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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
Jeremiah 10

 

 

Verse 2

Signs of heaven - Extraordinary appearances, such as eclipses, comets, and the like, which seemed to the pagan to portend national calamities. To attribute importance to them is to walk in pagan ways.


Verse 3

The customs - Better, as the marg, “the ordinances,” established institutions, “of the peoples, i. e.” pagan nations.


Verse 4

They deck it - It was covered with plates of gold and silver, and then fastened with nails in its place, that it might not “more, i. e.” tumble down.

The agreement in this and the following verses with the argument in Jeremiah 9:23-24) their true glory is their God, not an idol of wood, but the King of nations. Then comes the sad feeling that they have rejected God and chosen idols Jeremiah 10:17-18; then the nation‘s deep grief Jeremiah 10:19-22 and earnest prayer Jeremiah 10:23-25. It is quite possible that only portions of the concluding part of Jeremiah‘s templesermon were embodied in Baruch‘s scroll, and that had the whole been preserved, we should have found the thoughts as orderly in development as those in Jeremiah 79.


Verse 5

They are upright … - Rather, “They are like a palm tree of turned work, i. e.” like one of those stiff inelegant pillars, something like a palm tree, which may be seen in oriental architecture. Some translate thus: “They are like pillar‘s in a garden of cucumbers, i. e.” like the blocks set up to frighten away the birds; but none of the ancient versions support this rendering.


Verse 6

For as much as - Or, “No one is like unto thee, O Jehovah.” In Jeremiah 10:6-11, the prophet contrasts God‘s greatness with the impotence of idols.


Verse 7

O King of nations - i. e., pagan nations. Yahweh is not the national God of the Jews only, but He reigns over all mankind Psalm 22:28.

It - i. e., everything.

In all their kingdoms - More correctly, “in all their royalty or kingship.”


Verse 8

Brutish - Jeremiah 10:21 and foolish Theirs was the brutishness of men in a savage state, little better than mere animals: their folly that of stupidity.

The stock … - Rather, the instruction of idols is a piece of wood. That is what they are themselves, and “ex nihilo nihil fit” (from nothingness, nothing is made).


Verse 9

Or, “It is a piece of wood (Jeremiah 10:8 note); yea, beaten silver it is, which is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz: it is the work etc.”

Tarshish … Uphaz - See the marginal reference and Genesis 10:4. Possibly Uphaz was a place in the neighborhood of the River Hyphasis.

Blue and purple - Both colors were purple, from dyes obtained from shellfish: but the former had a violet, the latter a red tinge.


Verse 11

This verse is (in the original) in Chaldee. It was probably a proverbial saying, which Jeremiah inserts in its popular form.


Verse 12

Discretion - Or, understanding. The three attributes ascribed to the Creator are very remarkable. The creation of the earth, the material world, is an act of “power;” the “establishing,” i. e., the ordering and arranging it as a place fit for man‘s abode, is the work of his “wisdom;” while the spreading out the heavens over it like a tent is an act of “understanding,” or skill. Naturally, the consideration of these attributes has led many to see here an allusion to the Holy Trinity.


Verse 13

When … - i. e., the rushing downpour of rain follows immediately upon the thunder. The rest of the verse is identical with marginal reference; but probably the words belong to Jeremiah, the Psalm being of comparatively late date.

With rain - For the rain Psalm 135:7.


Verse 14

In his knowledge - Rather, “without knowledge; i. e., on comparing his powerless idols with the terrific grandeur of a tropical thunderstorm the man who can still worship them instead of the Creator is destitute of knowledge.

Every founder … - Or, “every goldsmith is put to shame etc.” He has exhausted his skill on what remains an image.


Verse 15

Rather, “They are vanity, a work of mockery,” deserving only ridicule and contempt.


Verse 16

The portion, of Jacob - i. e., Yahweh. He is not like gods made by a carpenter and goldsmith.

Of all things - literally, of the all, the universe.

The rod of his inheritance - See Psalm 74:2; compare Isaiah 63:17. The rod is the scepter, and Israel the people over whom Yahweh especially rules.


Verse 17

The prophet now returns to the main subject of his sermon, the conquest of Judaea.

Thy wares - Rather, thy bundle, which could contain a few articles for necessary use, and be carried in the hand. They are going into exile.

O inhabitant of the fortress - i. e., thou that art besieged, that inhabitest a besieged town.


Verse 18

Sling out - A similar metaphor for violent ejection occurs in Isaiah 22:18 (see the note).

At this once - Or, “at this time.” Previous invasions had ended either in deliverance, or at most in temporary misfortune. God‘s long-suffering is exhausted, and this time Judaea must cease to be an independent nation.

That they may find it so - Omit “so,” and explain either

(1) “I will distress them” with the rigors of a siege “that they may feel it, i. e., the distress; or,

(2) “that they may find” Me, God, that which alone is worth finding.


Verses 19-25

The lamentation of the daughter of Zion, the Jewish Church, at the devastation of the land, and her humble prayer to God for mercy.

Jeremiah 10:19

Grievous - Rather, “mortal,” i. e., fatal, incurable.

A grief - Or, “my grief.”

Jeremiah 10:20

tabernacle - i. e., “tent.” Jerusalem laments that her tent is plundered and her children carried into exile, and so “are not,” are dead Matthew 2:18, either absolutely, or dead to her in the remote land of their captivity. They can aid the widowed mother no longer in pitching her tent, or in hanging up the curtains round about it.

Jeremiah 10:21

Therefore they shall not prosper - Rather, “therefore they have not governed wisely.” “The pastors,” i. e., the kings and rulers Jeremiah 2:8, having sunk to the condition of barbarous and untutored men, could not govern wisely.

Jeremiah 10:22

The “great commotion” is the confused noise of the army on its march (see Jeremiah 8:16).

Dragons - i. e., jackals; see the marginal reference.

Jeremiah 10:23

At the rumour of the enemy‘s approach Jeremiah utters in the name of the nation a supplication appropriate to men overtaken by the divine justice.

Jeremiah 10:24

With judgment - In Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 46:28, the word “judgment” (with a different preposition) is rendered “in measure.” The contrast therefore is between punishment inflicted in anger, and that inflicted as a duty of justice, of which the object is the criminal‘s reformation. Jeremiah prays that God would punish Jacob so far only as would bring him to true repentance, but that he would pour forth his anger upon the pagan, as upon that which opposes itself to God Jeremiah 10:25.

 


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:4". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-10.html. 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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