Matthew Poole's Commentary
O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.God sendeth and strengtheneth the Babylonians against Judah, Jeremiah 6:1-5; for her oppression and spoils, Jeremiah 6:6-8, and obstinacy; which provoke God’s wrath and their destruction, Jeremiah 6:9-12. Their covetousness, false confidence, and impudence; people and priests refuse to obey God, Jeremiah 6:13-17. Their hypocritical worship shall not prevent their sure destruction, Jeremiah 6:18-25. The people called to mourn, Jeremiah 6:26. The prophet encouraged under their wickedness and the fruitlessness of his ministry among them, Jeremiah 6:27-30.
Children of Benjamin: he means either the inhabitants of Jerusalem, because part of it stood in the lot of Benjamin, Joshua 18:28; or else he means all Judah, because when the ten tribes fell off, the tribe of Benjamin adhered to Judah, and was incorporated into them. If it be asked why the prophet rather speaks here to Benjamin than to Judah, the reason probably may be, because he being of Anathoth was of that tribe, and therefore mentions them as his own countrymen.
Gather yourselves to flee; spoken either ironically, that they should set themselves in array, and make head against the enemy, that is now at hand; or rather, that they should flee away together at once, make haste out of Jerusalem in troops, as the next expressions intimate; not counselling them what they should do, viz. for succour, Jeremiah 4:5,6, but rather telling them what they must expect, viz. to be forced to flee out of it, if they may escape.
Blow the trumpet in Tekoa: q.d. Gather yourselves together by the sound of the trumpet at Tekoa, possibly alluding to the name, which signifies trumpeting; or rather, it being one of those fenced cities twelve miles from Jerusalem that Rehoboam built, and made exceeding strong for and with his warlike provisions, 2 Chronicles 11:6,11,12, and being built upon the advantage of a hill toward the north of Judea in the way that the Babylonians were to come, q.d. There furnish yourselves out of that armoury, and see if you can make head against them: an irony. A place noted in Scripture, where dwelt that Tekoitish woman that interceded with David for Absalom by the subornation of Joab, 2 Samuel 14:2; and also for the herdsmen of whom Amos was, Amos 1:1, and (it is probable) a place where in time of danger their were wont, by the sound of the trumpet, to summon the people together.
Setup a sign of fire: the word used is of very large extent; maset is used for any thing that is lifted up, neither is there any more in the text. The LXX also render it only a sign and the sign of fire possibly is mentioned rather than any other, by a metonymy of the subject, because, partly in time of danger of invasion it is the most usual and commodious sign, being seen, in regard of its lifting or raising up of itself, at once afar off; q.d. fire a beacon; and a sign whereby the Benjamites themselves once found they were surprised, Judges 20:38,402. It is a sign soonest given of any.
3. Possibly as being a more proper sign than any other would be to the vine-dressers, that they should secure themselves in some safe place, which seems to be pointed at by the next word, Beth-haccerem. It signifies the house of the vineyard, probably some high tower built among the vineyards for the keeper or keepers of them to watch them, that no damage came to them, this seeming to be usual, Isaiah 5:2. Or it may be the name of a town, such a one as some report to lie between Jerusalem and Tekoa, the same mentioned Nehemiah 3:14, though that seems to be adjoining to Jerusalem. Whichsoever it be, it is probable it relates to some place noted for vineyards, which were wont to be planted upon hills, and lying in the way that the Chaldeans were to come; and by these two we are to understand all other places that lie in that coast. Evil appeareth out of the north; that they may know whence their misery will come, he doth as it were point it out with the finger: see Jeremiah 1:14 4:6.
