Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 8

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary


Jeremiah 7-10. A new section begins here, containing prophecies presumably uttered in the earlier years of Jehoiakim (608– 604), except Jeremiah 10:1-16 *.

Verses 1-3

Jeremiah 7:29 to Jeremiah 8:3 . Mourning for Judah’ s Dead.— Let Jerusalem mourn, and raise a dirge on the heights (where she sinned by her idolatry), because of the near approach of the punishment for the desecration of Yahweh’ s house, and for the offering of human sacrifice, which Yahweh never ordered. The land shall be full of corpses ( Jeremiah 7:32 mg.) , and all joy shall cease. The valley of Hinnom shall be renamed “ Slaughter” , and burials will have to be made even in the (unclean) Topheth. Even those who have died previously shall be dishonoured by exposure to the sun, moon, and stars, which they have worshipped, whilst the living shall wish themselves dead.

Jeremiah 7:29 . The hair was shorn, as a mourning custom; cf. Micah 1:16, Job 1:20.

Jeremiah 7:31 . the valley of the son of Hinnom: Heb. “ Gç -ben-Hinnom,” whence “ Gehenna” ( Mark 9:43 *); near Jerusalem, but exact site disputed. Recent excavations have shown the frequency of the sacrifice of children in Palestine, a practice which is condemned in Deuteronomy 18:10; it is probable that such sacrifices were offered to Yahweh as “ king” (Melek), i.e. that “ Molech” in this connexion is a title, rather than a proper name. For what is known of this Molech cult, see EBi, “ Molech,” and cf. Micah 6:7, Genesis 22:13, Exodus 13:13, Leviticus 8:21 *, 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Kings 23:10, Deuteronomy 12:31, Jeremiah 19:5, Ezekiel 20:26.*— Topheth: 2 Kings 23:10; supposed to be the Aramaic word for “ fireplace” , revocalised to suggest “ bosheth” , i.e. “ shame” , a word sometimes substituted for “ Baal” ( 1 Samuel 14:47-51 *, 1 Kings 16:32 *)

Jeremiah 8:2 . the host of heaven: ( Genesis 2:1 *) as in Deuteronomy 4:19, etc., with reference to Assyrio-Babylonian star worship. The significance of this dishonourable treatment of the dead lies in the belief that the shades in Sheol suffer with their bodies; an enemy’ s ghost is still vulnerable through his corpse ( Job 14:22 *).

Jeremiah 8:3. Omit “ which remain” , with LXX and Syr.

Verses 4-17

Jeremiah 8:4-17 . Judah’ s Unnatural Conduct and its Punishment.— There is something unnatural in the persistency of the people’ s misconduct; they show no inclination to return to Yahweh, but pursue a headstrong course away from Him ( Jeremiah 8:6 mg.) . They put themselves below the level of the very birds of heaven, the stork, the turtle-dove, the swift, and the swallow (so in Jeremiah 8:7), who know the time of their return in spring (after their winter migration; cf. Isaiah 1:3). Their alleged knowledge of Yahweh’ s teaching (“ law,” Jeremiah 8:8) is delusive; they have been misled by insincere teachers, whose punishment awaits them. ( Jeremiah 8:10 b Jeremiah 8:12 should be omitted, with LXX; they have been repeated from Jeremiah 6:13-15.) They shall perish like a fruitless and withering tree ( Jeremiah 8:13; contrast that of Jeremiah 17:8; cf. Psalms 13 ff.). The stricken people urge each other to gather into the cities, but they cannot escape the bitterness of their fate ( Jeremiah 8:14). The invader approaches from the north ( cf. Jeremiah 4:15), nor can his venomous assault be avoided as a snake-charmer avoids the bite of an adder ( Jeremiah 8:17 mg.; the basilisk of RV is a reptile of fable).

Jeremiah 8:5 . The emphasis should fall on “ perpetual” . Omit “ of Jerusalem” , with LXX.

Jeremiah 8:8 . The reference is apparently to the Book of Deuteronomy, published some dozen years before. With its prophetic attack on heathen modes of worship, etc. Jeremiah was in full sympathy; but its priestly emphasis on the sanctuary and its ritual, and the resultant externalisation of religion, were quite alien to his teaching. [This view is taken by several of the best authorities, and may be correct. But a strong case can be made out for the view that Jeremiah’ s attitude to the law-book was more sympathetic, in which case the reference will be to regulations made by the scribes, which we do not possess.— A. S. P.].

Jeremiah 8:13 f. Read mgg. gall or bile here stands figuratively for some bitter, if not poisonous, plant, which has not been identified; it is rendered “ hemlock” in Hosea 10:4.

Verses 18-22

Jeremiah 8:18 to Jeremiah 9:1 . Jeremiah’ s Sorrow over Judah’ s Suffering.— The prophet, in sorrowful sympathy with his people, hears in anticipation the cry of the exiles and Yahweh’ s answer. They reproach Him with His abandonment of Zion; He points to their idolatry, and introduction of foreign (“ strange” ) deities. The people lament (apparently in proverbial form) the disappointment of their hope of deliverance; it is as when the hope of harvest (April-June) has been destroyed, and the failure of the autumn ingathering ( Jeremiah 8:20 mg.) has removed the remaining expectation; they (emph.) have not been rescued from their distress (the reference in “ saved” is to material prosperity, not to a spiritual change). The prophet himself goes arrayed as a mourner (“ I am black” , mg.) , appalled because of his people’ s wound; is there no cure? He cannot sorrow enough for the tragedy of Judah.

Jeremiah 8:22 . balm: not the balsam, but mastic, a medicinally used resin, abundant in Gilead ( Genesis 37:25, mg.) , and exported to other countries.— health: Heb. “ new flesh” , which “ comes up” , i.e. forms over a wound.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 8". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/jeremiah-8.html. 1919.
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