Jeremiah 4:7
The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.
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(7) The lion is come up . . .—The “lion” is, of course, the Chaldæan invader, the destroyer, not of men only, but of nations. So in Daniel 7:4 the lion is the symbol of the Assyrian monarchy. The winged lions that are seen in the palaces of Mosul and Nimroud gave a special character to what was in any case a natural metaphor. The word “Gentiles” answers to the meaning, but there is no special reason why it should be used here, rather than nations.

Is on his way.—Literally, has broken up his encampment, i.e., has started on his march.

Without an inhabitant.—The language, like that of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:11), was probably in some measure hyperbolical, but the depopulation caused by the Chaldæan invasion (as seen in Jeremiah 39:9) must have been extreme.

Jeremiah 4:7-8. The lion is come up from his thicket — Nebuchadnezzar, so called from his fierceness and strength, shall come up from Babylon, where his chief seat is, as lions are principally among the thickets of the forests, in coverts. Babylon being remote and little known to the Jews, they did not expect trouble to arise from thence. The destroyer of the Gentiles — Or, rather, the nations; is on his way — Is already on his march: another description of the same person, who is so called, because God had given, not only Judea, but all the neighbouring countries, into his hands. To make thy lands desolate — With a resolution to do so, and with power to effect his purpose. For this gird you with sackcloth — Put on the habit of mourners. It is intended to express the dreadfulness of the approaching calamity. Lament and howl — You will do so when the cry is made through the kingdom, Arm, arm. Then all will be seized with terror, and put to confusion. For the fierce anger of the Lord — Which makes the army of the Chaldeans thus fierce and powerful; is not turned back from us — Is not appeased, but still burns against us. The LXX., with whom the Syriac and Vulgate agree, read αφυμων, from you.

4:5-18 The fierce conqueror of the neighbouring nations was to make Judah desolate. The prophet was afflicted to see the people lulled into security by false prophets. The approach of the enemy is described. Some attention was paid in Jerusalem to outward reformation; but it was necessary that their hearts should be washed, in the exercise of true repentance and faith, from the love and pollution of sin. When lesser calamities do not rouse sinners and reform nations, sentence will be given against them. The Lord's voice declares that misery is approaching, especially against wicked professors of the gospel; when it overtakes them, it will be plainly seen that the fruit of wickedness is bitter, and the end is fatal.Rather, A "lion"... a "destroyer" of nations: a metaphor descriptive of the impending calamity. A lion is just rousing himself from his lair, but no common one. It is destroyer, not of men, but of nations.

Is on his way - literally, "has broken up his encampment." Jeremiah uses a military term strictly referring to the striking of tents in preparation for the march.

Without an inhabitant - The final stage of destruction, actually reached in the utter depopulation of Judaea consequent upon Gedaliah's murder.

7. lion—Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans (Jer 2:15; 5:6; Da 7:14).

his thicket—lair; Babylon.

destroyer of the Gentiles—rather, "the nations" (Jer 25:9).

The lion is come up from his thicket, i.e. Nebuchadnezzar, called here a lion from his fierceness and strength, Proverbs 30:30; a metaphor; especially in this expedition; see Isaiah 5:27-29 shall come up from Babylon, where his chief seat is, Daniel 4:30; as lions are principally among the thickets of the forest, in coverts; this place being so remote and hid from them, that they least expected trouble to arise from thence.

The destroyer of the Gentiles; another description of the same person, of whose destroying armies the nations have had woeful experience, Isaiah 14:16,17, called the hammer of the whole earth, Jeremiah 50:23: q.d. And how shall you think to escape him?

Is on his way, i.e. as it is expressed in the next clause, he is gone forth from his place, he is already upon his march.

To make thy land desolate, i.e. with a resolution so to do.

Shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant, i.e. as places uninhabited soon lie waste, and are overgrown with grass, as the notation of the word seems to import.

