Jeremiah 4:30
And when you are spoiled, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with crimson, though you deck you with ornaments of gold, though you rend your face with painting, in vain shall you make yourself fair; your lovers will despise you, they will seek your life.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(30) And when thou art spoiled . . .—The sentence is clearer without the insertion of the words in italics: Thou spoiled one, what dost thou work, that thou clothest . . . that thou deckest . . . that thou rentest . . .? In vain dost thou beautify thyself. The “clothing with crimson “and “ornaments of gold” are, as before noticed (Note on Jeremiah 4:13), an echo from 2Samuel 1:24. The “rending the face” is, literally, enlarging the eyes with kohl, or antimony, still used for this purpose in the east, the black powder being laid on horizontally with a small stylus, or pencil, drawn between the eyelashes. The daughter of Zion is represented as a woman who puts on her costliest attire, as Jezebel had done (2Kings 9:30), in the vain hope of fascinating her lovers. The imagery points to the foreign alliances in which the statesmen and people of Jerusalem were trusting, and they are told that they shall be in vain. The lovers, i.e., the allies, shall become her foes.

Jeremiah 4:30. And when thou art spoiled — When this destruction shall come upon thee, which is very near; what wilt thou do? — When thou, O daughter of Zion, art besieged by the Babylonians, what course wilt thou take? As if he had said, Thy condition will be desperate. Though thou clothest thyself, &c. — The prophet proceeds in a kind of insulting speech, in which he, as it were, upbraids them with their pride and false confidence. With crimson, or scarlet. Though thou deckest thyself with ornaments, &c. — Though thou superinduce those ornaments, or jewels of gold, that may render thy attire the most rich and splendid. Though thou rendest thy face with painting — The Hebrew is, Though thou rendest thine eyes, &c.

“This alludes to the custom of the eastern ladies, who, esteeming large eyes beautiful, make use of stibium, a sort of black paint, which is laid upon the eyelids with a pencil, and being of all astringent quality, partly contracts the eyelids, and partly, by the contrast of colour, tends to enlarge the appearance of the white part of the eyes.” — Blaney. See Bishop Lowth’s note on Isaiah 3:16. Dr. Durrell has remarked, that the Ethiopians, to this day, paint their eyebrows with antimony mixed with moist soot. See Ludolphi, Hist. Ethiop., lib. 7. cap. 7. In vain shalt thou make thyself fair — The prophet carries on the idea wherewith he began, representing Jerusalem under the figure of a harlot, dressing herself up to captivate lovers; seeking, by the finery of her dress and other allurements, to engage their affections, but in vain: so, he signifies, it should be with them; all the arts they had made use of to engage the Egyptians, or other foreigners, to assist them against the Chaldeans, should stand them in no stead; nay, those very allies of theirs would join with their enemies.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.Translate, And thou, O plundered one, what effectest thou, that "thou clothest thyself with" scarlet, that "thou deckest" thyself "with ornaments of gold," that thou enlargest thine eyes with antimony (2 Kings 9:30 note)? "In vain" dost thou beautify thyself; "thy lovers" despise" thee, they" seek "thy life." Jerusalem is represented as a woman who puts on her best attire to gain favor in the eyes of her lovers, but in vain. 30. when thou art spoiled—rather, "thou, O destroyed one" [Maurer].

rentest … face with painting—Oriental women paint their eyes with stibium, or antimony, to make them look full and sparkling, the black margin causing the white of the eyes to appear the brighter by contrast (2Ki 9:30). He uses the term "distendest" in derision of their effort to make their eyes look large [Maurer]; or else, "rentest," that is, dost lacerate by puncturing the eyelid in order to make the antimony adhere [Rosenmuller]. So the Jews use every artifice to secure the aid of Egypt against Babylon.

face—rather, thy eyes (Eze 23:40).

When thou art spoiled; which will certainly come upon thee; or when this destruction shall come upon thee, which is very near thee.

What wilt thou do? viz. when thou, O daughter of Zion, as Jeremiah 4:31, art besieged by the Babylonians, what course wilt thou take? It is not to be avoided. A kind of an insulting way of speech, as it were upbraiding them with their pride and confidence: q.d. Your condition is desperate.

Crimson, or scarlet, 2 Samuel 1:24: see on See Poole "Isaiah 1:18".

Though thou deckest thee with ornaments; though thou dost superinduce those ornaments, or jewels of gold, that may reader thy attire the most rich and splendid, 2 Samuel 1:24.

Though thou rentest thy face with painting: it is observed that they that paint much make their skins withered. Face, Heb. eyes, the wantonness thereof being possibly set out more by painting; see Isaiah 3:16; or rather, face and eyes, being sometimes put one for the other see 1 Samuel 16:12 Isaiah 25:8, compared with Revelation 21:4.

In vain shalt thou make thyself fair; all thy tricking up thyself, thinking thereby to ingratiate thyself with the Chaldeans, will be to no purpose, for they will work thy ruin, as in the close of the verse, and Jeremiah 19:7.

