Jeremiah 4:17
As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; because she has been rebellious against me, said the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Field.—With the meaning, as in all early English, of “open,” not “enclosed,” country (Leviticus 14:7; Leviticus 17:5). The image is that of a nomadic tribe encamped in the open country, or of men watching their flocks (Luke 2:8) or crops (Job 27:18). So shall be the tents of the invaders round Jerusalem—keeping, or (as in 2Samuel 11:16) “observing,” i.e., “blockading” the city.

4:5-18 The fierce conqueror of the neighbouring nations was to make Judah desolate. The prophet was afflicted to see the people lulled into security by false prophets. The approach of the enemy is described. Some attention was paid in Jerusalem to outward reformation; but it was necessary that their hearts should be washed, in the exercise of true repentance and faith, from the love and pollution of sin. When lesser calamities do not rouse sinners and reform nations, sentence will be given against them. The Lord's voice declares that misery is approaching, especially against wicked professors of the gospel; when it overtakes them, it will be plainly seen that the fruit of wickedness is bitter, and the end is fatal.Jeremiah compares the tents of the besiegers on guard round Jerusalem to the booths erected by shepherds or farmers for the protection of their flocks or produce. 17. keepers of a field—metaphor from those who watch a field, to frighten away the wild beasts. They will strictly besiege her, as keepers of a field will be careful who go in and who go out, Zechariah 12:2; they will watch that none go in to relieve them, and also that none get out to escape: see 2 Chronicles 16:1.

Because she hath been rebellious: God doth not threaten his judgments only, but he labours to convince them that there is a sufficient reason for it, both here and in the next verse. As keepers of a field, are they against her round about,.... As those that are set to watch a field, in which are fruit and corn of any sort, that thieves and robbers, and wild beasts, may not enter to waste and destroy, and are placed on all sides for that purpose; so the Chaldeans were round about Jerusalem, that none could make their escape out of it; see 2 Kings 25:4,

because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the Lord; it was not without reason that the Lord suffered the Chaldeans to come against Jerusalem, besiege, and take it; the inhabitants of it had rebelled against him, their King and their God; and therefore he delivers them up into the hands of another lord, and a cruel one; they had provoked him to anger with their sins, and caused him to stir up his wrath against them in this way: rebellion against a prince, or against a parent, is a provoking sin; see 1 Samuel 15:23.

As keepers of a {p} field, they are against her on all sides; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the LORD.

(p) Who keep the fruits so straitly, that nothing can come in or out so would the Babylonians compass Judah.,

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. As keepers of a field] If the MT. stands, the point of comparison will lie in the improvised shelters put up by guardians of cattle in the open country and those put up now by the besiegers round the city. Cp. Job 27:18; 2 Samuel 11:11. But by an inconsiderable change we can translate, they (the enemy) are lying in wait on the fields round about. So Co.Verse 17. - As keepers of a field. The prophet compares the tents, or perhaps the booths (1 Kings 20:12, 16), of the besieging army to the booths of the guardians of the crepe (Isaiah 1:8; Job 27:18). Description of the impending ruin, from which nothing can save but speedy repentance. - Jeremiah 4:11. "At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A hot wind from the bleak hills in the wilderness cometh on the way toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow and not to cleanse. Jeremiah 4:12. A wind fuller than for this shall come to me; now will I also utter judgments upon them. Jeremiah 4:13. Behold, like clouds it draws near, and like the storm are it chariots, swifter than eagles its horses. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled. Jeremiah 4:14. Wash from wickedness thy heart, Jerusalem, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thine iniquitous thoughts lodge within thee? Jeremiah 4:15. For a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from the Mount Ephraim. Jeremiah 4:16. Tell it to the peoples; behold, publish it to Jerusalem: Besiegers come from a far country, and let their voice ring out against the cities of Judah. Jeremiah 4:17. As keepers of a field, they are against her round about; for against me hath she rebelled, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 4:18. Thy way and thy doings have wrought thee this. This is thy wickedness; yea, it is bitter, yea, it reaCheth unto thine heart."

