Prohibitions given to the prophet. (1-9) The justice of God in these judgments. (10-13) Future restoration of the Jews, and the conversion of the Gentiles. (14-21)
Verses 1-9 The prophet must conduct himself as one who expected to see his country ruined very shortly. In the prospect of sad times, he is to abstain from marriage, mourning for the dead, and pleasure. Those who would convince others of the truths of God, must make it appear by their self-denial, that they believe it themselves. Peace, inward and outward, family and public, is wholly the work of God, and from his loving-kindness and mercy. When He takes his peace from any people, distress must follow. There may be times when it is proper to avoid things otherwise our duty; and we should always sit loose to the pleasures and concerns of this life.
Verses 10-13 Here seems to be the language of those who quarrel at the word of God, and instead of humbling and condemning themselves, justify themselves, as though God did them wrong. A plain and full answer is given. They were more obstinate in sin than their fathers, walking every one after the devices of his heart. Since they will not hearken, they shall be hurried away into a far country, a land they know not. If they had God's favour, that would make even the land of their captivity pleasant.
Verses 14-21 The restoration from the Babylonish captivity would be remembered in place of the deliverance from Egypt; it also typified spiritual redemption, and the future deliverance of the church from antichristian oppression. But none of the sins of sinners can be hidden from God, or shall be overlooked by him. He will find out and raise up instruments of his wrath, that shall destroy the Jews, by fraud like fishers, by force like hunters. The prophet, rejoicing at the hope of mercy to come, addressed the Lord as his strength and refuge. The deliverance out of captivity shall be a figure of the great salvation to be wrought by the Messiah. The nations have often known the power of Jehovah in his wrath; but they shall know him as the strength of his people, and their refuge in time of trouble.
Jeremiah 16:1-21 . CONTINUATION OF THE PREVIOUS PROPHECY.
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 ( Ezekiel 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 1 Corinthians 7:8 1 Corinthians 7:26 1 Corinthians 7:29 , Matthew 24:19 , Luke 23:29 ).
4. grievous deaths--rather, "deadly diseases" ( Jeremiah 15:2 ).
not . . . lamented--so many shall be the slain ( Jeremiah 22:18 ).
dung--( Psalms 83:10 ).
5. ( Ezekiel 24:17 Ezekiel 24:22 Ezekiel 24:23 ).
house of mourning--( Mark 5:38 ). Margin, "mourning-feast"; such feasts were usual at funerals. The Hebrew means, in Amos 6:7 , the cry of joy at a banquet; here, and Lamentations 2:19 , the cry of sorrow.
6. cut themselves--indicating extravagant grief ( Jeremiah 41:5 , 47:5 ), prohibited by the law ( Leviticus 19:28 ).
bald--( Jeremiah 7:29 , Isaiah 22:12 ).
7. tear themselves--rather, "break bread," namely, that eaten at the funeral-feast ( Deuteronomy 26:14 , Job 42:11 , Ezekiel 24:17 , Hosea 9:4 ). "Bread" is to be supplied, as in Lamentations 4:4 ; compare "take" (food) ( Genesis 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."
8. house of feasting--joyous: as distinguished from mourning-feasts. Have no more to do with this people whether in mourning or joyous feasts.
9. ( Jeremiah 7:34 , 25:10;,Ezek 26:13 Ezek 25:10 ).
10. ( Deuteronomy 29:24 , 1 Kings 9:8 1 Kings 9:9 ).
11. ( Jeremiah 5:19 , 13:22 , Jeremiah 22:8 Jeremiah 22:9 ).
12. ye--emphatic: so far from avoiding your fathers' bad example, ye have done worse ( Jeremiah 7:26 , 1 Kings 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."
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 ( Daniel 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.
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, Jeremiah 16:13 Jeremiah 16:17 Jeremiah 16:18 , proves ( Jeremiah 23:7 Jeremiah 23:8 , Isaiah 43:18 ).
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
16. send for--translate, "I will send many"; "I will give the commission to many" ( 2 Chronicles 17:7 ).
fishers . . . hunters--successive invaders of Judea ( Amos 4:2 , Habakkuk 1:14 Habakkuk 1:15 ). So "net" ( Ezekiel 12:13 ). As to "hunters," see Genesis 10:9 , Micah 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 ( Ezekiel 47:9 Ezekiel 47:10 ). 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 ( Matthew 4:19 , Luke 5:10 , Acts 2:41 , 4:4 ); compare here Jeremiah 16:19 , "the Gentiles shall come unto thee" ( 2 Corinthians 12:16 ).
17. ( Jeremiah 32:19 , Proverbs 5:21 , 15:3 ).
their iniquity--the cause of God's judgments on them.
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" ( Jeremiah 16:11 Jeremiah 16:12 ). English Version gives a good sense, "First (before 'I bring them again into their land'), I will doubly (that is, fully and amply, Jeremiah 17:18 , Isaiah 40:2 ) recompense."
carcasses--not sweet-smelling sacrifices acceptable to God, but "carcasses" offered to idols, an offensive odor to God: human victims ( Jeremiah 19:5 , Ezekiel 16:20 ), and unclean animals ( Isaiah 65:4 , 66:17 ). MAURER explains it, "the carcasses" of the idols: their images void of sense and life, Compare Jeremiah 16:19 Jeremiah 16:20 . Leviticus 26:30 favors this.
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 ( Isaiah 2:1-17 ).
20. indignant protest of Jeremiah against idols.
and they (are) no gods--( Jeremiah 2:11 , Isaiah 37:19 , Galatians 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?"
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 ( Psalms 83:18 ): God's incommunicable name, to apply which to idols would be blasphemy. Keeping His threats and promises ( Exodus 6:3 ).