I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.Woman: this supplement is not in the text; they that approve it render the epithet comely variously, for one dwelling at home, as the Hebrew nays doth also signify, Habakkuk 2:5; and so the word delicate serves to explain it, as showing the reason of her tarrying at home; not as a good housewife, discreetly guiding and governing her affairs at home, as she is described, Proverbs 31:10, &c.; Titus 2:5; but through her delicacy exposing herself to all wantonness and voluptuousness, tarrying at home to give entertainment to her paramours: or she, through her state and pride, is so delicate and nice that she will not set her foot out of door, Deu 28:56; possibly occasioned by the great wealth and riches that God had blessed Jerusalem with. This may also point at Judah’s effeminacy, that will be so dispirited as not to have courage to oppose the adversary, but easily taken in her dwelling and habitation. Others, as a beautiful shepherdess. Some there are that rather choose to supply the defect by the word land or pasture, as being that which is greatly desirable by shepherds, as if she were some comely shepherdess, solacing herself in her delightful pastures: see Ezekiel 34:14; and so it may not be without some allusion to the next verse, where her enemies are. called by the names of shepherds, as being enticed by the pleasantness of her land.
The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place.The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her: the prophet here proceeds in his metaphor, and possibly the rather, because he chooseth to speak in the style of his own education, which may also give some countenance to the supplement of pasture or land in the former verse instead of woman: the meaning is, the Chaldean princes, with their armies, as so many flocks, shall come into this pleasant land; see Jeremiah 12:10; in which expression there is something of a scoff, as Jeremiah 4:16,17.
They shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall so place their warlike tents, as to form a siege to begirt her round, Jeremiah 1:15 Ezekiel 4:2.
Every one in his place, Heb. hand, i.e. near hand, or beside or near one another; thus 2 Chronicles 21:16 Job 1:14: thus hand is taken for place; i.e. each one in his quarter or station, not a man but shall do his part, and shall be skilful and powerful to destroy wherever he comes: it intimates also that every thing shall be so much at the enemy’s own disposal, that they shall be able to choose their own quarters; they shall place their army in wings, and troops, and regiments, as they see good, to their best advantage, to be helpful one unto another, as shepherds are wont to do their flocks; or, they shall fight in several parties, and each destroy his part assigned him through the whole country, and they shall join as it were in one body against Jerusalem.
Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out.Prepare ye war against her: the prophet now passeth from his metaphor to tell them plainly what he means by the shepherds, viz. warriors: some make these the words of the Chaldeans, making preparations for their invasion, and it may be by some of their accustomed rites that they used before war; but they seem more probably to be the words of God inviting them, and calling them into this work, therefore in the Hebrew it is, Sanctify war against her, Jeremiah 22:7; he speaks unto such as he had sanctified or set apart for this work, his sanctified ones, Isaiah 13:3.
Arise, and let us go up at noon: this shows how ready they will be to obey God’s call; the like we read Isaiah 21:5; and therefore they are said to go or march up at noon, not only to note their daringness, as needing no stratagems, or strength, or needing to stay for help, but rather to show their forwardness to march on without stop or stay; they would not burn daylight, but be speedy in their work, and they would take the first opportunity, whether morning or noon, day or night, as the next verse. The next words seem to strengthen this sense; Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, &c.: q.d. We delay, and tarry too long, and the day spends apace, we lose time, let us make haste about our work; expressing their greediness after their prey, as soldiers use to do: or this
Woe unto us may be some form of imprecation, either against God or men, which kind of speeches are usual with soldiers when they are chafed, and going upon some sudden onset or exploit; though not a few make it the complaint of the prophet in the name of the people, foreseeing how their night of affliction hasted on, their joyful days being as it were gone, Amos 8:9,10. But the former seems best to agree with the scope.
The shadows of the evening are stretched out; they were so eagerly set upon it, that they watched the very lengthening of the shadow, which shows the approach of the evening, Psalm 109:23. See Habakkuk 1:8.
Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces.Let us go by night, or, this night. They were set upon it, they would lose neither day nor night; which shows that they were extraordinarily stirred up by God in this expedition.
Let us destroy her palaces: this was the bait or motive that they propounded to themselves, viz. to have the spoil of all the stately palaces and rich houses of the nobles and great ones.
For thus hath the LORD of hosts said, Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem: this is the city to be visited; she is wholly oppression in the midst of her.Said, viz. to the Chaldeans. Here God declares whence they have their commission: q.d. They come not up on their own heads: see Jeremiah 5:14,15. God would have the Jews to know that they have not so much to do with the Chaldeans as with him; that they are his rod to scourge them for their sins, Jeremiah 1:15,16. See 2 Kings 18:25. And thus God is said to hiss for such whom he will employ in such work, Isaiah 5:26 7:18. And he styles himself the Lord of hosts, to show that it is in vain to contend in battle with them, whom he sends forth, and will be, as it were, the captain of their hosts.
