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save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord. And I will 21 deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.
Chap. XVI. 1—13. The prophet is to enforce his warnings by self-denial and an ascetic life.
The word of the Lord came also unto me, saying, Thou 16 shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons nor = daughters in this place. For thus saith the Lord concerning 3 the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land; they 4 shall die of grievous deaths; they shall hot be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. For s thus said the Lord, Enter not into the house of mourning,
20, 21. These verses are substantially a repetition of chap. i. 18, 19.
21. the hand of the terrible] the palm of the terrible. See note on chap. xii. 7.
the terrible] those who combine power with tyrannical violence. Chap. XVI. 1—13. The Prophet Is To Enforce His Warnings
BY SELF-DENiAL AND AN ASCETiC LiFE.
2. Thou shalt not take thee a wife] Marriage was a state of life in special favour with the Jews, as connected with the hope which each parent cherished that the Messiah might be born of his or her line. By his act of self-denial therefore Jeremiah was to shew his "return" (chap. xv. 19) and full submission to the will of God, while it would at the same time be a forcible mode of conveying the message of coming woes which he was charged to deliver to the people.
this place] this land, as shewn by ver. 3.
4. grievous deaths] deaths by wasting diseases or famine. The same Hebrew word is used of this last visitation in chap. xiv. 18.
they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried] We may compare the condition of things in the plague at Athens B.C. 430: "Such was the state of dismay and sorrow, that even the nearest relatives neglected the sepulchral duties...the dead and dying lay piled upon one another not merely in the public roads, but even in the temples...Those bodies which escaped entire neglect were burnt or buried without the customary mourning and with unseemly carelessness." Grote's Hist, of Greece, Chap. Xlix.
5. Enter not...] The prophet's abstinence from the accustomed marks of respect to the dead and sympathy with the relatives is to be a neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the Lord, even lov
6 ingkindness and mercies. Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make
7 themselves bald for them: neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for
s their father or for their mother. Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to
9 drink. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes,
forecast of the time when such abstinence shall become general on account of the universal prevalence of suffering and death.
mourning] The word thus rendered here occurs but once elsewhere (Amos vi. 7), and is there translated banquet. In this place it probably means mourning feast. A loud noise, as produced either by pleasurable or painful emotions, is its primary sense.
bemoan] not an infinitive mood coupled with 'to lament,' as might at first sight appear, but imperative, as the preceding 'go.'
my peace] that which ensured them prosperity.
6. nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald] It was strictly forbidden in the Mosaic Law (Lev. xix. 28, xxi. 5; Deut. xiv. 1) to practise either of these for the dead. We gather however from this, and yet more clearly from other passages (chap. vii. 29, xli. 5; Ezek. vii. 18; Amos viii. 10; Mic. i. 16; and specially Is. xxii. 12), that the rule had either been relaxed, or was directed only to those cases in which such practices might be resorted to as propitiatory offerings for the deceased, and not as mere signs of mourning. The former of these practices, as representing, though in a modified form, the heathen custom of human sacrifices as a propitiation to the spirit of the departed, would naturally be forbidden. Herodotus (Bk. iV. 71) describes the funeral rites of a Scythian King as requiring no less than six human victims. (See further in Art. 'Cuttings in the flesh,' Sm. Bibl. Diet.)
7. tear themselves] break (bread). The Hebrew word is the same (with a slight difference in the spelling) as that used Lam. iv. 4. The reference is to the custom that the friends of those who were in mourning should urge them to eat. See in illustration of this usage 2 Sam. iii. 35, xii. 16, 17. Bread also was distributed to mourners and to the poor at funerals, "Pour out thy bread on the burial of the just," Tobitiv. 14. Compare Is. lviii. 7 (where the Heb. is the same) "to deal thy bread "etc.
the cup of consolation] wine similarly administered as a refreshment by the friends. 'Give...strong drink unto those that be of heavy hearis' (Prov. xxxi. 6) expresses the principle on which this was done.
8. Jeremiah should stand aloof from social joys no less than sorrows, because of the evil that was so near.
and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride. And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the Lord our God? Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the Lord, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law; and ye have done worse than your fathers; for behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me: therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour.
14—21. The punishment shall be the most severe and therefore the deliverance the most signal and Messed yet known.
Therefore behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it
9. in your eyes, and in your days] an emphatic caution against their assuming that the present state of things would last their own time, and overthrow be reserved for their posterity.
the voice of mirth...] See note on chap. vii. 34.
