Jeremiah 4:19
My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
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(19) My bowels, my bowels!—As with Jeremiah 4:13, the words may be Jeremiah’s own cry of anguish, or that of the despairing people with whom he identifies himself. The latter gives more dramatic vividness, as we thus have the utterances of three of the great actors in the tragedy: here of the people, in Jeremiah 4:22 of Jehovah, in Jeremiah 4:23 of the prophet. The “bowels” were with the Hebrews thought of as the seat of all the strongest emotions, whether of sorrow, fear, or sympathy (Job 30:27; Isaiah 16:11).

At my very heart.—Literally (reproducing the physical fact of palpitation), I writhe in pain; the walls of my heart! my heart moans for me. The verb for “I am pained” is often used for the “travail” or agony of childbirth (Isaiah 23:4; Isaiah 26:18).

Thou hast heard, O my soul . . .—Silence at such a time was impossible. The prophet, as in the language of strong emotion, addresses his own soul, his very self (Comp. Psalm 16:2; Psalm 42:5; Psalm 42:11).

Jeremiah 4:19-20. My bowels, &c. — Or, as Dr. Waterland renders it, My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at the centre, or in the midst, of my heart; my heart is tumultuous within me! It is an exclamation of the prophet, moved beyond measure at the calamities coming on his country, in being made the seat of war, and utterly ruined by a hostile invasion: which was so strongly represented to him in his vision, that he, as it were, saw the army of Nebuchadnezzar before his eyes, and the destruction and desolation made by it, heard the noise of the trumpets, the shouts of the soldiers, the outcries and lamentations of his countrymen, and the groans of the wounded and dying. And “the calamities described are presented to the mind in such lively colours, the images are so crowded, and arranged with so much art, and the breaks and apostrophes are so animated, that we seem to be involved in the same scene of misery with the prophet.” — Bishop Lowth’s 9th and 17th Prelec. I cannot hold my peace — I am so troubled I cannot forbear my complaints. Because thou hast heard, O my soul, &c. — I have heard in the spirit of prophecy; the calamity will as certainly come as if I now heard the trumpet sounding. Destruction upon destruction — Dr. Waterland reads, Breach upon breach, or, destruction dashes upon destruction; one sad calamity, like Job’s messengers, treading upon the heels of another. First, good Josiah is slain in battle; within three months after, his son and successor, Jehoahaz, is deposed by the king of Egypt; within two or three years after, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and took it, and from thence forward was continually making descents on the land of Judah with his armies, during the reigns of Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah, till, about nineteen years after, he completed their ruin by the destruction of Jerusalem. For the whole land is spoiled — This is more particularly described Jeremiah 4:23-26. Suddenly are my tents spoiled — The enemy makes no more of overthrowing my stately cities than if he were overturning tents made of curtains.4:19-31 The prophet had no pleasure in delivering messages of wrath. He is shown in a vision the whole land in confusion. Compared with what it was, every thing is out of order; but the ruin of the Jewish nation would not be final. Every end of our comforts is not a full end. Though the Lord may correct his people very severely, yet he will not cast them off. Ornaments and false colouring would be of no avail. No outward privileges or profession, no contrivances would prevent destruction. How wretched the state of those who are like foolish children in the concerns of their souls! Whatever we are ignorant of, may the Lord make of good understanding in the ways of godliness. As sin will find out the sinner, so sorrow will, sooner or later, find out the secure.The verse is best translated as a series of ejaculations, in which the people express their grief at the ravages committed by the enemy:

"My bowels! My bowels!" I writhe in pain!

The walls of my heart! "My heart" moans for me!

I cannot keep silence!

For "thou hast heard, O my soul," the trumpet's voice!

"The alarm of war!"

19. The prophet suddenly assumes the language of the Jewish state personified, lamenting its affliction (Jer 10:19, 20; 9:1, 10; Isa 15:5; compare Lu 19:41).

at my very heart—Hebrew, "at the walls of my heart"; the muscles round the heart. There is a climax, the "bowels," the pericardium, the "heart" itself.

maketh … noise—moaneth [Henderson].

alarm—the battle shout.

My bowels, my bowels! here begins the woeful complaint of, and the great trouble the prophet was in, upon the consideration of these things, crying out as one even under great pain and torment, doubling his words for want of vent, thereby expressing the excess of his sorrow, which in words was inexpressible; the like 2 Samuel 18:33; which sorrow of his he expresseth Jeremiah 9:1,10.

I am pained at my very heart, Heb. the walls of my heart; or, my heartstrings, that surrounded and encompassed my heart, are ready to break. He may possibly allude to their encompassing the walls of Jerusalem. Or the proper meaning is, my heart is ready to break; the LXX. rendereth it doth beat or pant. Maketh a noise; is disturbed within me, I can have no rest nor quiet within, Job 30:27 Lamentations 1:20.

I cannot hold my peace; I cannot forbear my complaints, I am so troubled and grieved, Job 7:11 Isaiah 22:4.

Because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, i.e. I have heard in the spirit of prophecy; it is as certain as if I now heard the trumpet sounding, and the alarm of war beating up. My bowels, my bowels,.... These are either the words of the people, unto whose heart the calamity reached, as in the preceding verse; or rather of the prophet, who either, from a sympathizing heart, expresses himself in this manner; or puts on an appearance of mourning and distress, in order to awaken his people to a sense of their condition. The repetition of the word is after the manner of persons in pain and uneasiness, as, "my head, my head", 2 Kings 4:19,

I am pained at my very heart; as a woman in labour. In the Hebrew text it is, "as the walls of my heart" (e); meaning either his bowels, as before; or the "praecordia", the parts about the heart, which are as walls unto it; his grief had reached these walls, and was penetrating through them to his heart, and there was danger of breaking that:

my heart makes a noise in me; palpitates, beats and throbs, being filled with fears and dread, with sorrow and concern, at what was coming on; it represents an aching heart, all in disorder and confusion:

I cannot hold my peace; or be silent; must speak, and vent grief:

because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war; Kimchi observes, he does not say "my ears", but "my soul"; for as yet he had not heard with his ears the sound of the trumpet; for the enemy was not yet come, but his soul heard by prophecy: here is a Keri and a Cetib, a reading and a writing; it is written "I have heard"; it is read "thou hast heard", which is followed by the Targum: the sense is the same, it is the hearing of the soul. The prophet, by these expressions, represents the destruction as very near, very certain, and very distressing. The trumpet was sounded on different accounts, as Isidore (f) observes; sometimes to begin a battle; sometimes to pursue those that fled; and sometimes for a retreat.

(e) "parietes cordis mei", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius. (f) Orignum l. 18. c. 4.

My distress, my {q} distress! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.

(q) He shows that the true ministers are lively touched with the calamities of the Church, so that all the parts of their body feel the grief of their heart, even though with zeal to God's glory they pronounce his judgments against the people.

19. My bowels] considered as the seat of profound emotion. Cp. Jeremiah 31:20, Isaiah 16:11; Isaiah 63:15; Ca. Jeremiah 5:4 (R.V. mg.).

I am pained] decidedly to be preferred to mg. I will wait patiently.

at my very heart] O the walls of my heart! a separate exclamation. The “walls” are the sides of the cavity of the heart or the chest, against which it seems to beat. The prophet is speaking to some extent as a representative of the people.

is disquieted] The word in the Hebrew denotes tumultuous movement, pain, and the expression of it in sound.

thou hast heard, O my soul] better, as mg. (with different vocalisation in the Hebrew) my soul heareth. So LXX, Du. and Co. omit “my soul,” and read, with a very slight addition to the Hebrew verb, I hear.

19–22. The prophet is racked with grief at the noise of war and the thought of its horrors—and all through the mad folly of his people.

19–22. See summary at commencement of section.Verse 19. - My bowels. It is doubted whether the speaker in vers. 19-21 is the prophet or the whole nation. Ver. 19 reminds us of Isaiah 15:5; Isaiah 16:11 and Isaiah 21:3, 4, and would be quite in harmony with the elegiac tone of our prophet elsewhere; the Targum too already regards the passage as an exclamation of the prophet. On the other hand, the phrase "my tents" (ver. 20) certainly implies that the people, or the pious section of the people, is the speaker. Both views may perhaps be united. The prophet may be the speaker in ver. 19, but simply (as is the case with so many of the psalmists) as the representative of his fellow-believers, whom in ver. 20 he brings on the stage more directly. Ver. 19 is best rendered as a series of exclamations -

"My bowels! my bowels! I must writhe in pain!
The walls of my heart! My heart moaneth unto me!
I cannot hold my peace!
For thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet,
The alarm of war!"
Observe, the "soul" hears; the "heart" is pained. So generally the one is more active, the other more passive. The Hebrew margin gives, for "I must writhe," "I must wait" (comp. Micah 7:7); but this rendering does not suit the context. The walls of my heart. A poetical way of saying, "My heart beats." 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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