Jeremiah 20:17
Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Because he slew me not . . .—The wish that he had never been born is uttered by the prophet in strange, bold language. It would have been better that the messenger that told that he was born had slain him before his birth, that his mother’s womb had been his grave, that she had never had strength to bring him forth. Thought, structure, even grammar are, in their abruptness and irregularities, alike significant of intense emotion.

20:14-18 When grace has the victory, it is good to be ashamed of our folly, to admire the goodness of God, and be warned to guard our spirits another time. See how strong the temptation was, over which the prophet got the victory by Divine assistance! He is angry that his first breath was not his last. While we remember that these wishes are not recorded for us to utter the like, we may learn good lessons from them. See how much those who think they stand, ought to take heed lest they fall, and to pray daily, Lead us not into temptation. How frail, changeable, and sinful is man! How foolish and unnatural are the thoughts and wishes of our hearts, when we yield to discontent! Let us consider Him who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we should be at any time weary and faint in our minds under our lesser trials.The cry - is the sound of the lamentation Jer 20:8; "the shouting" is the alarm of war. 17. he—"that man" (Jer 20:15, 16).

from the womb—that is, at that time while I was still in the womb.

These various expressions do only let us see to what a tide passion swelled in this good man’s heart, and teach us how much need we have to pray to be delivered from our own passions. Jeremiah’s leaving these things recorded by himself, is one instance of what is brought as a rational argument to prove that only men wrote the Scriptures by inspiration from God, they would never else have recorded their own gross failings, men commonly writing for their own honour, not to their own defamation. Because he slew me not from the womb,.... As soon as he came out of it; that is, as soon as he was born; either because God slew him not so soon, as Kimchi; or the angel of death, as Jarchi: or rather the man that carried the tidings of his birth to his father, who is all along spoken of in the two former verses; he curses him for not doing that, which, had he done, would have been exceeding criminal in him indeed; for not committing murder, even for not murdering an innocent babe;

or that my mother might have been my grave; he wishes he had died in her womb, and had never been brought forth; and so that had been his grave, where he should have been at ease and safety:

and her womb to be always great with me; or, "her womb an everlasting conception" (m); his wish was, that she had been always conceiving, or ever big with child of him, but never bring forth; which was a more cruel and unnatural wish than the former concerning the man, the carrier of the tidings of his birth; since this was wishing a perpetual, painful, and intolerable evil to his own mother.

(m) "et ejus uterus, conceptus perpetuus", Munster; "et vulva ejus, conceptio perpetua", Pagninus, "et vulva ejus praegnans perpetuo", Vatablus.

Because he slew me not at my birth; or that my mother might have been my grave, and she had not been {k} delivered.

(k) Meaning that the fruit of it might never come to profit.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. from] better (with LXX), as shewn by the context, in. The consonants which represent the two prepositions were written similarly in Hebrew MSS.Jeremiah 20:10 gives the reason for the resolution, adopted but not carried out, of speaking no more in the name of the Lord. This was found in the reports that reached his ears of schemes against his life. The first clause is a verbal quotation from Psalm 31:14, a lament of David in the time of Saul's persecutions. דּבּה, base, backbiting slander. The phrase: Fear round about, indicates, in the form of a brief popular saying, the dangerous case in which the prophet was,

(Note: Hupfeld on Psalm 31:14 holds מגור מסּביב to be a proverbial expression for a harassed condition, full of terrors, since the phrase is frequently used by Jeremiah (besides the present Jeremiah 20:3, Jeremiah 20:4, and Jeremiah 20:15, it is at Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 46:5; Jeremiah 49:29; Lamentations 2:22). The use made of it in v. 3 would in that case be easily understood. For we cannot infer, as Ng. would do, that Jeremiah must have formed the phrase himself, from the fact that, except in Psalm 31:14, it is nowhere found but in Jeremiah.)

which his adversaries prepare for him by their repeating: Report him, we will report him.

Report: here, report to the authorities as a dangerous man. Even those who are on friendly terms with him lie in wait for his fall. This phrase too is formed of phrases from the Psalms. On "am of my peace," cf. Psalm 41:10; on צלעי, Psalm 35:15; Psalm 38:18; and on שׁמר, watch, lie in wait for, Psalm 56:7; Psalm 71:10. "Peradventure" - so they said - "he may let himself be enticed," sc. to say something on which a capital charge may be founded (Graf). With "that we may prevail against him," cf. Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 15:20. - At Jeremiah 20:11 the lament rises into confidence in the Lord, springing from the promise given to him by God at his call. אותי (for אתּי) יהוה recalls Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 15:20.The designation of God as גּבּור is formed after Jeremiah 15:21. Because the Lord has promised to deliver him out of the hand of the עריצים, violent, he now calls him a hero using violence, and on this founds his assurance that his persecutors will accomplish nothing, but will come to a downfall, to shame, and be covered with never-dying, never-to-be-forgotten disgrace. Because they have dealt not wisely, i.e., foolishly, see on Jeremiah 10:21; not: because they did not prosper, which would give a weak, superfluous idea, since their not prospering lies already in בּושׁ, spe frustrari. This disgrace will befall the persecutors, because the Lord of hosts will, as Searcher of hearts, take the part of the righteous, and will take vengeance on their foes. This is the force of Jeremiah 20:12, which, with a few changes, is repeated from Jeremiah 11:20. - In this trustfulness his soul rises to a firm hope of deliverance, so that in Jeremiah 20:13 he can call on himself and all the godly to praise God, the Saviour of the poor. Cf. Psalm 31:8; Psalm 35:9-10, Psalm 35:28, etc.

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