Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Benjamin--Jerusalem was situated in the tribe of Benjamin, which
was here separated from that of Judah by the valley of Hinnom. Though it
was inhabited partly by Benjamites, partly by men of Judah, he addresses
the former as being his own countrymen.
blow . . . trumpet . . . Tekoa--Tikehu, Tekoa form a play on
sounds. The birthplace of Amos.
Beth-haccerem--meaning in Hebrew, "vineyard-house." It and Tekoa
were a few miles south of Jerusalem. As the enemy came from the north,
the inhabitants of the surrounding country would naturally flee
southwards. The fire-signal on the hills gave warning of danger
2. likened--rather, "I lay waste." Literally, "O comely and delicate
one, I lay waste the daughter of Zion," that is, "thee." So
"before Joshua," that is, "before thee" [MAURER].
3. shepherds--hostile leaders with their armies
(Jer 1:15; 4:17; 49:20; 50:45).
feed--They shall consume each one all that is near him; literally,
"his hand," that is, the place which he occupies
4, 5. The invading soldiers encourage one another to the attack on
Prepare--literally, "Sanctify" war, that is, Proclaim it formally
with solemn rites; the invasion was solemnly ordered by God (compare
at noon--the hottest part of the day when attacks were rarely made
(Jer 15:8; 20:16).
Even at this time they wished to attack, such is their eagerness.
Woe unto us--The words of the invaders, mourning the approach of
night which would suspend their hostile operations; still, even in
spite of the darkness, at night they renew the attack
6. cast--Hebrew, "pour out"; referring to the emptying of the
baskets of earth to make the mound, formed of "trees" and earthwork,
to overtop the city walls. The "trees" were also used to make warlike
this--pointing the invaders to Jerusalem.
visited--that is, punished.
wholly oppression--or join "wholly" with "visited," that is, she is
altogether (in her whole extent) to be punished [MAURER].
7. fountain--rather, a well dug, from which water springs;
distinct from a natural spring or fountain.
casteth out--causeth to flow; literally, "causeth to dig," the cause
being put for the effect
(2Ki 21:16, 24;
8. Tender appeal in the midst of threats.
depart--Hebrew, "be torn away"; Jehovah's affection making Him
unwilling to depart; His attachment to Jerusalem was such that an effort
was needed to tear Himself from it
Ho 9:12; 11:8).
9. The Jews are the grapes, their enemies the unsparing gleaners.
turn back . . . hand--again and again bring freshly gathered handfuls
to the baskets; referring to the repeated carrying away of captives to
2Ki 24:14; 25:11).
10. ear is uncircumcised--closed against the precepts of God by the
foreskin of carnality
word . . . reproach--
11. fury of . . . Lord--His denunciations against Judah communicated
to the prophet.
weary with holding in--
I will pour--or else imperative: the command of God (see
"Pour it out" [MAURER].
aged . . . full of days--The former means one becoming old; the
latter a decrepit old man
12. The very punishments threatened by Moses in the event of
disobedience to God
14. hurt--the spiritual wound.
slightly--as if it were but a slight wound; or,
in a slight manner, pronouncing all sound where there is no soundness.
saying--namely, the prophets and priests
Whereas they ought to warn the people of impending judgments and the
need of repentance, they say there is nothing to fear.
peace--including soundness. All is sound in the nation's moral
state, so all will be peace as to its political state
(Jer 4:10; 8:11; 14:13; 23:17;
Eze 13:5, 10; 22:28).
translates, "They ought to have been ashamed,
because . . . but," &c.; the Hebrew verb often expressing, not the
action, but the duty to perform it
MAURER translates, "They shall be put to shame,
for they commit abomination; nay (the prophet correcting himself),
there is no shame in them"
(Jer 3:3; 8:12;
them that fall--They shall fall with the rest of their people who
are doomed to fall, that is, I will now cease from words; I will execute
16. Image from travellers who have lost their road, stopping and
inquiring which is the right way on which they once had been, but from
which they have wandered.
