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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 5

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes


The capture and the destruction of Jerusalem was owing to its utter immorality. Josiah’s reforms were frustrated by the immorality prevalent among all classes. The prophet sees evil triumphing, but we must not take his words so literally as to conclude that there were no good men then in Jerusalem (compare Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 24:5).

Verse 1

The broad places - The open spaces next the gates, and other places of concourse.

A man - Or, anyone.

That executeth - “That” practiceth.

Truth - uprightness, probity (so in Jeremiah 5:3).

Verse 2

Though they take the most binding form of oath, they do so only as a means of deceiving others.

Verse 3

Upon the truth - God looks to the “faith,” the upright purpose of the heart, and without it the nominal fealty of an oath is an abomination.

Verse 4

Therefore - More simply “and.”

They are foolish - Or, they act foolishly (see Numbers 12:11), not having that knowledge which would enable them to guide their ways with discretion.

Verse 5

They have known ... - Men of education, who read the Scriptures, and learn from them the nature of God’s judgments.

But these - literally, surely they (compare Jeremiah 5:4).

The yoke - The Mosaic law.

And burst ... - They have torn off, torn themselves loose from.

The bonds - The fastenings by which the yoke was fixed upon the necks of the oxen.

Verse 6

Evenings - See the margin. From its habit of skulking about in the twilight the wolf is often called the “evening wolf” Habakkuk 1:8; Zephaniah 3:3, but the word used here means a sandy desert.

Leopard - panther.

Verse 7

Rather, Why, “for what reason” should “I pardon thee?”

When ... - Or, “though I bound them to me by oath, yet they committed adultery.”

The harlots’ houses - The harlot’s house, i. e., the temple of an idol; the prophet had also in view (see Jeremiah 5:8) the unchastity which accompanied most forms of nature-worship.

Verse 8

In the morning - Render, they rove about. Some prefer, “(horses) from Mesech.”

Verse 10

Her walls - It is Possible that not the city walls, but those of a vineyard are meant. Judaea is God’s vineyard Isaiah 5:1-7, and God permits the enemy to enter the vineyard to destroy her.

Battlements - tendrils. The tendrils and branches of Judah’s vine are given up to ruin, but not the stock. See Isaiah 6:13 note.

Verse 12

It is not he - i. e., Who speaks by the prophets.

Verse 13

Word - Rather, speaker. Literally, And he who speaketh is not in them, i. e., there is no one who speaketh in them; what the prophets say has no higher authority than themselves.

Thus ... - i. e., May the evil which the prophets threaten fall upon their head.

Verse 15

Israel is not put here for the ten tribes, but for the whole house of Jacob, of which Judah was now the representative.

Mighty - “permanent, enduring.” The word is the usual epithet of the rocks Numbers 24:21, and of ever-flowing streams Deuteronomy 21:4, Hebrew). It describes therefore a nation, whose empire is firm as a rock, and ever rolling onward like a mighty river. The epithet “ancient” refers simply to time.

Whose laguage thou knowest not - This would render them more pitiless, as they would not understand their cries for mercy.

Verse 16

Their quiver - See Jeremiah 4:29, note.

Verse 17


It shall eat “thine harvest and thy bread:”

They shall eat “thy sons and thy daughters.”

It shall eat thy sheep and thy cattle:

It shall eat “thy vines and thy fig-trees.”

They shall impoverish ... - Or, It shall batter thy “fortified cities, wherein thou” trustest, with weapons of war. There is probably reference here to an instrument like a battering-ram, with which the Assyrians beat down the walls of their enemies.

Verse 19

The reason why God so chastises His people. As they in a land especially consecrated to Yahweh had served “strange” (i. e., foreign gods, so shall they in a land belonging to others be the slaves of strangers.

Verses 20-31

Against the God

(1) of Creation Jeremiah 5:22, and

(2) of Providence Jeremiah 5:24,

They sin, not merely by apostasy, but by a general immorality extending to all classes Jeremiah 5:25-28. It is in this immorality that their idolatry has its root.

Jeremiah 5:22

The sea is the symbol of restless and indomitable energy, chafing against all resistance, and dashing to pieces the works whereby man endeavors to restrain its fury. Yet God has imposed upon it laws which it must obey, and keeps it in its appointed place, not by barriers of iron but by a belt of sand. Modern science has shown that the resisting power of sand is enormous. A wave which would shatter rocks fails powerless upon sand.

Can they not prevail - The opposite of “thou couldest” Jeremiah 3:5. The sea, the mightiest of God’s works, cannot prevail, cannot break God’s laws, because He has not endowed it with free-will. Man, physically impotent, can prevail, because, being made in God’s image, he is free.

Jeremiah 5:23

The heart, or will of the Jews was first “revolting,” literally a will that “drew back” from God, because it disliked His service; and secondly it was “rebellious,” a will that actively resisted Him. Compare Deuteronomy 21:18, Deuteronomy 21:20.

Jeremiah 5:24

As God’s Providence addresses itself chiefly to the thoughtful, Jeremiah says in their heart. By the intelligent study of God’s dealings men perceive that they are not merely acts of power but also of love.

The appointed weeks - literally, He guardeth, maintaineth, for us the weeks which are the statutes or settled laws “of the harvest.” These were the seven weeks from the Passover to Pentecost, and were as important for the ingathering of the crops as the rainy seasons for their nourishment.

Jeremiah 5:25

It was not that the rains did not fall, or that the harvest weeks were less bright; the good was there, but the wickedness of the community blocked up the channels, through which it shou d have reached the people. The lawlessness and injustice of the times kept the mass of the people in poverty.

Jeremiah 5:26

Rather, he spieth about like the crouching down of fowlers; they have set the fatal snare; “they catch men.”

Trap - literally, “The destroyer;” it was probably a gin, which strangled the birds caught in it.

Jeremiah 5:27

Deceit - The wealth gained by deceit and fraud.

Jeremiah 5:28

Fatness is admired in the East as a sign of wealth.

They shine - This word is used of the sleekness of the skin, soft and smooth as ivory.

They overpass the deeds of the wicked - literally, “They have overpassed words of wickedness,” i. e., they go to excess in wickedness.

Yet they prosper - Or, that they (the orphans) may prosper, enjoy their rights.

Jeremiah 5:30

Rather, A terrible “and horrible thing” has happened “in the land.”

Jeremiah 5:31

Bear rule by their means - Rather, “The priests” rule at their hands, i. e., govern according to their false prophecies, guidance, and directions.

My people love to have it so - False teaching lightens the yoke of God’s Law, and removes His fear from the conscience: and with this, man is ready to be content.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/jeremiah-5.html. 1870.
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