Jeremiah 18:17
I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) With an east wind.—MSS. vary, some giving “with” and some “as an east wind.” The difference does not much affect the meaning. The east wind blowing from the desert was the wind of storms, tempests, and parching heat (Jonah 4:8; Psalm 48:7; Isaiah 27:8). I will shew them the back, and not the face.—The figure is boldly anthropomorphic. The light of God’s countenance is the fulness of joy (Numbers 6:25). To turn away that light was to leave the people to the darkness of their misery. What was thus done by Jehovah was but a righteous retribution on the people who had “turned their back” and “not their face” to Him (Jeremiah 2:27).

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!I will shew them the back - The hiding of God's face is the sure sign of His displeasure Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 59:2.

I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy.

(Compare Genesis 41:6; Exodus 10:13; Exodus 14:21; Job 38:24; Psalm 78:26; Habakkuk 1:6). This wind was usually hot, noxious, blasting and scorching (Taylor).

17. as with an east wind—literally, "I will scatter them, as an east wind (scatters all before it)": a most violent wind (Job 27:21; Ps 48:7; Isa 27:8). Thirty-two manuscripts read (without as), "with an east wind."

I will show them the back … not … face—just retribution: as "they turned their back unto Me … not their face" (Jer 2:27).

The east wind is (or was at least in those parts) the fiercest wind. As the east wind scatters the chaff, so, saith God, I will scatter them. And when they shall be in great calamity and misery, I will not hearken to them, I will not turn my face to them, or show them my face; but I will turn my back upon them, I will not regard them crying, nor hear their prayers. I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy,.... As the east wind, which is generally strong and boisterous, drives the chaff and stubble, and anything that is light, before it, and scatters it here and there; so the Lord threatens to scatter the people of the Jews over the face of the earth, before their enemies, whom they should not be able to withstand. It denotes the power of the enemy God would make use of; the ease with which this should be done; and the utter dispersion of them; and is their present case:

I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity; that is, will not look upon them in a favourable way, nor with any pity and compassion for them, nor hear their cries; but turn his back upon them, and a deaf ear unto them, and give them no help and relief, or deliver them out of their calamities; but suffer them to continue upon them, and them to sink under them; see Proverbs 1:26; which refers to the same time of calamity as here.

I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back, and {f} not the face, in the day of their calamity.

(f) I will show my anger and not my favour toward them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. as with an east wind] better, perhaps, as an east wind.

look upon … their face] mg. shew them the back, and not the face, in answer to the people’s own behaviour towards Him. See ch. Jeremiah 2:27. They shall flee for shelter from the enemy as from the sirocco, the scorching wind in Palestine which springs suddenly from the desert in the E. or S.E. Cp. Genesis 41:6 (“blasted”) and see on Amos 4:9 in C.B.Verse 17. - As with an east wind. The east was a stormy wind (Psalm 48:7; Job 27:21). I wilt show them the back; as they have done to Jehovah (Jeremiah 2:27; Jeremiah 32:33). Application of the emblem to Judah. - Jeremiah 18:11. "And now speak to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying: Thus hath Jahveh said: Behold, I frame against you evil and devise against you a device. Return ye, now, each from his evil way, and better your ways and your doings. Jeremiah 18:12. But they say: There is no use! For our imaginations will we follow, and each do the stubbornness of his evil heart. Jeremiah 18:13. Therefore thus hath Jahveh said: Ask now among the heathen! who hath heard the like? A very horrible thing hath the virgin of Israel done! Jeremiah 18:14. Does the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock of the field? or do strange, cold trickling waters dry up? Jeremiah 18:15. For my people hath forgotten me; to the vanity they offer odours; they have made them to stumble upon their ways, the everlasting paths, to walk in by-paths, a way not cast up. Jeremiah 18:16. To make their land a dismay, a perpetual hissing, every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and shake his head. Jeremiah 18:17. Like the east wind I will scatter them before the enemy; with the back and not with the face will I look upon them in the day of their ruin."

Jeremiah 18:11-12

In Jeremiah 18:11 and Jeremiah 18:12 what was said at Jeremiah 18:6. is applied to Judah. יצר, from in sense of prepare (cf. Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 37:26), is chosen with special reference to the potter (יוצר). מחשׁבה, the thought, design, here in virtue of the parallelism: evil plot, as often both with and without רעה; cf. Esther 8:3, Esther 8:5; Esther 9:25; Ezekiel 38:10. The call to repentance runs much as do Jeremiah 35:15 and Jeremiah 7:3. - But this call the people reject disdainfully, replying that they are resolved to abide by their evil courses. ואמרוּ, not: they said, but: they say; the perf. consec. of the action repeating itself at the present time; cf. Ew. 342, b. 1. נואשׁ as in Jeremiah 2:25; on "stubbornness of their evil heart," cf. Jeremiah 3:17. By this answer the prophet makes them condemn themselves out of their own mouth; cf. Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 30:10.

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