INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 14
This chapter contains prophecy of a drought, which produced a famine, Jeremiah 14:1, and is described by the dismal effects of it; and general distress in the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem, Jeremiah 14:2, even the nobles were affected with it, whose servants returned without water ashamed, when sent for it, Jeremiah 14:3, the ploughmen could not use their plough, their ground was so hard, Jeremiah 14:4 and the very beasts of the field suffered much, because there was no grass, Jeremiah 14:5, upon this follows a prayer of the prophet to the Lord, that he would give rain for his name's sake; he confesses the sins of the people, that they were many, and against the Lord; and testified against them, that they deserved to be used as they were; and he addresses the Lord as the hope and Saviour of his people in time past, when it was a time of trouble with them; and expostulates with him, why he should be as a stranger and traveller, and like a mighty man astonished, that either had no regard to their land any more than a foreigner and a traveller; or no heart to help them, or exert his power, than a man at his wits' end, though he was among them, and they were called by his name; and therefore he begs he would not leave them, Jeremiah 14:7, but he is told that it was for the sins of the people that all this was, which the Lord was determined to remember and visit; and therefore he is bid not to pray for them; if he did, it would not be regarded, nor the people's fasting and prayers also; for they should be consumed by the sword, famine, and pestilence, Jeremiah 14:10, and though the prophet pleads, in excuse of the people, that the false prophets had deceived them; yet not only the vanity and falsehood of their prophecies are exposed, and they are threatened with destruction, but the people also, for hearkening unto them, Jeremiah 14:13, wherefore the prophet, instead of putting up a prayer for them, has a lamentation dictated to him by the Lord, which he is ordered to express, Jeremiah 14:17, and yet, notwithstanding this, he goes on to pray for them in a very pathetic manner; he expostulates with God, and pleads for help and healing; confesses the iniquities of the people; entreats the Lord, for the sake of his name, glory, and covenant, that he would not reject them and his petition; and observes, that the thing asked for (rain) was what none of the gods of the Heathens could give, or even the heavens themselves, only the Lord; and therefore determines to wait upon him for it, who made the heavens, the earth, and rain, Jeremiah 14:19.
The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth. Or, "concerning the words of straints"
Judah mourneth,.... That is, the inhabitants of Judah; those of the house of Judah, as the Targum; these mourned because of the drought and famine that were upon the land:
and the gates thereof languish; the cities of Judah, as the Targum; the inhabitants of them, which used to be supplied from the field, and out of the country; gates may be mentioned, because through the gates the provisions were brought into the city; but now none; and therefore are said to languish; or else those that sat in the gates are meant, the elders of the people, the senators, the judges, and civil magistrates; these shared in the common calamity:
they are black unto the ground; that is, the inhabitants of the cities, and those that sit in the gates, their faces are black through famine; see Lamentations 4:8, so the Targum,
"their faces are covered with blackness, they are black as a pot;'
and which they turned to the ground, and looked downwards, not being able to lift them up through the sorrow and distress they were in, and through faintness of spirit for want of food:
and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up: meaning the cry and lamentation of the inhabitants of Jerusalem because of the famine, for that city was not exempted from it, it having its supply from the country; or the prayer of them, and of the people from all parts got together there, which went up to heaven for rain: it being usual, in times of common distress, for the people in the country to come up to Jerusalem to the temple to pray to God, and particularly for rain, when there was a want of it.
And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters,.... To places where water used to be; to the pools, the upper and the lower, particularly to the fountain of Shiloah, which, Jerom says, was the only one the city of Jerusalem used. The meaning either is, that the nobles in Jerusalem sent their own children to get water for them, they having no servants to attend them, these being put away because they could not support them, the famine being so sore; or rather that they sent their menial servants, their subjects, as the Targum renders it, to fetch them a little water to refresh themselves with:
they came to the pits and found no water; their servants came according to order to the pools and cisterns, or to the deep wells, and to such places where there used to be a great confluence of water, and plenty of it, but now they could find none:
they returned with their vessels empty; just as they came:
they were ashamed and confounded; either the servants that were sent, or rather their masters that sent them, when they saw them come with their empty vessels; having been looking out and longing for their return, expecting they would have brought water with them for their refreshment; but to their great disappointment and confusion brought none:
and covered their heads; as persons ashamed, or as mourners used to do, being full of anguish and distress because of the drought.
