Jeremiah 14:18
If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yes, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Them that are sick with famine.—Literally, with even a more awful force, as summing all individual sufferings in one collective unity, the sickness of famine—the pestilence that follows on starvation.

Go about into a land that they know not.—Literally, go about (as in Genesis 34:10, where the Authorised version has “trade”) in a land and know not, i.e., whither they go—are in a land of exile, and know not where to find a home, or where they may be dragged next, or, perhaps, with some commentators. learn no wisdom from their bitter experience. There is no adequate ground for the rendering in the margin, which, besides, gives no satisfactory meaning.

14:17-22 Jeremiah acknowledged his own sins, and those of the people, but pleaded with the Lord to remember his covenant. In their distress none of the idols of the Gentiles could help them, nor could the heavens give rain of themselves. The Lord will always have a people to plead with him at his mercy-seat. He will heal every truly repenting sinner. Should he not see fit to hear our prayers on behalf of our guilty land, he will certainly bless with salvation all who confess their sins and seek his mercy.A message from God to the effect that the calamity would be so overwhelming as to cause perpetual weeping; it is set before the people under the representation of Jeremiah's own sorrow.

The virgin daughter of my people - The epithet testifies to God's previous care of Judah. She had been as jealously guarded from other nations as virgins are in an oriental household (compare Sol 4:12).

18. go about—that is, shall have to migrate into a land of exile. Horsley translates, "go trafficking about the land (see Jer 5:31, Margin; 2Co 4:2; 2Pe 2:3), and take no knowledge" (that is, pay no regard to the miseries before their eyes) (Isa 1:3; 58:3). If the literal sense of the Hebrew verb be retained, I would with English Version understand the words as referring to the exile to Babylon; thus, "the prophet and the priest shall have to go to a strange land to practise their religious traffic (Isa 56:11; Eze 34:2, 3; Mic 3:11). The prophet is by God directed to speak still of the calamities of this people as a thing past, though yet to come, according to the usual style of prophetical writings; and to tell them, that whatsoever their false prophets told them, yet he so certainly knew the contrary, that he could even wish himself melted into tears for them, and had even already before his eyes the doleful spectacle of their miseries; some in the field slain by the enemy’s sword, others within the walls almost starved to death.

Both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not: the word in the Hebrew wdto which we translate go about, signifies so primarily, and in a second sense to merchandise, because merchants go about countries to trade. This hath made that variety of sense which the margins of our Bible have; but our translation is true enough, and the sense seems to be, that priests and prophets (though accounted sacred persons) should be made captives also, and wander in a land wherein they were foreigners. This is thought to relate to the first captivity in the time of Jehoiakim, when the people of the best fashion were carried into captivity. If I go forth into the field,.... Without the city, where was the camp of the enemy besieging it

then behold the slain with the sword! the sword of the enemy; who by sallying out of the city upon them, or by endeavouring to make their escape into the country, fell into their hands, and were slain by them.

And if I enter into the city; the city of Jerusalem:

then behold them that are sick with the famine! just ready to die, being starved for want of provisions; and multitudes dead, and their carcasses lying in the streets unburied; the prophet does not make mention of the dead indeed, only of the sick with famine; the reason of which, Kimchi says, is because the sick were more than the dead.

Yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they knew not; into the land of Chaldea, a strange and foreign country, whither they were carried captive, both in the times of Jehoiakim and of Zedekiah, and whither they might go in ways far about: and this seems to be understood of false prophets and wicked priests, that had led the people about, and had caused them to wander from the ways of God and his worship; and therefore, in righteous retaliation, they are led in round about ways to a land unknown to them: though some think that the true prophets and priests of the Lord may be meant, as Ezekiel and Daniel, who were carried captive into Babylon: others interpret them of such going about in the land of Judea seeking for bread and water, or food in the time of the famine;

but they know not (q), as the last clause may be literally rendered, that is, men know them not, take no notice of them, show no regard to them, and give them no relief; the famine being so sore, that everyone was for himself, and could afford no help to others, even to the prophets and priests. Some render the words, "yea, the priest and the prophet make merchandise against the land"; or, "through the lands" (r); by deceiving the people with their false prophecies: or rather, go about the land making merchandise (s); of the souls of men; see 2 Peter 2:3, making a gain of their visions and prophecies:

and they know not; the people are not aware of their deception and falsehood. The Targum is,

"for even the scribe and the priest are turned to their own negotiations or merchandises, to that which is in the land, neither do they inquire;''

they minded their own affairs, and inquired not for, nor sought after, the people's good.

(q) "et non agnoverunt, Supple, ulli eos", De Dieu. (r) "nundinantur contra terram", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "mercaturam exercuerunt per terram", Cocceius. (s) "est circuire terram negotiandi causa", Grotius.

If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about {m} into a land that they know not.

