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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 16

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verses 1-9


Some prefer to separate this chapter and the next from the one immediately preceding, and class them as a distinct prophecy. The general drift, however, is manifestly the same, and hence it seems better to throw them into the same group. But as we have here only a summary of what may have been originally many distinct discourses, it is proper to recognise a distinct individuality in the various portions.

In these chapters the fate of the people is set forth in, if possible, more impressive terms. Death is universal. The land is a desert. Life is no longer life. Even its simplest and most natural manifestations are suppressed.

Verse 2

2. Not take thee a wife Marriage was in the general obligatory, and this prohibition was clearly exceptional. So far, then, from favouring clerical celibacy the bearing of the passage is distinctly against it. With this prohibition should be compared 1 Corinthians 7:26, and Ezekiel 24:15-27. This command is enforced by the universal catastrophe which was before the people.

Verse 4

4. Grievous deaths Literally, deaths of sicknesses; suggesting the manifold forms which death takes in war and famine.

Verse 5

5. House of mourning Literally, outcry; which may be of joy, as the Vulgate actually translates in this place, or of wailing, which only harmonizes with the rest of the passage. Peace… lovingkindness (better, grace)… mercies There is here threatened just the opposite of the apostolic benediction. No more portentous threat could be uttered than the taking away of “grace, mercy, and peace.”

Verse 6

6. Nor cut themselves… make themselves bald Forms of mourning strictly forbidden in the law, (see Leviticus 19:28; Leviticus 21:5; Deuteronomy 14:1,) but, as it would seem, much practised. See Jeremiah 7:29; Jeremiah 41:5; Isaiah 22:12; Ezekiel 7:18, etc., etc.

Verse 7

7. Neither… tear themselves Better, as the margin translates, break bread, fitly joined here with the cup of consolation. The allusion is to a custom of going to the home of a bereaved family to comfort them and to urge them to take necessary sustenance. See 2 Samuel 3:35; 2 Samuel 12:16, etc.

Verse 8

8. Feasting Literally, drinking: showing that even in very ancient times drinking practices were prominent in such assemblies.

Verse 9

9. Cause to cease All glad and joyous notes shall have died out of the psalm of human life. Only the voices of misery and despair, wailing and lamentation, remain.

Verses 10-13


10-13. Wherefore hath, etc. God’s ways need to be explained. Even with the utmost care it is not always possible to prevent wrong interpretations. Hence, when the people, by their inquiries, made either in complaint or with desire to know the truth, shall open the way, the prophet is commanded to explain God’s dealings toward them. God’s real purpose in all things pertaining to this universe is a moral one. Take out this element from man’s history, and all would be a hopeless enigma.

Imagination Rather, stubbornness.

Land that ye know not Not geographical ignorance is meant, but lack of experience. They know it not, because they have not been there.

Verses 14-15

14, 15. From the land of the north A ray of light falls suddenly on the darkness, but only to make it more intense and awful. For the greatness of the deliverance measures the greatness of the calamity. A redemption which shall so rise up as to shut off from view even the birth deliverances of the nation implies an impending evil the memory of which would displace that of the Egyptian bondage.

Verse 16

SOME DETAILS OF THE EXILE, Jeremiah 16:16-21.

16. Fishers… hunters They shall be treated like hunted animals. Means adapted to their capture shall be employed. The “fishers” will gather into their nets all that can be so reached, and then the “hunters” will pursue the fugitives on the mountains, and in the caves and ravines.

Verse 18

18. And first Namely, before the return already mentioned.

Double Various interpretations have been given of this. 1) I will recompense double that is, two times in allusion to the Babylonian and Roman captivities. 2) I will recompense their former iniquities and the repetition of them. 3) Amply and fully. Compare Isaiah 40:2; Job 11:16; Jeremiah 17:18. This is the only satisfactory explanation.

Verse 19

19. Lord, my strength… fortress… refuge Mark the expressiveness of these epithets for a lone, weak, unprotected man. Out of the prophet’s own need comes a more vivid realization of God. In this concluding portion of the chapter we have Jeremiah’s prophetical prayer for the heathen, and God’s answer thereto. So vain and so corrupt is idolatry that even the heathen themselves shall repudiate their foul inheritance.

Verse 21

21. This once There is here most significant and portentous emphasis. The intimation is, that they were on the eve of such a signal display of God’s power as to compel, even from the heathen, the confession that his name is Jehovah.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/jeremiah-16.html. 1874-1909.
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