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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Jeremiah 8

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah 8:1 At that time, saith the LORD, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves:

Ver. 1. At that time they shall bring out the bones.] They shall not suffer the dead to rest in their graves, maxime propter ornamenta in sepulchris condita, chiefly for the treasure the Chaldees shall there look for. See 2 Chronicles 36:19, Nehemiah 2:3; Joseph. Antiq., lib. xiii. c. 15. /Apc Bar 2:24. For extremity of despite also, dead men’s bones have been digged up. Pope Formosus was so dealt with by his successor, Stephanus VI, (a) and many of the holy martyrs by their barbarous persecutors. Cardinal Pool had a purpose to have taken up King Henry VIII’s body at Windsor, and to have burned it, but was prevented by death. (b) Charles V would not violate Luther’s grave, though he were solicited so to do when he had conquered Saxony. But if he had, it had been never the worse with Luther; who, being asked where he would rest, answered, Sub coelo: coelo tegitur qui caret urna. Under the sky: the sky is the covering for those who lose their funeral urn. Of all fowl, we most hate and detest the crows; and of all beasts the jackals, a kind of foxes in Barbary; because the one digs up the graves and devours the flesh, the other picketh out the eyes of the dead.


Verse 2

Jeremiah 8:2 And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.

Ver. 2. And they shall spread them before the sun.] Whom these idolaters had worshipped while they were alive, and thought they could never do enough for, as is hinted by those many expressions in the text.

Whom they have loved, and whom they have served, &c.] Innuitur poena talionis, saith Piscator. Their dead bodies shall lie unburied in the sight of these their deities, who could do them no good either alive or dead.


Verse 3

Jeremiah 8:3 And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the LORD of hosts.

Ver. 3. And death shall be chosen rather than life.] Vae victis. Alas O survivers, they being captives, and sorely oppressed, shall sing that doleful ditty,

O terque quaterque beati

Queis ante ora patrum, Solymae sub moenibus altis

Contigit oppetere. ”

Oh how happy were they that perished during the siege, or in the surprisal of the city! Life indeed is sweet, as we say; and man is a life loving creature, said that heathen; but it may happen that life shall be a burden and a bitterness. How oft doth Job unwish it, and how fain would Elijah have been rid of it! So little cause is there that any good man should be either fond of life, or afraid of death.


Verse 4

Jeremiah 8:4 Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not return?

Ver. 4. Shall they fall, and not arise?] Or, When men fall, will they not arise? Or, Will not one that hath turned aside return? To fall may befall any man; but shall he lie there, and not essay to get up again? To lose his way may be incident to the wisest; but who but a fool would not make haste to get into the right way again Errare humanum est: perseverare, diabolicum. To error is human, to continue erring is devilish. And yet these stubborn Jews refuse to rise or return.


Verse 5

Jeremiah 8:5 Why [then] is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.

Ver. 5. Why then is this people of Jerusalem? &c.] Why else but because they are void of all true reason, and quite beside themselves in point of salvation? Their pertinace, or rather pervicacy, in sinning is altogether insuperable. Monoceros interimi potest, capri non potest. The unicorn is able to be killed, the billy goat can not.

They hold fast deceit.] They hold close to their false prophets, or rather a false heart of their own hath deceived them. {as Jeremiah 8:11} A deceived heart hath turned them aside. {as Isaiah 44:20; see there}


Verse 6

Jeremiah 8:6 I hearkened and heard, [but] they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.

Ver. 6. I hearkened and heard.] Or, I have listened to hear; but could not yet hear them lisp out one syllable of savoury language.

No man repented of his wickedness.] No, nor so much as reflected, or turned short again upon himself to take a review of his former evil practices, which yet is the very first thing in repentance,. [2 Chronicles 6:37 Luke 15:17]

Saying, What have I done?] The Pythagoreans once a day put this question to themselves. And the orator (a) thus bespoke his adversary, Naevius, Si haec duo tecum verba reputasses, Quid ego? respirasset cupiditas et avaritia paululum; that is, hadst thou but said those two words to thyself, What do I? thy lust and covetousness would thereby have been cooled and qualified.

Every one turned to his course, as a horse rusheth.] Heb., Rusheth with as much violence as an overflowing flood, Hinc apparet fructus liberi arbitrii, saith Oecolampadius. See here the fruit of free will, and what man will do, being left to himself. Carnal affections are forcible and furious. Plato (b) himself saw and could say as much, when he compared concupiscence to a headstrong horse, that runneth away with his rider, and cannot be ruled.


