Your terribleness has deceived you, and the pride of your heart, O you that dwell in the clefts of the rock, that hold the height of the hill: though you should make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from there, said the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Thy terribleness hath deceived thee.—The substantive does not occur elsewhere. Etymo-logically it may mean “terror of,” or “object of terror;” but a cognate word is found in 1Kings 15:13; 2Chronicles 15:16 in the sense of an “idol,” probably of the Phallic or Priapus type, and that is probably the meaning. Such an idol is called scornfully the horror of Edom, just as the God of Israel was “the fear of Isaac” (Genesis 31:42). So Milton speaks of Chemosh as the “obscene dread of Moab’s sons” (Par. Lost, I. 406.)
O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock.—Better, perhaps, in the fortresses of Sela. The words describe with a wonderful vividness the aspect of the rock-fortresses of Edom, the cities built into a ravine. The remains of Petra (the Sela of 2Kings 14:7; Isaiah 16:1), commonly referred to as illustrating this description, are, it must be remembered, of Roman origin; but there can be little doubt that it occupied the site of an earlier city, and that there were other fortresses, even more like the eagle’s nest, perched upon the summit of the crags. In Job 39:27-30 we have a picture of the eagle’s nest drawn by a writer who was probably familiar with these rock fortresses.
The clefts of the rock - Or, the fastnesses of Sela, the rock-city, Petra (see Isaiah 16:1).
deceived thee—rendered thee proudly confident, as if none would dare to assail thee.
dwellest in … rock—Petra, the chief of Idumea, was cut in the rocks; its ruins are very remarkable. The whole south of Idumea abounds in cave dwellings and rocks.
though … nest … eagle—(Job 39:27; Ob 3, 4). The eagle builds its nest in the highest craggy eyry.Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart: Obadiah in his prophecy against Edom useth much the same expressions, Obadiah 1:3,4. The word that is here used being of the number of those which are but once found in Scripture, hath given interpreters liberty to abound in their senses of it; some translating it arrogance, some, thine idol; but the best interpreters understand by it their terribleness to others, their being so potent that others were all afraid of them; this deceived them, making them to conclude themselves secure, and out of danger; to which is also added the pride of the heart. The country of Edom being mountainous, they are said to
dwell in the clefts of the rocks, that is, in places impregnable, and inaccessible as they thought, in the heights of the hill. But the Lord lets them know no place was to his power inaccessible or impregnable, for if they dwell as
high as the eagle, which the Scripture tells us, Job 39:27,28, maketh her nest on high, and dwelleth and abideth upon the rock, upon the crag of the rock, yet he would bring them down. 1 Kings 15:13; which, being terrible to them, they thought it might be so to others, and protect them. In the place referred to the word "miphlezeth" is used, and comes from the same root with this, which signifies to be terrible and formidable, and cause to tremble, as the idols of the Gentiles were to their worshippers, and others. The Vulgate Latin version of the above place interprets it of Priapus, which was an idol set up in gardens to frighten birds and thieves from coming thither (p). So Kimchi observes, that some interpret it here of idolatrous worship or superstition; but it is to be understood either of the roughness and terribleness of their country, abounding with rocks and mountains, which made it inaccessible; or rather of that terror which they struck into their neighbouring nations, by their wealth and riches, their power and strength, their courage and valour, and skill in military affairs; and having such strong cities, fortresses, and fastnesses, natural and artificial, of which they were proud; and, on account of all which, fancied that none would dare to invade them; or, if they did, their attempts would be fruitless; and this deceived them, making them careless and secure:
O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock; the land of Idumea being very hilly and rocky. Jerom (q) says, who lived near it, that all the southern part of Idumea, from Eleutheropolis to Petra and Hailah, had their habitations in caves cut out of rocks:
that holdest the height of the hill; that dwelt on the tops of hills and mountains, and in towers and fortified places built upon them, as Kimchi and Ben Melech; who think respect is had particularly to Mount Seir. The Targum is,
"for thou art like to an eagle that dwells in the clefts of the rock, whose high habitation is inn strong place;''
hence it follows:
though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord; signifying, though they might think themselves as safe and as much out of the reach of men as an eagle's nest, and were as high and as secure in their own imaginations; yet they should be come at by their enemies, be fetched out of their strong holds, and reduced to the lowest and most miserable state and condition; of which they might be assured, since the Lord had spoken it, who would do it by the hand of the Chaldeans. The allusion to the eagle is very pertinent to illustrate the self-exaltation and self-security of the Edomites; the eagle being a bird that flies higher than any other, as Kimchi on the place observes, even up to the clouds, and out of sight; hence Homer (r) calls it the high flying eagle; and which builds its nest in high places, in the tops of rocks; so Aristotle (s) says, they make their nests, not in plains, but in high places, especially in cragged rocks; and Pliny (t) relates that they build their nests in rocks; and he also says (u) of the vultures, who seem to be meant by the eagles in Matthew 24:28; that they build their nests in the highest rocks, and which no man can reach.
