Jeremiah 8:18
When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.
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(18) When I would comfort myself . . .—The word translated comfort is not found elsewhere, and has been very differently understood. Taking the words as spoken after a pause, they come as a cry of sorrow following the proclamation of the judgment of Jehovah, Ah, my comfort against sorrow! (mourning for it as dead and gone); my heart is sick within me. The latter phrase is the same as in Isaiah 1:5.

Jeremiah 8:18-19. When I would comfort myself, &c. — “When I would apply comfort to myself, my heart misgives me: I find great reason for my fears, and none for my hopes.” Blaney translates the verse, sorrow is upon me past my remedying; my heart within me is faint. They seem to be the words of the prophet, who had endeavoured to comfort himself in his trouble by acquiescing in the will of God; but the miseries coming on his countrymen continually occurring to his mind in all their horrors and aggravations, deprived him of all comfort, and rendered him inconsolable. Behold the voice of the cry — The bitter cries and lamentations, which methinks I hear; of the daughter of my people — To whose welfare I cannot be indifferent; because of them that dwell in a far country — Namely, their enemies the Chaldeans, who were coming against them. But the words may be rendered more agreeably to the Hebrew thus, The voice of the cry of the daughter of my people from a land afar off. Compare Isaiah 33:17, where the phrase in the original, ארצ מרחקים, is the same. Thus interpreted, the words express the doleful complaints of the Jews in their state of captivity, as if God had quite forsaken and disowned them. In this light many commentators understand the prophet. He “anticipates,” says Blaney, “in his imagination, the captivity of his countrymen in Babylon, a far country; and represents them there as asking, with a mixture of grief and astonishment, if there was no such being as JEHOVAH, who presided in Zion, that he so neglected his people, and suffered them to continue in such a wretched plight. Upon this complaint of theirs, God justly breaks in with a question on his part, and demands why, if they acknowledged such a protector as himself, they had deserted his service, and by going over to idols, with which they had no natural connection, had forfeited all title to his favour.” Why have they provoked me to anger? — Some translators, to render the sense more evident, supply here the words, saith God; for it is evident that it is God, and not the prophet, who speaks here, telling them that their sins were the cause of his forsaking them; and that as they provoked him to anger by their idolatries, so he would no longer defend them.

8:14-22 At length they begin to see the hand of God lifted up. And when God appears against us, every thing that is against us appears formidable. As salvation only can be found in the Lord, so the present moment should be seized. Is there no medicine proper for a sick and dying kingdom? Is there no skilful, faithful hand to apply the medicine? Yes, God is able to help and to heal them. If sinners die of their wounds, their blood is upon their own heads. The blood of Christ is balm in Gilead, his Spirit is the Physician there, all-sufficient; so that the people may be healed, but will not. Thus men die unpardoned and unchanged, for they will not come to Christ to be saved.Rather, "O my comfort in sorrow: my heart faints for me." The word translated "comfort" is by some supposed to be corrupt. With these mournful ejaculations a new strophe begins, ending with Jeremiah 9:1, in which the prophet mourns over the miserable fate of his countrymen, among whom he had been earnestly laboring, but all in vain. 18. (Isa 22:4). The lamentation of the prophet for the impending calamity of his country.

against sorrow—or, with respect to sorrow. Maurer translates, "Oh, my exhilaration as to sorrow!" that is, "Oh, that exhilaration ('comfort', from an Arabic root, to shine as the rising sun) would shine upon me as to my sorrow!"

in me—within me.

The language of the people, being long shut up in their cities, and finding no relief, at last faint, Lamentations 4:17. But more probably the prophet now seems to speak his own resentments, how greatly the calamity of his people did affect him; the like Isaiah 22:4: when he would sometimes refresh himself with the comfortable refreshments of nature, the thoughts of his people’s misery do so afflict him, that his heart is ready to faint, to sink within him.

When I would comfort myself against terror,.... Either naturally, by eating and drinking, the necessary and lawful means of refreshment; or spiritually, by reading the word of God, and looking over the promises in it:

my heart is faint in me; at the consideration of the calamities which were coming upon his people, and which were made known to him by a spirit of prophecy, of which he had no room to doubt. So the Targum takes them to be the words of the prophet, paraphrasing them,

"for them, saith the prophet, my heart grieves.''

When I would {n} comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.

(n) Read Jer 4:19.

18. Oh that I could comfort myself] lit. brighten myself. The Hebrew verb occurs here only, but is found in Arabic in this sense. See further in Dr., p. 352.

Verse 18 - Jeremiah 9. 50. - The captivity of Judah and the deep sorrow of Jeremiah. Verse 18. - When I would comfort myself, etc. The text is here extremely difficult, and if there is corruption anywhere it is in the opening of this verse. Ewald and Graf suppose an ellipsis, and render, "(Oh for) my enlivening [i.e. an enlivening for me] in trouble!" Hitzig more naturally renders in the vocative, "My enlivener in trouble" which he supposes to be in apposition to my heart. Do Dieu (1648) wavers between this and the view that it is an address to his wife, "Quae marito solatio est." (See, however, Jeremiah 16:2.) Jeremiah 8:18The hopeless ruin of his people cuts the prophet to the very heart. In Jeremiah 8:18 -23 his sore oppressed heart finds itself vent in bitter lamentations. Oh my comfort in sorrow! is the cry of sore affliction. This may be seen from the second half of the verse, the sense of which is clear: sick (faint) is my heart upon me. עלי shows that the sickness of heart is a sore burden on him, crushes him down; cf. Ew. 217, i. "My comfort" is accordingly vocative: Oh my comfort concerning the sorrow! Usually מי יתּן is supplied: Oh that I had, that there were for me comfort! The sense suits, but the ellipse is without parallel. It is simpler to take the words as an exclamation: the special force of it, that he knows not when to seek comfort, may be gathered from the context. For other far-fetched explanations, see in Ros. ad h. l. The grief which cuts so deeply into his heart that he sighs for relief, is caused by his already hearing in spirit the mourning cry of his people as they go away into captivity.
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