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away from them, could here accomplish nothing. Thus the prophet is to send away the crowd assembled in the temple— whither? Answer: To destruction, which is a settled matter, and will come upon them in various forms. Like a fourfold scourge, the seer (ver. 2 f.) is to suspend his message of woe over the condemned in punishment for King Manasseh's sins, which are still unexpiated; see Introd. p. 15. God is weary of having mercy. Indeed, the judgment bursts ruthlessly forth in the gloomy description, vv. 7-9. The heartrending misery awaiting Judah is here sketched in a few strokes. Outside at the gates of the land the Lord has used His winnowing-fan with terrible effect, and nothing is left of Judah's stately army. The poor women are one day surprised by the foe breaking victoriously in, instead of returning sons and husbands.
XV. 10 ff. The mention of the nameless, unhappy mothers seems to have suggested to the prophet his own mother. Would she had never borne him! Cf. xx. 14 ff. God's harsh answer has robbed him of his last strength. He is at last weary of being the object of universal ill-will and hate, for no other reason than because he has to convey God's unwelcome message. Here is one of those moments of despondency which even an Elijah did not escape, and to which the sensitive Jeremiah, with his tragic destiny, was all the more exposed. The Lord indeed comforts him again by the firm assurance of His help: as little as iron breaks will he fail in his divine mission. But although calm and collected, he is still greatly disturbed in his joyous faith, and cleaves to his God, ver. 15: "Thou knowest! (whereas I do not see how I can endure it). . . . Carry me not away, let me not perish in my weakness and unfitness for so dangerous a task. And know, take note, that I bear reproach for Thy sake." This is more fully explained in ver. 16 ff. At first, when, without seeking, God's words came to him, he received them with delight (cf. Ezek. iii. 1). It was a joy and gladness to him to be permitted to be an instrument of the Lord of hosts. He devoted himself wholly to this office, renouncing cheerful society and merriment, such as youth loves, for the sake of "the hand of God," at whose service he wished to be, and because of the bitter contents of the prophecy which he had received. God's anger with his people filled him completely, and, through his love for the people, was a constant grief to him. He feels himself unable to bear this heavy burden long. At present he is in a state in which he is no longer conscious of the superhuman strength which God had promised him. Thus we understand his despair, ver. 10. God replies to his complaint. The conditional clause, ver. 19, implies that the seer, although but momentarily, has fallen off from his lofty divine position. He himself is guilty of the fickleness which he would charge upon God (ver. 18). But on condition of his penitent return, the honour of standing before God's throne and in God's counsel is again accorded to him. If hereafter nothing but truth proceeds from his mouth instead of petty, common talk (i.e. divine words instead of expressions of common human impatience and despair, such as had just been heard), the Lord will acknowledge him as His own mouth, and instead of his having to seek the favour of others, they will seek his (cf. ver. 11). Thus will he be again installed in the impregnable position of authority conferred on him on his first call. What noble self-criticism, or rather what faithful portraiture of the intercourse between the prophet and his God, is found in this section!
The Judge And Deliverer, Ch. Xvl 1-xvii. 18.
XVI. 1. And the word of Yahveh came to me as follows: 2. Thou shalt not take thee a wife, that thou mayest have no sons and daughters in this place. 3. For thus says Yahveh respecting the sons and the daughters who are born in this place, and respecting their mothers who bare them, and respecting their fathers who begat them in this land: 4. By cruel kinds of death they shall die, they shall not be lamented and buried, they shall lie for dung on the open field, and shall be consumed by sword and famine, and their corpses shall be food for the birds of heaven and the beasts of the earth. 5. For thus has Yahveh said: Enter not into the house of mourning, and go not to lament and express no sympathy with them; for I have withdrawn my peace from this people, is Yahveh's oracle, kindness and compassion. 6. And great and small shall die in this land—men shall not bury them, nor lament them, nor wound themselves, nor make
Ver. 3. DipD, see on vii. 3. Ver. 4. D't^nn 'nit>a, painful, unnatural forms of death; see on the latter word under xiv. 18, according to which passage it is not to be limited to pestilence; the former word in the plural = forms of death (or dying struggles), as in Ezek. xxviii . 8, 10. What modes of death are meant, is clear from xv. 2 f. and from the second half of the verse. Through the overpowering numbers of the falling and dying they will remain unwept and unburied. See on vii. 33, and cf. viii. 2, xiv. 16. Ver. 5. nnD, only again in Amos vi. 7 = a shrill cry of joy; here in accordance with the sequel = a piercing wail, as rul has a similar twofold signification (on xi. 15). Ver. 6. The great and small, as in v. 4 = the respectable and mean. Elsewhere this distinction showed itself in expenditure on burial, but here the burial is wanting themselves bald for their sakes. 7. Nor will men offer them the bread of mourning to comfort one for the dead, nor give them the cup of comfort to drink because of any one's father or his mother. 8. And thou shalt not enter into the house of feasting to sit with them to eat and drink. 9. For thus says Yahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I banish from this place before your eyes and in your days the sound of singing and the sound of joy, and the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.
10. And it shall come to pass: when thou makest all these words known to this people, and they say to thee: Wherefore has Yahveh spoken all this great evil respecting us, and what is our guilt and what our sin, which we have sinned against Yahveh our God? 11. then thou shalt say to them: Because your fathers forsook me, is Yahveh's oracle, and ran after other gods, and served them, and fell down before them, but. forsook me and kept not my law. 12. And you have done still worse than your fathers, and behold, you follow every one the stubbornness of his evil heart in not
in every case. TO, to cut, Hithpoel, to make incisions on oneself. To publish their grief, they were wont to wound themselves with knives (cf. xli. 5, xlvii. 5), and to shave off the principal hair entirely (xlvii. 5; Isa. xxii. 12; Amos viii. 12; Ezek. vii . 18). Both indeed were forbidden by the Mosaic law as a mutilating of the body (Lev. xix. 28, xxi. 5; Deut. xiv. 1), but both customs seem often to have become popular, and especially in Jeremiah's days, through heathen neighbours. Ver. 7. DiS, to break, usually bread (Isa. Iviii . 7), hence Dr6 is here omitted, unless the latter is to be read instead of nrh. The last word applies here not to the dead, but to the surviving kinsmen. After the burial was over, and therewith the time of deepest sorrow and strictest fasting (2 Sam. xii. 21), they were offered bread and wine as refreshment (Prov. xxxi. 6). This was the idea of the mourningfeasts, on which this passage casts important light. ran3^, to comfort him, namely, the mourner. Ver. 8. DITiK, see on i . 16. Ver. 9 like vii. 34. Ver. 10. Cf. v. 19, ix. 11 f., xiii. 22. Ver. 12. Walking after the perverseness of their evil heart, as in iii. 17. Ver. 13. Cf. vii. 15, vitam, from SB, Ges. § 72. a. 6. ny3n, nomen unitatis, exercise of grace (Jn), single display of kindness. Ver. 14 f. like xxiii. 7 f., but not on this account to hearkening to me. 13. And so I will cast }'ou out of this land to the laud which you have not known, you and your fathers; there you shall serve foreign gods day and night, because I will show you no favour. 14. Therefore, behold, days come, is Yahveh's oracle, that one shall no longer say: "As truly as Yahveh lives, who brought the children of Israel up from the land of Egypt," 15. but "As truly as Yahveh lives, who brought the children of Israel up from the land of the north and from all the lands whither he drove them,"—and I will make them return to their own soil, which I gave their fathers. 16. Behold, I send for many fishers, is Yahveh's oracle, and they shall fish them; and afterwards I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them away from every mountain and from every height, and out of the rock-clefts.
17. For mine eyes are on all your ways, they are not hidden from my sight, and their guilt is not concealed from mine eyes.
18. And I will first repay their guilt and their sin double, because they have polluted my land with the carcases of their monsters, and filled my inheritance with their abominations.
be attacked; rather required by ver. 18. indeed is not "nevertheless," but "therefore." But the following promise, in fact, makes the heaviness of the judgment felt: As mighty a divine act will be necessary to redemption as once in Egypt, nay, one still mightier. To the oath rorp Ti is added the greatest proof of His power and grace. Ver. 16. These figures allude not to the gathering of the scattered, but to the catching of the people of the land by the enemy. Since fishers and hunters differ in time and place, the former denote the catching wholesale, as in the capture of the country and especially of cities, the latter to the catching of individuals, who have fled to the hills and hidden in clefts. 3VT, Kethib (Ezek. xlvii. 10), not to be changed into 3JH, Keri; both forms, like iv\ and to fish, are equally right. On this fishing of men, cf. Amos iv. 2. cf. xiii. 4; on the matter, Josh. x. 16 ff.;
Judg. vi. 2; 1 Sam. xiii. 6 ; Ezek. xxxiii. 27. Ver. 18. And first I recompense, i.e. before the glorious redemption comes, promised in ver. 14 f. It is misleading to seek an antithesis between ruCta and mwa. The judgment of double measure may suggest the double figure, ver. 16; cf. also Isa. xl . 2 and Jer. xvil 18. Corpses of their abominations = idols. The genitive is one of apposition. The idols are dead corpora,