Jeremiah 41:5
That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD.
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(5) There came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria.—The LXX. gives Salem instead of Shiloh, and this agrees better with the order of the names, Salem being a tower or fortress near Shechem (Genesis 33:18), while Shiloh lay further off. The eighty travellers were coming apparently on a pilgrimage of mourning to the ruins of the Temple, perhaps to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in the hope of finding at least an altar there on which they might present their oblations. Mizpah lay directly on their road from all three places. It is significant that they bring with them not burnt offerings but the mincha, or meat offering, the cakes of flour with incense. The outward signs of mourning were, perhaps, connected either with the approaching Day of Atonement, which fell in the seventh month; or with some special fast day belonging to the same season (Zechariah 7:5); or in token of their sorrow for the destruction of the Temple. In the signs themselves we note a relapse into a half-heathen custom which the Law had forbidden (Leviticus 19:27; Deuteronomy 14:1; Jeremiah 48:37).

Jeremiah 41:5. There came fourscore men, having their beards shaven, &c. — “These were tokens of great mourning, by which these persons expressed their grief for the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Such expressions of sorrow were forbidden to be used at funeral obsequies, Leviticus 19:27-28; but might be lawfully used upon other mournful occasions. With offerings and incense to bring them to the house of the Lord — Some understand this as if devout persons brought their oblations to the place where the altar formerly stood, which they looked upon as consecrated ground; a custom, they think, countenanced by the words of Baruch, chap. Jeremiah 1:10, where the exiles at Babylon are supposed to send money to buy offerings for the altar of the Lord, after that Jerusalem was taken and burned. Others by the house of the Lord understand an altar or place of worship erected by Gedaliah at Mizpah; in imitation of that which was formerly set up there by Samuel, which place continued to be a proseucha, or place of worship, in after times, as appears from 1Ma 3:46. There were many such sanctuaries or places of worship, both in Judea and elsewhere, among the Jewish dispersions.” — Lowth.41:1-10 Those who hate the worshippers of God, often put on the appearance of piety, that they may the easier hurt them. As death often meets men where they least expect it, we should continually search whether we are in such a state and frame of mind, as we would wish to be found in when called to appear before our Judge. Sometimes the ransom of a man's life is his riches. But those who think to bribe death, saying, Slay us not, for we have treasures in the field, will find themselves wretchedly deceived. This melancholy history warns us, never to be secure in this world. We never can be sure of peace on this side heaven.These three towns all lay in the tribe of Ephraim, and in the district planted by Salmaneser with Cuthites; but through the fact of these men having cut themselves (see Jeremiah 16:6 note), is suspicious, yet they were probably pious Israelites, going up to Jerusalem, carrying the meat offering usual at the feast of tabernacles, of which this was the season, and mourning over the destruction, not of the city, but of the temple, to the repairs of which we find the members of this tribe contributing in Josiah's time 2 Chronicles 34:9. 5. beards shaven, &c.—indicating their deep sorrow at the destruction of the temple and city.

cut themselves—a heathen custom, forbidden (Le 19:27, 28; De 14:1). These men were mostly from Samaria, where the ten tribes, previous to their deportation, had fallen into heathen practices.

offerings—unbloody. They do not bring sacrificial victims, but "incense," &c., to testify their piety.

house of … Lord—that is, the place where the house of the Lord had stood (2Ki 25:9). The place in which a temple had stood, even when it had been destroyed, was held sacred [Papinian]. Those "from Shiloh" would naturally seek the house of the Lord, since it was at Shiloh it originally was set up (Jos 18:1).

Samaria was the name both of a city and a province; Shechem was a city within that province, within the limits of the tribe of Ephraim, Joshua 20:7. These places were now inhabited by a mixed people, partly Jews, partly such as the king of Assyria had upon his conquest of the ten tribes brought to inhabit there. From thence came eighty men, who possibly had not heard of the temple being burnt, at least when they came out; or if they had heard of it, yet thought, hearing some Jews were left, that they might have erected some altar for sacrifices; or it may be they brought no beasts, for the text speaks only of incense and offerings; they came with all indications of mourning used in those countries, shaven beards, clothes rent, and having cut themselves in a barbarous fashion used by the heathens, and forbidden the Jews, but yet practised by many of them. That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria,.... Places in the ten tribes, and which belonged to the kingdom of Israel; so that it seems even at this distance of time, though the body of the ten tribes had been many years ago carried captive, yet there were still some religious persons sons remaining, and who had a great regard to the temple worship at Jerusalem:

even fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves; as mourners for the destruction of Jerusalem, and the captivity of the people. The two first of these rites, shaving the beard, and rending of clothes, were agreeably to the law; but that of cutting themselves, their flesh with their nails, or knives, was forbidden by it, Leviticus 19:28; so that these people seemed to have retained some of the Heathenish customs of the places where they lived; for the king of Assyria had placed colonies of Heathens in Samaria, and the cities of it, 2 Kings 17:24; these came

