Jeremiah 47:7
How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD has given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there has he appointed it.
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(7) Against the sea shore.—In the “sea shore,” as in Ezekiel 25:16, we have the term specially appropriate to the territory of the Philistines.

47:1-7 The calamities of the Philistines. - The Philistines had always been enemies to Israel; but the Chaldean army shall overflow their land like a deluge. Those whom God will spoil, must be spoiled. For when the Lord intends to destroy the wicked, he will cut off every helper. So deplorable are the desolations of war, that the blessings of peace are most desirable. But we must submit to His appointments who ordains all in perfect wisdom and justice.Baldness - Extreme mourning (see Jeremiah 16:6).

Is cut off - Others render, is speechless through grief.

With the remnant of their valley - Others, O remnant of their valley, how long wilt thou cut thyself? Their valley is that of Gaza and Ashkelon, the low-lying plain, usually called the Shefelah, which formed the territory of the Philistines. The reading of the Septuagint is remarkable: "the remnant of the Anakim," which probably would mean Gath, the home of giants 1 Samuel 17:4.

Jeremiah 47:6. Or, Alas, Sword of Yahweh, how long wilt thou not rest? For the answer, see Jeremiah 47:7.

7. Jeremiah, from addressing the sword in the second person, turns to his hearers and speaks of it in the third person.

Lord … given it a charge—(Eze 14:17).

the sea-shore—the strip of land between the mountains and Mediterranean, held by the Philistines: "their valley" (see on [976]Jer 47:5).

there hath he appointed it—(Mic 6:9). There hath He ordered it to rage.

Some make the words of the 6th verse to be the words of the Philistines in their mourning and cutting themselves, crying to God to stop the sword drawn against them, and to return it again into its scabbard: others make them the words of the prophet, lamenting the havoc which he by the eye of the prophecy saw was like to be made amongst the Philistines by the Chaldeans (for good men are affected with the miseries even of the worst of men).

The latter verse must be expounded according to the former; for if the words of the former verse be understood as the words of the Philistines, those of this verse must be understood as the words of the prophet putting them out of hopes of the sword’s stopping, because what it did was by commission from God, which it must execute. If the words of the former verse be to be understood as the prophet’s words, the words of this verse are either the prophet’s words correcting himself, and concluding that this sword could not be quiet, because it was edged by God himself, who had given it his commission, which it must execute; or the words of God, letting the prophet know that he had given this sword its commission, and therefore it could not stop till Ashkelon and the people on the sea-shore were destroyed by it. How can it be quiet,.... There is no reason to believe it will, nor can it be expected that it should; to stop it is impossible, and to request that it might be stopped is in vain:

seeing the Lord hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the seashore? for it had a commission from the Lord to destroy the inhabitants of Ashkelon, and other places, which lay still more towards the sea, as Joppa and Jamne; and indeed all Palestine lay on the coast of the Mediterranean sea:

there hath he appointed it; by an irreversible decree of his, in righteousness to punish the inhabitants of these places for their sins.

How can it be {h} quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it.

(h) Meaning, that it is not profitable that the wicked should by any means escape or hinder the Lord when he will take vengeance.

7. How canst thou] rather, with LXX, Syr., Vulg. How can it.… So correct “thee” by mg. it, the sea shore, the Philistine and Phoenician coast.Verse 7. - The seashore. So Ezekiel speaks of "the remnant of the seashore" (Ezekiel 25:16), referring to Philistia.

The word of the Lord against the Philistines came to Jeremiah "before Pharaoh smote Gaza." If we understand this time-definition in such a way that "the prophecy would refer to the conquest of Gaza by Pharaoh," as Graf thinks, and as Hitzig also is inclined to suppose, then this portion of the title does not accord with the contents of the following prophecy; for, according to Jeremiah 47:2, the devastator of Philistia approaches from the north, and the desolation comes not merely on Gaza, but on all Philistia, and even Tyre and Sidon (Jeremiah 47:4, Jeremiah 47:5). Hence Graf thinks that, if any one is inclined to consider the title as utterly incorrect, only two hypotheses are possible: either the author of the title overlooked the statement in Jeremiah 47:2, that the hostile army was to come from the north; in which case this conquest might have taken place at any time during the wearisome struggles, fraught with such changes of fortune, between the Chaldeans and the Egyptians for the possession of the border fortresses, during the reign of Jehoiakim (which is Ewald's opinion): or he may possibly have noticed the statement, but found no difficulty in it; in which case, in spite of all opposing considerations (see M. von Niebuhr, Gesch. Assyr. und Bab. p. 369), it must be assumed that the conquest was effected by the defeated army as it was returning from the Euphrates, when Necho, on his march home, reduced Gaza (Hitzig), and by taking this fortress from the enemy, barred the way to Egypt. Of these two alternatives, we can accept neither as probable. The neglect, on the part of the author of the title, to observe the statement that the enemy is to come from the north, would show too great carelessness for us to trust him. But if he did notice the remark, then it merely follows that Pharaoh must have reduced Gaza on his return, after being defeated at Carchemish. Nor is it legitimate to conclude, as Ewald does, from the statement in 2 Kings 24:7 ("The king of Egypt went no more out of his land; for the king of Babylon had taken all that had belonged to the king of Egypt, from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates"), that the wars between the Chaldeans and the Egyptians for the possession of the border fortresses, such as Gaza, were tedious, and attended with frequent changes of fortune. In the connection in which it stands, this statement merely shows that, after Nebuchadnezzar had made Jehoiakim his vassal, the latter could not receive any help from Egypt in his rebellion, after he had ruled three years, because Pharaoh did not venture to march out of his own territory any more. But it plainly follows from this, that Pharaoh cannot have taken the fortress of Gaza while retreating before Nebuchadnezzar. For, in this case, Nebuchadnezzar would have been obliged to drive him thence before ever he could have reduced King Jehoiakim again to subjection. The assumption is difficult to reconcile with what Berosus says regarding the campaign of Nebuchadnezzar, viz., that the continued in the field till he heard of the death of his father. Add to this, that, as M. von Niebuhr very rightly says, "there is every military probability against it" (i.e., against the assumption that Gaza was reduced by Necho on his retreat). "If this fortress had stood out till the battle of Carchemish, then it is inconceivable that a routed eastern army should have taken the city during its retreat, even though there were, on the line of march, the strongest positions on the Orontes, in Lebanon, etc., where it might have taken its stand." Hence Niebuhr thinks it "infinitely more improbable either that Gaza was conquered before the battle of Carchemish, about the same time as Ashdod, and that Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 47:1-7, predicts the approach of the army which was still engaged in the neighbourhood of Nineveh; or that the capture of the fortress did not take place till later, when Nebuchadnezzar was again engaged in Babylon, and that the prophet announces his return, not his first approach."

Rosenmller and Ngelsbach have declared in favour of the first of these suppositions. Both of them place the capture of Gaza in the time of Necho's march against the Assyrians under Josiah; Rosenmller before the battle of Megiddo; Ngelsbach after that engagement, because he assumes, with all modern expositors, that Necho had landed with his army at the Bay of Acre. He endeavours to support this view by the observation that Necho, before marching farther north, sought to keep the way clear for a retreat to Egypt, since he would otherwise have been lost after the battle of Carchemish, if he did not previously reduce Gaza, the key of the high road to Egypt. In this, Ngelsbach rightly assumes that the heading, "before Pharaoh smote Gaza," was not intended to show the fulfilment of the prophecy in the conquest of Gaza by Necho soon afterwards, but merely states that Jeremiah predicts to the Philistines that they will be destroyed by a foe from the north, at a time when conquest by a foe from the north was impending over them. Rightly, too, does Niebuhr remark that, in support of the view that Gaza was taken after the battle at Carchemish, there is nothing more than the announcement of the attack from the north, and the arrangement of the prophecies in Jeremiah, in which that against the Philistines is placed after that about the battle of Carchemish. Hitzig and Graf lay great weight upon this order and arrangement, and thence conclude that all the prophecies against the nations in Jeremiah 46-49, with the exception of that regarding Elam, were uttered in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. There are no sufficient grounds for this conclusion. The agreement between this prophecy now before us and that in Jeremiah 46, as regards particular figures and expressions (Graf), is too insignificant to afford a proof that the two belong to the same time; nor is much to be made out of the point so strongly insisted on by Hitzig, that after the Egyptians, as the chief nation, had been treated of, the author properly brings forward those who, from the situation of their country, must be visited by war immediately before it is sent on the Egyptians. The main foundation for this view is taken from the notice by Herodotus (ii. 159), that Necho, after the battle at Magdolos, took the large Syrian city Κάδυτις. Magdolos is here taken as a variation of Megiddo, and Kadytis of Gaza. But neither Hitzig nor Stark have proved the identity of Kadytis with Gaza, as we have already remarked on 2 Kings 23:33; so that we cannot safely draw any conclusion, regarding the time when Gaza was taken, from that statement of Herodotus. In consequence of the want of evidence from other sources, the date of this event cannot be more exactly determined.

From the contents of this prophecy and its position among the oracles against the nations, we can draw no more than a very probable inference that it was not published before the fourth year of Jehoiakim, inasmuch as it is evidently but a further amplification of the sentence pronounced in that year against all the nations, and recorded in Jeremiah 25. Thus all conjectures as to the capture of Gaza by Necho on his march to the Euphrates, before the battle at Carchemish, become very precarious. But the assumption is utterly improbable also, that Necho at a later period, whether in his flight before the Chaldeans, or afterwards, while Nebuchadnezzar was occupied in Babylon, undertook an expedition against Philistia: such a hypothesis is irreconcilable with the statement given in 2 Kings 24; 7. There is thus no course left open for us, but to understand, by the Pharaoh of the title here, not Necho, but his successor Hophra: this has been suggested by Rashi, who refers to Jeremiah 37:5, Jeremiah 37:11, and by Perizonius, in his Origg. Aegypt. p. 459, who founds on the notices of Herodotus (ii. 261) and of Diodorus Siculus, i. 68, regarding the naval battle between Apries on the one hand and the Cyprians and Phoenicians on the other. From these notices, it appears pretty certain that Pharaoh-Hophra sought to avenge the defeat of Necho on the Chaldeans, and to extend the power of Egypt in Asia. Hence it is also very probable that he took Gaza, with the view of getting into his hands this key of the highway to Egypt. This assumption we regard as the most probable, since nothing has been made out against it; there are no sufficient grounds for the opinion that this prophecy belongs to the same time as that in Jeremiah 46.

Contents of the Prophecy. - From the north there pours forth a river, inundating fields and cities, whereupon lamentation begins. Every one flees in haste before the sound of the hostile army, for the day of desolation is come on all Philistia and Phoenicia (Jeremiah 47:2-4). The cities of Philistia mourn, for the sword of the Lord is incessantly active among them (Jeremiah 47:5-7). This brief prophecy thus falls into two strophes: in the first (Jeremiah 47:2-4), the ruin that is breaking over Philistia is described; in the second (Jeremiah 47:5-7), its operation on the country and on the people.

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