Jeremiah 22:23
O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) O, inhabitant of Lebanon.—The phrase develops the thought of Jeremiah 22:6. The king, in his cedar-palace, is as one who has made Lebanon his home, literally and figuratively (see Note on Jeremiah 22:7), and is as an eagle nestling in the cedar.

How gracious shalt thou be . . .!—Better, how wilt thou sigh! or, how wilt thou groan! as connected with the pangs of travail. No pomp or majesty could save the royal house from the inevitable doom.

Jeremiah 22:23. O inhabitant of Lebanon — O thou that inhabitest the city which for pleasantness and delight may be compared to Lebanon. Or he alludes to the stately buildings of Jerusalem, elsewhere compared to the tall cedars of a forest: see note on Jeremiah 21:14. That makest thy nest in the cedars — Who livest in houses built of cedars. How gracious shalt thou be — Or rather, how humble, or suppliant, wilt thou be, when pangs come upon thee — Those pangs of affliction which shall suddenly oppress thee, whereas before thou wast too proud to hearken to any advice that was offered. The Hebrew, מה נחנתי, is rendered by Buxtorff, quam gratulaberis tibi, How wilt thou gratulate thyself when pangs, &c., understanding it as spoken ironically.

22:20-30 The Jewish state is described under a threefold character. Very haughty in a day of peace and safety. Very fearful on alarm of trouble. Very much cast down under pressure of trouble. Many never are ashamed of their sins till brought by them to the last extremity. The king shall close his days in bondage. Those that think themselves as signets on God's right hand, must not be secure, but fear lest they should be plucked thence. The Jewish king and his family shall be carried to Babylon. We know where we were born, but where we shall die we know not; it is enough that our God knows. Let it be our care that we die in Christ, then it will be well with us wherever we die, thought it may be in a far country. The Jewish king shall be despised. Time was when he was delighted in; but all those in whom God has no pleasure, some time or other, will be so lowered, that men will have no pleasure in them. Whoever are childless, it is the Lord that writes them so; and those who take no care to do good in their days, cannot expect to prosper. How little is earthly grandeur to be depended upon, or flourishing families to be rejoiced in! But those who hear the voice of Christ, and follow him, have eternal life, and shall never perish, neither shall any enemy pluck them out of his almighty hands.Lebanon is the usual metaphor for anything splendid. and is here put for Jerusalem, but with special reference to the kings whose pride it was to dwell in palaces roofed with cedar Jeremiah 22:14.

How gracious shalt thou be - Or, How wilt thou groan!

23. inhabitant of Lebanon—namely, Jerusalem, whose temple, palaces, and principal habitations were built of cedars of Lebanon.

how gracious—irony. How graciously thou wilt be treated by the Chaldees, when they come on thee suddenly, as pangs on a woman in travail (Jer 6:24)! Nay, all thy fine buildings will win no favor for thee from them. Maurer translates, "How shalt thou be to be pitied!"

Jerusalem, which is called an

inhabitant of Lebanon, either because their houses were built of wood cut down out of the forest of Lebanon, or because they lived in as great plenty and delight as if they lived in Lebanon, or because they thought the mountain of Lebanon was a certain refuge to them. They are said to

make their nest in the cedars, either because their houses were built of the cedars of Lebanon, or because of the security they promised themselves from that forest and mountain, so full of and famous for cedars. What favour wilt thou find when my judgments shall come upon thee, as suddenly and as smartly as the pains of a woman in travail come upon her! a similitude often made use of by this prophet, to express the suddenness, unavoidableness, and greatness of judgments, Jeremiah 4:31 6:24 13:21 30:6 49:24 50:43; and so in other scriptures, Psalm 48:6 Micah 4:9 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

O inhabitant of Lebanon,.... Jerusalem is meant, and the inhabitants of it, so called, because they lived near Lebanon, or in that land in which Lebanon was; or rather because they dwelt in houses made of the wood of Lebanon; and which stood as thick as the trees in the forest of Lebanon; and where they thought themselves safe and secure, according to the next clause; not but that there were inhabitants of the mountain of Lebanon, called Druses; and there were towns and villages on it, inhabited by people, as there are to this day. After four hours and a half travelling up the ascent, from the foot of the mountain, there is, as travellers (z) inform us, a small pretty village, called Eden; and besides that, at some distance from it, another called Canobine, where there is a convent of the Maronites, and is the seat of their patriarch; and near it a valley of that name, full of hermitages, cells and monasteries; but the former are here meant;

that makest thy nests in the cedars; in towns, palaces, and houses, covered, ceiled, raftered, and wainscotted with cedars; here they lived at ease and security, as birds in a nest. The Targum is,

