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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Jeremiah 16

 

 

Verse 1

The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 2

Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place.

Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons nor daughters in this place - in Judea. The direction to remain single was (whether literally obeyed or only in prophetic vision) to symbolize the coming calamities of the Jews, as so severe that the single state would be then (contrary to the ordinary course of things) preferable to the married (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:8; 1 Corinthians 7:26; 1 Corinthians 7:29; Matthew 24:19; Luke 23:29). (So Ezekiel was forbidden to mourn for his wife suddenly removed, Ezekiel 24:15-27).


Verse 3

For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land;

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 4

They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.

They shall die of grievous deaths - rather, deadly diseases (Jeremiah 15:2).

They shall not be lamented - so many shall be the slain (Jeremiah 22:18).

Dung - (Psalms 83:10).


Verse 5

For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, even lovingkindness and mercies.

Enter not ... neither lament - (Ezekiel 24:17; Ezekiel 24:22-23).

House of mourning - (Mark 5:38). [ Marzeeach (Hebrew #4798)] margin, mourning-feast; such feasts were usual at funerals. So Jerome translates 'to the house of the (mourning) banquet.' The Hebrew means, in Amos 6:7, the cry of joy at a banquet; here, the cry of sorrow.


Verse 6

Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them:

Nor cut themselves - indicating extravagant grief (Jeremiah 41:5; Jeremiah 47:5), prohibited by the law (Leviticus 19:28).

Make themselves bald - (Jeremiah 7:29; Isaiah 22:12).


Verse 7

Neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother.

Neither shall ... tear themselves - rather, "break bread" - namely, that eaten at the funeral-feast (Deuteronomy 26:14; Job 42:11; Ezekiel 24:17; Hosea 9:4). 'Bread' is to be supplied to 'break,' as Lamentations 4:4; (cf. "take" food) (Gen Job 42:11; Ezekiel 24:17; Hosea 9:4). 'Bread' is to be supplied to 'break,' as Lamentations 4:4; (cf. "take" food) (Genesis 42:33).

Neither shall men give them the cup of consolation ... for their father or mother. It was the Oriental custom for friends to send viands and wine (the "cup of consolation") to console relatives in mourning-feasts-e.g., children under the death of a "father" or "mother."


Verse 8

Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink.

Thou shall not go into the house of feasting - joyous, as distinguished from mourning-feasts. Have no more to do with this people, whether in mourning or joyous feasts.


Verse 9

For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.

I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth - (Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 25:10; Ezekiel 26:13).


Verse 10

And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?

Wherefore hath the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? After the execution of the sentence pronounced, it is the Gentile nations who ask, "Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land?" (Deuteronomy 29:24; 1 Kings 9:8-9.)


Verse 11

Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law;

Because your fathers have forsaken me - (Deuteronomy 29:25; Jeremiah 5:19; Jeremiah 13:22; Jeremiah 23:8-9).


Verse 12

And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:

Ye - emphatic; so far from avoiding your fathers' bad example, "ye have done far worse" (Jeremiah 7:26; 1 Kings 14:9).

Imagination - rather, stubborn perversity.

That they may not hearken - rather, connected with "ye;" 'ye have walked ... so as not to hearken to me.'


Verse 13

Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour.

Serve other gods - that which was their sin in their own land was their punishment in exile. Retribution in kind. They voluntarily forsook God for idols at home; they were not allowed to serve God, if they wished it, in captivity (Daniel 3:1-30; Daniel 6:1-28 illustrate this strikingly).

Day and night - irony. You may there serve idols, which ye are so mad after, even to satiety, and without intermission.


Verse 14

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;

Therefore - so severe shall be the Jews' bondage that their deliverance from it shall be a greater benefit than that out of Egypt. The consolation is incidental here; the prominent thought is the severity of their punishment, so great that their rescue from it will be greater than that from Egypt (Calvin); so the context (Jeremiah 16:13; Jeremiah 16:17-18) proves (Jeremiah 24:7-8; Isaiah 43:18).


Verse 15

But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.

The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north - Chaldea. But while the return from Babylon is primarily meant, the return hereafter is the full and final accomplishment contemplated, as "from all the lands" proves. "Israel" was not save in a very limited sense, "gathered from all the lands" at the return from Babylon (cf. Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 30:3; Jeremiah 32:15, notes).


Verse 16

Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.

Send for - translate, 'I will send many;' "I will give the commission to many" (2 Chronicles 17:7).

I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters ... - successive invaders of Judea (Amos 4:2; Habakkuk 1:14-15). So "net" (Ezekiel 12:13). As to "hunters," see Genesis 10:9. Nimrod, "the mighty hunter," the first founder of an empire on conquest; Micah 7:2; the Chaldees were famous in hunting, as the Egyptians, the other enemy of Judea, were in fishing. "Fishers" expresses the ease of their victory over the Jews as that of the angler over fish; "hunters," the keenness of them pursuit of them into every cave and nook. It is remarkable the same image of "fishers" and "fish" is used in a good sense of the Jews' restoration, implying that just as their enemies were employed by God to take them in hand for destruction, so the same shall be employed for their restoration (Ezekiel 47:9-10). So, spiritually, those once enemies by nature (fishermen many of them literally) were employed by God to be heralds of salvation, "catching men" for life (Matthew 4:19; Luke 5:10; Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4); (cf. here Jeremiah 16:19). "O Lord, the Gentiles shall come unto thee" (2 Corinthians 12:16).


