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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 12:9

 

 

"Is My inheritance like a speckled bird of prey to Me? Are the birds of prey against her on every side? Go, gather all the beasts of the field, Bring them to devour!

Adam Clarke Commentary

Is unto me as a speckled bird - A bird of divers colors. This is a people who have corrupted the worship of the true God with heathenish rites and ceremonies; therefore, the different nations, (see Jeremiah 12:10; whose gods and forms of worship they have adopted shall come and spoil them. As far as you have followed the surrounding nations in their worship, so far shall they prevail over your state. Every one shall take that which is his own; and wherever he finds his own gods, he will consider the land consecrated to them, and take it as his property, because those very gods are the objects of his worship. The fable of the daw and borrowed plumes is no mean illustration of this passage.

Dahler translates the whole verse thus: -

Birds of prey! inundate with blood my heritage.

Birds of prey! come against her from all sides.

Run together in crowds, ye savage beasts!

Come to the carnage!


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-12.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Jeremiah 12:9

Mine heritage is unto Me as a speckled bird.

A speckled bird

Mine (God’s) heritage is unto Me as a speckled bird. As an owl, say some, that loveth not the light; as a peacock, say others, as oft changed as moved. God, that could not endure miscellany seed, nor linsey-woolsey, in Israel, can less endure that His people should be as a speckled bird, here of one colour, and there of another; or as a cake not turned (Hosea 5:4). (John Trapp.)

God’s people as speckled birds

“Mine heritage (the godly man’s) is unto me as a speckled bird.” When living at Cambridge Mr. Spurgeon was appointed to preach at a village lust outside the city, and during the day, after much reading and meditation, he was unable to light upon a suitable text, and was, as Bunyan would say, “much tumbled up and down” in his thoughts. Rising from prayer and the reading of the Scriptures he walked to the window, and, looking out, espied on the other side of the narrow street a solitary canary upon the roof ridge, surrounded by a crowd of sparrows that were all pecking at it. At that moment the verse quoted flashed into his mind, and he started off upon his country walk, restful in heart and mind, and composed his sermon as he journeyed, the main points of his discourse being the peculiarity of God’s people and the persecutions they suffer in consequence. He thus speaks of the episode himself: “I preached with freedom and ease to myself, and, I believe, with comfort to my rustic audience. The text was sent to me, and if the ravens did not bring it, certainly the sparrows did.” (Chas. Spurgeon.)
.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Jeremiah 12:9". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/jeremiah-12.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird,.... Or, "is not mine heritage unto me as a speckled bird?"F2So V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Calvin, Jarchi, and Kimchi. as a bird of various colours, delightful to look at, as the peacock, so Jerom interprets it here; it was so formerly, but not so now; or as a bird of various colours, and unusual, which other birds get about, look on, hate, and peck at. Some think this refers to the motley party coloured religion the Jews had embraced, consisting of various rites and ceremonies of the Heathens; on which account they thought they looked beautiful and comely, when they were hated and rejected of God for them; but the word signifies rather to be dipped or stained, as with blood, and so denotes a bird of prey that is stained with the blood of others; a fit emblem of the cruelty of the Jews, in shedding the blood of the prophets. Some, because a word near akin to this signifies a finger, render it a "fingered bird"F3העיט צבוע "avis digtata", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gusetius; "ales unguibus praedita", Cocceius. ; that is, a bird with talons or claws; like fingers, a ravenous bird, and it comes to the same sense as before. But the Septuagint take it, to be not a bird, but a beast, and render it by the hyena; and which BochartF4Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 11. col. 830, 838, 839. approves of, since the word in the Arabic language signifies such a creature; and Schindler observes, that צבע, with the Arabians, is the name of a creature between a wolf and a middling dog, which agrees with the hyena. The word here used, in the TalmudicF5T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 16. 1. language signifies a she leopard or panther, so called from its variety of spots; and is the same, as Maimonides saysF6In Misn. Bava Kama, c. 1. sect. 4. , which, in the Arabic language, is called אלצבע; with the Targumists it is used for a kind of serpents or vipers. So the valley of Tzeboim is rendered, in the Targum, the valley of vipers, 1 Samuel 13:18. And it is saidF7Bereshit Rabba, sect. 7. fol. 6. 2. , צבוע, the word in the text,

"this is from a white drop (or seed), and yet it has three hundred and sixty five kinds of colours, according to the number of the days of a solar year.'

