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logical Seminar 











MESSRS. CLARK have much pleasure in forwarding to 
their Subscribers the First Issue for 1874 — 

Keil on Jeremiah, Vol. II. 

Christlieb on Modern Doubt and Christian Belief. 

They are especially glad to introduce the latter work to the 
British public, as being, by general consent in Germany, the most 
remarkable work on Apologetics of recent times ; and they have 
no doubt it will take the same position in this country, and be 
of great service in the defence of truth. 

In addition to the volumes of the Keil and Delitzsch Series, 
of which only the Salomonic Writings and Ezekiel remain 
to be published, Messrs. Clark have in preparation a Transla- 
tion of Professor Oehler's Biblical Theology of the Old 
Testament ; and they have also pleasure in intimating that 
Dr. Luthardt is preparing a New Edition of his Commentary 
on St. John's Gospel, which, with the sanction of the Author, 
will appear in the Foreign Theological Library. 

They beg anew to thank the Subscribers for their continued 
support, and to respectfully request a continuance of it. 

May they ask a remittance of the Subscription for 1874 — 

Edinburgh, March 1874. 





SctI on tfje 33iop!)fctc5 of Sn-nmali antf HUmcntattoniS. 

















C. F. KEIL, D.D. 








II. Special Predictions (continued) — Chap, xxi.-xxxiii. *ace 

B. The Announcement of Deliverance for all Israel. — Chap, xxx.- 

xxxiii., ....... 1 

Chap, xxx., xxxi. — Israel's Deliverance and Glorious Condition 

in the Future, ....... 2 

Chap, xxxii. — The Purchase of a Field as a Symbol of the 

Restoration of Judah after the Exile, . . . .47 

Chap, xxxiii. — Renewed Promise of the Restoration and 

Glorious Condition of the People of God, . . .60 

III. The Labour and Suffering of the Prophet before and after 
the Conquest and Destruction of Jerusalem. — Chap. 
xxxiv.-xlv., ....... 78 

A. Prophecies delivered under Zedekiah, and Events of Je- 

hoiakim's Time — Chap, xxxiv.-xxxvi. 
Chap, xxxiv. — Concerning Zedekiah and the Emancipation of 

the Men- and Maid-servants, . . . . .70 

Chap. xxxv. — The Example of the Rechabites, . . .88 

Chap, xxxvi. — Jeremiah's Discourses are written down, and 

read in the Temple, . . . . . .93 

B. Experiences and Utterances of Jeremiah during the Siege and 

Capture of Jerusalem. — Chap, xxxvii.-xxxix. 
Chap, xxxvii. — Declaration regarding the Issue of the Siege ; 

Imprisonment of Jeremiah and Conversation with the King, . 104 
Chap, xxxviii. — Jeremiah in the Miry Pit. Last Interview 

with the King, . . . . . .108 

Chap, xxxix. — Capture of Jerusalem ; Fate of Zedekiah and 

Jeremiah. Consolatory Message to Ebedmelech, . . 110 

C. Jeremiah's Predictions and Experiences after the Destruction 

of Jerusalem. — Chap, xl.— xlv. 
Chap, xl., xli. — Liberation of Jeremiah. Murder of Gedaliah by 

Lhmael, and its Results, ..... 125 



Chap, xlii.— The Word of God concerning the Flight to Egypt, 
Chap, xliii. — The Flight to Egypt: the Conquest of Egypt 

Chap. xliv. — Warning against Idolatry, and Intimation of its 

Punishment, ..... 
Chap. xlv. — A Promise addressed to Baruch, 

IV. Prophecies directed against Foreign Nations. — Chap 

XLVI.-LI., ..... 

Chap. xlvi. — On Egypt, .... 

Chap, xlvii. — Concerning the Philistines, . 

Chap, xlviii. — Concerning Moab, . 

Chap, xlix.— Concerning Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar 

Hazci -a, . 
Chap. 1., .—Against Babylon, 

Appendix — 

Chap. lii. — Historical Account of the Capture and Destruction of 
Jerusalem, the Fate of Zedekiah and the People, and the 
Liberation of Jehoiachin from Imprisonment, 













§ 1. The Name, Contents, and Arrangement of the Book, . 

$ 2. The Author, Time of Composition, and Position in the Canon, 



Chap. i. —Sorrow and Wailing over the Fall of Jerusalem and Judah, 
Chap. ii. — Lamentation over the Judgment of Destruction that has 

come on Zion and the Desolation of Judah, . 
Chap. iii. — The Suffering and the Consolation of the Gospel, 
Chap, iv.— Submission under the Judgment of God, and Hope, 
Chap, v.— A Prayer to the Lord by the Church, languishing in 

Misery,- for the Restoration of her former State of Grace, 








|N view of the impending fall of the kingdom of 
Judah, Jeremiah seeks to present the godly with a 
strong anchor of hope in the realization of God's 
gracious promises, which were to be fulfilled after 
the appointed season of punishment had passed. For this 
purpose, after predicting the ills of exile times, the prophet 
gives a comprehensive statement concerning the deliverance 
which the Lord will vouchsafe to His people in the future, and 
gathers together the repeated briefer promises regarding the 
restoration and glorious condition of Israel and Judah, so as to 
give a full description of the deliverance intended for all the 
covenant people under the sceptre of the future David. This 
detailed announcement of the deliverance consists of a pretty- 
long prophetic address (which Hengstenberg very properly 
designates "the triumphal hymn of Israel's salvation," chap, 
xxx. and xxxi.), and two pieces confirmatory of this address, viz. : 
(1) one recording a symbolical act performed by the prophet 
at God's command, — the sale of a piece of hereditary property 
in land during the last siege of Jerusalem, shortly before the 
breaking up of the kingdom, which commenced with the taking 
of the city, — together with a message from God explaining this 
act, chap, xxxii. ; and (2) another passage giving, in prophetic 
language, a renewed promise that Jerusalem and Judah would 
be restored with the blissful arrangements connected with the 
Davidic monarchy and the Levitical priesthood, chap, xxxiii. 
According to the headings given in xxxii. 1 and xxxiii. 1, these 
two latter pieces belong to the tenth year of Zedekiah's reign ; 



the address contained in chap. xxx. and xxxi., on the other hand, 
belongs to a somewhat earlier period, and was not uttered 
publicly before the people, but simply composed in writing, 
and meant to be preserved for future use. As regards the 
exact time of its composition, the views of modern expositors 
are very dissimilar. While Hengstenberg, with many others, 
places it in the same period with the allied chapters xxxii. and 
xxxiii., viz. in the time when Jerusalem was being besieged, 
immediately before the capture and destruction .of the city, 
Nagelsbach reckons this address among the oldest portions of 
the whole book, and assigns its composition to the times of King 
Josiah, to which iii. 11-25 belongs. But the arguments adduced 
in support of this view are quite insufficient to establish it. It 
does not by any means follow from the substantial agreement of 
the address with that in chap, iii., so far as it exists, that they 
were both composed at the same time ; and if (as Nagelsbach 
thinks) the fact that there is no mention made of the Chaldeans 
were taken as a criterion of composition before the fourth year 
of Jehoiakim, then, too, would the address in chap, xxxiii. be 
put down as having been composed before that year, but in 
glaring contradiction to the inscription given xxxiii. 1. And 
as little reason is there for inferring, with Hengstenberg, from 
xxx. 5-7, that the final catastrophe of Jeremiah's time is repre- 
sented as still imminent ; for these verses do not refer at all to 
the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. That learned 
writer is, however, quite correct in his remark, that the prophet 
takes his stand-point within the period of . the catastrophe, as if 
it had already begun, but that this time is an ideal present, so 
that we must not allow ourselves to be deceived as to the time 
of composition by the circumstance that, generally, Judah no 
less than Israel appears to be already in a state of exile, far 
from the land of the Lord. The time of composition cannot 
be made out with perfect certainty. Yet there is nothing against 
the assumption that it is the tenth year of Zedekiah. 

Chap. xxx. and xxxi. IsraeVs Deliverance and Glorious 
Condition in the Future. 

A great day of judgment, before which all the world trembles, 
will bring to Israel deliverance from the yoke imposed on them. 


The Lord will bring them out of the land of their captivity 
(xxx. 4-11). He will bind up and heal the wounds which He 
inflicted on them because of their sins ; will render to those 
who oppressed and chastised them according to their deeds 
(vers. 12-17) ; will again build up His kingdom, and render 
His people glorious, both in temporal and spiritual respects 
(vers. 18-22). The wrath of the Lord will be poured forth 
upon all evil-doers like a tempest, till He has performed the 
thoughts of His heart at the end of the days (vers. 23, 24). 
At that time the Lord will become the God of all the families 
of Israel, and show them favour as His own people (xxxi. 1-6) ; 
He will also gather the remnant of Israel out of the land of the 
north, lead them back into their inheritance, and make them 
glad and prosperous through His blessing (vers. 7-14) ; the 
sorrow of Ephraim will He change to joy, and He will perform 
a new thing in the land (vers. 15-22). In like manner will 
He restore Judah, and make want to cease (vers. 23-26). Israel 
and Judah shall be raised to new life (vers. 27-30), and a new 
covenant will be made with them', for the Lord will write His 
law in their heart and forgive their sins (vers. 31-34). Israel 
shall for ever remain the people of God, and Jerusalem be 
built anew to the honour of the Lord, and, as a holy city, shall 
no more be laid waste for ever (vers. 35-40). 

This address forms a united whole which divides into two 
halves. In chap, xxx. 4-22 it is the deliverance of Israel in 
general that is set forth ; while in the passage from chap. xxx. 
23 on to the end of chap. xxxi. it is deliverance, more especially 
in reference to Israel and Judah, that is portrayed. As there 
is no doubt about its unity, so neither is there any well-founded 
doubt regarding its genuineness and integrity. Hence the 
assertion of Hitzig, that, as a whole, it exhibits such a want of 
connection, such constant alternation of view-point, so many 
repetitions, and such irregularity in the structure of the verses, 
that there seems good ground for suspecting interpolation, — 
such an assertion only shows the inability of the expositor to 
put himself into the course of thought in the prophetic word, to 
grasp its contents properly, and to give a fair and unprejudiced 
estimate of the whole. Hitzig would reject xxxi. 38-40, and 
Nagelsbach xxx. 20-24, as later additions, but in neither case 


is this admissible; and Kueper (Jeremias, p. 170 sqq.) and 
Graf, in his Commentary, have already so well shown with 
what little reason Movers and Hitzig have supposed they had 
discovered so many "interpolations," that, in our exposition, 
we merely intend to take up in detail some of the chief 

Chap. xxx. 1-3. Introduction, and statement of the 
subject. — Ver. 1. " The word which came to Jeremiah from 
Jahveh, saying : Ver. 2. Thus hath Jahveh the God of Israel 
said : Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in 
a book ; Ver. 3. For, behold, days come, saith Jahveh, when I 
shall turn the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith 
Jahveh, and I shall bring them back to the land which I gave 
to their fathers, and they shall possess it." 

Ver. 1 contains the heading not merely of vers. 2 and 3, as 
Hitzig erroneously maintains, but of the whole prophecy, in 
chap. xxx. and xxxi. Vers. 2 and 3 form the introduction. 
Jeremiah is to write the following word of God in a book, 
because it refers to times still future, — regards the deliverance 
of Israel and Judah from exile, which will not take place till 
afterwards. In assigning the reason for the command to write 
down the word of God that had been received, there is at the 
same time given the subject of the prophecy which follows. 
From this it is further evident that the expression " all the 
words which I have spoken to thee " cannot, like xxxvi. 2, be 
referred, with J. D. Michaelis, to the whole of the prophecies 
which Jeremiah had up till that time received; it merely 
refers to the following prophecy of deliverance. The perfect 
"WlTn is thus not a preterite, but only expresses that the ad- 
dress of God to the prophet precedes the writing down of 
the words he received. As to the expression Tf&f 2W, see 
on xxix. 14. 

Vers. 4-11. The judgment on the nations for the deliverance 
of Israel. — Ver. 4. " And these are the words which Jahveh 
spake concerning Israel and Judah : Ver. 5. For thus saith 
Jahveh : We have heard a cry of terror, fear, and no peace. 
Ver. 6. Ask now, and see whether a male bears a child % Why 
do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman 

CHAP. XXJ. 4-11. 5 

in childbirth, and every face turned to paleness? Ver. 7. 
Alas ! for that day is great, with none like it, and it is a time 
of distress for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it. Ver. 8. 
And it shall come to pass on that day, saith Jahveh of hosts, 
that I will break his yoke from upon thy neck, and I will burst 
thy bonds, and strangers shall no more put servitude on him ; 
Ver. 9. But they shall serve Jahveh their God, and David 
their king, whom I shall raise up to them. Ver. 10. But fear 
thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith Jahveh, neither be con- 
founded, Israel ; for, behold, I will save thee from afar, and 
thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall 
return, and be at rest, and be secure, and there shall be none 
making him afraid. Ver. 11. For I am with thee, saith 
Jahveh, to save thee ; for I will make an end of all the nations 
whither I have scattered thee, yet of thee will I not make an 
end, but I will chastise thee properly and will not let thee go 
quite unpunished." 

With ver. 4 is introduced the description of Israel's restora- 
tion announced in ver. 3. This introduction is not absolutely 
necessary, but neither is it for that reason spurious and to be 
expunged, as Hitzig seeks to do ; it rather corresponds to the 
breadth of Jeremiah's representation. The "'S in ver. 5 is ex- 
plicative : " Thus, namely, hath Jahveh spoken." With the 
lively dramatic power of a poet, the prophet at once transports 
the hearers or readers of his prophecy, in thought, into the 
great day to come, which is to bring deliverance to all Israel. 
As a day of judgment, it brings terror and anguish on all those 
who live to see it. rvrin bip, " A voice (sound) of trembling 
(or terror) we hear," viz. the people, of whom the prophet is 
one. *ins does not depend on ^yoc', but forms with b&v pro 
an independent clause : " There is fear and not peace" (or 
safety). Ver. 6. What is the cause of this great horror, which 
makes all men, from convulsive pains, hold their hands on their 
loins, so as to support their bowels, in which they feel the pangs, 
and which makes every countenance pale ? In ver. 7 the cause 
of this horror is declared. It is the great day of judgment 
that is coming. "That (not this) day" points to the future, 
and thus, even apart from other reasons, excludes the supposi- 
tion that it is the day of the destruction of Jerusalem that is 


meant. The words " that day is great" refer to Joel ii. 1 1, 
and " there is none like it" is an imitation of Joel ii. 2 ; in the 
latter passage the prophet makes use of a judgment which he 
had seen passed on Judah, — its devastation by locusts, — and 
for the first time presents, as the main element in his prophecy, 
the idea of the great day of judgment to come on all nations, 
and by which the Lord will perfect His kingdom on this earth. 
This day is for Jacob also, i.e. for all Israel, a time of distress ; 
for the judgment falls not merely on the heathen nations, but 
also on the godless members of the covenant people, that they 
may be destroyed from among the congregation of the Lord. 
The judgment is therefore for Israel as well as for other nations 
a critical juncture, from which the Israel of God, the com- 
munity of the faithful, will be delivered. This deliverance is 
described more in detail in ver. 8 ff. The Lord will break the 
yoke imposed on Israel, free His people from all bondage to 
strangers, i.e. the heathen, so that they may serve only Him, 
the Lord, and David, His king, whom He will raise up. The 
suffix in W is referred by several expositors (Hitzig, Nagels- 
bach) to the king of Babylon, "as having been most clearly 
before the minds of Jeremiah and his contemporaries;" in 
support of this view we are pointed to Isa. x. 27, as a passage 
which may have been before the eyes of Jeremiah. But 
neither this parallel passage nor T}^ (with the suffix of the 
second person), which immediately follows, sufficiently justifies 
this view. For, in the second half also of the verse, the second 
person is interchanged with the third, and Trrtnpto, which is 
parallel with i;>JJ, requires us to refer the suffix in the latter 
word to Jacob, so that " his yoke" means " the yoke laid on 
him," as in 1 Kings xii. 4, Isa. ix. 3. It is also to be borne in 
mind that, throughout the whole prophecy, neither Babylon 
nor the king of Babylon is once mentioned ; and that the 
judgment described in these verses cannot possibly be restricted 
to the downfall of the Babylonian monarchy, but is the judg- 
ment that is to fall upon all nations (ver. 11). And although 
this judgment begins with the fall of the Babylonian supre- 
macy, it will bring deliverance to the people of God, not 
merely from the yoke of Babylon, but from every yoke which 
strangers have laid or will lay on them. — Ver. 9. Then Israel 

CHAP. XXX. 12-17. 7 

will no longer serve strangers, i.e. foreign rulers who are 
heathens, but their God Jahveh, and David the king who will 
be raised up to them, i.e. the Messiah, the righteous sprout that 
Jahveh will raise up to David ; cf. xxiii. 5. The designation 
of this sprout as " David their king," i.e. the king of the 
Israelites, points us back to Hos. iii. 5. — Ver. 10 f. Israel the 
servant of Jahveh, i.e. the true Israel, faithful and devoted to 
God, need thus fear nothing, since their God will deliver them 
from the land of their captivity, and stand by them as their 
deliverer, so that they shall be able to dwell in peace and un- 
disturbed security in their own land. For Jahveh will make a 
complete end of all the nations among whom Israel has been 
scattered ; Israel, on the other hand, He shall certainly chastise, 
but BBEtei? (according to what is right, in due measure), that 
they may be made better by their punishment. As to the ex- 
pression BMfe^ "I?*, see on x. 24 ; for r6a TO i6 } see on iv. 27 
and v. IS' (*ink for IRK, v. 18) ; and lastly, on 1|S« l6 rijM, 
cf. Ex. xxxiv. 47, Num. xiv. 18, Nah. i. 3. — Vers. 10 and 11 
are repeated in xlvi. 27, 28, though with some slight changes. 1 
Vers. 12-17. Because Israel has been severely chastised for 
his sins, the Lord will noiv punish his enemies, and heal Israel. 
— Ver. 12. " For thus saith Jahveh : It is ill with thy bruise, 
thy wound is painful. Ver. 13. There is none to judge thy 
cause ; for a sore, healing-plaster there is none for thee. Ver. 
14. All thy lovers have forgotten thee, thee they seek not; 
for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, the 
chastisement of a cruel one, because of the multitude of thine 
iniquity, [because] thy sins were numerous. Ver. 15. Why 

1 The general strain of these verses is the same as that of the second 
portion of Isaiah ; hence Hitzig, following Movers, views them as an inter- 
polation made by the reviser. But this view is most incorrect, as Graf has 
already pointed out. The only expression which, besides the repetition 
made in xlvi. 27, occurs nowhere else in Jeremiah, but frequently in the 
second Isaiah, is, " my servant Jacob ;" cf. Isa. xliv. 1, 2, xlv. 4, xlviii. 
20 and xli. 8, xliv. 21, xlix. 3. All the rest is not characteristic of Isaiah. 
" Thus, ' Fear not, I am with thee,' is certainly found in Isa. xliii. 5, but 
also in Gen. xxvi. 24 ; ' Fear not, neither be afraid,' is found in a like con- 
nection in Isa. li. 7, but also in Jer. xxiii. 24, Deut. i. 21, xxxi. 8, Josh, 
viii. 1; cf. Isa. xliv. 2, Jer. i. 8, 17, Josh. i. 9. aipJP occurs also in vers. 7, 
10, 25, Lam. ii. 3. For ?|JWiD, cf. xiv.. 8; for prPD, cf. xxiii. 23, xxxi. 3, 


criest thou over thy bruise, — [because] thy wound is bad ? 
Because of the multitude of thine iniquity, [because] thy sins 
were numerous, have I done these things to thee. Ver. 16. 
Therefore all those who devour thee shall be devoured ; and all 
thine oppressors, they shall all go into captivity ; and they who 
spoiled thee shall become a spoil, and those that plundered thee 
I will give up for plunder. Ver. 17. For I will put a plaster 
on thee, and will heal thee of thy wounds, saith Jahveh ; for 
they call thee an outcast, [and say], Zion is she [whom] none 
seeketh after." 

This strophe is only a fuller expression of the idea set forth 
in ver. 11, that the Lord certainly chastises Israel, but will 
not make an end of him. The chastisement has commenced. 
From the wounds and blows which Israel has received, he lies 
motionless and helpless, getting neither sympathy nor aid from 
his lovers. The feminine suffix and the mention of lovers show 
that the address turns to the daughter of Zion. On the ex- 
pression TO&k «fc?, " it is ill with thy bruise," cf. xv. 18. 
H3JD rprti, " bad, incurable is the stroke which thou hast re- 
ceived," as in x. 19, xiv. 17. p P, "to execute justice;" cf. 
v. 28, xxii. 16. Hitzig well explains the meaning : a thy 
claims against thy heathen oppressors." "tilDp, although con- 
nected by the accents with what precedes, does not agree well 
with ^^ pj ; for "MO has not the meaning which has been 
attributed to it, of a u bandage," but, as derived from the verb 
"viT, "to press a wound," signifies the wound that has been 
pressed together ; see on Hos. v. 13. Neither does the figure 
of the wound agree with the expression, " there is none to judge 

li. 50. In the second part of Isaiah, pNK> occurs as seldom as TlfTD fNI ; 
on the other hand, cf. Jer. xlviii. 11, vii. 33.' The expressions found in 
ver. 11 are as rare in the second part of Isaiah as they are frequent in 
Jeremiah. Thus, ' For I am with thee to save thee' is found in xv. 20, xlii. 
11 ; 'to make a full end ' occurs also in iv. 27, v. 10, 18 ; ' I shall certainly 
not let thee go unpunished,' which, like Nah. i. 3, seems to have been taken 
from Ex. xxxiv. 7 or Num. xiv. 18, is not found at all in the second part of 
Isaiah ; pan, which is found in ix. 15, xiii. 24, xviii. 17, xxiii. 1 f., appears 
only in Isa. xli. 16 ; and while t35ti'E& "ID 11 is used in the same meaning in 
x. 24, "iD> occurs nowhere in the second part of Isaiah, and tSStJ'a!' is 
found in Isa. xli. 1, liv. 17, lix. 11, in quite a different connection and 
meaning." (Graf.) 

CHAP. XXX. 12-17. 9 

thy cause," so that we might, with Umbreit, render the passage, 
"No one gives thee thy due, in pressing thy wounds;" while, 
as Graf says, " niN3"i dissociated from "llTO? forms a useless 
synonym with '"V^," and in xlvi. 11, where the thought is re- 
peated, it is separated from the latter word. Accordingly, with 
Hitzisj and Graf, we connect niSD") "lilD? into one clause : " for 
the wound, there is no healing (or medicine) — no plaster," 
npyri is what is laid upon the wound, a plaster. " All thy 
lovers," i.e. the nations which were once allied with thee (cf. 
xxii. 20 and 22), do not trouble themselves about thee, because 
I have smitten thee so heavily on account of the multitude of 
thy transgressions ; cf . v. 6, xiii. 22. wsy still depends on the 
preposition ?y, which continues its force, but as a conjunction. 
The idea that the Israelites have richly deserved their sufferings 
is still more plainly presented in ver. 15 : " Why criest thou, 
because thou hast brought this suffering on thee through thy 
sins'?" B'WNt also depends on ?V y which continues to exert its 
power in the sentence as a conjunction. — Ver. 16 f. Therefore 
(i.e. because Israel, although punished for his sins, is destitute 
of help) will the Lord take pity on him. He will recompense 
to his oppressors and spoilers according to their deeds, and will 
heal his wounds. The enemies of Zion will now meet the fate 
which they have prepared for Zion. Those who, like rapacious 
animals, w r ould devour Israel (see on ii. 3), shall be devoured, 
and all his oppressors shall go into captivity ; cf. xxii. 22. The 
Kethib 'JnpxbJ is the Aramaic form of the participle from DNB> 
for DD'^; the Qeri substitutes the Hebrew form ^Db>, after 
1. 11, Isa. xvii. 14. nanx rpy, to put on a bandage, lay on a 
plaster. n ?^. signifies, primarily, not a bandage, but, like the 

Arabic i£jj\ (according to Fleischer in Delitzsch on Isa. lviii. 

8), the new skin which forms over a wound as it heals, and 
(as is shown by the expression of Isaiah, riDVri"T]ri3"is) proves 
the healing of the wound. Against the direct transference of 
the meaning of the word in Arabic to the Hebrew n ?")N, with- 
out taking into consideration the passage in Isaiah just referred 
to, there is the objection that the word is always used in con- 
nection with n^y ? "to be put on" (cf. viii. 22, 2 Chron. xxiv. 
13, Neh. iv. 1), or nbyn, " to put on" (here and in xxxiii. 6), 


which is not the proper verb to be used in speaking of the 
formation of a new skin over a wound after suppuration has 
ceased. Hence the word in Hebrew seems to have received 
the derived sense of "a healing-plaster;" this is confirmed by 
the employment of the word n^yn, " plaster," in ver. 13 and 
xlvi. 11. — The second '3, ver. 17, is subordinate to the clause 
which precedes. " Because they called thee one rejected," i.e. 
because the enemies of Zion spoke of her contemptuously, as a 
city that has been forsaken of God, the Lord will heal her 

Vers. 18-22. Further explanation of the deliverance promised 
to Zio7i.—Ver. 18. " Thus saith Jahveh : Behold, I will turn 
the captivity of the tents of Jacob, and will take pity on his 
dwellings ; and the city shall be built again upon its own hill, 
and the palace shall be inhabited after its own fashion. Ver. 
19. And there shall come forth from them praise and the 
voice of those who laugh ; and I will multiply them, so that 
they shall not be few, and I will honour them, so that they shall 
not be mean. Ver. 20. And his sons shall be as in former 
times, and his congregation shall be established before me, and 
I will punish all that oppress him. Ver. 21. And his leader 
shall spring from himself, and his ruler shall proceed from his 
midst ; and I will bring him near, so that he shall approach to 
me ; for who is he that became surety for his life in drawing 
near to me ? saith Jahveh. Ver. 22. And ye shall become my 
people, and I will be your God." 

The dwellings of Israel that have been laid waste, and the 
cities that have been destroyed, shall be restored and inhabited 
as formerly, so that songs of praise and tones of joy shall re- 
sound from them (ver. 18 f.). "The captivity of the tents of 
Jacob" means the miserable condition of the dwellings of 
Jacob, i.e. of all Israel; for "to turn the captivity" has every- 
where a figurative sense, and signifies the turning of adversity 
and misery into prosperity and comfort; see on xxix. 14. 
Hitzig is quite wrong in his rendering : " I bring back the 
captives of the tents of Jacob, i.e. those who have been carried 
away out of the tents." That " tents " does not stand for those 
who dwell in tents, but is a poetic expression for " habitations," 
is perfectly clear from the parallel " his dwellings." To " take 

CHAP. XXX. 18-22. 11 

pity on the dwellings" means to "restore the dwellings that 
have been destroyed" (ef. ix. 18). The anarthrous TP must 
not be restricted to the capital, but means every city that has 
been destroyed ; here, the capital naturally claims the first con- 
sideration. "Upon its hills" is equivalent to saying on its 
former site, cf. Josh. xi. 13 ; it does not mean " on the mound 
made by its ruins," in support of which Nagelsbach erroneously 
adduces Deut. xiii. 17. tfB"iK in like mariner stands, in the 
most general way, for every palace. iB3B>"»"7P does not mean 
" on the proper place," i.e. on an open, elevated spot on the 
hill (Hitzig), neither does it mean " on its right position " 
(Ewald) ; both of these renderings are against the usage of the 
words : but it signifies " according to its right" (cf. Deut. xvii. 
11), i.e. in accordance with what a palace requires, after its 
own fashion. 3^, to be inhabited, as in xvii. 6, etc. " Out 
of them " refers to the cities and palaces. Thence proceeds, 
resounds praise or thanksgiving for the divine grace sho-vvn 
them (cf. xxxiii. 11), and the voice, i.e. the tones or sounds, of 
those who laugh (cf. xv. 17), i.e. of the people living in the 
cities and palaces, rejoicing over their good fortune. " I will 
increase them, so that they shall not become fewer," cf . xxix. 6 ; 
" I will bring them to honour (cf. Isa. viii. 23), so that they 
shall not be lightly esteemed." — In ver. 20 f. the singular suf- 
fixes refer to Jacob as a nation (ver. 18). " His sons" are the 
members of the nation; they become as they were previously, 
in former times, — sicut olim sub Davide et Salomone, florentissimo 
rerum statu. " The congregation will be established before me," 
i.e. under my survey (p3H as in Ps. cii. 29), i.e. they shall no 
more be shaken or moved from their position. — Ver. 21. The 
expression " his prince will be out of him" is explained by the 
parallel clause, " his ruler will proceed from him." The mean- 
ing is, that the people will no longer be ruled or subdued by 
foreign masters, but be ruled by glorious princes, i.e. leaders 
endowed with princely glory, and these out of the midst of 
themselves. Herein is contained the truth, that the sovereignty 
of Israel, as restored, culminates in the kingdom of the Messiah. 
Yet the words employed are so general that we cannot restrict 
VVnK and i^O to the person of the Messiah. The idea is to be 
taken in a more general way : As Israel was ruled by princes 


of the house of David, whom God had chosen, so will it again 
in the future have its own rulers, whom God will raise out of 
their midst and exalt gloriously. This is clear from the 
further statement, " I will cause him to approach, and he shall 
come near unto me." To affirm that these words do not refer 
to the ruler, but to the people, is a mistake that could he made 
only by those expositors who view the " ruler " as being none 
else than the Messiah. Yet the LXX. and the Chaldee para- 
phrase understood the words as referring to the people ; and in 
support of this view, it may be asserted that, in the Messianic 
period, Israel is to become a holy people (iii. 17), and attain its 
destiny of being a nation of priests (Ex. xix. 6), in reference to 
which it is called ta'li? Dy, Ps. cxlviii. 14. But the context 
evidently requires us to refer the words to the king, with re- 
gard to whom one here looks for a further statement. The verb 
3"nj?n is the regular expression employed in reference to the 
approach on the part of the priests to Jahveh, cf. Num. xvi. 5 ; 
and c'33 in Ex. xxiv. 2 denotes the approach of Moses to Jahveh 
on Mount Sinai. The two verbs thus signify a bringing near 
and a coming near, which, under the old covenant, was the 
prerogative of those persons who were consecrated by the Lord 
to be servants in His sanctuary, but was denied the common 
people. As to the kings of Israel, in regard to this matter, the 
ordinance proclaimed concerning Joshua held good in reference 
to them also : " he shall stand before Eleazar, who shall inquire 
for him in a matter of Urim before Jahveh" (Num. xxvii. 21). 
Even a David could not approach into the immediate presence 
of the Lord to ask His will. This prerogative of the priests 
the Lord will, in the future, vouchsafe also to the princes of 
Israel, i.e. He will then put them in such a relation to Himself 
as no one may now presume to occupy, except at the risk of his 
life. This is shown by the succeeding sentence, which assigns 
the reason : " For who is there that stands surety for his heart, 
i.e. with his heart answers for the consequences of approaching 
me?" aj? and not E'M is named, as the seat of physical life, 
in so far as the heart is the place where the soul is alone with 
itself, and becomes conscious of all it does and suffers as its own 
(Oehler in Delitzsch's Psychology, p. 296 of Clark's Transla- 
tion). The meaning is, that nobody will stake his spiritual- 

CHAP. XXX. 23, 24. 13 

moral life on any attempt to draw near to God, because a sinful 
man is destroyed before the holiness of the Divine Being. 
Whoever approaches into the presence of Jahveh must die ; 
Num. viii. 19 ; Ex. xix. 21, xxxiv. 3, etc. — Ver. 22. Then Israel 
shall really become the people of the Lord, and the Lord shall 
be their God; thus the end of their divine calling shall be 
attained, and the salvation of Israel shall be complete ; see on 
vii. 23. 

Vers. 23, 24. The wicked shall be destroyed by the fire of 
God's anger. — Ver. 23. " Behold, a whirlwind of Jahveh, — wrath 
goeth forth, — a sweeping whirlwind ; it shall hurl down on the 
head of the wicked. Ver. 24. The heat of Jahveh's anger 
shall not return till He hath done and till He hath established 
the purpose of His heart ; in the end of the days ye shall con- 
sider it." 

These two verses have been already met with in chap, xxiii. 
19 and 20, with a few variations. Instead of p?innn we have 
here TD^?; and nttP-S|K is here strengthened by prefixing Ji"in ; 
on the other hand, nya, which is added in the preceding passage 
to intensify Uiiann, is here omitted. The first of these changes 
is more of a formal than a real kind ; for by the substitution 
of "niarjo for ^nrio, the play in the latter word on ^n* is 
merely disturbed, not " destroyed," since n and h are kindred 
sounds. Tpann has been variously rendered. The meaning of 
" abiding," which is founded on 1 Kings xvii. 20, is here un- 
suitable. Equally inappropriate is the meaning of " crowding 
together," or assembling in troops, which we find in Hos. vii. 
14. It is more correct to derive it from "na, either in the sense 
of sweeping away or that of blustering, which are meanings 
derived from the fundamental one of producing harsh sounds 
in the throat, and transferred to the rushing sound made by the 
storm as it carries everything along with it. The second and 
third changes affect the sense. For, by the addition of pn 
to P)^, the idea of a judgment in wrath is intensified ; and 
by dropping rW3j less is made of the acuteness of perception. 
Both of these variations correspond to differences in the context 
of both passages. In chap, xxiii., where the words are applied 
to the false prophets, it was important to place emphasis on 
the statement that these men would, by experience, come to a 


full knowledge of the reality of that judgment they denied ; in 
this chapter, on the other hand, the idea of judgment in wrath 
must be expressly set aside. There is thus no good ground for 
considering these verses a later interpolation into the text, as 
Movers, Hitzig, and Nagelsbach think. Hitzig rejects these 
verses as spurious on the false ground that the judgment 
threatened in this chapter refers merely to the fall of the king- 
dom of Babylon, which Jeremiah could not have been able to 
know beforehand ; Nagelsbach rejects them on the ground of 
other erroneous assumptions. 1 — The only doubtful point regard- 
ing these verses is, whether they are to be connected, as Hengsten- 
berg thinks, with what precedes, or with what follows, as Ewald 
supposes. In the former case, to the promise for the true Israel 
would be added a threat against those who only seemed to be 
Israel, — like the declaration in Isaiah, " There is no peace to 
the wicked :" this addition would thus be made, lest those for 
whom the promise was not intended should unwarrantably apply 
it to themselves. But, however well-founded the thought is, that 
every increasing manifestation of grace is invariably accom- 
panied by an increased manifestation of righteousness, and 
though all the prophets clearly testify that the godless members 
of the covenant people have no share in the promised salvation, 
but instead are liable to judgment ; yet there has not been such 
preparation made for the introduction of this thought as that 
we might be able at once to join these two verses to what pre- 
cedes. The exclamation " Behold !" with which the words are 
introduced, rather form a sign that a new addition is to be made 
to the prophecy. We therefore view the threat in this verse as 
a resumption of the threat of judgment made in ver. 5 ff., to 

1 First, he holds the groundless opinion that this propbecy originated in 
the time of Josiah, and therefore could not have borrowed verses from the 
address given in chap, xxiii., which belongs to the time of Jehoiakim ; 
secondly, with as little ground he affirms that these verses do not corre- 
spond with the character of the chapter, and seem like a jarring discord 
in the midst of the announcement of deliverance it contains ; finally, he 
asks whence could come " the wicked" mentioned, in the times described 
by the prophet, — as if he thought that when the captivity of tbe people was 
turned, all godless ones would suddenly disappear. — The doubts as to the 
genuineness of ver. 22 are based by Nagelsbach merely on the fact that 
the same idea is repeated in xxxi. 1. 

CHAP. XXXI. 1-G. 15 

which is attached, in xxxi. 1, the further development of the 
announcement of deliverance ; but we refer the threat made in 
the verse not merely to the heathen as such, but to all " wicked 
ones," in such a way that it at the same time applies to the 
godless members of the covenant people, and signifies their 
exclusion from salvation. 

Chap. xxxi. The salvation for all the families of 
Israel. — Ewald has well stated the connection of this chapter 
with the conclusion of the preceding, as follows : " In order 
that the old form of blessing, found in the books of Moses, and 
here given in ver. 22, may be fulfilled, the whirlwind of Jahveh, 
which must carry away all the unrighteous, will at last dis- 
charge itself, as has been already threatened, xxiii. 19 ; this 
must take place in order that there may be a fulfilment of that 
hope to all the tribes of Israel (both kingdoms)." Ver. 1 
announces deliverance for all the families of Israel, but after- 
wards it is promised to both divisions of the people sepa- 
rately, — first, in vers. 2-22, to the ten tribes, who have been 
exiles the longest ; and then, in a more brief statement, vers. 
23-26, to the kingdom of Judah : to this, again, there is ap- 
pended, vers. 27-40, a further description of the nature of the 
deliverance in store for the two houses of Israel. 

Vers. 1-6. The deliverance for all Israel, and the readmission 
of the ten tribes. — Ver. 1. "At that time, saith Jahveh, will I 
be a God to all the families of Israel, and they shall be my 
people. Ver. 2. Thus saith Jahveh : A people escaped from 
the sword found grace in the wilderness. Let me go to give 
him rest, even Israel. Ver. 3. From afar hath Jahveh ap- 
peared unto me, and with everlasting love have I loved thee ; 
therefore have I continued my favour towards thee. Ver. 4. 
Once more will I build thee up, and thou shalt be built, O 
virgin of Israel ; once more shalt thou adorn [thyself] with thy 
tabrets, and go forth in the dance of those that make merry. 
Ver. 5. Once more shalt thou plant vineyards on the hills of 
Samaria ; planters will plant them, and apply them to common 
use. Ver. 6. For there is a day [when] watchmen will cry on 
Mount Ephraim : Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion, to Jahveh 
our God I " 


The expression " At that time" refers to xxx. 24, " in the 
end of the days," which means the Messianic future. The 
announcement of deliverance itself is continued by resumption 
of the promise made in xxx. 22 ; the transposition of the two 
portions of the promise is to be remarked. Here, " I will be a 
God to them " stands first, because the restoration and perfec- 
tion of Israel have their only foundation in the love of God 
and in the faithfulness with which He keeps His covenant, and 
it is only through this gracious act that Israel again becomes 
the people of God. " All the families of Israel" are the 
families of the whole twelve tribes, — of the two kingdoms of 
Israel and Judah, separated since the death of Solomon. After 
this announcement of deliverance for the whole of Israel, the 
address turns first to Israel of the ten tribes, and continues to 
treat longest of them, " because, judging from appearances, 
they seem irrecoverably lost — for ever rejected by the Lord " 
(Hengstenberg). Ver. 2a is variously explained. Ewald, fol- 
lowing Raschi and others, refers the words 'Ui |n KVft to the 
leading of Israel out of Egypt : once on a time, in the Arabian 
desert, the people that had just barely escaped the sword of the 
Egyptians nevertheless found grace, when Jahveh, as it were, 
went to make a quiet dwelling-place for them. The love which 
He displayed towards them at that time He has since continued, 
and thus He will now once more bring back His people out of 
the midst of strangers. This view of the passage is supported 
by the use of the perfects in vers. 2 and 3, in contrast, with the 
imperfect, " again will I build thee," ver. 4, and the employ- 
ment of the expression " in the desert ;" cf. ii. 2, Hos. xiii. 
4, 5. But " the people of those who have escaped the sword" 
is an expression that cannot be reconciled with it. Easchi, 
indeed, understands this as referring to the sword of the Egyp- 
tians and Amalekites ; but the thought that Israel, led out of 
Egypt through the Arabian desert, was a people that had sur- 
vived or escaped the sword, is one met with nowhere else in the 
Old Testament, and is quite inapplicable to the condition of the 
people of Israel when they were led out of Egypt. Although 
Pharaoh wished to exterminate the people of Israel through 
hard servile labour, and through such measures as the order to 
kill all male children when they were born, yet he did not make 

CHAP. XXXI. 1-6. 17 

an exhibition of his wrath against Israel by the sword, neither 
did he show his anger thus at the Red Sea, where he sought 
to bring Israel back to Egypt by force. There God shielded 
His people from the attack of Pharaoh, as He did in the battle 
against the Amalekites, so that Israel was led through the desert 
as a whole people, not as a remnant. The designation, " a people 
escaped from the sw r ord," unconditionally requires us to refer 
the words to the deliverance of the Israelites from exile ; these 
were only a remnant of what they had formerly been, since 
the greater portion of them perished, partly at the downfall of 
the kingdom, and partly in exile, by the sword of the enemy. 
Hence the perfects in vers. 2 and 3 are prophetic, and used of 
the divine counsel, which precedes its execution in time. By 
using the expression " in the desert," Jeremiah makes an allu- 
sion to Israel's being led through the Arabian desert. The 
restoration of Israel to Canaan, from their exile among the 
nations, is viewed under the figure of their exodus from Egypt 
into the land promised to their fathers, as in Hos. ii. 16 f. ; and 
the exodus from the place of banishment is, at the same time, 
represented as having already occurred, so that Israel is again 
on the march to his native land, and is being safely conducted 
through the desert by his God. There is as little ground for 
thinking that there is reference here "made to the desert lying 
between Assyria or Babylon and Palestine, as there is for 
Hitzig's referring 3"in *TnE> to the sword of the Medes and 
Persians. — The inf. abs. "^vri is used instead of the first person 
of the imperative (cf. 1 Kings xxii. 30), to express a summons 
addressed by God to Himself : " I will go." [See Gesenius, 
§ 131, 4, b, 7.] The suffix in Wpn points out the object (Israel) 
by anticipation : " to bring him to rest." W"i in the Hiphil 
usually means to be at rest, to rest (Deut. xxviii. 65) ; here, to 
give rest, bring to rest. — Ver. 3. The people already see in 
spirit how the Lord is accomplishing His purpose, ver. 2b. 
" From afar (the prophet speaks in the name of the people, of 
which he views himself as one) hath Jahveh appeared unto 
me." So long as Israel languished in exile, the Lord had with- 
drawn from him, kept Himself far off. Now the prophet sees 
Him appearing again. " From afar," i.e. from Zion, where the 
Lord is viewed as enthroned, the God of His people (Ps. xiv. 7), 



sitting there to lead them back into their land. But the Lord 
at once assures the people, who have been waiting for Him, of 
His everlasting love. Because He loves His people with ever- 
lasting love, therefore has He kept them by His grace, so that 
they we're not destroyed. ^O, to draw, keep, restrain ; hence 
"Ipn ^E'Dj prolongare gratiam, Ps. xxxvi. 11, cix. 12, but con- 
strued with P of a person ; here, with a double accusative, to 
restrain any one, to preserve him constantly by grace. — Ver. 4. 
Israel is now to be built up again, i.e. to be raised to a permanent 
condition of ever-increasing prosperity; cf. xii. 16. The addi- 
tional clause, " and thou shalt be built," confirms this promise. 
The " virgin of Israel" is the congregation of Israel: cf. xiv. 
17. A new and joyful phase in the life of the people is to 
begin : such is the meaning of the words, " with tabrets shalt 
thou adorn thyself, and thou shalt go forth in the dance of 
those who make merry." In this manner were the popular 
feasts celebrated in Israel ; cf. Judg. xi. 34, Ps. lxviii. 26. — 
Ver. 5. " The mountains of Samaria," i.e. of the kingdom of 
Ephraim (1 Kings xiii. 22 ; 2 Kings xvii. 24), shall again be 
planted with vineyards, and the planters, too, shall enjoy the 
fruits in peace, — not plant for strangers, so that enemies shall 
destroy the fruits ; cf. Isa. lxii. 8 f., lxv. 21 f. The words 
"planters plant and profane" (i.e. those who plant the vine- 
yards are also to enjoy the fruit of them) are to be explained 
by the law in Lev. xix. 23 f., according to which the fruits of 
newly planted fruit trees, and according to Judg. ix. 27, vines 
also, were not to be eaten during the first three years ; those of 
the fourth year were to be presented as a thank-offering to the 
Lord ; and only those of the fifth year were to be applied to 
common use. This application to one's own use is expressed 
in Deut. xx. 6 by ??n, properly, to make common. — Ver. 6 is 
attached to the foregoing by "'S, which introduces the reason of 
what has been stated. The connection is as follows : This pros- 
perous condition of Ephraim is to be a permanent one ; for the 
sin of Jeroboam, the seduction of the ten tribes from the sanc- 
tuary of the Lord, shall not continue, but Ephraim shall once 
more, in the future, betake himself to Zion, to the Lord his 
God. " There is a day," i.e. there comes a day, a time, when 
watchmen call. Cnyb here denotes the watchmen who were posted 

CHAP. XXXI. 7-14. 19 

on the mountains, that they might observe and give notice of 
the first appearance of the crescent of the moon after new- 
moon, so that the festival of the new-moon and the feasts con- 
nected with it might be fixed ; cf. Keil's Bill. Avchaol. ii. § 74, 

Anm. 9 Tsee also the articles Mond and Neumond in Herzoo-'s 

' . . . 

Real-Encykl. vols. ix. and x. ; New-moon in Smith's Bible Dic- 
tionary^ vol. ii.]. "W, to go up to Jerusalem, which was pre- 
eminent among the cities of the land as to spiritual matters. 

Vers. 7-14. The restoration of Israel. — Ver. 7. "For thus 
saith J ah veh : Shout for joy over Jacob, and cry out over the 
head of the nations ! Make known, praise, and say, O Jahveh, 
save Thy people, the remnant of Israel ! Ver. 8. Behold, I will 
bring them out of the land of the north, and will gather them 
from the sides of the earth. Among them are the blind and 
lame, the woman with child and she that hath born, together ; 
a great company shall they return hither. Ver. 9. With weep- 
ing shall they come, and with supplications will I lead them : 
I will bring them to streams of water, by a straight way in 
which they shall not stumble ; for I have become a father to 
Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born. Ver. 10. Hear the word 
of Jahveh, ye nations, and declare among the islands far off, 
and say : He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep 
him, as a shepherd his flock. Ver. 11. For Jahveh hath re- 
deemed Israel and ransomed him out of the hand of one stronger 
than he. Ver. 12. And they shall come and sing with joy on 
the height of Zion, and come like a flood to the goodness of 
Jahveh, because of corn, and new wine, and fresh oil, and the 
young of the flock and the herd ; and their soul shall be like a 
well-watered garden, neither shall they pine away any more. 
Ver. 13. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and young 
men and old men together; and I will turn their mourning to 
joy, and will comfort them, and will cause them to rejoice after 
their sorrow. Ver. 14. And I will satiate the soul of the priests 
with fat, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, 
saith Jahveh." 

In order to set forth the greatness of the salvation which the 
Lord will prepare for Israel, so long outcast, Israel is commanded 
to make loud jubilation, and exhorted to approach the Lord 
with entreaties for the fulfilment of His purpose of grace. The 


statement regarding this salvation is introduced by V3, " for," 
since the description, given in this strophe, of Israel's being led 
back and re-established, furnishes the actual proof that the 
nation shall be built up again. The summons to rejoice comes 
from Jahveh (since, by His gracious dealings, He gives the 
people material for praise), and is addressed to the members 
of the nation. These are to rejoice over Jacob, i.e. over the 
glorious destiny before the people. D^n ^in VTV2 is translated 
by Hitzig : " shout at the head of the nations," i.e. making a 
beginning among them all; but this is incorrect and against 
the context. The thought that many other enslaved nations 
besides Israel will rejoice over the fall of their oppressors, has 
not the least foundation in this passage. The summons to the 
nations, which follows in ver. 10, is simply a command to make 
known God's purpose regarding the deliverance of Israel. Of 
course, K< ; N">3, taken literally and by itself, may be rendered 
"at the head" (1 Kings xxi. 12 ; Amos vi. 7, etc.) ; but in this 
place, the expression of which it forms the first word is the 
object of vnXj which is construed with 3, " to rejoice over some- 
thing," Isa. xxiv. 4. " The head of the nations" signifies " the 
first of the nations" (ttfon IWiO, Amos vi. 1), i.e. the most 
exalted among the nations. Such is the designation given to 
Israel, because God has chosen them before all the nations of 
the earth to be His peculiar people (Deut. vii. 6 ; 2 Sam. vii. 
23 f.), made them the highest over (?$ |i\j>J>, Deut. xxvi. 19) all 
nations. This high honour of Israel, which seemed to have 
been taken from him by his being delivered over to the power 
of heathen nations, is now to appear again, wn ^Ofn, "make 
to be heard, sing praise," are to be combined into one thought, 
" sing praise loudly" (so that people may hear it). The words 
of praise, " Save Thy people, O Jahveh," form rather the 
expression of a wish than of a request, just as in many psalm?, 
e.g. Ps. xx. 10, xxviii. 9, especially cxviii. 25 in N3 JW'in, 
with which Jesus was greeted on His entry into Jerusalem, 
Matt. xxi. 9 (Graf). — To the rejoicing and praise the Lord 
replies with the promise that He will lead back His people out 
of the most distant countries of the north,— every one, even the 
feeble and frail, who ordinarily would not have strength for so 
long a journey. " Hither," i.e. to Palestine, where Jeremiah 

CHAP. XXXI. 7-14. 21 

wrote the promise ; cf. iii. 18, xvi. 15. — " With weeping," i.e. 
with tears of joy, and with contrition of heart over favour so 
undeserved, they come, and God leads them with weeping, 
" amidst earnest prayers to the God they have found again, as 
a lost son returns to the arms of his father" (Umbreit). Hitzig 
and Graf would connect D^^nnii with what precedes, and com- 
bine " I will lead them, I will bring them ;" by this arrange- 
ment, it is said, the careful guidance of God, in leaving nothing 
behind, is properly set forth. But the symmetry of the verse 
is thereby destroyed ; and the reason assigned for this construc- 
tion (which is opposed by the accents), viz. that E^nri does 
not mean miseratio, dementia, will not stand the test. As in 
Isa. lv. 12 it is the being brought nnob'Il that is the chief point, 
so here, it is the bringing ta^wqna, amidst weeping, i.e. fervent 
prayer. At the same time, the Lord will care like a father for 
their refreshment and nurture ; He will lead them to brooks of 
water, so that they shall not suffer thirst in the desert (Isa. 
xlviii. 21), and guide them by a straight (i.e. level) road, so that 
they shall not fall. For He shows Himself again to Israel as 
a father, one who cares for them like a father (cf. iii. 19, Deut. 
xxxii. 6, Isa. Ixiii. 16), and treats Ephraim as His first-born. 
" The first-born of Jahveh," in Ex. iv. 22, means the people 
of Israel as compared with the other nations of the earth. 
This designation is here transferred to Ephraim as the head 
and representative of the ten tribes ; but it is not likely that 
there is in this any allusion to the preference which Jacob dis- 
played for the sons of Joseph, Gen. xlix. 22 ff. compared witli 
ver. 4 (Venema, J. D. Michaelis, Nagelsbach),— the advantage 
they obtained consisting in this, that Ephraim and Manasseh were 
placed on an equal footing with Jacob's sons as regards inheri- 
tance in the land of Canaan ; in other words, they were elevated 
to the dignity of being founders of tribes. There is no trace 
in this prophecy of any preference given to Ephraim before 
Judah, or of the ten tribes before the two tribes of the king- 
dom of Judah. That the deliverance of Ephraim (Israel) from 
exile is mentioned before that of Judah, and is further more 
minutely described, is simply due to the fact, already mentioned, 
that the ten tribes, who had long languished in exile, had the 
least hope, according to man's estimation, of deliverance. The 


designation of Ephraim as the first-born of Jaliveh simply 
shows that, in the deliverance of the people, Ephraim is in no 
respect to be behind Judah, — that they are to receive their full 
share in the Messianic salvation of the whole people ; in other 
words, that the love which the Lord once displayed towards 
Israel, when He delivered them out of the power of Pharaoh, 
is also to be, in the future, displayed towards the ten tribes, who 
were looked on as lost. The nature of fatherhood and sonship, 
as set forth in the Old Testament, does not contain the element 
of the Spirit's testimony to our spirit, but only the idea of 
paternal care and love, founded on the choosing of Israel out 
of all the nations to be the peculiar people of God ; see on Ex. 
iv. 22 and Isa. lxiii. 16, Ixiv. 7. I|> p3 is substantially the same 
as "^ J3 and &yt[0 T&J in ver. 20.— Ver. 10 f . The most remote 
of the heathen, too, are to be told that Jahveh will free His 
people from their hands, gather them again, and highly favour 
them, lest they should imagine that the God of Israel has not 
the power to save His people, and that they may learn to fear 
Him as the Almighty God, who has given His people into their 
power, not from any inability to defend them, but merely for 
the purpose of chastising them for their sins. D^K are the 
islands in, and countries lying along the coast of, the Mediter- 
ranean Sea ; in the language of prophecy, the word is used 
as a designation of the distant countries of the west ; cf. Ps. 
lxxii. 10, Isa. xli. 1, 5, xlii. 12, etc. On ver. 10Z>, cf. xxiii. 3, 
Ex. xxxiv. 12 ff., Isa. xl. 11. " Stronger than he," as in Ps. 
xxxv. 10 ; the expression is here used of the heathen master of 
the world. — Vers. 12-14. Thus led by the Lord through the 
wilderness (ver. 9), the redeemed shall come rejoicing to the 
sacred height of Zion (see on xvii. 12), and thence go in streams, 
i.e. scatter themselves over the country like a stream, for the 
goodness of the Lord, i.e. for the good things which He deals 
out to them in their native land. " To the goodness of Jahveh" 
is explained by " because of corn," etc. (/V for P^), cf. Hos. 
iii. 5. As to the good things of the country, cf. Deut. viii. 8. 
Their soul will be like a well-watered garden, an emblem of 
the fulness and freshness of living power ; cf. Isa. lviii. 11. — 
Ver. 13. Then shall young men and old live in unclouded joy, 
and forget all their former sorrow. " In the dance " refers 

CHAP. XXXI. 15-22. 23 

merely to the virgins : to " young men and old together," only 
the notion of joy is to be repeated from the context. — Ver. 14. 
The priests and the people will refresh themselves with the fat, 
i.e. the fat pieces of the thank-offerings, because numerous 
offerings will be presented to the Lord in consequence of the 
blessing received from Him. 

Vers. 15-22. Changing of sorrow into joy, because Ephraim 
will turn to the Lord, and the Lord ivill lead him back. — Ver. 15. 
" Thus saith Jahveh : A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, 
bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children ; she refuses 
to be comforted for her children, because they are not. Ver. 16. 
Thus saith Jahveh : Restrain thy voice from weeping, and thine 
eyes from tears ; for there is a reward for thy work, saith 
Jahveh, and they shall return from the land of the enemy. 
Ver. 17. And there is hope for thy latter end, saith Jahveh, 
that children shall return to thy border. Ver. 18. I have cer- 
tainly heard Ephraim complaining, Thou hast chastised me and 
I was chastised, like a calf not tamed. Turn me that I may 
turn, for Thou, O Jahveh, art my God. Ver. 19. For, after I 
return I repent, and after I have been taught I smite upon 
[my] thigh ; I am ashamed, yea, and confounded, because I 
bear the reproach of my youth. Ver. 20. Is Ephraim a son 
dear to me, or a child of delight, that, as often as I speak against 
him, I do yet certainly remember him ? Therefore my bowels 
move for him; I shall surely pity him, saith Jahveh- Ver. 21. 
Set thee up way-marks, put up posts for thyself ; set thine heart 
to the highway, the road [by which] thou earnest : return, O 
virgin of Israel, return to these cities of thine. Ver. 22. How 
long wilt thou wander about, O backsliding daughter? For 
Jahveh hath created a new [thing] in the earth : a woman shall 
encompass a man." 

In this strophe the promise is further confirmed by carrying 
out the thought, that Israel's release from his captivity shall 
certainly take place, however little prospect there is of it at 
present. For Israel will come to an acknowledgment of his 
sins, and the Lord will then once more show him His love. 
The hopeless condition of Israel is dramatically set forth in 
ver. 15 f. : Rachel, the mother of Joseph, and thus the ances- 
tress of Ephraim, the chief tribe of the Israelites who had 


revolted from the royal house of David,- weeps bitterly over the 
loss of her children, the ten tribes who have been carried away 
into exile ; and the Lord addresses consolation to her, with the 
promise that they shall return out of the land of the enemy. 
" A voice is heard" ($%&*, participle, to show duration). The 
" voice" is more fully treated of in the second part of the verse : 
loud lamentation and bitter weeping. There is a difficulty con- 
nected with n»"i3. The LXX. took it to be the name of the 

t t ; 

city Ramah, now called er-Rdm, in the tribe of Benjamin, five 
English miles north from Jerusalem, on the borders of the king- 
doms of Judah and Israel (1 Kings xv. 17), although this city 
is elsewhere written with the article (jWSV?), not on ty m tne n ^ s " 
torical notices found in xl. 1, Josh, xviii. 25, Judg. iv. 5, etc., 
but also in prophetical addresses, as in Hos. vi, 8, Isa. x. 29. 
In this passage it cannot be a mere appellative (" on a height"), 
as in 1 Sam. xxii. 6, Ezek. xvi. 24 ; nor can we think of Ramah 
in Naphtali (Josh. xix. 36, also •""?")?), for this latter city never 
figures in history like the Ramah of Samuel, not far from 
Gibeah ; see on Josh, xviii. 25 and 1 Sam. i. 1, But why is 
the lamentation of Rachel heard at Ramah ? Most expositors 
reply, because the tomb of Rachel was in the vicinity of Ramah ; 
in support of this they cite 1 Sam. x. 2. Nagelsbach, who is 
one of these, still maintains this view with the utmost confi- 
dence. But this assumption is opposed to Gen. xxxv. 16 and 
19, where it is stated that Rachel died and w T as buried on the 
way to Bethlehem, and not far from the town (see on Genesis, 
I.e.), which is about five miles south from Jerusalem, and thus 
far from Ramah. Nor is any support for this view to be got 
from 1 Sam. x. 2, except by making the groundless assumption, 
that Saul, while seeking for the asses of his father, came to 
Samuel in his native town ; whereas, in the account given in 
that chapter, he is merely said to have sought for Samuel in a 
certain town, of which nothing more is stated, and to have 
inquired at him ; see on 1 Sam. x. 2. We must therefore 
reject, as arbitrary and groundless, all attempts to fix the locality 
of Rachel's sepulchre in the neighbourhood of Ramah (Nagels- 
bach) ; in the same way we must treat the assertion of Thenius, 
Knobel, Graf, etc., that the Ephratah of Gen. xxxv. 16, 19, is 
the same as the Ephron of 2 Chron. xiii. 19, which was situated 

CHAP. XXXI. 15-?2. 25 

near Bethel ; so, too, must we deal with the statements, that 
Ephratah, i.e. Bethlehem, is to be expunged from the text of 
Gen. xxxv. 9 and 48 as a false gloss, and that the tradition, 
attested in Matt. ii. 18, as to the situation of Rachel's sepulchre 
in the vicinity of Bethlehem, is incorrect. Nor does the passage 
of Jeremiah now before us imply that Rachel's sepulchre was 
near Ramah. Rachel does not weep at Ramah over her lost 
children, either because she had been buried there, or because 
it was in Ramah of Benjamin that the exiles were assembled, 
according to Jer. xl. 1 (Hitzig, and also Delitzsch on Gen. xxxv. 
20). For it was the Jews who were to be carried away captive 
that were gathered together at Ramah, whereas it was over 
Israelites or Ephraimites that had been carried into exile that 
Rachel weeps. The lamentation of Rachel is heard at Ramah, 
as the most loftily situated border-town of the two kingdoms, 
whence the wailing that had arisen sounded far and near, and 
could be heard in Judah. Nor does she weep because she has 
learned something in her tomb of the carrying away of the 
people, but as their common mother, as the beloved spouse of 
Jacob, who in her married life so earnestly desired children. 
Just as the people are often included under the notion of the 
" daughter of Zion," as their ideal representative, so the great 
ancestress of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh is here named 
as the representative of the maternal love shown by Israel in the 
pain felt when the people are lost. The sing. WIPN , 3 signifies, 
" for not one of them is left." — This verse is quoted by Matthew 
(ii. 18), after relating the story of the murder of the children 
at Bethlehem, with the introductory formula, tot€ i-jrXrjpooOi] 
to p7]$ev Sia 'Iepe/jbiov : from this the older theologians (cf. 
Calovii Bill, illuslr. ad Jer. I.e.) conclude that Jeremiah 
directly prophesied that massacre of the children committed by 
Herod. But this inference cannot be allowed ; it will not fit 
in with the context of the prophecy. The expression iTrX-tjpcoOrj, 
used by Matthew, only shows that the prophecy of Jeremiah 
received a new fulfilment through that act of Herod. Of course, 
we must not reduce the typical reference of the prophecy to that 
event at Bethlehem simply to this, that the wailing of the 
mothers of Bethlehem over their murdered children was as great 
as the lamentation made when the people were carried into exile. 


Typology rather assumes a causal connection between the two 
events. The destruction of the people of Israel by the Assyrians 
and Chaldeans is a type of the massacre of the infants at Beth- 
lehem, in so far as the sin which brought the children of Israel 
into exile laid a foundation for the fact that Herod the Idumean 
became king over the Jews, and wished to destroy the true King 
and Saviour of Israel that he micjlit strengthen his own do- 
minion. Cf. Fr. Kleinschmidt, die typolog. Citate der vier 
Evangelien, 1861, S. 10 ff. ; [Fairbairn's Typology, fifth edition, 
vol. i. pp. 452-3.] 

The Lord will put an end to this wailing. " Cease thy 
weeping," He cries to the sorrowing ones, " for there is a reward 
for thy labour" (almost identical with 2 Chron. xv. 7). npya is 
the maternal labour of birth and rearing of children. The 
reward consists in this, that the children shall return out of the 
land of the enemy into their own land. Ver. 17 states the 
same thing in parallel clauses, to confirm the promise. On the 
expression " hope for thy latter end," cf. xxix. 11. D^a with- 
out the article, as in Hos. xi. 10, etc. ; cf. Ewald, § 277, b. 
This hope is grounded on the circumstance that Israel will 
become aware, through suffering, that he is punished for his 
sins, and, repenting of these sins, will beseech his God for favour. 
The Lord already perceives this repentant spirit and acknow- 
ledgment of sin. ID^XJ does not mean " I had myself chas- 
tised," or "I learned chastisement" (Hitzig), but "I was 
chastised," like an untamed calf, i.e. one not trained to bear the 
yoke and to endure labour. On this figure, cf. Hos. x. 11. The 
recognition of suffering as chastisement by God excites a desire 
after amelioration and amendment. But since man cannot 
accomplish these through his own powers, Israel prays, " Lead 
me back," sc. from my evil way, i.e. turn me. He finds him- 
self constrained to this request, because he feels regret for his 
apostasy from God. ^W "nnK in this connection can only 
mean, " after I turned," sc. from Thee, O Lord my God ; on 
this meaning of 3}{J>, cf. viii. 4. JH5 1 ?, to be brought to under- 
standing through punishment, i.e. to become wise. To smite 
the thighs is a token of terror and horror; cf. Ezek. xxi. 17. 
On *FK&33 DJ] VlBfc cf. Isa. xlv. 16. " The shame of my youth" 
is that which I brought on myself in my youth through the 

CHAP. XXXI. 15-22. 27 

sins I then committed. On this confession generally, cf. the 
similar one in iii. 21 ff. — Thereafter the Lord replies, ver. 20, 
with the question, whether Ephraim is so dear a son to Him 
that, as often as He has spoken against him, i.e. uttered hard 
words of condemnation, He still, or again, thinks of him. l£ 
DTCW, " a child of delight," whom one fondles ; cf. Isa. v. 7- 
The clause explanatory of the question, " for as often as," etc., 
is taken in different ways. 3 12PJ may signify, " to speak about 
one," or " to speak against one," or " to pay addresses to one," 
i.e. to court him : 1 Sam. xxv. 39 ; Cant. viii. 8. Hitzig applies 
the last meaning to the expression, and translates, " as often as 
I have paid my suit to him ;" according to this view, the basis 
of the representation of Jahveh's relation to the people is that 
of a husband to his wife. But this meaning of the verb does 
not by any means suit the present context, well established 
though it is by the passages that have been adduced. Ephraim 
is here represented as a son, not a virgin to whom Jahveh 
could pay suit. Hence we must take the expression in the 
sense of u speaking against" some one. But what Jahveh says 
against Ephraim is no mere threatening by words, but a repri- 
mand by deeds of judgment. The answer to the question is to 
be inferred from the context : If the Lord, whenever He is 
constrained to punish Ephraim, still thinks of him, then Ephraim 
must be a son dear to Him. But this is not because of his con- 
duct, as if he caused Him joy by obedience and faithful attach- 
ment, but in consequence of the unchangeable love of God, who 
cannot leave His son, however much grief he causes his Father. 
u Therefore," i.e. because he is a son to whom Jahveh shows 
the fulness of His paternal love, all His kindly feelings towards 
him are now excited, and He desires to show compassion on him. 
On *SQ *»n cf. Isa. xvi. 11 and Ixiii. 15. Under " bowels" are 
included especially the heart, liver, reins, the noblest organs of 
the soul. The expression is strongly anthropopathic, and de- 
notes the most heartfelt sympathy. This fellow-feeling mani- 
fests itself in the form of pity, and actually as deliverance 
from misery. 

The Lord desires to execute this purpose of His everlasting 
love. Ver. 21. Israel is required to prepare himself for return, 
and to go home again into his own cities. u Set thee up way- 


marks." p*Sf, in 2 Kings xxiii. 17 and Ezek. xxxix. 15, " a tomb- 
stone," probably a stone pillar, which could also serve as a 
way-mark. CHIIDPi is not from yyo as in ver. 15, but from 
"lEfi, and has the same meaning as nnD^n, Joel iii. 3, Talm. 

Tsrij a pillar, Arab, ju.b', pi., cippi, signa in desertis. " Set 

thy heart," i.e. turn thy mind to the road, the way you have 
gone (on ^pn see ii. 20), not, that you may not miss it, but 
because it leads thee home. " Return to these cities of thine." 
" These" implies that the summons issues from Palestine. 
Moreover, the separate clauses of this verse are merely a poetic 
individualization of the thought that Israel is to think seriously 
of returning ; and, inasmuch as this return to Palestine pre- 
supposes return to the Lord, Israel must first turn with the 
heart to his God. Then, in ver. 22, follows the exhortation 
not to delay. The meaning of P^nr 1 ? is educed from Cant. 
v. 6, where P^n signifies to turn one's self round ; hence the 
Hithpael means to wander about here and there, uncertain what 
to do. This exhortation is finally enforced by the statement, 
" Jahveh creates a new thing on the earth" (cf. Isa. xliii. 19). 
This novelty is, " a woman will encompass a man." With 
regard to the meaning of these words, about which there is 
great dispute, this much is evident from the context, that they 
indicate a transformation of things, a new arrangement of the 
relations of life. This new arrangement of things which 
Jahveh brings about is mentioned as a motive which should 
rouse Ephraim ( = Israel) to return without delay to the Lord 
and to his cities. If we keep this in mind, we shall at once 
set aside as untenable such interpretations as that of Luther 
in his first translation of 1532-38, " those who formerly be- 
haved like women shall be men," which Ewald has revived in 
his rendering, " a woman changing into a man," or that of 
Schnurrer, Eosenmiiller, Gesenius, Maurer, " the woman shall 
protect the man," or that of Nagelsbach, tl the woman shall 
turn the man to herself." The above-mentioned general con- 
sideration, we repeat, is sufficient to set aside these explana- 
tions, quite apart from the fact that none of them can be 
lexically substantiated ; for 22iD neither means to " turn one's 
self, vertere" nor to " protect," nor to " cause to return" (as if 

CHAP. XXXI. 15-22. 29 

221D were used for 3?iP). Deut. xxxii. 10 is adduced to prove 
the meaning of protection ; but the word there means to go 
about fondling and cherishing. Neither the transmutation of 
the female into a male, or of a weak woman into a strono- man, 
nor the protection of the man by a woman, nor the notion that 
the strong succumbs to the weak, forms an effectual motive for 
the summons to Israel to return ; nor can we call any of them a 
new creative act effected by Jahveh, or a new arrangement of 
things. But we must utterly reject the meaning of the words 
given by Castle, le Clerc, and Hitzig, who apply them to the 
unnatural circumstance, that a woman makes her suit to a man, 
even where by the woman is understood the virgin of Israel, 
and by the man, Jahveh. Luther gave the correct rendering 
in his editions of 1543 and 1545, " the woman shall encompass 
the man," — only, " embrace" (Ger. umfangen) might express the 
sense better than " encompass" (Ger. umgeben). fiaga is nomen 
sexus, " femella, a female ;" 133, a "man," also " proles mas- 
cula" not according to the sexual relation (= 13T), but with 
the idea of strength. Both in the choice of these words and 
by the omission of the article, the relation is set forth in its 
widest generality ; the attention is thereby steadily directed to 
its fundamental nature. The woman, the weak and tender 
being, shall lovingly embrace the man, the strong one. Heng- 
stenberg reverses the meaning of the words when he renders 
them, " the strong one shall again take the weak into his 
closest intercourse, under his protection, loving care." Many 
expositors, including Hengstenberg and Hitzig of moderns, 
have rightly perceived that the general idea has been set forth 
with special reference to the relation between the woman, Israel, 
and the man, Jahveh. Starting with this view, which is sug- 
gested by the context, the older expositors explained the words 
of the conception and birth of Christ by a virgin ; cf. Corn, a 
Lapide, Calovii Bill, ill, Cocceius, and Pfeiffer, dubia vex. 
p. 758 sqq. Thus, for example, the Berleburger Bibel gives 
the following explanation : "A woman or virgin — not a married 
woman — will encompass, i.e. carry and contain in her body, the 
man who is to be a vanquisher of all and to surpass all in 
strength." This explanation cannot be set aside by the simple 
remark, " that here there would be set forth the very feature 


in the birth of Christ by a virgin which is not peculiar to it as 
compared with others ;" for this " superficial remark" does not 
in the least touch the real point to be explained. But it may 
very properly be objected, that 3liD has not the special meaning 
of conceiving in a mother's womb. On this ground we can 
also set down as incorrect the other explanation of the words in 
the Berleburger Bibel, that the text rather speaks of " the 
woman who is the Jewish Church, and who, in the spirit of 
faith, is to bear Christ as the mighty God, Isa. ix. 6, in the like- 
ness of a man, Rev. xii. 1, 2." However, these explanations 
are nearer the truth than any that have been offered since. 
The general statement, " a woman shall encompass (the) man," 
i.e. lovingly embrace him, — this new relation which Jahveh will 
bring about in place of the old, that the man encompasses the 
wife, loving, providing for, protecting her, — can only be re- 
ferred, agreeably to the context, to change of relation between 
Israel and the Lord. sniD, " to encompass," is used tropically, 
not merely of the mode of dealing on the part of the Lord to 
His people, the faithful, — of the protection, the grace, and the 
aid which He grants to the pious ones, as in Ps. xxxii. 7, 10, 
Deut. xxxii. 10, — but also of the dealings of men with divine 
things. ^H?! 1 ? n 9^ D ^> P s - xxvi. 6, does not mean, " I will go 
round Thine altar," in a circle or semicircle as it were, but, " I 
will keep to Thine altar," instead of keeping company with the 
wicked ; or more correctly, " I will surround Thine altar," 
making it the object of my care, of all my dealings, — I will 
make mine own the favours shown to the faithful at Thine altar. 
In the verse now before us, 2?iD signifies to encompass with 
love and care, to surround lovingly and carefully, — the natural 
and fitting dealing on the part of the stronger to the weak and 
those who need assistance. And the new thing that God 
creates consists in this, that the woman, the weaker nature that 
needs help, will lovingly and solicitously surround the man, 
the stronger. Herein is expressed a new relation of Israel to 
the Lord, a reference to a new covenant which the Lord, ver. 
31 ff., will conclude with His people, and in which He deals so 
condescendingly towards them that they can lovingly embrace 
Him. This is the substance of the Messianic meaning in the 
words. The conception of the Son of God in the womb of the 

CHAP. XXXI. 22-2G. 31 

Virgin Mary is not expressed in them either directly or indi- 
rectly, even though we were allowed to take 3?to in the meaning 
of " embrace." This new creation of the Lord is intended to 
be, and can be, for Israel, a powerful motive to their imme- 
diate return to their God. 

Vers. 23-26. The re-establishment and blessing of Judah. — 
Ver. 23. " Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel : 
Once more shall they say this word in the land of Judah and 
in its cities, when I turn their captivity : ' Jahveh bless thee, 
O habitation of righteousness, O mountain of holiness ! ' Ver. 
24. And there shall dwell in it, [in] Judah and all its cities 
together, husbandmen and [those who] move about with the 
flock. Ver. 25. For I have satiated the weary soul, and I 
have filled every languishing soul. Ver. 26. Because of this I 
awoke and looked, and my sleep was sweet unto me." 

The prophecy which treats of Judah alone is condensed, 
but states much in few words, — not merely the restitutio in 
statum integritatis, but also rich blessing thereafter. "May 
Jahveh bless thee" is a benediction, equivalent to " may you 
be blessed ; " cf. Ps. cxxviii. 5, cxxxiv. 3. P^V rvn does not 
mean "habitation of salvation," but "habitation of righteous- 
ness;" cf. Isa. i. 21, where it is said of Jerusalem that risht- 
eousness formerly dwelt in it. This state of matters is again to 
exist ; Jerusalem is again to become a city in which righteous- 
ness dwells. " The holy mountain " is Zion, including Moriah, 
where the Lord had set up His throne. That the designation 
" the holy mountain" was applied to the whole of Jerusalem 
cannot be made out from Ps. ii. 6, xlviii. 2 ff., Isa. xi. 9, xxvii. 
13, which have been adduced to prove the assertion. The 
prayer for the blessing implies that Zion will again be the seat 
of the Divine King of His people. Ver. 24. " There dwell in 
it (in the land of Judah) Judah and all his towns," i.e. the 
population of Judah and of all its towns, as " husbandmen 
and (those who) pasture flocks," i.e. each one pursuing un- 
disturbed his own peaceful employment, agriculture and cattle- 
rearing, and (ver. 25) so blessed in these callings that they 
are kept from every need and want. n ?^ may either be 
viewed as the perfect, before which the relative is to be sup- 
plied, or an adjectival form imitated from the Aramaic parti- 


ciple, masc. 3N"i. — Ver. 26. Thereupon the prophet awoke from 
his ecstatic sleep, and said, " My sleep was pleasant " (cf . 
Prov. iii. 24). Very many expositors, including Rosenmiiller, 
Umbreit, and Neumann among the moderns, understand the 
words, " therefore (or, because of this) I awoke," etc., as refer- 
ring to God, because in what precedes and follows Jahveh 
speaks, and because God is sometimes, in the Psalms, called on 
to awake, e.g. Ps. vii. 7, xxxv. 23, xliv. 24, etc. But it has 
been very properly objected to this, that the words, " my sleep 
was sweet" (pleasant), are inappropriate as utterances of God, 
inasmuch as He does not sleep ; nowhere in Scripture is sleep 
attributed to God, and the summons to awake merely implies 
the non-interference on the part of God in the affairs of His 
people. Moreover, we would need to refer the sleeping of God, 
mentioned in this verse, to His dealing towards Israel during 
the exile, in such a way that His conduct as a powerful judge 
would be compared to a sweet sleep, — which is inconceivable. 
As little can the verse be supposed to contain words of the 
people languishing in exile, as Jerome has taken them. For 
the people could not possibly compare the time of oppression 
during the exile to a pleasant sleep. There is thus nothing left 
for us but to take this verse, as the Targum, Raschi, Kimchi, 
Venema, Dahler, Hitzig, Hengstenberg, and others have done, 
as a remark by the prophet regarding his feelings when he re- 
ceived this revelation ; and we must accept something like the 
paraphrase of Tholuck (die Projiheten, S. 68) : " Because of 
such glorious promises I awoke to reflect on them, and my 
ecstatic sleep delighted me." This view is not rendered less 
tenable by the objection that Jeremiah nowhere says God 
had revealed Himself to him in a dream, and that, in what 
precedes, there is not to be found any intimation that what he 
sets forth appeared to him as a vision. For neither is there any 
intimation, throughout the whole prophecy, that he received it 
while in a waking- state. The command of God, given xxx. 2 
at the first, to write in a book the words which Jahveh spoke to 
him, implies that the prophecy was not intended, in the first 
instance, to be publicly read before the people ; moreover, it 
agrees with the assumption that he received the prophecy in a 
dream. But against the objection that Jeremiah never states, 

CHAP. XXXI. 27-30. 33 

in any other place, in what bodily condition he was when he 
received his revelations from God, and that we cannot see why 
he should make such an intimation here, — we may reply, with 
Nligelsbach, that this prophecy is the only one in the whole 
book which contains unmixed comfort, and that it is thus easy 
to explain why he could never forget that moment when, awak- 
ing after he had received it, he found he had experienced a 
sweet sleep. Still less weight is there in the objection of Graf, 
that one cannot comprehend why this remark stands here, be- 
cause the description is evidently continued in what follows, 
while the dream must have ended here, when the prophet 
awoke. For this is against the assumption that the hand of the 
Lord immediately touched him again, and put him back into 
the ecstatic state. One might rather urge the consideration 
that the use of the word nj^ " sleep," does not certainly prove 
that the prophet was in the ecstatic state, from the fact that 
the LXX. render nBT] , i l > in Gen. ii. 21 and xv. 2, by efco-Taais. 
But wherever divine revelations were made in dreams, these of 
course presuppose sleep ; so that the ecstatic state might also 
be properly called " sleep." Jeremiah adds, " And I looked," 
to signify that he had been thoroughly awakened, and, in com- 
plete self-consciousness, perceived that his sleep had been 

Vers. 27-30. The renovation of Israel and Judali. — Ver. 27. 
" Behold, days are coming, saith Jahveh, when I will sow the 
house of Israel and the house of Judah with seed of men and 
seed of beasts. Ver. 28. And it shall be that, just as I have 
watched over them to pluck up and to break down, to pull 
down and to destroy and to hurt, so shall I watch over them 
to build and to plant, saith Jahveh. Ver. 29. In those days 
they shall no more say, ' Fathers have eaten sour grapes, and 
the teeth of the children become blunt ; ' Ver. 30. But each man 
shall die for his own iniquity : every man who eats the sour 
grapes, his own teeth shall become blunted." 

After announcement has been made, in what preceded, that 
both portions of the covenant people will be led back into their 
own land and re-established there, both are now combined, since 
they are again, at the restoration, to be united under one king, 
the sprout of David (cf. iii. 15, 18), and to both there is pro- 



mised great blessing, both temporal and spiritual. The house 
of Israel and the house of Judah, as separate nations, are re- 
presented as a fruitful field, which God will sow with men and 
cattle, i" 1 ^?, " cattle," the tame domestic animals, contribute 
to the prosperity of a nation. That this seed will mightily 
increase, is evident from the fact that God sows it, and (as 
is further stated in ver. 28) will watch over it as it grows. 
Whereas, hitherto, He has watched for the purpose of destroy- 
ing and annihilating the people, because of their apostasy, He 
•will in time to come watch for the purpose of planting and 
building them up. The prophet has hitherto been engaged in 
fulfilling, against the faithless people, the first part of the com- 
mission given him by the Lord when he was called to his office 
(i. 10) ; hereafter, he will be engaged in building up. As 
certainly as the first has taken place, — and of this the people 
have had practical experience, — so certainly shall the other now 
take place. — Ver. 29. The proverb, which Ezekiel also (xviii. 
2 f .) mentions and contends against, cannot mean, " The fathers 
• have begun to eat sour grapes, but not till the teeth of their 
sons have become blunted by them " (Nagelsbach) ; the change 
of tense is against this, for, by the perfect v3X and the imper- 
fect rnTipn, the blunting of the children's teeth is set down as a 

t v : • ' o 

result of the fathers' eating. The proverb means, " Children 
atone for the misdeeds of their fathers," or " The sins of the 
fathers are visited on their innocent children." On this point, 
cf. the explanations given on Ezek. xviii. 2 ff. "Then shall 
they no more say" is rightly explained by Hitzig to mean, 
" They shall have no more occasion to say." But the meaning 
of the words is not yet made plain by this ; in particular, the 
question how we must understand ver. 30 is not settled. Graf, 
referring to xxiii. 7, 8, supplies nD# after EN"''?, and thus 
obtains the meaning, Then will they no more accuse God of 
unrighteousness, as in that wicked proverb, but they will per- 
ceive that every one has to suffer for his own guilt. Hitzig 
and Nagelsbach have declared against this insertion, — the 
former with the remark that, in xxiii. 7, 8, because both mem- 
bers of the sentence begin with protestations, the whole is 
clear, while here it is not so, — the latter resting on the fact 
that the dropping of the proverb from current use certainly 

CHAP. XXXI. 31-40. 35 

implies a correct knowledge of the righteousness of God, but 
one which is very elementary and merely negative ; while, on 
the other hand, the whole connection of the passage now before 
us shows that it is intended to describe a period when the theo- 
cratic life is in a most flourishing condition. Then expositors 
take ver. 30 as the utterance of the prophet, and as embodying 
the notion that the average level of morality shall be so high at 
this future period, that only some sins will continue to be com- 
mitted, and these as isolated exceptions to the rule. Taken all 
in all, Israel will be a holy people, in which the general spirit 
pervading them will repress the evil in some individuals, that 
would otherwise manifest itself. But we cannot imagine how 
these ideas can be supposed to be contained in the words, 
" Every man shall die for his own sins," etc. Ver. 30 un- S 
questionably contains the opposite of ver. 29. The proverb j 
mentioned in ver. 29 involves the complaint against God, that 
in punishing sin He deals unjustly. According to this view, 
ver. 30 must contain the declaration that, in the future, the 
righteousness of God is to be revealed in the punishment of 
sins. As we have already remarked on Ezek. xviii. 3 f., the 
verse in question rather means, that after the re-establishment 
of Israel, the Lord will make known to His people His grace 
in so glorious a manner that the favoured ones will fully per- 
ceive the righteousness of His judgments. The experience of 
the unmerited love and compassion of the Lord softens the 
heart so much, that the favoured one no longer doubts the 
righteousness of the divine punishment. Such knowledge of 
true blessedness cannot be called elementary ; rather, it implies 
a deep experience of divine grace and a great advance in the 
life of faith. Nor does the verse contain a judgment expressed 
by the prophet in opposition to that of his contemporaries, but 
it simply declares that the opinion contained in that current 
proverb shall no longer be accepted then, but the favoured 
people will recognise in the death of the sinner the punish- 
ment due to them for their own sin. Viewed in this manner, 
these verses prepare the way for the following announcement 
concerning the nature of the new covenant. 

Vers. 31-40. The new covenant. — Ver. 31. " Behold, days are 
coming, saith Jahveh, when I will make with the house of 


Israel and with the house of Judah a new covenant ; Ver. 32. 
Not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day 
when I laid hold of their hand to bring them out of the land 
of Egypt, which covenant of mine they broke, though I had 
married them to myself, saith Jahveh; Ver. 33. But this is 
the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after 
those days, saith Jahveh : I will put my law within them, and 
on their heart will I write it ; and I will become to them a God, 
and they shall be to me a people. Ver. 34. And they shall no 
more teach every man his neighbour and every man his brother, 
saying, Know ye Jahveh, for all of them shall know me, from 
the least of them to the greatest of them, saith Jahveh ; for I 
will pardon their iniquity, and their sins will I remember no 
more. Ver. 35. Thus saith Jahveh, [who] gives the sun for 
light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and stars for 
light by night, who rouses the sea so that its waves roar, Jahveh 
of hosts is His name : Ver. 36. If these ordinances move away 
from before me, saith Jahveh, then also will the seed of Israel 
cease to be a people before me for ever. Ver. 37. Thus saith 
Jahveh : If the heavens above can be measured, and the foun- 
dations of the earth below can be searched out, then will I also 
reject all the seed of Israel because of all that they have done, 
saith Jahveh. Ver. 38. Behold, days come, saith Jahveh, when 
the citv shall be built for Jahveh, from the tower of Hahaneel 
unto the gate of the corner, Ver. 39. And the measuring-line 
shall once more go out straight over the hill of Gareb, and turn 
round towards Goah. Ver. 40. And all the valley of the corpses 
and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the valley of Kidron, 
unto the corner of the gate of the horses towards the east, [shall 
be] holiness to Jahveh ; it shall not be plucked up nor pulled 
down a^ain for ever." 

The re-establishment of Israel reaches its completion in the 
making of a new covenant, according to which the law of God 
is written in the hearts of the people ; thereby Israel becomes 
in truth the people of the Lord, and the knowledge of God 
founded on the experience of the forgiveness of sins is such 
that there is no further need of any external means like mutual 
teaching about God (vers. 31-34). This covenant is to endure 
for ever, like the unchangeable ordinances of nature (vers. 

CHAP. XXXI. 31-40. 37 

35-37) ; and in consequence of this, Jerusalem shall be built 
as the holy city of God, which shall never be destroyed again 
(vers. 38-40). — Ver. 31. IV'ia n*)3 does not mean " to make an 
appointment," but " to conclude a covenant," to establish a rela- 
tion of mutual duties and obligations. Every covenant which 
God concludes with men consists, on the side of God, in assur- 
ance of His favours and actual bestowal of them ; these bind 
men to the keeping of the commands laid on them. The cove- 
nant which the Lord will make with all Israel in the future is 
called " a new covenant," as compared with that made with the 
fathers at Sinai, when the people were led out of Egypt ; this 
latter is thus implicitly called the " old covenant." The words, 
u on the day when I took them by the hand," etc., must not 
be restricted, on the one side, to the day of the exodus from 
Egypt, nor, on the other, to the day when the covenant was 
solemnly made at Sinai ; they rather refer to the whole time of 
the exodus, which did not reach its termination till the entrance 
into Canaan, though it culminated in the solemn admission of 
Israel, at Sinai, as the people of Jahveh ; see on vii. 22. (On 
the punctuation of Wl™?., cf. Ewald, § 238, d, Olshaus. Gramm. 
§ 191,/.) "H8>R is not a conjunction, " quod, because," but a 
relative pronoun, and must be combined with Wlirrwt, " which 
my covenant," i.e. which covenant of mine. " They" stands 
emphatically in contrast with " though I" in the following cir- 
cumstantial clause, which literally means, " but I have married 
them to myself," or, " I was their husband." As to ^^3, see 
on iii. 14. Hengstenberg wrongly takes the words as a promise, 
" but I will marry them to myself ;" this view, however, is 
incompatible with the perfect, and the position of the words as 
a contrast with " they broke." 1 The two closely connected 
expressions indicate why a new covenant was necessary ; there 
is no formal statement, however, of the reason, which is merely 
given in a subordinate and appended clause. For the proper 
reason why a new covenant is made is not that the people have 

1 In the citation of this passage in Heb. viii. 8 ff., the words are quoted 
according to the LXX. version, xxyu vi l u.i'hn<rx uvtuv, although this trans- 
lation is inccrrect, because the apostle does not use these words in proving 
any point. These same words, moreover, have been rendered by the 
LXX., in iii. 14, tyu KXTXnvpuvaa vpZiv. 



broken the old one, but that, though Jahveh had united Israel 
to Himself, they have broken the covenant and thereby ren- 
dered it necessary to make a new one. God the Lord, in virtue 
of His unchangeable faithfulness, would not alter the relation 
He had Himself established in His love, but simply found it 
anew in a way which obviated the breaking of the covenant by 
Israel. For it was a defect connected with the covenant made 
with Israel at Sinai, that it could be broken on their part. This 
defect is not to exist in the new covenant which God will make 
in after times. The expression " after those (not these) days" 
is remarkable ; Dnn is not the same as n^xn, and yet the days 
meant can only be the " coming days ;" accordingly, it is 
" those days" (as in ver. 29) that are to be expected. The 
expression " after these days " is inexact, and probably owes 
its origin to the idea contained in the phrase " in the end of 
the days" (D^*n rnnxa, cf. xxiii. 20).— Ver. 33. The character 
of the new covenant : " I (Jahveh) give (will put) my law 
within them, and write it upon their heart." D ?~li?? is the 
opposite of E:?''?.?:' JH3, which is constantly used of the Sinaitic 
law, cf. ix. 12, Deut. iv. 8, xi. 32, 1 Kings ix. 6; and the 
" writing on the heart" is opposed to writing on the tables of 
stone,,Ex. xxxi. 18, cf. xxxii. 15 f., xxxiv. 8, Deut. iv. 13, ix. 11, 
x. 4, etc. The difference, therefore, between the old and the 
new covenants consists in this, that in the old the law was laid 
before the people that they might accept it and follow it, receiv- 
ing it into their hearts, as the copy of what God not merely 
required of men, but offered and vouchsafed to them for their 
happiness ; while in the new it is put within, implanted into 
the heart and soul by the Spirit of God, and becomes the ani- 
mating life-principle, 2 Cor. iii. 3. The law of the Lord thus 
forms, in the old as well as in the new covenant, the kernel and 
essence of the relation instituted between the Lord and His 
people ; and the difference between the two consists merely in 
this, that the will of God as expressed in the law under the 
old covenant was presented externally to the people, while under 
the new covenant it is to become an internal principle of life. 
Now, even in the old covenant, we not only find that Israel is 
urged to receive the law of the Lord his God into his heart, — to 
make the law presented to him from without the property of 

CHAP. XXXI. 31-40. 39 

his heart, as It were, — but even Moses, we also find, promises 
that God will circumcise the heart of the people, that they may 
love God the Lord with all their heart and all their soul (Deut. 
xxx. 6). But this circumcision of heart and this love of God 
with the whole soul, which are repeatedly required in the law 
(Deut. vi. 5, x. 12, 1G), are impossibilities, unless the law be 
received into the heart. It thus appears that the difference 
between the old and the new covenants must be reduced to this, 
that what was commanded and applied to the heart in the old 
is given in the new, and the new is but the completion of the 
old covenant. This is, indeed, the true relation between them, 
as is clearly shown by the fact, that the essential element of the 
new covenant, " I will be their God, and they shall be my 
people," was set forth as the object of the old ; cf. Lev. xxvi. 
12 with Ex. xxix. 45. Nevertheless the difference is not merely 
one of degree, but one of kind. The demands of the law, 
" Keep the commandments of your God," " Be ye holy as the 
Lord your God is holy," cannot be fulfilled by sinful man. 
Even when he strives most earnestly to keep the commands of 
the law, he cannot satisfy its requirements. The law, with its 
rigid demands, can only humble the sinner, and make him 
beseech God to blot out his sin and create in him a clean heart 
(Ps. li. 11 ff.) ; it can only awaken him to the perception of sin, 
but cannot blot it out. It is God who must forgive this, and 
by forgiving it, write His will on the heart. The forgiveness 
of sin, accordingly, is mentioned, ver. 34, at the latter part of 
the promise, as the basis of the new covenant. But the forgive- 
ness of sins is a work of grace which annuls the demand of the 
law against men. In the old covenant, the law with its require- 
ments is the impelling force ; in the new covenant, the grace 
shown in the forgiveness of sins is the aiding* power by which 
man attains that common life with God which the law sets 
before him as the great problem of life. It is in this that the 
qualitative difference between the old and the new covenants 
consists. The object which both set before men for attainment 
is the same, but the means of attaining it are different in each. 
In the old covenant are found commandment and requirement ; 
in the new, grace and giving. Certainly, even under the old 
covenant, God bestowed on the people of Israel grace and the 


forgiveness of sins, and, by the institution of sacrifice, had 
opened up a way of access by which men might approach Him 
and rejoice in His gracious gifts ; His Spirit, moreover, pro- 
duced in the heart of the godly ones the feeling that their sins 
were forgiven, and that they were favoured of God. But even 
this institution and this working of the Holy Spirit on and in 
the heart, was no more than a shadow and prefiguration of 
what is actually offered and vouchsafed under the new covenant, 
Heb. x. 1. The sacrifices of the old covenant are but prefigu- 
rations of the true atoning-offering of Christ, by which the 
sins of the whole world are atoned for and blotted out. 

In ver. 34a are unfolded the results of God's putting His 
law in the heart. The knowledge of the Lord will then no 
longer be communicated by the outward teaching of every man 
to his fellow, but all, small and great, will be enlightened and 
taught by the Spirit of God (Isa. liv. 13) to know the Lord ; 
cf. Joel iii. 1 f., Isa. xi. 9. These words do not imply that, 
under the new covenant, " the office of the teacher of religion 
must cease" (Hitzig) ; and as little is " disparity in the im- 
parting of the knowledge of God silently excluded" in ver. 33. 
The meaning simply is this, that the knowledge of God will 
then no longer be dependent on the communication and instruc- 
tion of man. The knowledge of Jahveh, of which the prophet 
speaks, is not the theoretic knowledge which is imparted and 
acquired by means of religious instruction ; it is rather know- 
ledge of divine grace based upon the inward experience of the 
heart, which knowledge the Holy Spirit works in the heart by 
assuring the sinner that he has indeed been adopted as a son of 
God through the forgiveness of his sins. This knowledge, as 
being an inward experience of grace, does not exclude religious 
instruction, but rather tacitly implies that there is intimation 
given of God's desire to save and of His purpose of grace. 
The correct understanding of the words results from a right 
perception of the contrast involved in them, viz. that under the 
old covenant the knowledge of the Lord was connected with the 
mediation of priests and prophets. Just as, at Sinai, the sinful 
people could not endure that the Lord should address them 
directly, but retreated, terrified by the awful manifestation of 
the Lord on the mountain, and said entreatingly to Moses, 

CHAP. XXXI. 31-40. 41 

" Speak thou with us and we will hear, but let not God speak 
with us, lest we die" (Ex. xx. 15) ; so, under the old covenant 
economy generally, access to the Lord was denied to indivi- 
duals, and His grace was only obtained by the intervention of 
human mediators. This state of matters has been abolished 
under the new covenant, inasmuch as the favoured sinner is 
placed in immediate relation to God by the Holy Spirit. Heb. 
iv. 16 ; Eph. iii. 12. 

In order to give good security that the promise of a new 
covenant would be fulfilled, the Lord, in ver. 35 f., points to 
the everlasting duration of the arrangements of nature, and 
declares that, if this order of nature were to cease, then Israel 
also would cease to be a people before Him ; i.e. the continu- 
ance of Israel as the people of God shall be like the laws of 
nature. Thus the eternal duration of the new covenant is 
implicitly declared. Hengstenberg contests the common view 
of vers. 35 and 36, according to which the reference is to the 
firm, unchangeable continuance of God's laws in nature, which 
everything must obey ; and he is of opinion that, in ver. 35, 
it is merely the omnipotence of God that is spoken of, that this 
proves He is God and not man, and that there is thus formed a 
basis for the statement set forth in ver. 35, so full of comfort 
for the doubting covenant people, that God does not lie, that 
He can never repent of His covenant and His promises. But 
the arguments adduced for this, and against the common view, 
are not decisive. The expression " stirring the sea, so that its 
waves roar," certainly serves in the original passage, Isa. li. 15, 
from which Jeremiah has taken it, to bring the divine omnipo- 
tence into prominence ; but it does not follow from this that- 
here also it is merely the omnipotence of God that is pointed 
out. Although, in rousing the sea, "no definite rule that we 
can perceive is observed, no uninterrupted return," yet it is 
repeated according to the unchangeable ordinance of God, 
though not every day, like the rising and setting of the heavenly 
bodies. And in ver. 36, under the expression " these ordi- 
nances" are comprehended the rousing of the sea as well as the 
movements of the moon and stars ; further, the departure, i.e. 
the cessation, of these natural phenomena is mentioned [as 
impossible], to signify that Israel cannot cease to exist as a 


people ; hence the emphasis laid on the immutability of these 
ordinances of nature. Considered in itself, the putting of the 
sun for a light by day, and the appointment of the moon and 
stars for a light by night, are works of the almighty power of 
God, just as the sea is roused so that its waves roar ; but, that 
these phenomena never cease, but always recur as long as the 
present world lasts, is a proof of the immutability of these 
works of the omnipotence of God, and it is this point alone 
which here receives consideration. "The ordinances of the 
moon and of the stars " mean the established arrangements as 
regards the phases of the moon, and the rising and setting of 
the different stars. u From being a nation before me " declares 
not merely the continuance of Israel as a nation, so that they 
shall not disappear from the earth, just as so many others perish 
in the course of ages, but also their continuance before Jahveh, 
i.e. as His chosen people ; cf. xxx. 20. — This positive promise 
regarding the continuance of Israel is confirmed by a second 
simile, in ver. 37, which declares the impossibility of rejection. 
The measurement of the heavens and the searching of the 
foundations, i.e. of the inmost depths, of the earth, is regarded 
as an impossibility. God will not reject the whole seed of 
Israel : here ?b is to be attentively considered. As Hengsten- 
berg correctly remarks, the hypocrites are deprived of the 
comfort which they could draw from these promises. Since 
the posterity of Israel are not all rejected, the rejection of the 
dead members of the people, i.e. unbelievers, is not thereby 
excluded, but included. That the whole cannot perish " is no 
bolster for the sin of any single person." The prophet adds : 
" because of all that they have done," i.e. because of their sins, 
their apostasy from God, in order to keep believing ones from 
despair on account of the greatness of their sins. On this, 
Calvin makes the appropriate remark : Consulto propheta hie 
proponit scelera populi, ut sciamus superior em fore Dei clementiam, 
nee congeriem tot motor um fore obstaculo, quominus Deus ignoscat. 
If we keep before our mind these points in the promise con- 
tained in this verse, we shall not, like Graf, find in ver. 37 
merely a tame repetition of what has already been said, and be 
inclined to take the verse as a superfluous marginal gloss. 1 
1 Hitzig even thinks that, " because the style and the use of language 

CHAP. XXXI. 38-40. 43 

Vers. 38-40. Then shall Jerusalem be built up as a holy 
city of God, and be no more destroyed. After D"^, the 
Masoretic text wants CN3, which is supplied in the Qeri. 
Hengstenberg is of opinion that the expression was abbreviated 
here, inasmuch as it has already occurred before, several times, 
in its full form (vers. 27 and 31) ; but Jeremiah does not 
usually abbreviate when he repeats an expression, and D^a has 
perhaps been dropped merely through an error in transcription. 
" The city shall be built for Jahveh," so that it thenceforth 
belongs to Him, is consecrated to Him. The extent of the new 
city is described as being " from the tower of Hananeel to the 
gate of the corner." The tower of Hananeel, according to 
Neh. iii. 1 and Zech iv. 10, was situated on the north-east 
corner of the city wall ; the gate of the corner was at the 
north-west corner of the citv, to the north or north-west of 
the present "Jaffa Gate;" see on 2 Kings xiv. 13, 2 Chron. 
xxvi. 9 ; cf. Zech. xiv. 10. This account thus briefly describes 
the whole north side. Ver. 39. The measuring-line (Trip as 
found here, 1 Kings vii. 23 and Zech. i. 16, is the original 
form, afterwards shortened into 1)5, the Qeri) further goes out 
ftM, " before itself," i.e. straight out over the hill Gareb. 
s'J does not mean " away towards, or on " (Hitzig) ; nor is the 
true reading "W, u as far as, even to," which is met with in 
several codices : the correct rendering is " away over," so that 
a part, at least, of the hill was included within the city bounds. 
" And turns towards Goah." These two places last named 

betoken the second Isaiah, and the order of both strophes is reversed in the 
LXX. (i.e. ver. 37 stands before ver. 35 f.), vers. 35, 36 may have stood in 
the margin at the beginniDg of the genuine portion in vers. 27 -3i, and 
ver. 37, on the other hand, in the margin at ver. 34." But, that the 
verses, although they present reminiscences of the second Isaiah, do not 
quite prove that the language is his, has already been made sufficiently 
evident by Graf, who points out that, in the second Isaiah, riDH is nowhere 

T T 

used of the roaring of the sea, nor do we meet with nipPI and Q^pn, 
ntoTO V121B*, D^'rriss, nor again ipn in the Niphal, or ptf -HDID (but 
ptfn ITflDio in Isa. xl. 21); other expressions are not peculiar to the 
second Isaiah, since they also occur in other writings. — But the transposi- 
tion of the verses in the LXX., in view of the arbitrary treatment of the 
text of Jeremiah in that version, cannot be made to prove anything what- 


are unknown. From the context of the passage only this much 
is clear, that both of them were situated on the west of the 
city ; for the starting-point of the line spoken of is in the 
north-west, and the valley of Ben-hinnom joins in at the end 
of it, in the south, ver. 40. 2^3 means " itching," for 2"J3 in 
Lev. xxi. 20, xxii. 22 means "the itch;" in Arabic also " the 
leprosy." From this, many expositors infer that the hill 
Gareb was the hill where lepers were obliged to dwell by them- 
selves, outside the city. This supposition is probable ; there is 
no truth, however, in the assumption of Schleussner, Krafft 
(Topogr. von Jems. S. 158), Hitzig, and Hengstenberg, that the 
hill Bezetha, included within the city bounds by the third wall 
of Agrippa, is the one meant ; for the line described in ver. 39 
is not to be sought for on the north side of the city. With 
Graf, we look for the hill Gareb on the mount which lies 
westward from the valley of Ben-hinnom and at the end of the 
valley of Kephaim, towards the north (Josh. xv. 8, xviii. 16), 
so that it is likely we must consider it to be identical with lt the 
top of the mountain " mentioned in these passages. This 
mountain is the rocky ridge which bounds the valley of Ben- 
hinnom on the west, and stretches northwards, on the west side 
of the valley of Gihon and the Lower Pool (Birhet es Sultan), 
to near the high road to Jaffa, where it turns off towards the 
west on the under {i.e. south) side of the Upper Pool (Birket el 
Mamilla); see on Josh. xv. 8. It is not, as Thenius supposes 
(Jerusalem before the Exile, an appendix to his commentary on 
the Books of Kings), the bare rocky hill situated on the north, 
and overhanging the Upper Pool; on this view, Goah could 
only be the steep descent from the plateau into the valley of 
Kidron, opposite this hill, towards the east. Regarding Goah, 
only this much can be said with certainty, that the supposition, 
made by Vitringa and Hengstenberg, of a connection between 
the name and Golgotha, is untenable ; lexical considerations 
and facts are all against it. Golgotha was situated in the 
north-west : Goah must be sought for south-west from Jeru- 
salem. The translation of the Chaldee, " cattle-pond," is a 
mere inference from nj?a } " to bellow." But, in spite of the 
uncertainty experienced in determining the positions of the hill 
Gareb and Goah, this much is evident from the verse before 

CHAP. XXXI. 38-40. 45 

us, that the city, which is thus to be built anew, will extend 
to the west beyond the space occupied by old Jerusalem, and 
include within it districts or spots which lay outside old (i.e. 
pre- and post-exile) Jerusalem, and which had been divided off 
from the city, as unclean places. — In ver. 40, without any 
change of construction, the southern border is described. " The 
whole valley of the corpses and of the ashes . . . shall be 
holy to Jahveh," i.e. be included within the space occupied 
by the new city. By " the valley of the corpses and of the 
ashes " expositors generally and rightly understand the valley 
of Ben-hinnom (E^B are the carcases of animals that have been 
killed, and of men who have been slain through some judg- 
ment of God and been left unburied). Jeremiah applies this 
name to the valley, because, in consequence of the pollution 
by Josiah of the place where the abominations had been 
offered to Moloch (2 Kings xxiii. 10), it had become a sort 
of slaughtering-place or tan-yard for the city. According 
to Lev. vi. 3, !£ ,T ! means the ashes of the burnt-offerings 
consumed on the altar. According to Lev. iv. 12 and vi. 4, 
these were to be carried from the ash-heap near the altar, 
out of the city, to a clean place ; but they might also be 
considered as the gross deposit of the sacrifices, and thus as 
unclean. Hence also it came to pass that all the sweepings 
of the temple were probably brought to this place where the 
ashes were, which thus became still more unclean. Instead 
of nto^n, the Qeri requires rriDT^n, and, in fact, the former 
word may not be very different from frYlp ni^T^ 2 Kings 
xxiii. 4, whither Josiah caused all the instruments used in 
idolatrous worship to be brought and burned. But it is 
improbable that riio^' is a mere error in transcription for 
niDl^. The former word is found nowhere else ; not even 
does the verb D"!^ occur. The latter noun, which is quite 
well known, could not readily be written by mistake for the 
former ; and even if such an error had been committed, it would 
not have gained admission into all the MSS., so that even the 
LXX. should have that reading, and give the word as 'Acrap- 
Tjficod, in Greek characters. We must, then, consider friEn^ 

as the correct reading, and derive the word from ^, or 


+JS>j or *.«?, " to cut off, cut to pieces," in the sense of 
"ravines, hollows" (+/*), or loca abscissa, places cut off or 

shut out from the holy city. " Unto the brook of Kidron," 
into which the valley of Ben-hinnora opens towards the east, 
"unto the corner of the horse-gate towards the east." The 
horse-gate stood on the site of the modern "Dung-gate" 
(Bab el Moghdriebh), in the wall which ran along from the 
south-east end of Zion to the western border of Ophel (see on 
Neh. iii. 28), so that, in this verse before us, it is the south and 
south-eastern boundaries of the city that are given ; and only 
the length of the eastern side, which enclosed the temple area, 
on to the north-eastern corner, has been left without men- 
tion, because the valley of the Kidron here formed a strong 

The extent of the new city, as here given, does not much 
surpass that of old Jerusalem. Only in the west and south 
are tracts to be included within the city, and such tracts, too, 
as had formerly been excluded from the old city, as unclean 
places. Jeremiah accordingly announces, not merely that 
there will be a considerable increase in the size of Jerusalem, 
but that the whole city shall be holy to the Lord, the unclean 
places in its vicinity shall disappear, and be transformed into 
hallowed places of the new city. As being sacred to the Lord, 
the city shall no more be destroyed. 

From this description of Jerusalem which is to be built 
anew, so that the whole city, including the unclean places now 
outside of it, shall be holy, or a sanctuary of the Lord, it is 
very evident that this prophecy does not refer to the rebuilding 
of Jerusalem after the exile, but, under the figure of Jeru- 
salem, as the centre of the kingdom of God under the Old 
Testament, announces the erection of a more spiritual kingdom 
of God in the Messianic age. The earthly Jerusalem was a 
holy city only in so far as the sanctuary of the Lord, the 
temple, had been built in it. Jeremiah makes no mention of 
the rebuilding of the temple, although he had prophesied the 
destruction, not only of the city, but also of the temple. But 
he represents the new city as being, in its whole extent, the 
sanctuary of the Lord, which the temple only had been, in 


ancient Jerusalem. Cf., as a substantial parallel, Zech. xiv. 
10, 11. — The erection of Jerusalem into a city, within whose 
walls there shall be nothing unholy, implies the vanquishment 
of sin, from which all impurity proceeds ; it is also the ripe fruit 
of the forgiveness of sins, in which the new covenant, which 
the Lord will make with His people in the days to come, con- 
sists and culminates. This prophecy, then, reaches on to the 
time when the kingdom of God shall have been perfected : it 
contains, under an old Testament dress, the outlines of the 
image of the heavenly Jerusalem, which the seer perceives at 
Patmos in its full glory. This image of the new Jerusalem 
thus forms a very suitable conclusion to this prophecy regarding 
the restoration of Israel, which, although it begins with the 
deliverance of the covenant people from their exile, is yet 
thoroughly Messianic. Though clothed in an Old Testament 
dress, it does not implicitly declare that Israel shall be brought 
back to their native land during the period extending from the 
time of Cyrus to that of Christ ; but, taking this interval as its 
stand-point, it combines in one view both the deliverance from 
the exile and the redemption by the Messiah, and not merely 
announces the formation of the new covenant in its begin- 
nings, when the Christian Church was founded, but at the 
same time points to the completion of the kingdom of God 
under the new covenant, in order to show the whole extent of 
the salvation which the Lord will prepare for His people who 
return to Him. If these last verses have not made the im- 
pression on Graf's mind, that they could well have formed the 
original conclusion to the prophecy which precedes, the reason 
lies simply in the theological inability of their expositor to get 
to the bottom of the sacred writings. 

Chap, xxxii. The Purchase of a Field as a Symbol of the 
Restoration of Judah after the Exile. 

This chapter, after an introduction (vers. 1-5) which accu- 
rately sets forth the time and circumstances of the following 
event, contains, first of all (vers. 6-15), the account of the 
purchase of a hereditary field at Anathoth, which Jeremiah, 
at the divine command, executes in full legal form, together 
with a statement of the meaning of this purchase ; then ^vers. 


16-25) a prayer of the prophet for an explanation as to how 
the purchase of the field could be reconciled with the delivering 
up of the people and the city of Jerusalem to the Chaldeans ; 
together with (vers. 26-35) the Lord's reply, that He shall 
certainly give up Jerusalem to the Chaldeans, because Israel 
and Judah, by their sins and their idolatries, have roused 
His wrath ; but (vers. 36-44) that He shall also gather again 
His people out of all the lands whither they have been scat- 
tered, and make an everlasting covenant with them, so that 
they shall dwell safely and happily in the land in true fear of 

Vers. 1-5. The time and the circumstances of the following 
message from God. — The message came to Jeremiah in the 
tenth year of Zedekiah, i.e. in the eighteenth year of Nebu- 
chadrezzar (cf. xxv. 1 and lii. 12), when the army of the king 
of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah was kept 
in confinement in the fore-court of the royal palace. These 
historical data are inserted (vers. 2-5) in the form of circum- 
stantial clauses : '131 ?*n ftf"}, " for at that time the army of the 
king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem." The siege had 
begun in the ninth year of Zedekiah (xxxix. 1, lii. 4), and was 
afterwards raised for a short time, in consequence of the ap- 
proach of an auxiliary corps of Egyptians ; but, as soon as these 
had been defeated, it was resumed (xxxvii. 5, 11). Jeremiah 
was then kept confined in the court of the prison of the royal 
palace (cf. Neh. iii. 25), "where Zedekiah, king of Judah, had 
imprisoned him, saying : Why dost thou prophesy, ' Thus saith 
the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king 
of Babylon, so that he shall take it ; Ver. 4. And Zedekiah, 
the king of Judah, shall not escape out of the hand of the 
Chaldeans, but shall assuredly be delivered into the hand of the 
king of Babylon, and his mouth shall speak with his mouth, 
and his eyes shall behold his eyes ; Ver. 5. And he shall lead 
Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, 
saith the Lord. Though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall 
not succeed % ' " — We have already found an utterance of like 
import in chap, xxi., but that is not here referred to ; for it was 
fulfilled at the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, and did not 
bring on Jeremiah the consequences mentioned here. From 

CHAP. XXXII. 6-15. 49 

cliap. xxxvii. we learn that Jeremiah, during the siege of 
Jerusalem, on till the time when it was raised through the 
approach of the Egyptian army, had not been imprisoned, but 
went freely in and out among the people (xxxvii. 4 ff.). Not 
till during the temporary raising of the siege, when he wanted 
to go out of the city into the land of Benjamin, was he seized and 
thrown into a dungeon, on the pretence that he intended to 
go over to the Chaldeans. There he remained many days, till 
King Zedekiah ordered him to be brought, and questioned him 
privately as to the issue of the conflict ; when Jeremiah replied, 
"Thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon." 
On this occasion Jeremiah complained to the king of his im- 
prisonment, and requested that he might not be sent back into 
the dungeon, where he must soon perish ; the king then ordered 
him (xxxvii. 11-24) to be taken into the court of the prison- 
house (rnifflsn iyn, xxxvii. 21), where he remained in confine- 
ment till the city was taken (xxxviii. 13, 28, xxxix. 14). The 
statement in our verses as to the cause of this imprisonment 
does not contradict, but agrees with the notice in chap, xxxvii., 
as soon as we perceive that this account contains merely a 
brief passing notice of the matter. The same holds true of the 
utterance of the prophet in vers. 3-5. Jeremiah, even at the 
beginning of the siege (xxi. 3ff.), had sent a message of similar 
import to the king, and repeated the same afterwards : xxxiv. 
3-5, xxxvii. 17, xxxviii. 17-23. The words of our verses are 
taken from these repeated utterances; ver. 4 agrees almost 
verbatim with xxxiv. 3 ; and the words, " there shall he remain 
irix "HpS"^, till I regard him with favour," are based upon the 
clearer utterance as to the end of Zedekiah, xxxiv. 4, 5. — The 
circumstances under which Jeremiah received the following 
commission from the Lord are thus exactly stated, in order 
to show how little prospect the present of the kingdom of Judah 
offered for the future, which was portrayed by the purchase 
of the field. Not only must the kingdom of Judah inevitably 
succumb to the power of the Chaldeans, and its population go 
into exile, but even Jeremiah is imprisoned, in so hopeless a 
condition, that he is no longer sure of his life for a single day. 