old paths--Idolatry and apostasy are the modern way; the worship of
God the old way. Evil is not coeval with good, but a
modern degeneracy from good. The forsaking of God is not, in a true
sense, a "way cast up" at all
17. watchmen--prophets, whose duty it was to announce impending
calamities, so as to lead the people to repentance
(Isa 21:11; 58:1;
18. congregation--parallel to "nations"; it therefore means
the gathered peoples who are invited to be witnesses as to how great
is the perversity of the Israelites
(Jer 6:16, 17),
and that they deserve the severe punishment about to be inflicted on
what is among them--what deeds are committed by the Israelites
(Jer 6:16, 17)
[MAURER]. Or, "what punishments are about
to be inflicted on them" [CALVIN].
fruit of . . . thoughts--
nor to my law, but rejected it--literally, "and (as to) My law they
have rejected it." The same construction occurs in
Literally, "To what purpose is this to Me, that incense cometh to Me?"
incense . . . cane--
(Isa 43:24; 60:6).
No external services are accepted by God without obedience of the heart
sweet . . . sweet--antithesis. Your sweet cane is not sweet to Me. The calamus.
21. stumbling-blocks--instruments of the Jews' ruin
God Himself ("I") lays them before the reprobate
Ro 1:28; 11:9).
fathers . . . sons . . . neighbour . . . friend--indiscriminate ruin.
22. north . . . sides of the earth--The ancients were little acquainted
with the north; therefore it is called the remotest regions (as
the Hebrew for "sides" ought to be translated,
of the earth. The Chaldees are meant
(Jer 1:15; 5:15).
It is striking that the very same calamities which the Chaldeans had
inflicted on Zion are threatened as the retribution to be dealt in turn
to themselves by Jehovah
23. like the sea--
as men for war--not that they were like warriors, for
they were warriors; but "arrayed
most perfectly as warriors" [MAURER].
24. fame thereof--the report of them.
25. He addresses "the daughter of Zion"
caution to the citizens of Jerusalem not to expose themselves to the
enemy by going outside of the city walls.
sword of the enemy--literally, "there is a sword to the enemy";
the enemy hath a sword.
26. wallow . . . in ashes--
As they usually in mourning only "cast ashes on the head," wallowing
in them means something more, namely, so entirely to cover one's
self with ashes as to be like one who had rolled in them
as for an only son--
lamentation--literally, "lamentation expressed by beating the breast."
27. tower . . . fortress--
rather, "an assayer (and) explorer." By a metaphor from metallurgy in
Jehovah, in conclusion, confirms the prophet in his office, and the
latter sums up the description of the reprobate people on whom he had
to work. The Hebrew for "assayer" (English Version,
"tower") is from a root "to try" metals. "Explorer" (English
Version, "fortress") is from an Arabic root, "keen-sighted";
or a Hebrew root, "cutting," that is, separating the metal from
the dross [EWALD]. GESENIUS
translates as English Version, "fortress," which does not accord
with the previous "assayer."
28. grievous revolters--literally, "contumacious of the
contumacious," that is, most contumacious, the Hebrew mode of
expressing a superlative. So "the strong among the mighty," that is,
walking with slanders--
"Going about for the purpose of slandering" [MAURER].
brass, &c.--that is, copper. It and "iron" being the baser and
harder metals express the debased and obdurate character of the Jews
(Isa 48:4; 60:17).
29. bellows . . . burned--So intense a heat is made that the very
bellows are almost set on fire. ROSENMULLER
translates not so well from
a Hebrew root, "pant" or "snort," referring to the sound of the
bellows blown hard.
lead--employed to separate the baser metal from the silver, as
quicksilver is now used. In other words, the utmost pains have been
used to purify Israel in the furnace of affliction, but in vain
consumed of the fire--In the Chetib, or Hebrew text, the
"consumed" is supplied out of the previous "burned." Translating as
ROSENMULLER, "pant," this will be inadmissible; and the Keri (Hebrew Margin) division of the Hebrew words will have to be
read, to get "is consumed of the fire." This is an argument for the
translation, "are burned."
wicked . . . not plucked away--answering to the dross which has no
good metal to be separated, the mass being all dross.
30. Reprobate--silver so full of alloy as to be utterly worthless
The Jews were fit only for rejection.