Jeremiah 12:10
Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
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(10) Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard.—The use of the word “pastors,” with all its modern spiritual associations, instead of “shepherds” (Jeremiah is the only book in the Old Testament, it may be noted, in which the word occurs), is peculiarly unhappy in this passage, where the “pastors” are reckless and destructive. Here the image (as in Jeremiah 6:3) is that of the shepherds of a wild, nomadic tribe (who represent the Chaldean and other invaders), breaking down the fence of the vineyard, and taking in their flocks to browse upon the tender shoots of the vine. The thought is the same as that of the “boar out of the wood” of Psalm 80:13, but the “shepherds” are introduced to bring in the thought of the organisation and systematic plan of destruction.

Jeremiah 12:10-11. Many pastures have destroyed my vineyard — Many eaters, or devourers, as Dr. Waterland translates רעים רבים, by which the Chaldee Paraphrast understands the generals of the Chaldean army, an interpretation which seems to be justified by the two following verses: though some explain it of the rulers of the Jews, who, by their wicked government, and equally wicked example, had ruined their country. God calls Judea his vineyard and pleasant portion, because of the care he took to cultivate and improve it, and of the fruit he might justly have expected from it: see note on Jeremiah 11:16. Being desolate, it mourneth unto me — Unto God; that is, lying in a neglected and doleful condition, it becomes a sad spectacle to me, and makes a sort of silent complaint, begging to be restored to its former prosperity. Because no man layeth it to heart — The principal cause of this great judgment is, that the people do not see and acknowledge my hand in the calamities they feel, nor humble themselves under them, but remain in general unaffected, stupid, and obstinate.12:7-13 God's people had been the dearly-beloved of his soul, precious in his sight, but they acted so, that he gave them up to their enemies. Many professing churches become like speckled birds, presenting a mixture of religion and the world, with its vain fashions, pursuits, and pollutions. God's people are as men wondered at, as a speckled bird; but this people had by their own folly made themselves so; and the beasts and birds are called to prey upon them. The whole land would be made desolate. But until the judgments were actually inflicted, none of the people would lay the warning to heart. When God's hand is lifted up, and men will not see, they shall be made to feel. Silver and gold shall not profit in the day of the Lord's anger. And the efforts of sinners to escape misery, without repentance and works answerable thereto, will end in confusion.Nebuchadnezzar and his confederate kings trampled Judah under foot, as heedless of the ruin they were inflicting as the shepherds would be who led their flocks to browse in spring upon the tender shoots of the vine. 10. pastors—the Babylonian leaders (compare Jer 12:12; Jer 6:3).

my vineyard—(Isa 5:1, 5).

trodden my portion—(Isa 63:18).


pastors most here think civil persons, not ecclesiastical officers, are meant; but they are divided, some interpreting it of the rulers and princes of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, who took Jerusalem, and destroyed Judah, called God’s vineyard, Isaiah 5:1,2; others understanding it of the rulers of the Jews, who by their wicked government, and as wicked example, had ruined their country, and caused God to turn the country which he had chosen for his portion, and declared such a pleasure in, into a wilderness, and such a wilderness as was not. only thinly inhabited, but wholly desolate. Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard,.... This is a metaphor which is often used of the people of Israel and Judah; see Psalm 80:8, the pastors that destroyed them are not their own governors, civil or religious, but Heathen princes, Nebuchadnezzar and his generals. So the Targum paraphrases it,

"many kings slay my people;''

so Kimchi and Ben Melech.

They have trodden my portion under foot; the people of the Jews, that were his portion, and before called his heritage; whom the Chaldeans subdued, and reduced to extreme servitude and bondage; and were as the dirt under their feet, greatly oppressed and despised.

They have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness; by pulling down stately edifices, unwalling of towers, and destroying men; so that there were none to manure the fields, to dress the vineyards, and keep gardens and orchards in good case; but all were come to ruin and what before was a delightful paradise was now like an heath or desert.

Many shepherds have destroyed my {k} vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

(k) He prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem, by the captain of Nebuchadnezzar, whom he calls pastors.

10. shepherds] See on Jeremiah 6:3.

vineyard] For this figure cp. Isaiah 5:1 ff.

have trodden my portion under foot] The figure is that of the destruction of vineyards by wandering hordes and their flocks.Verse 10. - Another simpler and more natural image, expressing the same idea, as these in Ver. 9. The favorite way of representing Jehovah's relation to his people is that of a vine-proprietor to his vineyard (see on Jeremiah 2:21). How would a vineyard be ruined if a band of shepherds were to drive their flocks among the tender vine-shoots! The many pastors (or, shepherds) are clearly Nebuchadnezzar and his generals (comp. Jeremiah 6:3). My pleasant portion. Jehovah is the "portion" of his people; his people and its land are the "portion" of Jehovah (see on Jeremiah 10:16). The epithet "pleasant" expresses the emotion of the surprised speaker. Jeremiah 12:4 gives the motive of his prayer: How long shall the earth suffer from the wickedness of these hypocrites? be visited with drought and dearth for their sins? This question is not to be taken as a complaint that God is punishing without end; Hitz. so takes it, and then proposes to delete it as being out of all connection in sense with Jeremiah 12:3 or Jeremiah 12:5. It is a complaint because of the continuance of God's chastisement, drawn down by the wickedness of the apostates, which are bringing the land to utter ruin. The mourning of the land and the withering of the herb is a consequence of great drought; and the drought is a divine chastisement: cf. Jeremiah 3:3; Jeremiah 5:24., Jeremiah 14:2., etc. But this falls not only on the unfaithful, but upon the godly too, and even the beasts, cattle, and birds suffer from it; and so the innocent along with the guilty. There seems to be injustice in this. To put an end to this injustice, to rescue the innocent from the curse brought by the wickedness of the ungodly, the prophet seeks the destruction of the wicked. ספה, to be swept away. The 3rd pers. fem. sing. with the plural ות-, as in Joel 1:20 and often; cf. Ew. 317, a, Gesen. 146, 3. "They that dwell therein" are inhabitants of the land at large, the ungodly multitude of the people, of whom it is said in the last clause: they say, He will not see our end. The sense of these words is determined by the subject. Many follow the lxx (οὐκ ὄψεται ὁ Θεὸς ὁδοὺς ἡμῶν) and refer the seeing to God. God will not see their end, i.e., will not trouble Himself about it (Schnur., Ros., and others), or will not pay any heed to their future fate, so that they may do all they choose unpunished (Ew.). But to this Graf has justly objected, that ראה, in all the passages that can be cited for this sense of the word, is used only of that which God sees, regards as already present, never of that which is future. "He sees" is to be referred to the prophet. Of him the ungodly say, he shall not see their end, because they intend to put him out of the way (Hitz.); or better, in a less special sense, they ridicule the idea that his prophecies will be fulfilled, and say: He shall not see our end, because his threatenings will not come to pass.
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