Vers. 6-15. The purchase of the field. — In ver. 6, the intro- 
duction, which has been interrupted by long parentheses, is 



resumed with the words, " And Jeremiah said," etc. The word 
of the Lord follows, ver. 7. The Lord said to him : " Behold, 
Hanameel, the son of Shallum, thine uncle, cometh to thee, 
saying, ' Buy thee my field at Anathoth, for thou hast the 
redemption-right to purchase it.' " According to a mode of 
construction common elsewhere, TT 1 might be taken as in ap- 
position to -'XOJn : " Hanameel, son of Shallum, thine uncle." 
But vers. 8, 9, in which Jeremiah calls Hanameel ^TH?, son 
of my uncle, show that TP is in apposition to D?B> : " son of 
Shallum, [who is] thine uncle." The right of redemption 
consisted in this, that if any one was forced through circum- 
stances to sell his landed property, the nearest blood-relation 
had the right, or rather was obliged, to preserve the possession 
for the family, either through pre-emption, or redemption from 
the stranger who had bought it (Lev. xxv. 25). For the land 
which God had given to the tribes and families of Israel for a 
hereditary possession could not be sold, so as to pass into the 
hands of strangers ; and for this reason, in the year of jubilee, 
what had been sold since the previous jubilee reverted, without 
payment of any kind, to the original possessor or his heirs. 
(Cf. Lev. xxv. 23-28, and Keil's Bill. Archdol. ii. § 141, 
p. 208 ff.) — Ver. 8. What had been announced to the prophet 
by God took place. Hanameel came to him, and offered him 
his field for sale. From this Jeremiah perceived that the pro- 
posed sale was the word of the Lord, i.e. that the matter was 
appointed by the Lord. Ver. 9. Jeremiah accordingly bought 
the field, and weighed out to Hanameel " seven shekels and 
ten the silver" (SjDan is definite, as being the amount of money 
asked as price of purchase). But the form of expression is 
remarkable : " seven shekels and ten" instead of " seventeen" 
(f|p|n 'bjw mfa n W). The Chaldee consequently has " seven 
manehs and ten shekels of silver ;" and J. D. Michaelis sup- 
poses that the seven shekels which are first named, and are 
separated from the ten, were shekels of gold : " seven shekels 
of gold, and seven shekels of silver." But both assumptions 
are gratuitous, and perhaps only inferences, not merely from 
the unusual separation of the numerals, but likewise from 
the fact that seventeen silver shekels (less than two pounds 
sterling) was too small a price for an arable field. The sup- 

CHAP. XXXII. 6-15. 51 

position of Hitzig has more in its favour, that the mode of 
expression " seven shekels and ten (shekels) of silver" was a 
law form. Some have sought to explain the smallness of the 
price on the ground that the seller was compelled to part with 
his property through poverty, and that the land had become 
depreciated in consequence of the war. Both may be true ; 
but, as Nagelsbach has already remarked, neither explains the 
smallness of the price. For instances have very properly been 
adduced from Roman history (Livy, xxvi. 11, and Florus, ii. 6) 
which show that occupation of a country by an enemy did not 
lessen the value of ground-property. It is rather to be taken 
into consideration, that in the first place we do not know the 
real value of arable land among the Hebrews ; and secondly, 
the sale of portions of land was, correctly speaking, only the sale 
of the harvests up till the year of jubilee, for then the property 
returned to the former possessor or his heirs. In the case of a 
sale, then, the nearer the jubilee-year, the smaller must be the 
price of purchase in the alienation of the land. — Ver. 10 ff. 
The purchase was concluded in full legal form. " I wrote it 
(the necessary terms) in the letter (the usual letter of purchase), 
and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed out the money 
on the balance" (it was then and still is the custom in the East 
to weigh money). Dnn means here, not to append a seal 
instead of subscribing the name, or for attestation (cf. 1 Kings 
xxi. 8, Neh. x. 2), but to seal up, make sure by sealing (Isa. 
xxix. 11, etc.). For, from vers. 11, 12, we perceive that two 
copies of the bill of purchase were prepared, one sealed up, 
and the other open ; so that, in case the open one were lost, or 
were accidentally or designedly injured or defaced, a perfect 
original might still exist in the sealed-up copy. Then " Jere- 
miah took the bill of purchase, the sealed one," — the specifica- 
tion and the conditions, — " and the open one." The words n JV?n 
D^nni are in apposition with 'W "ISDVIN. The Vulgate renders 
stipulationes et rata; Jerome, stipulatione rata, which he explains 
by stipalationibus et sponsionibus corroborata. i " 1 }Y ? ?, usually 
u a command, order," is probably employed here in the general 
sense of " specification," namely, the object and the price of 
purchase ; D^n, " statutes," the conditions and stipulations of 
sale. The apposition has the meaning, " containing the agree- 


merit and the conditions." Both copies of this bill, the prophet, 
— before the eyes of Hanameel, his cousin Q*?t } either in the 
general sense of a near relation, since the relationship has been 
stated exactly enough already, or "1? has been inadvertently 
omitted), and before the eyes of, i.e. in the presence of " the 
witnesses, who wrote in the letter of purchase," i.e. had sub- 
scribed it as witnesses in attestation of the matter, and in the 
eyes of all the Jews who were sitting in the court of the prison, 
and in whose presence the transaction had been concluded, — 
delivered up to his attendant Baruch, son of Nerijah, the son 
of Mahsejah, with the words, ver. 14: " Thus saith Jahveh of 
hosts, the God of Israel : Take these letters, this sealed-up letter 
of purchase and this open letter, and put them into an earthen 
vessel, that they may remain a long time [there]. Ver. 15. 
For thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel : Houses, and 
fields, and vineyards shall still be bought in this land." — The 
second utterance of the Lord (ver. 15) declares the reason why 
the letters were to be preserved in an earthen vessel, in order 
to protect them from damp, decay, and destruction, namely, 
because one could make use of them afterwards, when sale of 
property would still be taking place. There is also implied the 
intimation, that the present desolation of the land and the 
transportation of its inhabitants will only last during their 
time ; and then the population of Judah will return, and enter 
again on the possession of their land. The purchase of the field 
on the part of Jeremiah had this meaning ; and for the sake of 
this meaning it was announced to him by God, and completed 
before witnesses, in the presence of the Jews who happened to 
be in the court of the prison. 

Vers. 16-25. The prayer of Jeremiah. —Although Jeremiah 
has declared, in the words of the Lord, ver. 14 f., the meaning 
of the purchase of the field to the witnesses who were present 
at the transaction, yet the intimation that houses, fields, and 
vineyards would once more be bought, seemed so improbable, 
in view of the impending capture and destruction of Jerusalem 
by the Chaldeans, that he betakes himself to the Lord in prayer, 
asking for further disclosures regarding the future of the people 
and the land, less for his own sake than for that of the people, 
who could with difficulty rise to such confidence of faith. The 

CHAP. XXXII. 16-25. 53 

prayer runs thus, vcr. 17: "Ah, Lord Jahveh! behold, Thou 
hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and 
Thine outstretched arm ; to Thee nothing is impossible. Ver. 18. 
Thou showest mercy unto thousands, and repayest the iniquity 
of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, Thou 
great and mighty God, whose name is Jahveh of hosts. Ver. 19. 
Great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to 
all the ways of the children of men, to give unto every one 
according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his works : 
Ver. 20. Thou who didst signs and wonders in the land of Egypt 
until this day, both in Israel and among [other] men, and 
madest for Thyself a name, as it is this day ; Ver. 21. And didst 
lead Thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and 
wonders, and with strong hand and outstretched arm, and with 
great terror, Ver. 22. And didst give them this land, which 
Thou hast sworn to their fathers to give them, a land flowing 
with milk and honey ; Ver. 23. And they came and took pos- 
session of it, but they hearkened not to Thy voice and walked 
not in Thy law : all that Thou commandedst them to do they 
did not, therefore didst Thou cause all this evil to come against 
them. Ver. 24. Behold, the besiegers' mounds are come to 
the city, to take it, and the city will be given into the hands of 
the Chaldeans, who fight against it, because of the sword, 
hunger, and pestilence ; and what Thou didst speak is come to 
pass, and, behold, Thou seest it. Ver. 25. Yet Thou hast said 
to me, O Lord Jahveh, ' Buy thee the field for money, and 
take witnesses,' while the city is being delivered into the hands 
of the Chaldeans." 

This prayer contains a laudation of the omnipotence of the 
Lord and the justice of His dealing among all men (vers. 
17-19), and especially in the guidance of the people Israel 
(vers. 20-23), with the view of connecting with it the question, 
how the divine command to buy the field is to be reconciled 
with the decreed deliverance of the city into the power of the 
Chaldeans (vers. 24, 25). Ver. 17. God proclaims His omni- 
potence in the creation of the heaven and the earth, cf. xxvii. 5. 
From this it is plain that nothing is too wonderful for God, i.e. 
is impossible for Him, Gen. xviii. 14. As Creator and Ruler 
of the world, God exercises grace and justice. The words of 


ver. 18 are a reminiscence and free imitation of the passages 
Ex. xx, 5 ff. and xxxiv. 7, where the Lord so depicts His deal- 
ings in the guidance of men. To " recompense iniquity into 
the bosom" (see Isa. Ixv. 6, cf. Ps. lxxix. 12), i.e. to pour into 
the bosom of the garment the reward for iniquity, so that it 
may be carried away and borne ; cf. Kuth iii. 15, Prov. xvii. 
23. " The great and mighty God," as in Deut. x. 17. On 
" Jahveh of hosts is His name," cf. x. 16, xxxi. 35. tot* is 
to be explained thus : " O Thou great God, whose name is 
Jahveh of hosts."— Ver. 19. God shows His greatness and 
might in the wisdom with which He regards the doings of men, 
and in the power with which He executes His decrees, so as to 
recompense to every one according to his deeds. On 19a cf. 
Isa. xxviii. 29, Ps. lxvi. 5. " To give to every one," etc., is 
repeated, word for word, from xvii. 10. — Vers. 20-22. The 
Lord has further shown this omnipotence and righteousness in 
His guidance of Israel, in His leading them out of Egypt with 
wonders and signs ; cf. Deut. vi. 22, xxxiv. 11. " Until this 
day" cannot mean that the wonders continue in Egypt until 
this day, — still less, that their glorious remembrance continues 
till this day (Calvin, Rosenmuller, etc.). Just as little can we 
connect the words with what follows, " until this day, in Egypt 
and among men," as Jerome supposed ; although the idea et in 
Israel et in cunctis mortalibus quotidie tua signet complentur is 
in itself quite right. Logically considered, " until this day" 
belongs to the verb. '131 n»^ : , and the construction is pregnant, 
as in xi. 7 : " Thou hast done wonders in Egypt, and hast still 
been doing them until this day in Israel and among other men." 
" Men," in contrast to " Israel," are mankind outside of Israel, — 
other men, the heathen; on the expression, cf. Judg. xviii. 7, 
Isa. xliii. 4, Ps. Ixxiii. 5. " As at this day :" cf. xi. 5, xxv. 18. 
Through signs and wonders the Lord wrought, leading Israel 
out of Egypt, and into the land of Canaan, which had been 
promised to their fathers. Ver. 21 is almost exactly the same 
as Deut. xxvi. 8, cf. iv. 34. bina into refers to the terror 
spread among the neighbouring nations, Ex. xv. 14 ff., by the 
wonders, especially the slaying of the first-born among the 
Egyptians, Ex. xii. 30 f ., and the miracle at the Red Sea. On 
" a land flowing with milk and honey," cf. Ex. iii. 8. — Ver. 23. 

CHAP. XXXII. 26-44. 55 

These wonders of grace which the Lord wrought for His 
people, Israel requited with base unthankfulness. When they 
had got into possession of the land, they did not listen to the 
voice of their God, and did the reverse of what He had com- 
manded. (The Kethib wnri2 might be read as a plural. But 
since nnin in the plural is always written elsewhere rhin (cf. 
Gen. xxvi. 5, Ex. xvi. 28, xviii. 20, Lev. xxvi. 46, etc.), and 
the omission of the * in plural suffixes is unusual (cf. xxxviii. 
22), the word rather seems to have been incorrectly written 
for "fnina (cf. xxvi. 4, xliv. 10, 23), i.e. the 1 seems to have 
been misplaced. Therefore the Lord brought on them this 
great calamity, the Chaldean invasion (KnpH for »"ni?ri) ; cf. 
xiii. 22, Deut. xxxi. 29. With this thought, the prophet makes 
transition to the questions addressed to the Lord, into which 
the prayer glides. In ver. 24, the great calamity is more fully 
described. The ramparts of the besieging enemy have come 
to the city (Si3 with ace), to take it, and the city is given 
(rnri^ prophetic perfect) into the hands of the Chaldeans. 
" Because of the sword ;" i.e. the sword, famine, and pestilence 
(cf. xiv. 16, xxv. 16, etc.) bring them into the power of the 
enemy. " What Thou spakest," i.e. didst threaten through the 
prophets, " is come to pass ; and, behold, Thou seest it (viz. 
what has happened), and yet (nrixi adversative) Thou sayest 
to me, 'Buy the field,'" etc. The last clause, 'J ~^V\}\ is a 
" circumstantial" one, and is not a part of God"s address, but is 
added by Jeremiah in order to give greater prominence to the 
contrast between the actual state of matters and the divine 
command regarding the purchase. The prayer concludes with 
this, which is for men an inexplicable riddle, not (as Nagels- 
bach thinks) for the purpose of leaving to the reader the solu- 
tion of the problem, after all aids have been offered him, — for 
Jeremiah would not need to direct his question to God for that 
purpose, — but in order to ask from God an explanation regarding 
the future. This explanation immediately follows in the word 
of the Lord, which, from ver. 26 onwards, is addressed to the 

Vers. 26-44. The answer of the Lord. — Behold, I am Jahveh, 
the God of all flesh ; is there anything impossible to me? Ver. 
28. Therefore, thus saith Jahveh : Behold, I give this city into 


the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchad- 
rezzar, the king of Babylon, that he may take it. Ver. 29. 
The Chaldeans that fight against this city shall come, and shall 
set fire to this city, and burn it and the houses on whose roofs 
you have burned incense to Baal and poured out libations to 
other gods, to provoke me. Ver. 30. For the children of Israel 
and the children of Judah have done only what is evil in mine 
eyes from their youth ; for the children of Israel have only 
provoked me with the work of their hands, saith Jahveh. 
Ver. 31. For this city has been to me [a burden] upon mine 
anger and upon my wrath from the day that it was built till 
this day, that I might remove it from before my face ; Ver. 32. 
Because of all the wickedness of the children of Israel and the 
children of Judah, which they have done, to provoke me, — 
they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, 
the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Ver. 33. 
They turned to me the back and not the face ; and though 
they were constantly being taught, they would not hear so as 
to receive instruction. Ver. 34. And they placed their abomi- 
nations in the house which is called by my name, in order to 
defile it ; Ver. 35. And built high places to Baal in the valley 
of Ben-hinnom, to devote their sons and their daughters to 
Moloch, — which I did not command them, nor did it come into 
my mind that they would do such abomination, — that they might 
lead Judah to sin. Ver. 36. And now, therefore, thus saith 
Jahveh, the God of Israel, concerning this city, of which ye say, 
1 It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, 
through the sword, famine, and pestilence:' Ver. 37. Behold, I 
shall gather them out of all lands whither I have driven them 
in my wrath, and in mine anger, and in great rage, and shall 
bring them back to this place, and make them dwell safely. 
Ver. 38. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 
Ver. 39. And I will give them one heart and one way, to fear 
me always, for good to them and to their children after them. 
Ver. 40. And I will make with them an everlasting covenant, 
that I shall not turn aside from doing them good ; and I will 
put my fear in their heart, that they may not depart from me. 
Ver. 41. And I shall rejoice over them, to do them good, and 
shall plant them in this land, in truth, with my whole heart and 

CHAP. XXXII. 26-44. 57 

my whole soul. Ver. 42. For thus saith Jahveh: ' Just as I 
have brought all this great evil on this people, so shall I bring 
on them all the good of which I speak regarding them.' Ver. 43. 
And fields shall be bought in this land, of which ye say, It is a 
desolation, without man or beast, and it is given into the hand 
of the Chaldeans. Ver. 44. They shall buy fields for money, 
and write it in the letter, and seal it up, and take witnesses, in 
the land of Benjamin, and in the places round Jerusalem, and 
in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the hill-country, and 
in the cities of the plain, and in the cities of the south ; for I 
shall turn again their captivity, saith Jahveh." 

The Lord replies to the three points touched on in the prayer 
of the prophet. First, in ver. 27, He emphatically confirms 
the acknowledgment that to Him, as Creator of heaven and 
earth, nothing is impossible (ver. 17), and at the same time 
points out Himself as the God of all flesh, i.e. the God on whom 
depend the life and death of all men. This description of God 
is copied from Num. xvi. 22, xxvii. 16, where Jahveh is called 
"the God of the spirits of all flesh." "All flesh" is the name 
given to humanity, as being frail and perishing. — Then God 
reaffirms that Jerusalem will be given into the hand of Nebu- 
chadrezzar, and be burned by the Chaldeans (ver. 28 ff.), because 
Israel and Judah have always roused His wrath by their idolatry 
and rebellion against His commands (vers. 30-35). The sub- 
stance of these verses has been often given before. On tflWn 
cf. xxi. 10, xxxvii. 8 ; on 'til nBj? X ; x c f. xix. 13 with vii. 9, 18.' 
The mention of the children of Israel in connection with the 
children of Judah is not to be understood as if the destruction 
of Jerusalem was partly owing to the former; but it is here 
made, to signify that Judah can expect no better fate than the 
Israelites, whose kingdom has been destroyed long before, and 
who have for a lon£ time now been driven into exile. "HX vn 
C^y, « tne y were on ] v doing," i.e. doing nothing else than 
what is displeasing to the Lord. In ver. 306 " the children of 
Israel" is a designation of the whole covenant people. The 
whole sentence has reference to Deut. xxxi. 29. "The work of 
their hands" is not the idols, but signifies the whole conduct 
and actions of the people. Ver. 31. The difficult construction 
7~njTn . . . " , ax - ?y is most easily explained from the employment 


of 7V nvt with reference to the superincumbency of a duty or 
burden lying on one. " This city became to me a burden on 
my wrath," an object which lay upon my wrath, called it forth. 
No other explanation can be vindicated. The passages lii. 3 
and 2 Kings xxiv. 3, 20, are of a different character, and the 
meaning juxta, secundum for ?y, after vi. 14 (Hitzig), is quite 
unsuitable. The words, " from the day when it was built," are 
not to be referred to the earliest founding of Jerusalem, but to 
that time when the Israelites first built it ; and even in refer- 
ence to this, they are not to be pressed, but to be viewed as 
a rhetorically strong expression for, " from its earliest times." 
Even so early as David's time, opposition against Jahveh showed 
itself in the conspiracy of Absalom ; and towards the end of 
Solomon's reign, idolatry had been introduced into Jerusalem, 
1 Kines xi. 5 ff. After the words " to remove it from before 
my face," there follows once more, in ver. 32, the reason of the 
rejection ; cf. vii. 12, xi. 17, and for enumeration of the several 
classes of the population, ii. 26, xvii. 25. The sins are once 
more specified, vers. 33-35 ; in ver. 33, as a stiff-necked depar- 
ture from God, and in ver. 34 f. the mention of the greatest 
abomination of idolatry, the setting up of idols in the temple, 
and of the worship of Moloch. With 33a cf. ii. 27. The 
inf. abs. T?7! stands with special emphasis instead of the finite 
tense : though they were taught from early morn, yet they were 
inattentive still. On this point cf. ii. 13, 25, xxv. 3, 4. On 
"iDio nnpb cf. xvii. 23, vii. 28. Vers. 34, 35 are almost identical 
with vii. 30, 31. 'til rrttPJJ? does not belong to the relative 
clause 'til *& "rota (Nagelsbach), but is parallel to 'til ^VJ} 1 ?, con- 
tinuing the main clause : " that they should commit these 
abominations, and thereby cause Judah to sin," i.e. bring them 
into sin and guilt, '■tpnn with X dropped ; see xix. 15. — After 
setting forth the sin for which Judah had drawn on herself the 
judgment through the Chaldeans, the Lord proclaims, ver. 36 ff., 
the deliverance of the people from exile, and their restoration ; 
thus He answers the question which had been put to Him, ver. 
25. nnjJl, "but now," marks what follows as the antithesis to 
what precedes. "Therefore, thus saith Jahveh," in ver. 36, 
corresponds to the same words in ver. 28. Because nothing is 
impossible to the Lord, He shall, as God of Israel, gather again 

CHAP. XXXII. 26-44. 59 

those who have been scattered through every land, and bring 
them back into their own country. " To this city," — namely, 
of which ye speak. The suffix of K?3j30 refers to "Vyn, whose 
inhabitants are meant. Jerusalem, as the capital, represents 
the whole kingdom. "The dispersed" are thus, in general, the 
inhabitants of Judah. Hence, too, from the nature of the 
case, "this place" is the kingdom of Judah. On this point 
cf. Ezek. xxxvi. 11, 33, Hos. xi. 11.— Vers. 38, 39 are to be 
understood like xxxi. 33. They must in very deed become the 
people of the Lord, for God gives them one heart and one way 
[of life], to fear Him always, i.e. through His Spirit He renews 
and sanctifies them (xxxi. 33, xxiv. 7 ; Ezek. xi. 19). " One 
heart and one way," that they may all with one mind and in one 
way fear me, no longer wander through many wicked ways 
(xxvi. 3 ; Isa. liii. 6). n^T. is an infinitive, as often in Deut., e.g. 
iv. 10, from which the whole sentence has been derived, and 
vi. 24, to which the expression Dr6 niaS points. The everlasting 
covenant which the Lord wishes to conclude with them, i.e. the 
covenant-relationship which He desires to grant them, is, in fact, 
the new covenant, xxxi. 33 if*. Here, however, only the eternal 
duration of it is made prominent, in order to comfort the pious 
in the midst of their present sufferings. Consequently, only 
the idea of the u?W is mainly set forth : " that I shall not turn 
away from them, to do them good, — no more withdraw from them 
my gracious benefits ; " but the uninterrupted bestowal of these 
implies also faithfulness to the Lord on the part of the people. 
The Lord desires to establish His redeemed people in this 
condition by putting His fear in their heart, namely, through 
His Spirit ; see xxxi. 33, 34. ^W), " And I shall rejoice over 
them, by doing them good," as was formerly the case (Deut. 
xxviii. 63), and is again to be, in time to come. ^££3, in truth, 
properly, "in faithfulness." This expression is strengthened 
by the addition, " with my whole heart and my whole soul." — 
So much for the promise of restoration and renewal of the 
covenant people. This promise is confirmed, vers. 42-44, by 
the assurance that the accomplishment of deliverance shall 
follow as certainly as the decree of the calamity has done ; the 
change is similar to that in xxxi. 38. Finally, vers. 43, 44, 
there is the application made of this to the purchase of the 


field which the prophet had been commanded to fulfil ; and the 
signification of this purchase is thus far determined, that after 
the restoration of Judah to their own land, fields shall once 
more be bought in full lecal form : with this, the discourse 
returns to its starting-point, and finishes. The article is used 
generically in PHftn ; hence, on the repetition of the thought, 
ver. 44, the plural nVljP is employed instead. The enumeration 
of the several regions of the kingdom, as in xvii. 26, is a 
rhetorical individualization for strengthening the thought. The 
land of Benjamin is here made prominent in relation to the. 
field purchased by Jeremiah at Anathoth in the land of Ben- 
jamin. The final sentence 'til ansta *3 also serves for further 
proof. The Hiphil in this expression does not mean the same as 
the usual M5fc: " I turn the captivity," i.e. I change the adversity 
into prosperity. yp\} expresses restitutio in station incolumi- 
tatis seu integritatis more plainly than 2W, — not merely the 
change of misfortune or misery; but it properly means, to lead 
back or restore the captivity, i.e. to remove the condition of 
adversity by restoration of previous prosperity. The expression 
is analogous to Dioip or ^1$ n ^?, to build or raise ruins, Isa. 
xliv. 26, lviii. 12, lxi. 4, and rriD»B> DDip, to raise up desolate 
places, Isa. lxi. 4, which does not mean to restore ruins or 
desolate places, but to build them up into inhabitable places 
(cf. Isa. lxi. 4), to remove ruins or desolations by the building 
and restoration of cities. 

Chap, xxxiii. Renewed Promise of the Restoration and Glorious 
Condition of the People of God. 

Ver. 1. While Jeremiah was still in confinement in the court 
of the prison belonging to the palace (see xxxii. 2), the word of 
the Lord came to him the second time. This word of God is 
attached by ITW to the promise of chap, xxxii. It followed, too, 
not long, perhaps, after the other, which it further serves to 
confirm. — After the command to call on Him, that He might 
make known to him great and hidden things (vers. 2, 3), the 
Lord announces that, although Jerusalem shall be destroyed by 
the Chaldeans, He shall yet restore it, bring back the captives 
of Judah and Israel, purify the city from its iniquities, and 
make it the glory and praise of all the people of the earth (vers. 

CHAP. XXXIII. 2, 3. 61 

4-9), so that in it and in the whole land joy will again prevail 
(vers. 10-13). Then the Lord promises the restoration of the 
kingdom through the righteous sprout of David, — of the priest- 
hood, too, and sacrificial worship (vers. 14-18) ; He promises 
also the everlasting duration of these two ordinances of grace 
(vers. 19-22), because His covenant with the seed of Jacob and 
David shall be as enduring as the natural ordinance of day and 
night, and the laws of heaven and earth (vers. 23-26). — The 
promises thus fall into two parts. First, there is proclaimed 
the restoration of the people and kingdom to a new and glorious 
state of prosperity (vers. 4-13) ; then the re-establishment of 
the monarchy and the priesthood to a new and permanent con- 
dition (vers. 14-26). In the first part, the promise given in 
chap, xxxii. 36-44 is further carried out ; in the second, the 
future form of the kingdom is more plainly depicted. 

Vers. 2, 3. Introduction. — Ver. 2. "Thus saith Jahveh who 
makes it, Jahveh who forms it in order to establish it, Jahveh 
is His name: Ver. 3. Call on me and I will answer thee, and 
tell thee great and hidden things which thou knowest not." 
The reference of the suffixes in nbty, nrriX, and rn^an is evident 
from the contents of the propositions : the Lord does what He 
says, and forms what He wants to make, in order to accomplish 
it, i.e. He completes what He has spoken and determined on. 
"*•£, to frame, namely, in the mind, as if to think out, just as in 
xviii. 11 : the expression is parallel with '"l^'no 2C'n ; in this sense 
also we find Isa. xlvi. 11. Tr 1 ?) to establish, realize what has been 
determined on, prepare, is also found in Isa. ix. 6, xl. 20, but 
more frequently in Jeremiah (x. 12, li. 12, 15), and pretty often 
in the Old Testament generally. On the phrase "Jahveh is 
His name," cf. xxxi. 35. The idea contained in ver. 2 reminds 
us of similar expressions of Isaiah, as in xxii. 11, xxxvii. 26, 
xlvi. 11, etc. ; but this similarity offers no foundation for the 
doubts of Movers and Hitzicj regarding the genuineness of this 
verse. The same, holds as regards ver. 3. The first proposi- 
tion occurs frequently in the Psalms, e.g. iv. 4, xxviii. 1, xxx. 
9, also in Jer. vii. 27, xi. 14; but fcO|5 with ?K is unusual in 
Isaiah. The words Wjjljfl* &6 rrt"ttf3 are certainly an imitation 
of DTljrT \fo\ nVlffl, Isa. xlviii. 6 ; but they are modified, in the 
manner peculiar to Jeremiah, by the change of ni"lX3 into nni'3. 


The combination flViXIM rivl? is elsewhere used only of the 
strong cities of the Canaanites, Deut. i. 28, ix. 1, Josh. xiv. 12, 
cf. Num. xiii. 28 ; here iThSa is transferred to things which lie 
beyond the limits of human power to discover, and become 
known to men only through divine revelation. There is no 
good reason for Ewald's change of rwm in accordance with 
Isa. xlviii. 6. — On the contents of these verses Hengstenberg 
remarks : " It may seem strange that, though in the opening 
part the prophet is promised a revelation of greater, unknown 
things, for which he is to call on God, yet the succeeding an- 
nouncement contains scarcely anything remarkable or peculiar." 
Graf also adds the remark of Hitzig, that the command to pray, 
addressed to Jeremiah, cannot have the effect of keeping us 
from the conclusion that the verses are an addition by a later 
hand. Nagelsbach replies that the mode of expression presents 
nothing specially unlike Jeremiah, and that ^what is most cal- 
culated to give the impression of being unlike Jeremiah's, 
namely, this introduction in itself, and especially the peculiar 
turn of ver. 3, a Call unto me," etc., is occasioned by the prayer 
of the prophet, xxxii. 16-25. To this prayer the prophet had 
received an answer, xxxii. 36-44 ; but he is here admonished to 
approach the Lord more frequently with such a request. The 
God who has the power to execute as well as make decrees is 
quite prepared to give him an insight into His great thoughts 
regarding the future; and of this a proof is at once given. 
Thus, vers. 1-3 must be viewed as the connecting link between 
chap, xxxii. xxxiii. Yet these remarks are not sufficient to 
silence the objections set forth against the genuineness of vers. 
2, 3 ; for the specializing title of our chapter, in ver. 1, is 
opposed to the close connection which Nagelsbach maintains 
between chap, xxxii. xxxiii. The fact that, in chap, xxxii., 
Jeremiah addresses the Lord in prayer for further revelation 
regarding the purchase of the field, as commanded, and that he 
receives the information he desired regarding it, gives no 
occasion for warning to the prophet, to betake himself more 
frequently to God for disclosures regarding His purposes of 
salvation. And Nagelsbach has quite evaded the objection that 
Jeremiah does not obey the injunction. Moreover, the succeed- 
in cr revelation made in vers. 4-26 is not of the nature of a 

CHAP. XXXIII. 2, 3. 63 

" proof," for it does not contain a single great leading feature 
in God's purposes as regards the future. — Hengstenberg also 
points out the difficulty, " that the Scripture everywhere refuses 
to recognise a dead knowledge as true knowledge, and that the 
hope of restoration has an obstacle in the natural man, who 
strives to obscure and to extinguish it ; that, consequently, the 
promise of restoration is always new, and the word of God 
always great and grand ; " but what he adduces for the solution 
of the difficulty contained in the command, a Call on me, and I 
will show thee great and unknown things," is insufficient for his 
purpose. The objection which expositors have taken to these 
verses has arisen from an improper application of them ; the 
words vN SOp have been understood as referring to the request 
that God should give some revelation regarding the future, or 
His purposes of deliverance, and njy as referring to the com- 
munication of His purposes for increasing our knowledge of 
them. But " to call on God " rather signifies to pray to God, 
i.e. to beseech Him for protection, or help, or deliverance in 
time of need, cf. Ps. iii. 5, xxviii. 1, xxx. 9, lv. 17, etc.; and 
to "answer" is the reply of God made when He actually 
vouchsafes the aid sought for; cf. e.g. Ps. lv. 17, "I call on 
God, and Jahveh answers me (saves me) ; " Ps. iv. 2, 4, xviii. 
7, xxvii. 7, etc. Consequently, also, " to make known " (Tan) 
is no mere communication of knowledge regarding great and 
unknown things, no mere letting them be known, but a making 
known by deeds. The words nfety and IWiK "ttr, ascribed to the 
Lord, suggest and require that the words should be thus under- 
stood. With the incorrect reference of these words to knowing 
and making known there is connected the further error, that 
the command, "Call unto me," is directed to the person of the 
prophet, and gives an admonition for his behaviour towards 
God, for which the text affords no foundation whatever ; for it 
does not run : " Thus saith Jahveh to me " (^K), and the inser- 
tion of this vS is unwarranted, and inconsistent with the use 
of *3 which introduces the announcement. Hitzig, Graf, and 
others have passed by this >3 without remark; and what 
Nagelsbach says about it is connected with his view, already 
refuted, as to the essential unity of chap, xxxii. xxxiii. Lastly, 
Ewald has enclosed ver. 3 within parentheses, and considers that 


the introductory formula of ver. 2 is resumed in ver. 4 : "Yea, 
thus saith Jahveh." This is a conclusion hastily formed by one 
who is in difficulty, for ver. 3 has not the nature of a parenthesis. 
If we allow the arbitrary addition "to me" after the words, "Thus 
saith the Lord," ver. 2, and if we take the words in their 
simplest sense, — the invocation of the Lord as a call to God for 
help in need, — then vers. 2, 3 do not contain a mere prelude to 
the revelation which follows, but an exhortation to the people 
to betake themselves to the Lord their God in their calamity, 
when He will make known to them things unattainable by 
human discernment ; for (% ver. 4) He announces, in reference 
to the ruined houses of the city, that He will repair their 

Vers. 4-13. Repair of the injuries and renewal of the pros- 
perity of Jerusalem and Judah. — Ver. 4. " For thus saith ■ 
Jahveh, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city, 
and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which are 
broken down because of the besiegers' mounds and because of 
the sword, Ver. 5. While they come to fight with the Chal- 
deans, and to fill them with the corpses of men, whom I have 
slain in my wrath and in my fury, and for all whose wicked- 
ness I have hidden my face from this city : Ver. 6. Behold, I 
will apply a bandage to it and a remedy, and will heal them, 
and will reveal to them abundance of peace and truth. Ver. 7. 
And I will turn again the captivity of Judah and the captivity 
of Israel, and will build them up as at the first. Ver. 8. And 
I will purify them from all their iniquity by which they have 
sinned against me, and will pardon all their iniquities, by which 
they have sinned and have transgressed against me. Ver. 9. 
And it (the city) shall become to me a name of joy, a praise, 
and an honour among all the people of the earth that shall 
hear all the good which I do them, and shall tremble and quake 
because of ail the good and because of all the prosperity that I 
show to it. Ver. 10. Thus saith Jahveh : Again shall there be 
heard in this place,— of which ye say, ' It is desolate, without 
man and without beast,' — in the cities of Judah, and in the 
streets of Jerusalem, which are laid waste, without men, and 
without inhabitants, and without beasts, Ver. 11. The voice 
of gladness and the voice of joy, the voice of the bridegroom 

CHAP. XXXIII. 4-13. 65 

and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, ' Praise 
Jahveh of hosts, for Jahveh is good, for His mercy is for ever,' 
who bring thank-offerings into the house of Jahveh. For I 
will turn again the captivity of the land, as in the beginning, 
saith Jahveh. Ver. 12. Thus saith Jahveh of hosts : In this 
place, which is laid waste, without man and beast, and in all 
its cities, there will yet be pasture-ground for shepherds making 
their flocks lie down in. Ver. 13. In the cities of the hill- 
country, in the cities of the plain, and in the cities of the south, 
in the land of Benjamin, and in the environs of Jerusalem, and 
in the cities of Judah, the flock shall yet pass under the hand 
of one who counts them, saith Jahveh." 

With ver. 4 begins the statement concerning the great and 
incomprehensible things which the Lord will make known to His 
people ; it is introduced by ''S, which marks the ground or rea- 
son, — so far as the mere statement of these things gives reason 
for the promise of them. The word of the Lord does not follow 
till ver. 6 and onwards. In vers. 4 and 5 are mentioned those 
whom the word concerns, — the houses of Jerusalem (ver. 4), 
and the people that defend the city (ver. 5). Corresponding to 
this order, there comes first the promise to the city (ver. 6), and 
then to the people. Along with the houses of the city are 
specially named also the houses of the kings of Judah ; not, 
perhaps, as Hitzig thinks, because these, being built of stone, 
afforded a more suitable material for the declared object, — for 
that these alone were built of stone is an unfounded supposi- 
tion, — but in order to show that no house or palace is spared 
to defend the city. " Which are broken down " refers to the 
houses, not only of the kings, but also of the city. They are 
broken, pulled down, according to Isa. xxii. 10, in order to 
fortify the walls of the city against the attacks of the enemy, 
partly to strengthen them, partly to repair the damage caused 
by the battering-rams directed against them. This gives the 
following meaning to the expression a^nrrbsi nWDrrbx : in 
order to work against the mounds, i.e. the earthworks erected 
by the enemy, and against the sword. The sword is named 
as being the chief weapon, instead of all the instruments of 
war which the enemy employs for reducing the city ; cf. Ezek. 
xxvi. 9. It is against the laws of grammar to understand D^n? 



as referring to the destruction of the enemy by the siege 
material ; for, on such a supposition, "?S would require to de- 
signate the efficient cause, i.e. to stand for V.? 1 ? (cf. iv. 26), but 
neither "7K nor by can mean this. — The first half of ver. 5 is 
difficult, especially D^3, which the LXX. have omitted, and 
which Movers and Hitzig would expunge, with the absurd re- 
mark, that it has come here from xxxi. 38 ; this is an easy and 
frivolous method of setting aside difficulties. All other ancient 
translations have read tfKSl, and have attempted to point out 
how its genuineness is ascertained on critical grounds. 1 To 
connect CNii closely with what precedes is impossible ; and to 
understand it as referring to the houses, quce dirutce adhibentur 
ad dimicandum cum Chaldceis (C. B. Michaelis), is incompatible 
with the idea contained in Xi2. Still more inadmissible is the 
view of L. de Dieu, Venema, Schnurrer, Dahler, and Eosen- 
miiller : venieniibus- ad oppugnandum cum Chaldms; according 
to this view, D^tJGTiN must be the nominative or subject to O^a. 
D^Wiarrns Dnpn 1 ? can only signify, " to contend with the Chal- 
deans " (against them) ; cf. xxxii. 5. According to this view, 
only the Jews can be the subject of D'^a. " They come to make 
war with the Chaldeans,, and to fill them (the houses) with the 
dead bodies of men, whom I (the Lord) slay in my wrath." The 
subject is not named, since it is evident from the whole scope 
of the sentence what is meant. We take the verse as a predica- 
tion regarding the issue of the conflict, — but without a copula ; 
or, as a statement added parenthetically, so that the participle 
may be rendered, " while they come," or, " get ready, to fight." 
Nia, used of the approach of an enemy (cf. Dan. i. 1), is here 
employed with regard to the advance of the Jews to battle 

1 The different attempts to solve the difficulty by conjectures are of such 
a nature as scarcely to deserve mention. Ewald would change 0^3 ', 2"inn 
into D'O'inn, " that are broken down opposite the earthworks and the 
cannons." But the plural of 2"in is ni2"in, Ezek. xxvi. 29, and cannot 
possibly mean cannons. E. Meier would read D^a l^nn, " and for the- 
destruction of those who are pressing in." Then D'Wa must be the enemy 
who are pressing in; but how does this agree with what follows, " in order 
to fight with the Chaldeans " ? Lastly, Nagelsbach would change TIN 
D'Wan into DwVl l|< "^yj to obtain the idea that the earthworks and the 
sword come for the purpose of contending against Jerusalem (!). 

CHAP. XXXIII. 4-13. 67 

against the besiegers of the city. The second infinitival clause, 
" to fill them," represents the issue of the struggle as contem- 
plated by the Jews, in order to express most strongly its utter 
fruitlessness ; while the relative clauses, "whom I have slain," 
etc., bring out the reasons for the evil consequences. Sub- 
stantially, the statement in ver. 5 is parallel to that in ver. 4, 
so that we might supply the preposition ?V (pV)) : " and con- 
cerning those who come to fight," etc. Through the attach- 
ment of this second predication to the first by means of the 
participle, the expression has become obscured. In the last 
clause, ">BW is to be connected with Dnirrpy. 

In view of the destruction of Jerusalem now beginning, the 
Lord promises, ver. 6, " I will apply to it (the city) a bandage 
(see xxx. 17) and a remedy," i.e. a bandage which brings heal- 
ing, "and heal them" (the inhabitants); for, although the 
suffix in CTissn might be referred to the houses, yet the follow- 
ing clause shows that it points to the inhabitants. Hitzig 
takes Ti-pD in the meaning of 7?i " I roll to them like a stream," 
and appeals to Am. v. 24, Isa. xlviii. 18, lxvi. 12, where the 
fulness of prosperity is compared to a stream, and the waves of 
the sea : but this use of n?a is as uncertain here as in xi. 20. 

' T T 

We keep, then, to the well-established sense of revealing, 
making known (cf. Ps. xcviii. 2, where it is parallel with £ v ?to)j 
without anv reference to the figure of sealed treasure-chambers 
(Deut. xxviii. 12), but with the accessory notion of the unfold- 
ing of the prosperity before all nations (ver. 9), as in Ps. xcviii. 
2. ^"10^- * s nere t° ^ e taken as a noun, "fulness, wealth," from 
iny, an Aramaizing form for "itW, to be rich (Ezek. xxx v. 13). 
noNl Bw does not mean " prosperity and stability," but "peace 
and truth ; " but this is not to be toned down to " true peace," 
i.e. real, enduring happiness (Nagelsbach). nox is the truth 
of God, i.e. His faithfulness in His promises and covenants, as 
in Ps. lxxxv. 11, 12, where mercy and truth, righteousness and 
peace, are specified as the gracious benefits with which the 
Lord blesses His people. — Ver. 7. The attainment of this 
prosperity consists in the change of the wretchedness and misery 
of Judah and Israel (the whole covenant people) into perma- 
nent happiness, and their being built up, — i.e. the firm establish- 
ment of their civil prosperity through the secure possession 


and enjoyment of the good things of the land, — as in the 
beginning, i.e. the time previous to the rending of the state 
through the falling away of the people into idolatry ; cf . Isa. 
i. 26, 1 Kings xiii. 6. For rratf m ytfn see xxxii. 44.— Ver. 8. 
This prosperity gains stability and permanence through the 
people's being cleansed from their sins by their being forgiven, 
which, according to xxxi. 34, will form the basis of the new 
covenant. Regarding the anomalous form ?top for "«?j Hitzig 
supposes that in the scriptio continua a transcriber wished to 
keep the two datives DrvnfolJP 7]7 separate by inserting the 1. 
But the form D^3, xxxi. 34, is equally irregular, except that* 
there the insertion of the 1 may be explained in this, or in 
some similar way. — Ver. 9. In consequence of the renovation 
of Israel externally and internally, Jerusalem will become to 
the Lord a name of delight, i.e. a name which affords joy, 
delight. DK* here signifies, not fame, but a name. But the 
name, as always in Scripture, is the expression of the essential 
nature ; the meaning therefore is, " she will develope into a 
city over which men will rejoice, whenever her name is men- 
tioned." On the following words, "for praise and for glory," 
i.e. for a subject of praise, etc., cf. xiii. 11. V.^"?3?, "to all," 
or " among all nations." How far Jerusalem becomes such is 
shown by the succeeding clauses : " who shall hear . . . and 
tremble and quake because of the good," i.e. not from fear 
" because they are seized with terror through these proofs of 
the wonderful power of God in contrast with the helplessness of 
their idols, and through the feeling of their miserable and desti- 
tute condition as contrasted with the happiness and prosperity of 
the people of Israel " (Graf). Against this usual view of the 
words, it has already been remarked in the Berleburger Bible, 
that it does not agree with what precedes, viz. with the state- 
ment that Jerusalem shall become a name of joy to all nations. 
Moreover, ">na and tn in the sense of fear and terror, are con- 
strued with "Sao or p ; here, they signify to shake and tremble 
for joy, like ins in Isa. lx. 5, cf. Hos. iii. 5, i.e., as it is 
expressed in the Berleburger Bible, " not with a slavish fear, 
but with the filial fear of penitents, which will also draw and 
drive them to the reconciled God in Christ, with holy fear and 
trembling." Calvin had previously recognised this Messianic 

CHAP. XXXIII. 14-26. 69 

idea, and fitly elucidated the words thus : hcec duo inter se con- 
juncta, nempe pavor et tremor, qui nos humiliet coram Deo, et 
jiducia quce nos erigat, ut audeamus familiariter ad ipsum accedere. 
Drrix may be for EflK, cf. i. 16 ; but probably nb>y is construed 
with a double accusative, as in Isa. xlii. 16. 

The prosperity which the Lord designs to procure for His 
people is, vers. 10-13, further described in two strophes (vers. 
10-11 and 12-13) ; in vers. 10, 11, the joyous life of men. 
In the land now laid waste, gladness and joy shall once more 
prevail, and God will be praised for this. The description, 
" it is desolate," etc., does not imply the burning of Jerusalem, 
lii. 12 ff., but only the desolation which began about the end 
of the siege. " In this place " means " in this land ; " this is 
apparent from the more detailed statement, u in the cities of 
Judali and in the streets of Jerusalem." u , The voice of glad- 
ness," etc., forms the subject of the verb JM?$\ On the ex- 
pression see vii. 34, xvi. 9, xxv. 10. There is here added : 
" the voice of those who say, ' Praise the Lord,' " etc. — the usual 
liturgic formula in thanksgiving to God ; cf. 2 Chron. v. 13, 
vii. 3, Ezra iii. 11, Ps. cvi. 1. TJ^lj praise and thanks in word 
and deed ; see xvii. 26. On n»Brn« ym see xxxii. 44. The 
rendering, "I shall bring back the captives of the land" (here 
as in ver. 7), is both grammatically indefensible, and further, 
unsuitable : (a) inappropriate, on account of rub>fc023, for no 
previous restoration of captives had taken place ; the leading 
of the people out of Egypt is never represented as a bringing 
back from captivity. And (6) it is grammatically untenable, 
because restoration to Canaan is expressed either by "?K N^n 
H^n, after Deut. xxx. 5 ; or by yv ; \}, with the mention of the 
place (p«n"?x) ; cf. Jer. xvi. 15, xxiv. 6, xxxii. 37, etc. — Vers. 
12, 13. In the land which is now laid waste, and emptied of 
men and beasts, shepherds, with their flocks, shall again move 
about and lie down. "This place" is specified by the mention 
of the several parts of the land, as in xxxii. 44, xvii. 26. 
n .^° ^r -? at tne hands, i.e. under the guidance, of him who 
counts them, viz. the shepherd, who counted the sheep when 
he took them out to the pasture as well as when he brought 
them back into the fold ; cf. Virgil, Eel. iii. 34. 

Vers. 14-26. The re-establishment of the Davidic monarchy 


and of the Levitical priesthood. — Ver. 14. " Behold, days are 
coming, saith Jahveh, when I will perform the good word 
which I have spoken to the house of Israel, and concerning the 
house of Judah. Ver. 15. In those days and at that time will 
I cause to sprout unto David a sprout of righteousness, and he 
shall do judgment and righteousness in the land. Ver. 16. 
In those days shall Judah- be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell 
safely ; and this is how she shall be called, ' Jahveh our right- 
eousness.' Ver. 17. For thus saith Jahveh : David shall never 
want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel. 
Ver. 18. Nor shall the Levitical priests want a man before me 
to offer a burnt-offering, to burn a meat-offering, or to perform 
sacrifice every day. 

Ver. 19. " And the word of Jahveh came unto Jeremiah, 
saying : Ver. 20. Thus saith Jahveh, If ye shall be able to 
break my covenant (with) the day and my covenant (with) the 
night, so that there shall not be day and night in their proper 
time, Ver. 21. Then also shall my covenant with David my 
servant be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign upon 
his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, my ministers. 
Ver. 22. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the 
sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the seed of David 
my servant, and the Levites who serve me. 

Ver. 23. " And the word of Jahveh came to Jeremiah, 
saying : Ver. 24. Hast thou not seen what this people have 
spoken, saying, ' The two families which the Lord hath chosen, 
these Pie hath rejected V and my people they have despised, so 
that they are no longer a nation before them. Ver. 25. Thus 
saith Jahveh : If my covenant with day and night doth not 
exist, if I have not appointed the laws of heaven and earth, 
Ver. 26. Then also will I reject the seed of Jacob and David 
my servant, so as not to take any of his seed as rulers over the 
seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will turn their 
captivity, and take pity on them." 

Vers. 14-18 contain the promise of the restoration of the 
monarchy and the priesthood. Vers. 19-26 further present 
two special messages from God, in the form of supplements, 
which guarantee the eternal continuance of these institutions. 1 

1 The portion contained within vers. 14-26 is wanting in the LXX. ; for 

CHAP. XXXIII. 14-26. 71 

The promise in vers. 14-18 has already been given in substance 
in chap, xxiii. 5, 6, and in our verses it is only formally extended, 
and thereby made more prominent. In ver. 14 it is designated 
as the establishment, i.e. the realization, of the good word which 
the Lord has spoken concerning Israel and Judah. " The good 
word" is, according to Deut. xxviii. 1-14, the blessing which 
the Lord has promised to His people if they obey His com- 
mands; cf. 1 Kings viii. 56. Here also must "the good word" 
be taken in the same general meaning ; for our verse forms the 
transition from the promise of the restoration and blessing of 
Israel in the future (vers. 6-13) to the special promise of the 
renewal and completion of the Davidic monarchy (ver. 15 ff.). 
In xxix. 10, on the contrary, " the good word" is specially 
referred, by the following infinitival clause, to the deliverance 
of the people from Babylon. But it is unlikely that " the good 
word" refers to the "sprout" of David, which is expressly 
promised in xxiii. 5 ff., and repeated here, ver. 15 f. ; for here 
a like promise to the Levites follows, while there is none in chap, 
xxiii., and it is here so closely linked with the promise regard- 
ing David, that it must be viewed as a portion of the " good 
word." In the change from ?N to ?V in ver. 14, we must not, 
with Hengstenberg, seek a real difference ; for in Jeremiah 
these prepositions often interchange without any difference of 
meaning, as in xi. 2, xviii. 11, xxiii. 35, etc. The blessing 
promised to the people in the " good word" culminates in the 
promise, ver. 15 f., that the Lord will cause a righteous sprout 
to spring up for David. On the meaning of this promise, see 
the remarks on xxiii. 5, 6. The difference made in the repeti- 

this reason, and chiefly because of the promise of the eternal duration, not 
merely of the royal house of David, but also of the Levitical priests, and 
their innumerable increase, J. D. Michaelis and Jahn have considered it 
spurious. To these must be added Movers, who takes vers. 18, 216-25 as 
later interpolations, and Hitzig, who treats the whole passage as a series 
of separate additions made in a later age. On the other side, Kucper, 
Wichelhaus, and Hengstenberg (Christolagy, vol. ii. pp. 459-461 of Clark's 
Translation) have shown the utter worthlessness of these reasons, and 
Graf also has defended the genuineness of the passage. So too has Ewald, 
who says (Propheten, ii. 2G9), " Nothing can be so preposterous and un- 
reasonable as to find in this passage, xxxiii. 19-26, or in chap, xxx. -xxxiii. 
generally, additions by a later prophet." 


tion of that promise is really unimportant. n^V*? instead of 
Vlfopn does not change the sense. T'PV'?, to cause to sprout or 
grow, corresponds to the figure of the no^ under which the 
Messiah is represented in both passages, nj^iy nos is only a 
more sonorous expression for P" 1 ^ n ?¥. The words " He shall 
rule as king and deal wisely," which in xxiii. 5 bring into 
prominence the contrast between the kingdom of the Messiah 
and that of the godless shepherd of the people, were unnecessary 
for the connection of our passage. Besides, in xxiii. 6 Israel is 
named together with Judah, instead of which, we have here, in 
ver. 16, Jerusalem ; accordingly, the name " Jahveh Tsidkenu" 
is referred to Jerusalem, while in xxiii. 6 it is predicated of the 
sprout of David. The mention of Jerusalem instead of Israel 
is connected with the general scope of our prophecy, viz. to 
comfort the covenant people over the destruction of Jerusalem 
(ver. 4 f.). But that, through the mention simply of Judah 
and its capital, the ten tribes are not to be excluded from par- 
ticipation in the coming prosperity, may be seen even from 
ver. 14, where " the good word " is referred to Israel and 
Judah, and still more plainly from vers. 24, 26, where this 
promise is made sure to the whole seed of Israel. The trans- 
ference of the name Jahveh Tsidhenu from the sprout of David 
to the city of Jerusalem is connected with the fact, that the 
name only expresses what the Messiah will bring to the people 
(see xxiii. 6) ; the righteousness which He works in and on 
Jerusalem may, without changing the substance of the thought, 
be attributed to Jerusalem itself, inasmuch as Jerusalem reflects 
the righteousness which is bestowed on her by the Messiah. — 
This promise is, ver. 17, further confirmed by the renewal of 
that which the Lord had given King David, through Nathan 
the prophet, 2 Sam. vii. 12-16, and that, too, in the form in 
which David himself had expressed it in his address to Solo- 
mon, shortly before his death, 1 Kings ii. 4, and in which Solo- 
mon had repeated it, 1 Kings viii. 25 and ix. 5. The formula 
'Wl TH3) Nv, " there never will be cut off from David one 
sitting," etc., has the meaning, David will never want a de- 
scendant to occupy his throne ; or, the posterity of David will 
possess the kingdom for ever. A temporary loss of the throne 
is not thereby excluded, but only such a permanent loss as 

CHAP. XXXIII. 14-26. I'd 

would be caused by the family of David becoming extinct, or 
by the kingdom in Israel either passing over to some other 
family, or in some way or other coming to an end ; see on 
1 Kings ii. 4. — The very same promise is given to the Levitical 
priests, i.e. the priests of the tribe or family of Levi (Q^pn D^na 
as in Deut. xvii. 9, 18, xviii. 1, etc.). They shall never want 
one to bring and prepare an offering before the Lord. Burnt- 
offering, meat-offering, and sin-offering are the three species 
of sacrifice which were to be brought, according to the law, as 
in xvii. 26. By means of the apposition " the Levites," the 
priests are designated as the legitimate priesthood, established 
as such in virtue of God's choice of the tribe of Levi, in con- 
trast with priests such as Jeroboam appointed, out of the com- 
mon people, for the worship set up by him. Not only shall 
Israel have priests, but priests out of the tribe of Levi, which 
was chosen by God for the sacerdotal office, as the medium of 
communicating His gracious gifts. The designation of the 
priests as " the Levites " corresponds, accordingly, to the kings 
of the family of David. Such a view explains this addition to 
our passage, to which critics such as Hitzig have taken objec- 
tion. The Davidic kingdom and the Levitical priesthood were 
the two pillars and bases of the Old Testament theocracy, on 
which its existence and continuance depended. The priesthood 
formed the medium of approach for the people into divine 
favour. The kingdom assured them of the divine guidance. 1 
Both of these pillars were broken with the destruction of Jeru- 
salem and of the temple ; the theocracy then appeared to have 
ceased to exist. At this time, when the kingdom, with its ordi- 
nances of justice and of grace, bestowed by God, was being 
dissolved, the Lord, in order to keep His people from despair, 
declares that these two institutions, in accordance with His 
promise, shall not fall to the ground, but shall stand for ever. 
By this, God's own people received a pledge for the re-estab- 
lishment and renovation of the kingdom of God. Such is the 
object of this promise. — As to the kind and mode of reinsti- 

1 Continebatur autem salus populi duabus istis partibus. Nam, sine rege, 
erant veluti corpus truncum aut mutilum; sine sacerdote mera erat dissipatio. 
Nam sacerdos erat quasi medius inter Deum et populum, rex autem represen- 
tabat Dei personam. — Calvin. 


tutlon of both of these ordinances, which were abolished when 
the state came to ruin, the prophecy now before us gives no 
explanation ; but in the emphatic confirmation of the prophecy 
which follows, we find brief indications which clearly show that 
the restoration spoken of will not be a reinstitution of the old 
form which is now perishing, but a renovation of it, in its 
essential features, to a permanent existence. 

The confirmations of these promises, which follow them in 
vers. 19-26, are each introduced by separate headings, perhaps 
not merely to render them more prominent, but because the 
Lord revealed them separately to the prophet ; but it by no 
means follows from this that they are later additions, without 
any connection. Ver. 20 f. " If ye shall break my covenant 
with the day, . . . then also will my covenant with David ... be 
broken." This if betokens the impossible; man cannot alter 
the arrangement in nature for the regular alternation of day 
and night. Di 8 n and n?^n are in apposition to W"}?, " my 
covenant the day — the night," for " my covenant with regard 
to the day and the night, which is this, that day and night shall 
return at their appointed times." The \ before w?? is ex- 
planatory. n^TTDErt* are adverbs, " day and night," for " the 
regular alternation of day and night." These divine arrange- 
ments in nature are called a covenant ; because God, after the 
flood, gave a pledge that they should uninterruptedly continue, 
in a covenant made with the human race ; cf. Gen. ix. 9 with 
viii. 22. As this covenant of nature cannot be broken by men, 
so also the covenant of grace of the Lord with David and the 
Levites cannot be broken, i.e. annulled. The covenant with 
David consisted in the promise that his kingdom should endure 
for ever (see ver. 17) ; that with the Levites, in the eternal 
possession of the right to the priesthood. The institution of 
the priesthood is certainly not represented in the law as a cove- 
nant ; it consisted merely in the choice of Aaron and his sons 
as priests by God, Ex. xxviii. 1. But, inasmuch as they were 
thereby brought into a peculiar relation to the Lord, and thus 
had vouchsafed to them not merely privileges and promises, but 
also had laid on them duties, the fulfilment of which was a 
condition of receiving the privileges, this relation might be 
called a covenant; and indeed, in Num. xxv. 11 ff., the promise 

CHAP. XXXIII. 14-26. 75 

given to Phinehas, that he should have the priesthood as an 
eternal possession, is called a covenant of peace and an eternal 
covenant of priesthood. This promise concerned the whole 
priesthood in the person of Phinehas, and the Levites also, 
inasmuch as the Levites were given to the priests ; hence there 
is mention made in Mai. ii. 4, 8, of a covenant with Levi. In 
this prophecy, too, mention is made of the priests alone. The 
general idea contained in the words " the Levites," placed first, 
is more clearly defined by the apposition " the priests," and 
restricted to the priests of the tribe of Levi. — Ver. 22. In 
order to make still more impressive the pledge given, that the 
covenant with David and the Levitical priesthood can never be 


broken, the Lord adds the promise of a numerous increase of 
the seed of David and the Levites. "it|>« as correlative to J? 
stands for "Nf'83 ; for in the accusative lies the general reference 
to place, time, kind, and manner ; cf. E\v. § 360a, 333a. The 
comparison with the innumerable host of stars and the im- 
measurable quantity of the sand reminds us of the patriarchal 
promises, Gen. xv. 5, xxii. 17. In this way, the promises that 
apply to all Israel are specially referred to the family of David 
and the Levites (" the Levites," ver. 22, is abbreviated from 
" the Levites, the priests," ver. 21). This transference, how- 
ever, is not a mere hyperbole which misses the mark ; for, as 
Jahn observes, an immense increase of the royal and priestly 
families would only have been a burden on the people (Graf). 
The import of the words of the verse is simply that the Lord 
purposes to fulfil the promise of His blessing, made to the 
patriarchs in favour of their whole posterity, in the shape of a 
numerous increase ; but this promise will now be specially 
applied to the posterity of David and to the priests, so that there 
shall never be wanting descendants of David to occupy the 
throne, nor Levites to perform the service of the Lord. The 
question is not about a " change of the whole of Israel into 
the family of David and the tribe of Levi" (Hengstenberg) ; 
and if the increase of the family of David and the Levites 
correspond in multitude with the number of all the people of 
Israel, this increase cannot be a burden on the people. But the 
question, whether this promise is to be understood literally, of 
the increase of the ordinary descendants of David and the 


Levites, or spiritually, of their spiritual posterity, cannot be 
decided, as Hengstenberg and Nagelsbach think, by referring 
to the words of the Lord in Ex. xix. 6, that all Israel shall be 
a kingdom of priests, and to the prophetic passages, Isa. lxi. 6, 
lxvi. 23 ff., according to which the whole people shall be priests 
to God, while Levites also shall be taken from among the 
heathen. For this prophecy does not treat of the final glory 
of the people of God, but only of the innumerable increase of 
those who shall attain membership in the family of David and 
the Levitical priests. The question that has been raised is 
rather to be decided in accordance with the general promises 
regarding the increase of Israel ; and in conformity with these, 
we answer that it will not result from the countless increase of 
the descendants of Jacob according to the flesh, but from the 
incorporation, among the people of God, of the heathen who 
return to the God of Israel. As the God-fearing among the 
heathen will be raised, for their piety, to be the children of 
Abraham, and according to the promise, Isa. lxvi. 20 ff., even 
Levitical priests taken from among them, so shall the increase 
placed in prospect before the descendants of David and Levi 
be realized by the reception of the heathen into the royal and 
sacerdotal privileges of the people of God under the new 

This view of our verse is confirmed by the additional proof 
given of the promised restoration of Israel, vers. 23-26 ; for 
here there is assurance given to the seed of Jacob and David, 
and therefore to all Israel, that they shall be kept as the people 
of God. The occasion of this renewed confirmation was the 
allegation by the people, that the Lord had rejected the two 
families, i.e. Israel and Judah (cf. xxxi. 27, 31, xxxii. 20), 
called, Isa. viii. 14, the two houses of Israel. With such words 
they despised the people of the Lord, as being no longer a 
people before them, i.e. in their eyes, in their opinion. That 
those who spoke thus were Jews, who, on the fall of the king- 
dom of Judah, despaired of the continuance of God's election 
of Israel, is so very evident, that Hengstenberg may well find 
it difficult to understand how several modern commentators 
could think of heathens, — Egyptians (Schnurrer), Chaldeans 
(Jahn), Samaritans (Movers), or neighbours of the Jews and 

CHAP. XXXIII. 14-26. 77 

of Ezekiel on the Chebar (Hitzig). The verdict pronounced 
on what these people said, " they despise, or contemn, my 
people," at once relieves us from any need for making such 
assumptions, as soon as we assign the full and proper force to the 
expression " my people "= the people of Jahveh. Just as in 
this passage, so too in xxix. 32, " this people" is interchanged 
with " my people " as a designation of the Jews. Moreover, 
as Graf correctly says, the expression " this people " nowhere 
occurs in the prophets of the exile as applied to the heathen ; 
on the contrary, it is very frequently employed by Jeremiah to 
designate the people of Judah in their estrangement from the 
Lord : iv. 10, v. 14, 23, vi. 19, vii. 33, viii. 5, ix. 14, xiii. 10, 
xiv. 10, xv. 1, 20, and often elsewhere. " My people," on the 
other hand, marks Judah and Israel as the people of God. In 
contrast with such contempt of the people of God, the Lord 
announces, " If my covenant with day and night does not 
stand, if I have not appointed the laws of heaven and earth, 
then neither shall I cast away the seed of Jacob." The i6 is 
repeated a second time before the verb. Others take the two 
antecedent clauses as one : " If I have not made my covenant 
with day and night, the laws of heaven and earth." This con- 
struction also is possible ; the sense remains unchanged. TV"}? 
M\ DOV is imitated from ver. 20. " The laws of heaven and 
earth" are the whole order of nature; cf. xxxi. 35. The 
establishment, institution of the order of nature, is a work of 
divine omnipotence. This omnipotence has founded the cove- 
nant of grace with Israel, and pledged its continuance, despite 
the present destruction of the kingdom of Judah and the tem- 
porary rejection of the guilty people. But this covenant of 
grace includes not merely the choosing of David, but also the 
choosing of the seed of Jacob, the people of Israel, on the 
ground of which David was chosen to be the ruler over Israel. 
Israel will therefore continue to exist, and that, too, as a nation 
which will have rulers out of the seed of David, the servant of 
the Lord. " The mention of the three patriarchs recalls to 
mind the whole series of the promises made to them " (Heng- 
stenberg). The plural vbfo does not, certainly, refer directly 
to the promise made regarding the sprout of David, the Mes- 
siah, but at the same time does not stand in contradiction with 


it ; for the revival and continued existence of the Davidic rule 
in Israel culminates in the Messiah. On 'til 2i$K '•S cf. xxxi. 23, 
xxx. 3, 18, and the explanations on xxxii. 44. The Qeri l^K 
rests on ver. 11, but is unnecessary ; for 2W\§ makes good 
enough sense, and corresponds better to DVHpmi, in so far as it 
exactly follows the fundamental passage, Deut. xxx. 3, where 
Dm is joined with naehw 310. 


Under this title may be placed the whole of the contents of 
these twelve chapters, which fall into three divisions. For 
ch. xxxiv.-xxxvi. contain partly utterances of Jeremiah in the 
early part of the siege of Jerusalem under Zedekiah, partly 
matters of fact in Jehoiakim's time. Next, mention is made, 
in ch. xxxvii.-xxxix., of the toils and sufferings of the prophet 
during that siege, until the fall of the city ; then, in ch. xl.- 
xliv., is depicted his active labour among the people who had 
been left behind in the land by the Chaldeans, and who after- 
wards fled to Egypt ; finally, as an appendix to the account of 
his labours among the people, we find, in ch. xlv., the words of 
comfort addressed to Baruch by Jeremiah. The second of 
these divisions is marked by a historical introduction, ch. xxxvii. 
1, 2, and the third by a somewhat lengthened prophetic head- 
ing. Only ch. xxxiv.-xxxvi., which we regard as the first 
division, seems to be without an external bond of unity. Graf, 
Ewald, Nagelsbach, and others have consequently marked 
them as appendices ; but in this way neither their position nor 
their connection is at all accounted for. The relation of ch. 
xxxiv. to the following is analogous to that of ch. xxi. Just as 
the collection of special announcements regarding judgment 
and deliverance, ch. xxi., was introduced by the utterances of 
the prophet in the beginning of the last siege of Jerusalem 
by the Chaldeans ; so too, in our third division, the collected 
evidences of the labours of Jeremiah before and after the 

CHAP. XXXIV. 1-7. 79 

destruction of Jerusalem, are introduced, ch. xxxiv., by the 
utterances which predict quite definitely what shall be the issue 
of the siege of the city and the fate of the king and people. 
The first of these utterances is set in a frame of historical 
statements regarding the siege (vers. 1, 7) ; this setting marks 
it out as an introduction to the notices following. But the 
second utterance, vers. 8-22, refers to the fact of the manu- 
mission of the Hebrew men- and maid-servants during the 
siege, and the cancelling of that measure afterwards. The fol- 
lowing chaps., xxxv. xxxvi., furnish two proofs of the activity 
of the prophet under Jehoiakim, which, on account of their 
historical nature, could not be introduced till now, since they 
would not admit of being inserted in the collection of the par- 
ticular prophecies of coining judgment, ch. xxi.-xxix. 


Chap, xxxiv. Concerning Zedekiah and the Emancipation of the 

Men- and Maid-servants. 

This chapter contains two prophecies of the time of the 
siege of Jerusalem under Zedekiah, of which the first, vers. 
1-7, announces to the king the fruitlessness of resistance to the 
power of the Chaldeans ; the second, vers. 8-22, threatens the 
princes and people of Judah with severe judgments for an- 
nulling the manumission of the Hebrew men- and maid-ser- 
vants. Both of these utterances belong to the first period of 
the siege, probably the ninth year of the reign of Zedekiah. 

Vers. 1-7. The message to Zedekiah is regarded by Hitzig, 
Ewald, Graf, Niigelsbach, etc.. as a supplement to ch. xxxii. 
1 ff., and as giving, in its complete form, the prophecy to which 
ch. xxxii. off. was referred, as the reason of the confinement 
of Jeremiah in the court of the prison. Certainly it is so far 
true that Jeremiah, in vers. 2-5, expresses himself more fully 
regarding the fate of King Zedekiah at the fall of Jerusalem 
into the hands of the Chaldeans than in ch. xxxii. 3-5, xxi. 
3 ff., and xxxvii. 17 ; but we are not warranted in drawing the 
inference that this message' forms a historical appendix or sup- 


plement to ch. xxxii. 3 ff., and was the occasion or reason of 
Jeremiah's imprisonment. See, on the contrary, the remarks 
on xxxii. 3 ff. It is not given here as an appendix to explain 
the reason of the prophet's imprisonment, but as a prophecy 
from which we may see how King Zedekiah was forewarned, 
from the very beginning of the siege, of what its issue would 
be, that he might frame his conduct accordingly. Nor does it 
belong to the period when Nebuchadnezzar, after beating off 
the Egyptians who had come to the relief of the beleaguered 
city, had returned to the siege of Jerusalem, but to the earliest 
period of the siege, when Zedekiah might still cherish the hope 
of defeating and driving off the Chaldeans through the help of 
the Egyptians. — According to ver. 1, the word of the Lord 
came to Jeremiah when " Nebuchadnezzar and," i.e. with, " all 
his host, and all the kino;doms of the land of the dominion of 
his hand, and all the nations, were fighting against Jerusalem 
and all her towns." The words are multiplied to represent the 
strength of the Chaldean army, so as to deepen the impression 
of overpowering might, against which resistance is vain. The 
army consists of men drawn from all the kingdoms of the terri- 
tory he rules, and of all nations. IT TD&DD pK means the 
same as tattoo pS, li. 28, the territory over which his do- 
minion, which includes many kingdoms, extends. The LXX. 
have omitted " all the nations" as superfluous. See a like 
conglomeration of words in a similar description, Ezek. xxvi. 7. 
" All her towns" are the towns of Judah which belong to Jeru- 
salem ; see xix. 15. According to ver. 7, the strong towns not 
yet taken are meant, especially those strongly fortified, Lachish 
and Azekali in the plain (Josh. xv. 39, 35), the former of 
which is shown still under the name Urn Lakhis, while the 
latter is to be sought for in the vicinity of Socho ; see on Josh. 
x. 3, 10, and 2 Chron. xi. 9.— Jeremiah is to say to the king : 

Ver. 2b. " Thus saith Jahveh : Behold, 1 will deliver this 
city into the hand of the king of Babylon, that he may burn it 
with fire. Ver. 3. And thou shalt not escape from his hand, 
but shalt certainly be seized and delivered into his hand ; and 
thine eyes shall see the eyes of the king of Babylon, and his 
mouth shall speak with thy mouth, and thou shalt go to Baby- 
lon. Ver. 4. But hear the word of Jahveh, O Zedekiah, king 

CHAP. XXXIV. 1-7. 81 

of Judah. Thus saitli Jahveh concerning thee : Thou shalt not 
die by the sword. Ver. 5. In peace shalt thou die ; and as with 
the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings who were before 
thee, so shall they make a burning for thee, and they shall wail 
for thee, [crying,] ' Alas, lord ! ' for I have spoken the word, 
saitli Jahveh." — On vers. 2, 3, cf. xxxii. 3-5. " But hear," 
ver. 4, introduces an exception to what has been said before ; but 
the meaning of vers. 4, 5 is disputed. They are usually under- 
stood in this way : Zedekiah shall be carried into exile to Baby- 
lon, but shall not be killed with the sword, or executed, but 
shall die a peaceful death, and be buried with royal honours. 
But C. B. Michaelis, Venema, Hitzig, and Graf take the words 
as an exception that will occur, should Zedekiah follow the 
advice given him to deliver himself up to the king of Babylon, 
instead of continuing the struggle. Then what is denounced 
in ver. 3 will not happen ; Zedekiah shall not be carried away 
to Babylon, but shall die as king in Jerusalem. This view 
rests on the hypothesis that the divine message has for its object 
to induce the king to submit and give up himself (cf. xxxviii. 
17 f.). But this supposition has no foundation ; and what 
must be inserted, as the condition laid before Zedekiah, " if 
thou dost willingly submit to the king of Babylon," is quite 
arbitrary, and incompatible with the spirit of the words, " But 
hear the word of Jahveh," for in this case ver. 4 at least 
would require to run, " Obey the word of Jahveh" ("i?*]3 V^p 
fliSV), as xxxviii. 20. To take the words " "On ynv in the sense, 

t :// t: ~ : - : ? 

" Give ear to the word, obey the word of Jahveh," is not 
merely inadmissible grammatically, but also against the context ; 
for the word of Jahveh which Zedekiah is to hear, gives no 
directions as to how he is to act, but is simply an intimation 
as to what the end of his life shall be : to change or avert 
this does not stand in his power, so that we cannot here think 
of obedience or disobedience. The message in vers. 4, 5 states 
more in detail what that was which lay before Zedekiah : he 
shall fall into the hands of the king of Babylon, be carried into 
exile in Babylon, yet shall not die a violent death through the 
sword, but die peacefully, and be buried with honour, — not, 
like Jehoiakim, fall in battle, and be left unmourned and un- 
buried (xxii. 18 f.). This intimation accords with the notices 


given elsewhere as to the end of Zedekiah (xxxii. 5, xxxix. 5-7). 
Although Zedekiah died a prisoner in Babylon (lii. 11), yet his 
imprisonment would not necessarily be an obstacle in the way 
of an honourable burial after the fashion of his fathers. When 
Jehoiachin, after an imprisonment of thirty-seven years, was 
raised again to royal honours, then also might there be accorded 
not merely a tolerably comfortable imprisonment to Zedekiah 
himself, but to the Jews also, at his death, the permission to 
bury their king according to their national custom. Nor is any- 
thing to be found elsewhere contrary to this view of the words. 
The supposition that Zedekiah caused the prophet to be im- 
prisoned on account of this message to him, which Nagelsbach 
has laboured hard to reconcile with the common acceptation of 
the passage, is wholly devoid of foundation in fact, and does 
not suit the time into which this message falls ; for Jeremiah 
was not imprisoned till after the time when the Chaldeans were 
obliged for a season to raise the siege 5 on the approach of the 
Egyptians, and that, too, not at the command of the king, but 
by the watchman at the gate, on pretence that he was a deserter. 
" Thou shalt die in peace," in contrast with " thou shalt die by 
the sword," marks a peaceful death on a bed of sickness in 
contrast with execution, but not (what Graf introduces into the 
words) in addition, his being deposited in the sepulchre of his 
fathers. " With the burnings of thy fathers," etc., is to be 
understood, according to 2 Chron. xvi. 14, xxi. 19, of the 
burning of aromatic spices in honour of the dead ; for the burn- 
ing of corpses was not customary among the Hebrews : see on 
2 Chron. xvi. 14. On " alas, lord !" see xxii. 18. This promise 
is strengthened by the addition, " for I have spoken the word," 
where the emphasis lies on the "^K : / the Lord have spoken 
the word, which therefore shall certainly be fulfilled. — In vers. 
6, 7 it is further remarked in conclusion, that Jeremiah ad- 
dressed these words to the king during the siege of Jerusalem, 
when all the cities of Judah except Lachish and Azekah 
were already in the power of the Chaldeans. "1V3D "HJJ is 
not in apposition to JTTiiV "njJ, but belongs to FIRM : " they 
were left among the towns of Judah as strong cities;" i.e. 
of the strong cities of Judah, they alone had not yet been 

CHAP. XXXIV. 8-11. 83 

Vers. 8-22. Threatening because of the re-enslave- 

— Vers. 8-11 describe the occasion of the word of the Lord, 
which follows in vers. 12-22. It came to Jeremiah u after King 
Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem, 
to proclaim liberty to them, that every one should send away his 
man-servant, or his maid-servant, being a Hebrew or Hebrewess, 
so that none should impose servitude on any one of them who 
was a Jew, his brother. Ver. 10. And all the princes and all 
the people who entered into the covenant obeyed, each one 
setting free his man-servant and his maid-servant, and not 
imposing servitude on them any more : they obeyed and each 
one set them free. Ver. 11. But they turned round after- 
wards, and brought back the servants and the handmaids whom 
they had set free, and brought them under subjection, for 
servants and for handmaids." The covenant which Zedekiah 
concluded with all the people at Jerusalem, according to what 
follows, consisted in a solemn vow made before the Lord in the 
temple, probably confirmed by sacrifices, to set free the male 
and female slaves of Hebrew descent, in conformity with the 
law, Ex. xxi. 1-4, Deut. xv. 12. The law required the 
gratuitous manumission of these after seven years of service. 
This time, indeed, is not mentioned in our verses, but it is 
assumed as well known through the law. But, in the general 
departure of the people from the Lord and His commandments, 
the observance of this law had probably long been intermitted, 
so that, in consequence of the solemn engagement to obey it once 
more, a great number of Hebrew male and female slaves received 
their freedom, inasmuch as very many had served longer than 
seven years ; however, we need not suppose that all bond men 
and women were liberated at once. The resolution, ver. 9, that 
every one should liberate his Hebrew man- or maid-servant, 
and that no one should continue to impose servitude on a Jew, 
his brother, i.e. compel him any longer to serve as a slave, is 
conditioned by the law, which is assumed as well known : this 
also accords with the expression E2"*ny *r>?X>, which is used in a 
general way of the treatment of Hebrew men- and maid-servants, 
Lev. xxv. 39. However, it is also possible that a liberation 
of all bond men and women took place without regard to the 


duration of their servitude, partly for the purpose of averting, 
bj such obedience to the law, the calamity now threatening the 
city, and partly also to employ the liberated slaves in the defence 
of the city; for, according to ver. 21 f., the emancipation took 
place during the siege of Jerusalem, and after the departure of 
the Chaldeans the solemn promise was revoked. The expres- 
sion li~n #-i\) } " to proclaim liberty," is taken from Lev. xxv. 
10, but it does not prove that the manumission took place on a 
sabbath- or a jubilee-year. Er6 refers ad sensum to those. who 
were bondmen and had a right to be set free. The general 
expression is explained by D^sn npw, and this again is more 
closely defined by D3"13J> H ffc6 (cf. Lev. xxv. 39). WHK nvra 
E*N, (that no one should labour) " through a Jew, who is his 
brother," i.e. a fellow-countryman ; i.e. that no one should impose 
servitude on a Jew, as being a compatriot. " To enter into a 
covenant" is to assume its obligation ; cf. 2 Chron. xv. 12, Ezek. 
xvi. 8. The Kethib 0145^33* receives, in the Qeri, the vowels of 
the Kal, since the Hiphil of this verb does not occur elsewhere, 
only the Kal, cf. 2 Chron. xxviii. 10 ; but the alteration is un- 
necessary, — the Hiphil may intensify the active meaning. 

Vers. 12-22. The threat of punishment. — Ver. 12. "Then 
came the word of Jahveh to Jeremiah from Jahveh, saying : 
Ver. 13. Thus saith Jahveh, the God of Israel, 'I made a 
covenant with your fathers in the day when I brought them 
out of the land of Egypt, from a house of bondmen, saying, 
Ver. 14. At the end of seven years shall ye set free each man 
his brother, who is a Hebrew that sold himself to thee ; and he 
shall serve thee six years, then shalt thou send him away from 
thee free : but your fathers hearkened not unto me, nor inclined 
their ear. Ver. 15. But you had turned just now, and had done 
what is right in mine eyes, because each man proclaimed 
liberty to his neighbour, and ye had made a covenant before 
me in the house on which my name is called. Ver. 16. But 
ye turned again and profaned my name, and each one made 
his man-servant and his handmaid, whom he had sent away 
free, at their pleasure, to return, and ye brought them into 
subjection, to be men- and maid-servants to you. Ver. 17. 
Therefore, thus saith Jahveh, Ye have not hearkened unto me 
in proclaiming liberty each man to his brother, and each man 

CHAP. XXXIV. 12-22. 85 

to his neighbour : behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith 
Jahveh, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to famine, and I 
will deliver you up for maltreatment to all the kingdoms of the 
earth. Ver. 18. And I shall make the men who have trans- 
gressed my covenant, that have not kept the words of the 
covenant which they concluded before me, like the calf which 
they cut in two, and between whose pieces they passed. Ver. 
19. The princes of Judah and the princes of Jerusalem, the 
courtiers, and the priests, and all the people of the land, who 
passed through between the pieces of the calf, Ver. 20. Them 
will I give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand 
of those who seek their life, so that their corpses shall be for 
food to the birds of heaven and to the beasts of the earth. 
Ver. 21. And Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his princes will I 
give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those 
who seek their life, and into the hand of the army of the king 
of Babylon, that has departed from against you. Ver. 22. 
Behold, I will command, saith Jahveh, and will make them 
return to this city, and they shall fight against it, and shall take 
it, and shall burn it with fire ; and the cities of Judah will I 
make a desolation, without an inhabitant." 

In vers. 13-16 the Lord sets before the people and their 
rulers their new offence ; in vers. 17-22 He announces to them 
the punishment for this new deed by which the covenant is 
broken. In order to place the transgression in its proper light, 
He mentions, first of all, that, when He led Israel out of Egypt, 
He concluded with them a covenant to the effect that every one 
of them should set free his Hebrew servant at the end of seven 
years ; He also mentions that their fathers had transgressed this 
covenant (vers. 13, 14). The designation of Egypt as a house 
of bondmen, as in Ex. xiii. 3, 14, xx. 2, Deut. vi. 12, etc., 
possesses a special emphasis, and points to what is mentioned 
in Deut. xv. 15 as the motive for obeying the law referred to 
in the address. Because Israel was a servant in Enypt, and 
the Lord has redeemed him out of this house of bondmen, 
therefore must they not treat as slaves their brethren who had 
fallen into poverty, but set them free after six years of service. 
The expression u at the end (after the lapse) of seven years " is 
to be understood in the same way as the expression "after 


eight days." As this just means "when seven days are com- 
pleted," so also, according to the law, Ex. xxi. 2, Deut. xv. 12, 
the emancipation was to follow in the seventh year, after six 
full years of service. " Who sold himself to thee " is an ex- 
pression copied from Deut. xv. 12. — From this sin of their 
fathers they had now for a little turned away, and, in a solemn 
covenant, resolved to free the bondmen, as the law decreed 
(ver. 15) ; but they have immediately profaned the name of 
the Lord again by revoking this decree, viz. by breaking the 
covenant made before God. 2£'?3?, " according to their pleasure," 
like n^SD- 5 , Deut. xxi. 14. — Ver. 17 ff. The announcement of 

t : - : / 

punishment. Because ye have not hearkened, by proclaiming, 
every one, liberty to his bondman (this certainly had been done, 
but was again undone by annulling the decree), therefore I 
proclaim liberty for you ; i.e. you, who have hitherto been my 
servants (Lev. xxv. 55), I discharge from this relation, — deliver 
you up to your fate as regards the sword, etc., that the sword, 
famine, and pestilence may have power over you. For rwb see 
xv. 4. — In ver. 18 the construction is disputed. Many, in- 
cluding Luther, take ?3yn as the second object to WlJ : " I will 
make the men .... the calf," i.e. like the calf. But, though 
?n3 is frequently construed with a double accusative with the 
meaning of making some thing another thing (cf. e.g. ver. 22, 
Gen. xvii. 5, Ex. vii. 1), yet in such a case the predicative- 
object does not readily take the article. Moreover, JH3, in the 
sense required here, to make like = treat as, is joined with 3, 
as in Isa. xli. 2, Ezek. xxviii. 2, 6, Gen. xlii. 30, 1 Kings x. 
27, etc. Finally, Eosenmiiller objects: continuata versu- 19 
personarum descriptio et repetitio verbi '•rinJ'J ver. 20 vix per- 
mittuntj propositionem hoc versu absdlvi. For these reasons, 
L. de Dieu, Rosenmuller, Ewald, and Graf have taken ?JJ?n as 
being in apposition to ITHan, and the enumeration " princes of 
Judah," etc., ver. 19, as a continuation or exposition of CtWKn, 
ver. 18, and Drrix "•rin^l, ver. 20, as a resumption of the same 
words in ver. 18. According to this view, vers. 18-20 would 
form a series of appositions : " I will give the men . . . that have 
not kept the words of the covenant which they concluded before 
me .... the princes of Judah who passed between the parts 
of the calf, — these will I give into the hands of their enemies." 

CHAP. XXXIV. 12-22. 87 

But, apart from the consideration that the enumeration of the 
covenant-breakers (viz. the princes of Judah, etc.), which is 
added by way of apposition in ver. 19, ought not to come in 
till after the apposition to JT'ian, which would be a harsh and 
complicated arrangement of the members of the sentence, this 
construction seems untenable for the following reasons : (a) 
"The calf that they cut," etc., which forms the explanatory 
apposition to " the covenant," is separated from it by the inter- 
vening clause, " which they made before me." And (b), even 
though we might modify this harshness by repeating "HinTix 
before sW[}, yet the mode of expression, " they have not per- 
formed the words of the calf which they cut in two, and between 
whose parts they passed," would be a very stiff and unnatural 
one for " they have not performed what they vowed or sware in 
presence of the parts of the calf which they had halved, and when 
they passed through between these pieces." With Maurer and 
Hitzig, therefore, we abide by the older view, which takes «Jjn 
as the second object to *<WU\: "I will make the men . . . the 
calf," or, better, "like the calf which they cut in two," etc. 
The article is used with ?Jy because this predicate is more exactly 
determined by relative clauses, and «yn stands for »J?3, since, 
as often happens, the 3 of likeness is dropped to give more 
point to the idea. We make ver. 19 begin a new sentence, and 
take the names of this verse as objects absolute, which, by DniX 
following WW, are subordinated to the verb : " As for the 
princes of Judah .... them shall I give . . . ." — From ver. 
18 we see that, when alliances were entered into, the contract- 
ing parties slaughtered an 7iV, « calf," i.e. a young bullock, cut 
it in two halves, and went through between the pieces that were 
placed opposite one another. See on Gen. xv. 10 for details 
regarding this most ancient custom and its meaning : according 
to the account of Ephraem Syrus, it is of Chaldean origin. 
Thus are explained the phrases used to signify the making of 
a covenant. 1V12 IVG, to cut a covenant, op/cia refiveiv, fosdus 
ferire, i.e. ferienda hostia joedus facere. We cannot with cer- 
tainty infer, from the threatening, pronounced in this passage, 
that this rite originally signified nothing more than that he who 
broke his promise would be treated like the animal that had 
been slaughtered. For the threatening is merely a conclusion 


drawn from the sacred act ; but this does not exclude a deeper 
meaning of the rite. — Vers. 19-22 give the real explanation of 
the threatening attached to the ritual of the covenant. Princes, 
officers of the court, priests and people, who have transgressed 
the covenant, shall die by the hand of the enemy, and perish 
ignominiously. On ver. 20b, cf. vii. 33, xvi. 4, etc. On Q^np 
see on Gen. xxxvii. 36. King Zedekiah also, with his princes, 
his retinue, shall fall into the hand of his enemies, ay, into the 
hands of the Chaldeans, who have now withdrawn from Jeru- 
salem (on Pyo n?y see on xxi. 2). See also xxxvii. 5-8. 

Chap. xxxv. The Example of the Rechabites. 

By the command of God, Jeremiah brings the family of the 
Rechabites (who had fled for refuge to Jerusalem before the 
approach of the Chaldeans) into one of the chambers of the 
temple, and sets before them some wine to drink (vers. 1-5). 
They decline to drink, because the head of their family had 
forbidden them the use of wine, as well as the possession of 
houses and the cultivation of the soil, and had commanded 
them to live in tents (vers. 6-11). Jeremiah is to put this 
before the people of Judah. The Rechabites faithfully observe 
the command of their ancestor, while the people of Judah 
transgress the commands of their God, which are continually 
presented to them (vers. 12-16). Therefore the threatened 
calamity shall fall upon Judah ; but the house of Rechab, as a 
reward for their faithfulness to the injunctions of their ancestor, 
shall continue for ever (vers. 17-19). 

According to ver. 1, this word of the Lord came to Jeremiah 
in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, and, according to 
ver. 11, previous to the arrival of Nebuchadnezzar and his host 
before Jerusalem ; therefore perhaps in the summer of the year 
'606 B.C., for Jerusalem was taken for the first time by Nebu- 
chadnezzar in the ninth month (December) of that year. 

Vers. 1-11. Jeremiah's dealings with the Rechabites — Ver. 
2. Jeremiah is to go to the house, i.e. the family, of the 
Rechabites, speak with them, and bring them into one of the 
chambers of the temple, and set before them wine to drink. 
C^rin n*3, vers. 2, 3, 18, is exchanged for ttrDnrrivn \13, ver. 5, 
from which it is apparent that "the house of the Rechabites" 

CHAP. XXXV. 1-11. 89 

does not mean their dwelling-place, but the family, called 
in 1 Chron. ii. 55 33TTP3. According to this passage, the 
Rechabites were a branch of the Kenites, i.e. descendants of 
the Ke?iite, the father-in-law of Moses (Judg. i. 16), who had 
gone to Canaan with the Israelites, and dwelt among them, 
partly in the wilderness on the southern frontier of the tribe of 
Judah (1 Sam. xv. 6, xxvii. 10, xxx. 29), partly at Kadesh in 
Naphtali (Judg. iv. 11, 17, v. 24). Their ancestor, or father 
of the tribe, was Rechab, the father of Jonadab, with whom 
Jehu made a friendly alliance (2 Kings x. 15, 23). Jonadab 
had laid on them the obligation to live in the special manner 
mentioned below, in order to keep them in the simplicity of 
nomad life observed by their fathers, and to preserve them from 
the corrupting influences connected with a settled life. ^2^?, 
" cells of the temple," were additional buildings in the temple 
fore-courts, used partly for keeping the stores of the temple 
(1 Chron. xxviii. 12), partly as dwellings for those who served 
in it, and as places of meeting for those who came to visit it ; 
see Ezek. xl. 17. — Ver. 3. In executing the command of the 
Lord, Jeremiah took (went for) Jaazaniah, son of Jeremiah, 
son of Habaziniah, and all his brethren, and sons, and the 
whole house of the Rechabites, and brought them into the 
temple-chamber of the sons of Hanan. Jaazaniah was pro- 
bably the then chief of the Rechabites. The chamber of the 
sons of Hanan was situated next the princes' chamber, which 
stood over that of Maaseiah the door-keeper. Nothing further 
is known about Hanan the son of Jio-daliah ; here he is called 
" the man of God," an honourable title of the prophets, — see e.g. 
1 Kings xii. 22, — for, according to the usual mode of construc- 
tion, DwSn B*K does not belong to Jigdaliah, but to Hanan, cf. 
xxviii. 1, Zech. i. 1. "The chamber of the princes" is the 
chamber where the princes, the chiefs of the people, used to 
assemble in the temple. Its position is more exactly described 
by '?? syipft) "over the chamber of Maaseiah," but not very 
clearly for us, since the buildings of the temple fore-courts are 
nowhere else more exactly described ; however, see on xxxvi. 
10. Maaseiah was *1DH ">»#, "keeper of the threshold," i.e. 
overseer of the watchmen of the temple gates, of which, accord- 
ing to lii. 24 and 2 Kings xxv. 18, there were three, who are 


there mentioned along with the high priest and his substitute 
Maaseiah is probably the same whose son Zephaniah was ftp 
naeferi, cf. Hi. 24 vith xxxvii. 3, xxix. 25, and xxi. 1. — Ver. 5 f. 
There, Jeremiah caused bowls filled with wine to be set before 
the Rechabites, and commanded them to drink. (QT?3 are 
large goblets, bowls, out of which drinking-cups [niDb] were 
filled.) But they explained that they did not drink wine, 
because their father, i.e. their ancestor, Jonadab had forbidden 
them and their posterity to drink wine for ever, as also to build 
houses, to sow seed, and to plant vineyards, i.e. to settle them- 
selves down in permanent dwellings and to pursue agriculture. 
D3^> .Tn> npi, "And there shall not be to you," sc. what has just 
been named, i.e. ye must not possess houses, growing-crops, or 
vineyards (cf. ver. 9), 1 but ye are to dwell in tents all your 
life, that ye may live long, etc. This promise is an imitation 
of that found in Ex. xx. 12. — Vers. 8-10. This command of 
their forefather they observe in all points, and therefore dwell 
in tents; and only because of Nebuchadnezzar's arrival in the 
country have they come to Jerusalem, in order to find refuge 
for a time from the army of the Chaldeans and that of Aram 
(the Arameans). The special mention of the army of Aram in 
connection with that of the Chaldeans is perhaps due to the 
frequent predatory incursions made, at an earlier period, on 
Israel and Judah by the Syrians. According to 2 Kings xxiv. 
2, after Jehoiakim had rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, hostile 
bands of Arameans invaded Judah for the purpose of laying 
waste the country. 

Vers. 12-19. The example of the Rechabites is one for Judah. 
— Jeremiah is to proclaim the word of the Lord to the people 
of Judah, as follows : Ver. 13. " Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, 

1 These injunctions, given by Jonadab to his posterity, that he might 
make them always lead a nomad life, are quoted by Diodorus Siculus, xix. 
94, as a law among the Nabateans: No'^&.c early uvrols, piftt oirov onetpsiv, 
pviTi QvTsdsiv y.riozv Qvtou x.upTro<p6pov, pyre ohv xpiiadcii, fi'/irs oixictv x.»rx- 
ozsvafytv ; while the object of the law is stated to have been the main- 
tenance of their freedom against the more powerful who sought to bring 
them into subjection. And even at the present day the Bedouins imagine 
that they are prevented, by the nobility of their descent from Ishmael, 
from engaging in agriculture, handicraft, or the arts ; cf. Arvieux, Sitten 
der Beduinen-Araber, 5 f. 

C£AP. XXXV. 12-19. 91 

the God of Israel : Go and say to the men of Judah and the 
inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction by 
listening to my words? saith Jahveh. Ver. 14. The words of 
Jonadab the son of Rechab, who commanded his sons not to 
drink wine, are performed, and they have drunk no wine to 
this day, but have obeyed the command of their father. But 
/ have spoken unto you, rising up early and speaking, yet ye 
have not listened unto me. Ver. 15. And I sent unto you all my 
servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, 
Turn ye, now, every one from his evil way, and do good deeds, 
and do not go after other gods, to serve them ; then shall ye 
dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers. 
But ye did not incline your ear, nor hearken unto me. Ver. 
16. Yea, the children of Jonadab the son of Rechab have ob 1 - 
served the commandment of their father which he commanded 
them, while this people have not hearkened unto me. Ver. 17. 
Therefore, thus saith Jahveh, the God of hosts, the God of 
Israel : Behold, I will bring upon Judah and on the inhabitants 
of Jerusalem all the evil which I have uttered regarding them, 
because I spake unto them and they did not hear, and I called 
unto them, but they did not answer. Ver. 18. And to the 
house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said : Thus saith Jahveh of 
hosts, the God of Israel, Because ye have listened to the com- 
mand of Jonadab your father, and have kept all his com- 
mandments, and .have done according to all that he commanded 
you, Ver. 19. Therefore, thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God 
of Israel, Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to 
stand before me for ever." 

The command, " Go and speak to the men of Judah," etc., 
shows that it was not in the chamber of the temple, in presence 
of the Rechabites, but probably in one of the temple fore-courts, 
that Jeremiah addressed the following word of the Lord to the 
people assembled there. In order to shame the Jews thoroughly, 
he shows them the faithfulness with which the Rechabites ob- 
serve the ordinances of their ancestor Jonadab. The character 
of the address^ as one intended to rouse feelings of shame, is 
indicated even at the beginning of ver. 13 : " Will ye not re- 
ceive instruction by hearkening to the words of the Lord % " 
The Hoph. D^in is construed as a passive with the accus. ; in the 


older writers we frequently find this construction, in which the 
passive is used impersonally, hence the sing, is here employed : 
cf. Ges. § 143, 1, Ew. § 295, b. u To this day" — now for nearly 
300 years without interruption ; for Jonadab was already held 
in high esteem when Jehu ascended the throne, 883 B.C. (2 
Kings x. 15). Judah, on the contrary, does not listen to the 
commandments which his God unceasingly inculcates on him, 
but rather wanders after other gods, to serve them. On ver. 15 
cf. xxv. 4, 5. n»1Nrri>K stands for nDIKrr^j; X xv. 5.— In ver. 

/ t t -; t t t -; t - / 

16, where the introductory *3, imo, indicates a culmination, the 
idea is once more briefly expressed. Nagelsbach incorrectly 
renders ^3 "because" and makes ver. 16 the protasis to ver. 17. 
" Such a protasis with because (quia), without any connection 
with what precedes, is contrary to the use of language " (Hitzig). 
On the threat of punishment in ver. 17, see xi. 11. — Ver. 18. 
The declaration concerning the Rechabites is introduced by the 
formula, " And to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said ; " 
thereby, too, it is shown that the statement does not form an 
integral portion of the preceding address, but was uttered by 
Jeremiah perhaps at the close of his transactions with them 
(ver. 11). But it is not given till now, in order to signify to 
the people of Judah that even fidelity to paternal commands 
has its own rewards, to make the threat uttered against Judah 
all the more impressive. On the promise ver. 19, cf. xxxiii. 18. 
Since ^a? *iDy denotes the standing of a servant before his 
master, and in vii. 10 is used of the appearance of the people 
before the Lord in the temple, ^D? 1DJJ seems here also to 
express not merely the permanence of the family, but in addition, 
their continuance in the service of the Lord, without, of course, 
involving sacerdotal service ; cf. on the other hand, xxxiii. 18, 
where this service is more exactly described. The acknowledg- 
ment of the Lord on the part of the Rechabites is a necessary 
result of their connection with Israel. 1 

1 According to the account of the Jewish missionary Wolff, there are 
still some Rechabites in Asia, in Mesopotamia and Yemen, who affirm that 
they are descended from Hobab the brother-in-law [A.V. " father-in-law ; " 
but see Smith's Bible Dictionary, vol. i. Robab~\ of Moses. "Wolff points out 
that part of the desert of Yemen near Senaa as the special locality where 
these Rechabites live. Cf. Dr. Joseph Wolff, ein Wanderlelen, von Dr. 
Sengelmann, Hamburg 1863, S. 65 u 196. 


Chap, xxxvi. Jeremiah's Discourses are written down, and 
read in the Temple. 

In the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim the word of 
the Lord came to Jeremiah, bidding him commit to writing all 
the addresses he had previously delivered, that Judah might, if 
it were possible, still regard the threatenings and return (vers. 
1-3). In accordance with this command, he got all the words 
of the Lord written down in a book by his attendant Baruch, 
with the further instruction that this should be read on the 
fast-day in the temple to the people who came out of the country 
into Jerusalem (vers. 4-8). When, after this, in the ninth 
month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim, a fast was appointed, 
Baruch read the prophecies to the assembled people in the 
chamber of Gemariah in the temple. Michaiah the son of 
Gemariah mentioned the matter to the princes who were assem- 
bled in the royal palace ; these then sent for Baruch with the 
roll, and made him read it to them. But they were so frightened 
by what was read to them that they deemed it necessary to 
inform the king regarding it (vers. 9-19). At their advice, 
the king had the roll brought and some of it read before him ; 
but scarcely had some few columns been read, when he cut the 
roll into pieces and threw them into the pan of coals burning 
in the room, at the same time commanding that Baruch and 
Jeremiah should be brought to him ; but God hid them (vers. 
20-26). After this roll had been burnt, the Lord commanded the 
prophet to get all his words written on a new roll, and to predict 
an ignominious fate for King Jehoiakim ; whereupon Jeremiah 
once more dictated his addresses to Baruch (vers. 27-32). 

Since Jeremiah, according to vers. 3, 6, 7, is to get his ad- 
dresses written down that Baruch may be able to read them 
publicly on the fast-day, now at hand, because he himself was 
prevented from getting to the temple, the intention of the divine 
command was not to make the prophet put down in writing and 
gather together all the addresses he had hitherto given, but the 
writing down is merely to serve as a means of once more pre- 
senting to the people the whole contents of his prophecies, in 
order to induce them, wherever it was possible, to return to the 
Lord. In the fourth year of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar, after 


vanquishing the Egyptians at the Euphrates, advanced against 
Judah, took Jerusalem, and made Jehoiakim tributary. In the 
same year, too, Jeremiah had delivered the prophecy regarding 
the giving up of Judah and all nations for seventy years into 
the power of the king of Babylon (chap, xxv.) ; this was before 
he had been bidden write down all his addresses. For, that he 
did not receive this command till towards the end of the fourth 
year, may be gathered with certainty from the fact that the 
public reading of the addresses, after they were written down, 
was to take place on the fast-day, which, according to ver. 9, 
was not held till the ninth month of the fifth year. The only 
doubtful point is, whether they were written down and read 
before or after the first capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchad- 
nezzar. Most modern commentators take the former view ; 
e.g. Hitzig says, briefly and decidedly, " According to ver. 29, 
the Chaldeans had not as yet appeared in the country." But 
this is not mentioned in ver. 29. The threatening in this verse, 
" The king of Babylon shall come and destroy this land, and 
exterminate men and beasts from it," does not prove that the 
king of Babylon had not yet come to Judah, but merely that 
the country had not yet been destroyed, and men and cattle 
exterminated from it. When Jerusalem was first taken, Nebu- 
chadnezzar contented himself with subjecting Jehoiakim under 
his supreme authority and requiring the payment of tribute, as 
well as carrying away some of the vessels of the temple and 
some hostages. The devastation of Judah and the extirpation 
of men and beasts did not commence till the second subjuga- 
tion of Jerusalem under Jehoiakim, and was completed when 
the city was utterly destroyed, in Zedekiah's time, on its third 
subjugation. The settlement of the question that has been 
raised depends on the determination of the object for which 
the special fast-day in the fifth year was appointed, whether 
for averting the threatened invasion by the Chaldeans, or as a 
memorial of the first capture of Jerusalem. This question we 
have already so far decided in the Commentary on Daniel, 
p. 66, where it is stated that the fast was held in remembrance 
of that day in the year when Jerusalem was taken for the first 
time by Nebuchadnezzar ; we have also remarked in the same 
place, that Jehoiakim either appointed or permitted this special 


fast u for the purpose of rousing the popular feeling against 
the Chaldeans, to whom they were in subjection, — to evoke in 
the people a religious enthusiasm in favour of resistance ; for 
Jehoiakim keenly felt the subjugation by the Chaldeans, and 
from the first thought of revolt." However, every form of 
resistance to the king of Babylon could only issue in the ruin 
of Judah. Accordingly, Jeremiah made Baruch read his 
prophecies publicly to the people assembled in the temple on 
that day, " by way of counterpoise to the king's desire ;" the 
prophet also bade him announce to the king that the king of 
Babylon would come, i.e. return, to destroy the land, and to root 
out of it both men and beasts. These circumstances give the 
first complete explanation of the terror of the princes when they 
listened to the reading of the book (ver. 16), as well as of the 
wrath of the king, exhibited by his cutting the book in pieces 
and throwing it into the fire : he saw that the addresses of the 
prophet were more calculated to damp those religious aspira- 
tions of the people on which he based his hopes, than to rouse 
the nation against continued submission to the Chaldeans. Not 
till now, too, when the object of the appointment of the fast- 
day was perceived, did the command given by God to the 
prophet to write down his prophecies appear in its proper light. 
Shortly before, and in the most earnest manner, Jeremiah had 
reminded the people of their opposition to the word of God 
preached by him for twenty-three years, and had announced 
to them, as a punishment, the seventy years' subjugation to the 
Chaldeans and the desolation of the country ; yet this an- 
nouncement of the fearful chastisement had made no deeper or 
more lasting impression on the people. Hence, so long as the 
threatened judgment was still in the distance, not much could 
be expected to result from the reading of his addresses in the 
temple on the fast-day, so that the command of God to do so 
should appear quite justified. But the matter took a con- 
siderably different form when Nebuchadnezzar had actually 
taken Jerusalem and Jehoiakim had submitted. The com- 
mencement of the judgments which had been threatened by 
God was the proper moment for laying before the hearts of the 
people, once more, the intense earnestness of the divine message, 
and for urging them to deeper penitence. Just at this point 


the reading of the whole contents of the prophecies delivered 
by Jeremiah appears like a final attempt to preserve the people, 
on whom judgment has fallen, from complete destruction. 

Vers. 2-8. The word of the Lord to Jeremiah was to this 
effect : " Take thee a book-roll, and write on it (H^K for nty) 
all the words that I have spoken unto thee concerning Israel 
and Judah, and concerning all the nations, from the day I spake 
unto thee, from the days of Josiah till this day. Ver. 3. Per- 
haps the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I meditate 
doing to them, that they may return every one from his evil 
way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin." ty»B^ 
here means, to hear correctly and lay to heart ; cf. xxvi. 3. 
Hitzig views the command as meaning, not that Jeremiah is 
now for the first time to write down his addresses (which would 
be an impossibility for the most faithful memory), but that he 
is merely to write them down together in one book, out of the 
several scattered leaves and scraps. Graf has already refuted 
this view, though more fully than was necessary. It is not a 
copying, word for word, of every separate address that is meant, 
but merely a writing down of the essential contents of all his 
oral discourses. This is quite clear, not merely from what is 
stated in ver. 3 as the object of this command, but also from 
the character of these collected addresses, as they are preserved 
to us. That the expression " all the words" is not to be under- 
stood in the most rigid sense, follows from the very fact that, 
when Jeremiah anew wrote down his prophecies, ver. 32, he 
further added " many similar words" to what had been con- 
tained in the first book-roll, which was burned by Jehoiakim. 
But Jeremiah might perhaps be able to retain in his memory 
the substance of all the addresses he had delivered during the 
twenty-three years, since all of them treated of the same sub- 
jects — reproof of prevailing sins, threat of punishment, and 
promises. — Ver. 4. Jeremiah carries out the divine command 
by making Baruch write down on a book-roll all the words of 
the Lord, out of his mouth ('El" 1 "'ED, i.e. at the dictation of Jere- 
miah) ; and since he himself is prevented from getting to the 
house of the Lord, he bids him read the words he had written 
down in the ears of the people in the temple on the fast-day, 
at the same time expressing the hope, ver. 7 : " Perhaps their 

CHAP. XXXVI. 9-19. 97 

supplication will fall down before the Lord, and they will 
return each one from his wicked way ; for great is the wrath 
and the anger which the Lord hath expressed concerning this 
people." Baruch, who is mentioned so early as xxxii. 12 ff. as 
the attendant of the prophet, was, according to the passage 
now before us, his amanuensis, and executed his commissions, 
"nsy ""JN, according to xxxiii. 1 and xxxix. 15, might mean, " I 
am in prison ;" but this does not accord with the request of the 
princes, ver. 19, that Jeremiah should hide himself. Moreover, 
"Wy does not mean a seized, captus," but " stopped, restrained, 
hindered ;" see on Neh. vi. 10. The cause of hindrance is not 
mentioned, as being away from the purpose of the narrative. 
" To read in the roll in the ears of the people," i.e. to read to 
the people out of the book. Di¥ DV3 does not mean " on any 
fast-day whatever," but, " on the fast-day." The article is 
omitted because there was no need for defining the fast-day 
more exactly. The special fast-day mentioned in ver. 9 is 
intended. 'U1 Brunn pari, " their supplication will fall down 
before the Lord," i.e. reach unto God, as if it were laid before 
His feet. ?S3 is transferred from the posture of the suppliant 
— his falling down before God — to his supplication. Hence, in 
Hiphil, to make the supplication fall down before the Lord is 
equivalent to laying the request at His feet; xxxviii. 26, xlii. 9, 
Dan. ix. 18, 20. If the supplication actually comes before God, 
it is also heard and finds success. This success is pointed out 
in til ^^l, " that they may repent." If man, in a repentant 
spirit, supplicates God for grace, God grants him power for 
conversion. But the return of the people from their wicked way 
is indispensable, because the wrath which God has expressed 
concerning it is great, i.e. because God has threatened a heavy 
judgment of wrath. — Ver. 8. Baruch executes his commission. 
Vers. 9-19. The reading of the look in the temple. — Ver. 9. 
In the fifth year of Jehoiakim, in the ninth month, " they 
proclaimed a fast before the Lord, — all the people in Jeru- 
salem, and all the people who had come out of the cities of 
Judah to Jerusalem." DiV SOj^ to call, declare, appoint a fast; 
cf. 1 Kings xxi. 9, 12, 2 Chron. xx. 3. From the tenor of the 
words, the people who lived in Jerusalem and those who had 
come thither out of the country might seem to have called the 



fast. But this is impossible ; for the people from the cities of 
Judah evidently came to Jerusalem only in consequence of the 
fast being appointed. Hence Graf is of opinion that DiS N")hJ 
seems here used in a general way of the keeping of such a fast. 
This view is not confirmed by any parallel instances. The 
expression is inexact, and the inexactness has arisen from the 
effort to attain greater conciseness of expression. The meaning 
is this : a fast was proclaimed, and all the people in Jerusalem 
and out of the cities of Judah came to worship the Lord in 
the temple. It remains doubtful with whom the appointment 
originated, — whether with the king, or with the high priest and 
the priesthood. The ninth month corresponds to our December, 
and consequently came round with the cold season ; cf. ver. 22 f . 
The fast-day was a special one ; for in the law only the day of 
atonement, in the seventh month, was prescribed as a fast-day. 
On the object of this measure, see supra, p. 94 f. — Ver. 10. 
On this day Baruch read the addresses of Jeremiah out of the 
book to the people who had come to the temple, in the " chamber 
of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, the scribe, in the upper fore- 
court, at the entrance of the new gate of the house of the 
Lord." Gemariah the son of Shaphan was one of the king's 
private scribes, a secretary of state. For, according to ver. 12, 
he belonged to the princes, and was probably a brother of 
Ahikam the son of Shaphan, who had already shown himself, 
before this, a protector of the prophet (xxvi. 24). The chamber 
which he had in the temple was situated in the upper fore- 
court, at the entrance of the new gate, whose position we 
cannot exactly determine (see on xxvi. 10), but which led from 
the outer to the inner court of the priests, which rose higher 
than the others. — Ver. 11. Micaiah, a son of Gemariah, was also 
listening to the reading ; and he it was who brought the news 
into the palace. He made for the room, i.e. the office, of Eli- 
shama, the secretary of state, where the princes, viz. Elishama, 
Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, Elnathan the son of Achbor (cf. 
xxvi. 22), Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son 
of Hananiah, had just met for a consultation ; and he men- 
tioned to them what he had heard. — Ver 14. On this informa- 
tion the princes sent Jehudi (perhaps one of the under-officers 
of the secretary of state) to Baruch, to bring him, with the book 

CHAP. XXXVI. 9-19. 99 

from which he had read. From the designation, u Jehudi son 
of Nethaniah, son of Shelemiah, son of Cushi," Hitzig and Graf 
conclude that the first and last are not proper names, but ap- 
pellatives, " the Jew " and " the Cushite," and account for the 
use of them on the ground that, through the application of the 
law given in Deut. xxiii. 7, 8 to Cushites as well as Egyptians, 
the ancestor was a Cushite, and only his great-grandson became 
a Jew, or Jewish citizen, and was called " Jehudi." But this 
view is opposed (1) by the fact that the names of the father 
and the grandfather are true proper names, and these, moreover, 
contain the name Jah (Jahveh), — hence are genuine proper 
names of Israelites ; moreover, (2) even in olden times Jehudith 
occurs as a woman's name, Gen. xxvi. 34. According to this, 
Jehudi is a true proper name, and at the most, Cushi is but a 
surname of the great-grandfather, given him because of his 
descent from the Cushites. Further, the law, Deut. xxiii. 7, 
applies only to the posterity of the Edomites and Egyptians, 
that these should not be received into the congregation of the 
Lord till the third generation ; this ordinance was based on 
grounds which did not permit of its application to other 
nations. These might be naturalized even in the first genera- 
tion on undergoing circumcision, with the exception of Ca- 
naanites, Ammonites, and Moabites, who w r ere not to be admitted 
into the Israelitish community even in the tenth generation, 
Deut. xxiii. 3. — Ver. 15. When Baruch came, the princes, in 
token of friendly and respectful treatment, bade him sit down 
and read to them out of the book he had brought with him. 
Ver. 16. But when they heard all the words read, " they were 
. afraid one at another ; " i.e. by looks, gestures, and words, they 
gave mutual expression of their fear, partly because of the 
contents of what had been read. Although they were gene- 
rally acquainted with the sense and the spirit of Jeremiah's 
addresses, yet what had now been read made a powerful im- 
pression on them ; for Baruch plainly had read, both to the 
people in the temple and to the princes, not the whole book, 
but only the main portions, containing the sternest denuncia- 
tions of sin and the strongest threats of punishment. The 
statement, " he read in (out of) the book the words of Jere- 
miah" (ver. 10), does not mean that he read the whole book ^ 


this would only have wearied the people and weakened the 
impression made. But they were partly also terrified, perhaps, 
by the boldness of a declaration which so decidedly opposed the 
desires and hopes of the king ; for the thought of the event 
mentioned xxvi. 20 ff. would at once suggest to them the 
danger that might arise to the lives of Jeremiah and Baruch 
from the despotic character of the king. They said therefore 
to Baruch, " We must tell the king all these things." For it 
was clear that the matter could not long remain concealed from 
the king, after the public reading in the temple. Hence they 
dared not, agreeably to their official relation to the king, hide 
from him what had taken place. — Ver. 17. Meanwhile, in order 
to inform themselves more exactly regarding what had hap- 
pened, they ask Baruch, " Tell us, how hast thou written all 
these words at his mouth?" Thereupon Baruch replied, " He 
used to call aloud these words to me," i.e. he used to dictate 
them to me by word of mouth, " and I wrote them in the book 
with ink." The imperfect expresses the repeated or continued 
doing of anything ; hence fcO)V here means to dictate, which 
requires considerable time. In the following circumstantial 
clause is found the participle 3rb ""JXI, while I was writing ; 
and so I myself was doing nothing else all the time than writing 
down what was dictated. Some commentators have found a 
stumbling-block in VSO in the question of the princes (ver. 17); 
the LXX. and Ewald omit this w T ord, inasmuch as Baruch 
does not explain till afterwards that he had written down the 
words from the mouth of Jeremiah. Others, like Venema, take 
va» as a question = VS»n. Both explanations are arbitrary and 
unnecessary. The princes knew quite well that the substance 
of the book was from the mouth of Jeremiah, i.e. contained 
his addresses ; but Baruch, too, might have composed the book 
from the oral discourses of the prophet without being com- 
missioned by him, without his knowledge also, and against his 
will. Accordingly, to attain certainty as to the share of the 
prophet in this matter, they ask him, and Baruch answers that 
Jeremiah had dictated it to him. — Ver. 19. Thereupon the 
princes advised Baruch to hide himself and Jeremiah ; for they 
know beforehand that Jehoiakim would put to death the wit- 
nesses of the truth. 

CHAP. XXXVI. 20-26. 101 

Vers. 20-26. The reading of the booh before the ling. — Ver. 
20. The princes betook themselves to the king Fn?n, into the 
inner fore-court (leaving the book-roll in the chamber of the 
secretary of state), and gave him an account of the matter. 
"W1 is the inner court of the palace, in which the royal dwelling- 
apartments are situated. ^^, to entrust a thing or person to 
any one (xl. 7), hence to deposit, preserve, Isa. x. 28. — Ver. 21. 
Thereupon the king makes Jehudi fetch the book, and causes 
it to be read before himself and the assembled princes. *l»y 
TJfO, to stand over, since the one who is standing before his 
master, while the latter is sitting, overtops him ; cf. Gen. xviii. 
8. The king was sitting, as is stated in ver. 22 by way of 
preparation for what follows, in the winter-house, i.e. in that 
portion of the palace which was erected for a winter residence, 
in the ninth month, i.e. during the winter, and the pot of coals 
was burning before him. The rooms of eastern houses have 
no stoves, but in the middle of the floor there is a depression, 
in which is placed a sort of basin with burning coals, for the 
purpose of heating the apartment: cf. KeiPs Bibl. Archciol. ii. 
§ 95, S. 7. For the expression nxrrnxi, " and as for the fire-pot, 
it was burning before him," cf. Ewald, § 277, d. — Ver. 23. Now, 
" when Jehudi had read three or four columns, he [the king] 
cut it [the book-roll] with the pen-knife and threw [the pieces] 
into the fire, in the pot of coals, till the whole roll was consumed 
on the fire in the pot of coals." nirta, properly " doors," are 
not leaves, but divisions of a book. The opinion of Hitzig, 
that leaves are to be understood, and that the Megillah, there- 
fore, was not a roll, properly speaking, but a book with leaves, 
cannot be substantiated. In the synagogues, the Jews even 
at the present day, according to the ancient custom, use real 
rolls, which are rolled up on a stick. On these the Scripture 
text is written, though not in lines which occupy the whole 
breadth of the roll ; the whole space is divided into parts. 
" Scribebatur" says Buxtorf in Institutione epistolari Heir. p. 
4, " volumen lineis, non per longitudinem totius chartce aid per- 
gamenti deductis, sed in plures areas divisis, quomodo sunt latera 
paginarum in libris complicatis. Isto3 propterea voce metaphoricd 
vocantur niriTn januce vulvae, quod figuram januo? referant." 
The subject of ny-jiv is not Jehudi, as Hitzig thinks, but the 


king, and the word does not signify " he cut it out," but " he 
cut it in pieces" (the suffix refers to irpJtpn). We are not, with 
many expositors, to view the conduct of the king in such a way 
as to think that, whenever Jehudi had read some portions, he 
cut these off and threw them into the fire, so that the book was, 
with these interruptions, read through to the end, and at the 
same time gradually destroyed. Such conduct Graf justly 
characterizes as trifling and silly, and not in harmony with the 
anger of a king having a violent disposition. But we cannot see 
how the imperfect jnpi (in Nagelsbach's opinion) proves that 
Jehudi read the whole, when the text states that only three or 
four columns were read. The meaning, peculiar to the im- 
perfect, of the continuation or repetition of an act, is fully 
made out by supposing that the king cut down the roll bit by 
bit, and threw the pieces into the fire one after the other. 
Neither does the expression npjsn _ ?3 Drny imply that the whole 
book was read ; for &prc does not denote the completion of the 
reading, but the completion of the burning : hence the words 
are to be translated, " till the whole roll had completely got 
upon the fire," i.e. was completely burnt ; cf. "vK En, Gen. xlvii. 
18. The inf. absol. tf<ffiy\ is a continuation of the finite verb, 
as frequently occurs, e.g. in xiv. 5, xxxii. 44. — Ver. 24 f. In 
order to characterize the conduct of the king, the writer remarks, 
"Yet the kins and his servants who heard all these words 
(which Jehudi had read) were not afraid, nor did they rend 
their garments (in token of deep sorrow) ; and even when 
Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah addressed the king, request- 
ing him not to burn the roll, he did not listen to them." So 
hardened was the king, that he and his servants neither were 
terrified by the threatenings of the prophet, nor felt deep sorrow, 
as Josiah did in a similar case (2 Kings xxii. 11, cf. 1 Kings 
xxi. 27), nor did they listen to the earnest representations of 
the princes. TH2y are the court-attendants of the king in 
contrast with the princes, who, according to ver. 16, had been 
alarmed by what they heard read, and wished, by entreaties, to 
keep the king from the commission of such a wicked act as the 
destruction of the book. Ewald, on the contrary, has identified 
VHag with the princes, and thereby marred the whole account, 
while he reproaches the princes with " acting as the wretched 

CHAP. XXXVI. 27-32. 103 

instruments of what they knew to be the sentiments prevailing 
at court." — Ver. 26. Not content with destroying the book, 
Jehoiakim also wished to get Baruch and Jeremiah out of the 
way ; for he ordered the king's son Jerahmeel and two other 
men to go for Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet ; 
" but the Lord hid them," i.e. graciously kept them out of the 
sight of the spies. ^?!3n""i2 is not the son of Jehoiakim, — if so, 
we would find simply Uirnx ; but a royal prince is meant, cf. 
xxxviii. 6, 1 Kings xxii. 26, 2 Kings xi. 1, 2, Zeph. i. 8. 

