Jeremiah 2:24
A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffs up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) A wild ass . . .—One image of animal desire suggests another, and the “wild ass” appears (as in the Hebrew of Genesis 16:12; Job 11:12; Job 39:5) as even a stronger type of passion that defies control. The description is startling in its boldness, but has a parallel in that of Virgil (Georg. iii. 250).

That snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure.—Better, in the desire of her heart, as it bears to her the scent that draws her on. The “occasion” and the “monthare, of course, the season when the stimulus of animal desire is strongest. There is no need for the stallion to seek her with a weary search, she presents herself and pursues him. So there was in Israel what we should describe as a mania for the hateful worship of the heathen.

2:20-28 Notwithstanding all their advantages, Israel had become like the wild vine that bears poisonous fruit. Men are often as much under the power of their unbridled desires and their sinful lusts, as the brute beasts. But the Lord here warns them not to weary themselves in pursuits which could only bring distress and misery. As we must not despair of the mercy of God, but believe that to be sufficient for the pardon of our sins, so neither must we despair of the grace of God, but believe that it is able to subdue our corruptions, though ever so strong.A wild donkey used to the wilderness - The type of an untamed and reckless nature.

Snuffeth up the wind - The wind brings with it the scent of the male. Israel does not wait until temptation comes of itself, but looks out for any and every incentive to idolatry.

Occasion ... month - i. e., the pairing season.

24. (Jer 14:6; Job 39:5). "A wild ass," agreeing with "thou" (Jer 2:23).

at her pleasure—rather, "in her ardor," namely, in pursuit of a male, sniffing the wind to ascertain where one is to be found [Maurer].

occasion—either from a Hebrew root, "to meet"; "her meeting (with the male for sexual intercourse), who can avert it?" Or better from an Arabic root: "her heat (sexual impulse), who can allay it?" [Maurer].

all they—whichever of the males desire her company [Horsley].

will not weary themselves—have no need to weary themselves in searching for her.

her month—in the season of the year when her sexual impulse is strongest, she puts herself in the way of the males, so that they have no difficulty in finding her.

A wild ass; or, O wild ass; another similitude for the more lively description of the same thing; neither need we be solicitous about the variety or extravagancies of conjectures about this beast; or you may consult as before. It is said to be wild and untamed, as being

used to the wilderness doth also imply; and as to satisfying its lust, much of the nature of the other.

That snuffeth up the wind: this snuffing properly appertains to the sense of smelling, by which certain creatures, by a natural sagacity, find out what they miss, which huntsmen express by a proper term of

winding, or having in the wind; and thus it is understood here; for this creature, by the wind; smells afar off which way her male is; for there is another sense of

snuffing up the wind, viz. for the service of health, as allaying inward heat and drought, &c., Jeremiah 14:6.

At her pleasure; as her desire or lust serves when it runs out after the male; implying also that no choice, or judgment, or measure is observed in these beasts, when carried out after their lusts.

In her occasion who can turn her away? i.e. when she is set upon it, and hath an occasion and opportunity to run impetuously to her male for the satisfying her pleasure, she bears down all opposition before her; there is none can stop or put a bridle upon her raging lust.

Will not weary themselves, i.e. either they need not weary themselves; (speaking of Jerusalem, to which all the rest also is to be applied as in an allegory;) they that have a mind to be filthy with her may easily trace her, Jeremiah 2:23, she refuges none: or rather, they will not bestow their labour in vain, when she is hot upon her lust, but let her take her course until she be satisfied, and wait their time and opportunity; and this agrees with the next words.

In her month they shall find her: if this relate to the former sense of not wearying themselves, it notes her impudence and unsatiableness; you may have her at any time, even in her months or new moons, a season wherein such acts are abhorrent even to nature itself. Some understand this of the idolatry they committed every new moon; but it more properly points at the month of her breeding, or growing big and weighty; month put collectively for months, such as Job speaks of, Job 39:1,2. Or, in her last month, because they grow then unwieldy. That this creature sleeps one month in the year, and that is the month she may be taken, is generally deemed but a fancy. The sense of the verse is, that though Jerusalem be now madly bent upon going after her idols, and other unclean courses, that there is no stopping or controlling of her, as in the next verse, and Jeremiah 2:31 22:21; yet the time may come, in their afflictions, that they may grow more tame, and willing to receive counsel, as Jeremiah 2:27, and Hosea 5:15. A wild ass used to the wilderness,.... That is, one that has been brought up in the wilderness, and has been accustomed to live, and run, and range about there; as men in general are compared to this creature for its ignorance, stupidity, folly, stubbornness, and unteachableness, Job 11:12, so the Jewish people are represented as like unto it, for its wantonness and lust:

that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; draws it in at her nostrils, and snuffs it up; or opens her mouth, and takes it in with her breath; drinks it in, and swallows it up at her pleasure: or, "with the desire of her soul" (c); it being grateful and delightful to her. Some read this clause in connection with rendered "in her occasion"; and differently translate it. The Targum takes it to have the signification of "dragons"; or whales; and renders it,

"drinking the wind as a dragon;''

and so Jarchi, who compares it with Jeremiah 14:6 "they snuffed up the wind like dragons"; and so the Syriac version, "thou hast drawn up the wind like a wild dog"; others render it, "gathering the wind of her occasion"; or, "of her meeting" (d); taking it in, and snuffing it up, as she occasionally met with it in running. The Vulgate Latin version is, "she drew the wind of her love"; it is reported of the wild ass, that it can smell its mate afar off, and, by the wind it snuffs, knows where it is; for which purpose it runs up the hills and mountains to get the scent, which, when it has, its lust is so violent that there is no stopping of it till it comes to the place where its mate is: wherefore it follows,

in her occasion who can turn her away? when this violent fit is upon her, there is no turning her away from pursuing the enjoyment of it; which is expressive of the eager desire of the Jews after the worshipping of idols, how bent upon it, and not to be reclaimed from it:

all they that seek her will not weary themselves; knowing that they can not overtake her, or stop her in her career, or hinder her gratification of her lust. This may be understood either of those who sought to commit spiritual adultery or idolatry with the Jews, they need not weary themselves, being easy to be found by them; or of the prophets that sought to reclaim them, who, perceiving how stubborn, and untractable, and irreclaimable they were, would not weary themselves with their admonitions and reproofs, seeing they were in vain:

in her month they shall find her; not that this creature sleeps one whole month in a year, as Jarchi dreams, when it may be easily taken; but the sense is, that when it is with young, and in the last month, and so is heavy with its burden, it may easily be found and taken; so when the people of Israel should have filled up the measure of their iniquity, and the judgment of God was fallen and lay heavy upon them; then those that sought to return them from their evil ways might find them, and hope to succeed in reclaiming them, and bringing them to repentance; agreeably the Septuagint render it, "in her humiliation"; when chastised and humbled by the Lord for her sins. This is not to be understood of the month of Ab, in which Jerusalem was destroyed, both by Nebuchadnezzar and Titus; in which month the Jews are sure to be found confessing their sins, and humbling themselves, as Kimchi, Abarbinel, and Ben Melech interpret it; nor of the new moon, as others; at everyone of which, those who sought to join with them in idolatrous practices might be sure to find them at them.

(c) "in, vel pro desiderio animae suae", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Vatablus, Schmidt. (d) "ventum occasionis suae", Pagninus Montanus; "veatum occursus sui", Calvin.

A wild {k} donkey used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her {l} month they shall find her.

(k) He compares the idolaters to a wild ass: for she can never be tamed nor yet wearied: for as she runs she can take her wind at every opportunity.

(l) That is, when she is with foal, and therefore the hunters wait their time: so though you cannot be turned back now from your idolatry, yet when your iniquity will be at the fall, God will meet with you.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. a wild ass used to the wilderness] revelling in uncontrolled licence. Cp. Job 39:5 ff. The noun is not a simile for the young camel of Jeremiah 2:23 (a metaphor within a metaphor), but a further metaphor for Israel. Some commentators propose to read the Heb. consonants with other vowels, giving the meaning heifer. But the whole expression requires, not an animal originally tame, but one “used to” a wilderness life. Co., however, would omit from a “wild ass” to “desire,” conjecturing that it is a gloss suggested by Jeremiah 14:6.

snuffeth up the wind] looking out for every occasion that offers to sin.

