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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Jeremiah 1

 

 

Verses 1-19

1. THE INTRODUCTION

Jeremiah 1

1. The Superscription

Jeremiah 1:1-3 [FN1]

1The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, [one] of the priests that were [LXX, 2dwelt] in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, To whom the word of the Lord [Jehovah] came [was communicated][FN2] in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, 3king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Jeremiah 1:1. The words of Jeremiah … Benjamin. We find a similar commencement in the prophetical book of Amos ( Jeremiah 1:1) and in the Song of Solomon ( Jeremiah 1:1). Etymologically דִּבְרֵי יּ׳‎ might certainly be rendered historia Jeremiæ (De Wette), compare יֶתֶר דִּדִבְרