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Punishment Is Inevitable


Then the Lord said to me: Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! 2And when they say to you, “Where shall we go?” you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord:

Those destined for pestilence, to pestilence,

and those destined for the sword, to the sword;

those destined for famine, to famine,

and those destined for captivity, to captivity.

3 And I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, says the Lord: the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, and the birds of the air and the wild animals of the earth to devour and destroy. 4I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what King Manasseh son of Hezekiah of Judah did in Jerusalem.



Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem,

or who will bemoan you?

Who will turn aside

to ask about your welfare?


You have rejected me, says the Lord,

you are going backward;

so I have stretched out my hand against you and destroyed you—

I am weary of relenting.


I have winnowed them with a winnowing fork

in the gates of the land;

I have bereaved them, I have destroyed my people;

they did not turn from their ways.


Their widows became more numerous

than the sand of the seas;

I have brought against the mothers of youths

a destroyer at noonday;

I have made anguish and terror

fall upon her suddenly.


She who bore seven has languished;

she has swooned away;

her sun went down while it was yet day;

she has been shamed and disgraced.

And the rest of them I will give to the sword

before their enemies,

says the Lord.


Jeremiah Complains Again and Is Reassured

10 Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. 11The Lord said: Surely I have intervened in your life for good, surely I have imposed enemies on you in a time of trouble and in a time of distress. 12Can iron and bronze break iron from the north?

13 Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder, without price, for all your sins, throughout all your territory. 14I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.


O Lord, you know;

remember me and visit me,

and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.

In your forbearance do not take me away;

know that on your account I suffer insult.


Your words were found, and I ate them,

and your words became to me a joy

and the delight of my heart;

for I am called by your name,

O Lord, God of hosts.


I did not sit in the company of merrymakers,

nor did I rejoice;

under the weight of your hand I sat alone,

for you had filled me with indignation.


Why is my pain unceasing,

my wound incurable,

refusing to be healed?

Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook,

like waters that fail.



Therefore thus says the Lord:

If you turn back, I will take you back,

and you shall stand before me.

If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,

you shall serve as my mouth.

It is they who will turn to you,

not you who will turn to them.


And I will make you to this people

a fortified wall of bronze;

they will fight against you,

but they shall not prevail over you,

for I am with you

to save you and deliver you,

says the Lord.


I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,

and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

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Jer 15:1-21. God's Reply to Jeremiah's Intercessory Prayer.

1. Moses … Samuel—eminent in intercessions (Ex 32:11, 12; 1Sa 7:9; Ps 99:6).

be toward—could not be favorably inclined toward them.

out of my sight—God speaks as if the people were present before Him, along with Jeremiah.

2. death—deadly plague (Jer 18:21; 43:11; Eze 5:2, 12; Zec 11:9).

3. appoint—(Le 26:16).

kinds—of punishments.

4. cause … to be removed—(De 28:25; Eze 23:46). Rather, "I will give them up to vexation," I will cause them to wander so as nowhere to have repose [Calvin]; (2Ch 29:8, "trouble;" Margin, "commotion").

because of Manasseh—He was now dead, but the effects of his sins still remained. How much evil one bad man can cause! The evil fruits remain even after he himself has received repentance and forgiveness. The people had followed his wicked example ever since; and it is implied that it was only through the long-suffering of God that the penal consequences had been suspended up to the present time (compare 1Ki 14:16; 2Ki 21:11; 23:26; 24:3, 4).

5. go aside … how thou doest—Who will turn aside (in passing by) to salute thee (to wish thee "peace")?

6. weary with repenting—(Ho 13:14; 11:8). I have so often repented of the evil that I threatened (Jer 26:19; Ex 32:14; 1Ch 21:15), and have spared them, without My forbearance moving them to repentance, that I will not again change My purpose (God speaking in condescension to human modes of thought), but will take vengeance on them now.

7. fan—tribulation—from tribulum, a threshing instrument, which separates the chaff from the wheat (Mt 3:12).

gates of the land—that is, the extreme bounds of the land through which the entrance to and exit from it lie. Maurer translates, "I will fan," that is, cast them forth "to the gates of the land" (Na 3:13). "In the gates"; English Version draws the image from a man cleaning corn with a fan; he stands at the gate of the threshing-floor in the open air, to remove the wheat from the chaff by means of the wind; so God threatens to remove Israel out of the bounds of the land [Houbigant].

