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JEREMIAH CHAPTER 5
None godly in Judah, Jeremiah 5:1. They swear falsely, though God be a God of truth; they are incorrigible and senseless, and know not the law, or else wilfully violate it, Jeremiah 5:2-24.5.6. Their idolatry, adultery, Jeremiah 5:7-24.5.9; contempt of God’s word and prophets, which should be sadly verified, Jeremiah 5:10-24.5.18. They forsake, forget, and fear not God, whose power is so great, Jeremiah 5:19-24.5.24. They are rich through deceit and violence; their false prophets, Jeremiah 5:25-24.5.31.
Whether this begins a new sermon, or be part of the former, is neither certain nor material; but here the prophet is called upon to go up and down, and search here and there, in every part of the city, and to make a diligent inquiry in every street and place of concourse; a phrase frequently used for searching and inquiring after a thing, Daniel 12:4; Amos 8:12; and it is spoken in the plural number, not restrained to Jeremiah in particular: q.d. Let who will search, they will find it even so. It implies the great scarcity of good men, that must be thus searched for. God gives leave to all the earth to look into the state of Jerusalem, by which he vindicates himself in the face of the whole world from all severity towards his people, whatever he brings upon them, and so stops the mouths of the Jews.
Seek in the broad places; even there, where usually is the greatest resort for merchants and merchandises, where men meet from all quarters.
If ye can find a man: it seems worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, for God condescends to pardon Jerusalem if there be but one righteous man found in it; there he came no lower than ten. But it will be objected, if it be understood thus individually, What must we think of Jeremiah himself, and Baruch, and Ebed-melech, and other few, who were then, no doubt, in Jerusalem?
Answ. Either he speaks of the corrupt body of the people, courtiers, priests, false prophets, not one, or scarce one among them to be found, or if any, so few as not to be discerned. A man might walk the streets of Jerusalem long enough before he could meet with any one truly religious; which universality of corruption is thus expressed in divers places, Psalms 12:1,Psalms 12:2; Psalms 14:2,Psalms 14:3; Ezekiel 22:30; Micah 7:1,Micah 7:2. Or it may be understood hyperbolically for a few.
Any that executeth judgment, i.e. among the magistracy that rightly administer justice.
That seeketh the truth, i.e. among the commonalty that deal faithfully and uprightly; it signifies, that, among them all, there are none given to it; so far from endeavouring and seeking it sincerely with their whole heart, that they are not inclined to it, but are given to oppressions, falsehoods, and deceits; they do not seek the truth.
I will pardon it; or, him; I will not destroy it for the sake of those few: the like he promiseth with reference to those five cities, Genesis 18:24, &c.
Though they say, The Lord liveth; though when they swear, they use the form of an oath, and say, The
Lord liveth, Jeremiah 5:2, or, By the living God. By swearing here we may understand all their service of God, by a synecdoche, swearing being a part of God’s worship. Surely they swear falsely; yet, or therefore, they swear falsely; either they swear to that which is false; or if to that which is true, they are so perfidious to me, that they do it deceitfully, not in sincerity, and in reverence to that holy name by which they swear: possibly they may often speak of God, and not swear by false gods, Jeremiah 5:7, but it is all but hypocrisy and deceit, Isaiah 48:1; Jeremiah 12:2; Jeremiah 42:5,Jeremiah 42:20; 2 Timothy 3:5. It is neither in truth nor righteousness, two of the principal qualifications of a lawful oath. Thus they prostitute the name of God, making themselves guilty, not of hypocrisy only, but sacrilege.
Are not thine eyes upon the truth? The prophet, observing the obstinacy of this people, abruptly turns himself to God, yet emphatically insinuates their incorrigibleness. This may refer either to God’s discerning and knowing truth from falsehood, as being impossible that any thing should be hid from him, Psalms 11:4; or rather, (more agreeably to the phrase,) to God’s approving; and this some again refer to persons, as men of truth for true men, so man of wisdom for a wise man, Micah 6:9; but others, better, to truth and faithfulness, as that which God hath a great respect for, and delight in, Psalms 51:6, and was not to be found among these people. Though none of these senses be improper, this seems the most genuine.
They have not grieved; they have been under sore grievances that God hath laid them under, yet they seem unconcerned, Proverbs 23:35; Isaiah 42:25; or it is probable they were grieved at their sufferings, but they have not repented, thereby to turn away the causes of his just displeasure: see 2 Corinthians 7:9,2 Corinthians 7:10.
Thou hast consumed them; God had not only lightly chastised them, but wasted them by several enemies, as the Assyrian, Isaiah 10:5,Isaiah 10:6; Isaiah 36:1, and Pharaoh-nechoh, 2 Kings 23:33, and the Chaldees, Syrians, Moabites, and the Ammonites, 2 Kings 24:2, and Nebuchadnezzar, 2 Kings 24:13, &c. All these he made use of as the rod of his indignation, yet they refused to receive correction; see Jeremiah 2:30; a metonymy of the effect; they have profited nothing by it, not at all reformed, Isaiah 1:5,Isaiah 1:16; Amos 4:6,Amos 4:8-30.4.11.
They have made their faces harder than a rock; noting their obstinacy and impudence, laying aside all sense of judgments, as past feeling, Proverbs 21:29; Zechariah 7:12. They have refused to return; wilfully rejected counsel, and slighted correction, resolving to persist in their obstinacy.
Therefore I said; or, perhaps, I said with myself; not, possibly, that he thought so, but that he might thus express himself, as men use to speak.
Surely these are poor; poor, low-spirited, or of the meanest rank among the vulgar, understand but little; either men of greater ignorance, John 7:49, and therefore said not to know the way of the Lord; see Jeremiah 8:7; being better skilled in fields and vineyards than in the law; or of less conscience than the better sort may be, and therefore said to be foolish, or infatuated, or put upon greater temptation by reason of their poverty, Proverbs 30:9.
The judgment of their God; the methods or ways of his providence, the usual manner of his dealing; so judgment is to be taken here for the same with ways, 1 Samuel 2:13, as it is also Jeremiah 8:7.
I will get me unto the great men, i.e. to the nobles, both prince and priest, that have more time to consider these things, have been better taught and educated, Proverbs 4:4. Not that Jeremiah had any better thoughts of these, but as carrying a great probability with it.
For they have known: had it been only among those, in the former verse, it might have been more excusable; but it is in the very nobles themselves; the state is wholly corrupt, from head to foot, who cannot plead ignorance, therefore the more inexcusable.
These have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds; these are more refractory than the other, more heady and obstinate; no law of God is able to hold them, Psalms 2:2,Psalms 2:3; see Luke 19:14,Luke 19:27. There is not one better than another among them, whether poor or rich.
Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldean army from Syria and Libanus, woody places, are here pointed at under the metaphor of beasts of prey of three kinds; the malignity that is proper to each of these creatures shall be put forth in this Babylonian army, compared, for instance, to a lion, Jeremiah 4:7 which notes his great power, courage, pride, and insulting over his prey.
A wolf, for their greediness and unsatiableness; one wolf will destroy abundance of sheep; and said to be the wolf of the evenings, or deserts, or plains, they being the usual haunts of the wolf; or evenings, because then they are observed to be most ravenous, Habakkuk 1:8, possibly because lying most part of the day in their dens for fear of the huntsmen, want of prey enrageth their hunger at night; and because of this greediness to devour, the judges among themselves are said to be
evening wolves, described Zephaniah 3:3,
They gnaw not the bones till the morrow, either through hunger or rage.
A leopard; the Chaldean army compared to a leopard, not for its speed only, but especially for its vigilancy and subtlety; they will be so vigilant, that scarce any shall escape, according to Jeremiah 4:16.
Increased, Heb. strong: here is the reason why God would bring such a devastation upon them, because they did, as it were, strengthen themselves in the multitude of their rebellions against him.
How shall I pardon? how canst thou expect that I shall bear such affronts? I shall expose myself, and seem to lay aside my power; I shall be looked upon as one that either regard not such injuries, or cannot avenge them, as Jeremiah 5:9.
Thy children; thy inhabitants, both in city and country.
