Jeremiah 14
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Chs. Jeremiah 14:1 to Jeremiah 15:9. Accumulation of calamities

Jehovah rejects the prophet’s intercession

Du. considers that this section, as made up of very various elements, cannot have been put together by Jeremiah in its present form, and that it thus bears evident traces of modification by later hands. Stade omits Jeremiah 14:7-10, but they contain nothing that Jeremiah may not have uttered. The latter part of Jeremiah 14:10 (“therefore the Lord,” etc.) comes direct from Hosea 8:13. Schmidt rejects Jeremiah 14:7-9 as being in the spirit of a later age, that of the second Isaiah, and not in harmony with Jeremiah 14:10-16, Jeremiah 15:1-4 a. Co., following Hitzig, thinks that two distinct utterances are here blended, viz. one as to the drought, Jeremiah 14:2-10, Jeremiah 14:19 to Jeremiah 15:1, the other threatening sword, famine, and pestilence, Jeremiah 14:12-18, Jeremiah 15:2-9. We cannot with any confidence assign a date.

The section may be subdivided as follows. (i) Jeremiah 14:1-6. Graphic description of the suffering caused to high and low, city and country, man and beast, through lack of sustenance and water. (ii) Jeremiah 14:7-10. The prophet, in the face of this visitation, confesses the people’s sin, and bases his intercessory appeal on the intimate relations between Jehovah and His people. The Lord refuses to condone their offences. (iii) Jeremiah 14:11-18. Intercession is again rejected. Calamities shall be sent as retribution. Jeremiah pleads that the people have been misled by promises of peace from the false prophets. The Lord in reply disowns those prophets, and declares that they and those misled by them shall be involved in a common destruction. Jeremiah is bidden to pronounce a dirge over those without and those within the cities, the former put to the sword, the latter perishing from want. (iv) Jeremiah 14:19 to Jeremiah 15:1. The people plead their cause and Jehovah’s covenant with them, confess their sin, and acknowledge Jehovah as supreme over the powers of nature. The Lord declares that not the most powerful intercessors of the past could now alter His decision, and bids Judah depart from His presence. (v) Jeremiah 14:2-9. When they ask, Whither? the reply is, To the various forms of death allotted to each. Their fate, consequent on their sins, shall form a solemn warning to the nations. Jerusalem shall be neglected, unwept, despised. The long-suffering of her God is at last exhausted. The inhabitants shall be dispersed as chaff. Husbands, sons, mothers shall be slain. Parents of many sons shall faint with grief, the land lies empty.

The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth.
Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.
2. the gates] put, as often in Hebrew, for cities, i.e. for the inhabitants, as being the place of general resort.

they sit in black upon the ground] Cp. Jeremiah 8:21, Jeremiah 13:18; also Psalm 137:1; and Isaiah 47:1.

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.
3. little ones] rather, as mg. inferiors, i.e. servants.

pits] cisterns, or tanks, where the water was kept till wanted for use. See on ch. Jeremiah 2:13.

ashamed] See on Jeremiah 2:26.

cover their heads] as a sign of the greatest grief or confusion. Cp. 2 Samuel 15:30; Esther 6:12.

Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.
4. Because of the ground, etc.] rather, according to Du.’s excellent emendation, with a slight change in MT., virtually supported by LXX, The tillers of the ground are dismayed. This enables us to restore (with mg.) to the verb rendered “chapt,” but elsewhere used only of persons, its right sense, thus at the same time re-establishing parallelism of clauses.

Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass.
5. the hind] For her affection for her young cp. Proverbs 5:19, and for ancient writers’ testimony to it see Bochart, Hierozoicon, Bk. 3 ch. 17.

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.
6. bare heights] See on ch. Jeremiah 3:2.

pant for air] oppressed by heat and thirst.

jackals] See on Jeremiah 9:11, but mg. (by the change of one Heb. letter) the crocodile (coming out of the water to breathe).

their eyes fail] in place of their sharpness of sight. Cp. Job 11:20; Psalm 69:3; Lamentations 4:17, and contrast Jonathan’s case in 1 Samuel 14:27.

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.
7. for thy name’s sake] either (a) as the covenant God of Israel, as implied by the language of Jeremiah 14:8-9; cp. Exodus 34:6, or (b) for Thy honour, that the heathen may behold Thy might and faithfulness. This latter is much the more usual sense of the phrase. See Psalm 79:9; Psalm 106:8; Isaiah 48:9; Ezekiel 20:9; Ezekiel 20:14; Ezekiel 20:22; also Joshua 7:7-9.

