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turned unto others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord. For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down,

I will stretch out my hand] Compare for this phrase "He hath stretched forth his hand against them and hath smitten them," Is. v.. 25.

13. That the calamity will come from the Lord is declared in the latter part of ver. 12. The cause of it is here given.

from the least of them even unto the greatest of them] Already in chap. v. 5 Jeremiah had gone from the poor to the rich with the vain hope that in the latter he should find the good which the former lacked.

is given to covetousness] is greedy of gain, not necessarily implying the hankering after that which is one's neighbour's, although this would naturally accompany an inordinate love of gain, as well as be suggested by the previous verse.

14. They] the leaders, prophets and priests.
the hurt] the shortcomings and sins of the nation.

of the daughter of my people] of my people collectively; see ver. 2 above.

slightly] making nothing of it is the literal rendering of the earliest Greek version (the Septuagint). These leaders are like worthless surgeons. They refuse to examine or probe the wounds of those who are under their charge, and for the sake of their own ease assure their patients that all is well.

15. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?] They are brought to shame, because they have committed abomination. This part of the verse is made interrogative in the English in order to avoid the difficulty which the seeming contradiction contained in the following words produces. Others have rendered They ought to have been ashamed. The sense of the whole however is simply, the shamefulness which really belonged to their acts they were too hardened to feel.

nay, they were not at all ashamed] yet they take not shame to themselves.

among them that fall] They shall not escape, when their countrymen whom they have led astray suffer. visit] Compare for this expression ver. 6. be cast down] stumble.

saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the 16 ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Also 117 set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. Therefore is hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among

16. The beginning of the third section, see ver. 1.

Take up your position on the public roads, and enquire which of the branching paths is the old established one. It will prove the good path, and that which alone ye may follow with divine sanction. Under this figure Jeremiah urges upon the people to enquire how their fathers walked, and what their course of conduct was, and thus to convince themselves that the precepts and threatenings which God put forth now were no new truths.

the good way] literally, the way of the good. Good is iri the Hebrew a substantive. The sense is not that there are many old ways, amongst which by enquiry ye may find the best; but that the search for old paths will ensure their finding that one path which God approves. "Look enquiringly backwards to ancient history (Deut. xxxii. 7) and see how success and enduring prosperity forsook your fathers when they left the way prescribed to (them by God, to walk in the ways of the heathen (Jer. xviii. 15); learn that there is but one way, the way of the fear of the Lord, in which blessing and salvation are to be found" (Jer. xxxii. 39, 40). (Graf as quoted by Keil.)

17. watchmen] sentinels (2 Sam. xiii. 34, xviii. 54—27), and thence used figuratively for the prophets (e.g. Ezek. iii. 17, xxxiii. 7).

over you] If we have regard to the 3rd person which follows (" they said") this you should be them. The 2nd person is accounted for by the fact that the address on the part of God to the people was still in the prophet's mind.

the sound of the trumpet] the mode of announcing the approach of danger. (Compare ver. 1; Amos iii. 6.) As sentinels are posted on the walls of a city to warn the inhabitants of the enemy's approach, so have the true prophets of the nation warned them of the consequences of their ways.

18. The Gentiles are summoned to bear witness to the justice of the punishment.

O congregation] This has been understood to refer to (i) righteous Jews, (ii) Gentiles, (iii) both together, (iii) appears the least likely of these, and (ii) on the whole the best, from the parallelism of the clauses. If we make the reference to be to the Jews, we have the awkwardness of thus diminishing the width of the appeal, while at once in ver. 19 it is again extended to the whole 'earth.'

what is among them] This again is obscure. Does it refer to (i) their wickedness, or (ii) its penalty? Probably the latter, from the

them. Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it. To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will lay stumblingblocks before this people, and the fathers and the

words of the next verse, and thus the Latin Vulgate renders. The sense therefore is, know what great things 1 will do to them.

19. The conclusion of the threefold appeal. Thus God pledges Himself as it were in the sight of the whole world, that He will no longer forbear.

/] Emphatic in the Hebrew. They are to take notice that it is God who speaks.

fruit of their thoughts] Compare "fruit of their doings" (spoken however of the righteous), Is. iii. io, and "the reward of the wicked's hands" in ver. 11. Here things are traced further towards their source.

20. "To obey is better than sacrifice" (r Sam. xv. 22). The uselessness of ceremonial, if the heart be cold, is set forth elsewhere by Isaiah (i. Pi); Hosea (vi. 6); Amos (v. 21, &c.)j Mic. (vi. 6); and in the Psalms (1. 8).

incense from Sheba} Compare Virgil's mention of the honour paid to Venus at Paphos, "Centumque Sabaeo'Ture calent arae" (Aen. I. 416—7): Incense (frankincense) was the resin of coniferous trees, and the true sort was obtained from the south' of Arabia (Sheba=Yemen = Arabia Felix) or the opposite coast of Africa. Theophrastus and others attest this. Ecclus. i. 8 (Apocrypha) however speaks of a tree growing in' Palestine and known as the frankincense tree. The Israelites a year after leaving Egypt were commanded (Exod. xxx. 34) to use frankincense, and as there was no tree iff Egypt which would produce it, they must have either used the gum or resin of some tree in the wilderness, or somehow procured a supply from a greater distance. See J. Smith's History of Bible Plants, pp. r'73—6.

