Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
The Judgment is Irrevocably Decreed. - A hostile army approaches from the north, and lays siege to Jerusalem, in order to storm the city (Jer 6:1-8). None is spared, since the people rejects all counsels to reform (Jer 6:9-15). Since it will not repent, it will fall by the hands of the enemy, in spite of the outward sacrificial service (Jer 6:16-21). The enemy will smite Zion without mercy, seeing that the trial of the people has brought about no change for the better in them (Jer 6:22-30).
The judgment breaking over Jerusalem. - Jer 6:1. "Flee, ye sons of Benjamin, out of the midst of Jerusalem, and in Tekoa blow the trumpet, and over Beth-haccerem set up a sign; for evil approaCheth from the north, and great destruction. Jer 6:2. The comely and the delicate - I lay waste the daughter of Zion. Jer 6:3. To her come shepherds with their flocks, pitch their tents about her round about, and devour each his portion. Jer 6:4. Sanctify war against her; arise, let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day declineth; for the shadows of evening lengthen. Jer 6:5. Arise, let us go up by night, and destroy her palaces. Jer 6:6. For thus hath Jahveh of hosts spoken, Hew down wood, and pile up against Jerusalem a rampart; she is the city that is (to be) punished, she is all full of oppression in her midst. Jer 6:7. As a fountain pours forth its water, so pours she forth her wickedness: violence and spoiling is heard in her; before my face continually, wounds and smiting. Jer 6:8. Be warned, Jerusalem, lest my soul tear herself from thee, lest I make thee a waste, a land uninhabited."
In graphic delineation of the enemy's approach against Jerusalem, the prophet calls on the people to flee. As regarded its situation, Jerusalem belonged to the tribe of Benjamin; the boundary between the tribal domain of Judah and Benjamin passed through the valley of Ben-hinnom on the south side of Jerusalem, and then ran northwards to the west of the city (Jos 15:8; Jos 18:16.). The city was inhabited by Judeans and Benjamites, Ch1 9:2. The summons is addressed to the Benjamites as the prophet's fellow-countrymen. Tekoa lay about two hours' journey southwards from Bethlehem, according to Jerome, on a hill twelve Roman miles south of Jerusalem; see on Jos 15:59. This town is mentioned because its name admits of a play on the word תּקעוּ. The alarm is given in the country south of Jerusalem, because the enemy is coming from the north, so that the flight will be directed southwards. Beth-haccerem, acc. to Jerome, was a hamlet (vicus) between Jerusalem and Tekoa, qui lingua Syra et Hebraic Bethacharma nominatur, et ipse in monte positus, apparently on what is now called the Frank's Hill, Jebel Fureidis; see on Neh 3:14. משׂאת, the lifting up, that which raises itself up, or is raised; here a lofty beacon or signal, the nature of which is not further made known. The meaning, fire-signal, or ascending column of smoke, cannot be made good from Jdg 20:38, Jdg 20:40, since there עשׁן is appended; nor from the statements of classical authors (in Ros.), that in time of war bodies of troops stationed in different places made their positions known to one another by masses of rising flame during the night, and by columns of smoke in the day time. As to the last clause, cf. Jer 1:14. "Great destruction," as in Jer 4:6. - In Jer 6:2 the impending judgment is further described. It falls on the daughter of Zion, the capital and its inhabitants, personified as a beautiful and delicately reared woman. נוה, defectively written for נאוה, contracted from נאוה, lovely, beautiful. The words are not vocatives, O fair and delicate, but accusatives made to precede their governing verb absolutely, and are explained by "the daughter of Zion," dependent on "I destroy:" the fair and the delicate, namely, the daughter of Zion, I destroy. דּמה as in Hos 4:5. The other meaning of this verb, to be like, to resemble, is wholly unsuitable here; and, besides, in this signification it is construed with אל or ל. Ew.'s translation, I mean the daughter of Zion, is not justifiable by the usage of the word, the Piel only, and not the Kal, being capable of this interpretation.
The destruction comes about by means of shepherds with their flocks, who set up their tents round the city, and depasture each his portion. We need hardly observe that the shepherds and their flocks are a figure for princes, who with their peoples besiege and sack Jerusalem; with this cf. Jer 1:15. The figure does not point to a nomad swarm, or the Scythian people, as Ew. supposes. "Each his hand," i.e., what lies to his hand, or next him.
