Jeremiah 47:5
Baldness is come on Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley: how long will you cut yourself?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Baldness is come upon Gaza.—The baldness is the outward sign of extremest mourning (Jeremiah 48:37; Isaiah 15:2-3), perhaps, also, of extremest desolation (Isaiah 7:20).

Ashkelon is cut off . . .—Better, perhaps, Ashkelon is speechless. The LXX. apparently followed a different text, and gives “the remnant of the Anakim” instead of “the remnant of their valley.” Hitzig adopts this rendering, and connects it with the known fact that a remnant of the old gigantic non-Semitic race had taken refuge among the Philistines (1Samuel 17:4; 2Samuel 21:22; 1Chronicles 20:5-8) after they had been driven from Hebron (Joshua 14:12-15; Joshua 15:13-14). Others, without adopting the LXX. reading, interpret the word rendered “their valley” as meaning, as in Isaiah 33:19, those that speak an unintelligible language, barbarians (Amakim), and suppose this form to have passed in the LXX. into the more familiar form of Anakim. The English version, however, is accepted by many critics, and may refer to Ashkelon and Gaza as the “remnant,” the last resource of the valley (Emek) or low-country of the Philistines, more commonly known as the Shephelah.

How long wilt thou cut thyself?—The words point to a ritual of supplication, like that of the priests of Baal in 1Kings 18:28, as prevailing among the Philistines.

Jeremiah 47:5. Baldness is come upon Gaza; how long wilt thou cut thyself, &c. — Under great calamities, and for the loss of any near kindred, it was usual for men to express their grief by shaving their heads, and cutting their flesh. Instead of Ashkelon is cut off, &c., Blaney reads, Ashkelon is put to silence, observing, that “silence likewise is expressive of great affliction. Thus Job’s friends are said to have sat with him seven days and seven nights upon the ground without addressing a word to him, because they saw his grief was very great, Job 2:13. And so the Hebrew word here used, נדמה, is to be understood, (Isaiah 15:1,) of Moab’s being made speechless with grief and astonishment the night that its cities were spoiled: see chap. Jeremiah 48:2.” With the remnant of their valley — Instead of this interpretation, the LXX. read οι καταλοιποι Ενακιμ, the remnant of the Anakims. And this reading may be thought to derive some countenance from what is said Joshua 11:22. But we shall see reason to prefer the present reading of the text, if we consider the situation of Gaza and Ashkelon, about twelve miles distant from each other, near the sea, in a valley, of whose beauty and fertility an accurate traveller has given the following description: “We passed this day through the most pregnant and pleasant valley that ever eye beheld. On the right hand a ridge of high mountains; (whereon stands Hebron;) on the left hand the Mediterranean sea; bordered with continued hills, beset with variety of fruits. The champaign between, about twenty miles over, full of flowery hills, ascending leisurely, and not much surmounting their ranker valleys; with groves of olives, and other fruits, dispersedly adorned.” — Sandys’s Travels, book 3. p. 150. The author adds, that in his time, “this wealthy bottom (as are all the rest) was, for the most part, uninhabited, but only for a few small and contemptible villages” — a state of desolation, owing to the oppressions of a barbarous and ill-advised government. But we may easily conceive the populousness that must have prevailed there in its better days, especially if we consider the power which the Philistines once possessed, and the armies they brought into the field; although their country was scarcely forty English miles in length, and much longer than it was broad. — Blaney.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.Baldness - Extreme mourning (see Jeremiah 16:6).

Is cut off - Others render, is speechless through grief.

With the remnant of their valley - Others, O remnant of their valley, how long wilt thou cut thyself? Their valley is that of Gaza and Ashkelon, the low-lying plain, usually called the Shefelah, which formed the territory of the Philistines. The reading of the Septuagint is remarkable: "the remnant of the Anakim," which probably would mean Gath, the home of giants 1 Samuel 17:4.

