Thus said the LORD against all my evil neighbors, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Thus saith the Lord.—The introduction of a new message from Jehovah, speaking through the prophet, is indicated by the usual formula.
Mine evil neighbours.—These were the neighbouring nations—Edomites, Moabites, Hagarenes—who rejoiced in the fall of Judah, and attacked her in her weakness (2Kings 24:2; Psalm 83:6-9; Psalm 137:7). In the midst of his burning indignation against the sins of his own people the prophet is still a patriot, and is yet more indignant at those who attack her. For them, too, there shall be a like chastisement (comp. Jeremiah 25:18-26), but not for them so signal a deliverance as that in store for Judah. They should be “plucked out” from their own land, Judah from the land of its exile.Jeremiah 12:14-15. Thus saith the Lord, against, or concerning, all mine evil neighbours — By these are meant the Moabites, Ammonites, Idumeans, and Philistines; against whom Jeremiah prophesies, chap. 47., 48., 49.; and Ezekiel, chap. 25. These are called evil neighbours, because of the spite and ill-will which they showed toward the Jews on all occasions: that touch the inheritance, &c. — Who lie near to, and border upon, Judea: Behold, I will pluck them out, &c. — These people were accordingly wasted and spoiled, and part of them carried into captivity by the Babylonians. And pluck out the house of Judah, &c. — Many of the Jews were carried captive, or went for safety into those neighbouring countries, before the general Babylonish captivity, Jeremiah 15:4; Jeremiah 11:11. Of these Jews some were carried captive, together with the natives of those countries, by the Chaldeans afterward: others went down into Egypt. See chap. 43., 44. Here is foretold the restoration of the Jews from their several dispersions. Compare Jeremiah 32:37; Ezekiel 28:25-26. This promise was partly fulfilled in the time succeeding the Babylonish captivity, Psalm 147:2; but will be more fully accomplished at the final restoration of that nation, when the fulness of the Gentiles will likewise be brought into the church, which is foretold in the words of the next verse. And after that I have plucked them out — In justice for the punishment of their sins, and in jealousy for the honour of Israel; I will return — Will change my way, and have compassion on them — Though, as being heathen, they can lay no claim to the mercies of the covenant made with Abraham and his seed, yet they shall have benefit by the compassions of the Creator, who will look upon them as the work of his hands. And will bring them again every man to his heritage — Thus, after Jeremiah had threatened severe judgments upon several countries, he concludes with a general promise of their return from their captivity in the latter days; which promise probably relates chiefly to their conversion under the gospel.
Evil neighbors - The Syrians, Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and Philistines, who at all times took advantage of Judah's weakness. The special mercy to Judah was the prelude to mercy to the whole Gentile world.
pluck them out … pluck out … Judah—(Compare end of Jer 12:16). During the thirteen years that the Babylonians besieged Tyre, Nebuchadnezzar, after subduing Cœlo-Syria, brought Ammon, Moab, &c., and finally Egypt, into subjection [Josephus, Antiquities, 10:9.7]. On the restoration of these nations, they were to exchange places with the Jews. The latter were now in the midst of them, but on their restoration they were to be "in the midst of the Jews," that is, as proselytes to the true God (compare Mic 5:7; Zec 14:16). "Pluck them," namely, the Gentile nations: in a bad sense. "Pluck Judah": in a good sense; used to express the force which was needed to snatch Judah from the tyranny of those nations by whom they had been made captives, or to whom they had fled; otherwise they never would have let Judah go. Previously he had been forbidden to pray for the mass of the Jewish people. But here he speaks consolation to the elect remnant among them. Whatever the Jews might be, God keeps His covenant.touched his inheritance, not so much by contiguity of habitation, as by rapacious fingers to do them hurt, insulting over them when the hand of God was upon them, and contributing to their affliction and misery by helping their enemies against them, as did the Edomites, Philistines, Moabites, &c.:
I will also pluck them out of their land, I will bring the sword upon them also, and they shall be led into captivity; and though they may have made some inroads upon my people, and have carried away some of them into captivity, yet I will fetch them out of their captivity.
That touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; meaning not only that they bordered on the land of Canaan, and so might be said to touch it, but that they did hurt unto it; in which sense the word touch is used, Psalm 105:15, the land of Canaan was an inheritance which was distributed by lot to the children of Israel, who were a people dear unto the Lord, as this shows; and therefore they that touched them, or their inheritance, as to do them any harm, touched the apple of his eye, and which he resented greatly, Zechariah 2:8.
Behold, I will pluck them out of their land; cause them to be carried captive into other lands, or be destroyed in their own; see Jeremiah chapters forty six through forty nine: and pluck out the house of Judah from among them; such of the Jews they had formerly carried captive, or who had fled to them upon the Chaldean invasion; these the Lord would cause to come forth from among them, and return them to their own land.Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. and will pluck up … from among them] This clause, occurring in a passage otherwise dealing solely with foreign nations, is suspiciously like a gloss. Gi. for this and metrical reasons omits the clause, omitting also “which I have caused … to inherit.”
14–17. See introd. summary to the section.Verse 14. - Here occurs a transition. The prophet comes forward with a denunciation in the name of Jehovah. All mine evil neighbors; the hostile, peoples, mentioned, in 2 Kings 24. My neighbors, because Jehovah "dwelleth in Zion." Pluck them out of their land; viz. by deportation into a foreign land. Judah and the neighboring nations shall share the same fate. This is indicated by the use of the same verb "to pluck out" in the next clause with reference to Judah (comp. 1 Kings 14:15, Hebrew). In the case of Judah, however, to be "plucked out" is a mercy as well as a judgment, considering who they are "out of" whose "midst" the Jews are "plucked." 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.
"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.
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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