The following four chapters must be taken together. If they do not contain the very words uttered by Jeremiah on some particular occasion, they must be regarded as made up from the discourses he was accustomed to deliver at this time, and hence as representing, even to the language, his teachings. For the historical setting of this passage, turn to the twenty-sixth chapter. Jehoiakim had been established on the throne by the king of Egypt in the place of his younger brother, Jehoahaz, who had been preferred by the people, probably because Jehoiakim belonged to the party who favoured alliance with Egypt. All hope of the success and perpetuity of Josiah’s reformation had passed away. Hence the great object of the discourse was to work in the people conviction of their sin and their danger, and, if possible, to lead them back, through penitence and humiliation, unto their old faith. The most offensive portion of Jeremiah’s address consisted in his reference to the ruins of Shiloh and his intimation that even Jerusalem, the sanctuary of the Most High, might experience a similar fate. As we learn from the twenty-sixth chapter, Jeremiah would have paid for his fidelity with his life had it not been for influential friends.
The discourse falls into three leading divisions:
1. The Temple and its Worship no Adequate Ground of Confidence, Jeremiah 7:1 to Jeremiah 8:3.
2. The Growing Wickedness of the Leaders and Teachers, Jeremiah 8:4 to Jeremiah 9:24.
3. The Means of Escape, Jeremiah 9:25 to Jeremiah 10:25.
1. The Temple and its Worship no Adequate Ground of Confidence.
Jeremiah 7:1 to Jeremiah 8:3.
VANITY OF TRUSTING IN THE TEMPLE, Jeremiah 7:1-16.
2.Gate of the Lord’s house — Comp. Jeremiah 36:10. Probably one of the three gates to the inner court.
All’ Judah — Probably spoken on the occasion of one of the annual feasts.
3.Amend your ways and your doings — Habits and particular acts.
4.Lying words — Words of deception, misleading them as to their confidence. The error consisted in assuming as fact, that because Jerusalem contained the temple of the Lord that she stood in no danger of punishment from her apostasy and wickedness. That was a sort of national fetichism, such as has had many illustrations in history. The threefold repetition of the phrase “temple of the Lord” serves to indicate the fulness and emphasis of their confidence.
These — Probably alluding to the halls, courts, and various structures of the sanctuary.
5, 6.If ye thoroughly amend, etc. — If you shall, in experience and character, join yourself to the Almighty — if you shall become his spiritual habitation, and thus be endowed with the wealth of his attributes — then will you be safe in a sense in which no material thing, not even the temple of Jehovah, could make you so. The conditions which are here specified are doubtless suggestive of the crimes which prevailed among them. One of these is, the not shedding innocent blood; showing that the bloody rites of Moloch were practised among the people.
9, 10.Will ye steal’ and burn incense unto Baal — The precise thought of this notable passage is obscured, if not, indeed, materially changed, in the Authorized Version. It is not the plea of the fatalist, but of the ritualist, which is here reproved. Their sin and blasphemy consisted in setting religious services over against the grossest immoralities in their lives, so that, though doing all these abominations, they claimed to be delivered — that, is, freed from all the consequences — by coming and standing before God in his house. It was not the first instance — and, alas! not the last — in which the “worship of the body” has been supposed to atone for the sins of the soul.
11.Den of robbers — In that limestone country, where caves abound, and where robbery has ever been the business of multitudes, this phrase had a force and expressiveness which we imperfectly feel; and hence the contrast with the glorious house of God is a startling role.
12.Unto my place’ in Shiloh — Shiloh, north of Jerusalem, was the place where the ark of the covenant was kept for a long period, and so was a sort of predecessor to Jerusalem as a place of the divine presence. There were, perhaps, in Shiloh permanent buildings for sanctuary purposes, though the holy ark itself abode in a tabernacle. To the ruins of these the prophet alludes, virtually saying, It is possible for even a sanctuary of Jehovah to be destroyed, as witness Shiloh.
13.Rising up early — Showing deep and tender interest, in that he speaks from early morning onward.
14.Will I do unto this house — It was after this passage, as we learn from the twenty-sixth chapter, that the priests, the prophets, and the people took Jeremiah and said, “Thou shalt surely die.” But the man of God, strong in his consciousness of being joined to Jehovah, spoke such clear, bold words in his own vindication that they could not compass his ruin. History furnishes few examples of courage so intrepid and words so forceful as those of this weeping prophet on this occasion.
THEIR WORSHIP OF JEHOVAH HYPOCRITICAL, BEING JOINED WITH IDOLATRY, Jeremiah 7:17-28.
18.Children’ fathers’ women — All classes unite. The family in its organic unity does the work of irreligion. The very fountains of human life are poisoned, so that even the children are busied in these hellish rites.
Queen of heaven — An Assyrian goddess representing the productive principle of nature, whose rites were ofttimes most unclean and infamous. (See also Jeremiah 44:7.)
22.For I spake not — The evidence which some have found in this passage of the late origin of the ceremonial portions of the Pentateuch, is of no value whatever: the many allusions in this book and the earlier prophetical books to the ceremonial law refute that idea. The prophet speaks not absolutely, but relatively; relatively, as to time and importance. God spake not so early, nor so emphatically, as to sacrifices, as he did respecting obedience to his spiritual law.
24.Went backward — Literally, were backward. That is, they turned the back and not the face.
25.Since the day, etc. — From the first, God had been seeking to enforce that one great lesson of obedience and submission. Every prophet had come on that errand. Every priest had been consecrated to that work. Every ritual observance had this for its deep and significant lesson.
27.Thou shalt speak, etc. — The exact thought is, though thou speakest they will not hearken.
28.Truth is perished — Better, faithfulness is perished. That is, truth in character, not objective truth.
JEHOVAH’S REJECTION OF THE NATION, Jeremiah 7:29-34.
29.Hair — Here spoken of as a crown, the literal meaning of the original being diadem. See Numbers 6:7. English Version, “consecration.” The word was originally applied to the diadem of the high priest, (Exodus 29:6,) and, as Keil thinks, was transferred to the hair because the uncut hair of the Nazarite was the mark of his consecration to the Lord, expressing what the diadem of the high priest expressed. As the defiled Nazarite should cut off the hair of his head because it had ceased to be a symbol of his peculiar and intimate relation to God, so Jerusalem is called upon to shear off her hair for the same reason. No longer is she the consecrated of the Lord. She has become defiled; hence cast off and abandoned.
30.Have set their abominations in the house’ called by my name — Probably alluding to the profanation of the temple by Manasseh. 2 Kings 21:5; 2 Kings 21:7.
31.High places of Tophet — The word for “high places” is not the same which has been repeatedly so translated in this book, as in Jeremiah 7:29, but rather high altars. It applies to those artificial shrines raised for Baal worship at Jerusalem. Some have thought that the word “Tophet” is to be used here not as a proper noun, but an epithet — abomination. But the reasons given are not conclusive. It is better to regard it here, as elsewhere, as simply the name for a definite locality. For the genesis of the word, see the dictionaries.
Valley of the son of Hinnom — The origin of this designation is not known. Probably it came from some ancient hero of whose exploits this name is the only memorial. It is first used in the book of Joshua.
To burn their sons and their daughters — See Jeremiah 19:6; Jeremiah 32:35; Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5; and Ezekiel 16:20-21. This burning was literal, though, as would appear from Ezekiel, the victims were slain before being burned. They “caused their children to pass through the fire” in order to purify them and fit them for eternal bliss.
32.Valley of slaughter — Where they sinned they shall die. Where they slaughtered their own children, in blasphemous and cruel idolatry, shall they be slaughtered. This slaughter shall be so fearful that the dead shall remain unburied, and the solitude and desolation shall be so perfect that not even shall the passers by scare away the vultures from the carcasses.
34.Cause to cease’ the voice of mirth — Gloom and desolation shall cover the land. The joyfulness of life shall be gone. It shall be a dread carnival of death!
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany