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JUN 17 1966 


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Sett on tyt Jh-opIjcricS of Scrcmta^. 

VOL. I. 









isP* <*-pSi 

JVN 17 






C. F. KEIL, D.D., and F. DELITZSCH, D.D., 




C. E. KEIL, D.D. 

VOL. I. 







§ 1. The Times of Jeremiah, ..... 

§ 2. The Person of the Prophet, . . . • .11 

§ 3. The Book of the Prophecies of Jeremiah, ... 21 

§ 4. The Genuineness of the Book and the Integrity of the 

Masoretic Text, ...... 30 


CnAP. i.— Heading. Call and Consecration of Jeremiah to be 

Prophet, .....-• 37 

I. General Admonitions and Reproofs belonging to the Time 

of Josiah.— Chap, ii.-xxii., .... 47 

Chap. ii. 1-iii. 5.— The Love and Faithfulness of the Lord, and 

Israel's Disloyalty and Idolatry, .... 49 

Chap. iii. 6-vi. 30. — The rejection of Impenitent Israel, . 81 

Chap, vii.-x. — The Vanity of putting trust in the Temple and in 

the Sacrificial Service, and the Way to Safety and Life, . 150 

Chap, xi.-xiii.— Jurlah's Faithlessness to Covenant Obligations. 

and the Consequences thereof, .... 208 

Chap, xiv.-xvii. — The Word concerning the Droughts, . . 242 

Chap, xviii.-xx. — The Figures of the Potter's Clay and of the 

Earthen Pitcher, ...... 292 



II. Special Predictions of the J udgment to be accomplished 
by the Chaldeans, and of the Messianic Salvation.— 
Chap, xxi.-xxxiil, ...... 323 

A. The Predictions of Judgment on Judah and the Nations. — 

Chap, xxi.-xxix., ...... 323 

Chap. xxi.-xxiv. — The Shepherds and Leaders of the People, 824 

Chap. xxv. — The Judgment on Judah and all Nations, . 369 

Chap. xxvi. — Accusation and Acquittal of Jeremiah in the 
matter of his prophesying Threatenings. The Prophet 
Urijah put to death, ..... 388 

Chap, xxvii.— xxix. — The Yoke of Babylon upon Judah and the 

neighbouring Peoples, ..... 395 




T was in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah, 
B.C. 629, that Jeremiah was called to be a prophet. 
At that time the kingdom of Judah enjoyed un- 
broken peace. Siuce the miraculous destruction of 
Sennacherib's host before the gates of Jerusalem in the four- 
teenth year of Ilezekiah's reign, B.C. 714, Judah had no longer 
had much to fear from the imperial power of Assyria. The 
reverse then sustained before Jerusalem, just eight years after 
the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel, had terribly crushed 
the might of the great empire. It was but a few years after 
that disaster till the Medes under Deioces asserted their inde- 
pendence against Assyria ; and the Babylonians too, though 
soon reduced to subjection again, rose in insurrection against 
Sennacherib. Sennacherib's energetic son and successor Esar- 
haddon did indeed succeed in re-establishing for a time the 
tottering throne. While holding Babylon, Elam, Susa, and 
Persia to their allegiance, he restored the ascendency of the 
empire in the western provinces, and brought Lower Syria, 
the districts of Syria that lay on the sea coast, under the 
Assyrian yoke. But the rulers who succeeded him, Samuges 
and the second Sardanapalus, were wholly unable to offer any 
effective resistance to the growing power of the Medes, or to 
check the steady decline of the once so mighty empire. Cf. M. 
Duncker, Gesch. des Alterth. i. S. 707 ff. of 3 Aufl. Under 
Esarhaddon an Assyrian marauding army again made an inroad 
into Judah, and carried King Manasseh captive to Babylon ; 

VOL. I. A 


but, under what circumstances we know not, he soon regained 
his freedom, and was permitted to return to Jerusalem and 
remount his throne (2 Chron. xxxiii. 11-13). From this time 
forward the Assyrians appeared no more in Judah. Nor did 
it seem as if Judah had any danger to apprehend from Egypt, 
the great southern empire ; for the power of Egypt had been 
greatly weakened by intestine dissensions and civil wars. It is 
true that Psammetichus, after the overthrow of the dodecarchy, 
began to raise Egypt's head amongst the nations once more, and 
to extend his sway beyond the boundaries of the country ; but 
we learn much as to his success in this direction from the state- 
ment of Herodotus (ii. 157), that the capture of the Philistine 
city of Ashdod was not accomplished until after a twenty-nine 
years' siege. Even if, with Duncker, we refer the length of 
time here mentioned to the total duration of the war against the 
Philistines, we are yet enabled clearly to see that Egypt had 
not then so far recovered her former might as to be able to 
menace the kingdom of Judah with destruction, had Judah but 
faithfully adhered to the Lord its God, and in Him sought its 
strength. This, unhappily, Judah utterly failed to do, notwith- 
standing all the zeal wherewith the godly King Josiah laboured 
to secure for his kingdom that foremost element of its strength. 
In the eighth year of his reign, " while he was yet young," 
i.e. when but a lad of sixteen years of age, he began to seek 
the God of David his father ; and in the twelfth year of his 
reign he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high 
places and Astartes, and the carved and molten images (2 Chron. 
xxxiv. 3). lie carried on the work of reforming the public 
worship without intermission, until every public trace of idolatry 
was removed, and the lawful worship of Jahveh was re-estab- 
lished. In the eighteenth year of his reign, upon occasion of 
some repairs in the temple, the book of the law of Moses was 
discovered there, was brought and read before him. Deeply 
agitated by the curses with which the transgressors of the law 
were threatened, he then, together with the elders of Judah 
and the people itself, solemnly renewed the covenant with the 
Lord. To set a seal upon the renewal of the covenant, he 
instituted a passover, to which not only all Judah was invited, 
but also all remnants of the tea tribes that had been left behind 


in the land of Israel (2 Kings xxii. 3-xxiii. 24 ; 2 Chron. xxxiv. 
4-xxxv. 19). To Josiah there is given in 2 Kings xxiii. 25 the 
testimony that like unto him there was no king before him, that 
turned to Jahveh with all his heart, all his soul, and all his 
might, according to all the law of Moses ; yet this most godly 
of all the kino;s of Judah was unable to heal the mischiefs which 
his predecessors Manasseh and Anion had by their wicked 
government created, or to crush the germs of spiritual and 
moral corruption which could not fail to bring about the ruin 
of the kingdom. And so the account of Josiah' s reign and of 
his efforts towards the revival of the worship of Jahveh, given 
in 2 Kings xxiii. 26, is concluded: "Yet Jahveh ceased not 
from His great wrath wherewith He was kindled against Judah, 
because of all the provocations wherewith Manasseh provoked 
Him ; and Jahveh said : Judah also will I put away from my 
face as I have put away Israel, and will cast off this city which 
I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My 
name shall dwell there." 

The kingdom of Israel had come to utter ruin in consequence 
of its apostasy from the Lord its God, and on account of the 
calf-worship which had been established by Jeroboam, the 
founder of the kingdom, and to which, from political motives, all 
his successors adhered. The history of Judah too is summed 
up in a perpetual alternation of apostasy from the Lord and 
return to Him. As early as the time of heathen-hearted Ahaz 
idolatry had raised itself to all but unbounded ascendency; and 
through the untheocratic policy of this wicked king, Judah had 
sunk into a dependency of Assyria. It would have shared the 
fate of the sister kingdom even then, had not the accession of 
Hezekiah, Ahaz's godly son, brought about a return to the 
faithful covenant God. The reformation then inaugurated not 
only turned aside the impending ruin, but converted this very 
ruin into a glorious deliverance such as Israel had not seen since 
its exodus from Egypt. The marvellous overthrow of the vast 
Assyrian host at the very gates of Jerusalem, wrought by the 
angel of the Lord in one night by means of a sore pestilence, 
abundantly testified that Judah, despite its littleness and in- 
considerable earthly strength, might have been able to hold its 
own against all the onsets of the great empire, if it had only 


kept true to the covenant God and looked for its support from 
His almighty hand alone. But the repentant loyalty to the 
faithful and almighty God of the covenant hardly lasted until 
Hezekiah's death. The heathen party amongst the people 
gained again the upper hand under Hezekiah's son Manasseh, 
who ascended the throne in his twelfth year ; and idolatry, 
which had been only outwardly suppressed, broke out anew 
and, during the fifty-five years' reign of this most godless of all 
the kings of Israel, reached a pitch Judah had never yet known. 
Manasseh not only restored the high places and altars of Baal 
which his father had destroyed, he built altars to the whole 
host of heaven in both courts of the temple, and went so far as 
to erect an ima^e of Asherah in the house of the Lord : he de- 
voted his son to Moloch, practised witchcraft and soothsaying 
more than ever the Amorites had done, and by his idols seduced 
Israel to sin. Further, by putting to death such prophets and 
godly persons as resisted his impious courses, he shed very much 
innocent blood, until he had filled Jerusalem therewith from 
end to end (2 Kings xxi. 1—16; 2 Chron. xxxiii. 1-10). His 
humbling himself before God when in captivity in Babylon, 
and his removal of the images out of the temple upon his return 
to Jerusalem and to his throne (2 Chron. xxxiii. 11 ff., 15 if.), 
passed by and left hardly a trace behind ; and his godless son 
Anion did but continue his father's sins and multiply the guilt 
(2 Kings xxi. 19-23; 2 Chron. xxxiii. 21-23). Thus Judah's 
spiritual and moral strength was so broken that a thorough- 
going conversion of the people at large to the Lord and His law 
was now no longer to be looked for. Hence the godly Josiah 
accomplished by his reformation nothing more than the sup- 
pression of the grosser forms of idol-worship and the restoration 
of the formal temple-services ; he could neither put an end to 
the people's estrangement at heart from God, nor cheek with 
any effect that moral corruption which was the result of the 
heart's forsaking the living God. And so, even after Josiah's 

O O J 

reform of public worship, we find Jeremiah complaining : " As 
many as are thy cities, so many are thy gods, Judah ; and as 
many as are the streets in Jerusalem, so many altars have ye 
made to shame, to burn incense to Baal" (ii. 28, xi. 13). And 
godlessness showed itself in all classes of the people. " Go 


about in the streets of Jerusalem," Jeremiah exclaims, " and 
look and search if there is one that doth right and asks after 
honesty, and I will pardon her (saith the Lord). I thought, it 
is but the meaner sort that are foolish, for they know not the 
way of Jahveh, the judgment of their God. I will then get me 
to the great, and will speak with them, for they know the way of 
Jahveh, the right of their God. But they have all broken the 
yoke, burst the bonds " (Jer. v. 1-5). " Small and great are 
greedy for gain ; prophet and priest use deceit" (vi. 13). This 
being the spiritual condition of the people, we cannot wonder 
that immediately after the death of Josiah, unblushing apostasy 
appeared again as well in public idolatry as in injustice and sin 
of every kind. Jehoiakim did that which was evil in the eyes 
of Jahveh even as his fathers had done (2 Kings xxiii. 37 ; 
2 Chron. xxxvi. G). His eyes and his heart were set upon 
nothing but on gain and on innocent blood, to shed it, and on 
oppresssion and on violence, to do it, Jer. xxii. 17. And his 
successors on the throne, both his son Jehoiachin and his brother 
Zedekiah, walked in his footsteps (2 Kings xxiv. 5, 19 ; 2 Chron. 
xxxvi. 9, 12), although Zedekiah did not equal his brother 
Jehoiakim in energy for carrying out evil, but let himself be 
ruled by those who were about him. For Judah's persistence in 
rebellion against God and His law, the Lord ceased not from His 
great wrath ; but carried out the threatening proclamation to king 
and people by the prophetess Hulda, when Josiah sent to con- 
sult her for himself, and for the people, and for all Judah, con- 
cerning the words of the newly found book of the law: " Behold, 
I bring evil in this place, and upon its inhabitants, all the words 
of the book which the king of Judah hath read : because that 
they have forsaken me, and burnt incense to other gods, to 
provoke me with all the works of their hands ; therefore my 
wrath is kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched" 
(2 Kings xxii. 1G ff.). 

This evil began to fall on the kingdom in Jehoiakim's days. 
Josiah was not to see the coming of it. Because, when he 
heard the curses of the law, he humbled himself before the 
Lord, rent his raiment and wept before Him, the Lord vouch- 
safed to him the promise that He would gather him to his fathers 
in peace, that his eyes should not look on the evil God would 


bring on Jerusalem (2 Kings xxii. 19 f.) ; and this pledge God 
fulfilled to him, although they that were to execute God's 
righteous justice were already equipped, and though towards 
the end of his reign the storm clouds of judgment were gather- 
ing ominously over Judah. 

While Josiah was labouring in the reformation of public 
worship, there had taken place in Central Asia the events which 
brought about the fall of the Assyrian empire. The younger 
son of Esarhaddon, the second Sardanapalus, had been succeeded 
in the year 626 by his son Saracus. Since the victorious pro- 
gress of the Medes under Cyaxares, his dominion had been 
limited to the cradle of the empire, Assyria, to Mesopotamia, 
Babylonia, and Cilicia. To all appearance in the design of 
preserving Babylonia to the empire, Saracus appointed Nabo- 
polassar, a Babylonian by birth and sprung from the Chaldean 
stock, to be governor of that province. This man found oppor- 
tunity to aggrandize himself during a war between the Medes 
and the Lydians. An eclipse of the sun took place on the 
30th September 610, while a battle was going on. Both armies 
in terror gave up the contest ; and, seconded by Syennesis, who 
governed Cilicia under the Assyrian supremacy, Nabopolassar 
made use of the favourable temper which the omen had excited 
in both camps to negotiate a peace between the contending 
peoples, and to institute a coalition of Babylonia and Media 
against Assyria. To confirm this alliance, Amytis, the 
daughter of Cyaxares, was given in marriage to Nebuchad- 
nezzar, the son of Nabopolassar ; and the war against Assyria 
was opened without delay by the advance against Nineveh in 
the spring of 609 of the allied armies of Medes and Baby- 
lonians. But two years had been spent in the siege of that 
most impregnable city, and two battles had been lost, before 
they succeeded by a night attack in utterly routing the 
Assyrians, pursuing the fugitives to beneath the city walls. 
The fortification would long have defied their assaults, had not 
a prodigious spring flood of the Tigris, in the third year of the 
war, washed down a part of the walls lying next the river, 
and so made it possible for the besiegers to enter the city, to 
take it, and reduce it to ashes. The fall of Nineveh in the year 
607 overthrew the Assyrian empire ; and when the conquerors 


proceeded to distribute their rich booty, all the land lying on 
the western bank of the Tigris fell to the share of Nabopolassar 
of Babylon. But the occupation by the Babylonians of the 
provinces which lay west of the Euphrates was contested by 
the Egyptians. Before the campaign of the allied Medes and 
Babylonians against Nineveh, Pharaoh Necho, the warlike son 
of Psammetichus, had advanced with his army into Palestine, 
having landed apparently in the bay of Acco, on his way to 
war by the Euphrates with Assyria, Egypt's hereditary enemy. 
To oppose his progress King Josiah marched against the 
Egyptian ; fearing as he did with good reason, that if Syria 
fell into Necho's power, the end had come to the independence 
of Judah as a kingdom. A battle was fought in the plain near 
Meoiddo ; the Jewish army was defeated, and Josiah mortally 
wounded, so that he died on the way to Jerusalem (2 Kings 
xxiii. 29 f. ; 2 Chron. xxxv. 20 f.). In his stead the people of 
the land raised his second son Jehoahaz to the throne ; but 
Pharaoh came to Jerusalem, took Jehoahaz prisoner, and had 
him carried to Egypt, where he closed his life in captivity, im- 
posed a fine on the country, and set up Eliakim, Josiah's eldest 
son, to be king as his vassal under the name of Jehoiakim (2 
Kings xxiii. 30-35; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 1-4). Thereafter Necho 
pursued his march through Syria, and subjected to himself the 
western provinces of the Assyrian empire ; and he had pene- 
trated to the fortified town of Carchemish (Kirhesion) on the 
Euphrates when Nineveh succumbed to the united Medes and 
Babylonians. — Immediately upon the dissolution of the Assyrian 
empire, Nabopolassar, now an old man no longer able to sustain 
the fatigues of a new campaign, entrusted the command of the 
army to his vigorous son Nebuchadnezzar, to the end that he 
might wage war against Pharaoh Necho and wrest from the 
Egyptians the provinces they had possessed themselves of (cf. 
Berosi fragm. in Joseph. Antt. x. 11. 1, and c. Ap. i. 19). In 
the year 607, the third year of Jehoiakim's reign, Nebuchad- 
nezzar put the army entrusted to him in motion, and in the 
next year, the fourth of Jehoiakim's reign, B.C. 606, he crushed 
Pharaoh Necho at Carchemish on the Euphrates. Pursuing 
the fleeing enemy, he pressed irresistibly forwards into Syria 
and Palestine, took Jerusalem in the same year, made Jehoiakim 


his dependant, and carried off to Babel a number of the Jewish 
youths of highest rank, young Daniel amongst them, to- 
gether with part of the temple furniture (2 Kings xxiv. 1 ; 
2 Chron. xxxvi. 6 f. ; Dan. i. 1 f.). He had gone as far on his 
march as the boundaries of Egypt when he heard of the death 
of his father Nabopolassar at Babylon. In consequence of 
this intelligence he hastened to Babylon the shortest way 
through the desert, with but few attendants, with the view of 
mounting the throne and seizing the reins of government, 
while he caused the army to follow slowly with the prisoners 
and the booty (Beros. I.e.). 

This, the first taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, is the 
commencement of the seventy years of Judah's Chaldean 
bondage, foretold by Jeremiah in xxv. 11, shortly before the 
Chaldeans invaded Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim ; 
and with the subjection of Judah to Nebuchadnezzar's supre- 
macy the dissolution of the kingdom began. For three years 
Jehoiakim remained subject to the king of Babylon ; in the 
fourth year he rebelled against him. Nebuchadnezzar, who 
with the main body of his army was engaged in the interior of 
Asia, lost no time in sending into the rebellious country such 
forces of Chaldeans as were about the frontiers, together with 
contingents of Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites ; and these 
troops devastated Judah throughout the remainder of Jehoi- 
akim's reign (2 Kings xxiv. 1, 2). But immediately upon the 
death of Jehoiakim, just as his son had mounted the throne, 
Nebuchadnezzar's generals advanced against Jerusalem with a 
vast army and invested the city in retribution for Jehoiakim's 
defection. During the siege Nebuchadnezzar joined the army. 
Jehoiachin, seeing the impossibility of holding out any longer 
against the besiegers, resolved to go out to the king of Babylon, 
taking with him the queen-mother, the princes of the kingdom, 
and the officers of the court, and to make unconditional sur- 
render of himself and the city. Nebuchadnezzar made the 
king and his train prisoners ; and, after plundering the treasures 
of the royal palace and the temple, carried captive to Babylon 
the king, the leading men of the country, the soldiers, the 
smiths and artisans, and, in short, every man in Jerusalem who 
was capable of bearing arms. He left in the land only the 


poorest sort of the people, from whom no insurrectionary 
attempts were to be feared; and having taken an oath of fealty 
from Mattaniah, the uncle of the captive king, he installed him, 
under the name of Zedekiah, as vassal king over a land that 
had been robbed of all that was powerful or noble amongst its 
inhabitants (2 Kings xxiv. 8-17 ; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 10). Nor 
did Zedekiah either keep true to the oath of allegiance he had 
sworn and pledged to the king of Babylon. In the fourth year 
of his reign, ambassadors appeared from the neighbouring states 
of Edonij Amnion, Moab, Tyre, and Sidon, seeking to organize 
a vast coalition against the Chaldean supremacy (Jer. xxvii. 3, 
xxviii. 1). Their mission was indeed unsuccessful ; for Jere- 
miah crushed the people's hope of a speedy return of the exiles 
in Babylon by repeated and emphatic declaration that the 
Babylonian bondage must last seventy years (Jer. xxvii.-xxix.). 
In the same year Zedekiah visited Babylon, apparently in order 
to assure his liege lord of his loyalty and to deceive him as to his 
projects (Jer. li. 59). But in Zedekiah's ninth year Hophra 
(Apries), the grandson of Necho, succeeded to the crown of 
Egypt ; and when he was arming for war against Babylon, Zede- 
kiah, trusting in the help of Egypt (Ezek. xvii. 15), broke the 
oath of fealty he had sworn (Ezek. xvii. 16), and tried to shake 
off the Babylonian yoke. But straightway a mighty Chaldean 
army marched against Jerusalem, and in the tenth month of 
that same year established a blockade round Jerusalem (2 
Kings xxv. 1). The Egyptian army advanced to relieve the 
beleaguered city, and for a time compelled the Chaldeans to raise 
the siege ; but it was in the end defeated by the Chaldeans in 
a pitched battle (Jer. xxxvii. 5 ff.), and the siege was again 
resumed with all rigoui. For long the Jews made stout re- 
sistance, and fought with the courage of despair, Zedekiah and 
his advisers being compelled to admit that this time Nebuchad- 
nezzar would show no mercy. The Hebrew slaves were set 
free that they might do military service ; the stone buildings 
were one after another torn down that their materials mirrht 
serve to strengthen the walls ; and in this way for about a year 
and a half all the enemy's efforts to master the strong city were 
in vain. Famine had reached its extremity when, in the fourth 
month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the Chaldean batter- 


ing rams made a breach in the northern wall, and through this 
the besiegers made their way into the lower city. The de- 
fenders withdrew to the temple hill and the city of Zion ; and, 
when the Chaldeans began to storm these strongholds during 
the night, Zedekiah, under cover of darkness, fled with the rest 
of his soldiers by the door between the two walls by the king's 
garden. He was, however, overtaken in the steppes of Jericho 
by the pursuing Chaldeans, made prisoner, and carried to 
Eiblah in Coele-Syria. Here Nebuchadnezzar had his head- 
quarters during the siege of Jerusalem, and here he pronounced 
judgment on Zedekiah. His sons and the leading men of Judah 
were put to death before his eyes ; he was then deprived of eye- 
sight and carried in chains to Babylon, where he remained a 
prisoner till his death (2 Kings xxv. 3-7; Jer. xxxix. 2-7, 
lii. 6-11). A month later Nebuzar-adan, the captain of the 
king of Babylon's guard, came to Jerusalem to destroy the re- 
bellious city. The principal priests and officers of the kingdom 
and sixty citizens were sent to the king at Eiblah, and executed 
there. Everything of value to be found amongst the utensils 
of the temple was carried to Babylon, the city with the temple 
and palace was burnt to the ground, the walls were destroyed, 
and what able-bodied men were left amongst the people were 
carried into exile. Nothing was left in the land but a part of 
the poorer people to serve as vinedressers and husbandmen ; 
and over this miserable remnant, increased a little in numbers 
by the return of some of those who had fled during the war 
into the neighbouring countries, Gedaliah the son of Ahikam 
was appointed governor in the Chaldean interest. Jeremiah 
chose to stay with him amidst his countrymen. But three 
months afterwards Gedaliah was murdered, at the instigation of 
Baalis the king of the Ammonites, by one Ishmael, who was 
sprung from the royal stock ; and thereupon a great part of 
the remaining population, fearing the vengeance of the Chal- 
deans, fled, against the prophet's advice, into Egypt (Jer. xl.- 
xliii.). And so the banishment of the people was now a total 
one, and throughout the whole period of the Chaldean 
domination the land was a wilderness. 

Judah was now, like the ten tribes, cast out amongst the 
heathen out of the land the Lord had given them for an inherit- 


ance, because they had forsaken Jahveh, their God, and had 
despised His statutes. Jerusalem, the city of the great King 
over all the earth, was in ruins, the house which the Lord had 
consecrated to His name was burnt with fire, and the people of 
His covenant had become a scorn and derision to all peoples. 
But God had not broken His covenant with Israel. Even in 
the law — Lev. xxvi. and Deut. xxx. — He had promised that even 
when Israel was an outcast from his land amongst the heathen, 
He would remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob, and not utterly reject the exiles ; but when they had 
borne the punishment of their sins, would turn again their cap- 
tivity, and gather them together out of the nations. 


Concerning the life and labours of the prophet Jeremiah, we 
have fuller information than we have as to those of many of 
the other prophets. The man is very clearly reflected in his 
prophecies, and his life is closely interwoven with the history 
of Judah. We consider first the outward circumstances of the 
prophet's life, and then his character and mental gifts. 

a. His Outward Circumstances. — Jeremiah O^BT, con- 
tracted rM?T.j 'Iepe/jLias, Jeremias) was the son of Hilkiah, one 
of the priests belonging to the priest-city Anathoth, situated 
about five miles north of Jerusalem, now a village called Anata. 
This Hilkiah is not the high priest of that name, mentioned in 
2 Kings xxii. 4 ff. and 2 Chron. xxxiv. 9, as has been sup- 
posed by some of the Fathers, Rabbins, and recent commen- 
tators. This view is shown to be untenable by the indefinite 
D^nbn |D ; i. 1. Besides, it is hardly likely that the high priest 
could have lived with his household out of Jerusalem, as was 
the case in Jeremiah's family (Jer. xxxii. 8, xxxvii. 12 ff.) ; 
and we learn from 1 Kings ii. 26 that it was priests of the 
house of Ithamar that lived in Anathoth, whereas the high 
priests belonged to the line of Eleazar and the house of 
Phinehas (1 Chron. xxiv. 3). Jeremiah, called to be prophet 
at an early age ("1JW, i. 6), laboured in Jerusalem from the thir- 
teenth year of Josiah's reign (b.c. 629) until the fall of the 
kingdom ; and after the destruction of Jerusalem he continued 


his work for some years longer amidst the ruins of Judah, and 
in Egypt amongst those of his countrymen who had fled 
thither (i. 2 f., xxv. 3, xl.-xliv.). His prophetic ministry falls, 
consequently, into the period of the internal dissolution of the 
kingdom of Judah, and its destruction by the Chaldeans. He 
had himself received a mission from the Lord to peoples and 
kingdoms, as well to break down and destroy, as to build and 
plant (i. 10). He was to fulfil this mission, in the first place, 
in the case of Judah, and then to the heathen peoples, in so 
far forth as they came in contact with the kingdom of God in 
Judah. The scene of his labours was Jerusalem. Here he 
proclaimed the word of the Lord in the courts of the temple 
(e.g. vii. 2, xxvi. 1) ; at the gates of the city (xvii. 19) ; in the 
king's palace (xxii. 1, xxxvii. 17); in the prison (xxxii. 1); and 
in other places (xviii. 1 ff., xix. 1 ff., xxvii. 2). Some com- 
mentators think that he first began as prophet in his native 
town of Anathoth, and that he wrought there for some time 
ere he visited Jerusalem ; but this is in contradiction to the 
statement of ii. 2, that he uttered almost his very first dis- 
course " before the ears of Jerusalem." Nor does this assump- 
tion find any support from xi. 21, xii. 5 ff. All that can be 
gathered from these passages is, that during his ministry he 
occasionally visited his native town, which lay so near Jeru- 
salem, and preached the word of the Lord to his former fellow- 

When he began his work as prophet, King Josiah had already 
taken in hand the extirpation of idolatry and the restoration of 
the worship of Jahveh in the temple ; and Jeremiah was set 
apart by the Lord to be a prophet that he might support the 
crodly king in this work. His task was to bring back the 
hearts of the people to the God of their fathers by preaching 
God's word, and to convert that outward return to the service 
of Jahveh into a thorough turning of the heart to Him, so as 
to rescue from destruction all who were willing to convert and 
be saved. Encouraged by Manasseh's sins, backsliding from 
the Lord, godlessness, and unrighteousness had reached in Judah 
such a pitch, that it was no longer possible to turn aside the 
judgment of rejection from the face of the Lord, to save the 
backsliding race from being delivered into the power of the 


heatlien. Yet the faithful covenant God, in divine long-suffer- 
in g, oranted to His faithless people still another gracious oppor- 
tunity for repentance and return to Him; He gave them 
Josiah's reformation, and sent the prophets, because, though 
resolved to punish the sinful people for its stiff-necked apostasy, 
He would not make an utter end of it. This gives us a view- 
point from which to consider Jeremiah's mission, and looking 
hence, we cannot fail to find sufficient light to enable us to 
understand the whole course of his labours, and the contents 
of his discourses. 

Immediately after his call, he was made to see, under the 
emblem of a seething caldron, the evil that was about to 
break from out of the north upon all the inhabitants of the 
land : the families of the kingdoms of the north are to come 
and set their thrones before the gates of Jerusalem and the 
cities of Judah, and through them God is to utter judgment 
upon Judah for its idolatry (i. 13-1G). Accordingly, from 
the be^innino; of his work in the days of Josiah onwards, the 
prophet can never be driven from the maintenance of his posi- 
tion, that Judah and Jerusalem will be laid waste by a hostile 
nation besetting them from the north, that the people of 
Judah will fall by the enemy's sword, and go forth into cap- 
tivity ; cf. iv. 5 ff., 13 ff., 27 ff. ; v. 15 ff., vi. 22 ff., etc. 
This nation, not particularly specified in the prophecies of the 
earlier period, is none other than that of the Chaldeans, the 
king of Babylon and his hosts. It is not the nation of the 
Scythians, as many commentators suppose; see the comm. on 
iv. 5 ff. Nevertheless he unremittingly calls upon all ranks 
of his people to repent, to do away with the abominable idols, 
and to cease from its wickedness ; to plough up a new soil and 
not sow among thorns, lest the anger of the Lord break forth 
in fire and burn unquenchably (iv. 1-4; cf. vi. 8, 16, vii. 3 f., 
etc.). He is never weary of holding up their sins to the view 
of the people and its leaders, the corrupt priests, the false 
prophets, the godless kings and princes ; this, too, he does amidst 
much trial both from within and from without, and without 
seeing any fruit of his labours (cf. sxv. 3-8). After twenty- 
three years of indefatigable expostulation with the people, the 
judgment of which he had so long warned them burst upon 


the incorrigible race. The fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign 
(B.C. 606) forms a turning point not only in the history of the 
kingdom, but also in Jeremiah's work as prophet. In the year 
in which Jerusalem was taken for the first time, and Judah 
made tributary to the Chaldeans, those devastations began 
with which Jeremiah had so often threatened his hardened 
hearers ; and together with it came the fulfilment of what 
Jeremiah had shortly before foretold, the seventy years' domi- 
nion of Babylon over Judah, and over Egypt and the neigh- 
bouring peoples (Jer. xxv. 19). For seventy years these 
nations are to serve the king of Babylon ; but when these 
years are out, the king and land of the Chaldeans shall be 
visited, Judah shall be set free from its captivity, and shall 
return into its own land (xxv. 11 f., xxxvii. 6 f., xxix. 10). 

The progressive fulfilment of Jeremiah's warning prophecies 
vindicated his character as prophet of the Lord ; yet, notwith- 
standing, it was now that the sorest days of trial in his calling 
were to come. At the first taking of Jerusalem, Nebuchad- 
nezzar had contented himself with reducing Jehoiakim under 
his sway and imposing a tribute on the land, and king and 
people but waited and plotted for a favourable opportunity to 
shake off the Babylonian yoke. In this course they were en- 
couraged by the lying prophecies of the false prophets, and the 
work done by these men prepared for Jeremiah sore contro- 
versies and bitter trials. At the very beginning of Jehoiakim's 
reign, the priests, the prophets, and the people assembled in the 
temple, laid hands on Jeremiah, because he had declared that 
Zion should share the fate of Shiloh, and that Jerusalem should 
be destroyed. He was by them found worthy of death, and he 
escaped from the power of his enemies only by the mediation 
of the princes of Judah, who hastened to his rescue, and re- 
minded the people that in Hezekiah's days the prophet Micah 
had uttered a like prophecy, and yet had suffered nothing at 
the hand of the king, because he feared God. At the same 
time, Uriah, who had foretold the same issue of affairs, and 
who had fled to Egypt to escape Jehoiakim's vengeance, was 
forced back thence by an envoy of the king and put to death 
(Jer. xxvi.). Now it was that Jeremiah, by command of God, 
caused his assistant Baruch to write all the discourses he had 


delivered into a roll-book, and to read it before the assembled 
people on the day of the fast, observed in the ninth month of 
the fifth year of Jehoiakim's reign. When the king had word 
of it, he caused the roll to be brought and read to him. But 
when two or three passages had been read, he cut the roll in 
pieces and cast the fragments into a brasier that was burning 
before him. He ordered Jeremiah and Baruch to be brought ; 
but by the advice of the friendly princes they had concealed 
themselves, and God hid them so that they were not found 
(chap, xxxvi.). It does not appear that the prophet suffered 
any further persecution under Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin. Two 
years after the fast above mentioned, Jehoiakim rose against 
Nebuchadnezzar. The result was, that Jerusalem was besieged 
and taken for the second time in the reign of the next king ; 
Jehoia3»m, the leading men, and the flower of the nation were 
carried into exile to Babylon ; and so Jeremiah's prophecy was 
yet more strikingly affirmed. Jerusalem was saved from de- 
struction this time again, and in Zedekiah, the uncle of the 
exiled king, who had, of course, to take the oath of fealty, the 
country had again a king of the old stock. Yet the heavy 
blow that had now fallen on the nation was not sufficient to 
bend the stiff neck of the infatuated people and its leaders. 
Even yet were found false prophets who foretold the speedy 
overthrow of Chaldean domination, and the return, ere long, 
of the exiles (chap, xxviii.). In vain did Jeremiah lift up his 
voice in warning against putting reliance on these prophets, or 
on the soothsayers and sorcerers who speak like them (chap, 
xxvii. 9 f., 14). "When, during the first years of Zedekiah's 
reign, ambassadors had come from the bordering nations, Jere- 
miah, in opposition to the false prophets, declares to the king 
that God has given all these countries into the hand of the 
king of Babylon, and that these peoples shall serve him and 
his son and his grandson. He cries to the king, " Put your 
necks into the yoke of the king of Babylon, and ye shall live ; 
he that will not serve him shall perish by sword, famine, and 
pestilence" (chap, xxvii. 12 ff.). This announcement he 
repeated before the people, the princes, and the king, during 
the siege by the Chaldeans, which followed on Zedekiah's 
treacherous insurrection against his liege lord, and he chose for 


it the particular time at which the Chaldeans had temporarily 
raised the siege, in order to meet the Egyptian king in the field, 
Pharaoh Hophra having advanced to the help of the Jews 
(Jer. xxxiv. 20 ff.). It was then that, when going out by the 
city gate, Jeremiah was laid hold of, beaten by the magistrates, 
and thrown into prison, on the pretext that he wanted to desert 
to the Chaldeans. After he had spent a long time in prison, the 
kino- had him brought to him, and inquired of him secretly for 
a word of Jahveh ; but Jeremiah had no other word from God 
to give him but, " Thou shalt be given into the hand of the 
king of Babylon." Favoured by this opportunity, he com- 
plained to the king about his imprisonment. Zedekiah gave 
order that he should not be taken back to the prison, but placed 
in the court of the prison, and that a loaf of bread should be 
given him daily until all the bread in Jerusalem was consumed 
(chap, xxxvii.). Shortly thereafter, however, some of the 
princes demanded of the king the death of the prophet, on the 
ground that he was paralysing the courage of soldiers and 
people by such speeches as, " He that remains in this city shall 
die by sword, famine, and pestilence ; but he that goeth out 
to the Chaldeans shall carry off his life as a prey from them." 
They alleged he was seeking the hurt and not the weal of the 
city ; and the feeble king yielded to their demands, with the 
words : " Behold, he is in your hand, for the king can do 
nothing against you." Upon this he was cast into a deep pit in 
the court of the prison, in the slime of which he sank deep, and 
would soon have perished but for the noble-minded Ethiopian 
Ebed-melech, a royal chamberlain, who made application to the 
kino- on his behalf, and procured his removal out of the dun- 
geon of mire. When consulted privately by the king yet again, 
he had none other than his former answer to give him, and so 
he remained in the court of the prison until the capture of 
Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (chap, xxxviii.). After this he 
was restored to freedom by Nebuzar-adan, the captain of 
Nebuchadnezzar's guard, at the command of the king; and 
being left free to choose his place of residence, he decided to 
remain at Mizpah with Gedaliah, appointed governor of the 
land, amongst his own people (chap, xxxix. 11-14, and xl. 1-6). 
Now it was that he composed the Lamentations upon the fall 


of Jerusalem and Judah. After the foul murder of Gedaliah, 
the people, fleeing through fear of Chaldean vengeance, com- 
pelled him to accompany them to Egypt, although he had 
expressly protested against the flight as a thing displeasing 
to God (xli. 17 — xliii. 7). In Egypt he foretold the con- 
quest of the land by Nebuchadnezzar (xliii. 8-13) ; and, 
further on, the judgment of God on his countrymen, who had 
attached themselves to the worship of the Queen of Heaven 
(xliv.). Beyond this we are told nothing else about him 
in Bible records. Neither the time, the place, nor the manner 
of his death is known. We cannot confidently assert from 
chap, xliv: that he was still living in B.C. 570, for this [last] 
discourse of the prophet does not necessarily presume the death 
of King Hophra (B.C. 570). Only this much is certain, that 
he lived yet for some years in Egypt, till about 585 or 580 ; 
that his labours consequently extended over some fifty years, 
and so that, presuming he was called to be prophet when a 
youth of 20 to 25 years old, he must have attained an age of 
70 to 75 years. As to his death, we are told in the fathers 
Jerome, Tertull., Epiph., that he was stoned by the people at 
Tahpanhes {Daphne of Egypt), and accordingly his grave used 
to be pointed out near Cairo. But a Jewish tradition, in the 
Seder ol. rabb. c. 26, makes him out to have been carried off 
with Baruch to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar at the conquest 
of Egypt, in the 27th year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign. 
Isidor Pelusiota, epist. i. 298, calls him nroXviradeaTaro^ rcov 
7rpo(f}7)7wv ; but the greater were the ignominy and suffering 
endured by Jeremiah in life, the higher was the esteem in 
which he was held by posterity, chiefly, doubtless, because of 
the exact fulfilment of his prophecy as to the seventy years' 
duration of the Babylonian empire (cf. Dan. ix. 2, 2 Chron. 
xxxvi. 20 f., Ezra i. 1). Jesus Sirach, in his Praise of the 
Prophets, Ecclus. c. xlix. 7, does not go beyond what we already 
know from Jer. i. 10 ; but as early as the second book of the 
iNfaccabees, we have traditions and legends which leave no 
doubt of the profound veneration in which he was held, espe- 
cially by the Alexandrian Jews. 1 

1 Thus the vision reported of Judas Maccabams in 2 Mace. xv. 12 ff., to 
the effect that in a dream a man appeared to him. standing beside the high 
VOL. I. B 


b. His Chakacter and Mental Qualities.— If we gather 
together in one the points of view that are discovered in a sum- 
mary glance over Jeremiah's work as a prophet, we feel the 
truth of Ed. Vilmar's statement at p. 38 of his essay on the 
prophet Jeremiah in the periodical, Der Beweis des Glaubens. 
Bd. v. Giitersloh 1869. "When we consider the prophet's 
faith in the imperishableness of God's people, in spite of the 
inevitable ruin which is to overwhelm the race then living, and 
his conviction, firm as the rock, that the Chaldeans are invincible 
until the end of the period allotted to them by Providence, it is 
manifest that his work is grounded in something other and 
higher than mere political sharp-sightedness or human sagacity." 
Nor is the unintermitting stedfastness with which, amidst the 
sorest difficulties from without, he exercised his office to be 
explained by the native strength of his character. Naturally 
of a yielding disposition, sensitive and timid, it was with 
trembling that he bowed to God's call (i. 6) ; and afterwards, 
when borne down by the burden of them, he repeatedly enter- 
tained the wish to be relieved from his hard duties. " Thou 
hast persuaded me, Lord," he complains in xx. 7 ff., " and I 
let myself be persuaded ; Thou hast laid hold on me and hast 
prevailed. I am become a laughing-stock all the day long : the 
word of Jahveh is become a reproach and a derision. And I 
thought : I will think no more of Him nor speak more in His 
name ; and it was in my head as burning fire, shut up in my 
bones, and I become weary of bearing up, and cannot." 
Though filled with glowing love that sought the salvation of 
his people, he is compelled, while he beholds their moral corrupt- 
priest Onias, while he prayed for his people,— a man marked by his hoary 
hair and venerableness, engirded by wondrous and glorious majesty, and 
that Onias said : " This is the q>a»lsh.q>t}s that has prayed so much for the 
people and the holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God; " that Jeremiah 
held out to Judas a golden sword, with the words, " Take this holy sword 
as a gift from God 5 therewith thou shalt smite the adversaries." Further, 
we have in 2 Mace. ii. 4 ff., that at the destruction of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 
hid the ark, the holy fire, the incense with its altar and the tabernacle, in a 
cave of the mountain from which Moses saw the promised land, and that 
this place will not be found again till the Lord gathers His people and is 
gracious to it. Hence arose the expectation which we find in Matt. xvi. 14. 
that Jeremiah will appear again as the forerunner of the Messiah. 


ness, to cry out: l; that I had in the wilderness a lodrrjno-- 
place of wayfarers ! then would I leave my people, and go from 
them; for they are all adulterers, a crew of faithless men" (ix. 1). 
And his assurance that the judgment about to burst on the 
land and people could not be turned aside, draws from him the 
sigh : " O that mine head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain 
of tears! then would I weep day and night for the slain of my 
people" (viii. 23). "He was no second Elijah," as Hgstbg. 
Christol. ii. p. 370 happily puts it. " He had a soft nature, a sus- 
ceptible temperament ; his tears flowed readily. And he who 
was so glad to live in peace and love with all men, must needs, 
because he has enlisted in the service of truth, become a second 
Ishmael, his hand against every man, and every man's hand 
against him ; he whose love for his people was so glowing, was 
doomed to see that love misconstrued, to see himself branded 
as a traitor by those who were themselves the traitors to the 
people." Experiences like these raised bitter struggles in his 
soul, repeatedly set forth by him, especially in xii. and xx. 
Yet he stands immovably stedfast in the strife against all the 
powers of wickedness, like " a pillar of iron and a wall of brass 
against the whole land, the kings of Judah, its rulers and 
priests, and against the common people," so that all who strove 
against him could effect nothing, because the Lord, according 
to His promise, i. 18 f., was with him, stood by his side as a 
terrible warrior (xx. 11), and showed His power mighty in the 
prophet's weakness. 

This character of Jeremiah is also reflected in his writings. 
His speech is clear and simple, incisive and pithy, and, though 
generally speaking somewhat diffuse, yet ever rich in thought. 
If it lacks the lofty strain, the soaring flight of an Isaiah, yet 
it has beauties of its own. It is distinguished by a wealth of 
new imagery which is wrought out with great delicacy and deep 
feeling, and by " a versatility that easily adapts itself to the most 
various objects, and by artistic clearness" (Ewald). In the 
management of his thoughts Jeremiah has more recourse than 
other prophets to the law and the older sacred writings (cf. 
Koenig, das Deuteronom u. der PropJi. Jcrcmia, Heft ii. of the 
Alltstl. Studien ; and A. Kiiper, Jeremias librorxim sacrr. interpres 
clique vindex). And his style of expression is rich in repetitions 

20 the rnoniECiES of jeremiaii. 

and standing phrases. These peculiarities are not, however, to be 
regarded as signs of the progressive decline of the prophetic gift 
(Ew.), but are to be derived from deeper foundations, from positive 
and fundamental causes. The continual recurrence to the law, 
and the frequent application of the prophetic parts of Deu- 
teronomy, was prompted by the circumstances of the time. 
The wider the people's apostasy from God's law extended itself, 
so much the greater became the need for a renewed preaching 
of the law, that should point to the sore judgments there 
threatened against hardened sinners, now about to come into 
fulfilment. And as against the guile of false prophets whose 
influence with the infatuated people became ever greater, the 
true witnesses of the Lord could have no more effective means 
of showing and proving the divineness of their mission and the 
truth of their testimony than by bringing strongly out their 
connection with the old prophets and their utterances. On 
this wise did Jeremiah put in small compass and preserve the 
spiritual inheritance which Israel had received from Moses a 
thousand years before, and thus he sent it with the people into 
exile as its better self (E. Vilm. as above). The numerous 
repetitions do unquestionably produce a certain monotony, but 
this monotony is nothing else than the expression of the bitter 
grief that penetrates the soul ; the soul is full of the one thought 
which takes entire possession of its elastic powers, and is never 
weary of ever crying out anew the same truth to the people, so 
as to stagger their assurance by this importunate expostulation 
(cf. Haevern. Inlrod. p. 196). From the same cause comes 
the negligence in diction and style, on which Jerome in 
Prol. in Jer. passed this criticism : Jeremias propheta sermone 
ajmd Hebrceos Jesaia et Osea et quibusdam allis pvoplietis videtur 
esse rusticior, sed sensibus par est ; and further in the Proccm. 
to lib. iv. of the Comment. : quantum in verbis simplex et facilis, 
tantum in majestate sensuum profundissimus. An unadorned 
style is the natural expression of a heart filled with grief and 
sadness. "He that is sad and downcast in heart, whose eyes 
run over with tears (Lam. ii. 2), is not the man to deck and 
trick himself out in frippery and fine speeches" (Hgstb. as above, 
p. 372). Finally, as to the language, the influence of the 
Aramaic upon the Hebrew tongue is already pretty evident. 



a. Contents and Arrangement. — The prophecies of 
Jeremiah divide themselves, in accordance with their subjects, 
into those that concern Judah and the kingdom of God, and 
those regarding foreign nations. The former come first in the 
book, and extend from chap, i.-xlv. ; the latter are comprised in 
chap, xlvi.-li. The former again fall into three groups, 
clearly distinguishable by their form and subjects. So that the 
whole book may be divided into four sections ; while chap. i. 
contains the account of the prophet's consecration, and chap, 
lii. furnishes an historical supplement. 

The first section occupies chap, ii.-xx., and comprises six 
lengthy discourses which contain the substance of Jeremiah's 
oral preaching during the reign of Josiah. In these the people 
is brought face to face with its apostasy from the Lord into 
idolatry ; its unrighteousness and moral corruption is set before 
it, the need of contrition and repentance is brought home, and 
a race of hardened sinners is threatened with the devastation 
of their land by a barbarous people coming from afar : while 
to the contrite the prospect of a better future is opened up. 
By means of headings, these discourses or compilations of 
discourses are marked off from one another and gathered into 
continuous wholes. The first discourse, chap, ii. 1-iii. 5, sets 
forth, in general terms, the Lord's love and faithfulness towards 
Israel. The second, chap. iii. 6-vi. 30, presents in the first 
half of it (iii. 6-iv. 2) the fate of the ten tribes, their dis- 
persion for their backsliding, and the certainty of their being 
received again in the event of their repentance, all as a warning 
to faithless Judah ; and in the second half (iv. 3— vi. 30), 
announces that if Judah holds on in its disloyalty, its land will 
be ravaged, Jerusalem will be destroyed, and its people cast 
out amongst the heathen. The third discourse, chap. vi»-x., 
admonishes against a vain confidence in the temple and the 
sacrifices, and threatens the dispersion of Judah and the spolia- 
tion of the country (vii. 1-viii. 3) ; chides the people for 
being obstinately averse to all reformation (viii. 4-ix. 21) ; 
shows wherein true wisdom consists, and points out the folly 
of idolatry (ix. 22-x. 25). The fourth discourse, chap 


xi.-xiii., exhibits the people's disloyalty to the covenant 
(xi. 1-17) ; shows by concrete examples their utter corruptness, 
and tells them that the doom pronounced is irrevocable 
(xi. 18-xii. 17); and closes with a symbolical action adumbrating 
the expulsion into exile of the incorrigible race (xiii.). The 
fifth, chap, xiv.-xvii., "the word concerning the droughts," 
gives illustrative evidence to show that the impending judg- 
ment cannot be turned aside by any entreaties ; that Judah, 
for its sins, will be driven into exile, but will yet in the 
future be brought back again (xiv. 1— xvii. 4) ; and closes 
with general animadversions upon the root of the mischief, and 
the way by which punishment may be escaped (xvii. 5-27). 
The sixth discourse, chap, xviii.-xx., contains two oracles from 
God, set forth in symbolical actions, which signify the judgment 
about to burst on Judah for its continuance in sin, and which 
drew down persecution, blows, and harsh imprisonment on the 
prophet, so that he complains of his distress to the Lord, and 
curses the day of his birth. All these discourses have this in 
common, that threatening and promise are alike general in their 
terms. Most emphatically and repeatedly is threatening made 
of the devastation of the land by enemies, of the destruction of 
Jerusalem, and the dispersion of Judah amongst the heathen ; 
and yet nowhere is it indicated who are to execute this judg- 
ment. Not until the threatening addressed to Pashur in 
xx. 4 are we told that it is the king of Babylon into whose 
hand all Judah is to be given, that he may lead them away to 
Babylon and smite them with the sword. And beyond the 
general indication, iii. 6, "in the days of Josiah," not even 
the headings contain any hint as to the date of the several 
prophecies or of portions of them, or as to the circumstances 
that called them forth. The quite general character of the 
heading, iii. 6, and the fact that the tone and subject 
remain identical throughout the whole series of chapters that 
open the collected prophecies of Jeremiah, are sufficient to 
justify Hgstbg. (as above, p. 373) in concluding that " we have 
here before us not so much a series of prophecies which were 
delivered precisely as we have them, each on a particular oc- 
casion during Josiah's reign, but rather a resume of Jeremiah's 
entire public work as prophet during Josiah's reign ; a summary 


of all that, taken apart from the special circumstances of the 
time, had at large the aim of giving deeper stability to the 
reformatory efforts Josiah was carrying on in outward affairs." 
This view is most just, only it is not to be limited to chap, 
ii.-vii., but is equally applicable to the whole of the first section 
of the collected prophecies. 

The second section, chap, xxi.-xxxii., contains special pre- 
dictions ; on the one hand, of the judgment to be executed by 
the Chaldeans (xxvii.— xxix.) ; on the other, of Messianic sal- 
vation (xxx.-xxxiii.). The predictions of judgment fall into 
three groups. The central one of these, the announcement of 
the seventy years' dominion of the Chaldeans over Judah and 
all nations, passes into a description of judgment to come 
upon the whole world. As introductory to this, we have it 
announced in xxi. that Judah and its royal family are to 
be given into the hands of the king of Babylon ; we have 
in xxii. and xxiii. the word concerning the shepherds and 
leaders of the people ; while in xxiv. comes the statement, 
illustrated by the emblem of two baskets of figs, as to the cha- 
racter and future fortunes of the Jewish people. The several 
parts of this group are of various dates. The intimation of 
the fate awaiting Judah in xxi. is, according to the heading, 
taken from the answer given to Zedekiah by Jeremiah during 
the last siege of Jerusalem, when the king had inquired of him 
about the issue of the war ; the denunciation of the people's 
corrupt rulers, the wicked kings and false prophets, together 
with the promise that a righteous branch is yet to be raised to 
David, belongs, if we may judge from what is therein said of 
the kings, to the times of Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin ; while 
the vision of the two baskets of figs in xxiv. dates from the 
first part of Zedekiah's reign, shortly after Jehoiachin and 
the best part of the nation had been carried off to Babylon. 
As this group of prophecies is a preparation for the central 
prediction of judgment in xxv., so the group that follows, 
xxvi.-xxix., serves to show reason for the universal judg- 
ment, and to maintain it against the contradiction of the false 
prophets and of the people deluded by their vain expecta- 
tions. To the same end we are told in xxvi. of the accu- 
sation and acquittal of Jeremiah on the charge of his having 


foretold the destruction of Jerusalem : this and the supple- 
mentary notice of the prophet Urijah fall within the reign of 
Jehoialdm. The same aim is yet more clearly to be traced 
in the oracle in xxvii., regarding the yoke of the king of 
Babylon, which God will lay on the kings of Edom, Moab, 
Ammon, and Phoenicia, on King Zedekiah, the priests and 
people of Judah ; in the threatening against the lying prophet 
Hananiah in xxviii. ; and in Jeremiah's letter to the exiles 
in Babylon in xxix., dating from the earlier years of Zede- 
kiah' s reign. From the dark background of these threaten- 
ings stands out in chap, xxx.-xxxiii. the comforting promise 
of the salvation of Israel. The prediction of grace and 
glory yet in store for Israel and Judah through the Messiah 
occupies two long discourses. The first is a complete whole, 
both in matter and in form. It begins with intimating the 
recovery of both houses of Israel from captivity and the cer- 
tainty of their being received again as the people of God 
(xxx. 1-22), while the wicked fall before God's wrath ; then 
xxxi. promises grace and salvation, first to the ten tribes 
(vers. 1-22), then to Judah (vers. 23-36) ; lastly, we have 
(vers. 27-40) intimation that a new and everlasting covenant 
will be concluded with the whole covenant people. The second 
discourse in chaps, xxxii. and xxxiii. goes to support the first, and 
consists of two words of God communicated to Jeremiah in the 
tenth year of Zedekiah, i.e. in prospect of the destruction of 
Jerusalem ; one being in emblematic shape (xxxii.), the other 
is another explicit prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, 
and of blessings yet in store for the race of David and for the 
Levitical priesthood (xxiii.). 

The third section of the book, chap, xxxiv.-xliv., has, in 
the first place, brief utterances of the prophet, dating from 
the times of Zedekiah and Jehoiachin, together with the 
circumstances that called them forth, in xxxiv.-xxxvi. ; 
secondly, in xxxvii.-xxxix., notice of the prophet's experi- 
ences, and of the counsels given by him during the siege 
in Zedekiah's reign up till the taking of the city; finally, 
in xl.-xlv. are given events that happened and prophecies 
that were delivered after the siege. So that here there is 
gathered together by way of supplements all that was of 


cardinal importance in Jeremiah's efforts in behalf of the un- 
happy people, in so far as it had not found a place in the 
previous sections. 

In the fourth section, chap, xlvi.-li., follow prophecies against 
foreign nations, uttered partly in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, 
or rather later, partly in the first year of Zedekiah. And last 
of all, the conclusion of the whole collective book is formed by 
chap, lii., an historical supplement which is not the work of 
Jeremiah himself. In it are notices of the destruction of the 
city, of the number of the captives taken to Babylon, and of 
what befell King Jehoiachin there. 

b. Origin of the Compilation or Book of the Prophecies 
of Jeremiah. — Regarding the composition of the book, all sorts 
of ingenious and arbitrary hypotheses have been propounded. 
Almost all of them proceed on the assumption that the longer 
discourses of the first part of the book consist of a greater or 
less number of addresses delivered to the people at stated times, 
and have been arranged partly chronologically, but partly also 
without reference to any plan whatever. Hence the conclu- 
sion is drawn that in the book a hopeless confusion reigns. 
In proof of this, see the hypotheses of Movers and Hitzig. 
From the summary of contents just given, it is plain that in 
none of the four sections of the book has chronological succes- 
sion been the principle of arrangement ; this has been had 
regard to only in so far as it fell in with the plan chiefly kept 
in view, which was that of grouping the fragments accord- 
ing to their subject-matter. In the three sections of the 
prophecies concerning Israel, a general chronological order has 
to a certain extent been observed thus far, namely, that in the 
first section (ii.-xx.) are the discourses of the time of Josiah ; 
in the second (xxi.-xxxiii.), the prophecies belonging to the 
period between the fourth year of Jehoiakim and the siege 
of Jerusalem under Zedekiah ; in the third (xxxiv.-xlv.), 
events and oracles of the time before and after the sie^e and 
capture of the city. But even in those passages in the second 
and third sections which are furnished with historical references, 
order in time is so little regarded that discourses of the time 
of Zedekiah precede those of Jehoiakim's time. And in the 


first section the date of the several discourses is a matter of 
so secondary importance that, beyond the indefinite intimation in 
iii. 6, there is not to be found in any of the headings any hint of 
the date ; and here, upon the whole, we have not the individual 
discourses in the form in which they were under various cir- 
cumstances delivered to the people, but only a resume of his 
oral addresses arranged with reference to the subject-matter. 

The first notice of a written collection of the prophecies 
occurs in xxxvi. Here we are told that in the fourth year 
of Jehoiakim's reign, Jeremiah, by divine command, caused 
his assistant Baruch to write in a roll all the words he had 
spoken concerning Israel and Judah and all nations from the 
day he was called up till that time, intending them to be 
read by Baruch to the assembled people in the temple on the 
approaching fast. And after the king had cut up the roll and 
cast it into the fire, .the prophet caused the words Baruch had 
taken down to his dictation to be written anew in a roll, with 
the addition of many words of like import. This fact suggests 
the idea that the second roll written by Baruch to Jeremiah's 
dictation formed the basis of the collected edition of all Jere- 
miah's prophecies. The history makes it clear that till then the 
prophet had not committed his prophecies to writing, and that 
in the roll written by Baruch they for the first time assumed 
a written form. The same account leads us also to suppose 
that in this roll the prophet's discourses and addresses were not 
transcribed in the precise words and in the exact order in which 
he had from time to time delivered them to the people, but 
that they were set down from memory, the substance only being 
preserved. The design with which they were committed to 
writing was to lead the people to humble themselves before 
the Lord and turn from their evil ways (xxxvi. 3, 7), by 
means of importunately forcing upon their attention all God's 
commands and warnings. And we may feel sure that this 
parenetic aim was foremost not only in the first document 
(burnt by the king), but in the second also ; it was not proposed 
here either to give a complete and authoritative transcription 
of all the prophet's sayings and speeches. The assumption of 
recent critics seems justifiable, that the document composed in 
Jehoiakim's reign was the foundation of the book handed down 


to us, and that it was extended to the compass of the canonical 
book by the addition of revelations vouchsafed after that time, 
and of the historical notices that most illustrated Jeremiah's 
labours. But, however great be the probability of this view, we 
are no longer in a position to point out the original book in 
that which we have received, and as a constituent part of the 
same. At first sight, we might indeed be led to look on the 
first twenty chapters of our book as the original document, 
since the character of these chapters rather favours the hypo- 
thesis. For they are all lengthy compositions, condensed from 
oral addresses with the view of reporting mainly the substance 
of them ; 1 nor is there in them anything that certainly carries 
us beyond the time of Josiah and the beginning of Jehoiakim's 
reign, except indeed the heading of the book, i. 1-3, and 
this was certainly prefixed only when the book was given 
forth as a whole. But according to the statement in xxxvi. 2, 
the original manuscript prepared by Baruch contained not only 
the words of the prophet which he had up to that time spoken 
concerning Israel and Judah, but also his words concerning 
all nations, that is, doubtless, all the prophecies concern- 
ing the heathen he had till now uttered, viz. xxv. 15-xxxi., 
xlvi.-xlix. 33. Nor can the most important discourse, chap, 
xxv., belonging to the beginning of the fourth year of Jehoiakim, 
have been omitted from the original manuscript ; certainly not 
from the second roll, increased by many words, which was put 
together after the first was burnt. For of the second manu- 
script we may say with perfect confidence what Ewald says of 
the first, that nothing of importance would be omitted from it. 
If then we may take for granted that the discourse of chap, 
xxv. was included in the book put together by Baruch, it fol- 
lows that upon the subsequent expansion of the work that 
chapter must have been displaced from its original position by 

1 As to the putting together of the seven pieces which occupy chap.ii.-xxiv., 
Ewald (Proph. ii. S. 81, der 2 Ausg.) aptly remarks : " In tracing out these 
pieces from memory, the prophet manifestly started from a discourse, im- 
portant in itself or its consequences, which he had delivered in some par- 
ticular place ; this remembrance then became the centre of the piece to be 
written, and to it he was easily able to attach much that was of kindred 


the intercalation of cliap. xxi. and xxiv., which are both of 
the time of Zedekiah. But the displacement of xxv. by pro- 
phecies of Zedekiah's time, and the arrangement of the several 
fragments which compose the central sections of the book now 
in our hands, show conclusively that the method and nature of 
this book are incompatible with the hypothesis that the existing 
book arose from the work written down by Baruch to Jere- 
miah's dictation by the addition and interpolation of later pro- 
phetic utterances and historical facts (Ew., Graf). The 
contents of chap, xxi.-xlv. were unmistakeably disposed ac- 
cording to a definite uniform plan which had regard chiefly 
to the subject-matter of those chapters, even though we are no 
longer in a position confidently to discriminate the several 
constituent parts, or point out the reason for the place assigned 
to them. The same plan may be traced in the arrangement of 
the longer compositions in chap, ii.-xx. The consistency of 
the plan goes to show that the entire collection of the prophecies 
was executed by one editor at one time. Ew., Umbr., and 
Graf conclude that the original book attained its final form by 
a process of completion immediately after the destruction of 
the city and the deportation of the people ; but it is impossible 
to admit their conclusion on the grounds they give, namely, 
the heading at chap. i. 3 : " until the carrying away of Jeru- 
salem in the fifth month ; " and the fact that what befell the 
prophet, and what was spoken by him after the city was de- 
stroyed, have found a place immediately after chap, xxxix. in 
chap, xl.-xliv. Both circumstances are sufficiently explained 
by the fact that with the destruction of Jerusalem, Jere- 
miah's work as a prophet, though not absolutely finished, 
had yet anticipatively come to an end. His later labours 
at Mizpah and in Egypt were but a continuation of secondary 
importance, which might consequently be passed over in the 
heading of the book. See the Comment, on i. 3. We are 
not sure that the period between the fifth and seventh months, 
xli. 1, during which Jeremiah and Baruch remained with the 
governor Gedaliah at Mizpah, was more suitable than any 
other for looking back over his work which had now extended 
over more than forty-one years, and by expanding the book he 
had at an earlier period written, for leaving behind him a 


monument for posterity in the record of his most memorable 
utterances and experiences — a monument that might serve to 
warn and instruct, as well as to comfort in present suffering 
means of the treasure of hopes and promises which he has 
thus laid up (Graf). But, judging from Jeremiah's habit of 
mind, we imagine that at that time Jeremiah would be disposed 
rather to indite the Lamentations than to edit his prophecies. 

Arguments for repeated editings and transformations of par- 
ticular chapters have been founded partly on the subject-matter, 
partly on peculiarities in the form of certain passages, e.g. the 
alternation, in the headings, of the formulas "»bKP y&? HliT 1 121 W) 
or v"N -iOX' s l and "foot? tfPtn; $>K 1W 1T\ Wl ; and the title inw* 
*V2Z1 } which occurs only in certain chapters, xx. 2, xxv. 2, xxviii. 
5, 6, and often, xxix. 1, 29, xxxii. 2. But on deeper investiga- 
tion these arguments appear inconclusive. If we are desirous 
not to add by new and uncertain conjectures to the already large 
number of arbitrary hypotheses as to the compilation and origin 
of the book before us, we must abide by what, after a careful 
scrutiny of its subject-matter and form, proves to be certainly 
established. And the result of our examination may be epito- 
mized in the following propositions : — 1. The book in its canoni- 
cal form has been arranged according to a distinct, self-consistent 
plan, in virtue of which the preservation of chronological order 
has been made secondary to the principle of grouping together 
cognate subjects. 2. The book written by Baruch in the fifth 
year of Jehoiakim's reign, which contained the oracles spoken 
by Jeremiah up till that time, is doubtless the basis of the book 
as finally handed down, without being incorporated with it as a 
distinct work ; but, in accordance with the plan laid down for 
the compilation of the entire series, was so disposed that the 
several portions of it were interspersed with later portions, 
handed down, some orally, some in writing, so that the result 
was a uniform whole. For that prophecies other than those 
in Baruch's roll were straightway written down (if they were 
not first composed in writing), is expressly testified by xxx. 2, 
xxix. 1, and li. 60. 3. The complete edition of the whole was 
not executed till after the close of Jeremiah's labours, probably 
immediately after his death. This work, together with the 
supplying of the historical notice in chap, lii., was probably the 


work of Jeremiah's colleague Baruch, who may have survived 
the last event mentioned in the book, Hi. 31 ff., the restora- 
tion of Jehoiakim to freedom after Nebuchadnezzar's death, 
B.C. 563. 



Jeremiah's prophecies bear everywhere so plainly upon the 
face of them the impress of this prophet's strongly marked in- 
dividuality, that their genuineness, taken as a whole, remains 
unimpugned even by recent criticism. Hitzig, e.g., holds it to 
be so undoubted that in the prolegomena to his commentary he 
simply takes the matter for granted. And Ewald, after ex- 
pounding his view of the contents and origin of the book, 
observes that so striking a similarity in expression, attitude, and 
colouring obtains throughout every portion, that from end to 
end we hear the same prophet speak. Ewald excepts, indeed, the 
oracle against Babylon in chap. 1. and li., which he attributes 
to an anonymous disciple who had not confidence to write in 
his own name, towards the end of the Babylonian captivity. 
He admits that he wrote after the manner of Jeremiah, but 
with this marked difference, that he gave an entirely new refer- 
ence to words which he copied from Jeremiah ; for example, 
according to Ewald, the description of the northern enemies, 
who were in Jeremiah's view first the Scythians and then the 
Chaldeans, is applied by him to the Medes and Persians, who 
were then at war with the Chaldeans. But with Ewald, as 
with his predecessors Eichh., Maur., Knobel, etc., the chief 
motive for denying the genuineness of this prophecy is to be 
found in the dogmatic prejudice which leads them to suppose it 
impossible for Jeremiah to have spoken of the Chaldeans as he 
does in chap. 1. f ., since his expectation was that the Chaldeans 
were to be the divine instruments of carrying out the judgment 
near at hand upon Judah and the other nations. Others, such 
as Movers, de Wette, Hitz., have, on the contrary, proposed to 
get rid of what seemed to them out of order in this prediction 
by assuming interpolations. These critics believe themselves 
further able to make out interpolations, on a greater or less 
scale, in other passages, such as x., xxv., xxvii., xxix., xxx., 


xxxiii., yet without throwing doubt on the genuineness of 
the book at large. See details on this head in my Manual of 
Introduction, § 75 ; and the proof of the assertions in the 
commentary upon the passages in question. 

Besides this, several critics have denied the integrity of the 
Hebrew text, in consideration of the numerous diver ens ncies 
from it which are to be found in the Alexandrine translation ; 
and they have proposed to explain the discrepancies between 
the Greek and the Hebrew text by the hypothesis of two re- 
censions, an Alexandrine Greek recension and a Babylonian 
Jewish. J. D. Mich., in the notes to his translation of the 
New Testament, i. p. 285, declared the text of the LXX. to be 
the original, and purer than the existing Hebrew text; and 
Eichh., Jahn, Bertholdt, Dahler, and, most confident of all, 
Movers (de utriusque recensionis vaticiniorum Jer. grcecai 
Alexandr. et hebraicce Masor., indole et origine), have done what 
they could to establish this position ; while de Wette, Hitz., and 
Bleek (in his Introd.) have adopted the same view in so far that 
they propose in many places to correct the Masoretic text from 
the Alexandrine. But, on the other hand, Kiiper (Jerem. 
librorum ss. interpres), Haevern. (Introd.), J. Wichelhaus (de 
Jeremics versione Alexandr.), and finally, and most thoroughly, 
Graf, in his Comment, p. 40, have made comparison of the two 
texts throughout, and have set the character of the Alexandrine 
text in a clear light ; and their united contention is, that almost 
all the divergencies of this text from the Hebrew have arisen 
from the Greek translator's free and arbitrary way of treating 
the Hebrew original. The text given by the Alexandrine is 
very much shorter. Graf says that about 2700 words of the 
Masoretic text, or somewhere about the eighth part of the whole, 
have not been expressed at all in the Greek, while the few 
additions that occur there are of very trifling importance. The 
Greek text very frequently omits certain standing phrases, forms, 
and expressions often repeated throughout the book : e.g. 0X3 
mm is dropped sixty-four times ; instead of the frequently re- 
curring rriK2V mm r W)W v6*j 'X mm there is usually found 
but mm. In the historical portions the name of the father of 
the principal person, regularly added in the Hebrew, is often 
not given; so with the title tfaan, when Jeremiah is mentioned; 


in speaking of the king of Babylon, the name Nebuchadnezzar, 
which we find thirty-six times in the Hebrew text, appears only 
thirteen times. Such expressions and clauses as seemed synony- 
mous or pleonastic are often left out, frequently to the destruc- 
tion of the parallelism of the clauses, occasionally to the marring 
of the sense; so, too, longer passages which had been given before, 
either literally or in substance. Still greater are the discrep- 
ancies in detail ; and they are of such a sort as to bring plainly 
out on all hands the translator's arbitrariness, carelessness, and 
want of apprehension. All but innumerable are the cases in 
which gender, number, person, and tense are altered, synony- 
mous expressions interchanged, metaphors destroyed, words 
transposed ; we find frequently inexact and false translations, 
erroneous reading of the unpointed text, and occasionally, when 
the Hebrew word was not understood, we have it simply tran- 
scribed in Greek letters, etc. See copious illustration of this 
in Ktiper, Wichelh., and Graf, //. cc, and in my Manual of 
Inlrod. § 175, N. 14. Such being the character of the 
Alexandrine version, it is clearly out of the question to talk 
of the special recension on which it has been based. As 
Hgstb. Christol. ii. p. 461 justly says : " Where it is notorious 
that the rule is carelessness, ignorance, arbitrariness, and utterly- 
defective notions as to what the translator's province is, then 
surely those conclusions are beside the mark that take the con- 
trary of all this for granted." None of those who maintain the 
theory that the Alexandrine translation has been made from a 
special recension of the Hebrew text, has taken the trouble to 
investigate the character of that translation with any minute- 
ness, not even Ewald, though he ventures to assert that the 
mass of slight discrepancies between the LXX. and the existing 
text shows how far the MSS. of this book diverged from one 
another at the time the LXX. originated. He also holds that 
not infrequently the original reading has been preserved in the 
LXX., though he adds the caveat: "but in very many, or 
indeed most of these places, the translator has but read and 
translated too hastily, or again, has simply abbreviated the text 
arbitrarily." Hence we can only subscribe the judgment 
passed by Graf at the end of his examination of the Alexandr. 
translation of the present book : " The proofs of self-confidence 


and arbitrariness on the part of the Alexandrian translator being 
innumerable, it is impossible to concede any critical authority 
to his version, — for it can hardly be called a translation, — or to 
draw from it conclusions as to a Hebrew text differing in form 
from that which has been handed down to us." 

We must maintain this position against Nagelsbach's 
attempt to explain, by means of discrepancies amongst the 
original Hebrew authorities, the different arrangement of the 
prophecies against foreign nations adopted in the LXX., these 
being here introduced in chap. xxv. between ver. 12 and ver. 
14. For the arguments on which Nag., like Movers and Hitz., 
lays stress in his dissertations on Jeremiah in Lange's Bibel- 
iverk, p. 13, and in the exposition of xxv. 12, xxvii. 1, xlix. 
34, and in the introduction to chap, xlvi.-li., are not conclusive, 
and rest on assumptions that are erroneous and quite illegiti- 
mate. In the first place, he finds in vers. 12-14, which, like 
Mow, Hitz., etc., he takes to be a later interpolation, 1 a proof 
that the Book against the Nations must have stood in the im- 
mediate neighbourhood of chap. xxv. To avoid anticipating 
the exposition, we must here confine ourselves to remarking 
that the verses adduced give no such proof : for the grounds 
for this assertion we must refer to the comment on xxv. 
12-14. But besides, it is proved, he says, that the prophecies 
against the nations must once have come after chap. xxv. and 
before chap, xxvii., by the peculiar expression ra Al\dfi at the 
end of chap. xxv. 13 (Septuag.), by the omission of xxvii. 1 

1 The difference in arrangement may be seen from the following table : — 

Septuagint. Masoretic Text. 

Chap. xxv. 15 ff., Prophecy against Elam, Chap. xlix. 34. 

,, xxvi., „ Egypt, ,, xlvi. 

,, xxvii. and xxviii., ., Babylon, ,, I. and li. 

,, xxix. 1-7, ,, the Philistines, ,, xlvii. 1-7. 

„ xxix. 7-29, „ Edom, „ xlix. 7-22. 

,, xxx. 1-5, ,, Ammon, ,, xlix. 1-6. 

xxx. 6-11, ,, Kedar, ,, xlix. 28-33. 

xxx. 12-10, ,, Damascus, ,, xlix. 23-27. 

xxxi., ,, Moab, „ xlviii. 

,, xxxii., „ xxv. 15-38. 

After which chap, xxxiii.-li. of the LXX. rim parallel with chap, xxvi.- 
xlv. of the Masoretic text. 

VOL. I. C 


in Sept., and by the somewhat unexpected date given at xlix 
34. Now the date, " in the beginning of the reign of Zede- 
kiah," in the heading of the prophecy against Elam, xlix. 34, 
found not only in the Masoretic text, but also in the Alexandr. 
version (where, however, it occurs as a postscript at the end 
of the prophecy in xxvi. 1), creates a difficulty only if the 
prophecy be wrongly taken to refer to a conquest of Elam by 
Nebuchadnezzar. The other two arguments, founded on the 
to AlXd/j, of xxv. 13, and the omission of the heading at 
xxvii. 1 (Heb.) in the LXX., stand and fall with the assump- 
tion that the Greek translator adhered closely to the Hebrew 
text and rendered it with literal accuracy, the very reverse 
of which is betrayed from one end of the translation to the 
other. The heading at xxvii. 1, " In the beginning of the 
reign of Jelwiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, came this 
word to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying," coincides word 
for word with the heading of xxvi. 1, save that in the latter 
the words "to Jeremiah" do not occur ; and this former head- 
ing the Greek translator has simply omitted, — holding it to be 
incorrect, since the prophecy belongs to the time of Zedekiah, 
and is addressed to him. On the other hand, he has appended 
to AlXd/u, to the last clause of xxv. 13, " which Jeremiah 
prophesied against the nations," taking this clause to be the 
heading of Jeremiah's prophecies against the nations; this 
appears from the to Al\d/x, manifestly imitated from the eVl 
to edvrj. His purpose was to make out the following oracle as 
against Elam ; but he omitted from its place the full title of the 
prophecy against Elam, because it seemed to him unsuitable to 
have it come immediately after the (in his view) general head- 
ing, a eTrpofajrevae 'Iepe/xia^ eVl to edvTj, while, however, he 
introduced it at the end of the prophecy. It is wholly wrong 
to suppose that the heading at xxvii. 1 of the Hebrew text, 
omitted in the LXX., is nothing but the postscript to the 
prophecy against Elam (xxvi. 1 in the LXX. and xlix. 34 
in the Heb.) ; for this postscript runs thus : iv dpyjj ftaaiXev- 
ovtos HeSeKiov /SacuXeo)? iyeveTo, k.t.X., and is a literal trans- 
lation of the heading at xlix. 34 of the Heb. It is from 
this, and not from xxvii. 1 of the Heb., that the translator 
has manifestly taken his postscript to the prophecy against 


Elam ; and if so, the postscript is, of course, no kind of proof 
that in the original text used by the Greek translator the pro- 
phecies against the nations stood before chap, xxvii. The 
notion we are combating is vitiated, finally, by the fact that it 
does not in the least explain why these prophecies are in the 
LXX. placed after xxv. 13, but rather suggests for them a 
wholly unsuitable position between xxvi. and xxvii., where 
they certainly never stood, nor by any possibility ever could 
have stood. From what has been said it will be seen that we 
can seek the cause for the transposition of the prophecies 
against the nations onlv in the Alexandrian translator's arbi- 
trary mode of handling the Hebrew text. 

For the exegetical literature on the subject of Jeremiah's 
prophecies, see my Introduction to Old Testament, vol. i. p. 
332, English translation (Foreign Theological Library). Be- 
sides the commentaries there mentioned, there have since 
appeared : K. H. Graf, der Proph. Jeremia erkldrt, Leipz. 
1862 ; and C W. E. Naegelsbach, der Proph. Jeremia, Theo- 
logiscli-homiletisch bearbeitet, in J. P. Lange's Bibelwerk, Biele- 
feld and Leipz. 1868 ; translated in Dr. Schaff's edition of 
Lange's Bibelwerk, and published by Messrs. Clark. 




ERS. 1-3 contain the heading to the whole book of 
the prophecies of Jeremiah. The heading runs 
thus : " Sayings of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of 
the priests at Anathoth, in the land of Benjamin, to 
whom befell the word of Jahveh in the days of Josiah the son 
of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his rei^n, 
and in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, 
unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah 
king of Judah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in 
the fifth month." The period mentioned in these verses includes 
the time of Jeremiah's principal labours, while no reference is 
here made to the work he at a later time wrought amidst the 
ruins of Judah and in Egypt ; this being held to be of but 
subordinate importance for the theocracy. Similarly, when the 
names of the kings under whom he laboured are given, the 
brief reigns of Jehoahaz and of Jehoiachin are omitted, neither 
reign having lasted over three months. His prophecies are 
called B*}^, words or speeches, as in xxxvi. 10 ; so with the 
prophecies of Amos, Am. i. 1. More complete information as to 
the person of the prophet is given by the mention made of his 
father and of his extraction. The name flW 4 "Jahveh throws," 
was in very common use, and is found as the name of many 
persons; cf. 1 Chron. v. 24, xii. 4, 10, 13, 2 Kings xxiii. 31 y 
Jer. xxxv. 3, Neh. x. 3, xii. 1. Hence we are hardly entitled 
to explain the name with Hengstb. by Ex. xv. 1, to the effect 
that whoever bore it was consecrated to the God who with 
almighty hand dashes to the ground all His foes, so that in his 


name the nature of our prophet's mission would be held to be 
set forth. His father Hilkiah is taken by Clem. Alex., Jerome, 
and some Rabbins, for the high priest of that name who is 
mentioned in 2 Chron. xxii. 4 ; but without sufficient grounds. 
For Hilkiah, too, is a name that often occurs ; and the high 
priest is sure to have had his home not in Anathoth, but in 
Jerusalem. But Jeremiah and his father belonged to the 
priests who lived in Anathoth, now called Andta, a town of the 
priests, lying 1^ hours north of Jerusalem (see on Josh. xxi. 
18;, in the land, i.e. the tribal territory, of Benjamin. In ver. 
2 V^X belongs to "IK'S : " to whom befell (to whom came) the 
word of Jahveh in the days of Josiah, ... in the thirteenth 
year of his reign." This same year is named by Jeremiah in 
chap. xxv. 3 as the beginning of his prophetic labours. W1 
in ver 3 is the continuation of iW in ver. 2, and its subject is 
rnrv -\T] : and then (further) it came (to him) in the days of 
Jehoiakim, ... to the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, etc. 
In the fifth month of the year named, the eleventh of the reign 
of Zedekiah, Jerusalem was reduced to ashes by Nebuzar-adan, 
and its inhabitants carried away to Babylon ; cf. 'lii. 12 ff., 
2 Kings xxv. 8 ff. Shortly before, King Zedekiah, captured 
when in flight from the Chaldeans during the siege of Jeru- 
salem, had been deprived of eyesight at Riblah and carried to 
Babylon in chains. And thus his kingship was at an end, 
though the eleventh year of his reign might not be yet quite 

Vers. 4-19. The Call and Consecration of Jeremiah 
to be a Prophet of the Lord. — The investiture of Jeremiah 
with the prophetic office follows in four acts : the call on the 
part of the Lord, vers. 4-8 ; Jeremiah's consecration for his call- 
incr in vers. 9-10 ; and in two signs, by means of which the Lord 
assures him of certain success in his work and of powerful 
support in the exercise of his office (vers. 11-19). The call 
was given by a word of the Lord which came to him in this 
form : Ver. 5. " Before I formed thee in the womb I have known 
thee, and before thou wentest forth from the belly have I con- 
secrated thee, to be prophet to the nations have I set thee. Ver. 
6. Then said I, Ah, Lord Jahveh ! behold, I know not how to 

CHAP. I. 4-19. 39 

speak ; for I am too young. Ver. 7. Then said Jahveh to me, 
Say not. I am too young ; but to all to whom I send thee slialt 
thou go, and all that I command thee shalt thou speak. Ver. 8. 
Fear not before them : for I am with thee, to save thee, saith 
Jahveh." This word came to Jeremiah by means of inspiration, 
and is neither the product of a reflective musing as to what his 
calling was to be, nor the outcome of an irresistible impulse, felt 
within him, to come forward as a prophet. It was a supernatural 
divine revelation vouchsafed to him, which raised his spiritual 
life to a state of ecstasy, so that he both recognised the voice 
of God and felt his lips touched by the hand of God (ver. 9). 
Further, he saw in spirit, one after another, two visions which 
God interpreted to him as confirmatory tokens of his divine 
commission (vers. 11-19). Jeremiah's appointment to be a 
prophet for the nations follows upon a decree of God's, fixed 
before he was conceived or born. God in His counsel has not 
only foreordained our life and being, but has predetermined 
before our birth what is to be our calling upon this earth ; and 
He has accordingly so influenced our origin and our growth in 
the womb, as to prepare us for what we are to become, and for 
what we are to accomplish on behalf of His kingdom. This is 
true of all men, but very especially of those who have been 
chosen by God to be the extraordinary instruments of His grace, 
whom He has appointed to be instruments for the carrying out 
of the redemptive schemes of His kingdom ; cf . Jer. xliv. 2, 24, 
xlix. 5, Gal. i. 15. Thus Samson was appointed to be. a 
Nazarite from the womb, this having been revealed to his 
mother before he was conceived, Judges xiii. 3 ff. To other 
men of God such divine predestination was made known for 
the first time when they were called to that office to which God 
had chosen them. So was it with our prophet Jeremiah. In 
such a case a reminder by God of the divine counsel of grace, 
of old time ordained and provided with means for its accom- 
plishment, should be accepted as an encouragement willingly to 
take upon one the allotted calling. For the man God has 
chosen before his birth to a special office in His kingdom He 
equips with the gifts and graces needed for the exercise of his 
functions. The three clauses of ver. 5 give the three moments 
whereof the choosing consists : God has chosen him, has con- 


secrated him, and has installed him as prophet. The reference 
of the words " I have known thee," Calvin limited to the office, 
quasi diceret, priusquam te formarem in ntero, destinavi te in 
hunc usum, nempe ut subires docendi munus in populo meo. 
Divine knowing is at the same time a singling out ; and of this, 
choosing is the immediate consequence. But the choosing 
takes place by means of t^i??, sanctifying, i.e. setting apart 
and consecrating for a special calling, and is completed by 
institution to the office. " To be prophet for the nations have 
I set thee" (fro, ponere, not only appoint, but install). The 
sense has been briefly put by Calv. thus : (Jer.) fuisse hac lege 
creatum hominem, tit suo tempore manifestaretur propheta. DMab ? 
to the nations = for the nations; not for Judah alone, but for 
the heathen peoples too ; cf. vers. 10, xxv. 9, xlvi. ff. The 
Chethibh 1"i1V« should apparently be read TWfK, from 1«, 
equivalent to "W; the root-form ")1X being warranted by Ex. 
xxxii. 4, 1 Kings vii. 15, and being often found in Aramaic. 
It is, however, possible that the diet, may be only scriptio plena 
of "tifKj a radice W, since the scriptio pi. is found elsewhere, 
e.g. Hos. viii. 12, Jer. xliv. 17, Ezek. xxi. 28, etc. — Ver. 6. The 
divine call throws Jeremiah into terror. Knowing well his too 
great weakness for such an office, he exclaims : Ah, Lord 
Jahveh ! I know not how to speak ; for I am "1W, i.e. young and 
inexperienced ; cf. 1 Kings iii. 7. This excuse shows that 
-izn VQJT & means something else than D v i:n Btyt N? by which 
Moses sought to repel God's summons. Moses was not ready 
of speech, he lacked the gift of utterance; Jeremiah, on the 
other hand, only thinks himself not yet equal to the task by 
reason of his youth and want of experience. — Ver. 7. This 
execuse God holds of no account. As prophet to the nations, 
Jeremiah was not to make known his own thoughts or human 
wisdom, but the will and counsel of God which were to be 
revealed to him. This is signified by the clauses : for to all to 
whom I send thee, etc. The fy belonging to ^>n stands for 
S>N, and does not indicate a hostile advance against any one. 
b'2 after *?V is not neuter, but refers to persons, or rather peoples ; 
since to the relative "l^'N in this connection, ^\f?V. is quite a 
natural completion ; cf. Isa. viii. 12, and Ew. § 331, c. Only 
to those men or peoples is he to go to whom God sends him ; 

CHAP. I. 4-10. 41 

and to them he is to declare only what God commands him. 
And so he needs be in no anxiety on this head, that, as a youth, 
he has no experience in the matter of speaking. — Ver. 8. Just 
as little needs youthful bashfulness or shy unwillingness to 
speak before high and mighty personages stand as a hindrance 
in the way of his accepting God's call. The Lord will be with 
him, so that he needs have no fear for any man. The suffix 
in DrpJSD refers to all to whom God sends him (ver. 7). These, 
enraged by the threatenings of punishment which he must 
proclaim to them, will seek to persecute him and put him to 
death (cf. ver. 19) ; but God promises to rescue him from 
every distress and danger which the fulfilment of his duties can 
bring upon him. Yet God does not let the matter cease with 
this pledge ; but, further, He consecrates him to his calling. 

Vers. 9 and 10. Tlie Consecration. — Ver. 9. " And Jahveh 
stretched forth His hand, and touched my mouth, and Jahveh 
said to me, Behold, I put my words into thy mouth. Ver. 10. 
Behold, I set thee this day over the nations, and over the king- 
doms, to root up and to ruin, to destroy and to demolish, to build 
and to plant." In order to assure him by overt act of His support, 
the Lord gives him a palpable pledge. He stretches out His 
hand and causes it to touch his mouth (cf. Isa. vi. 7) ; while, as 
explanation of this symbolical act, He adds : I have put my words 
in thy mouth. The hand is the instrument of making and doing ; 
the touching of Jeremiah's mouth by the hand of God is con- 
sequently an emblematical token that God frames in his mouth 
what he is to speak. It is a tangible pledge of efxirveva^, 
inspiratio, embodiment of that influence exercised on the human 
spirit, by means of which the holy men of God speak, being 
moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Pet. i. 21 (Nagelsb.). The act 
is a real occurrence, taking place not indeed in the earthly, 
corporeal sphere, but experienced in spirit, and of the nature of 
ecstasy. By means of it God has consecrated him to be His 
prophet, and endowed him for the discharge of his duties ; He 
may now entrust him with His commission to the peoples and 
kingdoms, and set him over them as His prophet who 
proclaims to them His word. The contents of this proclaiming 
are indicated in the following infinitive clauses. With the 
words of the Lord he is to destroy and to build up peoples and 


kingdoms. The word of God is a power that carries out His 
will, and accomplishes that whereto He sends it, Isa. lv. 10 ff. 
Against this power nothing earthly can stand ; it is a hammer 
that breaks rocks in pieces, xxiii. 29. What is here said 
of the word of Jahveh to be preached by Jeremiah is said of 
Jahveh Himself in xxxi. 28. Its power is to show itself in 
two ways, in destroying and in building up. The destroy- 
ing is not set down as a mere preliminary, but is expressed 
by means of four different words, whereas the building is 
given only in two words, and these standing after the four ; 
in order, doubtless, to indicate that the labours of Jeremiah 
should consist, in the first place and for the most part, in pro- 
claiming judgment upon the nations. The assonant verbs tW3 
and J*™ are joined to heighten the sense ; for the same reason 
0\-\rb is added to T3w£, and in the antithesis V^p is joined 
with nmb. 1 

Vers. 11-16. The Confirmatory Tokens. — The first is given in 
vers. 11 and 12 : " And there came to me the word of Jahveh, 
saying, What seest thou, Jeremiah ? And I said, I see an almond 
rod. Then Jahveh said to me, Thou hast seen aright : for I 
will keep watch over my word to fulfil it." With the consecra- 
tion of the prophet to his office are associated two visions, to 
give him a surety of the divine promise regarding the discharge 
of the duties imposed on him. First, Jeremiah sees in spirit 
a rod or twig of an almond tree. God calls his attention to 
this vision, and interprets it to him as a symbol of the swift 
fulfilment of His word. The choice of this symbol for the pur- 

pose given is suggested by the Hebrew name for the almond 
tree, "if?.^, the wakeful, the vigilant ; because this tree begins to 
blossom and expand its leaves in January, when the other trees 
are still in their winter's sleep {fiorat omnium 'prima mense 
Januario, Martio vero poma maturat. Plin. h. n. xvi. 42, and 
Von Schubert, Reise iii. S. 14), and so of all trees awakes 
earliest to new life. Without any sufficient reason Graf has 
combated this meaning for 1j?.t5>, proposing to change 1i?J2> into 

1 The LXX. have omitted Dil!"6, and hence Hitz. infers the spuriousness 
of this word. But in the parallel passage, xxxi. 28, the LXX. have 
rendered all the four words by the one xxdetipuv ; and Hitz. does not then 
pronounce the other three spurious. 

CHAP. I. 4-19. 43 

iffi, and, with Aqnil., Sym., and Jerome, to translate 
"Jj?C ?gD watchful twig, virga vigilans, i.e. a twig whose eyes 
are open, whose buds have opened, burst ; but he has not 
even attempted to give any authority for the use of the verb 
TEtP for the bursting of buds, much less justified it. In the 
explanation of this symbol between the words, thou hast seen 
aright, and the grounding clause, for I will keep watch, there 
is omitted the intermediate thought : it is indeed a "li?£\ The' 
twig thou hast seen is an emblem of what I shall do ; for I 
will keep watch over my word, will be watchful to fulfil it. 
This interpretation of the symbol shows besides that ?j3ft is not 
here to be taken, as by Kimchi, Vatabl., Seb. Schmidt, 
Nagelsb., and others, for a stick to beat with, or as a threaten- 
ing rod of correction. The reasons alleged by Nagelsb. for 
this view are utterly inconclusive. For his assertion, that i'ipo 
always means a stick, and never a fresh, leafy branch, is 
proved to be false by Gen. xxx. 37 ; and the supposed climax 
found by ancient expositors in the two symbols : rod — boiling 
caldron, put thus by Jerome : qui noluerint percutiente virga 
emendari) mittentur in ollam ameam atque succensam, is forced into 
the text by a false interpretation of the figure of the seething 
pot. The figure of the almond rod was meant only to afford to 
the prophet surety for the speedy and certain fulfilment of the 
word of God proclaimed by him. It is the second emblem alone 
that has anything to do with the contents of his preaching. 

Vers. 13-16. The Seething Pot. — Ver. 13. " And there came 
to me the word of J ah veil for the second time, saying, 
What seest thou % And I said : I see a seething-pot ; and it 
looketh hither from the north. Ver. 14. Then said Jahveh to 
me : From the north will trouble break forth upon all inhabi- 
tants of the land. Ver. 15. For, behold, I call to all families 
of the kingdoms towards the north, saith Jahveh; that they 
come and set each his throne before the gates of Jerusalem, 
and against all her walls round about, and against all 
cities of Judah. Ver. 16. And I will pronounce judgment 
against them for all their wickedness, in that they have forsaken 
me, and have offered odours to other gods, and worshipped the 
work of their hands." TD is a large pot or caldron in which 
can be cooked vegetables or meat for many persons at once; 


cf. 2 Kings iv. 38 ff., Ezek. xxiv. 3 ff. mB3, fanned, blown 
upon, used of fire, Ezek. xxi. 36, xxii. 20 f. ; then by transfer- 
ence, seething, steaming, since the caldron under which fire is 
fanned steams, its contents boil ; cf. Job xli. 12. The D^B of 
the pot is the side turned to the spectator (the prophet), the 
side towards the front. This is turned from the north this 
way, i.e. set so that its contents will run thence this way. njiDV, 
properly : towards the north ; then, that which lies towards 
the north, or the northerly direction. In the interpretation 
of this symbol in ver. 14, nnsn, assonant to rns^ is intro- 
duced, just as in Amos viii. 2 Hi? is explained by ft?; so that 
there was no occasion for the conjecture of Ploubig. and Graf : 
nan, it is fanned up ; and against this we have Hitzig's objec- 
tion that the Hophal of n23 never occurs. Equally uncalled for 
is Hitzig's own conjecture, niDn, it will steam, fume, be kindled; 
while against this we have the fact, that as to n33 no evidence 
can be given for the meaning be kindled, and that we have 
no cases of such a mode of speaking as: the trouble is fuming, 
steaming up. The Arabian poetical saying : their pot steams or 
boils, i.e. a war is being prepared by them, is not sufficient to 
justify such a figure. We hold then nnan for the correct 
reading, and decline to be led astray by the paraphrastic 
itacavOrjaeTai of the LXX., since nnsn gives a suitable sense. 
It is true, indeed, that nna usually means open ; but an open- 
ing of the caldron by the removal of the lid is not (with Graf) 
to be thought of. But, again, nns has the derived sig. let loose, 
let off (cf. nrP2 nns, Isa. xiv. 17), from which there can be no 
difficulty in inferring for the Niph. the sig. be let loose, and in 
the case of trouble, calamity : break forth. That which is in 
the pot runs over as the heat increases, and pours itself on the 
hearth or ground. If the seething contents of the pot represent 
disaster, their running over will point to its being let loose, its 
breaking out. psn "ac* are the inhabitants of the land of Judah, 
as the interpretation in ver. 15 shows. In ver. 15 reference to 
the figure is given up, and the further meaning is given in direct 
statement. The Lord will call to all families of the kingdoms 
of the north, and they will come ( = that they are to come). The 
kingdoms of the north are not merely the kingdoms of Syria, 
but in general those of Upper Asia ; since all armies marching 

CIIAP. I. 4-19. 45 

from the Euphrates towards Palestine entered the land from the 
north, nins^bj families, are the separate races of nations, hence 
often used in parallelism with 0^3 ; cf. x. 25, Nahum iii. 4. 
We must not conclude from this explanation of the vision seen 
that the seething pot symbolizes the Chaldeans themselves or 
the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar; such a figure would be too un- 
natural. The seething pot, whose contents boil over, symbolizes 
the disaster and ruin which the families of the kingdoms of the 
north will pour out on Judah. — Ver. 15 is not the precise inter- 
pretation of the picture seen, but a direct statement of the afflic- 
tions about to fall on the inhabitants of Judah. " They will 
set each his throne." The representatives of the kingdoms are 
meant, the kings and generals. To set one's throne (jnj or 
Btiff; cf. xliii. 10, xlix. 38) is a figure for the establishing of 
sovereignty. ND3, seat or throne, is not the seat of judgment, 
but the throne of the sovereign ; cf. the expression : set the 
throne upon these stones, xliii. 10 ; where a passing of judg- 
ment on the stones being out of the question, the only idea 
is the setting up of dominion, as is put beyond doubt by the 
parallel clause : to spread out his state carpet upon the stones. 
" Before the gates of Jerusalem : " not merely in order to 
besiege the city and occupy the outlets from it (Jerome and 
others), but to lord it over the city and its inhabitants. If we 
take the figurative expression in this sense, the further statement 
fits well into it, and we have no need to take refuge in Hitzi^'s 
unnatural view that these clauses are not dependent on '131 til^ 
but on 1X31. For the words : they set up their dominion against 
the walls of Jerusalem, and against all cities of Judah, give 
the suitable sense, that] they will use violence against the walls 
and cities.— r Ver. 16. Qod holds judgment upon the inhabitants 
of Judah in this ver/ way, viz. by bringing these nations and 
permitting them^^/set up their lordship before the gates of 
Jerusalem, and against all cities of Judah. _The^ suffix in pnix 
refers to )'"iNn UP 1 , ver. 14, and oniX stands by later usage for 
orix ? as frequently in Jer.; cf. Ew. § 204, b. # 2 - riN D^sty'p "121, 
speak judgment, properly, have a lawsuit with one, an expres- 
sion peculiar to Jeremiah, — cf. iv. 12, xii. 1, xxxix. 5, Hi. 9, 
and 2 Kings xxv. 6, — is in substance equivalent to fix DBEb. 
plead with one, cf. xii. 1 with ii. 35, Ezek. xx. 35 ff., aud 


signifies not only remonstrating against wrong doing, but also 
the passing of condemnation, and so comprehends trial and 
sentencing ; cf. xxxix. 5, Hi. 9. " All their wickednessJMs 
more exactly defined in the following relative clauses ; it con- 
sists in their apostasy from God, and their jworship of heathen 
gods and idols made by themselves ; cf. xix. 4, 1 Kings xi. 
33, 2 Kings xxii. 17. "isp, offer odours, cause to rise in smoke, 
used not of the burning of incense alone, but of all offerings 
upon the altar, bloody offerings and meat-offerings ; hence fre- 
quently in parallelism with l"DT; cf. Hos. iv. 13, xi. 2, etc. In 
the Pentateuch the Hiphil is used for this sense. Instead of 
the plural ^V®, many mss. give the singular nb>yo as the ordi- 
nary expression for the productions of the hand, handiwork ; cf. 
xxv. 6, 7, 14, xxxii. 30, 2 Kings xxii. 17, etc. ; but the plural 
too is found in xliv. 8, 2 Chron. xxxiv. 25, and is approved by 
these passages. The sense is no way affected by this variation. 
Vers. 17-19. The interpretation of the symbols is followed 
by a charge to Jeremiah to address himself stoutly to his duties, 
and to discharge them fearlessly, together with still further and 
fuller assurance of powerful divine assistance. — Ver. 17. " But 
thou, gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak to them all 
that I command thee : be not dismayed before them, lest I 
dismay thee before them. Ver. 18. And I, behold I make 
thee this day a strong city, an iron pillar, a brazen wall 
against the whole land, the kings of Judah, its princes, its 
priests, and the people of the land. Ver. 19. They shall 
strive against thee, but not prevail against thee ; for I am 
with thee, saith Jahveh, to save thee." To gird up the loins, 
i.e. to fasten or tuck up with the girdle the long wide garment, 
in order to make oneself fit and ready for labour, for a journey, 
or a race (Ex. xii. 11; 1 Kings xviii. 46; 2 Kings iv. 29, ix. 1), 
or for battle (Job xxxviii. 3, xl. 7). Meaning : equip thyself 
and arise to preach my words to the inhabitants of the land. 
In 'ft nnn~7K and '? Tjins there is a play on words. The Niph. 
sig. broken in spirit by terror and anxiety ; the Hiph. to throw 
into terror and anguish. If Jer. appears before his adversaries 
in terror, then he will have cause to be terrified for them ; only 
if by unshaken confidence in the power of the word he preaches 
in the name of the Lord, will he be able to accomplish anything. 

CHAP. II. 47 

Such confidence he has reason to cherish, for God will furnish 
him with the strength necessary for making a stand, will make 
him strong and not to be vanquished. This is the meaning of 
the pictorial statement in ver. 18. A strong city resists the 
assaults of the foes; the storm cannot shatter an iron pillar ; and 
walls of brass defy the enemy's missiles. Instead of the plural 
niioh, the parallel passage xv. 20 has the sing, noin, the plural 
being used as frequently as the singular to indicate the wall 
encircling the city ; cf. 2 Kings xxv. 10 with 1 Kings iii. 1, 
Neh. ii. 13, iv. 1 with i. 3, and ii. 17, iv. 10. With such 
invincible power will God equip His prophet " against the whole 
land," i.e. so that he will be able to hold his own against the 
whole land. The mention of the component parts of " all the 
land," i.e. the several classes of the population, is introduced 
by 'jKVl?, so that " the kings," etc., is to be taken as an apposi- 
tion to "against all the land." Kings in the plural are 
mentioned, because the prophet's labours are to extend over 
several reigns. &"& are the chiefs of the people, the heads of 
families and clans, and officers, civil and military. " The people 
of the land" is the rest of the population not included in these 
three classes, elsewhere called men of Judah and inhabitants of 
Jerusalem, xvii. 25, xxxii. 32, and frequently. T<?K for 1 vV ; 
so in xv. 20, and often. With the promise in ver. 196, cf. 
ver. 8. 


If we compare the six longer discourses in these chapters with 
the sayings and prophecies gathered together in the other 
portions of the book, we observe between them this distinction 
in form and matter, that the former are more general in their 
character than the latter. Considered as to their form, these 
last prophecies have, with few 7 exceptions, headings in which 
we are told both the date of their composition and the circum- 
stances under which they were uttered ; while in the headings 
of these six discourses, if we except the somewhat indefinite 
notice, "in the days of Josiah" (iii. 6), we find nowhere 
mentioned either their date or the circumstances which led to 


their composition. Again, both the shorter sayings and the 
lengthier prophecies between chap. xxi. and the end of the book 
are unmistakeably to be looked upon as prophetic addresses, 
separately rounded off; but the discourses of our first part 
give us throughout the impression that they are not discourses 
delivered before the people, but treatises compiled in writing 
from the oral addresses of the prophet. As to their matter, too, 
we cannot fail to notice the difference that, whereas from chap, 
xxi. onwards the kin" of Babylon is named as the executor of 
judgment upon Judah and the nations, in the discourses of 
chap, ii.-xx. the enemies who are to execute judgment are 
nowhere defined, but are only generally described as a powerful 
and terrible nation coming from the north. And so, in rebuking 
the idolatry and the prevailing sins of the people, no reference 
is made to special contemporary events; but there are introduced 
to a great extent lengthy general animadversions on their 
moral degeneracy, and reflections on the vanity of idolatry and 
the nature of true wisdom. From these facts we infer the 
probable conclusion that these discourses are but comprehensive 
summaries of the prophet's "labours in the days of Josiah. The 
probability becomes certainty when we perceive that the matters 
treated in these discourses are arrano;ed according to their 
subjects. The first discourse (chap. ii. 1-iii. 5) gives, so to 
speak, the programme of the subjects of all the following dis- 
courses : that disloyal defection to idolatry, with which Israel 
has from of old requited the Lord for His love and faithfulness, 
brines with it sore chastening judgments. In the second 
discourse (chap. iii. 6-vi. 30) faithless Judah is shown, in the 
fall of the ten tribes, what awaits itself in case of stiff-necked 
persistence in idolatry. In the third (chap, vii.-x.) is torn from 
it the support of a vain confidence in the possession of the 
temple and in the offering of the sacrifices commanded by the 
law. In the fourth (chap, xi.-xiii.) its sins are characterized 
as a breach of the covenant ; and rejection by the Lord is 
declared to be its punishment. In the fifth (chap, xiv.-xvii.) 
the hope is destroyed that the threatened chastisement can be 
turned aside by intercession. Finally, in the sixth (chap, 
xviii.-xx.) the judgment of the destruction of Jerusalem and of 
the kingdom of Judah is exhibited in symbolical acts. In this 

CHAP. II. 49 

arrangement and distribution of what the prophet had to 
announce to the people in his endeavours to save them, if 
possible, from destruction, we can recognise a progression from 
general admonitions and threatening to more and more definite 
announcement of coming judgments; and when, on the other 
hand, we see growing greater and bitterer the prophet's com- 
plaints against the hatreds and persecutions he has to endure 
(cf. xii. 1-6, xv. 10, 11, 15-21, xvii. 14-18, xviii. 18-23, 
xx.), we can gather that the expectation of the people's being 
saved from impending destruction was growing less and less, 
that their obduracy was increasing, and that judgment must 
inevitably come upon them. These complaints of the prophet 
cease with chap, xx., though later he had much fiercer hatred 
to endure. 

None of these discourses contains any allusions to events that 
occurred after Josiah's death, or stand in any relation to such 
events. Hence we believe we are safe in taking them for a 
digest of the quintessence of Jeremiah's oral preaching in the 
days of Josiah, and this arranged with reference to the subject- 
matter. It was by this preaching that Jeremiah sought to give 
a firm footing to the king's reformatory efforts to restore and 
inspire new life into the public worship, and to develope the 
external return to the legal temple worship into an inward con- 
version to the living God. And it was thus he sought, while 
the destruction of the kingdom was impending, to save all that 
would let themselves be saved; knowing as he did that God, 
in virtue of His unchangeable covenant faithfulness, would 
sharply chastise His faithless people for its obstinate apostasy 
from Him, but had not determined to make an utter end 
of it. 

chai\ ii. l-iii. 5. the love and faithfulness of the 
lord, and Israel's disloyalty and idolatry. 

The Lord has loved Israel sincerely (ii. 2, 3), but Israel 
has fallen from the Lord its God and followed after imagi- 
nary gods (vers. 4-8) ; therefore He will yet further punish 
it for this unparalleled sin (vers. 9-19). From of old Israel 
has been renegade, and has by its idolatry contracted fear- 

VOL. I. D 


ful guilt, being led not even by afflictions to return to the 
Lord (vers. 20-30) ; therefore must the Lord chastise (vers. 
31-37), because they will not repent (iii. 1-5). This discourse 
is of a quite general character ; it only sketches the main 
thoughts which are extended in the following discourses and 
prophecies concerning Judah. So that by most critics it is held 
to be the discourse by which Jeremiah inaugurated his ministry ; 
for, as Hitzig puts it, " in its finished completeness it gives 
the impression of a first-uttered outpouring of the heart, in 
which are set forth, without restraint, Jahveh's list of griev- 
ances against Israel, which has long been running up." It un- 
questionably contains the chief of the thoughts uttered by the 
prophet at the beginning of his ministry. 

Vers. 1-3. " And then came to me the word of Jahveh. 
saying : Go and publish in the ears of Jerusalem, saying : I 
have remembered to thy account the love of thy youth, the 
lovingness of thy courtship time, thy going after me in the 
wilderness, in a land unsown. Holy was Israel to the Lord, 
his first-fruits of the produce : ail who would have devoured 
him brought guilt upon themselves : evil came upon him, is the 
saying of Jahveh." The vers. 2 and 3 are not " in a certain 
sense the text of the following reproof " (Graf), but contain 
a the main idea which shows the cause of the [following] 
rebuke " (Hitz.) : The Lord has rewarded the people of Israel 
with blessings for its love to Him. "i?T with ? pers. and accus. 
rei means : to remember to one's account that it may stand 
him in good stead afterwards, — cf. Neh. v. 19, xiii. 22, 31, Ps. 
xcviii. 3, cvi. 45, etc., — that it may be repaid with evil, Neh. 
vi. 14, xiii. 29, Ps. lxxix. 8, etc. The perfect W3| is to be 
noted, and not inverted into the present. It is a thing com- 
pleted that is spoken of ; what the Lord has done, not what He 
is going on with. He remembered to the people Israel the 
love of its youth. "JDH, ordinarily, condescending love, gracious- 
ness and favour ; here, the self-devoting, nestling love of Israel 
to its God. The youth of Israel is the time of the sojourn in 
Egypt and of the exodus thence (Hos. ii. 17, xi. 1) ; here the 
latter, as is shown by the following : lovingness of the court- 
ship. The courtship comprises the time from the exodus out 
of Egypt till the concluding of the covenant at Sinai (Ex. xix. 

CHAP. II. 1-3. 51 

8). When the Lord redeemed Israel with a strong hand out 
of the power of Egypt, He chose it to be His spouse, whom He 
bare on eagles' win^s and brought unto Himself, Ex. xix. 4. 
The love of the bride to her Lord and Husband, Israel proved 
by its following Him as He went before in the wilderness, the 
land where it is not sown, i.e. followed Him gladly into the 
parched, barren wilderness. " Thy going after me" is decisive 
for the question so much debated by commentators, whether *J?n 
and '~l3nK stand for the love of Israel to its God, or God's love 
to Israel. The latter view we find so early as Chrysostom, 
and still in Rosenm. and Graf ; but it is entirely overthrown 
by the ^ns "^rap, which Chrysost. transforms into 7roif)aa<; 
e^aKo\ov6r)aat fxov, while Graf takes no notice of it. The 
reasons, too, which Graf, after the example of Rosenm. and 
Dathe, brings in support of this and against the only feasible 
exposition, are altogether valueless. The assertion that the 
facts forbid us to understand the words of the love of Israel to 
the Lord, because history represents the Israelites, when vixdum 
Aegypto egressos, as refractarios et ad aliorum deorum cultum 
pronos, cannot be supported by a reference to Deut. ix. 6, 24, 
Isa. xlviii. 8, Amos v. 25 f., Ps. cvi. 7. History knows of no 
apostasy of Israel from its God and no idolatry of the people 
during the time from the exodus out of Egypt till the arrival 
at Sinai, and of this time alone Jeremiah speaks. All the 
rebellions of Israel against its God fall within the time after 
the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, and during the march 
from Sinai to Canaan. On the way from Egypt to Sinai the 
people murmured repeatedly, indeed, against Moses; at the 
Red Sea, when Pharaoh was pursuing with chariots and horse- 
men (Ex. xiv. 11 ff.) ; at Marah, where they were not able 
to drink the water for bitterness (xv. 24) ; in the wilder- 
ness of Sin, for lack of bread and meat (xvi. 2 ff.) ; and 
at Massah, for want of water (xvii. 2 ff.). But in all these 
cases the murmuring was no apostasy from the Lord, no re- 
bellion against God, but an outburst of timorousness and want 
of proper trust in God, as is abundantly clear from the fact that 
in all these cases of distress and trouble God straightway 
brings help, with the view of strengthening the confidence of 
the timorous people in the omnipotence of His helping grace. 


Their backsliding from the Lord into heathenism begins with 
the worship of the golden calf, after the covenant had been 
entered into at Sinai (Ex. xxxii.), and is continued in the 
revolts on the way from Sinai to the borders of Canaan, at 
Taberah, at Kibroth-hattaavah (Num. xi.), in the desert of 
Paran at Kadesh (Num. xiii., xx.); and each time it was 
severely punished by the Lord. Neither are we to conclude, 
with J. D. Mich., that God interprets the journey through the 
desert in meliorem partem, and makes no mention of their 
offences and revolts ; nor with Graf, that Jeremiah looks 
steadily away from all that history tells of the march of the 
Israelites through the desert, of their discontent and refractori- 
ness, of the golden calf and of Baal Peor, and, idealizing the 
past as contrasted with the much darker present, keeps in view 
only the brighter side of the old times. Idealizing of this sort 
is found neither elsewhere in Jeremiah nor in any other prophet; 
nor is there anything of the kind in our verse, if we take up 
rightly the sense of it and the thread of the thought. It 
becomes necessary so to view it, only if we hold the whole forty 
years' sojourn of the Israelites in the wilderness to be the 
espousal time, and make the marriage union begin not with the 
covenanting!: at Sinai, but with the entrance of Israel into 
Canaan. Yet more entirely without foundation is the other 
assertion, that the words rightly given as the sense is, " stand 
in no connection with the following, since then the point in hand 
is the people's forgetfulness of the divine benefits, its thank- 
lessness and apostasy, not at all the deliverances wrought by 
Jahveh in consideration of its former devotedness." For in 
ver. 3 it is plainly enough told how God remembered to the 
people its love. Israel was so shielded by Him, as His sanc- 
tuary, that whoever touched it must pay the penalty. &*$> are 
all gifts consecrated to Jahveh. The Lord has made Israel a 
holy offering consecrated to Him in this, that He has separated 
it to Himself for a ^P, for a precious possession, and has 
chosen it to be a holy people : Ex. xix. 5 f. ; Deut. vii. 6, 
xiv. 2. We can explain from the Torah of offering the further 
designation of Israel : his first-fruits ; the first of the produce 
of the soil or yield of the land belonged, as 5TJP, to the Lord : 
Ex. xxiii. 19; Num. viii. 8, etc. Israel, as the chosen people 

CHAP. II. 4-8. 53 

of God, was such a consecrated firstling. Inasmuch as Jahveh 
is Creator and Lord of the whole world, all the peoples are His 
possession, the harvest of His creation. But amongst the peoples 
of the earth He has chosen Israel to Himself for a firstling- 
people (D^ian IVSWO, Amos vi. 1), and so pronounced it His 
sanctuary, not to be profaned by touch. Just as each laic who 
ate of a firstling consecrated to God incurred guilt, so all who 
meddled with Israel brought guilt upon their heads. The 
choice of the verb 1v3N is also to be explained from the figure 
of firstling-offerings. The eating of firstling-fruit is appro- 
priation of it to one's own use. Accordingly, by the eating of 
the holy people of Jahveh, not merely the killing and destroy- 
ing of it is to be understood, but all laying of violent hands 
on it, to make it a prey, and so all injury or oppression of Israel 
by the heathen nations. The practical meaning of *BB>K* is 
given by the next clause : mischief came upon them. The 
verbs *DB>K* and N3n are not futures ; for we have here to do 
not with the future, but with what did take place so long as 
Israel showed the love of the espousal time to Jahveh. Hence 
rightly Hitz. : " he that would devour it must pay the penalty." 
An historical proof of this is furnished by the attack of the 
Amalekites on Israel and its result, Ex. xvii. 8-15. 

Vers. 4-8. But Israel did not remain true to its first love ; 
it has forgotten the benefits and blessings of its God. and has 
fallen away from Him in rebellion. — Ver. 4. " Hear the word 
of Jahveh, house of Jacob, and all families of the house of 
Israel. Ver. 5. Thus saith Jahveh, What have your fathers 
found in me of wrongfulness, that they are gone far from me, 
and have gone after vanitv, and are become vain % Ver. 6. And 
they said not, Where is Jahveh that brought us up out of the 
land of Enypt, that led us in the wilderness, in the land of 
steppes and of pits, in the land of drought and of the shadow 
of death, in a land that no one passes through and where no 
man dwells % Ver. 7. And I brought you into a land of fruitful 
fields, to eat its fruit and its goodness : and ye came and de- 
filed my land, and my heritage ye have made an abomination. 
Ver. 8. The priests said not, Where is Jahveh ? and they that 
handled the law knew me not : the shepherds fell away from 
me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and after them that 


profit not are they gone." The rebuke for ungrateful, faithless 
apostasy is directed against the whole people. The u house of 
Jacob" is the people of the twelve tribes, and the parallel 
member, u all families of the house of Israel," is an elucidative 
apposition. The " fathers " in ver. 5 are the ancestors of the 
now living race onwards from the days of the Judges, when 
the generation arising after the death of Joshua and his con- 
temporaries forsook the Lord and served the Baals (Judg. ii. 
10 ff.). 7W, perversity, wrongfulness, used also of a single 
wicked deed in Ps. vii. 4, the opposite to acting in truth and 
good faith. Jahveh is a God of faithfulness (nfflDK) ; in Him 
is no iniquity (7)V PK), Deut. xxxii. 4. The question, what 
have they found . . . ? is answered in the negative by ver. 6. 
To remove far from me and follow after vanity, is tantamount 
to forsaking Jahveh and serving the false gods (Baals), Judg. 
ii. 11. ?3Hj lit. breath, thence emptiness, vanity, is applied so 
early as the song of Moses, Deut. xxxii. 21, to the false gods, as 
being nonentities. Here, however, the word means not the gods, 
but the worship of them, as being groundless and vain ; bring- 
ing no return to him who devotes himself to it, but making 
him foolish and useless in thought and deed. By the apostle 
in Rom. i. 21 v3HJ is expressed by e/xaTauodrjcrav. Cf. 2 Kings 
xvii. 15, where the second hemistich of our verse is applied to 
the ten tribes. — Ver. 6. They said not, Where is Jahveh? 
i.e. they have no longer taken any thought of Jahveh ; have not 
recalled His benefits, though they owed to Him all they had 
become and all they possessed. He has brought them out of 
Egypt, freed them from the house of bondage (Mic. vi. 4), and 
saved them from the oppression of the Pharaohs, meant to 
extirpate them (Ex. iii. 7 ff.). He has led them through path- 
less and inhospitable deserts, miraculously furnished them with 
bread and water, and protected them from all dangers (Deut. 
viii. 15). To show the greatness of His benefits, the wilderness 
is described as parched unfruitful land, as a land of deadly 
terrors and dangers. n:ny px, land of steppes or heaths, cor- 
responds to the land unsown of ver. 2. " And of pits," i.e. full 
of dangerous pits and chasms into which one may stumble un- 
awares. Land of drought, where one may have to pine through 
thirst. And of the shadow of death : so Sheol is named in Job 

CHAP. II. 4-8. 55 

x. 21 as being a place of deep darkness ; here, the wilderness, 
as a land of the terrors of death, which surround the traveller 
with darkness as of death : Isa. viii. 22, ix. 1 ; Job xvi. 16. A 
land through which no one passes, etc., i.e. which offers the 
traveller neither path nor shelter. Through this frightful 
desert God has brought His people in safety. — Ver 7. And He 
has done yet more. He has brought them into a fruitful and 
well-cultivated land. 70^3, fruitful fields, the opposite of wilder- 
ness, chap. iv. 26; Isa. xxix. 17. To eat up its fruit and its 
good; cf. the enumeration of the fruits and useful products 
of the land of Canaan, Deut. viii. 7-9. And this rich and 
splendid land the ungrateful people have defiled by their sins 
and vices (cf. Lev. xviii. 24), and idolatry (cf. Ezek. xxxvi. 18) ; 
and the heritage of Jahveh they have thus made an abomina- 
tion, an object of horror. The land of Canaan is called " my 
heritage," the especial domain of Jahveh, inasmuch as, being 
the Lord of the earth, He is the possessor of the land and has 
given it to the Israelites for a possession, yet dwells in the midst 
of it as its real lord, Num. xxv. 34. — In ver. 8 the complaint 
briefly given in ver. 6 is expanded by an account of the conduct 
of the higher classes, those who gave its tone to the spirit of the 
people. The priests, whom God had chosen to be the ministers 
of His sanctuary, asked not after Him, i.e. sought neither Him 
nor His sanctuary. They who occupy themselves with the 
law, who administer the law : these too are the priests as 
teachers of the law (Mic. iii. 11), who should instruct the 
people as to the Lord's claims on them and commandments 
(Lev. x. 11 ; Deut. xxxiii. 10). They knew not Jahveh, i.e. 
they took no note of Him, did not seek to discover what His 
will and just claims were, so as to instruct the people therein, 
and press them to keep the law. The shepherds are the civil 
authorities, princes and kings (cf. xxiii. 1 ff.) : those who by 
their lives set the example to the people, fell away from the 
Lord ; and the prophets, who should have preached God's 
word, prophesied ?y?3, by Baal, i.e. inspired by Baal. Baal is 
here a generic name for all false gods; cf. xxiii. 13. ityv BP. 
those who profit not, are the Baals as unreal gods; cf. Isa. xliv. 
9, 1 Sam. xii. 21. The utterances as to the various ranks form 
a climax, as Hitz. rightly remarks. The ministers of public 



worship manifested no desire towards me ; those learned in the 
law took no knowledge of me, of my will, of the contents of the 
book of the law ; the civil powers went the length of rising 
up against my law ; and the prophets fairly fell away to false 
gods, took inspiration from Baal, the incarnation of the lying 

Vers. 9-13. Such backsliding from God is unexampled and 
appalling. Ver. 9. " Therefore will I further contend with 
you, and with your children's children will I contend. Ver. 
10. For go over to the islands of the Chittim, and see; and send 
to Kedar, and observe well, and see if such things have been ; 
Ver. 11. whether a nation hath changed its gods, which indeed 
-ire no gods ? but my people hath changed its glory for that 
which profits not. Ver. 12. Be horrified, ye heavens, at this, 
and shudder, and be sore dismayed, saith Jahveh. Ver. 13. 
For double evil hath my people done ; me have they forsaken, 
the fountain of living waters, to hew out for themselves cisterns, 
broken cisterns, that hold no water." In the preceding verses 
the fathers were charged with the backsliding from the Lord ; in 
ver. 9 punishment is threatened against the now-living people 
of Israel, and on their children's children after them. For the 
people in its successive and even yet future generations con- 
stitutes a unity, and in this unity a moral personality. Since 
the sins of the fathers transmit themselves to the children and 
remoter descendants, sons and grandsons must pay the penalty 
of the fathers' guilt, that is, so long as they share the dis- 
position of their ancestors. The conception of this moral unity 
is at the foundation of the threatening. That the present race 
persists in the fathers' backsliding from the Lord is clearly 
expressed in ver. 17 ff. In " I will further chide or strive," is 
intimated implicite that God had chidden already up till now, 
or even earlier with the fathers, 2"n, contend, when said of 
God, is actual striving or chastening with all kinds of punish- 
ment. This must God do as the righteous and holy one; for 
the sin of the people is an unheard of sin, seen in no other 
people. " The islands of the Chittim " are the isles and coast 
lands of the far west, as in Ezek. xxvii. 6 ; 2^3 having originally 
been the name for Cyprus and the city of Cition, see in Gen. 
x. 4. In contrast with these distant western lands, Kedar is 

CHAP. II. 9-13. 57 

mentioned as representative of the races of the east. The 
Kedarenes lived as a pastoral people in the eastern part of the 
desert between Arabia Petrasa and Babylonia ; see in Gen. xxv. 
13 and Ezek. xxvii. 21. Peoples in the two opposite regions of 
the world are individualizingly mentioned instead of all peoples. 
'.^ianrij give good heed, serves to heighten the expression. 
jn = DX introduces the indirect question ; cf. Ew. § 324, c. The 
unheard of, that which has happened amongst no people, is put 
interron;ativelv for rhetorical effect. Has any heathen nation 
changed its gods, which indeed are not truly gods ? No ; no 
heathen nation has done this ; but the people of Jahveh, Israel, 
has exchanged its glory, i.e. the God who made Himself known 
to it in His glory, for false gods that are of no profit. 1123 is 
the glory in which the invisible God manifested His majesty in 
the world and amidst His people. Cf. the analogous title given 
to God, ^~}V\ Jisa, Amos viii. 7, Hos. v. 5. The exact anti- 
thesis to ili23 would be ri^'3, cf. iii. 24, xi. 13 ; but Jeremiah 
chose tyv N? to represent the exchange as not advantageous. 
God showed His glory to the Israelites in the glorious deeds 
of His omnipotence and grace, like those mentioned in vers. 5 
and 6. The Baals, on the other hand, are not Dw**, but Ey^K, 
nothings, phantoms without a being, that bring no help or profit 
to their worshippers. Before the sin of Israel is more fully set 
forth, the prophet calls on heaven to be appalled at it. The 
heavens are addressed as that part of the creation where the 
glory of God is most brightly reflected. The rhetorical aim is 
seen in the piling up of words. 3nn, lit. to be parched up, to be 
deprived of the life-marrow. Israel has committed two crimes : 
a. It has forsaken Jahveh, the fountain of living water. D^O 
Q^n, living water, i.e. water that originates and nourishes life, is 
a significant figure for God, with whom is the fountain of life 
(Ps. xxxvi. 10), i.e. from whose Spirit all life comes. Fountain 
of living water (here and xvii. 13) is synonymous with well 
of life in Prov. x. 11, xiii. 14, xiv. 27, Sir. xxi. 13. b. The 
other sin is this, that they hew or dig out wells, broken, rent, 
full of crevices, that hold no water. The delineation keeps to 
the same figure. The dead gods have no life and can dispense 
no life, just as wells with rents or fissures hold no water. The 
two sins, the forsaking of the living God and the seeking out 


of dead gods, cannot really be separated. Man, created by God 
and for God, cannot live without God. If he forsakes the 
living God, he passes in spite of himself into the service of dead, 
unreal gods. Forsaking the living God is eo ipso exchanging 
Him for an imaginary god. The prophet sets the two moments 
of the apostasy from God side by side, so as to depict to the 
people with greater fulness of light the enormity of their 
crime. The fact in ver. 11 that no heathen nation changes its 
gods for others, has its foundation in this, that the gods of the 
heathen are the creations of men, and that the worship of them 
is moulded by the carnal-mindedness of sinful man ; so that 
there is less inducement to change, the gods of the different 
nations being in nature alike. But the true God claims to be 
worshipped in spirit and in truth, and does not permit the 
nature and manner of His worship to depend on the fancies of 
His worshippers ; He makes demands upon men that run 
counter to carnal nature, insisting upon the renunciation of 
sensual lusts and cravings and the crucifixion of the flesh, and 
against this corrupt carnal nature rebels. Upon this reason for 
the fact adduced, Jeremiah does not dwell, but lays stress on 
the fact itself. This he does with the view of bringing out the 
distinction, wide as heaven, between the true God and the false 
gods, to the shaming of the idolatrous people ; and in order, at 
the same time, to scourge the folly of idolatry by giving pro- 
minence to the contrast between the glory of God and the 
nothingness of the idols. 

Vers. 14-19. By this double sin Israel has drawn on its own 
head all the evil that has befallen it. Nevertheless it will not 
cease its intriiiuincp with the heathen nations. Ver. 14. "Is 
Israel a servant? is he a home-born slave? why is he be- 
come a booty? Ver. 15. Against him roared the young lions, 
let their voice be heard, and made his land a waste ; his cities 
were burnt up void of inhabitants. Ver. 16. Also the sons of 
Noph and Tahpanes feed on the crown of thy head. Ver. 17. 
Does not this bring it upon thee, thy forsaking Jahveh thy 
God, at the time when He led thee on the way ? Ver. 18. And 
now what hast thou to do with the way to Egypt, to drink the 
waters of the Nile? and what with the way to Assur, to 
drink the waters of the river? Ver. 19. Thy wickedness 

CHAP. II. 11-19. 5i) 

chastises thee, and thy backslidings punish thee ; then know 
and see that it is evil and bitter to forsake Jahveh thy God, 
and to have no fear of me, saith the Lord Jahveh of hosts." 
The thought from vers. 14-16 is this : Israel was plundered 
and abused by the nations like a slave. To characterize such 
a fate as in direct contradiction to its destiny is the aim of the 
question : Is Israel a servant ? i.e. a slave or a house-born serf. 
72y is he who has in any way fallen into slavery, n^ T , y a 
«lave born in the house of his master. The distinction between 
these two classes of slaves does not consist in the superior value 
of the servant born in the house by reason of his attachment to 
the house. This peculiarity is not here thought of, but only 
the circumstance that the son of a slave, born in the house, re- 
mained a slave without any prospect of being set free ; while 
the man who has been forced into slavery by one of the vicis- 
situdes of life might hope again to acquire his freedom by some 
favourable turn of circumstances. Another failure is the 
attempt of Hitz. to interpret 113? as servant of Jahveh, wor- 
shipper of the true God ; for this interpretation, even if we 
take no account of all the other arguments that make against 
it, is rendered impossible by JV2 Ty\ That expression never 
means the son of the house, but by unfailing usage the slave 
born in the house of his master. Now the people of Israel 
had not been born as serf in the land of Jahveh, but had be- 
come "!2y, i.e. slave, in Egypt (Deut. v. 15) ; but Jahveh has 
redeemed it from this bondage and made it His people. The 
questions suppose a state of affairs that did not exist. This is 
shown by the next question, one expressing wonder : Why then 
is he [it] become a prey? Slaves are treated as a prey, but 
Israel was no slave ; why then has such treatment fallen to his 
lot ? Propheta per admirationem quasi de re nova et absurda 
sciscitatur. An servus est Israel ? at qui erat liber pros cunctis 
gentibusj erat enim filius primogenitus Dei; necesse est igitur 
quwrere aliam causam, cur adeo miser sit (Calv.). Cf. the 
similar turn of the thought in ver. 31. How Israel became a 
prey is shown in vers. 15 and 16. These verses do not treat of 
future events, but of what has already happened, and, accord- 
ing to vers. 18 and 19, will still continue. The imperff. *WW^ 
and Tpjry, alternate consequently with the perff. ^03 and VWB, 


and are governed by w n\n ? so that they are utterances re- 
garding events of the past, which have been and are still re- 
peated. Lions are a figure that frequently stands for enemies 
thirsting for plunder, who burst in upon a people or land ; cf. 
Mic. v. 7, Isa. v. 29, etc. Roared ivy, against him, not, over 
him : the lion roars when he is about to rush upon his prey, 
Amos iii. 4, 8 ; Ps. civ. 21 ; Judg. xiv. 5 ; when he has pounced 
upon it he growls or grumbles over it ; cf. Isa. xxxi. 4. — In 
ver. 15b the figurative manner passes into plain statement. 
They made his land a waste; cf. iv. 7, xviii. 16, etc., where 
instead of WW we have the more ordinary UW. The Cheth. 
nnS3 from rft£, not from the Ethiop. nX) (Graf, Hitz.), is to 
be retained; the Keri here, as in xxii. 6, is an unnecessary 
correction ; cf. E\v. § 317, a. In this delineation Jeremiah has 
in his eye chiefly the land of the ten tribes, which had been 
ravaged and depopulated by the Assyrians, even although 
Judah had often suffered partial devastations by enemies; cf. 
1 Kings xiv. 25. — Ver. 16. Israel has had to submit to spolia- 
tion at the hands of the Egyptians too. The present reference 
to the Egyptians is explained by the circumstances of the pro- 
phet's times, — from the fact, namely, that just as Israel and 
Judah had sought the help of Egypt against the Assyrians 
(cf. Hos. vii. 11, 2 Kings xvii. 4, and Isa. xxx. 1-5, xxx. 1) in 
the time of Hezekiah, so now in Jeremiah's times Judah was 
expecting and seeking help from the same quarter against the 
advancing power of the Chaldeans ; cf. xxxvii. 7. Noph and 
Tahpanes are two former capitals of Egypt, here put as repre- 
senting the kingdom of the Pharaohs, cp, in Hos. ix. 6 P)b 
contracted from *pO, Manoph or Menoph, is Memphis, the old 
metropolis of Lower Egypt, made by Psammetichus the capital 
of the whole kingdom. Its ruins lie on the western bank of 
the Nile, to the south of Old Cairo, close by the present village 
of Mitrahenny, which is built amongst the ruins ; cf. Brugsch 
Reisebericlde aus Egypten, § 60 ff., and the remarks on Hos. 
ix. 6 and Isa. xix. 13. DJSnn, elsewhere spelt as here in the 
Keri Dmsnri, — c f. xliii. 7 ff., xliv. 1, xlvi. 14, Ez. xxx. 18,— 
was a strong border cit\" on the Pelusiac arm of the Nile, 
called by the Greeks Adfyvai, (Herod, ii. 20), by the LXX. 
Td<pvaL ; see in Ezek. xxx. 18. A part of the Jews who had 

CHAP. II. 14-19. 61 

remained in the land fled hither after the destruction of 
Jerusalem, xliii. 7 ff. "!p"!i? W?., feed upon thy crown (lit. 
feed on thee in respect of thy crown), is a trope for igno- 
minious devastation ; for to shave one bald is a token of dis- 
grace and sorrow, cf. xlvii. 5, xlviii. 37, Isa. iii. 17 ; and 
with this Israel is threatened in Isa. vii. 20. njn, to eat up by 
grazing, as in Job xx. 20 and xxiv. 21 ; in the latter passage 
in the sense of depopulari. We must then reject the conjec- 
tures of J. D. Mich., Hitz., and others, suggesting the sense : 
crush thy head for thee ; a sense not at all suitable, since crush- 
in^ the head would signify the utter destruction of Israel. — The 
land of Israel is personified as a woman, as is shown by the 
fern, suffix in WV.- Like a land closely cropped by herds, so 
is Israel by the Egyptians. In vi. 3 also the enemies are re- 
presented as shepherds coming with their flocks against Jeru- 
salem, and pitching their tents round about the city, while each 
flock crops its portion of ground. In xii. 10 shepherds lay 
the vineyard waste. 

In ver. 17 the question as to the cause of the evil is answered. 
riNT is the above-mentioned evil, that Israel had become a prey 
to the foe. This thy forsaking of Jahveh makes or prepares 
for thee, nbyn is neuter ; the infin. ^Ty is the subject of the 
clause, and it is construed as a neuter, as in 1 Sam. xviii. 23. 
The fact that thou hast forsaken Jahveh thy God has brought 
this evil on thee. At the time when He led thee on the way. 
The participle sjyto j s subordinated to ny in the stat. constr. as 
a partic. standing for the prceterit. durans ; cf. Ew. § 337, c. 
snyna is understood by Eos. and Hitz. of the right way (Ps. xxv. 
8) ; but in this they forget that this acceptation is incompatible 
with the r»J73, which circumscribes the leading within a definite 
time. God will lead His people on the right way at all times. 
The way on which He led them at the particular time is the 
way through the Arabian desert, cf. ver. 6, and ^a is to be 
understood as in Deut. i. 33, Ex. xviii. 8, xxiii. 20, etc. Even 
thus early their fathers forsook the Lord : at Sinai, by the wor- 
ship of the golden calf ; then when the people rose against Moses 
and Aaron in the desert of Paran, called a rejecting (ftM) of 
Jahveh in Num. xiv. 11 ; and at Shittim, where Israel joined 
himself to Baal Peor, Num. xxv. 1-3. The forsaking of 


Jaliveh is not to be limited to direct idolatry, but comprehends 
also the seeking of help from the heathen ; this is shown by 
the following 18th verse, in which the reproaches are extended 
to the present bearing of the people, 'til "ifij? "n^TID, lit. what is 
to thee in reference to the way of Egypt (for the expression, 
see Hos. xiv. 9), i.e. what hast thou to do with the way of 
Egypt? Why dost thou arise to go into Egypt, to drink the' 
water of the Nile? "rint^ the black, turbid stream, is a name 
for the Nile, taken from its dark-'grey or black mud. The 
Nile is the life-giving artery of Egypt, on whose fertilizing 
waters the fruitf ulness and the prosperity of the country depend. 
To drink the waters of the Nile is as much as to say to procure 
for oneself the sources of Egypt's life, to make the power of 
Egypt useful to oneself. Analogous to this is the drinking the 
waters of the river, i.e. the Euphrates. What is meant is seek- 
ing help from Egyptians and Assyrians. The water of the 
Nile and of the Euphrates was to be made to furnish them 
with that which the fountain of living water, i.e. Jahveh (ver. 
14), supplied to them. This is an old sin, and with it Israel of 
the ten tribes is upbraided by Hosea (vii. 11, xii. 2). From this 
we are not to infer " that here we have nothing to do with the 
present, since the existing Israel, Judah, was surely no longer a 
suitor for the assistance of Assyria, already grown powerless" 
(Hitz.). The limitation of the reproach solely to the past is 
irreconcilable with the terms of the verse and with the context 
(ver. 19). ?nn? ^f" 1 " 1 *? cannot grammatically be translated : 
What hadst thou to do with the way; just as little can we 
make SHEW? hath chastised thee, since the following : know and 
see, is then utterly unsuitable to it. "n"!^ and ?jn*3fa are 
not futures, but imperfects, i.e. expressing what is wont to 
happen over again in each similar case ; and so to be expressed 
in English by the present : thy wickedness, i.e. thy wicked 
work, chastises thee. The wickedness was shown in forsaking 
Jahveh, in the ni2^'p ? backslidings, the repeated defection from 
the living God ; cf. iii. 22, v. 6, xiv. 7. As to the fact, we 
have no historical evidence that under Josiah political alli- 
ance with Egypt or Assyria was compassed; but even if no 
formal negotiations took place, the country was certainly even 
then not without a party to build its hopes on one or other of 

CHAP. II. 20-25. 63 

the great powers between which Judah lay, whenever a conflict 
arose with either of them. — *Jtt*, with the Vav of consecution 
(see Ew. § 347, a) : Know then, and at last comprehend, that 
forsaking the Lord thy God is evil and bitter, i.e. bears evil and 
bitter fruit, prepares bitter misery for thee. " To have no fear 
of me " corresponds " to forsake," lit. thy forsaking, as second 
subject ; lit. : and the no fear of me in thee, i.e. the fact that 
thou hast no awe of me. "^ns, awe of me, like Tina in Deut. 
ii. 25. 

Vers. 20-25. All along Israel has been refractory ; it cannot 
and will not cease from idolatry. Ver. 20. For of old time 
thou hast broken thy yoke, torn off thy bands ; and hast said : 
I will not serve ; but upon every high hill, and under every 
green tree, thou stretchedst thyself as a harlot. Ver. 21. And 
I have planted thee a noble vine, all of genuine stock : and how 
hast thou changed thyself to me into the bastards of a strange 
vine ? Ver. 22. Even though thou washedst thee with natron 
and tookest much soap, filthy remains thy guilt before me, saith 
the Lord Jahveh. Ver. 23. How canst thou say, I have not 
defiled me, after the Baals have I not gone % See thy way in 
the valley, know what thou hast done — thou lightfooted camel 
filly, entangling her ways. Ver. 24. A wild she-ass used to 
the wilderness, that in her lust panteth for air ; her heat, who 
shall restrain it ? all that seek her run themselves weary ; in her 
month they will find her. Ver. 25. Keep thy foot from going 
barefoot, and thy throat from thirst; but thou sayest, It is 
useless ; no ; for I have loved strangers, and after them I 
go." Ver. 20. B^J"?, from eternity, i.e. from immemorial anti- 
quity, has Israel broken the yoke of the divine law laid on it, 
and torn asunder the bands of decency and order which the 
commands of God, the ordinances of the Torah, put on, to 
nurture it to be a holy people of the Lord ; torn them as an 
untamed bullock (xxxi. 18) or a stubborn cow, Hos. iv. 16. 
nnpiOj bands, are not the bands or cords of love with which 
God drew Israel, Hos. xi. 4 (Graf), but the commands of 
God whose part it was to keep life within the bounds of purity, 
and to hold the people back from running riot in idolatry. On 
this head see v. 5 ; and for the expression, Ps. ii. 3. The 
Masoretes have taken Trot? and Tipm for the 1st person, 


pointing accordingly, and for "fatfK, as unsuitable to this, they 
have substituted ~ii3yx. Ewald has decided in favour of these 
readings ; but he is thus compelled to tear the verse to pieces 
and to hold the text to be defective, since the words from ^EKfil 
onwards are not in keeping with what precedes. Even if we 
translate : I offend [transgress] not, the thought does not 
adapt itself well to the preceding; I have of old time broken 
thy yoke, etc. ; nor can we easily reconcile with it the ground- 
ing clause ; for on every high hill, . . . thou layest a whoring, 
where Ew. is compelled to force on ^ the adversative sig. 
Most commentators, following the example of the LXX. 
and Vulg., have taken the two verbs for 2d person ; and thus 
is maintained the simple and natural thought that Israel has 
broken the yoke laid on it by God, renounced allegiance to 
Iiim, and practised idolatry on every hand. The spelling 
Vfl??^ "^i?™, i.e. the formation of the 2d pers. perf. with 
\ is frequently found in Jer. ; cf. v. 33, iii. 4, iv. 19, xiii. 21, 
etc. It is really the fuller original spelling ""fl which has 
been preserved in Aramaic, though seldom found in Hebrew ; 
in Jer. it must be accounted an Aramaism ; cf. Ew. § 190, c ; 
Gesen. § 44, 2, Rem. 4. With the last clause, on every high 
hill, etc., cf. Hos. iv. 13 and Ezek. vi. 13 with the comm. on 
Deut. xii. 2. Stretchiest thyself as a harlot or a whoring, 
is a vivid description of idolatry, njftf, bend oneself, lie down 
ad coitiun, like KaraKklveaOai, inclinari. — Ver. 21. In this 
whoring with the false gods, Israel shows its utter corrup- 
tion. I have planted thee a noble vine ; not, with noble vines, 
as we translate in Isa. v. 2, where Israel is compared to a 
vineyard. Here Israel is compared to the vine itself, a vine 
which J ah veh has planted ; cf. Ps. lxxx. 9, Hos. x. 1. This 
vine was all ( n ?3, in its entirety, referred to pW, as collect.') 
genuine seed ; a proper shoot which could bear good grapes 
(cf . Ezek. xvii. 5) ; children of Abraham, as they are described 
in Gen. xviii. 19. But how has this Israel changed itself to 
me (v, dativ. incommodi) into bastards ! ^D is accits., depend- 
ent on fi?r'i}2 ; for this constr. cf. Lev. xiii. 25, Ps. cxiv. 8. 
D ,- viD sig. not shoots or twigs, but degenerate sprouts or suckers. 
The article in |23n is generic : wild shoots of the species of the 
wild vine ; but this is not the first determining word ; cf . for 

CHAP. II. 20-25. G5 

this exposition of the article xiii. 4, 2 Sam. xii. 30, etc., E\v. 
§ 290, a 3 ) ; and for the omission of the article with np.?3, c f. 
Ew. § 293, a. Thus are removed the grammatical difficulties 
that led Hitz. to take M "HID quite unnaturally as vocative, and 
Graf to alter the text. " A strange vine" is an interloping vine, 
not of the true, genuine stock planted by Jahveh (ver. 10), 
and which bears poisonous berries of gall, Deut. xxxii. 32. — 
Ver. 22. Though thou adoptedst the most powerful means of 
purification, yet couldst thou not purify thyself from the defile- 
ment of thy sins, "in:, natron, is mineral, and JVVa vegetable 
alkali. D^33 introduces the apodosis ; and by the participle a 
lasting condition is expressed. This word, occurring only here 
in the O. T., sig. in Aram, to be stained, filthy, a sense here 
very suitable. '2E>, before me, i.e. before my eyes, the defile- 
ment of thy sins cannot be wiped out. On this head see Isa. 
i. 18, Ps. li. 4, 9.— Ver. 23. And yet Judah professes to be 
pure and upright before God. This plea Jeremiah meets by 
pointing to the open practising of idolatrous worship. The 
people of Judah personified as a woman — njir in ver. 20 — is 
addressed. spK is a question expressing astonishment. ^p"", 
of defilement by idolatry, as is shown by the next explanatory 
clause : the Baals I have not followed. B^pa is used generi- 
cally for strange gods, i. 16. The public worship of Baal had 
been practised in the kingdom of Judah under Joram, Ahaziah, 
and Athaliah only, and had been extirpated by Jehu, 2 Kings 
x. 18 if. Idolatry became again rampant under Ahaz (by his 
instigation), Manasseh, and Amon, and in the first year of 
Josiah's reign. Josiah began to restore the worship of Jahveh 
in the twelfth year of his reign ; but it was not till the eighteenth 
that he was able to complete the reformation of the public ser- 
vices. There is then no difficulty in the way of our assuming 
that there was yet public worship of idols in Judah during the 
first five years of Jeremiah's labours. We must not, however, 
refer the prophet's words to this alone. The following of Baal 
by the people was not put an end to when the altars and images 
were demolished ; for this was sufficient neither to banish from 
the hearts of the people the proneness to idolatry, nor utterly 
to suppress the secret practising of it. The answer to the pro- 
testation of the people, blinded in self-righteousness, shows, 
vol. i. E 


further, that the grosser publicly practised forms had not yet 
disappeared. " See thy way in the valley." Way, i.e. doing and 
practising. K'33 with the article must be some valley known for 
superstitions cultivated there; most commentators suggest 
rightly the valley of Ben or Bne-Hinnom to the south of Jeru- 
salem, where children were offered to Moloch ; see on vii. 31. 
The next words, " and know what thou hast done," do not, taken 
by themselves, imply that this form of idol-worship was yet to 
be met with, but only that the people had not yet purified 
themselves from it. If, however, we take them in connection 
with what follows, they certainly do imply the continued exist- 
ence of practices of that sort. The prophet remonstrates with 
the people for its passionate devotion to idolatry by comparing 
it to irrational animals, which in their season of heat yield them- 
selves to their instinct. The comparison gains in pointedness 
by his addressing the people as a camel-filly and a wild she- 
ass. 'P n-m is vocative, co-ordinate with the subject of address, 
and means the young filly of the camel, n^, running lightly, 
nimbly, swiftly. '"O n?"?.^?, intertwining, i.e. crossing her ways ; 
rushing right and left on the paths during the season of 
heat. Thus Israel ran now after one god, now after another, 
deviating to the right and to the left from the path pre- 
scribed by the law, Deut. xxviii. 14. To delineate yet more 
sharply the unruly passionateness with which the people rioted 
in idolatry, there is added the figure of a wild ass running her- 
self weary in her heat. Hitz. holds the comparison to be so 
managed that the figure of the she-camel is adhered to, and 
that this creature is compared to a wild ass only in respect of 
its panting for air. But this view could be well founded only 
if the Keri nvz>) were the original reading. Then we might 
read the words thus : (like) a wild ass used to the wilderness 
she (the she-camel) pants in the heat of her soul for air. But 
this is incompatible with the Cheth. WM, since the suffix 
points back to rna, and requires totos rn»3 to be joined with 
'*? nnsij so that nDXE> must be spoken of the latter. Besides, 
taken on its own account, it is a very unnatural hypothesis that 
the behaviour of the she-camel should be itself compared to the 
gasping of the wild ass for breath; for the camel is only a 
figure of the people, and ver. 24 is meant to exhibit the un- 

CHAP. II. 20-25. 67 

bridled ardour, not of the camel, but of the people. So that 
with the rest of the comni. we take the wild ass to be a second 
figure for the people, rna differs only orthographically from 
tnSj the usual form of the word, and which many codd. have 
here. This is the wood ass, or rather wild ass, since the crea 
ture lives on steppes, not in woods. It is of a yellowish colour, 
with a white belly, and forms a kind of link between the deer 
species and the ass ; by reason of its arrow-like speed not easily 
caught, and untameable. Tims it is used as an emblem of 
boundless love of freedom, Gen. xvi. 12, and of unbridled 
licentiousness, see on Job xxiv. 5 and xxxix. 5. rna as nom. 
epiccen. has the adj. next it, "H3?, in the masc, and so too in the 
apposition JB©3 H|K3 ; the fern, appears first in the statement 
as to its behaviour, •ISSB' : she pants for air to cool the glow of 
heat within, fHJtn sig. neither copulation, from njN, approach 
(Dietr.), nor cestus libidinosus (Schroed., Ros.). The sig. 
approach, meet, attributed to njK, Dietr. grounds upon the Ags. 
gelimpan, to be convenient, opportune ; and the sig. glow is 

derived from the fact that ^J>\ is used of the boiling of water. 

The root meaning of rUK, \\ f is, according to Fleischer, tem- 

pestivus fuit, and the root indicates generally any effort after 
the attainment of the aim of a thing, or impulse ; from which 
come all the meanings ascribed to the word, and for rtiXF) in the 
text before us the sig. heat, i.e. the animal instinct impelling to 
the satisfaction of sexual cravings. 

In ver. 24b BE^O? is variously interpreted. Thus much is 
beyond all doubt, that the words are still a part of the figure, 
i.e. of the comparison between the idolatrous people and the 
wild ass. The use of the 3d person stands in the way of the 
direct reference of the words to Israel, since in what precedes 
and in what follows Israel is addressed (in 2d pers.). Bhn can 
thus mean neither the new moon as a feast (L. de Dieu, Chr. 
B. Mich.), still less tempus menstruum (.Jerome, etc.), but month ; 
and the suffix in Bt&hn is to be referred, not with Hitz. to WUKflj 
but to ma. The suffixes in rPB>i?3Q and RHKjfB! absolutely de- 
mand this. " Her month " is the month appointed for the 
gratification of the wild ass's natural impulse, i.e., as Bochart 
rightly explains it {Hieroz. ii. p. 230, ed. Ros.), mensis quo 


solent sylvestres asince maris appetitu fervere. The meaning of 
the comparison is this : the false gods do not need anxiously to 
court the favour of the people ; in its unbridled desires it gives 
itself up to them; cf. iii. 2, Hos. ii. 7, 15. With this is suit- 
ably coupled the warning of ver. 25 : hold back, i.e. keep thy 
foot from getting bare (*in* is subst. not adjective, which would 
have had to be fern., since «i is fem/), and thy throat from 
thirst, viz. by reason of the fever of running after the idols. 
This admonition God addresses by the prophet to the people. 
It is not to wear the sandals off its feet by running after amours, 
nor so to heat its throat as to become thirsty. Hitz. proposes un- 
suitably, because in the face of the context, to connect the going 
barefoot with the visiting of the sanctuary, and the thirsting of 
the throat (1 Kings xviii. 26) with incessant calling on the gods. 
The answer of the people to this admonition shows clearly that 
it has been receiving an advice against running after the gods. 
The diet. "]Y\\$\ is evidently a copyist's error for ^»">fl. The 
people replies : BWJ, desperatum (est), i.e. hopeless ; thy advice is 
all in vain ; cf. xviii. 12, and on Isa. lvii. 10. The meaning is 
made clearer by Sib : no; for I love the aliens, etc. D'HT are not 
merely strange gods, but also strange peoples. Although 
idolatry is the matter chiefly in hand, yet it was so bound up 
with intriguing for the favour of the heathen nations that we 
cannot exclude from the words some reference to this also. 

Vers. 26-28. And yet idolatry brings to the people only dis- 
grace, giving no help in the time of need. Ver. 26. " As a 
thief is shamed when he is taken, so is the house of Israel put 
to shame; they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and 
their prophets. Ver. 27. Because they say to the wood, Thou 
art my father; and to the stone, Thou hast borne me: for 
they have turned to me the back and not the face ; but in the 
time of their trouble they say, Arise, and help us. Ver. 28. 
Where then are thy gods that thou hast made thee ? let them 
arise, if they can help thee in the time of thy trouble ; for as 
many as are thy cities, so many are thy gods, Judah." The 
thought in vers. 26 and 27a is this, Israel reaps from its 
idolatry but shame, as the thief from stealing when he is caught 
in the act. The comparison in ver. 26 contains a universal 
truth of force at all times. The perf. Wtata is the timeless ex- 

CHAP. II. 29-37. G9 

pression of certainty (Hitz.), and refers to the past as well as to 
the future. Just as already in past time, so also in the future, 
idolatry brings but shame and confusion by the frustration of 
the hopes placed in the false gods. The " house of Israel " is 
all Israel collectively, and not merely the kingdom of the ten 
tribes. To give the greater emphasis to the reproaches, the 
leading ranks are mentioned one by one. E^N, not : who say, 
but because (since) they say to the wood, etc., i.e. because they 
hold images of wood and stone for the gods to whom they owe 
life and being; whereas Jahveh alone is their Creator or Father 
and Genitor, Deut. xxxii. 6, 18; Isa. Ixiv. 7; Mai. ii. 10. \2K 
is fern., and thus is put for mother. The Keri WW!?* is sug- 
gested solely by the preceding B^*?^, while the diet, is correct, 
and is to be read *-U?1r s j inasmuch as each one severally speaks 
thus. — With " for they have turned" follows the reason of the 
statement that Israel will reap only shame from its idolatry. 
To the living God who has power to help them they turn their 
back ; but when distress comes upon them they cry to Him for 
help (WC'im rrop as in Ps. iii. 8). But then God will send 
the people to their gods (idols) ; then will it discover they will 
not help, for all so great as their number is. The last clause 
of ver. 28 runs literally : the number of thy cities are thy gods 
become, i.e. so great is the number of thy gods; cf. xi. 13. 
Judah is here directly addressed, so that the people of Judah 
may not take for granted that what has been said is of force 
for the ten tribes only. On the contrary, Judah will experience 
the same as Israel of the ten tribes did when disaster broke 
over it. 

Vers. 29-37. Judah has refused to let itself be turned from 
idolatry either by judgments or by the warnings of the prophets ; 
nevertheless it holds itself guiltless, and believes itself able to 
turn aside judgment by means of its intrigues with Egypt. 
Ver. 29. " Wherefore contend ye against me? ye are all fallen 
away from me, saith Jahveh. Ver. 30. In vain have I smitten 
your sons ; correction have they not taken : your sword hath 
devoured your prophets, like a devouring lion. Ver. 31. O 
race that ye are, mark the word of Jahveh. Was I a wilder- 
ness to Israel, or a land of dread darkness ? Why saith my 
people, We wander about, come no more to thee ? Ver. 32. 


Does a maiden forget her ornaments, a bride her girdle ? but 
my people hath forgotten me days without number. Ver. 33. 
How finely thou trimmest thy ways to seek love ! therefore to 
misdeeds thou accustomest thy ways. Ver. 34. Even in thy 
skirts is found the blood of the souls of the innocent poor ones ; 
not at housebreaking hast thou caught them, but by reason 
of all this. Ver. 35. And thou sayest, I am innocent, yea His 
wrath hath turned from me : behold, I will plead at law with 
thee for that thou hast said, I have not sinned. Ver. 36. 
Why runnest thou so hard to change thy way? for Egypt too 
thou shalt come to shame, as thou wast put to shame for 
Asshur. Ver. 37. From this also shalt thou come forth, beating 
thy hands upon thy head ; for Jahveh rejecteth those in whom 
thou trustest, and thou shalt not prosper with them." The 
question in ver. 29, Wherefore contend ye against me? implies 
that the people contended with God as to His visitations, mur- 
mured at the divine chastisements they had met with ; not as 
to the reproaches addressed to them on account of their idolatry 
(Hitz., Graf), y~\ with ?N, contend, dispute against, is used of 
the murmuring of men against divine visitations, xii. 1, Job 
xxxiii. 13. Judah has no ground for discontent with the Lord ; 
for they have all fallen away from Him, and (ver. 31) let 
themselves be turned to repentance neither by afflictions, nor 
by warnings, nor by God's goodness to them. Wf?, to vanity, 
i.e. without effect, or in vain. Hitz. and Graf wish to refer 
Ci your sons " to the able-bodied youth who had at different 
times been slain by Jahveh in war. The LXX. seem to have 
taken it thus, expressing ^np? by iBe^aaOe ; for the third pers. 
of the verb will not agree with this acceptation of " your sons," 
since the reproach of not having taken correction could not 
apply to such as had fallen in war, but only to those who had 
escaped. This view is unquestionably incorrect, because, as 
Hitz. admits, the subject, those addressed in ^i?,?, must be the 
people. Hence it follows of necessity that in 03\33 too the 
people is meant. The expression is similar to ^ipV \32, Lev. 
xix. 18, and is used for the members of the nation, those who 
constitute the people ; or rather it is like tUW[ ^3, Joel iv. 6, 
where Judah is looked on by the prophet as a unity, where sons 
are the members of the people. n3n ; too, is not to be limited 

CHAP. II. 29-37. 71 

to those smitten or slain in war. It is used of all the judg- 
ments with which God visits His people, of sword, pestilence, 
famine, failure of crops, drought, and of all kinds of diseases ; 
cf. Lev. xxvi. 24 ff., Deut. xxviii. 22, 27 ff. Wtt3 is instruction 
b\- word and by warning, as well as correction by chastisement. 
Most comm. take the not receiving of correction to refer to 
divine punitive visitations, and to mean refusal to amend after 
such warning ; Eos., on the other hand, holds the reference to 
be to the warnings and reproofs of the prophets ("IDIO hie instruc- 
tionem valet, id Prov. v. 12, 23 cet.). But both these references 
are one-sided. If we refer " correction have they not taken " 
to divine chastisement by means of judgments, there will be no 
connection between this and the following clause : your sword 
devoured your prophets ; and we are hindered from restraining 
the reference wholly to the admonitions and rebukes of the 
prophets by the close connection of the words with the first part 
of the verse, a connection indicated by the omission of all 
particles of transition. We must combine the two references, 
and understand "©M3 both of the rebukes or warnings of the 

T O 

prophets and of the chastisements of God, holding at the same 
time that it was the correction of the people by the prophets 
that Jer. here chiefly kept in view. In administering this cor- 
rection the prophets not only applied to the hearts of the people 
as judgments from God all the ills that fell upon them, but 
declared to the stiff-necked sinners the punishments of God, and 
by their words showed those punishments to be impending : 
e.g. Elijah, 1 Kings xvii. and xviii., 2 Kings i. 9 ff. ; Elisha, 
2 Kings ii. 23 ; the prophet at Bethel, 1 Kings xiii. 4. Thus 
this portion of the verse acquires a meaning for itself, which 
simplifies the transition from the first to the third clause, and 
we gain the following thought : I visited you with punish- 
ments, and made you to be instructed and reproved by prophets, 
but ye have slain the prophets who were sent to you. Nehe- 
miah puts it so in ix. 26 ; but Jeremiah uses a much stronger 
expression, Your sword devoured your prophets like a lion 
which destroys, in order to set full before the sinners' eyes the 
savage hatred of the idolatrous people against the prophets of 
God. Historical examples of this are furnished by 1 Kings 
xviii. 4, 13, xix. 10, 2 Chron. xxiv. 21 ff., 2 Kings xxi. 10, 


Jer. xxvi. 23. The prophet's indignation grows hotter as he 
brings into view God's treatment of the apostate race, and sets 
before it, to its shame, the divine long-suffering and love. Tfan 
DPiXj O generation ye ! English: O generation that ye are! (cf. 
Ew. § 327, a), is the cry of indignation; cf. Deut. xxxii. 5, where 
Moses calls the people a perverse foolish generation. W) : see, 
observe, give heed to the word of the Lord. This verb is often 
used of perceptions by any sense, as expressive of that sense 
by which men apprehend most of the things belonging to the 
outward world. Have I been for Israel a wilderness, i.e. an 
unfruitful soil, offering neither means of support nor shelter? 
This question contains a litotes, and is as much as to say : have 
not I richly blessed Israel with earthly goods ? Or a land of 
dread darkness ? n ^3N», lit. a darkness sent by Jahveh ; cf. 
the analogous form rvrnri^ Cant.' viii. 6. 1 The desert is so 
called not merely because it is pathless (Job iii. 23), but as a 
land in which the traveller is on all sides surrounded by deadly 
dangers ; cf. ver. 6 and Ps. lv. 5. Why then will His people 
insist on being quit of Plim ? We roam about unfettered (as , 
to in, see on Hos. xii. 1), i.e. we will no longer bear the yoke ^p 
of His law ; cf. ver. 20. By a comparison breathing love and 
longing sadness, the prophet seeks to bring home to the heart 
of the people a feeling of the unnaturalness of their behaviour 
towards the Lord their God. Does a bride, then, forget her 
ornaments? etc. B^'i?, found besides in Isa. iii. 20, is the 
ornamental girdle with which the bride adorns herself on the 
wedding-day ; cf. Isa. iii. 20 with xlix. 18. God is His people's 
best adornment ; to Him it owes all the precious possessions it 
has. It should keep fast hold of Him as its most priceless 
treasure, should prize Him more highly than the virgin her 
jewels, than the bride her girdle. But instead of this it has 
forgotten its God, and that not for a brief time, but throughout 

1 Ewald, Gram. § 270, c, proposes to read with the LXX. n*9DNft, be- 

t* ■ : - 

"cause (he says) it is nowhere possible, at least not in the language of the pro- 
phets, for the name Jah (God) to express merely greatness. But this is not 
to the point. Although a darkness sent by Jah be a great darkness, it by no 
means follows that the name Jah is used merely to express greatness. But by 
miT noiin, 1 Sam. xxvi. 12, it is put beyond a doubt that darkness of 
Jah means a darkness sent or spread out by Jah. 

CHAP. II. 29-37. 73 

countless days. (M?J is accus. of duration of time. Jeremiah 
uses this figure besides, as Calv. observed, to pave the way for 
what comes next. Volebat enim Judccos conferre mulieribus 
adidteris, quo? dum feruntur effreni sua libidine, rajnuntur post 
suos vagos amoves. 

In ver. 33 the style of address is ironical. How good thou 
makest thy way ! i.e. how well thou knowest to choose out and 
follow the right way to seek love. T)?. ^^\} sig. usually : 
strive after a good walk and conversation; cf. vii. 3, 5, xviii. 11, 
etc.; here, on the other hand, to take the right way for gaining 
the end in view. " Love " here is seen from the context to be 
love to the idols, intrigues with the heathen and their gods. 
Seek love = strive to gain the love of the false gods. To at- 
tain this end thou hast taught thy ways misdeeds, i.e. accus- 
tomed thy ways to misdeeds, forsaken the commandments of 
thy God which demand righteousness and the purifying of one's 
life, and accommodated thyself to the immoral practices of 
the heathen, nfonn, with the article as in iii. 5, the evil deeds 
which are undisguisedly visible ; not : the evils, the misfortunes 
which follow thee closely, as Hitz. interprets in the face of 
the context. For in ver. 34 we have indisputable evidence that 
the matter in hand is not evils and misfortunes, but evil deeds 
or misdemeanours ; since there the cleaving of the blood of 
innocent souls to the hems of the garments is mentioned as one 
of the basest " evils," and as such is introduced by the D3 of gra- 
dation. The u blood of souls " is the blood of innocent mur- 
dered men, which clings to the skirts of the murderers' clothes. 
D;S33 are the skirts of the flowing garment, Ezek. v. 3 ; 1 Sam. 
xv. 27 ; Zech. viii. 23. The pluraf tt»B3 before D"n is explained 
by the fact that nitr'Si is the principal idea. B^SN are not 
merely those who live in straitened circumstances, but pious 
oppressed ones as contrasted with powerful transgressors and 
oppressors ; cf. Ps. xl. 18, Ixxii. 13 f., Ixxxvi. 1, 2, etc. By 
the next clause greater prominence is given to the fact that 
they were slain being innocent. The words : not n^nna, at 
housebreaking, thou tookest them, contain an allusion to the law 
in Ex. xxii. 1 and onwards ; according to which the killing of 
a thief caught in the act of breaking in was not a cause of 
blood-guiltiness. The thought runs thus : The poor ones thou 


hast slain were no thieves or robbers whom thou hadst a right 
to slay, but guiltless pious men ; and the killing of them is a 
crime worthy of death. Ex. xxi. 12. The last words rfejri>3 bv »2) 
are obscure, and have been very variously interpreted. Changes 
upon the text are not to the purpose. For we get no help from 
the reading of the LXX., of the Syr. and Arab., which seem 
to have read n?H as n7K ? and which have translated Bpvt oak or 
terebinth ; since " upon every oak " gives no rational meaning. 
Nor from the connecting of the words with the next verse 
(Venem., Schnur., Ros., and others) : yet with all this, or in 
spite of all this, thou saidst ; since neither does ^ mean yet, 
nor can the 1 before ''"^n, in this connection, introduce the 
sequel thought. The words manifestly belong to what goes 
before, and contain a contrast : not in breaking in by night thou 
tookest them, but upon, or on account of all this. ?V in the sig. 
upon gives a suitable sense only if, with Abarb., Ew., Nag., 
we refer n^K to 3J*B333 and take wm^D as 1st pers. : I found 
it (the blood of the slain souls) not on the place where the 
murder took place, but upon all these, sc. lappets of the clothes, 
i.e. borne openly for display. But even without dwelling on 
the fact that rnnno does not mean the scene of a murder or 
breaking in, this explanation is wrecked on the unmistakeably 
manifest allusion to the law, 332H |$$ rnnrm DK, Ex. xxi. 1, 
which is ignored, or at least obscured, by that view. The allu- 
sion to this passage of the law shows that DTWVD is not 1st but 
2d pers., and that the suffix refers to the innocent poor who 
were slain. Therefore, with Hitz. and Graf, we take "v3 ?V 
r\W in the sig. " on account of all this," and refer the " all 
this" to the idolatry before mentioned. Consequently the 
words bear this meaning : Not for a crime thou killedst the 
poor, but because of thine apostasy from God and thy forni- 
cation with the idols, their blood cleaves to thy raiment. The 
words seem, as Calv. surmised, to point to the persecution and 
slaying of the prophets spoken of in ver. 30, namely, to the 
innocent blood with which the godless king Manasseh filled 
Jerusalem, 2 Kings xxi. 16, xxiv. 4 ; seeking as he did to 
crush out all opposition to the abominations of idolatry, and 
finding in his way the prophets and the godly of the land, who 
by their words and their lives lifted up their common testimony 

CHAP. II. 29-37. 75 

against the idolaters and their abandoned practices. — Ver. 35. 
Yet withal the people holds itself to be guiltless, and deludes 
itself with the belief that God's wrath has turned away from 
it, because it has for long enjoyed peace, and because the 
judgment of devastation of the land by enemies, threatened by 
the earlier prophets, had not immediately received its fulfil- 
ment. For this self-righteous confidence in its innocence, God 
will contend with His people (^nix for ^JIX as in i. 16). — Ver. 
36 f. Yet in spite of its proud security Judah seeks to assure 
itself against hostile attacks by the eager negotiation of alliances. 
This thought is the link between ver. 35 and the reproach of 
ver. 36. Why runnest thou to change thy way? tyn for 
vINn, from JW, go, with 1N», go impetuously or with strength, 
i.e. go in haste, run ; cf. 1 Sam. xx. 19. To change, shift 
(nfetS>) one's way, is to take another way than that on which 
one has hitherto gone. The prophet's meaning is clear from the 
second half of the verse : " for Egypt, too, wilt thou come to 
shame, as for Assyria thou hast come to shame." Changing 
the way, is ceasing to seek help from Assyria in order to form 
close relations with Egypt. The verbs "ISOPl and fit^n show 
that the intrigues for the favour of Assyria belong to the past, 
for the favour of Egypt to the present. Judah was put to 
shame in regard to Assyria under Ahaz, 2 Chron. xxviii. 21 ; 
and after the experience of Assyria it had had under Hezekiah 
and Manasseh, there could be little more thought of looking for 
help thence. But what could have made Judah under Josiah, in 
the earlier days of Jeremiah, to seek an alliance with Egypt, 
considering that Assyria was at that time already nearing its 
dissolution? Graf is therefore of opinion that the prophet is 
here keeping in view the political relations in the days of 
Jehoiakim, in which and for which time he wrote his book, 
rather than those of Josiah's times, when the alliance with 
Asshur was still in force ; and that he has thus in passing cast a 
stray glance into a time influenced by later events. But the 
opinion that in Josiah's time the alliance with Asshur was still 
existing cannot be historically proved. Josiah's invitation to 
the passover of all those who remained in what had been the 
kingdom of the ten tribes, does not prove that he exercised a 
kind of sovereignty over the provinces that had formerly be- 


longed to the kingdom of Israel, a thins; he could have done 
only as vassal of Assyria ; see against this view the remarks on 
2 Kings xxiii. 15 ff. As little does his setting himself against 
the now mighty Pharaoh Necho at Megiddo show clearly that 
he remained faithful to the alliance with Asshur in spite of the 
disruption of the Assyrian empire ; see against this the remarks 
on 2 Kings xxiii. 29 f. Historically only thus much is certain, 
that Jehoiakim was raised to the throne by Pharaoh Necho, 
and that he was a vassal of Egypt. During the period of this 
subjection the formation of alliances with Egypt was for Judah 
out of the question. Such a case could happen only when 
Jehoiakim had become subject to the Chaldean king Nebu- 
chadnezzar, and was cherishing the plan of throwing off the 
Chaldean yoke. But the reference of the words to this design 
is devoid of the faintest probability, vers. 35 and 36 ; and the 
discourse throughout is far from giving the impression that 
Judah had already lost its political independence ; they rather 
imply that the kingdom was under the sway neither of Assyrians 
nor Egyptians, but was still politically independent. We may 
very plausibly refer to Josiah's time the resolution to give up 
all trust in the assistance of Assvria and to court the favour of 
Egypt. We need not seek for the outward inducement to 
this in the recognition of the beginning decline of the Assyrian 
power ; it might equally well lie in the growth of the Egyptian 
state. That the power of Egypt had made considerable pro- 
gress in the reimi of Josiah, is made clear bv Pharaoh Necho's 

CO' *■ 

enterprise against Assyria in the last year of Josiah, from Necho's 
march towards the Euphrates. Josiah's setting himself in op- 
position to the advance of the Egyptians, which cost him his 
life at Megiddo, neither proves that Judah was then allied with 
Assyria nor excludes the possibility of intrigues for Egypt's 
favour having already taken place. It is perfectly possibly that 
the taking of Manasseh a captive to Babylon by Assyrian 
generals may have shaken the confidence in Assyria of the 
idolatrous people of Judah, and that, their thoughts turning to 
Egypt, steps may have been taken for paving the way towards 
an alliance with this great power, even although the godly 
king Josiah took no part in these proceedings. The prophet's 
warning against confidence in Egypt and against courting its 

CHAP. III. 1-5. 77 

alliance, is given in terms so general that it is impossible to 
draw any certain conclusions either with regard to the principles 
of Josiah's government or with regard to the circumstances of 
the time which Jeremiah was keeping in view. — Ver. 37. Also 
from this, i.e. Egypt, shalt thou go away (come back), thy hands 
upon thy head, i.e. beating them on thy head in grief and dis- 
may (cf. for this gesture 2 Sam. xiii. 19). ffi refers to Egypt, 
thought of as a people as in xlvi. 8, Isa. xix. 16, 25 ; and thus 
is removed Hitz.'s objection, that in that case we must have riN'r. 
DtfiMfi, objects of confidence. The expression refers equally 
to Egypt and to Assyria. As God has broken the power of 
Assyria, so will He also overthrow Egypt's might, thus making 
all trust in it a shame. Dr6 in reference to them. 

VT / 

Chap. iii. 1-5. As a divorced woman who has become another 
man's wife cannot return to her first husband, so Judah, after 
it has turned away to other gods, will not be received again by 
Jahveh ; especially since, in spite of all chastisements, it adheres 
to its evil ways. Ver. 1. " He saith, If a man put away his 
wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, can he 
return to her again ? would not such a land be polluted ? and 
thou hast whored with many partners ; and wouldst thou return 
tome? saith Jahveh. Ver. 2. Lift up thine eyes unto the 
bare-topped hills and look, where hast thou not been lien with ; 
on the ways thou sattest for them, like an Arab in the desert, 
and pollutedst the land by thy whoredoms and by thy wicked- 
ness. Ver. 3. And the showers were withheld, and the latter 
rain came not ; but thou hadst the forehead of an harlot woman, 
wouldst not be ashamed. Ver. 4. Ay, and from this time 
forward thou criest to me, My father, the friend of my youth 
art thou. Ver. 5. Will he alway bear a grudge and keep it up 
for ever? Behold, thou speakest thus and dost wickedness and 
earnest it out." This section is a continuation of the preceding 
discourse in chap, ii., and forms the conclusion of it. That this 
is so may be seen from the fact that a new discourse, introduced 
by a heading of its own, begins with ver. 6. The substance of 
the fifth verse is further evidence in the same direction ; for the 
rejection of Judah by God declared in that verse furnishes the 
suitable conclusion to the discourse in chap, ii., and briefly shows 
how the Lord will plead with the people that holds itself blame- 


less (ii. 35). 1 But it is somewhat singular to find the connection 
made by means of "l'B&6- which is not translated by the LXX. 
or Syr., and is expressed by Jerome by vulgo dicitur. Eos. 
would make it, after Rashi, possem dicere, Rashi's opinion being 
that it stands for "»D^ 'b Vh. In this shape the assumption can 
hardly be justified. It might be more readily supposed that the 
infinitive stood in the sense : it is to be said, one may say, it 
must be affirmed ; but there is against this the objection that 
this use of the infinitive is never found at the beginning of a 
new train of thought. The only alternative is with Maur. and 
Hitz. to join ")E>N? with what precedes, and to make it dependent 
on the verb DXO in ii. 37 : Jahveh hath rejected those in whom 
thou trustest, so that thou shalt not prosper with them ; for He 
says : As a wife, after she has been put away from her husband 
and has been joined to another, cannot be taken back again by 
her first husband, so art thou thrust away for thy whoredom. 
The rejection of Judah by God is not, indeed, declared expressis 
verbis in vers. 1-5, but is clearly enough contained there in sub- 
stance. Besides, "the rejection of the people's sureties (ii. 37) 
involves that of the people too " (Hitz.). "ibK?, indeed, is not 
universally used after verbis dicendi alone, but frequently stands 
after very various antecedent verbs, in which case it must be 
very variously expressed in English; e.g. in Josh. xxii. 11 it 
comes after WOK^, they heard : as follows, or these ' words ; in 
2 Sam. iii. 12 we have it twice, once after the words, he sent 
messengers to David to say, i.e. and cause them say to him, a 
second time in the sense of namely; in 1 Sam. xxvii. 11 with 
the force of: for he said or thought. It is used here in a 

1 The contrary assertion of Ew. and Nagelsb. that these verses do not 
belong to what precedes, but constitute the beginning of the next dis- 
course (chap, iii.— vi.), rests upon an erroneous view of the train of thought 
in this discourse. And such meagre support as it obtains involves a viola- 
tion of usage in interpreting ^tf yfiih as : yet turn again to me, and needs 
further the arbitrary critical assertion that the heading in iii. 6 : and Jahveh 
said to me in the days of Josiah, has been put by a copyist in the wrong 
place, and that it ought to stand before ver. 1. — Nor is there any reason 
for the assumption of J. D. Mich, and Graf, that at ver. 1 the text has been 
mutilated, and that by an oversight "6*$ HIPP *\T\ 'itH has dropped out ; 
and this assumption also contradicts the fact that vers. 1-5 can neither 
contain nor begin any new prophetic utterance. 

CHAP. III. 1-5. 70 

manner analogous to this : he announces to thee, makes known 
to thee. — The comparison with the divorced wife is suggested 
by the law in Deut. xxiv. 1-4. Here it is forbidden that a man 
shall take in marriage again his divorced wife after she has been 
married to another, even although she has been separated from 
her second husband, or even in the case of the death of the 
latter ; and re-marriage of this kind is called an abomination 
before the Lord, a thing that makes the land sinful. The 
question, May he yet return to her ? corresponds to the words 
of the law : her husband may not again (21E9) take her to be 
his wife. The making of the land sinful is put by Jer. in 
stronger words : this land is polluted ; making in this an allusion 
to Lev. xviii. 25, 27, where it is said of similar sins of the flesh 
that they pollute the land. 

With " and thou hast whored " comes the application of this 
law to the people that had by its idolatry broken its marriage 
vows to its God. H3T is construed with the accus. as in Ezek. xvi. 
28. BT?., comrades in the sense of paramours ; cf. Hos. iii. 1. 
D*2n, inasmuch as Israel or Judah had intrigued with the gods 
of many nations. vS 2itJ>'l is infin. abs., and the clause is to be 
taken as a question : and is it to be supposed that thou mayest 
return to me % The question is marked only by the accent ; cf . 
Ew. § 328, a, and Gesen. § 131, 4, b. Syr., Targ., Jerome, etc. 
have taken 2^1 as imperative : return again to me ; but wrongly, 
since the continuity is destroyed. This argument is not answered 
by taking 1 copul. adversatively with the sig. yet ; it is on the 
contrary strengthened by this arbitrary interpretation. The 
call to return to God is incompatible with the reference in 
ver. 2 to the idolatry which is set before the eyes of the people 
to show it that God has cause to be wroth. " Look but to the 
bare-topped hills." ^2£>, bald hills and mountains (cf. Isa. 
xli. 18), were favoured spots for idolatrous worship ; cf. Hos. 
iv. 13. When hast not thou let thyself be ravished? i.e. on 
all sides. For VpW the Masoretes have here and everywhere 
substituted r 1 ??!^, see Deut. xxviii. 30, Zech. xiv. 2, etc. The 
word is here used for spiritual ravishment by idolatry; here 
represented as spiritual fornication. Upon the roads thou sattest, 
like a prostitute, to entice the passers-by ; cf. Gen. xxxviii. 14, 
Prov. vii. 12. This figure corresponds in actual fact to the 


erection of idolatrous altars at the corners of the streets and at 
the gates : 2 Kings xxiii. 8 ; Ezek. xvi. 25. Like an Arab in the 
desert, i.e. a Bedouin, who lies in wait for travellers, to plunder 
them. The Bedouins were known to the ancients, cf. Diod. 
Sic. ii. 48, Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 28, precisely as they are repre- 
sented to this day by travellers. — By this idolatrous course Israel 
desecrated the land. The plural form of the suffix with the 
singular HUT is to be explained by the resemblance borne both 
in sound and meaning (an abstract) by the termination rw 
to the plural Di ; cf. ver. 8, Zeph. iii. 20, and E\v. § 259, b. 
Sjnjn refers to the moral enormities bound up with idolatry, 
e.g. the shedding of innocent blood, ii. 30, 35. The sheddino- 
of blood is represented as defilement of the land in Num. xxxv. 
33. — Ver. 3. But the idolatrous race was not to be brought to 
reflection or turned from its evil ways, even when judgment 
fell upon it. God chastised it by withholding the rain, by 
drought ; cf. xiv. 1 ff., Amos iv. 7 ff. d^l"), rain-showers (Deut. 
xxxii. 2), does not stand for the early rain (fn^), but denotes 
any fall of rain ; and the late rain (shortly before harvest) is 
mentioned along with it, as in Hos. vi. 3, Zech. x. 1. But 
affliction made no impression. The people persisted in its sinful 
courses with unabashed effrontery ; cf. v. 3, Ezek. iii. 7 f. — Ver. 
4. Henceforward, forsooth, it calls upon its God, and expects that 
His wrath will abate ; but this calling on Him is but lip-service, 
for it goes on in its sins, amends not its life. Ni?n, nonne, has 
usually the force of a confident assurance, introducing in the 
form of a question that which is held not to be in the least 
doubtful. Ptfipo, henceforward, the antithesis to DPi^D, ii. 20, 27, 
is rightly referred by Chr. B. Mich, to the time of the reforma- 
tion in public worship, begun by Josiah in the twelfth year of 
his reign, and finally completed in the eighteenth year, 2 Chron. 
xxxiv. 3—33. Clearly we cannot suppose a reference to distress 
and anxiety excited by the drought; since, in ver. 3, it is expressly 
said that this had made no impression on the people. On ^K, 
cf. ii. 27. "nyj SffcH (cf. Prov. ii. 17), the familiar friend of my 
youth, is the dear beloved God, i.e. Jahveh, who has espoused 
Israel when it was a young nation (ii. 2). Of Him it expects 
that He will not bear a grudge for ever. 1t?J, guard, then like 
rrjpelv, cherish ill-will, keep up, used of anger ; see on Lev. 

CHAP. III. C-VI. 30. 81 

xix. 18, Ps. ciii. 9, etc. A like meaning has ibtf*, to which 
*\S, iram. is to supplied from the context ; cf. Amos i. 11. — Thus 
the people speaks, but it does evil. ''£»"]?% like ™~}P T in ver. 4, 
is 2d pers. fem. ; see in ii. 20. Hitz. connects ^Jf^M so closely 
with tyURl as to make riijnn the object to the former verb also : 
thou hast spoken and done the evil ; but this is plainly contrary 
to the context. " Thou speakest " refers to the people's saying 
quoted in the first half of the verse : Will God be angry for 
ever ? What they do is the contradiction of what they thus 
say. If the people wishes that God be angry no more, it must 
give over its evil life. n W7?> not calamity, but misdeeds, as in 
ii. 33. /?tfl, thou hast managed it, properly mastered, i.e. 
carried it through ; cf. 1 Sam. xxvi. 25, 1 Kings xxii. 22. The 
form is 2d pers. fem., with the fem. ending dropped on account 
of the Vav consec. at the end of the discourse ; cf. E\v. § 191, b. 
So long as this is the behaviour of the people, God cannot 
withdraw His anger. 


These four chapters form a lengthy prophetic discourse of 
the time of Josiah, in which two great truths are developed : 
that Israel can become a partaker of promised blessing only 
through conversion to the Lord, and that by perseverance in 
apostasy it is drawing on itself the judgment of expulsion 
amongst the heathen. In the first section, chap. iii. 6-iv. 2, 
we have the fate of the ten tribes displayed to the faithless 
Judah, and the future reception again and conversion of Israel 
announced. In the second section, chap. iv. 3-31, the call to 
Judah to repent is brought home to the people by the portrayal 
of the judgment about to fall upon the kingdom, the destruction 
of Jerusalem and the devastation of the land. In the third 
section, chap, v., a further description is given of the people's 
persistence in unrighteousness and apostasy. And in the fourth 
section, chap, vi., the impending judgment and its horrors are 
yet more fully exhibited to a generation blinded by its self- 
righteous confidence in the external performance of the sacrificial 

Eichhorn and Hitz. have separated chap. iii. 6-iv. 2 from 
vol. i. • f 


what follows as being a separate oracle, on the ground that 
at chap. iv. 3 a new series of oracles begins, extending to x. 25. 
These oracles, they say, " are composed under the impressions 
created by an invasion of a northern nation, looked for with 
dread and come at last in reality ; " while they find no trace of 
this invasion in chap. iii. 6-iv. 2. This latter section they hold 
rather to be the completion to chap. ii. 1— iii. 5, seeing that the 
severe retort (iii. 5) upon repentant Judah is justified here 
(iii. 10) by the statement that this is no true repentance ; that 
the harsh saying : thou hast thyself wrought out thy misfortunes, 
cannot be the prophet's last word ; and that the final answer to 
nbrn M? in ver. 5 is not found before D^ "ntSK *6 in 
ver. 12. By Dahler, Umbreit, Neumann, chap. iii. is taken as 
an independent discourse ; but they hold it to extend to iv. 4, 
because ^ in iv. 3 cannot introduce a new discourse. The 
two views are equally untenable. It is impossible that a new 
discourse should begin with "for thus saith Jahveh ; " and it 
is as impossible that the threatening of judgment beginning 
with iv. 5, " declare ye in Jahveh," should be torn apart, 
separated from the call: "plow up a new soil; circumcise the 
foreskins of your hearts, that my wrath go not forth like fire 
and burn," etc. (iv. 3, 4). Against the separation and for the 
unity we have arguments in the absence of any heading and of 
any trace of a new commencement in chap, iv., and in the 
connection of the subject-matter of all the sections of these 
chapters. 1 We have no ground for the disjunction of one part 
of the discourse from the other in the fact that in chap. iii. 6— 
iv. 2 apostate Israel (of the ten tribes) is summoned to return 
to the Lord, and invited to repentance by the promise of 
acceptance and rich blessing for those who in penitence return 
again to God : while in iv. 3— vi. the devastation of the land 
and dispersion amongst the heathen are held out as punishment 
of a people (Judah) persisting in apostasy (see comment, on 
iii. 6 ff.). The supposed connection between the discourse, 
iii. 6— iv. 2 and ii. 1-iii. 5, is not so close as Hitz. would have 

1 By Rosenm. has been justly urged : " Cum inscriptio hie (3, 6) et c. 7, 1, 
obvia, qua concionis liabitx tempus noiatur, turn manifesto, omnium partium 
hide a c. 3, 6, usque ad finem cap. 6 coliserentia, et oralionis tenor sine idlo 
interstitio ac novae, concionis signo decurrens." 

CHAP. III. G-1V. 2. 83 

it. The relation of chap. iii. 6 ff. to ii. 1 ff. is not that the 
prophet desires in chap. iii. 6-iv. 2 to explain or mitigate the 
harsh utterance in iii. 5, because his own heart could not 
acquiesce in the thought of the utter rejection of his people, and 
because the wrath of the seer was here calming down again. 
This opinion and the reference of the threatened judgment in 
chap, iv.-vi. to the Scythians are based on unscriptural views 
of the nature of prophecy. But even if, in accordance with 
what has been said, these four chapters form one continuous 
prophetic discourse, yet we are not justified by the character of 
the whole discourse as a unity in assuming that Jeremiah 
delivered it publicly in this form before the people at some 
particular time. Against this tells the indefiniteness of the date 
given : in the days of Josiah ; and of still greater weight is the 
transition, which we mark repeated more than once, from the 
call to repentance and the denunciation of sin, to threatening 
and description of the judgment about to fall on people and 
kingdom, city and country; cf. iv. 3 with v. 1 and vi. 1, 16. 
From this we can see that the prophet continually begins again 
afresh, in order to bring more forcibly home to the heart what 
he has already said. The discourse as we have it is evidently the 
condensation into one uniform whole of a series of oral addresses 
which had been delivered by Jeremiah in Josiah's times. 

Chap. iii. 6-iv. 2. The rejection and restoration of 
Israel (of the Ten Tribes). — Hgstb. speaks of this passage 
as the announcement of redemption in store for Israel. And he 
so speaks not without good cause ; for although in iii. 6-9 the 
subject is the rejection of Israel for its backsliding from the 
Lord, yet this introduction to the discourse is but the historical 
foundation for the declaration of good news (iii. 12-iv. 2), that 
rejected Israel will yet return to its God, and have a share in 
the glory of the Messiah. From the clearly drawn parallel 
between Israel and Judah in iii. 8-11 it is certain that the 
announcement of Israel's redemption can have no other aim 
than "to wound Judah." The contents of the whole discourse 
maybe summed up in two thoughts: 1. Israel is not to remain 
alway rejected, as pharisaic Judah imagined ; 2. Judah is not 
to be alway spared. When Jeremiah entered upon his office 


Israel had been in exile for 94 years, and all hope for the 
restoration of the banished people seemed to have vanished. 
But Judah, instead of taking warning by the judgment that 
had fallen upon the ten tribes, and instead of seeing in the 
downfall of the sister people the prognostication of its own, 
was only confirmed by it in its delusion, and held its own con- 
tinued existence to be a token that against it, as the people of 
God, no judgment of wrath could come. This delusion must 
be destroyed by the announcement of Israel's future reinstate- 

Vers. 6-10. IsraeVe backsliding and rejection a learning for 
Judah. — Ver. 6. "And Jahveh spake to me in the days of 
King Josiah, Hast thou seen what the backsliding one, Israel, 
hath done ? she went up on every high mountain, and under 
every green tree, and played the harlot there. Ver. 7. And I 
thought : After she hath done all this, she will return to me ; but 
she returned not. And the faithless one, her sister Judah, saw 
it. Ver. 8. And I saw that, because the backsliding one, 
Israel, had committed adultery, and I had put her away, and 
had given her a bill of divorce, yet the faithless one, Judah, her 
sister, feared not even on this account, and went and played the 
harlot also. Ver. 9. And it befell that for the noise of her 
whoredom the land was defiled, and she committed adultery 
with stone and wood. Ver. 10. And yet w r ith all this, the 
faithless one, her sister Judah, turned not to me with her whole 
heart, but with falsehood, saith Jahveh." The thought of 
these verses is this : notwithstanding that Judah has before its 
eyes the lot which Israel (of the ten tribes) has brought on 
itself by its obdurate apostasy from the covenant God, it will 
not be moved to true fear of God and real repentance. View- 
ing idolatry as spiritual whoredom, the prophet developes that 
train of thought by representing the two kingdoms as two 
adulterous sisters, calling the inhabitants of the ten tribes •"■SB'D, 
the backsliding, those of Judah flta, the faithless. On these 
names Venema well remarks : " Sorores propter unam eandemque 
stirpem, unde uterque populus fuit, et arctam ad se invicem rela- 
tionem appellantur. Utraque fuit adultera propter idololatriam 
et foederis violationem ; sed Israel vocatur uxor aversa ; Juda 
vero perjida, quia Israel non tantum religionis sed et regni et 

chap. in. 6-iv. 2. 85 

cicitatis respectu, adeoque palam erat a Deo alienata, Juda vero 
Deo el sedi regni ac religionis adfixa, sed nihilominus a Deo et 
cultu ejus defecerat, et sub externa specie popull Dei fcedus ejus 
fregerat, quo ipso gravius peccaverat" This representation 
Ezekiel has in chap, xxiii. expanded into an elaborate allegory. 
The epithets ^2^0 and n"lfa3 or THSu (ver. 11) are coined into 
proper names. This is shown by their being set without 
articles before the names ; as mere epithets they would stand 
after the substantives and have the article, since Israel and 
Judah as being iiomm. propr. are definite ideas, nznc'p is else- 
where an abstract substantive : apostasy, defection (viii. 5 ; Hos. 
xi. 7, etc.), here concrete, the apostate, so-called for her many 
nia^O, ver. 22 and ii. 19. "Tlfaa, the faithless, used of perfidious 
forsaking of a husband ; cf. ver. 20, Mai. ii. 14. K*n rD?il, 
going was she, expressing continuance. Cf. the same state- 
ment in ii. 20. ^TJJ15 } 3d pers. fern., is an Aramaizing form for 
lUTBJ or |W1; cf. Isa. liii. 10. — Ver. 7. And I said, sc. to myself, 
i.e. I thought. A speaking by the prophets (Rashi) is not to 
be thought of ; for it is no summons, turn again to me, but 
only the thought, they will return. It is true that God caused 
backsliding Israel to be ever called again to repentance by the 
prophets, yet without effect. Meantime, however, no reference 
is made to what God did in this connection, only Israel's be- 
haviour towards the Lord being here kept in view. The Chet. 
nx"im is the later usao;e ; the Keri substitutes the regular con- 

v : • - o » O 

tracted form ^ril. The object, it (the whoredom of Israel), 
may be gathered from what precedes. — Ver. 8. Many com- 
mentators have taken objection to the Nito, because the sen- 
tence, "I saw that I had therefore given Israel a bill of 
divorce," is as little intelligible as " and the faithless Judah saw 
it, and I saw it, for," etc. Thus e.g. Graf, who proposes 
with Ew. and Syr. to read N^rn, " and she saw," or with Jerome 
to omit the word from the text. Against both conjectures it is 
decisive that the LXX. translates /cal el&ov, and so must have 
read N^J. To this we may add, that either the change or the 
omission destroys the natural relation to one another of the 
clauses. In either case we would have this connection : " and 
the faithless one, her sister Judah, saw that, because the back- 
slider Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away . . . 



yet the faithless one feared not." But thus the gist of the thing, 
what Judah saw, namely, the repudiation of Israel, would be 
related but cursorily in a subordinate clause, and the 7th verse 
would be shortened into a half verse ; while, on the other hand, 
the 8th verse would be burdened with an unnaturally long pro- 
tasis. Ros. is right in declaring any change to be unnecessary, 
provided the two halves of vers. 7 and 8 are connected in this 
sense : vidi quod quwn adidteram Israelitidem dimiseram, tamen 
non timeret ejus perjida soror Juda. If we compare vers. 7 
and 8 together, the correspondence between the two comes 
clearly out. In the first half of either verse Israel is spoken 
of, in the second Judah ; while as to Israel, both verses state 
how God regarded the conduct of Israel, and as to Judah, how 
it observed and imitated Israel's conduct. X"iX1 corresponds to 
~iOX1 in ver. 7. God thought the backsliding Israel will repent, 
and it did not, and this Judah saw. Thus, then, God saw that 
even the repudiation of the backsliding Israel for her adultery 
incited no fear in Judah, but Judah went and did whoredom 
like Israel. The true sense of ver. 8 is rendered obscure or 
difficult by the external co-ordination to one another of the two 
thoughts, that God has rejected Israel just because it has com- 
mitted adultery, and, that Judah nevertheless feared not ; the 
second thought being introduced by Vav. In reality, however, 
the first should be subordinated to the second thus : that al- 
though I had to reject Israel, Judah yet feared not. What 
God saw is not the adultery and rejection or divorce of Israel, 
but that Judah nevertheless had no fear in committing and 
persisting in the self-same sin. The ^ belongs properly to 
nxv s6, but this relation is obscured by the length of the 

t : it ? *J * O 

prefixed grounding clause, and so nxV 87 is introduced by ]. 
'lAl nnx"72"7y ? literally : that for all the reasons, because the 
backslider had committed adultery, I put her away and gave 
her a bill of divorce ; yet the faithless Judah feared not. In 
plain English : that, in spite of all my putting away the back- 
sliding Israel, and my giving her . . . because she had com- 
mitted adultery, yet the faithless Judah feared not. On 
narina idd, c f. Deut. xxiv. 1, 3. 

In ver. 9 Judah's fornication with the false gods is further 
described. Here WH3T Ppp is rather stumbling, since ob vocem 

CHAP. III. G-IV. 2. 87 

scortationis cannot well be simply tantamount to 6b famosam 
scortationem ; for b\p, voice, tone, sound, din, noise, is distinct 
from && or J?*?ts>, fame, rumour. All ancient translators have 
taken bp from bbp, as being formed analogously to Dh, Dn, rj?; 
and a Masorctic note finds in the defective spelling bp an in- 
dication of the meaning levitas. Yet we occasionally find b\p, 
vox, written defectively, e.g. Ex. iv. 8, Gen. xxvii. 22, xlv. 16. 
And the derivation from bbp gives no very suitable sense ; 
neither lightness nor despisedness is a proper predicate for 
whoredom, by which the land is polluted ; only shame or 
shameful would suit, as it is put by E\v. and Graf. But there 
is no evidence from the usatje of the lan<iuao;e that h'p has the 
meaning of |i?i^. Yet more inadmissible is the conjecture of 
J. D. Mich., adopted by Hitz., that of reading ?£!?, stock, for 
?P», a stock being the object of her unchastity ; in support of 
which, reference is unfairly made to Hos. iv. 12. For there 
the matter in hand is rhabdomancy, with which the present 
passage has evidently nothing to do. The case standing thus, 
we adhere to the usual meaning of Pp : for the noise or din of 
her whoredom, not, for her crying whoredom (de Wette). Jere- 
miah makes use of this epithet to point out the open riotous 
orgies of idolatry, ^nn is neither used in the active significa- 
tion of desecrating, nor is it to be pointed ^nrrl (Hijjh.). On 
the last clause cf. ii. 27. — Ver. 10. But even with all this, i.e. 
in spite of this deep degradation in idolatry, Judah returned 
not to God sincerely, but in hypocritical wise. " And yet with 
all this," Ros., following Rashi, refers to the judgment that had 
fallen on Israel (ver. 8) ; but this is too remote. The words can 
bear reference only to that which immediately precedes : even 
in view of all these sinful horrors the returning was not " from 
the whole heart," i.e. did not proceed from a sincere heart, but 
in falsehood and hypocrisy. For (the returning being that 
which began with the abolition of idolatrous public worship in 
Josiah's reformation) the people had returned outwardly to the 
worship of Jahveh in the temple, but at heart they still clave 
to the idols. Although Josiah had put an end to the idol- 
worship, and though the people too, in the enthusiasm for the 
service of Jahveh, awakened by the solemn celebration of the 
passover, had broken in pieces the images and altars of the false 


gods throughout the land, yet there was imminent danger that the 
people, alienated in heart from the living God, should take the 
suppression of open idolatry for a true return to God, and, vainly 
admiring themselves, should look upon themselves as righteous 
and pious. Against this delusion the prophet takes his stand. 

Vers. 11-18. Israel's return, pardon, and blessedness. — Ver. 
11. "And Jahveh said to me, The backsliding one, Israel, is 
justified more than the faithless one, Judah. Ver. 12. Go 
and proclaim these words towards the north, and say, Turn, 
thou backsliding one, Israel, saith Jahveh ; I will not look 
darkly on you, for I am gracious, saith Jahveh ; I will not 
always be wrathful. Ver. 13. Only acknowledge thy guilt, 
for from Jahveh thy God art thou fallen away, and hither and 
thither hast thou wandered to strangers under every green tree, 
but to my voice ye have not hearkened, saith Jahveh. Ver. 14. 
Return, backsliding sons, saith Jahveh ; for I have wedded you 
to me, and will take you, one out of a city and two out of a 
race, and will bring you to Zion ; Ver. 15. And will give you 
shepherds according to my heart, and they will feed you with 
knowledge and wisdom. Ver. 16. And it comes to pass, when 
ye increase and are fruitful in the land, in those days, saith 
Jahveh, they will no more say, ' The ark of the covenant of 
Jahveh ; ' and it will no more come to mind, and ye will no 
longer remember it nor miss it, and it shall not be made again. 
Ver. 17. In that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of 
Jahveh ; and to it all peoples shall gather themselves, be- 
cause the name of Jahveh is at Jerusalem : and no longer 
shall they walk after the stubbornness of their evil heart. Ver. 
18. In those days shall the house of Judah go along with the 
house of Israel, and together out of the land of midnight shall 
they come into the land which I have given for an inheritance 
unto your fathers." In ver. 11, from the comparison of the 
faithless Judah with the backsliding Israel, is drawn the con- 
clusion : Israel stands forth more righteous than Judah. The 
same is said in other words by Ezekiel, xvi. 51 f. ; cf. (Ezek.) 
xxiii. 11. p^X in Piel is to show to be righteous, to justify. 
F!B>B3, her soul, i.e. herself. Israel appears more righteous than 
Judah, not because the apostasy and idolatry of the Israelites 
was less than that of the people of Judah ; in this they are put 

CHAP. III. G-IV. 2. 89 

on the same footing in vers. 6-10 ; in the like fashion both have 
played the harlot, i.e. stained themselves with idolatry (while 
by a rhetorical amplification the apostasy of Judah is in ver. 9 
represented as not greater than that of Israel). But it is inas- 
much as, in the first place, Judah had the warning example of 
Israel before its eyes, but would not be persuaded to repent- 
ance by Israel's punishment ; then again, Judah had more 
notable pledges than the ten tribes of divine grace, especially 
in the temple with its divinely-ordained cultus, in the Levitical 
priesthood, and in its race of kings chosen by God. Hence its 
fall into idolatry called more loudly for punishment than did 
that of the ten tribes ; for these, after their disruption from 
Judah and the Davidic dynasty, had neither a lawful cultus, 
lawful priests, nor a divinely-ordained kingship. If, then, in 
spite of these privileges, Judah sank as far into idolatry as 
Israel, its offence was greater and more grievous than that of 
the ten tribes ; and it was surely yet more deserving of punish- 
ment than Israel, if it was resolved neither to be brought to re- 
flection nor moved to repentance from its evil ways by the 
judgment that had fallen upon Israel, and if, on the contrary, 
it returned to God only outwardly and took the opus operatum 
of the temple-service for genuine conversion. For " the mea- 
sure of guilt is proportioned to the measure of grace." Yet will 
not the Lord utterly cast off His people, ver. 12 ff. He sum- 
mons to repentance the Israelites who had now long been 
living in exile ; and to them, the backsliding sons, who confess 
their sin and return to Him, He offers restoration to the full 
favours of the covenant and to rich blessings, and this in order 
to humble Judah and to provoke it to jealousy. The call to 
repentance which the prophet is in ver. 12 to proclaim towards 
the region of midnight, concerns the ten tribes living in Assyrian 
exile. '"^V, towards midnight, i.e. into the northern provinces 
of the Assyrian empire the tribes had been carried away 
(2 Kings xvii. 6, xviii. 11). ft2W y return, sc. to thy God. Not- 
withstanding that the subject which follows, nnt^'o, is fern., we 
have the masculine form here used adsensum^ because the faith- 
less Israel is the people of the ten tribes. *Jf '^N **?, I will 
not lower my countenance, is explained by Gen. iv. 5, Job xxix. 
24, and means to look darkly, frowningly, as outward expres- 


sion of anger ; and this without our needing to take *3S for 
"•MS as Kimchi does. For I am TDH, gracious ; cf . Ex. xxxiv. 6. 
As to "rttSK, see on ver. 5. — Ver. 13. An indispensable element 
of the return is: Acknowledge thy guilt, thine offence, for 
grievously hast thou offended ; thou art fallen away (S^S), and 
•q^rrrnx "n-tefi, lit. hast scattered thy ways for strangers; i.e. 
hither and thither, on many a track, hast thou run after the 
strange gods : cf. ii. 23. 

The repeated call 13JI&?, ver. 14, is, like that in ver. 12, ad- 
dressed to Israel in the narrower sense, not to the whole cove- 
nant people or to Judah. The "backsliding sons" are "the 
backsliding Israel " of vers. 7, 8, 11 f., and of ver. 22. In ver. 
18 also Judah is mentioned only as it is in connection with 
Israel. 2?^ 7??3?3, here and in xxxi. 32, is variously explained. 
There is no evidence for the meaning loathe, despise, which 
Ges. and Diet, in the Lex., following the example of Jos. 
Kimchi, Pococke, A. Schultens, and others, attribute to the 
word >J?3; against this, cf. Hgstb. Christol. ii. p. 375: nor 
is the sig. " rule " certified (LXX. Slotl iyco KaraKvptevcjco 
vfjbwv) ; it cannot be proved from Isa. xxvi. 13. bV2 means 
only, own, possess ; whence come the meanings, take to wife, 
have oneself married, which are to be maintained here and in 
xxxi. 32. In this view Jerome translates, quia ego vir v ester ; 
Luther, denn ich will euch mir vertrauen ; Hgstb., denn ich traue 
euch mir an ; — the reception anew of the people being given 
under the figure of a new marriage. This acceptation is, how- 
ever, not suitable to the perf. ^V?, for this, even if taken 
prophetically, cannot refer to a renewal of marriage which 
is to take place in the future. The perf. can be referred only 
to the marriage of Israel at the conclusion of the covenant on 
Sinai, and must be translated accordingly : I am your husband, 
or: I have wedded you to me. This is demanded by the 
croundino- *3 : for the summons to repent cannot give as its 
motive some future act of God, but must point to that covenant 
relationship founded in the past, which, though suspended for 
a time, was not wholly broken up. 1 The promise of what 

1 Calvin gives it rightly : " Dixerat enim, se dedisse libellum repudii h. e. 
quasi publicis tabid i s se testatum fuisse, nihil amplius sibi esse conjunctionis 
cum populo illo. Nam exilium erat instar divortii. Jam dicit : Ego sum 

CHAP. III. G-1V. 2. 91 

God will do if Israel repents is given only from Wli??1 (with 
) consec.) onwards. The words, I take you, one out of a city, 
two out of a race, are not with Kimchi to be so turned : if even 
a single Israelite dwelt in a heathen city ; but thus : if from 
amongst the inhabitants of a city there returns to me but one, 
and if out of a whole race there return but two, I will gather 
even these few and bring them to Zion. Quite aside from the 
point is Hitz.'s remark, that in Mic. v. 1, too, a city is called ^X, 
and is equivalent to nnsL'to. The numbers one and two them- 
selves show us that nna&TO is a larger community than the 
inhabitants of one town, i.e. that it indicates the great subdivi- 
sions into which the tribes of Israel were distributed. The 
thought, then, is this : Though but so small a number obey the 
call to repent, yet the Lord will save even these ; He will ex- 
clude from salvation no one who is willing to return, but will 
increase the small number of the saved to a great nation. This 
promise is not only not contradictory of those which declare the 
restoration of Israel as a whole ; but it is rather a pledge that 
God will forget no one who is willing to be saved, and shows 
the greatness of the divine compassion. — As to the historical 
reference, it is manifest that the promise cannot be limited, as 
it is by Theodrt. and Grot., to the return from the Assyrian 
and Babylonian exile ; and although the majority of commen- 
tators take it so, it can as little be solely referred to the Mes- 
sianic times or to the time of the consummation of the kingdom 
of God. The fulfilment is accomplished gradually. It begins 
with the end of the Babylonian exile, in so far as at that time 
individual members of the ten tribes may have returned into 
the land of their fathers ; it is continued in Messianic times 
during the lives of the apostles, by the reception, on the part of 
the Israelites, of the salvation that had appeared in Christ; it 
is carried on throughout the whole history of the Church, and 
attains its completion in the final conversion of Israel. This 
Messianic reference of the words is here the ruling one. This 
we may see from "bring you to Zion," which is intelligible 

maritus vester. Nam etiamsi ego (am gravlter hvsus a vobis fucrim, quia 
fefelltstis jiilem mihi datam, (amen maneo in propositi), id sim vobis maritus ; 
. . . et perinde ac si mihi semper Jidcm prtestitisselis, iterant assuman vos, 


only when we look on Zion as the seat of the kingdom of God ; 
and yet more clearly is it seen from the further promise, vers. 
15-17, I will give you shepherds according to my heart, etc. 
By shepherds we are not to understand prophets and priests, 
but the civil authorities, rulers, princes, kings (cf. ii. 8, 26). 
This may not only be gathered from the parallel passage, chap, 
xxiii. 4, but is found in the *3?3, which is an unmistakeable 
allusion to 1 Sam. xiii. 14, where David is spoken of as a man 
whom Jahveh has sought out for Himself after His heart 
(iarta), and has set to be prince over His people. They will 
feed you ^?^»t 11 . n JT7.- Both these words are used adverbially. 
nin is a noun, and TEfrn an infin. : deal wisely, possess, and 
show wisdom ; the latter is as noun generally ?3^, Dan. i. 17, 
Prov. i. 3, xxi. 16, but is found also as infin. absol. ix. 23. A 
direct contrast to these shepherds is found in the earlier kings, 
whom Israel had itself appointed according to the desire of its 
heart, of whom the Lord said by Hosea, They have set up kings 
(to themselves), but not by me (viii. 4) ; kings who seduced 
the people of God to apostasy, and encouraged them in it. " In 
the whole of the long series of Israelitish rulers we find no 
Jehoshaphat, no Hezekiah, no Josiah ; and quite as might have 
been expected, for the foundation of the throne of Israel was 
insurrection" (Hgstb.). But if Israel will return to the Lord, 
He will give it rulers according to His heart, like David (cf . Ezek. 
xxxiv. 23, Hos. iii. 5), who did wisely (^3feB) in all his ways, 
and with whom Jahveh was (1 Sam. xviii. 14 f. ; cf. 1 Kings 
ii. 3). The knowledge and wisdom consists in the keeping and 
doing of the law of God, Deut. iv. 6, xxix. 8. As regards 
form, the promise attaches itself to the circumstances of the 
earlier times, and is not to be understood of particular historical 
rulers in the period after the exile ; it means simply that the 
Lord will give to Israel, when it is converted to Him, good and 
faithful governors who will rule over it in the spirit of David. 
But the Davidic dynasty culminates in the kingship of the 
Messiah, who is indeed named David by the prophets; cf. 
xxii. 4. 

In vers. 16 and 17 also the thought is clothed in a form cha- 
racteristic of the Old Testament. AVhen the returned Israelites 
shall increase and be fruitful in the land, then shall they no 

CHAP. III. C-IV. 2. 93 

more remember the ark of the covenant of the Lord or feel the 
want of it, because Jerusalem will then be the throne of the 
Lord. The fruitf ulness and increase of the saved remnant is a 
constant feature in the picture of Israel's Messianic future ; cf. 
xxiii. 3, Ezek. xxxvi. 11, Hos. ii. 1. This promise rests on the 
blessing given at the creation, Gen. i. 28. God as creator and 
preserver of the world increases mankind together with the 
creatures ; even so, as covenant God, He increases His people 
Israel. Thus He increased the sons of Israel in Egypt to be a 
numerous nation, Ex. i. 12 ; thus, too, He will again make fruit- 
ful and multiply the small number of those who have been 
saved from the judgment that scattered Israel amongst the 
heathen. In the passages which treat of this blessing, fins 
generally precedes nan ; here, on the contrary, and in Ezek. 
xxxvi. 11, the latter is put first. The words 'til VlBtf 1 t6 mU st 
not be translated : they will speak no more of the ark of the 
covenant ; "WW c. accus. never has this meaning. They must 
be taken as the substance of what is said, the predicate being 
omitted for rhetorical effect, so that the words are to be taken 
as an exclamation. Hgstb. supplies : It is the aim of all our 
wishes, the object of our longing. Mov. simply : It is out- 
most precious treasure, or the glory of Israel, 1 Sam. iv. 21 f. ; 
Ps. lxxviii. 61. And they will no more remember it. Ascend 
into the heart, i.e. come to mind, joined with "DT here and in 
Isa. Ixv. 17 ; cf. Jer. vii. 31, xxxii. 35, li. 50, 1 Cor. ii. 9. 
ffyf. d), and they will not miss it ; cf. Isa. xxxiv. 16, 1 Sam. 
xx. 6, etc. This meaning is called for by the context, and 
especially by the next clause : it will not be made again. Hitz.'s 
objection against this, that the words cannot mean this, is an 
arbitrary dictum. Nonfiet amplius (Chr. B. Mich.), or, it will 
not happen any more, is an unsuitable translation, for this 
would be but an unmeaning addition ; and the expansion, that 
the ark will be taken into the battle as it formerly was, is such 
a manifest rabbinical attempt to twist the words, that it needs 
no further refutation. Luther's translation, nor offer more 
there, is untenable, since TO by itself never means offer. 
The thought is this : then they will no longer have any 
feeling of desire or want towards the ark. And wherefore? 
The answer is contained in ver. 17a : At that time will thev 


call Jerusalem the throne of Jahveh. The ark was the throne 
of Jahveh, inasmuch as Jahveh, in fulfilment of His pro- 
mise in Ex. xxv. 22, and as covenant God, was ever present 
to His people in a cloud over the extended wings of the two 
cherubim that were upon the covering of the ark of the law ; 
from the mercy-seat too, between the two cherubs, He spake 
with His people, and made known to them His gracious pre- 
sence : Lev. xvi. 2 ; cf. 1 Chron. xiii. 6, Ps. lxxx. 2, 1 Sam. 
iv. 4. The ark was therefore called the footstool of God, 
1 Chron. xxviii. 2 ; Ps. xcix. 5, cxxxii. 7 ; Lam. ii. 1. But in 
future Jerusalem is to be, and to be called, the throne of Jahveh •, 
and it is in such a manner to take the place of the ark, that the 
people will neither miss it nor make any more mention of it. 
The promise by no means presumes that when Jeremiah spoke 
or wrote this prophecy the ark was no longer in existence ; 
" was gone out of sight in some mysterious manner," as Movers, 
Chron. S. 139, and Hitz. suppose, 1 but only that it will be lost 
or destroyed. This could happen only at and along with the 
destruction of Jerusalem ; and history testifies that the temple 
after the exile had no ark. Hence it is justly concluded that 
the ark had perished in the destruction of Jerusalem by the 
Chaldeans, and that upon the rebuilding of the temple after the 
exile, the ark was not restored, because the nucleus of it, the 
tables of the law written by the finger of God, could not be con- 
structed by the hand of man. Without the ark the second 
temple was also without the gracious presence of Jahveh, the 
Shechinah or dwelling-place of God ; so that this temple was no 
longer the throne of God, but only a seeming temple, without 
substance or reality. And thus the Old Testament covenant 

1 Against this Hgstb. well says, that this allegation springs from the in- 
capacity of modern exegesis to accommodate itself to the prophetic antici- 
pation of the future ; and that we might as well infer from iii. 18, that at 
the time these words were spoken, the house of Judah must already in some 
mysterious manner have come into the land of the north. 2 Chron. xxxv. 3 
furnishes unimpeachable testimony to the existence of the ark in the 18th 
year of Josiah. And even Graf says he cannot find anything to justify 
Movers' conclusion, since from the special stress laid on the fact that at a 
future time they will have the ark no longer, it might more naturally be 
inferred that the ark was still in the people's possession, and was an object 
of care to them. 

CHAP. III. 6-IV. 2. 95 

had come to an end. " We have here then before us," Hgstb. 
truly observes, " the announcement of an entire overthrow of 
the earlier form of the kingdom ; but it is such an overthrow 
of the form that it is at the same time the highest perfection of 
the substance — a process like that in seed-corn, which only dies 
in order to bring forth much fruit ; like that in the body, which 
is sown a corruptible that it may rise an incorruptible." For 
the dwelling and enthronement of the Lord amidst His people 
was again to come about, but in a higher form. Jerusalem is 
to become the throne of Jahveh, i.e. Jerusalem is to be for the 
renewed Israel that which the ark had been for the former 
Israel, the holy dwelling-place of God. Under the old cove- 
nant Jerusalem had been the city of Jahveh, of the great 
King (Ps. xlviii. 3) ; because Jerusalem had possessed the 
temple, in which the Lord sat enthroned in the holy of holies 
over the ark. If in the future Jerusalem is to become the 
throne of the Lord instead of the ark, Jerusalem must itself 
become a sanctuary of God ; God the Lord must fill all Jeru- 
salem with His glory 0^3), as Isaiah prophesied He would in 
chap, lx., of which prophecy we have the fulfilment portrayed 
in Apoc. xxi. and xxii. Jeremiah does not more particularly 
explain how this is to happen, or how the raising of Jerusalem 
to be the throne of the Lord is to be accomplished ; for he is 
not seeking in this discourse to proclaim the future reconstitu- 
tion of the kingdom of God. His immediate aim is to clear 
away the false props of their confidence from a people that set 
its trust in the possession of the temple and the ark, and 
further to show it that the presence of the temple and ark will 
not protect it from judgment; that, on the contrary, the Lord 
will reject faithless Judah, destroying Jerusalem and the temple; 
that nevertheless He will keep His covenant promises, and that 
by receiving again as His people the repentant members of the 
ten tribes, regarded by Judah as wholly repudiated, with whom 
indeed He will renew His covenant. 

As a consequence of Jerusalem's being raised to the glory of 
being the Lord's throne, all nations will gather themselves to 
her, the city of God ; cf. Zech. ii. 15. Indeed in the Old Tes- 
tament every revelation of the glory of God amongst His people 
attracted the heathen ; cf. Jos. ix. 9 ff. ni.T DB& not, to the 


name of Jahveh towards Jerusalem (Hitz.), but, because of 
the name of Jahveh at Jerusalem (as in Jos. ix. 9), i.e. because 
Jahveh reveals His glory there ; for the name of Jahveh is 
Jahveh Himself in the making of His glorious being known in 
deeds of almighty power and grace. D?!pnv, prop, belonging 
to Jerusalem, because the name makes itself known there ; cf. 
xvi. 19, Mic. iv. 2, Zech. viii. 22. — The last clause, they will 
walk no more, etc., refers not to the heathen peoples, but to 
the Israelites as being the principal subject of the discourse (cf . 
v. 16), since 3? WT1K> is used of Israel in all the cases (vii. 24, 
ix. 13, xi. 8, xiii. 10, xvi. 12, xviii. 12, xxiii. 17, and Ps. lxxxi. 
13), thus corresponding to the original in Deut. xxix. 18, 
whence it is taken. ni"i"i^ ? prop, firmness, but in Hebr. 
always sensu malo : obstinacy, obduracy of heart, see in 
Deut. I.e. ; here strengthened by the adjective inn belonging 
to 03? • — Ver. 18. In those days when Jerusalem is glorified 
by being made the throne of the Lord, Judah along with Israel 
will come out of the north into the land which the Lord gave 
to their fathers. As the destruction of Jerusalem and of the 
temple is foretold implicite in ver. 16, so here the expulsion of 
Judah into exile is assumed as having already taken place, and 
the return not of Israel only, but of Judah too is announced, 
as in Hos. ii. 2, and more fully in Ezek. xxvii. 16 ff. We should 
note the arrangement, the house of Judah with (?V, prop, on) the 
house of Israel ; this is as much as to say that Israel is the 
first to resolve on a return and to arise, and that Judah joins 
itself to the house of Israel. Judah is thus subordinated to the 
house of Israel, because the prophet is here seeking chiefly to 
announce the return of Israel to the Lord. It can surely not 
be necessary to say that, as regards the fulfilment, we are not 
entitled hence to infer that the remnant of the ten tribes will 
positively be converted to the Lord and redeemed out of exile 
sooner than the remnant of Judah. For more on this point see 
on xxxi. 8. 

Vers. 19-25. The return of Israel to its God.— Ver. 19. "I 
thought, O how I will put thee among the sons, and give thee 
a delightful land, a heritage of the chiefest splendour of the 
nations ! and thought, 'My Father,' ye will cry to me, and not 
turn yourselves away from me. Ver. 20. Truly as a wife faith- 

CHAP. III. C-1V. 2. 97 

lessly forsakes her mate, so are ye become faithless towards me, 
house of Israel, saith Jahveh. Ver. 21. A voice upon the bare- 
topped hills is heard, suppliant weeping of the sons of Israel ; 
for that they have made their way crooked, forsaken Jahveh 
their God. Ver. 22. ' Return, ye backsliding sons, I will heal 
your backslidings.' Behold, we come to thee ; for Thou Jahveh 
art our God. Ver. 23. Truly the sound from the hills, from 
the mountains, is become falsehood: truly in Jahveh our God 
is the salvation of Israel. Ver. 24. And shame hath devoured 
the gains of our fathers from our youth on ; their sheep and 
their oxen, their sons and their daughters. Ver. 25. Let us lie 
down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us ; for against 
Jahveh our God have we sinned, we and our fathers, from our 
youth even unto this day, and have not listened to the voice of 
our God." Hitz. takes vers. 18 and 19 together, without giving 
an opinion on ^yp^ '?:)&«. Ew. joins ver. 19 to the preceding, 
and begins a new strophe with ver. 21. Neither assumption 
can be justified. With ver. 18 closes the promise which formed 
the burden of the preceding strophe, and in ver. 19 there begins 
a new train of thought, the announcement as to how Israel comes 
to a consciousness of sin and returns penitent to the Lord its 
God (vers. 21-25). The transition to this announcement is 
formed by vers. 19 and 20, in which the contrast between God's 
fatherly designs and Israel's faithless bearing towards God is 
brought prominently forward ; and by WOK ^bsi it is attached 
to the last clause of the 18th verse. His having mentioned the 
land into which the Israelites would again return, carries the 
prophet's thoughts back again to the present and the past, to 
the bliss which Jahveh had designed for them, forfeited by their 
faithless apostasy, and to be regained only by repentant return 
(Graf). " I thought," refers to the time when God gave the 
land to their fathers for an inheritance. Then spake, i.e. thought, 
I ; cf. Ps. xxxi. 23. How I will set thee or place thee among 
the sons! i.e. how I will make thee glorious among the sons (JVB> 
c. accus. and 3, as in 2 Sam. xix. 29). No valid objection 
against this is founded by Hitz.'s plea that in that case we must 
read ^JWX, and that by Jeremiah, the teacher of morals, no 
heathen nation, or any but Israel, can ever be regarded as a 
son of God (xxxi. 9, 20). The fern. SRVSta is explained by the 

VOL. I. G 


personification of Judah and Israel as two sisters, extending 
throughout the whole prophecy. The other objection is erro- 
neous as to the fact. In xxxi. 9 Jahveh calls Ephraim, = Israel, 
his first-born son, as all Israel is called by God in Ex. iv. 22. 
But the conception of first-born has, as necessary correlate, that 
of other "sons." Inasmuch as Jahveh the God of Israel is 
creator of the world and of all men, all the peoples of the earth 
are His D"02 ; and from amongst all the peoples He has made 
choice of Israel as n ^P, or chosen him for His first-born son. 
Hitz.'s translation : how will I endow thee with children, is 
contrary to the usage of the language. — The place which God 
willed to give Israel amongst His children is specified by the 
next clause: and I willed to give thee a delightful land (iTnpn px 
as in Zech. vii. 14, Ps. cvi. 24). rrixny 'OX, ornament of orna- 
ments, i.e. the greatest, most splendid ornament. For there can 
be no doubt that riiN3X does not come from N3V but, with 

: • t t 7 / 

Kimchi after the Targum, is to be derived from ''3X; for the 
plural 2"2¥ from "Oy may pass into E^SX, cf. Gesen. § 93. fib, 
as Ew., too, in § 18 6, e, admits, though he takes our niSllf from 
N3¥ and strains the meaning into : an heirloom-adornment 
amidst the hosts of heathen. After such proofs of a father's 
love, God expected that Israel would by a true cleaving to Him 
show some return of filial affection. To cry, "My father," is a 
token of a child's love and adherence. The diet. W"}I?n and 
ISN&ft are not to be impugned; the Keris are unnecessary altera- 
tions. — Ver. 20. But Israel did not meet the expectation. Like 
a faithless wife from her husband, Israel fell away from its God. 
The particle of comparison WK3 j s omitted before the verb, as in 
Isa. Iv. 9, cf. 10 and 11. JH does not precisely mean husband, nor 
yet paramour, but friend and companion, and so here is equal 
to wedded husband. *U2 c. IP, withdraw faithlessly from one, 
faithlessly forsake, — c. 3, be faithless, deal faithlessly with one. 
Yet Israel will come to a knowledge of its iniquity, and bitterly 
repent it, ver. 21. From the heights where idolatry was prac- 
tised, the prophet already hears in spirit the lamentations and 
supplications of the Israelites entreating for forgiveness. ?V 
b^2B> points back to ver. 2, when the naked heights were men- 
tioned as the scenes of idolatry. From these places is heard the 
supplicating cry for pardon. W.\) -2, because (for that) they 

CHAP. III. 6-IV. 2. 99 

had made their way crooked, i.e. had entered on a crooked 
path, had forgotten their God. — Ver. 22. The prophet further 
overhears in spirit, as answer to the entreaty of the Israelites, 
the divine invitation and promise : Return, ye backsliding 
children (cf. ver. 14), I will heal your backslidings. ""IS"1X for 
xa~)N. Backsliding, i.e. mischief which backsliding has brought, 
the wounds inflicted by apostasy from God ; cf. Hos. xiv. 5, a 
passage which was in the prophet's mind ; and for the figure of 
healing, cf. Jer. xxx. 17, xxxiii. 6. To this promise they answer : 
Behold, we come to Thee (ttHK for BKTIK from NriK, Isa. xxi. 12, 
for i" 1 ^)? f° r Thou art Jahveh, art our God. Of this confession 
they further state the cause in vers. 23-25. — Ver. 23. From the 
false gods they have gained but disgrace ; the salvation of Israel 
is found only in Jahveh their God. The thought now given is 
clearly expressed in the second clause of the verse ; less clear is 
the meaning of the first clause, which tells what Israel had got 
from idolatry. The difficulty lies in Dnn jinn^ which the early 
commentators so joined together as to make }1©n stat. constr. 
(i^l!). LXX. : et9 ^euSo? rjaav oi fiovvdi ical rj Svva/j,i<; rcov 
bpewv. Jerome: mendaces erant colles et multitude) (s. fortitude)) 
monlium. Similarly Hitz. and Graf : from the hills the host 
(or tumult) of the mountains is (for) a delusion ; Hitz. under- 
standing by the host of the mountains the many gods, or the 
numerous statues of them that were erected at the spots where 
they were worshipped, while Graf takes the tumult of the 
mountains to mean the turmoil of the pilgrims, the exulting 
cries of the celebrants. But it is as impossible that "the 
sound of the hills " should mean the multitude of the gods, as 
that it should mean the tumult of the pilgrims upon the 
mountains. Besides, the expression, " the host or tumult of the 
mountains comes from the hills," would be singularly tautolo- 
gical. These reasons are enough to show that D^n cannot 
be a genitive dependent on pon, but must be taken as co- 
ordinate with nij/32», so that the preposition J» will have to be 
repeated before D^tfl, But jiDH must be the subject of the 
clause, else there would be no subject at all. }iDn means bustle, 
eager crowd, tumult, noise, and is also used of the surging mass 
of earthly possessions or riches, Ps. xxxvii. 16, Isa. lx. 5. 
Schnur., Ros., Maur., de W., have preferred the last meaning, 


and have put the sense thus : vana est ex collibus, vana ex monti- 
bus affluentia, or : delusive is the abundance that comes from 
the hills, from the mountains. This view is not to be over- 
thrown by Graf's objection, that we cannot here entertain the 
idea of abundance, however imaginary, acquired by the Israelites 
through idolatry, seeing that in the next verses it is declared 
that the false gods have devoured the wealth which the Israelites 
had inherited and received from God. For in the present con- 
nection the abundance would be not a real but expected or 
imagined abundance, the delusiveness of which would be shown 
in the next verse by the statement that the false gods had 
devoured the acquisitions of Israel. But to take }iEH in the 
sense of ajluentia seems questionable here, when the context 
makes no reference to wealth or earthly riches, and where the 
abundance of the hills and mountains cannot be understood to 
mean their produce ; the abundance is that which the idolatry 
practised upon the hills and mountains brought or was expected 
to bring to the people. Hence, along with Ew., we take this 
word in the sig. tumult or noise, and by it we understand the 
wild uproarious orgies of idolatry, which, acccording to vers. 2 
and 6, were practised on the hills and mountains (nrn3T >p ? ver. 9). 
Thus we obtain the sense already given by the Targ.: in vanum 
coluimus super collibus et non in utilitatem congregavimus nos 
(frOC^ririx, prop, tumultuati snmus) super montibus, i.e. delusive 
and profitless were our idolatrous observances upon the heights. 
In ver. 24 we are told in what particulars idolatry became 
to them ">i?£?. n^an, the shame, opprobrious expression for 
'$3n } equal to shame-god, cf. xi. 13 and Hos. ix. 10; since the 
worship of Baal, i.e. of the false gods, resulted in disgrace to the 
people. He devoured the wealth of our fathers, namely, their 
sheep and oxen, mentioned as a specimen of their wealth, and 
their sons and daughters. The idols devoured this wealth, not 
in respect that sheep and oxen, and, on Moloch's altar, children 
too, were sacrificed, for sheep and oxen were offered to Jahveh ; 
but because idolatry drew down judgments on the people and 
brought about the devastation of the land by enemies who 
devoured the substance of the people, and slew sons and 
daughters, Deut. xxviii. 30, 33. From our youth on ; — the 
youth of the people is the period of the judges. — Ver. 25. The 

CHAP. III. 6-1V. 2. 101 

people does not repudiate this shame and disgrace, but is willing 
to endure it patiently, since by its sin it has fully deserved it. 
n ?3'f J, not : we lie, but : we will lay us down in our shame, as 
a man in pain and grief throws himself on the ground, or on 
his couch (cf. 2 Sam. xii. 16, xiii. 31, 1 Kings xxi. 4), in order 
wholly to give way to the feelings that crush him down. And 
let our disgrace cover us, i.e. enwrap us as a mourning robe or 
cloak ; cf. Ps. xxxv. 26, cix. 29, Mic. vii. 10, Obad. ver. 10. 

Chap. iv. 1, 2. The ansiver of the Lord.— Ver. 1. "If thou 
returnest, Israel, saith Jahveh, returnest to me ; and if 
thou puttest away thine abominations from before my face, 
and strayest not, Ver. 2. And swearest, As Jahveh liveth, 
in truth, with right, and uprightness; then shall the na- 
tions bless themselves in Him, and in Him make their boast." 
Graf errs in taking these verses as a wish : if thou wouldst 
but repent . . . and swear . . . and if they blessed them- 
selves. His reason is, that the conversion and reconciliation 
with Jahveh has not yet taken place, and are yet only hoped 
for ; and he cites passages for DX with the force of a wish, as 
Gen. xiii. 3, xxviii. 13, where, however, tM or ^ is joined with 
it. But if we take all the verbs in the same construction, we 
get a very cumbrous result ; and the reason alleged proceeds 
upon a prosaic misconception of the dramatic nature of the 
prophet's mode of presentation from iii. 21 onwards. Just as 
there the prophet hears in spirit the penitent supplication of the 
people, so here he hears the Lord's answer to this supplication, 
by inward vision seeing the future as already present. The 
early commentators have followed the example of the LXX. 
and Vulg. in construing the two verses differently, and take fa 
MM1 and 1«n i6l as apodoses : if thou returnest, Israel, then 
return to me ; or, if thou, Israel, returnest to me, then shalt 
thou return, sc. into thy fatherland ; and if thou puttest away 
thine abominations from before mine eyes, then shalt thou no 
longer wander ; and if thou swearest . . . then will they bless 
themselves. But by reason of its position after nin> Dx: it is 
impossible to connect fa with the protasis. It would be more 
natural to take awPfl fa as apodosis, the fa being put first for 
the sake of emphasis. But if we take it as apodosis at all, the 
apodosis of the second half of the verse does not rightly corre- 


spond to that of the first half. 'nan *6 would need to be 
translated, "then shalt thou no longer wander without fixed 
habitation," and so would refer to the condition of the people 
as exiled. But for this Ta is not a suitable expression. 
Besides, it is difficult to justify the introduction of BN before 
PiJB^j since an apodosis has already preceded. For these 
reasons we are bound to prefer the view of Ew. and Hitz., that 
vers. 1 and 2a contain nothing but protases. The removal of 
the abominations from before God's face is the utter extirpation 
of idolatry, the negative moment of the return to the Lord ; 
and the swearing by the life of Jahveh is added as a positive 
expression of their acknowledgment of the true God. I^n is 
the wandering of the idolatrous people after this and the other 
false god, ii. 23 and iii. 13. "And strayest not" serves to 
strengthen " puttest away thine abominations." A sincere 
return to God demanded not only the destruction of images 
and the suppression of idol-worship, but also the giving up of 
all wandering after idols, i.e. seeking or longing after other gods. 
Similarly, swearing by Jahveh is strengthened by the additions: 
HDSa, in truth, not deceptively (^jfe v. 2), and with right and 
uprightness, i.e. in a just cause, and with honest intentions. — 
The promise, " they shall bless themselves," etc., has in it an 
allusion to the patriarchal promises in Gen. xii. 3, xviii. 18, 
xxii. 18, xxvi. 4, xxviii. 14, but it is not, as most commentators, 
following Jerome, suppose, a direct citation of these, and 
certainly not "a learned quotation from a book" (Ew.), in 
which case in would be referable, as in those promises, to Israel, 
the seed of Abraham, and would stand for If j This is put out 
of the question by the parallel £;>nrp )2\ which never occurs but 
with the sense of glorying in God the Lord; cf. Isa. xli. 16, Ps. 
xxxiv. 3, lxiv. 11, cv. 3, and Jer. ix. 22. Hence it follows that 
n must be referred, as Calv. refers it, to mrp, just as in Isa. 
lxv. 16 : the nations will bless themselves in or with Jahveh, 
i.e. will desire and appropriate the blessing of Jahveh and 
glory in the true God. Even under this acceptation, the only 
one that can be justified from an exegetical point of view, the 
words stand in manifest relation to the patriarchal blessing. 
If the heathen peoples bless themselves in the name of 
Jahveh, then are they become partakers of the salvation 

CHAP. IV. 3-21. 103 

that comes from Jahveh ; and if this blessing comes to them 
as a consequence of the true conversion of Israel to the Lord, 
as a fruit of this, then it has come to them through Israel as 
the channel, as the patriarchal blessings declare disertis verhis. 
Jeremiah does not lay stress upon this intermediate agency of 
Israel, but leaves it to be indirectly understood from the unmis- 
takeable allusion to the older promise. The reason for the ap- 
plication thus given by Jeremiah to the divine promise made 
to the patriarchs is found in the aim and scope of the present 
discourse. The appointment of Israel to be the channel of 
salvation for the nations is an outcome of the calling grace of 
God, and the fulfilment of this gracious plan on the part of 
God is an exercise of the same grace — a grace which Israel 
by its apostasy does not reject, but helps onwards towards its 
ordained issue. The return*of apostate Israel to its God is indeed 
necessary ere the destined end be attained ; it is not, however, 
the ground of the blessing of the nations, but onlv one means 
towards the consummation of the divine plan of redemption, a 
plan which embraces all mankind. Israel's apostasy delayed 
this consummation ; the conversion of Israel will have for its 
issue the blessing of the nations. 

Chap. iv. 3-31. Threatening of judgment upon Jeru- 
salem and Judah. — If Judah and Jerusalem do not reform, 
the wrath of God will be inevitably kindled against them (vers. 
3. 4). Already the prophet sees in spirit the judgment bursting 
in upon Judah from the north, to the dismay of all who were 
accounting themselves secure (vers. 5-10). Like a hot tem- 
pest-blast it rushes on, because of the wickedness of Jerusalem 
(vers. 11-18), bringing desolation and ruin on the besotted 
people, devastating the whole land, and not to be turned aside 
by any meretricious devices (vers. 19-31). 

