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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 1

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that [were] in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:

The words Verba sive res. of Jeremiah. — Piscator rendereth it Acta Ieremiae, The Acts of Jeremiah, as we say, "The Acts of the Apostles," which book also, saith one, might have been called in some sense The Passions of the Apostles, who were for the testimony of Jesus "in deaths often." And the same we may safely say of Jeremiah, who, although he were not omnis criminis per totam vitam expers - which yet great Athanasius Serm. 4 contra Arianos. affirmeth of him - that is, free from all fault, for he had his outbursts, and himself relateth them, yet he was Iudaeorum integerrimus - as of Phocion it is said that he was Atheniensum integerrimus - a man of singular sanctimony and integrity; good of a little child, a young saint, and an old angel; an admirable preacher, as Keckerman De Rhet. Eccles., cap. ult. rightly calleth him, and propoundeth him for a pattern to all preachers of the gospel. Nevertheless, this incomparable prophet proved to be a man of many sorrows, πολυπαθεστατος , as Isidor Pelusiot, Lib. i., Epist. 298. a most calamitous person, as appeareth by this book, and one that had his share in sufferings from, and fellow sufferings with, his ungrateful countrymen, as much as might be. Nazianzen saith most truly of him, that he was the most compassionate of all the prophets; Prophetarum omnium ad commiserationem propensissimus. - Orat 17, ad cives. witness that pathetical wish of his, Jeremiah 9:1-3 , "Oh that my head were waters," …; and that holy resolve, Jeremiah 13:17 , "But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, and mine eye shall weep sore and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive." It was this good man’s unhappiness to be a physician to a dying state -

Tunc etenim docta plus valet arte malum.

Long time he had laboured among this perverse people, but to very small purpose, as himself complaineth, Jeremiah 27:13-14 after Isaiah, Isaiah 49:4 whom he succeeded in his office as a prophet, some scores of years between, Vide Oecolamp. but with little good success. For as in a dying man his eyes wax dim, and all his senses decay, till at length they are utterly lost, so fareth it with commonwealths, quando suis fatis urgentur, when once they are ripe for ruin; the nearer they draw to destruction, the more they are overgrown with blindness, madness, security, obstinace, such as despiseth all remedies, and leaveth no place at all for wholesome advice and admonition. Lo, this was the case of those improbi et reprobi - "reprobate silver shall men call them" Jeremiah 6:30 - with whom our prophet had to do. Moses had not more to do with the Israelites in the wilderness than Jeremiah had with these "stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears," Acts 7:51 as good at "resisting the Holy Ghost" as ever their fathers were. The times were not unlike those described by Tacitus, concerning which Casaubon saith, Quibus nulla unquam aut virtutum steriliora, aut virtutibus inimiciora, that no times were ever more barren of virtues, or greater enemies to virtues. And to say sooth, how could they be much better, when the book of the law was wanting for over sixty years, and the whole land overspread with the deeds of darkness? Josiah indeed, that good young king - by the advice of this prophet Jeremiah, who was younger than himself, but both full of zeal Iosias a zelo ignis divini nomen habet: Significat autem Ieremias altidudinem Dei, vel exaltatum a Deo. - did what he could to reform both Church and state, but he, alas! could not do it; the Reformation in his days was forced by him, and their was foul work in secret, as appeareth by Zephaniah, who was our prophet’s contemporary; it met with much opposition both from princes, priests, and people, who all had been woefully habituated and hardened in their idolatry under Manasseh and Ammon. Unto which also, and other abominations not a few they soon relapsed when once Josiah was taken away, and his successors proved to be such as countenanced and complied with the people in all their impieties and excesses. This prophet therefore was stirred up by God to oppose the current of the times and the torrent of vices; to call them to repentance, and to threaten the seventy years’ captivity, which because they believed not, neither returned unto the Lord, came upon them accordingly, as is set forth in the end of this prophecy. Whence Procopius, Isidor and others, have gathered that, besides this prophecy and the Lamentations, Jeremiah wrote the first and second book of Kings. Isodor, Doroth., Epiphan. But that is as uncertain as that he was stoned to death by the Jews in Egypt, or that the Egyptians afterwards built him an honourable sepulchre, and resorted much unto it for devotion sake; whenas R. Solomon thinketh, from Jeremiah 44:28 , that Jeremiah together with Baruch, returned out of Egypt unto Judea, and there died.

