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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Jeremiah 15

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah 15:1. Then said the Lord unto me, &c. — This is the Lord’s answer to the fervent prayers of Jeremiah, contained in the last four verses of the preceding chapter. Though Moses and Samuel stood before me — By prayer or sacrifice to reconcile me to them; yet my mind could not be toward this people — Yet I could not be prevailed with to admit them into favour. “As God had forbidden Jeremiah before to intercede for them, because it would be to no purpose; so here he declares, that he would not admit the prayers of any others, though eminent favourites, in their behalf. Moses obtained pardon for the people after their sin in making the golden calf, Exodus 32:34; and again, after their despising the promised land, Numbers 14:20. Samuel’s intercession prevailed for their deliverance out of the hands of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 7:9. And these two persons are mentioned together, as remarkably prevalent by their prayers, Psalms 99:6; Psalms 99:8. But here God says, that if these very persons were alive, and in that near attendance to him which they formerly enjoyed, (for that is the import of the phrase, To stand before him,) yet even their prayers should not avert his judgments from this people.” — Lowth. Cast them out of my sight — Declare that they shall be cast out, as that which is in the highest degree odious and offensive; or tell them to come no more to me with their supplications, but to go out of my sanctuary. A strong declaration of determined displeasure. Thus the Lord dismisses them with a severity whereof we have few examples in Scripture. See Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 14:16.


Verses 2-5

Jeremiah 15:2-5. If they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? — If they ask thee what thou meanest by going forth, and whither they shall go: thou shalt tell them, Such as are for death to death, &c. — In general, You shall go forth, saith God, to ruin and destruction; but shall not be all destroyed in one and the same way, but every one shall perish in that way which God hath appointed: some shall be destroyed by the pestilence, (for that is here to be understood by death, Revelation 6:8, it being death without visible means,) others shall be destroyed by famine, others by the sword of the enemy, others shall go into captivity; but one way or other the greatest part of you shall be consumed. And I will appoint over them four kinds — Namely, of destroyers. The sword to slay — And those that are slain by it shall not enjoy the common rites of burial, but their carcasses shall be left a prey to the dogs, the birds, and the wild beasts, which last shall both tear their living bodies and their dead carcasses. And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms, &c. — Though the body of the people were removed into Babylon, yet it is more than probable that many of them became voluntary exiles to avoid the miseries which they saw coming upon their country. And, without doubt, the king of Babylon removed them into several kingdoms belonging to his large empire. These, it must be observed, are the very words of Moses, (Deuteronomy 28:25,) where he threatens the Israelites with a general dispersion over the world, which threatening received its completion, in part, by the Babylonish captivity, but more perfectly after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Because of Manasseh — In idolatry and other abominations he exceeded all the kings that preceded him: see 2 Kings 21:7-11. In his time the public worship of God was wholly suppressed, and idolatry introduced into the very temple; the law of God was likewise quite laid aside, and, in a manner, forgotten, as appears by the surprise Hilkiah was in when he found the original copy of the law in the house of the Lord. So that his sins filled up the measure of the Jews’ iniquities; and therefore, notwithstanding the reformation wrought afterward by Josiah, the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his wrath kindled against Judah: see 2 Kings 23:26 and 2 Kings 24:3-4. It must be observed, however, that it was not merely for his sins, or the sins of his times, that God so dreadfully punished the Jews in the days of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah; but it was also, and especially because they imitated the wicked example which Manasseh had set them, the reformation effected by Josiah being only partial, and of not long continuance. For who shall, or, who will, have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem — Thy sins render thee unworthy of pity, and all that see the calamities brought upon thee will acknowledge them to be just. Who will go aside, &c. — Who will be so much concerned for thee as to step a little out of his way to inquire after thee; a common instance of respect between persons in any degree acquainted. Rather they that pass by will insult over thy calamities.


