Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Jeremiah 44:28 whose words shall stand, God's or their's. All which God had threatened in the law shall be fulfilled. God, in the fulfillment of the punishment, which He had foretold in the law Leviticus 26:32-33; Deuteronomy 28, would vindicate not only His present Providence, but His continual government of His own world. All which is strength to man, shall the rather fail, because it is strength, and they presume on it and it deceives them. Its one end is to "become a prey" of devils. Riches, learning, rule, influence, power, bodily strength, genius, eloquence, popular favor, shall all fail a man, and he, when stripped of them, shall be the more bared because he gathered them around him. "Wealth is ever a runaway and has no stability, but rather intoxicates and inclines to revolt and has unsteady feet. Exceeding folly is it to think much of it. For it will not rescue those lying under the divine displeasure, nor will it free any from guilt, when God decreeth punishment, and bringeth the judgment befitting on the transgressors. How utterly useless this eagerness after wealth is to the ungodly, he teacheth, saying, that "their strength shall be a prey" to the Chaldaean."
And their houses a desolation - Cyril: "For they are, of whom it may be said very truly, "This is the man that took not God for his strength, but trusted unto the multitude of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness" Psalm 52:7. But if indeed their houses are adorned in a costly manner, they shall not be theirs, for they shall be burned, and themselves go into captivity, leaving all in their house, and deprived of all which would gladden. And this God said clearly to the king of Judah by Jeremiah, "Thou hast builded thyself a large house and wide chambers, ceiled with cedar, and painted with vermilion. Shalt thou reign because thou closest thyself with cedar!" Jeremiah 22:14-15. Gregory (Mor. viii. 14): "As the house of the body is the bodily dwelling, so to each mind its house is that, wherein through desire it is wont to dwell," and "desolate" shall they be, being severed forever from the things they desired, and forever deserted by God. "They shall also build houses but not inhabit them," as the rich man said to his soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years .... Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" Luke 12:19-20. Before the siege by the Romans, Jerusalem and the temple had been greatly beautified, only to be destroyed. "And they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof." This is the woe, first pronounced in the law Deuteronomy 28:39, often repeated and ever found true. Wickedness makes joy its end, yet never finds it, seeking it where it is not, out of God.Therefore; as a punishment for other sins, so for this secure, atheistical denial of Providence; though they have denied, they shall feel, and confess, that the evil they suffer is both just, and from my hand too.
Their goods; stores in their shops and warehouses, furniture in their chambers, and wardrobes.
A booty; a prey divided among the Babylonish soldiers, invading, prevailing, wasting villages and cities.
Their houses a desolation; that they may remember the curse threatened in the law, executed on them, and acknowledge that he who gave the law rules by it.
Build houses, but not inhabit them, & c.; according to that Deu 28:30,39.
and their houses a desolation; be pulled down by the enemy; or left uninhabited, they being killed or carried captive, even their whole families:
they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; not long, at least; not always, as they expected, and promised themselves when they built them:
and they shall plant vineyards, and not drink the wine thereof: but before the vines planted by them bring forth grapes, and these are pressed, and wine made of them, they should fall into the hands of the enemy, who would drink it, and not they; and all this agreeably to what was threatened them in the law of Moses, which they ought to have regarded, Deuteronomy 28:30.Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. The verse implies that the “search” (Zephaniah 1:12) is made by the foe under commission of the Lord; the foe is in quest of spoil, but his acts are the Lord’s “visitation” on the unbelieving.