Hew ye down trees, Heb. a tree, collectively taken: q.d. Cut them down all as one tree, not sparing their very fruit trees, which indeed were to be spared in such a case, Deu 20:19; either such as lie in the way of your march, or all round about Jerusalem; or such as you may have need of there or elsewhere for your use, either to raise up works against the strong places, Deu 20:20, or to make other instruments of war.
Cast a mount; throw up one continued trench, as a mount round about it. See on Isaiah 37:38. Heb. pour out the engine; of that see 2 Samuel 20:15.
To be visited; God is said to visit sometimes in mercy, Ge 1 24 Zep 2:7, and sometimes in judgment, as here, and Jeremiah 5:9 23:2. They are ripe for it, Ezekiel 7:10-12; see 1 Thessalonians 2:16; and it is decreed against them, and ready to come upon them, chap, 23:12 Hosea 9:7. All attempts have failed, and now there is no remedy. She is wholly oppression; in the abstract, she doth nothing but oppress; there are found in her all kinds of oppression and injustice; a synecdoche for all other cruelties, 2 Kings 24:3,4 Eze 7:23; even in that city which was once full of judgment, and righteousness lodged in it, Isaiah 1:21, swallowed up with oppression.
As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds.In this verse God aggravates their sin of oppression, mentioned in the former.
As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness; a metaphor, to express how natural all manner of wickedness is to her, how full she is of it, and how incessant in it, noting her impudence, a fountain being not able to retain its water; and the expression of casting it out seems to imply her violence in her filthiness, as it is said of the sea, that it casteth out mire and dirt, Isaiah 57:20, and favoured by the next clause.
Violence and spoil is heard in her: q.d. This is all she busieth herself about, Jeremiah 20:8. It is the general complaint of her inhabitants.
Before me continually is grief and wounds, viz. that the poor sustain: wherever I go or look, I can hear and see nothing but the sad complaints and grievances of the poor, lamenting over oppression and cruelties that are used against them, Psalm 69:26, this being so expressly against God’s command, Exodus 22:22-24, &c.; Isaiah 3:14,15 Jas 5:4; for this refers rather to their sin than to their sufferings from the enemy, as some would carry it.
Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.Be thou instructed, Heb. corrected: q.d. By the correction thou hast felt, and what is threatened, be persuaded to repentance before it be too late, Proverbs 29:15. God doth here
in the midst of judgment remember mercy, as it were suddenly putting a stop to his fury, seeking if by any means it may yet be prevented by their repentance: q.d. I would yet willingly spare them, if it might be.
Lest my soul depart from thee, Heb. be disjointed; a most emphatical metaphor, whereby God would express how great grief it is to him to withdraw himself from them, could it possibly be avoided, (his great affection to them being here expressed by soul, which is the seat of it, Psalm 42:1,2) even like the separating one limb from another: hereby is intimated the near communion that God hath with the faithful, and how ready he is to return, if they will return.
Lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited; lest he make them not a people.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grapegatherer into the baskets.Though gleaning be a term proper for all kind of harvest, yet the word used here is appropriated to the vintage, and implies the thorough riddance that the Chaldeans shall make, contrary to the law for gathering the vintage, though it may seem to allude to it, Leviticus 19:10. Judah shall be gleaned over and over, till there be a full end, none left; as the Israelites gleaned the Benjamites, Judges 20:45; for thus they picked them up at several times, both before, 2 Kings 24:2, and also at thee time of Zedekiah’s reign, 2 Kings 25:6,7,11,15,19; and this seems to be intimated in the next words. See Habakkuk 1:9.
Turn back thine hand; as much as to say, they should not be content with one spoiling, but they should go back a second and a third time, again and again, to carry away both persons and spoil, leaving nothing behind them worth carrying away, Jeremiah 52:28-30; the first carrying away being as the vintage, the second the gleaning; carrying away first the principal, and afterwards the more inferior sort.
