The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth.
The dearth - Really, the drought,
Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.
They are black unto the ground - The people assembled at the gates, the usual places of concourse, are in deep mourning and sit humbly on the ground.
And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads.
Little ones - mean ones, the common people. The word is unique to Jeremiah Jer 48:4.
The pits - i. e., tanks for holding water.
Covered their heads - The sign of grief.
Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.
Is chapt - Rather, is dismayed. "The ground" is used metaphorically for the people who until the ground.
In the earth - i. e., "in the land."
Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass.
And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass.
Like dragons - "Like jackals" Jeremiah 9:11.
No grass - The keen sight of the wild donkey is well known, but they look around in vain for herb.
O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.
Do thou it - Rather, "deal thou, act thou for Thy Name's sake, i. e., not according to the strict measure of right and wrong, but as a God merciful and gracious.
O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?
Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.
Astonied - The word may possibly mean "one who is taken by surprise and loses his presence of mind."
Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.
The answer is addressed to the people. Jeremiah had prayed as their representative, but he must not intercede: for to the same degree that God was determined to punish them, to the same degree (thus) they love to continue their offence." Compare Jeremiah 15:6 note.
Therefore the Lord ... - Translate:
"And Yahweh hath no pleasure in them:
Now will He remember their iniquity and visit their sins."
Interference in their behalf is out of the question.
Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.
When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.
Their cry i. e - prayer offered aloud.
Oblation - A meat-offering Leviticus 2:1.
The sword, famine, and pestilence - The two latter ever follow upon the track of the first Ezekiel 5:12, and by these God will consume them, yet so as to leave a remnant. The chastisement, which crushes those who harden themselves against it, purifies the penitent.
Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.
The false prophets in Jeremiah's days were so numerous and influential an to counteract and almost nullify the influence of the true prophet. We find in Isaiah the first indications of the internal decay of the prophetic order; and Micah, his contemporary, denounces the false prophets in the strongest terms Micah 3:5, Micah 3:11. For the secret of their power see Jeremiah 5:31.
Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.
Divination - i. e., "conjuring," the abuse of the less understood powers of nature. It was strictly forbidden to all Jews Deuteronomy 18:10.
A thing of nought - Probably a small idol made of the more precious metals Isaiah 2:20. These methods the prophet declares to be the "deceit of their heart, i. e., not self-deceit, but a willful and intentional fraud.
Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.
And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.
I will pour ... - i. e., their wickedness shall be brought home to them.
Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow.
A message from God to the effect that the calamity would be so overwhelming as to cause perpetual weeping; it is set before the people under the representation of Jeremiah's own sorrow.
The virgin daughter of my people - The epithet testifies to God's previous care of Judah. She had been as jealously guarded from other nations as virgins are in an oriental household (compare Sol 4:12).
If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not.
Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble!
A second (compare Jeremiah 14:7-9) earnest intercession, acknowledging the wickedness of the nation, but appealing to the covenant and to God's Almighty power.
Lothed - More exactly, "hath thrown away as worthless."
We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee.
Our wickedness, and - Omit and. National sin is the sin of the fathers, perpetuated generation after generation by the children.
Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us.
This verse is in the original very emphatic, and consists of a series of broken ejaculations: "Abhor not for thy name's sake! Disgrace - lightly esteem" in Deuteronomy 32:15 - "not the throne of thy glory! Remember! Break not etc. with us!" The throne of Yahweh's glory is Jerusalem.
Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.
None of the idols of the Gentiles can put an end to this present distress.
Art not thou he, O Lord our God! - Rather, "art thou not Yahweh our God?"
Thou hast made all these things - i. e., the heaven with its showers.