Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying,
Jer 16:1-21. Continuation of the Previous Prophecy.
Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place.
2. in this place—in Judea. The direction to remain single was (whether literally obeyed, or only in prophetic vision) to symbolize the coming calamities of the Jews (Eze 24:15-27) as so severe that the single state would be then (contrary to the ordinary course of things) preferable to the married (compare 1Co 7:8, 26, 29; Mt 24:19; Lu 23:29).
For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land;
They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.
4. grievous deaths—rather, "deadly diseases" (Jer 15:2).
not … lamented—so many shall be the slain (Jer 22:18).
For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, even lovingkindness and mercies.
5. (Eze 24:17, 22, 23).
house of mourning—(Mr 5:38). Margin, "mourning-feast"; such feasts were usual at funerals. The Hebrew means, in Am 6:7, the cry of joy at a banquet; here, and La 2:19, the cry of sorrow.
Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them:
6. cut themselves—indicating extravagant grief (Jer 41:5; 47:5), prohibited by the law (Le 19:28).
bald—(Jer 7:29; Isa 22:12).
Neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother.
7. tear themselves—rather, "break bread," namely, that eaten at the funeral-feast (De 26:14; Job 42:11; Eze 24:17; Ho 9:4). "Bread" is to be supplied, as in La 4:4; compare "take" (food) (Ge 42:33).
give … cup of consolation … for … father—It was the Oriental custom for friends to send viands and wine (the "cup of consolation") to console relatives in mourning-feasts, for example, to children upon the death of a "father" or "mother."
Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink.
8. house of feasting—joyous: as distinguished from mourning-feasts. Have no more to do with this people whether in mourning or joyous feasts.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.
9. (Jer 7:34; 25:10; Eze 26:13).
And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?
10. (De 29:24; 1Ki 9:8, 9).
Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law;
11. (Jer 5:19; 13:22; 22:8, 9).
And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:
12. ye—emphatic: so far from avoiding your fathers' bad example, ye have done worse (Jer 7:26; 1Ki 14:9).
imagination—rather, "stubborn perversity."
that they may not hearken—rather, connected with "ye"; "ye have walked … so as not to hearken to Me."
Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour.
13. serve other gods—That which was their sin in their own land was their punishment in exile. Retribution in kind. They voluntarily forsook God for idols at home; they were not allowed to serve God, if they wished it, in captivity (Da 3:12; 6:7).
day and night—irony. You may there serve idols, which ye are so mad after, even to satiety, and without intermission.
Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
14. Therefore—So severe shall be the Jews' bondage that their deliverance from it shall be a greater benefit than that out of Egypt. The consolation is incidental here; the prominent thought is the severity of their punishment, so great that their rescue from it will be greater than that from Egypt [Calvin]; so the context, Jer 16:13, 17, 18, proves (Jer 23:7, 8; Isa 43:18).
But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.
15. the north—Chaldea. But while the return from Babylon is primarily meant, the return hereafter is the full and final accomplishment contemplated, as "from all the lands" proves. "Israel" was not, save in a very limited sense, "gathered from all the lands" at the return from Babylon (see on Jer 24:6; Jer 30:3; Jer 32:15).
Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.
16. send for—translate, "I will send many"; "I will give the commission to many" (2Ch 17:7).
fishers … hunters—successive invaders of Judea (Am 4:2; Hab 1:14, 15). So "net" (Eze 12:13). As to "hunters," see Ge 10:9; Mic 7:2. The Chaldees were famous in hunting, as the Egyptians, the other enemy of Judea, were in fishing. "Fishers" expresses the ease of their victory over the Jews as that of the angler over fishes; "hunters," the keenness of their pursuit of them into every cave and nook. It is remarkable, the same image is used in a good sense of the Jews' restoration, implying that just as their enemies were employed by God to take them in hand for destruction, so the same shall be employed for their restoration (Eze 47:9, 10). So spiritually, those once enemies by nature (fishermen many of them literally) were employed by God to be heralds of salvation, "catching men" for life (Mt 4:19; Lu 5:10; Ac 2:41; 4:4); compare here Jer 16:19, "the Gentiles shall come unto thee" (2Co 12:16).
For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.
17. (Jer 32:19; Pr 5:21; 15:3).
their iniquity—the cause of God's judgments on them.
And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.
18. first … double—Horsley translates, "I will recompense … once and again"; literally, "the first time repeated": alluding to the two captivities—the Babylonian and the Roman. Maurer, "I will recompense their former iniquities (those long ago committed by their fathers) and their (own) repeated sins" (Jer 16:11, 12). English Version gives a good sense, "First (before 'I bring them again into their land'), I will doubly (that is, fully and amply, Jer 17:18; Isa 40:2) recompense."
carcasses—not sweet-smelling sacrifices acceptable to God, but "carcasses" offered to idols, an offensive odor to God: human victims (Jer 19:5; Eze 16:20), and unclean animals (Isa 65:4; 66:17). Maurer explains it, "the carcasses" of the idols: their images void of sense and life. Compare Jer 16:19, 20. Le 26:30 favors this.
O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.
19, 20. The result of God's judgments on the Jews will be that both the Jews when restored, and the Gentiles who have witnessed those judgments, shall renounce idolatry for the worship of Jehovah. Fulfilled partly at the return from Babylon, after which the Jews entirely renounced idols, and many proselytes were gathered in from the Gentiles, but not to be realized in its fulness till the final restoration of Israel (Isa 2:1-17).
Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?
20. indignant protest of Jeremiah against idols.
and they (are) no gods—(Jer 2:11; Isa 37:19; Ga 4:8). "They" refers to the idols. A man (a creature himself) making God is a contradiction in terms. Vulgate takes "they" thus: "Shall man make gods, though men themselves are not gods?"
Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The LORD.
21. Therefore—In order that all may be turned from idols to Jehovah, He will now give awful proof of His divine power in the judgments He will inflict.
this once—If the punishments I have heretofore inflicted have not been severe enough to teach them.
my name … Lord—Jehovah (Ps 83:18): God's incommunicable name, to apply which to idols would be blasphemy. Keeping His threats and promises (Ex 6:3).