As a grape gatherer into the baskets; as the grapegatherers do, filling one basket after another. Whether these be the words of the Babylonians calling upon and stirring up one another to do it, as some; or the words of God to the Babylonians, as most; it comes much to the same thing; for what they did; as by God’s commission.
To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.Give warning, Heb. make protestation; noting with what earnestness the prophet would bespeak them in his warning of them: see Jeremiah 11:7. The prophet taking notice of their obstinacy, speaks as one astonished, and highly makes complaint, being greatly grieved that he can find none that will take warning; the like Jeremiah 7:23,24; he labours to persuade, but all is in vain; they turn a deaf ear to him, as the next expression intimates.
Their ear is uncircumcised; a figurative kind of speech frequent with the prophets: an uncircumcised ear signifying the rejecting of instruction; an uncircumcised heart, an obstinate and rebellious will: hence circumcision was for a testimony of obedience; and therefore the prophet doth tacitly insinuate their falseness to God, to whom they had promised to be obedient, 2 Kings 11:17 23:3. And the Scripture calls those that are void of the fear of God, and carried out to all manner of lusts, uncircumcised, Ezekiel 44:7,9; for uncircumcision was abominable among the Jews; so that it notes both their sin and their shame, their ear being stopped, unfit for hearing, as if it were with a foreskin or film over it, Acts 7:51.
They cannot hearken: the prophet doth not here lessen their crimes by their inability and want of power, but rather aggravates it, inasmuch as they had brought themselves under that incapacity by their obstinacy and willfulness; as a drunken man that hath deprived himself of his reason by excess, renders the want of his understanding the more inexcusable.
A reproach; either they reproach it in the messenger’s mouth, Luke 11:45, or rather they laugh at it and scorn it, they cannot bear counsel, they look upon reproving them to be reproaching them; they take no delight in hearing such things: a further reason of their impotency and obstinacy; all their admonitions and instructions seemed insipid, and therefore were they so stupid, according to the next words, Proverbs 15:12. See Jeremiah 5:31 2 Timothy 4:3.
Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days.Therefore. Heb. And; which seems to be a better connexion; for that which putteth him upon this work seems rather to be that Spirit of prophecy that is in him than any consideration drawn from them.
I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am, as it were, filled with the fire of God’s wrath and curses against this people, which I am forced to discharge myself of; a metonymy of the subject. See Ezekiel 3:3 Jeremiah 4:19. He doth not only complain of their stupidity, as in the former verse, but stirs up his indignation against them.
I am weary with holding in; but he can contain himself no longer, which implies his great unwillingness to denounce these curses: q.d. The wrath of God, by the impulse of his Spirit, acting so violently with mine, that it will break out: see the like Job 32:18,19. Whereby it appears the prophet is not carried on by his own private spirit, but by the Spirit of God; he hath no delight in it, but is forced to be the messenger himself of his wrath; therefore if he be sharp against them, they must not impute; it to him, but to the Spirit of God, that constrains him thus to speak.
I will pour it out, viz. in prophesying, noting the great plenty of it; a metaphor from violent rains, that we say do pour down upon the earth, Jeremiah 7:20 Revelation 16:1.
Upon the children abroad; the streets being the places where usually little children are wont to sport themselves, Zechariah 8:5. The same word used Psalm 8:2.
Upon the assembly of young men together; their secret meetings, whether in harlots’ houses, Jeremiah 5:7, or for mirth and jollity, or to join either their strength or counsel together, which children are not capable of; for the Hebrews do not only call them youths that are past their childhood, possibly at fifteen or sixteen years of age, but men of twenty or thirty, grown to their full strength and maturity, in the flower of their years; yet it shall advantage them nothing.
The husband with the wife, Heb. man with woman; the wife shall be taken as well as the husband, one sex as well as the other shall be a prey to the enemy.
The aged with him that is full of days; not only men that may be termed old, as they may be from fifty to eighty, which are then said to be waxing old; but such as had upon the point filled up the number of their days, at the edge of the grave, Isaiah 65:20, called very aged, as Barzillai, 2 Samuel 19:32,34,35. The sense is, that all sorts, from the children to the decrepit old man, had so corrupted their ways, see Jeremiah 6:13, that their condition was desperate, and God would bring an enemy upon them should spare or pity none, of what sex or age soever.
