22. Speak, Thus saith the Lord, Even the carcases of men shall fall as dung upon the open field, and as the handful after the harvest-man, and none shall gather them.
22. Loquere, Sic dicit Jehova, Cadet cadaver hominis, tanquam stercus in superficie agri, et tanquam manipulus a tergo messoris, et nemo colligens.
Though Jeremiah continues the same subject, he yet introduces a preface, -- that he had been commanded to declare what he says here; for on account of the strangeness of the event, the prophecy seemed incredible. He might, indeed, have proceeded with the subject, and omitted the words, "Thus saith Jehovah," and have begun thus: "Fall shall the carcase of man," etc. But, as I have said, this prophecy seemed to the greatest part as worthless, as though it was a fable: it was therefore necessary to introduce these words, -- that he came forth furnished with God's command; and he at the same time shews that he introduced nothing of his own, but that God himself spoke. We now perceive why these few words were introduced.1
He afterwards says, that the carcases of men would be cast forth as dung. He speaks by way of reproach, as though he had said, that all would without honor be laid prostrate by their enemies. And he adds a similitude, They shall fall, he says, on the face of the field, that is, everywhere through all the fields shall they fall as dung, which is cast forth, and which excites nausea by its sight and by its odor. Thus the Prophet here denotes foetor and a deformed sight by the comparison of dung: yet we know with what pride were they then filled. This threatening then was to them very disagreeable; but as they flattered themselves in their vices, it was the more necessary to treat them roughly; for thus ought hypocrites to be dealt with, who indulge their own delusions: the more boldly they rise up against God, the more violently ought they to be east down, so that they may at length humble themselves under the mighty hand of God.
He adds another comparison, As a handful, etc. Jerome renders it "hay." If dyme omid, were found elsewhere in this sense, I would willingly adopt this meaning; but I rather think that it means those ears of corn which are not gathered while the reapers collect their handfuls. They do not, indeed, leave complete handfuls, nor east them away; but it happens, through carelessness, that a few ears escape them. Then the Prophet says, that the Jews would be like those ears of corn which the reapers pass by and leave behind; and there is no one afterwards to gather them: and those ears of corn which thus remain in the field either rot of themselves, or are devoured by cattle or wild beasts. He then means, that there would be no residue of the people, for all, from the least to the greatest, would be given up to destruction.
This is the meaning; and at the same time he expresses contempt; for when reapers do not collect the whole produce of the field, there are still the poor, who gather the ears of corn; but when they are trodden under foot, and when there is no one to gather them, it betokens contempt; and this is what the Prophet intended to express. It now follows --
22. Speak, Thus saith Jehovah, Fall also shall the carcase of man, Like dung on the face of the field, Or like an handful of corn after the reaper, And without any to gather it.
This would be the fate of such as remained in the country, whilst the greatest part had fled into Jerusalem. It is by keeping this distinction in view that the whole passage, from verse the seventeenth, may be rightly understood. -- Ed.