8. Their widows—My people's (Jer 15:7).

have brought—prophetical past: I will bring.

mother of the young men—"mother" is collective; after the "widows," He naturally mentions bereavement of their sons ("young men"), brought on the "mothers" by "the spoiler"; it was owing to the number of men slain that the "widows" were so many [Calvin]. Others take "mother," as in 2Sa 20:19, of Jerusalem, the metropolis; "I have brought on them, against the 'mother,' a young spoiler," namely, Nebuchadnezzar, sent by his father, Nabopolassar, to repulse the Egyptian invaders (2Ki 23:29; 24:1), and occupy Judea. But Jer 15:7 shows the future, not the past, is referred to; and "widows" being literal, "mother" is probably so, too.

at noonday—the hottest part of the day, when military operations were usually suspended; thus it means unexpectedly, answering to the parallel, "suddenly"; openly, as others explain it, will not suit the parallelism (compare Ps 91:6).

itEnglish Version seems to understand by "it" the mother city, and by "him" the "spoiler"; thus "it" will be parallel to "city." Rather, "I will cause to fall upon them (the 'mothers' about to be bereft of their sons) suddenly anguish and terrors."

the city—rather, from a root "heat," anguish, or consternation. So the Septuagint.

9. borne seven—(1Sa 2:5). Seven being the perfect number indicates full fruitfulness.

languisheth—because not even one is left of all her sons (Jer 15:8).

sun is gone down while … yet day—Fortune deserts her at the very height of her prosperity (Am 8:9).

she … ashamed—The mothers (she being collective) are put to the shame of disappointed hopes through the loss of all their children.

10. (Jer 20:14; Job 3:1, &c.). Jeremiah seems to have been of a peculiarly sensitive temperament; yet the Holy Spirit enabled him to deliver his message at the certain cost of having his sensitiveness wounded by the enmities of those whom his words offended.

man of strife—exposed to strifes on the part of "the whole earth" (Ps 80:6).

I have neither lent, &c.—proverbial for, "I have given no cause for strife against me."

11. Verily—literally, "Shall it not be?" that is, "Surely it shall be."

thy remnant—the final issue of thy life; thy life, which now seems to thee so sad, shall eventuate in prosperity [Calvin]. They who think that they shall be the surviving remnant, whereas thou shalt perish, shall themselves fall, whereas thou shalt remain and be favored by the conquerors [Junius], (Jer 40:4, 5; 39:11, 12). The Keri reads, "I will set thee free (or as Maurer, 'I will establish thee') for good" (Jer 14:11; Ezr 8:22; Ps 119:122).

to entreat thee well—literally, "to meet thee"; so "to be placable, nay, of their own accord to anticipate in meeting thee with kindness" [Calvin]. I prefer this translation as according with the event (Jer 39:11, 12; 40:4, 5). Gesenius, from Jer 7:16; 27:18; Job 21:15, translates (not only will I relieve thee from the enemy's vexations, but) "I will make thine enemy (that now vexeth thee) apply to thee with prayers" (Jer 38:14; 42:2-6).

12. steel—rather, brass or copper, which mixed with "iron" (by the Chalybes near the Euxine Pontus, far north of Palestine), formed the hardest metal, like our steel. Can the Jews, hardy like common iron though they be, break the still hardier Chaldees of the north (Jer 1:14), who resemble the Chalybian iron hardened with copper? Certainly not [Calvin]. Henderson translates. "Can one break iron, (even) the northern iron, and brass," on the ground that English Version makes ordinary iron not so hard as brass. But it is not brass, but a particular mixture of iron and brass, which is represented as harder than common iron, which was probably then of inferior texture, owing to ignorance of modern modes of preparation.

13. Thy substance … sins—Judea's, not Jeremiah's.

without price—God casts His people away as a thing worth naught (Ps 44:12). So, on the contrary, Jehovah, when about to restore His people, says, He will give Egypt, &c., for their "ransom" (Isa 43:3).

even in all thy borders—joined with "Thy substance … treasures, as also with "all thy sins," their sin and punishment being commensurate (Jer 17:3).

