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The Great Drought

14

The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:

2

Judah mourns

and her gates languish;

they lie in gloom on the ground,

and the cry of Jerusalem goes up.

3

Her nobles send their servants for water;

they come to the cisterns,

they find no water,

they return with their vessels empty.

They are ashamed and dismayed

and cover their heads,

4

because the ground is cracked.

Because there has been no rain on the land

the farmers are dismayed;

they cover their heads.

5

Even the doe in the field forsakes her newborn fawn

because there is no grass.

6

The wild asses stand on the bare heights,

they pant for air like jackals;

their eyes fail

because there is no herbage.

 

7

Although our iniquities testify against us,

act, O Lord, for your name’s sake;

our apostasies indeed are many,

and we have sinned against you.

8

O hope of Israel,

its savior in time of trouble,

why should you be like a stranger in the land,

like a traveler turning aside for the night?

9

Why should you be like someone confused,

like a mighty warrior who cannot give help?

Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us,

and we are called by your name;

do not forsake us!

 

10

Thus says the Lord concerning this people:

Truly they have loved to wander,

they have not restrained their feet;

therefore the Lord does not accept them,

now he will remember their iniquity

and punish their sins.

 

11 The Lord said to me: Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12Although they fast, I do not hear their cry, and although they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I do not accept them; but by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence I consume them.

Denunciation of Lying Prophets

13 Then I said: “Ah, Lord God! Here are the prophets saying to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you true peace in this place.’ ” 14And the Lord said to me: The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name though I did not send them, and who say, “Sword and famine shall not come on this land”: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. 16And the people to whom they prophesy shall be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword. There shall be no one to bury them—themselves, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their wickedness upon them.

 

17

You shall say to them this word:

Let my eyes run down with tears night and day,

and let them not cease,

for the virgin daughter—my people—is struck down with a crushing blow,

with a very grievous wound.

18

If I go out into the field,

look—those killed by the sword!

And if I enter the city,

look—those sick with famine!

For both prophet and priest ply their trade throughout the land,

and have no knowledge.

 

The People Plead for Mercy

19

Have you completely rejected Judah?

Does your heart loathe Zion?

Why have you struck us down

so that there is no healing for us?

We look for peace, but find no good;

for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.

20

We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord,

the iniquity of our ancestors,

for we have sinned against you.

21

Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake;

do not dishonor your glorious throne;

remember and do not break your covenant with us.

22

Can any idols of the nations bring rain?

Or can the heavens give showers?

Is it not you, O Lord our God?

We set our hope on you,

for it is you who do all this.


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Jer 14:1-22. Prophecies on the Occasion of a Drought Sent in Judgment on Judea.

1. Literally, "That which was the word of Jehovah to Jeremiah concerning the dearth"

drought—literally, the "withholdings," namely, of rain (De 11:17; 2Ch 7:13). This word should be used especially of the withholding of rain because rain is in those regions of all things the one chiefly needed (Jer 17:8, Margin).

2. gatesThe place of public concourse in each city looks sad, as being no longer frequented (Isa 3:26; 24:4).

black—that is, they mourn (blackness being indicative of sorrow), (Jer 8:21).

unto the ground—bowing towards it.

cry—of distress (1Sa 5:12; Isa 24:11).

3. little ones—rather, "their inferiors," that is, domestics.

pits—cisterns for collecting rain water, often met with in the East where there are no springs.

covered … heads—(2Sa 15:30). A sign of humiliation and mourning.

5. The brute creation is reduced to the utmost extremity for the want of food. The "hind," famed for her affection to her young, abandons them.

6. wild asses—They repair to "the high places" most exposed to the winds, which they "snuff in" to relieve their thirst.

dragons—jackals [Henderson].

eyes—which are usually most keen in detecting grass or water from the "heights," so much so that the traveller guesses from their presence that there must be herbage and water near; but now "their eyes fail." Rather the reference is to the great boas and python serpents which raise a large portion of their body up in a vertical column ten or twelve feet high, to survey the neighborhood above the surrounding bushes, while with open jaws they drink in the air. These giant serpents originated the widely spread notions which typified the deluge and all destructive agents under the form of a dragon or monster serpent; hence, the dragon temples always near water, in Asia, Africa, and Britain; for example, at Abury, in Wiltshire; a symbol of the ark is often associated with the dragon as the preserver from the waters [Kitto, Biblical Cyclopædia].

