Jeremiah 29:17
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
29:8-19 Let men beware how they call those prophets whom they choose after their own fancies, and how they consider their fancies and dreams to be revelations from God. False prophets flatter people in their sins, because they love to be flattered; and they speak smoothly to their prophets, that their prophets may speak smoothly to them. God promises that they should return after seventy years were accomplished. By this it appears, that the seventy years of the captivity are not to be reckoned from the last captivity, but the first. It will be the bringing to pass of God's good word to them. This shall form God's purposes. We often do not know our own minds, but the Lord is never at an uncertainty. We are sometimes ready to fear that God's designs are all against us; but as to his own people, even that which seems evil, is for good. He will give them, not the expectations of their fears, or the expectations of their fancies, but the expectations of their faith; the end he has promised, which will be the best for them. When the Lord pours out an especial spirit of prayer, it is a good sign that he is coming toward us in mercy. Promises are given to quicken and encourage prayer. He never said, Seek ye me in vain. Those who remained at Jerusalem would be utterly destroyed, notwithstanding what the false prophets said to the contrary. The reason has often been given, and it justifies the eternal ruin of impenitent sinners; Because they have not hearkened to my words; I called, but they refused.Vile - The word does not occur elsewhere, but comes from a root signifying to shudder, and thus has an intense meaning. 17. vile figs—Hebrew, "horrible," or nauseous, from a root, "to regard with loathing" (see Jer 24:8, 10). No text from Poole on this verse.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, behold, I will send upon them the sword,.... The sword of the Chaldeans, by which many of them should fall, as they did. The Targum is,

"I will send upon them those that kill with the sword:''

who, though they were prompted to come against the Jews, through a natural and ambitious desire of conquering and plundering, yet were sent of God; nor would they have come, had he not willed and suffered it:

the famine and the pestilence; to destroy others that escaped the sword; both these raged while Jerusalem was besieged by the Chaldeans:

and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil; to which they are compared, Jeremiah 24:8. The sense is, that as they had made themselves wicked and corrupt, like naughty and rotten figs, so the Lord would deal with them as men do with such, cast them away, as good for nothing. The word (z) for "vile" signifies something horrible; and designs such figs so bad, that they even strike the eater of them with horror.

(z) "tanquam ficus horrendas", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Stockius, p. 1129.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the {h} sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile {i} figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so bad.

(h) By which he assures them that there will be no hope of returning before the appointed time.

(i) According to the comparison, Jer 24:1,2.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. vile figs] Cp. Jeremiah 24:2-8.

Verse 17. - I will send upon them, etc.; alluding to Jeremiah 24:10. Vile figs; literally, figs exciting a shudder. The figure involves an allusion to Jeremiah 24:2, 3. Jeremiah 29:17Jeremiah informs the captives of the judgments that is to gall on such as are still left in the land. Jeremiah 29:15. "If ye say: Jahveh hath raised us up prophets in Babylon - Jeremiah 29:16. Yea, thus saith Jahveh of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwelleth in this city, your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity, Jeremiah 29:17. Thus saith Jahveh of hosts: Behold, I send amongst them the sword, famine, and pestilence, and make them like horrible figs, that cannot be eaten for badness, Jeremiah 29:18. And hunt after them with the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and give them to be abused to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and a hissing, and a reproach among all the peoples whither I have driven them; Jeremiah 29:19. Inasmuch as they have not hearkened to my words, saith Jahveh, wherewith I sent to them my servants the prophets, from early morning on sending them, and ye have not hearkened, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 29:20. But ye, hear the word of Jahveh, all ye captives whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon." - The design with which Jeremiah tells the captives of this judgment may be gathered from the terms of Jeremiah 29:15, with which this prophecy is introduced: God had raised up to us prophets in Babel (בּבלה, lit., as far as Babel, i.e., extending His agency so far beyond the bounds of Judah). Hence it is clear that the announcement of judgment to come on those left in the land is in direct opposition to the predictions of the prophets that had appeared in Babylon. these prophesied a swift end to Chaldean domination and an immediate return of the exiles to their fatherland. So long as one of David's posterity sat on his throne in Jerusalem, and so long as the kingdom of Judah was maintained, the partial captivity of the people and removal of the plundered treasures of the temple would appear as a calamity which might soon be repaired. The false prophets in Babylon laid, therefore, great stress on the continued existence of the kingdom, with its capital and the temple, in their efforts to obtain belief amongst the exiles. As Ng. justly remarks, it was to take this ground from beneath their feet that Jeremiah predicted expulsion and destruction against the people of Jerusalem. The prophecy does indeed bear upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, "but not in the first reference; its immediate purpose was to overthrow the foundations on which the false prophets of the exile stood" (Ng.). Taken thus, these verses form and integral part of the message sent by Jeremiah to the exiles, which was of no small weight for quieting the excitement, nourished by the false prophets, which reigned amongst them. One is struck by the want of connection between Jeremiah 29:15 and Jeremiah 29:16. The beginning of Jeremiah 29:16, "Yea, thus saith," comes directly after the end of Jeremiah 29:15 without any joining link. Ng. holds the כּי to be the pleonastic כּי which often introduces a saying. But its position before the "thus saith" makes this impossible. Here it serves to strengthen the asseveration: yea, thus fitly introducing what Jahveh says to the contrary; and Jeremiah 29:15 and Jeremiah 29:16 are, tersely and immediately, set over against one another. "If ye say" means: as regards your saying that Jahveh hath raised you up prophets in Babylon, the answer is: Thus hath Jahveh said. This is the connection of Jeremiah 29:16 with Jeremiah 29:15.

(Note: By the above exposition of the connection and progress of the thought, are disposed of all the objections that have been brought by Houb., Lud. Capp., Ven., etc., against the genuineness of these verses, or, at least, against the true position for them. The fact of their being wanting in the lxx, on which Hitz. mainly grounds his charge of spuriousness, proves nothing more than that these translators were unable to understand the train of thought in the verses, especially seeing that the substance of them has several times been expressed by Jeremiah, particularly Jeremiah 29:17 and Jeremiah 29:18; Jeremiah 24:9-10, cf. Jeremiah 15:4; Jeremiah 19:8; with Jeremiah 29:19 cf. Jeremiah 7:13, Jeremiah 7:25. Against the attempts to alter the text, Graf's remarks are admirable: "It is much easier to explain how the passage was omitted as out of place by the lxx than to show how it could have been introduced as an interpolation. It is too long for a mere marginal gloss that had at a later time found its way into the text; and why it should have been placed here, would remain all the more incomprehensible if it were so wholly unconnected with the body of the text. We cannot admit that it is merely an erroneous displacement of b. 15, which originally stood before Jeremiah 29:21; since it is less likely that Jeremiah 29:16 could have come directly after Jeremiah 29:14. In respect of form, Jeremiah 29:16-20 is connected with and forms a continuation of what precedes. Jeremiah 29:20 implies the presence of Jeremiah 29:16 as an antithesis, and at the same time completes again the connection that had been interrupted with Jeremiah 29:15, and leads on to Jeremiah 29:21. Connection in thought seems to be wanting only because Jeremiah 29:16 does not express the connecting idea, and because the contrast is so abrupt." - The other arguments adduced by Hitz. to throw suspicion on the passage, we can afford to pass over as wholly without force.)

"Your brethren that," etc., is co-ordinate with "all the people." The words: "I make them like horrible figs," make allusion to the vision in Jeremiah 24:2., but do not imply that this vision was known to the exiles, for they are quite intelligible to him who knows nothing of Jeremiah 24:1-10 (Ng.). The adject. שׁער is found only here, from שׁער, shudder; horrible, that on tasting which one shudders. With Jeremiah 29:18, cf. Jeremiah 24:9. "Wherewith I sent my servants," i.e., commissioned them. This verb construed with double accus. as in 2 Samuel 11:22; Isaiah 55:11. "Ye have not hearkened," the 2nd pers. instead of the 3rd, is hardly to be explained by the fact that the prophet here cites in full an often quoted saying (Hitz., Ng., etc.). The reason is that the prophet is thinking of the exiles also as having been equal to their brethren remaining in Judah in the matter of not hearkening. Thus the way is prepared for the summons: But ye, hear, Jeremiah 29:20.

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