Verse 6-7

Jeremiah 15:6-7. Thou hast forsaken me, thou art gone backward — God here, by more expressions of the same import with many that we have before met with, declares his steady resolution to destroy them for their apostacy from him; and represents himself as an angry prince or parent, that had frequently been provoked by a subject or child whom he had often resolved to punish, but out of his clemency, or upon the mediation of others, had altered his mind, and resolved to spare him; but afterward had met with so many fresh provocations that his patience was quite tired out, and he was determined to bear no longer. I will fan them with a fan — Not a purging fan, to separate the chaff from them, but a scattering fan, to disperse and scatter them to all the winds, as Ezekiel expresses it, Ezekiel 5:12. In the gates of the land — He alludes to a man standing in the gate of his thrashing-floor to fan and cleanse his corn. I will deprive them of children — The words, of children, are not in the Hebrew, and are unnecessarily supplied: it may as well be of any, or all their comforts and good things. I will destroy my people — The privilege they claim of being my people shall not protect them while they go on in their sinful courses.


Verse 8

Jeremiah 15:8. Their widows are increased above the sand of the seas — A hyperbolical expression. The prophet still speaks of things to come as if present. In Jehoiakim’s time we read of no great number of widows, but they were exceedingly multiplied when the city was besieged and taken in Zedekiah’s time. I have brought upon them against the mother, &c. — Blaney renders this and the next clause, I have brought against their mother a chosen one, spoiling at noon-day; I have caused to fall upon her suddenly an enemy and terrors. By the mother here we are to understand Jerusalem, the mother-city, as she is termed in the margin, against which Nebuchadnezzar, the spoiler, was sent, and who came, not secretly, as a thief by night, but openly, with an army at noon-day. “Nebuchadnezzar might be called a chosen one,” says Blaney, “as being selected by God to be the instrument and executioner of his vengeance. In the margin of our Bibles, בחורis rendered a young man; and this also would very properly characterize the same person. For Josephus (Contra Apion, lib. 1.) cites from Berosus, the Chaldean historian, a passage to the following purport: that ‘Nabopollassar, king of Babylon, hearing that the provinces of Egypt, Cœlo-Syria, and Phœnice had revolted, and being himself infirm through age, sent a part of his forces under his son Nebuchadnezzar, then in the prime of youth, οντι ετι εν ηλικια, by whom those provinces were again reduced.’ This was the expedition said to have been undertaken by him in the third year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, in the course of which, after having first defeated the Egyptian army at Carchemish, he laid siege to Jerusalem, took and plundered it, carrying away much spoil and many captives to Babylon.” See Jeremiah 46:2; Daniel 1:1-3; 2 Kings 24:1.


Verse 9

Jeremiah 15:9. She that hath borne seven languisheth — Seven is put for many, (see 1 Samuel 2:5,) and the multitude of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the mother-city, is here alluded to; the prophet pursuing the metaphor of the former verse, and describing the mother-city under the figure of a woman that had been fruitful, but was now become feeble, and bore no children. He means that the people of Judah, which had been very numerous, were now greatly diminished. Her sun is gone down while it was yet day — In the midst of her prosperity she is reduced to this state of misery, being of a sudden overwhelmed with the greatest calamities, when she might have expected a long continuance of happiness. The expression is extremely strong, and denotes a sudden change from the highest dignity to the lowest abasement. She hath been ashamed and confounded — The judgments of God oppressed and confounded a part of the Jews before their captivity. And the residue of them — The remainder of them, saith God, shall be destroyed by the sword of the enemy.


Verse 10-11

Jeremiah 15:10-11. Wo is me, my mother — The prophet here complains of the opposition he met with from his countrymen for speaking unwelcome truths. Thou hast borne me a man of contention to the whole earth — Or, whole land, rather. I am the object of common hatred; every body takes occasion to quarrel with me, because I speak truths which they do not like to hear. I have neither lent upon usury, &c. — “The Jews were forbidden to take usury of their brethren, (Deuteronomy 23:19,) especially of the poor, (Exodus 22:25,) which was thought so great an oppression that it made the man who was guilty of it hated and cursed by every one. The prophet says that he had never done this, and yet every body was his enemy, only for delivering those messages which he had received from God.” The Lord said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant — The latter words of this verse expound the former: for by שׁרית, remnant, or residue, is meant the remnant of days that Jeremiah had to live. Verily, I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well — I will by my providence so order it that how cruelly and severely soever the enemy may deal with thy countrymen, yet they shall use thee kindly when they shall take the city. This was accordingly fulfilled: the Chaldeans, when they took Jerusalem, and carried the inhabitants of the land into captivity, treated Jeremiah with great kindness, giving him his choice to go where he pleased, and bestowing gifts upon him, as we read Jeremiah 39:11; Jeremiah 40:3-4.