Ver. 3. " For thus hath Jahveh spoken to the men of Judah 
and to Jerusalem : Break up for yourselves new ground, and sow 
not among thorns. Ver. 4. Circumcise yourselves to Jahveh, 
and take away the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and 
inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest my fury break forth like fire and 
burn unquenchably, because of the evil of your doings." The 
exhortation to a reformation of life is attached by *% as being 


the ground of it, to the preceding exhortation to return. The 
niK ; n DX, ver. 1, contained the indirect call to repent. In ver. 1 
this was addressed to Israel. In ver. 3 the call comes to Judah, 
which the prophet had already in his eye in chap. iii. ; cf. iii. 
7, 8, 10, 11. The transition from Israel to Judah in the 
phrase : for thus saith Jahveh, is explained by the introduction 
of a connecting thought, which can without difficulty be sup- 
plied from the last clause of ver. 2 ; the promise that the nations 
bless themselves in Jahveh will come to be fulfilled. The 
thought to be supplied is : this conversion is indispensable for 
Judah also, for Judah too must begin a new life. Without 
conversion there is no salvation. The evil of their doings 
brings nought but heavy judgments with it. t^N, as often, in 
collective sense, since the plural of this word was little in use, 
see in Josh. ix. 6. "M A TO, as in Hos. x. 12, plough up new 
land, to brine new untilled soil under cultivation — a figure for 
the reformation of life ; as much as to say, to prepare new 
ground for living on, to begin a new life. Sow not among 
thorns. The seed-corns are the good resolutions which, when 
they have sunk into the soil of the mind, should spring up 
into deeds (Hitz.). The thorns which choke the good seed 
as it grows (Mat. xiii. 7) are not mala vestra studia (Ros.), but 
the evil inclinations of the unrenewed heart, which thrive luxu- 
riantly like thorns. " Circumcise you to the Lord" is explained 
by the next clause : remove the foreskins of your heart. The 
stress lies in niiTO»; in this is implied that the circumcision 
should not be in the flesh merely. In the flesh all Jews were 
circumcised. If they then are called to circumcise themselves 
to the Lord, this must be meant spiritually, of the putting away 
t)f the spiritual impurity of the heart, i.e. of all that hinders the 
sanctifying of the heart; see in Deut. x. 16. The plur. niinv 
is explained by the figurative use of the word, and the reading 
rtay, presented by some codd., is a correction from Deut. x. 16. 
The foreskins are the evil lusts and longings of the heart. 
Lest my fury break forth like fire ; cf. vii. 20, Amos v. 6, Ps. 
Jxxxix. 47. 'o JH *?B? as in Deut. xxviii. 20. This judgment 
of wrath the prophet already in spirit sees breaking on Judah. 

Vers. 5-10. From the north destruction approaches. — Ver. 5. 
" Proclaim in Judah, and in Jerusalem let it be heard, and say, 

CHAP. IV. C-31. 105 

Blow the trumpet in the land ; cry with a loud voice, and say, 
Assemble, and let us go into the defenced cities. Ver. 6. Raise 
a standard toward Zion : save yourselves by flight, linger not ; 
for from the north I bring evil and great destruction. Ver. 7. 
A lion comes up from his thicket, and a destroyer of the 
nations is on his way, comes forth from his place, to make thy 
land a waste, that thy cities be destroyed, without an inhabitant. 
Ver. 8. For this gird you in sackcloth, lament and howl, for 
the heat of Jahveh's an^er hath not turned itself from us. 
Ver. 9. And it cometh to pass on that day, saith Jahveh, the 
heart of the king and the heart of the princes shall perish, and 
the priests shall be confounded and the prophets amazed." 
The invasion of a formidable foe is here represented with 
poetic animation ; the inhabitants being called upon to publish 
the enemy's approach throughout the land, so that every one 
may hide himself in the fortified cities. 1 The 1 before Wpfl 

1 By this dreaded foe the older commentators understand the Chaldeans ; 
but some of the moderns will have it that the Scythians are meant. Among 
the latter are Dahler, Hitz., E\v., Bertheau (z. Gesch. der Isr.), Movers, and 
others; and they have been preceded by Eichhorn (Htbr. Proph. ii. 96 f), 
Cramer (in the Comra. on Zephaniah, under the title Scythisclie Denkmiiler 
in Palastina, 1777). On the basis of their hypothesis, M. Duncker {Gesch. 
dcs Alterth. S. 751 ff.) has sketched out a rninute picture of the inundation 
of Palestine by hordes of Scythian horsemen in the year 626, according to 
the prophecies of Jeremiah and Zephaniah. For this there is absolutely 
no historical support, although Roesch in his archaeological investigations 
on Nabopolassar (Deutsch-morgld. Ztschr. xv. S. 502 ff.), who, according to 
him, was a Scythian king, alleges that "pretty nearly all (?) exegetical 
authorities " understand these prophecies of the Scythians (S. 536). For 
this view can be neither justified exegetically nor made good historically, as 
has been admitted and proved by A. Kueper (Jerem. libr. ss. int. p. 13 sq.), 
and Ad. Strauss (Vaticin. Zeph. p. xviii. sq.), and then by Tholuck (die Pro- 
pheten u. Hire Weiss, S. 9-4 ff.), Graf (Jer. S. 16 ff.), Nag., and others. On 
exegetical grounds the theory is untenable ; for in the descriptions of the 
northern foe, whose invasion of Judah Zephaniah and Jeremiah threaten, 
there is not the faintest hint that can be taken to point to the Scythian 
squadrons, and, on the contrary, there is much that cannot be suitable to 
these wandering hordes. The enemies approaching like clouds, their 
chariots like the whirlwind, with horses swifter than eagles (Jer. iv. 13), 
every city fleeing from the noise of the horsemen and of the bowmen 
(iv. 29), and the like, go to form a description obviously founded on Deut. 
xxviii. 49 ff., and on the account of the Chaldeans (o^fc'a) in Hab. i. 7-11. — 
a fact which leads Roesch to suppose Habakkuk meant Scythian by D^b'B- 


in the Cliet. has evidently got into the text through an error in 
transcription, and the JTm, according to which all the old 
versions translate, is the only correct reading. " Blow the 
trumpet in the land," is that which is to be proclaimed or 
published, and the blast into the far-sounding "iBiJ? is the signal 
of alarm by which the people was made aware of the danger 
that threatened it ; cf. Joel ii. 1, Hos. v. 8. The second 
clause expresses the same matter in an intensified form and 

All the Asiatic world-powers had horsemen, war-chariots, and archers, and 
we do not know that the Scythians fought on chariots. Nor was it at all 
according to the plan of Scythian hordes to besiege cities and carry the 
vanquished people into exile, as Jeremiah prophesies of these enemies. 
Again, in chap, xxv., where he expressly names Nebuchadnezzar the kin^ 
of Babel as the fulfiller of judgment foretold, Jeremiah mentions the enemy 
in the same words as in i. 15, }iB¥ fliriQC'Er^D (xxv. 9), and represents the 

t : : ■ t 

accomplishment of judgment by Nebuchadnezzar as the fulfilment of all 
the words he had been prophesying since the 13th year of Josiah. This 
makes it as clear as possible that Jeremiah regarded the Chaldeans as the 
families of the peoples of the north who were to lay Judah waste, conquer 
Jerusalem, and scatter its inhabitants amongst the heathen. In a historical 
reference, also, the Scythian theory is quite unfounded. The account in 
Herod, i. 103-105 of the incursion of the Scythians into Media and of domi- 
nion exercised over Asia for 28 years by them, does say that they came to 
Syrian Palestine and advanced on Egypt, but by means of presents were 
induced by King Psammetichus to withdraw, that they marched back again 
without committing any violence, and that only o'hiyoi nut's uvzuv plundered 
the temple of Venus Urania at Ascalon on the way back. But these accounts, 
taken at their strict historical value, tell us nothing more than that one 
swarm of the Scythian hordes, which overspread Media and Asia Minor, 
entered Palestine and penetrated to the borders of Egypt, passing by the 
ancient track of armies across the Jordan at Bethshan, and through the 
plain of Jezreel along the Philistine coast ; that here they were bought off 
by Psammetichus and retired without even so much as touching on the 
kingdom of Judah on their way. The historical books of the Old Testament 
have no knowledge whatever of any incursion into Judah of Scythians or 
other northern nations during the reign of Josiah. On the other hand, we 
give no weight to the argument that the march of the Scythians throuo-h 
Syria against Egypt had taken place in the 7th or 8th year of Josiah, a few 
years before Jeremiah's, public appearance, and so could be no subject 
for his prophecies (Thol., Graf, Nag.). For the chronological data of the 
ancients as to the Scythian invasion are not so definite that we can draw 
confident conclusions from them ; cf. M. v. Niebnhr, Gcs. Assurs u. Babels 
S. 67 ff. 

All historical evidence for a Scythian inroad into Judah beino- thus en- 

CHAP. IV. 3-31. 107 

with plainer words. Cry, make full (the crying), i.e. cry with 
a full clear voice ; gather, and let us go into the fortified cities ; 
cf. viii. 14. This was the meaning of the trumpet blast. Raise 
a banner pointing towards Zion, i.e. showing the fugitives the 
way to Zion as the safest stronghold in the kingdom. Di, a 
lofty pole with a waving flag (Isa. xxxiii. 23 ; Ezek. xxvii. 7), 
erected upon mountains, spread the alarm farther than even 
the sound of the pealing trumpet ; see in Isa. v. 26. WJ\}, 

tirehy wanting, the supporters of this hypothesis can make nothing of any 
point save the Greek name Scythopolis for Bethshan, which Dunck. calls " a 
memorial for Judah of the Scythian raid." We find the name in Judges 
i. 27 of the LXX., BxiSaxv % Ion Ikv&uu -o'hi;, and from this come the 
'S.KvSo-o'hts of Judith hi. 10, 2 Mace. xii. 29, and in Joseph. Antt. v. 1. 22, 
xii. 8. 5, etc. Even if we do not hold, as Reland, Pal. ill. p. 992, does, that 
the gloss, jjj soti ~Zx.vduv kgKi;, Judges i. 27, has been interpolated late into 
the LXX. ; even if we admit that it originated with the translator, the 
fact that the author of the LXX., who lived 300 years after Josiah, inter- 
preted 1-/.vQ(ii7'Sht$ by Ixvduv 7r6hi;, does by no means prove that the 
city had received this Greek name from a Scythian invasion of Palestine, 
or from a colony of those Scythians who had settled down there. The 
Greek derivation of the name shows that it could not have originated be- 
fore the extension of Greek supremacy in Palestine — not before Alexander 
the Great. But there is no historical proof that Scythians dwelt in Beth- 
shan. Duncker e.g. makes the inference simply from the name 1%.v8uv 
'Trc'Ai; and ^x.vdo7To^.iTcct, 2 Mace. xii. 29 f. His statement: " Josephus 
(Antt. xii. 5. 8) and Pliny ((Hist. n. v. 16) affirm that Scythians had 
settled down there," is wholly unfounded. In Joseph. I.e. there is no 
word of it ; nor will a critical historian accept as sufficient historical evi- 
dence of an ancient Scythian settlement in Bethshan, Pliny's I.e. apho- 
ristic notice : Scythopolin (antea Nyscnn a Libera Patre, sepulta nutrice ibi) 
Scythis deductis. The late Byzantine author, George Syncellus, is the first 
to derive the name Scythopolis from the incursion of the Scythians into 
Palestine ; cf. Reland, p. 993. The origin of the name is obscure, but is 
not likely to be found, as by Reland, Gesen., etc., in the neighbouring 
Succoth. More probably it comes from a Jewish interpretation of the pro- 
phecy of Ezekiel, chap, xxxix. 11, regarding the overthrow of Gog in the 
valley of the wanderers eastwards from the sea. This is Hiivernick's view, 
suggested by Bochart. 

Taking all into consideration, we see that the reference of our prophecy 
to the Scythians is founded neither on exegetical results nor on historical 
evidence, but wholly on the rationalistic prejudice that the prophecies of 
the biblical prophets arenothiug more than either disguised descriptions of 
historical events or threatenings of results that lay immediately before the 
prophet's eyes, which is the view of Hitz., Ew., and others. 


secure your possessions by flight ; cf. Isa. x. 31. The evil 
which Jahveh is bringing on the land is specified by ?H3 "lit?, 
after Zepli. i. 10, but very frequently used by Jeremiah ; cf. 
vi. 1, xlviii. 3, 1. 22, li. 54. 130, breaking (of a limb), Lev. 
xxi. 19, then the upbreaking of what exists, ruin, destruction. 
In ver. 7 the evil is yet more fully described. A lion is come 
up from his thicket (b3D with dag. forte dirim., from Tjab (jjlit?, 
2 Sam. xviii. 9], or from ?pp, Ps. lxxiv. 5 ; cf. Ew. § 255, d, and 
Olsh. § 155, 6), going forth for prey. This lion is a destroyer 
of the nations (not merely of individual persons as the ordi- 
nary lion) ; he has started (y?3, of striking tents for the march), 
and is come out to waste the land and to destroy the cities. 
The infin. is continued by the temp. Jin. (WW, and the Kal of 
ntfa is here used in a passive sense: to be destroyed by war. — 
Ver. 8. For this calamity the people was to mourn deeply. For 
the description of the mourning, cf. Joel i. 13, Mic. i. 8. For 
the wrath of the Lord has not turned from us, as in blind self- 
delusion ye imagine, ii. 35. The heat of Jahveh's anger is 
the burning wrath on account of the sins of Manasseh, with 
which the people has been threatened by the prophets. This 
wrath has not turned itself away, because even under Josiah 
the people has not sincerely returned to its God. — Ver. 9. 
When this wrath bursts over them, the rulers and leaders of 
the people will be perplexed and helpless. The heart, i.e. the 
mind, is lost. For this use of 3?, cf. Job xii. 3, xxxiv. 10, Prov. 
vii. 7, etc. ^'3, be paralyzed by terror, like the Kal in ii. 12. 
The prophets are mentioned last, because ver. 10 cites a word of 
prophecy whereby they seduced the people into a false security. 
Ver. 10. " Then said I, Ah, Lord Jahveh, truly Thou hast 
deceived this people and Jerusalem in saying, Peace shall be 
to you, and the sword is reaching unto the soul." This verse is 
to be taken as a sigh addressed to God by Jeremiah when he 
heard the announcement of the judgment about to fall on 
Judah, contained in vers. 5-9. The Chald. has well para- 
phrased if?^} thus: etdixi: suscipe deprecationem meam, JaJiveh, 
Deus. But Hensler and Ew. wish to have "l»Sfl changed to 
lOKl, " so that they say," quite unnecessarily, and indeed un- 
suitably, since £**#?, thou hast deceived, is out of place either 
in the mouth of the people or of the lying prophets. That the 

CHAP. IV. 3-?A. 100 

word quoted, "Peace shall be to you," is the saying of the false 
prophets, may be gathered from the context, and this is directly 
supported by xiv. 13, xxiii. 17. The deception of the people 
by such discourse from the false prophets is referred back to 
God : " Lord, Thou hast deceived," inasmuch as God not only 
permits these lying spirits to appear and work, but has ordained 
them and brought them forth for the hardening of the people's 
heart ; as He once caused the spirit of prophecy to inspire as a 
lying spirit the prophets of Ahab, so that by promises of victory 
they prevailed upon him to march to that war in which, as a 
punishment for his godlessness, he was to perish ; 1 Kings xxii. 
20-23. Umbr. takes the words less correctly as spoken in the 
name of the people, to whom the unexpected turn affairs had 
now taken seemed a deception on the part of God ; and this, 
although it was by itself it had been deceived, through its revolt 
from God. For it is not the people's opinion that Jeremiah 
expresses, but a truth concerning which his wish is that the 
people may learn to recognise it, and so come to reflect 
and repent before it be too late. On the use of the perf. 
consec. njHH, see Ew. § 342, b. As to the fact, cf. v. 18, Ps. 
lxix. 2. 

Vers. 11-18. Description of the impending ruin, from which 
nothing can save but speedy repentance. — Ver. 11. "At that 
time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A hot 
wind from the bleak hills in the wilderness cometh on the way 
toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow and not to 
cleanse. Ver. 12. A wind fuller than for this shall come to 
me ; now will I also utter judgments upon them. Ver. 13. 
Behold, like clouds it draws near, and like the storm are its 
chariots, swifter than eagles its horses. Woe unto us ! for we 
are spoiled. Ver. 14. Wash from wickedness thy heart, Jeru- 
salem, that thou may est be saved. How long shall thine 
iniquitous thoughts lodge within thee? Ver. 15. For a voice 
declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from the Mount 
Ephraim. Ver. 16. Tell it to the peoples ; behold, publish it 
to Jerusalem : Besiegers come from a far country, and let their 
voice ring out against the cities of Judah. Ver. 17. As keepers 
of a field, they are against her round about ; for against me hath 
she rebelled, saith Jahveh. Ver. 18. Thy way and thy doings 


have wrought thee this. This is thy wickedness ; yea, it is 
bitter, yea, it reacheth unto thine heart." 

A more minute account of the impending judgment is intro- 
duced by the phrase : at that time. It shall be said to this 
people ; in other words, it shall be said of this people ; substan- 
tially, that shall fall upon it which is expressed by the figure 
following, a hot wind blowing from the naked hills of the 
wilderness. n31 is stat. constr., and W5i& its genitive, after which 
latter the adjective ny should be placed ; but it is interpolated 
between the nomen regens and the n. rectum by reason of its 
smallness, and partly, too, that it may not be too far separated 
from its nomen, while "Alan belongs to D S QK\ The wind blowing 
from the bleak hills in the wilderness, is the very severe east 
wind of Palestine. It blows in incessant gusts, and cannot be 
used for winnowing or cleansing the grain, since it would blow 
away chaff and seed together; cf. Wetzst. in Del., Job, S. 320. 
:pH is universally taken adverbially : is on the way, i.e. comes, 
moves in the direction of the daughter of Zion. The daughter 
of Zion is a personification of the inhabitants of Zion or Jeru- 
salem. This hot blast is a figure for the destruction which is 
drawing near Jerusalem. It is not a chastisement to purify 
the people, but a judgment which will sweep away the whole 
people, carry away both wheat and chaff — a most effective 
figure for the approaching catastrophe of the destruction of 
Jerusalem, and the carrying away captive of its inhabitants. 
Hitz. and Graf have, however, taken ^"n as subject of the 
clause : the path, i.e. the behaviour of my people, is a keen 
wind of the bare hills in the wilderness. Thus the conduct of 
the people would be compared with that wind as unprofitable, 
inasmuch as it was altogether windy, empty, and further as 
being a hurtful storm. But the comparison of the people's 
behaviour with a parched violent wind is a wholly unnatural 
one, for the justification of which it is not sufficient to point 
to Hos. viii. 7 : sow wind and reap storm. Besides, upon this 
construction of the illustration, the description : not to winnow 
and not to cleanse, is not only unmeaning, but wholly unsuit- 
able. Who is to be winnowed and cleansed by the windy ways 
of the people ? Jahveh "? ! Ver. 14 is indeed so managed by 
Hitz. and Graf that the tempestuous wind blows against God, 

CHAP. IV. 3-31. 1 1 1 

" is directed against Jaliveh like a blast of defiance and hos- 
tility." But this argument is sufficient to overthrow that un- 
natural view of the figure, which, besides, obtains no support 
from ver. 12. n ?KE cannot refer to W?I2 : a full wind from 
these, i.e. the sons of my people ; and v NiT, in spite of the 
passages, xxii. 23, 1. 26, li. 48, Job iii. 25, does not mean : comes 
towards me, or : blows from them on me ; for in all these pas- 
sages v is dativ. commodi or incommodi. Here, too, y is dative, 
used of the orimnator and efficient cause. The wind comes for 
me, — in plainer English : from me. Properly : it comes to God, 
i.e. at His signal, to carry out His will. iwl? N?£> is comparative : 
fuller than these, namely, the winds useful for winnowing and 
cleansing. Now will I too utter. The intensifying 03 does not 
point to a contrast in the immediately preceding clause : because 
the people blows against God like a strong wind, He too will 
utter judgment against it. The 03 refers back to the preceding 
v : the storm comes from me ; for now will I on my side hold 
judgment with them. The contrast implied in 23 lies in the 
wider context, in the formerly described behaviour of the 
people, particularly in the sayings of the false prophets men- 
tioned in ver. 10, that there will be peace. On D^tpsiB'p "la^ cf. 
i. 16. 

These judgments are already on the way in ver. 13. " Like 
clouds it draws near." The subject is not mentioned, but a 
hostile army is meant, about to execute God's judgments. 
" Like clouds," i.e. in such thick dark masses ; cf. Ezek. xxxviii. 
16. The war-chariots drive with the speed of the tempest; cf. 
Isa. v. 28, Ixvi. 15. The running of the horses resembles the 
flight of the eagle ; cf. Hab. i. 8, where the same is said of 
the horsemen of the hostile people. Both passages are founded 
on Deut. xxviii. 49 ; but Jeremiah, while he had the ex- 
pression VD1D D*"ttMO &£, Hab. i. 8, in his mind, chose tf*TO>3 
instead of leopards (D'n»3) J in this following the original in 
Deut. ; cf. 2 Sam. i. 23 and Lam. iv. 19. Already is heard 
the cry of woe: we are spoiled ; cf. ver. 20, ix. 18, xlviii. 1. — 
Ver. 14. If Jerusalem wishes to be saved, it must thoroughly 
turn from its sin, wash its heart clean ; not merely abstain out- 
wardly from wickedness, but renounce the evil desires of the 
heart. In the question : How long shall . . . remain? we have 


implied the thought that Jerusalem has already only too long 
cherished and indulged wicked thoughts, P?n is 3d pers. 
imperf. Kal, not 2d pers. Hiph. : wilt thou let remain (Schnur. 
and others). For the Hiphil of fb is not in use, and besides, 
would need to be ^R The }1K rfaf n», as in Prov. vi. 18, Isa. 
lix. 7, refer chiefly to sins against one's neighbour, such as are 
reckoned up in vii. 5 f., 8 f. — Ver. 15. It is high time to cleanse 
oneself from sin, periciilum in mora est; for already calamity 
is announced from Dan, even from the Mount Ephraim. bip 
T30, the voice of him who gives the alarm, sc. V^i, is heard ; 
cf. iii. 21, xxxi. 15. That of which the herald gives warning 
is not given till the next clause. |)K, mischief, i.e. calamity. 
JfBty'D is still dependent on Tip. "From Dan," i.e. the northern 
boundary of Palestine ; see on Judg. xx. 1. " From Mount 
Ephraim," i.e. the northern boundary of the kingdom of Judah, 
not far distant from Jerusalem. The alarm and the calamity 
draw ever nearer. " The messenger comes from each succes- 
sive place towards which the foe approaches" (Hitz.). In ver. 
16 the substance of the warning message is given, but in so 
animated a manner, that a charge is given to make the matter 
known to the peoples and in Jerusalem. Tell to the peoples, 
behold, cause to be heard. The nan in the first clause points 
forward, calling attention to the message in the second clause. 
A similar charge is given in ver. 5, only '• to the peoples" seems 
strange here. " The meaning w r ould be simple if we could take 
1 the peoples' to be the Israelites," says Graf. But since D^a 
in this connection can mean only the other nations, the question 
obtrudes itself : to what end the approach of the besiegers of 
Jerusalem should be proclaimed to the heathen peoples. Jerome 
remarks on this : Villi omnes in circuitu nationes Dei nosse sen- 
tentiam, etfiagellatd Jerusalem cunctos recipere disciplinam. In 
like manner, Chr. B. Mich., following Schmid : Gentibus, ut his 
quo que innotescat severitatis divinw in Judceos exemplum. Hitz. 
and Gr. object, that in what follows there is no word of the 
taking and destruction of Jerusalem, but only of the siege ; 
that this could form no such exemplum, and that for this the 
issue must be awaited. But this objection counts for little. 
After the description given of the enemies (cf. ver. 13), there 
can be no doubt as to the issue of the siege, that is, as to the 

CIIAP. IV. 3-31. 113 

taking of Jerusalem. But if this be so, then the warning of 
the heathen as to the coming catastrophe, by holding the case 
of Jerusalem before them, is not so far-fetched a thought as 
that it should be set aside by Hitz.'s remark : " So friendly an 
anxiety on behalf of the heathen is utterly unnatural to a Jew, 
especially seeing that the prophet is doubly absorbed by anxiety 
for his own people." Jeremiah was not the narrow-minded 
Jew Hitz. takes him for. Besides, there is no absolute neces- 
sity for holding " Tell to the peoples " to be a warning of a 
similar fate addressed to the heathen. The charge is but a 
rhetorical form, conveying the idea that there is no doubt about 
the matter to be published, and that it concerned not Jerusalem 
alone, but the nations too. This objection settled, there is no 
call to seek other interpretations, especially as all such are less 
easily justified. By changing the imper. Warn and Wpt^'n into 
perfects, E\v. obtains the translation : " they say already to the 
peoples, behold, they come, already they proclaim in Jeru- 
salem," etc. ; but Hitz. and Graf have shown the change to 
be indefensible. Yet more unsatisfactory is the translation, 
"declare of the heathen," which Hitz. and Graf have adopted, 
following the LXX., Kimchi, Vat., and others. This destroys 
the parallelism, it is out of keeping with the n3n ? and demands 
the addition (with the LXX.) of *K3 thereto to complete the 
sense. Graf and Hitz. have not been able to agree upon the 
sense of the second member of the verse. If we make Bw de 
(jentibus, then W W»K>n ought to be : proclaim upon {i.e. con- 
cerning) Jerusalem. Hitz., however, translates, in accordance 
with the use of V^y® in vers. 5 and 15 : Cry it aloud in Jeru- 
salem (prop, over Jerusalem, Ps. xlix. 12, Hos. viii. 1) ; but 
this, though clearly correct, does not correspond to the first 
part of the verse, according to Hitz.'s translation of it. Graf, 
on the other hand, gives : Call them (the peoples) out against 
Jerusalem — a translation which, besides completely destroying 
the parallelism of the two clauses, violently separates from the 
proclamation the thing proclaimed : Besiegers come, etc. Nor 
can yPOSPn be taken in the sense : call together, as in 1. 29, li. 
27, 1 Kings xv. 22 ; for in that case the object could not be 
omitted, those who are to be called too;ether would need to be 
mentioned ; and it is too much to assume D^2 from the D^3? for 
VOL. I. H 


an object. The warning cry to Jerusalem runs : B^yi, besiegers, 
(ace. to Isa. i. 8) come from the far country (cf. v. 15), and 
give their voice (cf. ii. 15) ; i.e. let the tumult of a besieging 
army echo throughout the cities of Judah. These besiegers 
will be like field-keepers round about Jerusalem (^rV refers 
back to Jerus.), like field-keepers they will pitch their tents 
round the city (cf. i. 15) to blockade it. For against me 
(Jahveh) was she refractory (rn» c. ace. pers., elsewhere with 
3, Hos. xiv. 1, Ps. v. 11, or with ^Tin*,, Num. xx. 24, and often). 
This is expanded in ver. 18. Thy way, i.e. thy behaviour and 
thy doings, have wrought thee this (calamity). This is thy 
wickedness, i.e. the effect or fruit of thy wickedness, yea, it is 
bitter, cf. ii. 19 ; yea, it reacheth unto thine heart, i.e. inflicts 
deadly wounds on thee. 

Vers. 19-26. Grief at the desolation of the land and the 
infatuation of the people. — Ver. 19. " My bowels, my bowels ! 
I am pained ! the chambers of my heart — my heart rages 
within me ! I cannot hold my peace ! for thou nearest (the) 
sound of the trumpet, my soul, (the) war-cry. Ver. 20. De- 
struction upon destruction is called ; for spoiled is the whole 
land ; suddenly are my tents spoiled, my curtains in a moment. 
Ver. 21. How long shall I see (the) standard, hear (the) sound 
of the trumpet? Ver. 22. For my people is foolish, me they 
know not ; senseless children are they, and without under- 
standing ; wise are they to do evil, but to do good they know 
not. Ver. 23. I look on the earth, and, lo, it is waste and 
void ; and towards the heavens, and there is no light in them. 
Ver. 24. I look on the mountains, and, lo, they tremble, and 
all the hills totter. Ver. 25. I look, and, lo, no man is there, 
and all the fowls of the heavens are fled. Ver. 26. I look, and, 
lo, Carmel is the wilderness, and all the cities thereof are de- 
stroyed before Jahveh, before the heat of His anger." 

To express the misery which the approaching siege of Jeru- 
salem and the cities of Judah is about to bring, the prophet 
breaks forth into lamentation, vers. 19-21. It is a much de- 
bated question, whether the prophet is the speaker, as the 
Chald. has taken it, i.e. whether Jeremiah is uttering; his own 
(subjective) feelings, or whether the people is brought before 
us speaking, as Grot., Schnur., Hitz., Ew. believe. The 

CHAP. IV. 3-31. 115 

answer is this : the prophet certainly is expressing his personal 
feelings regarding the nearing catastrophe, but in doing so he 
lends words to the grief which all the godly will feel. The 
lament of ver. 20, suddenly are my tents spoiled, is unques- 
tionably the lament not of the prophet as an individual, but of 
the congregation, i.e. of the godly among the people, not of the 
mass of the blinded people. The violence of the grief finds 
vent in abrupt ejaculations of distress. " My bowels, my 
bowels ! " is the cry of sore pain, for with the Hebrews the 
bowels are the seat of the deepest feelings. The Chet. HTiniX 
is a monstrosity, certainly a copyist's error for ! " , f ir, K J as it is in 
many MSS. and edd., from Tin : I am driven to writhe in agony. 
The Keri «w*rfat, I will wait (cf. Mic. vii. 7), yields no good 
sense, and is probably suggested merely by the cohortative form, 
a cohortative being regarded as out of place in the case of Tin. 
But that form may express also the effort to incite one's own 
volition, and so would here be rendered in English by : I am 
bound to suffer pain, or must suffer ; cf. Ew. § 228, a. — ^p JtfVj?, 
prop, the walls of my heart, which quiver as the heart throbs in 
anguish, ^""loin is not to be -joined with the last two words as 
if it were part of the same clause ; in that case we should ex- 
pect n»in. But these words too are an ejaculation. The sub- 
ject of ncin is the following *3?; cf. xlviii. 36. In defiance of 
usage, Hitz. connects *3? with SP'HnN i& : my heart can I not put 
to silence. But this verb in Hiph. means always : be silent, 
never : put to silence. Not even in Job xi. 3 can it have the 
latter meaning ; where we have the same verb construed with 
ace. rei, as in Job xli. 4, and where we must translate : at thy 
harangues shall the people be silent. The heart cannot be 
silent, because the soul hears the peal of the war-trumpet. 
Viyoc? is 2d pers. fern., as in ii. 20, 33, and freq., the soul being 
addressed, as in Ps. xvi. 2 (in *n»t*), Pis. xlii. 6, 12. This 
apostrophe is in keeping with the agitated tone of the whole 
verse. — Ver. 20. One destruction after another is heralded 
(on "DSP, see ver. 6). Ew. translates loosely : wound upon 
wound meet one another. For the word does not mean wound, 
but the fracture of a limb ; and it seems inadmissible to follow 
the Chald. and Syr. in taking N"^ here in the sense of (T1p3 
since the sig. " meet" does not suit "Of. The thought is this : 


tidings are brought of one catastrophe after another, for the 
devastation extends itself over the whole land and comes sud- 
denly upon the tents, i.e. dwellings of those who are lament- 
ing. Covers, curtains of the tent, is used as synonymous with 
tents ; cf. x. 20, Isa. liv. 2. How long shall I see the standard, 
etc. ! is the cry of despair, seeing no prospect of the end to the 
horrors of the war. The standard and the sound of the trum- 
pet are, as in ver. 5, the alarm-signals on the approach of the 

There is no prospect of an end to the horrcVs, for (ver. 22) 
the people is so foolish that it understands only how to do the 
evil, but not the good ; cf. for this v. 21, Isa. i. 3, Mic. vii. 3. 
Ver. 21 gives God's answer to the woful query, how long the 
ravaging of the land by war is to last. The answer is : as long 
as the people persists in the folly of its rebellion against God, 
so long will chastising judgments continue. To bring this 
answer of God home to the people's heart, the prophet, in vers. 
23-26, tells what he has seen in the spirit. He has seen (WNn, 
per/, proph.) bursting over Judah a visitation which convulses 
the whole world. The earth seemed waste and void as at the 
beginning of creation, Gen. i. 2, before the separation of the 
elements and before the creation of organic and living beings. 
In heaven no light was to be seen, earth and heaven seemed to 
have been thrown back into a condition of chaos. The moun- 
tains and hills, these firm foundations of the earth, quivered 
and swayed Q^^, be put into a light motion, cf. Nah. i. 5) ; 
men had fled and hidden themselves from the wrath of God 
(cf. Isa. ii. 19, 21), and all the birds had flown out of sight in 
terror at the dreadful tokens of the beginning catastrophe (ix. 
9). The fruitful field was the wilderness, — not a wilderness, 
but " changed into the wilderness with all its attributes" (Hitz.). 
^0"i3ri is not appell. as in ii. 7, but nom. prop, of the lower slopes 
of Carmel, famed for their fruitfulness ; these being taken as 
representatives of all the fruitful districts of the land. The 
cities of the Carmel, or of the fruitful-field, are manifestly not 
to be identified with the store cities of 1 Kings ix. 19, as Hitz. 
supposes, but the cities in the most fertile districts of the 
country, which, by reason of their situation, were in a prosperous 
condition, but now are destroyed. "Before the heat of His 

CHAP. IV. 3-31. 117 

anger," which is kindled against the foolish and godless race ; 
cf. Nah. i. 6, Isa. xiii. 13. 

Vers. 27-31. The devastation of Judah, though not its utter 
annihilation, is irrevocably decreed, and cannot be turned away by 
any meretricious expedients. — Ver. 27. " For thus saith Jahveh, 
A waste shall the whole land be, yet will I not make an utter 
end. Ver. 28. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heaven 
above darken, because I have said it, purposed it, and repent it 
not, neither will I turn back from it. Ver. 29. For the noise 
of the horseman and bowman every city flees ; they come into 
thickets, and into clefts of the rock they go up ; every city is 
forsaken, and no man dwells therein. Ver. 30. And thou, 
spoiled one, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself 
in purple, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, 
though thou tearest open thine eyes with paint, in vain thou 
makest thyself fair ; the lovers despise thee, they seek thy life. 
Ver. 31. For I hear a voice as of a woman in travail, anguish 
as of one who bringeth forth her first-born, the voice of the 
daughter of Zion ; she sigheth, she spreadeth out her hands : 
Woe is me ! for my soul sinketh powerless beneath murderers." 

Vers. 27 and 28 confirm and explain what the prophet has 
seen in spirit in vers. 23-26.' A waste shall the land become ; 
but the wasting shall not be a thorough annihilation, not such 
a destruction as befell Sodom and Gomorrah. fv3 fltPJJ, as in 

T T T T 7 

Nah. i. 8 f., Isa. x. 23, and freq. This limitation is yet again 
in v. 10, 18 made to apply to Jerusalem, as it has done 
already to the people at large. It is founded on the promise 
in Lev. xxvi. 44, that the Lord will punish Israel with the 
greatest severity for its stubborn apostasy from Him, but will 
not utterly destroy it, so as to break His covenant with it. 
Accordingly, all prophets declare that after the judgments of 
punishment, a remnant shall be left, from which a new holy 
race shall spring ; cf. Amos ix. 8, Isa. vi. 13, xi. 11, 16, .\. 20 ff., 
Mic. ii. 12, v. 6, Zeph. iii. 13, etc. " For this " refers to the 
first half of ver. 27, and is again resumed in the '3 ;V following : 
for this, because Jahveh hath purposed the desolation of the 
whole land. The earth mourns, as in Hos. iv. 3, because her 
productive power is impaired by the ravaging of the land. 
The heaven blackens itself, i.e. shrouds itself in dark clouds 


(1 Kings xviii. 45), so as to mourn over the desolated earth. 
The vividness of the style permits " have decreed it" to be 
appended as asyndeton to " I have said it," for the sake of 
greater emphasis. God has not only pronounced the desolation 
of the land, but God's utterance in this is based upon a decree 
which God does not repent, and from which He will not turn 
back. The LXX. have placed the '•rfftT after ''HOW, and have 
thus obtained a neater arrangement of the clauses ; but by this 
the force of expression in " I have said it, decreed it," is 
weakened. In ver. 29 the desolation of the land is further 
portrayed, set forth in ver. 30 as inevitable, and exhibited in 
its sad consequences in ver. 31. On the approach of the hostile 
army, all the inhabitants flee into inaccessible places from the 
clatter or noise of the horsemen and archers. He that casts 
the bow, the bowman ; cf. Ps. lxxviii. 9. Tj?n~73 means, in 

/ J • t t / 

spite of the article, not the whole city, but every city, all cities, 
as may be gathered from the f?3, which points back to this. So 
frequently before the definite noun, especially when it is further 
defined by a relative clause, as e.g. Ex. i. 22, Deut. iv. 3, 1 
Sam. iii. 17 ; cf. Ew. § 290, c. For the first "Vyrrb the LXX. 
have iraca rj %&>pa, and accordingly J. D. Mich., Hitz., and 
Graf propose to amend to pxn"P3, so as to avoid " the clumsy 
repetition." But we cannot be ruled here by esthetic principles 
of taste. Clearly the first " every city " means the populace of 
the cities, and so W3 is: they (i.e. the men) come, pouring forth. 
D^y is not here clouds, but, according to its etymology, to 

be dark, means the dark thickets or woods ; cf. the Syr. ^v , 

wood. D" 1 ??, rocks, here clefts in the rocks, as is demanded by 
the 3. For this state of things, cf. Isa. ii. 19, 21, and the 
accounts of Judg. vi. 2, 1 Sam. xiii. 6, where the Israelites 
hide themselves from the invading Midianites in caves, ravines, 
thorn-thickets, rocks, and natural fastnesses. — Ver. 30. In vain 
will Jerusalem attempt to turn away calamity by the wiles of a 
courtesan. In ver. 31 the daughter of Zion is addressed, i.e. 
the community dwelling around the citadel of Zion, or the in- 
habitants of Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom, regarded as 
a female personality (as to P'yna, see on Isa. i. 8). "Spoiled one" 
is in apposition not to the ^, but to the person in the verb ; 

CHAP. IV. 3-31. 119 

it is regarded as adverbial, and so is without inflexion : if thou 
art spoiled, like tiW, Job xxiv. 7, 10 ; cf. Ew. § 316, b. The 
following clauses introduced by '3 are not so connected with the 
question, what wilt thou do? as that *3 should mean that : what 
wilt thou do, devise to the end that thou mayest clothe thee ? 
(Graf) ; the ^ means if or though, and introduces new clauses, 
the apodosis of which is : " in vain," etc. If thou even clothest 
thyself in purple. W, the crimson dye, and stuffs or fabrics 
dyed with it, see in Ex. xxv. 4. Spa is a pigment for the eye, 
prepared from silver-glance, sulphur-antimony — the Cohol, yet 
much esteemed by Arab women, a black powder with a metallic 
glitter. It is applied to the eyelids, either dry or reduced to a 
paste by means of oil, by means of a blunt-pointed style or eye- 
pencil, and increases the lustre of dark eyes so that they seem 
larger and more brilliant. See the more minute account in 
Hille, on the eye-paint of the East, in ref. to 2 Kings ix. 30. 
jn$, tear asunder, not, prick, puncture, as Ew., following J. 
D. Mich., makes it. This does not answer the mode of usinc 
the eye-paint, which was this : the style rubbed over with the 
black powder is drawn horizontally through between the closed 
eyelids, and these are thus smeared with the ointment. This 
proceeding Jeremiah sarcastically terms rending open the eyes. 
As a wife seeks by means of paint and finery to heighten the 
charms of her beauty in order to please men and gain the favour 
of lovers, so the woman Jerusalem will attempt by like strata- 
gems to secure the favour of the enemy; but in vain, like Jezebel 
in 2 Kings ix. 30. The lovers will despise her. The enemies 
are called lovers, paramours, just as Israel's quest for help 
amongst the heathen nations is represented as intrigue with 
them; see on ii. 33, 36.— Ver. 31, as giving a reason, is intro- 
duced by ^3. Zion's attempts to secure the goodwill of the 
enemy are in vain, for already the prophet hears in spirit the 
agonized cry of the daughter of Zion, who beseechingly stretches 
out her hands for help, and falls exhausted under the assassin's 
strokes, nbSn, partic. Kal fcem. from Sw; see Ew. § 151, b 7 and 
Gesen. § 72, Rem. 1. fTO, in parallelism with ^ip and depen- 
dent on " I hear," means cry of anguish. nBViri, breathe heavily, 
pant, sigh, bnsn is joined asynd. with the preceding word, but 
is in sense subordinate to it : she sighs with hands spread out ; 


a pleading gesture expressing a prayer for protection. *£Jf, be 
exhausted, here = sink down, faint, succumb to the murderers. 

Chap. v. The causes which called down the judg- 
people. — Chr. B. Mich, has excellently summed up thus the 
contents of this chapter : Deus judicia sua, quae cap. IV. prce- 
dixerat, justijicat ostendens, se quamvis invitum, tamen non 
aliter posse quam punire Judceos propter prcefractam ipsorum 
malitiam. The train of thought in this chapter is the follow- 
ing : God would pardon if there were to be found in Jerusalem 
but one who practised righteousness and strove to keep good 
faith ; but high and low have forsaken God and His law, and 
serve the false gods. This the Lord must punish (vers. 1-9). 
Judah, like Israel, disowns the Lord, and despises the words of 
His prophets; therefore the Lord must affirm His word by 
deeds of judgment (vers. 10-18). Because they serve the 
gods of strangers, He will throw them into bondage to strange 
peoples, that they may learn to fear Him as the Almighty God 
and Lord of the world, who withholds His benefits from them 
because their sins keep them far from Him (vers. 19-25) ; for 
wickedness and crime have acquired a frightful predominance 
(vers. 26-31). 

Vers. 1—9. By reason of the universal godlessness and moral 
corruption the Lord cannot pardon. — Ver. 1. " Range through 
the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek 
upon her thoroughfares, if ye find any, if any doth judgment, 
seeketh after faithfulness, and I will pardon her. Ver. 2. And 
if they say, * As Jahveli liveth,' then in this they swear falsely. 
Ver. 3. Jahveh, are not Thine eyes upon faithfulness? Thou 
smitest them, and they are not pained ; thou consumest them, 
they will take no correction ; they make their face harder than 
rock, they will not turn. Ver. 4. And I thought, It is but the 
baser sort, they are foolish; for they know not the way of 
Jahveh, the judgment of their God. Ver. 5. I will get me 
then to the great, and will speak with them, for they know 
the way of Jahveh, the judgment of their God ; yet together 
have they broken the yoke, burst the bonds. Ver. 6. Therefore 
a lion out of the wood smiteth them, a wolf of the deserts 

CHAP. V. 1-9. 121 

spoileth them, a leopard lieth in wait against their cities : every 
one that goeth out thence is torn in pieces; because many are their 
transgressions, many their backslidings. Ver. 7. Wherefore 
should I pardon thee? thy sons have forsaken me, and sworn 
by them that are no gods. I caused them to swear, but they 
committed adultery, and crowd into the house of the harlot. 
Ver. 8. Like well-fed horses, they are roaming about ; each 
neigheth after the other's wife. Ver. 9. Shall I not punish 
this ? saith Jahveh ; or shall not my soul be avenged on such 
a people as this I " 

The thought of ver. 1, that in Jerusalem there is not 
to be found one solitary soul who concerns himself about 
uprightness and sincerity, does not, though rhetorically ex- 
pressed, contain any rhetorical hyperbole or exaggeration 
such as may have arisen from the prophet's righteous in- 
dignation, or have been inferred from the severity of the 
expected judgment (Hitz.) ; it gives but the simple truth, as is 
seen when we consider that it is not Jeremiah who speaks ac- 
cording to the best of his judgment, but God, the searcher of 
hearts. Before the all-seeing eye of God no man is pure and 
good. They are all gone astray, and there is none that doeth 
good, Ps. xiv. 2, 3. And if anywhere the fear of God is the 
ruling principle, yet when the look falls on the mighty hosts of 
the wicked, even the human eye loses sight of the small com- 
pany of the godly, since they are in no case to exert an influence 
on the moral standing of the whole mass. " If ye find any " 
is defined by, " if there is a worker of right ; " and the doing of 
right or judgment is made more complete by "that seeketh 
faithfulness," the doing being given as the outcome of the dis- 
position. rUttDSj is not truth (n»N), but sincerity and good faith. 
On this state of affairs, cf. Hos. iv. 1, Mic. vii. 2, Isa. Ixiv. 5f. 
The pledge that God would pardon Jerusalem if He found but 
one righteous man in it, recalls Abraham's dealing with God on 
behalf of Sodom, Gen. xviii. 23. In support of what has been 
said, it is added in ver. 2, that they even abuse God's name for 
lying purposes ; cf. Lev. xix. 12. Making oath by the life of 
Jahveh is not looked on here as a confession of faith in the 
Lord, giving thus as the sense, that even their worship of God 
was but the work of the lips, not of the heart (Ros.); but the 


solemn appeal to the living God for the purpose of setting the 
impress of truth on the face of a lie, is brought forward as 
evidence that there is none that strives after sincerity. The 
antithesis forced in here by Hitz. and Graf is foreign to text 
and context both, viz. that between swearing by Jahveh and by 
the false gods, or any other indifferent name. The emphasis 
lies on swearing ">£# ?, as opposed to swearing in the way de- 
manded by God, npnpi Bfilita) noN|, i v . 2* $, therein, i.e. 
yet even in this, or nevertheless. — Ver. 3. The eye of the Lord 
is directed towards faithfulness, which is not to be found in 
Jerusalem (ver. 1), p showing the direction toward person or 
thing, as in Ps. xxxiii. 18, where ? alternates with ?X. Hitz. is 
wrong in translating : are not thine eyes faithful, i.e. directed 
according to faithfulness ; a sense quite unsuitable here, since 
the matter in hand is not the character or direction of the eye 
of God, but that on which God looks. But because God de- 
sired sincerity, and there was none in the people of Jerusalem, 
He has smitten them, chastised them, but they felt no pain (w 
from n?n, the tone being drawn back by reason of the _l_) ; the 
chastisement made no impression. Thou consumedst them, 
exterminatedst them, i.e. " Thou hast utterly exterminated 
multitudes and swarms of them " (Hitz.), but they refused to 
receive correction ; cf. ii. 30. They made their face harder 
than rock, i.e. hardened themselves by obstinately setting the 
divine chastisements at naught ; cf. Ezek. iii. 7, 8. — Ver. 4 f. 
This total want of good faith and uprightness is found not only 
in the lower orders of the populace, amongst the mean and 
ignorant rabble, but in the higher ranks of the educated. This 
is rhetorically put in this shape, that Jeremiah, believing that 
only the common people are so deeply sunk in immorality, 
turns to the great to speak to them, and amongst them dis- 
covers a thorough-going renunciation of the law of God. Eyn, 
weak, are the mean and poor of the people, who live from hand 
to mouth in rudeness and ignorance, their anxieties bent on 
food and clothing (cf. xxxix. 10, xl. 7). These do foolishly 
(}7Si3 as in Num. xii. 11), from want of religious training. 
They know not the way of Jahveh, i.e. the way, the manner of 
life, prescribed to men by God in His word ; cf. 2 Kings 
xxi. 22, Ps. xxv. 9, etc. The judgment of their God, i.e. that 

CHAP. V. 1-9. 123 

which God demanded as right and lawful, 2 Kings xvii. 26, 
etc. The great, i.e. the wealthy, distinguished, and educated. 
Yet even these have broken the yoke of the law, i.e. have 
emancipated themselves from obedience to the law (Hitz.) ; 
cf. ii. 20. Therefore they must be visited with punishment. — 
Ver. 6. This verse is neither a threatening of future punish- 
ments, nor is to be taken figuratively (lion, bear, leopard, as 
figures for dreadful enemies). The change from the perf. D3i? 
to the imperf. ^ly^ and ^ts? tells against the future con- 
struction, showing as it does that the verbs are used aoristi- 
cally of chastisements which have partly already taken place, 
which may be partly yet to come. And the figurative explana- 
tion of the beasts of prey by hostile peoples — found so early as 
the Chald. — is not in the least called for by the text ; nor is it 
easy to reconcile it with the specification of various kinds of wild 
beasts. The words are a case of the threatening; of the law in 
Lev. xxvi. 22, that God will chasten the transgressors of His 
law by sending beasts of prey which shall rob them of their 
children. Cf. with the promise, that if they keep His com- 
mandments, He will destroy the wild beasts out of the land. 
Cf. also the fact given in 2 Kings xvii. 25, that God sent lions 
amongst the heathen colonists who had been transplanted into 
the depopulated kingdom of the ten tribes, lions which slew 
some of them, because they served not Jahveh. The true con- 
ception of the words is confirmed by Ezek. xiv. 15, when in 
like manner the sending of evil (ravening) beasts is mentioned 
as an example of God's punishments. ^^}, smite, is a standing 
expression for the lion's way of striking down his prey with his 
paws ; cf. 1 Kings xx. 36. ninny 3Kt is not wolf of the 
evening, as Chald., Syr., Hitz. explain it, following Hab. i. 8 
and Zeph. iii. 3 ; for rfcnjf is not the plural of 3$, but of 
niny, steppe : the wolf that lives in the steppe, and thence 
makes its raids on inhabited spots. The reference of the words 
to place is suggested plainly by the parallel, the lion out of the 
wood. The leopard (panther) watches, i.e. lies lurking in wait 
against their cities, to tear those that come out. The panther 
is wont to lie in wait for his prey, and to spring suddenly out 
on it; cf. Hos. xiii. 7. With "because many are thy trans- 
gressions," cf. xxx. 14 f. 


Since these chastisements have profited nothing God cannot 
pardon the people. This is the meaning of the question in 
ver. 7, ftiib W, wherefore should I then pardon % not, should 
I then pardon for this? for , X by itself does not stand for 
n interrog., but is set before the pronom. demonstr. to give it 
the force of an interrogative adjective; cf. Ew. § 326, a. The 
Chcth. ni?DS est obsoletum adeoque genuinum (Ros.) ; the Keri 
substitutes the usual form. To justify the question with a 
negative answer implied, the people's fall into idolatry is again 
set up before it in strong colours. Thy sons (the sons of the 
daughter of Zion, i.e. of the national congregation, and so the 
individual members of the nation ; cf. Lev. xix. 18) have for- 
saken me, and swear by them that are not gods, i.e. the idols-; 
cf. ii. 11. For Dnix yaiffe, I caused them to swear, the old 
translators have J?" 1 ?^*?, I filled them to the full, and so it is read 
in many codd. and edd. This reading is preferred by most of 
the ancient commentators, and they appeal for a parallel to ver. 
28, and Deut. xxxii. 15 (" when Jeshurun waxed fat, he 
kicked"), Hos. xiii. 6, Neh. ix. 25, etc., where apostasy from 
God is chidden as a consequence of superfluity of earthly 
goods. So Luther: " and now that I have filled them full, they 
committed adultery." Now possibly it is just the recollection 
of the passages cited that has suggested the reading yab>X. 
The apodosis, they committed adultery, forms no antithesis to 
filling full. Adultery presupposes a marriage vow, or troth 
plighted by an oath. God caused Israel to swear fidelity 
when He made the covenant with it at Sinai, Ex. xxiv. This 
oath Israel repeated at each renewal of the covenant, and last 
under Josiah : 2 Kings xxiii. 3 ; 2 Cliron. xxxiv. 31 f. Hence 
we must not wholly restrict the swearing to the conclusion of 
the covenant at Sinai, nor wholly to the renewal of it under 
Josiah. We must refer it to both acts, or rather to the solem- 
nity at Sinai, together with all solemn renewals of it in after 
times; while at the same time the reference to the renewal 
under Josiah, this being still fresh in memory, may have been 
the foremost. We must not confine the reference of *SK3* to 
spiritual adultery (= a fall away from Jahveh into idolatry) ; 
the context, especially the next clause, and yet more unmistake- 
ably ver. 8, refers to carnal uncleanness. This too was a breach 

CHAP. V. 10-13. 125 

of the covenant, since in taking it the people bound itself not 
only to be faithful to God, but to keep and follow all the laws 
of His covenant. That the words, crowd into the house of the 
harlot, i.e. go thither in crowds, are to be taken of carnal un- 
cleanness, may be gathered from ver. Sb : each neighs after the 
wife of his neighbour. Fornication is denounced as a desecra- 
tion of the name of the Lord in Amos ii. 7. The first clause of 
ver. 8 suggests a comparison : well-fed horses are they, i.e. they 
resemble such. On the lechery of horses, see on Ezek. xxiii. 20. 
The Cheth. COMD is partic. Hoph. of pit, in Aram, feed, fatten, 
here most suitable. The Keri D*?W? would be the partic. Pu. 
from |P, t ne meaning of which is doubtful, given arbitrarily by 
Kimchi and others as armati sc. membro genitali. WSVft, too, 
is derived from W^j an< ^ given by Jerome sensu obscosno : 
irahentes sc. genitalia ; but D^StMO cannot come from 7JC5>D, 
D'3t?D being the only possible form in that case. Nor does 
trahentes, "draught-horses" (Hitz.), give a sense at all in 
point for the comparison. A better view is that of those who 
follow Simonis, in holding it to be partic. Hiph. of n3B>, in 
Aethiop. oberravit, vagatus est. The participle is not to be 
joined with " horses " as a second qualifying word, but to be 
taken with VH, the periphrastic form being chosen to indicate 
the enduring chronic character of the roaming. — Ver. 9. Such 
abandoned behaviour the Lord must punish. 

Vers. 10-18. In spite of the feeling of security fostered by the 
false prophets, the Lord loill make good His word, and cause the 
land and kingdom to be laid ivaste by a barbarous people. — 
Ver. 10. u Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy, but make not 
a full end : tear away her tendrils ; for they are not Jahveh's. 
Ver. 11. For faithless to me is the house of Israel become and 
the house of Judah, saith Jahveh. Ver. 12. They deny Jahveh, 
and say, He is not ; and evil shall not come upon us, and 
sword and famine we shall not see. Ver. 13. And the prophets 
shall become wind, and he that speaketh is not in them : so may 
it happen unto them. Vers. 14. Therefore thus saith Jahveh 
the God of hosts : Because ye speak this word, behold, I make 
my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall 
devour them. Ver. 15. Behold, I bring upon you a nation 
from far, house of Israel, saith Jahveh, a people that is strong, 


a people that is from of old, a people whose speech thou knowest 
not, and understandest not what it saith. Ver. 16. Its quiver 
is as an open grave, they are all mighty men. Ver. 17. It shall 
eat up thy harvest and thy bread ; they shall eat up thy sons 
and thy daughters ; it shall eat up thy flocks and thy cattle, eat 
up thy vine and thy fig-tree ; it shall break down thy fenced 
cities, wherein thou trustest, with the sword. Ver. 18. But yet 
in those days, saith Jahveh, I will not make a full end with 

To give emphasis to the threat, that the Lord will avenge 
Himself on such a people, we have immediately following, in 
ver. 10, the summons given to the enemy to subdue the land. 
rPnilBO VV is variously explained. The old translators took 
J"lV"iB> to mean walls : but the second clause, tear awav the 
tendrils, seems not to suit this well. And then this word occurs 
but once again, and with the meaning " caravan," while walls are 
T\T\W in Job xxiv. 11. But this reason is not strong enough to 
throw any doubt on the rendering : walls, supported as it is by 
the old versions. The form Ttiw from "fitt> is contracted from 
a form WM? } constructed analogously to flVTJjP. The second 
clause w r ould be unsuitable to the first only in the case that walls 
were to mean exclusively town walls or fortifications. But this 
is not the case. Even if the suffix here referred to Jerusalem, 
mentioned in ver. 1, which is very doubtful, still then the city 
would be looked on not in the light of a stronghold, but only 
as representative of the kingdom or of the theocracy. Probably, 
however, the suffix refers to the daughter of Zion as seat of the 
kingdom of God, and the idea of a vineyard was in the 
prophet's mind (cf ii. 21), under which figure Isaiah (v. 1-7) 
set forth the kingdom of God founded on Mount Zion ; so that 
under walls, the walls of the vineyard are to be thought of. 
Elsewhere, indeed, these are called nil^a (also in xlix. 3), but 
only where the figure of a vineyard is further developed, or 
at least is brought more plainly and prominently forward. 
Here, again, where the enemy is summoned to go upon the 
walls, this figure is mixed up with that of a city ; and so the 
word fii" 1 ^, as indicating walls of any kind, seems most fitting. 
Graf has overthrown, as being unfounded, Hitz.'s assertion, 
that 2 TVV signified only, to go up against a thing ; and that 

CHAP. V. 10-18. 127 

accuracy and elegance required that the destruction should be 
of the walls, not of the vineyard itself. n?V c. 3 means also : 
to go up upon a thing, e.g. Ps. xxiv. 3, Deut. v. 5 ; and the 
verb *in?' stands quite absolutely, so that it cannot be restricted 
to the walls. " And destruction can only take place when, by 
scaling the walls, entrance has been obtained into that which 
is to be destroyed, be it city or vineyard." We therefore adhere 
to the sig. walls, especially since the other translations attempted 
by Ew. and Hitz. are wholly without foundation. Hitz. will 
have us read ^nh^, and take this as plural of n*tife> ; next he 
supposes a row of vines to be intended, but he obtains this sense 
only by arbitrarily appending the idea of vines. Ew. endea- 
vours, from the Aram, and Arab., to vindicate for the word the 
meaning : clusters of blossom, and so to obtain for the whole 
the translation : push in amidst the blossom-spikes. A singular 
figure truly, which in no way harmonizes with 3 w. " Destroy" 
is restricted by the following " but make not," etc. ; see on iv. 
27. On " tear away her tendrils," cf. Isa. xviii. 5. The 
spoilers are not to root up the vine itself, but to remove the 
tendrils, which do not belong to Jahveh. Spurious members 
of the nation are meant, those who have degenerated out of 
their kind. 

The reasons of this command are given in ver. 11 if., by a 
renewed exposure of the people's apostasy. The house of Israel 
and the house of Judah are become faithless. On this cf. iii. 
6 ff. The mention of Israel along with Judah gives point to 
the threatening, since judgment has already been executed 
upon Israel. Judah has equalled Israel in faithlessness, and 
so a like fate will be its lot. Judah shows its faithlessness by 
denying the Lord, by saying Ktfl *6. This Ew. translates : not 
so, after the ovtc e<m ravra of the LXX. ; but he is certainly 
wrong in this. Even though «m may be used in place of the 
neuter, yet it cannot be so used in this connection, after the 
preceding nwa ttpnsi. Better to take it : He is not, as the fools 
speak in Ps. xiv. 1 : there is no God, i.e. go on in their lives 
as if God were not. " Jahveh is not" is therefore in other 
words: there exists not a God such as Jahveh is preached to us, 
who is to visit His people with sore punishments. This view 
is not open to the objection, quod pro lubitu supplent, which 


Ros. raises against the interpretation : non est is, qualem pro- 
phetce describunt. For we take Nin not as is qualem, but as est 
sc. Jaliveh; and we explain the meaning of Jahveh only in that 
reference in which He is disowned by these men, namely, as God 
who visits His people with punishments. In this character He 
was preached by the prophets. This appears from what is 
further said by these disowners of God : evil or mischief will 
not come on us. To a saying of this kind they could have been 
provoked only by threatenings of punishments. The prophets 
were not indeed the first to announce judgments ; Moses in 
the law threatened transgressors with the sorest punishments. 
But the context, the threatening against the false prophets in 
ver. 13, suggests that here we are to think of announcements 
by the prophets. Doubtless the false prophets assured the 
people: evil shall not come upon you, in opposition to the true 
prophets, who threatened the sinful race with the judgments of 
God. Such prophets are to become wind, sc. with their utter- 
ances. "I-Wil! is not a noun: the word, but a verb, with the article 
instead of the relative pronoun, as in Josh. x. 24, 1 Chron. xxvi. 
28, and often : He who speaks is not in them, i.e. in them there 
is none other speaker than themselves ; the Spirit of God is not 
in them, p^, " there is none," is stronger than fr6, meaning : 
they speak out of their own hearts. The threat, so be it unto 
them, may be most simply referred to the first clause : they 
become wind. Let the emptiness of their prophecies fall on 
their own heads, so that they themselves may come to nought. — 
Ver. 14. But the people is to have proof of the truth of the 
word of the Lord. Because it, despising the threatening of 
punishment, says : Misfortune shall not light upon us, the 
Lord will make the word in the mouth of Jeremiah a fire, and 
the people wood, that the fire may consume it. On this figure, 
cf. Isa. i. 31, x. 17. Ver. 15 ff. explain this, and announce the 
inroad of a dreadful enemy that is to lay waste the land and 
consume the people. " A people from far," as in iv. 16. Judah 
is called " house of Israel," not so much because it is what 
remains of Israel, but because, after the captivity of the ten 
tribes, Judah regarded itself as the only true Israel or people 
of God. Further description of the hostile people is intended 
to show its formidable power, and to inspire dread. \y$, en- 

CHAP. V. 19-31. 129 

during, firm, strong ; cf. Gen. xlix. 24, Mic. vi. 2. t&W?, 
dating from eternity, i.e. very ancient, not of recent origin, 
but become mighty in immemorial antiquity. A people speaking 
a language unfamiliar to the Jews, to comprehend whom is 
impossible, i.e. barbarous ; cf. Deut. xxviii. 49. Further (ver. 
16), it is a race of very heroes, fully furnished with deadly 
weapons. J. D. Mich, took objection to the figure, a its quiver 
is as an open grave ; " but his conjecture insa> put nothing 
better in place of it. The link of comparison is this : as an open 
grave is filled with dead men, so the quiver of this enemy is 
filled with deadly missiles. — Ver. 17. This people will devour 
the harvest and the bread, the children, the cattle, and the best 
fruits of the land. Devour, here as often, in the wider sense, 
destroy ; cf. e.g. iii. 24 and x. 25, where the first half of the 
present verse is compressed into the words : they ate up Jacob. 
We need not wait to refute Hitz.'s absurd remark, that the 
author imagined the enemy, the assumed Scythians, to be can- 
nibals. In the second half of the verse the words, " the fenced 
cities wherein thou trustest," are a reminiscence of Deut. xxviii. 
52 ; and hence we may see, that while our prophet is describ- 
ing the enemy in vers. 15-18, Moses' threatening, Deut. xxviii. 
49-52, was in his mind. B'Bh, break in pieces, as in Mai. i. 4. 
With the sword, i.e. by force of arms ; the sword, as principal 
weapon, being named, instead of the entire apparatus of war. 
In ver. 18 the restriction of ver. 10 (cf. iv. 27) is repeated, 
and with it the threatening of judgment is rounded off. 

Vers. 19-31. This calamity Judah is preparing for itself by 
its obduracy and excess of wickedness. — Ver. 19. " And if ye 
then shall say, Wherefore hath Jahveh our God done all this 
unto us ? then say to them, Like as ye have forsaken me and 
served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in 
a land that is not yours. Ver. 20. Declare this in the house 
of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying, Ver. 21. Hear now 
this, foolish people without understanding, that have eyes and 
see not, have ears and hear not. Ver. 22. Me will ye not fear, 
saith Jahveh, nor tremble before me? who have set the sand 
for a bound to the sea, an everlasting boundary that it passes 
not, and its waves toss themselves and cannot, and roar and 
pass not over. Ver. 23. But this people hath a stubborn and 

VOL. I. i 


rebellious heart ; they turned away and went. Ver. 24. And 
said not in their heart : Let us now fear Jahveh our God, who 
giveth rain, the early rain and the late rain, in its season ; who 
keepeth for us the appointed weeks of the harvest. Ver. 25. 
Your iniquities have turned away these, and your sins have 
withholden the good from you. Ver. 26. For among my people 
are found wicked men ; they lie in wait as fowlers stoop ; they 
set a trap, they catch men. Ver. 27. As a cage full of birds, 
so are their houses full of deceit ; therefore are they become 
great and rich. Ver. 28. They are grown fat and sleek, they 
go beyond bound in wickedness ; the cause they try not, the 
cause of the orphans, that they might have prosperity ; and the 
right of the needy they judge not. Ver. 29. Shall I not 
punish this ? saith Jahveh ; shall not my soul be avenged on 
such a people as this ? Ver. 30. The appalling and horrible is 
done in the land. Ver. 31. The prophets prophesy falsely, and 
the priests bear rule under their lead, and my people loves it 
so. But what will ye do in the end thereof % " 

The thought of ver. 19, that the people, by its apostasy, 
draws down this judgment on itself, forms the transition from 
the threat of punishment to the reproof of sins. The penalty 
corresponds to the sin. Because Judah in its own land serves 
the gods of foreigners, so it must serve strangers in a foreign 
land. — Ver. 20 f. The reproof of sins is introduced by an 
apostrophe to the hardened race. The exhortation, " Publish 
this," is addressed to all the prophet's hearers who have the 
welfare of the people at heart. " This," in vers. 20 and 21, 
refers to the chiding statement from ver. 23 onwards, that the 
people fears not God. The form of address, people foolish and 
without understanding (cf. iv. 22, Hos. vii. 11), is made cutting, 
in order, if possible, to bring the people yet to their senses. 
The following clauses, a they have eyes," etc., depict spiritual 
blindness and deafness, as in Ezek. xii. 22 ; cf. Deut. xxix. 3. 
Blindness is shown in that they see not the government of 
God's almighty power in nature ; deafness, in that they hear 
not the voice of God in His word. They have no fear even of 
the God whose power has in the sand set an impassable barrier 
for the mighty waves of the sea. " Me " is put first for em- 
phasis. The waves beat against their appointed barrier, but are 

CHAP. V. 19-31. 131 

not able, sc. to pass it. — Ver. 23. But this people has a stubborn 
and rebellious heart ; it bows not beneath the almighty hand 
of God. u Stubborn and rebellious," joined as in Deut. xxi. 
18, 20. Hence the following FID is not to be taken from T}D : 
they defy (Hitz.), but from "iid : they turn away and go off, 
and consider not that they owe their daily bread to the Lord. 
Neither does God's power move the obdurate people to the fear 
of Him, nor do the proofs of His love make any impression. 
They do not consider that God gives them the rain which lends 
the land its fruitfulness, so that at the fixed time they may 
gather in the harvest. The l cop. before Trft is rejected by 
the Masoretes in the Ken as out of place, since DBU is not any 
special rain, co-ordinate to the early and late rain (Hitz.), or 
because they had Deut. xi. 14, Joel ii. 23 before them. But in 
this they failed to notice that the 1 before rni» and that before 
GPippO are correlative, having the force of et—et. JlSnE> is stat. 
constr. from nine*, weeks, and to it nipn is co-ordinated in place 
of an adjective, so that f^> is dependent on two co-ordinate 
stat. constr., as in xlvi. 9, 11, Zeph. ii. 6. But the sense is not, 
the weeks, the statutes, of the harvest, i.e. the fixed and regu- 
lated phenomena which regulate the harvest (Graf), but, 
appointed weeks of harvest. The seven weeks between the 
second day of the passover and the feast of harvest, or of weeks, 
Ex. xxiii. 16, xxxiv. 22, Deut. xvi. 9 f., are what is here meant. 
We must reject the rendering, "oath as to the harvest-time" 
(L. de Dieu, J. D. Mich., and Evv.), since Scripture knows 
nothing of oaths taken by God as to the time of harvest ; in 
Gen. viii. 22 there is no word of an oath.— Ver. 25. The people 
has by its sins brought about the withdrawal of these blessings 
(the withholding of rain, etc.). H9PI, turned away, as in Amos 
v. 12, Mai. iii. 5. " These," i.e. the blessings mentioned in 
ver. 24. The second clause repeats the same thing. The good, 
i.e. which God in His goodness bestowed on them. 

This is established in ver. 26 f. by bringing home to the 
people their besetting sins. In (amidst) the people are found 
notorious sinners. TW* in indefinite generality : they spy about, 
lie in wait ; cf. Hos. xiii. 7. The singular is chosen because 
the act described is not undertaken in company, but by indivi- 
duals. 5|£ from SjaK?, bend down, stoop, as bird-catchers hide 


behind the extended nets till the birds have gone in, so as then 
to draw them tight. " They set;" not the fowlers, but the wicked 
ones. rVTO>E>, destroyer (Ex. xii. 23, and often), or destruction 
(Ezek. xxi. 36) ; here, by virtue of the context, a trap which 
brings destruction. The men they catch are the poor, the 
needy, and the just ; cf. ver. 28 and Isa. xxix. 21. The figure 
of bird-catching leads to a cognate one, by which are set forth 
the gains of the wicked or the produce of their labours. As a 
cage is filled with captured birds, so the houses of the wicked 
are filled with deceit, i.e. possessions obtained by deceit, through 
which they attain to credit, power, and wealth. Graf has 
overthrown Hitz.'s note, that we must understand by HDID, not 
riches obtained by deceit, but the means and instruments of 
deceit ; and this on account of the following : therefore they en- 
rich themselves. But, as Graf shows, it is not the possession of 
these appliances, but of the goods acquired by deceit, that has 
made these people great and rich, " as the birds that fill the 
cage are not a means for capture, but property got by cunning." 
3v3, cage, is not strictly a bird-cage, but a bird-trap woven of 
willows (Amos viii. 1), with a lid to shut down, by means of 
which birds were caught. — Ver. 28. Through the luxurious 
living their wealth makes possible to them, they are grown fat 
and sleek. VltW, in graphic description, is joined asynd. to the 
preceding verb. It is explained by recent comra. of fat bodies, 
become glossy, in keeping with the noun riKty, which in Cant. 
v. 14 expresses the glitter of ivory ; for the meaning cogitare, 
think, meditate, which T\V)y bears in Chald., yields no sense avail- 
able here. The next clause is variously explained. Da points to 
another, yet worse kind of behaviour. It is not possible to 
defend the translation : they overflow with evil speeches, or 
swell out with evil things (Umbr., Ew.), since "i?y c. accus. 
does not mean to overflow with a thing. Yet more arbitrary is 
the assumption of a change of the subject : (their) evil speeches 
overflow. The only possible subject to the verb is the wicked 
ones, with whom the context deals before and after. JH"^?1 
are not words of wickedness = what may be called wickedness, 
but things of wickedness, wicked things. nyi serves to distri- 
bute the idea of in into the particular cases into which it falls, 
as in Ps. Ixv. 4, cv. 27, and elsewhere, where it is commonly 

CHAP. V. 19-3L 133 

held to be pleonastic. Hitz. expounds truly : the individual 
wickednesses in which the abstract idea of wicked manifests 
itself. Sense : they go beyond all that can be conceived as evil, 
i.e. the bounds of evil or wickedness. The cause they plead 
not, namely, the cause of the orphans. WpSJl, imperf. c. i 
consec. : that so they might have prosperity. Hitz. regards the 
wicked men as the subject, and explains the words thus : such 
justice would indeed be a necessary condition of their success. 
But that the wicked could attain to prosperity by seizing every 
opportunity of defending the rights of the fatherless is too weak 
a thought, coming after what has preceded, and besides it does 
not fit the case of those who go beyond all bounds in wicked- 
ness. Ew. and Graf translate: that they (the wicked) might 
make good the rightful cause (of the orphan), help the poor 
man to his rights. But even if rvpsn seems in 2 Chron. 
vii. 11, Dan. viii. 25, to have the signif. carry through, make 
good, yet in these passages the sig. carry through with suc- 
cess is fundamental ; where, as here, this will not suit, rvi'Vn 
being in any case applicable only to doubtful and difficult 
causes — a thought foreign to the present context. Blame is 
attached to the wicked, not because they do not defend the 
orphan's doubtful pleas, but because they give no heed at all to 
the orphan's rights. We therefore hold with Raschi that the 
orphans are subject to this verb : that the orphans might have 
had prosperity. The plural is explained when we note that 
Dirp is perfectly general, and may be taken as collective. The 
accusation in this verse shows further that the prophet had the 
godless rulers and judges of the people in his eye. — Ver. 29 is 
a refrain-like repetition of ver. 9. — The vers. 30 and 31 are, as 
Hitz. rightly says, " a sort of epimetram added after the con- 
clusion in ver. 29," in which the already described moral de- 
pravity is briefly characterized, and is asserted of all ranks of 
the people. Appalling and horrible things happen in the land ; 
cf. ii. 12, xxiii. 14, xviii. 13, Hos. vi. 10. The prophets pro- 
phesy with falsehood, "l|$03, as * n xx - 6, xx ' x - 9 ; more fully 
ngffc W'3, xxiii. 25, xxvii. 15. The priests rule Drt«T hv, at their 
(the prophets') hands, i.e. under their guidance or direction ; cf. 
1 Chron. xxv. 2 ff., 2 Chron. xxiii. 18 ; not: go by their side 
(Ges., Dietr.), for ilTJ is not : go, march on, but : trample down. 


My people loves it so, yields willingly to such a lead ; cf. Amos 
iv. 5. What will ye do Winnx^, as to the end of this conduct ? 
The suff. fcem. with neuter force. The end thereof will be the 
judgment ; will ye be able to turn it away? 

Chap. vi. The judgment is irrevocably decreed. — A 
hostile army approaches from the north, and lays siege to Jeru- 
salem, in order to storm the city (vers. 1-8). None is spared, 
since the people rejects all counsels to reform (vers. 9-15). 
Since it will not repent, it will fall by the hands of the enemy, 
in spite of the outward sacrificial service (vers. 16-21). The 
enemy will smite Zion without mercy, seeing that the trial of 
the people has brought about no change for the better in them 
(vers. 22-30). 

Vers. 1-8. The judgment breaking over Jerusalem. — Ver. 1. 
" Flee, ye sons of Benjamin, out of the midst of Jerusalem, and 
in Tekoa blow the trumpet, and over Beth-haccerem set up a 
sign; for evil approacheth from the north, and great destruction. 
Ver. 2. The comely and the delicate — I lay waste the daughter 
of Zion. Ver. 3. To her come shepherds with their flocks, pitch 
their tents about her round about, and devour each his portion. 
Ver. 4. Sanctify war against her ; arise, let us go up at noon. 
Woe unto us ! for the day declineth ; for the shadows of even- 
ing lengthen. Ver. 5. Arise, let us go up by night, and destroy 
her palaces. Ver. 6. For thus hath Jahveh of hosts spoken, 
Hew down wood, and pile up against Jerusalem a rampart ; she 
is the city that is (to be) punished, she is all full of oppression in 
her midst. Ver. 7. As a fountain pours forth its water, so pours 
she forth her wickedness : violence and spoiling is heard in her; 
before my face continually, wounds and smiting. Ver. 8. Be 
warned, Jerusalem, lest my soul tear herself from thee, lest I 
make thee a waste, a land uninhabited." 

In graphic delineation of the enemy's approach against Jeru- 
salem, the prophet calls on the people to flee. As regarded its 
situation, Jerusalem belonged to the tribe of Benjamin ; the 
boundary between the tribal domain of Judah and Benjamin 
passed through the valley of Ben-Hinnom on the south side of 
Jerusalem, and then ran northwards to the west of the city 
(Josh. xv. 8, xviii. 16 f.). The city was inhabited by Judeans 

CHAP. VI. 1-8. 135 

and Benjamites, 1 Chron. ix. 2 ff. The summons is addressed 
to the Benjamites as the prophet's fellow-countrymen. Tekoa 
lay about two hours' journey southwards from Bethlehem, 
according to Jerome, on a hill twelve Roman miles south of 
Jerusalem ; see on Josh. xv. 59. This town is mentioned be- 
cause its name admits of a play on the word Wffi. The alarm 
is given in the country south of Jerusalem, because the enemy 
is coming from the north, so that the flight will be directed 
southwards. Beth-haccerem, ace. to Jerome, was a hamlet 
(vicas) between Jerusalem and Tekoa, qui lingua Syra et 
Ilebraica JSethaeharma noininatur^ et ipse in moute positus, 
apparently on what is now called the Frank's Hill, Jebel 
Fureidis ; see on Neh. iii. 14. fi^P, the lifting up, that which 
raises itself up, or is raised ; here a lofty beacon or signal, the 
nature of which is not further made known. The meaning, 
fire-signal, or ascending column of smoke, cannot be made good 
from Judg. xx. 38, 40, since there \W$ is appended ; nor from 
the statements of classical authors (in Ros.), that in time of war 
bodies of troops stationed in different places made their posi- 
tions known to one another by masses of rising flame during 
the night, and by columns of smoke in the day time. As to 
the last clause, cf. i. 14. " Great destruction," as in iv. 6. — In 
ver. 2 the impending judgment is further described. It falls 
on the daughter of Zion, the capital and its inhabitants, per- 
sonified as a beautiful and delicately reared woman. HM, defec- 
tively written for niXJ, contracted from HJ80, lovely, beautiful. 
The words are not vocatives, O fair and delicate, but accusa- 
tives made to precede their governing verb absolutely, and are 
explained by " the daughter of Zion," dependent on u I de- 
stroy : " the fair and the delicate, namely, the daughter of Zion, 
I destroy. nOT as in Hos. iv. 5. The other meaning of this 
verb, to be like, to resemble, is wholly unsuitable here ; and, 
besides, in this signification it is construed with ?N or p. Ew.'s 
translation, I mean the daughter of Zion, is not justifiable by 
the usage of the word, the Piel only, and not the Kal, being 
capable of this interpretation. — Ver. 3. The destruction comes 
about by means of shepherds with their flocks, who set up their 
tents round the city, and depasture each his portion. We need 
hardly observe that the shepherds and their flocks are a figure 


for princes, who with their peoples besiege and sack Jerusalem 
with this cf. i. 15. The figure does not point to a nomad swarm, 
or the Scythian people, as Ew. supposes. "Each his hand," i.e. 
what lies to his hand, or next him. — Ver. 4. The description 
passes from figure to reality, and the enemies appear before us 
as speaking, inciting one another to the combat, encouraging 
one another to storm the city. To sanctify a war, i.e. prepare 
themselves for the war by religious consecration, inasmuch as 
the war was undertaken under commission from God, and be- 
cause the departure of the army, like the combat itself, was 
consecrated by sacrifice and other religious ceremonies ; see on 
Joel iv. 9. n ?V, to go up against a place as an enemy, not, go 
up upon, in which case the object, them (the city or walls), could 
not be omitted. It is plainly the storming or capture of the 
town that is meant by the going up ; hence we may understand 
what follows : and we will destroy her palaces. We have a 
rousing call to go up at noon or in clear daylight, joined with 
" woe to us," a cry of disappointment that they will not be able 
to gain their ends so soon, not indeed till night ; in these we 
see the great eagerness with which they carry on the assault. 
JTJ3 UV : the day turns itself, declines towards its end ; cf. Ps. 
xc. 9. The enemies act under a commission from God, who 
has imposed on them the labour of the siege, in order to punish 
Jerusalem for her sins. Jahveh is here most fittingly called 
the God of hosts; for as God of the world, obeyed by the 
armies of heaven, He commands the kings of the earth to chas- 
tise His people. Hew wood, i.e. fell trees for making the siege 
works, cf. Deut. xx. 20, both for raising the attacking ram- 
parts, 1 and for the entire apparatus necessary for storming the 
town, nyy is not a collective form from TV., like nJT from ft ; 
but the H— is a suffix in spite of the omission of the Mappik, 
which is given by but a few of the codd,, eastern and western, 
for we know that Mappik is sometimes omitted, e.g. Num. xv. 
28, 31 ; cf. Ew. § 247, d. We are encouraged to take it so by 
Deut. xx. 19, where Ffifg are the trees in the vicinity of the 
town, of which only the fruit trees were to be spared in case of 
siege, while those which did not bear eatable fruit were to be 

1 Agger ex terra lignisque attollitar contra miirum, de quo tela jactantur. 
Veget. de re milit. iv. 15. 

CHAP. VI. 1-S. 137 

made use of for the purposes of the siege. And thus we must 
here, too, read 3SJJ, and refer the suffix to the next noun (Jeru- 
salem). On "pile up a rampart," cf. 2 Sam. xx. 15, Ezek. iv. 
2, etc. ^i??? > s use d as passive of Kal, and impersonally. The 
connection with TPH is to be taken like "TH nan in Isa. xxix. 1 : 
the city where it is punished, or perhaps like Ps. lix. 6, the 
relative being supplied : that is punished. ?J?3 is not to be 
joined, contrary to the accents, with "ip2n (Ven., J. D. Mich.), 
a connection which, even if it were legitimate, would give but 
a feeble thought. It belongs to what follows, " she is wholly 
oppression in her midst," i.e. on all sides in her there is oppres- 
sion. This is expanded in ver. 7. LXX. and Jerome have 
taken "Ppn from Tip, and translate : like as a cistern keeps its 
water cool (^vyetj frigidam facit), so she keeps her wickedness 
cool. Hitz. has pronounced in favour of this interpretation, but 
changes " keep cool " into u keep fresh," and understands the 
metaphor thus : they take good care that their wickedness does 
not stagnate or become impaired by disuse. But it would be a 
strange metaphor to put "keep wickedness cool," for " maintain 
it in strength and vigour." We therefore, along with Luth. and 
most commentators, prefer the rabbinical interpretation : as a 
well makes its water to gush out, etc. ; for there is no sufficient 
force in the objection that "lipD from "lip, dig, is not a spring 
but a well, that "P^n has still less the force of making to gush 
forth, and that nis wholly excludes the idea of causing to spring 
out. The first assertion is refuted by ii. 13, "^PP, fountain of 
living water; whence it is clear that the word does mean a well 
fed by a spring. It is true, indeed, that the word "ii3, a later 
way of writing "18*3 (cf. 1 Chron. xi. 17 f. 22 with 2 Sam. xxiii. 
15 f. 20), means usually, a pit, a cistern dug out ; but this form 
is not substantially different from "IN2, well, puteus, which is 
used for "iia in Ps. Iv. 24 and lxix. 16. Accordingly, this 
latter form can undoubtedly stand with the force of "iN3 ? as has 
been admitted by the Masoretes when they substituted for it 



T3 = 1X3; cf. the Arab. ju. The noun "tip» puts beyond 

doubt the legitimacy of giving to Ti?n. from nip, to dig a well, 
the signification of making water to gush forth. The form 
■'"JUS! is indeed referable to "Tip, but only shows, as is otherwise 


well known, that no very strict line of demarcation can be 
drawn between the forms of verbs 'VV and 'iJJ ; "Pj?n, again, is 
formed regularly from "lip. Violence and spoiling ; cf. xx. 8, 
and Amos iii. 10, Hab. i. 3. " Before my face," before mine 
eyes, corresponds to "is heard," as wounds and smitings are 
the consequences of violence. On that head, cf. Ps. lv. 10—12. 
— Ver. 8. If Jerusalem cease not from these sins and crimes, the 
Lord must devote it to spoliation. Let thyself be corrected, 
warned ; cf. Ps. ii. 10, Lev. xxvi. 23. V\>n from V\P, tear one- 
self loose, estrange oneself, as in Ezek. xxiii. 17 ff. "A land 
uninhabited " is an apposition giving greater expressiveness to 
" a waste," xxii. 6. 

Vers. 9-15. This judgment will fall unsparingly on Jerusalem, 
because they listen to no warning, but suffer themselves to be 
confirmed in their shameless courses by false prophets and 
wicked priests. — Ver. 9. " Thus hath Jahveh of hosts said : They 
shall have a gleaning of the remnant of Israel as of a vine : 
lay thine hand again as a vine-dresser on the shoots. Ver. 10. 
To whom shall I speak, and testify, that they may hear? 
Behold, uncircumcised is their ear, and they cannot give heed : 
behold, the word of Jahveh is become to them a reproach ; they 
have no pleasure in it. Ver. 11. But of the fury of Jahveh 
am I full, am weary with holding it in. Pour it out upon the 
child on the street, and upon the group of young men together ; 
for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the old man 
with him that is full of clays. Ver. 12. And their houses shall 
pass unto others, fields and wives together; for I stretch out 
mine hand against the inhabitants of the land, saith Jahveh. 
Ver. 13. For great and small are all of them greedy for gain ; 
and from the prophet to the priest, all use deceit. Ver. 14. 
And they heal the breach of the daughter of my people lightly, 
saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. Ver. 15. They 
are put to shame because they have done abomination, yet 
they take not shame to themselves, neither know they disgrace ; 
therefore they shall fall among them that fall : at the time that 
I visit them they shall stumble, hath Jahveh said." 

The threatening of ver. 9 is closely connected with the 
foregoino-. The Lord will make Jerusalem an uninhabited 
waste, because it will not take warning. The enemy will make 

CHAP. VI. 9-15. 139 

a gleaning like vine-dressers, i.e. they will yet search out even 
that which is left of the people, and crush it or carry it captive. 
This still sterner threat does come into contradiction with the 
repeated pledge, that Israel is not to be wholly extirpated, not 
to be made an utter end of (iv. 27, v. 10, 18). For even at 
the o-leanincr odd clusters are left, which are not noticed or set 
store by. The words convey the idea that the enemy will not 
have done with it after one devastating campaign, but will 
repeat his inroads. 7?)V is construed with the accus. of the 
vineyard in Lev. xix. 10. The "remnant of Israel" is not 
the kingdom of Judah at large, but Judah already reduced by 
judgments. In the second clause the idea of the first is 
repeated in the form of a command to the gleaners. The 
command is to be looked on as addressed to the enemy by God ; 
and this turn of the expression serves to put the thought with 
a positiveness that excludes the faintest doubt. To bring back 
the hand means : yet again to turn it, stretch it out against a 
person or thing ; cf . Amos i. 8, Isa. i. 25. fi^DPD is not baskets, 
like Q^D, Gen. xl. 16, but like &}l>t, Isa. xviii. 5, vine-shoots, 
prop, waving twigs, like D^n^i. Cant. v. 11, from 7?D = 7?T 
and &fl, wave (Ew., Hitz.). — Ver. 10 f. Well might Jeremiah 
warn the people once more (cf. ver. 8), in order to turn sore 
judgment away from it ; but it cannot and will not hear, for it 
is utterly hardened. Yet can he not be silent ; for he is so 
filled with the fury of God, that he must pour it forth on the 
depraved race. This is our view of the progress of the thought 
in these verses; whereas Hitz. and Graf make what is said in 
ver. 11 refer to the utterance of the dreadful revelation received 
in ver. 9. But this is not in keeping with " testify that they 
may hear," nor with the unmistakeable contrast between the 
pouring out of the divine fury, ver. 11, and the testifying that 
they may hear, ver. 10. Just because their ear is uncircumcised 
so that they cannot hear, is it in vain to speak to them for the 
purpose of warning them ; and the prophet has no alternative 
left but to pour out on the deaf and seared people that fury of 
the Lord with which he is inwardly filled. The question : to 
whom should I speak % etc. (?V for ?N, as xi. 2 and often), is not 
to be taken as a question to God, but only as a rhetorical turn 
of the thought, that all further speaking or warning is in vain. 


" Testify," lay down testimony by exhibiting the sin and the 
punishment it brings with it. "That they may hear," ut 
audiant, the Chald. has well paraphrased : ut accipiant doctrinam. 
Uncircumcised is their ear, as it were covered with a foreskin, 
so that the voice of God's word cannot find its way in ; cf. 
v. 24, iv. 4. The second clause, introduced by narij adduces the 
reason of their not beino; able to hear. The word of God is 
become a reproach to them ; they are determined not to hearken 
to it, because it lashes their sins. Ver. 11 comes in adversatively : 
But the fury of the Lord drives him to speak, nirp nan is not 
a holy ardour for Jahveh (Graf and many ancient comm.), 
but the wrath of God against the people, which the prophet 
cannot contain, i.e. keep to himself, but must pour out. Be- 
cause they will not take correction, he must inflict the judg- 
ment upon them, not merely utter it. The imper. ^b^ is to 
be taken like StJ'H, ver. 9, not as an expression of the irresist- 
ible necessity which, in spite of all his efforts against it, 
compels the prophet to pour forth, in a certain sense, the wrath 
of the Lord on all classes of the people by the very publishing 
of God's word (Graf) ; but it is the command of God, to be 
executed by him, as is shown by " for I stretch out mine hand," 
ver. 12. The prophet is to pour out the wrath of God by the 
proclamation of God's word, which finds its fulfilment in judg- 
ments of wrath ; see on i. 10. Upon all classes of the people : 
the children that play in the street (cf. ix. 20), the young men 
gathered together in a cheerful company, the men and women, 
old men and them that are full of days, i.e. those who have 
reached the furthest limit of old age. *3 tells why the prophet 
is so to speak : for upon the whole population will God's wrath 
be poured out. "w?, not, be taken captive, but, be taken, over- 
taken by the wrath, as in viii. 9 ; cf . 1 Sam. xiv. 41. — Ver. 12a 
gives the result of being thus taken : their houses, fields, and 
wives will be handed over to others, descend to others. Wives 
are mentioned along with houses and fields, as in the command- 
ment, Ex. xx. 17 ; cf. Deut. v. 18. The loss of all one's 
possessions is mentioned in connection with reproof, following 
in ver. 13, of greed and base avarice. The threatening is con- 
firmed in ver. 12b by the clause: for I (Jahveh) stretch my 
hand out, etc. Then in vers. 13 and 14 the cause of the judg- 

CnAP. VI. 1G-21. 141 

ment is adduced. The judgment falls upon all, for all, great and 
little, i.e. mean and powerful (cf. vers. 4, 5), go after base gain ; 
and the teachers, who ought to lead the people on the true way 
(Isa. xxx. 21), use deceit and dishonesty. They heal the breach 
of the daughter of my people, i.e. the infirmities and injuries 
of the state, after a light and frivolous fashion ("Tpi?? is partic. 
Niph. fam., and ?V is of the thing that covers another) ; — in this, 
namely, that they speak of peace and healing where there is no 
peace ; that they do not uncover the real injuries so as to heal 
them thoroughly, but treat them as if they were trifling and in 
no way dangerous infirmities. — Ver. 15. For this behaviour 
they are put to shame, i.e. deceived in their hope. The perf. 
is prophetic, representing the matter as being equally certain 
as if it had been already realized. It cannot bear to be trans- 
lated either: they should be ashamed (Ros., Umbr. after the 
Chald.), or: they would be ashamed (E\v.). The following 
m'oundino- clause adduces the cause of their being put to 
shame : because they have done abomination ; and the next 
clauses bring in a contrast: yet on the contrary, shame and dis- 
grace they know not ; therefore on the day of visitation they 
will fall with the rest. When these verses are repeated in 
chap. viii. 12, the Niph. B?3ri is used in place of the Hiph. 
OV3n. It does not, however, follow from this that the Hiph. 
has here the force of the Niph., but only thus much, that the 
Hiph. is here used, not in a transitive, but in a simply active 
meaning : to have shame or disgrace. For DWpB with the 
relative omitted, time when I visit, we have in viii. 12 the 
simpler form of the noun omps, as in x. 15, xlvi. 21, and often. 
Such divergencies do not justify the accommodation of the 
present passage to these others, since on occasions of repetitions 
the expression in matters of subordinate importance is often 
varied. The perf. of the verb has here the force of the fut. 

Vers. 1G— 21. The judgment cannot be turned aside by mere 
sacrifice ivithout a change of heart. — Ver. 16. " Thus hath Jahveh 
said : Stand on the ways, and look, and ask after the everlasting 
paths, which (one) is the way of good, and walk therein; so shall 
ye find rest for your souls. But they say, We will not go. Ver. 
17. And I have set over you watchmen, (saying) : Hearken to 


the sound of the trumpet ; but they say, We will not hearken. 
Ver. 18. Therefore hear, ye peoples, and know, thou congrega- 
tion, what happens to them. Ver. 19. Hear, O earth ! Behold, 
I bring evil on this people, the fruit of their thoughts ; for to 
my words they have not hearkened, and at my law they have 
spurned. Ver. 20. To what end, then, is there incense coming 
to me from Sheba, and the good spice-cane from a far land ? 
Your burnt-offerings are not a pleasure, and your slain-offerings 
are not grateful to me. Ver. 21. Therefore thus hath Jaliveh 
said : Behold, I lay stumbling-blocks for this people, that 
thereon fathers and sons may stumble, at once the neighbour 
and his friend shall perish." 

Ver. 16 f. The Lord has not left any lack of instruction and 
warning. He has marked out for them the way of salvation in 
the historv of the ancient times. It is to this reference is made 
when they, in ignorance of the way to walk in, are called to 
ask after the everlasting paths. This thought is clothed thus : 
they are to step forth upon the ways, to place themselves where 
several ways diverge from one another, and inquire as to the ever- 
lasting paths, so as to discover which is the right way, and then on 
this they are to walk. Q?iy niTri? are paths that have been trod 
in the hoary time of old, but not all sorts of ways, good and bad, 
which they are to walk on indiscriminately, so that it may be 
discovered which of them is the right one (Hitz.). This meaning 
is not to be inferred from the fact, that in xviii. 15 everlasting 
paths are opposed to untrodden ways ; indeed this very passage 
teaches that the everlasting ways are the right ones, from 
which through idolatry the people have wandered into unbeaten 
paths. Thus the paths of the old time are here the ways in 
which Israel's godly ancestors have trod ; meaning substantially, 
the patriarchs' manner of thinking and acting. For the follow- 
ing question, u which is the way," etc., does not mean, amongst 
the paths of old time to seek out that which, as the right one, 
leads to salvation, but says simply thus much : ask after the 
paths of the old time, so as thus to recognise the right way, and 
then, when ye have found it, to walk therein. Sits? =H% not, the 
good way ; for 2itsn cannot be an objective appended to sJTl, 
since immediately after, the latter word is construed in H3 as 
faem. " The good" is the genitive dependent on " way :" way 

CHAP. VI. 1C-21. 143 

of the good, that leads to the good, to salvation. This way 
Israel might learn to know from the history of antiquity 
recorded in the Torah. Graf has brought the sense well out 
in this shape : u Look inquiringly backwards to ancient history 
(Deut. xxxii. 7), and see how success and enduring prosperity 
forsook your fathers when they left the way prescribed to them 
by God, to walk in the ways of the heathen (xviii. 15) ; learn 
that there is but one way, the way of the fear of Jahveh, on s/ 
which blessing and salvation are to be found (xxxii. 39, 40)." 
Find (with 1 consec), and find thus = so shall ye find ; cf. Ew. 
§ 347, h\ Ges. § 130, 2. To " we will not go," we may supply 
from the context : on the way of good. — Ver. 17. But God does 
not let the matter end here. He caused prophets to rise up 
amongst them, who called their attention to the threatening 
evil. Watchers are prophets, Ezek. iii. 17, who stand upon 
the watch-tower to keep a lookout, Hab. ii. 1, and to give the 
people warning, by proclaiming what they have seen in spirit. 
" Hearken to the sound," etc., are not the words of the watch- 
men (prophets), for it is they who blow the trumpet, but the 
words of God ; so that we have to supply, " and I said." The 
comparison of the prophets to watchmen, who give the alarm 
of the imminent danger by means of the sound of the trumpet, 
involves the comparison of the prophets' utterances to the clang 
of the signal-horn, — suggested besides by Amos iii. 6. — Ver. 
18. Judah being thus hardened, the Lord makes known to the 
nations what He has determined regarding it ; cf. Mic. i. 2. 
The sense of " Know, thou congregation," etc., is far from 
clear, and has been very variously given. Eos., Dahl., Main*., 
Umbr., and others, understand niy of the congregation or 
assembly of the foreign nations ; but the word cannot have this 
meaning without some further qualifying word. Besides, a 
second mention of the nations is not suitable to the context. 
The congregation must be that of Israel. The only question 
can be, whether we are by this to think of the whole people 
(of Judah), (Chald., Syr., Ew., and others), or whether it is 
the company of the ungodly that is addressed, as in the phrase 
mp my. (Hitz.). But there is little probability in the view, 
that the crew of the ungodly is addressed along with the 
nations and the earth. Not less open to debate is the construe- 


tion of LQ"X'X~nx. In any case little weight can be attached 
to Hitz.'s assumption, that n&? is used only to mark out the ">^K 
as relative pronoun : observe it, O company that is amidst 
them. The passages, xxxviii. 16 (Chet.), and Eccles. iv. 3, where 
J"IN seems to have this force, are different in kind ; for a defi- 
nite noun precedes, and to it the relation "IBfcTTIK is subjoined. 
And then what, on this construction, is the reference of D2, 
amidst than ? Hitz. has said nothing on this point. But it 
could only be referred to " peoples :" the company which is 
amidst the peoples ; and this gives no reasonable sense. These 
three words can only be object to " know :" know what is 
amongst (in) them ; or : what is or happens to them (against 
them). It has been taken in the first sense by Chald. (their 
sins), Umbr., Maur. : what happens in or amongst them ; in the 
second by Ros., Dahl. : what I shall do against them. Ewald, 
again, without more ado, changes D2 into N2 : know, thou con- 
gregation, what is coming. By this certainly a suitable sense 
is secured ; but there are no sufficient reasons for a change of 
the text, it is the mere expedient of embarrassment. All the 
ancient translators have read the present text ; even the trans- 
lation of the LXX. : feat ol iroiiiaivovr^ ra irolfjivia avrcoVy 
lias been arrived at by a confounding of letters (my '•jn with 
"ny l| jn). We understand " congregation" of Israel, i.e. not of 
the whole people of Judah, but of those to whom the title 
" congregation" was applicable, i.e. of the godly, small as their 
number might be. Accordingly, we are not to refer D2 ItMTrtiS 
to " peoples :" what is occurring amidst the peoples, viz. that 
they are coming to besiege Jerusalem, etc. (ver. 3ff.). Nor is 
it to be referred to those in Judah who, according to vers. 16 
and 17, do not walk in the right way, and will not give ear to 
the sound of the trumpet. The latter reference, ace. to which 
the disputed phrase would be translated : what will happen to 
them (against them), seems more feasible, and corresponds 
better to the parallelism of vers. 18 and 19, since this same phrase 
is then explained in ver. 19 by : I bring evil upon this people. 1 

1 So that we cannot hold, with Graf, that the reading of the text is 
" manifestly corrupted ;" still less do we hold as substantiated or probable 
his conjectural reading : D2 Tfiyn "IK'S ^JTTCj and know what I have 

testified against them. 

CITAP. VI. 22-30. 145 

In ver. 19 the evil is characterized as a punishment drawn 
down by them on themselves by means of the apposition : fruit 
of their thoughts. " Fruit of their thoughts," not of their 
deeds (Isa. iii. 10), in order to mark the hostility of the evil 
heart towards God. God's law is put in a place of prominence 
by the turn of the expression : My law, and they spurned at it ; 
cf. Ew. § 344, b, with 309, b.— Ver. 20. The people had no 
shortcoming in the matter of sacrifice in the temple ; but in 
this service, as being mere outward service of works, the Lord 
has no pleasure, if the heart is estranged from Him, rebels 
against His commandments. Here we have the doctrine, to obey 
is better than sacrifice, 1 Sam. xv. 22. The Lord desires that 
men do justice, exercise love, and walk humbly with Him, Mic. 
vi. 8. Sacrifice, as opus operatum, is denounced by all the 
prophets: cf. Hos. vi. 6, Amos v. 21 ff., Isa. i. 11, Ps. 1. 8 ff. 
Incense from Sheba (see on Ezek. xxvii. 22) was required 
partly for the preparation of the holy incense (Ex. xxx. 34), 
partly as an addition to the meat-offerings, Lev. ii. 1, 15, etc. 
Good, precious cane, is the aromatic reed, calamus odoratus 
(Ex. xxx. 23), calamus from a far country, — namely, brought 
from India, — and used in the preparation of the anointing 
oil ; see on Ex. xxx. 23. |ftn? is from the language of the 
Torah ; cf. Lev. i. 3 ff., xxii. 19 ff., Ex. xxviii. 38 ; and with 
NP : not to well-pleasing, sc. before Jahveh, i.e. they cannot 
procure for the offerers the pleasure or favour of God. 
With 'h liny t6 c f. Hos. ix. 4.— Ver. 21. Therefore the Lord 
will lay stumbling-blocks before the people, whereby they all 
come to grief. The stumbling-blocks by which the people are 
to fall and perish, are the inroads of the enemies, whose for- 
midableness is depicted in ver. 22 ff. The idea of totality is 
realized by individual cases in " fathers and sons, neighbour 
and his friend." WP belongs to the following clause, and not 
the Keri, but the Cheth. ttaifr, is the true reading. The Keri 
is formed after the analogy of xlvi. 6 and 1. 32 ; but it is 
unsuitable, since then we would require, as in the passages 
cited, to have ?2J in direct connection with ?W3. 

Vers. 22-30. A distant, cruel people will execute the judgment, 
since Judah, under the trial, has proved to be loortldess metal. — 
Ver. 22. " Thus hath Jahveh said : Behold, a people cometh 

VOL. I. K 


from the land of the north, and a great nation raises itself from 
the furthermost sides of the earth. Ver. 23. Bows and javelins 
they bear ; cruel it is, and they have no mercy ; their voice 
roareth like the sea ; and on horses they ride, equipped as a man 
for the war against thee, daughter of Zion. Ver. 24. We 
heard the rumour thereof : weak are our hands : anguish hath 
taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail. Ver. 25. 
Go not forth into the field, and in the way walk not ; for a 
sword hath the enemy, fear is all around. Ver. 26. O daughter 
of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and besprinkle thee 
with ashes ; make mourning for an only son, bitter lamentation : 
for suddenly shall the spoiler come upon us. Ver. 27. For a 
trier have I set thee among my people as a strong tower, that 
thou mightest know and try their way. Ver. 28. They are all 
revolters of revolters ; go about as slanderers ; brass and iron ; 
they are all dealing corruptingly. Ver. 29. Burned are the 
bellows by the fire, at an end is the lead ; in vain they melt 
and melt ; and wicked ones are not separated. Ver. 30. Re- 
jected silver they call them, for Jahveh hath rejected them." 

In ver. 22 the stumbling-blocks of ver. 21 are explained. 
At the end of this discourse yet again the invasion of the 
enemy from the far north is announced, cf. iv. 13 and v. 15, 
and its terribleness is portrayed with new colours. The farther 
the land is from which the enemy comes, the more strange and 
terrible he appears to the imagination. The farthest (hind- 
most) sides of the earth (cf. xxv. 32) is only a heightening of 
the idea: land of the north, or of the far distance (v. 15) ; in 
other words, the far uttermost north (cf. Isa. xiv. 13). In this 
notice of their home, Hitz. finds a proof that the enemies were 
the Scythians, not the Chaldeans ; since, ace. to Ezek. xxxviii. 
6, 15, and xxxix. 2, Gog, i.e. the Scythians, come " from the 
sides of the north." But " sides of the earth " is not a geogra- 
phical term for any particular northern country, but only for 
very remote lands ; and that the Chaldeans were reckoned as 
falling within this term, is shown by the passage xxxi. 8, 
according to which Israel is to be gathered again from the 
land of the north and from the sides of the earth. Here any 
connection with Scythia in "sides of the earth" is not to be 
thought of, since prophecy knows nothing of a captivity of 

CIIAl'. VI. 22-30. 147 

Israel in Scythia, but regards Assur and Babylon alone as the 

lands of the exile of Israelites and Jews. As weapons of the 

enemy then are mentioned bows (cf. iv. 29, v. 16), and the 

javelin or lance (P" I ' , 3, not shield; see on 1 Sam. xvii. 6). Ir 

is cruel, knows no pity, and is so numerous and powerful, that 

its voice, i.e. the tumult of its approach, is like the roaring of 

the sea; cf. Isa. v. 30, xvii. 12. On horses they ride; cf. iv. 

13, viii. 16, Hab. i. 8. TJViy in the singular, answering to 

" cruel it is," points back to *fe or BP. BNjtt i s not for inx vhfS 

(Ros.), but for norta p>io, cf. 1 Sam. xvii. 33, Isa. xiii. 13; 

and the genitive is omitted only because of the HDrte? coming 

immediately after (Graf). " Against thee " is dependent on 

^"ijf: equipped as a warrior is equipped for the war, against 

the daughter of Zion. In vers. 24-26 are set forth the terrors 

and the suspense which the appearance of the foe will spread 

abroad. In ver. 24 the prophet, as a member of the people, 

gives utterance to its feelings. As to the sense, the clauses are 

to be connected thus : As soon as we hear the rumour of the 

people, i.e. of its approach, our hands become feeble through 

dread, all power to resist vanishes : cf. Isa. xiii. 7 ; and for the 

metaphor of travail, Isa. xiii. 8, Mic. iv. 9, etc. In ver. 28 the 

inhabitants of Jerusalem, personified as the daughter of Zion, 

are warned not to go forth of the city into the field or about 

the country, lest they fall into the enemies' hands and be put. 

to death, ^aiso "tiao ? often used by Jeremiah, cf. xx. 3, 10, xlvi. 

5, xlix. 29, and, as xx. 10 shows, taken from Ps. xxxi. 14. 

Fear or terrors around, i.e. on all sides danger and destruction 

threaten. — Ver. 26. Sorest affliction will seize the inhabitants 

of Jerusalem. As to ''daughter of my people," cf. iv. 11 ; on 

u gird thee with sackcloth," cf . iv. 8. To bestrew the head with 

ashes is a mode of expressing the greatest affliction ; cf. Ezek. 

xxvii. 30, Mic. i. 10. TITJ «x as in Amos viii. 10, Zech. xii. 10. 

The closing verses of this discourse (27-30) are regarded by 

Hitz. as a meditation upon the results of his labours. u He 

was to try the people, and he found it to be evil." But in this 

he neglects the connection of these verses with the preceding. 

From the conclusion of ver. 30, " Jahveh hath rejected them," 

we may see that they stand connected in matter with the 

threatening of the spoiler ; and the fact is put beyond a doubt 


when we compare together the greater subdivisions of the 
present discourse. The vers. 27-30 correspond in substance 
with the view given in v. 30, 31 of the moral character of 
the people. As that statement shows the reasons for the 
threatening that God must take vengeance on such a people 
(v. 29), so what is said in the verses before us explain why it 
is threatened that a people approaching from the north will 
execute judgment without mercy on the daughter of Zion. 
For these verses do not tell us only the results of the prophet's 
past labours, but they at the same time indicate that his further 
efforts will be without effect. The people is like copper and 
iron, unproductive of either gold or silver ; and so the smelting 
process is in vain. The illustration and the thing illustrated 
are not strictly discriminated in the statement. Jina is adject. 
verb, with active force : he that tries metal, that by smelting 
separates the slag from the gold and silver ore ; cf . Zech. xiii. 9, 
Job xxiii. 10. " l -f?P creates a difficulty, and is very variously 
understood. The ancient comm. have interpreted it, according 
to i. 18, as either in a fortress, or as a fortress. So the Chald., 
changing pro for lira : electwn dcdi te in populo meo, in uvbe 
vnunita forti. Jerome : datur propheta populo incredulo pro- 
bator robicstus, quod ebraice dicitur "1X3D, quod vel munitum ju.vta 
AquiL, vel clausum atque circumdatum juxta Symm. et LXX. 
sonat. The extant text of the LXX. has iv \aols SeSoKc/xacr- 
[xevois. Following the usage of the language, we are justified 
only in taking "ttttl? as apposition to |in3, or to the suffix in 
Tfifi? ; in which case Luther's connection of it with W, " among 
my people, which is so hard," will appear to be impossible. 
But again, it has been objected, not without reason, that the 
reference of " fortress " to Jeremiah is here opposed to the 
context, while in i. 18 it falls well in with it ; consequently 
other interpretations have been attempted. Gaab, Maur., Hitz., 
have taken note of the fact that "IV3 occurs in Job xxxvi. 19, 
like tya in the signification of gold ; they take "1X2D as a con- 
traction for "1X3 JO, and expound : without gold, i.e. although 
then was there no gold, to try for which was thy task. To 
this view Graf has objected : the testing would be wholly pur- 
poseless, if it was already declared beforehand that there was 
no noble metal in the people. But this objection is not con- 

CHAP. VI. 22-30. 149 

elusive ; for the testing could only have as its aim to exhibit the 
real character of the people, so as to bring home to the people's 
apprehension what was already well known to God. These 
are weightier considerations : 1. We cannot make sure of the 
meaning gold-ore for 1^2 by means of Job xxxvi. 19, since the 
interpretation there is open to dispute ; and i>'3, Job xxii. 24, 
does not properly mean gold, but unworked ore, though in its 
connection with the context we must understand virgin gold 
and silver ore in its natural condition. Here, accordingly, we 
would be entitled to translate only : without virgin ore, native 
metal. 2. The choice of a word so unusual is singular, and 
the connection of "fiOD with ^V is still very harsh. Yet less 
satisfactory is the emendation defended by J. D. Mich., Dahl, 
E\v., and Graf, TO? : " for a trier have I made thee among my 
people, for a separater;" for "»?3 has in Heb. only the meaning 
cut off and fortify, and the Pi. occurs in Isa. xxii. 10 and Jer. 
li. 53 in the latter meaning, whereas the signif. separate, dis- 
criminate, can be maintained neither from Hebrew nor Arabic 
usage. The case being so, it seems to us that the interpretation 
ace. to i. 18 has most to be said for it : To be a trier have I 
set thee amid my people u as a strong tower ;" and to this Ges., 
Dietr. in Lex. s.v., adhere. — Ver. 28 gives a statement as to the 
moral character of the people. " Kevolters of revolters " is a 
kind of superlative, and "HD is to be derived from T]D, not from 
"WD, perverse of perverse ; or, as Hitz., imitating the Heb. 
phrase, rebels of the rebellious. Going about as slanderers, 
see on Lev. xix. 16, in order to bring others into difficulties ; 
cf. Ezek. xxii. 9. To this is subjoined the figurative expression : 
brass and iron, i.e. ignoble metal as contrasted with gold and 
silver, cf. Ezek. xxii. 18 ; and to this, again, the unfigurative 
statement : they are all dealing corruptingly. DWrtBfo, cf. Isa. 
i. 4, Deut. xxxi. 29. There is no sufficient reason for joining 
Op3 with the preceding : brass and iron, as Hitz. and Graf do 
in defiance of the accents. — Ver. 29. The trial of the people 
has brought about no purification, no separation of the wicked 
ones. The trial is viewed under the figure of a long-continued 
but resultless process of smelting, inj, Niph. from Tin, to be 
burnt, scorched, as in Ezek. xv. 4. DJWKO is to be broken up, 
as in the Keri, into two words : Bfct? and on (from Den). For 


there does not occur any feminine form n$K from W8, nor any- 
plural W (even hew forms the plur. O^N), so as to admit of 
our reading QOE'SO or Dnb'tfO. Nor would the plur., if there 
were one, be suitable ; Ew.'s assertion that rii$N means flames 
of fire is devoid of all proof. We connect B^O with what 
precedes : Burnt are the bellows with fire, at an end is the lead. 
Others attach " by the fire " to what follows : By the fire is the 
lead consumed. The thought is in either case the same, only 
QFi is not the proper word for: to be consumed. Sense: the 
smelting has been carried on so perseveringly, that the bellows 
have been scorched by the heat of the fire, and the lead added 
in order to get the ore into fusion is used up ; but they have 
gone on smelting quite in vain. ^X with indefinite subject, 
and the injin. absol. added to indicate the long duration of the 
experiment. In the last clause of the verse the result is 
mentioned in words without a figure : The wicked have not been 
separated out (prop., torn asunder from the mass). — Ver. 30. 
The final statement of the case : They call them (the whole 
people) rejected silver, i.e. they are recognised as such ; for 
Jahveh has rejected them, has given over trying to make 
anything of them. 


This discourse divides itself into three sections. Starting 
with the people's confident reliance in the possession of the 
temple and the legal sacrificial worship, Jeremiah in the first 
section, by pointing to the destruction of Shiloh, where in the 
old time the sanctuary of the ark of the covenant had been, 
shows that Jerusalem and Judah will not escape the fate of 
Shiloh and the kingdom of Ephraim, in case they persist in 
their stiffneckedness against the Lord their God (ch. vii. 1- 
viii. 3). For the confirmation of this threatening he goes on, 
in the second section, further to tell of the people's determined 
resistance to all reformation, and to set forth the terrible visita- 
tion which hardened continuance in sin draws down on itself 
(ch. viii. 4-ix. 21). To the same end he finally, in the third 

CHAP. VII.-X. 151 

section, points out the meaug of escape from impending destruc- 
tion, showing that the way to safety and life lies in acknowledg- 
ing the Lord as the only, everlasting, and almighty God, and 
in seeing the nothingness of the false gods ; and, as the fruit 
of such knowledge, he inculcates the fear of the Lord, and 
self-humiliation under His mighty hand (ch. ix. 22-x. 25). 

This discourse also was not uttered at any one particular 
time before the people in the temple, and in the shape in which 
it comes before us ; but it has been gathered into one uniform 
whole, out of several oral addresses delivered in the temple by 
Jeremiah upon various occasions in the days of Josiah. Accord- 
ing to ch. xxvi., Jeremiah, at the beginning of the reign of 
Jehoiakim, and in the court of the temple before the people, 
uttered the threatening that if they would not hear the words 
addressed to them by the prophets, nor reform their lives, the 
Lord would make the temple like Shiloh, and make the city a 
curse to all nations. For this speech he was found worthy of 
death by the priests and false prophets, and was saved only 
through the interference of the princes of the people. Now the 
present discourse opposes to the people's vain confidence in the 
temple the solemn warning that the temple will share the fate 
of Shiloh ; and hence many commentators, especially Graf and 
Nag., have inferred the identity of this with the discourse in 
ch. xxvi., and have referred its composition to the beginning of 
Jehoiakim's reign. But the agreement of the two chapters on 
this one point is not sufficient to justify such an inference. 
Jeremiah is wont often to repeat his leading thoughts in his 
discourses ; and so it is not unlikely that more than once, during 
the eighteen years of his ministry under Josiah, he may have 
held up the fate of Shiloh and the sanctuary there, as a warn- 
ing to the people which built its confidence on the possession 
of the temple and the performance of the legal cultus. If the 
foundation even of the first section of the present discourse 
were to be found in that given in ch. xxvi., taken in connection 
with the impression it made on the priests and prophets, with 
the violent feeling it excited, and the storm against Jeremiah 
which it called forth, then certainly the continuation of this 
discourse from vii. 16 onwards would have been something 
different from what we find it. In writing down the discourse. 


Jeremiah would certainly not have passed immediately from 
threatening the people with the fate of Shiloh to the repudia- 
tion of all intercessory prayers, and to the statement there made 
as to the sacrificial service. This we mention without entering 
on the discussion of the other portions of the discourse. In the 
whole of the rest of the discourse, as continued ch. viii.-x., there 
is not the least trace of hostility against Jeremiah on the part 
of priests or people, or any hint of anything that would carry 
us beyond the time of Josiah into the reign of Jehoiakim. 

