Jeremiah 6:4
Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out.
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(4) Prepare ye war.—Literally, Sanctify. The opening of the battle was accompanied by sacrifices, divinations, and prayers. Compare Deuteronomy 20:1-3 for the practice of the Israelites, and Ezekiel 21:20-22 for that of the Chaldæans, which was, of course, present to Jeremiah’s mind. The cry thus given with dramatic force comes from the soldiers of the invading army impatient for the fight. They are so eager that, instead of resting at noon, as usual, for their mid-day meal, they would fain press on for the assault. Their orders are against this, and, as the shadows lengthen, they raise their cry of complaint, “Alas for us, the day declines . . .” Then, impatient still, unwilling to wait, as their commanders bid them, for an attack at day-break, they shout, “Let us go by night.”

Jeremiah 6:4-5. Prepare ye war against her — The prophet now drops the metaphor, and tells them in plain terms whom he means by the shepherds namely, warriors. These seem to be the words of God giving a commission to the Chaldeans, by his prophet, to make war upon Jerusalem. Arise, and let us go up at noon, &c. — “The alacrity and eagerness with which the Chaldeans should undertake and execute the commission with which they were charged, are described in these and the following words in a beautiful vein of poetry. Though it was late in the day before they received their orders, they are for beginning their march immediately and though it was night before they got to the place, they are unwilling to put off the assault till morning.” — Blaney. Let us destroy her palaces — And make ourselves masters of the wealth contained in them. This was the motive that influenced them, and produced such eagerness. The end they had in view was not that they might fulfil God’s counsels; but that they might enjoy the spoils of all the stately palaces and rich houses of the nobles and great ones: hereby, however, God served his own purposes.

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.Prepare ye war - Rather, Sanctify ye war against her. War in ancient times was never undertaken without religions solemnities (see Deuteronomy 20:2 note). For some of these compare Ezekiel 21:21-23.

At noon - The mid-day heat is so great in the East as to be usually passed under shelter 2 Samuel 4:5; Sol 1:7. The morning-march of an army was made fasting, and was usually over by eight or nine. But so great is the impatience of the Chaldeans for the assault that they cry, "we will make the assault at noon!"

Woe unto us! - Or,

Alas for us! "for the day" has turned

For the evening shadows are lengthening!

4, 5. The invading soldiers encourage one another to the attack on Jerusalem.

Prepare—literally, "Sanctify" war, that is, Proclaim it formally with solemn rites; the invasion was solemnly ordered by God (compare Isa 13:3).

at noon—the hottest part of the day when attacks were rarely made (Jer 15:8; 20:16). Even at this time they wished to attack, such is their eagerness.

Woe unto us—The words of the invaders, mourning the approach of night which would suspend their hostile operations; still, even in spite of the darkness, at night they renew the attack (Jer 6:5).

Prepare ye war against her: the prophet now passeth from his metaphor to tell them plainly what he means by the shepherds, viz. warriors: some make these the words of the Chaldeans, making preparations for their invasion, and it may be by some of their accustomed rites that they used before war; but they seem more probably to be the words of God inviting them, and calling them into this work, therefore in the Hebrew it is, Sanctify war against her, Jeremiah 22:7; he speaks unto such as he had sanctified or set apart for this work, his sanctified ones, Isaiah 13:3.

Arise, and let us go up at noon: this shows how ready they will be to obey God’s call; the like we read Isaiah 21:5; and therefore they are said to go or march up at noon, not only to note their daringness, as needing no stratagems, or strength, or needing to stay for help, but rather to show their forwardness to march on without stop or stay; they would not burn daylight, but be speedy in their work, and they would take the first opportunity, whether morning or noon, day or night, as the next verse. The next words seem to strengthen this sense; Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, &c.: q.d. We delay, and tarry too long, and the day spends apace, we lose time, let us make haste about our work; expressing their greediness after their prey, as soldiers use to do: or this

Woe unto us may be some form of imprecation, either against God or men, which kind of speeches are usual with soldiers when they are chafed, and going upon some sudden onset or exploit; though not a few make it the complaint of the prophet in the name of the people, foreseeing how their night of affliction hasted on, their joyful days being as it were gone, Amos 8:9,10. But the former seems best to agree with the scope.

