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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 16:16

"Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen," declares the Lord , "and they will fish for them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Fishermen;   Hunting;   Scofield Reference Index - Kingdom;   The Topic Concordance - Defilement;   Iniquity;   Israel/jews;   Recompense/restitution;   Sending and Those Sent;   Sin;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Rocks;  
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Teach, Teacher;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Fish-Hooks;   Hunting;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Captivity;   Fish;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Hunt;   Occupations and Professions in the Bible;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - North Country, Land of the North;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Hunting;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Fishers;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Fish;   Fisher;   Food;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Fish and Fishing;   Food;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse Jeremiah 16:16. I will send for many fishers - for many hunters — I shall raise up enemies against them some of whom shall destroy them by wiles, and others shall ruin them by violence. This seems to be the meaning of these symbolical fishers and hunters.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Symbolic actions (16:1-21)

Again God instructs his prophet concerning certain courses of action designed to attract the people’s attention. Jeremiah is to be a living reminder to the Judeans of what will happen to them if they do not repent. Firstly, he is not to marry or have children, as a grim warning to people that those with families will have greater distress when the final slaughter comes (16:1-4). Secondly, he is not to attend any funeral, as a warning that when Judah falls there will be no funerals, since the dead will lie unburied (5-7). Thirdly, he is not to join in any feast, as a sign that soon all merriment will be gone from Judah for ever (8-9).
When people question Jeremiah about his strange behaviour and the doom to which it points, he must give a forthright explanation. He must tell them plainly that this judgment is because of their rebellion against God in following false gods (10-13). Beyond the judgment there will be restoration. Just as God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt, so in due course will he bring his people from captivity in Babylon back into their own land (14-15). First, however, they must go into captivity. As fish caught in a net or beasts hunted down by hunters, so the Judeans will be captured and dragged off to a foreign land (16-18).
As the prophet looks beyond the captivity to the restoration, he offers a prayer that expresses his confidence in God. He sees a day when God’s people will return to their land and people of other nations will join with them to worship Yahweh as the only God (19-21).

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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16:16". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible


"Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith Jehovah, and they shall fish them up; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways; they are not hid from my face, neither is there iniquity concealed from mine eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable things, and have filled mine inheritance with their abominations."

The fishers and hunters in this passage are metaphors used to describe the thoroughness and completeness of the Babylonian destruction of apostate Israel. All of the sinful people will be flushed out of their hiding places, and none shall escape.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16:16". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The scattering of the people is to be like that of hunted animals, of which but few escape, the ancient method of hunting being to enclose a large space with beaters and nets, and so drive everything within it to some place where it was destroyed. The destruction of the whole male population was one of the horrible customs of ancient warfare, and the process is called in Herodotus “sweeping the country with a drag-net.” The same authority tells us that this method could only be effectually carried out on an island. Literally, understood, the fishers are the main armies who, in the towns and fortresses, capture the people in crowds as in a net, while the hunters are the light-armed troops, who pursue the fugitives over the whole country, and drive them out of their hiding places as hunters track out their game.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Some explain this of the apostles; but it is wholly foreign to the subject: they think that Jeremiah pursues here what he had begun to speak of; for they doubt not but that he had been speaking in the last verse of a future but a near deliverance, in order to raise the children of God into a cheerful confidence. But I have already rejected this meaning, for their exposition is not well founded. But if it be conceded that the Prophet had prophesied of the liberation of the people, it does not follow that God goes on with the same subject, for he immediately returns to threatenings, as ye will see; and the allegory also is too remote when he speaks of hunters and fishers; and as mention is made of ‘hills and mountains, it appears still more clearly that the Prophet is threatening the Jews, and not promising them any alleviation in their miseries. I therefore connect all these things together in a plain manner; for, having said that the evil which the Jews would shortly have to endure would be more grievous than the Egyptian bondage, he now adds a reason as a confirmation, —

Behold, he says, I will send to them many fishers, that they may gather them together on every side. He mentions fishers, as they would draw the children of Israel from every quarter to their nets. He then compares the Chaldeans to fishers, who would so proceed through the whole land as to leave none except some of the most ignoble, whom also they afterwards took away; and to fishers he adds hunters. Some understand by fishers armed enemies, who by the sword slew the conquered; and they consider that the hunters were those who were disposed to spare the life of the many, and to drive them into exile; but this appears too refined. Simple is the view which I have stated, that the Chaldeans were called fishers, because they would empty the whole land of its inhabitants, and that they were called hunters, because the Jews, having been scattered here and there, and become fugitives, would yet be found out in the recesses of hins and rocks.

