Jeremiah 4:20
Destruction on destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Destruction upon destruction is cried.—Literally, Breaking upon breaking, or crash upon crash, is reported.

Suddenly are my tents spoiled.—The tent dwelling retained its position even amid the cities and villages of Israel (2Samuel 18:17; 1Kings 8:66). The “curtains” are, of course, those of the tent (Isaiah 54:2). Conspicuous among such survivals of the nomad form of life we find the Rechabites of Jeremiah 35

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.Destruction ... - Or, breaking upon breaking Jeremiah 4:6. The news of one breaking, one violent calamity, follows close upon another.

My curtains - The curtains of the tent, put here for the tents themselves. tents were the ordinary habitations of the Israelites.

20. Destruction … cried—Breach upon breach is announced (Ps 42:7; Eze 7:26). The war "trumpet" … the battle shout … the "destructions" … the havoc throughout "the whole land" … the spoiling of the shepherds' "tents" (Jer 10:20; or, "tents" means cities, which should be overthrown as easily as tents [Calvin]), form a gradation. Destruction upon destruction; a further expression of his bitter lamentation, redoubling his complaint; the end of one, but the beginning of another; q.d. worse and worse, Deu 32:23 Ezekiel 7:26; good Josiah slain, and four of his successors carried away or slain, or both, 2 Chronicles 36.

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 and magnificent palaces, sometimes described by tents, Isaiah 54:2, than if he were plundering of a camp, or overturning of tents made of curtains, Jeremiah 49:29; either alluding to their ancient way of living, Numbers 24:2,5, or their wilderness condition, when they abode in tents: q.d. We are reduced to as mean a condition as then, and that suddenly, ere we are aware, and it is done with as much ease as overturning a poor shepherd’s cottage, Lamentations 2:5,6. Jeremiah possibly personating a shepherd, speaks in the shepherd’s style, and may here signify the destruction of their whole country, even all those places and fields where shepherds were wont to pitch their tents. Destruction upon destruction is cried;.... Or, "breach upon breach" (g); as soon as one affliction is over, another comes on; and upon the news of one calamity, tidings are brought of another, as in Job's case: it signifies, that distress and troubles would come thick and fast, and that there would be no end of them, until there was an utter destruction, as this phrase signifies, and the following words show. Kimchi interprets it of the destruction of the ten tribes which came first, and of the destruction of Judah that came now.

For the whole land is spoiled, or "wasted" (h); that is, the land of Judea:

suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment: meaning either the armies of his people, which dwelt in tents, and were destroyed at once; or the cities, towns, and habitations of his countrymen, which he compares to tents, as being easily beat down or overthrown; and so the Targum interprets it of cities; and the prophet seems to intimate that this destruction would reach to Anathoth, where his tent; cottage, and curtains were. So sudden destruction some times comes, when men are crying Peace, peace, 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

(g) "contritio super contritionem", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius. (h) "vastata", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus.

Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is laid waste: suddenly are my {r} tents ruined, and my curtains in a moment.

(r) Meaning, the cities which were as easily cast down as a tent.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. is cried] better, one destruction (lit. breach) meeteth (followeth upon) another. The Hebrew verb is ambiguous.

curtains] tent-hangings. Cp. Jeremiah 10:20; Ca. Jeremiah 1:5; Isaiah 54:2.Verse 20. - My tents. Jeremiah uses a similar phrase in Jeremiah 30:18 (scrap. also 2 Samuel 20:1; 1 Kings 8:66; 1 Kings 12:16; Psalm 132:3; also Isaiah 29:1, "city where David encamped, i.e. dwelt"). The expression is evidently a "survival" of the nomadic, tent-dwelling age. (Comp. the parallel phrase, "my curtains," i.e. my tent-curtains; comp. Jeremiah 10:20; Isaiah 54:2; Song of Solomon 1:5.) If Jerusalem wishes to be saved, it must thoroughly turn from its sin, wash its heart clean; not merely abstain outwardly from wickedness, but renounce the evil desires of the heart. In the question: How long shall...remain? we have implied the thought that Jerusalem has already only too long cherished and indulged wicked thoughts. תּלין is 3rd pers. imperf. Kal, not 2nd pers. Hiph.: wilt thou let remain (Schnur. and others). For the Hiphil of luwn is not in use, and besides, would need to be תּליני. The מחשׁבות און, as in Proverbs 6:18; Isaiah 59:7, refer chiefly to sins against one's neighbour, such as are reckoned up in Jeremiah 7:5., Jeremiah 7:8.
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