Jeremiah 16:16
Behold, I will send for many fishers, said the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) I will send for many fishers . . .—The words refer to the threat, not to the promise. The “fishers,” as in Amos 4:2; Habakkuk 1:15, are the invading nations, surrounding Judah and Jerusalem as with a drag-net, and allowing none to escape. The process is described under this very name of “drag-netting” the country by Herodotus (iii. 149, 6:31), as applied by the army of Xerxes to Samos, Chios, Tenedos, and other islands. The application of the words either to the gathering of the people after their dispersion or to the later work of the preachers of the Gospel is an after-thought, having its source in our Lord’s words, “I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). It is, of course, possible enough that those words may have been suggested by Jeremiah’s, the same image being used, as in the parable of Matthew 13:47, to describe the blessing which had before presented its darker aspect of punishment.

Hunters.—Another aspect of the same thought, pointing, so far as we can trace the distinction between the two, to the work of the irregular skirmisher as the former image did to that of the main body of the army: men might take refuge, as hunted beasts might do, in the caves of the rocks, but they should be driven forth even from these.

Jeremiah 16:16-18. Behold, I will send, &c. — This may be better rendered, But now I will send, &c. — Because here the prophet returns to denounce threatenings; many fishers, and they shall fish them — “It is common with the sacred writers to represent enemies and oppressors under the metaphors of fishers and hunters, because they use all the methods of open force and secret stratagem to make men their prey.” By these two characters the same enemies are probably meant, namely, the Chaldeans, who should take different methods, one after another, to destroy them; besieging them in their cities, and taking them like fish, enclosed in a net; and afterward pursuing the scattered parties from place to place, till they got them into their hands; so that one way or other, few, if any, would be suffered to escape. Compare Isaiah 24:17-18, where it is in like manner foretold, that those who escaped from one danger should fall by another. See Blaney. For mine eyes are upon all their ways — I mark all their sins, though they commit them never so secretly, and palliate them never so artfully. They have not their eyes upon me; have no regard to me, stand in no awe of me: but I have mine eye upon them, and neither they nor any of their ways are hid from me. I will recompense their iniquity double — Not double to what it deserves, but double to what they expect, and to what I have done formerly. Or, I will recompense it abundantly; they shall now pay for their long reprieve and the divine patience they have abused; because they have defiled my land — By their idolatry, blood, cruelty, and other sins; have filled mine inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable things — Their idols, which are elsewhere called carcasses, not only because they were without life, but also because of their filthiness and hatefulness in the sight of God: see Leviticus 26:30; Ezekiel 43:7; Ezekiel 43:9. Or the words may be explained of the human sacrifices which were offered to idols.16:14-21 The restoration from the Babylonish captivity would be remembered in place of the deliverance from Egypt; it also typified spiritual redemption, and the future deliverance of the church from antichristian oppression. But none of the sins of sinners can be hidden from God, or shall be overlooked by him. He will find out and raise up instruments of his wrath, that shall destroy the Jews, by fraud like fishers, by force like hunters. The prophet, rejoicing at the hope of mercy to come, addressed the Lord as his strength and refuge. The deliverance out of captivity shall be a figure of the great salvation to be wrought by the Messiah. The nations have often known the power of Jehovah in his wrath; but they shall know him as the strength of his people, and their refuge in time of trouble.The scattering of the people is to be like that of hunted animals, of which but few escape, the ancient method of hunting being to enclose a large space with beaters and nets, and so drive everything within it to some place where it was destroyed. The destruction of the whole male population was one of the horrible customs of ancient warfare, and the process is called in Herodotus "sweeping the country with a drag-net." The same authority tells us that this method could only be effectually carried out on an island. Literally, understood, the fishers are the main armies who, in the towns and fortresses, capture the people in crowds as in a net, while the hunters are the light-armed troops, who pursue the fugitives over the whole country, and drive them out of their hiding places as hunters track out their game. 16. send for—translate, "I will send many"; "I will give the commission to many" (2Ch 17:7).

