Jeremiah 5:17
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.
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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. Jeremiah 5:17This people will devour the harvest and the bread, the children, the cattle, and the best fruits of the land. Devour, here as often, in the wider sense, destroy; cf. e.g., Jeremiah 3:24 and Jeremiah 10:25, where the first half of the present verse is compressed into the words: they ate up Jacob. We need not wait to refute Hitz.'s absurd remark, that the author imagined the enemy, the assumed Scythians, to be cannibals. In the second half of the verse the words, "the fenced cities wherein thou trustest,"are a reminiscence of Deuteronomy 28:52; and hence we may see, that while our prophet is describing the enemy in Jeremiah 5:15-18, Moses' threatening, Deuteronomy 28:49-52, was in his mind. רשׁשׁ, break in pieces, as in Malachi 1:4. With the sword, i.e., by force of arms; the sword, as principal weapon, being named, instead of the entire apparatus of war. In Jeremiah 5:18 the restriction of Jeremiah 5:10 (cf. Jeremiah 4:27) is repeated, and with it the threatening of judgment is rounded off.
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