Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.
Jer 15:1-21. God's Reply to Jeremiah's Intercessory Prayer.
1. Moses … Samuel—eminent in intercessions (Ex 32:11, 12; 1Sa 7:9; Ps 99:6).
be toward—could not be favorably inclined toward them.
out of my sight—God speaks as if the people were present before Him, along with Jeremiah.
And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; 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.
2. death—deadly plague (Jer 18:21; 43:11; Eze 5:2, 12; Zec 11:9).
And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy.
3. appoint—(Le 26:16).
And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.
4. cause … to be removed—(De 28:25; Eze 23:46). Rather, "I will give them up to vexation," I will cause them to wander so as nowhere to have repose [Calvin]; (2Ch 29:8, "trouble;" Margin, "commotion").
because of Manasseh—He was now dead, but the effects of his sins still remained. How much evil one bad man can cause! The evil fruits remain even after he himself has received repentance and forgiveness. The people had followed his wicked example ever since; and it is implied that it was only through the long-suffering of God that the penal consequences had been suspended up to the present time (compare 1Ki 14:16; 2Ki 21:11; 23:26; 24:3, 4).
For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?
5. go aside … how thou doest—Who will turn aside (in passing by) to salute thee (to wish thee "peace")?
Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.
6. weary with repenting—(Ho 13:14; 11:8). I have so often repented of the evil that I threatened (Jer 26:19; Ex 32:14; 1Ch 21:15), and have spared them, without My forbearance moving them to repentance, that I will not again change My purpose (God speaking in condescension to human modes of thought), but will take vengeance on them now.
And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways.
7. fan—tribulation—from tribulum, a threshing instrument, which separates the chaff from the wheat (Mt 3:12).
gates of the land—that is, the extreme bounds of the land through which the entrance to and exit from it lie. Maurer translates, "I will fan," that is, cast them forth "to the gates of the land" (Na 3:13). "In the gates"; English Version draws the image from a man cleaning corn with a fan; he stands at the gate of the threshing-floor in the open air, to remove the wheat from the chaff by means of the wind; so God threatens to remove Israel out of the bounds of the land [Houbigant].
Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city.
8. Their widows—My people's (Jer 15:7).
have brought—prophetical past: I will bring.
mother of the young men—"mother" is collective; after the "widows," He naturally mentions bereavement of their sons ("young men"), brought on the "mothers" by "the spoiler"; it was owing to the number of men slain that the "widows" were so many [Calvin]. Others take "mother," as in 2Sa 20:19, of Jerusalem, the metropolis; "I have brought on them, against the 'mother,' a young spoiler," namely, Nebuchadnezzar, sent by his father, Nabopolassar, to repulse the Egyptian invaders (2Ki 23:29; 24:1), and occupy Judea. But Jer 15:7 shows the future, not the past, is referred to; and "widows" being literal, "mother" is probably so, too.
at noonday—the hottest part of the day, when military operations were usually suspended; thus it means unexpectedly, answering to the parallel, "suddenly"; openly, as others explain it, will not suit the parallelism (compare Ps 91:6).
it—English Version seems to understand by "it" the mother city, and by "him" the "spoiler"; thus "it" will be parallel to "city." Rather, "I will cause to fall upon them (the 'mothers' about to be bereft of their sons) suddenly anguish and terrors."
the city—rather, from a root "heat," anguish, or consternation. So the Septuagint.
She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while it was yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the LORD.
9. borne seven—(1Sa 2:5). Seven being the perfect number indicates full fruitfulness.
languisheth—because not even one is left of all her sons (Jer 15:8).
sun is gone down while … yet day—Fortune deserts her at the very height of her prosperity (Am 8:9).
she … ashamed—The mothers (she being collective) are put to the shame of disappointed hopes through the loss of all their children.
Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.
10. (Jer 20:14; Job 3:1, &c.). Jeremiah seems to have been of a peculiarly sensitive temperament; yet the Holy Spirit enabled him to deliver his message at the certain cost of having his sensitiveness wounded by the enmities of those whom his words offended.
man of strife—exposed to strifes on the part of "the whole earth" (Ps 80:6).
I have neither lent, &c.—proverbial for, "I have given no cause for strife against me."
The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.
11. Verily—literally, "Shall it not be?" that is, "Surely it shall be."
thy remnant—the final issue of thy life; thy life, which now seems to thee so sad, shall eventuate in prosperity [Calvin]. They who think that they shall be the surviving remnant, whereas thou shalt perish, shall themselves fall, whereas thou shalt remain and be favored by the conquerors [Junius], (Jer 40:4, 5; 39:11, 12). The Keri reads, "I will set thee free (or as Maurer, 'I will establish thee') for good" (Jer 14:11; Ezr 8:22; Ps 119:122).
to entreat thee well—literally, "to meet thee"; so "to be placable, nay, of their own accord to anticipate in meeting thee with kindness" [Calvin]. I prefer this translation as according with the event (Jer 39:11, 12; 40:4, 5). Gesenius, from Jer 7:16; 27:18; Job 21:15, translates (not only will I relieve thee from the enemy's vexations, but) "I will make thine enemy (that now vexeth thee) apply to thee with prayers" (Jer 38:14; 42:2-6).
Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?
12. steel—rather, brass or copper, which mixed with "iron" (by the Chalybes near the Euxine Pontus, far north of Palestine), formed the hardest metal, like our steel. Can the Jews, hardy like common iron though they be, break the still hardier Chaldees of the north (Jer 1:14), who resemble the Chalybian iron hardened with copper? Certainly not [Calvin]. Henderson translates. "Can one break iron, (even) the northern iron, and brass," on the ground that English Version makes ordinary iron not so hard as brass. But it is not brass, but a particular mixture of iron and brass, which is represented as harder than common iron, which was probably then of inferior texture, owing to ignorance of modern modes of preparation.
Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders.
13. Thy substance … sins—Judea's, not Jeremiah's.
without price—God casts His people away as a thing worth naught (Ps 44:12). So, on the contrary, Jehovah, when about to restore His people, says, He will give Egypt, &c., for their "ransom" (Isa 43:3).
even in all thy borders—joined with "Thy substance … treasures, as also with "all thy sins," their sin and punishment being commensurate (Jer 17:3).
And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.
14. thee—Maurer supplies "them," namely, "thy treasures." Eichorn, needlessly, from Syriac and the Septuagint, reads, "I will make thee to serve thine enemies"; a reading doubtless interpolated from Jer 17:4.
O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.
15. thou knowest—namely, my case; what wrongs my adversaries have done me (Jer 12:3).
revenge me—(See on Jer 11:20). The prophet in this had regard to, not his own personal feelings of revenge, but the cause of God; he speaks by inspiration God's will against the ungodly. Contrast in this the law with the gospel (Lu 23:34; Ac 7:60).
take me not away in thy long-suffering—By Thy long-suffering towards them, suffer them not meanwhile to take away my life.
for thy sake I have suffered rebuke—the very words of the antitype, Jesus Christ (Ps 69:7, 22-28), which last compare with Jeremiah's prayer in the beginning of this verse.
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
16. eat—(Eze 2:8; 3:1, 3; Re 10:9, 10). As soon as Thy words were found by me, I eagerly laid hold of and appropriated them. The Keri reads, "Thy word."
thy word … joy—(Job 23:12; Ps 119:72, 111; compare Mt 13:44).
called by thy name—I am Thine, Thy minister. So the antitype, Jesus Christ (Ex 23:21).
I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.
17. My "rejoicing" (Jer 15:16) was not that of the profane mockers (Ps 1:1; 26:4, 5) at feasts. So far from having fellowship with these, he was expelled from society, and made to sit "alone," because of his faithful prophecies.
because of thy hand—that is, Thine inspiration (Isa 8:11; Eze 1:3; 3:14).
filled me with indignation—So Jer 6:11, "full of the fury of the Lord"; so full was he of the subject (God's "indignation" against the ungodly) with which God had inspired him, as not to be able to contain himself from expressing it. The same comparison by contrast between the effect of inspiration, and that of wine, both taking a man out of himself, occurs (Ac 2:13, 15, 18).
Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?
18. (Jer 30:15). "Pain," namely, the perpetual persecution to which he was exposed, and his being left by God without consolation and "alone." Contrast his feeling here with that in Jer 15:16, when he enjoyed the full presence of God, and was inspired by His words. Therefore he utters words of his natural "infirmity" (so David, Ps 77:10) here; as before he spoke under the higher spiritual nature given him.
as a liar, and as—rather, "as a deceiving (river) … waters that are not sure (lasting)"; opposed to "living (perennial) waters" (Job 6:15). Streams that the thirsty traveller had calculated on being full in winter, but which disappoint him in his sorest need, having run dry in the heat of summer. Jehovah had promised Jeremiah protection from his enemies (Jer 1:18, 19); his infirmity suggests that God had failed to do so.
Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.
19. God's reply to Jeremiah.
return … bring … again—Jeremiah, by his impatient language, had left his proper posture towards God; God saith, "If thou wilt return (to thy former patient discharge of thy prophetic function) I will bring thee back" to thy former position: in the Hebrew there is a play of words, "return … turn again" (Jer 8:4; 4:1).
stand before me—minister acceptably to Me (De 10:8; 1Ki 17:1; 18:15).
take … precious from … vile—image from metals: "If thou wilt separate what is precious in thee (the divine graces imparted) from what is vile (thy natural corruptions, impatience, and hasty words), thou shall be as My mouth": my mouthpiece (Ex 4:16).
return not thou unto them—Let not them lead you into their profane ways (as Jeremiah had spoken irreverently, Jer 15:18), but lead thou them to the ways of godliness (Jer 15:16, 17). Eze 22:26 accords with the other interpretation, which, however, does not so well suit the context, "If thou wilt separate from the promiscuous mass the better ones, and lead them to conversion by faithful warnings," &c.
And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
20, 21. The promise of Jer 1:18, 19, in almost the same words, but with the addition, adapted to the present attacks of Jeremiah's formidable enemies, "I will deliver thee out of … wicked … redeem … terrible"; the repetition is in order to assure Jeremiah that God is the same now as when He first made the promise, in opposition to the prophet's irreverent accusation of unfaithfulness (Jer 15:18).
And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.