Jeremiah 9:15
Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.
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(15) Wormwood.—As a plant, probably a species of Artemisia, four species of which are found in Palestine. In Deuteronomy 29:18 it appears as the symbol of moral evil, here of the bitterness of calamity.

Water of gall.—See Note on Jeremiah 8:14.

Jeremiah 9:15-16. I will feed them, &c., with wormwood — See on Deuteronomy 29:18. The word rendered wormwood here, it seems, had better be rendered wolfsbane, as signifying an herb which is not only bitter and nauseous, but also noxious. And give them water of gall to drink — Or juice of hemlock, as some read it; some other herb that is poisonous as well as distasteful. By these expressions is signified not only a scarcity of meat and drink, but the most grievous calamities. I will scatter them also among the heathen — They have been corrupted by their intimacy with heathen idolaters, with whom they mingled themselves, and whose works they learned, and now they shall lose themselves among those through whom they lost their virtue. Whom neither they nor their fathers have known — They set up gods to worship, which they had not known, strange gods, new gods, Deuteronomy 32:17; and now God will scatter them among those people whom they had not known, those with whom they can claim no acquaintance, and from whom therefore they can expect no favour. The nations to the east, beyond the Euphrates and Tigris, seem to be chiefly meant here, whom the Jews knew little or nothing of before they were carried into captivity among them. And from that time to this the Jews have been scattered among those people. They are now also scattered through almost all the nations of the earth; so that this prophecy has received its full accomplishment in the most literal sense; for they have indeed been scattered among those whom neither they nor their fathers had known. And what deserves highly to be remarked is, that among none of these nations have they attained to any share of supreme power, but have always lived among them upon courtesy or sufferance. And I will send a sword after them, &c. — A judgment threatened by Moses in case of their disobedience, Leviticus 26:23, and fulfilled upon several of the Jewish captives in Egypt and elsewhere.

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.I will feed them ... - Rather, I am feeding them. The present participle used here, followed by three verbs in the future, shows that the judgment has beam, of which the successive stages are given in the next clause.

Wormwood - See Deuteronomy 29:18, note, and for "water of gall," Jeremiah 8:14, note.

15. feed—(Jer 8:14; 23:15; Ps 80:5). Even this people: this supplement even shows that it is spoken emphatically, though they be a people that presume to be my peculiar. Wormwood; worms, Dutch Annotations. A plant to purify and cleanse them, say some; but this doth not seem to be spoken in favour to them; therefore rather some poisonous plant, which may agree to any other destructive herb as well as wormwood, and this the Hebrew word doth intimate, to which purpose the

water of gall is mentioned in the next words; both joined together Deu 29:18; possibly the one pointing at their drink, the other at their bread; both metaphorically to be understood, of which see on Jeremiah 8:14.

Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel,.... He calls himself "the Lord God of hosts", of armies above and below, in heaven and in earth, in opposition to Baalim, the idols of the Gentiles; which word signifies "lords"; which, though there be many who are called so, there is but one God, and one Lord, who is God over all, and "the God of Israel"; who had chosen them, and distinguished them by the blessings of his goodness; and yet they had forsaken him, and followed after other gods; by which the eyes of his glory were provoked, and he was determined to chastise them for it:

behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood; that is, with straits or difficulties, as the Septuagint version; with bitter afflictions; such are not joyous, but grievous; which are irksome and disagreeable, as bitter things, and particularly wormwood, are to the taste. The Targum is,

"I will bring tribulation upon them, bitter as wormwood:''

and give them water of gall to drink; meaning either of the entrails of a beast so called, or of the juice of the herb hemlock, as the word is rendered in Hosea 10:4, as Kimchi; or of the poison of a serpent, as Jarchi; and so the Targum,

"and I will give them the cup of cursing to drink as the heads of serpents:''

signifying that their punishment would be very severe, though just.

Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall {m} to drink.

(m) Read Jer 8:14.

15. The coming troubles are likened to wormwood and water of gall.

wormwood] a generic word for the species Artemisia, found chiefly in desert places. Cp. Jeremiah 23:15; Lamentations 3:15; Lamentations 3:19.

water of gall] See on ch. Jeremiah 8:14.

Verse 15. - I will feed them... with wormwood. A figure for the bitter privations of captivity (comp. Lamentations 3:15, "He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood"). Wormwood and gall - i.e., the poppy (Tristram) - are combined again in Deuteronomy 29:17. Jeremiah 9:15The description of the offence is again followed by the threatening of judgment. To feed with wormwood and give gall to drink is a figure for sore and bitter suffering at the overthrow of the kingdom and in exile. The meaning of the suffix in מאכילם is shown by the apposition: this people. On water of gall see Jeremiah 8:14, and for the use of לענה and ראשׁ together see Deuteronomy 29:17. - 'הפיצותים וגו implies a verbal allusion to the words of Deuteronomy 28:64 and Deuteronomy 28:36, cf. Leviticus 26:33. With this latter passage the second clause: I send the sword after them, has a close affinity. The purport of it is: I send the sword after the fugitives, to pursue them into foreign lands and slay them; cf. Jeremiah 42:16; Jeremiah 44:27. Thus it is indicated that those who fled into Egypt would be reached by the sword there and slain. This does not stand in contradiction to what is said in Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 5:18, etc., to the effect that God will not make an utter end of them (Graf's opinion). This appears from Jeremiah 44:27, where those that flee to Egypt are threatened with destruction by famine and sword עד כּלּותי או, while Jeremiah 44:28 continues: but they that have escaped the sword shall return. Hence we see that the terms of the threatening do not imply the extirpation of the people to the last man, but only the extirpation of all the godless, of this wicked people.
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