the sweet cane] Compare Is. xliii. 24, and ("sweet calamus") Exod. xxx. 23, and ("calamus") Cant. iv. 14; Ezek. xxvii. 19. "It was probably what is now known in India as the Lemon Grass (Andropogon Schoenanthus). Aromatic reeds were known to the ancients as the produce of India and the region of the Euphrates" (Sp. Comm. Exod. /. c). J. Smith (see above) on the other hand takes the sweet cane to be the sugar cane. "Although the art of making sugar from them was probably then unknown to the Jews, the canes would nevertheless be highly valued for sweetening food or drink" (pp. 33—4).

21. stumblingblocks] the invasion of the enemy, which shall as it were trip them up in their easy-going ways.

sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbour and his friend shall perish. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth. They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion. We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail. Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and fear is on every side. O daughter

the fathers and the sons together] There shall be a general and promiscuous destruction.

22. The last of the four sections.

from the north country] See note on i. 14. shall be raised] shall rouse itself.

the sides of the earth] an expression for the far distance, the extremity of the earth. Compare xxv. 32 ("the coasts of the earth"); Ps. xlviii. 2; Is. xiv. 13. It has been supposed from the terms of this verse that the Scythians must be the enemy spoken of. Chap. xxxi. 8 however, which gives these very epithets to the country whither Israel was carried captive, shews that we may quite as fairly interpret them of Chaldaea.

23. cruel] "The word means ruthless, inhuman. In the Assyrian monuments we constantly see warriors putting the vanquished to death; in others, rows of impaled victims hang round the walls of the besieged towns; and in others, men are collecting in heaps hands cut from the vanquished. Sennacherib even boasts that he salted the heads of slaughtered Edomites, and sent them in wicker baskets to Nineveh." (Sp. Comm.)

they ride upon horses] Compare iv. 13, viii. 16.

set in array as men for war] equipped as a man for war. This should begin a new sentence. The verb is in the singular in the Hebrew, and thus means not the horsemen, but the whole army.

24. Jeremiah places himself in the position of his fellow-countrymen on the arrival of the news.

fame] report. Compare Gen. xlv. 16, "And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house," &c.

2B. the sword of the enemy] literally, (there is) a sword to the enemy, i. e. the enemy is armed. Elsewhere the enemy is himself spoken of as the instrument in God's hands, e.g. Isaiah x. 5, "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation." Ps. xvii. 13 is an instance only if the rendering of the English Version be accurate, which is at the least doubtful.

and fear is on every side] The and should be omitted. The remaining words are a favourite expression with Jeremiah. Borrowing from of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us. 271 have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, =3 that thou mayest know and try their way. They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and 29 iron; they are all corrupters. The bellows are burnt, the

Ps. xxxi. 13, he uses them chap. xx. 3, 10, xlvi. 5, xlix. 29. See especially notes on the first-named chapter.

26. daughter of my people] collective, as in chap. iv. 11. Compare vi. 2.

wallow thyself in] This is probably right, as also in chap. xxv. 34; Ezek. xxvii. 30; Mic. i. 10. The earlier rendering was sprinkle thyself with. The Hebrew word is thought by Gesenius to be actually connected etymologically with the German walzen (our wallow).

as for an only son] The importance attributed by the Jews to the possession of children involved extreme grief, if posterity were thus cut off. Compare xxii. 30, and Amos viii. 10; Zech. xii. 10.

27—30. In these verses the Lord reassures Jeremiah of his divine commission. He appears under the figure of one testing metal, while after Jeremiah's manner the figure and the thing signified by it are intermingled in expression (see for other cases Introd. chap. ii. § 8 d). The result of the testing process is that no precious metal is found. All is dross.

27. a tower] a tester {frier). It was owing to a difficulty presented by the following substantives that this was rendered tower.

a fortress] probably the right rendering. Compare i. 18. Jeremiah is promised that he shall receive protection while carrying out the duty which so exasperates the people against him. The brief, parenthetical character of the assurance has caused difficulty. Other proposed renderings are (i) gold and silver ore, (ii) a cutter of ore, (iii) a separater. Beyond the fact however that the Hebrew root signifies to cut, much support cannot be had for these conjectures, while fortress is the ordinary sense which the word bears elsewhere.

28. grievous revolters] Heb. revolters of revolters, one of the ways of expressing the superlative in that language. Compare Gen. ix. 25. So Ezek. xxxii. 21, "The strong among (literally, of) the mighty."

walking with slanders] going about with slanderous intent. The same thought is expressed chap. ix. 4.

they are brass and iron] a recurrence to the metaphor, which is however again immediately deserted. They have none of the precious metal in them.

brass] copper.

29. The best rendering probably is The bellows glow; by reason of the fire the lead is used up; in vain hath the smelter smelted, and the wicked have not been separated.

are burnt] This is by no means an impossible rendering, denoting

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