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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Jeremiah 6

 

 

Verse 1

O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Beth-haccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.

Benjamin. Jerusalem was situated in the tribe of Benjamin, which was here separated from that of Judah by the valley of Hinnom. Though it was inhabited partly by Benjamites, partly by men of Judah, he addresses the former as being his own countrymen.

Blow the trumpet in Tekoa - Tikehu Tekoa form a play on sounds. The birthplace of Amos.

Beth-haccerem - meaning in Hebrew, vineyard-house. It and Tekoa were a few miles south of Jerusalem. Since the enemy came from the north, the inhabitants of the surrounding country would naturally flee southwards. The fire-signal on the hills gave warning of danger approaching.


Verse 2

I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.

Likened - rather, 'I lay waste,' [ daamaah (Hebrew #1819)] - literally, "O comely and delicate one, I lay waste the Likened - rather, 'I lay waste,' [ daamaah (Hebrew #1819)] - literally, "O comely and delicate one, I lay waste the daughter of Zion" - i:e., thee. So Zechariah 3:9, "Behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua" - i:e., before thee (Maurer).


Verse 3

The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place.

Shepherds - hostile leaders with their armies (Jeremiah 1:15; Jeremiah 4:17; Jeremiah 49:20; Jeremiah 50:45; Jeremiah 39:1-3; 2 Kings 25:1).

Feed. They shall consume each one all that is near him; literally, "his hand" - i:e., the place which he occupies (Numbers 2:17; note, Isaiah 56:5, "a place," literally, a hand").


Verse 4-5

Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out.

The invading soldiers encourage one another to the attack on Jerusalem.

Prepare - literally, Sanctify war - i:e., Proclaim it formally with solemn rites; the invasion was solemnly ordered by God (cf. Isaiah 13:3, "I have commanded my sanctified ones").

At noon - the hottest part of the day, when attacks were rarely made (Jeremiah 15:8, "A spoiler at noon-day;" Jeremiah 20:16, "Let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide"). Even at this time they wished to attack, such is their eagerness.

Woe unto us! - the words of the invaders, mourning the approach of night, which would suspend their hostile operations; still, even in spite of the darkness, at night they renew the attack (Jeremiah 6:5).


Verse 6

For thus hath the LORD of hosts said, Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem: this is the city to be visited; she is wholly oppression in the midst of her. Cast - Hebrew, pour out; referring to the emptying of the baskets of earth to make the mound formed of "trees" and earthwork, to overtop the city walls. The "tress" were also used to make warlike engines with.

This - pointing the invaders to Jerusalem.

Visited - i:e., punished.

Wholly oppression - or join "wholly" with "visited" - i:e., she is altogether (in her whole extent) to be punished (Maurer).


Verse 7

As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds.

Fountain - rather, a well dug, from which water springs; distinct from a natural spring or fountain.

Casteth out - causeth to flow; literally, causeth to dig, the cause being put for the effect. See for instances of "violence," the times of Manasseh, Amon, and the interval before Josiah's accession (2 Kings 21:16; 2 Kings 21:24; Isaiah 57:20).

Before me - Yahweh. Before my eyes.


Verse 8

Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.

Tender appeal in the midst of threats.

Lest my soul depart - Hebrew, 'be torn away from thee.' Yahweh's affection making Him unwilling to depart; His attachment to Jerusalem was such that an effort was needed to tear Himself from it (Ezekiel 23:18; Hosea 9:12; Hosea 11:8).


Verse 9

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grapegatherer into the baskets.

The Jews are the grapes, their enemies the unsparing gleaners.

Turn back ... hand - again and again, bring freshly-gathered handfuls "to the baskets;" referring to the repeated carrying away of captives to Babylon-namely, Jehoiachin or Jeconiah and his mother, with all his princes, warriors and artisans: then in the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar 832 persons: then in the 23rd year by Nebuzaradan, the captain of his guard, 745 persons, probably in the commotions after Gedaliah's assassination (Jeremiah 52:28-30; note, 2 Kings 24:14; 2 Kings 25:11).


Verse 10

To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.

Ear is uncircumcised - closed against the precepts of God by the foreskin of carnality (Leviticus 26:41, "uncircumcised hearts;" Ezekiel 44:7; Acts 7:51, "uncircumcised in heart and ears").

Word of the Lord is unto them a reproach - (Jeremiah 20:8, "The word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision daily").


