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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Jeremiah 47

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah 47:1. The word of the Lord — against the Philistines — “Among the other nations, who were doomed to suffer by the hostilities of Nebuchadnezzar, the Philistines are enumerated, Jeremiah 25:20; and the calamities foretold in this present chapter most probably befell them during the long siege of Tyre, when that prince ravaged their country, in order, as it is said, Jeremiah 47:4, to cut off from Tyre and Sidon all chance of assistance from that quarter. But as no history, sacred or profane, has mentioned the taking of Gaza by the king of Egypt, there is no means of ascertaining the precise date of the delivery of this prophecy.” Before that Pharaoh smote Gaza — “Some have supposed the Pharaoh here spoken of to be Pharaoh-necho, and that he subdued Gaza after the battle of Megiddo, (2 Kings 23:29,) when the whole country round submitted to his victorious arms. Others have thought that it was Pharaoh-hophra, who, having marched out of Egypt to the relief of Jerusalem, when besieged by the Chaldeans, in the ninth or tenth year of Zedekiah, thought proper to retire again on the approach of the enemy toward him, (Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 37:7,) but, on his return, fell upon Gaza, and pillaged it. All this, however, is no better than mere conjecture.” — Blaney.


Verse 2-3

Jeremiah 47:2-3. Behold, waters rise out of the north — Waters sometimes signify multitudes of people and nations, Revelation 17:15; sometimes great and threatening calamities, Psalms 69:1, these waters mean both. By the north, in this prophecy, the country of the Chaldeans is intended, from whence it is here foretold an army should come and overflow the land like a deluge, spreading devastation and destruction everywhere. At the noise of the stamping, &c. — The word שׁעשׂת, here rendered stamping, occurs nowhere else in the Hebrew Scriptures. The LXX. render it, ορμης, impetus, force, rushing along: the Syriac and Chaldee, by words that respectively denote a progressive motion. “But Grotius,” says Blaney, “seems to have expressed it most happily, who has rendered מקול שׁעשׂת, a quadrupedante sono: having in view, no doubt, that line of Virgil, Æn. 8:596.

Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum.

We may therefore render it, At the galloping sound, or, at the sound of the galloping,” of the hoofs of his strong horses — Hebrew, אביריז, of his mighty ones; namely, horses. At the rushing of his chariots, the rumbling of his wheels — Blaney unites these two particulars in one, and reads, “At the rattling of the multitude of his wheels as he drove along.” The fathers shall not look back to their children — To provide for their safety, or so much as to see what becomes of them; for feebleness of hands — Their bodily vigour being dissolved, or relaxed, through the impression made by fear on their minds, which shall be such as to incapacitate them from exerting their strength to any efficacious purpose.


Verse 4

Jeremiah 47:4. To cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper, &c. — The siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar was an action famous in the histories of that age, the siege lasting thirteen years. Zidon was partaker of the same fate with Tyre, both in prosperity and adversity: see Isaiah 23:2; Isaiah 23:4. And her destruction is joined with that of Tyre by Ezekiel chap. 28. The remnant of the country of Caphtor — Or, the isle of Caphtor; called the remnant of the Philistines, Amos 1:8; and the remnant of the sea-coast, Ezekiel 25:16. The expression denotes either a colony transplanted from Caphtor, or else that small remainder of the Philistines, after they had been almost all destroyed in former times, according to the judgments denounced against them by Amos 1:8, and Isaiah 14:19, &c., Caphtor, or Caphtorim, were the ancient inhabitants of Palestine: see Deuteronomy 2:23. The Caphtorim and Casluhim were two neighbouring nations, and nearly related to each other, being both descended from Misraim the father of the Egyptians: see Genesis 10:13-14; which may be the reason why Moses there derives the pedigree of the Philistines from the latter of these two. The ancients generally suppose Caphtor to be the same with Cappadocia. These two nations might go out of Egypt, their native soil, and settle themselves in Cappadocia, where they passed under the general appellation of Caphtorim, and afterward return back to their own native country, and settle in Palestine.


Verse 5

Jeremiah 47:5. Baldness is come upon Gaza; how long wilt thou cut thyself, &c. — Under great calamities, and for the loss of any near kindred, it was usual for men to express their grief by shaving their heads, and cutting their flesh. Instead of Ashkelon is cut off, &c., Blaney reads, Ashkelon is put to silence, observing, that “silence likewise is expressive of great affliction. Thus Job’s friends are said to have sat with him seven days and seven nights upon the ground without addressing a word to him, because they saw his grief was very great, Job 2:13. And so the Hebrew word here used, נדמה, is to be understood, (Isaiah 15:1,) of Moab’s being made speechless with grief and astonishment the night that its cities were spoiled: see chap. Jeremiah 48:2.” With the remnant of their valley — Instead of this interpretation, the LXX. read οι καταλοιποι ενακιμ, the remnant of the Anakims. And this reading may be thought to derive some countenance from what is said Joshua 11:22. But we shall see reason to prefer the present reading of the text, if we consider the situation of Gaza and Ashkelon, about twelve miles distant from each other, near the sea, in a valley, of whose beauty and fertility an accurate traveller has given the following description: “We passed this day through the most pregnant and pleasant valley that ever eye beheld. On the right hand a ridge of high mountains; (whereon stands Hebron;) on the left hand the Mediterranean sea; bordered with continued hills, beset with variety of fruits. The champaign between, about twenty miles over, full of flowery hills, ascending leisurely, and not much surmounting their ranker valleys; with groves of olives, and other fruits, dispersedly adorned.” — Sandys’s Travels, book 3. p. 150. The author adds, that in his time, “this wealthy bottom (as are all the rest) was, for the most part, uninhabited, but only for a few small and contemptible villages” — a state of desolation, owing to the oppressions of a barbarous and ill-advised government. But we may easily conceive the populousness that must have prevailed there in its better days, especially if we consider the power which the Philistines once possessed, and the armies they brought into the field; although their country was scarcely forty English miles in length, and much longer than it was broad. — Blaney.


Verse 6-7

Jeremiah 47:6-7. O thou sword of the Lord — By the sword of the Lord, war is here intended, with which, as a great instrument of calamity and destruction, God punishes the crimes of his enemies, and pleads the cause of his people. Some have understood the prophet as speaking in the words of the Philistines, complaining of the havoc which the sword made among them; but however weary they might be of the war, and desirous of its ceasing, it is not likely they should see the hand of God in it, or term it his sword. The words are rather to be considered as the lamentation of the prophet, (and it is a most pathetic and animated one,) over the miseries with which God, in his just displeasure, was punishing the nations for their sins. How can it be quiet, seeing the Lord hath, given it a charge against Ashkelon, &c. — Here the prophet returns an answer to the foregoing inquiry, importing, that the havoc made by the sword was the effect of God’s irreversible purpose and decree. He gives the sword its commission, and it slays when and where he appoints, and continues to destroy a longer or shorter time, as he determines. When it is drawn, it will not be sheathed till it has fulfilled its charge. As God’s word, so his rod and his sword shall accomplish that for which he sends them.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 47:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-47.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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