Vers. 27-32. The punishment which is to come on Jehoiakim 
for his wicked act. — Ver. 27 ff. After the burning of the roll 
by the king, Jeremiah received from the Lord the command to 
get all that had been on the former roll written on another, 
and to announce the following to Jehoiakim the king : Ver. 29. 
" Thus saith Jahveh : Thou hast burned this roll, whilst thou 
sayest, Why hast thou written thereon, The king of Babylon 
shall surely come and destroy this land, and root out man and 
beast from it ? Ver. 30. Therefore thus saith Jahveh regard- 
ing Jehoiakim the king of Judah : He shall not have one who 
sits upon the throne of David, and his corpse shall be cast 
forth to the heat by day and to the frost by night. Ver. 31. 
And I shall punish him, his servants, and his seed for their 
iniquity, and bring on them and on all the inhabitants of Judah 
and all the men of Judah all the evil which I have spoken to 
them; but they did not hear." On the meaning of ver. 296 
see p. 94, supra. The threatening expressed in ver. 30 f. is 
really only a repetition of what is given in xxii. 18, 19, and 
has already been explained there. " There shall not be to him 
one who sits upon the throne of David," i.e. he is not to have a 
son that shall occupy the throne of David after him. This 
does not contradict the fact that, after his death, his son 
Jehoiachin ascended the throne. For this ascension could not 
be called a sitting on the throne, a reign, inasmuch as he was 
immediately besieged in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and 
compelled to surrender after three months, then go into exile to 
Babylon. On ver. 31 cf. xxxv. 17, xix. 15.— Ver. 22. There- 
upon Jeremiah made his attendant Baruch write all the words 
of the former roll on a new one, " out of his mouth," i.e. at his 
dictation ; and to these he added many other words like them. 


nsn3 ? i.e. of like import with those on the previous roll. Hence 
we perceive that on the first roll there were written down not 
all the several addresses fully, but only the most important 
parts of his oral announcements. 


Chap, xxxvii. Declaration regarding the Issue of the Siege ; 
Imprisonment of Jeremiah and Conversation with the King. 

Vers. 1-10. The account of what befell Jeremiah and what 

he did during the last siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, 

until the taking of the city, is introduced, vers. 1 and 2, with 

the general remark that Zedekiah, — whom Nebuchadnezzar the 

king of Babylon had made king in the land of Judah in place 

of Coniah (on which name see on xxii. 24), — when he became 

king, did not listen to the words of the Lord through Jeremiah, 

neither himself, nor his servants (officers), nor the people of the 

land (the population of Judah). Then follows, vers. 3-10, a 

declaration of the prophet regarding the issue of the siege, which 

he sent to the king by the messengers who were to beseech him 

for his intercession with the Lord. Vers. 3-5. The occasion of 

this declaration was the following : Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah 

two of his chief officers, Jehucal the son of Shelemiah (see on 

xxxviii. 1), and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest (see 

xxi. 1 and xxix. 25), with this charge: "Pray now for us to 

Jahveh our God." This message was sent to Jeremiah while 

he still went in and out among the people, and had not yet 

been put in prison (Ny3, ver. 4 and Hi. 31, an unusual form for 

N?3, vers. 15 and 18, for which the Qeri would have us in both 

instances read Nv3) ; the army of Pharaoh (Hophra, xliv. 30), 

too, had marched out of Egypt to oppose the Chaldeans ; and 

the latter, when they heard the report of them (0^^*, the news 

of their approach), had withdrawn from Jerusalem (?Vft rpy, 

see on xxi. 2), viz. in order to repulse the Egyptians. Both of 

these circumstances are mentioned for the purpose of giving a 

clear view of the state of things : (a) Jeremiah's freedom to go in 

CHAP. XXXVII. 11-15. 105 

and out, not to prepare us for his imprisonment afterwards, but 
to explain the reason why the king sent two chief officers of 
the realm to him, whereas, after his imprisonment, he caused 
him to be brought (cf. ver. 17 with xxxviii. 14) ; and (b) the 
approach of the Egyptians joined with the raising of the siege, 
because this event seemed to afford some hope that the city 
would be saved. — This occurrence, consequently, falls within 
a later period than that mentioned in chap. xxi. — Ver. 6. Then 
came the word of the Lord to this effect : Ver. 7. u Thus saith 
Jahveh, the God of Israel : Thus shall ye say to the king of 
Judah who hath sent you to me to ask at me, Behold, the 
army of Pharaoh, which marched out to your help, will return 
to Egypt, their own land. Ver. 8. And the Chaldeans shall 
return and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with 
fire. Ver. 9. Thus saith Jahveh : Do not deceive yourselves 
by thinking, The Chaldeans will quite withdraw from us ; for 
they will not withdraw. Ver. 10. For, even though ye had 
beaten the whole army of the Chaldeans who are fighting with 
you, and there remained of them only some who had been 
pierced through and through, yet they would rise up, every man 
in his tent, and burn this city with fire." In order to cut off 
every hope, the prophet announces that the Egyptians will 
bring no help, but withdraw to their own land before the 
Chaldeans who went out to meet them, without having accom- 
plished their object ; but then the Chaldeans will return, con- 
tinue the siege, take the city and burn it. To assure them of 
this, he adds : " Ye must not deceive yourselves with the vain 
hope that the Chaldeans may possibly be defeated and driven 
back by the Egyptians. The destruction of Jerusalem is so 
certain that, even supposing you were actually to defeat and 
repulse the Chaldeans, and only some few grievously wounded 
ones remained in the tents, these would rise up and burn the 
city." In w). ?p?n the inf. abs. is to be observed, as strengthen- 
ing the idea contained in the verb : " to depart wholly or com- 
pletely ; " *£n is here to " depart, withdraw." D^JK in contrast 
with 7\n are separate individuals. "^P, pierced through by 
sword or lance, i.e. grievously, mortally wounded. 

Vers. 11-15. The imprisonment of Jeremiah. — During the 
time when the Chaldeans, on account of the advancing army 


of Pharaoh, had withdrawn from Jerusalem and raised the 
siege, " Jeremiah went out of the city to go to the land of 
Benjamin, in order to bring thence his portion among the 
people." rvrrij jn accordance with later usage, for Wj as in 
Hi. 9 ; cf. Ewald, § 345, b. D#p PpD? is explained in various 
ways. \hn? for PyHnp can scarcely have any other meaning 
than to share, receive a share ; and in connection with B$p, 
" to receive a portion thence," not, to receive an inheritance 
(Syr., Chald., Vulg.), for DTO does not suit this meaning. The 
LXX. render rod dyopdacu itceWev, which Theodoret explains 
by irpiaadai apTovs. All other explanations have still less in 
their favour. We must connect Dl?n *pna with 'M Tab? since 

, tt I : VVT? 

it is unsuitable for UfD Ppnp. — Ver. 13. When he was entering 
the gate of Benjamin, where Jeriah the son of Shelemiah kept 
watch, the latter seized him, saying, " Thou desirest to go over 
to the Chaldeans" ("vN ?23, see on xxi. 9). The gate of Benja- 
min (xxxviii. 7 ; Zech. xiv. 10) was the north gate of the city, 
through which ran the road to Benjamin and Ephraim ; hence . 
it was also called the gate of Ephraim, 2 Kings xiv. 13, Neh. 
viii. 16. fllpa -'J'?, " holder of the oversight," He who kept the 
watch, or commander of the watch at the gate. " The accu- 
sation was founded on the well-known views and opinions of 
Jeremiah (xxi. 9) ; but it was mere sophistry, for the simple 
reason that the Chaldeans were no longer lying before the city" 
(Hitzig). — Ver. 14. Jeremiah replied: " A lie [= not true; 
cf. 2 Kings ix. 12] ; I am not going over to the Chaldeans. 
But he gave no heed to him ; so Jeriah seized Jeremiah, and 
brought him to the princes. Ver. 15. And the princes were 
angry against Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison, 
in the house of Jonathan the scribe ; for they had made it the 
prison," — probably because it contained apartments suitable for 
the purpose. From ver. 16 we perceive that they were sub- 
terranean prisons and vaults into which the prisoners were 
thrust ; and from ver. 28 and xxxviii. 26, it is clear that Jere- 
miah was in a confinement much more severe and dangerous to 
his life. There he sat many days, i.e. a pretty long time. 

Vers. 16-21. Examination of the prophet by the king, and 
alleviation of his confinement. — Ver. 16 rT. " When Jeremiah 
had got into the dungeon and into the vaults, and had sat there 

CHAP. XXXVII 16-21. 107 

many days, then Zedekiah the king sent and fetched him, and 
questioned him in his own house (palace) secretly," etc. Ver. 
1G is by most interpreters joined with the foregoing, but the 
words N3 *3 do not properly permit of this. For if we take 
the verse as a further confirmation of &~\\yT} 'isyp'l, " the princes 
vented their wrath on Jeremiah, beat him," etc., " for Jeremiah 
came . . .," then it must be acknowledged that the account 
would be very long and lumbering. N2 *3 is too widely sepa- 
rated from *B¥i?V Hence the LXX. have teal tfXdov, — some 
codices, indeed, on rfkOov ; and Ewald, Hitzig, and Graf 
would change Nn '3 into ^3*5. But the passages, 1 Sam. ii. 21, 
where IpS *3 is supposed to stand for *$&% and Isa. xxxix. 1, 
where JJOK>^ is thought to have arisen out of VVV *3, 2 Kings 
xx. 12, are not very strong proofs, since there, as here, no error 
in writing is marked. The Vulgate has itaque ingressus ; many 
therefore would change ^ into |3 ; but this also is quite arbi- 
trary. Accordingly, with Rosenmiiller, we connect ver. 16 with 
the following, and take ^ as a temporal particle ; in this, the 
most we miss is ) copulative, or W. In the preceding sentence 
the prison of the prophet is somewhat minutely described, in 
order to prepare us for the request that follows in ver. 20. 
Jeremiah was in a liSTVa, " house of a pit," cf. Ex. xii. 29, 
i.e. a subterranean prison, and in ritann. This word only 
occurs here : but in the kindred dialects it means vaults, stalls, 

7 7 

shops ; hence it possibly signifies here subterranean prison- 
cells, so that ntann"7NI more exactly determines what "lurrrra 
is. This meaning of the word is, at any rate, more certain 
than that given by Eb. Scheid in Rosenmuller, who renders 
nvjn by Jiexa, curvata ; then, supplying ligna, he thinks of the 
stocks to which the prisoners were fastened. — The king ques- 
tioned him IAS?, " in secret," namely, through fear of his 
ministers and court-officers, who were prejudiced against the 
prophet, perhaps also in the hope of receiving in a private 
interview a message from God of more favourable import. To 
the question of the king, " Is there any word from Jahveh?" 
Jeremiah replies in the affirmative ; but the word of God is 
this, " Thou shalt be given into the hand of the king of Baby- 
lon," just as Jeremiah had previously announced to him ; cf. 
xxxii. 4, xxxiv. 3. — Jeremiah took this opportunity of complain- 


ing about his imprisonment, saying, ver. 18, " In what have I 
sinned against thee, or against thy servants, or against this 
people, that ye have put me in prison ? Ver. 19. And where 
are your prophets, who prophesied to you, The king of Babylon 
shall not come against you, nor- against this land 1 ?" Jeremiah 
appeals to his perfect innocence (ver. 18), and to the confirma- 
tion of his prediction by its event. The interview with the 
king took place when the Chaldeans, after driving the Egyptians 
out of the country, had recommenced the siege of Jerusalem, 
and, as is evident from ver. 21, were pressing the city very 
hard. The Kethib VK is to be read i'N, formed from n s x with 
the suffix i ; the idea of the suffix has gradually become ob- 
scured, so that it stands here before a noun in the plural. The 
Qeri requires n»K. The question, Where are your prophets? 
means, Let these prophets come forward and vindicate their 
lying prophecies. Not what these men had prophesied, but 
what Jeremiah had declared had come to pass ; his imprison- 
ment, accordingly, was unjust. — Besides thus appealing to his 
innocence, Jeremiah, ver. 20, entreats the king, " Let my 
supplication come before thee, and do not send me back into 
the house of Jonathan the scribe, that I may not die there." 
For 'fl W"?sri see on xxxvi. 7. The king granted this request. 
" He commanded, and they put Jeremiah into the court of the 
watch [of the royal palace, see on xxxii. 2], and gave him a 
loaf of bread daily out of the bakers' street, till all the bread 
in the city was consumed ;" cf. lii. 6. The king did not give 
him his liberty, because Jeremiah held to his views, that were 
so distasteful to the king (see on xxxii. 3). " So Jeremiah 
remained in the court of the guard." 

Chap, xxxviii. Jeremiah in the Miry Pit. Last Interview with 

the King. 

In this chapter two events are mentioned which took place 
in the last period of the siege of Jerusalem, shortly before the 
capture of the city by the Chaldeans. According to ver. 4, the 
number of fighting men had now very much decreased ; and 
according to ver. 19, the number of deserters to the Chaldeans 
had become large. Moreover, according to ver. 9, famine had 
already begun to prevail ; this hastened the fall of the city. 

CHAP. XXXVIII. 1-13. 109 

Vers. 1-13. Jeremiah is cast into a miry pit, but drawn out 
again by Ebedmelech the Cushite. Vers. 1-6. Being confined 
in the court of the guard attached to the royal palace, Jeremiah 
had opportunities of conversing with the soldiers stationed there 
and the people of Judah who came thither (cf. ver. 1 with 
xxxii. 8, 12), and of declaring, in opposition to them, his con- 
viction (which he had indeed expressed from the beginning of 
the siege) that all resistance to the Chaldeans would be fruit- 
less, and only bring destruction (cf. xxi. 9 f.). On this account, 
the princes who were of a hostile disposition towards him were 
so embittered, that they resolved on his death, and obtain from 
the king permission to cast him into a deep pit with mire at 
the bottom. In ver. 1 four of these princes are named, two of 
whom, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Mal- 
chiah, are known, from xxxvii. 3 and xxi. 1, as confidants of 
the king ; the other two, Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and 
Gedaliah the son of Pashur, are not mentioned elsewhere. 
Gedaliah was probably a son of the Pashur who had once put 
Jeremiah in the stocks (xx. 1, 2). The words of the prophet, 
vers. 2, 3, are substantially the same as he had already uttered 
at the beginning of the siege, xxi. 9 (WW as in xxi. 9). Ver. 4. 
The princes said to the king, " Let this man, we beseech thee, 
be put to death [for the construction, see on xxxv. 14] ; for 
therefore [i.e. because no one puts him out of existence, — |3"^y 
as in xxix. 28] he weakens the hands of the men of war who 
remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking 
words like these to them ; for this man does not seek the wel- 
fare of this people, but their ill." KaniO for hanD, to cause the 
hands of any one to be relaxed, i.e. to make him dispirited ; 
cf. Ezra iv. 4, Isa. xxxv. 3. En*} with ^, as Job x. 6, Deut. xii. 
30, 1 Chron. xxii. 19, etc., elsewhere with the accusatival rix ; 
cf. xxix. 7 et passim. On this point cf. xxix. 7. The allega- 
tion which the princes made against Jeremiah was possibly 
correct. The constancy with which Jeremiah declared that 
resistance was useless, since, in accordance with the divine 
decree, Jerusalem was to be taken and burnt by the Chaldeans, 
could not but make the soldiers and the people unwilling any 
longer to sacrifice their lives in defending the city. Neverthe- 
less the complaint was unjust, because Jeremiah was not ex- 


pressing his own personal opinion, but was declaring the word 
of the Lord, and that, too, not from any want of patriotism or 
through personal cowardice, but in the conviction, derived from 
the divine revelation, that it was only by voluntary submission 
that the fate of the besieged could be mitigated ; hence he 
acted from a deep feeling of love to the people, and in order 
to avert complete destruction from them. The courage of the 
people which he sought to weaken was not a heroic courage 
founded on genuine trust in God, but carnal obstinacy, which 
could not but lead to ruin. — Ver. 5. The king said, " Behold, 
he is in your hand, for the king can do nothing alongside of 
you." This reply indicates not merely the weakness and power- 
lessness of the king against his princes, but also his inward 
aversion to the testimony of the man of God. " That he would 
like to save him, just as he afterwards does (ver. 10)," is not 
implied in what he says, with which he delivers up the prophet 
to the spite of his enemies. Though the princes had at once 
put Jeremiah to death, the king would not even have been able 
to reproach them. The want of courage vigorously to oppose 
the demand of the princes did not spring from any kindly 
feeling towards the prophet, but partly from moral weakness of 
character, partly from inward repugnance to the word of God 
proclaimed by Jeremiah. On the construction 23V px instead 
of the participle from ?13*, which does not occur, cf. Ewald, 
§ 321, a. D3HN is certainly in form an accusative ; but it can- 
not be such, since "i^ follows as the accusative : it is therefore 

/ T T « 

either to be pointed COTX or to be considered as standing for 
it, just as ^nix often occurs for ^IflX, " with," i.e. " along with 
you." — Ver. 6. The princes (E^) now cast Jeremiah into the 
pit of the king's son (3?0"J3, see on xxxvi. 26) Malchiah, which 
was in the court of the prison, letting him down with ropes into 
the pit, in which there was no water, but mud ; into this Jere- 
miah sank. The act is first mentioned in a general way in the 
words, " they cast him into the pit ;" then the mode of pro- 
ceeding is particularized in the words, "and they let -him 
down," etc. On the expression ^'370 "n^n, " the pit of Mal- 
chiah," cf. Ewald, § 290, d : the article stands here before the 
nomen regens, because the nornen rectum, from being a proper 
name, cannot take it ; and yet the pit must be pointed out as 

CHAP. XXXVIII. 1-13. Ill 

one well known and definite. That it was very deep, and that 
Jeremiah must have perished in it if he were not soon taken 
out again, is evident from the very fact that they were obliged 
to use ropes in letting him down, and still more so from the 
trouble caused in pulling him out (vers. 10-12). That the 
princes did not at once put the prophet to death with the sword 
was not owing to any feeling of respect for the king, because the 
latter had not pronounced sentence of death on him, but because 
they sought to put the prophet to a painful death, and yet at the 
same time wished to silence the voice of conscience with the 
excuse that they had not shed his blood. — Vers. 7-13. The 
deliverance of Jeremiah. Ebedmelech the Cushite, a eunuch, 
heard of what had happened to Jeremiah. D'np B*K signifies a 
eunuch : the B^X shows that DnD is here to be taken in its 
proper meaning, not in the metaphorical sense of an officer of 
the court. Since the king had many wives (ver.' 22 f.), the 
presence of a eunuch at the court, as overseer of the harem, 
cannot seem strange. The law of Moses, indeed, prohibited 
castration (Deut. xxiii. 2) ; but the man was a foreigner, and 
had been taken by the king into his service as one castrated, "ny 
^TO is a proper name (otherwise it must have been written *\7®\!) ; 
the name is a genuine Hebrew one, and probably may have 
been assumed when the man entered the service of Zedekiah. — 
On hearing of what had occurred, the Ethiopian went to the 
king, who was sitting in the gate of Benjamin, on the north 
wall of the city, which was probably the point most threatened 
by the besiegers, and said to him, Ver. 9, " My lord, O king, 
these men have acted wickedly in all that they have done to 
Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the pit ; and 
he is dying of hunger on the spot, for there is no more bread 
in the city." ^y "IB/KTIK Win, lit. : " they have done wickedly 
what they have done." n»»l cannot be translated, " and he died 
on the spot," for Ebedmelech wishes to save him before he dies 
of hunger. But neither does it stand for rib , l, " so that he 
must die." The imperfect with Vav consecutive expresses the 
consequence of a preceding act, and usually stands in the nar- 
rative as a historic tense ; but it may also declare what neces- 
sarily follows or will follow from what precedes ; cf. Ewald, 
§ 342, a. Thus nop stands here in the sense, " and so he is 


dying," i.e. " he must die of hunger." VTinri, " on his spot," 
i.e. on the place where he is ; cf. 2 Sam. ii. 23. The reason, 
" for there is no longer any bread (Bn?n with the article, the 
necessary bread) in the city," is not to be taken in the exact 
sense of the words, but merely expresses the greatest deficiency 
in provisions. As long as Jeremiah was in the court of the 
prison, he received, like the officers of the court, at the king's 
order, his ration of bread every day (xxxvii. 21). But after 
he had been cast into the pit, that royal ordinance no longer 
applied to him, so that he was given over to the tender mercies 
of others, from whom, in the prevailing scarcity of bread, he 
had not much to hope for. — Ver. 10. Then the king com- 
manded the Ethiopian, " Take hence thirty men in thine hand, 
and bring up Jeremiah out of the pit before he dies." TV?, 
" in thine hand," i.e. under your direction ; cf. Num. xxxi. 49. 
The number thirty has been found too great ; and Ewald, 
Hitzig, and Graf would read HEW, because the syntax requires 
the singular B"K after C^a^ and because at that time, when 
the fighting men had already decreased in number (ver. 4), 
thirty men could not be sent away from a post in danger with- 
out difficulty. These two arguments are quite invalid. The 
syntax does not demand E^S ; for with the tens (20-90) the 
noun frequently follows in the plural as well as in the singular, 
if the number precede ; cf. 2 Sam. iii. 20, 2 Kings ii. 16, etc. ; 
see also Gesenius' Grammar, § 120, 2. The other argument is 
based on arbitrary hypotheses ; for the passage neither speaks of 
fighting men, nor states that they would be taken from a post 
in danger. Ebedmelech was to take thirty men, not because 
they would all be required for drawing out the prophet, but for 
making surer work in effecting the deliverance of the prophet, 
against all possible attempts on the part of the princes or of the 
populace to prevent them. — Ver. 11. Ebedmelech took the men 
at his hand, w r ent into the king's house under the treasury, and 
took thence rags of torn and of worn-out garments, and let 
them down on ropes to Jeremiah into the pit, and said to him, 
" Put, I pray thee, the rags of the torn and cast-off clothes 
under thine arm-pits under the ropes." Jeremiah did so, and 
then they drew him out of the pit by the ropes. "NfiKn nnn is 
a room under the treasury. $3, in ver. 12 DWpa, from rfc. 

CHAP. XXXVIII. 14-28. 113 

to be worn away (of clothes), are rags. HSlHD (from 3HD, to drng, 
drao- about, tear to pieces) are torn pieces of clothing. E^/P, 
worn-out garments, from n?S, in Niphal, Isa. li. 6, to vanish, 
dissolve away. The article at niantsn is expunged from the 
Qeri for sake of uniformity, because it is not found with D^nta ; 
but it may as well be allowed to stand as be removed. rriWx 
D^T, properly the roots of the hands, are not the knuckles of 
the hand, but the shoulders of the arms. Dy^n? Anno, under 
the ropes ; i.e. the rags were to serve as pads to the ropes which 
were to be placed under the arm-pits, to prevent the ropes from 
cutting the flesh. When Jeremiah had been drawn out in this 
way from the deep pit of mire, he remained in the court of the 

Vers. 14-28. Conversation between the king and the prophet. — 
Ver. 14. Kino; Zedekiah was desirous of once more hearing; 
a message of God from the prophet, and for this object had 
him brought into the third .entrance in the house of the Lord. 
Nothing further is known about the situation and the nature of 
this entrance ; possibly it led from the palace to the temple, and 
seems to have been an enclosed space, for the king could carry 
on a private conversation there with the prophet. The king 
said to him, " I ask you about a matter, do not conceal anything 
from me." He meant a message from God regarding the final 
issue of the siege, cf. xxxvii. 7. Jeremiah, knowing the aver- 
sion of the king to the truth, replies, ver. 15: "If I tell thee 
[sc. the word of the Lord], wilt thou not assuredly kill me? 
And if I were to give thee advice, thou wouldst not listen to 
me." Ver. 16. Then the king sware to him secretly, "As 
Jahveh liveth, who hath made us this soul, I shall certainly not 
kill thee, nor deliver thee into the hand of these men who seek 
thy life." "it?*? nx, as in xxvii. 8, properly means, "with regard 
to Him who has created us." The Qeri expunges flfc*. "These 
men" are the princes mentioned in ver. 1. — Ver. 17 f. After 
this solemn asseveration of the king, Jeremiah said to him, 
" Thus saith Jahveh, the God of hosts, the God of Israel : If 
thou wilt assuredly go out to the princes of the king of Babylon 
[i.e. wilt surrender thyself to them, cf. 2 Kings xviii. 31, xxiv. 
12], then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned 
with fire, and thou and thy house shall live. But if thou dost 



not go out to the princes of the king of Babylon, then this city 
will be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall 
burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand." 
The word of God is the same that Jeremiah had already re- 
peatedly announced to the king, cf. xxxiv. 2-5, xxxii. 4, xxi. 
4-10. The princes (chiefs, generals) of the king of Babylon 
are named, because they commanded the besieging army (xxxix. 
3, 13) ; Nebuchadnezzar himself had his headquarters at Riblah, 
xxxix. 5. — Ver. 19 ff. Against the advice that he should save 
his life by surrendering to the Chaldeans, Zedekiah suggests the 
consideration, "I am afraid of the Jews, who have deserted 
px ?D3 as in xxxvii. 13] to the Chaldeans, lest they give me 
into their hands and maltreat me." 2 ^ J ?'?, illudere alicui, to 
abuse any one by mockery or ill-treatment ; cf . Num. xxii. 29, 
1 Chron. x. 4, etc. Jeremiah replies, ver. 20 f., "They will 
not give thee up. Yet, pray, listen to the voice of Jahveh, in 
that which I say to thee, that it may be well with thee, and 
that thy soul may live. Ver. 21. But if thou dost refuse to 
go out [i.e. to surrender thyself to the Chaldeans], this is the 
word which the Lord hath shown me [has revealed to me] : 
Ver. 22. Behold, all the women that are left in the house of the 
king of Judah shall be brought out to the princes of the king of 
Babylon, and those [women] shall say, Thy friends have misled 
thee and have overcome thee ; thy feet are sunk in the mud, 
they have turned away back. Ver. 23. And all thy wives and 
thy children shall they bring out to the Chaldeans, and thou 
shalt not escape out of their hand ; for thou shalt be seized by 
the hand of the king of Babylon, and thou shalt burn this city 
with fire." — After Jeremiah had once more assured the king 
that he would save his life by voluntary surrender, he announces 
to him that, on the other alternative, instead of his becoming 
the sport of the deserters, the women of his harem would be 
insulted. The women who remain in the king's house, as 
distinguished from "thy wives" (ver. 23), are the women of 
the royal harem, the wives of former kings, who remain in the 
harem as the concubines of the reigning king. These are to 
be brought out to the generals of the Chaldean king, and to 
sing a satire on him, to this effect : " Thy friends have misled 
thee, and overpowered thee," etc. The first sentence of this 

CHAP. XXXVIII. 14-28. 115 

song is from Obad. ver. 7, where *flH*Bfrl stands instead of "^irT'Ein. 
The friends (1®?® ^*?, cf. xx. 10) are his great men and his 
false prophets. Through their counsels, these have led him 
astray, and brought him into a bog, in which his feet stick fast, 
and then they have gone back ; i.e. instead of helping him out, 
they have deserted him, leaving him sticking in the bog. The 
expression is figurative, and the meaning of the figure is plain 
(y.Fl is plural). )% air. A^y., is equivalent to ni*^ a bog, Job viii. 
11. Moreover, the wives and children of Zedekiah are to fall into 
the hands of the Chaldeans. CXVift, the participle, is used instead 
of the finite tense to express the notion of indefinite personality : 
" they bring them out." T3 Wsnn, properly, " to be seized in 
the hand," is a pregnant construction for, " to fall into the 
hand and be held fast by it." "Thou shalt burn this city," 
i.e. bring the blame of burning it upon thyself. Ewald, Hitzig, 
and Graf, following the LXX., Syr., and Chald., would change 
sfMMI into *nfrfi, but needlessly.— Vers. 24-27. From the king's 
weakness of character, and his dependence on his evil counsellors, 
neither could this interview have any result. Partly from want 
of firmness, but chiefly from fear of the reproaches of his 
princes, he did not venture to surrender himself and the city to 
the Chaldeans. Hence he did not wish that his interview with 
the prophet should be known, partly for the purpose of sparing 
himself reproaches from the princes, partly also, perhaps, not 
to expose the prophet to further persecutions on the part of the 
great men. Accordingly, he dismissed Jeremiah with this instruc- 
tion : " Let no man know of these words, lest thou die." But 
if the princes should learn that the king had been speaking with 
him, and asked him, " Tell us, now, what thou hast said to the 
king, do not hide it from us, and we will not kill thee ; and 
what did the king say to thee ? " then he was to say to them, 
" I presented my supplication before the king, that he would 
not send me back to the house of Jonathan, to die there." As 
to the house of Jonathan, see on xxxvii. 15. On Niunn T'SO 

7 • t • : * ■ 

cf. xxxvi. 7, xxxvii. 20. — Vers. 27, 28. What the king had 
supposed actually occurred, and Jeremiah gave the princes, who 
asked about the conversation, the reply that the king had pre- 
pared for him. IDBB WHTP, they went away in silence from him, 
and left him in peace ; cf. 1 Sam. vii. 8. "OW J»f? »6 % for 


the matter, the real subject of the conversation did not become 
known. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison till 
the day of the capture of Jerusalem. — The last sentence of 
ver. 28 belongs to the following chapter, and forms the intro- 
ductory sentence of the passage whose conclusion follows in 
xxxix. 3. 

Chap, xxxix. Capture of Jerusalem ; Fate of Zedekiah and 
Jeremiah. Consolatory Message to Ebedmelech. 

In vers. 1-14 the events which took place at the taking of 
Jerusalem are summarily related, for the purpose of showing 
how the announcements of Jeremiah the prophet have been 
fulfilled. 1 

Vers. 1-3. "And it came to pass, when Jerusalem had been 
taken (in the ninth year of Zedekiah the king of Judah, in 

1 The greater portion of the section vers. 1-14 is set down by Movers, 
Hitzig, Ewald, and Graf as the interpolation of a later glosser, compiled 
either out of chap. Hi. 4-16, or from 2 Kings xxv. Vers. 3, 11, 12, and 14 
are supposed by Hitzig to be all that are genuine, on the ground that these 
are the only portions containing independent statements, not derived from 
any other source. They treat simply of the person of the prophet, and 
state how, at the command of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan, the captain 
of the body-guard, brought Jeremiah out of the court of the prison and 
delivered him over to the care of Gedaliah. If we gather together the 
verses that are left as genuine, we find, of course, that the subject treated 
of in them is what occurred when Jeremiah was liberated from his con- 
finement in the court of the prison. But neither is the difference between 
ver. 14 and chap. xl. 1 ff. thereby settled, nor the difficulty removed, that 
Nebuzaradan, the captain of the body-guard, was not present with the 
army when Jerusalem was taken ; according to lii. 12, it was not till a 
month after that event that he was sent to Jerusalem from Eiblah by the 
king, who was staying there. Vers. 11 and 12, too, retain the appearance 
of being interpolations. Ewald and Graf, accordingly, consider these two 
verses also as later insertions. But even this view does not settle the 
differences and difficulties that have been raised, but only increases them ; 
for it would represent Jeremiah as being set at liberty, not by Nebuzaradan, 
as is related xl. 1 ff., but by the Chaldean generals named in ver. 3. — 
When, however, we inquire into the grounds taken as the foundation of 
this hypothesis, the fact that the LXX. have omitted vers. 4, 10, and 13 
can prove nothing, since vers. 1 and 2 are found in the LXX., although 
these also are supposed to be spurious. The only argument adduced for 
the attempted excision, viz. that vers. 1, 2, 4-10 break the connection, 
proves absolutely nothing in itself, but merely receives importance on the 

CHAP. XXXIX. 1-3. 117 

the tenth month, Nebuchadrezzar and all his army had come 
against Jerusalem and besieged it ; in the eleventh year of 
Zedekiah, in the fourth month, on the ninth of the month, was 
the city broken into), then came all the princes of the king of 
Babylon and sat down at the middle gate, — Nergal-sharezer, 
Samgar-nebo, Sarsechim, chief chamberlain, Nergal-sharezer, 
chief magician, and all the rest of the princes of the king of 
Babylon." These three verses, to which the last clause of 
chap, xxxviii. 28 belongs, form one period, broken up by a 
pretty long piece inserted in it, on the beginning and duration 
of the siege of Jerusalem ; so that, after the introductory clause 
1BW3 irni (=VP1 as in xxxvii. 11), chap, xxxviii. 28, the conclu- 
sion does not come till the word ^2*5, ver. 3. In the parenthesis, 
the length of the siege, as stated, substantially agrees with 
lii. 4-7a and 2 Kings xxv. l-4a, only that in these passages 

supposition that the present section could only treat of the liberation of 
Jeremiah, and must contain nothing that is mentioned elsewhere regarding 
the taking of Jerusalem. But this supposition is quite unwarranted. 
That vers. 1 and 2 are inserted parenthetically cannot afford any ground of 
suspicion as regards their genuineness ; and that, in vers. 4-10, mention is 
briefly made of Zedekiah's being seized and condemned, of the destruction 
of Jerusalem, and the carrying away of the people, except the very meanest, 
— this also cannot throw suspicion on the genuineness of these verses ; for 
these statements obviously aim at showing how the word of the Lord, which 
Jeremiah had proclaimed repeatedly, and once more a short time before 
the storming of the city, had been fulfilled. Finally, it follows from this 
that these statements agree with those given in chap. lii. and in 2 Kings 
xxv. regarding the capture and destruction of Jerusalem ; but it does not 
follow that they have been derived from the latter as their source. The 
language in the disputed verses is peculiarly that of Jeremiah. The ex- 
pression rnirP 'Hh~i>3 is found in Jer. xxvii. 20 ; while in lii. 10, instead 

t : t 

of it, we find mirT 1 "nt'' - ^, and in 2 Kings xxv. the whole sentence is 

t ; •• t t 

wanting. So, also, D^DQ^'O "IS 5 !, ver. 5 and lii. 9, is an expression peculiar 
to Jeremiah (see on i. 16) ; in 2 Kings xxv. 6 it is changed to EQE>'o 131. 

t ; * v • 

Thus we must set down as groundless and erroneous the allegation made 
by Hitzig and Graf, that these verses of our chapter have been derived from 
2 Kings xxv. ; for the form of the name Nebuchadnezzar (with 71) in ver. 5 
instead of Nebuchadrezzar, which agrees with 2 Kings xxv., and which has 
been brought to bear on this question, can prove nothing, just because 
not only in ver. 11 but also in ver. 1 (which also is said to be taken from 
2 Kings xxv.) we find Nebuchadrezzar. 


the time when the siege began is further determined by the 
mention of the day of the month, BhH? I^JD, which words are 
omitted here. The siege, then, lasted eighteen months, all but 
one day. After the besiegers had penetrated into the city 
through the breaches made in the wall, the princes, i.e. the 
chief generals, took up their position at " the gate of the midst." 
ttB^, " they sat down," i.e. took up a position, fixed their quarters. 
" The gate of the midst," which is mentioned only in this passage, 
is supposed, and perhaps rightly, to have been a gate in the 
wall which divided the city of Zion from the lower city ; from 
this point, the two portions of the city, the upper and the lower 
city, could most easily be commanded. — With regard to the 
names of the Babylonian princes, it is remarkable (1) that the 
name Nergal-sharezer occurs twice, the first time without any 
designation, the second time with the official title of chief magi- 
cian ; (2) that the name Samgar-nebo has the name of God (Nebo 
or Nebu) in the second half, whereas in all other compounds of 
this kind that are known to us, Nebu forms the first portion of 
the name, as in Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan, Nebushasban 
(ver. 13), Naboned, Nabonassar, Nabopolassar, etc. ; (3) from 
this name, too, is omitted the title of office, while we find one 
with the following name. Moreover (4) in ver. 13, where the 
Babylonian grandees are again spoken of, instead of the four 
names, only three are given, but every one of them with a title 
of office; and only the third of these, Nergal-sharezer, the 
chief magician, is identical with the one who is named last in 
ver. 3 ; while Nebushasban is mentioned instead of the Sarsechim 
of ver. 3 as Dncrm, chief of the eunuchs (high chamberlain) ; 
and in place of Nergal-sharezer, Samgar-nebo, we find Nebuzar- 
adan as the commander of the body-guards (Cnao Xi). On 
these four grounds, Hitzig infers that ver. 3, in the passage 
before us, has been corrupted, and that it contained originally 
only the names of three persons, with their official titles. More- 
over, he supposes that 120D is formed from the Persian *U- 
and the derivation-syllable .£b, Pers.j^, and means "he who 

has or holds the cup," the cup-bearer ; thus corresponding to 
Hj?^ 11, Kab-shakeh, " chief cup-bearer," 2 Kings xviii. 17, 
Isa. xxxvi. 2. He also considers Events' a Hebraizing form of 

CHAP. XXXIX. 1-3. 119 

D"np 3"l ; ii3D or nafe^ « to cut," by transposition from HVn, Arab. 
-2>., from which comes [ m < as >~ i "a eunuch," = '3D, plur. B^D; 

hence Q ,| 3D"i^ = Dnp rn, of which the former has been a marginal 
gloss, afterwards received into the text. This complicated 
combination, however, by which Hitzig certainly makes out 
two official titles, though he retains no more than the divine 
name Nebu as that of Rabsaris, is founded upon two very 
hazardous conjectures. Nor do these conjectures gain much 
support from the renewal of the attempt, made about fifty years 
since by the late P. von Bohlen, to explain from the Neo-Persian 
the names of persons and titles occurring in the Assyrian and 
Old-Babylonian languages, an attempt which has long since been 
looked upon as scientifically unwarranted. Strange as it may 
seem that the two persons first named are not further specified 
by the addition of an official title, yet the supposition that the 
persons named in ver. 3 are identical with those mentioned in 
ver. 13 is erroneous, since it stands in contradiction with Hi. 12, 
which even Hitzig recognises as historically reliable. Accord- 
ing to lii. 12, Nebuzaradan, who is the first mentioned in ver 
13, was not present at the taking of Jerusalem, and did not 
reach the city till four weeks afterwards ; he was ordered by 
Nebuchadnezzar to superintend arrangements for the destruction 
of Jerusalem, and also to make arrangements for the transpor- 
tation of the captives to Babylon, and for the administration of 
the country now being laid waste. But in ver. 3 are named 
the generals who, when the city had been taken by storm, took 
up their position within it. — Nor do the other difficulties, 
mentioned above, compel us to make such harsh conjectures. 
If Nergal-sharezer be the name of a person, compounded of 
two words, the divine name, Nergal (2 Kings xvii. 30), and 
Sharezer, probably dominator tuebitur (see Delitzsch on Isa. 
xxxvii. 38), then Samgar-Nebu-Sarsechim may possibly be a 
proper name compounded of three words. So long as we are 
unable with certainty to explain the words 13DD and D H 3Cnfe> out 
of the Assyrian, we can form no decisive judgment regarding 
them. But not even does the hypothesis of Hitzig account for 
the occurrence twice over of the name Nergal-sharezer. The 
Nergal-sharezer mentioned in the first passage was, no doubt, 


the commander-in-chief of the besieging army; but it could 
hardly be maintained, with anything like convincing power, 
that this officer could not bear the same name as that of the 
chief magician. And if it be conceded that there are really 
errors in the strange words to3""l310p and B^p"}^, we are as yet 
without the necessary means of correcting them, and obtaining 
the proper text. 

In vers. 4-7 are narrated the flight of Zedekiah, his capture, 
and his condemnation, like what we find in Hi. 7-11 and 2 
Kings xxv. 4-7. "When Zedekiah the king of Judah and all 
the men of war saw them (the Chaldean generals who had taken 
up their position at the mid-gate), they fled by night out of the 
city, by the way of the king's garden, by a gate between the 
walls, and he went out by the way to the Arabah. Ver. 5. 
But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after them, and over- 
took Zedekiah in the steppes of Jericho, and captured him, and 
brought him to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, to Kiblah, 
in the land of Hamath ; and he pronounced judgment on him." 
Hitzig and Graf consider that the connection of these events, 
made by BN"J "^*?, is awkward, and say that the king would 
not have waited till the Chaldean generals took up their position 
at the mid-gate, nor could he see these in the night-time ; that, 
moreover, he would hardly have waited till the city was taken 
before he fled. These objections are utterly worthless. If the 
city of Zion, in which the royal palace stood, was separated 
from the lower city by a wall, then the king might still be 
quite at ease, with his men of war, in the upper city or city of 
Zion, so long as the enemy, who were pushing into the lower 
city from the north, remained at the separating wall, near the 
middle gate in it ; and only when he saw that the city of Zion, 
too, could no longer be held, did he need to betake himself to flight 
with the men of war around him. In actual fact, then, he 
mio-ht have been able to see the Chaldean generals with his own 
eyes, although we need not press QX"J so much as to extract this 
meaning from it. Even at this juncture, flight was still possible 
through the south gate, at the king's garden, between the two 
walls. Thenius, on 2 Kings xxv. 4, takes DTibh to mean a 
double wall, which at the southern end of Ophel closed up the 
ravine between Ophel and Zion. But a double wall must also 

CHAP. XXXIX. 4-7. 121 

have had two gates, and Thenius, indeed, has exhibited them in 
his plan of Jerusalem ; but the text speaks of but one gate 
(W). " The two walls" are rather the walls which ran along 
the eastern border of Zion and the western border of Ophel. 
The gate between these was situated in the wall which ran 
across the Tyropcean valley, and united the wall of Zion and 
that of Ophel ; it was called the horse-gate (Neh. iii. 28), and 
occupied the position of the modern " dung-gate " {Bab-el 
MoghdribeK) ; see on Neh. iii. 27, 28. It was not the "gate of 
the fountain," as Thenius (Buclier der Kon. S. 456), Nagelsbach, 
and others imagine, founding on the supposed existence of the 
double wall at the south end of Ophel. Outside this gate, where 
the valley of the Tyropceon joined with the valley of the Kidron, 
lay the king's garden, in the vicinity of the pool of Siloam; see on 
Neh. iii. 15. The words '\X\ N>'.^ introduce further details as to 
the king's flight. In spite of the preceding plurals IX^'I V"]3*5, 
the sing. N^. is quite suitable here, since the narrator wishes to 
give further details with regard to the flight of the king alone, 
without bringing into consideration the warriors who fled along 

CO o 

with him. Nor does the folio win s, DiTnns militate against this 
view ; for the Chaldean warriors pursued the king and his fol- 
lowers, not to capture these followers, but the king. Escaped 
from the city, the king took the direction of the ^Xty^ the plain 
of the Jordan, in order to escape over Jordan to Gilead. But the 
pursuing enemy overtook him in the steppes of Jericho (see on 
Josh. iv. 13, pp. 50, 51 of Clark's Translation), and thus before 
he had crossed the Jordan ; they led him, bound, to Eiblah, 
before the king of Babylon. " Riblah in the land of Hainath " 
is still called Ribleh, a wretched village about 20 miles S.S.W. 
from Hums (Emesa) on the river el Ahsy (Orontes), in a large 
fertile plain in the northern portion of the Bekda, on the great 
caravan-track which passes from Palestine through Damascus, 
Emesa, and Hamath to Thapsacus and Carchemish on the 
Euphrates ; see Robinson's Bill. Res. iii. 545, and on 2 Kings 
xxiii. 33 (vol. ii. p. 160 of Clark's Translation).— On Wl 
tPtpBtPOj to speak judgment, pronounce sentence of punishment, 
see on i. 16. Nebuchadnezzar caused the sons of Zedekiah 
and all the princes of Judah (p^'n, nobles, lords, as in xxvii. 30) 
to be slain before the eyes of the Jewish king; then he put out 


his eyes and bound him with brazen fetters, to carry him away 
to Babylon (^2? for N^np), where, according to lii. 11, he re- 
mained in confinement till his death. 

Vers. 8-10 contain a brief notice regarding the fate of the city 
of Jerusalem and its inhabitants, joined on to the passage pre- 
ceding, in order to prepare the way for a short account of the 
treatment which Jeremiah experienced at the same time. From 
the more detailed notice regarding the fate of the city, given in 
lii. 12 ff., 2 Kings xxv. 8 ff., we see that the destruction of the 
city and the carrying away of the people took place one month 
after their fall, and that the king of Babylon had appointed 
Nebuzaradan, the commander of his body-guards, to go to Jeru- 
salem for the purpose of carrying out these matters. In these 
verses of ours, also, Nebuzaradan is mentioned as the one who 
carried out the judgment that had been pronounced (ver. 10 ff.) ; 
but the fact of his being sent from Kiblah and the date of the 
execution of his commission are here omitted, so that it appears 
as if it had all occurred immediately after the capture of the city, 
and as if Nebuzaradan had been always on the spot. For the 
writer of this chapter did not need to give a historically exact 
account of the separate events ; it was merely necessary briefly 
to mention the chief points, in order to place in proper light 
the treatment experienced by the prophet. The Chaldeans 
burned the king's house (the palace) and Dyrrrva. This latter 
expression, taken in connection with " the king's house," signifies 
the rest of the city apart from the king's palace ; hence fVa is 
used in a collective sense. The temple is not mentioned, as 
being of no consequence for the immediate purpose of this 
short notice. — Ver. 9. " And the rest of the people that had 
remained in the city, and the deserters who had deserted to him, 
and the rest of the people that remained, Nebuzaradan, the 
chief of the body-guards, led captive to Babylon. Ver. 10. But 
of the poorest of the people, who had nothing, Nebuzaradan 
left some in the country, and he gave them vineyards and 
arable fields at the same time." Ivy after v£0 refers, ad sensum. 
to the king of Babylon ; his name, certainly, is not given in the 
immediate context, but it is readily suggested by it. In lii. 15 
we find ?32 T|70~?N instead of IvV; yet we might also refer this 
last-named word to the following subject, Nebuzaradan, as the 

CHAP. XXXIX. 11-14. 123 

representative of the king. D^naU'Xi, properly, chief of the 
slayers, i.e. of the executioners, is the chief of the king's body- 
guard, who occupied the first place among the royal attendants ; 
see on • Gen. xxxvii. 36. By the addition of the words Di'li 
Sinn, on that day, i.e. then, the more general account regarding 
Jerusalem and its inhabitants is concluded, for the purpose of 
attaching to it the notice regarding the fate of the prophet 
Jeremiah, vers. 11-14. 

Vers. 11-14. Nebuchadnezzar gave orders regarding Jere- 
miah, through Nebuzaradan, the chief of the body-guards : 
" Take him, and set thine eyes upon him, and do him no harm ; 
but, just as he telleth thee, so do with him." In obedience to 
this command, "Nebuzaradan, the chief of the body-guards, 
sent, — and Nebushasban the head chamberlain, and Nergal- 
sharezer the chief magician, and all (the other) chief men of the 
king of Babylon, — they sent and took Jeremiah out of the 
court of the prison, and delivered him over to Gedaliah the son 
of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to take him out to the house. 
Thus he dwelt among the people." — On the names of the 
Chaldean grandees, see on ver. 3. Instead of the chief cham- 
berlain (DncrTi) Sarsechim, there is here named, as occupying 
this office, Nebushasban, who, it seems, along with Nebuzaradan, 
was not sent from Riblah till after the taking of Jerusalem, 
when Sarsechim was relieved. We cannot come to any certain 
conclusion regarding the relation in which the two persons or 
names stand to one another, since Nebushasban is only mentioned 
in ver. 13, just as Sarsechim is mentioned only in ver. 3. 
Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the man who had already on a 
former occasion given protection to Jeremiah (xxvi. 24), was, 
according to xl. 5, placed by the king of Babylon over the cities 
of Judah, i.e. was nominated the Chaldean governor over Judah 
and the Jews who were left in the land. To him, as such, 
Jeremiah is here (ver. 14) delivered, that he may take him 
into the house. IV3 is neither the temple (Hitzig) nor the 
palace, the king's house (Graf), but the house in which Gedaliah 
resided as the governor ; and we find here n^2n, not iJVa^ since 
the house was neither the property nor the permanent dwelling- 
place of Gedaliah. — According to this account, Jeremiah seems 
to have remained in the court of the prison till Nebuchadnezzar 


came, to have been liberated by Nebuzaradan only at the com- 
mand of the king, and to have been sent to Gedaliah the 
governor. But this is contradicted by the account in xl. 1 ff., 
according to which, Nebuzaradan liberated the prophet in 
Ramah, where he had been kept, confined by manacles, among 
the captives of Judah that wei'e to be carried to Babylon : 
Nebuzaradan sent for him, and gave him his liberty. This 
contradiction has arisen simply from the intense brevity with 
which, in this verse, the fate of Jeremiah at the capture and 
destruction of Jerusalem is recorded; it is easy to settle the 
difference in this way : — When the city was taken, those inhabi- 
tants, especially males, who had not carried arms, were seized 
by the Chaldeans and carried out of the city to Ramah, where 
they were held prisoners till the decision of the king regarding 
their fate should be made known. Jeremiah shared this lot 
with his fellow-countrymen. When, after this, Nebuzaradan 
came to Jerusalem to execute the kind's commands regarding 
the city and its inhabitants, at the special order of his monarch, 
he sent for Jeremiah the prophet, taking him out from among 
the crowd of prisoners who had been already carried away to 
Ramah, loosed him from his fetters, and gave him permission 
to choose his place of residence. This liberation of Jeremiah 
from his confinement might, in a summary account, be called 
a sending for him out of the court of the prison, even though 
the prophet, at the exact moment of his liberation, was no 
longer in the court of the prison of the palace at Jerusalem, 
but had been already carried away to Ramah as a captive. 

Vers. 15-18. Jeremiah's message of comfort to Ebedmelech. — 
Ver. 15. " Now to Jeremiah there had come the word of the Lord, 
while he remained shut up in the court of the prison, as follows : 
Ver. 16. Go and speak to Ebedmelech the Cushite, saying, Thus 
saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel : Behold, I will bring 
my words against this city for evil and not for good, and they 
shall take place before thee on that day. Ver. 17. But I will 
deliver thee on that day, saith Jahveh ; neither shalt thou be 
given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. 
Ver. 18. For I will surely save thee, neither shalt thou fall by 
the sword, and thine own life shall be thy spoil, because thou 
hast trusted me, saith Jahveh." — This word of God for Ebed- 

CHAP. XL. 1-6. 125 

melech came to the prophet, no doubt, very soon after his 
deliverance from the miry pit by this pious Ethiopian ; but it 
is not given till now, and this by way of supplement, lest its 
introduction previously should break the chain of events which 
occurred at the time of that deliverance, chap, xxxviii. 14- 
xxxix. 13. Hence FPn, ver. 15, is to be translated as a plu- 
perfect. " Go and say," etc., is not inconsistent with the fact that 
Jeremiah, from being in confinement, could not leave the court 
of the prison. For Ebedmelech could come into the prison, 
and then Jeremiah could go to him and declare the word of 
God. " Behold, I will bring my words against this city," i.e. 
I shall cause the evil with which I have threatened Jerusalem 
and its inhabitants to come, or, to be accomplished ("30 with X 
dropped, as in xix. 15, and ~?N for bv). T?.y? Vni, » and these 
words are to take place before thy face," i.e. thou shalt with 
thine own eyes behold their fulfilment, X'inn Di'3, i.e. at the 
time of their occurrence. But thou shalt be saved, not fall 
into the hands of the enemy and be kilted, but carry away thy 
body out of it all as booty ; cf. xxi. 9, xxxviii. 2. " Because 
thou hast trusted me ;" i.e. through the aid afforded to my 
prophet thou hast continued thy faith in me. 

c. jeremiah's predictions and experiences after the 


Chap. xl. and xli. Liberation of Jeremiah. Murder of Gedaliah 
by Ishmael, and its results. 

Chap. xl. 1-6. The liberation of Jeremiah by Nebuzaradan, 
the chief of the body-guards. — The superscription, " The word 
which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, after that Nebuzaradan, 
the captain of the body-guard, had let him go from Ramah," 
does not seem to be appropriate ; for in what follows there is 
no word of God declared by Jeremiah, but first, 2-6, we are told 
that Jeremiah was liberated and given in charge to Gedaliah ; 
then is told, xl. 7-xli. 18, the story of the murder of Gedaliah 
the governor by Ishmael, together with its consequences ; and 
not till xlii. 7 ff. is there communicated a word of God, which 
Jeremiah uttered regarding the Jews who wished to flee to 


Egypt, and had besought him for some revelation from God 
(xlii. 1-6). The heading of our verse cannot refer to this 
prophecy, not merely for the reason that it is too far removed, 
but still more because it has a historical notice introducing it, 
xlii. 1-6. Our superscription rather refers to i. 1-3 ; and "HT 
here, as well as there, means, not a single prophecy, but a 
number of prophecies. Just as nirp "i:n in i. 2 forms the 
heading for all the prophecies uttered by Jeremiah from the 
thirteenth year of Josiah till the destruction of Jerusalem and 
the carrying away of the people in the eleventh year of Zede- 
kiah, so the words 'M l^'s "iTjn of this verse form the super- 
scription for the prophecies which Jeremiah uttered after the 
destruction of Jerusalem, i.e. to the section formed by chap, 
xl.-xlv., although chap. xliv. xlv. have headings of their own ; 
these, however, are subordinate to the heading of this chapter, 
in the same way as the titles in vii. 1, xi. 1, xiv. 1, etc. fall 
under the general title given in i. 2, 3. — Regarding Nebuzar- 
adan and the discharge of Jeremiah at Ramah (i.e. er Ram, 
see on xxxi. 15), cf. the explanations given on xxxix. 13 (p. 124 
of this volume). In what follows, from iflnj?3 onwards, further 
details are given regarding Jeremiah's liberation. " When he 
(Nebuzaradan) sent for him, he (Jeremiah), bound with fetters, 
was among all the captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were 
being carried away to Babylon." Those who were to be carried 
away had been gathered together to Ramah, which lies about 
five miles north from Jerusalem ; thence they were to set out 
for Babylon, ttgm (= D^T, Job xxxvi. 8, Isa. xlv. 14), " fetters," 
— here, according to ver. 4, " manacles," by which, perhaps, two 
or more prisoners were fastened to one another. — Vers. 2-4. 
When Jeremiah had been brought, the commander of the 
guards said to him, " The Lord thy God hath declared this 
evil against this place, and the Lord hath brought it on 
(brought it to pass), and hath done as He spake ; for ye have 
sinned against the Lord, and have not hearkened to His voice : 
thus hath this, thing happened to you." The mode of expression 
is that of Jeremiah ; but Nebuzaradan may have expressed the 
thought, that now there had been fulfilled what Jeremiah had 
predicted in the name of God, because the people, by their re- 
bellion, had broken the oath they had sworn before their God 

CHAP. XL. 1-G. 127 

(cf. Ezek. xvii. 13 ff.), and had thereby sinned against Him. 
The article before W, required by the Qeri, is unnecessary ; 
cf. Ewald, § 293, a ; Gesenius, § 112, 2, a.—Ver. 4. Nebuzar- 
adan then declared him free : " And now, behold, I free thee 
this day from the shackles on thine hands. If it please thee 
to come with me to Babylon, then come, and I will set mine 
eye upon thee (i.e. take thee under my protection, cf. xxxix. 
12). But if it please thee not to come with me to Babylon, 
then let it be so. See, the whole country is before thee (cf. 
Gen. xiii. 9, xx. 5, etc.) ; whithersoever it pleases thee, and seems 
right to thee to go, go." Ver. 5. And because Jeremiah had 
not yet returned, he said, " Go back to Gedaliah, . . . whom 
the king of Babylon hath set over the cities of Judah, and 
remain with him among the people ; or go wherever it seemeth 
right to thee to go." And the commander of the guard gave 
him what provisions he required and a present, and sent him 
away ; thereafter Jeremiah went to Gedaliah to Mizpah, and 
remained there among the people who had been left behind in 
the land (ver. 6). The words 3^ N? 131'jn were certainly mis- 
understood by the old translators, who made various conjectures 
as to their meaning ; even yet, Dahler, Movers, Graf, and 
Niigelsbach are of opinion that " it is impossible to understand" 
this sentence, and that the text is plainly corrupt. Luther 
renders : " for no one will any longer return thither." Hitzig 
considers this translation substantially correct, and only requir- 
ing to be a little more exactly rendered : ll but there, no one 
returns home again." Apart, however, from the consideration 
that on this view W^V, which stands at the head of the sentence, 
does not get full justice paid to it, the thought does not accord 
with what precedes, and the reference of the suffix to the 
indefinite "person" or "one" is extremely forced. According 
to what goes before, in which Nebuzaradan gives the prophet 
full liberty of choosing whether he would go with him to Baby- 
lon or remain in the country, in whatever part he likes, and 
from the following advice which he gives him, " Go, or return, 
to Gedaliah," the words MS* *6 W#, on account of the third 
person ( 3 ^), cannot certainly be an address of the chief 
captain to Jeremiah, and as little can they contain a remark 
about going to Babylon. The words are evidently, both as to 


their form and their contents, a circumstantial clause, contain- 
ing a statement regarding the relation of Jeremiah to the pro- 
posal of the chief captain (and this is the view taken long ago 
by Kimchi), i.e. a parenthetical remark of the narrator, accord- 
ing to which Nebuzaradan demands that he shall remain with 
Gedaliah, in the sense, " and yet he was not going back," 
or, still better, on account of the imperfect 31^, " because he 
was still unwilling to go back," namely, to this or that place 
indefinitely ; then Nebuzaradan further said, " Return, then, 
to Gedaliah." If we supply 1»N S 1 before 'til rnitn, with which 
Nebuzaradan brings the matter to a close, the meaning is quite 
clear. It is evident from ver. 4 that Nebuzaradan stopped a 
little in order to let Jeremiah decide ; but since the prophet did 
not return, i.e. neither decided in the one way nor the other, 
he adds 'til i "9 ! i&>1, and thereby puts an end to the indecision, 
nrnx means a portion of food, or victuals ; cf. lii. 34 and Prov. 
xv. 17. Mizpah, where Gedaliah had taken up his position, is 
the Mizpah of the tribe of Benjamin, where Samuel judged 
the people and chose Saul to be king (1 Sam. vii. 15 ff., x. 17) ; 
doubtless the modern Neby Samwil, five miles north-west from 
Jerusalem, a short distance south-west from Ramah ; see on 
Josh, xviii. 26. 

Vers. 7-12. Return of those who had been dispersed: tliey 
gather round Gedaliah. — Whilst the country and its capital 
were being conquered, many of the men of war had dispersed 
here and there through the land, and fled for refuge to regions 
difficult of access, where they could not be reached by the 
Chaldeans ; others had even escaped into the territory of the 
Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites. When these heard that 
now, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the carrying away 
of the captives, the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah 
as governor over the few people who had been left behind in. 
the country, they returned from their several places of refuge, 
and came to Mizpah to Gedaliah, who promised them protec- 
tion and safety, on condition that they would recognise the 
authority of the king of Babylon and peaceably cultivate the 
soil. Dv^n "HtPj " leaders of the forces, captains." i"n|>3, " in 
the country," as opposed to the city ; rnt?, " fields," as in 
xvii. 3. BrrKO^; " their men," the troops under the captains. 

CHAP. XL. 7-12. 129 

inx TJ3BJ1 '3, " that he had committed to his oversight and 
care." " Men," viz. old, weak, infirm men ; " women and 
children," whose husbands and fathers had perished ; " and 
some of the poor of the country, of those who had not been 
carried captive to Babylon " (}p partitive), i.e. the poor and 
mean people whom the Chaldeans had left behind in the 
country (xxxix. 10). — Ver. 8 ff. These captains came to Mizpah, 
namely (\ explicative), Ishmael the son of Nethaniah (accord- 
ing to xli. 1, the grandson of Elishama, and of royal blood), 
Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah (cf. ver. 13 and xli. 
11, 16, xlii. 1 ff. ; the name Jonathan is omitted in 2 Kinsrs 
xxv. 23 ; see on this passage), Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, 
and the sons of Ephai the Netophathite (from Netophah in the 
vicinity of Bethlehem, 1 Chron. ii. 54, Ezra ii. 22), Jezaniah 
(WW ; but in 2 Kings xxv. 23 VW£) the Maachathite, from 
Maachah, a district in Syria near Hermon, Deut. iii. 14, Josh, 
xii. 5. These men, who had borne arms against the Chaldeans, 
were concerned for their safety when they returned into the 
country. Gedaliah sware to them, i.e. promised them on oath, 
11 Be not afraid to serve the Chaldeans ; remain in the country 
and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you. 
And as for me, behold, I shall remain at Mizpah to stand before 
the Chaldeans who will come to us," i.e. as lieutenant of the 
king of Babylon, to represent you before the Chaldean officers 
and armies, to maintain your rights and interests, so that you 
may be able to settle down where you choose, without anxiety, 
and cultivate the land. " And as for yourselves, gather ye 
wine and fruit (Y]P, see on 2 Sam. xvi. 1) and oil, and put them 
in your vessels." ^px is used of the ingathering of the fruits 
of the ground. It was during the fifth or sixth month (2 Kings 
xxv. 8), the end of July or beginning of August, that grapes, 
figs, and olives became ripe ; and these had grown so plenti- 
fully in comparison with the small number of those who had 
returned, that they could gather sufficient for their wants. 
"And dwell in your cities, cities which ye seize," i.e. which 
you shall take possession of. Ver. 11 ff. Those Jews also who 
had fled, during the war, into the neighbouring countries of 
Moab, Amnion, Edom, etc., returned to Judah when they 
learned that the king of Babylon had left a remnant, and 
vol. ir. I 


placed Gedaliah over them ; they came to Mizpah to Gedaliah, 
who appointed them places to dwell in, and they gathered much 
wine and fruit, i.e. made a rich vintage and fruit harvest. 
rrnxt^ jrn ? " to give a remainder," as it were to leave a re- 
mainder (w TTrin, xliv. 7, or 'w ttfc, Gen. xlv. 7). 

Vers. 13-16. Gedaliah is forewarned of Ishmael s intention to 
murder him. — After the return of those who had taken refuge 
in Moab, etc., Johanan the son of Kareah, together with the 
rest of the captains who were scattered here and there through 
the country, came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, to say to him : " Dost 
thou know indeed that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath 
sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take thy life % " The 
words " that were in the country " are neither a gloss, nor a 
thoughtless repetition by some scribe from ver. 7 (as Hitzig 
and Graf suppose), but they are repeated for the purpose of 
distinguishing plainly between the captains with their men 
from the Jews who had returned out of Moab, Ammon, and 
Edom. Bte3 nton, « to strike the soul, life" = to kill ; cf. Gen. 
xxxvii. 21, Deut. xix. 6. What induced the king of Ammon 
to think of assassination, — whether it was personal hostility 
towards Gedaliah, or the hope of destroying the only remaining 
support of the Jews, and thereby perhaps putting himself in. 
possession of the country, — cannot be determined. That he 
employed Ishmael for the accomplishment of his purpose, may 
have been owing to the fact that this man had a personal envy 
of Gedaliah ; for Ishmael, being sprung from the royal family 
(xl. 1), probably could not endure being subordinate to Geda- 
liah. — The plot had become known, and Gedaliah was secretly 
informed of it by Johanan ; but the former did not believe the 
rumour. Johanan then secretly offered to slay Ishmael, taking 
care that no one should know who did it, and urged compliance 
in the following terms : " Why should he slay thee, and all the 
Jews who have gathered themselves round thee be scattered, 
and the remnant of Judah perish?" Johanan thus called his 
attention to the evil consequences which would result to the 
remnant left in the land were he killed ; but Gedaliah replied, 
" Do not this thing, for thou speakest a lie against Ishmael." 
The Qeri needlessly changes b'yrr^X into ntJ>yn-?K ; cf. xxxix. 

CHAP. XLI. 1-10. 131 

Chap. xli. vers. 1-10. Murder of Gedaliah and Ms followers, 
as well as other Jews, by Ishmael. — Vers. 1-3. The warning of 
Johanan had been only too well founded. In the seventh 
month, — only two months, therefore, after the destruction of 
Jerusalem and the appointment of Gedaliah as governor, — 
Ishmael came with ten men to Mizpah, and was hospitably 
received by Gedaliah and invited to his table. Ishmael is here 
more exactly described as to his family descent, for the purpose of 
throwing a stronger light upon the exceeding cruelty of the mur- 
ders afterwards ascribed to him. He was the son of Nethaniah, 
the son of Elishama, — perhaps the secretary of state mentioned 
xxxvi. 12, or more likely the son of David who bore this name, 
2 Sam. v. 6, 1 Chron. iii. 8, xiv. 7 ; so that Ishmael would 
belong to a lateral branch of the house of David, be of royal 
extraction, and one of the royal lords. ^s? *3"T| cannot be 
joined with Ishmael as the subject, because in what follows 
there is no further mention made of the royal lords, but only 
of Ishmael and his ten men ; it belongs to what precedes, JTTO 
rn^isrij so that we must repeat p before *3"l. The objections of 
Na>elsbach to this view will not stand examination. It is not 
self-evident that Ishmael, because he was of royal blood, was 
therefore also one of the royal nobles ; for the D*31 certainly 
did not form a hereditarjr caste, but were perhaps a class of 
nobles in the service of the king, to which class the princes did 
not belong simply in virtue of their being princes. But the 
improbability that Ishmael should have been able with ten men 
to overpower the whole of the Jewish followers of Gedaliah, 
together with the Chaldean warriors, and (according to ver. 7) 
out of eighty men to kill some, making prisoners of the rest, is 
not so great as to compel us to take ^psrt *3"1 in such a meaning 
as to make it stand in contradiction with the statement, repeated 
twice over, that Ishmael, with his ten men, did all this. Eleven 
men who are determined to commit murder can kill a large 
number of persons who are not prepared against such an attempt, 
and may also keep a whole district in terror. 1 a And they did 
eat bread there together," i.e. they were invited by Gedaliah to 

1 There is still less ground, with Hitzig, Graf, and Nligelsbach, for 
assuming that "i^sn *2H1 is a gloss that has crept into the text. The fact 
that D^"], which is used here, is elsewhere applied only to Chaldean nobles, 


his table. While at meat, Ishmael and his ten men rose and slew 
Gedaliah with the sword. On account of ink rwi which comes 
after, Hitzig and Graf would change 13?1 into i3M, he slew him, 
Gedaliah ; this alteration is possibly warranted, but by no means 
absolutely necessary. The words '131 ink n»^, "and he killed 
him," contain a reflection of the narrator as to the greatness of 
the crime; in conformity with the facts of the case, the murder is 
ascribed only to the originator of the deed, since the ten men of 
Ishmael's retinue were simply his executioners. Besides Gedaliah, 
Ishmael killed " all the Jews that were with him, with Gedaliah 
in Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, the men 
of war." The very expression shows that, of the Jews, only 
those are meant who were present in the house with Gedaliah, 
and, of the Chaldean soldiers, only those warriors who had been 
allowed him as a guard, who for the time being were his 
servants, and who, though they were not, as Schmidt thinks, 
hausto liberalius vino inebriati, yet, as Chr. B. Michaelis remarks, 
were tunc temporis inermes et imparati. The Jews of post-exile 
times used to keep the third day of the seventh month as a 
fast-day, in commemoration of the murder of Gedaliah ; see on 
Zech. vii. 3. — Ver. 4 ff. On the next day after the murder of 
Gedaliah, "when no man knew it," i.e. before the deed had 
become known beyond Mizpah, " there came eighty men from 
Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria," having all the tokens of 
mourning, "with their beards shaven, their clothes rent, and 
with cuts and scratches on their bodies (D^isorpj see on xvi. 6), 
and a meat-offering and frankincense in their hand, to bring 
them into the house of Jahveh." The order in which the towns 
are named is not geographical ; for Shiloh lay south from 
Shechem, and a little to the side from the straight road leading 
from Shechem to Jerusalem. Instead of w, the LXX. (Cod. 
Vat.) have SaXrffi ; they use the same word as the name of a 
place in Gen. xxxiii. 18, although the Hebrew a?W is there an 
adjective, meaning safe, in good condition. According to 
Robinson (Bill. Res. iii. 102), there is a village named Sdlim 

is insufficient to show this ; and even Ewald has remarked that " the last 
king (Zedekiah) may well be supposed to have appointed a number of 
grandees, after the example of the Chaldeans, and given them, too, Chaldean 

QHAP. XLI. 1-10. 133 

three miles east from Nablua (Shechem) ; Hitzig and Graf, on 
the strength of this, prefer the reading of the LXX., to preserve 
the order of the names in the text. But Hitzio; has renounced 
this conjecture in the second edition of his Commentary, "because 
Salim in Hebrew would be ofi&, not D?B\" There is absolutely 
no foundation for the view in the LXX. and in Gen. xxxiii. 
18 ; the supposition, moreover, that the three towns are given 
in their topographical order, and must have stood near each 
other, is also unfounded. Shechem may have been named first 
because the greater number of these men came from that city, 
and other men from Shiloh and Samaria accompanied them. 
These men were pious descendants of the Israelites who belonged 
to the kingdom of Israel ; they dwelt among the heathen 
colonists who had been settled in the country under Esarhaddon 
(2 Kings xvii. 24 ff.), but, from the days of Hezekiah or Josiah, 
had continued to serve Jahveh in Jerusalem, where they used 
to attend the feasts (2 Chron. xxxiv. 9, cf. xxx. 11). Nay, 
even after the destruction of Jerusalem, at the seasons of the 
sacred feasts, they were still content to bring at least unbloody 
offerings — meat-offerings and incense — on the still sacred spot 
where these things used to be offered to Jahveh ; but just be- 
cause this could now be done only on the ruins of what had 
once been the sanctuary, they appeared there with all the signs 
of deep sorrow for the destruction of this holy place and the 
cessation of sacrificial worship. In illustration of this, Grotius 
has adduced a passage from Papinian's instit. de rerum divis. § 
sacrce : u Locus in quo aedes sacrce sunt cedificatce, etiam diruto 
cedificio, sacer adhuc manet." — Ver. 6. Ishmael went out from 
Mizpah to meet these men, always weeping as he went (^p'n 
lti*n ^n, c f. Ges. § 131, a b ; Ew. § 280, b). If they came 
from Ephraim by way of Gibeon (el Jib), the road on to 
Jerusalem passed close by Mizpah. When Ishmael met them, 
he asked them to come to Gedaliah (to Mizpah). But when 
they had entered the city, " Ishmael slew them into the midst 
of the pit" (which was there), i.e. killed them and cast their 
corpses into the pit. Ver. 8. Only ten men out of the eighty 
saved their lives, and this by saying to Ishmael, " Do not kill 
us, for we have hidden stores in the field — wheat, and barley, 
and oil, and honey." D^bttO are excavations in the form of 


cisterns, or subterranean storehouses in the open country, for 
keeping grain ; the openings or entrances to these are so con- 
cealed that the eye of a stranger could not perceive them. Such 
places are still universally employed in Palestine at the present 
day (Robinson's Palestine, i. pp. 324-5), and are also to be found 
in other southern countries, both in ancient and modern times ; 
see proofs of this in Rosenmiiller's Scholia ad hunc locum. It 
is remarked, in ver. 9, of the pit into which Ishmael threw the 
corpses, that it was the same that King Asa had made, i.e. had 
caused to be made, against, i.e. for protection against, Baasha 
the king of Israel. In the historical books there is no mention 
made of this pit in the account of the war between Asa and 
Baasha, 1 Kings xv. 16-22 and 2 Chron. xvi. 1-6; it is only 
stated in 1 Kings xv. 22 and 2 Chron. xvi. 6 that, after Baasha, 
who had fortified Raman, had been compelled to return to his 
own land because of the invasion of Benhadad the Syrian king, 
whom Asa had called to his aid, the king of Judah ordered all 
his people to carry away from Ramah the stones and timber 
which Baasha had employed in building, and therewith fortify 
Geba and Mizpah. The expression N^y? ''pQtt certainly implies 
that the pit had been formed as a protection against Baasha, and 
belonged to the fortifications raised at that time. However, li^n 
cannot mean the burial-place belonging to the city (Grotius), 
but only a cistern (cf. 2 Kings x. 14) ; and one such as could 
contain a considerable store of water was as necessary as a wall 
and a moat for the fortification of a city, so that it might be 
able to endure a long siege (Graf). Hitzig, on the other hand, 
takes "ri!i to mean a lonn; and broad ditch which cut off the 
approach to the city from Ephraim, or which, forming a part 
of the fortifications, made a break in the road to Jerusalem, 
though it was bridged over in times of peace, thus forming a 
kind of tunnel. This idea is certainly incorrect ; for, according 
to ver. 7, the " ditch " was inside the city (TJ>n -pro). The 
expression ^713 *P3 is obscure, and cannot be explained with 
any degree of certainty. 1*3 cannot mean " through the fault 
of" Gedaliah (Raschi), or "because of" Gedaliah — for his 
sake (Kimchi, Umbreit), or "coram" Gedaliah (Venema), but 
must rather be rendered " by means of, through the medium 
of," or " at the side of, together with." Nagelsbach has decided 

CHAP. XLI. 1-10. 135 

for the rendering u by means of," giving as his reason the fact 
that Ishmael had made use of the name of Gedaliah in order to 
decoy these men into destruction. He had called to them, 
11 Come to Gedaliah" (ver. 6); and simply on the authority of 
this name, they had followed him. But the employment of 
the name as a means of decoy can hardly be expressed by 1*3. 
We therefore prefer the meaning "at the hand = at the side 
of" (following the Syriac, L. de Dieu, Rosenmuller, Ewald), 
although this signification cannot be established from the 
passages cited by Rosenm. (1 Sam. xiv. 34, xvi. 2, Ezra vii. 23), 
nor can the meaning " together with " (Ewald) be shown to 
belong to it. On the other hand, a passage Avlrich is quite 
decisive for the rendering " by the hand of, beside," is Job xv. 
23 : " there stands ready at his hand (*-1*3, i.e. close to him) a 
day of darkness." If we take this meaning for the passage now 
before us, then 1iT9ia 1*3 cannot be connected with nan 1B?K 
in accordance with the Masoretic accents, but with DJ£> ^wfi, 
"where Ishmael cast the bodies of the men whom he had slain, 
by the side of Gedaliah ; " so that it is not stated till here 
and now, and only in a casual manner, what had become of 
Gedaliah's corpse. Nothing that admits of being proved can be 
brought against this view. 1 The N^n which follows is a pre- 
dicate: "the ditch wherein .... was that which Asa the 
king had formed." 

The motive for this second series of assassinations by Ishmael 
is difficult to discover. The supposition that he was afraid of 

1 Because the LXX. have, for fc^n 'WIvlS 1*3, Qpsxp fttyoc rovro iariv, 
J. D. Michaelis, Dahler, Movers, Hitzig, and Graf would change the text, 
and either take sin SlJ "V3 (Dahler, Movers) or fcfln bnsn 1*3 (= in) 
as the original reading, inasmuch as one codex of De Rossi's also has to. 
But apart from the improbability of pna ll3 or ?nan being incorrectly 
changed into tfl*7ia 1*3, we find that j^n stands provokingly in the way ; 
for it would be superfluous, or introduce an improper emphasis into the 
sentence. The LXX. have but been attempting to guess at a translation of 
a text they did not understand. What Hitzig further supposes has no 
foundation, viz. that this "ditch" is identical with that mentioned 1 Sam. 
xix. 22, in ob', and with to eppixp to ptiytx. of 1 Mace. vii. 19 ; for the ditch 
at Sechu was near Ramah, which was about four miles from Mizpah, and 
the large fountain 1 Mace. vii. 19 was h Bn^eO, an unknown place in the 
vicinity of Jerusalem. 


being betrayed, and for this reason killed these strangers, 
not wishing to be troubled with them, is improbable, for the 
simple reason that these strangers did not want to go to Mizpah, 
but to Jerusalem. For the supposition of Thenius (on 2 Kings 
xxv. 23) and of Schmieder, that the people had intended going 
to Mizpah to a house of God that was there, is very properly 
rejected by Hitzig, because no mention is made in history of a 
place of worship at Mizpah ; and, according to the express state- 
ment of ver. 6 ff., Ishmael had enticed them into this city only 
by inviting them to come and see Gedaliah. Had Ishmael 
wished merely to conceal the murder of Gedaliah from these 
strangers, he ought to have done anything but let them into 
Mizpah. As little can we regard this deed (with Graf) as an 
act of revenge on these Israelites by Ishmael for the murder 
of his relations and equals in rank by Nebuchadnezzar (lii. 10), 
because these men, who had now for a long time been living 
together with heathens, were Assyrian and Chaldean subjects. 
For we cannot comprehend how he could look on these Israelites 
as friends of the Chaldeans, and vent his anger against the 
Chaldean rule by murdering them ; the mournful procession 
which they formed, and the offerings they were carrying to 
present, proclaimed them faithful adherents of Judah. Niigels- 
bach, accordingly, is of opinion that Ishmael had simply 
intended robbery. As it is evident that he, a rough and wild 
man, had assassinated the noble Gedaliah from personal jealousy, 
and in order to further the political interest of his Ammonite 
patron, he must have been seeking to put himself in the position 
of his victim, or to flee. " When we find, moreover, that he 
soon murdered a peaceable caravan of pilgrims, and preserved 
the lives only of a few who offered to show him hidden treasures ; 
when, finally, we perceive that the whole turba imbellis of 
Mizpah were seized and carried off into slavery, Ishmael proves 
himself a mere robber." But, though the fact that Ishmael 
spared the lives of the ten men who offered to show him hidden 
treasures seems to support this view, yet the supposition that 
nothing more than robbery was intended does not suffice to 
explain the double murder. The two series of assassinations 
plainly stand in the closest connection, and must have been 
executed from one and the same motive. It was at the instiga- 

CHAP. XLI. 1-10. 137 

tion of the Ammonite king that Ishmael murdered Gedaliah ; 
moreover, as we learn from the report brought to Gedaliah by 
Johanan (xl. 15), the crime was committed in the expectation 
that the whole of Judah would then be dispersed, and the 
remnant of them perish. This murder was thus the work of 
the Ammonite king, who selected the royally-descended Ishmael 
as his instrument simply because he could conveniently, for the 
execution of his plans, employ the personal envy of one man 
against another who had been preferred by the king of Babylon. 
There can be no doubt that the same motive which urged him 
to destroy the remnant of Judah, i.e. to frustrate the attempt 
to gather and restore Judah, was also at work in the massacre 
of the pilgrims who were coming to the temple. If Ishmael, 
the leader of a robber-gang, had entered into the design of the 
Ammonite king, then everything that might serve for the 
preservation and consolidation of Judah must have been a 
source of pain to him ; and this hatred of his towards Judah, 
which derived its strength and support from his religious views, 
incited him to murder the Jewish pilgrims to the temple, 
although the prospect of obtaining treasures might well co- 
operate with this in such a way as to make him spare the ten 
men who pretended they had hidden stores. With this, too, 
we can easily connect the hypocritical dealing on the part of 
Ishmael, in going forth, with tears, to meet these pious pilgrims, 
so that he might deceive them by making such a show of grief 
over the calamity that had befallen Judah ; for the wicked 
often assume an appearance of sanctity for the more effectual 
accomplishment of their evil deeds. The LXX. evidently did 
not know what to make of this passage as it stands ; hence, in 
ver. 6, they have quite dropped the words " from Mizpah," and 
have rendered FOiW Tpn T]pri by avrol iiropevovro ical etckcuov. 
Hitzig and Graf accept this as indicating the original text, 
since Ishmael had no ostensible ground for weeping. But the 
reasons which are supposed to justify this conjecture are, as 
Nagelsbach well remarks, of such a nature that one can scarcely 
believe they are seriously held. — Ver. 10. After executing these 
murderous deeds, Ishmael led away into captivity all the people 
that still remained in Mizpah, the king's daughters and all the 
people whom Nebuchadnezzar had committed to the care of 


Gedaliah, intending to go over with them to the Ammonites. 
As the object of W is very far removed through the interven- 
tion of a relative clause, the connection is resumed by E3£>\ 
" The king's daughters " are not only the daughters of Zedekiah, 
but female members generally of the royal house, princesses, 
analogous to ty?P"!?, king's son = prince, xxxvi. 26, xxxviii. 6. 

Vers. 11.— 18. The struggle against Ishmael; intended flight to 
Egypt. — Ver. 11 ff. When Johanan and the rest of the cap- 
tains heard of what had taken place in Mizpah, they marched 
out with all their men to fight Ishmael, and came on him at 
the great water at Gibeon, i.e. by the pool at Gibeon which is 
mentioned 2 Sam. ii. 13, one of the large receptacles for water 
which are still found there; see on 2 Sam. ii. 13. Gibeon, 
now called el Jib (see on Josh. ix. 3), was situated only about 
two miles north from Mizpah ; from which we may conclude 
that it was soon known what had happened, and the captains 
quickly assembled their men and marched after Ishmael. — 
Ver. 13 ff. When those who had been carried off by Ishmael 
saw these captains, they were glad, since they had followed 
their captor merely because they were forced to do so. They 
all turned, and went over to Johanan; but Ishmael escaped 
from Johanan, with eight men, — having thus lost two in the 
fight with Johanan, — and went to the Ammonites. — Ver. 16 ff. 
After the escape of Ishmael, it was to be feared that the 
Chaldeans would avenge the murder of the governor, and make 
the Jews who remained atone for the escape of the murderer 
by executing them or carrying them away to Babylon. Ac- 
cordingly, Johanan and the other captains determined to with- 
draw to Egypt with the men, women, and children that had 
been carried off by Ishmael ; these they conducted first to 
Bethlehem, where they encamped for the purpose of deliberating 
as to the rest of the journey, and taking due precautions. The 
account given in ver. 16 is clumsily expressed, especially the 
middle portion, between "whom he had brought back" and 
" the son of Ahikam ; " and in this part the words " from 
Mizpah " are particularly troublesome in breaking the connec- 
tion : "whom he (Johanan) had brought back from Ishmael 
the son of Nethaniah, from Mizpah, after he (Ishmael) had 
slain Gedaliah," while it is more correctly stated in the second 

chap. xlii. 139 

relative clause, " whom he had brought back from Gibeon." 
Hitzig and Graf accordingly suppose that, originally, instead 
of DKB Vtfn *)m, there stood in the text mt5> *\m. « whom he 
(Ishmael) had led captive from Mizpah, after he had slain 
Gedaliah." Thus the whole becomes clear. Against this con- 
jecture there only stands the fact that the LXX. translate ou? 
a7riarpe-\\rev dirb ^Ia/uiajjX ; they must thus have read l^n *i£'tf 
riXDj and omitted merely naytsn as unsuited to the passage. 
However,- the error may be even older than the LXX., and 3*B>CT 
HNft may easily have arisen through a scribe having glanced at 
the words 3*B&1 1S5>K of the last clause. The words from " men " 
to "chamberlains" form the more exact specification of the 
general expression " all the remnant of the people : " " men, viz. 
men of war, women (including the king's daughters, ver. 10), 
and children and chamberlains " (D^D^D, guardians and servants 
of the female members of the royal family). — Ver. 17. " They 
marched and stopped (made a halt) at the inn of Chimham, 
which is near Bethlehem." flVljj, air. A.ey., considered etymo- 
logically, must mean diversorium, hospitium, an inn, khan, or 
caravanserai. Instead of the Kethib D!Ti»D, many codices read 
DH03 (like the Qeri) ; nor have any of the old translators read 

1 or i in the word. The Qeri is evidently correct, and we are 
to read Dnsa, the name of a son of Barzillai the rich Gileadite, 

2 Sam. xix. 38, 41, who is supposed to have built or founded 
this caravanserai for the convenience of travellers. The words 
u because of the Chaldeans" in the beginning of ver. 18 depend 
on " to go to Egypt " at the end of the preceding verse : " to 
go to Egypt for fear of the Chaldeans," on account of the 
murder of Gedaliah by Ishmael. 

Chap. xlii. The Word of God concerning the Might to Egypt. 

At the halting-place near Bethlehem the captains and the 
people whom they led deem it necessary to inquire through 
Jeremiah as to the will of God regarding their intention ; they 
betake themselves to the prophet with the request that he would 
address God in prayer for them regarding this matter, and they 
promise that they will, in any case, comply with the message 
that he may receive from God (vers. 1-6). "Whereupon, after 
ten days, the word of the Lord came to the prophet, vers. 7-22, 


to the effect that, if they remained in the country, the Lord 
would take pity on them and protect them from the Chaldeans, 
and establish them ; but, should they go to Egypt, against the 
will of the Lord, then the evil which they feared would follow 
them thither, so that they would perish by the sword, hunger, 
and pestilence. 

Vers. 1-6. " And there drew near all the captains, namely, 
Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, 
and all the people, from little to great, Ver. 2. And said to 
Jeremiah the prophet, Let our supplication come before thee, 
and pray for us to Jahveh thy God, for all this remnant (for 
we are left a few out of many, as thine eyes see us) ; Ver. 3. 
That Jahveh thy God may tell us the way in which we should 
go, and the thing that we should do." Of the captains, two, 
viz. Johanan and Jezaniah, are mentioned as the leaders of the 
people and the directors of the whole undertaking, who also, 
xliii. 1 ff., insolently accuse the prophet of falsehood, and carry 
out the proposed march to Egypt. Jezaniah is in xl. 8 called 
the Maachathite ; here he is named in connection with his 
father, " the son of Hoshaiah;" while in xliii. 2, in conjunc- 
tion with Johanan the son of Kareah, Azariah the son of 
Hoshaiah is mentioned, which name the LXX. also have in 
ver. 1 of this chapter. Hitzig, Ewald, etc., are consequently 
of the opinion that PMP in our verse has been written by mis- 
take for n)TW.. But more probable is the supposition that the 
error is in the rrnfJJ of xliii. 2, inasmuch as there is no reason 
to doubt the identity of Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah with the 
Jezaniah descended from Maacha (xl. 8) ; and the assumption 
that rW is incorrect in two passages (xlii. 1 and xl. 8) is 
highly improbable. They go to the prophet Jeremiah, whom 
they had taken with them from Mizpah, where he was living 
among the people, with the rest of the inhabitants of the place 
(xli. 16). 'nn N3"73n as in xxxvii. 20 ; see on xxxvi. 7. The 
request made to the prophet that he would intercede for them 
with the Lord, which they further urge on the ground that 
the number left out of the whole people is small, while there is 
implied in this the wish that God may not let this small rem- 
nant also perish ; — this request Nagelsbach considers a piece of 
hypocrisy, and the form of asking the prophet " a mere farce," 

CHAP. XLII. 1-C. 141 

since it is quite plain from xliii. 1-6 that the desire to go to 
Egypt was already deeply rooted in their minds, and from this 
they would not allow themselves to be moved, even by the 
earnest warning of the prophet. But to hypocrites, who were 
playing a mere farce with the prophet, the Lord would have 
probably replied in a different way from what we find in 
vers. 8-22. As the Searcher of hearts, He certainly would 
have laid bare their hypocrisy. And however unequivocally 
the whole address implies the existence of disobedience to the 
voice of God, it yet contains nothing which can justify the 
assumption that it was only in hypocrisy that they wished to 
learn the will of God. We must therefore assume that their 
request addressed to the prophet was made in earnest, although 
they expected that the Lord's reply would be given in terms 
favourable to their intention. They wished to obtain from 
God information as to which way they should go, and what 
they should do, — not as to whether they should remain in the 
country or go to Egypt. " The way that we should go " is, of 
course, not to be understood literally, as if they merely wished 
to be told the road by which they would most safely reach 
Egypt ; neither, on the other hand, are the words to be under- 
stood in a merely figurative sense, of the mode of procedure 
they ought to pursue ; but they are to be understood of the 
road they ought to take in order to avoid the vengeance of the 
Chaldeans which they dreaded, — in the sense, whither they 
ought to go, in order to preserve their lives from the danger 
which threatened them. — Ver. 4. Jeremiah replies : " I have 
heard (i.e. acceded to your request) ; behold, I will pray to 
Jahveh your God, according to your words ; and it shall come 
to pass that whatever Jahveh answers you I will tell you, I 
will not keep anything from you." Ver. 5. They said further : 
" Let Jahveh be a true and faithful witness against us, if we 
do not just according to all the word which Jahveh thy God 
shall send thee (to declare) unto us. Ver. 6. Whether it be 
good or bad, we shall obey the voice of Jahveh our God, to 
whom we send thee, that it may be well with us when we obey 
the voice of Jahveh our God." nox *ty, Prov. xiv. 25, and JOK3, 
Isa. viii. 2, Ps. lxxxix. 38. Both predicates occupy emphatic 
positions. God is to be a faithful witness, not in regard to the 


truth of what they say, but as regards the fulfilment of their 
promise, so that, if they would not obey His word, He might 
come forward to punish them, ffw"! is construed with a double 
accusative : to send away a person with something, i.e. to give 
him a commission. After " whether it be good or evil," there 
is no need for supplying " in our eyes " (W^JJa), as Hitzig and 
Graf allege : " whether it please us or not ; " the subject is 
"iznri : " we will obey the word, whether it be good or evil," i.e. 
whether it announce good or evil to come (cf. Eccles. xii. 14). 
The Kethib WK occurs only in this passage in the Old Testa- 
ment ; the Qeri accordingly substitutes ^mx : the former, how- 
ever, is taken from the vulgar tongue, and should not be 
altered here. V^i ^ does not mean " because we obey," but 
" when w r e obey." The hearing is the condition, not the cause 
of the prosperity. 

Vers. 7-22. The word of the Lord. — At the end of ten 
days, the reply that had been asked for came from the Lord. 
Hitzig and Graf think that Jeremiah had lingered ten days 
with the answer, in order to obtain strong and clear convic- 
tion, " matured through his own meditation, probably also in 
part confirmed by the arrival of further news." This opinion 
is characterized by Nagelsbach as a in harmony with modern 
science, but unhistorical ; " it should rather be called unscrip- 
tural, as resting on a denial of divine inspiration. The reason 
why the Lord did not make known His will to the prophet for 
ten days was a disciplinary one. By waiting, those who asked 
would get time for bethinking themselves, and for quietly 
considering the situation of affairs, so that they might be able, 
calmly and collectedly, to receive and obey the answer of God, 
which was far from satisfying the fears and wishes of their 
heart. Ver. 8. Jeremiah called the captains and all the people 
together, and announced to them as follows : Ver. 9. " Thus 
saith Jahveh, the God of Israel, to whom ye have sent me, that 
I might bring your supplication before Him : Ver. 10. If ye 
will indeed abide in this land, then will I build you up and not 
pull down ; and I will plant you, but not root out; for I repent 
of the evil that I have done to you. Ver. 11. Be not afraid of 
the king of Babylon, whom ye fear, be not afraid of him, saith 
Jahveh ; for I am with you to save you and to deliver you out 

CHAP. XLII. 7-22. 143 

of his hand. Ver. 12. And I will get pity for you, so that he 
shall take pity on you, and bring you back to your land. Ver. 
13. But if ye say, We will not remain in this land, so that ye 
will not obey the voice of Jahveh your God, Ver. 14. Saying, 
Nay, but we will go to the land of Egypt, that we may not see war 
nor hear the sound of a trumpet, and we shall not hunger after 
bread, and we will dwell there. — Ver. 15. Now therefore hear 
the word of Jahveh, ye remnant of Judah : Thus saith Jahveh 
of hosts, the God of Israel, If ye do indeed set your face to go 
to Egypt, and go to sojourn there, Ver. 16. Then shall the sword, 
of which ye are afraid, overtake you there, in the land of 
Egypt, and hunger, which ye dread, shall there follow hard 
after you, in Egypt, and there shall ye die. Ver. 17. And all the 
men who have set their face to go to Egypt, to sojourn there, 
shall die by the sword, and through hunger, and from the plague; 
nor shall they have any one left or escaped from the evil which 
I will bring on them. Ver. 18. For thus saith Jahveh of hosts, 
the God of Israel : As mine anger and my wrath were poured 
out upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so shall my wrath be 
poured out upon you when ye go to Egypt, and ye shall become 
an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach, 
and ye shall not see this place again. — Ver. 19. Jahveh hath 
spoken to yon, O remnant of Judah. Go not to Egypt : ye 
shall know for certain that I have warned you to-day. Ver. 
20. For ye err at the risk of your souls when ye sent me to 
Jahveh your God, saying, Pray for us to Jahveh our God, 
and according to all that Jahveh our God shall say to us, so 
tell us, and we will do it. Ver. 21. Now I have told you 
to-day, and ye have not obeyed the voice of Jahveh your God, 
nor in anything for which He hath sent me unto you. Ver. 22. 
Now, therefore, ye must surely know that ye shall die by the 
sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place whither ye 
have been pleased to go to sojourn." 

The Lord's reply extends as far as ver. 18 ; the last four 
verses (19-22) form an epilogue, a further address by the 
prophet, in which he once more specially impresses God's 
resolution on the minds of the people. The answer of God 
consists (1) in the promise that, if they will remain in the land, 
the Lord is willing to build them up, and protect them from 


the wrath of the king of Babylon (vers. 9-12) ; and (2) the 
threat that, if they will go to Egypt against the advice and 
will of the Lord, they shall certainly perish there by the sword, 
famine, and pestilence (vers. 13-18). On the expression 
nsnn T'SH, see on xxxvi. 7. 2W (ver. 10) can only be inf. 
abs. of 2K^, for 3iSJ>} ; if we view it as coming from 2W, 
we get no suitable meaning, for the thought si revertendo 
illuc manseritis in hdc terra (C. B. Michaelis) could not be 
expressed by 13K7H 2iK\ Certainly there is no other instance 
of such a form as SitJ> being used for 2iC s ; in a verb like 3K>\ 

O T v - ft 

however, which drops the * in the inf. constr., a like omission 
in the inf. abs. is quite conceivable, while the supposition of 
some injury having been done to the text (Olshausen, Gram. 
§ 89) is less probable. On the expression, " I will build you," 
etc., cf. xxiv. 6, xxxi. 4, xxxiii. 7. " I repent of the evil " is 
an anthropopathic expression for the cancelling of a penal sen- 
tence: cf. Joel ii. 14, etc. — In ver. 11, the repetition of the 
words " do not fear him " produces special emphasis. — Ver. 
12. "I shall give you compassion," i.e. obtain it for you, so 
that the king of Babylon will show pity on you ; cf . Gen. 
xliii. 14, 1 Kings viii. 50. J. D. Michaelis, Hitzig, Ewald, 
and Graf, following the LXX., Vulgate, and Syriac, would 
change ^ni into Tt^in (make you dwell) ; but there is no 
necessity for this, since 3^"n makes good enough sense, pro- 
vided we refer it, not to the return of those who had been 
exiled to Babylon, but, as the connection requires, to the de- 
parture from Mizpah, after the halt near Bethlehem, in the 
intended flight to Egypt ; we must, besides, view this departure 
as a complete forsaking of their country, and the leaders in this 
emigration as being fugitives who had fled before the Chal- 
deans, and had returned only a short time before, for the 
purpose of settling down again in the country. — Vers. 13-18. 
The threatening if, in spite of warning and against God's will, 
they should still persist in going to Egypt. The protasis of 
the conditional sentence begun in ver. 13, " If ye say," etc., 
extends onwards through ver. 14; the apodosis is introduced 
co-ordinately with the commencement of ver. 15, " Now there- 
fore," etc. "lEftB' ?ip, " the sound of war-trumpet," as in iv. 19. 
On " hungering after bread," cf. Amos viii. 11. Dn?n (with 

CHAP. XLII. 7-22. 145 

the article) is the bread necessary for life. u The remnant of 
Judah" is to be understood of those who still remained in the 
land, as is shown by ver. 2 ; see also ver. 19, xliii. 5, xliv. 12, 
14. The warning given in ver. 16 contains the idea that the 
very evil which they feared would come on them in Judah 
will befall them in Egypt. There they shall perish by sword, 
famine, and plague, since Nebuchadnezzar will conquer Egypt ; 
cf. xliii. 8-13. — Ver. 17. Vn^, used instead of the impersonal 
rViTl, is referred to the following subject by a rather unusual 
kind of attraction ; cf. Ewald, § 345, b. All the men who set 
their faces, i.e. intend, to go to Egypt shall perish ; not a single 
one shall escape the evil ; for the same judgment of wrath 
which has befallen Jerusalem shall also come on those who flee 
to Egypt ; cf. vii. 20. On the expression " ye shall become a 
curse," etc., cf. xxiv. 9, xxv. 18, xxix. 18. 

Taking for granted that the leaders of the people will not 
obey, Jeremiah appends to the word of the Lord an earnest 
address, in which several points are specially insisted on, viz. 
that the Lord had spoken to them, that He had forbidden them 
to go to Egypt, and that he (the prophet), by proclaiming the 
word of the Lord, .had warned them (2 T^n, to testify, bear 
witness against a person, i.e. warn him of something, cf. xi. 7). 
Thus he discloses to them the dangerous mistake they are in, 
when they first desire some expression of the mind of the Lord 
regarding their intentions, and, in the hope that He will accede 
to their request, promise unconditional obedience to whatever 
He may direct, but afterwards, when they have received a mes- 
sage from the Lord, will not obey it, because it is contrary to 
what they wish. The Kethib DTiym has been incorrectly 
written for Drvynr^ the Hiphil from nyn, to err; here, as in Prov. 
x. 17, it means to make a mistake. MTito'D^ not, "you mislead 
your own selves" decepistis animas vestras ( Vulg.), nor " in your 
souls," — meaning, in your thoughts and intentions (Nagels- 
bach), — but " at the risk of your souls," your life; cf. xvii. 21. 
vj ; x SOT (ver. 21), " and that in regard to all that for which 
Jahveh has sent me to you," points back to their promise, ver. 
5, that they would do " according to all the word." By employ- 
ing the perfect in vers. 20, 21, the thing is represented as quite 
certain, as if it had already taken place. Ver. 22 concludes 



the warning with a renewed threat of the destruction which 
shall befall them for their disobedience. 

Chap, xliii. The Flight to Egypt : the Conquest of Egypt 


Vers. 1-7. TJie march of the people to Egypt. — When Jere- 
miah had thus ended all the words which the Lord had 
announced to him for the people, then came forward Azariah 
(probably an error for Jezaniah, see on xlii. 1) the son of 
Hoshaiah, Johanan the son of Kareah, and the rest of the 
insolent men, and said to Jeremiah, " Thou dost utter false- 
hood ; Jahveh our God hath not sent thee unto us, saying, Ye 
must not go to Egypt to sojourn there ; Ver. 3. But Baruch 
the son of Neriah inciteth thee against us, in order to give us 
into the hand of the Chaldeans, to kill us, and to take us 
captive to Babylon." ttTOfc is not the predicate to Dnfcwrfe, 
but forms a resumption of ip^l, with which it thus serves to 
connect its object, Jeremiah, and from which it would other- 
wise be pretty far removed. Azariah (or, more correctly, 
Jezaniah) occupies the last place in the enumeration of the 
captains, xl. 8, and in xlii. 1 is also named after Johanan, who 
is the only one specially mentioned, in what follows, as the 
leader on the march. From this we may safely conclude that 
Jezaniah was the chief speaker and the leader of the opposition 
against the prophet. To avoid any reference to the promise 
they had made to obey the will of God, they declare that 
Jeremiah's . prophecy is an untruth, which had been suggested 
to him, not by God, but by his attendant Baruch, with the view 
of delivering up the people to the Chaldeans. — Vers. 4-7. 
Thereupon Johanan and the other captains took " all the 
remnant of Judah, that had returned from all the nations 
whither they had been driven, to dwell in the land of Judah, — 
the men and women and children, the king's daughters, and 
all the souls whom Nebuzaradan, chief of the body-guard, had 
committed to Gedaliah . . . and Jeremiah the prophet, and 
Baruch the son of Neriah, — and went to the land of Egypt — 
for they did not hearken to the voice of Jahveh — and came to 
Tahpanhes." In this enumeration of those who were conducted 
to Egypt, Hitzig, Graf, and others distinguish two classes : 

CHAP. XLIII. 8-13. 147 

(1) the men, women, children, etc., who had been in Mizpah 
with Gedaliah, and had been led to Gibeon, after the murder 
of the latter, by Ishmael, but had afterwards been brought to 
Bethlehem by Johanan and the other captains (ver. 6, cf. xl. 
7, xli. 10, 16); (2) those who had returned from the foreign 
countries whither they had fled, but who had hitherto lived in 
the country, scattered here and there, and who must have joined 
the company led by Johanan to Bethlehem during the ten days 
of halt at that resting-place (ver. 5, cf. xl. 11, 12). There is 
no foundation, however, for this distinction. Neither in the 
present chapter is there anything mentioned of those who had 
been dispersed through the land joining those who had marched 
to Bethlehem ; nor are the Jews who had returned from Moab, 
Amnion, Edom, and other countries to their own home distin- 
guished, in chap. xl. and xli., as a different class from those 
who had been with Gedaliah in Mizpah ; but on the other 
hand, according to xl. 12, these returned Jews also came to 
Gedaliah at Mizpah, and gathered grapes and fruit. Besides, 
in these verses the distinction can only be made after the 
insertion into the text of the conjunction 1 before D'nnarrnx. 
To " all the remnant of Judah who had returned from the 
nations " belong the men, women, children, etc., whom Nebuzar- 
adan had committed to the care of Gedaliah. The enumeration 
in ver. 6 gives only one specification of the " whole remnant 
of Judah," as in xli. 16. "And all the souls;" as if it were 
said, "and whoever else was still left alive;" cf. Josh. x. 28. 
Tahpanhes was a frontier town of Egypt on the Pelusian 
branch of the Nile, and named Adfyvai by the Greeks ; see on 
ii. 16. Here, on the borders of Egypt, a halt was made, for 
the purpose of coming to further resolutions regarding their 
residence in that country. Here, too, Jeremiah received a 
revelation from God regarding the fate now impending on 

Vers. 8-13. Prediction regarding Egypt. — Ver. 8. "And 
the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, 
Ver. 9. Take in thine hand large stones, and hide them in the 
clay in the brick-kiln, which is at the entrance to the house of 
Pharaoh in Taphanhes, in the eyes of the Jews ; Ver. 10. And 
say to them : Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel, 


Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar, the king of 
Babylon, my servant, and will place his throne over these stones 
which I have hidden, and he shall stretch his tapestry over 
them. Ver. 11. And he shall come and smite the land of 
Egypt, (he who is) for death, to death, — (he who is) for cap- 
tivity, to captivity, — (he who is) for the sword, to the sword. 
Ver. 12. And I will kindle fire in the houses of the gods of 
Egypt, and he shall burn them and carry them away ; and he 
shall wrap the land of Egypt round him as the shepherd wraps 
his cloak round him, and thence depart in peace. Ver. 13. 
And he shall destroy the pillars of Beth-shemesh, which is in 
the land of Egypt, and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians 
shall he burn with fire." 

This prophecy is introduced by a symbolical action, on which 
it is based. But in spite of the fact that the object of the 
action is stated in the address which follows, the action itself is 
not quite plain from the occurrence of I??!??, whose usual mean- 
ing, "brick-kiln" (cf. Nah. iii. 14), does not seem suitable here. 
Eichhorn and Hitzig think it absurd that there should be found 
before the door of a royal habitation a brick-kiln on which 

a king was to place his throne. From the Arabic .jjl*, which 

also signifies a rectangular figure like a tile or brick, and is 
used of the projecting entablature of doors, — from the employ- 
ment, also, in the Talmud of the word !5?Q to signify a quad- 
rangular tablet in the form of a tile, — Hitzig would claim for 
the word the meaning of a stone floor, and accordingly renders, 
" and insert them with mortar into the stone flooring." But 
the entablatures over doors, or quadrangular figures like bricks, 
are nothing like a stone flooring or pavement before a palace. 
Besides, in the way of attaching to the word the signification of 
a " brick-kiln," — a meaning which is well established, — or even 
of a brickwork, the difficulties are not so great as to compel us 
to accept interpretations that have no foundation. We do not 
need to think of a brick-kiln or brickwork as being always before 
the palace ; as Neumann has observed, it may have indeed been 
there, although only for a short time, during the erecting of 
some part of the palace; nor need it have been just at the 
palace gateway, but a considerable distance away from it, and 

CHAP. XLIII. 8-13. 149 

on the opposite side. Alongside of it there was lying mortar, 
an indispensable building material. JOB, " to hide," perhaps 
means here not merely to embed, but to embed in such a way 
that the stones could not very readily be perceived. Jeremiah 
was to press down the big stones, not into the brick-kiln, but 
into the mortar which was lying at (near) the brick-kiln,— to 
put them, too, before the eyes of the Jews, inasmuch as the 
meaning of this act had a primary reference to the fate of the 
Jews in Egypt. The object of the action is thus stated in 
what follows : Jahveh shall bring the king of Babylon and set 
his throne on these stones, so that he shall spread out his 
beautiful tapestry over them, "fl"©^ (Qeri ~F)*V), an intensive 
form of "IBB> 3 rnaB?, « splendour, beauty," signifies a glittering 
ornament, — here, the decoration of the throne, the gorgeous 
tapestry with which the seat of the throne was covered. The 
stones must thus form the basis for the throne, which the king 
of Babylon will set up in front of the palace of the king of 
Egypt at Tahpanhes. But the symbolical meaning of this 
action is not thereby exhausted. Not merely is the laying of 
the stones significant, but also the place where they are laid, — 
at the entrance, or opposite Pharaoh's palace. This palace was 
built of tiles or bricks : this is indicated by the brick-kiln and 
the mortar. The throne of the king of Babylon, on the contrary, 
is set up on large stones. The materials of which the palace 
and the throne are formed, shadow forth the strength and 
stability of the kingdom. Pharaoh's dominion is like crumbling 
clay, the material of bricks ; the throne which Nebuchadnezzar 
shall set up opposite the clay-building of the Pharaohs rests on 
large stones, — his rule will be powerful and permanent. Ac- 
cording to Jeremiah's further development of the symbol in 
ver. 11 ff., Nebuchadnezzar will come to Egypt (the Kethib ilKa 
is to be read HN3, " he came down," to Egypt, Nia being con- 
strued with the accus.), and will smite the land together with 
its inhabitants, so that every man will receive his appointed lot, 
viz. death by pestilence, imprisonment, and the sword, i.e. death 
in battle. On the mode of representation here, cf. xv. 2. — 
Ver. 12. He shall burn the temples of the gods of Egypt, and 
carry away the idols. The first person Wi, f or which LXX., 
Syriac, and Vulgate have the third, must not be meddled with ; 


it corresponds to ,| fi??K> in ver. 10. What Nebuchadnezzar does 
as Jahveh's servant Q^V, ver. 10) is done by God. The suffixes 
in &Q"JK' and S2& are assigned in such a way that the one is to 
be referred to the temples, the other to the idols ; see on xlviii. 
7. — HBJft has been variously interpreted. HDy with the accus. 
Wp or nopb> means to envelope one's self with a garment, put 
on a garment, wrap the cloak round ; cf. 1 Sam. xxviii. 14, 
Ps. cix. 19, Isa. lix. 17, etc. This is the meaning of the verb 
here, as is shown by the clause expressing the comparison. The 
point of likeness is the easiness of the action. Ewald has very 
well explained the meaning of the whole : " As easily as any 
shepherd in the open field wraps himself in his cloak, so will 
he take the whole of Egypt in his hand, and be able to throw 
it round him like a light garment, that he may then, thus 
dressed as it were with booty, leave the land in peace, without a 
foe, — a complete victor." Other explanations of the word are 
far-fetched, and lexically untenable. — Ver. 13. In conclusion, 
mention is further made of the destruction of the famous temple 
of the Sun at Heliopolis, to show the fulfilment of the prophecy 
that all Egypt would fall under the power of Nebuchadnezzar. 
WftW rV3, " House of the Sun," is the Hebrew rendering of the 
Egyptain Pe-rd, i.e. House of the Sun, the sacred name of the 
city vulgarly called On ; see on Gen. xli. 45. It lay north-east 
from Cairo, near the modern village of Matarieh, and thus 
pretty far inland ; it was renowned for its magnificent temple, 
dedicated to Rd, the Sun-god. At the entrance to this building 
stood several larger and smaller obelisks, of which the two 
larger, added to the two older ones by Pheron the son of 
Sesostris, were about 150 feet high. One of these the Emperor 
Augustus caused to be brought to Rome ; the other was thrown 
down in the year 1160; while one of the more ancient but 
smaller obelisks still stands in its original position, raising its head 
in the midst of a beautiful garden over a mass of dense foliage. 
These obelisks are signified by nuJTO. The additional clause, 
" which is in the land of Egypt," does not belong to Beth- 
shemesh, as if it were appended for the purpose of distinguish- 
ing the city so named from Beth-shemesh in the land of Judah ; 
the words are rather connected with ItaSO, and correspond with 
D^>'p Nnptf in the parallel member of the verse. The obelisks 

CHAP. XLIIL 8-13. 151 

of the most famous temple of the Egyptian Sun-god are well 
known as the most splendid representatives of the glory of the 
Egyptian idolatry : the destruction of these monuments indi- 
cates the ruin of all the sanctuaries of the ancient kingdom of 
the Pharaohs. The last clause is a kind of re-echo from ver. 
12a ; &PJ5« is strengthened by the addition of tW3 for the pur- 
pose of giving a sonorous ending to the whole. — The king of 
Egypt is not named in the prophecy, but according to xliv. 30 
it is Pharaoh-Hophra, who is to be given into the power of 

When we inquire as to the fulfilment of this prediction, we 
find M. Duncker, in his Gesch. des Alterthums, i. 841, giving 
a reply in these words : " Nebuchadnezzar did not fulfil these 
expectations (of Jeremiah, chap, xliii. 8-13, xliv. 30, and of 
Ezekiel, chap. xxix. 32). He contented himself with having 
repelled the renewed attack of Egypt. The establishment of 
his dominion in Syria did not depend on his conquering Eoypt ; 
but Syria must obey him, throughout its whole extent. The 
capture of Jerusalem followed the siege of the island-town of 
Tyre (b.c. 586), the last city that had maintained its independ- 
ence. The army of the Chaldeans lay thirteen years before 
Tyre without being able to bring the king Ethbaal (Ithobal) 
under subjection. At last, in the year 573, a treaty was con- 
cluded, in which the Tyrians recognised the supremacy of the 
king of Babylon." That Tyre was brought into subjection is 
inferred by Duncker (in a note, p. 682), first, from the generally 
accepted statement of Berosus, that the whole of Phoenicia was 
subdued by Nebuchadnezzar (Josephus' Ant. x. 11. 1, and 
contra A p. i. 19); secondly, from Josephus' statement (contra 
Ap. i. 21), that the kings Merbal and Hiram had been brought 
by the Tyrians from Babylon ; and lastly, from the fact that, 
with the close of the siege, the reign of Ithobal ends and that 
of Baal begins. "It would thus appear that Ithobal was 
removed, and his family carried to Babylon." These facts, 
which are also acknowledged by Duncker, sufficiently show 
(what we have already pointed out in Ezekiel) that the siege 
of Tyre ended with the taking of this island-city. For, unless 
the besieged city had been taken by storm, or at least compelled 
to surrender, the king would not have let himself be dethroned 


and carried to Babylon. — But whence has Duncker derived the 
information that Nebuchadnezzar had no concern with the 
subjugation of Egypt, but merely with the establishment of his 
authority in Syria? Although Nebuchadnezzar began the 
siege of the island-city of Tyre soon after the destruction of 
Jerusalem, and required thirteen years to reduce it, yet it does 
not by any means follow from this that he had only to do with 
the strengthening of his authority in Syria, and no connection 
with the subjugation of Egypt ; all that we can safely infer is, 
that he thought he could not attempt the conquest of Egypt 
with any certain prospect of success until he had subdued the 
whole of Syria. Besides, so long as such an one as Pharaoh- 
Hophra occupied the throne of Egypt, — who had not only 
sent an army to Zedekiah king of Judah to raise the siege of 
Jerusalem, but also (according to Herodotus, ii. 161, who draws 
from Egyptian sources) led an army to Sidon and fought a 
naval battle with the Tyrians ; who (as Diod. Sic. i. 68 relates, 
also following Egyptian tradition) set out for Cyprus with 
abundant war-material and a strong army and fleet, and took 
Sidon by storm, while the rest of the towns submitted through 
fear; who, moreover, had defeated the Phoenicians and Cyprians 
in a naval engagement, and had returned to Egypt with 
immense spoil ; — how could Nebuchadnezzar possibly think that 
his rule in Syria was firmly established? Such statements as 
those now referred to even Duncker does not venture to reject. 
We must, however, view them with a regard to the usual 
exaggerations by which the Egyptians were accustomed to 
extol the deeds of their Pharaohs ; but after making all due 
allowance, we are led to this, that, after the fall of Tyre, 
Hophra sought to prevent the island of Cyprus as well as 
Tyre from becoming a dependency of Nebuchadnezzar. Could 
Nebuchadnezzar leave unmolested such an enemy as this, who, 
on the first suitable opportunity, would attempt to wrest the 
whole of Syria from him ? So short-sighted a policy we could 
not attribute to such a conqueror as Nebuchadnezzar. Much 
more considerate is the judgment previously expressed regarding 
this by Vitringa, on Isa. xix. : " Etiamsi omnis historic/, hie 
sileret, non est probabile, Nebucadnezarem magnum dominatorem 
gentium, post Palcestinam et Phceniciam subactam } non tentasse 

CHAP. XLIII. 8-13. 153 

-SEyyptum, et si tentaverit, tentasse frustra ; et qua parte A^gyp- 
tum occupavit, earn non vastasse et desolasse." 

