JEREMIAH CHAPTER 16.
The Conduct of the Prophet with Regard to Judah's Destruction.
THE INSTRUCTION OF JEHOVAH. — V. 1. The word of the Lord came also unto me, saying, v. 2. Thou shall not take thee a wife, neither shall thou have sons or daughters in this place, he should not have a family, although this was otherwise self-evident among the Jews. V. 3. 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, all the persons belonging to the married estate being included in this enumeration: v. 4. They shall die of grievous deaths, in a most miserable manner; they shall not be lamented, neither shall they be buried, but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth, cp. chap. 8, 2; 9,22; and they shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, perishing in some of the great scourges of the ancient world; and their carcasses shall be meat for the fowls of heaven and for the beasts of the earth, the birds and beasts of prey devouring them where they fell. V. 5. For thus saith the Lord, in bidding Jeremiah refrain from every show of sympathy for the fate of the apostate people, Enter not into the house of mourning, where some one had died and where people were giving loud expression to their grief, neither go to lament nor bemoan them; for I have taken away My peace from this people, saith the Lord, that upon which every blessing and all happiness depend, even loving-kindness and mercies, the source of every good and perfect gift. V. 6. Both the great and the small shall die in this land, as a result of the withdrawal of His blessing; they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, with the usual signs of mourning, nor cut themselves, making incisions in the flesh, nor make themselves bald for them, by shaving off a part of their hair, a token of excessive sorrow and grief in the Orient; v. 7. neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning, literally, "break bread for them," to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother. The reference is to the custom of sending bread and wine to the house of such as had been bereaved by death in order to refresh and comfort them. V. 8. Thou shall not also go into the house of feasting to sit with them to eat and to drink, to attend such a mournful feast of survivors in person and to show sympathy in any form whatever. V. 9. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, who here again makes announcement of His intention in a most solemn manner. Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, that is, "before 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, this being the usual formula for announcing the full sweep of the Lord's wrath. Cp. Is. 24,7.8; Rev. 18,23.
REASONS FOR THE CAPTIVITY. — V. 10. And it shall come to pass, when thou shall show this people all these words, declaring to them the judgment of the Lord, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? this being asked with a great show of pretended innocence, or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the Lord, our God? the implied assertion being that they were being threatened without a cause, v. 11. then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken Me, saith the Lord, and have walked after other gods, thus habitually indulging in idolatry, and have served them, and have worshiped them, and have, on the other hand, forsaken Me, and have not kept My Law. V. 12. And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, in deliberate stubbornness, that they may not hearken unto Me, or, "that ye hearken not unto Me," obstinately ignoring His Word; v. 13. therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers, a country altogether strange to them, and there shall ye serve other gods day and night, without intermission; where I will not show you favor. This is a form of holy irony: what they willingly did in their own country, they would be obliged to do in the land of their captivity; because they voluntarily forsook the true God at home, they would be prevented from serving Him elsewhere. At the same time the Lord opens up before the eyes of Judah a way of redemption, the thought of which was intended to keep His people from despair. V. 14. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, according to the asseveration which had been common in Judah these many centuries. The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, this being a very emphatic statement, v. 15. but, The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the North, from Babylon, and from all the lands whither He had driven them, from the lands of their exile; and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers, this promise being like a ray of light in the midst of extreme darkness. This thought is expanded still more in the next paragraph. V. 16. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, whose nets would enfold large multitudes to take them captive, 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, this indicating the extent in which the sentence of captivity was carried out. V. 17. For Mine eyes are upon all their ways, observing their entire conduct; they are not hid from My face, neither is their iniquity hid from Mine eyes, they are unable to conceal it before His omniscient gaze. V. 18. And first, that is, to begin with, I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double, in twice the measure in which they committed their wicked deeds; because they have defiled My land, desecrating the country which was considered hallowed to Him; they have filled Mine inheritance, what He had given them to possess as their own, with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable things, with their dead and loathsome idols. V. 19. O Lord, so the prophet now addresses Jehovah, the God of the covenant, in expressing his own hope and that of all true Israelites concerning the return of the people to the true God, my Strength and my fortress, his Protection against the enemies, and my Refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto Thee from the ends of the earth, thus joining the believers in Israel in their recognition of the vanity of their own idols, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit, the trouble in which they found themselves bringing them to this realization. This admission on the part of the Gentiles is now substantiated by the prophet. V. 20. Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? The question has the strength of a most emphatic denial, of a stern rebuke to the men of Judah for their idolatrous ways. Moreover, the Lord expresses His emphatic agreement with this statement of Jeremiah. V. 21. Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, in the impending catastrophe, I will cause them to know Mine hand and My might, as it descends upon them in anger; and they shall know that My name is "The Lord," that He alone is God in truth. Cp. Ezek. 12, 15; Ex. 3, 14. Many a person has since that time been brought to a realization of the same truth by similar stern measures of the Lord.