The two similitudes are exceedingly suitable; for the Prophet shews that the Chaldeans would not have much trouble in taking the Jews, inasmuch as fishers only spread their nets; they do not arm themselves against fishes, nor is there any need; and then all the fish they take they easily take possession of them, for there is no resistance. Thus, then, he shews that the Chaldeans would gain an easy victory, for they would take the Jews as fishes which are drawn into nets. This is one thing. Then, in the second place, he says, that if they betook themselves into recesses of mountains, that if they hid themselves in caverns or holes, their enemies would be like hunters who follow the wild beasts in forests and in other unfrequented places; no brambles, nor thorns, nor any obstructions prevent them from advancing, being led on by a strong impulse; so in like manner no recesses of mountains would be concealed from the Chaldeans, no caverns where the Jews might hide themselves, for they would all be taken. We hence see that he confirms by two similitudes, what he had said in a preceding verse. He afterwards adds —

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Shall we turn now to Jeremiah 16:1-21 .

Now you remember that Jeremiah was just a young man when God called him to this prophetic ministry. And so in chapter 16:

The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place ( Jeremiah 16:1-2 ).

So Jeremiah is commanded by God not to marry, and the reason for the commandment not to marry or not to have children was to be a sign to the people of the terrible times that were coming. They were going to really be facing hard times and it was no time to be having children. Because if you have children, they're going to die of starvation; they're going to be killed in the siege. It's just not a time to be having children or to be getting married and all. So it was to be a sign, his bachelorhood was to be a sign unto the people.

Now it is interesting that God spoke to Hosea and told him to marry. And God directed him concerning his marriage. And with Hosea his marriage was to be a sign unto the people. With Isaiah he was to name his children as signs to the people. And so their names meant certain things that were, again, a sign to the people. So with Jeremiah God called him to bachelorhood.

For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and 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; They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither will 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 the famine; and their carcasses shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. 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 loving-kindness and mercies. 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 ( Jeremiah 16:3-6 ):

Now in Israel they have customs when a family member dies; you're not to shave for thirty days. And then when you shave you take the hair that has grown in that thirty days and offer it unto the Lord as sort of a sacrifice. But it was a sign; it is a sign of mourning. And even to the present day the Jews observe this sign of mourning at a death. So the shaving was after the thirty days that they had died. But he's saying there's not going to be any kind of a memorial or cutting of yourself, shaving of yourself or whatever for those who have died.

Neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning ( Jeremiah 16:7 ),

And, of course, these people sought to show their great love for the deceased and the more wailing that went on in the house indicated to everybody how much you loved them. So when someone died that was very close to you, you wanted everybody to know how deeply you loved them and so you would hire wailers to come into your house. And they were professionals that would really wail. And they would come in and go through this wailing process. And, of course, you would join in with them and there was this lamenting, the wailing that they did for the dead. And so he's saying that that's not going to even be going on. The tearing of themselves of this 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 ( Jeremiah 16:7 ).

So don't get married. Don't have children, because the people that are here, the children that are now being born are going to suffer fearful, awful deaths as their bodies won't even be buried. There will be no one around to mourn their deaths. And he's just telling of that hard, hard times that are coming and because of that, as a sign to the people, he was not to marry nor to have children.

Now the Lord gave him a second commandment in verse Jeremiah 16:8 .

Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink ( Jeremiah 16:8 ).

