Jeremiah 6:26
O daughter of my people, gird you with sackcloth, and wallow yourself in ashes: make you mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come on us.
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(26) Wallow thyself in ashes.—So in Jeremiah 25:34; Ezekiel 27:30. The ordinary sign of mourning was to sprinkle dust or ashes on the head (2Samuel 1:2; 2Samuel 13:19; Joshua 7:6). This, as in Jeremiah 25:34; Micah 1:10; Job 2:8, indicated more utter wretchedness and prostration. The English verb belongs to the class of those which were once used reflexively, and have now come to be intransitive. “Endeavour” supplies another example.

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.Wallow thyself in ashes - Violent distress is accustomed to find relief in eccentric actions, and thus the wallowing in ashes shows that Jerusalem's grief is unbearable.

The spoiler - Nebuchadnezzar.

26. wallow … in ashes—(Jer 25:34; Mic 1:10). As they usually in mourning only "cast ashes on the head," wallowing in them means something more, namely, so entirely to cover one's self with ashes as to be like one who had rolled in them (Eze 27:30).

as for an only son—(Am 8:10; Zec 12:10).

lamentation—literally, "lamentation expressed by beating the breast."

0 daughter of my people, i.e. O my people, that art beloved as a daughter.

Gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: he calls upon them to mourning in the deepest manner wherein they can express it, girding with sackcloth, close mourning, Jeremiah 4:8, wallowing in ashes, Jeremiah 25:34 Micah 1:10, lying low in humiliation, and prostrating themselves before him: he further describes the nature of it in the following expression, such as is for the death of a child, a son, an only son, Amos 8:10; and then seems to sum it up in this bitter,

most bitter lamentation, Heb. wailing of bitternesses, noting the highest degrees of lamentation; he seems to want words to express it. See Jeremiah 9:17,18. And it is likely the prophet doth not so designedly exhort them to repent, as rather describe the state of persons in a lost and despairing condition. For here the prophet takes upon himself thee person of one denouncing war; and sackcloth and ashes is often mentioned where there is net hope of conversion or repentance.

The spoiler; the king of Babylon and his army, Jeremiah 4:8. O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth,.... Either as a token of repentance for sin; so the king of Nineveh and his subjects did, to show their repentance, Jonah 3:6 or as a sign of mourning, for the calamities coming on them, Genesis 37:34.

and wallow thyself in ashes; or roll thyself in them, as a token of the same. The Targum is,

"cover your heads with ashes.''

Make thee mourning as for an only son; which of all is the most bitter: and therefore it is added,

most bitter lamentation; see Zechariah 12:10.

For the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us; namely, Nebuchadnezzar, that would spoil their cities, towns, villages, and houses, and them of all their wealth and substance, and carry it away.

O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us.
26. daughter of my people] collective, as in Jeremiah 4:11.

wallow thyself in] more probably, sprinkle thyself with (so LXX), though the meaning of the Hebrew root is doubtful in all its occurrences (Jeremiah 25:34; Ezekiel 27:30; Micah 1:10).

as for an only son] The importance attributed by the Jews to the possession of children involved special anguish when there was no one left to perpetuate the family. Cp. Jeremiah 22:30; Amos 8:10; Zechariah 12:10.Verse 26. - Wallow thyself in ashes; rather, sprinkle thyself with ashes, a sign of mourning (2 Samuel 13:19; so Micah 1:10). Mourning, as for an only son. The Septuagint renders πένθος ἀγαπητοῦ (comp. Genesis 22:2, where in like manner the Septuagint renders, not "thine only son," but "thy beloved son"). Possibly this was to avoid a supposition which might have occurred to some readers (it has, in fact, occurred to several modern critics) that the "only son" was Adonis, who was certainly "mourned for" by some of the Israelites under the name of Thammuz (Ezekiel 8:14), and whose Phoenician name is given by Philo of Byblus as Ἰεούδ (i.e. probably Yakhidh, only begotten, the word used by Jeremiah; comp. Βηρούθ, equivalent to Berith). M. Renan found a vestige of the ancient festival of Adonis at Djebeil (the Phoenician Gebal) even at the present day. There would be nothing singular in the adoption of a common popular phrase by the prophet, in spite of its reference to a heathen custom (comp. Job 3:8), and the view in question gives additional force to the passage. But the ordinary explanation is perfectly tenable and more obvious. The phrase, "mourning [or, 'lamentation'] for an only begotten one," occurs again in Amos 8:10; Zechariah 12:10. In the last-mentioned passage it is parallel with "bitter weeping for a firstborn." The people had no shortcoming in the matter of sacrifice in the temple; but in this service, as being mere outward service of works, the Lord has no pleasure, if the heart is estranged from Him, rebels against His commandments. Here we have the doctrine, to obey is better than sacrifice, 1 Samuel 15:22. The Lord desires that men do justice, exercise love, and walk humbly with Him, Micah 6:8. Sacrifice, as opus operatum, is denounced by all the prophets: cf. Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21., Isaiah 1:11; Psalm 50:8. Incense from Sheba (see on Ezekiel 27:22) was required partly for the preparation of the holy incense (Exodus 30:34), partly as an addition to the meat-offerings, Leviticus 2:1, Leviticus 2:15, etc. Good, precious cane, is the aromatic reed, calamus odoratus (Exodus 30:23), calamus from a far country - namely, brought from India - and used in the preparation of the anointing oil; see on Exodus 30:23. לרצון is from the language of the Torah; cf. Leviticus 1:3., Jeremiah 22:19., Exodus 28:38; and with לא: not to well-pleasing, sc. before Jahveh, i.e., they cannot procure for the offerers the pleasure or favour of God. With לא ערבוּ לי cf. Hosea 9:4.
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