Jeremiah 4:21
How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) How long shall I see . . .—The “standard,” as in Jeremiah 4:6, is the alarm signal given to the fugitives. The “trumpet” sounds to give the alarm, and quicken their flight to the defenced city. The prophet sees no end to the miseries of the coming war.

Jeremiah 4:21-22. How long shall I see the standard, &c. — This dreadful war continued a great while, not in the borders, but in the bowels of the country; for the people were very obstinate, and would not submit to, but took all opportunities of rebelling against, the king of Babylon, which did but lengthen out and aggravate the calamity, as Jeremiah did not fail to warn them it would do. Had they taken his advice, and yielded sooner, their country would have escaped the utter destruction which came upon it. But God, as a punishment for their sins, suffered them to be infatuated. For my people is foolish — Some commentators have considered these words, as well as those preceding, as being spoken by God, in answer to the prophet’s complaints of his grievous vision, to show that such sad images were presented to him, because, on account of the people’s obstinacy and wickedness, it was necessary that they should feel the effects of his just anger, even until Jerusalem should be levelled with the ground. But the passage seems to suit the prophet much better, speaking here as one commissioned by the divine authority to preach to this people. They have not known me — Namely, they have not known the Lord, in whose name the prophet speaks. Those are foolish indeed, who, calling themselves God’s people, and having the advantage of becoming acquainted with him, yet have not known him. They are sottish children — Stupid and senseless; and have no understanding — They cannot distinguish between truth and falsehood, good and evil; cannot discern the mind of God, either in his word or in his providence; they do not understand what their true interest is, nor on which side it lies. They are wise to do evil — To plot mischief against the quiet of the land; wise to contrive the gratification of their lusts, and then to conceal or palliate their conduct; but to do good they have no knowledge — No contrivance, no application of mind; they know not how to make a good use either of the ordinances or providences of God, nor how to bring about any design for the good of their country. They are perfect strangers to the obligations of religion and virtue, and never show any quickness of thought but when they are contriving to bring about some mischief.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 standard - See Jeremiah 4:6. The alarm caused by the invasion is graphically described. The people are dispersed over the land following their usual pursuits, when tidings come of the enemy's approach. The only chance of escape is a hasty flight. Flags stream from the hills to mark the safest route, while the blasts of the trumpet quicken the steps of the wavering. 21. Judah in perplexity asks, How long is this state of things to continue? He seems to have these concomitants of war, both of Judea preparing for defence, and especially these of the enemy preparing for ruin and destruction. always in his eye and ear, Jeremiah 4:19, and bewailing the continuance of it in taking city after city, with the several sackings of Jerusalem under her three last kings. The LXX. read, How long shall I see them flying? reading nas, a refuge, for nes, a banner, differing only in the points. How long shall I see the standard,.... "Ensign" or "banner" displayed; either by the watchmen placed on high hills or towers, who, when they see the enemy approaching, lift up their ensign or banner, and blow with their trumpets, to give the people warning and notice of it, and to call them to battle, and that they might prepare for the same, as Kimchi observes; or else by the Chaldean army, which came with colours flying, trumpets blowing, and set in array for battle, which was very terrible, as an army with banners is, Sol 6:4,

and hear the sound of the trumpet? either of the watchmen giving notice of danger, and summoning to battle, or of the enemy preparing to attack; see 1 Corinthians 14:8.

How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 21. - Shall I see the standard. (See on ver. 6.) It is high time to cleanse oneself from sin, periculum in mora est; for already calamity is announced from Dan, even from the Mount Ephraim. קול מגּיד, the voice of him who gives the alarm, sc. נשׁמע, is heard; cf. Jeremiah 3:21; Jeremiah 31:15. That of which the herald gives warning is not given till the next clause. און, mischief, i.e., calamity. משׁמיע is still dependent on קול. "From Dan," i.e., the northern boundary of Palestine; see on Judges 20:1. "From Mount Ephraim," i.e., the northern boundary of the kingdom of Judah, not far distant from Jerusalem. The alarm and the calamity draw ever nearer. "The messenger comes from each successive place towards which the foe approaches" (Hitz.). In Jeremiah 4:16 the substance of the warning message is given, but in so animated a manner, that a charge is given to make the matter known to the peoples and in Jerusalem. Tell to the peoples, behold, cause to be heard. The הנּה in the first clause points forward, calling attention to the message in the second clause. A similar charge is given in Jeremiah 4:5, only "to the peoples" seems strange here. "The meaning would be simple if we could take 'the peoples' to be the Israelites," says Graf. But since גּוים in this connection can mean only the other nations, the question obtrudes itself: to what end the approach of the besiegers of Jerusalem should be proclaimed to the heathen peoples. Jerome remarks on this: Vult omnes in circuitu nationes Dei nosse sententiam, et flagelat Jerusalem cunctos recipere disciplinam. In like manner, Chr. B. Mich., following Schmid: Gentibus, ut his quoque innotescat severitatis divinae in Judaeos exemplum. Hitz. and Gr. object, that in what follows there is no word of the taking and destruction of Jerusalem, but only of the siege; that this could form no such exemplum, and that for this the issue must be awaited. But this objection counts for little. After the description given of the enemies (cf. Jeremiah 4:13), there can be no doubt as to the issue of the siege, that is, as to the taking of Jerusalem. But if this be so, then the warning of the heathen as to the coming catastrophe, by holding the case of Jerusalem before them, is not so far-fetched a thought as that it should be set aside by Hitz.'s remark: "So friendly an anxiety on behalf of the heathen is utterly unnatural to a Jew, especially seeing that the prophet is doubly absorbed by anxiety for his own people." Jeremiah was not the narrow-minded Jew Hitz. takes him for. Besides, there is no absolute necessity for holding "Tell to the peoples" to be a warning of a similar fate addressed to the heathen. The charge is but a rhetorical form, conveying the idea that there is no doubt about the matter to be published, and that it concerned not Jerusalem alone, but the nations too. This objection settled, there is no call to seek other interpretations, especially as all such are less easily justified. By changing the imper. הזכּירוּ and השׁמיעוּ into perfects, Ew. obtains the translation: "they say already to the peoples, behold, they come, already they proclaim in Jerusalem," etc.; but Hitz. and Graf have shown the change to be indefensible. Yet more unsatisfactory is the translation, "declare of the heathen," which Hitz. and Graf have adopted, following the lxx, Kimchi, Vat., and others. This destroys the parallelism, it is out of keeping with the הנּה, and demands the addition (with the lxx) of בּאוּ thereto to complete the sense. Graf and Hitz. have not been able to agree upon the sense of the second member of the verse. If we make לגּויםde gentibus, then 'השׁמיעוּ וגו ought to be: proclaim upon (i.e., concerning) Jerusalem. Hitz., however, translates, in accordance with the use of משׁמיע in vv. 5 and 15: Cry it aloud in Jerusalem (prop. over Jerusalem, Psalm 49:12; Hosea 8:1); but this, though clearly correct, does not correspond to the first part of the verse, according to Hitz.'s translation of it. Graf, on the other hand, gives: Call them (the peoples) out against Jerusalem - a translation which, besides completely destroying the parallelism of the two clauses, violently separates from the proclamation the thing proclaimed: Besiegers come, etc. Nor can השׁמיעוּ be taken in the sense: call together, as in Jeremiah 50:29; Jeremiah 51:27; 1 Kings 15:22; for in that case the object could not be omitted, those who are to be called together would need to be mentioned; and it is too much to assume גּוים from the לגּוים for an object. The warning cry to Jerusalem runs: נצרים, besiegers, (acc. to Isaiah 1:8) come from the far country (cf. Jeremiah 5:15), and give their voice (cf. 1 Kings 2:15); i.e., let the tumult of a besieging army echo throughout the cities of Judah. These besiegers will be like field-keepers round about Jerusalem (עליה refers back to Jerus.), like field-keepers they will pitch their tents round the city (cf. 1 Kings 1:15) to blockade it. For against me (Jahveh) was she refractory (מרה c. acc. pers., elsewhere with ב, Hosea 14:1; Psalm 5:11, or with את־פּי, Numbers 20:24, and often). This is expanded in Jeremiah 4:18. Thy way, i.e., they behaviour and thy doings, have wrought thee this (calamity). This is thy wickedness, i.e., the effect or fruit of thy wickedness, yea, it is bitter, cf. Jeremiah 2:19; yea, it reacheth unto thine heart, i.e., inflicts deadly wounds on thee.
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