Now, of course, the feasts were great occasions. It was really their... They didn't have television, radios and movie theaters. And so their entertainment was at these feasts. And these feasts would be great occasions, not only of dining, but also of entertainment. And so there was great laughter as you had all kinds of entertainment during these feasts and all. And they were just times of entertainment and celebration. But the prophet is told not to go to these feasts.

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 merriment, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride ( Jeremiah 16:9 ).

During your time, during this generation, these things are all going to cease in this land. So as a sign to the people that the end has come, don't go into the house of feasting. Don't join in that merriment.

And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt show this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Why has 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? 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; And you 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 ( Jeremiah 16:10-12 ):

So there was anarchy. Everyone was following the imagination of his own evil heart. God's law was forsaken and thus the judgments of God were coming upon them.

Now the Jew was immensely proud of his heritage. They were always talking about our fathers. And Jesus brings out the fact, how they are always saying, "Well, our fathers," and, "in the days of our fathers." So you remember when Stephen was called in before the Sanhedrin. As he started to sort of rehearse for them their... what they felt, illustrious history. He got caught up as he was rehearsing their history with the whole hypocrisy of the thing. For remembering their history he remembered how they had treated the prophets of God. Now here is Jeremiah and he's saying, "Hey, this is all happening to you because your fathers have forsaken God. They are worshipping these other gods. But you are even worse than your fathers. Everyone is doing after the imagination of his own wicked heart. And for this cause God is pronouncing this judgment that is coming.

Now their reaction to Jeremiah was to put him in prison when he brought this message to them. So as Stephen is rehearsing to the Sanhedrin who, you know, "our fathers." And you remember Jesus in talking with them, they said, they kept talking about "our fathers" and Jesus said, "Look, if Abraham was your father, then you'd believe in me. For Abraham rejoiced to see My day and he saw it." And they were arguing with Jesus about that. And they said, "We have Abraham as our father." And Jesus said, "You're of your father the devil. And his works are the works that you're doing." Well, Stephen got carried away and he said, "Which of the prophets have you not stoned?" And He started really laying on them what their fathers had done. That they weren't these glorious, illustrious kind of men of faith; that they had actually turned away from God and reminded them of that fact.

Therefore [God said,] will I cast you out of this land into a land that you know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there you will serve other gods day and night; where I will not show you favor. 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; 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 to their fathers ( Jeremiah 16:13-15 ).

Now he's speaking about this dark period of history that they are facing. "During your time the land is going to be laid desolate. During your time you're going to be carried away captive. Because of your evil in turning against God; it's all going to happen in your time." And yet though he's pronouncing this judgment he goes ahead and speaks of that glorious day when God will gather them back again into the land. After the seventy-year captivity, the Lord will bring them back into the land and the day will come when they will say, "The God who brought us out of our captivity," rather than, "The God who brought our fathers out of Egypt." They'll be talking about, "God who brought us back from captivity and put us back in the land."

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. For my eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from my eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable things ( Jeremiah 16:16-18 ).

Jeremiah cried out in response to what God had said.

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. Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? 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 Jehovah ( Jeremiah 16:19-21 ).

So Jeremiah cries out. It's almost as the psalm. In fact, there are psalms, "The Lord is my strength," ( Psalms 118:14 ). "My refuge, my fortress" ( Psalms 91:2 ). And he is perhaps thinking of that psalm when he cries out, "O Lord, my strength, my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction." And then the prophecy of the Gentiles coming from the ends of the earth. And Paul makes mention of prophecies concerning the Gentiles' salvation in the book to the Romans.


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Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16:16". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Future blessings following imminent judgment 16:14-21

The following three pericopes bracket the assurance of imminent judgment for Judah with promises of distant blessing for Israel and the nations. This passage promises deliverance from the captivity for the Israelites. It appears again later in Jeremiah almost verbatim (Jeremiah 23:7-8).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The Lord was going to summon fishermen (cf. Ezekiel 12:13; Ezekiel 29:4-5; Amos 4:2; Habakkuk 1:14-17) and hunters (cf. Amos 9:1-4) to round up His people and take them as prey, even those who were in hiding. These agents would be the Babylonian invaders.

