Jeremiah 12:11
They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourns to me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man lays it to heart.
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(11) They have made it desolate.—The Hebrew is impersonal. “One has made it . . . ,” i.e., it is made desolate. As in other poetry of strong emotion, the prophet dwells with a strange solemn iteration on the same sound—“desolate,” “desolate,” “desolate”—thrice in the same breath. The Hebrew word shemâma, so uttered, must have sounded like a wail of lamentation.

Because no man layeth it to heart.—Better, no man laid it . . . The neglect of the past was bearing fruit in the misery of the present.

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.Desolate - The force of the protest lies in this word. Thrice the prophet uses it.

Layeth it to heart - Rather, laid it "to heart." The desolate land must put up its silent cry to God, because the people had refused to see the signs of the coming retribution.

11. mourneth unto me—that is, before Me. Eichorn translates, "by reason of Me," because I have given it to desolation (Jer 12:7).

because no man layeth it to heart—because none by repentance and prayer seek to deprecate God's wrath. Or, "yet none lays it to heart"; as in Jer 5:3 [Calvin].

They have made it desolate, Heb. He hath made it desolate; but it cannot be meant of God, for it is God that speaketh, and God is he mentioned in the next words: it must therefore either be understood of Nebuchadnezzar, the instrumental cause; or (one number being put for another) of the people or the rulers as the meritorious cause; and in that rueful state into which their sins had brought it it cried unto God. And one great cause of this sore judgment upon the land; as the people’s not laying to heart, not seriously considering, what God had done or was doing against it. They have made it desolate,.... Which is repeated to denote the certainty of it; astonishment at it, and that it might be observed:

and being desolate it mourneth unto me; not the inhabitants of it for their sins, the cause of this desolation; but the land itself, because of the calamities upon it; it crying to God, in its way, for a restoration to its former beauty and glory.

The whole land is made desolate; it was not only the case of Jerusalem, and the parts adjacent, but even of the whole land of Judea:

because no man layeth it to heart, took any notice of the judgment threatened, foretold by the prophets; nor repented of their sins, for which they were threatened with such a desolation; nor even were properly affected with the destruction itself; the earth seemed more sensible of it than they were; this expresses the great stupidity of this people.

They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth to me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth {l} it to heart.

(l) Because no man regards my word, or the plagues that I have sent on the land.

11. unto me] lit. upon me, i.e. to my sorrow. Dr. quotes the parallel in Genesis 48:7.

layeth it to heart] i.e. has taken warning in time.Verse 11. - Layeth it to heart; rather, laid it to heart. Inconsiderateness is repeatedly spoken of as an aggravation of the moral sickness of Israel (Isaiah 42:25; Isaiah 57:1, 11). In Jeremiah 12:5 and Jeremiah 12:6 the Lord so answers the prophet's complaint as to reprove his impatience, by intimating that he will have to endure still worse. Both parts of Jeremiah 12:5 are of the nature of proverbs. If even the race with footmen made him weary, how will he be able to compete with horses? תּחרה here and Jeremiah 22:15, a Tiph., Aramaic form for Hiph., arising by the hardening of the ה into ת-cf. Hosea 11:3, and Ew. 122, a - rival, vie with. The proverb exhibits the contrast between tasks of smaller and greater difficulty, applied to the prophet's relation to his enemies. What Jeremiah had to suffer from his countrymen at Anathoth was but a trifle compared with the malign assaults that yet awaited him in the discharge of his office. The second comparison conveys the same thought, but with a clearer intimation of the dangers the prophet will undergo. If thou puttest thy trust in a peaceful land, there alone countest on living in peace and safety, how wilt thou bear thyself in the glory of Jordan? The latter phrase does not mean the swelling of Jordan, its high flood, so as that we should with Umbr. and Ew., have here to think of the danger arising from a great and sudden inundation. It is the strip of land along the bank of the Jordan, thickly overgrown with shrubs, trees, and tall reeds, the lower valley, flooded when the river was swollen, where lions had their haunt, as in the reedy thickets of the Euphrates. Cf. v. Schubert, Resie, iii. S. 82; Robins. Bibl. Researches in Palestine, i. 535, and Phys. Geogr. of the Holy Land, p. 147. The "pride of the Jordan" is therefore mentioned in Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44; Zechariah 11:3, as the haunt of lions, and comes before us here as a region where men's lives were in danger. The point of the comparison is accordingly this: Thy case up till this time is, in spite of the onsets thou hast borne, to be compared to a sojourn in a peaceful land; but thou shalt come into much sorer case, where thou shalt never for a moment be sure of thy life. To illustrate this, he is told in Jeremiah 12:6 that his nearest of kin, and those dwelling under the same roof, will behave unfaithfully towards him. They will cry behind him מלא, plena voce (Jerome; cf. קראוּ מלאוּ, Jeremiah 4:5). They will cry after him, "as one cries when pursuing a thief or murderer" (Gr.). Perfectly apposite is therefore Luther's translation: They set up a hue and cry after thee. These words are not meant to be literally taken, but convey the thought, that even his nearest friends will persecute him as a malefactor. It is therefore a perverse design that seeks to find the distinction between the inhabitants of Anathoth and the brethren and housemates, in a contrast between the priests and the blood-relations. Although Anathoth was a city of the priests, the men of Anathoth need not have been all priests, since these cities were not exclusively occupied by priests. - In this reproof of the prophet there lies not merely the truth that much sorer suffering yet awaits him, but the truth besides, that the people's faithlessness and wickedness towards God and men will yet grow greater, ere the judgment of destruction fall upon Judah; for the divine long-suffering is not yet exhausted, nor has ungodliness yet fairly reached its highest point, so that the final destruction must straightway be carried out. But judgment will not tarry long. This thought is carried on in what follows.
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