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At that time, says the L ord, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its officials, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be brought out of their tombs; 2and they shall be spread before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and served, which they have followed, and which they have inquired of and worshiped; and they shall not be gathered or buried; they shall be like dung on the surface of the ground. 3Death shall be preferred to life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family in all the places where I have driven them, says the L ord of hosts.


The Blind Perversity of the Whole Nation


You shall say to them, Thus says the L ord:

When people fall, do they not get up again?

If they go astray, do they not turn back?


Why then has this people turned away

in perpetual backsliding?

They have held fast to deceit,

they have refused to return.


I have given heed and listened,

but they do not speak honestly;

no one repents of wickedness,

saying, “What have I done!”

All of them turn to their own course,

like a horse plunging headlong into battle.


Even the stork in the heavens

knows its times;

and the turtledove, swallow, and crane

observe the time of their coming;

but my people do not know

the ordinance of the L ord.



How can you say, “We are wise,

and the law of the L ord is with us,”

when, in fact, the false pen of the scribes

has made it into a lie?


The wise shall be put to shame,

they shall be dismayed and taken;

since they have rejected the word of the L ord,

what wisdom is in them?


Therefore I will give their wives to others

and their fields to conquerors,

because from the least to the greatest

everyone is greedy for unjust gain;

from prophet to priest

everyone deals falsely.


They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,

saying, “Peace, peace,”

when there is no peace.


They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;

yet they were not at all ashamed,

they did not know how to blush.

Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;

at the time when I punish them, they shall be overthrown,

says the L ord.


When I wanted to gather them, says the L ord,

there are no grapes on the vine,

nor figs on the fig tree;

even the leaves are withered,

and what I gave them has passed away from them.



Why do we sit still?

Gather together, let us go into the fortified cities

and perish there;

for the L ord our God has doomed us to perish,

and has given us poisoned water to drink,

because we have sinned against the L ord.


We look for peace, but find no good,

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



The snorting of their horses is heard from Dan;

at the sound of the neighing of their stallions

the whole land quakes.

They come and devour the land and all that fills it,

the city and those who live in it.


See, I am letting snakes loose among you,

adders that cannot be charmed,

and they shall bite you,

says the L ord.


The Prophet Mourns for the People


My joy is gone, grief is upon me,

my heart is sick.


Hark, the cry of my poor people

from far and wide in the land:

“Is the L ord not in Zion?

Is her King not in her?”

(“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images,

with their foreign idols?”)


“The harvest is past, the summer is ended,

and we are not saved.”


For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,

I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.



Is there no balm in Gilead?

Is there no physician there?

Why then has the health of my poor people

not been restored?

Interpreters explain differently the word מבלגיתי, mebelgiti. Some take מ, mem, in the sense of ב, beth; but others, with whom I agree, regard it as a servile, deriving the word from בלג, belag; and this letter is prefixed to it to shew that it is a noun. The ת, tau, also at the end, is a servile. 230230     The ancient versions and the Targum all differ as to the meaning of this word; and it is difficult to make the original to agree with any of them. The word, as in the received text, is a verbal noun from Hiphil, with a iod affixed to it, and is either a personal noun in the feminine gender, “my consoler,“ or “strengthener,“ meaning his own soul,-or a common noun, “my consolation,“ or “strength,“ meaning God. But Schultens, regarding the verb as signifying to smile or to laugh, and thinking that it means here the laugh of misery or of contempt, renders it “O thou (i.e., the daughter of Sion) that grinnest at me for pain,“ and sayest, “within me the heart is sick.” The Targum seems to favor this view, as it mentions the division of the people. Blayney, according to several copies, divides the word thus, מבלי גיתי, and considers the one as a negative, and the other a verbal noun from גהה, to heal, and renders the verse thus: —
   Sorrow is upon me past my remedying,
My heart within me is faint.

   Still the simplest way, and the most suitable to the passage, is to take the word as a common noun, signifying consolation, comfort or strength, and to consider the words as addressed to God, —

   My strength! within me is sorrow, Within me is my heart faint.

