Jeremiah 14:17
Therefore you shall say this word to them; Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow.
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(17) Thou shalt say this word.—Though not in form a prediction, no words could express more emphatically the terrible nature of the judgments implied in the preceding verse. The language (in part a reproduction of Jeremiah 13:17) is all but identical with that which recurs again and again in the Lamentations (Jeremiah 1:16; Jeremiah 2:11; Jeremiah 2:18), and may be looked upon as the germ of which those elegies of woe were the development.

Jeremiah 14:17-18. Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them — Either, 1st, The word spoken above; the threatenings denounced in the last two verses against the false prophets and the people, the deceivers and the deceived: or, 2d, As the passage is generally interpreted, and as our translators have understood it, the words following, namely, the prophet’s lamentation and prayer. Let mine eyes run down with tears — As if he had said, However insensible you are of your own condition, yet God commands me to bewail those calamities which I foresee are coming upon you. For the virgin daughter of my people — That is as dear to me as a daughter to her father; is broken with a great breach — Much greater than any she has yet sustained. The dissolution of a government, or body politic, is called a breach, by way of allusion to the breaking or disjointing the limbs of a human body. The prophet speaks as if he already saw the miseries attending the invasion of the country by the Chaldeans. If I go forth into the field, &c. — Multitudes lie dead in the field, slain with the sword; and in the city multitudes lie dying for want of food: doleful spectacle! Yea both the prophet and the priest — Namely, the false prophets, who flattered the people with their lies, and the wicked priests, who persecuted the true prophets, are now expelled their country, and go about into a land they know not — Either as prisoners and captives, whithersoever their conquerors lead them; or, as fugitives and vagabonds, wherever they can find shelter. Some understand it of the true prophets, Ezekiel and Daniel, who were carried to Babylon with the rest. But as the Hebrew word here used, סחרו, properly signifies, to go about on account of traffic, or, merchandise, the sense of the clause may be, “The prophet and the priest carry on a trade against the land, and acknowledge it not.” That is, they deceive the people with lying divinations for the sake of gain, and when accused of it, will not own their guilt. Blaney renders it, They go trafficking about the city, meaning, “They go about with their false doctrine and lying predictions, as peddlers do with their wares, seeking their own gain,” and take no knowledge — That is, “pay no regard to the miseries in which their country is involved, but act as if they were totally insensible of them.”14:17-22 Jeremiah acknowledged his own sins, and those of the people, but pleaded with the Lord to remember his covenant. In their distress none of the idols of the Gentiles could help them, nor could the heavens give rain of themselves. The Lord will always have a people to plead with him at his mercy-seat. He will heal every truly repenting sinner. Should he not see fit to hear our prayers on behalf of our guilty land, he will certainly bless with salvation all who confess their sins and seek his mercy.A message from God to the effect that the calamity would be so overwhelming as to cause perpetual weeping; it is set before the people under the representation of Jeremiah's own sorrow.

The virgin daughter of my people - The epithet testifies to God's previous care of Judah. She had been as jealously guarded from other nations as virgins are in an oriental household (compare Sol 4:12).

17. (Jer 9:1; La 1:16). Jeremiah is desired to weep ceaselessly for the calamities coming on his nation (called a "virgin," as being heretofore never under foreign yoke), (Isa 23:4). No text from Poole on this verse. Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them,.... Instead of praying for the people, the prophet has a doleful lamentation put into his mouth, to pronounce in their hearing, in order to assure them of the calamities that were coming upon them, and to affect them with them.

Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: or "be silent" (p); signifying that there would be quickly just reason and occasion for incessant grief and sorrow in them; and if they were so hardened as not to be affected with their case, he could not refrain shedding tears night and day in great abundance; which would have a voice in them, to call upon them to weeping and lamentation also. Some take these words to be a direction and instruction to the people; so the Septuagint,

"bring down upon your eyes tears night and day, and let them not cease;''

and the Arabic version,

"pour out of your eyes tears night and day continually;''

and the Syriac version is,

"let our eyes drop tears night and day incessantly.''

For the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow; cities are sometimes called virgins, which were never taken; and so Jerusalem here, it having never been taken since it was in the hands of the people of Judah; nor were its inhabitants as yet carried captive, but now would be; which, together with the famine and the sword, by which many should perish, is the great breach and grievous blow spoken of; and which is given as a reason, and was a sufficient one, for sorrow and mourning.

(p) "sileant", Schmidt; "taceant", Pegninus, Montanus.

Therefore thou shalt say this word to them; Let my eyes run down with {l} tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow.

(l) The false prophets promised peace and assurance, but Jeremiah calls to tears, and repentance for their affliction, which is at hand, as in Jer 9:1, Lam 1:16,2:18.