Verse 7

Jeremiah 8:7 Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.

Ver. 7. Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times.] These souls, though wanting reason, know well when to change quarters, whether against summer, as the stork, turtle, and swallow, or against winter, as the crane.

But my people know not the judgment of the Lord.] Whether his summer of grace offered, or his winter of punishment threatened; to embrace the one or to prevent the other. See a like dissimilitude and opposition, Isaiah 1:3.


Verse 8

Jeremiah 8:8 How do ye say, We [are] wise, and the law of the LORD [is] with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he [it]; the pen of the scribes [is] in vain.

Ver. 8. How do ye say, We are wise?] If ye were so, ye would never say so. "Surely I am more brutish than any man," said holy Agur. [Proverbs 30:2] This only I know, that I know nothing, said Socrates. Neither know I so much as this, that I know just nothing, said a third. How could these in the text say, "We are wise," when the fowls of the air outwitted them? Compare Job 35:11.

The law of the Lord is with us.] Vox est Pharisaeorum. The voice is of the Pharisees. So the Jesuits to this day (as of old the Gnostics) will needs be held the only knowing men. The empire of learning belongeth to the Jesuits, say they; a Jesuit cannot be a heretic. Iungantur in unum, dies cum nocte, lux cum tenebris, (a) &c., May they join into one, day with night, light with darkness &c, i.e., Let day and night be jumbled together, light and darkness, heat and cold, health and sickness, life and death; so may there be some likelihood that a Jesuit may be a heretic, saith one of them. The Church is the soul of the world, the clergy of the Church, and we of the clergy, saith another.

Lo, certainly in vain made he it,] i.e., The law, for any good use that this people or their leaders put it to. See Hosea 8:12, Romans 2:17-25.


Verse 9

Jeremiah 8:9 The wise [men] are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD and what wisdom [is] in them?

Ver. 9. The wise men are ashamed.] They have cause to be ashamed of their gross ignorance and folly, [Jeremiah 8:7-8] and greater cause than ever humble Augustine had to say, Scientia mea me damnat, My knowledge undoeth me.

Lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord.] As to any holy practice, their knowledge is only apprehensive and notional, not affective and practical.

And what wisdom is in them?] q.d., None worth speaking of; they lose their civil praises, because not wise to salvation.


Verse 10

Jeremiah 8:10 Therefore will I give their wives unto others, [and] their fields to them that shall inherit [them]: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.

Ver. 10. Therefore will I give their wives.] For a punishment of their rejecting my Word, which ought to be received with all reverence and good affection. (a) The Turks do so highly respect the Koran (which is their Bible), that if a Christian do but sit upon it, though unwittingly, they presently put him to death.

For every one, &c.] See Jeremiah 6:13.


Verse 11

Jeremiah 8:11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when [there is] no peace.

Ver. 11. For they have healed.] See Jeremiah 6:14.


Verse 12

Jeremiah 8:12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

Ver. 12. Were they ashamed?] See Jeremiah 6:15.


Verse 13

Jeremiah 8:13 I will surely consume them, saith the LORD: [there shall be] no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and [the things that] I have given them shall pass away from them.

Ver. 13. I will surely consume them, saith the Lord.] Texitur hic quasi tragoediae scena. Constructed here just as a theatre tragedy. Here followeth a kind of tragedy, saith an expositor; God is brought in threatening, the prophet bewailing, the people despairing, and yet bethinking themselves of some shelter and safeguard, if they knew where to find it, &c.

There shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs.] But instead thereof I will "give them waters of gall to drink." [Jeremiah 8:14] Tremeliius and Piscator read it thus: There are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, yea, the leaves are fallen; that is, say they, there is no power of godliness found among them, no, not so much as any profession, neither fruit nor leaf.

And the things that I have given them shall pass away.] I will "curse their blessings," [Malachi 2:2] and destroy them after that I have done them good. [Joshua 24:2-13]


Verse 14

Jeremiah 8:14 Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD.

Ver. 14. Why do we sit still?] Here the people speak (see on Jeremiah 8:13), being grievously frightened upon the coming of the Chaldees, and thereupon consulting what course to take; but all would not do. [Jeremiah 8:16]

Let us be silent.] Sic silent pavidi mures coram fele. So they were as a panic struck mouse in the eyes of a cat.

