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The Great Drought


The word of the L ord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:


Judah mourns

and her gates languish;

they lie in gloom on the ground,

and the cry of Jerusalem goes up.


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,


because the ground is cracked.

Because there has been no rain on the land

the farmers are dismayed;

they cover their heads.


Even the doe in the field forsakes her newborn fawn

because there is no grass.


The wild asses stand on the bare heights,

they pant for air like jackals;

their eyes fail

because there is no herbage.



Although our iniquities testify against us,

act, O L ord, for your name’s sake;

our apostasies indeed are many,

and we have sinned against you.


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?


Why should you be like someone confused,

like a mighty warrior who cannot give help?

Yet you, O L ord, are in the midst of us,

and we are called by your name;

do not forsake us!



Thus says the L ord concerning this people:

Truly they have loved to wander,

they have not restrained their feet;

therefore the L ord does not accept them,

now he will remember their iniquity

and punish their sins.


11 The L ord 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 G od! 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 L ord 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 L ord 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.



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.


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


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.


We acknowledge our wickedness, O L ord,

the iniquity of our ancestors,

for we have sinned against you.


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

do not dishonor your glorious throne;

remember and do not break your covenant with us.


Can any idols of the nations bring rain?

Or can the heavens give showers?

Is it not you, O L ord our God?

We set our hope on you,

for it is you who do all this.

The Prophet now turns to prayer and to complaints, that by his example he might at length rouse the people to lamentation, in order that they might humbly implore God’s forgiveness, and sincerely confess their sins and be displeased with themselves. At the same time he indirectly reproves that hardness of which we have before spoken. As then he effected nothing by teaching, he changed his manner of speaking, and leaving the people he addressed God, according to what we have before noticed.

He then asks, Repudiating hast thou repudiated Judah? Has thy soul abominated Sion? 121121     The first verb means to reject with contempt, and the second, to reject with abhorrence, —
   Despising, hast thou despised Judah? Has thy soul abhorred Sion?

   Had he despised Judah as a worthless thing, and had he abhorred Sion as a filthy thing? — Ed.
Jeremiah seems to reason here from what is inconsistent, as though he had said, “Is it possible that thou hast rejected the tribe of Judah and Mount Sion?” For God had promised that he should ever have a lamp at Jerusalem. The ten tribes had already been overthrown, and their kingdom had not only been distressed, but wholly demolished: still there remained a seed, because the tribe of Judah continued, which was as it were the flower of the whole people; and from him the salvation of the world was to proceed. Hence the Prophet does here, as it were, expostulate with God, as though he had said, “Thou hast chosen the tribe of Judah for this end, that it might be safe perpetually; thou hast also commanded the Temple to be built on Mount Sion for thy name; thou hast said that it would be thy rest for ever: hadst thou then by rejecting rejected the tribe of Judah? does thy soul abominate Mount Sion?

There seems, however, to be a kind of irony implied: for though Jeremiah prayed sincerely, he yet intended to remind the people how foolishly they promised themselves impunity as to their sins, because God had his habitation in the Temple, and because Jerusalem was as it were his royal palace. It is indeed evident that the Prophet recalled to mind the promises of God; but yet he wished briefly to shew, that though God should apparently destroy the remnant, and suffer the Temple to be demolished, he would be still faithful to his promises. In asking therefore these questions, as in astonishment, he had partly a regard to God, and partly also he reminded the people, that though God delivered the body of the people to destruction, he would yet be faithful and constant in what he had promised.

He then says, Why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing? There is no doubt but that the Prophet in this place also wished to turn God to mercy for this reason, because he had promised to be merciful to the posterity of David, though sometimes he punished them for their sins; for there was this remarkable promise,

“If his children shall offend and violate my covenant, I will smite them with a rod and chastise their iniquities; yet my mercy will I not take from them.”
(2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 89:31-33)

And to the same purpose is what he said in Jeremiah 10:24,

“Chastise me, O Lord, but in judgment,”

that is, moderately, “lest thou bring me to nothing.” There the Prophet, as we have said, reminded God of his covenant; and he does the same here, Why hast thou smitten, so that there is no healing? For the punishment which God inflicts on his Church would be, as he declares, a kind of medicine; but when there is no hope of healing, God seems to render void what he had promised. Hence Jeremiah goes on in drawing his argument from what is inconsistent, as though he had said, that it was not possible that God should so severely smite his people as not to allow a place for forgiveness, but that he would at length be intreated and heal the wound inflicted.

We have expected peace, and there is no good; and the time of healing, and behold trouble, or terror. 122122     The proper construction of these lines, and of the preceding, is not commonly given. The “why” before “smitten” is to be understood here, —
   Why hast thou smitten us, and there is for us no healing? Why has there been hope for peace, and there is no good? And for the time of healing, and behold terror?

   The word for “hope,” or longing, or looking for, is a participial noun, but rendered by the versions as though it were a verb in the first person plural. As “smitten” is in the past tense, so has been is to be understood before “hope.” — Ed.
This latter part of the verse confirms what I just stated, that the Prophet had partly a reference to God in this mode of prayer, and that he partly reproved the Jews, because they thought, being deceived by false confidence, that they were beyond the reach of danger, inasmuch as God had consecrated Jerusalem, that his name might be there called upon, and that the Temple might be his perpetual habitation. As then he saw that his nation were inebriated, as it were, with this foolish notion, he intended briefly to shew to them that God would Ilave an unknown way by which he would retain his faithfulness, and yet punish the ungodly and the transgressors; for by saying, “We expected peace, and there is no good,” he certainly does not commend the fidelity of the people; for relying on God’s promises, they sought comfort in evils, and hoped that God would at length be exorable and propitious. The word expecting is not to be taken in a good sense; but he on the contrary reproves the Jews, because they put too much faith in false prophets. We hence see that he condemns that false expectation by which they had been deceived. Hence also we learn what has been before stated, that the Jews foolishly promised to themselves impunity, because God had chosen his habitation among them; for he shews that God had not in vain threatened their ruin by his servants. This then is also the meaning when he says, We expected the time of healing, and behold terror It now follows —

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