with offerings and incense in their hands: a meat offering made of fine flour, as the word signifies; and incense, or frankincense, which used to be put upon such an offering, Leviticus 2:1;

to bring them to the house of the Lord; but the temple was now destroyed; wherefore either they thought there was a tabernacle or sanctuary erected at Mizpah for divine service and sacrifice; or they intended to offer these offerings on the spot where the temple of Jerusalem stood; and where they hoped to find an altar, if only of earth, and priests to sacrifice; though the Jewish commentators, Jarchi and Kimchi, observe, that when they first set out, they had not heard of the destruction of the temple, but heard of it in the way; and therefore came in a mourning habit; but before knew nothing of it; and therefore brought offerings with them, according to the former; but, according to the latter, they had heard before they set out of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the captivity of the people; but not of the burning of the temple, until they were on their journey.

That there came men from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even eighty men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes torn, and having cut themselves, with {d} offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD.

(d) For they thought that the temple had not been destroyed and therefore came up to the feast of tabernacles but hearing of the burning of it in the way, they showed these signs of sorrow.

5. from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria] These three towns were in Ephraim, and thus the pilgrims were descendants of members of the Northern kingdom. Cp. the contributions given by Manassites, etc., in Josiah’s time for the repairs of the Temple (2 Chronicles 34:9). Shechem, now Nâblus, is beautifully situated in a valley between the mountains Gerizim and Ebal. For Shiloh see on ch. Jeremiah 7:12.

having their beards shaven and their clothes rent] in sign of mourning for the destruction of the Temple.

having cut themselves] though prohibited by the Deuteronomic law. See on ch. Jeremiah 16:6.

oblations] For reading in mg. see on Jeremiah 17:26. Animal sacrifices could no longer be offered at the ruined Temple (Deuteronomy 12:13-18), but it was still open to them to bring other offerings to the site, and this they were about to do.Verse 5. - There came certain from Shechem, etc. A number of pious pilgrims, descend. ants of the old ten tribes, passed by on their way to the holy site of the temple at Jerusalem (?) (comp. 2 Chronicles 34:9; 2 Chronicles 30:11). From Shiloh. The Vatican Codex of the Septuagint has a plausible reading, "from Salem," which is apparently supported by Genesis 33:18, "And Jacob cares to Shalem, a city of Shechem," and by its improvement thus introduced into the geographical order (Shiloh is, in fact, nearer to Mizpah than Shechem, and ought to be mentioned first). But though there is now a village called Salim, to the east of Nablus (Shechem), we have no sufficient ground for assuming a city of that name in the Old Testament, The rendering of Genesis, i.e. needs correction ("came in peace to the city," etc.) Their beards shaven, etc. They had, then, all the outward signs of mourning (for the public calamities); comp, Jeremiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:37. To bring them to the house of the Lord. Yet the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed. Hence Thenius and Gratz have conjectured that Gedaliah had erected a provisional temple at Mizpah, which was already hallowed by its association with the Prophet Samuel. This is confirmed by 1 Macc. 3:46, where it is said of the pious Jews in the Maccabean rising, that they "assembled themselves... and came to Maspha, over against Jerusalem; for in Maspha was the place where they prayed aforetime in Israel." Gedaliah is forewarned of Ishmael's intention to murder him. - After the return of those who had taken refuge in Moab, etc., Johanan the son of Kareah, together with the rest of the captains who were scattered here and there through the country, came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, to say to him: "Dost thou know indeed that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take thy life?" The words "that were in the country" are neither a gloss, nor a thoughtless repetition by some scribe from Jeremiah 40:7 (as Hitzig and Graf suppose), but they are repeated for the purpose of distinguishing plainly between the captains with their men from the Jews who had returned out of Moab, Ammon, and Edom. הכּות, "to strike the soul, life" equals to kill; cf. Genesis 37:21; Deuteronomy 19:6. What induced the king of Ammon to think of assassination - whether it was personal hostility towards Gedaliah, or the hope of destroying the only remaining support of the Jews, and thereby perhaps putting himself in possession of the country, - cannot be determined. That he employed Ishmael for the accomplishment of his purpose, may have been owing to the fact that this man had a personal envy of Gedaliah; for Ishmael, being sprung from the royal family (Jeremiah 40:1), probably could not endure being subordinate to Gedaliah. - The plot had become known, and Gedaliah was secretly informed of it by Johanan; but the former did not believe the rumour. Johanan then secretly offered to slay Ishmael, taking care that no one should know who did it, and urged compliance in the following terms: "Why should he slay thee, and all the Jews who have gathered themselves round thee be scattered, and the remnant of Judah perish?" Johanan thus called his attention to the evil consequences which would result to the remnant left in the land were he killed; but Gedaliah replied, "Do not this thing, for thou speakest a lie against Ishmael." The Qeri needlessly changes אל־תּעשׂ into אל־תּעשׂה; cf. Jeremiah 39:12.
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