(m) Both high and low will be led captive into Babylon.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. them that are sick with famine] lit. as mg. the sicknesses of famine.

go about] mg. traffick. Such is the sense of the Heb. verb elsewhere, e.g. Genesis 34:10; Genesis 34:21, but the corresponding consonants in Syriac are found, though rarely, with the meaning, to go as a beggar. In either case, a fall in rank is indicated. Gi. proposes to substitute one of the two Heb. letters represented by s for the other, thus obtaining the sense of sinking to the earth in mourning garb. Cp. for this thought Jeremiah 13:18. So Co.

in the land and have no knowledge] mg. into a land that they know not. But the last four words are obscure, and, as Peake suggests, may be the commencement of a new sentence of which the remainder has been lost.

19–15:1. See introd. summary to section. Co. somewhat drastically considers that the expression “the throne of thy glory” (Jeremiah 14:21), i.e. Jerusalem, must belong to a later date than Jeremiah’s, and that this excludes from genuineness Jeremiah 14:19-22. He also, however, points to metrical difficulties, which Gi. (Metrik) gets over by a considerable amount of omissions. The latter part of Jeremiah 14:19 has already occurred in Jeremiah 8:15, but one passage (we can hardly say which) is probably quoted from the other.Verse 18. - A picture of the state of things after the capture of Jerusalem: the slain without, the famine-stricken within. The latter are described allusively as "sicknesses of famine" (so literally). As a peculiarly striking evidence of the downfall of greatness, it is added that even prophet and priest have to go about into a land that they know not. The verb used here can obviously not have its ordinary sense of going about for purposes of traffic. Aramaic usage suggests, however, a suitable meaning; what the prophet sketches before us is a company of these ex-grandees "begging their way" into an unknown land. The Lord's answer. - Jeremiah 14:10. "Thus saith Jahveh unto this people: Thus they loved to wander, their feet they kept not back; and Jahveh hath no pleasure in them, now will He remember their iniquities and visit their sins. Jeremiah 14:11. And Jahveh hath said unto me: Pray not for this people for their good. Jeremiah 14:12. When they fast, I hear not their cry; and when they bring burnt-offering and meat-offering, I have no pleasure in them; but by sword, and famine, and pestilence will I consume them. Jeremiah 14:13. Then said I: Ah Lord Jahveh, behold, the prophets say to them, Ye shall see no sword, and famine shall not befall you, but assured peace give I in this place. Jeremiah 14:14. And Jahveh said unto me: Lies do the prophets prophesy in my name: I have not sent them, nor commanded them, nor spoken to them; lying vision, and divination, and a thing of nought, and deceit of their heart they prophesy to you. Jeremiah 14:15. Therefore thus saith Jahveh concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, when I have not sent them, who yet say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land: By sword and famine shall these prophets perish. Jeremiah 14:16. And the people to whom they prophesy shall lie cast out upon the streets of Jerusalem, by reason of the famine and of the sword, and none will bury them, them and their wives, their sons and their daughters; and I pour their wickedness upon them. Jeremiah 14:17. And thou shalt say to them this word: Let mine eyes run down with tears day and night and let them not cease; for with a great breach is broken the virgin-daughter of my people, with a very grievous blow. Jeremiah 14:18. If I go forth into the field, behold the slain with the sword; and if I come into the city, behold them that pine with famine; for prophet and priest pass into a land and know it not."

To the prophet's prayer the Lord answers in the first place, Jeremiah 14:10, by pointing to the backsliding of the people, for which He is now punishing them. In the "thus they love," etc., lies a backward reference to what precedes. The reference is certainly not to the vain going for water (Jeremiah 14:3), as Chr. B. Mich. and R. Salomo Haccohen thought it was; nor is it to the description of the animals afflicted by thirst, Jeremiah 14:5 and Jeremiah 14:6, in which Ng. finds a description of the passionate, unbridled lust after idolatry, the real and final cause of the ruin that has befallen Israel. Where could be the likeness between the wild ass's panting for breath and the wandering of the Jews? That to which the "thus" refers must be sought for in the body of the prayer to which Jahveh makes answer, as Ros. rightly saw. Not by any means in the fact that in Jeremiah 14:9 the Jews prided themselves on being the people of God and yet went after false gods, so that God answered: ita amant vacillare, as good as to say: ita instabiles illos esse, ut nunc ab ipso, nunc ab aliis auxilium quaerant (Ros.); for נוּע cannot here mean the waving and swaying of reeds, but only the wandering after other gods, cf. Jeremiah 2:23, Jeremiah 2:31. This is shown by the addition: they kept not back their feet, cf. with Jeremiah 2:25, where in the same reference the withholding of the feet is enjoined. Graf is right in referring huts to the preceding prayer: "Thus, in the same degree as Jahveh has estranged Himself from His people (cf. Jeremiah 14:8 and Jeremiah 14:9), have they estranged themselves from their God." They loved to wander after strange gods, and so have brought on themselves God's displeasure. Therefore punishment comes on them. The second clause of the verse is a reminiscence of Hosea 8:13. - After mentioning the reason why He punishes Judah, the Lord in Jeremiah 14:11. rejects the prayer of the prophet, because He will not hear the people's cry to Him. Neither by means of fasts nor sacrifice will they secure God's pleasure. The prophet's prayer implies that the people will humble themselves and turn to the Lord. Hence God explains His rejection of the prayer by saying that He will give no heed to the people's fasting and sacrifices. The reason of this appears from the context - namely, because they turn to Him only in their need, while their heart still cleaves to the idols, so that their prayers are but lip-service, and their sacrifices a soulless formality. The suffix in רצם refers not to the sacrifices, but, like that in רנּתם, to the Jews who, by bringing sacrifices, seek to win God's love. כּי, but, introducing the antithesis to "have no pleasure in them." The sword in battle, famine, and pestilence, at the siege of the cities, are the three means by which God designs to destroy the backsliding people; cf. Leviticus 26:25.

In spite of the rejection of his prayer, the prophet endeavours yet again to entreat God's favour for the people, laying stress, Jeremiah 14:13, on the fact that they had been deceived and confirmed in their infatuation by the delusive forecastings of the false prophets who promised peace. Peace of truth, i.e., peace that rests on God's faithfulness, and so: assured peace will I give you. Thus spoke these prophets in the name of Jahveh; cf. on this Jeremiah 4:10; Jeremiah 5:12. Hitz. and Graf propose to change שׁלום אמת into שׁלום ואמת, acc. to Jeremiah 33:6 and Isaiah 39:8, because the lxx have ἀλήθειαν καὶ εἰρήνην. But none of the passages cited furnishes sufficient ground for this. In Jeremiah 33:6 the lxx have rendered εἰρήνην καὶ πίστιν, in Isaiah 39:8, εἰρήνη καὶ δικαιοσύνη; giving thereby a clear proof that we cannot draw from their rendering any certain inferences as to the precise words of the original text. Nor do the parallels prove anything, since in them the expression often varies in detail. But there can be no doubt that in the mouth of the pseudo-prophets "assured peace" is more natural than "peace and truth." But the Lord does not allow this excuse. He has not sent the prophets that so prophesy: they prophesy lying vision, divination, falsehood, and deceit, and shall themselves be destroyed by sword and famine. The cumulation of the words, "lying vision," etc., shows God's wrath and indignation at the wicked practices of these men. Graf wants to delete ו before אליל, and to couple אליל with קסם, so as to make one idea: prophecy of nought. For this he can allege none other than the erroneous reason that קסם, taken by itself, does not sufficiently correspond to "lying vision," inasmuch as, he says, it has not always a bad sense attached to it; whereas the fact is that it is nowhere used for genuine prophecy. The Chet. אלוּל and תּרמוּת are unusual formations, for which the usual forms are substituted in the Keri. Deceit of their heart is not self-deceit, but deceit which their heart has devised; cf. Jeremiah 23:26. But the people to whom these prophets prophesied are to perish by sword and famine, and to lie unburied in the streets of Jerusalem; cf. Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 16:4. They are not therefore held excused because false prophets told them lies, for they have given credit to these lies, lies that flattered their sinful passions, and have not been willing to hear or take to heart the word of the true prophets, who preached repentance and return to God.

(Note: The Berleburg Bible says: "They wish to have such teachers, and even to bring it about that there shall be so many deceiving workers, because they can hardly even endure or listen to the upright ones. That is the reason why it is to go no better with them than we see it is." Calvin too has suggested the doubt: posset tamen videri parum humaniter agere Deus, quod tam duras paenas infligit miseris hominibus, qui aliunde decepti sunt, and has then given the true solution: certum est, nisi ultro mundus appeteret mendacia, non tantam fore efficaciam diaboli ad fallendum. Quod igitur ita rapiuntur homines ad imposturas, hoc fit eorum culpa, quoniam magis propensi sunt ad vanitatem, quam ut se Deo et verbo ejus subjiciant.)

To Hitz. it seems surprising that, in describing the punishment which is to fall on seducers and seduced, there should not be severer judgment, in words at least, levelled against the seducers as being those involved in the deeper guilt; whereas the very contrary is the case in the Hebrew text. Hitz. further proposes to get rid of this discrepancy by conjectures founded on the lxx, yet without clearly informing us how we are to read. But the difficulty solves itself as soon as we pay attention to the connection. The portion of the discourse before us deals with the judgment which is to burst on the godless people, in the course of which those who had seduced the people are only casually mentioned. For the purpose in hand, it was sufficient to say briefly of the seducers that they too should perish by sword and famine who affirmed that these punishments should not befall the people, whereas it was necessary to set before the people the terrors of this judgment in all their horror, in order not to fail of effect. With the reckoning of the various classes of persons: they, their wives, etc., cf. the account of their participation in idolatry, Jeremiah 7:18. Hitz. rightly paraphrases ושׁפכתּי: and in this wise will I pour out. רעתם, not: the calamity destined for them, but: their wickedness which falls on them with its consequences, cf. Jeremiah 2:19, Hosea 9:15, for propheta videtur causam reddere, cur Deus horribile illud judicium exequi statuerit contra Judaeos, nempe quoniam digni erant tali mercede (Calv.).

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