The shadows of the evening are stretched out; they were so eagerly set upon it, that they watched the very lengthening of the shadow, which shows the approach of the evening, Psalm 109:23. See Habakkuk 1:8.

Prepare ye war against her,.... Not only proclaim it, but prepare themselves for it; get everything ready for the siege, and begin it. These are either the words of the Lord, calling upon the Chaldeans in his providence to act such a part against Jerusalem; or of the Chaldeans themselves, stirring up one another to it; which latter seems to be the sense; since it follows:

arise, and let us go up at noon; scale the walls, and take the city; which, though in the heat of the day, and not so proper a time, yet such was the eagerness of the army, and their confidence of carrying the place at once; and concluding there was no need of waiting till the evening, or of taking any secret measures for the siege; they propose to go up at noon, in the heat of the day, and in the sight of their enemies, and storm the city:

woe unto us, for the day goes away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out; which some take to be the words of the besiegers, lamenting they had lost time, had not proceeded according to their first purpose, had neglected going up at noontime, and now the evening was coming upon them; or as being angry, and out of humour, that the city was not taken by them so soon as they expected: though, according to Kimchi, they are the words of the prophet; and he may represent the besieged, mourning over their unhappy case and circumstances; the day of prosperity declining, and nothing but darkness and distress coming upon them.

{f} Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe to us! for the day departeth, for the shadows of the evening are lengthened.

(f) He speaks this in the person of the Babylonians, who complain that the time fails them before they have brought their enterprises to pass.

4. Prepare] lit. as mg. Sanctify. Cp. Jeremiah 51:27 f.; so Isaiah 13:3, “my consecrated ones,” said of the armies summoned to destroy Babylon. The entering upon war was looked upon as a solemn religious act, and was accompanied by corresponding ceremonies. See Deuteronomy 20:2 ff., and cp. Ezekiel 21:21 ff.

at noon] Cp. Jeremiah 15:8, Jeremiah 20:16; Zephaniah 2:4. The enemy in their eagerness are prepared to brave the full power of the sun’s rays. But the time has slipped by. The shadows lengthen.

Verse 4. - Prepare ye war; literally, sanctify (or, consecrate) war. The foes are dramatically described as urging each other on at the different stages of the campaign. The war is to be opened with sacrifices (comp. Isaiah 13:3 with 1 Samuel 13:9); next there is a forced march, so as to take the city by storm, when the vigilance of its defenders is relaxed in the fierce noontide heat (comp. Jeremiah 15:8); evening surprises the foe still on the way, but they press steadily on, to do their work of destruction by night. The rapidity of the marches of the Chaldeans impressed another prophet of the reign of Josiah - Habakkuk (see Habakkuk 1:6, 8). Woe unto us! for the day goeth away; rather, Alas for us! for the day hath turned. Jeremiah 6:4The description passes from figure to reality, and the enemies appear before us as speaking, inciting one another to the combat, encouraging one another to storm the city. To sanctify a war, i.e., prepare themselves for the war by religious consecration, inasmuch as the war was undertaken under commission from God, and because the departure of the army, like the combat itself, was consecrated by sacrifice and other religious ceremonies; see on Joel 3:9. עלה, to go up against a place as an enemy, not, go up upon, in which case the object, them (the city or walls), could not be omitted. It is plainly the storming or capture of the town that is meant by the going up; hence we may understand what follows: and we will destroy her palaces. We have a rousing call to go up at noon or in clear daylight, joined with "woe to us," a cry of disappointment that they will not be able to gain their ends so soon, not indeed till night; in these we see the great eagerness with which they carry on the assault. יום פּנה, the day turns itself, declines towards its end; cf. Psalm 90:9. The enemies act under a commission from God, who has imposed on them the labour of the siege, in order to punish Jerusalem for her sins. Jahveh is here most fittingly called the God of hosts; for as God of the world, obeyed by the armies of heaven, He commands the kings of the earth to chastise His people. Hew wood, i.e., fell trees for making the siege works, cf. Deuteronomy 20:20, both for raising the attacking ramparts,

