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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Jeremiah 10

 

 

Verse 1

Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

Israel - The Jews, the surviving representatives of the nation.


Verse 2

Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven. Eichorn thinks the reference here to be to some celestial portent which had appeared at that time, causing the Jews dismay. Probably the reference is general, namely, to the Chaldees, famed as astrologers, through contact with whom the Jews were likely to fall into the same superstition.

Way - the precepts or ordinances (Acts 9:2, "If he found any of this way," i:e., religion).

Signs of heaven. The Gentiles did not acknowledge a Great First Cause: many thought events depended on the power of the stars, which some, as Plato, thought to be endued with spirit and reason. All heavenly phenomena are included, eclipses, comets, etc.


Verse 3

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

One cutteth a tree out of the forest. Maurer translates, 'It (that which their "customs" have regard to: a sample of their "customs") is a tree which they cut out of the forest.'


Verse 4

They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

They fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not - i:e., that it may stand upright without risk of falling, which the god (!) would do if left to itself (Isaiah 41:7).


Verse 5

They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

Upright , [ miqshaah (Hebrew #4749)] - 'Made of one solid piece,' one Rabbi translates it, or, 'They are of turned work, resembling a palm tree' (Maurer). The point of comparison between the idol and the palm was in the pillar-like uprightness and plain smoothness of the latter, it having no branches except at the top.

Speak not - (Psalms 115:5).

Cannot go - i:e., walk (Isaiah 46:1; Isaiah 46:7, "Their idols are a burden to the weary beast ... They bear (the idol) upon their shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth: from his place shall he not remove").

Neither also is it in them to do good - (Isaiah 41:23, "That we may know ye are gods; yea, do good, or do evil," etc.)


Verse 6

Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD thou art great, and thy name is great in might.

None - literally, no particle of nothing: nothing whatever; the strongest possible denial (Exodus 15:11, "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?")


Verse 7

Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.

Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? - (Revelation 15:4).

To thee doth it appertain - to thee it properly belongs, namely, that thou shouldest be "feared" (taken out of the previous "fear thee") (cf. Ezekiel 21:27, "I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more, until HE come, whose right it (the kingdom) is: and I will give it him"). He alone is the becoming object of worship. To worship any other is unseemly, and an infringement of His inalienable prerogative.

None - nothing whatever, note, Jeremiah 10:6; Psalms 89:6, "Who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?")


Verse 8

But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.

They are altogether - rather, all alike (Maurer).

Brutish - even the so-called "wise" men (Jeremiah 10:7) of the Gentiles are on a level with the brutes and "foolish," namely, because they connive at the popular idolatry (cf. Romans 1:21-28. Therefore, in Daniel and Revelation, the world-power is represented under a bestial form. Man divests himself of his true humanity, and sinks to the level of the brute, when he severs his connection with God (Psalms 115:8; Jonah 2:8).

The stock is a doctrine of vanities. The stock (put for the worship of all idols whatever, made out of a stock) speaks for itself, that the whole theory of idolatry is vanity (Isaiah 44:9-11, "They that make a graven image are all of them vanity, and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses: they see not, nor know, that they may be ashamed"). Castalio translates, 'the very wood itself confuting the vanity' (of the idol).

In Jeremiah 10:9, everything connected with idols is the result of human effort.


Verse 9

Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.

Silver spread - (note, Isaiah 30:22; Isaiah 40:19).

Tarshish - Tartessus, in Spain, famed for precious metals.

Uphaz - (Daniel 10:5). As the Septuagint in the Syrian Hexapla in the margin, Theodotus, the Syrian and Chaldee versions have Ophir, Gesenius thinks Uphas is a colloquial corruption (one letter only being changed) for Ophir. Ophir, in Genesis 10:29, is mentioned among Arabian countries. Perhaps Malacca is the country meant, the natives of which still call their gold-mines Ophirs. Heeren thinks Ophir the general name for the rich countries of the South, on the Arabian, African, and Indian coasts: just as our term East Indies.

Work of cunning men - skillful men.