   “Faint,“ that is, through grief. It is rendered “grieve,“ or “is sorrowful,“ by all the ancient versions and the Targum.Ed.

The Prophet then means, that he sought strength in his sorrow, but that his heart was weak He no doubt, I think, sets forth in this verse the perverse character of the people, — that they sought through their obstinacy to drive away every punishment. This could not indeed be referred to himself, or to those who were like him, as we know how fearful are God’s servants with regard to his wrath; for as the fear of God prevails in their hearts, so they are easily terrified by his judgment; but hypocrites and wicked men ever harden themselves as far as they can. They then strengthened themselves against God, and thought in this way to be conquerors. Since they thus perversely contended with God, the Prophet sets forth here the great hardness of the people: I would, he says, strengthen myself in my sorrow; but my heart is within me weak; that is, “In vain are these remedies tried; in vain have ye hitherto endeavored to strengthen yourselves, and have sought fortresses and strongholds against God; for sorrow will at length prevail, as the Lord will add troubles to troubles, so that ye must at length succumb under them.”

He means the same when he says, his heart was within him weak: “I have, “he says, “been oppressed with sorrow, when I thought I had strength enough to resist.” For thus the ungodly think manfully to act, when they madly resist God; but at length they find by the event that they in vain seek thus to strengthen themselves; for our heart, he says, will become within us weak, and debility itself will at last oppress and overwhelm us.

The Prophet in this verse assumes different characters: he first denounces ruin, which, though near, was not yet dreaded by the people; he then represents the people, and relates what they would say; in the third place, he adds an answer in God’s name to check the clamors of the people.

When he says that the daughter of his people uttered a cry, he is to be understood as referring to a future time; for the Jews as yet continued perversely in their sins, and ridiculed all threatenings, and regarded as nothing what was said by the prophets. Jeremiah then does not mean that his own nation cried, as though they dreaded future calamities, (for they were heedlessly secure;) but he condemns their indifference, as though he had said, “Ye indeed do now indulge your own delusions, and think that your felicity is to be perpetual; but in a short time your cry will be heard.” The words, From a distant land, interpreters apply to the Chaldeans and Assyrians, as though the Prophet had said, “Ye hope for a perpetual rest, because your enemies are far from you; hence distance and delay in marching produce this security in you; for it seems not to you credible that your enemies shall make such a journey, except with much expense and much trouble; but in this opinion you are deceived; for though the Chaldeans and the Assyrians are far distant from you, yet they shall soon come and constrain you to utter a cry: ye cannot now bear the warnings of the prophets, my voice ye cannot endure; but God will constrain you to utter a different voice, for ye shall cry, but without any avail.”

This meaning is not without reason on its side: if then the Prophet’s words be thus taken, I offer no objection; for hypocrites derive confidence from the present appearance of things; when they see that there is quietness on every side, they fear no danger; when God threatens them, and shews not immediately his rods, they ridicule or despise them.: thus have we seen in other places.

But another meaning is not unsuitable, — that Jeremiah describes the lamentations of the people in exile, after having been driven into Chaldea and Assyria: The voice, then, of the daughter of my people from a distant land; 231231     Literally it is, “The voice of the shout of the daughter of my people,” four words in succession, and three in regimine by juxtaposition. The Welsh is exactly the same, “Llev gwaedd merch vy mhobl“ — Voice shout daughter my people. — Ed. that is, after having been deprived of their country, they will then begin to cry, and for this reason, because they wished the prophets to give them rest, and refused to bear any reproofs. Appropriate also is this view; but I prefer the former, — that the people would shortly find out how foolishly they deluded themselves, when God by his servants threatened them with ruin and destruction: and hence he uses the demonstrative particle, “Behold:” Behold, he says, the voice of crying; and yet great was the silence then at Jerusalem: for though in their pleasure they uttered some voices, yet as to weepings and lamentations the whole city was silent. The Prophet then refers to what was hidden. But God usually acts in this way, as he afterwards executes suddenly his judgment; for when the wicked say, Peace, peace, destruction comes and suddenly overwhelms them. (1 Thessalonians 5:8.)