Verse 11

Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days.

Fury of the Lord - His denunciations communicated to the prophet against Judah.

Weary with holding in - (Jeremiah 20:9, "His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay").

I will pour - or else, imperative; the command of God (see Jeremiah 6:12), 'Pour it out' (Maurer).

The aged with him that is full of days. The former [ zaaqeen (Hebrew #2205)] means out becoming old; the latter a decrepit old man (Maurer), (Job 5:26; Isaiah 65:20, "nor an old man that hath not filled his days").


Verse 12

And their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD.

Their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives. The very punishments threatened by Moses in the event of disobedience to God (Deuteronomy 28:30).

Turned - transferred.


Verse 13

For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.

(Jeremiah 8:10; Isaiah 56:11, "Greedy dogs which can never have enough, all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter;" Micah 3:11).


Verse 14

They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

Hurt - the spiritual wound.

Slightly - as if it were but a slight wound; or, in a slight manner, pronouncing all sound where there is no soundness.

Saying - namely, the prophets and priests (Jeremiah 6:13). Whereas they ought to warn the people of impending judgments and the need of repentance, they say there is nothing to fear.

Peace - including soundness. All is sound in the nation's moral state, so all will be peace as to its political state (Jeremiah 4:10; Jeremiah 8:11; Jeremiah 14:13; Jeremiah 23:17; Ezekiel 13:5; Ezekiel 13:10; Ezekiel 22:28).


Verse 15

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

Rosenmuller translates, 'They ought to have been ashamed, because,' etc., 'but,' etc.; the Hebrew verb often expressing, not the action, but the duty to perform it (Genesis 20:9; Malachi 2:7). Maurer translates, 'They shall be put to shame, for they commit abomination; nay (the prophet correcting himself), there is no shame in them' (Jeremiah 3:3; Jeremiah 8:12; Ezekiel 3:7, "impudent" - literally, stiff of forehead; Zephaniah 3:5, "The unjust knoweth no shame").

Among them that fall - they shall fall with the rest of their people who are doomed to fall - i:e., I will now cease from words; I will execute vengeance (Calvin).


Verse 16

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

Stand ye in the ways, see, ask for the old paths - Image from travelers who have lost their road, stopping and inquiring which is the right way on which they once had been, but from which their have wandered.

Old paths. Idolatry and apostasy are the modern way; the worship of God the old way. Evil is not coeval with good, but a modern degeneracy from good. The forsaking of God is not, in a true sense, a "way cast up" at all (Jeremiah 18:15; Psalms 139:24, "See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." The law of God given through Moses is the old path-the good way-referred to. Malachi 4:4).

Rest - (Isaiah 28:12, "To whom He said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest: and this is the refreshing." The Lord Jesus gives to the weary "rest," such as is not to be found even in the law, as He faith, Matthew 11:29).


Verse 17

Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. Watchmen - prophets, whose duty it was to announce impending calamities, so as to lead the people to repentance (Isaiah 21:11; Isaiah 58:1; Ezekiel 3:17; Habakkuk 2:1).


Verse 18

Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them.

Congregation - parallel to "nations;" it therefore means the gathered peoples who invited to be witnesses how great is the perversity of the Israelites (Jeremiah 6:16-17), and that they deserve the severe punishment about to be inflicted on them (Jeremiah 6:19).

Know what is among them - what deeds are committed by the Israelites (Jeremiah 6:16-17). (Maurer.) Or, 'what punishments are about to be inflicted on them' (Calvin). I prefer the former view.


Verse 19

Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.

The fruit of their thoughts - (Proverbs 1:31, "Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices"). (See Isaiah 1:2).

Nor to my law, but rejected it - literally, 'and (as to) my law they have rejected it.' The same construction occurs Genesis 22:24.


Verse 20

To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.

To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba - literally, 'To what purpose is this to me, that incense cometh to me?

Incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane - (Isaiah 43:24; Isaiah 60:6). No external services are accepted by God without obedience of the heart and life (Jeremiah 7:21-23; Psalms 50:7-9; Isaiah 1:11; Micah 6:6, etc.)

Sweet ... sweet - antithesis. 'Your sweet cane is not sweet to me.' The calamus.


Verse 21

Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will lay stumblingblocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbour and his friend shall perish.