The son of Hilkiah. — The high priest who found the book of the law, say the Chaldee paraphrast and others; but many think otherwise, and the prophet himself addeth,

Of the priests that were at Anathoth. — "Poor Anathoth," Isaiah 10:30 renowned as much by Jeremiah as little Hippo was afterwards by great Augustine, bishop there. The Targum tells us that Jeremiah was one of the twenty-four chieftains of the temple. Ex praepositis templi. Innuitur in ipsum rectius potuisse competere propheticum munus, quam in multos alios vel ex aula, vel ex caula vocatos. A priest he was, and so an ordinary teacher, before he acted as a prophet; but his countrymen of Anathoth evil entreated him.

In the land of Benjamin. — Some three miles from Jerusalem.

Verse 2

To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.

Unto whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah. — Woe be to the world because of the word! The Lord keepeth count what preachers he sendeth, what pains they take, and how long, to how little purpose they preach unto a people. He saith that it was "The word of the Lord," for authority sake, and that none might despise his youth, since he was sent by the "Ancient of days."

In the thirteenth year of his reign. — Eighteen years then he prophesied under good Josiah, who was to blame, doubtless, in not sending to advise with this or some other prophet before he went forth against Pharaohnecho; sometimes both grace and wit are asleep in the holiest and wariest breasts.

Verse 3

It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.

It came also in the days of Jehoiakim. — Called at first Eliakim by his good father Josiah, from whom he degenerated, cutting Jeremiah’s roll with a penknife and burning it, Jeremiah 36:23 at which his father’s heart would have melted. 2 Chronicles 34:27

Unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah. — Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim are not mentioned, because their reign was so short, hardly half a year. By this computation it appeareth that Jeremiah prophesied forty years at least. And the Holy Ghost setteth a special mark (as a reverend writer Lightfoot’s Harmony: Chron. of Old Test. hath well observed) upon those forty years of his prophesying, Ezekiel 4:6 where, when the Lord summeth up the years that were between the falling away of the ten tribes and the burning of the temple, three hundred and ninety in all, and counteth them by the prophet’s lying so many days upon his left side, he bids him to lie forty days upon his right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days, a day for a year. Not to signify that it was forty years above three hundred and ninety between the revolt of the ten tribes and the captivity of Judah (for it was but three hundred and ninety exactly in all), but because he would set and mark out Judah’s singular iniquity by a singular mark; for that they had forty years so pregnant instructions and admonitions by so eminent a prophet, and yet were impenitent to their own destruction.

Unto the carrying away of Jerusalem. — He thought, belike, when he prefixed this title, that he should have prophesied no more, when once Jerusalem was carried captive; but it proved otherwise, for he prophesied after that in Egypt; Jeremiah 44:24 yet not forty years also after the captivity, as the Jews have fabled. Nor is it so certain that for that prophecy he was slain by Pharaohophra (whom Herodotus Lib. ii. in fine. calleth Apryes, and saith he was a very proud prince), as some have reported.

Verse 4

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Then the word of the Lord came unto me. — The Lord is said to come to Baalam, Abimelech, Laban, …; but he never concredited his word to any but to his holy prophets, of whom it is said, as here, "The word of the Lord came to them."

Verse 5

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, [and] I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, — viz., With a knowledge not intuitive only, but also approbative. Verba notitiae apud Hebraeos secum trahunt affectum.

I sanctified thee. — Infusing grace into thy heart - as afterwards also into the Baptist’s Luke 1:15 - and setting thee apart in my secret purpose to this sacred office of a prophet, as afterwards also God did Paul to the apostleship. Galatians 1:15

And I ordained thee a prophet.Magna semper fecerunt qui Deo vocante docuerunt, saith Luther. They have always done great things, whom God hath called to teach his people; quod est contra eos qui Ecclesiam ruituram putant nisi et ipsi doceant, saith Oecolampadius. This text maketh against such as think that the Church must needs suffer, unless they (though uncalled) turn teachers.

Unto the nations,i.e., First, To the Jews, qui fere in Gentiles evaserant, who were little better than Gentiles; so papagans are called pagans. Revelation 11:2 Secondly, To foreigners, of and to whom he prophesied. Jeremiah 44:30 ; Jeremiah 46:1 ; Jeremiah 47:1 ; Jeremiah 48:1 ; Jeremiah 49:1 ; Jeremiah 50:1 Thirdly, To people of all times, who may and must be instructed by this book; which is such as was highly set by, and cited in the Old Testament by Daniel, Ezekiel, Nehemiah, Ezra, Obadiah (who taketh most of his prophecy out of him); as in the New by our Saviour, Matthew 21:5 ; Matthew 21:9 ; Matthew 21:13 ; Matthew 21:16 ; Matthew 21:33 ; Matthew 21:42 Mark 11:9-10 ; Mark 11:17 Matthew the Evangelist, Matthew 2:6 ; Matthew 2:18 Paul; 2 Corinthians 6:2 ; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ; 2 Corinthians 10:17 Hebrews 8:5 ; Hebrews 8:8-12 ; Hebrews 10:5-10 ; Hebrews 10:16-17 ; Hebrews 10:30 ; Hebrews 10:37-38 John the divine. Revelation 2:6-8 ; Revelation 15:3-4

Verse 6

Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I [am] a child.

Then said I, Ah, Lord God!Verbum angustiae. The old Latin hath it A, A, A, whereby is noted, say some, a threefold defect - scil., of age, of knowledge, and of eloquence; but that is more subtle than solid. True worth is ever modest; and the more fit any man is for whatsoever vocation, the less he thinketh hinlself; forwardness argueth insufficiency.

Behold, I cannot speak. — Heb., I know not to speak, i.e., aright, and as I ought. Tanto negotio tam instructum oratorem me non agnosco. Jeremiah was an excellent speaker, as well appeareth by these ensuing homilies of his, which show that he was suaviter gravis, et graviter suavis (as one saith of Basil), a grave and sweet preacher, one that could deliver his mind fitly, and dared to do it freely. Hence some of the Jews judged our Saviour to have been Jeremiah propter dicendi agendique gravitatem et parrhesian, for his gravity and freedom of speech. Nevertheless Jeremiah, in his own opinion, "cannot speak"; that is, was no way fit to speak. So Moses is at it with his "Who am I?," Exodus 3:11 whereas none in all Egypt was comparably fit for such an embassy. It was a usual saying of Luther, Etsi iam senex, et in concionando exercitus sum, … Although I am now an old man, and an experienced preacher, yet I tremble as oft as I go up into the pulpit.

For I am a child. — Epiphanius saith that Jeremiah was not even over fourteen or fifteen when he began to prophesy. Samuel also, and Daniel, began very young. So did Timothy, Origen, Cornelius Mus, a famous preacher, say his fellow Jesuites, at eleven years of age. Archbishop Ussher was converted at ten years old, preached early, and so continued to do for sixty years, or nearly so. His Life and Death, by Dr Bern. Mr Beza was likewise converted at sixteen years old (for the which, as for a special mercy, he giveth God thanks in his last will and testament), and lived a preacher in Geneva to a very great age.

Verse 7

But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I [am] a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.

Say not, I am a child. — Plead no excuses, cast no perils; never dispute, but despatch; never reason, but run, God loveth not quarists, but currists, said Luther. depending for direction and success upon God alone, in whom are all our fresh springs, and from whom is all our sufficiency, … Paul was a most unlikely piece of wood to make what he was afterwards called, a Mercury, Acts 14:12 yet God made use of him. Acts 9:13-15

For thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee. — Whether kings or captives, lords or losels. He preached before Jehoiakim concerning the office of a king, and threatened him with the burial of an ass; Jeremiah 22:18-19 ; Jeremiah 36:30 he dealt plainly with the princes who beat him, and with the priests who stocked him with all sorts, to his great cost; he was a heroic and unexpugnable spirit; so are not many in these times, Verbi Dei truncatores et emasculatores, men pleasing preachers.

