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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Jeremiah 7

 

 

Verses 1-34

Jeremiah 7:2. Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and call the people to repentance by arguments arrayed in all the glory and force of truth. This was the chief gate of entrance. The temple had three gates on the north, and three on the south. The character of these addresses, Dr. Dahler thinks, associate with the degenerate times of Jehoiakim.

Jeremiah 7:4. Trust ye not in lying words, muttered daily by the false prophets, saying, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these. Not these courts in which ye worship, but the temple of the Lord, השׂהhaittah, vos estis, are you; as the Syriac version reads. “For the Lord chose the temple, not for its own sake, but for his people’s sake.” 2 Maccabees 5:19. Which temple, says Paul, are ye. “The Most High,” said Stephen, “dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” Acts 7:48. Isaiah 66:1. The prophet does not reprove the people for a just veneration for the dwellingplace of Jehovah, but for approaching his courts in their sins. Where else indeed could they go in the day of trouble? Moses hasted to the oracle when Korah rebelled. Hezekiah spread the letter of Sennacherib before the Lord; and Daniel opened his window which looked towards Jerusalem.

The Targum has a long but an irrelevant note here, that the word temple is thrice repeated, because the people were required to appear three times every year before the Lord. Deuteronomy 16. On the contrary, it is thought that this superlative of the Hebrew grammarians is used here, as in Isaiah 6:3, to designate the unutterable holiness of God.

Jeremiah 7:14. Therefore will I do to this house, in which ye trust, as I have done to Shiloh, polluted by the sacrilege and adulteries of Eli’s sons. The ruins of Shiloh, which the Philistines or some others destroyed, as those also of Samaria, show the sentence suspended over this temple for greater pollutions than Shiloh ever knew. 1 Samuel 2, 3, 4. Ezekiel repeats the same denunciation against this temple, once the beauty and glory of Israel: Ezekiel 7:20-22.

Jeremiah 7:16. Pray not for this people. Such also was the injunction on Ezekiel, with regard to particular visitations: chap. 14. Et non obsistas mihi. Do not throw thyself in the gap as Moses did, when God said, “Let me alone.” Exodus 32. He sometimes speaks roughly to sinners, as to Nineveh. What else will do? But wherever the fainter signs of repentance appear, his arm is weak, his feet are slow. Jeremiah knew this. We therefore find him crying, Jeremiah 14:7, Oh the Hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of trouble; why shouldst thou be as a stranger in the land? Yet here again we find his prayer was rejected: Jeremiah 14:8-12.

Jeremiah 7:18. The women—make cakes to the queen of heaven. It appears from Jeremiah 19:13, that they had domestic altars on the roofs of their houses, like the high altar in the valley of Tophet. The word melecheth, queen, means the moon. The Chaldaic reads, stars; and the LXX, hosts. This is Sabianism, a worship wide as the oriental world. Herodotus says, in Polymnia, that “when Xerxes sailed to subjugate Europe, he awaited the rising of the sun, and poured from the bridge sweet odours, and strewed the road with branches of myrtle. When it was open day, he poured libations into the sea with a golden phial, and prayed the sun to remove whatever impediments might obstruct his subjugation of all Europe.”— From the loss of his army, and the narrow escape he had over the bridge he had built across the Danube, it does not appear that the sun paid any regard to his vows. He had no sooner recrossed than he perceived, on the opposite shore, a Gothic army in full route to destroy the bridge. A book was published at Paris in 1794, collected from travels in Louisiana, which names temples, altars, and fires as existing among those Indians; and adds, that at certain seasons they went up to the top of a hill and smoked their calumets to the rising sun. See on Job 1:15.

Jeremiah 7:21. I spake not to your fathers—concerning sacrifices. The spirit of the law being comprised in such words as these, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God—to obey is better than sacrifice.”

Jeremiah 7:29. Cut off thy hair, oh Jerusalem. Velle comam tuam, tear off, pluck or cut thy whole fleece of beautiful hair. Weep, for thy wounds shall never be healed. Baal’s altar smokes in the temple, therefore the polluted temple where I put my name, shall be reduced to ashes 2 Kings 21:4; 2 Kings 21:7; 2 Kings 23:4.

Jeremiah 7:31. They have built the high places of Tophet—in the valley of the son of Hinnom. They have followed the example of the Canaanites, who burnt their children there. Psalms 106:38. See also on Isaiah 30:33. If this prophecy were delivered during the reign of Jehoiakim, they must have rebuilt the high places to Moloch, for he had destroyed them.

REFLECTIONS.

What a scene is here presented to the mind! The weeping prophet preaching at the gate of the temple, while the altar within, surrounded with hypocrites, was smoking with victims to the Lord, and while the altar of Tophet without was smoking with human victims to demons! What sort of words may we expect to hear. What sort of sentences must the seer denounce. Truly such as follow in this and the two succeeding chapters.

The sins which brought the hovering cloud of destruction on Judah are principally three. First, a false confidence in the temple of the Lord, which term is thrice repeated to mark the glory of the place, and the confidence the people had in its safety. They presumed that the Lord would defend this mansion against the Chaldees, notwithstanding their wickedness, because he had defended it by a most signal miracle against the Assyrians. They were forgetful that when the heart is estranged from him, neither temple, nor splendour, nor altar can attract his regards.

The second sin was injustice and oppression, a sin often reproved by the prophets. They oppressed the widow, the orphan, and the stranger; and therefore God delivered them to be oppressed by the heathen.

The third sin is idolatry, in every horrid form; and so much so, that a very large proportion of the families in Jerusalem had made their children pass through the fire to Moloch. The Lord therefore would purge the blood of the infants by the blood of the people.

We may farther remark, that the first of those three sins was the most provoking to God, because it is repeated, Will ye steal, and murder; and then come and stand before me in this house, and say we are delivered to do all these abominations? Mark well; there are no sins so heinous in the sight of God as those which pervert religion, and defile his name.

It is the first duty of the ministry to take away the false confidence of sinners, and to undeceive them with regard to their presumptuous hopes. Eli’s house trusted in the ark, while they wallowed in wickedness; and the Lord made Shiloh desolate for ever. So God was about to make Jerusalem desolate, and an astonishment to the nations. Yea, he would do to Judah by the king of Babylon, as he had done to Ephraim by the king of Assyria. The sinners in the sanctuary, throughout all ages, must expect the same treatment, for with God there is no respect of persons. Neither ark, nor temple, nor creed can save the men who do not hold the mystery of faith in a pure conscience, and in righteousness of life.

God abhors the devotion of impious men. If they did not adore him with the heart, he would not receive their gifts. The love of God and of their neighbour, was the sum and substance of the moral code: therefore he never would suffer the devotion of the altar to substitute the devotion of the heart. All men are required to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.

As Judah rejected the tears of true repentance, which would have saved them from captivity, the prophet directs them to weep for despair, that if possible a desperate remedy might save in a desperate case. Cut off thine hair, oh Jerusalem; because he would change the name of the valley Gehinnom, (called in the new testament Gehenna, or hell-fire) into the valley of slaughter. Yes, the deluded parents and the applauding public should fall in the very spot where they had burnt the infants in the arms or in the belly of Tophet, that desolation might follow wickedness, and that heaven and earth might attest the judgments of the Lord.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 7:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/jeremiah-7.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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