Thy lovers will despise thee; they will slight thee more than ever; they that have doted on time, thy unchaste paramours, their lust being satisfied, shall abhor thee; see 2 Samuel 13:15; and the pronoun, being not in the original, it may signify that no lovers at all will look after thee; thou shalt be cast off by all. See thus of Tyre, Isaiah 23:15,16. Those that were in confederacy with thee, and thy professed friends, Hosea 2:5, shall not only forsake time, but join with thine enemies to destroy thee, Lamentations 1:2. And thus is Babylon to be dealt withal, Revelation 17:16,17. The sense is, That notwithstanding all thy allurings and enticements, either to obtain the help of thy friends and allies the Egyptians, whom thou takest to be thy lovers, and didst forsake me to cleave to them, or to stop the fury of thine enemies, the Chaldeans; (possibly alluding to Jezebel’s practice, in painting herself to stop the fury of Jehu, 2 Kings 9:30 O yet shall it advantage thee nothing; thou shalt be no more regarded than a forsaken strumpet, Ezekiel 16:36,37 Eze 23And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do?.... Or, "O thou spoiled" (k), wasted, and undone creature, how wilt thou help thyself? by what means dost thou think thou canst be delivered? it suggests that her ruin was inevitable; that she could not be recovered from it by herself, or any other:

though thou clothest thyself with crimson; and so look like some rich and noble person; hoping thereby to find mercy, and to have quarter given and kindness shown:

though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold; as a person of high and princely dignity: or rather all this is to be understood of the manner of harlots, who dress rich and grand, in order to allure men; since it follows,

though thou rendest thy face with painting; or, eyes (l); which painting dilates as Jezebel did, 2 Kings 9:30,

in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; so as to be loved and admired: far from it:

thy lovers will despise thee; as an old harlot is despised by her former gallants, notwithstanding all her dressing and painting; yea, their love is often turned into hatred and abhorrence, as would be the case here,

they will seek thy life; to take it away; so far would there be from being any ground of expectations of help and deliverance from them.

(k) "et tu vastata", Pagninus, Montanus "et tu, res vastata", Cocceius. (l) "scindes in fuco oculos tuos", Montanus; "rumpes stibio oculos tuos", Schmidt.

And when thou art laid waste, what wilt thou do? Though thou {x} clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou enlarge thy eyes with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.

(x) Neither your ceremonies nor rich gifts will deliver you.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
30. Thy harsh captors will scorn thy feminine arts to make thyself attractive in their eyes. But the anomalous gender (masc.) of the Hebrew participle suggests that it is a gloss.

And thou, when thou art spoiled] And thou, plundered one. The fem. indicates, as often, a collective sense; so in Jeremiah 4:11, Jeremiah 7:29, Jeremiah 10:17. Cp. Jeremiah 4:31; so also Psalm 45:12.

ornaments of gold] Cp. Hosea 2:13.

enlargest (Heb. rendest) thine eyes with paint] i.e. with antimony. It was considered that the lustre and apparent size of the pupil of the eye were enhanced by this practice, which consisted of “blackening the edge of the eyelids both above and below the eye with a black powder called kohl. This is a collyrium commonly composed of the smoke black, which is produced by burning a kind of liban, an aromatic resin, a species of frankincense.… kohl is also prepared of the smoke black produced by burning the shells of almonds.… Antimony, it is said, was formerly used for painting the edges of the eyelids. The kohl is applied with a small probe of wood, ivory, or silver, tapering towards the end, but blunt; this is moistened, sometimes with rosewater, then dipped in the powder and drawn along the edges of the eyelids.… The custom of thus ornamenting the eyes prevailed among both sexes in Egypt in very ancient times: this is shewn by the sculptures and paintings in the temples and tombs of this country, and kohl-vessels with the probes and even with remains of the black powder have often been found in the ancient tombs” (Lane’s Modern Egyptians, 1. pp. 45, 46). For the custom cp. 2 Kings 9:30; Ezekiel 23:40; also Job 42:14 (Kerenhappuch = horn of eye paint).

thy lovers] those whose political alliance thou hast cultivated. This term, hardly applicable to the Scythians, is an example of the modifications of phrase which Jeremiah would introduce when the Babylonians, whose friendship had formerly been sought, had become the foes to be dreaded. See Intr. iv. § 3 (end).Verse 30. - And when thou art spoiled, etc. It is Jerusalem who is addressed - Jerusalem, personified as a woman, who decks herself out finely to please her admirers. All these arts are in vain, for a violent repulsion has converted her lovers into her deadly enemies. And when Jerusalem is "spoiled," or taken by storm, what device will there be left to attempt? The "lovers" are the foreign powers to whom the Jews paid court (Jeremiah 2:18, 36, 87). Though thou rentest thy face, etc; alluding to the custom of Eastern women, who try to make their eyes seem larger by putting powdered antimony (the Arabic kohl) upon their eyelids. So, for instance, did Jezebel (see 2 Kings 11:30); and one of Job's daughters received the name Keren-happuch, "box of antimony," i.e. one who sets off the company in which she is, as antimony does the eye. An old author, Dr. Shaw, writes thus: "None of these ladies take themselves to be completely dressed till they have tinged the hair and edges of their eyelids with the powder of lead ore. And as this operation is performed by dipping first into this powder a small wooden bodkin of the thickness of a quill, and then drawing it afterwards through the eyelids over the ball of the eye, we have a lively image of what the prophet (Jeremiah 4:30) may be supposed to mean" (Shaw, 'Travels in Barbary and the Levant,' 2nd edit., p. 229). One destruction after another is heralded (on שׁבר, see 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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