that- ten righteous found within Sodom should procure its safety, so here one godly man is to do the like for Jerusalem. The statement, as seeming to imply that there was not even an individual exception to the universal depravity that reigned there, has caused to some a difficulty which they have sought to evade by saying that the righteous would be afraid to walk abroad, and so would remain shut up, as did Jeremiah and Baruch after the publication of the contents of the roll in the time of Jehoiakim. Others have taken see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. And though » they say, The Lord liveth; surely they swear falsely. O 3 Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive "correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return. Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: 4 for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God. I will get me unto the great men, and will s
this verse as proof that the prophecy must be later than Josiah. There is however no need of adopting either of these views. The words were never meant to be taken literally. They are but an emphatic and lively way of stating what was doubtless the case even towards the end of Josiah's reign, viz.—that the little good that was left in the land was driven out of sight by the prevailing wickedness, and exercised no appreciable effect upon it. Some righteous were then left, even as later in the time of Zedekiah the last king of Judah (xxiv. 5).
broad places] the market-places and other chief places of resort.
executeth] doeth. Execute has acquired a more contracted and formal sense since the time when the Eng. Version was made.
truth] sincerity, good faith; by no means confined to truth in words.
2. Though they take the most solemn form of oath, as opposed to those by heaven, by the earth, by Jerusalem, by the head, (Matt. v. 34, 35,) which were all held to be less binding, they yet use it to give weight to a lie. See note on iv. 2.
3. The reply of the messengers as to the result of their search.
the truth] sincerity. See ver. 1. They have thought to please Thee by outward blandishments and the appearance of reverence, but Thou hast seen their heart.
they have made their faces harder than a rock] Compare Ezek. iii. 7-9
4. Therefore] And.
The prophet thinks, surely it is poverty and ignorance that misleads them.
foolish] The same word is rendered "dote" in chap. I. 36. It seems however if not to include at least to be nearly akin to the sense of sinful. SeeNumb.xii.11.
the way of the Lord] the way prescribed by God to man that he should walk in it.
the judgment of their God] that which God judges or decrees to be right and lawful. The rendering of the word in 2 Kings xvii. 26 well illustrates its meaning here. The Samaritan immigrants "knew not the manner of the God of the land."