Stumblingblocks - instruments of the Jews' ruin (cf. Matthew 21:44, "Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken;" Isaiah 8:14, "A stone of stumbling, and ... a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel;" 1 Peter 2:8). God Himself in judicial displeasure ("I") lays stumblingblocks before the reprobate, "even as they have not liked to retain God in their knowledge" (Psalms 69:22; Romans 1:28; Romans 11:9). So His righteous sentence on the Jews, who turned their very spiritual privileges into means of spiritual pride, ending in their rejection of Messiah, was, "Let their table (the rich spiritual board provided for them) be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock unto them."

I will lay stumblingblocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbour and his friend shall perish - indiscriminate ruin.

Fall upon them - stumble over them to their hurt.


Verse 22

Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth.

A people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth.

The ancients were little acquainted with the north; therefore it is called the remotest regions (as the Hebrew [miyark


Verse 23

They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.

Like the sea - (Isaiah 5:30).

As men for war - not that they were like warriors, for they were warriors; but 'arrayed most perfectly as warriors' (Maurer).


Verse 24

We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail.

Fame thereof - the report of them.


Verse 25-26

Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and fear is on every side.

He addresses "the daughter of Zion" (Jeremiah 6:23); caution to the citizens of Jerusalem not to expose themselves to the enemy by going outside of the city walls.

Sword of the enemy - literally, there is a sword to the enemy; the enemy hath a sword.

Wallow thyself in ashes - (Micah 1:10, "Roll thyself in the dust"). As they usually in mourning only "cast ashes on the head," wallowing in them means something more-namely, so entirely to cover oneself with ashes as to be like one who had rolled in them (Ezekiel 27:30).

As for an only son - the most bitter lamentation that one can conceive. (Zechariah 12:10, "They shall mourn for Him (Messiah), as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born").

Lamentation - literally, lamentation expressed by beating the breast [ micpad (Hebrew #4553)].


Verse 27

I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way.

I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people - (Jeremiah 1:18); rather, an assayer (and) explorer. By a metaphor from metallurgy in Jeremiah 6:27-30, Yahweh, in conclusion, confirms the prophet in his office, and the latter sums up the description of the reprobate people on whom he had to work. The Hebrew for 'assayer' (English version, "tower") is from, a root to try metals [ baachown (Hebrew #969), from baachan]. 'Explorer (English version, "fortress") is from an Arabic root, keen-sighted; or a Hebrew root, cutting - i:e., separating the metal from the dress (Ewald). Gesenius translates as English version the second term [ mibtsaar (Hebrew #4013)] "fortress," which does not accord with the previous 'assayer.' However, it is so translated in Jeremiah 1:18 : the sense then will be, 'I have set thee, (as) an assayer (like) a fortress among my people' (secured from their violence) Maurer translates (as the Hebrew word in Job 22:24), 'An assayer without gold,' implying that the 'people among' whom Jeremiah was set were all dress, and no gold in them (Jer. 6:31 ).


Verse 28

They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.

Grievous revolters - literally, contumacious of the contumacious - i:e., most contumacious, the Hebrew mode of expressing a superlative. So "the strong among the mighty" - i:e., the strongest (Ezekiel 32:21). See Jeremiah 5:23; Hosea 4:16.

Walking with slanders - (Jeremiah 9:4). 'Going about for the purpose of slandering' (Maurer).

Brass ... - i:e., copper. It and 'iron' being the baser and harder metals express the debased and obdurate character of the Jews (Isaiah 48:4, "Thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass." In the coming restoration of all things and of the Jews first, God promises, "For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver," 60:17).


Verse 29

The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.

The bellows are burned - so intense a heat is made that the very bellows are almost set on fire. Rosenmuller translates, not so well, from a Hebrew root, 'pant' or 'snort' referring to the sound of the bellows blown hard. Lead - employed to separate the baser metal from the silver, as quicksilver is now used. In other words, the utmost pains have been used to purify Israel in the furnace of affliction, but in vain (Jeremiah 5:3, Thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction." The "faith" of the godly, on the contrary, is as pure "gold tried with fire").

Consumed of the fire. In the Chetib or Hebrew text, the "consumed" is supplied out of the previous "burned." If we were to translate as Rosenmuller, 'pant,' this will be inadmissible; and the Qeri' (Hebrew margin) division of the Hebrew words will have to be read, to get "is consumed of the, fire." This is an argument for the translation, 'are burned.'

Founder - the refiner.

