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CHAPTER 4

Jer 4:1-31. Continuation of Address to the Ten Tribes of Israel. (Jer 4:1, 2). The Prophet Turns Again to Judah, to Whom He Had Originally Been Sent (Jer 4:3-31).

1. return … return—play on words. "If thou wouldest return to thy land (thou must first), return (by conversion and repentance) to Me."

not remove—no longer be an unsettled wanderer in a strange land. So Cain (Ge 4:12, 14).

2. And thou—rather, "And if (carried on from Jer 4:1) thou shalt swear, 'Jehovah liveth,' in truth, &c.", that is, if thou shalt worship Him (for we swear by the God whom we worship; compare De 6:13; 10:20; Isa 19:18; Am 8:14) in sincerity, &c.

and the nations—Rather, this is apodosis to the "if"; then shall the nations bless themselves in (by) Him" (Isa 65:16). The conversion of the nations will be the consequence of Israel's conversion (Ps 102:13, 15; Ro 11:12, 15).

3. Transition to Judah. Supply mentally. All which (the foregoing declaration as to Israel) applies to Judah.

and Jerusalem—that is, and especially the men of Jerusalem, as being the most prominent in Judea.

Break … fallow ground—that is, Repent of your idolatry, and so be prepared to serve the Lord in truth (Ho 10:12; Mt 13:7). The unhumbled heart is like ground which may be improved, being let out to us for that purpose, but which is as yet fallow, overgrown with weeds, its natural product.

4. Remove your natural corruption of heart (De 10:16; 30:6; Ro 2:29; Col 2:11).

5. cry, gather together—rather, "cry fully" that is, loudly. The Jews are warned to take measures against the impending Chaldean invasion (compare Jer 8:14).

6. Zion—The standard toward Zion intimated that the people of the surrounding country were to fly to it, as being the strongest of their fortresses.

7. lion—Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans (Jer 2:15; 5:6; Da 7:14).

his thicket—lair; Babylon.

destroyer of the Gentiles—rather, "the nations" (Jer 25:9).

8. Nothing is left to the Jews but to bewail their desperate condition.

anger … not turned back—(Isa 9:12, 17, 21).

9. heart—The wisdom of the most leading men will be utterly at a loss to devise means of relief.

10. thou hast … deceived—God, having even the false prophets in His hands, is here said to do that which for inscrutable purposes He permits them to do (Ex 9:12; 2Th 2:11; compare Jer 8:15; which passage shows that the dupes of error were self-prepared for it, and that God's predestination did not destroy their moral freedom as voluntary agents). The false prophets foretold "peace," and the Jews believed them; God overruled this to His purposes (Jer 5:12; 14:13; Eze 14:9).

soul—rather, "reacheth to the life."

11. dry wind—the simoom, terrific and destructive, blowing from the southeast across the sandy deserts east of Palestine. Image of the invading Babylonian army (Ho 13:15). Babylon in its turn shall be visited by a similar "destroying wind" (Jer 51:1).

of … high places—that is, that sweeps over the high places.

daughter—that is, the children of my people.

not to fan—a very different wind from those ordinary winds employed for fanning the grain in the open air.

12. full … from those places—rather, "a wind fuller (that is, more impetuous) than those winds" (which fan the corn) (Jer 4:11) [Rosenmuller].

unto me—"for Me," as My instrument for executing My purpose.

sentencejudgments against them (Jer 1:16).

13. clouds—continuing the metaphor in Jer 4:11:12. Clouds of sand and dust accompany the simoom, and after rapid gyrations ascend like a pillar.

eagles—(De 28:49; Hab 1:8).

Woe unto us—The people are graphically presented before us, without it being formally so stated, bursting out in these exclamations.

14. Only one means of deliverance is left to the Jews—a thorough repentance.

vain thoughts—namely, projects for deliverance, such as enlisting the Egyptians on their side. Gesenius translates, "How long wilt thou harbor vain thoughts?"

