Jeremiah 12:11
They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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). Jeremiah 12:11The execution of the judgment on Judah and its enemies. - As to this passage, which falls into two strophes, Jeremiah 12:7-13 and Jeremiah 12:14-17, Hitz., Graf, and others pronounce that it stands in no kind of connection with what immediately precedes. The connection of the two strophes with one another is, however, allowed by these commentators; while Eichh. and Dahler hold Jeremiah 12:14-17 to be a distinct oracle, belonging to the time of Zedekiah, or to the seventh or eighth year of Jehoiakim. These views are bound up with an incorrect conception of the contents of the passage-to which in the first place we must accordingly direct our attention.

Jeremiah 12:7

"I have forsaken mine house, cast out mine heritage, given the beloved of my soul into the hand of its enemies. Jeremiah 12:8. Mine heritage is become unto me as a lion in the forest, it hath lifted up its voice against me; therefore have I hated it. Jeremiah 12:9. Is mine heritage to me a speckled vulture, that vultures are round about it? Come, gather all the beasts of the field, bring them to devour! Jeremiah 12:10. Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard, have trodden down my ground, have made the plot of my pleasure a desolate wilderness. Jeremiah 12:11. They have made it a desolation; it mourneth around me desolate; desolated is the whole land, because none laid it to heart. Jeremiah 12:12. On all the bare-peaked heights in the wilderness are spoilers come; for a sword of Jahveh's devours from one end of the land unto the other: no peace to all flesh. Jeremiah 12:13. They have sown wheat and reaped thorns; they have worn themselves weary and accomplished nothing. So then ye shall be put to shame for your produce, because of the hot anger of Jahve."

Jeremiah 12:14. "Thus saith Jahveh against all mine evil neighbours, that touch the heritage which I have given unto my people Israel: Behold, I pluck them out of their land, and the house of Judah will I pluck out of their midst. Jeremiah 12:15. But after I have plucked them out, I will pity them again, and bring them back, each to his heritage, and each into his land. Jeremiah 12:16. And it shall be, if they will learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name: As Jahveh liveth, as they have taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built in the midst of my people. Jeremiah 12:17. But if they hearken not, I will pluck up such a nation, utterly destroying it, saith Jahve."

Hitz. and Graf, in opposition to other commentators, will have the strophe, Jeremiah 12:7-13, to be taken not as prophecy, but as a lament on the devastation which Judah, after Jehoiakim's defection from Nebuchadnezzar in the eighth year of his reign, had suffered through the war of spoliation undertaken against insurgent Judah by those neighbouring nations that had maintained their allegiance to Chaldean supremacy, 2 Kings 24:2. In support of this, Gr. appeals to the use throughout of unconnected perfects, and to the prophecy, Jeremiah 12:14., joined with this description; which, he says, shows that it is something complete, existing, which is described, a state of affairs on which the prophecy is based. For although the prophet, viewing the future with the eyes of a seer as a thing present, often describes it as if it had already taken place, yet, he says, the context easily enables us in such a case to recognise the description as prophetic, which, acc. to Graf, is not the case here. This argument is void of all force. To show that the use of unconnected perfects proves nothing, it is sufficient to note that such perfects are used in Jeremiah 12:6, where Hitz. and Gr. take בּגדוּ and קראוּ as prophetic. So with the perfects in Jeremiah 12:7. The context demands this. For though no particle attaches Jeremiah 12:7 to what precedes, yet, as Graf himself alleges against Hitz., it is shown by the lack of any heading that the fragment (Jeremiah 12:7-13) is "not a special, originally independent oracle;" and just as clearly, that it can by no means be (as Gr. supposes) an appendix, stuck on to the preceding in a purely external and accidental fashion. These assumptions are disproved by the contents of the fragment, which are simply an expansion of the threat of expulsion from their inheritance conveyed to the people already in Jeremiah 11:14-17; an expansion which not merely points back to Jeremiah 11:14-17, but which most aptly attaches itself to the reproof given to the prophet for his complaint that judgment on the ungodly was delayed (Jeremiah 12:1-6); since it discloses to the prophet God's designs in regard to His people, and teaches that the judgment, though it may be delayed, will not be withheld.