The wicked are not plucked away - answering to the dross which has no good metal to be separated, the mass being all dross.


Verse 30

Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.

Reprobate silver - silver so full of alloy as to be utterly worthless (Isaiah 1:22, "Thy silver is become dross"). The Jews were fit only for rejection.

Remarks:

(1) It is suicidal folly to remain without preparation, and in self-indulgent ease, when hell and destruction are close at hand. Wherever unpardoned sin is, judgment is not far off. It will visit the careless ones at the moment when they least expect it, at "noon," or when "the shadows of evening" are lengthening, or "by night" (Jeremiah 6:4-5). The part of true wisdom is to "watch ... for we know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight ... or in the morning; lest, coming suddenly, He find us sleeping" (Mark 13:35).

(2) The natural heart, in man's unconverted state, is like a poisonous "fountain," always "casting out." unwholesome "waters," and yet never empty (Jeremiah 6:7). God loves us so graciously that He is most reluctant to "depart" from the sinner, which He must do at last, unless the sinner come to a better mind by true repentance. While yet the day of grace lasts, His appeal to each one is, "Be thou instructed, lest my soul depart from thee" (Jeremiah 6:8; Psalms 2:12).

(3) So long as the heart is unchanged, men have not the true circumcision, which is inward, in the spirit, and not in the letter" (Romans 2:29). In vain such men hear the word of Gad preached unto them, for "the ear is uncircumcised, so that they cannot hearken;" nay, if the minister of God press them closely in respect to their particular sins, "the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach, they have no delight in it" (Jeremiah 6:10).

(4) Covetousness (Jeremiah 6:13), which in the word's esteem is not a sin at all, but which in God's estimation is "idolatry" (Colossians 3:5), is a work of the flesh peculiarly provocative of the wrath of God, because it utterly alienates the heart from Him and His word (Jeremiah 6:13). How widely this sinful lust in the present day pervades all classes, "from the least ... even to the greatest."

(5) Ministers need faithfully to warn men that they can have "no peace" with God while they cling to their favourite sins (Jeremiah 6:14). As when Joram asked Jehu, "Is it peace?" when he was on the verge of his doom (2 Kings 9:22), so men whisper to themselves "Peace and safety, when sudden destruction is coming upon them" (1 Thessalonians 5:3). He is no true friend, but your deadliest enemy, who flatters you in your false security, healing your spiritual hurt slightly, instead of probing the deadly disease to its inmost roots, and cutting out the deeply-seated cancer.

(6) If one who has lost his way in a wilderness will not walk onwards without inquiring the right road from those who know it, how much more does it become those who, in respect to their immortal souls, have erred from the old paths of piety and righteousness, to "stand" and "ask" of God in prayer, and of His ministers and His Word, to be instructed how to walk in the narrow way, which, through Christ, leads to heaven. In Christ alone is "rest," in the truest sense, to be found: for it is His gift, and in taking His light yoke and easy burden upon us, and in learning of Him, who is meek and lowly of heart, we shall find rest unto our souls (Matthew 11:28-30).

(7) Ministers are spiritual "watchmen," set to "watch for souls, as they that must give account" (Jeremiah 6:17; Hebrews 13:17). They must sound the "trumpet" of alarm in the ears of the careless. If men through indifference "will not hearken," God will bring evil on the indifferent, "even the fruit of their thoughts" (Jeremiah 6:9). The sin and its punishment will most exactly correspond, so that the transgressors will feel at once the justice and terrible bitterness of their doom, being given up to "eat the fruit of their own way, and being filled with their own devices."

(8) When spiritual privileges are either neglected or abused to purposes of self- righteousness, God in judicial retribution turns them into actual "stumblingblocks" to the unworthy participators in them, making their very table into a snare and trap to them: especially so when men (as the Jews did) substitute ritual observances, which are but means to an end, for spiritual and hearty obedience in thought, word, and deed, which are the end desired (Jeremiah 6:20-21). After warnings, chastisements, and all means of grace have been tried in vain, what more remains to be done, but to consign the "reprobate" to destruction, as "silver" so full of dross as to be incapable of refinement by any process. Let us pray that we may not be rejected by the Lord as "reprobate silver," useless and worthless, but that we may be refined of all dross, and that the "trial of our faith, being much more precious than gold tried with fire, may be found unto praise, honour and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 6:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-6.html. 1871-8.

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Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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