Chap. vii. 1-viii. 3. Warning against a false trust in 


does not afford protection from the threatened punishment. If 
Judah does not change its manner of life, the temple will suffer 
the fate of Shiloh, and Judah will, like Ephraim, be rejected by 
the Lord (vers. 1-15). Neither intercession on behalf of the 
corrupt race, nor the multitude of its burnt and slain offerings, 
will turn aside from Jerusalem the visitation of wrath (vers. 
16-28) ; for the Lord has cast away the hardened sinners on 
account of their idolatry, and will make Jerusalem and Judah 
a field of death (ver. 29-viii. 3). 

Vers. 1-15. The vanity of trusting in the temple. — Ver. 1. 
" The word that came to Jeremiah from Jahveli, saying, Ver. 2. 
Stand in the gate of the house of Jahveh, and proclaim there 
this word, and say, Hear the word of Jahveh, all ye of Judah, 
that enter these gates to worship before Jahveh : Ver. 3. Thus 
hath spoken Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel, Make your 
ways and your doings good, and I will cause you to dwell in 
this place. Ver. 4. Trust ye not in lying words, when they say, 
The temple of Jahveh, the temple of Jahveh, the temple of 
Jahveh, is this. Ver. 5. But if ye thoroughly make your ways 
good, and your doings ; if ye thoroughly execute right amongst 
one another ; Ver. 6. Oppress not stranger, fatherless, and 
widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither follow 
after other gods to your hurt; Ver. 7. Then I cause you to 
dwell in this place, in the land which I have given unto your 
fathers, from eternity nnto eternity. Ver. 8. Behold, ye trust 
in lying words, though they profit not. Ver. 9. How? to steal, 
to murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and offer 

CHAP. VII. 1-15. 153 

odours to Baal, and to walk after other gods whom ye know- 
not ? Ver. 10. And then ye come and stand before my face in 
this house, upon which my name is named, and think, We are 
saved to do all these abominations. Ver. 11. Is then this house 
become a den of murderers, over which my name is named, in 
your eyes ? I too, behold, have seen it, saith Jahveh. Ver. 
12. For go ye now to my place which was at Shiloh, where I 
formerly caused my name to dwell, and see what I have done 
unto it for the wickedness of my people Israel. Ver. 13. And 
now, because ye do all these deeds, saith Jahveh, and I have 
spoken to you, speaking from early morning on, and ye have 
not heard ; and I have called you, and ye have not answered; 
Ver. 14. Therefore I do unto this house, over which my name 
is named, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I have 
given to you and to your fathers, as I have done unto Shiloh. 
Ver. 15. And cast you away from my face, as I have cast away 
all your brethren, the whole seed of Ephraim." 

Ver. 2. The gate of the temple into which the prophet was 
to go and stand, is doubtless one of the three gates of the inner 
or upper court, in which he could stand and address the people 
gathered before him in the outer court ; perhaps the same in 
which Baruch read Jeremiah's prophecies to the people, xxxvi. 
10 (Schmid, Hitz.). The gates through which the people 
entered to worship are those of the outer court. The form of 
address: All Judah, ye who enter, etc., warrant us in assuming 
that Jeremiah delivered this discourse at one of the great 
annual festivals, when the people were wont to gather to Jeru- 
salem from the length and breadth of the land. — Ver. 3 con- 
tains the central idea of the discourse : it is only morally good 
endeavours and deeds that give the people a sure title to a lono- 
lease of the land. !JT1 3»B»n is not merely, amend one's con- 
duct ; but, make one's way good, i.e. lead a good life. The 
"ways" mean the tendency of life at large, the "doings" are 
the individual manifestations of that tendency; cf. xviii. 11, 
xxvi. 13. " In this place," i.e. in the land that I have given to 
your fathers; cf. ver. 7 and xiv. 13 with ver. 15, xxiv. 5, 6. 
Positive exhortation to a pure life is followed by negative dehor- 
tation from putting trust in the illusion : The temple, etc. The 
threefold repetition of the same word is the most marked way 


of laying very great emphasis upon it ; cf. xxii. 29, Isa. vi. 3. 
"These," these halls, the whole complex mass of buildings 
(Hitz.), as in 2 Chron. viii. 11 ; and here nftn has the force of 
the neuter ; cf. Ew. § 318, b. The meaning of this emphatic 
way of mentioning the temple of the Lord is, in this connec- 
tion, the following : Jerusalem cannot be destroyed by enemies, 
because the Lord has consecrated for the abode of His name 
that temple which is in Jerusalem ; for the Lord will not give 
His sanctuary, the seat of His throne, to be a prey to the 
heathen, but will defend it, and under its protection we too may 
dwell safely. In the temple of the Lord we have a sure pledge 
for unbroken possession of the land and the maintenance of the 
kingdom. Cf. the like discourse in Mic. iii. 11, " Jahveh is in 
our midst, upon us none evil can come." This passage like- 
wise shows that the " lying words" quoted are the sayings of 
the false prophets, whereby they confirmed the people in their 
secure sinfulness ; the mass of the people at the same time so 
making these sayings their own as to lull themselves into the 
sense of security. — Ver. 5. Over against such sayings Jeremiah 
puts that which is the indispensable condition of continued so- 
journ in the land. *3, ver. 5, after a preceding negative clause, 
means : but on the contrary. This condition is a life morally 
good, that shall show itself in doing justice, in putting away all 
unrighteousness, and in giving up idolatry. With DX begins a 
list of the things that belong to the making of one's ways and 
doings good. The adjunct to BS?'*?, right, "between the man 
and his neighbour," shows that the justice meant is that they 
should help one man to his rights against another. The law 
attached penalties to the oppression of those who needed protec- 
tion — strangers, orphans, widows; cf. Ex. xxii. 21 ff., Deut. 
xxiv. 17 ff., xxvii. 19 ; and the prophets often denounce the 
same ; ef. Isa. i. 17, 23, x. 2, Ezek. xxii. 7, Zech. vii. 10, Mai. 
iii. 5, Ps. xciv. 6, etc. UBKTI"7K for 'TTifo is noteworthy, but 
is not a simple equivalent for it. Like ov fir), •&? implies a 
deeper interest on the part of the speaker, and the sense here 
is : and ye be really determined not to shed innocent blood 
(cf. Ew. § 320, b). Hitz.'s explanation, that ?i? is equal to 
X? "iK'X or fcO DX, and that it here resumes again the now remote 
DX ? is overturned by the consideration that «? is not at the be- 

CHAP. VII. 1-J5. 155 

ginning of the clause; and there is not the slightest probability 
in Graf's view, that the ?N must have come into the text through 
the copyist, who had in his mind the similar clause in xxii. 3. 
Shedding innocent blood refers in part to judicial murders 
(condemnation of innocent persons), in part to violent attacks 
made by the kings on prophets and godly men, such as Ave hear 
of in Manasseh's case, 2 Kings xxi. 16. In this place (ver. 7), 
i.e. first and foremost Jerusalem, the metropolis, where moral 
corruption had its chief seat ; in a wider sense, however, it 
means the whole kingdom of Judah (vers. 3 and 7). "To 
your hurt " belongs to all the above-mentioned transgressions 
of the law; cf. xxv. 7. "In the land," etc., explains "this 
place." " From eternity to eternity" is a rhetorically heightened 
expression for the promise given to the patriarchs, that God 
would give the land of Canaan to their posterity for an ever- 
lasting possession, Gen. xvii. 8 ; although here it belongs not 
to the relative clause, " that I gave," but to the principal clause, 
" cause you to dwell," as in Ex. xxxii. 13. 

In ver. 8 there is a recurrence to the warning of ver. 4, under 
the form of a statement of fact; and in vers. 9-11 it is ex- 
panded to this effect : The affirmation that the temple of the 
Lord affords protection is a sheer delusion, so long as all God's 
commandments are being audaciously broken. ?*JJin TO lit. 
to no profiting: ye rely on lying words, without there beino- 
any possibility that they should profit you. — Ver. 9. The query 
before the injin. absoll. is the expression of wonder and indig- 
nation ; and the infinitives are used with special emphasis for 
the verb. Jin. : How ? to steal, kill, etc., is your practice, and 
then ye come. . . . — Ver. 10. Breaches of almost all the com- 
mandments are specified ; first the eighth, sixth, and seventh 
of the second table, and then two commandments of the first 
table ; cf. Hos. iv. 2. Swearing falsely is an abuse of God's 
name. In " offer odours to Baal," Baal is the representation 
of the false gods. The phrase, other gods, points to the first 
commandment, Ex. xx. 3 ; and the relative clause : whom ye 
knew not, stands in opposition to : I am Jahveh your God, who 
hath brought you out of Egypt. They knew not the other 
gods, because they had not made themselves known to them 
in benefits and blessings ; cf. xix. 4. While they so daringly 


break all God's commands, they yet come before His face in 
the temple which Jahveh has chosen to reveal His name there. 
'131 N~ii?J "iBte is not : which bears my name (Hitz.) ; or: on which 
my name is bestowed, which is named after me (Graf). The 
name of Jahveh is the revelation of Himself, and the meaning 
is : on which I have set my glory, in which I have made my 
glorious being known ; see on Deut. xxviii. 10 and Amos ix. 
12. We are saved, sc. from all the evils that threaten us, i.e. 
we are concealed, have nothing to fear ; cf. Ezek. xiv. 16, 18, 
Amos iii. 12. The perfect denotat firmam persuasionem inco- 
lumilatis. Ch. B. Mich. By changing «j*a into WIO, as 
Ewald, following the Syr., reads, the sense is weakened, jy^ 
Iii nib'J? is neither : as regards what we have done, nor : because 
= while or whereas ye have done (Hitz.), but : in order to do, 
that ye may do. \$o? with the infiii., as with the per/., has 
never the signif., because of or in reference to something past 
and done, but always means, with the view of doing something ; 
English : to the end that. The thought is simply this : Ye 
appear in my temple to sacrifice and worship, thinking thus to 
appease my wrath and turn aside all punishment, that so ye 
may go on doing all these (in ver. 9 enumerated) abominations. 
By frequenting the temple, they thought to procure an indul- 
gence for their wicked ongoings, not merely for what they had 
already done, but for what they do from day to day. — Ver. 11. 
To expose the senselessness of such an idea, God asks if they 
take the temple for a den of robbers 1 " In your eyes" goes 
with i"^n : is it become in your eyes, i.e. do ye take it for such % 
If thieves, murderers, adulterers, etc., gathered to the temple, 
and supposed that by appearing there they procured the abso- 
lution of their sins, they were in very act declaring the temple 
to be a robbers' retreat. T"}3, the violent, here : the house- 
breaker, robber. I, too, have seen, sc. that the temple is made 
by you a den of thieves, and will deal accordingly. This com- 
pletion of the thought appears from the context. — Ver. 12. 
The temple is to undergo the fate of the former sanctuary 
at Shiloh. This threat is introduced by a grounding , 3, for. 
This for refers to the central idea of the last verse, that 
they must not build their expectations on the temple, hold it 
to be a pledge for their safety. For since the Lord has seen 

CHAP. VII. 1-15. 157 

how they have profaned and still profane it, He will destroy it, 
as the sanctuary at Shiloh was destroyed. The rhetorical mode 
of utterance, Go to the place, etc., contributes to strengthen the 
threatening. Thev were to behold with their own eyes the fate 
of the sanctuary at Shiloh, that so they might understand that 
the sacredness of a place does not save it from overthrow, if 
men have desecrated it by their wickedness. We have no his- 
torical notice of the event to which Jeremiah refers. At Shiloh, 
now Seilun (in ruins), the Mosaic tabernacle was erected after 
the conquest of Canaan (Josh, xviii. 1), and there it was still 
standing in the time of the high priest Eli, 1 Sam. i. 1-3; but 
the ark, which had fallen into the hands of the Philistines at the 
time of their victory (1 Sam. iv.), was not brought back to the 
tabernacle when it was restored again to the Israelites. In the 
reign of Saul we find the tabernacle at Nob (1 Sam. xxi. 2 ff.). 
The words of ver. 12 intimate, that at that time " the place 
of God at Shiloh" was lying in ruins. As Hitz. justly remarks, 
the destruction of it is not to be understood of its gradual 
decay after the removal of the ark (1 Sam. iv. 11, vii. 1 ff.) ; 
the words imply a devastation or destruction, not of the place 
of God at Shiloh only, but of the place Shiloh itself. This 
is clearly seen from ver. 14 : I will do unto this house (the 
temple), and the place which I gave to your fathers, as I have 
done unto Shiloh. This destruction did not take place when 
the Assyrians overthrew the kingdom of the ten tribes, but 
much earlier. It may, indeed, be gathered from Judg. xviii. 20, 
31 (see the comment, on this passage), that it was as early as 
the time of Saul, during a Syrian invasion. By the destruc- 
tion of the place of God at Shiloh, we need not understand 
that the tabernacle itself, with its altar and other sacred furni- 
ture (except the ark), was swept away. Such a view is contra- 
dicted by the statement in 1 Chron. xxi. 29, 2 Chron. i. 3, 
according to which the tabernacle built by Moses in the wilder- 
ness was still standing at Gibeon in David's time, and in the 
beginning of Solomon's reign ; cf. with 2 Chron. i. 5, when the 
brazen altar of burnt-offering is expressly mentioned as that 
which was made by Bezaleel. Hence it is clear that the Mosaic 
tabernacle, with its altar of burnt-offering, had been preserved, 
and consequently that it must have been moved first from 


Shiloli to Nob, and then, when Saul sacked this town (1 Sam. 
xxii.), to Gibeon. The destruction of the place of God in Shiloli 
must accordingly have consisted in this, that not only was the 
tabernacle with the altar carried off from thence, but the build- 
ings necessary in connection with the maintenance of the public 
worship which surrounded it were swept away when the city 
was plundered, so that of the place of the sanctuary nothing 
was left remaining- It is clear that about the tabernacle there 
were various buildings which, along with the tabernacle and its 
altars, constituted " the house of God at Shiloli ;" for in 1 Sam. 
iii. we are told that Samuel slept in the temple of Jahveh 
(ver. 3), and that in the morning he opened the doors of the 
house of God (ver. 15). Hence we may gather, that round 
about the court of the tabernacle there were buildings erected, 
which were used partly as a dwelling-place for the officiating 
priests and Levites, and partly for storing up the heave-offerings, 
and for preparing the thank-offerings at the sacrificial meals 
(1 Sam. ii. 11-21). This whole system of buildings surround- 
ing the tabernacle, with its court and altar of burnt-offering, 
was called the " house of God ;" from which name Graf erro- 
neously inferred that there was at Shiloli a temple like the one 
in Jerusalem. The wickedness of my people, is the Israelites' 
fall into idolatry in Eli's time, because of which the Lord gave 
up Israel into the power of the Philistines and other enemies 
(Judg. xiii. 1 ; cf. 1 Sam. vii. 3). u These deeds" (ver. 13) 
are the sins named in ver. 9. " 1 ?1^) is a continuation of the 
infinitive sentence, and is still dependent on \V\ Speaking from 
early morn, i.e. speaking earnestly and unremittingly ; cf. Gesen. 
§ 131, 3, b. I have called you, i.e. to repent, and ye have not 
answered, i.e. have not repented and turned to me. — Ver. 15. 

1 cast you out from my sight, i.e. drive you forth amongst the 
heathen; cf. Deut. xxix. 27; and with the second clause cf. 

2 Kings xvii. 20. The whole seed of Ephraim is the ten 

Vers. 16-28. This punishment will be turned aside, neither by 
intercession, because the people refuses to give up its idolatry, nor 
by sacrifice, which God desires not, because for long they have 
turned to Him the back and not the face, and have not hearkened 
to His xoords. — Ver. 16. " But thou, pray not for this people, 

CHAP. VII. 1G-28. 159 

and lift not up for them cry and prayer ; and urge me not, for 
I do not hear thee. Ver. 17. Seest thou not what they do in 
the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? Ver. 18. 
The sons gather sticks, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the 
women knead dough, to make cakes for the Queen of heaven, 
and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods, to provoke me. 
Ver. 19. Provoke they me, saith Jahveh, not themselves, to the 
shaming of their face ? Ver. 20. Therefore thus saith the 
Lord Jahveh, Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured 
out on this place, upon man, upon beast, upon the trees of the 
field, and upon the fruit of the ground ; and shall burn, and not 
be quenched. Ver. 21. Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God 
of Israel : Your burnt-offerings add to your slain-offerings, and 
eat flesh. Ver. 22. For I spake not with your fathers, nor 
commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the 
land of Egypt, concerning the matters of burnt-offering or 
slain-offering. Ver. 23. But this word commanded I them, 
saying, Hearken to my voice, and I will be your God, and ye 
shall be my people ; and walk in the way which I command you, 
that it may be well with you. Ver. 24. But they hearkened 
not, nor inclined their ear, and walked in the counsels, in the 
stubbornness of their evil heart, and turned to me the back, 
and not the face. Ver. 25. Since the day that your fathers 
went forth of the land of Egypt until this day, I sent to you 
all my servants the prophets, daily from early morn sending 
them ; Ver. 26. But they hearkened not to me, nor inclined 
their ear, and were stiffnecked, and did worse than their fathers. 
Ver. 27. And though thou speakest all these words unto them, 
yet will they not hearken unto thee ; and though thou callest 
unto them, yet will they not answer thee. Ver. 28. Thus speak 
to them : This is the people that hearken not unto the voice 
of Jahveh its God, and that receive not correction. Perished 
is faithfulness, cut off from their mouth." 

The purport of ver. 16, that God will not suffer Himself to 
be moved by any entreaties to revoke the doom pronounced on 
the wicked people, is expressed by way of a command from God 
to the prophet not to pray for the people. That Jeremiah did 
sometimes pray thus, however, we see from xiv. 19 ff. (cf. xviii. 
20), when to his prayer the same answer is given as we have 


here, and all intercession for the corrupt race is characterized 
as in vain. The second clause : lift not up for them crying, 
i.e. supplicatory prayer, expresses the same, only more strongly ; 
while the third clause : urge me not, cuts off all hope of success 
from even the most importunate intercession. The reason for 
this command to desist is shown in ver. 17, by a reference to 
the idolatry which was openly practised throughout the land by 
young and old, men and women. Each takes part according 
to strength and capacity : the sons gather wood together, the 
fathers set the fire in order, etc. The deity so zealously wor- 
shipped by the people is called the Queen of heaven, and is 
mentioned only by Jeremiah. Besides here, there is reference 
to her in xliv. 17, where we see that her worship was very dili- 
gently cultivated, and that she was adored as the bestower of 
earthly possessions. (H3?0 is stat. const?'., either from the Chald. 
form w?) or from n ?V'? ; after the analogy of T133 } st. constr. 
of n"V33 ; but perhaps it has J"i3?E> in stat. abs.) This worship 
was combined with that of the stars, the host of heaven, which 
especially prevailed under Manasseh (2 Kings xxi. 5). Thence 
it may be presumed that the Queen of heaven was one of the 
deities who came to Western Asia with the Assyrians, and that 
she corresponds to the Assyrian-Persian Tanais and Artemis, 
who in the course of time took the place once occupied by the 
closely related Phoenician Astarte. She is originally a deifica- 
tion of the moon, the Assyrian Selene and Virgo coelestis, who, 
as supreme female deity, was companion to Baal-Moloch as 
sun-god ; cf. Movers, PJwnizier, i. S. 623 ff. With this accords 
the statement of Steph. Byz., that aeXtfvn is also irrjiravov ti 
tw a<JTp(p Trapaiik^aLov. The offerings which, ace. to this 
verse and ch. xliv. 19, were brought to her, are called B 1 ^?, a 
word which would appear to have come to the Hebrews along 
with the foreign cultus. Bv the LXX. it was Grecized into 
yavwvas, for which we find in glossators and codd. Kav&vas and 
yaj3(ava<;. They were, ace. to the Etymol. magn. and Suidas, 
aprot i\al(p ava(pvpa6evT6<; or \dyava o7rra (? cooked vege- 
tables) ; ace. to Jerome, y^avwvas, qnas nos placentas interpretati 
sumus. In any case, they were some kind of sacrificial cakes, which 
Vitr. put alongside of the iroirava of Aristophanes and Lucian ; 
cf. the various interpretations in Schleussner, Lexic. in LXX. 

CHAP. Vir. 1C-2S. 161 

s.v. yavcov. These cakes were kindled on the altar (cf. D^TtopO, 
xliv. 19) as a kind of Minchali (meat-offering), and with this 
Minchah a libation or drink-offering (E^pa) was combined. 
■qDn corresponds to ni^'l>?, so that ? has to be repeated ; cf. 
xliv. 19, 25, where we find libations ponred out to the Queen 
of heaven. In the 18th verse the expression is generalized into 
"other gods," with reference to the fact that the service of the 
Queen of heaven was but one kind of idolatry along with 
others, since other strange gods were worshipped by sacrifices 
and libations. To provoke me ; cf. Deut. xxxi. 29. xxxii. 16, 
etc. — Ver. 19. But instead of vexing Him (Jahveh) they rather 
vex themselves, inasmuch as God causes the consequences of 
their idolatry to fall on their own head. CHX is used reflex- 
ively : se ipsos ; cf. Ew. § 314, c; Gesen. § 124, 1, b. For the 
cause of the shame of their face, i.e. to prepare for themselves 
the shame of their face, to cover their face with shame ; cf . iii. 
25. — For (ver. 20) because of this idolatrous work, the wrath 
of the Lord will pour itself over the land in the consuming fire 
of war (cf. iv. 4 with v. 17, Nah. i. 6, etc.), so as to cut off men 
and beasts, trees and fruit. — Ver. 21. The multiplication of 
burnt and slain offerings will not avert judgment. Your burnt- 
offerings add to your slain-offerings. In the case of the ^n??, 
the greater part of the flesh was eaten at the sacrificial meals 
by those who brought them. Along with these they might put 
the burnt-offerings, which were wont to be burnt entire upon 
the altar, and eat them also. The words express indignation at 
the sacrifices of those who were so wholly alienated from God. 
God had so little pleasure in their sacrifices, that they might 
eat of the very burnt-offerings. 

To show the reason of what is here said, Jeremiah adds, in 
ver. 22, that God had not commanded their fathers, when He 
led them out of Egypt, in the matter of burnt and slain 
offerings, but this word : " Hearken to my voice, and I will 
be your God," etc. The Keri WSrin is a true exegesis, ace. to 
xi. 4, xsxiv. 13, but is unnecessary ; cf. Gen. xxiv. 30, xxv. 26, 
etc. This utterance has been erroneously interpreted by the 
majority of commentators, and has been misused by modern 
criticism to make good positions as to the late origin of the 
Pentateuch. To understand it aright, we must carefully take 

VOL. I. L 


into consideration not merely the particular terms of the present 
passage, but the context as well. In the two verses as they 
stand there is the antithesis : Not ran rbty 'nan hv did God 
speak and give command to the fathers, when He led them out 
of Egypt, but commanded the word : Hearken to my voice, etc. 
The last word immediately suggests Ex. xix. 5 : If ye will 
hearken to my voice, then shall ye be my peculiar treasure out 
of all peoples ; and it points to the beginning of the law-giving, 
the decalogue, and the fundamental principles of the law of 
Israel, in Ex. xx.-xxiii., made known in order to the conclusion 
of the covenant in xxiv., after the arrival at Sinai of the people 
marching from Egypt. The promise : Then will I be your God, 
etc., is not given in these precise terms in Ex. xix. 5 ff. ; but it is 
found in the account of Moses' call to be the leader of the people 
in their exodus, Ex. vi. 7 ; and then repeatedly in the promises 
of covenant blessings, if Israel keep all the commandments of 
God, Lev. xxvi. 12, Deut. xxvi. 18. Hence it is clear that 
Jeremiah had before his mind the taking of the covenant, but 
did not bind himself closely to the words of Ex. xix. 5, adopting 
his expression from the passages of Leviticus and Deuteronomy 
which refer to and reaffirm that transaction. If there be still 
any doubt on this head, it will be removed by the clause : 
and walk in all the way which I command you this day (DrDPHl 
is a continuation of the imper. WJX'). The expression : to walk 
in all the way God has commanded, is so unusual, that it occurs 
only once besides in the whole Old Testament, viz. Deut. v. 30, 
after the renewed inculcation of the ten commandments. And 
they then occur with the addition D3? 3iDl jvnn \Vu? f in which 
we cannot fail to recognise the 33? 2D" ]]}u? of our verse 
Hence we assume, without fear of contradiction, that Jeremiah 
was keeping the giving of the law in view, and specially the 
promulgation of the fundamental law of the book, namely of 
the decalogue, which was spoken by God from out of the fire on 
Sinai, as Moses in Deut. v. 23 repeats with marked emphasis. 
In this fundamental law we find no prescriptions as to burnt 
or slain offerings. On this fact many commentators, following 
Jerome, have laid stress, and suppose the prophet to be speaking 
of the first act of the law-giving, arguing that the Torah of offer- 
ing in the Pentateuch was called for first by the worship of the 

CHAP. VII. 1C-2S. 163 

golden calf, after which time God held it to be necessary to 
give express precepts as to the presenting of offerings, so as to 
prevent idolatry. But this view does not at all agree with 
the historical fact. For the worship of the calf was subsequent 
to the law on the building of the altar on which Israel was to 
offer burnt and slain offerings, Ex. xx. 24 ; to the institution of 
the daily morning and evening sacrifice, Ex. xxix. 38 ff. ; and 
to the regulation as to the place of worship and the consecra- 
tion of the priests, Ex. xxv.-xxxi. But besides, any difficulty 
in our verses is not solved by distinguishing between a first 
and a second law-giving, since no hint of any such contrast is 
found in our verse, but is even entirely foreign to the precise 
terms of it. The antithesis is a different one. The stress in 
ver. 23 lies on : hearken to the voice of the Lord, and on 
walking in all the way which God commanded to the people at 
Sinai. " To walk in all the way God commanded" is in sub- 
stance the same as " not to depart from all the words which I 
command you this day," as Moses expands his former exhorta- 
tion in Deut. xxviii. 14, when he is showing the blessings of 
keeping the covenant. Hearkening to God's voice, and walking 
in all His commandments, are the conditions under which 
Jahveh will be a God to the Israelites, and Israel a people to 
Him, i.e. His peculiar people from out of all the peoples of 
the earth. This word of God is not only the centre of the act 
of taking the covenant, but of the whole Sinaitic law-giving ; 
and it is so both with regard to the moral law and to the cere- 
monial precepts, of which the law of sacrifice constituted the 
chief part. If yet the words demanding the observance of the 
whole law be set in opposition to the commandments as to 
sacrifices, and if it be said that on this latter head God com- 
manded nothing when He led Israel out of Egypt, then it may 
be replied that the meaning of the words cannot be : God has 
given no law of sacrifice, and desires no offerings. The sense 
can only be : When the covenant was entered into, God did 
not speak *T3W ?y, i.e. as to the matters of burnt and slain 
offerings. *)T\ h)3 is not identical with ">^-^y. T\% n:n art- 
words or things that concern burnt and slain offerings : that 
is, practically, detailed prescriptions regarding sacrifice. 

The purport of the two verses is accordingly as follows: 


When the Lord entered into covenant with Israel at Sinai, He 
insisted on their hearkening to His voice and walking in all 
His commandments, as the condition necessary for bringing 
about the covenant relationship, in which He was to be God to 
Israel, and Israel a people to Him; but He did not at that time 
give all the various commandments as to the presenting of 
sacrifices. Such an intimation neither denies the divine origin of 
the Torah of sacrifice in Leviticus, nor discredits its character 
as a part of the Sinaitic legislation. 1 All it implies is, that the 
giving of sacrifices is not the thing of primary importance in the 
law, is not the central point of the covenant laws, and that so 
long as the cardinal precepts of the decalogue are freely trans- 
gressed, sacrifices neither are desired by God, nor secure covenant 
blessings for those who present them. That this is what is meant 
is shown by the connection in which our verse stands. The 
words : that God did not give command as to sacrifice, refer to 
the sacrifices brought by a people that recklessly broke all the 
commandments of the decalogue (ver. 9 f.), in the thought 
that by means of these sacrifices they were proving themselves 

1 After Vatke's example, Hitz. and Graf find in our verses a testimony 
against the Mosaic origin of the legislation of the Pentateuch as a whole, and 
they conclude " that at the time of Jeremiah nothing was known of a legis- 
lation on sacrifice given by God on Sinai." Here, besides interpreting our 
verses erroneously, they cannot have taken into account the fact that Jere- 
miah himself insists on the law of the Sabbath, xvii. 20 ff. ; that amongst 
the blessings in which Israel will delight in Messianic times yet to come, he 
accounts the presenting of burnt, slain, and meat offerings, xvii. 26, xxxi. 14, 
xxxiii. 11, 18. It is consequently impossible that, without contradicting 
himself, Jeremiah could have disallowed the sacrificial worship. The asser- 
tion that he did so is wholly incompatible with the fact recorded in 2 Kings 
xxii., the discovery of the book of the law of Moses in the temple, in the 
eighteenth year of Josiah's reign ; and that, too, whether, justly interpreting 
the passage, we hold the book of the law to be the Pentateuch, or whether, 
f ollowiug the view maintained by the majority of modern critics, we take it 
to be the book of Deuteronomy, which was then for the first time composed 
and given to the king as Moses' work. For in Deuteronomy also the laws 
on sacrifice are set forth as a divine institution. Is it credible or conceiv- 
able, that in a discourse delivered, as most recent commentators believe, in 
the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign, Jeremiah should have spoken of the 
laws on sacrifice as not commanded by God ? For in so doing he would 
have undermined the authority of the book of the law, on which his entire 
prophetic labours were based. 

CHAP. VII. 1G-23. 165 

to be the covenant people, and that to them as such God was 
bound to bestow the blessings of His covenant. It is therefore 
with justice that Oehler, in Herzog's Realencyhl. xii. S. 228, 
says : " In the sense that the righteousness of the people and 
the continuance of its covenant relationship were maintained by- 
sacrifice as such — in this sense Jahveh did not ordain sacrifices 
in the Torah." Such a soulless service of sacrifice is repudiated 
by Samuel in 1 Sam. xv. 22, when he says to Saul : Hath 
.Jahveh delight in burnt and slain offerings, as in hearkening to 
the voice of Jahveh ? Behold, to hearken is better than sacrifice, 
etc. So in Ps. xl. 7, 1. 8 ff., li. 18, and Isa. i. 11 f., Jer. vi. 20, 
Amos v. 22. What is here said differs from these passages 
only in this: Jeremiah does not simply say that God has no 
pleasure in such sacrifices, but adds the inference that the Lord 
does not desire the sacrifices of a people that have fallen away 
from Him. This Jeremiah gathers from the history of the 
giving of the law, and from the fact that, when God adopted 
Israel as His people, He demanded not sacrifices, but their 
obedience to His word and their walking in His ways. The 
design of Jeremiah's addition was the more thoroughly to crush 
all such vain confidence in sacrifices. 

Ver. 24 ff. But they have not regarded that which was 
foremost and most cardinal in the law. They hearkened not, 
sc. to my voice ; and instead of walking in the ways commanded, 
they walked in the counsels of the stubbornness of their evil 
heart, nfrlfba is stat. absol., and IWlBfa is co-ordinated with it 
in apposition, instead of being subordinated ; cf. Ew. § 289, c. 
The LXX. have not seen their way to admit such a co-ordina- 
tion, and so have omitted the second term ; and in this, Movers, 
Hitz., and Graf have followed them, deleting the word as a 

mere gloss. As to " the stubbornness of their evil heart," 

... ■ i 

see on in. 17. "^nxp V.T, they were backwards, not forwards, 

i.e. they so walked as to turn to me the back and not the face. 
jTH with ? expresses the direction or aim of a thing. The sub- 
ject to these clauses is the Israelites from the time of Moses 
down to that of Jeremiah. This is shown by the continuation 
of the same idea in vers. 25 and 26. From the time the fathers 
were led out of Egypt till the present time, God has with 
anxious care been sending prophets to exhort and warn them ; 


but they have not hearkened, they have made their neck hard, 
i.e. were stiff necked, and did worse than their fathers, i.e. each 
succeeding generation did more wickedly than that which pre- 
ceded it. On Di s n JOT, (the period) from the day . . . until . . . 
cf. the remarks on Hagg. ii. 18. The ? gives to the mention 
of the time the value of an independent clause, to which that 
which is said regarding that time is joined by 1 consec. Cri 11 is 
adverbial accusative : by the day, i.e. daily, in early morn, i.e. 
with watchful care sending (on this expression, see at ver. 13). 
DV acquires this sense, not in virtue of its standing for Di 11 Di*, 
but by reason of its connection with the two infinitives absoll. — 
Ver. 27. Just as little will they listen to Jeremiah's words. ^"}?T. 
with \ consec. is properly : Speak to them, and they will not 
hearken to thee, for : Even if thou speakest to them, they will 
not hearken to thee. — Ver. 28. Hence the prophet will be bound 
to say to them : This is the people that hath not hearkened to 
the voice of God. On this Chr. B. Mich, makes this remark : 
Etsi adhortalionibus tuis non obedient, tarnen, nt sciant quales sint 
et quae pcenw ipsos maneanl, dicas eis. Perished or gone is 
faithfulness, and cut off out of their mouth. They have violated 
the fidelity they owed to God, by not hearkening to His voice, 
by breaking all His commandments (cf. vers. 23 and 9). " Out 
of their mouth" is used instead of " out of the heart," because 
they continually make profession with their mouth of their de- 
votion to God, e.g. swear by Jahveh, but always lyingly, ver. 2. 
Ver. 29-chap. viii. 3. Therefore the Lord has rejected the 
backsliding people, so that it shall perish shamefully. — Ver. 29. 
" Cut off thy diadem (daughter of Zion), and cast it away, and 
lift up a lamentation on the bald peaked mountains ; for the Lord 
hath rejected and cast out the generation of His wrath. Ver. 30. 
For the sons of Judah have done the evil in mine eyes, saith 
Jahveh, have put their abominations in the house on which 
my name is named, to pollute it ; Ver. 31. And have built the 
hio-h places of Tophet, which is in the valley of Benhinnom, to 
burn their sons and daughters in the fire ; which I have not com- 
manded, neither came it into my heart. Ver. 32. Therefore, 
behold, the days come, saith Jahveh, that they shall no longer say 
Tophet and Valley of Benhinnom, but, The valley of slaughter , 
and they shall bury in Tophet for want of room. Ver. 33. And 

CHAP. VII. 29-VIII. 3. 167 

the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of heaven 
and the beasts of the earth, with no one to fray them away. 
V/Ver. 34. And I make to cease out of the cities of Judah and 
from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth and the voice 
of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the 
bride; for a waste shall the land become. Chap. viii. 1. At 
that time, saith Jahveh, they shall bring out the bones of the 
kings of Judah and the bones of his princes, the bones of the 
priests and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the in- 
habitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves. Ver. 2. And they 
shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the 
host of heaven, which they have loved, and which they have 
served, after which they have walked, and which they have 
sought and worshipped : they shall not be gathered nor buried ; 
for dung upon the face of the earth shall they be. Ver. 3. And 
death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue which 
is left of this evil race, in all the places whither I have driven 
them that are left, saith Jahveh of hosts." 

In these verses the judgment of ver. 20 is depicted in all its 
horror, and the description is introduced by a call upon Zion 
to mourn and lament for the evil awaiting Jerusalem and the 
whole land. It is not any particular woman that is addressed 
in ver. 29, but the daughter of Zion (cf. vi. 23), i.e. the capital 
city personified as a woman, as the mother of the whole people. 
Cut off sJ^W, thy diadem. There can be no doubt that we are 
by this to understand the hair of the woman ; but the current 
opinion, that the word simply and directly means the hair, is 
without foundation. It means crown, originally the diadem of 
the high priest, Ex. xxix. 6 ; and the transference of the same 
word to the hair of the head is explained by the practice of the 
Nazarites, to wear the hair uncut as a mark of consecration to 
the Lord, Num. vi. 5. The hair of the Nazarite is called in 
Num. vi. 7 the consecration (TTJ) of his God upon his head, 
as was the anointing oil on the head of the high priest, Lev. 
xxi. 12. In this sense the long hair of the daughter of Zion 
is called her diadem, to mark her out as a virgin consecrated to 
the Lord. Cutting off this hair is not only in token of mourn- 
ing, as in Job i. 20, Mic. i. 16, but in token of the loss of the 
consecrated character. The Nazarite, defiled by the sudden 


occurrence of death near to his person, was bound to cut off 
his long hair, because by this defilement his consecrated hair 
had been defiled ; and just so must the daughter of Zion cut 
off her hair and cast it from her, because by her sins she had 
defiled herself, and must be held as unconsecrate. Venema 
and Ros. object to this reference of the idea to the consecrated 
hair of the Nazarite : quod hue non quadrat, nee in fceminis 
adeo suetum erat ; but this objection is grounded on defective 
apprehension of the meaning of the Nazarite's vow, and on 
misunderstanding of the figurative style here employed. The 
allusion to the Nazarite order, for the purpose of representing 
the daughter of Zion as a virgin consecrated to the Lord, does 
not imply that the Nazarite vow was very common amongst 
women. Deprived of her holy ornament, Zion is to set up a 
lament upon bare hill-tops (cf. iii. 21), since the Lord has re- 
jected or cast out (ver. 30) the generation that has drawn His 
wrath down on it, because they have set idols in the temple 
in which He has revealed His glory, to profane it. The 
abominations are the image of Asherah which Manasseh set up 
in the temple, and the altars he had built to the host of heaven 
in both the courts (2 Kings xxi. 5, 7). Besides the desecra- 
tion of the temple of the Lord by idolatry, Jeremiah mentions 
in ver. 31, as an especially offensive abomination, the worship 
of Moloch practised in the valley of Benhinnom. Here children 
were burnt to this deity, to whom Manasseh had sacrificed his 
son, 2 Kings xxi. 6. The expression "high altars of Tophet" 
is singular. In the parallel passages, where Jeremiah repeats the 
same subject, xix. 5 and xxxii. 35, we find mentioned instead 
high altars of Baal ; and on this ground, Hitz. and Graf hold 
nann in our verse to be a contemptuous name for Baal Moloch. 
nan is not derived from the Persian ; nor is it true that, as Hitz. 
asserts, it does not occur till after the beginning of the Assyrian 
period, since we have it in Job xvii. 6. It is formed from PjV), 
to spit out, like ns'3 from Ppa ; and means properly a spitting 
out, then that before or on which one spits (as in Job xvii. 6), 
object of deepest abhorrence. It is transferred to the worship 
of Moloch here and xix. 6, 13 ff., and in 2 Kings xxiii. 10. In 
the latter passage the word is unquestionably used for the place 
in the valley of Benhinnom where children were offered to 

CHAP. VII. 20-VIII. 3. 169 

Moloch. So in Jcr. xix. 6, 13 (the place of Tophct), and 14; 
and so also, without a doubt, in ver. 32 of the present chapter. 
There is no valid reason for departing from this well-ascertained 
local signification; "high altars of Tophet" may perfectly 
well be the high altars of the place of abominable sacrifices. 
With the article the word means the ill-famed seat of the 
Moloch-worship, situated in the valley of Ben or Bne Hinnom, 
to the south of Jerusalem. Hinnom is uomen propr. of a man 
of whom we know nothing else, and Di3n »pa (fa) is not an 
appellative : son of sobbing, as Hitz., Graf, Bottcher explain 
(after Rashi), rendering the phrase by " Valley of the weepers," 
or u of groaning, sobbing," with reference to the cries of the 
children slain there for sacrifices. For the name Ben- Hinnom 
is much older than the Moloch-worship, introduced first by 
Ahaz and Manasseh. We find it in Josh. xv. 8, xviii. 16, in 
the topographical account of the boundaries of the tribes of 
Judah and Benjamin. As to Moloch-worship, see on Lev. 
xviii. 21 and Ezek. xvi. 20 f. At the restoration of the public 
worship of Jahveh, Josiah had extirpated Moloch-worship, and 
had caused the place of the sacrifice of abominations in the 
valley of Ben-Hinnom to be defiled (2 Kings xxiii. 20) ; so 
that it is hardly probable that it had been again restored im- 
mediatelv after Josiah's death, at the beginning of Jehoiakinrs 
reign. Nor does the present passage imply this ; for Jer. is 
not speaking of the forms of idolatry at that time in favour 
with the Jews, but of the abominations they had done. That 
he had Manasseh's doings especially in view, we may gather 
from chap. xv. 4, where the coming calamities are expressly 
declared to be the punishment for Manasseh's sins. Neither is 
it come into my heart, i.e. into my mind, goes to strengthen : 
which I have not commanded. — Ver. 32. Therefore God will 
make the place of their sins the scene of judgment on the 
sinners. There shall come clays when men will call the valley 
of these abominations the valley of slaughter, i.e. shall make it 
into such a valley. Where they have sacrificed their children 
to Moloch, they shall themselves be slaughtered, massacred by 
their enemies. And in this valley, as an unclean place (xix. 13), 
shall they be buried " for want of room ;" since, because of the 
vast numbers of the slain, there will be nowhere else to put 


them. — Ver. 33. Even the number of the dead will be so great 
that the corpses shall remain unburied, shall become food for 
beasts of prey, which no one will scare away. This is taken 
almost literally from Deut. xxviii. 26. — Ver. 34. Thus the 
Lord will put an end to all joyfulness in life throughout the 
land : cf. Hos. ii. 13 ; Ezek. xxvi. 13. The voice of the bride- 
groom and the bride is a circumlocution for the mirth of 
marriage festivities ; cf. 1 Mace. ix. 39. All joy will be dumb, 
for the land shall become a waste ; as the people had been 
warned, in Lev. xxvi. 31, 33, would be the case if they forsook 
the Lord. 

Chap. viii. 1-3. But even then the judgment has not come 
to a height. Even sinners long dead must yet bear the shame 
of their sins. "At that time" points back to " clays come" in 
vii. 32. The Masoretes wished to have the ) before WW* deleted, 
apparently because they took it for 1 consec. But it here stands 
before the jussive, as it does frequently, e.g. xiii. 10, Ex. xii. 3. 
They will take the bones of the kings, princes, priests, and 
prophets, the rulers and leaders of the people (cf. ii. 26), and 
the bones of the other inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their 
graves, and spread them out before the sun, the moon, and the 
stars, i.e. expose them under the open sky to the influence of 
the heavenly bodies, so that they shall rot away, become a dung 
on the face of the earth." The worst dishonour that could be 
done to the dead, a just return in kind for their worship of 
sun, moon, and stars: cf. vii. 18; 2 Kings xxi. 5, xxiii. 11. 
This worship the prophet describes in its various stages : " In- 
clination of the heart, the act of devoting and dedicating 
themselves to the service, the frequenting of the gods' sanctuary 
in order to worship and to obtain oracles ; while he strives to 
bring out in strong relief the contrast between the zeal of their 
service and the reward they get by it" (Hitz.). They shall 
not be gathered, i.e. for burial: cf. 2 Sam. xxi. 13 f. ; 1 Sam. 
xxxi. 13. The dead shall suffer this at the hands of enemies 
despoiling the land. The reason for so doing was, as Jerome 
observes, the practice of burying ornaments and articles of 
value along with the dead. Seeking for such things, enemies 
will turn up the graves (cf. acts of this kind in the case 
of Ibn Chaldun, in Sylv. de Sacy, Abdollat. p. 561), and, in 

CHAP. VIII. 4-23. 171 

their hatred and insolence, scatter the bones of the dead all 
about. — Ver. 3. Not less dreadful will be the fate of those who 
remain in life; so appalling that they will prefer death to life, 
since every kind of hardship in exile and imprisonment amongst 
the heathen is awaiting them : cf. Lev. xxvi. 3G-39, Deut. 
xxviii. 65-67. Q>l "l^'f3n niDpBn strikes us as peculiar, seeing 
that the latter word cannot be adjective to the former; for 
"in all the remaining places of Judah " (Umbr.) gives no 
suitable sense, and " in all remaining places outside of Judah" 
is contrary to usage. But D'HKtPan may be taken as genitive, in 
spite of the article prefixed to the stat. constr. rriftpo ; and we 
may then translate, with Maur. : in all the places of those who 
remain whither I have driven them. The LXX. have omitted 
the second word ; and it is possible it may have found its way 
hither from the preceding line by an error of transcription. 
And so Hitz., Ew., and Graf have deleted it as a gloss ; but the 
arguments adduced have little weight. The LXX. have also 
omitted " and say to them," ver. 4, have changed nb into 
"•3, and generally have treated Jeremiah in a quite uncritical 
fashion : so that they may have omitted the word from the 
present verse because it seemed awkward to them, and was not 
found in the parallel passages, xxix. 14, xxiii. 3, which are not, 
however, precisely similar to the present verse. 

Chap. viii. 4-23. The people's obstinacy in wicked- 
the people cleaves stedfastly to its sin (vers. 4-13), the Lord 
must punish sorely (vers. 14-23). — Vers. 4-13. " And say to 
them, Thus hath the Lord said : Doth one fall, and not rise 
again ? or doth one turn away, and not turn back again ? 
Ver. 5. Why doth this people of Jerusalem turn itself away 
with a perpetual turning ? They hold fast by deceit, they 
refuse to return. Ver. 6. I listened and heard ; they speak 
not aright ; no one repenteth him of his wickedness, saying, 
What have I done ? They all turn to their course again, like a 
horse rushing into the battle. Ver. 7. Yea, the stork in the 
heaven knoweth her appointed times ; and turtle-dove, and 
swallow, and crane, keep the time of their coming ; but my 
people know not the judgment of Jahveh. Ver. 8. How can 


ye say, Wise are we, and the law of Jahveh we have ? Cer- 
tainly the lying pen of the scribes hath made it a lie. Ver. 9. 
Ashamed the wise men become, confounded and taken ; lo, 
the word of Jahveh they spurn at ; and whose wisdom have 
they 1 Ver. 10. Therefore will I give their wives unto others, 
their fields to new heirs : for from the small to the great, they 
are all greedy for gain ; from the prophet even unto the priest, 
they all use deceit. Ver. 11. And they heal the hurt of the 
daughter of my people as it were a light matter, saying, Peace, 
peace ; and yet there is no peace. Ver. 12. They have been 
put to shame because they have done abomination ; yet they 
take not shame to themselves, ashamedness they know not. 
Therefore they shall fall amongst them that fall : in the time of 
their visitation they shall stumble, hath Jahveh said. Ver. 13. 
Away, away will I sweep them, saith Jahveh : no grapes on 
the vine, and no fi^s on the fig-tree, and the leaf is withered ; 
so I appoint unto them those that shall pass over them." 

This strophe connects itself with what precedes. A judg- 
ment, dreadful as has been described in vii. 32-viii. 3, will 
come on Judah, because the people cleaves stiffneckedly to 
its sins. The fl")^ 1 . of ver. 4 corresponds to that in vii. 28. 
The questioning clauses in ver. 4 contain universal truths, 
which are applied to the people of Judah in ver. 5. The 
subjects to &&\ and MPJ are indefinite, hence singular and 
plural with like significance : cf. Gesen. § 137, 3 ; Ew. § 294, b. 
The verb 3M>J, turn oneself, turn about, is here used in a double 
sense : first, as turn away from one ; and then turn towards him, 
return again. In the application in ver. 5, the Pilel is used 
for to turn away from, and strengthened by : with perpetual 
turning away or backsliding. nnJH is not partic. Niph. fern. 
from nvj, but an adjectival formation, continual, enduring, 
from rn», continuance, durableness. "Jerusalem" belongs to 
" this people :" this people of Jerusalem ; the close grammatical 
connection by means of the stat. constr. not being maintained, 
if the first idea gives a sense intelligible by itself, so that the 
second noun may then be looked on rather in the light of an 
apposition conveying additional information; cf. Ew. § 290, c. 
]V»nn, equivalent to n»"i», deceit against God. They refuse 
to return. Sense : they will not receive the truth, repent and 


return to God. The same idea is developed in ver. 6. The 
first person : I have listened and heard, Hitz. insists, refers to 
the prophet, " who is justified as to all he said in ver. 5 by 
what he has seen." But we cannot account that even an "apt" 
view of the case, which makes the prophet cite his own obser- 
vations to show that God had not spoken without cause. It is 
Jahveh that speaks in ver. 5 ; and seeing that ver. 6 gives not 
the slightest hint of any change in the speaker, we are bound 
to take ver. 6 also as spoken by God. Thus, to prove that they 
cleave unto deceit, Jahveh says that He has given heed to their 
deeds and habits, and heard how they speak the 15'^'j tne not 
right, i.e. lies and deceit. The next clause : not one repents 
him of his wickedness, corresponds to : they refuse to return ; 
cf. ver. 5 (nn? is partic). Instead of this, the whole of it, 
i.e. all of them, turn again to their course. 2W with 3, con- 
strued as in Hos. xii. 7 : turn oneself to a thing, so as to enter 
into it. For nSTlD, the sig. course is certified to by 2 Sam. 
xviii. 27. The Chet. onina is doubtless merely an error of 
transcription for Drfifl"lD } as is demanded by the Keri. Turn 
again into their course. The thought is : instead of consider- 
ing, of becoming repentant, they continue their evil courses. 
This, too, is substantially what Hitz. gives. Eos., Graf, and 
others, again, take this in the sense of turning themselves away 
in their course ; but it is not fair to deduce this sense for 2VJ 
without |» from ver. 4; nor is the addition of "from me" 
justifiable. Besides, this explanation does not suit the following 
comparison with the horse. It is against analogy to derive 
DIWUD from nYl with the sig. desire, cupidity. Ew., follow- 
ing the Chald.f adopts this sense both here and in xxii. 17 
and xxiii. 10, though it is not called for in any of these pas- 
sages, and is unsuitable in xxii. 17. As a horse rusheth into 
the battle. H^lp, pour forth, overflow, hence rush on impetu- 
ously ; by Jerome rightly translated, cum impelu vadens. Several 
commentators compare the Latin se effandere (Ctes. Bell. Gall. 
v. 19) and effundi (Liv. xxviii. 7) ; but the cases are not quite 
in point, since in both the words are used of the cavalry, and 
not of the steed by itself. This simile makes way for more in 
ver. 7. Even the fowls under the heaven keep the time of their 
coming and departure, but Israel takes no concern for the 


judgment of its God ; cf. Isa. i. 3. "If PH, (avis) pia, is the 
stork, not the heron ; see on Lev. xi. 19. " In the heaven " 
refers to the flight of the stork. All the birds mentioned here 
are birds of passage, "rin and DID are turtle-dove and pigeon, 
For D^D the Masoretes read D^p, apparently to distinguish the 
word from that for horse ; and so the oriental Codd. propose to 
read in Isa. xxxviii. 14, although they wrote DID. "IMP is the 
crane (ace. to Saad. and Rashi), both here and in Isa. xxxviii. 
14, where Gesen., Knob., and others, mistaking the asyndeton, 
take it as an adjective in the sig. sighing. 1 D'HyiO are the fixed 
times for the arrival and departure of the birds of passage. — 
Ver. 8. In spite of this heedlessness of the statutes, the judgment 
of God, they vainly boast in their knowledge and possession of 
God's law. Those who said, We are wise, are mainly the priests 
and false prophets ; cf. ver. 10, ii. 8, v. 31. The wisdom these 
people claimed for themselves is, as the following clause shows, 
the knowledge of the law. They prided themselves on pos- 
sessing the law, from which they conceived themselves to have 
drawn their wisdom. The second clause, as Hitz. observed, 
shows that it is the written law that is meant. The law is with 
us. This is not to be understood merely of the outward pos- 
session of it, but the inward, appropriated knowledge, the 
mastery of the law. The law of Jahveh, recorded in the 
Pentateuch, teaches not only the bearing towards God due by 
man, but the bearing of God towards His people. The know- 
ledge of this law begets the wisdom for ruling one's life, tells 

1 Starting from this unproved interpretation of Isa. xxxviii. 14, and 
supporting their case from the LXX. translation of the present passage, 
rpvyuv kccI ^sTi/o^ dypov urpovStcc, Hitz. and Graf argue that -fij}/ is not 


the name of any particular bird, but only a qualifying word to d^D, in 
order to distinguish the swallow from the horse, the sense more commonly 
attached to the same word. But that confused text of the LXX. by no 
means justifies us in supposing that the 1 cop. was introduced subsequently 

into the Heb. text. It is possible that dypov is only a corrupt representa- 
tion of "i^y, and that arpovdix came into the LXX. text in consequence of 


this corruption. But certainly the fact that the LXX., as also Aquil. and 
Symm., both here and in Isa. xxxviii. 14, did not know what to make of the 
Hebrew word, and so transcribed it in Greek letters, leads us to conclude 
that these translators permitted themselves to be guided by Isa. xxxviii., 
and omitted here also the copula, which was there omitted before i^y. 

CHAP. VIII. 4-23. 175 

how God is to be worshipped, how His favour is to be procured 
and His anger appeased. 

As against all this, Jeremiah declares : Assuredly the lying 
pen (style) of the scribes hath made it a lie. Ew., Hitz., Graf, 
translate D^BD, authors, writers ; and the two latter of them 
take nb>y = labour : " for a lie (or for deception) hath the 
lying style (pen) of the writers laboured." This transl. is 
feasible ; but it seems simpler to supply '" rnifl : hath made it 
(the law) ; and there is no good reason for confining IBID to 
the original composers of works. The words are not to be 
limited in their reference to the efforts of the false prophets, 
who spread their delusive prophecies by means of writings : 
they refer equally to the work of the priests, whose duty it was 
to train the people in the law, and who, by false teaching as to 
its demands, led the people astray, seduced them from the way 
of truth, and deceived them as to the future. The labours 
both of the false prophets and of the wicked priests consisted 
not merely in authorship, in composing and circulating writings, 
but to a very great extent in the oral teaching of the people, 
partly by prophetic announcements, partly by instruction in the 
law ; only in so far as it was necessary was it their duty to set 
down in writing and circulate their prophecies and interpreta- 
tions of the law. But this work by word and writing was 
founded on the existing written law, the Torah of Moses ; just 
as the true prophets sought to influence the people chiefly by 
preaching the law to them, by examining their deeds and habits 
by the rule of the divine will as revealed in the Torah, and by 
applying to their times the law's promises and threatenings. 
For this work with the law, and application of it to life, Jer. 
uses the expression " style of the Shoferim," because the inter- 
pretation of the law, if it was to have valid authority as the 
rule of life, must be fixed by writing. Yet he did not in this 
speak only of authors, composers, but meant such as busied 
themselves about the book of the law, made it the object of 
their study. But inasmuch as such persons, by false interpre- 
tation and application, perverted the truth of the law into a 
lie, he calls their work the work of the lying style (pen). — Ver. 9. 
Those who held themselves wise will come to shame, will be 
dismally disabused of their hopes. When the great calamity 


comes on the sin-hardened people, they shnll be confounded 
and overwhelmed in ruin (cf. vi. 11). They spurn at the 
word of Jah veh ; whose wisdom then have they ? None ; for 
the word of the Lord alone is Israel's wisdom and understand- 
ing, Deut. iv. 6. 

The threatening in ver. 10 includes not only the wise ones, 

but the whole people. " Therefore " attaches to the central 

truth of vers. 5 and G, which has been elucidated in vers. 7-9. 

The first half of ver. 10 corresponds, in shorter compass, to 

what has been said in vi. 12, and is here continued in vers. 

106-12 in the same words as in vi. 13-15. D^Chi" 1 are those who 

take possession, make themselves masters of a thing, as in xlix. 2 

and Mic. i. 15. This repetition of the three verses is not given 

in the LXX., and Hitz. therefore proposes to delete them as 

a supplementary interpolation, holding that they are not only 

superfluous, but that they interrupt the sense. For he thinks 

ver. 13 connects remarkably well with ver. 10a, but, taken out 

of its connection with what precedes as we have it, begins 

baldly enough. To this Graf has made fitting answer : This 

passage is in no respect more superfluous or awkward than vi. 

13ff. ; nor is the connection of ver. 13 with ver. 10a at all closer 

than with ver. 12. And Hitz., in order to defend the immediate 

connection between ver. 13 and ver. 10, sees himself compelled, 

for the restoration of equilibrium, to delete the middle part of 

ver. 13 (from "no grapes" to "withered") as spurious; for 

which proceeding there is not the smallest reason, since this 

passage has neither the character of an explanatory gloss, nor 

is it a repetition from any place whatever, nor is it awanting 

in the LXX. Just as little ground is there to argue against 

the genuineness of the two passages from the variations found 

in them. Here in ver. 10 we have PiTSTTSn J't3j3t3 instead of 

the DtolJTTjn D3DPO of vi. 13 ; but the suffix, which in the 

t ; - ; t - : * • 7 

latter case pointed to the preceding "inhabitants of the land/' 
was unnecessary here, where there is no such reference. In 
like manner, the forms ctan for Bv5n, and Drnpa ny for 
D t| JjHj3B"njJ J are but the more usual forms used by Jeremiah else- 
where. So the omission of the n in *3T. for ^fT.j as coming 
either from the writer or the copyist, clearly does not make 
against the genuineness of the verses. And there is the less 

CHAP. VIII. 4-23. 177 

reason for making any difficulty about the passage, seeing that 
such repetitions are amongst the peculiarities of Jeremiah's 
style : cf. e.g.vii. 31-33 with xix. 5-7; x. 12-16 with li. 15-19; 
xv. 13, 14, with xvii. 3, 4 ; xvi. 14, 15, with xxiii. 7, 8 ; xxiii. 5, 
(3, withxxxiii. 15, 16 ; xxiii. 19, 20, with xxx. 23, 24, and other 
shorter repetitions. — Ver. 13. The warning of coming punish- 
ment, reiterated from a former discourse, is strengthened by the 
threatening that God will sweep them utterly away, because 
Judah has become an unfruitful vine and fig-tree. In SpDK fpK 
we have a combination of f)?^, gather, glean, carry away, and 
sppn, Hiph. of tpD, make an end, sweep off, so as to heighten 
the sense, as in Zeph. i. 2 f., — a passage which was doubtless 
in the prophet's mind : wholly will I sweep them away. The 
circumstantial clauses : no grapes — and the leaves are withered, 
show the cause of the threatening : The people is become an 
unfruitful vine and fig-tree, whose leaves are withered. Israel 
was a vineyard the Lord had planted with noble vines, but 
which brought forth sour grapes, ii. 21, Isa. v. 2. In keeping 
with this figure, Israel is thought of as a vine on which are no 
grapes. With this is joined the like figure of a fig-tree, to 
which Micah in vii. 1 makes allusion, and which is applied by 
Christ to the degenerate race of His own time in His symbolical 
act of cursing the fig-tree (Matt. xxi. 19). To exhaust the 
thought that Judah is ripe for judgment, it is further added 
that the leaves are withered. The tree whose leaves are withered, 
is near being parched throughout. Such a tree was the people 
of Judah, fallen away from its God, spurning at the law of 
the Lord ; in contrast with which, the man who trusts in 
the Lord, and has delight in the law of the Lord, is like the 
tree planted by the water, whose leaves are ever green, and 
which bringeth forth fruit in his season, xvii. 8, Ps. i. 1-3. 
Ros. and Mov. are quite wrong in following the Chald., 
and in taking the circumstantial clauses as a description 
of the future ; Mov. even proceeds to change OS" 1 ?^ H'DN into 
D^px S|DK. The interpretation of the last clause is a disputed 
point. Ew., following the old translators (Chald., Syr., Aq., 
Symm., Vulg.; in the LXX. they are omitted), understands 
the words of the transgression of the commands of God, which 
they seem to have received only in order to break them. JAM 
VOL. I. M 


seems to tell in favour of this, and it may be taken as prceter. 
with the translation : and I gave to them that which they trans- 
gress. Bat unless we are to admit that the idea thus obtained 
stands quite abruptly, we must follow the Chald., and take it 
as the reason of what precedes : They are become an unfruitful 
tree with faded leaves, because they have transgressed my law 
which I gave them. But jri^J with \ consec. goes directly 
against this construction. Of less weight is the other objection 
against this view, that the plural suffix in Bn^JP has no suitable 
antecedent ; for there could be no difficulty in supplying 
" judgments " (cf. ver. 8). But the abrupt appearance of the 
thought, wholly unlooked for here, is sufficient to exclude that 
interpretation. We therefore prefer the other interpretation, 
given with various modifications by Veil., Ros., and Maur., and 
translate : so I appoint unto them those that shall pass over 
them. The imperf. c. ) consec. attaches itself to the circum- 
stantial clauses, and introduces the resulting consequence ; it 
is therefore to be expressed in English by the present, not by 
the prceter. : therefore I gave them (Nag.). |H3 in the general 
sig. appoint, and the second verb with the pron. rel. omitted: 
illos qui eos invadent. "OV, to overrun a country or people, 
of a hostile army swarming over it, as e.g. Isa. viii. 8, xxviii. 15. 
For the construction c. accus. cf. Jer. xxiii. 9, v. 22. Hitz.'s 
and Graf's mode of construction is forced : I deliver them up 
to them (to those) who pass over them ; for then we must not 
only supply an object to JAN, but adopt the unusual arrange- 
ment by which the pronoun Drp is made to stand before the 
words that explain it. 

Vers. 14-23. The horrors of the approaching visitation. — Ver. 
14. " Why do we sit still ? Assemble yourselves, and let us go 
into the defenced cities, and perish there ; for Jahveh our God 
hath decreed our ruin, and given us water of gall to drink, be- 
cause we have sinned against Jahveh. Ver. 15. We looked for 
safety, and there is no good ; for a time of healing, and behold 
terrors. Ver. 16. From Dan is heard the snorting of his 
horses ; at the loud neighing of his steeds the whole earth 
trembles : they come, and devour the land and its fulness, the 
city and those that dwell therein. Ver. 17. For, behold, I. send 
among you serpents, vipers, of which there is no charming, 

CHAP. VIII. 14-23. 179 

which shall sting you, saith Jahveh. Ver. 18. Oh my com- 
fort in sorrow, in me my heart grows too sick. Ver. 19. Be- 
hold, loud sounds the cry of the daughter from out of a far 
country : ' Is Jahveh not in Zion, nor her King in her V Why 
provoked they me with their images, with vanities of a foreign 
land? Ver. 20. Past is the harvest, ended is the fruit- 
gatherrag, and we are not saved. Ver. 21. For the breaking 
of the daughter of my people am I broken, am in mourning ; 
horror hath taken hold on me. Ver. 22. Is there no balm in 
Gilead, or no physician there ? why then is no plaister laid upon 
the daughter of my people ? Ver. 23. Oh that my head were 
waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears ! then would I weep 
day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people." 

In spirit the prophet sees the enemy forcing his way into the 
country, and the inhabitants fleeing into the fortified cities. 
This he represents to his hearers with graphic and dramatic 
effect. In ver. 14 the citizens of Judah are made to speak, 
calling on one another to flee and give up hope of being saved. 
"Why do we sit still?" i.e. remain calmly where we are ? We 
will withdraw into the strong cities (cf. iv. 5), and perish there 
by famine and disease (HOT3 for nGH3, imperf. Niph., from 
DOT: cf. Gesen. § 67, 5, Rem. 11; in Niph. be destroyed, perish). 
The fortresses cannot save them from ruin, since they will be 
besieged and taken by the enemy. For our sin against Him, 
God has decreed our ruin. The Hiph. from DOT, prop, put to 
silence, bring to ruin, here with the force of a decree. ^Ni ^O, 
bitter waters ; K\sh or K'ii, Deut. xxxii. 32, is a plant with a 
very bitter taste, and so, since bitterness and poison were to 
the Jews closely connected, a poisonous plant ; see on Deut. 
xxix. 17. So they call the bitter suffering from the ruin at 
hand which they must undergo. Cf. the similar figure of the 
cup of the anger of Jahveh, ch. xxv. 15 ff. — Ver. 15. Instead 
of peace and safety hoped for, there is calamity and terror. 
The infin. abs. njij? is used emphatically for the imperf. : We 
looked for safety, and no good has come to us : for healing, sc. 
of our injuries, and instead comes terror, by reason of the 
appearance of the foe in the land. This hope has been 
awakened and cherished in the people by false prophets (see on 
iv. 10), and now, to their sore suffering, they must feel the 


contrary of it. The same idea is repeated in xiv. 19. HS^O is a 
mis-spelling of N?n>?, xiv. 19, etc. — Ver. 16. From the northern 
borders of Canaan (from Dan ; see on iv. 15) is already heard 
the dreadful tumult of the advancincr enemv, the snorting of 
his horses. The suffix in VD1D refers to the enemy, whose 
invasion is threatened in vi. 22, and is here presumed as known. 
VTas, his strong ones, here, as in xlvii. 3, 1. 11, a poetical name 
for strong horses, stallions ; elsewhere for strong animals, e.g. 
Ps. xxii. 13, 1. 13. The whole earth, not the whole land. With 
" devour the land," cf. v. 17. "fJ? and p.N have an indefinite 
comprehensive force ; town and country on which the enemy 
is mar chin £. — Ver. 17. The terribleness of these enemies is 
heightened by a new figure. They are compared to snakes of 
the most venomous description, which cannot be made innocuous 
by any charming, whose sting is fatal. " Vipers " is in apposition 
to u serpents;" serpents, namely basilisks. ^V?V is, ace. to Aqu. 
and Vulg. on Isa. xi. 8, serpens regulus, the basilisk, a small and 
very venomous species of viper, of which there is no charming. 
Cf. for the figure, Cant. x. 11 ; and for the enemies' cruelty 
thereby expressed, cf. vi. 23, Isa. xiii. 18. 

The hopeless ruin of his people cuts the prophet to the very 
heart. In vers. 18-23 his sore oppressed heart finds itself vent 
in bitter lamentations. Oh my comfort in sorrow ! is the cry 
of sore affliction. This may be seen from the second half of 
the verse, the sense of which is clear : sick (faint) is my heart 
upon me. ^V shows that the sickness of heart is a sore burden 
on him, crushes him down ; cf. Ew. § 217, i. "My comfort " is 
accordingly vocative : Oh my comfort concerning the sorrow ! 
Usually $?. '9 is supplied: Oh that I had, that there were 
for me comfort! The sense suits, but the ellipse is without 
parallel. It is simpler to take the words as an exclamation : 
the special force of it, that he knows not when to seek comfort, 
may be gathered from the context. For other far-fetched 
explanations, see in Eos. ad h. I. The grief which cuts so 
deeply into his heart that he sighs for relief, is caused by his 
already hearing in spirit the mourning cry of his people as they 
go away into captivity. — Ver. 19. From a far country he hears 
the people complain : Is Jahveh not in Zion ? is He no longer 
the King of His people there? The suffix in H370 refers to 

CHAP. VIII. 14-20. 181 

u daughter of my people," and the King J s Jahveh ; cf. Isa. 
xxxiii. 22. They ask whether Jahveh is no longer Kino- in 
Zion, that He may release His people from captivity and brint* 
them back to Zion. To this the voice of God replies with the 
counter-question : Why have they provoked me with their 
idolatry, sc. so that I had to give them over into the power of 
the heathen for punishment? "Images" is expounded by the 
apposition : vanities (no-gods ; for ??n ? see on ii. 5) of a foreign 
land. Because they have chosen the empty idols from abroad 
(xiv. 22) as their gods, Jahveh, the almighty God of Zion, 
has cast them out into a far country amidst strange people. 
The people goes on to complain in ver. 20 : Past is the harvest 
. . . and we are not saved. As Schnur. remarked, these words 
have something of the proverb about them. As a country- 
man, hoping for a good harvest, falls into despair as to his 
chances, so the people have been in vain looking for its rescue 
and deliverance. The events, or combinations of events, to 
which it looked for its rescue are gone by without bringing any 
such result. Many ancient commentators, following Iiashi, 
have given too special a significance to this verse in applying it 
to the assistance expected from Egypt in the time of Jehoiakim 
or Zedekiah. Hitz. is yet more mistaken when he takes the 
saying to refer to an unproductive harvest. From ver. 19 we 
see that the words are spoken by the people while it pines in 
exile, which sets its hopes of being saved not in the produc- 
tiveness of the harvest, but in a happy turn of the political 
situation. — Ver. 21. The hopeless case of the people and 
kingdom moves the seer so deeply, that he bursts forth with the 
cry : For the breaking of my people I am broken (the Hoph. 
VTiB'fn, of the breaking of the heart, only here ; in this sig. usu. 
the Niph., e.g. xxiii. 9, Ps. lxix. 21). TJj3, to be black, used of 
wearing mourning, in other words, to be in mourning; cf. Ps. 
xxxv. 14, xxxviii. 7. Horror hath taken hold on me, is stronger 
than : Anguish hath taken hold on me, vi. 24, Mic. iv. 9. 
Help is nowhere to be found. This thought is in ver. 22 
clothed in the question : Is there no balm in Gilead, or no 
physician there"? (i There" points back to Gilead. Graf's 
remark, that u it is not known that the physicians were got from 
^at quarter," shows nothing more than that its author has 


mistaken the figurative force of the words. "HX, balsam, is 
mentioned in Gen. xxxvii. 25 as an article of commerce carried 
by Midianite merchants to Egypt (cf. Ezek. xxvii. 17), but 
is hardly the real balsam from Mecca (amyris opohalsamum)^ 
which during the Roman sovereignty was grown under cul- 
ture in the gardens of Jericho, and which only succeeds in a 
climate little short of tropical. It was more likely the resina 
of the ancients, a gum procured from the terebinth or mastic 
tree (lentiscns, a^lvo?), which, ace. to Plin. h. not. xxiv. 22, was 
held in esteem as a medicament for wounds (resolvitur resina 
ad valnerum usns et malagmata oleo). Ace. to our passage 
and xlvi. 11, cf. Gen. xxxvii. 25, it was procured chiefly from 
Gilead ; cf. Movers, Phoniz. ii. 3, S. 220 ff., and the remarks 
on Gen. xxxvii. 25. To these questions a negative answer is 
given. From this we explain the introduction of a further 
question with "'S : if there were balm in Gilead, and a physician 
there, then a plaister would have been laid on the daughter 
of my people, which is not the case. As to HiHK n 0:j?> nt * a 
plaister comes upon, see on xxx. 17. The calamity is so dread- 
ful, that the prophet could weep about it day and night. To 
express the extremity of his grief, he wishes that his head were 
water, i.e. might be dissolved into water, and that his eye might 
become an inexhaustible fountain of tears. \f\) "'O, who might 
give, make my head water, i.e. would that it were water ! 

Chap. ix. 1-21. Lament for the faithlessness and 


— Upon the lament for the ruin of the kingdom, follows in vers. 
1-8 the lament for the wickedness which rendered judgment 
necessary, which is further gone into in vers. 9-21. 

Vers. 1-8. " Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging-place 
of wayfarers ! then would I leave my people, and go away from 
them. For they be all adulterers, a crew of faithless ones. 
Ver. 2. They bend their tongue like their bow with lying; and 
not according to faithfulness do they manage in the land, but go 
on from evil to evil, and me they know not, saith Jahveh. Ver. 
3. Beware each of his neighbour, and trust not in any brother ; 
for every brother supplanteth, and every friend goeth slandering. 
Ver. 4. And one overreacheth the other, and truth they spelk 

CHAP. IX. 1-8. 183 

not ; they teach their ton one to speak lies, to deal perversely 
they weary themselves. Ver. 5. Thy dwelling is in the midst of 
deceit ; in deceit they refuse to know me, saith Jahveh. Ver. 6. 
Therefore thus hath spoken Jahveh of hosts : Behold, I will 
melt them, and try them ; for how should I deal in regard to 
the daughter of my people % Ver. 7. A deadly arrow is their 
tongue ; they speak deceit ; with his mouth one speaketh peace 
with his neighbour, and inwardly within him he layeth ambush. 
Ver. 8. Shall I not visit this upon them % saith Jahveh ; or 
on such a people as this shall not my soul take vengeance % " 

Jeremiah would flee into the wilderness, far away from his 
people ; because amidst such a corrupt, false, and cunning people, 
life had become unbearable, ver. 1. *XUV l| D 3 as in xxvii. 4, 
equivalent to v ]fi) ^B, Ps. lv. 7 : who would give me = Oh that 
I had ! The "lodging-place" is not a resting-place under the 
open sky, but a harbour for travellers, — a building (khan) 
erected on the route of the caravans, as a shelter for travellers. 
Adultery and faithlessness are mentioned as cardinal sins. The 
first sin has been rebuked in v. 7, the second is exposed in 
vers. 2-4. 1313, faithless either towards God or one's fellow- 
men : here in the latter sense. The account of the unfaithful 
conduct is introduced in ver. 2 by the imperf. with 1 consec, and 
is carried on in the perf. Manifestations of sin are the issue 
of a sinful state of heart ; the perfects are used to suggest the 
particular sins as accomplished facts. In the clause, " they 
bend," etc., IpP is the second object ; and " their bow" is in 
apposition to '' their tongue : " they bend their tongue, which is 
their bow, with lying. For this construction the Hiph. is the 
proper form, and this is not to be changed into the Kal (as by 
Hitz., Gr., Nag.). In Job xxviii. 8 the Hiph. is used instead of 
the Kal in the sense of tread upon, walk upon ; here it is used 
of the treading of the bow to bend it, and lying is looked upon 
as the arrow with which the bow is stretched or armed for shoot- 
ing. If the verb be changed into the Kal, we must join "l^B* with 
DD£'P : their lyin<j-bow. For this connection n»T !|3TI, Ezek. 
xvi. 27, maybe cited ; but it gives us the unnatural figure: their 
tongue as a bow, which is lying. It is neither the tongue nor 
the bow which is lying, but that which they shoot with their 
tongue as with a bow. According to faithfulness; ? of the rule, 


norm, as in v. 3. Not faithfulness to their convictions (Hitz.), 
but in their behaviour towards their fellow-men. ">23, be strong, 
exercise strength, rule, and manage. The prophet has in view 
the great and mighty who had power in their hands, and who mis- 
used it to oppress their inferiors. From evil to evil they go on, i.e. 
they proceed from one sin to another ; but God the Lord they 
know not, i.e. are determined to know nothing of Him ; cf . 1 Sam. 
ii. 12, Job xviii. 21. Hence each must keep himself on his 
guard against the other. To express this in the most emphatic 
manner, Jeremiah gives it the form of a command : Beware 
each of his neighbour, trust not in a brother ; for each seeks to 
overreach and trip up the other. In the words 3pJ£ 2ipJ? there 
seems to be an allusion to Jacob's underhand dealing with his 
brother Esau, Gen. xxvii. 36. On " goes slandering," cf. 
vi. 28, and cf. also the similar description in Mic. vii. 5, 6. In 
ver. 4 these sinful ways are exposed in yet stronger words. ?nn> : , 
uncontracted form of the imperf. Hiph. of i>?n, trip up, deceive. 
On the infin. njgn, cf. Ew. § 238, e, and Gesen. § 75, Rem. 17. 
They weary themselves out, put themselves to great labour, 
in order to deal corruptly ; nx^J as in xx. 9, Isa. xvi. 12, else- 
where to be weary of a thing ; cf. vi. 1 1, xv. 6. — In ver. 5 
the statement returns to the point at which it commenced : 
thy sitting (dwelling) is in the midst of deceit. In deceit, i.e. 
in the state of their mind, directed as it is by deceit and cheat- 
ing, they refuse to know me, i.e. they are resolved to have 
nothing to do with the knowledge of God, because in that case 
they must give up their godless ways. 1 By reason of this 
depravity, the Lord must purge His people by sore judgments. 

1 The LXX. have not understood Tjri3^. They have split it up into 
Tin 32>, joined 2&> to ^pJ, and translated, after adding ^71 : »»i ov oii'ki'jrov 
tqv l^t<7Tpi%pai. tokos \t:\ tm'<) {i.e. usury upon usury) »«.] og'ao; tvl ooau. 
oiix %&saod sidivcct fa. Ew. has adopted this construction, and so trans- 
lates : " have accustomed their tongue to speak lies, to do perversity, are 
weary of turning again ; wrong upon wrong, deceit upon deceit, they are 
not willinc: to know me." But this text is not better, but worse, than 
the Masoretic : for, 1st, the perverse dealing or action is attributed to the 
tongue ; 2d, the thought, they are weary of turning again, does not suit the 
context, since the persons described here have never sought to return or 
repent, and so cannot have become weary of it. For these reasons, neither 
Hitz. nor Graf has given countenance to the LXX. text. 

CHAP. IX. 0-13. 185 

He will melt it in the fire of affliction (Isa. xlviii. 10), to separate 
the wicked : cf. Isa. i. 25, Zech. xiii. 9 ; and on jnn, Jer. vi. 27. 
For how should I do, deal? Not : what dreadful judgments shall 
I inflict (Hitz., Gr.), in which case the grounding *3 would not 
have its proper force ; but : I can do none otherwise than purge. 
Before the face of, i.e. by reason of, the daughter, because the 
daughter of my people behaves herself as has been described 
in vers. 2-4, and as is yet to be briefly repeated in ver. 7. The 
LXX. have paraphrased *JB*?: airo irpoawirov iroviqpia^. This 
is true to the sense, but it is unfair to argue from it, as Ew., 
Hitz., Gr. do, that HJH has been dropped out of the Hebrew 
text and should be restored. — In ver. 7 what has been said is 
recapitulated shortly, and then in ver. 8 the necessity of the 
judgment is shown, ^nr^ "n, a slaying, slaughtering, i.e. mur- 
derous arrow. Instead of this Chet., which gives a good sense, 
the Keri gives Eint^ which, judging from the Cliald. trans- 
lation, is probably to be translated sharpened. But there is no 
evidence for this sig., since lMnti> occurs only in connection 
with 2HT, 1 Kings x. 16, and means beaten, lit. spread gold. At 
"J2*1 Tuyyq the plural passes into the singular : he (one of them) 
speaks ; cf. Ps. lv. 22. 3TI& for insidious scheming, as in Hos. 
vii. 6. With ver. 8 cf. v. 9, 29. 

Vers. 9-15. The land laid zoaste, and the people scattered 
amongst the heathen. — Ver. 9. " For the mountains I take up a 
weeping and wailing, and for the pastures of the wilderness a 
lament ; for they are burnt up so that no man passeth over 
them, neither hear they the voice of the flock ; the fowls of the 
heavens and the cattle are fled, are gone. Ver. 10. And I 
make Jerusalem heaps, a dwelling of jackals ; and the cities of 
Judah I make a desolation, without an inhabitant. Ver. 11. 
Who is the wise man, that he may understand this ? and to 
whom the mouth of Jahveh hath spoken, that he may declare 
it? Wherefore doth the land come to ruin, is it burnt up 
like the wilderness, that none passeth through % Ver. 12. 
Jahveh said : Because they forsake my law which I set before 
them, and have not hearkened unto my voice, neither walked 
therein, Ver. 13. But went after the stubbornness of their 
heart, and after the Baals, which their fathers have taught 
them. Ver. 14. Therefore thus hath Jahveh of hosts spoken, 


the God of Israel : Behold, I feed this people with wormwood, 
and give them water of gall to drink, Ver. 15. And scatter 
them among the nations which they knew not, neither they nor 
their fathers, and send the sword after them, until I have con- 
sumed them." 

Already in spirit Jeremiah sees God's visitation come upon 
the land, and in vers. 9 and 10 he raises a bitter lamentation 
for the desolation of the country. The mountains and meadows 
of the steppes or prairies are made so desolate, that neither 
men nor beasts are to be found there. Mountains and meadows 
or pastures of the steppes, as contrasted with the cities (ver. 10), 
represent the remoter parts of the country. ?V is here not 
local : upon, but causal, concerning = because of, cf. iv. 24 ff., 
as is usual with (Wp) W KJW ; cf. 2 Sam. i. 17, Amos v. 1, 
Ezek. xxvi. 17, etc. ttlSB, kindled, burnt up, usually of cities 
(cf. ii. 15), here of a tract of country with the sig. be parched 
by the glowing heat of the sun, as a result of the interruption 
of agriculture. " | 2*1D is steppe, prairie, not suitable for tillage, 
but well fitted for pasturing cattle, as e.g. the wilderness of 
Judah ; cf. 1 Sam. xvii. 28. With 1?'y ^3D, ver. 11, cf. Ezek. 
xxxiii. 28. Not only have the herds disappeared that used to 
feed there, but the very birds have flown away, because the 
parched land no longer furnishes food for them ; cf. iv. 25. 
To " are fled," which is used most properly of birds, is added : 
are gone away, departed, in reference to the cattle. — Ver. 10. 
Jerusalem is to become stone-heaps, where only jackals dwell. 
S^n is jackals (canis aureus), in Isa. xiii. 22 called O^N from 
their cry; see on Isa. I.e., and Gesen. thes. s.v. IV)* 1 721D as in 
ii. 15, iv. 7. — That such a judgment will pass over Judah every 
wise man must see well, and every one enlightened by God is to 
declare it; for universal apostasy from God and His law cannot 
but bring down punishment. But such wisdom and such 
spiritual enlightenment is not found in the infatuated people. 
This is the idea of vers. 11-13. The question : Who is the 
wise man ? etc., reminds us of Hos. xiv. 10, and is used with a 
negative force : unhappily there is none so wise as to see this. 
" This" is explained by the clause, Wherefore doth the land, 
etc. : this, i.e. the reason why the land is going to destruction. 
The second clause, " and to whom," etc., is dependent on the 

CHAP. IX. 16-21. 187 

VD, which is to be repeated in thought : and who is he that, etc. 
Jeremiah has the false prophets here in view, who, if they were 
really illumined by God, if they really had the word of God, 
could not but declare to the people their corruptness, and the 
consequences which must flow from it. But since none is so 
wise . . . Jeremiah proposes to them the question in ver. 116, 
and in ver. 12 tells the answer as given by God Himself. 
Because they have forsaken my law, etc. ^B? fnj, to set before ; 
as in Deut. iv. 8, so here, of the oral inculcation of the law by 
the prophets. " Walketh therein" refers to the law. The stub- 
bornness of their heart, as in iii. 17, vii. 24. After the Baals, 
ii. 23. The relative clause, " which their fathers," etc., refers 
to both clauses of the verse ; "'B'K with a neuter sense : which 
their fathers have taught them. — Ver. 14. The 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 Q^XD is shown by 
the apposition : this people. On water of gall see viii. 14, 
and for the use of nil?? and E>N") together see Deut. xxix. 17. — 
Ul DVrilNan implies a verbal .illusion to the words of Deut. 
xxviii. 64 and 30, cf. Lev. xxvi. 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. 
xlii. 16, xliv. 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 iv. 27, v. 18, etc., 
to the effect that God will not make an utter end of them 
(Graf's opinion). This appears from xliv. 27, where those that 
flee to Egypt are threatened with destruction by famine and 
sword DrriN Vn?3 1JJ, while ver. 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. 

Vers. 16-21. Zion laid waste. — Ver. 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, Ver. 17. And may make haste and strike up a lamen- 
tation for us, that our eyes may run down with tears and our 
eyelids gush out with water. Ver. 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. Ver. 19. For hear, ye women, the word of 
Jah veh, 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 ! Ver. 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. Ver. 
21. Speak : Thus runs the saying of Jahveh : 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. I^snn, to be 
attentive, give heed to a thing ; cf. ii. 10. Women cunning in 
song are to come with speed (nnnnn takes the place of an 
adverb). The form n:\xton (P s . xlv. 16, 1 Sam. x. 7) alternates 
with njsinrij the usual form in this verb, e.g. Gen. xxx. 38, 
1 Kings iii. 16, etc., in order to produce an alternating form of 
expression. " For us" Nag. 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 Niig.'s view were 
right, it must be " for you," not " for us." True, the LXX. 
has i(j> vfias ; but Hitz. has rejected this reading as a simplifi- 
cation 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 

CHAP. IX. 1G-21. ISO 

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 (viii. 23), and so the mourning 
women are to strike up dirges. !Wn for '"'JxU'n, as in Ruth i. 
14; cf. Ew. § 198,6. On the use of T£ "and ^ with the 
accus. : flow down in tears, cf. Gesen. § 138, 1, Rem. 2, Ew. 
§ 281, b. — Ver. 18 gives the reason why the mourning women 
are to be called : Loud lamentation is heard out of Zion. Ew. 
takes " out of Zion" of the Israelites carried away from their 
country — a view arbitrary in itself, and incompatible with 
ver. 20. " How are we spoiled ! " cf. iv. 13 ; brought utterly 
to shame, because we have left the land, i.e. have been forced 
to leave it, and because they (the enemies) have thrown down 
our dwellings ! t?^V, cast down, overthrow, Job xviii. 7, cf. 
Ezek. xix. 12, and of buildings, Dan. viii. 11. Kimchi and 
Ilitz., again, take " our dwellings" as subject : our dwellings 
have cast us out, and appeal to Lev. xviii. 25 : The land vomited 
out its inhabitants. But the figurative style in this passage 
does not justify us in adopting so unnatural a figure as this, 
that the dwellings cast out their occupants. Nor could the 
object be omitted in such a case. The passages, Isa. xxxiii. 9 7 
Mic. ii. 4, to which Plitz. appeals, are not analogous to the 
present one. The subject, not expressed, ace. to our view 
of the passage, is readily suggested by the context and the 
nature of the case. The "for" in ver. 19 gives a second reason 
for calling the mourning women together. They are to come 
not only to chant laments for the spoiling of Zion, but that 
they may train their daughters and other women in the art of 
dirge-singing, because the number of deaths will be so great 
that the existing number of mourning women will not be suffi- 
cient for the task about to fall on them. This thought is intro- 
duced by a command of God. in order to certify that this great 


harvest of death will without fail be gathered. &???** and 
D3T133 have masc. suffixes instead of feminine, the masc. being 
often thus used as the more general form ; cf. E\v. § 184, c. 
In the last clause the verb " teach" is to be supplied from the 
preceding context. — Ver. 20. Death comes in through (in at) 
the windows, not because the doors are to be thought of as 
barricaded (Hitz.), but as a thief in the night, i.e. suddenly, in 
an unexpected way. Perhaps Jeremiah was here thinking of 
Joel ii. 9. And comes into the palaces, i.e. spares no house, 
but carries off high and low. The second clause is not to be 
very closely joined with the first, thus : Death comes into the 
houses and palaces, to sweep the children from off the streets ; 
this would be self-contradictory. We must rather repeat 
" comes " from the first clause : He comes to sweep off the 
streets the child at play. That is : In tbe houses and palaces, 
as upon the streets and highways, he will seize his prey. — Ver. 
21. The numbers of the dead will be so great, that the bodies 
will be left lying unburied. The concluding touch to this 
awful picture is introduced by the formula, " Speak : Thus saith 
the Lord," as a distinct word from God to banish all doubt of 
the truth of the statement. This formula is interposed paren- 
thetically, so that the main idea of the clause is joined by \ cop. 
to ver. 20. This ] is not to be deleted as a gloss, as it is by Ew. 
and others, because it is not found in the LXX. With " as 
dung," cf. viii. 2, xvi. 4. "iW, prop, a bundle of stalks, grasped 
by the hand and cut, then = "iDJf, sheaf. As a sheaf behind 
the reaper, which nobody gathers, i.e. which is left to lie un- 
heeded, is not brought by the reaper into the barn. The point 
of the simile is in the lying unheeded. Strange to say, Graf 
and Nag. propose to refer the " none gathereth " not to the 
sheaf of the shearer, but to the dead bodies : whereas the reaper 
piles the sheaves upon the waggon and brings them to the 
threshing-floor, the corpses are left ungathered. 

Chap. ix. 22-x. 25. The true wisdom. — It is not a reliance 
on one's own wisdom and strength that brings well-being, but 
the knowledge of the Lord and of His dealings in grace and 
justice (ix. 22—25). Idolatry is folly, for the idols are the mere 
work of men's hands ; whereas Jahveh, the Almighty God, is 

CHAP. IX. 22-25. 191 

ruler of the world (x. 1-16). Israel will be made to under- 
stand this by the coming judgment (vers. 17-25). 

Vers. 22-25. The way of safety.— Yer. 22. " Thus hath 
Jahveh said: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, and 
let not the strong man glory in his strength ; let not the rich 
man glory in his riches : Ver. 23. But let him that glorieth 
glory in this, in having understanding, and in knowing me, that 
I am Jahveh, dealing grace, right, and justice upon earth ; for 
therein have I pleasure, saith Jahveh. Ver. 24. Behold, davs 
come, saith Jahveh, that I punish all the circumcised (who are) 
with foreskin, Ver. 25. Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the 
sons of Amnion, Moab and them that have their hair-corners 
polled, that dwell in the wilderness ; for all the heathen are 
uncircumcised, and the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised 
in heart." 

After having overturned the foundations of the people's false 
reliance on the temple, or the sacrifices, and in the wisdom of 
its leaders, Jeremiah finally points out the way that leads to 
safety. This consists solely in the true knowledge of the Lord 
who doth grace, right, and justice, and therein hath pleasure. 
In ver. 23 he mentions the delusive objects of confidence on 
which the children of this world are wont to pride themselves : 
their own wisdom, strength, and riches. These things do not 
save from ruin. Safety is secured only by " having under- 
standing and knowing me." These two ideas are so closely con- 
nected, that the second may be looked on as giving the nearer 
definition of the first. The having of understanding must 
manifest itself in the knowing of the Lord. The two verbs are 
in the infin. abs., because all that was necessary was to suggest 
the idea expressed by the verb ; cf. Ew. § 328, b. The know- 
ledge of God consists in knowing Him as Him who doth grace, 
right, and justice upon earth. IDPI, grace, favour, is the 
foundation on which right and justice are based; cf. xxxii. 18, 
Ps. xxxiii. 5, xcix. 4, ciii. 6. He who has attained to this 
knowledge will seek to practise these virtues towards his fellow- 
men, because only therein has God pleasure (Sw pointing back 
to the objects before mentioned) ; cf. xxii. 3, Ps. xi. 7, 
xxxvii. 28. But because the Lord has pleasure in right and 
justice, He will punish all peoples that do not practise justice. 


Thus vers. 24 and 25 are connected with what precedes. The 
lack of righteousness is indicated by the idea "^M ^0 : cir- 
cumcised with foreskin, i.e. not, circumcised in the foreskin 
(LXX., Vulg.), but circumcised and yet possessed of the 
foreskin. It is incorrect to translate : circumcised together 
with the uncircumcised (Kimchi, de W.). This is not only 
contrary to the usage of the language, but inconsistent with the 
context, since in ver. 25 uncircumcisedness is predicated of the 
heathen and of Judah. The expression is an oxymoron, thus : 
uncircumcised-circumcised (Ew.), intended to gather Jews and 
heathen into one category. This is shown by the order of the 
enumeration in ver. 24 : Egypt, Judah, Edom, etc. ; whence 
we may see that in this reference the prophet puts Judah on 
the same footing with the heathen, with the Egyptians, Edom- 
ites, etc., and so mentions Judah between Egypt and Edom. 
From the enumeration Ew. and Nag., following the example 
of Jerome, 1 conclude that all the peoples named along with 
Judah practised circumcision. But neither on exegetical nor 
on historical grounds can this be confidently asserted. Con- 
sidered from the exegetical point of view, it is contradictory of 
the direct statement in ver. 25, that all the nations are uncir- 
cumcised. We must certainly not take the words D;ian"?3 as : 
all these peoples, giving the article then the force of a retro- 
spective demonstrative ; still less can they mean " all the other 
nations" besides those named. "All the nations" are all 
nations besides Israel. When these are called " uncircum- 
cised," and Israel " uncircumcised in heart," it is as clear as 
can be that all nations, and so Egyptians, Edomites, etc., are 
called uncircumcised, i.e. in the flesh ; while Israel— the whole 
house of Israel, i.e. Judah and the other tribes — are set over 
against the nations in contrast to them as being uncircumcised 
in heart, i.e. spiritually. From the historical view-point, too, 
it is impossible to prove that circumcision was in use amongst 
all the nations mentioned along with Judah. Only of the 
Egyptians does Herod, ii. 36 f., 104, record that they practised 

1 Jerome writes : multarum ex quadam parte gentium, et maxime quae. 
Judsex Palxstinxque confines sunt, risque hodiepopuli circumciduntur, et prx- 
cipue JEgyptiiet Idumsei, Ammonitx et Moabitx et omvis regio Saracenorum, 
quse habitat in solitudine 

CHAP. IX. 22-23. 193 

circumcision ; and if we accept the testimony of all other 
ancient authors, Herod.'s statement concerns only the priests 
and those initiated into the mysteries of Egypt, not the 
Egyptian people as a whole ; cf. my Bibl. Archciol. i. S. 307 f. 
The only ground for attributing the custom of circumcision to 
the Moabites and Arabs, is the fact that Esau and Ishmael, the 
ancestors of these peoples, were circumcised. But the infer- 
ence drawn therefrom is not supported by historical testimony. 
Indeed, so far as the Edomites are concerned, Josephus testifies 
directly the contrary, since in Antt. xiii. 9. 1, he tells us that 
when John Hyrcanus had conquered this people, he offered 
them the choice of forsaking their country or adopting circum- 
cision, and that they chose the latter alternative. As to the 
ancient Arabs, we find in the Ztsclir. filr die Kunde des Morgl. 
iii. S. 230, a notice of the tribe 'Advdn, where we are told that 
the warriors of this tribe consist of uncircumcised young men 
along with those already circumcised. But this gives us no 
certain testimony to the universal prevalence of circumcision ; 
for the notice comes from a work in which pre- and post- 
Mohammedan traditions are confounded. Finally, there is no 
historical trace of the custom of circumcision amongst the 
Ammonites and Moabites. nx2 'W'i? here, and xxv. 23, xlix. 
32 : those polled, cropped at the edges of the beard and sides of 
the head, are such as have the hair cut from off the temples and 
the forehead, observing a custom which, according to Herod. 
iii. 8, 1 was usual amongst some of the tribes of the Arabian 
Desert. The imitation of this practice was forbidden to the 
Israelites by the law, Lev. xix. 27 ; from which passage we may 
see that HNS refers to the head and the beard. Ace. to xlix. 32, 
cf. with ver. 28, the tribes meant belonged to the Kedarenes, 
descended according to Gen. xxv. 13 from Ishmael. In the 
wilderness, i.e. the Arabian Desert to the east of Palestine. 
By means of the predicate " uncircumcised in heart," the whole 
house of Israel, i.e. the whole covenant people, is put in contrast 
with the heathen. Circumcision involved the obligation to walk 
blameless before God (Gen. xvii. 1), and, as sign of the cove- 
nant, to keep God's commandments. If this condition was not 

1 Tan rpi%uv rqv Kovpqu x.ilp-a8ui (£xoi, x-uQcnrsp avrov rev Aiovvgov 
xsKxpScti, KiipouToci oi VTroTpoftXhct, TTipi^povvri; tov; y.po7x<pov;. 
VOL. I. N 


fulfilled, if the heart remained uncircumcised, Israel lost all 
pre-eminence over the heathen, and was devoid of all room for 
glorying in the sight of God, just as the heathen were, who 
know not God the Lord, who have turned the truth of God into 
unrighteousness, and in their unrighteousness have become liable 
to the judgment of God. 

Chap. x. 1-16. Warning against idolatry by means of a 
view of the nothingness of the false gods (vers. 1-5), and 
a counter-view of the almighty and everlasting God (vers. 
6-11) and of His governing care in the natural world. This 
warning is but a further continuation of the idea of ix. 23, 
that Israel's glory should consist in Jahveh who doth grace, 
right, and justice upon earth. In order thoroughly to impress 
this truth on the backsliding and idolatrous people, Jeremiah 
sets forth the nullity of the gods feared by the heathen, and, by 
showing how these gods are made of wood, plated with silver 
and gold, proves that these dead idols, which have neither life 
nor motion, cannot be objects of fear ; whereas Jahveh is God 
in truth, a living and everlasting God, before whose anger the 
earth trembles, who has created the earth, and rules it, who in 
the day of visitation will also annihilate the false gods. 1 

1 Tbis whole passage is declared by Movers {de utr. rec. Jer. p. 43), de 
W., Hitz., and Nag. to be spurious and a late interpolation ; because, as 
they allege, it interrupts the continuity, because its matter brings us down 
to the time of the Babylonian exile, and because the language of it diverges 
in many respects from Jeremiah's. Against these arguments Kiiper, Haev., 
"Welte, and others have made a stand. See my Manual of Introd. § 75, 1. — 
By the exhibition of the coherence of the thought given in the text, we 
have already disposed of the argument on which most stress is laid by the 
critics referred to, the alleged interruption of the connection. How little 
weight this argument is entitled to, may over and above be seen from the 
fact that Graf holds ix. 22-25 to be an interpolation, by reason of the want 
of connection ; in which view neither Movers preceded him, nor has Hitz. 
or Nag. followed him. The second reason, that the subject-matter brings 
us down to the time of the exile, rests upon a misconception of the purpose 
in displaying the nothingness of the false gods. In this there is presup- 
posed neither a people as yet unspotted by idolatry, nor a people purified 
therefrom ; but, in order to fill the heart with a warmer love for the living 
God and Lord of the world, Israel's own God, the bias towards the idols, 
deep-seated in the hearts of the people, is taken to task and attacked in 
that which lies at its root, namely, the fear of the power of the heathen's 
gods. Finally, as to the language of the passage, Movers tried to show 

CHAP. X. 1-5. 195 

Vers. 1-5. The nothingness of the false gods. — Ver. 1. u Hear 
the word which Jahveh speaketh unto you, house of Israel ! 
Ver. 2. Thus saith Jahveh : To the ways of the heathen use 
yourselves not, and at the signs of the heaven be not dismayed, 
because the heathen are dismayed at them. Ver. 3. For the 
ordinances of the peoples are vain. For it is wood, which one 
hath cut out of the forest, a work of the craftsman's hands 
with the axe. Ver. 4. With silver and with gold he decks it, 
with nails and hammers they fasten it, that it move not. Ver. 
5. As a lathe-wrought pillar are they, and speak not ; they are 
borne, because they cannot walk. Be not afraid of them ; for 
they do not hurt, neither is it in them to do good." 

This is addressed to the house of Israel, i.e. to the whole 
covenant people ; and " house of Israel" points back to " all the 
house of Israel" in ix. 25. Q?vJ? for B?vN, as frequently in 
Jeremiah. The way of the heathen is their mode of life, espe- 

that the whole not only belonged to the time of the pseudo-Isaiah, but 
that it was from his hand. Against this Graf has pronounced emphatically, 
with the remark that the similarity is not greater than is inevitable in the 
discussion of the same subject ; whereas, he says, the diversity in expres- 
sion is so great, that it does not even give us any reason to suppose that the 
author of this passage had the pseudo-Isaiah before him when he was 
writing. This assertion is certainly an exaggeration ; but it contains thus 
much of truth, that along with individual similarities in expression, the 
diversities are so great as to put out of the question all idea of the passage's 
having been written by the author of Isa, xl.-lxvi. In several verses Jere- 
miah's characteristic mode of expression is unmistakeable. Such are the fre- 
quent use of ^>nn for the idols, vers. 3 and 15, cf. viii. 19, xiv. 22, and 
DrnpB ny, ver. 15, cf. viii. 12, xlvi. 21, 1. 27, neither of which occurs in 
the second part of Isaiah ; and B>\3in, ver. 14, for which Isaiah uses 

{J'i2, xlii. 17, xliv. 11. Further, in passages cognate in sense the expres- 
sion is quite different ; cf. 4 and 9 with Isa. xl. 19, 20, xli. 7, where we 
find oij^ instead of p^, which is not used by Isaiah in the sense of 

" move ; " cf. ver. 5 with Isa. xlvi. 7 and xli. 23 ; ver. 12 with Isa. xlv. 18. 
Finally, the two common expressions cannot prove anything, because they 
are found in other books, as ir6l"U D2K>, ver. 16 and Isa. Ixiii. 17, derived 
from Deut. xxxii. 9 ; or iog; niX3¥ ni!"l\ which is used frequently by 
Amos ; cf. Amos iv. 13, v. 27, v. 8, ix. 6, cf. with Jer. xxxiii. 2. — Even T|D3 
in the sense of molten image in ver. 14, as in Isa. xli. 29, xlviii. 5, is found 
also in Dan. xi. 8; consequently this use of the word is no peculiarity of 
the second part of Isaiah. 


cially their way of worshipping their gods ; cf. 17 6809, Acts ix. 
2, xix. 9. T?^ c. 7K, accustom oneself to a thing, used in xiii. 
21 with the synonymous ?V, and in Ps. xviii. 35 (Piel) with ?. 
The signs of heaven are unwonted phenomena in the heavens, 
eclipses of the sun and moon, comets, and unusual conjunctions 
of the stars, which were regarded as the precursors of extra- 
ordinary and disastrous events. We cannot admit Hitz.'s ob- 
jection, that these signs in heaven were sent by Jahveh (Joel 
iii. 3, 4), and that before these, as heralds of judgment, not only 
the heathen, but the Jews themselves, had good cause to be 
dismayed. For the signs that marked the dawning of the day 
of the Lord are not merely such things as eclipses of sun and 
moon, and the like. There is still less ground for Nag.'s idea, 
that the signs of heaven are such as, being permanently there, 
call forth religious adoration from year to year, the primitive 
constellations (Job ix. 9), the twelve signs of the zodiac ; for 
nna (innw), to be in fear, consternari, never means, even in Mai. 
ii. 5, regular or permanent adoration. " For the heathen," etc., 
gives the cause of the fear : the heathen are dismayed before 
these, because in the stars they adored supernatural powers. — 
Ver. 3. The reason of the warning counsel : The ordinances of 
the peoples, i.e. the religious ideas and customs of the heathen, 
are vanity. Kin refers to and is in agreement with the pre- 
dicate ; cf . Ew. § 319, c. The vanity of the religious ordinances 
of the heathen is proved by the vanity of their gods. "For 
wood, which one has hewn out of the forest," sc. it is, viz. the 
god. The predicate is omitted, and must be supplied from ?2n ; 
a word which is in the plural used directly for the false gods ; 
cf. viii. 19, Deut. xxxii. 21, etc. With the axe, sc. wrought, 
"IVy» Rashi explains as axe, and suitably ; for here it means in 
any case a carpenter's tool, whereas this is doubtful in Isa. 
xliv. 12. The images were made of wood, which was covered 
with silver plating and gold ; cf. Isa. xxx. 22, xl. 19. This 
Jeremiah calls adorning them, making them fair with silver 
and gold. When the images were finished, they were fastened 
in their places with hammer and nails, that they might not 
tumble over; cf. Isa. xli. 7, xl. 20. When thus complete, they 
are like a lathe-wrought pillar. In Judg. iv. 5, where alone 
this word elsewhere occurs, ">»fr means palm-tree (= 1»Pi) ', 

chap. x. G-ii. 197 

hero, by a later, derivative usage, = pillar, in support of which 
we can appeal to the Talmudic "WOT, columnam facere, and to 
the 0. T. nnD^PI, pillar of smoke. TW$Q is the work of the 
turning-lathe, Ex. xxv. 18, 31, etc. Lifeless and motionless 
as a turned pillar. 1 Not to be able to speak is to be without 
life ; not to walk, to take not a single step, i.e. to be without 
all power of motion ; cf. Isa. xlvi. 7. The Chald. paraphrases 
correctly : quia non est in Us spiritus vitalis ad ambulandum. 
The incorrect form N«W* for WfcE* is doubtless only a copyist's 
error, induced by the preceding NiL*>J. They can do neither 
good nor evil, neither hurt nor help ; cf. Isa. xli. 23. Drria for 
CflX, as frequently ; see on i. 16. 

Vers. 6-11. The almighty power of Jahveh, the living God. — 
Ver. 6. " None at all is like Thee, Jahveh ; great art Thou, 
and Thy name is great in might. Ver. 7. Who would not 
fear Thee, Thou King of the peoples ? To Thee doth it apper- 
tain ; for among all the wise men of the peoples, and in all 
their kingdoms, there is none at all like unto Thee. Ver. 8. 
But they are all together brutish and foolish ; the teaching of 
the vanities is wood. Ver. 9. Beaten silver, from Tarshish it 
is brought, and gold from Uphaz, work of the craftsman and 
of the hands of the goldsmith ; blue and red purple is their 
clothing ; the w T ork of cunning workmen are they all. Ver. 10. 
But Jahveh is God in truth, He is living God and everlasting 
King ; at His wrath the earth trembles, and the peoples abide 
not His indignation. Ver. 11. Thus shall ye say unto them : 

1 Ew., Hitz., Graf, Nag. follow in the track of Movers, Pliuniz. i. S. 622, 
who takes nvpft ace. to Isa. i. 8 for a cucumber garden, and, ace. to Epist. 
Jerem. v. 70, understands by TVZ'p'ti "10F1 the figure of Priapus in a cucum- 
ber field, serving as a scare-crow. But even if we admit that there is an 
allusion to the verse before us in the mockery of the gods in the passage of 
Epist. Jerem. quoted, running literally as follows : uinrtp yxp iv otKv/ipuTu 
■7rpoi3xaKccvioi/ oiioiv (pv'hciaiov, ovru; ol dioi ccvtuv etui ^v'htyot x.oc.1 Vipixpvaot 
x.oc.1 TTspixpyvpoi ; and if we further admit that the author was led to make 
his comparison by his understanding ntPpO in Isa. i. 8 of a cucumber 
garden ; — yet his comparison has so little in common with our verse in point 
of form, that it cannot at all be regarded as a translation of it, or serve as 
a rule for the interpretation of the phrase in question. And besides it has 
yet to be proved that the Israelites were in the habit of setting up images 
of Priapus as scare- crows. 


The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, these 
shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens." 

In this second strophe Jahveh is contrasted, as the only true 
God and Lord of the world, with the lifeless gods. These there 
is no need to fear, but it behoves all to fear the almighty God, 
since in His wrath He can destroy nations. When compared 
with Ps. lxxxvi. 8, the IP in pxtt seems redundant, — so much so, 
that Ven. pronounces it a copyist's error, and Hitz. sets it aside 
by changing the vowels. The word as it stands contains a 
double negation, and is usually found only in dependent clauses 
with a strong negative force : so that there is none. Here it has 
the same force, but at the beginning of the sentence : none at 
all is as Thou ; cf. Ew. § 323, a. Great is Thy name, i.e. the 
manifestation of Thee in the world, in Thy government of the 
earth. "In (or with) might" belongs to "great:" great with 
might, displaying itself in acts of might ; cf. xvi. 21. Who 
would not fear Thee ? a negative setting of the thought : every 
one must fear Thee. King of the nations ; cf. Ps. xxii. 29, 
xlvii. 8 f., xcvi. 10. nris^ from HIP, air. \e<y. equivalent to nx: 
(whence nii»), to be seemly, suitable. Among the wise men of 
the peoples none is like Thee, so as that any should be able to 
make head against Thee by any clever stroke ; cf. Isa. xix. 12, 
xxix. 14. Nor is there in any kingdom of the peoples any one 
like Jahveh, i.e. in might. It is not merely earthly kings that 
are meant, but the gods of the heathen as well. In no heathen 
kingdom is there any power to be compared with Jahveh. 
We are led here to think also of the pagan gods by ver. 8, 
where the wisdom and almighty power of the living God are 
contrasted with foolishness and vanity of the false gods. nriN'n 
is not : in uno = in una re, sc. idololatria (Rabb.) ; nor is it, as 
Hitz. in most strained fashion makes it : by means of one thing, 
i.e. by (or at) a single word, the word which comes immediately 
after : it is wood, rins is unquestionably neuter, and the force 
of it here is collective, = all together, like the Chald. SHri3. The 
nominative to " are brutish" is "the peoples." The verb T?a 
is denom. from Tja, to be brutish, occurring elsewhere in the 
Kal only in Ps. xciv. 8, Ezek. xxi. 36 ; in the Niph. vers. 14, 
21, li. 17, Isa. xix. 11. ?D3 as verb is found only here; else- 
where we have ^D3, foolish, and ^>D3, folly (Cant. vii. 25), and, 

CHAP. X. 6-11. 199 

as a verb, the transposed form MO. The remaining words of 
the verse make up one clause ; the construction is the same as 
in ver. 3a, but the sense is not : " a mere vain doctrine is the 
wood," i.e. the idol is itself but a doctrine of vanities. In this 
way Ew. takes it, making "wood" the subject of the clause 
and two the predicate. Dy^n "ipiB is the antithesis to "Tin" 1 np^ 
Dent. xi. 2, Prov. iii. 11, Job v. 17. As the latter is the 
iraiSeia of the Lord, so the former is the iraiheia of the false 
gods (B^T!, cf. viii. 19.) The iraiheia of Jahveh displayed 
itself, ace. to Deut. xi. 2, in deeds of might by means of which 
Jahveh set His people Israel free from the power of Egypt. Con- 
sequently it is the education of Israel by means of acts of love and 
chastenings, or, taken more generally, the divine leading and 
guidance of the people. Such a TraiZeia the null and void gods 
could not give to their worshippers. Their iraiheia is wood, i.e. 
not: wooden, but nothing else than that which the gods themselves 
are — wood, which, however it be decked up (ver. 9), remains a 
mere lifeless block. So that the thought of ver. 8 is this : The 
heathen, with all their wise men, are brutish ; since their gods, 
from which they should receive wisdom and instruction, are 
wood. Starting from this, ver. 9 continues to this effect : How- 
ever much this wood be decked out with silver, gold, and purple 
raiment, it remains but the product of men's hands; by no such 
process does the wood become a god. The description of the 
polishing off of the wood into a god is loosely attached to the 
predicate XV, by way of an enumeration of the various things 
made use of therefor. The specification served to make the 
picture the more graphic ; what idols were made of was familiar 
to everybody. 1^")*?, beat out into thin plates for coating over 
the wooden image ; cf. Ex. xxxix. 3, Num. xvii. 3 f. As to 
^Khri j Tartessus in Spain, the source of the silver, see on 
Ezek. xxvii. 12. Gold from Ophir ; T31X here and Dan. x. 5 is 
only a dialectical variety of T'SiK, see on 1 Kings ix. 27. As 
to blue and red purple, see on Ex. xxv. 4. Q V^., skilful 
artisans, cf. Isa. xl. 20. They all, i.e. all the idols. — Ver. 10. 
Whereas Jahveh is really and truly God. rtCX DTO* (standing 
in apposition), God in truth, "truth" being strongly contrasted 
with "vanity," and "living God" (cf. Deut. v. 23) with the 
dead gods (vers. 5, 8) ; and everlasting King of the whole world 


(cf. Ps. x. 16, xxix. 10, Ex. xv. 18), before whose wrath the 
earth trembles and the peoples quake with terror ; cf. Nah. i. 
5, Joel ii. 11, Ps. xcvii. 5. X& N? (written as in ii. 13), they 
hold not, do not hold out, do not endure. 

Ver. 11 is Chaldee. But it must not be regarded as a gloss 
that has found its way into the text, on the grounds on which 
Houb., Ven., Eos., Ew., Hitz., Gr., etc., so regard it, namely, 
because it is Chaldee, and because there is an immediate con- 
nection between vers. 10 and 12. Both the language in which 
the verse is written, and the subject-matter of it, are unfavour- 
able to this view. The latter does not bear the character of a 
gloss ; and no copyist would have interpolated a Chaldee verse 
into the Hebrew text. Besides, the verse is found in the Alex- 
andrian version ; and in point of sense it connects very suit- 
ably with ver. 10 : Jahveh is everlasting King, whereas the 
gods which have not made heaven and earth shall perish from 
the earth and from under the heavens. This the Israelites are 
to say to the idolaters. Ki?*]*? is the harder form for KJhK. The 
last word, H?S, is Hebrew ; it does not belong to KJO^ but 
serves to emphasize the subject : the gods — these shall perish. 
Jeremiah wrote the verse in Chaldee, ut Judceis suggerat, quo- 
modo Chaldceis (ad quos 11011 nisi Chaldaice loqui poterant) 
paucis verbis respondendum sit, as Seb. Schm. has remarked. 
The thought of this verse is a fitting conclusion to the exhorta- 
tion not to fear the gods of the heathen ; it corresponds to the 
5th verse, with which the first strophe concludes the warning 
against idolatry. The Israelites are not only not to fear the null 
and void gods of the heathen, but they are to tell the heathen 
that their gods will perish from the earth and from under the 

Vers. 12-16. The third strophe. — In it the almighty power of 
the living God is shown from His providential government of 
nature, the overthrow of the false gods in the time of judgment is 
declared, and, finally, the Creator of the universe is set forth as 
the God of Israel.— Ver. 12. " That made the earth by His 
power, that founded the world by His wisdom, and by His 
understanding stretched out the heavens. Ver. 13. When He 
thundering makes the roar of waters in the heavens, He causes 
clouds to rise from the ends of the earth, makes lightnings 

CHAP. X. 12-16. 201 

for the rain, and brings the wind forth out of His treasuries. 
Ver. 14. Brutish becomes every man without knowledge ; 
ashamed is every goldsmith by reason of the image, for false- 
hood is his molten image, and there is no spirit in them. Ver. 
15. Vanity are they, a work of mockery ; in the time of their 
visitation they perish. Ver. 16. Not like these is the portion 
of Jacob : the framer of (the) all is He, and Israel is the 
stock of His inheritance : Jahveh of hosts is His name." 

