Jeremiah 14:22
Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? are not you he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait on you: for you have made all these things.
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(22), as in Jeremiah 10:8, the idols of the heathen, powerless and perishable.

Are there any . . . that can cause rain?—The question is asked with a special reference to the drought which had called forth the prophet’s utterance (Jeremiah 14:1). Israel remembers at last that it is Jehovah alone who gives the rain from heaven and the fruitful seasons, and turns to Him in patient waiting for His gifts. The words contain an implied appeal to the history of Elijah (1Kings 18:41) and that of Joel 2:23).

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.None of the idols of the Gentiles can put an end to this present distress.

Art not thou he, O Lord our God! - Rather, "art thou not Yahweh our God?"

Thou hast made all these things - i. e., the heaven with its showers.

22. vanities—idols (De 32:21).

rain—(Zec 10:1, 2).

heavens—namely, of themselves without God (Mt 5:45; Ac 14:17); they are not the First Cause, and ought not to be deified, as they were by the heathen. The disjunctive "or" favors Calvin's explanation: "Not even the heavens themselves can give rain, much less can the idol vanities."

art not thou he—namely, who canst give rain?

The present judgment under which they groaned was a drought, which he had described in the six first verses; the prophet imploring God for the removal of it, argues from the impossibility of help in this case from any other way; none of the idols of the heathens, which he calls vain things, nothing in themselves, and of no use or profit to those that ran after them, could give rain. The heavens indeed give it, but in the order of second causes; if God stoppeth those bottles, they cannot run.

Art not thou he, O Lord our God? Lord, art not thou able to do it? (saith the prophet;) nay, art not thou he who alone is able to do it? (for so much the phrase doth import). The Scripture constantly giveth God the honour of giving rain, Genesis 2:5 Deu 28:12 1 Kings 8:36 2 Chronicles 6:27 Job 5:10 38:26,28 Psa 147:8 Jeremiah 5:24 51:16 Joel 2:23 Zechariah 10:1 Matthew 5:45 Acts 14:17.

Therefore, saith the prophet,

we thy people

will wait upon thee by prayer, and the payment of those homages thou requirest;

for thou hast made all these things; that is, (say some,) thou hast caused all these judgments, or afflictive dispensations; or rather, thou hast made the rain, last mentioned. Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain?.... The blessing wanted; none of the idols of the Gentiles, called vanities, because it was a vain thing to apply to them, or hope for anything from them, none of these could give a shower of rain; though the name of one of their idols was Jupiter Imbrius (u), or Pluvius, the god of rain, yet he could not make nor give a single drop; as Baal, in the times of Ahab, when there was a drought, could not.

Or can the heavens give showers? from whence they descend, and which are the second causes of rain; even these could not of themselves, and much less Heathen deities.

Art not thou he, O Lord our God? the everlasting and unchangeable He, or I AM, our covenant God and Father, thou, and thou only, canst give rain; this is the peculiar of the great God himself; see Acts 14:17.

Therefore we will wait upon thee; for rain, by prayer and supplication, and hope for it, and wait the Lord's own time to give it:

for thou hast made all these things; the rain and its showers, who have no other father than the Lord, Job 38:28, also the heavens from whence it descends, and the earth on which it falls, are made by him, who restrains and gives it at pleasure.

(u) Pausanias makes mention of an image of Jupiter Pluvius, and of altars erected to him in various places; Attica, sive l. 1. p. 60. Corinthiaca, sive l. 2. p. 119. Boeotica, sive l. 9. p. 602. and in India, as Apollonius Tyanaeus relates, in Vit. Philostrat. l. 3. c. 2. in fine, was a tub, which in time of drought they opened; from whence, as they pretended, clouds came forth and watered all the country. Near Rome was a stone called Lapis Manalis, which being brought into the city, was said to cause rain. A like fable is told of water being in the forehead of Jupiter Lycaeus, which being shook by an oaken branch in the hand of a priest, gathered clouds, and produced plentiful showers of rain when wanted; but these, with others, are all fables and lies. See Alex. ab Alex Genial. Dier. l. 4. c. 16.

Are there any among the {p} vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.

(p) Meaning their idols, read Jer 10:15.

22. A fragment, as shewn by its subject, of the former of the two utterances combined in the section.

art not thou he, O Lord our God] rather, art not thou the LORD our God?

Verse 22. - None of the vanities, or false gods (Jeremiah 3:17), of the heathen can deliver us in this our strait (want of rain). "Rainmakers" is still a common name of soothsayers among savage nations. Thou alone art God, and our God; or, in Jeremiah's phrase (not, Art not thou he, etc.? but) Art thou not Jehovah our God? and the ground of the appeal follows, Jehovah is the Maker of all these things; i.e. all the heavenly phenomena, especially the clouds and the rain.

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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