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Jeremiah 15:5-6

5. For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?

5. Nam quis parcet tibi Jerusalem (vel, quis miserebitur tui? sed חמל proprie est ignoscere vel parcere; hic tamen accipitur pro indulgere vel misereri: quis ergo miserebitur tui Jerusalem?) et quis consolabitur te? et quis locum mutabit ad inquirendum de pace tibi? (hoc est, tua: jungamus et alterum versum:)

6. Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

6. Tu reliquisti me, dieit Jehova; retrorsum abiisti; ideo extendam manum meam super te et perdam to: fatigatus sum poenitendo.


The Prophet shews here that the severe punishment of which he had spoken could not be deemed unjust, according to what those men thought who were querulous, and ever expostulated with God, and charged him with too much rigour. Lest, then, the Jews should complain, the Prophet says briefly, that all the evils which were nigh at hand were fully due, and so deserved, that they could find no pity, even among men. We know that the worst of men, when the Lord punishes them, have some to condole with them. There is no one so wicked that relatives do not favor him, and that some do not console him. But the Prophet shews that the Jews were not only inexcusable before God, but that they were undeserving of any sympathy from men.

He first says, Who will pity thee? and then, Who will console with thee? The verb. נוד, nud, means properly to give comfort by words, as when relatives, and friends, and neighbors meet together for the purpose of mourning; they hear lamentations, and join in them. But he says that no one would perform this office towards Jerusalem. He adds, in the third place, And who will turn aside? or, strictly, change place — Who will change place to enquire? or, as some render it, to pray. The verb שאל shal, means properly to ask, and hence sometimes to pray. So, many give this meaning, that there would be no one to pray for the Jews. But if we consider the construction of the sentence, we shall see that the Prophet speaks of that duty of kindness which men cultivate and observe towards one another, by enquiring of their welfare, — “Are all things well with thee?” How dost thou do? Are all things well with thee and thine?” When we thus enquire of the state of any one we shew some concern for him, for love is always solicitous for the welfare of others. The Prophet then says, “Who will turn aside to thee to enquire of thy welfare?” that is, that he may know how thou art, and what is thy state and condition.

We hence see that the Jews are here divested of every complaint, for the whole world would acknowledge them to be unworthy of any commiseration. But the Prophet does not mean that all would act cruelly towards Jerusalem, but rather shews, that such were their crimes that there was no room for courtesy, or for those acts of kindness which men of themselves perform towards one another. 132132     There is a general agreement as to the two first clauses of this verse, but not as to the last. The Syriac and the Targum give the meaning advocated by Calvin, with whom Gataker, Grotius, and Blayney agree. But the Septuagint and the Vulgate seem to take the other view, that to “pray for peace” is what is meant; and this has been adopted by Montanus, Castalio, and Venema. But the former is no doubt substantially the right view, though the phrase used, “to salute,” or “to enquire of one’s welfare,” or “how thou doest,” is too general. In 1 Samuel 25:5 (see also 1 Samuel 10:4) we have the same form of words too loosely rendered, “greet him in my name,” in our version. The following verse shews that the rendering ought to be, “wish (or bid) him peace in my name.” Literally it is, “Ask for him in my name for peace.” So here the literal rendering is, —
   Or who will turn aside to ask for peace for thee?

   or, in our language, “to bid thee peace.”

   The word “turn aside” seems clearly to favor this meaning. In the other case its import does not appear. The intimation is, that no one would deem it worth his while to turn out of his way to express a good wish in behalf of Jerusalem. — Ed.

Then follows the reason — For thou hast forsaken me, saith Jehovah Since, then, God had been rejected by the Jews, did not such a defection bring its deserved reward, when they were deprived of every human aid? He afterwards adds, Backward hast thou gone He intimates that there was a continuance in their wicked defection; for they not only forgot God for a time, but departed far from him, so as to become wholly alienated.

It then follows — And I will stretch out, etc.; that is, “therefore will I stretch out,” etc.; for the copulative is to be taken here as an inative. This may be viewed as in the past or the future tense; for God had in a measure already afflicted the people; but heavier judgments awaited them. I am inclined to regard it as a prediction of what was to come, as it immediately follows, I am weary with repenting, that is, “I have so often repented that I cannot possibly be induced now to forgive; for I see that I have been so often deceived, that I camlot hear to be deceived any longer.” Some, indeed, give this version, — “I am weary with consoling myself,” and נחם, nuchem, means both; but the other sense seems to me the most suitable. I doubt not then but that the Prophet means repentance. We indeed know that God changes not his purpose; for men repent because their expectation often disappoints them, when things happen otherwise than they had thought; but no such thing can happen to God; and he is said to repent according to our apprehensions. God then repents of his severity whenever he mitigates it towards his people, whenever he withdraws his hand from executing his vengeance, whenever he forgives sins. And this had been often done to the Jews; but they had made a mock of such mercy, and the oftener God spared them the more audaciously did they provoke his wrath. Hence he says, “I am weary with repenting so often;” that is, that he had so often spared them and suspended his judgment. 133133     The verse may be thus rendered, —
   6. Thou hast broken loose from me, saith Jehovah; Backward dost thou walk; But I will stretch my hand over thee and destroy thee; I have become wearied with repenting.

   The verb here used, commonly rendered “forsake,” means to loose oneself from restraints: the Jews were bound, as it were, to God by covenant; they broke loose from this bond, they freed themselves from this tie, and went back to idolatry. “Walk,” though future, is to be taken here as present. The last line in the Septaugint is as follows — “I will no longer release them;” and in the Syriac, “I will no longer spare them.” The verb הנחם seems to have been taken as coming from נח with an ם affixed, and put here in Hiphil — “I m wearied with causing them to rest,” or, “with forbearing,” as rendered by Blayney. But our version, which is that of Calvin, seems preferable, and is adopted by Piscator, Grotius, and Venema. The last indeed proposes the joining of this line with the next verse, which Blayney has adopted, and in that case he prefers the reading of the Septuagint and Syriac. Then the passage would be, —

   I am wearied with forbearing them, or, with suffering them to rest;
7. And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land.

   He truly says that there is a kind of contrast between the suffering of them to rest quietly, and the fanning of them in the gates of land for the purpose of dispersing them. — Ed.

In short, he deprives the Jews of every excuse, and shews that they acted impiously when they murmured against God, for they allowed no place to his mercy; nay, whenever they found him recentliable they abused his forbearance with extreme indignity and perverseness. It follows —

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