Sworn by them that are no gods, but by idols: swearing is here put, not for one part of worship, as sometimes it is, but for a religious worship and service of them, Jeremiah 4:2.
When I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery: here is noted the abuse of God’s bounty, or the natural effect of our unsanctified prosperity, Deuteronomy 32:15; Jeremiah 2:7; Jude 1:4. That which in good men doth oft breed forgetfulness, in bad men generally breeds filthiness: rising up to play the wanton was the effect of Israel’s eating and drinking, Exodus 32:6, and of Sodom’s sin, Ezekiel 16:49. Adultery; either,
1. Metaphorically to be understood of their going a whoring after their idols; or,
2. Properly, for corporal uncleanness, they usually going both together, Numbers 25:1,Numbers 25:2; Hosea 4:12,Hosea 4:14.
Assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses; it may be read in the nominative case, the house of the harlot assembled themselves: q.d. The whole house of Israel, Jerusalem and Judea, are but one stew. If it refers to their idolatry, then it alludes to their making the temple a common house of spiritual harlotry; but rather, as it refers to their corporal uncleanness, it seems to intimate that they did not act their adulteries clandestinely or by stealth, but laying aside all modesty, they went to harlots’ houses, like brute beasts, in company, as ashamed of nothing.
Fed horses, to note the greatness and unruliness of their lust, pampered horses being most wanton, like that Deuteronomy 32:15.
In the morning: it is questioned whether morning relates to horses or to men; if to horses, then they are compared to stallions, that having been fed to the full over-night, and lain at ease, in the morning they are most lusty; but rather it seems to relate to men, showing that they were very early in going about their filthinesses, Zephaniah 3:7, following their uncleanness with as great eagerness as it is said that drunkards follow strong drink, Isaiah 5:11.
Every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife, i.e. with an impetuous earnestness and unwearied hunting, they sought after the adulteresses to satisfy their beastly lusts. It notes,
1. The strength of their lust, a thing in horses much taken notice of by authors.
2. The unbridledness and uncontrollableness of it, as is seen in the pampered horses hunting after the mare, of which neighing is a sign, thus expressed Jeremiah 13:27. Thus the Grecians would express men extremely libidinous by the word ιπποβινοι, and ιπποπορνοι, and that they do ιππομανειν, so the LXX., and thus described Ezekiel 22:11.
Visit, i.e. punish, Psalms 89:32. Should I connive at such things, the wicked would say, I did not see them, or take notice of them, Psalms 50:21, much to the same purpose with Jeremiah 5:7, beginning; and punishment may be termed visiting, as implying the equity of God’s procedures, that he first sees and considers the case, before he inflicts punishment; as in the case of Sodom, Genesis 18:21; spoke after the manner of man.
My soul, for I; it speaks the greatness of God’s displeasure, Shall not my very soul be in this work of vengeance? Psalms 11:5.
Go ye up upon her walls; ye Babylonians, go now execute my vengeance on them. I give them into your hands; behold, I give you a commission.
And destroy; I permit and order you not only to take the city, but make havoc of her inhabitants, Isaiah 10:6.
But make not a full end: though God give them a large commission to destroy, yet he puts in a limitation, that he will reserve a remnant from destruction; he sets bounds to the most raging adversary, beyond which he must not pass. See on Jeremiah 4:27.
Take away her battlements; lay her and all her fortifications level with the ground; take away her counterscarp, or high towers, or whatsoever may tend to the defence of a city; to let Jerusalem know that she did but in vain trust to her high walls and strong towers; and battlements may as well be taken for the foundation of her walls, which spread wider than the wall itself. The word the prophet useth signifies things that spread; and thus it agrees with the scope, that is describing the utter overthrow and eradicating of it: so LXX., take away her supports. For they are not the Lord’s; I undertake their defence no longer; I disown them, lake my protection from them, and give them up into your hands, O ye Chaldeans, though they make their boast that they are sheltered under my wing and protection, because there was the temple and altar; but they will find themselves deceived, for I disown them.