He adds in the second place, Is not Jehovah in Sion? Is not her king in her? The Prophet no doubt expresses here the complaints of the people on finding themselves overwhelmed with so many and so great evils, without receiving any aid from heaven. For hypocrites ever expostulate with God; and as they consider that they are unjustly chastised, they reject every instruction, and avoid it as much as they can; in short, they seek stupidity, that they may deceive themselves with vain delusions. As then it is usual with hypocrites to reject every apprehension of God’s wrath, Jeremiah strikingly describes their contumacy, “Is not Jehovah in Sion? Is not her king in her?” For they accused God of falsehood, as though he had deceived them, since he had promised to be the defender of the city, and of the whole land. As then they thought that God was bound to them by this promise, they daringly raged against him, “What means this? for God has chosen this place, where Abraham’s race might worship him; it has been as it were his earthly kingdom: but now what can this mean, that enemies are coming here? Can God ever permit them to do so? This is not possible, except God himself be overcome.”

We hence see the import of the Prophet’s words; for he here imitates the perverse language of the people, and recites the words which he knew most of them used. We have before found him addressing them,

“Trust not in words of falsehood, saying, The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah,”
(Jeremiah 7:4;)

for they were wont perversely to allege against God, the temple, and to regard it as a shield to ward off every evil. In the same way the Prophet says now, “Is not God in Sion?” and then, “Is not her king in her?” The Jews were not only persuaded that God would be propitious to them, but they doubted not of their own safety, while they could turn their eyes to their king. They therefore uttered these words, as though they were beyond the chance of danger: for we know what God had declared respecting the kingdom, that it would continue for ever: So long as the sun and moon shall be in heaven, shall remain the seat of David, and his posterity flourish. (Psalm 89:36, 37.) Hence they connected the king with God; as though they had said, “Here is God worshipped, and his power dwells in the temple; the king also, whom he has set over us, is a sure pledge of his favor; and the perpetuity of his kingdom has been promised to us: it then follows, that either God is untrue, and that we have been deceived with vain promises, or that our enemies will come in vain; for when they shall make every effort, God, who is the guardian of our safety, will easily drive them away.”

At the first view this seems to be an evidence of faith, as the people seemed persuaded that they should be safe and secure under the protection of God, and as they turned their eyes to that kingdom, which was a remarkable exhibition of God’s presence: for as David was a type of Christ, and also his posterity, no other refuge could have been sought by the faithful than that which is here described. But we know how hypocrites swell with vain confidence, while yet they are wholly destitute of faith, and how they become wantonly insolent whenever God threatens them, as though they held him bound at their will. As then the ungodly are wont thus to abuse the name of God, it is no wonder that they imitate the language of his true servants: but yet they are wholly different. How so? They lay hold on the promises, but they have no faith nor repentance. “This is my rest for ever: it then follows that we shall be ever safe, for God cannot be overcome by any force of arms, by any onset of enemies; since he has taken us under his protection, what have we to fear?” But, at the same time, they despised God and all his teaching.

We hence see how foolish was the boasting of that people, since they wholly despised the holy name of God, and did swell only with wind, inasmuch as they were altogether destitute of faith and piety. We must also ever keep in mind what I have already said, — that the Jews not only entertained this vain confidence, but also presumptuously rose up against God, as though he had deceived them, having promised that Sion would be his perpetual rest: they now ask him, why he did not defend the city, as he dwelt in Sion? and why was not the king their protection, since it had been said, “So long as the sun and moon shall be in heaven, shall remain the throne of David?” Now follows God’s answer.

Why then have they provoked me with their carvings, and the vanities of the foreigner? Here God retorts their false complaints. We hence learn, that in the last clause the contumacy of the people is what is set forth by Jeremiah: they raged against God, because he did not aid them in time. God shews how absurdly they complained against him, and accused him: Why, he says, have they provoked me?They say now that they are forsaken, because there is no faithfulness in me: I have not betrayed them, nor forsaken them, but they have forsaken me ” We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet. We observe, indeed, that the passage is abrupt, for the Prophet assumes different characters; but as to what is meant there is nothing doubtful.

