Jeremiah 21:5
And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.
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21:1-10 When the siege had begun, Zedekiah sent to ask of Jeremiah respecting the event. In times of distress and danger, men often seek those to counsel and pray for them, whom, at other times, they despise and oppose; but they only seek deliverance from punishment. When professors continue in disobedience, presuming upon outward privileges, let them be told that the Lord will prosper his open enemies against them. As the king and his princes would not surrender, the people are exhorted to do so. No sinner on earth is left without a Refuge, who really desires one; but the way of life is humbling, it requires self-denial, and exposes to difficulties.Without the walls - These words are to be joined to wherewith ye fight. 5. The Jews shall have not merely the Chaldees, but Jehovah Himself in wrath at their provocations, fighting against them. Every word enhances the formidable character of God's opposition, "I myself … outstretched hand … strong arm (no longer as in Ex 6:6, and in the case of Sennacherib, in your behalf, but) in anger … fury … great wrath." I will fight against you, ( as a prince is said to fight against a nation whose captains fight against it, though himself stirreth not from his royal palace; yea, more than so,) animating and influencing the Babylonians and Chaldeans, whom I have sent to fight against you, and discouraging and dispiriting your armies.

With an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath; with such a hand and power as I manifested for my ancient Israel, Exodus 6:6. God is here spoken of in a dialect which maketh him more intelligible to us. He hath no hands, no arms, neither are anger and fury in him considered as turbulent passions, as they are in us; but as men stretch out their hands and arms when they intend to give smart and terrible strokes, and are egged to such blows from their passions and excessive wrath, so God is set out to us by expressions proper to men, and in him significative only of his just will to be revenged severely upon a sinful people. The sense is no more, than that an end was now come, and God was resolved no longer to bear with such a provoking people, but to bring his utmost wrath upon them, and to deal with them no longer according to his wondrous works of mercy, but in wondrous works of justice, which in men would look like the effects of wrath and fury. And myself will fight against you,.... So far from being entreated to do for them according to his wondrous works in times past, as their friend; that he will set himself against them as their enemy; and sad it is to have God for an enemy: if God be for a people, none can be against them to do them any hurt; but if he is against them, it signifies nothing who is for them: this must be much more terrible to them than the whole Chaldean army, and the king of Babylon at the head of them:

with an outstretched hand, and with a strong arm; such as he had used formerly in delivering Israel out of Egypt, but now in delivering them into the hands of their enemies; and out of the reach of such a hand there is no getting; and under the weight of such an arm there is no supporting; see Exodus 6:6;

even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath; because of their sins and iniquities. This heap of words is used to show the greatness of his indignation: this was not the chastisement of a father, but the rebuke of an enemy; not a correction in love, but in hot displeasure; a punishment inflicted in vindictive wrath by a righteous Judge, appearing in a warlike manner.

And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.
5. with an outstretched … arm] a phrase of Deut. (Deuteronomy 4:34, Deuteronomy 5:15, Deuteronomy 26:8).tells why the curse should fall on that man: because (אשׁר, causal) he slew me not from the womb, i.e., according to what follows: while yet in the womb, and so (ותּהי with ו consec.) my mother would have become my grave. Logically considered, the subject to מותתני can only be the man on whom the curse of Jeremiah 20:15 is pronounced. But how could the man kill the child in the mother's womb? This consideration has given occasion to various untenable renderings. Some have taken "from the womb," according to Job 3:11, in the sense: immediately after birth, simul ac ex utero exiissem (Ros.). This is grammatically fair enough, but it does not fall in with the context; for then the following Vav consec. must be taken as having the negative force "or rather," the negation being repeated in the next clause again (Ros., Graf). Both these cases are grammatically inadmissible. Others would supply "Jahveh" as subject to מותתני, or take the verb as with indefinite subject, or as passive. But to supply "Jahveh" is quite arbitrary; and against the passive construction it must be said that thus the causal nexus, indicated by אשׁר, between the man on whom the curse is to fall and the slaying of the child is done away with, and all connection for the אשׁר with what precedes would be lost. The difficulty arising from simply accepting the literal meaning is solved by the consideration, that the curse is not levelled against any one particular person. The man that was present at the birth, so as to be able to bring the father the news of it, might have killed the child in the mother's womb. Jeremiah is as little thinking how this could happen as, in the next words, he is of the possibility of everlasting pregnancy. His words must be taken rhetorically, not physiologically. That pregnancy is everlasting that has no birth at the end of it. - In Jeremiah 20:18 a reason for the curse is given, in that birth had brought him only a life of hardship and sorrow. To see hardship, i.e., experience, endure it. His days pass away, vanish in shame, i.e., shame at the discomfiture of hopes; for his life-calling produces no fruit, his prophetic work is in vain, since he cannot save his people from destruction.

The curse on the day of birth closes with a sigh at the wretchedness of life, without any hint that he again rises to new joyful faith, and without God's reprimanding him for his discontent as in Jeremiah 11:19. This difficulty the comm. have not touched upon; they have considered only the questions: how at all such a curse in the mouth of a prophet is to be defended; and whether it is in its right place in this connection, immediately after the words so full of hope as Jeremiah 20:11. (cf. Ng.). The latter question we have already discussed art the beginning of the exposition of these verses. As to the first, opinions differ. Some take the curse to be a purely rhetorical form, having no object whatsoever. For, it is said, the long past day of his birth is as little an object on which the curse could really fall, as is the man who told his father of the birth of a son - a man who in all probability never had a real existence (Ng.). To this view, ventured so early as Origen, Cor. a Lap. has justly answered: obstat, quod dies illa exstiterit fueritque creatura Dei; non licet autem maledicere alicui creaturae Dei, sive illa praesens sit sive praeterita. Others, as Calv., espied in this cursing quasi sacrilegum furorem, and try to excuse it on the ground that the principium hujus zeli was justifiable, because Jeremiah cursed the day of his birth not because of personal sufferings, sicknesses, poverty, and the like, but quoniam videret se perdere operam, quum tamen fideliter studeret eam impendere in salutem populi, deinde quum videret doctrinam Dei obnoxiam esse probris et vituperationibus, quum videret impios ita procaciter insurgere, quum videret totam pietatem ita haberi ludibrio. But the sentence passed, that the prophet gravissime peccaverit ut esset contumeliosus in Deu, is too severe one, as is also that of the Berleburg Bible, that "Jeremiah therein stands for an example of warning to all faithful witnesses for the truth, showing that they should not be impatient of the reproach, contempt, derision, and mockery that befall them on that account, if God's long-suffering bears with the mockers so long, and ever delays His judgments." For had Jeremiah sinned so grievously, God would certainly have reproached him with his wrong-doing, as in Jeremiah 15:19. Since that is not here the case, we are not entitled to make out his words to be a beacon of warning to all witnesses for the truth. Certainly this imprecation was not written fore our imitation; for it is doubtless an infirmitas, as Seb. Schm. called it - an outbreak of the striving of the flesh against the spirit. But it should be to us a source of instruction and comfort. From it we should, on the one hand, learn the full weight of the temptation, so that we may arm ourselves with prayer in faith as a weapon against the power of the tempter; on the other hand, we should see the greatness of God's grace, which raises again those that are stumbling to their fall, and does not let God's true servants succumb under the temptation, as we gather from the fact, that the Lord does not cast off His servant, but gives him the needed strength for carrying on the heavy labours of his office. - The difficulty that there is no answer from the Lord to this complaint, neither by way of reprimand nor of consolation, as in Jeremiah 12:5., Jeremiah 15:10, Jeremiah 15:19., is solved when we consider that at his former complainings the Lord had said to him all that was needed to comfort him and raise him up again. A repetition of those promises would have soothed his bitterness of spirit for a time, perhaps, but not permanently. For the latter purpose the Lord was silent, and left him time to conquer from within the temptation that was crushing him down, by recalling calmly the help from God he had so often hitherto experienced in his labours, especially as the time was now not far distant in which, by the bursting of the threatened judgment on Jerusalem and Judah, he should not only be justified before his adversaries, but also perceive that his labour had not been in vain. And that Jeremiah did indeed victoriously struggle against this temptation, we may gather from remembering that hereafter, when, especially during the siege of Jerusalem under Zedekiah, he had still sorer afflictions to endure, he no longer trembles or bewails the sufferings connected with his calling.

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