It is also to be borne in mind that the conquest of Egypt by 
Nebuchadnezzar, which is denied by Hitzig and Graf as well 
as Duncker, as it formerly was by Volney, is vouched for by 
the trustworthy testimony of Berosus (in Josephus, contra A p. 
i. 19), who says that Nebuchadnezzar took Egypt (fcparfjo-ai, 
AlyviTTov, '^4pa/3ta?, k.t.\.) ; the denial, too, rests on a mere 
inference from the account given by Herodotus from the 
traditions of the priests regarding the reign of Apries (Hophra). 
If the witness of Berosus regarding the conquest of Syria and 
Phoenicia be trustworthy, why should his testimony concerning 
Egypt be unreliable ? The account of Josephus ( Ant. x. 9. 7), 
that Nebuchadnezzar, in the fifth year after the capture of 
Jerusalem, and the twenty-third year of his reign, invaded 
Egypt, killed the king (Hophra), put another in his place, and 
led captive to Babylon the Jews that had fled to Egypt, — this 
account will not admit of being brought forward (as has often 
been attempted, and anew, of late, by Mrc. von Niebuhr, 
Assur und Babel, S. 215) as sufficient testimony for a successful 
campaign carried on by Nebuchadnezzar against Egypt during 
the siege of Tyre. The difficulty in the way of proving that 
such a campaign actually took place is not so much that the 
death of Hophra in battle with Nebuchadnezzar, or his execu- 
tion afterwards, contradicts all authenticated history, as that the 
particular statements of Josephus regarding this campaign, 
both as to the date and the carrying away to Babylon of the Jews 
that had fled to Egypt, are simply conclusions drawn from a 
combination of Jer. xliii. 8-13 and xliv. 30 with Jer. lii. 20; 
besides, the execution of King Hophra by Nebuchadnezzar is 
foretold neither by Jeremiah nor by Ezekiel. Ezekiel, in chap, 
xxix.-xxxii., merely predicts the decline of the Egyptian influ- 
ence, the breaking of the arm of Pharaoh, i.e. of his military 
power, and his fall into Sheol ; but he does it in so ideal a 
manner, that even the words of xxx. 13, u there shall be no more 
a prince out of the land of Egypt," — i.e. Egypt shall lose all her 
princes, just as her idols have been destroyed, — even these words 
cannot well be applied to the execution of Pharaoh-Hophra 
But Jeremiah, in chap, xliii. and in xlvi. 13 ff., predicts merelj 


the downfall of the pride and power of Pharaoh, and the con- 
quest, devastation, and spoiling of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar. 
And even in the words of xliv. 30, "I (Jahveh) will deliver 
Pharaoh-Hophra into the hand of his enemies, and of those 
who seek his life, just as I delivered Zedekiah the king of 
Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar his enemy, and of 
those who sought after his life," there is nothing definitely 
stated regarding Hophra's being executed by Nebuchadnezzar, 
or killed in battle with him. Such a reference cannot be made 
out from the words, even though we lay no emphasis on the 
plural "his enemies," in contrast with the expression "Nebu- 
chadnezzar his enemy," and, according to xlvi. 26, understand 
Nebuchadnezzar and his servants as being included under the 
" enemies ; " for certainly Zedekiah was not killed by Nebu- 
chadnezzar, but merely taken prisoner and carried to Babylon. 
Besides, there was no need of special proof that the prophecies 
of Jeremiah regarding Egypt declare much more important 
matters than merely an expedition of Chaldean soldiers to 
Egypt, as well as the plunder of some cities and the carrying 
away of the Jews who resided there ; and that, in chap, xliv., 
what the Jews who went to Egypt against the will of God are 
threatened with, is not transportation to Babylon, but destruction 
in Egypt by sword, hunger, and pestilence, until only a few 
individuals shall escape, and these shall return to Judah (xliv. 
14, 27, 28). 

But if we compare with the prophecy of Jeremiah in chap, 
xliii. 8-13, and in xlvi. 13-26, that of Ezekiel in chap. xxix. 
17-21, which was uttered or composed in the twenty-seventh 
year of the captivity of Jehoiachin, i.e. in the year 573, 
it becomes abundantly evident that Nebuchadnezzar cannot 
have invaded and conquered Egypt before that year, and not 
till after the fall of Tyre, which immediately ensued. And 
that this was actually the case, is put beyond doubt by the 
statement of Herodotus, ii. 161 ff., regarding Apries, that he 
lost his throne and his life in consequence of being defeated in 
battle with the Cyrenians. What Herodotus assigns as the 
cause of the fall of Apries, is insufficient to account for the 
unhappy end of this king. Herodotus himself states, ii. 169, 
that the Egyptians were filled with the most intense hatred 

CHAP. XLIV. 155 

against Apries ; the monuments also bear witness to this fact. 
This bitter feeling must have had a deeper source than merely 
the unsuccessful issue of a war with Cyrene; it receives its 
explanation only when we find that Apries, by his attempts 
against Nebuchadnezzar, had deserved and brought on the 
subjugation of Egypt by the king of Babylon ; cf. Havernick 
on Ezekiel, p. 500. By sending an auxiliary army to Judah, 
for the purpose of driving back the Chaldeans, and by forming 
an expedition to Cyprus and the cities of Phoenicia, which was 
evidently directed against the establishment of the Chaldean 
power in Phoenicia, Apries had so provoked the king of Babylon, 
that the latter, immediately after the subjugation of Tyre, entered 
on the campaign against Egypt, which he invaded, subdued, and 
spoiled, without, however, killing the king ; him he preferred 
allowing to rule on, but as his vassal, and under the promise 
that he would recognise his authority and pay tribute, just as 
had been done with King Jehoiakim when Jerusalem was first 
taken. If all this actually took place (which we may well 
assume), Apries might probably have begun another war against 
Cyrene, after the Chaldeans had departed, in the hope of pro- 
curing some small compensation to the Egyptians for the defeat 
they had suffered from the Chaldeans, by subduing that pro- 
vince in the west ; in this war the king might have lost his life, 
as Herodotus relates, through want of success in his attempt. 
In this way, the account of Herodotus regarding the death of 
Apries quite agrees with the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchad- 
nezzar. But that Herodotus makes no mention of the conquest 
of Egypt, is sufficiently accounted for when we remember that 
he derived his information from the stories of the priests, who 
carefully omitted all mention of a struggle between Egypt and 
the power of Chaldea, since this had ended in the humiliation of 
Egypt ; hence also mention was made only of the victories and 
mighty deeds of Necho II., while his defeat at Carchemish was 
passed over in silence. 

Chap. xliv. Warning against Idolatry, and Intimation of its 


When the Jews had settled down in Egypt in different 
places, they betook themselves zealously to the worship of the 


queen of heaven ; to this they were probably induced by the 
example of the heathen round about them, and by the vain 
expectation of thereby promoting their interests as members of 
the community (cf. ver. 17 ff.). Accordingly, when all the 
people who were living here and there through the country 
had assembled in Upper Egypt (ver. 15) for the celebration 
of a festival, the prophet seized the opportunity of setting 
before them, in an earnest manner, the ruinous consequences 
of their doings. First of all, he reminds them of the judg- 
ments which they and their fathers, by their continued apostasy 
from the Lord, and by their idolatry, had brought on Jeru- 
salem and Judah (vers. 2-7) ; and he warns them not to bring 
destruction on the remnant of Judah still left, by continuing 
in their idolatry (vers. 8-10). The threatening also is ex- 
pressed, that the Lord will destroy all those who marched to 
Egypt with the sword, famine, and pestilence (vers. 11-14). 
But the whole assembly declare to him that they will not obey 
his word, but persist in worshipping the queen of heaven ; 
alleging that their fathers prospered so long as they honoured 
her, and war and famine had come on them only after they 
ceased to do so (vers. 15-19). Jeremiah refutes this false 
notion (vers. 20-23), and once more solemnly announces to 
them the sentence of destruction by sword and famine in 
Egypt. As a sign that the Lord will keep His word, he finally 
predicts that King Hophra shall be delivered into the hand of 

Ver. 1. " The word that came to Jeremiah regarding all the 
Jews who were living in the land of Egypt, who dwelt in 
Migclol, in Tahpanhes, in Noph, and in the land of Pathros." 
From this heading we perceive that those who (according to 
chap, xliii.) had gone to Egypt, had settled there in various parts 
of the country, and that the following denunciations, which 
at the same time form his last prophecy, were uttered a long 
time after that which is given in xliii. 8-13 as having been 
delivered at Tahpanhes. The date of it cannot, indeed, be 
determined exactly. From the threatening that King Hophra 
shall be delivered over to the power of Nebuchadnezzar (vers. 
24-30), only this much is clear, that Egypt was not yet 
occupied by the Chaldeans, which, as we have shown above 

CHAP. XLIV. 2-14. 157 

(p. 154), did not take place before the year 572. But it by no 
means follows from this that Jeremiah did not utter these words 
of threatening till shortly before this event. He may have 
done so even five or ten years before, in the period between 
585 and 580, as we have already observed on p. 17, vol. i. The 
Jews had settled down, not merely in the two northern frontier 
towns, Migdol (i.e. Magdolo, May&wXos, according to the Itiner. 
Anton., twelve Roman miles from Pelusium, Copt. Meschtol, 
Egypt. Maktr, the most northerly place in Egypt ; see on 
Ezek. xxix. 10) and Tahpanhes {i.e. Daphne, see on xliii. 7), 
but also in more inland places, in Noph (i.e. Memphis, see on 
ii. 16) and the land of Pathros (LXX. IlaOovpns, Egypt. 
Petores, i.e. Southland, viz. Upper Egypt, the 7"hebais of the 
Greeks and Romans ; see on Ezek. xxix. 14). The word of 
the Lord runs as follows : — 

Vers. 2-14. The warning and threatening. — u Thus saith 
Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel : Ye yourselves have seen 
all the evil which I have brought on Jerusalem, and on all the 
cities of Judah ; and, behold, they are a desolation this day, 
and there is no inhabitant in them ; Ver. 3. Because of their 
wickedness which they have done, by provoking me through 
going to burn incense, (and) to serve other gods whom they 
knew not, (neither) they (nor) ye, nor your fathers. Ver. 4. 
And I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early 
and sending (them), to say, Do not this abominable thing which 
I hate. Ver. 5. But they did not hear, nor inclined their ear 
to turn from their wickedness, by not burning incense to other 
gods. Ver. 6. Therefore my wrath and mine anger poured 
itself out, and burned up the cities of Judah and the streets 
of Jerusalem ; so that they have become a desolation and a 
waste, as at this day. Ver. 7. Now therefore thus saith 
Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Why do ye great evil 
against your souls, by cutting of from yourselves man and 
woman, child and suckling, out of the midst of Judah, so 
leaving no remnant for yourselves ; Ver. 8. Through provoking 
me by the works of your hands, burning incense to other gods 
in the land of Egypt, whither ye have gone to sojourn, that ye 
might bring destruction on yourselves, and that ye might 
become a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the 


earth? Ver. 9. Have ye forgotten the evil deeds of your 
fathers, and the evil deeds of the kings of Judah, and the evil 
deeds of their wives, and your own evil deeds, and the evil deeds 
of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and 
on the streets of Jerusalem ? Ver. 10. They have not been 
contrite to this day, and are not afraid, nor do they walk in my 
law, and in my statutes, which I have set before you and before 
your fathers. Ver. 11. Therefore thus saith Jahveh of hosts, 
the God of Israel : Behold, I will set my face against you for 
evil, and to cut off all Judah. Ver. 12. And I will take the 
remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go to the land of 
Egypt in order to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed; 
in the land of Egypt shall they fall, by sword and famine shall 
they be consumed ; small and great, by sword and famine shall 
they die, and they shall become an execration and an astonish- 
ment, and a curse and a reproach. Ver. 13. And I will punish 
those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I punished Jerusalem, 
by sword, and famine, and pestilence. Ver. 14. There shall not 
be one escaped or left to the remnant of Judah that came 
to sojourn there in the land of Egypt, so as to return to the 
land of Judah, whither they long to return and dwell ; for 
they shall not return except [as] escaped ones." 

In order to make an impression on the people by his warn- 
ing against idolatry, Jeremiah begins his address with a refer- 
ence to the great calamity which the fathers have brought on 
the kingdom of Judah through their continued idolatry (vers. 
2-6). " Ye have seen all the evil," etc. ; all the cities are laid 
waste and depopulated, because their inhabitants have roused 
the aneer of the Lord, and have not let themselves be diS- 
suaded by the admonitions of the prophets whom God has 
sent. "This day," i.e. now, at present. On ver. 3, cf. xi. 17, 
xix. 4, xxxii. 32, etc. ; and as to the meaning of ")t?i?, see on 
i. 16. In ver. 36 the address becomes more direct, through 
the change into the second person, " ye ; " the audience then 
present only continue these sins of their fathers. On ver. 4, 
cf. vii. 25, xxv. 4, etc. riwrt rnjmn nn-n, " the thing of this 
abomination," which is equivalent to " this abominable idol- 
atry." i^n serves to render the subject more prominent, as 
in Judg. xix. 24. On ver. 6, cf. xlii. 18, vii. 20. The wrath 

CHAP XLIV. 2-14. 159 

of God burned in the cities, for the fire of destruction was a 
manifestation of the divine wrath. As to W Di>3 } see on 
xi. 5. In vers. 7-10 follows the application of what has been 
said to those present, who are asked how they come to continue 
in the old sins, to their own destruction, " doing evil in regard 
to your souls," i.e. for the injury, destruction of your souls, 
yourself; cf. xxvi. 19, where '3"?J7 stands for r J"?K. This is 
immediately afterwards more exactly specified by 'U1 1*1307, to 
exterminate the whole of you, without an exception. As to 
the enumeration " man and woman," etc., cf. 1 Sam. xv. 3, 
xxii. 19. The infs. *JD*$on? and iBi?? are used as gerundives : 
" inasmuch as (through this that) ye provoke me." For the 
expression "the works of your hands," see on i. 16. In ver. 8, 
an object must be supplied from ver. 7 for the expression 
D37 JVian $07 ; for, to take 03? (with Hitzig) in a reflexive 
sense is a very harsh construction. On 'JJ1 *Y^P? f cf. xlii. 

18, xxvi. 6. The answer to the question now asked follows 
in vers. 9 and 10, in the form of the further question, whether 
they have forgotten those former sins, and that these sins 
have been the cause of the evil which has befallen the land. 
The interrogation expresses the reproach that they have been 
able to forget both, as is evidenced by their continuance in sin. 
In ver. 9, the expression " the evil deeds of his wives " (VE>3) is 
remarkable. Hitzig and Nagelsbach, following Kimchi, refer 
the suffix to the kings, since there was always but one king at 
a time. But this is an unnatural explanation ; the suffix refers 
to Judah as a nation, and is used in order to comprehend the 
wives of the fathers and of the kings together. It is quite 
arbitrary in Ewald and Graf to change VCW to VHtJ>, following 
the LXX. twv ap^ovTcov v/xwv ; for these translators have 
mutilated the text by the omission of the following M'Tisn riNI. 
VE>3 nijn is not merely conserved, but even required, by riw 
D -?"'^r l HJn. But the prophet gives special prominence to the 
evil deeds of the wives, since it was they who were most 
zealous in worshipping the queen of heaven ; cf. vers. 15 and 

19. *K2fr N?, " they have not been crushed," viz. by repentance 
and sorrow for these sins* The transition to the third person 
is not merely accounted for by the fact that the subject treated 
of is the sins of the fathers and of the present generation, — for, 


as is shown by the expression " till this day," the prophet has 
chiefly his own contemporaries in view ; but he speaks of these 
in the third person, to signify the indignation with which he 
turns away from men so difficult to reform. On the expres- 
sion, " they had not walked in my law," cf. xxvi. 4, ix. 12. 
For this the Lord will punish them severely, vers. 11-14. All 
those who have fled to Egypt, with the intention of remaining 
there, will be quite exterminated. On " Behold, I will set my 
face," etc., cf. xxi. 10. " For evil " is more exactly defined by 
" to cut off all Judah," i.e. those of Judah who are in Egypt, 
not those who are in Babylon. This limitation of the words 
" all Judah " is necessarily required by the context, and is 
plainly expressed in ver. 12, where "Judah" is specified as 
" the remnant of Judah that were determined to go to Egypt." 
Vinj?7 has the meaning of taking away, as in xv. 15. bb M3JTI 
are to be taken by themselves ; and DpVP 1*^3, as is shown by 
the accents, is to be attached to what follows, on which, too, 
the emphasis is placed ; in like manner, 'W 2Trm are to be 
attached to the succeeding verb. The arrangement of the 
words, like the accumulation of sentences all expressing the 
same meaning, reveals the spirit of the address in which God 
• vents His wrath. On "they shall become an execration," etc., 
see xlii. 18. In vers. 13, 14, the threatened extermination is 
further set forth. Those who dwell in Egypt shall be punished 
with sword, famine, and plague, like Jerusalem. The inhabit- 
ants of Egypt generally are meant ; and by the judgment 
which is to fall on that country, the remnant of Judah there 
shall be so completely destroyed, that none shall escape. The 
leading member of the sentence is continued by ^£'71, "and 
that they should return to the land of Judah, after which their 
soul longs, that they may live there." A reason is further 
assigned, and with this the address, reduced within becoming 
limits, concludes: "for there shall return none except (p$ ^) 
fugitives," i.e. except a few individual fugitives who shall come 
back. This last clause shows that we are not to understand 
the declaration " none shall escape " in the strictest meaning of 
the words. Those who escape and return to Judah shall be 
so few, in comparison with those who shall perish in Egypt, 
as to be quite inconsiderable. Cf. the like instance of a 

CHAP. XLIV. 15-19. 161 

seeming contradiction in vers. 27, 28. On DBfcrJlK Mto cf. 

O ' T • " T ' 

xxii. 27. 

Vers. 15-19. The answer of the people to this threatening 
address. — Ver. 15. "Then all the men who knew that their 
wives burned incense to other gods, and all the women stand- 
ing [there], a great multitude, and all the people who dwelt in 
the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, 
Ver. 1 6. [As for] the word which thou hast spoken unto us in 
the name of Jahveh, we will not hearken unto thee : Ver. 17. 
But we will certainly perform every word that has proceeded 
out of our own mouth, by burning incense to the queen of 
heaven, and pouring out libations to her, just as we have done, 
we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of 
Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem ; and we were filled 
with bread, and became prosperous, and saw no evil. Ver. 18. 
But since we ceased to offer incense to the queen of heaven, 
and to pour out libations to her, we have been in want of 
everything, and are consumed by sword and famine. Ver. 19. 
And when we [women] have been burning incense to the 
queen of heaven, and poured out libations to her, have we 
made cakes to her without our husbands, making an image 
of her, and offering libations to her ? " To the word of the 
prophet the men and women oppose their pretended experi- 
ence, that the adoration of the queen of heaven has brought 
them comfort and prosperity, while the neglect of this worship, 
on the other hand, has brought want and misfortune. No 
doubt they inferred this, by the argument post hoc, ergo propter 
hoc, from the fact that, after idolatry had been rooted out by 
Josiah, adversity had befallen the land of Judah ; while, up 
till that time, the kingdom of Judah had been independent, 
and, for more than a century before, had been spared the suf- 
fering of misfortune. Thus, through their blindness, peculiar 
to the natural man, they had overlooked the minor transient 
evils with which the Lord visits His people when they sin. Not 
till near the end of Josiah's reign did misfortune fall on Judah : 
this was when the Egyptian army, under Pharaoh-Necho, 
marched through Palestine ; Josiah was slain in the battle he 
had lost, the land was laid waste by the enemy, and its in- 
habitants perished by sword and famine. In ver. 15, those 



who are represented speaking are all the men who knew of 
their wives' idolatry, i.e. who permitted it, and all the women, 
" a great company," i.e. gathered together in great numbers, 
and all the rest of the people who lived in Egypt. The speci- 
fication " in Pathros " is not in apposition to the words " in the 
land of Egypt," but belongs to the verb WjM ; it tells where 
the gathering took place, viz. in a district of Upper Egypt. 
From the presence of a large number of women, we may con- 
clude that the assembly was a festival in honour of the queen 
of heaven. The former portion of ver. 16 forms an absolute 
clause, from "i^l 1 to \\ DK>3, " as regards the word which . . . 
we will not listen to thee," i.e. with regard to this word we obey 
thee not. The expression, " the word which has gone forth 
out of our mouth," points to the uttering of vows : cf. Num. 
xxx. 3, 13 ; Deut. xxiii. 24. 'til "\f N WtT^a means " all that 
we have uttered as a vow," every vow to offer incense, etc., i.e. 
to present meat and drink offerings to the queen of heaven, — 
that shall we keep, fulfil, as we and our fathers have done in 
the land of Judah. On this mode of worship, cf. vii. 17 f., and 
the remarks there made. "And we were satisfied with bread," 
i.e. in consequence of this worship we had amply sufficient food. 
D^iD, "good," well, comfortable; cf. xxii. 16. T« p, "from 
that time " = since, ^pn is for ^fori, from DE>n ? as in Num. 
xvii. 28 ; cf. Ewald, § 197, a. To this statement on the part 
of the men, the women further add, ver. 19, that they do not 
engage in this sacrificial worship or prepare the sacrificial 
cakes without their husbands, i.e. without their knowledge and 
approval. This is put forward by the women in the way of 
self-vindication ; for, according to the law, Num. xxx. 9 ff., 
the husband could annul, i.e. declare not binding, any vow 
which had been made by his wife without his knowledge. 
Although it is women who are speaking, the masc. E^tipD is 
used as being the gender which most commonly occurs ; it also 
pretty often stands for the feminine. The inf. constr. ^>]^ 
(with p) is here employed, in conformity with later usage, 
instead of the inf. abs., for the finite verb, by way of continua- 
tion ; cf. Ewald, § 351, c, where, however, many passages 
have been set down as falling under this rule that demand a 
different explanation. The meaning of n 2^-f is disputed ; the 

CHAP. XLIV. 20-23. 1G3 

final n is a suffix, written with Raphe, though Mappik also 
occurs in some mss. The Hiphil of this verb is found else- 
where only in Ps. lxxviii. 40, and there in the signification of 
vexing, grieving, like the Piel in Isa. lxiii. 10, Ps. Ivi. 6. 
Ewald translates " in order to move her," i.e. make her well- 
disposed, — but quite arbitrarily, for to provoke is the very 
opposite of rendering propitious. The verb 2.W also signifies 
" to form, shape," Job x. 8 ; and in this sense the Hiphil is 
used here, " in order to put them into shape," i.e. to form the 
moon-goddess (queen of heaven) in or on the sacrificial cakes 
(Kimchi, Raschi, Dahler, Maurer, Graf, etc.). The sacrificial 
cakes (B^l, see on vii. 18) probably had the form of a crescent, 
or even of the full moon, like the aekrjvat of the Greeks, which 
used to be offered in Athens at the time of the full moon in the 
month of Munychion, to Artemis, as goddess of the moon ; cf. 
Hermann, gottesdienslliche Alterthilmer der Griechen, 2 Ausg. 
S. 146, Anm. 13, u. S. 414. 

Vers. 20-23. Refutation of these statements of the people. — 
Ver. 20. " And Jeremiah spake to all the people, to the men 
and women, and to all the people that had given him answer, 
saying, Ver. 21. Did not the incense-burning which ye per- 
formed in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, 
ye and your fathers, your kings and your princes, and the 
people of the land, — did not Jahveh remember them, and did it 
not arise in His mind ? Ver. 22. And Jahveh could no longer 
endure it, because of the wickedness of your deeds, because of 
the abominations which ye committed ; thus your land became 
a desolation, and a waste, and a curse, without an inhabitant, 
as at this day. Ver. 23. Because ye burned incense and sinned 
against Jahveh, and did not hearken to the voice of Jahveh, 
and in His law, in His statutes, and in His testimonies ye walked 
not ; therefore this evil hath befallen you, as at this day." 
Jeremiah answers them that their idol-worship, by which they 
have provoked the Lord their God, is the very cause of the 
misfortune that has befallen them, because God could no 
longer endure this abomination which they would not forsake. 
"itsipn is a noun, "the burning of incense," which includes, 
besides, all the other elements of idolatrous worship ; hence 
the word is resumed, at the close, under the plur. B^riN, " these 


things." npyril is 3d pers.'sing. neut., lit. " it has come into His 
mind," i.e. He has carefully considered it, and that in the way 
of punishment, for He could no longer endure such abomina- 
tion. The imperf. 73V 1 is used for the historic tense (imperf. 
with 1 consec), because the 1 would necessarily be separated 
from the verb by the i& ; and it is employed instead of the 
perfect, which we would be inclined to expect after the pre- 
ceding "I3T, since that which is treated of is something that 
endures for a considerable time ; cf. Ewald, § 346, b. On the 
expression u because of the evil," etc., cf. xxi. 12, iv. 4, etc. ; 
on the last clause in ver. 22, cf. vers. 6 and 12. — Ver. 23 is an 
emphatic and brief repetition of what has already been said. 
nfrOi? is for n ^">i?, as in Deut. xxxi. 29 : cf. Gesenius, § 74, 
note 1 ; Ewald, § 194, b. 

Vers. 24-30. Announcement of the punishment for this 

idolatry. — Ver. 24. a And Jeremiah said unto all the people, 

and unto all the women, Hear the word of Jahveh, all of 

Judah that are in the land of Egypt ; Ver. 25. Thus saith 

Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel : Ye and your wives have 

both spoken with your mouth, and fulfilled it with your hands, 

saying, We will assuredly perform our vows which we have 

vowed, by burning incense to the queen of heaven, and by 

pouring out libations to her : ye will by all means perform 

your vows, and carry out your vows. Ver. 26. Therefore 

hear the word of Jahveh, all Judah that dwell in the land of 

Egypt : Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith Jahveh, 

truly my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any 

man of Judah, saying, * As the Lord Jahveh liveth,' in all the 

land of Egypt. Ver. 27. Behold, I will watch over them for 

evil, and not for good ; and all the men of Judah that are in 

the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by 

famine, till they are annihilated. Ver. 28. And those who 

escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt to 

the land of Judah, a small number ; and all the remnant of 

Judah, that went to the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall 

know whose word shall stand, mine or theirs. Ver. 29. And 

this shall be the sign to you, saith Jahveh, that I will punish 

you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely 

rise up against you for evil : Ver. 30. Thus hath Jahveh 

CHAP. XLIV. 24-30. 165 

spoken, Behold, I will give Pharaoh-Hophra into the hand of 
his enemies, and into the hand of those who seek his life, just 
as I have given Zedekiah the king of Judah into the hand of 
Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, who was his enemy, and 
sought his life." 

After refuting the false assertion of the people, Jeremiah 
once more announces to them, on behalf of God, in the most 
solemn manner, the punishment of extermination by sword and 
famine in Egypt ; this he does for the purpose of giving the 
greatest possible emphasis to his warning against persevering 
in idolatry. For substance, this announcement is similar to 
that of vers. 11-14, but the expression is stronger. Even in 
the summary account of their offences, ver. 25, the words are 
so chosen and arranged as to bring out clearly the determina- 
tion of the people to persevere in worshipping the queen of 
heaven. " As for you and your wives, ye have spoken with 
your mouth and fulfilled it with your hand" (on the Vav consec. 
attached to nyi2nn, cf. Ewald, § 344, b) 7 i.e. ye have uttered vows 
and then carried them out ; for ye say, We must keep the vows 
that we have vowed. It is to be observed that the verbs njiatn 
and in the concluding portion nip^ipn and rWE'lfflj are feminine, 
since the address chiefly applies to the wives, who clung most 
tenaciously to idolatry. In the clause 'M ^p^ipri D^n, " ye will 
make your vows and perform them," there is unmistakeable irony, 
in which the reference is to the wilfulness of the people in this 
idolatry. This ideXoOprja-Keia is shown by the inf. abs. ti^, 
which strengthens rrj^pn. " To establish vows," i.e. to make 
them, was not a thing commanded, but left to one's free deter- 
mination. Hence, also, no appeal to the maxim that vows 
which have been made or uttered must be fulfilled, can justify 
the making of the vows. The form nao^pn for nmpn is an 

O t ; ■ t t ; •• t 

unusual one ; and the * which the Hirik takes after it is occa- 
sioned by the form ^i?. 1 ?; cf. Ewald, § 196, c. — The announcement 
of the punishment is introduced by a solemn oath on the part of 
God. Jahveh swears by His great name, i.e. as the one who 
has shown Himself God by His mighty deeds — who has the 
power of keeping His word. The name is, of course, only a 
manifestation of His existence. DK as a particle used in swear- 
ing = certainly not. His name shall no more be named in the 


mouth of any Jew in the land of Egypt, i.e. be used in assevera- 
tions, because all the Jews in Egypt shall be exterminated. On 
the expression, " Behold, I will watch over them," etc., cf . xxxi. 
28 and xxi. 10. In ver. 28, it is more exactly stated that only 
a few individuals shall escape the sword and return to Judah ; 
thus, no one shall remain behind in Egypt. By this judgment, 
all the remnant of Judah that went to Egypt shall find out 
whose word — Jahveh's or theirs — will endure, i.e. prove true. 
B™ 51 ^1?® properly depends on "O^ " the word from me or from 
them" (the people). — Ver. 29. In confirmation of this threaten- 
ing, the Lord gives them another sign which, when it is fulfilled, 
will let them know that the destruction announced to them shall 
certainly befall them. The token consists in the giving up of 
King Hophra into the hand of his enemies. As certainly as 
this shall take place, so certainly shall the extermination of the 
Jews in Egypt ensue. The name JPSn is rendered OvdcfrpLs in 
Manetho, in the classical writers "'Airplr)?, Apries, who, accord- 
ing to Herodotus (ii. 161), reigned twenty-five years, but 
nineteen according to Manetho (cf. Boeckh, Manetho, etc., p. 
341 ff.). His death took place in the year 570 B.C. This date 
is reached by a comparison of the following facts : — Cambyses 
conquered Egypt in the year 525 ; and in the preceding year 
Amasis had died, after a reign of forty- four years (Herod, iii. 
10). Hence Amasis — who took Apries prisoner, and gave 
him up to the common people, who killed him (Herod, ii. 
161-163, 169)— must have commenced his reign in the year 
570. On the death of Apries, or Hophra, cf. the explanation 
given on p. 154 f ., where we have shown that the words, " I will 
give him into the hand of his enemies, and of those who seek his 
life," when compared with what is said of Zedekiah, li into the 
hand of Nebuchadnezzar his enemy," do not require us to 
assume that Hophra was killed by Nebuchadnezzar, and can 
very well be harmonized with the notice of Herodotus regarding 
the death of this king. 

Hitzig and Graf have taken objection to this sign given by 
Jeremiah, and regard vers. 29, 30 as a spurious vaticinium ex 
eventu, the work of another hand. The reasons they urge are, 
that it is scarcely possible Jeremiah could have lived till 570 ; 
that ver. 29 f. would be the only place where Jeremiah offered 

CHAP. XLIV. 24-30. 1 67 

such a criterion ; and that, even as it is, these verses contain 
nothing original, but, by their stiff and lifeless parallelism, are 
easily seen to be an artificial conclusion. Of these three argu- 
ments, the last can prove nothing, since it is merely a subjective 
opinion on an aesthetic point. The second, again, rather declares 
for than against the genuineness. For " if it were not Jere- 
miah's usual, elsewhere, to offer some criterion, then such an 
interpolation would have been all the more carefully avoided " 
(Nagelsbach). Of course we do not find any other signs of this 
kind in Jeremiah ; but it does not follow from this that he 
could not offer such a thing in a special case. Yet the ground 
taken up by Nagelsbach, as sufficient to establish this position, 
seems quite untenable, viz. that the announcement of the fate 
in store for the king must have been the answer of the true God 
to the presumptuous boast of Apries, mentioned by Herodotus, 
" that even God could not dethrone him, so firmly did he think 
he was established : " this view of the matter seems too remote 
from the object of Jeremiah's address. And finally, the first- 
named objection receives importance only on the supposition 
that " an event which was intended to serve as rriX, a sirm or 
criterion, must be something that was to happen immediately, 
or within a brief appointed period of time, so that a person 
might be able, from the occurrence of the one, to conclude that 
what had been foretold about a later period would as certainly 
take place" (Graf). But there are no sufficient grounds for 
this hypothesis. If no definite time be fixed for the occurrence 
of this sign, then it may not appear till a considerable time 
afterwards, and yet be a pledge for the occurrence of what was 
predicted for a still later period. That Jeremiah lived till the 
year 570 is certainly not inconceivable, but it is not likely that 
he uttered the prophecy now before us at the advanced age of 
nearly eighty years. Now, if his address is allowed to be a real 
prophecy, and not a mere vaticiniitm ex eventu, as Hitzig, look- 
ing from his dogmatic standpoint, considers it, then it must 
have been uttered before the year 570 ; but whether this was 
two, or five, or ten years before, makes no material difference. 
The address itself contains nothing to justify the assumption of 
Graf, that it is closely connected with the prophecy in xliii. 
8-13, and with the warning against the migration into Egypt, 


chap. xlii. That the Jews spoken of had not been long in 
Egypt, cannot be inferred from vers. 8, 12, and 18 ; on the 
contrary, the fact that they had settled down in different parts 
of Egypt, and had assembled at Pathros for a festival, shows 
that they had been living there for a considerable time before. 
Nor does it follow, from the statement in ver. 14 that they 
longed to return to Judah, that they had gone to Egypt some 
months before. The desire to return into the land of their 
fathers remains, in a measure, in the heart of the Jew even at 
the present day. After all, then, no valid reason can be assigned 
for doubting the genuineness of these verses. 

On the fulfilment of these threatening Nacjelsbach remarks : 
" Every one must be struck on finding that, in chap, xliv., the 
extermination of the Jews who dwelt in Egypt is predicted ; 
while some centuries later, the Jews in Egypt were very 
numerous, and that country formed a central point for the 
Jewish exiles (cf. Herzog, Real-Encycl. xvii. S. 285). Alexander 
the Great found so many Jews in Egypt, that he peopled with 
Jews, in great measure, the city he had founded and called 
after himself (cf. Herzog, i. S. 235). How did these Jews get to 
Egypt? Whence the great number of Jews whom Alexander 
found already in Egypt ? I am inclined to think that we must 
consider them, for the most part, as the descendants of those 
who had come into the country with Jeremiah. But, according 
to this view of the matter, Jeremiah's prophecy has not been 
fulfilled." Na^elsbach therefore thinks we must assume that 
idolatrous worship, through time, almost entirely ceased among 
the exiled Jews in Egypt as it did among those in Babylon, and 
that the Lord then, in return, as regards the penitents, repented 
of the evil which He had spoken against them (xxvi. 13, 19). 
But this whole explanation is fundamentally wrong, since the 
assertion, that Alexander the Great found so many Jews in 
Egypt, that with them mainly he peopled the city of Alexandria 
which he had founded, is contrary to historic testimony. In 
Herzog (Real-Encycl. i. S. 235), to which Nagelsbach refers for 
proof on the point, nothing of the kind is to be found, but 
rather the opposite, viz. the following : " Soon after the founda- 
tion of Alexandria by Alexander the Great, this city became not 
merely the centre of Jewish Hellenism in Egypt, but generally 

CHAP. XLIV. 24-30. 169 

speaking the place of union between Oriental and Occidental 
Jews. The external condition of the Jews of Alexandria must, 
on the whole, be characterized as highly prosperous. The first 
Jewish settlers had, indeed, been compelled by Alexander the 
Great to take up their residence in the city (Josephus, Antt. 
xv. 3. 1) ; so, too, were other Jews, by Ptolemy I. or Lagi (ibid. 
xii. 2. 4). But both of these monarchs granted them the same 
rights and privileges as the Macedonians, including Greek 
citizenship ; and in consequence of the extremely advantageous 
position of the city, it speedily increased in importance. A still 
larger number, therefore, soon went thither of their own accord, 
and adopted the Greek language." In this account, the quota- 
tion from Josephus, Antt. xv. 3. 1, is certainly incorrect; for 
neither is there in that passage any testimony borne to the 
measures attributed to Alexander, nor are there any other 
historical testimonies given from antiquity. But as little can 
we find any proofs that Alexander the Great found so many 
Jews in Egypt that he could, to a large extent, people with 
them the city he had founded. It is merely testified by 
Josephus (Antt. xi. 8. 5), and by Hecatseus in Josephus 
(contra Ap. i. 22 ; p. 457, ed. Haverc), that Alexander had 
Jewish soldiers in his army ; it is further evident, from a notice 
in Josephus, de bell. Jud. ii. 18. 7, contra Ap. ii. 4 (cf. Curtius 
Rufus, iv. 8), that the newly founded city, even under Alexan- 
der, immediately after it was commenced, and still more under 
Ptolemy Lagi (cf. Josephus, Antt. xii. 1, and Hecatasus in Jos. 
contra Ap. i. 22, p. 455), attracted a constantly increasing 
multitude of Jewish immigrants. This same Ptolemy, after 
having subdued Phoenicia and Ccele-Syria in the year 320, and 
taken Jerusalem also, it would seem, by a stratagem on a 
Sabbath day, transported many captives and hostages out of 
the whole country into Egypt ; many, too, must have been sold 
at that time as slaves to the inhabitants of such a wealthy 
country as Egypt : see a statement in the book of Aristeas, at 
the end of Havercamp's edition of Josephus, ii. p. 104. In the 
same place, and in Josephus' Antt. xii. 1, Ptolemy is said to 
have armed 30,000 Jewish soldiers, placed them as garrisons in 
the fortresses, and granted them all the rights of Macedonian 
citizens (laoiroXcjela). Ewald well says, History of the People 


of Israel, vol. iv. of second edition, p. 254 : " When we further 
take into consideration, that, in addition to all other similar 
disasters which had previously befallen them, many Jews were 
removed to Egypt (especially by Ochus, after Egypt had been 
reconquered), we can easily explain how Ptolemy Philadelphus 
can be said to have liberated 100,000 Egyptian Jews. Aristeas' 
Book, p. 105." This much, at least, is proved by these various ' 
notices, — that, in order to understand how such a vast increase 
took place in the number of the Jews in Egypt, we do not need 
to regard them as the descendants of those who removed thither 
with Jeremiah, and so to question the fulfilment of the prophecy 
now before us. Jeremiah does not, of course, threaten with 
destruction all those Jews who live in Egypt, but only those who 
at that time went thither against the divine will, and there 
persevered in their idolatry. We do not know how great 
may have been the number of these immigrants, but they could 
hardly exceed two thousand, — perhaps, indeed, there were not 
so many. All these, as had been foretold them, may have 
perished in the conquest of Egypt by the Chaldeans, and after- 
wards, through the sword, famine, and pestilence ; for the 
myriads of Jews in Egypt at the time of Ptolemy Lagi could 
easily have removed thither during the period of 250 years 
intermediate between the immigration in Jeremiah's time and 
the foundation of Alexandria, partly as prisoners and slaves, 
partly through voluntary settlement. 

Chap. xlv. A Promise addressed to Baruch. 

Ver. 1. "The word which Jeremiah the prophet spake to 
Baruch the son of Neriah, when he wrote these words in a 
book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoia- 
kim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, Ver. 2. Thus 
saith Jahveh, the God of Israel, to thee, O Baruch : Ver. 3. 
Thou saidst, Woe to me now ! for Jahveh hath added sorrow to 
my pain : I am weary with sighing, and no rest do I find. 
Ver. 4. Thus shalt thou say unto him, Thus saith Jahveh : 
Behold, what I have built I will destroy, and what I have 
planted I will pluck up, and that is the whole earth. Ver. 5. 
And thou seekest great things for thyself ; seek them not : for, 

CHAP. XLV. 171 

behold, I will bring evil on all flesh, saith Jahveh; but I will give 
thy life unto thee for booty in all places whither thou shalt go." 
From the superscription in ver. 1, it appears that this word 
of God came to Baruch through Jeremiah the prophet, in the 
fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, when Baruch was 
writing out, or had written out, in a book-roll the prophecies 
that had been uttered by Jeremiah up till that time. It is 
not necessarily implied in the infin. tarns that the word of 
God came during the transcription, while he was still engaged 
in writing : it may also mean, u when he was ready with the 
writing," had cot done with it ; and Hitzig is wrong when he 
rejects as " misleading " the view which Movers takes — u when 
he had written." The writing down of the addresses of Jere- 
miah in the year mentioned is related in chap, xxxvi. ; thus the 
substance of this chapter and that of chap, xxxvi. agree. 
" These words " can only be the addresses (words) of Jeremiah 
which Baruch was then writing down. From this, Hitzig, 
Graf, Niigelsbach, and others, infer that this small piece was 
the last in the copy of Jeremiah's prophecies originally prepared 
under Jehoiakim, — if not of the first one which was intended to 
be read in the temple, at least of the second copy which was 
made after the former one had been destroyed ; and that it was 
only after the collection had been enlarged to the extent of the 
collection handed down to us, that this portion was affixed as 
an appendix to the end of the prophecies of Jeremiah which 
relate to his own country. But this inference is not a valid 
one. u These words " are the addresses of the prophet in 
general, which Baruch wrote down ; and that only those which 
were uttered up to the fourth year of Jehoiakim are intended, 
is implied, not in the demonstrative " these," but in the date 
given afterwards, by which u these " is further specified. In 
ver. 1 it is merely stated that at that time the word of God, 
given below, came to Jeremiah, and through him to Baruch, 
but not that Baruch wrote down this also on that occasion, 
and appended it to the roll of Jeremiah's prophecies which 
had been prepared at his dictation. It may have been written 
down much later, possibly not till the whole of Jeremiah's 
prophecies were collected and arranged in Egypt. Moreover, 
the position occupied by this chapter in the collection shows 


that this message of comfort to Baruch was added as an ap- 
pendix to those predictions of Jeremiah which concern Judah 
and Israel. 

The occasion for this message of comfort addressed to the 
prophet's attendant is pointed out in ver. 3, in the words which 
Baruch had uttered : " Woe to me ! for Jahveh adds sorrow to 
my pain/' Baruch felt " pain," i.e. pain of soul, at the moral 
corruption of the people, their impenitence and obduracy in 
sin and vice, just like the prophet himself, xv. 18. To this 
pain God adds sorrow, by threatening the judgment which 
shall fall on Judah for sin, and which was even then begin- 
ning to break over the land ; cf. viii. 18 ff. Baruch sighs over 
this till he is wearied, and finds no rest ; cf. Lam. v. 5. " I 
am weary with my sighing," is a reminiscence from Ps. vi. 7. 
This sorrow in addition to his pain was not caused in him for 
the first time by writing down the discourses of the prophet, 
but was rather thus freshened and increased. The answer of 
the Lord to this sighing is of a stern character, yet soothing 
for Baruch. The sentence of destruction has been determined 
on. What the Lord has built He will now destroy : it is not 
said why, since the reason was sufficiently known from the 
prophet's utterances. As to the expression in ver. 4, cf. i. 10, 
xxxi. 28. The destruction regards the whole earth, TiSl 
N" 1 '"? H^",) ft** " an d as regards the whole earth, it is it," 
namely that I destroy. On the employment of HS in intro- 
ducing the subject, cf. Dan. ix. 13, Hag. ii. 5, and Ewald, 

§ 277 d. n?0"'? does not mean " tne wnole l ana 7' but "the 
w T hole earth : " this is indubitably evident from the parallel 
" upon all flesh," ver. 5, i.e. the whole of humanity, as in xxv. 
31. The sentence is passed on all the earth, in accordance 
with the announcement made in chap. xxv. 15 ff. — Ver. 5. 
But when the judgment extends over the whole of humanity, 
an individual man cannot ask for anything great. " To seek 
for great things," i.e. to ask for things which in general or 
under certain circumstances are unattainable (cf. Ps. cxxxi. 1), 
is here used with reference to worldly prosperity. When the 
whole world is visited with judgment, an individual man must 
not make great demands, but be content with saving his life. 
This is promised to Baruch in ver. 5b, to alleviate his pain 

CHAP. XLVI.-LI. 173 

and sorrow. " To give life to any one for booty," means to 
let him escape with his life; cf. xxi. 9, xxxviii. 2, xxxix. 18. 
In the words, "in all places whither thou shalt go," it is in- 
timated that he will be obliged to avoid destruction by flight, 
but will thereby save his life. 



Like Amos, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, Jeremiah has uttered pre- 
dictions concerning a number of heathen nations, and incor- 
porated them with the collection of his prophecies regarding 
Judah and Israel. But while in Amos the utterances regarding: 
six nations round about the kingdom of God, as representatives 
of the whole heathen world, merely pave the way for announcing 
judgment on Judah and Israel, and are given for the purpose 
of teaching the necessity for judgment on the whole world that 
is opposed to God, in order that the kingdom of God may be 
advanced ; Isaiah, on the other hand, when the power of 
Assyria appeared against the kingdom of God, brought for- 
ward the thought, in a pretty long series of oracles against the 
nations, chap, xiii.-xxiii., that all kingdoms and peoples, cities 
and men of the world that had apostatized from God, and still 
continued in apostasy, shall be humbled, and compelled by 
judgments inflicted on them to seek refuge with the God of 
Israel, — to submit to Him, and to offer their gifts for the 
establishment of His kingdom ; and he concludes this announce- 
ment with an apocalyptic description of the judgment on the 
whole earth, and the consummation of the kingdom of God in 
glory, chap, xxiv.-xxvii. The object aimed at by Ezekiel and 
Jeremiah in their oracles against the heathen nations is more 
specific. Ezekiel, in view of the destruction of Jerusalem and 
the kingdom of Judah, directs a series of oracles against seven 
nations ; and in these addresses he predicts the destruction of 
the heathen world, and the fall of all heathen powers into 
Shcol, in order that these may not exult over the fall of the 
people of God, but rather, in the judgment on Israel, recognise 
the omnipotence and justice of the Lord, the Judge of -all the 
earth. And Jeremiah, in his addresses to the nations, chap. 


xlvi.-li., merely brings out more fully the execution of that 
sentence which he had already proclaimed (chap, xxv.) to all the 
peoples and kingdoms of the earth, shortly before the appear- 
ance of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon in the fourth 
year of Jehoiakim's reign. The multitude of nations and 
tribes, far and near, to which, in xxv. 17-26, he gives the cup 
of the divine wrath out of Jahveh's hand, is in chap, xlvi.— li. 
reduced to nine nations ; and these are named in such order, 
that here, as there (chap, xxv.), Egypt heads the list (chap, 
xlvi.), while Babylon closes it (chap. 1., li.). Of the rest of 
these nations, those related to Israel, viz. Moabites, Ammon- 
ites, and Edomites, have special prophecies addressed to them, 
chap, xlviii. and xlix. 1—22 ; but the others are more sum- 
marily addressed. Thus, in the oracle pronounced against the 
Philistines, the Phoenicians also (Tyre and Sidon) are threat- 
ened with extermination (chap, xlvii.) ; the many Arabian 
tribes severally named in chap. xxv. are comprehended under 
the general designations "Kedar" and "the kingdoms of 
Hazor " (xlix. 28—33) ; while the kingdoms of the north are 
represented by Damascus (xlix. 23-27), and the distant nations 
of the east (Media and Elam) by Elam, xlix. 34-39. 

Ewald, Hitzig, Graf, and Nagelsbacli would account for 
several smaller nations being taken together in one prophecy, 
on the ground that the prophet wished to make out the signifi- 
cant number seven, — just as Amos (i. 1-ii. 5) brings forward 
seven kingdoms before his address is directed to Israel, and as 
Ezekiel also has arranged his prophecies against the nations in 
accordance with the number seven. But though the number 
seven plainly appears in Amos and Ezekiel, such an assumption 
cannot be established in the case of Jeremiah. To make out 
this number, the oracles against Elam and' Babylon are viewed 
as later additions, on the ground that both of them are connected 
with the first vears of the reism of Zedekiah. But the assertion 
that the first seven belong to the fourth year of Jehoiakim 
cannot be proved. The second prophecy regarding Egypt (xlvi. 
14-28), and that against the Philistines (chap, xlvii.), contain, 
in their headings, indications of the time of composition, which 
do not point to the fourth year of Jehoiakim. With this also 
accords the remark further brought to bear on the alleged 

CHAP. XLVI.-LI. 175 

composition of those seven prophecies in the fourth year of 
Jehoiakim, — that this follows, not merely from the general 
agreement of their contents with chap. xlvi. as well as with chap, 
xxv., but also from the fact that " the same expressions which 
the prophet uses in chap. xxv. with reference to the judgment 
of all nations, are re-echoed in chap, xlvi.-xlix. 33 : e.g. cf. 
xxv. 31, 34, with xlvi. 10; xxv. 35 with xlvi. 5, 6; xxv. 29, 
31, with xlvii. 6, 7 ; and particularly xxv. 28, 29, with xlix. 12 
(Caspari on Obadiah, p. 16) : cf. also xxv. 27 with xlviii. 26 ; 
xxv. 30 with xlviii. 33 ; xxv. 34 with xlix. 20 ; xxv. 38 with 
xlix. 19 and xlvi. 16." For, of all these passages, none belongs 
to the second prophecy against Egypt (xlvi. 14-28), and to that 
against the Philistines (chap, xlvii.), except the last-quoted 
passage, xlvi. 16, in which the expression rui'H n"in agrees with 
xxv. 38, if in the latter passage we read 2^n for pin. But this 
expression is also repeated in the oracle against Babylon, 1. 16; 
so that no proof can be drawn, from a consideration of the 
language employed, to show that the prophecies against Egypt 
(xlvi. 14-28) and against the Philistines (chap, xlvii.) belong 
to the same time, as has been supposed. And the assertion that 
the prophecy against Elam forms an appendix to those which 
precede, could have been made only by a mind in a state of 
perplexity. Its position, after that against the Arabian tribes, 
and before that against Babylon, exactly agrees with the place 
occupied by Elam in xxv. 5. 1 

1 From the above statement, the propriety and correctness of arrange- 
ment among these oracles in the Hebrew text will both be aj>parent. On the 
other hand, the transposition made in the Greek text of the LXX. (already- 
referred to hi the note on p. 33 of vol. i.) is characterized, even by Ewald and 
II itzig, as "arbitrary" and "in correct." Ewald remarks : "We cannot find that 
any other principle was acted upon in their arrangement than that the large 
portion about Babylon, chap. 1. if., should be made as prominent as possible; 
the small piece about the Elamites which precedes it, xlix. 34-39, was put 
the very first, probably because it was thought desirable that, seeing they 
were then under Persian rule, what plainly referred to Persia should be 
made conspicuous; the portion directed against the Babylonians was then 
placed immediately after that referring to Egypt; that referring to the 
Philistines was then put in its place, but that referring to Edom, as being 
longer, was inserted after it ; then the three small pieces on Amnion, Kedar, 
and Damascus were put together, while the large one about Moab con- 
cluded this much-distorted series." But the assertion of Movers and Hitzig 


When we examine the contents of these nine oracles, we find 
that the one against Babylon differs from all the preceding in 
this, that it announces not merely the ruin of Babylon, but also 
the salvation of Israel ; but this peculiarity is the very point in 
which it agrees with the prophecies against Egypt, of which the 
second ends with a promise in Israel's favour (xlvi. 27, 28). 
This correspondence shows us that we cannot separate the pro- 
phecy regarding Babylon from the others, or even place it in 
contrast with them. Egypt and Babylon were, at that time, 
the two great powers of this world which sought to oppress and 
destroy the kingdom of God. The fall of one or the other of 
these powers was thus for Israel a pledge that they would be 
preserved and saved. In the remaining oracles, the reference 
to the theocracy is quite placed in the background. Only in 
that against Ammon do we meet with the complaint that it had 
taken possession of the cities of Israel, as if Israel had no heir 
(xlix. 1). In the others there is no mention made of offence 
against the theocracy, but only of pride, arrogance, and carnal 
reliance on their earthly power, for which they shall be humbled 
and punished. Further, it is to be observed that the oracles 
against Egypt, Moab, Ammon, and Elam conclude with the pro- 
mise of restoration at the end of the days, i.e. in the Messianic 
future (cf. xlvi. 26, xlviii. 47, xlix. 6 and 39). All these things 
plainly show that these oracles against the people merely repeat, 
in greater detail, the sentence already pronounced, chap, xxv., 
against all nations : God the Lord has appointed the king of 
Babylon to execute this sentence, and for this end will give 
him, in the immediate future, and till his appointed time shall 
end, supremacy over the nations ; after that, Babylon also shall 

— that this arrangement in the Greek text did not originate with the trans- 
lator, but was found in the original, and that, too (according to Movers), at 
the time of Alexander's campaign against Persia — rests on critical conjec- 
tures regarding chap. xlvi. 27, 28, which are decidedly erroneous. More- 
over, the insertion of these oracles into the middle of chap, xxv., between 
vers. 13 and 15, in the LXX. text, is due to the arbitrary conduct of the 
Alexandrine translator, as even Hitzig allows that whoever arranged the 
chapter did not find it in a fragmentary condition, but had himself dismem- 
bered it. Yet Hitzig is of opinion that these oracles originally belonged to 
somewhere about chap, xxv., — a view that rests on grounds which, in the 
note on p. 376 ff. of vol. i., we have already shown to be untenable. 

CHAP. XLVI. 1, 2. 177 

succumb to the sentence of ruin passed on it ; and for Israel, 
with the deliverance from Babylon, there will arise a state of 
prosperity in which all nations will afterwards participate. In 
giving details with regard to these announcements of judgment, 
Jeremiah throughout falls back on the expressions of the older 
prophets, just as he does in his prophecies regarding Israel and 
Judah ; these expressions he reproduces in a manner suited to 
the circumstances of his time, and still further developes. Cf. 
the collection of these references in Kueper on Jeremiah, p. 79 ff. ; 
see further the proofs given in the following commentary on each 
particular case. 

Chap. xlvi. On Egypt. 

Vers. 1 and 2. Superscriptions. — Ver. 1 contains the title 
for the whole collection of prophecies regarding the nations 
(D^ian, as contrasted with Israel, mean the heathen nations), 
chap, xlvi.— li. As to the formula, " What came as the word of 
Jahveh to Jeremiah," etc., cf. the remarks on xiv. 1. — In ver. 2, 
the special heading of this chapter begins with the word D^XO?. 
C !"]VP is subordinated by b to the general title, — properly, " with 
regard to Egypt : " cf. nxioS, etc., xlviii. 1, xlix. 1, 7, 23, 28, 
also xxiii. 9. This chapter contains two prophecies regarding 
Egypt, vers. 2-12, and vers. 13-28. tnXB& refers to both. 
After this there follows an account of the occasion for the first 
of these two prophecies, in the words, " Concerning the army of 
Pharaoh-Necho, the king of Egypt, which was at the river 
Euphrates, near Carchemish, which Nebuchadnezzar the king 
of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of 
Josiah king of Judah." 133, as in 2 Chron. xxxv. 20, or H33, 
as in 2 Kings xxiii. 29, in LXX. Ne-^ado', Egyptian, according 
to Brugsch (Hist. oTEgypte, i. p. 252), Nekdou ; in Herodotus 
NeKco'i, — is said by Manetho to have been the sixth king of the 
twenty-sixth (Saite) dynasty, the second Pharaoh of this name, 
the son of Psammetichus I., and grandson of Necho I. Brugsch 

7 o O 

says he reigned from 611 to 595 B.C. See on 2 Chron. xxiii. 
29. The two relative clauses are co-ordinate, i.e. i^. in each 
case depends on Tjn. The first clause merely states where 
Pharaoh's army was, the second tells what befell it at the 
Euphrates. It is to this that the following prophecy refers. 



Pharaoh-Necho, soon after ascending the throne, in the last 
year of Josiah's reign (610 B.C.), had landed in Palestine, at 
the bay of Acre, with the view of subjugating Hither Asia as 
far as the Euphrates, and had defeated and slain King Josiah, 
who marched out against him. He next deposed Jehoahaz, whom 
the people had raised to the throne as Josiah's successor, and 
carried him to Egypt, after having substituted Eliakim, the 
elder brother of Jehoahaz, and made him his vassal-king, under 
the name of Jehoiakim. When he had thus laid Judah under 
tribute, he advanced farther into Syria, towards the Euphrates, 
and had reached Carchemish on that river, as is stated in this 
verse : there his army was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, in the 
fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (606 B.C.) ; see on 2 
Kings xxiii. 29 f. Carchemish is KipKrjaLov, Circesium, or Cer- 

cusium of the classical writers, 1 Arabic tU^ai j==>, a fortified 

city at the junction of the Chebar with the Euphrates, built on 
the peninsula formed by the two rivers (Ammian. Marc, xxiii. 
5, Procop. hell. Pers. ii. 5, and Marasc. under Karkesijd). All 
that now remains of it are ruins, called by the modern Arabs 
Abu Psera, and situated on the Mesopotamian side of the 
Euphrates, where that river is joined by the Chebar (Ausland, 
1864, S. 1058). This fortress was either taken, or at least 
besieged, by Necho. The statement, " in the fourth year of 
Jehoiakim," can be referred exegetically only to the time of 
the defeat of the Egyptians at Carchemish, or the year of the 
battle, and is actually so understood by most interpreters. No 
one but Niebuhr (Gesch. Ass. u. Bab. S. 59, 86, 370 ff.) alters 
the date of the battle, which he places in the third year of 
Jehoiakim, partly from consideration of Dan. i. 1, partly from 
other chronological calculations ; he would refer the date given 
in our verse to the time when the following song was composed 
or published. But Dan. i. 1 does not necessarily require us to 
make any such assumption (see on that passage), and the other 
chronological computations are quite uncertain. Exegetically, 
it is as impossible to insert a period after " which Nebuchad- 
nezzar the king of Babylon smote " (Nieb. p. 86, note 3), as to 

1 See the opinion of Rawlinson in Smith's Bible Dictionary, vol. i. p. 278. 
— Tb. 

CHAP. XLVI. 3—12. 179 

connect the date " in the fourth year of Jehoiakim " with 
u which word came to Jeremiah " (ver. 1). The title in ver. 1 
certainly does riot refer specially to the prophecy about Egypt, 
but to DiBiTvJJ. But if we wished to make the whole of ver. 2 
dependent on 'til 131 !"Pn "IK'K, which would, at all events, be a 
forced, unnatural construction, then, from the combination of 
the title in ver. 1 with the specification of time at the end of 
ver. 2, it would follow that all the prophecies regarding the 
nations had come to Jeremiah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, 
— which would contradict what is said in the heading to the 
oracle against Elam (xlix. 34), not to mention the oracle against 
Babylon. Moreover, there is nothing to prevent us from 
assuming that the first prophecy against Egypt was revealed to 
Jeremiah, and uttered by him, in the same fourth year of 
Jehoiakim in which Necho was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar. 
In this way, the argument brought forward by Niebuhr in 
support of his forced interpretation, viz. that all specifications of 
time in the addresses of Jeremiah refer to the period of com- 
position, loses all its force. In xlv. 1 also, and in li. 9, the 
time when the event occurred coincides with the time when the 
utterance regarding it was pronounced. Although we assume 
this to hold in the case before us, yet it by no means follows 
that what succeeds, in vers. 3-12, is not a prophecy, but a song 
or lyric celebrating so important a battle, " the picture of an 
event that had already occurred," as Niebuhr, Ewald, and 
Hitzig assume. This neither follows from the statement in the 
title, " which Nebuchadnezzar in the fourth year of Jehoiakim 
smote," nor from the contents of the succeeding address. The 
superscription does not naturally belong to what Jeremiah has 
said or uttered, but must have been prefixed, for the first time, 
only when the address was committed to writing and inserted in 
the collection, and this not till after the battle had been fought ; 
but it is evident that the address is to be viewed as substantially 
a prophecy (see vers. 6b and 10b), although Jeremiah depicts, 
in the most lively and dramatic way, not merely the preparation 
of the mighty host, ver. 3, and its formidable advance, vers. 7-9, 
but also its flight and annihilation, in ver. 5 and vers. 10-12. 

Ver. 3. " Prepare shield and target, and advance to the 
battle. Ver. 4. Yoke the horses [to. the chariots] ; mount the 


steeds, and stand with helmets on ; polish the spears, put on 
the armour. Ver. 5. Why do I see? they are terrified and 
turned back, and their heroes are beaten, and flee in flight, and 
do not turn : terror is round about, saith Jahveh. Ver. 6. Let 
not the swift one flee, nor let the hero escape ; towards the 
north, by the side of the river Euphrates, they stumble and 
fall. Ver. 7. Who is this that cometh up like the Nile % his 
waters wave like the rivers. Ver. 8. Egypt cometh up like the 
Nile, [his] waters are moved like the rivers ; and he saith, I 
will go up, I will cover the earth ; I will destroy the city, and 
those who dwell in it. Ver. 9. Go up, ye horses ; and drive 
furiously, ye chariots ; and let the heroes go forth ; Cushites 
and Phutites, bearing the shield ; and Lydians, handling [and] 
bending the bow. Ver. 10. But that day [belongs] to the Lord 
Jahveh of hosts, a day of vengeance for avenging Himself on 
His enemies : and the sword shall devour and be satisfied, and 
shall drink its fill of their blood ; for the Lord Jahveh of 
hosts holdeth a slaying of sacrifices in the land of the north at 
the river Euphrates. Ver. 11. Go up to Gilead, and take 
balsam, O virgin, daughter of Egypt : in vain hast thou multi- 
plied medicines ; cure there is none for thee. Ver. 12. The 
nations have heard of thine ignominy, and thy cry hath filled 
the earth : for heroes stumble against heroes, both of them fall 

This address falls into two strophes, vers. 3-6 and 7-12. In 
both are depicted in a lively manner, first the advance of the 
Egyptian host to the battle, then their flight and destruction. 
The whole has been arranged so as to form a climax : in the 
first strophe, the admirable equipment of the armies, and their 
sudden flight and defeat, are set forth in brief sentences ; in the 
second, there is fully described not merely the powerful advance 
of the host that covers the earth, but also the judgment of 
inevitable destruction passed on them by God : the reason for 
the whole is also assigned. Ver. 3 f. In order to represent the 
matter in a lively way, the description begins with the call ad- 
dressed to the army, to make ready for the battle. " Make ready 
shield and target," the two main pieces of defensive armour. 
I JO was the small [round] shield ; nay, scutum, the large shield, 
covering the whole body. " Advance to the fight," i.e. go for- 

CHAP. XLVI. 3-12. 181 

ward into the battle. Then the address turns to the several 
portions of the army : first to those who fight from chariots, 
who are to yoke the horses ; then to the horsemen, to mount 
the steeds. CEH3 are not horsemen, but riding-horses, as in 
1 Kings v. 6, x. 26, Ezek. xxvii. 14. i"6y is construed with the 
accus., as in Gen. xlix. 4. The rendering given by Dahler 
and Umbreit, " Mount, ye horsemen," and that of Hitzig, 
" Advance, ye horsemen," are against the parallelism ; and 
the remark of the last-named writer, that " Mount the steeds " 
would be Cpl, does not accord with 1 Sam. xxx. 17. Next, 
the address is directed to the foot - soldiers, who formed the 
main portion of the army. These are to take up their posi- 
tion with helmets on, to polish the spears, i.e. to sharpen 
them, and to put on the pieces of armour, in order to be 
arrayed for battle, p"}®, to rub, polish, remove rust from 
the spear, and thereby sharpen it. jVHD, here and in li. 3 
for tf" 1 "}^, a coat of mail, pieces of armour. — Vers. 5, 6. Thus 
well arrayed, the host advances to the fight ; but suddenly the 
seer perceives the magnificent army terror-stricken, retreating, 
and breaking out into a disorderly flight. The question, " Why 
(wherefore) do I see ? " points to the unexpected and incompre- 
hensible turn in the progress of events. D^rin nran is not an 
accus. dependent on W^? Dut an independent clause : " What 
do I see? They are terror-stricken" (Q^n, terrified, broken- 
spirited through terror). W3J, Hoph. from J*iri3 7 to be broken, 
here and in Job iv. 20 applied to persons. DiJD is added to the 
verb instead of the inf. abs., to give emphasis to the idea con- 
tained in the word ; cf. Ewald, § 281, a. MSB niJD ? « horror, 
terror around " (cf. vi. 25), is taken by Ewald as the reply of 
Jahveh to the question, " Wherefore is this ? On every side 
there is danger ; " and this is appropriately followed by the 
imperatives in ver. 6, " Let no one, then, attempt to flee ; not 
one shall escape to Egypt, but they must fall at the Euphrates." 
The perfects vS31 ix'3 are prophetic; the stumbling and falling 
are as certain as if they had already happened. The second 
strophe commences at ver. 7. The description begins anew, 
and that with a question of astonishment at the mighty host 
advancing like the Nile when it bursts its banks and inundates 
the whole country. "KP is the name of the Nile, taken from 


the Egyptian into the Hebrew language ; cf. Gen. xli. ff., Ex. 
i. 22, etc. &}!$)>), dash about (v. 22), wave backwards and for- 
wards : the Hithpa. is here interchanged with the Hithpo. with- 
out any difference of meaning. — Ver. 8 brings the answer to 
the question of astonishment : " Egypt approaches, its hosts 
cover the land like the waves of the Nile, to destroy cities and 
men." On the form HTHX (with k contracted from XX), cf. 
Ewald, § 192, d; Gesenius, § 68, Rem. 1. "VV is used in an in- 
definite general sense, " cities," as in viii. 16. — In ver. 9, the 
imperat. stands as in ver. 3 f . : " Let the formidable army 
approach, — cavalry, chariots, and infantry, with all their 
splendidly equipped auxiliaries, — nevertheless it shall perish." 
D^plDn VV does not here mean " Mount the steeds," which is 
against the parallelism, but " Get up (i.e. prance), ye horses ; " 
this meaning is guaranteed by the Hiphil npy», as used in Nah. 
iii. 3. 23^n I7?nrin is an imitation of Nah. ii. 5. As auxiliaries, 
and very braves one too (D'Hiaa)^ are mentioned " Cush," i.e. 
the Ethiopians ; u Phut," the Libyans ; and " Ludim," i.e. 
Hamitic, African Lydians, as in Ezek. xxx. 5. On the double 
construct in T)W\) "SVI "^sn, " holding, bending bows," cf. Ew. 
§ 280, c. — Ver. 10. This formidable army shall perish ; for the 
day of the battle is the day of the Lord of hosts, on which He 
will take vengeance upon His enemies. Among these enemies 
are the Egyptians, who have grievously sinned against Israel, 
the people of the Lord, not merely of late, by making war 
upon and killing King Josiah, by carrying away Jehoahaz, and 
making Jehoiakim his vassal, but also from the earliest times. 
For this, Egypt is now to be brought low. The sword shall 
devour and be refreshed by drinking the blood of the Egyptians. 
For the Lord is preparing for a slaying of sacrifices ( n ?J) in the 
north, at the Euphrates. Isa. xxxiv. 6 forms the basis of these 
words. — Ver. 11. The blow which shall there come on the 
Egyptians is one from which they shall never recover, and the 
wound shall be one not to be healed by any balm. As to the 
balm of Gilead, see on viii. 22 ; on nixa"i and ibVft, see xxx. 13. 
" Virgin daughter of Egypt " is equivalent to virgin-like people 
of Egypt, i.e. not hitherto forced, but now ravished, violated, 
so that all nations shall hear of the dishonour done them, and 
their cry shall fill the whole earth, for (as at the conclusion, 

CHAP. XLVI. 13-28. 183 

the threat is added by way of confirmation) all the heroes of 
Egypt stumble and fall. ">i3J2 "lis?, " hero against hero," i.e. 
one against another, or over the others, as usually happens in 
a flight where confusion reigns ; cf. Jer. xxvi. 37. 

Vers. 13-28. The second prophecy regarding Egypt, with a 
message for Israel attached to it, was uttered after the pre- 
ceding.- This is evident even from the superscription, ver. 13 : 
" The word which Jahveh spake to Jeremiah the prophet of 
the coming of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon to smite 
the land of Egypt." The formula, "The word which," etc., 
agrees with that in 1. 1 ; and 1?1, in contrast with • njn ? the 
word usually met with in headings, perhaps means that this 
prophecy, like that concerning Babylon, was not uttered in 
public by Jeremiah, but only written down. Ni37 is used in 
reference to the coming of Nebuchadrezzar to smite the land. 
Graf puts down this heading as an addition, not made till a late 
edition of the prophecies was brought out, and even then added 
through a mistake on the part of the compiler. In support of 
this, he urges that the announcement in vers. 14-26 does not 
form an independent . prophecy, but merely constitutes the 
second portion of the description given in vers. 3-12 of the 
defeat of the Egyptians. But the ground assigned for this 
view, viz. that if this prophecy formed a separate and distinct 
piece, written at another time, then Jeremiah would have pre- 
dicted the conquest of the other countries, Philistia, Moab, 
Amnion, etc., in consequence of the battle of Carchemish ; 
and as regards Egypt, would have contented himself with a 
triumphal song over its fall — which is in itself unlikely : this 
argument is utterly null. It has no meaning whatever ; for 
vers. 3-12 contain, not a triumphal song over a defeat that 
had already taken place, but a prophecy regarding the defeat 
about to take place. To this the prophet added a second pro- 
phecy, in which he once more announces beforehand to Egypt 
that it shall be conquered. In this way, more is foretold 
regarding Egypt than the neighbouring countries, because 
Egypt was of much greater consequence, in relation to the 
theocracy, than Philistia, Moab, etc. According to the super- 
scription, this second prophecy refers to the conquest of Egypt 
by Nebuchadnezzar. According to xxxvii. 5, this did not 


take place so long as Zedekiah was king; and according to 
xliii. 8 ff., it was foretold by Jeremiah, after the destruction of 
Jerusalem, when the Jews were fleeing to Egypt after the 
murder of Gedaliah. From this, one might conclude, with 
Nagelsbach, that the piece now before us is contemporaneous 
with xliii. 8 ff. But this inference is not a valid one. The 
threat uttered in xliii. 8 ff. of a conquest to befall Egypt had 
a special occasion of its own, and we cannot well regard it in 
any other light than as a repetition of the prophecy now before 
us, for the Jews ; for its contents seem to show that it was 
composed not long after that in vers. 3-12, or soon after the 
defeat of the Egyptians at Carchemish. This address also falls 
into two strophes, vers. 14-19 and vers. 20-2G, while vers. 27, 
28 form an additional message for Israel. The line of thought 
is this : Egypt may arm herself as she chooses, but her power 
shall fall, and her auxiliaries shall flee (vers. 14-16). Pharaoh's 
fall is certain ; the enemy shall come in force, and turn all 
Egypt into a desert (vers. 17-19). The destroyer comes from 
the north, the mercenaries flee, and the enemy hews down 
countless hosts of men like trees in a forest (vers. 20-23J. 
Egypt will be given into the hand of the people out of the 
north ; for Jahveh will punish gods, princes, and people, and 
deliver up Egypt to the king of Babylon. But afterwards, 
Egypt will again be inhabited as it was before (vers. 24-26). 
On the other hand, Israel need fear nothing, for their God will 
lead them back out of their captivity (vers. 27, 28). 

Ver. 14. "Tell ye it in Egypt, and make it to be heard in 
Migdol, and make it be heard in Noph and Tahpanhes : say, 
Stand firm, and prepare thee; for the sword hath devoured 
around thee. Ver. 15. Why hath thy strong one been swept 
away? he stood not, for Jahveh pushed him down. Ver. 16. 
He made many stumble, yea, one fell on another; and they 
said, Arise, and let us return to our own people, and to the 
land of our birth, from before the oppressing sword. Ver. 17. 
They cried there, Pharaoh the king of Egypt is undone ; he 
hath let the appointed time pass. Ver. 18. As I live, saith the 
King, whose name is Jahveh of hosts, Surely as Tabor among 
the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, shall he come. Ver. 
19. Prepare thee things for exile, O daughter dwelling in 

CHAP. XLVI. 14-19. 185 

Egypt : for Noph will become a desolation, and be destroyed by 
fire, without an inhabitant." 

Like the last prophecy, this one also begins with the sum- 
mons to arms (ver. 14), in order to prepare the way for the 
description given immediately afterwards of the defeat (ver. 
15 ff.). The summons to make the proclamation is addressed 
to some persons not named, who are to announce through the 
country, particularly in the frontier towns and in the northern 
capital of Egypt, that the foe, in his devastating career, has 
advanced to the borders of the land. This is evident from the 
clause which states the reason : " The sword hath devoured 
what lay round thee." Regarding Migdol, i.e. Magdolos, and 
Tahpanhes, i.e. Daphne, the two frontier towns in the north, 
and Noph, i.e. Memphis, the northern capital of the kingdom, 
see on ii. 16 and xliv. 1. ^TJ)<?j to take up one's position for 
the fight ; cf. ver. 4. T^SD, " thy surroundings," are the fron- 
tier countries, but especially those on the north, — Judah, 
Philistia, Edom, — since the enemy comes from the north. 
However, we cannot with certainty infer from this, that by 
that time the kingdom of Judah had already fallen, and 
Jerusalem been laid waste. Immediately after Necho had 
been vanquished at the Euphrates, Nebuchadnezzar marched 
after the fugitive foe, pursuing him as far as the borders of 
Egypt ; hence we read, in 2 Kings xxiv. 7, " The king of 
Egypt went no more out of his land ; for the king of Babylon 
had taken all that had belonged to the king of Egypt, from the 
river of Egypt to the river Euphrates." Even at that time, 
in the fourth and fifth years of Jehoiakim, it could be said, 
" His sword hath devoured the countries contiguous to Egypt." 
And Nebuchadnezzar was prevented on that occasion from ad- 
vancing farther, and penetrating into Egypt itself, only by hear- 
ing of his father's death at Babylon, in consequence of which he 
was compelled to return to Babylon as speedily as possible, for 
the purpose of assuming the reins of government, and to let 
his army with the prisoners follow him at their leisure (Bero- 
sus in Josephus, contra Ap. i. 19). — Ver. 15. The prophet in 
spirit looks on the power of Egypt as already broken. This 
is shown by the question of astonishment, TT?$ *!??? &&&, 
which has been variously rendered. B^aR, " strong ones," is 


used in- Jer. viii. 16, xlvii. 3, and 1. 11, of stallions, but else- 
where as an epithet of bulls, especially the strong bulls of 
Bashan ; see on viii. 16. In the present passage the reference 
may be to the mighty men of war, who do not maintain their 
position (Chald. and most of the old interpreters) ; the verb 
in the singular forms no sufficient objection to this view, the 
irregularity being due to the fact that the verb precedes its 
subject [see Ewald, § 316, i; Gesenius, § 147]. It is more 
difficult to combine with this the singulars of the verbs 1W and 
isnn which follow ; these, and especially the suffix in the sin- 
gular, appear to indicate that T^?*? really refers to a noun in 
the singular. But the form of this noun seems against such a 
view ; for the words adduced in support of the position that 
singular nouns sometimes assume plural suffixes, are insufficient 
for the purpose : thus, T^™, Ps. ix. 15, and T™3b>, Ezek. 
xxxv. 11, are plainly nouns in the singular. And in support 
of the averment that, in pausal forms with Segol, the i is a 
mere mater lectionis, only TB3, Prov. vi. 1, can be adduced : 
the other instances brought forward by Hitzig fail to establish 
his position. For V£&, Deut. xxviii. 48, may be plural; 
WS Gen. xvi. 5, is far from being a case in point, for the pre- 
position often takes plural suffixes; and even in the case of 
^TDn, Ps. xvi. 10, the * is marked in the Qeri as superfluous; 
most codices, too, rather give the form T^pH. But even in 
the verse now before us, many codices, according to Kennicott 
and de Rossi, read 1T?£> so that the word should perhaps be 
taken as a singular. The singulars, however, which occur in 
the following clauses do not form conclusive proofs of this, 
since they may be taken in a distributive sense; and more 
generally the address often suddenly changes from the plural 
to the singular. In connection with the possibility of taking 
T?2i? as a singular, the paraphrase of the LXX. deserves men- 
tion and consideration, 6 /xoct^o 1 ? 6 e/cXe/cro? aov, to which a gloss 
adds 6 * Aires. But we cannot agree with Kennicott, J. D. 
Michaelis, Ewald, Hitzig, Graf, and Nagelsbach, in holding 
this as certainly the correct rendering ; nor can we give to "V2X 
the sense of " bull," for this meaning is not made out for the 
singular simply because the plural is used of strong bulls : this 
holds especially in Jeremiah, who constantly applies the plural 

CHAP. XLVI. 14-19. 187 

to strong steeds. Still less ground is there for appealing to 
the fact that Jahveh is repeatedly called b$yP I^K or T3K 
Sipg^j Gen. xlix. 24, Isa. i. 24, xlix. 2$, etc. ; for this epithet of 
Jahveh (who shows Himself in or towards Israel as the Mighty 
One) cannot be applied to the helpless images of Apis. In 
Ps. lxviii. 31, ^Tr 1 ^ means "strong ones" — bulls as emblems 
of kin^s. If the word be used here with such a reference, it 
may be singular or plural. In the former case it would mean 
the king ; in the latter, the king with his princes and magnates. 
Against the application of the word to the images of Apis, 
there is the fact that Apis, a symbol of Osiris, was neither the 
only nor the chief god of Egypt, but was worshipped nowhere 
except in Memphis (Herodotus, ii. 153) ; hence it was not 
suited to be the representative of the gods or the power of 
Egypt, as the context of the present passage requires. — Ver. 
16. As the mighty one of Egypt does not stand, but is thrust 
down by God, so Jahveh makes many stumble and fall over 
one another, so that the strangers return to their own home 
in order to escape the violence of the sword. The subject of 
npN'l is indefinite ; the speakers, however, are not merely the 
hired soldiers or mercenaries (ver. 11), or the allied nations 
(Ezek. xxx. 5), but strangers generally, who had been living 
in Egypt partly for the sake of commerce, partly for other 
reasons (Hitzig, Graf). As to n:i s n 2717, see on xxv. 38. — In 
ver. 17, " they cry there " is not to be referred to those who 
fled to their native land ; the subject is undefined, and " there " 
refers to the place where one falls over the other, viz. Egypt. 
" There they cry, ' Pharaoh the king of Egypt is pXC>, desola- 
tion, destruction, ruin : ' " for this meaning, cf. xxv. 31, Ps. 
xl. 3; the signification "noise, bustle," is unsuitable here. 1 

1 The word DC> has been read by the LXX. and the Vulgate as if it had 
been Dt^, ouopx, nomen ; accordingly the LXX. render, xxhioctTe to 6'uo/ax 

<X>xpxu Nsx,xa, fixolhia; A!yv7nov, Ixuv 'E<;/3s< 'E^iysjS (or 'E<7/3f/s Mw^B) ; 
Vulgate, vocate nomen Pharaonis regis JEyypti: Tumultum adduxit tempus. 
This reading is preferred by J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Hitzig, and Graf, 
•with this difference, that Hitzig and Graf take only jiXu' as a name. 

Hence Ewald translates, " They call Pharaoh's name ' Noise-which-a-wink- 
can-hush.'" This rendering is decidedly false, for ~lJ?io nowhere has the sense 

of "wink, nod," not even in Judg. xx. 38, where it means an agreement 


The meaning of *WE>n l^n also is disputed ; it is quite in- 
admissible, however, to join the words with |iKE>, as Ewald 
does, for the purpose of making out a name. No suitable 
meaning can be extracted from them. Neither f^f nor "Wis? 
can be the subject of l^yn ; the translation given by Schnur- 
rer, " devastation that goes beyond all bounds," is still more 
arbitrary than that of Ewald given in the note. Since the 
Hiphil "^yn is never used except with a transitive meaning, 
the subject can be none else than Pharaoh ; and the words 
"Wten Tayn must be intended to give the reason for his be- 

•v:iv O 

coming a desolation : they are thus to be rendered, " he has 
allowed ^i»n to pass by," not "the precise place," as Rosen- 
miiller explains it (" he did not stop in his flight at the place 
where the army could be gathered again, on the return"), but 
" the precise time." The reference, however, is not to the 
suitable time for action, for self-defence and for driving off 
the enemy (Grotius, C. B. Michaelis, Maurer, Umbreit), be- 
cause the word does not mean suitable, convenient time, but 
appointed time. As Hitzig rightly perceived, the time meant 
is that within which the desolation might still be averted, and 
after which the judgment of God fell on him (Isa. x. 25, xxx. 
18), — the time of grace which God had vouchsafed to him, 
so that Nebuchadnezzar did not at once, after the victory at 
Carchemish, invade and conquer Egypt. Pharaoh let this time 
pass by ; because, instead of seeing in that defeat a judgment 
from God, he provoked the anger of Nebuchadnezzar by his 
repeated attacks on the Chaldean power, and brought on the 
invasion of Egypt by the king of Babylon (see above, p. 155). 

made. For the reading QtJJ instead of Q& there are no sufficient grounds, 


although such passages as xx. 3 and Isa. xxx. 7 may be adduced in support 
of the idea obtained by such a change in the word. The translation of the 
LXX. is merely a reproduction of the Hebrew words by Greek letters, and 
shows that the translator did not know how to interpret them. The Vul- 
gate rendering, tumult um adduxit tempus, is also devoid of meaning. More- 
over, these translators have read !|{Op as the imperative }}Op ; if we reject 

this reading, as all moderns do, then we may also lay no weight on Qiy 

instead of QjjJ. Besides, the meaning is not materially affected by this 


reading, for the giving of a name to a person merely expresses what he is 
or will be. 

CHAP. XLVI. 20-26. 189 

— In ver. 18 f. there is laid down a more positive foundation 
for the threat uttered in ver. 17. With an oath, the Lord an- 
nounces the coming of the destroyer into Egypt. Like Tabor, 
which overtops all the mountains round about, and like Carmel, 
which looks out over the sea as if it were a watch-tower, so 
will he come, viz. he from whom proceeds the devastation of 
Egypt, the king of Babylon. The power of Nebuchadnezzar, 
in respect of its overshadowing all other kings, forms the point 
of comparison. Tabor has the form of a truncated cone. Its 
height is given at 1805 feet above the level of the sea, or 1350 
from the surface of the plain below ; it far surpasses in height 
all the hills in the vicinity, and affords a wide prospect on every 
side; cf. Robinson's Phys. Geogr. of Palestine, p. 26 f. Carmel 
stretches out in the form of a long ridge more than three miles 
wide, till it terminates on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, 
as a bold, lofty promontory, which rises in an imposing manner 
at least 500 feet above the sea ; cf. Robinson, p. 26 f. Then 
the inhabitants of Egypt will be driven into exile, rpij ^a, 
** vessels of wandering ; " outfit for an exile, as in Ezek. xii. 3. 
" Daughter of Egypt " is not a personification of the country, 
whose inhabitants are the people, but of the population, which 
is viewed as the daughter of the country ; it stands in apposition 
to rDBty, like 0^0 J"fl rfona, ver. 11. For Noph, i.e. Memphis, 
the capital, is laid waste and burned, so as to lose its inhabit- 
ants. With ver. 20 begins the second strophe, in which the 
fate impending on Egypt is still more plainly predicted. 

Ver. 20. " Egypt is a very beautiful young heifer ; a gadfly 
from the north comes — comes. Ver. 21. Her mercenaries, too, 
in her midst, are like fatted calves; for they also turn their backs, 
they flee together: they do not stand, for the day of her destruc- 
tion is come on her, the time of her visitation. Ver. 22. Its 
sound is like [that of] the serpent [as it] goes ; for they go with 
an army, and come against her with axes, like hewers of trees. 
Ver. 23. They cut down her forest, saith Jahveh, for it is not 
to be searched ; for they are more numerous than locusts, and 
they cannot be numbered. Ver. 24. The daughter of Egypt is 
disgraced ; she is given into the hand of the people of the north. 
Ver. 25. Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel, saith, Behold, I 
will visit Amon of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, her gods, and 


her kings ; Pharaoh, and all those who trust in him. Ver. 26. 
And I will give them into the hand of those who seek their life, 
even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, 
and into the hand of his servants ; but afterwards it shall be 
inhabited, as in the days of old, saith Jahveh." 

In ver. 20 the address begins afresh, in order to carry out 
further, under new images, the description of the desolation 
already threatened. Egypt is a very beautiful npjy ; this 
feminine is chosen with a regard to " the daughter of Egypt." 
n>sns» is an adjective formed from the Peal of ns), "very 
beautiful," not "coquetting" (Hitzig, who follows the iceicak- 
Xco7ria-fjb6V7} of the LXX.). A very beautiful heifer is the 
people when carefully and abundantly fed in their beautiful 
and fertile land (Hitzig). Upon this heifer there comes from 
the north pp. This air. Xey. is variously rendered. Y1? T means, 
in the Hebrew, to pinch, nip (Job xxxiii. 6), to compress 
together, as in winking (Ps. xxxv. 19), to bring the lips closely 

/ / / 

together (Prow xvi. 30), and to nip off ; cf. ^pl to pinch, nip, 

cut off. Hence A. Schultens (Orig. Heb. ii. 34 sqq.), after 
Cocceius, and with a reference to Virgil, Georg. iii. 147, has 
rendered pi? by morsus vellicans oestri. Hitzig (with whom 
Roediger, in his additions to Gesenius' Thesaurus, agrees) takes 

ifiXs insectum cimici simile as his warrant for rendering it by 

oestrus, " the gadfly," which gives a more suitable meaning. 

Ewald, on the contrary, compares y\p with i^y, and translates 
it " whale," a huge sea-monster ; but this is quite arbitrary, for 

y~)p does not correspond to the Arabic ,Jjji, and the whale or 

shark does not afford any figure that would be suitable for the 
context : e.g. ver. 21, " her mercenaries also flee," shows that 
the subject treated of is not the devouring or destruction, but 
the expulsion of the Egyptians out of their land ; this is put as 
an addition to what is said about exile in ver. 19. Still less 
suitable is the general rendering excidium, destruction (Rabbins, 
Gesenius, Umbreit) ; and there is no lexical foundation for the 
Vulgate translation stimulator, nor for " taskmaster," the render- 
ing of J. D. Michaelis and Rosenmuller. The old translators 

CHAP. XLVI. 20- 26. 191 

have only made guesses from the context. The figure of the 
gadfly corresponds to the bee in the land of Assyria, Isa. vii. 18. 
The repetition of N*3 gives emphasis, and points either to the 
certainty of the coming, or its continuance. — Ver. 21. The 
mercenaries, also, of the daughter of Egypt, well fed, like 
fatted calves, betake themselves to flight. ^"Otp are ''mer- 
cenaries," as distinguished from the allies mentioned in ver. 9. 
It was Carians and Ionians through whom Psammetichus at- 
tained the supremacy over all Egypt : these had settled down 
in (rrpa-oireha of their own, between Bubastis and Pelusium, on 
both banks of the eastern arm of the Nile (Herodotus, ii. 152, 
154), and were very well cared for, since the king relied on 
them (Herod, ii. 152, 163). Hence the comparison with fatted 
calves, which, moreover, are co-ordinated with the subject, as is 
shown by the resumption of the subject in nftn D3. '3 stands 
in the middle of the sentence, with an asseverative meaning : 
" Yea, these also turn their back, they flee together, do not 
stand ; for the day of their destruction is come." " The day 
of their destruction" is used as in xviii. 17. On " the time of 
their visitation " (which stands in apposition to the preceding 
expression), cf. xi. 23, xxiii. 12 : it is not an accusative of time 
(Graf), for this always expresses the idea of continuance during 
a space of time. In vers. 22, 23, the annihilation of the power 
of Egypt is portrayed under another figure. A difficult expres- 
sion is ^ ^33 npipj " her (viz. that of the daughter of Egypt) 
voice is like (the voice of) the serpent (which) goes." ^ , . must 
be taken as part of a relative sentence, since this verb is nowhere 
used of a voice or sound; hence it cannot be so joined here. 
Ewald, following the avpitpvTcx; of the LXX., would read p~W, 
" hissing," instead of S|7J, and translates, "it makes a noise like 
the hissing serpent." He more fully defines the meaning thus : 
" Even though Egypt were hidden like a serpent in a thicket, 
3'et it would be heard in its flight, like a nasty serpent hissing 
fiercely, while it hurries away from the axe of the wood- 
cutter." But, apart from the arbitrary change of ^ into 
P~)V (the former word is used in Gen. iii. 14 of the going, i.e. 
crawling, of a serpent). Ewald puts into the words an idea alto- 
gether foreign to them. The nasty, fierce hissing of the serpent 
that is forced to flee, is quite unsuitable ; for there is no further 


mention made of the flight of the Egyptians, but Egypt is hewn 
down like a forest by woodcutters. Moreover, as Graf has 
already well remarked, Egypt is not compared to a serpent, but 
only its voice to the voice or hiss of a serpent. For b\p signifies, 
not merely the voice, but any sound, even the rustling and 
rattling of leaves (cf. Gen. iii. 8, Lev. xxvi. 36, 2 Sam. v. 24) ; 
hence it may denote the noise caused by a serpent crawling on 
its belly in the thicket. The comparison, as Graf has correctly 
observed, is like that in Isa. xxix. 4. There it is the daughter 
of Zion, but here it is the daughter of Egypt that lies on the 
ground, deeply humbled ; weeping softly and moaning, making 
a sound like that of a serpent in a moss among fallen leaves, 
fleeing before the woodcutters. 1 Thus she lies on the ground, 
for the enemy comes in force, with axes like woodcutters, to 
hew down the forest of men in Egypt. The mention of the 
axes is occasioned by the comparison of the foe to woodcutters ; 
we are not to think of battle-axes as weapons of the Massagetge, 
Scythians, Persians, and other nations (Herodotus, i. 215, iv. 70, 
vii. 64 ; Xenophon, Cyrojped. i. 2, 9). Axes here form the 
type of murderous weapons generally. On the comparison of 
a multitude of people to a forest, cf. xxi. 14, Isa. x. 18 f., 33 f. 
The clause "iprP N7 *3 is referred by L. de Dieu, J. D. Michaelis, 
Hitzig, Nagelsbach, etc., to the wood, " for it cannot be explored 

1 The old translators have quite misunderstood these words, and attempted 
to apply them, each one according to his own fancy, to the enemy. Thus 
the LXX. translate : Oai/tj civtuv (D?ip) ag otpia; avpi^ouro;, on iv cL[A{jt,w 
(7iri2 for 7TQ) vopiVGovTut, x.t.a. Chald. : vox collisionis armorum eorum 
est sicut vox serpentum repentium; and similarly the Syriac. The Vulgate is: 
vox ejus quasi aeris (]"l!2Tti for t£TI3) sonabit, quoniam cum exercitu pro- 
perabunt et cum securibus venient. The translator of the Vulgate has thus 
read HPip, and referred the suffix to J>"ip, which he renders stimulator. 
Luther follows the Vulgate : "Siefaren daher, das der Harnisch brasselt, 
uud kommen mit Heeres Krafft." Hitzig also seeks to change the text, after 
the LXX., turning n^ip into D?ip, and ^rn into y\r\1- But this alteration 

t t • - : 

disturbs the order of the sentence. Not only in vers. 20 and 21, but also 
in vers. 23, 24, the first clause always treats of Egypt, and what befalls her 
is only stated in the clauses which follow : so is it in ver. 22. Thus the 
alteration made affords a very trivial result, viz. that the enemy advancing 
on Egypt march through the very sandy desert between Gaza and Egypt, 
and make slow progress, like serpents, because they wade through the sand ; 
so that they make their appearance suddenly and unexpectedly. 

CHAP. XLVI. 20-26. 193 


or penetrated ; " thus a road must be made in order to get through 
it. However, the question is not about the enemy going or 
marching through Egypt, but about the destruction of Egypt 
and her powers. Rosenmiiller and Graf, with Raschi, are 
more correct in referring the clause to the hostile army, u for 
it cannot be investigated," i.e. it is impossible to learn the num- 
ber of them. It is no great objection to this interpretation that 
the verb occurs in the singular : this must be retained as it is, 
since it is not the individual enemies that cannot be searched 
out, but it is the number of the whole army that cannot be 
reckoned. On the employment of IjPn in the Niphal in connec- 
tion with the impossibility of counting a multitude, cf. 1 Kings 
vii. 47, and the expression 1j?n N? in Job v. 9, ix. 10, xxxvi. 36. 
The clauses which follow, and conclude ver. 23, explain the 
thought further : <l more numerous than grasshoppers," i.e. 

In ver. 24 f . the result of the overthrow of Egypt, which has 
hitherto been set forth in figurative language, is stated in words 
which describe the exact realities : Egypt will be given up to 
ignominy, delivered into the power of a people from the north, 
i.e. the Chaldeans. The Lord of hosts, the Almighty God of 
Israel, punishes it for its sins. He visits, i.e. punishes, Amon 
of No, the chief idol of Egypt ; Pharaoh, and the land, with all 
its gods and its kings, and with Pharaoh, all those who place 
their trust in his power. Words are accumulated for the pur- 
pose of showing that the judgment will be one which shall 
befall the whole land, together with its gods, its rulers, and its 
inhabitants. First of all is mentioned A mon of No, as in Ezek. 
xxx. 14 f . N3 is an abbreviation of |1BK Ki, i.e. dwelling of 
Amon, the sacred name of the royal city in Upper Egypt, 
famous in antiquity, which the Greeks called Atb<; 7roXt?, or 
Qrjftrj, or Qrjftai, it is supposed, after the vulgar Egyptian 
name Tapet or Tape (Throne or Seat) ; see on Nah. iii. 8. 
Amon — in Greek Afi[xovv (Herodotus, ii. 42), 'A/ulovv (Plutarch, 
de Is. chap. 9), A^wv (Jamblichus, de myst. 5, 8) — was a sun- 
god (Amon-Ra), probably a symbol of the sun as it appears in 
the spring, in the sign of the Ram ; hence he was represented 
with rams' horns. By the Greeks he was compared to Jupiter, 
or Zeus, and named Jupiter Amnion. The chief seat of his 



worship was Thebes, where he had a temple, with a numerous 
learned priesthood and a famous oracle (cf. Strabo, xvii. 1. 43 ; 
Justin, xi. 11), which Cambyses destroyed (Diodorus Siculus, 
Fragm. Lib. x.). Under the expression "kings of Egypt" we 
are not to include governors or vassal-kings, but all the kings 
who ever ruled Egypt ; for in the judgment now falling on 
Egypt, all the kings it ever had, together with all its gods, are 
punished. In the last part of the verse the name of Pharaoh 
is once more given, for the purpose of attaching to it the words 
" and all who trust in him ; " these are intended for the Jews 
who expected help from Egypt. The punishment consists in 
their being all given into the hand of their enemies, namely 
(1 explic.) into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and his servants. 
This defeat, however, is not to be the end of the Egyptian 
kingdom. The threat of judgment concludes, in ver. 2 6 b, 
with a promise for the future. " Afterwards, it shall be 
inhabited, as in the days of yore." }3tJ> is used in a neuter 
sense, as in xvii. 6, xxxiii. 16, etc. Since this verb also signi- 
fies to settle down, be encamped (Num. xxiv. 2), and to lie 
quiet, to rest, or keep oneself quiet, inactive (Judg. v. 17 ; Prov. 
vii. 11), Hitzig and Graf, with Kimchi, give the explanation: 
"because the power of Egypt shall be broken, it will keep 
quiet, and remain at home in its own country, instead of march- 
ing forth and fighting other nations, as it has lately begun 
again to do (ver. 7) after centuries of peace." But although, 
in support of this view, we are pointed to Ezek. xxix. 13, where 
the restoration of Egypt is predicted, with the further remark, 
" it will be an abject kingdom," yet this idea is not contained in 
the words of our verse. To render 1?^ by " to keep quiet, be 
inactive," does not suit the words " as in the days of old." In 
former days, Egypt was neither inactive nor remained at home in 
peace in its own land. From the remotest antiquity, the Pharaohs 
made wars, and sought to enlarge their dominions by conquest. 
Add to this, that we must view the concluding portion of this 
prophecy in a manner analogous to the closing thought of the 
prophecies regarding Moab (xlviii. 47), Amnion (xlix. 6), and 
Elam (xlix. 39), where the turning of the captivity in the last 
times is given in prospect to these nations, and" afterwards," in 
xlix. 6, alternates with " in the latter days " found in xlviii. 47 

CHAP. XLVI. 27, 28. 195 

and xlix. 39. From this it follows that, in the verse now before 
us also, it is not the future in general, but the last time, i.e. 
the Messianic future, that is pointed out ; hence t?E> does not 
express the peaceful condition of the land, but its being in- 
habited, in contrast with its depopulation in the immediate 
future, in consequence of its inhabitants being killed or carried 
away. On the fulfilment of this threatening, see p. 151 ff. 

Vers. 27, 28. A promise for Israel. — Ver. 27. " But fear not 
thou, O my servant Jacob, nor be dismayed : for, behold, I will 
save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their cap- 
tivity ; and Jacob shall return, and be at rest and secure, and 
no one shall make him afraid. Ver. 28. Fear thou not, my 
servant Jacob, saith Jahveh, for I am with thee ; for I will 
make complete destruction of all the nations whither I have 
driven thee, but of thee will I not make complete destruction : 
yet I will correct thee in a proper manner, and I will not leave 
thee wholly unpunished." These verses certainly form no 
integral portion of the prophecy, but an epilogue ; yet they are 
closely connected with the preceding, and are occasioned by the 
declaration in ver. 26, that the Lord, when He visits Pharaoh, 
shall also visit all those who trust in Him. This word, which is 
directed to Judah, might be understood to declare that it is 
Judah chiefly which will share the fate of Egypt. In order 
to prevent such a misconception, Jeremiah adds a word for 
Israel, which shows how the true Israel has another destiny to 
hope for. Their deliverer is Jahveh, their God, who certainly 
punishes them for their sins, gives them up to the power of the 
heathen, but will also gather them again after their dispersion, 
and then grant them uninterrupted prosperity. This promise 
of salvation at the close of the announcement of judgment on 
Egypt is similar to the promise of salvation for Israel inserted 
in the threat of judgment against Babylon, 1. 4-7 and 19, 20, 
li. 5, 6, 10, 35, 36, 45, 46, 50; and this similarity furnishes a 
proof in behalf of the genuineness of the verse, which is denied 
by modern critics. For, although what Nagelsbach remarks is 
quite correct, viz. that the fall of the kingdom of Babylon, 
through its conquest by Cyrus, directly brought about the 
deliverance of Israel, while the same cannot be said regarding 
the conquest of Egypt, yet even Egypt had a much greater 


importance, in relation to Judah, than the smaller neighbouring 
nations, against which the oracles in chap, xlvii.-xlix. are 
directed; hence there is no ground for the inference that, 
because there is nothing said in these three chapters of such 
a connection between Egypt and Israel, it did not really exist. 
But when Na>elsbach further asks, " How does this agree with 
the fact that Jeremiah, on other occasions, while in Egypt, 
utters only the strongest threats against the Israelites — chap, 
xlii.-xliv. ? " — there is the ready answer, that the expressions 
in chap, xlii.-xliv. do not apply to the whole covenant people, 
but only to the rabble of Judah that was ripe for the sentence 
of destruction, that had fled to Egypt against the will of God. 
What Hitzig and Graf have further urged in another place 
against the genuineness of the verses now before us, is scarcely 
worth mention. The assertion that the verses do not accord 
with the time of the foregoing prophecy, and rather presup- 
pose the exile, can have weight only with those who a priori 
deny that the prophet could make any prediction. But if 
Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, distinctly announces 
not merely the carrying away of Judah to Babylon, but also 
fixes the duration of the exile at seventy years, then he might 
well speak at the same time, or later, of the restoration of Israel 
from their captivity. 

But there are two other considerations which support the 
genuineness of these verses : (1) The fact that Hitzig and Graf 
are obliged to confess it remains a problem how they came to 
form a part of the oracle against Egypt. The attempt made 
by the former writer to solve this problem partly rests on the 
assumption, already refuted by Graf, that the verses were 
written by the second Isaiah (on this point, see our remarks at 
p. 7, note), and partly on a combination of results obtained by 
criticism, in which even their author has little confidence. But 
(2) we must also bear in mind the nature of the verses in ques- 
tion. They form a repetition of what we find in xxx. 10, 11, 
and a repetition, too, quite in the style of Jeremiah, who makes 
variations in expression. Thus here, in ver. 27, HiPP DK3 is 
omitted after SipJT, perhaps simply because ver. 26 concludes 
with nin> DK3 ; again, in ver. 20, 3tpJ£ ^V KIW^K nm is re- 
peated with nirp DS3 ? which is wanting in xxx. 11. On the 

CHAP. XLVII. 1. 197 

other hand, U^'l? in xxx. 11a, and "HK in xxx. lib, have 
been dropped ; D^ ; TnfaPBn (xxx. 11) has been exchanged for 
HOP Tnrnn. Hence Hitzio; has taken the text here to be the 

t t ' ■ : - ■ O 

better and the original one ; and on this he founds the supposi- 
tion that the verses were first placed here in the text, and were 
only afterwards, and from this passage, inserted in chap. xxx. 
10, 11, where, however, they stand in the best connection, and 
even for that reason could not be a gloss inserted there. Such 
are some of the contradictions in which critical scepticism 
involves itself. We have already given an explanation of these 
verses under chap. xxx. 

Chap, xlvii. Concerning the Philistines. 

Ver. 1. Title. — The word of the Lord against the Philistines 
came to Jeremiah u before Pharaoh smote Gaza." If we un- 
derstand this time-definition in such a way that a the prophecy 
would refer to the conquest of Gaza by Pharaoh," as Graf 
thinks, and as Hitzig also is inclined to suppose, then this 
portion of the title does not accord with the contents of the 
following prophecy ; for, according to ver. 2, the devastator of 
Philistia approaches from the north, and the desolation comes 
not merely on Gaza, but on all Philistia, and even Tyre and Sidon 
(vers. 4, 5). Hence Graf thinks that, if any one is inclined to 
consider the title as utterly incorrect, only two hypotheses are 
possible : either the author of the title overlooked the statement 
in ver. 2, that the hostile army was to come from the north ; in 
which case this conquest might have taken place at any time 
durins; the wearisome struffffles, fraught with such chancres 
of fortune, between the Chaldeans and the Egyptians for the 
possession of the border fortresses, during the reign of Jehoiakim 
(which is Ewald's opinion) : or he may possibly have noticed 
the statement, but found no difficulty in it ; in which case, in 
spite of all opposing considerations (see M. von Niebuhr, Gesch. 
Assyr. und Bah. p. 369), it must be assumed that the conquest 
was effected by the defeated army as it was returning from the 
Euphrates, when Necho, on his march home, reduced Gaza 
(Hitzig), and by taking this fortress from the enemy, barred 
the way to Egypt. Of these two alternatives, we can accept 
neither as probable. The neglect, on the part of the author of 


the title, to observe the statement that the enemy is to come 
from the north, would show too great carelessness for us to 
trust him. But if he did notice the remark, then it merely 
follows that Pharaoh must have reduced Gaza on his return, 
after being defeated at Carchemish. Nor is it legitimate to 
conclude, as Ewald does, from the statement in 2 Kings xxiv. 7 
(" The king of Egypt went no more out of his land ; for the king 
of Babylon had taken all that had belonged to the king of 
Egypt, from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates "), 
that the wars between the Chaldeans and the Egyptians for the 
possession of the border fortresses, such as Gaza, were tedious, 
and attended with frequent changes of fortune. In the connec- 
tion in which it stands, this statement merely shows that, after 
Nebuchadnezzar had made Jehoiakim his vassal, the latter could 
not receive any help from Egypt in his rebellion, after he had 
ruled three years, because Pharaoh did not venture to march 
out of his own territory any more. But it plainly follows from 
this, that Pharaoh cannot have taken the fortress of Gaza while 
retreating before Nebuchadnezzar. For, in this case, Nebu- 
chadnezzar would have been obliged to drive him thence before 
ever he could have reduced King Jehoiakim again to subjection. 
The assumption is difficult to reconcile with what Berosus says 
regarding the campaign of Nebuchadnezzar, viz. that he con- 
tinued in the field till he heard of the death of his father. Add 
to this, that, as M. von Niebuhr very rightly says, " there is 
every military probability against it" (i.e. against the assump- 
tion that Gaza was reduced by Necho en his retreat). " If this 
fortress had stood out till the battle of Carchemish, then it is 
inconceivable that a routed eastern army should have taken the 
city during its retreat, even though there were, on the line of 
march, the strongest positions on the Orontes, in Lebanon, etc., 
where it might have taken its stand." Hence Niebuhr thinks 
it " infinitely more improbable either that Gaza was conquered 
before the battle of Carchemish, about the same time as Ashdod, 
and that Jeremiah, in chap, xlvii., predicts the approach of the 
army which was still engaged in the neighbourhood of Nineveh ; 
or that the capture of the fortress did not take place till later, 
when Nebuchadnezzar was again engaged in Babylon, and that 
the prophet announces his return, not his first approach." 

CHAP. XLVII. 1. 199 

Rosenmiiller and Nagelsbach have declared in favour of the 
first of these suppositions. Both of them place the capture of 
Gaza in the time of Necho's march against the Assyrians under 
Josiah ; Rosenmiiller before the battle of Megiddo ; Nagels- 
bach after that encasement, because he assumes, with all 
modern expositors, that Necho had landed with his army at the 
Bay of Acre. He endeavours to support this view by the 
observation that Necho, before marching farther north, sought 
to keep the way clear for a retreat to Egypt, since he would 
otherwise have been lost after the battle of Carchemish, if he 
did not previously reduce Gaza, the key of the high road to 
Egypt. In this, Nagelsbach rightly assumes that the heading, 
" before Pharaoh smote Gaza," was not intended to show the 
fulfilment of the prophecy in the conquest of Gaza by Necho 
soon afterwards, but merely states that Jeremiah predicts to the 
Philistines that they will be destroyed by a foe from the north, 
at a time when conquest by a foe from the north was impend- 
ing over them. Rightly, too, does Niebuhr remark that, in 
support of the view that Gaza was taken after the battle at 
Carchemish, there is nothing more than the announcement of 
the attack from the north, and the arrangement of the prophecies 
in Jeremiah, in which that against the Philistines is placed after 
that about the battle at Carchemish. Hitzig and Graf lay 
great weight upon this order and arrangement, and thence con- 
clude that all the prophecies against the nations in chap, xlvi.- 
xlix., with the exception of that regarding Elam, were uttered in 
the fourth year of Jehoiakim. There are no sufficient grounds 
for this conclusion. The agreement between this prophecy now 
before us and that in chap, xlvi., as regards particular figures 
and expressions (Graf), is too insignificant to afford a proof that 
the two belong to the same time ; nor is much to be made out 
of the point so strongly insisted on by Hitzig, that after the 
Egyptians, as the chief nation, had been treated of, the author 
properly brings forward those who, from the situation of their 
country, must be visited by war immediately before it is sent on 
the Egyptians. The main foundation for this view is taken 
from the notice by Herodotus (ii. 159), that Necho, after the 
battle at Magdolos, took the large Syrian city KdSvris. Mag- 
dolos is here taken as a variation of Megiddo, and Kadytis of 


Gaza. But neither Hitzig nor Stark have proved the identity 
of Kadytis with Gaza, as we have already remarked on 2 Kings 
xxiii. 33 ; so that we cannot safely draw any conclusion, re- 
garding the time when Gaza was taken, from that statement 
of Herodotus. In consequence of the want of evidence from 
other sources, the date of this event cannot be more exactly 

From the contents of this prophecy and its position among 
the oracles against the nations, we can draw no more than a 
very probable inference that it was not published before the 
fourth year of Jehoiakim, inasmuch as it is evidently but a 
further amplification of the sentence pronounced in that year 
against all the nations, and recorded in chap. xxv. Thus all 
conjectures as to the capture of Gaza by Necho on his march 
to the Euphrates, before the battle at Carchemish, become very 
precarious. But the assumption is utterly improbable also, that 
Necho at a later period, whether in his flight before the Chal- 
deans, or afterwards, while Nebuchadnezzar was occupied in 
Babylon, undertook an expedition against Philistia: such a 
hypothesis is irreconcilable with the statement given in 2 Kings 
xxiv. 7. There is thus no course left open for us, but to under- 
stand, by the Pharaoh of the title here, not Necho, but his 
successor Hophra: this has been suggested by Kaschi, who 
refers to Jer. xxxvii. 5, 11, and by Perizonius, in his Origg. 
JEgypt. p. 459, who founds on the notices of Herodotus (ii. 261) 
and of Diodorus Siculus, i. 68, regarding the naval battle 
between Apries on the one hand and the Cyprians and Phoeni- 
cians on the other. From these notices, it appears pretty certain 
that Pharaoh-Hophra sought to avenge the defeat of Necho 
on the Chaldeans, and to extend the power of Egypt in Asia. 
Hence it is also very probable that he took Gaza, with the view 
of getting into his hands this key of the highway to Egypt. 
This assumption we regard as the most probable, since nothing 
has been made out against it ; there are no sufficient grounds 
for the opinion that this prophecy belongs to the same time as 
that in chap. xlvi. 

Contents of the Prophecy. — From the north there pours 
forth a river, inundating fields and cities, whereupon lamenta- 
tion begins. Every one flees in haste before the sound of the 

CHAP. XLVII. 2-7. 201 

hostile arm)*, for the day of desolation is come on all Philistia 
and Phoenicia (vers. 2-4). The cities of Philistia mourn, for 
the sword of the Lord is incessantly active among them (vers. 
5-7). This brief prophecy thus falls into two strophes : in the 
first (vers. 2-4), the ruin that is breaking over Philistia is de- 
scribed ; in the second (vers. 5-7), its operation on the country 
and on the people. 

Ver. 2. " Thus saith Jahveh : Behold, waters shall rise up 
out of the north, and shall become an inundating stream, and 
they shall inundate the land and its fulness, cities and those 
who dwell in them ; and men shall cry, and all the inhabitants 
of the land shall howl. Ver. 3. Because of the sound of the 
trampling of the hoofs of his strong horses, because of the din 
of his chariots, the noise of his wheels, fathers do not look back 
to their children from weakness of hands ; Ver. 4. Because of 
the day that cometh to destroy all the Philistines, to cut off from 
Tyre and Zidon every one remaining as a helper ; for Jahveh 
destroyeth the Philistines, the remnant of the coast of Caphtor. 
Ver. 5. Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is destroyed, 
the rest of their plain. How long wilt thou cut thyself ? Ver. 
6. O sword of Jahveh, how long wilt thou not rest? Draw thy- 
self back into thy sheath ; rest, and be still. Ver. 7. How canst 
thou be quiet, when Jahveh hath commanded thee ? Against 
Ashkelon and against the sea-coast, there hath He appointed it." 

The address opens with a figure. The hostile army that 
is to devastate Philistia is represented as a stream of water, 
breaking; forth from the north, and swelling to an overflowing 
winter-torrent, that inundates the country and cities w T ith their 
inhabitants. The figure is often used : cf. xlvi. 7, 8, where the 
Egyptian host is compared to the waves of the Nile ; and Isa. 
viii. 7, where the Assyrian army is likened to the floods of the 
Euphrates. The simile is applied here in another way. The 
figure is taken from a strong spring of water, coming forth 
in streams out of the ground, in the north, and swelling to 
an overflowing winter-torrent, that pours out its floods over 
Philistia, laying it waste. " From the north " is used here as 
in xlvi. 20, and points back to i. 13, 14. " An inundating 
stream " is here employed as in Isa. xxx. 20 ; " earth and its 
fulness, a city and those who dwell in it," as in viii. 16. In 


ver. 3 follows the application of the figure. It is a martial 
host that overflows the land, and with its mighty noise puts the 
inhabitants in such terror that they think only of a hasty flight ; 
even fathers do not turn back to save their children. n 9^> 


arrr. ^ey., Syriac ^^a, incedere, gradi, hence probably the 

stamping of hoofs. B 1 T? J *, strong horses, as in viii. 16. 
in3"y, instead of the construct state, has perhaps been chosen 
only for the sake of introducing a variation ; cf . Ewald, § 290, a. 
njsrij to turn the back, as in xlvi. 5. " Slackness of hands," 
i.e. utter loss of courage through terror ; cf . vi. 24 (the form 
P"S"i only occurs here). In ver. 4 the deeper source of fear is 
mentioned ; " because of the day," i.e. because the day has 
come to destroy all the Philistines, namely, the day of the 
judgment determined by the Lord ; cf. xlvi. 10. " In order to 
destroy every remnant helping Tyre and Zidon." ")T'y THtJ> are 
the Philistines, who could afford help to the Phoenicians in the 
struggle against the Chaldean power. This implies that the 
Phoenicians also shall perish without any one to help them. 
This indirect mention of the Phoenicians appears striking, but 
it is to be explained partly on the ground that Jeremiah has 
uttered special prophecies only against the chief enemies of 
Judah, and partly also perhaps from the historical relations, i.e. 
from the fact that the Philistines might have afforded help to 
the Phoenicians in the struggles against the great powers of the 
world. Hitzig unnecessarily seeks to take fTPXp "^r as the 
object, and to expunge "\T}J T"}^"?3 as a gloss. The objections 
which he raises against the construction are groundless, as is 
shown by such passages as xliv. 7, Isa. xiv. 22, 1 Kings xiv. 
10, etc. "The remaining helper" is the expression used, 
because the other nations that could help the Egyptians, viz. 
the Syrians and Phoenicians, had already succumbed to the 
Chaldean power. The destruction will be so great as this, 
because it is Jahveh who destroys the Philistines, the remnant 
of the coast of Caphtor. According to Amos ix. 7, Deut. 
ii. 23, the Philistines came from Caphtor ; hence "tifiED ''N THSt? 
can only mean "what still remains of the people of Philistia 
who come from the coast of Caphtor," like " the remnant of 
the Philistines " in Amos i. 8. Opinions are divided as to 

CHAP. XLVII. 2-7. 203 

Caphtor. The prevailing view is that of Lakemacher, that 
Caphtor is the name of the island of Crete ; but for this there 
are no tenable grounds : see on Zeph. ii. 5 ; and Delitzsch on 
Genesis, S. 248, Aufl. 4. Dietrich (in Men? Arcltiv. i. S. 313 ff.) 
and Ebers (JEgypten u. die Backer Moses, i. S. 130 ff.) agree 
in thinking that Caphtor is the shore of the Delta, but they 
explain the name differently. Dietrich derives it from the 
Egyptian Kah-pet-H6r (district of Hor), which he takes to be 
the environs of the city of Buto, and the lake called after it 
(the modern Burlos), not far from the Sebennytic mouth of 
the Nile ; Ebers, following the tablet of Canopus, in which the 
Egyptian name Kfa (Kaf) is given as that of Phoenicia, 
derives the name from Kaf-t-ur, i.e. the great Kefa, as the 
ancient seat of the Phoenicians on the shore of the Delta must 
have been called. But both explanations are still very doubt- 
ful, though there is no question about the migration of the 
Philistines from Egypt into Canaan. — Vers. 5-7. The prophet 
sees, in the spirit, the threatened desolation as already come 
upon Philistia, and portrays it in its effects upon the people 
and the country. " Baldness (a sign of the deepest and most 
painful sorrow) has come upon Gaza ; " cf. Mic. i. 16. ^^"1? 
is rendered by the Vulgate conticuit. After this Graf and 
Niigelsbach take the meaning of being " speechless through 
pain and sorrow ; " cf. Lam. ii. 10. Others translate " to be 
destroyed." Both renderings are lexically permissible, for HOT 
and DOT have both meanings. In support of the first, the 
parallelism of the members has been adduced ; but this is not 
decisive, for figurative and literal representations are often 
interchanged. On the whole, it is impossible to reach any 
definite conclusion ; for both renderings give suitable ideas, 
and these not fundamentally different in reality the one from 
the other. Djjoy rVW, "the rest of their valley" (the suffix 
referring to Gaza and Ashkelon), is the low country round 
about Gaza and Ashkelon, which are specially mentioned from 
their being the two chief fortresses of Philistia. PPV is suit- 
ably applied to the low -lying belt of country, elsewhere 
called n^V', " the low country," as distinguished from the 
hill-country ; for pOV does not always denote a deep valley, 
but is also sometimes used, as in Josh. xvii. 16, etc., of the 


plain of Jezreel, and of other plains which are far from being 
deeply-sunk valleys. Thus there is no valid reason for follow- 
ing the arbitrary translation of the LXX., real ra Kajakonra 
'Evaiceifji,, and changing Di?»y into ttpjg, as Hitzig and Graf 
do; more especially is it utterly improbable that in the Chaldean 
period Anakim were still to be found in Philistia. The men- 
tion of them, moreover, is out of place here ; and still less can 
we follow Graf in his belief that the inhabitants of Gath 
are the " rest of the Anakim." In the last clause of ver. 5, 
Philistia is set forth as a woman, who tears her body (with her 
nails) in despair, makes incisions on her body ; cf . xvi. 6, 
xli. 5. The question, li How long dost thou tear thyself ? " 
forms a transition to the plaintive request, " Gather thyself," 
i.e. draw thyself back into thy scabbard. But the seer replies, 
" How can it rest *? for Jahveh hath given it a commission 
against Ashkelon and the Philistine sea-coast." For *Bfc*i, in 
ver. 7, we must read the 3d pers. fern. Bplfri, as the following 
rh shows. The form probably got into the text from an 
oversight, through looking at ""ttptyn in ver. 6. C*n *pn " the 
sea-coast," a designation of Philistia, as in Ezek. xxv. 16. 

The prophecy concludes without a glance at the Messianic 
future. The threatened destruction of the Philistines has 
actually begun with the conquest of Philistia by Nebuchad- 
nezzar, but has not yet culminated in the extermination of the 
people. The extermination and complete extirpation are thus 
not merely repeated by Ezekiel, xxv. 15 ff., but after the exile 
the threats are once more repeated against the Philistines by 
Zechariah (ix. 5) : they only reached their complete fulfilment 
when, as Zechariah announces, in the addition made to Isa. 
xiv. 30 ff., their idolatry also was removed from them, and their 
incorporation into the Church of God was accomplished through 
judgment. Cf. the remarks on Zeph. ii. 10. 

Chap, xlviii. Concerning Moab. 

The Moabites had spread themselves on the eastern side of 
the Dead Sea, where the Emims dwelt in former times (Deut. 
ii. 10). But previous to the immigration of the Israelites into 
Canaan, the Amorites, under King Sihon, had already taken 
forcible possession of the northern portion of this territory as 


far as the Arnon (Num. xxi. 13). The Israelites, on their 
march through the desert, were not to treat the Moabites as 
enemies, nor touch their territory (Deut. ii. 9 ; cf. Judg. xi. 
15, 18). But when Sihon, king of the Amorites, had been 
slain by the Israelites, and his kingdom subdued, the Israelites 
took possession of the territory north of the Arnon, that had 
formerly belonged to the Moabites, but had been conquered 
by Sihon : this was given to the tribe of Reuben for an 
inheritance (Num. xxi. 24 ff. ; Deut. ii. 32-36 ; Josh. xiii. 
15 ff.). The Moabites could not get over this loss of the 
northern half of their country. The victory of the Israelites 
over the powerful kings of the Amorites, viz. Sihon in Hesh- 
bon and Og of Bashan, inspired them with terror for the power 
of this people; so that their king Balak, while the Israelites were 
encamped in the steppes of Moab opposite Jericho, fetched 
Balaam the sorcerer from Mesopotamia, with the design of 
destroying Israel through the power of his anathema. And 
when this plan did not succeed, since Balaam was obliged, 
against his will, to bless Israel instead of cursing them, the 
Moabites sought to weaken them, and to render them powerless 
to do any injury, by seducing them to idolatry (cf. Num. xxii.- 
xxv.). Such malicious conduct was shown repeatedly afterwards. 
Not long after the death of Joshua, Eglon the king of Moab, 
aided by the Ammonites and Amalekites, crossed the Jordan 
and took Jericho, which he made the centre of operations for 
keeping the Israelites under subjection : these were thus op- 
pressed for eighteen years, until they succeeded in defeating 
the Moabites and driving them back into their own land, after 
Ehud had assassinated King Eglon (Judg. iii. 12 ff.). At a 
later period, Saul made war on them (1 Sam. xiv. 47) ; and 
David completely subdued them, severely chastised them, and 
made them tributary (2 Sam. viii. 2). But after the death of 
Ahab, to whom King Mesha had paid a very considerable 
yearly tribute (2 Kings iii. 4), they revolted from Israel 
(2 Kings i. 1, iii. 5). In the time of Jehoshaphat, in conjunc- 
tion with the Ammonites and a portion of the Edomites, they 
even invaded Judah, with the design of taking Jerusalem ; but 
they ruined themselves through mutual discords, so that Jeho- 
shaphat obtained a glorious victory over them (2 Chron. xx.). 


It was possibly also with the view of taking revenge for this 
exhibition of malicious spirit that the king of Judah afterwards, 
in conjunction with Joram king of Israel, carried war into their 
country, and defeated them (2 Kings iii. 6-27). Still later, 
mention is made of an invasion of Israel by Moabite hosts 
during the reign of Joash (2 Kings xiii. 20) ; and in the time 
of Hezekiah, we find them once more in possession of their 
ancient territory to the north of the Arnon, at a time when the 
trans-Jordanic tribes of Israel had been carried away by the 
Assyrians into exile. 

Judging from these aphoristic notices, the Moabites, on the 
division of the kingdom after Solomon's death, seem to have re- 
mained tributary to the kingdom of the ten tribes until the death 
of Ahab; then they revolted, but soon afterwards were once more 
reduced to subjection by Joram and Jehoshaphat. Still later, 
they certainly made several invasions into Israel, but without 
permanent result ; nor was it till the carrying away of the 
trans-Jordanic tribes by the Assyrians that they succeeded in 
regaining permanent possession of the depopulated land of 
Reuben, their former territory. This account, however, has 
been modified in several important respects by the recent dis- 
covery of an inscription on a monument raised by King Mesh a 
after a victory he had gained ; this " Moabite stone " was found 
in the neighbourhood of the ancient Dibon. The deciphering 
of the long inscription of thirty-four lines on this memorial 
stone, so far as success has followed the attempts hitherto made, 
has issued in its giving important disclosures concerning the 
relation of Moab to Israel. 1 From these we gather that Omri, 

1 On the discovery of this memorial stone, of which Count de Vogue gave 
the first account in a paper entitled " La stele de Mesa: Lettre a Mr. le 
Comte de Vogue par Ch. Clermont- Ganneau," Paris 1870, cf. the detailed 
notice by Petermann in the Zeitschr. der Deutsche!! Morg. Gesell. xxiv. (for 
1870), S. 640 ff. The stone was broken to pieces by the Arabs ; thus, un- 
fortunately, the whole of the inscription has not been preserved. So much, 
however, of the fragments has been saved, that from these the contents of 
the inscription may be substantially obtained with tolerable certainty. The 
work of deciphering has been undertaken by Konst. Schlottmann ( Ueber die 
Siegessdide Mesa's, Konigs der Moabiter, Hall. Osterprogr. 1870, with these 
additions: " Die Inschri/t Mesa's; Transcription u. Uebersetzung revidirt" 
in the Zeitschr. der Morg. Gesell. xxiv. S. 253 ff. ; " Additamenta " in 
the same periodical, S. 415 ff., 438 ff., 645 ff. ; and "Der Moabiterkonig 


king of Israel, had taken possession of the district of Medeba, 
and that the Moabites were heavily oppressed by him and his 
successor for forty years, until King Mesha succeeded, through 
the help of his god Chemosh, in regaining the territory that 
had been seized by the Israelites. We may further with cer- 
tainty conclude, from various statements in this inscription, 
that the Moabites were by no means exterminated by the 
Israelites, when they took possession of the country to the north 
of the Arnon, which had been seized by the Amorites ; they 
continued to live beside and among the Israelites. Moreover, 
since the tribe of Reuben was chiefly engaged in the rearing 
of cattle, and thus appropriated the pastoral districts of the 
country, the Moabites were not utterly, at least not permanently 
subdued, but rather took every opportunity of weakening the 
Israelites, in order not merely to reclaim their old possessions, 
but also to make themselves independent of Israel. This object 
they seem to have actually attained, even so soon as immediately 
after the death of Solomon. They continued independent until 
the powerful Omri restored the supremacy of Israel in the 
territory of Reuben; and Moab continued subject for forty 
years, at the end of which King Mesha again succeeded in 
breaking the yoke of Israel after the death of Ahab. Thence- 
forward, Israel never again got the upper hand, though Jero- 
boam II. (as we are entitled to conclude from 2 Kings xiv. 25) 
may have disputed the supremacy with the Moabites for a 

Amos (ii. 1-3) and Isaiah (chap. xv. and xvi.) have already, 

Mesa nach seiner Inschrift und nach den bibl. Berichten," in the Theol. Stud, 
u. Kritiken, 1871, S. 587 ff.), also by Theod. Nbldeke ("Die Inschrift des R. 
Mesa," Kiel 1870), Ferd. Hitzig ("D/e Inschrift des Mesha;' Heidelb. 1870), 
Himpel (b the Tub. Theol. Quartalschr. 1870, H. 4, and in Merx' Archiv, 
ii. S. 96 ff.), Diestel (" Die moabit. Gedenktafel," in the Jahrb. f. dcutsche 
Theol. 1871 (H. 4), S. 215ff.), Rabbi Dr. Geiger (" Die Suule des Mesa," in 
the Zeitschr. der Morg. Ges. xxiv. S. 212 ff.), Dr. Ginsburg (" The Moabite 
Stone" Lond. 1870), Ganneau (in the Revue arche'ol.) ; by Derenburg and 
others (in German, English, and French periodicals). [In addition to the 
work of Dr. Ginsburg, mentioned above, the English reader may consult an 
able article by Professor Wright in the North British Review for October 
1870 ; one by W. H. Ward in the Bibliotheca Sacra of the same date ; and 
another by Prof. A. B. Davidson in the British and Foreign Evangelical 
Review for January 1871. — Tu.] 


before Jeremiah, threatened Moab with destruction, because of 
the acts of hostility against Israel of which they have been 
guilty. We have no historical notice concerning the fulfilment 
of these threatenings. Inasmuch as the power of the Assyrians 
in Eastern Asia was broken through the defeat of Sennacherib 
before Jerusalem, the Moabites may possibly have asserted their 
independence against the Assyrians. Certainly it seems to 
follow, from the remark in 1 Chron. v. 17 (that the families of 
Gad were reckoned by genealogies in the days of Jotham king 
of Judah), that some of the Israelites on the east of Jordan 
came for a time under the sway of Judah. But even though 
this were allowed to hold true of the tribe of Reuben also, such 
a mastery could not have lasted long, since even towards the 
end of Jotham's reign, Pekah the king of Israel joined with 
Hazael king of Syria in war against Judah (2 Kings xv. 37) ; 
and during the reign of Ahaz, Rezin invaded Gilead, and pene- 
trating as far as the seaport of Elath, took it from Judah 
(2 Kings xvi. 6). At all events, up till the time of Nebuchad- 
nezzar, the threats of Amos and Isaiah had attained only the 
feeblest beginnings of fulfilment ; and (as is abundantly evident 
from the prophecy in this chapter) the Moabites were then 
more powerful than ever they had been before, and in undis- 
turbed possession also of that portion of their ancient territory 
lying north of the Arnon, which had been taken from them by 
Sihon the Amorite ; and after his defeat, the victorious Israel- 
ites had again apportioned it to the tribe of Reuben. 

This prophecy of Jeremiah concerning Moab is to be ex- 
plained on the ground of these historical relations. The day 
of ruin was to begin with the appearance of the Chaldeans in 
Palestine ; this day had been predicted not merely by Amos 
and Isaiah, but even by Balaam, on the occasion of the first 
conflict of the Moabites with Israel. Jeremiah accordingly 
takes up anew the utterances of the old prophets regarding 
Moab which had not yet been fulfilled, but were now about to 
receive their accomplishment : these he reproduces in his own 
peculiar manner, taking as his foundation the oracular sen- 
tences of Isaiah concerning Moab, and combining these by 
means of the utterances of Amos and Balaam, not only regard- 
ing Moab, but also regarding the whole heathen world now ripe 


for judgment; and out of all this he frames a comprehensive 
announcement of the ruin to fall on this people, so haughty, and 
so filled with hatred against Israel. 1 

The contents of this announcement are as follow : — The 
chief cities of Moab are perished, and with them their fame. 
Plans are beinjr concocted for their destruction. On all sides 
there is a crying over the devastation, and wailing, and flight ; 
Chemosh, with his priests and princes, wanders into exile, and 
country and city are laid waste (vers. 1-8). Let Moab escape 
with wings, in order to avoid the destruction; for although they 
have, in all time past, lived securely in their own land, they 
shall now be driven out of their dwellings, and come to dishonour 
with their god Chemosh, in spite of the bravery of their heroes 
(vers. 9-15). The destruction of Moab draws near, their glory 
perishes, the whole country and all its towns are laid waste, and 
the power of Moab is broken (vers. 16-25). All this befalls 
them for their pride and loftiness of spirit ; because of this they 
are punished, with the destruction of their glorious vines and 
their harvest ; and the whole land becomes filled with sorrow 
and lamentation over the desolation, and the extermination of 
all those who make offerings to idols (vers. 26-35). Meanwhile 
the prophet mourns with the hapless people, who are broken like 
a despised vessel (vers. 36-38). Moab becomes the laughing- 
stock and the horror of all around: the enemy captures all their 
fortresses, and none shall escape the ruin (vers. 39-44). Fire 
goes out from Heshbon and destroys the whole land, and the 

1 This reproduction Gesenius (on Isaiah, p. 511) characterizes as " a 
feeble imitation, by which the text of the older author is made quite diffuse 
and watery, frequently mixed through in a wonderful manner, made into a 
kind of patchwork, and enlivened now and again by a stiff turn." Movers 
and Hitzig have spoken still more depreciatingly of this chapter, and excised 
a great number of verses, on the ground of their having been introduced 
later by way of touching up ; in this manner, Hitzig rejects as spurious 
verses which Movers recognises as exhibiting marks of Jeremiah's peculiar 
style, — a method of procedure which Graf has already denounced as arbi- 
trary criticism. We hope to show in the commentary the total want of 
foundation for this pseudo-critical mode of dealing ; we only make the 
further remark here by anticipation, that Kueper (on Jeremiah, p. 83 sqq.) 
has very clearly accounted for and vindicated the conduct of Jeremiah in 
making use of the expressions of previous prophets, while Movers and Hitzig 
have paid no regard to this thorough kind of work. 



people must go into captivity ; but at the end of the days, the 
Lord will turn the captivity of Moab (vers. 45-47). According 
to this view of the whole, this prophecy falls into seven strophes 
of unequal length, of which every one concludes either with "lEN 
nirv or '"lin" 1 DS3. The middle one, which is also the longest 
(vers. 26-35), forms an apparent exception, inasmuch as DN? 
nirv does not stand at the end, but in the middle of ver. 35 ; 
while in the second last strophe (vers. 39-44), the last two 
verses (43 and 44) end with this formula. 

Vers. 1-8. Calamities to come on Moab. — Ver. 1. " Thus 
saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel, Woe to Nebo, for it 
is laid waste ! Kiriathaim is come to dishonour, it is taken : 
the fortress is come to dishonour and broken down. Ver. 2. 
Moab's glory is no more. In Heshbon they have devised evil 
against her, [saying], Come, and let us cut her off from [being] 
a nation : thou also, O Madmen, art brought to silence ; the 
sword shall go after thee. Ver. 3. A sound of crying from 
Horonaim, desolation and great destruction. Ver. 4. Moab is 
destroyed ; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard. Ver. 
5. For they ascend the ascent of Luhith with weeping, — weep- 
ing : for on the descent of Horonaim the enemies have heard 
a cry of destruction. Ver. 6. Flee, save your life ! and be like 
one destitute in the wilderness. Ver. 7. For, because thy 
trust [was] in thy works, and in thy treasures, thou also shalt 
be taken ; and Chemosh shall go into cnptivity, his priests and 
his princes together. Ver. 8. The destroyer shall come to 
every city, and no city shall escape ; and the valley shall perish, 
and the plain shall be laid waste, as Jahveh hath said." 

With the exclamation " Woe !" Jeremiah transports the 
hearers of the word of God at once into the midst of the 
catastrophe which is to come on Moab ; this is with the view 
of humbling the pride of this people, and chastening them for 
their sins. The woe is uttered over Nebo, but holds also of the 
towns named afterwards. Nebo is not the mountain of that name 
(Deut. xxxii. 49, xxxiv. 1), but the city, which probably did not 
lie far from the peak in the mountain-range of Abarim, which 
bore the same name (Num. xxxii. 3, 38 ; Isa. xv. 2), although 
in the Onomasticon, s.v. Naftav, the situation of the mountain 
is given as being six Roman miles from Heshbon, towards the 

CHAP. XLVIII. 1-8. 211 

west, and s.v. Naficop, that of the city, eight Roman miles south 
from Heshbon, for both accounts point to a situation in the 

south-west. The name 1x5 is still applied to some ruins; cf. 

Robinson's Palestine, iii. p. 170. "Kiriathaim is taken." The 
site of this town, mentioned as early as Gen. xiv. 5, has been 
fixed, since the time of Burckhardt, as that of a mass of ruins 
called et Teim, about five miles south of Heshbon ; but Dietrich, 
in Merx Archiv. i. S. 337 ff., has shown that this is incorrect. 
According to Eusebius, in his Onomasticon, Kiriathaim lay ten 
Roman miles to the west of Medeba: this suits not merely the 
position of et Teim, but also the ruins of Kereyat south-west 
from Medeba, on the ridge of Mount Attarus, a little to the 
south of M'kaur (Machaerus), and of Baara in the Wady Zerka 
Maein, where also is the plain mentioned in Gen. xiv. 5, either 
in the plain stretching direct east from Kereyat between Wady 
Zerka Maein and Wady Wal, or south-east in the beautiful 
plain el Kura, described by Burckhardt, p. 371 ff., between 
the Wal and the Mojeb. Nebo and Kiriathaim lay on the 
eastern border of the high range of mountains, and seem to be 
comprehended under 33^'Sl 1 , " the height, the high fortress," in 
the third clause of ver. 1, as the representatives of the moun- 
tain country of Moab. Various expositors, certainly, take the 
word as a proper name designating an elevated region ; Graf 
and Nagelsbach take it to be a name of Kir-Moab (Kir-heres* 
Kir-haresheth, vers. 31, 36), the chief fortress in the country, 
the modern Kerek in the southern part of Moab ; but no valid 
proof has been adduced. By "the height" Hitzig understands 
the highlands, which learn of the fall of these towns in the 
lowlands, and feel this disgrace that has come on Moab, but 
have not yet themselves been taken. But this view is unten- 
able, because the towns of Nebo and Kiriathaim are not situated 
in the level country. Again, since nt^Qfrl is common to the two 
clauses, the distinction between nnspJ and nnn could hardly be 
pressed so far as to make the latter the opposite of the former, 
in the sense of being still unconquered. The meaning rather is, 
that through Nebo's being laid waste, and the capture of Kiria- 
thaim, the fortress on which the Moabites trusted is no more. 
And to this ver. 3 appropriately adds, " the boasting of Moab 


is gone," i.e. Moab has no more ground for boasting. " In 
Heshbon they (the enemy, or the conquerors) plot evil against 
Moab." Heshbon was formerly the capital of the Amorite 
kingdom of Sihon (Num. xxi. 26; Deut. ii. 24, etc.), and was 
assigned to the tribe of Reuben (Josh. xiii. 17) ; but because 
it lay on the boundary of the territory belonging to the tribe, 
it was given up to the Gadites, and set apart as a Levitical city 
(Josh. xxi. 37). It lay ten Roman miles east from the Jordan, 
opposite Jericho, almost intermediate between the Arnon and the 
Jabbok, and is still pointed out, though in ruins, under the old 
name Heshbdn {see on Num. xxxii. 37). At the time of Jere- 
miah it was taken possession of by the Ammonites (Jer. xlix. 3), 
consequently it was the frontier town of the Moabite territory 
at that time ; and being such, it is here named as the town 
where the enemy, coming from the north, deliberate regarding 
the conquest of Moab — "meditate evil," i.e. decide upon conquest 
and devastation. The suffix of nvV refers to Moab as a country, 
and hence is feminine ; cf. ver. 4. " We will destroy it 
(Moab) '■fa!?, so that it shall no longer be a nation." Just as in 
ttCJTi 133BTI2 there is a play on the words, so is there also in the 
expression VaMn JEHO which follows. This very circumstance 
forms an argument for taking Madmen as a proper name, in- 
stead of an appellative, as Venema and Hitzig have done, after 
the example of the LXX. : " Yea, thou shalt be destroyed (and 
made into) a dunghill." In support of this rendering they 
point to 2 Kings x. 27, Ezra vi. 11. But the verb EOT, in its 
meaning, ill accords with ft?*"!?? in the sense of a dung-heap, and 
in this case there would be no foundation for a play upon the 
words (Graf). It is no proof of the non-existence of a place 
called Madmen in Moab, that it is not mentioned elsewhere ; 
Madmena in the tribe of Benjamin (Isa. x. 31), and Madmanna 
in Judah (Josh. xv. 31), are also mentioned but once. These 
passages rather show that the name Madmen was not uncommon; 
and it was perhaps with reference to this name that Isaiah 
(xxv. 10) chose the figure of the dunghill. DOT, to be silent, 
means, in the Niphal, to be brought to silence, be exterminated, 
perish ; cf. xlix. 26, xxv. 37, viii. 14, etc. As to the form "'STO 
instead of Wi, c f. Ewald, § 140, b ; Gesenius, § 67, Rem. 5. The 
following clause refers to Madmen : " after thee shall the sword 

CHAP. XLVIII. 1-8. 213 

go ;" cf. ix. 15. — Ver. 3. A cry is heard from Horonaim against 
violence and destruction. The words 7hi "UBn *w are to be taken 
as the cry itself; cf. iv. 20, xx. 8. The city of Horonaim, men- 
tioned both here and in Isa. xv. 5 in connection with Luhith, 
lay on a slope, it would seem, not far from Luhith. Regarding 
this latter place we find it remarked in the Onomasticon: est usque 
hodie vicus inter Areopolim et Zoaram nomine Luitha {Aoveidd). 
As to 'flpovaei/j,, the Onomasticon says no more than ir6\i$ 
Mcoa/3 iv 'Iepe/jbia (ed. Lars. p. 376). The destruction over 
which the outcry is made comes on Moab. By " Moab " Graf 
refuses to understand the country or its inhabitants, but rather 
the ancient capital of the country, Ar-Moab (Num. xxi. 28; Isa. 
xv. 1), in the valley of the Arnon, which is also simply called 
Ar in Num. xxi. 15, Dent. ii. 9. But, as Dietrich has already 
shown (S. 329 ff.), the arguments adduced in support of this 
view are insufficient to prove the point. 1 12f } to break, — of 
a nation or a city (xix. 11; Isa. xiv. 25, etc.), as it were, to 
ruin, — is here used of the country or kingdom. n^JWf is for 
nn"^ as in xiv. 3. The little ones of Moab, that raise a cry, 
are neither the children (Vulgate, Dahler, Maurer), nor the small 
towns (Hitzig), nor the people of humble condition, but cives 
Moabi ad station miserum dejecti (Kueper). The LXX. have 
rendered els Zoyopa (i.e. n ^^), which reading is preferred by 
J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Umbreit, Graf, Nagelsbach, but with- 
out sufficient reason ; for neither the occurrence of Zoar in 
combination with Horonaim in ver. 34, nor the parallel passage 
Isa. xv. 5, will prove the point. Isa. xv. 5 is not a parallel to 
this verse, but to ver. 34 ; however, the train of thought is diffe- 

1 The mention of Moab among names of cities in ver. 4, and in connection 
with Kir-heres in vers. 81 and 36, proves nothing ; for in ver. 4 Moab is 
not named among towns, and the expression in vers. 31 and 36 is analogous 
to the phrase " Judah and Jerusalem." Nor can any proof be derived from 
the fact that Eabbath-Moab is merely called " Moab" in the Onomasticon 
of Eusebius, and Mub in Abulfeda, and Kabbath-Ammon, now merely 
" Amman ;" because this mode of speaking will not admit of being applied 
for purposes of proof to matters pertaining to Old Testament times, since it 
oiiginated only in tbe Christian ages,— at a time, too, when Kabbath had 
become the capital of the country, and when Kabbath-Moab could easily be 
shortened by the common people into " Moab." Rabbath (of Moab), how- 
ever, is not mentioned at all in the Old Testament. 


rent from that before us here. Besides, Jeremiah writes the 
name of the town "iy'S (not "Wis), cf. ver. 34, as in Isa. xv. 5, 
Deut. xxxiv. 3, Gen. xiii. 10 ("Wis occurs only in Gen. xix. 22, 
30) ; hence it is unlikely that TIJ7X has been written by mistake 
for -1JW?. 

In ver. 5 this idea is further elucidated. The inhabitants 
flee, weeping as they go, towards the south, before the con- 
quering enemy advancing from the north, up the ascent of 
Luhith, and down the descent of Horonaim. The idea is 
taken from Isa. xv. 5, but applied by Jeremiah in his own 
peculiar manner; i3 n?y* is changed into *33 HPIP, and the 
notion of weeping is thereby intensified. We take "SB. as an 
adverbial accusative, but in fact it is to be rendered like the 
preceding , 323; and n?jr stands with an indefinite nominative: 
"one ascends = they ascend," not "weeping rises over weep- 
ing," as Hitzig, Graf, and others take it. For, in the latter 
case, V?13 could not be separated from *33, nor stand first; cf. 
the instances adduced by Graf, rutfa n:& and |W3 |W. The 
form riin^n for n^n^n is either an error of transcription or an 
optional form, and there is no ground for taking the word as 
appellative, as Hitzig does, " the ascent of boards, i.e. as boards 
tower one above another, so does weeping rise," — an unnatural 
figure, and one devoid of all taste. The last words of the second 
member of the verse present some difficulty, chiefly on account 
of ""]¥, which the LXX. have omitted, and which Ewald and 
Umbreit set down as spurious, although (as Graf rightly re- 
marks) they do not thereby explain how it came into the text. 
To suppose, with the Rabbinical writers, that the construct 
state ^S stands for the absolute, is not only inadmissible, as 
being against the principles of grammar, but also contrary to 
the whole scope of the passage. The context shows that the 
clamour cannot proceed from the enemy, but only from the 
fugitive Moabites. Only two explanations are possible : either 
*y$ must be taken in the sense of angustice, and in connec- 
tion with npJJS, " straits, distress of crying," a cry of distress, 
as De Wette does ; or, " oppressors of the cry of distress," as 
Nagelsbach takes it. We prefer the former, in spite of the 
objection of Graf, that the expression " distress of crying," for 
" a cry of distress," would be a strange one : for this objection 

CHAP. XLVIII. 1-8. 215 

may be made against his own explanation, that *TC means the 
bursting open of the mouth in making a loud cry ; and nj?yr *Vt 
is a loud outcry for help. — Ver. 6. Only by a precipitate 
flight into the desert can the Moabites save even their lives. 
The summons to flee is merely a rhetorical expression for the 
thought that there is no safety to be had in the country. To 
^"^ in ve r» 6 we must supply rrit?33 as the subject: "your 
souls shall be." Ewald would change 03K ; B3 mto D ?"'^- 5 Dut 
this proposal has against it the fact that the plural form 0^23 
is found in but a single case, Ezek. xiii. 20, and nit2>D3 every- 
where else : besides, K>23 is often used in the singular of several 
persons, as in 2 Sam. xix. 6, and may further be easily taken 
here in a distributive sense; cf. tata &t& «^>D } li. 6. The 
assumption of C. B. Michaelis, Eosenmuller, Maurer, [and of 
the translators of our "Authorized" English Version], that 
n;viri is the second person, and refers to the cities, i.e. their 
inhabitants, is against the context. "U'VU! cannot here be the 
name of a town, because neither Aroer in the tribe of Reuben, 
which was situated on the Arnon, nor Aroer of the tribe of 
Gad, which was before Rabbath-Ammon, lay in the wilder- 
ness ; the comparison, too, of the fugitives to a city is unsuit- 
able. The clause reminds us of xvii. 6, and ~ii?i~iy = the ~iy~iV 

7 -; t : - 

of that passage ; the form found here is either an error of 
transcription caused by thinking of Aroer, or a play upon the 
name of the city, for the purpose of pointing out the fate 
impending over it. — Ver. 7. Moab will not be saved from 
destruction by any trust on their works or on their treasures. 
The LXX., Vulgate, and Syriac render T^VO by fortresses, 
hence Ewald would read Tj)W? instead ; but there is no ground 
for the change, since the peculiar rendering alluded to has 
evidently originated from nJJWB having been confounded with 
rtjlD. Others, as Dahler, refer the word to idols ; but these 
are always designated as T ''fe'SJD. Graf translates " property," 
and points to 1 Sam. xxv. 2, Ex. xxiii. 16; but this meaning 
also has really nothing to support it, for nb>j?D in these pas- 
sages denotes only agriculture and its produce, and the com- 
bination of the word with nn^'ix in this passage does not 
require such a rendering. We abide by the common meaning 
of tv doings " or " works," not evil deeds specially (Hitzig), but 


" all that Moab undertakes." Neither their efforts to maintain 
and increase their power, nor their wealth, will avail them in 
any way. They shall be overcome. Moab is addressed as a 
country or kingdom. "1??, to seize, capture ; of a land, to 
take, conquer. Chemosh, with his priests and princes, shall go 
into exile. K^l?? is perhaps a mere error of the copyist for 
B>iD3, Chemosh, the chief deity of the Moabites and Ammon- 
ites, worshipped as a king and the war-god of his people : see 
on Num. xxi. 29. As in the last-named passage the Moabites 
are called the people of Chemosh, so here, not merely the 
priests, but also the princes of Moab, are called his priests and 
his princes. The Kethib T^ is not to be changed, although 
Jeremiah elsewhere always uses VjlT, which is substituted in 
the Qeri ; cf. xlix. 3. In confirmation of this, it is added, in 
ver. 8, that all the cities of Moab, without exception, shall be 
laid waste, and the whole country, valley and plain, shall be 

brought to ruin. li^an "the level," is the table-land Stretch- 
es • " ' ' 

ins from the Arnon to Heshbon, and north-eastwards as far as 
Rabbath-Ammon, and which originally belonged to the Moabites, 
hence called " the fields of Moab " in Num. xxi. 40 ; but it 
was taken from them by the Amorites, and after the conquest 
of the latter was taken possession of by the Israelites (Deut. 
iii. 10, iv. 43 ; Josh. xiii. 9), but at that time had been taken 
back once more by the Moabites. p»#n is the valley of the 
Jordan, commonly called n ?"JJ|^, as in Josh. xiii. 27 and 19 ; 
here it is that portion of the valley towards the west which 
bounds the table-land. "1B>K can only be taken in a causal 
signification, " because," as in xvi. 13, or in a relative meaning, 
quod, or " as." 

Vers. 9-15. Moab is laid ivaste, and its inhabitants carried 
captive. — Ver. 9. " Give pinions to Moab, for he will flee and 
get away, and his cities shall become a waste, with no one 
dwelling in them. Ver. 10. Cursed is he that doeth the work 
of Jahveh negligently, and cursed is he that restraineth his sword 
from blood. Ver. 11. Moab hath been at ease from his youth, 
and lay still upon his lees ; he was not poured out from vessel 
to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity, therefore his taste 
hath remained in him, and his smell hath not changed. Ver. 12. 
Therefore, behold, days come, saith Jahveh, when I will send 

CnAP. XLVIII. 9-15. 217 

to him those who pour out, and they shall pour him out ; and 
they shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles. Ver. 13. 
And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of 
Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence. Ver. 14. How 
can ye say, We are mighty, and men of valour for the war? 
Ver. 15. Moab is laid waste, and people ascend into his cities, 
and the choice of his young men go down to the slaughter, 
saith the King, whose name is Jahveh of hosts." 

The devastation will come so suddenly, that Moab, in order 
to escape it, uses wings for enabling him to flee from it. The 
request "give" is not ironical, but a mere rhetorical employ- 
ment of the idea that wings would be necessary in order to 
escape. TV? which elsewhere means a flower, here signifies 
wings or waving plumes, as in the Targum on Ps. cxxxix. 9, 
and in the Rabbinical writings. fctfO, written with N for the 
sake of obtaining similarity of sound, stands for n'2ti= fVJ, to 
flee. — Ver. 10. The devastation is a work of the Lord, and 
those who execute it must carry out the divine decree, so that 
they may not bring the curse upon themselves. The first 
clause is taken quite generally : the more exact specification of 
the work of the Lord follows in the second clause; it is the 
employment of the sword against Moab. "His sword" does 
not mean Jahveh's, but the sword carried by the devastator. 
HJipi is used adverbially, but not in the sense of " deceitfully," 
rather " carelessly, negligently ; " cf . n«cn v\3 ) Prov. x. 4, 
xii. 24. In ver. 11 follows the reason why the judgment has 
necessarily come on Moab. Moab is compared to old wine 
that has lain long on its lees, and thereby preserved its flavour 
and smell unchanged. The taste and odour of Moab signify 
his disposition towards other nations, particularly towards 
Israel, the people of God. Good wine becomes stronger and 
more juicy by lying pretty long on its lees (see on Isa. xxv. 6) ; 
inferior wine, however, becomes thereby more harsh and thick. 
The figure is used here in the latter sense, after Zeph. i. 12. 
Moab's disposition towards Israel was harsh and bitter; the 
people were arrogant and proud (ver. 29 f. ; Isa. xvi. 6), and 
so hostile towards Israel, that they sought every opportunity 
of injuring them (see above, p. 205 f., and the comments on 
2 Sam. viii. 2). From his youth, i.e. from the time when 


Moab, after subduing the Emims (Deut. ii. 10), had established 
himself in his own land, or had become enrolled among the 
nations of history, — from that time forward had he remained 
undisturbed in his own land, i.e. without being driven out of 
it, had not gone into captivity (as is shown by the figure of 
the wine poured from one vessel into another). In this way 
there is a qualification made of the general statement that he 
remains at rest on his. lees, and undisturbed. For Moab has 
often carried on wars, and even suffered many defeats, but 
has never yet been driven from his own land ; nor had the 
temporary dependence on Israel exercised any transforming 
influence on the ordinary life of the people, for they were 
simply made tributary. This quiet continuance in the country 
is to cease. The God of Israel " will send to them cellarmen 
(Germ. Schroter), who shall bring them out of the cellar" 
(Germ, ausschroten), as Luther translates ver. 12. " Schroter" 
are men who bring the wine-casks out of the cellar ; for 
u schroten " means to bring out heavy burdens, especially full 
casks on a strong kind of hand-barrow (Germ. Hebewerkzeug), 
like a ladder in appearance. D^if (from nyy ? to bend, incline) 
are those who incline a barrel or vessel for the purpose of 
pouring out its contents. These will not merely empty the 
vessels, but also break the pitchers ; i.e. not merely carry away 
the Moabites, but also break down their political organization, 
and destroy their social arrangements. 

Ver. 13. In this way Moab will come to dishonour through 
his god Chemosh, i.e. experience his powerlessness and nothing- 
ness, and perish with him, just as Israel (the ten tribes) came 
to dishonour through Bethel, i.e. through their golden calf at 
Bethel. As to the form Enpnp, with Segol in the pretone, cf. 
Ewald, § 70, a; Olshausen, Gram. S. 377. Moab will then be 
no longer able to boast of his valour; this is the meaning of the 
question in ver. 14 : on this term in the address, cf. ii. 23, viii. 
H. In ver. 15 it is further stated that the result will show this : 
" Moab is laid waste." i"6y ITHjn is variously interpreted. An 
explanation which has met with much acceptance, but which 
nevertheless is really untenable, is founded on Judg. xx. 40 
(" The whole city went up towards heaven," i.e. in smoke and 
fire) : a As for his cities, fire or smoke ascends ;" but there is no 

CHAP. XLVIII. 16-25. 219 

mention here either of smoke or fire. Kimchi long ago came 
near the truth when he sought to find the subject T|fe> in T)B> : 
" and the devastator comes against his cities." However, the 
contrast between n^y and VHJ is not fully brought out in this 
way : it is better to leave the subject indeterminate : " and his 
cities they climb " (Kueper), or: "they go up to his cities" 
(Bottcher, Neue JEhrenlese, ii. 163). The enemy who mounts 
the cities is evidently intended. To change TjjB> into Tlfe> is 
both unnecessary and unsuitable ; but J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, 
Dahler, Graf, after making the alteration, translate, a The 
destroyer of Moab and of his cities draws near." Hitzig justly 
remarks, in opposition to this conjecture : " There is nothing to 
justify the mere placing of the subject at the head of the sen- 
tence (contrast vers. 8, 18Z>)'; besides, one does not see why the 
cities of Moab are distinguished from Moab itself ; and cf . 20&." 
nuap TV, " to sink down to the slaughter," cf. I. 27 ; and on this 
use of TV, Isa. xxxiv. 7. The enemy ascends into the cities, the 
young soldiers of Moab descend to the shambles. This threaten- 
ing is enforced by the addition, " saith the King," etc. Jahveh 
is called the King, in contrast with the belief of the Moabites, 
that their god Chemosh was the king of his people (see on ver. 7). 
The true King of the Moabites also is Jahveh, the God of hosts, 
.i.e. the Ruler of the whole world. 

Vers. 16-25. MoaUs glory is departed. — Yer. 16. " The 
destruction of Moab is near to come, and his trouble hastens 
rapidly. Ver. 17. Bewail him, all [ye who are] round about 
him, and all who know his name ! Say, How the rod of strength 
is broken, the staff of majesty ! Ver. 18. Come down from 
[thy] glory, and sit in the drought, [thou] inhabitant, daughter 
of Dibon ; for the destroyer of Moab hath come up against thee, 
he hath destroyed thy strongholds. Ver. 19. Stand by the way, 
and watch, O inhabitant of Aroer ! ask him who flees, and her 
that has escaped ; say, What has happened ? Ver. 20. Moab 
is ashamed, for it is broken down : howl and cry out ; tell it in 
Arnon, that Moab is laid waste. Ver. 21. And judgment hath 
come upon the country of the plain, upon Holon, and upon 
Jahzah, and upon Mephaath, Ver. 22. And upon Dibon, and 
upon Nebo, and upon Beth-Diblathaim, Ver. 23. And upon 
Kirjathaim, and upon Beth-Gamul, and upon Beth-Meon, 


Ver. 24. And upon Kerioth, and upon Bozrah, and upon all 
the cities of the land of Moab, those that are far off and those 
that are near. Ver. 25. The horn of Moab is cut off, and his 
arm is broken, saith Jahveh." 

The downfall of Moab will soon be<nn. Ver. 16a is an 
imitation of Deut. xxxii. 35 ; cf. Isa. xiii. 22, lvi. 1. The fall 
of the Moabite power and glory will be so terrible, that all the 
nations, near and distant, will have pity on him. The sum- 
mons to lament, ver. 17, is not a mockery, but is seriously 
meant, for the purpose of expressing the idea that the downfall 
of so mighty and glorious a power will rouse compassion. The 
environs of Moab are the neighbouring nations, and " those 
who know his name" are those who live far off, and have only 
heard about him. The staff, the sceptre, is the emblem of 
authority ; cf. Ezek. xix. 11, 12, 14, and Ps. ex. 2. In vers. 
18-25 is further described the downfall of this strong and 
glorious power. The inhabitants of Dibon are to come down 
from their glory and sit in misery ; those of Aroer are to ask 
the fugitives what has happened, that they may learn that the 
whole table-land on to the Arnon has been taken by the enemy ; 
and they are to howl over the calamity. The idea presented in 
ver. 18a is an imitation of that in Isa. xlvii. 1, u Come down, 
O daughter of Babylon, sit in the dust ;" but "H"! is intensified 
by the addition of 11330, and *13]> by »3B* is changed into »3#l 
NOV3 (the Kethib ^& has evidently been written by mistake for 
*3K^, the Qeri). NOV elsewhere means " thirst ;" but " sit down 
in the thirst" would be too strange an expression ; hence NOV 
must here have the meaning of NOV Isa. xliv. 3, " the thirstv 
arid land :" thus it remains a question whether we should point 
the word NOV, or take NOV as another form of NOV as 3?n is of 
371"! Ezek. xxiii. 19. There is no sufficient reason why Hitzifj 
and Ewald should give the word a meaning foreign to it, from 
the Arabic or Syriac. Dibon lay about four miles north from 
the Arnon, at the foot of a mountain, in a very beautiful plain, 
where, under the name of Dibctn, many traces of walls, and a 
well by the wayside, hewn out of the rock, are still to be found 
(Seetzen, i. S. 409 f.). Hence it must have been well provided 
with water, even though we should be obliged to understand by 
" the water of Dimon" (Dibon), which Isaiah mentions (xv. 9), 

CHAP. XLV1II. 16-25. 221 

the river Arnon, which is about three miles off. The command 
to " sit down in an arid land" thus forms a suitable figure, 
representing the humiliation and devastation of Dibon. That 
the city was fortified, is evident from the mention of the for- 
tifications in the last clause. J13 rOB>», as in xlvi. 19. Aroer 
was situated on the north bank of the Arnon (Mojeb), where 
its ruins still remain, under the old name Arair (Burckhardt, 
p. 372). It was a frontier town, between the kingdom of 
Sihon (afterwards the territory of the Israelites) and the pos- 
session of the Moabites (Deut. ii. 36, iii. 12, iv. 48 ; Josh. xii. 2, 
xiii. 9, 16). But after the Moabites had regained the northern 
portion of their original territory, it lay in the midst of the 
land. The fugitives here represented as passing by are endea- 
vouring, by crossing the Arnon, to escape from the enemy 
advancing from the north, and subduing the country before 
them. nop?p31 D3 means fugitives of every kind. The co-ordi- 
nation of the same word or synonymous terms in the masc. 
and fern, serves to generalize the idea ; see on Isa. iii. 1, and 
Ewald, §172, c. In nopco the tone is retracted through the 
influence of the distinctive accent ; the form is participial. 
The question, " What has happened ? " is answered in ver. 
20. nrin ""S, " for ( = certainly) it is broken down." The 
Kethib *i?|ffi yvn must not be changed. Moab is addressed : 
with *"P3H is introduced the summons, addressed to individuals, 
to proclaim at the Arnon the calamity that has befallen the 
country to the north of that river. In vers. 21-24 the general 
idea of Moab's being laid waste is specialized by the enumera- 
tion of a long list of towns on which judgment has come. They 
are towns of "ritJtysn px, the table-land to the north of the Arnon, 
the names of which nearly all occur in the Pentateuch and 
Joshua as towns in the tribe of Reuben. But Holon is men- 
tioned only here. According to Eusebius, in the Onomasticon, 
s.v. 'leaca, Jahzah was situated between Mr)ha(Swv (Afedeba) 
and Arj(3ov<; (Dibon); according to Jerome, between Medeba and 
Debus, or Deblathai; but from Num. xxi. 23, we conclude that 
it lay in an easterly direction, on the border of the desert, near 
the commencement of the Wady Wale. Mophaath or Mephaath, 
where, according to the Onomasticon, a Roman garrison was 
placed, on account of the near proximity of the desert, is to be 


sought for in the neighbourhood of Jahzah ; see on Josh. xiii. 
18. As to Dibon, see on ver. 18 ; for Nebo, see on ver. 1. 
Beth-Diblathaim is mentioned only in this passage. It is pro- 
bably identical with Almon-Diblatliaim, Num. xxxiii. 46, and 
to be sought for somewhere north from Dibon. For Kirjathaim 
see ver. 1. Beth-Gamul is nowhere else mentioned ; its site, 
too, is unknown. Eli Smith, in Robinson's Palestine, hi. App. 
p. 153, is inclined to recognise it in the ruins of Um-el-Jemel, 
lying on the southern boundary of the Hauran, about twenty 
miles south-west from Bozrah ; but a consideration of the posi- 
tion shows that thev cannot be the same. Beth-Meon, or Baal- 
Meon (Num. xxxii. 38), or more fully, Beth-Baal-Meon (Josh, 
xiii. 17), lay about three miles south from Heshbon, where 

Burckhardt (p. 365) found some ruins called Mi-un, .^o** 
(Robinson, iii. App. p. 170, ^xcU, Ma-in); see on Num. xxxii. 

38. Kerioth, vers. 24 and 41, and Amos ii. 2, is not to be identi- 
fied with the ruins called Kereyath or Kilreiyath, mentioned by 
Burckhardt (p. 367) and Seetzen (Reisen, ii. 342, iv. 384), as 
Ritter has assumed ; for this Kereyath is more probably Kir- 
jathaim (see on ver. 1). Rather, as is pretty fully proved by 
Dietrich (in Mevx Archiv. i. 320 ff.), it is a synonym of A r, 
the old capital of Moab, Num. xxii. 36 ; and the plural form is 
to be accounted for by supposing that Ar was made up of two 
or several large portions. We find two great arguments sup- 
porting this position : (1.) When Ar, the capital, occurs among 
the names of the towns of Moab, as in the list of those in 
Reuben, Josh. xiii. 16-21, and in the prophecy against Moab in 
Isaiah, chap. xv. and xvi., where so many Moabitic towns are 
named, we find no mention of Kerioth ; and on the other hand, 
where Kerioth is named as an important town in Moab, Amos 
ii. 2, Jer. xlviii., there is no mention of Ar. (2.) Kerioth is 
mentioned as an important place in the country in Amos ii, 2, 
where, from the whole arrangement of the prophecy, it can only 
be the capital of Moab ; in this present chapter also, ver. 24, 
Kerioth and Bozrah are introduced as two very important 
towns which maintained the strength of Moab ; and imme- 
diately afterwards it is added, " The horn of Moab is cut off," 
etc. Further, in ver. 41 the capture of Kerioth is put on a level 

CHAP. XLVIII. 26-35. -23 

with the taking of the fortresses ; while it is added, that the 
courage of the mighty men has failed, just as in xlix. 22 the 
capture of Bozrah is coupled with the loss of courage on the 
part of Edom's heroes. Bozrah is not to be confounded with 
Bozrah in Edom (xlix. 13), nor with the later flourishing city 
of Bostra in Hauran : it is the same with Bezer (">■$), which, 
according to Deut. iv. 43 and Josh. xx. 8. was situated in the 
Mishor of the tribe of Reuben, but has not yet been dis- 
covered ; see on Deut. iv. 43. For the purpose of completing 
the enumeration, it is further added, " all the towns of the land 
of Moab, those which are far off (i.e. those which are situated 
towards the frontier) and those which are near" (i.e. the towns 
of the interior, as Kimchi has already explained). Thereby 
the horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm broken. Horn and 
arm are figures of power : the horn an emblem of power that 
boldly asserts itself, and pushes down all that opposes (cf. Ps. 
lxxv. 5, 11) ; the arm being rather an emblem of dominion. 

Vers. 26-35. MoaVs haughtiness and deplorable fall. — Ver. 
26. " Make him drunk, — for he hath boasted against Jahveh, — so 
that Moab shall splash down into his vomit, and himself become 
a laughing-stock. Ver. 27. Was not Israel a laughing-stock 
to thee, or was he found among thieves ? for whenever thou 
spakest of him, thou didst shake thine head. Ver. 28. Leave 
the cities and dwell in the rock, ye inhabitants of Moab ; and 
be ye like a dove [that] builds its nest in the sides of the mouth 
of a pit. Ver. 29. We have heard the very arrogant pride of 
Moab, his haughtiness, and his arrogance, and his high-minded- 
ness, and his elation of mind. Ver. 30. I know, saith Jahveh, 
his wrath, and the untruthfulness of his words ; they have 
done what is untrue. Ver. 31. Therefore will I howl over 
Moab, and for all Moab will I cry ; they mourn for the people 
of Kir-heres. Ver. 32. I will weep for thee [with more] 
than the weeping of Jazer, O vine of Sibmah, thou whose 
tendrils have gone over the sea, have reached even to the sea 
of Jazer ; on thy fruit-harvest and thy vintage a spoiler has 
fallen. Ver. 33. And joy and gladness are taken from the 
garden, and from the land of Moab ; and I have caused wine to 
fail from the wine- vats : they shall not tread [with] a shout ; 
the shout shall be no shout. Ver. 34. From the cry of Hesh- 


bon as far as Elealeh, as far as Jahaz, they utter their voice ; 
from Zoar as far as Horonaim and the third Eglath ; for even 
the waters of Nimrim shall become desolations. Ver. 35. And 
I will destroy from Moab, saith Jahveh, him that offers on a 
high place and burns incense to his gods." 

Through his pride, Moab has incurred the sentence of de- 
struction to his power. In arrogance and rage he has exalted 
himself over Jahveh and His people Israel ; therefore must he 
now be humbled, vers. 26-30. The summons to make Moab 
drunk is addressed to those whom God has charged with the 
execution of the sentence ; cf. vers. 10 and 21. These are to 
present to the people of Moab the cup of the divine wrath, and 
so to intoxicate them, that they shall fall like a drunk man into 
his vomit, and become a laughing-stock to others (cf. xiii. 13, 
xxv. 15), because they have boasted against Jahveh by driving 
the Israelites from their inheritance, and by deriding the 
people of God ; cf. Zeph. ii. 8. P?p, to strike, frequently of 
striking the hands together ; here it signifies to fall into his 
vomit, i.e. to tumble into it with a splash. No other explanation 
of the word can find support from the language used. Cf. 
Isa. xix. 14 and xxv. 10 f. In the last clause of ver. 26, the 
emphasis lies on Sin D3: "he also (Moab, like Israel before) 
shall become a laughing-stock." This statement is enforced by 
the question put in ver. 27, "Was not Israel a laughing-stock 
to thee ? " DX — DN1 shows a double question, like DN — n ; 
and DiO in the first clause may be further strengthened by 
the interrogative Pi before pnB>. as in Gen. xvii. 17. For other 
forms of the double question, see Ps. xciv. 9, Job xxi. 4, Jer. 
xxiii. 26. On Dagesh dirimens in pnfrn, cf. Ewald, § 104, l>. 
There is no sufficient reason for questioning the feminine form 
nsyip3 in the Qeri ; Israel is personified as a woman, just as 
Moab in ver. 20, where nnn is found. On 13 fjni*] "np, cf. 
xxxi. 20, where, however, 3 "B'n is used in another meaning. 
TI^O^ to shake oneself, is a stronger expression than B>K'"l3 Tjn, 
to shake the head (xviii. 16), a gesture denoting mockery and 
rejoicing over another's injury; cf. Ps. lxiv. 9. — Ver. 28. A 
transition is now made from figurative to literal language, and 
Moab is summoned to leave the cities and take refuge in inac- 
cessible rocks, because he will not be able to offer resistance to 

CHAP. XLVIII. 26-35. 225 

the enemy ; cf. vers. 6 and 9. " Like a dove that builds its 
nest over deep crevices." The reference is to wild pigeons, 
which occur in large numbers in Palestine, and make their 
nests in the clefts of high rocks (Song of Sol. ii. 14) even at 
the present day, e.g. in the wilderness of Engedi ; cf. Robin- 
son's Palestine, ii. 203. nna^B n3J?3 ; lit. " on the other side of 
the mouth of the deep pit," or of the abyss, i.e. over the yawn- 
ing hollows. T3?#? is a poetic form for ""OIJ3, as in Isa. vii. 20. 
The humiliation of Moab finds its justification in what is 
brought out in ver. 29 f., his boundless pride and hatred against 
Israel. — Vers. 29 and 30 only more fully develope the idea 
contained in Isa. xvi. 6. Those who "heard" are the prophet 
and the people of God. There is an accumulation of words to 
describe the pride of Moab. Isaiah's expression also, inn^y 
V13 13"fc6, is here expanded into two clauses, and Jahveh is 
named as the subject. Not only have the people of God per- 
ceived the pride of Moab, but God also knows his wrath. V^a 
belongs to J?"^- 5 as a genitive, as in Isaiah J3"N? means " not 
right," contrary to actual facts, i.e. untrue. 1 — Vers. 31-33 are 
also an imitation of Isa. xvi. 7-10. Ver. 31 is a reproduction 
of Isa. xvi. 7. In ver. 7, Isaiah sets forth the lamentation of 
Moab over the devastation of his country and its precious 
fruits ; and not until ver. 9 does the prophet, in deep sympathy, 
mingle his tears with those of the Moabites. Jeremiah, on the 
other hand, with his natural softness, at once begins, in the 
first person, his lament over Moab. t?"^, u therefore," is not 
immediately connected with ver. 29 f., but with the leading idea 
presented in vers. 26 and 28, that Moab will fall like one intoxi- 
cated, and that he must flee out of his cities. If we refer it to 
ver. 30, there we must attach it to the thought implicitly con- 

1 The Masoretic accentuation, according to which Athnach is placed under 
|3, exhibits another view of the words in the text : this is shown by the 

Chaldee paraphrase, " their nobles endure not, they have not done what is 
right." The Masoretes took D^3 in the sense of " staves," and took staves 

as a symbol of priuces, as in Hos. xi. 6. Luther, in his translation, " I 
know his anger well, that he cannot do so very much, and attempts to do 
more than he can," follows the Vulgate, Eyo scio jactantiam ejus, et quod 
non sit juxta earn virtus ejus, necjuxta quod poterat conata sit facere, which 
again seems to have followed the LXX. in taking \i*)2 for VH3- 

~ : t - 



tained in the emphatic statement, " I (Jahveh) know his wrath," 
viz. " and I will punish him for it." The /who makes lament 
is the prophet, as in Isa. xvi. 9 and xv. 5. Schnurrer, Hitzig, 
and Graf, on the contrary, think that it is an indefinite third 
person who is introduced as representing the Moabites ; but 
there is no analogous case to support this assumption, since the in- 
stances in which third persons are introduced are of a different 
kind. But when Graf further asserts, against referring the /to 
the prophet, that, according to what precedes, especially what 
we find in ver. 26 ff., such an outburst of sympathy for Moab 
would involve a contradiction, he makes out the prophet to be 
a Jew thirsting for revenge, which he was not. Raschi has 
already well remarked, on the other hand, under Isa. xv. 5, 
that " the prophets of Israel differ from heathen prophets like 
Balaam in this, that they lay to heart the distress which they 
announce to the nations ; " cf . Isa. xxi. 3 f . The prophet weeps 
for all Moab, because the judgment is coming not merely on 
the northern portion (vers. 18-25), but on the whole of the 
country. In ver. 31£, Jeremiah has properly changed ^KW 
(cakes of dried grapes) into *B>JK"7K, the people of Kir-heres, 
because his sympathy was directed, not to dainties, but to the 
men in Moab ; he has also omitted " surely they are smitten," 
as being too strong for his sympathy, nan*, to groan, taken 
from the cooing of doves, perhaps after Isa. xxxviii. 14, lix. 11. 
The third person indicates a universal indefinite. Kir-heres, as 
in Isa. xvi. 11, or Kir-haresheth in Isa. xvi. 7, 2 Kings iii. 25, 
was the chief stronghold of Moab, probably the same as Kir- 
Moab, the modern Kerek, as we may certainly infer from a 
comparison of Isa. xvi. 7 with xv. 1 ; see on 2 Kings iii. 25, and 
Dietrich, S. 324.— Ver. 32. TJ£ »330, " more than the weeping 
of Jazer," may signify, " More than Jazer weeps do I weep 
over thee ; " or, " More than over Jazer do I weep over thee." 
However, the former interpretation is the more obvious, and 
is confirmed by the reading in Isa. xvi. 9. According to the 
Onomasticon, Jazer was fifteen Eoman miles north from Hesh- 
bon. Seetzen recognises it in the ruins called es Szir at the 
source of the Nahr Szir ; see on Num. xxi. 32. According to 
Jerome, on Isa. xvi. 8, Sibmah was only five hundred paces from 
Heshbon ; see on Num. xxxii. 38. Judging from the verse now 

CHAP. XLVIII. 26-35. 227 

before us, and from Isa. I.e., the vines of Sibmah must have been 
famed for the strength and excellence of their clusters. Even 
now, that region produces excellent grapes in abundance. From 
Szalt, which lies only ten miles north from Szir, raisins and grapes 
are carried to Jerusalem, and these of excellent quality (Seetzen, 
i. S. 399 ; Burckhardt, p. 350). In what follows, " his tendrils 
crossed the sea," etc., the extensive cultivation of the grape is set 
forth under the figure of a vine whose tendrils stretch out on all 
sides. " They have crossed over the sea " has reference in Isaiah 
(xvi. 8) to the Dead Sea (DJ, as in Ps. lxviii. 23, 2 Chron. 
xx. 2) ; not merely, however, in the sense of the shoots reaching 
close to the Dead Sea, but also over it, for Engedi was famed 
for its vines (Cant. i. 14). Jeremiah also has reproduced the 
words taken from Isaiah in this sense. From the following 
clause, " they reached to the sea of Jazer," it does not follow 
that he has specified " the sea" by " Jazer." What tells rather 
the other way is the fact that "ny, which means to cross over, 
cannot possibly be used as equivalent to *W JN3, " to reach to." 
" They crossed over the sea " shows extension towards the west, 
while " they reached to the sea of Jazer " indicates extension to- 
wards the north. This latter statement also is an imitation of 
what we find in Isa. xvi. 8 ; and " Jazer " is merely further 
specified as " the sea of Jazer." In spite of the most diligent 
inquiries, Seetzen (i. S. 406) could learn nothing from the people 
of that region regarding an inland lake ; but in the beautiful 
green vale in the vicinity of Szar {i.e. Jazer) there were several 
ponds, which he supposes may possibly be the mare Jazer, since 
this valley lying among the mountains is somewhat depressed, 
and in ancient times was probably filled with water. The 
" sea " (D;) of Solomon's temple further shows that & does not 
necessarily denote only a large lake, but might also be applied 
to a large artificial basin of water. So also, at the present day, 
the artificial water-basins on the streets of Damascus are called 
baharat, " seas ; " cf . Wetzstein in Delitzsch on Isa. xvi. 8. 
This cultivation of the vine is at an end ; for the destroyer has 
fallen upon the fruit-harvest and the vintage. Jeremiah, by 
" the destroyer has fallen," explains the words of Isaiah (xvi. 9), 
" shouting has fallen."— In ver. 33, Isa. xvi. 10 is reproduced. 
" Joy and gladness are taken away from the gardens, and from 


the whole land of Moab." p£13 is not here a proper name, for 
Mount Carmel does not at all suit the present context ; it is an 
appellative, fruit-land, i.e. the fruitful wine-country near Jazer. 
Jeremiah adds, "and from the land (i.e. the whole land) of 
Moab." The pressing of the grapes comes to an end ; there is 
no wine in the vat ; no longer is the wine pressed with " Hedad." 
Tl^n is an adverbial accusative. This is further specified by 
the oxymoron : a " Hedad, and yet not a Hedad." This word 
generally signifies any loud shout, — not merely the shout of the 
wine-pressers as they tread the grapes (see on xxv. 30), but also 
a battle-cry ; cf. li. 14. Hence the meaning is, " Hedad is heard, 
but not a merry shout of the wine-pressers." — Ver. 34 is based 
on Isa. xv. 4-6. " From the cry of Heshbon is heard the echo 
as far as Elealeh and Jahaz," or " from Heshbon to Elealeh and 
Jahaz is heard a cry, and from Zoar to Horonaim." Heshbon 
and Elealeh are only about two miles distant from each other ; 
their ruins are still visible under the names of Hesbdn (Husban, 
see on ver. 2) and El Al (see on Num. xxxii. 37). They were 
both built on hills ; Elealeh in particular was situated on the 
summit of a hill whence the whole of the southern Belka may 
be seen (Burckhardt, p. 365), so that a shout thence emitted 
could be heard at a great distance, even as far as Jahaz, which 
is pretty far off to the south-west from Heshbon (see on ver. 21). 
The words " from Zoar to Horonaim " also depend on " they 
uttered their voice." Both places lay in the south of the land ; 
see on vers. 3 and 4. The wailing resounds not merely on the 
north, but also on the south of the Anion. There is much 
dispute as to the meaning of WW Dpjy, which is here men- 
tioned after Horonaim, but in Isa. xv. 5 in connection with, or 
after Zoar. To take the expression as an appellative, juvenca 
tertii anni (LXX., Vulgate, Targum, Gesenius, etc.), would 
perhaps be suitable, if it were an apposition to Moab, in which 
case we might compare with it passages like xlvi. 20, 1. 11 ; but 
this does not accord with its position after Horonaim and Zoar, 
for we have no analogy for the comparison of cities or fortresses 
with a juvenca tertii anni, h. e. indomita jugoque non assueta ; 
and it cannot even be proved that Zoar and Horonaim were 
fortresses of Moab. Hence we take 'tJ> npjy as the proper name 
of a place } " the third Eglath;" this is the view of Rosenmuller, 

CHAP. XLVIII. 3G-38. 229 

Drechsler, and Dietrich (in M&rx* Archiv. i. S. 342 ff.). The 
main reason for this view is, that there would be no use for an 
addition being made, by way of apposition, to a place which is 
mentioned as the limit of the Moabites' flight, or that reached 
by their wailing. The parallelism of the clauses argues in 
favour of its being a proper name ; for, on this view of it, three 
towns are named in both members, the first once, as the start- 
ing-point of the cry of wailing, the other two as points up to 
which it is heard. The preposition "IV, which is omitted, may 
be supplied from the parallel member, as in Isa. xv. 8. Regard- 
ing the position of Eglath Shelishijah, it is evident from the 
context of both passages that we must look for it on the southern 
frontier of Moab. It is implied in the epithet "the third" 
that there were three places (villages), not far from one 
another, all bearing the same name. Dietrich (S. 344 f .) has 
adduced several analogous cases of towns in the country to the 
east of the Jordan, — two, and sometimes even three, towns of 
the same name, which are distinguished from each other by 
numerals. " The waters of Nimrim also shall become desola- 
tions," because the enemy fill up the springs with earth. Nim- 
rim is not the place called n^V) or FTOJ rra mentioned in Num. 
xxxii. 3, 36, Josh. xiii. 27, whose ruins lie on the way from 
Szalt to Jericho, in the Wady Shaib, on the east side of the 
Jordan (see on Num. xxxii. 36), for this lies much too far to 
the north to be the place mentioned here. The context points 
to a place in the south, in Moab proper, where Burckhardt 
(p. 355), Seetzen (Reisen, ii. S. 354), and de Saulcy (Voyage, i. 
283, ii. 52) have indicated a stream fed by a spring, called 
Moiet Numere (i.e. brook Nimrah), in the country at the south 
end of the Dead Sea, and in that wady a mass of ruins called 
Nume"re (the Nimmery of Seetzen, iii. 18). — Ver. 35 ends the 
strophe of which it is a part ; here the Lord declares that He 
will make to cease 3X1D^ (for, or from Moab, lit. to Moab), 
every one who offers on a high place and burns incense to his 
gods. n?jJB cannot be a substantive, else the parallelism would 
be destroyed. Nor may we, with Hitzig, render " he who raises 
a high place," i.e. builds it, for n?yn is not used in this sense. 

Vers. 36-38. Further lamentation over the fall of Moab. — 
Ver. 36. " Therefore my heart sounds like pipes for Moab, and 


my heart sounds like pipes for the men of Kir-heres ; therefore 
the savings which he has made are perished. Ver. 37. For every 
head is baldness, and every beard is shorn ; on all hands there are 
cuts, and on loins sackcloth. Ver. 38. On all the roofs of Moab, 
and in its streets, it is all mourning ; for I have broken Moab 
like a vessel, in which there is no pleasure, saith Jahveh." 

The prophet once more lifts up his lamentation over Moab 
(ver. 36 corresponds to ver. 31), and gives reason for it in the 
picture he draws of the deep affliction of the Moabites. Ver. 
36a is an imitation of Isa. xvi. 11 ; the thought presented in 
ver. 366 accords with that found in Isa. xv. 7. Isaiah says, 
" My bowels sound (groan) like the harp," whose strings give 
a tremulous sound when struck with the plectrum. Instead of 
this, Jeremiah puts the sounding of pipes, the instruments 
used in dirges (Matt. ix. 23). Moab and Kir-heres are men- 
tioned together, as in ver. 31. ]?'?]}, in the second clause, does 
not stand for J3~PJ? "G, " on this account that " (Kimchi, Hitzig, 
Graf, etc.), but is co-ordinated with the first |3"^. The idea 
is not, " Therefore my heart mourns over Moab, because 
the savings are perished ; " but because the sentence of deso- 
lation has been passed on the whole of Moab, therefore the 
heart of the prophet makes lament, and therefore, too, all 
the property which Moab has acquired is lost, '"inn 1 ;, as a 
collective noun, is joined with the plural verb ^?*J. On the 
construction nb>y rnrp, cf. Gesenius, § 123, 3, Rem. 1 ; Ewald, 
§ 332, c. The proof of this is given by the deep sorrow and 
wailing of the whole Moabite nation, ver. 37 f. On all sides are 
tokens of the deepest sadness, — heads shorn bald, beards cut off, 
incisions on the hands, sackcloth round the loins. — Ver. 37 is 
formed out of pieces taken from Isa. xv. 2, 3. nrnp is a sub- 
stantive, " baldness," i.e. quite bald. W"i3, decurtata, instead of 
niVta (in Isaiah), is weaker, but more suitable for the present con- 
nection. riT\$ } i.e. cuts or scratches inflicted on the body, as signs 
of mourning; cf. xvi. 6, xli. 5. ISpp n^3 ; "It is all wailing;" 
nothing is heard but wailing, for God has broken Moab in pieces 
like a useless vessel. On the simile employed, cf. xxii. 28. 

Vers. 39-44. No escape from destruction. — Ver. 39. " How 
it is broken ! they howl. How hath Moab turned the back, 
for shame ! And Moab becomes a lau£fhino;-stock and a terror 

CHAP. XLVIII. 39-44. 231 

to all liis neighbours. Ver. 40. For thus saith Jahveh : Be- 
hold, he shall fly like the eagle, and spread his wings over 
Moab. Ver. 41. Kerioth is taken, and the strongholds are 
seized, and the heart of the heroes of Moab on that day become 
like the heart of a travailing woman. Ver. 42. And Moab is 
destroyed from being a people, because he hath boasted against 
Jahveh. Ver. 43. Fear, and a pit, and a snare, are against thee, 
O inhabitant of Moab, saith Jahveh. Ver. 44. He who flees 
from the fear shall fall into the pit, and he who goes up out of 
the pit shall be taken in the snare ; for I will bring against it, 
against Moab, the year of their recompense, saith Jahveh." 

The subject of nnn in ver. 39 is Moab viewed as a nation. 
vvn might be imperative, but in this case we would be obliged 
to take Bfa also as an imperative (as Hitzig and Graf do). It 
is simpler to take both forms as perfects : " they howl . . . Moab 
turns the back, is ashamed " ( = for shame). On pnts? nvi ? c f. 
ver. 26. i " , fit 1J ?> object of terror, as in xvii. 17. " All who are 
round about him," as in ver. 17. " For (ver. 40) the enemy 
rushes down upon Moab like an eagle, and seizes Kerioth and 
all his strongholds." The subject is left unnamed, as in xlvi. 
18, but it is Nebuchadnezzar. The figure of the eagle, dart- 
ing down in flight on its prey, is founded on Deut. xxviii. 49 
(on "vi* for ?y, cf. xlix. 22). Kerioth, the capital, is taken 
(see on ver. 24) ; so are the other strongholds or fastnesses of 
the country. The mere fact that rri s "]i? has the article does not 
justify any one in taking it as an appellative, "the cities;" 
this appears from a comparison of Amos ii. 2 with this verse. 
No plural of n^j? occurs anywhere. Then the fear of death 
falls on the heroes of Moab like a woman in labour. m¥D 

t •* : / 

partic. Hiphil from "H^', uterum comprimens, is found only here 
and in xlix. 22, where the figure is repeated. Moab is anni- 
hilated, so that it is no longer a nation (cf. ver. 2), because it 
has risen up in pride against the God of Israel ; cf. ver. 26. 
He who flees from one danger falls into the other. The play 
on the words "ins, fear, horror, nna, pit, and nQ, spring-trap, 
as well as the mode in which it is carried out, is taken from 
Isa. xxiv. 17 f., — a prophecy of the judgment on the world; see a 
similar idea presented in Amos v. 19, but somewhat differently 
expressed. The Kethib D^n, perfect Hiphil, "he flees," is less suit- 


able than the Qeri D3H (after Isaiah). The last clause, " for I 
will bring," etc., is quite in Jeremiah's peculiar style; cf. iv. 23, 
xxiii. 12. nvx belongs to 3NilO~?K : the noun is anticipated by 
the pronoun, as frequently occurs ; cf. ix. 14, xli. 3, xliii. 11. 

Vers. 45-47. Conclusion. — Ver. 45. "Under the shadow of 
Heshbon stand fugitives, powerless ; for a fire goes out from 
Heshbon, and a flame from Sihon, and devours the region of 
Moab, and the crown of the head of the sons of tumult. Ver. 
46. Woe unto thee, Moab ! the people of Chemosh are perished ! 
for thy sons are taken away into captivity, and thy daughters 
into captivity. Ver. 47. Yet will I turn the captivity of Moab 
at the end of the days, saith Jahveh. Thus far is the judgment 
of Moab." 

From Heshbon issued the resolution to annihilate Moab 
(ver. 2) ; to Heshbon the prophecy finally returns. " In the 
shadow of Heshbon stand fugitives, powerless" (03*?, with 
fft privative), where, no doubt, they were seeking refuge ; cf. 
Isa. xxx. 2, 3. The fugitives can only be Moabites. Here 
it is astonishing that they seek refuge in Heshbon, since the 
enemy comes from the north, and according to ver. 2, it is in 
Heshbon that the resolution to destroy Moab was formed ; and 
judging from xlix. 3, that city was then in the hands of the 
Ammonites. Hence Hitzig and Graf miss the connection. 
Hitzig thinks that the whole clause was inserted by a glosser, 
who imagined the town belonged to Moab, perhaps allow- 
ing himself to be misled in this by Num. xxi. 27, " Come to 
Heshbon." Graf, on the other hand, is of opinion that the 
fugitives are seeking the protection of the Ammonites in 
Heshbon, but do not find it : hence he would take the ^ which 
follows in the adversative sense of "however" or "rather;" 
but this is against the use of the word, and cannot be allowed. 
The tenor of the words, " Fugitives stand under the shadow of 
Heshbon," does not require us to assume that people had fled 
to Heshbon out of the whole of Moab. Let us rather think 
of fugitives from the environs of Heshbon, who seek refuge 
in this fortified town, from the enemy advancing from the 
north, but who find themselves disappointed in their expecta- 
tion, because from this city there bursts forth the fire of war 
which destroys Moab. The thought merely serves the purpose 

CHAP. XLVIII. 45-47. 233 

of attaching to it the utterances which follow regarding Moab : 
but from vers. 43 and 44 alone, it is evident that escape will be 
impossible. In proof of this he mentions the flight to Heshbon, 
that he may have an opportunity of introducing a portion of 
the old triumphal songs of the Mosaic age, with which he 
wished to conclude his prophecy, vers. 456 and 46. The 
fugitives stand powerless, i.e. exhausted and unable to flee any 
further, while Heshbon affords them no refuge. For there 
bursts forth from it the fire that is to destroy the whole of 
Moab. The words from " for a fire," etc., on to the end of 
ver. 46, are a free imitation of some strophes out of an ancient 
song, in which poets of the Mosaic period celebrated the victory 
of Israel over Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had con- 
quered the greater portion of Moab ; but with this there is in- 
terwoven a passage from the utterances of Balaam the seer, 
regarding the fall of Moab, found in Num. xxiv. 17, viz. from 
72Nrn to jiNES* \J2. These insertions are made for the purpose of 
showing that, through this judgment which is now coming upon 
Moab, not only those ancient sayings, but also the prophecy 
of Balaam, will find their full accomplishment. Just as in the 
time of Moses, so now also there again proceeds from Heshbon 
the fire of war which will consume Moab. The words, " for a 
fire has gone out from Heshbon," are a verbatim repetition of 
what we find in Num. xxi. 28, with the single exception that t>'N is 
here, as in Ps. civ. 4, construed as masculine, and thus takes N^ 
instead of nsv* ; but this change, of course, does not affect the 
meaning of the words. The next clause runs, in Numbers, 
I.e., Jim? rngD nsnh. but here prPD pao narfo ■ this change into 
pao is difficult to account for, so that J. D. Michaelis and Ewald 
would alter it into TV so. There is no need for refuting the 
assumption of Easchi and Nagelsbach, that Sihon stands for the 
city of Sihon ; or the fancy of Moms and Hitzig, that an old 
glosser imagined Sihon was a town instead of a king. When 
we consider that the burning of Heshbon by the Israelites, 
celebrated in that ancient song, was brought on by Sihon the 
Amorite king, since the Israelites were not to make war on 
Moab, and only fought against Sihon, who had made Heshbon 
his residence, there can be no doubt that Jeremiah purposely 
changed nnpD into firr-D pao, in order to show that Sihon was 


the originator of the fire which consumed Heshbon. By this 
latter expression Jeremiah seeks to intimate that, in Nebu- 
chadnezzar and the Chaldean army, there will arise against 
the Moabites another Sihon, from whose legions will burst 
forth the flame that is to consume Moab. pat?, " from be- 
tween," is to be explained on the ground that Sihon is not 
viewed as a single individual, but as the leader of martial 
hosts. This fire will "devour the region of Moab, and the 
crown of the head of the sons of tumult." These words have 
been taken by Jeremiah from Balaam's utterance regarding 
Moab, Num. xxiv. 17, and embodied in his address after some 
transformation. What Balaam announces regarding the ruler 
(Star and Sceptre) that is to arise out of Israel, viz. " he shall 
smite the region of Moab, and dash in pieces the sons of 
tumult," Jeremiah has transferred to the fire: accordingly, 
he has changed JTO into te*n, and n^pa^a Ipigl into 
iisa> *pa Ipli?!. Several commentators understand HNS as sig- 
nifying the margin of the beard (Lev. xix. 27, xxi. 5) ; but 
the mention of the crown of the head in the parallel member 
does not require this meaning, for HS3 does not signify the 
corner of the beard, except when found in combination with 
EW or fi?T. The singeing of the margin of the beard seems, 
in connection with the burning of the crown, too paltry and 
insignificant. As in the fundamental passage ""riSS signify the 
sides of Moab, so here HNQ is the side of the body, and 1p"]i3 
the head. PNE> "O^ homines tumvltuosi, are the Moabites with 
their imperious disposition; cf. ver. 29. — Ver. 46 is again 
derived from the ancient poem in Num. xxi., but the second 
half of the verse is altered. The bold figure which represents 
Chemosh the god of the Moabites as delivering his people up 
to captivity, is continued in the literal statement of the case ; 
Moab's sons and daughters, i.e. its population, are carried away 
by the enemy into captivity. — Ver. 47. This infliction of judg^ 
ment, however, on the Moabites, is not to prove a complete 
annihilation of them. At the end of the days, i.e. in the 
Messianic times (see on xxiii. 20), there is in store for them a 
turn in their fortunes, or a restoration. For rnaB> 2tf& } see on 
xxix. 14. Cf. the similar promise for Egypt, xlvi. 26 ; Ammon 
and Elam, xlix. 6 and 39. The last clause, " Thus far," etc., 

CHAP. XLIX. 1-0. 235 

is an addition made by the editor, when this oracle was re- 
ceived into the collection of Jeremiah's prophecies; cf. li. 64. 
tDSBto means the prophecy regarding Moab with respect to its 

As to the fulfilment of the threatened ruin, Josephus (Antt. 
x. 9. 7) states that Nebuchadnezzar, in the fifth year after the 
destruction of Jerusalem, made war on the Moabites and sub- 
dued them. This statement is not to be questioned, though the 
date given should be incorrect. We have no other sources of 
information regarding this people. After the return of the 
Israelites from Babylon, the Moabites are no longer mentioned 
as a people, except in Ezra ix. 1, Neh. xiii. 1, 23, where it is 
stated that some Israelites had married Moabitish wives ; nor 
is any mention made of this people in the books of the Macca- 
bees, which, however, relate the wars of Judas Maccabeus with 
the Ammonites and Edomites (1 Mace. v. 3 and 6, cf. iv. 61); 
neither is there any further notice taken of them in Josephus, 
who only now and then speaks of Moab, i.e. the country and 
its towns (Antt. xiii. 14. 2, 15. 4 ; Bell. Jud. iii. 3. 3, iv. 8. 2). 
This name seems to have been merged, after the exile, in that 
of the Arabians. But the disappearance of the name of this 
people does not exclude the probability that descendants con- 
tinued to exist, who, when Christianity spread in the country 
to the east of the Jordan, were received into the communion 
of the Christian church. 

Chap. xlix. Concerning A mmon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar and 

Hazor, JElam. 

Vers. 1-6. Concerning the children of Ammon. — The 
Ammonites were, not merely as regards descent, but also as to 
their character and their relation to Israel, the twin-people with 
the Moabites. From them, too, as well as from the Moabites, 
Sihon the king of the Ammonites had wrenched a portion of 
their territory, which the Israelites received for a possession 
after Sihon had been subdued. This territory they sought 
every opportunity of retaking from the Israelites, whom they as 
constantly endeavoured to humiliate when they could. Besides 
their connection with Eglon the Moabite king (Judg. iii. 13), 
they oppressed Israel during the period of the judges for 


eighteen years, not only in Gilead, but also on this side of 
Jordan, since they fought against Ephraim, Benjamin, and 
Judah (Judg. x. 7 ff., xi. 12-32). During Samuel's time, their 
king Nahash besieged Jabesh-Gilead, and demanded the sur- 
render of the city under shameful conditions, in consequence 
of which they were defeated by Saul (1 Sam. ii.). During the 
time of David they disgracefully treated his ambassadors, who 
had come to comfort King Hanun over the death of his father ; 
they then united with the Syrians against Israel, but were 
defeated by Joab, and, after the taking of their capital, Kabbah, 
severely chastised (2 Sam. x. 1 to xi. 1, and xii. 26-31). Under 
the reign of Jehoshaphat, also, in company with the Moabites, 
they invaded Judah (2 Chron. xx.) ; and when, later, the 
Israelites were heavily oppressed by the Syrians under Hazael, 
the Ammonites practised cruelties on them in Gilead, for which 
the prophet Amos (i. 13-15) threatens them with devastation 
of their country and foreign captivity. After the death of 
Jeroboam n., who had restored the borders of Israel as far as 
the Dead Sea (2 Kings xiv. 25), the Ammonites must have 
made fresh attempts to enlarge their territory during the inter- 
regnum that had begun in the kingdom of the ten tribes ; for 
it is mentioned in 2 Chron. xxvi. 8 that they brought presents 
to King Uzziah, i.e. paid tribute, and had thus been rendered 
tributary to him : it is also stated in 2 Chron. xxvii. 5 that his 
son Jotham marched against them in order to enforce the pay- 
ment of the tribute. But when, soon afterwards, Tiglath-pileser 
the Assyrian carried away the tribes of Israel on the east of the 
Jordan (2 Kings xv. 29 ; 1 Chron. v. 26), the Ammonites seized 
possession of the depopulated country of the tribes of Gad and 
Reuben, while they also seized Heshbon on the border of these 
two tribal territories. This unjust appropriation of Israelitish 
territory forms the starting-point of the prophecy now before us. 
Ammon has taken possession of the inheritance of Gad, 
therefore must his cities be destroyed by war, that Israel may 
again obtain his own property (vers. 1, 2). Ammon will sorrow 
deeply, for his god will go with his princes into captivity (vers. 
2-4). His trust in the wealth of his land will not help him, 
but his people will be frightened away through terror on every 
side, yet they will be restored in the future (vers. 5, 6). 

CHAP. XLIX. 1-6. 237 

Ver. 1. u Concerning the children of Amnion, thus saith 
Jahveh : Hath Israel no sons, or hath he no heir ? Why doth 
their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities ? Ver. 
2. Therefore, behold, days are coming, saith Jahveh, when I 
will cause to be heard against Kabbah of the children of 
Amnion a war-cry ; and it shall become a heap of ruins, and 
her daughters shall be burned with fire : and Israel shall heir 
those who heired him, saith Jahveh. Ver. 3. Howl, O Hesh- 
bon ! for Ai is laid waste. Cry ! ye daughters of Rabbah, 
gird yourselves with sackcloth ; lament, and run up and down 
among the enclosures : for their king shall go into captivity, 
his priests and his princes together. Ver. 4. Why dost thou 
glory in the valleys ? Thy valley flows away, O thou rebellious 
daughter, that trusted in her treasures, [saying], Who shall 
come to me ? Ver. 5. Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, 
saith the Lord Jahveh of hosts, from all that is round thee ; 
and ye shall be driven each one before him, and there shall be 
none to gather together the fugitives. Ver. 6. But afterwards I 
will turn the captivity of the children of Amnion, saith Jahveh." 

The address begins with a question full of reproach : " Has 
Israel, then, no sons who could take possession of his land as 
their inheritance, that the king of the Ammonites has taken 
possession of Gad (i.e. of the hereditary portion of the tribe of 
Gad), and dwells in the cities of Gad?" The question pre- 
supposes that the Israelites had been carried away by Tiglath- 
pileser, but at the same time, also, that the country still belongs 
to the Gadites, for they certainly have sons who shall again 
receive the inheritance of their fathers. Since Jeremiah, as is 
clear from ver. 3, had Amos i. 13-15 in his mind, he evidently 
uses D3pO in a double sense, not merely in ver. 3, but even in 
ver. 1 also, with a reference to Amos i. 15, meaning the king 
and god of the Ammonites. As in Amos, Aquila, Symmachus, 
Jerome, and the Syriac, so in this passage also, the LXX., 
Vulgate, and Syriac have understood D2TO of the god B2?o ; 
with them agree Ewald, Hitzig, and Graf. But the reasons 
alleged for the change of BSyO into Diapp are quite as insuffi- 
cient here as in Amos i. 15. Just as, in the last-named 
passage, D3?p first of all refers to the king of the Ammonites, 
so is it here. It is not the god, but the king, of the Ammonites 


that has taken possession of the territory of Gad. It is not till 
ver. 3 that the reference to the god Milcom plainly comes out. 
Yer. 2. Therefore shall Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonites, 
hear the cry of war, and be changed into a heap of ruins. rsi 
{toy \J2lj " The great (city) of the sons of Ammon," is the full 
name of the Ammonite capital (cf. Deut. iii. 11), which is 
usually called, briefly, nnn (Amos i. 14 ; 2 Sam. xi. 1, etc.) ; it 
was afterwards called Philadelphia, probably after Ptolemy 
Philadelphus, in Polybius 'PafiftaTafiava, in Abulfeda Amdn, 
which is the name .still given to its ruins on the Nahr Amman, 
i.e. the Upper Jabbok ; see on Deut. iii. 11. "A cry of war," 
as in iv. 19 ; cf. Amos i. 14. " A hill of desolation," i.e. a heap 
of ruins ; cf. Josh. viii. 28, Deut. xiii. 17. " Her daughters " 
are the smaller cities dependent on the capital, — here, all the 
remaining cities of the Ammonites; cf. Num. xxi. 25, Josh. 
xv. 45, etc.. " Israel shall heir those who heired him," i.e. re- 
ceive back the property of those who have appropriated his 
land. — Ver. 3. The cities of the Ammonites, i.e. their inhabit- 
ants, shall howl and lament over this calamity. The summons 
given to Heshbon to howl implies that this city, formerly the 
residence of Sihon, was then in possession of the Ammonites. 
There is obscurity in the clause announcing the reason, " for 
^ (LXX. Ted) is laid waste : " the word seems to be a proper 
noun, but there is no city of this name known in the Ammonite 
country, or the land east of the Jordan ; while we must not 
think of Ai QV?} } Josh. vii. 2 f.), which was situated on the west 
side of the Jordan. Venema and Ewald are inclined to take the 
word as an appellative, synonymous with ?n, "ruins" (which is 
the meaning of *$), and regard it as the subject of Rabbah, the 
capital, " because it has been laid in ruins." But a comparison 
of xlviii. 20, iv. 20, Zech. xi. 3, rather favours our taking ^V as 
the subject. Graf and others would therefore change ''V into 
iy, as (they say) the capital of the Ammonites w r as called by 
the Israelites. But there are no historical traces of this desig- 
nation of Rabbah. There remains hardly any other course open 
than to consider ^ as the name of an important Ammonite city. 
The mere fact that it is mentioned nowhere else cannot form a 
strong foundation for the objection against this assumption, for 
we do not find anywhere a list of the Ammonite cities. The 

CHAP. XLIX. 1-C. 239 

inliabitants of the other towns are to put on signs of sorrow, and 
go about mourning " in the enclosures," i.e. in the open country, 
since the cities, being reduced to ashes, no longer afford shelter. 
Most expositors understand niVjf as meaning sheep-folds (Num. 
xxxii. 16, 24, 36) ; but there is no reason for taking this special 
view of the meaning of the word, according to which rrtVjS 
would stand for |S¥ H1T13. iTYia and T13 also mean the wall of 
a vineyard, or the hedges of the vineyards, and in Num. xxii. 24 
specially the enclosure of the vineyards at the cross-roads in the 
country east of the Jordan. This is the meaning here. We 
must not, with Nagelsbach, think of city walls on which one 
could run up and down, for the purpose of taking measures 
for defence: the words do not signify the walls of a city. The 
carrying away into exile of Malcam with his priests and princes 
gives the reason for the sorrow. ^^P is here not the earthly 
king, but the god Milcom viewed as the king of the Ammonites, 
as is clear from the addition ^lP, and from the parallel passage 
in xlviii. 7. The clause is copied from Amos i. 15, but Sttin 
has been substituted for VJnb, in order that Q3?o may be under- 
stood of Milcom, the chief deity (see on 1 Kings xi. 5). — Ver. 4. 
Thus shall the empty boasting of the Ammonites and their 
trust in their riches come to nothing. " Why dost thou boast 
of the valleys?" i.e. of the splendid fruitful valleys and plains 
which, being well watered, produced large crops of corn and 
wheat. 1 TJi^xpy 21 is viewed by some as an antithesis [to what 
immediately precedes] : " thy valley flows, sc. with the blood of 
the slain" (Rosenmiiller and Gesenius still view it thus); or, 
" it flows away," i.e. thy valley (viz. its inhabitants) is scattered, 
dispersed. But it is quite arbitrary to supply " with blood;" 
and even the other explanation — which Hitzig justifies on the 
ground that valley or river-bottom stands for what it contains, 

1 The LXX. have in this passage, as in xlvii. 5, changed poy for pjy, and 
translated r\ oiya.'h'hicco&i iv to<j tsIioi; 'Evvoucslfi ; here it remains doubtful 
whether they have expressed D^pDlft or ?]p»jj by 'JLvveucsifc. On the 
ground of this arbitrary paraphrase, Hitzig would at once change D^Dy 

• t ~: 

into D^pjy, without considering that the giant races of that region, to 
which Og the king of Bashan had also belonged (Deut. iii. 11), were not 
called D'pjy at aU \ but D^BTDT by the Ammonites, and D'O'N by the 
Moabites (Deut. ii. 10, 20). 


i.e. the inhabitants of the valley, and that the population is 
represented under the figure of a mass of water running, flow- 
ing away — is very far-fetched. The words cannot form an 
antithesis to what precedes (because the description of the con- 
fidence shown is still continued, and the antithesis does not 
follow till ver. 5), but merely a further extension of the pre- 
ceding clause. We may, then, either translate, " thy valley 
flows, overflows," so that the words shall be subordinated to 
what precedes ; or we may take 3T, with Ewald and Graf, as a 
noun, in which case we must repeat the preposition 3, " the 
abundance of thy valley." The singular, " thy valley," means, 
together with the other valleys of the country, perhaps the 
valley of Rabbah ; for Amman lies in a broad valley along the 
banks of the Moiet Amman, which has its source in a pool two 
hundred paces from the south-west end of the city (Burckhardt's 
Syria,) p. 355). Regarding the vicinity, Abulfeda writes ( Tabulce 
Syr. ed. Mich. p. 92), circumjecta regio. arva sativa sunt ac terra 
bona et abundans. The direct address, " O rebellious daughter," 
used of Israel in xxxi. 22, is here transferred to the inhabitants 
of Rabbah, with reference to the fact that the Ammonites, 
denying their descent from Lot, behaved like enemies towards 
Jahveh and His people. In trusting their riches, they are like 
the Moabites, xlviii. 7. In this confidence they said, " Who 
will come unto us?" i.e. attack us as enemies. Thereupon 
the Lord replies, " I will bring on thee fear, terror from all 
that is round thee," all the nations that dwell about thee (cf. 
xlviii. 17, 39), whose distress or overthrow will put thee in 
terror. toM Btyl = Wfi^ B^K, " every one before him " (cf . Josh. 
vi. 5, Amos iv. 3), without looking about him, or turning round 
(cf. xlvi. 5), i.e. in the most precipitate flight, with no one to 
rally the fugitives. *fW is collective. — Ver. 6. Yet afterwards, 
the fortunes of Amnion also shall be changed, as it was with 
Moab, xlviii. 47. 

Regarding the fulfilment of this prophecy (just as in the 
case of Moab), we have no further information than that of 
Josephus (Ant. x. 9. 7), that Nebuchadnezzar defeated and 
subdued the Ammonites in the fifth year after the destruction 
of Jerusalem. Shortly before, their king Baalis had got 
Gedaliah the governor put out of the way (Jer. xl. 14). Even 

CHAP. XLIX. 7-22. 241 

after the exile they kept up their hostile spirit against the 
Israelites and the Jews, inasmuch as they tried to hinder the 
building of the city walls at Jerusalem (Neh. iv. 1 ff.), and in 
the Maccabean age were still making war against the Jews ; 
1 Mace. v. 6, 30-43. Their name was preserved till the 
time of Justin Martyr ^Ajuiovitwv iari vvv iroiXv irXrjOo^, 
Dial. Tryph. p. 272). But Origen already comprehends their 
country under the general name Arabia (lib. 1 in Jobum). 

Vers. 7-22. Concerning Edom.— To the Edomites, whom 
Israel were to leave undisturbed in their possession, since they 
were a kindred nation (Deut. ii. 4), Balaam announces that 
" Edom shall become a possession," i.e. shall be taken pos- 
session of by the ruler rising out of Israel. We have shown, 
in the explanation given of Num. xxiv. 18, that up to the 
time of the exile this utterance had been fulfilled merely by 
feeble attacks being made, since the Edomites were only tem- 
porarily subdued by the Israelites, then soon made themselves 
independent again, and made war on Israel. On account of 
their implacable hostility towards the people of God, Ezekiel 
(xxv. 12 ff.), as well as Jeremiah in this prophecy, announces 
ruin to them. The contents of the prophecy before us are as 
follow : The far-famed wisdom of Teman will not preserve 
Edom from, the destruction with which Jahveh will visit it. 
The judgment of desolation that has been decreed shall in- 
evitably come on it (vers. 7-13). The nations shall wage war 
against it, and make it small ; because of its proud trust in the 
strength of its dwelling-place, it shall become the laughing- 
stock of every passer-by (vers. 14-18). As a lion from the 
reedy places of Jordan suddenly attacks a herd, the Lord will 
drag the Edomites from their rocky dwelling, so that the earth 
shall quake with the crash of their fall, and the anguish of 
death shall seize their heroes (vers. 19-22). In this prophecy 
Jeremiah has relied much on Obadiah, vers. 1-9, and repro- 
duced much of his expressions regarding the fall of Edom. 1 
According to what has been said, his address falls into three 
strophes. In the first (vers. 7-13), the judgment breaking 

1 The use made of Obadiah by Jeremiah has been so convincingly 
proved, especially by Caspari in his commentary ou Obadiah, that even 
Ewald and Graf, who place the prophecy of Obadiah in the time of the 

vol. ii. a 


over Edom is depicted as one that cannot be averted, and as 
having been irrevocably decreed by the Lord ; in the second 
(vers. 14-18), it is set forth as to its nature and the occasion 
of its occurrence; and in the third (vers. 19-22), as to its 
completion and consequences. 

Vers. 7-13. The judgment as inevitable. — Ver. 7. "Thus saith 
Jahveh of hosts : Is there no more wisdom in Teman? has wis- 
dom perished from those of understanding? is their wisdom [all] 
poured out ? Ver. 8. Flee, turn ye ! hide yourselves, ye inhabit- 
ants of Dedan; for I bring the destruction of Esau upon him, the 
time [when] I visit him. Ver. 9. If grape-gatherers come to thee, 
they will not leave gleanings ; if thieves by night, they destroy 
what suffices them. Ver. 10. For I have stripped Esau, I have 
uncovered his secret places, and he cannot cover himself ; his 
seed is destroyed, and his brethren, and his neighbours, and he 
is not. Ver. 11. Leave thine orphans, I will keep them alive ; 
and let thy widows trust me. Ver. 12. For thus saith Jahveh : 
Behold, [they] whose judgment was not to drink the cup shall 
certainly drink it : and art thou he [who] shall be quite un- 
punished ? thou shalt not be unpunished, but shalt certainly 
drink. Ver. 13. For by myself have I sworn, saith Jahveh, 
that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, 
and a curse; and all its cities shall become everlasting wastes." 

In order to frighten Edom out of his carnal security, the 
prophet begins by depicting the horror of the judgment coming 
down on this people, before which his wise men shall stand not 
knowing what to advise, and unable to find out any means for 
averting the evil. Tertian, the home of the wise Eliphaz (Job 
ii. 11), is here, as in Amos i. 12, Obad. ver. 9, the region of 
that name in Gebalene, the northern district of Idumea; see 
on Amos i. 12. The question, " Is there no longer wisdom in 
Teman?" is ironical, and has a negative meaning. The follow- 
ing clauses also are to be taken as questions, not as assent to 
the question, as Hitzig and Graf infer from the omission of DX. 
CJ2 is not the plural of }3, "son," but the participle of |13 or 

exile, acknowledge this use that has been made of it, and therefore hold 
that the first part of the book of Obadiah is a fragment of an older oracle. 
This is a hypothesis which we have already shown, in the introduction to 
Obadiah, to be untenable. 

CHAP. XLIX. 7-13. 243 

P?, and equivalent to IWiU ; cf. Isa. xxix. 14. — Ver. 8. The 
Dedanites, whose caravans march in peace through Edom (see 
on xxv. 23), must flee, and hide themselves in deeply concealed 
hiding-places, in order to escape the evil befalling Edom. The 
form WSn, which only occurs besides in Ezek. ix. 2, in the 
sense of being " turned, directed," is here preferred to the 
Hiphil (cf. ver. 24, xlvi. 21, etc.), in order to indicate the con- 
straint under which they must change their route. *P*fc?J! i ! is 
also an imperative, in spite of the Segol in the first syllable, 
which is found there, in some forms, instead of a ; cf. Ewald, 
§ 226, a. niwb *P?gn, " make deep to stay," i.e. withdraw 
yourselves into deep or hidden places, where the enemy does 
not see and discover you. u For the destruction of Esau," i.e. 
the destruction determined on Esau, or Edom, " I brine on 
him;" on this matter, cf. xlvi. 21. — Ver. 9 is a reproduction 
of Obad. ver. 5, but in such a way that what Obadiah brings 
forward as a comparison is directly applied by Jeremiah to the 
enemy : our prophet represents the enemy as grape-gatherers 
who leave nothing to glean, and as nocturnal thieves who 
destroy what is sufficient for them, i.e. destroy till they have 
enough, drag away and destroy as much as they can. The 
after-clauses, " they will not leave," etc., " they destroy," etc., 
are thus not to be taken as questions. The reference to 
Obadiah does not entitle us to supply Nibn from that passage. 
The connection here is somewhat different. The following 
verse is joined by means of *3, " for ; " and the thought, u for 
I have stripped Esau, I have discovered his secret places/' 
shows that the enemy is to be understood by the grape- 
gatherers and nocturnal thieves : he will leave nothing to 
glean — will plunder all the goods and treasures of Edom, even 
those that have been hidden. On this subject, cf. Obad. ver. 6. 
*)B>n, "to strip off leaves, make bare" (xiii. 26), has been 
chosen with a regard to *bBru in Obadiah. bv t6 nairn^ lit. 
" and he hides himself, he will not be able to do it ; " i.e. Esau 
(Edom) tries to hide himself ; he will not be able to do it — he 
will not remain concealed from the enemy. There are not 
sufficient grounds for changing the perf. nana == N3TU into the 
inf. abs. nam, as Ewald and Graf do. "His seed is de- 
stroyed," i.e. his family, the posterity of Esau, the Edomites, 


" his brethren," the descendants of nations related to the 
family, and of others similar who had intermingled with them, 
as the Amalekites, Gen. xxxvi. 12, Horites, Gen. xxxvi. 20 ff., 
Simeonites, 1 Chron. iv. 42, " and his neighbours," the neigh- 
bouring tribes, as Dedan, ver. 8, Thema and Buz, xxv. 23. 
" And he is not " is added to give intensity, as in Isa. xix. 7 ; 
cf. Jer. xxxi; 15. The last idea is made more intensive by ver. 
11, " Leave your orphans and widows." Edom is addressed, 
and the imperative expresses what must happen. The men of 
Edom will be obliged to leave their wives and children, and 
these will be left behind as widows and orphans, because the 
men fall in battle. Yet the Lord will care for them, so that 
they shall not perish. In this comfort there is contained a 
very bitter truth for the Edomites who hated Jahveh. nziTy is 
the imperative (Ewald, § 228, a), not infinitive (Hitzig) ; and 
iriDsn is a rare form of the jussive for rrjriDlin as in Ezek. 

t ; • o t ; - : • * 

xxxvii. 7 ; cf. Ewald, § 191, b. Reasons are given for these 
threats in vers. 12 and 13, first in the thought that Edom 
cannot continue to be the only one unpunished, then in the 
bringing forward of the solemnly uttered purpose of God. 
" Those who should not be compelled to drink." Those meant 
are the Israelites, who, as the people of God, ought to have 
been free from the penal judgment with which the Lord visits 
the nations. If, now, these are not left (spared such an 
infliction), still less can Edom, as a heathen nation, lay claim 
to exemption. By this Jeremiah does not mean to say that 
any injustice befalls the Jews if they are obliged to drink the 
cup of the wrath of God, but merely that their having been 
chosen to be the people of God does not give them any right 
to exemption from the judgments of God on the world, i.e. if 
they make themselves like the heathen through their sins and 
vices. The inf. abs. iHtt* for nhB> intensifies : " ye shall (must) 
drink." The idea is founded on that pervading chap, xxv., 
and there is use made of the words in xxv. 29. The ^ in ver. 
13 is mainly dependent on the clause immediately preceding : 
" thou shalt certainly drink." On " by myself have I sworn " 
cf. xxii. 5. In the threat that Edom shall be laid waste there 
is an accumulation of words corresponding to the excitement 
of feeling accompanying an utterance under solemn oath. 2~n 

CHAP. XLIX. 14-18. 245 

is used instead of the more common na-iPI; cf. xxv. 18, xliv. 22, 
etc. CPiy rtJin, as in xxv. 9. Bozrah was at that time the 
capital of the Edomites (cf. ver. 22) ; it lay south from the 
Dead Sea, on the site of the village Buseireh (Little Bozrah), 
in Jebal, which is still surrounded by a castle and with ruins 
of considerable extent, and is situated on an eminence ; see on 
Amos i. 12 and Gen. xxxvi. 33. " And all its cities," i.e. the 
rest of the cities of Idumea ; cf. IJpn^il, ver. 2. 

Vers. 14-18. The nature and occasion of the judgment decreed. 
— Ver. 14. " I have heard tidings from Jahveh, and a mes- 
senger has been sent among the nations : Gather yourselves 
together, and go against her, and arise to the battle ! Ver. 15. 
For, behold, I have made thee small among the nations, 
despised among men. Ver. 16. Thy terribleness hath de- 
ceived thee, the pride of thy heart, O thou that dwellest in the 
hiding-places of the rock, that boldest the height of the hill. 
Though thou makest thv nest high like the eagle, thence will 
I bring thee down, saith Jahveh. Ver. 17. And Edom shall 
become an astonishment; every passer-by shall be astonished at 
her, and shall hiss at all her plagues. Ver. 18. As [it was in] 
the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, saith Jahveh, no 
man shall dwell there, nor shall a son of man sojourn there." 

This judgment will immediately take place. The nations 
who are to make Edom small and despised have been already 
summoned by the Lord to the war. Jeremiah has taken this 
idea from Obad. vers. 1, 2. The subject in "I have heard" is 
the prophet, who has heard the information from Jahveh. In 
Obadiah is found the plural, " we have heard," because the 
prophet includes himself among the people ; this is to show 
that the news serves as a consolation to Israel, because Edom 
shall be punished for his crimes committed against Judah. 
This view was not before the mind of Jeremiah; with him the 
prevailing representation is, that judgment, from which Edom 
cannot be excepted, is passed upon all nations. Therefore he 
has chosen the singular, " I have heard." In the succeeding 
clause the perf. Pual W has been changed into nw, as the 
more usual form. The messenger is to be considered as havino- 
been sent by the Lord for the purpose of summoning the 
nations to war, as he actually does in the second hemistich. 


The message agrees, in the nature of its contents, with Obad. 
ver. 1 ; but Jeremiah has dealt somewhat freely with its form. 
The statement with regard to the object of the war, ver. 15, 
agrees pretty exactly with Obad. ver. 2. The account, too, 
which is given of the cause of the judgment, i.e. the guilt of 
Edom arising from his trusting in the impregnable character 
of his habitation, is derived from Obad. vers. 3, 4. Jeremiah 
has intensified the idea by the additional use of ^JjlVpsn, but 
has also made certain limitations of the expression by omitting 
some clauses found in Obadiah. The word just named is air. 
Xe7., and has been variously explained. The verb J*?3 occurs 
only in Job ix. 6, with the meaning of quaking, trembling ; 
and the noun T\W?B pretty frequently in the sense of fear, 
shuddering, horror; further, nv?SD is used in 1 Kings xv. 13, 
2 Chron. xv. 16, of an idol, monster, object of horror. Hence 
Rabbinical writers have been inclined to understand n^SR as 
meaning idolatry ; in this they are followed by J. D. Michaelis, 
Meier, and Nagelsbach. The last-named writer translates, 
" Thy monster (idol) led thee astray." But even though 
this meaning were better established from the use of language 
than it is, yet the mention of idolatry, or even of an idol, is 
quite unsuitable in this passage. The LXX. render rj irai^vla 
aov, i.e. risus or jocus tuus, Chald. SJlWBE), " thy folly," — 
evidently a mere guess from the context. The best ascer- 
tained translation is, " Thy terror," i.e. the terror which thou 
dost inspire, or the fear of thee, " hath misled thee, the pride 
of thine heart," so that " the pride," etc., forms an apposition 
to " thy terror." The combination of the fem. IJwSfl with 
the verb N^n in the masc. is not decisive against this. Follow- 
ing the example of Schleussner (0 arrogantiam tuam), Hitzig 
and Graf would take the word as an exclamation, " Terror to 
thee ! horror on thee ! " and they point for support to E333n, 
Isa. xxix. 16. But an exclamation is out of place here, and 
incompatible with the derivation of the following words from 
Obadiah. Since Jeremiah appropriates from Obadiah the 
thought, u thy pride hath misled thee," *fi>v2n may possibly 
be meant as a mere intensification of ^3? r i1T. The pride of 
Edom increased because the other nations were afraid to make 
war on him in his rocky dwelling, so difficult of access. On 

CHAP. XLIX. 19-22. £47 

&'??? ll? 1 ?? ^H see on Obad. ver. 3. The succeeding apposition- 
clause il'OB' Qi" 1 ^, found in Obadiah, is modified by Jeremiah 
into nyaa Dho ^ain, " thou that seizest, or holdest (as in xl. 10), 
the height of the hill." In the expression J???n *Wn there is 
perhaps implied an allusion to the rock-city J???, or Petra, in the 
Wady Musa (see on 2 Kings xiv. 7), and in nyna Dh» another 
allusion to Bozrah, which lay on a hill ; see on ver. 13. On ver. 
1 6, cf. Obad. ver. 4. Jeremiah has omitted the hyperbolic addi- 
tion, " among the stars." In vers. 17 and 18 the devastation 
of Edom is further portrayed. On ver. 17a, cf. xxv. 11, 38; 
with lib agrees xix. 8, almost word for word. The comparison 
with Sodom, etc., is a reminiscence from Deut. xxix. 22, and 
is repeated in the prophecy concerning Babylon, 1. 40 ; cf. Isa. 
xiii. 19, Amos iv. 11. "Her neighbours" are Admah and 
Zeboim, Deut. xxix. 22, Hos. xi. 8. The comparison with 
Sodom is not so to be understood as if it indicated that Edom 
shall be destroyed in the same manner as Sodom ; it is merely 
stated that the land of Edom shall become a desert waste, like 
the region of the Dead Sea, uninhabited, and with no human 
beings in it ; cf. ver. 33 and 1. 40. 

Vers. 19-22. The execution of the judgment, and fall of 
Edom. — Ver. 19. " Behold, he shall come up like a lion from 
the glory of Jordan, to the dwelling of rock : but in a moment 
will I drive him away from her, and will appoint over her him 
who is chosen ; for who is like me ? and who will summon 
me [before the judge] ? and what shepherd shall stand before 
me? Ver. 20. Therefore hear the counsel of Jahveh which 
He hath counselled against Edom, and His purposes which He 
has purposed against the inhabitants of Teman : Surely they 
shall drag them about, the little ones of the flock ; surely he 
shall lay waste their dwelling over them. Ver. 21. At the 
noise of their fall the earth trembles ; a cry — its noise is heard 
in the Red Sea. Ver. 22. Behold, he shall come like the 
eagle and dart after [his prey], and spread his wings over 
Bozrah ; and the heart of the mighty men of Edom in that 
day shall become like the heart of a woman travailing." 

As a lion coming up out of the thicket of reeds at the 
Jordan (JTW pxa, see on xii. 5) suddenly attacks a flock, so 
shall he who executes the judgment attack the Edomites in 


their strong habitations, and at once put them to flight. The 
foe or general who executes the judgment is here no further 
pointed out, as in xlvi. 18, xlviii. 20; but he is merely set forth 
as a lion, and in ver. 22 as an eagle that in its flight darts 
down on its prey. |}VX rvn 5 pasture or dwelling of permanence; 
as jn^ is used in Num. xxiv. 21 of the rocky range of Sinai, 
so is it used here of the rocky range of Seir (PS? "".un, ver. 16). 
The translation " evergreen pasture" (Graf, Nagelsbach) can- 
not be defended ; for neither {rPS, " continual, enduring," nor 
HW, "pasture-ground, dwelling," includes the notion of green 
grass. Quite baseless is the assumption of Hitzig, that the 
former word means the " shepherd " as remaining with the 
flock. fW'Tl!*, " I shall wink," stands for the adverb, " imme- 
diately, at once." rpfcfD Wf% " I will make him (Edom) 
run, " i.e. drive him, " from it," his habitation (which is con- 
strued as fern, ad sensum). Jahveh sends the lion ; Jahveh 
is not compared with the lion (Hitzig). In "WD "'O the former 
word is not the interrogative pronoun, but the indefinite 
quicunque, as in Ex. xxiv. 14 ; cf. Ewald, 332, b. And the 
latter word is not " the valiant shepherd " (Hitzig), but sig- 
nifies "chosen/' nvK is used instead of rv?y ? and ?V "TpS 

TV" T V T " ~ T 

means to " set over " something, as the chief, superior. The 
idea is, that God will frighten away the Edomites out of their 
land by a lion, and appoint him as the shepherd whom He 
chooses for that purpose. None can prevent this, for there is 
none like Jahveh in strength or power, and none can call Him 
to account for His doing. l3Ty s (from "W)), in Hiphil, to u sum- 
mon before the court of justice," i.e. to call on one to make a 
defence; cf. Job ix. 19. Nor can any shepherd stand before 
Jahveh, i.e. defend his flock. These words are directed 
against the rulers of Edom, who foolishly imagined they were 
secure, and could not be touched in their rock-fortresses. The 
words, moreover, contain general truths, so that we cannot 
apply "W/D to historical persons, such as Nebuchadnezzar or Alex- 
ander the Great. — Ver. 20. This truth the Edomites are to 
lay to heart, and to hear, i.e. consider the purpose which the 
Lord has formed regarding Edom. Teman is not synonymous 
with Edom, but the inhabitants of Teman are specially named 
together with Edom in the parallel member, because they 

CHAP. XI.IX. 19-22. 2-19 

were particularly famous for their wisdom (ver. 7), and in 
their pride over this wisdom, held the counsels of God in very 
small esteem. The counsel of God, the thoughts which He 
has conceived regarding Edom, follow in the clauses which are 
introduced with solemn assurance. }NS?n n»J« MrfD^ is ren- 
dered by the Vulgate, si non dejecerint eos parvuli gregis, which 
Luther follows in his translation, "if the shepherd-boys will 
not drag them away." And C. B. Michaelis and Havernick 
(on Ezekiel, p. 415) still view the words as meaning that " the 
least of the flock" will drag away Edom; i.e. the covenant people, 
weak and miserable though they are, will be victorious over 
Edom : in support of this rendering they point to Ezek. xxv. 14. 
But though Ezekiel clearly declares that the Lord will satisfy 
His revenge on Edom by means of His people Israel, yet it does 
not follow from this that Ezekiel had this passage of Jeremiah 
in his mind, and sought so to apply it. In spite of the clear- 
ness with which the thought is expressed by Obadiah and 
Ezekiel, that Edom will at last become the prey of the people 
of God, we would expect to find it in Jeremiah only as a 
simple inference from his words ; for Jeremiah does not, like 
Obadiah and Ezekiel, mention the enmity of Edom to Israel as 
the cause of his guilt, but only the pride of his heart. Against 
taking " the little ones of the flock " as the subject of the clause, 
we find these considerations: (1) 3riD ? "to pull, drag away," 
does not well apply to sheep, but rather points to dogs (xv. 3) 
or lions, which drag away their prey. (2) The context is far 
from leading us to understand, by the little ones of the sheep, 
Israel or the people of God, either here or where the words are 
repeated, 1. 45 ; while Zech. ii. 7 and xiii. 7 are passages which 
cannot be held as reo;ulatin£ this verse. In ver. 19 the rulers 
of Edom are viewed as shepherds : in accordance with this 
figure, the Edomites are in ver. 20 called sheep, and weak, 
helpless ones too. The subject of B^np 1 ; is indefinite : " the 
enemy will advance like a lion out of the jungle of the Jordan ; " 
the suffix precedes the noun, as in xlviii. 44, etc. The fate of 
Edom will be so terrible, that their pasture-ground, their habi- 
tation, will be astonished at it. The Hiphil D" 1 ^ is formed, like 
t^EO in Num. xxi. 20, from 0£C> ; not, however, with the sense 
of " laying waste," which the construction with ?V of a person 


does not suit, but with the meaning of " making astonished," 
as in Ezek. xxxii. 10, and only here with the directly causative 
sense of manifesting, showing astonishment or amazement. — 
Ver. 21. The fall of Edom will be so fearful, that the earth 
will tremble, and the cry of anguish from the perishing people 
will be heard on the Red Sea. CP33 is the inf. Kal with suffix. 
The threatening concludes, in ver. 22, with the same thought 
through which destruction is threatened to the Moabites, xlviii. 
40 ff. The comparison of the enemy to an eagle is continued 
in the expression, "he shall come up;" the coming up, how- 
ever, does not mean the rising of the eagle into the air, but 
refers to the enemy : to march as an enemy against Edom. 

With reference to the fulfilment of this prophecy, we have 
already pointed out, on Num. xxiv. 18, and at the close of the 
exposition in Obadiah, that the threatened devastation of the 
land of Edom was brought about by the Chaldeans, as is clear 
from Mai. i. 3 ; but the annihilation of the people w r as com- 
menced by the Maccabeans, and completed by the Romans, 
about the time of the Jewish war. 

Vers. 23-27. Concerning Damascus. — Aram, on this side 
of the Euphrates, or Syria, was divided, in the times of Saul and 
David, into the kingdoms of Damascus, Zobah, and Hamath, 
of which the second, extending between Damascus and Hamath 
(see on 2 Sam. viii. 3), or situated north-eastward from Damas- 
cus, between the Orontes and the Euphrates, was the most 
powerful ; its kings were defeated by Saul (1 Sam. xiv. 47), 
and afterwards conquered and made tributary to the kingdom 
of Israel by David, who did the same to the Syrians of Da- 
mascus that had come to the assistance of Hadadezer king 
of Zobah (2 Sam. viii. and x.). After the death of David 
and during the time of Solomon, a freebooter named Rezon, 
who had broken away from Hadadezer during the war, estab- 
lished himself in Damascus (see on 1 Kings xi. 23-25), and 
became the founder of a dynasty which afterwards made 
vassals of all the smaller kings of Syria, whose number is given 
1 Kings xx. 1. This dynasty also, under the powerful rulers 
Benhadad I. and II. and Hazael, long pressed hard on the king- 
dom of Israel, and conquered a great part of the Israelite terri- 
tory (1 Kings xv. 18 ff., xx. 1 ff., xxii. 3 ff. ; 2 Kings v. 1 ff., 

CHAP. XLIX. 23-27. 251 

vi. 8 ff., viii. 28 f., x. 32 f., xii. 18 ff., xiii. 3 ff.). At last, King 
Joash, after the death of Hazael, succeeded in retaking the con- 
quered cities from his son, Benhadad III. (2 Kings xiii. 19 ff.) ; 
and Jeroboam n. was able to restore the ancient frontiers of 
Israel as far as Hamath (2 Kings xiv. 25). Some decades 
later, Rezin king of Damascus, in alliance withPekah of Israel, 
undertook a war of conquest against Judah during the time 
of Ahaz, who therefore called to his aid the Assyrian king 
Tiglath-pileser. This monarch conquered Damascus, and put 
an end to the Syrian kingdom, by carrying away the people to 
Kir (2 Kings xv. 37, xvi. 5-9). This kingdom of Syria is 
called " Damascus" in the prophets, after its capital. We find 
threats of destruction and ruin pronounced against it even by 
such early prophets as Amos (i. 3-5), for its cruelty committed 
against Israel, and Isaiah (xvii. 1 ff.), because of its having 
combined with Israel to destroy Judah. According to the use 
of language just referred to, " Damascus," mentioned in the 
heading of this prophecy, is not the city, but the kingdom of 
Syria, which has been named after its capital, and to which, 
besides Damascus, belonged the powerful cities of Hamath and 
Arpad, which formerly had kings of their own (Isa. xxxvii. 13). 
Jeremiah does not mention any special offence. In the judg- 
ment to come on all nations, Aram-Damascus cannot remain 

Ver. 23. " Hamath is ashamed, and Arpad, for they have 
heard evil tidings : they despair ; there is trouble on the sea ; no 
one can rest. Ver. 24. Damascus has become discouraged, she 
has turned to flee : terror has seized her ; distress and pains have 
laid hold on her, like a woman in childbirth. Ver. 25. How is the 
city of praise not left, the city of my delight? Ver. 26. There- 
fore shall her young men fall in her streets, and all the men of 
war shall be silent in that day, saith Jahveh of hosts. Ver. 27. 
And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall 
devour the palaces of Benhadad." 