God says, that he was provoked with carvings: it hence follows, that the temple was polluted. God had indeed promised to dwell in the temple, but on a certain condition, provided he was faithfully, and in a legitimate manner, worshipped there; but the people with their pollutions had defiled the temple. God then shews that there was a just cause why he had departed, according to what is set forth more fully in the tenth chapter of Ezekiel: God shews to his servant in that vision that he had left the temple, and for this reason, — because his holiness could not be blended with ungodly and filthy profanations. He first mentions carvings generally, and then he adds, the vanities of the foreigner: and here he amplifies the sin of the people, because they borrowed here and there from foreigners such superstitions as were unknown to their fathers, as though they wished to banish God from the temple, and from the whole land. 232232     The meaning of this verse is viewed by some differently. Their exile is considered as referred to at the beginning of the verse, “from a distant land,” — or literally, “from the land of the remote ones.” All the versions render the preposition “from,” and not “because of,” as in our version. The Prophet contemplates them as in banishment, and relates what they would say, and what answer God had for them: and they seem to have been thus contemplated to the end of the chapter, —
   19. Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people From the land of the remote ones, — “Was not Jehovah in Sion? Was not her king within her?” “Why! they provoked me with their carved images, With the vanities of the foreigner.”

   Then follows the continuation of the cry in exile, —

   20. “Passed has the harvest, Ended has the summer, And we have not been saved!”

   The “King,” in verse 19, is “Jehovah” in the former line. “The vanities of the foreigner” were idols: they were vanities, because they could do nothing, neither good nor evil. What made them gods were the imaginations of the infatuated and superstitious. The gods of many now are nothing better. Every notion of God is false but what is consistent with his word. The Socinian god is not the true God; it is the fiction of a perverted mind. Nor is the god of the thorough Papists anything better, nor the god of the Pharisee. — Ed.
It follows —

The Prophet shews now in the name of the people what was the hindrance. At the time Jeremiah spoke, the Jews confidently boasted that God was their defender; and they did not think that the Chaldeans were preparing for an expedition. But as they were inflated with false confidence, the Prophet here recites what they would presently say, Passed has the harvest, ended has the summer, and we have not been saved; that is, “We thought that the associates, with whom we have made alliances, would at length come to our aid; and we have in this respect been deceived.” In saying, that the harvest had passed, some think that they expected help from the Egyptians after they had gathered their corn into barns; for there is then more leisure, and then also there are provisions for the army. But the Prophet seems to include the whole time suitable for carrying on war; as though he had said, “What will become of us at last? for if the Egyptians intended to bring help, they would have done so at the suitable time of the year; but passed has the harvest, and the summer has ended: will they come now, when the severity of winter constrains them to keep at home?.”

It is the same as though they had said, “There is no hope of aid either from the Egyptians or from other confederates, for the seasonable time is gone by.” There was nothing less credible to the Jews at that time; for as it; has elsewhere appeared, they doubted not but that the Egyptians would bring them aid, and supply them with help instead of God: but the Prophet intimates, that whatever the Egyptians might have promised would be in vain, and wholly useless, that the people would at length find out by experience that their promises were mere trumperies, yea, impostures and deceits. In short, he describes in the name of the people (that what he said might be more emphatical) what they would soon find out, though they would not believe it at that time. It follows —

As the hardness of the people was so great, that the threatenings we have observed did not touch them, the Prophet now ascribes to himself what he had before attributed to them. We then see how the Prophet varies his mode of speaking; but it was necessary, for he was at a loss to find a way to address them sufficiently strong to penetrate into their stony and even iron hearts. We need not wonder, then, that there are so many figurative terms used by the Prophet; for it was needful to set before them God’s judgment in various ways, that the people might be awakened out of their torpid state.

