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6 and let us go into the defenced cities. Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the
7 north, and a great destruction. The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant
find e.g. that the Rechabites have done (chap. xxxv.) Compare the crowding of the inhabitants of Attica within the walls of Athens on the occasion of a Spartan invasion (Thuc. ii. 52).
6. Set up the standard] This was to be done not so much as affording a place of comparative security on a height, as to mark out the safest route to those who were seeking to attain the shelter of the walls of Jerusalem. The erection of lofty poles with banners waving from them would be a signal reaching further and therefore more expeditious than even the trumpet blast.
standard] Our Authorized English Version, as first published (in r6u), has by mistake standards. The mistake was not corrected till the first careful revision of that Version, made at Cambridge, 1629.
retire] save your goods by flight. The same Hebrew word is used and in the same sense in Exod. ix. 19; Is. x. 31 (English Vers, "gather").
evil from the north] Some have taken the reference to be to the Scythians. It is true that they made a descent in the direction of Judaea during the reign of Josiah (see Introduction, chap. i. § 3), and were checked by Psammetichus, king of Egypt. Even granting however that their invasion was made as late as or later than the time of this prophecy, there are two reasons fatal to the supposition that it has to do with them:
(i) There is nothing to shew that they ever invaded Judaea.
(ii) The description of the invading force does not suit them. We have no knowledge that they used chariots. On the contrary, the description exactly fits in with what we know otherwise of the armies of Chaldaea, who are therefore no doubt here meant.
7. The lion] A Hon.
thicket] the usual lurking place of such.
the destroyer of the Gentiles] a destroyer of nations. He is not like an ordinary lion a destroyer of individuals, but of whole nations.
he is gone forth from his place] literally, he has struck his tents, as does an army. After Jeremiah's usual manner, he suddenly drops his metaphor, and begins to express his meaning directly and without figure.
■without an inhabitant] fulfilled, as related chap. xliii. 5—7, "Johanan the son of Kareah...took all the remnant of Judah...So they came into the land of Egypt."
For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl: for the a fierce anger of the Lord is not turned back from us. And y it shall come to pass at that day, saith the Lord, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder. (Then said I, Ah, Lord God! surely 10 thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the
8. is not turned back from us] The wickedness of the days ot Manasseh has not been repented of. Any reformation has been merely on the surface, and those who imagine that it has been sufficient to recover God's favour towards His people will find their mistake.
9. heart] understanding. Their intellect shall be paralyzed.
the priests shall be astonished] because of the punishment which has followed upon their idolatries.
the prophets shall wonder] because of the non-fulfilment of their prophecies.
10. This verse has caused some perplexity to commentators. The difficulty consists in the fact that in it God is spoken of as employing deceit. The chief modes in which the difficulty has been met are
(i) Jeremiah is not speaking his own words but those of the false prophets, on finding that their predictions of peace are not coming to pass.
(ii) The words are those of Jeremiah himself, but used against the false prophets, whom he thus ironically assumes to have been inspired by God to utter vain predictions of prosperity.
(iii) God is said to have done Himself that evil which in point of fact He has only permitted to occur.
(i) and (ii) are harsh and far fetched, while (iii) was a mode of' thought and speech familiar to the Jew (compare 1 Kings xxii. 21—23), ^ who accordingly would not feel that there was any irreverence in this mode of expressing his difficulty. For the emotion which must have possessed Jeremiah at the time and drawn from him this startling exclamation, we may compare Elijah's case in 1 Kings xix. 10, 14. The prophet "broke into a wild cry, in which he gave expression to his pain, and, relieved, he felt the fire of duty burn bright again, and took up again the work of life." Christ in Modern Life (Rev. S. Brooke), P- 15S
"To me alone there came a thought of grief,
That the prophets were very eager to understand what was obscure in the predictions they uttered, we gather from 1 Pet. i. 10, iI. In this particular case the fulfilment, though sure, was in the yet distant future.
11 soul). At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem,
11—18. Description of the enemy's attack.
A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people,
Not to fan, nor to cleanse, ia Eve)i a full wind from those places shall come unto me:
Now also will I give sentence against them. 13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds,
And his chariots shall be as a whirlwind:
11. Having given vent to the wail characteristic of his disposition he resumes his prophetic utterance.
At that time shall it be said] When the invader is advancing, the tidings shall be borne by messengers and fugitives as follows:
11—18. Description Of The Enemy's Attack.
A dry wind] A hot wind. A wind from the east, such as'is prevalent in that country, accompanied by a cloudless sky. As it comes down from the hills and across the barren wastes it withers up all vegetation, besides producing the utmost discomfort. "The air becomes loaded with fine dust, which it whirls in rainless clouds hither and thither
at its own wild will The eyes inflame, the lips blister and the
moisture of the body evaporates, under the ceaseless application of this persecuting wind" (Thomson, The Land and the Book, p. 295). "We have two kinds of sirocco, one accompanied with vehement wind, which fills the air with dust and fine sand " (ibid. p. 536).
high places] bare heights. Compare note on iii. 2.
not to fan, nor to cleanse] alluding to the Eastern mode of winnowing. By the vehemence of this wind wheat and chaff alike shall be swept away.
