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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Jeremiah 5

 

 

Verses 1-31

Jeremiah 5:2. Though they say the Lord liveth, surely they swear falsely. These words being in every one’s mouth, are but words, not sentiments. If men knew the grandeur of God, and studied his perfections, they could not trifle in his presence. Verbal confessions, the emanations of an infidel heart, are but aggravations of impiety.

Jeremiah 5:4. Therefore I said, surely these are poor; they are foolish—I will address myself to the great and the learned. Here the prophet found the same ignorance of God, in his covenant and in his providence. They looked solely at the things of the present life, and turned away their eyes from the dark cloud of a future world.

Jeremiah 5:7. In the harlots’ houses. Hebrews Harlot’s house. The groves and places consecrated to idolatry.

Jeremiah 5:8. They were as fed horses in the morning. The word mashkim here rendered, in the morning, has stopped the critics. The sense is, that they were as stallions in a morning when let out of the stables.

Jeremiah 5:10. Go ye up, and scale her walls, said God to the Chaldeans; for they could not ascend there without a commission first signed in heaven.—Take away her battlements. The LXX, Leave the foundations, meaning the temple, because they are the Lord’s. Severe was the stroke; but a father leaves hope for his children.

Jeremiah 5:15. Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far. This mighty, this ancient nation, whose language the Jews could not understand, is generally understood of the Chaldees. It is said however, Jeremiah 5:10; Jeremiah 5:18, that God would not make a full end. Hence, as he spared a remnant by the Chaldees, and a remnant by the Romans, the query is whether Jeremiah was not led, as is often the case with Isaiah, to glance at future times, the Assyrian language being then the travelling language of Asia. Hezekiah’s servants told Rabshakeh that they understood it. Jonah, as appears from his mission to Nineveh, was able to preach it; and it was the court language of Babylon, for the magicians and Nebuchadnezzar conversed in Syriac concerning his dream. Daniel 2:4. Hence, there is a high degree of probability that Jeremiah, as well as Moses, Deuteronomy 28:49, had a remote view to the Romans, whose language is very dissimilar to the Hebrew.

Jeremiah 5:30-31. A wonderful and horrible thing— The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means. The LXX, “The priests clap their hands.”

REFLECTIONS.

In age and the decline of life constitutional diseases often make their appearance in characters so strong as to baffle all the healing art. So it proved in the present case. Jerusalem was approaching that crisis of crime which turns the balances of heaven to the side of vengeance. There was no man either on the bench, or at the altar, who stood up for equity in justice, or for purity in devotion. They would cover the foulest falsehoods by an oath of the living God. Consequently, though the temple gates were yet open, and though the altar yet smoked, devotion was but a civil homage and an accustomed respect for the Lord.

Ignorance was the character of the age. The poor were foolish; they were impetuously drawn away by every vice, and no impression was made upon them by the tender ministry of Jeremiah. On addressing the rich and the great, who by education knew the law, he found that they scorned the yoke, and wantoned in intrigue, in sabbath-breaking, and drunkenness. But mark now, the judgments denounced against them. As they laid snares for unprotected innocence, and sought to corrupt their neighbours’ wives, so God would lay snares for them. The prophet anticipating the calamity says, the lion is gone up from the thicket to make havoc of the flock; the swift and cruel leopard is couched to catch them by day, and the rapacious wolf shall enter by night in every northern avenue of the land. How well it would be for every sinner, before he launches into a course of crimes, to consider, and fully to consider, how he is to escape. Punishment may come in a thousand forms. Some arrow of the Lord may wound him, and against which he has no buckler. As thieves with all their dexterity do not always secure secresy and escape, and are made ashamed when taken, so it may be with a profligate age.

The complete character of Judah’s crimes was a disregard of the sacred ministry. The priests and people preferred the false prophets; and though loaded with crimes, they were infatuated to a confidence that the sword should never come. Hence we must regard a spirit of slumber on the brink of ruin as the last mark of heaven’s displeasure against a devoted nation; and we must regard oriental conquests as a sort of harvests which reaped the earth.

Before God destroys a degenerate people, he takes counsel, and often draws a striking line of connection between their peculiar crimes, and their peculiar punishments. Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? Yes, I will be avenged. As they have chosen to serve strange gods, so the remnant who escape the sword shall serve strangers, and in a strange land. Divine justice being still the same, let all ages be instructed by the errors and ruin of Israel and of Judah. God will intoxicate the drunkards, and rule oppressors with a rod.

As the wicked go on, blind to the future, and love to be flattered in their sins, the prophet forces the idea of the future upon them, by asking what will ye do in the end thereof? The wicked in their criminal courses generally fail to do this, and go on till overtaken by the hand of justice. Yea, degenerate nations go on till political destruction comes by the sword.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 5:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/jeremiah-5.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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