Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, May 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 4

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole BibleCommentary Critical




Verse 1

1. return . . . return—play on words. "If thou wouldest return to thy land (thou must first), return (by conversion and repentance) to Me."

not remove—no longer be an unsettled wanderer in a strange land. So Cain (Genesis 4:12; Genesis 4:14).

Verse 2

2. And thou—rather, "And if (carried on from Jeremiah 4:1) thou shalt swear, 'Jehovah liveth,' in truth, c.", that is, if thou shalt worship Him (for we swear by the God whom we worship compare Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20; Isaiah 19:18; Amos 8:14) in sincerity, c.

and the nations—Rather, this is apodosis to the "if" then shall the nations bless themselves in (by) Him" (Amos 8:14- :). The conversion of the nations will be the consequence of Israel's conversion (Psalms 102:13; Psalms 102:15; Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15).

Verse 3

3. Transition to Judah. Supply mentally. All which (the foregoing declaration as to Israel) applies to Judah.

and Jerusalem—that is, and especially the men of Jerusalem, as being the most prominent in Judea.

Break . . . fallow ground—that is, Repent of your idolatry, and so be prepared to serve the Lord in truth (Hosea 10:12; Matthew 13:7). The unhumbled heart is like ground which may be improved, being let out to us for that purpose, but which is as yet fallow, overgrown with weeds, its natural product.

Verse 4

4. Remove your natural corruption of heart (Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11).

Verse 5

5. cry, gather together—rather, "cry fully" that is, loudly. The Jews are warned to take measures against the impending Chaldean invasion (compare :-).

Verse 6

6. Zion—The standard toward Zion intimated that the people of the surrounding country were to fly to it, as being the strongest of their fortresses.

Verse 7

7. lion—Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans (Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 5:6; Daniel 7:14).

his thicket—lair; Babylon.

destroyer of the Gentiles—rather, "the nations" (Daniel 7:14- :).

Verse 8

8. Nothing is left to the Jews but to bewail their desperate condition.

anger . . . not turned back— (Isaiah 9:12; Isaiah 9:17; Isaiah 9:21).

Verse 9

9. heart—The wisdom of the most leading men will be utterly at a loss to devise means of relief.

Verse 10

10. thou hast . . . deceived—God, having even the false prophets in His hands, is here said to do that which for inscrutable purposes He permits them to do (Exodus 9:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:11; compare 2 Thessalonians 2:11- :; which passage shows that the dupes of error were self-prepared for it, and that God's predestination did not destroy their moral freedom as voluntary agents). The false prophets foretold "peace," and the Jews believed them; God overruled this to His purposes (Jeremiah 5:12; Jeremiah 14:13; Ezekiel 14:9).

soul—rather, "reacheth to the life."

Verse 11

11. dry wind—the simoom, terrific and destructive, blowing from the southeast across the sandy deserts east of Palestine. Image of the invading Babylonian army ( :-). Babylon in its turn shall be visited by a similar "destroying wind" ( :-).

of . . . high places—that is, that sweeps over the high places.

daughter—that is, the children of my people.

not to fan—a very different wind from those ordinary winds employed for fanning the grain in the open air.

Verse 12

12. full . . . from those places—rather, "a wind fuller (that is, more impetuous) than those winds" (which fan the corn) (Jeremiah 4:11) [ROSENMULLER].

unto me—"for Me," as My instrument for executing My purpose.

sentencejudgments against them (Jeremiah 1:16).

Verse 13

13. clouds—continuing the metaphor in Jeremiah 4:11. Clouds of sand and dust accompany the simoom, and after rapid gyrations ascend like a pillar.

eagles— (Deuteronomy 28:49; Habakkuk 1:8).

Woe unto us—The people are graphically presented before us, without it being formally so stated, bursting out in these exclamations.

Verse 14

14. Only one means of deliverance is left to the Jews—a thorough repentance.

vain thoughts—namely, projects for deliverance, such as enlisting the Egyptians on their side. GESENIUS translates, "How long wilt thou harbor vain thoughts?"

Verse 15

15. For . . . from Dan—The connection is: There is danger in delay; for the voice of a messenger announces the approach of the Chaldean enemy from Dan, the northern frontier of Palestine ( :-; compare Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 1:14).