12. a full wind from those places] rather, fuller than those (winds) that are used to winnow and cleanse. Such a storm is meant as that described forcibly in Joel (ii. 30, 31), where the sun, as seen through columns of sand and dust, is the colour of blood, while those columns themselves are likened to "piliars of smoke."
unto] for; at My command.
nmo also will I] The pronoun is emphatic. I, in reply to their attack on me in the way of idol-worship, will, etc.
13. as clouds] So in Ezekiel (xxxviii. 16) the enemy Gog is said to be coming up against Israel "as a cloud to cover the land;'' and in the prophecy of Joel (ii. 2) the invading army is extended over the land like "clouds and thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains."
his chariots shall be as a whirlwind] The same comparison is used twice by the prophet Isaiah (v. 28, lxvi. 15).
His horses are swifter than eagles.
O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou 1
mayest be saved.
swifter than eagles] Compare chap. xlviii. 40; 2 Sam. i. 23; Lam. iv. 19; Hab. i. 8.
Woe unto us! for we are spoiled] This represents either the cry of the people on finding themselves hopelessly in the hands of the invading force, or the lament of the prophet himself as he realizes the state of things that he has just depicted. The former view is the more likely one. Compare ver. 19, etc.
14. thine heart] as opposed to mere surface-reform. Compare "hath not turned unto me with her whole heart but feignedly," (iii. 10).
Hma long] Thou hast wearied me with thy prolonged faithlessness.
vain] sinful, idolatrous. The Hebrew word, properly denoting sin of any kind, is used^ specially of the worship of idols. Thus Beth-el (house of God) is called (Hos. iv. 15, etc.) in consequence of the worship there practised, Beth-aven (house of iniquity, house of an idol). At the same time there is a play on the word which we cannot reproduce in English. This appears in the original of ver. 15 where the same word is used in another of its senses affliction, thus enforcing the truth that idolatry and disaster are necessarily conjoined.
15. The connexion is, It is high time to amend, for, etc.
Dan] on the northern border of Palestine, see Deut. xxxiv. 1. It is mentioned frequently in conjunction with Beersheba, the other limit; e. g. Judges xx. 1; 1 Sam. iii. 20, etc. It was a conspicuous seat of idolatry, sharing as it did with Bethel the distinction of being selected by Jeroboam as the seat of a golden calf (1 Kings xii. 29).
affliction] See ver. 14.
mount Ephraim] the range dividing Ephraim from Judah, eight or ten miles at most from Jerusalem itself. The language thus intimates the rapid approach of the enemy. It was but now they were at Dan, and already they are crossing the hills in the very neighbourhood of the Assyrians, as described in Is. x., and of the capital of the southern kingdom. Compare the rapid advance of the Etruscans as described in Macaulay's "Horatius," (Lays of Ancient Rome,) "Now from the rock Tarpeian," etc.
16. Make ye mention] The nations are summoned to witness the vengeance about to be taken even on the chosen people. The event is itself of the utmost importance, and the lesson will be a most impressive one.
watchers] besiegers, the Chaldaeans.
And give out their voice against the cities of Judah.
17 As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; Because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the
18 Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto
This is thy wickedness, because it is bitter,
19—26. Picture of the. horror and desolation that are at
19 My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; My heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, Because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the
trumpet, the alarm of war.
20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land
17. keepers of a field] "In the time of our translators it may be doubted whether the term field was ever used of enclosed plots of ground. Such enclosures were called parks, while the field was the open country. (Lev. xiv. 7, xvii. 5, etc.). In it not only was it necessary to watch the cattle (Luke ii. 8), but also the crops (Job xxvii. 18). Jeremiah therefore compares the tents of the besiegers on guard round Jerusalem to the booths erected by shepherds or husbandmen for the protection of their flocks or produce." (Speaker's Comm.)
18. wickedness] The Hebrew word means either wickedness, or its result, viz. calamity. The latter is the sense here, as the succeeding words shew.
bitter] Owing to the remembrance that it is virtually self-inflicted.
19—26. Picture Of The Horror And Desolation That
19. at my very heart] 0 the walls of my heart! a separate exclamation. These brief utterances well represent the pangs to which the speaker is being subjected. That speaker is not Jeremiah only, but the people as a whole. This appears from the next verse, aiid from chap. x. 20.
maketh a noise] The word in the Hebrew denotes tumultuous movement, pain, and the expression of it in sound.
20. Destruction upon destruction] the tidings of one calamity after another, as in the case of the successive announcements to Job. So Macaulay's " Horatius " as referred to above:
"Every hour some horseman came With tidings of dismay."