The description passes from figure to reality, and the enemies appear before us as speaking, inciting one another to the combat, encouraging one another to storm the city. To sanctify a war, i.e., prepare themselves for the war by religious consecration, inasmuch as the war was undertaken under commission from God, and because the departure of the army, like the combat itself, was consecrated by sacrifice and other religious ceremonies; see on Joe 3:9. עלה, to go up against a place as an enemy, not, go up upon, in which case the object, them (the city or walls), could not be omitted. It is plainly the storming or capture of the town that is meant by the going up; hence we may understand what follows: and we will destroy her palaces. We have a rousing call to go up at noon or in clear daylight, joined with "woe to us," a cry of disappointment that they will not be able to gain their ends so soon, not indeed till night; in these we see the great eagerness with which they carry on the assault. יום פּנה, the day turns itself, declines towards its end; cf. Psa 90:9. The enemies act under a commission from God, who has imposed on them the labour of the siege, in order to punish Jerusalem for her sins. Jahveh is here most fittingly called the God of hosts; for as God of the world, obeyed by the armies of heaven, He commands the kings of the earth to chastise His people. Hew wood, i.e., fell trees for making the siege works, cf. Deu 20:20, both for raising the attacking ramparts,
(Note: Agger ex terra lignisque attollitur contra murum, de quo tela jactantur. Veget. de re milit. iv. 15.)
and for the entire apparatus necessary for storming the town. עצה is not a collective form from עץ, like דּגה from דּג; but the ה is a suffix in spite of the omission of the Mappik, which is given by but a few of the codd., eastern and western, for we know that Mappik is sometimes omitted, e.g., Num 15:28, Num 15:31; cf. Ew. 247, d. We are encouraged to take it so by Deu 20:19, where עצה are the trees in the vicinity of the town, of which only the fruit trees were to be spared in case of siege, while those which did not bear eatable fruit were to be made use of for the purposes of the siege. And thus we must here, too, read עצה, and refer the suffix to the next noun (Jerusalem). On "pile up a rampart," cf. Sa2 20:5; Eze 4:2, etc. הפקד is used as passive of Kal, and impersonally. The connection with העיר is to be taken like חנה in Isa 29:1 : the city where it is punished, or perhaps like Psa 59:6, the relative being supplied: that is punished. כּלּהּ is not to be joined, contrary to the accents, with הפקד (Ven., J. D. Mich.), a connection which, even if it were legitimate, would give but a feeble thought. It belongs to what follows, "she is wholly oppression in her midst," i.e., on all sides in her there is oppression. This is expanded in Jer 6:7. lxx and Jerome have taken הקיר from קרר, and translate: like as a cistern keeps its water cool (ψύχει, frigidam facit), so she keeps her wickedness cool. Hitz. has pronounced in favour of this interpretation, but changes "keep cool" into "keep fresh," and understands the metaphor thus: they take good care that their wickedness does not stagnate or become impaired by disuse. But it would be a strange metaphor to put "keep wickedness cool," for "maintain it in strength and vigour." We therefore, along with Luth. and most commentators, prefer the rabbinical interpretation: as a well makes its water to gush out, etc.; for there is no sufficient force in the objection that מקור from קוּר, dig, is not a spring but a well, that הקיר has still less the force of making to gush forth, and that בּור wholly excludes the idea of causing to spring out. The first assertion is refuted by Jer 2:13, מקור, fountain of living water; whence it is clear that the word does mean a well fed by a spring. It is true, indeed, that the word בּור, a later way of writing בּאר (cf. Ch1 11:17. 22 with Sa2 23:15. 20), means usually, a pit, a cistern dug out; but this form is not substantially different from בּאר, well, puteus, which is used for בּור in Ps. 55:24 and Psa 69:16. Accordingly, this latter form can undoubtedly stand with the force of בּאר, as has been admitted by the Masoretes when they substituted for it בּאר; cf. the Arab. bi'run. The noun מקור puts beyond doubt the legitimacy of giving to הקיר, from קוּר, to dig a well, the signification of making water to gush forth.
The form הקרה is indeed referable to קרר, but only shows, as is otherwise well known, that no very strict line of demarcation can be drawn between the forms of verbs 'עע and 'הקיר ;עו, again, is formed regularly from קוּר. Violence and spoiling; cf. Jer 20:8, and Amo 3:10; Hab 1:3. "Before my face," before mine eyes, corresponds to "is heard," as wounds and smitings are the consequences of violence. On that head, cf. Psa 55:10-12.
