Jeremiah 6:3
The shepherds with their flocks shall come to her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place.
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(3) Shall come unto her.—Better, Unto it (sc., the pasture) shall come shepherds with their flocksi.e., the leaders and the armies of the invaders. The other verbs are in the past tense, the future being seen, as it were realised, They have pitched, they have pastured.

Every one in his place.—Literally, each on his hand, or perhaps, “they shall feed, each his hand,” i.e., shall let it rove in plunder at will by the side of his own tent. The work of plunder was to go on everywhere. The imagery is drawn from the attack of a nomadic tribe on a richly-cultivated plain.

6:1-8 Whatever methods are used, it is vain to contend with God's judgments. The more we indulge in the pleasures of this life, the more we unfit ourselves for the troubles of this life. The Chaldean army shall break in upon the land of Judah, and in a little time devour all. The day is coming, when those careless and secure in sinful ways will be visited. It is folly to trifle when we have eternal salvation to work out, and the enemies of that salvation to fight against. But they were thus eager, not that they might fulfil God's counsels, but that they might fill their own treasures; yet God thereby served his own purposes. The corrupt heart of man, in its natural state, casts out evil thoughts, just as a fountain casts out her waters. It is always flowing, yet always full. The God of mercy is loth to depart even from a provoking people, and is earnest with them, that by repentance and reformation, they may prevent things from coming to extremity.To it shall come "shepherds with their flocks:"

They have pitched upon it "their tents round about:"

They have pastured each his hand, "i. e., side."

The pasture is so abundant that each feeds his flock, i. e., plunders Jerusalem, at the side of his own tent.

3. shepherds—hostile leaders with their armies (Jer 1:15; 4:17; 49:20; 50:45).

feed—They shall consume each one all that is near him; literally, "his hand," that is, the place which he occupies (Nu 2:17; see on [899]Isa 56:5).

The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her: the prophet here proceeds in his metaphor, and possibly the rather, because he chooseth to speak in the style of his own education, which may also give some countenance to the supplement of pasture or land in the former verse instead of woman: the meaning is, the Chaldean princes, with their armies, as so many flocks, shall come into this pleasant land; see Jeremiah 12:10; in which expression there is something of a scoff, as Jeremiah 4:16,17.

They shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall so place their warlike tents, as to form a siege to begirt her round, Jeremiah 1:15 Ezekiel 4:2.

Every one in his place, Heb. hand, i.e. near hand, or beside or near one another; thus 2 Chronicles 21:16 Job 1:14: thus hand is taken for place; i.e. each one in his quarter or station, not a man but shall do his part, and shall be skilful and powerful to destroy wherever he comes: it intimates also that every thing shall be so much at the enemy’s own disposal, that they shall be able to choose their own quarters; they shall place their army in wings, and troops, and regiments, as they see good, to their best advantage, to be helpful one unto another, as shepherds are wont to do their flocks; or, they shall fight in several parties, and each destroy his part assigned him through the whole country, and they shall join as it were in one body against Jerusalem. The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her,.... Kings and their armies, as the Targum paraphrases it; kings and generals are compared to shepherds, and their armies to flocks, who are under their command and direction; here they design Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, with his generals and armies, who should come up against Jerusalem, as to a good pasture:

they shall pitch their tents against her round about; their military tents, in allusion to pastoral ones. The phrase is expressive of the Chaldean army surrounding and besieging Jerusalem:

they shall feed everyone in his place; where he is ordered and fixed by his head general: or, "everyone shall feed his hand" (p): the sheep of his hand; see Psalm 95:7, "them that are under his hand", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; who are committed to his care and charge. The meaning is, he shall direct the company or companies of soldiers under him, where to be, and what part to take in the siege; or "with his hand", as the Septuagint, with the skilfulness of his hands, Psalm 78:72, or with might and power; or "at his hand", as the Arabic version; what is at hand, what is nearest to him; or according to his will and pleasure. The Targum is,

"everyone shall help his neighbour.''

The sense, according to Kimchi, is, one king or general shall lay siege against a city, or against cities, and so another, until they have consumed and subdued the whole land.

(p) "paverunt unusquisque manum suam", Montanus; "eos qui sub manu sua sunt", V. L.

The shepherds with their flocks {e} shall come to her; they shall pitch their tents against her on every side; they shall feed every one in his place.

(e) She will be so destroyed that the sheep may be fed in her.

3. For shepherds in the sense of leaders, rulers cp. chs. Jeremiah 2:8, Jeremiah 3:15.

every one in his place] The Heb. is lit. each his hand. They shall not need to encroach upon one another, finding abundance in their own portion.Through the luxurious living their wealth makes possible to them, they are grown fat and sleek. עשׁתוּ, in graphic description, is joined asynd. to the preceding verb. It is explained by recent comm. of fat bodies, become glossy, in keeping with the noun עשׁת, which in Sol 5:14 expresses the glitter of ivory; for the meaning cogitare, think, meditate, which עשׁת bears in Chald., yields no sense available here. The next clause is variously explained. גּם points to another, yet worse kind of behaviour. It is not possible to defend the translation: they overflow with evil speeches, or swell out with evil things (Umbr., Ew.), since עבר c. accus. does not mean to overflow with a thing. Yet more arbitrary is the assumption of a change of the subject: (their) evil speeches overflow. The only possible subject to the verb is the wicked ones, with whom the context deals before and after. דּברי־רע are not words of wickedness equals what may be called wickedness, but things of wickedness, wicked things. דּברי serves to distribute the idea of רע into the particular cases into which it falls, as in Psalm 65:4; Psalm 105:27, and elsewhere, where it is commonly held to be pleonastic. Hitz. expounds truly: the individual wickednesses in which the abstract idea of wicked manifests itself. Sense: they go beyond all that can be conceived as evil, i.e., the bounds of evil or wickedness. The cause they plead not, namely, the case of the orphans. ויצליחוּ, imperf. c. ו consec.: that so they might have prosperity. Hitz. regards the wicked men as the subject, and explains the words thus: such justice would indeed be a necessary condition of their success. But that the wicked could attain to prosperity by seizing every opportunity of defending the rights of the fatherless is too weak a thought, coming after what has preceded, and besides it does not fit the case of those who go beyond all bounds in wickedness. Ew. and Graf translate: that they (the wicked) might make good the rightful cause (of the orphan), help the poor man to his rights. But even if הצליח seems in 2 Chronicles 7:11; Daniel 8:25, to have the signif. carry through, make good, yet in these passages the sig. carry through with success is fundamental; there, as here, this will not suit, הצליח being in any case applicable only to doubtful and difficult causes - a thought foreign to the present context. Blame is attached to the wicked, not because they do not defend the orphan's doubtful pleas, but because they give no heed at all to the orphan's rights. We therefore hold with Raschi that the orphans are subject to this verb: that the orphans might have had prosperity. The plural is explained when we note that יתום is perfectly general, and may be taken as collective. The accusation in this verse shows further that the prophet had the godless rulers and judges of the people in his eye.
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