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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Jeremiah 5

 

 


Verse 1

Jeremiah 5:1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be [any] that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.

Ver. 1. Run to and fro.] Spatiamini, scrutamini. Go as many of you as ye please; the verbs are plural.

In the streets of Jerusalem.] Where it was strange there should be such a rarity of righteous ones. But "the faithful city was now become a harlot." [Isaiah 1:21] Like as Rome is at this day.

Tota est iam Roma lupanar.

“Now all Rome isa brothel.”

She had a Mancinel, a Savonarola, and some few other Jeremiahs, to tell her her own; but she soon took an order with them. The primitive Christians called heathens pagans; because country people, living in pagis - that is, in hamlets and villages - were heathenish for most part, after that cities were converted, and had many good people in them; but Jerusalem here afforded not any one hardly.

If you can find a man,] i.e., A godly, a zealous man. For homines permulti, viri perpauci, saith Herodotus: (a) there is a great paucity of good people. Diogenes is said to have sought for a good man in Athens with a lantern and candle at noonday. And once, when he had made an O yes in the market place, crying out, ‘ Aκουσατε ανδρες, Hear, O ye men; and thereupon company came about him to hear what the matter was, he rated them away again with this speech, Aνδρας εκαλεσα, ου καθαρματα, I called for men, and not for varlets. Job was a man, every inch of him. {See Trapp on "Job 1:1"} So was Moses, that "man of God"; Daniel, that "man of desires"; John Baptist, "than whom there arose not a greater among all that were born of woman"; Paul, that little man but who did great exploits; Athanasius and Luther who stood out against all the world, and prevailed. (b) But "not many" such; blessed be God that any such. Cicero observeth that scarce in an age was born a good poet. And Seneca saith, such as Clodius was, we have enough: but such as Cato are hard to be found. The host of Nola being bid to summon the good men of the town to appear before the Roman censor, got him to the churchyard, and there called at the graves of the dead: for he knew not where to call for a good man alive. (c) God himself sought for a man that might stand up in the gap, but met not with any such one. [Ezekiel 22:30]

And I will pardon it.] Sodom’s sins cried loud to God for vengeance; so did now Jerusalem’s. But had there been but a voice or two more of righteous and religious persons there, their prayers had outcried them. A few birds of song are shriller than many crocitating birds of prey.


Verse 2

Jeremiah 5:2 And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely.

Ver. 2. And though they say, The Lord liveth,] i.e., Albeit they talk religiously, as those pretenders also did, [Isaiah 66:5] and make a great flaunt, as if some great matter, with Simon Magus, [Acts 8:9] yet they are arrant hypocrites, and therefore odious to me who desire "truth in the inward parts." [Psalms 51:6] These neither "say the truth," nor "do" it. [1 John 3:10]


Verse 3

Jeremiah 5:3 O LORD, [are] not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, [but] they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

Ver. 3. O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth?] And can these painted hypocrites hope ever to please thee? how much are they mistaken?

Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved.] As being "past feeling," of a dead and dedolent disposition; like naughty boys, which are the worse for a whipping; or Solomon’s drunkard, who is beaten, but never the better. [Proverbs 23:35] There is no surer sign of a carnal Israelite, of a profligate professor, than to be senseless or incorrigible under public judgments.


Verse 4

Jeremiah 5:4 Therefore I said, Surely these [are] poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, [nor] the judgment of their God.

Ver. 4. Therefore I said,] i.e., I thought with myself.

Surely these,] scil., That swear falsely, and refuse to be reformed, &c.

Are poor.] Of the rascality, under law, base and beggarly, who neither know God’s will, nor hold themselves much bound to do it. Of the poorer sort in Swethland it is reported, that they do always break the Sabbath, saying that it is for gentlemen only to keep that day.


Verse 5

Jeremiah 5:5 I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, [and] the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, [and] burst the bonds.

Ver. 5. I will get me unto the great men.] Who have been better bred, and abound with leisure, and other helps to holy living.

But these have altogether broken the yoke.] Of God, of the law, and of discipline. These are lawless and awless, and think they may lay the reins in the neck, and run riot.


Verse 6

Jeremiah 5:6 Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, [and] a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, [and] their backslidings are increased.

