As a fountain casts out her waters, so she casts out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)As a fountain casteth out her waters.—The English is plain enough, but the Hebrew presents two difficulties: (1) The word rendered “fountain” (better, cistern) is not spelt with the usual vowels, and the etymology of the verb is quite uncertain. It has been rendered, As a cistern “gathers” or “keeps in,” or “keeps its waters cool,” or “lets them flow.” The general meaning is probably given by the Authorised Version. Jerusalem was literally “overflowing” with wickedness.
Grief.—Better, sickness. The word and the imagery are the same as in Isaiah 1:5.
casteth out—causeth to flow; literally, "causeth to dig," the cause being put for the effect (2Ki 21:16, 24; Isa 57:20).
As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness; a metaphor, to express how natural all manner of wickedness is to her, how full she is of it, and how incessant in it, noting her impudence, a fountain being not able to retain its water; and the expression of casting it out seems to imply her violence in her filthiness, as it is said of the sea, that it casteth out mire and dirt, Isaiah 57:20, and favoured by the next clause.
Violence and spoil is heard in her: q.d. This is all she busieth herself about, Jeremiah 20:8. It is the general complaint of her inhabitants.
Before me continually is grief and wounds, viz. that the poor sustain: wherever I go or look, I can hear and see nothing but the sad complaints and grievances of the poor, lamenting over oppression and cruelties that are used against them, Psalm 69:26, this being so expressly against God’s command, Exodus 22:22-24, &c.; Isaiah 3:14,15 Jas 5:4; for this refers rather to their sin than to their sufferings from the enemy, as some would carry it.
so she casteth out her wickedness; this metaphor expresses the multitude of her sins, the frequent and constant commission of them, and the source and spring of them, the corrupt fountain of the heart; see Matthew 12:34,
violence and spoil is heard in her; that is, the cry of those that are oppressed and spoiled is heard, and that by the Lord himself, whose ears are open to the cries of the oppressed, and will avenge them:
before me continually is grief and wounds; the poor, who were grieved and wounded by their oppressors; the Lord was an eye and ear witness of their grievances, and would redress them; nor could their enemies expect to escape his wrath, since they were all known to him; or else the sense is, that because of their violence and spoil of the poor, it was continually before the Lord, in his mind and purpose, and he was just ready to bring upon them, by way of punishment for these things, what would grieve and wound them; so Jarchi interprets it, which Kimchi mentions; and to it the Targum agrees,As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. The cherished wickedness of the people is illustrated by a metaphor.
a well casteth forth] MT. has two readings, well and fountain. In the former water is stored to keep it fresh, in the latter it springs out of the ground. In this application accordingly Jeremiah will mean either (a) that sin is an alien thing which has been introduced into the heart as a supply upon which to draw, or (b) that it is innate there. That he held the latter view might seem to draw support from Jeremiah 13:23, which however is not conclusive (see note there), and the former is to be preferred. It has the support of the LXX, who also agree with the mg. “keepeth fresh,” thus deriving the Hebrew form from a verb quite different in sense but akin in letters to the rare one in MT., which, though found elsewhere (2 Kings 19:24; Isaiah 37:25) only in the sense of digging for water, yet according to Rabbinic interpretation bears also the meaning given in E.VV.
sickness and wounds] disease produced by want, and deeds of violence.Verse 7. - As a fountain casteth out; rather, as a cistern keepeth fresh (literally, cool). The wickedness of Jerusalem is so thoroughly ingrained that it seems to pass into act by a law of nature, just as a cistern cannot help always yielding a supply of cool, fresh water. Violence and spoil; rather, injustice and violence (so Jeremiah 20:8; Amos 3:10; Habakkuk 1:3). Before me, etc.; rather, before my face continually is sickness and wounding. The ear is constantly dinned with the sounds of oppression, and the eye pained with the sight of the bodily sufferings of the victims. The word for" sickness" is applicable to any kind of infirmity (see Isaiah 53:3, 4), but the context clearly limits it here to bodily trouble. Jeremiah 6:1. "Flee, ye sons of Benjamin, out of the midst of Jerusalem, and in Tekoa blow the trumpet, and over Beth-haccerem set up a sign; for evil approaCheth from the north, and great destruction. Jeremiah 6:2. The comely and the delicate - I lay waste the daughter of Zion. Jeremiah 6:3. To her come shepherds with their flocks, pitch their tents about her round about, and devour each his portion. Jeremiah 6:4. Sanctify war against her; arise, let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day declineth; for the shadows of evening lengthen. Jeremiah 6:5. Arise, let us go up by night, and destroy her palaces. Jeremiah 6:6. For thus hath Jahveh of hosts spoken, Hew down wood, and pile up against Jerusalem a rampart; she is the city that is (to be) punished, she is all full of oppression in her midst. Jeremiah 6:7. As a fountain pours forth its water, so pours she forth her wickedness: violence and spoiling is heard in her; before my face continually, wounds and smiting. Jeremiah 6:8. Be warned, Jerusalem, lest my soul tear herself from thee, lest I make thee a waste, a land uninhabited."
In graphic delineation of the enemy's approach against Jerusalem, the prophet calls on the people to flee. As regarded its situation, Jerusalem belonged to the tribe of Benjamin; the boundary between the tribal domain of Judah and Benjamin passed through the valley of Ben-hinnom on the south side of Jerusalem, and then ran northwards to the west of the city (Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16.). The city was inhabited by Judeans and Benjamites, 1 Chronicles 9:2. The summons is addressed to the Benjamites as the prophet's fellow-countrymen. Tekoa lay about two hours' journey southwards from Bethlehem, according to Jerome, on a hill twelve Roman miles south of Jerusalem; see on Joshua 15:59. This town is mentioned because its name admits of a play on the word תּקעוּ. The alarm is given in the country south of Jerusalem, because the enemy is coming from the north, so that the flight will be directed southwards. Beth-haccerem, acc. to Jerome, was a hamlet (vicus) between Jerusalem and Tekoa, qui lingua Syra et Hebraic Bethacharma nominatur, et ipse in monte positus, apparently on what is now called the Frank's Hill, Jebel Fureidis; see on Nehemiah 3:14. משׂאת, the lifting up, that which raises itself up, or is raised; here a lofty beacon or signal, the nature of which is not further made known. The meaning, fire-signal, or ascending column of smoke, cannot be made good from Judges 20:38, Judges 20:40, since there עשׁן is appended; nor from the statements of classical authors (in Ros.), that in time of war bodies of troops stationed in different places made their positions known to one another by masses of rising flame during the night, and by columns of smoke in the day time. As to the last clause, cf. Jeremiah 1:14. "Great destruction," as in Jeremiah 4:6. - In Jeremiah 6:2 the impending judgment is further described. It falls on the daughter of Zion, the capital and its inhabitants, personified as a beautiful and delicately reared woman. נוה, defectively written for נאוה, contracted from נאוה, lovely, beautiful. The words are not vocatives, O fair and delicate, but accusatives made to precede their governing verb absolutely, and are explained by "the daughter of Zion," dependent on "I destroy:" the fair and the delicate, namely, the daughter of Zion, I destroy. דּמה as in Hosea 4:5. The other meaning of this verb, to be like, to resemble, is wholly unsuitable here; and, besides, in this signification it is construed with אל or ל. Ew.'s translation, I mean the daughter of Zion, is not justifiable by the usage of the word, the Piel only, and not the Kal, being capable of this interpretation.
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