Jeremiah 47:3
At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands;
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(3) The fathers shall not look back to their children.—The selfishness of panic was to reach its highest point, and to crush out the instincts of natural affection. Even fathers would be content to save themselves, regardless of their children’s lives.

47:1-7 The calamities of the Philistines. - The Philistines had always been enemies to Israel; but the Chaldean army shall overflow their land like a deluge. Those whom God will spoil, must be spoiled. For when the Lord intends to destroy the wicked, he will cut off every helper. So deplorable are the desolations of war, that the blessings of peace are most desirable. But we must submit to His appointments who ordains all in perfect wisdom and justice.His strong horses - War-horses, chargers.

The rushing of his chariots - Rather, the rattling, the crashing noise which they make as they advance.

For feebleness of hands - The Philistines flee in such panic that a father would not even turn round to see whether his sons were effecting their escape or not.

3. (Compare Jer 4:29).

fathers … not look back to … children—Each shall think only of his own safety, not even the fathers regarding their own children. So desperate shall be the calamity that men shall divest themselves of the natural affections.

for feebleness of hands—The hands, the principal instruments of action, shall have lost all power; their whole hope shall be in their feet.

This is all but a description of the march of an army, so terrible as should make parents forget their natural affection, and flee away to save themselves, looking upon themselves as lost, and unable to protect their children. At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses,.... The noise of the cavalry of Nebuchadnezzar's army, as they came marching on towards the country of the Philistines; who, being mounted on strong prancing horses, made a great noise as they came along, and were heard at a distance:

at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling, of his wheels; the rattling and clatter the chariot wheels made; in which rode the chief officers and generals, with other mighty men: chariots were much used in war in those times:

the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands; they should be so frightened at the approach of the enemy, and flee with much precipitancy to provide for their own safety, that they should not think of their children, or stay to deliver and save them, the most near and dear unto them; being so terrified as not to be able to lift up their hands to defend themselves, and protect their children. The Targum is,

"the fathers shall not look back to have mercy on their children;''

in their fright should forget their natural affection to them, and not so much as look back with an eye of pity and compassion on them; so intent upon their own deliverance and safety.

At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, {c} the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of {d} hands;

(c) The great fear will take away their natural affection.

(d) Their heart will so fail them.