Ver. 6. Therefore a lion of the forest shall slay them.] So Nebuchadnezzar is called for his cruelty, a wolf for his voracity, and a leopard for his slyness and swiftness. All the malignities of other creatures meet in the Church’s enemies.


Verse 7

Jeremiah 5:7 How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by [them that are] no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses.

Ver. 7. How shall I pardon thee for this?] How with the safety of mine honour and justice? Swearing then by creatures (us by our Lady, by St Anne, by this light, &c.), or by idols, (as by the mass, by the rood, &c.), or by qualities (as by faith, troth, &c.), is not so small a sin as many deem it, since God maketh here a great question how he can pardon it. For why? it is a forsaking of him, a giving away his honour to another, a disgrace done to a man’s self - since we always "swear by the greater," [Hebrews 6:16] and a means to procure his utter ruin, without God’s greater mercy. [Amos 6:14 Zephaniah 1:3-5] Men sport themselves with oaths, as the Philistines did with Samson, which will at last pull the house about their ears. [Zechariah 5:4]

When I fed them to the full, they then committed adultery.] Fulness in good men oft breeds forgetfulness, and in bad men, filthiness. Gula vestibulum luxuriae; gluttony is the gallery that incontinence walketh through. The Israelites ate and drank, and rose up to play - scil., with their Midianitish mistresses - to the provoking of God’s fierce wrath. Fulness of bread made way to Sodom’s sin. Lunatics, when the moon is declining and in the wane are sober enough; but when full, more wild and exorbitant. Ceres and Bacchus are great friends to Venus, &c. Watch therefore, and feed with fear.

And assembled themselves by troops.] Heb., They trooped themselves; such was their impudence.


Verse 8

Jeremiah 5:8 They were [as] fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife.

Ver. 8. They were as fed horses,] (a) As stallions and stone horses, that are ιππομανεις, mare mad, as the Septuagint have it.


Verse 9

Jeremiah 5:9 Shall I not visit for these [things]? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

Ver. 9. Shall I not visit for these things?] i.e., Shall I not take cognizance of them, and punish them surely and severely?


Verse 10

Jeremiah 5:10 Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they [are] not the LORD’S.

Ver. 10. Get ye up upon her battlements, and destroy.] Ascendite et exscindite; up and lay about you lustily. A commission granted out to the enemy, to execute divine vengeance; God can never want a weapon to beat his rebels with.

But make not a full end.] See Jeremiah 4:27.

For they are not the Lord’s.] He disowneth them, and giveth them primo occupaturo, to him that shall first seize them; as the Pope took upon him to do this kingdom of England, in the days of Henry VIII, whom he had excommunicated and deprived.


Verse 11

Jeremiah 5:11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD.

Ver. 11. For the house of Israel and the house of Judah.] Both Aholah and Aholibah are stark naught; I renounce them therefore, and shall take no further charge of them. And for what reason?


Verse 12

Jeremiah 5:12 They have belied the LORD, and said, [It is] not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine:

Ver. 12. They have belied the Lord.] Or, They give the Lord the lie - as Montfort, Earl of Leicester, gave his sovereign, Henry III, (a) the lie. Every unbeliever doth as much, upon the matter; [1 John 5:10] see the note there, Nam etiamsi non semper ore obloquitur, factis tamen obluctatur, (b)

And said, It is not he,] scil., That speaketh, but the prophets speak their own dreams and fancies. Or, as some render the text, He is not; there is no God to reward us if we do well, or to punish us if we do worse. See my Commonplace of Atheism.


Verse 13

Jeremiah 5:13 And the prophets shall become wind, and the word [is] not in them: thus shall it be done unto them.

Ver. 13. And the prophets shall become wind.] All their threats and bugbear terms (devised on purpose to frighten silly people, who are no wiser than to believe them) shall come to nothing; they are but bullatae nugae, bruta fulmina, (a) bubbles of words, brute lightbolts; both they and their menaces shall vanish together, they shall blow over.

Thus shall it be done unto them.] The evils that they foretell shall befall themselves, not us; et nos male mulctabimus ipsos, and we will see them soundly punished for false prophets. Poor Jeremiah was ill-handled among them many times, as we shall see in sundry chapters following. Hoc fuit οιδακτρον, &c.


