O ye children of Benjamin
The tribe of Benjamin was with the tribe of Judah, and continued with that in the pure worship of God when the ten tribes revolted; and in the land of Israel, when they were carried captive; and besides, Jerusalem, at least part of it, was in the tribe of Benjamin, and particularly Anathoth, which was Jeremiah's native place, was in that tribe; and this altogether is a reason why the children of Benjamin are so distinctly addressed: gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem;
where some of this tribe lived, or had betaken themselves for safety: or the Jews in general may be meant; for, as Ephraim is often put for the ten tribes, so Benjamin may be put for the two tribes, as Judah frequently is: or the words may be rendered, "be ye strong" F9 "out of the midst of Jerusalem"; as by the Septuagint, and others; and the sense may be, gather together in bodies out of Jerusalem, and form yourselves into companies, and into an army, and be prepared to meet the enemy, and fight him, who is near at hand; quit yourselves like men, and be strong; show courage and valour; perhaps this is spoken ironically, as Kimchi thinks it is; though he interprets the word, "flee ye"; that is, if ye can find a place to flee to; and the Targum is,
``remove out of the midst of Jerusalem;''but it seems rather to be a direction to go forth and meet the enemy, by what follows: and blow the trumpet in Tekoa;
as an alarm of war, to give the people notice of an invasion; that the enemy was at hand, and therefore should provide themselves with armour, and gather together to meet and oppose him. Tekoa was a city in Judah, ( 2 Chronicles 11:5 2 Chronicles 11:6 ) , famous, for a wise woman in it, in the times of David, ( 2 Samuel 14:2 ) . Jerom says it was twelve miles from Jerusalem, and might be seen with the eye; so that probably it was built on a very high hill, and for that reason chosen to blow the trumpet on, that it might be heard far and near; and which may be confirmed from its being said F11 to be the chief place in the land of Israel for the best oil, since olives grow on hills and mountains. There is in the clause a beautiful play on words F12, which those, who understand the Hebrew language, will easily observe: and set up a fire in Bethhaccerem.
This place, as Jerom says, lay between Jerusalem and Tekoa; one of this name is mentioned in ( Nehemiah 3:14 ) . The Targum renders it,
``the house of the valley of the vineyards;''and in the Misnah F13 mention is made of the valley of Bethhaccerem, the dust of which was red, and, when water was poured upon it, became hard; and this valley perhaps took its name from the town, which might be built upon a hill, and was famous for vines, from whence it was so called; and here might be a very high tower; for, as Kimchi and Ben Melech observe, it signifies a high tower, for the keepers of the vines to sit and watch the vines all about; and this was a very proper place to set up the sign of fire in, to give notice to the country all around; for it was usual with all nations, Persians, Grecians, and Romans, to signify in the night, by signs of fire, by burning torches, and the like, either the approach of an enemy, or help from friends; the former was done by shaking and moving their torches, the latter by holding them still F14; see ( Judges 20:38 Judges 20:40 ) : for evil appeareth out of the north;
Nebuchadnezzar and his army out of Babylon, which lay north of Jerusalem: and great destruction; see ( Jeremiah 1:14 ) ( 4:6 ) .
F9 (wzyeh) (eniscusate) , Sept. "confortamini", V. L. "fortes estote", Tigurine version.
F11 Misn. Menachot c. 8. sect. 3.
F12 (weqt ewqtb) .
F13 Misna Nidda, c. 2. c. 5. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
F14 Vid. Lydium de re Militari, l. 5. c. 3. p. 185, 186. & Van Tillin ib. p. 52.