Israel be put here for the ten tribes, and
Judah for the two, as often they are, Jeremiah 2:4, and sundry other places; or rather, whether Judah here be only explicative, and the word meant of the two tribes only, read thus, the
house of Israel, even the house of Judah, is not much material.
Have dealt very treacherously; have apostatized and dealt perfidiously beyond measure, not only as to the grossness, but as to the universality of it.
They have belied the Lord: this may signify either a denying, viz. a renouncing, making little or nothing of him, as some; or a denying, i.e. not believing, that these words of the prophet were God’s words, or God did not say so; he gave not the prophet, nor any other, any such commission; and possibly their atheism might grow to so high a degree as to deny his providence, power, and justice, &c.: so it agrees with the following words,
It is not he, or, God did not speak as he meant; but he would only fright us, it shall not be thus.
Neither shall we see sword nor famine this siege or famine, or any other such dreadful judgments, as Jeremiah speaks of, shall not befall us. Seeing is used here for feeling, as it is in Job 7:7.
Shall become wind; a proverbial speech, very frequent, not in common language only, but Scripture also, Job 6:26; Ecclesiastes 5:16, and elsewhere; i.e. all the prophet’s threats shall come to nothing: and thus they scoffed at them, Tush, what do they signify? they are but bruta fulmina: see 2 Chronicles 36:15,2 Chronicles 36:16. The word is not in them: this, possibly, they give as the reason that they apprehend the prophets’ words to be but as wind, because they are not from God, they speak but dreams of their own fancying.
Thus shall it be done unto them; it shall fall upon their own heads that have thus threatened us, not upon us; or, we will kill them with the sword for thus vainly threatening us; we will use them like false prophets, as they are; and we shall see in the sequel of this prophecy how they used Jeremiah: or it may be an imprecation: q.d. May it fall upon their own heads: thus the Hebrew, So be it unto them.
Wherefore thus saith the Lord: these vile wretches having now done speaking, God begins to speak; and because they had thus slighted the prophet, and God speaking by him, (as in the next words,
Because ye speak this word, ) here tells them what he will do; or rather, turns himself abruptly to the prophet, as men usually do in a passion.
The Lord God of hosts; he makes his majesty and power known, to clothe his words with the greater terror. Because ye speak this word, viz. at the rate they discoursed in the former verse.
It shall devour them, i.e. it shall take place suddenly, and irresistibly, and fiercely, as fire is wont to take in dry wood, to their utter ruin and overthrow, Psalms 83:14,Psalms 83:15; Isaiah 9:18,Isaiah 9:19. They shall be but fuel to my wrath, which shall be executed by the Chaldean army, that shall consume and eat them up like fire; they shall find my words to be more than wind.
From far, viz. from Chaldea. House of Israel: by these are meant Judah; for Israel, properly so called, viz. the ten tribes, were in captivity before; see on Jeremiah 4:1; called the house of Israel, not only because they descended from Jacob, but because they were the chief of that stock·
It is a mighty nation; it is both potent, or, as the word is, rough and harsh, and of great antiquity, ever since the laying the first foundation of Babylon by Nimrod, about one hundred and seventy years after the flood; and hence it is called the land of Nimrod, Micah 5:6. And this doth much add to their cruelty, that they have had dominion and rule in their hands so long, and whereby they have not only grown more proud and haughty, but having been brought up so long in ways of blood and slaughter, they must needs by this time become skilful to destroy.
Neither understandest what they say; which makes thy case much more desperate. It is a great disadvantage when persons understand not one another. They will neither understand thy entreaties, nor thou their offers, being both unintelligible and inexorable, which will render thy condition much more sad and perplexed; speech being that by which the affection is readily communicated, and is the bond of human society: hence this was part of the judgment threatened, Deuteronomy 28:36,Deuteronomy 28:49,Deuteronomy 28:50, the Jews not well understanding the Syrian tongue, which the Chaldeans spake, having had no converse with them before the captivity. It was this put a stop to all converse at the building of Babel.
Quiver; collectively expressed for quivers; a synecdoche for the whole military preparations, and a metonymy of the containing for the contained, viz. the arrows that will be shot out of them, called the sons of the quiver, Lamentations 3:13; bow and arrow being the chief weapons for war in those countries, and in those days.
