Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza.XLVII.
(1) Against the Philistines.—Here also we have, as in the preceding chapter, a message connected with Jeremiah 25:20. The Gaza of this verse is the Azzah of that, and the date is fixed at a time prior to Necho’s attack on that city. Writers who, like Hitzig, identify the Oadytis of Herod. ii. 159, 3:5, with Gaza, suppose his attack to have been made on his return from his victory at Carchemish. The date of the prophecy is thus fixed in the interval between the two events. Ezekiel 25:15 should be compared as a contemporary and parallel prediction.
Thus saith the LORD; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl.(2) Behold, waters rise up out of the north.—The reference to the north indicates that the invasion which the prophet contemplates is that of Nebuchadnezzar, not of Pharaoh-necho. For the metaphor of the overflowing river see Jeremiah 46:7; Isaiah 8:7. For “the land and all that is therein” read, as in the margin, “the land and the fulness thereof.”
At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands;(3) The fathers shall not look back to their children.—The selfishness of panic was to reach its highest point, and to crush out the instincts of natural affection. Even fathers would be content to save themselves, regardless of their children’s lives.
Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor.(4) To cut off from Tyrus and Zidon.—The two Phœnician cities are coupled with Philistia. Both, as occupying the sea-board of Palestine, were to suffer from Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion. Psalm 83:7 indicates that they were not unfrequently in alliance. In the “helper that remaineth” we have probably a reference to the foreign mercenaries, especially the Philistines, employed by the two great commercial cities. “Caphtor” has been identified with Crete, Cyprus, Caria, Cappadocia, and the delta of the Nile. On the latter view the name is held to be connected with Coptic. Amos 9:7 points to a migration of the people known as Philistines from that region, and there is accordingly a touch of scorn in the way in which Jeremiah speaks of them as the mere “remnant of Caphtor.” In agreement with the first view we find among David’s mercenaries the Cherethim and Pelethim (2Samuel 8:18), the two names being probably modifications of Cretans and Philistines. The ethnological table of Genesis 10:14 connects both the Philistines and the Caphtorim with Mizraim or Egypt, and is, so far as it goes, in favour of the Egyptian identification.
Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself?(5) Baldness is come upon Gaza.—The baldness is the outward sign of extremest mourning (Jeremiah 48:37; Isaiah 15:2-3), perhaps, also, of extremest desolation (Isaiah 7:20).
Ashkelon is cut off . . .—Better, perhaps, Ashkelon is speechless. The LXX. apparently followed a different text, and gives “the remnant of the Anakim” instead of “the remnant of their valley.” Hitzig adopts this rendering, and connects it with the known fact that a remnant of the old gigantic non-Semitic race had taken refuge among the Philistines (1Samuel 17:4; 2Samuel 21:22; 1Chronicles 20:5-8) after they had been driven from Hebron (Joshua 14:12-15; Joshua 15:13-14). Others, without adopting the LXX. reading, interpret the word rendered “their valley” as meaning, as in Isaiah 33:19, those that speak an unintelligible language, barbarians (Amakim), and suppose this form to have passed in the LXX. into the more familiar form of Anakim. The English version, however, is accepted by many critics, and may refer to Ashkelon and Gaza as the “remnant,” the last resource of the valley (Emek) or low-country of the Philistines, more commonly known as the Shephelah.
How long wilt thou cut thyself?—The words point to a ritual of supplication, like that of the priests of Baal in 1Kings 18:28, as prevailing among the Philistines.
O thou sword of the LORD, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still.(6) O thou sword of the Lord . . .—This is the question and entreaty of the Philistines, “When will there be an end of war?” And the prophet has but one answer: the sword must do its work till it has done what Jehovah had appointed it to do.
How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it.(7) Against the sea shore.—In the “sea shore,” as in Ezekiel 25:16, we have the term specially appropriate to the territory of the Philistines.