Verse 10

But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

True God - literally, God Yahweh is truth: not merely true, i:e., veracious, but truth in the reality of His essence, as opposed to the "vanity" or emptiness which all idols are (Jeremiah 10:3; Jeremiah 10:8; Jeremiah 10:15; contrast "the true God," 2 Chronicles 15:3; 1 John 5:20, "This is the true God and eternal life").

Living God - (John 5:26, "As the Father hath life in Himself: so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself"). He hath life in Himself, which no creature has. All else "live in Him" (Acts 17:28). In contrast to dead idols.

Everlasting - (Psalms 10:16, "The Lord is King forever and ever"). In contrast to the temporary existence of all other objects of worship.

Jeremiah 10:11. is in Chaldee, Jeremiah supplying his countrymen with a formula of reply to Chaldee idolaters, in the tongue most intelligible to the latter. There may be also derision intended in imitating their barbarous dialect. Rosenmuller objects to this view, that not merely the words put in the mouths of the Israelites, but Jeremiah's own introductory words, "Thus shall ye say to them," are in Chaldee, and thinks it to be a marginal gloss. But it is found in all the oldest versions. It was an old Greek saying, 'Whoever thinks himself a god besides the One God, let him make another world' (Psalms 96:5).


Verse 11

Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.

Shall perish - (Isaiah 2:18, "The idols He shall utterly abolish," namely, "in the day of the Lord of hosts;" Jeremiah 10:12; Zechariah 13:2).

These heavens - the speaker pointing to them with his finger.

Jeremiah 10:12 is a continuation of Jeremiah 10:10, after the interruption of the thread of the discourse in Jeremiah 10:11 (Psalms 136:5-6).


Verse 12

He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 13

When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.

When He uttereth His voice - literally, 'At the voice of His giving forth,' i:e., when He thundereth, (Job 38:34; Psalms 29:3-5, "The voice of the Lord is upon the waters, the God of glory thundereth," etc.)

Waters in the heavens - (Genesis 1:7), above the firmament; heavy rains accompany thunder.

He causeth the vapours to ascend - (Psalms 135:7).

Treasures - His stores.


Verse 14

Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.

Every man - every idol-maker.

In his knowledge - "is rendered brutish by his skill," namely, in idol-making (Jeremiah 10:8-9). Thus the parallel, "confounded by (literally, from, min (Hebrew #4480)) the graven image," corresponds (so Jeremiah 51:17). Others, not so well, translate, "without knowledge," namely, of God (see Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 45:16; Hosea 4:6). This translation is possible in the Hebrew, but does not agree with the parallelism.


Verse 15

They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.

The work of errors - deceptions; from a Hebrew root, to stutter; then meaning to mock.

In the time of their visitation they shall perish - when God shall punish the idol-worshippers (namely, by Cyrus), the idols themselves shall be destroyed (Rosenmuller) (Jeremiah 10:11).


Verse 16

The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts is his name.

Portion - from a Hebrew root, 'to divide' [ cheeleq (Hebrew #2506), from chaalaq (Hebrew #2505)]. God is the all-sufficient Good of His people (Numbers 18:20, "The Lord spake unto, Aaron ... I am thy part and thine inheritance;" Psalms 16:5; Lamentations 3:24).

Not like them - not like the idols, a vain object of trust (Deuteronomy 32:31, "Their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges").

Former of all things - `the Fashioner (as a potter, Isaiah 64:8) of the universe.'

Rod of his inheritance - the portion marked off as His inheritance by the measuring rod (Ezekiel 48:21). As He is their portion, so are they His portion (Deuteronomy 32:9, "The Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot (Hebrew, cord) of His inheritance"). A reciprocal tie (cf. Jeremiah 51:19). Others make "rod" refer to the tribal rod or sceptre, as in Psalms 74:2, "Thy congregation which Thou hast purchased of old: the rod (margin, tribes) of thine inheritance which Thou hast redeemed".


Verse 17

Gather up thy wares out of the land, O inhabitant of the fortress.

