Jeremiah 12:5

The Lord Answers Jeremiah

5 "If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in 1the thicket of the Jordan?

Jeremiah 12:5 Meaning and Commentary

Jeremiah 12:5

If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee,
&c.] The Targum introduces the words thus,

``this is the answer which was made to Jeremiah the prophet, concerning his question; a prophet thou art, like to a man that runs with footmen, and is weary.''
Then how canst thou contend with horses?
or with men on horses: the sense is, either as Kimchi gives it, thou art among men like thyself, and thou art not able to find out their secrets and their designs against thee (see ( Jeremiah 11:18 Jeremiah 11:19 ) ); how shouldest thou know my secrets in the government of the world, as to the prosperity of the wicked, and the afflictions of the righteous? be silent, and do not trouble thyself about these things: or rather, as thou hast had a conflict with the men of Anathoth, and they have been too many for thee; they have grieved and distressed thee, and have made thee weary of my work and service; and thou hast been ready to give out, and declare that thou wilt be no longer concerned therein; what wilt thou do, when thou comest to be exercised with greater and sorer trials, and shalt have to do with the king of Judah and his court, with his princes and nobles, the sanhedrim at Jerusalem, and the priests and inhabitants thereof? The Targum interprets the footmen of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and of the good things done to him; and the horses of the righteous fathers of the Jews, who run like horses to do good works, and of the much greater good reserved for them; but very improperly: much better might it be applied, as it is by some, to the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites, who gave the Jews much trouble; and therefore what would they do with the Chaldean army, consisting of a large cavalry, and which would come upon them like an impetuous stream, and overflow, as the swelling of Jordan, as follows? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee;
if in his own native country, where he promised himself much peace, safety, and security, he met with that which ruffled and disturbed him: then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
when it overflowed its bank, ( Joshua 3:15 ) and may denote the pride and haughtiness of the king and princes of Judea, and of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and the difficulties that would attend the prophet's discharge of his duty among them; and the same thing is signified by this proverbial expression as the former.

Jeremiah 12:5 In-Context

3 But you, O LORD, know me; you see me, and test my heart toward you. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and set them apart for the day of slaughter.
4 How long will the land mourn and the grass of every field wither? For the evil of those who dwell in it the beasts and the birds are swept away, because they said, "He will not see our latter end."
5 "If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
6 For even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you."
7 "I have forsaken my house; I have abandoned my heritage; I have given the beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44; Zechariah 11:3; [Joshua 3:15]
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.