I beheld, and, see, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)There was no man.—To chaos and darkness and the earthquake was added the horrible sense of solitude. Not man only, but the creatures that seemed least open to man’s attack, were fled. (Comp. Jeremiah 2:6.) The same thought re-appears in Jeremiah 9:10.There was no man; quite depopulated and laid waste, all either slain, or carried captive, or fled; for after the flight of men, women, and children into Egypt, upon the death of Gedaliah, scarce a Jew was left in Judea.
All the birds of the heavens were fled; such birds as are used to inhabited places, that live, feed, and build among men; (others indeed, both birds and beasts, would continue, which implies but the greater desolation and waste of the land, as is threatened against Babylon, Isaiah 13:19-22)
fled, either to seek provisions, here being no food left for them, or frighted with the hideous noises and clatterings that do attend armies; as we have read, that such hath been the concussion of the air by the loud clamours and noises of armies, that birds have fallen down to the earth, Jeremiah 9:10 Zephaniah 1:2,3.
and all the birds of the heavens were fled; at the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war; at the blackness of the heavens, filled with smoke; at the barrenness of the earth, there being no seed sown; and the earth, as at the first creation, having no herb, nor trees bearing fruit, and so no food for birds; and therefore they went elsewhere, both wild and tame.I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)25. In spite of their vast size earth and heaven alike are bereft of the denizens which give them their aspect of life. For the disappearance of birds before God’s judgements cp. Hosea 4:3; Zephaniah 1:3.Jeremiah 4:19. "My bowels, my bowels! I am pained! the chambers of my heart - my heart rages within me! I cannot hold my peace! for thou hearest (the) sound of the trumpet, my soul, (the) war-cry. Jeremiah 4:20. Destruction upon destruction is called; for spoiled is the whole land; suddenly are my tents spoiled, my curtains in a moment. Jeremiah 4:21. How long shall I see (the) standard, hear (the) sound of the trumpet? Jeremiah 4:22. For my people is foolish, me they know not; senseless children are they, and without understanding; wise are they to do evil, but to do good they know not. Jeremiah 4:23. I look on the earth, and, lo, it is waste and void; and towards the heavens, and there is no light in them. Jeremiah 4:24. I look on the mountains, and, lo, they tremble, and all the hills totter. Jeremiah 4:25. I look, and, lo, no man is there, and all the fowls of the heavens are fled. Jeremiah 4:26. I look, and, lo, Carmel is the wilderness, and all the cities thereof are destroyed before Jahveh, before the heath of His anger."
To express the misery which the approaching siege of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah is about to bring, the prophet breaks forth into lamentation, Jeremiah 4:19-21. It is a much debated question, whether the prophet is the speaker, as the Chald. has taken it, i.e., whether Jeremiah is uttering his own (subjective) feelings, or whether the people is brought before us speaking, as Grot., Schnur., Hitz., Ew. believe. The answer is this: the prophet certainly is expressing his personal feelings regarding the nearing catastrophe, but in doing so he lends words to the grief which all the godly will feel. The lament of Jeremiah 4:20, suddenly are my tents spoiled, is unquestionably the lament not of the prophet as an individual, but of the congregation, i.e., of the godly among the people, not of the mass of the blinded people. The violence of the grief finds vent in abrupt ejaculations of distress. "My bowels, my bowels!" is the cry of sore pain, for with the Hebrews the bowels are the seat of the deepest feelings. The Chet. אוחולה is a monstrosity, certainly a copyist's error for אחוּלה, as it is in many MSS and edd., from חוּל: I am driven to writhe in agony. The Keri אוחילה, I will wait (cf. Micah 7:7), yields no good sense, and is probably suggested merely by the cohortative form, a cohortative being regarded as out of place in the case of חוּל. But that form may express also the effort to incite one's own volition, and so would here be rendered in English by: I am bound to suffer pain, or must suffer; cf. Ew. 228, a. - קירות , prop. the walls of my heart, which quiver as the heart throbs in anguish. הומה־לּי is not to be joined with the last two words as if it were part of the same clause; in that case we should expect הומה. But these words too are an ejaculation. The subject of הומה is the following לבּי; cf. Jeremiah 48:36. In defiance of usage, Hitz. connects לבּי with לא : my heart can I not put to silence. But this verb in Hiph. means always: be silent, never: put to silence. Not even in Job 11:3 can it have the latter meaning; where we have the same verb construed with acc. rei, as in Job 41:4, and where we must translate: at thy harangues shall the people be silent. The heart cannot be silent, because the soul hears the peal of the war-trumpet. שׁמעתּי is 2nd pers. fem., as in Jeremiah 2:20, Jeremiah 2:33, and freq., the soul being addressed, as in Psalm 16:2 (in אמרתּ), Psalm 42:6, 12. This apostrophe is in keeping with the agitated tone of the whole verse.
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