The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.
Verse 2. - Write thee all the words... in a book. The form of expression leaves it doubtful whether a summary of all Jeremiah's previous discourses is intended, or merely of the promises concerning Israel and Judah which he had just received. There are, no doubt, numerous allusions to preceding chapters, but ver. 5 seems rather to favour the latter view. The word rendered "book" will equally suit a short discourse like the present (comp. Jeremiah 51:60) and a large collection of prophecies as in Jeremiah 36:2. Observe, the discourse was to be written down at once, without having been delivered orally; it was to be laid up as a pledge that God would interpose for his people (comp. Isaiah 30:8; Habakkuk 2:2, 3).
For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.
And these are the words that the LORD spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah.
For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.
Verses 5-11. - The great judgment of Israel's deliverance. It is nothing less than the "day of Jehovah" which the prophet sees in spirit - a day which is "great" (ver. 7; comp. Joel 2:11; Zephaniah 1:14) and terrible (vers. 5, 6; comp. Amos 5:18, 20; Isaiah 13:6; Joel 2:1, 11) for Israel, a day of "trouble" (ver. 7), but for his enemies of destruction. Verse 5. - A voice of trembling; rather, a sound of trembling, a sound causing men to tremble; doubtless it is "the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war" (Jeremiah 4:19). Of fear, and not of peace; rather, there is fear, and no peace. "Peace," as usual, means the harmony of a well ordered, secure, and peaceful community. Literally, it is wholeness; its opposite is "breaking," i.e. outward ruin and inward anguish.
Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?
Verse 6. - Whether a man doth travail with child. Great, indeed, must be the terror when no adequate figure suggests itself but that of a woman in her pangs (comp. Jeremiah 6:24; Jeremiah 13:21; Jeremiah 22:23; Isaiah 13:8). All faces are turned into paleness. So Joel (Joel 2:6) and Nahum (Nahum 2:10), "All faces withdraw their colour." For "paleness" the Septuagint has "jaundice" - a possible meaning of the Hebrew; comp. χλωρὸς, "pale, bilious looking" in medical writings, but properly "greenish-yellow," like the Hebrew noun.
Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
Verse 7. - That day; i.e. "the day of Jehovah," the day of the great judgment upon the world, of which the fall of Babylon is regarded as the opening scene. It is even the time of Jacob's trouble; rather, and a time of distress shall it be (even) to Jacob.
For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him:
Verse 8. - His yoke. Not that imposed by the enemy (as Isaiah 10:22 and Isaiah 14:25 might suggest), but that suffered by Jacob. This is clear from the last clause of the verse.
But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.
Verse 9. - David their king; viz. the "righteous Branch" or "Plant" of ch. 23:5.
Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.
Verses 10, 11. - Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, etc. These two verses, omitted in the Septuagint, are among the passages which Hitzig (carrying out an idea of Movers) attributes to the editorial hand of the author (a pious Jew of the Captivity, according to him) of Isaiah 40-66, and it cannot be denied that the tone and phraseolegy of ver. 10 is more akin to that of Isaiah 40:66, than to those of the greater part of Jeremiah. Graf, in controverting Hitzig's view, points out, however, that the expressions referred to by Hitzig as "Deutero-Isaianic," are also found in other books besides the latter part of Isaiah, and that, on the other hand, "the expressions of ver. 11 are all as foreign to Isaiah 40-66, as they are current in Jeremiah." As for the expression, "my servant Jacob." (which. only occurs again in Jeremiah in the duplicate of this passage, Jeremiah 46:27, 28, and which is specially characteristic of the second part of Isaiah), it is worth noticing that it is found once in the Book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:25), which, on Hitzig's theory, was written before the so called Second Isaiah. It still remains for the student to consider whether these two verses are not an insertion by some later hand (without attempting to discover whose that hand was). That the prophetic writings have received additions from editors and scribes is a fact which cannot reasonably be gainsaid, supported as it is by the phenomena of the historical books. It would be very natural for a pious Jew in the Captivity, not wholly devoid himself of the spirit of prophecy, to encourage his people, in the Name of the Lord, with this glowing word of promise.
For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.
Verse 11. - In measure; rather, according to what is just; i.e. not capriciously, to satisfy a feeling of revenge such as the untaught mind is apt to ascribe to God (see on Jeremiah 10:24). And will not, etc.; rather, for I cannot.
For thus saith the LORD, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous.
