|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:18-27 Here is a message sent to king Jehoiakim, and his queen. Their sorrows would be great indeed. Do they ask, Wherefore come these things upon us? Let them know, it is for their obstinacy in sin. We cannot alter the natural colour of the skin; and so is it morally impossible to reclaim and reform these people. Sin is the blackness of the soul; it is the discolouring of it; we were shapen in it, so that we cannot get clear of it by any power of our own. But Almighty grace is able to change the Ethiopian's skin. Neither natural depravity, nor strong habits of sin, form an obstacle to the working of God, the new-creating Spirit. The Lord asks of Jerusalem, whether she is determined not be made clean. If any poor slave of sin feels that he could as soon change his nature as master his headstrong lusts, let him not despair; for things impossible to men are possible with God. Let us then seek help from Him who is mighty to save.
Verse 21. - What wilt thou say, etc.? The rendering of the verse is uncertain, though the Authorized Version undoubtedly requires correction. The alternatives are, What wilt thou say when he shall appoint over thee (but thou thyself hast trained them against thee) familiar friends as thy head? and, What wilt thou say when he shall appoint over thee those whom thou hast taught thy familiar friends as thy head? The rendering "familiar friends" is justified by Psalm 55:13; Proverbs 16:28; Proverbs 17:9; Micah 7:5. The "captains" of Authorized Version, or rather "tribal chiefs," is unsuitable.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
What will thou say when he shall punish thee?.... Or, "visit upon thee" (f); that is, either when God shall punish thee for thy sins, thou canst bring no charge of injustice against him, or murmur and repine at the punishment inflicted on thee; so Jarchi; to which agrees the Targum,
"when he shall visit on thee thy sin;''
or else, to which the following words seem to incline, when the enemy shall visit upon thee; so Kimchi and Abarbinel, when the Chaldeans shall come upon thee, and pay thee a visit, an unwelcome one; yet who wilt thou have to blame but thyself? so the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "when they shall visit thee"; these words are directed, not to the king, nor to the queen neither; but to the body of the people, the Jewish state, represented as a woman; who, upon consideration of things past, would have a great deal of reason to reflect upon themselves for what they had done in former times, which had led on to their ruin and destruction:
(for thou hast taught them to be captains, and as chief over thee;) the Jews showed the Assyrians the way into their country, used them to come thither, and taught them how to conquer them, and be masters over them; or, "hast taught them against thee" (g); to thy hurt and detriment, to be captains or governors;
for an head, to have the rule over them: this was done by Ahaz, when he sent to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria to come and save him out of the hands of the kings of Syria and Israel, 2 Kings 16:7 and by Hezekiah, when he showed the messengers of the king of Babylon all his treasures; these were invitations and temptations to come and plunder them:
shall not sorrows take thee as a woman in travail? denoting the suddenness of their calamities; the sharpness and severity of them; and that they would be inevitable, and could not be prevented.
(f) "quando visitabit super te"; Cocceius; "quum visitaverit super te", Schmidt. (g) "docuisti istos contra te", Piscator.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. captains, and as chief—literally, "princes as to headship"; or "over thy head," namely, the Chaldeans. Rather, translate, "What wilt thou say when God will set them (the enemies, Jer 13:20) above thee, seeing that thou thyself hast accustomed them (to be) with thee as (thy) lovers in the highest place (literally, 'at thy head')? Thou canst not say God does thee wrong, seeing it was thou that gave occasion to His dealing so with thee, by so eagerly courting their intimacy." Compare Jer 2:18, 36; 2Ki 23:29, as to the league of Judah with Babylon, which led Josiah to march against Pharaoh-necho, when the latter was about to attack Babylon [Maurer].
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