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Jeremiah 49:7

7. Concerning Edom, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?

7. Ad Edom (contra Edom) sic dicit Jehova exercituum, An non amplius sapientia in Theman? periitne consilium ab intelligentibus? computruit (vel, supervacua facta est) sapientia ipsorum?

 

Here Jeremiah turns to Idumeans, who were most inveterate enemies to the chosen people, though their origin ought to have disposed them to show kindness to them, for they had descended from the same father, even Abraham. The Idumeans also gloried in their holy descent, and had circumcision in common with the Jews. It was then a most impious cruelty that the Idumeans entertained such bitter hatred towards their own blood. Hence our Prophet most severely reproved them, as also did Ezekiel and Obadiah. (Ezekiel 25:12-14; Obadiah 1:1, 8.)

He says first, Is there not wisdom any more in Teman? By these words he intimates, that though the Idumeans thought themselves safe through their own counsels, because they excelled in acuteness, it yet would avail them nothing, for the Lord would blind them and deprive them of a sane mind; for what is put here interrogatively is declared plainly by Obadiah, (Obadiah 1:8.) even in God’s name,

“I will take away wisdom from Teman, and there shall be no understanding in Mount Esau.”

But as Obadiah had preceded Jeremiah, it was necessary that he should speak of this as of a future thing. But our Prophet, as the judgment of which Obadiah was a witness and a herald, was near at hand, boldly exults over the Idumeans, and laughs at their reproach, inasmuch as they were deprived of counsel and understanding when they had most need of them. Teman, no doubt, was the name of a mountain or of a region; and this we learn from the Prophet Habakkuk,

“God shall come from Teman, and the holy one from Mount Paran.” (Habakkuk 3:3)

It was also a chief city, as we learn form other places; and our Prophet sets it forth as the seat of the kingdom, when he says, Is there not wisdom in Teman? and then, Has counsel perished from the intelligent?

I wonder that interpreters, skillful in the language and conversant in it, should render the last word “sons,” for it is unsuitable to the place. 3434     So the Vulg. and the Targ., while the Sept. and the Syr., have “prudent,” or intelligent. The word is not in its regular form, the י iod being wanted, and the מ mem before it being omitted, which is not uncommon. Discerning rather than “prudent,” or “intelligent,” is its meaning. — Ed The word, no doubt, is derived from בום, bun, to understand, and not from בנה, bene, to build, whence the word, בנים, benim, sons, comes. For how can it suit this passage to say, Is there no more wisdom in Teman? Has counsel perished from the children? that is, as they understand it, “from the children of Esau.” But this is frigid and forced; and the two clauses correspond much better when read thus, “Is there no more wisdom in Teman? has counsel perished from the intelligent?” that is, from those who have hitherto boasted of their intelligence and acuteness.

He then adds, Rotten has become their wisdom. The verb סרח, sarech, means to be superfluous, but some render it here to be putrid, as it is in Niphal I know not whether they have done this, because they did not know another meaning suitable to the context; but we may fitly render it thus, that their wisdom had become superfluous, that is, useless. We may also adopt another meaning, that their wisdom had been hitherto overflowing, that is, superabounded; for they had such wisdom, so as not only to act wisely for themselves, but also to show to others what was right and useful. As then the Idumeans possessed so much wisdom as to direct others, and not to be wise only for themselves, the words would read well were they rendered, that their wisdom had abounded. But in that case the words would be ironical; for the Prophet seems to assign a reason for his astonishment.

I give then this explanation: he first says, Is there wisdom no more in Teman? He exclaims, as though the thing was very strange, “How can this be! is the very fountain of wisdom exhausted? Who could have thought that a city so renowned for wisdom would become so fatuitous as not to know her approaching calamity, so as to meet it, and apply in time the remedy?” And to the same effect he adds, Has counsel perished from the intelligent? At length he subjoins, Abounded has their wisdom; and this he says, in order to show a reason for his astonishment. 3535     Some maintain that the first clause only is a question, for there is no interrogatory particle prefixed to the other clauses, —
   Is wisdom no longer in Teman? Perished has counsel from the discerning, Vanished has their wisdom.

   Neither the versions nor the Targum put the two last lines as questions; nor the Sept. and the Syr. the first. The verb סרח is differently rendered, — by the Sept., “departed;” by the Vulg., “become useless;” by the Syr., “taken away;” by the Targ., “marred,” or corrupted. The verb means to spread, to stretch out; and spreading here is in the sense of dissipating or scattering, and the verb here is passive. So “vanished” would convey the meaning. The first line is a question, and the two following contain the answer. A tautology cannot be otherwise avoided. — Ed.

But we must notice the sameness and the difference between our Prophet and Obadiah. The latter foretold the blindness of that nation; but our Prophet, as though he wished to rouse from their torpor those who had been inattentive to the prophecy of Obadiah, exclaims, “How has wisdom perished from Teman, and counsel from the intelligent?” We must further observe, that this punishment was by God inflicted on the Idumeans, because they had applied all their thoughts to frauds and intrigues; and it seldom happens, but that they who excel in acuteness become very sharp and fraudulent. As then men are thus wont to abuse for the most part their knowledge, God blinds them, and shews that men cannot of themselves be wise, but as far as it is given them from above. As I have already said, the Prophet enlarges on this judgment, that he might the more effectually rouse the minds of men. For had the Idumeans been rustics, such as dwell among mountains, and had no report prevailed as to their wisdom, no one would have wondered that they were taken and subdued; for simple and unwary men are exposed to the intrigues of their enemies, and cannot escape them. But the Prophet, in order to set forth this judgment of God as wonderful, says that their wisdom had been as it were overflowing, that is, like an abundant treasure, for they administered counsel to others. As, then, the Idumeans so much excelled in intelligence, especially those who dwelt in the city Teman, the Prophet shews by this very circumstance that their blindness proceeded from the manifest vengeance of God, and that such a change did not happen by chance. It follows, —


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