If Jerusalem cease not from these sins and crimes, the Lord must devote it to spoliation. Let thyself be corrected, warned; cf. Psa 2:10; Lev 26:23. תּקע from יקע, tear oneself loose, estrange oneself, as in Eze 23:17. "A land uninhabited" is an apposition giving greater expressiveness to "a waste," Jer 22:6.
This judgment will fall unsparingly on Jerusalem, because they listen to no warning, but suffer themselves to be confirmed in their shameless courses by false prophets and wicked priests. - Jer 6:9. "Thus hath Jahveh of hosts said: They shall have a gleaning of the remnant of Israel as of a vine: lay thine hand again as a vine-dresser on the soots. Jer 6:10. To whom shall I speak, and testify, that they may hear? Behold, uncircumcised is their ear, and they cannot give heed: behold, the word of Jahveh is become to them a reproach; they have no pleasure in it. Jer 6:11. But of the fury of Jahveh am I full, am weary with holding it in. Pour it out upon the child on the street, and upon the group of young men together; for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the old man with him that is full of days. Jer 6:12. And their houses shall pass unto others, fields and wives together; for I stretch out mine hand against the inhabitants of the land, saith Jahveh. Jer 6:13. For great and small are all of them greedy for gain; and from the prophet to the priest, all use deceit. Jer 6:14. And they heal the breach of the daughter of my people lightly, saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. Jer 6:15. They are put to shame because they have done abomination, yet they take not shame to themselves, neither know they disgrace; therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall stumble, hath Jahveh said."
The threatening of Jer 6:9 is closely connected with the foregoing. The Lord will make Jerusalem an uninhabited waste, because it will not take warning. The enemy will make a gleaning like vine-dressers, i.e., they will yet search out eve that which is left of the people, and crush it or carry it captive. This still sterner threat does come into contradiction with the repeated pledge, that Israel is not to be wholly extirpated, not to be made an utter end of (Jer 4:27; Jer 5:10, Jer 5:18). For even at the gleaning odd clusters are left, which are not noticed or set store by. The words convey the idea that the enemy will not have done with it after one devastating campaign, but will repeat his inroads. עולל is construed with the accus. of the vineyard in Lev 19:10. The "remnant of Israel" is not the kingdom of Judah at large, but Judah already reduced by judgments. In the second clause the idea of the first is repeated in the form of a command to the gleaners. The command is to be looked on as addressed to the enemy by God; and this turn of the expression serves to put the thought with a positiveness that excludes the faintest doubt. To bring back the hand means: yet again to turn it, stretch it out against a person or thing; cf. Amo 1:8; Isa 1:25. סלסלּות is not baskets, like סלּים, Gen 40:16, but like זלזלּים, Isa 18:5, vine-shoots, prop. waving twigs, like תּלתּלּים, Sol 5:11, from סלל = זלל and תּלל, wave (Ew., Hitz.).
Well might Jeremiah warn the people once more (cf. Jer 6:8), in order to turn sore judgment away from it; but it cannot and will not hear, for it is utterly hardened. Yet can he not be silent; for he is so filled with the fury of God, that he must pour it forth on the depraved race. This is our view of the progress of the thought in these verses; whereas Hitz. and Graf make what is said in Jer 6:11 refer to the utterance of the dreadful revelation received in Jer 6:9. But this is not in keeping with "testify that they may hear," or with the unmistakeable contrast between the pouring out of the divine fury, Jer 6:11, and the testifying that they may hear, Jer 6:10. Just because their ear is uncircumcised to that they cannot hear, is it in vain to speak to them for the purpose of warning them; and the prophet has no alternative left but to pour out on the deaf and seared people that fury of the Lord with which he is inwardly filled. The question: to whom should I speak? etc. (על for אל, as Psa 111:2 and often), is not to be taken as a question to God, but only as a rhetorical turn of the thought, that all further speaking or warning is in vain. "Testify," lay down testimony by exhibiting the sin and the punishment it brings with it. "That they may hear," ut audiant, the Chald. has well paraphrased: ut accipiant doctrinam. Uncircumcised is their ear, as it were covered with a foreskin, so that the voice of God's word cannot find its way in; cf. Jer 5:24; Jer 4:4. The second clause, introduced by הנּה, adduces the reason of their not being able to hear. The word of God is become a reproach to them; they are determined not to hearken to it, because it lashes their sins. Jer 6:11 comes in adversatively: But the fury of the Lord drives him to speak. חמת יהוה is not a holy ardour for Jahveh (Graf and many ancient comm.), but the wrath of God against the people, which the prophet cannot contain, i.e., keep to himself, but must pour out. Because they will not take correction, he must inflict the judgment upon them, not merely utter it. The imper. שׁפך is to be taken like השׁב, Jer 6:9, not as an expression of the irresistible necessity which, in spite of all his efforts against it, compels the prophet to pour forth, in a certain sense, the wrath of the Lord on all classes of the people by the very publishing of God's word (Graf); but it is the command of God, to be executed by him, as is shown by "for I stretch out mine hand," Jer 6:12. The prophet is to pour out the wrath of God by the proclamation of God's word, which finds its fulfilment in judgments of wrath; see on Jer 1:10. Upon all classes of the people: the children that play in the street (cf. Jer 9:20), the young men gathered together in a cheerful company, the men and women, old men and them that are full of days, i.e., those who have reached the furthest limit of old age. כּי tells why the prophet is so to speak: for upon the whole population will God's wrath be poured out. ילּכד, not, be taken captive, but, be taken, overtaken by the wrath, as in Jer 8:9; cf. Sa1 14:41.