3. At the noise … wheels] Gi. omits all three clauses, Co. the middle one; both objecting on metrical grounds.

strong ones] See on Jeremiah 8:16.Verse 3. - A fine specimen of Hebrew word painting. The rushing of his chariots. "Rushing" has the sense of the German rauschen, to make a rustling, murmuring sound. It is used (but as the equivalent of a different Hebrew word) in the Authorized Version of Isaiah 18:12, 13 of the confused sound made by an army in motion. In the present passage, the Hebrew word means something more definite than that in Isaiah, l.c.; it is the "crashing" of an earthquake, or (as here) the "rattling" of chariots. The rumbling of his wheels. "Rumbling" is a happy equivalent. The Hebrew (hamon) is the word referred to in the preceding note as meaning an indefinite confused sound. The fathers shall not look back to their children, etc. An awful picture, and still more effective in the concise language of the original. The Hebrew Scriptures excel (as still more strikingly, but with too great a want of moderation, does the Koran) in the sublime of terror. So overpowering shall the panic be that fathers will not even turn an eye to their helpless children. Observe, it is said "the fathers," not "the mothers." The picture is poetically finer than that in Deuteronomy 28:56, 57, because the shade of colouring is a degree softer. Feebleness of hands. A common expression for the enervation produced by extreme terror (see Jeremiah 6:24; Isaiah 13:7; Ezekiel 7:17; Nahum 2:11). In Jeremiah 46:24. the result of the overthrow of Egypt, which has hitherto been set forth in figurative language, is stated in words which describe the exact realities: Egypt will be given up to ignominy, delivered into the power of a people from the north, i.e., the Chaldeans. The Lord of hosts, the Almighty God of Israel, punishes it for its sins. He visits, i.e., punishes, Amon of No, the chief idol of Egypt; Pharaoh, and the land, with all its gods and its kings, and with Pharaoh, all those who place their trust in his power. Words are accumulated for the purpose of showing that the judgment will be one which shall befall the whole land, together with its gods, its rulers, and its inhabitants. First of all is mentioned Amon of No, as in Ezekiel 30:14. נא is an abbreviation of נא אמון , i.e., dwelling of Amon, the sacred name of the royal city in Upper Egypt, famous in antiquity, which the Greeks called Διὸς πόλις, or Θήβη, or Θῆβαι it is supposed, after the vulgar Egyptian name Tapet or Tape (Throne or Seat); see on Nahum 3:8. Amon - in Greek ̓Αμμοῦν (Herodotus, ii. 42), ̓Αμοῦν (Plutarch, de Is. Ch. 9), ̓Αμῶν (Jamblichus, de myst. 5, 8) - was a sun-god (Amon-R), probably a symbol of the sun as it appears in the spring, in the sign of the Ram; hence he was represented with rams' horns. By the Greeks he was compared to Jupiter, or Zeus, and named Jupiter Ammon. The chief seat of his worship was Thebes, where he had a temple, with a numerous learned priesthood and a famous oracle (cf. Strabo, xvii. 1. 43; Justin. xi. 11), which Cambyses destroyed (Diodorus, Siculus, Fragm. Lib. x.). Under the expression "kings of Egypt" we are not to include governors or vassal-kings, but all the kings who ever ruled Egypt; for in the judgment now falling on Egypt, all the kings it ever had, together with all its gods, are punished. In the last part of the verse the name of Pharaoh is once more given, for the purpose of attaching to it the words "and all who trust in him;" these are intended for the Jews who expected help from Egypt. The punishment consists in their being all given into the hand of their enemies, namely (ו explic.) into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and his servants. This defeat, however, is not to be the end of the Egyptian kingdom. The threat of judgment concludes, in Jeremiah 46:26, with a promise for the future. "Afterwards, it shall be inhabited, as in the days of yore." שׁכן is used in a neuter sense, as in Jeremiah 17:6; Jeremiah 33:16, etc. Since this verb also signifies to settle down, be encamped (Numbers 24:2), and to lie quiet, to rest, or keep oneself quiet, inactive (Judges 5:17; Proverbs 7:11), Hitzig and Graf, with Kimchi, give the explanation: "because the power of Egypt shall be broken, it will keep quiet, and remain at home in its own country, instead of marching forth and fighting other nations, as it has lately begun again to do (Jeremiah 46:7) after centuries of peace." But although, in support of this view, we are pointed to Ezekiel 29:13, where the restoration of Egypt is predicted, with the further remark, "it will be an abject kingdom," yet this idea is not contained in the words of our verse. To render שׁכן by "to keep quiet, be inactive," does not suit the words "as in the days of old." In former days, Egypt was neither inactive nor remained at home in peace in its own land. From the remotest antiquity, the Pharaohs made wars, and sought to enlarge their dominions by conquest. Add to this, that we must view the concluding portion of this prophecy in a manner analogous to the closing thought of the prophecies regarding Moab (Jeremiah 48:47), Ammon (Jeremiah 49:6), and Elam (Jeremiah 49:39), where the turning of the captivity in the last times is given in prospect to these nations, and "afterwards," in Jeremiah 49:6, alternates with "in the latter days" found in Jeremiah 48:47 and Jeremiah 49:39. From this it follows that, in the verse now before us also, it is not the future in general, but the last time, i.e., the Messianic future, that is pointed out; hence שׁכן does not express the peaceful condition of the land, but its being inhabited, in contrast with its depopulation in the immediate future, in consequence of its inhabitants being killed or carried away. On the fulfilment of this threatening, see p. 351ff.
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