Page images
PDF
EPUB

beheld the mountains; and, lo, they trembled, and allt the hills moved lightly. 25. I beheld; and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. 26. I beheld; and, lo the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken at the presence of the Lord by his fierce anger. 27. For thus hath the Lord said, "The whole land shall be desolate: yet will I not make a full end. 28. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it. 29. The whole city shall flee*, for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: the whole city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.

i. 13. And the word of the Lord came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot, and the face thereof is turned from the north. 14. Then the Lord said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. 15. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the Lord: and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.

vi. 1. O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up the fire-beacon in Bethhaccerim: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great de. struction. 22. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, a people cometh from the north-country, and a great nation shall be roused from the ends of the earth. 23. They shall lay hold on bow and spear: they are cruel, and have no mercy: their voice roareth like the sea, and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.

x. 22. Behold the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the north-country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, a den of dragons. 23. O Lord,

The whole city shall flee.] Compare Zechar. xiv. 1, 2, 3,

I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. 24. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. 25. Pour out thy fury upon the nations that know thee not, and the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.

xii. 10. Many pastors * have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.' 11. They have desolated it into a desolate wilderness: it mourneth unto me being desolate, for no man layeth it to heart. 12. Upon all the plains in the wilderness the spoilers have come: for the sword of the Lord devoureth from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no Alesh shall have peace. 13. They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns: they have put themselves to pain, but shall not profit: and they shall be ashamed of your revenues, because of the fierce anger of the Lord.

14. Thus saith the Lord against all the evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from

15. And it shall come to pass after that I have plucked them out, I will return and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land. 16. And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The Lord liveth, as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shalí they be built in the midst of my people. 17. But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up, and destroy that nation, saith the Lord.

among them.

COMMENTARY.

Prophecy was a business, in which the intellect of man, under the control of the inspiring Spirit, had an

Many pastors.] Princes or leaders, shepherds of the people. See Bp. Newton's Dissert. v111.3.

active share; and accordingly the composition owes much of its colouring (but nothing more).to the natural genius and taste of the writer. And hence it is that such a variety of style is found in the works of the different authors of the Old Testament, all equally inspired. In Isaiah the transitions are remarkably sudden and bold* :" Jeremiah possesses less of the sublime, and is for the most part lax and diffuse in his mode of writing t.

It is generally maintained, that the twelve first chapters of this prophet were composed in the reign of Josiahs: and they afford, I think, a sufficient degree of internal evidence to warrant the opinion, that they all constitute jointly one continued prediction. Jeremiah's natural style has led him to expand through twelve chapters, what Isaiah would probably have condensed into one or two: and he has perpetually departed from his main subject to bewail the sins of his people, or to introduce what may be termed episodical prophecies g. Yet, true to his original point, he repeatedly and as it were anxiously re-curs to some tremendous invasion of Palestine from the north.

The most compact part of the prediction, if I may so speak, is contained in the 3d and 4th chapters; and this, I apprehend, will lead us to a right understanding of the whole. Jeremiah foretells, in the 3d chapter, that, as the house of Israel had been led away captive in consequence of her spiritual fornication, so likewise should the house of Judah; that God however would not retain his anger for ever, but that the house of Israel upon her sincere repentance should certainly be restored; that the Lord would again marry her, and at the time of her restoration would gather her lost children, one out of a city, and two out of a family; that he would give her pastors according to his own heart; that, when her children should be multiplied and increased in the land, they should no longer,

* Bp. of St. Asaph's letter on the 18th chap. of Isaiah, p. 78.

† “ Jeremias, quanquam nec elegantia nec sublimitate caret, tamen utra> que cedit lsaiæ-In sensibus quidem aliquanto minus est elatus, in sententiis plerumque laxior et solutior." Lowth de sacra poesi. Heb. Præl. XXI.

# See Gray's Key, p. 378.

$ Thus, in Chap. v. ver. 15..-18, the desolation of Fudah by the Romans predicted

as in old times, venerate the ark of the convenant, but that the ceremonial law should be entirely abolished; that, at this same period, Jerusalem should be called the throne of the Lord ; that all nations should be gathered unto it, even unto the name of the Lord; and that they should walk no more after the imagination of their evil heart: finally, that in those days the house of Judah should walk with the house of Israel* ; that they should no longer form two distinct and rival nations; but that they should coalesce together into one; and should be brought back out of the land of the north into the land of the inheritance of their fathers.

It appears to me sufficiently evident, that the whole of this is an unfulfilled prophecy. It nearly altogether treats, of the general restoration of Israel, as contradistinguished from the partial restoration of Judah. The house of Israel however has not yet returned : we have not yet beheld her lost children gathered, by some divine interposition, individually, one oụt of a city, and two out of a family : the days are not yet arrived, when she . hath received pastors according to the heart of the Lord: she hath not yet so returned unto the land of her inheritance, as there to have ceased to venerate the ark of the covenant and the ceremonial law : the nations have not yet been gathered unto Jerusalem; neither have they as yet ceased to walk after the imagination of their evil heart : Judah and Israel have not yet coalesced into one people. The only time, when this prophecy might be conceived to have been accomplished, was at the period of the restoration from Babylon, when several individuals of the ten tribes returned with and were mingled with the tribe of Judah: (but independent of such an interpretation being little better than a mere quibble), if we consider the general tenor of it, we shall be convinced that it is impossible

* « The reunion of Israel and Judah, and their joint participation of the bless. ings of the Messiah's kingdom, is elsewhere foretold (See Jerem. xxiii. 6. XXX. S...9 Isaiah xi. 12, 13. Ezek. xxxvii. 21, 22. Hos. i. 11. Rom. xi. 26.). And that in the latter days they shall actually return from their seve, ral dispersions, to dwell as a nation in their own land, is declared in such ex. press terms by most of the ancient prophets, that there cannot be a doubt, think, of its being literally fulfilled in due time.” Dr. Blayney on Jerem. iii. 18.

to refer its completion to that era. During the time which elapsed between the restoration from Babylon and the first advent of our Lord, we cannot allow the Jews to have been uniformly fed by faithful pastors; neither had they ceased to venerate the ceremonial law ; neither were all nations gathered unto Jerusalem; nor had they ceased to walk after the imagination of their evil heart. Hence it is plain, that the prophecy was not then accomplished; and, if it were not then accomplished, we must look for its completion to some yet future period.

With this restoration however of Israel and Judah, which has never yet taken place, the prophet immediately connects some tremendous invasion of Palestine from the north. He mentions it in his first chapter, previous to his entering more immediately upon his main subject : he next, in his fourth chapter, unites it with his main subject: and he afterwards seems never to lose sight of it, for in the subsequent parts of his prediction he refers to it no less than three different times. What then are we to understand by this invasion from the north? It might be thought, from the circumstance of Jeremiah's elsewhere joining the families of the north with Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon *, that this northern invasion meant that of the Babylonians: but the general tenor of the prophecy will scarcely warrant such an opinion. Nebuchadnezzar might indeed pour into Palestine from his northern provinces of Syria and Samaria, although his empire itself lay almost directly east of Jerusalem ; but no invasion of his, from whatever quarter it might proceed, can have any relation to one, which Jeremiah im. mediately connects with the yet future restoration of Israel and Judah. The same remark applies with double force to the expedition of Titus against Jerusalem. He himself came, not from the north, but from the west: and with him he brought only a small body of troops; for the main army, of which he took the command, was already quartered in Palestine and the neighbouring provinces t.

* Jerem. xxv. 9.

23

† Tacit. Hist. L.v. C. ;

« PreviousContinue »