Gather up thy wares - thine effects or movable goods (Ezekiel 12:3, "Thou Son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight"). Prepare for migrating as captives to Babylon. The address is to Jerusalem, as representative of the whole people.

Inhabitant of the fortress - rather, inhabitress of the fortress. Though thou now seemest to inhabit an impregnable fortress, thou shalt have to remove. "The land" is the campaign region, opposed to the "fortified cities." The "fortress" being taken, the whole "land" will share the disaster. Henderson translates, 'Gather up thy packages from the ground.' Rosenmuller, because "fortress," translates 'siege,' i:e., the besieged city. The various articles, in this view, are supposed to be lying about in confusion on the ground during the siege.


Verse 18

For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will sling out the inhabitants of the land at this once, and will distress them, that they may find it so.

Sling out - expressing the violence and suddenness of the removal to Babylon. A similar image occurs Jeremiah 16:13; (1 Samuel 25:29, Abigail says to David, "The souls of thine enemies, them shall He sling out, as out of the middle of a sling;" Isaiah 22:17-18).

At this once - at this time now.

Find it so - find it by experience, i:e., feel it (Ezekiel 6:10, "They shall know that I am the Lord, and that I have not said in vain, that I would do this evil unto them"). [ Maatsaa' (Hebrew #4672), to find]. Michaelis translates, 'I will bind them together (as in a sling), that they may reach the goal' (Babylon). The English version is best: that they may find it so as I have said (Numbers 23:19).


Verse 19

Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.

Woe is me for my hurt! Judea bewails its calamity. Wound - the stroke I suffer under.

I must bear - not humble submission to God's will (Micah 7:9), but sullen impenitence. Or, rather, it is prophetic of their ultimate acknowledgment of their guilt as the cause of their calamity (Lamentations 3:39).


Verse 20

My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.

My tabernacle is spoiled - metaphor from the tents of nomadic life; as these are taken down in a few moments, so as not to leave a vestige of them, so Judea (Jeremiah 4:20).

Cords - with which the coverings of the tent are extended.

Curtains - tent-curtains.


Verse 21

For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.

Pastors - the rulers, civil and religious. This verse gives the cause of the impending calamity.


Verse 22

Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a den of dragons.

Bruit. - rumour of invasion. The antithesis is between the voice of God in His prophets, which they turned a deaf ear to, and the cry of the enemy, a new teacher, whom they must hear (Calvin).

North country - Babylon (Jeremiah 1:15).


Verse 23

O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

Despairing of influencing the people, he turns to God.

Way of man not in himself - (Proverbs 16:1, "The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord;" Proverbs 20:24; James 4:13-14). I know, O Yahweh, that the march of the Babylonian conqueror against me (Jeremiah identifying himself with his people) is not at his own discretion, but is overruled by thee (Isaiah 10:5-7, "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger ... against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge;" cf. Jeremiah 10:19).

That walketh - when he walketh, i:e., sets out in any undertaking.

To direct his steps - to give a prosperous issue to (Psalms 37:23, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delighteth in his way") his movement.


Verse 24-25

O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

Since I (my nation) must be corrected (justice requiring it because of the deep guilt of the nation), I do not deprecate all chastisement, but pray only for moderation in it (Jeremiah 30:11; Psalms 6:1; Psalms 38:1); and that the full tide of thy fury may be poured out on the pagan invaders for their cruelty toward thy people. Compare Psalms 79:6-7, "Pour out thy wrath upon the pagan that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name:" a psalm to be referred to the time of the captivity; its composer probably repeated this from Jeremiah. The imperative, "Pour out," is used instead of the future, expressing vividly the certainty of the prediction, and that the Word of God itself effects its own declarations. Accordingly the Jews were restored after correction; the Babylonians were utterly extinguished.

Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name

- knowledge of God is the beginning of piety; calling on Him the fruit.

