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Judgment on the Philistines


The word of the L ord that came to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh attacked Gaza:


Thus says the L ord:

See, waters are rising out of the north

and shall become an overflowing torrent;

they shall overflow the land and all that fills it,

the city and those who live in it.

People shall cry out,

and all the inhabitants of the land shall wail.


At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his stallions,

at the clatter of his chariots, at the rumbling of their wheels,

parents do not turn back for children,

so feeble are their hands,


because of the day that is coming

to destroy all the Philistines,

to cut off from Tyre and Sidon

every helper that remains.

For the L ord is destroying the Philistines,

the remnant of the coastland of Caphtor.


Baldness has come upon Gaza,

Ashkelon is silenced.

O remnant of their power!

How long will you gash yourselves?


Ah, sword of the L ord!

How long until you are quiet?

Put yourself into your scabbard,

rest and be still!


How can it be quiet,

when the L ord has given it an order?

Against Ashkelon and against the seashore—

there he has appointed it.


Jeremiah prophesies here against the Philistines, who were enemies to the Israelites, and had contrived against them many cruel and unjust things. There is then no doubt, but that God intended to testify, by this prophecy, his love towards the Israelites, for he undertook their cause, and avenged the wrongs done to them. We hence perceive why God had predicted the ruin of the Philistines, even that the Israelites might know his paternal love towards them, as he set himself against their enemies; and thus he gave them a reason for patience, because it behooved them to wait until God fulfilled this prophecy.

And he points out the time, Before Pharaoh smote Aza, or Gaza. The ancient Gaza, as far as we can find out, was near the sea; but after it was destroyed, another was built, which is mentioned by Luke, (Acts 8:26;) it appears from heathen writers that it was a celebrated city and opulent. But they are mistaken who think that its name is derived from the Persic word “Gaza,” which means treasures; for they say, that when Cambyses led an army against Egypt, he left there his riches. But the word עזה, Oze, is a very ancient Hebrew word; and it is well known that the ע, oin, has been pronounced like our g; and this is the case as to other words, as for instance, Gomorrah, עמרה, the ע, oin, has the sound of ג, gimel; so also צער, Tsor, the Greek and Latin interpreters have rendered it, Segor. Then Gaza has not derived its name from treasures, but it is a Hebrew word, signifying fortitude or strength.

Now Jeremiah says, that he prophesied against the Philistines before Pharaoh smote that city, but he did not demolish it. But we see that the Prophet threatens nothing to it from the Egyptians, but rather from the Chaldeans. Why then does he speak here of Pharaoh?

We must refer to history, and then we shall see what the design of the Holy Spirit was. When Pharaoh came to bring assistance to the Jews under Zedekiah, as we have already seen, he was soon compelled to return to Egypt, for the Chaldeans, having raised the siege, went against the Egyptians; for if they routed them, they knew that they could soon possess themselves of the whole of Judea. Haying then left the Jews for a time, they went against the Egyptians. Pharaoh, possessing no confidence in himself, as I have said, retreated; but he plundered Gaza in his way, because it was very hostile to the Jews; and he wished to shew that he did not come altogether in vain, though this afforded no relief to the Jews. But thus in things of nought earthly kings shew off themselves. Pharaoh then at that time plundered Gaza, but he did not retain it. At this time Jeremiah predicted greater calamities. And this ought to be carefully noticed, for there would be no reason why the Prophet spake of the Philistines, except, he had respect to something farther. Let us now then come to the second verse:

Jeremiah 47:2

2. Thus saith the LORD; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl.

2. Sic dicit Jehova, ecce aquae ascendunt ab aquilone, et erunt in torrentem exundantem, et exundabunt terram et plenitudinem ejus, urbem et habitatores ejus, et clamabunt homo (hoc est, singuli homines clamabunt,) et ululabit omnis incola terrae.


The Prophet, no doubt, wished to remind the Jews that it would only be a prelude when Gaza was plundered, and that a far more grievous punishment was impending over that ungodly nation, which had done so many wrongs to God’s people. For if Gaza had suffered only that loss, the Jews might have complained of their lot, as those ungodly men who had acted so wickedly and in so many ways provoked God’s vengeance, had lightly suffered. They might then have objected and said, “What can this mean? God has indeed lightly smitten Gaza; but we would thus willingly redeem our lives: as those who wish to avoid shipwreck cast forth their goods into the sea, and whatever precious thing they may have; so we, if life only be given us, are prepared to part with all our property.” The Jews then might have thus deplored their lot. Hence the Prophet says, that something more grievous awaited that city.

“When ye see Gaza plundered,” he says, “think not that this is the last judgment of God; for, behold, waters shall rise from the north, that is, the Chaldeans shall complete the work of executing God’s vengeance; the Egyptians shall only plunder the wealth of the city, which will be endurable; but at length the Chaldeans will come to exercise boundless cruelty, and they shall be like a flood, and shall overwhelm Gaza, so as utterly to destroy it.” We now, then, see what the Prophet meant: there is implied a comparison between the plunder effected by the Egyptians and the final ruin brought on it by the Chaldeans.

The rising or ascending of waters is evidently a metaphorical expression. He adds that they would be an overflowing torrent, that is, the waters would be like an inundating river; and they will inundate the land. He speaks of the land of the Philistines, where this city was. They will inundate, he says, the land and its fullness Fullness is taken in Hebrew for opulence or wealth; trees, corn, and animals are called the fullness of the land; for when the land brings forth no corn and no fruits, when it breeds no animals, it is deemed naked and empty. As then God clothes the land with such ornaments, the land is said to be full, when it abounds in those productions with which God enriches it. he afterwards speaks of men, the city, he says; he speaks not now of the city Gaza, but of the whole country; then the singular number is to be taken here for the plural. At length he says, Cry shall men, and howl shall all the inhabitants of the land The number as to the verbs is here changed, but there is no ambiguity in the meaning. And by these words the Prophet intimates, that a most grievous punishment would be inflicted on the Philistines, so that they would not only cry for sorrow, but even howl. It follows, —

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