For the Lord our God hath put us to silence.] Hath expelled our courage and stopped our mouths.

And hath given us water of gall to drink.] Succum cicutae, juice of hemlock, our bane, our death’s draught; so that now we know, by woeful experience, what an evil and bitter thing sin is; for a drop of honey we have now a sea of gall.


Verse 15

Jeremiah 8:15 We looked for peace, but no good [came; and] for a time of health, and behold trouble!

Ver. 15. We looked for peace, but no good came.] Our false prophets have merely deluded us. So poor souls, when stung by the friars’ sermons, were set to penances and good deeds, which stilled them for a while, but could not yield them any lasting comfort. The soul is still ready to shift and shark in every bycorner for ease; but that will not be till it comes to Christ.


Verse 16

Jeremiah 8:16 The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land, and all that is in it; the city, and those that dwell therein.

Ver. 16. The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan.] See Jeremiah 4:15. This caused in the Jews’ hearts a motion of trepidation. {cf. Job 39:20} It is the privilege of believers in nothing to be terrified by their adversaries, [Philippians 1:28] but with the horse spoken of, [Job 39:22] to mock at fear, and not to turn back from the dint of the sword.


Verse 17

Jeremiah 8:17 For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which [will] not [be] charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the LORD.

Ver. 17. Behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices,] i.e., Chaldees, no less virulent than serpents, as violent as horses. Serpentum tot sunt venena quot genera, tot pernicies quot species, tot dolores quot colores, saith an ancient. (a) Serpents are of several sorts, but all poisonous and pernicious. The basilisk or cockatrice here instanced (the worst sort of serpents, say the Septuagint here) goeth not upon the belly, as other serpents, but erect from the middle part, and doth so infect the air, that by the pestilent breath coming therefrom fruits are killed, and men being but looked upon by it, and birds flying over it; stones also are broken thereby, and all other serpents put to flight.

And they shall bite you.] There is an elegance in the original. (b)


Verse 18

Jeremiah 8:18 [When] I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart [is] faint in me.

Ver. 18. When I would comfort myself, &c.] Or, as some render it, O my comfort against sorrow, i.e., O my God; others, My recreation is joined with sorrow.


Verse 19

Jeremiah 8:19 Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: [Is] not the LORD in Zion? [is] not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, [and] with strange vanities?

Ver. 19. Behold, the voice of the cry.] This was it that broke the good prophet’s heart, the shrieks of his people.

Is not the Lord in Zion?] (a) Thus in their distress they leaned upon the Lord, {as Micah 3:11} and inquired after him, whom in their prosperity they made little reckoning of.

Why have they provoked me to anger?] q.d., The fault is merely in themselves, who have driven me out from among them by their idolatries.


Verse 20

Jeremiah 8:20 The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

Ver. 20. The harvest is past, the summer is ended.] They had set God a time, and looked for help that summer at farthest; but the Lord, as he never faileth in his own time, so he seldom comes at ours. Let us think we hear our poor brethren in Piedmont, Poland, Pomerania, complaining to us in this sort, and be excited to help them by our prayers and reliefs, &c.


Verse 21

Jeremiah 8:21 For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.

Ver. 21. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt, I am black.] Or, I go in black, mourner like; for I am denigrated and contemned for bewailing my people’s misery, who neither feel nor fear hurt.


Verse 22

Jeremiah 8:22 [Is there] no balm in Gilead; [is there] no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?

Ver. 22. Is there no balm in Gilead?] Yes, surely, there or nowhere; in Gilead grew a balsam, good to make salves for all sores, they say. This balsam grew there only in two large gardens, which belonged to the king. The nature of the tree could not abide iron, but presently died if cut never so small a depth; they used, therefore, glass, bone knives, sharp stones, to get the gum out of the tree.

Is there no physician there?] Or, No surgeon there, where this medicinal simple so aboundeth but this people’s sorrow is immedicable, their disease desperate - docta plus valet arte malum. The learned is more strong by the knowledge of evil. The balm of the soul is prayer, saith the Chaldee paraphrast; is repentance, saith Jerome; is Christ applied by faith, say we. Sanguis medici est curatio phrenetici. The blood of the doctor is the cure of the mad. To this almighty Physician no disease can be incurable.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 8:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-8.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, June 4th, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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