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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Jeremiah 14

Verse 1

The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth.

The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth - literally, "That which was the word of Yahweh to Jeremiah concerning,' etc.

Dearth - literally, the withholdings, namely, of rain (Deuteronomy 11:17; 2 Chronicles 7:13). The reason why this word should be used especially of the withholding of rain is, that rain is in those regions of all things the one chiefly needed, (Jeremiah 17:8, margin)

Verse 2

Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.

Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish - "the gates," the place of public concourse in each city looks sad, as being no longer frequented (Isaiah 3:26; Isaiah 24:4).

They are black, i:e., they mourn (blackness being indicative of sorrow) (Jeremiah 8:21).

Unto the ground bowing toward it Unto the ground - bowing toward it.

The cry - of distress (1 Samuel 5:12; Isaiah 24:11).

Verse 3

And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads.

Little ones - rather, 'their inferiors,' i:e., domestics.

They came to the pits - cisterns for collecting rain-water, often met with in the East, where there are no springs.

Covered their heads - (2 Samuel 15:30, "David, wept as he went up, and had his head covered"). A sign of humiliation and mourning.

Verse 4

Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 5

Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass.

Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass - the brute creation is reduced to the utmost extremity for the want of food. The hind, famed for her affection to her young, abandons them.

Verse 6

And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass.

The wild donkeys did stand in the high places - they repair to "the high places" most exposed to the winds, which they "snuff in" to relieve their thirst.

Eyes - which are usually most keen in detecting grass or water from the 'heights,' so much so that the traveler guesses from their presence that there must be herbage and water near; but now "their eyes fail."

Dragons - jackals (Henderson). Rather the reference is to the great boas and python serpents, which raise a large portion of their body up in a vertical column, 10 or 12 feet high, to survey the neighbourhood above the surrounding bushes, while with open jaws they drink in the air. These giant serpents originated the widely-spread notions which typified the deluge and all destructive agents under the form of a dragon or monster serpent; hence, the dragon temples, always near water, in Asia, Africa, and Britain-e.g., at Abury, in Wiltshire: a symbol of the ark is often associated with the dragon as the preserver from the waters (Kitto's 'Biblical Cyclopaedia')

Verse 7

O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.

Though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it - what we beg of thee; interpose to remove the drought. Jeremiah pleads in the name of his nation (Psalms 109:21). So "work for us," absolutely used (1 Samuel 14:6).

For thy name's sake - for our backslidings are so many' that we cannot urge thee for the sake of our doings, but for the glory of thy name; lest, if thou give us not aid, it should be said it was owing to thy want of power (Joshua 7:9; Psalms 79:9; Psalms 106:8; Isaiah 48:9; Ezekiel 20:44; Ezekiel 36:21-22). The same appeal to God's mercy, "for His name's sake," as our only hope, since our sin precludes trust in ourselves, occurs Psalms 25:11.

Verse 8

O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?

(Jeremiah 17:13) (Jeremiah 17:13).

Hope of Israel. The reference is, not to the faith of Israel, which had almost ceased but to the promise and everlasting covenant of God. None but the true Israel made God their "hope."

Why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night. The traveler cares little for the land he tarries but a night in; but thou hast promised to dwell always in the midst of thy people (2 Chronicles 33:7-8; Psalms 132:14). Maurer translates, 'spreadeth'-namely, his tent.

Verse 9

Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.

Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied - like a 'mighty man,' at other times able to help (Isaiah 59:1), but now stunned by a sudden calamity, so as to disappoint the hopes drawn from him.

Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us - (Exodus 29:45-46, "I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God;" Leviticus 26:11-12).

Called by thy name - (Daniel 9:18-19) as thine own special people (Deuteronomy 9:29).

Verse 10

Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.

Thus saith the Lord - Yahweh's reply to the prayer (Jeremiah 14:7-9; Jeremiah 2:23-25).

Thus - So greatly.

Loved - (Jeremiah 5:31, "My people love to have it so").

Not refrained their feet - they did not obey God's command, "Withhold thy foot" (Jeremiah 2:25) - namely, from following after idols.

He will now remember their iniquity - (Hosea 8:13; Hosea 9:9). Their sin is so great God must punish them.

Verse 11

Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.

Pray not for this people - (Jeremiah 7:16; Exodus 32:10).

Verse 12

When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.

I will not hear - because their prayers are hypocritical; their hearts are still idolatrous. God never refuses to hear real prayer. The cause of his refusing to hear now was, all their services were formal, and unaccompanied with true repentance of their sin (Jeremiah 7:21-22; Proverbs 1:28; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 58:3).

I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence - the three of the most severe judgments at once; any one of which would be enough for their ruin (2 Samuel 24:12-13).

Verse 13

Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.

Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, the prophets say unto them. Jeremiah urges that much of the guilt of the people is due to the false prophets' influence.

I will give you assured peace - solid and lasting peace-lit, peace of truth (Isaiah 39:8).

Verse 14

Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.

The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not - (Jeremiah 23:21).

Verse 15

Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.

They say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed - retribution in kind both to the false prophets and to their hearers (Jeremiah 14:16). (See Jeremiah 5:12-13).

Verse 16

And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.

None to bury - (Psalms 79:3).

I will pour their wickedness upon them - i:e., the punishment incurred by their wickedness (Jeremiah 2:19).

Verse 17

Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow.

Let mine eyes run down with tears - (Jeremiah 9:1; Lamentations 1:16). Jeremiah is desired to weep ceaselessly for the calamities coming on his nation-called a "virgin," as being heretofore never under foreign yoke (Isaiah 37:22).