In point of form, " that made the earth," etc., connects with 
"Jahveh God," ver. 10; but in respect of its matter, the de- 
scription of God as Creator of heaven and earth is led up to by 
the contrast : The gods which have not made the heaven and 
the earth shall perish. The subject to nb>y and the following 
verbs is not expressed, but may be supplied from the contrasted 
statement of ver. 11, or from the substance of the several state- 
ments in ver. 12. The connection may be taken thus: The 
true God is the one making the earth by His pow T er = is He 
that made, etc. As the creation of the earth is a work of God's 
almighty power, so the establishing, the founding of it upon the 
waters (Ps. xxiv. 2) is an act of divine wisdom, and the stretching 
out of the heavens over the earth like a tent (Isa. xl. 22 ; Ps. civ. 
2) is a work of intelligent design. On this cf. Isa. xlii. 5, xliv. 24, 
xlv. 18, li. 13. Every thunder-storm bears witness to the wise 
and almighty government of God, ver. 13. The words ?ip? 
inn are difficult. Ace. to Ew. § 307, b, they stand for ^? inr6 : 
when He gives His voice, i.e. when He thunders. In support 
of this it may be said, that the mention of lightnings, rain, 
and wind suggests such an interpretation. But the trans- 
position of the words cannot be justified. Hitz. has justly re- 
marked : The putting of the accusative first, taken by itself, 
might do ; but not when it must at the same time be stat. 
constr., and when its genitive thus separated from it would 
assume the appearance of being an accusative to faW. Besides, 
we would expect Wp nn? rather than Tip inn?, inn ?ip cannot 
grammatically be rendered : the voice which He gives, as Nag. 
would have it, but : the voice of His giving ; and " roar of 
waters" must be the accusative of the object, governed by foUjl. 
Hence we must protest against the explanation of L. de Dieu : 
ad vocem dationis ejus midtitudo aquarian est in ccelo, at least if 


ad vocem dationis is tantamount to simid ac dot. Just as little 
can sw> taken by itself mean thunder, so that ad vocem should, 
with Schnur., be interpreted by tonitru est dare ejus midtitu- 
dinem aquce. The only grammatically feasible explanation is 
the second of those proposed by L. de Dieu : ad vocem dandi 
ipsum, i.e. qua dat vel ponit multitudinem aquarum. So Hitz. : 
at the roar of His giving wealth of waters. Accordingly we 
expound : at the noise, when He gives the roar of waters in 
heaven, He raises up clouds from the ends of the earth ; taking, 
as we do, the n?|W to be a 1 consec. introducing the supple- 
mentary clause. The voice or noise with which God gives the 
roar or the fulness of waters in the heaven, is the sound of the 
thunder. With this the gathering of the dark thunder-clouds 
is put into causal connection, as it appears to be to the eye ; 
for during the thunder we see the thunder-clouds gather thicker 
and darker on the horizon. N*B>3, the ascended, poetic word 
for cloud. Lightnings for the rain ; i.e. since the rain comes 
as a consequence of the lightning, for the lightning seems to 
rend the clouds and let them pour their water out on the earth. 
Thunder-storms are always accompanied by a strong wind. 
God causes the wind to go forth from His store-chambers, 
where He has it also under custody, and blow over the earth. 
See a like simile of the store-chambers of the snow and hail, 
Job xxxviii. 22 f. From i"6jn onwards, this verse is repeated 
in Ps. cxxxv. 7. — Ver. 14 f. In presence of such marvels of 
divine power and wisdom, all men seem brutish and ignorant 
(away from knowledge = without knowledge), and all makers 
of idols are put to shame "because of the image" which they 
make for a god, and which is but a deception, has no breath 
of life. ^JD3, prop, drink-offering, libamen, cf. vii. 15 ; here 
molten image = HiJQDj as in Isa. xli. 29, xlviii. 5, Dan. xi. 8. 
Vanity they are, these idols made by the goldsmith. A work 
of mockings, i.e. that is exposed to ridicule when the nullity of 
the things taken to be gods is clearly brought to light. Others : 
A work which makes mockery of its worshippers, befools and 
deludes them (Hitz., Nag.). In the time of their visitation, 
cf. vi. 15. — Ver. 16. Quite other is the portion of Jacob, i.e. 
the God who has fallen to the lot of Jacob (the people of 
Israel) as inheritance. The expression is formed after Deut. 

CHAP. X. 17-25. 203 

iv. 19, 20, where it is said of sun, moon, and stars that Jahveh 
has apportioned (P? 1 ?) them to the heathen as gods, but has 
taken Israel that it may be to Him npnj DID ; accordingly Israel 
is in Deut. xxxii. 9 called fWV p?n ; while in Ps. xvi. 5 David 
praises Jahveh as Sp?rrn3D. For He is the framer /bn^ i, e . of 
the universe. Israel is the stock of His inheritance, i.e. the 
race which belongs to Him as a peculiar possession. in?H? D2tr 
is like ilWU ??n, Deut. xxxii. 9 ; in Ps. lxxiv. 2 it is said of 
Mount Zion, and in Isa. lxiii. 17 it is used in the plural, 
'j *D38?, of the godly servants of the Lord. The name of this 
God, the framer of the universe, is Jahveh of hosts — the God 
whom the hosts of heaven, angels and stars, serve, the Lord 
and Ruler of the whole world ; cf. Isa. liv. 5, Amos iv. 13. 

Vers. 17-25. The captivity of the people, their lamentation for 
the devastation of the land, and entreaty that the punishment may 
be mitigated. — Ver. 17. " Gather up thy bundle out of the 
land, thou that sittest in the siege. Ver. 18. For thus hath 
Jahveh spoken : Behold, I hurl forth the inhabitants of the 
land this time, and press them hard, that they may find them. 
Ver. 19. Woe is me for my hurt ! grievous is my stroke ! yet 
I think : This is my suffering, and I will bear it ! Ver. 20. My 
tent is despoiled, and all my cords are rent asunder. My sons 
have forsaken me, and are gone : none stretches forth my tent 
any more, or hangs up my curtains. Ver. 21. For the shep- 
herds are become brutish, and have not sought Jahveh ; there- 
fore they have not dealt wisely, and the whole flock is scattered. 
— Ver. 22. Hark ! a rumour : behold, it comes, and great com- 
motion from the land of midnight, to make the cities of Judah 
a desolation, an abode of jackals. — Ver. 23. I know, Jahveh, 
that the way of man is not in himself, nor in the man that 
walketh to fix his step. Ver. 24. Chasten me, Jahveh, but 
according to right ; not in Thine anger, lest Thou make me 
little. Ver. 25. Pour out Thy fury upon the peoples that 
know Thee not, and upon the races that call not upon Thy 
name ! for they have devoured Jacob, have devoured him and 
made an end of him. and laid his pastures waste." 

In ver. 17 the congregation of the people is addressed, and 
captivity in a foreign land is announced to them. This an- 
nouncement stands in connection with ix. 25, in so far as 


captivity is the accomplishment of the visitation of Judah 
threatened in ix. 24. That connection is not, however, quite 
direct ; the announcement is led up to by the warning against 
idolatry of vers. 1-16, inasmuch as it furnishes confirmation of 
the threat uttered in ver. 15, that the idols shall perish in the 
day of their visitation, and shows besides how, by its folly in 
the matter of idolatry, Judah has drawn judgment down on 
itself. The confession in ver. 21 : the shepherds are become 
brutish, points manifestly back to the description in ver. 14 
of the folly of the idolaters, and exhibits the connection of 
vers. 17-25 with the preceding warning against idolatry. 
For " gather up," etc., Hitz. translates : gather thy trumpery 
from the ground ; so that the expression would have a con- 
temptuous tone. But the meaning of rubbish cannot be 
proved to belong to ny33 ; and the mockery that would lie in 

the phrase is out of place. '"U>j3, from ^_^, contraliere, con- 

stipare, means that which is put together, packed up, one's 
bundle. The connection of ^ and H*?£ is pregnant : put up 
thy bundle and carry it forth of the land. As N. G. Schroeder 
suspected, there is about the expression something of the nature 
of a current popular phrase, like the German Schniir dein Bilndel, 
pack up, i.e. make ready for the road. She who sits in the 
siege. The daughter of Zion is meant, but we must not limit 
the scope to the population of Jerusalem ; as is clear from 
" inhabitants of the land," ver. 18, the population of the whole 
land are comprised in the expression. As to the form ^^'^N 
see at xxii. 23. 'SDK with dag. lene after the sibilant, as in 
Isa. xlvii. 2. " I hurl forth " expresses the violent manner of 
the captivity; cf. Isa. xxii. 17 f. "This time;" hitherto hos- 
tile invasions ended with plundering and the imposition of a 
tribute : 2 Kino-s xiv. 14, xvi. 5, xviii. 13 f. — And I press them 
hard, or close them in, IK*!?? |JJ07. These words are variously 
explained, because there is no object expressed, and there may 
' be variety of opinion as to what is the subject. Hitz., Umbr., 
Nag., take the verb find in the sense of feel, and so the object \££ 
would easily be supplied from the verb 'JJJDS : so that they 
may feel it, i.e. I will press them sensibly. But we cannot 
make sure of this meaning for N?ft either from xvii. 9 or from 

CIIAP. X. 17-25. 205 

Eccles. viii. 17, where know (JHJ) and K^? are clearly identical 
conceptions. Still less is Graf entitled to supply as object : 
that which they seek and are to find, namely, God. His appeal 
in support of this to passages like Ps. xxxii. G, Deut. iv. 27 and 
29, proves nothing ; for in such the object is manifestly sug- 
gested by the context, which is not the case here. A jnst con- 
clusion is obtained when we consider that "rhyn contains a_play 
on "»iSB3 in ver. 17, and cannot be understood otherwise than 
as a hemming in by means of a siege. The aim of the siege is 
to bring those hemmed in under the power of the besiegers, to 
£et at, reach them, or find them. Hence we must take the 
enemy as subject to "find," while the object is given in &?}? : 
so that they (the enemy) may find them (the besieged). Thus 
too Jerome, who translates the disputed verb passively : et 
tribulabo eos nt inveniantur ; while he explains the meaning 
thus: sic eos obsideri faciam^ sicque tribulabo et coangustabo, ut 
omnes in urbe reperiantur et effugere nequeant malum. Taken 
thus, the second clause serves to strengthen the first : I will 
hurl forth the inhabitants of this land into a foreign land, and 
none shall avoid this fate, for I will so hem them in that none 
shall be able to escape. 

This harassment will bring the people to their senses, so that 
they shall humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. 
Such feelings the prophet utters at ver. 19 ff., in the name of 
the congregation, as he did in the like passage iv. 19 f. As 
from the hearts of those who had been touched bv their afflic- 
tion, he exclaims : Woe is me for my breach ! i.e. my crashing 
overthrow. The breach is that sustained by the state in its 
destruction, see at iv. G. npn^ grown sick, i.e. grievous, incur- 
able is the stroke that has fallen upon me. For this word we 
have in xv. 18 "ipJX, which is explained by " rcfuseth to be 
healed." ^Nl introduces an antithesis : but I say, sc. in my 
heart, i.e. I think. Hitz. gives ^ the force of a limitation = 
nothing further than this, but wrongly; and, taking the perf. 
WlDK as a preterite, makes out the import to be : " in their state 
of careless security they had taken the matter Jightlvj saying 
as it were, If no further calamity than this menace us, we may ] 
be well content ; " a thought quite foreign to the context. For 
"this my suffering" can be nothing else than the "hurt" on 


account of which the speaker laments, or the stroke which he 
calls dangerous, incurable. ^K has, besides, frequently the force 
of positive asseveration: yea, certainly (cf. Ew. § 354, a), a force 
readily derived from that of only, nothing else than. And so 
here: only this, i.e. even this is my suffering, vn, sickness, here 
suffering in general, as in Hos. v. 13, Isa. liii. 3 f ., etc. The 
old translators took the Yod as pronoun (my suffering), whence 
it would be necessary to point yTI, like ^a, Zeph. ii. 9 ; cf. 
Ew. § 293, b, Rem. — The suffering which the congregation must 
bear consists in the spoliation of the land and the captivity of 
the people, represented in ver. 20 under the figure of a 
destruction of their tent and the disappearance of their sons. 
The Chald. has fairly paraphrased the verse thus : my land is 
laid waste and all my cities are plundered, my people has gone 
off (into exile) and is no longer here. 'JMP construed with the 
accus. like egredi urbem ; cf. Gen. xliv. 4, etc. — From " my sons 
have forsaken me" Nag. draws the inference that vers. 19 and 
20 are the words of the country personified, since neither the 
prophet could so speak, nor the people, the latter being indeed 
identical with the sons, and so not forsaken, but forsaking;. 
This inference rests on a mistaken view of the figure of the 
daughter of Zion, in which is involved the conception of the 
inhabitants of a land as the children of the land when personi- 
fied as mother. Nor is there any evidence that the land is 
speaking in the words : I think, This is my suffering, etc. It is 
besides alleged that the words give no expression to any sense 
of guilt ; they are said, on the contrary, to give utterance to a 
consolation which only an innocent land draws from the fact 
that a calamity is laid upon it, a calamity which must straight- 
way be borne. This is neither true in point of fact, nor 
does it prove the case. The words, This is my suffering, 
etc., indicate resignation to the inevitable, not innocence or 
undeserved suffering. Hereon Graf remarks : " The suffering 
was unmerited, in so far as the prophet and the godly amongst 
the people were concerned ; but it was inevitable that he and 
they should take it upon their shoulders, along with the rest." 
Asserted with so great width, this statement cannot be ad- 
mitted. The present generation bears the punishment not 
only for the sins of many past generations, but for its own 

CHAP. X. 17-25. 207 

sins ; nor were the godly themselves free from sin and guilt, 
for they acknowledge the justice of God's chastisement, and 
pray God to chasten them BBB>M, not in anger (ver. 24). 
Besides, we cannot take the words as spoken by the prophet or 
by the godly as opposed to the ungodly, since it is the sons 
of the speaker (" my sons ") that are carried captive, who can 
certainly not be the sons of the godly alone. — Ver. 21. The 
cause of this calamity is that the shepherds, i.e. the princes and 
leaders of the people (see on ii. 8, iii. 15), are become brutish, 
have not sought Jahveh, i.e. have not sought wisdom and 
guidance from the Lord. And so they could not deal wisely, 
i.e. rule the people with wisdom, ^^H is here not merely : 
have prosperity, but : show wisdom, deal wisely, securing thus 
the blessed results of wisdom. This is shown both by the 
contrasted " become brutish " and by the parallel passage, 
iii. 15. OJVjno, their pasturing, equivalent to " flock of their 
pasturing," their flock, xxiii. 1. 

The calamity over which the people mourns is drawing near, 
ver. 22. Already is heard the tremendous din of a mighty 
host which approaches from the north to make the cities of 
Judah a wilderness. itJfttttP b\p is an exclamation : listen to the 
rumour, it is coming near. From a grammatical point of view 
the subject to " comes " is " rumour," but in point of sense 
it is that of which the rumour gives notice. Graf weakens 
the sense by gathering the words into one assertory clause : 
" They hear a rumour come." The " great commotion" is that 
of an army on the march, the clattering of the weapons, the 
stamping and neighing of the war-horses ; cf. vi. 23, viii. 16. 
From the land of midnight, the north, cf. i. 14, iv. 6, etc. 
" To make the cities," etc., cf. iv. 7, ix. 10. — The rumour of 
the enemy's approach drives the people to prayer, vers. 23-25. 
The prayer of these verses is uttered in the name of the con- 
gregation. It begins with the confession : Not with man is 
his way, i.e. it is not within man's power to arrange the course 
of his life, nor in the power of the man who walks to fix his 
step (1 before p3|1 merely marking the connection of the 
thought ; cf. EwJ § 348, a). The antithesis to n^ and 
&vh is Tmbj with God; cf. Ps. xxxvii. 23, Prov. xvi. 9 : Man's 
heart deviseth his way, but Jahveh establisheth the steps. The 


thought is not : it is not in man's option to walk in straight or 
crooked, good or evil ways, but : the directing of man, the way 
by which he must go, lies not in his own but in God's power. 
Hitz. justly finds here the wisdom that admits : " Mit unserer 
Macht ist niclits getan" — man's destiny is ordained not by him- 
self, but by God. Upon this acquiescence in God's dispensa- 
tion of events follows the petition : Chasten me, for I have 
deserved punishment, but chasten BSK'ps, ace. to right, not in 
Thine anger ; cf. Ps. vi. 2, xxxviii. 2. A chastening in anger 
is the judgment of wrath that shall fall on obstinate sinners 
and destroy them. A chastening ace. to right is one such as is 
demanded by right (judgment), as the issue of God's justice, 
in order to the reclamation and conversion of the repentant 
sinner. " Lest Thou make me little," insignificant, puny ; not 
merely, diminish me, make me smaller than I now am. For 
such a decrease of the people would result even from a gentle 
chastisement. There is no comparative force in the words. To 
make small, in other words, reduce to a small, insignificant 
people. This would be at variance with " right," with God's 
ordained plan in regard of His people. The expression is not 
equivalent to: not to make an utter end, xxx. 11, etc. The 
people had no call to pray that they might escape being made 
an utter end of ; thus much had been promised by God, iv. 27, 
v. 10. — God is asked to pour forth His fury upon the heathen 
who know not the Lord nor call upon His name, because they 
seek to extirpate Jacob (the people of Israel) as the people of 
God, at this time found in Judah alone. The several words in 
ver. 256 suggest the fury with which the heathen proceed to the 
destruction of Israel. The present verse is reproduced in Ps. 
lxxix. 6, 7, a psalm written during the exile, or at least after the 
destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans ; but in the repro- 
duction the energetic expansion of the " devoured " is omitted. 


In the first part of this compilation of discourses (ch. xi. 
1-17) Judah is upbraided for disloyalty to the covenant, on 
account of which people and kingdom are threatened with sore 

CHAP. XL 1-S. 209 

disaster. In the second part (xi. 18-xii. 17), the murderous 
attempt of the people of Anathoth against the prophet's life 
(xi. 18-23) gives occasion for a description of Judah's irre- 
claimable perverseness ; while Jeremiah's expostulation with 
God as to the prosperity of godless men, and the reproof there- 
for received by him from God (xii. 1-6), call forth an anounce- 
ment that, in spite of God's long-suffering, judgment on Judah 
and all nations will not be for ever deferred (xii. 7-17). Finally, 
in the third part, ch. xiii., we have first a further account, by 
means of a symbolical action to be performed by the prophet, 
of the abasement of Judah's pride in banishment to the 
Euphrates (vers. 1-11) ; and next, an account of the judg- 
ment about to fall on Judah in the destruction of Jerusalem, 
and this both in figurative and in direct language (vers. 

From the contents of the discourses it appears unquestion- 
able that we have here, gathered into the unity of a written 
record, various oral addresses of Jeremiah, together with some 
of the experiences that befell him in the exercise of his calling. 
There is no foundation for the assertion, that xii. 7-17 is a self- 
complete prophetic discourse (Hitz.), or a supplement to the 
rest, written in the last years of Jehoiakim (Graf) ; nor for 
the assumption of several commentators, that the composition 
of ch. xiii. falls into the time of Jehoiachin, — as will be shown 
when we come to expound the passages referred to. The dis- 
course throughout contains nothing that mifdit not have been 
spoken or have happened in the time of Josiah ; nor have we 
here any data for determining precisely the dates of the several 
portions of the whole discourse. 

Chap. xi.. 1-17. Judah's disloyalty to the covenant, 
with the consequences thereof. — In vers. 2-8 is a short 
summary of the covenant made with the fathers ; in vers. 9-la 
is an account of the breaking of this covenant by Judah, and 
of the calamity which results therefrom ; and in vers. 14-17 
further description of this calamity. 

Vers. 1-8. a The word which came to Jeremiah from Jahveh, 
saying : Ver. 2. Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak 
to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, 

vol. r. o 


Ver. 3. And say thou to them : Thus hath Jahveh, the God of 
Israel, said : Cursed is the man that heareth not the words of 
this covenant, Ver. 4. Which I commanded your fathers in the 
day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of 
the iron furnace, saying : Hearken to my voice, and do them 
according to all which I command you ; so shall ye be my 
people, and I will be your God ; Ver. 5. That I may perform 
the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a 
land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. And I 
answered and said : So be it, Jahveh. Ver. 6. Then said 
Jahveh to me : Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah 
and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying : Hear ye the words of 
this covenant and do them. Ver. 7. For I have testified to 
your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land 
of Egypt unto this day, testifying from early morning on : 
Hearken to my voice ! Ver. 8. But they hearkened not, nor 
inclined their ear, but walked each in the stubbornness of their 
evil heart ; and so I brought on them all the words of this 
covenant which I have commanded them to do, and they have 
not done them." 

The form of address, ver. 2 : hear ye (W*f>^), and speak ye 
(Dn")^), is noteworthy, since we are not told who are to hear 
and speak; while at ver. 3, in ™^. Jeremiah receives the 
commission to declare the words of the covenant to the people, 
and to make known in the cities of Judah, etc. (ver. 6). The 
difficulty is not removed by the plan adopted by Hitz. and 
Graf from the LXX., of changing 21?)?}] into DWiaTI, « and 
speak them ;" for the WQ& remains to be dealt with. To whom, 
then, is it addressed % Schleussner proposed to change it into 
HJM?^ — a purely arbitrary change. In ver. 4 " hearing" is used 
in the sense of giving ear to, obeying. And in no other sense 
can it be taken in ver. 1. " The words of this covenant" are, 
as is clear from the succeeding context, the words of the cove- 
nant recorded in the Pentateuch, known from the reading of 
the Torah. The call to hear the words thereof can only have 
the meaning of : to give ear to them, take them to heart. Hence 
Chr. B. Mich, and Schnur. have referred the words to the 
Jews : Listen, ye Jews and ye citizens of Jerusalem, to the 
words of the covenant, and make them known to one another, 

CHAP. XL 1-8. 211 

and exhort one another to observe them. But this paraphrase 
is hardly consistent with the wording of the verse. Others 
fancied that the priests and elders were addressed ; but if so, 
these must necessarily have been named. Clearly it is to the 
prophets in general that the words are spoken, as Kimchi 
observed ; and we must not take " hear ye" as if the covenant 
was unknown to the prophets, but as intended to remind the 
prophets of them, that they might enforce them upon the 
people. Taken thus, this introductory verse serves to exalt the 
importance of the truths mentioned, to mark them out as truths 
which God had commanded all the prophets to proclaim. If it 
be the prophets in general who are addressed in ver. 2, the 
transition to " and say thou " is easily explained. Jeremiah, 
too, must himself do that which was the bounden duty of all 
the prophets, must make the men of Judah and Jerusalem call 
to mind the curse overhanging transgressors of the covenant. 
The words: Cursed is the man, etc., are taken from Deut. xxvii. 
26, from the directions for the engagement to keep the cove- 
nant, which the people were to solemnise upon their entry into 
Canaan, and which, ace. to Josh. viii. 30 ff., they did solemnise. 
The quotation is made freely from memory. Instead of " that 
heareth not the words of this covenant," we find in Deut. I.e. : 
" that confirmeth not (E^) the words of this law to do them." 
The choice there of the word D*jpj is suggested by its connec- 
tion with the act of solemnisation enjoined. The recitation and 
promulgation of the law upon Mount Gerizim and Ebal (Deut. 
xxvii.) had no other aim than that of solemnly binding the 
people to keep or follow the law ; and this is what Jeremiah 
means by " hearing." The law to be established is the law of 
the covenant, i.e. the covenant made by Jahveh with Israel, 
and spoken of in Deut. xxviii. 69 and xxix. 8 as the " words 
of this covenant." This covenant, which Moses had made with 
the sons of Israel in the land of Moab (Deut. xxviii. 69), was 
but a renewal of that solemnly concluded at Sinai (Ex. xxiv.). 
And so Jeremiah speaks of this covenant as the one which 
Jahveh commanded the fathers in the day, i.e. at the time, of 
their leaving Egypt. " In the day that," etc., as in vii. 22. 
"Out of the iron furnace;" this metaphor for the affliction 
endured by Israel in Egypt is taken from Deut. iv. 20. The 


words : hearken unto my voice and do them (the words of the 
covenant), suggest Deut. xxvii. 1, 2 ; and the words : so shall 
ye be my people, suggest Deut. xxix. 12, a passage which itself 
points back to Ex. vi. 7 (xix. 5 f.), Lev. xxvi. 12, Deut. vii. 6, 
etc. That I may establish, i.e. perform, the oath which I have 
sworn unto your fathers, i.e. the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacob (Deut. vii. 8, etc.), promising to give them a land 
flowing, etc. The frequently repeated description of the pro- 
mised land ; cf. Ex. iii. 8, 17, Deut. vi. 3, etc. run Bi'3, as in 
Deut. ii. 30, iv. 20, etc., is not : at this time, now (Graf), but : 
as this day, meaning : as is even now the case, sc. that ye still 
possess this precious land. The assenting reply of the prophet : 
niiT |OX, yea, or so be it {<yevono, LXX.), Lord, corresponds 
to the ipx with which the people, ace. to Deut. xxvii. 15 ff., 
were to take on themselves the curses attached to the breaking 
of the law, curses which they did take on themselves when the 
law was promulgated in Canaan. As the whole congregation 
did on that occasion, so here the prophet, by his " yea," ex- 
presses his adherence to the covenant, and admits that the 
engagement is yet in full force for the congregation of God ; 
and at the same time indicates that he, on his part, is ready to 
labour for the fulfilment of the covenant, so that the people 
may not become liable to the curse of the law. — Vers. 6-8. 
Having set forth the curse to which transgressors of the law 
are exposed, God commands the prophet to proclaim the words 
of the covenant to the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem, 
and to call upon them to do these. " All these words " are 
those subsequently specified, i.e. the commandments of the law 
(cf. ver. 2). Jeremiah is to proclaim these, because, in spite of 
unremitting exhortation to hear and give heed to the voice of 
the Lord, the fathers had paid no regard thereto. N"}i?, not : 
read aloud (Hitz., Graf), but : proclaim, make known, as in 
ii. 2, iii. 12, etc. TJJn with 3, to testify against any one, equi- 
valent to : solemnly to enforce on one with importunate counsel 
and warning ; cf. Deut. xxx. 19, Ps. 1. 7, etc. On *wm D3f n, 
see at vii. 13. — But they have not hearkened, ver. 8a, running 
almost literally in the words of vii. 24. " And I brought upon 
them," etc., i.e. inflicted upon them the punishments with which 
transgressors of the law were threatened, which curses had 

CHAP. XI. 9-13. 213 

been, in the case of the greater part of the people, the ten 
tribes, carried to the extreme length, i.e. to the length of their 
banishment from their own land into the midst of the heathen ; 
cf. 2 Kin^s xvii. 13 ff. 

Vers. 9-13. Tlie people s breach of the covenant, and the con- 
sequences of this. — Ver. 9. " And Jahveh said unto me : Con- 
spiracy is found among the men of Judah and the inhabitants 
of Jerusalem. Ver. 10. They are turned back to the iniquities 
of their forefathers, which refused to give ear to my words, 
and they are gone after other gods to serve them ; the house 
of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant 
which I made with their fathers. Ver. 11. Behold, I bring 
evil upon them, from which they cannot escape ; and though 
they cry to me, I will not hear them. Ver. 12. And the cities 
of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall go and cry 
unto the gods unto whom they offer incense, but they shall not 
help them in the time of their trouble. Ver. 13. For as mani- 
as are thy cities, so many are thy gods become, O Judah ; and 
as many as are the streets of Jerusalem, so many altars have 
ye set up to Shame, altars to offer odours to Baal." 

Jeremiah is once more to enforce the words of the covenant 
upon the people, because they have broken the covenant, re- 
turned to the idolatry of the fathers. Conspiracy is found, is 
to be seen. The people's defection from Jahveh, their breach 
of faith towards the covenant God, is called conspiracy, be- 
cause it had become as universal as if it had been initiated by 
a formal preconcertment. " The former fathers," forefathers 
of the people, are the Israelites under Moses, who broke the 
covenant by idolatry while still at Sinai, and those of the time 
of the Judges. With nani the subject is changed; "they" 
are not the forefathers, but the prophet's contemporaries. In 
the last clause of ver. 10 is comprehended the apostasy of the 
whole people : Like Israel, Judah too has broken the covenant. 
Israel has been punished for this by being cast out among the 
heathen, the like doom awaits Judah. — Ver. 11. Because of 
the covenant broken, the Lord will brin<r on Judah and Jeru- 
salem evil out of which they shall not come forth, i.e. not 
merely, from which they shall not escape safely, but : in which 
they shall find no way of rescue ; for if in this calamity they 


cry to the Lord, He will not hear them. Nor will the gods 
whom they serve, i.e. the false gods, help them then. As to 
" as many as are," etc., see on ii. 28. " (The) Shame," i.e. 
Baal, as at iii. 24. 

Vers. 14-17. Neither entreaty on their behalf nor their hypo- 
critical tvorship will avert judgment. — Ver. 14. " But thou, pray 
not for this people, neither lift up for them cry or prayer ; for 
I hear them not in the time that they cry unto me for their 
trouble. Ver. 15. What would my beloved in my house ? they 
who practise guile? Shall vows and holy flesh remove thy 
calamity from thee ? then mayest thou exult. Ver. 16. A 
green olive, fair for its goodly fruit, Jahveh called thy name ; 
with the noise of great tumult He set fire to it, and its branches 
brake. Ver. 17. And Jahveh of hosts, that planted thee, hath 
decreed evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel 
and of the house of Judah which they themselves have done, 
to provoke me, in that they have offered odours to Baal." 

We have already, in chap. vii. 16, met with the declaration 
that the Lord will not accept any intercession for the covenant- 
breaking people (ver. 14) ; the termination of this verse differs 
slightly in the turn it takes. — Dl"ljn 1J?n the ancient commenta- 
tors have almost unanimously rendered : tempore mali eorum, 
as if they had read J"IJJ3 (this is, in fact, the reading of some 
codd.) ; but hardly on sufficient grounds. 1W3 gives a suitable 
sense, with the force of the Greek dfi<f)i, which, like the German 
urn, passes into the sense of icegen, as the English about passes 
into that of concerning. — In vers. 15-17 we have the reason 
why the Lord will hear neither the prophet's supplication nor 
the people's cry in their time of need. Ver. 15 is very obscure ; 
and from the Masoretic text it is hardly possible to obtain a 
suitable sense. " The beloved" of Jahveh is Judah, the cove- 
nant people ; cf. Deut. xxxiii. 12, where Benjamin is so called, 
and Jer. xii. 7, where the Lord calls His people H?B3 ffiTT. 
" What is to my beloved in my house ? " i.e. what has my 
people to do in my house — what does it want there ? " My 
house" is the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, as appears 
from the mention of holy flesh in the second clause. The 
main difficulty lies in the words B»3nn nriBttpn nrrib>J>. Hitz. 
takes nnSb'V to be the subject of the clause, and makes the 

PBAP. XI. 14-17. 215 

suffix point back to "'TT* which, as collective, is to be construed 
generis fcem.: what should the accomplishment of his plans be to 
my beloved in my house? But as adverse to this we must 
note, a. the improbability of "PT as used of the people being 
feminine ; b. the fact that even if we adopt Hitz.'s change of 
nneTJpn into niftTOn, yet the latter word does not mean plans or 
designs to bring offerings. The phrase is clearly to be taken by 
itself as a continuation of the question ; and the suffix to be re- 
garded, with Ew., Umbr., etc., as pointing, in the Aramaic 
fashion, to the object following : they who practise guile, norp, 
a thinking out, devising, usually of hurtful schemes, here guile, 
as in Ps. cxxxix. 20, Job xxi. 27. What is meant is the hypocrisy 
of cloaking their apostasy from God by offering sacrifices in the 
temple, of concealing their idolatry and passing themselves 
off as worshippers of Jahveh. On the form nnBH?, see Ew. 
§ 173, g, Gesen. § 80, Rem. 2,/. D^nn makes no sense. It be- 
longs manifestly to the words which follow ; for it can neither 
be subject to nnib'i?, nor can it be joined to nriftTon as its geni- 
tive. The LXX. render : firj ev^al kcll /cpea ayia acpeXovaiv 
cnrb gov Tas" Ka/cia<; gov ; and following this, Dathe, Dahl., Ew., 
Hitz. hold D'niin to be the original reading. On the other 
hand, Maur., Graf, and Nag. think we should read B*3*in (after 
Ps. xxxii. 7) or CS"!^ crying, loud supplication ; on the ground 
of Buxtorf's hint, Anticrit. p. 661, that probably the Alex- 
andrians had EP3"in in their text, but, changing the 2 for 2, read 
D^-in. We must make our choice between these two conjec- 
tures ; for even if C^nn did not stand in the codex used bv the 
Alexandrians, it cannot have been the original word. The 
form B*3"l is, indeed, sufficiently attested by 1372 "Ti, Ps. xxxii. 
7 ; but the meaning of exultation which it has there is here 
wholly out of place. And we find no case of a plural to nsi, 
which means both exultation and piteous, beseeching cry {e.g. 
vii. 16). So that, although T&"\ is in the LXX. occasionally 
rendered by Serjcra (xi. 14, xiv. 12, etc.) or irpoaev^} (1 Kings 
viii. 28), we prefer the conjecture DPyiM ; for " vow" is in better 
keeping with " holy flesh," i.e. flesh of sacrifice, Hag. ii. 12, since 
the vow was generally carried out by offering sacrifice. — Nor do 
the following words, 'U1 sJvfD ^V], convey any meaning, with- 
out some alteration. As quoted above, they may be translated : 


shall pass away from thee. But this can mean neither : they 
shall be torn from thee, nor : they shall disappoint thee. And 
even if this force did lie in the words, no statement can begin 
with the following Wljn "'D. If this be a protasis, the verb is 

O • " T T 1 7 

wanting. We shall have to change it, after the manner of 
the LXX., to *3njn ^Jflo rap : shall vows and holy flesh 
(sacrifice) avert thine evil from thee ? For the form VQJP as 
Hiph. cf. »TT, ix. 2. "Thine evil" with the double force: 
thy sin and shame, and the disaster impending, i.e. sin and 
(judicial) suffering. There is no occasion for any further 
changes. TN, rendered fj by the LXX., and so read ix by them, 
may be completely vindicated : then, i.e. if this were the case, 
if thou couldst avert calamity by sacrifice, then mightest thou 
exult. Thus we obtain the following as the sense of the whole 
verse : What mean my people in my temple with their hypo- 
critical sacrifices ? Can vows and offerings, presented by you 
there, avert calamity from you? If it could be so, well might 
you shout for joy. 

This idea is carried on in vers. 16, 17. Judah (Israel) was 
truly a noble planting of God's, but by defection from the Lord, 
its God and Creator, it has drawn down on itself this ruin. 
Jahveh called Judah a green olive with splendid fruit. For a 
comparison of Israel to an olive, cf. Hos. xiv. 7, Ps. lii. 10, 
cxxviii. 3. The fruit of the tree is the nation in its individual 
members. The naming of the name is the representation of 
the state of the case, and so here : the growth and prosperity of 
the people. The contrasted state is introduced by '■"> Tip? with- 
out adversative particle, and is thus made to seem the more 
abrupt and violent (Hitz.). Noise of tumult (n?on, occurring 
besides here only in Ezek. i. 24 as equivalent to i^n), i.e. of 
the tumult of war, cf. Isa. xiii. 4 ; not : roar of the thunder- 
storm or crash of thunder (Nag., Graf), nty for ^, cf. xvii. 
27, xxi. 14, etc. The suffix is regulated by the thing repre- 
sented by the olive, i.e. Judah as a kingdom. Its branches 
brake ; MH, elsewhere only transitive, here intransitive, analo- 
gously to YTl in Isa. xlii. 4. Hitz. renders less suitably : its 
branches look bad, as being charred, robbed of their gay adorn- 
ment. On this head cf. Ezek. xxxi. 12. The setting of fire 
to the olive tree Israel came about through its enemies, who 

CHAP. XI. 18-23. 217 

broke up one part of the kingdom after the other, who had 
already destroyed the kingdom of the ten tribes, and were now 
about to destroy Judah next. That the words apply not to 
Judah only, but to Israel as well, appears from ver. 17, where 
the Lord, who has planted Israel, is said to have spoken, i.e. 
decreed evil for the sin of the two houses, Israel and Judah. 
13' ! ] is not directly = decree, but intimates also the utterance of 
the decree by the prophet. br6 after HW is dat. incomm. : the 
evil which they have done to their hurt; cf. xliv. 3, where the 
dative is wanting. Hitz. finds in On 1 } an intimation of voluntarv 
action, as throwing back the deed upon the subject as an act of 
free choice; cf. E\v. § 315, a. 

Chap. xi. 18-xii. 17. Evidence that Judah is unre- 


cannot be averted. — As a practical proof of the people's 
determination not to reform, we have in 

Vers. 18-23 an account of the designs of the inhabitants of 
Anathoth against the lorophct's life, inasmuch as it was their ill- 
will towards his prophecies that led them to this crime. They 
are determined not to hear the word of God, chiding and 
punishing them for their sins, and so to put the preacher of 
this word out of the way. — Ver. 18. " And Jahveh gave me 
knowledge of it, and I knew it ; then showedst Thou me their 
doings. Ver. 19. And I was as a tame lamb that is led to the 
slaughter, and knew not that they plotted designs against me : 
Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and cut him off 
out of the land of the living, that his name may be no more 
remembered. Ver. 20. But Jahveh of hosts, that judgeth 
•justlv, trieth reins and heart — I shall see Thv vengeance on 
them, for to Thee have I confided my cause. Ver. 21. There- 
fore thus hath Jahveh spoken against the men of Anathoth, 
that seek after thy life, saying, Thou shalt not prophesy in the 
name of Jahveh, that thou die not by our hand. Ver. 22. 
Therefore thus hath Jahveh of hosts spoken : Behold, I will 
punish them ; the young men shall die by the sword, their sons 
and daughters shall die by famine. Ver. 23. And a remnant 
shall not remain to them ; for I bring evil upon the men of 
Anathoth, the year of their visitation." 


Jeremiah had not himself observed the designs of the people 
of Anathoth against his life, because the thing was carried on 
in secret ; but the Lord made it known to him. IX, then, sc. 
when I knew nought of their murderous intent ; cf. ver. 19. 
" Their doings," i.e. those done in secret. Ver. 19. *)W &33, 
agnus mansuetus, a tame pet-lamb, such as the Arabs used to 
keep, such as the Hebrews too, 2 Sam. xii. 3, kept ; familiar 
with the household, reared by them in the house, that does not 
suspect when it is being taken to be killed. In like manner 
Jeremiah had no suspicion that his countrymen were har- 
bouring evil designs against him. These designs are quoted 
directly without "fox?. The saying is a figurative or proverbial 
one : we will destroy the tree ion?3. This word is variously 
taken. The ordinary meaning, food for men and beasts, 
usually bread, seems not to be suitable. And so Hitz. wishes 
to read to?3, in its sap (cf. Deut. xxxiv. 7, Ezek. xxi. 3), because 
an? may mean grain, but it does not mean fruit. Nag. justly 
remarks against this view : What is here essential is simply 
the produce of the tree, furnished for the use of man. The 
word of the prophet was a food which they abhorred (cf. ver. 
215). As Qn? originally meant food, we here understand by 
it the edible product of the tree, that is, its fruit, in opposi- 
tion to sap, wood, leaves. This interpretation is confirmed by 

the Arabic ; the Arabs use both *y&\ and J£l of the fruit of a 

tree, see ill. in Rosenm. Sohol. ad h. I. The proverbial saying- 
is given in plain words in the next clause. We will cut him 
(i.e. the prophet) off, etc. — Ver. 20. Therefore Jeremiah calls 
upon the Lord, as the righteous judge and omniscient searcher 
of hearts, to punish his enemies. This verse is repeated almost 
verbally in xx. 12, and in substance in xvii. 10. Who trieth 
reins and heart, and therefore knows that Jeremiah has done 
no evil. '"IN"}^ is future as expressing certainty that God will 
interfere to punish ; for to Him he has wholly committed his 
cause. ^7?, Pi. of n?^ is taken by Hitz., Ew., etc. in the sense 
of ??3 : on Thee have I rolled over my cause ; in support of 
this they adduce Ps. xxii. 9, xxxvii. 5, Prov. xvi. 3, as parallel 
passages. It is true that this interpretation can be vindicated 
grammatically, for 9?i might have assumed the form of nb 


CHAP. XII. 1-G. 219 

(E\v. § 121, a). But the passages quoted are not at all decisive, 
since Jeremiah very frequently gives a new sense to quotations 
by making slight alterations on them ; and in the passage cited 
we read T") DX ?pa. We therefore adhere, with Grot, and Ros., 
to the usual meaning of n?a ; understanding that in making 
known there is included the idea of entrusting, a force sug- 
gested by the construction with ?N instead of ?. ^"i, controversy, 
cause. — The prophet declares God's vengeance to the insti- 
gators of the plots against his life, vers. 21-23. The intro- 
ductory formula in ver. 21 is repeated in ver. 22, on account of 
the long intervening parenthesis. " That thou diest not " is 
introduced by the ) of consecution. The punishment is to fall 
upon the entire population of Anathoth ; on the young men 
of military age (D^nif^ a violent death in war ; on the chil- 
dren, death by famine consequent on the siege. Even though 
all had not had a share in the complot, yet were they at heart 
just as much alienated from God and ill-disposed towards His 
word. " Year of their visitation " is still dependent on " bring." 
This construction is simpler than taking n3B> for accus. adverb., 
both here and in xxiii. 12. 

Chap. xii. 1-6. The prophet 's displeasure at the prosperity of 
the wicked. — The enmity experienced by Jeremiah at the hands 
of his countrymen at Anathoth excites his displeasure at the 
prosperity of the wicked, who thrive and live with immunity. 
He therefore begins to expostulate with God, and demands 
from God's righteousness that they be cut off out of the land 
(vers. 1-4) ; whereupon the Lord reproves him for this outburst 
of ill-nature and impatience by telling him that he must patiently 
endure still worse. — This section, the connection of which with 
the preceding is unmistakeable, shows by a concrete instance 
the utter corruptness of the people; and it has been included 
in the prophecies because it sets before us the greatness of 
God's long-suffering towards a people ripe for destruction. 

Ver. 1. " Righteous art Thou, Jahveh, if I contend with 
Thee ; yet will I plead with Thee in words. Wherefore doth the 
way of the wicked prosper, are all secure that deal faithlessly ? 
Ver. 2. Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root ; 
grow, yea, bring forth fruit. Near art Thou in their mouth, 
yet far from their reins. Ver. 3. But Thou, Jahveh, knowest 


me, seest me, and triest mine heart toward Thee. Tear them 
away like sheep to the slaughter, and devote them for a day of 
slaughter. Ver. 4. How Ions; is the earth to mourn and the 
herb of the field to wither? For the wickedness of them that 
dwell therein, gone are cattle and fowl ; for they say : He sees 
not our end. — Ver. 5. If with the footmen thou didst run and 
they wearied thee, how couldst thou contend with the horses ? 
and if thou trustest in the land of peace, how wilt thou do in 
the glory of Jordan ? Ver. 6. For even thy brethren and thy 
father's house, even they are faithless towards thee, yea, they 
call after thee with full voice. Believe them not, though they 
speak friendly to thee." 

The prophet's complaint begins by acknowledging : Thou art 
righteous, Lord, if I would dispute with Thee, i.e. would accuse 
Thee of injustice. I could convict Thee of no wrong ; Thou 
wouldst appear righteous and prove Thyself in the right. Ps. 
li. 6 ; Job ix. 2 ff. With ^X comes in a limitation : only he 
will speak pleas of right, maintain a suit with Jahveh, will set 
before Him something that seems incompatible with God's 
justice, namely the question : Why the way of the wicked 
prospers, why they that act faithlessly are in ease and comfort? 
On this cf. Job xxi. 7 ff., where Job sets forth at length the 
contradiction between the prosperity of the wicked and the 
justice of God's providence. The way of the wicked is the 
course of their life, their conduct. God has planted them, 
i.e. has placed them in their circumstances of life ; like a tree 
they have struck root into the ground ; they go on, i.e. grow, 
and bear fruit, i.e. their undertakings succeed, although they 
have God in their mouth only, not in their heart. — Ver. 3. To 
show that he has cause for his question, Jeremiah appeals to 
the omniscience of the Searcher of hearts. God knows him, 
tries his heart, and therefore knows how it is disposed towards 
Himself C?|fiX belongs to "'Sp, the HX indicating the relation — 
here, viz., fidelity — in which the heart stands to God ; cf. 2 Sam. 
xvi. 17). Thus God knows that in his heart there is no un- 
faithfulness, and that he maintains to God an attitude alto- 
gether other than that of those hypocrites who have God on 
their lips only ; and knows too the enmity which, without hav- 
ing provoked it, he experiences. How then comes it about 

CHAP. XII. 1-C. 221 

that with the prophet it goes ill, while with those faithless ones 
it goes well? God, as the righteous God, must remove this 
contradiction. And so his request concludes : Tear them out 
(pTQ of the tearing out of roots, Ezek. xvii. 9) ; here Hiph. with 
the same force (pointing back to the metaphor of their being 
rooted, ver. 2), implying total destruction. Hence also the 
illustration : as sheep, that are dragged away out of the flock to 
be slaughtered. Devote them for the dav of slaughter, like 
animals devoted to sacrifice. — Ver. 4 gives the motive of his 
prayer : How long shall the earth suffer from the wickedness 
of these hypocrites ? be visited with drought and dearth for 
their sins 1 This question is not be taken as a complaint that 
God is punishing without end ; Hitz. so takes it, and then pro- 
poses to delete it as being out of all connection in sense with 
ver. 3 or ver. 5. It is a complaint because of the continuance 
of God's chastisements, drawn down by the wickedness of the 
apostates, which are bringing the land to utter ruin. The 
mourning of the land and the withering of the herb is a conse- 
quence of great drought ; and the drought is a divine chastise- 
ment : cf. iii. 3, v. 24 ff., xiv. 2 ff., etc. But this falls not only 
on the unfaithful, but upon the godly too, and even the beasts, 
cattle, and birds suffer from it ; and so the innocent along with 
the guilty. There seems to be injustice in this. To put an 
end to this injustice, to rescue the innocent from the curse 
brought by the wickedness of the ungodly, the prophet seeks 
the destruction of the wicked, nso, to be swept away. The 
3d pers. fem. sing, with the plural ni— , as in Joel i. 20 and 
often; cf. Ew. § 317, a, Gesen. § 146, 3. " They that dwell 
therein " are inhabitants of the land at large, the ungodly 
multitude of the people, of whom it is said in the last clause : 
they say, He will not see our end. The sense of these words 
is determined by the subject. Many follow the LXX. (ovk 
oyfrercu 6 @eo? oSou? rj/xcov) and refer the seeing to God. God 
will not see their end, i.e. will not trouble Himself about it 
(Schnur., Ros., and others), or will not pay any heed to their 
future fate, so that they may do all they choose unpunished 
(Ew.). But to this Graf has justly objected, that HJOj in all 
the passages that can be cited for this sense of the word, is used 
only of that which God sees, regards as already present, never 


of that which is future. "He sees" is to be referred to the 
prophet. Of him the ungodly say, he shall not see their end, 
because they intend to put him out of the way (Hitz.) ; or 
better, in a less special sense, they ridicule the idea that his 
prophecies will be fulfilled, and say : He shall not see our end, 
because his threatenings will not come to pass. 

In vers. 5 and 6 the Lord so answers the prophet's complaint 
as to reprove his impatience, by intimating that he will have- 
to endure still worse. Both parts of ver. 5 are of the nature . 
of proverbs. If even the race with footmen made him weary, 
how will he be able to compete with horses? rnnn here and xxii. 
15, a Tiph., Aramaic form for Hiph., arising by the hardening 
of the n into n— cf. Hos. xi. 3, and Ew. § 122, a— rival, vie with. 
The proverb exhibits the contrast between tasks of smaller and 
greater difficulty, applied to the prophet's relation to his enemies. 
What Jeremiah had to suffer from his countrymen at Ana- 
thoth was but a trifle compared with the malign assaults that 
yet awaited him in the discharge of his office. The second 
comparison conveys the same thought, but with a clearer inti- 
mation of the dangers the prophet will undergo. If thou 
puttest thy trust in a peaceful land, there alone countest on 
living in peace and safety, how wilt thou bear thyself in the 
glory of Jordan ? The latter phrase does not mean the swelling 
of Jordan, its high flood, so as that we should, with Umbr. and 
Ew., have here to think of the danger arising from a great and 
sudden inundation. Jt is the strip of land along the bank of 
the Jordan, thickly overgrown with shrubs, trees, and tall reeds, 
the lower valley, flooded when the river was swollen, where 
lions had their haunt, as in the reedy thickets of the Euphrates. 
Cf. v. Schubert, Beise, iii. S. 82 ; Eobin?. Bill. Researches hi 
Palestine, i. 535, and Phys. Geogr. of the Holy Land, p. 147. 
The " pride of the Jordan " is therefore mentioned in xlix. 
19, 1. 44, Zech. xi. 3, as the haunt of lions, and comes before 
us here as a region where men's lives were in danger. The 
point of the comparison is accordingly this : Thy case up till 
• this time is, in spite of the onsets thou hast borne, to be com- 
pared to a sojourn in a peaceful land ; but thou shalt come into 
much sorer case, where thou shalt never for a moment be sure 
of thy life. To illustrate this, he is told in ver. 6 that his 

CHAP. XII. 7-17. 22 o 

nearest of kin, and those dwelling under the same roof, will 
behave unfaithfully towards him. They will cry behind him 
K?0, plena voce (Jerome ; cf. WpE *&np, iv. 5). They will cry 
after him, " as one cries when pursuing a thief or murderer " 
(Gr.). Perfectly apposite is therefore Luther's translation : 
They set up a hue and cry after thee. These words are not 
meant to be literally taken, but convey the thought, that even 
his nearest friends will persecute him as a malefactor. It is 
therefore a perverse design that seeks to find the distinction 
between the inhabitants of Anathoth and the brethren and 
housemates, in a contrast between the priests and the blood- 
relations. Although Anathoth was a city of the priests, the 
men of Anathoth need not have been all priests, since these 
cities were not exclusively occupied by priests. — In this reproof 
of the prophet there lies not merely the truth that much sorer 
suffering yet awaits him, but the truth besides, that the people's 
faithlessness and wickedness towards God and men will yet 
grow greater, ere the judgment of destruction fall upon Judah ; 
for the divine long-suffering is not yet exhausted, nor has un- 
godliness yet fairly reached its highest point, so that the final 
destruction must straightway be carried out. But judgment 
will not tarry long. This thought is carried on in what 

Vers. 7-17. The execution of the judgment on Judah and its 
enemies. — As to this passage, which falls into two strophes, vers. 
7-13 and vers. 14-17, Hitz., Graf, and others pronounce that 
it stands in no kind of connection with what immediately pre- 
cedes. The connection of the two strophes with one another 
is, however, allowed by these commentators ; while Eichh. and 
Dahler hold vers. 14-17 to be a distinct oracle, belonging to the 
time of Zedekiah, or to the seventh or eighth year of Jehoiakim. 
These views are bound up with an incorrect conception of the 
contents of the passage, — to which in the first place we must 
accordingly direct our attention. 

Ver. 7. " I have forsaken mine house, cast out mine heritage, 
given the beloved of my soul into the hand of its enemies. 
Ver. 8. Mine heritage is become unto me as a lion in the forest, 
it hath lifted up its voice against me ; therefore have I hated 
it. Ver. 9. Is mine heritage to me a speckled vulture, that 


vultures are round about it ? Come, gather all the beasts of 
the field, bring them to devour ! Ver. 10. Many shepherds 
have destroyed my vineyard, have trodden down my ground, 
have made the plot of my pleasure a desolate wilderness. 
Ver. 11. They have made it a desolation ; it mourneth around 
me desolate ; desolated is the whole land, because none laid it to 
heart. Ver. 12. On all the bare-peaked heights in the wilder- 
ness are spoilers come ; for a sword of Jahveh's devours from 
one end of the land unto the other : no peace to all flesh. 
Ver. 13. They have sown wheat and reaped thorns ; they have 
worn themselves weary and accomplished nothing. So then 
ye shall be put to shame for your produce, because of the hot 
ancrer of Jahveh." 

Ver. 14. " Thus saith Jahveh against all mine evil neigh- 
bours, that touch the heritage which I have given unto my 
people Israel : Behold, I pluck them out of their land, and the 
house of Judah will I pluck out of their midst. Ver. 15. But 
after I have plucked them out, I will pity them again, and 
bring them back, each to his heritage, and each into his 
land. Ver. 1G. And it shall be, if they will learn the ways of 
my people, to swear by my name : As Jahveh liveth, as they 
have taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be 
built in the midst of my people. Ver. 17. But if they hearken 
not, I will pluck up such a nation, utterly destroying it, saith 

Hitz. and Graf, in opposition to other commentators, will 
have the strophe, vers. 7-13, to be taken not as prophecy, but 
as a lament on the devastation which Judah, after Jehoiakim's 
defection from Nebuchadnezzar in the eighth year of his reign, 
had suffered through the war of spoliation undertaken against 
insurgent Judah by those neighbouring nations that had main- 
tained their allegiance to Chaldean supremacy, 2 Kings xxiv. 
2 f . In support of this, Gr. appeals to the use throughout of 
unconnected perfects, and to the prophecy, ver. 14 ff., joined 
with this description ; which, he says, shows that it is something 
complete, existing, which is described, a state of affairs on which 
the prophecy is based. For although the prophet, viewing the 
future with the eyes of a seer as a thing present, often describes 
it as if it had already taken place, yet, he says, the context easily 

chap. xir. 7-17. 225 

enables us in such a case to recognise the description as pro- 
phetic, which, ace. to Graf, is not the case here. This argument 
is void of all force. To show that the use of unconnected 
perfects proves nothing, it is sufficient to note that such 
perfects are used in ver. b\ where Hitz. and Gr. take VUa and 
W)F> as prophetic. So with the perfects in ver. 7. The context 
demands this. For though no particle attaches ver. 7 to what 
precedes, yet, as Graf himself alleges against Hitz., it is shown 
by the lack of any heading that the fragment (vers. 7-13) is 
" not a special, originally independent oracle ;" and just as 
clearly, that it can by no means be (as Gr. supposes) an 
appendix, stuck on to the preceding in a purely external and 
accidental fashion. These assumptions are disproved by the 
contents of the fragment, which are simply an expansion of the 
threat of expulsion from their inheritance conveyed to the 
people already in xi. 14-17 ; an expansion which not merely 
points back to xi. 14-17, but which most aptly attaches itself 
to the reproof given to the prophet for his complaint that 
judgment on the ungodly was delayed (xii. 1-6) ; since it dis- 
closes to the prophet God's designs in regard to His people, and 
teaches that the judgment, though it may be delayed, will not 
be withheld. — Vers. 7 ff. contain sayings of God, not of the 
prophet, who had left his house in Anathoth, as Zwingli and 
Bugenhagen thought. The perfects are prophetic, i.e. intimate 
the divine decree already determined on, whose accomplishment 
is irrevocably fixed, and will certainly by and by take place. 
" My house " is neither the temple nor the land inhabited by 
Israel, in support whereof appeal is unjustly made to passages 
like Hos. viii. 1, ix. 15, Ezek. viii. 12, ix. 9 ; but, as is clearly 
shown by the parallel " mine heritage," taken in connection 
with what is said of the heritage in ver. 8, and by " the beloved 
of my soul," ver. 7, means the people of Israel, or Judah as the 
existing representative of the people of God (house = family) ; 
see on Hos. viii. 1. *TOTH = r6ru Dy, Deut. iv. 20, cf. Isa. xlvii. 
6, xix. 25. n^T.* object of my soul's love, cf. xi. 15. This 
appellation, too, cannot apply to the land, but to the people of 
Israel. — Ver. 8 contains the reason why Jahveh gives up His 
people for a prey. It has behaved to God like a lion, i.e. has 
opposed Him fiercely like a furious beast. Therefore He must 
vol. r. p 


withdraw His love. To give with the voice = to lift up the 
voice, as in Ps. xlvi. 7, lxviii. 34. " Hate" is a stronger ex- 
pression for the withdrawal of love, shown by delivering Israel 
into the hand of its enemies, as in Mai. i. 3. There is no 
reason for taking ^^ as inchoative (Hitz., I learned to hate 
it). The "hating" is explained fully in the following verses. 
In ver. 9 the meaning of J&ES WW is disputed. In all other 
places where it occurs ®\V means a bird of prey, cf. Isa. xlvi. 
11, or collective, birds of prey, Gen. xv. 11, Isa. xviii, 6. V^, 

in the Rabbinical Heb. the hysena, like the Arabic «_jus or 

%-xa. So the LXX. have rendered it ; and so, too, many recent 

comm., e.g. Gesen. in thes. But with this the asyndeton by 
way of connection with WV does not well consist : is a bird of 
prey, a hyaena, mine heritage % On this ground Boch. (Hieroz. 
ii. p. 176, ed. Ros.) sought to make good the claim of B$ to 
mean " beast of prey," but without proving his case. Nor is 
there in biblical Heb. any sure case for jnnv in the meaning of 
hysena ; and the Rabbinical usage would appear to be founded 
on this interpretation of the word in the passage before us. $Q¥; 


.j^, means dip, hence dye ; and so SDV, Judg. v. 30, is dyed 

materials, in plur. parti-coloured clothes. To this meaning 
Jerome, Syr., and Targ. have adhered in the present case ; 
Jerome gives avis discolor, whence Luther's der sprincldigt 
Vogel; Chr. B. Mich., avis colorata. So, and rightly, Hitz., 
Ew., Graf, Nag. The prophet alludes to the well-known fact 
of natural history, that " whenever a strange-looking bird is 
seen amongst the others, whether it be an owl of the night 
amidst the birds of day, or a bird of gay, variegated plumage 
amidst those of duskier hue, the others pursue the unfamiliar 
intruder with loud cries and unite in attacking it." Hitz., 
with reference to Tacit. Ann. vi. 28, Sueton. Cas. 81, and 
Plin. Hist. N. x. 19. The question is the expression of amaze- 
ment, and is assertory. ^ is dat. ethic, intimating sympathetic 
participation (Nag.), and not to be changed, with Gr., into ^. 
The next clause is also a question: are birds of prey round 
about it (mine heritage), sc. to plunder it ? This, too, is meant 

CHAP. XII. 7-17. 227 

to convey affirmation. With it is connected the summons to 
the beasts of prey to gather round Judah to devour it. The 
words here come from Isa. lvi. 9. The beasts are emblem for 
enemies, vnri is not first mode or perfect (Hitz.), but imperat., 
contracted from vnsn as in Isa. xxi. 14. The same thought 

• T . . . / Q 

is, in ver. 10, carried on under a figure that is more directly 
expressive of the matter in hand. The perfects in vers. 10-12 
are once more prophetic. The shepherds who (along with 
their flocks, of course) destroy the vineyard of the Lord are 
the kings of the heathen, Nebuchadnezzar and the kings 
subject to him, with their warriors. The " destroying" is 
expanded in a manner consistent with the figure ; and here we 
must not fail to note the cumulation of the words and the 
climax thus produced. They tread down the plot of ground, 
turn the precious plot into a howling wilderness. With " plot 
of my pleasure" cf. 'Ul rnon pK, iii. 19. 

In ver. 11 the emblematical shepherds are brought forward 
in the more direct form of enemy. n)0K>, he (the enemy, 
" they" impersonal) has changed it (the plot of ground) into 
desolation. It mourneth vJ>, round about me, desolated. 
Spoilers are come on all the bare-topped hills of the desert. 
*i|"]D is the name for such parts of the country as were suited 
only for rearing and pasturing cattle, like the so-called wilder- 
ness of Judah to the "west of the Dead Sea. A sword of the 
Lord's (i.e. the war sent by Jahveh, cf. xxv. 29, vi. 25) devours 
the whole land from end to end ; cf . xxv. 33. " All flesh " is 
limited by the context to all flesh in the land of Judah. ">^3 
in the sense of Gen. vi. 12, sinful mankind; here: the whole 
sinful population of Judah. For them there is no Bw, welfare 
or peace. — Ver. 13. They reap the contrary of what they have 
sowed. The words : wheat they have sown, thorns they reap, 
are manifestly of the nature of a saw or proverb ; certainly not 
merely with the force of meliora exspectaverant et vcnerunt 
pessima (Jerome) ; for sowing corresponds not to hoping or 
expecting, but to doing and undertaking. Their labour brings 
them the reverse of what they aimed at or sought to attain. 
To understand the words directly of the failure of the crop, as 
Ven., Ros., Hitz., Graf, Nag. prefer to do, is fair neither to 
text nor context. To reap thorns is not = to have a bad har- 


vest by reason of drought, blight, or the ravaging of enemies. 
The seed : wheat, the noblest grain, produces thorns, the very 
opposite of available fruit. And the context, too, excludes the 
thought of agriculture and " literal harvesting." The thought 
that the crop turned out a failure would be a very lame ter- 
mination to a description of how the whole land was ravaged 
from end to end by the sword of the Lord. The verse forms a 
conclusion which sums up the threatening of vers. 7-12, to the 
effect that the people's sinful ongoings will bring them sore 
suffering, instead of the good fortune they hoped for. £nji, 
they have worn themselves out, exhausted their strength, and 
secured no profit. Thus shall ye be put to shame for your pro- 
duce, ignominously disappointed in your hopes for the issue of 
your labour. 

Vers. 14-17. The spoilers of the Lord's heritage are also to 
be carried off out of their land ; but after they, like Judah, 
have been punished, the Lord will have pity on them, and will 
bring them back one and all into their own land. And if the 
heathen, who now seduce the people of God to idolatry, learn 
the ways of God's people and be converted to the Lord, they 
shall receive citizenship amongst God's people and be built up 
amongst them ; but if they will not do so, they shall be extir- 
pated. Thus will the Lord manifest Himself before the whole 
earth as righteous judge, and through judgment secure the 
weal not only of Israel, but of the heathen peoples too. By 
this discovery of His world-plan the Lord makes so complete a 
reply to the prophet's murmuring concerning the prosperity of 
the ungodly (vers. 1-6), that from it may clearly be seen the 
justice of God's government on earth. Viewed thus, both 
strophes of the passage before us (vers. 7-17) connect them- 
selves singularly well with vers. 1-6. — Ver. 14. The evil neigh- 
bours that lay hands on Jahveh's heritage are the neighbour- 
ing heathen nations, the Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, 
Philistines, and Syrians. It does not, however, follow that 
this threatening has special reference to the event related in 
2 Kings xxiv. 2, and that it belongs to the time of Jehoiakim. 
These nations were always endeavouring to assault Israel, and 
made use of every opportunity that seemed favourable for 
waging war against them and subjugating them ; and not for 

chap. xiii. 229 

tho first time during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, at which 
time it was indeed that they suffered the punishment here pro- 
nounced, of being carried away into exile. The neighbours 
are brought up here simply as representatives of the heathen 
nations, and what is said of them is true for all the heathen. 
The transition to the first person in *I3B> is like that in xiv. 15. 
Jahveh is possessor of the land of Israel, and so the adjoining 
peoples are His neighbours. 3 JH3, to touch as an enemy, to 
attack, cf. Zech. ii. 12. I pluck the house of Judah out of 
their midst, i.e. the midst of the evil neighbours. This is 
understood by most commentators of the carrying of Judah 
into captivity, since WW cannot be taken in two different senses 
in the two corresponding clauses. For this word used of 
deportation, cf. 1 Kings xiv. 15. "Them," ver. 15, refers to 
the heathen peoples. After they have been carried forth of 
their land and have received their punishment, the Lord will 
again have compassion upon them, and will bring back each to 
its inheritance, its land. Here the restoration of Judah, the 
people of God, is assumed as a thing of course (cf. ver. 16 and 
xxxii. 37, 44, xxxiii. 26). — Ver. 16. If then the heathen learn 
the ways of the people of God. What we are to understand 
by this is clear from the following infinitive clause : to swear 
in the name of Jahveh, viz. if they adopt the worship of 
Jahveh (for swearing is mentioned as one of the principal 
utterances of a religious confession). If they do so, then shall 
they be built in the midst of God's people, i.e. incorporated 
with it, and along with it favoured and blessed. — Ver. 17. But 
they who hearken not, namely, to the invitation to take Jahveh 
as the true God, these shall be utterly destroyed. 13X1 B>inj, 
so to pluck them out that they may perish. The promise is 
Messianic, cf. xvi. 19, Isa. Ivi. 6 f., Mic. iv. 1-4, etc., inasmuch 
as it points to the end of God's way with all nations. 

Chap. xiii. The humiliation of Judah's pride. — The 
first section of this chapter contains a symbolical action which 
sets forth the corruptness of Judah (vers. 1-11), and shows in 
figurative language how the Lord will bring Judah's haughti- 
ness to nothing (vers. 12-14). Upon the back of this comes 
the warning to repent, and the threatening addressed to the 


king and queen, that the crown shall fall from their head, that 
Judah shall be carried captive, and Jerusalem dishonoured, be- 
cause of their disgraceful idolatry (vers. 15-27). 

Vers. 1-11. The spoilt girdle. — Ver. 1. " Thus spake Jahveh 
unto me : Go and buy thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy 
loins, but into the water thou shalt not bring it. Ver. 2. So I 
bought the girdle, according to the word of Jahveh, and put 
it upon my loins. Ver. 3. Then came the word of Jahveh to 
me the second time, saying : Ver. 4. Take the girdle which 
thou hast bought, which is upon thy loins, and arise, and go to 
the Euphrates, and hide it there in a cleft of the rock. Ver. 5. 
So I went and hid it, as Jahveh had commanded me. Ver. 6. 
And it came to pass after many days, that Jahveh said unto 
me : Arise, go to the Euphrates, and bring thence the girdle 
which I commanded thee to hide there. Ver. 7. And I went 
to the Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the 
place where I had bid it ; and, behold, the girdle was marred, 
was good for nothing. Ver. 8. And the word of Jahveh came 
to me, saying: Ver. 9. Thus hath Jahveh said, After this 
manner will I mar the pride of Judah, the great pride of Jeru- 
salem. Ver. 10. This evil people, which refuse to hear my 
words, which walk in the stubbornness of their heart, and walk 
after other gods, to serve them and to worship them, it shall be 
as this girdle which is good for nothing. Ver. 11. For as the 
girdle cleaves to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave 
unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of 
Judah, saith Jahveh ; that it might be to me for a people and 
for a name, for a praise and for an ornament ; but they 
hearkened not." 

With regard to the symbolical action imposed on the pro- 
phet and performed by him, the question arises, whether the 
thing took place in outward reality, or was only an occurrence 
in the spirit, in the inward vision. The first view seems to be 
supported by the wording of the passage, namely, the twice re- 
peated account of the prophet's journey to the Phrat on the 
strength of a twice repeated divine command. But on the 
other hand, it has been found very improbable that " Jeremiah 
should twice have made a journey to the Euphrates, merely to 
prove that a linen girdle, if it lie long in the clamp, becomes 

CHAP. XIII. 1-11. 231 

spoilt, a thing he could have done much nearer home, and which 
besides everybody knew without experiment" (Graf). On this 
ground Ros., Graf, etc., hold the matter for a parable or an 
allegorical tale. But this view depends for support on the 
erroneous assumption that the specification of the Euphrates is 
of no kind of importance for the matter in hand ; whereas the 
contrary may be gathered from the four times repeated men- 
tion of the place. Nor is anything proved against the real 
performance of God's command by the remark, that the journey 
thither and back on both occasions is spoken of as if it were a 
mere matter of crossing a field. The Bible writers are wont to 
set forth such external matters in no very circumstantial way. 
And the great distance of the Euphrates — about 250 miles — 
gives us no sufficient reason for departing from the narrative as 
we have it before us, pointing as it does to a literal and real 
carrying out of God's command, and to relegate the matter to 
the inward region of spiritual vision, or to take the narrative 
for an allegorical tale. — Still less reason is to be found in 
arbitrary interpretations of the name, such as, after Bochart's 
example, have been attempted by Ven., Hitz., and Ew. The 
assertion that the Euphrates is called n~js> TTQ everywhere else, 
including Jer. xlvi. 2, 6, 10, loses its claim to conclusiveness 
from the fact that the prefaced "iiTJ is omitted in Gen. ii. 14, 
Jer. Ii. 63. And even Ew. observes, that "fifty years later a 
prophet understood the word of the Euphrates at li. 63." Now 
even if li. 63 had been written by another prophet, and fifty 
years later (which is not the case, see on chap. 1. ff.), the 
authority of this prophet would suffice to prove every other 
interpretation erroneous ; even although the other attempts at 
interpretation had been more than the merest fancies. Ew. 
remarks, u It is most amazing that recent scholars (Hitz. with 
Ven. and Dahl.) could seriously come to adopt the conceit that 
n*]2 is one and the same with 1"P3X (Gen. xlviii. 7), and so with 
Bethlehem ;" and what he says is doubly relevant to his own 

rendering. rnS), he says, is either to be be understood like <-^_ ; , 

of fresh water in general, or like <L? .':, a place near the water, 

a crevice opening from the water into the land, — interpreta- 
tions so far fetched as to require no serious refutation. 


More important than the question as to the formal nature 
of the emblematical action is that regarding its meaning ; on 
which the views of commentators are as much divided. From 
the interpretation in vers. 9-11 thus much is clear, that the 
girdle is the emblem of Israel, and that the prophet, in putting 
on and wearing this girdle, illustrates the relation of God to the 
folk of His covenant (Israel and Judah). The further signi- 
ficance of the emblem is suggested by the several moments of 
the action. The girdle does not merely belong to a man's 
adornment, but is that part of his clothing which he must put 
on when about to undertake any laborious piece of work. The 
prophet is to buy and put on a linen girdle. DM??®, linen, was 
the material of the priests' raiment, Ezek. xliv. 17 f., which in 
Ex. xxviii. 40, xxxix. 27 ff. is called W, white byssus, or "ra, 
linen. The priest's girdle was not, however, white, but woven 
parti-coloured, after the four colours of the curtains of the 
sanctuary, Ex. xxviii. 40, xxxix. 29. Wool (itW) is in Ezek. 
xliv. 18 expressly excluded, because it causes the body to sweat. 
The linen girdle points, therefore, to the priestly character of 
Israel, called to be a holy people, a kingdom of priests (Ex. 
xix. 6). " The purchased white girdle of linen, a man's pride 
and adornment, is the people bought out of Egypt, yet in its 
innocence as it was when the Lord bound it to Himself with 
the bands of love" (Umbr.). The prohibition that follows, 
" into water thou shalt not bring it," is variously interpreted. 
Chr. B. Mich, says : forte ne madefied et facilius clein com- 
putrescat; to the same effect Dahl., E\v., Umbr., Graf: to 
keep it safe from the hurtful effects of damp. A view which 
refutes itself ; since washing does no kind of harm to the linen 
girdle, but rather makes it again as good as new. Thus to the 
point writes Nag., remarking justly at the same time, that the 
command not to bring the girdle into the water plainly implies 
that the prophet would have washed it when it had become 
soiled. This was not to be. The girdle was to remain dirty, 
and as such to be carried to the Euphrates, in order that, as 
Hos. and Maur. observed, it might symbolize sordes qaas con- 
traxerit populus in dies majores, mores populi magis magisque 
lapsi, and that the carrying of the soiled girdle to the Euphrates 
might set forth before the eyes of the people what awaited it, 

chap. xiii. l-n. 233 

after it had long been borne by God covered with the filth of 
its sins. — The just appreciation of this prohibition leads us 
easily to the true meaning of the command in ver. 4, to bring 
the girdle that was on his loins to the Euphrates, and there to 
conceal it in a cleft in the rock, where it decays. By it is 
signified, as Chr. B. Mich., following Jerome, observes, popidi 
Judaici apud Chaldceos extra Euphratem captivitas et exilium. 
Graf has objected : " The corruptness of Israel was not a con- 
sequence of the Babylonish captivity ; the latter, indeed, came 
about in consequence of the existing corruptness." But this 
objection stands and falls with the amphibolia of the word 
corruptness, decay. Israel was, indeed, morally decayed before 
the exile ; but the mouldering of the girdle in the earth by the 
Euphrates signifies not the moral but the physical decay of the 
covenant people, which, again, was a result of the moral decay 
of the period during which God had, in His long-suffering, 
borne the people notwithstanding their sins. Wholly erroneous 
is the view adopted by Gr. from Umbr. : the girdle decayed by 
the water is the sin-stained people which, intriguing with the 
foreign gods, had in its pride cast itself loose from its God, and 
had for long imagined itself secure under the protection of the 
gods of Chaldea. The hiding of the girdle in the crevice of 
a rock by the banks of the Euphrates would have been the 
most unsuitable emblem conceivable for representing the moral 
corruption of the people. Had the girdle, which God makes to 
decay by the Euphrates, loosed itself from him and imagined it 
could conceal itself in a foreign land ? as Umbr. puts the case. 
According to the declaration, ver. 9, God will mar the great 
pride of Judah and Jerusalem, even as the girdle had been 
marred, which had at His command been carried to the 
Euphrates and hid there. The carrying of the girdle to the 
Euphrates is an act proceeding from God, by which Israel is 
marred; the intriguing of Israel with strange gods in the land of 
Canaan was an act of Israel's own, against the will of God. — 
Ver. 6. After the course of many days — these are the seventy 
years of the captivity — the prophet is to fetch the girdle again. 
Pie went, digged (" l ?n > whence we see that the hiding in the 
cleft of the rock was a burying in the rocky soil of the 
Euphrates bank), and found the girdle marred, fit for nothing. 


These words correspond to the effect which the exile was de- 
signed to have, which it has had, on the wicked, idolatrous race. 
The ungodly should, as Moses' law, Lev. xxvi. 36, 39, declared, 
perish in the land of their enemies ; the land of their enemies 
will devour them, and they that remain shall pine or moulder 
away in their iniquities and in the iniquities of their fathers. 
This mouldering (*j8B*>) is well reproduced in the marring 
(nn^'j) of the girdle. It is no contradiction to this, that a part 
of the people will be rescued from the captivity and brought 
back to the land of their fathers. For although the girdle 
which the prophet had put on his loins symbolized the people 
at large, yet the decay of the same at the Euphrates sets forth 
only the physical decay of the ungodly part of the people, as 
ver. 10 intimates in clear words : " This evil people that refuses 
to hear the word of the Lord, etc., shall be as this girdle." 
The Lord will mar the }iX| of Judah and Jerusalem. The 
word means highness in both a good and in an evil sense, glory 
and self-glory. Here it is used with the latter force. This is 
shown both by the context, and by a comparison of the passage 
Lev. xxvi. 19, that God will break the 1'V P&*3 of the people by 
sore judgments, which is the foundation of the present ver. 9. — 
In ver. 11 the meaning of the girdle is given, in order to explain 
the threatening in vers. 9 and 10. As the girdle lies on the 
loins of a man, so the Lord hath laid Israel on Himself, that it 
may be to Him for a people and for a praise, for a glory and 
an adornment, inasmuch as He designed to set it above all 
other nations and to make it very glorious ; cf. Deut. xxvi. 19, 
whither these words point back. 

Vers. 12-17. How the Lord will destroy Flis degenerate people, 
and hoiu they may yet escape the impending ruin. — Ver. 12. " And 
speak unto them this word : Thus hath Jahveh the God of 
Israel said, Every jar is filled with wine. And when they say to 
thee, Know we not that every jar is filled with wine? Ver. 13. 
Then say to them : Thus hath Jahveh said : Behold, I fill all 
inhabitants of this land — the kings that sit for David upon his 
throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all inhabitants of 
Jerusalem — with drunkenness, Ver. 14. And dash them one 
against another, the fathers and the sons together, saith Jahveh ; 
I will not spare, nor pity, nor have mercy, not to destroy them. 

CHAP. XIII. 12-17. 235 

— Ver. 15. Hear ye and give ear ! Be not proud, for Jahveh 
speaketh. Ver. 16. Give to Jahveh, your God, honour, ere He 
bring darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the mountains 
of dusk, and ye look for light, but He turn it into the shadow 
of death and make it darkness. Ver. 17. But if ye hear it not, 
then in concealment shall my soul weep for the pride, and weep 
and run down shall mine eye with tears, because the flock of 
Jahveh is carried away captive." 

To give emphasis to the threatening conveyed in the sym- 
bolical action, the kind and manner of the destruction awaiting 
them is forcibly set before the various ranks in Judah and 
Jerusalem by the interpretation, in vers. 12-14, of a proverbial 
saying and the application of it to them. The circumstantial 
way in which the figurative saying is brought in in ver. 12, is 
designed to call attention to its import. ?33, an earthenware 
vessel, especially the wine jar (cf. Isa. xxx. 24, Lam. iv. 2), is 
here the emblem of man; cf. xviii. 6, Isa. xxix. 16. We must 
not, as Nag. does, suppose the simile to be used because such 
jars are an excellent emblem of that carnal aristocratic pride 
which lacked all substantial merit, by reason of their being of 
bulging shape, hollow within and without solidity, and of fragile 
material besides. No stress is laid on the bulging form and 
hollowness of the jars, but only on their fulness with wine and 
their brittleness. Nor can aristocratic haughtiness be predi- 
cated of all the inhabitants of the land. The saying : Every 
jar is filled with wine, seemed so plain and natural, that those 
addressed answer : Of that we are well aware. " The answer is 
that of the psychical man, who dreams of no deeper sense" 
(Hitz.). Just this very answer gives the prophet occasion to 
expound the deeper meaning of this word of God's. As one 
fills all wine jars, so must all inhabitants of the land be filled 
by God with wine of intoxication. Drunkenness is the effect 
of the intoxicating wine of God's wrath, Ps. lx. 5. This wine 
Jahveh will give them (cf. xxv. 15, Isa. li. 17, etc.), so that, 
filled with drunken frenzy, they shall helplessly destroy one 
another. This spirit will seize upon all ranks : upon the kings 
who sit upon the throne of David, not merely him who was 
reigning at the time ; upon the priests and prophets as leaders of 
the people; and upon all inhabitants of Jerusalem, the metropolis, 


the spirit and temper of which exercises an unlimited influence 
upon the temper and destiny of the kingdom at large. I dash 
them one against the other, as jars are shivered when knocked 
together. Here Hitz. finds a foreshadowing of civil war, by 
which they should exterminate one another. Jeremiah was 
indeed thinking of the staggering against one another of 
drunken men, but in " dash them," etc., adhered simply to the 
figure of jars or pots. But what can be meant by the shivering 
of pots knocked together, other than mutual destruction ? The 
kingdom of Judah did not indeed fall by civil war ; but who 
can deny that the fury of the various factions in Judah and 
Jerusalem did really contribute to the fall of the realm ? The 
shattering of the pots does not mean directly civil war; it is 
given as the result of the drunkenness of the inhabitants, under 
which they, no longer capable of self-control, dash against and 
so destroy one another. But besides, the breaking of jars 
reminds us of the stratagem of Gideon and his 300 warriors, 
who, by the sound of trumpets and the smashing of jars, threw 
the whole Midianite camp into such panic, that these foes 
turned their swords against one another and fled in wild con- 
fusion : Judg. vii. 19 ff., cf. too 1 Sam. xiv. 20. Thus shall 
Judah be broken without mercy or pity. To increase the 
emphasis, there is a cumulation of expressions, as in xxi. 7, 
xv. 5, cf. Ezek. v. 11, vii. 4, 9, etc.— Ver. 15 ff. With this 
threatening the prophet couples a solemn exhortation not to 
leave the word of the Lord unheeded in their pride, but to give 
God the glory, ere judgment fall on them. To give God the 
glory is, in this connection, to acknowledge His glory by con- 
fession of apostasy from Him and by returning to Him in 
sincere repentance; cf. Josh. vii. 19, Mai. ii. 2. "Your God," 
who has attested Himself to you as God. The Hiph. qefrp is 
not used intransitively, either here or in Ps. cxxxix. 12, but 
transitively : before He brings or makes darkness ; cf. Amos 
viii. 9. Mountains of dusk, i.e. mountains shrouded in dusk, 
are the emblem of unseen stumbling-blocks, on which one 
stumbles and falls. Light and darkness are well-known 
emblems of prosperity and adversity, welfare and misery. The 
suffix in HOB' goes with "nK, which is construed feminine here 

T T O ' f 

as in Job xxxvi. 32. Shadow of death — deep darkness; »"iJ^ 

chap. xiii. 18-27. 237 

cloudy night, i.e. dark night. The diet. TP& is imperf., and to 
be read fVtPJ ; the Keri n*Bh is uncalled for and incorrect. — Ver. 
17. Knowing their obstinacy, the prophet adds: if ye hear it 
(what I have declared to you) not, my soul shall weep. In 
the concealment, quo secedere lugentes amant, ut impensius flere 
possint (Chr. B. Mich.). For the pride, sc. in which ye persist. 
With tears mine eye shall run down because the flock of Jahveh, 
i.e. the people of God (cf. Zech. x. 3), is carried away into 
captivity (perfect, proph.). 

Vers. 18-27. The fall of the kingdom, the captivity of Judah, 
with vpbraidings against Jerusalem for her grievous guilt in the 
matter of idolatry. — Ver. 18. " Say unto the king and to the 
sovereign lady : Sit you low down, for from your heads falls 
the crown of your glory. Ver. 19. The cities of the south are 
shut and no man openeth ; Judah is carried away captive all of 
it, wholly carried away captive. Ver. 20. Lift up your eyes 
and behold them that come from midnight ! Where is the 
flock that was given thee, thy glorious flock? Ver. 21. What 
wilt thou say, if He set over thee those whom thou hast ac- 
customed to thee as familiar friends, for a head? Shall not 
sorrows take thee, as a woman in travail ? 22. And if thou say 
in thine heart, Wherefore cometh this upon me? for the plenty 
of thine iniquity are thy skirts uncovered, thy heels abused. 
Ver. 23. Can an Ethiopian change his skin, and a leopard his 
spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to 
doing evil. Ver. 24. Therefore will I scatter them like chaff 
that flies before the wind of the wilderness. Ver. 25. This is 
thy lot, thine apportioned inheritance from me, because thou 
hast forgotten me and trustedst in falsehood. Ver. 26. There- 
fore will I turn thy skirts over thy face, that thy shame be seen. 
Ver. 27. Thine adultery and thy neighing, the crime of thy 
whoredom upon the hills, in the fields, I have seen thine abomi- 
nations. Woe unto thee, Jerusalem ! thou shalt not be made 
clean after how long a time yet ! " 

From ver. 18 on the prophet's discourse is addressed to the 
king and the queen-mother. The latter as such exercised great 
influence on the government, and is in the Books of Kings men- 
tioned alongside of almost all the reigning kings (cf. 1 Kin as 
xv. 13, 2 Kings x. 13, etc.); so that we are not necessarily led 


to think of Jechoniah and his mother in especial. To them he 
proclaims the loss of the crown and the captivity of Judah. 
Set yourselves low down (cf. Gesen. § 142, 3, b), i.e. descend from 
the throne ; not in order to turn aside the threatening danger 
by humiliation, but, as the reason that follows shows, because 
the kingdom is passing from you. For fallen is D3VftS>SHP ? 
your head-gear, lit. what is about or on your head (elsewhere 
pointed rtitJ^tp, 1 Sam. xix. 13, xxvi. 7), namely, your splendid 
crown. The perf. here is prophetic. The crown falls when 
the king loses country and kingship. This is put expressly in 
ver. 19. The meaning of the first half of the verse, which is 
variously taken, may be gathered from the second. In the 
latter the complete deportation of Judah is spoken of as an 
accomplished fact, because it is as sure to happen as if it had 
taken place already. Accordingly the first clause cannot 
bespeak expectation merely, or be understood, as it is by Grotius, 
as meaning that Judah need hope for no help from Egypt. 
This interpretation is irreconcilable with "the cities of the 
south." "The south" is the south country of Judah, cf. Josh. 
x. 40, Gen. xiii. 1, etc., and is not to be taken according to the 
prophetic use of "king of the south," Dan. xi. 5, 9. The 
shutting of the cities is not to be taken, with Jerome, of siege 
by the enemy, as in Josh. vi. 1. There the closedness is other- 
wise illustrated : No man was going out or in ; here, on the 
other hand, it is : No man openeth. " Shut " is to be explained 
according to Isa. xxiv. 10 : the cities are shut up by reason of 
ruins which block up the entrances to them ; and in them is 
none that can open, because all Judah is utterly carried away. 
The cities of the south are mentioned, not because the enemy, 
avoiding the capital, had first brought the southern part of the 
land under his power, as Sennacherib had once advanced 
against Jerusalem from the south, 2 Kings xviii. 13 f., xix. 8 
(Graf, Nag., etc.), but because they were the part of the 
kingdom most remote for an enemy approaching from the 
north ; so that when they were taken, the land was reduced and 
the captivity of all Judah accomplished. For the form iron see 
Ew. § 194, a, Ges. § 75, Rem. 1. D^DW is adverbial accusative : 
in entirety, like &}&!&, Ps. lviii. 2, ' etc. For this cf . T\6i 
HD$£ Amos i. 6, 9. 

CHAP. XIII. 18-27. 239 

The announcement of captivity is carried on in ver. 20, 
where we have first an account of the impression which the 
carrying away captive will produce upon Jerusalem (vers. 20 
and 21), and next a statement of the cause of that judgment 
(vers. 22-27). In W and Wl a feminine is addressed, and, 
as appears from the suffix in D9'jP#, one which is collective. 
The same holds good of the following verses on to ver. 27, 
where Jerusalem is named, doubtless the inhabitants of it, per- 
sonified as the daughter of Zion — a frequent case. Nag. is 
wrong in supposing that the feminines in ver. 20 are called for 
by the previously mentioned queen-mother, that vers. 20-22 
are still addressed to her, and that not till ver. 23 is there a 
transition from her in the address to the nation taken col- 
lectively and regarded as the mother of the country. The 
contents of ver. 20 do not tally with Nag.'s view ; for the 
queen-mother was not the reigning sovereign, so that the inha- 
bitants of the land could have been called her flock, however 
great was the influence she might exercise upon the king. The 
mention of foes coming from the north, and the question 
coupled therewith : Where is the flock % convey the thought 
that the flock is carried off by those enemies. The flock is the 
flock of Jahveh (ver. 17), and, in virtue of God's choice of it, 
a herd of gloriousness. The relative clause : u that was given 
thee," implies that the person addressed is to be regarded as 
the shepherd or owner of the flock. This will not apply to the 
capital and its citizens ; for the influence exerted by the capital 
in the country is not so great as to make it appear the shepherd 
or lord of the people. But the relative clause is in good 
keeping with the idea of the daughter of Zion, with which is 
readily associated that of ruler of land and people. It inti- 
mates the suffering that will be endured by the daughter of 
Zion when those who have been hitherto her paramours are 
set up as head over her. The verse is variously explained. 
The old transll. and comm. take ?V *l£3 in the sense of visit, 
chastise ; so too Chr. B. Mich, and Ros. ; and Ew. besides, 
who alters the text ace. to the LXX., changing *ipB* into the 
plural VtpD''. For this change there is no sufficient reason ; and 
without such change, the signif. visit, punish, gives us no 
suitable sense. The phrase means also : to appoint or set over 


anybody ; cf. e.g. xv. 3. The subject can only be Jahveh. The 
words from AM onwards form an adversative circumstantial 
clause : and yet thou hast accustomed them ^ vV, for IJvK, to 
thee (cf. for IE? c. ?K, x. 2). The connection of the words 
K>N"i? CB?*? depends upon the sig. assigned to E'wN. Gesen. 
(thes.) and Ros. still adhere to the meaning taken by Luther, 
Vat., and many others, viz. principes, princes, taking for the 
sense of the whole : whom thou hast accustomed (trained) to be 
princes over thee. This word is indeed the technical term for 
the old Edomitish chieftains of clans, Gen. xxxvi. 15 ff., and 
is applied as an archaic term by Zech. ix. 7 to the tribal princes 
of Judah. ; but it does not, as a general rule, mean prince, but 
familiar, friend, Ps. lv. 14, Prov. xvi. 28, Mic. vii. 5 ; cf. Jer. 
xi. 19. This being the well-attested signification, it is, in the 
first place, not competent to render ^vtf over or against thee 
(adversus te, Jerome) ; and Hitz.'s exposition : thou hast in- 
structed them to thy hurt, hast taught them a disposition 
hostile to thee, cannot be justified by usage. In the second 
place, tfzbis cannot be attached to the principal clause, " set 
over thee," and joined with " for a head :" if He set over thee — 
as princes for a head ; but it belongs to " hast accustomed," 
while only " for a head" goes with " if He set" (as de Wet., 
Umbr., Nag., etc., construe). The prophet means the heathen 
kings, for whose favour Judah had hitherto been intriguing, 
the Babylonians and Egyptians. There is no cogent reason 
for referring the words, as many comra. do, to the Babylonians 
alone. For the statement is quite general throughout ; and, on 
the one hand, Judah had, from the days of Ahaz on, courted 
the alliance not of the Babylonians alone, but of the Egyptians 
too (cf. ii. 18) ; and, on the other hand, after the death of Josiah, 
Judah had become subject to Egypt, and had had to endure the 
grievous domination of the Pharaohs, as Jeremiah had threat- 
ened, ii. 16. If God deliver the daughter of Zion into the 
power of these her paramours, i.e. if she be subjected to their 
rule, then will grief and pain seize on her as on a woman in 
childbirth ; cf. vi. 24, xxii. 23, etc. i"H? ri^'x, woman of bearing ; 
so here only, elsewhere H"W (cf. the passages cited) ; nn? is 
infin., as in Isa. xxxvii. 3, 2 Kings xix. 3, Hos. ix. 11. — Ver. 22. 
This will befall the daughter of Zion for her sore transgressions. 

CHAP. XIII. 18-27. 211 

Therefore will she be covered with scorn and shame. The 
manner of her dishonour, discovery of the skirts (here and 
esp. in ver. 2S), recalls Nah. iii. 5, cf. Isa. xlvii. 3, Hos. ii. 5. 
Chr. B. Mich, and others understand the violent treatment of 
the heels to be the loading of the feet with chains ; but the 
mention of heels is not in keeping with this. Still less can the 
exposure of the heels by the upturning of the skirts be called 
maltreatment of the heels ; nor can it be that, as Hitz. holds, 
the affront is simply specialized by the mention of the heels 
instead of the person. The thing can only mean, that the 
person will be driven forth into exile barefoot and with violence, 
perhaps under the rod ; cf. Ps. lxxxix. 52. — Ver. 23. Judah will 
not escape this ignominious lot, since wickedness has so grown 
to be its nature, that it can as little cease therefrom and do 
good, as an Ethiopian can wash out the blackness of his skin, 
or a panther change its spots. The consequential clause intro- 
duced by D^X D3 connects with the possibility suggested in, but 
denied by, the preceding question : if that could happen, then 
might even ye do good. The one thing is as impossible as the 
other. And so the Lord must scatter Judah anions the heathen, 
like stubble swept away by the desert wind, lit. passing by with 
the desert wind. The desert wind is the strono; east wind that 
blows from the Arabian Desert; see on iv. 11. 

In ver. 25 the discourse draws to a conclusion in such a way 
that, after a repetition of the manner in which Jerusalem pre- 
pares for herself the doom announced, we have again, in brief 
and condensed shape, the disgrace that is to befall her. This 
shall be thy lot. Hitz. renders ^J? ri3» : portion of thy gar- 
ment, that is allotted for the swelling folds of thy garment (cf. 
Euth iii. 15, 2 Kings iv. 39), on the ground that 1» never 
means mensura, but garment only. This is, however, no con- 
clusive argument ; since so many words admit of two plural 
forms, so that D'HB might be formed from fTW ; and since so 
many are found in the singular in the forms of both genders, 
so that, alongside of rrno, *l» might also be used in the sense of 
mensura ; especially as both the signiff. measure and garment 
are derived from the same root meaning of Ti». We therefore 
adhere to the usual rendering, portio mensura} tuce 7 the share 
portioned out to thee. "ljPN, causal, because. Trusted in false- 

VOL. I. Q 


hood, i.e. both in delusive promises (vii. 4, 8) and in the help 
of beingless gods (xvi. 19). — In the ^"DTi lies the force of 
reciprocation : because thou hast forgotten me, etc., I too 
have taken means to make retribution on your unthankfulness 
(Calv.). The threatening of this verse is word for word from 
Nah. iii. 5. — For her lewd idolatry Jerusalem shall be carried 
off like a harlot amid mockery and disgrace. In ver. 27 the 
language is cumulative, to lay as great stress as possible on 
Jerusalem's idolatrous ongoings. Thy lewd neighing, i.e. thy 
ardent longing for and running after strange gods ; cf. v. 8, 
ii. 24 f. nSTj as in Ezek. xvi. 27, xxii. 9, etc., of the crime 
of uncleanness, see on Lev. xviii. 17. The three words are 
accusatives dependent on W*l, though separated from it by 
the specification of place, and therefore summed up again 
in " thine abominations." The addition : in the field, after 
" upon the hills," is meant to make more prominent the pub- 
licity of the idolatrous work. The concluding sentence : thou 
shalt not become clean for how long a time yet, is not to be 
regarded as contradictory of ver. 23, which affirms that the 
people is beyond the reach of reformation ; ver. 23 is not a 
hyperbolical statement, reduced within its true limits here. 
What is said in ver. 23 is true of the present generation, which 
cleaves immoveably to wickedness. It does not exclude the 
possibility of a future reform on the part of the people, a puri- 
fication of it from idolatry. Only this cannot be attained for 
a long time, until after sore and long-lasting, purifying judg- 
ments. Cf. xii. 14 f., iii. 18 if. 


The distress arising from a lengthened drought (xiv. 2-6) 
gives the prophet occasion for urgent prayer on behalf of his 
people (xiv. 7-9 and 19-22) ; but the Lord rejects all inter- 
cession, and gives the people notice, for their apostasy from 
Him, of their coming destruction by sword, famine, and pesti- 
lence (xiv. 10-18 and xv. 1-9). Next, the prophet complains 
of the persecution he has to endure, and is corrected by the 
Lord and comforted (xv. 10-21). Then he has his course of 
conduct for the future prescribed to him, since Judah is, for its 

CHAP. XIV. ]-XV. 9. 243 

sin?, to be cast forth into banishment, but is again to be restored 
(xvi. 1-xvii. 4). And the discourse concludes with general 
considerations upon the roots of the mischief, together with 
prayers for the prophet's safety, and statements as to the way 
by which judgment may be turned aside. 

This prophetic word, though it had its origin in a special 
period of distress, does not contain any single discourse such as 
may have been delivered by Jeremiah before the people upon 
occasion of this calamity, but is, like the former sections, a sum- 
mary of addresses and utterances concerning the corruption of 
the people, and the bitter experiences to which his office exposes 
the prophet. For these matters the special event above men- 
tioned serves as a starting-point, inasmuch as the deep moral 
degradation of Judah, which must draw after it yet sorer judg- 
ments, is displayed in the relation assumed by the people to the 
judgment sent on them at that time. — The various attempts of 
recent commentators to dissect the passage into single portions, 
and to assign these to special points of time and to refer them to 
particular historical occurrences, have proved an entire failure, 
as Graf himself admits. The whole discourse moves in the 
same region of thought and adheres to the same aspect of 
affairs as the preceding ones, without suggesting special his- 
torical relations. And there is an advance made in the pro- 
phetic declaration, only in so far as here the whole substance 
of the discourse culminates in the thought that, because of 
Judah' s being hardened in sin, the judgment of rejection can 
now in no way be turned aside, not even by the intercession of 
those whose prayers would have the greatest weight. 

Chap. xiv. 1-xv. 9. The uselessness of prayer on be- 
half of THE people. — The title in ver. 1 specifies the occa- 
sion for the following discourse : What came as word of Jahveh 
to Jeremiah concerning the drought. — Besides here, n*n -ib»s i s 
made to precede the iWP 131 in xlvi. 1, xlvii. 1, xlix. 34 • and 
so, by a kind of attraction, the prophecy which follows receives 
an outward connection with that which precedes. Concerning 
the matters of the droughts, ririsa, plur. of rnsa, P s . ix. 10, 
x. 1, might mean harassments, troubles in general. But the 
description of a great drought, with which the prophecy begins, 


taken along with xvii. 8, where rnka occurs, meaning drought, 
lit. cutting off, restraint of rain, shows that the plural here is 
to be referred to the sing, mta (cf. niWJ? from rnftEty), and 
that it means the withholding of rain or drought (as freq. in 
Chald.). We must note the plur., which is not to be taken as 
intensive of a great drought, but points to repeated droughts. 
Withdrawal of rain was threatened as a judgment against the 
despisers of God's word (Lev. xxvi. 19 f. ; Deut. xi. 17, xxviii. 
23) ; and this chastisement has at various times been inflicted 
on the sinful people ; cf. iii. 3, xii. 4, xxiii. 10, Hag. i. 10 f. 
As the occasion of the present prophecy, we have therefore to 
regard not a single great drought, but a succession of droughts. 
Hence we cannot fix the time at which the discourse was com- 
posed, since we have no historical notices as to the particular 
times at which God was then punishing His people by with- 
drawing the rain. 

Vers. 2-6. Description of the distress arising from the drought. 
— Ver. 2. " Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish, lie 
mourning on the ground, and the cry of Jerusalem goeth up. 
Ver. 3. Their nobles send their mean ones for water : they 
come to the wells, find no water, return with empty pitchers, 
are ashamed and confounded and cover their head. Ver. 4. 
For the ground, which is confounded, because no rain is fallen 
upon the earth, the husbandmen are ashamed, cover their head. 
Ver. 5. Yea, the hind also in the field, she beareth and 
forsaketh it, because there is no grass. Ver. 6. And the wild 
asses stand on the bare-topped heights, gasp for air like the 
jackals ; their eyes fail because there is no herb." 

The country and the city, the distinguished and the mean, 
the field and the husbandmen, are thrown into deep mourning, 
and the beasts of the field pine away because neither grass nor 
herb grows. This description gives a touching picture of the 
distress into which the land and its inhabitants have fallen for 
lack of rain. Judah is the kingdom or the country with its 
inhabitants ; the gates as used poetically for the cities with the 
citizens. Not mankind only, but the land itself mourns and 
pines away, with all the creatures that live on it ; cf. ver. 4, 
where the ground is said to be dismayed along with the tillers 
of it. The gates of the cities are mentioned as being the places 

CHAP. XIV. 2-G. 245 

where the citizens congregate. ??DK, fade away, pine, is 
strengthened by : are black, i.e. mourn, down to the earth ; 
pregnant for: set themselves mourning on the ground. As 
frequently, Jerusalem is mentioned alongside of Judah as being 
its capital. Their cry of anguish rises up to heaven. This 
universal mourning is specialized from ver. 3 on. Their nobles, 
i.e. the distinguished men of Judah and Jerusalem, send their 
mean ones, i.e. their retainers or servants and maids, for 
water to the wells (Ml, pits, 2 Kings iii. 16, here cisterns). 
The diet. "tiJHf, here and in xlviii. 4, is an unusual form for 
"Wf, Keri. Finding no water, they return, their vessels empty, 
i.e. with empty pitchers, ashamed of their disappointed hope. 
VJ ; 3 is strengthened by the synonym *B?3n. Covering the head 
is a token of deep grief turned inwards upon itself; cf. 2 Sam. 
xv. 30, xix. 5. n ?^0 is the ground generally. Jinn is a 
relative clause: quce consternata est. "Because no rain," etc., 
literally as in 1 Kings xvii. 7. — Even the beasts droop and 
perish. *3 is intensive : yea, even. The hind brings forth 
and forsakes, sc. the new-born offspring, because for want of 
grass she cannot sustain herself and her young. 2iTy, infin. abs. 
set with emphasis for the temp, fin., as Gen. xli. 43, Ex. viii. 11, 
and often ; cf. Gesen. § 131, 4, a, Ew. § 351, c. The hind was 
regarded by the ancients as tenderly caring for her young, cf. 
Boch. Hieroz. i. lib. 3, c. 17 (ii. p. 254, ed. Kos.). The wild 
asses upon the bleak mountain-tops, where these animals choose 
to dwell, gasp for air, because, by reason of the dreadful 
drought, it is not possible to get a breath of air even on the 
hills. Like the MR, jackals, cf. ix. 10, x. 22, etc. Vulg. has 
dracones, with the Aram, versions ; and Hitz. and Graf are of 
opinion that the mention of jackals is not here in point, and 
that, since D*|fl does not mean dracones, the word stands here, 
as in Ex. xxix. 3, xxxii. 2, for part, the monster inhabiting the 
water, a crocodile or some kind of whale that stretches its 
head out of the water to draw breath with gaping jaws. On 
this Nag. has well remarked: he cannot see why the capino-. 
panting jaws of the jackal should not serve as a figure in such 
a case as the present. Their eyes fail away — from exhaustion 
due to want of water. 3b'y, bushes and under-shrubs, as dis- 
tinguished from KBH, green grass. 


Vers. 7-9. The prayer. — Ver. 7. " If our iniquities testify 
against us, O Jahveh, deal Thou for Thy name's sake, for many 
are our backslidings ; against Thee have we sinned. Ver. 8. 
Thou hope of Israel, his Saviour in time of need, why wilt Thou 
be as a stranger in the land, like a wayfarer that hath put up 
to tarry for a night? Ver. 9. Why wilt Thou be as a man 
astonied, as a mighty man that cannot help, and yet Thou art 
in the midst of us, Jahveh, and Thy name is named upon us 
— O leave us not ! " 

The prophet utters this prayer in the name of his people 
(cf. ver. 11). It begins with confession of sore transgression. 
Thus the chastisement which has befallen them they have 
deserved as a just punishment; but the Lord is besought to 
help for His name's sake, i.e. not : " for the sake of Thy honour, 
with which it is not consistent that contempt of Thy will should 
go unpunished" (Hitz.). This interpretation suits neither the 
idea of the name of God nor the context. The name of God 
is the manifestation of God's being. From Moses' time on, God, 
as Jahveh) has revealed Himself as the Redeemer and Saviour 
of the children of Israel, whom He had adopted to be His 
people, and as God, who is merciful and gracious, long-suffer- 
ing, and of great goodness and faithfulness (Ex. xxxiv. 6). As 
such He is besought to reveal Himself now that they confess 
their backsliding and sin, and seek His grace. Not for the 
sake of His honour in the eyes of the world, lest the heathen 
believe He has no power to help, as Graf holds, for all reference 
to the heathen nations is foreign to this connection ; but He is 
entreated to help, not to belie the hope of His people, because 
Israel sets its hope in Him as Saviour in time of need (ver. 9). ■ 
If by withholding rain He makes His land and people to pine, 
then He does not reveal Himself as the lord and owner of 
Judah, not as the God that dwells amidst His people ; but He 
seems a stranger passing through the land, who sets up His 
tent there only to spend the night, who " feels no share in the 
weal and woe of the dwellers therein" (Hitz.). This is the 
meaning of the question in ver. 8b. The ancient expositors 
take no3 elliptically, as in Gen. xii. 8 : that stretches out His 
tent to pass the night. Hitz., again, objects that the wayfarer 
does not drag a tent about with him, and, like Ew., takes this 

CHAP. XIV. 10-18. 247 

verb in the sense of swerve from the direct route, cf. 2 Sam. 
ii. 19, 21, etc. But the reason alleged is not tenable; since 
travellers did often carry their tents with them, and SNM, to turn 
oneself, is not used absolutely in the sig. to turn aside from the 
way, without the qualification : to the right or to the left. 
"HD is in use for to turn aside to tarry, to turn in, Jer. xv. 5. 
We therefore abide by the old interpretation, since " swerve 
from the way" has here no suitable meaning. — Ver. 9. The 
pleader makes further appeal to God's almighty power. It is 
impossible that Jahveh can let Himself look like a man at his 
wit's end or a nerveless warrior, as He would seem to be if He 
should not give help to His people in their present need. Since 
the time of A. Schultens the air. \e<y. DrttJ is rendered, after 

/ / / 

the Arab, j^j, to make an unforeseen attack, by stupefactus, 

attonitus, one who, by reason of a sudden mischance, has lost 
his presence of mind and is helpless. This is in keeping with 
the next comparison, that with a warrior who has no strength 
to help. The passage closes with an appeal to the relation of 
grace which Jahveh sustains towards His people. nrifctt comes 
in adversativelv : yet art Thou in our midst, i.e. present to Thy 
people. Thy name is named upon us, i.e. Thou hast l'evealed 
Thyself to us in Thy being as God of salvation ; see on vii. 10. 
nn3n~7i«, lit. lay us not down, i.e. let us not sink. 

Vers. 10-18. The Lord's ansiuer.—Ver. 10. "Thus saith 
Jahveh unto this people : Thus they loved to wander, their feet 
they kept not back ; and Jahveh hath no pleasure in them, now 
will He remember their iniquities and visit their sins. Ver. 11. 
And Jahveh hath said unto me : Pray not for this people for 
their good. Ver. 12. When they fast, I hear not their cry; 
and when they bring burnt-offering and meat-offering, I have 
no pleasure in them ; but by sword, and famine, and pestilence 
will I consume them. Ver. 13. Then said I : Ah Lord Jahveh, 
behold, the prophets say to them, Ye shall see no sword, and 
famine shall not befall you, but assured peace give I in this 
place. Ver. 14. And Jahveh said unto me : Lies do the 
prophets prophesy in my name : I have not sent them, nor 
commanded them, nor spoken to them ; lying vision, and divina- 
tion, and a thing of nought, and deceit of their heart they 


prophesy to you. Ver. 15. Therefore thus saith Jahveh con- 
cerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, when I have 
not sent them, who yet say, Sword and famine shall not 
be in this land : By sword and famine shall these prophets 
perish. Ver. 16. And the people to whom they prophesy shall 
lie cast out upon the streets of Jerusalem, by reason of the 
famine and of the sword, and none will bury them, them and 
their wives, their sons and their daughters ; and I pour their 
wickedness upon them. Ver. 17. And thou shalt say to them 
this word : Let mine eyes run down with tears day and night 
and let them not cease ; for with a great breach is broken the 
virgin-daughter of my people, with a very grievous blow. Ver. 
18. If I go forth into the field, behold the slain with the sword ; 
and if I come into the city, behold them that pine with famine ; 
for prophet and priest pass into a land and know it not." 

To the prophet's prayer the Lord answers in the first place, 
ver. 10, by pointing to the backsliding of the people, for which 
He is now punishing them. In the " thus they love," etc., lies a 
backward reference to what precedes. The reference is certainly 
not to the vain going for water (ver. 3), as Ch. B. Mich, and E. 
Salomo Haccohen thought it was; nor is it to the description 
of the animals afflicted by thirst, vers. 5 and 6, in which Nag. 
finds a description of the passionate, unbridled lust after idolatry, 
the real and final cause of the ruin that has befallen Israel. 
Where could be the likeness between the wild ass's panting 
for breath and the wandering of the Jews? That to which the 
" thus " refers must be sought for in the body of the prayer to 
which Jahveh makes answer, as Ros. rightly saw. Not by any 
means in the fact that in ver. 9 the Jews prided themselves on 
being the people of God and yet went after false gods, so that 
God answered : ita amant vacillare, as good as to say : ita 
instabiles illos esse, ut nunc ah ipso, nunc ab aliis auxilium 
qucerant (Ros.) ; for JW cannot here mean the waving and 
swaying of reeds, but only the wandering after other gods, 
cf. ii. 23, 31. This is shown by the addition: they kept not 
back their feet, cf. with ii. 25, where in the same reference the 
withholding of the feet is enjoined. Graf is right in referring 
thus to the preceding prayer : " Thus, in the same degree as 
Jahveh has estranged Himself from His people (cf. vers. 8 

chap. xiv. ic-18. 249 

and 9), have they estranged themselves from their God." 
They loved to wander after strange gods, and so have brought 
on themselves God's displeasure. Therefore punishment comes 
on them. The second clause of the verse is a reminiscence 
of Hos. viii. 13. — After mentioning the reason why He punishes 
Judah, the Lord in ver. 11 f. rejects the prayer of the prophet, 
because Pie will not hear the people's cry to Him. Neither by 
means of fasts nor sacrifice will they secure God's pleasure. 
The prophet's prayer implies that the people will humble them- 
selves and turn to the Lord. Hence God explains His rejection 
of the prayer by saying that He will give no heed to the 
people's fasting and sacrifices. The reason of this appears 
from the context, — namely, because they turn to Him only in 
their need, while their heart still cleaves to the idols, so that 
their prayers are but lip-service, and their sacrifices a soulless 
formality. The suffix in DSi refers not to the sacrifices, but, 
like that in Drip., to the Jews who, by bringing sacrifices, seek to 
win God's love. , 3, but, introducing the antithesis to " have no 
pleasure in them." The sword in battle, famine, and pestilence, 
at the siege of the cities, are the three means by which God 
designs to destroy the backsliding people ; cf. Lev. xxvi. 25 f. 

In spite of the rejection of his prayer, the prophet endeavours 
yet again to entreat God's favour for the people, laying stress, 
ver. 13, on the fact that they had been deceived and confirmed 
in their infatuation by the delusive forecastings of the false 
prophets who promised peace. Peace of truth, i.e. peace that 
rests on God's faithfulness, and so : assured peace will I give 
you. Thus spoke these prophets in the name of Jahveh ; cf. 
on this iv. 10, v. 12. Hitz. and Graf propose to change ofe 
n»K into nDKl Di?tJ>, ace. to xxxiii. 6 and Isa. xxxix. 8, because 
the LXX. have a\i]detav teal elprprqv. But none of the pas- 
sages cited furnishes sufficient ground for this. In xxxiii. 6 
the LXX. have rendered elp^vrjv koX 7tl<ttiv, in Isa. xxxix. 8, 
elprjVT) teal BtKcuoavvrj ; giving thereby a clear proof that we 
cannot draw from their rendering any certain inferences as to 
the precise words of the original text. Nor do the parallels 
prove anything, since in them the expression often varies in 
detail. But there can be no doubt that in the mouth of the 
pseudo-prophets " assured peace" is more natural than " peace 


and truth." But the Lord does not allow this excuse. He 
has not sent the prophets that so prophesy : they prophesy 
lying vision, divination, falsehood, and deceit, and shall them- 
selves be destroyed by sword and famine. The cumulation of 
the words, " lying vision," etc., shows God's wrath and indigna- 
tion at the wicked practices of these men. Graf wants to 
delete ) before ?vN, and to couple W>K with DD£, so as to make 
one idea : prophecy of nought. For this he can allege none 
other than the erroneous reason that Dpp, taken by itself, does 
not sufficiently correspond to "lying vision," inasmuch as, he 
says, it has not always a bad sense attached to it ; whereas the 
fact is that it is nowhere used for genuine prophecy. The 
Chet. »K and rivonri are unusual formations, for which the 
usual forms are substituted in the Keri. Deceit of their heart 
is not self-deceit, but deceit which their heart has devised ; cf . 
xxiii. 26. But the people to whom these prophets prophesied 
are to perish by sword and famine, and to lie unburied in the 
streets of Jerusalem ; cf. viii. 2, xvi. 4. They are not there- 
fore held excused because false prophets told them lies, for they 
have given credit to these lies, lies that flattered their sinful 
passions, and have not been willing to hear or take to heart the 
word of the true prophets, who preached repentance and return 
to God. 1 To Hitz. it seems surprising that, in describing the 
punishment which is to fall on seducers and seduced, there 
should not be severer judgment, in words at least, levelled 
against the seducers as being those involved in the deeper guilt ; 
whereas the very contrary is the case in the Hebrew text. 
Hitz. further proposes to get rid of this discrepancy by conjec- 
tures founded on the LXX., yet without clearly informing us 
how we are to read. But the difficulty solves itself as soon as 

1 The Berleburg Bible says: " They wish to have such teachers, and even to 
bring it about that there shall be so many deceiving workers, because they 
can hardly even endure or listen to the upright ones. That is the reason 
why it is to go no better with them than we see it is." Calvin too has sug- 
gested the doubt : posset tamen videri parum humaniter agere Deus, quod 
tarn duras pcenas infligit miseris hominibus, qui aliunde decepti sunt, and has 
then given the true solution : certum est, nisi ultro mundus appeteret men- 
dacia, non tantam fore cfficaciam didboli ad fallendum. Quod igitur ita 
rapiuntur homines ad imposturas, hoc Jit eorum culpa, quoniam magis pro- 
pensi sunt ad vanitatem, quam ut se Deo et verbo ejus subjiciant. 

CHAP. XIV. 10-18. 251 

we pay attention to the connection. The portion of the dis- 
course before us deals with the judgment which is to burst on 
the godless people, in the course of which those who had seduced 
the people are only casually mentioned. For the purpose in 
hand, it was sufficient to say briefly of the seducers that they 
too should perish by sword and famine who affirmed that these 
punishments should not befall the people, whereas it was neces- 
sary to set before the people the terrors of this judgment in all 
their horror, in order not to fail of effect. With the reckon- 
ing of the various classes of persons : they, their wives, etc., cf. 
the account of their participation in idolatry, vii. 18. Hitz. 
rightly paraphrases "'riaau'l : and in this wise will I pour out. 
ortjn, not : the calamity destined for them, but : their wicked- 
ness which falls on them with its consequences, cf. ii. 19, Hos. 
ix. 15, for propheta videlur causam reddere, cur Deus horribile 
Mud judicium exegui statuerit contra Judceos, nempe quoniam 
digni erant tali mercede (Calv.). — Ver. 17. The words, "and speak 
unto them this word," surprise us, because no word from God 
follows, as in xiii. 12, but an exposition of the prophet's feel- 
ings in regard to the dreadful judgment announced. Hence 
Dahl. and Ew. propose to join the words in question with what 
goes before, while at the same time Evv. hints a suspicion that 
an entire sentence has been dropped after the words. But for 
this suspicion there is no ground, and the joining of the words 
with the preceding context is contrary to the unfailino- usa^e 
of this by no means infrequent formula. The true explanation 
is found in Kimchi and Calvin. The prophet is led to exhibit 
to the hardened people the grief and pain he feels in contem- 
plating the coming ruin of Judah, ut pavorem Mis incuteret, si 
forte, cum hate audirent, resipiscerent (Kimchi). If not his 
words, then surely his tears ; for the terrible calamity he has to 
announce must touch and stagger them, so that they may be 
persuaded to examine themselves and consider what it is that 
tends to their peace. To make impression on their hardened 
consciences, he depicts the appalling ruin, because of which his 
eyes run with tears day and night. On u run down," etc., cf. 
ix. 17, xiii. 17, Lam. ii. 18, etc. " Let them not cease" gives 
emphasis : not be silent, at peace, cf. Lam. iii. 49, i.e. weep 
incessantly day and night. The appellation of the people : 


virgin-daughter of my people, i.e. daughter that is my people, 
cf. viii. 11, corresponds to the love revealing itself in tears. 
The depth of sorrow is further shown in the clause : with a 
blow that is very dangerous, cf. x. 19. In ver. 18 the prophet 
portrays the condition of things after the fall of Jerusalem : 
out upon the field are those pierced with the sword ; in the city 
3jn ■WvTlFi lit. suffering; f famine, Deut. xxix. 21, here abstr. 
pro concr. of those pining in famine ; and those that remain in 
life depart into exile. Instead of the people Jeremiah men- 
tions only the prophets and priests as being the flower of God's 
people. "iHDj to wander about, in Hebr. usually in the way of 
commerce, here ace. to Aram, usage, possibly too with the idea 
of begging subjoined. In the VHJ k?) Graf holds the \ to be 
entirely out of place, while Iiitz. pronounces against him. The 
words are variously taken ; e.g. and know nothing, wander 
about aimless and helpless. But with this the omission of the 
article with pN is incompatible. The omission shows that 
" and know not" furnishes an attribute to " into a land." We 
therefore translate : and know it not = which they know not, 
since the pronominal suffix is wont to be often omitted where it 
can without difficulty be supplied from the preceding clause. 

Vers. 19-22 and xv. 1-9. Renewed supplication and repeated 
rejection of the same. — Ver. 19. " Hast thou then really rejected 
Judah ? or doth thy soul loathe Zion ? Why hast Thou 
smitten us, so that there is no healing for us? We look for 
peace, and there is no good ; for the time of healing, and behold 
terror ! Ver. 20. We know, Jahveh, our wickedness, the 
iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against Thee. 
Ver. 21. Abhor not, for Thy name's sake ; disgrace not the 
throne of Thy glory ; remember, break not Thy covenant with 
us ! Ver. 22. Are there among the vain gods of the Gentiles 
givers of rain, or will the heavens give showers? Art not 
Thou (He), Jahveh our God? and we hope in Thee, for Thou 
hast made all these." 