Mount Ephraim—which borders closely on Judah; so that the foe is coming nearer and nearer. Dan and Beth-el in Ephraim were the two places where Jeroboam set up the idolatrous calves (Jeremiah 1:14- :); just retribution.

Verse 16

16. The neighboring foreign "nations" are summoned to witness Jehovah's judgments on His rebel people (Jeremiah 6:18; Jeremiah 6:19).

watchers—that is, besiegers (compare 2 Samuel 11:16); observed or watched, that is, besieged.

their voice—the war shout.

Verse 17

17. keepers of a field—metaphor from those who watch a field, to frighten away the wild beasts.

Verse 18

18. (Jeremiah 2:17; Jeremiah 2:19; Psalms 107:17).

this is thy wickedness—that is, the fruit of thy wickedness.

Verse 19

19. The prophet suddenly assumes the language of the Jewish state personified, lamenting its affliction (Jeremiah 10:19; Jeremiah 10:20; Jeremiah 9:1; Jeremiah 9:10; Isaiah 15:5; compare Isaiah 15:5- :).

at my very heartHebrew, "at the walls of my heart"; the muscles round the heart. There is a climax, the "bowels," the pericardium, the "heart" itself.

maketh . . . noise—moaneth [HENDERSON].

alarm—the battle shout.

Verse 20

20. Destruction . . . cried—Breach upon breach is announced (Psalms 42:7; Ezekiel 7:26). The war "trumpet" . . . the battle shout . . . the "destructions" . . . the havoc throughout "the whole land" . . . the spoiling of the shepherds' "tents" (Ezekiel 7:26- :; or, "tents" means cities, which should be overthrown as easily as tents [CALVIN]), form a gradation.

Verse 21

21. Judah in perplexity asks, How long is this state of things to continue?

Verse 22

22. Jehovah's reply; they cannot be otherwise than miserable, since they persevere in sin. The repetition of clauses gives greater force to the sentiment.

wise . . . evil . . . to do good . . . no knowledge—reversing the rule ( :-) "wise unto . . . good, simple concerning evil."

Verse 23

23. Graphic picture of the utter desolation about to visit Palestine. "I beheld, and lo!" four times solemnly repeated, heightens the awful effect of the scene (compare Isaiah 24:19; Isaiah 34:11).

without form and void—reduced to the primeval chaos (Genesis 1:2).

Verse 24

24. mountains— ( :-).

moved lightly—shook vehemently.

Verse 25

25. no man . . . birds—No vestige of the human, or of the feathered creation, is to be seen (Ezekiel 38:20; Zephaniah 1:3).

Verse 26

26. fruitful placeHebrew, Carmel.

a wildernessHebrew, "the wilderness," in contrast to "the fruitful place"; the great desert, where Carmel was, there is now the desert of Arabia [MAURER].

cities—in contrast to the fruitful place or field.

Verse 27

27. full end—utter destruction: I will leave some hope of restoration (Jeremiah 5:10; Jeremiah 5:18; Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 46:28; compare Jeremiah 46:28- :).

Verse 28

28. For this—on account of the desolations just described (Isaiah 5:30; Hosea 4:3).

not repent— (Hosea 4:3- :).

Verse 29

29. whole city—Jerusalem: to it the inhabitants of the country had fled for refuge; but when it, too, is likely to fall, they flee out of it to hide in the "thickets." HENDERSON translates, "every city."

noise—The mere noise of the hostile horsemen shall put you to flight.

Verse 30

30. when thou art spoiled—rather, "thou, O destroyed one" [MAURER].

rentest . . . face with painting—Oriental women paint their eyes with stibium, or antimony, to make them look full and sparkling, the black margin causing the white of the eyes to appear the brighter by contrast ( :-). He uses the term "distendest" in derision of their effort to make their eyes look large [MAURER]; or else, "rentest," that is, dost lacerate by puncturing the eyelid in order to make the antimony adhere [ROSENMULLER]. So the Jews use every artifice to secure the aid of Egypt against Babylon.

face—rather, thy eyes (Ezekiel 23:40).

Verse 31

31. anguish—namely, occasioned by the attack of the enemy.

daughter of Zion—There is peculiar beauty in suppressing the name of the person in trouble, until that trouble had been fully described [HENDERSON].

bewaileth herself—rather, "draweth her breath short" [HORSLEY]; "panteth."

spreadeth . . . hands— (Lamentations 1:17).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfb/jeremiah-4.html. 1871-8.
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