The lion is come up from his thicket,.... Meaning Nebuchadnezzar (s), from Babylon, who is compared to a lion for his strength, fierceness, and cruelty; see Jeremiah 50:17 so the Roman emperor is called a lion, 2 Timothy 4:17, agreeably to this the Targum paraphrases it,

"a king is gone from his fortress;''

or tower; and the Syriac version,

"a certain most powerful king is about to go up as a lion out of his wood:''

and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he who had conquered and destroyed other nations not a few, and these mighty and strong; and therefore the Jews could not expect but to be destroyed by him. This tyrant was a type of antichrist, whose name is Apollyon, a destroyer of the nations of the earth, Revelation 9:11.

he is gone forth from his place, to make thy land desolate; from Babylon, where his royal palace was, in order to lay waste the land of Judea; and he is represented as being come out, and on the road with this view, to strike the inhabitants of Judea with the greater terror, and to hasten their flight, their destruction being determined and certain:

and thy cities shall be laid waste without an inhabitant; they shall become so utterly desolate, that there should be none dwelling in them, partly by reason of the multitudes of the slain, and partly by reason of multitudes that should flee; and should be laid waste to such a degree, that they should be covered with grass growing upon them; which is the signification of the word (t) here used, according to R. Joseph Kimchi.

(s) So T. Bab. Megilia, fol. 11. 1. & Sanhedrin. fol 94. 2.((t) "gramine succrescente obducantur quidam" in Gataker.

The {f} lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.

(f) Meaning Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, 2Ki 24:1.

7. A lion] See introd. note above.

thy land] We should perhaps read the land, and consider the rest of the v. as an insertion suggested by the parallels in Jeremiah 2:15, Jeremiah 9:11.

Du. proposes, but on insufficient grounds (viz. the use of the expression “at that day,” as though implying vagueness as to time, and a change in the character of the metre), to omit Jeremiah 4:9-11 a (… Jerusalem).

Verse 7. - The lion; the symbol of irresistible might and royalty (Genesis 49:7; Revelation 5:5). Of the Gentiles; rather, of the nations. There is no reference to the distinction between Jews and Gentiles; the Jews themselves are not allowed to escape. An ordinary lion attacks individual men; this lion destroys nations. Is on his way; literally, has broken up his encampment - a phrase perhaps suggested by the nomad Scythiaus. Jeremiah 4:7From the north destruction approaches. - Jeremiah 4:5. "Proclaim in Judah, and in Jerusalem let it be heard, and say, Blow the trumpet in the land; cry with a loud voice, and say, Assemble, and let us go into the defenced cities. Jeremiah 4:6. Raise a standard toward Zion: save yourselves by flight, linger not; for from the north I bring evil and great destruction. Jeremiah 4:7. A lion comes up from his thicket, and a destroyer of the nations is on his way, comes forth from his place, to make they land a waste, that thy cities be destroyed, without an inhabitant. Jeremiah 4:8. For this gird you in sackcloth, lament and howl, for the heat of Jahveh's anger hath not turned itself from us. Jeremiah 4:9. And it cometh to pass on that day, saith Jahveh, the heart of the king and the heart of the princes shall perish, and the priests shall be confounded and the prophets amazed." The invasion of a formidable foe is here represented with poetic animation; the inhabitants being called upon to publish the enemy's approach throughout the land, so that every one may hide himself in the fortified cities.

