For thus has the LORD of hosts said, Hew you down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem: this is the city to be visited; she is wholly oppression in the middle of her.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount.—The words describe graphically the process of an Eastern siege as seen in the Assyrian bas-reliefs (Layard, Mon. of Nineveh, i. 73-76). Compare 2Samuel 20:15; Job 19:12; Isaiah 29:3; Ezekiel 4:2. First the neighbouring country is cleared by cutting down the trees; next, either by piling earth on these as a timber framework, or using the earth alone, a “mount” (or, in later English, a mound) was raised till it reached the level of the wall of the besieged city; and then the assault was made. The law of Israel forbade, it may be noted, this destruction, but apparently only in the case of fruit-trees (Deuteronomy 20:19-20). There is no adequate ground for the marginal rendering, “pour out the engine of shot.”
Is . . . to be visited.—Literally, is visited, in the sense of “punished,” but Hebrew usage gives to the verb so employed a gerundive force. The words admit, however, of the rendering, this is the city; it is proved that wholly oppression is in the midst of her.Jeremiah 6:6-7. For thus hath the Lord of hosts said — To the Chaldeans: God would have the Jews to know, that they have not so much to do with the Chaldeans as with him; that they are his rod to scourge them for their sins. And thus God is said to hiss for, or hist, those whom he would employ in such work, Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 7:18. And he styles himself the Lord of hosts, to show that it is in vain to contend in battle with them whom he sent forth, and would be, as it were, the captain of their hosts. Hew down trees, &c. — That is, to be employed in the siege: see Deuteronomy 20:19, where the same word is used as here. Cast up a mount — Throw up one continued trench, as a mount, round about it. This is the city, &c. — The Hebrew may be literally rendered, She is a city to be visited — That is, a proper object of punishment; the reason of which follows in the next words. As a fountain casteth out her waters, &c. — A metaphor, to express how natural all manner of wickedness was to her, how full she was of it, and how incessant in it. Violence and spoil is heard in her — I hear the continual complaints of those that groan under the oppression that they suffer, being cruelly used and spoiled in her.
Cast a mount - literally, pour: the earth was emptied out of the baskets, in which it was carried to the required spot upon the backs of laborers.
Wholly - Or,
"She "is the city" that is visited:
"Wholly oppression" is "in the midst of her!"
this—pointing the invaders to Jerusalem.
visited—that is, punished.
wholly oppression—or join "wholly" with "visited," that is, she is altogether (in her whole extent) to be punished [Maurer].Said, viz. to the Chaldeans. Here God declares whence they have their commission: q.d. They come not up on their own heads: see Jeremiah 5:14,15. God would have the Jews to know that they have not so much to do with the Chaldeans as with him; that they are his rod to scourge them for their sins, Jeremiah 1:15,16. See 2 Kings 18:25. And thus God is said to hiss for such whom he will employ in such work, Isaiah 5:26 7:18. And he styles himself the Lord of hosts, to show that it is in vain to contend in battle with them, whom he sends forth, and will be, as it were, the captain of their hosts.
Hew ye down trees, Heb. a tree, collectively taken: q.d. Cut them down all as one tree, not sparing their very fruit trees, which indeed were to be spared in such a case, Deu 20:19; either such as lie in the way of your march, or all round about Jerusalem; or such as you may have need of there or elsewhere for your use, either to raise up works against the strong places, Deu 20:20, or to make other instruments of war.
Cast a mount; throw up one continued trench, as a mount round about it. See on Isaiah 37:38. Heb. pour out the engine; of that see 2 Samuel 20:15.
To be visited; God is said to visit sometimes in mercy, Ge 1 24 Zep 2:7, and sometimes in judgment, as here, and Jeremiah 5:9 23:2. They are ripe for it, Ezekiel 7:10-12; see 1 Thessalonians 2:16; and it is decreed against them, and ready to come upon them, chap, 23:12 Hosea 9:7. All attempts have failed, and now there is no remedy. She is wholly oppression; in the abstract, she doth nothing but oppress; there are found in her all kinds of oppression and injustice; a synecdoche for all other cruelties, 2 Kings 24:3,4 Eze 7:23; even in that city which was once full of judgment, and righteousness lodged in it, Isaiah 1:21, swallowed up with oppression.
hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem: in the Hebrew text it is, "pour out a mount" (q); the reason of which is, because there were a ditch or ditches about the city; and into these they poured in stones, and dirt, and trees, and pieces of wood, and so filled them up, and cast up a mount, on which they could raise their batteries, and demolish the walls and houses; hence mention is made of hewing down of trees, in order to cast the mount; for these were to be cut down, not so much to make battering rams, and other instruments of war, as to fill up the ditch, and raise the mount, so that the walls might be more easily battered and scaled: though some (r) interpret it of taking precise, fixed, determined counsel, about the war, and the manner of carrying it:
this is the city to be visited; or punished; not only that deserves to be so visited, but which would certainly be visited, and that immediately; its punishment was not far off; vengeance would soon be taken on it, and that for its sins: and so the Targum,
"this is the city whose sins are visited;''
as it follows:
she is wholly oppression in the midst of her; there were nothing but oppression and oppressors in her; not only full of oppressors, but oppression itself. This is instanced in for all kind of wickedness; the meaning is, that she was a sink of sin, and very wickedness itself.For thus hath the LORD of hosts said, Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem: this is the city to be visited; she is wholly oppression in the midst of her.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. Hew ye down trees] See Deuteronomy 20:20.
trees] mg. her (the city’s) trees.
cast up a mount] Earth was carried in baskets, and poured in a heap, until it was on a level with the walls. The assault was then made. Cp. 2 Kings 19:32; Isaiah 29:3; also Herodotus (I. 162), describing the campaign of Harpagus, a general of Cyrus, in Ionia.
the city to be visited] The expression comes in awkwardly, and MT. is very possibly corrupt. The LXX (reading differently two letters of the Hebrew verb, and so making it lit. the lie), renders, probably rightly, and with the support of Aquila’s Greek Version, O false city!
6–8. The Scythians would not make their approaches to the city in this fashion, while the absence of metre makes us hesitate to take the passage as inserted by the prophet in Jehoiakim’s time, when the Chaldaeans were the enemy expected. Hence it may be of later date.Verse 6. - Hew ye down trees; rather, her trees. Hewing down trees was an ordinary feature of Assyrian and Babylonian expeditions. Thus, Assurnacirpal "caused the forests of all (his enemies) to fall" ('Records of the Past,' 3:40, 77), and Shalmaneser calls himself "the trampler on the heads of mountains and all forests "(Ibid. p. 83; comp. p. 90). The timber was partly required for their palaces and fleets, but also, as the context here suggests, for warlike operations. "Trees," as Professor Rawlinson remarks, "were sometimes cut down and built into the mound" (see next note); they would also be used for the "bulwarks" or siege instruments spoken of in Deuteronomy 20:20. Cast a mount; literally, pour a mount (or "bank," as it is elsewhere rendered), with reference to the emptying of the baskets of earth required for building up the "mount" (mound). Habakkuk (Habakkuk 1:10) says of the Chaldeans, "He laugheth at every stronghold, and heapeth up earth, and taketh it" (comp, also 2 Samuel 20:15; Isaiah 37:33). The intention of the mound was not so much to bring the besiegers on a level with the top of the walls as to enable them to work the battering-rams to better advantage (Rawlinson, 'Ancient Monarchies,' 1:472). She is wholly oppression, etc.; rather, she is the city that is punished; wholly oppression is in the midst of her. Jeremiah 5:29 is a refrain-like repetition of Jeremiah 5:9. - The Jeremiah 5:30 and Jeremiah 5:31 are, as Hitz. rightly says, "a sort of epimetrum added after the conclusion in Jeremiah 5:29," in which the already described moral depravity is briefly characterized, and is asserted of all ranks of the people. Appalling and horrible things happen in the land; cf. Jeremiah 2:12; Jeremiah 23:14; Jeremiah 18:13; Hosea 6:10. The prophets prophesy with falsehood, בּשּׁקר, as in Jeremiah 20:6; Jeremiah 29:9; more fully בּשׁמי לשׁקר, Jeremiah 23:25; Jeremiah 27:15. The priests rule על, at their (the prophets') hands, i.e., under their guidance or direction; cf. 1 Chronicles 25:2., 2 Chronicles 23:18; not: go by their side (Ges., Dietr.), for רדה is not: go, march on, but: trample down. My people loves it so, yields willingly to such a lead; cf. Amos 4:5. What will ye do לאחריתהּ, as to the end of this conduct? The suff. faem. with neuter force. The end thereof will be the judgment; will ye be able to turn it away?
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