Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.
Cast them out of my sight - Rather, "send them out of My presence, and let them go away." The prophet is to dismiss them, because their mediators, Moses and Samuel, whose intercession had been accepted in old times (marginal references), would intercede now in vain.
And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.
And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy.
Kinds - literally, as the margin, i. e., classes of things. The first is to destroy the living, the other three to mutilate and consume the dead.
To tear - literally, "to drag along the ground." It forcibly expresses the contumely to which the bodies of the slain will be exposed.
And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.
To be removed - Rather, "to be a terror."
Because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah - The name of the pious father intensifies the horror at the wickedness of the son.
For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?
Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.
This verse gives the reason of the refusal of Yahweh to hear the prophet's intercession. The punishment due has been delayed unto wearisomeness, and this seeming failure of justice has made Judah withdraw further from God.
And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways.
I will fan them ... - Or, "I have winnowed them with a winnowing shovel." The "gates of the land" mean the places by which men enter or leave it. As God winnows them they are driven out of the land through all its outlets in every direction.
I will bereave - Rather, "I have bereaved, I have destroyed my people." Omit "of children."
Since they return not ... - Rather, "from their ways they have not returned."
Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city.
Translate, "I have brought upon them, even upon the mother of the young man, a spoiler etc." The word rendered "young man" means a picked warrior. The mother has borne a valiant champion; but neither his prowess nor the numerous offspring of the other can avail to save those who gave them birth; war bereaves both alike.
At noonday - i. e., unexpectedly, as armies used to rest at noon (see Jeremiah 6:4 note).
I have caused him ... - Rather, "I have brought suddenly upon her," the mother of the young warrior, "anguish and terrors."
She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while it was yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the LORD.
She hath been ashamed - Or, "is ashamed." To a Hebrew mother to be childless was a disgrace. Many consider that Jeremiah 15:7-9 refer to the battle of Megiddo, and depict the consternation of Jerusalem at that sad event. If so, in the sun going down while it was day, there will be a reference to the eclipse on September 30, 610 b.c.
Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.
Jeremiah vents his sorrow at the rejection of his prayer. In reading these and similar expostulations we feel that we have to do with a man who was the reluctant minister of a higher power, from where alone he drew strength to be content to do and suffer.
Strife - More exactly, "lawsuit;" the sense is, "I am as a man who has to enter into judgment with and reprove the whole earth."
I have neither lent ... - i. e., I have no personal cause of quarrel with the people, that I should thus be perpetually at strife with them. The relations between the moneylender and the debtor were a fruitful source of lawsuits and quarrelling.
The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.
Shall be well with thy remnant - Or, thy loosing shall be for good; in the sense of being set free, deliverance.
Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?
The steel - "brass," i. e., bronze. By the "iron" is meant Jeremiah's intercession; but this cannot alter the divine purpose to send Judah into exile, which is firm as steel and brass. For "brass" see Exodus 25:3 note. The alloy of copper and zinc now called brass was entirely unknown to the ancients.
Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders.
Jeremiah is personally addressed in the verse, because he stood before God as the intercessor, representing the people.
(1) God would give Judah's treasures away for nothing; implying that He did not value them.
(2) the cause of this contempt is Judah's sins.
(3) this is justified by Judah having committed them throughout her whole land.
And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.
Render, "And I will make thee serve thine enemies in a land thou knewest not."
For a fire ... - See the marginal reference. The added words show that the punishment then predicted is about to be fulfilled.
O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.
This is the prayer of a man in bitter grief, whose human nature cannot at present submit to the divine will. God's long-suffering toward the wicked seemed to the prophet to be the abandonment of himself to death; justice itself required that one who was suffering contumely for God's sake should be delivered.
Rebuke - i. e., reproach, contumely.
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
Thy words were found - Jeremiah's summons to the prophetic office had not been expected or sought for by him.
I did eat them - i. e., I received them with joy. This eating of the divine words expresses also the close union between that which came from God and the prophet's own being.
I am called by thy name - i. e., I am consecrated to Thy service, am ordained to be Thy prophet.
I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.
Rather, "I sat not in the assembly of the laughers, and was merry." From the time God's words came to Jeremiah he abstained from things innocent, and a gravity came over him beyond his years.
With indignation - The prophet thus taught of God sees the sins of the people as offences against God, and as involving the ruin of His Church.
Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?
Why is my pain perpetual - i. e., Are all my labors to be in vain?
As a liar ... - Really, "as a deceitful brook," a brook which flows only in the winter, the opposite of the "perennial stream" of Amos 5:24. Jeremiah had expected that there would be a perpetual interference of Providence in his behalf, instead whereof things seemed to take only their natural course.
Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.
Jeremiah had questioned God's righteousness (see Jeremiah 12:1 note); he is told, "If thou return," if thou repent thee of thy doubts, and think only of thy duty, "then will I bring thee again, then will I cause thee again to stand before Me." To stand before a person means to be his chief officer or vicegerent. It implies therefore the restoration of Jeremiah to the prophetic office.
If thou take forth the precious from the vile - i. e., if thou cause the precious metal to come forth from the dross. Jeremiah was to separate in himself what was divine and holy from the dross of human passion. Let him abandon this mistrust, this sensitiveness, this idea that God did not deal righteously with him, and then "he shall be as God's mouth, i. e., as the organ by which God speaks.
Let them return ... - Rather, "they shall return unto thee, but thou shalt not return unto them." A flattering prophet perishes with the people whom his soft speeches have confirmed in their sin: but the truthful speaking of God's word saves both.
And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.