(Note: By this dreaded foe the older commentators understand the Chaldeans; but some of the moderns will have it that the Scythians are meant. Among the latter are Dahler, Hitz., Ew., Bertheau (z. Gesch. der Isr.), Movers, and others; and they have been preceded by Eichhorn (Hebr. Proph. ii. 96 f), Cramer (in the Comm. on Zephaniah, under the title Scythische Denkmler in Palstina, 1777). On the basis of their hypothesis, M. Duncker (Gesch. des Alterth. S. 751ff.) has sketched out a minute picture of the inundation of Palestine by hordes of Scythian horsemen in the year 626, according to the prophecies of Jeremiah and Zephaniah. For this there is absolutely no historical support, although Roesch in his archaeological investigations on Nabopolassar (Deutsch-morgld. Ztschr. xv. S. 502ff.), who, according to him, was a Scythian king, alleges that "pretty nearly all (?) exegetical authorities" understand these prophecies of the Scythians (S. 536). For this view can be neither justified exegetically nor made good historically, as has been admitted and proved by A. Kueper (Jerem. libr. ss. int. p. 13f.), and Ad. Strauss (Vaticin. Zeph. p. 18f.), and then by Tholuck (die Propheten u. ihre Weiss, S. 94ff.), Graf (Jer. S. 16ff.), Ng., and others. On exegetical grounds the theory is untenable; for in the descriptions of the northern foe, whose invasion of Judah Zephaniah and Jeremiah threaten, there is not the faintest hint that can be taken to point to the Scythian squadrons, and, on the contrary, there is much that cannot be suitable to these wandering hordes. The enemies approaching like clouds, their chariots like the whirlwind, with horses swifter than eagles (Jeremiah 4:13), every city fleeing from the noise of the horsemen and of the bowmen (Jeremiah 4:29), and the like, go to form a description obviously founded on Deuteronomy 28:49., and on the account of the Chaldeans ( כּשׂדּים) in Habakkuk 1:7-11 - a fact which leads Roesch to suppose Habakkuk meant Scythian by כּשׂדּים. All the Asiatic world-powers had horsemen, war-chariots, and archers, and we do not know that the Scythians fought on chariots. Nor was it at all according to the plan of Scythian hordes to besiege cities and carry the vanquished people into exile, as Jeremiah prophesies of these enemies. Again, in Jeremiah 25, where he expressly names Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babel as the fulfiller of judgment foretold, Jeremiah mentions the enemy in the same words as in Jeremiah 1:15, ּכל־משׁפּחות צפון (Jeremiah 25:9), and represents the accomplishment of judgment by Nebuchadnezzar as the fulfilment of all the words he had been prophesying since the 13th year of Josiah. This makes it as clear as possible that Jeremiah regarded the Chaldeans as the families of the peoples of the north who were to lay Judah waste, conquer Jerusalem, and scatter its inhabitants amongst the heathen. In a historical reference, also, the Scythian theory is quite unfounded. The account in Herod. i.-103-105 of the incursion of the Scythians into Media and of dominion exercised over Asia for 28 years by them, does say that they came to Syrian Palestine and advanced on Egypt, but by means of presents were induced by King Psammetichus to withdraw, that they marched back again without committing any violence, and that only ὀλίγοι τινὲς αὐτῶν plundered the temple of Venus Urania at Ascalon on the way back. But these accounts, taken at their strict historical value, tell us nothing more than that one swarm of the Scythian hordes, which overspread Media and Asia Minor, entered Palestine and penetrated to the borders of Egypt, passing by the ancient track of armies across the Jordan at Bethshan, and through the plain of Jezreel along the Philistine coast; that here they were bought off by Psammetichus and retired without even so much as touching on the kingdom of Judah on their way. The historical books of the Old Testament have no knowledge whatever of any incursion into Judah of Scythians or other northern nations during the reign of Josiah. On the other hand, we give no weight to the argument that the march of the Scythians through Syria against Egypt had taken place in the 7th or 8th year of Josiah, a few years before Jeremiah's public appearance, and so could be no subject for his prophecies (Thol., Graf, Ng.). For the chronological data of the ancients as to the Scythian invasion are not so definite that we can draw confident conclusions from them; cf. M. v. Niebuhr, Ges. Assurs u. Babels, S. 67ff.

All historical evidence for a Scythian inroad into Judah being thus entirely wanting, the supporters of this hypothesis can make nothing of any point save the Greek name Scythopolis for Bethshan, which Dunck. calls "a memorial for Judah of the Scythian raid." We find the name in Judges 1:27 of the lxx, Βαιθσάν ἥ ἐστι Σκυθῶν πόλις, and from this come the Σκυθόπολις of Judith 3:10, 2 Macc. 12:29, and in Joseph. Antt. v. 1. 22, xii. 8. 5, etc. Even if we do not hold, as Reland, Pal. ill. p. 992, does, that the gloss, ἥ ἐστι Σκυθῶν πόλις, Judges 1:27, has been interpolated late into the lxx; even if we admit that it originated with the translator, the fact that the author of the lxx, who lived 300 years after Josiah, interpreted Σκυθόπολις by Σκυθῶν πόλις, does by no means prove that the city had received this Greek name from a Scythian invasion of Palestine, or from a colony of those Scythians who had settled down there. The Greek derivation of the name shows that it could not have originated before the extension of Greek supremacy in Palestine - not before Alexander the Great. But there is no historical proof that Scythians dwelt in Bethshan. Duncker e.g., makes the inference simply from the name Σκυθῶν πόλις and Σκυθοπολίται, 2 Macc. 12:29f. His statement: "Josephus (Antt. xii. 5. 8) and Pliny (Hist. n. v. 16) affirm that Scythians had settled down there," is wholly unfounded. In Joseph. l.c. there is no word of it; nor will a critical historian accept as sufficient historical evidence of an ancient Scythian settlement in Bethshan, Pliny's l.c. aphoristic notice: Scythopolin (antea Nysam a Libero Patre, spulta nutrice ibi) Scythis deducts. The late Byzantine author, George Syncellus, is the first to derive the name Scythopolis from the incursion of the Scythians into Palestine; cf. Reland, p. 993. The origin of the name is obscure, but is not likely to be found, as by Reland, Gesen., etc., in the neighbouring Succoth. More probably it comes from a Jewish interpretation of the prophecy of Ezekiel, Ezekiel 39:11, regarding the overthrow of Gog in the valley of the wanderers eastwards from the sea. This is Hvernick's view, suggested by Bochart.

Taking all into consideration, we see that the reference of our prophecy to the Scythians is founded neither on exegetical results nor on historical evidence, but wholly on the rationalistic prejudice that the prophecies of the biblical prophets are nothing more than either disguised descriptions of historical events or threatenings of results that lay immediately before the prophet's eyes, which is the view of Hitz., Ew., and others.)

The ו before תּקעוּ in the Chet. has evidently got into the text through an error in transcription, and the Keri, according to which all the old versions translate, is the only correct reading. "Blow the trumpet in the land," is that which is to be proclaimed or published, and the blast into the far-sounding שׁופר is the signal of alarm by which the people was made aware of the danger that threatened it; cf. Joel 2:1; Hosea 5:8. The second clause expresses the same matter in an intensified form and with plainer words. Cry, make full (the crying), i.e., cry with a full clear voice; gather, and let us go into the fortified cities; cf. Jeremiah 8:14. This was the meaning of the trumpet blast. Raise a banner pointing towards Zion, i.e., showing the fugitives the way to Zion as the safest stronghold in the kingdom. נס, a lofty pole with a waving flag (Isaiah 33:23; Ezekiel 27:7), erected upon mountains, spread the alarm farther than even the sound of the pealing trumpet; see in Isaiah 5:26. העיזוּ, secure your possessions by flight; cf. Isaiah 10:31. The evil which Jahveh is bringing on the land is specified by שׁבר גּדול, after Zephaniah 1:10, but very frequently used by Jeremiah; cf. Jeremiah 6:1; Jeremiah 48:3; Jeremiah 50:22; Jeremiah 51:54. שׁבר, breaking (of a limb), Leviticus 21:19, then the upbreaking of what exists, ruin, destruction. In Jeremiah 4:7 the evil is yet more fully described. A lion is come up from his thicket (סבּכו with dag. forte dirim., from שׂובך[ סבך, 2 Samuel 18:9], or from סבך, Psalm 74:5; cf. Ew. 255, d, and Olsh. 155, b), going forth for prey. This lion is a destroyer of the nations (not merely of individual persons as the ordinary lion); he has started (נסע, or striking tents for the march), and is come out to waste the land and to destroy the cities. The infin. is continued by the temp. fin. תּצּינה, and the Kal of נצה is here used in a passive sense: to be destroyed by war.

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