Is an open sepulchre; a proverbial speech, Psalms 5:9, relating to the dreadful havoc and destruction that will be made, devouring the living as the grave doth the dead, or making work for the greedy, devouring grave, that never saith it hath enough, Proverbs 1:12. Or, they shall destroy many with one quiver, as one grave will swallow many dead, which may note their skill, and the success they shall have, few of their arrows shall fail of doing execution.
They are all mighty men; these Chaldeans are all men of valour, fit for warriors.
They shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread; they shall make clean riddance, leave thee, no supports of life, but bring an utter famine upon thee; it is thus threatened Deuteronomy 28:30,Deuteronomy 28:48,Deuteronomy 28:51.
Which thy sons and thy daughters should eat; or, they shall eat up thy sons and thy daughters; but this is only a metonymy of the effect: but properly, this aggravates the dreadfulness of the judgment; parents, out of the tenderness of their affection, choosing rather to die themselves, than to live to see their children starved before their eyes, and they no ways able to relieve them, Lamentations 2:10,Lamentations 2:11.
They shall eat up thy flocks, & c.; a particular enumeration of the desolation that would be made, all tending to the greatness of the former. They shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword, i.e. beside the waste that the famine would make among persons, their cities also should be depopulated by the sword of the enemy; or rather, possibly the siege should be so strait and strict, as may be implied in the word impoverish, that they should be forced to eat one another, till they were quite wasted, they should be reduced to such poverty and exigencies; or the sword may relate to the mentioned mischiefs, as the cause of them all, the sword shall do all this: in all which he doth not so much tell them that the Chaldeans shall conquer them, for that is taken as it were for granted, as what cruelties they shall use when they have conquered.
See this verse explained Jeremiah 4:27, save only that I think here it is taken in the first sense there mentioned; for it is not said only, as in that verse,
I will not make a full end, or a full end of you, but a full end with you: q.d. I have not done with you yet. See Leviticus 26:14-3.26.40.
Wherefore doeth the Lord our God all these things unto us? this speaks either their unparalleled insolency, in a manner challenging God, as if they had not deserved such dealing at his hands, they might have expected better usage from him; the Jews were good at these kinds of challenging of God, Isaiah 58:3. Or gross stupidity, as being such sots as not to be sensible of what they had done to provoke him; like to that Jeremiah 16:10.
Served strange gods, Heb. gods of the stranger; he doth not say strange gods, but gods of the stranger, which aggravated their crime, that while they lived in their own land, and the true God among them, they would precariously go fetch in gods from the heathens.
Serve strangers in a land that is not yours: here the prophet,
1. Opposeth strange lords to rule over them to those strange gods that they had served, which God calls a forsaking of him.
2. He opposes a land not theirs to their own land; so that by this the prophet shows what resentments God had of their sin; for it implies that their sin was much greater, that they served strange gods in their own land, than if they had done it in another, under the tyrannical imposition of a stranger; and therefore he would accordingly suit their punishment, that they should serve in a strange land, which should be worse than to be servants in their own. This is a dreadful but a just retaliation.
See of this Jeremiah 4:5. By
Jacob we are to understand the two tribes only, as Jeremiah 5:11, which see.
Without understanding, Heb. heart. They have no heart to return, or to any thing of instruction or reformation, but are stupid and sottish, regardless of all counsel, wisdom, and common prudence. The heart is said to be the symbol, and according to Galen the seat, of wisdom; so the poet placeth it, Cor sapit, et joulmo loquitur, fel commovet iram, &c.
Which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: see Jeremiah 6:10. They are wilfully blind, and obstinately deaf; will neither see nor hear the word, will, or works of God, of which he giveth two instances in two following verses, Jeremiah 5:22,Jeremiah 5:24, viz. in governing the sea, and appointing the seasons of the year. It may be he alludes herein to their idols, to which they were so much addicted.
Fear ye not me: either a convincing argument to persuade them to submit unto him; Will ye not submit to me, that can rule the sea? which, as unruly a thing as it is, yet quietly yields to my will: or rather, a very angry challenge and expostulation; Do you think that I, that can tame the boisterous sea, cannot tame you?
