Jeremiah 6:23
They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roars like the sea; and they ride on horses, set in array as men for war against you, O daughter of Zion.
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(23) Bow and spear.—As before (Jeremiah 5:16), the special weapons of the Chaldæans. The “spear” was a javelin, shot or hurled against the enemy.

Cruel.—The ferocity of the Chaldæans seems to have been exceptional. Prisoners impaled, or flayed alive, or burnt in the furnace (Jeremiah 29:22; Daniel 3:11), were among the common incidents of their wars and sieges.

They ride upon horses.—This appears to have been a novelty to the Israelites, accustomed to the war-chariots of Egypt and their own kings rather than to actual cavalry. (Comp. Jeremiah 8:16; Job 39:21-25; Habakkuk 1:8; Isaiah 30:16.) Both archers and horsemen appear as prominent in the armies of Gog and Magog, i.e., of the Scythians, in Ezekiel 38:4; Ezekiel 39:3.

Set in array . . .—The Hebrew is singular, and implies a new clause. It (the army of bowmen and riders) is set in array as a warrior, for war against thee.

6:18-30 God rejects their outward services, as worthless to atone for their sins. Sacrifice and incense were to direct them to a Mediator; but when offered to purchase a license to go on in sin, they provoke God. The sins of God's professing people make them an easy prey to their enemies. They dare not show themselves. Saints may rejoice in hope of God's mercies, though they see them only in the promise: sinners must mourn for fear of God's judgments, though they see them only in the threatenings. They are the worst of revolters, and are all corrupters. Sinners soon become tempters. They are compared to ore supposed to have good metal in it, but which proves all dross. Nothing will prevail to part between them and their sins. Reprobate silver shall they be called, useless and worthless. When warnings, corrections, rebukes, and all means of grace, leave men unrenewed, they will be left, as rejected of God, to everlasting misery. Let us pray, then, that we may be refined by the Lord, as silver is refined.Spear - Properly, a javelin for hurling at the enemy (see 1 Samuel 17:6 note): an ordinary weapon of the Babylonians.

Cruel - ruthless, inhuman. In the Assyrian monuments warriors put the vanquished to death; rows of impaled victims hang round the walls of the besieged towns; and men collect in heaps hands cut from the vanquished.

Horses, set in array - A full stop should be put after horses. It - the whole army, and not the cavalry only - is "set in array."

As men for war against thee - Rather, as a warrior for battle "against thee."

23. like the sea—(Isa 5:30).

as men for war—not that they were like warriors, for they were warriors; but "arrayed most perfectly as warriors" [Maurer].

They shall lay hold on bow and spear; or, They shall carry; they shall not want military ammunition of all sorts for the despatch of this great work; synecdochically expressed for all sorts of weapons. So Psalm 35:2,3.

Have no mercy; see Jeremiah 50:42; not be entreated, or have any pity to sex or age, poor or rich, Jeremiah 21:7. See the like Isaiah 13:17,18. And this was as duly executed as here prophesied, 2 Chronicles 36:17.

Their voice roareth like the sea; which, as it is very violent, so it causeth great consternation by its noise, compared to the roaring of the devils, Jam 2:19. Possibly it may intimate, they would not hearken to the voice of his prophets, now they shall hear the terrifying noise of armies, like the roaring of the sea.

They ride upon horses; which is a creature in especial manner adapted by God for war, as he is described. Job 9:19,20, &c.; implying their speed, strength, and fierceness, Jeremiah 50:42.

Set in array; the whole nation set as it were in battalia against them, that they may perceive they have to do with soldiers. The LXX. reading va esh, fire, for vya ish, man, render it, as fire to the war.

O daughter of Zion, or Jerusalem; for these two titles are promiscuously used for the same place; and the term daughter is often given to cities and countries, as Psalm 45:12 137:8 Isaiah 23:12 47:1. They shall lay hold on bow and spear,.... That is, everyone of them should be furnished with both these pieces of armour, that they might be able to fight near and afar off; they had bows to shoot arrows at a distance, and spears to strike with when near. The Targum renders it bows and shields. "They are cruel, and have no mercy"; this is said, to strike terror into the hearts of the hardened Jews:

their voice roareth like the sea; the waves of it, which is terrible, Luke 21:25,

and they ride upon horses; which still made them more formidable, as well as suggests that their march would be quick and speedy, and they would soon be with them:

set in array as men for war; prepared with all sorts of armour for battle: or, "as a man" (a); as one man, denoting their conjunction, ardour, and unanimity; being not only well armed without, but inwardly, resolutely bent, as one man, to engage in battle, and conquer or die; see Judges 20:8,

against thee, O daughter of Zion; the design being against her, and all the preparation made on her account; which had a very dreadful appearance, and threatened with ruin, and therefore filled her with terror and distress, as follows.

(a) "tanquam vir", Pagninus; "ut vir", Schmidt; "quam unus vir", Grotius.

They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.
23. set in array, as a man to the battle] equipped as a man for war.

23, 24. A large part of ch. 50 reads as an expansion of these vv.Verse 23. - Spear; rather, javelin (or, lance). They are cruel. The cruelty of the Assyrians and Babylonians seems to have spread general dismay. Nahum calls Nineveh "the city of bloodshed" (Nahum 3:1); Habakkuk styles the Chaldeans "bitter and vehement, terrible and dreadful" (Habakkuk 1:6, 7). The customs brought out into view m the monuments justify this most amply, though Professor Rawlinson thinks we cannot call the Assyrians (with whom the Babylonians may of course be coupled) naturally hard. hearted. "The Assyrian listens to the enemy who asks for quarter; he prefers making prisoners go slaying.; he is very terrible in the battle and the assault, but afterwards he forgives and spares" ('Ancient Monarchies,' 1:243). Their voice roareth. The horrid roar of the advancing hosts seems to have greatly struck the Jews (comp. Isaiah 5:30; Isaiah 17:12, 13). But God does not let the matter end here. He caused prophets to rise up amongst them, who called their attention to the threatening evil. Watchers are prophets, Ezekiel 3:17, who stand upon the watch-tower to keep a lookout, Habakkuk 2:1, and to give the people warning, by proclaiming what they have seen in spirit. "Hearken to the sound," etc., are not the words of the watchmen (prophets), for it is they who blow the trumpet, but the words of God; so that we have to supply, "and I said." The comparison of the prophets to watchmen, who give the alarm of the imminent danger by means of the sound of the trumpet, involves the comparison of the prophets' utterances to the clang of the signal-horn-suggested besides by Amos 3:6.
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