|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:18-23 The prophet Jeremiah tells much concerning himself, the times he lived in being very troublesome. Those of his own city plotted how they might cause his death. They thought to end his days, but he outlived most of his enemies; they thought to blast his memory, but it lives to this day, and will be blessed while time lasts. God knows all the secret designs of his and his people's enemies, and can, when he pleases, make them known. God's justice is a terror to the wicked, but a comfort to the godly. When we are wronged, we have a God to commit our cause to, and it is our duty to commit it to him. We should also look well to our own spirits, that we are not overcome with evil, but that by patient continuance in praying for our enemies, and in kindness to them, we may overcome evil with good.
Verse 19. - Like a lamb or an ox; rather, as a mild lamb (as one of the old translations has it), equivalent to quasi agaus mansuetus (Vulgate). Jeremiah says that he was as unsuspicious as a tame lamb which has grown up with its master's family (2 Samuel 12:3). The Arabs use the very same adjective in a slightly different form as an epithet of such tame lambs (Bochart, 'Hierozoicon,' 1:520-522, edit. 1663). It is impossible to help thinking of that "Servant of Jehovah," of whom Jeremiah was a type, who is said, in prophetic vision, to have been "brought as a lamb to the slaughter," and "not to have opened his mouth "(Isaiah 53:7). The tree with the fruit thereof; apparently a proverbial expression. Giving the words their ordinary meaning, the rendering would be, the tree with its bread (b'lakhmo). Our translators appear to have thought that the transition from "bread" to "fruit" was as justifiable in Hebrew as it is in Arabic (in which 'uklu means properly "food" in general, but also "date fruit"). Fruit, however, was not such an important article of food with the Israelites as with the Arabs; and we must either, with Hitzig, suppose a letter to have intruded into the text, and render (from a corrected reading b'lekho), with its sap (comp. Deuteronomy 34:7, Hebrew), or else appeal to the etymology of lekhem (commonly "bread"), which is "firm, consistent," and render, the tree with its pith (Hence lahmu in Arabic means "flesh," and luhmatu, "a woof"). It is no credit to St. Jerome that he followed the absurd version of the Septuagint, "Let us put wood into his bread."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But I was like a lamb, or an ox,.... The word "alluph", rendered an ox, is by many considered as an adjective to the word lamb (n); since the disjunctive particle or is not in the next; and is differently translated; by the Vulgate Latin version, "as a meek or tame lamb"; by the Septuagint and Arabic versions, "as an harmless lamb": and by the Syriac version, "as a pure" or "clean lamb"; and by the Targum,
"as a choice lamb;''
and so R. Menachem in Jarchi, a large or principal one; but the words respect not the excellency, the meekness, patience, innocence, and harmlessness of the prophet; but his security and insensibility of danger, like one or both of these creatures:
that is brought to the slaughter; to be sacrificed by the priest, or killed by the butcher; not knowing but it is going to the pasture to feed in, or to the fold or stall to lie down in; so ignorant was the prophet of the designs of his townsmen against him, and not at all jealous that they wished him ill; since he meant none to them, but sought their good:
and I knew not that they had devised devices against me; that they had met and consulted together, and devised mischief against him:
saying, let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof; meaning either the prophet and his family, root and branch; or him and his prophecies; for taking away his life would put an end to his prophesying. Some think this respects the manner in which they proposed to take away his life, as by poison; so the Targum,
"let us cast (put) poison (or the savour of death) into his food;''
for the word rendered fruit signifies bread; and so the Septuagint, Arabic, and Vulgate Latin versions render it, "let us cast, or put wood into his bread" (o); either some poisonous plant or tree, or rotten wood; or give him wood instead of bread, and so starve him. De Dieu observes, that translated "fruit", signifies, both in the Hebrew and Arabic languages, "flesh"; and renders it, "let us break wood upon his flesh", (p) or body; that is, beat him with staves till they are broken upon him, and so kill him. The ancient fathers understand this of Christ, who is the bread of life, and of his crucifixion upon the wood of the cross. Jerom says it is the consent of all the churches that these things are said of Christ in the person of Jeremiah, even in this and the preceding verse, and the following one:
let us cut him off from the land of the living. The Targum explains it of the land of Israel; but it designs the world in general, and the taking away of his life out of it, and from among men:
that his name may be remembered no more; that he and his prophecies may be buried in everlasting oblivion; he no more spoken of, and his predictions no more regarded: but, as they failed in the former in taking away his life, he outliving many of them, so in the latter; for as what he foretold exactly came to pass, his name and his prophesying are in remembrance to this day; and, as the wise man says, "the memory of the just is blessed", Proverbs 10:7.
(n) "quasi agnus mansuetus", V. L. "agnus assuefactus"; so some in De Dieu; "tanquam agnus amicabilis", De Dieu; "un agneau aimable", Gallic version. (o) "mittamus lignum in panem ejus", V. L. "corrumpamus veneno cibum", Pagninus; "corrumpamus lignum in pane ejus", Montanus, Vatablus, Calvin. (p) "Rumpamus lignum in earnem ejus", De Dieu.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. lamb—literally, a "pet lamb," such as the Jews often had in their houses, for their children to play with; and the Arabs still have (2Sa 12:3). His own familiar friends had plotted against the prophet. The language is exactly the same as that applied to Messiah (Isa 53:7). Each prophet and patriarch exemplified in his own person some one feature or more in the manifold attributes and sufferings of the Messiah to come; just as the saints have done since His coming (Ga 2:20; Php 3:10; Col 1:24). This adapted both the more experimentally to testify of Christ.
tree with … fruit—literally, "in its fruit" or "food," that is, when it is in fruit. Proverbial, to express the destruction of cause and effect together. The man is the tree; his teaching, the fruit. Let us destroy the prophet and his prophecies; namely, those threatening destruction to the nation, which offended them. Compare Mt 7:17, which also refers to prophets and their doctrines.
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