Jeremiah 48:6
Flee, save your lives, and be like the heath in the wilderness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Be like the heath in the wilderness.—Here, as in Jeremiah 17:6, the stunted solitary shrub in the desert is taken as the type of desolation. The LXX., which adopts the meaning in Jeremiah 17:6, here strangely enough gives “as a wild ass in the wilderness.” Psalm 11:1 gives us an example of a like comparison. Here probably there is, as before, a paronomasia on the name of the Moabite city Aroer, which closely resembles the Hebrew word for “heath.” In thus finding an ominous significance in the names of cities, Jeremiah follows in the wake of Micah 1.

48:1-13. The Chaldeans are to destroy the Moabites. We should be thankful that we are required to seek the salvation of men's lives, and the salvation of their souls, not to shed their blood; but we shall be the more without excuse if we do this pleasant work deceitfully. The cities shall be laid in ruins, and the country shall be wasted. There will be great sorrow. There will be great hurry. If any could give wings to sinners, still they could not fly out of the reach of Divine indignation. There are many who persist in unrepented iniquity, yet long enjoy outward prosperity. They had been long corrupt and unreformed, secure and sensual in prosperity. They have no changes of their peace and prosperity, therefore their hearts and lives are unchanged, Ps 55:19.Like the heath - Or, Like a destitute man. See the marginal reference note. 6. They exhort one another to flee.

heath—or the juniper (see on [977]Jer 17:6). Maurer translates, "Be like one naked in the wilderness." But the sense is, Live in the wilderness like the heath, or juniper; do not "trust in" walls (Jer 48:7) [Grotius]. (Compare Mt 24:16-18).

It is of no great moment whether we understand these as the words of the Moabites, calling one to another to flee, and save their lives, though they lost all they had, and left themselves as bare as a naked tree; or as the words of the prophets speaking to the Moabites to the same sense.

Flee, save your lives,.... These are either the words of the Moabites, their cry of destruction mentioned in the latter part of Jeremiah 48:5; who, seeing nothing but ruin before their eyes, advise one another to flee in all haste, and save their lives if possible, since nothing else could be saved: or else they are the words of the prophet, giving counsel to the Moabites to betake themselves to flight for the safety of their lives, these being in great danger; so Abarbinel; with whom others agree, only think they are spoken ironically; suggesting, that when they had endeavoured by flight to save their lives, it would be to no purpose; they should not escape the hands of their enemies; which seems to be the truest sense:

and be like the heath in the wilderness; which is called "erice", or "ling", which grows in waste places. Kimchi and Menachem in Jarchi interpret it of a tree that grows in dry and desert places; a low, naked, barren, fruitless shrub; signifying, that, when they were fled from their habitations, they should be as solitary and stripped of all their good things as such a bare and naked shrub in a desert. Kimchi's note is, that when they had left their cities and fled, their cities would be as the heath in the wilderness. The Targum is,

"and be ye as the tower of Aroer, "as they" who dwell in tents in the wilderness.''

Jarchi observes that the tower of Aroer was built in the wilderness, and there was no inhabitant round it but those that dwelt in tents; and, the tower standing where there was no inhabitant, it looked like a waste. The Septuagint version is very foreign, "as a wild ass in the wilderness"; which is followed by the Arabic version.

Flee, save your lives, and be like the {e} bush in the wilderness.

(e) Hide yourselves in barren places, where the enemy will not pursue after you, Jer 17:6.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. the heath] See on Jeremiah 17:6. The LXX read somewhat differently from MT., rendering wild ass (as shy and difficult to capture). This is probably right. Cp. Job 39:5.

Verse 6. - Flee, save your lives; literally, your souls. The prophet's human feeling prompts him to this counsel; but he knows full well that a life of abject misery is the utmost that can be hoped for. And be like the heath in the wilderness; literally, and (your souls) shall be like destitute ones in the wilderness. Imagine the case of one who has been robbed of everything, and left alone in the desert; not less miserable is that of the Moabite fugitives. The word rendered "the heath" (aro'er) is either miswritten for ar'ar, which occurs in the sense of "destitute" in Jeremiah 17:6 (see note), or also a rare plural form of the same word. The sense remains the same. It is tempting to see an allusion to one of the towns called Aroer (as in Isaiah 17:2). But the only Aroer the prophet could be thinking of is that on the Amen (Deuteronomy 2:36), which could not be described as "in the wilderness." Jeremiah 48:6Only by a precipitate flight into the desert can the Moabites save even their lives. The summons to flee is merely a rhetorical expression for the thought that there is no safety to be had in the country. To ותּהינה in Jeremiah 48:6 we must supply נפשׁות as the subject: "your souls shall be." Ewald would change נפשׁכם into נפשׁיכם; but this proposal has against it the fact that the plural form נפשׁים is found in but a single case, Ezekiel 13:20, and נפשׁות everywhere else: besides, נפשׁ is often used in the singular of several persons, as in 2 Samuel 19:6, and may further be easily taken here in a distributive sense; cf. מלּטוּ אישׁ נפשׁו, Jeremiah 51:6. The assumption of C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmller, Maurer, and of the translators of our "Authorized" English Version, that תּהינה is the second person, and refers to the cities, i.e., their inhabitants, is against the context. ערוער cannot here be the name of a town, because neither Aroer in the tribe of Reuben, which was situated on the Arnon, nor Aroer of the tribe of Gad, which was before Rabbath-Ammon, lay in the wilderness; the comparison, too, of the fugitives to a city is unsuitable. The clause reminds us of Jeremiah 17:6, and ערוער equals the ערער of that passage; the form found here is either an error of transcription caused by thinking of Aroer, or a play upon the name of the city, for the purpose of pointing out the fate impending over it.
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