A more minute account of the impending judgment is introduced by the phrase: at that time. It shall be said to this people; in other words, it shall be said of this people; substantially, that shall fall upon it which is expressed by the figure following, a hot wind blowing from the naked hills of the wilderness. רוּח is stat. constr., and שׁפים dna its genitive, after which latter the adjective צח should be placed; but it is interpolated between the nomen regens and the n. rectum by reason of its smallness, and partly, too, that it may not be too far separated from its nomen, while בּמּדבּר belongs to שׁפים. The wind blowing from the bleak hills in the wilderness, is the very severe east wind of Palestine. It blows in incessant gusts, and cannot be used for winnowing or cleansing the grain, since it would blow away chaff and seed together; cf. Wetzst. in Del., Job, S. 320. דּרך is universally taken adverbially: is on the way, i.e., comes, moves in the direction of the daughter of Zion. The daughter of Zion is a personification of the inhabitants of Zion or Jerusalem. This hot blast is a figure for the destruction which is drawing near Jerusalem. It is not a chastisement to purify the people, but a judgment which will sweep away the whole people, carry away both wheat and chaff - a most effective figure for the approaching catastrophe of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the carrying away captive of its inhabitants. Hitz. and Graf have, however, taken דּרך as subject of the clause: the path, i.e., the behaviour of my people, is a keen wind of the bare hills in the wilderness. Thus the conduct of the people would be compared with that wind as unprofitable, inasmuch as it was altogether windy, empty, and further as being a hurtful storm. But the comparison of the people's behaviour with a parched violent wind is a wholly unnatural one, for the justification of which it is not sufficient to point to Hosea 8:7 : sow wind and reap storm. Besides, upon this construction of the illustration, the description: not to winnow and not to cleanse, is not only unmeaning, but wholly unsuitable. Who is to be winnowed and cleansed by the windy ways of the people? Jahveh?! Jeremiah 4:14 is indeed so managed by Hitz. and Graf that the tempestuous wind blows against God, "is directed against Jahveh like a blast of defiance and hostility." But this argument is sufficient to overthrow that unnatural view of the figure, which, besides, obtains no support from Jeremiah 4:12. מאלּה cannot refer to בּת־עמּי: a full wind from these, i.e., the sons of my people; and יבוא לי, in spite of the passages, Jeremiah 22:23; Jeremiah 50:26; Jeremiah 51:48; Job 3:25, does not mean: comes towards me, or: blows from them on me; for in all these passages לי is dativ commodi or incommodi. Here, too, לי is dative, used of the originator and efficient cause. The wind comes for me - in plainer English: from me. Properly: it comes to God, i.e., at His signal, to carry out His will. מלא מאלּה is comparative: fuller than these, namely, the winds useful for winnowing and cleansing. Now will I too utter. The intensifying גּם does not point to a contrast in the immediately preceding clause: because the people blows against God like a strong wind, He too will utter judgment against it. The גּם refers back to the preceding לי: the storm comes from me; for now will I on my side hold judgment with them. The contrast implied in גּם lies in the wider context, in the formerly described behaviour of the people, particularly in the sayings of the false prophets mentioned in Jeremiah 4:10, that there will be peace. On דּבּר משׁפּטים, cf. Jeremiah 1:16.

These judgments are already on the way in Jeremiah 4:13. "Like clouds it draws near." The subject is not mentioned, but a hostile army is meant, about to execute God's judgments. "Like clouds," i.e., in such thick dark masses; cf. Ezekiel 38:16. The war-chariots drive with the speed of the tempest; cf. Isaiah 5:28; Isaiah 66:15. The running of the horses resembles the flight of the eagle; cf. Habakkuk 1:8, where the same is said of the horsemen of the hostile people. Both passages are founded on Deuteronomy 28:49; but Jeremiah, while he had the expression קלּוּ מנּמרים סוּסיו, Habakkuk 1:8, in his mind, chose נשׁרים; instead of leopards (נמרים), in this following the original in Deut.; cf. 2 Samuel 1:23 and Lamentations 4:19. Already is heard the cry of woe: we are spoiled, cf. Jeremiah 4:20, Jeremiah 9:18; Jeremiah 48:1.

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