(o) "simulacrum tuum", Pagninus, Vatablus; "idolum", Grotius. So R. Sol. Urbin Ohel Moed, fol. 12. 1.((p) "--------Deus, inde ego furum, aviumque Maxima formido." Horat. Sermon. l. 1. Satyr. 8. ver. 3, 4. "Et custos furum atque avium cum falce saligna Hellespontiaci servet tutela Priapi". Virgil. Georgic. l. 4. ver. 110, 111. (q) Comment. in Obad. fol. 52. C. (r) Iliad. 22. v. 308. (s) De Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 32. (t) Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 3.((u) Ibid. c. 6.Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)16. As for thy terribleness] The text is probably corrupt, but no certain emendation has been suggested. If it stands, we must take the sense to be O thy trembling, i.e. either (a) how wilt thou tremble at the greatness of thy fall! or (b) how will the lookers on tremble at the horror of this sight! The Hebrew noun is absent from Ob. and is not found elsewhere.
the rock] mg. Sela. See 2 Kings 14:7. Sela was perhaps identical with Petra, which “lay in an amphitheatre of mountains, accessible only through the narrow gorge, called the Sik, winding in with precipitous sides from the W.; and the mountain sides round Petra, and the ravines about it, contain innumerable rock-hewn cavities, some being tombs, but others dwellings, in which the ancient inhabitants lived.” Dr. See also G. A. Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets, II. 179. Petra was fifty miles S. of the Dead Sea.
the eagle] See on Jeremiah 4:13.Verse 16. - Thy terribleness. This is certainly the best rendering of this ἅπαξ λεγόμενον. The "terribleness" of Edom consisted in the fact that the other nations shrank from disturbing her in her rocky fastness. In the clefts of the rock. Probably with an allusion to the rock city Sela, or Petra ("rock"); as perhaps in "the height of the hill" to the situation of Bozrah; see on ver. 13 (Graf). As the eagle. Not any eagle is meant, but the griffon (Gypsfulvus), or great vulture (Tristram). Jeremiah 49:9 is a reproduction of Obadiah 1:5, but in such a way that what Obadiah brings forward as a comparison is directly applied by Jeremiah to the enemy: our prophet represents the enemy as grape-gatherers who leave nothing to glean, and as nocturnal thieves who destroy what is sufficient for them, i.e., destroy till they have enough, drag away and destroy as much as they can. The after-clauses, "they will not leave," etc., "they destroy," etc., are thus not to be taken as questions. The reference to Obadiah does not entitle us to supply הלוא from that passage. The connection here is somewhat different. The following verse is joined by means of כּי, "for;" and the thought, "for I have stripped Esau, I have discovered his secret places," shows that the enemy is to be understood by the grape-gatherers and nocturnal thieves: he will leave nothing to glean - will plunder all the goods and treasures of Edom, even those that have been hidden. On this subject, cf. Obadiah 1:6. חשׂף, "to strip off leaves, make bare" (Jeremiah 13:26), has been chosen with a regard to נחפּשׂוּ in Obadiah. ונחבּה לא יוּכל, lit., "and he hides himself, he will not be able to do it;" i.e., Esau (Edom) tries to hide himself; he will not be able to do it - he will not remain concealed from the enemy. There are not sufficient grounds for changing the perf. נחבּה equals נחבּא into the inf. abs. נחבּה, as Ewald and Graf do. "His seed is destroyed," i.e., his family, the posterity of Esau, the Edomites, his brethren," the descendants of nations related to the family, and of others similar who had intermingled with them, as the Amalekites, Genesis 36:12, Horites, Genesis 36:20., Simeonites, 1 Chronicles 4:42, "and his neighbours," the neighbouring tribes, as Dedan, Jeremiah 49:8, Thema and Buz, Jeremiah 25:23. "And he is not" is added to give intensity, as in Isaiah 19:7; cf. Jeremiah 31:15. The last idea is made more intensive by Jeremiah 49:11, "Leave your orphans and widows." Edom is addressed, and the imperative expresses what must happen. The men of Edom will be obliged to leave their wives and children, and these will be left behind as widows and orphans, because the men fall in battle. Yet the Lord will care for them, so that they shall not perish. In this comfort there is contained a very bitter truth for the Edomites who hated Jahveh. עזבה is the imperative (Ewald, 228, a), not infinitive (Hitzig); and תּבטחוּ is a rare form of the jussive for תּבטחנה, as in Ezekiel 37:7; cf. Ewald, 191, b. Reasons are given for these threats in Jeremiah 49:12 and Jeremiah 49:13, first in the thought that Edom cannot continue to be the only one unpunished, then in the bringing forward of the solemnly uttered purpose of God. "Those who should not be compelled to drink." Those meant are the Israelites, who, as the people of God, ought to have been free from the penal judgment with which the Lord visits the nations. If, now, these are not left (spared such an infliction), still less can Edom, as a heathen nation, lay claim to exemption. By this Jeremiah does not mean to say that nay injustice befalls the Jews if they are obliged to drink the cup of the wrath of God, but merely that their having been chosen to be the people of God does not give them any right to exemption from the judgments of God on the world, i.e., if they make themselves like the heathen through their sins and vices. The inf. abs. שׁתו for שׁתה intensifies: "ye shall (must) drink." The idea is founded on that pervading Jeremiah 25, and there is use made of the words in Jeremiah 25:29. The כּי in Jeremiah 49:13 is mainly dependent on the clause immediately preceding: "thou shalt certainly drink." On "by myself have I sworn" cf. Jeremiah 22:5. In the threat that Edom shall be laid waste there is an accumulation of words corresponding to the excitement of feeling accompanying an utterance under solemn oath. חרב is used instead of the more common חרבּה; cf. Jeremiah 25:18; Jeremiah 44:22, etc. חרבות עולם, as in Jeremiah 25:9. Bozrah was at that time the capital of the Edomites (cf. Jeremiah 49:22); it lay south from the Dead Sea, on the site of the village Buseireh (Little Bozrah), in Jebal, which is still surrounded by a castle and with ruins of considerable extent, and is situated on an eminence; see on Amos 1:12 and Genesis 36:33. "And all its cities," i.e., the rest of the cities of Idumea; cf. וּבנותיה, Jeremiah 49:2.
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