Jeremiah 14:4
Because the ground is beat down, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.
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(4) The ground is chapt.—The word is so vivid as describing the long fissures of the soil in a time of drought that one admits with reluctance that no such meaning is found in the Hebrew word, which simply means is struck with terror. The translators apparently followed Luther, who gives lechzet—“languishes for thirst,” “gapes open with exhaustion,” and so applied to the earth, “is cracked or chapt.”

As the “gates” in Jeremiah 14:2 stood for the people of the city, so the “ground” stands here as in visible sympathy with the tillers of the soil, the “plowmen” of the next clause.

They covered their heads.—There is a singular, almost awful, pathos in the iteration of this description. Cities and country alike are plunged into the utter blackness of despair.

14:1-9 The people were in tears. But it was rather the cry of their trouble, and of their sin, than of their prayer. Let us be thankful for the mercy of water, that we may not be taught to value it by feeling the want of it. See what dependence husbandmen have upon the Divine providence. They cannot plough nor sow in hope, unless God water their furrows. The case even of the wild beasts was very pitiable. The people are not forward to pray, but the prophet prays for them. Sin is humbly confessed. Our sins not only accuse us, but answer against us. Our best pleas in prayer are those fetched from the glory of God's own name. We should dread God's departure, more than the removal of our creature-comforts. He has given Israel his word to hope in. It becomes us in prayer to show ourselves more concerned for God's glory than for our own comfort. And if we now return to the Lord, he will save us to the glory of his grace.Is chapt - Rather, is dismayed. "The ground" is used metaphorically for the people who until the ground.

In the earth - i. e., "in the land."

3. little ones—rather, "their inferiors," that is, domestics.

pits—cisterns for collecting rain water, often met with in the East where there are no springs.

covered … heads—(2Sa 15:30). A sign of humiliation and mourning.

The Hebrew word signifieth more largely than chapt, broken, spoiled, turned into dust, as is usual in great droughts. The word also which we translate ploughmen, doth not strictly signify ploughmen, but husbandmen: there having been no rain upon the earth, it brought forth little or no grass for those that employed themselves in breeding or feeding cattle; and it was so hard, and so much wanted moisture, that they could not plough nor sow, but were like men ashamed and confounded, who knew not what to do. Because the ground is chapt,.... Through the violent heat of the sun, and want of rain; or, is broken (y); and crumbles into dust. The Targum is,

"because of sins, the inhabitants of the earth are broken:''

for there was no rain in the earth; this was the reason of the dearth, and of the famine, and why there was no water in the pits, and the ground was parched. It is to be understood of the land of Judea only, not of the whole earth:

the ploughmen were ashamed; because they could not work the earth with their plough; were obliged to sit still, could do no work, or go on with their husbandry; nothing could be done for want of rain: they covered their heads; as before; See Gill on Jeremiah 14:3.

(y) "confracta", Schmidt; "attritam", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.
4. Because of the ground, etc.] rather, according to Du.’s excellent emendation, with a slight change in MT., virtually supported by LXX, The tillers of the ground are dismayed. This enables us to restore (with mg.) to the verb rendered “chapt,” but elsewhere used only of persons, its right sense, thus at the same time re-establishing parallelism of clauses.Verse 4. - The ground is chapt. Perhaps: but it is more obvious to render, is dismayed, according to the usual meaning of the word. Words which properly belong to human beings are often, by a "poetic fallacy," applied to inanimate objects (as in Ver. 2). In the earth; rather, in the land. In Jeremiah 13:25 the discourse draws to a conclusion in such a way that, after a repetition of the manner in which Jerusalem prepares for herself the doom announced, we have again, in brief and condensed shape, the disgrace that is to befall her. This shall be thy lot. Hitz. renders מנת מדּיך: portion of thy garment, that is allotted for the swelling folds of thy garment (cf. Ruth. Jer 3:15; 2 Kings 4:39), on the ground that מד never means mensura, but garment only. This is, however, no conclusive argument; since so many words admit of two plural forms, so that מדּים might be formed from מדּה; and since so many are found in the singular in the forms of both genders, so that, alongside of מדּה, מד might also be used in the sense of mensura; especially as both the signiff. measure and garment are derived from the same root meaning of מדד. We therefore adhere to the usual rendering, portio mensurae tuae, the share portioned out to thee. אשׁר, causal, because. Trusted in falsehood, i.e., both in delusive promises (Jeremiah 7:4, Jeremiah 7:8) and in the help of beingless gods (Jeremiah 16:19). - In the וגם־אני lies the force of reciprocation: because thou hast forgotten me, etc., I too have taken means to make retribution on your unthankfulness (Calv.). The threatening of this verse is word for word from Nahum 3:5. - For her lewd idolatry Jerusalem shall be carried off like a harlot amid mockery and disgrace. In Jeremiah 13:27 the language is cumulative, to lay as great stress as possible on Jerusalem's idolatrous ongoings. Thy lewd neighing, i.e., thy ardent longing for and running after strange gods; cf. Jeremiah 5:8; Jeremiah 2:24. זמּה, as in Ezekiel 16:27; Ezekiel 22:9, etc., of the crime of uncleanness, see on Leviticus 18:17. The three words are accusatives dependent on ראיתי, though separated from it by the specification of place, and therefore summed up again in "thine abominations." The addition: in the field, after "upon the hills," is meant to make more prominent the publicity of the idolatrous work. The concluding sentence: thou shalt not become clean for how long a time yet, is not to be regarded as contradictory of Jeremiah 13:23, which affirms that the people is beyond the reach of reformation; Jeremiah 13:23 is not a hyperbolical statement, reduced within its true limits here. What is said in Jeremiah 13:23 is true of the present generation, which cleaves immoveably to wickedness. It does not exclude the possibility of a future reform on the part of the people, a purification of it from idolatry. Only this cannot be attained for a long time, until after sore and long-lasting, purifying judgments. Cf. Jeremiah 12:14., Jeremiah 3:18.
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