Jeremiah 5:19
And it shall come to pass, when you shall say, Why does the LORD our God all these things to us? then shall you answer them, Like as you have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall you serve strangers in a land that is not your's.
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(19) When ye shall say.—The implied promise in Jeremiah 5:18 is explained. Then there shall come the backward glance at the past, which brings with it questionings and repentance.

Strange gods.—Stronger than the “other gods” of Jeremiah 1:16, “gods of an alien race.” The threats that they should “serve strangers” in a “land” that was not theirs points to the Chaldæan rather than to the Scythian invasion. With this ends the section which began in Jeremiah 5:14.

Jeremiah 5:19. And when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the Lord our God all these things? — Those that fall under the severity of God’s judgments are apt to think so favourably of themselves, as to wonder why they should be singled out for examples of the divine vengeance, and of terror to others. And particularly the Jews were very apt to think themselves innocent, however guilty they were, and to contend they did not deserve the punishments inflicted on them; and that this severe proceeding was not consistent with those many gracious promises which God had made to their nation. Then shalt thou answer them, &c. — God doth not execute these judgments upon you without cause. All his promises were made to you, to be fulfilled upon condition of your obedience, which, when you withheld, you had reason to expect that his threatenings, instead of his promises, as he had repeatedly warned you, would take effect. Like as ye have forsaken me — I only retaliate upon you your own conduct: you have forsaken me, therefore I forsake you. You, in that good land which I gave you, have served strange gods, to whom you owed nothing; as being, indeed, the work of your own hands, of mere imaginary beings that had no existence; so will I make you to serve strange masters and lords in a land that is not yours — And where you shall not be able to call any thing your own. You have loved strangers, and to strangers you shall go. Or, as some paraphrase the words, “As you have refused to have me for your God, your Master, and your King, you shall have other kings and masters in a strange land, and shall experience the difference between my dominion and that of these severe and tyrannical masters.” 5:19-31 Unhumbled hearts are ready to charge God with being unjust in their afflictions. But they may read their sin in their punishment. If men will inquire wherefore the Lord doeth hard things unto them, let them think of their sins. The restless waves obeyed the Divine decree, that they should not pass the sandy shores, which were as much a restraint as lofty mountains; but they burst all restraints of God's law, and were wholly gone into wickedness. Neither did they consider their interest. While the Lord, year after year, reserves to us the appointed weeks of harvest, men live on his bounty; yet they transgress against him. Sin deprives us of God's blessings; it makes the heaven as brass, and the earth as iron. Certainly the things of this world are not the best things; and we are not to think, that, because evil men prosper, God allows their practices. Though sentence against evil works is not executed speedily, it will be executed. Shall I not visit for these things? This speaks the certainty and the necessity of God's judgments. Let those who walk in bad ways consider that an end will come, and there will be bitterness in the latter end.The reason why God so chastises His people. As they in a land especially consecrated to Yahweh had served "strange" (i. e., foreign gods, so shall they in a land belonging to others be the slaves of strangers. 19. Retribution in kind. As ye have forsaken Me (Jer 2:13), so shall ye be forsaken by Me. As ye have served strange (foreign) gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers (foreigners) in a land not yours. Compare the similar retribution in De 28:47, 48. Wherefore doeth the Lord our God all these things unto us? this speaks either their unparalleled insolency, in a manner challenging God, as if they had not deserved such dealing at his hands, they might have expected better usage from him; the Jews were good at these kinds of challenging of God, Isaiah 58:3. Or gross stupidity, as being such sots as not to be sensible of what they had done to provoke him; like to that Jeremiah 16:10.

Served strange gods, Heb. gods of the stranger; he doth not say strange gods, but gods of the stranger, which aggravated their crime, that while they lived in their own land, and the true God among them, they would precariously go fetch in gods from the heathens.

Serve strangers in a land that is not yours: here the prophet,

1. Opposeth strange lords to rule over them to those strange gods that they had served, which God calls a forsaking of him.

2. He opposes a land not theirs to their own land; so that by this the prophet shows what resentments God had of their sin; for it implies that their sin was much greater, that they served strange gods in their own land, than if they had done it in another, under the tyrannical imposition of a stranger; and therefore he would accordingly suit their punishment, that they should serve in a strange land, which should be worse than to be servants in their own. This is a dreadful but a just retaliation. And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say,.... That is, the people of the Jews, to whom the prophet belonged, after they had been spoiled by the enemy, and carried captive:

wherefore doth the Lord our God all these things unto us? as if they were innocent and guiltless, and had done nothing to provoke the Lord to anger; and it may be observed, that they professed to know the Lord in words, and call him their God, though in works they had denied him; and they own the hand of the Lord in all those evils that would now be come upon them; though before they had said they were not spoken by the Lord, nor would they befall them, Jeremiah 5:12,

thou shalt then answer them; that is, the Prophet Jeremiah, in the name of the Lord:

like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land; when they were in their own land they forsook the worship and ordinances of God, and served the idols of the Gentiles, as the Targum rightly explains it:

so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours: which some understand of strange gods; but rather it designs strange lords, as the Chaldeans in the land of Babylon, a land not theirs; and so it is measure for measure, a just retaliation in righteous judgment upon them.

And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Why doeth the LORD our God all these things to us? then shalt {r} thou answer them, As ye have forsaken me, and served foreign gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours.

(r) Meaning, the prophet Jeremiah.

19. The punishment was to be severe, because the wickedness which had called it forth was gross.

in a land that is not yours] Referring to the approach of exile, and therefore belonging to the time of the Roll (b.c. 604). Cp. Jeremiah 16:10-13, Jeremiah 22:8 f.; Deuteronomy 29:24 ff.; 1 Kings 9:8 f.Verses 19-29. - Judah's own obstinacy and flagrant disobedience are the causes of this sore judgment. Verse 19. - Like as ye have forsaken me, etc. The law of correspondence between sin and punishment pervades Old Testament prophecy (comp. Isaiah 5.). As the Jews served foreign gods in Jehovah's land, they shall become the slaves of foreigners in a land which is not theirs. 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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