15. For … from Dan—The connection is: There is danger in delay; for the voice of a messenger announces the approach of the Chaldean enemy from Dan, the northern frontier of Palestine (Jer 8:16; compare Jer 4:6; Jer 1:14).

Mount Ephraim—which borders closely on Judah; so that the foe is coming nearer and nearer. Dan and Beth-el in Ephraim were the two places where Jeroboam set up the idolatrous calves (1Ki 12:29); just retribution.

16. The neighboring foreign "nations" are summoned to witness Jehovah's judgments on His rebel people (Jer 6:18, 19).

watchers—that is, besiegers (compare 2Sa 11:16); observed or watched, that is, besieged.

their voice—the war shout.

17. keepers of a field—metaphor from those who watch a field, to frighten away the wild beasts.

18. (Jer 2:17, 19; Ps 107:17).

this is thy wickedness—that is, the fruit of thy wickedness.

19. The prophet suddenly assumes the language of the Jewish state personified, lamenting its affliction (Jer 10:19, 20; 9:1, 10; Isa 15:5; compare Lu 19:41).

at my very heartHebrew, "at the walls of my heart"; the muscles round the heart. There is a climax, the "bowels," the pericardium, the "heart" itself.

maketh … noise—moaneth [Henderson].

alarm—the battle shout.

20. Destruction … cried—Breach upon breach is announced (Ps 42:7; Eze 7:26). The war "trumpet" … the battle shout … the "destructions" … the havoc throughout "the whole land" … the spoiling of the shepherds' "tents" (Jer 10:20; or, "tents" means cities, which should be overthrown as easily as tents [Calvin]), form a gradation.

21. Judah in perplexity asks, How long is this state of things to continue?

22. Jehovah's reply; they cannot be otherwise than miserable, since they persevere in sin. The repetition of clauses gives greater force to the sentiment.

wise … evil … to do good … no knowledge—reversing the rule (Ro 16:19) "wise unto … good, simple concerning evil."

23. Graphic picture of the utter desolation about to visit Palestine. "I beheld, and lo!" four times solemnly repeated, heightens the awful effect of the scene (compare Isa 24:19; 34:11).

without form and void—reduced to the primeval chaos (Ge 1:2).

24. mountains—(Isa 5:25).

moved lightly—shook vehemently.

25. no man … birds—No vestige of the human, or of the feathered creation, is to be seen (Eze 38:20; Zep 1:3).

26. fruitful placeHebrew, Carmel.

a wildernessHebrew, "the wilderness," in contrast to "the fruitful place"; the great desert, where Carmel was, there is now the desert of Arabia [Maurer].

cities—in contrast to the fruitful place or field.

27. full end—utter destruction: I will leave some hope of restoration (Jer 5:10, 18; 30:11; 46:28; compare Le 26:44).

28. For this—on account of the desolations just described (Isa 5:30; Ho 4:3).

not repent—(Nu 23:19).

29. whole city—Jerusalem: to it the inhabitants of the country had fled for refuge; but when it, too, is likely to fall, they flee out of it to hide in the "thickets." Henderson translates, "every city."

noise—The mere noise of the hostile horsemen shall put you to flight.

30. when thou art spoiled—rather, "thou, O destroyed one" [Maurer].

rentest … face with painting—Oriental women paint their eyes with stibium, or antimony, to make them look full and sparkling, the black margin causing the white of the eyes to appear the brighter by contrast (2Ki 9:30). He uses the term "distendest" in derision of their effort to make their eyes look large [Maurer]; or else, "rentest," that is, dost lacerate by puncturing the eyelid in order to make the antimony adhere [Rosenmuller]. So the Jews use every artifice to secure the aid of Egypt against Babylon.

face—rather, thy eyes (Eze 23:40).

31. anguish—namely, occasioned by the attack of the enemy.

daughter of Zion—There is peculiar beauty in suppressing the name of the person in trouble, until that trouble had been fully described [Henderson].

bewaileth herself—rather, "draweth her breath short" [Horsley]; "panteth."

spreadeth … hands—(La 1:17).

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