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9. Sin and Punishment

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! 2Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. 3And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord. 4Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders. 5And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. 6Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the Lord. 7Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people? 8Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.

9Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? 10For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing, and for the habitations of the wilderness a lamentation, because they are burned up, so that none can pass through them; neither can men hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled; they are gone. 11And I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons; and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant.

12Who is the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the Lord hath spoken, that he may declare it, for what the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through? 13And the Lord saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; 14But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them: 15Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. 16I will scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them.

17Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Consider ye, and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for cunning women, that they may come: 18And let them make haste, and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run down with tears, and our eyelids gush out with waters. 19For a voice of wailing is heard out of Zion, How are we spoiled! we are greatly confounded, because we have forsaken the land, because our dwellings have cast us out. 20Yet hear the word of the Lord, O ye women, and let your ear receive the word of his mouth, and teach your daughters wailing, and every one her neighbour lamentation. 21For death is come up into our windows, and is entered into our palaces, to cut off the children from without, and the young men from the streets. 22Speak, Thus saith the Lord, Even the carcases of men shall fall as dung upon the open field, and as the handful after the harvestman, and none shall gather them.

23Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

25Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; 26Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.

He follows the same subject. During times of tranquillity, when nothing but joyful voices were heard among the Jews, he bewails, as one in the greatest grief, the miseries of the people; and being not satisfied with this, he says, Who will set, or make, my head waters, and my eye a fountain of tears? He intimates by these words, that the ruin would be so dreadful that it could not be bewailed by a moderate or usual lamentation, inasmuch as God’s vengeance would exceed common bounds, and fill men with more dread than other calamities.

The meaning is, that the destruction of the people would be so monstrous that it could not be sufficiently bewailed. It hence appears how hardened the Jews had become; for doubtless the Prophet had no delight in such comparisons, as though he wished rhetorically to embellish his discourse; but as he saw that their hearts were inflexible, and that a common way of speaking would be despised, or would have no weight and authority, he was constrained to use such similitudes. And at this day, there is no less insensibility in those who despise God; for however Prophets may thunder, while God spares and indulges them, they promise to themselves perpetual quietness. Hence it is, that they ridicule and insult both God and his servants, as though they were too harshly treated. As then, the same impiety prevails now in the world as formerly, we may hence learn what vehemence they ought to use whom God calls to the same office of teaching. Plain teaching, then, will ever be deemed frigid in the world, except it, be accompanied with sharp goads, such as we find employed here by the Prophet 235235     This verse is connected by some with the last chapter: and it seems to belong to it. It forms in all the Hebrew MSS. the 23d verse of the preceding chapter. The phrase, מי-יתן, “who will give,” means a wish, “O that my head,” etc., or “May my head,” etc. The Septuagint, the Vulgate, the Arabic, and the Targum express it literally, “Who will give;” but the Syriac has, “O, I wish my head were turned into water.” — Ed. He adds —

Jeremiah 9:2

2. Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.

2. Quis statuet me in deserto, in diversorio (alii, tugurium, vertunt; sed nescio an reperiatur מלון in hoc sensu) viatorum? et relinquam populum meum et discedam ab illis; quia omnes adulteri, conventus transgressorum (vel, perfidorum; nam בגדים sunt perfidi et apostatoe, ut alibi vidimus.)

 

Here the Prophet entertains another wish: He had before wished that his head were waters, that he might shed tears, and he had wished his eyes to be the fountains of tears; but now, after having duly considered the wickedness of the people, he puts off every feeling of humanity, and as one incensed, he desires to move elsewhere, and wholly to leave the people; for their impiety had so prevailed that he could no longer live among them. It is indeed certain that the Prophet had no common grief, when he perceived that God’s dreadful vengeance was not far distant: it is also certain that he was moved and constrained by their detestable conduct to desire to be removed elsewhere. But he speaks not only for his own sake; for he regards his own nation, and expresses his feelings, that he might more effectually touch their hearts. We must then understand, that so great was the sympathy of the Prophet, that he was not satisfied with shedding tears, but that he wished that his whole head would flow into fearn It appears, also, that he was so moved with idignation, that he wished wholly to leave his own people. But, as I have said, his object was to try whether he could restore them to the right way.

He then shews, in this verse, that the Jews had become so detestable, that all the true servants of God wished to be removed far away from them: Who then will set me in the desert? He seeks not for himself another country; he desires not to dwell in a pleasant situation, or that some commodious asylum should be offered to him? but he desires to be placed in the desert, or in the lodging of travelers. He speaks not of those lodgings or inns, which were in villages and towns; but of a lodging in the desert; according to what is the case, when a long and tedious journey is made through forests, some sheds are formed, that when a traveler is over — taken by the darkness of night, he might be protected by some covering, and not He down in the open air. It is of this kind of lodging that the Prophet speaks: then he no doubt means a shed; but as to the word, we may retain, as I have said, its proper meaning. What is meant is, that to dwell in the desert alllong wild beasts was better than to be among that abominable people. By expressing this wish he inflamed no doubt the fury of the whole people, or at least of most of them; but it was necessary thus forcibly to address them: as they submitted to no kind and wholesome warnings and counsels, they were to be forcibly stimulated and urged by such reproofs as these.

I will leave my people This had an emphatic, bearing; for delightful to every one is his native soil, and it is also delightful to dwell among one’s own people. As then the Prophet wished to be removed into the desert,, and to leave his own people, all his relatives and the nation from which he sprang, and to depart frora them, it follows that they nmst have come to extremities.

And the reason is added, For all are adulterers I take the word מנאפים menaphim, adulterers, in a metaphorical sense, as meaning all those who had departed from God, and abandoned themselves to ungodly superstitions, or those who had become so vitiated and corrupt as to retain no integrity. He does not then call them adulterers, because they were given to whoredoms, but because they were immersed in all kinds of defilements. He afterwards calls them an assembly of apostates, or of perfidious men. The word עצר, otsar, means to prohibit, to restrain: hence the noun עצרת ostaret, means a summoned assembly, when, according to an oath or laws, men are forced to meet; and after the assembly is proclaimed, they dare not depart. Then the Prophet by this word points out the consent and union that existed among that people, as though he had said, that they no less clave to their sins, that if by a solemn rite or authority or ordinance they had been summoned together and were prohibited to depart. We hence see that he condemns the impious consent that was among the people, and also their pertinacity; for they could by no means be restored to a right mind. And for this reason he calls them also בגדים begadim, transgressors; for by this word the Hebrews mean, not every kind of sinners, but those who are wholly wicked: and hence the prophets, when, they speak of apostates and revolters, ever call them בגדים, begadim, as in this passage. 236236     This verse may be rendered thus, —
   O that I, had in the desert the lodging of travellers, Then I would go away from them; For all of them are adulterers, A company of hypocrites.

   He preferred living in the temporary sheds of travellers, erected in the desert, rather than to live among his own people. How intolerably wicked they must have been! A company, or an assembly, a multitude: the word need not be deemed as retaining its primary idea. The meaning is, that the whole community, the whole people, were hypocrites; they pretended to worship and serve God, and at the same time were idolaters and treacherous and immoral in their conduct. The word for “hypocrites” is derived from one that means a garment, a cloak, a covering; and the verb means to act under a cover, to act deceitfully, or falsely, or hypocritically, or perfidiously. It is rendered “deceivers” by the Septuagint, “prevaricators” by the Vulgate, “liars” by the Syriac, “falsifiers” by the Targum, and “perfidious dealers” by Blayney.Ed.
I shall not proceed farther.


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