Jeremiah 16:4
They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.
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(4) Of grievous deaths.—Literally, deaths from diseases, including, perhaps, famine (as in Jeremiah 14:18), as contrasted with the more immediate work of the sword.

They shall not be lamented.—Among a people who attached such importance to the due observance of funeral obsequies as the Jews did, the neglect of those obsequies was, of course, here, as in Jeremiah 22:18, a symptom of extremest misery. Like features have presented themselves in the pestilences or sieges of other cities and other times, as in the description in Lucretius (vi. 1278) :—

“Nec mos ille sepulturæ remanebat in urbe,

Quo pius hic populus semper consuerat humari.”

“No more the customed rites of sepulture

Were practised in the city, such as wont

Of old to tend the dead with reverent care.”

Compare the account of the plague at Athens in Thucydides (ii. 52).

16:1-9 The prophet must conduct himself as one who expected to see his country ruined very shortly. In the prospect of sad times, he is to abstain from marriage, mourning for the dead, and pleasure. Those who would convince others of the truths of God, must make it appear by their self-denial, that they believe it themselves. Peace, inward and outward, family and public, is wholly the work of God, and from his loving-kindness and mercy. When He takes his peace from any people, distress must follow. There may be times when it is proper to avoid things otherwise our duty; and we should always sit loose to the pleasures and concerns of this life.The times were such that for "the present distress" it was wise for all to abstain from marriage 1 Corinthians 7:26; Matthew 24:19. 4. grievous deaths—rather, "deadly diseases" (Jer 15:2).

not … lamented—so many shall be the slain (Jer 22:18).

dung—(Ps 83:10).

God in these verses opens the reason why he would not have the prophet marry nor multiply relations. In evil and calamitous times, those who multiply relations do but multiply sorrows and afflictions to themselves; the apostle in evil times tells the Corinthians that married persons should have trouble in the flesh, 1 Corinthians 7:28; and Christ pronounceth a woe to those that should be with child, and to those that gave suck, at the time when Jerusalem should be besieged. God tells the prophet he was resolved that the people of this land, both young and old, should die miserable deaths, and die so fast, that there should be none to bury them. They should die by the

sword and the

famine, and be devoured by the

fowls and the

beasts; and therefore it was better for him to abide free from relations, for whose miseries he would be as much concerned as for his own affliction.

They shall die of grievous deaths,.... Such as the sword, famine, and pestilence. The Targum particularly adds famine. It may be rendered, "deaths of diseases, or sicknesses" (u); such as are brought on by long sickness and lingering distempers; by which a man consumes gradually, as by famine, and is not snatched away at once; and which are very grievous to bear.

They shall not be lamented, neither shall they be buried; which two offices are usually done to the dead by their surviving relations; who mourn for them, and express their grief by various gestures, and which especially were used by the eastern nations; and take care that they have a decent burial: but neither of these would now be, which is mentioned as an aggravation of the calamity; that not only the deaths they should die of would be grievous ones, but after death no regard would be shown them; and that either because there would be none to do these things for them; or they would be so much taken up in providing for their own safety, and so much in concern for their own preservation, that they would not be at leisure to attend to the above things:

but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth; lie and rot there, and be dung to the earth; which would be a just retaliation, for their filthy and abominable actions committed in the land:

and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; the grievous deaths before mentioned; the sword without, and the famine within; the one more sudden, and at once, the other more lingering; and therefore may be more especially designed by the death of lingering sicknesses referred to:

and their carcasses shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; lying unburied; see Jeremiah 7:33.

(u) "mortibus aegrotationum", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, "aegritudium", Munster, Vatablus; "mortibus morborum", Schmidt. So Stockius, p. 340, 597, who restrains it to the death of individuals by the pestilence.

They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.
4. grievous deaths] lit. as mg. deaths of sicknesses.

they shall not be lamented, neither shall they be buried] We may compare the condition of things in the plague at Athens b.c. 430: “Such was the state of dismay and sorrow, that even the nearest relatives neglected the sepulchral duties … the dead and dying lay piled upon one another not merely in the public roads, but even in the temples.… Those bodies which escaped entire neglect were burnt or buried without the customary mourning and with unseemly carelessness.” Grote’s Hist. of Greece, ch. 49. See Thucyd. II. 52.

Verse 4. - Grievous deaths; literally, deaths of sicknesses; i.e. all kinds of painful deaths, including (as Jeremiah 14:18 shows) death by starvation. They shall not be lamented. The absence of sepulture has already been pointed to several times as a feature of the horror of the times (Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 14:16; comp. Jeremiah 7:33), but this is a new and affecting touch. Dr. Payne Smith aptly refers to the plagues of Athens and London, in which the gentler elements of human nature were for the time almost extinguished. Jeremiah 16:4The course to be pursued by the prophet with reference to the approaching judgment. - Jeremiah 16:1. "And the word of Jahveh cam to me, saying: Jeremiah 16:2. Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place. Jeremiah 16:3. For thus hath Jahveh said concerning the sons and the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bear them, and concerning their fathers that beget them in this land: Jeremiah 16:4. By deadly suffering shall they die, be neither lamented or buried; dung upon the field shall they become; and by sword and by famine shall they be consumed, and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of the heavens and the beasts of the field. Jeremiah 16:5. For thus hath Jahveh said: Come not into the house of mourning, and go not to lament, and bemoan them not; for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith Jahveh, grace and mercies. Jeremiah 16:6. And great and small shall die in this land, not be buried; they shall not lament them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. Jeremiah 16:7. And they shall not break bread for them in their mourning, to comfort one for the dead; nor shall they give to any the cup of comfort for his father and his mother. Jeremiah 16:8. And into the house of feasting go not, to sit by them, to eat and to drink. Jeremiah 16:9. For thus hath spoken Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I cause to cease out of this place before your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride."

What the prophet is here bidden to do and to forbear is closely bound up with the proclamation enjoined on him of judgment to come on sinful Judah. This connection is brought prominently forward in the reasons given for these commands. He is neither to take a wife nor to beget children, because all the inhabitants of the land, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, are to perish by sickness, the sword, and famine (Jeremiah 16:3 and Jeremiah 16:4). He is both to abstain from the customary usages of mourning for the dead, and to keep away from mirthful feasts, in order to give the people to understand that, by reason of the multitude of the dead, customary mourning will have to be given up, and that all opportunity for merry-making will disappear (Jeremiah 16:5-9). Adapting thus his actions to help to convey his message, he will approve himself to be the mouth of the Lord, and then the promised divine protection will not fail. Thus closely is this passage connected with the preceding complaint and reproof of the prophet (Jeremiah 15:10-21), while it at the same time further continues the threatening of judgment in Jeremiah 15:1-9. - With the prohibition to take a wife, cf. the apostle's counsel, 1 Corinthians 7:26. "This place" alternates with "this land," and so must not be limited to Jerusalem, but bears on Judah at large. ילּדים, adject. verbale, as in Exodus 1:32. The form ממותי is found, besides here, only in Ezekiel 28:8, where it takes the place of מותי, Jeremiah 16:10. תחלאים ממותי, lit., deaths of sicknesses or sufferings, i.e., deaths by all kinds of sufferings, since תחלאים is not to be confined to disease, but in Jeremiah 14:18 is used of pining away by famine. With "they shall not be lamented," cf. Jeremiah 25:33; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 14:16; Jeremiah 7:33.

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