Which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea; that stand not in need to make rocks for walls and bounds unto it, but can give a check to it by so small a matter as the sand, that of itself is not only yielding and penetrable, but subject to be blown away with every wind.
By a perpetual decree; either looking backward, that it never could, or forward, that it never shall. Whether this decree have respect to the creation, or to the deluge, it is not much material; the former of which times it could not have been contained within its bounds, neither in the latter could it have exceeded them, without God’s special order, as no time since.
Though the waves thereof toss themselves; though they swell, rage, roar, and threaten never so much, as if they would swallow up all before them; though they foam against the rocks that stand in their way; yet, when they come to their bounds appointed, shall tamely yield unto the sand, and retire back.
Yet can they not prevail; not get any ground upon or against God’s decree and appointment; either the
decree or the
sand; which in regard of their form, situation, unruliness, and fluxibility would overflow the whole earth, were it not for the limits and restraints that are laid upon it, Job 38:11. By this instance, God may show what he could do with reference to that enraged and raging army that is about to come upon them like a torrent, if his people would repent. Or rather be hereby upbraids the Jews with their unreasonable sottishness, that they are more mad in their rebellions against God, than the raging waters of the sea, that, as boisterous as they are, yet obey his will.
They are not only revolted from me, and gone back, but they continue obstinate, and will not return, Psalms 78:8, as the next clause intimates, where God shows their obstinacy by the effect of it.
Gone, viz. from me, they persist in their courses, no reclaiming of them; for they are not only revolted, but they are gone quite away, and are irreclaimable.
Neither say they in their heart; they are so careless that they never trouble themselves about it; or so obdurate and stiff that they never lay it to heart, or consider that it is God that disposeth of all fixings according to his own pleasure, both in the earth and in the great deep.
Fear; or, serve and obey; all service to God being both performed in it, and proceeding from it.
That giveth rain, without which nothing could subsist. By this the true God is distinguished from all false idol gods, Jeremiah 14:22; and in this appears not only his power in decreeing, Job 28:26, and preparing it, Psalms 147:8 his sovereignty in withholding it, Amos 4:7; but his general goodness in bestowing it, Deuteronomy 28:12; Matthew 5:45, and his special providence in the seasonable disposal of it, according as there is need, and which he gives as a witness of it, Acts 14:17. As in the former instance God sets forth his people’s insensibleness of the works of his greatness and power in so easily taming such an unruly element; so here he doth also further manifest the same by instances of his providence and goodness, implying, that so stupid, resolute, and obstinate they are grown, that they are neither afraid of him for his greatness, which possibly may be understood by the former fear, nor fear him for his goodness, which possibly may be the sense of the word in this latter place.
The former and the latter; he means not the former and latter part of the year, but according to their seasons of sowing and reaping; the former to prepare the ground for sowing, and the latter to prepare the corn for plumping and ripening: see Jeremiah 3:3.
He reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest; he gives seasonable harvests according to his appointment: the sum is, God would let them know by this what an impudent and foolish, as well as wicked thing it is for them to set themselves against that God that keeps the whole order of nature at his own disposal, which he can govern and order as he sees men behave themselves towards him.
Your iniquities have turned away these things: q.d. Do not say your ground is parched up with drought, or your fruits are corrupted and rotted by too much or unseasonable rain; we have nothing now in so due a course as we were wont to have it. Would you know the reason of it? You have inverted the ordinances and order of nature, have put heaven and earth out of their regular courses, by your iniquities.
Your sins have withholden good things from you; that either you have been cut short of these good things, or denied a blessing upon them: by this God would not have profane men think that unusual seasons either for better or worse do come by chance, but as he sees convenient, either for the encouragement of the obedient, or punishing the obstinate.
Among my people are found wicked men; I need not search for such among the heathen nations, for they are found even among them that are called by my name, whereas all my people ought to have been holy.
