Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
"And Jahveh said unto me: If Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet would not my soul incline to this people. Drive them from my face, that they go forth. Jer 15:2. And if they say to thee: Whither shall we go forth? then say to them: Thus hath Jahveh said - Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. Jer 15:3. And I appoint over them four kinds, saith Jahveh: the sword to slay and the dogs to tear, the fowls of the heaven and the cattle of the earth, to devour and destroy. Jer 15:4. And I give them up to be abused to all kingdoms of the earth, for Manasseh's sake, the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem. Jer 15:5. For who shall have pity upon thee, Jerusalem? and who shall bemoan thee? and who shall go aside to ask after thy welfare? Jer 15:6. Thou hast rejected me, saith Jahveh; thou goest backwards, and so I stretch forth mine hand against thee and destroy thee; I am weary of repenting. Jer 15:7. And I fan them with a fain into the gates of the land: bereave, ruin my people; from their ways they turned not. Jer 15:8. More in number are his widows become unto me than the sand of the sea; I bring to them, against the mother of the young man, a spoiler at noon-day; I cause to fall upon her suddenly anguish and terrors. Jer 15:9. She that hath borne seven languisheth, she breatheth out her soul, her sun goeth down while yet it is day, she is put to shame and confounded; and their residue I give to the sword before their enemies, saith Jahveh."
The Lord had indeed distinctly refused the favour sought for Judah; yet the command to disclose to the people the sorrow of his own soul at their calamity (Jer 15:17 and Jer 15:18) gave the prophet courage to renew his supplication, and to ask of the Lord if He had in very truth cast off Judah and Zion (Jer 15:19), and to set forth the reasons which made this seem impossible (Jer 15:20 -22). In the question, Jer 15:19, the emphasis lies on the מאסתּ, strengthened as it is by the inf. abs.: hast Thou utterly or really rejected? The form of the question is the same as that in Jer 2:14; first the double question, dealing with a state of affairs which the questioner is unable to regard as being actually the case, and then a further question, conveying wonder at what has happened. גּעל, loathe, cast from one, is synonymous with מאס. The second clause agrees verbally with Jer 8:15. The reasons why the Lord cannot have wholly rejected Judah are: 1. That they acknowledge their wickedness. Confession of sin is the beginning of return to God; and in case of such return, the Lord, by His compassion, has vouchsafed to His people forgiveness and the renewal of covenant blessings; cf. Lev 26:41., Deu 30:2. Along with their own evil doing, the transgression of their fathers is mentioned, cf. Jer 2:5., Jer 7:25., that full confession may be made of the entire weight of wickedness for which Israel has made itself answerable. So that, on its own account, Judah has no claim upon the help of its God. But the Lord may be moved thereto by regard for His name and the covenant relation. On this is founded the prayer of Jer 15:21 : Abhor not, sc. thy people, for Thy name's sake, lest Thou appear powerless to help in the eyes of the nations; see on Jer 15:7 and on Num 14:16. נבּל, lit., to treat as fools, see on Deu 32:15, here: make contemptible. The throne of the glory of God is the temple, where Jahveh sits enthroned over the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies, Exo 25:22, etc. The destruction of Jerusalem would, by the sack of the temple, dishonour the throne of the Lord. The object to "remember," viz., "Thy covenant," comes after "break not." The remembering or rememberedness of the covenant is shown in the not breaking maintenance of the same; cf. Lev 26:44. Lastly, we have in v. 22 the final motive for supplication: that the Lord alone can put an end to trouble. Neither the vain gods of the heathen (הבלים, see Jer 8:19) can procure rain, nor can the heaven, as one of the powers of nature, without power from God. אתּה הוּא, Thou art (הוּא is the copula between subject and predicate). Thou hast made all these. Not: the heaven and the earth, as Hitz. and Gr. would make it, after Isa 37:16; still less is it, with Calv.: the punishment inflicted on us; but, as אלּה demands, the things mentioned immediately before: caelum, pluvias et quidquid est in omni rerum natura, Ros. Only when thus taken, does the clause contain any motive for: we wait upon Thee, i.e., expect from Thee help out of our trouble. It further clearly appears from this verse that the supplication was called forth by the calamity depicted in Jer 15:2-5.