Jeremiah 47:6. Or, Alas, Sword of Yahweh, how long wilt thou not rest? For the answer, see Jeremiah 47:7.

5. Baldness … cut thyself—Palestine is represented as a female who has torn off her hair and cut her flesh, the heathenish (Le 19:28) token of mourning (Jer 48:37).

their valley—the long strip of low plain occupied by the Philistines along the Mediterranean, west of the mountains of Judea. The Septuagint reads Anakim, the remains of whom were settled in those regions (Nu 13:28). Joshua dislodged them so that none were left but in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod (Jos 11:21, 22). But the parallel (Jer 47:7), "Ashkelon … the sea-shore," established English Version here, "Ashkelon … their valley."

Both

Gaza and

Ashkelon were two principal cities belonging to the Philistines taken by Judah, Judges 1:18; we read of them 1 Samuel 6:17; both Amos, Zephaniah, and Zechariah prophesied their ruin, Amos 1:8 Zephaniah 2:4,7 Zec 9:5, as well as this prophet. By

the remnant of their valley, most understand those who lived in the valleys near about Ashkelon. Concerning the last clause in this verse there is some difference, whether the words should be joined with the next verse, and read,

how long wilt thou cut thyself, O thou sword of the Lord? or as they lie in our Bibles; and then the sense is, Why will you in so desperate a case afflict yourselves, when all your mourning will do you no good. Baldness is come upon Gaza,.... The Targum is,

"vengeance is come to the inhabitants of Gaza.''

It is become like a man whose hair is fallen from his head, or is clean shaved off; its houses were demolished; its inhabitants slain, and their wealth plundered; a pillaged and depopulated place. Some understand this of shaving or tearing off the hair for grief, and mourning because of their calamities; which agrees with the latter clause of the verse:

Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley; this was one of the live cities of the Philistines; it lay north of Gaza. Herodotus (x) calls Ashkelon a city of Syria, in which was the temple of Urania Venus, destroyed by the Scythians; said to be built by Lydus Ascalus, and called so after his name (y). Of this city was Herod the king, and therefore called an Ashkelonite; it was now destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, but afterwards rebuilt and inhabited; and with it were destroyed the remainder of the cities, towns, and villages, in the valley, adjoining to that and Gaza; or Ashkelon and Gaza, now destroyed, were all that remained of the cities of the valley, and shared the same fate with them. The Targum is,

"the remnant of their strength;''

so Kimchi, who interprets it of the multitude of their wealth and power;

how long wilt thou cut thyself? their faces, arms, and other parts of their body, mourning and lamenting their sad condition; the words of the prophet signifying hereby the dreadfulness of it, and its long continuance.

(x) Clio, sive l. 1. c. 105. (y) Vid. Bochart. Phaleg l. 2. c. 12. p. 88.

{f} Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley: how long wilt {g} thou cut thyself?

(f) They who shaved their heads for sorrow and heaviness.

(g) As the heathen used in their mourning, which the Lord forbade his people to do, De 14:1.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. Baldness] in token of mourning. See on Jeremiah 16:6.

Gaza] important from its situation at the junction of the roads for caravans from Egypt and Arabia.

Ashkelon] mentioned again in Jeremiah 47:7. Co., however, proposes to substitute here Ashdod, while Rothstein thinks that the latter has fallen out through the similarity of the two words. Peake suggests that, if so, it should not precede but follow Ashkelon on account of its connexion (Joshua 11:22) with the Anakim. See next note.

the remnant of their valley] better, as LXX, the remainder of the Anakim (the old race of giants, see Numbers 13:33; Deuteronomy 2:10, and elsewhere). This avoids the unsuitable description of the country referred to as a “valley.” But with a change of one consonant Co. conjectures (for “their valley”) Ekron, and cps. Amos 1:7-8.

