Jeremiah 4:30
And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.
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(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.

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). Jeremiah 4:30In vain will Jerusalem attempt to turn away calamity by the wiles of a courtesan. In Jeremiah 4:31 the daughter of Zion is addressed, i.e., the community dwelling around the citadel of Zion, or the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom, regarded as a female personality (as to בּת־ציּון, see on Isaiah 1:8). "Spoiled one" is in apposition not to the אתּי, but to the person in the verb; it is regarded as adverbial, and so is without inflexion: if thou art spoiled, like ערום, Job 24:7, Job 24:10; cf. Ew. 316, b. The following clauses introduced by כּי are not so connected with the question, what wilt thou do? as that כּי should mean that: what wilt thou do, devise to the end that thou mayest clothe thee? (Graf); the כּי means if or though, and introduces new clauses, the apodosis of which is: "in vain," etc. If thou even clothest thyself in purple. שׁני, the crimson dye, and stuffs or fabrics dyed with it, see in Exodus 25:4. פּוּך is a pigment for the eye, prepared from silver-glance, sulphur-antimony - the Cohol, yet much esteemed by Arab women, a black powder with a metallic glitter. It is applied to the eyelids, either dry or reduced to a paste by means of oil, by means of a blunt-pointed style or eye-pencil, and increases the lustre of dark eyes so that they seem larger and more brilliant. See the more minute account in Hillel, on the eye-paint of the East, in ref. to 2 Kings 9:30. קרע, tear asunder, not, prick, puncture, as Ew., following J. D. Mich., makes it. This does not answer the mode of using the eye-paint, which was this: the style rubbed over with the black powder is drawn horizontally through between the closed eyelids, and these are thus smeared with the ointment. This proceeding Jeremiah sarcastically terms rending open the eyes. As a wife seeks by means of paint and finery to heighten the charms of her beauty in order to please men and gain the favour of lovers, so the woman Jerusalem will attempt by like stratagems to secure the favour of the enemy; but in vain like Jezebel in 2 Kings 9:30. The lovers will despise her. The enemies are called lovers, paramours, just as Israel's quest for help amongst the heathen nations is represented as intrigue with them; see on Jeremiah 2:33, Jeremiah 2:36.
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