Verse 14

Jeremiah 5:14 Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.

Ver. 14. Because ye speak this word.] Ungodly men shall one day answer, with all the world on fire about their ears, for all their hard and haughty speeches. [ 1:15] They shall find that neither their own words are wind, but such as they shall give a sad account of; nor the prophet’s words wind, unless it be to blow them into the bottomless lake, and to torment their consciences, haply in the meanwhile more than wind doth men’s bodies, when gotten once into the veins or bowels.

Behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire.] That is somewhat worse than wind. Oh fear this fire! vengeance is in readiness for the disobedient; [2 Corinthians 10:5] every whit as ready in God’s hand as in the minister’s mouth. See Zechariah 1:6. {See Trapp on "Zechariah 1:6"}


Verse 15

Jeremiah 5:15 Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it [is] a mighty nation, it [is] an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.

Ver. 15. It is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation.] As ancient as Nimrod, the first founder of that first of the four monarchies. [Genesis 10:8] Hence Babylon is called "the land of Nimrod," [Micah 5:6] whom the poets call Saturn, and his son and successor, Jupiter, Belus.

A nation whose language thou knowest not.] For the Babylonians spake Syriac, [Daniel 2:4] as did also the Jews afterwards - viz., after the captivity in Babylon, where they learned of it, and lost their own language.


Verse 16

Jeremiah 5:16 Their quiver [is] as an open sepulchre, they [are] all mighty men.

Ver. 16. Their quiver is an open sepulchre.] As holding arrows that wound deadly, and that shall despatch many, being drenched in their gall.


Verse 17

Jeremiah 5:17 And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, [which] thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.

Ver. 17. And they shall eat up thy harvest.] Partita gladio, partita gala. Consider the calamity of war, and take course to prevent it.


Verse 18

Jeremiah 5:18 Nevertheless in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you.

Ver. 18. I will not make a full end with thee.] In the midst of judgment, God remembereth mercy. See Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 5:10. Howbeit, from this text some gather, that now in this last captivity of theirs, God hath made a full end with the Jews, and that "wrath is come upon them to the utmost," or to the end εις τελος, as the Greek hath it. [1 Thessalonians 2:16]


Verse 19

Jeremiah 5:19 And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all these [things] unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land [that is] not yours.

Ver. 19. Wherefore doeth the Lord our God all these things unto us?] Why? Could not they yet tell? And had they not been oft enough (if anything were enough) told wherefore? But they were never willing to hear on that ear. Some of our hearers turn the deaf ear, and say, What tell you us of these terrible things, &c. Many sit before us as senseless as the seats they sit on, the pillars they lean to, the dead bodies they tread upon.

So shall ye serve strangers.] God loves to retaliate.


Verse 20

Jeremiah 5:20 Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying,

Ver. 20. Declare this in the house of Jacob, &c.] Cease not to ring it in their ears, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear; for it is a rebellious people, and of the number of those who wink willingly, that they may not see when some unsavoury potion is ministered to them, (a) as Justin Martyr expresseth it.


Verse 21

Jeremiah 5:21 Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:

Ver. 21. Hear now this, O foolish people.] They were strangely stupefied, and were therefore thus rippled up. Those that are in a lethargy must have a double quantity of physic to what others have.

And without understanding.] Heb., Without a heart. Cor sapit et pulmo loguitur, &c: The heart is the symbol and seat of wisdom. See Hosea 7:11. {See Trapp on "Hosea 7:11"}

Which have eyes, and see not, &c.] See Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 42:20. Which have not senses habitually exercised to discern good and evil. [Hebrews 5:14]


Verse 22

Jeremiah 5:22 Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand [for] the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?

Ver. 22. Fear ye not me? saith the Lord.] What! not me, whom the sea itself, that tumultuous and unruly creature, feareth and obeyeth? See Psalms 65:7; Psalms 93:4.

Who have placed the sand for a bound to the sea.] A weak bound for so furious an element. Vis maris infirmissimo sabuli pulvere cohibetur. But so I will have it; and then who or what can gainstand it? Now, who can but be moved at such miracles? Know you not that I can soon make your arable, satiable? and that I can shake the earth as oft as there is a tempest in the ocean, since the earth is founded not upon solid rocks but fluid waters? See 2 Peter 3:5.