cut thyself] in mourning. See on Jeremiah 16:6; cp. Deuteronomy 14:1. The question is addressed to the survivors.Verses 5-7. - The prophet changes his style. In ecstasy or imagination, he sees the calamity which he has foretold already come to pass. Philistia is not, indeed, altogether annihilated; it was not the will of God to make a full end as yet with any of the nations round about. But it is reduced to extremities, and fears the worst. Verse 5. - Baldness. A sign of the deepest sorrow (comp. on Jeremiah 16:6). Ashkelon is cut off. Ruins of Ashkelon are still visible. "It is evident that the walls of the old city were built on a semicircular range of rocky hills, which ended in perpendicular cliffs of various heights on the seashore. Wherever nature failed, the weak places were strengthened by the help of earthworks or masonry. On the southern and southeastern sides, the sand has penetrated the city by means of breaches in the walls, and every day it covers the old fortifications more and more, both within and without. The ancient towns alone rise distinctly, like rocky islands, out of the sea of sand. The ruins on the north are bordered by plantations of trees. They lie in such wild confusion that one might suppose that they were thrown down by an earthquake. There is no secure landing place; the strip of sand at the foot of the western wall is covered at high tide, when the waves beat against the cliffs. Still J.G. Kinnear, in 1841, found some remains of a mole, and this discovery is confirmed by Schick [the able German architect now at Jerusalem]." Thus writes Dr. Guthe, in the Journal of the German Palestine Exploration Society (1880), remarking further that, in a few generations, the ruins of Ashkelon will be buried under the drifting sand. It is partly the sand hills, partly the singular fragmentariness of the ruins of Ashkelon, which gives such an air of desolation to the scene, though, where the deluge of sand has not invaded, the gardens and orchards are luxuriant. Dr. W.M. Thomson, in the enlarged edition of 'The Land and the Book' (London, 1881, p. 173), observes that "the walls and towers must have been blown to pieces by powder, for not even earthquakes could throw these gigantic masses of masonry into such extraordinary attitudes. No site in this country has so deeply impressed my mind with sadness." With the remnant of their valley. "With" should rather be "even." "Their valley" means primarily the valley of Ashkelon; but this was not different from the valley or low-lying plain (more commonly called the Shefelah) of the other Philistian towns; and the whole phrase is an enigmatical, poetic way of saying "the still surviving population of Philistia." But this addition certainly weakens the passage, and leaves the second half of the verse abnormally short. It is far better to violate the Massoretic tradition, and attach "the remnant," etc., to the second verse half. But "their valley" is still a rather feeble expression; a proper name is what we look for to make this clause correspond to those which have gone before. The Septuagint reads differently, for it renders καὶ τὰ κατὰλοιπα Ἐνακείμ. We know from Joshua 11:22 that some of the Anakim were left "in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod;" and in David's time the Philistines could still point to giants in their midst (1 Samuel 17:4; 2 Samuel 21:16-22), who, like the Anakim (Deuteronomy 2:20), are called in the Hebrew, Rephaim. It may be objected, indeed (as it is by Keil), that the Anakim would not be traceable so late as Jeremiah's time; but Jeremiah was presumably a learned man, and was as likely to call the Philistines Anakim, as an English poet to call his countrymen Britons. No one who has given special attention to the phenomena of the Hebrew text elsewhere can doubt that "their valley" is a corruption; the choice lies between the "Anakim" of the Septuagint and the plausible correction of a Jewish scholar (A. Krochmal), "Ekron." How long wilt thou cut thyself? Shall thy lamentation never cease? (comp. on Jeremiah 16:6). The question is in appearance addressed to "the remnant" (personified as a woman), but in reality the judicial Providence who sends the calamity. A promise for Israel. - Jeremiah 46:27. "But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, nor be dismayed: for, behold, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be at rest and secure, and no one shall make him afraid. Jeremiah 46:28. Fear thou not, my servant Jacob, saith Jahveh, for I am with thee; for I will make complete destruction of all the nations whither I have driven thee, but of thee will I not make complete destruction: yet I will correct thee in a proper manner, and I will not leave thee wholly unpunished." These verses certainly form no integral portion of the prophecy, but an epilogue; yet they are closely connected with the preceding, and are occasioned by the declaration in Jeremiah 46:26, that the Lord, when He visits Pharaoh, shall also visit all those who trust in Him. This word, which is directed to Judah, might be understood to declare that it is Judah chiefly which will share the fate of Egypt. In order to prevent such a misconception, Jeremiah adds a word for Israel, which shows how the true Israel has another destiny to hope for. Their deliverer is Jahveh, their God, who certainly punishes them for their sins, gives them up to the power of the heathen, but will also gather them gain after their dispersion, and then grant them uninterrupted prosperity. This promise of salvation at the close of the announcement of judgment on Egypt is similar to the promise of salvation for Israel inserted in the threat of judgment against Babylon, Jeremiah 50:4-7 and Jeremiah 50:19, Jeremiah 50:20, Jeremiah 51:5-6, Jeremiah 51:10, Jeremiah 51:35-36, Jeremiah 51:45-46, Jeremiah 51:50; and this similarity furnishes a proof in behalf of the genuineness of the verse, which is denied by modern critics. For, although what Ngelsbach remarks is quite correct, viz., that the fall of the kingdom of Babylon, through its conquest by Cyrus, directly brought about the deliverance of Israel, while the same cannot be said regarding the conquest of Egypt, yet even Egypt had a much greater importance, in relation to Judah, than the smaller neighbouring nations, against which the oracles in Jeremiah 47-49 are directed; hence there is no ground for the inference that, because there is nothing said in these three chapters of such a connection between Egypt and Israel, it did not really exist. But when Ngelsbach further asks, "How does this agree with the fact that Jeremiah, on other occasions, while in Egypt, utters only the strongest threats against the Israelites - Jeremiah 42-44?" - there is the ready answer, that the expressions in Jeremiah 42-44 do not apply to the whole covenant people, but only to the rabble of Judah that was ripe for the sentence of destruction, that had fled to Egypt against the will of God. What Hitzig and Graf have further urged in another place against the genuineness of the verses now before us, is scarcely worth mention. The assertion that the verses do not accord with the time of the foregoing prophecy, and rather presuppose the exile, can have weight only with those who priori deny that the prophet could make any prediction. But if Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, distinctly announces not merely the carrying away of Judah to Babylon, but also fixes the duration of the exile at seventy years, then he might well speak at the same time, or later, of the restoration of Israel from their captivity.

