I Have Put My Words in Thy Mouth
1:1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:
2 To whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
c. b.c. 626. The period included in these two verses is one of 40 years, viz. the latter part of Josiah’s reign = 18 years; that of Jehoahaz = 3 months; that of Jehoiakim = 11 years; that of Jehoiachin = 3 months; that of Zedekiah = 11 years. The omission of the names of Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin is probably due to the shortness of their reigns.
Came - literally, was (and in Jeremiah 1:4); the phrase implies that Jeremiah possessed God's word from that time onward, not fitfully as coming and going, but constantly. The thirteenth year of his reign - According to the ordinary reckoning, this would be 629 b.c., but if the Ptolemaic canon be right in putting the capture of Jerusalem at 586 b.c., it would be two years later, namely 627 b.c. However, according to the Assyrian chronology, it would be 608 b.c. It was the year after that in which Josiah began his reforms.
3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
The whole period contained in this verse is no less than 40 years and 6 months, namely, 18 years under Josiah, two periods of 11 years each under Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, and 3 months under each of the omitted kings, Jehoahaz and Jeconiah.
In the fifth month - The capture of Jerusalem took place in the fourth month, but its destruction was in the fifth month (see the marginal references), the ninth day of which was subsequently kept as a fast-day Zechariah 7:3.
4 Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
7 But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.
9 Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
11 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.
I see a rod of an almond tree: The almond tree in Palestine has been compared to the snowdrop with us, as giving one of the first signs of approaching spring. Dr Tristram (Nat. Hist. of the Bible) tells us that at Bethany in the month of January he gathered the blossoms in full bloom. They appear before the leaves open, like those of the peach-tree in England. The Hebrew used here (shâkêd) is not the ordinary word for an almond tree, but a poetical expression, meaning that which is awakening, and referring to the blossoming of this tree as taking place while others are still in their winter sleep. There is a play on the words shâkêd and (Jeremiah 1:12) shôkêd (watching over). Cp. Amos 8:1, where the sight of a basket of summer fruit (kayitz) is to the prophet symbolic of the end (kêtz) which is coming upon his nation.
"The rod of a watcher is what I see."
The almond-tree is one of the first that wakes and rises from its winter repose, flowering, in the warm southern countries, in the month of January, and by March bringing its fruits to maturity. From this circumstance, which is mentioned by Pliny, lib. 16. cap. 42, it is supposed to have received its name, shaked, as being intent, and, as it were, on the watch to seize the first opportunity of emitting its buds and blossoms: which is the proper sense of the verb, from which that noun is derived. A branch of this tree, therefore, with buds or leaves, and blossoms upon it, was a proper emblem to denote God’s hastening the execution of the predictions which he declared by this prophet, who lived to see most of his prophecies fulfilled. There is also in the original a remarkable paranomasia, or affinity in sound, between shaked, an almond-tree, and shoked, hastening, which makes the words more striking than they can possibly be in any translation. For not only the nature of the almond-tree, but the very sound of the Hebrew word, which signifies it, denoted God’s hastening to fulfil the prophecies which Jeremiah uttered by his directions. Thou hast well seen — Or, thou hast seen and judged right. Hebrew, Thou hast done well to see, that is, in seeing so. For I will hasten my word — Literally, I will act like the almond-tree respecting my word; namely, my word of threatening, against Judah and Jerusalem, to perform it.
The word sqr, shaked, an almond, is derived from the verb, sqr, shakad, to watch; and it has been thought that this tree is so called, because it brings forth fruit earlier than other trees; for almonds, as it is well known, flower even in winter, and in the coldest seasons.
Although GESENIUS and FUERST derive ?????? from the root ??? which in Ethiopic, Arabic and Syriac has the meaning of “to sprout, shoot forth,” the word in Hebrew never has the signification of a fresh, green, leafy branch (not even in Jeremiah 48:17, which passage-is adduced by FUERST), but always that of a stick or staff, and therefore agrees at least in signification with baculus, βακτηρ?α. The Hebrew expressions for a fresh branch are ... (Ezek. 19:11 sqq.), The connection requires that an instrument of chastisement be meant. The expositors have pointed with justice to the climax: rod—boiling pot. “Qui noluerint percutiente virga emendari, mittentur in ollam æneam atque succensam,” says JEROME. But a leafy branch is not an instrument of punishment.—The objection that the prophet would not then be in a condition to recognize the staff as from an almond-tree is unfounded. He might be able to do this even if we had reason to suppose that a dry almond tree was shown him. To distinguish between different kinds of dry wood is not difficult for a half-informed man.
12 Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.
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 toward the north.
The steam of this boiling pot represented God’s judgments, which are often compared to a fire, as the afflictions of Israel were to a smoking furnace. Genesis 15:17. And the face thereof was toward the north — The steam was represented to the prophet as raised by a fire, or driven by a wind coming from the north. Thus interpreted, the pot or caldron denoted Judea or Jerusalem, expressed by the same figure, Ezekiel 11:3; Ezekiel 11:7; Ezekiel 24:3. But the Hebrew, seems to be more exactly rendered by Blaney; The face thereof is turned from the north, or, as it is expressed in the margin, from the face of the north. For it appears from the next verse, that the evil was to come from the north; and therefore the steam, which was designed for an emblem of that evil, must have issued from that quarter. According to this interpretation, the pot denoted the empire of the Chaldeans, lying to the north of Judea, and pouring forth its multitudes like a thick vapour.
for l will hasten my word to perform it; the words , "shoked ani", "I will hasten", or "I am hastening", are in allusion to "shoked", the name of the almond tree in Hebrew; which is so called because it is quick and early, and, as it were, hastens to bring forth its flowers, leaves, and fruit; in like manner the Lord says he would hasten to perform what he had said or should say by him concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, and the captivity of the people, and every thing else he should give him in commission to say. Jarchi and Abendana make mention of an ancient Midrash, or exposition, to this sense; that from the time of the almond tree's putting forth, until its fruit is ripe, are one and twenty days, according to the number of days which were between the seventeenth of Tammuz, in which the city was broken up, and the ninth of Ab, in which the temple was burnt; but though the almond tree is the first of trees, and is very early in putting forth, yet there is a greater time than this between its putting forth and its fruit being ripe; for Pliny (s) says, that the almond tree first of all flowers in January, and its fruit is ripe in March.
(s) Nat. Hist. l. 16. c. 25.
Signifying that the Chaldeans and Assyrians would be as a pot to seethe the Jews who boiled in their pleasures and lust.
Thou hast seen aright: for I will keep watch over my word to fulfil it." With the consecration of the prophet to his office are associated two visions, to give him a surety of the divine promise regarding the discharge of the duties imposed on him. First, Jeremiah sees in spirit a rod or twig of an almond tree. God calls his attention to this vision, and interprets it to him as a symbol of the swift fulfilment of His word. The choice of this symbol for the purpose given is suggested by the Hebrew name for the almond tree, ????, the wakeful, the vigilant; because this tree begins to blossom and expand its leaves in January, when the other trees are still in their winter's sleep (florat omnium prima mense Januario, Martio vero poma maturat. Plin. h. n. xvi. 42, and Von Schubert, Reise iii. S. 14), and so of all trees awakes earliest to new life. Without any sufficient reason Graf has combated this meaning for ????, proposing to change ???? into ????, and, with Aquil., Sym., and Jerome, to translate ???? ???? watchful twig, virga vigilans, i.e., a twig whose eyes are open, whose buds have opened, burst; but he has not even attempted to give any authority for the use of the verb ???? for the bursting of buds, much less justified it. In the explanation of this symbol between the words, thou hast seen aright, and the grounding clause, for I will keep watch, there is omitted the intermediate thought: it is indeed a ????. The twig thou hast seen is an emblem of what I shall do; for I will keep watch over my word, will be watchful to fulfil it. This interpretation of the symbol shows besides that ???? is not here to be taken, as by Kimchi, Vatabl., Seb. Schmidt, Ngelsb., and others, for a stick to beat with, or as a threatening rod of correction. The reasons alleged by Ngelsb. for this view are utterly inconclusive. For his assertion, that ???? always means a stick, and never a fresh, leafy branch, is proved to be false by Genesis 30:37; and the supposed climax found by ancient expositors in the two symbols: rod-boiling caldron, put thus by Jerome: qui noluerint percutiente virga emendari, mittentur in ollam aeneam atque succensam, is forced into the text by a false interpretation of the figure of the seething pot. The figure of the almond rod was meant only to afford to the prophet surety for the speedy and certain fulfilment of the word of God proclaimed by him. It is the second emblem alone that has anything to do with the contents of his preaching.
The seething pot, whose contents boil over, symbolizes the disaster and ruin which the families of the kingdoms of the north will pour out on Judah.
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.
16 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.
17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins(Ophiuchus), and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.
18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city (Libra), and an iron pillar (Libra), and brasen walls (Libra) against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.
19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.