17. grievous] Heb. sick. See on Jeremiah 10:19.Verses 17-21. - The prophet's grief, and second intercession. Verse 17. - Therefore thou shalt say, etc. There is something strange and contrary to verisimilitude in the prefixing of this formula, not to a Divine revelation, but to a mere expression of the pained human feelings of the prophet. It is possible that the editor of Jeremiah's prophecies thought the paragraph which begins here needed something to link it with the preceding passage, and selected his formula rather unsuitably. Let mine eyes run down, etc. (comp. Jeremiah 13:27). Jeremiah's tender compassion shows itself in his choice of the expression, the virgin daughter of my people, just as we feel an added bitterness in the premature death of a cherished maiden. The Lord's answer. - Jeremiah 14:10. "Thus saith Jahveh unto this people: Thus they loved to wander, their feet they kept not back; and Jahveh hath no pleasure in them, now will He remember their iniquities and visit their sins. Jeremiah 14:11. And Jahveh hath said unto me: Pray not for this people for their good. Jeremiah 14:12. When they fast, I hear not their cry; and when they bring burnt-offering and meat-offering, I have no pleasure in them; but by sword, and famine, and pestilence will I consume them. Jeremiah 14:13. Then said I: Ah Lord Jahveh, behold, the prophets say to them, Ye shall see no sword, and famine shall not befall you, but assured peace give I in this place. Jeremiah 14:14. And Jahveh said unto me: Lies do the prophets prophesy in my name: I have not sent them, nor commanded them, nor spoken to them; lying vision, and divination, and a thing of nought, and deceit of their heart they prophesy to you. Jeremiah 14:15. Therefore thus saith Jahveh concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, when I have not sent them, who yet say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land: By sword and famine shall these prophets perish. Jeremiah 14:16. And the people to whom they prophesy shall lie cast out upon the streets of Jerusalem, by reason of the famine and of the sword, and none will bury them, them and their wives, their sons and their daughters; and I pour their wickedness upon them. Jeremiah 14:17. And thou shalt say to them this word: Let mine eyes run down with tears day and night and let them not cease; for with a great breach is broken the virgin-daughter of my people, with a very grievous blow. Jeremiah 14:18. If I go forth into the field, behold the slain with the sword; and if I come into the city, behold them that pine with famine; for prophet and priest pass into a land and know it not."

To the prophet's prayer the Lord answers in the first place, Jeremiah 14:10, by pointing to the backsliding of the people, for which He is now punishing them. In the "thus they love," etc., lies a backward reference to what precedes. The reference is certainly not to the vain going for water (Jeremiah 14:3), as Chr. B. Mich. and R. Salomo Haccohen thought it was; nor is it to the description of the animals afflicted by thirst, Jeremiah 14:5 and Jeremiah 14:6, in which Ng. finds a description of the passionate, unbridled lust after idolatry, the real and final cause of the ruin that has befallen Israel. Where could be the likeness between the wild ass's panting for breath and the wandering of the Jews? That to which the "thus" refers must be sought for in the body of the prayer to which Jahveh makes answer, as Ros. rightly saw. Not by any means in the fact that in Jeremiah 14:9 the Jews prided themselves on being the people of God and yet went after false gods, so that God answered: ita amant vacillare, as good as to say: ita instabiles illos esse, ut nunc ab ipso, nunc ab aliis auxilium quaerant (Ros.); for נוּע cannot here mean the waving and swaying of reeds, but only the wandering after other gods, cf. Jeremiah 2:23, Jeremiah 2:31. This is shown by the addition: they kept not back their feet, cf. with Jeremiah 2:25, where in the same reference the withholding of the feet is enjoined. Graf is right in referring huts to the preceding prayer: "Thus, in the same degree as Jahveh has estranged Himself from His people (cf. Jeremiah 14:8 and Jeremiah 14:9), have they estranged themselves from their God." They loved to wander after strange gods, and so have brought on themselves God's displeasure. Therefore punishment comes on them. The second clause of the verse is a reminiscence of Hosea 8:13. - After mentioning the reason why He punishes Judah, the Lord in Jeremiah 14:11. rejects the prayer of the prophet, because He will not hear the people's cry to Him. Neither by means of fasts nor sacrifice will they secure God's pleasure. The prophet's prayer implies that the people will humble themselves and turn to the Lord. Hence God explains His rejection of the prayer by saying that He will give no heed to the people's fasting and sacrifices. The reason of this appears from the context - namely, because they turn to Him only in their need, while their heart still cleaves to the idols, so that their prayers are but lip-service, and their sacrifices a soulless formality. The suffix in רצם refers not to the sacrifices, but, like that in רנּתם, to the Jews who, by bringing sacrifices, seek to win God's love. כּי, but, introducing the antithesis to "have no pleasure in them." The sword in battle, famine, and pestilence, at the siege of the cities, are the three means by which God designs to destroy the backsliding people; cf. Leviticus 26:25.

In spite of the rejection of his prayer, the prophet endeavours yet again to entreat God's favour for the people, laying stress, Jeremiah 14:13, on the fact that they had been deceived and confirmed in their infatuation by the delusive forecastings of the false prophets who promised peace. Peace of truth, i.e., peace that rests on God's faithfulness, and so: assured peace will I give you. Thus spoke these prophets in the name of Jahveh; cf. on this Jeremiah 4:10; Jeremiah 5:12. Hitz. and Graf propose to change שׁלום אמת into שׁלום ואמת, acc. to Jeremiah 33:6 and Isaiah 39:8, because the lxx have ἀλήθειαν καὶ εἰρήνην. But none of the passages cited furnishes sufficient ground for this. In Jeremiah 33:6 the lxx have rendered εἰρήνην καὶ πίστιν, in Isaiah 39:8, εἰρήνη καὶ δικαιοσύνη; giving thereby a clear proof that we cannot draw from their rendering any certain inferences as to the precise words of the original text. Nor do the parallels prove anything, since in them the expression often varies in detail. But there can be no doubt that in the mouth of the pseudo-prophets "assured peace" is more natural than "peace and truth." But the Lord does not allow this excuse. He has not sent the prophets that so prophesy: they prophesy lying vision, divination, falsehood, and deceit, and shall themselves be destroyed by sword and famine. The cumulation of the words, "lying vision," etc., shows God's wrath and indignation at the wicked practices of these men. Graf wants to delete ו before אליל, and to couple אליל with קסם, so as to make one idea: prophecy of nought. For this he can allege none other than the erroneous reason that קסם, taken by itself, does not sufficiently correspond to "lying vision," inasmuch as, he says, it has not always a bad sense attached to it; whereas the fact is that it is nowhere used for genuine prophecy. The Chet. אלוּל and תּרמוּת are unusual formations, for which the usual forms are substituted in the Keri. Deceit of their heart is not self-deceit, but deceit which their heart has devised; cf. Jeremiah 23:26. But the people to whom these prophets prophesied are to perish by sword and famine, and to lie unburied in the streets of Jerusalem; cf. Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 16:4. They are not therefore held excused because false prophets told them lies, for they have given credit to these lies, lies that flattered their sinful passions, and have not been willing to hear or take to heart the word of the true prophets, who preached repentance and return to God.

(Note: The Berleburg Bible says: "They wish to have such teachers, and even to bring it about that there shall be so many deceiving workers, because they can hardly even endure or listen to the upright ones. That is the reason why it is to go no better with them than we see it is." Calvin too has suggested the doubt: posset tamen videri parum humaniter agere Deus, quod tam duras paenas infligit miseris hominibus, qui aliunde decepti sunt, and has then given the true solution: certum est, nisi ultro mundus appeteret mendacia, non tantam fore efficaciam diaboli ad fallendum. Quod igitur ita rapiuntur homines ad imposturas, hoc fit eorum culpa, quoniam magis propensi sunt ad vanitatem, quam ut se Deo et verbo ejus subjiciant.)

To Hitz. it seems surprising that, in describing the punishment which is to fall on seducers and seduced, there should not be severer judgment, in words at least, levelled against the seducers as being those involved in the deeper guilt; whereas the very contrary is the case in the Hebrew text. Hitz. further proposes to get rid of this discrepancy by conjectures founded on the lxx, yet without clearly informing us how we are to read. But the difficulty solves itself as soon as we pay attention to the connection. The portion of the discourse before us deals with the judgment which is to burst on the godless people, in the course of which those who had seduced the people are only casually mentioned. For the purpose in hand, it was sufficient to say briefly of the seducers that they too should perish by sword and famine who affirmed that these punishments should not befall the people, whereas it was necessary to set before the people the terrors of this judgment in all their horror, in order not to fail of effect. With the reckoning of the various classes of persons: they, their wives, etc., cf. the account of their participation in idolatry, Jeremiah 7:18. Hitz. rightly paraphrases ושׁפכתּי: and in this wise will I pour out. רעתם, not: the calamity destined for them, but: their wickedness which falls on them with its consequences, cf. Jeremiah 2:19, Hosea 9:15, for propheta videtur causam reddere, cur Deus horribile illud judicium exequi statuerit contra Judaeos, nempe quoniam digni erant tali mercede (Calv.).

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