"When Jesus used the metaphor of fishermen to describe the mission of his disciples (see Mark 1:17; Matthew 4:19), he was reversing its meaning from that intended by Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s fishers caught men for judgment; Jesus’ fishers caught them for salvation." [Note: Kelley, p. 219.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them,.... Which some understand of the Egyptians, who lived much on fish, and were much employed in catching them, to which the allusion is thought to be; but rather the Chaldeans are intended, whom God, by the secret instinct of his providence, brought up against the Jews; who besieged Jerusalem, and enclosed them in it, and took them as fishes in a net; see Habakkuk 1:14, though some interpret this, and what follows, of the deliverance of the Jews by the Medes and Persians under Cyrus, who searched for them in all places, and sent them into their own land; or of Zerubbabel, and others with him, who used all means to persuade the Jews in the captivity to go with them, and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem; and there are not wanting others, who by the "fishers" think the apostles are meant; who were fishers by occupation, and whom Christ made fishers of men, and sent forth to cast and spread the net of the Gospel in the several parts of Judea, for the conversion of some of that people; see Matthew 4:18:

and after will l send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks; either the same persons, the Chaldeans, are meant here, as before; who, as they should slay those they took in Jerusalem with the edge of the sword, as fishes taken in a net are killed, or presently die, which is the sense of the Targum, and other Jewish commentators; so those that escaped and fled to mountains, hills, and holes of the rocks, to hide themselves, should be pursued by them, and be found out, taken, and carried captive: or, the Romans e. So Nimrod, the beginning of whose kingdom was Babel, being a tyrant and an oppressor, is called a mighty hunter, Genesis 10:8.

e Vid. Joseph de Bello Jud. l. 7. c. 9. sect. 4.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Judgment and Mercy; Restoration of the Jews; Deliverance from Babylon. B. C. 605.

      14 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;   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.   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.   17 For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.   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.   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.   20 Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?   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.

      There is a mixture of mercy and judgment in these verses, and it is hard to know to which to apply some of the passages here--they are so interwoven, and some seem to look as far forward as the times of the gospel.

      I. God will certainly execute judgment upon them for their idolatries. Let them expect it, for the decree has gone forth. 1. God sees all their sins, though they commit them ever so secretly and palliate them ever so artfully (Jeremiah 16:17; Jeremiah 16:17): My eyes are upon all their ways. They have not their eye upon God, have no regard to him, stand in no awe of him; but he has his eye upon them; neither they nor their sins are hidden from his face, from his eyes. Note, None of the sins of sinners either can be concealed from God or shall be overlooked by him, Proverbs 5:21; Job 34:21; Psalms 90:8. 2. God is highly displeased, particularly at their idolatries, Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 16:18. As his omniscience convicts them, so his justice condemns them: I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double, not double to what it deserves, but double to what they expect and to what I have done formerly. Or I will recompense it abundantly; they shall now pay for their long reprieve and the divine patience they have abused. The sin for which God has a controversy with them is their having defiled God's land with their idolatries, and not only alienated that which he was entitled to as his inheritance, but polluted that which he dwelt in with delight as his inheritance, and made it offensive to him with the carcases of their detestable things, the gods themselves which they worshipped, the images of which, though they were of gold and silver, were as loathsome to God as the putrid carcases of men or beasts are to us. Idols are carcases of detestable things. God hates them, and so should we. Or he might refer to the sacrifices which they offered to these idols, with which the land was filled; for they had high places in all the coasts and corners of it. This was the sin which, above any other, incensed God against them. 3. He will find out and raise up instruments of his wrath, that shall cast them out of their land, according to the sentence passed upon them (Jeremiah 16:16; Jeremiah 16:16): I will send for many fishers and many hunters--the Chaldean army, that shall have many ways of ensnaring and destroying them, by fraud as fishers, by force as hunters. They shall find them out wherever they are, and shall chase and closely pursue them, to their ruin. They shall discover them wherever they are hid, in hills or mountains, or holes of the rocks, and shall drive them out. God has various ways of prosecuting a people with his judgments that avoid the convictions of his word. He has men at command fit for his purpose; he has them within call, and can send for them when he pleases. 4. Their bondage in Babylon shall be sorer and much more grievous than that in Egypt, their task-masters more cruel, and their lives made more bitter. This is implied in the promise (Jeremiah 16:14; Jeremiah 16:15), that their deliverance out of Babylon shall be more illustrious in itself, and more welcome to them, than that out of Egypt. Their slavery in Egypt came upon them gradually and almost insensibly; that in Babylon came upon them at once and with all the aggravating circumstances of terror. In Egypt they had a Goshen of their own, but none such in Babylon. In Egypt they were used as servants that were useful, in Babylon as captives that had been hateful. 5. They shall be warned, and God shall be glorified, by these judgments brought upon them. These judgments have a voice, and speak aloud, (1.) Instruction to them. When God chastens them he teaches them. By this rod God expostulates with them (Jeremiah 16:20; Jeremiah 16:20): "Shall a man make gods to himself? Will any man be so perfectly void of all reason and consideration as to think that a god of his own making can stand him in any stead? Will you ever again be such fools as you have been, to make to yourselves gods which are no gods, when you have a God whom you may call your own, who made you, and is himself the true and living God?" (2.) Honour to God; for he will be known by the judgments which he executes. He will first recompense their iniquity (Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 16:18), and then he will this once (Jeremiah 16:21; Jeremiah 16:21)-- this once for all, not by many interruptions of their peace, but this one desolation and destruction of it. "For this once, and no more, I will cause them to know my hand, the length and weight of my punishing hand, how far it can reach and how deeply it can wound. And they shall know that my name is Jehovah, a God with whom there is no contending, who gives being to threatenings and puts life into them as well as promises."