"who dwellest in the house of the sanctuary, and among kings? nourishing thy children;''

how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail? that is, either thou wilt seek grace and favour at the hand of God, and make supplication to him; thou wilt then be an humble supplicant, when in distress, though now proud and haughty (a): or what favour wilt thou then find among those that come to waste and destroy thee? This refers to the calamity coming upon them by the Chaldeans, as the following words show:

(z) Maundrell's Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 142, 143. Thevenot's Travels, part 1. B. 2. c. 60. p. 221. (a) "quam gratiam habuisti, vel quomodo precata es", Vatablus; "quam afficieris gratia", Piscator; "quantum gratiae invenies", Schmidt.

O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the {q} cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail!

(q You that are built of the fair cedar trees of Lebanon.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. “Judah has been as confident of safety as a bird that had fixed its nest far away from men in the cedars on the heights of Lebanon.” Pe.

inhabitant] For mg. inhabitress see on Jeremiah 21:13.

how greatly to be pitied] The mg. how wilt thou groan is probably the right reading (so LXX, Syr. and Targ. The MT. is a not unnatural corruption arising from a transposition of two consonants).

Verse 23. - O inhabitant - rather, O inhabitress - of Lebanon. It is the people of Jerusalem which is meant; the "Lebanon" are the palaces of cedar-wood which together are called" the house of the King of Judah" (ver. 6). How gracious shalt thou be; rather, How wilt thou sigh! Jeremiah 22:23The cause of this calamity: because Judah in its prosperity had not hearkened to the voice of its God. שׁלות, from שׁלוה, security, tranquillity, state of well-being free from anxiety; the plur. denotes the peaceful, secure relations. Thus Judah had behaved from youth up, i.e., from the time it had become the people of God and been led out of captivity; see Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 2:17. - In Jeremiah 22:22 תּרעה is chosen for the sake of the word-play with רעיך, and denotes to depasture, as in Jeremiah 2:16. As the storm-wind, especially the parching east wind, depastures, so to speak, the grass of the field, so will the storm about to break on Judah sweep away the shepherds, carry them off; cf. Jeremiah 13:24, Isaiah 27:8; Job 27:21. The shepherds of the people are not merely the kings, but all its leaders, the authorities generally, as in Jeremiah 10:21; and "thy shepherds" is not equivalent to "thy lovers," but the thought is this: Neither its allies nor its leaders will be able to help; the storm of calamity will sweep away the former, the latter must go captive. So that there is no need to alter רעיך into רעיך (Hitz.). With the last clause cf. Jeremiah 2:36. Then surely will the daughter of Zion, feeling secure in her cedar palaces, sigh bitterly. The inhabitants of Jerusalem are said to dwell in Lebanon and to have their nests in cedars in reference to the palaces of cedar belonging to the great and famous, who at the coming destruction will suffer most. As to the forms ישׁבתּי and מקנּנתּי, see on Jeremiah 10:17. The explanation of the form נחנתּי is disputed. Ros., Ges., and others take it for the Niph. of חנן, with the force: to be compassionated, thus: who deserving of pity or compassion wilt thou be! But this rendering does not give a very apt sense, even if it were not the case that the sig. to be worthy of pity is not approved by usage, and that it is nowhere taken from the Niph. We therefore prefer the derivation of the word from אנץ, Niph. נאנח .hpi, contr. ננח, a derivative founded on the lxx rendering: τὶ καταστενάξεις, and Vulg. quomodo congemuisti. The only question that then remains is, whether the form נחנתּ has arisen by transposition from ננחתּ, so as to avoid the coming together of the same letter at the beginning (Ew., Hitz., Gr.); or whether, with Bttch. ausf. Gramm. 1124, B, it is to be held as a reading corrupted from ננחתּי. With "pangs," etc., cf. Jeremiah 13:21; Jeremiah 6:24.
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