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). Jeremiah 47:3"Thus saith Jahveh: Behold, waters shall rise up out of the north, and shall become an inundating stream, and they shall inundate the land and its fulness, cities and those who dwell in them; and men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl. Jeremiah 47:3. Because of the sound of the trampling of the hoofs of his strong horses, because of the din of his chariots, the noise of his wheels, fathers to not look back to their children from weakness of hands; Jeremiah 47:4. Because of the day that cometh to destroy all the Philistines, to cut off from Tyre and Zidon every one remaining as a helper; for Jahveh destroyeth the Philistines, the remnant of the coast of Caphtor. Jeremiah 47:5. Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is destroyed, the rest of their plain. How long wilt thou cut thyself? Jeremiah 47:6. O sword of Jahveh, how long wilt thou not rest? Draw thyself back into thy sheath; rest, and be still. Jeremiah 47:7. How canst thou be quiet, when Jahveh hath commanded thee? Against Ashkelon and against the sea-coast, there hath He appointed it."

The address opens with a figure. The hostile army that is to devastate Philistia is represented as a stream of water, breaking forth from the north, and swelling to an overflowing winter-torrent, that inundates the country ad cities with their inhabitants. The figure is often used: cf. Jeremiah 46:7-8, where the Egyptian host is compared to the waves of the Nile; and Isaiah 8:7, where the Assyrian army is likened to the floods of the Euphrates. The simile is applied here in another way. The figure is taken from a strong spring of water, coming forth in streams out of the ground, in the north, and swelling to an overflowing winter-torrent, that pours out its floods over Philistia, laying it waste. "From the north" is used here as in Jeremiah 46:20, and points back to Jeremiah 1:13-14. "An inundating stream" is here employed as in Isaiah 30:20; "earth and its fulness, a city and those who dwell in it," as in Isaiah 8:16. In Jeremiah 47:3 follows the application of the figure. It is a martial host that overflows the land, and with its mighty noise puts the inhabitants in such terror that they think only of a hasty flight; even fathers do not turn back to save their children. שׁעטהἅπ. λεγ., Syriac se‛aṭ, incedere, gradi, hence probably the stamping of hoofs. אבּירים, strong horses, as in Jeremiah 8:16. לרכבּו, instead of the construct state, has perhaps been chosen only for the sake of introducing a variation; cf. Ewald, 290, a. הפנה, to turn the back, as in Jeremiah 46:5. "Slackness of hands," i.e., utter loss of courage through terror; cf. Jeremiah 6:24 (the form רפיון only occurs here). In Jeremiah 47:4 the deeper source of fear is mentioned; "because of the day," i.e., because the day has come to destroy all the Philistines, namely, the day of the judgment determined by the Lord; cf. Jeremiah 46:10. "In order to destroy every remnant helping Tyre and Zidon." שׂריד עזר are the Philistines, who could afford help to the Phoenicians in the struggle against the Chaldean power. This implies that the Phoenicians also shall perish without any one to help them. This indirect mention of the Phoenicians appears striking, but it is to be explained partly on the ground that Jeremiah has uttered special prophecies only against the chief enemies of Judah, and partly also perhaps from the historical relations, i.e., from the fact that the Philistines might have afforded help to the Phoenicians in the struggles against the great powers of the world. Hitzig unnecessarily seeks to take לצר וּלצידון as the object, and to expunge כּל־שׂריד עזר as a gloss. The objections which he raises against the construction are groundless, as is shown by such passages as Jeremiah 44:7; Isaiah 14:22; 1 Kings 14:10, etc. "The remaining helper" is the expression used, because the other nations that could help the Egyptians, viz., the Syrians and Phoenicians, had already succumbed to the Chaldean power. The destruction will be so great as this, because it is Jahveh who destroys the Philistines, the remnant of the coast of Caphtor. According to Amos 9:7; Deuteronomy 2:23, the Philistines came from Caphtor; hence שׁארית אי can only mean "what still remains of the people of Philistia who come from the coat of Caphtor," like "the remnant of the Philistines" in Amos 1:8. Opinions are divided as to Caphtor. The prevailing view is that of Lakemacher, that Caphtor is the name of the island of Crete; but for this there are no tenable grounds: see on Zephaniah 2:5; and Delitzsch on Genesis, S. 248, Aufl. 4. Dietrich (in Merx' Archiv. i. S. 313ff.) and Ebers (Aegypten u. die Bcher Moses, i. S. 130ff.) agree in thinking that Caphtor is the shore of the Delta, but they explain the name differently. Dietrich derives it from the Egyptian Kah-pet-Hôr (district of Hor), which he takes to be the environs of the city of Buto, and the lake called after it (the modern Burlos), not far from the Sebennytic mouth of the Nile; Ebers, following the tablet of Canopus, in which the Egyptian name Kfa (Kaf) is given as that of Phoenicia, derives the name from Kaf-t-ur, i.e., the great Kefa, as the ancient seat of the Phoenicians on the shore of the Delta must have been called. But both explanations are still very doubtful, though there is no question about the migration of the Philistines from Egypt into Canaan.

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