Page images

which follows from ver. 11. of this Chapter belongs to the same subject with the exid Chapter, and relates to the time of Jehoiakim.” And afterwards in his Note on these words, “ lest my fury go out like fire,” he infers from them, “ that this prophecy was antecedent to that at " the beginning of the Chapter, and before that peremptory decree was

published against the king's house, mentioned ver. 7. of this Chapter." But I cannot help thinking that this latter part is but a continuation of the same prophecy with which the Chapter begins ; for the house of David was still to be visited with more calamities than those which had befallen it in the days of Jehoiakim. And how peremptory soever the decree may sound, ver. 7. we must remember the rule laid down concerning such decrees, Ch. xviii. 7. S. none of which, it seems, are irreversible on the condition of a change of conduct. And though God may well be supposed to know when no such ground of reversal will take place, yet it is agreeable to the justice of his providence, repeatedly to admonish sinners of the means by which his judgments may be avoided, that they may have none to blame but themselves, when the threatened vengeance overtakes them.

Ibid.---of your doings---] The Masora for 1:3999 reads opne and is countenanced by twenty one MSS. and by the Syr. Chald. and Vulgate versions. The LXX. omit the three last words of this verse; but in ΜS. Pachonm. we find, απο προσωπο αδικιας των επιτηδευματων υμων. One MS. reads Dyn.

13. O thou inhabitant of the levelled hollow of a rock.] It is impossible that our present English Translation can be right, for there appears ne trace of a conjunction preceding 973; nor do I see any reason to suppose that it is Jerusalem, which is here addressed by apostrophe; although such seems to be the prevailing opinion; or how that city could well be said to be “ an inhabitant of the valley,” when it was built chiefly on two hills, as we learn from Josephus (De Bell. Jud. Lib. V.c. 4. Edit. Huds.) or how it could be called “a rock of the plain,” when it was surrounded with deep vallies, “ for the most part environed with other not far removed mountains, as if placed in the midst of an amphitheatre;" which is the description given of it by a modern Traveller, who had been upon the spot. Sandy's Travels, B. iii. p. 155.-The address is certainly continued on to the house of David, whose place of residence was mount Sion, called, The city of David.

This was a very high and steep rocky mountain on every side, and in the opinion of its ancient possessors the Jebusites deemed impregnable, till David took it from them, 2 Sam. v. 6, 7. and both he and his successors are said to have improved considerably its natural strength. This is undoubtedly here meant by 793; and porn I conceive to signify the hollow surface of this rock at the top, in which, awan, levelled, or regularly formed by art, the foundations of the buildings were laid.

For it is manifest, that if yuvan be considered as the participle Pyhal from ww!, to be even or level, it must on account of the prefixed article rather agree with

, which has the article likewise, than with 773. And this situation in a hollow at the top of a rock is perhaps alluded to in the word nuspr, which is used concerning the same family, Ch. xxii.


23. who are said to make their nest," as the eagle doth, in the holes or clefts of the high rocks. See Ch. xlix. 16. And confiding in the strength of their situation, the inhabitants are here represented as defying the approach of any one to hurt them.

14.-in the forest thereof, and it shall burn all around it] This translation is made according to the present reading of the text, 77733, when the affix must be referred to the house of David, and “the forest thereof” will then denote the large trees or timber, of which the habitations of that royal family were built, and in respect of which it is called, Ch. xxii. 23. “ the inhabitant of Lebanon that made her nest among, or of cedars."--- But there is some reason to suspect the authenticity of the word 79999; both the Syr. and Chald. appear to have

, advance , one, and 777972, the reading of two MSS. which, if admitted as the participle present of 2, to burn, the rendering of the passage would be, “ And I will kindle a fire burning and consuming," or,

66 which shall burn and consume” all around it; that is, all around the fire it. self,


THIS Chapter contains two distinct prophecies. The first of which is dated at the time when Nebuchadnezz

zzar was engaged in carrying on the siege of Jerusalem, and of the cities of Lachish and Aze. kah, most probably towards the latter end of the ninth year of Zedekiah, the siege having been begun in the tenth month of that year. It announces to Zedekiah the taking and burning of Jerusalem, his own captivity, peaceful death, and honourable interment, v. 1..--7.

The second Prophecy was delivered some time after, when the Chaldeans had broken off the siege, and were marched off to meet the Egyptian army, which made a shew of coming to the relief of Jerusalem. It reproaches the people of Judah for their perfidious and inhuman behaviour to their brethren, whom they had released from bondage according to the law; but on thinking all danger from the enemy over, had compelled to resume their former servitude. For this God threatens to let loose upon them at once the sword, the pestilence, and the famine; and to deliver them up to the vexations of the Chaldeans, their cruel enemies, who should return, take and burn their city, and reduce their country to a solitary waste, v. 8. to the end.

1. and against all the cities thereof-] The LXX, and Arab. with one MS. instead of 17178, read T7107* in , as at ver, 7. means the same, as the other cities of Judah were all dependent upon the authority residing in the capital.

5.-according to the burnings of thine ancestors] See 2 Chron. xvi. 14. xxi. 19. from whence it appears to have been customary for the Jews to burn a large quantity of spices, at the intermeirt of their kings ; an honour not refused to Zedekiah, though he died in captivity.

[ocr errors]

Ibid. -- they shall lament for thee [saying] Ah lord] See Ch. xxii. 18. and the Note there.

8.-to proclaim liberty unto them-] By the law of Moses, Exod. xxi. 2. Deut. xv. 12. the Israelites were not allowed to detain their brethren of the Hebrew race in perpetual bondage, but were required to let them


free after having served six years. This law had, it seems, fallen into disuse ; but king Zedekiah, upon the approach of the Chaldean army, whether from religious motives, or a political view to employ the men who were set free in the service of the war, engaged the people in a covenant to act conformably to the law; and they released their brethren accordingly. But no sooner were their fears abated by the retreat of the Chaldeans, than in defiance of every principle of religion, honour, and humanity, they imposed the yoke of servitude anew upon

those unhappy persons, Archbishop Usher computes the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign to have been the Sabbatical year, and supposes that on this account the covenant of general release was entered into at the beginning of that year. But the sabbatical year, which was every seventh year from that in which the Israelites entered into possession of the land of Canaan, had nothing at all to do with the release of servants. In the year of sabbath they were only restrained from sowing their ground, and pruning their vineyard. But every seventh year from the beginning of their service the Hebrew bondslaves were to be discharged. Six years they were to serve, and in the seventh they were to go out free. Only the fiftieth year, or year of Jubilee, was also to be a time of general release. Lev. xxv. 39---41. But that the sabbatical

year was SO,

I not the least reason to conclude, but quite the contrary.

10.--. and all the princes hearkened] That is, they hearkened or conformed to the obligations of the covenant, which they had entered into at the instigation of their prince,

11.--and compelled them to serve] For Dyw'53' forty three MSS. and four Editions read with the Masora Diva's. See ver. 16.

14. At the end of seven years] This is the literal rendering of D'w yaw pora; but the import of the phrase is, in the course of the seventh year, or, in the last term of that period. See Mr Lowth's note on this verse. Compare Deut. xv. 1, 9.

16.---and took back---] For 92 wni, which occurs twice in this verse, forty two MSS. and three Editions read 12 'wny in the second instance,

. And this distinction of the conjugations Kal and Hiphil seems necessary to be thus, expressly marked, as we find it in the text at ver. 11.

17.----and to the pestilence---] All the ancient versions, except the Vulgate, place the conjunction before 12777-7X; and thirty four MSS.

, . Ibid.---to vexation--- ] The Masora in conjunction with thirty six MSS. and three Editions read his instead of 77975; but in support of the present reading see Note on Ch. xv. 4.

18.-nin presence of the calf] All the versions that I have met with,


[ocr errors]

.ותשובו as in the first instance fourteen MSS


.ואל־הובו and three of the oldest editions


in presence * ,לפני העגל and therefore we should render ,העגל ,lows


both ancient and modern, have fallen into the same error (so I deem it) of rendering 933" in my presence ;" whereas by appears to me to have no affix, but to have the government of the next word that fol

, “ of the calf.” This at once takes away all the difficulty that has been found in the construction of any, and the case appears to be this. in order to ratify the covenant, they killed a calf, or young bullock, . which they cut in two, and placing the two parts at some distance from each other, they passed between them ; intending to signify by this rite that they consented to be served in the like manner, in case they violated their part of the covenant. Something of the like sort was in practice among the Greeks and Romans upon such occasions, as may seen in Homer's Iliad, r. 298. and Livy's Roman History, Lib. i. c. 24. and Lib. xxi. c. 45. Hence there will appear a peculiar force in the expression of entering into the covenant in presence of the calf, because the sight of that object served to remind them of the penalties they sub- . jected themselves to on violating their engagement.---We find God conforming himself to this usage, when he made a covenant with Abraham, Gen. xv. 9, 10. 17, 18. 19.---and the eunuchs] The LXX. Syr. Chald. and Arabic Versions

, ly written in forty four MSS. and four ancient Editions. 22.---and burn it with fire] Forty seven MSS. and seven Editions

, .

