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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?

This verse, and those which follow, are explained in different ways; but I will briefly shew the meaning of the Prophet. I have no doubt but that he speaks here in the name of the whole people. The Prophet, then, in these words, represents what occupied their minds, and the counsels which the Jews adopted: and further, there is no doubt but that he shews in these words that they, as hypocrites are wont to do, had recourse to expedients, by which they thought they could protect themselves from God’s wrath. For they who think that the Prophet spoke his own sentiments are greatly mistaken: on the contrary, he relates here the purposes which the Jews formed; and at the same time he reproves their hardness in turning here and there, and in thinking that they could turn aside the judgment of God; for hypocrites, unless constrained, never ascend to the first cause; that is, they never acknowledge nor regard the hand of him who strikes them, as it is said in another place. (Isaiah 9:13.) They indeed feel their evils, and seek to apply remedies; but they stop at the nearest reliefs, without seeking to pacify God and to return into favor with him; and when the smallest hope is given them, they think themselves to be safe, if they betake themselves to this or that hiding-place.

This feeling is what the Prophet describes: Why do we sit? or, “Why do we rest?” But the word here means to sit still: Why do we then sit still? as though they had accused themselves of sloth or idleness: “What means this our slothfulness? we sit still in the villages, which are exposed to the violence of enemies: gather then yourselves, and let us enter into fortified cities; we shall rest there.” They thought that they should be safe, if they entered into fortified cities. Then, on the other hand, Jeremiah shews how foolishly they trusted to such refuges. Surely, he says, our God hath made us silent He had said before ונדמה-שם, vanudame-shem, “and we shall there rest.” The verb, means to rest, and to be silent. He repeats the same word, “Surely, our God hath made us to be silent;” but in a different sense. There is then a striking allusion in the verb דמה, dame, or the sameness of sound. “Jehovah hath made us to be silent, “or to rest; or, he hath cut us off, for in Hiphil, it has this meaning. 228228     The verb דמהmeans, to be silent, to be reduced to silence; and the silence is that of inactivity, or of weakness, or of death. The silence of inactivity seems to be the meaning in the first instance, and the silence of weakness in the second: “Let us be silent,“ or, let us rest; “God hath made us silent,“ or, made us feeble, or, reduced to nothing our strength: —
   14. Why do we sit still? be ye assembled, And let us go into fortified cities, And let us be silent there; For Jehovah our God has reduced us to silence; And he has given us to drink the water of hemlock, Because we have sinned against Jehovah.

   That ראשis “hemlock,“ or some poisonous herb, is evident from Hosea 10:4. “The water” seems to be the juice in this instance — “the juice of hemlock.” It is rendered “the water of gall, ὕδωρ χολὢς,” by the Septuagint, and the same by the Vulgate; “bitter waters,“ by the Syriac; “water of bitterness,“ by the Arabic; “the cup of malediction,“ by the Targum. “Water of hemlock” is the rendering of Blayney.

   Horsley renders the third and the fourth line as follows: —

   And let us there sit in despair, Since the Lord our God hath brought us to despair.

    — Ed.

We hence see, that on the one hand is declared what might have given some comfort to the Jews, for there were fortified cities which might have protected them from the assaults of enemies; but, on the other hand, the Prophet shews that they were greatly mistaken, for God would make them to rest in a different manner, as he would reduce them to nothing; for the dead are said to rest, or to be silent. In short, he means a quiet state when speaking in the name of the people; but he refers to destruction when speaking by God’s command.

He afterwards confirms the same thing in a metaphorical language, God will give them the waters of gall, or, poisoned waters: and he adds, Because they have acted impiously against Jehovah We may learn from this last part, that the Prophet is now performing the duty of his office. The people indeed never willingly allowed that they were suffering punishment justly due to their sins; but the Prophet here reproves them for hoping to be safe by fleeing to fortified cities, as though God could not follow them there. He then says that God’s vengeance would closely pursue them, and that wherever they fled, they would still be exposed to evils, for they carried with them their impieties, which would draw upon them the wrath of God. It follows —

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