The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up on the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The horsemen and bowmen.—A specially characteristic picture, as we see from the Nineveh sculptures, of Assyrian and Chaldæan armies.
Thickets . . . rocks.—Both words are Aramaic in the original. The former, elsewhere rendered “clouds,” is here used for the dark shadowy coverts in which men sought for shelter; the latter is the root of the name Cephas (= Peter). On the caves of Palestine as places of refuge in time of war, see Isaiah 2:19; 1Samuel 13:6.
The horsemen and bowmen - The cavalry Jeremiah 4:13 and bowmen formed the chief strength of the Assyrian armies.
noise—The mere noise of the hostile horsemen shall put you to flight.The whole city shall flee; the inhabitants of all ranks and qualities shall seek to escape the fury of this Chaldean army, Jeremiah 39:4.
For the noise; either upon the report of their coming, hereby as it were deriding their confidence; or rather at the approach of their vast armies, for they were close besieged before they fled, as appears, 2 Kings 25:4.
They shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks; such a consternation there shall be upon them, that they shall run into every hole to hide themselves: thus Manasseh was taken among the thorns, 2 Chronicles 33:11. The Hebrew is abim, the clouds, possibly alluding to dark places on the tops of hills, reaching as it were to the clouds, or among the cloudy shades of trees and groves that usually grew there. The LXX. render it caves, and so the rocks for shelter, or the clefts, caves, and hiding-places in the rocks. See Isaiah 2:21.
Every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein; there shall be an utter desolation, their cities quite forsaken, not any to inhabit them, Jeremiah 4:25,26.
"all the inhabitants of the land,''
who would be put into a panic, and flee: "for" or
at the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; of which the army of the enemy would greatly consist: it intimates that the inhabitants of Judea would not stand a battle; but at hearing the sound of the trampling of the horses, and the clattering of the bows and arrows, that the men upon them had, they would flee at once:
they shall go into the thickets, and climb upon the rocks; that is, either the horsemen and bowmen, who would pursue the inhabitants into those places: or rather the inhabitants themselves, who would flee thither to hide themselves from their enemies; namely, get into woods and forests, and among the thick trees, and cover themselves; and upon the highest mountains and rocks, and into the holes and caverns of them, and secure themselves from the enemy; see Matthew 24:16, the word for "thickets" signifies "clouds" (i); and Kimchi interprets it of places as high as the clouds, as the tops of some mountains are, so that going up to them is like entering into the clouds; and which are sometimes covered with thick trees, and look like clouds; but the Targum explains it of woods or forests:
every city shall be forsaken; of its inhabitants:
and not a man dwell therein; as the prophet had seen in his vision, Jeremiah 4:25, this was to be when a full end was made, not by the Babylonians, but by the Romans.The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)29. The whole city] the whole land. So LXX, supported by Targ. The word “city” was introduced by mistake from the latter part of the v.
bowmen] Cp. Jeremiah 5:16. The Scythians were noted for skill in archery. See Herod. IV. 46.
they go … rocks] The original words for “thickets” and “rocks” have been held to throw some doubt on the genuineness of the two clauses. The former is in Hebrew properly dark clouds, though the root in Aramaic would yield the sense “thickets.” So “rocks” seems a “loanword” from Aramaic and occurs but once elsewhere (Job 30:6). For the first word LXX have a double rendering, caves and woods. For the former sense they seem to have connected the word with an Arabic root, to conceal. Rocks, and the caves which they contained, were often used as places of refuge in the course of Jewish history. See ch. Jeremiah 16:16; also Jdg 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6; cp. Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 2:21.
29–31. Embellishments of the person are of no avail. Zion cries out in vain before an implacable foe.
29–31. See summary at commencement of section.Verse 29. - The whole city. The reading of which this is a version can hardly be the right one; for "the whole city" can only be Jerusalem, and in ver. 6 the people outside are bidden to take refuge in the capital. Hence Ewald, Hitzig, and Payne Smith (after Septuagint, Targum) would slightly amend the word rendered "city," so as to translate "the whole land" (of Judah). Shall flee; literally, fleeth. So afterwards render, "have gone.... is forsaken," "dwelleth." It is a vivid dramatic representation of the effects of the invasion. Bowmen. It is singular that Herodotus should say nothing about the use of the bow by the Chaldeans. But the monuments give ample evidence that they were a people of archers. So of course were the Scythians, as Herodotus testifies. The rooks; i.e. the limestone caverns which abound in Palestine, and which were frequently used as strongholds and hiding-places (see Judges 6:2; Judges 15:8; 1 Samuel 13:6; 1 Samuel 14:11; 1 Samuel 24:3 (especially); 1 Kings 18:13). Jeremiah 4:6). Ew. translates loosely: wound upon wound meet one another. For the word does not mean wound, but the fracture of a limb; and it seems inadmissible to follow the Chald. and Syr. in taking נקרא here in the sense of נקרה , since the sig. "meet" does not suit שׁבר. The thought is this: tidings are brought of one catastrophe after another, for the devastation extends itself over the whole land and comes suddenly upon the tents, i.e., dwellings of those who are lamenting. Covers, curtains of the tent, is used as synonymous with tents; cf. Jeremiah 10:20; Isaiah 54:2. How long shall I see the standard, etc.! is the cry of despair, seeing no prospect of the end to the horrors of the war. The standard and the sound of the trumpet are, as in Jeremiah 4:5, the alarm-signals on the approach of the enemy.
There is no prospect of an end to the horrors, for (Jeremiah 4:22) the people is so foolish that it understands only how to do the evil, but not the good; cf. for this Jeremiah 5:21; Isaiah 1:3; Micah 7:3. Jeremiah 4:21 gives God's answer to the woful query, how long the ravaging of the land by war is to last. The answer is: as long as the people persists in the folly of its rebellion against God, so long will chastising judgments continue. To bring this answer of God home to the people's heart, the prophet, in Jeremiah 4:23-26, tells what he has seen in the spirit. He has seen (ראיתי, perf. proph.) bursting over Judah a visitation which convulses the whole world. The earth seemed waste and void as at the beginning of creation, Genesis 1:2, before the separation of the elements and before the creation of organic and living beings. In heaven no light was to be seen, earth and heaven seemed to have been thrown back into a condition of chaos. The mountains and hills, these firm foundations of the earth, quivered and swayed (התקלקל, be put into a light motion, cf. Nahum 1:5); men had fled and hidden themselves from the wrath of God (cf. Isaiah 2:19, Isaiah 2:21), and all the birds had flown out of sight in terror at the dreadful tokens of the beginning catastrophe (Genesis 9:9). The fruitful field was the wilderness - not a wilderness, but "changed into the wilderness with all its attributes" (Hitz.). הכּרמל is not appell. as in Jeremiah 2:7, but nom. prop. of the lower slopes of Carmel, famed for their fruitfulness; these being taken as representatives of all the fruitful districts of the land. The cities of the Carmel, or of the fruitful-field, are manifestly not to be identified with the store cities of 1 Kings 9:19, as Hitz. supposes, but the cities in the most fertile districts of the country, which, by reason of their situation, were in a prosperous condition, but now are destroyed. "Before the heat of His anger," which is kindled against the foolish and godless race; cf. Nahum 1:6; Isaiah 13:13.
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