will not weary themselves, etc.] Her lovers (i.e. the Baals) need not trouble themselves. No courting of her favour will be wanted on their part. In the month of her pairing she will seek them eagerly.Verse 24. - A wild ass, etc. The type of wildness and independence (comp. Genesis 16:12; Job 39:5-8). That snuffeth up the wind; to cool the heat of her passion. In her occasion... in her month; i.e. at the pairing-time. In Jeremiah 2:17 the question as to the cause of the evil is answered. זאת is the above-mentioned evil, that Israel had become a prey to the foe. This thy forsaking of Jahveh makes or prepares for thee. תּעשׂה is neuter; the infin. עזבך is the subject of the clause, and it is construed as a neuter, as in 1 Samuel 18:23. The fact that thou hast forsaken Jahveh thy God has brought this evil on thee. At the time when He led thee on the way. The participle מוליך is subordinated to עת in the stat. constr. as a partic. standing for the praeterit. durans; cf. Ew. 337, c. בּדּרך is understood by Ros. and Hitz. of the right way (Psalm 25:8); but in this they forget that this acceptation is incompatible with the בּעת, which circumscribes the leading within a definite time. God will lead His people on the right way at all times. The way on which He led them at the particular time is the way through the Arabian desert, cf. Jeremiah 2:6, and בּדּרך is to be understood as in Deuteronomy 1:33; Exodus 18:8; Exodus 23:20, etc. Even thus early their fathers forsook the Lord: At Sinai, by the worship of the golden calf; then when the people rose against Moses and Aaron in the desert of Paran, called a rejecting (נאץ) of Jahveh in Numbers 14:11; and at Shittim, where Israel joined himself to Baal Peor, Numbers 25:1-3. The forsaking of Jahveh is not to be limited to direct idolatry, but comprehends also the seeking of help from the heathen; this is shown by the following 18th verse, in which the reproaches are extended to the present bearing of the people. ' מה־לּך לדרך וגו, lit., what is to thee in reference to the way of Egypt (for the expression, see Hosea 14:9), i.e., what hast thou to do with the way of Egypt? Why dost thou arise to go into Egypt, to drink the water of the Nile? שׁחור, the black, turbid stream, is a name for the Nile, taken from its dark-grey or black mud. The Nile is the life-giving artery of Egypt, on whose fertilizing waters the fruitfulness and the prosperity of the country depend. To drink the waters of the Nile is as much as to say to procure for oneself the sources of Egypt's life, to make the power of Egypt useful to oneself. Analogous to this is the drinking the waters of the river, i.e., the Euphrates. What is meant is seeking help from Egyptians and Assyrians. The water of the Nile and of the Euphrates was to be made to furnish them with that which the fountain of living water, i.e., Jahveh (Jeremiah 2:14), supplied to them. This is an old sin, and with it Israel of the ten tribes is upbraided by Hosea (Hosea 7:11; Hosea 12:2). From this we are not to infer "that here we have nothing to do with the present, since the existing Israel, Judah, was surely no longer a suitor for the assistance of Assyria, already grown powerless" (Hitz.). The limitation of the reproach solely to the past is irreconcilable with the terms of the verse and with the context (Jeremiah 2:19). מה־לּך לדרךcannot grammatically be translated: What hadst thou to do with the way; just as little can we make תּיסּרך hath chastised thee, since the following: know and see, is then utterly unsuitable to it. תּיסּרך and תּוכיחך are not futures, but imperfects, i.e., expressing what is wont to happen over again in each similar case; and so to be expressed in English by the present: thy wickedness, i.e., thy wicked work, chastises thee. The wickedness was shown in forsaking Jahveh, in the משׁבות, backslidings, the repeated defection from the living God; cf. Jeremiah 3:22; Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 14:7. As to the fact, we have no historical evidence that under Josiah political alliance with Egypt or Assyria was compassed; but even if no formal negotiations took place, the country was certainly even then not without a party to build its hopes on one or other of the great powers between which Judah lay, whenever a conflict arose with either of them. - וּדעי, with the Vav of consecution (see Ew. 347, a): Know then, and at last comprehend, that forsaking the Lord thy God is evil and bitter, i.e., bears evil and bitter fruit, prepares bitter misery for thee. "To have no fear of me" corresponds "to forsake," lit., thy forsaking, as second subject; lit.,: and the no fear of me in thee, i.e., the fact that thou hast no awe of me. פּחדּתי, awe of me, like פּחדּך in Deuteronomy 2:25.
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