Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
PROPHECIES ON THE
OCCASION OF A
1. Literally, "That which was the word of Jehovah to Jeremiah
concerning the dearth"
drought--literally, the "withholdings," namely, of rain
This word should be used especially of the withholding of rain
because rain is in those regions of all things the one chiefly needed
2. gates--The place of public concourse in each city looks sad,
as being no longer frequented
(Isa 3:26; 24:4).
black--that is, they mourn (blackness being indicative of sorrow),
unto the ground--bowing towards it.
3. little ones--rather, "their inferiors," that is, domestics.
pits--cisterns for collecting rain water, often met with in the
East where there are no springs.
covered . . . heads--
A sign of humiliation and mourning.
5. The brute creation is reduced to the utmost extremity for the
want of food. The "hind," famed for her affection to her young, abandons
6. wild asses--They repair to "the high places" most exposed to the
winds, which they "snuff in" to relieve their thirst.
eyes--which are usually most keen in detecting grass or water from
the "heights," so much so that the traveller guesses from their presence
that there must be herbage and water near; but now "their eyes fail."
Rather the reference is to the great boas and python serpents which
raise a large portion of their body up in a vertical column ten or
twelve feet high, to survey the neighborhood above the surrounding
bushes, while with open jaws they drink in the air. These giant serpents
originated the widely spread notions which typified the deluge and all
destructive agents under the form of a dragon or monster serpent; hence,
the dragon temples always near water, in Asia, Africa, and Britain; for
example, at Abury, in Wiltshire; a symbol of the ark is often associated
with the dragon as the preserver from the waters [KITTO,
7. do thou it--what we beg of Thee; interpose to remove the drought.
Jeremiah pleads in the name of his nation
So "work for us," absolutely used
for thy name's sake--"for our backslidings are so many" that we
cannot urge Thee for the sake of our doings, but for the glory of
Thy name; lest, if Thou give us not aid, it should be said it was
owing to Thy want of power
Ps 79:9; 106:8;
The same appeal to God's mercy, "for His name's sake," as our
only hope, since our sin precludes trust in ourselves, occurs in
8. The reference is, not to the faith of Israel which had almost
ceased, but to the promise and everlasting covenant of God. None but
the true Israel make God their "hope."
turneth aside to tarry--The traveller cares little for the land
he tarries but a night in; but Thou hast promised to dwell always in
the midst of Thy people
(2Ch 33:7, 8).
MAURER translates, "spreadeth," namely, his
9. astonied--like a "mighty man," at other times able to help
but now stunned by a sudden calamity so as to
disappoint the hopes drawn from him.
art in the midst of us--
(Ex 29:45, 46;
Le 26:11, 12).
called by thy name--
(Da 9:18, 19)
as Thine own peculiar people
10. Jehovah's reply to the prayer
not refrained . . . feet--They did not obey God's
command; "withhold thy foot"
namely, from following after idols.
remember . . . iniquity--
(Ho 8:13; 9:9).
Their sin is so great, God must punish them.
12. not hear--because their prayers are hypocritical: their hearts
are still idolatrous. God never refuses to hear real prayer
(Jer 7:21, 22;
Isa 1:15; 58:3).
sword . . . famine . . . pestilence--the three sorest judgments at
once; any one of which would be enough for their ruin
(2Sa 24:12, 13).
13. Jeremiah urges that much of the guilt of the people is due to the
false prophets' influence.
assured peace--solid and lasting peace. Literally, "peace of truth"
(Jer 5:12, 13).
By sword and famine . . . consumed--retribution in kind both to the
false prophets and to their hearers
16. none to bury--
pour their wickedness--that is, the punishment incurred by their
Jeremiah is desired to weep ceaselessly for the calamities coming on
his nation (called a "virgin," as being heretofore never under foreign
18. go about--that is, shall have to migrate into a land of exile.
HORSLEY translates, "go trafficking about the land
and take no knowledge" (that is, pay no regard to the miseries before
(Isa 1:3; 58:3).
If the literal sense of the Hebrew verb be retained, I would
with English Version understand the words as referring to the
exile to Babylon; thus, "the prophet and the priest shall have to go to
a strange land to practise their religious traffic
Eze 34:2, 3;
19. The people plead with God, Jeremiah being forbidden to do so.
peace . . . no good--
21. us--"the throne of Thy glory" may be the object of "abhor not"
("reject not"); or "Zion"
throne of thy glory--Jerusalem, or, the temple, called God's
"footstool" and "habitation"
(Zec 10:1, 2).
heavens--namely, of themselves without God
they are not the First Cause, and ought not to be deified, as they were
by the heathen. The disjunctive "or" favors CALVIN'S explanation: "Not even the heavens themselves
can give rain, much less can the idol vanities."
art not thou he--namely, who canst give rain?