They shall also build houses] and they shall build houses, but not inhabit them. The phrase is a common one signifying that they shall not enjoy the fruit of their labour; meaning, and the houses which they have built they shall not inhabit. Comp. Amos 5:11; Micah 6:15; Deuteronomy 28:30; Deuteronomy 28:39; Isaiah 65:21-22.Verse 13. - Their goods; literally, their strength; their wealth in which they trusted shall become the prey of the enemy, and thus they shall learn that God ruleth in the affairs of men. They shall also build houses, etc. They shall prove in their own case the reality of the punishment threatened in the Law (Leviticus 26:32, etc.; Deuteronomy 28:30, 39; comp. Amos 5:11; Micah 6:15). Micah 6:3-5 open the suit. Micah 6:3. "My people! what have I done unto thee, and with what have I wearied thee? Answer me. Micah 6:4. Yea, I have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, redeemed thee out of the slave-house, and sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Micah 6:5. My people! remember now what Balak the king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim to Gilga; that thou mayest discern the righteous acts of Jehovah." The Lord opens the contest with the question, what He has done to the nation, that it has become tired of Him. The question is founded upon the fact that Israel has fallen away from its God, or broken the covenant. This is not distinctly stated, indeed; but it is clearly implied in the expression הלאתיך, What have I done, that thou hast become weary of me? לאה, in the hiphil, to make a person weary, more particularly to weary the patience of a person, either by demands of too great severity (Isaiah 43:23), or by failing to perform one's promises (Jeremiah 2:31). ענה בי, answer against me, i.e., accuse me. God has done His people no harm, but has only conferred benefits upon them. Of these He mentions in Micah 6:4 the bringing up out of Egypt and the guidance through the Arabian desert, as being the greatest manifestations of divine grace, to which Israel owes its exaltation into a free and independent nation (cf. Amos 2:10 and Jeremiah 2:6). The kı̄ (for) may be explained from the unexpressed answer to the questions in Micah 6:3 : "Nothing that could cause dissatisfaction with me;" for I have done nothing but confer benefits upon thee. To set forth the leading up out of Egypt as such a benefit, it is described as redemption out of the house of bondage, after Exodus 20:2. Moreover, the Lord had given His people prophets, men entrusted with His counsels and enlightened by His Spirit, as leaders into the promised land: viz., Moses, with whom He talked mouth to mouth, as a friend to his friend (Numbers 12:8); and Aaron, who was not only able as high priest to ascertain the counsel and will of the Lord for the sake of the congregation, by means of the "light and right," but who also, along with Moses, represented the nation before God (Numbers 12:6; Numbers 14:5, Numbers 14:26; Numbers 16:20; Numbers 20:7 ff., and 29). Miriam, the sister of the two, is also mentioned along with them, inasmuch as she too was a prophetess (Exodus 15:20). In Micah 6:5 God also reminds them of the other great display of grace, viz., the frustration of the plan formed by the Moabitish king Balak to destroy Israel by means of the curses of Balaam (Numbers 22-24). יעץ refers to the plan which Balak concocted with the elders of Midian (Numbers 22:3 ff.); and ענה, Balaam's answering, to the sayings which this soothsayer was compelled by divine constraint to utter against his will, whereby, as Moses says in Deuteronomy 23:5-6, the Lord turned the intended curse into a blessing. The words "from Shittim (Israel's last place of encampment beyond Jordan, in the steppes of Moab; see at Numbers 22:1 and Numbers 25:1) to Gilgal" (the first place of encampment in the land of Canaan; see at Joshua 4:19-20, and Joshua 5:9) do not depend upon זכר־נא, adding a new feature to what has been mentioned already, in the sense of "think of all that took place from Shittim to Gilgal," in which case זכר־נא would have to be repeated in thought; but they are really attached to the clause וּמה עבה וגו, and indicate the result, or the confirmation of Balaam's answer. The period of Israel's journeying from Shittim to Gilgal embraces not only Balak's advice and Balaam's answer, by which the plan invented for the destruction of Israel was frustrated, but also the defeat of the Midianites, who attempted to destroy Israel by seducing it to idolatry, the miraculous crossing of the Jordan, the entrance into the promised land, and the circumcision at Gilgal, by which the generation that had grown up in the desert was received into the covenant with Jehovah, and the whole nation reinstated in its normal relation to its God. Through these acts the Lord had actually put to shame the counsel of Balak, and confirmed the fact that Balaam's answer was inspired by God.
(Note: With this view, which has already been suggested by Hengstenberg, the objections offered by Ewald, Hitzig, and others, to the genuineness of the words "from Shittim to Gilgal," the worthlessness of which has been demonstrated by Caspari, fall to the ground.)
By these divine acts Israel was to discern the tsidqōth Yehōvâh; i.e., not the mercies of Jehovah, for tsedâqâh does not mean mercy, but "the righteous acts of Jehovah," as in Judges 5:11 and 1 Samuel 12:7. This term is applied to those miraculous displays of divine omnipotence in and upon Israel, for the fulfilment of His counsel of salvation, which, as being emanations of the divine covenant faithfulness, attested the righteousness of Jehovah.
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