Verses 12-17. - Miserable indeed is the condition of Israel! No wonder; for its sins were great. And yet, just because it is so forlorn, Jehovah will interpose for its relief. Verse 12. - For thus saith, etc. If the two preceding verses are a later insertion, we must render, But surely (more strictly, surely, but particles of asseveration easily acquire an adversative force from the context). Bright, indeed, is the prospect for Judah, "but surely" his present condition is very much the reverse; comp. Isaiah 9:1 (Authorized Version," nevertheless"). Thy bruise is incurable, etc. One of Jeremiah's characteristic repetitions (see Jeremiah 10:19; Jeremiah 14:17; Jeremiah 15:18). That thou mayest be bound up. This rendering follows the accents. But the mixture of figures is very incongruous. It is much better to connect the words a little differently and to render, for thy sore thou hast no medicines (nor any) plaster.
There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines.
All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased.
Verse 14. - All thy lovers; i.e. the peoples confederate with thee (as Jeremiah 22:20).
Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee.
Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey.
Verse 16. - Therefore; i.e. because of the extremity of thy need. Comp. Isaiah 10:23, 24, "The Lord Jehovah Sabaoth shall make a consumption Therefore be not afraid of Assyria;" and Isaiah 30:17, 18, "At the rebuke of five shall ye flee .... And therefore will Jehovah wait, that he may be gracious unto you."
For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.
Verse 17. - Restore health; rather, apply a bandage. They called thee an Outcast. Jehovah, speaking after the manner of men. cannot bear to hear his enemies, as they pass along, scornfully denominating the holy city an Outcast.
Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.
Verses 18-22. - A picture of the regenerate commonwealth of Israel. Verse 18. - Upon her own heap; rather, upon her own mound, the tell or eminence on which an Eastern town was built (comp. Joshua 11:13, where "in their strength" should rather be "on their own mound"). Shall remain; rather, shall be inhabited.
And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
Verse 19. - (Comp. this verse with Jeremiah 33:11.) Out of them; i.e. out of city and palace. They shall not be few; rather, not be diminished. They shall not be small; rather, not be lightly regarded.
Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them.
Verse 20. - Their children; rather, his children; i.e. the "children of Israel."
And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me? saith the LORD.
Verse 21. - The future rulers of Israel shall be of the native stock, not foreign tyrants. Their nobles; rather, his noble one, a synonym for "his ruler," i.e. the (earthly) king of Israel. It is remarkable that no reference is made here to the Messiah, who, in fact, is not as conspicuous a figure in the prophecies of Jeremiah as in those of Isaiah. And yet even in Isaiah there is one striking prophecy in which the inspired seer uses language not (in the hands of a literalist) reconcilable with the prospect of the personal Messiah. The Messiah appears, as it were, in a lightning flash, and then disappears for a time. The prophecy of Isaiah referred to is Isaiah 32:1, 2 (comp. Jeremiah 33:17), in which the prospect of a truly God-fearing king, with princes of the same high character, entirely occupies the mind of the writer. "Nothing indicates that the Messiah is intended; king and princes are placed quite on a level, in accordance with the actual state of things under the so called monarchy." And I will cause him to draw near. It is doubtful whether Israel or Israel's ruler is referred to. A priestly relation (such as "drawing near" implies, see Numbers 16:5) might be predicated of either, at any rate in the regenerate form of the Israelitish commonwealth; but it is more natural to suppose the ruler to be here indicated, for it is scarcely descriptive enough to say that he shall belong to the chosen people. Who is this that engaged his heart; rather, that pledgeth his heart (or, courage); i.e. that ventureth. The rejection of thee old line of Davidic kings might well raise the thought that the intimate relation between Jehovah and his earthly representative for Israel, promised of old to David (2 Samuel 7.), could no longer be hoped for. But with this renewed promise the kings of the new Davidic line may venture to "draw near;" otherwise - who is he that ventureth?
And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Verse 22. - This verse is omitted in the Septuagint, and (unless the existence of later insertions is denied altogether) is all but certainly due to a later hand (comp. Jeremiah 7:23). Comp. on vers. 10,11.
Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked.
Verses 23, 24. - These verses occur in a form evidently more original in Jeremiah 23:19, 20. In all probability they were first inserted from memory in the margin, and then incorporated into the text at a time subsequent (how long subsequent we cannot say) to Jeremiah.
The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it.