Jeremiah 22:6
For thus said the LORD to the king's house of Judah; You are Gilead to me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make you a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.
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(6) Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon.—The conjunction, which is not found in the Hebrew, is better omitted. Even in his utterance of woes the prophet’s mind is still that of a poet. The chief point of the comparison in both cases is to be found in the forests that crowned the heights of both ranges of mountains. The “oaks of Bashan,” in the Gilead district (Isaiah 2:13; Zechariah 11:2), were as famous as the cedars of Lebanon, and both were alike the fit symbol of the glory of sovereignty (Isaiah 37:24; Ezekiel 17:3). There may be a reference to the group of cedar-buildings, which of old gave to one of the palaces the name of “the house of the forest of Lebanon” (2Samuel 7:2; 2Samuel 7:7; 1Kings 7:2; 1Kings 10:21).

Jeremiah 22:6-9. For thus saith the Lord unto, or, concerning, the king’s house: Thou art Gilead unto me, &c.; yet surely, &c. — “Though thou wert never so precious in my sight, as valuable for riches and plenty as the fat pastures of Gilead, and thy buildings as beautiful for their stateliness as the tall cedars of Lebanon, yet unless thy princes and people reform, thou shalt become nothing but ruin and desolation.” Thus Lowth. But Blaney translates the verse, Gilead art thou through me, O summit of Lebanon; surely I will make thee a desert, cities not inhabited. Which he interprets as follows, “Lebanon was the highest mountain in Israel, and was therefore an apt emblem of the reigning family advanced to the highest rank of dignity in the state. Gilead was the richest and most fertile part of the country. The meaning then is plainly this, By my providence thou art not only supreme in rank, but hast been rendered exceedingly wealthy and flourishing. But the same power that raised will likewise be exerted in reducing thee to the lowest state of indigence and distress.” And I will prepare — Hebrew, וקדשׁתי, I will sanctify destroyers against thee — That is, I will solemnly appoint and set them apart for the work of destroying thee. And they shall cut down thy choice cedars — Having compared the king’s palace, or the city of Jerusalem, to Lebanon, Jeremiah 22:6, pursuing the metaphor, he threatens to destroy them and their most beautiful edifices by the Chaldean army. And many nations — Persons of many nations; shall pass by this city, &c. — Namely, when on their travels; and they shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city — They who have heard that this had been a very strong, rich, and populous city, and that it had been called the city of God, and the place of his especial residence, would be astonished to find it, through his judgments, a scene of ruin and desolation, and would require how such an effect came to be produced. Thus was fulfilled that threatening of Moses, Deuteronomy 28:37, that God would make the Jews an astonishment to other nations. See likewise 1 Kings 9:8. Then shall they answer — Some shall answer, or they shall answer one another. The reason is so obvious that it shall be ready in every man’s mouth. Because they have forsaken the covenant of Jehovah their God; have revolted from their allegiance to him, and from the duty which they had solemnly covenanted to perform, and worshipped other gods and served them — In contempt of him; and therefore he gave them up to this destruction.22:1-9 The king of Judah is spoken to, as sitting upon the throne of David, the man after God's own heart. Let him follow his example, that he may have the benefit of the promises made to him. The way to preserve a government, is to do the duty of it. But sin will be the ruin of the houses of princes, as well as of meaner men. And who can contend with destroyers of God's preparing? God destroys neither persons, cities, nor nations, except for sin; even in this world he often makes it plain for what crimes he sends punishment; and it will be clear at the day of judgement.Omit and. "Thou art a Gilead unto me, a summit of Lebanon."

Yet surely - literally, if not, the form of an oath with the imprecation omitted. For the full form see Numbers 14:23.

A wilderness, and cities - Omit and. The meaning is: If the house of David does not hear God's words, though it be now grand as Lebanon, God will make it a wilderness, even uninhabited cities; the house of David being regarded as equivalent to the kingdom of Judah.

6. Though thou art as beautiful as Gilead, and as majestic in Mine eyes (before Me) as the summit of Lebanon, yet surely (the Hebrew is a formula of swearing to express certainly: "If I do not make thee … believe Me not ever hereafter": so "as truly as I live," Nu 14:28; "surely," Nu 14:35). The mention of Gilead may allude not only to its past beauty, but covertly also to its desolation by the judgment on Israel; a warning now to Judah and the house of David. "Lebanon" is appropriately mentioned, as the king's house was built of its noble cedars.

cities—not other cities, but the different parts of the city of Jerusalem (2Sa 12:27; 2Ki 10:25) [Maurer].

Interpreters are not agreed in what sense God saith that

the king’s house of Judah was unto him as

Gilead, or

the head of Lebanon. Gilead was a country fertile for pastures; upon which account the Reubenites and Gadites, being men whose estates lay in cattle, begged it of Moses for their portion, Numbers 32:2, and Moses gave it to the sons of Manasseh, Numbers 32:40. It was also famous for spicery, balm, and myrrh, Genesis 37:25. It had in it a famous mountain. Lebanon also was a very pleasant place, famous for cedars, and indeed whatsoever could gratify, the senses; they both were in the lot of Gad and Manasseh. Some think God compareth the king of Judah’s house to these places, in regard of the height and nobleness of the structure; others, for the pleasantness and delightfulness of it. Others consider Gilead as the principal part of the inheritance of the ten tribes, wasted by Tiglath-pileser, 2 Kings 15:29; and that God telleth them, by this comparison, that he would certainly destroy them, and make them as Gilead, which was the head of Lebanon. Though Jerusalem were a noble and pleasant place, yet they might remember so was Gilead, which yet for their sins was wasted and brought to ruin. So also Jerusalem, formerly the garden of Judea, and joy of the whole earth, should be made a wilderness, and the cities of Judah should not be inhabited. For thus saith the Lord unto the king's house of Judah,.... That is, to the family of the king of Judah; though it may be rendered, "concerning the house of the king of Judah" (z); and so refer to his palace as before:

thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon; or, though like to Gilead (which was a very fruitful country) for wealth, riches, and all kind of valuable things; and like to the top of Mount Lebanon (a), being set with tall cedars, for stateliness. So the Targum is,