fishers … hunters—successive invaders of Judea (Am 4:2; Hab 1:14, 15). So "net" (Eze 12:13). As to "hunters," see Ge 10:9; Mic 7:2. The Chaldees were famous in hunting, as the Egyptians, the other enemy of Judea, were in fishing. "Fishers" expresses the ease of their victory over the Jews as that of the angler over fishes; "hunters," the keenness of their pursuit of them into every cave and nook. It is remarkable, the same image is used in a good sense of the Jews' restoration, implying that just as their enemies were employed by God to take them in hand for destruction, so the same shall be employed for their restoration (Eze 47:9, 10). So spiritually, those once enemies by nature (fishermen many of them literally) were employed by God to be heralds of salvation, "catching men" for life (Mt 4:19; Lu 5:10; Ac 2:41; 4:4); compare here Jer 16:19, "the Gentiles shall come unto thee" (2Co 12:16).

Though some interpreters make these words a promise, either of God’s restoration of this people, and making use of Cyrus, who, as a fisherman or huntsman, by his proclamation fetched the Jews out of all parts of his dominions, to return to Jerusalem; or of the calling of God’s elect by the apostles, who were God’s fishermen, and went up and down preaching the gospel in all places; yet the next verse rather guideth us to interpret it as a threatening, and by these fishermen and huntsmen to understand all those enemies whom God made use of to destroy these Jews, hunting them out of all holes and coverts wheresoever they should fly and take sanctuary. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them,.... Which some understand of the Egyptians, who lived much on fish, and were much employed in catching them, to which the allusion is thought to be; but rather the Chaldeans are intended, whom God, by the secret instinct of his providence, brought up against the Jews; who besieged Jerusalem, and enclosed them in it, and took them as fishes in a net; see Habakkuk 1:14, though some interpret this, and what follows, of the deliverance of the Jews by the Medes and Persians under Cyrus, who searched for them in all places, and sent them into their own land; or of Zerubbabel, and others with him, who used all means to persuade the Jews in the captivity to go with them, and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem; and there are not wanting others, who by the "fishers" think the apostles are meant; who were fishers by occupation, and whom Christ made fishers of men, and sent forth to cast and spread the net of the Gospel in the several parts of Judea, for the conversion of some of that people; see Matthew 4:18,

and after will l send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks; either the same persons, the Chaldeans, are meant here, as before; who, as they should slay those they took in Jerusalem with the edge of the sword, as fishes taken in a net are killed, or presently die, which is the sense of the Targum, and other Jewish commentators; so those that escaped and fled to mountains, hills, and holes of the rocks, to hide themselves, should be pursued by them, and be found out, taken, and carried captive: or, the Romans (e). So Nimrod, the beginning of whose kingdom was Babel, being a tyrant and an oppressor, is called a mighty hunter, Genesis 10:8.

(e) Vid. Joseph de Bello Jud. l. 7. c. 9. sect. 4.

Behold, I will send for many {g} fishermen, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and afterwards will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.

(g) By the fishers and hunters are meant the Babylonians and Chaldeans who would destroy them in such sort, that if they escaped the one, the other would take them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. For the metaphor from fishing cp. Ezekiel 12:13; Ezekiel 29:4 f.; Amos 4:2; Habakkuk 1:14 ff.

rocks] See on Jeremiah 4:29.

16–18. See introd. summary to section.Verses 16, 17. - I will send for should rather be, I will send. Fishers and hunters, by a divinely given impulse, shall "fish" and "hunt" the unhappy fugitives from their lurking-places. There may, perhaps, be an allusion to the cruel ancient practice of "sweeping the country with a drag-net" (Herod, 3:149), and then destroying the male population: Samos, e.g. was thus "netted" and depopulated by the Persians. Habakkuk may also refer to this when he says (Habakkuk 1:15), "They catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag." "And when thou showest this people all these things, and they say unto thee, Wherefore hath Jahveh pronounced all this great evil against us, and what is our transgression, and what our sin that we have committed against Jahveh our God? Jeremiah 16:11. Then say thou to them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith Jahveh, and have walked after other gods, and served them, and worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and not kept my law; Jeremiah 16:12. And ye did yet worse than your fathers; and behold, ye walk each after the stubbornness of his evil heart, hearkening not unto me. Jeremiah 16:13. Therefore I cast you out of this land into the land which he know not, neither ye nor your fathers, and there may ye serve other gods day and night, because I will show you no favour. Jeremiah 16:14. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jahveh, that it shall no more be said, By the life of Jahveh, that brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt, Jeremiah 16:15. But, By the life of Jahveh, that brought the sons of Israel out of the land of the north, and out of all the lands whither I had driven them, and I bring them again into their land that I gave to their fathers."