      II. Yet he has mercy in store for them, intimations of which come in here for the encouragement of the prophet himself and of those few among them that tremble at God's word. It was said, with an air of severity (Jeremiah 16:13; Jeremiah 16:13), that God would banish them into a strange land; but, that thereby they might not be driven to despair, there follow immediately words of comfort.

      1. The days will come, the joyful days, when the same hand that dispersed them shall gather them again, Jeremiah 16:14; Jeremiah 16:15. They are cast out, but they are not cast off, they are not cast away. They shall be brought up from the land of the north, the land of their captivity, where they are held with a strong hand, and from all the lands whither they are driven, and where they seemed to be lost and buried in the crowd; nay, I will bring them again into their own land, and settle them there. As he foregoing threatenings agreed with what was written in this law, so does this promise. Yet will I not cast them away,Leviticus 26:44. Thence will the Lord thy God gather thee,Deuteronomy 30:4. And the following words (Jeremiah 16:16; Jeremiah 16:16) may be understood as a promise; God will send for fishers and hunters, the Medes and Persians, that shall find them out in the countries where they are scattered, and send them back to their own land; or Zerubbabel, and others of their own nation, who should fish them out and hunt after them, to persuade them to return; or whatever instruments the Spirit of God made use of to stir up their spirits to go up, which at first they were backward to do. They began to nestle in Babylon; but, as an eagle stirs up her nest and flutters over her young, so God did by them, Zechariah 2:7.

      2. Their deliverance out of Babylon should, upon some accounts, be more illustrious and memorable than their deliverance out of Egypt was. Both were the Lord's doing and marvellous in their eyes; both were proofs that the Lord liveth and were to be kept in everlasting remembrance, to his honour, as the living God; but the fresh mercy shall be so surprising, so welcome, that it shall even abolish the memory of the former. Not but that new mercies should put us in mind of old ones, and give us occasion to renew our thanksgivings for them; yet because we are tempted to think that the former days were better than these, and to ask, Where are all the wonders that our fathers told us of? as if God's arm had waxed short, and to cry up the age of miracles above the later ages, when mercies are wrought in a way of common providence, therefore we are allowed here comparatively to forget the bringing of Israel out of Egypt as a deliverance outdone by that out of Babylon. That was done by might and power, this by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts,Zechariah 4:6. In this there was more of pardoning mercy (the most glorious branch of divine mercy) than in that; for their captivity in Babylon had more in it of the punishment of sin than their bondage in Egypt; and therefore that which comforts Zion in her deliverance out of Babylon is this, that her iniquity is pardoned,Isaiah 40:2. Note, God glorifies himself, and we must glorify him, in those mercies that have no miracles in them, as well as in those that have. And, though the favours of God to our fathers must not be forgotten, yet those to ourselves in our own day we must especially give thanks for.