He then says, that he was bruised for the bruising of his people. He was no doubt ridiculed by most of them: “Oh! thou grievest for thine own evils; it is well and prosperous with us: who has asked thee for this pity? Think not, then, that thou canst gain any favor with us, for we are contented with our lot. Weep rather for thine own calamities, if thou hast any at home; but suffer us at the same time to enjoy our pleasures, since God is propitious and indulgent to us.” Thus then was the Prophet derided; but yet he warns the obstinate people, that they might be less excusable: he says, that he was rendered black; for sorrow brings blackness with it, and makes dark the face of man: it is a metaphorical expression. He says at last, that he was astonished 233233     To keep throughout the metaphorical character of this verse, it ought to be rendered thus, —
   For the bruising of the daughter of my people I was bruised, I became black;
Desolation possessed me.

   But taking the words as applied to the mind, divested of metaphor, we must render them thus, —

   For the sorrow of the daughter of my people I sorrowed, I mourned;
Astonishment possessed me.

   And this “astonishment” he explains in the next verse: there were means of restoration, and yet the people were not restored; at this he was astonished. — Ed.
The astonishment with which he was seized he no doubt sets down as being the opposite of the people’s torpor and insensibility, for they had no fear for themselves. It follows —

The Prophet intimates in these words that the slaughter of the people would be so fatal that they would in vain seek remedies; as though he had said, that the disease would be incurable, and altogether deadly. The people, no doubt, ever devised for themselves many kinds of aids, according to what is commonly done; for ungodly men, when any danger appears, look around them on all sides; and when they think that they can be protected by any kind of assistance, or by any of the means they contrive, they rest secure and free from every trouble. Hence the Prophet, that he might dispel such vain confidences, says that there would be no rosin to heal their diseases. The rosin is a liquid which flows, not from every tree, but from the pine, and trees of that kind.

We may conclude from this passage, as well as from other passages, that the best and the most valuable rosin was found in that part of Judea, called Gilead. Indeed the whole of Judea produced rosin; but as it was more abundant in Gilead, and as that rosin was more odoriferous and more powerful, he expressly mentions that place. The word צרי tsari, means also balsam: and as to this let each follow his own opinion, for the Jews themselves do not altogether agree. They who render it “treacle” wholly depart from the meaning, and offer what is absurd; for we know that treacle is made up of several ingredients: now rosin is not any sort of gum, but a thick liquid, as I have said, which belongs to trees; and from it comes rosin, and mastic, and other things; for the liquid becomes thick after it has flown from the trees.

He says then, as one astonished, Is there not rosin in Gilead? Is there not a physician there? But the Prophet foretells here by the Spirit, that there would be such a destruction as could not by any means be avoided, that the disease would be incurable. For why, he says, does not health come to the daughter of my people? The reason is added, because healing could not be expected by the people; not that the Jews perceived this, for, on the contrary, they boasted, as I have said, of their perfect safety. But the Prophet here declares that a deadly disease was at hand, which would inevitably destroy the wicked 234234     As the whole passage, from the 19th verse, is anticipative, and represents the ease of the Jews in captivity, this verse is to be viewed in the same light, and rendered in the past tense, —
   22. Was there not balm in Gilead? Was there not a healer there?
Why then has not succeeded The recovery of the daughter of my people?

   Whether balm or rosin be meant, it makes no great difference; its healing virtues had become proverbial; and in this sense it is to be taken here. Kimchi held that it was balm or balsam, which Josephus reports was first brought to Judea by the Queen of Sheba. But the tree which produced צרי, was not an exotic, but indigenous in Judea, as it appears from Genesis 37:25, and 43:10; and it grew especially in Gilead, as it appears from this passage and from chap. 46:11 Bochart maintained that rosin is meant by the word, the gum drawn from the Terebinthus or the turpentine tree, which possesses strong healing virtues. It is rendered, “ῥητίνη — rosin,” by the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Arabic; and “cera — wax,” by the Syriac. “Healer,” or physician, is rendered “ἰατρὸς — healer,” by the Septuagint, and “medicus,” by the Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic. It appears that Gilead was not only celebrated for its healing gum, but also for its medical men.

   The balm was the word of God, and the healer who applied it was the prophet or the teacher.

   Perhaps the most literal rendering of the first two lines is the following, and the most suitable to express astonishment, —

   The balm, not in Gilead!:
Verily, a healer, not there!

   — Ed.
Afterwards follows —

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