Jeremiah 5:17
And they shall eat up your harvest, and your bread, which your sons and your daughters should eat: they shall eat up your flocks and your herds: they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees: they shall impoverish your fenced cities, wherein you trusted, with the sword.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Which thy sons and thy daughters should eat.—There is no relative pronoun in the Hebrew, and the clause stands parallel with the others, they shall eat (i.e., destroy) thy sons and thy daughters, and is so translated in all the older versions. In the other clauses the verb is in the singular, “it (i.e., the invading army) shall eat.”

Impoverish.—Better, break down, or shatter. The “sword” is used, as in Ezekiel 26:9, for “battle-axes” and other weapons used in attacking cities.

5:10-18 Multitudes are ruined by believing that God will not be so strict as his word says he will; by this artifice Satan undid mankind. Sinners are not willing to own any thing to be God's word, that tends to part them from, or to disquiet them in, their sins. Mocking and misusing the Lord's messengers, filled the measure of their iniquity. God can bring trouble upon us from places and causes very remote. He has mercy in store for his people, therefore will set bounds to this desolating judgment. Let us not overlook the nevertheless, ver. 18. This is the Lord's covenant with Israel. He thereby proclaims his holiness, and his utter displeasure against sin while sparing the sinner, Ps 89:30-35.Or,

It shall eat "thine harvest and thy bread:"

They shall eat "thy sons and thy daughters."

It shall eat thy sheep and thy cattle:

It shall eat "thy vines and thy fig-trees."

They shall impoverish ... - Or, It shall batter thy "fortified cities, wherein thou" trustest, with weapons of war. There is probably reference here to an instrument like a battering-ram, with which the Assyrians beat down the walls of their enemies.

17. (Le 26:16). They shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread; they shall make clean riddance, leave thee, no supports of life, but bring an utter famine upon thee; it is thus threatened Deu 28:30,48,51.

Which thy sons and thy daughters should eat; or, they shall eat up thy sons and thy daughters; but this is only a metonymy of the effect: but properly, this aggravates the dreadfulness of the judgment; parents, out of the tenderness of their affection, choosing rather to die themselves, than to live to see their children starved before their eyes, and they no ways able to relieve them, Lamentations 2:10,11.

They shall eat up thy flocks, & c.; a particular enumeration of the desolation that would be made, all tending to the greatness of the former. They shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword, i.e. beside the waste that the famine would make among persons, their cities also should be depopulated by the sword of the enemy; or rather, possibly the siege should be so strait and strict, as may be implied in the word impoverish, that they should be forced to eat one another, till they were quite wasted, they should be reduced to such poverty and exigencies; or the sword may relate to the mentioned mischiefs, as the cause of them all, the sword shall do all this: in all which he doth not so much tell them that the Chaldeans shall conquer them, for that is taken as it were for granted, as what cruelties they shall use when they have conquered. And they shall eat up thine harvest,.... The standing corn in the fields, cut it down, and give it as fodder to their horses, which is usually done by armies; or the increase of the earth, when gathered into the barn, which so great an army would consume:

and thy bread; which includes all kind of provisions:

which thy sons and thy daughters should eat; which is an aggravation of the calamity and misery, that that should become the prey of their enemies, which they with so much labour and pains had provided for their children, who would now be deprived of it, and suffer want, The Targum renders it,

"shall kill thy sons and thy daughters;''

that is, with the sword; and so Kimchi interprets it; and so other versions read, "they shall eat up, or devour, thy sons and thy daughters" (z); the sword ate them up, or devoured them; and they who besieged them were the cause or occasion of their being eaten literally, even by their own parents; see Lamentations 2:20,

they shall eat up thy flocks and thy herds; their sheep and oxen, as the Targum interprets it:

they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: that is, the fruit of them, as the same paraphrase explains it:

they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword; that is, such strong and fortified cities as Jerusalem, and others, in which the Jews trusted they should be safe from their enemies; these the Chaldeans would enter into, kill with the sword those they found in garrisons, demolish the fortifications, take away what wealth and riches were laid up there, and so impoverish them, and render them weak and defenceless. The Targum of this clause is,

"shall destroy the fortified cities of thy land, in which thou trustedst thou shouldest be safe from those that kill with the sword.''

