Jeremiah 15
Clarke's Commentary
God declares to Jeremiah that not even Moses and Samuel, whose prayers had been so prevalent, could divert him from his purpose of punishing so wicked a people, Jeremiah 15:1. Accordingly their captivity is again announced in a variety of images so full of terror, Jeremiah 15:2-9, that the prophet complains of his own hard fate in being obliged to deliver such unwelcome messages, Jeremiah 15:10; for which too he is reproved, Jeremiah 15:11-14. Immediately he appeals to God for his sincerity, and supplicates pardon, Jeremiah 15:15-18; and God tempers his reproof with promising again to protect him in the faithful discharge of his duty, Jeremiah 15:19-21.

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.
Though Moses and Samuel - Moses had often supplicated for the people; and in consequence they were spared. See Exodus 32:11 and following verses, Numbers 14:13. Samuel also had prayed for the people, and God heard him, 1 Samuel 7:9; but if these or the most holy men were now to supplicate for this people, he would not spare them.

Cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth - Do not bring them into my presence by your prayers; let them go forth into captivity.

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.
Whither shall we go forth? - Such as are for death, to death - Some shall be destroyed by the pestilence, here termed death. See Jeremiah 18:21. Others shall be slain by the sword in battle, and in the sackage of cities. Others shall perish by famine, shall be starved to death through the mere want of the necessaries of life; and the rest shall go into captivity. There shall be different sorts of punishments inflicted on them according to the nature of their transgressions. Some shall be punished in one way, and some in another.

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.
I will appoint over them four kinds - There shall appear four instruments of my justice.

1. The sword to slay.

2. The dogs to tear what is slain.

3. The fowls of the heaven to feed on the dead carcasses. And,

4. The wild beasts to destroy all that the fowls have left.

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.
I will cause them to be removed into an kingdoms of the earth - This seems to have respect to the succeeding state of the Jews in their different generations; and never was there a prophecy more literally fulfilled; and it is still a standing monument of Divine truth. Let infidelity cast its eyes on the scattered Jews whom it may meet with in every civilized nation of the world; and then let it deny the truth of this prophecy, if it can. The Jews are scattered through every nation, and yet are not a nation; nor do they form even a colony on any part of the face of the earth. Behold the truth and the justice of God!

For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?
Who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? - Perhaps there is not a more despised nor a more degraded people under the sun. Scarcely any one thinks himself called upon to do a kind office for a Jew. Their character is bad in society, and they are not at all solicitous to redeem it.

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.
I am weary with repenting - With repeatedly changing my purpose. I have often, after purposing to punish, showed them mercy. I will do it no longer; it is useless. I took them often at their promise, and in every instance they have failed.

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 with a fan - There is no pure grain; all is chaff.

In the gates of the land - The places of public justice: and there it shall be seen that the judgments that have fallen upon them have been highly merited. And from these places of fanning they shall go out into their captivity.

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.
The mother of the young men - The metropolis or mother city, Jerusalem.

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 that hath borne seven - She that hath had a numerous offspring; Jerusalem, the parent of so many cities, villages, and families in the land. Seven signifies a complete or full number.

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.
A man of contention to the whole earth! - To the whole Land, to all his countrymen; though he had done nothing to merit their displeasure.

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.
I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil - This was literally fulfilled; see Jeremiah 39:11, etc. Nebuchadnezzar had given strict charge to Nebuzaradan, commander in chief, to look well to Jeremiah, to do him no harm, and to grant him all the privileges he was pleased to ask.

Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?
Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel? - Shall our weak forces be able to oppose and overcome the powers of the Chaldeans? נחשת nechasheth, which we here translate steel, property signifies brass or copper united with tin, which gives it much hardness, and enables it to bear a good edge.

Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders.
Thy substance - will I give to the spoil without price - Invaluable property shall be given up to thy adversaries. Or, without price - thou shalt have nothing for it in return.

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.
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.
O Lord - remember me, and visit me - Let me not be carried away into captivity; and it does not appear that he had ever been taken to Babylon. After the capture of the city he went into Egypt; and either died there, or was put to death by his countrymen.

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 word was - the joy and rejoicing of mine heart - When I did receive the prophetic message, I did rejoice in the honor thou hadst done me; and I faithfully testified thy will to them. They have become mine enemies; not because there was any evil in me, but because I was faithful to thee.

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.
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?
Wilt thou be altogether unto me as - waters that fail? - Leaning either springs, which in the height of summer grow dry; or, like that phenomenon in the sandy desert, where, by a peculiar action of the air on the rising vapors, the resemblance of water is produced, so that the traveler, deceived, rejoices that he is come, in the sandy desert, to the verge of a beautiful lake; but the farther he travels, it is still at the same distance, and at last vanishes; and he finds the whole was an illusion, for the waters have failed. Nothing can exceed the disappointment of the farmer whose subsistence absolutely depends on the periodical rains, when these fail, or fall short of their usual quantity. Some times the rice is sown and springs up in the most promising manner; but the latter rains fail, and whole fields of young rice wither and perish.

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.
If thou return - By repentance unto me, -

Then will I bring thee again - Restore thee to thy own country. But some think the words are spoken to the prophet in reference to his ministry. He had greatly repined because of the persecutions which he endured. The Lord reprehends him, and is about to take from him the prophetic gift; but exhorts him first to take the precious from the vile - not to attend to the deceitful words of the people, but boldly declare the message he had given him; not to return unto the people, but let the people return unto him. And then he should be as God's mouth - his words should appear to be what they were, the genuine words of God; and the people should be obliged to acknowledge them as such.

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.
I will make thee - a fenced brazen wall - While thou art faithful to me, none of them shall be able to prevail against thee.

And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.
I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked - From the power of this evil people.

And I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible - Out of the power of the Chaldean armies. Every thing took place as God had promised, for no word of his can ever fall to the ground.

Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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