And their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD.Their houses shall be turned unto others, i.e. their houses and their lands shall be devolved or turned over to strangers, Jeremiah 8:10, even that land which they thought had been entailed upon them, and they so firmly fixed in for ever, Psalm 132:13,14.
Their wives; their most desirable things; howbeit it need not be restrained precisely to wives, the Hebrew signifying women largely, Jeremiah 7:18, comprising
maids, wives, or concubines, and this according to the threatening, Deu 28:30 Jeremiah 8:10.
I will stretch out my hand, viz. to smite, to give you a sorer blow, Isaiah 5:25; a synecdoche of the kind, spoken after the manner of men. Here the prophet gives them the reason of this their unexpected calamity, that they might not think it an impossibility; namely, because God was become their enemy.
For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.From the least of them; not respecting so much their age as degree and quality, poor and rich; the prophet notes the generality of their corruption as the reason of God’s severity against them, as Jeremiah 6:6; observing also that it was even among the greatest, who ought to have given better examples, no soundness from head to foot.
Covetousness; in which possibly all their wickednesses, as cruelty, oppression, injustice, &c., may be comprised, it being the root of all evil, 1 Timothy 6:10, and may also speak the justice of God, in the Chaldeans taking them and all their substance away, that had by violence and fraud wrested it from others, Micah 2:2.
Dealeth falsely, Heb. doing falsehood; as if that were their whole work, the proper and peculiar sin of the priests and prophets, to deceive the people, and to flatter them by false visions, as in the next verse; not that they were not also guilty of the other sins, Isaiah 56:11, and the princes and people of this, Micah 3:9 Jeremiah 5:31, for they were all involved in the same wickedness; but the prophet mentions those sins that were most peculiar to each party. See the same Jeremiah 8:10.
They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly: this refers peculiarly to the prophets; either slighting or making light of these threatenings, tending to the reproach either,
1. Of the prophets of God, bringing their message into contempt; or,
2. The people, deceiving of them, and rendering their hopes vain, Jeremiah 8:11. Or here the prophet shows wherein their false dealing consists, viz. in daubing over their misery and danger that was coming on them, by persuading them that it should not come, or if it did, it would be easily cured; as some physicians do with their patients, that make light of a wound, and so neglect the true method of cure; but either by lenitives give some ease for the present, by a superficial skinning over a sore while the corruption is in it; or stupefactives, making them senseless, not feeling their pain, Jeremiah 23:14 Ezekiel 13:10 16:22; and so the prophet makes this the cause of their last destruction.
Saying, Peace, peace; the Chaldeans shall not come, all things shall be prosperous with you; all kind of prosperity being included in the word peace. They promise you peace, but you shall come short of it, as in the next words.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.Were they, viz. the false prophets, ashamed? Some read it actively, as sometimes it is taken, Did they put the people to shame? but that is not so proper here; it rather notes how bold and confident, or rather impudent, they were in their flatteries, and deceiving the people, a great aggravation of their sin. The form of the interrogation chargeth them home with the guilt, as do also the next words,
neither could they blush; q.d. they had not the least show of shame, usually discovered by blushing.
Committed abomination; or, the thing to be abominated, (a metonymy of the effect,) both by encouraging the people, and joining with them in their idolatries. See Jeremiah 3:3.
Therefore they shall fall among them that fall; therefore they shall perish with those whom they have deceived, as in the following expressions. To fall signifies to be slain, Psalm 63:10 Luke 21:24. Visit them, viz. punish them, inflict punishment on them: see Jeremiah 6:6.
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.Having told the false prophets their doom, he now turns his speech to the people, and gives them counsel; for he rather propounds than commands, by a metaphor taken from travellers, that being in doubt of their way, do stand still, pause, and consider, whether the direction they have received from some ignorant person or false guide be right or not.
The old paths, Heb. paths of antiquity, such as their godly forefathers of old were wont to walk in, the ancient paths, Jeremiah 18:15. Or, the oracles of God, what directions his word gives, Isaiah 8:20. Or, the providence of God. Observe what hath been God’s ways and method in times past, with reference to sin and punishment, Deu 4:3,4 Jud 5:6,8 Jer 22:15,16, and what have been want to be the best courses, called here the
good way, or the best way to continue mercies and prevent judgments, Deu 32:7, he.: see 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
Walk therein; when you have found what was best and most prosperous, keep it, stick to it.