Jer 6:12 gives the result of being thus taken: their houses, fields, and wives will be handed over to others, descend to others. Wives are mentioned along with houses and fields, as in the commandment, Exo 20:17; cf. Deu 5:18. The loss of all one's possessions is mentioned in connection with reproof, following in Jer 6:13, of greed and base avarice. The threatening is confirmed in Jer 6:12 by the clause: for I (Jahveh) stretch my hand out, etc. Then in Jer 6:13 and Jer 6:14 the cause of the judgment is adduced. The judgment falls upon all, for all, great and little, i.e., mean and powerful (cf. Jer 6:4, Jer 6:5), go after base gain; and the teachers, who ought to lead the people on the true way (Isa 30:21), sue deceit and dishonesty. They heal the breach of the daughter of my people, i.e., the infirmities and injuries of the state, after a light and frivolous fashion (נקלּה is partic.Niph. faem., and על is of the thing that covers another); - in this, namely, that they speak of peace and healing where there is no peace; that they do not uncover the real injuries so as to heal them thoroughly, but treat them as if they were trifling and in no way dangerous infirmities.
For this behaviour they are put to shame, i.e., deceived in their hope. The perf. is prophetic, representing the matter as being equally certain as if it had been already realized. It cannot bear to be translated either: they should be ashamed (Ros., Umbr. after the Chald.), or: they would be ashamed (Ew.). The following grounding clause adduces the cause of their being put to shame: because they have done abomination; and the next clauses bring in a contrast: yet on the contrary, shame and disgrace they know not; therefore on the day of visitation they will fall with the rest. When these verses are repeated in Jer 8:12, the Niph. הכּלם is used in place of the Hiph. הכלים. It does not, however, follow from this that the Hiph. has here the force of the Niph., but only thus much, that the Hiph. is here used, not in a transitive, but in a simply active meaning: to have shame or disgrace. For פּקדתּים with the relative omitted, time when I visit, we have in Jer 8:12 the simpler form of the noun פּקדּת, as in Jer 10:15; Jer 46:21, and often. Such divergencies do not justify the accommodation of the present passage to these others, since on occasions of repetitions the expression in matters of subordinate importance is often varied. The perf. of the verb has here the force of the fut. exact.
The judgment cannot be turned aside by mere sacrifice without a change of heart. - Jer 6:16. "Thus hath Jahveh said: Stand on the ways, and look, and ask after the everlasting paths, which (one) is the way of good, and walk therein; so shall ye find rest for your souls. But they say, We will not go. Jer 6:17. And I have set over you watchmen, (saying): Hearken to the sound of the trumpet; but they say, We will not hearken. Jer 6:18. Therefore hear, ye peoples, and know, thou congregation, what happens to them. Jer 6:19. Hear, O earth! Behold, I bring evil on this people, the fruit of their thoughts; for to my words they have not hearkened, and at my law they have spurned. Jer 6:20. To what end, then, is their incense coming to me from Sheba, and the good spice-cane from a far land? Your burnt-offerings are not a pleasure, and your slain-offerings are not grateful to me. Jer 6:21. Therefore thus hath Jahveh said: Behold, I lay stumbling-blocks for this people, that thereon fathers and sons may stumble, at once the neighbour and his friend shall perish."