Verse 12

Jeremiah 15:12. Shall iron break the northern iron? — The northern iron is the hardest of any. “It is here,” says Blaney, “justly supposed to denote, in a primary sense, that species of hardened iron, or steel, called in Greek χαλυψ, from the Chalybes, a people bordering on the Euxine sea, and consequently lying to the north of Judea, by whom the art of tempering steel is said to have been discovered. Strabo speaks of this people as known in former times by the name of Chalybes, but afterward called Chaldæi, and mentions their iron mines, lib. 12. p. 549. These, however, were a different people from the Chaldeans who were united with the Babylonians.” “The words, if applied to Jeremiah, import thus much, that, as common iron cannot contend for hardness with the northern iron, or with steel, so the opposition which the Jews made against him should be easily vanquished and disappointed, because the Lord was with him to save him, Jeremiah 15:20. If the words relate to the Jews, as the following verses plainly do, the sense is, that the Chaldeans coming from the north would be as much too hard for them to engage with, as the northern iron was superior in strength to the common metal of that kind.” — Lowth. But perhaps the expression is not merely metaphorical: it is not unlikely that the Babylonians had their armour from the Chalybes, and that therefore it was made of iron much harder, and of much better proof, than that of which the armour of the Jews was formed.


Verse 13-14

Jeremiah 15:13-14. Here God turns his speech from the prophet to the people. Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil — All thy riches and precious things shall be spoiled: there shall be no price taken for the redemption of them. For all thy sins in all thy borders — All parts of the country, even those which lay most remote, had contributed to the national guilt, and all shall be brought to account. And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies, &c. — They shall stay in their own country till they see their estates and all their property ruined, and then they shall be carried into captivity, to spend the remains of a miserable life in slavery. And all this is the fruit of God’s wrath; for a fire, says he, is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you — And, if not extinguished in time, will burn to eternity.


Verse 15-16

Jeremiah 15:15-16. O Lord, thou knowest — Thou knowest my sincerity, how faithfully I have declared thy will: or, thou knowest my sufferings, how wickedly my enemies act toward me. It is matter of comfort to us, that, whatever befalls us, we have a God to go to, before whom we may spread our case, and to whose omniscience we may appeal, as the prophet here does. Remember me, and visit me — Think upon me for good, and visit me with thy love, while this people are visited with thy wrath. Revenge me — Or, rather, Vindicate me, from my persecutors, as the Hebrew, לי מרדפי הנקם, may be properly rendered: give judgment against them, and let that judgment be executed so far as is necessary for my vindication, and to compel them to acknowledge that they have done me wrong: see note on Jeremiah 11:20. Take me not away in thy longsuffering — While thou exercisest long-suffering toward my persecutors, and forbearest to vindicate my cause and defend me, let them not prevail to take away my life. Or, as some understand his words, Though I am a sinner, and deserve to be punished as such among the Jews, yet exercise toward me patience and long-suffering, and let me not be taken away into captivity. Know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke — Lord, remember that my reproach, and all that I suffer, is for thy sake, because I have faithfully declared thy truth, and defended thy honour and glory. Thy words were found, and I did eat them — The words which, from time to time, thou didst reveal to me, were by me readily received, meditated upon, and inwardly digested. And thy word was unto me the joy, &c., of my heart — That is, either, 1st, Though some of thy words were very dreadful, and foretold the ruin of my country, which is very dear to me, and in the ruin of which I cannot but have a deep share, yet, because they proceeded from thee, I was glad to hear them, and be thy instrument to communicate them to thy people, all my natural affections being swallowed up in zeal for thy glory. Or, 2d, Thy word of commission, by which I was made thy prophet, was at first very grateful and pleasing to me; and I was glad when thou didst, at any time, reveal thy will to me, and authorize and enjoin me to make it known to the people. For though the execution of this office was not attended with any secular advantages, but, on the contrary, exposed me to contempt and persecution, yet, because I was thereby serving and glorifying thee, and doing good, I was glad to be so employed, and it was my meat and drink to do thy will. For I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts — I became a prophet by thy authority, and am thy messenger, and thou, the Lord of hosts, art able to protect me.