      3. Their deliverance out of captivity shall be accompanied with a blessed reformation, and they shall return effectually cured of their inclination to idolatry, which will complete their deliverance and make it a mercy indeed. They had defiled their own land with their detestable things,Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 16:18. But, when they have smarted for so doing, they shall come and humble themselves before God, Jeremiah 16:19-21; Jeremiah 16:19-21. (1.) They shall be brought to acknowledge that their God only is God indeed, for he is a God in need--"My strength to support and comfort me, my fortress to protect and shelter me, and my refuge to whom I may flee in the day of affliction." Note, Need drives many to God who had set themselves at a distance from him. Those that slighted him in the day of their prosperity will be glad to flee to him in the day of their affliction. (2.) They shall be quickened to return to him by the conversion of the Gentiles: The Gentiles shall come to thee from the ends of the earth; and therefore shall not we come? Or, "The Jews, who had by their idolatries made themselves as Gentiles (so I rather understand it), shall come to thee by repentance and reformation, shall return to their duty and allegiance, even from the ends of the earth, from all the countries whither they were driven." The prophet comforts himself with the hope of this, and in a transport of joy returns to God the notice he had given him of it: "O Lord! my strength and my fortress, I am now easy, since thou hast given me a prospect of multitudes that shall come to thee from the ends of the earth, both of Jewish converts and of Gentile proselytes." Note, Those that are brought to God themselves cannot but rejoice greatly to see others coming to him, coming back to him. (3.) They shall acknowledge the folly of their ancestors, which it becomes them to do, when they were smarting for the sins of their ancestors: "Surely our fathers have inherited, not the satisfaction they promised themselves and their children, but lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. We are now sensible that our fathers were cheated in their idolatrous worship; it did not prove what it promised, and therefore what have we to do any more with it?" Note, It were well if the disappointment which some have met with in the service of sin, and the pernicious consequences of it to them, might prevail to deter others from treading in their steps. (4.) They shall reason themselves out of their idolatry; and that reformation is likely to be sincere and durable which results from a rational conviction of the gross absurdity there is in sin. They shall argue thus with themselves (and it is well argued), Should a man be such a fool, so perfectly void of the reason of a man, as to make gods to himself, the creatures of his own fancy, the work of his own hands, when they are really no gods?Jeremiah 16:20; Jeremiah 16:20. Can a man be so besotted, so perfectly lost to human understanding, as to expect any divine blessing or favour from that which pretends to no divinity but what it first received from him? (5.) They shall herein give honour to God, and make it to appear that they know both his hand in his providence and his name in his word, and that they are brought to know his name by what they are made to know of his hand, Jeremiah 16:21; Jeremiah 16:21. This once, now at length, they shall be made to know that which they would not be brought to know by all the pains the prophets took with them. Note, So stupid are we that nothing less than the mighty hand of divine grace, known experimentally, can make us know rightly the name of God as it is revealed to us.

      4. Their deliverance out of captivity shall be a type and figure of this great salvation to be wrought out by the Messiah, who shall gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. And this is that which so far outshines the deliverance out of Egypt as even to eclipse the lustre of it, and make it even to be forgotten. To this some apply that of the many fishers and hunters, the preachers of the gospel, who were fishers of men, to enclose souls with the gospel net, to find them out in every mountain and hill, and secure them for Christ. Then the Gentiles came to God, some from the ends of the earth, and turned to the worship of him from the service of dumb idols.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Jeremiah 16:16". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.