Chap. xv. 1. " And Jahveh said unto me : If Moses and 
Samuel stood before me, yet would not my soul incline to 
this people. Drive them from my face, that they go forth. 
Ver. 2. And if they say to thee : Whither shall we go forth? 
then say to them : Thus hath Jahveh said — Such as are for 

CHAP. XIV. 19-22, XV. 1-9. 253 

death, to death ; and such as are for the sword, to the sword ; 
and such as are for the famine, to the famine ; and such as are 
for the captivity, to the captivity. Ver. 3. And I appoint over 
them four kinds, saith Jahveh : the sword to slay and the dogs 
to tear, the fowls of the heaven and the cattle of the earth, to 
devour and destroy. Ver. 4. And I give them up to be abused 
to all kingdoms of the earth, for Manasseh's sake, the son of 
Hezekiah king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem. 
Ver. 5. For who shall have pity upon thee, Jerusalem? and 
who shall bemoan thee ? and who shall go aside to ask after thy 
welfare ? Ver. 6. Thou hast rejected me, saith Jahveh ; thou 
goest backwards, and so I stretch forth mine hand against thee 
and destroy thee ; I am weary of repenting. Ver. 7. And I 
fan them with a fan into the gates of the land : bereave, ruin my 
people ; from their ways they turned not. Ver. 8. More in 
number are his widows become unto me than the sand of the sea ; 
I bring to them, against the mother of the young man, a spoiler 
at noon-da}' ; I cause to fall upon her suddenly anguish and 
terrors. Ver. 9. She that hath borne seven languisheth, she 
breatheth out her soul, her sun goeth down while yet it is day, 
she is put to shame and confounded ; and their residue I give 
to the sword before their enemies, saith Jahveh." 

The Lord had indeed distinctly refused the favour sought 
for Judah ; yet the command to disclose to the people the 
sorrow of his own soul at their calamity (vers. 17 and 18) gave 
the prophet courage to renew his supplication, and to ask of 
the Lord if He had in very truth cast off Judah and Zion 
(ver. 19), and to set forth the reasons which made this seem 
impossible (vers. 20-22). In the question, ver. 19, the emphasis 
lies on the ADND, strengthened as it is by the inf. abs.: hast Thou 
utterly or really rejected ? The form of the question is the 
same as that in ii. 14 ; first the double question, dealing with a 
state of affairs which the questioner is unable to regard as being 
actually the case, and then a further question, conveying 
wonder at what has happened. 7W, loathe, cast from one, is 
synonymous with DXE. The second clause agrees verbally with 
viii. 15. The reasons why the Lord cannot have wholly rejected 
Judah are : 1. That they acknowledge their wickedness. Con- 
fession of sin is the bemnninrr of return to God ; and in case of 


such return, the Lord, by His compassion, has vouchsafed to 
His people forgiveness and the renewal of covenant blessings ; 
cf. Lev. xxvi. 41 ff., Deut. xxx. 2 ff. Along with their own evil 
doing, the transgression of their fathers is mentioned, cf. ii. 5 if., 
vii. 25 ff., that full confession maybe made of the entire weight 
of wickedness for which Israel has made itself answerable. So 
that, on its own account, Judali has no claim upon the help of its 
God. But the Lord may be moved, thereto by regard for His 
name and the covenant relation. On this is founded the prayer 
of ver. 21 : Abhor not, so. thy people, for Thy name's sake, lest 
Thou appear powerless to help in the eyes of the nations ; see 
on ver. 7 and on Num. xiv. 16. 233, lit. to treat as fools, see on 
Deut. xxxii. 15, here: make contemptible. The throne of the 
glory of God is the temple, where Jahveh sits enthroned over 
the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies, Ex. xxv. 22, 
etc. The destruction of Jerusalem would, by the sack of the 
temple, dishonour the throne of the Lord. The object to " re- 
member," viz. " Thy covenant," comes after " break not." The 
remembering or rememberedness of the covenant is shown in 
the not breaking maintenance of the same ; cf. Lev. xxvi. 44 f. 
Lastly, we have in ver. 22 the final motive for supplication : 
that the Lord alone can put an end to trouble. Neither the 
vain gods of the heathen (B^in, see viii. 19) can procure rain, 
nor can the heaven, as one of the powers of nature, without 
power from God. fcflfl nrt&S, Thou art (Nin is the copula between 
subject and predicate). Thou hast made all these. Not : the 
heaven and the earth, as Hitz. and Gr. would make it, after 
Isa. xxxvii. 16; still less is it, with Calv. : the punishment in- 
flicted on us ; but, as n?X demands, the things mentioned imme- 
diately before : ccelum, pluvias et quidquid est in omni rerum 
natura, Ros. Only when thus taken, does the clause contain 
any motive for : we wait upon Thee, i.e. expect from Thee 
help out of our trouble. It further clearly appears from this 
verse that the supplication was called forth by the calamity 
depicted in vers. 2-5. 

Chap, xv- 1-9. Decisive refusal of the petition. — Ver. 1. 
Even Moses and Samuel, who stood so far in God's favour that 
by their supplications they repeatedly rescued their people from 
overwhelming ruin (cf. Ex. xvii. 11, xxxii. 11 f., Num. xiv. 13 ff., 

CHAP. XV. 1-9. 255 

and 1 Sam. vii. 9 f., xii. 17 f., Ps. xcix. 6), if they were to 
come now* before the Lord, would not incline His love towards 
this people. ?K indicates the direction of the soul towards any 
one ; in this connection : the inclination of it towards the people. 
He has cast off this people and will no longer let them come 
before His face. In vers. 2-9 this is set forth with terrible 
earnestness. We must supply the object, "this people," to 
" drive " from the preceding clause. " From my face " implies 
the people's standing before the Lord in the temple, where they 
had appeared bringing sacrifices, and by prayer invoking His 
help (xiv. 12). To go forth from the temple = to go forth from 
God's face. Ver. 2. But in case they ask where they are to go 
to, Jeremiah is to give them the sarcastic direction : Each to 
the destruction allotted to him. He that is appointed to death, 
shall co forth to death, etc. The clauses : such as are for death, 
etc., are to be filled up after the analogy of 2 Sam. xv. 20, 
2 Kings viii. 1, so that before the second " death," "sword," etc., 
we supply the verb "shall go." There are mentioned four 
kinds of punishments that are to befall the people. The 
"death" mentioned over and above the sword is death by 
disease, for which we have in xiv. 12 13^, pestilence, disease ; 
cf. xliii. 11, where death, captivity, and sword are mentioned 
together, with Ezek. xiv. 21, sword, famine, wild beasts, and 
disease (" ) ?'7), and xxxiii. 27, sword, wild beasts, and disease. 
This doom is made more terrible in ver. 3. The Lord will 
appoint over them (pP% as in xiii. 21) four kinds, i.e. four 
different destructive powers which shall prepare a miserable 
end for them. One is the sword already mentioned in ver. 2, 
which slays them ; the three others are to execute judgment on 
the dead : the dogs which shall tear, mutilate, and partly devour 
the dead bodies (cf. 2 Kings ix. 35, 37), and birds and beasts 
of prey, vultures, jackals, and others, which shall make an end 
of such portions as are left by the dogs. In ver. 4 the whole 
is summed up in the threatening of Deut. xxviii. 25, that the 
people shall be delivered over to be abused to all the kingdoms 
of the earth, and the cause of this terrible judgment is men- 
tioned. The Chet. njm is not to be read iiJM, but nyir, and is the 
contracted form from nij?T ? see on Deut. xxviii. 25, from the 
'ad. ViTj lit. tossing hither and thither, hence for maltreatment. 


For the sake of King Manasseh, who by his godless courses 
had filled up the measure of the people's sins, so that the Lord 
must cast Judah away from His face, and give it up to the 
heathen to be chastised; cf. 2 Kings xxiii. 26, xxiv. 3, with the 
exposition of these passages ; and as to what Manasseh did, see 
2 Kings xxi. 1-16. 

In vers. 5-9 we have a still further account of this appalling 
judgment and its causes. The grounding *3 in ver. 5 attaches to 
the central thought of ver. 4. The sinful people will be given up 
to all the kingdoms of the earth to be ill used, for no one will or 
can have compassion on Jerusalem, since its rejection by God is 
a just punishment for its rejection of the Lord (ver. 6). " Have 
pity" and "bemoan" denote loving sympathy for the fall of 
the unfortunate. 7ftn, to feel sympathy ; Ty, to lament and 
bemoan. "nD, to swerve from the straight way, and turn aside 
or enter into any one's house ; cf. Gen. xix. 2 f ., Ex. iii. 3, etc. 
7 D17l^7 7X^ to inquire of one as to his health, cf. Ex. xviii. 7 ; 
then : to salute one, to desire v ^w&j Gen. xliii. 27, Judg. 
xviii. 15, and often. Not only will none show sympathy for 
Jerusalem, none will even ask how it goes with her welfare. — 
Ver. 6. The reason of this treatment : because Jerusalem has 
dishonoured and rejected its God, therefore He now stretches 
out His hand to destroy it. To go backwards, instead of 
following the Lord, cf. vii. 24. This determination the Lord 
will not change, for He is weary of repenting. Dn3n frequently 
of the withdrawal, in grace and pity, of a divine decree to punish, 
cf. iv. 28, Gen. vi. 6 f., Joel ii. 14, etc.— Ver. 7. DnTKJ is a 
continuation of BN1, ver. 6, and, like the latter, is to be under- 
stood prophetically of what God has irrevocably determined to 
do. It is not a description of what is past, an allusion to the 
battle lost at Megiddo, as Hitz., carrying out his a priori system 
of slighting prophecy, supposes. To take the verbs of this verse 
as proper preterites, as J. D. Mich, and Ew. also do, is not in 
keeping with the contents of the clauses. In the first clause 
Ew. and Gr. translate H?C *$$? gates, i.e. exits, boundaries of 
the earth, and thereby understand the remotest lands of the 
earth, the four corners or extremities of the earth, Isa. xi. 12 
(Ew.). But " gates " cannot be looked on as corners or 
extremities, nor are they ends or borders, but the inlets and 

CHAP. XV. 1-9. 257 

outlets of cities. For how can a man construe to himself the 
ends of the earth as the outlets of it % where could one go to 
from there ? Hence it is impossible to take pNn of the earth 
in this case ; it is the land of Judah. The gates of the land 
are either mentioned by synecdoche for the cities, cf. Mic. v. 
5, or are the approaches to the land (cf. Nah. hi. 13), its outlets 
and inlets. Here the context demands the latter sense, nnr, to 
fan, c. 3 loci, to scatter into a place, cf. Ezek. xii. 15, xxx. 26: fan 
into the outlets of the land, i.e. cast out of the land. ?3^, make 
the people childless, by the fall in battle of the sons, the young 
men, cf. Ezek. v. 17. The threat is intensified by W]?K, added 
as asyndeton. The last clause : from their ways, etc., subjoins 
the reason. — Ver. 8. By the death of the sons, the women lose 
their husbands, and become widows, y is the dative of sym- 
pathetic interest. " Sand of the sea" is the figure for a count- 
less number. &W is poetic plural ; cf. Ps. lxxviii. 27, Job vi. 3. 
On these defenceless women come suddenly spoilers, and these 
mothers who had perhaps borne seven sons give up the ghost and 
perish without succour, because their sons have fallen in war. 
Thus proceeds the portrayal as Hitz. has well exhibited it. 
"linn DS PJ? is variously interpreted. We must reject the view 
taken by Ch. B. Mich, from the Syr. and Arab, versions : upon 
mother and young man; as also the view of Rashi, Cler., Eichh., 
Dahl., etc., that DN means the mother-city, i.e. Jerusalem. 
The true rendering is that of Jerome and Kimchi, who have 
been followed by J. D. Mich., Hitz., Ew., Graf, and Nag. : 
upon the mother of the youth or young warrior. This view is 
favoured by the correspondence of the woman mentioned in 
ver. 9 who had borne seven sons. Both are individualized as 
women of full bodily vigour, to lend vividness to the thought 
that no age and no sex will escape destruction. av ^?, at clear 
noontide, when one least looks for an attack. Thus the word 
corresponds with the " suddenly " of the next clause, "vy, 
Aramaic form for TO, Isa. xiii. 8, pangs. The bearer of seven, 
i.e. the mother of many sons. Seven as the perfect number of 
children given in blessing by God, cf. 1 Sam. ii. 5, Ruth iv. 15. 
" She breathes out her life," cf. Job xxxi. 39. Graf wrongly : 
she sighs. The sun of her life sets ( n ?3) while it is still day, 
before the evening of her life has been reached, cf. Am. viii. 9. 

VOL. I. R 


" Is put to shame and confounded " is not to be referred to the 1 
son, but the mother, who, bereaved of her children, goes covered 
with shame to the grave. The Keri N3 for S"IS2 is an unneces- 
sary change, since WVW is also construed as fern., Gen. xv. 17. 
The description closes with a glance cast on those left in life 
after the overthrow of Jerusalem. These are to be given to 
the sword when in flight before their enemies, cf. Mic. vi. 14. 

Vers. 10-21. Complaint of the prophet, and soothing 
answer OF the Lord. — His sorrow at the rejection by God 
of his petition so overcomes the prophet, that he gives utterance 
to the wish : he had rather not have been born than live on in 
the calling in which he must ever foretell misery and ruin to 
his people, thereby provoking hatred and attacks, while his 
heart is like to break for grief and fellow-feeling ; whereupon 
the Lord reprovingly replies as in vers. 11-14. 

Ver. 10. " Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast born me, 
a man of strife and contention to all the earth ! I have not 
lent out, nor have men lent to me; all curse me. Ver. 11. 
Jahveh saith, Verily I strengthen thee to thy good ; verily I 
cause the enemy to entreat thee in the time of evil and of 
trouble. Ver. 12. Does iron break, iron from the north and 
brass? Ver. 13. Thy substance and thy treasures give I for 
a prey without a price, and that for all thy sins, and in all thy 
borders, Ver. 14. And cause thine enemies bring it into a 
land which thou, knowest not ; for fire burnetii in mine anger, 
against you it is kindled." 

Woe is me, exclaims Jeremiah in ver. 10, that my mother 
brought me forth ! The apostrophe to his mother is significant 
of the depth of his sorrow, and is not to be understood as if he 
were casting any reproach on his mother ; it is an appeal to his 
mother to share with him his sorrow at his lot. This lament is 
consequently very different from Job's cursing of the day of his 
birth, Job iii. 1. The apposition to the suffix " me," the man 
of strife and contention, conveys the meaning of the lament in 
this wise : me, who must yet be a man, with whom the whole 
world strives and contends. Ew. wrongly renders it : " to be 
a man of strife," etc. ; for it was not his mother's fault that he 
became such an one. The second clause intimates that he has 

CHAP. XV. 10-14. 259 

not provoked the strife and contention. fWk, lend, i.e. give on 
loan, and with 3, to lend to a person, lend out ; hence nco ? 
debtor, and to 7Wfa } creditor, Isa. xxiv. 2. These words are not 
an individualizing of the thought : all interchange of friendly 
services between me and human society is broken off (Hitz.). 
For intercourse with one's fellow-men does not chiefly, or in 
the foremost place, consist in lending and borrowing of gold 
and other articles. Borrowing and lending is rather the fre- 
quent occasion of strife and ill-wall ; x and it is in this reference 
that it is here brought up. Jeremiah says he has neither as 
bad debtor or disobliging creditor given occasion to hatred and 
quarrelling, and yet all curse him. This is the meaning of the 
last words, in which the form ^V?\>® is hard to explain. The 
rabbinical attempts to clear it up by means of a commingling 
of the verbs hbp and T\h\> are now, and reasonably, given up. 
Ew. (Gram. § 350, c) wants to make it *33?7j3lD ; but probably 
the form has arisen merely out of the wrong dividing of a word, 
and ought to be read w?i? Q ??3. So read most recent scholars, 
after the example of J. D. Mich. ; cf. also Bottcher, Grammat. 
ii. S. 322, note. It is true that we nowhere else find Dn?3 ; but 
we find an analogy in the archaic QH?3. In its favour we 
have, besides, the circumstance, that the heavy form DH is by 
preference appended to short words ; see Bottcher, as above, 
S. 21. — To this complaint the Lord makes answer in vers. 
11-14, first giving the prophet the prospect of complete vindi- 
cation against those that oppose him (ver. 11), and then (vers. 
12-14) pointing to the circumstances that shall compel the 
people to this result. The introduction of God's answer by 
niiT 1 nftN without nb is found also in xlvi. 25, where Graf erro- 
neously seeks to join the formula with what precedes. In the 
present 11th verse the want of the nb is the less felt, since the 
word from the Lord that follows bears in the first place upon 
the prophet himself, and is not addressed to the people. N? DX 
is a particle of asseveration, introducing the answer which 
follows with a solemn assurance. The vowel-points of T?1"i^ 
require Tn" 1 ")^ 1 pers. perf., from rnK ; = the Aram. VT\w\ loose, 
solve (Dan. v. 12) : I loose (free) thee to thy good. The Chet. 

1 Calvin aptly remarks : Uncle enim inter homines et lites ct jurgia, nisi 
quia male inter ipsos convenit, duni ultro et citro negotianturt 


is variously read and rendered. By reason of the preceding 
&6 DN, the view is improbable that we have here an infinitive ; 
either ^™, inf. Pi. of Tits* in the sig. inflict suffering : " thy 
affliction becomes welfare" (Hitz.) ; or yfaf, inf. Kal of nnp, 
set free : thy release falls out to thy good (Ros., etc.). The 
context suggests the 1 pers. perf of TIB*, against which the de- 
fective written form is no argument, since this occurs frequently 
elsewhere, e.g. WW, Nah. i. 12. The question remains: whether 
we are to take TiB> according to the Hebrew usage : I afflict 
thee to thy good, harass thee to thine advantage (Gesen. in the 

thes. p. 1482, and Nag.), or according to the Aramaic (;_») in 

the sig. firmabo, stabiliam: I strengthen thee or support thee to 
thy good (Ew., Maur.). We prefer the latter rendering, because, 
the saying : I afflict thee, is not true of God ; since the prophet's 
troubles came not from God, nor is Jeremiah complaining of 
affliction at the hand of God, but only that he was treated as 
an enemy by all the world. atoj>, for good, as in Ps. cxix. 122, 
so that it shall fall out well for thee, lead to a happy issue, for 
which we have elsewhere n ?i^, xiv. 11, Ps. lxxxvi. 17, Neh. 
v. 19. — This happy issue is disclosed in the second clause : I 
bring it about that the enemy shall in time of trouble turn 
himself in supplication to thee, because he shall recognise in 
the prophet's prayers the only way of safety ; cf. the fulfilment 
of this promise, xxi. 1 f., xxxvii. 3, xxxviii. 14 ff*., xlii. 2. g*3BPl, 
here causative, elsewhere only with the sig. of the Kal, e.g. 
xxxvi. 25, Isa. liii. 12. " The enemy," in unlimited gene- 
rality : each of thine adversaries. That the case will turn out 
so is intimated by vers. 12-14, the exposition of which is, how- 
ever, difficult and much debated. Ver. 12 is rendered either : 
can iron (ordinary iron) break northern iron and brass (the 
first " iron " being taken as subject, the second as object) % or : 
can one break iron, (namely) iron of the north, and brass 
("iron" being taken both times as object, and " break" having 
its subject indefinite) % or : can iron . . . break (JrtT intrans. 
as in xi. 16)? Of these three translations the first has little 
probability, inasmuch as the simile of one kind of iron breaking 
another is unnatural. But Hitz.'s view is wholly unnatural : 
that the first " iron" and " brass" are the object, and that " iron 

CHAP. XV. 10-14. 2G1 

from the north" is subject, standing as it does between the 
two objects, as in Cant. v. 6, where, however, the construction 
alleged is still very doubtful. Nor does the sense, which would 
in this way be expressed, go far to commend this rendering. 
By iron and brass we would then have to understand, according 
to vi. 28, the stiff-necked Jewish people ; and by iron from the 
north, the calamity that was to come from the north. Thus 
the sense would be : will this calamity break the sullen obsti- 
nacy of the prophet's enemies? will it make them pliable? 
The verse would thus contain an objection on the part of the 
prophet against the concession vouchsafed by God in ver. 11. 
With this idea, however, vers. 11-14 are emphatically not in 
harmony. The other two translations take each a different 
view of the sense. The one party understand by iron and brass 
the prophet ; the other, either the Jewish people or the northern 
might of the Chaldean empire. Holding that the prophet 
is so symbolized, L. de Dieu and Umbr. give the sense thus : 
"Let him but bethink him of his immoveable firmness against 
the onsets of the world ; in spite of all, he is iron, northern iron 
and brass, that cannot be broken." Thus God would here be 
speaking to the prophet. Dahl., again, holds the verse to be 
spoken by the prophet, and gives the sense : Can I, a frail and 
feeble man, break the determination of a numerous and stiff- 
necked nation ? Against the latter view the objection already 
alleged against Hitz. is decisive, showing as it did that the 
verse cannot be the prophet's speech or complaint ; against the 
former, the improbability that God would call the prophet iron, 
northern iron and brass, when the very complaint he was 
making showed how little of the firmness of iron he had about 
him. If by the northern iron we understand the Jewish people, 
then God would here say to the prophet, that he should always 
contend in vain against the stiff-neckedness of the people 
(Eichh.). This would have been but small comfort for him. 
But the appellation of northern iron does not at all fit the 
Jewish people. For the observation that the hardest iron, the 
steel made by the Chalybes in Pontus, was imported from the 
north, does not serve the turn ; since a distinction between 
ordinary iron and very hard iron nowhere else appears in the 
Okl Testament. The attribute " from the north" points 


manifestly to the iron sway of the Chaldean empire (Eos., 
E\v., Maur., and many others) ; and the meaning of the verse 
can only be this : As little as a man can break iron, will the 
Jewish people be able to break the hostile power of the north 
(xiii. 20). Taken thus, the pictorial style of the verse contains 
a suggestion that the adversaries of the prophet will, by the 
crushincr power of the Chaldeans, be reduced to the condition 
of turning themselves in supplication to the prophet. — With 
this vers. 13 and 14 are thus connected : This time of evil and 
tribulation (ver. 10) will not last long. Their enemies will 
carry off the people's substance and treasures as their booty 
into a strange land. These verses are to be taken, with Umbr., 
as a declaration from the mouth of the Lord to His guilt-bur- 
dened people. This appears from the contents of the verses. 
The immediate transition from the address to the prophet to 
that to the people is to be explained by the fact, that both the 
prophet's complaint, ver. 10, and God's answer, vers. 11-13, 
have a full bearing on the people ; the prophet's complaint at 
the attacks on the part of the people serving to force them to a 
sense of their obstinacy against the Lord, and God's answer to 
the complaint, that the prophet's announcement will come true, 
and that he will then be justified, serving to crush their sullen 
doo-credness. The connection of thought in vers. 13 and 14 is 
thus : The people that so assaults thee, by reason of thy threat- 
ening judgment, will not break the iron might of the Chaldeans, 
but will by them be overwhelmed. It will come about as thou 
hast declared to them in my name ; their substance and their 
treasures will I give as booty to the Chaldeans. "MM K? = 
THO fc&a, Isa. lv. 1, not for purchase-money, i.e. freely. As 
God sells His people for nought, i.e. gives them up to their 
enemies (cf. Isa. lii. 3, Ps. xliv. 13), so here He threatens to 
deliver up their treasures to the enemy as a booty, and for 
nought. When Graf says that this last thought has no suffi- 
cient meaning, his reasons therefor do not appear. Nor is 
there anything " peculiar," or such as could throw suspicion 
on the passage, in the juxtaposition of the two qualifying 
phrases : and that for all thy sins, and in all thy borders. The 
latter phrase bears unmistakeably on the treasures, not on the 
sins. " Cause .". .to bring it," lit. I cause them (the treasures) 

CHAP. XV. 15-18. 263 

to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not, 
i.e. I cause the enemies to bring them, etc. Hitz. and Graf 
erroneously : I carry thine enemies away into a land ; which 
affords no suitable sense. The grounding clause : for hire, etc., 
is taken from Deut. xxxii. 22, to show that that threatening of 
judgment contained in Moses' song is about to come upon 
degenerate Judah. "Against you it is kindled" apply the 
words to Jeremiah's contemporaries. 1 

Vers. 15-18. Jeremiah continues his complaint. — Ver. 15. 
" Thou knowest it, Jahveh ; remember me, and visit me, and 
revenge me on my persecutors ! Do not, in Thy long-suffering, 
take me away ; know that for Thy sake I bear reproach. Ver. 
16. Thy words were found, and I did eat them ; and Thy words 
were to me a delight and the joy of my heart : for Thy name 
was named upon me, Jahveh, God of hosts. Ver. 17. I sat 
not in the assembly of the laughers, nor was merry ; because of 
Thy hand I sat solitary; for with indignation Thou hast filled me. 
Ver. 18. Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound malignant? 
will not heal. Wilt Thou really be to me as a deceiving brook, 
a water that doth not endure? " 

The Lord's answer, vers. 11-14, has not yet restored tran- 
quillity to the prophet's mind ; since in it his vindication by 

1 Vers. 11-14 are pronounced spurious by Hitz., Graf, and Nag., on the 
ground that vers. 13 and 14 are a mere quotation, corrupted in the text, 
from xvii. 3, 4, and that all the three verses destroy the connection, con- 
taining an address to the people that does not at all fit into the context. 
But the interruption of the continuity could at most prove that the verses 
had got into a wrong place, as is supposed by E\v., who transposes them, 
and puts them next to ver. 9. But for this change in place there are no 
sufficient grounds, since, as our exposition of them shows, the verses in 
question can be very well understood in the place which they at present 
occupy. The other allegation, that vers. 13 and 14 are a quotation, cor- 
rupted in text, from xvii. 3, 4, is totally without proof. In xvii. 3, 4 we 
have simply the central thoughts of the present passage repeated, but modi- 
fied to suit their new context, after the manner characteristic of Jeremiah. 
The genuineness of the verses is supported by the testimony of the LXX., 
which has them here, while it omits them in xvii. 3, 4 ; and by the fact, 
that it is inconceivable they should have been interpolated as a gloss in a 
wholly unsuitable place. For those who impugn the genuineness have not 
even made the attempt to show the possibility or probability of such a gloss 


means of the abasement of his adversaries had been kept at an 
indefinite distance. And so he now, ver. 15, prays the Lord to 
revenge him on his adversaries, and not to let him perish, since 
for His sake he bears reproach. The object to " Thou knowest, 
Lord," appears from the context, — namely : a the attacks which 
I endure," or more generally: Thou knowest my case, my 
distress. At the same time he clearly means the harassment 
detailed in ver. 10, so that " Thou knowest " is, as to its sense, 
directly connected with ver. 10. But it by no means follows 
from this that vers. 11-14 are not original; only that Jeremiah 
did not feel his anxiety put at rest by the divine answer con- 
veyed in these verses. In the climax : Remember me, visit me, 
i.e. turn Thy care on me, and revenge me, we have the utter- 
ance of the importunity of his prayer, and therein, too, the 
extremity of his distress. According to Thy long-suffering, 
i.e. the long-suffering Thou showest towards my persecutors, 
take me not away, i.e. do not deliver me up to final ruin. This 
prayer he supports by the reminder, that for the Lord's sake he 
bears reproach ; cf. Ps. lxix. 8. Further, the imperative : know, 
recognise, bethink thee of, is the utterance of urgent prayer. 
In ver. 16 he exhibits how he suffers for the Lord's sake. The 
words of the Lord which came to him he has received with 
eagerness, as it had been the choicest dainties. " Thy words 
were found" intimates that he had come into possession of them 
as something actual, without particularizing how they were 
revealed. With the figurative expression : I ate them, cf. the 
symbolical embodiment of the figure, Ezek. ii. 9, iii. 3, Apoc. x. 
9 f. The Keri Tl^j is an uncalled for correction, suggested 
by the preceding W, and the diet, is perfectly correct. Thy 
words turned out to me a joy and delight, because Thy name 
was named upon me, i.e. because Thou hast revealed Thyself to 
me, hast chosen me to be the proclaimer of Thy word. — Ver. 17. 
To this callincr he has devoted his whole life : has not sat in the 
assembly of the laughers, nor made merry with them ; but sat 
alone, i.e. avoided all cheerful company. Because of Thy hand, 
i.e. because Thy hand had laid hold on me. The hand of Jahveh 
is the divine power which took possession of the prophets, 
transported their spirit to the ecstatic domain of inner vision, 
and impelled to prophesy; cf. xx. 7, Isa. viii. 11, Ezek. i. 3, etc. 

CHAP. XV. 10-21. 265 

Alone I sat, because Thou hast filled me with indignation. Ditt 
is the wrath of God against the moral corruptness and infatua- 
tion of Judah, with which the Spirit of God has filled Jeremiah 
in order that he may publish it abroad, cf. vi. 11. The sadness 
of what he had to publish filled his heart with the deepest grief, 
and constrained him to keep far from all cheery good fellowship. 
— Ver. 18. Why is my pain become perpetual? "My pain" is 
the pain or grief he feels at the judgment he has to announce 
to the people; not his pain at the hostility he has on that 
account to endure, nxa adverbial = n$)7, as in Am. i. 11, Ps. 
xiii. 2, etc. "My wound," the blow that has fallen on him. 
nSPCK, malignant, is explained by " (that) will not heal," cf. xxx. 
12, Mic. i. 9. The clause 'U1 Win ftl still depends on H^, 
and the infin. gives emphasis: Wilt Thou really be? 3DK, lit. 
lying, deception, means here, and in Mic. i. 16, a deceptive 
torrent that dries up in the season of drought, and so disappoints 
the hope of finding water, cf. Job vi. 15 ff. " A water," etc., 
is epexegesis : water that doth not endure. To this the Lord 
answers — 

Vers. 19-21. By reprimanding his impatience, and by again 
assuring him of His protection and of rescue from the power of 
his oppressors. — Ver. 19. "Therefore thus saith Jahveh : If 
thou return, then will I bring thee again to serve me ; and if 
thou separate the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my 
mouth. They will return to thee, but thou shalt not return 
unto them. Ver. 20. And I make thee unto this people a 
strong wall of brass, so that they fight against thee, but prevail 
not against thee ; for I am with thee, to help thee and to save 
thee, saith Jahveh. Ver. 21. And I save thee out of the hand 
of the wicked, and deliver thee out of the clutch of the violent." 

In the words : if thou return, lies the reproach that in his 
complaint, in which his indignation had hurried him on to doubt 
God's faithfulness, Jeremiah had sinned and must repent. 
^SHife is by many commentators taken adverbially and joined 
with the following words : then will I again cause thee to stand 
before me. But this adverbial use has been proved only for 
the Kal of 3*B>, not for the Hiphil, which must here be taken by 
itself : then will I bring thee again, sc. into proper relations with 
me — namely, to stand before me, i.e. to be my servant. "IE)? 


"•■Ssfr, of the standing of the servant before his lord, to receive 
his commands, and so also of prophets, cf. 1 Kings xvii. 1, xviii. 
15, 2 Kings iii. 14, etc. In the words: if thou make to go 
forth, i.e. separate the precious from the vile, we have the 
figure of metal-refining, in course of which the pure metal is 
by fusion parted from the earthy and other ingredients mixed 
with it. The meaning of the figure is, however, variously 
understood. Some think here, unfittingly, of good and bad 
men ; so Chald. and Rashi : if thou cause the good to come 
forth of the bad, turn the good into bad ; or, if out of the evil 
mass thou cause to come forth at least a few as good, i.e. if thou 
convert them (Ch. B. Mich., Ros., etc.). For we cannot here 
have to do with the issue of his labours, as Graf well remarks, 
since this did not lie in his own power. Just as little is the case 
one of contrast between God's word and man's word, the view 
adopted by Ven., Eichh., Dahl., Hitz., Ew. The idea that Jere- 
miah presented man's word for God's word, or God's word mixed 
with spurious, human additions, is utterly foreign to the context ; 
nay, rather it was just because he declared only what God 
imposed on him that he was so hard bested. Further, that idea 
is wholly inconsistent with the nature of true prophecy. Maurer 
has hit upon the truth : si quae pretiosa in te sunt, achnixtis 
liberaveris sordibus, si virtutes guas habes maculis liberaveris 
impatientice et iracundice ; with whom Graf agrees. ''M (with 
the so-called 3 verit.), as my mouth shalt thou be, i.e. as the 
instrument by which I speak, cf. Ex. iv. 16. Then shall his 
labours be crowned with success. They (the adversaries) will 
turn themselves to thee, in the manner shown in ver. 11, but 
thou shalt not turn thyself to them, i.e. not yield to their wishes 
or permit thyself to be moved by them from the right way. 
Ver. 20 f. After this reprimand, the Lord renews to him the 
promise of His most active support, such as He had promised 
him at his call, i. 18 f . ; "to save thee" being amplified in 
ver. 21. 

Chap. xvi. 1-xvii. 4. The course to be pursued by 

THROW of the kingdom OF judah. — The ruin of Jerusalem 
and of Judah will inevitably come. This the prophet must 

CHAP. XVI. 1-9. 267 

proclaim by word and deed. To this end he is shown in xvi. 
1-9 what relation he is to maintain towards the people, now 
grown ripe for judgment, and next in vers. 10-15 he is told 
the cause of this terrible judgment ; then comes an account of 
its fulfilment (vers. 16-21); then again, finally, we have the 
cause of it explained once more (xvii. 1-4). 

Vers. 1-9. The course to be pursued by the prophet with 
reference to the approaching judgment. — Ver. 1. " And the word 
of Jahveh came to me, saying: Ver. 2. Thou shalt not take 
thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this 
place. Ver. 3. For thus hath Jahveh said concerning the sons 
and the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning 
their mothers that bear them, and concerning their fathers that 
beget them in this land: Ver. 4. By deadly suffering shall 
they die, be neither lamented or buried ; dung upon the field 
shall they become ; and by sword and by famine shall they be 
consumed, and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of the 
heavens and the beasts of the field. Ver. 5. For thus hath 
Jahveh said : Come not into the house of mourning, and go not 
to lament, and bemoan them not ; for I have taken away my 
peace from this people, saith Jahveh, grace and mercies. Ver. 6. 
And great and small shall die in this land, not be buried; 
they shall not lament them, nor cut themselves, nor make 
themselves bald for them. Ver. 7. And they shall not break 
bread for them in their mourning, to comfort one for the dead ; 
nor shall they give to any the cup of comfort for his father 
and his mother. Ver. 8. And into the house of feasting a Q 
not, to sit by them, to eat and to drink. Ver. 9. For thus 
hath spoken Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel : Behold, I 
cause to cease out of this place before your eyes, and in your 
days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of 
the bridegroom and the voice of the bride." 

What the prophet is here bidden to do and to forbear is 
closely bound up with the proclamation enjoined on him of 
judgment to come on sinful Judah. This connection is brought 
prominently forward in the reasons given for these commands. 
He is neither to take a wife nor to beget children, because all 
the inhabitants of the land, sons and daughters, mothers and 
fathers, are to perish by sickness, the sword, and famine (vers. 


3 and 4). He is both to abstain from the customary usages of 
mourning for the dead, and to keep away from mirthful feasts, 
in order to give the people to understand that, by reason of the 
multitude of the dead, customary mourning will have to be 
given up, and that all opportunity for merry-making will dis- 
appear (vers. 5-9). Adapting thus his actions to help to con- 
vey his message, he will approve himself to be the mouth of 
the Lord, and then the promised divine protection will not fail. 
Thus closely is this passage connected with the preceding 
complaint and reproof of the prophet (xv. 10-21), while it at 
the same time further continues the threatening of judgment 
in xv. 1-9. — With the prohibition to take a wife, cf. the apostle's 
counsel, 1 Cor. vii. 26. "This place" alternates with "this 
land," and so must not be limited to Jerusalem, but bears on 
Judah at large. P'Hrj adject, verbale, as in Ex. i. 32. The 
form '■niDK) is found, besides here, only in Ezek. xxviii. 8, where 
it takes the place of *nto, ver. 10. tfr6m VltaO, lit. deaths of 
sicknesses or sufferings, i.e. deaths by all kinds of sufferings, 
since D*K?nn is not to be confined to disease, but in xiv. 18 is 
used of pining away by famine. With "they shall not be 
lamented," cf. xxv. 33, viii. 2, xiv. 16, vii. 33. — Ver. 5 ff. The 
command not to go into a house of mourning (DTl^j l°ud crying, 
cry of lament for one dead, see on Am. vi. 7), not to show 
sympathy with the survivors, is explained by the Lord in the 
fearfully solemn saying : I withdraw from this people my peace, 
grace, and mercy. Dw is not " the inviolateness of the relation 
between me and my people" (Graf), but the peace of God 
which rested on Judah, the source of its well-being, of its 
life and prosperity, and which showed itself to the sinful race 
in the extension to them of grace and mercy. The consequence 
of the withdrawal of this peace is the death of great and 
small in such multitudes that they can neither be buried nor 
mourned for (ver. 6). l^lHin, cut one's self, is used in Deut. 
xiv. 1 for tF]fe> \T}i, to make cuts in the body, Lev. xix. 28 ; and 
rn|}, Niph., to crop one's self bald, ace. to Deut. xiv. 1, to shave 
a bare place on the front part of the head above the eyes. 
These are two modes of expressing passionate mourning for 
the dead which were forbidden to the Israelites in the law, 
yet which remained in use among the people, see on Lev. xix. 

CHAP. XVI. 10-15. 2 GO 

28 and Deut. xiv. 1. D«v, for them, in honour of the dead. 
— Ver. 7. D13, as in Isa. lviii. 7, for B5H2, Lam. iv. 4, break, sc. 
the bread (cf. Isa. I.e.) for mourning, and to give to drink the 
cup of comfort, does not refer to the meals which were held in 
the house of mourning upon occasion of a death after the 
interment, for this custom cannot be proved of the Israelites 
in Old Testament times, and is not strictly demanded by the 
words of the verse. To break bread to any one does not mean 
to hold a feast with him, but to bestow a gift of bread upon him ; 
cf. Isa. lviii. 7. Corresponding!}^ to give to drink, does not 
here mean to drink to one's health at a feast, but only to 
present with wine to drink. The words refer to the custom of 
sending bread and wine for refreshment into the house of the 
surviving relatives of one dead, to comfort them in their sorrow ; 
cf. 2 Sam. iii. 35, xii. 16 ff., and the remarks on Ezek. xxiv. 17. 
The singular suffixes on V^?, V3S', and IBS', alongside of the 
plurals DH? and D ^ix, are to be taken distributively of every one 
who is to be comforted upon occasion of a death in his house ; 
and DHP is not to be changed, as by J. D. Mich, and Hitz., 
into Dn?. — Ver. 8 f. The prophet is to withdraw from all 
participation in mirthful meals and feasts, in token that God 
will take away all joy from the people. iWBfcriV2j house in 
which a feast is given. a C^ f° r DJ ?^> refers, taken ad sensum, 
to the others who take part in the feast. On ver. 9, cf. vii. 34. 
Vers. 10-15. " And when thou showest this people all these 
things, and they say unto thee, Wherefore hath Jahveh pro- 
nounced all this great evil against us, and what is our trans- 
gression, and what our sin that we have committed against 
Jahveh our God? Ver. 11. Then say thou to them, Because 
your fathers have forsaken me, saith Jahveh, and have walked 
after other gods, and served them, and worshipped them, and 
have forsaken me, and not kept my law ; Ver. 12. And ye did 
yet worse than your fathers ; and behold, ye walk each after 
the stubbornness of his evil heart, hearkening not unto me. 
Ver. 13. Therefore I cast you out of this land into the land 
which ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers, and there may 
ye serve other gods day and night, because I will show you 
no favour. Ver. 14. Therefore, behold, the clays come, saith 
Jahveh, that it shall no more be said, By the life of Jahveh, 


that brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt, 
Ver. 15. But, By the life of Jahveh, that brought the sons of 
Israel out of the land of the north, and out of all the lands 
whither I had driven them, and I bring them again into their 
land that I gave to their fathers." 

The turn of the discourse in vers. 10 and 11 is like that in v. 
19. With ver. 11 cf. xi. 8, 10, vii. 24 ; with " ye did yet worse," 
etc., cf. 1 Kings xiv. 9 ; and on " after the stubbornness," 
cf. on iii. 17. The apodosis begins with "therefore I cast you 
out." On this head cf. vii. 15, ix. 15, and xxii. 26. The article 
in H?0 "^ Graf quite unnecessarily insists on having can- 
celled, as out of place. It is explained sufficiently by the fact, 
that the land, of which mention has so often been made, is 
looked on as a specific one, and is characterized by the following 
relative clause, as one unknown to the people. Besides, the "ye 
know not " is not meant of geographical ignorance, but, as is 
often the case with JH}, the knowledge is that obtained by direct 
experience. They know not the land, because they have never 
been there. " There ye may serve them," Ros. justly charac- 
terizes as concessio cum ironia : there ye may serve, as long as 
ye will, the gods whom ye have so longed after. The irony is 
especially marked in the " day and night." Here Jeremiah 
has in mind Deut. iv. 28, xxviii. 36, 64. "IE>K is causal, giving 
the grounds of the threat, " I cast you out." The form n^pn 
is air. \ey. — In vers. 14 and 15 the prophet opens to the people 
a view of ultimate redemption from the affliction amidst the 
heathen, into which, for their sin, they will be cast. By and 
by men will swear no more by Jahveh who redeemed them out 
of Egypt, but by Jahveh who has brought them again from the 
land of the north and the other lands into which they have been 
thrust forth. In this is implied that this second deliverance will 
be a blessing which shall outshine the former blessing of redemp- 
tion from Egypt. But just as this deliverance will excel the 
earlier one, so much the greater will the affliction of Israel in 
the northern land be than the Egyptian bondage had been. On 
this point Ros. throws especial weight, remarking that the aim 
of these verses is not so much to give promise of coming salva- 
tion, as to announce instare illis atrocius malum, quam illucl 
jEgyptiacum, eamque quam mox sint subituri servitutem mulio 

CHAP. XVI. 1G-21. 271 

fore duriorcm, quam olim JEgyptiaca fuerit. But though this 
idea does lie implicite in the words, yet we must not fail to be 
sure that the prospect held out of a future deliverance of Israel 
from the lands into which it is soon to be scattered, and of its 
restoration again to the land of its fathers, has, in the first and 
foremost place, a comforting import, and that it is intended to 
preserve the godly from despair under the catastrophe which is 
now awaiting them. 1 $? is not nevertheless, but, as universally, 
therefore ; and the train of thought is as follows : Because the 
Lord will, for their idolatry, cast forth His people into the 
lands of the heathen, just for that very reason will their redemp- 
tion from exile not fail to follow, and this deliverance surpass 
in gloriousness the greatest of all former deeds of blessing, the 
rescue of Israel from Egypt. The prospect of future redemp- 
tion given amidst announcements of judgment cannot be sur- 
prising in Jeremiah, who elsewhere also interweaves the like 
happy forecastings with his most solemn threatenings ; cf . iv. 
27, v. 10, 18, with iii. 14 f., xxiii. 3 if., etc. " This ray of light, 
falling suddenly into the darkness, does not take us more by 
surprise than ' I will not make a full end,' iv. 27. There is 
therefore no reason for regarding these two verses as interpo- 
lations from xxiii. 7, 8" (Graf). 

Vers. 16-21. Farther account of the punishment foretold, with 
the reasons for the same. — Ver. 1(3. " Behold, I send for many 
fishers, saith Jahveh, who shall fish them, and after will I send 
for many hunters, who shall hunt them from every mountain 
and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rock. Ver. 17. 
For mine eyes are upon all their ways, they are not hidden 
from me, neither is their iniquity concealed from mine eyes. 
Ver. 18. And first, I requite double their iniquity and their sin, 
because they defiled my land with the carcases of their detestables, 
and with their abominations they have filled mine inheritance. 

1 Calviu has excellently brought out both moments, and has thus ex- 
pounded the thought of the passage : " Scitis unde patres vestri exierint, 
nempe e fornace senea, quemadmodum alibi loquitur (xi. 4) et quasi ex pro- 
funda morte ; itaque redemptio ilia debuit esse memorabilis usque ad finem 
mundi. Sed jam Deus conjiciet vos in abyssum, qua3 longe profundior erit 
ilia iEgypti tyrannide, e qua erepti sunt patres vestri ; nam si inde vos 
redimat, erit miraculum longe excellentius ad postcro?, ut fere exstinguat 
vel paltem obscuret memoriam prion's illius redemptionis." 


Ver. 19. Jahveh, my strength and my fortress, and ray refuge 
in the day of trouble ! Unto Thee shall the peoples come from 
the ends of the earth and say : But lies have our fathers in- 
herited, vanity, and amidst them none profiteth at all. Ver. 20. 
Shall a man make gods to himself, which are yet no gods? 
Ver. 21. Therefore, behold, I make them to know this once, 
I make them to know my hand and my might, and they shall 
know that my name is Jahveh." 

Vers. 16-18 are a continuation of the threatening in ver. 13, 

that Judah is to be cast out, but are directly connected with 

ver. 15b, and elucidate the expulsion into many lands there 

foretold. The figures of the fishers and hunters do not bespeak 

the gathering again and restoration of the scattered people, as 

Ven. would make out, but the carrying of Judah captive out of 

his land. This is clear from the second of the figures, for the 

hunter does not gather the animals together, but kills them ; 

and the reference of the verses is put beyond a doubt by vers. 

17 and 18, and is consequently admitted by all other comm. 

The two figures signify various kinds of treatment at the hands 

of enemies. The fishers represent the enemies that gather the 

inhabitants of the land as in a net, and carry them wholesale 

into captivity (cf. Am. iv. 2, Hab. i. 15). The hunters, again, 

are those who drive out from their hiding-places, and slay or 

carry captive such as have escaped from the cities, and have 

taken refuse in the mountains and ravines ; cf. iv. 29, Judg. 

vi. 2, 1 Sam. xiii. 6. In this the idea is visibly set forth that 

none shall escape the enemy. >w c. b pers., send for one, 

cause him to come, as in xiv. 3 (send for water), so that there 

is no call to take b according to the Aram, usage as sign of the 

accusative, for which we can cite in Jeremiah only the case in 

xl. 2. The form DW1 (diet.) agrees with Ezek. xlvii. 10, 

while the Keri, DW, is a formation similar to D*Wt. In the 

second clause D^l is, like the numerals, made to precede the 

noun ; cf. Prov. xxxi. 29, Ps. Ixxxix. 51.— For the Lord knows 

their doings and dealings, and their transgressions are not hid 

from Him ; cf. xxiii. 24, xxxii. 19. ^ for bs, indicating the 

direction. Their ways are not the ways of flight, but their 

course of action.— Ver. 18. The punishment foretold is but 

retribution for their sins. Because they have defiled the land by 

CHAP. XVI. 1G-21. 273 

idolatry, they shall be driven out of it. r$8WO, first, is by Jerome, 
Hitz., E\v., Umbr. made to refer to the salvation promised in 
ver. 15 : first, i.e. before the restoration of my favour spoken 
of in ver. 15, I requite double. Against this Graf has objected, 
that on this view u first" would appear somewhat superfluous ; 
and Nag., that the manifestly intended antithesis to n3B>'o is left 
out of account. There is little force in either objection. Even 
Nag.'s paraphrase does not do full justice to the presumed anti- 
thesis ; for if we render : " For the first time the double shall 
be requited, in the event of repetition a severer standard shall 
be used," then the antithesis to " first" would not be " double," 
but the supplied repetition of the offence. There is not the 
slightest hint in the context to lead us to supply this idea ; nor 
is there any antithesis between " first" and u double." It is a 
mere assumption of the comm., which Rashi, Kimchi, Eos., 
Maur., etc., have brought into the text by the interpolation of 
a 1 cop. before njti'D : I requite the first of their transgressions 
and the repetition of them, i.e. their earlier and their repeated 
sins, or the sins committed by their fathers and by themselves, 
on a greater scale. We therefore hold the reference to ver. 15 
to be the only true one, and regard it as corresponding both to 
the words before us and the context. " The double of their 
iniquity," i.e. ample measure for their sins (cf. Isa. xl. 2, Job 
xi. 6) by way of the horrors of war and the sufferings of the 
exile. The sins are more exactly defined by : because they 
defiled my land by the carcases of their detestables, i.e. their 
dead detestable idols. D^JJB' n?33 is formed according to *t!JB 
Bvw, Lev. xxvi. 30, and it belongs to " they defiled," not to 
" they filled," as the Masoretic accentuation puts it ; for N?o is 
construed, not with 3 of the thing, but with double accus. ; cf. 
Ezek. viii. 17, xxx. 11, etc. So it is construed in the last 
clause : With their abominations they have filled the inheritance 
of Jahveh, i.e. the land of the Lord (cf. ii. 7). The injin. D??n 
is continued by W?B in verbo fin., as usual. 

In vers. 19-21 we have more as to the necessity of the 
threatened punishment. The prophet turns to the Lord as his 
defence and fortress in time of need, and utters the hope that 
even the heathen may some time turn to the Lord and confess 
the vanity of idolatry, since the gods which men make are no 

VOL. i. S 


gods. To this the Lord answers in ver. 21, that just therefore 
He must punish His idolatrous people, so that they shall feel 
His power and learn to know His name. — Ver. 19. In his cry 
to the Lord : My strength ... in the day of trouble, which 
agrees closely with Ps. xxviii. 8, lix. 17, xviii. 3, Jeremiah 
utters not merely his own feelings, but those which should 
animate every member of his people. In the time of need the 
powerlessness of the idols to help, and so their vanity, becomes 
apparent. Trouble therefore drives to God, the Almighty Lord 
and Ruler of the world, and forces to bend under His power. 
The coming tribulation is to have this fruit not only in the case 
of the Israelites, but also in that of the heathen nations, so 
that they shall see the vanity of the idolatry they have inherited 
from their fathers, and be converted to the Lord, the only true 
God. How this knowledge is to be awakened in the heathen, 
Jeremiah does not disclose ; but it may be gathered from ver. 
15, from the deliverance of Israel, there announced, out of the 
heathen lands into which they had been cast forth. By this 
deliverance the heathen will be made aware both of the almighty 
power of the God of Israel and of the nothingness of their own 
gods. On ^?n c f. ii. 5 ; and with " none thatprofiteth," cf. ii. 8, 
xiv. 22. In ver. 20 the prophet confirms what the heathen 
have been saying. The question has a negative force, as is 
clear from the second clause. In ver. 21 we have the Lord's 
answer to the prophet's confession in ver. 19. Since the Jews 
are so blinded that they prefer vain idols to the living God, He 
will this time so show them His hand and His strength in that 
foretold chastisement, that they shall know His name, i.e. 
know that He alone is God in deed and in truth. Cf. Ezek. 
xii. 15, Ex. hi. 14. 

Chap. xvii. 1-4. Judah's sin is ineffaceably stamped upon 
the hearts of the people and on their altars. These four verses 
are closely connected with the preceding, and show why it is 
necessary that Judah be cast forth amidst the heathen, by 
reason of its being perfectly steeped in idolatry. Ver. 1. " The 
sin of Judah is written with an iron pen, with the point of a 
diamond graven on the table of their hearts and on the horns 
of your altars. Ver. 2. As they remember their children, so 
do they their altars and their Astartes by the green tree upon 

CHAP. XVII. 1-4. 275 

the high hills. Ver. 3. My mountain in the field, thy substance, 
all thy treasures give I for a prey, thy high places for sin in all 
thy borders. Ver. 4. And thou shalt discontinue, and that of 
thine own self, from thine inheritance that I gave thee, and I 
cause thee to serve thine enemies in a land which thou knowest 
not ; for a fire have ye kindled in mine anger, for ever it 

The sin of Judah (ver. 1) is not their sinfulness, their prone- 
ness to sin, but their sinful practices, idolatry. This is written 
upon the tables of the hearts of them of Judah, i.e. stamped on 
them (cf. for this figure Prov. iii. 3, vii. 3), and that deep and 
firmly. This is intimated by the writing with an iron pen and 
graving with a diamond. p3>*, from IBS, scratch, used in 
Deut. xxi. 12 for the nail of the finger, here of the point of the 
style or graving-iron, the diamond pencil which gravers use for 
carving in iron, steel, and stone. 1 "^*?B> 5 diamond, not emery as 
Boch. and Ros. supposed ; cf. Ezek. iii. 9, Zech. vii. 12. The 
things last mentioned are so to be distributed that "on the 
table of their heart " shall belong to " written with a pen of 
iron," and " on the horns of their altars " to " with the point of 
a diamond graven." The iron style was used only for writing 
or carving letters in a hard material, Job xix. 24. If with it 
one wrote on tables, it was for the purpose of impressing the 
writing very deeply, so that it could not easily be effaced. The 
having of sin engraved upon the tables of the heart does not 
mean that a sense of unatoned sin could not be sot rid of 
(Graf) ; for with a sense of sin we have here nothing to do, 
but with the deep and firm root sin has taken in the heart. To 
the tables of the heart as the inward seat of sin are opposed 
the horns of their altars (at " altars " the discourse is directly 
addressed to the Jews). By altars are generally understood 
idolatrous altars, partly because of the plural, " since the altar 
of Jahveh was but one," partly because of ver. 2, where the 
altars in question are certainly those of the idols. But the first 
reason proves nothing, since the temple of the Lord itself con- 
tained two altars, on whose horns the blood of the sacrifice was 
sprinkled. The blood of the sin-offering was put not merely 

1 Cf. PUnii Jiist. n. xxxvii. 15 : crustx adamantis expetuntur a sculploribtis 
que includunlur, nullam nun duritiem ex facili cxcavantes. 


on the altar of burnt-offering, but also on the horns of the altar 
of incense, Lev. iv. 7, 18, xvi. IB. Nor is the second reason 
conclusive, since there is no difficulty in taking it to oe the 
altars of Jahveh as defiled by idolatry. This, indeed, we must 
do, since Josiah had destroyed the altars of the false gods, 
whereas here the altars are spoken of as existing monuments 
of idolatry. The question, in how far the sin of Judah is 
ineffaceably engraven upon the horns of her altars, is variously 
answered by coram., and the answer depends on the view taken 
of ver. 2, which is itself disputed. It is certainly wrong to join 
ver. 2 as protasis with ver. 3 as apodosis, for it is incompatible 
with the beginning of ver. 3, "'"nn. Ew. therefore proposes to 
attach "my mountain in the field" to ver. 2, and to change **Vin 
into "Hin : upon the high hills, the mountains in the field — a 
manifest makeshift. Umbr. translates : As their children 
remember their altars .... so will I my mountain in the field, 
thy possession . . . give for a prey ; and makes out the sense to 
be : " in proportion to the strength and ineffaceableness of the 
impressions, such as are to be found in the children of idolatrous 
fathers, must be the severity of the consequent punishment 
from God." But if this were the force, then )3 could not pos- 
sibly be omitted before the apodosis ; apart altogether from the 
suddenness of such a transition from the sins of the people 
(ver. 1) to the sins of the children. — Ver. 2 is plainly meant to 
be a fuller and clearer disclosure of the sins written on the 
tables of Judah's heart, finding therein its point of connection 
with ver. 1. The verse has no verbum finit., and besides it is 
a question whether " their children " is subject or object to 
"remember." The rule, that in calm discourse the subject 
follows the verb, does not decide for us ; for the object very 
frequently follows next, and in the case of the infinitive the 
subject is often not mentioned, but must be supplied from the 
context. Here we may either translate : as their sons remember 
(Chald. and Jerome), or : as they remember their sons. As 
already said, the first translation gives no sense in keeping with 
the context. Rashi, Kimchi, J. D. Mich., Maur., Hitz. follow 
the other rendering: as they remember their children, so do 
they their altars. On this view, the verb. Jin. VI3P is supplied 
from the infin. "I3T, and the two accusatives are placed alongside, 

chap. xvii. 1-4. 277 

as in Isa. lxvi. 3 after the participle, without the particle of 
comparison demanded by the sense ; cf. also Ps. xcii. 8, Job 
xxvii. 14. Nag. calls this construction very harsh ; but it has 
analogues in the passages cited, and gives the very suitable 
sense : Their altars, Astartes, are as dear to them as their children. 
Hitz. takes the force to be this : " Whenever they think of their 
children, they remember, and cannot but remember, the altars 
to whose horns the blood of their sacrificed children adheres. 
And so in the case of a green tree upon the heights ; i.e. when 
they light upon such an one, they cannot help calling to mind 
the Asherahs, which were such trees." But this interpretation 
is clearly wrong ; for it takes the second clause YV. **¥ as object 
to "or, which is grammatically quite indefensible, and which is 
besides incompatible with the order of the words. Besides, the 
idea that they remember the altars because the blood of their 
children stuck to the horns of them, is put into the words ; and 
the putting of it in is made possible only by Hitz.'s arbitrarily 
separating "their Astartes" from "their altars," and from the 
specification of place in the next clause : " by the green tree." 
The words mean : As they remember their children, so do they 
their altars and Asherahs by every green tree. The co-ordina- 
tion of Asherahs and altars makes it clear that it is not sacrifices 
to Moloch that are meant by altars ; for the Asherahs have no 
connection with the worship of Moloch. NaVs assertions, that 
D'Tr *>' is the name for male images of Baal, and that there can 
be no doubt of their connection with child-slaue-hterincr Moloch- 
worship, are unfounded and erroneous. The word means 
images of Asherah ; see on 1 Kings xiv. 23 and Deut. xvi. 21. 
Graf says that 'i ftpj> does not belong to " altars and Asherahs," 
because in that case it would need to be '"l ) l V nnn ? as in ii. 20, 
iii. 6, 13, Isa. lvii. 5, Deut. xii. 2, 2 Kings xvi. 4, xvii. 10, but 
that it depends on ibr. This remark is not correctly expressed, 
and Graf himself gives ?V a local force, thus : by every green 
tree and on every high hill they think of the altars and 
Asherahs. This local relation cannot be spoken of as a 
" dependence " upon the verb; nor does it necessarily exclude 
the connection with " altars and Asherahs," since we can quite 
well think of the altars and Asherahs as being by or beside 
every green tree and on the hills. At the same time, we hold 


it better to connect the local reference with the verb, because 
it gives the stronger sense, — namely, that the Jews not merely 
think of the altars and Asherahs which are by every green 
tree and upon the high hills, but that by every green tree and 
on the high hills they think of their altars and Asherahs, even 
when there are no such things to be seen there. Thus we can 
now answer the question before thrown out, in what respects 
the sin was ineffaceably engraven on the horns of the altar : It 
was because the altars and images of the false gods had entwined 
themselves as closely about their hearts as their children, so that 
they brought the sin of their idolatry along with their sacrifices 
to the altars of Jahveh. The offerings which they bring, in 
this state of mind, to the Lord are defiled by idolatry and carry 
their sins to the altar, so that, in the blood which is sprinkled 
on its horns, the sins of the offerers are poured out on the 
altar. Hence it appears unmistakeably that ver. 1 does not 
deal with the consciousness of sin as not yet cancelled or for- 
given, but with the sin of idolatry, which, ineradicably implanted 
in the hearts of the people and indelibly recorded before God 
on the horns of the altar, calls down God's wrath in punishment 
as announced in vers. 3 and 4. 

" My mountain in the field " is taken by most comm. as a 
name for Jerusalem or Zion. But it is a question whether 
the words are vocative, or whether they are accusative ; and so 
with the rest of the objects, "thy substance," etc., dependent 
on )fiN. If we take them to be vocative, so that Jerusalem is 
addressed, then we must hold " thy substance " and " thy 
treasures" to be the goods and gear of Jerusalem, while the 
city will be regarded as representative of the kingdom, or rather 
of the population of Judah. But the second clause, " thy high 
places in all thy borders," does not seem to be quite in keeping 
with this, and still less ver. 4: thou shalt discontinue from 
thine inheritance, which is clearly spoken of the people of 
Judah. Furthermore, if Jerusalem were the party addressed, 
we should expect feminine suffixes, since Jerusalem is everywhere 
else personified as a woman, as the daughter of Zion. We there- 
fore hold " my mountain " to be accusative, and, under " the 
mountain of Jahveh in the field," understand, not the city of 
Jerusalem, but Mount Zion as the site of the temple, the 

cnAP. xvn. 1-4. 279 

mountain of the house of Jahveh, Isa. ii. 3, Zech. viii. 3, Ps. 
xxiv. 3. The addition iTTfeE} may not be translated : with the 
field (Ges., de W., Nag.) ; for 2 denotes the means or instru- 
ment, or an accessory accompanying the principal thing or 
action and subservient to it (Ew. § 217, f. 3), but not the mere 
external surroundings or belongings. Nag.'s assertion, that 3, 
amidst = together with, is due to an extreme position in an 
empirical mode of treating language. "Tlfca means "in the 
field," and " mountain in the field " is like the u rock of the 
plain," xxi. 13. But whether it denotes "the clear outstanding 
loftiness of the mountain, so that for it we might say : My 
mountain commanding a wide prospect" (Umbr., Graf), is a 
question. rnt?, field, denotes not the fruitful fields lying round 
Mount Zion, but, like " field of the Amalekites," Gen. xiv. 7, 
" field of Edom " (Gen. xxxii. 4), the land or country ; see on 
Ezek. xxi. 2 ; and so here : my mountain in the land (of Judah 
or Israel). The land is spoken of as a field, as a level or plain 
(xxi. 13), in reference to the spiritual height of the temple 
mountain or mountain of God above the whole land ; not in 
reference to the physical pre-eminence of Zion, which cannot be 
meant, since Zion is considerably exceeded in height by the 
Mount of Olives on the east, and by the southern heights of the 
highlands of Judah. By its choice to be the site of the Lord's 
throne amid His people, Mount Zion was exalted above the 
whole land as is a mountain in the field ; and it is hereafter to 
be exalted above all mountains (Isa. ii. 2 ; Mic. iv. 1), while the 
whole land is to be lowered to the level of a plain (Zech. xiv. 
10). The following objects are ranged alongside as asyndetons : 
the Mount Zion as His peculiar possession and the substance 
of the people, all their treasures will the Lord give for a prey 
to the enemy. "Thy high places" is also introduced, with 
rhetorical effect, without copula. "Thy high places," i.e. the 
heights on which Judah had practised idolatry, will He give 
up, for their sins' sake, throughout the whole land. The whole 
clause, from "thy high places" to "thy borders," is an apposi- 
tion to the first half of the verse, setting forth the reason why 
the whole land, the mountain of the Lord, and all the substance 
of the people, are to be delivered to the enemy; because, viz., 
the whole land has been defiled by idolatry. Hitz. wrongly 


translates nxtans for sin, i.e. for a sin-offering. — Ver. 4. And 
thou shalt discontinue from thine inheritance. There is in 
nntpo^ an allusion to the law in Ex. xxiii. 11, to let the ground 
lie untilled in the seventh year, and in Deut. xv. 2, to let loans 
go, not to exact from one's neighbour what has been lent to him. 
Because Judah has transgressed this law, the Lord will compel 
the people to let go their hold of their inheritance, i.e. He will 
cast them out of it. ^ seems strange, interposed between the 
verb and the " from thine inheritance " dependent on it. The 
later Greek translators (for the entire passage vers. 1-4 is want- 
ing in the LXX.) render it /xovr], and Jerome sola. Ew. 
therefore conjectures TI2?, but without due reason, since the 
translation is only a free rendering of : and that by thyself. J. 
D. Mich., Gr., and Nag. propose to read 11J, on the ground of 
the connection wrongly made between BDK> and ST, to let go his 
hand, Deut. xv. 2, given in Ges. Lex. s.v. For IT in this case is 
not object to tt»C>, but belongs to n$»; hand-lending ; and in 
Deut. xv. 3 IT is subject to &£$!?', the hand shall quit hold. 
*jil sig. and that by thee, i.e. by thine own fault ; cf. Ezek. xxii. 
16. Meaning: by thine own fault thou must needs leave 
behind thee thine inheritance, thy land, and serve thine enemies 
in a foreign land. On the last clause, "for a fire," etc., cf. xv. 
14, where is also discussed the relation of the present vers. 3 
and 4 to xv. 13, 14. For ever burns the fire, i.e. until the sin 
is blotted out by the punishment, and for ever inasmuch as the 
wicked are to be punished for ever. 

Vers. 5-27. Further confirmation of this announce- 
OF RUIN and of well-being. — This portion falls into two 
halves : a. On the sources of ruin and of well-being (vers. 5-18) ; 
b. On the way to life (vers. 18-27). The reflections of the first 
half show the curse of confidence in man and the blessings of 
confidence in God the Lord, vers. 5-13 ; to which is joined, 
vers. 14-18, a prayer of the prophet for deliverance from his 

Ver. 5. " Thus saith Jahveh : Cursed is the man that trusteth 
in man and maketh flesh his arm, while his heart departeth from 
Jahveh. Ver. 6. He shall be as a destitute man in the wilderness, 

CHAP. XVII. 5-13. 2S1 

and shall not see that good cometh ; he shall inhabit parched 
places in the desert, a salt land and uninhabited. Ver. 7. 
Blessed is the man that trusteth in Jahveh, and whose trust 
Jahveh is. Ver. 8. He shall be as a tree planted by the water, 
and shall by the river spread out his roots, and shall not fear 
when heat cometh ; his leaves shall be green, and in the year 
of drought he shall not have care, neither cease from yielding 
fruit. Ver. 9. Deceitful is the heart above all, and corrupt it 
is, who can know it? Ver. 10. I Jahveh search the heart 
and try the reins, even to give every one according to his way, 
according to the fruit of his doings. Ver. 11. The partridge 
hatcheth the egg which it laid not ; there is that getteth riches 
and not by right. In the midst of his days they forsake him, 
and at his end he shall be a fool. Ver. 12. Thou throne of 
glory, loftiness from the beginning, thou place of our sanc- 
tuary. Ver. 13. Thou hope of Israel, Jahveh, all that forsake 
Thee come to shame. They that depart from me shall be 
written in the earth, for they have forsaken the fountain of 
living water, Jahveh." 

Trust in man and departure from God brings only mischief 
(vers. 5 and 6) ; trust in the Lord brings blessing only (vers. 
7, 8). These truths are substantiated in vers. 9-13, and eluci- 
dated by illustrations. — Ver. 5. Trust in man is described 
according to the nature of it in the second clause : he that 
maketh flesh his arm, i.e. his strength. Flesh, the antithesis to 
spirit (cf. Isa. xxxi. 3), sets forth the vanity and perishableness 
of man and of all other earthly beings ; cf . besides Isa. xxxi. 3, 
also Job x. 4, Ps. lvi. 5. In ver. 6 we are shown the curse of 
this trusting in man. One who so does is as "Uny in the steppe. 
This word, which is found beside only in Ps. cii. 18, and in the 
form " i yi" | J! Jer. xlviii. 6, is rendered by the old translators by 
means of words which mean desert plants or thorny growths 
(LXX. aypiofivplfcr) ; Jerome, my rice; similarly in Chald. and 
Syr.) ; so Ew., arid shrub ; Umbr., a bare tree. All these 
renderings are merely guesses from the context ; and the latter, 
indeed, tells rather against than for a bush or tree, since the 
following clause, " he shall not see," can be said only of a man. 
So in Ps. cii. 18, where we hear of the prayer of the 1JHV. The 
word is from *ny, to be naked, made bare, and denotes tho 


destitute man, who lacks all the means of subsistence. It is not 
the homeless or outcast (Graf, Hitz.). He shall not see, i.e. 
experience that good comes, i.e. he shall have no prosperity, 
but shall inhabit " burnt places," tracts in the desert parched 
by the sun's heat. Salt-land, i.e. quite unfruitful land ; cf. 
Deut. xxix. 22. 3B>n fc6 is a relative clause : and which is not 
inhabited = uninhabitable. Dwelling in parched tracts and 
salt regions is a figure for the total want of the means of life 
(equivalent to the German : auf keinen grilnen Zioeig kommen). 
— Vers. 7 and 8 show the companion picture, the blessings 
of trusting in the Lord. " That trusteth in Jahveh " is 
strengthened by the synonymous " whose trust Jahveh is ; " 
cf. Ps. xl. 5. The portrayal of the prosperity of him that 
trusts in the Lord is an extension of the picture in Ps. i. 3, 4, 
of the man that hath his delight in the law of the Lord. The 
form ;W is air. \e<y., equivalent to ?3£, water-brook, which, 
moreover, occurs only in the plural (vl 1 ;), Isa. xxx. 25, xliv. 4. 
He spreads forth his roots by the brook, to gain more and more 
strength for growth. The Chct. NT 1 is imperf. from lOJj and 
is to be read *T£. The Keri gives HiO 1 ; from nfcn, correspond- 
ing to the nsn"; in ver. 6. The diet, is unqualifiedly right, and 
N"V i& corresponds to 3tfV K7, As to rn>*2, see on xiv. 1. He 
has no fear for the heat in the year of drought, because the 
brook by which he grows does not dry up. 

To bring this truth home to the people, the prophet in 
ver. 9 discloses the nature of the human heart, and then shows 
in ver. 10 how God, as the Searcher of hearts, requites man 
according to his conduct. Trust in man has its seat in the 
heart, which seeks thereby to secure to itself success and 
prosperity. But the heart of man is more deceitful, cunning 
than all else (3pV, from the denom. 2j?y, to deal treacherously). 
B*UK, lit. dangerously sick, incurable, cf. xv. 18 ; here, sore 
wounded by sin, corrupt or depraved. Who can know it ? i.e. 
fathom its nature and corruptness. Therefore a man must not 
trust the suggestions and illusions of his own heart. — Ver. 10. 
Onlv God searches the heart and tries the reins, the seat of 
the most hidden emotions and feelings, cf. xi. 20, xii. 3, and 
deals accordingly, requiting each according to his life and his 
doings. The 1 before T\rb, which is wanting in many MSS. and 

CHAP. XVII. 5-13. 2S3 

is not expressed by the old translators, is not to be objected 
to. It serves to separate the aim in view from the rest, and to 
give it the prominence due to an independent thought; cf. E\v. 
§ 340, b. As to the truth itself, cf. xxxii. 19. With this is joined 
the common saying as to the partridge, ver. 11. The aim is not 
to specify greed as another root of the corruption of the heart, 
or to give another case of false confidence in the earthly (Nag., 
Graf) ; but to corroborate by a common saying, whose truth 
should be obvious to the people, the greater truth, that God, 
as Searcher of hearts, requites each according to his works. 
The proverb ran : He that gains riches, and that by wrong, 
i.e. in an unjust, dishonourable manner, is like a partridge 
which hatches eggs it has not laid. In the Proverbs we often 
find comparisons, as here, without the 3 similit. : a gainer of 
riches is a partridge ; cf. Prov. xxv. 14, xxvi. 28, xxviii. 15. 
K?,"p, the crier, denotes here and 1 Sam. xxvi. 20 the par- 
tridge (RephnJm, properly Rophnhn from rupen = rufen, to call 
or cry) ; a bird yet found in plenty in the tribe of Judah ; 
cf. Robinson, Palestine. All other interpretations are arbi- 
trary. It is true that natural history has not proved the fact 
of this peculiarity of the partridge, on which the proverb was 
founded ; testimonies as to this habit of the creature are found 
only in certain Church fathers, and these were probably de- 
duced from this passage (cf. Winer, bibl. E. IF., art. Rebhuhri). 
But the proverb assumes only the fact that such was the wide- 
spread popular belief amongst the Israelites, without saying 
anything as to the correctness of it. u Hatcheth and layeth 
not " are to be taken relatively. "UH, the Targum word in Job 
xxxix. 14 for DQn ? fovere, sig. hatch, lit. to hold eggs close 
together, cover eggs ; see on Isa. xxxiv. 15. *v), to bring forth, 
here of laying eggs. As to the Kametz in both words, see Ew. 
§ 100, c. The point of the comparison, that the young hatched 
out of another bird's eggs forsake the mother, is brought out in 
the application of the proverb. Hence is to be explained " for- 
sake him : " the riches forsake him, instead of : are lost to him, 
vanish, in the half of his days, i.e. in the midst of life ; and at 
the end of his life he shall be a fool, i.e. the folly of his con- 
duct shall fully appear. 

In vers. 12 and 13 Jeremiah concludes this meditation with 


an address to the Lord, which the Lord corroborates by His own 
•word. — Ver. 12 is taken by many ancient comm. as a simple 
statement: a throne of glory, loftiness from the beginning, is 
the place of our sanctuary. This is grammatically defensible; 
but the view preferred by almost all moderns, that it is an 
apostrophe, is more in keeping with the tension of feeling in 
the discourse. The " place of our sanctuary" is the temple as 
the spot where God sits throned amidst His people, not the 
heaven as God's throne : Isa. lxvi. 1. This the pronoun our 
does not befit, since heaven is never spoken of as the sanctuary 
of Israel. Hence we must refer both the preceding phrases to 
the earthly throne of God in the temple on Zion. The temple 
is in xiv. 21 called throne of the iWl* 1123, because in it Jahveh 
is enthroned above the ark; Ex. xxv. 22 ; Ps. Ixxx. 2, xcix. 1. 
Jitfsnb has here the sig. of PK"i», Isa. xl. 21, xli. 4, 26, xlviii. 
16 : from the beginning onwards, from all time. Heaven as the 
proper throne of God is often called Criis, loftiness; cf. Isa. 
lvii. 15, Ps. vii. 8 ; but so also is Mount Zion as God's earthly 
dwelling-place ; cf. Ezek. xvii. 23, xx. 40. Zion is called lofti- 
ness from the beginning, i.e. from immemorial time, as having 
been from eternity chosen to be the abode of God's glory upon 
earth ; cf. Ex. xv. 17, where in the song of Moses by the Red 
Sea, Mount Zion is pointed out prophetically as the place of the 
abode of Jahveh, inasmuch as it had been set apart thereto by 
the sacrifice of Isaac ; see the expos, of Ex. xv. 17. Nor 
does VhfoO always mean the beginning of the world, but in Isa. 
xli. 26 and xlviii. 16 it is used of the beginning of the things 
then under discussion. From the place of Jahveh's throne 
amongst His people, ver. 13, the discourse passes to Him who 
is there enthroned : Thou hope of Israel, Jahveh (cf. xiv. 8), 
through whom Zion and the temple had attained to that 
eminence. The praise of God's throne prepares only the 
transition to praise of the Lord, who there makes known His 
glory. The address to Jahveh : Thou hope of Israel, is not a 
prayer directed to Him, so as to justify the objection against 
the vocative acceptation of ver. 12, that it were unseemly to 
address words of prayer to the temple. The juxtaposition of the 
sanctuary as the throne of God and of Jahveh, the hope of 
Israel, involves only that the forsaking of the sanctuary on 

CHAP. XVII. 14-13. 285 

Zion is a forsaking of Jahveh, the hope of Israel. It needs 
hardly be observed that this adverting to the temple as the 
seat of Jahveh's throne, whence help may come, is not in 
contradiction to the warning given in vii. 4, 9 f. against 
false confidence in the temple as a power present to protect. 
That warnincr is aimed against the idolaters, who believed that 
God's presence was so bound up with the temple, that the latter 
was beyond the risk of harm. The Lord is really present in 
the temple on Zion only to those who draw near Him in the 
confidence of true faith. All who forsake the Lord come to 
shame. This word the Lord confirms through the mouth of 
the prophet in the second part of the verse. '''^D'!, according 
to the Chet., is a substantive from "WD, formed like ^T from y~\ 
(cf. Ew. § 162, a) ; the Keri "HIDI. is partic. from llD with 
) cop. — an uncalled-for conjecture. My departers = those that 
depart from me, shall be written in the earth, in the loose earth, 
where writing speedily disappears. p?> synonymous with 
"W, cf. Job xiv. 8, suggesting death. The antithesis to this 
is not the graving in rock, Job xix. 24, but being written in the 
book of life ; cf. Dan. xii. 1 with Ex. xxxii. 32. In this direc- 
tion the grounding clause points : they have forsaken the 
fountain of living water (ii. 13) ; for without water one must 
pine and perish. — On this follows directly, 

Vers. 14-18. Tlic prophets prayer for rescue from Ids enemies. 
— Ver. 14. " Heal me, Jahveh, that I may be healed ; help me, 
that I may be holpen, for Thou art my praise. Ver. 15. Behold, 
they say to me, Where is the word of Jahveh ! let it come, now. 
Ver. 16. I have not withdrawn myself from being a shepherd 
after Thee, neither wished for the day of trouble, Thou knowest; 
that which went forth of my lips was open before Thy face. 
Ver. 17. Be not to me a confusion, my refuge art Thou in the 
day of evil. Ver. 18. Let my persecutors be put to shame, 
but let not me be put to shame ; let them be confounded, but 
let not me be confounded ; bring upon them the day of evil, 
and break them with a double breach." 

The experience Jeremiah had had in his calling seemed to 
contradict the truth, that trust in the Lord brings blessing 
(ver. 7 ff.) ; for his preaching of God's word had brought him 
nothing but persecution and suffering. Therefore he prays the 


Lord to remove this contradiction and to verify that truth in 
his case also. The prayer of ver. 14, " heal me," reminds one 
of Ps. vi. 3, xxx. 3. Thou art *n^Wl, the object of my praises ; 
cf. Ps. lxxi. G, Deut. x. 21. — The occasion for this prayer is 
furnished by the attacks of his enemies, who ask in scorn what 
then has become of that which he proclaims as the word of the 
Lord, why it does not come to pass. Hence we see that the 
discourse, of which this complaint is the conclusion, was de- 
livered before the first invasion of Judah by the Chaldeans. 
So long as his announcements were not fulfilled, the unbelieving 
were free to persecute him as a false prophet (cf. Deut. xviii. 
22), and to give out that his prophecies were inspired by his 
own spite against his people. He explains, on the contrary, 
that in his calling he has neither acted of his own accord, nor 
wished for misfortune to the people, but that he has spoken by 
the inspiration of God alone. 'Ml WR N? cannot mean : I have 
not pressed myself forward to follow Thee as shepherd, i.e. 
pressed myself forward into Thy service in vain and over- 
weening self-conceit (Umbr.). For although this sense would 
fall very well in with the train of thought, yet it cannot be 
grammatically justified. pK, press, press oneself on to any- 
thing, is construed with ?, cf. Josh. x. 13 ; with \0 it can 
only mean : press oneself away from a thing. njn» may stand 
for njn wn», cf. xlviii. 2, 1 Sam. xv. 23, 1 Kings xv. 13 : 
from being a shepherd after Thee, i.e. I have not withdrawn 
myself from following after Thee as a shepherd. Against this 
rendering the fact seems to weigh, that usually it is not the 
prophets, but only the kings and princes, that are entitled the 
shepherds of the people ; cf. xxiii. 1. For this reason, it would 
appear, Hitz. and Graf have taken nyn in the sig. to seek after 
a person or thing, and have translated : I have not pressed 
myself away from keeping after Thee, or from being one that 
followed Thee faithfully. For this appeal is made to places 
like Prov. xiii. 20, xxviii. 7, Ps. xxxvii. 3, where njn does mean 
to seek after a thing, to take pleasure in it. But in this sig. 
njn is always construed with the accus. of the thing or person, 
not with nnN, as here. Nor does it by any means follow, from 
the fact of shepherds meaning usually kings or rulers, that 
the idea of "shepherd" is exhausted in ruling and governing 

CHAP. XVII. 14-18. 287 

people. According to Ps. xxiii. 1, Jaliveh is the shepherd of 
the godly, who feeds them in green pastures and leads them to 
the refreshing water, who revives their soul, etc. In this sense 
prophets, too, feed the people, if they, following the Lord as 
chief shepherd, declare God's word to the people. We cannot 
in any case abide by Niig.'s rendering, who, taking FQH in its 
literal sense, puts the meaning thus : I have not pressed myself 
away from being a shepherd, in order to go after Thee. For 
the assumption that Jeremiah had, before his call, been, like 
Amos, a herd of cattle, contradicts ch. i. 1 ; nor from the fact, 
that the cities of the priests and of the Levites were provided 
with grazing fields (D^Enao), does it at all follow that the priests 
themselves tended their flocks. " The day of trouble," the ill, 
disastrous day, is made out by Nag. to be the day of his entering 
upon the office of prophet — a view that needs no refutation. 
It is the day of destruction for Jerusalem and Judah, which 
Jeremiah had foretold. When Nag. says : " He need not have 
gone out of his way to affirm that he did not desire the day of 
disaster for the whole people," he has neglected to notice that 
Jeremiah is here defending himself against the charges of his 
enemies, who inferred from his prophecies of evil that he found 
a pleasure in his people's calamity, and wished for it to come. 
For the truth of his defence, Jeremiah appeals to the omni- 
science of God : " Thou knowest it." That which goes from 
my lips, i.e. the word that came from my lips, was T?3 n ?' 3 , 
before or over against Thy face, i.e. manifest to Thee. — Ver. 17. 
On this he founds his entreaty that the Lord will not bring 
him to confusion and shame by leaving his prophecies as to 
Judah unfulfilled, and gives his encouragement to pray in the 
clause : Thou art my refuge in the day of evil, in evil times ; 
cf. xv. 11. May God rather put his persecutors to shame and 
confusion by the accomplishment of the calamity foretold, ver. 
18. nvin pointed with Tsere instead of the abbreviation *nn, 
cf. Ew. § 224, c. K^n is imperat. instead of N2H, as in 1 Sam. 
xx. 40, where the Masoretes have thus pointed even the fcOan. 
But in the Hiph. the i has in many cases maintained itself 
against the e, so that we are neither justified in regarding the 
form before us as scriptio p>lena, nor yet in reading ■'WZin. — Break 
them with a double breach, i.e. let the disaster fall on them 


doubly. " A double breach," pr. something doubled in the 
way of breaking or demolition, fn^p is not subordinated to 
TlXtto in stat. constr., but is added as accns. of kind ; cf. E\v. 
§287, h. 

Vers. 19-27. Of the hallowing of the Sabbath. — Ver. 19. 
" Thus said Jahveh unto me : Go and stand in the gate of the 
sons of the people, by which the kings of Judah come in and 
by which they go out, and in all gates of Jerusalem, Ver. 20. 
And say unto them : Hear the word of Jahveh, ye kings of 
Judah, and all Judah, and all inhabitants of Jerusalem, that 
o-o in by these gates : Ver. 21. Thus hath Jahveh said : Take 
heed for your souls, and bear no burden on the Sabbath-day, 
and bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. Ver. 22. And carry 
forth no burden out of your houses on the Sabbath-day, and 
do no work, and hallow the Sabbath-day, as I commanded your 
fathers. Ver. 23. But they hearkened not, neither inclined 
their ear, and made their neck stiff, that they might not hear 
nor take instruction. Ver. 24. But if ye will really hearken 
unto me, saith Jahveh, to bring in no burden by the gates of 
the city on the Sabbath-day, and to hallow the Sabbath-day, to 
do no work thereon, Ver. 25. Then shall there go through the 
gates of the city kings and princes, who sit on the throne of 
David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, 
the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and this 
city shall be inhabited for ever. Ver. 26. And they shall come 
from the cities of Judah and the outskirts of Jerusalem, from 
the land of Benjamin and from the lowland, from the hill- 
country and from the south, that bring burnt-offering and slain- 
offering, meat-offering and incense, and that bring praise into 
the house of Jahveh. Ver. 27. But if ye hearken not to me, 
to hallow the Sabbath-day, and not to bear a burden, and to 
come into the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath-day, then will 
I kindle fire in her gates, so that it shall devour the palaces of 
Jerusalem, and not be quenched." 

The introduction, ver. 19, shows that this passage has, in 
point of form, but a loose connection with what precedes. It 
is, however, not a distinct and independent prophecy ; for it 
wants the heading, " The word of Jahveh which came," etc., 
proper to all the greater discourses. Besides, in point of 

CHAP. XVII. 19-27. 289 

subject-matter, it may very well be joined with the preceding 
general reflections as to the springs of mischief and of well- 
being ; inasmuch as it shows how the way of safety appointed 
to the people lies in keeping the decalogue, as exemplified in 
one of its fundamental precepts. — The whole passage contains 
only God's command to the prophet ; but the execution of it, 
i.e. the proclamation to the people of what was commanded, is 
involved in the nature of the case. Jeremiah is to proclaim 
this word of the Lord in all the gates of Jerusalem, that it 
may be obeyed in them all. The locality of the gate of the 
sons of the people is obscure and difficult to determine, that by 
which the kings of Judah go and come. DV *j).? seems to stand 
for DJ?n '33, as the Keri would have it. In xxvi. 23 and 2 Kings 
xxiii. 6, " sons of the people " means the common people as 
opposed to the rich and the notables ; in 2 Chron. xxxv. 5, 7 ff., 
the people as opposed to the priests and Levites, that is, the 
laity. The first sig. of the phrase seems here to be excluded 
by the fact, that the kings come and go by this gate ; for there 
is not the smallest probability that a gate so used could have 
borne the name of " gate of the common people." But we 
might well pause to weigh the second sig. of the word, if we 
could but assume that it was a gate of the temple that was 
meant. Nag. concludes that it was so, on the ground that we 
know of no city gate through which only the kings and the 
dregs of the people were free to go, or the kings and the mass 
of their subjects, to the exclusion of the priests. But this does 
not prove his point ; for we are not informed as to the temple, 
that the kings and the laity were permitted to go and come by 
one gate only, while the others were reserved for priests and 
Levites. Still it is much more likely that the principal entrance 
to the outer court of the temple should have obtained the name 
of " people's gate," or " laymen's gate," than that a city gate 
should have been so called ; and that by that " people's gate" 
the kings also entered into the court of the temple, while the 
priests and Levites came and went by side gates which were 
more at hand for the court of the priests. Certainly Niig. is 
right when he further remarks, that the name was not one in 
general use, but must have been used by the priests only. On 
the other hand, there is nothing to support clearly the surmise 
vol. i. I 


that the gate lift 1 !, 2 Chron. xxiil. 5, was so called ; the east 
gate of the outer court is much more likely. We need not be 
surprised at the mention of this chief gate of the temple along 
with the city gates ; for certainly there would be always a great 
multitude of people to be found at this gate, even if what Nag. 
assumes were not the case, that by the sale and purchase of 
things used in the temple, this gate was the scene of a Sabbath- 
breaking trade. But if, with the majority of comm., we are 
to hold that by " people's gate " a city gate was meant, then 
we cannot determine which it was. Of the suppositions that it 
was the Benjamin-gate, or the well-gate, Neh. ii. 14 (Maur.), 
or the gate of the midst which led through the northern wall 
of Zion from the upper city into the lower city (Hitz.), or the 
water-gate, Neh. iii. 26 (Graf), each is as unfounded as another. 
From the plural : the kings of Judah (ver. 20), Hitz. infers 
that more kings than one were then existing alongside one 
another, and that thus the name must denote the members of 
the royal family. But his idea has been arbitrarily forced into 
the text. The gates of the city, as well as of the temple, did 
not last over the reign of but one king, ver. 21. niB>B3| ")»$n, 
to take heed for the souls, i.e. take care of the souls, so as not 
to lose life (cf. Mai. ii. 15), is a more pregnant construction 
than that with ^, Deut. iv. 15, although it yields the same 
sense. Nag. seeks erroneously to explain the phrase according 
to 2 Sam. xx. 10 (2?nn IQVh, take care against the sword) and- 
Deut. xxiv. 8, where "H?# n ought not to be joined at all with 
3W33. The bearing of burdens on the Sabbath, both into the 
city and out of one's house, seems to point most directly at 
market trade and business, cf. Neh. xiii. 15 ff., but is used only 
as one instance of the citizens' occupations ; hence are appended 
the very words of the law : to do no work, Ex. xii. 16, xx. 10, 
Deut. v. 14, and : to hallow the Sabbath, namely, by cessation 
from all labour, cf. ver. 24. The remark in ver. 23, that the 
fathers have already transgressed God's law, is neither contrary 
to the aim in view, as Hitz. fancies, nor superfluous, but serves 
to characterize the transgression censured as an old and deeply- 
rooted sin, which God must at length punish unless the people 
cease therefrom. The description of the fathers' disobedience 
is a verbal repetition of vii. 26. The diet. y»1B> cannot be a 

CHAP. XVII. 19-27. 291 

participle, but is a clerical error for Vfop (infin. constr. with 
scriptio ple7ia), as in xi. 10 and xix. 15. See a similar error in 
ii. 25 and viii. 6. On " nor take instruction," cf. ii. 30. — In 
the next verses the observance of this commandment is enforced 
by a representation of the blessings which the hallowing of the 
Sabbath will bring to the people (vers. 24-26), and the curse 
upon its profanation (ver. 27). If they keep the Sabbath holy, 
the glory of the dynasty of David and the prosperity of the 
people will acquire permanence, and Jerusalem remain con- 
tinually inhabited, and the people at large will bring thank- 
offerings to the Lord in His temple. Hitz., Graf, and Nag. 
take objection to the collocation : kings and princes (ver. 25), 
because princes do not sit on the throne of David, nor can they 
have other " princes" dependent on them, as we must assume 
from the " they and their princes." But although the Q,, T^"! be 
awanting in the parallel, xxii. 4, yet this passage cannot be re- 
garded as the standard ; for whereas the discourse in chap. xxii. 
is addressed to the king, the present is to the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem, or rather the people of Judah. The D" 1 "]^! is sub- 
ordinate to the kings, so that the sitting on the throne of David 
is to be referred only to the kings, the following EHT^"! helping 
further to define them. " Riding" is to be joined both with 
" in chariots" and " on horses," since 33") means either driving 
or riding. The driving and riding of the kings and their princes 
through the gates of Jerusalem is a sign of the undiminished 
splendour of the rule of David's race. — Ver. 26. Besides the 
blessing of the continuance of the Davidic monarchy, Jeru- 
salem will also have to rejoice in the continued spiritual privi- 
lege of public worship in the house of the Lord. From the 
ends of the kingdom the people will come with offerings to the 
temple, to present thank-offerings for benefits received. The 
rhetorical enumeration of the various parts of the country 
appears again in xxxii. 44. The cities of Judah and the out- 
skirts of Jerusalem denote the part of the country which 
bordered on Jerusalem ; then we have the land of Benjamin, 
the northern province of the kingdom, and three districts into 
which the tribal domain of Judah was divided : the Shephelah 
in the west on the Mediterranean Sea, the hill-country, and the 
southland; see on Josh. xv. 21, 33, and 48. The desert of 


Judah (Josh. xv. 61) is not mentioned, as being comprehended 
under the hill-country. The offerings are divided into two 
classes : bloody, burnt and slain offerings, and unbloody, meat- 
offerings and frankincense, which was strewed upon the meat- 
offering (Lev. ii. 1). The latter is not the incense-offering 
(Graf)° which is not called np), but rnfcp, cf . Ex. xxx. 7 ff ., 
although frankincense was one of the ingredients of the incense 
prepared for burning (Ex. xxx. 34). These offerings they will 
bring as " praise-offering " into the house of the Lord, nnin 
is not here used for rnin rnr, praise-offering, as one species of 
slain-offering, but is, as we see from xxxiii. 11, a general desig- 
nation for the praise and thanks which they desire to express 
by means of the offerings specified.— Ver. 27. In the event of 
the continuance of this desecration of the Sabbath, Jerusalem 
is to be burnt up with fire, cf. xxi. 14, and, as regards the 
expressions used, Amos i. 14, Hos. viii. 14. 


These three chapters have the title common to all Jeremiah's 
discourses of the earlier period : The word which came to Jere- 
miah from Jahveh (xviii. 1). In them, bodied forth in two 
symbolical actions, are two discourses which are very closely 
related to one another in form and substance, and which may 
be regarded as one single prophecy set forth in words and 
actions. In them we find discussed Judah's ripeness for the 
judgment, the destruction of the kingdom, and the speediness 
with which that judgment was to befall. The subject-matter 
of this discourse-compilation falls into two parts : chap, xviii. 
and chap. xix. and xx. ; that is, into the accounts of two sym- 
bolical actions, together with the interpretation of them and 
their application to the people (chap, xviii. 1-17 and chap. xix. 
1-13), followed immediately by notices as to the reception 
which these announcements met on the part of the people and 
their rulers (chap, xviii. 18-23, and chap. xix. 14-xx. 18). In 
the first discourse, that illustrated by the figure of a potter who 
remodels a misshapen vessel, chap, xviii., the prophet inculcates 
on the people the truth that the Lord has power to do according 

chap, xviii. 293 

to His good-will, seeking in this to make another appeal to them 
to turn from their evil ways ; and the people replies to this 
appeal by scheming against the life of the austere preacher of 
repentance. As the consequence of this obdurate impenitency, 
he, in chap, xix., by breaking an earthen pitcher bought of the 
potter, predicts to the elders of the people and the priests, in the 
valley of Benhinnom, the breaking up of the kingdom and the 
demolition of Jerusalem (vers. 1-13). For this he is put in the 
stocks by Pashur, the warden of the temple ; and when freed 
from this imprisonment, he tells him that he and all Judah shall 
be carried off to Babylon and be put to death by the sword 
(xix. 14-xx. 6). As a conclusion we have, as in chap, xviii., 
complaint at the sufferings that attend his calling (xx. 7-18). 

As to the time of these two symbolical actions and announce- 
ments, we can determine only thus much with certainty, that 
they both belong to the period before the fourth year of the 
reign of Jehoiakim, and that they were not far separated in 
time from one another. The first assumes still the possibility 
of the people's repentance, whence we may safely conclude that 
the first chastisement at the hands of the Chaldeans was not yet 
ready to be inflicted ; in the second, that judgment is threatened 
as inevitably on the approach, while still there is nothing here 
either to show that the catastrophe was immediately at hand. 
Nag. tries to make out that chap, xviii. falls before the critical 
epoch of the battle at Carchemish, chap. xix. and xx. after it ; 
but his arguments are worthless. For there is no ground what- 
ever for the assertion that Jeremiah did not, until after that 
decisive battle, give warning of the deliverance of all Judah 
into the hand of the king of Babylon, and that not till the 
prophecies after that time do we find the phrase : Jeremiah the 
prophet, as in xx. 2. The contents of the three chapters do not 
even point us assuredly to the first year of Jehoiakim's reign. 
There is no hint that Judah had become tributary to Egypt ; 
so that we might even assign both prophecies to the last year of 
Josiah. For it might have happened even under Josiah that 
the upper warden of the temple should have kept the prophet in 
custody for one night. 

Chap, xviii. The emblem of tiie clay and the potter, 


SARIES. — The figure of the potter who remodels a misshapen 
vessel (vers. 2-4). The interpretation of this (vers. 5-10), and 
its application to degenerate Israel (vers. 11-17). The recep- 
tion of the discourse by the people, and Jeremiah's cry to the 
Lord (vers. 18-23). 

Vers. 2-10. The emblem and its interpretation. — Ver. 2. 
li Arise and go down into the potter's house ; there will I cause 
thee to hear my words. Ver. 3. And I went down into the 
potter's house ; and, behold, he wrought on the wheels. Ver. 4. 
And the vessel was marred, that he wrought in clay, in the 
hand of the potter ; then he made again another vessel of it, as 
seemed good to the potter to make. Ver. 5. Then came the 
word of Jahveh to me, saying : Ver. 6. Cannot I do with you 
as this potter, house of Israel ? saith Jahveh. Behold, as the 
clay in the hand of the potter, so are ye in mine hand, house of 
Israel. Ver. 7. Now I speak concerning a people and king- 
dom, to root it out and pluck up and destroy it. Ver. 8. But 
if that people turns from its wickedness, against which I spake, 
then it repents me of the evil which I thought to do it. Ver. 9. 
And now I speak concerning a people and a kingdom, to build 
and to plant it. Ver. 10. If it do that which is evil in mine 
eyes, so that it hearkens not unto my voice, then it repents me 
of the good which I said I would do unto it." 

By God's command Jeremiah is to go and see the potter's 
treatment of the clay, and to receive thereafter God's interpre- 
tation of the same. Here he has set before his eyes that which 
suggests a comparison of man to the clay and of God to the 
potter, a comparison that frequently occurred to the Hebrews, 
and which had been made to appear in the first formation of 
man (cf. Job x. 9, xxxiii. 6, Isa. xxix. 16, xlv. 9, lxiv. 7). This 
is done that he may forcibly represent to the people, by means 
of the emblem, the power of the Lord to do according to His 
will with all nations, and so with Israel too. From the " go 
down," we gather that the potteries of Jerusalem lay in a valley 
near the city. B^nxn are the round frames by means of which 
the potter moulded his vessels. This sig. of the word is well 
approved here; but in Ex. i. 16, where too it is found, the 
meaning is doubtful, and it is a question whether the derivation 

CHAP. XVIII. 2-10. 295 

is from |3X or from jsis, wheel. The perfecta consec. AW^S 
and 3£'l designate, taken in connection with the participle 
nlity, actions that were possibly repeated : " and if the vessel was 
spoilt, he made it over again ; " cf . Ew. § 342, b. TOTa nfe^ 
working in clay, of the material in which men work in order to 
make something of it ; cf. Ex. xxxi. 4. 1 

In vers. 6-10 the Lord discloses to the prophet the truth 
lying in the potter's treatment of the clay. The power the 
potter has over the clay to remould, according to his pleasure, 
the vessel he had formed from it if it went wrong ; the same 
power God possesses over the people of Israel. This unlimited 
power of God over mankind is exercised according to man's 
conduct, not according to a decretum absolutum or unchangeable 
determination. If he pronounces a people's overthrow or ruin, 
and if that people turn from its wickedness, He repeals His 
decree (ver. 7 f.) ; and conversely, if He promises a people wel- 
fare and prosperity, and if that people turn away from Him 
to wickedness, then too He changes His resolve to do good to it 
(ver. 9 f.). Inasmuch as He is even now making His decree 
known by the mouth of the prophet, it follows that the accom- 

1 Instead of "ifths several codd. and editt. have "ic'ro, as in ver. 6, to 
■which Ew. and Hitz. both take objection, so that they delete "1)3113 (Ew.) 
or -iwn T3 "1003 (Hitz.) as being glosses, since the words are not in the 
LXX. The attempts of Umbr. and Nag. to obtain a sense for "ions are 
truly of such a kind as only to strengthen the suspicion of spuriousness. 
Umbr., who is followed by Graf, expounds : " as the clay in the hand of 
the potter does ; " whereto Hitz. justly replies : " but is then the (failure) 
solely its own doing ? " Nag. will have 3 to be the 3 verit. : the vessel was 
marred, as clay in the hand of the potter, in which case the "Iftri3 still 
interrupts. But the failure of the attempts to make a good sense of "iftPD 
does in no respect justify the uncritical procedure of Ew. and Hitz. in 
deleting the word without considering that the reading is by no means 
established, since not only do the most important and correct editions and 
a great number of codd. read ions, but Aquila, Theodot., the Guild, and 
Syr. give this reading ; Norzi and Houbig. call it lectio accuratiorum codicum, 
and the Masora on ver. C and Job x. 9 confirms it. Cf. de Rossi varim kctl. 
ad Ji. I. and the critical remarks in the Biblia Hal. by J. H. Michaelis, 
according to which "iftri3 plainly made its way into the present verse from 
ver. G by the error of a copyist ; and it can only be from his prejudice in 
favour of the LXX. that Hitz. pronounces ~iDri3 original, as beiug " the 
reading traditionally in use." 


plishment of Jeremiah's last utterances is conditioned by the 
impression God's word makes on men. Stt"l, adv., in the moment, 
forthwith, and when repeated = now . . . now, now . . . again. 
Nag. maintains that the arrangement here is paratactic, so that 
the VF). does not belong to the nearest verb, but to the main 
idea, i.e. to the apodosis in this case. The remark is just ; but 
the word does not mean suddenly, but immediately, and the 
sense is : when I have spoken against a people, and this people 
repents, then immediately I let it repent me. bv DPU as in Joel 
ii. 13, etc. With " to pluck up," etc., " to build," etc., cf. i. 10. 
" Against which I spake," ver. 8, belongs to " that people," 
and seems as if it might bo dispensed with ; but is not there- 
fore spurious because the LXX. have omitted it. For njnn 
the Keri has Vy}, the most usual form, cf. vii. 30, Num. xxxii. 
13, Judg. ii. 11, etc.; but the diet, is called for by the follow- 
ing nnittn and inynip. naitsn n^r^, to show kindness, cf. Num. 
x. 32. T 

The emblematical interpretation of the potter with the clay 
lays a foundation for the prophecy that follows, vers. 11-17, 
in which the people are told that it is only by reason of their 
stiff necked persistency in wickedness that they render threatened 
judgment certain, whereas by return to their God they might 
prevent the ruin of the kingdom. 

Vers. 11-17. Application of the emblem to Judah. — Ver. 11. 
" And now speak to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem, saying: Thus hath Jahveh said: Behold, I frame 
against you evil and devise against you a device. Return ye, 
now, each from his evil way, and better your ways and your 
doings. Ver. 12. But they say: There is no use! For our 
imaginations will we follow, and each do the stubbornness of 
his evil heart. Ver. 13. Therefore thus hath Jahveh said : 
Ask now among the heathen ! who hath heard the like ? A 
very horrible thing hath the virgin of Israel done ! Ver. 14. 
Does the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock of the field ? or 
do strange, cold trickling waters dry up ? Ver. 15. For my 
people hath forgotten me ; to the vanity they offer odours ; 
they have made them to stumble upon their ways, the ever- 
lasting paths, to walk in by-paths, a way not cast up. Ver. 16. 
To make their land a dismay, a perpetual hissing, every one 

CHAP. XVIII. 11-17. 297 

that passeth thereby shall be astonished and shake his head. 
Ver. 17. Like the east wind I will scatter them before the 
enemy ; with the back and not with the face will I look upon 
them in the day of their ruin." 

In vers. 11 and 12 what was said at ver. 6 ff. is applied to 
Judah. "HP, form in sense of prepare (cf. Isa. xxii. 11, 
xxxvii. 26), is chosen with special reference to the potter p-P' 1 ). 
rt2^ : n», the thought, design, here in virtue of the parallelism : 
evil plot, as often both with and without njn • cf . Esth. viii. 3, 5, 
ix. 25, Ezek. xxxviii. 10. The call to repentance runs much as 
do xxxv. 15 and vii. 3. — But this call the people reject disdain- 
fully, replying that they are resolved to abide by their evil 
courses. VlDffl, not : they said, but : they say ; the perf. consec. 
of the action repeating itself at the present time ; cf. Ew. 
342, b. 1. BW3 as in ii. 25 ; on " stubbornness of their evil 
heart," cf. iii. 17. By this answer the prophet makes them 
condemn themselves out of their own mouth ; cf. Isa. xxviii. 15, 
xxx. 10 f. — Ver. 13. Such obduracy is unheard of amongst the 
peoples ; cf. a like idea in ii. 10 f. rrnj>B> = rn^JJtr, v. 30. 
1X0 belongs to the verb : horrible things hath Israel very much 
done = very horrible things have they done. The idea is 
strengthened by Israel's being designated a virgin (see on 
xiv. 17). One could hardly believe that a virgin could be 
guilty of such barefaced and determined wickedness. In ver. 
14 f. the public conduct is further described ; and first, it is 
illustrated by a picture drawn from natural history, designed 
to fill the people with shame for their unnatural conduct. But 
the significance of the picture is disputed. The questions have 
a negative force : does it forsake % = it does not forsake. 
The force of the first question is conditioned by the view 
taken of *lfe> "IWB ; and "^W may be either genitive to 11V, or 
it may be the accusative of the object, and be either a poetic 
form for rni?, or plural c. suff. 1. pers. (my fields). Chr. 
B. Mich., Schur., Kos., Maur., Neum. translate according to 
the latter view : Does the snow of Lebanon descending from 
the rock forsake my fields? i.e. does it ever cease, flowing 
down from the rock, to water my fields, the fields of my people ? 
To this view, however, it is to be opposed, a. that " from the 
rock " thus appears superfluous, at least not in its proper place, 


since, according to the sense given, it would belong to " snow 
of Lebanon;" b. that the figure contains no real illustrative 
truth. The watering of the fields of God's people, i.e. of 
Palestine or Judah, by the snow of Lebanon could be brought 
about only by the water from the melting snow of Lebanon soak- 
ing into the ground, and so feeding the springs of the country. 
But this view of the supply for the springs that watered the 
land cannot be supposed to be a fact of natural history so well 
known that the prophet could found an argument on it. Most 
recent commentators therefore join "*!& "MR?, 'and translate: does 
the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock of the field (does it 
disappear) 1 The use of 2W with p is unexampled, but is 
analogous to Dip Ipn 2iy, Gen. xxiv. 27, where, however, 
3JP is used transitively. But even when translated as above, 
' ; rock of the field " is variously understood. Hitz. will have 
it to be Mount Zion, which in xvii. 3 is called my mountain in 
the field, and xxi. 13, rock of the plain ; and says the trickling 
waters are the waters of Gihon, these being the only never- 
drying water of Jerusalem, the origin of which has never been 
known, and may have been commonly held to be from the snow 
of Lebanon. Graf and Nag., again, have justly objected that 
the connection between the snow of Lebanon and the water- 
springs of Zion is of too doubtful a kind, and does not become 
probable by appeal to Ps. cxxxiii. 3, where the dew of Hermon 
is said to descend on the mountains of Zion. For it is perfectly 
possible that a heavy dew after warm days might be carried 
to Jerusalem by means of the cool current of air coming down 
from the north over Hermon (cf. Del. on Ps. cxxxiii. 3) ; but 
not that the water of the springs of Jerusalem should have 
come from Lebanon. Like Ew., Umbr., Graf., and Nag., we 
therefore understand the rock of the field to be Lebanon itself. 
But it is not so called as being a detached, commanding rocky 
mountain, for this is not involved in the sig. of ^ (see on 
xvii. 3) ; nor as bulwark of the field (Nag.), for "IW does not 
mean bulwark, and the change of "MBD into *lfr», from *!«», 
a hemming in, siege, would give a most unsuitable figure. 
We hold the " field" to be the land of Israel, whence seen, 
the summit of Lebanon, and especially the peak of Hermon 
covered with eternal snows, might very well be called the rock 

CHAP. XVIII. 11-17. 299 

of the field. 1 Observe the omission of the article before 
Lebanon, whereby it comes about that the name is joined 
appellatively to " snow : " the Lebanon-snow. And accordingly 
we regard the waters as those which trickle down from Hermon. 
The wealth of springs in Lebanon is well known, and the 
trickling water of Lebanon is used as an illustration in Cant. 
iv. 15. WR?fP, are rooted up, strikes us as singular, since "root 
up " seems suitable neither for the drying up of springs, nor 
for : to be checked in their course. Dav. Kimchi thought, 
therefore, it stood for ^P^, omittuntur; but this word has not 
this signification. Probably a transposition has taken place, so 
that we have WTW for ^T, since for T\m in Niph. the sig. 
dry up is certified by Isa. xix. 5. The predicate, too, CIJ is 
singular. Strange waters are in 2 Kings xix. 24 waters be- 
lonmno; to others ; but this will not do here. So Ew. derives "W 
from "HTj press, urge, and correspondingly, &~}p T from "ftp, spring, 
well up: waters pouring forth with fierce pressure. In this 
case, however, the following QvTfo would be superfluous, or at 
least feeble. Then, O^i? EPD, Prov. xxv. 25, is cold water ; and 
besides, "HJ means constrinxit, compressit, of which root-meaning 
the sig. to press forth is a contradiction. There is therefore 
nothing for it but to keep to the sig. strange for EP"tt; strange 
waters = waters coining from afar, whose springs are not known, 
so that they could be stopped up. The predicate cold is quite 
in keeping, for cold waters do not readily dry up, the coldness 

1 " Hermon is not a conical mountain like Tabor, with a single lofty peak 
and a well-defined base, but a whole mountain mass of many days' journey 
in circuit, with a broad crest of summits. The highest of these lie within 
the Holy Land, and, according to the measurements of the English engineers, 
Majors Scott and Kobe (1840), rise to a height of 937G English feet, — sum- 
mits encompassed by far-stretching mountain ridges, from whose deep 
gloomy valleys the chief rivers of the country take their rise. . . . Behind 
the dai'k green foremost range (that having valleys clothed Avith pine and 
oak forests) high mountains raise their domes aloft ; there is a fir wood 
sprinkled with snow as with silver, a marvellous mingling of bright and 
dark ; and behind these rises the broad central ridge with its peaks covered 
with deep and all but everlasting snows." — Van de Velde, Reise, i. S. 96 f. 
Therewith cf. Eobins. Phys. Geogr. p. 315 : " In the ravines round about 
the highest of the two peaks, snow, or rather ice, lies the whole year round. 
In summer this gives the mountain, when seen from a distance, the appear- 
ance of being surrounded with radiant stripes descending from its crown." 


being a protection against evaporation. Such, then, will be the 
meaning of the verse : As the Lebanon-snow does not forsake 
the rock, so the waters trickling thence do not dry up. From 
the application of this general idea, that in inanimate nature 
faithfulness and constancy are found, to Israel's bearing towards 
God arises a deeper significance, which shows why this figure 
was chosen. The rock in the field points to the Kock of Israel 
as the everlasting rock, rock of ages (Isa. xxx. 29 and xxvi. 4), 
and the cold, i.e. refreshing waters, which trickle from the rock 
of the field, point to Jahveh, the fountain of living water, ii. 13 
and xvii. 13. Although the snow does not forsake Lebanon, 
Israel has forgotten the fountain of living water from which 
water of life flows to it ; cf. ii. 13. 

The application at ver. 15 is introduced by a causal n <3. Ew. 
wrongly translates : that my people forgot me. ^ means for ; 
and the causal import is founded on the main idea of ver. 13 : 
A very horrible thing hath Israel done ; for it hath done that 
which is unheard of in the natural world, it hath forsaken me, 
the rock of safety ; cf. ii. 32. They burn odours, i.e. kindle 
sacrifices, to the vanity, i.e. the null gods, cf. Ps. xxxi. 7, i.e. 
to Baal, vii. 9, xi. 13, 17. The subject to crfrab* may be most 
simply supplied from the idea of " the vanity : " the null gods 
made them to stumble ; cf. for this idea 2 Chron. xxviii. 23. 
This seems more natural than to leave the subject indefinite, in 
which case the false prophets (cf. xxiii. 27) or the priests, or 
other seducers, would be the moving spirits. " The ancient 
paths" is apposition to "their ways:" upon their ways, the 
paths of the old time, i.e. not, however, the good old believing 
times, from whose ways the Israelites have but recently diverged, 
For D^iy never denotes the time not very long passed away, but 
always old, immemorial time, here specially the time of the 
patriarchs, who walked on the right paths of faithfulness to 
God, as in vi. 16. Hitz. and Graf have taken " the ancient 
paths " as subject : the old paths have made the Israelites to 
stumble on their ways, which gives a most unnatural idea, while 
the " paths of the earliest time" is weakened into " the example 
of their ancestors ; " and besides, the parallelism is destroyed. 
As "by-paths" is defined by the apposition "away not cast 
up," so is "on their ways" by "the ancient paths." The Chet. 

CHAP. XVIII. 1S-23. 301 

YOB* is found only here ; the Keri is formed after Ps. lxxvii. 20. 
A way not cast up is one on which one cannot advance, reach 
the goal, or on which one suffers hurt and perishes. — In ver. 
16 the consequences of these doings are spoken of as having 
been wrought out by themselves, in order thus to bring out the 
God-ordained causal nexus between actions and their con- 
sequences. To make their land an object of horror to all that 
set foot on it. Thp\"\l& occurs only here, while the Keri riip'nty J s 
found only in Judg. v. 16 for the piping of shepherds, from p?f, 
to hiss, to pipe. In connection with nBBJ as expression of horror 
or amazement, Jeremiah elsewhere uses only np~i&, cf. xix. 8. 
xxv. 9, 18, xxix. 18, li. 37, so that here the vowelling should 
perhaps be ripvitp. The word does not here denote the hissino- 
= hissing down or against one, by way of contempt, but the 
sound midway between hissing and whistling which escapes one 
when one looks on something appalling. On " every one that 
passeth by shall be dismayed," cf . 1 Kings ix. 8. i^N")3 J^n ons- 
hore =^1 jnn, to move the head to and fro, shake the head; 
a gesture of malicious amazement, cf. Ps. xxii. 8, cix. 25, like 
c'nt ni:a, Ps. xliv. 15. — In ver. 17 the Lord discloses the coming 
punishment. Like an east wind, i.e. a violent storm-wind (cf. 
Ps. xlviii. 8), will I scatter them, cf. xiii. 24. Because they 
have turned to Him the back and not the face (cf. ii. 27), so 
will He turn His back on them in the day of their ruin, cf. 
Ezek. xxxv. 5. 

Vers. 18-23. Enmity displayed against the prophet by the 
people for this discourse, and prayer for protection from his 
enemies. — Ver. 18. "Then said they: Come and let us plot 
schemes against Jeremiah; for law shall not be lost to the 
priest, and counsel to the wise, and speech to the prophet. 
Come and let us smite him with the tonsrue and not give heed 
to all his speeches. Ver. 19. Give heed to me, Jahveh, and 
hearken to the voice of them that contend with me ! Ver. 20. 
Shall evil be repaid for good, that they dig a pit for my soul? 
Remember how I stood before Thee to speak good for them, to 
turn away Thy wrath from them ! Ver. 21. Therefore give 
their sons to the famine and deliver them to the sword, that 
their wives become childless and widows, and their men 
slaughtered by death, their young men smitten by the sword in 


battle. Ver. 22. Let a cry be heard from their houses, when 
Thou bringest troops upon them suddenly ; for they have digged 
a pit to take me and laid snares for my feet. Ver. 23. But 
Thou Jahveh knowest all their counsels against me for death : 
forgive not their iniquity and blot not out their sin from before 
Thy face, that they be overthrown before Thee ; in the time of 
Thine anger deal with them." 