Jeremiah 12:7-12

contain sayings of God, not of the prophet, who had left his house in Anathoth, as Zwingli and Bugenhagen thought. The perfects are prophetic, i.e., intimate the divine decree already determined on, whose accomplishment is irrevocably fixed, and will certainly by and by take place. "My house" is neither the temple nor the land inhabited by Israel, in support whereof appeal is unjustly made to passages like Hosea 8:1-14; Hosea 1:1-11; Hosea 9:15; Ezekiel 8:12; Ezekiel 9:9; but, as is clearly shown by the parallel "mine heritage," taken in connection with what is said of the heritage in Jeremiah 12:8, and by "the beloved of my soul," Jeremiah 12:7, means the people of Israel, or Judah as the existing representative of the people of God (house equals family); see on Hosea 8:1. נחלתי equals עם נחלה, Deuteronomy 4:20, cf. Isaiah 47:6; Isaiah 19:25. ידדוּת, object of my soul's love, cf. Jeremiah 11:15. This appellation, too, cannot apply to the land, but to the people of Israel - Jeremiah 12:8 contains the reason why Jahveh gives up His people for a prey. It has behaved to God like a lion, i.e., has opposed Him fiercely like a furious beast. Therefore He must withdraw His love. To give with the voice equals to lift up the voice, as in Psalm 46:7; Psalm 68:34. "Hate" is a stronger expression for the withdrawal of love, shown by delivering Israel into the hand of its enemies, as in Malachi 1:3. There is no reason for taking שׂנאתי as inchoative (Hitz., I learned to hate it). The "hating" is explained fully in the following verses. In Jeremiah 12:9 the meaning of העיט צבוּע is disputed. In all other places where it occurs עיט means a bird of prey, cf. Isaiah 46:11, or collective, birds of prey, Genesis 15:11; Isaiah 18:6. צבוּע, in the Rabbinical Heb. the hyaena, like the Arabic s[abu'un or s[ab'un. So the lxx have rendered it; and so, too, many recent comm., e.g., Gesen. in thes. But with this the asyndeton by way of connection with עיט does not well consist: is a bird of prey, a hyaena, mine heritage? On this ground Boch. (Hieroz. ii. p. 176, ed. Ros.) sought to make good the claim of עיט to mean "beast of prey," but without proving his case. Nor is there in biblical Heb. any sure case for צבוּע in the meaning of hyaena; and the Rabbinical usage would appear to be founded on this interpretation of the word in the passage before us. צבע, Arab. s[aba'a, means dip, hence dye; and so צבע, Judges 5:30, is dyed materials, in plur. parti-coloured clothes. To this meaning Jerome, Syr., and Targ. have adhered in the present case; Jerome gives avis discolor, whence Luther's der sprincklight Vogel; Chr. B. Mich., avis colorata. So, and rightly, Hitz., Ew., Graf, Ng. The prophet alludes to the well-known fact of natural history, that "whenever a strange-looking bird is seen amongst the others, whether it be an owl of the night amidst the birds of day, or a bird of gay, variegated plumage amidst those of duskier hue, the others pursue the unfamiliar intruder with loud cries and unite in attacking it." Hitz., with reference to Tacit. Ann. vi. 28, Sueton. Caes. 81, and Plin. Hist. N. x. 19. The question is the expression of amazement, and is assertory. לי is dat. ethic., intimating sympathetic participation (Ng.), and not to be changed, with Gr., into כּי. The next clause is also a question: are birds of prey round about it (mine heritage), sc. to plunder it? This, too, is meant to convey affirmation. With it is connected the summons to the beasts of prey to gather round Judah to devour it. The words here come from Isaiah 56:9. The beasts are emblem for enemies. התיוּ is not first mode or perfect (Hitz.), but imperat., contracted from האתיוּ, as in Isaiah 21:14. The same thought is, in Jeremiah 12:10, carried on under a figure that is more directly expressive of the matter in hand. The perfects in Jeremiah 12:10-12 are once more prophetic. The shepherds who (along with their flocks, of course) destroy the vineyard of the Lord are the kings of the heathen, Nebuchadnezzar and the kings subject to him, with their warriors. The "destroying" is expanded in a manner consistent with the figure; and here we must not fail to note the cumulation of the words and the climax thus produced. They tread down the plot of ground, turn the precious plot into a howling wilderness. With "plot of my pleasure" cf. 'ארץ חמדּה, Jeremiah 3:19.

In Jeremiah 12:11 the emblematical shepherds are brought forward in the more direct form of enemy. שׂמהּ, he (the enemy, "they" impersonal) has changed it (the plot of ground) into desolation. It mourneth עלי, round about me, desolated. Spoilers are come on all the bare-topped hills of the desert. מרבּר is the name for such parts of the country as were suited only for rearing and pasturing cattle, like the so-called wilderness of Judah to the west of the Dead Sea. A sword of the Lord's (i.e., the war sent by Jahveh, cf. Jeremiah 25:29; Jeremiah 6:25) devours the whole land from end to end; cf. Jeremiah 25:33. "All flesh" is limited by the context to all flesh in the land of Judah. בּשׂר in the sense of Genesis 6:12, sinful mankind; here: the whole sinful population of Judah. For them there is no שׁלום, welfare or peace.

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