The turn of the discourse in Jeremiah 16:10 and Jeremiah 16:11 is like that in Jeremiah 5:19. With Jeremiah 16:11 cf. Jeremiah 11:8, Jeremiah 11:10; Jeremiah 7:24; with "ye did yet worse," etc., cf. 1 Kings 14:9; and on "after the stubbornness," cf. on 1 Kings 3:17. The apodosis begins with "therefore I cast you out." On this head cf. Jeremiah 7:15; Jeremiah 9:15, and Jeremiah 22:26. The article in על־הארץ, Graf quite unnecessarily insists on having cancelled, as out of place. It is explained sufficiently by the fact, that the land, of which mention has so often been made, is looked on as a specific one, and is characterized by the following relative clause, as one unknown to the people. Besides, the "ye know not" is not meant of geographical ignorance, but, as is often the case with ידע, the knowledge is that obtained by direct experience. They know not the land, because they have never been there. "There ye may serve them," Ros. justly characterizes as concessio cum ironia: there ye may serve, as long as ye will, the gods whom ye have so longed after. The irony is especially marked in the "day and night." Here Jeremiah has in mind Deuteronomy 4:28; Deuteronomy 28:36, Deuteronomy 28:63. אשׁר is causal, giving the grounds of the threat, "I cast you out." The form חנינה is hap leg . - In Jeremiah 16:14 and Jeremiah 16:15 the prophet opens to the people a view of ultimate redemption from the affliction amidst the heathen, into which, for their sin, they will be cast. By and by men will swear no more by Jahveh who redeemed them out of Egypt, but by Jahveh who has brought them again from the land of the north and the other lands into which they have been thrust forth. In this is implied that this second deliverance will be a blessing which shall outshine the former blessing of redemption from Egypt. But just as this deliverance will excel the earlier one, so much the greater will the affliction of Israel in the northern land be than the Egyptian bondage had been. On this point Ros. throws especial weight, remarking that the aim of these verses is not so much to give promise of coming salvation, as to announce instare illis atrocius malum, quam illud Aegyptiacum, eamque quam mox sint subituri servitutem multo fore duriorem, quam olim Aegyptiaca fuerit. But though this idea does lie implicite in the words, yet we must not fail to be sure that the prospect held out of a future deliverance of Israel from the lands into which it is soon to be scattered, and of its restoration again to the land of its fathers, has, in the first and foremost place, a comforting import, and that it is intended to preserve the godly from despair under the catastrophe which is now awaiting them.

(Note: Calvin has excellently brought out both moments, and has thus expounded the thought of the passage: "Scitis unde patres vestri exierint, nempe e fornace aenea, quemadmodum alibi loquitur (xi. 4) et quasi ex profunda morte; itaque redemptio illa debuit esse memorabilis usque ad finem mundi. Sed jam Deus conjiciet vos in abyssum, quae longe profundior erit illa Aegypti tyrannide, e qua erepti sunt patres vestri; nam si inde vos redimat, erit miraculum longe excellentius ad posteros, ut fere exstinguat vel saltem obscuret memoriam prioris illius redemptionis.")

לכן is not nevertheless, but, as universally, therefore; and the train of thought is as follows: Because the Lord will, for their idolatry, cast forth His people into the lands of the heathen, just for that very reason will their redemption from exile not fail to follow, and this deliverance surpass in gloriousness the greatest of all former deeds of blessing, the rescue of Israel from Egypt. The prospect of future redemption given amidst announcements of judgment cannot be surprising in Jeremiah, who elsewhere also interweaves the like happy forecastings with his most solemn threatenings; cf. Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 5:10, Jeremiah 5:18, with Jeremiah 3:14., Jeremiah 23:3., etc. "This ray of light, falling suddenly into the darkness, does not take us more by surprise than 'I will not make a full end,' Jeremiah 4:27. There is therefore no reason for regarding these two verses as interpolations from Jeremiah 23:7-8" (Graf).

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