The largest cities of Aram are seized with consternation and 
discouragement. Damascus would flee, but its men of war fall 
by the sword of the enemy, and the city is in flames. The 
description of the terror which overpowers the inhabitants of 
Aram begins with Hamath (Epiphaneia of the Greeks, now 


called Hamah), which lies north from Hums (Emesa), on the 
Orontes (el 'Asi) ; see on Gen. x. 17 and Num. xxxiv. 8. Arpad 
is always mentioned in connection with Hamath (Isa. x. 9, 
xxxvi. 19, xxxvii. 13 ; 2 Kings xviii. 34 and xix. 13) : in the 
list of Assyrian synonyms published by Oppert and Schrader, it 
is sounded Arpadda ; and judging by the name, it still remains 
in the large village of Arfad, mentioned by Marasc., about 
fifteen miles north from Haleb (Aleppo) ; see on 2 Kings xviii. 
34. The bad news which Hamath and Arpad have heard is 
about the approach of a hostile army. " She is ashamed," i.e. 
disappointed in her hope and trust (cf. xvii. 13), with the acces- 
sory idea of being confounded. JiB3, to be fainthearted from 
fear and anxiety ; cf. Josh. ii. 9, 24, Ex. xv. 15, etc. There is 
a difficulty with the expression nax'n D'^ from the mention of 
the sea. Ewald has therefore invented a new word, l| 3, which 
is stated to signify mind, heart; and he translates, " their heart 
is in trouble." Graf very rightly remarks, against this, that 
there was no occasion whatever for the employment of a word 
which occurs nowhere else. The simplest explanation is that 
of J. D. Michaelis, Rosenmiiller, and Maurer : i: on the sea," 
i.e. onwards to the sea, " anxiety prevails." The objection of 
Graf, that on this view there is no nominative to ?2V, cannot 
make this explanation doubtful, because the subject (Ger. man, 
Fr. on, Eng. people, they) is easily obtained from the context. 
The words ?3V vb K5j?tJ>n form a reminiscence from Isa. lvii. 20, 
where they are used of the sea when stirred up, to which the 
wicked are compared. But it does not follow from this that the 
words are to be understood in this passage also of the sea, and 
to be translated accordingly : " in the sea there is no rest," i.e. 
the sea itself is in ceaseless motion (Hitzig) ; or with a change 
of D s 3. into D*3, " there is a tumult like the sea, which cannot 
keep quiet" (Graf). As little warrant is there for concluding, 
from passages like Jer. xvii. 12 ff., where the surging of the 
Assyrian power is compared to the roaring of the waves of the 
sea, that the unrest of the inhabitants of Syria, who are in a 
state of anxious solicitude, is here compared to the restless 
surging and roaring of the sea (Umbreit). For such a pur- 
pose, ■"U^!, " concern, solicitude," is much too weak, or rather 
inappropriate. — Ver. 24. pw®1 n £f£l, " Damascus has become 

CHAP. XL1X 23-27. 253 

slack," i.e. discouraged ; she turns to flee, and cannot escape, 
being seized with trembling and anxiety. n ?*?£!j3 * s no ^ tne 
third pers. fem., prehendit terrorerrij but stands for fii^nri, with 
Mappik omitted, because the tone is retracted in consequence 
of the Athnach ; cf. vi. 24, viii. 21, etc. " Terror has seized 
Damascus." In the last clause Ev^ni is subsumed along with 
rns ; hence the verb is put in the singular. — Ver. 25. The 
question, u How is not," etc., has been differently explained. 
Eichhorn, Gesenius, Ewald, and Umbreit take the words 
according to the German usage, in the sense, " How is the city 
forsaken ? " or laid waste. But this Germanism is foreign to 
the Hebrew ; and it is not obviated by C. B. Michaelis taking 
11 how " in the sense of quam inopinato et quam horribiliter non 
deserta est, so that the words would mean nullus est modus deser- 
tionis aut gradus quern, Damascus non sit experta, because N? ^ 
does not express the kind and manner, or the degree of an 
action. In the only other passage where N? T*? occurs (2 Sam. 
i. 14) the negative has its full meaning. Others (Calvin, 
Schnurrer, J. D. Michaelis, Rosenmiiller, Maurer) take 2]y in 
the sense of leaving free, untouched : " How has she not been 
left untouched ? " i.e. been spared. But this meaning of the 
verb is nowhere found. There is no other course left than, with 
Nagelsbach, to take the verb as referring to the desertion of the 
city through the flight of the inhabitants, as in iv. 29, etc., and 
to take the words thus : " Plow is (i.e. how has it happened that) 
the famous city (is) not forsaken ?" According to this view, it 
is not the desolation of the city that is bewailed, but the fact 
that the inhabitants have not saved their lives by flight. The 
way is prepared for this thought by ver. 24, where it is said that 
the inhabitants of Damascus wish to flee, but are seized with 
convulsive terror ; in ver. 25 also there is a more specific reason 
given for it, where it is stated that the youths (the young 
warriors) and all the men of war shall fall in the streets of the 
city, and be slain by foes. The suffix in " my delight" refers 
to the prophet, and expresses his sympathy for the fall of the 
glorious city (see on xlviii. 31) ; because not only does its popu- 
lation perish, but the city itself also (ver. 27) is to be burned 
to ashes. — Ver. 27 has been imitated from Amos i. 4 and ver. 
14 conjointly, ncha, not " on," but " in," i.e. " within the 


wall." " The palaces of Benliadad" are the palaces of the 
Syrian kings generally, because three kings of Damascus bore 
this name. 

The fulfilment of this threat cannot be proved historically, 
from want of information. Since Pharaoh-Necho had con- 
quered Syria as far as the Euphrates, it is very possible that, 
after the defeat of the Egyptians at Carchemish, in the con- 
quest of Syria by Nebuchadnezzar, Damascus was harshly 
treated. The prophecy is, however, so general in its statement, 
that we need not confine its fulfilment to the conquest by Nebu- 

Vers. 28-33. "Concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of 
Hazor, which Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon smote." 
(The Ketldb "iteso - ]?^ is perhaps merely an error in transcrip- 
tion occasioned by the occurrence of the preceding ""*£.) Kedar, 
the Kedarenes, a Bedouin nation descended from Ishmael, 
dwelling in tents throughout the region between Arabia Petrsea 
and Babylonia (see on Gen. xxv. 13 and Ezek. xxvii. 21), is 
Here, no doubt, a general name for all the nomadic tribes and 
shepherd nations of Arabia. Hazor elsewhere occurs only as 
the name of various cities in Palestine (Josh. xi. 1, xv. 23, 
25, xix. 23 ; Nah. xi. 33), of which we need not think here, 
since it is Arabians who are spoken of. No locality or region 
of this name in Arabia is known. Jeremiah appears to have 
formed the name for the purpose of designating those Arabians 
who dwelt in ^"'-ft!, "courts" or "villages," and who thus differed 
from the Bedouins proper, or nomads and dwellers in tents ; cf. 
Isa. xlii. 11 with Gen. xxv. 16. The settled Arabians are to 
this day called Hadarijeh, in contrast with Wabarijeh, who 
dwell in tents. " ffadar, "ivn, is the settled dwelling-place, in 
contrast with bedu, the steppe, where the tents are pitched, 
sometimes here, sometimes there, and only for a time " (Delitzsch 
on Isa. xlii. 11, vol. ii. p. 182 of Clark's translation). " The 
kingdoms of Hazor" are the regions of the settled tribes, ruled 
by their own princes or sheiks ; cf. xxv. 24. 1 In the prophecy, 
the general designation, " children of the east," i.e. Orientals, 

1 According to Mrc. v. Niebuhr, Gescli. Ass. u. Bab. p. 210, " Hazor is 
the modern Hajar, a region which occupies the whole north-eastern corner 
of the Nejed, and to which, in the wider sense, Lascha, the region on the 

CHAP. XLIX. 28-33. 255 

alternates with Kedar : the former is the most common name 
given to the tribes living to the east of Palestine, in the wilder- 
ness: cf. Judg. vi. 3, Job i. 3, Ezek. xxv. 4. Instead of this 
name, Josephus uses the designation "Arabians" (Ant. v. 6. 1); 
later, "Nabateans" or "Kedarenes" became common. Here 
also (ver. 32) is used the special designation HNS *jnxj? [cut (at) 
the corner (of the hair)], which points to the custom, usual 
among several of these Bedouin tribes, of cropping the hair of 
the head and beard ; see on ix. 25 and xxv. 23. 

Ver. 28b. " Thus saith Jahveh, Arise, go up to Kedar, and 
destroy the children of the east. Ver. 29. Their tents and 
their flocks shall they take : their curtains, and all their vessels, 
and their camels shall they carry away for themselves ; and they 
shall cry over them, Fear is on every side. Ver. 30. Flee ! 
wander far, dwell deep, ye inhabitants of Hazor, saith Jahveh ; 
for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath taken counsel against 
you, and hath devised a plan against them. Ver. 31. Arise ! 
go up against a nation at ease, dwelling carelessly, saith Jahveh ; 
it has no gates nor bars — they dwell alone. Ver. 32. And their 
camels shall be a prey, and the multitude of their herds a spoil ; 
and I will scatter them to every wind who have cut the corner 
[of their beards], and from all sides will I bring their destruc- 
tion, saith Jahveh. Ver. 33. And Hazor shall be an habitation 
of jackals, a desolation for ever. No man shall dwell there, 
nor shall a son of man sojourn in it." 

This prophecy consists of two brief strophes, which begin 
with a summons to the army of the enemy to wage war on the 
Arabians (ver. 286 and ver. 31), and then announce the execu- 
tion of this order ; the arrangement, moreover, is such that 
there is attached to the first strophe a summons to the Arabians 
to save themselves by flight (ver. 30), while the other concludes 
with the threat that their territory shall be destroyed (ver. 33). 
— Ver. 28. npy is used with $>N instead of ^V, to signify hostile 
advance against a nation or city. flltf with Qametz-Hatuph 
(without Metheg) is imperative ; cf. Ewald, § 227, i, with 
251, c. The verbs in^ and ^b» in ver. 29 are not jussives 

coast, also belongs." But -|ftn, from -|VI"|, which corresponds to ^-^ or 
.*.£»-, is fundamentally different from .s3j$ or «c\_-^. 


(Ewald, Umbreit, etc.), but imperfects, describing what takes 
place in consequence of the order given. Tents and flocks of 
sheep and goats, curtains and vessels, together with camels, 
form the property and wealth of the nomads. NBO, to take 
away, carry off ; Dn^, sibi. They call out over them, as if it 
were a watch-cry, " Horror around : " on this expression, see 
vi. 25. This justifies the call addressed to them, "Flee," etc. 
To *D3 is added *M for the purpose of intensifying, and this 
again is further strengthened by appending "1KB : " Use every 
effort to flee." rOB& *Pt?$l as in ver. 8. A reason is given 
for the summons, in the statement that Nebuchadnezzar, as the 
instrument of Jahveh, has formed a plan against them ; cf. ver. 
20 and xviii'. 11. Instead of Dn^g, many mss. and the ancient 
versions have Mvg, in conformity with the first member. In 
all probability, the original reading is " against them," inasmuch 
as " the discourse, as in other instances, makes a transition, in 
the last portion, from direct address to a calmer style of speak- 
ing" (Ewald). — Ver. 31 does not declare the plan of the king 
of" Baby Ion; but the words, "Arise, go ye up," etc., are once 
more the summons of the Lord, as is shown by the expression 
" saith Jahveh." The enemy is to march against a peaceful 
nation, dwelling securely, that has neither doors nor bars, i.e. 
does not live in cities surrounded by walls with gates and bars 
(cf. 1 Sam. xxiii. 7, Deut. iii. 5), whose territory, therefore, is 
easily conquered. They dwell alone, apart from others, without 
connection and intercourse with other nations, from which they 
could obtain help and support. vbfc*, like TjW, Job xxxvi. 2, 
Dan. vii. 8, is a Chaldaizing form ; elsewhere it is written VX>, 
Job xxi. 23, or 1^, Job xvi. 12. As to living securely, cf. 
Judg. xviii. 7, Ezek. xxxviii. 11 ; on living alone, xv. 17. This 
last is elsewhere said only of Israel, Num. xxiii. 9, Deut. xxxiii. 
28. Their possessions will become the spoil of the enemy ; God 
will scatter them to every wind (cf. Ezek. v. 12, xii. 14), and 
bring destruction on them from every side (on Vnny, cf. 1 Kings 
v. 4). — Ver. 33. The dwelling-places of the settled tribes 
(Hazor) shall become the habitation of jackals (cf. ix. 10), an 
uninhabited desolation for ever. Ver. 336 is in part a repeti- 
tion of ver. 18. 

With regard to the fulfilment of this prophecy, it follows 

CHAP. XLIX. 34-39. 257 

from the latter part of the title that Nebuchadnezzar had 
smitten the Arabian tribes, i.e. defeated them, and subjected 
them to his sway. But we have no historical information as 
to the time when this took place. M. von Niebuhr (Gesch. 
Assyr. u. Bab. S. 209) and Duncker (Gescli. d. Alterth. i. S. 
427) suppose that Nebuchadnezzar, after he had returned home 
to Babylon from Hither Asia, having heard of the death of 
his father, after his victory at Carchemish, and after he had 
ascended the throne, " as it seems," first thought of extending 
his authority over the Arabians on the lower portion of the 
Euphrates, in North Arabia, and in the Syrian desert. This 
supposition may possibly be true, but cannot be raised to historic 
probability ; moreover, it is connected, by the above-mentioned 
historians, with theories regarding the campaigns against Hither 
Asia which rest upon statements of Josephus that are very 
uncertain, and some of which can be proved to be incorrect. 
Such is the statement in Antt. x. 6. 1, that Nebuchadnezzar, 
after his victory at Carchemish, in pursuing the Egyptians 
to the borders of their country, did not touch Judea. The 
only notice we have, apart from Scripture, of the conquest of 
Arabia by Nebuchadnezzar, is that furnished by Josephus 
{contra Ap. i. 19) from Berosus : Kparrjaat Be <p7]<ri tov 
BafivXcoviov (i.e. Nebuchadnezzar) Alyv-rrrov, Hvpias, ^ocvlkt]^, 
'Apafiias. But this notice is stated in such indefinite and 
general terms, that nothing more specific can be inferred from 
it regarding the time and circumstances of the conquest of the 

Vers. 34-39. Concerning Elam. — By the title (on the form 
of which, cf. xlvi. 1, xlvii. 1, and xiv. 1), the utterance regarding 
Elam is placed "in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king 
of Judah ; " hence it was published later than the prophecies in 
chap, xlviii. and in xlix. 1-33, and not long before the prophecy 
regarding Babylon in chap. 1. Elam, a Shemitic people in 
Elymais, the Persian province of Susiana (the modern Husis- 
tan), which, except in Gen. xiv. 1, only appears in history 
when it had no longer a Shemitic but an Aryan language (see 
on Gen. x. 22 and Dan. viii. 2), is mentioned in Isa. xxii. 6 as 
serving in the Assyrian army, and in Isa. xxi. 6 as being, 
together with Madai (the Medes), the executors of judgment 



against Babylon. That Elam still belonged, in the time of 
Esarhaddon, to the kingdom of Assyria, follows from Ezra iv. 9, 
where Elamites are mentioned among the colonists whom this 
Assyrian king transplanted into the depopulated kingdom of the 
ten tribes. But whether Elam, after the revolt of Media, also 
made itself independent of Assyria, or remained subject to this 
kingdom till it fell, we have no historical data to determine. 
The same must be said regarding the question whether, after 
the fall of Nineveh and the destruction of the Assyrian king- 
dom by the united armies of Nabopolassar from Babylon and 
Cyaxares from Media, Elam was incorporated with the Median 
or the Babylonian kingdom; for nothing more specific has been 
transmitted to us regarding the division of the conquered king- 
dom among the two victors. Judging from its geographical 
situation, we must probably come to the conclusion that Elam 
fell to the lot of the Medes. Seeing that there is an utter want, 
in other respects, of facts regarding the earlier history of Elam, 
neither can a historical occasion be made out for this prophecy. 
The supposition of Ewald, " that the wild and warlike Elamites 
(Isa. xxii. 6) had shortly before taken part with the Chaldeans 
as their allies in the deposition of Jehoiachin and the first great 
exile of the people, and had therein shown themselves particu- 
larly cruel," has no support of any kind, either in the contents 
of the prophecy or in the time when it was composed. The 
prophecy itself contains not the slightest indication of any 
hostility on the part of the Elamites towards Judah ; nor is 
anything proved regarding this by the fact that the chastise- 
ment is not said to proceed from Nebuchadnezzar, but directly 
from Jahveh, since, in the oracles concerning Philistia, Edom, 
and Damascus also, Nebuchadnezzar is not mentioned, but 
Jahveh is named as the one who destroys these peoples and 
burns up their cities ; cf. xlvii. 4, xlix. 10, 13 if., 27. Add to 
this, that the assumption of Elamites being in Nebuchadnezzar's 
army is devoid of historic probability, since Elam, as has already 
been stated, hardly belonged to the Chaldean kingdom. 1 

1 No valid reason has been adduced for calling in question the statement 

' in the title regarding the time when this prophecy was composed ; yet this 

has been done by Movers, Hitzig, and Nagelsbach. " That the LXX. have 

given the heading twice, the first time briefly, and then fully at the end 

CHAP. XLIX. 34-39. 250 

Ver. 35. " Thus saith Jaliveh of hosts : Behold, I will break 
the bow of Elam, the chief part of their strength. Ver. 36. 
And I will bring upon Elam four winds from the four ends of 
the heaven, and I will scatter them towards all these winds ; and 
there shall be no nation where the scattered ones of Elam shall 
not come. Ver. 37. And I will make Elam terrified before 
their enemies, and before those who seek their life ; and I will 
bring on them evil, the heat of my wrath, saith Jahveh ; and I 
will send after them the sword, until I consume them. Ver. 38. . 
And I will place my throne in Elam, and will destroy thence 
king and princes, saith Jahveh. Ver. 39. But it shall be in the 
end of the days, that I will turn the captivity of Elam, saith 

Elam's martial power is to be destroyed, and its population 
scattered to the four winds among all nations (ver. 25 f.). The 
Lord will make them terrified before their enemies, and let them 
be pursued by the sword till they are swept away (ver. 37). In 
the country itself He will hold a tribunal, and destroy king and 
priests out of it (ver. 38). In ver. 35, the bow, as the chief 
weapon of the Elamites (cf. Isa. xxii. 6), is mentioned, by 
synecdoche, instead of all offensive and defensive weapons, 
for all the means of resistance and attack employed by this 
warlike nation. This, indeed, is shown by the apposition, " the 
first-fruits {i.e. the chief part) of their strength " or valour. 
To break the bow in pieces is thus equivalent to rendering 
defenceless. The plural suffix in Drn^a points to Elam as a 
nation — the Elamites. Hitzig, Graf, and older expositors 
make an assumption which is both unnecessary and incapable 

of the piece, merely shows that two different readings have noiv been com- 
bined in it" (Ewald). And Niigelsbach has yet to bring proof of the assur- 
ance given us when he says, " I consider it quite impossible that Jeremiah, 
in the beginning of Zedekiah's reign, should have thought of any other 
than Nebuchadnezzar as the instrument to be employed in executing judg- 
ment, or that he should even have left this matter in suspe7iso." If Jere- 
miah, as a prophet of the Lord, does not announce, as the word of Jahveh, 
mere human conjectures regarding the future, but only what the Spirit of 
the Lord suggested to him, neither could he set forth his own conjectures 
regarding the question by whom God the Lord was to scatter the Elamites 
to the four winds, but must leave it in suspenso, if the Spirit of the Lord 
had revealed nothing to him regarding it. 


of proof, that fl$i? stands for 0^23, and means u the valiant, 
brave people of war," as in Isa. xxi. 17 and 1 Sam. ii. 4 ; but 
neither in these passages can the alleged meaning be fully made 
out. — Ver. 36. Through the working of God's power, the Elam- 
ites shall be dispersed to all the four winds, i.e. to all parts of 
the earth. This exercise of power is represented under the 
figure of the four winds. The wind is the most appropriate 
among all earthly things for symbolizing the Spirit of God, or 
the energy of the divine operation ; cf. Zech. vi. 5, Dan. vii. 2. 
The Kethib D^iy in ver. 36 has evidently been written by mis- 
take for a?y. The meaning of the figure is this : Elam is to 
be attacked on all sides by enemies, and be scattered in every 
direction. This is evident from ver. 37, where the figurative 
is changed for the literal, and the thought further extended. 
"rinnn ? Hiphil from nnn } be broken to pieces, in Hiphil to 
dispirit through fear and terror ; cf. i. 17. On the form in 
the text, which is shortened from Tiinnn through the shifting of 
the tone to the last syllable, cf. Ewald, § 234, e. fTP, " evil, 
misfortune," is marked by the apposition, " the heat of mine 
anger," as the emanation of God's judgment of wrath. On 
37 b, cf. ix. 15. The Lord will sit in judgment on king and 
princes, and punish them with death. The throne is set for 
the Judge to sit in judgment ; see xliii. 10. Yet (ver. 39), in 
the Messianic future, blessing shall come on Elam ; cf. xlix. 6, 
xlviii. 7. 

If we compare this prophecy with the remaining prophecies 
of Jeremiah regarding the heathen nations, we shall find that 
it contains no reference whatever to any execution by Nebu- 
chadnezzar king of Babylon of the judgment with which the 
Elamites are threatened ; but it announces the fall of Elam 
and the dispersion of its inhabitants by enemies in a way so 
general, that, as Havernick (on Daniel, p. 549) has remarked, 
it is an arbitrary addition for any one to make, if he thinks 
definitely of the Chaldeans [as the enemies of Elam], because, 
correctly viewed, the contents rather declare against a conquest 
by Nebuchadnezzar. " Jeremiah," says Havernick, " an- 
nounces the utter extinction of the state as such, a general dis- 
persion and annihilation of the people, a tribunal of punishment 
which the. Lord Himself will hold over them, — features which 

CHAP. XLIX. 34-39. 201 

are far too strongly marked, and far too grand, to let us think 
that Elara is merely to be rendered tributary and incorporated 
into a new state. If we connect with this the deliverance of 
Elam mentioned at the close of ver. 39, viz. his conversion, then 
we will not hesitate to take the meaning of the oracle, in a more 
general way, as referring to the gradual fall of this heathen 
nation, for which, however, a future deliverance is in store, as 
is fully shown by the issue." This view is at least much more 
correct than the current one, still maintained by Ewald, Hitzig, 
Graf, etc., according to which the prophecy refers to a conquest 
of Elam by Nebuchadnezzar. M. von Niebuhr (Gesch. Assyr. 
und Bab. S. 210) attempts to show its probability from a notice 
in Strabo (xi. 524), and (on S. 212) from the intimation given 
in the book of Judith, chap, i., of a war between Nebuchad- 
nezzar and Media, which was successfully concluded in the 
twelfth year of his reign. But the statement in Strabo, that 
the Kossaites, a nation of robbers, once sent 13,000 archers to 
help the Elamites against the Susites and Babylonians, is far 
too indefinite for us to be able to apply it to a war which Nebu- 
chadnezzar in company with Media carried on against Elam ; 
for the Susites are at least not Medes. And the notice in the 
book of Judith is self-evidently unhistorical ; for it says that 
Nebuchadnezzar was king of the Assyrians and resided in the 
great city of Nineveh, and that he defeated Arphaxad the king 
of Media in the seventeenth year of his reign (Judith i. 1, 13). 
But Nebuchadnezzar neither resided in Nineveh, which had 
been destroyed shortly before ; nor could he have made war on 
Arphaxad king of Media in the seventeenth year of his reign, 
because he had in that year begun to besiege Jerusalem with 
all his forces. But the additional considerations which Niebuhr 
brings forward in support of his hypothesis can as little stand 
the test. Neither Jer. xxv. 25, where the kings of Media and 
Elam are mentioned among those who are to drink the cup 
of wrath, nor Ezek. xxxii. 24 f., where Elam and the whole 
multitude of its people are brought forward as among those 
who were slain, and who sank into the nether parts of the 
earth, furnish proofs of the conquest and destruction of Elam 
by Nebuchadnezzar, or of a war between that king and Media. 
For the funeral-song in Ezekiel bears a thoroughly ideal 


character, and announces the fall of all the heathen powers, 
without any regard to Nebuchadnezzar. This holds, too, in a 
sense, of Jer. xxv., where Nebuchadnezzar is certainly men- 
tioned as the ruler into whose power all the nations are to be 
delivered for the space of seventy years, inasmuch as this 
announcement also launches out into the idea of a judgment of" 
all nations ; so that we are not entitled to assume that all the 
kingdoms of the earth, to whom the cup of wrath is presented, 
were to be conquered and brought under subjection by Nebu- 
chadnezzar. Still less reason is there for inferring from Jer. 
xxvii. 3, that Nebuchadnezzar was involved in a war with 
Media at a time when, as is there stated, at the beginning 
of Zedekiah's reign, the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and 
Phoenicia sent ambassadors to Jerusalem to recommend a coali- 
tion against the power of Babylon. Even if Nebuchadnezzar 
were then occupied in the eastern portion of his kingdom, yet 
there is nothing at all to prove that he was involved in war 
with Media or Elam. History says nothing of a war waged 
by Nebuchadnezzar on Elam, nor does this prophecy furnish 
any support for such an assumption. Although it does not set 
before us a " gradual ruin " of Elam (Havernick), but rather 
a catastrophe brought on by God, yet the description is given 
in terms so general, that nothing more specific can be inferred 
from it recardinor the time and the circumstances of this 
catastrophe. In this prophecy, Elam is not considered in its 
historical relation to the people of Israel, but as the representa- 
tive of the heathen world lying beyond, which has not hitherto 
come into any relation towards the people of Israel, but which 
nevertheless, along with it, falls under the judgment coming on 
all nations, in order that, through the judgment, it may be led 
to the knowledge of the true God, and share in His salvation. 

Chaps. 1. and li. — Against Babylon. 

The genuineness of this prophecy has been impugned by 
the newer criticism in different ways ; for some quite refuse to 
allow it as Jeremiah's, while others consider it a mere inter- 
polation. 1 Hitzig (Exeg. Handb. 2 Aufl.) considers that this 

1 With regard to the special attacks and their refutation, see details in 
Keil's Manual of Introduction to the Old Testament [translated by Prof. 

CHAP. L., LI. 2G3 

oracle, with its epilogue, li. 59-64, is not to be wholly rejected 
as spurious, as has been done by Von Colin and Gramberg ; 
he is so much the less inclined to reject it, because, although 
there is many an interpolated piece here and there (?), yet no 
independent oracle has hitherto been found in Jeremiah that 
is wholly interpolated. " In fact," he continues, " this oracle 
shows numerous traces of its genuineness, and reasons for 
maintaining it. The use of particular words (1. 6, li. 1, 5, 7, 
14, 45, 55), and the circle of figures employed (li. 7, 8, 34, 37), 
as well as the style (1. 2, 3, 7, 8, 10), especially in turns like 
li. 2 ; the concluding formula, li. 57 ; the dialogue introduced 
without any forewarning, li. 51, — all unmistakeably reveal 
Jeremiah; and this result is confirmed by chronological data." 
These chronological data, which Hitzio; then extracts from 
particular verses, we cannot certainly esteem convincing, since 
they have been obtained through a method of exegesis which 
denies the spirit and the essential nature of prophecy ; but 
his remarks concerning Jeremiah's use of words and his circle 
of images are perfectly well-founded, and may be consider- 
ably corroborated if the matter were more minutely investi- 
gated. Notwithstanding all this, Ewald has again repeated, 
in the second edition of his work on the Prophets, the assertion 
first made by Eichhorn, that this prophecy is spurious. He 

Douglas, in Clark's F. T. L. vol. i. p. 342 ff.]. To the list there given of the 
defenders of this prophecy (of whom Kueper, Havernick, and Nagelsbach 
in the monograph entitled der Prophet Jeremias und Babylon, 1850, have 
thoroughly discussed the question), we must add the name of Graf, who, 
in the remarks prefixed to his commentary on chap. 1. f., has thoroughly 
examined the arguments of his opponents, and reached this result: "The 
prophecy contains nothing which Jeremiah could not have written in the 
fourth year of Zedekiah ; and the style of writing itself exhibits all the 
peculiarities which present themselves in his book. This prophecy is there- 
fore as much his work as the prophecies against the other foreign nations." 
Only the passage li. 15-19, a repetition of x. 12-16, is said to proceed 
from another hand, because it stands out of all connection with what pre- 
cedes and what follows it (but see the exposition) ; while he has so fully 
vindicated, as genuine portions of the prophecy, other passages which had 
been assumed as interpolations, even by Nagelsbach in his monograph, that 
the latter, in treating of Jeremiah in Lange's Bibelwerk [see Clark's Trans- 
lation, p. 419], has renounced his former doubts, and now declares that it 
is only the passage in li. 15-19 that he cannot regard as original. 


does not, indeed, deny that " this long piece against Babylon 
has many words, turns of expression, and thoughts, nay, 
even the whole plan, in common with Jeremiah; and since 
Jeremiah is often accustomed in other places also to repeat 
himself, this might, at the first look, even create a preposses- 
sion favouring the opinion that it was composed by Jeremiah 
himself. But Jeremiah repeats himself in a more wholesale 
style, and is not unfaithful to himself in his repetitions : here, 
however, the Jeremianic element peers through only in single 
though very numerous passages, and the repeated portions are 
often completely transformed. What, therefore, appears here as 
Jeremianic is rather a studied repetition and imitation, which 
would require here to be all the stronger, when the piece was 
intended to pass as one of Jeremiah's writings." Ewald goes 
on to say that Babylon appears already as directly threatened 
by Cyrus ; and the whole view taken of Babylon as a kingdom 
utterly degenerated, and unable any longer to escape the final 
destruction, — the prophetic impetuosity shown in rising up 
against the Chaldean oppression, — the public summons ad- 
dressed to all the brethren living in Babylon, that they should 
flee from the city, now irrecoverably lost, and return to the 
holy land, — the distinct mention of the Medes and other 
northern nations as the mortal enemies of Babylon, and of the 
speedy and certain fall of this city ; — all this, says Ewald, is 
foreign to Jeremiah, nay, even conflicting and impossible. 
For particular proof of this sweeping verdict, Ewald refers to 
•the name 1&0 (li. 41, as in xxv. 26) for Babylon, >»£ £ for 
D V! ]K>3, li. 1 ? and similar circumlocutions for Chaldean names, 
li. 21. He refers also to certain words which are quite new, 
and peculiar only to Ezekiel and later writers: J3D, nna, li. 23, 
25, 27 ; WJj 1. 2 ; tP*\2 as a designation of false prophets, 
1. 36; also to B'nriri, to devote with a curse, 1. 21, 26, li. 3, 
which in the rest of Jeremiah occurs only xxv. 9. Further, 
he refers to the headings found in 1. 1 and li. 59, which are 
quite different from what Jeremiah himself would have written; 
and lastly, to the intimate connection subsisting between 1. 27, 
li. 40, and Isa. xxxiv. 6 ff., between 1. 39 and Isa. xxxiv. 14, 
and between li. 60 ff. and Jer. xxxiv. 16. But all these con- 
siderations are much too weak to prove the spuriousness of the 

CHAP. L., LI. 265 

passage before us. The connection with Isa. xxxiv. quite 
agrees with Jeremiah's characteristic tendency to lean on older 
prophecies, and reproduce the thoughts contained in them (we 
merely recall the case of the prophecy concerning Moab in 
chap, xlviii., against whose genuineness even Evvald has nothing 
to say) ; and it can be brought to tell against the genuine- 
ness of this oracle only on the groundless supposition that Isa. 
xxxiv. originated in exile times. The headings given in 1. 1 
and li. 59 contain nothing whatever that would be strange in 
Jeremiah : li. 59 is not a title at all, but the commencement 
of the account regarding the charge which Jeremiah gave to 
Seraiah when he was going to Babylon, with reference to his 
carrying with him the prophecy concerning Babylon ; and the 
heading in 1. 1 almost exactly agrees with that in xlvi. 13 (see 
the exposition). Of the alleged later words, Q^nn and 0^*8 
are derived from the Pentateuch, D V! J3 from Isa. xliv. 25. 
IJD and nnsi certainly were not known to the Hebrews till the 
invasions of Judah by the Assyrians and Chaldeans ; but the 
latter of the two words we find as early as in the address of the 
Assyrians in Isa. xxxvi. 9, and the former in Isa. xli. 25 : thus, 
not a single one of the words alleged to have been first used by 
Ezekiel is peculiar to him. Finally, of the circumlocutions 
used for the names " Babylon " and " Chaldeans," Ewald him- 
self confesses that y&W in xxv. 26 may be Jeremiah's; and he 
has yet to give proof for the assertion that the names cited are 
merely circumlocutions in which a play is made on words that 
did not come into vogue till after Jeremiah's time. And as 
little has been even attempted in the way of establishing the. 
opinion he has expressed regarding what is Jeremianic in the 
prophecy, — that it is a studied repetition and imitation, — or the 
assertion that Babylon is represented as being directly threat- 
ened by Cyrus. In the Old Testament Scriptures, Cyrus is 
represented as the king of Persia, which he was; but this 
prophecy says nothing of the Persians. Thus, the learned 
supplementary matter with which Ewald seeks to support his 
general assertions is by no means fitted to strengthen his 
position, but rather shows that the proper argument for reject- 
ing this oracle as spurious is not to be found in the nature of 
this particular prophecy, but in the- axiom openly expressed by 


Eichliorn, von Colin, Gramberg, and other followers of the 
" vulvar rationalism," that Jeremiah could not have announced 
the destruction of Babylon by the Medes, because at his time 
the Medes had not yet appeared on the scene of history as a 
conquering nation; for, according to the principles of ration- 
alism, the prophets could merely prophesy of things which lay 
within the political horizon. It has not escaped the acute 
observation of Hitzig, that the genuineness of this prophecy 
could not be shaken by such general assertions ; hence he has 
adopted Movers' hypothesis of numerous interpolations, in order 
thereby to account for the use made of portions of Isaiah, 
which, on dogmatic grounds, are referred to the exile. But for 
this assumption also there are wanting proofs that can stand the 
test. Besides the general assertion that Jeremiah could not 
have repeated earlier pieces word for word, the arguments 
which Movers and Hitzig bring forward from the context, or 
from a consideration of the contents, in the case of isolated 
verses, depend upon false renderings of words, conjectures of a 
merely subjective character, and misunderstandings of various 
kinds, which at once fall to the ground when the correct 
explanation is given. 

The germ of this prophecy lies in the word of the Lord, 
chap. xxv. 12, "When seventy years are completed, I will 
punish the king of Babylon and that nation for their iniquity, 
and the land of the Chaldeans, and make it everlasting deso- 
lations ; " and its position with regard to the other prophecies 
of Jeremiah against the nations has already been given in out- 
line in the statement of xxv. 26, "And the king of Sheshach 
(Babylon) shall drink after them." Just as these utterances 
(xxv. 12, 26) stand in full accord with the announcement that, 
in the immediate future, all nations shall be given into the 
power of the king of Babylon, and serve him seventy years ; 
so, too, the prophecy against Babylon now lying before us not 
only does not stand in contradiction with the call addressed 
to Jeremiah, that he should proclaim to his contemporaries 
the judgment which Babylon is to execute on Judah and all 
nations, but it rather belongs to the complete solution of the 
problems connected with this call. The announcement of the 
fall of Babylon, and the release of Israel from Babylon, form 

CHAP. L., LI. 267 

the subject of the prophecy, which is more than a hundred 
verses in length. This double subject, the two parts of which 
are so closely connected, is portrayed in a series of images 
which, nearly throughout, are arranged pretty loosely to- 
gether, so that it is impossible to summarize the rich and 
varied contents of these figures, and to sketch a correct plan 
of the course of thought and of the divisions of the oracle. 
Hence, too, the views of expositors with regard to the division 
of the whole into parts or strophes widely differ; 1 we follow 
the view of Ewald, that the whole falls into three main parts 
(1. 2-28, 1. 29 on to li. 26, and li. 27-58), every one of which 
begins with a spirited exhortation to engage in battle. These 
three main portions again fall into ten periods, of which the 
first three (1. 2-10, 11-20, and 21-28) form the first main 
division ; the four middle ones form the second main portion 
(1. 29-40, ver. 41 to li. 4, vers. 5-14, and vers. 15-26) ; while 
the following three form the last (vers. 27-37, 38-49, and 
50-58). We further agree with what Ewald says regarding 
the contents of the first two parts in general, viz. that in the 
first the prevailing view is the necessity for the deliverance of 
Israel, and that in the second, the antithesis between Babylon 
on the one hand, and Jahveh together with Israel, His spiritual 
instrument, on the other, is fully brought out ; but we do not 
agree with his remark concerning the third part, that there 
the prevailing feature is the detailed description of the con- 
dition of Israel at that time, for this does not at all agree with 
the contents of li. 27-58. Bather, the address rises into a 
triumphant description of the fall of Babylon, in which the 
Lord will show Himself as the avenger of His people. On the 
whole, then, the prophecy is neither wanting in arrangement 

1 Thus, according to Eichhorn, Dahler, and Rosenmiiller, the whole con- 
sists of several pieces (three or six) which originally belonged to different 
periods; according to Schmieder, it consists of "seven different poems or 
songs, all having the same subject, which, however, they set forth from 
different sides, and under countless images." Nagelsbach at first assumed 
that there were three main divisions, with thirteen subdivisions ; afterwards, 
in Lange's Bibclwerk [see Clark's Foreign Theol. Library], he thinks he 
is able also to distinguish three stages of time, which, however, do not 
permit of being sharply defined, so that he continues to divide the whole 
prophecy into nineteen separate views or figures. 


nor in that necessary progress in the devetapment of thought 
which proves unity of conception and execution. 

Chap. 1. 1. The title, " The word which Jahveh spake con- 
cerning Babylon, concerning the land of the Chaldeans, by Jere- 
miah the prophet," follows xlvi. 13 in choosing nirT 1 1|n *1£>X 
instead of the usual i^n ne'x, and deviates from that passage 
only in substituting " by the hand of Jeremiah" for " to Jere- 
miah," as in xxxvii. 2. The preference of the expression 
" spake by the hand of" for " spake to," is connected with the 
fact that the following prophecy does not contain a message of 
the Lord which came to Jeremiah, that he might utter it before 
the people, but a message which he was to write down and send 
to Babylon, li. 60 ff. The apposition to " Babylon," viz. " the 
land of the Chaldeans," serves the purpose of more exactly 
declaring that " Babylon " is to be understood not merely of 
the capital, but also of the kingdom ; cf. vers. 8, 45, and 
51, 54. 

Vers. 2-10. The fall of Babylon, and deliverance of Israel. — 
Ver. 2. " Tell it among the nations, and cause it to be heard, 
and lift up a standard ; cause it to be heard, conceal it not : say, 
Babylon is taken, Bel is ashamed, Merodach is confounded ; 
her images are ashamed, her idols are confounded. Ver. 3. 
For there hath come up against her a nation out of the north ; 
it will make her land a desolation, and there shall be not an 
inhabitant in it : from man to beast, [all] have fled, are gone. 
Ver. 4. In those days, and at that time, saith Jahveh, the 
children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah 
together ; they shall go, weeping as they go, and shall seek 
Jahveh their God. Ver. 5. They shall ask for Zion, with their 
faces [turned to] the road hitherwards, [saying], Come, and 
let us join ourselves to Jahveh by an eternal covenant [which] 
shall not be forgotten. Ver. 6. My people have been a flock 
of lost ones ; their shepherds have misled them [on] mountains 
which lead astray : from mountain to hill they went ; they 
forgot their resting-place. Ver. 7. All who found them have 
devoured them ; and their enemies said, "We are not guilty, for 
they have sinned against Jahveh, the dwelling-place of justice, 
and the hope of their fathers, Jahveh. Ver. 8. Flee out of the 
midst of Babylon, and from the land of the Chaldeans ; let 

CHAP. L. 2-10. 269 

them go forth, and let them be like he-goats before a flock. 
Ver. 9. For, behold, I will stir up, and bring up against Baby- 
lon, an assembly of great nations out of the land of the north : 
and they shall array themselves against her ; on that side shall 
she be taken : his arrows [are] like [those of] a skilful hero 
[who] does not return empty. Ver. 10. And [the land of the] 
Chaldeans shall become a spoil ; all those who spoil her shall 
be satisfied, saith Jahveh." 

In the spirit Jeremiah sees the fall of Babylon, together with 
its idols, as if it had actually taken place, and gives the com- 
mand to proclaim among the nations this event, which brings 
deliverance for Israel and Judah. The joy over this is ex- 
pressed in the accumulation of the w r ords for the summons to 
tell the nations what has happened. On the expression, cf. iv. 
5, 6, xlvi. 14. The lifting up of a standard, i.e. of a signal- 
rod, served for the more rapid spreading of news ; cf. iv. 6, 
vi. 1, Isa. xiii. 2, etc. " Cause it to be heard" is intensified 
by the addition of " do not conceal it." The thing is to be 
proclaimed without reserve ; cf. xxxviii. 14. " Babylon is 
taken," i.e. conquered, and her idols have become ashamed, 
inasmuch as, from their inability to save their city, their power- 
lessness and nullity have come to light. Bel and Merodach are 
not different divinities, but merely different names for the chief 
deity of the Babylonians. Bel = Baal, the Jupiter of the Baby- 
lonians, was, as Bel-Merodach, the tutelary god of Babylon. 
u The whole of the Babylonian dynasty," says Oppert, Expdd. 
en Mesopot. ii. p. 272, " places him [Merodach] at the head of 
the gods ; and the inscription of Borsippa calls him the king of 
heaven and earth." C^xy, " images of idols," and Dv^a, pro- 
perly " logs," an expression of contempt for idols (see on Lev. 
xxvi. 30), are synonymous ideas for designating the nature and 
character of the Babylonian gods. — Ver. 3. Babylon is fallen 
by a people from the north, that has gone out against her, and 
makes her land a desolation. This nation is described in ver. 9 
as a collection, union of great nations, that are enumerated 
especially in li. 27, 28. On " it [the nation] shall make her 
land," etc., cf. ii. 15, xlviii. 9 ; on the expression "from man to 
beast," cf. xxxiii. 12, ix. 9. Via is from *iia, ver. 8 and xlix. 
30 = Wg, from TU, ix. 9.— Ver.^f. Then, when Babylon shall 


have fallen, the children of Israel and Judah return out of their 
captivity, seeking Jahveh their God with tears of repentance, 
and marching to Zion, for the purpose of joining themselves to 
Him in an eternal covenant. The fall of Babylon has the 
deliverance of Israel as its direct result. The prophet views 
this in such a way, that all the steps in the fulfilment (the 
return from Babylon, the reunion of the tribes previously sepa- 
rated, their sincere return to the Lord, and the making of a 
new covenant that shall endure for ever), which will actually 
follow successively in long periods, are taken together into one 
view. By the statement made regarding the time, " In those 
days, and at that time," the fall of Babylon and the deliver- 
ance of Israel (which Jeremiah sees in the spirit as already 
begun) are marked out as belonging to the future. Israel and 
Judah come together, divided no more ; cf. iii. 18. " Going 
and weeping they go," i.e. they always go further on, weeping : 
cf. xli. 6 ; 2 Sam. iii. 16 ; Ewald, § 280, b. Cf. also iii. 21, xxxi. 
9. Seeking the Lord their God, they ask for Zion, i.e. they 
ask after the way thither ; for in Zion Jahveh has His throne. 
"The way hither" (i.e. to Jerusalem) "is their face," sc. directed. 
" Hither" points to the place of the speaker, Jerusalem. Vral 1N3 
are imperatives, and words with which those who are returning 
encourage one another to a close following of the Lord their 
God. VPi is imperative for Wlj n ^e ^?2i?3 in Isa. xliii. 9, Joel 
iv. 11 ; cf. Ewald, § 226, c. It cannot be the imperfect, because 
the third person gives no sense ; hence Graf would change the 
vowels, and read np3. But suspicion is raised against this by 
the very fact that, excepting Eccles. viii. 15, !"% in the sense 
of joining oneself to, depending on, occurs only in the Niphal. 
cb)V rvnn is a modal accusative : " in an eternal covenant [which] 
shall not be forgotten," i.e. which we will not forget, will not 
break again. In fact, this is the new covenant which the 
Lord, according to xxxi. 31 ff., will make in time to come with 
His people. But here this side of the matter is withdrawn 
from consideration ; for the point treated of is merely what 
Israel, in his repentant frame and returning to God, vows he 
shall do. 

Israel comes to this determination in consequence of the 
misery into which he has fallen because of his sins, vers. 5-7. 

CHAP. L. 2-10. 271 

Israel was like a flock of lost sheep which their shepherds had 
led astray. rii"DX |N^ a flock of sheep that are going to ruin. 
The participle in the plural is joined with the collective noun 
ad sensum, to show what is imminent or is beginning to happen. 
The verb njn points to the subject )i& ; hence the Qeri W is 
unnecessary. The plural suffixes of the following clause refer 
to ^V as a collective. The shepherds led the people of God 
astray on B'3?^ ann ( a local accusative; on the Kethib tW?^, 
cf. xxxi. 32, xlix. 4 ; it is not to be read Dainty), mountains 
that render people faithless. These mountains were so desig- 
nated because they were the seats of that idolatry which had 
great power of attraction for a sinful people, so that the seduc- 
tion or alienation of the people from their God is ascribed to 
them. 23^ is used in the sense which the verb has in Isa. 
xlvii. 10. The Qeri Di23ity" gives the less appropriate idea, " the 
shepherds made the sheep stray." Hitzig's translation, " they 
drove them along the mountain," does not suit the verb 35iB\ 
Moreover, the mountains in themselves do not form unsuitable 
pasture-ground for sheep, and D^n does not mean " a bare, 
desolate mountain-range." The objection to our view of Q^n 
Cinit^ that there is no very evident proof that worship on high 
places is referred to (Graf), is pure fancy, and the reverse only 
is true. For the words which follow, " they (the sheep) went 
from mountain to hill, and forgot their resting-place," have no 
meaning whatever, unless they are understood of the idolatrous 
dealings of Israel. The resting-place of the sheep (B£?"l, the 
place where the flocks lie down to rest), according to ver. 7, is 
Jahveh, the hope of their fathers. Their having forgotten this 
resting-place is the result of their going from mountain to hill : 
these words undeniably point to the idolatry of the people on 
every high hill (ii. 20, iii. 2, xvii. 2, etc.).— Ver. 7. The conse- 
quence of this going astray on the part of Israel was, that 
every one who found them devoured them, and while doino- 
so, cherished the thought that they were not incurring guilt, 
because Israel had been given up to their enemies on account 
of their apostasy from God; while the fact was, that every 
offence against Israel, as the holy people of the Lord, brought 
on guilt ; cf. ii. 3. This befell Israel because they have sinned 
against Jahveh. prs TO, « the habitation (or pasture-ground) 


of righteousness." So, in xxxi. 23, Zion is called the mountain 
on which Jahveh sits enthroned in His sanctuary. As in other 
places Jahveh Himself is called a fortress, Ps. xviii. 3 ; a sun, 
shield, Ps. Ixxxiv. 12 ; a shade, Ps. cxxi. 5 ; so here He is called 
the One in whom is contained that righteousness which is the 
source of Israel's salvation. As such, He was the hope of the 
fathers, the God upon whom the fathers put their trust ; cf. 
xiv. 8, xvii. 13, Ps. xxii. 5 f. The repetition of nirT 1 at the end 
is intended to give an emphatic conclusion to the sentence. — 
Vers. 8-10. To escape from this misery, Israel is to flee from 
Babylon ; for the judgment of conquest and plunder by enemies 
is breaking over Babylon. The summons to flee out of Babylon 
is a reminiscence of Isa. xlviii. 20. The KetJdb ^^" , . may be 
vindicated, because the direct address pretty often makes a 
sudden transition into the language of the third person. They 
are to depart from the land of the Chaldeans. No more will 
then be necessary than to change Vni into vrn. The simile, 
" like he-goats before the flock," does not mean that Israel is 
to press forward that he may save himself before any one else 
(Graf), but that Israel is to go before all, as an example and 
leader in the flight (Nagelsbach). — Ver. 9. For the Lord 
arouses and leads against Babylon a crowd of nations, i.e. an 
army consisting of a multitude of nations. As "VJJB reminds 
us of Isa. xiii. 17, so D H V"13 DJfo hn$ remind us of D$ TlfcboD 
D^DXa in Isa. xiii. 4. ? ?HV, to make preparations against. 
C^p is not used of time (Rosenmuller, Nagelsbach, etc.), for 
this application of the word has not been established from the 
actual occurrence of instances, but it has a local meaning, and 
refers to the " crowd of nations :" from that place where the 
nations that come out of the north have assembled before Baby- 
lon. In the last clause, the multitude of great nations is taken 
together, as if they formed one enemy : " his arrows are like 
[the arrows] of a wisely dealing (i.e. skilful) warrior." 1 The 

1 Instead of 7>2B>D, J. H. Michaelis, in his Biblia Halens., has accepted 
the reading T'Sti'D on the authority of three Erfurt codices and three old 
editions (a Veneta of 1618; Buxtorf's Rabbinic Bible, printed at Basle, 
1620 ; and the London Polyglott). J. D. Michaelis, Rosenmuller, Maurer, 
and Urabreit have decided for this reading, and point to the rendering 
of the Vulgate, interfectoris, and of the Targum, i^3riO, orbans. On the 

CHAP L. 11-20. 273 

words Dj^l! 3^ N? do not permit of being referred, on the 
strength of 2 Sam. i. 22, to one particular arrow which does not 
come back empty ; for the verb 2VJ, though perhaps suitable 
enough for the sword, which is drawn back when it has executed 
the blow, is inappropriate for the arrow, which does not return. 
The subject to 3*B* is "ii33, the hero, who does not turn or return 
without having accomplished his object; cf. Isa. lv. 11. In ver. 
10, CT^a is the name of the country, "Chaldeans;" hence it 
is construed as a feminine. The plunderers of Chaldea will be 
able to satisfy themselves with the rich booty of that country. 

Vers. 11-20. The devastation of Babylon and glory of Israel. 
— Ver. 11. "Though ye rejoice, though ye exult, O ye plun- 
derers of mine inheritance, though ye leap proudly like a heifer 
threshing, and neigh like strong horses, Ver. 12. Your mother 
will be very much ashamed ; she who bare you will blush : 
behold, the last of the nations [will be] a wilderness, a desert, 
and a steppe. Ver. 13. Because of the indignation of Jahveh 
it shall not be inhabited, and it shall become a complete deso- 
lation. Every one passing by Babylon will be astonished, and 
hiss because of all her plagues. Ver. 14. Make preparations 
against Babylon round about, all ye that bend the bow ; shoot at 
her, do not spare an arrow, for she hath sinned against Jahveh. 
Ver. 15. Shout against her round about ; she hath given herself 
up : her battlements are fallen, her walls are pulled down ; for 
it is Jahveji's vengeance: revenge yourselves on her; as she 
hath done, do ye to her. Ver. 16. Cut off the sower from 
Babylon, and him that handles the sickle in the time of 
harvest. From before the oppressing sword each one will 
turn to his own nation, and each one will flee to his own 
land. Ver. 17. Israel is a scattered sheep [which] lions 
have driven away : the first [who] devoured him [was] the 

other hand, the LXX. and Syiiac have read and rendered ^2b'D ; and 
this reading is not merely presented by nonnulli libri, as Maurer states, 
but by twelve codices of de Rossi, and all the more ancient editions of the 
Bible, of which de Rossi in his varix lecliones mentions forty-one. The 
critical witnesses are thus overwhelming for ^atyo ; and against ^3C'D 
there lies the further consideration, that ^yy has the meaning orbare, to 

~ T 

render childless, only in the Piel, but in the Hiphil means ctbortare, to 
cause or have miscarriages, as is shown by ^3^0 Dm, Hos. ix. 14. 



king of Babylon ; and this, the last, Nebuchadnezzar king of 
Babylon, hath broken his bones. Ver. 18. Therefore thus 
saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel : Behold, I will punish 
the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king 
of Assyria. Ver. 19. And I will bring back Israel to his 
pasture-ground, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and 
on the mountains of Ephraim his soul shall be satisfied. Ver. 
20. In those days, and at that time, saith Jahveh, the iniquity 
of Israel shall be sought for, but it shall not be ; and the sins 
of Judah, but they shall not be found : for I will pardon those 
whom I will leave remaining." 

Ver. 11 does not permit of being so closely connected with 
what precedes as to separate it from ver. 12 (De Wette, Nagels- 
bach). Not only is the translation, " for thou didst rejoice," 
etc., difficult to connect with the imperfects of all the verbs in 
the verse, but the direct address also does not suit ver. 10, and 
rather demands connection with ver. 12, where it is continued. 
■•3, of course, introduces the reason, yet not in such a way that 
ver. 11 states the cause why Chaldea shall become a spoil, but 
rather so that vers. 11 and 12 together give the reason for the 
threatening uttered. The different clauses of ver. 11 are the 
protases, to which ver. 12 brings the apodosis. " You may go on 
making merry over the defeat of Israel, but shame will follow 
for this." The change of the singular forms of the verbs into 
plurals (Qeri) has been caused by the plural 'J , DK>, but is un- 
necessary, because Babylon is regarded as a collective, and its 
people are gathered into the unity of a person ; see on xiii. 20. 
" Spoilers of mine inheritance," i.e. of the people and land of 
the Lord ; cf. xii. 7, Isa. xvii. 14. On e«ia, to gallop (of a 
horse, Hab. i. 8), hop, spring (of a calf, Mai. iii. 20), see 
on Hab. i. 8. KtJH is rendered by the LXX. ev fioTcivr), by 
the Vulgate super herbam ; after these, Ewald also takes the 
meaning of springing like a calf through the grass, since he 
explains NBn as exhibiting the correct punctuation, and re- 
marks that B«i3, like ^?n, can stand with an object directly after 
it ; see § 282, a. Most modern expositors, on the other hand, 
take NtJH as the fem. participle from B«tt, written with N instead 
of n : " like a threshing heifer." On this, A. Schultens, in his 
Animadv. philol, on this passage, remarks : Comparatio petita 

CHAP. L. 11-20. 275 

est a vitula, qucc in area media inter frumenta, ore ex lege non 
ligato (Deut. xxv. 10), pra? pabuli abundantia gestit ex exsultat. 
This explanation also gives a suitable meaning, without com- 
pelling us to do violence to the language and to alter the 
text. As to B^*???, stallions, strong horses (Luther), see on 
viii. 16 and xlvii. 3. " Your mother" is the whole body of the 
people, the nation considered as a unity (cf. Isa. 1. 1, Hos. ii. 4, 
iv. 5), the individual members of which are called her sons ; 
cf. v. 7, etc. In ver. 12 b, the disgrace that is to fall on Baby- 
lon is more distinctly specified. The thought is gathered up 
into a sententious saying, in imitation of the sayings of Balaam. 
"The last of the nations" is the antithesis of "the first of the 
nations," as Balaam calls Amalek, Num. xxiv. 20, because they 
were the first heathen nation that berjan to fis;ht against the 
people of Israel. In like manner, Jeremiah calls Babylon the 
last of the heathen nations. As the end of Amalek is ruin 
(Num. xxiv. 20), so the end of the last heathen nation that 
comes forward against Israel will be a wilderness, desert, steppe. 
The predicates (cf. ii. 6) refer to the country and kingdom of 
Babylon. But if the end of the kingdom is a desert, then the 
people must have perished. The devastation of Babylon is 
further portrayed in ver. 13, together with a statement of the 
cause : " Because of the anger of Jahveh it shall not be in- 
habited:" cf. Isa. xiii. 20. The words from nrvm onwards are 

3 t : t : 

imitated from xlix. 17 and xix. 8. — Ver. 14. In order to exe- 
cute this judgment on Babylon, the nations are commanded to 
conquer and destroy the city. The archers are to place them- 
selves round about Babylon, and shoot at the city unsparingly. 
T?V does not mean to prepare oneself, but to prepare nvn?n y the 
battle, combat. The archers are mentioned by synecdoche, 
because the point in question is the siege and bombardment of 
Babylon ; cf. Isa. xiii. 18, where the Medes are mentioned as 
archers. nv is used only here, in Kal, of the throwing, i.e. 
the shooting of arrows, instead of TVV, which is elsewhere the 
usual word for this ; and, indeed, some codices have the latter 
word in this passage. " Spare not the arrow," i.e. do not spare 
an arrow; cf. Ii. 3. JHHj to cry aloud; here, to raise a battle- 
cry ; cf. 16. The effect and result of the cry is, "she 
hath given her hand," i.e. given herself up. T ;rn usually 


signifies the giving of the hand as a pledge of faithfulness (2 
Kings x. 15; Ezek. xvii. 18; Ezra x. 19), from which is derived 
the meaning of giving up, delivering up oneself ; cf. 2 Chron. 
xxx. 8. Cf. Cornelius Nepos, Hamilc. c. 1, donee victi manum 
dedissent. The " air. \e<y. nwiBW (the Kethib is either to be 
read nW'S, as if from a noun FW'K, or to be viewed as an 
error in transcription for •VH^"*?, which is the Qeri) signifies 

" supports," and comes from riB'S, \ Mi \ ) to support, help ; then 

the supports of a building, its foundations ; cf. NJJ^S, Ezra 
iv. 12. Here the word signifies the supports of the city, i.e. 
the fortifications of Babylon, eira\%ei$, propugnacida, pinna, 
the battlements of the city wall, not the foundations of the 
walls, for which ?3J is unsuitable. " It (sc. the destruction of 
Babylon) is the vengeance of Jahveh." " The vengeance of 
Jahveh" is an expression derived from Num. xxxi. 3. "Avenge 
yourselves on her," i.e. take retribution for what Babylon has 
done to other nations, especially to the people of God ; cf. 28 f. 
and li. 11. The words, " cut off out of Babylon the sower and 
the reaper," are not to be restricted to the fields, which, accord- 
ing to the testimonies of Diod. Sic. ii. 7, Pliny xviii. 17, an.d 
Curtius v. 1, lay within the wall round Babylon, but " Baby- 
lon " is the province together with its capital ; and the objection 
of Nagelsbach, that the prophet, in the whole context, is de- 
scribing the siege of the city of Babylon, is invalid, because 
ver. 126 plainly shows that not merely the city, but the pro- 
vince of Babylon, is to become a wilderness, desert, and steppe. 
The further threat, itlso, " every ones flees to his own people 
from before the oppressing sword" (cf. xxv. 38, xlvi. 16), 
applies not merely to the strangers residing in Babylon, but 
generally to those in Babylonia. Hitzig would arbitrarily refer 
these words merely to the husbandmen and field-workers. The 
fundamental passage, Isa. xiii. 14, which Jeremiah had before 
his mind and repeats verbatim, tells decidedly against this view ; 
cf. also Jer. li. 9, 44. — Vers. 17-19. This judgment comes on 
Babylon because of her oppression and scattering of the people 
of Israel, whom the Lord will now feed in peace again on their 
native soil. Israel is like i"TWS nb> ? a sheep which, having been 
scared away out of its stall or fold, is hunted into the wide 

CHAP. L. 11-20. 277 

world ; cf. DM33 n-}9, Joel iv. 2. Although Iffi, " to scatter," 
implies the conception of a flock, yet we cannot take nb> as a 
collective (Graf), since it is nomen unitatis. The point in the 
comparison lies on the fact that Israel has been hunted, like a 
solitary sheep, up and down among the beasts of the earth ; 
and ITS is more exactly specified by the following clause, " lions 
have chased after it." The object of irvin is easily derived 
from the context, so that we do not need to follow Hitzig in 
changing $WT\n WW into Ji^'N - ) Kitm. These kings are, the 
king of Assyria first, and the king of Babylon last. The former 
has dispersed the ten tribes among the heathen ; the latter, 
by destroying the kingdom of Judah, and carrying away its 
inhabitants, has shattered the theocracy. The verbs apply to 
the figure of the lion, and the suffixes refer to Israel. ?-N is 

O / - T 

used of the devouring of the flesh ; Ei*y is a denominative from 
D>*y, and means the same as DT3, Num. xxiv. 8, to break bones 
in pieces, not merely gnaw them. So long as the flesh only is 
eaten, the skeleton of bones remains ; if these also be broken, 
the animal is quite destro} r ed. — Ver. 18. The Assyrian has 
already received his punishment for that — the Assyrian kingdom 
has been destroyed ; Babylon will meet with the same punish- 
ment, and then (ver. 19) Israel will be led back to his pasture- 
ground. n)3, pasture-ground, grass-plot, where sheep feed, is 
the land of Israel. Israel, led back thither, will feed on Carmel 
and Bashan, the most fertile tracts of the country, and the 
mountains of Ephraim and Gilead, which also furnish fodder 
in abundance for sheep. As to Gilead, see Num. xxxii. 1, 
Mic. vii. 14 ; and in regard to the mountains of Ephraim, Ex. 
xxxiv. 13 f., where the feeding on the mountains of Israel and 
in the valleys is depicted as fat pasture. The mountains of 
Israel here signify the northern portion of the land generally, 
including the large and fertile plain of Jezreel, and the different 
valleys between the several ranges of mountains, which here 
and there show traces of luxuriant vegetation even yet; cf. 
Robinson's Physical Geography, p. 120. Then also the guilt of 
the sins of Israel and Judah shall be blotted out, because the 
Lord grants pardon to the remnant of His people. This pro- 
mise points to the time of the New Covenant ; cf. xxxi. 34 and 
xxxiii. 8. The deliverance of Israel from Babylon coincides 


with the view given of the regeneration of the people by the 
Messiah, just as we find throughout the second portion of 
Isaiah. On the construction 'fe* t*li?~MK' E^Qi, cf. xxxv. 14, and 
Gesenius, § 143, 1. On the form nrsran, with » after the 
manner of verbs T\ u b, cf. Ewald, § 198, b. 

Vers. 21-28. The pride and power of Babylon are broken, as 
a punishment for the sacrilege he committed at the temple of 
the Lord. Ver. 21. "Against the land, — Double-rebellion, — 
go up against it, and against the inhabitants of visitation ; lay 
waste and devote to destruction after them, saith Jahveh, and 
do according to all that I have commanded thee. Ver. 22. A 
sound of war [is] in the land, and great destruction. Ver. 23. 
How the hammer of the whole earth is cut and broken ! how 
Babylon has become a desolation among the nations ! Ver. 24. 
I laid snares for thee, yea,, and thou hast been taken, O 
Babylon ; but thou didst not know : thou wast found, and also 
seized, because thou didst strive against Jahveh. Ver. 25. 
Jahveh hath opened His treasure-house, and brought out the 
instruments of His wrath; for the Lord, Jahveh of hosts, hath 
a work in the land of the Chaldeans. Ver. 26. Come against 
her, [all of you], from the last [to the first] ; open her store- 
houses : cast her up in heaps, like ruins, and devote her to 
destruction ; let there be no remnant left to her. Ver. 27. 
Destroy all her oxen ; let them go down to the slaughter : woe 
to them ! for their day is come, the time of their visitation. 
Ver. 28. [There is] a sound of those who flee and escape out 
of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of 
Jahveh our God, the vengeance of His temple." 

The punishment of Babylon will be fearful, corresponding 
to its crimes. The crimes of Babylon and its punishment 
Jeremiah has comprised, in ver. 21, in two names specially 
formed for the occasion. The enemy to whom God has en- 
trusted the execution of the punishment is to march against 
the land DWD, This word, which is formed by the prophet 
in a manner analogous to Mizraim, and perhaps also Aram 
Naharaim, means " double rebellion," or " double obstinacy." 
It comes from the root fHB, u to be rebellious " against Jahveh 
and His commandments, whence also "hb, " rebellion ; " Num. 
jcvii. 25, Ezek. ii. 5, 7, etc. Other interpretations of the 

CHAP. L. 21-28. 279 

word are untenable : such is that of Fiirst, who follows the 
Vulgate " terrain dominantium" and, comparing the Aramaic 
Nno, « Lord," renders it by " dominion " (Herscliaft). Utterly 
indefensible, too, is the translation of Hitzig, "the world of 
men " (Menschenicelt), which he derives from the Sanskrit 
martjam, "world," on the basis of the false assumption that 
the language of the Chaldeans was Indo-Germanic. The 
only doubtful points are in what respect Babylon showed 
double obstinacy, and what Jeremiah had in his mind at the 
time. The view of Hitzig, Maurer, Graf, etc., is certainly 
incorrect, — that the prophet was thinking of the double punish- 
ment of Israel by the Assyrians and by the Babylonians (vers. 
17 and 33) ; for the name is evidently given to the country 
which is now about to be punished, and hence to the power of 
Babylon. Nagelsbach takes a twofold view : (1) he thinks of 
the defiance shown by Babylon towards both man and God ; 
(2) he thinks of the double obstinacy it exhibited in early 
times by building the tower, and founding the first worldly 
kingdom (Gen. x. 8f.), and in later times by its conduct 
towards the theocracy : and he is inclined rather to the latter 
than to the former view, because the offences committed by 
Babylon in early and in later times were, in their points of 
origin and aim, too much one and the same for any one to be 
able to represent them as falling under two divisions. This is 
certainly correct ; but against the first view there is also the 
important consideration that nn» is pretty constantly used only 
of opposition to God and the word of God. If any one, not- 
withstanding this, is inclined to refer the name also to offences 
against men, he could yet hardly agree with Nagelsbach in 
thinking of the insurrections of Babylon against the kings of 
Assyria, their masters ; for these revolts had no meaning in 
reference to the position of Babylon towards God, but rather 
showed the haughty spirit in which Babylon trod on all the 
nations. The opinion of Dahler has most in its favour : 
" Doubly rebellious, i.e. more rebellious than others, through its 
idolatry and its pride, which has exalted it against God, vers. 
24, 29." Rosenmiiller, De Wette, etc., have decided in favour 
of this view. Although the dual originally expresses the idea 
of pairing, yet the Hebrew associates with doable, twofold, the 


idea of increase, gradation ; cf. Isa. xl. 2, lxi. 7. The object 
is prefixed for the sake of emphasis ; and in order to render 
it still more prominent, it is resumed after the verb in the 
expression " against it." "lips, an infinitive in form, " to visit 
with punishment, avenge, punish," is also used as a significant 
name of Babylon : the land that visits with punishment is to 
be punished. Many expositors take 2hn as a denominative 
from 3~in, " sword," in the sense of strangling, murdering ; so 
also in ver. 27. But this assumption is far from correct ; nor is 
there any need for making it, because the meaning of destroying 
is easily obtained from that of being laid waste, or destroying 
oneself by transferring the word from things to men. B^!];"!? 
" to proscribe, put under the ban," and in effect " to exter- 
minate ; " see on xxv. 9. On " after them," cf. xlix. 37, xlviii. 
2, 9, 15, etc. — Ver. 22. After the command there immediately 
follows its execution. A sound of war is heard in the land. 
The words are given as an exclamation, without a verb. As to 
Sta llB'j which is an expression much used by Jeremiah, see 
on iv. 6. — Ver. 23. Babylon, " the hammer of the whole 
earth," i.e. with which Jahveh has beaten to pieces the nations 
and kingdoms of the earth (li. 20), is itself now being beaten 
to pieces and destroyed. On the subject, cf. Isa. xiv. 5, 6. 
Babylon will become the astonishment of the nations, li. 41. 
" How ! " is an exclamation of surprise, as in Zeph. ii. 15, 
— a passage which probably hovered before the mind of 
the prophet. — Ver. 24. This annihilation will come unex- 
pectedly. As the bird by the snare of the fowler, so shall 
Babylon be laid hold of by Jahveh, because it has striven 
against Him. The Lord lays the snare for it, that it may be 
caught. t^ipj, " to lay snares ; " cf. Ps. cxli. 9, where H3 is 
also found. fjiJPP fcOl, " and thou didst not perceive," i.e. didst 
not mark it : this is a paraphrase of the idea " unexpectedly," 
suddenly ; cf. li. 8, Isa. xlvii. 11. This has been literally 
fulfilled on Babylon. According to Herodotus (i. 191), Cyrus 
took Babylon by diverting the Euphrates into a trench he had 
dug. By this stratagem the Persians threw themselves so 
unexpectedly on the Babylonians (e|f airpoahoKrjTov <r(pt trapk- 
crrrjaav ol Ilkpaat,), that when the outmost portions of the city 
had been already seized, those who lived in the middle had not 

CHAP. L. 21-28. 281 

observed at all that they were captured (tou? to fxeaov oltceovTa<; 
ov fiavOdvetv ea\o)KOTa<;). Similarly, when the city was taken 
under Darius Hystaspes, they were surprised that Zopyrus 
traitorously opened the gates to the besiegers (Herodotus, iii. 
158). Babylon has contended against Jahveh, because, in its 
pride, it refused to let the people of God depart; cf. vers. 29 
and 33. In ver. 25 the sudden devastation of Babylon is 
accounted for. Jahveh opens His armoury, and brings out the 
instruments of His wrath, in order to execute His work on the 
land of the Chaldeans. "iSiN, " magazine, treasure-chamber," 
is here applied to an armoury. The "instruments of His wrath " 
are, in Isa. xiii. 5, the nations which execute the judgment of 
God, — here, the instruments of war and weapons with which 
Jahveh Himself marches into battle against Babylon. On 
'iJI H3S70, cf. xlviii. 10. The business which the Lord has 
there regards the chastisement of Babylon for its insolence. 
For the transaction of this business He summons His servants, 
ver. 26 f. n;nN3, as in xlvi. 22, xlix. 9, is substantially the 
same as nty 1N3, xlix. 14, xlviii. 8. YW?, " from the end," or 
from the last hitherwards, the same as ny|?p, li. 31, i.e. all 
together on to the last ; cf. Gen. xix. 4, xlvii. 2, etc. u Open 
her (Babylon's) barns " or granaries ; u heap it up (viz. what 
was in the granaries) like heaps " of grain or sheaves, " and 
devote it to destruction," i.e. consume it with fire, because 
things on which the curse was imposed must be burnt ; cf. Josh, 
xi. 12 and 13. All the property found in Babylon is to be 
collected in heaps, and then burnt with the city. The use 
of the image is occasioned by the granaries, i^paso is air. 
Xe7-, from D3X, to give fodder to cattle, — properly a stall for 
fodder, then a barn, granary. ^"}V. is a heap of grain (Cant, 
vii. 3), sheaves (Ruth iii. 7), also of rubbish (Neh. iii. 34). As 
ver. 26 declares what is to be done with goods and chattels, so 
does ver. 27 state what is to be done with the population. The 
figure employed in ver. 26 is followed by the representation of 
the people as oxen destined for slaughter; in this Jeremiah 
had in his mind the prophecy found in Isa. xxxiv., in which 
the judgment to come on Edom is depicted as a slaughter of 
lambs, rams, and he-goats : the people of Edom are thus com- 
pared to cattle that may be offered in sacrifice. This figure 


also forms the basis of the expression nats? TV in xlviii. 15, 
where this style of speaking is used with regard to the youths 
or the young troops ; cf. also li. 40. The B'Ha, accordingly, 
designate not merely the chief among the people, or the men 
of rank, but represent the whole human population. In the 
last clause (" for their day is come," etc.), there is a transi- 
tion in the discourse from the figure to the real subject itself. 
The suffix in ^[}yV does not refer to the oxen, but to the men over 
whose murder there is an exclamation of woe. In like manner, 
" their day " means the day of judgment for men, viz. the time 
of their visitation with punishment ; see on xlvi. 21. Fugitives 
and escaped ones will bring to Zion, and proclaim the news of 
the execution of this fearful judgment, that the Lord has ful- 
filled the vengeance of His temple, i.e. avenged on Babylon 
the burning of His temple by the Chaldeans. The fugitives 
and escaped ones are the Israelites, who were summoned to 
flee from Babylon, ver. 3. On " the vengeance of Jahveh," 
cf. ver. 15 and li. 11. 

Vers. 29-40. The pride of Babylon is humbled through the 
utter destruction of the people and the land. — Ver. 29. " Sum- 
mon archers against Jerusalem, all those who bend the bow ; 
encamp against her round about. Let there be no escape for 
her ; recompense to her according to her work ; according to 
that which she hath done, do ye to her : for she hath presumed 
against Jahveh, against the Holy One of Israel. Ver. 30. 
Therefore shall her young men fall in her streets, and all her 
men of war shall fail in that day, saith Jahveh. Ver. 31. 
Behold, I am against thee, O Pride ! saith the Lord, Jahveh 
of hosts ; for thy day hath come, the time [when] I visit thee. 
Ver. 32. And Pride shall stumble and fall, and he shall have 
none to lift him up ; and I will kindle fire in his cities, and it 
shall devour all that is round about him. Ver. 33. Thus saith 
Jahveh of hosts, The children of Israel and the children of 
Judah are oppressed together, and all who led them captive 
kept hold of them ; they refused to let them go. Ver. 34. 
Their Redeemer is strong ; Jahveh of hosts is His name : He 
shall surely plead their cause, that He may give rest to the 
earth, and make the inhabitants of Babylon tremble. Ver. 35. 
A sword [is] against the Chaldeans, saith Jahveh, and against 

CHAP. L. 29-40. 283 

the inhabitants of Babylon, and against her princes, and against 
her wise men. Ver. 36. A sword [is] against the liars, and 
they shall become fools ; a sword [is] against her heroes, and 
they shall be confounded. Ver. 37. A sword is against his 
horses, and against his chariots, and against all the auxiliaries 
which [are] in the midst of her, and they shall become women ; 
a sword is against her treasures, and they shall be plundered. 
Ver. 38. A drought is against her waters, and they shall become 
dry ; for it is a land of graven images, and they are mad upon 
idols. Ver. 39. Therefore shall wild beasts dwell [there] with 
jackals, and ostriches shall dwell in it ; and it shall no more be 
inhabited for ever, neither shall it be dwelt in from genera- 
tion to generation. Ver. 40. As God overthrew Sodom and 
Gomorrah and their inhabitants, saith Jahveh, no man shall 
dwell there, nor shall a son of man sojourn in it." 

Further description of the execution of God's wrath. Archers 
shall come and besiege Babylon round about, so that no one 
shall escape. The summons, " Call archers hither," is a dra- 
matic turn in the thought that the siege is quickly to ensue. 
XPOBfrl is used here as in li. 27, to summon, call by making 
proclamation, as in 1 Kings xv. 22. D"3"i does not signify 
a many," as the ancient versions give it ; this agrees neither 
with the apposition which follows, " all that bend the bow," 
nor with ver. 26, where all, to the last, are summoned against 
Babylon. Raschi, followed by all the moderns, more correctly 
renders it " archers," and derives it from nnn = nzn, Gen. xlix. 
23, cf. with xxi. 10, like 11, Job xvi. 13. The apposition, " all 
those who bend the bow," gives additional force, run with 
accus. means to besiege ; cf. Ps. liii. 6. " Let there be no 
escape" is equivalent to saying, " that none may escape from 
Babylon." The Qeri n? after W is unnecessary, and merely 
taken from ver. 26. On the expression " render to her," etc., 
cf. xxv. 14 ; and on " according to all," etc., cf. ver. 15. " For 
she hath acted presumptuously against Jahveh," by burning 
His temple, and keeping His people captive : in this way has 
Babylon offended " against the Holy One of Israel." This 
epithet of God is taken from Isaiah, cf. li. 5. This presumption 
must be punished.— Ver. 30 is a repetition of xlix. 26. — Ver. 31. 
The Lord will now visit the presumption of Babylon. The day 


of punishment has arrived. On " behold, I am against thee," 
cf. xxi. 13. " O arrogance, pride!" is directly addressed to 
Babylon : in ver. 32 also there is a like designation of Babylon 
as the personification of pride. On the words " for thy day is 
come," cf. ver. 27. " And I will kindle a fire," etc., stands as 
in xxi. 14, where, however, " in its forest" is found instead of 
" in his cities." The former, indeed, is the reading rendered 
by the LXX. in this passage ; but they have acted quite arbi- 
trarily in this, since Jeremiah, for the most part, varies indivi- 
dual words when he repeats a thought. " In his cities " does 
not suit very well, inasmuch as the other cities of the country 
belonged to Babylon, the fxrjTpoiroXis, as hers, and in li. 43 
they are spoken of as hers ; cf. xix. 15, xxxiv. 1, xlix. 13, etc. — 
Vers. 33-40. Further description of the guilt and punishment 
of Babylon. The presumptuous pride manifests itself in the 
fact that Israel and Judah still languish in exile. All those who 
have been seized and carried away they have kept hold of. 
DiVny is used as in Isa. xiv. 2. They refuse to let them go, as 
Pharaoh once did, Ex. vii. 14, 27, ix. 2; cf. Isa. xiv. 17. Jahveh, 
the deliverer of Israel, cannot endure this. As the strong One, 
the God of hosts, He will lead them in the fight ; as their 
advocate, He will obtain their dues for them ; cf . xxv. 31, Isa. 
xlix. 25. Dahler, Ewald, and Umbreit follow the Vulgate and 
the Chaldee in taking 'til ST?"]? \Vtpb as synonymous with Pa"in, 
in the sense of shaking, rousing, a meaning which W"J has in 
the Kal, but which cannot be made out for the Hiphil. In the 
Hiphil it means to give rest, to come to rest, Deut. xxviii. 65, 
Isa. xxxiv. 14, lxi. 4, Jer. xxxi. 2 ; and in the Niphal, to rest, 
keep quiet, xlvii. 6. This is the meaning given by the Syriac, 
Easchi, Kimchi, Eosenmiiller, Maurer, Hitzig, etc., and sup- 
ported by a comparison with Isa. xiv. 7, 3, 16. Babylon has 
hitherto kept the earth in unrest and anxiety (Isa. xiv. 16) ; 
now it is to get rest (Isa. xiv. 3, 7), and trembling or quaking 
for fear is to come on Babylon. The two verbs, which have 
similar sounds, express a contrast. On the form of the infini- 
tive ri"!'7, cf. Ewald, § 238, d. In order to conduct the case 
of Israel as against Babylon, the Lord (vers. 35-38) calls for 
the sword against the Chaldeans, the inhabitants of Babylon, 
on their princes, wise men, heroes, and the whole army, the 

CHAP. L. 29-40. 285 

treasures and the waters. There is no verb following rnn } but 
only the object with /V, the words being put in the form of an 
exclamation, on account of the passion pervading them. The 
sword is to come and show its power on the Chaldeans, i.e. the 
population of the rural districts, on the inhabitants of the 
capital, and further, on the princes and wise men (magicians). 
A special class of the last named are the D""!?, properly 
" babblers," those who talk at random, here " soothsayers" and 
lying prophets, the astrologers of Babylon ; see Delitzsch on Isa. 
xliv. 25 [Clark's translation, For. Theol. Lib.]. £s!n, " And 
they shall be as fools ;" see on v. 4. Further, on the warriors, 
the horses, and war-chariots, the main strength of the Asiatic 
conquerors, cf. xlvi. 9, Isa. xliii. 17, Ps. xx. 8. 3"]JJrria, " all 
the mixed multitude" in the midst of Babylon : these are here 
the mercenaries and allies (as to this word, see on xxv. 20). 
These shall become women, i.e. weak and incapable of resist- 
ance ; see Nah. iii. 13. The last objects of vengeance are the 
treasures and the waters of Babylon. In ver. 38 the Masoretes 
have pointed arjh, because ^n, " sword," seemed to be inappli- 
cable to the waters. But indeed neither does the sword, in the 
proper sense of the word, well apply to treasures ; it rather 
stands, by synecdoche, for war. In this improper meaning it 
might also be used with reference to the waters, in so far as the 
canals and watercourses, on which the fertility of Babylonia 
depended, were destroyed by war. Hence many expositors 
would read "inn here also, and attribute the employment of 
this word to the rhetorical power connected with enumeration. 
Others are of opinion that 2$} may also mean aridity, drought, 
in Deut. xxviii. 22 ; but the assumption is erroneous, and can- 
not be confirmed by that passage. Neither can it be denied, 
that to confine the reference of the expression " her waters " 
to the canals and artificial watercourses of Babylonia seems 
unnatural. All these received their water from the rivers 
Euphrates and Tigris, the volume of water in which remained 
uninfluenced by war. We therefore follow Hitzicj in holdino- 

1**1 ^ 

that 2nn ls the correct punctuation ; in the transition from "Tin 
into "Tin, with its similar sound, we neither perceive any injury 
done to rhetorical force, derived from an enumeration of 
objects, nor any need for referring the following clause, which 


assigns the reason merely to such rhetorical considerations as 
Graf does. In the drying up of the water there is no allusion 
to the diversion of the Euphrates, by which Cyrus opened up 
for himself an entrance into the city (Herodotus, i. 190) ; the 
drying up is merely appointed by God, as a consequence of 
continued drought, for the purpose of destroying the land. 
Hitzig's opinion neither suits the context, nor can be justified 
otherwise ; he holds that water is the emblem of the sea of 
nations, the surging multitude of people in the streets of the 
city, and he refers for proof to li. 36 and Isa. xxi. 1 (!). The 
clauses in ver. 386, which assign the reason, refer to the whole 
threatening, vers. 35-38a. Babylon is to be destroyed, with its 
inhabitants and all its means of help, because it is a land of 
idols (cf. li. 52 and Isa. xxi. 9), and its inhabitants suffer them- 
selves to be befooled by false gods. ??innn means to act or 
behave like a madman, rave, xxv. 16 ; here, to let oneself be 
deprived of reason, not (as Graf thinks) to fall into a sacred 
frenzy. ^Wit, terrors, Ps. lxxxviii. 16 ; here, objects of fear 
and horror, i.e. idols. — Ver. 39. Therefore shall Babylon become 
an eternal waste, where none but beasts of the desert find 
shelter, where no human being dwells. This threat is formed 
out of reminiscences from Isa. xiii. 20-22 and xxxiv. 14. For C^f 
and B^N, see on Isa. xxxiv. 14 ; for i"yi£ ni33 ? see on Isa. xiii. 
21. The second half of the verse agrees word for word with 
Isa. xiii. 20a. — Ver. 40 is a repetition of xlix. 18, and in its 
first half is founded on Isa. xiii. 19. 

Ver. 41-li. 4. The agents who execute the judgment. — Ver. 
41. "Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great 
nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the most dis- 
tant sides of the earth. Ver. 42. Bow and javelin shall they 
seize : they are cruel, and will not pity ; their voice shall sound 
like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, [each one] ar- 
rayed like a man for the battle, against thee, O daughter of 
Babylon. Ver. 43. The king of Babylon hath heard the 
report concerning them, and his hands have fallen down : dis- 
tress hath seized him, writhing pain, like [that of] the woman 
in childbirth. Ver. 44. Behold, he shall come up like a lion 
from the glory of Jordan to a habitation of rock; but in a 
moment will I make them run away from her, and will set 

CHAP. L. 41-LI. 4. 287 

over her him who is chosen : for who is like me, and who will 
appoint me a time [to plead my defence] ? and what shepherd 
[is there] that will stand before me? Ver. 45. Therefore 
hear ye the counsel of Jahveh which He hath taken against 
Babylon, and His purposes which He hath purposed against the 
land of the Chaldeans : Assuredly they shall drag them away, 
the smallest of the flock ; assuredly [their] habitation shall be 
astonished at them. Ver. 46. At the cry, ' Babylon is taken,' the 
earth is shaken, and a cry [for help] is heard among the nations. 

Chap. li. ver. 1. "Thus saith Jahveh: Behold, I will stir 
up against Babylon, and against the inhabitants of [as it were] 
the heart of mine opponents, the spirit of a destroyer. Ver. 2. 
And I will send against Babylon strangers, and they shall 
winnow her, and empty her land, because they are against her 
round about in a day of evil. Ver. 3. Against [him who] 
bends let the bender bend his bow, and against [him who] lifts 
up himself in his coat of mail: and do not spare her young 
men ; devote to destruction all her host, Ver. 4. That slain 
ones may fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and those that are 
pierced through in her streets." 

The greater portion of this strophe consists of quotations 
from former utterances. Vers. 41-43 are taken from vi. 22-24, 
and vers. 44-46 from xlix. 19-21 ; here they are applied to 
Babylon. What is said in vi. 22-24 concerning the enemy 
out of the north who will devastate Judah, is here transferred 
to the enemy that is to destroy Babylon. For this purpose, 
after the words " and a great nation," are added " and many 
kings," in order to set forth the hostile army advancing 
against Babylon as one composed of many nations ; and in 
consequence of this extension of the subject, the verb li'sP is 
used in the plural, and Sin ,- )T3N is changed into nnn ^TDN. 
Moreover, the mention of the "daughter of Babylon" instead 
of the " daughter of Zion " is attended by a change from the 
directly communicative form of address in the first person 
(" We have heard," etc., ver. 43) into the third person (" The 
king of Babylon hath heard," etc.). In applying the ex- 
pressions used in xlix. 19-21 regarding the instrument chosen 
for the destruction of Edom, to the instrument selected against 
Babylon (vers. 44-46), the names "Babylon" and "the land 


of the Chaldeans " are substituted for " Edom " and " the 
inhabitants of Teman " (xlix. 20) ; but beyond this, only the 
last verse is changed, in accordance with the change of circum- 
stances. The thought that, in consequence of the fall of 
Edom, the earth trembles, and Edom's cry of anguish is heard 
on the Red Sea, is intensified thus : by the sound or cry, 
" Babylon is taken," the earth is shaken, and a cry is heard 
among the nations. The conquest of Babylon, the mistress of 
the world, puts the whole world in anxiety and fear, while the 
effects of Edom's fall extend only to the Red Sea. The 
Kethib DVDS, ver. 44, seems to come from the verb }T}, in the 
sense of pushing, so that it is not a mere error in transcription 
for D)P.N. Moreover, such changes made on former utterances, 
when they are repeated and applied to Babylon, show that 
these verses are not glosses which a reader has written on the 
margin, and a later copyist inserted into the text, but that 
Jeremiah himself has applied these earlier words in his address 
against Babylon. The two passages are not merely quite 
appropriately arranged beside one another, but even present 
in their connection a thought which has not hitherto been met 
with in the address against Babylon, and which does not recur 
afterwards. The enemy that is to conquer Babylon is certainly 
pointed out, so early as ver. 9, as an assemblage of great nations 
out of the north, but not more particularly characterized there ; 
but the nations that are to constitute the hostile army are not 
further designated till li. 11 and 27 ff. The second quotation, 
vers. 44-46, adds the new thought that the appearance of this 
enemy against Babylon is owing to a decree of the Lord, the 
execution of which no man can prevent, because there is none 
like Jahveh. The figurative description of the enemy as a lion 
coming up out of the thicket of reeds at the Jordan, frighten- 
ing the herd feeding on their pasture-ground, and carrying off 
the weakly sheep, is appropriate both to Nebuchadnezzar's 
expedition against Edom, and to the invasion of Babylonia by 
the Medes and their allies, for the purpose of laying waste the 
country of the Chaldeans, smiting the inhabitants of Babylon, 
and conquering it. Even the expression |JVN nia permits of 
being applied to Babylonia, which was protected by its canal 
system and the strong walls of its capital. 

CIIAP. L7. I-!. 289 

In li. 1-4, the terrible character of the hostile nation is 
further described. Against Babylon and the inhabitants of 
Chaldea, God stirs up the " spirit of a destroyer," viz. a savage 
nation that will massacre the Chaldeans without pity. *DJ3 37, 
lit. "the heart of mine adversaries," is the word D^Bf, changed, 
according to the canon Atbash (see on xxv. 26), for the purpose 
of obtaining the important meaning that Chaldea is the centre 
of God's enemies. This explanation of the name involves the 
thought that all enmity against God the Lord culminates in 
Babylon ; on the basis of this representation Babylon is called, 
Rev. xvii. 5, a the mother of harlots and abominations of the 
earth." IWIBto tVT\ does not mean fcavaoova hLafydeipovra (LXX.), 
ventum pestilentem (Vulgate), " a sharp wind " (Luther), nor, 
as it is usually translated, " a destroying wind ; " for nn Tyn is 
nowhere used of the rousing of a wind, but everywhere means 
" to rouse the spirit of any one," to stir him up to an under- 
taking ; cf. Hag. i. 14, 1 Chron. v. 56, 2 Chron. xxi. 16, and 
xxxvi. 22. Jeremiah also employs it thus in ver. 11, and this 
meaning is quite suitable here also. mr^'a is a substantive, as 
in iv. 7 : u the spirit of a destroyer." The figure of winnowing, 
which follows in ver. 2, does not by any means necessarily 
require the meaning " wind," because the figure contained in 
the word nvn was first called forth by the employment of 
CiT " strangers " = barbarians. The sending of the D s iT to 
Babylon has no connection with the figure of the wind, and it 
even remains a question whether WTf really means here to 
winnow, because the word is often used of the scattering of a 
nation, without any reference to the figure of winnowing ; cf. 
Lev. xxvi. 33, Ezek. v. 10, xii. 15, etc., also Jer. xlix. 32, 36. 
However, this thought is suggested by what follows, " they 
empty her hand," although the clause which assigns the 
reason, M because they are against her round about " (cf. iv. 
17), does not correspond with this figure, but merely declares 
that the enemies which attack Babylon on every side disperse 
its inhabitants and empty the land. — Ver. 3. These strangers 
shall kill, without sparing, every warrior of Babylon, and anni- 
hilate its whole military forces. In the first half of the verse 
the reading is doubtful, since the Masoretes would have the 
second "HT (Qeri) expunged, probably because (as Bottcher, 



iV. Aehrenl. ii. S. 166, supposes) they considered it merely a 
repetition. The meaning is not thereby changed. According 
to the Qeri, we would require to translate, " against [him who] 
bends [the bow, may there be, or come], one who bends his bow;" 
according to the KetJiib, " against [him who] bends [the bow], 
may he who bends his bow bend it." As to :fVV"7X with i^X 
omitted, cf . 1 Chron. xv. 12, 2 Chron. i. 4, and Ewald, § 333, b. 
'pa ?J?JT stands in apposition to ?f"Vi>"7K ; ?2W is the Hithpael 
from n?y and means to raise oneself : it is to be taken as the 

T T / 

shortened form of the imperfect passive ; cf. Gesenius, § 128, 
Rem. 2. Certainly, the Hithpael of nby occurs nowhere else, 
but it is quite appropriate here ; so that it is unnecessary, with 

Hitzig, to adduce, for explanation, the Arabic ^Jj, to stretch 

the head out of anything, or, with Ewald, to derive the form 

from the Aramaic ??$, Arabic Jx, to thrust in. Neither is 

there any foundation for the remark, that the abbreviated form 
of the imperfect would be admissible only if ?N were found 
instead of ?K. Indeed, the Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate have 
actually read and rendered from ?K, which several codices also 
present, " Let him not bend his bow, nor stretch himself in his 
coat of mail." But by this reading the first half of the verse 
is put in contradiction to the second ; and this contradiction is 
not removed by the supposition of J. D. Michaelis and Hitzig, 
who refer these clauses to the Chaldeans, and find the thought 
expressed in them, that the Chaldeans, through loss of courage, 
cannot set themselves for defence. For, in that case, we would 
be obliged, with Hitzig, to explain as spurious the words that 
follow, " and spare ye not her young men ; " but for this there 
is no valid reason. As to ti^t!?, c f. 1. 21, 26. On ver. 4, cf. 1. 30 
and xlix. 26. The suffix in " her streets " refers to Babylon. 

Vers. 5-14. Because of the righteousness of Israel, Babylon is 
to be irretrievably destroyed. Ver. 5. " For Israel is not for- 
saken, nor Judah of his God, of Jahveh of hosts ; but their 
land is full of guilt because of the Holy One of Israel. 
Ver. 6. Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and save ye every 
one his life : do not perish for her iniquity ; because it is a 
time of vengeance for Jahveh; He renders to her what she has 
committed. Ver. 7. Babylon [was] a golden cup in the hand 

CHAP. LI. 6-14. 291 

of Jahveh, that intoxicated all the earth. Nations have drunk 
of her wine, therefore nations are mad. Ver. 8. Babylon has 
fallen suddenly and been broken : howl over her : take balsam 
for her pain; perhaps she may be healed. Ver. 9. 'We have 
tried to heal Babylon, but she is not healed. Leave her, and 
let us go each one to his own land ; for her judgment reaches 
unto heaven, and is lifted up to the clouds.' Ver. 10. Jahveh 
hath brought forth our righteousnesses ; come, and let us declare 
in Zion the doing of Jahveh our God. Ver. 11. Sharpen the 
arrow, fill the shields : Jahveh hath roused the spirit of the 
kings of Media ; for His counsel is against Babylon, to destroy 
it ; because it is the vengeance of Jahveh, the vengeance of 
His temple. Ver. 12. Against the walls of Babylon raise a 
standard ; strengthen the watch, set watchmen, prepare the 
ambushes : for Jahveh hath both devised and done what He 
spake against the inhabitants of Babylon. Ver. 13. O thou 
that dwellest upon many waters, rich in treasures, thine end hath 
come, the measure of thy gain. Ver. 14. Jahveh of hosts hath 
sworn by Himself, * Surely I have filled thee with men, as [with] 
the locust ; and they shall raise a shout of joy against thee.' " 

The offence of Babylon against the Holy One of Israel 
demands its destruction. In ver. 5, two reasons are given for 
God's determination to destroy Babylon. The Lord is induced 
to this (1) by His relation to Israel and Judaji, whom Babylon 
will not let go ; (2) by the grave offence of Babylon. Israel 
is |0?x N?, " not widowed," forsaken by his God ; i.e., Jahveh, 
the God of hosts, has not rejected His people for ever, so as 
not to trouble Himself any more about them ; cf. Isa. 1. 1, 
liv. 4 ff . " Their land "—the land of the Chaldeans—" is full 
of guilt before the Holy One of Israel," partly through their 
relation to Israel (1. 21), partly through their idolatry (1. 2, 38). 
P? does not mean here " on the side of," but " on account of," 
because they do not acknowledge Jahveh as the Holy One 
of Israel. — Ver. 6. In order to escape the punishment that is 
to fall on the guilt-laden city, the Israelites living in Babylon 
must flee to save their lives ; cf. 1. 8, and on the mode of 
expression, xlviii. 6. " Be not destroyed ^3, for her iniquity," 
(a of price), not u in her guilt" = punishment for sin (Graf), 
or "through her guilt" (Nagelsbach). Both of these last two 


views are against the context; for the idea is, that Israel must 
flee to save his life, and that he too may not atone for 
the guilt of Babylon. ' On the expression, " it is a time of 
vengeance," etc., cf. 1. 15, Isa. xxxiv. 8. D?K>» ^03, as in 
Isa. lix. 18, lxvi. 6. ^03, prop, accomplishment, actual proof, 
is used both of human and divine doing and working, of 
human misdeeds and divine recompense. N^n is used emphati- 
cally. — Ver. 7 f. Babylon, certainly, in its former power and 
greatness, was a golden goblet, by means of which Jahveh 
presented to the nations the wine of His wrath, and intoxicated 
them ; but now it is fallen, and broken without remedy. Isa. 
xxi. 9 finds an echo in the expression, " Babylon is fallen." The 
figure of the cup refers us back to xxv. 15 ff., where, however, 
it is applied in a different way. The cup is said to be of gold, 
in order to point out the splendour and glory of Nebuchad- 
nezzar's dominion. "In the hand of Jahveh," i.e. used by 
Him as His instrument for pouring out His wrath to the 
nations. But Babylon has suddenly fallen and been broken in 
pieces. At this point Jeremiah drops the figure of the cup, 
• for a golden cup does not break wdien it falls. The fall is so 
terrible, that the nations in Babylon are summoned to partici- 
pate in the lamentation, and to lend their aid in repairing her 
injuries. But they answer that their attempts to heal her are 
fruitless. (On "HS, cf. xlvi. 11 and viii. 22.) The terrible and 
irreparable character of the fall is thus expressed in a dramatic 
manner. We must neither think of the allies and mercenaries 
as those who are addressed (Schnurrer, Rosenmiiller, Maurer, 
Hitzig), nor merely the Israelites who had been delivered from 
Babylon (Umbreit). The latter view is opposed by the words 
which follow, " Let every one go to his own country ;" this points 
to men out of different lands. And the former assumption is 
opposed by the consideration that not merely the mercenaries, 
but also the allies are to be viewed as fallen and ruined together 
with Babylon, and that Babylon, which had subdued all the 
nations, has no allies, according to the general way in which 
the prophet views these things. Those addressed are rather the 
nations that had been vanquished by Babylon and detained in 
the city, of which Israel was one. Inasmuch as these were the 
servants of Babylon, and as such bound to pay her service, 

CHAP. LI. 6-14. 293 

they are to heal Babylon ; and because the attempts to heal 
her prove fruitless, they are to leave the ruined city. They 
answer this summons by the resolve, " We will go every one to 
his own land;" cf. 1. 8, 16. The motive for this resolution, 
" for her guilt reaches up to heaven," certainly shows that it 
is Israelites who are speaking, because it is only they who form 
their opinions in such a way; but they speak in the name of 
all the strangers who are in Babylon. BSip'o is the matter 
upon which judgment is passed, i.e. the transgression, the guilt, 
analogous to D*OT taapto, Ezek. vii. 23, and HJO DBtp'p, Deut. 
xix. 6, xxi. 22 ; it does not mean the punishment adjudged, of 
which we cannot say that it reaches up to heaven. On this 
expression, cf. Ps. lvii. 11, cviii. 5. Through the fall of Babylon, 
the Lord has made manifest the righteousness of Israel ; the 
redeemed ones are to proclaim this in Zion. nip'?? does not 
mean "righteous acts" (Judg. v. 11), but proofs of the right- 
eousness of Israel as opposed to Babylon, which righteousness 
Babylon, through tyrannical oppression of the people that had 
been delivered up to it merely for chastisement, has failed to 
perceive, and which, so long as the Lord did not take His 
people to Himself again in a visible manner, was hidden from 
the world ; cf. Ps. xxxvii. 6. — Ver. 11. The instruments which 
the Lord employs in bringing about the fall of Babylon are the 
kings of the Medes, i.e. the provincial governors, or heads of 
the separate provinces into which the Medes in ancient times 
were divided, until, after revolting from the Assyrians in the 
year 714 B.C., they put themselves under a common head, in 
order to assert their independence, and chose Dejokes as their 
monarch. See Spiegel's Evan (1863, S. 308 ff.), and Delitzsch 
on Isa. xiii. 17, who rightly remarks that in Isa. xiii. 17, as 
well as here, ""IB is a general designation for the Aryan tribes 
of Iran, taken from the most important and influential nation. 
In xxi. 2, Isaiah mentions Elam in the first series, along with 
Media, as a conqueror of Babylon ; and the Babylonian king- 
dom was destroyed by Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. 
But the Persians are first named in the Old Testament by 
Ezekiel and Daniel, while the name u Elam" as a province of 
the Persian kingdom is gradually lost, from the times of Cyrus 
onwards, in that of the " Persians." The princes of Media 


are to prepare themselves for besieging and conquering Baby- 
lon. 12H (from T!?), prop, to polish, cleanse from dirt and 
rust. The arrows are thereby sharpened ; cf. Isa. xlix. 2. 
D*tp?B>n W?D is variously explained. The meaning of " shields " 
is that best established for &u?W (see on 2 Sam. viii. 7) ; while 
the meaning of " armour equipment," which is defended by 
Thenius, is neither very suitable for 2 Sam. viii. 7 nor for 2 
Kings xi. 10 and Cant. iv. 4. There is not the least foundation 
for the meaning "quiver," which is assumed merely for this 
passage. Wu?fn ^7P is to be explained in accordance with 
the analogous expression in 2 Kings ix. 24, riD ; i?2 i"P Npft, 
"he filled his hand with the bow," i.e. seized the bow. "Fill 
the shields " with your bodies, or with your arms, since we put 
these among the straps of the shields. Those addressed are 
the kings of the 'Medes, whose spirit God has stirred up to 
make war against Babylon ; for it is against her that His 
mind or plan is directed. As to the expression, " for it is the 
vengeance of Jahveh," etc., cf. 1. 15, 28. The attack is to be 
directed against the walls of Babylon. D?, " standard," is the 
military sign carried before the army, in order to show them 
the direction they are to take, and the point of attack. "HOEto, 
"watch," is the force besieging the city; cf. 2 Sam. xi. 16. 
" Make the watch strong," i.e. enclose the city firmly. This 
is more exactly specified in the following clauses. " Set 
watches," not as a guard for their own camp (Hitzig), but 
against the city, in order to maintain a close siege. "Place 
the ambushes," that they may peep into the city whenever 
a sally is made by the besieged; cf. Josh. viii. 14 if., Judg. 
xx. 33 ff. " For what Jahveh hath determined, He will also 
perform." Da — D3, " as well as : " He has resolved as well as 
done, i.e. as He has resolved, He also executes. — Ver. 13. All 
the supports of the Babylonian power, its strong position on 
the Euphrates, and its treasures, which furnished the means 
for erecting strong fortifications, cannot avert the ruin de- 
creed by God. As to the form ^ab*, see on xxii. 23. It is 
the city with its inhabitants that is addressed, personified as 
a virgin or daughter. The many waters on which Babylon 
dwells are the Euphrates, with the canals, trenches, dykes, 
and marshes which surrounded Babylon, and afforded her a 

CHAP. LI. 5-14 295 

strong protection against hostile attacks, but at the same time 
contributed to increase the wealth of the country and the 
capital. 1 The great riches, however, by which Babylon became 
nVrcftt Jl?!, " great in treasures," so that JEschylus (Pers. 52) 
calls it Ba(3v\wv rj 7ro\v^pvao<i, were derived from the enor- . 
mous spoils which Nebuchadnezzar brought to it, partly from 
Nineveh, partly from Jerusalem, and from the tribute paid by 
Syria and the wealthy commercial cities of Phoenicia. a Thine 
end is come ; " cf. Gen. vi. 13. W* I1BK, " the ell (i.e. the 
measure) of thy gain," i.e. the limit put to thine unjust gain. 
The words are connected with "thine end is come" by zeugma. 
This explanation is simpler than the interpretation adopted 
by Venema, Eichhorn, and Maurer, from the Vulgate pedalis 
l^rcecisionis tuce, viz. " the ell of cutting thee off." Bottcher 
(Proben, S. 289, note m) seeks to vindicate the rendering in 
the following paraphrase : " The ell at which thou shalt be cut 
off, like something woven or spun, when it has reached the 
destined number of ells." According to this view, u ell " would 
stand for the complete number of the ells determined on ; but 
there is no consideration of the question whether W2, " to cut 
off the thread of life," Isa. xxxviii. 12, can be applied to a city. 
— Ver. 14. The Lord announces destruction to Babylon with 
a solemn oath. Many take BS ^ in the sense of Nv ON in 
oaths : " truly, certainly." But this use of the expression is 
neither fully established, nor suitable in this connection. In 
2 Sam. xv. 21 (the only passage that can be cited in its be- 
half), the meaning "only" gives good enough sense. Ewald 
(§ 356, h) wrongly adduces 2 Kings v. 20 in support of the 
above meaning, and three lines below he attributes the signi- 

1 Duncker, Gesch. d. Altertli. i. S. 846, remarks: " The fertility of the 
soil of Babylon — the produce of the fields — depended on the inundations 
of the Euphrates. By means of an extensive system of dykes, canals, and 
river-walls, Nebuchadnezzar succeeded not only in conducting the water of 
the Euphrates to every point in the plain of Babylon, but also in averting 
the formation of marshes and the occurrence of floods (which were not 
rare), as well as regulating the inundation." The purpose for which these 
water-works were constructed, was " first of all, irrigation and navigation ; 
but they at the same time afforded strong lines of defence against the foe" 
(Niebubr, Gesch. Assyr. u. Bab. S. 219). See details regarding these 
magnificent works in Duncker, S. 845 ff. ; Niebubr, S. 218 ff. 


fication " although " to the passage now before us. Moreover, 
the asseveration, " Verily I have filled thee with men as with 
locusts, and they shall sing the Hedad over thee," can have a 
suitable meaning only if we take "I have filled thee" pro- 
phetically, and understand the filling with men as referring to 
the enemy, when the city has been reduced (Hitzig). But to 
fill a city with men hardly means quite the same as to put a host 
of enemies in it. "^ serves merely to introduce the oath, and 
DN means " although," — as, for instance, in Job ix. 15. The 
meaning is not, " When I filled thee with men, as with locusts, 
the only result was, that a more abundant wine-pressing could 
be obtained" (Nagelsbach), for this thought is foreign to the 
context ; the meaning rather is, u Even the countless multitudes 
of men in Babylon will not avail it " (Ewald), will not keep it 
from ruin. TTn, the song sung at the pressing of wine, is, from 
the nature of the case, the battle-song ; see on xxv. 30. 

Vers. 15-26. The omnipotence of the Lord and Creator of 
the whole world will destroy the idols of Babylon, and break 
the mighty kingdom that rules the world. Ver. 15. " He who 
made the earth by His strength, establishing the world by His 
wisdom, and stretched out the heavens by His understanding ; 
Ver. 16. When, thundering, He makes a roaring sound of 
water in the heavens, He. causes clouds to ascend from the end 
of the earth, makes lightnings for the rain, and brings forth 
the wind' out of His treasures. Ver. 17. Every man without 
knowledge is brutish ; every goldsmith is ashamed because of 
the image : for his molten work is a lie, and there is no spirit in 
them. Ver. 18. They are vanity, a work of mockery ; in their 
time of visitation they perish. Ver. 19. The Portion of Jacob 
is not like these ; for He is the framer of all, and of the tribe 
of his inheritance : Jahveh of hosts is His name. Ver. 20. 
Thou art a hammer to me, weapons of war ; and with thee I 
will break nations in pieces, and with thee destroy kingdoms. 
Ver. 21. And with thee I will break in pieces the horse and his 
rider, and with thee I will break in pieces the chariot and its 
rider. Ver. 22. And with thee I will break in pieces man and 
woman, and with thee I will break in pieces old and young, 
and with thee I will break in pieces young man and maiden. 
Ver. 23. And with thee I will break in pieces the shepherd and 

CHAP. LI. 15-26. 297 

his flock, and with thee I will break in pieces the husbandman 
and his yoke [of oxen], and with thee I will break in pieces gover- 
nors and deputy-governors. Ver. 24. And I will recompense 
to Babylon, and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea, all their evil 
which they have done in Zion before your eyes, saith Jahveh. 
Ver. 25. Behold, I am against thee, O mountain of destruc- 
tion, saith Jahveh, that destroyed all the earth ; and I will 
stretch out my hand against thee, and roll thee down from the 
rocks, and make thee a burnt mountain, Ver. 26. So that they 
shall not take from thee a stone for a corner, or a stone for 
foundations ; but thou shalt be desolations for ever, saith 

In order to establish, against all doubt, the fall of Babylon 
that has been announced under solemn oath, Jeremiah, in vers. 
15-19, repeats a passage from the address in x. 12-16, in which 
he holds up before the people, by way of warning, the almighty 
power of the living God, and the destruction of the idols at the 
time of the judgment. In chap. x. he wished, by means of this 
announcement, to combat the fears of the idolatrous people for 
the power of the heathen gods ; here he seeks by the same 
means to destroy the confidence of the Chaldeans in their gods, 
and to state that all idols will be destroyed before the almighty 
power of the Creator and Ruler of the whole world on the day 
of judgment, and Israel shall then learn that He who formed 
the universe will show Himself, by the fall of Babylon, as the 
Creator of Israel. The whole passage is repeated verbatim, on 
till a chancre made in ver. 19, where PNib" is omitted before 
inbn: DT«y, and these words are connected with what precedes : 
" He is the former of all, and of the tribe which belongs to 
Him as His own property," i.e. Israel. This alteration is not 
to be put to the account of a copyist, who omitted the word 
" Israel " through an oversight, but is due to Jeremiah : there 
was no need here, as in chap, x., for bringing into special pro- 
minence the relation of Israel to his God. 1 As to the rest, see 

1 In chap. x. 16 the LXX. have taken no account either of PNYkS" or ®2&. 
Hence Movers, Hitzig, and Ewald infer that these words have found their 
way into the text as a gloss suggested by Deut. xxxii. 9, and should be 
deleted. But in this they are wrong. The omission of the two words by the 
LXX. is a result of the erroneous translation there given of the first clause 


the exposition of x. 12-16. In vers. 20-26 the destruction of 
Babylon and its power is further carried out in two figures. In 
vers. 20-24 Babylon is compared to a hammer, which God 
uses for the purpose of beating to pieces nations and kingdoms, 
with their forces and their inhabitants, but on which He will 
afterwards requite the evil done to Zion. Y%ft is equivalent 
to r?^j Prov. xxv. 18, one who breaks in pieces ; hence a 
battle-hammer. Hitzig takes v3 to be a singular, " formed 
thus in order to avoid an accumulation of i sounds (cf. E^vB 
with *BvB)." This is possible, but neither necessary nor pro- 
bable. The plural, " weapons of war," is added, because the 
battle-hammer is considered as including all weapons of war. 
By the hammer, Ewald understands " the true Israel ;" Hitzig, 
Cyrus, the destroyer of Babylon ; Niigelsbach, an ideal person. 
These three views are based on the fact that the operation 
performed by means of the hammer (breaking to pieces) is 
marked by perfects with 1 relative (VlSS?!), which is also true 
of the retribution to be made on Babylon : from this it is in- 
ferred that the breaking with the hammer, as well as the 
retribution, is still future, and that the meaning is, " When I 
hammer in this way with thee, I will requite Babylon" (Hitzig) ; 
while Ewald concludes from nothing but the context that the 
words refer to Israel. But none of these reasons is decisive, 
nor any of the three views tenable. The context gives decided 
support to the opinion that in ver. 20 ff. it is Babylon that is 
addressed, just as in ver. 13 f. and ver. 25 ; a further proof is, 
that as early as chap. 1. 23, Babylon is called " the hammer of 
the whole earth." Only very weighty reasons, then, could in- 
duce us to refer the same figure, as used here, to another nation. 
The word t^BB (1. 23), " hammer, smith's hammer" (Isa. xli. 
7), is not essentially different from fBD, which is used here. 

of the verse. This the LXX. have rendered ou toiuvtyi ftspis tu 'Ixxufi, 
instead of ov TOixvryi ij ftspis rov ' laxafi. Having done so, it was im- 
possible for them to continue, or/ 6 K^txcct; rd -Kctvra, a.vr6s, because 
they could not predicate this of fttpi's, which they evidently did not take 
to mean God. And if they were to connect N1H with what followed, they 
were bound to omit the two words, for it would never have done to take 
together iJVPm D2W ^JOB^I Vfpff]. They therefore simply omitted the 
troublesome words, and went on to translate : on 6 r K7,»a»g rc& kxvtx. 
bcvto; xKYipovoptiot ui/rov. Cf. Niigelsbach, Jeremia u. Babylon, S. 94. 

CHAP. LI. 15-26. 299 

The figure is quite inapplicable to Israel, because " Israel is 
certainly to be delivered through the destruction of Babylon, 
but is not to be himself the instrument of the destruction" 
(Graf). Finally, the employment of the perfect with 1 relative, 
both in connection with the shattering to pieces which God 
accomplishes with (by means of) Babylon, and also the retri- 
bution He will execute on Babylon, is explained by the fact, 
that just as, in prophetic vision, what Babylon does to the 
nations, and what happens to it, was not separated into two 
acts, distinct from one another, but appeared as one continuous 
whole, so also the work of Babylon as the instrument of de- 
struction was not yet finished, but had only begun, and still 
continuing, was partly future, like the retribution which it was 
to receive for its offence against Zion ; just as in ver. 13 Baby- 
lon is viewed as then still in the active exercise of its power ; 
and the purpose for which God employs it, as well as the fate 
that is to befall it, is presented together in something like this 
manner : " O Babylon, who art my hammer with which I break 
peoples and kingdoms in pieces, thee will I requite ! " There 
is separate mention made of the instances of breaking, in a lone 
enumeration, which becomes tedious through the constant repe- 
tition of the verb — something like the enumeration in chap. 1. 
35-38, where, however, the constant repetition of 2^n gives 
great emphasis to the address. First comes the general desig- 
nation, nations and kingdoms ; then military forces ; then (ver. 
25) the inhabitants of the kingdoms, arranged, as in Ezek. xxiii. 
6, 23, according to sex, age, and class, labouring classes (shep- 
herds, and husbandmen with their cattle); and lastly dio-ni- 
taries, satraps and lieutenant-governors, E^pi ninSj as in Ezek. 
xxiii. 6, 23. nna probably comes from the Zendic pavan (root 
pa), of which a dialectic form is pagvan, " upholder of govern- 
ment ;" see on Hag. i. 1. ?3D corresponds to the tydyavq? of 
the Athenians, " lieutenant-governor ;" but it is not much that 
has hitherto been ascertained with regard to this office ; see 
Delitzsch on Isa. xli. 25 [Clark's translation]. On 'W Vi&^0L 
cf. ver. 6 and 1. 15, 29 ; " before your eyes," towards the end 
of this verse, belongs to this verb in the main clause. This 
retribution is set forth in ver. 25 f. under a new figure. Babylon 
is called the " mountain of destruction ;" this name is imrne- 


diately explained by the predicate, " that destroys the whole 
earth," brings destruction on it. The name TVlWBfl "in is ap- 
plied in 2 Kings xxiii. 13 to the Mount of Olives, or its southern 
summit, the so-called mons offensionis vel scandali of eccle- 
siastical tradition, on which Solomon had erected idolatrous 
altars for his foreign wives ; the name refers to the pernicious 
influence thereby exercised on the religious life of Israel. In 
this verse, " destruction " is used in a comprehensive sense of 
the physical and moral ruin which Babylon brought on the 
nations. Babylon is a " mountain," as being a powerful king- 
dom, supereminent above others ; whether there is also a refer- 
ence in the title to its lofty buildings (C. B. Michaelis) seems 
doubtful. " I will roll thee down from the rocks," de petris, 
in quarum fastigiis hucusque eminuisti. Non efferes te amplius 
super alia regna (C. B. Mich.). To this Hitzig adds, by way 
of explanation : " The summit of the mountain is sometimes 
changed into the very position occupied by the crater." From 
what follows, " I will make thee a mountain of burning," i.e. 
either a burning, or burnt, burnt-out mountain, modern ex- 
positors infer, with J. D. Michaelis, that the prophet has before 
his mind a volcano in active eruption, " for no other kind of 
mountains could devastate countries ; it is just volcanoes which 
have been hollowed out by fire that fall in, or, it may be, tumble 
down into the valley below, scattering their constituent elements 
here and there ; the stones of such mountains, too, are com- 
monly so much broken and burnt, that they are of no use for 
building" (Hitzig). Of the above remarks this much is correct, 
that the words, " I will make thee a burning mountain," are 
founded on the conception of a volcano ; any more extended 
application, however, of the figure to the whole verse is un- 
warranted. The clause, " I will roll thee down from the 
rocks," cannot possibly be applied to the action of a volcano in 
eruption (though Nagelsbach does so apply it), unless we are 
ready to impute to the prophet a false notion regarding the 
eruptions of volcanoes. By the eruption, a mountain is not 
loosened from the rock on which it rests, and hurled down into 
the valleys round about ; it is only the heart of the mountain, 
or the rocks on which its summit rests, that seem to be vomited 
out of it. Besides, the notion that there is a representation of 

CHAP. LI. 15-26. 301 

an active volcano in the first clauses of the verse, is disproved 
by the very fact that the mountain, Babylon, does not brino- 
.ruin on the earth, as one that is burning ; it is not to become 
such until after it has been rolled down from the rocks on which 
it rests. The laying waste of the countries is not ascribed to 
the fire that issues from the mountain, but the mountain begins 
to burn only after it has been rolled down from its rocks. 
Babylon, as a kingdom and city, is called a mountain, because 
it mightily surpassed and held sway over them ; cf. Isa. ii. 14. 
It brings ruin on the whole earth by subjugation of the nations 
and devastation of the countries. The mountain rests on rocks, 
i.e. its power has a foundation as firm as a rock, until the Lord 
rolls it down from its height, and burns the strong mountain, 
making it like an extinct volcano, the stones of which, having 
been rendered vitreous by the fire, no longer furnish material 
that can be employed for the foundation of new buildings. "A 
corner-stone," etc., is explained by C. B. Michaelis, after the 
Chaldee, Kimchi, and others, to mean, u no one will appoint a 
king or a prince any more out of the stock of the Chaldeans." 
This is against the context, according to which the point treated 
of is, not the fall of the kingdom in or of Babylon, but the 
destruction of Babylon as a city and kingdom. Hitzig and 
Graf, accordingly, take the meaning to be this : Not a stone of 
the city will be used for a new building, — no one will any more 
build for himself among their ruins, and out of the material 
there. The corner-stone and the foundation (it is further 
asserted) are mentioned by way of example, not because parti- 
cularly large and good stones are needed for these parts, but 
because every house begins with them. But though the follow- 
ing clause, " thou shalt be an everlasting desolation," contains 
this idea, yet this interpretation neither exhausts nor gives a 
generally correct view of the meaning of the words, " no one 
will take from thee a corner-stone or a foundation-stone." The 
burning of the mountain signifies not merely that Babylon was 
to be burned to ashes, but that her sway over the world was to 
be quite at an end ; this was only to come about when the city 
was burnt. When no stone of any value for a new building is 
to be left after this conflagration, this is equivalent to saying 
that nothing will be left of the empire that has been destroyed^ 


which would be of any use in the foundation of another state. 
The last clause also (" for thou shalt be," etc.) refers to more 
than the destruction of the city of Babylon. This is seen even 
in the fundamental passage, xxv. 12, where the same threat is 
uttered against the land of the Chaldeans. 