Decisive refusal of the petition. - Jer 15:1. Even Moses and Samuel, who stood so far in God's favour that by their supplications they repeatedly rescued their people from overwhelming ruin (cf. Exo 17:11; Exo 32:11., Num 14:13., and Sa1 7:9., Jer 12:17., Psa 99:6), if they were to come now before the Lord, would not incline His love towards this people. אל indicates the direction of the soul towards any one; in this connection: the inclination of it towards the people. He has cast off this people and will no longer let them come before His face. In Jer 15:2-9 this is set forth with terrible earnestness. We must supply the object, "this people," to "drive" from the preceding clause. "From my face" implies the people's standing before the Lord in the temple, where they had appeared bringing sacrifices, and by prayer invoking His help (Jer 14:12). To go forth from the temple = to go forth from God's face. Jer 15:2. But in case they ask where they are to go to, Jeremiah is to give them the sarcastic direction: Each to the destruction allotted to him. He that is appointed to death, shall go forth to death, etc. The clauses: such as are for death, etc., are to be filled up after the analogy of Sa2 15:20; Kg2 8:1, so that before the second "death," "sword," etc., we supply the verb "shall go." There are mentioned four kinds of punishments that are to befall the people. The "death" mentioned over and above the sword is death by disease, for which we have in Jer 14:12 דּבר, pestilence, disease; cf. Jer 43:11, where death, captivity, and sword are mentioned together, with Eze 14:21, sword, famine, wild beasts, and disease (דּבר), and Eze 33:27, sword, wild beasts, and disease. This doom is made more terrible in Jer 15:3. The Lord will appoint over them (פּקד as in Jer 13:21) four kinds, i.e., four different destructive powers which shall prepare a miserable end for them. One is the sword already mentioned in Jer 15:2, which slays them; the three others are to execute judgment on the dead: the dogs which shall tear, mutilate, and partly devour the dead bodies (cf. Kg2 9:35, Kg2 9:37), and birds and beasts of prey, vultures, jackals, and others, which shall make an end of such portions as are left by the dogs. In Jer 15:4 the whole is summed up in the threatening of Deu 28:25, that the people shall be delivered over to be abused to all the kingdoms of the earth, and the cause of this terrible judgment is mentioned. The Chet. זועה is not to be read זועה, but זועה, and is the contracted form from זעוה, see on Deu 28:25, from the rad. זוּע, lit., tossing hither and thither, hence for maltreatment. For the sake of King Manasseh, who by his godless courses had filled up the measure of the people's sins, so that the Lord must cast Judah away from His face, and give it up to the heathen to be chastised; cf. Kg2 23:26; Kg2 24:3, with the exposition of these passages; and as to what Manasseh did, see 2 Kings 21:1-16.
In Jer 15:5-9 we have a still further account of this appalling judgment and its causes. The grounding כּי in Jer 15:5 attaches to the central thought of Jer 15:4. The sinful people will be given up to all the kingdoms of the earth to be ill used, for no one will or can have compassion on Jerusalem, since its rejection by God is a just punishment for its rejection of the Lord (Jer 15:6). "Have pity" and "bemoan" denote loving sympathy for the fall of the unfortunate. חמל, to feel sympathy; נוּד, to lament and bemoan. סוּר, to swerve from the straight way, and turn aside or enter into any one's house; cf. Gen 19:2., Exo 3:3, etc. ל שׁאל לשׁלום, to inquire of one as to his health, cf. Exo 18:7; then: to salute one, to desire לך שׁלום, Gen 43:27; Jdg 18:15, and often. Not only will none show sympathy for Jerusalem, none will even ask how it goes with her welfare.
The reason of this treatment: because Jerusalem has dishonoured and rejected its God, therefore He now stretched out His hand to destroy it. To go backwards, instead of following the Lord, cf. Jer 7:24. This determination the Lord will not change, for He is weary of repenting. הנּחם frequently of the withdrawal, in grace and pity, of a divine decree to punish, cf. Jer 4:28, Gen 6:6., Joe 2:14, etc.
ואזרם is a continuation of ואט, Jer 15:6, and, like the latter, is to be understood prophetically of what God has irrevocably determined to do. It is not a description of what is past, an allusion to the battle lost at Megiddo, as Hitz., carrying out his priori system of slighting prophecy, supposes. To take the verbs of this verse as proper preterites, as J. D. Mich. and Ew. also do, is not in keeping with the contents of the clauses. In the first clause Ew. and Gr. translate שׁערי gates, i.e., exits, boundaries of the earth, and thereby understand the remotest lands of the earth, the four corners of extremities of the earth, Isa 11:12 (Ew.). But "gates" cannot be looked on as corners or extremities, nor are they ends or borders, but the inlets and outlets of cities. For how can a man construe to himself the ends of the earth as the outlets of it? where could one go to from there? Hence it is impossible to take הארץ of the earth in this case; it is the land of Judah. The gates of the land are either mentioned by synecdoche for the cities, cf. Mic 5:5, or are the approaches to the land (cf. Nah 3:13), its outlets and inlets. Here the context demands the latter sense. זרה, to fan, c. בּ loci, to scatter into a place, cf. Eze 12:15; Eze 30:26 : fan into the outlets of the land, i.e., cast out of the land. שׁכּל, make the people childless, by the fall in battle of the sons, the young men, cf. Eze 5:17. The threat is intensified by אבּדתּי, added as asyndeton. The last clause: from their ways, etc., subjoins the reason.
By the death of the sons, the women lose their husbands, and become widows. לי is the dative of sympathetic interest. "Sand of the sea" is the figure for a countless number. ימּים is poetic plural; cf. Psa 78:27; Job 6:3. On these defenceless women come suddenly spoilers, and these mothers who had perhaps borne seven sons give up the ghost and perish without succour, because their sons have fallen in war. Thus proceeds the portrayal as Hitz. has well exhibited it. על אם בּחוּר is variously interpreted. We must reject the view taken by Chr. B. Mich. from the Syr. and Arab. versions: upon mother and young man; as also the view of Rashi, Cler., Eichh., Dahl., etc., that אם means the mother-city, i.e., Jerusalem. The true rendering is that of Jerome and Kimchi, who have been followed by J. D. Mich., Hitz., Ew., Graf, and Ng.: upon the mother of the youth or young warrior. This view is favoured by the correspondence of the woman mentioned in Job 6:9 who had borne seven sons. Both are individualized as women of full bodily vigour, to lend vividness to the thought that no age and no sex will escape destruction בּצּהרים, at clear noontide, when one least looks for an attack. Thus the word corresponds with the "suddenly" of the next clause. עיר, Aramaic form for ציר, Isa 13:8, pangs. The bearer of seven, i.e., the mother of many sons. Seven as the perfect number of children given in blessing by God, cf. Sa1 2:5; Rut 4:15. "She breathes to her life," cf. Job 31:39. Graf wrongly: she sighs. The sun of her life sets (בּאה) while it is still day, before the evening of her life has been reached, cf. Amo 8:9. "Is put to shame and confounded" is not to be referred to the son, but the mother, who, bereaved of her children, goes covered with shame to the grave. The Keri בּא for בּאה is an unnecessary change, since שׁמשׁ is also construed as fem., Gen 15:17. The description closes with a glance cast on those left in life after the overthrow of Jerusalem. These are to be given to the sword when in flight before their enemies, cf. Mic 6:14.
Complaint of the Prophet, and Soothing Answer of the Lord. - His sorrow at the rejection by God of his petition so overcomes the prophet, that he gives utterance to the wish: he had rather not have been born than live on in the calling in which he must ever foretell misery and ruin to his people, thereby provoking hatred and attacks, while his heart is like to break for grief and fellow-feeling; whereupon the Lord reprovingly replies as in Jer 15:11-14.
"Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast born me, a man of strive and contention to all the earth! I have not lent out, nor have men lent to me; all curse me. Jer 15:11. Jahveh saith, Verily I strengthen thee to thy good; verily I cause the enemy to entreat thee in the time of evil and of trouble. Jer 15:12. Does iron break, iron from the north and brass? Jer 15:13. Thy substance and thy treasures give I for a prey without a price, and that for all thy sins, and in all thy borders, Jer 15:14. And cause thine enemies bring it into a land which thou knowest not; for fire burneth in mine anger, against you it is kindled."
Woe is me, exclaims Jeremiah in Jer 15:10, that my mother brought me forth! The apostrophe to his mother is significant of the depth of his sorrow, and is not to be understood as if he were casting any reproach on his mother; it is an appeal to his mother to share with him his sorrow at his lot. This lament is consequently very different from Job's cursing of the day of his birth, Job 3:1. The apposition to the suffix "me," the man of strife and contention, conveys the meaning of the lament in this wise: me, who must yet be a man, with whom the whole world strives and contends. Ew. wrongly render it: "to be a man of strife," etc.; for it was not his mother's fault that he became such an one. The second clause intimates that he has not provoked the strife and contention. נשׁה, lend, i.e., give on loan, and with בּ, to lend to a person, lend out; hence נשׁה, debtor, and נשׁה בו, creditor, Isa 24:2. These words are not an individualizing of the thought: all interchange of friendly services between me and human society is broken off (Hitz.). For intercourse with one's fellow-men does not chiefly, or in the foremost place, consist in lending and borrowing of gold and other articles. Borrowing and lending is rather the frequent occasion of strife and ill-will;
(Note: Calvin aptly remarks: Unde enim inter homines et lites et jurgia, nisi quia male inter ipsos convenit, dum ultro et citro negotiantur?)
and it is in this reference that it is here brought up. Jeremiah says he has neither as bad debtor or disobliging creditor given occasion to hatred and quarrelling, and yet all curse him. This is the meaning of the last words, in which the form מקללוני is hard to explain. The rabbinical attempts to clear it up by means of a commingling of the verbs קלל and קלה are now, and reasonably, given up. Ew. (Gram. 350, c) wants to make it מקללנני; but probably the form has arisen merely out of the wrong dividing of a word, and ought to be read כּלּהם קללוּני. So read most recent scholars, after the example of J. D. Mich.; cf. also Bttcher, Grammat. ii. S. 322, note. It is true that we nowhere else find כּלּהם; but we find an analogy in the archaic כּלּהם . In its favour we have, besides, the circumstance, that the heavy form הם is by preference appended to short words; see Bttcher, as above, S. 21.
To this complaint the Lord makes answer in Jer 15:11-14, first giving the prophet the prospect of complete vindication against those that oppose him (Jer 15:11), and then (Jer 15:12-14) pointing to the circumstances that shall compel the people to this result. The introduction of God's answer by אמר יהוה without כּה is found also in Jer 46:25, where Graf erroneously seeks to join the formula with what precedes. In the present 11th verse the want of the כּה is the less felt, since the word from the Lord that follows bears in the first place upon the prophet himself, and is not addressed to the people. אם לא is a particle of asseveration, introducing the answer which follows with a solemn assurance. The vowel-points of שׁרותך fo require שׁריתיך, 1 pers. perf., from שׁרה = the Aram. שׁרא, loose, solve (Dan 5:12): I loose (free) thee to thy good. The Chet. is variously read and rendered. By reason of the preceding אם, the view is improbable that we have here an infinitive; either שׁרותך, inf. Pi. of שׁרר in the sig. inflict suffering: "thy affliction becomes welfare" (Hitz.); or שׁרותך, inf. Kal of שׁרה, set free: thy release falls out to thy good (Ros., etc.). The context suggests the 1 pers. perf. of שׁרר, against which the defective written form is no argument, since this occurs frequently elsewhere, e.g., ענּתך, Nah 1:12. The question remains: whether we are to take שׁרר according to the Hebrew usage: I afflict thee to thy good, harass thee to thine advantage (Gesen. in the thes. p. 1482, and Ng.), or according to the Aramaic (_ra) in the sig. firmabo, stabiliam: I strengthen thee or support thee to thy good (Ew., Maur.). We prefer the latter rendering, because the saying: I afflict thee, is not true of God; since the prophet's troubles came not from God, nor is Jeremiah complaining of affliction at the hand of God, but only that he was treated as an enemy by all the world. לטוב, for good, as in Psa 119:122, so that it shall fall out well for thee, lead to a happy issue, for which we have elsewhere לטובה, Jer 14:11, Psa 86:17; Neh 5:19. - This happy issue is disclosed in the second clause: I bring it about that the enemy shall in time of trouble turn himself in supplication to thee, because he shall recognise in the prophet's prayers the only way of safety; cf. the fulfilment of this promise, Jer 21:1., Jer 37:3; Jer 38:14., Jer 42:2. הפנּיע, here causative, elsewhere only with the sig. of the Kal, e.g., Jer 36:25, Isa 53:12. "The enemy," in unlimited generality: each of thine adversaries.
That the case will turn out so is intimated by Jer 15:12-14, the exposition of which is, however, difficult and much debated. Jer 15:12 is rendered either: can iron (ordinary iron) break northern iron and brass (the first "iron" being taken as subject, the second as object)? or: can one break iron, (namely) iron of the north, and brass ("iron" being taken both times as object, and "break" having its subject indefinite)? or: can iron...break (ירוע intrans. as in Jer 11:16)? Of these three translations the first has little probability, inasmuch as the simile of one kind of iron breaking another is unnatural. But Hitz.'s view is wholly unnatural: that the first "iron" and "brass" are the object, and that "iron from the north" is subject, standing as it does between the two objects, as in Sol 5:6, where, however, the construction alleged is still very doubtful. Nor does the sense, which would in this way be expressed, go far to commend this rendering. By iron and brass we would then have to understand, according to Jer 6:28, the stiff-necked Jewish people; and by iron from the north, the calamity that was to come from the north. Thus the sense would be: will this calamity break the sullen obstinacy of the prophet's enemies? will it make them pliable? The verse would thus contain an objection on the part of the prophet against the concession vouchsafed by God in Jer 15:11. With this idea, however, Jer 15:11-14 are emphatically not in harmony. The other two translations take each a different view of the sense. The one party understand by iron and brass the prophet; the other, either the Jewish people or the northern might of the Chaldean empire. Holding that the prophet is so symbolized, L. de Dieu and Umbr. give the sense thus: "Let him but bethink him of his immoveable firmness against the onsets of the world; in spite of all, he is iron, northern iron and brass, that cannot be broken." Thus God would here be speaking to the prophet. Dahl., again, holds the verse to be spoken by the prophet, and gives the sense: Can I, a frail and feeble man, break the determination of a numerous and stiff-necked nation? Against the later view the objection already alleged against Hitz. is decisive, showing as it did that the verse cannot be the prophet's speech or complaint; against the former, the improbability that God would call the prophet iron, northern iron and brass, when the very complaint he has making showed how little of the firmness of iron he had about him. If by the northern iron we understand the Jewish people, then God would here say to the prophet, that he should always contend in vain against the stiff-neckedness of the people (Eichh.). This would have been but small comfort for him. But the appellation of northern iron does not at all fit the Jewish people. For the observation that the hardest iron, the steel made by the Chalybes in Pontus, was imported from the north, does not serve the turn; since a distinction between ordinary iron and very hard iron nowhere else appears in the Old Testament. The attribute "from the north" points manifestly to the iron sway of the Chaldean empire (Ros., Ew., Maur., and many others); and the meaning of the verse can only be this: As little as a man can break iron, will the Jewish people be able to break the hostile power of the north (Jer 13:20). Taken thus, the pictorial style of the verse contains a suggestion that the adversaries of the prophet will, by the crushing power of the Chaldeans, be reduced to the condition of turning themselves in supplication to the prophet.
With this Jer 15:13 and Jer 15:14 are thus connected: This time of evil and tribulation (Jer 15:10) will not last long. Their enemies will carry off the people's substance and treasures as their booty into a strange land. These verses are to be taken, with Umbr., as a declaration from the mouth of the Lord to His guilt-burdened people. This appears from the contents of the verses. The immediate transition from the address to the prophet to that to the people is to be explained by the fact, that both the prophet's complaint, Jer 15:10, and God's answer, Jer 15:11-13, have a full bearing on the people; the prophet's complaint at the attacks on the part of the people serving to force them to a sense of their obstinacy against the Lord, and God's answer to the complaint, that the prophet's announcement will come true, and that he will then be justified, serving to crush their sullen doggedness. The connection of thought in Jer 15:13 and Jer 15:14 is thus: The people that so assaults thee, by reason of thy threatening judgment, will not break the iron might of the Chaldeans, but will by them be overwhelmed. It will come about as thou hast declared to them in my name; their substance and their treasures will I give as booty to the Chaldeans. לא = בּלא מחיר, Isa 55:1, not for purchase-money, i.e., freely. As God sells His people for nought, i.e., gives them up to their enemies (cf. Isa 52:3; Psa 44:13), so here He threatens to deliver up their treasures to the enemy as a booty, and for nought. When Graf says that this last thought has no sufficient meaning, his reasons therefor do not appear. Nor is there anything "peculiar," or such as could throw suspicion on the passage, in the juxtaposition of the two qualifying phrases: and that for all thy sins, and in all thy borders. The latter phrase bears unmistakeably on the treasures, not on the sins. "Cause...to bring it," lit., I cause them (the treasures) to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not, i.e., I cause the enemies to bring them, etc. Hitz. and Graf erroneously: I carry thine enemies away into a land; which affords no suitable sense. The grounding clause: for hire, etc., is taken from Deu 32:22, to show that the threatening of judgment contained in Moses' song is about to come upon degenerate Judah. "Against you it is kindled" apply the words to Jeremiah's contemporaries.
(Note: Jer 15:11-14 are pronounced spurious by Hitz., Graf, and Ng., on the ground that Jer 15:13 and Jer 15:14 are a mere quotation, corrupted in the text, from Jer 17:3-4, and that all the three verses destroy the connection, containing an address to the people that does not at all fit into the context. But the interruption of the continuity could at most prove that the verses had got into a wrong place, as is supposed by Ew., who transposes them, and puts them next to Jer 15:9. But for this change in place there are no sufficient grounds, since, as our exposition of them shows, the verses in question can be very well understood in the place which they at present occupy. The other allegation, that Jer 15:13 and Jer 15:14 are a quotation, corrupted in text, from Jer 17:3-4, is totally without proof. In Jer 17:3-4 we have simply the central thoughts of the present passage repeated, but modified to suit their new context, after the manner characteristic of Jeremiah. The genuineness of the verses is supported by the testimony of the lxx, which has them here, while it omits them in Jer 17:3-4; and by the fact, that it is inconceivable they should have been interpolated as a gloss in a wholly unsuitable place. For those who impugn the genuineness have not even made the attempt to show the possibility or probability of such a gloss arising.)
Jeremiah continues his complaint. - Jer 15:15. "Thou knowest it, Jahveh; remember me, and visit me, and revenge me on my persecutors! Do not, in Thy long-suffering, take me away; know that for Thy sake I bear reproach. Jer 15:16. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy words were to me a delight and the joy of my heart: for Thy name was named upon me, Jahveh, God of hosts. Jer 15:17. I sat not in the assembly of the laughers, nor was merry; because of Thy hand I sat solitary; for with indignation Thou hast filled me. Jer 15:18. Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound malignant? will not heal. Wilt Thou really be to me as a deceiving brook, a water that doth not endure?"
The Lord's answer, Jer 15:11-14, has not yet restored tranquillity to the prophet's mind; since in it his vindication by means of the abasement of his adversaries had been kept at an indefinite distance. And so he now, Jer 15:15, prays the Lord to revenge him on his adversaries, and not to let him perish, since for His sake he bears reproach. The object to "Thou knowest, Lord," appears from the context - namely: "the attacks which I endure," or more generally: Thou knowest my case, my distress. At the same time he clearly means the harassment detailed in Jer 15:10, so that "Thou knowest" is, as to its sense, directly connected with Jer 15:10. But it by no means follows from this that Jer 15:11-14 are not original; only that Jeremiah did not feel his anxiety put at rest by the divine answer conveyed in these verses. In the climax: Remember me, visit me, i.e., turn Thy care on me, and revenge me, we have the utterance of the importunity of his prayer, and therein, too, the extremity of his distress. According to Thy long-suffering, i.e., the long-suffering Thou showest towards my persecutors, take me not away, i.e., do not deliver me up to final ruin. This prayer he supports by the reminder, that for the Lord's sake he bears reproach; cf. Psa 69:8. Further, the imperative: know, recognise, bethink thee of, is the utterance of urgent prayer. In Jer 15:16 he exhibits how he suffers for the Lord's sake. The words of the Lord which came to him he has received with eagerness, as it had been the choicest dainties. "Thy words were found" intimates that he had come into possession of them as something actual, without particularizing how they were revealed. With the figurative expression: I ate them, cf. the symbolical embodiment of the figure, Eze 2:9; Eze 3:3, Apoc. Jer 10:9. The Keri דּבריך is an uncalled for correction, suggested by the preceding יהי, and the Chet. is perfectly correct. Thy words turned out to me a joy and delight, because Thy name was named upon me, i.e., because Thou hast revealed Thyself to me, hast chosen me to be the proclaimer of Thy word.
To this calling he has devoted his whole life: has not sat in the assembly of the laughers, nor made merry with them; but sat alone, i.e., avoided all cheerful company. Because of Thy hand, i.e., because Thy hand had laid hold on me. The hand of Jahveh is the divine power which took possession of the prophets, transported their spirit to the ecstatic domain of inner vision, and impelled to prophesy; cf. Jer 20:7; Isa 8:11; Eze 1:3, etc. Alone I sat, because Thou hast filled me with indignation. זעם is the wrath of God against the moral corruptness and infatuation of Judah, with which the Spirit of God has filled Jeremiah in order that he may publish it abroad, cf. Jer 6:11. The sadness of what he had to publish filled his heart with the deepest grief, and constrained him to keep far from all cheery good fellowship.
Why is my pain become perpetual? "My pain" is the pain or grief he feels at the judgment he has to announce to the people; not his pain at the hostility he has on that account to endure. נצח adverbial = לנצח, as in Amo 1:11; Psa 13:2, etc. "My wound," the blow that has fallen on him. אנוּשׁה, malignant, is explained by "(that) will not heal," cf. Jer 30:12; Mic 1:9. The clause 'היו still depends on למּה, and the infin. gives emphasis: Wilt Thou really be? אכזב, lit., lying, deception, means here, and in Mic 1:16, a deceptive torrent that dries up in the season of drought, and so disappoints the hope of finding water, cf. Job 6:15. "A water," etc., is epexegesis: water that doth not endure. To this the Lord answers -
By reprimanding his impatience, and by again assuring him of His protection and of rescue from the power of his oppressors. - Jer 15:19. "Therefore thus saith Jahveh: If thou return, then will I bring thee again to serve me; and if thou separate the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth. They will return to thee, but thou shalt not return unto them. Jer 15:20. And I make thee unto this people a strong wall of brass, so that they fight against thee, but prevail not against thee; for I am with thee, to help thee and to save thee, saith Jahveh. Jer 15:21. And I save thee out of the hand of the wicked, and deliver thee out of the clutch of the violent."
In the words: if thou return, lies the reproach that in his complaint, in which his indignation had hurried him on to doubt God's faithfulness, Jeremiah had sinned and must repent. אשׁיבך is by many commentators taken adverbially and joined with the following words: then will I again cause thee to stand before me. But this adverbial use has been proved only for the Kal of שׁוּב, not for the Hiphil, which must here be taken by itself: then will I bring thee again, sc. into proper relations with me - namely, to stand before me, i.e., to be my servant. עמד , of the standing of the servant before his lord, to receive his commands, and so also of prophets, cf. Kg1 17:1; Kg1 18:15; Kg2 3:14, etc. In the words: if thou make to go forth, i.e., separate the precious from the vile, we have the figure of metal-refining, in course of which the pure metal is by fusion parted from the earthy and other ingredients mixed with it. The meaning of the figure is, however, variously understood. Some think here, unfittingly, of good and bad men; so Chald. and Rashi: if thou cause the good to come forth of the bad, turn the good into bad; or, if out of the evil mass thou cause to come forth at least a few as good, i.e., if thou convert them (Chr. B. Mich., Ros., etc.). For we cannot here have to do with the issue of his labours, as Graf well remarks, since this did not lie in his own power. Just as little is the case one of contrast between God's word and man's word, the view adopted by Ven., Eichh., Dahl., Hitz., Ew. The idea that Jeremiah presented man's word for God's word, or God's word mixed with spurious, human additions, is utterly foreign to the context; nay, rather it was just because he declared only what God imposed on him that he was so hard bested. Further, that idea is wholly inconsistent with the nature of true prophecy. Maurer has hit upon the truth: si quae pretiosa in te sunt, admixtis liberaveris sordibus, si virtutes quas habes maculis liberaveris impatientiae et iracundiae; with whom Graf agrees. כּפי (with the so-called כ verit.), as my mouth shalt thou be, i.e., as the instrument by which I speak, cf. Exo 4:16. Then shall his labours be crowned with success. They (the adversaries) will turn themselves to thee, in the manner shown in Jer 15:11, but thou shalt not turn thyself to them, i.e., not yield to their wishes or permit thyself to be moved by them from the right way. Jer 15:20. After this reprimand, the Lord renews to him the promise of His most active support, such as He had promised him at his call, Jer 1:18.; "to save thee" being amplified in Jer 15:21.