The birds round about are against her; or, "are not the birds round about against her?" the birds of prey? they are; meaning the neighbouring nations, that under Nebuchadnezzar came up against Jerusalem to take and destroy it.

Come ye, assemble all ye beasts of the field, come to devour; this is an invitation to the enemies of the people of the Jews, comparable for their fierceness and savageness to the beasts of the field, to come and destroy them; and shows that their destruction was by divine permission, and according to the will of God. Compare with this Revelation 19:18. The Targum interprets it of those that kill with the sword; kings of the earth, and their armies.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-12.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

My heritage [is] to me [as] a i speckled bird, the birds around [are] against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.

(i) Instead of bearing my livery and wearing only my colours, they have change and diversity of colours of their idols and superstitions therefore their enemies as thick as the fowls of the air will come about them to destroy them.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jeremiah-12.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

speckled bird — Many translate, “a ravenous beast, the hyena”; the corresponding Arabic word means hyena; so the Septuagint. But the Hebrew always elsewhere means “a bird of prey.” The Hebrew for “speckled” is from a root “to color”; answering to the Jewish blending together with paganism the altogether diverse Mosaic ritual. The neighboring nations, birds of prey like herself (for she had sinfully assimilated herself to them), were ready to pounce upon her.

assemble … beasts of … field — The Chaldeans are told to gather the surrounding heathen peoples as allies against Judah (Isaiah 56:9; Ezekiel 34:5).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jeremiah-12.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.

The birds round about — It is usual for other birds to flock about a strange coloured bird, such as they have not been used to see.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/jeremiah-12.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

The beginning of this verse is variously explained, Some think that a kind of bird is here meant, which has various colors, one variegated, which excites all other birds against itself; but this is without meaning. Others are of the opinion, and the greater part too, that birds tinged with blood were against his heritage. They hence thus explain the words, “Is a bird, tinged,” that is; with blood, “my heritage,” that is, about my heritage; “is there a bird around it? They consider both clauses to be of the same meaning; and hence they think that the same thing is repeated in different words, that birds were flying against the Jews, like those which are drawn by the smell of carcases, and which come in great numbers, that each may have a part; and then, wild beasts follow them. But I approve of neither of these explanations; nor indeed have they even the appearance of being correct.

I therefore think that the people are now compared to foreign birds, as they were before to lions; as though he had said, — “I had chosen this people for myself, that they might be my friends, as birds which are wont to be gathered into their own cages, as sheep into their own folds, and as oxen, and other animals which are tamed, keep within their own enclosures. So when I gathered this people, I thought that they would be to me like domesticated sheep; but now they are like speckled birds; that is, like wild birds, or birds of the wood.” For I have no doubt but that by a speckled or colored bird is to be understood a strange bird, which by its novel appearance excites the attention of men. Is then a variegated bird, or a bird of the wood, become mine heritage? Questions, we know, were often used by the Hebrews; and the Prophet here simply affirms the fact; and as God had said before, that his heritage was become like a lion in the forest, so he adds now, that his heritage was like a speckled bird. A question has much more power and force than a simple declaration; for God assumes here the character of one in astonishment, — “What does this mean, that my heritage should become to me like some bird from the wood, or a foreign bird?” He then adds, All birds then shall be around and all beasts of the field (63)

We now see how fitly the words of the Prophet run; God had complained that his heritage was like a lion in the forest, and also like a wild and foreign bird; and now he says, Then all birds wiIl fly to the prey and all the beasts of the field; as though he had said, — “Since they have dared to act thus wantonly, and have dared to assail my servants like wild beasts, and have also become wild birds which cannot be tamed, I will shew what they will gain by their ferocity; for I will now send for all the birds of the air, and the wild beasts of the wood:, that they may fly together quickly, and that they may come together to the prey.” That we must thus understand the Prophet’s meaning, we learn from the very words; for God not only says, “A speckled bird has mine heritage become,” but he adds, to me, as he had before said, that his heritage had become to him as a lion, so he says now, Is not mine heritage become to me? etc This pronoun then ought to be carefully noticed; for we hence learn, as I have said already, that the intractable disposition of the people is here condemned, for they could by no means be tamed.

But the latter clause ought also to be especially observed; for it imports as much as though God had said, “As then your wickedness is such that ye are to me lions and wild birds, take your course; but I will yet check this your barbarous and untameable ferocity; for I have under my command all the birds of the air and all the wild beasts of the field; let them then come together to this one bird, and to this one beast. Ye are but one bird; ye are indeed terrible at the first view, for ye are worse than all the hawks; but ye are only one bird, and around you shall come all birds, which shall make war on you. Ye are as one lion in a forest, or one boar, or one wolf; but all the savage beasts of the wood shall come together against you, and shall come together to devour you.”

This place deserves special notice; for we hence learn how foolishly men deceive themselves when they oppose God and perversely shake off his yoke, and suffer not, themselves to be corrected by his word; they are lions, they are savage birds; but the Lord can easily destroy them, for all birds and all wild beasts are ready to obey him; and hence it follows: —

9.Is not my heritage to me a stripped bird of prey? Is there not a bird of prey around against it? Come, assemble, every beast of the field; Hasten ye to devour.

The versions and the Targum all differ, and are wholly unsatisfactory. Some, as Venema, agreeably with our version, retain not the questionary form in the two first lines, and render them thus, —

A stripped bird of prey is my heritage to me; A bird of prey is around against it.

The meaning is the same; but the ה before “bird of prey,” or rapacious bird, seems to favor the interrogation. The צבוע, stripped or speckled, is a participle, and not the name of a ravenous bird,” as Blayney thinks, is evident from its location, for it follows the word עיט, a rapacious bird: it would have otherwise preceded it. The Vulgate renders it “discolored — diversely colored,” and the Syriac is the same. — Ed


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-12.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 12:9 Mine heritage [is] unto me [as] a speckled bird, the birds round about [are] against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.

Ver. 9. Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird.] As an owl, say some, that loveth not the light; as a peacock, say others, proud and inconstant, all in changeable colours, as oft changed as moved. God, that could not endure miscellany seed, nor linsey woolsey, in Israel, can less endure that his people should be as a "speckled bird," here of one colour, and there of another; or as a cake not turned. [Hosea 7:4-10]


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-12.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 12:9. Mine heritage, &c.— Bochart and the LXX. read Mine heritage is unto me as the ravenous hyena; the ravenous beasts are round about it. The context seems indisputably to prove the propriety of this interpretation עוט aiit, unquestionably signifies a wild beast, as well as a rapacious bird. See Parkhurst on the word. In this view the meaning of the prophet is, "Wherefore do the Jews, whom I have adopted for my sons, and chosen for my heritage, roar, rage, and clamour against me? Are they so lost to every dictate of reason and humanity, as to become like the hyena? Shall I say, that they who inhabit this land are become enormously brutal, and are more like wild beasts than men? especially as their manners are more depraved than those of the most barbarous nations, or the most rapacious animals? They are certainly beasts of prey, and no longer men: as such, I will send against them other beasts of prey, namely, the Chaldeans, who shall render their country desolate. Come ye, assemble all the wild beasts of the field; come to devour." See Boch. Hieroz. vol. 1: lib. 3 cap. 11 and Scheuchzer on the place.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jeremiah-12.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird: the word in the Hebrew signifies to dye, or colour, and interpreters are here divided, whether to interpret it of a bird coloured by nature (so our translators understood it, and therefore have translated it speckled) or by accident, as ravenous birds are coloured by the blood of other birds killed by them. Hence some interpret the text as a reflection upon the Jews for their cruelty, coloured by their oppression and innocent bloodshed. Others, of their tincture by a variety of superstition and idolatry. The latter seemeth to me most probable, because of what follows, it being what is usual and natural for other birds to flock about a strange-coloured bird, such as they have not been used to see, but rather to fly from, than to come at a bird of prey, that hath already stained her feathers with the blood of other birds. But it may be understood of either, for the Jews were notoriously guilty of both, and it is God that causeth the birds to come against her, and the beasts of the field to devour.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/jeremiah-12.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

9. A speckled bird, etc. — The first two clauses in this verse are in the original questions, but they involve real affirmations. The fact that a strange-looking bird is sure to be set upon by all the others is appropriated by the prophet as an instrument of expression and illustration. Then comes the summons to all the wild beasts to gather round Judah and devour her.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-12.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Judah was like a different, colorful bird, among birds of prey that had gathered all around her to attack her. Another translation possibility, represented by the Septuagint, is that Jeremiah described Judah as a hyena"s lair, surrounded by birds of prey ready to peck up the scraps that the hyenas left. The Lord instructed His servants (the angels?) to assemble all the wild animals that surrounded Judah to come and devour this bird.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-12.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

As a. Septuagint, "a den of the hyena:" Alexandrian, "robbers." Grabe inserts, "or a den around it?" (Haydock) --- They have read auss, "a den," instead of hait, "a bird." Bochart, (iii. 11.) however, shews that the latter word denotes various wild beasts, and nearly follows the Septuagint. Though the inheritance be most charming, it shall not pass unpunished. (Calmet)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jeremiah-12.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

speckled bird = a bird of prey.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/jeremiah-12.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.

Speckled bird - [ ha`ayiT (Hebrew #5861) tsaabuwa` (Hebrew #6641)] - many translate, 'a ravenous beast, the hyena;' the corresponding Arabic word means hyena; so the Septuagint. But the Hebrew always elsewhere means 'a bird of prey' [from `iyT (Hebrew #5860), to pounce upon]. The Hebrew for "speckled" is from a root [tsaaba`] 'to colour,' answering to the Jewish blending together with paganism the altogether diverse Mosaic ritual. The neighbouring nations, birds of prey like herself (for she had sinfully assimilated herself to them), were ready to pounce upon her.

Come ye, assemble ye all the beasts of the field. The Chaldeans are told to gather the surrounding pagan peoples as allies against Judah (Isaiah 56:9; Ezekiel 34:5).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-12.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(9) Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird.—The Hebrew is interrogative, Is mine heritage . . .? Are the birds come round about against her? The word for “bird” in both cases means a “bird of prey” (Isaiah 46:11; Genesis 15:11), and the “speckled bird” is probably, but not certainly, some less common species of vulture. The image was probably suggested by something the prophet had observed, birds of prey of one species collecting and attacking a solitary stranger of another, joined by the “beasts of the field,” the wolves and jackals and hyænas, who scent their prey. The word “speckled,” perhaps, points to the bird attacked as being of more goodly plumage than the others (one, it may be, of the kingfishers that abound in Palestine), and therefore treated as a stranger and an enemy. The fact is one which strikes every observer of bird life (Tac. Ann. vi. 28; Sueton. Cæs. c. 81).


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-12.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.
Mine
Or rather, as the learned Bochart renders, "Is then my heritage (people) to me as a fierce hyæna? Is there a wild beast all around upon her?" i.e., the land of Canaan. The hyæna is a kind of wolf, a little bigger than a mastiff; colour grey, streaked with black: it is of a solitary and savage disposition.
speckled bird
or, a bird having talons. the birds.
2:15; 2 Kings 24:2; Ezekiel 16:36,37; 23:22-25; Revelation 17:16
come ye
7:33; Isaiah 56:9; Ezekiel 39:17-20; Revelation 19:17,18
come
or, cause them to come.

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-12.html.

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