Jeremiah 9:12
Who is the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD hath spoken, that he may declare it, for what the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through?
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(12) Who is the wise man . . .?—Sage (comp. Jeremiah 8:9) and prophet are alike called on to state why the misery of which Jeremiah speaks is to come upon the people. But they are asked in vain, and Jehovah, through the prophet, makes answer to Himself.

That none passeth through.—The English is ambiguous. “That” stands either for a relative with “wilderness” as its antecedent, or as a conjunction equivalent to “so that.” Better, and none there is that passeth through.

Jeremiah 9:12-13. Who is the wise man — Or, Is there not a wise man, who understands this? — Is there none of you so well acquainted with the will of God and the methods of his providence, as to be able to declare the reasons why he has given such severe instances of his anger against this land? The question implies, that there are none, or very few, that consider common calamities in the cause of them, but rather impute the divine chastisements to chance, not seeing the hand of God in them. And the Lord saith. Because they have forsaken my law, &c. — Here God himself declares the reasons of his judgments by the mouth of his prophet.

9:12-22 In Zion the voice of joy and praise used to be heard, while the people kept close to God; but sin has altered the sound, it is now the voice of lamentation. Unhumbled hearts lament their calamity, but not their sin, which is the cause of it. Let the doors be shut ever so fast, death steals upon us. It enters the palaces of princes and great men, though stately, strongly built, and guarded. Nor are those more safe that are abroad; death cuts off even the children from without, and the young men from the streets. Hearken to the word of the Lord, and mourn with godly sorrow. This alone can bring true comfort; and it can turn the heaviest afflictions into precious mercies.For what the land perisheth ... - This is the question proposed for consideration. The prophet calls upon the wise man to explain his question; that question being, Wherefore did the land perish? He follows it by the assertion of a fact: "It is parched like the wilderness with no man to pass through."12. Rather, "Who is a wise man? (that is, Whosoever has inspired wisdom, 2Pe 3:15); let him understand this (weigh well the evils impending, and the causes of their being sent); and he to whom the mouth of the Lord hath spoken (that is, whosoever is prophetically inspired), let him declare it to his fellow countrymen," if haply they may be roused to repentance, the only hope of safety. Who is the wise man, that may understand this, viz. the ground of all these evils? q.d. Is there not a wise man among you, that will concern himself and search into the cause of all these threatened judgments, which hath provoked God to so great displeasure? See Hosea 14:9. It is a question that implies there is none, or very few, that consider common calamities in the causes of them; but rather say of judgments, it is a chance, 1 Samuel 6:9.

Who is the wise man that may understand this?.... Not the calamity, but the cause of it; a man of wisdom would inquire into it, find it out, and understand it; but the intimation is, that there was not a wise man among them, at least very few; there were scarce any that took any notice of these things, or were concerned about them:

and who is he to whom the mouth of the Lord hath spoken; and foretold this desolation and destruction; meaning a prophet:

that he may declare it; as from the Lord, namely, what follows:

for what the land perisheth, and is burnt like a wilderness, that none passeth through? that is, what were the sins of the inhabitants of the land, which brought such distress upon it, and for which it became such a ruinous heap, and like the heath in the wilderness, so that it had no inhabitant, nor even a passenger: they must be some very great and abominable iniquities that were the cause of all this.

Who is the {k} wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD hath spoken, that he may declare it, for what the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through?

(k) Meaning that they are all without sense and understanding and that God has taken his spirit from them.

12. Who is the wise man] meaning that there are none such found, with a hint at the would-be wise, the false prophets. Cp. Hosea 14:9, where however there is no suggestion of sarcasm.

12–16. Du. and Gi. consider this passage to be condemned by prosaic wording and the vagueness or absence of metre. Co. thinks it to contain Jeremianic elements, worked up later. It certainly forms a remarkable contrast to the poetical sub-section which follows.

Verse 12. - For what the land perisheth. A closer rendering would be more forcible: Wherefore hath the land perished, is it burned up like the wilderness with none that passeth through Jeremiah 9:12Jerusalem is to become stone-heaps, where only jackals dwell. תּנּים is jackals (canis aureus), in Isaiah 13:22 called איּים from their cry; see on Isa. l.c., and Gesen. thes. s. v. מבּלי יושׁב as in Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 4:7. - That such a judgment will pass over Judah every wise man must see well, and every one enlightened by God is to declare it; for universal apostasy from God and His law cannot but bring down punishment. But such wisdom and such spiritual enlightenment is not found in the infatuated people. This is the idea of Jeremiah 9:11-13. The question: Who is the wise man? etc., reminds us of Hosea 14:9, and is used with a negative force: unhappily there is none so wise as to see this. "This" is explained by the clause, Wherefore doth the land, etc.: this, i.e., the reason why the land is going to destruction. The second clause, "and to whom," etc., is dependent on the מי, which is to be repeated in thought: and who is he that, etc. Jeremiah has the false prophets here in view, who, if they were really illumined by God, if they had the word of God, could not but declare to the people their corruptness, and the consequences which must flow from it. But since none is so wise...Jeremiah proposes to them the question in Jeremiah 9:11, and in Jeremiah 9:12 tells the answer as given by God Himself. Because they have forsaken my law, etc. נתן לפני, to set before; as in Deuteronomy 4:8, so here, of the oral inculcation of the law by the prophets. "Walketh therein" refers to the law. The stubbornness of their heart, as in Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 7:24. After the Baals, Jeremiah 2:23. The relative clause, "which their fathers," etc., refers to both clauses of the verse; אשׁר with a neuter sense: which their fathers have taught them.
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