Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
ADDRESS TO THE
(Jer 4:1, 2).
1. return . . . return--play on words. "If thou
wouldest return to thy land (thou must first), return
(by conversion and repentance) to Me."
not remove--no longer be an unsettled wanderer in a strange land.
(Ge 4:12, 14).
2. And thou--rather, "And if (carried on from
thou shalt swear, 'Jehovah liveth,' in truth, &c.", that is, if thou
shalt worship Him (for we swear by the God whom we
De 6:13; 10:20;
in sincerity, &c.
and the nations--Rather, this is apodosis to the "if"; then shall
the nations bless themselves in (by) Him"
The conversion of the nations will be the consequence of Israel's
(Ps 102:13, 15;
Ro 11:12, 15).
3. Transition to Judah. Supply mentally. All which (the foregoing
declaration as to Israel) applies to Judah.
and Jerusalem--that is, and especially the men of Jerusalem, as
being the most prominent in Judea.
Break . . . fallow ground--that is, Repent of your idolatry, and so be
prepared to serve the Lord in truth
The unhumbled heart is like ground which may be improved, being let out
to us for that purpose, but which is as yet fallow, overgrown with
weeds, its natural product.
4. Remove your natural corruption of heart
(De 10:16; 30:6;
5. cry, gather together--rather, "cry fully" that is, loudly. The
Jews are warned to take measures against the impending Chaldean invasion
6. Zion--The standard toward Zion intimated that the people of
the surrounding country were to fly to it, as being the strongest of
7. lion--Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans
(Jer 2:15; 5:6;
his thicket--lair; Babylon.
destroyer of the Gentiles--rather, "the nations"
8. Nothing is left to the Jews but to bewail their desperate condition.
anger . . . not turned back--
(Isa 9:12, 17, 21).
9. heart--The wisdom of the most leading men will be utterly at
a loss to devise means of relief.
10. thou hast . . . deceived--God, having even the false prophets in
His hands, is here said to do that which for inscrutable purposes He
permits them to do
which passage shows that the dupes of error were self-prepared
for it, and that God's predestination did not destroy their moral
freedom as voluntary agents). The false prophets foretold "peace," and
the Jews believed them; God overruled this to His purposes
(Jer 5:12; 14:13;
soul--rather, "reacheth to the life."
11. dry wind--the simoom, terrific and destructive, blowing from
the southeast across the sandy deserts east of Palestine. Image of the
invading Babylonian army
Babylon in its turn shall be visited by a similar "destroying wind"
of . . . high places--that is, that sweeps over the high places.
daughter--that is, the children of my people.
not to fan--a very different wind from those ordinary winds employed
for fanning the grain in the open air.
12. full . . . from those places--rather, "a wind fuller
(that is, more impetuous) than those winds"
(which fan the corn)
unto me--"for Me," as My instrument for executing My purpose.
sentence--judgments against them
13. clouds--continuing the metaphor in
Clouds of sand and dust accompany the simoom, and after rapid gyrations
ascend like a pillar.
Woe unto us--The people are graphically presented before us, without
it being formally so stated, bursting out in these exclamations.
14. Only one means of deliverance is left to the Jews--a thorough
vain thoughts--namely, projects for deliverance, such as enlisting
the Egyptians on their side. GESENIUS
translates, "How long
wilt thou harbor vain thoughts?"
15. For . . . from Dan--The connection is: There is danger in delay;
for the voice of a messenger announces the approach of the Chaldean
enemy from Dan, the northern frontier of Palestine
Mount Ephraim--which borders closely on Judah; so that the foe is
coming nearer and nearer. Dan and Beth-el in Ephraim were the two
places where Jeroboam set up the idolatrous calves
16. The neighboring foreign "nations" are summoned to witness Jehovah's
judgments on His rebel people
(Jer 6:18, 19).
watchers--that is, besiegers (compare
observed or watched, that is, besieged.
their voice--the war shout.
17. keepers of a field--metaphor from those who watch a field, to
frighten away the wild beasts.
(Jer 2:17, 19;
this is thy wickedness--that is, the fruit of thy wickedness.
19. The prophet suddenly assumes the language of the Jewish state
personified, lamenting its affliction
(Jer 10:19, 20; 9:1, 10;
at my very heart--Hebrew, "at the walls of my heart"; the muscles
round the heart. There is a climax, the "bowels," the pericardium, the
maketh . . . noise--moaneth
alarm--the battle shout.
20. Destruction . . . cried--Breach upon breach is announced
The war "trumpet" . . . the battle shout . . . the
"destructions" . . . the havoc throughout "the whole land"
. . . the spoiling of the shepherds' "tents"
or, "tents" means cities, which should be overthrown as easily
as tents [CALVIN]), form a gradation.
21. Judah in perplexity asks, How long is this state of things to
22. Jehovah's reply; they cannot be otherwise than miserable, since
they persevere in sin. The repetition of clauses gives greater force to
wise . . . evil . . . to do good . . .
no knowledge--reversing the rule
"wise unto . . . good, simple concerning evil."
23. Graphic picture of the utter desolation about to visit Palestine.
"I beheld, and lo!" four times solemnly repeated, heightens the awful
effect of the scene (compare
Isa 24:19; 34:11).
without form and void--reduced to the primeval chaos
moved lightly--shook vehemently.
25. no man . . . birds--No vestige of the human, or of the feathered
creation, is to be seen
26. fruitful place--Hebrew, Carmel.
a wilderness--Hebrew, "the wilderness," in
contrast to "the fruitful place"; the great desert, where
Carmel was, there is now the desert of Arabia [MAURER].
cities--in contrast to the fruitful place or field.
27. full end--utter destruction: I will leave some hope of restoration
(Jer 5:10, 18; 30:11; 46:28;
28. For this--on account of the desolations just described
29. whole city--Jerusalem: to it the inhabitants of the country had
fled for refuge; but when it, too, is likely to fall, they flee out of
it to hide in the "thickets." HENDERSON
translates, "every city."
noise--The mere noise of the hostile horsemen shall put you to flight.
30. when thou art spoiled--rather, "thou, O destroyed one"
rentest . . . face with painting--Oriental women paint their eyes
with stibium, or antimony, to make them look full and sparkling, the
black margin causing the white of the eyes to appear the brighter by
He uses the term "distendest" in derision of their effort to make their
eyes look large [MAURER]; or else, "rentest," that
is, dost lacerate by puncturing the eyelid in order to make the
antimony adhere [ROSENMULLER]. So the Jews use
every artifice to secure the aid of Egypt against Babylon.
face--rather, thy eyes
31. anguish--namely, occasioned by the attack of the enemy.
daughter of Zion--There is peculiar beauty in suppressing the name
of the person in trouble, until that trouble had been fully described
bewaileth herself--rather, "draweth her breath short"
spreadeth . . . hands--