Speak, Thus said the LORD, Even the carcasses of men shall fall as dung on the open field, and as the handful after the harvestman, and none shall gather them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Speak, Thus saith the Lord.—The abrupt opening indicates a new prediction, coming to him unbidden, which he is constrained to utter as a message from Jehovah.
As the handful.—The reaper gathered into swathes, or small sheaves, what he could hold in his left hand, as he went on cutting with his sickle. These he threw down as they became too big to hold, and they were left strewn on the field till he returned to gather them up into larger sheaves. So should the bodies of the dead be strewn, the prophet says, on the open field, but there should be none to take them up and bury them.
handful … none … gather them—implying that the handful has been so trodden as to be not worth even the poor gleaner's effort to gather it. Or the Eastern custom may be referred to: the reaper cuts the grain and is followed by another who gathers it. This grain shall not be worth gathering. How galling to the pride of the Jews to hear that so shall their carcasses be trodden contemptuously under foot!Speak, Thus saith the Lord; lest they should think these things would never be, cease not to tell them from me that they shall certainly come to pass, viz. what was said before, and what is said now in this verse (these words, Speak, Thus saith the Lord, being best read in a parenthesis).
The carcasses of men, Heb. a carcass of a man, noting here and there a scattered carcass.
Shall fall as dung upon the open field; as Jezebel was, 2 Kings 9:37, exposed to all contempt, strewed up and down on the superficies of the earth, Heb. face of the field, and be offensive by their stench to all that pass by, Jeremiah 44:12.
As the handful after the harvest man; either laid in heaps by death, as the harvestman doth his cocks of hay or sheaves of corn; or rather, they shall be no more regarded than a few scattered ears that drop out of the reaper’s hand, which either lie on the ground, and are eaten by birds, or trod to dirt by beasts; thus God would pour contempt upon them, which must needs be grievous to so proud a people as the Jews were.
None shall gather them; none shall have so much respect to them, or compassion of them, as to afford burial, Jeremiah 8:2.
"prophesy, thus saith the Lord:''
even the carcasses of men shall fall as dung upon the open field; or, "upon the face of the field" (f); this shows the reason why the women are called to mourning, because the men would fall by the sword in the open field, and there lie and rot, and become dung upon it. The Targum is,
"as dung spread upon the face of the field;''
which denotes the great number that should fall, which would cover the face of the field; the condition they should be in; and the contempt and neglect they should be had in:
and as the handful after the harvestman, and none shall gather them; as a handful of corn that is forgot, and left by the harvestman; or as ears of corn which are dropped by the reaper, or binder, and are usually gleaned or gathered up by the poor that follow; but in the case referred to, or supposed, are not gathered; so it would be with these people; they should be left upon the ground, like a handful forgot, or like ears of corn dropped, and not gathered up, and there they should lie, and none should bury them.Speak, Thus saith the LORD, Even the carcases of men shall fall as dung upon the open field, and as the handful after the harvestman, and none shall gather them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. Speak, Thus saith the Lord] The words are not found in LXX and they break the connexion.Verse 22. - Speak, Thus saith the Lord. These words are in three important respects contrary to the style of Jeremiah:
(1) such a prefix as "speak" is unique;
(2). such a phrase as כה נאם is also unique m Jeremiah;
(3) when our prophet does use the formula נאם it is not at the beginning of a verse.
They are omitted by the Septuagint translator, who presumably did not find them in his copy of the Hebrew, and the text gains greatly by their removal. The following words are mistranslated in the Authorized Version, and should run, not even, but and, the carcasses of men shall fall; etc. It is most improbable, however, that a fresh Divine revelation should begin with "and." With other points, the word rendered "speak" would mean "pestilence." Possibly the word fell out of Ver. 21, where it would find an excellent place in the second clause (as an explanatory parallel to "death," as in Psalm 78:50), which would thus obtain greater roundness and symmetry. As the handful; i.e. as thickly as one heap of corn succeeds another under the deft hand of the leaper. Jeremiah 9:16. "Thus hath Jahveh of hosts said: Give heed and call for mourning women, that they may come, and send to the wise women, that they may come, Jeremiah 9:17. And may make haste and strike up a lamentation for us, that our eyes may run down with tears and our eyelids gush out with water. Jeremiah 9:18. For loud lamentation is heard out of Zion: How are we spoiled, sore put to shame! because we have left the land, because they have thrown down our dwellings. Jeremiah 9:19. For year, ye women, the word of Jahve, and let your ear receive the word of His mouth, and teach your daughters lamentation, and let one teach the other the song of mourning! Jeremiah 9:20. For death cometh up by our windows, he entereth into our palaces, to cut off the children from the streets, the young men from the thoroughfares. Jeremiah 9:21. Speak: Thus runs the saying of Jahve: And the carcases of men shall fall as dung upon the field, and as a sheaf behind the shearer, which none gathereth."
In this strophe we have a further account of the execution of the judgment, and a poetical description of the vast harvest death is to have in Zion. The citizens of Zion are called upon to give heed to the state of affairs now in prospect, i.e., the judgment preparing, and are to assemble mourning women that they may strike up a dirge for the dead. התבּונן, to be attentive, give heed to a thing; cf. Jeremiah 2:10. Women cunning in song are to come with speed (תּמהרנה takes the place of an adverb). The form תּבואינה (Psalm 45:16; 1 Samuel 10:7) alternates with תּבואנהּ, the usual form in this verb, e.g., Genesis 30:38; 1 Kings 3:16, etc., in order to produce an alternating form of expression . "For us" Ng. understands of those who call the mourning women, and in it he finds "something unusual," because ordinarily mourners are summoned to lament for those already dead, i.e., others than those who summon them. "But here they are to raise their laments for the very persons who summon them, and for the death of these same, which has yet to happen." There is a misunderstanding at the bottom of this remark. The "for us" is not said of the callers; for these are addressed in the second person. If Ng.'s view were right, it must be "for you," not "for us." True, the lxx has εφ ̓ ὑμᾶς; but Hitz. has rejected this reading as a simplification and weakening expression, and as disturbing the plan. "For us" is used by the people taken collectively, the nation as such, which is to be so sorely afflicted and chastised by death that it is time for the mourning women to raise their dirge, that so the nation may give vent to its grief in tears. We must also take into account, that even although the lamentations were for the dead, they yet chiefly concerned the living, who had been deeply afflicted by the loss of beloved relations; it would not be the dead merely that were mourned for, but the living too, because of their loss. It is this reference that stands here in the foreground, since the purpose of the chanting of dirges is that our eyes may flow with tears, etc. Zion will lament the slain of her people (Jeremiah 8:22), and so the mourning women are to strike up dirges. תּשּׂנה for תּשּׂאנה, as in Ruth 1:14; cf. Ew. 198, b. On the use of ירד and נזל with the accus.: flow down in tears, cf. Gesen. 138, 1, Rem. 2, Ew. 281, b.
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