Ye shall find rest; you will find God to stand by you, and be a sanctuary to you, Deu 33:12,29. See Matthew 11:29. You will find things mend with you; it will be well with you, as it hath been with others; you will be satisfied and quiet; you will not doubt any longer which way to follow: see 1 Kings 18:21.
We will not walk therein; it notes their great wilfulness and obstinacy, that though the prophets had directed them in the right way, and though they knew others had experimented it to be so, yet they would not be persuaded to walk in it, but deliberately refused those favours offered, Isaiah 8:11-13 Jeremiah 18:11,12.
Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.Watchmen, viz. prophets and messengers, that sought their good, and endeavoured to prevent their miseries by foretelling what was coming upon them, Ezekiel 3:17 33:7 A metaphor from watchmen, that are usually set upon high places to espy out dangers afar off.
The sound of the trumpet; either the voice of his prophets, which is compared to a trumpet, Isaiah 58:1, intimating his loud crying upon the account of imminent danger; for men do not use to sound the trumpet till danger be approaching; or the trumpet of that enemy, Jeremiah 4:19,21.
We will not hearken; more of their obstinacy suitable to their carriage, Jeremiah 6:16.
Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them.Ver. 18, Hear, ye nations: he calls upon the nations round about to be as so many spectators of his severity against Judah, though they were his own people.
1. Partly to vindicate the justice of his proceedings, that they may not think him too severe.
2. Partly to shame them, if thereby tie may bring them to repentance; and therefore he makes them witnesses as well of their sin as of their punishment, Jeremiah 6:19. Besides,
3. It is a secret upbraiding them, as if the nations were more ready to understand than they.
Know, O congregation; either of Israel, and then the next words must be which are among them; or rather, of all nations, as supposing them gathered all together, Psalm 7:7. God is willing that all the world should be witness of the equity of his proceedings.
What is among them; or, that which is among them; the relative put for the antecedent; either the height of their wickedness, or the severity of their judgments; understand it either way, or both ways, and then it is the greatness of their punishment, as the effect of the greatness of their sins.
Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.Hear, O earth; the inhabitants of the earth; or else God having spoken to the rational, he now speaks to the very senseless creatures to observe his proceedings, Ezekiel 36:4.
I will bring evil; the Chaldean army, with all the direful effects of it. The fruit of their thoughts: q.d. They may thank themselves for what is come upon them, being the fruit of all these contrivances and wicked imaginations that their hearts were full of, Proverbs 1:29-31; see Isaiah 59:7 Jeremiah 4:14; by which phrase is also intimated that their sins were not some slight oversights, but meditated and digested wickedness; and therefore God will bring upon them the just punishment for their doings.
My words; those messages that I so frequently and earnestly sent unto them by my prophets, Proverbs 1:24,25.
But rejected it; as it were bidding open defiance to me, scorning to be ruled by me.
To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.To what purpose? an interrogation of expostulation and contempt, wherein God by the prophet meets with their hypocrisy, who pleased themselves with their outward oblations and sacrifices, and thought God would be pleased with them too; but he tells them plainly they are to no purpose; as he speaks particularly in the close of the verse, Jeremiah 7:21,22 Eze 20:39.
Incense from Sheba: that this was the product of Sheba, a country in Arabia Felix, to which country frankincense was peculiar, See Poole "Isaiah 60:6". The sweet cane, or, cane, i.e. good, or the best cane; the article h hath the force of a superlative, for cane that is good; the Hebrews have no degrees of comparison; the same that is mentioned as an ingredient in the holy oil, Exodus 30:23. See Isaiah 43:24.
From a far country; not that it was brought from the remotest parts of the world, as from India, as some; for it was known to the Jews in Moses’s time, Exodus 30:23; but because it grew not in their own land, but was fetched or brought to them from Sheba, Isaiah 60:6, where it did grow, as Diodorus testifies, lib. 3. p. 125, and Strabo, lib. 16; 1 Kings 10:2, compared with Joel 3:8; who is called the queen of the south, and to come from the uttermost parts of the earth, Matthew 12:42, because the South Sea did bound the country. To what purpose art thou at this trouble and charge to fetch these ingredients for thy incense?