Because the ground is chapt,.... Through the violent heat of the sun, and want of rain; or, is broken
"because of sins, the inhabitants of the earth are broken:'
for there was no rain in the earth; this was the reason of the dearth, and of the famine, and why there was no water in the pits, and the ground was parched. It is to be understood of the land of Judea only, not of the whole earth:
the ploughmen were ashamed; because they could not work the earth with their plough; were obliged to sit still, could do no work, or go on with their husbandry; nothing could be done for want of rain: they covered their heads; as before; See Gill on Jeremiah 14:3.
Yea, the hind also calved in the field,.... Or brought forth her young in the field; of which see Job 39:1, and which they sometimes did through fear, particularly when frightened with thunder and lightning; and which are common in a time of heat and drought, which is the case here; see Psalm 29:9 of these sort of creatures there were great plenty in Judea and the parts adjacent. Aelianus
and forsook it; which, as it is a loving creature to its mate, so very careful of its young, and provident for it, and nourishes it, as Pliny
because there was no grass; for the hind to feed upon, and so had no milk to suckle its young with; and therefore left it to seek for grass elsewhere, that it might have food for itself, and milk for its young.
And the wild asses did stand in the high places,.... To see where any grass was to be had, or where the wind blows more freely and cooly, to draw it in; as follows. The Targum renders it, "by the brooks"; and so Jarchi interprets it brooks of water; whither they came as usual to drink, and found them now dried up; and where they stood distressed and languishing, not knowing where to go for any:
they snuffed up the wind like dragons: which, being of a hot nature, open their mouths, and draw in the wind and air to cool them. Aelianus
their eyes did fail; in looking about for grass; or for want of food, being quite starved and famished:
because there was no grass; for their food and nourishment. With great propriety is the herb or grass mentioned, this being the proper food of asses, as Aristotle
O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us,.... That we deserve such judgments to be inflicted on us; and that God is righteous in bringing them; and we are altogether undeserving of the favour now about to be asked. These are the words of the prophet interceding for his people, and confessing their sins and his own:
do thou it for thy name's sake; that is, give rain; which was the thing wanted, and which none but God could give, Jeremiah 14:22 though we are not worthy to have it done for our sakes, do it for thine own sake; for the honour and glory of thy name, of thy goodness, power, and faithfulness:
for our backslidings are many; and so had many witnesses against them; and which shows how unworthy they were, and that they had no reason to expect the mercy on their own account; and especially as it follows:
we have sinned against thee; as all sin is against God, contrary to his nature and will, and a transgression of his law; and what aggravates it is, that it is against him as a God of goodness, grace, and mercy.
O the hope of Israel,.... The author, object, ground, and foundation of hope of all good things, both here and hereafter; in whom Israel had been used to hope in times past, and had great encouragement so to do, Psalm 130:7 or, "the expectation of Israel"
the Saviour thereof in time of trouble; the Saviour of all men in a way of providence, but especially of the true Israel of God, of them that believe; who, though they have their times of trouble and affliction, by reason of sin, Satan, and wicked men, and other things, yet the Lord saves and delivers them out of them all in due time:
why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land; or, a "sojourner"
of the hope of Israel, and the Saviour, well agree with him, 1 Timothy 1:1.
and as a wayfaring man; or "traveller"
that turnest aside to tarry for a night? that turns into an inn to lodge there for a night, and that only; and so is unconcerned what becomes of it, or the people in it; he is only there for a night, and is gone in the morning. Thus the prophet represents the Lord by these metaphors, as if he was, or at least seemed, careless of his people; and therefore expostulates with him upon it, as the disciples with our Lord, Mark 4:38.
Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied,.... Astonished, and so surprised as not to know what to say or do; or "asleep", as the Septuagint; taking no notice of us, and being altogether unconcerned what becomes of us; or, as one "dumb"
as a mighty man that cannot save? who, though he is able to save, yet, through want of a heart or will, does not exert his power:
yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us; having his residence and dwelling in the temple at Jerusalem; and therefore was not a stranger and foreigner among them; and this carries in it an entreaty and an argument that he would not in his providence conduct towards them in such manner as though he was:
and we are called by thy name; the people of God, the Israel of God, and the like:
leave us not; in our distress and trouble, but deliver us out of it.
Thus saith the Lord unto this people,.... Instead of answering the prophet directly and immediately, he first speaks to the people, and observes their sin is the cause of his conduct; and whom he does not vouchsafe to call his people; they having broken covenant with him, and so notoriously backslidden from him; but this people, this wicked and worthless people:
thus have they loved to wander; from the Lord, and out of the way of their duty, to Egypt and Assyria for help, and after strange gods, and the worship of them; and this they chose and delighted in; it arose from corrupt affections and a depraved heart:
they have not refrained their feet; from going into other lands, or into the temples of idols; wherefore, it ought not to be wondered at that the Lord was as a stranger in their land, and as a wayfaring man that tarried for a night; and hence it was that they should have enough of wandering to and fro, since they loved it; in seeking for water in their own land, and by their being carried captive into others; so the Targum,
"as they loved, so will I take vengeance on them, to cause them to be carried captive from the land of the house of my majesty; and as they have delighted themselves in the worship of idols, and from the house of my sanctuary have not refrained their feet, therefore before the Lord there is no delight in them:'
therefore the Lord doth not accept them; has no favour for them, no pleasure in them; does not accept either their persons or their services:
he will now remember their iniquity; their idolatry; their trust in others, and distrust of him; which might seem to be forgotten because he had taken no notice of them, in a providential way, to correct for them; but now he would let them know that they were had in remembrance, by causing his judgments to come upon them for them: this stands opposed to the forgiveness of sin; when God forgives sin he remembers it no more; but when he does not, but punishes for it, then he is said to remember it: and visit their; sins; or them for their sins; that is, punish them.
Then said the Lord unto me,.... To the prophet; now the Lord gives a more direct answer to him, and to his prayers and intercession for the people; which he forbids, saying,
pray not for this people for their good; or "for good things", as the Septuagint; for rain, that the famine might cease; and for deliverance from their enemies, that they might not go into captivity; for these things were determined upon by the Lord: he does not forbid him praying at all for them, or for their repentance and reformation; or for spiritual good things for them, for eternal life and salvation for the remnant of his own people among them; but not for external good things for the bulk of them.
When they fast, I will not hear their cry,.... Or, "though they fast"
and when they offer burnt offerings and an oblation; or a meat or bread offering, which went along with the burnt offering; thinking by those outward things to atone for their sins, without true repentance for them, or faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ:
I will not accept them; neither their offerings, nor their persons:
but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; the Lord not only determines the continuance of the famine, notwithstanding the prayers of the prophet; but adds two other judgments, the sword and pestilence, by which he was resolved to consume them; and therefore it was to no purpose to pray to him on their behalf, he was inexorable.
Then said I, Ah, Lord God!.... Being grieved at heart for the people, because he was forbid to pray for them, and because the Lord had resolved on the ruin of them; and the rather he pitied them, because they were deceived by the false prophets, and therefore he tries to excuse them, and lay the blame upon them, as follows:
behold, the prophets say unto them; that is, the false prophets, as the Targum; Jeremiah does not call them so, being willing to make the best of it:
ye shall not see the sword; the sword of the enemy drawn in your country, or fall by it:
neither shall ye have famine; by which it appears, that it was not yet come, only foretold; the contrary to which is here affirmed:
but I will give you assured peace in this place; so they spoke as from the Lord, and in his name, with all the confidence imaginable; assuring the people that they should have peace and prosperity, and be in the utmost safety in Jerusalem; and that neither famine nor sword would come to them, nor in the least hurt them. In the Hebrew text it is, "peace of truth"
Then said the Lord unto me,.... In reply to the above excuse, in favour of the people:
the prophets prophesy lies in my name; it is a wicked thing to tell lies; it is more so to foretell them, and that in the name of the Lord; pretending they have his authority, and are under the influence and guidance of his Spirit; and it was sinful in the people to give credit to them, and the more so in that they were forewarned of these prophets and their lies, and had the reverse told them by a true prophet of the Lord, and therefore were inexcusable.
