Jeremiah 9:12
Who is the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD has spoken, that he may declare it, for what the land perishes and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passes 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 In Jeremiah 9:4 these sinful ways are exposed in yet stronger words. יהתל, uncontracted form of the imperf. Hiph. of תּלל, trip up, deceive. On the infin. העוה, cf. Ew. 238, e, and Gesen. 75, Rem. 17. They weary themselves out, put themselves to great labour, in order to deal corruptly; נלאה as in Jeremiah 20:9; Isaiah 16:12, elsewhere to be weary of a thing; cf. Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 15:6. - In Jeremiah 9:5 the statement returns to the point at which it commenced: thy sitting (dwelling) is in the midst of deceit. In deceit, i.e., in the state of their mind, directed as it is by deceit and cheating, they refuse to know me, i.e., they are resolved to have nothing to do with the knowledge of God, because in that case they must give up their godless ways.

(Note: The lxx have not understood שׁכתּך dootsr. They have split it up into שׁב תּך, joined שׁב to נלאוּ, and translated, after adding ולא: καὶ ου ̓ διέλιπον τοῦ ἐπιστρέψαι τόκος ἐπὶ τόκῳ (i.e., usury upon usury) καὶ δόλος ἐπὶ δόλω οὐκ ἤθελον εἰδέναι με. Ew. has adopted this construction, and so translates: "have accustomed their tongue to speak lies, to do perversity, are weary of turning again; wrong upon wrong, deceit upon deceit, they are not willing to know me." But this text is not better, but worse, than the Masoretic: for, 1st, the perverse dealing or action is attributed to the tongue; 2nd, the thought, they are weary of turning again, does not suit the context, since the persons described here have never sought to return or repent, and so cannot have become weary of it. For these reasons, neither Hitz. nor Graf has given countenance to the lxx text.)

By reason of this depravity, the Lord must purge His people by sore judgments. He will melt it in the fire of affliction (Isaiah 48:10), to separate the wicked: cf. Isaiah 1:25; Zechariah 13:9; and on בּחן, Jeremiah 6:27. For how should I do, deal? Not: what dreadful judgments shall I inflict (Hitz., Gr.), in which case the grounding כּי would not have its proper force; but: I can do none otherwise than purge. Before the face of, i.e., by reason of, the daughter, because the daughter of my people behaves herself as has been described in Jeremiah 9:2-4, and as is yet to be briefly repeated in Jeremiah 9:7. The lxx have paraphrased מפּני: ἀπὸ προσώπου πονηρίας. This is true to the sense, but it is unfair to argue from it, as Ew., Hitz., Gr. do, that רעת has been dropped out of the Hebrew text and should be restored. - In Jeremiah 9:7 what has been said is recapitulated shortly, and then in Jeremiah 9:8 the necessity of the judgment is shown. חץ שׁוחט, a slaying, slaughtering, i.e., murderous arrow. Instead of this Chet., which gives a good sense, the Keri gives שׁחוּט, which, judging from the Chald. translation, is probably to be translated sharpened. But there is no evidence for this sig., since שׁחוּט occurs only in connection with זהב, 1 Kings 10:16, and means beaten, lit., spread gold. At מרמה דבּר the plural passes into the singular: he (one of them) speaks; cf. Psalm 55:22. ארב for insidious scheming, as in Hosea 7:6. With Jeremiah 9:8 cf. Jeremiah 5:9, Jeremiah 5:29.

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