-as it is more perfect ,הסריסים or ,הסוסים add the conjunction before

.ושרפה instead of ,ושרפוה read regularly


IN the beginning of this Chapter certain preliminary facts are related, tending to fix the time and occasion of Zedekiah's second message to Jeremiah, v. 1.--5. God suggests an answer, foretelling the retreat of the Egyptians, and the return of the Chaldean army, who should take and burn Jerusalem, v. 6---10. During the absence of the Chaldeans, Jeremiah attempting to quit the city, and retire to his own country possessions, is seized upon for a deserter, and thrown into a dungeon, v. 11---15. The king sends for, and consults him ; and being intreated by the prophet not to remand him to his former prison, is prevailed upon to change the place, and to abate of the rigour of his confinement, v. 16. to the end.

3.---Jehucal the son of Shelemiah---] This man came in the place of Pashur, who together with Zephaniah brought the former message from Zedekiah. See the other marks of distinction between the two miessages in the introductory Note on Ch. xxi.

4..--into prison] Eighteen, perhaps nineteen, MSS. and two Editions, read N47 according to the Masora, instead of Non. Six

. 7.--to seek me] Our English Translators render, “to enquire of

But this is not the proper sense of w77 here ; for the messengers were not sent to ask any question of God, but to desire the prophet to

.הכלא MSS



be their advocate with him, to seek, or solicit him in their favour ; ver. 3. See Note on Ch. xxi, 2.

12.---to receive a portion thereof---] This is a proper sense of the verb pyt, to divide, or take a share among others; as psn the noun also signifies a portion, or share. And this seems a more natural interpretation here, than to understand it, as our Translators seem to have done, of the prophet's withdrawing himself or slipping away (as it is expressed in the margin) for fear of being shut up again in the city on the renewal of the blockade. For the case appears to have been this. Jeremiah had been cut off from his patrimony in the land of Benjamin by the Chaldeans having been masters there. But upon their retreat he meant to return, with a view of coming in for a share of the produce of the land with the rest of his neighbours. For that he was likely to want some means for his support, is evident from his having been obliged to be subsisted in prison afterwards upon a public allowance.

15.-for they made that a prison] There is nothing extraordinary in making the dwellinghouse of a great man a prison, according to either the ancient, or modern manners of the East. See Gen. xxxix. 20. Even in the royal palace itself we find there was a prison ; Ch. xxxii. 2. Mr Harmer (Obs. Ch. viii. Obs. 37.) gives the following passage concerning Eastern prisons, out of a MS. of Sir John Chardin. “ The eastern prisons are not public buildings erected for that purpose, " but a part of the house in which their criminal judges dwell. As the

governor and provost of a town, or the captain of the watch, imprison “ such as are accused in their own houses, they set apart a canton of “ it for that purpose, when they are put into these offices, and choose “ for the jailor the most proper person they can find of their domes6 tics."

And thus Mr Harmer thinks that Jonathan's house became a prison, in consequence of his being made a royal scribe, or, as we should term him, secretary of state.

16.-was entered into the dungeon, and into the cells] From comparing this place with Ch. xxxviji. 6. it seems likely that the dungeon was a deep pit, sunk perpendicularly like a well, in the middle of the open court or quadrangle, around which the great houses were built ; and that in the sides of it, near the bottom, were scooped niches, like the cabins of a ship, for the separate lodgment of the unfortunate persons who were let down there. Hence also it may be, that the same word 72 is frequently put for the grave; the ancient repositories of the dead being often constructed with niches in the same manner, in which the bodies were placed separately. Accordingly we read, Isa. xiv. 15. “ But thou shalt be brought down to the grave, to the sides of the .. 19. And where--] Thirteen MSS. and four Editions read with the

. 20.---let my supplication fall down before thee) That is, let me be allowed to supplicate thee in the most humble manner, prostrating myself before thee...See Note on Ch. xxxvi. 7.

..ואין instead of ,ואיה Masora

« PreviousContinue »