Are not acceptable; not likely to atone me; they will not be for acceptance; I cannot take delight in them, Hosea 9:4, as the next expression: q.d. Away with these childish trifles, whereby you think to pacify me. By these species he understands the whole legal worship.
Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will lay stumblingblocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbour and his friend shall perish.I will lay stumbling-blocks; God gives this name to all the occasions of the Jews’ ruin; he exposeth them, or suffereth such things to be laid in their way, as shall be the occasion of their destruction; such things which they shall not get over. Or an hypallage, I will bring destruction upon them; as the Hebrews use to speak, They have sent a city into the fire, i.e. They have sent fire into the city. Or God doth here compare his judgments to traps, wherein they shall be taken, which they thought easily to have evaded. What these stumbling-blocks are seem to be expressed in the following verses.
The fathers and the sons together; as well the fathers, that have more prudence and policy, as the children, that are more inadvertent, or possibly may count themselves less guilty, shall perish by these stumbling-blocks; no recovering for themselves, Isaiah 8:14,15.
The neighbour and his friend; men of all sorts and conditions, the greatest intimates and associates, though all lay their heads together for counsel, yet shall they not be able to help one another, but a promiscuous destruction there shall be, Jeremiah 6:11 Jeremiah 13:14.
Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth.Now the prophet is showing what these destructive stumbling-blocks shall be, of which he had prophesied forty years already, and yet they would not be warned. The north country: see Jeremiah 6:1.
A great nation shall be raised; God shall stir up the Chaldeans like a great storm or tempest, Jeremiah 1:15 25:32. See Ezekiel 23:22.
From the sides of the earth; the remote and uttermost parts of the Babylonian territories, though at the greatest distance, yet God will bring them: which may note the greatness of God’s displeasure against Judah, this circumstance being noted among the curses, Deu 28:49. See Isaiah 5:25,26, &c.; Jeremiah 5:15.
They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.They shall lay hold on bow and spear; or, They shall carry; they shall not want military ammunition of all sorts for the despatch of this great work; synecdochically expressed for all sorts of weapons. So Psalm 35:2,3.
Have no mercy; see Jeremiah 50:42; not be entreated, or have any pity to sex or age, poor or rich, Jeremiah 21:7. See the like Isaiah 13:17,18. And this was as duly executed as here prophesied, 2 Chronicles 36:17.
Their voice roareth like the sea; which, as it is very violent, so it causeth great consternation by its noise, compared to the roaring of the devils, Jam 2:19. Possibly it may intimate, they would not hearken to the voice of his prophets, now they shall hear the terrifying noise of armies, like the roaring of the sea.
They ride upon horses; which is a creature in especial manner adapted by God for war, as he is described. Job 9:19,20, &c.; implying their speed, strength, and fierceness, Jeremiah 50:42.
Set in array; the whole nation set as it were in battalia against them, that they may perceive they have to do with soldiers. The LXX. reading va esh, fire, for vya ish, man, render it, as fire to the war.
O daughter of Zion, or Jerusalem; for these two titles are promiscuously used for the same place; and the term daughter is often given to cities and countries, as Psalm 45:12 137:8 Isaiah 23:12 47:1.
We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail.We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble. The prophet personates the people’s affections: q.d. At the very report of the. approach and fierceness of this people we are dismayed and discouraged, our hearts melt within us; all warlike courage is taken from us, 2 Samuel 4:1; or he modestly reckons himself among the rest.
Anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail; a description of the exquisiteness of their sufferings, Jeremiah 13:21.
Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and fear is on every side.Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way; expressing the great danger that there would be every where, there would be no stirring out of their fenced cities or houses, Jeremiah 8:14, but great danger to them that go out, and to those that come in, they would find death every where; now seek out some by-ways, venture hot in common roads, Judges 5:6.
The sword of the enemy and fear is on every side: the language of one speaking to another: it seems to be a proverbial speech, frequently used to express unavoidable dangers, Psalm 31:13 Jeremiah 20:3,10 49:29. All places will be full of soldiers, so that all attempts will be very difficult, Lamentations 5:9.