Even the solemn words (vers. 15-17) of the prophet were 
in vain. Instead of examining themselves and reforming their 
lives, the blinded sinners resolve to put the troublesome preacher 
of repentance out of the way by means of false charges. The 
subject of " and they said " is those who had heard the above 
discourse; not all, of course, but the infatuated leaders of the 
people who had. They call on the multitude to plot schemes 
against him, cf. xi. 18 ff. For they have, as they think, priests, 
wise men, and prophets to give them instruction out of the 
law, counsel, and word, i.e. prophecy, — namely, according to 
their idea, such as advise, teach, and preach otherwise than 
Jeremiah, who speaks only of repentance and judgment. Ee- 
cent scholars render iTjfr) doctrine, which is right etymologically, 
but not so when judged by the constant usage, which regards 
the Torah, the law, as containing the substance of all the doctrine 
needed by man to tell him how to bear himself towards God, 
or to make hi£ life happy. The Mosaic law is the foundation 
of all prophetic preaching ; and that the speakers mean nnin in 
this sense is clear from their claiming the knowledge of the 
Torah as belonging to the priests ; the law was committed to 
the keeping and administration of the priests. The " counsel " 
is that needed for the conduct of the state in difficult circum- 
stances, and in Ezek. vii. 26 it is attributed to the elders ; and 
" speech" or word is the declarations of the prophets. On that 
subject, cf. viii. 8-10. To smite with the tongue is to ruin by 
slanders and malicious charges, cf. ix. 2, 4, 7, where the tongue 
is compared to a lying bow and deadly arrow, Ps. lxiv. 4 f., 
lix. 8, etc. That they had the prophet's death in view appears 
from ver. 23 ; although their further speech : We will not give 
heed to his words, shows that in the discourse against which 
they were so enraged, he had said " nothing that, according to 
their ideas, was directly and immediately punishable with death " 

CHAP. XVIII. 18-23. 303 

(Hitz.) ; cf. xxvi. 6, 11. Against these schemes Jeremiah cries 
to God in ver. 19 for help and protection. While his adver- 
saries are saying : People should give no heed to his speeches, 
he prays the Lord to give heed to him and to listen to the 
sayings of his enemies. " My contenders," who contend against 
me, cf. xxxv. 1, Isa. xlix. 25. — In support of his prayer he savs 
in ver. 20 : Shall evil be repaid for good ? cf. Ps. xxxv. 12. In 
his discourses he had in view nothing but the good of the people, 
and he appeals to the prayers he had presented to the Lord to 
turn away God's anger from the people, cf. xiv. 7 ff., vers. 19-22. 
(On " my standing before Thee," cf. xv. 1.) This good they 
seek to repay with ill, by lying charges to dig a pit for his soul, 
i.e. for his life, into which pit he may fall ; cf. Ps. lvii. 7, where, 
however, instead of T\TW (ii. 6 ; Prov. xxii. 14, xxiii. 27), we 
have nn^, as in ver. 22, Chet. — He prays the Lord to requite 
them for this wickedness by bringing on the people that which 
Jeremiah had sought to avert, by destroying them with famine, 
sword, and disease. The various kinds of death are, ver. 21, 
distributed rhetorically amongst the different classes of the 
people. The sons, i.e. children, are to be given up to the 
famine, the men to the sword, the young men to the sword in 
war. The suffix on znin refers to the people, of which the 
children are mentioned before, the men and women after. On 
3™ H; hv ian, cf. Ezek. xxxv. 5, Ps. Ixiii. 11. "Death," men- 
tioned alongside of sword and famine, is death by disease and 
pestilence, as in xv. 2. — Ver. 22. To the terrors of the war and 
the siege is to be added the cry rising from all the houses into 
which hostile troops have burst, plundering and massacring. 
To lay snares, as in Ps. cxl. 6, cxlii. 4. ns is the springe 
of the bird-catcher. — Ver. 23. Comprehensive summing up of 
the whole prayer. As the Lord knows their design against 
him for his death, he prays Him not to forgive their sin, but to 
punish it. The form ^non instead of nori (Neh. xiii. 14) is the 
Aramaic form for nnori, like ^?ri, hi. 6 ; cf. Ew. § 224, c. The 
Chet. vrn is the regular continuation of the imperative : and let 
them be cast down before Thee. The Ken WW would be : that 
they may be cast down before Thee. Hitz. wrongly expounds 
the Chet. : but let them be fallen before Thee (in Thine eyes), i.e 
morally degraded sinners ; for the question is not here one of 


moral degradation, but of the punishment of sinners. In the 
time of Thine anger, i.e. when Thou lettest loose Thy wrath, 
causest Thy judgments to come down, deal with them, i.e. with 
their transgressions. On 3 nc'y cf. Dan. xi. 7. 

On this prayer of the prophet to God to exterminate his 
enemies Hitz. remarks : " The various curses which in his bitter 
indignation he directs against his enemies are at bottom but the 
expression of the thought : Now may all that befall them which 
I sought to avert from them." The Hirschberg Bible takes a 
deeper grasp of the matter : " It is no prayer of carnal ven- 
geance against those that hated him, vers. 18, 23, Ps. ix. 18, 
lv. 16 ; but as God had commanded him to desist (xiv. 11, 12) 
from the prayers he had frequently made for them, ver. 20, and 
as they themselves could not endure these prayers, ver. 18, he 
leaves them to God's judgments which he had been already 
compelled to predict to them, xi. 22, xiv. 12, 16, without any 
longer resisting with his entreaties, Luke xiii. 9, 2 Tim. iv. 14." 
In this observation that clause only is wrong which says Jere- 
miah merely leaves the wicked to God's judgments, since he, 
on the other hand, gives them up thereto, prays God to carry out 
judgment on them with the utmost severity. In this respect 
the present passage resembles the so-called cursing psalms (Ps. 
xxxv. 4-10, cix. 6-20, lix. 14-16, lxix. 26-29, etc.) ; nor can we 
say with Calvin : heme vehementiam, quoniam dictatafuit a spiritu 
sanctOj non posse damnari, sed non debere traJd in exemplam, 
quia hoc singulare fait in propheta. For the prophet's prayer is 
no inspired fflPP 12^], but the wish and utterance of his heart, for 
the fulfilment of which he cries to God ; just as in the psalms 
cited. On these imprecations, cf. Del. on Ps. xxxv. and cix., 
and vol. i. p. 417 f.; as also the solid investigation of this point by 
Kurtz : Zur Theologie der Ps. IV. die Fluch- und Rachepsalmen 
In the Dorpat Ztschr. f. Theol. u. Kirche, vii. (1865), S. 359 ff. 
All these curses are not the outcome and effusions of personal 
vengeance against enemies, but flow from the pure spring of a 
zeal, not self-regarding at all, for the glory of God. The 
enemies are God's enemies, despisers of His salvation. Their 
hostility against David and against Jeremiah was rooted in their 
hostility against God and the kingdom of God. The advance- 
ment of the kingdom of God, the fulfilment of the divine 

CHAP. XIX. 1-13. 305 

scheme of salvation, required the fall of the ungodly who seek 
the lives of God's servants. In this way we would seek to 
defend such words of cursing by appealing to the legal spirit of 
the Old Testament, and would not oppose them to the words of 
Christ, Luke ix. 55. For Christ tells us why He blamed the 
Elias-like zeal of His disciples in the words : " The Son of man is 
not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." In keeping 
with this, the peculiar end of Christ's coming on earth, we find 
no curses from Him against His enemies and the enemies of the 
kingdom of God. But just as the word, " I am not come," etc. 
(Luke ix. 56), does not exclude the truth that the Father hath 
given all judgment to Him, so, as Kurtz very justly remarks, 
" from our hearing no word of cursing from the mouth of 
Christ during His life on earth we cannot infer the absolute 
inadmissibleness of all such ; still less can we infer that Christ's 
apostles and disciples could not at all be justified in using any 
words of cursing." And the apostles have indeed uttered curses 
against obdurate enemies : so Peter against Simon the Magian, 
Acts viii. 20 ; Paul against the high priest Ananias, Acts xxiii. 
8, against the Jewish false teachers, Gal. i. 9 and v. 12, and 
against Alexander the coppersmith, 2 Tim. iv. 14. But these 
cases do not annihilate the distinction between the Old and the 
New Testaments. Since grace and truth have been revealed 
in Christ, the Old Testament standpoint of retribution accord- 
ing to the rigour of the law cannot be for us the standard of 
our bearing even towards the enemies of Christ and His 

Chap. xix. 1-13. The broken pitcher. — Ver. 1. "Thus 
said Jahveh : Go and buy a potter's vessel, and take of the 
elders of the people and of the elders of the priests, Ver. 2. 
And go forth into the valley of Benhinnom, which is before the 
gate Harsuth, and proclaim there the words which I shall speak 
unto thee, Ver. 3. And say: Hear the word of Jahveh, ye 
kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem : Thus hath said 
Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel : Behold, I bring evil upon 
this place, the which whosoever heareth his ears shall tingle. 
Ver. 4. Because they have forsaken me, and disowned this place, 
and burnt incense in it to other gods whom they knew not, 

VOL. I. U 


they, and their fathers, and the kings of Judah, and have filled 
this place with the blood of innocents, Ver. 5. And have built 
high places for Baal, to burn their sons in the fire as burnt- 
offerings to Baal, which I have neither commanded nor spoken, 
nor came it into my heart. Ver. 6. Therefore, behold, days 
come, saith Jahveh, that this place shall no longer be called 
Tophet and Valley of Benhinnom, but Valley of Slaughter. 
Ver. 7. And I make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem 
in this place, and cause them to fall by the sword before their 
enemies and by the hand of them that seek their lives, and 
give their carcases to be food for the fowls of the heaven and 
the beast of the earth, Ver. 8. And make this city a dismay 
and a scoffing ; every one that passeth thereby shall be dismayed 
and hiss because of all her strokes ; Ver. 9. And make them 
eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and 
each shall eat his neighbour's flesh in the siege and straitness 
wherewith their enemies and they that seek after their lives 
shall straiten them. — Ver. 10. And break the pitcher before 
the eyes of the men that go with thee, Ver. 11. And say to 
them : Thus hath Jahveh of hosts said : Even so will I break 
this people and this city as one breaketh this potter's vessel, 
that it cannot be made whole again ; and in Tophet shall they 
bury them, because there is no room to bury. Ver. 12. Thus 
will I do unto this place, saith Jahveh, and its inhabitants, to 
make this city as Tophet. Ver. 13. And the houses of Jeru- 
salem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall become, as 
the place Tophet, unclean, all the houses upon whose roofs 
they have burnt incense to the whole host of heaven and poured 
out drink-offerings to other gods." 

The purpose for which Jeremiah was to buy the earthen jar 
is told in ver. 10, and the meaning of breaking it in the valley 
of Benhinnom is shown in vers. 11-13. papa, from pp3, to pour 
out, is a jar with a narrow neck, so called from the sound heard 
when liquid is poured out of it, although the vessel was used 
for storing honey, 1 Kings xiv. 3. The appellation fcnn -ixi», 
former of earthen vessels, i.e. potter, is given to denote the jar 
as one which, on being broken, would shiver into many frag- 
ments. Before " of the elders of the people" a verb seems to 
be awanting, for which cause many supply nfip_fj (according to 

CHAP. XIX. 1-13. 307 

xli. 12, xliii. 10, etc.), rightly so far as sense is concerned ; but 
we are hardly entitled to assume a lacuna in the text. That 
assumption is opposed by the ) before \3£tt> ; for we cannot 
straightway presume that this 1. was put in after the verb had 
dropped out of the text. In that case the whole word would 
have been restored. We have here rather, as Schnur. saw, a 
bold constructio prcegnans, the verb u buy" being also joined in 
zeugma with " of the elders :" buy a jar and (take) certain of 
the elders ; cf. similar, only less bold, zeugmatic constr. in Job 
iv. 10, x. 12, Isa. lviii. 5. " Elders of the priests," as in 2 Kings 
xix. 2, probably identical with the " princes C~)&) of the priests," 
2 Chron. xxxvi. 14, are doubtless virtually the same as the 
a heads ( H ??*^) of the priests," Neh. xii. 7, the priests highest 
in esteem, not merely for their age, but also in virtue of their 
rank ; just as the " elders of the people " were a permanent 
representation of the people, consisting of the heads of tribes, 
houses or septs, and families ; cf. 1 Kings viii. 1-3, and my 
Bibl. Archdol. ii. S. 218. Jeremiah was to take elders of the 
people and of the priesthood, because it was most readily to be 
expected of them that the word of God to be proclaimed would 
find a hearing amongst them. As to the valley of Benhinnom, 
see on vii. 31. mD"inn "ij/t^ not Sun-gate (after Din, Job ix. 7, 
Judg. viii. 13), but Pottery or Sherd-gate, from D"in = tjnrij 
in rabbin. IT'p'in, potter's clay. The Chet. rnDnn is the ancient 
form, not the modern (Hitz.), for the Keri is adapted to the 
rabbinical form. The clause, " which is before the Harsuth- 
gate," is not meant to describe more particularly the locality, 
sufficiently well known in Jerusalem, but has reference to the 
act to be performed there. The name, gate of ^DTrtj which no- 
where else occurs, points no doubt to the breaking to shivers of the 
jar. Hence we are rather to translate Sherd-gate than Pottery- 
gate, the name having probably arisen amongst the people 
from the broken fragments which lay about this gate. Comm. 
are not at one as to which of the known city gates is meant. 
Hitz. and Kimchi are wrong in thinking of a gate of the court 
of the temple — the southern one. The context demands one of 
the city gates, two of which led into the Benhinnom valley : the 
Spring- or Fountain-gate at the south-east corner, and the 
Dung-gate on the south-west side of Zion ; see on Neh. iii. 


13-15. One of these two must be meant, but which of them 
it cannot be decided. There Jeremiah is to cry aloud the words 
which follow, vers. 3-8, and which bear on the kings of Judah 
and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. " Kings" in the plural, as 
in xiii. 13, because the matter concerned not the reigning king 
only, but his successors too, who had been guilty of the sins to be 
punished. In vers. 3-5 the threatening is summarily set forth. 
Horrible evil will the Lord bring on this place, i.e. Jerusalem. 
The ears of every one that hears it will tingle, so utterly stun- 
ning will the news of it turn out to be ; cf. 2 Kings xxi. 12 and 
1 Sam. iii. 11, where we find ru^SFi ; cf. Evv. § 197, a. This they 
have brought on themselves by their dreadful sins. They have 
forsaken Jahveh, disowned this place ; *133, prop, find strange, 
Deut. xxxii. 27, then treat as strange, deny, Job xxi. 29. In 
substance : they have not treated Jerusalem as the city of the 
sanctuary of their God, but, as is mentioned after, they have 
burnt incense in it to other (strange) gods. The words : they 
and their fathers, and the kings of Judah, are not the subject 
to " knew not," as is " they and their," etc., in ix. 15, xvi. 13, 
but to the preceding verb of the principal clause. " And have 
filled the city with the blood of innocents." This Grot, and 
others understand by the blood of the children slain for Moloch ; 
and for this, appeal is made to Ps. cvi. 37 f., where the pour- 
ing out of innocent blood is explained to be that of sons and 
daughters offered to idols. But this passage cannot be the 
standard for the present one, neither can the statement that 
here we have to deal with idolatry alone. This latter is petitio 
principii. If shedding the blood of innocents had been said of 
offerings to Moloch, then ver. 5 must be taken as epexegesis. 
But in opposition to this we have not only the parallelism of the 
clauses, but also and especially the circumstance, that not till 
ver. 5 is mention made of altars on which to offer children to 
Moloch. We therefore understand the filling of Jerusalem 
with the blood of innocents, according to vii. 6, cf. ii. 34 and 
xxii. 3, 17, of judicial murder or of bloody persecution of the 
godly ; and on two grounds : 1. because alongside of idolatry 
we always find mentioned as the chief sin the perversion of 
justice to the shedding of innocent blood (cf. the passages cited), 
so that this sin would not likely be omitted here, as one cause 

CHAP. XIX. 1-13. 309 

of the dreadful judgment about to pass on Jerusalem; 2. because 
our passage recalls the very wording of 2 Kings xxi. 16, where, 
after mentioning his idolatry, it is said of Manasseh : Also inno- 
cent blood hath he shed, until he made Jerusalem full (N?E>) to 
the brink. The climax in the enumeration of sins in these 
verses is accordingly this : 1. The disowning of the holiness of 
Jerusalem as the abode of the Lord by the public practice of 
idolatry ; 2. the shedding of innocent blood as extremity of 
injustice and godless judicial practices ; 3. as worst of all 
abominations, the building of altars for burning their own 
children to Moloch. That the Moloch-sacrifices are mentioned 
last, as being worst of all, is shown by the three relative 
clauses : which I have not commanded, etc., which by an im- 
passioned gradation of phrases mark God's abomination of 
these horrors. On this subject cf. vii. 31 and xxxii. 35. 

In vers. 6-13 the threatened punishment is given again at 
large, and that in two strophes or series of ideas, which explain 
the emblematical act with the pitcher. The first series, vers. 
6-9, is introduced by ^pl, which intimates the meaning of the 
pitcher ; and the other, vers. 10-13, is bound up with the 
breaking of the pitcher. But both series are, ver. 6, opened by 
the mention of the locality of the act. As ver. 5 was but an 
expansion of vii. 31, so ver. 6 is a literal repetition of vii. 32. 
The valley of Benhinnom, with its places for abominable sacri- 
fices (^sri, see on vii. 32), shall in the future be called Valley 
of Slaughter; i.e. at the judgment on Jerusalem it will be the 
place where the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah will be 
slain by the enemy. There God will make void (T 1 ^?? playing 
on P^p?), i.e. bring to nothing ; for what is poured out comes 
to nothing ; cf. Isa. xix. 3. There they shall fall by the sword 
in such numbers that their corpses shall be food for the beasts 
of prey (cf. vii. 33), and the city of Jerusalem shall be fright- 
fully ravaged (ver. 8, cf. xviii. 16, xxv. 9, etc.). nnbn (plural 
form of suffix without Jod ; cf. Ew. § 258, a), the wounds she 
has received. — In ver. 9 is added yet another item to complete 
the awful picture, the terrible famine during the siege, partly 
taken from the words of Deut. xxviii. 53 ff. and Lev. xxvi. 29. 
That this appalling misery did actually come about during the 
last siege by the Chaldeans, we learn from Lam. iv. 10. — The 


second series, vers. 10-13, is introduced by the act of breakin <y 
the pitcher. This happens before the eyes of the elders who 
have accompanied Jeremiah thither : to them the explanatory 
word of the Lord is addressed. As the earthen pitcher, so shall 
Jerusalem — people and city — be broken to pieces ; and that irre- 
mediably. This is implied in : as one breaks a potter's vessel, etc. 
( n ?"3D for NEnn). The next clause : and in Tophet they shall 
bury, etc., is omitted by the LXX. as a repetition from vii. 32, 
and is objected to by Ew., Hitz., and Graf, as not being in 
keeping with its context. Ew. proposes to insert it before " as 
one breaketh ;" but this transposition only obscures the meaning 
of the clause. It connects very suitably with the idea of the 
incurable breaking in sunder. Because the breaking up of 
Jerusalem and its inhabitants shall be incurable, shall be like 
the breaking of a pitcher dashed into countless fragments, 
therefore there will be lack of room in Jerusalem to bury the 
dead, and the unclean places of Tophet will need to be used 
for that purpose. With this the further thought of vers. 12 
and 13 connects simply and suitably. Thus (as had been said 
at ver. 11) will I do unto this place and its inhabitants, nn?l, 
and that to make the city as Tophet, i.e. not " a mass of sherds 
and rubbish, as Tophet now is" (Graf) ; for neither was Tophet 
then a rubbish-heap, nor did it so become by the breaking of the 
pitcher. But Josiah had turned all the place of Tophet in the 
valley of Benhinnom into an unclean region (2 Kings xxiii. 10). 
All Jerusalem shall become an unclean place like Tophet. This 
is put in so many words in ver. 13 : The houses of Jerusalem 
shall become unclean like the place Tophet, namely, all houses 
on whose roofs idolatry has been practised. The construction of 
tPNOan causes some difficulty. The position of the word at the 
end disfavours our connecting it with the subject ^3, and so 
does the article, which does not countenance its being taken as 
predicate. To get rid of the article, J. D. Mich, and Ew. 
sought to change the reading into Q^otp nrisn, after Isa. xxx. 
33. But nriDn means a Tophet-like place, not Tophet itself, 
and so gives no meaning to the purpose. No other course is 
open than to join the word with " the place Tophet:" like the 
place Tophet, which is unclean. The plural would then be 
explained less from the collective force of Dipo than from regard 

CHAP. XIX. H-XX. G. 311 

to the plural subject. " All the houses" opens a supplementary 
definition of the subject : as concerning all houses ; cf. Ew. 
§ 310, a. On the worship of the stars by sacrifice on the house- 
tops, transplanted by Manasseh to Jerusalem, see the expos, of 
Zeph. i. 5 and 2 Kings xxi. 3. 'w t 1?l 1 '!, coinciding literally with 
vii. 18 ; the inf. absol. being attached to the verb, jinit. of the 
former clause (Ew. § 351, c). — Thus far the word of the Lord 
to Jeremiah, which he was to proclaim in the valley of Ben- 
hinnom. — The execution of the divine commission is, as being 
a matter of course, not expressly recounted, but is implied in 
ver. 14 as having taken place. 

Chap. xix. 14-xx. 6. The prophet Jeremiah and the 
temple- warden Pashur. — Ver. 14 f. When Jeremiah, hav- 
ing performed the divine command, returned from Tophet to 
the city, he went into the court of the house of God and spoke 
to the people assembled there, ver. 15 : " Thus hath said Jahveh 
of hosts, the God of Israel : Behold, I bring upon this city, 
and all its cities, all the evil that I have pronounced against it, 
because they stiffened their necks not to hear my words." 
" All the people " is the people present in the court of the 
temple as distinguished from the men who had accompanied 
Jeremiah into the valley of Benhinnom (ver. 10). *30, the N 
having dropped off, as in xxxix. 16, 1 Kings xxi. 21, 29, 2 Sam. 
v. 2, and often. " All its cities" are the towns that belonged 
to Jerusalem, were subject to it (xxxiv. 1) ; in other words, the 
cities of Judah, i. 15, ix. 10, etc. All the evil that I have pro- 
nounced against it, not merely in the valley of Benhinnom 
(vers. 3-13), but generally up till this time, by the mouth of 
Jeremiah. If we limit the reference of this view to the pro- 
phecy in Tophet, we must assume, with Nag., that Jeremiah 
repeated the substance of it here ; and besides, that prophecy 
is not in keeping with " all its cities," inasmuch as it (vers. 
3-13) deals with Jerusalem alone. Apparently Jeremiah must 
have said more than is written in the verse, and described the 
evil somewhat more closely ; so that the new matter spoken by 
him here consists in the " Behold I bring," etc., i.e. in his fore- 
warning them of the speedy fulfilment of the threatenings 
against Jerusalem and Judah, as was the case with the pro- 


pheoy in the valley of Behinnom, which also, ver. 3, beo-'ms with 
K*3» ^n. On ""they stiffened their necks," etc., cf. xvii. 23, 
vii. 26. 

Chap. xx. 1 and 2. When the chief overseer of the temple, 
Pashur, heard this prophecy, he had the prophet beaten, and 
put him over-night in the stocks at the upper gate of Benjamin 
in the temple. Pashur is by the appellation : son of Lnmer, 
distinguished from other priests of this name, e.g. Pashur, son 
of Malchijah, 1 Chron. ix. 12. It cannot be determined whether 
Immer is here the name of the 16th class of priests (1 Chron. 
xxiv. 14) or of one of the greater priestly clans (Ezra ii. 37 ; 
Neh. vii. 40). Pashur held the office of Ttf Tpa, chief over- 
seer in the house of God. TM is an official name attached to 
Tj?5> to explain it. In the latter word lies the idea of over- 
seeing,, while the former denotes the official standing or rank of 
the overseer. The position of TJJ was a high one, as may be seen 
from the fact that the priest Zephaniah, who, according to 
xxix. 26, held this post, is quoted in lii. 24 (2 Kings xxv. 18) as 
next to the high priest. The compound expression without 
article implies that there were several &?$ of the temple. In 
2 Chron. xxxv. 8 there are three mentioned under Josiah; 
which is not contradicted by 2 Chron. xxxi. 13, 1 Chron. ix. 11, 
Neh. xi. 11, where particular persons are called 'fl n*3 TJ3. As 
chief ove^er of the temple, Pashur conceived it to be his duty 
to take srHimary magisterial steps against Jeremiah, for his 
public appearance in the temple. To put this procedure of the 
priest and temple-warden in its proper light, Jeremiah is de- 
signated by the name of his office, K^an. 1 In virtue of the sum- 
mary authority which belonged to him (cf. xxix. 26), Pashur 
smote the prophet, i.e. caused him to be beaten with stripes, per- 
haps according to the precept Deut. xxv. 3, cf. 2 Cor. xi. 24, and 

1 As this official designation of Jeremiah is not found in chap, i.-xix., but 
occurs frequently in the succeeding chapters, recent critics have taken it to 
be an idle addition of the editor of the later prophecies, and have laid stress 
on the fact as a proof of the later composition, or at least later editing, of 
these pieces ; cf. Graf, S. xxxix, Nag., etc. This assumption is totally- 
erroneous. The designation of Jeremiah as K'33n occurs only where the 
mention of the man's official character was of importance. It is used partly 
in contradistinction to the false prophets, xxviii. 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 15, to 

chap. xx. i-<5. 31 


then threw him into prison till the following day, and put him 
in the stocks. rDBilDj twisting, was an instrument of torture by 
which the body was forced into a distorted, unnatural posture ; 
the culprit's hands and feet were presumably bound, so as to 
keep the position so ; see on 2 Chron. xvi. 10, cf. with Acts 
xvi. 24. The upper gate of Benjamin in the house of Jahveh 
is the northern gate at the upper, i.e. inner court of the temple, 
the same with the upper gate or the gate of the inner court, 
looking northwards, Ezek. ix. 2 and viii. 3. By the designation 
" which is in the house," etc., it is distinguished from the city 
gate of like name, xxxvii. 13, xxxviii. 7. — When on the next 
day Pashur released the prophet from imprisonment, the latter 
made known to him the divine punishment for his misdeed: "Not 
Pashur will Jahveh call thy name, but Magor-Missabib " (i.e. 
Fear round about). The name is expressive of the thing. And 
so : Jahveh will call the name, is, in other words, He will make 
the person to be that which the name expresses ; in this case, 
make Pashur to be an object of fear round about. Under the pre- 
sumption that the name Magor-Missabib conveyed a meaning the 
most directly opposed to that of Pashur, comm. have in various 
ways attempted to interpret "WW'S. It is supposed to be com- 
posed of EflB, Chald. augeri, and Tin, nobilitas, with the force : 

abundantia claritatis (Rashi) ; or after Lj, gloriatus est de 

nobilitate (Simonis) ; or from ^wJ, ampins fuit locus, and the 

Chald. "tflDj cireumcirca : de securitate circumcirca ; or finally, 
by Ew., from B'B from vhB, spring, leap, rejoice (Mai. iii. 20), 
and Tin = ?in, joy round about. All these interpretations are 
arbitrary. e*is sig. leap and gallop about, Mai. iii. 20 and Hab. 
i. 8, and in Niph. Nah. iii. 18, to be scattered (see on Hab. i. 8); 
and na>a sig. in Lam. iii. 11 to tear. But the syllable iin can 

the elders, priests, and false prophets, xxix. 1, 29, xxxvii. 3, 6, 13, xlii. 2, 
4, to the king, xxxii. 2, xxxiv. 6, xxxvii. 2, and partly to distinguish from 
persons of other conditions in life, xliii. 6, xlv. 1, li. 59. We never find the 
title in the headings of the prophecies save in xxv. 2, with reference to the 
fact that here, ver. 4, he upbraids the people for not regarding the sayings 
of all the prophets of the Lord ; and iu the oracles against foreign peoples, 
xlvi. 1, 13, xlvii. 1, xlix. 34, and 1. 1, where the name of his calling gave 
him credentials for these prophecies. — There is no further use of the name 
in the entire book. 


by no means have the sig. of 2M3SD claimed for it. Nor are 
there, indeed, sufficient grounds for assuming that Jeremiah 
turned the original name upside down in an etymological or 
philological reference. The new name given by Jeremiah to 
Pashur is meant to intimate the man's destiny. On " Fear 
round about," see on vi. 25. What the words of the new name 
signify is explained in vers. 4-6. Ver. 4. " For thus hath Jahveh 
said : Behold, I make thee a terror to thyself and to all thy 
friends, and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies and 
thine eyes behold it ; and all Judah will I give into the hand 
of the king of Babylon, that he may carry them captive to 
Babylon and smite them with the sword. Ver. 5. And I will 
give all the stores of this city, and all its gains, and all its 
splendour, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I 
give into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them 
and take and bring them to Babylon. Ver. 6. And thou, 
Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity, 
and to Babylon shalt thou come, and there die, and there be 
buried, thou and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied 
lyingly." — Pashur will become a fear or terror to himself and 
all his friends, because of his own and his friends' fate ; for he 
will see his friends fall by the sword of the enemy, and then he 
himself, with those of his house and his friends not as yet slain, 
will go forth into exile to Babylon and die there. So that not 
to himself merely, but to all about him, he will be an object of 
fear. Nag. wrongly translates "lfaD? ^rt>, I deliver thee up to 
fear, and brings into the text the contrast that Pashur is not to 
become the victim of death itself, but of perpetual fear of death. 
Along with Pashur's friends, all Judah is to be given into the 
hand of the king of Babylon, and be partly exiled to Babylon, 
partly put to death with the sword. All the goods and gear of 
Jerusalem, together with the king's treasures, are to be plundered 
and carried off by the enemy. We must not press " all thy 
friends " in vers. 4 and 6 ; and so we escape the apparent contra- 
diction, that while in ver. 4 it is said of all the friends that they 
shall die by the sword, it is said of all in ver. 6 that they shall 
go into exile. The friends are those who take Pashur's side, 
his partisans. From the last clause of ver. 6 we see that 
Pashur was also of the number of the false prophets, who 

CHAP. XX. 7-13. 315 

prophesied the reverse of Jeremiah's prediction, namely, welfare 
and peace (cf. xxiii. 17, xiv. 13). — This saying of Jeremiah 
was most probably fulfilled at the taking of Jerusalem under 
Jechoniah, Pashur and the better part of the people being 
carried off to Babylon. 

Vers. 7-18. The prophet's complaints as to the suf- 
ferings MET WITH IN His calling. — This portion contains, 
first, a complaint addressed to the Lord regarding the persecu- 
tions which the preaching of God's word draws down on Jere- 
miah, but the complaint passes into a jubilant cry of hope 
(vers. 7-13) ; secondly, a cursing of the day of his birth (vers. 
13-18). The first complaint runs thus : 

Vers. 7-13. " Thou hast persuaded me, Jahveh, and I let my- 
self be persuaded; Thou hast laid hold on me and hast prevailed. 
I am become a laughter the whole day long, every one mocketh 
at me. Ver. 8. For as often as I speak, I must call out and cry 
violence and spoil, for the word of Jahveh is made a reproach and 
a derision to me all the day. Ver. 9. And I said, I will no more 
remember nor speak more in His name ; then was it in my heart 
as burning fire, shut up in my bones, and I become weary of 
holding out, and cannot. Ver. 10. For I heard the talk of 
many : Fear round about ! Report, and let us report him ! 
Every man of my friendship lies in wait for my downfall : 
Peradventure he will let himself be enticed, that we may prevail 
against him and take our revenge on him. Ver. 11. But 
Jahveh stands by me as a mighty warrior ; therefore shall my 
persecutors stumble and not prevail, shall be greatly put to 
shame, because they have not dealt wisely, with everlasting 
disgrace which will not be forgotten. Ver. 12. And, Jahveh 
of hosts that trieth the righteous, that seeth reins and heart, 
let me see Thy vengeance on them, for to Thee have I com- 
mitted my cause. Ver. 13. Sing to Jahveh, praise Jahveh, for 
He saves the soul of the poor from the hand of the evil-doers." 

This lament as to the hatred and persecution brought upon 
him by the preaching of the word of the Lord, is chiefly 
called forth by the proceedings, recounted in vers. 1, 2, of the 
temple-warden Pashur against him. This is clear from the "H3C 
a^DO ; for, as Nag. truly remarks, the use of this expression 


against the prophet may certainly be most easily explained by the 
use he had so pregnantly made of it against one so distinguished 
as Pashur. Besides, the bitterness of the complaint, rising at 
last to the extent of cursing the day of his birth (ver. 14 if.), is 
only intelligible as a consequence of such ill-usage as Pashur 
had already inflicted on him. For although his enemies had 
schemed against his life, they had never yet ventured positively 
to lay hands on his person. Pashur first caused him to be 
beaten, and then had him kept a whole night long in the torture 
of the stocks. From torture like this his enemies might proceed 
even to taking his life, if the Lord did not miraculously shield 
him from their vengeance. — The complaint, vers. 7-13, is an 
outpouring of the heart to God, a prayer that begins with com- 
plaint, passes into confidence in the Lord's protection, and ends 
in a triumph of hope. In vers. 7 and 8 Jeremiah complains of 
the evil consequences of his labours. God has persuaded him 
to undertake the office of prophet, so that he has yielded to the 
call of God. The words of ver. la are not an upbraiding, 
nor are they given in an upbraiding tone (Hitz.) ; for nri3 does 
not mean befool, but persuade, induce by words to do a thing. 
Pin used transitively, but not as 1 Kings xvi. 22, overpower 
(Ros., Graf, etc.) ; for then it would not be in keeping with the 
following <Wll, which after " overpower " would seem very 
feeble. It means : lay hold of ; as usually in the Hiph., so 
here in Kal. It thus corresponds to T npjn, Isa. viii. 11, de- 
noting the state of being laid hold of by the power of the Spirit 
of God in order to prophesy. 73\Fi } not : Thou hast been able, 
but : Thou hast prevailed, conquered. A sharp contrast to this 
is presented by the issue of his prophetic labours : I am become 
a laughing-stock all the day, i.e. incessantly. n?3, its (the people's) 
entirety = all the people. — In ver. 8 " call " is explained by " cry 
out violence and spoil:" complain of the violence and spoliation 
that are practised. The word of Jahveh is become a reproach 
and obloquy, i.e. the proclamation of it has brought him only 
contempt and obloquy. The two cases of ^3 are co-ordinate ; the 
two clauses give two reasons for everybody mocking at him. One 
is objective : so often as he speaks he can do nothing but com- 
plain of violence, so that he is ridiculed by the mass of the 
people ; and one is subjective : his preaching brings him only 

CHAP. XX. 7-13. 317 

disgrace. Most comm. refer " violence and spoiling " to the 
ill-usage the prophet experiences ; but this does not exhaust the 
reference of the words. — Ver. 9. After such bitter experiences, 
the thought arose in his soul: I will remember Him (Jahveh) 
no more, i.e. make no more mention of the Lord, nor speak in 
His name, labour as a prophet ; but it was within him as burning 
fire. The subject is not expressed, but is, as Ros. and Hitz. 
rightly say, the word of Jahveh which is held back. u i 'hut 
up in my bones " is apposition to " burning fire," for Wi$ occurs 
elsewhere also as masc, e.g. xlviii. 45, Job xx. 26, Ps. civ. 4. 
The word of God dwells in the heart ; but from there outwards 
it acts upon his whole organism, like a fire shut up in the 
hollow of his bones, burning the marrow of them (Job xxi. 24), 
so that he can no longer bear to keep silence. The perfects 
" and I said," " and (then) it was," " and I became weary," are 
to be taken as preterites, expressing events that have several 
times been repeated, and so the final result is spoken in the 
imyerf. I cannot. — Ver. 10 gives the reason for the resolution, 
adopted but not carried out, of speaking no more in the name 
of the Lord. This was found in the reports that reached his 
ears of schemes against his life. The first clause is a verbal 
quotation from Ps. xxxi. 14, a lament of David in the time of 
Saul's persecutions, na^, base, backbiting slander. The phrase : 
Fear round about, indicates, in the form of a brief popular say- 
ing, the dangerous case in which the prophet was, 1 which his 
adversaries prepare for him by their repeating : Report him, we 
will report him. Report : here, report to the authorities as a 
dangerous man. Even those who are on friendly terms with 
him lie in wait for his fall. This phrase too is formed of phrases 
from the Psalms. On "man of my peace," cf. Ps. xli. 10; on ^pV, 
Ps. xxxv. 15, xxxviii. 18 ; and on *1BK>, watch, lie in wait for, 
Ps. lvi. 7, lxxi. 10. " Peradventure " — so they said — " he may 

1 Hupfeld on Ps. xxxi. 14 holds ITQDB ">iJO to De a proverbial expres- 

■ T * T 

sion for a harassed condition, full of terrors, since the phrase is frequently 
used by Jeremiah (besides the present vers. 3, 4, and 15, it is at vi. 25, 
xlvi. 5, xlix. 29, Lam. ii. 22). The use made of it in ver. 3 would in that 
case be easily understood. For we cannot infer, as Nag. would do, that 
Jeremiah must have formed the pbrase himself, from the fact that, except 
in Ps. xxxi. 14, it is nowhere found but in Jeremiah. 


let himself be enticed," sc. to say something on which a capital 
charge may be founded (Graf). With " that we may prevail 
against him," cf. i. 19, xv. 20. — At ver. 11 the lament rises into 
confidence in the Lord, springing from the promise given to 
him by God at his call. W (for *W) mm recalls i. 19, xv. 20. 
The designation of God as T1V "^ a ? * s formed after xv. 21. 
Because the Lord has promised to deliver him out of the hand of 
the &T"!??> violent, he now calls him a hero using violence, and 
on this founds his assurance that his persecutors will accom- 
plish nothing, but will come to a downfall, to shame, and be 
covered with never-dying, never-to-be-forgotten disgrace. Be- 
cause they have dealt not wisely, i.e. foolishly, see on x. 21 ; 
not : because they did not prosper, which would give a weak, 
superfluous idea, since their not prospering lies already in W)2, 
spe frustrari. This disgrace will befall the persecutors, because 
the Lord of hosts will, as Searcher of hearts, take the part of 
the righteous, and will take vengeance on their foes. This is 
the force of ver. 12, which, with a few changes, is repeated 
from xi. 20. — In this trustfulness his soul rises to a firm hope 
of deliverance, so that in ver. 13 he can call on himself and all 
the godly to praise God, the Saviour of the poor. Cf. Ps. 
xxxi. 8, xxxv. 9, 10, 28, etc. 

Vers. 14-18. The day of his birth cursed. — Ver. 14. " Cursed 
be the day wherein I was born ! The day my mother bare me, 
let it not be blessed ! Ver. 15. Cursed be the man that brought 
the good tidings to my father, saying : A man-child is born to 
thee, who made him very glad. Ver. 16. Let that man be as 
the cities which Jahveh overthrew without repenting ; let him 
hear crying in the morning and a war-cry at noon-tide, Ver. 17. 
Because he slew me not from the womb, and so my mother 
should have been my grave, and her womb should have been 
always great. Ver. 18. Wherefore am I come forth out of the 
womb to see hardship and sorrow, and that my days should 
wear away in shame % " 

Inasmuch as the foregoing lamentation had ended in assured 
hope of deliverance, and in the praise rendered to God therefor, 
it seems surprising that now there should follow curses on the 
day of his birth, without any hint to show that at the end this 
temptation, too, had been overcome. For this reason Ew. wishes 

CHAP. XX. 14-18. 319 

to rearrange the two parts of the complaint, setting vers. 14-18 
before vers. 7-12. This transposition he holds to be so un- 
questionably certain, that he speaks of the order and numbering 
of the verses in the text as an example, clear as it is remarkable, 
of displacement. But against this hypothesis we have to consider 
the improbability that, if individual copyists had omitted the 
second portion (vers. 14-18) or written it on the margin, others 
should have introduced it into an unsuitable place. Copyists 
did not go to work with the biblical text in such an arbitrary 
and clumsy fashion. Nor is the position occupied by the piece 
in question so incomprehensible as Ew. imagines. The cursing 
of the day of his birth, or of his life, after the preceding 
exaltation to hopeful assurance is not psychologically incon- 
ceivable. It may well be understood, if we but think of the 
two parts of the lamentation as not following one another in 
the prophet's soul in such immediate succession as they do in 
the text ; if we regard them as spiritual struggles, separated 
by an interval of time, through which the prophet must succes- 
sively pass. In vanquishing the temptation that arose from the 
plots of his enemies against his life, Jeremiah had a strong 
support in the promise which the Lord gave him at his call, 
that those who strove against him should not prevail against 
him ; and the deliverance out of the hand of Pashur which he 
had just experienced, must have given him an actual proof that 
the Lord was fulfilling His promise. The feeling of this might 
fill the trembling heart with strength to conquer his temptation, 
and to elevate himself again, in the joyful confidence of faith, 
to the praising of the Lord, who delivers the soul of the poor 
from the hand of the ungodly. But the power of the tempta- 
tion was not finally vanquished by the renewal of his confidence 
that the Lord will defend him against all his foes. The un- 
success of his mission might stir up sore struggles in his soul,- 
and not only rob him of all heart to continue his labours, but 
excite bitter discontent with a life full of hardship and sorrow, 
— a discontent which found vent in his cursing the day of his 

The curse uttered in vers. 14-18 against the day of his birth, 
while it reminds us of the verses, ch. iii. 3 ff., in which Job 
curses the day of his conception and of his birth, is markedly 


distinguished in form and substance from that dreadful utter- 
ance of Job's. Job's words are much more violent and pas- 
sionate, and are turned directly against God, who lias given 
life to him, to a man whose way is hid, whom God hath hedged 
round. Jeremiah, on the other hand, curses first the day of his 
birth (ver. 14), then the man that brought his father the joyful 
news of the birth of a son (vers. 1 5—17),', because his life is 
passing away in hardship, trials, sorrow, and shame, without 
expressly blaming God as the author of that life. — Ver. 14. J 
The day on which I was born, let it be cursed and not blessed, 
sc. because life has never been a blessing to me. Job wishes 
that the day of his birth and the night of his conception may 
perish, be annihilated. — Ver. 15. (in the curse on the man that 
brought the father the news of the birth, the stress lies on the 
clause, " who made him very glad," which goes to strengthen 
"ife'3, evay<ye\i£eadcu, a clause which is subordinated to the 
principal clause without any grammatical connection (cf. Ew. 
§ 341, b). The joy that man gave the father by his news is 
become to the son a source of bitter grief. — Ver. 16. He wishes 
the fate of Sodom (Gen. xix. 25), namely ruin, to befall that 
man. Dn? N?l, and may He (Jahveh) not let it repent Him, is 
adverbially used : without feeling compunction for the destruc- 
tion, i.e. without pity. In ver. 166 destruction is depicted 
under the figure of the terrors of a town beleaguered by enemies 
and suddenly taken. ^PV], the wailing cry of the afflicted towns- 
people ; nynn, the war-cry of the enemies breaking in ; cf. 
xv. 8. — Ver. 17 tells why the curse should fall on that man : 
because (pv% causal) he slew me not from the womb, i.e. accord- 
ing to what follows : while yet in the womb, and so (Wrt with 
1 consec.) my mother would have become my grave. Logically 
considered, the subject to ^D™ can only be the man on whom 
the curse of ver. 15 is pronounced. But how could the man 
kill the child in the mother's womb ! This consideration has 
given occasion to various untenable renderings. Some have 
taken " from the womb," according to Job iii. 11, in the sense : 
immediately after birth, simul ac ex utero exiissem (Ros.). This 
is grammatically fair enough, but it does not fall in with the con- 
text ; for then the following Vav consec. must be taken as having 
the negative force " or rather," the negation being repeated in 

CHAP. XX. 11-13. 321 

the next clause again (Ros., Graf). Both these cases are gram- 
matically inadmissible. Others would supply " Jahveh" as 
subject to Wnibj or take the verb as with indefinite subject, or 
as passive. But to supply " Jahveh" is quite arbitrary ; and 
against the passive construction it must be said that thus the 
causal nexus, indicated by "IB'K, between the man on whom the 
curse is to fall and the slaying of the child is done away with, 
and all connection for the "IB'N with what precedes would be 
lost. The difficulty arising from simply accepting the literal 
meaning is solved by the consideration, that the curse is not 
levelled against any one particular person. The man that was 
present at the birth, so as to be able to bring the father the 
news of it, might have killed the child in the mother's womb.i 
Jeremiah is as little thinking how this could happen as, in the! 
next words, he is of the possibility of everlasting pregnancy. I 
His words must be taken rhetorically, not physiologically. That 1 &- 
pregnancy is everlasting that has no birth at the end of it. — In 1 
ver. 18 a reason for the curse is given, in that birth had brought n . / 

him only a life of hardship and sorrow. To see hardship, i.e. 
experience, endure it. His days pass away, vanish in shame, 
i.e. shame at the discomfiture of hopes ; for his life-callino- \ 
produces no fruit, his prophetic work is in vain, since he cannot 
save his people from destruction. / 

The curse on the day of birth closes with a sigh at the wretched- 
ness of life, without any hint that he again rises to new joyful 
faith, and without God's reprimanding him for his discontent 
as in xi. 19 f. This difficulty the comm. have not touched 
upon ; they have considered only the questions : how at all such 
a curse in the mouth of a prophet is to be defended; and whether 
it is in its right place in this connection, immediately after 
the words so full of hope as ver. 11 ff. (cf. Nag,). The latter 
question we have already discussed at the beginning of the expo- 
sition of ..these verses. As to the first, opinions differ. Some 
take the curse to be a purely rhetorical form, having no object 
whatsoever. For, it is said, the long past day of his birth is as 
little an' object on which the curse could really fall, as is the 
man who told his father of the birth of a son, — a man who in 
all probability never had a real existence (Nag.). To this 
view, ventured so early as Origen, Cor. a Lap. has justly 

VOL. I. X 


answered : obstat, quod dies ilia exstiterit fueritque creatura Dei ; 
non licet autem maledicere alicui creatures Dfii, sive ilia prossens 
sit sive praiterita. Others, as Calv., espied in this cursing quasi 
sacrilegum furorem, and try to excuse it on the ground that the 
principium hujus zeli was justifiable, because Jeremiah cursed 
the day of his birth not because of personal sufferings, sick- 
nesses, poverty, and the like, but quoniam videret se perdere 
operam, quum tamen fideliter studeret earn impendere in salutem 
populi, deinde quum videret doctrinam Dei obnoxiam esse probris 
et vituperationibus, quum videret impios ita procaciter insurgere, 
quum videret totam pietatem ita haberi ludibrio. But the sen- 
tence passed, that the prophet gravissime peccaverit ut esset con- 
tumeliosus in Deum, is a too severe one, as is also that of the 
Berleburg Bible, that " Jeremiah therein stands for an example 
of warning to all faithful witnesses for the truth, showing that 
they should not be impatient of the reproach, contempt, deri- 
sion, and mockery that befall them on that account, if God's 
long-suffering bears with the mockers so long, and ever delays 
His iudgments." For had Jeremiah sinned so grievously, God 

JO "i • 

would certainly have reproached him with his wrong-doing, as 
in xv. 19. Since that is not here the case, we are not entitled 
//to make out his words to be a beacon of warning to all witnesses 
I for the truth. Certainly this imprecation was not written for 
lour imitation ; for it is doubtless an infirmitas, as Seb. Schm. 
"'called it, — an outbreak of the striving of the flesh against the 
'spirit. But it should be to us a source of instruction and com- 
fort. From it we should, on the one hand, learn the full weight 
of the temptation, so that we may arm ourselves with prayer in 
faith as a weapon against the power of the tempter ; on the 
other hand, we should see the greatness of God's grace, which 
raises again those that are stumbling to their fall, and does not 
let God's true servants succumb under the temptation, as we 
gather from the fact, that the Lord does not cast off His servant, 
but gives him the needed strength for carrying on the heavy 
4 labours of his office.— The difficulty that there is no answer from 
the Lord to this complaint, neither by way of reprimand nor of 
consolation, as in xii. 5 £., xv. 10, 19 f., is solved when we con- 
sider that at his former complainings the Lord had said to him 
all that was needed to comfort him and raise him up again. A 


repetition of those promises would have soothed his bitterness 
of spirit for a time, perhaps, but not permanently. For the 
latter purpose the Lord was silen t, and left him time to co nquer *"> 
from within the J pmptMion that wa s crushing him down, by- 
recalling calmly the help from God he had so oitenjiitherto 
ex perienced in his labours, especially as the time was now not far 
distant in which, by the bursting of the threatened judgment 
on Jerusalem and Judah, he should not only be justified before 
his adversaries, but also j jerceive tliatJiis labour had not be en 
in vain. And that Jeremiah did indeed victoriously struggle 
against this temptation, we may gather from remembering that 
hereafter, when, especially during the siege of Jerusalem under 
Zedekiah, he had still sorer afflictions to endure, he no longer 
trembles or bewails the sufferings connected with his calling. 


These predictions are distinguished from the discourses of 
the first section, in regard to their form, by special head- 
ings assigning precisely the occasion and the date of the 
particular utterances ; and in regard to their substance, by the 
minute detail with which judgment and salvation are foretold. 
They fall into two groups. In chap, xxi.-xxix. is set forth in 
detail the judgment to be executed upon Judah and the nations 
by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon ; and in chap, xxx.-xxxiii. 
the restoration of Judah and Israel on the expiry of the period 
of punishment. 


Although these prophecies deal first and chiefly witli the 
judgment which the king of Babylon is to execute on Judah, 
yet they at the same time intimate that a like fate is in store 
for the surrounding nations. And in them there is besides a 


foreshadowing of the judgment to come on Babylon after the 
expiration of the period appointed for the domination of the 
Chaldeans, and in brief hints, of the redemption of Israel from 
captivity in Babylon and other lands into which it has been 
scattered. They consist of three prophetic pieces, of which 
the middle one only, chap, xxv., forms one lengthy continuous 
discourse, while the two others are composed of several shorter 
or longer utterances; the latter two being arranged around the 
former as a centre. In the first piece the necessity of judg- 
ment is shown by means of an exposure of the profound cor- 
ruption of the leaders of the people, the kings and the false 
prophets, and of the people itself; this being done with a view 
to check the reigning depravity and to bring back Israel to 
the true God. In the discourse of chap. xxv. the judgment is 
set forth with comprehensive generalness. In the third piece, 
chap, xxvi.-xxix., the truth of this declaration is confirmed, and 
defended against the gainsaying of priests and prophets, by a 
series of utterances which crush all hopes and all attempts to 
avert the ruin of Jerusalem and Judah. — This gathering 
together of the individual utterances and addresses into longer 
discourse-like compositions, and the grouping of them around 
the central discourse chap, xxv.,' is evidently a part of the work 
of editing the book, but was doubtless carried out under the 
direction of the prophet by his assistant Baruch. 

Chap, xxi.-xxiv. The Shepherds and Leaders of the People. 

Under this heading may be comprehended the contents of 
these four chapters : for the nucleus of this compilation is 
formed by the prophecy concerning the shepherds of the 
people, the godless last kings of Judah and the false prophets, 
in chap. xxii. and xxiii., while chap. xxi. is to be regarded as 
an introduction thereto, and chap. xxiv. a supplement. The 
aim of this portion of prophetic teaching is to show how the 
covenant people has been brought to ruin by its corrupt temporal 
and spiritual rulers, that the Lord must purge it by sore judg- 
ments, presently to fall on Judah through Nebuchadnezzar's 
instrumentality. This is to be done in order to root out the 
ungodly by sword, famine, and pestilence, and so to make the 
survivors His true people again by means of right shepherds 

chap. xxi. -xxiv. 325 

whom He will raise up in the true branch of David. The 
introduction, chap, xxi., contains deliverances regarding the 
fate of King Zedekiah, the people, and the city, addressed by 
Jeremiah, at the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the 
Chaldeans, to the men sent to him from the king, in reply to 
the request for intercession with the Lord ; the answer being 
to the effect that God will punish them according to the fruit 
of their doings. Then follow in order the discourse against 
the corrupt rulers, especially Kings Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and 
Jechoniah, chap, xxii., with a promise that the remainder of 
the Lord's flock will be gathered again and blessed with a 
righteous shepherd (xxiii. 1-8), and next threatenings against 
the false prophets (xxiii. 9-40) ; the conclusion of the whole 
being formed by the vision of the two baskets of figs, chap, 
xxiv., which foreshadows the fate of the people carried away to 
Babylon with Jehoiachin and of those that remained in the 
land with Zedekiah. — The several long constituent portions of 
this "word of God," united into a whole by the heading xxi. 1, 
belong to various times. The contents of chap. xxi. belong to the 
first period of the Chaldean siege, i.e. the ninth year of Zedekiah; 
the middle portion, chap. xxii. and xxiii., dates from the reigns 
of Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin ; the conclusion, chap, xxiv., is 
from the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, not long after 
Jehoiachin and the best part of the people had been carried off to 
Babylon. — As to the joining of chap. xxii. and xxiii. with chap, 
xxi., Ew. rightly says that Jeremiah made use of the opportunity 
furnished by the message of the king to him of speaking plainly 
out regarding the future destiny of the whole kingdom, as well 
as in an especial way with regard to the royal house, and the 
great men and leaders of the people ; and that he accordingly 
gathered into this part of the book all he had hitherto publicly 
uttered concerning the leaders of the people, both kings and 
temporal princes, and also prophets and priests. This he did 
in order to disclose, regardless of consequences, the causes for 
the destruction of the kingdom of Judah and the city Jerusalem 
by the Chaldeans ; while the brief promise of a future {ratherinc* 
again of the remnant of the scattered flock, introduced at xxiii. 
1-8, is to show that, spite of the judgment to fall on Judah 
and Jerusalem, the Lord will yet not wholly cast off His people, 


but will at a future time admit them to favour again. For 
the confirmation of this truth there is added in chap. xxiv. the 
vision of the two baskets of figs. 

Chap. xxi. The taking of Jerusalem by the Chal- 
deans. — Vers. 1 and 2. The heading specifying the occasion 
for the following "prediction. " The word of the Lord came to 
Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur the son 
of Malchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, 
saying : Inquire now of Jahveh for us, for Nebuchadrezzar 
the king of Babylon maketh war against us ; if so be that the 
Lord will deal with us according to all His wondrous works, 
that he may go up from us." The fighting of Nebuchadrezzar 
is in ver. 4 stated to be the besieging of the city. From this 
it appears that the siege had begun ere the king sent the 
two men to the prophet. Pashur the son of Malchiah is held 
by Hitz., Graf, Nag., etc., to be a distinguished priest of the 
class of Malchiah. But this is without sufficient reason ; for he 
is not called a priest, as is the case with Zephaniah the son of 
Maaseiah, and with Pashur the son of Immer (xxi. 1). Nor is 
anything proved by the circumstance that Pashur and Malchiah 
occur in several places as the names of priests, e.g. 1 Chron. 
ix. 12 ; for both names are also used of persons not priests, 
e.g. Malchiah, Ezra x. 25, 31, and Pashur, Jer. xxxviii. 1, where 
this son of Gedaliah is certainly a laic. From this passage, 
where Pashur ben Malchiah appears again, it is clear that the 
four men there named, who accused Jeremiah for his speech, 
were government authorities or court officials, since in xxxviii. 4 
they are called D" 1 ")^. Ros. is therefore right in saying of the 
Pashur under consideration : videtur tmns ex principibus sive 
aulicis fuisse, cf. xxxviii. 4. Only Zephaniah the son of 
Maaseiah is called priest ; and he, ace. to xxix. 25, xxxvii. 3, 
Hi. 24, held a high position in the priesthood. Inquire for us 
of Jahveh, i.e. ask for a revelation for us, as 2 Kings xxii. 13, 
cf . Gen. xxv. 22. It is not : pray for His help on our behalf, 
which is expressed by WTJJ2 ^5>nn, xxxvii. 3, cf. xlii. 2. In the 
request for a revelation the element of intercession is certainly 
not excluded, but it is not directly expressed. But it is on this 
that the king founds his hope : Peradventu?;e Jahveh will do 

CHAP. XXI. 3-7. 327 

with us (ttnta for ttRN) according to all His wondrous works, 
i.e. in the miraculous manner in which He has so often saved 
us, e.g. under Hezekiah, who also, during the blockade of the 
city by Sennacherib, had recourse to the prophet Isaiah and 
besought his intercession with the Lord, 2 Kinsrs xix. 2 ff., Isa. 
xxxvii. 2 ff. That he (Nebuch.) may go up from us. n?y ? to 
march against a city in order to besiege it or take it, but with 
7&Q) to withdraw from it, cf. xxxvii. 5, 1 Kings xv. 19. As to 
the name Nebuchadrezzar, which corresponds more exactly 
than the Aramaic-Jewish Nebuchadnezzar with the Nebuca- 
diirriusur of the inscriptions ("TCK ~\12 UJ, i.e. Nebo coronam 
servat), see on Dan. i. 1, p. 71. 

Vers. 3-14. The Lord's reply through Jeremiah consists of 
three parts : a. The answer to the king's hope that the Lord 
will save Jerusalem from the Chaldeans (vers. 4-7) ; b. The 
counsel given to the people and the royal family as to how 
they may avert ruin (vers. 8-12) ; c. The prediction that Jeru- 
salem will be punished for her sins (vers. 13 and 14). 

Vers. 3-7. The answer. — Ver. 3. "And Jeremiah said to them : 
Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah : Ver. 4. Thus hath Jahveh 
the God of Israel said : Behold, I turn back the weapons of war 
that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of 
Babylon and the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the 
walls, and gather them together into the midst of this city. 
Ver. 5. And I fight against you with outstretched hand and 
strong arm, and with anger and fury and great wrath, Ver. 6. 
And smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast ; of 
a great plague they shall die. Ver. 7. And afterward, saith 
Jahveh, I will give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his 
servants, and the people — namely, such as in this city are left 
of the plague, of the sword, and of the famine — into the hand 
of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of 
their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek after their 
life, that he may smite them according to the sharpness of the 
sword, not spare them, neither have pity nor mercy." This 
answer is intended to disabuse the king and his servants of all 
hope of help from God. So far from saving them from the 
Chaldeans, God will fight against them, will drive back into 
the city its defenders that are still holding out without the 


walls against the enemy ; consume the inhabitants by sword, 
pestilence, famine ; deliver the king, with his servants and all 
that survive inside the lines of the besiegers, into the hand of 
the latter, and unsparingly cause them be put to death. "I 
make the weapons of war turn back" is carried on and explained 
by " I gather them into the city." The sense is : I will bring 
it about that ye, who still fight without the walls against the 
beleaguerers, must turn back with your weapons and retreat 
into the city. " Without the walls" is not to be joined to 3p», 
because this is too remote, and pin?? is by usage locative, not 
ablative. It should go with a wherewith ye fight," etc. : where- 
with ye fight without the walls against the beleaguering enemies. 
The siege had but just begun, so that the Jews were still trying 
to hinder the enemy from taking possession of stronger positions 
and from a closer blockade of the city. In this they will not 
succeed, but their weapons will be thrust back into the city. — 
Ver. 7. The Lord will make known His almighty power not 
for the rescue but for the chastisement of Judah. The words 
"with outstretched hand and strong arm" are a standing figure 
.for the miraculous manifestation of God's power at the release 
of Israel from Egypt, Deut. iv. 34, v. 15, xxvi. 8. This power 
He will now exercise upon Israel, and execute the punishment 
threatened against apostasy at the renewal of the covenant by 
Moses in the land of Moab. The words ?i*J3 . . . &)K3 are 
from Deut. xxix. 27. The inhabitants of Jerusalem are to 
perish during the siege by pestilence and disease, and the re- 
mainder, including the king and his servants, to be mercilessly 
massacred. "Great pestilence" alone is mentioned in ver. (>, 
but in ver. 7 there are sword and famine along with it. The HXJ 
before D'nxt^n seems superfluous and unsuitable, since besides 
the king, his servants and the people, there could be none others 
left. The LXX. have therefore omitted it, and Hitz., Ew., 
Graf, and others propose to erase it. But the 1 may be taken 
to be explicative : namely, such as are left, in which case nx"> 
serves to extend the participial clause to all the persons before 
mentioned, while without the 1WI the '131 D^Kfin could be re- 
ferred only to DJ/n. " Into the hand of their enemies " is rhetori- 
cally amplified by " into the hand of those that seek," etc., as in 
xix. 7, 9, xxxiv. 20, etc. ; ^n »js£, according to the sharpness 

CHAP. XXI. 8-12. 329 

(or edge) of the sword, i.e. mercilessly (see on Gen. xxxiv. 26 ; 
in Jer. only here), explained by " not spare them," etc., cf. 
xiii. 14. 

Vers. 8-12. The counsel given to the people and royal family 
how to escape death. — Ver. 8. " And unto the people thou shalt 
say : Thus hath Jahveh said : Behold, I set before you the way 
of life and the way of death. Ver. 9. He that abideth in this 
city shall die by sword, by famine, and by pestilence ; but he 
that goeth out and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, 
he shall live, and have his soul for a prey. Ver. 10. For I have 
set my face on this city for evil and not for good, saith Jahveh ; 
into the hand of the king of Babylon shall it be given, who shall 
burn it with fire. Ver. 11. And to the house of the king of 
Judah : Hear the word of Jahveh : Ver. 12. House of David ! 
thus hath Jahveh said : Hold judgment every morning, and 
save the despoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury 
break forth as fire, and burn unquenchably, because of the evil 
of your doings." What the prophet is here to say to the people 
and the royal house is not directly addressed to the king's envoy, 
but is closely connected with the answer he was to give to the 
latter, and serves to strengthen the same. We need not be 
hampered by the assumption that Jeremiah, immediately after 
that answer, communicated this advice, so that it might be 
made known to the people and to the royal house. The counsel 
given in vers. 8-12 to the people was during the siege repeatedly 
given by Jeremiah both to the king and to the people, cf. 
xxxviii. 1 ff., xxxviii. 17 ff., and xxvii. 11 ff., and many of the 
people acted by his advice, cf. xxxviii. 19, xxxix. 9, lii. 15. 
But the defenders of the city, the authorities, saw therein 
treason, or at least a highly dangerous discouragement to 
those who were fighting, and accused the prophet as a traitor, 
xxxviii. 4 ff., cf. xxxvii. 13. Still Jeremiah, holding his duty 
higher than his life, remained in the city, and gave as his 
opinion, under conviction attained to only by divine revelation, 
that all resistance is useless, since God has irrevocably decreed 
the destruction of Jerusalem as a punishment for their sins. 
The idea of ver. 7 is clothed in words taken from Deut. xxx. 
15, cf. xi. 26. 3K>), ver. 9, as opposed to NV), does not mean : 
to dwell, but : to sit still, abide. To fall to the Chaldeans, i.e. 


to go over to them, cf. xxxvii. 14, xxxix. 9, 2 Kings xxv. 11 ; 
?y is interchanged with ?N, xxxvii. 13, xxxviii. 19, Hi. 15. 
The diet, njff is right, corresponding to JViD} ; the Keri iVM is 
wrong. His life shall be to him for a prey, i.e. he shall carry 
it thence as a prey, i.e. preserve it. Ver. 10 gives the reason for 
the advice given. For I have set my face, cf. xliv. 11, recalls 
Amos ix. 4, only there we have Wgf for ^S, as in xxiv. 6. To 
set the face or eye on one means : to pay special heed to him, 
in good (cf . xxxix. 12) or in evil sense ; hence the addition, " for 
evil," etc. — Ver. 1 1 f } The kingly house, i.e. the king and his 
family, under which are here comprehended not merely women 
and children, but also the king's companions, his servants and 
councillors ; they are counselled to hold judgment every morn- 
ing. BSfS P! = H H, v. 28, xxii. 16, or mm BQE>, Lam. iii. 
59, 1 Kings iii. 28. "l.j£lf distributively, every morning, as Amos 
iv. 4. To save the despoiled out of the hand of the oppressor 

1 According to Hitz., Gr., and Nag., the passage vers. 11-14 stands in 
no inner connection with the foregoing, and may, from the contents of it, 
be seen to belong to an earlier period than that of the siege which took 
place under Zedekiah, namely, to the time of Jehoiakim, because, a. in the 
period of chap. xxi. 1 ff. such an exhortation and conditional threatening 
must have been out of place after their destruction had been quite uncon- 
ditionally foretold to Zedekiah and the people in vers. 4-7 ; b. the defiant 
tone conveyed in ver. 13 is inconsistent with the cringing despondency 
shown by Zedekiah in ver. 2 ; c. it is contrary to what we would expect 
to find the house of the king addressed separately after the king had been 
addressed in ver. 3, the king being himself comprehended in his " house." 
But these arguments, on which Hitz. builds ingenious hypotheses, are per- 
fectly valueless. As to a, we have to remark : In vers. 4-7 unconditional 
destruction is foretold against neither king nor people ; it is only said that 
the Chaldeans will capture the city, — that the inhabitants will be smitten 
with pestilence, famine, and sword, — and that the king, with his servants 
and those that are left, will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, 
who will smite them unsparingly. But in ver. 12 the threatening is uttered 
against the king, that if he does not practise righteousness, the wrath of 
God will be kindled uncjuenchably, and, ver. 14, that Jerusalem is to be 
burnt with fire. In vers. 4-7 there is no word of the burning of the city ; 
it is first threatened, ver. 10, against the people, after the choice has been 
given them of escaping utter destruction. How little the burning of Jeru- 
salem is involved in vers. 4-7 may be seen from the history of the siege 
and capture of Jerusalem under Jehoiachin, on which occasion, too, the king, 
with his servants and the people, was given into the hand of the king ol 
Babylon, while the city was permitted to stand, and the deported king 

CHAP. XXI. 13, 14. 331 

means : to defend his just cause against the oppressor, to defend 
him from being despoiled ; cf. xxii. 3. The form of address : 
House of David, which is by a displacement awkwardly separated 
from tyfiV, is meant to remind the kingly house of its origin, its 
ancestor David, who walked in the ways of the Lord. — The 
second half of the verse, u lest my fury," etc., runs like iv. 4. 

Vers. 13 and 14. The chastisement of Jerusalem. — Ver. 13. 
u Behold, I am against thee, inhabitress of the valley, of the 
rock of the plain, saith Jahveh, ye who say : Who shall come 
down against us, and who shall come into our dwellings ? 
Ver. 14. And will visit you according to the fruit of your doings, 
saith Jahveh, and kindle a fire in her forest, that it may devour 
all her surroundings." This threatening is levelled against the 
citizens of Jerusalem, who vaunted the impregnableness of their 
city. The inhabitress of the valley is the daughter of Zion, the 
population of Jerusalem personified. The situation of the city 
is spoken of as P£>y, ravine between mountains, in respect that 

remained in life, and was subsequently set free from his captivity by Evil- 
Merodacli. But that Zedekiah, by hearkening to the word of the Lord, 
can alleviate his doom and save Jerusalem from destruction, this Jeremiah 
tells him yet later in very plain terms, chap, xxxviii. 17-23, cf. xxxiv. 4 f. 
Lastly, the release of Hebrew man-servants and maid- servants, recounted 
in chap, xxxiv. 8 ff., shows that even during the siege there were cases of an 
endeavour to turn and follow the law, and consequently that an exhortation 
to hold by the right could not have been regarded as wholly superfluous. — 
The other two arguments, b and c, are totally inconclusive. How the con- 
fidence of the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the strength of its fortifications 
(ver. 13) is contradictory of the fact related in ver. 2, does not appear. 
That Zedekiah should betake himself to the prophet, desiring him to en- 
treat the help of God, is not a specimen of cringing despondency such as 
excludes all confidence in any earthly means of help. Nor are defiance 
and despondency mutually exclusive opposites in psychological experience, 
but states of mind that rapidly alternate. Finally, Nag. seems to have 
added the last argument (c) only because he had no great confidence in the 
two others, which had been dwelt on by Hitz. and Graf. AYhy should not 
Jeremiah have given the king another counsel for warding off the worst, 
over and above that conveyed in the answer to his question (vers. 4-7) ? — 
These arguments have therefore not pith enough to throw any doubt on 
the connection between the two passages (vers. S-10, and 11, 12) indicated 
by the manner in which " and to the house (rV37i) of the king of Judah" 
points back to " and unto this people thou shalt say" (ver. 8), or to induce 
us to attribute the connection so indicated to the thoughtlessness of the 


Jerusalem was encircled by mountains of greater height (Ps. 
cxxv. 2) ; and as rock of the plain, i.e. the region regarded as 
a level from which Mount Zion, the seat of the kingdom, rose, 
equivalent to rock of the field, xvii. 3. In the " rock" we think 
specially of Mount Zion, and in the " valley," of the so-called 
lower city. The two designations are chosen to indicate the 
strong situation of Jerusalem. On this the inhabitants pride 
themselves, who say : Who shall come down against us ? nn* 
for nw, from iW; cf. Ew. § 139, c. Dwellings, cf. xxv. 30, 
not cities of refuge or coverts of wild animals ; JiVO nas nofc 
this force, but can at most acquire it from the context ; see Del. 
on Ps. xxvi. 8. The strength of the city will not shield the 
inhabitants from the punishment with which God will visit 
them. " According to the fruit," etc., cf. xvii. 10. I kindle 
fire in her forest. The city is a forest of houses, and the figure 
is to be explained by the simile in xxii. 6, but was not suggested 
by pyft = lustra ferarum (Hitz.). All her surroundings, how 
much more then the city itself ! 

Chap, xxii.-xxiii. 8. Rebuke of the ungodly kings 
Jeiioiakim and Jehoiachin, and promise of a righteous 
branch of David. — This discourse begins with an exhortation 
to the king, his servants, and the people to do right and justice, 
and to eschew all unrighteousness, and with the warning, that 
in case of the contrary the royal palace will be reduced to ruins 
and Jerusalem destroyed by fire. After touching briefly on the 
fate of Jehoahaz, who has been deported to Egypt (vers. 10-12), 
the discourse turns against Jehoiakim, rebukes his tyranny, in 
that he builds his house with unrighteousness and schemes only 
bloodshed and violence, and threatens him with io-nominious ruin 
(vers. 13-19). Then, after a threatening against Jerusalem 
(vers. 20-23), it deals with Jechoniah, who is told he shall be 
carried to Babylon never to return, and without any descendant 
to sit on his throne (vers. 24-30). Next, after an outcry of 
grief at the wicked shepherds, follows the promise that the 
Lord will gather the remnant of His flock out of all the lands 
whither they have been driven, that He will restore them to their 
fields and multiply them, and that He will raise up to them a 
good shepherd in the righteous branch of David (xxiii. 1-8). — ■ 

CHAP. XXII. 1-D. 333 

According to xxi. 1, Jeremiah spoke these words In the house 
of the king of Judah ; whence we see that in this passage we 
have not merely ideas and scraps of addresses gathered together, 
such as had been on various occasions orally delivered by the 
prophet. It further appears from ver. 10 and vers. 13-17, that 
the portion of the discourse addressed to Jehoiakim was uttered 
in the first year of his reign ; and from ver. 24, where Jechoniah 
is addressed as king, that the utterance concerning him belongs 
to the short period (only three months long) of his reign. But 
the utterance concerning Jechoniah is joined with that concern- 
ing Jehoiakim on account of the close relationship in matter 
between them. The exhortation and warning against injustice, 
forming the introduction, as regards its contents, fits very well 
into the time of Jehoiakim (cf. ver. 17 with ver. 3). The 
promise with which the discourse concludes was apparently not 
spoken till the time of Jechoniah, shortly before his being taken 
to Babylon. So that we have here the discourses of Jeremiah 
belonging to the times of Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin respec- 
tively, joined into one continuous whole. 

Chap. xxii. 1-9. The king is warned against injustice, and the 
violent oppression of the poor and defenceless. — Ver. 1. " Thus 
said Jahveh : Go down to the house of the kino; of Judah and 
speak there this word, Ver. 2. And say: Hear the word of 
Jahveh, thou king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of 
David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people, that go in by 
these gates. Ver. 3. Thus hath Jahveh said : Do ve right and 
justice, and save the despoiled out of the hand of the oppressor ; 
to stranger, orphan, and widow do no wrong, no violence ; and 
innocent blood shed not in this place. Ver. 4. For if ye will 
do this word indeed, then by the gates of this place there shall 
come in kings that sit upon the throne of David, riding in 
chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. 
Ver. 5. But if ye hearken not to these words, by myself have 
I sworn, saith Jahveh, that this house shall become a desolation. 
Ver. 6. For thus hath Jahveh said concerning the house of the 
king of Judah : A Gilead art thou to me, a head of Lebanon ; 
surely I will make thee a wilderness, cities uninhabited ; Ver. 7. 
And will consecrate against thee destroyers, each with his tools, 
who shall hew down the choice of thy cedars and cast them 


into the fire. Ver. 8. And there shall pass many peoples by 
this city, and one shall say to the other: Wherefore hath 
Jahveh done thus unto this great city ? Ver. 9. And they will 
say : Because they have forsaken the covenant of Jahveh their 
God, and worshipped other gods and served them." 

Go down into the house of the king. The prophet could go 
down only from the temple ; cf. xxxvi. 12 and xxvi. 10. Not 
only the king is to hear the word of the Lord, but his servants 
too, and the people, who go in by these gates, the gates of the 
royal castle. The exhortation : to do right and justice, etc., 
is only an expansion of the brief counsel at xxi. 12, and that 
brought home to the heart of the whole people in vii. 6, cf . Ezek. 
xxii. 6 f. The form pYM for PJPty xxi. 12, occurs only here, 
but is formed analogously to ^3, and cannot be objected to. 
^n _ ?N is strengthened by " do no violence." On " kings riding," 
etc., cf. xvii. 25. — With ver. 5 cf. xvii. 27, where, however, the 
threatening is otherwise worded. WaKb "a, cf. Gen. xxii. 16. 
"a introduces the contents of the oath. " This house" is the 
royal palace. ! " 1 f^f as in vii. 34, cf. xxvii. 17. The threaten- 
ing is illustrated in ver. 6 by further description of the destruc- 
tion of the palace. The royal castle is addressed, and, in respect 
of its lofty situation and magnificence, is called a Gilead and a 
head of Lebanon. It lay on the north-eastern eminence of 
Mount Zion (see on 1 Kings vii. 12, note 1), and contained the 
so-called forest-house of Lebanon (1 Kings vii. 2-5) and various 
other buildings built of cedar, or, at least, faced with cedar 
planks (cf. vers. 14, 23) ; so that the entire building might be 
compared to a forest of cedars on the summit of Lebanon. In 
the comparison to Gilead, Gilead can hardly be adduced in 
respect of its great fertility as a pasturing land (Num. xxxii. 1 ; 
Mic. vii. 14), but in virtue of the thickly wooded covering of 
the hill-country of Gilead on both sides of the Jabbok. This 
is still in great measure clothed with oak thickets and, according 
to Buckingham, the most beautiful forest tracts that can be 
imagined ; cf. C. v. Eaumer, Pal. S. 82. x $b DK is a particle of 

1 In 1834 Eli Smith travelled through it, and thus writes: " Jebel'Ajlun 
presents the most charming rural scenery that I have seen in Syria. A con- 
tinued forest of noble trees, chiefly the evergreen oak, covers a large part 
of it, while the ground beneath is clothed with luxuriant grass and decked 

CHAP. XXII. 10-12. 335 

asseveration. This glorious forest of cedar buildings is to 
become a " l ^1°, a treeless steppe, cities uninhabited. " Cities" 
refers to the thing compared, not to the emblem ; and the plural, 
as being the form for indefinite generality, presents no difficulty. 
And the attachment thereto of a singular predicate has many 
analogies in its support, cf. Ew. § 317, a. The Keri *3^i3 is 
an uncalled for emendation of the Cliet. VBSlfS). cf. vi. 5. — " I 

T T 7 

consecrate," in respect that the destroyers are warriors whom 
God sends as the executors of His will, see on vi. 4. With 
" a man and his weapons," cf. Ezek. ix. 2. In keeping with 
the figure of a forest, the destruction is represented as the 
hewing down of the choicest cedars ; cf. Isa. x. 34. — Thus is 
to be accomplished in Jerusalem what Moses threatened, Deut. 
xxix. 33 ; the destroyed city will become a monument of God's 
wrath against the transgressors of His covenant. Ver. 8 is 
modelled upon Deut. xxix. 23 ff ., cf. 1 Kings ix. 8 f., and made 
to bear upon Jerusalem, since, along with the palace, the city 
too is destroyed by the enemy. 

From ver. 10 onwards the exhortation to the evil shepherds 
becomes a prophecy concerning the kings of that time, who by 
their godless courses hurried on the threatened destruction. 
The prophecy begins with King Jehoahaz, who, after a reign 
of three months, had been discrowned by Pharaoh Necho anil 
carried captive to Egypt ; 2 Kings xxiii. 30-35, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 

Vers. 10-12. On Jehoahaz.— Ver. 10. "Weep not for the 
dead, neither bemoan him ; weep rather for him that is gone 
away, for he shall no more return and see the land of his birth. 
Ver. 11. For thus saith Jahveh concerning Shallum, the son 
of Josiah king of Judah, who became king in his father Josiah's 
stead, and who went forth from this place : He shall not return 
thither more ; Ver. 12. But in the place whither they have 
carried him captive, there shall he die and see this land no 
more." The clause : weep not for the dead, with which the 
prophecy on Shallum is begun, shows that the mournino- for 

with a rich variety of wild flowers. As we went from el-Husn to Ajlun 
our path lay along the summit of the mountain ; and we often overlooked 
a large part of Palestine on one side and the whole of Hauran." — Rob. Phyg, 
Geog. p. 54. 


King Josiali was kept up and was still heartily felt amongst 
the people (2 Cliron. xxxv. 24 ff.), and that the circumstances 
of his death were still fresh in their memory. D»p without the 
article, although Josiah, slain in battle at Megiddo, is meant, 
because there was no design particularly to define the person. 
Him that goes or is gone away. He, again, is defined and 
called Shallum. This Shall um, who became king in his father 
Josiah's place, can be none other than Josiah' s successor, who 
is called Joahaz in 2 Kings xxiii. 30 ff., 2 Chron. xxxvi. 1 ; as 
was seen by Chrysost. and Aben-Ezra, and, since Grotius, 
by most commentators. The only question is, why he should 
here be called Shallum. According to Frc. Junius, Hitz., and 
Graf, Jeremiah compares Joahaz on account of his short reign 
with Shallum in Israel, who reigned but one month (2 Kings 
xv. 13), and ironically calls him Shallum, as Jezebel called 
Jehu, Zimri murderer of his lord, 2 Kings ix. 31. This 
explanation is unquestionably erroneous, since irony of such a 
sort is inconsistent with what Jeremiah says of Shallum. More 
plausible seems Hgstb.'s opinion, Christ, ii. p. 401, that Jeremiah 
gives Joahaz the name Shallum, i.e. the requited (cf. Ew, 1 
Chron. vi. 13, — &?^?, 1 Chron. ix. 11), as nomen reale, to mark 
him out as the man the Lord had punished for the evil of his 
doings. But this conjecture too is overthrown by the fact, that 
in the genealogy of the kings of Judah, 1 Chron. iii. 15, we 
find among the four sons of Josiah the name Dw instead of 
Joahaz. Now this name cannot have come there from the 
present passage, for the genealogies of Chronicles are derived 
from old family registers. That this is so in the case of Josiah's 
sons, appears from the mention there of a fourth, Johanan, over 
and above the three known to history, of whom we hear nothing 
more. In the genealogical tables persons are universally men- 
tioned by their own proper names, not according to "renamings" 
or surnames, except in the case that these have received the 
currency and value of historical names, as e.g. Israel for Jacob. 
On the ground of the genealogical table 1 Chron. iii. we must 
accordingly hold that Joahaz was properly called Shallum, and 
that probably at his accession he assumed the name WKi^ 
" Jahveh sustains, holds." But Jeremiah might still have used 
the name Shallum in preference to the assumed Joahaz, because 

CHAr. xxii. 13-19. 337 

the former had verified itself in that king's fate. With ver. 
lib and 12, cf. 2 Kings xxiii. 33-35. — The brief sayino- in 
regard to Joahaz forms the transition from the general censure 
of the wicked rulers of Judah who brought on the ruin of the 
kingdom, to the special predictions concerning the ungodly- 
kings Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin, in whose time the judgment 
burst forth. In counselling not to weep for the dead king 
(Josiah), but for the departed one (Joahaz), Jeremiah does not 
mean merely to bewail the lot of the king carried prisoner to 
EgyP^ but to foreshadow the misery that awaits the whole 
people. From this point of view Calv. well says: si lugenda 
est urbis hnjus clades, potius lugendi sunt qui manebunt superstates 
quean qui morientur. Mors enim erit queisi requies, erit portus 
ad finienela omnia mala: Vita autem longior nihil aliuel erit 
quam continua miseriarum series ; and further, that in the words : 
he shall no more return and see the land of his birth, Jeremiah 
shows: exilium fore quasi tabem, quce paulatim consumat miseros 
Judosos. Ita morsfuisset illis dulcior longe, quam sic diu cruciari 
et nihil habere relaxationis. In the lot of the two kings the 
people had to recognise what was in store for itself. 

Vers. 13-19. The icoe uttered xipon Jehoiakim. — Ver. 13. 
" Woe unto him that buildeth his house with unrighteousness 
and his upper chambers with wrong, that maketh his fellow 
labour for nought, and giveth him not his hire ; Ver. 14. That 
saith : I will build me a wide house and spacious upper 
chambers, and cutteth him out many windows, and covereth it 
with cedars, and painteth it with vermilion. Ver. 15. Art thou 
a king if thou viest in cedar? Did not thy father eat and 
drink, and do right and justice? Then it went well with him. 
Ver. 16. He did justice to the poor and wretched, then it was 
well. Is not this to know me? saith Jahveh. Ver. 17. For 
on nothing are thine eyes and thy heart set but on gain and 
on the blood of the innocent, to shed it, and on oppression and 
violence, to do them. Ver. 18. Therefore thus saith Jahveh 
concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah : They 
shall not mourn for him, saying : Alas, my brother ! and alas, 
sister! they shall not mourn for him : Alas, lord! and alas for 
his glory ! Ver. 19. An ass's burial shall his burial be, dragged 
aud cast far away from the gates of Jerusalem." 

VOL. I. Y 


The prediction as to Jehoiakim begins with a woe upon the 
unjust oppression of the people. The oppression consisted in 
his building a magnificent palace with the sweat and blood of 
his subjects, whom he compelled to do forced labour without 
giving the labourers wages. The people must have felt this 
burden all the more severely that Jehoiakim, to obtain the throne, 
had bound himself to pay to Pharaoh a large tribute, the gold 
and silver for which he raised from the population according to 
Pharaoh's own valuation, 2 Kings xxiii. 33 ff. With a Woe to 
him that buildeth," etc., cf. Hab. ii. 12, Mic. iii. 10. " That 
maketh his fellow labour," lit. through his neighbour he works, 
i.e. he causes the work to be done by his neighbour (fellow-man) 
for nought, without giving him wages, forces him to unpaid 
statute-labour. 2 iny as in Lev. xxv. 39, 46. <3?S, labour, 
work, gain, then wages, cf. Job vii. 2. Jehoiakim sought to 
increase the splendour of his kingship by palace-building. To 
this the speech points, put in his mouth at ver. 14 : I will build 
me nftp rP3, a house of extensions, i.e. a palace in the grand 
style, with spacious halls, vast chambers. HViO from nrj, to find 
vent, cheer up, 1 Sam. xvi. 23; not airy, but spacious, for 
quite a modest house might have airy chambers, jnifl is a con- 
tinuation of the participle ; literally : and he cuts himself out 
windows, makes huge openings in the walls for windows. This 
verb is used in iv. 30 of opening up the eyes with paint. "WD 
presents some difficulty, seeing that the suffix of the first 
person makes no sense. It has therefore been held to be a 
contracted plural form (Gesen. Lehrgeb. S. 523) or for a dual 
(Ew. § 177, a), but without any proof of the existence of such 
formations, since ^% Amos vii. 1, Nah. iii. 17, is to be other- 
wise explained (see on Amos vii. 1). Following on the back 
of J. D. Mich., Hitz., Graf, and Bottcher (ausf. Gramm. § 414) 
propose to connect the 1 before piSD with this word and to read 
VJ&n : and tears open for himself his windows ; in support of 
which it is alleged that one cod. so reads. JBut this one cod. 
can decide nothing, and the suffix his is superfluous, even 
unsuitable, seeing that there can be no thought of another 
person's building ; whereas the copula cannot well be omitted 
before pffip. For the rule adduced for this, that the manner 
of the principal action is frequently explained by appending 

CHAP. XXII. 13-19. 339 

infinitives absoll. (E\v. § 280, a), does not meet the present case ; 
the covering with cedar, etc., does not refer to the windows, and 
so cannot be an explanation of the cutting out for himself. 
We therefore hold, with Bottcher (Proben, S. 40), that »$#! is 
an adjective formation, with the force of: abundant in 
windows, since this formation is completely accredited by Y 1 ? 
and *in (cf. Ew. § 164, c) ; and the objection alleged against 
this by Graf, that then no object is specified for u cutteth out," 
is not of much weight, it being easy to supply the object from 
the preceding " house : " and he cuts it out for himself abound- 
ing in windows. There needs be no change of i^Dl into P2D1. 
For although the infin. absol. would be quite in place as con- 
tinuation of the verb. Jin.' (cf. Ew. § 351, c), yet it is not neces- 
sary. The word is attached in zeugma to SH^I or ""-^ : an( i ^ e 
covers with cedar, not : faces or overlays, for this verb does 
not mean to plank or floor, for which nav is the usual word, 
but hide, cover, and is used 1 Kings vi. 9, vii. 3, for roofing. 
The last statement is given in infin. absol. : nftWOIj and besmears 
it, paints it (the building) with ~W&, red ochre, a brilliant colour 
(LXX. /a/Xto?, i.e. ace. to Kimchi, red lead ; see Gesen. thes. 
■ .v.). — In ver. 15 Jeremiah pursues the subject: kingship and 
kingcraft do not consist in the erection of splendid palaces, but 
in the administration of right and justice. The reproachful 
question "v^nn has not the meaning: wilt thou reign long? 
or wilt thou consolidate thy dominion ? but : dost thou suppose 
thyself to be a king, to show thyself a king, if thy aim and 
endeavour is solely fixed on the building of a stately palace ? 
" Viest," as in xii. 5. Pita, not : with the cedar, for mnn is 
construed with the accus. of that with which one vies, but : in 
cedar, i.e. in the building of cedar palaces. It was not necessary 
to say with whom he vied, since the thought of Solomon's 
edifices would suggest itself. The LXX. have changed nxn 
by a pointless quid pro quo into fnx3, iv "A%a%, for which Cod. 
Alex, and Arabs have iv ' Ayaafi. The fact that Ahab had 
built a palace veneered with ivory (1 Kings xxii. 39) is not 
sufficient to approve this reading, which Ew. prefers. Still 
less cause is there to delete PS2 as a gloss (Hitz.) in order to 
obtain the rendering, justified neither by grammar nor in fact, 
u if thou contendest with thy father." To confirm what he has 


said, the prophet sets before the worthless king the example of 
his godly father Josiah. "Thy father, did not he eat and 
drink," i.e. enjoy life (cf. Eccles. ii. 24, iii. 13) % yet at the same 
time he administered right and justice, like his forefather 
David; 2 Sam. viii. 15. Then went it well with him and the 
kingdom. 2iD TN, ver. 16, is wider than & aiD TK : in respect 
that he did justice to the poor and wretched, things went well, 
were well managed in the kingdom at large. In so doing 
consists " the knowing of me." The knowledge of Jahveh is 
the practical recognition of God which is displayed in the fear 
of God and a pious life. The infinitive nomin. ASH has the 
article because a special emphasis lies on the word (cf. Ew. § 
277, c), the true knowledge of God required to have stress laid on 
it. — But Jehoiakim is the reverse of his father. This thought, 
lying in ver. 16, is illustrated in ver. 17. For thine eyes are 
x *set upon nothing but gain. JW3, gain with the suggestion of 
unrighteousness about it, cf. vi. 13, viii. 10. His whole 
endeavour was after wealth and splendour. The means of 
attaining this aim was injustice, since he not only withheld 
their wages from his workers (ver. 13), but caused the innocent 
to be condemned in the judgment that he might grasp their 
goods to himself, as e.g. Ahab had done with Naboth. He also 
put to death the prophets who rebuked his unrighteousness, 
^ xxvi. 23, and used every kind of lawless violence. " Oppression" 
N is amplified by nxrupn (f r0 m pn, cf. Deut. xxviii. 33, 1 Sam. 
xii. 3), crushing, "what we call flaying people" (Hitz.) ; cf. on 
this subject, Mic. iii. 3.— Ver. 18 f. As punishment for this, 
his end will be full of horrors ; when he dies he will not be 
bemoaned and mourned for, and will lie unburied. To have an 
ass's burial means : to be left unburied in the open field, or cast 
into a flaying-ground, inasmuch as they drag out the dead body 
and cast it far from the gates of Jerusalem. The words : Alas, 
my brother! alas, etc. ! are ipsissima verba of the regular mourners 
who were procured to bewail the deaths of men' and women. 
The LXX. took objection to the " alas, sister," and left it out, 
applying the words literally to Jehoiakim's death ; whereas the 
words are but a rhetorical individualizing of the general idea : 
they will make no death-laments for him, and the omission 
destroys the parallelism. His glory, i.e. the king's. The idea 

CHAP. XXII. IS- 19. 311 

is : neither his relatives nor his subjects will lament his death. 
The infirm, absoll. % ; ™ ^ n °, dragging forth and casting (him), 
serve to explain : the burial of an ass, etc. In xxxvi. 30, where 
Jeremiah repeats this prediction concerning Jehoiakim, it is said : 
His dead body shall be cast out (exposed) to the heat by day 
and to the cold by night, i.e. rot unburied under the open sky. 
As to the fulfilment of this prophecy, we are told, indeed, in 
2 Kings xxiv. 6 that Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and 
Jehoiachin, his son, was king in his stead. But the phrase "to 
sleep with his fathers " denotes merely departure from this life, 
without saying anything as to the manner of the death. It is 
not used only of kings who died a peaceful death on a sickbed, 
but of Ahab (1 Kings xxii. 40), who, mortally wounded in the 
battle, died in the war-chariot. There is no record of Je- 
hoiakim's funeral obsequies or burial in 2 Kings xxiv., and 
in Chron. there is not even mention made of his death. Three 
years after the first siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and 
after he had become tributary to the king of Babylon, Jehoia- 
kim rose in insurrection, and Nebuchadnezzar sent against him 
the troops of the Chaldeans, Aramaeans, Moabites, and Ammon- 
ites. It was not till after the accession of Jehoiachin that 
Nebuchadnezzar himself appeared before Jerusalem and be- 
sieged it (2 Kings xxiv. 1, 2, and 10). So it is in the highest 
decree probable that Jehoiakim fell in battle against the 
Chaldean-Syrian armies before Jerusalem was besieged, and 
while the enemies were advancing against the city ; also that he 
was left to lie unburied outside of Jerusalem ; see on 2 Kings 
xxiv. 6, where other untenable attempts to harmonize are dis- 
cussed. The absence of direct testimony to the fulfilment of 
the prophecy before us can be no ground for doubting that it 
was fulfilled, when we consider the great brevity of the notices 
of the last kings' reigns given by the authors of the books of 
Kings and Chronicles. Graf's remark hereon is excellent : " We 
have a warrant for the fulfilment of this prediction precisely 
in the fact that it is again expressly recounted in chap, xxxvi., a 
historical passage written certainly at a later time (xxxvi. 30 
seems to contain but a slight reference to the prediction in 
xxii. 18, 19, 30) ; or, while xxii. 12, 25 ff. tallies so completely 
with the history, is xxii. 18 f. to be held as contradicting it? " 


Vers. 20-23. The ruin about to fall on Juclah. — Ver. 20. " Go 
up on Lebanon and cry, and lift up thy voice in Bashan and 
cry from Abarim ; for broken are all thy lovers. Ver. 21. I 
spake to thee in thy prosperity ; thou saidst : I will not hear ; 
that was thy way from thy youth up, that thou hearkenedst not 
to my voice. Ver. 22. All thy shepherds the wind shall sweep 
away, and thy lovers shall go into captivity ; yea, then shalt 
thou be put to shame and ashamed for all thy wickedness. 
Ver. 23. Thou that dwellest on Lebanon and makest thy nest 
on cedars, how shalt thou sigh when pangs come upon thee, 
pain as of a woman in travail S " — It is the people personified as 
the daughter of Zion, the collective population of Jerusalem 
and Judah, that is addressed, as in vii. 29. She is to lift up her 
wailing cry upon the highest mountains, that it may be heard 
far and near. The peaks of the mountain masses that bordered 
Palestine are mentioned, from which one could have a view of 
the land ; namely, Lebanon northwards, the mountains of 
Bashan (Ps. Ixviii. 16) to the north-east, those of Abarim to the 
south-east, amongst which was Mount Nebo, whence Moses 
viewed the land of Canaan, Num. xxvii. 12, Deut. xxxii. 49. 
She is to lament because all her lovers are destroyed. The 
lovers are not the kings (Ros., Ew., Neum., Nag.), nor the 
idols (Umbr.), but the allied nations (J. D. Mich., Maur., Hitz.), 
for whose favour Judah had intrigued (iv. 30) — Egypt (ii. 36) 
and the little neighbouring states (xxvii. 3). All these nations 
were brought under the yoke by Nebuchadnezzar, and could no 
longer give Judah help (xxviii. 14, xxx. 14). On the form 
■^Jfif, see Ew. 41, c. — Ver. 21. The cause of this calamity : be- 
cause Judah in its prosperity had not hearkened to the voice of 
its God. n'w, from iWj security, tranquillity, state of well- 
being free from anxiety ; the plur. denotes the peaceful, secure 
relations. Thus Judah had behaved from youth up, i.e. from 
the time it had become the people of God and been led out 
of captivity ; see ii. 2, Hos. ii. 17. — In ver. 22 njnn is chosen 
for the sake of the word-play with Sf!3?'"i, and denotes to depasture, 
as in ii. 16. As the storm-wind, especially the parching east 
wind, depastures, so to speak, the grass of the field, so will the 
storm about to break on Judah sweep away the shepherds, carry 
them off ; cf. xiii. 24, Isa. xxvii. 8, Job xxvii. 21. The shep- 

CHAP. XXII. 24-30. 343 

herds of the people are not merely the kings, but all its leaders, 
the authorities generally, as in x. 21 ; and " thy shepherds" is 
not equivalent to " thy lovers," but the thought is this : Neither 
its allies nor its leaders will be able to help ; the storm of 
calamity will sweep away the former, the latter must go captive. 
So that there is no need to alter Ipjh into ^JH (Hitz.). With 
the last clause cf. ii. 36. Then surely will the daughter of 
Zion, feeling secure in her cedar palaces, sigh bitterly. The 
inhabitants of Jerusalem are said to dwell in Lebanon and to 
have their nests in cedars in reference to the palaces of cedar 
belonging to the great and famous, who at the coming de- 
struction will suffer most. As to the forms ^rOB* and WapD., 
see on x. 17. The explanation of the form WTU is disputed. 
Ros., Ges., and others take it for the Niph. of |Jn, with the 
force : to be compassionated, thus : how deserving of pity or 
compassion wilt thou be ! But this rendering does not give a 
very apt sense, even if it were not the case that the sig. to be 
worthy of pity is not approved by usage, and that it is nowhere 
taken from the Niph. We therefore prefer the derivation of 
the word from mx, Niph. WW, contr. RIS, a derivative founded 
on the LXX. rendering : tl Karaarevd^e^, and Vulg. quomodo 
congemuisti. The only question that then remains is, whether 
the form WTO has arisen by transposition from fllTO, so as to 
avoid the coming together of the same letter at the beginning 
(E\v., Hitz., Gr.) ; or whether, with Bottch. ausf. Gramm. 
§ 1124, B, it is to be held as a reading corrupted from WUj. 
With " pangs," etc., cf. xiii. 21, vi. 24. 

Vers. 24-30. Against Jehoiachin or Jeclwniali. — Ver. 24. " As 
I live, saith Jahveh, though Conjahu, the son of Jehoiakim, 
the king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, yet 
would I pluck him thence, Ver. 25. And give thee into the 
hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them of 
whom thou art afraid, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar 
the king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans; 
Ver. 26. And will cast thee and thy mother that bare thee into 
another land where ye were not born ; and there shall ye die. 
Ver 27. And into the land whither they lift up their soul to 
return, thither shall they not return. Ver. 28. Is this man 
Conjahu a vessel despised and to be broken, or an utensil 


wherein one has no pleasure ? Ver. 29. O land, land, land, 
hear the word of Jahveh ! Ver. 30. Thus hath Jahveh said : 
Write down this man as childless, as a man that hath no pro- 
sperity in his life ; for no man of his seed shall prosper that 
sitteth upon the throne of David and ruleth widely over 

The son and successor of Jehoiakim is called in 2 Kings 
xxiv. 6ff., 2 Chron. xxxvi. 8 f ., Jer. Hi. 31, JehojacJiin, and in 
Ezek. i. 2, Jojachin ; here, vers. 24, 28, and xxxvii. 1, Conjahu ; 
in xxiv. 1, Jeconjahu ; and in xxvii. 20, xxviii. 4, xxix. 2, Esth. 
ii. 6, 1 Chron. iii. 16, Jeconjah. The names Jeconjahu and 
abbreviated Jeconjah are equivalent to Jojachin and Jehojachin, 
i.e. Jahveh will establish. Jeconjah was doubtless his original 
name, and so stands in the family register, 1 Chron. iii. 16, 
but was at his accession to the throne changed into Jeho- 
jachin or Jojachin, to make it liker his father's name. The 
abbreviation of Jeconjahu into Conjahu is held by Hgstb. 
Christol. ii. p. 402, to be a change made by Jeremiah in 
order by cutting off the "» {ivill establish) to cut off the hope 
expressed by the name, to make " a Jeconiah without the J, 
a 'God will establish' without the will." For two reasons we 
cannot adopt this as the true view : 1. The general reason, that 
if Jeremiah had wished to adumbrate the fate of the three kings 
(Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin) by making changes in 
their names, he would then have changed the name of Jehoiakim 
in like manner as he did that of Jehoahaz into Shallum, and 
that of Jehoiachin into Conjahu. The argument by which 
Hgstb. seeks to justify the exception in the one case will not 
hold its own. Had Jeremiah thought it unseemly to practise a 
kind of conceit, for however solemn a purpose, on the name of 
the then reigning monarch, then neither could he have ventured 
on the like in the case of Jehoiachin ; for the present prediction 
was not, as Hgstb. assumed, uttered before his accession, but, as 
may be seen from the title the king of Judah, ver. 24, after 
he had ascended the throne, was actually king. Besides, 2. 
the name Conjahu occurs also at xxxvii. 1, in a historical head- 
ing, as of equal dignity with Jeconjahu, xxix. 2, xxviii. 4, etc., 
where a name proper only to prophetic discourse would not have 
been in place. The passages in which the prophets express the 

CHAP. XXII. 24-30. 315 

character and destiny of a person in a name specially formed 
for the purpose, are of another kind. There we have always : 
they shall call his name, or: his name shall be; cf. xxxiii. 16, 
Isa. ix. 5, lxii. 4, Ezek. xlviii. 35. That the name JeconjaJi has 
not merely the prophet's authority, is vouched for by 1 Chron. 
iii. 15, Esth. ii. 6, and by the historical notices, Jer. xxiv. 1, 
xxvii. 20, xxviii. 4, xxix. 2. And the occurrence of the name 
Jojachin only in 2 Kings xxiv., 2 Chron. xxxvi., Jer. Iii. 31, 
and Ezek. i. 2 is in consequence of the original documents used 
by the authors of these books, where, so to speak, the official 
names were made use of ; whereas Jeremiah preferred the 
proper, original name which the man bore as the prince-royal 
and son of Jehoiakim, and which was therefore the current and 
best known one. 

The utterance concerning Jechoniah is more distinct and de- 
cided than that concerning Jehoiakim. With a solemn oath 
the Lord not only causes to be made known to him that he is to 
be cast off and taken into exile, but further, that his descendants 
are debarred from the throne for ever. Nothing is said of his 
own conduct towards the Lord. In 2 Kin^s xxiv. 9 and 
2 Chron. xxxvi. 9 it is said of him that he did that which was 
displeasing to the Lord, even as his father had done. Ezekiel 
confirms this sentence when in xix. 5-9 he portrays him as a 
young lion that devoured men, forced widows, and laid cities 
waste. The words of Jahveh : Although Conjahu were a 
signet ring on my right hand, convey no judgment as to his 
character, but simply mean : Although he were as precious a 
jewel in the Lord's eyes as a signet ring (cf. Hag. ii. 23), the 
Lord would nevertheless cast him away. *2) before CS intro- 
duces the body of the oath, as in ver. 5, and is for rhetorical 
effect repeated before the apodosis, as in 2 Sam. iii. 9, ii. 27, etc. 
Although he were, sc. what he is not ; not : although he is 
(Graf) ; for there is no proof for the remark: that as being the 
prince set by Jahveh over His people, he has really as close a 
connection with Him. Hitz.'s explanation is also erroneous : 
u even if, seeking help, he were to cling so closely to me as a 
ring does to the finger." A most unnatural figure, not sup- 
ported by reference to Cant. viii. 6. As to ;l?pfl*<, from PF)) 
with I epenth., cf. Ew. § 250, b. — From ver. 25 on, the discourse 


is addressed directly to Jechoniah, to make his rejection known 
to him. God will deliver him into the hand of his enemies, 
whom he fears, namely, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and 
the Chaldeans, and cast him with his mother into a strange land, 
where he shall die. The mother was called JVehashta, 2 Kings 
xxiv. 8, and is brought forward in xxix. 2 as rn*33. On the 
fulfilment of this threatening, see 2 Kings xxiv. 12, 15, Jer. 
xxiv. 1, xxix. 2. The construction rnfiK H?? is like that of 
n s ")D3 jaan ii. 21 ; and the absence of the article from mnx is 
no sufficient reason for holding it to be a gloss (Hitz.), or for 
taking the article in H^n to be a slip caused by psn ?y ? ver. 27. 
To lift up their souls, i.e. to direct their longings, wishes, to- 
wards a thing, cf. Deut. xxiv. 15, Hos. iv. 8, etc. — The further 
sentence on Jechoniah was not pronounced after he had been 
carried captive, as Nag. infers from the perfects vip^ and 
ti^n. The perfects are prophetic. The question : Is this 
man a vessel despised and to be broken ( 2 -W, vas fictile) % is 
an expression of sympathising regret on the part of the prophet 
for the unhappy fate of the king ; but we may not hence con- 
clude that Jeremiah regarded him as better than his father. 
The prophet's sympathy for his fate regarded less the person 
of the unfortunate king than it did the fortunes of David's 
royal seed, in that, of Jechoniah's sons, none was to sit on the 
throne of David (ver. 30). Ew. has excellently paraphrased 
the sense : " Although there is many a sympathising heart in 
the land that bitterly laments the hard fate of the dear young 
king, who along with his infant children has been (? will be) 
dragged away, yet it is God's unchangeable decree that neither 
he nor any of his sons shall ascend the throne of David." 
P23, not : broken, but : that shall be broken (cf. Ew. § 335, h). 
Wherefore are they — he and his seed — cast out ? At his acces- 
sion Jehoiachin was eighteen years old, not eight, as by an error 
stands in 2 Chron. xxxvi. 9, see on 2 Kings xxiv. 8; so that when 
taken captive, he might well enough have children, or at least one 
son, since his wives are expressly mentioned in the account of 
the captivity, 2 Kings xxiv. 15. That the sons mentioned in 
1 Chron. iii. 16 and 17 were born to him in exile, cannot be 
inferred from that passage, rightly understood , see on that 
passage. The fact that no sons are mentioned in connection with 

CHAP. XXIII. 1-8. 347 

the carrying captive is simply explained by the fact that they 
were still infants. — Ver. 29. The land is to take the king's fate 
sore to heart. The triple repetition of the summons : Land, 
gives it a special emphasis, and marks the following sentence as 
of high importance ; cf. vii. 4, Ezek. xxi. 32, Isa. vi. 3. Write 
him down, record him in the family registers, as childless, i.e. 
as a man with whom his race becomes extinct. This is more 
definitely intimated in the parallel member, namely, that he 
will not have the fortune to have any of his posterity sit on the 
throne of David. This does not exclude the possibility of his 
having sons ; it merely implies that none of them should obtain 
the throne. *}*Bj sig. lit. solitary, forsaken. Thus a man 
might well be called who has lost his children by death. Ace. 
to 1 Chron. iii. 16 f., Jechoniah had two sons, Zedekiah and 
Assir, of whom the former died childless, the second had but 
one daughter; and from her and her husband, of the line of 
Nathan, was born Shealtiel, who also died childless ; see the 
expos, of 1 Chron. iii. 16 f. Jechoniah was followed on the 
throne by his uncle Mattaniah, whom Nebuchadnezzar installed 
under the name of Zedekiah. He it was that rose in insur- 
rection against the king of Babylon, and after the capture of 
Jerusalem was taken prisoner while in flight ; and being carried 
before Nebuchadnezzar at Biblah, saw his sons put to death 
before his eyes, was then made blind, thrown in chains, and 
carried a prisoner to Babylon, 2 Kings xxv. 4 ff. 

Chap, xxiii. 1-8. The gathering again of the flock, scattered 
by the evil shepherds, by means of the righteous branch from the 
stock of David. — Ver. 1. "Woe to shepherds that destroy and 
scatter the flock of my pasturing ! saith Jahveh. Ver. 2. There- 
fore thus saith Jahveh, the God of Israel, concerning the shep- 
herds that feed my people : Ye have scattered my flock, and 
driven them away, and not visited them ; behold, I will visit on 
you the evil of your doings, saith Jahveh. Ver. 3. And I will 
gather the remnant of my flock out of all lands whither I have 
driven them, and bring them back to their pasture, that they 
may be fruitful and increase ; Ver. 4. And will raise up over 
them shepherds that shall feed them, and they shall fear no 
more, nor be dismayed, nor be lacking, saith Jahveh. Ver. 5. 
Behold, days come, saith Jahveh, that I raise up unto David a 


righteous branch, that shall reign as king, and deal wisely, and 
do right and justice in the land. Ver. 6. In his days Judah 
shall have welfare, and Israel dwell safely ; and this is his 
name whereby he shall be called : Jahveh our Righteousness. 
Ver. 7. Therefore, behold, days come, saith Jahveh, that they 
shall no more say : By the life of Jahveh who brought up the 
sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt, Ver. 8. But : By the 
life of Jahveh who brought up and led forth the seed of the 
house of Israel out of the land towards midnight, and out of all 
the lands whither I had driven them, and they shall dwell in 
their own land." 

This portion is the conclusion of the prophecy concerning the 
shepherds of Israel, ch. xxii. In vers. 1 and 2 what has been 
foretold concerning the last kings of Judah is condensed into 
one general sentence, so as thus to form a point of connection 
for the declaration of salvation which follows at ver. 3, consist- 
ing in the gathering again of the people, neglected and scattered 
by the evil shepherds, by means of the righteous branch of David. 
The Lord cries woe upon the shepherds. D'Jft without article, 
because the matter concerns all evil shepherds, and is not applied 
till ver. 2 to the evil rulers of Judah. Venema rightly says: 
Generate vce pastoribus malis pnemittitur^ quod mox ad pastores 
Judw applicatur. It is so clear from the context as to have been 
generally admitted by recent comm., that by shepherds are meant 
not merely the false prophets and priests, nor even these along 
with the kings ; cf. on iii. 15, xxv. 34 ff., and Ezek. xxxiv. The 
flock of my pasturing, in other words, the flock which I feed ; 
for nT]0 sig. both the feeding (cf. Hos. xiii. 6) and the place 
where the flock feeds, cf. xxv. 36, Ps. lxxiv. 1. Israel is called 
the flock of Jahveh's pasturing inasmuch as He exerts a special 
care over it. The flock bad shepherds, the ungodly monarchs on 
the throne of David, have brought to ruin and scattered. The 
scattering is in ver. 2, cf. with ver. 3, called a driving out into the 
lands ; but the " destroying" must be discovered from the train 
of thought, for the clause : ye have not visited them (ver. 2), 
intimates merely their neglect of the sheep committed to their 
charge. What the " destroying" more especially is, we may 
gather from the conduct of King Jehoiakim, described in xxii. 
13 ff. ; it consists in oppression, violence, and the shedding of 

CHAP. XXIII. 1-8. 349 

innocent blood ; cf. Ezek. xxxiv. 2, 3. With J3?, ver. 2, is made 
the application of the general sentence, ver. 1, to the shepherds of 
Israel. Because they are such as have scattered, driven away, 
and not visited the flock of the Lord, therefore He will punish 
in them the wickedness of their doings. In the QHN Dmpa Nv 
is summed up all that the rulers have omitted to do for the flock 
committed to their care ; cf. the specification of what they have 
not done, Ezek. xxxiv. 4. It was their duty, as Ven. truly says, 
to see ut vera religio, pabulum populi spirituale, recte et rite 
exerceretur. Instead of this, they have, by introducing idolatry, 
directly encouraged ungodliness, and the immorality which flows 
therefrom. Here in " ye have not visited them" we have the 
negative moment made prominent, so that in ver. 3 may follow 
what the Lord will do for His scattered flock. Cf. the further 
expansion of this promise in Ezek. xxxiv. 12 ff. We must note 
" I have driven them," since in ver. 2 it was said that the bad 
shepherds had driven the flock away. The one does not exclude 
the other. By their corrupting the people, the wicked shepherds 
had occasioned the driving out ; and this God has inflicted on the 
people as punishment. But the people, too, had their share in 
the guilt ; but to this attention is not here directed, since the 
question deals only with the shepherds. — Ver. 4. When the 
Lord shall gather His people out of the dispersion, then will 
He raise up shepherds over them who will so feed them that 
they shall no longer need to fear or to be dismayed before 
enemies who might be strong enough to subjugate, slay, and 
carry them captive. The figurative expressions are founded on 
the idea that the sheep, when they are neglected by the shep- 
herds, are torn and devoured by wild beasts ; cf. Ezek. xxxiv. 8. 
They shall not be lacking ; cf. for 1p3J with this force, 1 Sam. 
xxv. 7 ; in substance = not be lost. ^PS" 1 . N? is chosen with a 
view to 2nk Drnpa &6 (ver. 2) : because the shepherds did not 
take charge of the sheep, therefore the sheep are scattered and 
lost. Hereafter this shall happen no more. The question as 
to how this promise is to be accomplished is answered by vers. 5 
and 6. The substance of these verses is indeed introduced by 
the phrase : behold, days come, as something new and important, 
but not as something not to happen till after the things foretold 
in ver. 4. According to Jeremiah's usage throughout, that 


phrase does not indicate any progress in time as compared with 
what precedes, but draws attention to the weightiness of what 
is to be announced. There is also a suggestion of " the contrast 
between the hope and the existing condition of affairs, which 
does not itself justify that hope. However gloomy the present 
is, yet there is a time coming" (Hgstb.). The promise : I make 
to arise (raise up) to David a righteous branch, rests upon the 
promise, 2 Sam. vii. 12, 1 Chron. xvii. 12 : I raise up thy seed 
after thee, which shall be of thy sons — which the Lord will 
hereafter fulfil to David. 'Graf tries to show by many, but not 
tenable arguments, that nEtt has here a collective force. That 
he is wrong, we may see from the passages Zech. iii. 8 and vi. 
12, where the same " branch" foretold bv Jeremiah is called 
the man whose name is n»x ; and even without this we may 
discover the same from the context of the present passage, both 
from " He shall reign as king," and still more from : they shall 
call his name JaJiveh Tsidkenu. Neither of these sayings can 
be spoken of a series of kings. Besides, we have the passages 
xxx. 9 and Ezek. xxxiv. 23 f., xxxvii. 24, where the servant to 
be raised up to David by Jahveh is called " my servant David." 
Although then nȴ has a collective force when it means a plant 
of the field, it by no means follows that " it has always a col- 
lective force" in its transferred spiritual signification. And the 
passage, xxxiii. 17, where the promise is explained by : David 
shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of Israel (cf 
xxxiii. 21), does not prove that the branch of David is a collec- 
tive grouping together of all David's future posterity, but only 
that this one branch of David shall possess the throne for ever, 
and not, like mortal men, for a series of years only ; 2 Sam. vii. 
16. n»V denotes the Messiah, and this title is formed from 
niif n»V ; Isa. iv. 2 (see Del. on this passage). -Nor does the 
mention of shepherds in the plural, ver. 4, at all oppose this. 
An untenable rendering of the sense is : first I will raise up 
unto you shepherds, then the Messiah ; or : better shepherds, 
inprimis unum, Messiam (Ch. B. Mich.). The two promises 
are not so to be joined. First we have the raising up of good 
shepherds, in contrast to the evil shepherds that have destroyed 
the people ; then the promise is further explained to the effect 
that these good shepherds shall be raised up to David in the 

CHAP. XXIII. 1-8. 351 

" righteous branch," i.e. in the promised " seed" of his sons. 
The good shepherds are contrasted with the evil shepherds, but 
are then summed up in the person of the Messiah, as beino; 
comprised therein. The relation of the good shepherds to the 
righteous branch is not so, that the latter is the most pre-emi- 
nent of the former, but that in that one branch of David the 
people should have given to them all the good shepherds needed 
for their deliverance. ^The Messiah does not correspond to the 
series of David's earthly posterity that sit upon his throne, in 
that He too, as second David, will also have a long series of 
descendants upon His throne ; but in that His kingdom, His 
dominion, lasts for ever. In the parallel passage, xxxiii. 15, 
where the contrast to the evil shepherds is omitted, we therefore 
hear only of the one branch of David ; so in Ezek. xxxiv., where 
only the one good shepherd, the servant of the Lord, David, 
stands in contrast to the evil shepherds (ver. 23). Hence 
neither must we seek the fulfilment of our prophecy in the 
elevation of the Maccabees, who were not even of the race of 
David, nor understand, as Grot., Zerubbabel to be the righteous 
branch, but the Messiah, as was rightly understood by the Chald, 
He is P^V in contrast to the then reigning members of the house 
of David, and as He who will do right and justice in His realm ; 
cf. xxii. 15, where the same is said of Josiah as contrasted with 
his ungodly son Jehoiakim. rfco is subjoined to ?£» to bespeak 
His rule as kingship in the fullest sense of the word. Regnabit 
rex, i.e. regnabit, at non tantum appareant aliquce 
reliquioi pristince dignitatis, sed ut rex fioreat et vigeat et obtineat 
perfectionem, quails fuit sub Davide et Salomone ac multo prce- 
stantior (Calv.). Tttbn, deal prudently, rule wisely, as in iii. 15, 
not : be fortunate, prosperous. Here the context demands the 
former rendering, the only one justified by usage, since the 
doing of right and justice is mentioned as the fruit and result 
of the 73feVI. These words, too, point back to David, of whom 
it is in 2 Sam. viii. 15 said, that he as king did right and justice 
to all his people. — Ver. 6 exhibits the welfare which the 
" branch" will, by His wise and just rule, secure for the people. 
Judah shall be blessed with welfare (1^3), and Israel dwell 
safely ; that blessing will come into fulfilment which Moses set 
before the people's view in Deut. xxxiii. 28 f. IHOT as the 


totality of the inhabitants is construed as feminine, as in iii. 7, 
xiv. 2, etc. Israel denotes the ten tribes. Under the just sceptre 
of the Messiah, all Israel will reach the destiny designed for it 
by the Lord, will, as God's people, attain to full dignity and 

This is the name by which they shall call Him, the branch 
of David : Jahveh our Righteousness. The suffix in ^"lp 1 
refers to u righteous branch." Instead of the 3 pers. sing. &Hj£ 
with the suffix i, some cocld. have the plur. W*)i?\ This some 
polemical authors, such as Raim., Martini, Galatin, hold to be 
the true reading ; and they affirmed the other had proceeded 
from the Jews, with the design of explaining away the deity of 
the Messiah. The Jews translated, they said : This is the name 
whereby Jahveh will call him : Our Righteousness ; which is 
indeed the rendering of R. Saad. Gaon apad Aben Ezra, and 
of Menasse ben Israel. But this rendering is rejected by most 
Jewish coram, as being at variance with the accents, so that 
the impugned reading could not well have been invented by the 
Jews for polemical purposes, i^li?^. is attested by most codd., 
and is rendered by the LXX., so that the sense can be none 
other than : they will call the righteous branch of David 
" Jahveh our Righteousness." Most comm., including even 
Hitz., admit that the suffix refers to nDX, the principal person 
in both verses. Only Ew., Graf., and Nag. seek to refer it to 
Israel, because in xxxiii. 16 the same name is given to Jeru- 
salem. But the passage cited does not prove the case. To call 
any one by a name universally denotes in the prophetic usage : 
to set him forth as that which the name expresses ; so here : the 
branch of David will manifest Himself to the people of Israel 
as Jahve Tsidkenu. This name is variously expounded. The 
older Christian comm. understand that the Messiah is here called 
Jehovah, and must therefore be true God, and that He is called 
our righteousness, inasmuch as He justifies us by His merit. 