Vers. 27-37. A summons addressed to the nations to fight 
against Babylon, in order that, by reducing the city, vengeance 
may be taken for the offence committed against Israel by 
Babylon. Ver. 27. " Lift up a standard on the earth, sound 
a trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, 
call the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz against 
her ; appoint troops against her ; bring up horses like horrid 
locusts. Ver. 28. Prepare nations against her, the kings of 
the Medes and her governors, and all her lieutenant-governors, 
and all the land of his dominion. Ver. 29. Then the earth 
quakes and trembles : for the purposes of Jahveh against 
Babylon are being performed, to make the land of Babylon a 
desolation, without an inhabitant. Ver. 30. The heroes of 
Babylon have ceased to fight, they sit in the strongholds : their 
strength is dried up ; they have become women ; they have set 
her habitations on fire; her bars are broken. Ver. 31. One 
runner runs against another, and one messenger against 
another, to tell the king of Babylon that his city is wholly 
taken. Ver. 32. And the crossing-places have been seized, 
and the marshes have they burned up with fire, and the men 
of war are confounded. Ver. 33. For thus saith Jahveh of 
hosts, the God of Israel : The daughter of Babylon is like a 
threshing-floor at the time when it' is trodden ; yet a little, and 
the time of harvest will come to her. Ver. 34. Nebuchad- 
nezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured us, and ground us 
down ; he hath set us down [like] an empty vessel, he hath 
swallowed us like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my 
dainties ; he hath thrust me out. Ver. 35. Let the inhabitress 
of Zion say, ' My wrong and my flesh [be] upon Babylon ; ' and 
let Jerusalem say, 'My blood be upon the inhabitants of 
Chaldea.' Ver. 36. Therefore thus saith Jahveh: Behold, I 
will plead thy cause, and execute vengeance for thee ; and I 
will dry up her sea, and make her fountain dry. Ver. 37. 
And Babylon shall become heaps [of ruins], a dwelling-place 

CHAP. LI. 27-37. 303 

of dragons, an astonishment, and a hissing, without an in- 

The lifting up of the standard (ver. 27) serves as a signal 
for the nations to assemble for the struggle against Babylon. 
piKS does not mean "in the land," but, as the parallel "among 
the nations" shows, "on the earth." ^?., "consecrate [pre- 
pare] against her (Babylon) nations " for the war ; cf . vi. 4, 
xxii. 7. WQWi], as in 1. 29. The kingdoms summoned are : 
Ararat, i.e. the middle (or eastern) province of Armenia, in the 
plain of Araxes, which Moses of Chorene calls Arairad, Araratia 
(see on Gen. viii. 4) ; Minni, which, according to the Syriac 
and Chaldee, is also a name of Armenia, probably its western 
province (see Gesenius' Thesaurus, p. 807) ; and Ashkenaz, 
which the Jews take to be Germany, although only this much 
is certain, that it is a province in the neighbourhood of Armenia. 
For Asken is an Armenian proper name, and az an Armenian 
termination; cf. Lagarde's Gesammelte Abhandll. S. 254, and 
Delitzsch on Gen. x. 3, 4th ed. HpB, " appoint, order against 
her." iDDtp does not mean " captains " or leaders, for this 
meaning of the foreign w r ord (supposed to be Assyrian) rests 
on a very uncertain etymology; it means some peculiar kind 
of troops, but nothing more definite can be affirmed regarding 
it. This meaning is required by the context both here and 
in Nah. iii. 17, the only other place where the word occurs : 
see on that passage. The sing. IDBtp corresponds with the 
sing. D^iD, and is therefore to be taken collectively, " troops 
and horses." Whether the simile 10D p^3 belongs merely to 
" horses," or to the combination " troops and horses," depends 
on the meaning attached to the expression. Modern expositors 
render it " bristly locusts ; " and by that they understand, like 
Credner (Joel, S. 298), the young grasshopper after it has laid 
aside its third skin, when the wings are still enveloped in rough 
horny sheaths, and stick straight up from the back of the 
animal. But this explanation rests on an erroneous interpre- 
tation of Nah. iii. 17. "i£D means to shudder, and is used of 
the shivering or quivering of the body (Ps. cxix. 120), and of 
the hair (Job iv. 15) ; and ??. does not mean a particular kind 
of locusts, though Jerome, on Nah. iii. 17, renders it attelabus 
(parva locusta est inter iGCiistam et bruchum, et modicis pennis 


reptans potius quam volans, semperque subsiliens), but is a poetic 

epithet of the locust, " the devourer." If any one prefers to 

view "i£D as referring to the nature of the locusts, he may, with. 

Bochart and Rosenmiiller, think of the locustarum species, quce 

habet caput hirsutum. But the epithet u horrid " is probably 

intended merely to point out the locusts as a fearful scourge 

of the country. On this view, the comparison refers to both 

clauses, and is meant to set forth not merely the enormous 

multitude of the soldiery, but also the devastation they make of 

the country. In ver. 28 mention is further made of the kings 

of the Medes (see on ver. 11), together with their governors 

and lieutenant-governors (see on ver. 23), and, in order to give 

prominence to the immense strength of the army, of " all the 

land of his dominion ; " on these expressions, cf . xxxiv. 1 and 

1 Kings ix. 19. The suffix refers to the king of Media, as the 

leader of the whole army ; while those in " her governors, and 

all her lieutenant-governors," refer to the country of Media. — 

Ver. 29 f . On the advance of this mighty host against Babylon, 

to execute the judgment determined by the Lord, the earth 

quakes. The mighty men of Babylon cease to offer resistance, 

and withdraw dispirited, like women, into inaccessible places, 

while the enemy sets fire to the houses, breaks the bars, and 

captures the city. The prophet views all this in spirit as already 

present, and depicts in lively colours the attack on the city and 

its capture. Hence the historic tenses, Pjn™, ^' n ^1, ^"Jf?, etc. 

n»i? is used of the permanence, i.e. of the realization of the 

divine counsels, as in xliv. 23 f. On the singular, see Ewald, 

§ 317, a. " To make the land," etc., as in iv. 7, xviii. 16, etc. 

" They sit (have taken up their position) in the strongholds " 

(mountain fastnesses), i.e. in inaccessible places ; cf. 1 Sam. 

xiii. 16, 2 Sam. xxiii. 14. nn^J is but to be regarded as a 

Kal form from ABO ; on its derivation from nrilp, see on Isa. 

xli. 17. "They have become women ;" cf. 1. 37. The subject 

of the verb tfPSfn is the enemy, who set fire to the dwellings in 

Babylon. "Runner runs against runner," i.e. from opposite 

sides of the city there come messengers, who meet each other 

running to tell the king in his castle that the city is taken. 

The king is therefore (as Graf correctly remarks against 

Hitzig) not to be thought of as living outside of the city, for 

CHAP. LI. 27-37. 305 

"in this case rifcOp? would have no meaning," but as living in 
the royal castle, which was situated in the middle of the city, 
on the Euphrates. Inasmuch as the city is taken " from the 
end" ( n )?!?P), i.e. on all sides, the messengers who bring the 
news to the king's fortress must meet each other. — Ver. 32 
permits of being taken as a continuation of the message brought 
to the king. rrt"BJJD, " crossing - places," do not here mean 
" fords " (Judg. iii. 28) ; for such shallow places, where one 
could go through the river, are not to be found in the Euphrates 
at Babylon : they mean bridges and ferries, because, in addition 
to the stone bridge built by Nebuchadnezzar (Herodotus, i. 186 ; 
see Duncker's Geschichte, i. S. 859), there must also have been 
at Babylon, throughout its large extent, other means of cross- 
ing, either by bridges of boats or ferries. ^'sn?> " they have 
been taken," seized by the enemy ; cf. xlviii. 41. D^JN are 
ponds and artificial lakes which had been formed for the pro- 
tection of the city, of the waters of the Euphrates (Herodotus, 
i. 185 ; Arrian, vii. 17) ; these u they have burned with fire." 
Inasmuch as a burning of ponds is an impossibility, many, with 
Kimchi, would understand WDM of the reeds of the marshes. 
But the word has no such meaning ; moreover, even if it had, 
the burning of the reeds would have no significance for the 
taking of the city. Others think of the sluices and the en- 
closures of the artificial waters, which enclosures were con- 
structed of wood-work ; but apart from the basin of water at 
Sepharvaim, which could be opened by sluices, the enclosure 
of the ponds with wood-work is a matter of much doubt, and a 
burning of the wood-work is not a burning of the ponds. The 
expression, as Calvin long ago remarked, is hyperbolic, and 
not to be pressed: Propheta hyperbolice ostendit, siccata fuisse 
vada Euphratis ac si quis lignum exureret igni supposito ; hoc 
quidem aquis non convenit, sed hyperbolice melius exprimit mira- 
culum. On the whole, the picture is not to be taken as a 
description of the historical circumstances connected with the 
taking of Babylon by Cyrus ; neither, therefore, is the burning 
of the ponds to be referred to the fact that the bed of the 
Euphrates was made dry through diversion of the stream 
(Herodotus, i. 191); but we have here a poetic colouring given 
to the thought that all Babylon's means of offence and defence 


will fall into the power of the enemy and be destroyed by them. 
For (according to the reason assigned in ver. 33 for what has 
been described) the Almighty God of Israel has decreed the 
destruction of Babylon. " The daughter of Babylon (i.e. not 
merely the city, but the kingdom of Babylon) is like a threshing- 
floor at the time when they tread it," i.e. stamp on it, make 
the ground into a threshing-floor by treading it hard. 1 i^T!? 
might be the infinitive (Ewald, § 238, d) : it is simpler, however, 
to take it as a perfect, and supply the relative "IKW. The mean- 
ing is, that Babylon is ripe for judgment. tiya "ity, " yet a 
little while " (i.e. soon), comes the time of harvest, so that the 
grain will be threshed, i.e. the judgment will be executed. 
The figure reminds us of Isa. xxi. 10, cf. Joel iv. 13, Mic. 
iv. 15, etc. — Ver. 34 f. This judgment comes on Babylon for 
its offences against Israel. The king of Babylon has devoured 
Israel, etc. Those who complain, in ver. 34, are the inhabit- 
ants of Judah and Jerusalem, in whose name the prophet 
enumerates the crimes of Babylon. " Nebuchadnezzar has 
devoured us," i.e. oppressed us. The plural suffixes to the verbs 
have been needlessly changed in the Qeri into singulars, for 
the simple reason, perhaps, that with ^Vip and in ver. 35 the 
address makes a transition into the singular. 0»n signifies to 

O -to 

throw enemies into confusion by causing a panic, for the pur- 
pose of destroying them; hence to destroy, see on Deut. ii. 15 ; 
here to destroy, crush. " He set us down like an empty vessel " 
refers to the country and the people ; he has swept the country 
of human beings, and robbed the people of everything. pan, 
usually a sea-monster, crocodile (Isa. xxvii. 1, li. 9, etc.) ; here 
a beast of prey which devours everything. E" 1 ?"]^? " delights," 
then " dainty meats," Gen. xlix. 20. 2 nvjn, from HYn, signifies 
to wash away, push away (see Delitzsch on Isa. iv. 4) ; in other 

1 " The threshing-floor is an open spot in the field, carefully levelled and 
cleared from stones, etc., that the grain may be spread out on it for thresh- 
ing." — Paulsen, Ackerbau der Morgenl. S. 123. " A level spot is selected 
for the threshing-floors, which are then constructed near each other, of a 
circular form, perhaps fifty feet in diameter, merely by beating the earth 
hard."— Robinson's Pal. ii. 227. 

2 The form actually found in the Masoretic text is '•yiyio " from (out of, 

with) my dainties." — Tr. 

CHAP. LI. 38-49. 307 

places Jeremiah uses n^n ? viii. 3, xvi. 15, etc. "Let my 
wrong (i.e. the wrong done me) come upon Babylon." This 
wrong is more fully specified, with reference to the figure of 
swallowing, by " my flesh and blood ; " cf. Mic. iii. 3. The 
Lord will avenge this wrong, ver. 36, cf. 1. 34, li. 6, 11; He 
will also dry up the sea of Babylon, and make her sprino- dry 
up. Many expositors understand these latter words meta- 
phorically, as referring to the sea of nations surging in Babylon 
(vers. 42, 55), and view the treasures and riches as the fountain 
from which the sea of nations sprang up (Hitzig) ; but the 
context demands a literal interpretation, inasmuch as in ver. 
37 the subject treated of is the laying waste of the country. 
The sea of Babylon is the Euphrates, with its canals, lakes, 
and marshes, i.e. the abundance of water to which Babylonia 
owed its fertility, and the city its influence as the centre of the 
then known world. Isaiah (xxi. 1) accordingly calls Babylon, 
emblematically, the desert of the sea, inasmuch as the region 
in which Babylon stands is a plain, broken in such a manner 
by the Euphrates, as well as by marshes and lakes, as that the 
city, so to speak, swims in the sea (Delitzsch). The source or 
spring of the sea is the Euphrates, and the drying up of this 
spring is not to be understood literally of the drying up of the 
Euphrates, but signifies a drying up of the springs of water 
that fertilize the country. On the figures employed in ver. 37, 
cf. ix. 10, xviii. 16, xlix. 33. 

Vers. 38-49. The inhabitants of Babylon fall ; the city 
perishes with its idols, to the joy of the whole world. — Ver. 38. 
" Together they roar like young lions, they growl like the whelps 
of lionesses. Ver. 39. When they are heated, I will prepare 
their banquets, and will make them drunk, that they may exult 
and sleep an eternal sleep, and not awake, saith Jahveh. Ver. 
40. I will bring them down like lambs to be slaughtered, like 
rams with he-goats. Ver. 41. How is Sheshach taken, and the 
praise of the whole earth seized ! How Babylon is become an 
astonishment among the nations ! Ver. 42. The sea has gone 
up over Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of its 
waves. Ver. 43. Her cities have become a desolation, a land 
of drought, and a steppe, a land wherein no man dwells, and 
through which no son of man passes. Ver. 44. And I will 


punish Bel in Babylon, and will bring out of his mouth what 
he has swallowed, and no longer shall nations go in streams 
to him : the wall of Babylon also shall fall. Ver. 45. Go ye 
out from the midst of her, my people ! and save ye each one 
his life from the burning of the wrath of Jahveh. Ver. 46. 
And lest your heart be weak, and ye be afraid because of 
the report which is heard in the land, and there comes the 
[=this] report in the [=rthis] year, and afterwards in the 
[ = that] year the [ = that] report, and violence in the land, 
ruler against ruler. Ver. 47. Therefore, behold, days are 
coming when I will punish the graven images of Babylon ; and 
her whole land shall dry up, 1 and all her slain ones shall fall in 
her midst. Ver. 48. And heaven and earth, and all that is in 
them, shall sing for joy over Babylon : for the destroyers shall 
come to her from the north, saith Jahveh. Ver. 49. As 
Babylon sought that slain ones of Israel should fall, so there 
fall, in behalf of Babylon, slain ones of the whole earth." 

This avenging judgment shall come on the inhabitants of 
Babylon in the midst of their revelry. Ver. 38. They roar 
and growl like young lions over their prey; cf. ii. 15, Amos 
iii. 4. When, in their revelries, they will be heated over their 
prey, the Lord will prepare for them a banquet by which they 
shall become intoxicated, so that they sink down, exulting {i.e. 
staggering while they shout), into an eternal sleep of death. 
Dan, " their heat," or heating, is the glow felt in gluttony and 
revelry, cf. Hos. vii. 4 f., not specially the result or effect of a 
drinking-bout; and the idea is not that, when they become 
heated through a banquet, then the Lord will prepare another 
one for them, but merely this, that in the midst of their revelry 
the Lord will prepare for them the meal they deserve, viz. 
give them the cup of wrath to drink, so that they may fall 
down intoxicated into eternal sleep, from which they no more 
awake. These words are certainly not a special prediction 
of the fact mentioned by Herodotus (i. 191) and Xenophon 
(Ci/rop. vii. 23), that Cyrus took Babylon while the Babylonians 
were celebrating a feast and holding a banquet; they are 
merely a figurative dress given to the thought that the inhabit- 
ants of Babylon will be surprised by the judgment of death 
1 Bather, " shall be ashamed ; " see note at foot of p. 311.— Tit. 

CHAP. LI. 38-49. 300 

in the midst of their riotous enjoyment of the riches and 
treasures taken as spoil from the nations. In that fact, how- 
ever, this utterance has received a fulfilment which manifestly 
confirms the infallibility of the word of God. In ver. 40, what 
has been said is confirmed by another figure ; cf. xlviii. 5 and 
I. 27. Lambs, rams, goats, are emblems of all the classes of 
the people of Israel ; cf. Isa. xxxiv. 6, Ezek. xxxix. 18. — Ver. 
41 ff. The fearful destruction of Babylon will astonish the 
world. — Ver. 41 is an exclamation of astonishment regarding 
the conquest of the city which was praised throughout the 
world. As to V$#, see on ver. 1 and xxv. 26. n^nri, "praise," 
is here used for " a subject of praise and fame ; " cf. xlix. 25. 
— Ver. 42 f. Description of the fall. The sea that has come 
over Babylon and covered it with its waves, was taken figura- 
tively, even by the Chaldee paraphrasts, and understood as 
meaning the hostile army that overwhelms the land with its 
hosts. Only J. D. Michaelis was inclined to take the w r ords 
in their proper meaning, and understood them as referring to 
the inundation of Babylon by the Euphrates in August and in 
winter. But however true it may be, that, in consequence of 
the destruction or decay of the great river-walls built by Nebu- 
chadnezzar, the Euphrates may inundate the city of Babylon 
when it swells into a flood, yet the literal acceptation of the 
words is unwarranted, for the simple reason that they do not 
speak of any momentary or temporary inundation, and that, 
because Babylon is to be covered with water, the cities of 
Babylonia are to become an arid steppe. The sea is therefore 
the sea of nations, cf. xlvi. 7 ; the description reminds us of the 
destruction of Pharaoh and his host in the Eed Sea. On ver. 
43, cf. xlviii. 9, xlix. 18, 33 f., 1. 12. The suffix in jna refers to 
"her cities;" but the repetition of ^ is not for that reason 
wrong, as Graf thinks, but is to be explained on the ground that 
the cities of Babylonia are compared to a barren land; and the 
idea is properly this: The cities become an arid country of 
steppes, a land in whose cities nobody can dwell. — Ver. 44. 
With the conquest of Babylon, Bel, the chief deity of the 
Babylonians (see on 1. 2), is punished ; and not only is his prey 
torn from him, but his fame also, which attracted the nations, 
is destroyed. Under the prey which Bel has swallowed, and 



which is to be torn out of his mouth, we must include not 
merely the sacred vessels which had been deposited in the 
temple of Belus (Dan. i. 3), and the voluntary offerings pre- 
sented him (Hitzig), but all the property which Babylon had 
taken as spoil from the nations ; and the nations themselves, 
with life and property, Babylon has swallowed (see 34 and 
1. 17). All this is now to be torn out of his jaws. Bel falls 
with the fall of Babylon (cf. Isa. xlvi. 1), so that nations no 
longer come in streams to him, to dedicate their goods and 
treasures to him. The description ends with the sentence, 
" the wall of Babylon also is fallen," which Hitzig and Graf 
wrongly suspect, on the ground that it is insipid. Ewald, on 
the contrary, perceives in the very same expression a brief and 
emphatic conclusion ; because the famous wall of Babylon, 
strong in every part, was the main defence of this great city of 
the world. For explaining this sentence, therefore, it is un- 
necessary to assume that the walls of Babylon seem to have 
been regarded as sacred to Bel, as Nagelsbach is inclined to 
infer from the names which are said to be given to these walls 
in an inscription translated by Oppert. 1 — Ver. 45 f. Since 
Babylon will be punished by the Lord with destruction, the 
people of God are to flee out of it, and to preserve their lives 
from the fierce anger of Jahveh, which will discharge itself on 
Babylon. *)K jnn, as in iv. 8, 26, etc.— Ver. 46. Yet they are 
not to despair when the catastrophe draws near, and all kinds 
of rumours of war and oppression are abroad. The repetition 
of nift£E>n expresses the correlative relation, — this and that 
report; cf. Ewald, § 360, c. The suffix in Vnnx has a neuter 
sense ; the word means " afterwards " (== rusT ^0*?, Job xlii. 
16). ^K3 Dnni is also to be taken as dependent, grammati- 
cally, on N31 : " and when a deed of violence is committed in 
the land, one ruler (rises up) against the other." These words 

1 Cf. J. Oppert, Expedition en Mesopot. i. p. 227, where, on the strength 
of an inscription of Assarhaddon, which is read, " Imgur-Bel is its (Baby- 
lon's) chief wall, Ninivitti-Bel its rampart," the expressions found in the 
inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar before the mention of the walls — viz. 
"Imgur-Bel" (may Bel - Dagon protect him) and "Ninivitti-Bel" (the 
abode of Bel) — have been explained by Rawlinson and Oppert as names of 
the first and second lines of fortification round Babylon. 

CHAP. LI. 38-49. 311 

presuppose not merely a pretty long duration of the war, but 
also rebellion and revolution, through which Babylon is to go 
to ruin. In this sense they are employed by Christ for de- 
scribing the wars and risings that are to precede His advent ; 
Matt. xxiv. 6, Mark xiii. 7, Luke xxi. 9. — Ver. 47. Therefore, 
viz. because what has been stated above will happen, or because 
the events mentioned in ver. 46 are harbingers of the judg- 
ment on Babylon, — therefore days are coming when God shall 
execute judgment on the idols of Babylon, and dry up the 
land 1 (cf. ver. 43), and all her slain ones, i.e. all her inhabit- 
ants shall fall down, slain in the midst of her. CXS W nan p? 
11 Therefore, behold, days are coming," is a formula very fre- 
quently found in Jeremiah ; cf. vii. 32, xvi. 14, xix. 6, xxiii. 
7, etc. — Ver. 48. Heaven and earth, with all that is in them 
(i.e. the whole world, with its animate and inanimate creatures), 
break out into rejoicing over the fall of Babylon (cf. Isa. xliv. 
23), for Babylon has enslaved and laid waste all the world. 
The second part of ver. 48, " for the destroyers shall come 
from the north," is logically connected with ver. 47, to which 
ver. 48a is to be taken as subordinate, in the sense, " over 
which heaven and earth rejoice." On ver. 48&, cf. 1. 3, 9, 41. 
Both parts of ver. 49 are placed in mutual relation by Qa — D3. 
These two particles, thus used, signify " as well as," " not only 
. . . but also." or " as . . . so." Ewald, Hitzirr, and Graf 
have quite missed the meaning of both clauses, since they take 
'$"$) Y?Q as a vocative, and render the whole thus : " Not only 
must Babylon fall, O ye slain ones of Israel, but slain ones of 
the whole earth have fallen on the side of Babylon (or through 
Babylon)." This view of the expression " slain ones of Israel " 
cannot be established, either from grammatical considerations 
or from a regard to the meaning of the whole. Not only is 
there no occasion for a direct address to the slain ones of Israel ; 
but by such a view of the expression, the antithesis indicated 
by D3 — D3, between " the slain ones of Israel " and " the slain 
ones of the earth," is thereby destroyed. Viewed grammati- 

1 Kcil has here misread the Hebrew text, which runs t*>'i3fi FRf"lfcT?3. 

The verb does not come from wy to become dry, but from E^3, to be 

ashamed; hence the correct rendering is, " all her land shall be ashamed," 
not " shall be dried up." — Tk. 


cally, " the slain ones of Israel " can only be the subject de- 
pendent on the inf. ^5?? '• " the fall of the slain ones of Israel." 
Kimchi has long ago hit the meaning in the explanation, 
?b:? DSD nrvn 722 D3, " as Babylon was the cause of the slain 
ones of Israel falling." Similarly Jerome : et quomodo fecit 
Babylon ut caderent occisi ex Israel. This paraphrase may be 
vindicated on grammatical grounds, for the inf. constr. with ?, 
with or without rvn ? is used to express that on which one is 
engaged, or what one is on the point of doing; cf. Gesenius, 
§ 132, 3, Rem. 1. In this meaning, ?B?? stands here without 
TVJ} : " as Babylon was concerned in making the slain ones of 
Israel fall ; " or better : " Just as Babylon was intent on the fall 
of slain ones in Israel, so also there fall because of Babylon 
(prop, dative, for Babylon) slain ones of all the earth ;" because 
there are to be found, in the capital of the empire, people from 
all quarters of the world, who are slain when Babylon is con- 
quered. The perf. 17S3 is prophetic, like ^1i?3 in ver. 47. 

Vers. 50-58. Final summing up of the offence and the 
punishment of Babylon. Ver. 50. " Ye who have escaped 
the sword, depart, do not stay ! remember Jahveh from afar, 
and let Jerusalem come into your mind. Ver. 51. We were 
ashamed, because we heard reproach ; shame hath covered our 
face, for strangers have come into the holy places of the house 
of Jahveh. Ver. 52. Therefore, behold, days are coming, saith 
Jahveh, when I will take vengeance on her graven images ; 
and through all her land shall the wounded groan. Ver. 53. 
Though Babylon ascended to heaven, and fortified the height 
of her strength, yet from me there shall come destroyers to 
her, saith Jahveh. Ver. 54. The noise of a cry [comes] from 
Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans. 
Ver. 55. For Jahveh lays waste Babylon, and destroys out of 
her the great noise ; and her waves sound like many waters : 
a noise of their voice is uttered. Ver. 56. For there comes 
against her, against Babylon, a destroyer, and her heroes are 
taken ; each one of their bows is broken : for Jahveh is a God 
of retributions, He shall certainly recompense. Ver. 57. And 
I will make drunk her princes and her wise men, her governors 
and her lieutenant-governors, and her heroes, so that they shall 
sleep an eternal sleep, and not awake, saith the King, whose 

CHAP. LI. 50-58. 313 

name is Jahveh of hosts. Ver. 58. Thus saith Jahveh of 
hosts : The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly destroyed, 
and her high gates shall be burned with fire, so that nations 
toil for nothing, and peoples for the fire, and thus are 

Once more there is addressed to Israel the call to return 
immediately; cf. ver. 45 and 1. 8. The designation, "those 
who have escaped from the sword," is occasioned by the men- 
tion in ver. 49 of those who are slain : it is not to be explained 
(with Nagelsbach) from the circumstance that the prophet sees 
before him the massacre of the Babylonians as something that 
has already taken place. This view of the matter agrees 
neither with what precedes nor what follows, where the punish- 
ment of Babylon is set forth as yet to come. It is those who 
have escaped from the sword of Babylon during the exercise 
of its sway that are meant, not those who remain, spared in 
the conquest of Babylon. They are to go, not to stand or 
linger on the road, lest they be overtaken, with others, by the 
judgment falling upon Babylon; they are also to remember, 
from afar, Jahveh the faithful covenant God, and Jerusalem, 
that they may hasten their return. *Q?n is a form of the im- 
perative from Spri ; it occurs only here, and has probably been 
chosen instead of »?, because this form, in the actual use of 
language, had gradually lost its full meaning, and become 
softened down to a mere interjection, while emphasis is here 
placed on the going. After the call there follows, in ver. 51, 
the complaint, " We have lived to see the dishonour caused by 
the desecration of our sanctuary." This complaint does not 
permit of being taken as an answer or objection on the part of 
those who are summoned to return, somewhat in this spirit : 
' What is the good of our remembering Jahveh and Jerusalem ? 
Truly we have thence a remembrance only of the deepest shame 
and dishonour " (Nagelsbach). Such an objection the prophet 
certainly would have answered with a reproof for the want or 
weakness of faith. Ewald accordingly takes ver. 51 as con- 
taining " a confession which the exiles make in tears, and filled 
with shame, regarding the previous state of dishonour in which 
they themselves, as well as the holy place, have been." On this 
view, those who are exhorted to return encourage themselves 


by this confession and prayer to zeal in returning; and it 
would be necessary to supply dicite before ver. 51, and to take 
WB>3 as meaning, " We are ashamed because we have heard 
scoffing, and because enemies have come into the holy places 
of Jahveh's house." But they might have felt no shame on 
account of this dishonour that befell them. t^3 signifies merely 
to be ashamed in consequence of the frustration of some hope, 
not the shame of repentance felt on doing wrong. Hence, with 
Calvin and others, we must take the words of ver. 51 as a 
scruple which the prophet expresses in the name of the people 
against the summons to remember Jahveh and Jerusalem, that 
he may remove the objection. The meaning is thus something 
like the following : " We may say, indeed, that disgrace has 
been imposed on us, for we have experienced insult and dis- 
honour ; but in return for this, Babylon will now be laid waste 
and destroyed." The plural CBHp&n denotes the different holy 
places of the temple, as in Ps. Ixviii. 36. The answer which 
settles this objection is introduced, ver. 52, by the formula, 
"Therefore, behold, days are coming," which connects itself 
with the contents of ver. 51 : " Therefore, because we were 
obliged to listen to scoffing, and barbarians have forced their 
way into the holy places of the house of our God, — therefore 
will Jahveh punish Babylon for these crimes." The suffixes in 
IT'T'pQ and n^HN refer to Babylon. ??n is used in undefined 
generality, " slain, pierced through." — Ver. 53. Babylon shall 
by no means escape punishment. Even though it mounted 
up to heaven (cf. Job xx. 6 ; there may, at the same time, be 
an allusion to Isa. xiv. 12, and possibly also to the tower 
at Babylon), and "i?pn, " cut off (i.e. made inaccessible) the 
height of its strength," i.e. the height in which its strength 
consists, its lofty wall of defence (probably an allusion to the 
lofty walls of Babylon ; see on ver. 58), yet destroyers are to 
come against it from Jahveh. — Ver. 54. The prophet in the 
spirit sees these destroyers as already come. A cry of anguish 
proceeds from Babylon, and great destruction ; cf. 1. 22, 46, 
and xlviii. 3. For (ver. 55) Jahveh lays waste Babylon, and 
destroys out of her ?il2 Tip, properly " the loud voice," i.e. the 
loud noise and bustle of the city. " Their waves," i.e. the 
surging masses of the conquering army, roar like many or great 

CHAP. LI. 50-58. 315 

waters; cf. Isa. xvii. 12. ch\p tffcH? JFIJ, lit. "there is given" 
(i.e. there sounds) " the noise of their voice," i.e. of the roaring 
of their waves. " For there comes on Babylon a destroyer, so 
that her heroes are made prisoners, and her bows (by synec- 
doche for weapons) broken in pieces." The Piel nnrin has 
here an intransitive sense, u to break or shiver into pieces," like 
HAS) Isa. xlviii. 8, lx. 11. This must take place, for Jahveh is 
a God of retribution ; cf. ver. 24. This retribution He will 
execute in such a way as to make the princes, wise men, rulers, 
and heroes of Babylon sink down into an eternal sleep, by 
presenting to them the cup of wrath. On "W?^? and '131 Vp% 
cf. ver. 39. On the enumeration of the different classes of 
leaders and supporters of the state, cf. ver. 23 and 1. 35 ; and 
on the designation of Jahveh as King, xlviii. 15, with the 
remark there made. — Ver. 58. And not only are the defenders 
of the city to fall, but the strong ramparts also, the broad walls 
and the lofty towers, are to be destroyed. The adjective '"^rnn 
is joined in the singular with the plural rrioh, because the com- 
plex notion of the walls of Babylon, denoted by the latter 
•word, is viewed as a unity; cf. Ewald, § 318. "njJ. in Hith- 
pael, means " to be made bare," i.e. to be destroyed down to 
the ground ; the inf. abs. Pilel is added to intensify the ex- 
pression. Regarding the height and breadth and the extent 
of the walls of Babylon, cf. the collection of notices by the old 
writers in Duncker's Gesch. des Alt. i. S. 856 ff. According to 
Herodotus (i. 178 f.), they were fifty ells ["royal cubits," or 
nearly 85 feet] thick, and 200 ells [337^ feet] high ; Ctesias 
assigns them a height of 300 feet, Strabo that of 50 ells [cubits, 
or 75 feet], and a breadth of 32 feet. On this Duncker remarks: 
" The height and breadth which Herodotus gives to the walls 
are no doubt exaggerated. Since the wall of Media, the first 
line of defence for the country, had a height of 100 feet and 
a breadth of 20 feet, and since Xenophon saw in Nineveh 
walls 150 feet in height, we shall be able with some decree of 
certainty to assume, in accordance with the statement of Pliny 
(vi. 26), that the wall of Babylon must have had a height of 
200 feet above the ditch, and a proportionate breadth of from 
30 to 40 feet. This breadth would be sufficient to permit of 
teams of four being driven along the rampart, between the 


battlements, as Herodotus and Strabo inform us, without 
touching, just as the rampart on the walls of Nineveh is said 
to have afforded room for three chariots." 1 The gates leading 
into the city were, according to Herodotus, I.e., provided with 
beautifully ornamented gateways ; the posts, the two leaves 
of the gates, and the thresholds, were of bronze. The pro- 
phecy concludes, ver. 585, with some words from Hab. ii. 
13, which are to be verified by the destruction of Babylon, 
viz. that the nations which have built Babylon, and made it 
great, have laboured in vain, and only wearied themselves. 
Habakkuk probably does not give this truth as a quotation 
from an older prophet, but rather declares it as an ordinance of 
God, that those who build cities with blood, and strongholds 
with unrighteousness, make nations toil to supply food for fire. 
Jeremiah has made use of the passage as a suitable conclusion 
to his prophecy, but made some unimportant alterations ; for 
he has transposed the words E'S *}3 and p" 1 ") ^S, and changed 
1£J?1 into iBJTij that he may conclude his address with greater 
emphasis. For, according to the arrangement here, CEO 
E>ip;n still depends on tyjM, and ^3JH indicates the result of. 
this toil for the enslaved nations, — they only weary themselves 
thereby. The genuineness of this reading is put beyond a 
doubt by the repetition of ^V\\ at the close of the epilogue in 
ver. 64. What Habakkuk said generally of the undertakings 

1 For details as to the number of the walls, and statistics regarding them, 
see Duncker, S. 858, Anm. 3, who is inclined to understand the notice of 
Berosus regarding a triple wall as meaning that the walls of the river are 
counted as the second, and those round the royal fortress as the third line 
of circumvallation. J. Oppert, Exped. en Me'sop. i. p. 220 ff., has given a 
thorough discussion of this question. By carefully comparing the accounts 
of the ancient writers regarding the walls of Babylon, and those given in 
the inscriptions, lately discovered and deciphered, found on the buildings 
of Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar, with the vast extent of the long 
mounds of rubbish on the places where the ruins are met with, he has 
obtained this result, — that the city was surrounded by a strong double wall 
with deep ditches, an outer and an inner enceinte, and that the outer or 
large wall enclosed a space of 513 square kilometres, i.e. a piece of ground 
as large as the department of the Seine, fifteen times the extent of the city 
of Paris in the year 1859, seven times that of the same city in 1860, while 
the second or inner wall enclosed an area of 290 square kilometres, much 
larger than the space occupied by London. 

CHAP. LI. 59-64. 317 

of the Chaldeans, Jeremiah applied specially to the fall of the 
city of Babylon, because it was to exhibit its fulfilment most 
plainly in that event. 

Vers. 59-64. Epilogue. — Ver. 59. "The word which Jeremiah 
the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Nerijah, the son of 
Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to 
Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign. Now Seraiah was 
'quartermaster-general' " (Ger. Reisemarschall). 1 Seraiah the 
son of Nerijah was, no doubt, a brother of Baruch the son of 
Nerijah; cf. xxxii. 12. nrMB ~\w does not mean "a peaceful 
prince " (Luther), [" a quiet prince," English Version], but 
"prince of the resting-place" (cf. Num. x. 33), i.e. the king's 
"quartermaster-general." What Jeremiah commanded Seraiah, 
or charged him with, does not follow till ver. 61 ; for the words 
of ver. 60, " And Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that 
was to come on Babylon, [namely] all these words which are 
written against Babylon" (in the preceding address, chap. 1. 
and li.), form a parenthetic remark, inserted for the purpose of 
explaining the charge that follows. This remark is attached 
to the circumstantial clause at the end of ver. 59, after which 
" the word which he commanded " is not resumed till ver. 61, 
with the words, "and Jeremiah spake to Seraiah;" and the 
charge itself is given in vers. 615-64 : "When thou comest to 
Babylon, then see to it, and read all these words, and say, O 
Jahveh, Thou hast spoken against this place, to destroy it, so 
that there shall be no inhabitant in it, neither man nor beast, 
but it shall be eternal desolations. And it shall be, when thou 
hast finished reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to 
it, and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates (ver. 64), and say, 
Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise again, because of 
the evil that I bring upon her ; and they shall be weary." 

1 The Pesbito renders nnijjp "lb by " cbief of the camp," evidently reading 

nsno. Gesenius, following in this line, thought that Seraiah held an 

office in the Babylonian army similar to that of quartermaster-general. 
It is evident, however, that he was rather an officer of the Jewish court in 
attendance on the king. Maurer, who is followed by Ilitzig, and here 
by Keil, in his rendering " Reisemarschall" suggested the idea that he was a 
functionary who took charge of the royal caravan when on the march, and 
fixed the halting-place. — Tfi. 


bl2 sjNba does not mean, "when thou shalt have got near 
Babylon, so that thou beholdest the city lying in its full extent 
before thee" (Hitzig), but, according to the simple tenor of 
the words, " when thou shalt have come into the city." The 
former interpretation is based on the erroneous supposition that 
Seraiah had not been able to read the prophecy in the city, 
from fear of being called to account for this by the Babylonians. 
But it is nowhere stated that he was to read it publicly to the 
Babylonians themselves in an assembly of the people expressly- 
convened for this purpose, but merely that he is to read it, and 
afterwards throw the book into the Euphrates. The reading 
was not intended to warn the Babylonians of the destruction 
threatened them, but was merely to be a proclamation of the 
word of the Lord against Babylon, on the very spot, for the 
purpose of connecting with it the symbolic action mentioned in 
ver. 63 f . IVtnl does not belong to ^33 (" when thou comest 
to Babylon, and seest"), but introduces the apodosis, "then see 
to it, and read," i.e. keep it in your eye, in your mind, that you 
read (cf. Gen. xx. 10) ; not, " seek a good opportunity for 
reading" (Ewald). At the same time, Seraiah is to cry to 
God that He has said He will bring this evil on Babylon, i.e. 
as it were to remind God that the words of the prophecy are 
His own words, which He has to fulfil. On the contents of 
ver. 62, cf. 1. 3, li. 26. After the reading is finished, he is to 
bind the book to a stone, by means of which to sink it in 
the Euphrates, uttering the words explanatory of this action, 
"Thus shall Babylon sink," etc. This was to be done, not 
for the purpose of destroying the book (which certainly took 
place, but was not the object for which it was sunk), but in 
order to symbolize the fulfilment of the prophecy against 
Babylon. The attachment of the stone was not a precautionary 
measure to prevent the writing from being picked up some- 
where, and thus bringing the writer or the people of the 
caravan into trouble (Hitzig), but was merely intended to 
make sure that the book would sink down into the depths of 
the Euphrates, and render it impossible that it should rise 
again to the surface, thus indicating by symbol that Babylon 
would not rise again. The words which Seraiah is to speak on 
throwing the book into the Euphrates, contain, in mice, the 

CHAP. LI. 59-G4. 319 

substance of the prophecy. The prophet makes this still more 
plain, by concluding the words he is likewise to utter with 
^SJH as the last word of the prophecy. Luther has here well 
rendered *\V*, u to weary," by " succumb " (erliegen). The 
Babylonians form the subject of teJP. 1 The symbolic meaning 
of this act is clear ; and from it, also, the meaning of the whole 
charge to the prophet is not difficult to perceive. The sending 
of the prophecy through Seraiah, with the command to read it 
there, at the same time looking up to God, and then to sink 
it in the Euphrates, was not intended as a testimony to the 
inhabitants of Babylon of the certainty of their destruction, 
but was meant to be a substantial proof for Israel that God the 
Lord would, without fail, fulfil His word regarding the seventy 
years' duration of Babylon's supremacy, and the fall of this 
great kingdom which was to ensue. This testimony received 
still greater significance from the circumstances under which it 
was given. The journey of King Zedekiah to Babylon was, at 
least in regard to its official purpose, an act of homage shown 
by Zedekiah to Nebuchadnezzar, as the vassal of the king of 
Babylon. This fact, which was deeply humiliating for Judah, 
was made use of by Jeremiah, in the name of the Lord, for 
the purpose of announcing and transmitting to Babylon, the 
city that ruled the world, the decree which Jahveh, the God of 
Israel, as King of heaven and earth, had formed concerning 
the proud city, and which He would execute in His own time, 

1 Mistaking the meaning of the repetition of the word }£)JW, Movers, 
Hitzig, and Graf have thereon based various untenable conjectures. Movers 
infers from the circumstance that the whole epilogue is spurious ; Hitzig 
and Graf conclude from it tbat the closing words, " Thus far are the words 
of Jeremiah," originally came after ver. 58, and that the epilogue, because 
it does not at all admit of being separated from the great oracle against 
Babylon, originally preceded the oracle beginning 1. 1, but was afterwards 
placed at the end; moreover, that the transposer cut off from ver. 58 the 
concluding remark, " Thus far," etc., and put it at the end of the epilogue 
(ver. 64), but, at the same time, also transferred ffiJW, in order to show that 
the words, i.e. the prophecies of Jeremiah, strictly speaking, extend only 
thus far. This intimation is, indeed, quite superfluous, for it never could 
occur to the mind of any intelligent reader that the epilogue, vers. 59-64, 
was an integral portion of the prophecy itself. And there would be no 
meaning in placing the epilogue before 1. 1. 


that He might confirm the hope of the godly ones among His 
people in the deliverance of Israel from Babylon. 

The statement, " Thus far are the words of Jeremiah," is an 
addition made by the editor of the prophecies. From these 
words, it follows that chap. lii. does not belong to these 
prophecies, but forms a historical appendix to them. 

Finally, if any question be asked regarding the fulfilment of 
the prophecy against Babylon, we must keep in mind these two 
points : 1. The prophecy, as is shown both by its title and its 
contents, is not merely directed against the city of Babylon, 
but also against the land of the Chaldeans. It therefore pro- 
claims generally the devastation and destruction of the Chaldean 
kingdom, or the fall of the Babylonian empire ; and the cap- 
ture and destruction of Babylon, the capital, receive special 
prominence only in so far as the world-wide rule of Babylon 
fell with the capital, and the supremacy of the Chaldeans over 
the nations came to an end. 2. In addition to this historical 
side, the prophecy has an ideal background, which certainly is 
never very prominent, but nevertheless is always more or less 
to be discovered. Here Babylon, as the then mistress of the 
world, is the representative of the God-opposing influences on 
the earth, which always attempt to suppress and destroy the 
kingdom of God. The fulfilment of the historical side of this 
prophecy began with the capture of Babylon by the united 
forces of the Medes and Persians under the leadership of 
Cyrus, and with the dissolution of the Chaldean empire, 
brought about through that event. By this means, too, the 
people of Israel were delivered from the Babylonish captivity, 
while Cyrus gave them permission to return to their native 
land and rebuild the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem; 2 Chron. 
xxxvi. 22 f., Ezra i. 1 ff. But Babylon was not destroyed when 
thus taken, and according to Herodotus, iii. 159, even the walls 
of the city remained uninjured, while, according to a notice of 
Berosus in Josephus, contra Ap. i. 19, Cyrus is said to have 
. given orders for the pulling down of the outer wall. Cyrus 
appointed Babylon, after Susa and Ecbatana, the third city in 
the kingdom, and the winter residence of the Persian kings 
(according to Xenophon, Cyrop. viii. 6. 22). Darius Hystaspes, 
who was obliged to take the city a second time, in consequence 

CHAP. I.I. 59-64. 321 

of its revolt in the year 518 B.C., was the first who caused the 
walls to be lowered in height ; these were diminished to 50 ells 
[royal cubits — about 85 feet], and the gates were torn away 
(Herodotus, iii. 158 f.). Xerxes spoiled the city of the golden 
image of Belus (Herodot. i. 183), and caused the temple of Belus 
to be destroyed (Arrian, vii. 17. 2). Alexander the Great had 
intended not merely to rebuild the sanctuary of Belus, but also 
to make the city the capital of his empire ; but he was prevented 
by his early death from carrying out this plan. The decay of 
Babylon properly began when Seleucus Nicator built Seleucia, 
on the Tigris, only 300 stadia distant. " Babylon" says Pliny, 
vi. 30, li ad solitudinem rediit, exhausta vicinitate Seleucice" And 
Strabo (born 60 B.C.) says that, even in his time, the city was 
a complete wilderness, to which he applies the utterance of a 
poet : eprjfjila fieyaXr) earlv rj /xeyaXr] 7ro\i? (xvi. 1. 5). This 
decay was accelerated under the rule of the Parthians, so that, 
within a short time, only a small space within the walls was 
inhabited, while the rest was used as fields (Diodorus Siculus, 
ii. 9 ; Curtius, v. 4. 27). According to the statements of Jerome 
and Theodoret, there were still living at Babylon, centuries 
afterwards, a pretty considerable number of Jews ; but Jerome 
(ad Jerem. 51) was informed by a Persian monk that these 
ruins stood in the midst of a hunting district of the Persian 
kings. The notices of later writers, especially of modern 
travellers, have been collected by Eitter, Erdkunde, xi. S. 865 f.; 
and the latest investigations among the ruins are described in 
his Expedition scient. en Mesojiotamie, i. pp. 135-254 (Paris, 
I860). 1 John the evangelist has taken the ideal elements of 
this prophecy into his apocalyptic description of the great city 
of Babylon (Rev. xvi. ff.), whose fall is not to begin till the 
kingdom of God is completed in glory through the return of 
our Lord. 

1 Fresh interest in Babylonian archaeology has of late been awakened, 
especially in this country, by Mr. George Smith, of the British Museum, 
who has collected and deciphered about eighty fragments of some tablets 
that had been brought from Assyria, and that give an account of the 
deluge different in some respects from the Mosaic one. The proprietors of 
the Daily Telegraph have also shown much public spirit in sending out, at 
their own cost, an expedition to Assyria, for further investigation of the 
ruins there. — Tr. 





By the closing formula, li. 64, the contents of chap. Hi. are 
separated from, and marked as an appendix to, the prophecies 
of Jeremiah ; yet nothing is said regarding the author of this 
chapter. However, if we keep in mind the nature of its con- 
tents, then, from the very fact that it gives an account of the 
liberation of King Jehoiachin from prison, and of his elevation 
to royal honours, it necessarily follows that it cannot have been 
composed by Jeremiah, because the prophet can scarcely have 
lived till this occurred, which was less than 561 B.C. It must 
further be considered that the contents of this chapter also 
agree, almost word for word, with 2 Kings xxiv. 18-25, 30 ; 
moreover, the introductory notice regarding Zedekiah's ascen- 
sion of the throne, his age, and the character of his rule, given 
vers. 1-3, was unnecessary for the object of this appendix. The 
same holds true of the notice regarding the liberation of 
Jehoiachin from prison, at the close, vers. 31-34, which does 
not seem to stand in any close and intimate connection with the 
history of the destruction of Jerusalem and the fate of Zede- 
kiah, while both of these events are closely connected with the 
plan and aim of the Books of Kings, and are written quite in 
their spirit. On these grounds, most expositors, both ancient 
and modern, assume that this historical appendix to the pro- 
phecies of Jeremiah has been derived from the Second Book of 
Kings. But weighty reasons oppose this assumption. (1.) The 
very fact that the name of the king of Babylon is throughout 
written Nebuchadrezzar makes it unlikely that the narrative was 
derived from 2 Kings xxiv. 18 ff., because the name is there 
constantly written Nebuchadnezzar, — a form which also occurs 
in Jeremiah, though not often (see vol. i. p. 397, note). (2.) 
This chapter contains notices which are not found in 2 Kings 
xxiv. and xxv. Thus, it is stated, in ver. 10, that Nebuchad- 
rezzar also caused all the princes of Judah to be executed at 

CHAP. LIL 323 

Riblah, and King Zedekiah, who had been carried to Babylon, 
to be put in prison till his death ; in vers. 19-23 we find a whole 
series of special remarks as to the vessels of the temple and the 
ornaments of the brazen pillars, — observations which are not 
met with either in 2 Kings xxv., or in the description of the 
building of the temple, 1 Kings vii. We further find, in vers. 
28-30, a notice regarding three deportations of the people, 
giving the numbers, not roundly, but precisely, as they are 
nowhere else given in the historical books of the Old Testament. 
Were this statement the only additional detail given by this 
chapter, as compared with 2 Kings xxv., one might perhaps 
suppose that it was an interpolation from another source, added 
to the rest of the account that has been derived from 2 Kings 
xxiv. and xxv.; but this opinion, which even in itself is not very 
probable, is excluded by the other additions found in ver. 10 
and in 19-23. If the author of this chapter had been able to 
derive, and had actually derived, these additional particulars 
from a historical source, treating of the later times of the king- 
dom of Judah, which has not come down to us, and which con- 
tained more than our canonical books of Kings and Chronicles, 
he would no doubt have also found there the account of the 
three deportations, and taken it from that source. We must 
therefore assume that this chapter, and 2 Kings xxiv. 18 on to 
xxv. 30, have both a common origin, in which the fall of the 
kingdom of Judah was more fully described than in the histori- 
cal books of the canon ; in this way, the remarkable coincidence, 
almost word for word, betwene the narrative portions which are 
common to the two extracts, is accounted for quite as easily as 
the differences that have just been mentioned. From a critical 
examination of the state of both texts now before us, no certain 
conclusions can be drawn regarding their mutual relation. The 
differences of this kind arise partly from errors and omissions 
by later copyists, partly also from the circumstance that the 
epitomizers have not throughout kept rigorously to the words 
of their source. Regarding the author of the original written 
document, we cannot even make any supposition that could 
pretend to anything like probability. Baruch, as the editor of 
the collection of Jeremiah's prophecies, may have made the 
extract from it which we find in this chapter. We have already, 


in substance, given the exposition while treating of 2 Kings 
xxiv. 18 ff., so that we may here content ourselves with briefly 
putting together the deviations of this text from the other, and 
explaining its peculiarities. 

Vers. 1-11. Fate of King Zedekiah at the taking of Jeru- 
salem ; cf . 2 Kings xxiv. 18, xxv. 7, and Jer. xxxix. 1-7. The 
statements regarding Zedekiah's ascension and his government, 
vers. 1-3, agree word for word with 2 Kings xxiv. 18-20, even 
to the variation \sbf n, ver. 3, for tehtfa (Kings). The length 
of the siege of Jerusalem, vers. 4- la, and the flight, capture, 
and condemnation of King Zedekiah and the princes of Judah, 
vers. 75-11, not only agrees with 2 Kings xxv. 1-7, but also with 
Jer. xxxix. 1-7, where it is merely the forcible entrance into 
the city by the Chaldeans that receives special detail ; see on 
xxxix. 3. The variation WJW, ver. 4, instead of jn*5 (2 Kings 
xxv. 1), does not affect the sense. As to the account given of 
the flight, capture, and condemnation of the king, both chap, 
xxxix. and 2 Kings xxv. omit the notices given in ver. 10, " and 
also all the princes of Judah he caused to be slain {i.e. executed) 
at Riblah," and in ver. 11, "and he put him in the prison-house 
till the day of his death." rrnparrrva has been rendered olida 
[ivkiovos by the LXX. ; on this fact Hitzig bases the opinion 
that the Hebrew words signify " the house of punishment," or 
11 the house of correction," in which Zedekiah was obliged to 
turn the mill like other culprits, and as Samson was once obliged 
to do (Judg. xvi. 21). But this meaning of the words cannot 
be substantiated. H'npQ means " oversight, mustering, or visita- 
tion (Heimsuchung), or vengeance," e.g. Isa. x. 3, but not pun- 
ishment (Strafe), and the plural, "watches" (Ezek. ix. 1) and 
"custody," Ezek. xliv. 11; hence the expression used here 
signifies " the house of custody," or " the house of the watches." 
The translation of the LXX. can decide nothing against this, 
because their interpretation is based upon traditions which are 
themselves unfounded. Regarding this, Ewald well remarks 
(History of the People of Israel, iii. p. 748 of 2d ed.) : " That 
Zedekiah must have laboured at the mill, as is mentioned in 
later chronicles (see Aug. Mai, Scriptorum veterum nova collectio, 
t. i. P. 2, p. 6 ; cf. Chron. Sam. chap, xlv.), is probably a mere 
inference from Lam. v. 13." 

CHAP. LII. 12-23. 325 

Vers. 12-23. The destruction of Jerusalem and of the 
temple, and the carrying away of the people, which are only 
very summarily stated in chap, xxxix. 8-10, are here related in 
complete accordance with the account given in 2 Kings xxv. 
8-17. The deviations for the most part originated through the 
freedom exercised by the epitomizer in his work, or only when 
mistakes were made by later copyists. The text before us has 
some amplifications (especially the notices regarding the orna- 
ments of the brazen pillars, ver. 23) which are found nowhere 
else in the Old Testament. The difference in date between 
ver. 12 (" on the tenth of the month") and the passage in Kings 
(" on the seventh of the month") has arisen through one number 
having been mistaken for another in copying ; it cannot now 
be decided which is correct ; see on 2 Kings xxv. 18. As to 
Nebuzaradan, see on xxxix. 13. Instead of ^S- 5 "fl?y is found 
"I3y in 2 Kings xxv. 8, which certainly is a simpler reading, but 
one having less appearance of being the original. The only 
strange point is the want of the relative "it?x in plain prose 
before ^V, which is probably to be pointed "1BJJ. D wVT'a, in- 
stead of Bv^"P (Kings), is a pregnant expression for " he came 
into Jerusalem." — Ver. 14. From the expression rriDirr?3 - nx ? as 
given in ver. 14, " all " is omitted in Kings, as being not indis- 
pensable for the meaning. — Ver. 15. The first words, u And of 
the poor of the people," are wanting in Kings, and have been 
brought here, through an error on the part of the copyist, from 
the beginning of the next verse ; for " the poor of the people " 
are first treated of in ver. 16, where it is stated that Nebuzar- 
adan left them in the land, while ver. 15 treats of those who 
were carried away to Babylon. The word jtoxn, instead of 
Jionn (Kings), seems to have originated simply through the 
exchange of N for n, and to mean, like the other, the multitude 
of people. Hitzig and Graf are of opinion that JiEN here, as in 
Prov. viii. 30, means workmaster or artificer, and that |i£Nn 
denotes the same persons (collectively) who are designated Knnn 
"13 pern in xxiv. 1, xxix. 2, and 2 Kings xxiv. 14. Bat this view 
is opposed by the parallel passage, xxxix. 9, where the whole of 
this verse occurs, and D^IKB'lin DJ?n irp stands instead of "irp 
}iosn. « The rest of the people of Jerusalem " are divided, by 
n $) — n ^V * nt0 those who went over to the Chaldeans, and the 


rest of the people who were taken prisoners by the Chaldeans 
at the capture of the city. The statement that both of these 
two classes of the population of Jerusalem were carried away 
to Babylon is so far limited by the further declaration, in ver. 
16, that Nebuzaradan did not carry away every one, without 
exception, but let a portion of the humbler inhabitants of the 
country, who had no property, remain in the land, as vine- 
dressers and husbandmen, that they might till the land. In- 
stead of psn niVno there occurs in Kings pan n^np and in 
Jer. xxxix. 10, more distinctly, D^nn Dj)n jd, « some of the 
people, the humbler ones," who had no property of their own. 
r&n, pi. ITiVn, is an abstract noun, "poverty;" the singular is 
used collectively, hence the plural is here used to supply the 
deficiency. For D^M*, from 3£, to plough, there is found instead, 
in 2 Kings xxv. 12, Kethib D^a, from ma, with the same mean- 
ing. — Vers. 17-23. The carrying away of the vessels of the 
temple is more fully stated than in 2 Kings xxv. 13-17. The 
large brazen articles, the two pillars at the porch (cf. 1 Kings 
vii. 15 ff.), the bases (1 Kings vii. 27 ff.), and the brazen sea 
(1 Kings vii. 23 ff.), which were too vast in their proportions to 
be easily carried away to Babylon, were broken to pieces by the 
Chaldeans, who carried off the brass of which they were made. 
n s n^> ItPK is more correct than JV3 1tM$ (Kings), and " all their 
brass" is more precise than simply " their brass" (Kings). In 
the enumeration of the smaller brazen vessels used for the 
temple service, ver. 18, there is omitted, in 2 Kings, nipnjtsrrnstt, 
"and the bowls" (used in sacrifice); this omission is perhaps 
due merely to an error in transcription. The enumeration of 
the gold and silver vessels in ver. 19 has been much more 
abbreviated in 2 Kings xxv. 15, where only "the fire-pans and 
the bowls " are mentioned, while in the text here, besides these 
there are named " the basons," then " the pots (Eng. vers, cal- 
drons), and the candlesticks, and the pans (Eng. vers, spoons), 
and the cups." For particulars regarding these different 
vessels, see on 1 Kings vii. 40, 45, 50. In ver. 20, reference 
is made to the fact that the mass of metal in the vessels that 
were carried away was without weight. The same is stated in 
2 Kings xxv. 16, where, however, there is no mention of the 
twelve brazen bulls ; while in the text of Jeremiah, nnn -itr'tf 

CHAP. LII. 24-30. 327 

nfobBB is faulty, and we must read instead, rfobtpni vnnn W'«. 
The assertion of Graf, in his commentary on this verse, and of 
Thenius on 2 Kings xxv. 16, — that the notice regarding the 
twelve brazen bulls is incorrect, because these were then no 
longer in Jerusalem (xxvii. 19), but had previously been re- 
moved by Ahaz from under the brazen sea for Tiglath-pileser, 
— we have already, under 2 Kings xvi. 17, shown to be erro- 
neous. The apposition of r6xn D73?rfa to D^^'n^ explains the 
reference of the suffix. In vers. 21-23, the narrator, in order 
to call attention to the amount of art exhibited on the vessels 
destroyed by the Chaldeans, gives a brief description of the 
brazen pillars with their capitals. This description is much 
shortened in 2 Kings xxv. 17, and contains notices completing 
that which is given of these works of art in 1 Kings vii. For 
details, see the passage referred to. 

Vers. 24-27. The account given regarding the arrest of the 
chief officers of the temple and of the city, and concerning their 
transportation to Eiblah, where Nebuchadnezzar caused them 
to be executed, agrees with 2 Kings xxv. 18-21, except in 
some unimportant variations, which, however, do not alter the 
sense; the explanation has been already given in the commentary 
on that passage. In 2 Kings xxv., the account of the appoint- 
ment of Gedaliah as the governor of Judah, together with that 
of his assassination by Ishmael, which follows the narrative 
just referred to, is here omitted, because the matter has been 
already more fully stated in the passage chap. xl. 7 on to xliii. 
7, and had no close connection with the object of the present 
chapter. Instead of this, there follows here, in vers. 28-30 (as 
a continuation of the remark made, ver. 27, " Thus was Judah 
carried away captive out of his own land "), a calculation of the 
number of the Jews taken to Babylon at the three deportations: 
in the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar, 3023 Jews; in the 
eighteenth year, 832 souls from Jerusalem ; and in the twenty- 
third year, 745 souls,— in all, 4600 persons. The correctness 
of these data is vouched for by the exactness of the separate 
numbers, and the agreement of the sum with the individual 
items. In other respects, however, they present various diffi- 
culties. There is, first, the chronological discrepancy that the 
second deportation is here placed in the eighteenth year of 


Nebuchadnezzar, in contradiction with ver. 12, according to 
which, the deportation after the taking of Jerusalem occurred 
in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar; and 832 souls 
could not well be carried out of Jerusalem during the siege. 
This difference can be settled only by assuming that this list 
of deportations was derived from another source than the pre- 
ceding notice regarding the destruction of Jerusalem, in which 
the years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign were reckoned in some 
other way than elsewhere in Jeremiah and in the books of 
Kings, probably from the date of the actual commencement 
of his reign, which followed a year after he first appeared in 
Judah, from which his reign is dated elsewhere ; see on Dan. 
i. 1 (p. 59 ff.). According to this mode of computation, the 
seventh year would correspond to the eighth of the common 
reckoning, and be the year in which Jehoiachin was carried 
away to Babylon, together with a large number of the people. 
But this does not agree with 3023, which is given as the num- 
ber of those who were carried away ; for, at that time, accord- 
ing to 2 Kings xxiv. 14, 16, as many as 10,000 Jews, or, 
according to another view of these verses, even 18,000, were 
carried away to Babylon. This difference does not permit of 
being explained in any way. Ewald (History of the People of 
Israel, iii. p. 738) accordingly assumes that in ver. 28, after 
JntP, the word PTjfety has been omitted, as in 2 Chron. xxxvi. 9, 
where the age of Jehoiachin is given ; hence he thinks that, 
instead of " in the seventh," we must read " in the seventeenth 
year of Nebuchadnezzar." On such a view, the reference 
would be to a deportation which took place under Zedekiah, 
a year before the capture, or during the time of the siep-e of 
Jerusalem, and that, too, out of the country districts of Judah 
in contrast with Jerusalem, ver. 29. This supposition is 
favoured not merely by the small number of those who are 
said to have been carried away, but also by the context of the 
narrative, inasmuch as, in what precedes, it is only the capture 
of Jerusalem and the deportation of the people in Zedekiah's 
time that is treated of. Niigelsbach has objected to this sup- 
position, that it was not likely the great mass of the people 
would be carried away during the war, at a time when the 
approach of the Egyptian army (cf. xxxvii. 5) was an object of 

CHAP. LII. 24-30. 329 

dread. But the objection does not weaken the supposition, since 
the former rests on two presuppositions that are quite erroneous: 
viz., first, that the deportation took place before the defeat of 
the auxiliary army from Egypt, whereas it may have followed 
that event ; and secondly, that the Chaldeans, by keeping the 
hostile Jews in the country, might have been able to get some 
assistance against the Egyptian army, whereas, by removing 
the hostile population of Judah, they would but diminish the 
number of the enemies with which they had to contend. We 
therefore regard this conjecture as highly probable, because it 
is the means of settling all difficulties, and because we can 
thereby account for the small number of those who were car- 
ried away in the deportations during and after the destruction 
of Jerusalem. Regarding the third deportation, which was 
effected by Nebuzaradan (ver. 30) in the twenty- third, or, 
according to another reckoning, in the twenty-fourth year of 
Nebuchadnezzar, i.e. in the fifth year after the destruction of 
Jerusalem, we have no other information; for the statement 
of Josephus, Antt. x. 9. 7, that Nebuchadnezzar made war 
upon the Ammonites and Moabites in that year, has not been 
placed beyond a doubt, and is probably a mere inference from 
this verse, taken in connection with the prophecies in chap, 
xlviii. and xlix. Yet there is nothing improbable in the state- 
ment, viewed by itself. For it must be borne in mind that, 
after the appointment of Gedaliah as governor, and the de- 
parture of the Chaldean hosts, many Jews, who had fled during 
the war, returned into the country. Hence, in spite of the fact 
that, after the murder of Gedaliah, a multitude of Jews, fear- 
ing the vengeance of the Chaldeans, fled to Egypt, many may 
have still remained in the country ; and many other fugitives 
may not have returned till afterwards, and given occasion to the 
Chaldeans for removing other 745 disturbers of the peace to 
Babylon, four or five years after Jerusalem had been laid in 
ashes. This deportation may have taken place on the occasion 
of the subjugation of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Idumeans, 
or during the war with the Phoenicians, possibly because they 
had rendered assistance to these nations against the Chaldeans. 
These verses thus contain nothing to justify the assumption of 
M. von Niebuhr (Gesch. Assyr. und Babels, S. 58, note) and 


Nagelsbach, that they are a gloss. The paucity of those 
who were carried away is not to be attributed to a desire on 
the part of the writer of this inserted portion to represent the 
calamity as not so very terrible after all ; nor is it due to the 
substitution of the number of the Levites for that of the entire 
people, — two wholly arbitrary assumptions : it is completely ex- 
plained by a consideration of the historical circumstances. The 
best of the population of Judah had already been carried away, 
and Zedekiah and his counsellors must have said to themselves, 
when they rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, that the latter 
would not spare this time; thus they must have defended 
themselves to the utmost, as is shown by the very fact that the 
siege of Jerusalem lasted eighteen months. In this manner, 
war, pestilence, and famine carried off a great number of the 
population of Jerusalem; so that, of men who were able-bodied 
and fit for war, and who could be carried into exile, not more 
than 4600 fell into the hands of the Chaldeans. During the 
war, also, many had concealed themselves in inaccessible places, 
while the lowest of the people were left behind in the country 
to cultivate the fields. Still more strange might appear the 
circumstance that the sum-total of those who were carried away 
to Babylon, viz. 10,000 with Jehoiachin, and 4600 under 
Zedekiah, — 14,600 in all, — is evidently disproportionate to the 
number of those who returned to Jerusalem and Judah 
under Zerubbabel, which number is given in Ezra ii. 64 at 
42,360, exclusive of men and maid servants. For this reason, 
Graf is of opinion that still later deportations may have taken 
place, of which no mention is made anywhere. This assump- 
tion, however, has little probability. On the other hand, we 
must consider these points : (1.) In the accounts given of those 
who were carried away, only full-grown and independent per- 
sons of the male sex are reckoned, while, along with fathers, 
both their wives and their children went into exile. (2.) Even 
so early as the first capture of Jerusalem in the fourth year of 
Jehoiakim, a number of prisoners of war, perhaps not incon- 
siderable, came to Babylon ; these might unite with the thou- 
sands of their brethren who were carried thither at a later 
period. (3.) When the exiles had settled down in Babylon, 
and there found not only a means of livelihood, but even in 

CHAP. LII. 31-34. 331 

many instances, as is clear from several intimations, attained to 
opulence as citizens, many, even of those who had been left in 
the country, may have gone to Babylon, in the hope of finding 
there greater prosperity than in Judah, now laid waste and 
depopulated by war. (4.) From the time when the 10,000 
were carried away with Jehoiachin, in the year 599 B.C., till 
the return under Zerubbabel, 536 B.C., 63 years, i.e. nearly two 
generations, had passed, during which the exiles might largely 
increase in numbers. If we take all these elements into con- 
sideration, then, in the simple fact that the number of those 
who returned amounts to nearly three times the numbers of 
those given as having been carried away under Jehoiachin and 
Zedekiah, we cannot find such a difficulty as entitles us to 
doubt the correctness of the numbers handed down to us. 

Vers. 31-34. The closing portion of this chapter, viz. the 
notice regarding the liberation of Jehoiachin from imprison- 
ment, and his elevation to royal honours by Evil-merodach 
after Nebuchadnezzar's death, substantially agrees with the 
account given of that event in 2 Kings xxv. 27-30. The dif- 
ference of date, " on the twenty-fifth of the month " (ver. 31), 
and "on the twenty-seventh of the month" in 2 Kings, has 
arisen through the entrance of a clerical error into one text or 
the other. The few remaining variations of the two texts have 
no influence on the meaning. As to the fact itself, and its 
importance for the people languishing in exile, we may refer 
to the explanation given at 2 Kings xxv. 27 ff. 








Tiie Name. — The five Lamentations composed on the fall 
of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah, which have received 
their position in the canon of the Old Testament among the 
Hagiographa, have for their heading, in Hebrew mss. and in 
printed editions of the Hebrew Bible, the word n^'N (" alas ! 
how . . ."), which forms the characteristic initial word of three 
of these pieces (i. 1, ii. 1, and iv. 1). The Rabbis name the 
collection ni^i? (Lamentations), from the nature of its contents : 
so in the Talmud {Tract. Baba Bathra, f. lAb) ; cf. Jerome 
in the Prol. galeat, and in the prologue to his translation : 
u incipiunt Tlireni, i.e. lamentationes, quce Cynoth hebraice in- 
scribuntur." With this agree the designations ©pijvoc (LXX,), 
and Threni or Lamentationes, also Lamenta in the Vulgate and 
among the Latin writers. 

Contents. — The ancient custom of composing and singing 
lamentations over deceased friends (of which we find proof in 
the elegies of David on Saul and Jonathan, 2 Sam. i. 17ff., 
and on Abner, 2 Sam. iii. 33 ff., and in the notice given in 
2 Chron. xxxv. 25) was even in early times extended so as to 
apply to the general calamities that befell countries and cities ; 
hence the prophets often speak of taking up lamentations over 
the fall of nations, countries, and cities ; cf. Amos v. 1, Jer. 
vii. 29, ix. 9, 17 f., Ezek. xix. 1, xxvi. 17, xxvii. 2, etc. The 
five lamentations of the book now before us all refer to the 



destruction of Jerusalem and of the kingdom of Judah by the 
Chaldeans ; in them are deplored the unutterable misery that 
has befallen the covenant people in this catastrophe, and the 
disgrace which the fallen daughter of Zion has thereby suffered. 
This subject is treated of in the five poems from different points 
of view. In the first, the lamentation is chiefly made over the 
carrying away of the people into captivity, the desolation of 
Zion, the acts of oppression, the plundering and the starvation 
connected with the taking of Jerusalem, the scoffing and con- 
tempt shown by the enemy, and the helpless and comfortless 
condition of the city, now fallen so low. In the second, the 
destruction of Jerusalem and Judah is set forth as an act of 
God's wrath against the sins of the people, the impotency of 
human comfort in the midst of the terrible calamity is shown, 
and the people are exhorted to seek help from the Lord. In 
the third, the deep spiritual sufferings of God's people in the 
midst of the general distress form the subject of grievous com- 
plaint, out of which the soul endeavours to rise, and to see the 
compassion of the Lord, and the justice of His dealings on 
earth generally, as well as in this visitation of judgment ; and 
on this is founded the confident expectation of help. In the 
fourth, the dreadful misery that has befallen Zion's citizens of 
every class is represented as a punishment for the grievous 
sins of the people and their leaders. And lastly, in the fifth, 
the Lord is entreated to remove the disgrace from His people 
and restore them to their former state of grace. According 
to this view, one may readily perceive in these poems a well- 
cogitated plan in the treatment of the material common to the 
whole, and a distinct progress in the execution of this plan. 
There is no foundation, on the other hand, for the opinion of 
De Wette, that a gradation may be traced in the description 
given of the condition of the city ; and the attempt of earlier 
expositors (Horrer, Pareau, Jahn, etc.) to explain and apply 
the contents of the different poems to different leading features 
in the Chaldean catastrophe — such as the siege, the capture, 
the destruction of the city and the temple — has entirely failed. 
Ewald, again, assumes that the five poems were composed for 
a time to be solemnly spent in sorrow and penitence, and that 
in the five lamentations the prophet-writer presents a kind of 


changing act (drama), making five different acts follow each 
other progressively ; and further, that it is only with the 
changing series of these that the entire great act of real lamenta- 
tion and divine sorrow concludes. But neither in the design 
nor in the execution of these poems are any points to be found 
which form a safe foundation for this assumption. Ewald is so 
far correct, however, in his general remark, that the prophetic 
composer sought to present to the community, in their deep 
sorrow, words which were meant to direct the grieving heart to 
the only source of true comfort ; and that he understood how 
" to lead the deeply sorrowing ones imperceptibly to a proper 
knowledge of themselves and of their own great guilt, and 
thereby, in the first place, to true sorrow and sighing ; that 
he also knew how to resolve the wildest grief at last into true 
prayer for divine retribution, and to change new strength into 
rejoicing over the everlasting Messianic hope, and into the 
most touching request for the divine compassion " (Die Didder 
des Alt. Bandes, o Ausg. i. 2, S. 322). 

Form. — In order to give an air of continuity as well as of 
exhaustive completeness to the lamentation, which constantly 
assumes new figures and turns of thought, the poems, with the 
exception of the last (chap, v.), are alphabetically arranged, and 
in such a form that the first three consist of Ions: stanzas, 
each of three lines, which are for the most part further divided 
about the middle by a caesura into two portions of unequal 
length. These poems are so arranged in accordance with the 
letters of the alphabet, that in the first two, every verse of 
three lines, and in the third, every line in the verse, begins with 
the letters of the alphabet in their order. In this last [third] 
poem, moreover, all the letters of the alphabet occur thrice in 
succession, for which reason the Masoretes have divided these 
lines of the verses as if each formed a complete verse. In the 
fourth poem, the verses, which are also arranged and marked 
alphabetically, consist only of lines which are likewise divided 
into two by a csesura; in the fifth, the alphabetic arrange- 
ment of the verses is departed from, and it is only in their 
number that the verses of the poem are made like the letters of 
the alphabet. This alphabetic arrangement of the verses is 
exactly carried out in the four poems, but with the remarkable 



difference, that in the first only does the order of the letters 
entirely agree with the traditional arrangement of the alphabet, 
while, in the other three, the verse beginning with S stands 
before that beginning with V- This deviation from the rule 
does not admit of being explained by the assumption that the 
verses in question were afterwards transposed in consequence 
of an oversight on the part of the copyist, nor by the supposi- 
tion that the order of the letters had not yet been absolutely 
fixed. The former assumption, adopted by Kennicott, Jahn, 
etc., is shown to be utterly incorrect, by the circumstance that 
the supposed transmutation cannot be reconciled with the course 
of thought in the poems ; while the latter, which has been 
maintained by C. B. Michaelis, Ewald, etc., is disproved by 
the fact that no change has taken place in the order of the 
letters in the Shemitic alphabets (cf. Sommer, Bibl. Abhandll. 
i. S. 145 ; Gesenius, § 5, Rem. 2 ; Ewald, § 12, a) ; and other 
alphabetic poems, such as Ps. cxi., cxii., cxix., and Prov. xxxi. 
10-31, exactly preserve the common arrangement of the letters. 
Still less does the irregularity in question permit of being 
attributed to an oversight on the part of the composer (which is 
Bertholdt's view), for the irregularity is repeated in three poems. 
It is rather connected with another circumstance. For we find 
in other alphabetic poems also, especially the older ones, many 
deviations from the rule, which undeniably prove that the 
composers bound themselves rigorously by the order of the 
alphabet only so long as it fitted in to the course of thought 
without any artificiality. Thus, for instance, in Ps. cxlv. the 
Nun verse is wanting ; in Ps. xxxiv. the Vav verse ; while, at the 
close, after n, there follows another verse with S. Just such 
another closing verse is found in Ps. xxv., in which, besides, 
the first two verses begin with **, while 2 is wanting ; two 
verses, moreover, begin with "> instead of p and "i: in Ps. 
xxxvii. V is replaced by V, which is again found after Q in its 
proper order. It is also to be considered that, in many of these 
poems, the division of the verses into strophes is not continu- 
ously and regularly carried out; e.g. in these same Lamentations, 
i. 7 and ii. 19, verses of four lines occur among those with 
three. Attempts have, indeed, been made to attribute these 
irregularities to later revisers, who mistook the arrangement 


into strophes; but the arguments adduced will not stand the 
test ; see details in Havernick's Einl. iii. S. 51 ff. 

If we gather all these elements together, we shall be obliged 
to seek for the reason of most, if not all of these deviations 
from the norm, in the free use made of such forms by the 
Hebrew poets. Gerlach here objects that, " in view of the loose 
connection of thought in alphabetic poems generally, and in 
these Lamentations particularly, and considering the evident 
dexterity with which the poet elsewhere uses the form, another 
arrangement of the series would not have caused him any 
difficulty." We reply that there is no want in these poems of 
a careful arrangement of thought ; but that the skill of the poet, 
in making use of this arrangement, was not always sufficient 
to let him put his thoughts, corresponding to things, into the 
alphabetic form, without using artificial means or forced con- 
structions ; and that, in such cases, the form was rather sacri- 
ficed to the thought, than rigorously maintained through the 
adoption of forced and unnatural forms of expression. 

Finally, the reason for the absence of the alphabetic arrange- 
ment from the fifth poem is simply, that the lamentation there 
resolves itself into a prayer, in which the careful consideration 
indispensable for the carrying out of the alphabetic arrange- 
ment must give place to the free and natural outcome of the 



Author. — In the Hebrew text no one is named as the 
author of the Lamentations ; but an old tradition affirms that 
the prophet Jeremiah composed them. Even so early as in the 
Alexandrine version, we find prefixed to i. 1, the words, Kal iye- 
vero fxera al^fj.a\o)Tia6P]vaL tov 'Icrparfk, Kal' Iepovaa\r]/Jb iprjfMco- 
6rjvai, eKadiaev ' Iepefiias Kkaioiv, ical idp/jvrjae tov Oprjvov rovrou 
€7rl 'lepovaaXrjjjL, koX etire. These words are also found in the 
Vulgate ; only, instead of et dixit, there is the amplification, et 
amaro animo suspirans et ejulans dixit. The Syriac is without 
this notice ; but the Arabic exactly reproduces the words of the 
LXX., and the Targum begins with the words, Dixit Jeremias 


propheta et sacerdos magnas. After this, both in the Talmud 
(Baba bathr. f. 15. 1) and by the Church Fathers (Origen in 
Euseb. hist. eccl. iv. 25, Jerome in prolog, gal, etc.), as well as 
the later theologians, the Jeremianic authorship was assumed 
as certain. The learned but eccentric Hermann von der Hardt 
was the first to call in question the Jeremianic composition of 
the book, in a " Programm" published in 1712 at Helmstadt ; 
he attributed the five poems to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, 
Abednego, and King Jehoiachin (!). This doubt was resumed 
at a later period by an unknown writer in the Tubingen Theol. 
Quartalschr. 1819, part i. ; it was mentioned by Augusti 
(Einl), and further carried out by Conz in BengeTs Archiv, iv. 
p. 161 f. and 422 ff. Kalkar was the next to question the 
traditional belief, and urged against it the position of the book 
among the D ,, ^n3 J and the difference existing between the 
Greek translation of the Lamentations and that of the prophe- 
cies of Jeremiah ; these objections he held to be not incon- 
siderable, yet not decisive. Then Ewald (Poet. Biccher des 
A. B. i. S. 145, and in the third edition of the same book, i. 2, 
S. 326 ; cf. Bibl. Jahrbb. vii. S. 151 f., and History of the People 
of Israel, iv. p. 22) decidedly refused to ascribe the book to the 
prophet, and rather attributed it to one of his pupils, Baruch 
or some other ; in this opinion he is followed by Bunsen, as is 
usual in questions regarding the criticism of the Old Testa- 
ment. Finally, Nagelsbach (in Lange's series, see Clark's 
For. Theol. Lib.), with the help of the Concordance, has pre- 
pared a table of those words and forms of words found in the 
Lamentations, but not occurring in the prophecies of Jeremiah ; 
by this means he has endeavoured to set forth the difference of 
language in the two books, which he accepts as a decisive reason 
for rejecting the Jeremianic authorship of the Lamentations. 
And Thenius assures us that, " in consequence of pretty long 
and conscientious examination, he has become convinced " that 
chap. ii. and iv., judging from their contents and form, unde- 
niably proceeded from Jeremiah ; while chap. i. and iii. were 
composed by one who was left behind in the country, some time 
after the destruction of Jerusalem, and shortly before the last 
deportation ; but chap. v. is from a man " who was probably 
wandering about everywhere, as the leader of a band of nobles 


seeking a safe asylum, but unwilling to attach themselves to 
the caravan going to Egypt." 

Schrader, in his late revision of De Wette's Introduction, 
§ 339, has thus condensed the results of these critical investiga- 
tions : In support of the old tradition, which mentions Jeremiah 
as the author, " one might appeal to the affinity in contents, 
spirit, tone, and language (De W.). Nevertheless, this same 
style of language, and the mode of representation, exhibit, 
again, so much that is peculiar ; the artificiality of form, espe- 
cially in chap, i., ii., and iv., is so unlike Jeremiah's style ; the 
absence of certain specific Jeremianic peculiarities, and the 
contradiction between some expressions of the prophet and those 
of the author of the Lamentations, is again so striking, that 
one must characterize the authorship of Jeremiah as very im- 
probable, if not quite impossible, especially since the points of 
likeness to the language used by Jeremiah, on the one hand, 
are sufficiently accounted for in general by the fact that both 
works were composed at the same time ; and on the other hand, 
are nullified by other points of likeness to Ezekiel's style, which 
show that use has already been made of his prophecies." Again : 
" The hypothesis of Thenius, that the poems are by different 
authors, is refuted by the similarity in the fundamental cha- 
racter of the poems, and in the character of the language/' 
We may therefore dispense with a special refutation of this 
hypothesis, especially since it will be shown in the exposition 
that the points which Thenius has brought forward in support 
of his view are all founded on a wretchedly prosaic style of 
interpretation, which fails to recognise the true nature of poetry, 
and regards mere poetic figures as actual history. Of the con- 
siderations, however, which Schrader has adduced against the 
Jeremianic authorship, the last two that are mentioned would, 
of course, have decided influence, if there were any real foun- 
dation for them, viz. the contradiction between some expressions 
of Jeremiah and those of the author of the Lamentations. 
But they have no foundation in fact. 

The only instance of a contradiction is said to exist between 
v. 7 and Jer. xxxi. 29, 30. It is quoted by Schrader, who 
refers to Noldeke, die alttest. Literal. S. 146. But the expression, 
" Our fathers have sinned, they are no more, we bear their 


iniquities" (v. 7), does not stand in contradiction to what is said 
in Jer. xxxix. 29 f. against the current proverb, " The fathers 
have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth have become 
blunt," viz. that in the future, after the restoration of Israel, 
" every one shall die for his own iniquity, and the teeth of 
every one who eats sour grapes shall become blunt." One 
statement would contradict the other only if the latter meant 
that those who bear the punishment were guiltless, or thought 
themselves such. But how far this thought was from the mind 
of the suppliant in v. 7, is shown by what he says in ver. 16 : 
" Woe unto us, for we have sinned." According to these 
words, those in ver. 7 can only mean, " We atone not merely 
for our own sins, but also the sins of our fathers," or, " The sins 
of our fathers as well as our own are visited on us." This 
confession accords with Scripture (cf. Ex. xx. 5, Jer. xvi. 
11, etc.), and is radically different from the proverb, " The 
fathers have eaten sour grapes," etc., which was constantly in 
the mouth of those who considered themselves innocent, and 
who thereby perverted the great truth, that God visits the sins 
of the fathers upon the children who hate Him, into the false 
statement, that innocent children must atone for the sins of 
their fathers. On this, cf. also the exposition of v. 7. But 
when Schrader, following Noldeke, further remarks, " that 
Jeremiah would hardly have said nothing whatever about God's 
having foretold all this suffering through him" there lies at 
the foundation of this remark the preposterous notion, that 
Jeremiah ought to have brought himself prominently forward 
in the Lamentations (supposing him to have written them), as 
one who ought not to suffer the evil under which the people were 
groaning. Such gross Pelagianism was foreign to the prophet 
Jeremiah. No one need speak, therefore, of a contradiction 
between the Lamentations and the prophecies of Jeremiah. 

As little proof is there for the assertion that the author of the 
Lamentations made use of the prophecies of Ezekiel. Nagels- 
bach and Schrader, in support of this allegation, have adduced 
only ii. 14, compared with Ezek. xii. 24, xiii. 5 f. ; and ii. 15, 
compared with Ezek. xxvii. 3, xxviii. 12. Nagelsbach says: 
" The words, ^r\) X)f *£ vn ^$033, in ii. 14, are no doubt a 
quotation from Ezek. xii. 24, xiii. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 


23, xxi. 28, 34, xxii. 28. For it is only in these passages, 
and nowhere else in the Old Testament, that the expression W1 
N)P occurs, and in combination with fen. Moreover, ^ nVfe 
in ii. 15, is an expression decidedly peculiar to Ezekiel, for it 
occurs only in Ezek. xxvii. 3 (cf. xxviii. 12), and nowhere else." 
But the three expressions of these two passages form really too 
weak a proof that the author of the Lamentations made use of 
the prophecies of Ezekiel. Of course, as regards the mere form 
of the words, it is true that the expression *B S n^fe, " she who is 
perfect in beauty," is found, besides Lam. ii. 15, only in Ezek. 
xxvii. 3, where the prophet says of Tyre, " Thou sayest, I am 
perfect in beauty," and in Ezek. xxviii. 12, where it is said of 
the king of Tyre, "Thou art . . . "$> W>3;" but the thing occurs 
also in Ps. 1. 2, with the unimportant change in the form of the 
words *B* 7MO, " perfection of beauty," where Zion is so desig- 
nated. Now, if we not merely gather out of the Concordance 
the expressions of like import, but also keep in view the idea pre- 
sented in ii. 15, "Is this the city HKrrfeji Bfc *tf n^fe Vi»i**tJ>?" 
and at the same time consider that the poet says this of Jeru- 
salem, there cannot be the least doubt that he did not take these 
epithets, which are applied to Jerusalem, from Ezekiel, who 
used them to designate Tyre, but that he had Ps. I. 2 in view, 
just as the other epithet, " a joy of the whole earth," points to Ps. 
xlviii. 3. Only on the basis of these passages in the Psalms could 
he employ the expression V>»tf s B>, " which they call." Or are we 
to believe that the word ??3, n^fe was originally unknown to the 
author of the Lamentations, and that he first became acquainted 
with it through Ezekiel? Nor, again, can we say that the words 
taken by Nagelsbach out of ii. 14 are " undoubtedly a quotation 
from Ezekiel," because they do not occur in this way in any of 
the passages cited from Ezekiel. All that we can found on this 
assertion is, that in the prophecies of Jeremiah neither tffl) n?n 
nor the word-form fen occurs ; while Ezekiel not only uses 
N)B> Jim, xii. 14, NW run, and WB> WW, as synonymous with 
K l? Vt *# D ?i?, and 3T3 nrn (xiii. 6-9, 23), but also says of the 
false prophets, xiii. 9-11, " They build a wall, and plaster it over 
with lime" (fen ink DVIB, xiii. 10, cf. vers. 14, 15, 18). These 
same false prophets are also called, in ver. 11, fen "ntt } « those 
who plaster with lime." But Ezekiel uses the word fen only in 


the meaning of " lime," while the writer of these Lamentations 
employs it in the metaphorical sense, " absurdity, nonsense," in 
the same way as Jeremiah, xxiii. 13, uses n!?SPJ, " absurdity," of 
the prophets of Samaria. Now, just as Jeremiah has not taken 
n?ari from Ezekiel, where it does not occur at all (but only in 
Job i. 22, xxiv. 12), so there is as little likelihood in the opinion 
that the word ?sn, in Lam. ii. 14, has been derived from Ezekiel, 
because Job vi. 6 shows that it was far from rarely used by the 
Hebrews. Nor does the non-occurrence of Nlfc? nrn in Jeremiah 

: T T T 

afford any tenable ground for the opinion that the expression, 
as found in Lam. ii. 14, was taken from Ezekiel. The idea 
contained in nin was not unknown to Jeremiah ; for he speaks, 
xiv. 14, of 1^ pin, and in xxiii. 16 of D2^p )irn 7 referring to the 
false prophets, whose doings he characterizes as "li?B>; cf. vi. 

13, viii. 10, xiv. 14, xxiii. 25 f., 32, xxvii. 10, 15, xxviii. 16, 
xxix. 9, 23, 31. Further, if we consult only the text of the 
Bible instead of the Concordance, and ponder the connection of 
thought in the separate passages, we can easily perceive why, 
instead of "l^ (PTH) HTPl, which is so frequent in Jeremiah, there 
is found in Lam. ii. 14, Wtf" mn and K1B> rriNfro n?n. In the 

7 ;T tt ;t ;~tt 

addresses in which Jeremiah warns the people of the lying 
conduct of the false prophets, who spoke merely out of their 
own heart, "ip^ was the most suitable expression ; in Lam. ii. 

14, on the contrary, where complaint is made that the pro- 
phecies of their prophets afford no comfort to the people in 
their present distress, JOB* was certainly the most appropriate 
word which the composer could select, even without a knowledge 
of Ezekiel. There can be no question, then, regarding a quota- 
tion from that prophet. But even though it were allowed that 
ii. 14 implied an actual acquaintance with chap. xii. and xiii. of 
Ezekiel, still, nothing would follow from that against the Jere- 
mianic authorship of the Lamentations. For Jeremiah uttered 
these prophecies in the sixth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin, 
i.e. in the third year before the last siege, and the fifth before 
the destruction of Jerusalem ; and considering the frequent 
intercourse carried on between the captives in Babylon and 
those who still remained in Judah and Jerusalem, in virtue of 
which the former even sent letters to Jerusalem (cf. Jer. xxix. 
25), some of Ezekiel's prophecies might have become known in 


the latter city a considerable time before the final catastrophe, 
and even reached the ears of Jeremiah. 

With the demolition of these two arguments, the main strength 
of our opponents, in the bringing forward of proof, has been 
broken. Schrader has not adduced a single instance showing; 
" the absence of certain specific Jeremianic peculiarities." For 
" the comparatively less emphasis given to the sins of the 
people," which is alleged in Noldeke's note, cannot be applied 
in support of that position, even if it were correct, in view of 
the prominence so frequently assigned to grievous sin, i. 5, 
8, 14, 18, 22, ii. 14, iii. 39, 42, iv. 6, 13, v. 7 ; because the 
Lamentations were not composed with the design of punishing 
the people for their sin, but were intended to comfort in their 
misery, and to raise up again, the people who had been severely 
chastised for the guilt of their sin, which was greater than the 
sin of Sodom (iv. 6). Add to this, that Schrader, by using this 
argument, contradicts himself ; for he has shortly before ad- 
duced the affinity in contents, spirit, tone, and language as an 
argument to which one might appeal in support of the Jere- 
mianic authorship, and this affinity he has established by a long 
series of quotations. 1 

Further, the remark that " the artificiality of form, especially 
in chap, i., ii., and iv., is unlike Jeremiah," is correct only in so 
far as no alphabetic poems are to be found in the prophetic 
book of Jeremiah. But are we then to look for poetic com- 
positions in prophetic addresses and historical narratives? The 
remark now quoted is based on the assertion made by other 
critics, that the alphabetic arrangement of poetic compositions 
generally is a mere rhetorical work of art, and the production of 
a later but degenerate taste (Ed. Reuss and others), or a piece of 

1 The passages are the following: i. 8f., cf. with Jer. iv. 30, xiii. 21 f., 
26 ; i. 20, iv. 13 ff., with Jer. xiv. 7, 18 ; ii. 14 with Jer. xiv. 13 ; i. 16, ii. 
11, iii. 48, 49, with Jer. viii. 21 ff., ix. 16 ff., xiii. 17, xiv. 17 ; iii. 52 with 
Jer. xv. 26 f. ; chap. iii. with Jer. xv. 10 ff., xvii. 5ff., 14 ff., xx. 7ff., 14 ff. 
(De Wette). Further, '•ay m n^ra, i- 15, ii. 13, cf. Jer. xiv. 17, xlvi. 11 ; 
-liJE, ii. 22, cf. Jer. iv. 25, x. 3, 10 ;' ^>iT, i- 11, cf. Jer. xv. 19 ; D^OIID 
instead of D^CPIO, i. 11 ; PIT2 instead of rnj, i. 8; Ni$> instead of jA : 
b $>3N, iv. 5 ; }N3, iv. 14 ; %n, ii. 14. Finally, Chaldaizing forms: p»»ity, 
i. 4; kjb* instead of r\y&\ iv. 1 ; sntSB, iii- 12 ; ryn, ii. 1 ; nb>, i. 14. 


trifling unworthy of the prophet. This view has long ago been 
shown groundless ; cf. Havernick's Einl. iii. S. 46 ff . Even 
Hupfeld, who calls the alphabetical arrangement " artificiality 
or trifling," considers that it is of a kindred nature with collec- 
tions of proverbs, and with small poems of a didactic character 
but deficient in close connection of thought; he thinks, too, that 
it may be comparatively ancient as a style of composition, and 
that it was not applied till later to other species of writing (as 
Lamentations). To this, Ed. Riehm, in the second edition of 
Hupfeld on the Psalms, i. p. 31, has added a very true remark : 
" In lyric poetry proper, the employment of this artificial form 
is naturally and intrinsically justified only when a single funda- 
mental strain, that fills the whole soul of the poet, — deep, strong, 
and sustained, — seeks to die away in many different forms of 
chords ; hence its employment in the elegy." The application 
of this artificial form to such a purpose is perfectly justified in . 
these Lamentations ; and the attempt to deny that these poems 
are the work of Jeremiah, on the ground of their artificial con- 
struction, would be as great an exhibition of arbitrary conduct, 
as if any one refused to ascribe the hymn " Befiehl du deine 
Wege " to Paul Gerhardt, or " Wie schon leucht' uns der Mor- 
genstern" to Philip Nicolai, on the ground of the "artificiality" 
that manifests itself in the beginning of the verses. 

Finally, the language and the mode of representation in 
these poems certainly exhibit much that is peculiar; and we 
find in them many words, word-forms, and modes of expression, 
which do not occur in the prophecies of Jeremiah. But it 
must also be borne in mind that the Lamentations are not 
prophetic addresses intended to warn, rebuke, and comfort, but 
lyric poetry, which has its own proper style of language, and 
this different from prophetic address. Both the subject- 
matter and the poetic form of these poems, smooth though 
this is in general, necessarily resulted in this, — that through 
the prevalence of peculiar thoughts, modes of representation, 
and feelings, the language also received an impress, in words 
and modes of expression, that was peculiar to itself, and 
different from the prophetic diction of Jeremiah. The mere col- 
lection of the words, word-forms, and expressions peculiar to the 
Lamentations, and not occurring in the prophecies of Jeremiah, 


cannot furnish irrefragable proof that the authors of the two 
writings were different, unless it be shown, at the same time, that 
the character of the language in both writings is essentially 
different, and that for the ideas, modes of representation, and 
thoughts common to both, other words and expressions are used in 
the Lamentations than those found in the prophecies of Jeremiah. 
But neither the one nor the other has been made out by Niigels- 
bach. After giving the long list he has prepared, which occupies 
five and a half columns, and which gives the words occurring 
in the different verses of the five chapters, he explains that he 
does not seek to lay any w r eight on the airal; Xeyojxeva, pro- 
bably because Jeremiah also has many such words ; but then 
he raises the question, " How is the fact to be accounted for, 
that Jeremiah never uses JVpy or ,, px except as divine names, 
while the latter, nevertheless, occurs fourteen times in the 
Lamentations ; that Jeremiah never uses t^SH, na* } mx, mr, 

somono, 1&3, tan &6, nay, spy, nm, si&yn, nyn, ta\ oia nsw, nor 

:. "7 t:-7 - • 7 -t 7 Tt7 ■ - t/ tt/'v 7 t • ;> -t> ■ t it) "*"■ 

iOTj the relative K>, or 2njj|3 without a suffix, while all these 
expressions occur more or less frequently in the Lamentations ? 
And it has been well remarked that these expressions are not of 
so specific a kind, that the fact of their not being used in the 
prophetic book, but employed in the Lamentations, might be 
explained from the nature of the contents ; but they belong, 
in great measure, to what I may call the house-dress of the 
author, which he constantly wears, — which he more or less 
unconsciously and unintentionally uses." We answer that the 
simile of the house-dress has been most unhappily chosen. 
Although the style of a writer may possibly be compared to his 
coat, yet nobody is in the habit of wearing his house-coat 
always, on Sundays and week-days, in the house and out of 
it ; so, too, no writer is in the habit of using always the same 
words in prose and poetry. When we investigate the matter 
itself, we find we must, first of all, deduct fully one-third of the 
words enumerated, although these have evidently been collected 
and arranged as the most convincing proof ; the words thus re- 
jected are also found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah, though 
not quite in the same grammatical form, as the note shows. 1 Then 

1 For 31)153, without a suffix, iii. 45, exactly corresponds to 2"ij50, Jer. 



we ask the counter question, whether words which one who 
composed five poems employs only in one of these pieces, or 
only once or twice throughout the whole, ought to be reckoned 
as his house-dress ? Of the words adduced, we do not find a 
single one in all the five poems, but SJBTI only in iii. 2, D^S KK>3 
only in iv. 1 6, nraa only in iii. 14 and v. 14, ns nya only in ii. 
16 and iii. 46, 1%' only in iii. 35 and 38, n:x (Niphal) only in 
chap. i. (four times). Moreover, we ask whether Jeremiah 
might not also, in lyric poems, use poetic words which could 
not be employed in homely address? But of the words enu- 
merated, toi 5 , tfvy, and ^nx alone as a name of God, together 
with nVM, belong to the poetic style. 1 They are therefore not 
found in Jeremiah, simply because his prophetic addresses 
are neither lyric poems, nor rise to the lyric height of pro- 
phetic address. The rest of the words mentioned are also 
found in the Psalms especially, and in Job, as will be shown 
in the detailed exposition. And when we go deeper into the 
matter, we find that, in the Lamentations, there is the same 
tendency to reproduce the thoughts and language of the Psalms 

vi. 1: cf. besides, "»3np3, iv. 15, 20, with. Jer. xxiii. 9 ; F)3"lj?3,iv. 13, and 
Jer. vi. 6, xlvi. 21. tan i6, ii- 2, 17, 21, iii. 43, is found five times in 

- T 

Jeremiah (xiii. 14, xv. 5, xxi. 7, 1. 14, li. 3), not only in the 3d pers. per- 
fect, but also in the imperfect. Of y^a there occurs the Kal, Jer. li. 34, 
and the noun yta, li. 44 ; from TjtJTI, the noun ?p"n certainly is not found, 
but perhaps the verb is used in the Hiphil, Jer. xiii. 16, as the Kal in Lam. 
iv. 8, v. 16. With sen, i. 8 and iii. 39, alternates nXBn, iv. 6, 22, which 
Jeremiah frequently uses. Of DEE', the participle DEity certainly is not 
found in Jeremiah, but the adj. qob> is found in Jer. xii. 11, as in Lam. 
v. 8 ; and the Niphal of the verb in Jer. iv. 9 and xxxiii. 10, as in Lam. 
iv. 5. Lastly, neither is n3J? wholly wanting in Jeremiah ; for in xxii. 

T T 

16 we are to read ijy, miser, although the noun ">jy and the verb are not 

met with in his book. 

1 ft^y as a name of God (iii. 35 and 38), besides Isa. xiv. 14, is found 
only in poetic pieces, Num. xxvi. 16, Deut. xxxii. 8, and about twenty 
times in the Psalms ; ij'ns used by itself, except in direct addresses to God 
and interviews with Him, occurs in the Psalms about forty times, and also 
in the addresses of particular prophets, composed in the loftier style, par- 
ticularly Isaiah and Amos ; lastly, rtfM'j in iii- 14, occurs as a reminiscence 
cf Job xxx. 9, and in the Psalms and hymns, Isa. xxxviii. 20, and Hab. 
iii. 10. 


(especially those describing the psalmist's sufferings) and of the 
book of Job/that characterizes the prophecies of Jeremiah, in 
the use he makes of Deuteronomy and the writings of earlier 
prophets. Another peculiarity of Jeremiah's style is seen in 
the fact that the composer of the Lamentations, like Jeremiah 
in his addresses, repeats himself much, not merely in his ideas, 
but also in his words : e.g., ^>?n ^ occurs four times, of which 
three instances are in chap. ii. (vers. 2, 17, 21) and one in 
iii. 43; T?no (and 1i»n») also occurs four times (i. 7, 10, 11, 
ii. 4), andna«3 as frequently (i. 4, 8, 11, 21) ; W is found five 
times (i. 4, 5, 12, iii. 32, 33), but in all the other Old Testa- 
ment writings only thrice; and Jeremiah also uses ji^ four 
times, while, of all the other prophets, Isaiah is the only one 
who employs it, and this he does twice. 

These marks may be sufficient of themselves to show unmis- 
takeably that the peculiarity of the prophet as an author is 
also found in the Lamentations, and that nothing can be dis- 
covered showing a difference of language in the expression of 
thoughts common to both writings. But this will be still more 
evident if we consider, finally, the similarity, both as regards 
the subjects of thought and the style of expression, exhibited in 
a considerable number of instances in which certain expressions 
characteristic of Jeremiah are also found in Lamentations : 
e.g., the frequent employment of 12^ and n?& H3 "DP, ii. 11, 13, 
iii. 47, 48, iv. 10, cf. with Jer. iv. 6, 20, vi. 1, 14, viii. 11, 
21, x. 19, xiv. 17, etc. ; 3nDK> nu», ii. 22, with 3^0 "too, 
Jer. vi. 25, xx. 3, 10, xlvi. 5, xlix. 29 ; (?», or) ny?n rrw \% 
i. 16, ii. 18, iii. 48, ii. 11, cf. with Jer. viii. 23, ix. 17, 
xiii. 17, xiv. 17 ; ?hf W?n, iii. H, with phfc6 Wjn, Jer. xx. 7 ; 
nnsi "inQ, iii. 47, as in Jer. xlviii. 43. Cf. also the note on 
p. 345, after the passages quoted by De Wette. Pareau, then, 
had good reason when, long ago, he pointed out the peculiari- 
ties of Jeremiah in the style of the Lamentations ; and only a 
superficial criticism can assert against this, that the existing 
coincidences find a sufficient explanation in the assumption that, 
speaking generally, the two books were composed at the same 
period. 1 We therefore close this investigation, after having 

1 Pareau has discussed this question very well in the Observatt. general, 
prefixed to his Commentary, § 6-8, and concludes Avith this residt: Non 


proved that the tradition which ascribes the Lamentations to 
the prophet Jeremiah as their author is as well-founded as any 
ancient historical tradition whatever. 

Time of Composition. — From the organic connection of 
the five poems, as shown above, it follows of itself that they 
cannot have proceeded from different authors, nor originated at 
different periods, but were composed at brief intervals, one after 
the other, not long after the destruction of Jerusalem and the 
fall of the kingdom of Judah, and in the order in which they 
have been transmitted to us. What gives special support to 
this conclusion is the circumstance that, throughout these 
Lamentations, there is no possibility of mistaking the expression 
of grief, still fresh in the writer's mind, over the horrors of 
that fearful catastrophe. The assumption, however, that the 
prophet, in the picture he draws, had before his eyes the ruins 
of the city, and the misery of those who had been left behind, 
cannot be certainly made out from a consideration of the con- 
tents of the poems. But there seems to be no doubt that 
Jeremiah composed them in the interval between the destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem and his involuntary departure to Egypt. 
There is no tenable ground for the confident assertion of Evvald, 
that they were composed in Egypt ; for the passages, i. 3, iv. 
18 f ., v. 5, 9, do not mean that the writer was then living among 
the fugitives who had fled in such vast multitudes to Egypt, 
partly before and partly after the destruction of the city. 

Position of the Lamentations in the Canon. — The 
separation of the Lamentations from the book of the prophecies 
of Jeremiah, and their reception into the third division of the 
Old Testament canon (the Kethubim), — which Kalkschmiclt and 
Thenius, in complete misunderstanding of the principle on which 
the tripartition of the canon is founded, would bring to bear as an 
argument against their having been composed by Jeremiah, — are 

tantum regnant in Threnis varii illi cliaracteres, quos stilo Jeremix proprios 
esse vidimus, verum etiam manifesto cernitur in eoriim scriptore animus tener, 
lenis, ad quxvis tristia facile commotus ac dolorem xgre ferens. Quod autem 
in Us frequentius observetur, qaam in sermonibus Jeremix propheticis, dictionis 
sublimitas et brevitas majorque imaginum copia et jmlchritudo, atque concep- 
tuum vis et intentio : illudvix aliter fieri potuisse agnosceinus, si ad argumhiti 
naturam attendamus, quo rehemenlur affici debuerit Jeremias ; etc., p. 40. 


fully accounted for by their subjective, lyric contents ; in conse- 
quence of this they differ essentially from the prophecies, and 
take their place alongside of the Psalms and other productions 
of sacred poesy. This position of theirs among the Kethubim 
must be considered (against Bleek) as the original one ; their 
arrangement by the side of the prophetic writings of Jeremiah 
in the LXX. and Vulgate, which Luther [as well as the trans- 
lators of the " authorized" English version] has retained, must 
have originated with the Alexandrine translators, who could 
not understand the arrangement of the Hebrew canon, and 
who afterwards, in order to make the number of the books of 
the Bible the same as that of the letters of the alphabet (twenty- 
two), counted the Lamentations as forming one book with the 
prophecies of Jeremiah. That this arrangement and enume- 
ration of the Lamentations, observed by the Hellenists, deviated 
from the tradition of the Jews of Palestine, may be perceived 
from the remark of Jerome, in his Prol. galeat., regarding this 
mode of reckoning : quamquam nonnulli Ruth et Cynoth inter 
hagiographa scriptitent, et hos libros in suo putent numero suppu- 
tandos. Their arrangement in the series of the five Megilloth 
(rolls appointed to be read on certain annual feast-days and 
memorial-days) in our editions of the Hebrew Bible was not- 
fixed till a later period, when, according to the ordinance in the 
synagogal liturgy, the Lamentations were appointed to be read 
on the ninth of the month Ab, as the anniversary of the de- 
struction of the temples of Solomon and of Herod. [Cf. Herzog's 
Real-Encykl. xv. 310.] 

The importance of the Lamentations, as a part of the canon, 
does not so much consist in the mere fact that they were com- 
posed by Jeremiah, and contain outpourings of sorrow on 
different occasions over the misery of his people, as rather in 
their being an evidence of the interest with which Jeremiah, 
in the discharge of his functions as a prophet, continued to 
watch over the ruins of Jerusalem. In these Lamentations he 
seeks not merely to give expression to the sorrow of the people 
that he may weep with them, but by his outpour of complaint 
to rouse his fellow-countrymen to an acknowledgment of God's 
justice in this visitation, to keep them from despair under the 
burden of unutterable woe, and by teaching them how to give 


due submission to the judgment that has befallen them, to lead 
once more to God those who would not let themselves be 
brought to Him through his previous testimony regarding that 
judgment while it was yet impending. The Jewish synagogue 
has recognised and duly estimated the importance of the 
Lamentations in these respects, by appointing that the book 
should be read on the anniversary of the destruction of the 
temple. A like appreciation has been made by the Christian 
Church, which, rightly perceiving that the Israelitish com- 
munity is the subject in these poems, attributed to them a 
reference to the church militant ; and, viewing the judgment 
on the people of God as a prophecy of the judgment that came 
on Him who took the sins of the whole world upon Himself, it 
has received a portion of the Lamentations into the ritual for 
the Passion Week, and concludes each of these lessons with the 
words, " Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad Dominion, Deum 
taum." Cf. The Passion Week in its Ceremonies and Prayers, 
Spires 1856, and the Officium hebdomadce sanctce, a reprinted 
extract from Dr. Reischl's Passionate, Munich 1857. The 
motives for this choice are so far set forth by Allioli (in Neu- 
mann, ii. S. 486) in the following terms: "The church wished 
believers to see, in the great punishments which God had 
ordained against Jerusalem by the instrumentality of Nebu- 
chadnezzar, the still more severe chastisement that God has 
brought on Israel after the dreadful murder of the Messias. 
She seeks to bewail the unhappy condition of the blinded nation, 
once favoured with the divine revelation. In the fall of Jeru- 
salem, she seeks to deplore the evil that has come on herself 
from external and internal foes, the persecution of brother by 
brother, the havoc made by false teachers, the looseness of 
opinions, the sad advances made by indifference in matters of 
faith and by the corruption of morals. In the devastation and 
the penalties inflicted on Jerusalem, she wishes to present for 
consideration the destruction which comes on every soul that 
dies the death in sins. In the condition of the ruined city and 
the homeless nation, she seeks to make men bewail the homeless 
condition of the whole race, who have fallen into decay and 
disorder through Adam's sin. And lastly, in the nation visited 
with punishment, she seeks to set forth Jesus Christ Himself, 


in so far as lie has become the substitute of all men, and 
suffered for their sins." This display of all these references is 
sadly deficient in logical arrangement ; but it contains a precious 
kernel of biblical truth, which the Evangelical Church 1 has 
endeavoured in many ways to turn to advantage. Regarding 
the adaptations of the Lamentations made for liturgical use in 
the Evangelical Church, see particulars in Schoberlein, Schatz 
des liturgischen Chor- unci Gemeindegesanges, ii. S. 444 ff. 

As to the commentaries on the Lamentations, see Keil's 
Manual of Introduction to the Old Testament, vol. i. p. 508 
[Clark's Foreign Theol. Library]. To the list of works therein 
given are to be appended, as later productions, Ewald's recent 
treatment of the book in the third edition of the Didder des 
A. Bundes (1866), i. 2, where the Lamentations have been 
inserted among the Psalms, S. 321 ff. ; Wilh. Engelhardt, die 
Klagel. Jerem. iibersetzt. 1867 ; Ernst Grerlach, die Klagel. erkl. 
1868 ; and Nagelsbach, in Lange's series of commentaries 
(Clark's English edition), 1868. 

1 i.e. the " United Evangelical Church" of Germany, the National Pro- 
testant Church, which was formed by the coalition of the Lutheran and 
Reformed (or Calvinistic) communions. This union began in Prussia in 
1817, and was gradually effected in other German states. But many 
staunch adherents of the old distinctive (Augsburg and Helvetic) Con- 
fessions endured persecution rather than consent to enter the " United " 
Church. The liturgy was framed under the special direction of the Prussian 
king in 1821, and after some alterations were made on it, appointed by a 
royal decree, in 1830, to be used in all the churches.— Tr. 




1 l Alas ! how she sits alone, the city [that was] full of people ! 

She has become like a widow, [that was] great among the nations ; 
The princess among provinces has become a vassal. 

2 She weeps bitterly through the night, and her tears are upon her cheek ; 
She has no comforter out of all her lovers : 

All her friends have deceived her ; they have become enemies to her. 

3 Judah is taken captive out of affliction, and out of much servitude ; 
She sitteth among the nations, she hath found no rest ; 

All those who pursued her overtook her in the midst of her distresses. 

4 The ways of Zion mourn, for want of those who went up to the appointed 

feast ; 
All her gates are waste ; her priests sigh ; 
Her virgins are sad, and she herself is in bitterness. 

5 Her enemies have become supreme ; those who hate her are at ease ; 
For Jahveh hath afflicted her because of the multitude of her trans- 
gressions : 

Her young children have gone into captivity before the oppressor. 

6 And from the daughter of Zion all her honour has departed ; 
Her princes have become like harts [that] have found no pasture, 
And have gone without strength before the pursuer. 

1 Keil has attempted, in his German translation of this and the next 
three chapters, to reproduce something of the alphabetic acrosticism of the 
original (see above, p. 337) ; but he has frequently been compelled, in 
consequence, to give something else than a faithful reproduction of the 
Hebrew. It will be observed that his example has not been followed here ; 
but his peculiar renderings have generally been given, except where these 
peculiarities were evidently caused by the self-imposed restraint now men- 
tioned. He himself confesses, in two passages omitted from the present 
translation (pp. 591 and 600 of the German original), that for the sake of 
reproducing the alphabeticism, he has been forced to deviate from a strict 
translation of the ideas presented in the Hebrew. — Tr. 



7 In the days of her affliction and her persecutions, 

Jerusalem remembers all her pleasant things which have been from the 

days of old : 
When her people fell by the hand of the oppressor, and there was none 

to help her, 
Her oppressors saw her, — they laughed at her times of rest. 

8 Jerusalem hath sinned grievously, therefore she hath become an abomi- 

nation : 
All those who honoured her despise her, because they have seen her 

nakedness ; 
And she herself sighs, and turns backward. 

9 Her filth is on her flowing skirts ; she remembered not her latter end ; 
And so she sank wonderfully : she has no comforter. 

" Jahveh, behold my misery !" for the enemy hath boasted. 

10 The oppressor hath spread out his hand upon all her precious things ; 
For she hath seen [how] the heathen have come into her sanctuary, 
[Concerning] whom Thou didst command that they should not enter 

into Thy community. 

11 All her people [have been] sighing, seeking bread ; 

They have given their precious things for bread, to revive their soul. 
See, Jahveh, and consider that I am become despised. 

12 [Is it] nothing to you, all ye that pass along the way ? 

Consider, and see if there be sorrow like my sorrow which is done to me, 
Whom Jahveh hath afflicted in the day of the burning of His anger. 

13 From above He sent fire in my bones, so that it mastered them ; 
He hath spread a net for my feet, He hath turned me back ; 

He hath made me desolate and ever languishing. 

14 The yoke of my transgressions hath been fastened to by His hand ; 
They have interwoven themselves, they have come up on my neck ; it 

hath made my strength fail : 
The Lord hath put me into the hands of [those against whom] I cannot 
rise up. 

15 The Lord hath removed all my strong ones in my midst ; 

He hath proclaimed a festival against me, to break my young men in 

pieces : 
The Lord hath trodden the wine-press for the virgin daughter of Judah. 

16 Because of these things I weep ; my eye, my eye runneth down [with] 

Because a comforter is far from me, one to refresh my soul ; 
My children are destroyed, because the enemy hath prevailed. 

17 Zion stretcheth forth her hands, [yet] there is none to comfort her ; 
Jahveh hath commanded concerning Jacob ; his oppressors are round 

about him : 
Jerusalem hath become an abomination among them. 

18 Jahveh is righteous, for I have rebelled against His mouth. 
Hear now, all ye peoples, and behold my sorrow ; 

My virgius and my young men are gone into captivity. 

CHAP. I. 357 

19 I called for my lovers, [but] they have deceived me ; 
My priests and my elders expired in the city, 

When they were seeking bread for themselves, that they might revive 
their spirit. 

20 Behold, Jahveh, how distressed I am ! my bowels are moved ; 
My heart is turned within me, for I was very rebellious : 
Without, the sword bereaveth [me] ; within, [it is] like death. 

21 They have heard that I sigh, I have no comforter : 

All mine enemies have heard of my trouble ; they are glad because Thou 

hast done it. 
Thou bringest the day [that] Thou hast proclaimed, that they may be 

like me. 

22 Let all their wickedness come before Thee, 

And do to them as Thou hast done to me because of all my trans- 
gressions ; 
For my sighs are many and my heart is faint. 

