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Because our dwellings have cast us out.
Yet hear the word of the Lord, O ye women, 20
And let your ear receive the word of his mouth,
And teach your daughters wailing,
And every one her neighbour lamentation.
For death is come up into our windows, and is entered «
into our palaces, To cut off the children from without, and the young men
from the streets. Speak, Thus saith the Lord, 11 Even the carcases of men shall fall as dung upon the open
And as the handful after the harvestman, and none shall gather them.
23—26. 77ie knowledge of God and of His judgments is
after all the principal thing. Thus saith the Lord, 23
our dwellings have cast us out] more probably, they (the enemy) have cast down our dwellings. That the Hebrew verb can be used in this sense is shewn by Dan. viii. 11" the place of his sanctuary was cast down." The occurrence to which the prophet refers is recorded 2 Kings xxv. 9.
20. Rosenmuller thinks that the women in particular are called upon to lament, because it was they who were the leaders in the idolatry that had brought about this ruin. He compares chap. xliv. 15—19. It seems more probable that they are addressed thus, as those who should naturally in accordance with custom lead the lament. Compare 2 Sam. i. 34. Such will be the mortality, that the ordinary mourners will by no means suffice.
Yet] For, connected in thought with "let them make haste," etc. (ver. 18). There is a further reason for assembling, besides lamentation. Ye must impart to your daughters and neighbours your own skill.
21. Death works in a twofold manner, viz.—within and without. In the shape of famine and sickness he steals in at the windows as a thief (compare Joel ii. 9) and the greatest houses are not exempted from his visit: he also cuts off the young and vigorous in the open (Compare Zech. viii. 5)
22. Speak, Thus saith the Lord] The very abruptness of this break gives it force and point.
the handful after the harvestman] either (i) that which should be bound up with others into sheaves by one following the actual wielder of the sickle, or, perhaps better, (ii) the handful forgotten by the reaper, and left in the field. The neglect, and not the scanty amount, of the leavings will thus be the point of the comparison.
and none shall gather them] perhaps, which (handful) none gathers.
Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Neither let the mighty man glory in his might, Let not the rich man glory in his riches: '4 But let him that glorieth glory in this, That he understandeth and knoweth me, That I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: For in these things I delight, saith the Lord. 35 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord,
That I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; =6 Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab,
And all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness:
23—26. The Knowledge Of God And Of His Judgments Is After All The Principal Thing.
23. From this verse to the end of the whole prophecy (x. 25) Jeremiah sets forth the folly of trusting to man's devices, and specially to the idols, the works of his hands. As examples of men who trusted severally in wisdom, might, riches, an ancient Jewish Commentary gives Solomon, Samson (deceived by a woman and hence meeting his death), Ahab.
24. The first part of the verse is quoted in the form "he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (1 Cor. i. 31; 2 Cor. x. 17).
understandeth and knoweth] The former relates rather to the intellect, the latter to the emotions, the heart.
lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness] He who understands and knows God as shewing forth these qualities, will himself be conformed to His image. Israel as a nation had utterly failed in this respect
25. They shall therefore share the fate of all other nations that recognise not God.
all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised] all (that are) circumcised in (their) uncircumcision, all who, even though possessors of the outward pledge of God's favour, are without purity of heart.
26. Egypt, and Judah, and Edom] The position of Judah between Egypt and Edom is a mark of degradation.
that are in the utmost corners] that have the corners of their hair polled, Herodotus (Book iii. 8) ascribes this custom to the Arabs, viz.:—cutting off the hair from the edges of the beard, and from the temples. The practice was forbidden to the Israelites (Lev. xix. 27). See chap. xlix. 28, and 32 with note, shewing that there at least the tribes referred to are those of Kedar.
the wilderness] the desert of Arabia, eastward of Palestine.
For all these nations are uncircumcised, And all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.;
Chap. X. i—16. The folly of idolatry.
Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O 10
house of Israel: Thus saith the Lord, i 'a
Learn not the way of the heathen,
all these nations are uncircumcised] Herodotus indeed seems to make the Egyptians to have practised this rite (Book ii. 36, 37, 104), but he probably means to refer only to their princes and priests.
uncircumcised in the heart] and thus virtually on a par with the nations, to whom in outward rite they were superior.
Chap. X. 1—16. The Folly Of Idolatry.