The Lord has not left any lack of instruction and warning. He has marked out for them the way of salvation in the history of the ancient times. It is to this reference is made when they, in ignorance of the way to walk in, are called to ask after the everlasting paths. This thought is clothed thus: they are to step forth upon the ways, to place themselves where several ways diverge from one another, and inquire as to the everlasting paths, so as to discover which is the right way, and then on this they are to walk. נתיבות עולם are paths that have been trod in the hoary time of old, but not all sorts of ways, good and bad, which they are to walk on indiscriminately, so that it may be discovered which of them is the right one (Hitz.). This meaning is not to be inferred from the fact, that in Jer 18:15 everlasting paths are opposed to untrodden ways; indeed this very passage teaches that the everlasting ways are the right ones, from which through idolatry the people have wandered into unbeaten paths. Thus the paths of the old time are here the ways in which Israel's godly ancestors have trod; meaning substantially, the patriarchs' manner of thinking and acting. For the following question, "which is the way," etc., does not mean, amongst the paths of old time to seek out that which, as the right one, leads to salvation, but says simply thus much: ask after the paths of the old time, so as thus to recognise the right way, and then, when ye have found it, to walk therein. דּרך הטּוב, not, the good way; for הטּוב cannot be an objective appended to דּרך, since immediately after, the latter word is construed in בּהּ as faem. "The good" is the genitive dependent on "way:" way of the good, that leads to the good, to salvation. This way Israel might learn to know from the history of antiquity recorded in the Torah. Graf has brought the sense well out in this shape: "Look inquiringly backwards to ancient history (Deu 32:7), and see how success and enduring prosperity forsook your fathers when they left the way prescribed to them by God, to walk in the ways of the heathen (Jer 18:15); learn that there is but one way, the way of the fear of Jahveh, on which blessing and salvation are to be found (Jer 32:39-40)." Find (with ו consec.), and find thus = so shall ye find; cf. Ew. 347, b; Ges. 130, 2. To "we will not go," we may supply from the context: on the way of good.
But God does not let the matter end here. He caused prophets to rise up amongst them, who called their attention to the threatening evil. Watchers are prophets, Eze 3:17, who stand upon the watch-tower to keep a lookout, Hab 2:1, and to give the people warning, by proclaiming what they have seen in spirit. "Hearken to the sound," etc., are not the words of the watchmen (prophets), for it is they who blow the trumpet, but the words of God; so that we have to supply, "and I said." The comparison of the prophets to watchmen, who give the alarm of the imminent danger by means of the sound of the trumpet, involves the comparison of the prophets' utterances to the clang of the signal-horn-suggested besides by Amo 3:6.
Judah being thus hardened, the Lord makes known to the nations what He has determined regarding it; cf. Mic 1:2. The sense of "Know, thou congregation," etc., is far from clear, and has been very variously given. Ros., Dahl., Maur., Umbr., and others, understand עדה of the congregation or assembly of the foreign nations; but the word cannot have this meaning without some further qualifying word. Besides, a second mention of the nations is not suitable to the context. the congregation must be that of Israel. The only question can be, whether we are by this to think of the whole people (of Judah), (Chald, Syr., Ew., and others), or whether it is the company of the ungodly that is addressed, as in the phrase עדת קרח(Hitz.). But there is little probability in the view, that the crew of the ungodly is addressed along with the nations and the earth. Not less open to debate is the construction of את־אשׁר־בּם. In any case little weight can be attached to Hitz.'s assumption, that את is used only to mark out the אשׁר as relative pronoun: observe it, O company that is amidst them. The passages, Jer 38:16 (Chet.), and Ecc 4:3, where את seems to have this force, are different in kind; for a definite noun precedes, and to it the relation את־אשׁרis subjoined. And then what, on this construction, is the reference of בּם, amidst them? Hitz. has said nothing on this point. But it could only be referred to "peoples:" the company which is amidst the peoples; and this gives no reasonable sense. These three words can only be object to "know:" know what is amongst (in) them; or: what is or happens to them (against them). It has been taken in the first sense by Chald. (their sins), Umbr., Maur.: what happens in or amongst them; in the second by Ros., Dahl.: what I shall do against them. Ewald, again, without more ado, changes בּם into בּא: know, thou congregation, what is coming. By this certainly a suitable sense is secured; but there are no sufficient reasons for a change of the text, it is the mere expedient of embarrassment. All the ancient translators have read the present text; even the translation of the lxx: καὶ οἱ ποιμαίνοντες τὰ ποίμνια αὐτῶν, has been arrived at by a confounding of letters (דעי עדה with רעי עדר). We understand "congregation" of Israel, i.e., not of the whole people of Judah, but of those to whom the title "congregation" was applicable, i.e., of the godly, small as their number might be. Accordingly, we are not to refer את־אשׁר בּםto "peoples:" what is occurring amidst the peoples, viz., that they are coming to besiege Jerusalem, etc. (Jer 6:3.). Nor is it to be referred to those in Judah who, according to Jer 6:16 and Jer 6:17, do not walk in the right way, and will not give ear to the sound of the trumpet. The latter reference, acc. to which the disputed phrase would be translated: what will happen to them (against them), seems more feasible, and corresponds better to the parallelism of Jer 6:18 and Jer 6:19, since this corresponds better to the parallelism of Jer 6:18 and Jer 6:19, since this same phrase is then explained in Jer 6:19 by: I bring evil upon this people.
(Note: So that we cannot hold, with Graf, that the reading of the text is "manifestly corrupted;" still less do we hold as substantiated or probable his conjectural reading: וּדעוּ אשׁר הע, and know what I have testified against them.)
In Jer 6:19 the evil is characterized as a punishment drawn down by them on themselves by means of the apposition: fruit of their thoughts. "Fruit of their thoughts," not of their deeds (Isa 3:10), in order to mark the hostility of the evil heart towards God. God's law is put in a place of prominence by the turn of the expression: My law, and they spurned at it; cf. Ew. 344, b, with 309, b.
The people had no shortcoming in the matter of sacrifice in the temple; but in this service, as being mere outward service of works, the Lord has no pleasure, if the heart is estranged from Him, rebels against His commandments. Here we have the doctrine, to obey is better than sacrifice, Sa1 15:22. The Lord desires that men do justice, exercise love, and walk humbly with Him, Mic 6:8. Sacrifice, as opus operatum, is denounced by all the prophets: cf. Hos 6:6; Amo 5:21., Isa 1:11; Psa 50:8. Incense from Sheba (see on Eze 27:22) was required partly for the preparation of the holy incense (Exo 30:34), partly as an addition to the meat-offerings, Lev 2:1, Lev 2:15, etc. Good, precious cane, is the aromatic reed, calamus odoratus (Exo 30:23), calamus from a far country - namely, brought from India - and used in the preparation of the anointing oil; see on Exo 30:23. לרצון is from the language of the Torah; cf. Lev 1:3., Jer 22:19., Exo 28:38; and with לא: not to well-pleasing, sc. before Jahveh, i.e., they cannot procure for the offerers the pleasure or favour of God. With לא ערבוּ לי cf. Hos 9:4.
Therefore the Lord will lay stumbling-blocks before the people, whereby they all come to grief. The stumbling-blocks by which the people are to fall and perish, are the inroads, of the enemies, whose formidableness is depicted in Jer 6:22. The idea of totality is realized by individual cases in "fathers and sons, neighbour and his friend." יחדּו belongs to the following clause, and not the Keri, but the Cheth. יאבדוּ, is the true reading. The Keri is formed after the analogy of Jer 46:6 and Jer 50:32; but it is unsuitable, since then we would require, as in the passages cited, to have נפל in direct connection with כּשׁל.
A distant, cruel people will execute the judgment, since Judah, under the trial, has proved to be worthless metal. - Jer 6:22. "Thus hath Jahveh said: Behold, a people cometh from the land of the north, and a great nation raises itself from the furthermost sides of the earth. Jer 6:23. Bows and javelins they bear; cruel it is, and they have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and on horses they ride, equipped as a man for the war against thee, daughter of Zion. Jer 6:24. We heard the rumour thereof: weak are our hands: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail. Jer 6:25. Go not forth into the field, and in the way walk not; for a sword hath the enemy, fear is all around. Jer 6:26. O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and besprinkle thee with ashes; make mourning for an only son, butter lamentation: for suddenly shall the spoiler come upon us. Jer 6:27. For a trier have I set thee among my people as a strong tower, that thou mightest know and try their way. Jer 6:28. They are all revolters of revolters; go about as slanderers; brass and iron; they are all dealing corruptingly. Jer 6:29. Burned are the bellows by the fire, at an end is the lead; in vain they melt and melt; and wicked ones are not separated. Jer 6:30. Rejected silver they call them, for Jahveh hath rejected them."
In Jer 6:22 the stumbling-blocks of Jer 6:21 are explained. At the end of this discourse yet again the invasion of the enemy from the far north is announced, cf. Jer 4:13 and Jer 5:15, and its terribleness is portrayed with new colours. The farther the land is from which the enemy comes, the more strange and terrible he appears to the imagination. The farthest (hindmost) sides of the earth (cf. Jer 25:32) is only a heightening of the idea: land of the north, or of the far distance (Jer 5:15); in other words, the far uttermost north (cf. Isa 14:13). In this notice of their home, Hitz. finds a proof that the enemies were the Scythians, not the Chaldeans; since, acc. to Eze 38:6, Eze 38:15, and Eze 39:2, Gog, i.e., The Scythians, come "from the sides of the north." But "sides of the earth" is not a geographical term for any particular northern country, but only for very remote lands; and that the Chaldeans were reckoned as falling within this term, is shown by the passage Jer 31:8, according to which Israel is to be gathered again from the land of the north and from the sides of the earth. Here any connection with Scythia in "sides of the earth" is not to be thought of, since prophecy knows nothing of a captivity of Israel in Scythia, but regards Assur and Babylon alone as the lands of the exile of Israelites and Jews. As weapons of the enemy then are mentioned bows (cf. Jer 4:29; Jer 5:16), and the javelin or lance (כּידון, not shield; see on Sa1 17:6). It is cruel, knows no pity, and is so numerous and powerful, that its voice, i.e., the tumult of its approach, is like the roaring of the sea; cf. Isa 5:30; Isa 17:12. On horses they ride; cf. Jer 4:13; Jer 8:16; Hab 1:8. ערוּך in the singular, answering to "cruel it is," points back to גּוי or כּאישׁ . is not for כּאישׁ אחד (Ros.), but for כּאישׁ מלחמה, cf. Sa1 17:33; Isa 42:13; and the genitive is omitted only because of the למלחמה coming immediately after (Graf). "Against thee" is dependent on ערוּך: equipped as a warrior is equipped for the war, against the daughter of Zion. In Jer 6:24-26 are set forth the terrors and the suspense which the appearance of the foe will spread abroad. In Jer 6:24 the prophet, as a member of the people, gives utterance to its feelings. As to the sense, the clauses are to be connected thus: As soon as we hear the rumour of the people, i.e., of its approach, our hands become feeble through dread, all power to resist vanishes: cf. Isa 13:7; and for the metaphor of travail, Isa 13:8; Mic 4:9, etc. In v. 28 the inhabitants of Jerusalem, personified as the daughter of Zion, are warned not to go forth of the city into the field or about the country, lest they fall into the enemies' hands and be put to death. מגור מסּביב, often used by Jeremiah, cf. Jer 20:3, Jer 20:10; Jer 46:5; Jer 49:29, and, as Jer 20:10 shows, taken from Psa 31:14. Fear or terrors around, i.e., on all sides danger and destruction threaten.
Sorest affliction will seize the inhabitants of Jerusalem. As to "daughter of my people," cf. Jer 4:11; on "gird thee with sackcloth," cf. Jer 4:8. To bestrew the head with ashes is a mode of expressing the greatest affliction; cf. Eze 27:30; Mic 1:10. אבל as in Amo 8:10; Zac 12:10.
The closing verses of this discourse (Jer 6:27-30) are regarded by Hitz. as a meditation upon the results of his labours. "He was to try the people, and he found it to be evil." But in this he neglects the connection of these verses with the preceding. From the conclusion of Jer 6:30, "Jahveh hath rejected them," we may see that they stand connected in matter with the threatening of the spoiler; and the fact is put beyond a doubt when we compare together the greater subdivisions of the present discourse. The Jer 6:27-30 correspond in substance with the view given in Jer 5:30-31 of the moral character of the people. As that statement shows the reasons for the threatening that God must take vengeance on such a people (Jer 5:29), so what is said in the verses before us explain why it is threatened that a people approaching from the north will execute judgment without mercy on the daughter of Zion. For these verses do not tell us only the results of the prophet's past labours, but they at the same time indicate that his further efforts will be without effect. The people is like copper and iron, unproductive of either gold or silver; and so the smelting process is in vain. The illustration and the thing illustrated are not strictly discriminated in the statement. בּחון is adject. verb. with active force: he that tries metal, that by smelting separates the slag from the gold and silver ore; cf. Zac 13:9; Job 23:10. מבצר creates a difficulty, and is very variously understood. The ancient comm. have interpreted it, according to Jer 1:18, as either in a fortress, or as a fortress. So the Chald., changing בחון for בחור: electum dedi te in populo meo, in urbe munita forti. Jerome: datur propheta populo incredulo probator robustus, quod ebraice dicitur מבצר, quod vel munitum juxta Aquil., vel clausum atque circumdatum juxta Symm. et lxx sonat. The extant text of the lxx has ἐν λαοῖς δεδοκιμασμένοις. Following the usage of the language, we are justified only in taking מבצר as apposition to בּחון, or to the suffix in נתתּיך; in which case Luther's connection of it with עמּי, "among my people, which is so hard," will appear to be impossible. But again, it has been objected, not without reason, that the reference of "fortress" to Jeremiah is here opposed to the context, while in Jer 1:18 it falls well in with it; consequently other interpretations have been attempted. Gaab, Maur., Hitz., have taken note of the fact that בּצר occurs in Job 36:19, like בּצר in the signification of gold; they take מבצר as a contraction for מן בצר, and expound: without gold, i.e., although then was there no gold, to try for which was thy task. To this view Graf has objected: the testing would be wholly purposeless, if it was already declared beforehand that there was no noble metal in the people. But this objection is not conclusive; for the testing could only have as its aim to exhibit the real character of the people, so as to bring home to the people's apprehension what was already well known to God. These are weightier considerations: 1. We cannot make sure of the meaning gold-ore for בּצר by means of Job 36:19, since the interpretation there is open to dispute; and בּצר, Job 22:24, does not properly mean gold, but unworked ore, though in its connection with the context we must understand virgin gold and silver ore in its natural condition. Here, accordingly, we would be entitled to translate only: without virgin ore, native metal. 2. The choice of a word so unusual is singular, and the connection of מבצר with עמּי htiw is still very harsh. Yet less satisfactory is the emendation defended by J. D. Mich., Dahl, Ew., and Graf, מבצּר: "for a trier have I made thee among my people, for a separater;" for בּצר has in Heb. only the meaning cut off and fortify, and the Pi. occurs in Isa 22:10 and Jer 51:53 in the latter meaning, whereas the signif. separate, discriminate, can be maintained neither from Hebrew nor Arabic usage. The case being so, it seems to us that the interpretation acc. to Jer 1:18 has most to be said for it: To be a trier have I set thee amid my people "as a strong tower;" and to this Ges., Dietr. in Lex. s.v., adhere.
Jer 6:28 gives a statement as to the moral character of the people. "Revolters of revolters" is a kind of superlative, and סרי is to be derived from סרר, not from סוּר, perverse of perverse; or, as Hitz., imitating the Heb. phrase, rebels of the rebellious. Going about as slanderers, see on Lev 19:16, in order to bring others into difficulties; cf. Eze 22:9. To this is subjoined the figurative expression: brass and iron, i.e., ignoble metal as contrasted with gold and silver, cf. Eze 22:18; and to this, again, the unfigurative statement: they are all dealing corruptingly. משׁחיתים, cf. Isa 1:4; Deu 31:29. There is no sufficient reason for joining כּלּם with the preceding: brass and iron, as Hitz. and Graf do in defiance of the accents.
The trial of the people has brought about no purification, no separation of the wicked ones. The trial is viewed under the figure of a long-continued but resultless process of smelting. נחר, Niph. from חרר, to be burnt, scorched, as in Eze 15:4. מאשׁתּם is to be broken up, as in the Keri, into two words: מאשׁ and תּם (from תמם). For there does not occur any feminine form אשּׁה from אשׁ, nor any plural אשּׁת (even אשּׁה forms the plur. אשּׁים), so as to admit of our reading מאשּׁתם or מאשּׁתם. Nor would the plur., if there were one, be suitable; Ew.'s assertion that אשּׁות means flames of fire is devoid of all proof. We connect מאשׁ with what precedes: Burnt are the bellows with fire, at an end is the lead. Others attach "by the fire" to what follows: By the fire is the lead consumed. The thought is in either case the same, only תּם is not the proper word for: to be consumed. Sense: the smelting has been carried on so perseveringly, that the bellows have been scorched by the heat of the fire, and the lead added in order to get the ore into fusion is used up; but they have gone on smelting quite in vain. צרף with indefinite subject, and the infin. absol. added to indicate the long duration of the experiment. In the last clause of the verse the result is mentioned in words without a figure: The wicked have not been separated out (prop., torn asunder from the mass).
The final statement of the case: They call them (the whole people) rejected silver, i.e., they are recognised as such; for Jahveh has rejected them, has given over trying to make anything of them.