The poem begins with a doleful meditation on the deeply 
degraded state into which Jerusalem has fallen; and in the first 
half (vers. 1-11), lament is made over the sad condition of the 
unhappy city, which, forsaken by all her friends, and persecuted 
by enemies, has lost all her glory, and, finding no comforter 
in her misery, pines in want and disesteem. In the second half 
(vers. 12-22), the city herself is introduced, weeping, and giving 
expression to her sorrow over the evil determined against her 
because of her sins. Both portions are closely connected. On 
the one hand, we find, even in vers. 9 and 11, tones of lamen- 
tation, like sighs from the city, coming into the description of 
her misery, and preparing the way for the introduction of her 
lamentation in vers. 12-22 ; on the other hand, her sin is men- 
tioned even so early as in vers. 5 and 8 as the cause of her 
misfortune, and the transition thus indicated from complaint 
to the confession of guilt found in the second part. This 
transition is made in ver. 17 by means of a kind of meditation 
on the cheerless and helpless condition of the city. The second 
half of the poem is thereby divided into two equal portions, and 
in such a manner that, while in the former of these (vers. 
12-16) it is complaint that prevails, and the thought of guilt 
comes forward only in ver. 14, in the latter (vers. 18-22) the 
confession of God's justice and of sin in the speaker becomes 
most prominent ; and the repeated mention of misery and op- 
pression rises into an entreaty for deliverance from the misery, 


and the hope that the Lord will requite all evil on the 

Vers. 1-11. Doleful consideration and description of the dis- 
honour that has befallen Jerusalem. In these verses the pro- 
phet, in the name of the godly, pours out his heart before the 
Lord. The dreadful turn that things have taken is briefly 
declared in ver. 1 in two clauses, which set forth the fall of 
Jerusalem from its former glory into the depths of disgrace 
and misery, in such a way that the verse contains the subject 
unfolded in the description that follows. We have deviated 
from the Masoretic pointing, and arranged the verse into three 
members, as in the succeeding verses, which nearly throughout 
form tristichs, and have been divided into two halves by means 
of the Athnach; but we agree with the remark of Gerlach, 
" that, according to the sense, D£7 niTn and not n:»?H3 nrprt is 

/ CD * ~ t t :it T t ; - ; t ;it 

the proper antithesis to D^33 "Tisn." n^K is here, as in ii. ], iv. 
1, 2, an expression of complaint mingled with astonishment ; so 
in Jer. xlviii. 17, Isa. i. 21. " She sits solitary" (cf. Jer. xv. 
17) is intensified by " she has become like a widow." Her 
sitting alone is a token of deep sorrow (cf. Neh. i. 4), and, as 
applied to a city, is a figure of desolation ; cf. Isa. xxvii. 10. 
Here, however, the former reference is the main one ; for 
Jerusalem is personified as a woman, and, with regard to its 
numerous population, is viewed as the mother of a great multi- 
tude of children. V12H is a form of the construct state, 
lengthened by Yod compaginis, found thrice in this verse, and 
also in Isa. i. 21, elegiac composition; such forms are used, in 
general, only in poetry that preserves and affects the antique 
style, and reproduces its peculiar ring. 1 According to the twor 
fold meaning of 2"] (much and great), V12H in the first clause 
designates the multiplicity, multitude of the population ; in the 

1 On the different views regarding the origin and meaning of this Yod 
compaginis, cf. Fr. W. M. Philippi, Wesen u. Ursprung des Status constr. im 
Hebr. S. 96 ff. This writer (S. 152 ff.) takes it to be the remnant of a 
primitive Semitic noun-inflexion, which has been preserved only in a num- 
ber of composite proper names of ancient origin [e.g. p^^SpO, etc.] ; in 
the words ns, ntf, and Dil, in which it has become fused with the third 

T T T 

radical into a long vowel ; and elsewhere only between two words standing 
in the construct relation [see Ges. § 90; Ewald, § 211]. 

chap. i. l-n. 359 

second, the greatness or dignity of the position that Jerusalem 
assumed among the nations, corresponding to the rii^nan "•n-)^, 
" a princess among the provinces." nj^O, from H (properly, the 
circuit of judgment or jurisdiction), is the technical expression 
for the provinces of the empires in Asia (cf. Esth. i. 1, 22, etc.), 
and hence, after the exile, was used of Judah, Ezra ii. 1, Neh. 
vii. 6, and in 1 Kings xx. 17 of the districts in the kingdom of 
Israel. Here, however, nu'Hftn are not the circuits or districts 
of Judah (Thenius), but the provinces of the heathen nations 
rendered subject to the kingdom of Israel under David and 
Solomon (corresponding to B^n), as in Eccles. ii. 8. Jerusalem 
was formerly a princess among the provinces, during the flour- 
ishing period of 'the Jewish kingdom under David and Solomon. 
The writer keeps this time before his mind, in order to depict 
the contrast between the past and present. The city that once 
ruled over nations and provinces has now become but dependent 
on others. DO (the derivation of which is disputed) does not 
mean soccage or tribute, but the one who gives soccage service, a 
soccager ; see on Ex. i. 11 and 1 Kings iv. 6. The words, " The 
princess has become a soccager," signify nothing more than, 
"She who once ruled over peoples and countries has now fallen 
into abject servitude," and are not (with Thenius) to be held as 
"referring to the fact that the remnant that has been left 
behind, or those also of the former inhabitants of the city who 
have returned home, have been set to harder labour by the 
conquerors." When we find the same writer inferring from 
this, that these words presuppose a state of matters in which 
the country round Jerusalem has been for some time previously 
under the oppression of Chaldean officers, and moreover holding 
the opinion that the words " how she sits ..." could only 
have been written by one who had for a considerable period 
been looking on Jerusalem in its desolate condition, we can 
only wonder at such an utter want of power to understand 
poetic language. — Ver. 2. In this sorrow of hers she has not 
a single comforter, since all her friends from whom she could 
expect consolation have become faithless to her, and turned 
enemies. n33n 133, " weeping she weeps," i.e. she weeps very 
much, or bitterly, not continually (Meier) ; the inf. abs. before 
the verb does not express the continuation, but the intensity of 


the action [Gesenius, § 131, 3, a; Ewald, § 312]. rM|, " in the 
night," not "on into the night" (Ewald). The weeping by- 
night does not exclude, but includes, weeping by day; cf. ii. 18 f. 
Night is mentioned as the time when grief and sorrow are wont 
to give place to sleep. When tears do not cease to flow even 
during the night, the sorrow must be overwhelming. The fol- 
lowing clause, "and her tears are upon her cheek," serves merely 
to intensify, and must not be placed (with Thenius) in antithesis 
to what precedes : " while her sorrow shows itself most violently 
during the loneliness of the night, her cheeks are yet always 
wet with tears (even during the day)." But the greatness of 
this sorrow of heart is due to the fact that she has no comforter, 
— a thought which is repeated in vers. 9, 16, 17, and 21. For 
her friends are faithless, and have become enemies. " Lovers " 
and "friends" are the nations with which Jerusalem made 
alliances, especially Egypt (cf. Jer. ii. 36 f.) ; then the smaller 
nations round about, — Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and 
Phoenicians, with which Zedekiah had conspired against the 
king of Babylon, Jer. xxvii. 3. Testimony is given in Ps. 
cxxxvii. 7 to the hostile dealing on the part of the Edomites 
against Judah at the destruction of Jerusalem; and Ezekiel 
(chap. xxv. 3, 6) charges the Ammonites and Tyrians with 
having shown malicious delight over the fall of Jerusalem ; but 
the hostility of the Moabites is evident from the inimical 
behaviour of their King Baalis towards Judah, mentioned in 
Jer. xl. 14. 

With ver. 3 begins the specific account of the misery over 
which Jerusalem sorrows so deeply. Judah has gone into 
exile, but she does not find any rest there among the nations. 
" Judah " is the population not merely of Jerusalem, but of 
the whole kingdom, whose deportation is bewailed by Jerusalem 
as the mother of the whole country. Although rnirp designates 
the people, and not the country, it is construed as a feminine, 
because the inhabitants are regarded as the daughter of the 
land ; cf. Ewald, § 174, b [and Gesenius, § 107, 4, a]. 'Ul *#» 
has been explained, since J. D. Michaelis, by most modern 
expositors (Kosenmuller, Maurer, Ewald, Thenius, Nagelsbach), 
and previously by Calvin, as referring to the cause of the 
emigration, "from (because of) misery and much servitude;" 

CHAP. I. 1-11. 3G1 

and in harmony with this view, ffWP nnpa has been understood, 
not of the deportation of Judah into exile, but of the voluntary 
emigration of the fugitives who sought to escape from the 
power of the Chaldeans by fleeing into foreign countries, partly 
before and partly after the destruction of Jerusalem. But this 
interpretation neither agrees with the meaning of the words 
nor the context. Those fugitives cannot be designated 
"Judah," because, however numerous one may think they 
were, they formed but a fraction of the inhabitants of Judah : 
the flower of the nation had been carried off to Babylon into 
exile, for which the usual word is n?3. The context also re- 

7 TT 

quires us to refer the words to involuntary emigration into exile. 
For, in comparison with this, the emigration of fugitives to 
different countries was so unimportant a matter that the writer 
could not possibly have been silent regarding the deportation of 
the people, and placed this secondary consideration in the fore- 
ground as the cause of the sorrow. ^'V? is not to be taken in 
a causal sense, for IP simply denotes the coming out of a certain 
condition, "out of misery," into which Judah had fallen through 
the occupation of the country, first by Pharaoh-Necho, then by 
the Chaldeans ; and '"nhy 2'~i does not mean " much service," 
but "much labour." For nnby. does not mean "service" 
( = rviW) ? but "labour, work, business," e.g. "fe 1 ^l' 2 V : , "the* 
service of the king," ix. the service to be rendered to the kinc 
in the shape of work (1 Chron. xxvi. 30), and the labour con- 
nected with public worship (1 Chron. ix. 13, xxviii. 14, etc.) ; 
here, in connection with ^'V } it means severe labour and toil 
which the people had to render, partly for the king, that he 
might get ready the tribute imposed on the country, and partly 
to defend the country and the capital against those who sought 
to conquer them. Although Judah had wandered out from a 
condition of misery and toil into exile, yet even there she found 
no rest among the nations, just as Moses had already predicted 
to the faithless nation, Deut. xxviii. 65. All her pursuers find 
her Q^ytpn p3 } inter angustias (Vulgate). This word denotes 
"straits," narrow places where escape is impossible (Ps. cxvi. 
3, cxviii. 5), or circumstances in life from which no escape can 
be found. — Ver. 4. Zion {i.e. Jerusalem, as the holy city) is 
laid waste; feasts and rejoicing have disappeared from it. 


" The ways of Zion " are neither the streets of Jerusalem 
(Rosenmiiller), which are called rton, nor the highways or 
main roads leading to Zion from different directions (Thenius, 
who erroneously assumes that the temple, which was situated 
on Moriah, together with its fore-courts, could only be reached 
through Zion), but the roads or highways leading to Jerusalem. 
These are "mourning," i.e., in plain language, desolate, deserted, 
because there are no longer any going up to Jerusalem to 
observe the feasts. For this same reason the gates of Zion 
(i.e. the city gates) are also in ruins, because there is no longer 
any one going out and in through them, and men no longer 
assemble there. The reason why the priests and the virgins 
are here conjoined as representatives of the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem is, that lamentation is made over the cessation of 
the religious feasts. The virgins are here considered as those 
who enlivened the national festivals by playing, singing, and 
dancing: Jer. xxxi. 13; Ps. Ixviii. 26; Judg. xxi. 19, 21; 
Ex. xv. 20. rto (Niphal of n£) is used here, as in Zeph. ii. 
13, of sorrow over the cessation of the festivals. Following 
the arbitrary rendering, a^o/xevoi, of the LXX., Ewald would 
alter the word in the text into nfaina, « carried captive." But 
there is no necessity for this : he does not observe that this 
rendering does not harmonize with the parallelism of the 
clauses, and that aru means to drive away, but not to lead 
captive. 1 NW, " and she (Zion) herself " is in bitterness (cf. 
Euth i. 13, 20), i.e. she feels bitter sorrow. In vers. 6, 7, 
are mentioned the causes of this grief. — Ver. 5. Her adver- 
saries or oppressors, in relation to her, have become the head 
(and Judah thus the tail), as was threatened, Deut. xxviii. 44 ; 
whereas, according to ver. 13 in that same address of Moses, 

i • 

the reverse was intended. Her enemies, knowing that their 
power is supreme, and that Judah has been completely van- 
quished, are quite at ease, secure (W, cf. Jer. xii. 1). This 
unhappy fate Zion has brought on herself through the mul- 
titude of her own transgressions. Her children (pY$V, chil- 
dren of tender age) are driven away by the enemy like a flock. 
The comparison to a flock of lambs is indicated by \3S?. But 

1 See, however, 1 Sam. xx. 2, with Keil's own rendering, and Isa. xx. 4, 
with Delitzsch's translation. — Tb. 

chap. i. l-n. 363 

Zion has not merely lost what she loves most (the tender 
children), but all her glory ; so that even her princes, enfeebled 
by hunger, cannot escape the pursuers, who overtake them and 
make them prisoners. Like deer that find no pasture, they 
flee exhausted before the pursuer. D7JK2) h as been rendered 
a><? tcpiol by the LXX., and ut arietes by the Vulgate ; hence 
Kalkschmidt, Bottcher (Aehrenl. S. 94), and Thenius would 
read DvW3" against which Rosenmiiller has remarked : per- 
peram, nam hirci non sunt fugacia animalia, sed cervi. Raschi 
had already indicated the point of the comparison in the words, 
quibus nullce vires sunt ad effugiendum, fame eorum robore 
debilitato. The objections raised against QvJW as the correct 
reading are founded on the erroneous supposition that the 
subject treated of is the carrying away of the princes into 
exile; and that for the princes, in contrast with the young, 
no more suitable emblem could be chosen than the ram. But 
*0P does not mean " the driver," him who leads or drives the 
captives into exile, but a the pursuer," who runs after the 
fugitive and seeks to catch him. The words treat of the 
capture of the princes : the flight of the king and his princes 
at the taking of Jerusalem (2 Kings xxv. 3 f.) hovered before 
the writer's mind. For such a subject, the comparison of the 
fugitive princes to starved or badly fed rams is inappropriate ; 
but it is suitable enough to compare them with harts which had 
lost all power to run, because they had been unable to find 
any pasture, and nb"N?3 (without strength, i.e. in weakness) 
are pursued and caught. 

The loss of all her magnificence (ver. 7) brings to the 
remembrance of the sorrowing city, in her trouble, the former 
days of her now departed glory. " Jerusalem " is not the totality 
of those who are carried away (Thenius), but the city personi- 
fied as the daughter of Zion (cf. ver. 6). " The days of her 
affliction," etc., is not the direct object of " remembers," as 
Pareau and Kalkschmidt assume, with the LXX. ; the object 
is " all her pleasant things." If " the days of her affliction " 
were also intended to be the object, u all her pleasant things " 
would be preceded by the copula 1, which Pareau indeed 
supplies, but arbitrarily. Moreover, the combination of the 
days of misery with the glory of bygone days is inappropriate, 


because Jerusalem feels her present misery directly, and does 
not need first to call them to remembrance. " The days of her 
affliction," etc., is the accusative of duration. Living through 
the times of her adversity, Jerusalem thinks of former happy 
times, and this remembrance increases her sorrow. D'HTiD 
occurs only here, in iii. 19 and in Isa. lviii. 7 : in meaning it is 
connected with "IVi, vagari, and signifies roaming, — not volun- 
tary, but compulsory, — rejection, persecution; while the adjective 
D'Hno, found in Isaiah, is, as regards its form, taken from *no, 
which is cognate with m tM3fm or DH«3no (ver. 11, Kethib) 
is perhaps used in a more general sense than D'Hpno, ii. 4 and 
i. 11 (Qeri), and signifies what is costly, splendid, viz. gracious 
gifts, both of a temporal and spiritual kind, which Israel for- 
merly possessed, while O^n? signifies costly treasures. " The 
days of old " are the times of Moses and Joshua, of David 
and Solomon. In the words, " when her people fell," etc., 
the days, of misery are more exactly specified. The suffix in 
rnfcO refers to Jerusalem. &~M are the foes into whose power 
Jerusalem fell helplessly, not specially the escorts of those 
who were carried away (Thenius). They made a mockery 
of her DVQBfe. This word is air. \ey. It is not identical in 
meaning with rriri3E>, sabbata (Vulgate, Luther, etc.), though 
connected with it; nor does it signify deletiones, destructions 
(Gesenius), but cessationes. This last rendering, however, is 
not to be taken according to the explanation of Eosennmller : 
quod cessasset omnis ille decor, qui nominatas este ante, princi- 
patus et prosper rerum status ; but rather as L. Capellus in his 
nott. crit. expresses it : quod nunc terra ejus deserta jacet nee 
colitur et quasi cessat et feriatur, though he does not quite 
exhaust the meaning. As Gerlach rightly remarks, the ex- 
pression is " evidently used with reference to the threatenings 
given in the law, Lev. xxvi. 34, 35, that the land would ob- 
serve its Sabbaths, — that it will keep them during the whole 
period of the desolation, when Israel is in the land of his 
enemies." We must not, however, restrict the reference 
merely to the uncultivated state of the fields, but extend it so 
that it shall be applied to cessation from all kinds of employ- 
ment, even those connected with the worship of God, which 
were necessary for the hallowing of the Sabbath. The mockery 

chap. i. l-ii. 3G5 

of enemies does not apply to the Jewish celebration of the 
Sabbath (to which Grotius refers the words), but to the ces- 
sation of the public worship of the Lord, inasmuch as the 
heathen, by destroying Jerusalem and the temple, fancied 
they had not only put an end to the worship of the God of the 
Jews, but also conquered the God of Israel as a helpless 
national deity, and made a mock of Israel's faith in Jahveh as 
the only true God. — Ver. 8 f. But Jerusalem has brought this 
unutterable misery on herself through her grievous sins. HNipn 
is intensified by the noun NLDn, instead of the inf. abs., as in 
Jer. xlvi. 5. Jerusalem has sinned grievously, and therefore 
has become an object of aversion. HT3 does not mean et? 
adXov (LXX.), or instabilis (Vulgate) ; nor is it, with the 
Chaldee, llaschi, and most of the ancient expositors, to be 
derived from *nj : we must rather, with modern expositors, 
regard it as a lengthened form of '"HJ, which indeed is the 
reading given in twenty codices of Kennicott. Kegarding 
these forms, cf. Ewald, § 84, a. iTO {prop, what one should 
flee from) signifies in particular the uncleanness of the men- 
strual discharge in women, Lev. xii. 2, 5, etc. ; then the un- 
cleanness of a woman in this condition, Lev. xv. 19, etc.; here 
it is transferred to Jerusalem, personified as such an unclean 
woman, and therefore shunned. T'jn, the Hiphil of ^f (as to 
the form, cf. Ewald, § 114, c), occurs only in this passage, and 
signifies to esteem lightly, the opposite of 133, to esteem, value 
highly; hence ?j?ft, "despised," ver. 11, as in Jer. xv. 19. 
Those who formerly esteemed her — her friends, and those who 
honoured her, i.e. her allies — now despise her, because they 
have seen her nakedness. The nakedness of Jerusalem means 
her sins and vices that have now come to the light. She her- 
self also, through the judgment that has befallen her, has come 
to see the infamy of her deeds, sighs over them, and turns 
away for shame, i.e. withdraws from the people so that they 
may no longer look on her in her shame. In ver. 9 the figure 
of uncleanness is further developed. Her uncleanness sticks to 
the hems or skirts of her garment. nxpD is the defilement 
caused by touching a person or thing Levitically unclean, Lev. 
v. 3, vii. 21 ; here, therefore, it means defilement by sins and 
crimes. This has now been revealed by the judgment, because 


she did not think of her end. These words point to the warn- 
ing given in the song of Moses, Deut. xxxii. 29 : " If they 
were wise, they would understand this (that apostasy from the 
Lord brings heavy punishment after it), they would think of 
their end," i.e. the evil issue of continued resistance to God's 
commands. But the words are especially a quotation from 
Isa. xlvii. 7, where they are used of Babylon, that thought she 
would always remain mistress, and did not think of the end of 
her pride ; therefore on her also came the sentence, " Come 
down from thy glory, sit in the dust," Isa. xlvii. 1, cf. Jer. 
xlviii. 18. Jerusalem has now experienced this also ; she has 
come down wonderfully, or fallen from the height of her glory 
into the depths of misery and disgrace, where she has none to 
comfort her, and is constrained to sigh, " Lord, behold my 
misery!" These words are to be taken as a sigh from the 
daughter of Zion, deeply humbled through shame and repent- 
ance for her sins. This is required by the whole tenor of the 
words, and confirmed by a comparison with vers. 11 and 20. 
D^fe is used adverbially ; cf. Ewald, § 204, b [Gesenius, § 100, 
2, &]. There is no need for supplying anything after ^^H, cf. 
Jer. xlviii. 26, 42, Dan. viii. 4, 8, 11, 25, although rrtfc^ ori- 
ginally stood with it, e.g. Joel ii. 20 ; cf . Ewald, § 122, c [and 
Gesenius' Lexicon, s.v. 713]. The clause T^jin '•s, which assigns 
the reason, refers not merely to the sighing of Jerusalem, but 
also to the words, "and she came down wonderfully." The 
boasting of the enemy shows itself in the regardless, arrogant 
treatment not merely of the people and their property, but also 
of their holy things. This is specially mentioned in ver. 10. 
The enemy has spread out his hand over all her jewels (jTHOnt?, 
the costly treasures of Jerusalem which were plundered), and 
even forced into the sanctuary of the Lord to spoil it of its 
treasures and vessels. C. B. Michaelis, Thenius, Gerlach, 
Nagelsbach, etc., would restrict the meaning of i^onp to the 
precious things of the sanctuary; but not only are there no 
sufficient reasons for this, but the structure of the clauses is 
against it. Neither does the expression, " all our precious 
things," in Isa. lxiv. 10, signify merely the articles used in 
public worship on which the people had placed their desire ; 
nor are " all her pleasant vessels " merely the sacred vessels of 

chap. i. l-n. 367 

the temple. In the latter passage, the suffix in n^ono refers to 
Jerusalem ; and inasmuch as the burning of all the palaces of 
the city (rprtKHN) has been mentioned immediately before, we 
are so much the less at liberty to restrict "all her precious 
vessels " to the vessels of the temple, and must rather, under 
that expressiop, include all the precious vessels of the city, i.e. 
of the palaces and the temple. And Delitzsch has already 
remarked, on Isa. Ixiv. 10, that " under n^no may be in- 
cluded favourite spots, beautiful buildings, pleasure gardens ; 
and only the parallelism induces us to think especially of 
articles used in public worship." But when Thenius, in the 
passage now before us, brings forward the succeeding words, 
" for she hath seen," as a proof that by tt all her pleasant 
things " we are to understand especially the vessels and utensils 
of the temple, he shows that he has not duly considered the 
contents of the clause introduced by ^ (for). The clause 
characterizes the enemy's forcing his way into the sanctuary, 
i.e. the temple of Jerusalem, as an unheard of act of sacrilege, 
because tha were not to enter even into the ^? t of Jahveh. 
The subject treated of is not by any means the robbing of the 
temple — the plundering of its utensils and vessels. The pro- 
hibition against the coming, i.e. the receiving of foreigners 
into the " congregation," is given, Deut. xxiii. 4, with regard 
to the Ammonites and Moabites: this neither refers to the 
jus connuhii (Grotius, Rosenmiiller), nor to the civil rights of 
Jewish citizens (Kalkschmidt), but to reception into religious 
communion with Israel, the eccksia of the Old Covenant 
(mrr ?np). In Deut. xxiii. 8, the restriction is relaxed in 
favour of the Edomites and Egyptians, but in Ezek. xliv. 7, 9, 
in accordance with the ratio legis, extended to all uncircum- 
cised sons of strangers. Hence, in the verse now before us, 
we must not, with Rosenmiiller and Thenius, restrict the refer- 
ence of Q'ja to the Ammonites and Moabites as accomplices of 
the Chaldeans in the capture of Jerusalem and the plundering 
of the temple (2 Kings xxiv. 2) ; rather the D^a are identical 
with those mentioned in the first member of the verse as "W, 
i.e. the Chaldeans, so called not " because their army was made 
up of different nationalities, but because the word contains the 
notice of their being heathens, — profane ones who had forced 


into the sanctuary " (Gerlach). But if we look at the structure 
of the clauses, we find that u for she saw," etc., is parallel to 
"for the enemy hath boasted" of ver. 9; and the clause, "for 
she saw nations coming," etc., contains a further evidence of 
the deep humiliation of Jerusalem ; so that we may take "3 as 
showing the last step in a climax, since the connection of the 
thought is this : For the enemy hath boasted, spreading his 
hand over all her precious things, — he hath even forced his 
way into the sanctuary of the Lord. If this is mentioned as 
the greatest disgrace that could befall Jerusalem, then the 
spreading out of the hands over the precious things of Jeru- 
salem cannot be understood of the plundering of the temple. 
The construction H*3 CU nnxi is in sense exactlv similar to the 
Latin vidit gentes venisse, cf. Ewald, § 284, b; and on the con- 
struction WtaJ i& rm% cf. Ewald, § 336, b. $ foj33 does not 
stand for l^i?? (LXX., Pareau, Kosenmiiller), for ?nj5H J s not 
the congregation of Judah, but that of Jahveh ; and the mean- 
ing is : They shall not come to thee, the people of God, into 
the congregation of the Lord. — Ver. 11. Besides this disgrace, 
famine also comes on her. All her people, i.e. the whole of the 
inhabitants of Jerusalem, sigh after bread, and part with their 
jewels for food, merely to prolong their life. The participles 
D^mSJ, DH$?30, are not to be translated by preterites; they ex- 
press a permanent condition of things, and the words are not to 
be restricted in their reference to the famine during the siege 
of the city (Jer. xxxvii. 21, xxxviii. 9, lii. 6). Even after it 
was reduced, the want of provisions may have continued; so that 
the inhabitants of the city, starved into a surrender, delivered 
up their most valuable things to those who plundered them, for 
victuals to be obtained from these enemies. Yet it is not cor- 
rect to refer the words to the present sad condition of those 
who were left behind, as distinguished from their condition 
during the siege and immediately after the taking of the city 
(Gerlach). This cannot be inferred from the participles. The 
use of these is fully accounted for by the fact that the writer sets 
forth, as present, the whole of the misery that came on Jerusalem 
during the siege, and which did not immediately cease with the 
capture of the city ; he describes it as a state of matters that 
still continues. As to tWVBam, see on ver. 7. Bto l^n, " to 

CHAP. I. 12-16. 369 

bring back the soul," the life, i.e. by giving food to revive one 
who is nearly fainting, to keep in his life ( = nn 3^'n); cf. 
Ruth iv. 15, 1 Sam. xxx. 12, and in a spiritual sense, Ps. xix. 
8, xxiii. 3. In the third member of the verse, the sigh which 
is uttered as a prayer (ver. 9Z>) is repeated in an intensified 
form ; and the way is thus prepared for the transition to the 
lamentation and suppliant request of Jerusalem, which forms 
the second half of the poem. 

Vers. 12-16. The lamentation of the city. — Ver. 12. The first 
words, D?v$ Ni7, are difficult to explain. The LXX. have oi 
7T/30? vjxa<i ; but the reading ought certainly to be ot it. v. The 
Vulgate is, o vos omnes ; the Chaldee, adjaro vos omnes. They 
all seem to have taken Ni? as an exclamation. Hence Le Clerc 
and others would read \xb ; but in this case one would require 
to supply a verb : thus, Le Clerc renders utinam adspiciatis, 
or, "O that my cry might reach you!" But these insertions 
are very suspicious. The same holds true of the explanation 
offered by J. D. Michaelis in his edition of Lowth on Hebrew- 
Poetry, Lect. xxii. : non vobis, transeuntes in via, ha?c acclamo 
(viz. the closing words of ver. 11) : this is decidedly opposed by 
the mere fact that passers-by certainly could not regard a call 
addressed to Jahveh as applying to them. Without supplying 
something or other, the words, as they stand, remain incompre- 
hensible. Nagelsbach would connect them with what follows : 
" [Look] not to yourselves . . . but look and see . . ." But 
the antithesis, " Look not upon yourselves, but look on me (or 
on my sorrow)," has no proper meaning. If we compare the 
kindred thought presented in ver. 18, " Hear, all ye peoples, 
and behold my sorrow," then D3v« Ni? seems to express an idea 
corresponding to N3 tf»B\ But we obtain this result only if we 
take the words as a question, as if Kv = Xipn, though not in the 
sense of an asseveration (which would be unsuitable here, for 
which reason also Ni?n is not used) ; the question is shown to be 
such merely by the tone, as in Ex. viii. 22, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. 
Thus, we might render the sense with Gerlach : Does not (my 
sighing — or, more generally, my misery — come) to you ? The 
Syriac, Lowth, Ewald, Thenius, and Vaihinger have taken the 
words as a question; Ewald, following Prov. viii. 4, would 
supply &nj5K. But such an insertion gives a rendering which 

vol ii. 2 A 


is both harsh and unjustifiable, although it lies at the foundation 
of Luther's " I say unto you." Hence we prefer Gerlach's 
explanation, and accordingly give the free rendering, " Do ye 
not observe, sc. what has befallen me, — or, my misery?" The 
words are, in any case, intended to prepare the way for, and 
thereby render more impressive, the summons addressed to all 
those passing by to look on and consider her sorrow. ??ty is 
passive (Poal) : "which is done to me." Since HJin has no 
object, the second "IBW does not permit of being taken as 
parallel with the first, though the Chaldee, Rosenmuller, 
Kalkschmidt, and others have so regarded it, and translate : 
" with which Jahveh hath afflicted me." With Ewald, Thenius, 
Gerlach, etc., we must refer it to y : " me whom Jahveh hath 
afflicted." The expression, " on the day of the burning of His 
anger," is pretty often found in Jeremiah; see iv. 8, 26, xxv. 37, 
etc. — In vers. 13-15, the misfortunes that have befallen Jeru- 
salem are enumerated in a series of images. " Out from the 
height (i.e. down from heaven) hath He sent fire into my bones ;" 
^-IT!? is rendered by Luther, " and let it have the mastery " 
(Ger. und dasselbige ivaiten lassen). Thenius explains this as 
being Correct, and accordingly seeks to point the word S^flH*^ 
while Ewald takes iTTi to be cognate with nrn ? and translates 
it " made them red-hot ;" and Rosenmuller, following N. G. 
Schroder, attributes to mi from the Arabic, the meaning 
collisit, percussit lapide. All these explanations are not only 
far-fetched and incapable of lexical vindication, but also un- 
necessary. The change of vowels, so as to make it the Hiphil, 
is opposed by the fact that iTTi ? in the Hiphil, does not mean 
to cause to manage, rule, but to tread down, subdue (Isa. xli. 2). 
In Kal, it means to tread, tread down, and rule, as in Jer. v. 31, 
where Gesenius and Dietrich erroneously assume the meaning 
of " striding, going," and accordingly render this passage, " it 
stalks through them." The lexically substantiated meaning, 
" subdue, rule, govern, (or, more generally,) overpower," is 
quite sufficient for the present passage, since iTTi is construed 
not merely with 3, but also with the accusative : the subject is 
t^K, which is also construed as a masc. in Jer. xlviii. 45 ; and the 
suffix ns— may either be taken as a neuter, or referred to " my 
bones," without compelling us to explain it as meaning unum- 

CHAP. I. 12-16. 371 

quodque os (Rosenmuller, etc.). The bones are regarded as 
bodily organs in which the pain is most felt, and are not to 
be explained away allegorically to mean urbes meas rnunitas 
(Chaldee). While fire from above penetrated the bones, God 
from beneath placed nets for the feet which thus were caught. 
On this figure, cf. Jer. 1. 24, Hos. vii. 12, etc. The consequence 
of this was that u He turned me back," ita at progredi pedemque 
cxtricare non possem, sed capta detinerer (C. B. Michaelis), — not, 
" he threw me down backwards," i.e. made me fall heavily 
(Thenius). " He hath made me desolate" (nooit?),— not obstu- 
pescentem, perturbatam, desperatam (Rosenmuller) ; the same 
word is applied to Tamar, 2 Sam. xiii. 20, as one whose happi- 
ness in life has been destroyed. " The whole day (i.e. con- 
stantly, uninterruptedly) sick," or ill. The city is regarded as 
a person whose happiness in life has been destroyed, and whose 
health has been broken. This miserable condition is represented 
in ver. 14, under another figure, as a yoke laid by God on the 
people for their sins, IjW?, air. ~key., is explained by Kimchi as 
"Onro 1N ">£ : PJ, compactum vel coUigatam, according to which li?^ 
would be allied to 7pV. This explanation suits the context; on 
the other hand, neither the interpretation based on the Talmudic 
1i?D, punxit, stimidavit, which is given by Raschi and Aben Ezra, 
nor the interpretations of the LXX., Syriac, and Vulgate, 
which are founded on the reading "W?, harmonize with 7$, 
which must be retained, as is shown by the words ^K5S"?J> ipy. 
Ewald supposes that ^i?^ was the technical expression for the 
harnessing on of the yoke. " The yoke of my transgressions" 
(not " of my chastisements," as Gesenius, Rosenmuller, and 
Ewald think) means the yoke formed of the sins. The notion 
of punishment is not contained in ^3, but in the imposition of 
the yoke upon the neck, by which the misdeeds of sinful Jeru- 
salem are laid on her, as a heavy, depressing burden which she 
must bear. These sins become interwoven or intertwine them- 
selves (tiVjfe^), after the manner of intertwined vine-tendrils 
(DWfc>, Gen. xl. 10 ; cf. remarks on Job xl. 17), as the Chaldee 
paraphrase well shows ; and, through this interweaving, form 
the yoke that has come on the neck of the sinful city. Veluti 
ex contortis funibus aut complicalis lignis jugam quoddam con- 
struitur, ita h. I. prcBvarkationis tanquam materia insupportabilis 


jugi considerantar (C. B. Michaelis). ty is used of the imposi- 
tion of the yoke, as in Num. xix. 2,. 1 Sam. vi. 7. The effect 
of the imposition of this yoke is : " it hath made my strength 
to stumble (fail)." Pareau, Thenius, Vaihinger, and Nagels- 
bach assume God as the subject of the verb ^Jfcn ; but this 
neither accords with the current of the description, nor with the 
emphatic mention of the subject tfttj in the clause succeeding 
this. Inasmuch as, in the first member of the verse, God is 
not the subject, but the address takes a passive turn, it is only 
the leading word fy that can be the subject of ?»?bn : the yoke 
of sins which, twined together, have come on the neck, has 
made the strength stumble, i.e. broken it. This effect of the 
yoke of sins is stated, in the last member, in simple and un- 
figurative speech: "the Lord hath given me into the hands 
of those whom I cannot withstand," i.e. before whom I cannot 
maintain my ground. On the construction b?ra *6 *^3, cf. 
Ewald, § 333, b; Gesenius, § 116, 3. Dip is here viewed in the 
sense of standing fast, maintaining ground, as in Ps. xviii. 39 : 
and, construed with the accusative, it signifies, to withstand any 
one ; its meaning is not surgere, which Thenius, following the 
Vulgate, would prefer : the construction here requires the active 
meaning of the verb. — In ver. 15 this thought is further carried 
out. rfe? and i"6D, "to lift up," is only used in poetry; in Ps. 
cxix. 118 it takes the Aramaic meaning vilipendere, as if in 
reference to things that can be lifted easily; here it means 
tollere, to lift up, take away (LXX. e|$pe, Vulgate abstulit), 
tear away forcibly, just as both meanings are combined in NtM : 
it does not mean to outweigh, or raise with a jerk, — the warriors 
being regarded as weighty things, that speedily were raised 
when the Chaldean power was thrown into the scale (Thenius, 
and Bottclier in his Aehrenl. S. 94). This meaning is not con- 
firmed for the Piel by Job xxviii. 16, 19. *Wto N?P T does not 
mean to summon an assembly, i.e. the multitude of foes (Raschi, 
Rosenmuller, Gesenius, Neumann), but to proclaim a festival 
(cf. ii. 22), because in ver. 4 and ii. 6 (cf. Lev. xxiii. 4) Igto 
denotes the feast-day, and in ver. 21 DV «$> means to proclaim 
a day. ty means " against me ;" for those invited to the feast 
are the nations that God has invited to destroy the youths, i.e. 
the young troops of Jerusalem. These celebrate a feast like 

CHAP. I. 17. 373 

that of the vintage, at which Jahveh treads the wine-press for 
the daughter of Judah, because her young men are cut off like 
clusters of grapes (Jer. vi. 9), and thrown into the wine-press 
(Joel iv. 13). The last judgment also is set forth under this 
figure, Isa. Ixiii. 2 f. ; Rev. xiv. 19 f., xix. 15. ttW n^mab, " to 
(for) the virgin of Judah;" her young men are regarded as a 
mass of grapes, whose life-sap (blood) is trodden out in the wine- 
press. As to the expression '' ri3 riTinzi, see on Jer. xiv. 17. 
" The addition of the word ' virgin ' brings out the contrast 
between this fate, brought on through the enemv, at God's 
command, and the peculiar privilege of Judah as the people 
of God, in being fice from the attacks of enemies" (Gerlach). 

Ver. 16 concludes this series of thoughts, since the address 
returns to the idea presented in ver. 12, and the unprece- 
dented sorrow (ver. 12) gives vent to itself in tears. u Because 
of these things" refers to the painful realities mentioned in 
vers. 13-15, which Jerusalem has experienced. The form iTOia 
is like the feminine form n^S in Ps. cxxviii. 3, Isa. xvii. 6 ; cf. 
Ges. § 75, Rem. 5. The repetition of u my eye" gives greater 
emphasis, and is quite in the style of Jeremiah ; cf. iv. 19, vi. 
14 (viii. 11), xxii. 29, xxiii. 25 ; the second ^V is not to be 
expunged (Pareau and Thenius), although it is not found in 
the LXX., Vulgate, Arabic, and some codices. On D^o rrn^ 
cf. Jer. ix. 17, xiii. 17, xiv. 17. In these passages stands •"IJ"?1, 
but here D*0 ? as the stronger expression : the eye flows like 
water, as if it were running to the ground in water. Gesenius, 
in his Thesaurus, appositely cites the German a sich die Augen 
aus dem Kopfe weinen" [with which the English corresponds : 
" to weep one's eyes out of his head"]. Still stronger is the 
expression in iii. 48. But the sorrow becomes thus grievous, 
because the weeping one has none to comfort her ; friends who 
could comfort her have faithlessly forsaken her (cf. vers. 2, 9), 
and her sons are D^lppitJ', i.e. destroyed, not " astonished" (Jer. 
xviii. 16, xix. 8), but, as in ver. 13, made desolate, i.e. made so 
unhappy that they cannot bring their mother comfort in her 
misery. On C'D3 T&D, cf. ver. 11. " Because the enemy hath 
become strong," i.e. prevailed ("OS as in Jer. ix. 2). 

Ver. 17. The complaint regarding the want of comforters is 
corroborated by the writer, who further developes this thought, 


and gives some proof of it. By this contemplative digression 
he breaks in on the lamentation of the city, as if the voice of 
the weeping one were choked with tears ; thus he introduces 
into the complaint a suitable pause, that both serves to divide 
the lamentation into two, and also brings a turn in its contents. 
It is in vain that Zion stretches out her hands (2 BH3, to make 
a spreading out with the hands) for comforters and helpers ; 
there is none she can embrace, for Jahveh has given orders 
against Jacob, [that] those round about him should act as 
oppressors. VM? are the neighbouring nations round about 
Israel. These are all of hostile disposition, and strive but to 
increase his misery ; cf. ver. 2. Jerusalem has become their 
abomination (cf. ver. 8), since God, in punishment for sins, has 
exposed her before the heathen nations (cf. ver. 8). B^T?, 
" between them," the neighbouring nations, who live round 
about Judah. The thought that Jahveh has decreed the suf- 
fering which has come on Jerusalem, is laid to heart by her 
who makes complaint, so that, in ver. 18, she owns God's 
justice, and lets herself be roused to ask for pity, vers. 19-22. 

Starting with the acknowledgment that Jahveh is righteous, 
because Jerusalem has opposed His word, the sorrowing one 
anew (ver. 18, as in ver. 12) calls on the nations to regard her 
sorrow, which attains its climax when her children, in the bloom 
of youth, are taken captives by the enemy. But she finds no 
commiseration among men ; for some, her former friends, prove 
faithless, and her counsellors have perished (ver. 19) ; there- 
fore she turns to God, making complaint to Him of her great 
misery (ver. 20), because the rest, her enemies, even rejoice 
over her misery (ver. 21) : she prays that God may punish 
these. Gerlach has properly remarked, that this conclusion of 
the chapter shows Jerusalem does not set forth her fate as an 
example for the warning of the nations, nor desires thereby to 
obtain commiseration from them in her present state (Michaelis, 
Rosenmiiller, Thenius, Vaihinger) ; but that the apostrophe 
addressed to the nations, as well as that to passers-by (ver. 12), 
is nothing more than a poetic turn, used to express the bound- 
less magnitude of this her sorrow and her suffering. On the 
confession " Righteous is Jahveh," cf. Jer. xii. 1, Deut. xxxii. 4, 
2 Chron. xii. 6, Ps. cxix. 37, etc. " Because I have rebelled 

CIIAP. I. 13-20. 


against His mouth" {i.e. His words and commandments), there- 
fore I am suffering what I have merited. On W$ rn», c f. 
Num. xx. 24, 1 Kings xiii. 26. DW^ (without the article, 
which the Qeri supplies) is a form of expression used in poetry, 
which often drops the article ; moreover, we must here bear in 
mind, that it is not by any means the idea of the totality of the 
nations that predominates, but nations are addressed merely in 
indefinite generality : the expression in the text means nations 
of all places and countries. In order to indicate the greatness 
of her grief, the sorrowing one mentions the carrying into 
captivity of the young men and virgins, who are a mother's 
joy and hope. — Ver. 19 is not a continuation of the direct 
address to the nations, to whom she complains of her distress, 
but merely a complaint to God regarding the sorrow she en- 
dures. The perfects s J?^i^, WBT, are not preterites, and thus 
are not to be referred to the past, as if complaint were made 
that, in the time of need, the lovers of Jerusalem forsook her ; 
they rather indicate accomplished facts, whose consequences 
reach down to the present time. It was not merely in former 
times, during the siege, that Jerusalem called to her friends 
for help ; but even now she still calls, that she may be comforted 
by them, yet all in vain. Her friends have deceived her, i.e. 
shamefully disappointed her expectations. From those who 
are connected with her, too, she can expect neither comfort nor 
counsel. The priests and the elders, as the helpers and advisers 
of the city, — the former as representing the community before 
God, and being the medium of His grace, the latter as being 
leaders in civil matters, — pined away (J713, exspirare ; here, to 
pine away through hunger, and expire). ^ is a temporal 
particle : " when they were seeking for bread" to prolong their 
life (: y&\l as in ver. 11). The LXX. have added koX ofy 
evpov, which Thenius is inclined to regard as a portion of the 
original text ; but it is very evidently a mere conjecture from 
the context, and becomes superfluous when s 3 is taken as a 
particle of time. — Ver. 20. Since neither comfort nor advice 
is to be found with men, Jerusalem makes her complaint of 
need to God the Lord. " See, Jahveh, that I am distressed. 
My bowels glow." ITplpn, the passive enhancing form, from 
")J?n, is found, besides, only in ii. 11, where the clause before 


us is repeated, and in Job xvi. 16, where it is used of the coun- 
tenance, and can only mean to be glowing red ; it is scarcely 

legitimate to derive it from "ion, ju>-, to be made red, and must 

rather be referred to >^>-; to ferment, rise into froth ; for even 

in Ps. lv. 9 ">En does not mean to be red, but to rise into froth. 
D)j?p, " bowels," are the nobler portions of the internal organs 
of the body, the seat of the affections; cf. Delitzsch's Biblical 
Psychology (Clark's translation), p. 314 ff. " My heart has 
turned within me" is an expression used in Hos. xi, 8 to desig- 
nate the feeling of compassion ; but here it indicates the most 
severe internal pain, which becomes thus agonizing through the 
consciousness of its being deserved on account of resistance to 
God. fr» for rn», like tea, Jer. xxii. 10, xxx. 19, etc. Both 
forms occur together in other verbs also ; cf . Olshausen, Gram. 
§ 245, h [Ewald, § 238, c ; Gesen., § 75, Eem. 2], But the judg- 
ment also is fearful ; for " without (pTip, /oris, i.e. in the streets 
and the open country) the sword renders childless," through 
the slaughter of the troops ; u within (rV33, in the houses) n.isa, 
like death." It is difficult to account for the use of 3 ; for neither 
the 3 of comparison nor the so-called 3 veritatis affords a 
suitable meaning; and the transposition of the words into sicut 
mors intus (Rosenmiiller, after Lowe and Wolfsohn) is an arbi- 
trary change. Death, mentioned in connection with the sword, 
does not mean death in general, but special forms of death 
through maladies and plagues, as in Jer. xv. 2, xviii. 21, not 
merely the fever of hunger, Jer. xiv. 18 ; on the other hand, 
cf. Ezek. vii. 15, " the sword without, pestilence and hunger 
within." But the difficulty connected with ni»3 is not thereby 
removed. The verb ?3K> belongs to both clauses ; but " the 
sword" cannot also be the subject of the second clause, of which 
the nominative must be nvss, " all that is like death," i.e. every- 
thing besides the sword that kills, all other causes of death, — 
pestilences, famine, etc. 3 is used as in fiN"]??, Dan. x. 18. 
That this is the meaning is shown by a comparison of the 
present passage with Deut. xxxii. 25, which must have been 
before the writer's mind, so that he took the words of the first 
clause, viz. " without, the sword bereaves," almost as they stood, 
but changed n»>K Dmnitt into m&3 n-aa _ thus preferring 

CHAP. I. 21, 22. 377 

" what is like death," instead of " terror," to describe the cause 
of destruction. Calvin long ago hit the sense in his paraphrase 
multce mortes, and the accompanying explanation : utitur nota 
similitudinis, quasi diceret : nihil domi occurrere nisi mortals 
(more correctly mortiferum). Much light is thrown on the ex- 
pression by the parallel adduced by Kalkschmidt from ^Eneid, 
ii. 368, 369 : crudelis ubique Luctus, ubique pavor, el plurima 
mortis imago. 

From speaking of friends, a transition is made in ver. 21 
to enemies. Eegarding the explanation of Rosen miiller, audi- 
verunt quidem amid mei, a me implorati ver. 19, quod gemens 
ego . . . imo sunt omnes hostes mei, Thenius observes that it intro- 
duces too much. This remark is still more applicable to his 
own interpretation : " People (certainly) hear how I sigh, (yet) 
I have no comforter." The antithesis introduced by the inser- 
tion of " yet" destroys the simplicity of arrangement among the 
clauses, although C. B. Michaelis and Gerlach also explain the 
passage in the same manner. The subject of the words, u they 
have heard," in the first clause, is not the friends who are said 
in ver. 19 to have been called upon for help, nor those desig- 
nated in the second clause of ver. 21 as u all mine enemies," 
but persons unnamed, who are only characterized in the second 
clause as enemies, because they rejoice over the calamity which 
they have heard of as having befallen Jerusalem. The first 
clause forms the medium of transition from the faithless friends 
(ver. 19) to the open enemies (ver. 21b) ; hence the subject is 
left undefined, so that one may think of friends and enemies. 
The foes rejoice that God has brought the evil on her. The 
words W ns3<} f which follow, cannot also be dependent on V? 
(" that Thou hast brought the day which Thou hast an- 
nounced"), inasmuch as the last clause, " and they shall be 
like me," does not harmonize with them. Indeed, Niiselsbacli 
and Gerlach, who assume that this is the connection of the 
clause " Thou hast brought," etc., take '3 Vm adversatively : 
" but they shall be like me." If, however, " they shall be," 
etc., were intended to form an antithesis to " all mine enemies 
have heard," etc., the former clause would be introduced by DH1, 
The mere change of tense is insufficient to prove the point. 
It must further be borne in mind, that in such a case there 


would be introduced by the words " and they shall be," etc., a 
new series of ideas, the second great division of the prayer ; 
but this is opposed by the arrangement of the clauses. The 
second portion of the prayer cannot be attached to the end of 
the verse. The new series of thoughts begins rather with 
" Thou hast brought," which the Syriac has rendered by the 
imperative, venire fac. Similarly Luther translates : " then 
(therefore) let the day come." C. B. Michaelis, Kosenmiiller, 
Pareau, etc., also take the words optatively, referring to the 
Arabic idiom, according to which a wish is expressed in a vivid 
manner by the perfect. This optative use of the perfect cer- 
tainly cannot be shown to exist in the Hebrew ; but perhaps it 
may be employed to mark what is viewed as certain to follow, 
in which case the Germans use the present. The use of the 
perfect shows that the occurrence expected is regarded as so 
certain to happen, that it is represented as if it had already 
taken place. The perfects in iii. 56-61 are taken in this sense . 
by nearly all expositors. Similarly we take the clause now 
before us to mean, " Thou bringest on the day which Thou 
hast proclaimed (announced)," i.e. the day of judgment on the 
nations, Jer. xxv., " so that they become like me," i.e. so 
that the foes who rejoice over my misfortune suffer the same 
fate as myself. " The day [which] Thou hast proclaimed" has 
been too specifically rendered in the Vulgate, adduxisti diem 
consolationis, probably with a reference of the proclamation to 
Isa. xl. 2. — After this expression of certainty regarding the 
coming of a day of punishment for her enemies, there follows, 
ver. 22, the request that all the evil they have done to Jeru- 
salem may come before the face of God, in order that He may 
punish it (cf. Ps. cix. 15 with ver. 14),— do to them as He has 
done to Jerusalem, because of her transgressions. The clause 
which assigns the reason (" for many are my sighs," etc.) does 
not refer to that which immediately precedes ; for neither the 
request that retribution should be taken, nor the confession of 
guilt (" for all my transgressions "), can be accounted for by 
pointing to the deep misery of Jerusalem, inasmuch as her 
sicrhino: and sickness are not brought on her by her enemies, 
but are the result of the sufferings ordained by God regarding 
her. The words contain the ground of the request that God 

chap. ir. 379 

would look on the misery (ver. 20), and show to the wretched 
one the compassion which men refuse her. ^1 ^p is exactly 
the same expression as that in Jer. viii. 18 ; cf. also Isa. i. 5. 
The reason thus given for making the entreaty forms an 
abrupt termination, and with these words the sound of lamenta- 
tion dies away. 




1 Alas ! how the Lord envelopes the daughter of Zion in His wrath ! 

He hath cast down the glory of Israel from heaven to earth ; 
Nor hath He remembered His footstool in the day of His wrath. 

2 The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, He hath not 

spared : 
He hath broken down, in His anger, the strongholds of the daughter of 

Judah ; He hath smitten [them] down to the earth. 
He hath profaned the kingdom and its princes. 

3 He hath cut off, in the burning of wrath, every horn of Israel ; 
He hath drawn back His right hand from before the enemy, 

And hath burned among Jacob like a flaming fire, [which] devours 
round about. 

4 He hath bent His bow like an enemy, standing [with] His right hand 

like an adversary, 
And He slew all the desires of the eye ; 
On the tent of the daughter of Zion hath He poured out His fury like 


5 The Lord hath become like an enemy ; He hath swallowed up Israel. 
He hath swallowed up all her palaces, He hath destroyed his strongholds, 
And hath increased on the daughter of Judah groaning and moaning. 

6 And He hath violently treated His own enclosure, like a garden ; He 

hath destroyed His own place of meeting : 
Jahveh hath caused to be forgotten in Zion the festival and the Sabbath, 
And in the fierceness of His wrath He hath rejected king and priest. 

7 The Lord hath spurned His own altar, He hath abhorred His own 

sanctuary ; 
He hath delivered into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces ; 
They have made a noise in the house of Jahveh, as [on] the day of a 


8 Jahveh hath purposed to destroy the walls of the daughter of Zion : 
He hath stretched out a line, He hath not drawn back His hand from 

demolishing ; 
And He hath made the rampart and the [city] wall to mourn ; they 
sorrow together. 


9 Her gates have sunk into the earth ; He hath destroyed and broken her 
bars : 
Her king and her princes are among the nations ; there is no law. 
Her prophets also find no vision from Jahveh. 

10 The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, they are 

silent ; 
They have cast up dust upon their head, they have clothed themselves 

with sackcloth garments : 
The virgins of Jerusalem have brought down their head to the earth. 

11 Mine eyes waste away with tears, my bowels glow, 

My liver is poured out on the earth, because of the destruction of the 

daughter of my people ; 
Because the young child and the suckling pine away in the streets of 

the city. 

12 They said to their mothers, Where is corn and wine ? 

"When they were fainting like one wounded in the streets of the city, 
When their soul was poured out into the bosom of their mothers. 

13 What shall I testify against thee? what shall I compare to thee, 

daughter of Jerusalem ? 
What shall I liken to thee, that I may comfort thee, virgin daughter 

of Zion ? 
For thy destruction is great, like the sea ; who can heal thee ? 

14 Thy prophets have seen for thee vanity and absurdity, 
And have not revealed thine iniquity, to turn thy captivity ; 
But they have seen for thee burdens of vanity, and expulsion. 

15 All that pass by the way clap [their] hands against thee ; 

They hiss and shake their head against the daughter of Jerusalem, 

" Is] this the city that they call ' The perfection of beauty, a joy of the 

whole earth ? ' " 

16 All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee : 

They hiss and gnash the teeth ; they say, " We have swallowed [her] ; 
Assuredly this is the day that we have expected ; we have found [it], 
we have seen [it]." 

17 Jahveh hath done what He hath purposed : 

He hath executed His word which He commanded from the days of 
yore : He hath broken down, and hath not spared : 

And He hath made the enemy rejoice over thee ; He hath raised up the 
horn of thine adversaries. 

18 Their heart crieth out unto the Lord. 

wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a stream by day 

and by night : 
Give thyself no rest ; let not the apple of thine eye cease. 

19 Arise, wail in the night; at the beginning of the watches, 
Pour out thy heart like water before the face of the Lord : 
Lift up thine hands to Him for the soul of thy young children, 
That faint for hunger at the head of every street. 

chap. ii. 1-10. 381 

20 See, Jaliveh, and consider to whom Thou hast acted thus ! 
Shall women eat their [body's] fruit, the children of their care? 
Or shall priest and prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord ? 

21 The boy and the old man lie without, on the ground ; 
My virgins and my young men have fallen by the sword : 

Thou hast slain in the day of Thy wrath, Thou hast slaughtered, Thou 
hast not spared . 

22 Thou summonest, as on a feast-day, my terrors round about; 

And in the day of the wrath of Jahveh there was no fugitive or survivor 
Whom I would have nursed and brought up ; mine enemy destroyed 

This second poem contains a new and more bitter lamenta- 
tion recardino; the fall of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah ; 
and it is distinguished from the first, partly by the bitterness of 
the complaint, but chiefly by the fact that while, in the first, 
the oppressed, helpless, and comfortless condition of Jerusalem 
is the main feature, — here, on the other hand, it is the judgment 
which the Lord, in His wrath, has decreed against Jerusalem 
and Judah, that forms the leading thought in the complaint, as 
is shown by the prominence repeatedly given to the wrath, 
rage, burning wrath, etc. (ver. 1 ff*.). The description of this 
judgment occupies the first part of the poem (vers. 1-10); then 
follows, in the second part (vers. 11-19), the lamentation over 
the impotency of human consolation, and over the scoffing of 
enemies at the misfortunes of Jerusalem (vers. 11-16). It was 
the Lord who sent this judgment ; and it is He' alone who 
can give comfort and help in this distress. To Him must 
the daughter of Zion betake, herself with her complaint (vers. 
17-19) ; and this she actually does in the concluding portion 
(vers. 20-22). 

Vers. 1-10. Description of the judgment. — Ver. 1. The 
lamentation opens with sighs for the destruction of Jerusalem 
and the temple. The first member of the verse contains the 
general idea that the Lord Qp% the Lord tear e'£o%r/y, very 
suitably used instead of niiT) has, in His wrath, enveloped 
Jerusalem with clouds. This thought is particularized in the 
two members that follow, and is referred to the overthrow of 
Jerusalem and the temple. 2T, from nw (which is air. \ey. 
as a verb, and is probably a denominative from 3JJ, a cloud), 
signifies to cover or surround with clouds. i2^2 does not mean 


" with His wrath " (Ewald, Thenius), but " iu His wrath," as 
is shown by vers. 3, 6, 21, 22. " The daughter of Zion" here 
means the city of Jerusalem, which in the second member is 
called " the glory (or ornament) of Israel," by which we are 
to understand neither res Judceorum florentissimce in general 
(Rosenmiiller), nor the temple in special, as the " splendid 
house," Isa. Ixiv. 10 (Michaelis, Vaihinger). Jerusalem is 
called the glory or ornament of Israel, in the same way as 
Babylon in Isa. Ixiv. 10 is called " the glory of the splendour 
of the Chaldeans" (Thenius, Gerlach). In the figurative ex- 
pression, " He cast down from heaven to earth," we are not 
to think there is any reference to a thunderbolt which knocks 
down an object, such as a lofty tower that reaches to heaven 
(Thenius) ; " from heaven " implies that what is to be thrown 
down was in heaven, as has been already remarked by Easchi in 
his explanation, postquam siistulisset eos {Judceos) usque ad caelum, 
eosdem dejecit in terrain, where we have merely to substitute 
" Jerusalem" for eos, which is too vague. Gerlach has rightly 
remarked that the expression " cast down from heaven " is to 
be accounted for by the fact that, in the first member of the 
verse, Jerusalem is compared to a star, in the same way as 
Babylon is expressly called a star in Isa. xiv. 12 ; nay, what is 
more, Jerusalem is here compared to a star that has fallen from 
heaven ; the reference to that passage thus becomes unmis- 
takeable. Moreover, the casting down from heaven means 
something more than deprivation of the glory that had come 
on the city in consequence of God's dwelling in the midst of it 
(Gerlach) ; it signifies, besides, the destruction of the city, viz. 
that it would be laid in ashes. In all this, the Lord has not 
been thinking of, i.e. paid any regard to, His footstool, i.e. the 
ark of the covenant (1 Chron. xxviii. 2 ; Ps. xcix. 5), — not the 
temple (Ewald), although we cannot think of the ark without 
at the same thinking of the temple as the house in which it was 
kept. The ark, and not the temple, is named, because the 
temple became a habitation of the Lord, and a place where He 
revealed Himself, only through the ark of the covenant, with 
which the Lord had graciously connected His presence among 
His people. It is further implied, in the fact that God does 
not think of His footstool, that the ark itself was destroyed 

chap. ii. 1-10. 383 

along with the temple and the city. — Ver. 2. The Lord has 
destroyed not merely Jerusalem, but the whole kingdom. Vv2 } 
" to swallow up," involves the idea of utter annihilation, the 
fury of destruction, just in the same way as it [viz. the fury] 
is peculiar to n ^?^, the overflowing of anger. " He hath not 
spared" forms an adverbial limitation of the previous statement, 
" unsparingly." The Qeri i*7\, instead of &6, is an unnecessary 
and unpoetic emendation, niXJ"73, all the pastures of Jacob. 
According to its etymology, ni3 means a place where shepherds 
or nomads rest, or stay, or live ; here, it is not to be understood 
specially of the dwellings as contrasted with, or distinguished 
from the pasture-grounds, but denotes, in contrast with the 
fortresses (0^X30), the open, unfortified places of the country 
in which men and cattle enjoy food and rest. " The strong- 
holds of the daughter of Judah " are not merely the fortifica- 
tions of Jerusalem, but the fortresses generally of the country 
and kingdom of Judah ; cf. Jer. v. 17, xxxiv. 7. pN? yan, 
" to cast down to the ground " (used of the pulling down of 
walls, cf. Isa. xxv. 12), is an epexegesis of Dnn, as in Ex. xiii. 14, 
and is not to be joined (in opposition to the accents) with what 
succeeds, and taken figuratively. For neither does ??n need 
any strengthening, nor does ps? JPan suitably apply to the 
kingdom and its princes. The desecration of the kingdom 
consisted in its being dishonoured by the disgraceful conduct of 
its rulers ; cf . Ps. lxxxix. 40. 

In vers. 3 and 4, the writer describes the hostile conduct of 
the Lord towards Israel, by which the kingdom of Judah was 
destroyed. Thenius utterly mistakes the poetic character of the 
description given, and evidently finds in it the several events 
that occurred up to the taking of the city, all mentioned in 
their natural order ; according to this, the perfects would re- 
quire to be translated as preterites. But this view can be made 
out only by giving an arbitrary meaning to the several figures 
used ; e.g., it is alleged that " every horn " means the frontier 
fortresses, that the expression "before the enemy" refers to the 
time when the latter turned his face against Jerusalem, and so 
on. The three members of ver. 3 contain a climax: deprivation 
of the power to resist ; the withdrawal of aid ; the necessary con- 
sequence of which was the burning like a flame of fire. " To 


cut clown the horn " means to take away offensive and defensive 
power ; see on Jer. xlviii. 25. " Every horn " is not the same 
as "all horns," but means all that was a horn of Israel (Gerlach). 
This included not merely the fortresses of Judah, but every 
means of defence and offence belonging to the kingdom, in- 
eluding men fit for war, who are neither to be excluded nor 
(with Le Clerc) to be all that is understood by " every horn." 
In the expression W£>) . . . afl#J, the suffix, as in iflBfy ver. 4, 
refers to Jahveh, because the suffix joined to T always points 
back to the subject of the verb yW\}; cf. Ps. lxxiv. 11. God 
drew back His hand before the enemy, i.e. He withdrew from 
the people His assistance in the struggle against the enemy. 
Such is the meaning given long ago by the Chaldee : nee 
auxiliatus est populo suo coram hoste. ^pl^a ^V.?l) does not 
mean " He consumed Jacob ;" but He burned (i.e. made a con- 
flagration) in Jacob ; for, in every passage in which ">J?3 is 
construed with 2, it does not mean to " burn something," but 
to burn in or among, or to kindle a fire (cf. Job i. 16, where 
the burning up is only expressed by D??^, Num. xi. 3, Ps. cvi. 
18), or to set something on fire, Isa. xlii. 25. The burning 
represents devastation; hence the comparison of "ISD"; with "like 
fire of flame (= flaming, brightly blazing fire, cf. Isa. iv. 5, 
Ps. cv. 32) that devours round about." The subject of "Un 1 . is 
Jahveh, not ira Jova? (Rosenmiiller), or nan? (Neumann), or 
the enemy (Gerlach). The transition from the perfect with 1 
consec. does not cause any change of the subject ; this is shown 
by vers. 4 and 5, where also the second clause is connected with 
the first by means of 1 consec. But the statement of Gerlach 
— that if Jahveh and not the enemy be the subject, then the 
consecutive sentence (the burning among Jacob as the result of 
the withdrawal of Jahveh's hand before the enemy) would be 
inexplicable — gives no evidence of its truth. The kindling or 
making of the fire in Jacob is, of course, represented as a result 
of what is previously stated, yet not as the consequence merely 
of the withdrawal of his hand, but also of the cutting off of 
every horn. In both of these ways, God has kindled in Jacob 
a fire which grows into a destructive conflagration. — In ver. 4 
the idea is still further developed : God not merely delivered 
up His people to the enemy, leaving them defenceless and help- 

chap. ii. 1-10. 385 

less, but also came forward Himself to fight against them as an 
enemy. He bent His bow like a warrior, showing Himself, in 
reference to His claims, as an adversary or oppressor. The 
specification " His right hand " is added, not so much for the 
purpose of defining more exactly the activity of the right hand 
(using it to shoot the arrows or wield the sword ; cf. Deut. xxxii. 
41 ff., Ps. vii. 13 f.), as rather with the view of expressing 
more precisely the hostile attitude of God, since the right hand 
of God is at other times represented as the instrument of help. 
The expression " and He slew," which follows, docs not require 
us to think of a sword in the right hand of God, since we can 
also kill with arrows. God slew as an enemy ; He destroyed 
everything that was precious in men's sight, i.e. not merely 
envies homines cetate, specie, dignitate conspicuos (C. B. Michaelis, 
Eosenmiiller, Thenius) ; for, in Ps. lxxviii. 47, J"]H is also used 
with reference to the effect of hail on the vine ; and the arrows 
shot from the bow are merely named by synecdoche, and by way 
of specification, as instruments of war for destruction. Still less 
can l!J?"^n>? signify omnia ea templi ornamenta, quibus merito 
gloriabatur popidus (Kalkschmidt), since it is not till ver. 6 ff. 
that the temple is spoken of. " The word is to be taken in its 
widest generality, which is indicated by ' all ;' accordingly, it 
comprehends everything that can be looked upon as clear," in- 
cluding children (cf. Ezek. xxiv. 25) and the sanctuary, though 
all these do not exhaust the meaning of the word (Gerlach). 
Upon the tent of the daughter of Zion He poured out His fury 
in fire. The daughter of Zion means the inhabitants of Jeru- 
salem : her tent is not the temple (Kalkschmidt, Ewald), which 
is never called the tent of the daughter of Zion, but only that 
of Jahveh (1 Kings ii. 28, etc.) ; but her house, i.e. the city as 
a collection of dwellings. The figure of the outpouring of wrath 
is often used, not only in Jer. vi. 11, x. 25, xlii. 18, etc., but 
also in Hos. v. 10, Zeph. iii. 8, Ps. lxix. 25, Ixxvi. 6, etc. — Ver. 
5. The Lord has become like an enemy. 3%3 is not separated 
from ^n by the accents (Pesik and Mahpak before, and Kadma 
after) ; so that there appears to be nothing to justify the remark 
of Gerlach, that, " as if the prophet were hesitating whether he 
should state explicitly that the Lord had become an enemy, he 
breaks off* the sentence he had begun, l The Lord hath become 
vol. II. 2 B 


. . . ,' and continues, * He hath destroyed like a mighty one.' ' 
As to y^3, cf. ver. 2. " Israel" is the name of Judah viewed 
as the covenant people. The swallowing or destruction of Israel 
is explained in the clauses which follow as a destruction of the 
palaces and fortresses. The mention of the palaces points to the 
destruction of Jerusalem, while the " fortresses " similarly indi- 
cate the destruction of the strong cities in the country. The 
interchange of the suffixes n" 1 — and V— is accounted for on the 
ground that, when the writer was thinking of the citadels, the 
city hovered before his mind ; and when he regarded the for- 
tresses, the people of Israel similarly presented themselves. 
The same interchange is found in Hos. viii. 14; the assump- 
tion of a textual error, therefore, together with the conjectures 
based on that assumption, is shown to be untenable. On the 
expression, " He hath destroyed his strongholds," cf. Jer. xlvii. 
18 ; on n»3Kl rmKTj, Isa. xxix. 2 : in this latter case, two. word- 
forms derived from the same stem are combined for the sake 
of emphasis. " Daughter of Judah," as in ver. 2, cf. i. 15. 

In vers. 6 and 7, mention is made of the destruction of the 
temple and the cessation of public worship. " He treated vio- 
lently (cruelly)," i.e. laid waste, " like a garden, His enclosure." 
-]{J> (from !ptJ> = ^3*^, to intertwine, hedge round) signifies a hedge 
or enclosure. The context unmistakeably shows that by this we 
are to understand the temple, or the holy place of the temple ; 
hence T]b> is not the hedging, but what is hedged in. But the 
comparison 133 has perplexed expositors, and, given occasion for 
all kinds of artificial and untenable explanations. We must 
not, of course, seek for the point of the comparison in the ease 
with which a garden or garden-fence may be destroyed, for this 
does not accord with the employment of the verb D?pn ; but the 
garden is viewed as a pleasure-ground, which its owner, if it 
does not suit its purpose, destroys or gives up again, without 
much hesitation. The emphasis lies on the suffix in $38?, "His own 
enclosure," God's enclosure = the sacred enclosure (Gerlach), 
the sanctuary protected by Himself, protected by laws intended 
to keep the sanctity of the temple from profanation. The 
second clause states the same thing, and merely brings into 
prominence another aspect of the sanctity of the temple by the 
employment of the word ViJjto. This noun, as here used, does 

CHAP. II. 1-30. 387 

not mean the " time," but the " place of meeting ;'* this is not, 
however, the place where the people assemble, but the place of 
meeting of the Lord with His people, where He shows Himself 
present, and grants His favour to the congregation appearing 
before Him. Thus, like *W£ ?nfc, the word signifies the place 
where God reveals His gracious presence to His people; cf. Ex. 
xxv. 22, and the explanation of WJ2?fa given in that passage. In 
the first member of the verse, the temple is viewed as a place 
sacred to God ; in the second, as the place where He specially 
manifests His gracious presence in Israel. With the destruction 
of the temple, Jahveh (the covenant God) caused feast and 
Sabbath, i.e. all public festivals and divine service, to be for- 
gotten. The destruction of the sacred spots set apart for the 
worship of the Lord was attended with the cessation of the 
sacred festivals. Thereby it became evident that the Lord, in 
His fierce anger, had rejected king and priest. The singulars, 
festival, Sabbath, king, and priest, are used in unrestricted 
generality. King and priest are regarded as the divinely 
chosen media of the covenant graces. The abolition of public 
worship practically involved that of the priesthood, for the 
service of the priests was connected with the temple. Exposi- 
tors are much divided in' their views regarding the object for 
which the king is here mentioned in connection with the priest. 
There is no special need for refuting the opinion of Thenius, 
that king and priest are named as the two main factors in the 
worship of God, because the seat of the king was upon Zion as 
well as that of the priesthood ; for the seat of the priests was as 
little on Mount Zion as the king's palace was on the temple 
mount. Moreover, the words do not treat of the destruction of 
the royal palace and the dwellings of the priests, but declai'e 
that royalty and the priesthood will be rejected. The mention 
of the king in connection with the priests implies a close con- 
nection also of royalty with the temple. Niigelsbach, accord- 
ingly, is of opinion that the kings also belong to the number of 
those summoned to celebrate the feasts, and were not merely 
Jehovah's substitutes before the people, but also " representa- 
tives of the people before God;" for he adopts the remark of 
Oehler (in Herzog's Real Enc. viii. S. 12), that " the Israelitish 
kingdom (especially in David and Solomon) bears a certain 


sacerdotal character, inasmuch as the king, at the head of the 
people and in their name, pays homage to God, and brings back 
again to the people the blessing of God (2 Sam. vi. 17 ff. ; 1 
Kings iii. 4, viii. 14 ff., 55 ff., 62 ff., ix. 25; 1 Chron. xxix. 10 ff.; 
2 Chron. i. 6, compared with Ezek. xlvi. 1 ff.)." This sacerdotal 
character of royalty, however, was but the outcome of the sacer- 
dotal character of the people of Israel. In view of this, the 
king, because of his position as the head of the people in civil 
matters (for he was prcecipuum ecclesice membrum), fully brought 
out the relation of the people to the Lord, without, however, 
discharging any peculiarly sacerdotal function. The complaint 
in the present verse, — that, with the destruction of the temple, 
and the abolition of the service connected with it, Jahveh had 
rejected king and priest, — implies that royalty in Israel stood in 
as intimate connection with the temple as the priesthood did. 
This connection, however, is not to be sought for so much in 
the fact that it was the incumbent duty of the theocratic king, 
in the name and at the head of the people, to pay homage to 
God, and to see that the public worship of Jahveh was upheld ; 
we must rather seek for it in the intimate relation instituted by 
God between the maintenance of the Davidic monarchy and 
•the building of the house of God. This connection is exhibited 
in the promise made by God to David, when the latter had 
resolved to build a house for the Lord to dwell in: He (Jahveh) 
shall build a house to him (David), viz. raise up his seed after 
him, and establish his kingdom for ever; and this seed of David 
shall build a house to His name (2 Sam. vii. 12 ff.). This pro- 
mise, in virtue of which Solomon built the temple as a dwelling 
for the name of Jahveh, connected the building of the temple 
so closely with the kingdom of David, that this continued exist- 
ence of the temple might be taken as a pledge of the continu- 
ance of David's house ; while the destruction of the temple, 
together with the abolition of the public ministrations, might, 
on the other hand, serve as a sign of the rejection of the 
Davidic monarchy. Viewing the matter in this light, Jeremiah 
laments that, with the destruction of the temple and the aboli- 
tion of the public festivals, Jahveh has rejected king and priest, 
i.e. the royal family of David as well as the Levitical priesthood. 
— In ver. 7, special mention is further made of the rejection of 

chap. ii. 1-10. 389 

the altar, and of the sanctuary as the centre of divine worship. 
The verbs n;r and 1N3 are used in Ps. lxxxix. 39, 40, in con- 
nection with the rejection of the Davidic monarchy. " The 
sanctuary," mentioned in connection with " the altar," does not 
mean the temple in general, but its inner sanctuary, — the holy 
place and the most holy place, as the places of worship corre- 
sponding to the altar of the fore-court. The temple-building is 
designated by " the walls of her palaces." For, that by HTriJcnx 
we are to understand, not the palaces of the city of David, the 
royal palaces, but the towering pile of the temple, is unmis- 
takeably evident from the fact that, both before and after, it is 
the temple that is spoken of, — not its fortifications, the castles 
specially built for its defence (Thenius) ; because }iO*]X does 
not mean a fortified building, but (as derived from D"]N, to be 
high) merely a lofty pile. Such were the buildings of the 
temple in consequence of their lofty situation on Moriah. In 
the house of Jahveh, the enemy raises a loud cry (?ip 103, cf. 
Jer. xxii. 20), as on a feast-day. The cry is therefore not a 
war-cry (Pareau, Rosenmiiller), but one of jubilee and triumph, 
as if they had come into the temple to a festival : in Ps. Ixxiv. 
4, the word used is JNU>, to roar [as a lion]. 

The lament over the destruction of the kingdom concludes. 
in vers. 8, 9, by mentioning that the walls of Jerusalem are 
destroyed ; with this the Chaldeans ended the work of demoli- 
tion. The expression WW 2&n represents this as the execution 
of a divine decree, — a turn which forms an appropriate intro- 
duction to the close of the work of destruction. Raschi makes 
the following remark concerning this : a longo hide tempore, 
in animum induxerat, hanc urbem vastare secundum Mud quod 
Jer. xxxii. 31 dixit. This intention He has now carried out. 
The words, u He stretched out the measuring-line," are more 
exactly determined by what follows, " He withdrew not His 
hand from destroying;" this shows the extent to which the 
destruction was carried out. The measuring-line W as drawn 
out for the purpose of determining the situation and direction 
of buildings (Job xxxviii. 5 ; Zech. i. 15) ; but Jahveh applies 
it also for the purpose of pulling down buildings (2 Kings xxi. 
13; Isa. xxxiv. 11 ; Amos vii. 7), in order to indicate that He 
carries out the destruction with the same precision as that of 


the builder in finishing his work. The rampart and the wall 
sorrow over this. ?n (from ^in) is the rampart, i.e. the low 
wall with the ditch, surrounding the fortress outside the city 
wall; cf. 2 Sam. xx. 15, Isa. xxvi. 1. The gates of the 
daughter of Zion (i.e. of Jerusalem) are sunk into the earth, 
i.e. have been completely buried under rubbish by the demoli- 
tion, as if they had sunk into the ground. The subject to 
" 1 ??i ^8 is Jahveh. The bars of the daughter of Zion are 
those with which the city gates were closed, for the protection 
of the inhabitants. With the destruction of Jerusalem the 
kingdom of God is destroyed. King and princes are among 
the heathen, — carried away into exile. It must, indeed, be 
allowed that rnin px is connected by the accents with what 
precedes ; and Gerlach defends the construction, u they are 
among the heathen without law," — not only agreeing with 
Kalkschmidt in taking niin px as a designation of the 0^3 as 
ethnici) — ad gentes, quibus divina nulla erat revelatio, — but also 
with Luther, who translates : " her king and her princes are 
among the heathen, because they cannot administer the law," 
or generally, have it not. But, on the other hand, the accents 
merely indicate the stichometrical arrangement, not the re- 
lation of the words according to their sense ; and the remark, 
" that ver. %c sets forth the fate of the persons who stood 
to the city in the relation of helpers and counsellors or com- 
forters (her king, her prophets), of whose help (counsel, or 
comfort) the city was deprived, as well as of the external means 
of defending her " (first member), proves nothing at all, for 
the simple reason that the priests also belonged to the number 
of the helpers, counsellors, and comforters of the city ; hence, 
if this were the meaning, and the two halves of the verse were 
meant to stand in this relation, then the priests would certainly 
have been mentioned also. The second half of the verse is not 
connected with the first in the manner supposed by Gerlach ; 
but, from the whole preceding description of the way in which 
the divine wrath has been manifested against Jerusalem, it 
draws this conclusion : " Judah has lost its king and its princes, 
who have been carried away among the heathen : it has also 
lost the law and prophecy." " Law" and " vision " are men- 
tioned as both media of divine revelation. The law is the 

CHAP. II. 1-10. 


summary of the rule of life given by God to His people : this 
exists no more for Judah, because, with the destruction of 
Jerusalem and of the temple, the divinely appointed consti- 
tution of Israel was abolished and destroyed. Prophecy was 
the constant witness to the presence of God among His people ; 
by this means the Lord sought to conduct Israel to the object 
of their election and calling, and to fit them for becoming a 
holy nation and a kingdom of priests. The perf. WVtt is not 
a preterite, but the expression of an accomplished fact. The 
prophets of the daughter of Zion no longer obtain any vision 
or revelation from Jahveh : the revelation of God by prophets 
has ceased for Zion. The words imply that there are still 
prophets, and merely affirm that they do not receive any 
revelation from God. This is not opposed to the fact that 
Jeremiah, some months after the destruction of Jerusalem, 
again received a revelation ; cf. Jer. xlii. 4 with ver. 7. The 
meaning of the complaint is simply that Jahveh no longer owns 
His people, no longer gives them a token of His gracious 
presence, just as it is said in Ps. Ixxiv. 9, " There is no more 
any prophet." But it is not thereby declared that prophecy 
has altogether and for ever been silenced, but merely that, 
when Jerusalem was destroyed, Israel received no prophetic 
communication, — that God the Lord did not then send them a 
message to comfort and sustain them. The revelation which 
Jeremiah (xlii. 7) received regarding the determination of the 
people who sought to flee to Egypt, has no connection with this 
at all, for it does not contain a word as to the future destiny of 
Jerusalem. Hence it cannot be inferred, with Thenius, from 
the words now before us, that the present poem was com- 
posed before that revelation given in Jer. xlii. 7 ff. ; nor yet, 
with Nu>elsbach, that the writer had here before his mind the 
condition of the great mass of the people who had been carried 
away into exile. Neither, indeed, were the people in exile 
without prophetic communications; for, even so early as six 
years before the overthrow of Jerusalem, God had raised up to 
the exiles a prophet in the person of Ezekiel. — Ver. 10. The 
whole of the people have sunk into deep sorrow over this mis- 
fortune. The elders, as the counsellors of the city, sit on the 
ground in silence, from deep sorrow; cf. Job ii. 8, 13, and 


regarding the tokens of sorrow, Job ii. 12, Jer. iv. 8, vi. 26, 
etc. The virgins of Jerusalem have renounced their gaiety 
and bowed their head, sorrowing, to the ground; cf. i. 4. 

Vers. 11-16. The impotence of human comfort, and the 
mockery of enemies. Ver. 11 f. The misery that has befallen 
the people is so fearful, that sorrow over it wears out one's life. 
11 Mine eyes pine away because of tears," is the complaint of 
the prophet, not merely for himself personally, but in the name 
of all the godly ones. " Mine eyes pine " is the expression 
used in Ps. lxix. 4. On W? ViOTBH, cf. i. 20. The expression, 
"my liver is poured out on the earth," occurs nowhere else, 
and is variously explained. That the liver is fons sanguinis, 
and thus the seat of the animal life ("Rosenmuller, Thenius), 
cannot be made out from Prov. vii. 23. This passage rather 
forms a proof that among the Hebrews, according to a view 
widely prevalent in ancient times, the liver was considered the 
seat of sensual desire and lust (cf. Delitzsch's Bib. Psychology, 
Clark's translation, p. 316). But this view is insufficient as an 
explanation of the passage now before us. Besides, there are 
no proofs to show that " liver " is used for " heart," or even for 
" gall," although Job xvi. 13 is unwarrantably adduced in 
support of this position. A closely related expression, certainly, 
is found in Job xxx. 16, Ps. xlii. 5, where the soul is said to 
be poured out ; but the liver is different from £'23, the principle 
of the corporeal life. If the liver was called *i?3 because, 
according to Galen, de usu partium, vi. 17 (in Gesen. Thes. p. 
655), omnium viscerum et densissimum et gravissimum est, then 
it may be regarded, instead of D^o, as the chief bodily organ 
through which not merely lust, but also pain, is felt ; and the 
pouring out of the liver on the earth may thus mean that the 
inner man is dissolved in pain and sorrow, — perishes, as it 
were, through pain. For it is evident from the context, and 
universally admitted, that it is the effect of pain in consuming 
the bodily organs that is here meant to be expressed. Vsy nn "OK> 
is a genuine Jeremianic expression (cf. Jer. vi. 14, viii. 11, 21, 
etc.), which again occurs in ver. 13, hi. 47, 48, and iv. 10. In 
what follows, some harrowing details are given regarding the 
destruction of the daughter of Zion. sjtjya for *|t?yna, while 
(or because) children and sucklings were pining away on the. 

CHAP. II 11- 1G. 393 

streets of the city. This figure of heartrending misery is 
further carried out in ver. 12, for the purpose of vividly set- 
ting forth the terrible distress. Gerlach is wrong in thinking 
that the writer brings forward such sad scenes as would be 
likely to present themselves in the period immediately after the 
destruction of the city. For, the fact that, in ver. 10, the eye 
of the mourner is directed to the present, is far from being a 
proof that vers, lie and 12 also treat of the present ; and the 
imperfect *"IB#, ver. 12, is not parallel in time with tt$1, ver. 
12, but designates the repetition of the action in past time. 
" The children say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine 1 " 
i.e. Give us bread and wine, or, Where can we eat and drink ? 
Corn and must (as in Jer. xxxi. 12, etc.) are mentioned as 
the usual means of nourishment of the Israelites. JFj, " corn," 
is used poetically for bread (cf. Ps. lxxviii. 24), — not pounded 
or roasted grain, which was used without further preparation 
(Thenius), and which is called y? T , Lev. xxiii. 14, 1 Sam. 
xvii. 17, 2 Sam. xvii. 28. The sucklings poured out their 
soul, i.e. breathed out their life, into the bosom of their mothers, 
i.e. hugging their mothers, although these could not give them 

Co O ' *-* o 

nourishment ; cf. iv. 4. — Ver. 13. Against such terrible misery, 
human power can give neither comfort nor help. " What 
shall I testify to you?" The Kethib "pWK is a mistake in 
transcription for if?V8 (Qen), because Tiy is not commonly 
used in the Kal. Tltf}, to bear witness, is mostly construed 
with 3, against or for any one, but also with ace, 1 Kings xxi. 
10, 13, in malam, and Job xxix. 11, in honam partem. Here 
it is used in the latter sense : " give testimony to thee " for the 
purpose of instruction and comfort, — not of a calamity that has 
happened elsewhere, as Calvin and Thenius explain, though 
against the construction of the verb with the accus. ; still less 
" to make one swear " (Gesenius, Ewald). That the prophetic 
witness is meant here in the sense of encouragement by in- 
struction, warning, and comfort, is evident from the mention 
of the testimony of the false prophets in ver. 14. " What 
shall I compare to thee?" i.e. what kind of misfortune shall 
I mention as similar to yours ? This is required by the prin- 
ciple derived from experience : solamen miseris socios habuisse 
malorum. SJtsrutfl, « that I may comfort thee." The reason 


assigned, viz. " for thy destruction is great, like the sea " (i.e. 
immense), follows the answer, understood though not expressed, 
" I can compare nothing to thee." The answer to the last 
question, "Who can heal thee?" (NQ^ with J>) is, a no man ;" 
cf. Jer. xxx. 12 ff. Reasons are assigned for this in vers. 14-16. 
— Ver. 14. From her prophets, Jerusalem can expect neither 
comfort nor healing. For they have brought this calamity 
upon her through their careless and foolish prophesyings. 
Those meant are the false prophets, whose conduct Jeremiah 
frequently denounced ; cf. Jer. ii. 8, v. 12, vi. 13 f ., viii. 10, 
xiv. 14 f., xxiii. 17, 32, xxvii. 10, 15. They prophesied vanity, 
— peace when there was no peace, — and ?sn, " absurdity," = 
rbzr), Jer. xxiii. 13. They did not expose the sin and guilt of 
the people with the view of their amendment and improve- 
ment, and thereby removing the misery into which they had 
fallen by their sin ; nor did they endeavour to restore the 
people to their right relation towards the Lord, upon which 
their welfare depended, or to avert their being driven into exile. 
On rva^ yp\}, cf . Jer. xxxii. 44. The meaning of this expression, 
as there unfolded, applies also to the passage now before us ; 
and the translation, captivitatem avertere (Michaelis, Nagels- 
bach), or to " ward off thy captivity" (Luther, Thenius), is 
neither capable of vindication nor required by the context. 
Instead of healing the injuries of the people by discovering 
their sins, they have seen (prophesied) for them nisb'n, " bur- 
dens," i.e. utterances of threatening import (not effata ; see on 
Jer. xxiii. 33), which contained K]B>, " emptiness," and D'-ronp, 
" rejection." The combination of " emptiness" with " burdens" 
does not prevent the latter word from being applied to threaten- 
ing oracles ; for the threats of the false prophets did not refer 
to Judah, but were directed against the enemies of Israel. For 
instance, that they might promise the people speedy deliverance 
from exile, they placed the downfall of the Chaldean power in 
immediate prospect; cf. Jer. xxviii. 2-4, 11. D^rw-lO is air. 
\ey. as a noun, and is also dependent on "burdens" (cf. Ewald, 
§ 289, c) : it signifies ejection from the land, not " persecution " 
(Rosenmuller, Gesenius, Ewald, etc.), for Jeremiah uses nnj 
(in Niph. and Hiph.) always in the sense of rejection, expul- 
sion from the country ; and the word has here an unmistakeable 

CHAP. II. 17-19. . 395 

reference to Jer. xxvii. 10, 15: "They prophesy lies to you, 
that they may eject you from your country." — Ver. 15 f. 
Strangers and enemies have, for the misfortune of Jerusalem, 
only expressions of scorn and delight over her loss. " Those 
who pass hy the way " are strangers who travel past Jerusalem. 
To clap the hands together is not here a gesture betokening 
anger and disinclination (Num. xxiv. 10), but of delight over 
the injury of others, as in Job xxvii. 23. Pl^, to hiss, is an 
expression of scorn ; see on Jer. xix. 8. The same is true as 
regards the shaking of the head ; cf. Ps. xxii. 8, cix. 25, etc. : 
the expression for this, in Jer. xviii. 16, is fiP'tfia Ton. The 
exclamation, " Is this the city which they call ' perfect in 
beauty "? " is an expression of scornful astonishment. *& n?v3 
is substantially the same as ^ fe?», Ps. 1. 2, where the ex- 
pression is applied to Zion ; in Ezek. xxvii. 3 the same is said 
of Tyre. That Jeremiah had Ps. 1. 2 in his mind is shown 
by the apposition, " a joy of the whole earth," which is taken 
from Ps. xlviii. 3. — Ver. 16. The enemy in triumph express 
their joy over the fall of Jerusalem. The opening of the 
mouth (as in Ps. xxxv. 21, Job xvi. 10), taken in connection 
with what follows, is also a gesture peculiar to scornful speech. 
The gnashing of the teeth (Ps. xxxv. 16, xxxvii. 12; Job xvi. 
9) is here an expression of rage that has burst out. The 
object of " we have swallowed " is to be derived from the con- 
text ("against thee"), viz. the city of Jerusalem. "Surely 
this " is a strong asseveration — " this is the very day." The 
asyndetic collection of the three verbs accords with the im- 
passioned character' of the enemy's speech. "To see" is here 
equivalent to living to see. 

Vers. 17-19. In this calamity, which Jahveh has ordained, 
it is only He who can bring comfort and help ; [and this He 
will do], if earnest and incessant complaint be made to Him 
regarding the misery. In order to turn the thoughts of the 
people in this direction, the prophet lays emphasis on the fact 
that God has now executed this destruction which He has 
threatened long before, and has prepared for the triumph of 
the enemy. " Jahveh hath done what He hath purposed," 
has now performed the word which He has commanded all 
along from the days of yore. Zechariah (i. 6) also lays this 


truth before the heart of his contemporaries. J7S?3, to cut off, 
is used metaphorically in the sense of finishing, completing, 
as in Isa. x. 12, Zech. iv. 9. To fulfil a word that has been 
ordered, signifies to execute it. fWT does not mean to announce, 
but to command, order ; the word has been chosen, not merely 
with reference to the fact that the threatened rejection of 
Israel was announced in the law, but also with regard to 
the circumstance that the threat of punishment for sins is 
an evidence of the moral government of the world, and the 
holiness of the Lord and Ruler of the world demands the 
punishment of every act of rebellion against the government 
and decrees of God. " The days of old " are the times of 
Moses ; for Jeremiah has before his mind the threatenings of 
the law, Lev. xxvi. 23 ff., Deut. xxviii. 15 ff. " Without 
sparing," as Jeremiah (iv. 28) has announced to the people. 
In the following clause, " He hath made thine enemy rejoice 
over thee," thoughts are reproduced from Ps. lxxxix. 43. To 
" exalt the horn " means to grant power and victory ; cf. 
1 Sam. ii. 1, Ps. lxxv. 5. — Ver. 18. When it is seen that 
the Lord has appointed the terrible calamity, the people are 
driven to pray for mercy. Hence ver. 18 follows, yet not 
at once with the summons to prayer, but with the assertion of 
the fact that this actually takes place : " their heart cries out 
unto the Lord ; " and it is not till after this that there follows 
the summons to entreat Him incessantly with tears. The 
perfect pV'i represents the crying as already begun, and reach- 
ing on to the present (cf. Ewald, § 135, b), for which we use 
the present in German [and in English]. That the suffix 
in " their heart " does not point to the enemies mentioned at 
the close of ver. 17, but to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, is 
indubitably evident from what is substantially stated in the 
clause, viz. that crying to the Lord merely indicates the crying 
to God for help in distress. There is no sufficient reason for 
Ewald's change of BaJ> PJ>? into rfsb *g®f, " outcries of thine 
heart," i.e. let the cry of thine heart sound forth ; still less 
ground is there for the conjecture of Thenius, that C2? should 
be changed into D3n, because this is opposed to the following 
summons to implore help : other more unnatural changes in 
the text it were needless to mention. The following clauses, 

chap. ir. 17-19. 397 

" O wall of the daughter of Zion," etc., do not state how her 
heart has cried and still cries to the Lord, but bid her con- 
stantly go on imploring. Several expositors have taken objec- 
tion to the direct address, " O wall of the daughter of Zion," 
and have sought to remove the difficulty by making conjectures. 
Hence, e.g., Thenius still holds ^hat there is good ground for 
the objection, saying that there is a wide difference between 
the poetic expression, " the wall mourns " (ver. 8), and the 
summons, " O wall, let tears run down." This difference cannot 
be denied, yet such personification is not without analogy. A 
similar summons is found in Isa. xiv. 31: " Howl, O gate" 
(porta). It is self-evident that it is not the wall simply as 
such that is considered, but everything besides connected with 
it, so that the wall is named instead of the city with its inha- 
bitants, just as in Isa. xiv. 31 gate and city are synonymous. 
Hence, also, all the faculties of those residing within the wall 
(eyes, heart, hands) may be ascribed to it, inasmuch as the 
idea of the wall easily and naturally glides over into that of 
the daughter of Zion. The expression, " Let tears run down 
like a stream," is a hyperbole used to indicate the exceeding 
greatness of the grief. " By day and night " is intensified by 
the clauses which follow : u give not," i.e. grant not. t(? fl^S, 
" torpidity (stagnation) to thyself." The noun njlS is air. \e<y., 
like "WISH, iii. 49 ; the verb 312, however, occurs in Gen. xxv. 
26 and Ps. lxxvii. 3, where it is used of the torpidity of the 
vital spirits, stagnation of the heart. The expression in the 
text is a poetic one for ^312 : " do not permit thy numbness," 
i.e. let not thy flood of tears dry up ; cf. Ewald, § 289, b. 
VV A3 is the eyeball, not the tears (Pareau) ; cf. Ps. xvii. 8. 
D^n comes from Cft^, to be still, as in Jer. xlvii. 6. On the 
thought here presented, cf. Jer. xiv. 17. — Ver. 19. !?"} (prop, to 
raise a whining cry, but commonly " to shout for joy") here 
means to weep aloud, lament. nnpD'N B ; &n?, at the beginning 
of the night-watches (cf. Judg. vii. 19) ; not "in the first night- 
watch" (Kalkschmidt, following Bochart and Nugelsbach), but 
at the beginning of each night-watch, i.e. throughout the night; 
cf. Ps. lxiii. 7. " Pour out thine heart like water before the face 
of the Lord," i.e. utter the sorrow of thine heart in tears to the 
Lord. The uplifting of the hands is a gesture indicative of 


prayer and entreaty (cf. Ps. xxviii. 2, Ixiii. 5, etc.), not " of 
the deepest distress " (Thenius). ^ v?iy EJ'SJ~?y does not mean 
pro vita parvulorum tuorum, that God may at least preserve 
them (Rosenmiiller, Gerlach), but "on account of the soul of 
thy children," which is more distinctly stated, in the following 
relative sentence, to mean that they have breathed out their 
soul through hunger. On this matter, cf. ver. 11 and the 
exposition of that verse. Ewald has placed the last member of 
the verse within parentheses, as an interpolation, on the ground 
that a fourth member offends against the law observed in these 
verses ; on the other hand, Thenius is of opinion that the words 
do not form a member of the verse by themselves, but are a 
mere prolongation of the third, "because the conclusion of the 
prophet's address, begun in ver. 19, was certainly intended to 
be a complete finish." But the deviation from the rule is not 
thereby accounted for. Inasmuch as the words are essential 
to the expression of the thought, we must simply acknowledge 
the irregularity, and not arbitrarily cast suspicion on the genu- 
ineness of the words. 

Vers. 20-22. In ver. 20 follows the prayer which the city 
has been commanded to make. The prayer sets before the 
mind of the Lord the terrible misery under which Jerusalem 
suffers. The question, " To whom hast Thou acted thus ? " 
does not mean, " What innocent and godly ones are being sacri- 
ficed ? " (Thenius), but " to what nation ? " — not a heathen one, 
but the people of Thy choice, to whom all Thy blessed promises 
have been given (Nagelsbach). This is clear from the reasons 
given in the question, in which the murder of the priests and 
prophets in the sanctuary of the Lord is brought forward. 
But first there is mentioned a case of inhuman conduct, prompted 
by necessity, viz. that women, in the extreme destitution of 
hunger, have been constrained to eat the fruit of their body, 
their beloved children. . OK . . . DK does not, in this case, intro- 
duce a disjunctive question, but merely an indirect question in 
two parts. In view of such inhuman cruelties and such dese- 
cration of His sanctuary, God cannot remain inactive. The 
meaning of the question is not : estne hoc unquam fando audi- 
tum, quod apad nos factum est, or, quod, matres fame eo adactos 
fuerint, ut suosfwtus comederent (C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmiiller). 

CHAP. II. 20-22. 399 

For in this case, not the imperfect, but the perfect, would be 
used. It is merely asked whether something could happen 
in a certain way, while it is implied that it has actually oc- 
curred already. D^B has the masc. instead of the fern, suffix, 
as pretty frequently happens. The fruit of their bodies is 
meant, as the LXX. have rightly rendered ; but there is no 
reason for making this the ground of alterations in the text. 
The expression " their fruit," indefinite in itself, is immediately 
rendered definite by Q^nBD 7?'y. The last word is a verbal 
noun from nstp (ver. 22), which again is a denominative from 
nap, and means to bear on the hands, to care for tenderly. 
Both words occur only in this passage. The Israelites, more- 
over, had been threatened with this inhuman outrage as the 
most extreme form of divine chastisement, Lev. xxvi. 26, Deut. 
xxviii. 56 ; cf. Jer. xix. 9. While this abomination is opposed 
to the moral order of the world instituted by God, the other 
case (the murder of the priests and prophets in the sanctuary) 
is a violation of the covenant-order which the Lord had given 
His people. Neither of these arrangements can God consent 
to abolisli. Therein is implicitly contained the request that He 
would put an end to the misery into which His people have 
fallen. This request, however, is not expressly stated; there is 
merely complaint made to God regarding the terrible misery. 
From the massacre in the temple, the lamentation passes to the 
bloodshed on the streets of the city, in which neither age nor 
sex was spared ; cf. Jer. vi. 11. nton is a local accus., " through 
the streets," along the streets. — Ver. 22. The imperf. N"}pn has 
perhaps been chosen merely for the sake of the alphabetic 
arrangement, because the description is still continued, and the 
idea of custom (wont) or repetition is not very suitable in the 
present instance. " Thou summonest, as for a feast-day (viz. 
for the enemy, cf. i. 15), all my terrors round about." *1W» 
MDD is to be explained in conformity with the formula 
3*3DtD "lfaD, so frequent in Jeremiah (vi. 25, xx. 4, 10, etc.) : 
'"TOO is therefore to be derived from TfoO, but not to be con- 
fined in its reference to the enemy (as in the Vulgate, qui ter- 
rent) ; it is rather to be understood as applying to all the 
terrible powers that had come upon Judah, — sword, famine, 
plagues (cf . i. 20). On the ground that WyiXO elsewhere means 


wandering, pilgrimage, and that, moreover, the sing. 1130 in 
Ps. lv. 16 signifies a dwelling, Ewald translates the expression 
in the text, " my hamlets round about," understanding by that 
the inhabitants of the defenceless country towns and villages, 
which stand to the capital that gave them its protection in the 
relation of settlers in its neighbourhood (LXX. irdpottcoi). 
According to this view, the verse alludes to an important event 
which took place in those days of the siege, when all the 
inhabitants of the country towns fled to the capital, thinking 
that a great festival was going to be held there, as on former 
occasions ; but this became at last for them the great festival 
of death, when the city was taken. But the translation of the 
LXX. is of no authority, since they have given a false render- 
ing of S'ODJp "liJO also; and the whole explanation is so artificial 
and unnatural, that it needs no further refutation. Raschi, 
indeed, had previously explained ^30 to mean »r3B>, vicinos meos, 
but added improbos, ut sese congregarent adversus me ad per- 
dendum. Notwithstanding this, Q^P, " wandering " and " place 
of sojourn," cannot denote the country towns as distinguished 
from the capital ; nor can the flight of the inhabitants of the 
low-lying regions into the capital be fitly called a summoning 
together of them by the Lord. The combination l^] B y2 is 
used as in Jer. xlii. 17, xliv. 14. For nap, see on ver. 20. 
With the complaint that no one could escape the judgment, — 
that the enemy dared to murder even the children whom she 
[Jerusalem] had carefully nourished and brought up, — the 
poem concludes, like the first, with deep sorrow, regarding 
which all attempts at comfort are quite unavailing (Gerlach). 



1 I [am] the man [that] have seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. 

2 Me hath He led, and brought [through] darkness, and not light. 

3 Only against me He repeatedly turneth His hand all the day. 

4 He hath wasted away my flesh and my skin ; He hath broken my bones. 

5 He buildeth up round about me poison and toil. 

6 He maketh me sit down in dark places, like those for ever dead. 

7 He hath hedged me about, so that I cannot get out ; He hath made 

heavy my chain. 

CHAP. III. 401 

8 Moreover, when I cry and shout, He obstructeth my prayer. 

9 He hath walled round my ways with hewn stone, He hath subverted 

my paths. 

10 He is to me [like] a bear lying in wait, a lion in secret places. 

11 He removeth my ways, and teareth me in pieces ; He maketh me 


12 He bendeth His bow, and setteth me up as the mark for the arrow. 

13 He causeth the sons of His quiver to go into my reins. 

14 I am become a derision to all my people, their [subject of] satire all the 


15 He filleth me with bitterness, maketh me drink wormwood. 

16 And He grindeth my teeth on gravel, He covereth me with ashes. 

17 And my soul hath become despised by prosperity ; I have forgotten 

[what] good [is]. 

18 And I said, My vital power is gone, and my hope from Jahveh. 

19 Eemember my misery and my persecution, wormwood and poison. 

20 My soul remembereth [them] indeed, and sinketh down in me. 

21 This I bring back to my mind, therefore have I hope. 

22 [It is a sign of] the mercies of Jahveh that we are not consumed, for 

His compassions fail not ; 

23 [They are] new every morning : great is Thy faithfulness. 

24 Jahveh [is] my portion, saith my soul ; therefore I hope in Him. 

25 Jahveh is good unto those who wait for Him, to a soul [that] seeketh 


26 It is good that [one] should wait, and that in silence, for the salvation 

of Jahveh. 

27 It is good for man that he should bear a yoke in his youth. 

28 Let him sit solitary and be silent, for [God] hath laid [the burden] on 


29 Let him put his mouth in the dust ; perhaps there is [still] hope. 

30 Let him give [his] cheek to him that smites him, let him be filled with 


31 Because the Lord will not cast off for ever : 

32 For, though He causeth grief, He also pities, according to the multitude 

of His mercies. 

33 For He doth not afflict from His heart, and grieve the children of men. 

34 To the crushing all the prisoners of the earth under one's feet, 

35 To the setting aside of a man's rights before the face of the Most High, 

36 To the overthrowing of a man in his cause : — doth not the Lord look 

[to such doings as these] ? 

37 Who hath spoken, and it was done, [which] the Lord commanded not? 

38 Doth not evil and good come out of the mouth of Jahveh? 

39 Why doth a man complain [because] he liveth ? [Let every] man [rather 

lament] because of his sins. 

40 Let us search and examine our ways, and let us return to Jahveh. 

41 Let us lift up our heart to [our] hands towards God in the heavens. 

42 We have transgressed and rebelled, Thou hast not pardoned. 
VOL. II. 2 c 


43 Thou didst cover [Thyself] with anger, and didst persecute us; Thou hast 

slain, Thou hast not pitied. 1 

44 Thou didst cover Thyself with a cloud, so that prayer could not pass 


45 Thou didst make us [like] offscourings and refuse in the midst of the 


46 All our enemies have opened their mouths against us. 

47 Terror and a snare are ours, destruction and ruin. 

48 Mine eye runneth down [with] streams of water, because of the ruin of 

the daughter of my people. 

49 Mine eye poureth itself forth, and ceaseth not, so that there are no 


50 Until Jahveh shall look down and behold from heaven. 

51 Mine eye causeth pain to my soul, because of all the daughters of my 

city. 2 

52 Mine enemies closely pursued me, like a bird, without cause. 

53 They were for destroying my life in the pit, and cast a stone on me. 

54 Waters overflowed over my head ; I said, I am cut off. 

55 I called on Thy name, Jahveh, out of the lowest dungeon. 

56 Thou hast heard my voice ; hide not Thine ear at my sighing, at my 


57 Thou art near in the day [when] I call on Thee ; Thou sayest, Fear 


58 Thou hast defended, O Lord, my soul ; Thou hast redeemed my life. 

59 Thou hast seen, Jahveh, mine oppression ; judge my cause. 

60 Thou hast seen all their vengeance, all their projects against me. 

61 Thou hast heard their reproach, Jahveh, all their projects against 

me 5 

62 The lips of those who rise up against me, and their meditation against 

me all the day. 

63 Behold their sitting down and their rising up : I am their satire. 

64 Thou shalt return a recompense to them, Jahveh, according to the 

work of their hands. 

65 Thou shalt give to them blindness of heart, — Thy curse to them. 

66 Thou shalt pursue [them] in anger, and destroy them from under the 

heavens of Jahveh. 

The two preceding poems ended with sorrowful complaint. 
This third poem begins with the complaint of a man over 

1 In the latter part of this verse, Keil has written mitten unter den Volkern, 
■which is also (correctly) given as the rendering of the second part of ver. 45. 
This obvious inadvertence has been rectified in the English translation. — 


2 Keil has here misread the Hebrew test, and translated "my people" Osy) 

instead of "my city" (n*y).— Tr. 

CHAP. III. 403 

grievous personal suffering. Eegarding the contents of this 
poem, and its relation to the two which precede, Ewald makes 
the following excellent remarks : " In consequence of experi- 
ences most peculiarly his own, the individual may indeed at 
first make complaint, in such a way that, as here, still deeper 
despair for the third time begins (vers. 1-18) ; but, by the 
deepest meditation for himself on the eternal relation of God to 
men, he may also very readily come to the due acknowledgment 
of his own sins and the necessity for repentance, and thereby 
also to believing prayer. Who is this individual that complains, 
and thinks, and entreats in this fashion, whose / passes unob- 
served, but quite appropriately, into we ? O man, it is the very 
image of thyself ! Every one must now speak and think as he 
does. Thus it is just by this address, which commences in the 
most doleful tones, that sorrow for the first time, and imper- 
ceptibly, has passed into true prayer." This remark contains 
both the deepest truth and the key to the proper understanding 
of the contents of this poem, and its position in the middle of 
the Lamentations. Both of these points have been mistaken 
by expositors, who (e.g. C. B. Michaelis, Pareau, Maurer, Kalk- 
schmidt, and Bleek in his Introduction) are of opinion that the 
writer here makes his personal sufferings the subject of com- 
plaint. This cannot be made out, either from ver. 14 or from 
the description given in ver. 53 ff. : the reverse rather is shown 
by the fact that, in vers. 22 and 40-47, we is used instead of 1 ; 
from which it is evident that the prophet, in the remainder of 
the poem, is not speaking of himself, or bewailing his own per- 
sonal sufferings. The confession found in ver. 42, u We have 
transgressed and rebelled, Thou hast not pardoned," etc., neces- 
sarily presupposes not only that the dealing of God towards 
the sinful and apostate nation, as described in ver. 42 ff., stands 
in the closest connection with the sufferings of which the pro- 
phet complains in vers. 1-18, but also that the chastisement, by 
means of God's wrath, which was experienced by the man who 
utters his complaint in vers. 1-18, is identical with the anger 
which, according to ver. 43, discharged itself on the people ; 
hence the suffering of the individual, which is described in vers. 
1-18, is to be regarded as the reflex of but a special instance of 
the suffering endured by the whole community. Perhaps this 


was the view of Aben Ezra, when he says that, in this lamenta- 
tion, it is individual Israelites who speak ; and most expositors 
acknowledge that the prophet pours forth his lamentations and 
his prayers in the name of the godly. 

The poem begins by setting forth the grievous soul-sufferings 
of the godly in their cheerless and hopeless misery (vers. 1-18); 
then it ascends, through meditation upon the compassion and 
almighty providence of God, to hope (vers. 19-39), and thus 
attains to the recognition of God's justice in sending the punish- 
ment, which, however, is so intensified through the malice of 
enemies, that the Lord cannot pass by the attempt to crush His 
people (vers. 40-54). This reliance on the justice of God impels 
to prayer, in which there is manifested confidence that God will 
send help, and take vengeance on the enemy (vers. 55-66). 

Vers. 1-18. Lamentation over grievous sufferings. The 
author of these sufferings is not, indeed, expressly named in 
the whole section, but it is unmistakeably signified that God 
is meant ; moreover, at the end of ver. 18 the name niiT 1 is 
mentioned. The view thus given of the sufferings shows, not 
merely that he who utters the complaint perceives in these 
sufferings a chastisement by God, but also that this chastise- 
ment has become for him a soul-struggle, in which he may not 
take the name of God into his mouth ; and only after he has 
given vent in lamentations to the deep sorrow of his soul, does 
his spirit get peace to mention the name of the Lord, and make 
complaint to Him of his need. Nothing certain can be inferred 
from the lamentations themselves regarding the person who 
makes complaint. It does not follow from vers. 1-3 that he 
was burdened with sorrows more than every one else ; nor from 
ver. 14 that he was a personage well known to all the people, 
so that one could recognise the prophet in him. As little are 
they sufferings which Jeremiah has endured alone, and for his 
own sake, but sufferings such as many godly people of his time 
have undergone and struggled through. Against the Jeremianic 
authorship of the poem, therefore, no argument can be drawn 
from the fact that the personality of him who utters the com- 
plaint is concealed. 

Ver. 1 ff. In the complaint, " I am the man that saw (i.e. 
lived to see) misery," the misery is not specified ; and we can- 

CHAP. III. 1-8. 405 

not, with Kosenmiiller, refer ^V (without the article) to the 
misery announced by the prophet long before. u The rod of 
His wrath," as in Prov. xxii. 8, is the rod of God's anger ; cf. 
Job xxi. 9, ix. 34, Isa. x. 5, etc. The suffix in ^"iny is not to 
be referred, with Aben Ezra, to the enemy. — Ver. 2. " Me 
hath He (God) led and brought through darkness (i\fn, local 
accus.), and not light," is a combination like that in Job xii. 
25 and Amos v. 18. The path of Jeremiah's life certainly lay 
through darkness, but was not wholly devoid of light, because 
God had promised him His protection for the discharge of his 
official functions. The complaint applies to all the godly, to 
whom, at the fall of Jerusalem, no light appeared to cheer the 
darkness of life's pathway. — Ver. 3. " Only upon (against) me 
does He repeatedly turn His hand." 3H8* is subordinated to 
the idea of jjbrp in an adverbial sense ; cf. Gesenius, § 142, 3, b. 
11 His hand " is the smiting hand of God. SR?j " only upon 
me," expresses the feeling which makes him on whom grievous 
sufferings have fallen to regard himself as one smitten in a 
special manner by God. " The whole day," i.e. continually ; 
cf. i. 13. — From ver. 4 onwards this divine chastisement is more 
minutely set forth under various figures, and first of all as a 
wasting away of the vital force. n?3 means to wear out by 
rubbing, cause to fall away, from n?:^ to be worn out, which 
is applied to clothes, and then transferred to bodies, Job xiii. 
28, Ps. xlix. 15. " Flesh and skin" are the exterior and soft 
constituents of the body, while the bones are the firmer parts. 
Skin, flesh, and bones together, make up the substance of the 
human body. Prov. v. 11 forms the foundation of the first 
clause. " He hath broken my bones " is a reminiscence from 
the lamentation of Hezekiah in Isa. xxxviii. 13 ; cf. Ps. li. 10, 
Job xxx. 17. The meaning is thus excellently given by Pareau : 
indicantur animi, fortius irce divines malorumque sensu conquas- 
satiy angores. — The figure in ver. 5, " He builds round about and 
encircles me," is derived from the enclosing of a city by besieg- 
ing it. vV is to be repeated after ^\ The besieging forces, 
which encompass him so that he cannot go out and in, are 
ns^ril thh. That the former of these two words cannot mean 
Kefydkrjv fiov (LXX.), is abundantly evident. KJJO or tJTi is 
a plant with a very bitter taste, hence a poisonous plant ; see 


on Jer. viii. 14. As in that passage £>N"> , », so here the simple 
E>K*i is an emblem of bitter suffering. The combination with 
ns6n, " toil," is remarkable, as a case in which a figurative is 
joined with a literal expression ; this, however, does not justify 
the change of n*6n into Hiy? (Castell, Schleussner, etc.). The 
combination is to be explained on the ground that t^fcO had 
become so common a symbol of bitter suffering, that the figure 
was quite lost sight of behind the thing signified. — Ver. 6 is 
a verbatim reminiscence from Ps. cxliii. 3c. WSWflD is the dark- 
ness of the grave and of Sheol ; cf. Ps. lxxxviii. 7. D?ty 7!"? 
does not mean "the dead of antiquity" (Rosenmiiller, Maurer, 
Ewald, Thenius, etc.), but, as in Ps. cxliii. 3, those eternally 
dead, who lie in the long night of death, from which there is 
no return into this life. In opposition to the explanation dudum 
mortui, Gerlach fittingly remarks, that " it makes no difference 
whether they have been dead long ago or only recently, inas- 
much as those dead and buried a short time ago lie in darkness 
equally with those who have long been dead ;" while it avails 
nothing to point to Ps. lxxxviii. 5-7, as Nagelsbach does, since 
the special subject there treated of is not those who have long 
been dead. — Ver. 7. God has hedged him round like a prisoner, 
cut off all communication from without, so that he cannot 
escape, and He has loaded him with heavy chains. This figure 
is based on Job xix. 8 and Hos. ii. 8. *!S3 "TO, " He hath 
made an hedge round me," does not suggest prison walls, but 
merely seclusion within a confined space, where he is deprived 
of free exit. " I cannot go out," as in Ps. lxxxviii. 9. The 
seclusion is increased by fetters which are placed on the prisoner, 
ntfru, " brass," for fetters, as in German [and English], " irons," 
for iron chains. — Ver. 8. This distress presses upon him all the 
more heavily, because, in addition to this, the Lord does not 
listen to his prayer and cries, but has rather closed His ear ; cf . 
Jer. vii. 16, Ps. xviii. 42, etc. W for DrjD (only written here 
with tJ>), to stop the prayer; i.e. not to prevent the prayer from 
issuing out of the breast, to restrain supplication, but to prevent 
the prayer from reaching His ear ; cf. ver. 44 and Prov. i. 28. 
In ver. 9, the idea of prevention from freedom of action is 
further carried out on a new side. " He hath walled in my 
paths with hewn stones." nn| = JTM *»«, 1 Kings v. 31, are 

CHAP. III. 9-16. 407 

hewn stones of considerable size, employed for making a very- 
strong wall. The meaning is : He has raised up insurmount- 
able obstacles in the pathway of my life. " My paths hath He 
turned," i.e. rendered such that I cannot walk in them, njy is to 
turn, in the sense of destroying, as in Isa. xxiv. 1, not contortas 
fecit (Michaelis, Rosenmiiller, Kalkschmidt), nor per viam tor- 
tuosam ire cogor (Raschi) ; for the prophet does not mean to 
say (as Nagelsbach imagines), " that he has been compelled to 
walk in wrong and tortuous ways," but he means that God has 
rendered it impossible for him to proceed further in his path ; 
cf. Job xxx. 13. But we are not in this to think of the level- 
ling of a raised road, as Thenius does ; for nyn? does not mean 
a road formed by the deposition of rubbish, like a mound, but 
a footpath, formed by constant treading (Gerlach). — Ver. 10. 
Not merely, however, has God cut off every way of escape for 
him who here utters the complaint, but He pursues him in 
every possible way, that He may utterly destroy him. On the 
figure of a bear lying in wait, cf. Hos. xiii. 8, Amos v. 19. It 
is more usual to find enemies compared to lions in ambush ; cf. 
Ps. x. 19, xvii. 12. The last-named passage seems to have been 
present to the writer's mind. The prophets frequently compare 
enemies to lions, e.g. Jer. v. 6, iv. 7, xlix. 19, 1. 44. — In ver. 11 
the figure of the lion is discontinued : for viiD "OTI cannot be 
said of a beast. The verb here is not to be derived from "HD. 

- T 7 

to be refractory, but is the Pilel of "viD, to go aside, deviate, 
make to draw back. To u make ways turn aside" may signify 
to make a person lose the right road, but not to drag back from 
the road (Thenius); it rather means to mislead, or evenfacere ut 
deficiant vice, to take away the road, so that one cannot escape. 
nD'a is air. Xe<y. in Hebrew ; in Aramean it means to cut or tear 
in pieces : cf. [the Targum on] 1 Sam. xv. 33, " Samuel ntra 
Agag," hewed him in pieces ; and on Ps. vii. 3, where the word 
is used for the Heb. PIS, to tear in pieces (of a lion) ; here it 
signifies to tear away (limbs from the body, boughs from trees). 
This meaning is required by the context ; for the following 
expression, DpiK> 'JBfe^ does not lead us to think of tearing in 
pieces, lacerating, but discerpere, plucking or pulling to pieces. 
For DOW, see on i. 13, 16.— Ver. 12. " He hath bent His bow," 
as in ii. 4. The second member, " He hath made me the mark 


for His arrows," is taken almost verbatim from Job xvi. 12. 
The arrows are the ills and sorrows appointed by God ; cf. 
Deut. xxxii. 23, Ps. xxxviii. 3, Job vi. 4. — Ver. 14. " Abused 
in this way, he is the object of scoffing and mockery" (Gerlach). 
In the first clause, the complaint of Jeremiah in xx. 7 is repro- 
duced. Rosenmiiller, Ewald, and Thenius are inclined to take 
"•ay as an abbreviated form of the plur. C^y, presuming that 
the subject of the complaint is the people of Israel. But in 
none of the three passages in which Ewald {Gram. § 177, a), 
following the Masoretes, is ready to recognise such a plural- 
ending, does there seem any need or real foundation for the 
assumption. Besides this p