1. return . . . return--play on words. "If thou wouldest return to thy land (thou must first), return (by conversion and repentance) to Me."
not remove--no longer be an unsettled wanderer in a strange land. So Cain ( Genesis 4:12 Genesis 4:14 ).
2. And thou--rather, "And if (carried on from Jeremiah 4:1 ) thou shalt swear, 'Jehovah liveth,' in truth, &c.", that is, if thou shalt worship Him (for we swear by the God whom we worship; compare Deuteronomy 6:13 , 10:20 , Isaiah 19:18 , Amos 8:14 ) in sincerity, &c.
and the nations--Rather, this is apodosis to the "if"; then shall the nations bless themselves in (by) Him" ( Isaiah 65:16 ). The conversion of the nations will be the consequence of Israel's conversion ( Psalms 102:13 Psalms 102:15 , Romans 11:12 Romans 11:15 ).
3. Transition to Judah. Supply mentally. All which (the foregoing declaration as to Israel) applies to Judah.
and Jerusalem--that is, and especially the men of Jerusalem, as being the most prominent in Judea.
Break . . . fallow ground--that is, Repent of your idolatry, and so be prepared to serve the Lord in truth ( Hosea 10:12 , Matthew 13:7 ). The unhumbled heart is like ground which may be improved, being let out to us for that purpose, but which is as yet fallow, overgrown with weeds, its natural product.
5. cry, gather together--rather, "cry fully" that is, loudly. The Jews are warned to take measures against the impending Chaldean invasion (compare Jeremiah 8:14 ).
6. Zion--The standard toward Zion intimated that the people of the surrounding country were to fly to it, as being the strongest of their fortresses.
9. heart--The wisdom of the most leading men will be utterly at a loss to devise means of relief.
10. thou hast . . . deceived--God, having even the false prophets in His hands, is here said to do that which for inscrutable purposes He permits them to do ( Exodus 9:12 , 2 Thessalonians 2:11 ; compare Jeremiah 8:15 ; which passage shows that the dupes of error were self-prepared for it, and that God's predestination did not destroy their moral freedom as voluntary agents). The false prophets foretold "peace," and the Jews believed them; God overruled this to His purposes ( Jeremiah 5:12 , 14:13 , Ezekiel 14:9 ).
soul--rather, "reacheth to the life."
11. dry wind--the simoom, terrific and destructive, blowing from the southeast across the sandy deserts east of Palestine. Image of the invading Babylonian army ( Hosea 13:15 ). Babylon in its turn shall be visited by a similar "destroying wind" ( Jeremiah 51:1 ).
of . . . high places--that is, that sweeps over the high places.
daughter--that is, the children of my people.
not to fan--a very different wind from those ordinary winds employed for fanning the grain in the open air.
12. full . . . from those places--rather, "a wind fuller (that is, more impetuous) than those winds" (which fan the corn) ( Jeremiah 4:11 ) [ROSENMULLER].
unto me--"for Me," as My instrument for executing My purpose.
sentence--judgments against them ( Jeremiah 1:16 ).
13. clouds--continuing the metaphor in Jeremiah 4:11:12 . Clouds of sand and dust accompany the simoom, and after rapid gyrations ascend like a pillar.
eagles--( Deuteronomy 28:49 , Habakkuk 1:8 ).
Woe unto us--The people are graphically presented before us, without it being formally so stated, bursting out in these exclamations.
14. Only one means of deliverance is left to the Jews--a thorough repentance.
vain thoughts--namely, projects for deliverance, such as enlisting the Egyptians on their side. GESENIUS translates, "How long wilt thou harbor vain thoughts?"
15. For . . . from Dan--The connection is: There is danger in delay; for the voice of a messenger announces the approach of the Chaldean enemy from Dan, the northern frontier of Palestine ( Jeremiah 8:16 ; compare Jeremiah 4:6 , Jeremiah 1:14 ).
Mount Ephraim--which borders closely on Judah; so that the foe is coming nearer and nearer. Dan and Beth-el in Ephraim were the two places where Jeroboam set up the idolatrous calves ( 1 Kings 12:29 ); just retribution.
16. The neighboring foreign "nations" are summoned to witness Jehovah's judgments on His rebel people ( Jeremiah 6:18 Jeremiah 6:19 ).
watchers--that is, besiegers (compare 2 Samuel 11:16 ); observed or watched, that is, besieged.
their voice--the war shout.
17. keepers of a field--metaphor from those who watch a field, to frighten away the wild beasts.
19. The prophet suddenly assumes the language of the Jewish state personified, lamenting its affliction ( Jeremiah 10:19 Jeremiah 10:20 , Jeremiah 9:1 Jeremiah 9:10 , Isaiah 15:5 ; compare Luke 19:41 ).
at my very heart--Hebrew, "at the walls of my heart"; the muscles round the heart. There is a climax, the "bowels," the pericardium, the "heart" itself.
maketh . . . noise--moaneth [HENDERSON].
alarm--the battle shout.
20. Destruction . . . cried--Breach upon breach is announced ( Psalms 42:7 , Ezekiel 7:26 ). The war "trumpet" . . . the battle shout . . . the "destructions" . . . the havoc throughout "the whole land" . . . the spoiling of the shepherds "tents" ( Jeremiah 10:20 ; or, "tents" means cities, which should be overthrown as easily as tents [CALVIN]), form a gradation.
21. Judah in perplexity asks, How long is this state of things to continue?
22. Jehovah's reply; they cannot be otherwise than miserable, since they persevere in sin. The repetition of clauses gives greater force to the sentiment.
wise . . . evil . . . to do good . . . no knowledge--reversing the rule ( Romans 16:19 ) "wise unto . . . good, simple concerning evil."
23. Graphic picture of the utter desolation about to visit Palestine. "I beheld, and lo!" four times solemnly repeated, heightens the awful effect of the scene (compare Isaiah 24:19 , 34:11 ).
without form and void--reduced to the primeval chaos ( Genesis 1:2 ).
24. mountains--( Isaiah 5:25 ).
moved lightly--shook vehemently.
26. fruitful place--Hebrew, Carmel.
a wilderness--Hebrew, "the wilderness," in contrast to "the fruitful place"; the great desert, where Carmel was, there is now the desert of Arabia [MAURER].
cities--in contrast to the fruitful place or field.
29. whole city--Jerusalem: to it the inhabitants of the country had fled for refuge; but when it, too, is likely to fall, they flee out of it to hide in the "thickets." HENDERSON translates, "every city."
noise--The mere noise of the hostile horsemen shall put you to flight.
30. when thou art spoiled--rather, "thou, O destroyed one" [MAURER].
rentest . . . face with painting--Oriental women paint their eyes with stibium, or antimony, to make them look full and sparkling, the black margin causing the white of the eyes to appear the brighter by contrast ( 2 Kings 9:30 ). He uses the term "distendest" in derision of their effort to make their eyes look large [MAURER]; or else, "rentest," that is, dost lacerate by puncturing the eyelid in order to make the antimony adhere [ROSENMULLER]. So the Jews use every artifice to secure the aid of Egypt against Babylon.
face--rather, thy eyes ( Ezekiel 23:40 ).
31. anguish--namely, occasioned by the attack of the enemy.
daughter of Zion--There is peculiar beauty in suppressing the name of the person in trouble, until that trouble had been fully described [HENDERSON].
bewaileth herself--rather, "draweth her breath short" [HORSLEY]; "panteth."
spreadeth . . . hands--( Lamentations 1:17 ).