Jeremiah 17:11
As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.
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(11) As the partridge sitteth on eggs . . .—Better, following the LXX. and Vulg., and the marginal reading of the Authorised Version, heaps up eggs and hath not laid them. The words point to a popular belief among the Jews that the partridge steals the eggs of other birds and adds them to her own, with the result that when the eggs are hatched the broods desert her (see Bibl. Educ. iii. p. 73). It thus became a parable of the covetous man, whose avarice leads him to pile up riches which are not rightly his, and which after a while “make to themselves wings” and are seen no more. Modern naturalists have not observed this habit, but it is probable that the belief originated in the practice of the cuckoo laying its eggs in the nest of the partridge, as in that of other birds. The cuckoo (Leviticus 11:16; Deuteronomy 14:15) was and is a common bird in Palestine (Bibl. Educ. 2 p. 363).

Shall leave them in the midst of his days.—If we retain the rendering of the Authorised Version the words may refer to the practice of hunting the partridge by driving it from its nest and then striking it with a club (see Bibl. Educ. iii. p. 73). Many commentators, however, adopt the rendering, they (the riches) shall leave him. As covetousness was the besetting sin of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 22:17), the prediction may have pointed specially to him.

Jeremiah 17:11. As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not — Or rather, as the words דגר לא ילדmay be more literally rendered, hatcheth eggs which she did not lay; so he that getteth riches, and not by right — That is, not in a due, regular manner, by the blessing of God upon honest endeavours, but by arts of knavery and injustice; shall leave them in the midst of his days — Though he may make them his hope, he shall not have joy in them, nor the true and lasting possession of them; but they shall be soon taken from him, or he from them. And at his end shall be a fool — That is, he shall evidently appear such. He was indeed a fool all along, and doubtless his conscience often told him so; but at his end his folly will be manifest to all men. Bochart, with a great deal of learning, contends that קרא, here rendered partridge, is not that bird, nor any one known in these parts. Blaney gives it the Hebrew name kore, observing, “that it is a bird which frequents the mountains, and is of no great value, as may be learned from 1 Samuel 26:20. Here it is said to sit upon and hatch the eggs of birds of another species. This want of distinction is common to many sorts of birds; and the partridge is no way remarkable for it. But where it is so done, the young ones, when fledged, are sure to forsake their supposititious dam, and to join with those of their own feather; in which circumstance the point of comparison seems to lie.”

17:5-11 He who puts confidence in man, shall be like the heath in a desert, a naked tree, a sorry shrub, the product of barren ground, useless and worthless. Those who trust to their own righteousness and strength, and think they can do without Christ, make flesh their arm, and their souls cannot prosper in graces or comforts. Those who make God their Hope, shall flourish like a tree always green, whose leaf does not wither. They shall be fixed in peace and satisfaction of mind; they shall not be anxious in a year of drought. Those who make God their Hope, have enough in him to make up the want of all creature-comforts. They shall not cease from yielding fruit in holiness and good works. The heart, the conscience of man, in his corrupt and fallen state, is deceitful above all things. It calls evil good, and good evil; and cries peace to those to whom it does not belong. Herein the heart is desperately wicked; it is deadly, it is desperate. The case is bad indeed, if the conscience, which should set right the errors of other faculties, is a leader in the delusion. We cannot know our own hearts, nor what they will do in an hour of temptation. Who can understand his errors? Much less can we know the hearts of others, or depend upon them. He that believes God's testimony in this matter, and learns to watch his own heart, will find this is a correct, though a sad picture, and learns many lessons to direct his conduct. But much in our own hearts and in the hearts of others, will remain unknown. Yet whatever wickedness there is in the heart, God sees it. Men may be imposed upon, but God cannot be deceived. He that gets riches, and not by right, though he may make them his hope, never shall have joy of them. This shows what vexation it is to a worldly man at death, that he must leave his riches behind; but though the wealth will not follow to another world, guilt will, and everlasting torment. The rich man takes pains to get an estate, and sits brooding upon it, but never has any satisfaction in it; by sinful courses it comes to nothing. Let us be wise in time; what we get, let us get it honestly; and what we have, use it charitably, that we may be wise for eternity.Rather, "As the partridge hath gathered eggs which it laid not, so ..." The general sense is: the covetous man is as sure to reap finally disappointment only as is the partridge which piles up eggs not of her own laying, and is unable to hatch them.

A fool - A Nabal. See 1 Samuel 25:25.

11. partridge—(1Sa 26:20). Hebrew, korea, from a root, "to call," alluding to its cry; a name still applied to a bustard by the Arabs. Its nest is liable, being on the ground, to be trodden under foot, or robbed by carnivorous animals, notwithstanding all the beautiful manoeuvres of the parent birds to save the brood. The translation, "sitteth on eggs which it has not laid," alludes to the ancient notion that she stole the eggs of other birds and hatched them as her own; and that the young birds when grown left her for the true mother. It is not needful to make Scripture allude to an exploded notion, as if it were true. Maurer thinks the reference is to Jehoiakim's grasping cupidity (Jer 22:13-17). Probably the sense is more general; as previously He condemned trust in man (Jer 17:5), He now condemns another object of the deceitful hearts' trust, unjustly gotten riches (Ps 39:6; 49:16, 17; 55:23).

fool—(Pr 23:5; Lu 12:20); "their folly" (Ps 49:13). He himself, and all, shall at last perceive he was not the wise man he thought he was.

As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not: it is no wonder if we cannot be certain as to the sense of these words so far as they concern natural history, when we are not certain what bird it is to which they relate; we translate the word partridge; others will have it the cuckow; but certain it is that it is the same word which we translate partridge, 1 Samuel 26:20, and cuckows use not to be much hunted after. How the partridge is said to sit on eggs, and hatch them not, is yet a greater question. It may be occasioned so many ways, viz. either sitting upon windeggs, or being killed before the eggs are hatched, or having its eggs destroyed by the male partridge, or by some dog or other vermin, or its nest being found having her eggs taken from her, that it is hard to determine which the prophet means. Of all other I least approve of that which Jerome makes the sense, though the thing be true, (if we may believe Cassiodorus, and several natural historians, Aldrovandus, &c.,) that partridges have such a love and desire to hatch young ones, that having lost their own eggs, they will steal the eggs of other partridges and hatch them, which birds being hatched, the young ones, knowing the cry of their proper dams, hearing them call, leave the partridge that hatched them (which is one thing quoted by Aldrovandus to show the sagacity of that bird): but if this were the sense, the words would be, As the partridge sitteth on eggs and hatcheth them, but enjoyeth them not, whereas they are hatcheth them not; that is, having lost them, either by some man that hath taken them from her, or by some vermin or wild beast. So he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool; so he that getteth an estate by oppression, or any cozenage, or unrighteous actions, shall lose it again before he cometh to die; and when he comes to die, shall understand what a fool he was to take so much pains to no more purpose.

As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not,.... Here seems to be another sin pointed at, as the cause of the ruin of the Jews; as idolatry and trust in the creature before mentioned; so riches unjustly got, and these boasted of and trusted in; the folly of which is illustrated by the simile of a bird sitting on eggs, and not hatching them; being either addled, or broke by the male through lust, or by the foot of man or beast, being laid on the ground; Or by a bird which "gathers" (s), as some; or "hatches", as others, eggs it has not laid; which being hatched, run away from it, and so not enjoyed by it. The Targum is,

"as the partridge, or "koraah", which gathers eggs that are not its own, and nourishes young ones which will not follow it, so, &c.''

whether the partridge is meant by "kore", the word here used, is uncertain. Bochart (t) thinks the "woodcock", or "snite" or "snipe", is intended. Jarchi interprets it, by the "cuckoo", which is not likely; since that does not take away another's eggs, and sit on them; but lays its own eggs in another's nest, and leaves them to be hatched by it; but it must be understood rather of such an one that gets the eggs of another, and hatches them, but cannot keep the young when hatched; and this is said of the partridge, that when its own eggs are broke, it will get others, and sit upon them, and hatch them; but being hatched, knowing her not to be their dam, and hearing the voice of that which is, run from her to it (u):

so he that getteth riches, and not by right; but by fraud, rapine, and oppression; such are they that will be rich, that are resolved upon it at any rate, right or wrong; and such persons may succeed, and become rich by illicit methods; but then, as such riches may be truly called "mammon of unrighteousness"; so they will not profit in a time to come, in a day of wrath; neither are they of long continuance now: for such a man

shall leave them in the midst of his days; which, according to the common term of life, and course of nature, he might hope to arrive to; he shall die, and not enjoy what he has got together; while he is promising himself much and long happiness, his soul is required of him; and whose his substance shall be, he knows not; the riches he has heaped up together, he knows not who shall gather; nor to whom he leaves them, whether a wise man or a fool: however, this is certain as to himself,

and at his end shall be a fool; he shall appear to be one for getting riches in an unlawful way; for trusting in uncertain riches; for promising himself a great deal of pleasure and felicity in them for a long time, which he could not secure; and for neglecting the true riches of grace and glory; see Luke 12:19. The Targum is,

"at his end he is called a wicked man;''

because of the unjust manner in which he has got his riches, and which appears by his end; every wicked man is a fool. The word here used is "Nabal"; and as is his name, so is he.

(s) "collegit", Vatablus, Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; "collegit", Montanus, Schmidt; so R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 82. 1.((t) Hierozoicon, par. 2. l. 1. c. 12. Colossians 81. (u) Vid. Frantz. Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 2. c. 11. p. 414.

{k} As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.

(k) As the patriarch by calling gathered others who forsake her when they see she is not their mother: so the covetous man is forsaken of his riches because he comes by them falsely.

11. As the partridge, etc.] mg. sitteth on eggs which she hath not laid. We need not take the statement to indicate more than a popular belief of that day, of which the prophet availed himself by way of an illustration. (Woods, however [see Woods and Powell, The Hebrew Prophets, II. 104 f., quoted by Pe.], maintains that the partridge does act in accordance with both text and mg.) “The young birds soon forsake their false mother, and so does wealth its unjust possessor. Or perhaps the words should be rendered, that heapeth together (eggs), but doth not bring forth (young)—with allusion to the large number of eggs laid by the partridge, which are eagerly sought for by the Arabs as food, so that the bird often hatches no young.” Dr. who quotes Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, pp. 224 f.

they shall leave him] mg. (and A.V.), better, he shall leave them.

a fool] Heb. nâbhâl. “The fault of the nâbhâl was not weakness of reason, but moral and religious insensibility, an invincible lack of sense, or perception, for the claims of either God or man.” Dr. Parallel Psalter, p. 457. See Isaiah 32:5 f. and cp. for an example 1 Samuel 25:25.

Verse 11. - As the partridge... hatcheth them not; rather, as the partridge sitteth on eggs which it hath not laid; a proverbial illustration of the Divine retributive justice. The prophet assumes the truth of a popular belief respecting the partridge (still a common bird in Judaea), that it brooded upon eggs which it had not laid. As the young birds soon leave the false mother, so unjustly acquired riches soon forsake their possessors. [Canon Tristram rejects this explanation, on the ground that the statement is not true to natural history; the partridge neither steals the broods of others nor needs to do so, as it lays a very large number of eggs. But grammar requires us to translate as suggested above, and consequently excludes any other explanation-May not the unusually large number of the eggs laid by the partridge have led to the fancy that they could not be all its own?] Jeremiah 17:11Only God searches the heart and tries the reins, the seat of the most hidden emotions and feelings, cf. Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 12:3, and deals accordingly, requiting each according to his life and his doings. The ו before לתת, which is wanting in many MSS and is not expressed by the old translators, is not to be objected to. It serves to separate the aim in view from the rest, and to give it the prominence due to an independent thought; cf. Ew. 340, b. As to the truth itself, cf. Jeremiah 32:19. With this is joined the common saying as to the partridge, Jeremiah 17:11. The aim is not to specify greed as another root of the corruption of the heart, or to give another case of false confidence in the earthly (Ng., Graf); but to corroborate by a common saying, whose truth should be obvious to the people, the greater truth, that God, as Searcher of hearts, requites each according to his works. The proverb ran: He that gains riches, and that by wrong, i.e., in an unjust, dishonourable manner, is like a partridge which hatches eggs it has not laid. In the Proverbs we often find comparisons, as here, without the כּ similit.: a gainer of riches is a partridge (Rephuhn, properly Rphuhn from rpen equals rufen, to call or cry); a bird yet found in plenty in the tribe of Judah; cf. Robinson, Palestine. All other interpretations are arbitrary. It is true that natural history has not proved the fact of this peculiarity of the partridge, on which the proverb was founded; testimonies as to this habit of the creature are found only in certain Church fathers, and these were probably deduced from this passage (cf. Winer, bibl. R. W., art. Rebhuhn). But the proverb assumes only the fact that such was the widespread popular belief amongst the Israelites, without saying anything as to the correctness of it. "HatCheth and layeth not" are to be taken relatively. דּגר, the Targum word in Job 39:14 for חמּם, fovere, sig. hatch, lit., to hold eggs close together, cover eggs; see on Isaiah 34:15. ילד, to bring forth, here of laying eggs. As to the Kametz in both words, see Ew. 100, c. The point of the comparison, that the young hatched out of another bird's eggs forsake the mother, is brought out in the application of the proverb. Hence is to be explained "forsake him:" the riches forsake him, instead of: are lost to him, vanish, in the half of his days, i.e., in the midst of life; and at the end of his life he shall be a fool, i.e., the folly of his conduct shall fully appear.
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