Verse 18

If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not.

The prophet and the priest go about - i:e., shall have to migrate into a land of exile. Horsley translates, 'go trafficking about the land (see margin, Jeremiah 5:31; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Peter 2:3), and take no knowledge' - i:e., pay no regard to the miseries before their eye (Isaiah 1:3; Isaiah 58:3). If the literal sense of the Hebrew verb [caachar] be retained, I would, with the English version, understand the words as referring to the exile to Babylon; thus, 'the prophet and the priest shall have to go to a strange land to practice their religious traffic' (Isaiah 56:11; Ezekiel 34:2-3; Micah 3:11).

Verse 19

Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble!

Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? ... - The people plead with God, Jeremiah being forbidden to do so.

Why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing - (Jeremiah 15:18).

We looked for peace, and there is no good - (Jeremiah 7:15).

Verse 20

We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee.

We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness - (Daniel 9:8).

Verse 21

Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us. Us - not in the Hebrew: "the throne of thy glory" may be the object of "do not abhor" ('reject not'); or "Zion" (Jeremiah 14:19).

Do not disgrace the throne of thy glory - Jerusalem, or, the temple, called God's "habitation" (Psalms 132:5).

Break not thy covenant - (Psalms 106:45, "He remembered for them his covenant;" Daniel 9:19).

Verse 22

Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.

The vanities of the Gentiles - idols (Deuteronomy 32:21).

Rain - (Zechariah 10:1-2, "Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field").

Or can the heavens - namely, of themselves without God (Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:17); they are not the First Cause, and ought not to be deified, as they were by the pagan. The disjunctive "or [ wª'im (H518)] favours Calvin's explanation: 'Not even the heavens themselves can give rain, much less can the idol-vanities.'

Art not thou he - namely, who canst give rain?

Remarks:

(1) Our ordinary mercies, such as the supply of water, are less appreciated owing to their very commonness. Let us seek to be thankful for them to the Gracious Giver, that we may not have to learn to estimate aright His gifts by His withdrawing them from us.

(2) "Nobles" and "plowmen" alike (Jeremiah 14:3-4) are brought to confusion when God withholds the necessaries of life: want and suffering force men to a sense of their dependence on Him. But the cry of nature in its distress is not to be confounded with the prayer of true penitence and faith.

(3) The believer dreads more God's departure from him than the loss of all creature-comforts, or even necessaries (Jeremiah 14:8-9). In deprecating God's wrath, and praying for the removal of judgments, the sincere penitent urges as his sole plea the glory of God's name, as involved in His giving an answer to prayer. The believer acknowledges that "his own and his nation's iniquities testify against him and them;" but he rests his hope on the character of Yahweh as a merciful and prayer-hearing God (Jeremiah 14:7). Especially His character in His covenant-relation to His people affords a powerful plea in prayer, "O the hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of trouble" (Jeremiah 14:8); "Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not" (Jeremiah 14:9). We cannot plead our own doings, or the merit of our faith and love, but we plead the glory of thy name, by which we are "called," and which would be compromised if it should appear that thou art as a "mighty man," ordinarily to help, but new stunued by the greatness of the calamity, and unable to save (Jeremiah 14:9). Therefore not merely visit us as a traveler sojourning "for a night," but according to thy unchangeable promise dwell with us forever (Jeremiah 14:8).

(4) Had the Jews thus prayed for themselves, as Jeremiah prayed for them, doubtless God would have immediately given an answer of peace. But they still "loved to wander," and had not the least inclination yet to "refrain their feet" from wandering from Him; therefore He could not accept them without compromising His own holiness, and seeming to connive at sin, willful and unrepented of. Again, therefore, as before (Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 11:14), He forbids Jeremiah to inter- cede anymore for them (Jeremiah 14:11). Let hardened sinners remember that no prayers of others for them will avail if they will not pray for themselves. Not until the spirit of grace and supplication is poured upon the Jews (Zechariah 12:10) will they "look on Him whom they have pierced, and mourn for Him," and then "the Lord shall go forth in their behalf (Zechariah 12:2-8; Zechariah 14:3-4).

(5) How much they have to answer for, who, in the name of God, promise men "assured peace," with-out repentance, faith, love, and obedience! They shall be punished first and most severely. But neither shall their dupes escape; because they guiltily wished to believe a lie, having lost the love of the truth: therefore false teachers were permitted, in God's judicial displeasure, to deceive them. (Compare 1 Kings 22:6; 1 Kings 22:19-24). God in righteous retribution makes their sin their punishment; "I will pour," saith He, "their wickedness upon them" (Jeremiah 14:16).

(6) The pious patriot cannot but feel acutely for his country in her calamity, though incurred by her own sin. Though our intercessions in behalf of those whom we love may not be heard in the form in which we put them, they are not, nevertheless, unheard: they bring a blessing on ourselves. We shall escape incurring participation in the guilt and punishment of others near and dear to us. Ultimately, too, the intercessions of believing Israelites shall be among the appointed means moving God to pour on the nation the spirit of true repentance: they shall then acknowledge their own sin against God, and that of their fathers. Abhorring themselves, they shall beseech God, for His holy covenant's sake, "not" to "abhor" them (Jeremiah 14:20-21); and renouncing all past earthly stays and idols, they shall "wait" only "upon God," the Almighty Maker of all things (Jeremiah 14:22).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/jeremiah-14.html. 1871-8.