"although thou art beloved before me more than the sanctuary, which is high upon the top of the mountains:''

or thou shall be as Gilead, and Mount Lebanon, which belonged to the ten tribes of Israel, and are put for the whole kingdom of Israel, which was wasted by the king of Assyria; and in like condition should the royal palace at Jerusalem be, notwithstanding all its riches and grandeur, and so the city and temple likewise; as follows:

yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited; though as fruitful as Gilead, yet shall become like a barren desert; and though full of children, courtiers, princes, and nobles, yet shall be like cities quite depopulated: or, "if I do not make thee" (b), &c. it is in the form of an oath, as Kimchi and Ben Melech observe; and to be supplied thus, if I do not do as I have said, let me never be believed; let me be reckoned a liar, or not thought to be God, and the like. It shows the certain accomplishment of these things.

(z) "de domo regis", Cocceius, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (a) "velut Gilead, ut caput Libani", Junius & Tremellius. (b) "si non posuero te", Vatablus, Pagninus, Montanus, Schmidt.

For thus saith the LORD to the king's house of Judah; Thou art {c} Gilead to me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.

(c) He compares Jerusalem to Gilead which was beyond Jordan and the beauty of Judea to Lebanon.

6. concerning] if there is any preference, better as mg. unto.

Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon] well-wooded regions. Cp. Isaiah 2:13; Isaiah 37:24; Zechariah 11:1 f.

6–9. See introd. summary to section. We may take Jeremiah 22:6-7 (which are in Ḳinah metre) to be in the main genuine, although (Co.) the statement that they concern the palace is somewhat inconsistent with the general tenor of the passage, which evidently refers to the city as a whole. Jeremiah 22:8-9 are generally thought to be inserted by a later hand. They are almost identical with Deuteronomy 29:24 f. and are not in any distinct metre.Verse 6. - Unto the king's house of Judah; rather, concerning the house of the King of Judah; i.e. the royal palace, which, on account of its height and its being constructed so largely out of cedar-weed (comp. vers. 14, 23), is called "Gilead, and the summit of Lebanon," just as Solomon's palace was called "the house of the forest of Lebanon" (1 Kings 7:2). Of Gilead in general, Canon Tristram writes, "No one can fairly judge of Israel's heritage who has not seen the luxuriant exuberance of Gilead, as well as the bard rocks of Judaea." And again, "Lovely knolls and dells open out at every turn, gently rising to the wooded plateau above. Then we rise to higher ground and ride through noble forests of oak. Then for a mile or two through luxuriant green corn, or perhaps through a rich forest of scattered olive trees, left untended and uncared for, with perhaps patches of corn in the open glades" ('Bible Places,' p. 322). The cedars of Lebanon, however diminished, still bear witness to the ancient fame of this splendid mountain district. A wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited. The comparison has a terrible significance when read in the light of De Vogue's and Freshfield's discoveries. For Gilead itself is full of ruined cities of massive stone architecture. "It is no uncommon thing," says Mr. F.A. Eaton, "to see these houses in a complete state of preservation, built of huge blocks of black basalt, with slabs of the same for the roof, twelve feet long, a foot and a half wide, and half a foot thick, and entrance doors also of basalt... great solid stones of the same material being used as lintels at the top and bottom" (Speech at the meeting for setting on foot the survey of Eastern Palestine, November 30, 1880: Statement of Palestine Exploration Fund, January, 1880, p. 11). Cities which are not inhabited; not, indeed, the cities of Gilead of the time of Jeremiah, but constructed of materials which may reasonably be presumed to have been chiseled in a far more remote antiquity. (The date of the cities in their present state is subsequent to the Christian era.) The chastisement of Jerusalem. - Jeremiah 21:13. "Behold, I am against thee, inhabitress of the valley, of the rock of the plain, saith Jahveh, ye who say: Who shall come down against us, and who shall come into our dwellings? Jeremiah 21:14. And will visit you according to the fruit of your doings, saith Jahveh, and kindle a fire in her forest, that it may devour all her surroundings." This threatening is levelled against the citizens of Jerusalem, who vaunted the impregnableness of their city. The inhabitress of the valley is the daughter of Zion, the population of Jerusalem personified. The situation of the city is spoken of as עמק, ravine between mountains, in respect that Jerusalem was encircled by mountains of greater height (Psalm 125:2); and as rock of the plain, i.e., the region regarded as a level from which Mount Zion, the seat of the kingdom, rose, equivalent to rock of the field, Jeremiah 17:3. In the "rock" we think specially of Mount Zion, and in the "valley" of the so-called lower city. The two designations are chosen to indicate the strong situation of Jerusalem. On this the inhabitants pride themselves, who say: Who shall come down against us? יחת for ינחת, from נחת; cf. Ew. 139, c. Dwellings, cf. Jeremiah 25:30, not cities or refuge or coverts of wild animals; מעון has not this force, but can at most acquire it from the context; see Del. on Psalm 26:8. The strength of the city will not shield the inhabitants from the punishment with which God will visit them. "According to the fruit," etc., cf. Jeremiah 17:10. I kindle fire in her forest. The city is a forest of houses, and the figure is to be explained by the simile in Jeremiah 22:6, but was not suggested by מעון equals lustra ferarum (Hitz.). All her surroundings, how much more then the city itself!
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