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Jeremiah proclaimeth God's covenant, rebuketh the Jews' disobeying thereof, prophesieth evils to come upon them, and upon the men of Anathoth, for conspiring to kill him.
Before Christ 608.
Jeremiah 11:1. The word, &c.— This discourse may be considered as a continuation of the foregoing, which the prophet delivered to the people, at their entrance into the temple; chap. 7: This at least is insinuated, Jer 11:15 or rather, the Lord delivered his word to Jeremiah at the time when Josiah assembled the people in the temple at Jerusalem, to renew their covenant with the Lord. See 2 Chronicles 34:29; 2Ch 34:31 and Calmet.
Jeremiah 11:5. So be it, O Lord— That is to say, "Cursed be they who have rebelled, &c." or rather, So it is, O Lord. "Thou hast fulfilled thy promises with the strictest fidelity."
Jeremiah 11:8. Therefore I will bring— Therefore have I brought. It is of the nature of a covenant to denounce penalties against the presumptuous transgressor of it. And the sanctions of the Mosaic covenant may be seen scattered through different parts of the law, but particularly Leviticus 26:14; Leviticus 26:46. Deuteronomy 11:26-28; Deuteronomy 27:0; Deuteronomy 28:0; Deuteronomy 30:15; Deuteronomy 30:20. Our English translators have rendered ואביא vaabi in the future tense; but it has the signification of the preter, because of the vau conversive. And there is no impropriety in saying, that God had already brought upon the people the evils, which he had not only resolved on, but had begun in some measure to carry into execution.
Jeremiah 11:9. A conspiracy is found, &c.— By a conspiracy is meant a general consent and agreement to forsake the worship of the true God, and to serve other gods. It was also a part of this conspiracy in the citizens of Jerusalem, to take off Jeremiah by poison, which he tells us the Lord discovered to him, Jeremiah 11:18.
Jeremiah 11:15. What hath my beloved to do, &c.— The meaning of the verse seems to be, "Why doth this, my chosen and peculiar people, (my spouse, as they love to call themselves, and as they once really were,) make their appearance before me in my house, since they have gone a whoring after several of the idol-nations around them, and therefore have disowned me, and broken the marriage contract or covenant which was between us? The holy flesh is passed from thee: the sacrifices which thou offeredst up to me as an atonement for thy sins, do not at all profit thee, being rendered unacceptable to me, by those many and gross sins in which thou continuest without remorse." See Lowth and Calmet. Houbigant, dissatisfied with this interpretation, gives the version following: What was the cause, that this my daughter, born at home, should commit her wickedness? Will they who bring thee much holy flesh take away thine iniquities, that thou gloriest concerning it? See his note.
Jeremiah 11:16. The Lord called thy name, A green olive-tree— The Jewish nation is sometimes compared to an olive-tree, as well as to a vine. See Psalms 52:8. Instead of, With the noise of a great tumult, some render it, At the sound of his voice, meaning the thunder. Compare chap. Jeremiah 10:13.
Jeremiah 11:18-19. The Lord hath given me knowledge— It is generally agreed by the commentators, that Jeremiah here speaks of his own sufferings as figurative of those of the Messiah. All the churches agree, says St. Jerome, that these words and the following respect Jesus Christ and his passion. It was against his life that they formed their designs: he was the true lamb, meek and innocent; he it was who was fastened to the cross. Jeremiah is here a figure of the divine Saviour; he here suffers for his brethren, and represents in his person that divine original, who was a man of grief, and tried by all sorts of affliction. The Vulgate, Bochart, and Houbigant, read the first clause of the 19th verse, But I was like a gentle lamb, which is led to the slaughter, &c. Instead of, Let us destroy the tree, &c. Houbigant reads, and nearly in agreement with the Vulgate, Let us infect his food with poisoned wood. "Let us put some deadly and poisonous wood into what he eats."
Jeremiah 11:20. Let me see to vengeance— I shall see, &c.
Jeremiah 11:21. Prophesy not, &c.— This passage shews abundantly that Jeremiah is to be understood primarily in the literal sense; which does not by any means prevent our understanding it of Jesus Christ in the spiritual. We may hence observe the usage which the prophets generally met with. The people of their own towns and countries could not bear the solemn and alarming truths which they delivered, and therefore became their enemies. See Matthew 13:57.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Jeremiah is sent of God again to this rebellious house of Judah:
1. To remind them of the tenor of that covenant by which they held the land of promise; the great condition of which was, their obedience; and this God earnestly pressed upon them as the one thing needful, charging their fathers to observe and do all his commandments, as the only means to secure his favour, and their relation to him; promising that, in consequence of this, they should possess the land of Canaan, flowing with milk and honey; and this was farther enforced by the awful sanction of that terrible curse which would overtake the breakers of this covenant. God had not ceased from that day to continue his admonitions to them, and urge that fidelity to which they were so strictly obliged. And now this prophet must second those who went before in the same protestations and urgent calls to them, to hear and obey; which that they may do, he earnestly prays, So be it, O Lord. Note; They who withdraw themselves from God's service have no right to expect his protection.
2. To charge them with their gross violations of this covenant, by which they had forfeited all the blessings promised, and incurred all the penalties annexed to it. They obeyed not, neither they, nor their fathers; nor inclined their ear to the divinely-commissioned messengers, whom from time to time God sent to admonish them; but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart, without the least regard to God's law; therefore all the curses denounced against the disobedient lie at their door; and God saw their secret as well as their open wickedness. A general conspiracy is formed among them, to discard God's worship and law, and to introduce the idols and customs of the heathens around them. The men of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem, city and country, high and low, are engaged in it. A little reformation had been made in the days of Josiah, but they quickly turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, and sunk again into idolatry. Israel first led the way, and Judah copied their abominations, so that the covenant which God had made with their fathers was utterly broken. Note; (1.) They who will not be ruled by God's law, must be destroyed under his curse. (2.) Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished.
2nd, The curse follows sin as close as the shadow does the body. We have,
1. Their miserable and helpless case. Therefore I will bring evil upon them, the evil of punishment for the evil of sin, which they shall not be able to escape; neither their wisdom, nor might, nor riches, shall be able to avert the storm. In vain will be their applications to God, he will not hear them: in vain their application to their idols, they cannot help them, though so numberless, that not only every city, but every street, had altars erected to that shameful thing Baal. Note; (1.) When wrath pursues the sinner, flight is vain. (2.) Prayer comes too late, when it is the time of judgment. (3.) Many cry to God to save them from their sufferings, who never lament the evil of the sins which procured them; and therefore well may he refuse to hear. (4.) All our idols and creature-dependences will be found miserable comforters in a day of calamity. (5.) Sin is a shameful thing; and we must either take shame to ourselves now for it, or be put to everlasting shame in the day of visitation.
2. The prophet is forbidden to pray for them. The decree was gone forth against them, and the prayers of good men now would be as unavailable as their own. Note; They are desperate indeed who are beyond the reach of prayer.
3. Their attendance at God's house could profit them nothing, when their hearts were so false and faithless with him. What hath my beloved to do in mine house? This title was given them for their fathers' sake: but to what purpose did they keep up their attendance, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many? committing such scandalous idolatry, as utterly separated them from all communion with God, and made their services barefaced hypocrisy; and the holy flesh is passed from thee; their sacrifices were no longer acceptable to God, and an end would quickly be put to them, when their temple was laid in ruins: when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest; and, while this love of and delight in iniquity remained, all services and sacrifices were but an abomination before God. Note; They who trust in their external privileges, and outward attendance on the worship and ordinances of God, while their hearts are strangers to vital holiness, and enslaved by sin, will find themselves disowned of God, and all their dependance a delusion.
4. The former favours which they enjoyed, as they served but to aggravate their ingratitude, would be no security to them at present. They were once, indeed, called a green olive-tree, fair and of goodly fruit: God's blessing was upon them, and prosperity surrounded them on every side; but since they have changed their conduct, God hath changed his dispensations of providence towards them. The Chaldeans, at his command, have kindled a fire, and burnt it; and the branches, their princes, priests, and great men, are broken and consumed. God hath pronounced sentence against them for their sins, especially their worship of Baal, which provoked his anger, and brought wrath upon their souls; and, though he planted them, he will utterly root them up. Note; (1.) They who sin against God, bring ruin upon their own souls. (2.) They who produce no fruits of holiness, like barren trees, are only fit fuel for the flames.
3rdly, They who are sent to bear witness against obstinate sinners, must, with Jeremiah, put their lives in their hand. His fidelity begins now to expose him to the most imminent danger.
1. A conspiracy is formed against him, by the men of Anathoth, his brethren; a city of priests, who should have been foremost to support him, but are so exasperated at his sharp reproofs, that nothing but his blood will satisfy them. Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, either the prophet and his family, or his prophesy; or, as the words are rendered by some, Let us corrupt his bread with poison; signifying the method which they intended to take, in order to dispatch him; and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered, and he and his prophesy buried in everlasting oblivion. Note; (1.) It is no wonder to see wicked priests the bitterest persecutors of their faithful brethren; it was ever so of old. (2.) People take great pains to be rid of their troublers; but they must have God's permission before any of their crafty designs can take place.
2. God disappoints their scheme, by informing the prophet of his danger, and setting him on his guard; for he was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter, without the least suspicion of their designs. Note; (1.) They who are conscious of the integrity of their own conduct, are least ready to entertain suspicions of others. (2.) God preserves us from many unforeseen dangers, into which we should else have blindly rushed. (3.) His prophets and faithful ministers are his peculiar care.
3. He lodges his appeal with God, the righteous judge, who knew his simplicity and their iniquity; therefore he prays, Let me see thy vengeance on them; not from a spirit of revenge, but from zeal for God's glory: or it may be considered as prophetical of what would be their case; for unto thee have I revealed my cause; and therefore rest satisfied, in full confidence that justice will he done. Note; (1.) Whatever man does against us, it is a comfort that we have a righteous judge, who will vindicate those that are oppressed with wrong. (2.) They who devise mischief against others, will find the stone which they have rolled return upon themselves.
4. Judgment is pronounced on the men of Anathoth. They determined to silence the prophet, at all hazards. The provocation he had given them was, prophesying in the name of the Lord, without their licence, and in a way which reflected such infamy upon their false doctrine and faithless conduct; and if they could not intimidate him from preaching, they resolved to murder him; therefore God denounces his judgments on the men of Anathoth. Famine and the sword shall slay them and their families, and not so much as a remnant shall escape the universal destruction. Note; (1.) No prohibition or threatening can stop the mouths of God's true ministers; they are ready to suffer, but resolved to cry aloud and spare not. (2.)
The day of visitation is at hand, when all the persecutors of God's people (and especially those perfidious priests, who abuse their power to suppress the testimony of God's few faithful servants, whose life and doctrine reflect upon their ignorance, errors, sloth, and immoralities,) shall receive their righteous doom.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 11". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30