Verse 8

Be not afraid of their faces: for I [am] with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

Be not afraid of their faces. — Look they never so big, as did Henry VIII upon Latimer and upon Lambert, who yet told him his own; as did Stephen Gardiner upon Dr Taylor, martyr, but had as good as he brought. Acts and Mon. The majesty of a man, as also his wrath, showeth itself in his countenance; and young men especially are apt to be baffled and dashed with fierce looks.

For I am with thee to deliver thee. — On one sort or another; thy crown, be sure, no man shall take from thee; thy perpetual triumph thou shalt not lose.

Verse 9

Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth. — This was a very great favour and a sweet settlement to the hesitating prophet. The like visible sign for confirmation was given to Isaiah; Isaiah 6:7 to Ezekiel; Ezekiel 2:8 ; Ezekiel 3:2-3 and to John the divine; Revelation 10:10 how much are we bound to God for his word and sacraments?

Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. — And in thy mind also, together with good courage for the better uttering of them. Fear not, therefore, though thou be, as thou objectest, infantissimus et infirmissimus; but "go in this my might," and preach lustily.

Verse 10

See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

See, I have this day set thee over nations,scil., With authority to use the same liberty in reproving their sins that they take in committing them. Fear not the highest (for I have set thee over them), but look upon them as so many mice; for what are they more in comparison of me and of thee, who hast from me thy mission and commission? zeal in well doing showeth a man to be right, like as such are living fish as swim against the stream.

To root out, and to pull down,i.e., To denounce destruction to evildoers, and then I will effect it. Elisha hath his sword, as well as Hazael or Jehu, 1 Kings 19:17 and vengeance for the disobedient is every whit as ready in God’s hands as in his minister’s mouth. 2 Corinthians 10:6 See Hosea 6:5 . See Trapp on " Hosea 6:5 " John 20:23 . But what a mercy of God to the Church was it that the same day that Pelagius, that arch-heretic, was born in Britain, Augustine, the great confuter of that heretic, should be born in Africa - Providence so disposing that the poison and the antidote should come into world together. Dempster, Hist. Scot.

To build, and to plant. — As a co-worker with God for the good of souls, by preaching Christ unto them, as this prophet doth notably in a most divine and stately strain, setting him forth in his coming, covenant, offices, benefits, …, as the only foundation and lively root of hope.

Verse 11

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.

Jeremiah, what seest thou? — It was great kindness and familiarity thus to parley with him, and to call him by his name.

And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. — Which hath its name in Hebrew from watching, because it watcheth, as it were, to bud and bear before other trees, even in the deep of winter, and when it is at coldest. Hereby the prophet is animated, though but young, and assured that he shall have the fruit of his so early labours. God careth not for those arbores autumnales Judges 1:12 trees which bud not till the latter end of harvest. The truth of all his predictions is designed, though little believed by the most; the speediness also of their performance, Jeremiah 1:12 Ezekiel 7:10-11 a good comment upon this text. The sins of God’s people, saith one, are sooner ripe than of the heathens, because they have the constant light and heat of his Word to hasten their maturity. This was typified by the basket of summer fruits, and by the almond tree in this text. As the almond tree, saith another, hath a bitter rind, but a sweet kernel, so hath affliction sanctified; and again, as the almond tree is made more fruitful by driving nails into it, letting out a noxious gum that hindereth the fruitfulness thereof, so is a good man made better by afflictions. Jerome, Theod., Just. Mart.

Verse 12

Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.

Thou hast well seen. — Heb., Thou hast done well to see, i.e., so to see.

For I will hasten my word. — Heb., Amigdalaturns sum, I am watching upon the evil, to bring in the Chaldeans, as I have threatened. See the like elegant allusion, Amos 8:1-2 . Nemesis a tergo; punishment is at the heels of sin.

Verse 13

And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof [is] toward the north.

What seest thou? — By these questions his attention is stirred up, that he may the better observe the matter of his preaching, which is here represented by a second vision.

I see a seething pot. — Heb., Ollam ebullitam, A pot blown up. This boiling pot is Jerusalem besieged by the Chaldeans, and we are the flesh, say those deriders of this prophecy of Jeremiah; Ezekiel 11:3 but they found it to be just so shortly after. And then their profane hearers might well have bespoke them, as the heart of Apollodorus the tyrant seemed to say to him, who dreamed one night that he was flayed by the Scythians and boiled in a caldron; and that his heart spake to him out of the kettle, Eγω σοι τουτων αιτια , It is I that have drawn thee to all this.

