Jeremiah 4:29
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) 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.

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 whole city ... - Rather, Every city is fleeing. All the inhabitants of the tokens flee to Jerusalem for protection, or seek refuge in the woods and rocks.

The horsemen and bowmen - The cavalry Jeremiah 4:13 and bowmen formed the chief strength of the Assyrian armies.

They shall go - They have gone.

29. whole city—Jerusalem: to it the inhabitants of the country had fled for refuge; but when it, too, is likely to fall, they flee out of it to hide in the "thickets." Henderson translates, "every city."

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.

The whole city shall flee,.... Or, "every city"; for not Jerusalem only is meant, but every city, or the inhabitants of every city; and so the Targum paraphrases it,

"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.

(i) "in nubes", Munster, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt.

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 4:29The devastation of Judah, though not its utter annihilation, is irrevocably decreed, and cannot be turned away by any meretricious expedients. - Jeremiah 4:27. "For thus saith Jahveh, A waste shall the whole land be, yet will I not make an utter end. Jeremiah 4:28. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heaven above darken, because I have said it, purposed it, and repent it not, neither will I turn back from it. Jeremiah 4:29. For the noise of the horseman and bowman every city flees; they come into thickets, and into clefts of the rock they go up; every city is forsaken, and no man dwells therein. Jeremiah 4:30. And thou, spoiled one, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself in purple, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou tearest open thine eyes with paint, in vain thou makest thyself fair; the lovers despise thee, they seek thy life. Jeremiah 4:31. For I hear a voice as of a woman in travail, anguish as of one who bringeth forth her first-born, the voice of the daughter of Zion; she sigheth, she spreadeth out her hands: Woe is me! for my soul sinketh powerless beneath murderers."

Jeremiah 4:27-29

Jeremiah 4:27 and Jeremiah 4:28 confirm and explain what the prophet has seen in spirit in Jeremiah 4:23-26. A waste shall the land become; but the wasting shall not be a thorough annihilation, not such a destruction as befell Sodom and Gomorrah. עשׂה , as in Nahum 1:8., Isaiah 10:23, and freq. This limitation is yet again in v. Jeremiah 5:10, Jeremiah 5:18 made to apply to Jerusalem, as it has done already to the people at large. It is founded on the promise in Leviticus 26:44, that the Lord will punish Israel with the greatest severity for its stubborn apostasy from Him, but will not utterly destroy it, so as to break His covenant with it. Accordingly, all prophets declare that after the judgments of punishment, a remnant shall be left, from which a new holy race shall spring; cf. Amos 9:8; Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 11:11, Isaiah 11:16; Isaiah 10:20., Micah 2:12; Micah 5:6; Zephaniah 3:13, etc. "For this" refers to the first half of Jeremiah 4:27, and is again resumed in the על כּי following: for this, because Jahveh hath purposed the desolation of the whole land. The earth mourns, as in Hosea 4:3, because her productive power is impaired by the ravaging of the land. The heaven blackens itself, i.e., shrouds itself in dark clouds (1 Kings 18:45), so as to mourn over the desolated earth. The vividness of the style permits "have decreed it" to be appended as asyndeton to "I have said it," for the sake of greater emphasis. God has not only pronounced the desolation of the land, but God's utterance in this is based upon a decree which God does not repent, and from which He will not turn back. The lxx have placed the זמּתי after נחמתּי, and have thus obtained a neater arrangement of the clauses; but by this the force of expression in "I have said it, decreed it," is weakened. In Jeremiah 4:29 the desolation of the land is further portrayed, set forth in Jeremiah 4:30 as inevitable, and exhibited in its sad consequences in Jeremiah 4:31. On the approach of the hostile army, all the inhabitants flee into inaccessible places from the clatter or noise of the horsemen and archers. He that casts the bow, the bowman; cf. Psalm 78:9. כּל־העיר means, in spite of the article, not the whole city, but every city, all cities, as may be gathered from the בּהן, which points back to this. So frequently before the definite noun, especially when it is further defined by a relative clause, as e.g., Exodus 1:22; Deuteronomy 4:3; 1 Samuel 3:17; cf. Ew. 290, c. For the first כּל־העירthe lxx have πᾶσα ἡ χώρα, and accordingly J. D. Mich., Hitz., and Graf propose to amend to כּל־הארץ, so as to avoid "the clumsy repetition." But we cannot be ruled here by aesthetic principles of taste. Clearly the first "every city" means the populace of the cities, and so בּאוּ is: they (i.e., the men) come, pouring forth. עבים is not here clouds, but, according to its etymology, to be dark, means the dark thickets or woods; cf. the Syr. ̀āb, wood. כּפים, rocks, here clefts in the rocks, as is demanded by the בּ. For this state of things, cf. Isaiah 2:19, Isaiah 2:21, and the accounts of Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6, where the Israelites hide themselves from the invading Midianites in caves, ravines, thorn-thickets, rocks, and natural fastnesses.

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