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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 15

 

 

Verse 1

1. Though Moses and Samuel — By their intercessions they had repeatedly saved the people from impending danger, (Exodus 32:11-14; Exodus 17:11; Numbers 14:13, etc.; 1 Samuel 7:9; 1 Samuel 12:17; Psalms 99:4,) but now even such holy men as these would not succeed.

Cast them out of my sight — As if they had come along with their representative, the prophet, and were waiting without while he had gone into the holy place to plead for them.


Verses 1-9

JEREMIAH’S PRAYER REFUSED, Jeremiah 15:1-9.

Here again we have an example of unfortunate chapter division. The connexion between the last verses of the preceding chapter and the opening portion of the present chapter is most intimate. To break it by one of the great chapter divisions is misleading. In the concluding portion of the preceding chapter the prophet’s prayer is urgent and importunate; here we have a still more emphatic refusal.


Verse 2

2. If they ask where they are to go, Jeremiah is to say: To their fate. And the choice will be, indeed, among grim alternatives death, sword, famine, and captivity.


Verse 3

3. Four kinds — One to kill, the rest to tear and mutilate the dead.


Verse 4

4. Removed — Rather, a terror. Furst, Nagelsbach, Keil, Syriac, render it maltreated.

Manasseh — See 2 Kings 21:1-16. The name of the pious and illustrious father sets off with terrible emphasis that of his godless and unworthy son. Though Manasseh lived a hundred years before this, the evil consequences of his wicked reign were still extant.


Verse 5

5. Who shall have pity, etc. — Who if not Jeremiah? In rejecting him the people were sacrificing their last friend influential with God. How like to the after conduct of descendants of this very people in crucifying the Son of God.


Verse 6

6. Forsaken — The original is still stronger — rejected.


Verse 7

7. Will fan, etc. — The verb is a preterite used prophetically.

Gates of the land — Frequently used in the sense of cities, but here in the more ordinary sense of places of ingress and egress. The sense of the verse is: With my winnowing shovel I will drive the people out of the land.


Verse 8-9

8, 9. This destruction is so sweeping that widows are increased… above the sand of the seas… mother of the young men — Literally, the young man, the word which is so rendered meaning young warrior. The picked warriors have fallen; so that though she has borne seven sons she is now defenceless against the spoiler.

Noonday — When one least looks for an attack.

Caused him to fall upon it — Rather, I caused to fall upon her (namely, the mother of the young men) anguish and terrors.

Sun is gone down while… yet day — Betokening violence and calamity.


Verse 10

THE PROPHET IS CORRECTED AND COMFORTED, Jeremiah 15:10-21.

10. Woe is me — Here begins the complaint of the prophet and the answer of Jehovah, in a conversation which constitutes the remainder of the chapter. “Woe is me,” my mother! The deep pathos of this language shows that it was no light burden of duty which Jeremiah was bearing. The language suggests that of Job, in which he cursed the day of his birth, (Job 3:3, etc.,) but is entirely different in spirit. What gives Jeremiah such depth of sorrow is, not only the fate of the commonwealth, but also his experience of personal loneliness, shut out as he was from the sympathy of his countrymen.

A man of strife — A prophet of evil omen. I have neither lent, etc. — So it seems that in ancient as well as modern times the relations of moneylender and borrower were fruitful of strife.


Verse 11

11. It shall be well with thy remnant — The passage is exceedingly difficult. This difficulty pressed upon the Jews themselves, for the keri is manifestly a struggle for relief. Many translations have been given, for the most important of which see the critical note of Nagelsbach in loc. The following deserve mention: “I afflict thee for thy good,” Gesenius, Meyer, Nagelsbach. “I will strengthen thee for good,” Ewald, Keil. “I will loose thee for good,” Furst, Rosenmuller. Of these the last is preferable, both on the score of etymology and sense, combining, as it does, substantially both the kethil and keri. The word occurs elsewhere only in Job 37:3, where it applies to the lightning, and is rendered in the English version “directeth,” but probably should be translated hath set loose.