10. Compare chap. v. 19, of which this passage is in substance a repetition. Here however there are virtually three charges brought against the people: (i) hypocrisy, (ii) idolatry, (iii) a baseness exceeding that of former generations. This last charge has been already (chap. vii. 26) brought.
12. imagination] stubbornness. Compare chap. iii. 17.
that they mar njt] If we substitute so as not to, a rendering which is quite as faithful to the original, we avoid the somewhat awkward change from the second to the third person.
13. a land], the land. The definite article, which stands in the Hebrew, has its proper force. The country to which they were presently going as captives was one which they were not ignorant of, geographically speaking, although they had no practical experience of it. This last is often the sense of know in the Bible.
shall ye serve] rather, ye may serve, an ironical permission. There should be nothing to interfere with that idolatry to which they were already so devoted.
shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the
15 children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave
16 unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the
17 rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine
18 eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled
14—21. The Punishment Shall Be The Most Severe And ThereFore THE DELiVERANCE THE MOST SiGNAL AND BLESSED YET KNOWN.
14. the days come] The deliverance from Egypt shall pale before the new and still more marvellous rescue of the people from their Babylonian masters. Verses 14 and 15, as asserting the blessing in store for the people in the future, form a striking contrast to the gloomy character of the remainder of the passage. Some have accordingly supposed that these verses are interpolated from chap. xxiii. 7, 8. There is however no reason to believe that they are not genuine. The greatness of the deliverance is the strongest proof of the greatness of the calamity which shall have preceded, and this last it is the main object with Jeremiah throughout to prove. Besides, it is but customary with the prophet to throw in a bright thought like this among gloomy ones. See chaps, iii. 14, iv. 27, v. 10, 18, xxvii. 22, xxx. 3, xxxii. 37.
16. The people shall be hunted down and captured, wherever they may be found. To express this vividly the prophet makes use of the figures of hunting and fishing. As a net was extended under and around the place where a shoal of fish was collected, so some of the enemy should surround and seize those who are collected together in the towns. Others again, who had fled into the country for refuge, should be overtaken by the light-armed who went in pursuit like hunters in quest of game. The lack of compassion on the part of the foe, and the certainty of capture, are brought out with equal force by the figures employed. The people were sufficiently acquainted with the history of their country to feel the significance of the description. See note on chap. iv. 29, with references there given.
18. first] before I restore them to their land.
double] because their sin is twofold. See note on chap. ii. 13.
because they have defiled] The latter part of this verse is best arranged somewhat differently, viz.: Because they defiled my land with the carcases mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things. O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, 19 and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. Shall a man make gods unto 20 himself, and they are no gods? Therefore behold, I will TM this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The Lord.
Chap. XVII. 1—4. The sin is indelible. Hence the
The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with 17 the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their
of their detestable things, and with their abominations they filled mine inheritance.
the carcases of their detestable and abominable things] either, unclean animals (or animals of any kind) offered to idols, or the idols themselves, called carcases, as being in their nature polluting to the touch like a dead body (Numb. xix. 11).
19—21. The connexion of thought seems to be: Woeful as is the idolatry of the Jews, their punishment, repentance and consequent restoration to favour, being witnessed by heathen nations, shall lead even the most distant of these last to acknowledge the Lord. But is it not all but incredible that a man should consider the work of his own hands to be a god? Yet because of this sin (and also perhaps in order to impress the nations of the earth) God's power shall be shewn forth for evil and afterwards for good.
19. my strength, and my fortress] my strength and my stronghold. The two Hebrew substantives, being derivatives of the same root, give an effect which we can hardly reproduce in the English.
21. this once] at this time. The punishment now impending is to stand out distinct, not to be compared for its severity with any other. See note on chap. x. 18.
Chap. XVII. 1—4. The Sin Is Indelible. Hence The NecesSary SEVERiTY OF THE COMiNG CHASTiSEMENT.
1. a pen of iron] used for making permanent marks on a hard surface, e.g. on rocks (Job xix. 24).
point] literally, the finger nail, in which sense the word is used in Deut. xxi. 12. Here however it means the tip of the stylus or pencil used by gravers.
a diamond] The Hebrew word, which likewise means a thorn, occurs in the sense of diamond also in Ezek. iii. 9; Zech. vii. 12 ("adamant").