Verse 17

For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.

Mine eyes are upon all their ways - (Jeremiah 32:19; Proverbs 5:21; Proverbs 15:3, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good").

Their iniquity - the cause of God's judgments on them.


Verse 18

And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.

First I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double. Horsley translates, 'I will recompense, etc., once and again;' literally, the first time repeated: alluding to the two captives-the Babylonian and the Roman. Maurer, 'I will recompense their former iniquities (those long ago committed by their fathers) and their (own) repeated sins' (Jeremiah 16:11-12). The English version gives a good sense, 'First (before 'I bring them again into their land'), I will doubly (i:e., fully and amply, Jeremiah 17:18; Isaiah 40:2) recompense,' etc.

They have filled mine inheritance with the carcasses - not sweet-smelling sacrifices, acceptable to God, but "carcasses" offered to idols, an offensive odour to God; human victims (Jeremiah 19:5; Ezekiel 16:20), and unclean animals, swine's flesh, etc. (Isaiah 65:4; Isaiah 66:17). Maurer explains it, 'the carcasses' of the idols; their images void of sense and life (cf. Jeremiah 16:19-20). Leviticus 26:30, "I will cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols," favours this.


Verse 19

O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.

O Lord ... the Gentiles shall come unto the earth. The result of God's judgments on the Jews will be that both the Jews when restored and the Gentiles who have witnessed those judgments shall renounce idolatry for the worship of Yahweh: fulfilled partly at the return from Babylon, after which the Jews entirely renounced idols and many proselytes were gathered in from the Gentiles; but not to be realized in its fullness until the final restoration of Israel, (Isaiah 2:1-22.)


Verse 20

Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?

Shall a man make gods unto himself - indignant protest of Jeremiah against idols.

And they are no gods - (Jeremiah 2:11; Isaiah 37:19; Galatians 4:8). "They" refers to the idols. A man (a creature himself) making God is a contradiction in terms. The Vulgate takes "they" thus: 'Shall man make gods, Though men themselves are not gods?'


Verse 21

Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The LORD.

Therefore - in order that all may be turned from idols to Yahweh, He will now give awful proof of His divine power in the judgments He will inflict.

This once - if the punishments I have heretofore inflicted have not been severe enough to teach them, I will now THIS ONCE cause them to know by bitter experience my might.

They shall know that my name is The Lord - Yahweh (Psalms 83:18, "That men may know that thou whose name alone is Yahweh art the Most High over all the earth"), God's incommunicable name, to apply which to idols would be blasphemy. Keeping His threats and promises (Exodus 6:3).

Remarks:

(1) The prophet is directed to demean himself as one expecting soon to see the existing order of things in his country brought to an awful end (Jeremiah 16:1-8). His outward conduct is to correspond to his prophecies; he is so to act as to make it appear that he believed them. In vain will any man try to lead others to be looking and living for another world if they see himself evidently living for this world. His acts give the lie to his, words. The Christian professes to believe that "the fashion of this world is passing away" (1 Corinthians 7:31), and that "the things that are made are to be "removed," but that he is heir of "a kingdom which cannot be moved" (Hebrews 12:27-28); should he not then sit loosely to this world, using, not abusing it? remembering the apostle's injunction, which bears a reference to the Lord's words to Jeremiah, "The time is short; it remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep as though they wept not; and they that rejoice as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy as though they possessed not" (1 Corinthians 7:29-31). (2) "When God giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" (Job 34:29.) But, on the other hand, when He takes away His peace (Jeremiah 16:5) from a people, a family, or an individual, then every trouble inward and outward ensues. Peace is the fruit solely the "loving-kindness and mercies" of the Lord.

(3) How slow people are, when punished by God's judgments, to see that their sufferings are not arbitrarily sent, but are the natural and necessary consequence of their own sins! Self-love whispers, What is our iniquity? (that He so punishes us), What is our sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?" (Jeremiah 16:10.) Whereas true self-knowledge would suggest, our punishment, severe as it is, is in exact correspondence to our sin. The Jews' sin had been that they had, of their own accord, "forsaken" Yahweh (Jeremiah 16:11) and served other gods in their own land, wherein they had received so many tokens of God's favour: their punishment, in exactly retributive justice, was, they were obliged, against their will, to serve other gods in the land of exile, wherein "God would show them no favour" (Jeremiah 16:13). That idolatry which they had so keenly lusted after formerly was now their punishment. They had now a surfeit of it, so that "day and night" (without intermission) they had to serve idols, and could not serve Yahweh, however much they might wish it (Jeremiah 16:13). How often does God make men's cherished lusts to prove ultimately their heaviest scourge, even as in the wilderness He "gave the Israelites their request, but sent leanness into their soul" (Psalms 106:15). "Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days, but even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you" (Numbers 11:19-20).

(4) God is at no loss for instruments wherewith to execute judgment on the guilty. He has at command "fishers," who by fraud shall capture them; "hunters," who by force shall destroy them" (Jeremiah 16:16). Yet mercy is in store for Israel at last, after He has "fully recompensed their iniquity" (Jeremiah 16:18); and not only for them, but for "the Gentiles" also, to "the ends of the earth." Jew and Gentile shall look back with self-abhorrence on their past unfaithfulness, saying, "Surely Our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit" (Jeremiah 16:19); and "they shall know" God by His "name" and character as "Yahweh," faithful alike to His promises and His threats (Jeremiah 16:21).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-16.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, August 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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