Jeremiah 18:14
Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?
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(14) Will a man leave . . .?—The interpolated words “a man” pervert the meaning of the verse, which should run thus: Will the snow of Lebanon fail from the rock of the field? or shall the cold (or, with some commentators, “rushing “) flowing waters from afar (literally, strange, or, as some take it, that dash down) be dried up? The questions imply an answer in the negative, and assert in a more vivid form what had been expressed more distinctly, though less poetically, in Jeremiah 2:13. The strength of Jehovah was like the unfailing snow of Lebanon (the “white” or snow mountain, like Mont Blanc or Snowdon), like the dashing stream that flows from heights so distant that they belong to a strange country, and which along its whole course was never dried up, and yet men forsook that strength for their own devices. The “streams of Lebanon” appear as the type of cool refreshing waters in Song of Solomon 4:15. The term “rock of the field” is applied in Jeremiah 17:3; Jeremiah 21:13 to Jerusalem, but there is no reason why it should not be used of Lebanon or any other mountain soaring above the plain. The notion that the prophet spoke of the brook Gihon on Mount Zion, as fed, by an underground channel, from the snows of Lebanon, has not sufficient evidence to commend it, but the “dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion” (Psalm 133:3) presents, to say the least, a suggestive parallel. Possibly the prophet has the Jordan in his mind. Tacitus (Hist. v. 6) describes it as fed by the snows of Lebanon, the summit of which is, in his expressive language, faithful to its snows through the heat of summer.

18:11-17 Sinners call it liberty to live at large; whereas for a man to be a slave to his lusts, is the very worst slavery. They forsook God for idols. When men are parched with heat, and meet with cooling, refreshing streams, they use them. In these things men will not leave a certainty for an uncertainty; but Israel left the ancient paths appointed by the Divine law. They walked not in the highway, in which they might travel safely, but in a way in which they must stumble: such was the way of idolatry, and such is the way of iniquity. This made their land desolate, and themselves miserable. Calamities may be borne, if God smile upon us when under them; but if he is displeased, and refuses his help, we are undone. Multitudes forget the Lord and his Christ, and wander from the ancient paths, to walk in ways of their own devising. But what will they do in the day of judgment!Rather, "Will the snow of Lebanon fail from the rock of the field?" The meaning probably is, "Will the snow of Lebanon fail from its rocks which tower above the land of Israel?" The appeal of the prophet is to the unchangeableness of one of nature's most beautiful phenomena, the perpetual snow upon the upper summits of Lebanon.

Shall the cold ... - literally, "shall the strange, i. e., foreign, "cool, down-flowing waters be plucked up?" The general sense is: God is Israel's Rock, from whom the never-failing waters flow Jeremiah 2:13 : but men may and do abandon the cool waters which descend front above to seek their happiness in channels of their own digging.

14. Is there any man (living near it) who would leave the snow of Lebanon (that is, the cool melted snow water of Lebanon, as he presently explains), which cometh from the rock of the field (a poetical name for Lebanon, which towers aloft above the surrounding field, or comparatively plain country)? None. Yet Israel forsakes Jehovah, the living fountain close at hand, for foreign broken cisterns. Jer 17:13; 2:13, accord with English Version here. Maurer translates, "Shall the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock to water (literally, 'forsake') My fields" (the whole land around being peculiarly Jehovah's)? Lebanon means the "white mountain"; so called from the perpetual snow which covers that part called Hermon, stretching northeast of Palestine.

that come from another place—that come from far, namely, from the distant lofty rocks of Lebanon. Henderson translates, "the compressed waters," namely, contracted within a narrow channel while descending through the gorges of the rocks; "flowing" may in this view be rather "flowing down" (So 4:15). But the parallelism in English Version is better, "which cometh from the rock," "that cometh from another place."

be forsaken—answering to the parallel, "Will a man leave," &c. Maurer translates, "dry up," or "fail" (Isa 19:5); the sense thus being, Will nature ever turn aside from its fixed course? The "cold waters" (compare Pr 25:25) refer to the perennial streams, fed from the partial melting of the snow in the hot weather.

Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? The margins of our Bibles will let us know that there is some variety in the opinions of the most learned interpreters as to the sense of these words. The general sense is plain and obvious, that it is a foolish thing for men to forsake God, who is the fountain of all good and refreshment, and what men do not use to do with reference to poor creature comforts, not to be named with God. But for the grammatical sense of the words, it is not so obvious. The vulgar Latin translates them, Shall the snow of Lebanon fail from the rock of the field? The Septuagint, Shall the dugs fail from the rocks? or, the snow from Lebanon? The Syriac version followeth them. The Arabic version translateth it, Should the snow fail from the mountain of breasts, and from Lebanon? The Chaldee paraphrast thus glosseth, Behold, as it cannot be that the snow water should fail from Lebanon. Pagnine seems to make Lebanon the nominative case, and renders the sense thus, Shall Lebanon leave the snow from the rock of the field? Our translators supply these words, a man, and so make that the nominative case, and make Lebanon the genitive case. Lebanon was a mountainous place, in which were rocks; it had also fruitful valleys; snow fell upon those rocks, and upon a thaw ran down into the lower places, and was grateful to them, as it moistened them, and made them more fruitful.

Or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? The latter part of the verse seems as hard. Pegnine translates them, Shall other cold flowing waters be forsaken? The vulgar Latin, Or can the other cold flowing waters be plucked up? The LXX. and the Syriac, Or shall the water fail, violently snatched up or taken away with the wind? The Arabic, Or should the foreign cool waters desist? The Chaldee paraphrast glosseth, So the rain waters that come down, and the waters of the fountain that spring, shall not fail. In this great variety, it is very hard certainly to assert the particular sense of these phrases, the knowledge of which depends upon some affections or customs of those places, which we are not so well acquainted with. The next verse is the best guide we have, where the sin laid to the charge of this people is their forsaking God; which sin is here aggravated by this topic, That reason teacheth men not to forsake a greater good for a lesser, though that greater good were but a poor creature comfort, not to be compared with God. This is the general sense, scope, and sum of this verse; so as we shall not need be very solicitous to be able to assert the particular grammatical sense.

Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon, which cometh from the rock of the field?.... Lebanon was a mountain on the borders of Judea, the top of which was covered in the summertime with snow, from the whiteness of which it had its name, Lebanon; as the Alps, for the same reason, which lie between France and Italy: now, the snow being dissolved by the heat, ran in flowing streams down the rocks into the field and plain, where they might be easily come at, and drank of; and would a thirsty traveller, on a summer's day, pass by such streams as these, and not drink of them? certainly he would not leave them, but stop and drink; he must be an unwise man that should do otherwise; and yet this was what the people of the Jews did; they forsook the Lord, "the fountain of living waters"; and who, because of the plenty of good things in him, and flowing from him to them, were as streams from Lebanon; and yet they left these crystal streams for the black and muddy waters of Sihor, or idols of Egypt, Sol 4:15; or the words may be rendered, "will a man leave what comes from the rock of the field for the snow of Lebanon" (x)? that is, will a man neglect to drink of the water that comes out of a rock in his field, pure and clear, and is near at hand, and choose to go to Mount Lebanon to drink of the snow water, which runs down the mountain, and can never be thought so clear as what comes out of the rock? surely he will not; he must act an unwise part if he does; and such a part, and worse, did the people of the Jews act, in forsaking God:

or shall the cold flowing waters which come from another place be forsaken? or, "strange waters" (y); which come from far, from some distant rock, being conveyed in pipes, in; which they come cool, and in flowing streams, for the service of a city and its inhabitants; and who, having such a privilege, would neglect them, and drink of standing water in a pond or puddle? or, the words, as the former, may be rendered, "shall for strange frozen waters, be left flowing ones?" see Grotius.

(x) "nunquid deserit aliquis aquam manatem de petra agri, ut biblat nivem Libani"; so some in Vatablus. (y) "aquae alienae", Schmidt, Montanus; "peregrinae", De Dieu.

Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? {d} or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?

