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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Jeremiah 10

 

 

Verses 1-25

Jeremiah 10:2. Be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; at the position of revolving planets on which the augurs found predictions, and discover their ignorance. Be not dismayed at solar eclipses, at the aurora borealis, which cheers the northern regions with light during their long and dreary winters. Job 37:22. At the luminous appearances of some of the comets. The Saxon chronicle records, that “in the year of Christ, 678, a comet appeared, which shone every morning like a sunbeam.” Fear may often produce good effects on the less instructed public, as the total eclipse of the sun which happened during the great battle between the Assyrians and the Medes, which probably saved the effusion of blood by stopping the fight.

Jeremiah 10:4. They deck it with silver and gold, and fasten it with nails. Hebrews מסמרות mesemeroth, nails of ornament, or splendid nails. Satire, as well in Horace, as in Isaiah and Jeremiah, seems the most successful armour against idolatry. See on Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 44:9.

Jeremiah 10:9. Tarshish is the same with Carthage. The LXX render this differently. See Isaiah 23:6. Uphas or Ophir, was Africa without a doubt. Bochart has led the critics astray by affirming it to be a place near Ceylon. See 1 Kings 9:28.

Jeremiah 10:10. The Lord [Hebrews JEHOVAH] is the true God. Though satire, as above, be powerful in covering idols with shame, it is a fact, that the demonstrations of the being and perfections of the Deity, drawn from the creation, fix in man the best ideas of the Godhead. Justin Martyr argues thus, in his apology for the christian religion; that though the heathens exclaimed continually, ‘the gods—and may the gods;’ yet when any catastrophe befel mankind, their exclamations were, “Oh the great God— oh the true God—or, oh the good God!” The invisible things of him are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. Romans 1:20. The diffusion of divine knowledge will chase idolatry from the earth.

Jeremiah 10:11. Thus shall ye say—the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth—shall perish. This verse is written in the Chaldee language, that the Jews, when tempted by the Babylonians to idolatry, might have an answer in their own tongue. So St. Paul uses the word anathema maranatha, that the christians might answer the Jews in the Syriac, who loved not the Lord Jesus. It is acknowledged by all the Versions and MSS.

Jeremiah 10:13. When he uttereth his voice, by loud peals of thunder, the trembling earth, the affrighted hinds, and the haughty heart bow beneath his terrors. Psalms 29. Job 37:4-5.

Jeremiah 10:16. The portion of Jacob is not like them. Oh my soul, thou hast said to the Lord, thou art my portion. On the other hand, the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. The heathens placed their cities and countries under the care of imaginary gods; it was the same with their temples. But Israel rested under the shadow of Jehovah’s wings. Ruth 2:12. Psalms 62:7.

Jeremiah 10:21. The pastors are become brutish. Their princes, as in the Chaldaic. The whole head was sick, and the whole heart faint.

Jeremiah 10:22. The noise of the bruit is come. Our translators have here used the French word bruit, which signifies noise, rumour, report. Every messenger brought a confirmation of the report, that the Chaldeans had entered the land.

REFLECTIONS.

Jeremiah, unable to save his country from captivity, endeavoured to preserve them in captivity; for if they were intermarried and corrupted with the heathen, as the ten tribes were, they could never be restored. He charges them, in the name of the Lord, not to believe in judicial astrology, not to practise gentile superstition, nor be dismayed at their omens. It is difficult to say, whether the Chaldees or the Egyptians were the first inventors of occult sciences; but all other nations had the calamity to derive it from them. These sciences had their origin in the ignorance and crimes of early society. Man, having involved himself in some atrocious guilt, looked every way to throw off the enormous load, and once more to taste the charms of a quiet conscience. Finding, after a thousand struggles, no associates on earth to share in his guilt, except his own impetuous passions, his revolting heart wished to palm all his errors on the Father of purity and love. To do this avowedly, was a thought too impious for the worst of ages, and the darkest of times: he therefore felt relieved and comforted by the strange notion, that all the moral actions of men, the vicissitudes of their lives, and the times of their death were fixed by an eternal fate. The book containing the laws of this fate he fancied to be the starry heavens; and to decypher their bearings he invented his horoscope, and attempted an infinitude of prognostications extremely insulting to common sense, and the moral feelings of the heart. Thus he perverted astronomy, the first of sciences, to the grossness of superstition, and made it the parent of guilt. Thus error in opinion was occasioned by depravity. The orbs of heaven are set for signs and for seasons, to govern the days and the years; to announce the glory and perfections of God, and to aid the intelligent universe in devotion. They revolve in their orbits, they attain an opposition, and ascend into a conjunction according to fixed laws, subject to human calculations: their influence is always benign and gracious. But read now our weekly papers, and see a daily catalogue of calamities happening to man. Read our sacred and profane historians concerning the rise, the revolutions, and the fall of empires, and say whether any fair connection can be traced between them, and the influence of the planetary world. Hence it may be concluded, that judicial astrology is an insult to reason, an opiate of grief and guilt. All anguish is soothed by the adage, It was to be so: it was fixed by the laws of an eternal fate. And when a christian carelessly suffers his mind to believe it, he offers violence to the sacred writings, which everywhere represent God as governing the world by his own presence, by his holy angels, and by a providence which numbers the hairs of our head.

Jeremiah, to save his people from idolatry, satirizes the vanity of idols: but while doing this, the insulting contrast between idols and his God fired his soul to cry out, Oh Lord, thou art great. Who would not fear thee, thou king of nations? He then resumes his favourite theme, lamentations for the ruin of his country: his soul was wounded in the wounds of his people. He heard the bruit from afar, and saw his city become the habitation of dragons or reptiles.

During the dark and evil day, he consoled himself in the protection of providence. Oh Lord,— it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. His goings are of the Lord. In a moral view he may act a wise part, and rule his affairs with discretion. But there often occurs a crisis of calamities to men, and to nations, in which we must be borne away with the torrent, and leave the helm in the hands of God. So it was with Joseph in Egypt, with Job in his afflictions, with David in exile, and with the Hebrew nation in their long captivity. Our faith must rest on the promise, till we can say the Lord hath done excellent things.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 10:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/jeremiah-10.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, September 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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