7–10. See summary at commencement of the section. Is the intercession (a) the prophet’s own, or (b) put by him into the mouth of the people? Co. supports (b) as indicated by Jeremiah 14:10, where the Lord’s reply is addressed to them. It is true that Jeremiah 14:11 implies (a), but see note there. Du. on the other hand supports (a) but holds that the words are an ironical attack on the people’s obstinate confidence in Jehovah’s goodwill, while Erbt goes so far as to maintain that the prophet here bitterly parodies the words of the people assembled on a day of humiliation and prayer because of the drought. But the words are probably uttered in all seriousness, and ch. Jeremiah 15:1 supports this view. Cp. for the earnest language of the confession Nehemiah 1:5 ff.; Daniel 9:4 ff.

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?
8. a sojourner in the land, etc.] a passing traveller, with no interest in the country or in the people.

turneth aside] mg., less well, spreadeth his tent.

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.
9. astonied] rather, by a very slight change in one Heb. letter, asleep. So LXX. For the thought cp. Psalm 35:23; Psalm 44:23; Psalm 78:65.

a mighty man] a warrior. So in Jeremiah 20:11.

we are called by thy name] See on Jeremiah 7:10.

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.
10. Even so] My withdrawal from them is merely the counterpart of their withdrawal from Me.

therefore, etc.] See introductory note to section.

10–12. The Lord’s answer.

Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.
11, 12. These vv. (to “accept them”) are very possibly (so Hitzig and Co.) an insertion by a later hand to connect the preceding passage relating to drought with that dealing with other woes. See introd. note. Gi. (Metrik) holding 11–14 to be only poetic prose, with Ḳinah “shining through,” considers that they may have had their ultimate origin with Baruch.

11–18. See introductory summary to section.

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.
12. oblation] mg. meal offering, Heb. minḥah, sometimes, specially in the Levitical laws, in this narrower sense, as accompanying a sacrifice of animals, but also generally, of a present to procure the favour of a superior (Genesis 32:20; Genesis 43:11), and so used of an offering (including animals) to God (Genesis 4:5; 1 Samuel 2:17; 1 Samuel 2:29, etc.). See Dr. p. 359.

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.
13. assured peace] mg. Heb. peace of truth (stability). They may have sought to support their reassuring assertions by reference to such utterances as those of Isaiah 37:33 ff.

13, 14. For the attitude of the false prophets and their relation to the true see Intr. pp. xxxii. f.; also xxiii. 9 ff.

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.
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.
15, 16. Gi. now (Metrik) omits these vv., apparently as failing to satisfy the metrical conditions which prevail elsewhere in the ch. (Ḳinah).

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.
16. their wickedness] This shall be itself their punishment. Cp. Jeremiah 2:19.

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.
17. grievous] Heb. sick. See on Jeremiah 10:19.

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.
18. them that are sick with famine] lit. as mg. the sicknesses of famine.

go about] mg. traffick. Such is the sense of the Heb. verb elsewhere, e.g. Genesis 34:10; Genesis 34:21, but the corresponding consonants in Syriac are found, though rarely, with the meaning, to go as a beggar. In either case, a fall in rank is indicated. Gi. proposes to substitute one of the two Heb. letters represented by s for the other, thus obtaining the sense of sinking to the earth in mourning garb. Cp. for this thought Jeremiah 13:18. So Co.

in the land and have no knowledge] mg. into a land that they know not. But the last four words are obscure, and, as Peake suggests, may be the commencement of a new sentence of which the remainder has been lost.

19–15:1. See introd. summary to section. Co. somewhat drastically considers that the expression “the throne of thy glory” (Jeremiah 14:21), i.e. Jerusalem, must belong to a later date than Jeremiah’s, and that this excludes from genuineness Jeremiah 14:19-22. He also, however, points to metrical difficulties, which Gi. (Metrik) gets over by a considerable amount of omissions. The latter part of Jeremiah 14:19 has already occurred in Jeremiah 8:15, but one passage (we can hardly say which) is probably quoted from the other.

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!
We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee.
20–22. In these vv. three pleas are urged on behalf of the people: (i) their contrition, (ii) God’s honour, (iii) their hopelessness of any other aid.

Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us.
21. the throne of thy glory] Jerusalem, or more particularly the Temple, where the visible glory was enthroned above the Ark.

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.
22. A fragment, as shewn by its subject, of the former of the two utterances combined in the section.

art not thou he, O Lord our God] rather, art not thou the LORD our God?

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