Jeremiah 23:2
Therefore thus said the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; You have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit on you the evil of your doings, said the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Ye have scattered my flock.—The charge was true literally as well as spiritually. The dispersion of the people in Egypt, Assyria, and Chaldæa was the result of the neglect, the tyranny, the feebleness of their rulers. They had been led, not as the Eastern shepherd leads (John 10:4-5), but “driven”—not to the fold, but “away” into far lands.

Have not visited.i.e., cared for and regarded. They were negligent, but God was not, and He therefore would “visit” them by reproof and chastisement.

Jeremiah 23:2-4. Therefore thus saith the Lord against the pastors that feed my people — That undertake the care of my people, though they do not faithfully execute their trust. God calls them his people, his flock, the sheep of his pasture, with respect to the ancient covenant which he had made with their fathers. They are said to have fed this people, because it was their duty to have done so. Ye have scattered my flock — Namely, by acts of violence and oppression, driving them from their places to seek more safe and quiet abodes. Or, instead of looking after them, you have suffered them to be dispersed, and through your ill example they have gone astray to idolatry, and that, with your other sins, has brought upon them their expulsion from their own land and a general dispersion. Behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings — Will deal with you as your sins have deserved. They would not visit the flock in the way of duty, and therefore God will visit them in a way of vengeance. And I will gather the remnant of my flock — Though there be but a remnant of my flock, a little remnant left, that has narrowly escaped destruction, I will gather that remnant; will find them out wherever they are, and will find out ways and means to bring them back out of all countries whither I have driven them. It was the justice of God for the sins of their shepherds that dispersed them, but the mercy of God shall gather them when the shepherds that betrayed them are cut off. And being brought to their former habitations, as sheep to their folds, there they shall be fruitful, and increase in numbers. And I will set up shepherds over them — Who shall make it their business, not only to rule, but also to feed them, namely, with knowledge and understanding. They shall fear no more — As they formerly did, when they were continually exposed to the oppressions of their rulers at home, or the invasions and assaults of their enemies from abroad; but they shall be preserved in peace and safety, and none of them shall be lacking. Though the times may have been long bad with the church, it does not follow that they will be always so. Such pastors as Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, though they did not live in such pomp as Jehoiakim and Jeconiah lived in, nor made such a figure, were as great blessings to the people as the others were plagues to them. The peace and prosperity of the church are not connected with, much less do they depend upon, the pomp of her rulers.23:1-8 Woe be to those who are set to feed God's people, but take no concern to do them good! Here is a word of comfort to the neglected sheep. Though only a remnant of God's flock is left, he will find them out, and they shall be brought to their former habitations. Christ is spoken of as a branch from David's family. He is righteous himself, and through him all his people are made righteous. Christ shall break the usurped power of Satan. All the spiritual seed of believing Abraham and praying Jacob shall be protected, and shall be saved from the guilt and dominion of sin. In the days of Christ's government in the soul, the soul dwells at ease. He is here spoken of as the Lord our Righteousness. He is so our Righteousness as no creature could be. His obedience unto death is the justifying righteousness of believers, and their title to heavenly happiness. And their sanctification, as the source of all their personal obedience is the effect of their union with him, and of the supply of this Spirit. By this name every true believer shall call him, and call upon him. We have nothing to plead but this, Christ has died, yea, rather is risen again; and we have taken him for our Lord. This righteousness which he has wrought out to the satisfaction of law and justice, becomes ours; being a free gift given to us, through the Spirit of God, who puts it upon us, clothes us with it, enables us to lay hold upon it, and claim an interest in it. The Lord our Righteousness is a sweet name to a convinced sinner; to one that has felt the guilt of sin in his conscience; seen his need of that righteousness, and the worth of it. This great salvation is far more glorious than all former deliverances of his church. May our souls be gathered to Him, and be found in him.They had scattered them first spiritually by leading them into idolatry; and secondly, many had literally been taken to Egypt with Jehoahaz, many in Jehoiakim's time had fled there, while others fell away to the Chaldaeans: and finally the best of the land had been carried to Babylon with Jeconiah.

Driven away - i. e., made them outcasts. In the East, shepherds never drive their flocks, but go ahead of them John 10:4-5.

Have not visited them - i. e., have not concerned yourselves about their conduct.

2. Ye have not … visited them … I will visit upon you—just retribution. Play upon the double sense of "visit." "Visit upon," namely, in wrath (Ex 32:34). That feed my people: God calleth them his people, his flock, the sheep of his pasture, with respect to the ancient covenant which God had made with their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are said to have fed this people, because it was their duty, and the business of their office, so to have done, though they had failed in it, and had done the quite contrary, scattering them by their acts of violence and oppression, and driving them from their places to seek some more safe and quiet places of abode; or by their prodigious wickednesses, having been the cause of their being carried into captivity: not visiting them, that is, taking any due care of their good and welfare, seeing what they wanted, and supplying them, as good rulers ought to have done; for which neglect God threateneth to visit upon them the evil of their doings. The Hebrew word signifieth to visit with a visitation of care and love, and also with a visitation of justice and severity, and is often so used in holy writ. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel,.... The covenant God of that people, who are Called his sheep, and the sheep of his pasture; having made a covenant with their fathers, and provided a good pasture for them, the land of Israel, where they enjoyed all blessings, civil and religious, and appointed persons over them to feed them; but these did not do their duty, and therefore the Lord was against them, as follows:

against the pastors that feed my people; whose office it was to feed, rule, and defend them; and who pretended to do it, but did it not;

ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them; they had been the means of their being driven out of their dwellings, and out of their own land, and of their being among the nations of the world, and took no care for the return of them, any more than they concerned themselves for their welfare when over them; or they suffered the enemy, like beasts of prey, to come in among them, which scattered them, and drove them from their pasture, as sheep are by bears, dogs, and wolves; and took no care to preserve them from them, or to gather them together again to their pasture. The people of the Jews, at the time when Christ came, hereafter prophesied of, were scattered as sheep without a shepherd, and are called the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Matthew 9:36;

behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord; that is, punish them for their iniquities; since they visited not the flock in a way of mercy and kindness, as the duty of their office required, the Lord would visit them in a way of justice, and punish them according to their deserts.

Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds that {c} feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.

(c) Whose charge is to feed the flock but they eat the fruit of it, Eze 34:3.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. feed] Heb. shepherd. Cp. Jeremiah 3:15.

scattered] by exile, voluntary or forced, in Egypt or Babylon.

driven them away] the opposite of that which is an Eastern shepherd’s duty, viz. to go before his flock, leading them to pasture or fold (Isaiah 40:11; John 10:3 f.).

visited … visit upon] The twofold sense of the Hebrew word is kept up in the English. Because the shepherds have not visited their flock for good, they shall themselves be visited with punishment.

3, 4 are considered by Co., but quite needlessly, to reflect a position of affairs which was later than Jeremiah’s date. The same critic, however, retains, though somewhat doubtfully, 7, 8, against which he might have brought the same objection. Moreover, the words “be fruitful and multiply” (see on Jeremiah 3:16) are not decisive against the genuineness of the v. here.Verse 2. - The Lord God of Israel; strictly, Jehovah the God of Israel. This national title of Jehovah suggests, in such a connection, that the crime of the kings is nothing short of sacrilege. Ye have scattered, etc.; i.e. been the cause of their scattering, Have not visited them. "To visit" often, by a natural association of ideas, means "to give attention to." By an equally natural association, it means "to fall upon, to punish." Hence, in the next clause, I will visit upon you. We have the same combination of meanings in Zechariah 10:3. Against Jehoiachin or Jechoniah. - Jeremiah 22:24. "As I live, saith Jahveh, though Conjahu, the son of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, yet would I pluck him thence, Jeremiah 22:25. And give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them of whom thou art afraid, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans; Jeremiah 22:26. And will cast thee and thy mother that bare thee into another land where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. Jeremiah 22:27. And into the land whither they lift up their soul to return, thither shall they not return. Jeremiah 22:28. Is this man Conjahu a vessel despised and to be broken, or an utensil wherein one has no pleasure? Jeremiah 22:29. O land, land, land, hear the word of Jahveh! Jeremiah 22:30. Thus hath Jahveh said: Write down this man as childless, as a man that hath no prosperity in his life; for no man of his seed shall prosper that sitteth upon the throne of David and ruleth widely over Judah."

The son and successor of Jehoiakim is called in 2 Kings 24:6., 2 Chronicles 36:8., Jeremiah 52:31, Jehojachin, and in Ezekiel 1:2, Jojachin; here, Jeremiah 22:24, Jeremiah 22:28, and Jeremiah 37:1, Conjahu; in Jeremiah 24:1, Jeconjahu; and in Jeremiah 27:20; Jeremiah 28:4; Jeremiah 29:2, Esther 2:6; 1 Chronicles 3:16, Jeconjah. The names Jeconjahu and abbreviated Jeconjah are equivalent to Jojachin and Jehojachin, i.e., Jahveh will establish. Jeconjah was doubtless his original name, and so stands in the family register, 1 Chronicles 3:16, but was at his accession to the throne changed into Jehojachin or Jojachin, to make it liker his father's name. The abbreviation of Jeconjahu into Conjahu is held by Hgstb. Christol. ii. p. 402, to be a change made by Jeremiah in order by cutting off the y (will establish) to cut off the hope expressed by the name, to make "a Jeconiah without the J, a 'God will establish' without the will." For two reasons we cannot adopt this as the true view: 1. The general reason, that if Jeremiah had wished to adumbrate the fate of the three kings (Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin) by making changes in their names, he would then have changed the name of Jehoiakim in like manner as he did that of Jehoahaz into Shallum, and that of Jehoiachin into Conjahu. The argument by which Hgstb. seeks to justify the exception in the one case will not hold its own. Had Jeremiah thought it unseemly to practise a kind of conceit, for however solemn a purpose, on the name of the then reigning monarch, then neither could he have ventured on the like in the case of Jehoiachin; for the present prediction was not, as Hgstb. assumed, uttered before his accession, but, as may be seen from the title king of Judah, Jeremiah 22:24, after he had ascended the throne, was actually king. Besides. 2. the name Conjahu occurs also at Jeremiah 37:1, in a historical heading, as of equal dignity with Jeconjahu, Jeremiah 29:2; Jeremiah 28:4, etc., where a name proper only to prophetic discourse would not have been in place. The passages in which the prophets express the character and destiny of a person in a name specially formed for the purpose, are of another kind. There we have always: they shall call his name, or: his name shall be; cf. Jeremiah 33:16; Isaiah 9:5; Isaiah 62:4; Ezekiel 48:35. That the name Jeconjah has not merely the prophet's authority, is vouched for by 1 Chronicles 3:15; Esther 2:6, and by the historical notices, Jeremiah 24:1; Jeremiah 27:20; Jeremiah 28:4; Jeremiah 29:2. And the occurrence of the name Jojachin only in 2 Kings 24; 2 Chronicles 36:1; Jeremiah 52:31, and Ezekiel 1:2 is in consequence of the original documents used by the authors of these books, where, so to speak, the official names were made use of; whereas Jeremiah preferred the proper, original name which the man bore as the prince-royal and son of Jehoiakim, and which was therefore the current and best known one.