By a perpetual decree.] Heb., By an ordinance of antiquity or of perpetuity, clapping it up close prisoner.


Verse 23

Jeremiah 5:23 But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.

Ver. 23. But this people have a revolting and rebellious heart.] (a) Cor recedens et amaricans; gone they are, and return they will not. Apostates are dangerous creatures, and mischievous above others; witness Julian, once a forward professor; Lucian, once a preacher at Antioch; Staphylus and Latomus, once great Lutherans, afterwards eager Popelings. Harding was the target of Popery in England, saith Peter Moulin, against which he had once been a thundering preacher in this land, wishing he could cry out against it as loud as the bells of Oseney. The Lady Jane Grey, whose chaplain he had sometimes been, gave him excellent counsel in a letter; but he was revolted and gone past call. (b)


Verse 24

Jeremiah 5:24 Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

Ver. 24. Neither say they in their hearts.] God understands heart language, and expects a tribute there.

Let us now fear the Lord.] Fear him for his goodness, as well as for his greatness. [Jeremiah 5:22] See Hosea 3:5. {See Trapp on "Hosea 3:5"}

That giveth rain.] Which God decreeth, [Job 28:26] prepareth, [Psalms 147:8] withholdeth; [Amos 4:7] bestoweth [Deuteronomy 28:12 Matthew 5:41] for a witness [Acts 14:17] of his general goodness [Matthew 5:45] and special providence, as a good householder. [Acts 14:17]

He reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of harvest.] Which, if he should deny us but one year only, how easily might he starve us all! See his love, and fear his name.


Verse 25

Jeremiah 5:25 Your iniquities have turned away these [things], and your sins have withholden good [things] from you.

Ver. 25. Your iniquities have turned.] See on Isaiah 59:2; Isaiah 1:2.


Verse 26

Jeremiah 5:26 For among my people are found wicked [men]: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.

Ver. 26. For among my people are found wicked men.] This was as bad as to find a nettle in a garden, unchastity in a virgin, or the devil in paradise. All the Lord’s people are or ought to be holy.

They lie in wait.] Or, Watch; or, Prey. See on Micah 7:2.

They set a trap, they catch men.] To spoil them or slay them. Such a one was Otto, the Pope’s Muscipulator (as the story styleth him), i.e., micecatcher, sent hither by Gregory IX to rake and take away our money. Tetzelius, sent by Leo X into Germany, was another.


Verse 27

Jeremiah 5:27 As a cage is full of birds, so [are] their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.

Ver. 27. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit,] i.e., Of ill-gotten goods, which will prove no such catch in the close, as they count upon.


Verse 28

Jeremiah 5:28 They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.

Ver. 28. They are waxen fat, they shine.] Pingues, nitidi sunt; cutem curant ut Epicuri de grege porci; fat they are, and fair-liking, slick, and smooth.

Yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked.] They outsin others. Or, as some sense it, they escape better than others. [Psalms 73:5]


Verse 29

Jeremiah 5:29 Shall I not visit for these [things]? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

Ver. 29. Shall I not visit?] See Jeremiah 5:9.


Verse 30

Jeremiah 5:30 A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;

Ver. 30. A wonderful and horrible thing.] Res stupenda et horrenda; an abhorred filth, such as may well draw from us a Heu, heu, Domine Deus

Is committed in the land.] Heb., In this land, where men are therefore the worse, because they should be better.


Verse 31

Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love [to have it] so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

Ver. 31. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule.] The chief priests bearing rule in the causes and consciences of the people, had suborned their abettor’s ambitious prophets, who applauded their greatness for preferment, teaching the people to doat on the titles of Moses’ chair, high priests, the temple of the Lord, &c., as if there were not many a goodly box in the apothecary’s shop without one drachm of any drug therein. Such false prophets were those Pharisees, factors for the priests with their corban; [Matthew 15:5] and such also for the Pope are the Jesuits and seculars, which differ only as hot and cold poison, both destructive to the state.

What will ye do?] Alas! what will become of you at last? (a)

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 5:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-5.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 25th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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