But there are two other considerations which support the genuineness of these verses: (1) The fact that Hitzig and Graf are obliged to confess it remains a problem how they came to form a part of the oracle against Egypt. The attempt made by the former writer to solve this problem partly rests on the assumption, already refuted by Graf, that the verses were written by the second Isaiah (on this point, see our remarks at p. 263, note), and partly on a combination of results obtained by criticism, in which even their author has little confidence. But (2) we must also bear in mind the nature of the verses in question. They form a repetition of what we find in Jeremiah 30:10-11, and a repetition, too, quite in the style of Jeremiah, who makes variations in expression. Thus here, in Jeremiah 46:27, נאם יהוה is omitted after יעקוב, perhaps simply because Jeremiah 46:26 concludes with נאם יהוה; again, in Jeremiah 46:20, תּה אל־תּירא is repeated with נאם יהוה, which is wanting in Jeremiah 30:11. On the other hand, להושׁיעך in Jeremiah 30:11, and אך in Jeremiah 30:11, have been dropped; הפיצותיך שׁם (Jeremiah 30:11) has been exchanged for הדּחתּיך שׁמּה. Hence Hitzig has taken the text here to be the better and the original one; and on this he founds the supposition that the verses were first placed here in the text, and were only afterwards, and from this passage, inserted in Jeremiah 30:10-11, where, however, they stand in the best connection, and even for that reason could not be a gloss inserted there. Such are some of the contradictions in which critical scepticism involves itself. We have already given an explanation of these verses under Jeremiah 30.

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