Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. The victorious Babylonians were about to violate the sanctuaries
of the dead in search of plunder; for ornaments, treasures, and insignia
of royalty were usually buried with kings. Or rather, their purpose was
to do the greatest dishonor to the dead
2. spread . . . before the sun, &c.--retribution in kind. The very
objects which received their idolatries shall unconcernedly witness
loved . . . served . . . after . . .
walked . . . sought . . . worshipped--Words
are accumulated, as if enough could not be said fully to express the
mad fervor of their idolatry to the heavenly host
nor . . . buried--
3. The survivors shall be still worse off than the dead
(Job 3:21, 22;
which remain in all the places--"in all places of them that remain,
whither I . . . that is, in all places whither I have driven them that
4. "Is it not a natural instinct, that if one falls, he
rises again; if one turns away (that is, wanders from the way), he
will return to the point from which he wandered? Why then does not
Jerusalem do so?" He plays on the double sense of return; literal
(Jer 3:12; 4:1).
5. slidden . . . backsliding--rather, as the Hebrew is the same
to which this verse refers, "turned away with a perpetual
perpetual--in contrast to the "arise" ("rise again,"
refuse to return--in contrast to, "shall he . . . not return"
6. spake not aright--that is, not so as penitently to confess that
they acted wrong. Compare what follows.
every one . . . his course--The Keri reads "course," but the
Chetib, "courses." "They persevere in the courses whatever they
have once entered on." Their wicked ways were diversified.
horse rusheth--literally, "pours himself forth," as water that has
burst its embankment. The mad rapidity of the war horse is the
point of comparison
7. The instinct of the migratory birds leads them with unfailing
regularity to return every spring from their winter abodes in summer
but God's people will not return to Him even when the winter of His
wrath is past, and He invites them back to the spring of His favor.
in the heaven--emphatical. The birds whose very element is the
air, in which they are never at rest, yet show a steady sagacity,
which God's people do not.
times--namely, of migrating, and of returning.
my people--This honorable title aggravates the unnatural perversity
of the Jews towards their God.
know not, &c.--
(Jer 5:4, 5;
8. law . . . with us--
Possessing the law, on which they prided themselves, the Jews might
have become the wisest of nations; but by their neglecting its
precepts, the law became given "in vain," as far as they were
scribes--copyists. "In vain" copies were multiplied.
"The false pen of the scribes hath converted it [the law] into a lie."
See Margin, which agrees with Vulgate.
what wisdom--literally, "the wisdom of what?" that is, "wisdom in what
respect?" the Word of the Lord being the only true source of wisdom
Pr 1:7; 9:10).
10-12. Repeated from
See a similar repetition,
inherit--succeed to the possession of them.
13. surely consume--literally, "gathering I will gather," or "consuming
I will consume."
no grapes . . . nor figs--
things that I have given . . . shall pass away--rather, "I will
appoint to them those who shall overwhelm (pass over) them," that is, I
will send the enemy upon them
[MAURER]. English Version accords
well with the context; Though their grapes and figs ripen, they shall
not be allowed to enjoy them.
14. assemble--for defense.
let us be silent--not assault the enemy, but merely defend ourselves
in quiet, until the storm blow over.
put us to silence--brought us to that state that we can no longer
resist the foe; implying silent despair.
water of gall--literally, "water of the poisonous plant," perhaps
(Jer 9:15; 23:15).
We looked for--owing to the expectations held out by the false
health--healing; that is, restoration from adversity.
16. his horses--the Chaldean's.
was heard--the prophetical past for the future.
from Dan--bordering on Phœnicia. This was to be
Nebuchadnezzar's route in invading Israel; the cavalry in
advance of the infantry would scour the country.
strong ones--a poetical phrase for steeds, peculiar to Jeremiah
Jer 4:13, 29; 6:23).
that is, enemies whose destructive power no means, by persuasion or
otherwise, can counteract. Serpent-charmers in the East entice
serpents by music, and by a particular pressure on the neck render them
incapable of darting
(Ps 58:4, 5).
The lamentation of the prophet for the impending calamity of his
against sorrow--or, with respect to sorrow.
"Oh, my exhilaration as to sorrow!" that is, "Oh, that exhilaration
('comfort', from an Arabic root, to shine as the rising sun)
would shine upon me as to my sorrow!"
in me--within me.
19. The prophet in vision hears the cry of the exiled Jews, wondering
that God should have delivered them up to the enemy, seeing that He is
Zion's king, dwelling in her
In the latter half of the verse God replies that their own idolatry,
not want of faithfulness on His part, is the cause.
because of them that dwell in a far country--rather, "from a land of
distances," that is, a distant land
English Version understands the cry to be of the Jews in
their own land, because of the enemy coming from their far-off
strange vanities--foreign gods.
20. Proverbial. Meaning: One season of hope after another has passed,
but the looked-for deliverance never came, and now all hope is gone.
21. black--sad in visage with grief
22. balm--balsam; to be applied to the wounds of my people.
Brought into Judea first from Arabia Felix, by the queen of Sheba, in
Solomon's time [JOSEPHUS,
Antiquities, 8.2]. The opobalsamum of
PLINY; or else
[BOCHART] the resin drawn from the terebinth. It abounded
in Gilead, east of Jordan, where, in consequence, many "physicians"
(Jer 46:11; 51:8;
Ge 37:25; 43:11).
health . . . recovered--The Hebrew is literally, "lengthening
out . . . gone up"; hence, the long bandage applied to bind up a
wound. So the Arabic also [GESENIUS].