Exception has been taken to this section, as a later insertion, and three arguments are brought against it. (i) It introduces a break in the sense, the passage not cohering with that which has gone before, (ii) It must from its subject matter be addressed to a people already in exile, (iii) Its language differs much from that of Jeremiah. It has accordingly been referred to the writer of Isaiah xl.—lxvi, who is thought by many on account of difference of style not to be the author of the earlier part of that Book. We reply to (i) that there is a natural connexion between this section and chap. ix. 24, "I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth;" to (ii) that there was as much need of warning the people against that idolatry which was daily increasing in strength among them while still at home, as there was afterwards, when suffering the consequences of it as captives; to (iii) that in several verses Jeremiah's peculiar expressions are found, e.g. vain, vanity, applied to idols (verses 3, 15), and that at any rate the language is by no means that of the later portion of Isaiah (see specially chaps, xl. xli. xliv. xlv, where the same subject is dealt with). The author of the spurious letter from Jeremiah to the exiles of Babylon, which forms chap. vi. in the Apocryphal Book of Baruch, seems to have drawn his matter and language to a large extent from this section together with chap. xxix. 1—23. There is undoubtedly in this whole chapter less smoothness and connexion between the parts than we generally find in Jeremiah. This however is no proof whatever that such smoothness and connexion did not exist in the sermon of which this forms the conclusion, since it is quite likely that that conclusion has been preserved to us only in a fragmentary form.
It is strongly in favour of the genuineness of the section that it is found in the earliest Greek (Septuagint) Version in spite of the frequent omissions which there occur.
And be not dismayed at the signs of heaven;
3 For the customs of the people are vain:
The work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold;
They fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move
5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not:
6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord;
2. the signs of heaven] not the sun, moon and stars (which should be for signs, etc. Gen. i. 14), nor the signs of the Zodiac, but heavenly portents, comets, meteors and the like.
For the heathen are dismayed at them] This is given not as the reason why the Israelites were likely to fall into this sin (through force of example), but as the reason why it was sinful and forbidden.
3. customs] ordinances. people] nations.
vain] vanity, Jeremiah's word for an idol.
For one cutteth a tree] For it is wood, that one hath cut.
4. The idol is covered with plates of silver and gold, and secured to its place.
It is clear in spite of certain distinctions of language noticed above, that Is. xl—xliv. is closely connected with these verses. Either then (a) Jeremiah borrowed from Isaiah, in which case the whole of Isaiah in accordance with the traditional belief was written before the Babylonian captivity; or (b) the writer of those chapters borrowed from Jeremiah, which is refuted by the differences of style; or(^) the section is an insertion in Jeremiah by a later author; but then it would hardly appear in the Septuagint (see above). Sp. Comm.
(Other instances of possible quotation from the later portion of Isaiah on the part of Jeremiah are v. 25—Is. lix. 2; xii. 1—Is. lvii. 1; xii. 9—Is. lvi. 9; xiii. 16—Is. lix. 9; xiv. 7—Is. lix. 12; xlviii. 18— Is. xlvii. 1. Dean Payne Smith, The Authenticity, etc. of Isaiah Vindicated, p. 107.)
8. upright as the palm tree] as a pillar of turned work, a pillar resembling a palm tree. These idols are stiff and lifeless as such. Others render "like pillars in a garden of cucumbers," in which sense the Hebrew word is found in Is. i. 8. That this was the sense in which the Jews themselves understood it at the time when the book of Baruch was written appears from the verse (Baruch vi. 79) evidently based on this, "as a scarecrow in a garden of cucumbers."
6. Forasmuch as there is none] None at all is. The Hebrew has a Thou art great, and thy name is great in might.
Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee 7
doth it appertain: Forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations,
and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee. But they are altogether brutish and foolish: g The stock is a doctrine of vanities.
Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, 9 And gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: double negative, thus emphasizing the denial. The English Version has misunderstood one of the negatives, and so rendered it forasmuch as.
7. doth it appertain] it is fitting. "Thine is the kingdom" is the comment of the Chaldee paraphrase, which exactly hits the sense.
wise men] wise ones, gods included.
8. altogether] The Hebrew is in one and had therefore best be rendered by the two words all together rather than simply by a word equivalent to wholly.
The stock is a doctrine of vanities] The teaching of idols is (a piece of) wood. The sense is not that the block of wood teaches foolishness, but that it can never in the instruction wh'ch it gives go beyond itself. As water cannot rise above its source, so the idol is wood and can never get beyond it.
9. The grammatical construction of the two verses is closer than would appear from the Eng. Version, "a piece of wood, silver beaten into plates, from Tarshish it is brought, etc."
Tarshish] either (i) Tarsus in Cilicia (Josephus); or (ii) Carthage (the Septuagint); or (Hi) Tartessus in Spain. This last is the generally received opinion now. The mineral products supplied by Tarshish to Tyre, silver, iron, tin and lead (Ezek. xxvii. 12), were exactly those in which Spain was rich. In Strabo's time the port had ceased to exist; hence the confusion as to the locality.
Uphaz] "Probably Uphaz was a place in the neighbourhood of the river Hyphasis (now the Gharra, the S.E. limit of the Punjab), the Sanscrit name for which is Vipac,a." Sp. Comm. Many however identify it with Ophir (there being a considerable similarity in the Hebrew words), about whose position there are very wide differences of opinion, the chief views being (i) India (Josephus); (ii) India or the east coast of Arabia, at any rate some place where Sanscrit was the language spoken, (Max Muller, Sc. of Lang. Ed. vi. vol. i. 230); (iii) Africa, so Milton,
"Mombasa, and Quiloa and Melind