To entreat thee well — Rather, to supplicate thee, a prophecy which was literally fulfilled. See Jeremiah 21:1, etc.; Jeremiah 37:3; Jeremiah 38:14, etc.; Jeremiah 43:2.


Verse 12

12. Steel — Rather, brass. Making this change, the Authorized Version, as to words, faithfully represents the original: but as to the meaning there have been different opinions. Taking the construction of the English Version, the question is: Can one kind of iron break another? Can the iron of Jeremiah’s intercession break the iron of Jehovah’s purpose to send his people into exile? But this does not satisfactorily explain the phrase northern iron. To refer the epithet “northern” to Jehovah’s purpose to send his people into the north country is harsh in the extreme, not to say puerile. Better is it to regard northern iron as a mere repetition for the purpose of identification of the term iron, and break as intransitive. The meaning, then, will be: Shall iron break — northern iron and brass? Is there any probability or possibility that the power of the north country will break, any more than that iron itself will break?


Verse 13-14

13, 14. These verses are repeated in Jeremiah 17:3-4.

Thy substance — Jeremiah’s, as representing the people. The general meaning of the verses last preceding is substantially as follows: God will take care of his servant, and will give him deliverance from the strait place in which he now is, and will even cause the enemy to supplicate him. (Jeremiah 15:11.) As one proof of this, he mentions the improbability that the Chaldean power will relent, (Jeremiah 15:12,) and so the prophetical character of Jeremiah will be vindicated by his words coming fearfully true. And still further extending the thought, he says (Jeremiah 15:13) that the substance of the people is to be cast away as worthless, because of their sins.


Verse 15

15. Remember me, etc. — Here we have another phase of Jeremiah’s complaint, for nothing is so eloquent or so exhaustless as the heart. It contains two elements: 1) The hard lot of having to predict the ruin of his country. 2) His own personal trials in executing this commission.

Revenge me — In judging of such words we must not leave out of view the fact that the speaker has a consciousness of being in some eminent and peculiar sense the embodiment of God’s cause, and that the honour of that cause is bound up with his own personal fate. So, for instance, was it with Jonah in his complaint at the sparing of Nineveh. His bitter grief was not a merely low and selfish regard for his reputation as a prophet; were it so, he were a monster and not a man. But, in addition to any sense of personal defeat and dishonour he may have experienced, there was a shock to his faith, and a fear that the cause of Israel’s God had come to dishonour before his enemies. We are not, then, to interpret these words as a vindictive cry for revenge, but a prayer for vindication as a prophet of God.

In thy longsuffering — Namely, that which spares the wicked. The prophet had come to feel that the issue was so joined, that to spare the wicked would be to destroy him who by God’s command had predicted their downfall. And so he bases his prayer upon this very longsuffering. He prays that He who deals so leniently with his enemies may mercifully consider his own servant.


Verse 16

16. I did eat them — Compare Ezekiel 2:9; Ezekiel 3:3; Revelation 10:9-10. The meaning here is: I received them with avidity; they became incorporated into my being, and filled me with joy and strength. Trying, indeed, is the particular duty assigned me, but above it all is the blessed fact, that I belong to God and am executing his will.


Verse 17

17. Assembly of the mockers — Literally, laughers. Those that make merry. Though young when called, yet he had led not a frivolous but a serious life.

Because of thy hand — Which had lifted him into the realm of prophetical vision.


Verse 18

18. Pain perpetual — Implying that he had been long in the prophetical office.

A liar — Rather, a deceptive torrent, that dries up in the season of drought and so disappoints hope. See Job 6:15; Micah 1:16. The phrase waters that fail is epexegetical.


Verse 19

19. If thou return — That is, from thy doubtings and complaints. This is Jehovah’s answer to Jeremiah’s complaint.

Again — The whole clause should read: Then will I cause thee again to stand before me: the first of the two verbs joined by and being adverbial, according to a very common Hebrew idiom. This language must have been a poignant reproof to the prophet’s sensitive spirit. While he is in the very act of recounting his faithfulness, God reproves him in language which implies unfaithfulness.


Verse 20-21

20, 21. These verses contain an amplified repetition of the promise given at the very outset of his ministry, Jeremiah 1:18-19.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 15:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-15.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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