(d) As no man that has thirst refuses fresh waters which he has at home, to go and seek waters abroad to quench his thirst: so they should not seek help and comfort from strangers and leave God who was present with them.

14. The unnatural conduct of Israel (cp. Jeremiah 8:7) is illustrated.

rock of the field] The strangeness of the expression has led to the conjectural substitution for “field” (sâdeh) of either (a) Shaddai, a title of Jehovah (e.g. Genesis 17:1), or (b) Sirion (Psalm 29:6), the Phoenician name (see Deuteronomy 3:9) for Hermon (so Co. and Du.), which has a summit crowned with perpetual snow. In the latter case, as Lebanon and Hermon were quite distinct, and as the former seems connected with the Hebrew root meaning whiteness, we may render with Co. “Does the white snow forsooth melt from the rock of Sirion?”

shall the cold waters … be dried up] mg. plucked up, but the emendation in the text is doubtless right, and is obtained by the transposition of two Hebrew consonants. The earlier part of the clause is more difficult to emend. Du., by simply dividing two adjacent words differently, gets for “waters that flow down from afar” “waters of the scatterers,” viz. the northern stars, as bringing rain at the time of their rising. He connects the word he renders “scatterers” with the north by reference to Job 37:9, where for the latter there is given in mg. scattering winds. But we cannot speak with any certainty. The Hebrew for “strange” may have come in through the accidental repetition of “cold,” which stands next in the Hebrew, and differs only in the initial letter. The mg. (the cold waters) “of strange lands that flow down be, etc.” is improbable as a rendering. The general sense at any rate is clear. Nature is constant in her operations, but God, the Rock of Israel, is forsaken by those who used to follow Him.

Jeremiah 18:14Such obduracy is unheard of amongst the peoples; cf. a like idea in Jeremiah 2:10. שׁעררת equals שׁערוּרה, Jeremiah 5:30. מאד belongs to the verb: horrible things hath Israel very much done equals very horrible things have they done. The idea is strengthened by Israel's being designated a virgin (see on Jeremiah 14:17). One could hardly believe that a virgin could be guilty of such barefaced and determined wickedness. In Jeremiah 18:14. the public conduct is further described; and first, it is illustrated by a picture drawn from natural history, designed to fill the people with shame for their unnatural conduct. But the significance of the picture is disputed. The questions have a negative force: does it forsake? equals it does not forsake. The force of the first question is conditioned by the view taken of מצּוּר ; and שׂדי may be either genitive to צוּר, or it may be the accusative of the object, and be either a poetic form for שׂדה, or plural c. suff. 1. pers. (my fields). Chr. B. Mich., Schur., Ros., Maur., Neum. translate according to the latter view: Does the snow of Lebanon descending from the rock forsake my fields? i.e., does it ever cease, flowing down from the rock, to water my fields, the fields of my people? To this view, however, it is to be opposed, a. that "from the rock" thus appears superfluous, at least not in its proper place, since, according to the sense given, it would belong to "snow of Lebanon;" b. that the figure contains no real illustrative truth. The watering of the fields of God's people, i.e., of Palestine or Judah, by the snow of Lebanon could be brought about only by the water from the melting snow of Lebanon soaking into the ground, and so feeding the springs of the country. But this view of the supply for the springs that watered the land cannot be supposed to be a fact of natural history so well known that the prophet could found an argument on it. Most recent commentators therefore join מצּוּר שׂדי, and translate: does the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock of the field (does it disappear)? The use of עזב with מן is unexampled, but is analogous to עזב חסד מעם, Genesis 24:27, where, however, עזב is used transitively.

But even when translated as above, "rock of the field" is variously understood. Hitz. will have it to be Mount Zion, which in Jeremiah 17:3 is called my mountain in the field, and Jeremiah 21:13, rock of the plain; and says the trickling waters are the waters of Gihon, these being the only never-drying water of Jerusalem, the origin of which has never been known, and may have been commonly held to be from the snow of Lebanon. Graf and Ng., again, have justly objected that the connection between the snow of Lebanon and the water-springs of Zion is of too doubtful a kind, and does not become probable by appeal to Psalm 133:3, where the dew of Hermon is said to descend on the mountains of Zion. For it is perfectly possible that a heavy dew after warm days might be carried to Jerusalem by means of the cool current of air coming down from the north over Hermon (cf. Del. on Psalm 133:3); but not that the water of the springs of Jerusalem should have come from Lebanon. Like Ew., Umbr., Graf, and Ng., we therefore understand the rock of the field to be Lebanon itself. But it is not so called as being a detached, commanding rocky mountain, for this is not involved in the sig. of שׂדי (see on Jeremiah 17:3); nor as bulwark of the field (Ng.), for צוּר does not mean bulwark, and the change of מצּוּר into מצור, from מצור, a hemming in, siege, would give a most unsuitable figure. We hold the "field" to be the land of Israel, whence seen, the summit of Lebanon, and especially the peak of Hermon covered with eternal snows might very well be called the rock of the field.

(Note: "Hermon is not a conical mountain like Tabor, with a single lofty peak and a well-defined base, but a whole mountain mass of many days' journey in circuit, with a broad crest of summits. The highest of these lie within the Holy Land, and, according to the measurements of the English engineers, Majors Scott and Robe (1840), rise to a height of 9376 English feet - summits encompassed by far-stretching mountain ridges, from whose deep gloomy valleys the chief rivers of the country take their rise.... Behind the dark green foremost range (that having valleys clothed with pine and oak forests) high mountains raise their domes aloft; there is a fir wood sprinkled with snow as with silver, a marvellous mingling of bright and dark; and behind these rises the broad central ridge with its peaks covered with a deep and all but everlasting snows." - Van de Velde, Reise, i. S. 96f. Therewith cf. Robins. Phys. Geogr. p. 315: "In the ravines round about the highest of the two peaks, snow, or rather ice, lies the whole year round. In summer this gives the mountain, when seen from a distance, the appearance of being surrounded with radiant stripes descending from its crown.")

Observe the omission of the article before Lebanon, whereby it comes about that the name is joined appellatively to "snow:" the Lebanon-snow. And accordingly we regard the waters as those which trickle down from Hermon. The wealth of springs in Lebanon is well known, and the trickling water of Lebanon is used as an illustration in Sol 4:15. ינּתשׁוּ, are rooted up, strikes us as singular, since "root up" seems suitable neither for the drying up of springs, nor for: to be checked in their course. Dav. Kimchi thought, therefore, it stood for ,ינּתשׁוּomittuntur; but this word has not this signification. Probably a transposition has taken place, so that we have ינתשׁו for ינּשׁתוּ, since for נשׁת in Niph. the sig. dry up is certified by Isaiah 19:5. The predicate, too, זרים is singular. Strange waters are in 2 Kings 19:24 waters belonging to others; but this will not do here. So Ew. derives זר from זרר, press, urge, and correspondingly, קרים from קוּר, spring, well up: waters pouring forth with fierce pressure. In this case, however, the following נוזלים would be superfluous, or at least feeble. Then, מים קרים, Proverbs 25:25, is cold water; and besides, זרר means constinxit, compressit, of which root-meaning the sig. to press forth is a contradiction. There is therefore nothing for it but to keep to the sig. strange for זרים; strange waters equals waters coming from afar, whose springs are not known, so that they could be stopped up. The predicate cold is quite in keeping, for cold waters do not readily dry up, the coldness being a protection against evaporation. Such, then, will be the meaning of the verse: As the Lebanon-snow does not forsake the rock, so the waters trickling thence do not dry up. From the application of this general idea, that in inanimate nature faithfulness and constancy are found, to Israel's bearing towards God arises a deeper significance, which shows why this figure was chosen. The rock in the field points to the Rock of Israel as the everlasting rock, rock of ages (Isaiah 30:29 and Isaiah 26:4), and the cold, i.e., refreshing waters, which trickle from the rock of the field, point to Jahveh, the fountain of living water, Jeremiah 2:13 and Jeremiah 17:13. Although the snow does not forsake Lebanon, Israel has forgotten the fountain of living water from which water of life flows to it; cf. Jeremiah 2:13.

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