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Tuesday, May 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 6

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1


1. Children of Benjamin Mentioned either because they were the prophet’s countrymen, or as a designation of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the city being situated in the territory of Benjamin. Tekoa lies about eleven miles south of Jerusalem, and is mentioned because it would be a natural rallying point for fugitives fleeing before an enemy coming from the north.

Sign of fire Rather, set up a signal. The idea of fire is not in the original.

Beth-haccerem A beacon station, situated, according to Jerome, between Jerusalem and Tekoa; perhaps the modern Frank Mountain.

Verse 2

2. I have likened Rather, I have laid waste. The city is personified as a beautiful and delicately-reared woman to whom desolation has come. But Nagelsbach, followed by Dean Smith, prefers the sense of the Authorized Version, and translates the whole verse: “To a pasturage, yea, a luxuriant pasturage, have I likened the daughter of Zion.”

Verse 3

3. The shepherds… shall come The coming destruction is set forth under the familiar figure of shepherds with their flocks, who eat up the substance of the land. The figure of shepherds is a common one for princes and people.

Verse 4

4. Prepare ye war Literally, sanctify ye war, in allusion to the fact that warlike expeditions were undertaken with religious solemnities. Joel 3:9.

At noon Showing the impatience of the people for the attack. They clamour to commence it even under the fierce heat of midday. Then comes the language of disappointment, that the shadows of the evening are stretched out before the end is compassed; and it is followed by another eager cry for a night attack. Jeremiah 6:5.

Verse 6

THE SIEGE, Jeremiah 6:6-8.

6. Hew ye down trees In Deuteronomy 20:19, the Israelites were forbidden to cut down fruit trees in the siege, but here the enemies of Jerusalem are commanded to hew down her trees without reservation. Some think they were to be used in the construction of a rampart and for battering rams; but there is no proof that the orientals prosecuted their sieges by walls of circumvallation. On the contrary, this plan of warfare seems to have been confined to the Greeks and Romans. It would seem, then, that the trees were to be cut down simply to clear the approaches to the city.

Cast Literally, pour out. It refers to the carrying of the earth in baskets, and pouring it out to make the mount. When this “mount” was carried up to the top of the walls the assault was made.

Verse 7

7. As a fountain casteth out The difficulties in the first sentence of this verse are very serious, but the Authorized Version is to be approved. It is much more intelligible and expressive than any other which has been proposed, and is easily vindicated as a translation.

Verse 8

8. Be thou instructed Rather, more strongly, chastised.

Verse 9


9. Baskets Rather, tendrils. The figure is the gleaning of the vine, that no grapes may escape. The enemy will not be satisfied with one devastating campaign, but will repeat his inroad.

Verse 11

11. Full of the fury Note how this is visited on all classes: Children… young men… husband… wife… the aged with him that is full of days. This last expression describes one who has reached the utmost limit of age. In the two following verses these individualizing specifications are continued.

Verse 14

14. Healed… slightly Alas! how has this ever been the universal tendency? The deep depravity is not uncovered. The healing is too often only in word and appearance, and not in reality.

Verse 15

15. The first sentence is not interrogative but declarative: “They are put to shame because they have done abomination, yet they take not shame to themselves,” etc.

Verse 16


16. Ask for the old paths The one remedy for all apostasy call back the old times. In what path did your holy and heroic fathers walk? Go back where the ways meet, and again enter those everlasting paths.

Verses 18-19

18, 19. God makes appeal to three witnesses the nations, the congregation, the earth. As, his own people had turned away alike from his commands and entreaties, he now calls upon the “nations.” The word “congregation” is here used in a universal sense, but one of great impressiveness and solemnity. Instead of confining the term, as is most common, to the assembly of the faithful, God now applies it to the totality of the heathen world. He speaks as the God of the universe to all the men who dwell upon the face of the earth, and justifies his ways with his own people by an appeal to the universal conscience. And finally, as the climax of this appeal, “earth” is mentioned as embracing not only the men who now live, but all who have lived or shall live.

Verse 20

20. To what purpose, etc “It is remarkable that this rejection of ritual observances is made by the two prophets (Isaiah and Jeremiah) who chiefly assisted the two pious kings (Hezekiah and Josiah) in restoring the temple service. God rejects not the ceremonial service, but the substitution of it for personal holiness and morality. If it be the expression of love and piety present in the heart, it is the beauty of holiness; if it take the place of love and duty, it is an abomination.” DEAN SMITH, in loc.

Verse 21

21. I will lay stumblingblocks God does this in two ways, neither of which is any impeachment of his holiness. First, by the general action of moral law by which sin reacts upon the nature of the sinner; and, second, by outward visitations in the realm of physical nature or human society. To these last there is here special reference.

Verse 22


22. The north country Babylonia.

Sides of the earth Rather, ends; most distant regions. As the enemy comes from these, so the captivity will be to these. (Jeremiah 31:8.)

Verse 23

23. Spear Rather, javelin. These bows and javelins are abundantly illustrated in the Assyrian monuments. And these monuments fully justify the epithet cruel, as applied to these peoples.

Verse 26

26. Wallow thyself in ashes Rather, Besprinkle with ashes, as an expression of abandonment to sorrow. There is cause for mourning as for an only son. The destruction is utter.

Verse 27

27. A tower and a fortress The rendering here is clearly indefensible. The word rendered “tower” is an active verbal noun from a root which means “to inspect closely,” and may perhaps be best rendered as tester or trier that is, of metals. The word rendered “fortress” is more doubtful.

Some (Gesenius, Keil, Noyes) accept this sense, and translate, “For a trier have I set thee among my people as a strong tower. Others (as Furst and Nagelsbach) take the word in the sense of ore. There is no other example of this sense for this word in the Old Testament, but it comes legitimately from the root-meaning, namely, to cut off, hence that which is cut off the ore. The rendering then would be, “I have set thee among my people as a tester of ore,” or, more expressly, after Nagelsbach, “I have set thee as a trier among my people the ore.”

Verse 28

28. The reasons: The people are revolters, walking with slanders,…

brass and iron (ignoble)… corrupters.

Verse 29

29. The lead is consumed, etc. There is an uncertainty here as to the original text, and this has given rise to various renderings. That of the Authorized Version expresses the sense that the process is continued until the very lead used as a flux is consumed, and yet no silver is found. Keil translates, “Burned are the bellows by the fire; at an end is the lead; in vain they melt and melt; and wicked ones are not separated.” Nagelsbach, “The bellows glows; out of its fire comes lead! in vain one melts and melts; the base are not separated.” Of these the translation of Keil is to be preferred, though, in one place, it overrides the Masoretic accents, and, in another, breaks up one word of the Kethib into two.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/jeremiah-6.html. 1874-1909.
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