I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them; all which are requisite to a prophet, or to a man's prophesying in the name of the Lord; he ought to have his mission from him, and his commission from him; his orders and credentials from him, and the things themselves which he delivers; neither of which those prophets had; nor were they able to make out those things to the people, of which they should have had satisfaction before they believed them, and therefore were highly to blame in giving heed unto them.
They prophecy unto you a false vision; or, "a vision of falsehood"
and divination; soothsaying or astrology, as some interpret it, as Kimchi observes; foretelling things by the stars:
and a thing of nought; which is good for nothing, and comes to nothing:
and the deceit of their hearts; which flows from their deceitful hearts and vain imaginations, and by no means to be depended upon.
Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets,.... The false prophets, as the following description shows:
that prophecy in my name, and I sent them not; made use of his name, pretending his authority, though they were not sent by him:
yet they say, sword and famine shall not be in the land; though the Lord by his true prophet had said there should be both; which proves that they were not sent by the Lord, since what they said was in direct opposition to the word of the Lord; wherefore their doom in righteous judgment follows:
by sword and famine shall these prophets be consumed; they should be some of the first, if not the first that should perish by these calamities; which would abundantly prove the falsehood of their predictions, and show that their lies could neither secure themselves nor others from the judgments which the Lord had said should come upon them.
And the people to whom they prophesy,.... That is, such of them as gave credit to their prophecies:
shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, because of the famine and the sword; they dying of the famine and of the sword, their carcasses should be cast out of their houses into the open streets, and there lie unburied, as a punishment for disbelieving the words of the Lord, and giving heed to the lies of the false prophets:
and they shall have none to bury them; either through want of ability of body or substance, or through want of affection; or rather through want of persons to do it for them, all their relations being cut off with them, as follows:
them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters; or rather, "they"
for I will pour their wickedness upon them; or, "their evil upon them"
Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them,.... Instead of praying for the people, the prophet has a doleful lamentation put into his mouth, to pronounce in their hearing, in order to assure them of the calamities that were coming upon them, and to affect them with them.
Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: or "be silent"
"bring down upon your eyes tears night and day, and let them not cease;'
and the Arabic version,
"pour out of your eyes tears night and day continually;'
and the Syriac version is,
"let our eyes drop tears night and day incessantly.'
For the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow; cities are sometimes called virgins, which were never taken; and so Jerusalem here, it having never been taken since it was in the hands of the people of Judah; nor were its inhabitants as yet carried captive, but now would be; which, together with the famine and the sword, by which many should perish, is the great breach and grievous blow spoken of; and which is given as a reason, and was a sufficient one, for sorrow and mourning.
If I go forth into the field,.... Without the city, where was the camp of the enemy besieging it
then behold the slain with the sword! the sword of the enemy; who by sallying out of the city upon them, or by endeavouring to make their escape into the country, fell into their hands, and were slain by them.
And if I enter into the city; the city of Jerusalem:
then behold them that are sick with the famine! just ready to die, being starved for want of provisions; and multitudes dead, and their carcasses lying in the streets unburied; the prophet does not make mention of the dead indeed, only of the sick with famine; the reason of which, Kimchi says, is because the sick were more than the dead.
Yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they knew not; into the land of Chaldea, a strange and foreign country, whither they were carried captive, both in the times of Jehoiakim and of Zedekiah, and whither they might go in ways far about: and this seems to be understood of false prophets and wicked priests, that had led the people about, and had caused them to wander from the ways of God and his worship; and therefore, in righteous retaliation, they are led in round about ways to a land unknown to them: though some think that the true prophets and priests of the Lord may be meant, as Ezekiel and Daniel, who were carried captive into Babylon: others interpret them of such going about in the land of Judea seeking for bread and water, or food in the time of the famine;
but they know not
and they know not; the people are not aware of their deception and falsehood. The Targum is,
"for even the scribe and the priest are turned to their own negotiations or merchandises, to that which is in the land, neither do they inquire;'
they minded their own affairs, and inquired not for, nor sought after, the people's good.
Hast thou utterly rejected Judah?.... The prophet, though forbid, proceeds to prayers and expostulations on account of this people, the people of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin: or, "in rejecting hast thou rejected Judah?"
Hath thy soul loathed Zion? whom thou hast formerly so much loved and delighted in, and chosen for thine habitation; Zion, the joy of the whole earth, and a perfection of beauty.
Why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? brought upon them his judgments; or, however, was about to bring them upon them, famine, sword, and captivity; and there was no deliverance from them, no way to escape them, no relief, no remedy, or no healing, as in 2 Chronicles 36:16.
We looked for peace: as the false prophets foretold; or through alliance with neighbouring nations, even all safety and prosperity; and had no notion of desolation and war:
and there is no good; as was promised and expected, but all the reverse:
and for the time of healing; national and civil disorders, from which might have been hoped for a train of blessings:
and behold trouble! fears, frights, perplexities, and distresses; trouble from without, and from within. The Targum is,
"a time of pardon of sins, and behold punishment of sins.'
We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers,.... This is said by the prophet, in the name of the few faithful that were among this people, who were sensible of their own sins, the sins of their ancestors, and which they ingenuously confess; their fathers had sinned, and they had imitated them, and continued in the same, and therefore might justly expect the displeasure of the Lord, and his controversy with them:
for we have sinned against thee; Jeremiah 14:7.
Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake,.... Which was called upon them, and which they called upon; they deserved to be abhorred, they had done those things which might justly render them abominable, being what was abhorrent to him; and they deprecate this, not, for their own sake, who were unworthy of any favour, but for his own sake, for the sake of his honour and glory, which, as it is dear to the Lord, so to his people.
Do not disgrace the throne of thy glory; either Jerusalem, as Kimchi, which was the city of the great King, where he had his throne and palace, and which is called the throne of the Lord, Jeremiah 3:17 or the house of the sanctuary, the temple, as Jarchi; see Jeremiah 17:12, respect seems to be had to the mercy seat upon the ark, over which were the cherubim of glory, between which the Lord dwelt; and they pray, that though they were worthy of disgrace themselves, and to be taken and carried captive into a strange land, yet they entreat that the Lord would not disgrace his own glorious habitation, by suffering the city and the temple, and the ark in it, to be destroyed:
remember; thy people, Zion, as before; or the promises made to them, the covenant, as follows:
break not thy covenant with us: God never breaks his covenant, though man does; it may sometimes seem to be broken, when his church and people are in distress and affliction; but he will never break the covenant he has made, or suffer his faithfulness to fail; yet, though he does not, it is proper and necessary oftentimes to pray in this manner to God, for the encouragement of faith in him, and expectation of good things from him.
Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain?.... The blessing wanted; none of the idols of the Gentiles, called vanities, because it was a vain thing to apply to them, or hope for anything from them, none of these could give a shower of rain; though the name of one of their idols was Jupiter Imbrius
Or can the heavens give showers? from whence they descend, and which are the second causes of rain; even these could not of themselves, and much less Heathen deities.
Art not thou he, O Lord our God? the everlasting and unchangeable He, or I AM, our covenant God and Father, thou, and thou only, canst give rain; this is the peculiar of the great God himself; see Acts 14:17.
Therefore we will wait upon thee; for rain, by prayer and supplication, and hope for it, and wait the Lord's own time to give it:
for thou hast made all these things; the rain and its showers, who have no other father than the Lord, Job 38:28, also the heavens from whence it descends, and the earth on which it falls, are made by him, who restrains and gives it at pleasure.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter