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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 15

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.

Moses and Samuel - eminent in intercessions (Moses, on the occasion of God's wrath on account of the golden calf, Exodus 32:11-12; Samuel, at Mizpeh and Eben-ezer, 1 Samuel 7:9; Psalms 99:6, "Moses and Aaron" among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name").

My mind could not be toward - could not be favourably inclined toward them east them.

Cast them out of my sight. God speaks as if the people were present before Him, along with Jeremiah.

Verse 2

And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.

Such as are for death - deadly plague (Jeremiah 43:11; Ezekiel 5:2; Ezekiel 5:12; Zechariah 11:9).

Verse 3

And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy.

Appoint - alluding to Leviticus 26:16, "I will even appoint over you terror, consumption," etc.

Kinds - of punishments.

Verse 4

And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.

I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth - (Deuteronomy 28:25; and Ezekiel 23:46). Rather, 'I will give them up to vexation [lªza`ªwaah, from zuwa` (H2112), to vex; Habakkuk 2:7 ]. I will cause them to wander so as nowhere to have repose (Calvin). The same Hebrew is translated in 2 Chronicles 29:8, "trouble;" margin, 'commotion').

Because of Mannasseh - he was now dead, but the effects of his sins still remained. How much evil one bad man can cause! The evil fruits remain even after he himself has received repentance and forgiveness. The people had followed his wicked example ever since; and it is implied that it was only through the long-suffering of God that the penal consequences had been suspended up to the present time (cf. the case of "Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin," 1 Kings 14:16. As to Manasseh see 2 Kings 21:11; 2 Kings 23:26; 2 Kings 24:3-4).

Verse 5

For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?

Who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? - Who will turn aside (in passing by) to salute thee? (to wish thee 'peace'-so the Hebrew means.)

Verse 6

Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

I am weary with repenting - (Hosea 13:14, "Repentance (change of purpose) shall be hid from mine eyes;" Hosea 11:8). I have so often repented of the evil that I threatened (Jeremiah 26:19; Exodus 32:14; 1 Chronicles 21:15), and have spared them, without my forbearance moving them to repentance, that I will not again change my purpose (God speaking in condescension to human modes of thought), but will take vengeance on them now.

Verse 7

And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways.

I will fan them with a fan - tribulation (from tribulum, a threshing instrument), which separates the chaff from the wheat (Matthew 3:12).

Gates of the land - i:e., the extreme bounds of the land through which the entrance to and exit from it lie (Nahum 3:13). Maurer translates, 'I will fan' - i:e., cast them forth-`to the gates of the land'-namely, with a view to their being cast out of the land. "In the gates:" the English version draws the image from a man cleaning grain with a fan; he stands at the gate of the threshing-floor in the open air to remove the wheat from the chaff by means of the wind; so God threatens to remove Israel out of the bounds of the land (Houbigant). The English version accords with the historic fulfillment of the prophecy; because it was IN the gates of the land, in Riblah, in the land of Hamath (which, from its being the best avenue into the Holy Land is called "the entering in of Hamath"), that Nebuchadnezzar "gave judgment" upon Zedekiah and the Jewish captives (Jeremiah 39:5).

Verse 8

Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city.

Their widows - my peoples (Jeremiah 15:7). I have brought-prophetic past: I will bring.

Against the mother of the young men - "mother" is collective; after the "widows," he naturally mentions bereavement of their sons ("young men"), brought on the 'mothers' by "the spoiler;" it was owing to the number of men slain that the "widows" were so many (Calvin). Others take "mother" as in 2 Samuel 20:19 ("a city and a mother in Israel"), of Jerusalem the metropolis; 'I have brought on them, against the "mother," a young spoiler'-namely, Nebuchadnezzar, sent by his father, Nabopolassar, to repulse Pharaoh-nechoh and the Egyptian invaders (2 Kin. 33:29; 24:1 ), and occupy Judea. But Jeremiah 15:7 shows the future, not the past, is referred to; and "widows" being literal, "mother" is probably so too.

A spoiler at noon-day - the hottest part of the day, when military operations were usually suspended: thus it means unexpectedly, answering to the parallel, "suddenly;" openly, as others explain it, will not suit the parallelism (cf. Psalms 91:6).

It. The English version seems to understand by "it" the mother city, and by "him" the "spoiler;" thus "it" will be parallel to "the city." Rather, 'I will cause to fall upon them (the 'mothers' about to be bereft of their sons) suddenly anguish and terrors.'

The city, [ `iyr (H5892) - rather, from a root 'heat,' anguish, or consternation [akin to `uwr (H5782), to excite]. So Septuagint.

Verse 9

She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while it was yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the LORD.

She that hath born seven - (1 Samuel 2:5, "The barren hath born seven"). Seven, being the perfect number, indicates full fruitfulness.

Languisheth - because not even one is left of all her sons (Jeremiah 15:8).

Her sun is gone down while it was yet day - fortune deserts her at the very height of her prosperity (Amos 8:9).

She hath been ashamed - the mothers (she being collective) are put to the shame of disappointed hopes through the loss of all their children.

Verse 10

Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.

(Jeremiah 20:14; Job 3:1, etc.) Jeremiah seems to have been of a peculiarly sensitive temperament; yet the Holy Spirit enabled him to deliver his message at the certain cost of having his sensitiveness wounded by the enmities of those whom his words offended.

A man of strife - exposed to strifes on the part of "the whole earth" (Psalms 80:6).

I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury - proverbial for, 'I have given no cause for strife against me.'

Verse 11

The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.

Verily - literally, Shall it not be? i:e., Surely it shall be well with.

Thy remnant - the final issue of thy life; thy life, which now seems to thee so sad, shall eventuate in prosperity (Calvin). The Hebrew is, literally, 'thy remarks (shall be) for good' [from the root shaa'ar (H7604), to leave]. They who think that they shall be the surviving remnant, whereas thou shalt perish, shall themselves fall, whereas thou shalt remain and be favoured by the conquerors (Junius). Nebuzaradan, by Nebuchadnezzar's orders, treated Jeremiah well, and "gave him victuals, and a reward, and let him go" (Jeremiah 40:4-5; Jeremiah 39:11-12). The Qeri' reads [shriytikaa, for the Kethibh, sheeriwtikaa: from shaaraah (H8281), to set free], 'I will set thee free.' Maurer retains the Kethibh [but points it as: shaarrowtikaah, from shaarar (H8324)], 'I will establish thee for good' (Jeremiah 14:11; Ezra 8:22; Psalms 119:122).

I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well - literally, cause to meet thee [hipga`tiy]: so 'to be placable, nay, of their own accord to anticipate in meeting thee with kindness' (Calvin). I prefer this translation as according with the event (Jeremiah 39:11-12; Jeremiah 40:4-5). Gesenius, from the use of the Hebrew word (Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 27:18; Job 21:15), translates (not only will I relieve thee from the enemy's vexations, but, 'I will make thine enemy (that now vexeth thee) apply to thee with prayers,' as Zedekiah, and subsequently Johanan, did (Jeremiah 38:14; Jeremiah 42:2-6).

Verse 12

Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?

Northern ... steel - rather, brass or copper, which, mixed with "iron" (by the Chalybes near the Euxine Pontus, far neigh of Palestine), formed the hardest metal, like our steel. Can the Jews, hardy like common iron though they be, break the still hardier Chaldees of the north (Jeremiah 1:14), who resemble the Chalybian iron hardened with copper? Certainly not (Calvin). Henderson translates, 'Can one break iron, (even) the northern iron, and brass,' on the ground that the English version makes ordinary iron not so hard as brass. But it is not brass, but's particular mixture of iron and brass, which is represented as harder than common iron, which was probably then of inferior texture owing to ignorance of modern modes of preparation.

Verse 13

Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders.

Thy substance will I give to the spoil, for all thy sins - Judea's; not Jeremiah's.

Without price - God casts His people away as a thing worth nought (Psalms 44:12). So, on the contrary, Yahweh, when about to restore His people, says, He will give Egypt, etc., for their "ransom" (Isaiah 43:3).

Even in all thy borders - joined with "Thy substance ... treasures," as also with "all thy sins," their sin and punishment being commensurate (Jeremiah 17:3).

Verse 14

And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.

Thee. Maurer, instead of thee, supplies them-namely, "thy treasures." Eichorn, needlessly, from Syriac and Septuagint, reads, 'I will make thee to serve thine enemies;' a reading doubtless interpolated from Jeremiah 17:4.

A fire is kindled in mine anger - quoted from Deuteronomy 32:22, which adds, "and shall burn unto the lowest hell."

Verse 15

O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.

Thou knowest - namely, my case: what wrongs my adversaries have done me (Jeremiah 12:3).

Revenge me - (note, Jeremiah 11:20). The prophet in this had regard to, not his own personal feelings of revenge, but the cause of God; he speaks by inspiration God's will against the unholy. Contrast the prayer of the dying Saviour, and of His first martyr, Stephen (Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do;" Acts 7:60, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge"). At the same time, denunciations of the ungodly occur in the Gospel too: and love to enemies, on the other hand, is also taught in the law. So perfectly do both Testaments mutually harmonize.

Take me not away in thy long-suffering - by thy long-suffering toward them, suffer them not meanwhile to take away my life.

For thy sake I have suffered rebuke - the very words of the antitype, Jesus Christ (Psalms 69:7; Psalms 69:22-28), which last ("Pour out thine indignation upon them," etc.) compare with Jeremiah's prayer in the beginning of this verse.

Verse 16

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

Thy words ... I did eat - (Ezekiel 2:8; Ezekiel 3:1; Ezekiel 3:3; Revelation 10:9-10). As soon as thy words were found by me I eagerly laid hold of and appropriated them. "Found" implies that Jeremiah did not receive Gods revelations as mere passive machine, but with the interest and eager delight with which the men in the parable "found the treasure hid in a field," or the "merchant-man seeking goodly pearls found the one pearl of great price" (Matthew 13:44-45). The Qeri' reads, 'thy word.'

Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart - (Job 23:12; Psalms 119:72; Psalms 119:111: cf. Matthew 13:44.

I am called by thy name - I am thine, thy minister, So the antitype, Jesus Christ (Exodus 23:21).

Verse 17

I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.

I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced - my "rejoicing" (Jeremiah 15:16) was not that of the profane mockers (Psalms 1:1; Psalms 26:4-5; Psalms 35:16, "hypocritical mockers" who sell their raillery for viands) at feasts. So far from having fellowship with these, he was expelled from society, and made to sit "alone," because of his faithful prophecies.

Because of thy hand - i:e., thine inspiration (Isaiah 8:11, "The Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand;" Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 3:14).

Thou hast filled me with indignation. So Jeremiah 6:11, "I am full of the fury of the Lord;" so full was he of the subject (God's "indignation" against the ungodly) with which God had inspired him, as not to be able to contain himself from expressing it. The same comparison by contrast between the effect of inspiration and that of wine, both taking a man out of himself, occurs Acts 2:13; Acts 2:15; Acts 2:18.

Verse 18

Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?

Why is my wound incurable? Jeremiah's wound is incurable because his people's is so: so entirely does he identify himself with them. The answer to the question here is in Jeremiah 30:15, "Thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity." The pain and wound caused to Jeremiah by the perverse opposition of his people to him, in righteous retribution fell on themselves. "Pain" - namely, the perpetual persecution to which he was exposed from his countrymen, and his being left by God without consolation and "alone." Contrast his feeling here with that in Jeremiah 15:16, when he enjoyed the full presence of God, and was inspired by His words. Therefore he utters words of his natural "infirmity" (so David, Psalms 77:10) here; as before he spake under the higher spiritual nature given him.

Wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail? - rather, 'as a deceiving (river) ... waters that are not sure' (lasting); opposed to "living (perennial) waters," (Job 6:15, etc.) Streams that the thirsty traveler had calculated on being full in winter, but which disappoint him in his sorest need, having run dry in the heat of summer. Yahweh had promised Jeremiah protection from his enemies (Jeremiah 1:18-19); his infirmity suggests that God had failed to do so.

Verse 19

Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.

God's reply to Jeremiah.

If thou return, then will I bring thee again. Jeremiah, by his impatient language, had left his proper posture toward God; God saith, "If thou wilt return (to thy former patient discharge of thy prophetic function), I will bring thee back" to thy former position: in the Hebrew there is a play of words, "return ... turn again" (Jeremiah 8:4; Jeremiah 4:1).

Thou shalt stand before me - minister acceptably to me (Deuteronomy 10:8; 1 Kings 17:1; 1 Kings 18:15).

If thou take forth the precious from the vile - image from metals: 'If thou wilt separate what is precious in thee (the divine graces imparted) from what is vile (thy natural corruptions, impatience, and hasty words), thou shalt be as my mouth:' my mouthpiece (Exodus 4:16).

Return not thou unto them - let not them lead you into their profane ways (as Jeremiah had spoken irreverently, Jeremiah 15:18), but lead thou them to the ways of godliness (Jeremiah 15:16-17). Ezekiel 22:26 ("They have put no difference between the holy and profane") accords with the other interpretation, which however, does not so well suit the context, 'If thou wilt separate from the promiscuous mass the better ones, and lead them to conversion by faithful warnings,' etc.

Verses 20-21

And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall ... - the promise of Jeremiah 1:18-19, in almost the same words, but with the addition, adapted to the present attacks of Jeremiah's formidable enemies, "I will deliver thee out of the hands of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible." The repetition is in order to assure Jeremiah that God is the same now as when He first made the promise, in opposition to the prophet's irreverent accusation of unfaithfulness (Jeremiah 15:18).


(1) One bad man holding an influential position, such as Manasseh did, can often cause more evil than the intercessions of many good men in a nation can avail to counteract (Jeremiah 15:1-4). 'The evil that men do lives after them is the true sentiment of England's great dramatist. Though Manasseh was long dead, the bad effects of his wicked reign survived. Not even his genuine, though late, repentance could undo the mischief caused by his long previous career of sin.

(2) What a lesson to the young not to put off piety until the close of life! They may never reach old age; and if even they do, it is by no means likely that they will repent then, after having contracted long habits of worldliness, considering the power of habit over us all, which is second nature. For though a true repentance is never too late, a late repentance is seldom true. And if even by a miracle of grace they do repent truly, like Manasseh, in later years, not all their subsequent remorse and tears of regret can undo the bad effect on others of their past evil influence.

(3) Still Manasseh's bad example did not excuse Jerusalem from following him in sin. If the Jews had imitated his since repentance, as they did his sin, they, like him, would have found pardon and peace. But, alas! most men will follow readily a bad pattern who will not follow a good one. Therefore, Jerusalem deserved no "pity" (Jeremiah 15:5). She had richly merited her doom. The facility with which she passed at once from the outward profession of godliness under the pious "Hezekiah's" reign, to the extreme of abominable idolatries under his degenerate "son" Manasseh's reign (Jeremiah 15:4), proved that she was corrupt at heart, and ripe for judgment. God's frequent repentings of threatened punishment, through His tender long-suffering, had not drawn them to repentance, but had only confirmed them in their apostasy. His forbearance now at last gives place to wrath. His "fan" is in His hand (Jeremiah 15:7); the chaff must no longer be allowed to remain with the wheat, but must be given to the fire. "Suddenly," when the "sun" of her fortune seemed at its meridian, it "goes down," leaving her to the blackness of darkness (Jeremiah 15:8-9). So shall it be with all who, having great spiritual privileges, neglect and abuse them: who "despise the riches of God's forbearance and long-suffering," which is designed to "lead them to repentance" (Romans 2:4). "That servant who knows his Lord's will, and prepares not himself, nor does according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes" (Luke 12:47); "The Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and at an hour when he is not aware."

(4) It is a great pain to the servants of God that, though they are, by their high calling and in heart, men of peace, they are regarded, because of their faithfulness to Him who has called them, as "men of strife and centention" (Jeremiah 15:10). It was so with their Lord, and they cannot expect to fare better than He. Though he is "the Prince of peace," and angels at His birth sang "On earth peace," yet, through m en's perverse opposition, He foretold the result of His mission would be, not "peace, but rather division" (Luke 12:51-53). But this is not always to be so: the final issue (note, Jeremiah 15:11,) shall be to Christ and His faithful servants "on earth peace." "He shall speak peace unto the pagan" (Zechariah 9:10); and will break the bow-the sword-and the battle out of the earth." Even now often, as in Jeremiah's case, "When a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Jeremiah 39:11-12; Jeremiah 40:4-5). However troublesome may be the way, the end of the spiritually upright man is peace (Psalms 37:37).

(5) It is a great comfort to God's servants, when maligned by the worldly, to be able to appeal for vindication of their cause to the Lord, who "knows" their conscientiousness of motive (Jeremiah 15:15). Happy are we if we be reproached for His name (1 Peter 4:14): for then our cause is His cause, and our interests are identified with His. He will see to the vindication of His own honour in our persons.

(6) The believer rejoices at God's Word as one that findeth (Jeremiah 15:16) great spoil (Psalms 119:162). It is not enough to assent to, but we must also appropriate TO ourselves, feed on, and digest God's Word, the proper nutriment of the soul, as one eats wholesome food for the nourishment of the body (Jeremiah 15:16). Thus, there flows into the soul a spiritual joy infinitely above all the joy of carnal feasts (Jeremiah 15:16-17).

(7) But, alas! how variable are the best of us in our spiritual frames of feeling. The prophet passes speedily from the height of joy in the Lord to the depths of depression: giving way to the natural infirmity of a sensitive disposition, wounded by the continual assaults of enemies, he even dares to accuse God of unfaithfulness to His promises. Let us beware of losing much of the joy of religion by yielding to natural fretfulness and impatience under trial, as even Jeremiah sometimes did. God's Word cannot fail: our wisdom, then, is "to return" from distrust, to the believer's true position of implicit trust in Him, whatever discouragements may cloud our path. Then shall we find that, as "God is with us to save and deliver" us, no enemy can "prevail against" us.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/jeremiah-15.html. 1871-8.
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