Verse 17-18

Jeremiah 15:17-18. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers — Or, of those that make merry, as משׂחקים is elsewhere rendered: see Jeremiah 30:19; Jeremiah 31:4. Jeremiah soon found that the joy which he had conceived in being called to the prophetic office, and favoured with extraordinary communications from God, was turned into heaviness, God continually filling his mouth with dreadful messages, and his prophecies containing nothing but terrible denunciations of wrath against a sinful people. Hence his whole prophetical life was to him a time of sorrow and solitude, a time when he sat alone mourning and weeping, in secret, for the indignation of God, revealed to him against his people; nor rejoiced — I did not, with the deriders and scorners of thy word, give a loose to joy and mirth at a time when thy severe judgments were denounced, and when the most dreadful calamities hung over the country. Because of thy hand — God’s hand may be understood of his judgments, which, being denounced by the prophet, might be resembled to a hand stretched out, and just ready to strike; or else of the prophetical impulse which was strong upon Jeremiah, and, in a manner, forced him to be the messenger of evil tidings. God’s judgments, as they were represented to the prophets, often raised such dreadful ideas in their minds as affected them in an extraordinary manner, especially if their threatenings concerned their own country, or the church of God. Why is my pain perpetual, &c. — These seem evidently to be the words of Jeremiah, complaining of the hard task which God had put upon him, continually filling his mouth with such bitter words of evil against the people as exposed him to their most implacable rage, so that his misery seemed like an incurable wound, attended with excruciating pain, for which there was no remedy but patience. Wilt thou be altogether to me as a liar, and waters that fail? — No, I know thou wilt not. God is not a man that he should lie. The fountain of life will never be to his people as waters that fail. The sense is, “Thou hast promised to be my defence against mine enemies; and wilt thou altogether deceive me? like little brooks, which are dried up in summer, when they are most wanted, and so disappoint the thirsty traveller: see Job 6:15. The prophet here sets down the perplexities he laboured under, by reason of the opposition he continually met with from ungodly men, in the execution of his office; just as the psalmist relates the misgivings of his mind when he was under great troubles and temptations. But then presently he checks such thoughts, calls to mind God’s gracious promises, and encourages himself to rely upon him. And the like encouragements are recorded in the following verses of this chapter.” — Lowth.


Verses 19-21

Jeremiah 15:19-21. Therefore thus saith the Lord — In these verses we have God’s gracious answer to the preceding expostulation. Though the prophet betrayed much human frailty in his address, yet God vouchsafed to answer him with good and comfortable words, for he knows our frame. If thou return — Namely, from thy diffidence and distrust in my providence and promises; then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me — I will restore thee to the former favour thou hadst with me, and thou shalt be my prophet, to reveal my mind to the people. And if thou take the precious from the vile — If thou separate the precious truths of God from the vile fancies of men; or rather, if thou preach so as to distinguish good and bad men from each other, encouraging the good, and reproving the wicked, then I will continue thee as my prophet, to speak in my name; and thou wilt answer the character of a true prophet, whose office it is to utter the words that God puts into his mouth, without adding thereto, or diminishing from them. Let them return unto thee, &c. — He here charges the prophet to keep his ground, and not to go over to wicked men, but to use his endeavour to reduce them to that obedience which he yielded to God. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced wall — Which the storm batters and beats violently upon, but cannot shake; and they shall fight against thee — They will still continue their opposition; but they shall not prevail — Namely, to drive thee from off thy work, or to cut thee off from the land of the living. For I am with thee to save thee — And I have wisdom and power enough to deal with the most formidable enemy. I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked — The wicked Jews; and out of the hand of the terrible — The power of the terrible Chaldeans, into whose hands thou shalt come, but shalt be preserved from any harm by the workings of my providence in thy favour.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 15:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-15.html. 1857.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
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