(z) "vorabunt filios tuos et filias tuas", Calvin; "devorabunt", Vatablus; "comedent filios tuos et filias tuas", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius.

And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. which thy sons and thy daughters should eat] This is the rendering which the Heb. on the whole suggests, though the meaning may be, they shall eat thy sons and thy daughters. Seeing, however, that cannibalism is not to be attributed to the Scythians, it is probable that the clause is either metaphorical (cp. Jeremiah 3:24) or has been inserted through the influence of the closely connected passage, Deuteronomy 28:49-53, where, however, it is the besieged who are driven to this resort.

shall beat down] not, as mg. impoverish.Verse 17. - Which thy sons and thy daughters, etc.; rather, they shall eat that sons and thy daughters. In the other clauses of the verse the verb is in the singular, the subject being the hostile nation. They shall impoverish, etc.; rather, it shall batter... with weapons of war (so rightly Payne Smith); kherebh, commonly rendered "sword." is applied to any cutting instrument, such as a razor (Ezekiel 5:1), a mason's tool (Exodus 20:25), and, as here and Ezekiel 26:9, weapons of war in general. In spite of the feeling of security fostered by the false prophets, the Lord will make good His word, and cause the land and kingdom to be laid waste by a barbarous people. - Jeremiah 5:10. "Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy, but make not a full end: tear away her tendrils; for they are not Jahveh's. Jeremiah 5:11. For faithless to me is the house of Israel become and the house of Judah, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 5:12. They deny Jahveh, and say, He is not; and evil shall not come upon us, and sword and famine we shall not see. Jeremiah 5:13. And the prophets shall become wind, and he that speaketh is not in them: so may it happen unto them. Jeremiah 5:14. Therefore thus saith Jahveh the God of hosts: Because ye speak this word, behold, I make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them. Jeremiah 5:15. Behold, I bring upon you a nation from far, house of Israel, saith Jahveh, a people that is strong, a people that is from of old, a people whose speech thou knowest not, and understandest not what it saith. Jeremiah 5:16. Its quiver is as an open grave, they are all mighty men. Jeremiah 5:17. It shall eat up thy harvest and thy bread; they shall eat up thy sons and thy daughters; it shall eat up thy flocks and thy cattle, eat up thy vine and thy fig-tree; it shall break down thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustest, with the sword. Jeremiah 5:18. But yet in those days, saith Jahveh, I will not make a full end with you."