And the face thereof,i.e., That part of the pot that is next the fire, and heated therewith.

Verse 14

Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

Out of the north an evil shall break forth,i.e., From Chaldea, which is north from Judea. Gregory moraliseth the text thus: Man’s mind is this pot; that which from the north sets it on fire is the devil, by inflaming it with evil lusts, and then he sets up his throne therein. Aquilo est sedes diabolo. - Aug. As,

Verse 15

For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.

And set every one his throne. — Judging such as in those very gates had unjustly judged others. See this performed, 2 Kings 24:4 ; 2 Kings 25:6 Jeremiah 52:9

Verse 16

And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.

And I will utter my judgments against them,sc., By those northern princes. But first by thee, and Zephaniah, and Huldah, …, if haply they will repent, that I may repent of the evil. God therefore threateneth that he may not punish.

Who have forsaken me, and burnt incense. — These sins differ in degrees, and are all found among the Papists.

Verse 17

Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.

Thou therefore gird up thy loins,q.d., Thou hast, I must needs say, a hard task of it. But hard or not hard, it must be done, Perquam difficile est, sed ita lex iubet. or thou art undone. About it therefore and play the man, plucking up thy best heart, as we say, and acting vigorously. Stir up the gifts of God that are in thee, and exercise thy talents committed unto thee. Verbi minister es: hoc age.

Be not dismayed at their faces, lest.Ne conteritor, ne te conteram. Antanaclasis. Be net afraid of them, lest I fright thee worse, to thy ruth and utter ruin. Excellently Bernard, If I deal not faithfully with you, you will be damnified, but I shall be damned. Let me suffer anything rather than be guilty of a sinful silence, said that heroic Luther. But Melanchthon, his colleague, was so timorous, that Luther was fain to chide him many times. And Calvin, in an epistle of his to John Sleidan, prayeth God to furnish him with a more noble spirit, ne gravem ex eius timiditate iacturam sentiat posteritas, lest posterity should rue for his timidity. Calvin himself, in his last speech to his fellow ministers on his death bed, speaketh thus: When I first came to this city (Geneva), the gospel indeed was here preached, but things were very far out of order, as if Christianity consisted wholly in the casting down of images, … There were also not a few wicked fellows who put me hard to, setting themselves against me to their utmost. But the Lord our good God did so steel me and strengthen me, who am naturally fearful and dastardly, that I stoutly withstood them, and went on with the work of reformation; to his glory alone be it spoken. Melc. Ad. in Vit. Calvin, p. 106. Melanchthon also admired that courage in Luther that he could not find in himself; for besides many passages of his in his epistles that way tending, one time when he saw Luther’s picture, he uttered this verse immediately,

Fulminia erant linguae singulae verba tuae.

Verse 18

For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.

For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city,i.e., Impregnable, inexpugnable, the bulwark of truth, της αληθειας προβολον . as one said of Basil, such as could not be battered. And of Ambrose Stilico the earl said, that he was the walls of Italy. Peter and John are called pillars; Galatians 2:9 Athanasius the Church’s champion,

Ille velut pelagi rupes immota resistis. ” - Virg.

Against the kings of Judah, against the princes, … — There was a general defection of all sorts; and Jeremiah was to declaim against them all, and proclaim their utter destruction in case they repented not. Well might Luther say, for he had the sad experience of it, Praedicare nihil aliud est quam totius mundi furorem in se derivare, To preach is nothing else but to derive upon a man’s self the rage of all the world. He met with some even at Wittenberg, where he lived, who were so wicked and uncounsellable, that the four elements could not endure them. Ut iam quatuor elementa ferre nequeant. So did good Jeremiah, …

Verse 19

And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I [am] with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.

They shall not prevail against me. — They shall not take thy crown from thee, no, nor thy precious life; for thou shalt survive them. So Luther died in his bed, defying the malice of Rome and of hell.

For I am with thee. — And what can all the wicked do against one minister armed with God’s presence and power?

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/jeremiah-1.html. 1865-1868.
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