They lay wait, or contemplate mischievous designs, under deceits, as fowlers do hide themselves, when they watch the birds coming to the snare or net, Proverbs 1:11; Micah 7:2; and therefore the next expression,
he that setteth snares, is but a periphrasis for a fowler, the Hebrew word being always so taken, Psalms 91:3; Proverbs 6:5, and elsewhere; or they pry, i.e. they narrowly look where they may get an advantage; hence enemies are called priers, or observers, as you may frequently find in the Psalms Psalms 5:8; Psalms 27:11; Psalms 56:2; Psalms 59:10; Psalms 92:11.
They set a trap, they catch men; intimating the success of their wicked policies in bringing their wicked decrees to pass, Psalms 37:7, as false witnesses and trespassers use to do, when they go about to insnare men that are innocent; such a trap did Jezebel lay for Naboth, 1 Kings 21:9,1 Kings 21:10. Such a one was that conspiracy of more than forty men against Paul, Acts 23:13-44.23.15.
As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit, i.e. they fill up their houses with the goods and wealth of those that they deceive and overreach; ill-gotten goods; a metonymy of the efficient; as the fowler carries his cage along with him, wherein he puts the birds which he catcheth, to keep safe that they get not away, when once they are caught, as also by their appearance and singing to entice others.
Therefore they are become great, and waxen rich; showing how and in what manner they got their riches, therefore, or by this means; such as are gotten by a lying tongue, Proverbs 21:6, called the treasures of wickedness, Micah 6:10.
They are waxen fat, they shine; or, so fat that they shine; by reason.of their wealth and riches they pamper themselves till their eyes stand out with fatness, Psalms 73:7; their wrinkles are filled up with fat, which makes their faces shine.
They overpass the deeds of the wicked; either, they go beyond the very heathen themselves in wickedness, Ezekiel 5:6,Ezekiel 5:7; or rather, they escape the hardships and sufferings that others undergo, Psalms 73:5-19.73.8, they escape better than others; or they slightly pass over judgments threatened.
They judge not the cause of the fatherless; such whom even the law of nature commits to their patronage, they either disregard them, or wrong and injure them, either by refusing them a fair hearing, Isaiah 1:23, or giving wrong sentence against them in courts of judicature, Zechariah 7:10, expressly forbidden, Exodus 22:22.
Yet they prosper; things go well with them, they live happily, according to their desire, prosperum scelus, Job 21:7, &c.; or, that they might prosper, viz. that God might bless them.
It is expressed as a thing taken for granted, he certainly will. Can I be a God, and wink at such things? It cannot be. See this explained Jeremiah 5:9.
So prodigious or stupendous a crime, that it is beyond the thought or apprehension of man to conceive, much more to express; and so abominable, that a man would even loathe the thoughts of. What this is we have in the next verse.
The land, Heb. this land, aggravating the greatness of the wonder, that such a thing should be in such a land: see Isaiah 26:10.
The prophets prophesy falsely; either spreading and dispersing abroad the lies of their idols, particularly Baal, Jeremiah 2:8, or venting their lies in the name of the true God, Jeremiah 4:10.
The priests bear rule by their means; by this means it comes to pass that the princes and priests are encouraged to do all their mischiefs, whether it were in corrupting judgment by bribes, or countenancing fraud and oppression, and hardening themselves against God’s threatenings, or whatever else; they were encouraged by the lies of the false prophets, they, and the priests, and the princes combining, and setting themselves against the true prophets of God, Jeremiah 26:8; and thus the priests in effect take the management of all the affairs into their own hands; so the Heb. take into their hands, which intimates the authority they used in their ministry.
My people love to have it so; they are very well pleased with the flatteries and lies of the false prophets, not being able to bear the truths that were delivered them from God, Micah 2:11.
What will ye do in the end thereof? q.d. Whither do you think these things will tend? You must look for nothing but utter ruin as the fruit and effect of such doings, Micah 3:11,Micah 3:12; when this city, which you look upon to be perpetuated, shall be overthrown, and you utterly perish in its ruin, how miserably will you find yourselves to be deluded by your false prophets, and disappointed in your hopes! A sad aposiopesis, concerning the exterminating of the people by the Chaldeans.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 5". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent