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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Jeremiah 1

 

 

Verse 1

The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:

The General Title or Introduction (Jeremiah 1:1-3); probably prefixed by Jeremiah when he collected his prophecies, and gave them to his countrymen to take with them to Babylon (Michaelis).

Anathoth - a town in Benjamin, twenty stadia, i:e., two or three miles, north of Jerusalem; now Anata (cf. Isaiah 10:30, "O poor Anathoth," and the context, 28-32). One of the four cities allotted to the Kohathites, "children of Aaron," in Benjamin (Joshua 21:18). Compare 1 Kings 2:26-27, a stigma was cast thenceforth on the whole sacerdotal family resident there: this may be alluded to in the words here --

The priests ... in Anathoth. God chooses "the weak, base, and despised things" "to confound the mighty."


Verse 2-3

To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.

Jehoiakim ... Josiah ... Zedekiah. Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin are omitted, for they reigned only three months each. The first and last of the kings under whom each prophet prophesied are often thus specified in the general title. See on these kings, and Jeremiah's life, in introduction.

Thirteenth ... of his reign - (Jeremiah 25:3).

The carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month - (2 Kings 25:8) by Nebuzar-adan.

Jeremiah's Call to the Prophetical Office (Jeremiah 1:4-10).


Verse 4

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Unto me - other manuscript read 'to him' [ 'eelaayw (Hebrew #413)], but the English version probably represents the true Hebrew text [ 'eelay (Hebrew #413)], "unto me:" this inscription was doubtless made by Jeremiah himself.


Verse 5

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Knew thee - approved of thee as my chosen instrument (Exodus 33:12 : cf. Isaiah 49:1; Romans 8:29).

Sanctified - rather, separated. The primary meaning is to set apart from a common to a special use; hence, arose the secondary sense, to sanctify, ceremonially and morally. It is not here meant that Yahweh cleansed Jeremiah from original sin, or regenerated him by his Spirit; but separated him to his special prophetic office, including in its range not merely the Hebrews, but also the nations hostile to them (Jeremiah 25:12-38; Jeremiah 27:1-22; Jeremiah 46:1-28; Jeremiah 47:1-7; Jeremiah 48:1-47; Jeremiah 49:1-39; Jeremiah 50:1-46; Jeremiah 51:1-64) (Henderson.) Not the effect, but the predestination in Yahweh's secret counsel, is meant by the sanctification here (cf. Luke 1:15; Acts 15:18; Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 1:11).


Verse 6

Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

Child - the same word is translated "young man," 2 Samuel 18:5. From the long duration of his office, from Josiah's time until at least the passing of the Jewish remnant into Egypt after the capture of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 1:2-3; Jeremiah 40:1, etc.; 43:8, etc.), it is supposed he was at his call at least under 25 years of age. The reluctance often shown by inspired ministers of God (as Moses, Exodus 4:10; Exodus 6:12; Exodus 6:30; Jonah, Jonah 1:3) to accept the call, shows that they did not assume the office under the impulse of self-deceiving fanaticism, as false prophets often did.


Verse 7

But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.

To all that - to all to whom (Rosenmuller). Rather, 'to all against whom;' in a hostile sense (cf. Jeremiah 1:8; Jeremiah 1:17-19) (Maurer). Such was the perversity of the rulers and people of Judea at that time, that whoever would desire to be a faithful prophet needed to arm himself with an intrepid mind: Jeremiah was naturally timid and sensitive, yet the Spirit moulded him to the necessary degree of courage without taking away his special sensitive, yet the Spirit moulded him to the necessary degree of courage without taking away his special individuality.


Verse 8

Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

Be not afraid - (Ezekiel 2:6, "Be not afraid of their words, nor dismayed at their looks").

I am with thee - (Exodus 3:12; Joshua 1:5, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor foresake thee").


Verse 9

Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

Touched my mouth - a symbolical act in supernatural vision, implying that God would give him utterance, notwithstanding his inability to "speak" (Jeremiah 1:6). So Isaiah's lips were touched with a living coal (Isaiah 6:7; cf. Ezekiel 2:8-10; Daniel 10:16).


Verse 10

See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Set thee over - literally, appointed thee to the oversight. He was to have his eye upon the nations, and to predict their destruction or restoration, according as their conduct was bad or good. Prophets are said to do that which they foretell shall be done; for their word is God's word: and His word is His instrument whereby He doeth all things (Genesis 1:3; Psalms 33:6; Psalms 33:9). Word and deed are one thing with Him. What His prophet saith is as certain as if it were done. The prophet's own consciousness was absorbed into that of God: so closely united to God did he feel himself that Yahweh's words and deeds are described as his. In Jeremiah 31:28 God is said to do what Jeremiah here is represented as doing, "I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to destroy; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the Lord" (cf. Jeremiah 18:7; 1 Kings 19:17,-namely, by the word of the Lord in his mouth, the efficacious instrument of destroying the guilty; Ezekiel 43:3). Root out - (Matthew 15:13, "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up").

Pull down - change of metaphor to architecture (2 Corinthians 10:4, "The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds"). There is a play on the similar sounds, lintowsh (Hebrew #5428), lintowts, in the Hebrew for "root out ... pull down."

Build ... plant - restore upon their repenting. His predictions were to be chiefly, and in the first instance, denunciatory; therefore the destruction of the nations is put first, and with a greater variety of terms than their restoration.


Verse 11

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.

Rod - shoot or branch.

Almond tree - literally, the wakeful tree [ shaaqeed (Hebrew #8247), from shaaqad (Hebrew #8245), to awake], because it awakes from the sleep of winter earlier than the other trees, flowering in January and bearing fruit in March; symbol of God's early execution of its purpose, Jeremiah 1:12 "I will hasten my word to perform it" (cf. Amos 8:2).


Verse 12

Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.

Hasten - rather, 'I will be wakeful [ shoqeed (Hebrew #8245)] as to my word,' etc.; alluding to Jeremiah 1:11, the wakeful tree (Maurer.)


Verse 13

And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.

What seest thou? - another vision signifying what is the "word" about to be 'performed ' and by what What seest thou? - another vision, signifying what is the "word" about to be 'performed,' and by what instrumentality.

Seething - literally, blown under; so boiling by reason of the flame under it kept brisk by blowing. An Oriental symbol of a raging war.

Toward - rather, 'from the north;' literally, from the face of the region situated toward the north (cf. Jeremiah 1:14-15). (Maurer.) The pot in the north rested on one side, its mouth being about to pour forth its contents southwards, namely, on Judea. Babylon, though east of Judea, was regarded by the Hebrews as north because they appropriated the term 'East' to Arabia Deserta, stretching from Palestine to the Euphrates; or rather (Bochart), the reference here is, not to the site, but to the route of the Babylonians; not being able to cross the desert, they must enter the Holy Land by the northern frontier, through Riblah in the land of Hamath (Jeremiah 39:5; Jeremiah 52:9).


Verse 14

Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

Break forth - `shall disclose itself.'

Out of the north - (Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 6:1; Jeremiah 6:22; Jeremiah 10:22; Jeremiah 25:9; Ezekiel 26:7.) The Chaldeans did not cast off the yoke of Assyria until several years after, under Nabopolassar, 625 AD but long previously they had so increased as to threaten Assyria, which was now grown weak, and other neighbouring peoples.


Verse 15

For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.

All the families of the kingdoms of the north - the manifold tribes or clans composing the various kingdoms of Babylon: the specification of these aggravates the picture of calamity (Jeremiah 25:9).

Set every one his throne at ... gates - the usual place of administering justice. The couquering princes will set up their tribunal there, (Jeremiah 39:3, "All the princes of the king of Babylon came in and sat in the middle gate, even Nergal-Sharezer," etc.) Or the reference is to the military pavilion (Jeremiah 43:10, "At the entry of Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes, Nebuchadrezzar will set his throne upon these stones, and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them"). (Maurer.) I prefer the former view.