To give emphasis to the threat, that the Lord will avenge Himself on such a people, we have immediately following, in Jeremiah 5:10, the summons given to the enemy to subdue the land.עלוּ בשׁרותיה is variously explained. The old translators took שׁרות to mean walls; but the second clause, tear away the tendrils, seems not to suit this well. And then this word occurs but once again, and with the meaning "caravan," while walls are שׁוּרות in Job 24:11. But this reason is not strong enough to throw any doubt on the rendering: walls, supported as it is by the old versions. The form שׁרות from שׁוּר is contracted from a form שׁורים, constructed analogously to שׁורות. The second clause would be unsuitable to the first only in the case that walls were to mean exclusively town walls or fortifications. But this is not the case. Even if the suffix here referred to Jerusalem, mentioned in Jeremiah 5:1, which is very doubtful, still then the city would be looked on not in the light of a stronghold, but only as representative of the kingdom or of the theocracy. Probably, however, the suffix refers to the daughter of Zion as seat of the kingdom of God, and the idea of a vineyard was in the prophet's mind (cf. Jeremiah 2:21), under which figure Isaiah (Isaiah 5:1-7) set forth the kingdom of God founded on Mount Zion; so that under walls, the walls of the vineyard are to be thought of. Elsewhere, indeed, these are called גּדרות (also in Jeremiah 49:3), but only where the figure of a vineyard is further developed, or at least is brought more plainly and prominently forward. Here, again, where the enemy is summoned to go upon the walls, this figure is mixed up with that of a city; and so the word שׂרות, as indicating walls of any kind, seems most fitting. Graf has overthrown, as being unfounded, Hitz.'s assertion, that עלה signified only, to go up against a thing; and that accuracy and elegance required that the destruction should be of the walls, not of the vineyard itself. עלה c. בּ means also: to go up upon a thing, e.g., Psalm 24:3; Deuteronomy 5:5; and the verb שׁחתוּ stands quite absolutely, so that it cannot be restricted to the walls. "And destruction can only take place when, by scaling the walls, entrance has been obtained into that which is to be destroyed, be it city or vineyard." We therefore adhere to the sig. walls, especially since the other translations attempted by Ew. and Hitz. are wholly without foundation. Hitz. will have us read שׂרותיה, and take this as plural of שׁורה; next he supposes a row of vines to be intended, but he obtains this sense only by arbitrarily appending the idea of vines. Ew. endeavours, from the Aram. and Arab., to vindicate for the word the meaning: clusters of blossom, and so to obtain for the whole the translation: push in amidst the blossom-spikes. A singular figure truly, which in no way harmonizes with עלוּ ב. "Destroy" is restricted by the following "but make not," etc.; see on Jeremiah 4:27. On "tear away her tendrils," cf. Isaiah 18:5. The spoilers are not to root up the vine itself, but to remove the tendrils, which do not belong to Jahveh. Spurious members of the nation are meant, those who have degenerated out of their kind.

The reasons of this command are given in Jeremiah 5:11., by a renewed exposure of the people's apostasy. The house of Israel and the house of Judah are become faithless. On this cf. Jeremiah 3:6. The mention of Israel along with Judah gives point to the threatening, since judgment has already been executed upon Israel. Judah has equalled Israel in faithlessness, and so a like fate will be its lot. Judah shows its faithlessness by denying the Lord, by saying לא הוּא. This Ew. translates: not so, after the οὐκ ἔστι ταῦτα of the lxx; but he is certainly wrong in this. Even though הוּא may be used in place of the neuter, yet it cannot be so used in this connection, after the preceding כּחשׁוּ ביהוה. Better to take it: He is not, as the fools speak in Psalm 14:1 : there is no God, i.e., go on in their lives as if God were not. "Jahveh is not" is therefore in other words: there exists not a God such as Jahveh is preached to us, who is to visit His people with sore punishments. This view is not open to the objection, quod pro lubitu supplent, which Ros. raises against the interpretation: non est is, qualem prophetae describunt. For we take הוּא not as is qualem, but as est sc. Jahveh; and we explain the meaning of Jahveh only in that reference in which He is disowned by these men, namely, as God who visits His people with punishments. In this character He was preached by the prophets. This appears from what is further said by these disowners of God: evil or mischief will not come on us. To a saying of this kind they could have been provoked only by threatenings of punishments. The prophets were not indeed the first to announce judgments; Moses in the law threatened transgressors with the sorest punishments. But the context, the threatening against the false prophets in Jeremiah 5:13, suggests that here we are to think of announcements by the prophets. Doubtless the false prophets assured the people: evil shall not come upon you, in opposition to the true prophets, who threatened the sinful race with the judgments of God. Such prophets are to become wind, sc. with their utterances. הדּבּר is not a noun: the word, but a verb, with the article instead of the relative pronoun, as in Joshua 1:24; 1 Chronicles 26:28, and often: He who speaks is not in them, i.e., in them there is none other speaker than themselves; the Spirit of God is not in them. אין, "there is none," is stronger than לא, meaning: they speak out of their own hearts. The threat, so be it unto them, may be most simply referred to the first clause: they become wind. Let the emptiness of their prophecies fall on their own heads, so that they themselves may come to nought.

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