14. theeMaurer supplies "them," namely, "thy treasures." Eichorn, needlessly, from Syriac and the Septuagint, reads, "I will make thee to serve thine enemies"; a reading doubtless interpolated from Jer 17:4.

fire—(De 32:22).

15. thou knowest—namely, my case; what wrongs my adversaries have done me (Jer 12:3).

revenge me—(See on Jer 11:20). The prophet in this had regard to, not his own personal feelings of revenge, but the cause of God; he speaks by inspiration God's will against the ungodly. Contrast in this the law with the gospel (Lu 23:34; Ac 7:60).

take me not away in thy long-suffering—By Thy long-suffering towards them, suffer them not meanwhile to take away my life.

for thy sake I have suffered rebuke—the very words of the antitype, Jesus Christ (Ps 69:7, 22-28), which last compare with Jeremiah's prayer in the beginning of this verse.

16. eat—(Eze 2:8; 3:1, 3; Re 10:9, 10). As soon as Thy words were found by me, I eagerly laid hold of and appropriated them. The Keri reads, "Thy word."

thy word … joy—(Job 23:12; Ps 119:72, 111; compare Mt 13:44).

called by thy name—I am Thine, Thy minister. So the antitype, Jesus Christ (Ex 23:21).

17. My "rejoicing" (Jer 15:16) was not that of the profane mockers (Ps 1:1; 26:4, 5) at feasts. So far from having fellowship with these, he was expelled from society, and made to sit "alone," because of his faithful prophecies.

because of thy hand—that is, Thine inspiration (Isa 8:11; Eze 1:3; 3:14).

filled me with indignation—So Jer 6:11, "full of the fury of the Lord"; so full was he of the subject (God's "indignation" against the ungodly) with which God had inspired him, as not to be able to contain himself from expressing it. The same comparison by contrast between the effect of inspiration, and that of wine, both taking a man out of himself, occurs (Ac 2:13, 15, 18).

18. (Jer 30:15). "Pain," namely, the perpetual persecution to which he was exposed, and his being left by God without consolation and "alone." Contrast his feeling here with that in Jer 15:16, when he enjoyed the full presence of God, and was inspired by His words. Therefore he utters words of his natural "infirmity" (so David, Ps 77:10) here; as before he spoke under the higher spiritual nature given him.

as a liar, and as—rather, "as a deceiving (river) … waters that are not sure (lasting)"; opposed to "living (perennial) waters" (Job 6:15). Streams that the thirsty traveller had calculated on being full in winter, but which disappoint him in his sorest need, having run dry in the heat of summer. Jehovah had promised Jeremiah protection from his enemies (Jer 1:18, 19); his infirmity suggests that God had failed to do so.

19. God's reply to Jeremiah.

return … bring … again—Jeremiah, by his impatient language, had left his proper posture towards God; God saith, "If thou wilt return (to thy former patient discharge of thy prophetic function) I will bring thee back" to thy former position: in the Hebrew there is a play of words, "return … turn again" (Jer 8:4; 4:1).

stand before me—minister acceptably to Me (De 10:8; 1Ki 17:1; 18:15).

take … precious from … vile—image from metals: "If thou wilt separate what is precious in thee (the divine graces imparted) from what is vile (thy natural corruptions, impatience, and hasty words), thou shall be as My mouth": my mouthpiece (Ex 4:16).

return not thou unto them—Let not them lead you into their profane ways (as Jeremiah had spoken irreverently, Jer 15:18), but lead thou them to the ways of godliness (Jer 15:16, 17). Eze 22:26 accords with the other interpretation, which, however, does not so well suit the context, "If thou wilt separate from the promiscuous mass the better ones, and lead them to conversion by faithful warnings," &c.

20, 21. The promise of Jer 1:18, 19, in almost the same words, but with the addition, adapted to the present attacks of Jeremiah's formidable enemies, "I will deliver thee out of … wicked … redeem … terrible"; the repetition is in order to assure Jeremiah that God is the same now as when He first made the promise, in opposition to the prophet's irreverent accusation of unfaithfulness (Jer 15:18).