Verse 16

And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.

Utter - pronounce. The judicial sentences, pronounced against the Jews by the invading princes would be virtually the 'judgments of God' (Isaiah 10:5, "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation").

Worshipped the works of their own hands - idols.


Verse 17

Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.

Gird up thy loins - resolutely prepare for thy appointed task. Metaphor from the flowing robes worn in the East, which have to be girt up with a girdle, so as not to incommode one when undertaking any active work (Job 38:3; Luke 12:35; 1 Peter 1:13).

Dismayed ... confound - the same Hebrew word is used for both [chaatat] - literally, to break, and so to break down with fear or shame. Translate, therefore, 'Be not dismayed at their faces (before them), lest I make thee dismayed before their faces' (before them) - i:e., 'lest I should permit thee to be overcome by them' (cf. Jeremiah 49:37).


Verse 18

For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.

Defenced city ... - i:e., I will give thee strength which no power of thine enemies shall overcome (Jeremiah 6:27; Jeremiah 15:20; Isaiah 50:7, A type of Messiah, who says, "I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed;" Jer. 54:17 , So Israel, literal, and also spiritual, the believing church; Luke 21:15; Acts 6:10).

Walls - plural, to express the abundant strength to be given him. De Rossi's manuscript read singular [chomat for chomowt (Hebrew #2346)] - wall, or walls.

People of the land - the general masses, as distinguished from the princes and priests.

Remark: (1) God's call of His servants to special services of usefulness in His Church rests upon His eternal counsel and foreknowledge, for "known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18); and "whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate; moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called" (Romans 8:29-30). He who "formed us in the belly," (Jeremiah 1:5), and "knew" us even "before" that, has from the beginning appointed the particular sphere in which we should be placed, as consecrated to His glory. But besides His providential call, we need His new-creating Spirit to qualify us for His holy service on earth, and for immediate communion with Him, and with His blessed saints and angels in heaven.

(2) Though consciousness of our infirmity and insufficiency should make us humble in going to our appointed work of faith and labour of love, it should not lead us to draw back from the duty to which God plainly calls us. To do the latter would be, not humility, but unbelief; for where God appoints us to any duty He will give us strength for the discharge of it, if only we trust in Him. The all-powerful Spirit can so strengthen the timid and sensitive Jeremiah for the discharge of the function assigned to him, that his adversaries have no more power against him than they would have against a securely "defensed city, an iron pillar, or brasen walls" (Jeremiah 1:8; Jeremiah 1:18). If God be with us, we need not fear, however numerous and mighty may be the foes arrayed against us.

(3) One of the first operations of the Holy Spirit in consecrating any man to God, whether minister or layman, is to touch his month so as to give him a spiritual utterance such as he had not before; and though we are not to expect new tongues of fire, such as alighted on the disciples on Pentecost, nor such special inspiration as was vouchsafed to Jeremiah by the divine touching of his lips, yet we ought to expect, if we be truly born again of the Spirit, that "utterance shall be given unto us, that we may open our mouths boldly to make known the Gospel" (Ephesians 6:19) to those within the range of our influence.

(4) A docile spirit is that best adapted for receiving the impressions of grace; at the same time, we are not to continue to be children in understanding, but must seek to have the strong mind and manly resolution of mature Christians, while we ever retain the humble feeling of the prophet before God, "Ah, Lord God! I am but a child" (Jeremiah 1:6).

(5) While the ungodly flatter themselves that the time of execution of judgment upon them is far off, and that God now takes no heed of them and their ways, He is all the while 'wakeful as to His word to perform it' (Jeremiah 1:12, remark); their "judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not" (2 Peter 2:3). Let men be wise in time, and acquaint themselves now with God, and so be at peace; then shall the coming judgment lose all its terrors, and God, as a reconciled Father, will at last receive them forever to be with Himself.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-1.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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