Heathen ... Jacob - he reminds God of the distinction He has made between His people, whom Jacob represents, and the pagan aliens. Correct us as thy adopted sons, the seed of Jacob; destroy them as outcasts, (Zechariah 1:14-15; Zechariah 1:21, "I am jealous for Jerusalem and Zion with a great jealousy. And I am very sore displeased with the pagan that are at ease. ... These are the horns which have scattered Judah ... but these are come to cast

out the horns of the Gentiles which lifted up their horn over Judah," etc.) Remarks:

(1) True religion alone can set us free from the bondage of superstitious fears (Jeremiah 10:2). Idolaters and infidels, though in opposite extremes-the former the slaves of credulity, the latter enslaved in self-worship-are both alike prone to superstition. He who fears the living and Almighty God has none else to fear. Let us therefore stand in reverent awe of Him who is "great" in His essential being, great in His manifested "might" (Jeremiah 10:6).

(2) The anthem of the Church militant should accord with the anthem of the Church triumphant (Revelation 15:2-4), "Who would not fear thee, O King of nations, for to Thee doth it appertain" (Jeremiah 10:7). God the Father hath given the nations to Christ as His inheritance by right of purchase with His blood, as well as by right of creation, (Psalms 2:1-12.) The actual possession is not yet entered upon, but in His own good time Christ is coming to take His great power, and to reign. They alone are "wise" (Jeremiah 10:7) who give unto Him, in His visible absence, the "fear" and honour due unto His name. The so-called wise men of the world lose the true dignity of manhood, and sink to the level of the brute, by severing themselves from the God in whose image man was made. "Fools" is the true name given to all such by revelation (Romans 1:21-28).

(3) All knowledge that does not ultimately emanate from God, and lead man to God, is a "doctrine of vanities" (Jeremiah 10:8). Faith teaches man to love and adore Yahweh as "the true God, the living God, and an everlasting King" (Jeremiah 10:10). This humbling of ourselves before Yahweh not only does not degrade, but truly exalts us, by linking us, dying creatures of earth, to Him who liveth forever and ever. The glory of the Creator, who "hath made the earth by His power," and "established the world by His wisdom, and stretched out the heavens by His discretion" (Jeremiah 10:12), is in some measure reflected on His true worshippes.

(4) All other objects which men idolize "shall perish in the time of their visitation" by the Almighty and All-righteous Judge. But not so He who is th e abiding "portion" of believers. He shall be theirs, and they His, throughout the countless ages of a happy eternity. As He is their "crown of glory," so, by a blessed reciprocity, they are His (Isaiah 28:5; cf. Isaiah 62:3). While the souls of His enemies shall be "slung out, as cut of the middle of a sling" (Jeremiah 10:18; 1 Samuel 25:29), the souls of the saints shall be "bound in the bundle of life with the Lord God."

(5) It is a hopeful sign when men in affliction are brought to "bear" their "grief" submissively, as a chastisement sent by the Lord; but many, like the Jews, fortify themselves with a stoical and forced resignation, which is a token rather of sullen impenitence than of unfeigned humility and repentance (Jeremiah 10:19-20).

(6) Such as would not hear the loving voice of God were forced to hear the terrible "noise of the bruit" of the invading enemy (Jeremiah 10:22). Even at the time when a judgment is descending, if men would humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, He would raise them out of their afflict ion at the last. The believer at such times comforts himself with the thought that "the ways of man" are not at his own disposal, but under the never-failing providence of God. The saint feels utterly incompetent to "direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). God can overrule the things which His child fears most, to ultimate good: He can restrain the furiousness of the enemy, even as He caused Nebuchadnezzar to give charge for the kindly treatment of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 39:11). So that the believer prays in affliction, not 'O Lord, do not correct me,' but "O Lord, correct me with judgment, not in thine anger" (Jeremiah 10:24). We may bear the smart of His rod, but not the weight of His wrath: that, indeed, would "bring us to nothing."

(7) "There is an everlasting distinction between God's dealings with His covenant-people and His judgment, on "the families that call not on His name" Jeremiah 10:25). His people are chastised, and are thereby brought to repentance, faith, and love. His hardened enemies are destroyed everlastingly, alike for their disregard of and rebellion against Him, and for their oppression of His people. Let these who do not honour God as families, and with family worship, be warned before it is too late.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-10.html. 1871-8.

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