(Note: Agger ex terra lignisque attollitur contra murum, de quo tela jactantur. Veget. de re milit. iv. 15.)

and for the entire apparatus necessary for storming the town. עצה is not a collective form from עץ, like דּגה from דּג; but the ה is a suffix in spite of the omission of the Mappik, which is given by but a few of the codd., eastern and western, for we know that Mappik is sometimes omitted, e.g., Numbers 15:28, Numbers 15:31; cf. Ew. 247, d. We are encouraged to take it so by Deuteronomy 20:19, where עצה are the trees in the vicinity of the town, of which only the fruit trees were to be spared in case of siege, while those which did not bear eatable fruit were to be made use of for the purposes of the siege. And thus we must here, too, read עצה, and refer the suffix to the next noun (Jerusalem). On "pile up a rampart," cf. 2 Samuel 20:5; Ezekiel 4:2, etc. הפקד is used as passive of Kal, and impersonally. The connection with העיר is to be taken like חנה in Isaiah 29:1 : the city where it is punished, or perhaps like Psalm 59:6, the relative being supplied: that is punished. כּלּהּ is not to be joined, contrary to the accents, with הפקד (Ven., J. D. Mich.), a connection which, even if it were legitimate, would give but a feeble thought. It belongs to what follows, "she is wholly oppression in her midst," i.e., on all sides in her there is oppression. This is expanded in Jeremiah 6:7. lxx and Jerome have taken הקיר from קרר, and translate: like as a cistern keeps its water cool (ψύχει, frigidam facit), so she keeps her wickedness cool. Hitz. has pronounced in favour of this interpretation, but changes "keep cool" into "keep fresh," and understands the metaphor thus: they take good care that their wickedness does not stagnate or become impaired by disuse. But it would be a strange metaphor to put "keep wickedness cool," for "maintain it in strength and vigour." We therefore, along with Luth. and most commentators, prefer the rabbinical interpretation: as a well makes its water to gush out, etc.; for there is no sufficient force in the objection that מקור from קוּר, dig, is not a spring but a well, that הקיר has still less the force of making to gush forth, and that בּור wholly excludes the idea of causing to spring out. The first assertion is refuted by Jeremiah 2:13, מקור, fountain of living water; whence it is clear that the word does mean a well fed by a spring. It is true, indeed, that the word בּור, a later way of writing בּאר (cf. 1 Chronicles 11:17. 22 with 2 Samuel 23:15. 20), means usually, a pit, a cistern dug out; but this form is not substantially different from בּאר, well, puteus, which is used for בּור in Psalm 55:24 and Psalm 69:16. Accordingly, this latter form can undoubtedly stand with the force of בּאר, as has been admitted by the Masoretes when they substituted for it בּאר; cf. the Arab. bi'run. The noun מקור puts beyond doubt the legitimacy of giving to הקיר, from קוּר, to dig a well, the signification of making water to gush forth.

The form הקרה is indeed referable to קרר, but only shows, as is otherwise well known, that no very strict line of demarcation can be drawn between the forms of verbs 'עע and 'הקיר ;עו, again, is formed regularly from קוּר. Violence and spoiling; cf. Jeremiah 20:8, and Amos 3:10; Habakkuk 1:3. "Before my face," before mine eyes, corresponds to "is heard," as wounds and smitings are the consequences of violence. On that head, cf. Psalm 55:10-12.

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