O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us.0 daughter of my people, i.e. O my people, that art beloved as a daughter.
Gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: he calls upon them to mourning in the deepest manner wherein they can express it, girding with sackcloth, close mourning, Jeremiah 4:8, wallowing in ashes, Jeremiah 25:34 Micah 1:10, lying low in humiliation, and prostrating themselves before him: he further describes the nature of it in the following expression, such as is for the death of a child, a son, an only son, Amos 8:10; and then seems to sum it up in this bitter,
most bitter lamentation, Heb. wailing of bitternesses, noting the highest degrees of lamentation; he seems to want words to express it. See Jeremiah 9:17,18. And it is likely the prophet doth not so designedly exhort them to repent, as rather describe the state of persons in a lost and despairing condition. For here the prophet takes upon himself thee person of one denouncing war; and sackcloth and ashes is often mentioned where there is net hope of conversion or repentance.
The spoiler; the king of Babylon and his army, Jeremiah 4:8.
I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way.Here God speaks by way of encouragement to the prophet, and tells him he had made him a fortified tower, that he might both discover the carriages of his people, which is one use of a high tower, Isaiah 21:5,8 Hab 2:1; and also to assure him, though they shall make several attempts against him, yet he shall be kept safe, os in a castle or fortress, Jeremiah 15:20.
That thou mayest know and try their way; their courses, actions, and manners, and which way they stand affected; thou mayest bring all to thy strict observation and scrutiny, as goldsmiths or refiners do metals; for so is the word try used, Psalm 66:10, and elsewhere. Hereby he shall be encouraged to reprove them more freely, and with authority, because God doth promise to defend him, that they shall not hurt him; God will give him prudence to see what is amiss, and undauntedness to oppose it.
They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.Grievous revolters; obstinate and refractory, Isaiah 31:6 Jeremiah 5:3,23.
Walking with slanders; being their main business to detract from thee and the other prophets, Jeremiah 18:18 20:10; a sin expressly forbidden, Leviticus 19:16.
They are brass and iron: this to the end of the chapter is all metaphorical; either they are impudent, as brass doth sometimes signify, or they are obstinate and inflexible, as iron notes: see both Isaiah 48:4: or it signifies their corrupt estate; they are not pure metal, as silver or gold, but base and mean, as brass and iron mixed together, Ezekiel 22:18.
They are all corrupters: this relates to their manners; they propagate their corruption, Isaiah 1:4; they strengthen one another in wickedness.
The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.The bellows are burned: the prophet prosecutes his metaphor taken from refining of metals, intimating herein that the prophets had spent their lungs to no purpose; see the like Psalm 22:15 69:3; and their strength was consumed by their so much labour and pains: q.d. The terror of the Lord is as a fire in my throat.
The lead is consumed; some read it, the lead was entire, viz. their dross did still remain in them, the lead put for their dross; but I see no reason for nor need of this reading, but rather hereby is understood either that means which was used to prevail with them, his words compared to lead for the weight of them, and the use of them; or the judgments, which were heavy as lead, that God mixed among them, the more easily to prevail with them; it was all upon them; as lead is used in melting silver, that it may melt the easier; it is all wasted, and doth no good.
The founder melteth in vain; let the artist use his greatest skill and industry, yet is it all in vain; He can make nothing of it: the prophets did but lose their labour in all the pains they took, Psalm 58:5, after they had wearied themselves.
The wicked are not plucked away, or drawn away, as the word is, Joshua 8:16 Judges 20:32. Their dross and corruption, their wickedness and filthiness, is not removed, Isaiah 32:6: for wicked may be read wickedness.
Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.Reprobate silver; or, Refuse silver; such as will be rejected in payments; they are not to be purged or reformed.
Shall men call them; or, be called, i.e. they shall be esteemed such as will not pass for current before God or good men, Lamentations 3:45.
Because the Lord hath rejected them; the prophet gives the reason of their being accounted such refuse stuff, viz. because God, who knew their hypocrisy in boasting of themselves, had rejected them, Lamentations 5:22; therefore every one else would.