Jeremiah 25:34
Howl, you shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, you principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and you shall fall like a pleasant vessel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(34) Howl, ye shepherds.—The idea of the flock suggested in the “habitation” or “pasture” of Jeremiah 25:30 is here expanded. The “shepherds” are, as usual, the rulers of the people (Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 22:22, et al.).

Wallow yourselves in the ashes.—The words in italics have probably been added to bring the passage into conformity with Jeremiah 6:26, but they are not needed, and the interpretation is unauthorised. Better, therefore, roll on the ground. By some interpreters the word is rendered “sprinkle yourselves.” The “principal of the flock” are the “strong ones,” i.e., the best and fattest of the rams, denoting figuratively the princes and captains of the people.

And of your dispersions.—The Hebrew text seems faulty, and a slight alteration, now generally accepted, gives, and I will scatter you.

Like a pleasant vessel.—The sudden change of metaphor is somewhat startling, as judged by our rules of rhetoric; but the poets and prophets of Israel wrote without the fear of criticism, and used each image that presented itself, if it was fit for its immediate purpose, without caring much for continuity. The thought of the scattered flock suggested the idea of a dispersion or breaking-up of another kind, even that of the “pleasant vessel” (literally, the vessel of desire, i.e., a vase made as for kingly and honourable uses), falling with a crash and shivered into fragments, which Jeremiah had presented to the people in his acted parable and spoken words in Jeremiah 19:10-11, and in Jeremiah 22:28. The LXX. translators give like the chosen rams, as if anxious to avoid the mixed metaphor, and venturing on a conjectural emendation of the text.

Jeremiah 25:34-35. Howl, ye shepherds, and cry — The imperative is here also put for the future: see Jeremiah 25:27. Shepherds are here the same with kings, princes, or generals. In pursuance of the same metaphor, by the principal of the flock are meant the great and rich men of each nation. Though such are wont to be the most courageous and secure, yet of these it is foretold, that their hearts should so fail them that they should howl, and cry, and wallow in ashes. Seeing themselves utterly unable to make head against the enemy, and seeing their country, which they had the charge of, and for the protection and prosperity of which they were concerned, inevitably ruined, they should abandon themselves to despair, sorrow, and lamentation. For the days of your slaughter, &c., are accomplished — The time fixed in the divine counsel for the slaughter of some, and the dispersion of the rest, is fully come. And ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel — Ye shall be utterly destroyed, as a crystal glass when it is dashed against the ground. The shepherds shall have no way to flee, &c. — The enemy will be so numerous, so furious, so sedulous, and the extent of their army so vast, that it will be impossible to avoid falling into their hands.25:30-38 The Lord has just ground of controversy with every nation and every person; and he will execute judgment on all the wicked. Who can avoid trembling when God speaks in displeasure? The days are fully come; the time fixed in the Divine counsels, which will make the nations wholly desolate. The tender and delicate shall share the common calamity. Even those who used to live in peace, and did nothing to provoke, shall not escape. Blessed be God, there is a peaceable habitation above, for all the sons of peace. The Lord will preserve his church and all believers in all changes; for nothing can separate them from his love.Principal of the flock - i. e., noble ones.

Wallow yourselves in the ashes - Rather, roll yourselves on the ground.

For ... - Read; "for your days for being slaughtered are accomplished, and I will scatter you" (or, (dash you in pieces).

Fall like a pleasant vessel - The comparison suggests the idea of change from a thing of value into worthless fragments.

34. shepherds—princes (Jer 22:22). Here he returns to the Jews and their rulers, using the same image as in Jer 25:30, "pasture" (see on [929]Jer 25:30).

wallow yourselves—Cover yourselves as thickly with ashes, in token of sorrow, as one who rolls in them (Jer 6:26; Eze 27:30) [Maurer].

principal—leaders. The Septuagint translates "rams," carrying out the image (compare Isa 14:9, Margin; Zec 10:3).

days of your slaughter … of … dispersions—rather, "your days for slaughter (that is, the time of your being slain), and your dispersions (not 'of your dispersions'), are accomplished (are come)."

pleasant vessel—Ye were once a precious vessel, but ye shall fall, and so be a broken vessel (see on [930]Jer 22:28). "Your past excellency shall not render you safe now. I will turn to your ignominy whatever glory I conferred on you" [Calvin].

Shepherds, and the

principal of the flock, are in this place of the same significancy, by both he means the civil rulers; so the word is used Jeremiah 22:22 23:1. These he calls aforehand to bewail their fate; for the days were now come when they should be slain and scattered. And he tells them their fall should be like the fall of a crystal glass, or some delicate tender vessel, which when it falleth breaketh in pieces, and cannot again be set together. Howl, ye shepherds, and cry,.... The Targum is,

"howl, ye kings, and cry;''

and the rulers and governors of the nations before threatened with destruction are meant; who are here called upon to lamentation and mourning for the ruin and loss of their kingdoms; though Calvin thinks that this is an apostrophe to the Jewish nation, and the rulers of it. It is no uncommon thing in Scripture to call kings and civil magistrates shepherds; see Jeremiah 23:1;

and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock; or "roll yourselves in dust", as a token of mourning; as being in the utmost distress, and incapable of helping themselves, and redressing the grievances of their people; and therefore lie down and tumble about as in the greatest anxiety and trouble, the Targum is,

"cover your heads with ashes, ye mighty of the people;''

meaning those who were in the highest posts of honour and profit; the chief as to authority and power, riches and wealth;

for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; the time is come when they who were the fat of the flock, and were nourished up for slaughter, should be slain. The allusion to shepherds and sheep is still kept up; and such who should escape that, should be scattered up and down the world, as a flock of sheep is by the wolf, or any other beast of prey, when some are seized and devoured, and others dispersed; and this was not the case of the Jews only, but of other nations in their turn;

and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel; a vessel of worth and value, and so desirable; as vessels of glass, of gems, or of earth, as of Venice glass, of alabaster, of China; which when they fall and are broken, become useless, and are irreparable; signifying hereby, that their desirableness and excellency would not secure them from destruction, and that their ruin would be irretrievable.

Howl, {z} ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye chief of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a {a} pleasant vessel.

(z) You that are chief rulers, and governors.

(a) Which are most easily broken.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
34. wallow yourselves in ashes] rather, sprinkle yourselves. See on Jeremiah 6:26. The words “in ashes” are added in E.VV. only because they occur in the Hebrew of the other passage.

principal of the flock] not equivalent to “shepherds,” but rather, chief among the sheep, i.e. wealthy ones of the people, whose rank and riches avail nothing now.

and I will break you in pieces] mg. (less well) and I will disperse you. Aq. Symm. Theod. Vulg. read, and your dispersions. The Hebrew is difficult in point of grammar.

like a pleasant vessel] By altering one Hebrew consonant, we can render with LXX like choice rams. But the reading “rams” might easily arise through the influence of “principal of the flock” just before, and to this we may add that the figure of a vessel in such a connexion has been already used by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 22:28). Cp. also 2 Chronicles 32:27; 2 Chronicles 36:10; Hosea 13:15; Nahum 2:9.Verse 34. - Wallow yourselves in the ashes. Supply rather, in the dust (comp. Micah 1:10), as more suitable to the figure (see on Jeremiah 6:26). The shepherds, and the principal (or, noble ones) of the flock, are, of course, merely different forms of expression for the rulers. The days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; rather, your days for being slaughtered are fulfilled; and I will scatter you (or, dash you in pieces). This is the reading of an old and valuable manuscript at St. Petersburg, and is partly favored by the pointing; it is adopted by most modern critics, the form in the text being ungrammatical. Pleasant; or, precious (comp. Daniel 11:8, Authorized Version). Compare the figure in Jeremiah 22:28. From Jeremiah 25:27 onwards the commission from God (Jeremiah 25:15.) is still more completely communicated to Jeremiah, so that the record of its fulfilment (Jeremiah 25:17-26), together with the enumeration of the various peoples, is to be regarded as an explanatory parenthesis. These might the less unsuitably be inserted after Jeremiah 25:16, inasmuch as what there is further of the divine command in Jeremiah 25:27-29 is, if we examine its substance, little else than an enforcement of the command. The prophet is not merely to declare to them what is the meaning of this drinking of wrath (Hitz.), but is to tell them that they are to drink the cup of wrath to the bottom, so that they shall fall for drunkenness and not be able to stand again (Jeremiah 25:27); and that they must drink, because when once Jahveh has begun judgment on His own people, He is determined not to spare any other people. קיוּ from קיה equals קוא serves to strengthen the שׁכרוּ; in the second hemistich the figurative statement passes into the real, as at Jeremiah 25:16. In Jeremiah 25:28 שׁתו תשׁתּוּ is a peremptory command; ye shall equals must drink. Jeremiah 25:29 gives the reason; since God spares not His own people, then the heathen people need not count on immunity. "And ye think to go unpunished" is a question of surprise. Judgment is to be extended over all the inhabitants of the earth.

As to the fulfilment of this prophecy, see detail sin the exposition of the oracles against the nations, Jeremiah 46-51. Hence it appears that most of the nations here mentioned were subject to Nebuchadnezzar. Only of Elam is no express mention there made; and as to Media, Jeremiah has given no special prophecy. As to both these peoples, it is very questionable whether Nebuchadnezzar ever subdued them. For more on this, see on Jeremiah 49:34-39. Although it is said in Jeremiah 25:9 of the present chapter and in Jeremiah 27:5. that God has given all peoples, all the lands of the earth, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, yet it does not follow thence that Nebuchadnezzar really conquered all. The meaning of the prophetic announcement is simply that the king of Babylon will obtain dominion over the world for the coming period, and that when his time is run, he too must fall beneath the judgment. The judgment executed by Nebuchadnezzar on the nations is the beginning of that upon the whole earth, before which, in course of time, all inhabitants of the earth fall, even those whom Nebuchadnezzar's sword has not reached. In the beginning of the Chaldean judgment the prophet sees the beginning of judgment upon the whole earth.

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