7. do thou it—what we beg of Thee; interpose to remove the drought. Jeremiah pleads in the name of his nation (Ps 109:21). So "work for us," absolutely used (1Sa 14:6).

for thy name's sake—"for our backslidings are so many" that we cannot urge Thee for the sake of our doings, but for the glory of Thy name; lest, if Thou give us not aid, it should be said it was owing to Thy want of power (Jos 7:9; Ps 79:9; 106:8; Isa 48:9; Eze 20:44). The same appeal to God's mercy, "for His name's sake," as our only hope, since our sin precludes trust in ourselves, occurs in Ps 25:11.

8. The reference is, not to the faith of Israel which had almost ceased, but to the promise and everlasting covenant of God. None but the true Israel make God their "hope." (Jer 17:13).

turneth aside to tarry—The traveller cares little for the land he tarries but a night in; but Thou hast promised to dwell always in the midst of Thy people (2Ch 33:7, 8). Maurer translates, "spreadeth," namely, his tent.

9. astonied—like a "mighty man," at other times able to help (Isa 59:1), but now stunned by a sudden calamity so as to disappoint the hopes drawn from him.

art in the midst of us—(Ex 29:45, 46; Le 26:11, 12).

called by thy name—(Da 9:18, 19) as Thine own peculiar people (De 9:29).

10. Jehovah's reply to the prayer (Jer 14:7-9; Jer 2:23-25).

ThusSo greatly.

loved—(Jer 5:31).

not refrained … feet—They did not obey God's command; "withhold thy foot" (Jer 2:25), namely, from following after idols.

remember … iniquity—(Ho 8:13; 9:9). Their sin is so great, God must punish them.

11. (Jer 7:16; Ex 32:10).

12. not hear—because their prayers are hypocritical: their hearts are still idolatrous. God never refuses to hear real prayer (Jer 7:21, 22; Pr 1:28; Isa 1:15; 58:3).

sword … famine … pestilence—the three sorest judgments at once; any one of which would be enough for their ruin (2Sa 24:12, 13).

13. Jeremiah urges that much of the guilt of the people is due to the false prophets' influence.

assured peace—solid and lasting peace. Literally, "peace of truth" (Isa 39:8).

14. (Jer 23:21).

15. (Jer 5:12, 13).

By sword and famine … consumed—retribution in kind both to the false prophets and to their hearers (Jer 14:16).

16. none to bury—(Ps 79:3).

pour their wickedness—that is, the punishment incurred by their wickedness (Jer 2:19).

17. (Jer 9:1; La 1:16). Jeremiah is desired to weep ceaselessly for the calamities coming on his nation (called a "virgin," as being heretofore never under foreign yoke), (Isa 23:4).

18. go about—that is, shall have to migrate into a land of exile. Horsley translates, "go trafficking about the land (see Jer 5:31, Margin; 2Co 4:2; 2Pe 2:3), and take no knowledge" (that is, pay no regard to the miseries before their eyes) (Isa 1:3; 58:3). If the literal sense of the Hebrew verb be retained, I would with English Version understand the words as referring to the exile to Babylon; thus, "the prophet and the priest shall have to go to a strange land to practise their religious traffic (Isa 56:11; Eze 34:2, 3; Mic 3:11).

19. The people plead with God, Jeremiah being forbidden to do so.

no healing—(Jer 15:18).

peace … no good—(Jer 8:15).

20. (Da 9:8).

21. us—"the throne of Thy glory" may be the object of "abhor not" ("reject not"); or "Zion" (Jer 14:19).

throne of thy glory—Jerusalem, or, the temple, called God's "footstool" and "habitation" (1Ch 28:2; Ps 132:5).

thy covenant—(Ps 106:45; Da 9:19).

22. vanities—idols (De 32:21).

rain—(Zec 10:1, 2).

heavens—namely, of themselves without God (Mt 5:45; Ac 14:17); they are not the First Cause, and ought not to be deified, as they were by the heathen. The disjunctive "or" favors Calvin's explanation: "Not even the heavens themselves can give rain, much less can the idol vanities."

art not thou he—namely, who canst give rain?




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