The utterance concerning Jechoniah is more distinct and decided than that concerning Jehoiakim. With a solemn oath the Lord not only causes to be made known to him that he is to be cast off and taken into exile, but further, that his descendants are debarred from the throne for ever. Nothing is said of his own conduct towards the Lord. In 2 Kings 24:9 and 2 Chronicles 36:9 it is said of him that he did that which was displeasing to the Lord, even as his father had done. Ezekiel confirms this sentence when in Ezekiel 19:5-9 he portrays him as a young lion that devoured men, forced widows, and laid cities waste. The words of Jahveh: Although Conjahu were a signet ring on my right hand, convey no judgment as to his character, but simply mean: Although he were as precious a jewel in the Lord's eyes as a signet ring (cf. Haggai 2:23), the Lord would nevertheless cast him away. כּי before אם introduces the body of the oath, as in Jeremiah 22:5, and is for rhetorical effect repeated before the apodosis, as in 2 Samuel 3:9; 2 Samuel 2:27, etc. Although he were, sc. what he is not; not: although he is (Graf); for there is no proof for the remark: that as being the prince set by Jahveh over His people, he has really as close a connection with Him. Hitz.'s explanation is also erroneous: "even if, seeking help, he were to cling so closely to me as a ring does to the finger." A most unnatural figure, not supported by reference to Sol 8:6. As to אתּקנךּ, from נתק with ן epenth., cf. Ew. 250, b. - From Jeremiah 22:25 on, the discourse is addressed directly to Jechoniah, to make his rejection known to him. God will deliver him into the hand of his enemies, whom he fears, namely, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans, and cast him with his mother into a strange land, where he shall die. The mother was called Nehushta, 2 Kings 24:8, and is brought forward in 29:2 as גּבירה. On the fulfilment of this threatening, see 2 Kings 24:12, 2 Kings 24:15; Jeremiah 24:1; Jeremiah 29:2. The construction הארץ is like that of הגּפן נכריּה, Jeremiah 2:21; and the absence of the article from אחרת is no sufficient reason for holding it to be a gloss (Hitz.), or for taking the article in הארץ to be a slip caused by על הארץ, Jeremiah 22:27. To lift up their souls, i.e., to direct their longings, wishes, towards a thing, cf. Deuteronomy 24:15; Hosea 4:8, etc. - The further sentence on Jechoniah was not pronounced after he had been carried captive, as Ng. infers from the perfects הוּטלוּ and השׁלכוּ. The perfects are prophetic. The question: Is this man a vessel despised and to be broken (עצב, vas fictile)? is an expression of sympathising regret on the part of the prophet for the unhappy fate of the king; but we may not hence conclude that Jeremiah regarded him as better than his father. The prophet's sympathy for his fate regarded less the person of the unfortunate king than it did the fortunes of David's royal seed, in that, of Jechoniah's sons, none was to sit on the throne of David (Jeremiah 22:30). Ew. has excellently paraphrased the sense: "Although there is many a sympathising heart in the land that bitterly laments the hard fate of the dear young king, who along with his infant children has been (? will be) dragged away, yet it is God's unchangeable decree that neither he nor any of his sons shall ascend the throne of David." נפוּץ, not: broken, but: that shall be broken (cf. Ew. 335, b). Wherefore are they - he and his seed - cast out? At his accession Jehoiachin was eighteen years old, not eight, as by an error stands in 2 Chronicles 36:9, see on 2 Kings 24:8; so that when taken captive, he might well enough have children, or at least one son, since his wives are expressly mentioned in the account of the captivity, 2 Kings 24:15. That the sons mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:16 and 1 Chronicles 3:17 were born to him in exile, cannot be inferred from that passage, rightly understood, see on that passage. The fact that no sons are mentioned in connection with the carrying captive is simply explained by the fact that they were still infants.

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