1 Thus the Vulg. renders : Dominus Justus noster ; and even Calv. says : 
Quicunque sine contentione et amarulentia judicant, facile vident, idem nomen 
competere in Christum, quatenus est Deus, sicuti nomen filii Davidis respectu 
"human se naturae ei tribuitur. — Omnibus xquis et moderatis hoc constabit, 
Christum hie insigniri duplici elogio, ut in eo nobis commendet prophcta lam 
deitatis gloriam, quam veritatem humanse nature; and by the righteousness 
he understands justification by the merits of Christ. 

ciiap. xxiii. i-a 353 

But the rabbinical interpreters, headed by the Chald., take the 
name to be an abbreviation of a sentence ; so e.g. Kimchi : 
Israel vocabit Messiam hoc nomine, quia ejus temporibus Domini 
justiiia nobis firma, jugis et non recedet. They appeal to xxxiii. 
17 and to other passages, such as Ex. xvii. 15, where Moses 
calls the altar " Jahveh my Banner," and Gen. xxxiii. 20, 
where Jacob gives to the altar built by him the name El elohe 
Jisrael. Hgstb. has rightly pronounced for this interpretation. 
The passages cited show how in such names an entire sentence 
is conveyed. " Jahveh my Banner" is as much as to say : This 
altar is dedicated to Jahveh my banner, or to the Almicjhtv, 
the God of Israel. So all names compounded of Jahveh; e.g. 
Jehoshua = Jahveh salvation, brief for : he to whom Jahveh 
vouchsafes salvation. So Tsidkijahu = Jahveh' s righteousness, 
for : he to whom Jahveh deals righteousness. To this corre- 
sponds Jahveh Tsidhenu: he by whom Jahveh deals right- 
eousness. We are bound to take the name thus by the parallel 
passage, xxxiii. 16, where the same name is given to Jerusalem, 
to convey the thought, that by the Messiah the Lord will make 
Jerusalem the city of righteousness, will give His righteousness 
to it, will adorn and glorify it therewith. — H^V is not to be 
referred, as it is by the ancient Church comm., to justification 
through the forgiveness of sins. With this we have not here 
to do, but with personal righteousness, which consists in de- 
liverance from all unrighteousness, and which is bound up with 
blessedness. Actual righteousness has indeed the forgiveness 
of sins for its foundation, and in this respect justification 
is not to be wholly excluded; but this latter is here subor- 
dinate to actual righteousness, which the Messiah secures for 
Israel by the righteousness of His reign. The unrighteousness 
of the former kings has brought Israel and Judah to corruption 
and ruin ; the righteousness of the branch to be hereafter raised 
up to David will remove all the ruin and mischief from Judah, 
and procure for them the righteousness and blessedness which 
is of God. — " What Jeremiah," as is well remarked by Hgstb., 
" sums up in the name Jehovah Tsidkenu, Ezekiel expands at 
length in the parallel xxxiv. 25-31 : the Lord concludes with 
them a covenant of peace ; rich blessings fall to their lot ; He 
breaks their yoke, frees them from bondage ; they do not become 
VOL. i. z 


the heathen's prey." These divine blessings are also to be con- 
ferred upon the people by means of the righteous branch. What 
the ancient Church comm. found in the name was true as to 
the substance. For as no man is perfectly righteous, so no mere 
earthly king can impart to the people the righteousness of 
Jahveh in the full sense of the term ; only He who is endowed 
with the righteousness of God. In so far the Godhead of this 
King is contained implicite in the name; only we must not 
understand that he that bore the name is called Jahveh. But 
that righteousness, as the sum of all blessing, is set before 
the people's view, we may gather from the context, especially 
from vers. 7 and 8, where it is said that the blessings to be 
conferred will outshine all former manifestations of God's 
grace. This is the sense of both verses, which, save in the 
matter of a trifling change in ver. 8, are verbally repeated 
from xvi. 14 and 15, where they have already been expounded. 1 

Chap, xxiii. 9-40. Against the false prophets.— Next 
to the kings, the pseudo-prophets, who nattered the people's 

1 The LXX. have omitted both these verses here, and have placed thern 
at the end of the chapter, after ver. 40 ; but by their contents they do not 
at all belong to that, whereas after ver. 6 they are very much in place, as 
even Hitz. admits. In the text of the LXX. handed down, ver. 6 ends 
with the words: 'IwslU Iv roig '7rpo<pY l rai:\ and 'laailix. may be said to 
correspond to tfpl)> mn\ and h -oU Trpotp-Jirutg to D^Sa?, ver. 9. Hitz. 

and Gr. therefore infer that vers. 7 and 8 were wanting also in the Heb. 
text used by the translator, and that they must have been added by way of 
supplement, most probably from another MS. This inference is thought 
to find support in the assumption that, because the Greek MSS. have no 
point between ' luaslix and lv rolg TrpoQ'/nms, therefore the Alexandrian 
translator must have joined these words together so as to make one — mean- 
ingless — sentence. A thoroughly uncritical conclusion, which could be 
defended only if the Alex, translators had punctuated their Greek text as 
we have it punctuated in our printed editions. And if a later reader of the 
LXX. had added the verses from the Hebrew text, then he would certainly 
have intercalated them at the spot where they stood in the original, i.e. 
between ver. 6 and ver. 9. Their displacement to a position after ver. 40 
is to be explained from the fact that in chap. xvi. 14 and 15 they imme- 
diately follow a threatening ; and is manifestly the work of the translator 
himself, who omitted them after ver. 6, understanding them as of threaten- 
ing import, because a threatening seemed to him to be out of place after 
ver. 6. 

CHAP. XXIII. 9-15. 355 

carnal longings, have clone most to contribute to the fall of the 
realm. Therefore Jeremiah passes directly from his discourse 
against the wicked kings to rebuking the false prophets ; and if 
we may presume from the main substance, the latter discourse 
belongs to the same time as the former. It begins 

Vers. 9-15. With a description of the pernicious 'practices of 
these jyersons. — Ver. 9. " Concerning the prophets. Broken is 
mine heart within me ; all my bones totter. I am become like 
a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, 
because of Jahveh and because of His holy words. Ver. 10. 
For of adulterers the land is full, for because of the curse the 
land withereth, the pastures of the wilderness dry up ; and their 
course is become evil, and their strength not right. Ver. 11. 
For both prophet and priest are profane ; yea, in mine house 
found I their wickedness, saith Jahveh. Ver. 12. Therefore 
their way shall be to them as slippery places in darkness, they 
shall be thrown down and fall therein ; for I bring evil upon 
them, the year of their visitation, saith Jahveh. Ver. 13. In 
the prophets of Samaria saw I folly ; they prophesied in the 
name of Baal, and led my people Israel astray. Ver. 14. 
But in the prophets of Jerusalem saw I an horrible thing, 
committing adultery and walking in falsehood, and they 
strengthen the hands of the wicked, that none returneth from 
his wickedness. They are all become to me as Sodom, and the 
inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Ver. 15. Therefore thus 
saith Jahveh of hosts concerning the prophets : Behold, I feed 
them with wormwood, and give them to drink water of bitter- 
ness ; for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone 
forth over all the land." 

" Concerning the prophets " is the heading, as in xlvi. 2, 
xlviii. 1, xlix. 1, 7, 23, 28 ; and corresponds to the woe uttered 
against the wicked shepherds, ver. 1. It refers to the entire 
portion vers. 9-40, which is thus distinguished from the oracles 
concerning the kings, chap. xxi. and xxii. It might indeed be 
joined, according to the accents, with what follows : because of 
the prophets is my heart broken ; but as the cause of Jeremiah's 
deep agitation is given at the end of the second half- verse : 
because of Jahveh, etc., it is not likely the seer would in one 
sentence have given two different and quite separate reasons. 


The brokenness of his heart denotes the profoundest inward 
emotion ; yet not despondency by reason of sin and misery, like 
"a broken heart" in Ps. xxxiv. 19, li. 19, etc., but because of 
God's wrath at the impious lives of the pseudo-prophets. This 
has overcome him, and this he must publish. This wrath had 
broken his heart and seized on all his bones, so that they 
nervelessly tremble, and he resembles a drunken man who can no 
longer stand firm on his feet. He feels himself inwardly quite 
downcast ; he not only feels the horrors of the judgment that 
is to befall the false prophets and corrupt priests who lead" the 
people astray, but knows well the dreadful sufferings the people 
too will have to endure. The verb *\n~l occurs only twice in the 
Piel besides in the present passage; in Gen. i. 2, of the Spirit 
of God that in the beginning of creation brooded over the 
waters of the earth, and Deut. xxxii. 11, of the eagle that flut- 
ters over her young, — in Arabic (—£>->, to be soft. The root 

meaning of the word is doubtless : to be flaccid ; here accord- 
ingly, to totter, to sway to and fro. " Because of Jahveh " is 
more fully explained by " because of the words of His holiness," 
i.e. the words which God as holy has made known to him 
regarding the unholy ongoings of the pseudo-prophets. — From 
ver. 10 onwards come the sayings of God which have so terribly 
agitated the prophet. The land is full of adulterers. Adultery 
in the literal sense is mentioned by way of example, as a reck- 
less transgression of God's commands, then much in vogue, 
whereby the moral foundations of the kingdom were broken 
up. In ver. 14 the prophets are said to commit adultery and 
walk in lying, cf. xxix. 23 and v. 7. By reason of this vice 
a curse lies on the land, under which it is withering away. 
The clause u for because of the curse," etc., is not to be taken 
as parenthesis (Nag.), but as co-ordinate with the previous 
clause, giving the second, or rather the chief ground, why Jere- 
miah is so deeply distressed. The reason of this is not so much 
the prevailing moral corruption, as the curse lying on the land 
because of the moral corruption of its inhabitants. n?N is not 
perjury (Chald., Kashi, Kimchi), but the curse wherewith God 
punishes the transgression of His covenant laws, cf. xi. 3, 8, 
Deut. xxviii. 15 ff., xxix. 19 ff. The words are modelled after 

CHAP. XXIII. 9-15. 357 

Isa. xxiv. 4 ff.; and Y?. i * r } is not the population, but the land itself, 
which suffers under God's curse, and which is visited with 
drought ; cf . xii. 4. The next words point to drought. 12na rrtKJ 
as in ix. 9. By Wtt the further description of the people's 
depravity is attached to the first clause of the verse. Their 
course is become evil ; their running or racing, i.e. the aim and 
endeavour of the ungodly. The suffix on this word DTfiftlD 
refers not to u adulterers," but ad sensum to the inhabitants of 
the lantl. Their strength is not-right, i.e. they are strong, 
valiant in wrong; cf. ix. 2. For — so goes ver. 11 — both prophets 
and priests, who should lead the people in the right way, are 
profane, and desecrate by their wickedness even the house of 
God, presumably by idolatry ; cf. xxxii. 34. There is no reason 
for thinking here, as Hitz. does, of adultery practised in the 
temple. — Ver. 12. For this the Lord will punish them. Their 
way shall be to them as slippery places in darkness. This 
threatening is after the manner of Ps. xxxv. 6, where SjSPn 
Bwi??0] are joined, changed by Jeremiah to the words in the 
text. The passage cited shows that we may not separate '"I73N2 
from rripr'iPc'Q, as Ew. does, to join it to the following *iW. 
Their way shall resemble slippery places in the dark, when one 
may readily slip and fall. Beside^, they are to be thrust, pushed, 
so that they must fall on the slippery path (W from nrrjj = 
nrn, Ps. xxxv. 5; "therein" to be referred to "their way"). 
The clause: "for I bring evil," etc., is formed after xi. 23. — 
Ver. 13 f. To display the vileness of the prophets, these are 
parallelized with the prophets of Samaria. The latter did 
foolishly ( n ^B^, prop, of that which is unsalted, insipid, Job vi. 6, 
hence irrational, insulsum), since they prophesied, being inspired 
by Baal the no-god, and by such prophesying led the people 
into error; cf. 1 Kings xviii. 19 ff. Much more horrible is the 
conduct of the prophets of Jerusalem, who commit adultery, 
walk in lying, and strengthen the wicked in their wickedness, 
not merely by their delusive pretences (cf. ver. 17, vi. 14, xiv. 
13), but also by their immoral lives, so that no one turns from 
his wickedness, cf. Ezek. xiii. 22. w?f is here and in xxvii. 18, 
as in Ex. xx. 20, construed, contrary to the usage everywhere 
else, not with the injin., but with the verb. Jin. As the prophets, 
instead of converting the wicked, only confirmed them in their 


sins, therefore all the inhabitants of Judah or Jerusalem are 
become as corrupt as Sodom and Gomorrah. " They all " are 
not the prophets, but the inhabitants of Judah or Jerusalem ; and 
" the inhabitants thereof" are those of the capital, cf. Deut. xxxii. 
32, Isa. i. 10. On the seducers the Lord will therefore inflict 
punishment, because impiousness has gone forth from them over 
the whole land. With the punishment threatened in ver. 15, 
cf. ix. 14. 

Vers. 16-22. Warning against the lying prophecies of the 
prophets. — Ver. 16. "Tims saith Jahveh of hosts : Hearken not 
unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you ! They 
deceive you ; a vision of their heart they speak, not out of the 
mouth of Jahveh. Ver. 17. They say still unto my despisers: 
'Jahveh hath spoken: Peace shall ye have ; ' and unto every 
one that walketh in the stubbornness of his heart they say : 
' There shall no evil come upon you.' Ver. 18. For who hath 
stood in Jahveh' s counsel, that he might have seen and heard 
His word? who hath marked my word and heard it? Ver. 19. 
Behold a tempest from Jahveh, fury goeth forth, and eddying 
whirlwind shall hurl itself upon the head of the wicked. Ver. 
20. The anger of God shall not turn till He have done and till 
He have performed the thoughts of His heart. At the end of 
the days shall ye be well awai'e of this. Ver. 21. I have not 
sent the prophets, yet they ran ; I have not spoken to them, yet 
they prophesied. Ver. 22. But if they had stood in my counsel, 
they would publish my words to my people and bring them 
back from their evil way and from the evil of their doings." 

The warning against these prophets is founded in ver. 16 on 
the fact that they give out the thoughts of their own hearts to 
be divine revelation, and promise peace and prosperity to all 
stiff-necked sinners. EySniD, lit. they make you vain, i.e. make 
you to yield yourselves to vain delusion, seduce you to false 
confidence. This they do by their speaking visions, i.e. revela- 
tions of their heart, not what God has spoken, revealed to them. 
As an illustration of this, ver. 17 tells that they prophesy con- 
tinued peace or well-being to the despisers of God. The infin. 
abs. lies after the verb. fin. intimates the duration or repetition 
of the thing, nirp ispi are words of the false prophets, with 
which they give out that their prophesyings are God's word. 

CHAP. XXIII. 16-22. 359 

Since we nowhere else find sayings of Jahveh introduced by 
mn* 1 "KM, but usually by s 1£K nb, the LXX. have taken 
offence at that formula, and, reading "»?^, join the words with 
^^'Pr : TOi? dirwOovfiivoi,*; tov \6yov Kvpiov. To this reading 
Hitz. and Gr. give the preference over the Masoretic ; but they 
have not noticed that they thus get an unsuitable sense. For 
WiT 1 "QT in prophetic language never denotes the Mosaic law 
or the "moral law" (Hitz.), but the word of God published by 
the prophets. By their view of u word of Jahveh " they would 
here obtain the self-inconsistent thought : to the despisers of 
divine revelation they proclaim as revelation. The Masoretic 
reading is clearly right ; and Jeremiah chose the unusual 
introductory formula to distinguish the language of the pseudo- 
prophets from that of the true prophets of the Lord. *3 SJ?n"?ai 
is prefixed absolutely : and as concerning every one that walks 
. . . they say, for : and to every one . . . they say. On the 
" stubbornness of their heart," see on iii. 17. With the speech 
of the false prophets, cf. xiv. 13 and vi. 14. — In ver. 18 a more 
comprehensive reason is given to show that these prophets are 
not publishing God's decrees. The question : Who hath stood ? 
has negative force = None hath stood. By this Jeremiah does 
not deny the possibility of this universally, but only of the 
false prophets (Hitz.). This limitation of the words is suggested 
by the context. To the true prophets the Lord reveals His *iio, 
Amos iii. 7. $9?fy fttT^I are not to be taken jussively : let him 
see and hear (Hitz.), for the foregoing interrogation is not a 
conditional clause introducing a command. The imperfects 
with \ are clauses of consequence or design, and after a pre- 
ceding perfect should be rendered in English by the conditional 
of the pluperfect. Seeing the word of God refers to prophetic 
vision. The second question is appended without at all convey- 
ing any inference from what precedes ; and in it the second verb 
(with 1 consec.) is simply a strengthening of the first : who hath 
hearkened to my word and heard it ? The Masoretes have quite 
unnecessarily changed the Cliet. *"W into FOT. In the graphic 
representation of the prophets, the transition to the direct speech 
of God, and conversely, is no unusual thing. The change of J8385»1 
into BOB^j unnecessary and even improper as it is, is preferred 
by Graf and Nag., inasmuch as they take the interrogative ^ 


in both clauses in the sense of quisquis and understand the 
verse thus : He who has but stood in the counsel of the Lord, 
let him see and hear His word (i.e. he must see and hear His 
word) ; and he that hath marked my word, let him publish it 
{i.e. he must publish it). This exposition becomes only then 
necessary, if we leave the context out of view and regard the 
question as being to the effect that no one has stood in God's 
counsel — which Jeremiah could not mean. Not to speak of the 
change of the text necessary for carrying it through, this view 
does not even give a suitable sense. If the clause : He that 
has stood in the counsel of the Lord, he must proclaim His 
word, is to be regarded as having a demonstrative force, then 
the principal idea must be supplied, thus namely : " and it is 
impossible that it should be favourable to those who despise it." 
In ver. 19 Jeremiah publishes a real word of the Lord, which 
sounds very differently from the words of the false prophets. 
A tempest from Jahveh will burst over the heads of the 
evil-doers, and the wrath of God will not cease until it has 
accomplished the divine decree. "A tempest from Jahveh" 
is defined by " fury " in apposition as being a manifestation of 
God's wrath ; and the whole first clause is further expanded in 
the second part of the verse. The tempest from Jahveh goes 
forth, i.e. breaks out, and as whirling tornado or ecldvin^ 
whirlwind bursts over the head of the wicked. 3*rP is to be 
taken in accordance with ??i n n*? : twist, whirl, cf. 2 Sam. iii. 29. 
"The thoughts of His heart" must not be limited to what God 
has decreed de interitu pojndi (Calv.) ; it comprehends God's 
whole redemptive plan in His people's regard — not merely the 
overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, but also the purification 
of the people by means of judgments and the final glorification 
of His kingdom. To this future the next clause points : at the 
end of the days ye shall have clear knowledge of this. " The 
end of the days" is not merely the completion of the period in 
which we now are (Hitz., Gr., Nag., etc.), but, as universally, 
the end of the times, i.e. the Messianic future, the last period 
of the world's history which opens at the close of the present 
seon ; see on Gen. xlix. 1, Num. xxiv. 14, etc. $311 n is 
strengthened by nj"3 : attain to insight, come to clearer know- 
ledge. — Ver. 21 f. From the word of the Lord proclaimed in 

CHAP. XXIII. 23-32. 361 

ver. 19 f. it appears that the prophets who prophesy peace or 
well-being to the despisers of God are not sent and inspired by- 
God. If they had stood in the counsel of God, and so had 
truly learnt God's word, they must have published it and turned 
the people from its evil way. This completely proves the 
statement of ver. 16, that the preachers of peace deceive the 
people. Then follows — 

Vers. 23-32, in continuation, an intimation that God knows 
and will punish the lying practices of these prophets. — Ver. 23. 
" Am I then a God near at hand, saith Jahveh, and not a God 
afar off ? Ver. 24. Or can any hide himself in secret, that I 
cannot see him? saith Jahveh. Do not I fill the heaven and 
the earth? saith Jahveh. Ver. 25. I have heard what the 
prophets say, that prophesy falsehood in my name, saying : I 
have dreamed, I have dreamed. Ver. 26. How long? Have they 
it in their mind, the prophets that prophesy falsehood in my 
name, and the prophets of the deceit of their heart, Ver. 27. 
Do they think to make my people forget my name by their 
dreams which they tell one to the other, as their fathers forgot 
my name by Baal? Ver. 28. The prophet that hath a dream, 
let him tell a dream ; and he that hath my word, let him speak 
my word in truth. What is the straw to the corn ? saith Jahveh. 
Ver. 29. Is not thus my word — as fire, saith Jahveh, and as a 
hammer that dasheth the rock in pieces ? Ver. 30. Therefore, 
behold, I am against the prophets that steal my words one from 
the other. Ver. 31. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith 
Jahveh, that take their tongues and say : God's word. Ver. 32. 
Behold, I am against the prophets that prophesy lying dreams, 
saith Jahveh, and tell them, and lead my people astray with 
their lies and their boasting, whom yet I have not sent nor 
commanded them, and they bring no good to this people, saith 

The force of the question : Am I a God at hand, not afar off? 
is seen from what follows. Far and near are here in their 
local, not their temporal signification. A God near at hand is 
one whose domain and whose knowledge do not extend far ; a 
God afar off, one who sees and works into the far distance. The 
question, which has an affirmative force, is explained by the 
statement of ver. 24 : I fill heaven and earth. Hitz. insists on 


understanding "near at hand" of temporal nearness, after 
Deut. xxxii. 17 : a God who is not far hence, a newly appeared 
God ; and he supposes that, since in the east, from of old, 
knowledge is that which is known by experience, therefore the 
greatness of one's knowledge depends on one's advancement in 
years (Job xv. 7, 10, xii. 12, etc.) ; and God, he says, is the 
Ancient of days, Dan. vii. 9. But this line of thought is 
wholly foreign to the present passage. It is not wealth of 
knowledge as the result of long life or old age that God 
claims for Himself in ver. 24, but the power of seeing into that 
which is hidden so that none can conceal himself from Him, 
or omniscience. The design with which God here dwells on 
His omniscience and omnipresence too (cf. 1 Kings viii. 27, Isa. 
Ixvi. 1) is shown in ver. 25. The false prophets went so far 
with their lying predictions, that it might appear as if God did 
not hear or see their words and deeds. The Lord exposes this 
delusion by calling His omniscience to mind in the words : I 
have heard how they prophesy falsehood in my name and say, 
I have dreamed, i.e. a dream sent by God, have had a revela- 
tion in dreams, whereas according to ver. 26 the dream was 
the deceit of their heart — " spun out of their own heart" 
{Hitz.). Ver. 26 is variously interpreted. Hitz. supposes that 
the interrogative n (in t^H) is made subordinate in the clause, 
and that the question is expressed with a double interrogative. 
He translates : How r long still is there anything left in the heart 
of the prophets? as much as to say: how long have they 
materials for this ? But there is a total want of illustrations in 
point for this subordination and doubling of the interrogative ; 
and the force given to the K>1 is quite arbitrary, since we should 
have had some intimation of what it w r as that was present in 
their hearts. Even then the repetition of the interrogative 
particles is unexplained, and the connecting of t^ with a parti- 
ciple, instead of with the infinitive with ?, cannot be defended 
by means of passages where ?nn is joined with an adjective 
and the idea " to be " has to be supplied. L. de Dieu, fol- 
lowed by Seb. Schmidt, Ch. B. Mich., Ros., Maur., Umbr., 
Graf, was right in taking " How long " by itself as an aposio- 
pesis : how long, sc. shall this go on % and in beginning a new 
question with K£C|. a question, continued snd completed by the 

CHAP. XXIII. 23-32. 363 

further question : "Do they think," etc., ver. 27. Is it in the 
heart of the prophets, i.e. have the prophets a mind to prophesy 
falsehood? do they mean to make men forget my name? 
Against holding ver. 27 as a resumption of the question there is 
no well-founded objection. Nag. affirms that after cn^nn we 
must in that case have here En as recapitulation of the subject ; 
but that is rendered unnecessary by the subject's being con- 
tained in the immediately preceding words. The conjecture 
propounded by Nag., to change B*n into K^n : how long still is 
the fire in the heart of the prophets ? needs no refutation. To 
make to forget the name of the Lord is : so to banish the Lord, 
as seen in His government and works, from the people's heart, 
that He is no longer feared and honoured. By their dreams 
which they relate one to the other, i.e. not one prophet to the 
other, but the prophet to his fellow-man amongst the people. 
£>g33, because of the Baal, whom their fathers made their god, 
cf. Judg. iii. 7, 1 Sam. xii. 9 f. — These lies the prophets ought 
to cease. Ver. 28. Each is to speak what he has, what is given 
him. He that has a dream is to tell the dream, and he that 
has God's word should tell it. Dream as opposed to w T ord of 
the Lord is an ordinary dream, the fiction of one's own heart ; 
not a dream-revelation given by God, which the pseudo-prophets 
represented their dreams to be. These dreams are as different 
from God's word as straw is from corn. This clause is sup- 
ported, ver. 29, by a statement of the nature of God's word. 
It is thus (nb), namely, as fire and as a hammer that smashes the 
rocks. The sense of these words is not this : the word of God 
is strong enough by itself, needs no human addition, or : it will 
burn as fire the straw of the man's word mixed with it. There 
is here no question of the mixing of God's word with man's 
word. The false prophets did not mingle the two, but gave out 
their man's word for God's. Nor, by laying stress on the in- 
dwelling power of the word of God, does Jeremiah merely give 
his hearers a characteristic by which they may distinguish 
genuine prophecy ; he seeks besides to make them know that 
the word of the Lord which he proclaims will make an end of 
the lyino- prophets' work. Thus understood, ver. 29 forms a 
stepping-stone to the threatenings uttered in vers. 30-32 against 
the lying prophets. The comparison to fire does not refer to 


the reflex influence which the word exerts on the speaker, so as 
that we should with Kashi and Ros. cf. xx. 9 ; the fire comes 
before us as that which consumes all man's work that will not 
stand the test ; cf. 1 Cor. iii. 12 ff. The comparison to a 
hammer which smashes the rock shows the power of God, 
which overcomes all that is earthly, even what is firmest and 
hardest ; cf. Heb. iv. 12. Its effect and accomplishment no- 
thing can hinder. — Vers. 30-32. Threatening of punishment. 
J3? does not connect with ver. 29, but with the main idea of the 
previous verses, the conduct of the false prophets there ex- 
posed. ?V "■MHj behold, I will be against them, will come upon 
them as an enemy; cf. Ezek. v. 8. The practice of these prophets 
is characterized in three ways, yet without marking out three 
classes of unworthy men. One habit of theirs is that of steal- 
ing the word of God one from another. Not inspired of God 
themselves, they tried to appropriate words of God from other 
prophets in order to give their own utterances the character of 
divine oracles. Another is : they take their tongues and say, 
God's word, i.e. they use their tongues to speak pretended words 
from God. The verb *£X3* occurs only here ; elsewhere only 
the participle DW, and that almost always joined with nw in 
the sig. effatum Domini; here without it, but in the same sense. 
The root meaning of DNJ is disputed. Connected etymologically 
with DiTJ, HDII, it doubtlessly denotes originally, that which is 
whispered, Jahveh's secret confidential communication ; but it 
is constantly used, not for the word of God as silently inspired 
by God, but as softly uttered by the prophet. The meaning is 
not : their prophesying is " mere wagging of the tongue, talk 
according to their own caprice" (Graf); but: they give out 
their sayings for God's, whereas God speaks neither to nor by 
them. Finally, their third way of doing consists in feigning 
revelations by means of dreams, which are but deceptive dreams. 
At this point the discourse falls back on the description in 
ver. 26. The words " and lead my people astray" refer to all 
their three ways of acting before characterized. rwns is their 
boasting of revelations from God. Then comes 

Vers. 33-40. A rebuke of their mockery at Jeremialis threat- 
ening predictions. — Ver. 33. " And when this people, or the 
prophet, or a priest ask thee, saying : What is the burden of 

cm?, xxiii. 33-10. 365 

J ah veh? then say to them: What the burden is — now I will 
cast you off, saith Jahveh. Ver. 34. And the prophet, the 
priest, and the people that shall say : burden of Jahveh, on 
that man will I visit it and on his house. Ver. 35. Thus shall 
ye say each to the other, and each to his brother : What hath 
Jahveh answered, and what hath Jahveh spoken 1 Ver. 36. 
But burden of Jahveh shall ye mention no more, for a burden 
to every one shall his own word be ; and ye wrest the words of 
the living God Jahveh of hosts, our God. Ver. 37. Thus 
shalt thou say to the prophet : What hath Jahveh answered 
thee, and what hath He spoken ? Ver. 38. But if ye say : 
burden of Jahveh, therefore thus saith Jahveh : Because ye say 
this word : burden of Jahveh, and yet I have sent unto you, say- 
ing, Ye shall not say : burden of Jahveh ; Ver. 39. Therefore, 
behold, I will utterly forget you, and cast away from my face 
you and this city that I gave you and your fathers, Ver. 40. 
And will lay upon you everlasting reproach, and everlasting, 
never-to-be-forgotten disgrace." 

The word KfcO, from N^J, lift up, bear, sig. burden, and, like 
the phrase : lift up the voice, means a saying of weighty or 
dread import. The word has the latter sig. in the headings to 
the prophecies of threatening character ; see on Nah. i. 1, where 
this meaning of the word in the headings is asserted, and the 
widespread opinion that it means effatum is refuted, v Jeremiah's 
adversaries — as appears from these verses — used the word 
(t burden " of his prophetic sayings by way of mockery, mean- 
ing burdensome prophecies, in order to throw ridicule on the 
prophet's speeches, by them regarded as offensive. Thus if the 
people, or a prophet, or a priest ask : What is the burden of 
Jahveh, i.e. how runs it, or what does it contain ? he is to 
answer : The Lord saith : I will cast you off, i.e. disburden my- 
self of you, as it were — the idea of u burden " being kept up in 
the answer to the question. The article on the word prophet is 
used to show that the word is used generally of the class of 
prophets at large. The ns in the answering clause is nota 
accus., the following phrase being designedly repeated from 
the question ; and hence the unusual combination itDTlK. The 
sense is : as regards the question what the burden is, I will 
cast you away. There is no reason to alter the text to fit the 


LXX. translation : vfiei<; icrre to Xrjfx/xa, or Vulg. : vos estis 
onus, as Cappell., J. D. Mich., Hitz., Gr., etc., do. The LXX. 
rendering is based, not on another reading, but on another divi- 
sion of the words, viz. Kb>Dn DDK. — In ver. 34 the meaning of 
this answer is more fully explained. On every one that uses 
the word " burden " in this sneering way God will avenge the 
sneer, and not only on his person, but on his house, his family 
as well. In ver. 35 they are told how they are to speak of 
prophecy. Ver. 36. They are no longer to make use of the 
phrase " burden of Jahveh," " for the burden shall his word 
be to each one," i.e. the word " burden " will be to each who 
uses it a burden that crushes him down. "And ye wrest," 
etc., is part of the reason for what is said : and ye have = for 
ve have wrested the words of the livino; God. The clause is 
properly a corollary which tells what happens when they use 
the forbidden word. — Vers. 38-40. In case they, in spite of the 
prohibition, persist in the use of the forbidden word, i.e. do not 
cease their mockery of God's word, then the punishment set 
forth in ver. 33 is certainly to come on them. In the threat 
Nfc'j Opns WBfo there is a manifestly designed word-play on NtPO. 
LXX., Vulg., Syr. have therefore rendered as if from Nb>3 WKtt 
(or "ANEW) instead : eyeb Xa^jBava), ego tollam vos jyortans. One 
cod. gives xtM, and Ew., Hitz., Graf, Nag., etc., hold this read- 
ing to be right; but hardly with justice. The Chald. has 
expressed the reading of the text in its Btoio |i31V cntrix, e t 
relinquam vos relinquendo. And the form "WfcJb is explained 
only by reading xtW (ntw) ; not by KtW, for this verb keeps its 
N everywhere, save with the one exception of ^EW, Ps. xxxii. 1, 
formed after the parallel ^D2. The assertion that the reading 
in the text gives no good sense is unfounded. I will utterly 
forget you is much more in keeping than : I will utterly lift 
you up, carry you forth. — With ver. 40, cf. xx. 11. 

Chap. xxiv. The two fig baskets — an emblem of the 
future of Judah's people. — Ver. 1 . " Jahveh caused me to see, 
and behold two baskets of figs set before the temple of Jahveh, 
after Nebuchadrezzar had carried captive Jechoniah, the son of 
Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, and the 
work-people and the smiths from Jerusalem, and had brought 

CHAP. XXIV. 367 

them to Babylon. Ver. 2. One basket had very good figs like the 
early figs, the other basket very bad figs, which could not be eaten 
for badness. Ver. 3. And Jahveh said to me: What seestthou, 
Jeremiah? and I said: Figs; the good figs are very good, and the 
bad figs very bad, which cannot be eaten for badness. Ver. 4. 
Then came the word of Jahveh unto me, saying : Ver. 5. Thus 
saith Jahveh, the God of Israel : Like these good figs, so will I 
look on the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this 
place into the land of the Chaldeans, for good ; Ver. 6. And I 
will set mine eye upon them for good, and will bring them back 
again to this land, and build them and not pull down, and plant 
them and not pluck up. Ver. 7. And I give them an heart to 
know me, that I am Jahveh ; and they shall be my people, and 
I will be their God ; for they will return unto me with their 
whole heart. Ver. 8. And as the bad figs, which cannot be 
eaten for badness, yea thus saith Jahveh, so will I make 
Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes and the residue of 
Jerusalem, them that are left remaining in this land and them 
that dwell in Egypt. Ver. 9. I give them up for ill-usage, for 
trouble to all kingdoms of the earth, for a reproach and a by- 
word, for a taunt and for a curse in all the places whither I 
shall drive them. Ver. 10. And I send among them the sword, 
the famine, and the plague, till they be consumed from off the 
land that I cave to them and to their fathers." 

This vision resembles in form and substance that in Amos 
viii. 1-3. The words : Jahveh caused me to see, point to an 
inward event, a seeing with the eyes of the spirit, not of the 
body. The time is, ver. 1, precisely given : after Nebuchad- 
nezzar had carried to Babylon King Jechoniah, with the princes 
and a part of the people ; apparently soon after this deporta- 
tion, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, the king set up 
by Nebuchadnezzar over Judah. Cf. 2 Kings xxiv. 14-17. — 
The Lord caused the prophet to see in spirit two baskets of 
figs (DWTO, from *W, equivalent to *m t ver. 2), D*1JR0 (from W) 
in the place appointed therefor (*WE) before the temple. We 
are not to regard these figs as an offering brought to Jahveh 
(Graf) ; and so neither are we to think here of the place where 
first-fruits or tithes were offered to the Lord, Ex. xxiii. 19 f., 
Deut. xxvi. 2. The two baskets of figs have nothing to do with 


first-fruits. They symbolize the people, those who appear before 
the Lord their God, namely, before the altar of burnt- 
offering ; where the Lord desired to appear to, to meet with 
His people ("WiJ, Ex. xxix. 42 f.), so as to sanctify it by His 
glory, Ex. xxix. 43. D^JftD therefore means : placed in the 
spot appointed by the Lord for His meeting with Israel. — 
Ver. 2. " The one basket very good figs " is short for : the 
basket was quite full of very good figs ; cf. Friedr. W. M. 
Philippi, on the Nature and Origin of the Status constr. in 
Hebrew (1871), p. 93. The comparison to early figs serves 
simply to heighten the idea of very good; for the first figs, 
those ripened at the end of June, before the fruit season in 
August, were highly prized dainties. Cf. Isa. xxviii. 4, Hos. 
ix. 10. — Ver. 3. The question : what seest thou % serves merely 
to give the object seen greater prominence, and does not imply 
the possibility of seeing wrong (Nag.). — Ver. 4 ff. The inter- 
pretation of the symbol. Ver. 5. Like the good figs, the Lord 
will look on the captives in Chaldea for good ("for good" 
belongs to the verb " look on them "). The point of resem- 
blance is : as one looks with pleasure on good figs, takes them 
and keeps them, so will I bestow my favour on Judah's cap- 
tives. Looking on them for good is explained, ver. 6 : the 
Lord will set His eye on them, bring them back into their land 
and build them up again. With " build them," etc., cf. i. 10. 
The building and planting of the captives is not to consist 
solely in the restoration of their former civil well-being, but will 
be a spiritual regeneration of the people. God will give them 
a heart to know Him as their God, so that they may be in 
truth His people, and He their God. " For they will return," 
not : when they return (E\v., Hitz.). The turning to the Lord 
cannot be regarded as the condition of their receiving favour, 
because God will give them a heart to know Him ; it is the 
working of the knowledge of the Lord put in their hearts. And 
this is adduced to certify the idea that they will then be really 
the Lord's people. — Vers. 8-10. And as one deals with the bad 
uneatable figs, i.e. throws them away, so will the Lord deliver 
up to ignominious ruin Zedekiah with his princes and the 
remainder of the people, both those still staying in the land and 
those living in Egypt. This, the fate awaiting them, is more 

CHAP. XXV. 1, 2. 309 

fully described in vers. 9 and 10. In ver. 8 the " yea, thus 
saith," is inserted into the sentence by way of repetition of 
the " thus saith," ver. 5. |flK }3 is resumed and expanded by 
D'FlftH in ver. 9. The " princes " are Zedekiah's courtiers. 
Those in Egypt are they who during the war had fled thither 
to hide themselves from judgment. From the beginning of 
ver. 9 to Y^Fl * s verbally the same as xv. 4, save that njn? is 
added to make more marked the contrast to H2iD? ver. 5 — the 
evil, namely, that is done to them. Hitz., Ew., Umbr., Gr., 
following the LXX., delete this word, but without due cause. 
The further description of the ill-usage in " for a reproach," 
etc., is based on Deut. xxviii. 37 ; and is intensified by the 
addition of " and for an object of cursing," to show that in their 
case the curse there recorded will be fulfilled. From the last 
words, according to which disgrace will light on them in all the 
lands they are driven into, it appears that captivity will fall to 
the lot of such as are yet to be found in the land. But cap- 
tivity involves new hostile invasions, and a repeated siege and 
capture of Jerusalem ; during which many will perish by 
sword, famine, and plague. Thus and by deportation they 
shall be utterly rooted out of the land of their fathers. Of. 
xxix. 17 ff., where Jeremiah repeats the main idea of this 

Chap. xxv. The Judgment on Judah and cdl Nations. 

The prediction of this chapter is introduced by a full heading, 
which details with sufficient precision the time of its composi- 
tion. Ver. 1. " The word that came (befell) to (?TS for ^X) 
Jeremiah concerning the whole people of Judah, in the fourth 
year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that is, 
the first year of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon ; Ver. 2. 
Which Jeremiah the prophet spake to the whole people of 
Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying." — All 
the discourses of Jeremiah delivered before this time contain 
either no dates at all, or only very general ones, such as iii. 6 : 
In the days of Josiah, or : at the beginning of the reign of 
Jehoiakim (xxvi. 1). And it is only some of those of the fol- 
lowing period that are so completely dated, as xxviii. 1, xxxii. 1, 
xx.wi. 1, xxxix. 1, etc. The present heading is in this further 

VOL. I. 2 A 


respect peculiar, that besides the year of the king of Judah's 
reign, we are also told that of the king of Babylon. This is 
suggested by the contents of this prediction, in which the people 
are told of the near approach of the judgment which Nebuchad- 
nezzar is to execute on Judah and on all the surrounding 
nations far and near, until after seventy years judgment fall on 
Babylon itself. The fourth year of Jehoiakim is accordingly 
a notable turning-point for the kingdom of Judah. It is called 
the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, because then, 
at the command of his old and decrepit father Nabopolassar, 
Nebuchadnezzar had undertaken the conduct of the war against 
Pharaoh Necho of Egypt, who had penetrated as far as the 
Euphrates. At Carchemish he defeated Necho (xlvi. 2), and 
in the same year he came in pursuit of the fleeing Egyptians to 
Judah, took Jerusalem, and made King Jehoiakim tributary. 
With the first taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the 
fourth year of Jehoiakim, i.e. in 606 B.C., begins the seventy 
years' Babylonian bondage or exile of Judah, foretold by Jere- 
miah in ver. 11 of the present chapter. Nebuchadnezzar was 
then only commander of his father's armies ; but he is here, 
and in 2 Kings xxiv. 1, Dan. i. 1, called king of Babylon, 
because, equipped with kingly authority, he dictated to the Jews, 
and treated them as if he had been really king. Not till the 
following year, when he was at the head of his army in Farther 
Asia, did his father Nabopolassar die ; whereupon he hastened 
to Babylon to mount the throne ; see on Dan. i. 1 and 1 Kings 
xxiv. 1. — In ver. 2 it is again specified that Jeremiah spoke the 
word of that Lord that came to him to the whole people and to 
all the inhabitants of Jerusalem (?y for ?8 again). There is 
no cogent reason for doubting, as Graf does, the correctness of 
these dates. Chap, xxxvi. 5 tells us that Jeremiah in the same 
year caused Baruch to write down the prophecies he had 
hitherto delivered, in order to read them to the people assembled 
in the temple, and this because he himself was imprisoned ; but 
it does not follow from this, that at the time of receiving this 
prophecy he was prevented from going into the temple. The 
occurrence of chap, xxxvi. falls in any case into a later time of 
Jehoiakim's fourth year than the present chapter. Ew., too, 
finds it very probable that the discourse of this chapter was, in 

CHAP. XXV. 1, 2. 371 

substance at least, publicly delivered. The contents of it tell 
strongly in favour of this view. 

It falls into three parts. In the first, vers. 3-11, the people 
of Judah are told that he (Jeremiah) has for twenty-three years 
long unceasingly preached the word of the Lord to the people 
with a view to their repentance, without Judah's having paid 
any heed to his sayings, or to the exhortations of the other 
prophets, so that now all the kings of the north, headed by 
Nebuchadnezzar, will come against Judah and the surrounding 
nations, will plunder everything, and make these lands tributary 
to the king of Babylon ; and then, vers. 12-14, that after seventy- 
years judgment will come on the king of Babylon and his land. 
In the second part, vers. 15-29, Jeremiah receives the cup of 
the Lord's wrath, to give it to all the people to drink, beginning 
with Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, proceeding to the 
Egyptians and the nationalities in the west and east as far as 
Elam and Media, and concluding with the king of Babylon. 
Then in the third part, vers. 30-38, judgment to come upon all 
peoples is set forth in plain statement.— The first part of this 
discourse would have failed of its effect if Jeremiah had only 
composed it in writing, and had not delivered it publicly before 
the people, in its main substance at least. And the two other 
parts are so closely bound up with the first, that they cannot be 
separated from it. The judgment made to pass on Judah by 
Nebuchadnezzar is only the beginning of the judgment which 
is to pass on one nation after another, until it culminates in 
judgment upon the whole world. As to the import of the judg- 
ment of the Babylonian exile, cf. the remm. in the Comm. on 
Daniel, Introd. § 2. The announcement of the judgment, whose 
beginning was now at hand, was of the highest importance for 
Judah. Even the proclamations concerning the other peoples 
were designed to take effect in the first instance on the covenant 
people, that so they might learn to fear the Lord their God 
as the Lord of the whole world and as the Euler of all the 
peoples, who by judgment is, preparing the way for and ad- 
vancing the salvation of the whole world. The ungodly were, 
by the warning of what was to come on all flesh, to be terrified 
out of their security and led to turn to God ; while by a know- 
ledge beforehand of the coming affliction and the time it was 


appointed to endure, the God-fearing would be strengthened 
with confidence in the power and grace of the Lord, so that 
they might bear calamity with patience and self-devotion as a 
chastisement necessary to their well-being, without taking false 
views of God's covenant promises or being overwhelmed by 
their distresses. 

Vers. 3-11. The seventy years' Chaldean bondage of Jadak 
and the peoples. — Ver. 3. " From the thirteenth year of Josiah, 
son of Amon king of Judah, unto this day, these three and 
twenty years, came the word of Jahveh to me, and I spake to 
you, from early morn onwards speaking, but ye hearkened not. 
Ver. 4. And Jahveh sent to you all His servants, the prophets, 
from early morning on sending them, but ye hearkened not, 
and inclined not your ear to hear. Ver. 5. They said : Turn 
ye now each from his evil way and from the evil of your doings, 
so shall ye abide in the land which Jahveh hath given to your 
fathers from everlasting to everlasting. Ver. 6. And go not 
after other gods, to serve them and to worship them, that ye 
provoke me not with the work of your hands, and that I do you 
no evil. Ver. 7. But ye hearkened not to me, to provoke me 
by the work of your hands, to your own hurt. Ver. 8. There- 
fore thus hath said Jahveh of hosts : Because ye have not 
heard my words, Ver. 9. Behold, I send and take all the families 
of the north, saith Jahveh, and to Nebuchadrezzar my servant 
(I send), and bring them upon this land, and upon its inhabi- 
tants, and upon all these peoples round about, and ban them, 
and make them an astonishment and a derision and everlasting 
desolations, Ver. 10. And destroy from among them the voice 
of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the 
mill and the light of the lamp. Ver. 11. And this land shall 
become a desert, a desolation, and these peoples shall serve the 
king of Babylon seventy years." 

The very beginning of this discourse points to the great crisis 
in the fortunes of Judah. Jeremiah recalls into the memory 
of the people not merely the whole time of his own labours 
hitherto, but also the labours of many other prophets, who, like 
himself, have unremittingly preached repentance to the people, 
called on them to forsake idolatry and their evil ways, and 
to return to the God of their fathers— but in vain (vers. 3-7). 

CHAP. XXV. 3-11. 373 

The 23 years, from the 13th of Josiah till the 4th of Jehoiakim, 
are thus made up : 19 years of Josiah and 4 years of Jehoiakim, 
including the 3 months' reign of Jehoahaz. The form B*3l?K 
might be an Aramaism ; but it is more probably a clerical error, 
since we have Q2*^n everywhere else ; cf. ver. 4, vii. 13, xxxv. 14, 
etc., and Olsh. Gramm. § 191, g. For syntactical reasons it can- 
not be 1st pers. imp erf., as Hitz. thinks it is. On the significance 
of this injin. abs. see on vii. 13. As to the thought of ver. 4 
cf. vii. 25 f. and xi. 7 ff. "foK? introduces the contents of the 
discourses of Jeremiah and the other prophets, though formally 
it is connected with np^l, ver. 4. As to the fact, cf. xxxv. 15. 
33E^, so shall ye dwell, cf. vii. 7. — With ver. 6 cf. vii. 6, i. 16, 
etc. (JHK, imperf. Hiph. from JJjn). *3*DJ«n cannot be the 
reading of its diet., for the 3d person will not do. The l seems 
to have found its way in by an error in writing and the Keri 
to be the proper reading, since JJH?? is construed with the infini- 
tive. — Ver. 8. For this obstinate resistance the Lord will cause 
the nations of the north, under Nebuchadrezzar's leadership, to 
come and lay Judah waste. " All the families of the north" 
points back to all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, 
i. 14. . '3133 7^1 cannot be joined with " and take," but must 
depend from n7b> in such a way that that verb is again re- 
peated in thought. E\v. proposes to read nxi according to some 
codd., especially as Syr., Chald., Vulg. have rendered by an 
accusative. Against this Graf has justly objected, that then 
Nebuchadnezzar would be merely mentioned by the way as in 
addition to the various races, whereas it is he that brings these 
races and is the instrument of destruction in God's hand. 
Ew.'s reading is therefore to be unhesitatingly rejected. No 
valid reason appears for pronouncing the words : and to Nebu- 
chadrezzar . . . my servant, to be a later interpolation (Hitz., 
Gr.) because they are not in the LXX. There is prominence 
given to Nebuchadnezzar by the very change of the construc- 
tion, another " send" requiring to be repeated before " to Nebu- 
chadrezzar." God calls Nebuchadnezzar His servant, as the 
executor of His will on Judah, cf. xxvii. 6 and xliii. 10. The 
" them" in " and bring them " refers to Nebuchadnezzar and 
the races of the north. " This land" is Judah, the nxjn being 
SeiKTiKo)? ; so too the corresponding "wn, " all these peoples 


round about ;" so that we need have no doubt of the genuine- 
ness of the demonstrative. The peoples meant are those round 
about Judah, that are specified in vers. 19-25. C^PIt!?, used 
frequently in Deuteronomy and Joshua for the extirpation of 
the Canaanites, is used by Jeremiah, besides here, only in the 
prophecy against Babylon, 1. 21, 26, li. 3. With ntJtHffe !T8B& 
cf. xix. 8, xviii. 16 ; the words cannot be used of the peoples, 
but of the countries, which have been comprehended in the 
mention of the peoples. With " everlasting desolations," cf. 
xlix. 13, Isa. lviii. 12, lxi. 4. — With ver. 10 cf. xvi. 9, vii. 34. 
But here the thought is strengthened by the addition : the sound 
of the mill and the light of the lamp. Not merely every sound of 
joyfulness shall vanish, but even every sign of life, such as could 
make known the presence of inhabitants. — Ver. 11. The land 
of Judah shall be made waste and desolate, and these peoples 
shall serve the king of Babylon for seventy years. The time indi- 
cated appertains to both clauses. " This land" is not, with Nag., 
to be referred to the countries inhabited by all the peoples men- 
tioned in ver. 9, but, as in ver. 9, to be understood of the land 
of Judah ; and " all these peoples" are those who dwelt around 
Judah. The meaning is unquestionably, that Judah and the 
countries of the adjoining peoples shall lie waste, and that 
Judah and these peoples shall serve the king of Babylon ; but 
the thought is so distributed amongst the parallel members of 
the verse, that the desolation is predicated of Judah only, the 
serving only of the peoples — it being necessary to complete each 
of the parallel members from the other. 

The term of seventy years mentioned is not a so-called round 
number, but a chronologically exact prediction of the duration 
of Chaldean supremacy over Judah. So the number is under- 
stood in 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21, 22 ; so too by the prophet Daniel, 
when, Dan. ix. 2, in the first year of the Median king Darius, 
he took note of the seventy years which God, according to the 
prophecy of Jeremiah, would accomplish for the desolation of 
Jerusalem. The seventy years may be reckoned chronologically. 
From the 4th year of Jehoiakim, i.e. 606 B.C., till the 1st year 
of the sole supremacy of Cyrus over Babylon, i.e. 536 B.C., gives 
a period of 70 years. This number is arrived at by means of 
the dates given by profane authors as well as those of the his- 

CHAP. XXV. 12-14. 375 

torians of Scripture. Nebuchadnezzar reigned 43 years, his 
son Evil-Merodach 2 years, Neriglissor 4 years, Labrosoarchad 
(according to Berosus) 9 months, and Naboned 17 years 
(43 + 2 + 4 + 17 years and 9 months are 66 years and 9 months). 
Add to this 1 year, — that namely which elapsed between the time 
when Jerusalem was first taken by Nebuchadnezzar, and the 
death of Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar's accession, — add 
further the 2 years of the reign of Darius the Mede (see on 
Dan. vi. 1), and we have 69f years. With this the biblical 
accounts also agree. Of Jehoiakim's reign these give 7 years 
(from his 4th till his 11th year), for Jehoiachin's 3 months, for 
the captivity of Jehoiachin in Babylon until the accession of 
Evil-Merodach 37 years (see 2 Kings xxv. 27, according to which 
Evil-Merodach, when he became king, set Jehoiachin at liberty 
on the 27th day of the 12th month, in the 37th year after he 
had been carried away). Thus, till the beginning of Evil- 
Merodach' s reign, we would have 44 years and 3 months to 
reckon, thence till the fall of the Babylonian empire 23 years 
and 9 months, and 2 years of Darius the Mede, i.e. in all 70 
years complete. — But although this number corresponds so 
exactly with history, it is less its arithmetical value that is of 
account in Jeremiah ; it is rather its symbolical significance as 
the number of perfection for God's works. This significance 
lies in the contrast of seven, as the characteristic number for 
works of God, with ten, the number that marks earthly com- 
pleteness ; and hereby prophecy makes good its distinguishing 
character as contrasted with soothsaying, or the prediction of 
contingent matters. The symbolical value of the number comes 
clearly out in the following verses, where the fall of Babylon is 
announced to come in seventy years, although it took place two 
years earlier. 

Vers. 12-14. The overthrow of the king of Babylon'' s sovereignty. 
— Ver. 12. "But when seventy years are accomplished, I will 
visit their iniquity upon the king of Babylon and upon that 
people, saith Jahveh, and upon the land of the Chaldeans, and 
will make it everlasting desolations. Ver. 13. And I bring 
upon that land all my words which I have spoken concerning it, 
all that is written in this book, that Jeremiah hath prophesied 
concerning all peoples. Ver. 14. For of them also shall many 


nations and great kings serve themselves, and I will requite 
them according to their doing and according to the work of 

o o o 

their hands." 

The punishment or visitation of its iniquity upon Babylon 
was executed when the city was taken, after a long and difficult 
siege, by the allied Medes and Persians under Cyrus' command. 
This was in B.C. 538, just 68 years after Jerusalem was taken 
by Nebuchadnezzar for the first time. From the time of the 
fall of Babylon the sovereignty passed to the Medes and 
Persians ; so that the dominion of Babylon over Judah and the 
surrounding nations, taken exactly, lasted 68 years, for which 
the symbolically significant number 70 is used. The Masoretes 
have changed the diet. ''flNIin into ' , ns3n (Keri), because the 
latter is the usual form and is that which alone elsewhere occurs 
in Jeremiah, cf. iii. 14, xxxvi. 31, xlix. 36 f. ; whereas in ver. 9 
they have pointed D'nwri, because this form is found in Isa. 
lvi. 7, Ezek. xxxiv. 13, and Neh. i. 9. — The second half of the 
13th verse, from "all that is written" onwards, was not, of 
course, spoken by Jeremiah to the people, but was first added 
to explain "all my words," etc., when his prophecies were 
written down and published. Ver. 14. The perfect VHV is to 
be regarded as a prophetic present. 3 13V, impose labour, 
servitude on one, cf. xxii. 13, i.e. reduce one to servitude. D3 
fttSH is an emphatic repetition of the pronoun D2, cf. Gesen. 
§ 121, 3. Upon them, too (the Chaldeans), shall many peoples 
and great kings impose service, i.e. they shall make the Chal- 
deans bondsmen, reduce them to subjection. With " I will 
requite them," cf. 1. 29, li. 24, where this idea is repeatedly 
expressed. 1 

1 Vers. 11&-14 are pronounced by Hitz., Ew., Graf to be spurious and 
interpolated ; but Hitz. excepts the second half of ver. 14, and proposes to 
set it immediately after the first half of ver. 11. Their main argument is 
the dogmatic prejudice, that in the fourth year of Jehoiakim Jeremiah 
could not have foretold the fall of Babylon after seventy years' domination. 
The years foretold, says Hitz., " would coincide by all but two years, or. if 
Darius the Mede be a historical person, perhaps quite entirely. Such cor- 
respondence between history and prophecy would be a surprising accident, 
or else Jeremiah must have known beforehand the number of years during 
which the subjection to Babylon would last." Now the seventy years of 
Babylon's sovereignty are mentioned again in xxix. 10, where Jeremiah 

CHAP. XXV. 13-23. B77 

Vers. 15-29. The cup of God's fury. — Ver. 15. " For thus 
hath Jahveh, the God of Israel, said to me : Take this cup of 
the wine of fury at my hand, and give it to drink to all the 
peoples to whom I send thee, Ver. 16. That they may drink, 
and reel, and be mad, because of the sword that 1 send amongst 
them. Ver. 17. And I took the cup at the hand of Jahveh, 
and made all the peoples drink it to whom Jahveh had sent me : 
Ver. 18. Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, and her kings, 
her princes, to make them a desolation and an astonishment, 
an hissing and a curse, as it is this day ; Ver. 19. Pharaoh the 

promises the exiles that after seventy years they shall return to their native 
land, and no doubt is thrown by the above-mentioned critics on this state- 
ment ; but there the seventy years are said to be a so-called round number, 
because that prophecy was composed nine years later than the present one. 
But on the other hand, almost all comm. have remarked that the utterance 
of xxix. 10: "when as for Babylon seventy years are accomplished, will I 
visit you," points directly back to the prophecy before us (xxv.), and so gives 
a testimony to the genuineness of our 11th verse. And thus at the same 
time the assertion is disposed of, that in xxix. 10 the years given are a round 
number ; for it is not there said that seventy years will be accomplished from 
the time of that letter addressed by the prophet to those in Babylon, but the 
terminus a quo of the seventy years is assumed as known already from the 
present twenty-fifth chap. — The other arguments brought forward by 
Hitz. against the genuineness of the verse have already been pronounced 
inconclusive by Nag. Nevertheless Nag. himself asserts the spuriousness, 
not indeed of ver. 116 (the seventy years' duration of Judah's Babylonian 
bondage), but of vers. 12-14, and on the following grounds: — 1. Although 
in ver. 11, and below in ver. 26, it is indicated that Babylon itself will not 
be left untouched by the judgment of the Lord, yet (he says) it is incredihlo 
that in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the prophet could have spoken of the 
fall of Babylon in such a full and emphatic manner as is the case in vers. 
12-14. But no obvious reason can be discovered why this should be 
incredible. For though in ver. 26 Jeremiah makes use of the name Sheshach 
for Babylon, it does not hence follow that at that moment he desired to 
speak of it only in a disguised manner. In the statement that the Jews 
should serve the king of Babylon seventy years, it was surely clearly enough 
implied that after the seventy years Babylon's sovereignty should come to 
an end. Still less had Jeremiah occasion to fear that the announcement 
of the fall of Babylon after seventy years would confirm the Jews in their 
defiant determination not to be tributary to Babylon. The prophets of the 
Lord did not suffer themselves to be regulated in their prophesyings by 
such reasons of human expediency. — 2. Of more weight are his other two 
arguments. Vers. 12 and 13 presume the existence of the prophecy against 
Babylon, chap. 1. and li., which was not composed till the fourth year of 


king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his 
people ; Ver. 20. And all the mixed races and all the kings 
of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, 
Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod ; Ver. 21. 
Edom, and Moab, and the sons of Amnion ; Ver. 22. All the 
kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the 
islands beyond the sea; Ver. 23. Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, 
and all with the corners of their hair polled ; Ver. 24. And all 
the kincrs of Arabia, and all the kin^s of the mixed races that 
dwell in the wilderness ; Ver. 25. All the kings of Zimri, and 
all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media ; Ver. 26. 

Zedekiah ; and the second half of ver. 13 presumes the existence of the 
other prophecies against the nations, and that too as a ~iSD. And although 

the greater number of these prophecies are older than the time of the battle 
at Carchemish, yet we may see (says Nag.) from the relation of apposition 
in which the second half of ver. 13 stands to the first, that here that Seplier 
against the peoples is meant in which the prophecy against Babylon was 
already contained. But from all this nothing further follows than that the 
words: "all that is written in this book and that Jeremiah prophesied 
against the peoples," were not uttered by Jeremiah in the fourth year of 
Jehoiakim, but were first appended at the editing of the prophecies or the 
writing of them down in the book which has come down to us. The 
demonstrative pi-in does by no means show that he who wrote it regarded 

the present passage, namely chap, xxv., as belonging to the Seplier 
against the peoples, or that the prophecies against the peoples must have 
stood in immediate connection with chap. xxv. It only shows that the 
prophecies against the peoples too were found in the book which contained 
chap. xxv. Agaiu, it is true that the first half of ver. 14 occurs again 
somewhat literally in xxvii. 7 ; but we do uot at all see in this reliable 
evidence that Jeremiah could not have written ver. 14. Nag. founds this 
conclusion mainly on the allegation that the per/, ifjuy is wrong, whereas 

in xxvii. 7 it is joined regularly by 1 consec. to the indication of time which 
precedes. But the perfect is here to be regarded as the prophetic present, 
marking the future as already accomplished in the divine counsel ; just as in 
xxvii. 6 the categorical '»nn3 represents as accomplished that which in 

• - T 

reality yet awaited its fulfilment. Accordingly we regard none of these 
arguments as conclusive. On the other hand, the fact that the Alexandrian 
translators have rendered vers. 12 and 13, and have made the last clause of 
ver. 13 the heading to the oracles against the peoples, furnishes an unex- 
ceptionable testimony to the genuineness of all three verses. Nor is this 
testimony weakened by the omission in that translation of ver. 14 ; for this 
verse could not but be omitted when the last clause of ver. 13 had been taken 
as a heading, since the contents of ver. 14 were incompatible with that view. 

CHAP. XXV. 15-29. 379 

And all the kings of the north, near and far, one with another, 
and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of 
the earth ; and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them. 
Ver. 27. And say to them : Thus hath Jahveh, the God of 
Israel, said : Drink and be drunken, and spue, and fall and 
rise not up again, because of the sword which I send among 
you. Ver. 28. And if it be that they refuse to take the cup 
out of thine hand to drink, then say to them : Thus hath Jahveh 
of hosts said : Drink ye shall. Ver. 29. For, behold, on the 
city upon which my name is named I begin to bring evil, and 
ye think to go unpunished? Ye shall not go unpunished; for 
I call the sword against all inhabitants of the earth, saith 
Jahveh of hosts." 

To illustrate more fully the threatening against Judah and 
all peoples, ver. 9 ff., the judgment the Lord is about to execute 
on all the world is set forth under the similitude of a flagon 
filled with wrath, which the prophet is to hand to all the kings 
and peoples, one after another, and which he does give them 
to drink. The symbolical action imposed upon the prophet 
and, ace. to ver. 17, performed by him, serves to give emphasis 
to the threatening, and is therefore introduced by ''3 ; of which 
Graf erroneously affirms that it conveys a meaning only when 
vers. 116-14 are omitted. Giving the peoples to drink of the 
cup of wrath is a figure not uncommon with the prophets for 
divine chastisements to be inflicted ; cf. xlix. 12, li. 7, Isa. li. 17, 
22, Ezek. xxiii. 31 ff., Hab. ii. 15, Ps. Ix. 5, lxxv. 9, etc. The 
cup of wine which is wrath (fury), nonn is an explanatory 
apposition to "wine." The wine with which the cup is filled 
is the wrath of God. riNtn belongs to Di3, which is fern., cf. 
Ezek. xxiii. 32, 34, Lam. iv. 21, whereas iniK belongs to the 
wine which is wrath. In ver. 16, where the purpose with 
which the cup of wrath is to be presented is given, figure is 
exchanged for fact : they shall reel and become mad because 
of the sword which the Lord sends amidst them. To reel, 
sway to and fro, like drunken men. ^"N? 1 ?, demean oneself 
insanely, be mad. The sword as a weapon of war stands often 
for war, and the thought is : war with its horrors will stupefy 
the peoples, so that they perish helpless and powerless. — Ver. 17. 
This duty iir posed by the Lord Jeremiah performs; he takes 


the cup and makes all peoples drink it. Here the question has 
been sucffested, how Jeremiah performed this commission : 
whether he made journeys to the various kings and peoples, or, 
as J. D. Mich, thought, gave the cup to ambassadors, who 
were perhaps then in Jerusalem. This question is the result 
of an imperfect understanding of the case. The prophet does 
not receive from God a flagon filled with wine which he is to 
give, as a symbol of divine wrath, to the kings and peoples ; 
he receives a cup filled with the wrath of God, which is to 
intoxicate those that drink of it. As the wrath of God is no 
essence that may be drunk by the bodily act, so manifestly the 
cup is no material cup, and the drinking of it no act of the 
outer, physical reality. The whole action is accordingly only 
emblematical of a real work of God wrought on kings and 
peoples, and is performed by Jeremiah when he announces 
what he is commanded. And the announcement he accom- 
plished not by travelling to each of the nations named, but by 
declaring to the king and his princes in Jerusalem the divine 
decree of judgment. 

The enumeration begins with Judah, ver. 18, on which first 
judgment is to come. Along with it are named Jerusalem, the 
capital, and the other cities, and then the kings and princes ; 
whereas in what follows, for the most part only the kings, or, 
alternating with them, the peoples, are mentioned, to show that 
kings and peoples alike must fall before the coming judgment. 
The plural " kings of Judah " is used as in xix. 3. The 
consequence of the judgment: to make them a desolation, etc., 
runs as in vers. 9, 11, xix. 8, xxiv. 9. ^n UV3 has here the 
force : as is now about to happen. — Ver. 19 ff. The enumera- 
tion of the heathen nations begins with Egypt and goes north- 
wards, the peoples dwelling to the east and west of Judah being 
ranged alongside one another. First we have in ver. 20 the 
races of Arabia and Philistia that bordered on Egypt to the 
east and west ; then in ver. 21 the Edomites, Moabites, and 
Ammonites to the east, and, ver. 22, the Phoenicians with their 
colonies to the west. Next we have the Arabian tribes of the 
desert extending eastwards from Palestine to the Euphrates 
(vers. 23, 24) ; then the Elamites and Medes in the distant east 
(ver. 25), the near and distant kings of the north, and all 

CHAP. XXV. 15-29. 381 

kingdoms upon earth ; last of all the king of Babylon (ver 26). 
anyrrfej. LXX. : TrdvTas tou? o-uyLt/xt/CToy?, and Jerome : cunctus- 
que qui non est Aegyptius, sed in ejus regionibus commoratur. The 
word means originally a mixed multitude of different races 
that attach themselves to one people and dwell as strangers 
amongst them ; cf. Ex. xii. 38 and Neh. xiii. 3. Here it is 
races that in part dwelt on the borders of Egypt and were in 
subjection to that people. It is rendered accordingly " vassals " 
by Ew. ; an interpretation that suits the present verse very 
well, but will not do in ver. 24. It is certainly too narrow a 
view, to confine the reference of the word to the mercenaries 
or Ionian and Carian troops by whose help Necho's father 
Psammetichus acquired sole supremacy (Graf), although this 
be the reference of the same word in Ezek. xxx. 5. The land 
of Uz is, ace. to the present passage and to Lam. iv. 21, where 
the daughter of Edom dwells in the land of Uz, to be sought 
for in the neighbourhood of Idumsea and the Egyptian border. 
To delete the words "and all the kings of the land of Uz" as 
a gloss, with Hitz. and Gr., because they are not in the LXX., 
is an exercise of critical violence. The LXX. omitted them 
for the same reason as that on which Hitz. still lays stress — 
namely, that they manifestly do not belong to this place, but to 
ver. 23. And this argument is based on the idea that the land 
of Uz (AvaiTLs) lies much farther to the north in Arabia 
Deserta, in the Hauran or the region of Damascus, or that it 
is a collective name for the whole northern region of Arabia 
Deserta that stretches from Idumcea as far as Syria; see Del. 
on Job i. 1, and Wetzstein in Del.'s Job, S. 536 f. This is 
an assumption for which valid proofs are not before us. The 
late oriental legends as to Job's native country do not suffice 
for this. The kings of the land of the Philistines are the 
kings of the four towns next in order mentioned, with their 
territories, cf. Josh. xiii. 3, 1 Sam. vi. 4. The fifth of the towns 
of the lords of the Philistines, Gath, is omitted here as it was 
before this, in Amos i. 7 f. and Zeph. ii. 4, and later in Zech- 
ix. 5, not because Gath had already fallen into premature 
decay ; for in Amos' time Gath was still a very important city. 
It is rather, apparently, because Gath had ceased to be the 
capital of a separate kingdom or principality. There is remain- 


ing now only a remnant of Ashdod ; for after a twenty-nine years' 
siege, this town was taken by Psammetichus and destroyed 
(Herod, ii. 157), so that thus the whole territory greatly lost 
its importance. Ver. 21. On Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites, 
cf. chap. xlix. 7-22, xlviii. 1, xlix. 1-6. Ver. 22. The plural : 
" kings of Tyre and Sidon," is to be understood as in ver. 18. 
With them are mentioned "the kin^s f the island" or "of the 
coast" land, that is, beyond the (Mediterranean) Sea. ^H is 
not Kvirpos (Cyprus), but means, generally, the Phoenician 
colonies in and upon the Mediterranean. Of the Arabian 
tribes mentioned in ver. 23, the Dedanites are those descended 
from the Cushite Dedan and living near Edom, with whom, 
however, the Abrahamic Dedanites had probably mingled ; a 
famous commercial people, Isa. xxi. 13, Ezek. xxvii. 15, 20, 
xxxviii. 13, Job vi. 19. Tenia is not Tenia, beyond the Hauran 
(Wetzst. Reiseber. S. 21 and 93 ff. ; cf. on the other hand, the 
same in Del.'s Job, S. 526), but Tenia situated on the pilgrims' 
route from Damascus to Mecca, between Tebuk and Wadi el 
Kora, see Del. on Isa. xxi. 14; here, accordingly, the Arabian 
tribe settled there. Buz is the Arabian race sprung from the 
second son of Nahor. As to "hair-corners polled," see on ix. 
25. — The two appellations 3"]y and " the mixed races that dwell 
in the wilderness " comprehend the whole of the Arabian races, 
not merely those that are left after deducting the already (ver. 
23) mentioned nomad tribes. The latter also dwelt in the 
wilderness, and the word 31JJ is a general name, not for the 
whole of Arabia, but for the nomadic Arabs, see on Ezek. 
xxvii. 21, whose tribal, chieftains, here called kings, are in 
Ezek. called D'WbO. In ver. 25 come three very remote peoples 
of the east and north-east : Zimri, Elamites, and Mecles. The 
name Zimri is found only here, and has been connected by the 
Syr. and most comm. with Zimran, Gen. xxv. 2, a son of 
Abraham and Keturah. Accordingly "HOT would stand for 
^"JBT, and might be identified with Zaftpdjj,, Ptol. vi. 7, § 5, a 
people which occupied a territory between the Arabs and Per- 
sians — which would seem to suit our passage. The reference 
is certainly not to the ^e/n^plrac in Ethiopia, in the region of 
the later priestly city Meroe (Strabo, 786). On Elam, see on 
xlix. 34 ff. — Finally, to make the list complete, ver. 26 mentions 

CHAP. XXV. 15-29. 383 

the ldno;s of the north, those near and those far, and all the 
kingdoms of the earth. ni3p»En with the article in stat. constr. 
against the rule. Hence Hitz. and Graf infer that pN*n mav 
not be genuine, it being at the same time superfluous and not 
given in the LXX. This may be possible, but it is not certain ; 
for in Isa. xxiii. 17 we find the same pleonastic mode of 
expression, and there are precedents for the article with the 
nomen regens. " The one to (or with) the other " means : ac- 
cording as the kingdoms of the north stand in relation to one 
another, far or near. — After the mention of all the king's and 
peoples on whom the king of Babylon is to execute judgment, 
it is said that he himself must at last drink the cup of wrath. 
W& is, according to li. 41, a name for Babylon, as Jerome 
states, presumably on the authority of his Jewish teacher, who 
followed the tradition. The name is formed ace. to the Canon 
Atbash, in virtue of which the letters of the alphabet were put 
one for the other in the inverse order (n for K, {? for 2, etc.) ; 
thus B> would correspond to 3 and 3 to h. Cf. Buxtorf, Lex. 
talm. s.v. tJbnx and de abbreviations hebr. p. 41. A like ex- 
ample is found in li. 1, where D^iPa is represented by , 0|5 37. 
The assertion of Gesen. that this way of playing with words 
was not then in use, is groundless, as is also Hitz.'s, when he 
says it appeared first during the exile, and is consequently none 
of Jeremiah's work. It is also erroneous when many comm. 
remark, that Jeremiah made use of the mysterious name from 
the fear of weakening the impression of terror which the name 
of Babylon ought to make on their minds. These assumptions 
are refuted by ver. 12, where there is threatening of the punish- 
ment of spoliation made against the king of Babylon and the 
land of the Chaldeans; and by li. 41, where alongside of 
Sheshach we find in parallelism Babylon. The Atbash is, both 
originally and in the present case, no mere playing with words, 
but a transposition of the letters so as to gain a significant 
meaning, as may plainly be seen in the transposition to *&% 3^, 
li. 1. This is the case with Sheshach also, which would be a 
contraction of 1$2f (see Ew. § 158, c), from ?J3B>, to sink (of 
the water, Gen. viii. 1), to crouch (of the bird-catcher, Jer. 
v. 26). The sig. is therefore a sinking down, so that the 
threatening, li. 64 : Babel shall sink and not rise again, con- 


stitutes a commentary on the name ; cf. Hgstb. Christ, hi. p. 377. 
The name does not sig. humiliation, in support of which Graf 
has recourse partly to nntr, partly to the Arabic usage. For 
other arbitrary interpretations, see in Ges. thes. p. I486. 1 

From ver. 27 onwards the commission from God (ver. 15 f.) 
is still more completely communicated to Jeremiah, so that the 
record of its fulfilment (vers. 17-26), together with the enu- 
meration of the various peoples, is to be regarded as an 
explanatory parenthesis. These might the less unsuitably be 
inserted after ver. 16, inasmuch as what there is further of the 
divine command in vers. 27-29 is, if we examine its substance, 
little else than an enforcement of the command. The prophet 
is not merely to declare to them what is the meaning of this 
drinking of wrath (Hitz.), but is to tell them that they are to 
drink the cup of wrath to the bottom, so that they shall fall for 
drunkenness and not be able to stand again (ver. 27) ; and that 
they must drink, because when once Jahveh has begun judg- 
ment on His own people, He is determined not to spare any 
other people. Vp from •"!$ = sip serves to strengthen the 
npK' ; in the second hemistich the figurative statement passes 
into the real, as at ver. 16. In ver. 28 W\WI) ST)& is a peremptory 
command : ye shall = must drink. Ver. 29 gives the reason : 
since God spares not His own people, then the heathen people 
need not count on immunity. " And ye think to go un- 
punished " is a question of surprise. Judgment is to be ex- 
tended over all the inhabitants of the earth. 

As to the fulfilment of this prophecy, see details in the exposi- 
tion of the oracles against the nations, chap, xlvi.-li. Hence it 

1 As has been done with the whole or with parts of vers. 12-14, so too the 
last clause of ver. 26 is pronounced by E\v., Hitz., and Graf to be spurious, 
a gloss that had ultimately found its way into the text. This is affirmed 
because the clause is wanting in the LXX., and because the prophet could 
not fitly threaten Babylon along with the other nations (Hitz.) ; or because 
"the specification of a single kingdom seems very much out of place, after 
the enumeration of the countries that are to drink the cup of wrath has 
been concluded by the preceding comprehensive intimation, 'all the king- 
doms of the earth'" (Gr.). Both reasons are valueless. By "shall drink 
after them " Babylon is sufficiently distinguished from the other kings and 
countries mentioned, and the reason is given why Babylon is not put on the 
same footing with them, but is to be made to drink after them. 

CHAP. XXV. 30-38. 385 

appears that most of the nations here mentioned were subject 
to Nebuchadnezzar. Only of Elam is no express mention 
there made ; and as to Media, Jeremiah has given no special 
prophecy. As to both these peoples, it is very questionable 
whether Nebuchadnezzar ever subdued them. For more on 
this, see on xlix. 34-39. Although it is said in ver. 9 of the 
present chapter and in chap, xxvii. 5 ff. that God has given all 
peoples, all the lands of the earth, into the hand of Nebuchad- 
nezzar, yet it does not follow thence that Nebuchadnezzar 
really conquered all. The meaning of the prophetic announce- 
ment is simply that the king of Babylon will obtain dominion 
over the world for the coming period, and that when his 
time is run, he too must fall beneath the judgment. The 
judgment executed by Nebuchadnezzar on the nations is the 
beginning of that upon the whole earth, before which, in course 
of time, all inhabitants of the earth fall, even those whom 
Nebuchadnezzar's sword has not reached. In the beginning of 
the Chaldean judgment the prophet sees the beginning of judg- 
ment upon the whole earth. 

Vers. 30-38. " But do thou prophesy to them all these words, 
and say unto them : Jahveh will roar from on high, and from 
His holy habitation let His voice resound ; He will roar against 
His pasture, raise a shout like treaders of grapes against all the 
inhabitants of the earth. Ver. 31. Noise reacheth to the end 
of the earth, for controversy hath Jahveh with the nations ; 
contend will He with all flesh ; the wicked He gives to the 
sword, is the saying of Jahveh. Ver. 32. Thus saith Jahveh 
of hosts : Behold, evil goeth forth from nation to nation, and (a) 
great storm shall raise itself from the utmost coasts of the earth. 
Ver. 33. And the slain of Jahveh shall lie on that day from 
one end of the earth unto the other, shall not be lamented, 
neither gathered nor buried ; for dung shall they be upon the 
ground. Ver. 34. Howl, ye shepherds, and cry! and sprinkle you 
(with ashes), ye lordliest of the flock ! For your days are filled 
for the slaughter ; and I scatter you so that ye shall fall like a 
precious vessel. Ver. 35. Lost is flight to the shepherds, and 
escape to the lordliest of the flock. Ver. 36. Hark ! Crying of 
the shepherds and howling of the lordliest of the flock ; for 
Jahveh layeth waste their pasture. Ver. 37. Desolated are 

vol. i. 2 b 


the pastures of peace because of the heat of Jahveh's anger. 
Ver. 38. He hath forsaken like a young lion his covert ; for 
their land is become a desert, because of the oppressing sword, 
and because of the heat of His anger." 

In this passage the emblem of the cup of the Lord's anger 
(vers. 25-29) is explained by a description of the dreadful 
judgment God is to inflict on all the inhabitants of the earth. 
This is not the judgment on the world at large as distinguished 
from that proclaimed in vers. 15-29 against the kingdom of 
God and the kingdoms of the world, as Nag. supposes. It is 
the nature of this same judgment that is here discussed, no 
regard being here paid to the successive steps of its fulfilment. 
Vers. 30 and 31 are only a further expansion of the second 
half of ver. 29. " All these words " refers to what follows. The 
clause " Jahveh will roar " to " let His voice resound " is a 
reminiscence from Joel iv. 16 and Amos i. 2 ; but instead of 
" out of Zion and out of Jerusalem " in those passages, we have 
here " from on high," i.e. heaven, and out of His holy habita- 
tion (in heaven), because the judgment is not to fall on the 
heathen only, but on the theocracy in a special manner, and on 
the earthly sanctuary, the temple itself, so that it can come only 
from heaven or the upper sanctuary. Jahveh will roar like a 
lion against His pasture (the pasture or meadow where His flock 
feeds, cf . x. 25) ; a name for the holy land, including Jerusalem 
and the temple ; not : the world subject to Him (Ew.). 'U1 TJ H !? ? 
He will answer Bedad like treaders of grapes ; i.e. raise a shout 
as they do. Answer ; inasmuch as the shout or war-cry of 
Jahveh is the answer to the words and deeds of the wicked. 
Grammatically T^n is accus. and object to the verb : Hedad he 
gives as answer. The word is from T!?j crash, and signifies 
the loud cry with which those that tread grapes keep time to 
the alternate raising and thrusting of the feet. Ew. is accord- 
ingly correct, though far from happy, in rendering the word 
u tramping-song ; " see on Isa. xvi. 9 f. As to the figure of the 
treader of grapes, cf. Isa. lxiii. 3. — Ver. 31. pNf is the din of 
war, the noise of great armies, cf. Isa. xvii. 12 f., etc. For the 
Lord conducts a controversy, a cause at law, with the nations, 
with all flesh, i.e. with all mankind ; cf. ii. 9, 35.— DW"in is for 
the sake of emphasis put first and resumed again in the suffix 

CHAP. XXV. 30-38. 387 

to DJJU " Give to the sword " as in xv. 9.— Ver. 32 f. As a 
fierce storm (cf. xxiii. 19) rises from the ends of the earth on 
the horizon, so will evil burst forth and seize on one nation 
after another. Those slain by Jahveh will then lie, unmourned 
and unburied, from one end of the earth to the other ; cf. viii. 2, 
xvi. 4. With "slain of Jahveh," cf. Isa. Ixvi. 16. Jahveh 
slays them by the sword in war. — Ver. 34. No rank is spared. 
This is intimated in the summons to howl and lament addressed 
to the shepherds, i.e. the kings and rulers on earth (cf. x. 21, 
xxii. 22, etc.), and to the lordly or glorious of the flock, i.e. to 
the illustrious, powerful, and wealthy. With " sprinkle you," 
cf. vi. 26. Your days are full or filled for the slaughter, i.e. the 
days of your life are full, so that ye shall be slain ; cf. Lam. 
iv. 18. DSfflforiBTn is obscure and hard to explain. It is so read 
by the Masora, while many codd. and editt. have D3Tri*isrn. Ac- 
cording to this latter form, Jerome, Kashi, Kimchi, lately Maur. 
and Unibr., hold the word for a substantive : your dispersions. 
But whether we connect this with what precedes or what follows, 
we fail to obtain a fitting sense from it. Your days are full and 
your dispersions, for : the time is come when ye shall be slain 
and dispersed, cannot be maintained, because " dispersions " is 
not in keeping with " are full." Again : as regards your dis- 
persions, ye shall fall, would give a good meaning, only if " your 
dispersions" meant: the flock dispersed by the fault of the 
shepherds ; and with this the second pers. " ye shall fall " does 
not agree. The sig. of fatness given by Ew. to the word is 
wholly arbitrary. Hitz., Gr., and Nag. take the word to be a 
Tiphil (like rnnn, xii. 5, xxii. 15), and read CDVriyan, I scatter 
you. This gives a suitable sense ; and there is no valid reason 
for attaching to the word, as Hitz. and Gr. do, the force of |'V3 
or KM, smite in pieces. The thought, that one part of the flock 
shall be slain, the other scattered, seems quite apt ; so also is 
that which follows, that they that are scattered shall fall and 
break like precious, i.e. fine, ornamental vases. Hence there 
was no occasion for Evv.'s conjectural emendation, n33, like 
precious lambs. Nor does the LXX. rendering: wairep ol 
Kpiol ol ifcXeKToi, give it any support ; for Dna does not mean 
rams, but lambs. The similar comparison of Jechoniah to a 
worthless vessel (xxii. 28) tells in favour of the reading in the 



text (Graf). — In ver. 35 the threatening is made more woeful 
by the thought, that the shepherds shall find no refuge, and that 
no escape will be open to the sheep.— Ver. 36 f. The prophet 
is already hearing in spirit the lamentation to which in ver. 34 
he has called them, because Jahveh has laid waste the pastures 
of the shepherds and their flocks, and destroyed the peaceful 
meadows by the heat of His anger.— In ver. 38, finally, the 
discourse is rounded off by a repetition and expansion of the 
thought with which the description of the judgment was begun 
in ver. 30. As a young lion forsakes his covert to seek for 
prey, so Jahveh has gone forth out of His heavenly habitation 
to hold judgment on the people ; for their (the shepherds') land 
becomes a desert. The perff. are prophetic. *3 has grounding 
force. The desolation of the land gives proof that the Lord 
has arisen to do judgment. n:rn jnn seems strange, since the 
adjective nji'n never occurs independently, but only in connec- 
tion with ann (xlvi. 16, 1. 16, and with "W, Zeph. iii. 1). 
Jiin, again, is regularly joined with s *$, and only three times 
besides with a suffix referring to Jahveh (Ex. xv. 7 ; Ps. ii. 5 ; 
Ezek. vii. 14). In this we find justification for the conjecture of 
Hitz., Ew., Gr., etc., that we should read with the LXX. and 
Chald. rni'n Tin. The article with the adj. after the subst. 
without one, here and in xlvi. 16, 1. 16, is to be explained by the 
looseness of connection between the participle and its noun ; cf. 
Ew. § 335, a. 

Chap. xxvi. Accusation and Acquittal of Jeremiah in the 
matter of his prophesying Threatenings. The Prophet Urijah 
put to death. 

This chapter is separated from the discourses that precede 
and follow by a heading of its own, and dates from the 
beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim ; whereas the following 
chap, xxvii.-xxix. fall into the earlier years of Zedekiah's 
reign. In point of matter, however, the present chapter is 
closely connected with these latter, though the connection be- 
tween them is certainly not that held to exist by Ew. His 
view is, that chap, xxvii.-xxix. furnish " three historical sup- 
plements regarding true and false prophethood," in each of 
which we are told in the first place how the prophet himself 

CHAP. XXVI. 1-7. 389 

acted, the account being concluded with notices of prophets 
■who either prophesied what was directly false, or who vindi- 
cated the truth with but insufficient stedfastness. As against 
this, Graf justly observes, "that this is in keeping neither 
with the real contents of chap, xxvii-xxix. nor with chap, 
xxvi. ; for Micah was far from being a false prophet, and Urijah 
was as little wanting in courage as was Jeremiah, who hid him- 
self from Jehoiakim, xxxvi. 19, 26." — Chap, xxvii.-xxix. are 
related in the closest possible manner to chap. xxv. ; for all that 
is said by Jeremiah in these chapters has manifestly for its aim to 
vindicate the truth of his announcement, that Judah's captivity 
in Chaldea would last seventy years, as against the false pro- 
phets, who foretold a speedy return of the exiles into their 
fatherland. To this the contents of chap. xxvi. form a sort of 
prelude, inasmuch as here we are informed of the attitude as- 
sumed by the leaders of the people, by the priests and prophets, 
and by King Jehoiakim towards the prophet's announce- 
ment of judgment about to fall on Judah. Thus we are put 
in a position to judge of the opposition on the part of the 
people and its leaders, with which his prophecy of the seventy 
years' bondage of Judah was likely to meet. For this reason 
chap, xxvi., with its historical notices, is inserted after xxv. and 
before xxvii.-xxix. 

Vers. 1-19. Accusation and acquittal of Jeremiah. — 
Vers. 1—7. His prophecy that temple and city would be destroyed 
gave occasion to the accusation of the prophet. — Ver. 1. " In the 
beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah king of 
Judah, came this word from Jahveh, saying : Ver. 2. Thus said 
Jahveh : Stand in the court of the house of Jahveh, and speak 
to all the cities of Judah which come to worship in Jahveh's 
house, all the words that I have commanded thee to speak to 
them ; take not a word therefrom. Ver. 3. Perchance they 
will hearken and turn each from his evil way, that I may repent 
me of the evil which I purpose to do unto them for the evil of 
their doings. Ver. 4. And say unto them : Thus saith Jahveh : 
If ye hearken not to me, to walk in my law which I have set 
before you, Ver. 5. To hearken to the words of my servants 
the prophets whom I sent unto you, from early morning on 


sending, but ye have not hearkened, Ver. 6. Then I make this 
house like Shiloh, and this city a curse to all the peoples of the 
earth. Ver. 7. And the priests and the prophets and all the 
people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of 

In the discourse of chap, vii., where he was combating the 
people's false reliance upon the temple, Jeremiah had already 
threatened that the temple should share the fate of Shiloh, unless 
the people turned from its evil ways. Now, since that discourse 
was also delivered in the temple, and since vers. 2-6 of the present 
chapter manifestly communicate only the substance of what the 
prophet said, several coram, have held these discourses to be 
identical, and have taken it for granted that the discourse here 
referred to, belonging to the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign, 
w r as given in full in chap, vii., while the history of it has been 
given in the present chapter by way of supplement (cf. the 
introductory remarks to chap. vii.). But considering that it is 
a peculiarity of Jeremiah frequently to repeat certain of the 
main thoughts of his message, the saying of God, that He will 
do to the temple as He has done to Shiloh, is not sufficient to 
warrant this assumption. Jeremiah frequently held discourses 
in the temple, and more than once foretold the destruction of 
Jerusalem ; so that it need not be surprising if on more than 
one occasion he threatened the temple with the fate of Shiloh. 
Between the two discourses there is further this distinction : 
Whereas in chap. vii. the prophet speaks chiefly of the spolia- 
tion or destruction of the temple and the expulsion of the 
people into exile, here in brief incisive words he intimates the 
destruction of the city of Jerusalem as well ; and the present 
chapter throughout gives the impression that by this, so to 
speak, peremptory declaration, the prophet sought to move the 
people finally to decide for Jahveh its God, and that he thus so 
exasperated the priests and prophets present, that they seized 
him and pronounced him worthy of death. — According to the 
heading, this took place in the beginning of the reign of 
Jehoiakim. The like specification in the heading of chap, 
xxvii. does not warrant us to refer the date to the fourth year 
of this king. "The beginning" intimates simply that the dis- 
course belongs to the earlier period of Jehoiakim's reign, with- 

CHAP. XXVI. 8-19. 391 

out minuter information as to year and clay. " To Jeremiah " 
seems to have been dropped out after a came this word," ver. 1. 
The court of the house of God is not necessarily the inner or 
priests' court of the temple ; it may have been the outer one 
where the people assembled ; cf. xix. 14. All the " cities of 
Judah" for their inhabitants, as in xi. 12. The addition: 
" take not a word therefrom," cf. Deut. iv. 2, xiii. 1, indicates 
the peremptory character of the discourse. In full, without 
softening the threat by the omission of anything the Lord com- 
manded him, i.e. he is to proclaim the word of the Lord in its 
full unconditional severity, to move the people, if possible, to 
repentance, ace. to ver. 3. With ver. 35, cf. xviii. 8, etc. — In 
vers. 4-6 we have the contents of the discourse. If they 
hearken not to the words of the prophet, as has hitherto been 
the case, the Lord will make the temple as Shiloh, and this city, 
i.e. Jerusalem, a curse, i.e. an object of curses (cf. xxiv. 9), for 
all peoples. On. this cf. vii. 12 ff. But ye have not hearkened. 
The Chet. nnx-in Hitz. holds to be an error of transcription ; 
Ew. § 173, g, and Olsh. Gramm. § 101, c, and 133, a paragogi- 
cally lengthened form ; Bottcher, Lehrb. § 665. iii. and 897, 3, 
a toneless appended suffix, strengthening the demonstrative 
force : this (city) here. 

Vers. 8-19. The behaviour of the priests, prophets, and princes 

of the people towards Jeremiah on account of this discourse. — 

Ver. 7 ff. When the priests and prophets and all the people 

present in the temple had heard this discourse, they laid hold 

of Jeremiah, saying, Ver. 8 f. " Thou must die. Wherefore 

prophesiest thou in the name of Jahveh, saying, Like Shiloh 

shall this house become, and this city shall be desolate, without 

inhabitant ! And all the people gathered to Jeremiah in the 

house of Jahveh." This last remark is not so to be understood, 

when compared with vers. 7 and 8, as that all the people who, 

according to ver. 7, had been hearing the discourse, and, 

according to ver. 8, had with the priests and prophets laid hold 

on Jeremiah, gathered themselves to him now. It means, that 

after one part of the people present had, along with the priests 

and prophets, laid hold on him, the whole people gathered 

around him. "All the people," ver. 9, is accordingly to be 

distinguished from " all the people," ver. 8 ; and the word ?3, 


all, must not be pressed, in both cases meaning simply a great 
many. When it is thus taken, there is no reason for following 
Hitz., and deleting a all the people" in ver. 8 as a gloss. 
Jeremiah's special opponents were the priests and prophets 
after their own hearts. But to them there adhered many from 
among the people ; and these it is that are meant by " all the 
people," ver. 8. But since these partisans of the priests and 
pseudo-prophets had no independent power of their own to pass 
judgment, and since, after Jeremiah was laid hold of, all the 
rest of the people then in the temple gathered around him, it 
happens that in ver. 11 the priests and prophets are opposed 
to " all the people," and are mentioned as being alone the 
accusers of Jeremiah. — When the princes of Judah heard 
what had occurred, they repaired from the king's house (the 
palace) to the temple, and seated themselves in the entry of the 
new gate of Jahveh, sc. to investigate and decide the case. 
The new gate was, according to xxxvi. 10, by the upper, i.e. 
inner court, and is doubtless the same that Jotham caused to 
be built (2 Kings xv. 35) ; but whether it was identical with 
the upper gate of Benjamin, xx. 2, cannot be decided. The 
princes of Judah, since they came up into the temple from the 
palace, are the judicial officers who were at that time about the 
palace. The judges were chosen from among the heads of the 
people; cf. my Bibl. Archdol. ii. § 149. — Ver. 10. Before these 
princes, about whom all the people gathered, Jeremiah is accused 
by the priests and prophets: "This man is worthy of death;" 
literally : a sentence of death (cf. Deut. xix. 6), condemnation 
to death, is due to this man ; " for he hath prophesied against 
this city, as ye have heard with your ears." With these last 
words they appeal to the people standing round who had heard 
the prophecy, for the princes had not reached the temple till 
after Jeremiah had been apprehended. Ver 12. To this Jere- 
miah answered in his own defence before the princes and all 
the people: "Jahveh hath sent me to prophesy against (?£ for 
?V) this house and against this city all the words which ye 
have heard. Ver. 13. And now make your ways good and 
your doings, and hearken to the voice of Jahveh your God, and 
Jahveh will repent Him of the evil that He hath spoken against 
you. Ver. 14. But I, behold, I am in your hand ; do with me 

chap. xxvi. s-io. 393 

as seemeth to you good and right. Ver. 15. Only ye must 
know, that if ye put me to death, ye bring innocent blood upon 
you, and upon this city, and upon her inhabitants ; for of a 
truth Jahveh hath sent me to you to speak in your ears all 
these words." — As to a make your ways good," cf. vii. 3. 
This defence made an impression on the princes and on all 
the people. From the intimation that by reform it was possible 
to avert the threatened calamity, and from the appeal to the 
fact that in truth Jahveh had sent him and commanded him 
so to speak, they see that he is a true prophet, whose violent 
death would bring blood-guiltiness upon the city and its in- 
habitants. They therefore declare to the accusers, ver. 16 : 
" This man is not worthy of death, for in the name of Jahveh 
our God hath he spoken unto us." — Vers. 17-19. To justify 
and confirm this sentence, certain of the elders of the laud rise 
and point to the like sentence passed on the prophet Micah of 
Moresheth-Gath, who had foretold the destruction of the city 
and temple under King Hezekiah, but had not been put to 
death by the king ; Hezekiah, on the contrary, turning to prayer 
to the Lord, and thus succeeding in averting the catastrophe. 
The " men of the elders of the land" are different from " all 
the princes," and are not to be taken, as by Graf, for repre- 
sentatives of the people in the capacity of assessors at judicial 
decisions, who had to give their voice as to guilt or innocence ; 
nor are they necessarily to be regarded as local authorities of 
the land. They come before us here solely in their character 
as elders of the people, who possessed a high authority in the 
eyes of the people. The saying of the Morasthite Micah which 
they cite in ver. 18 is found in Mic. iii. 12, verbally agreeing 
with ver. 18 ; see the exposition of that passage. The stress 
of what they say lies in the conclusion drawn by them from 
Micah's prophecy, taken in connection with Hezekiah's attitude 
towards the Lord, ver. 19 : " Did Hezekiah king of Judah 
and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear Jahveh 
and entreat Jahveh, and did not Jahveh repent Him of the evil 
which He had spoken concerning them ? and we would commit 
a great evil against our souls f " Neither in the book of Micah, 
nor in the accounts of the books of Kin^s, nor in the chronicle 
of Hezekiah's reign are we told that, in consequence of that 


prophecy of Micah, Hezekiah entreated the Lord and so averted 
judgment from Jerusalem. There we find only that during 
the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians, Hezekiah besought 
the help of the Lord and protection from that mighty enemy. 
The elders have combined this fact with Micah's prophecy, 
and thence drawn the conclusion that the godly king succeeded 
by his prayer in averting the mischief. Cf. the remarks on this 
passage at Mic. iv. 10. s ^f" n *f %», lit. stroke the face of 
Jahveh, i.e. entreat Him, cf. Ex. xxxii. 11. " And we would 
commit," are thinking of doing, are on the point of doing a 
great evil against our souls ; inasmuch as by putting the pro- 
phet to death they would bring blood-guiltiness upon them- 
selves and hasten the judgment of God. — The acquittal 
of Jeremiah is not directly related; but it may be gathered 
from the decision of the princes : This man is not worthy of 

Vers. 20-24. The prophet Urijafi pat to death. — While the 
history we have just been considering gives testimony to the 
hostility of the priests and false prophets towards the true 
prophets of the Lord, the story of the prophet Urijah shows 
the hostility of King Jehoiakim against the proclaimers of 
divine truth. For this purpose, and not merely to show in how 
great peril Jeremiah then stood (Gr., Nag.), this history is in- 
troduced into our book. It is not stated that the occurrence 
took place at the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign, nor can we 
infer so much from its being placed directly after the events 
of that time. The time is not specified, because it was irrele- 
vant for the case in hand. Ver. 20. A man, Urijah the son of 
Shemaiah — both unknown — from Kirjath-Jearim, now called 
Kuriyet el 'Enab, about three hours to the north-west of Jeru- 
salem, on the frontiers of the tribe of Benjamin (see on Josh. 
ix. 17), prophesied in the name of Jahveh against Jerusalem 
and Judah very much in the same terms as Jeremiah had 
done. When King Jehoiakim and his great men heard this 
discourse, he sought after the prophet to kill him. Urijah, 
when he heard of it, fled to Egypt ; but the king sent men 
after him, Elnathan the son of Achbor with some followers, 
and had him brought back thence, caused him to be put to 
death, and his body to be thrown into the graves of the common 


people. Hitz. takes objection to " all his mighty men," ver. 21, 
because it is not found in the LXX., and is nowhere else used 
by Jeremiah. But these facts do not prove that the words are 
not genuine ; the latter of the two, indeed, tells rather in favour 
of their genuineness, since a glossator would not readily have 
interpolated an expression foreign to the rest of the book. The 
" mighty men" are the distinguished soldiers who were about 
the king, the military commanders, as the u princes" are the 
supreme civil authorities. Elnathan the son of Achbor, accord- 
ing to xxxvi. 12, 25, one of Jehoiakim's princes, was a son of 
the Achbor who is mentioned in 2 Kings xxii. 12-14 as 
amongst the princes of Josiah. Whether this Elnathan was 
the same as the Elnathan whose daughter Nehushta was 
Jehoiachin's mother (2 Kings xxiv. 8), and who was therefore 
the king's father-in-law, must remain an undecided point, 
since the name Elnathan is of not unfrequent occurrence ; of 
Levites, Ezra viii. 16. DJ?n '•aa (see on xvii. 19) means the 
common people here, as in 2 Kings xxii. 6. The place of burial 
for the common people was in the valley of the Kidron ; see on 
2 Kings xxii. 6. — Ver. 24. The narrative closes with a remark 
as to how, amid such hostility against the prophets of God on 
the part of king and people, Jeremiah escaped death. This was 
because the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with him. 
This person is named in 2 Kings xxii. 12, 14, as one of the 
great men sent by King Josiah to the prophetess Hulda to 
inquire of her concerning the book of the law recently dis- 
covered. According to Jer. xxxix. 14, xl. 5, etc., he was the 
father of the future Chaldean governor Gedaliah. 

Chap, xxvii.-xxix. The yoke of Babylon upon Judah and 
the neighbouring Peoples. 

These three chapters are closely connected with one another. 
They all belong to the earlier period of Zedekiah's reign, and 
contain words of Jeremiah by means of which he confirms 
and vindicates against the opposition of false prophets his 
announcement of the seventy years' duration of the Chaldean 
supremacy over Judah and the nations, and warns king and 
people patiently to bear the yoke laid on them by Nebuchad- 
nezzar. The three chapters have besides an external connec- 


tion. For chap, xxviii. is attached to the event of xxvii. by its 
introductory formula : And it came to pass in that year, at the 
beginning, etc., as xxix. is to xxviii. by n?K1. To this, it is true, 
the heading handed down in the Masoretic text is in contradic- 
tion. The date : In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, 
the son of Josiah king of Judah, came this word to Jeremiah 
(xxvii. 1), is irreconcilable with the date : And it came to pass 
in that year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of 
Judah, in the fourth year, in the fifth month. The name 
" Jehoiakim the son of Josiah" in xxvii. 1 is erroneous. It is 
without doubt the blunder of a copyist who had in his mind 
the heading of the 26th chapter, and should have been " Zede- 
kiah ;" for the contents of chap, xxvii. carry us into Zedekiah's 
time, as plainly appears from vers. 3, 12, and 20. Hence the 
Syr. translation and one of Kennicott's codd. have substituted 
the latter name. 1 

1 Following the example of ancient comm., Haevernick in bis Introd. 
(ii. 2) has endeavoured to defend the date : " In the beginning of the 
reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah." To this end he ventures the hypo- 
thesis, that in chap, xxvii. there are placed beside one another three dis- 
courses agreeing in their subject-matter : " one addressed to Jehoiakim 
(vers. 2-11), a second to Zedekiah (vers. 12-15), a third to the priests and 
people ;" and that the words : " by the hand of the ambassador that came 
to Zedekiah the king of Judah," are appended to show how Zedekiah ought 
to have obeyed the older prophecy of Jehoiakim's time, and how he should 
have borne himself towards the nations with which he was in alliance. 
But this does not solve the difficulty. The prophecy, vers. 4-11, is ad- 
dressed to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon ; but since 
the envoys of these kings did not come to Jerusalem till Zedekiah's time, 
we are bound, if the prophecy dates from the beginning of Jehoiakim's 
reign, to assume that this prophecy was communicated to Jeremiah and 
published by him eleven years before the event, upon occasion of which it 
was to be conveyed to the kings concerned. An assumption that would 
require unusually cogent reasons to render it credible. Vers. 4&-21 con- 
tain nothing whatever that points to Jehoiakim's time, or give countenance, 
to the hypothesis that the three sections of this chapter contain three 
discourses of different dates, which have been put together on account 
merely of the similarity of their contents. 

Beyond this one error of transcription, these three chapters contain 
nothing that could throw any doubt on the integrity of the text. There 
are no traces of a later supplementary revision by another hand, such as 
Mov., Hitz., and de W. profess to have discovered. The occurrence of 
Jeremiah's uame in the contracted form ITDT, as also of other names com- 

chap, xxvir. 397 

Chap, xxvii. The yoke of Babylon. — In three sections, 
connected as to their date and their matter, Jeremiah prophe- 
sies to the nations adjoining Judah (vers. 2-11), to King Zede- 
kiah (vers. 12-15), and to the priests and all the people (vers. 
16-22), that God has laid on them the yoke of the king of 
Babylon, and that they ought to humble themselves under His 
almighty hand. — Ver. 1. According to the (corrected) heading, 
the prophecy was given in the beginning of the reign of Zede- 
kiah. If we compare chap, xxviii. we find the same date : " in 
that year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah," more 
fully defined as the fourth year of his reign. Graf has made 
objection, that in the case of a reign of eleven years, one could 
not well speak of the fourth year as the beginning of the reign. 
But the idea of beginning is relative (cf. Gen. x. 10), and does 
not necessarily coincide with that of the first year. The reign 
of Zedekiah is divided into two halves : the first period, or begin- 

pounded with JaJiu in the form JaJi, does not prove later retouching ; for, 
as Graf has shown, Ave find alongside of it the fuller form also (xxviii. 12, 
xxix. 27-30), and have frequently both longer and shorter forms in the 
same verse (so in xxvii. 1, xxviii. 12, xxix. 29—31). And so long as other 
means for distinguishing are wanting, it will not do to discriminate the 
manner of expression in the original text from that of the reviser by means 
of these forms alone. Again, as we have shown at p. 312, note, there is a 
good practical reason for Jeremiah's being called "the prophet" (^33!"l): 

so that this too is not the reviser's work. Finally, we cannot argue later 
addition from the fact that the name of the king of Babylon is written 
Nebuchadnezzar in xxvii. 6, 8, 20, xxviii. 3, 11, 14, xxix. 1, 3 ; for the 
same form appears again in xxxiv. 1 and xxxix. 5, and with it we have also 
Nebuchadrezzar in xxix. 21 and xxxix. 1. Elsewhere, it is true, we find 
only the one form Nebuchadnezzar, and this is the unvarying spelling in 
the books of Kings, Chron., Ezra, Dan., and in Esth. ii. 6 ; whereas 
Ezekiel uniformly writes Nebuchadrezzar (xxvi. 7, xxix. 18, 19, and xxx. 
10), and this form Jeremiah uses twenty-seven times (xxi. 2, 7, xxii. 25, 
xxiv. 1, xxv. 1, 9, xxix. 21, xxxii. 1, 28, xxxv. 11, xxxvii. 1, xxxix. 1, 11, 
xliii. 10, xliv. 30, xlvi. 2, 13, 26, xlix. 28, 30, 1. 17, li. 34, lii. 4, 12, 28, 
29, 30 — not merely in the discourses, but in the headings and historical 
parts as well). But though the case is so, we are not entitled to conclude 
that Nebuchadnezzar was a way of pronouncing the name that came into 
use at a later time ; the conclusion rather is, as we have remarked at p. 327, 
and on Dan. i. 1, that the writing with n represents the Jewish -Aramaean 
pronunciation, whereas the form Nebuchadrezzar, according to the testimony 
of such inscriptions as have been preserved, expresses more fairly the 


ning, when he was elevated by Nebuchadnezzar, and remained 
subject to him, and the after or last period, when he had re- 
belled against his liege lord. 

Vers. 2-11. The yoke of the king of Babylon upon the kings 
of Edom, Moab, Amnion, Tyre, and Sidon. — Ver. 2. " Thus 
said Jahveh to me : Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them 
upon thy neck, Ver. 3. And send them to the king of Edom, 
the king of Moab, the king of the sons of Ammon, the king of 
Tyre, and the king of Sidon, by the hand of the messengers 
that are come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah kins; of Judah. Ver. 4. 
And command them to say unto their masters, Thus hath Jahveh 
of hosts, the God of Israel, said : Thus shall ye say unto your 
masters : Ver. 5. I have made the earth, the man and the beast 
that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my out- 
stretched hand, and give it to whom it seemeth meet unto me. 
Ver. 6. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of 
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, my servant ; and the beasts 
of the field also have I given him to serve him. Ver. 7. And 
all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until 
the time of his land come, and many nations and great kings 
serve themselves of him. Ver. 8. And the people and the king- 
dom that will not serve him, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, 

Assyrian pronunciation. The Jewish way of pronouncing would naturally 
not arise till after the king of Babylon had appeared in Palestine, from 
which time the Jews would have this name often on their lips. Hence it is 
in the book of Jeremiah alone that we find both forms of the name (that 
with r 27 times, that with n 10 times). How it has come about that the 
latter form is used just three times in each of chap, xxvii. and xxviii. can- 
not with certainty be made out. But note, (1) that the form with n occurs 
twice in xxviii. (vers. 3 and 11) in the speech of the false prophet Hananiah, 
and then, ver. 14, in Jeremiah's answer to that speech ; (2) that the pro- 
phecy of chap, xxvii. was addressed partly to the envoys of the kings of 
Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Phoenicia, while it is partly a warning to the 
people against the lying speeches of the false prophets, and that it is just 
in these portions, vers. 6, 8, and 20, that the name so written occurs. If 
we consider this, we cannot avoid the conjecture, that by changing the r foj 
■», the Jewish people had accommodated to their own mode of utterance the 
strange-sounding name Ndbucudurusur, and that Jeremiah made use of the 
popular pronunciation in these two discourses, whereas elsewhere in all his 
discourses he uses Nebuchadrezzar alone ; for the remaining cases in which 
we find Nebuchadnezzar in this book are contained in historical notices. 

CHAP. XXVII. 2-11. 399 

and that will not put its neck into the yoke of the king of Baby- 
lon, with sword, with famine, and with pestilence I will visit 
that people, until I have made an end of them by his hand. 
Ver. 9. And ye, hearken not to your prophets, and your sooth- 
sayers, and to your dreams, to your enchanters and your sor- 
cerers, which speak unto you, saying : Ye shall not serve the 
king of Babylon. Ver. 10. For they prophesy a lie unto you, 
that I should remove you far from your land, and that I should 
drive you out and ye should perish. Ver. 11. But the people 
that will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon 
and will serve him, that will I let remain in its land, saith 
Jahveh, to till it and to dwell therein." 

The yoke Jeremiah is to make and lay on his neck is a plain 
emblem of the Babylonian yoke the nations are to bear. The 
words " bonds and yokes" denote together one yoke, ntob are 
the two wooden beams or poles of the yoke, which were fastened 
together by means of the niipto, bonds, ropes, so that the yoke 
might be laid on the beast's neck ; cf. Lev. xxvi. 13. That 
Jeremiah really put such a yoke on his neck and wore it, we 
see from xxviii. 10, 12, where a false prophet breaks it for him. 
He is to send the yoke to the kings of Edom, Moab, etc., by 
means of envoys of those kings, who were come to Jerusalem 
to Zedekiah. And since Jeremiah laid a yoke on his own neck, 
and so carried out the commanded symbolical action in objective 
reality, there is no reason to doubt that he made yokes for the 
five kings named and gave them to their respective envoys. 
Chr. B. Mich., Hitz., Graf, hold this to be improbable, and 
suppose that Jeremiah only made a yoke for himself and put 
it on his neck ; but by appearing abroad with it, he set before 
the eyes of the ambassadors the yoke that was to be laid on 
their kings, and, in a certain sense, emblematically gave it to 
them. But even though this might have sufficed to accomplish 
the aim of the prophecy, it is difficult to reconcile it with the 
wording of the text ; hence Hitz. seeks arbitrarily to change 
Efifw into nrinptt'. And it is a worthless argument that Jere- 
miah cannot possibly have believed that the envoys would carry 
the yokes with them and deliver them to their masters. Why 
should not he have believed they Mould do so? And if they did 
not, it was their concern. The plur. " bands and yokes" may 


indeed mean a single yoke, but it may also mean many ; and 
the verbs DPlJU and Dfilw, both with plural suffixes, indicate 
clearly that he was to make not merely one yoke for himself, 
but yokes for himself and the kings. In chap, xxviii. 10 and 
12, where one yoke is spoken of, the singular nDian is used ; 
while, ver. 13, " yokes of wood hast thou broken," does not 
prove that this plural has the same force as the singular. 

We are not told for what purpose ambassadors from the 
kings named had come to Jerusalem; but we can discover what 
it was from the message Jeremiah gives them for their lords. 
From this it appears, without a doubt, that they were come to 
take counsel as to a coalition with the view of throwing off the 
Chaldean supremacy. By God's command Jeremiah opposes 
this design with the announcement, that the God of Israel, the 
Creator of the world and of all creatures, has given all these 
lands (those of the kings named in ver. 3) into the hand of 
Nebuchadnezzar ; that men, and even beasts, should serve him, 
i.e. that he might exercise unbounded dominion over these lands 
and all that belonged to them, cf. xxviii. 14. " My servant," 
as in xxv. 9. All nations are to serve him, his son and his 
grandson. These words simply express the long duration of the 
king of Babylon's power over them, without warranting us in con- 
cluding that he was succeeded on the throne by his son and his 
grandson, cf. Deut. vi. 2, iv. 25. For, as we know, Nebuchad- 
nezzar was succeeded by his son Evil-Merodach ; then came his 
brother-in-law Neriglissar, who murdered Evil-Merodach, who 
was followed by his son Laborosoarchod, a child, murdered after 
a nine months' reign by conspirators. Of these latter, Naboned 
ascended the throne of Babylon ; and it was under his reign 
that the time for his land came that it should be made subject 
by many nations and great kings, cf. xxv. 14. Nin Da serves to 
strengthen the suffix on i¥"]X ; and the suffix, like 12, refers to 
Nebuchadnezzar. 1 What is said in vers. 6 and 7 is made sterner 
by the threatening of ver. 8, that the Lord will punish with 

1 Yer. 7 is wanting in the LXX., and therefore Mov. and Hitz. pro- 
nounce it spurious. But, as Graf remarked, they have no sufficient reason 
for this, since, reference being had to ver. 16 and to xxviii. 3, 11, this 
verse is very much in place here. It is not a vaticinium ex eventu, as Hitz. 
asserts, but was rather omitted by the LXX., simply because its contents, 

CHAP. XXVII. 2-11. 401 

sword, famine, and pestilence the people and kingdom that will 
not serve Nebuchadnezzar. IB'SS nxi introduces a second rela- 
tive clause, the nx being here quite in place, since " the people 
and the kingdom" are accusatives made to precede absolutely, 
and resumed again by the 'fl '•ian ?y ; which belongs directly to 
the verb " visit" With WV> cf. xxiv. 10 and DDK »rtbnjr, 
corresponding in meaning, in ix. 15. — Ver. 9 f. Therefore they 
must not hearken to their prophets, soothsayers, and sorcerers, 
that prophesy the contrary. The mention of dreams between 
the prophets and soothsayers on the one hand, and the en- 
chanters and sorcerers on the other, strikes us as singular. 
It is, however, to be explained from the fact, that prophets 
and soothsayers often feigned dreams and dream-revelations 
(cf. xxiii. 25) ; and other persons, too, might have dreams, 
and could give them out as significant. Cf. xxix. 8, where 
dreams are expressly distinguished from the discourse of 
the prophets and soothsayers. Whether the reckoning of 
five kinds of heathen prophecy has anything to do with the 
naming of five kings (Hitz.), appears to us to be questionable ; 
but it is certain that Jeremiah does not design to specify five 
different, i.e. distinct and separate, kinds of heathen divination. 
For there was in reality no such distinction. Heathen prophecy 
was closely allied with sorcery and soothsaying ; cf. Deut. xviii. 
9 f., and Oehler on the Relation of Old Testament Prophecy to 
Heathen Divination (Tub. 1861). The enumeration of the 
multifarious means and methods for forecasting the future is 
designed to show the multitude of delusive schemes for supply- 
ing the lack of true and real divine inspiration. E'Stf?, equi- 
valent to D^BBbOj the same which in Deut. xviii. 10 is used along 
with ipiJM?. The explanation of the last-mentioned word is dis- 
puted. Some take it from tjy, cloud = cloud-maker or storm- 
raiser ; others from \)V, eye = fascinator, the idea being that of 
bewitching with the evil eye ; see on Lev. xix. 26. The use of 
the word along with ^?^ r -'D? D , Deut. xviii. 10, favours the 
latter rendering, whereas no passage in which the word is used 

taken literally, were not in keeping with the historical facts. The LXX. 
omit also the clause from "that will not serve" to "king of Babylon 
and," which is accordingly, and for other subjective reasons of taste, pro- 
nounced spurious by Hitz. : but Graf j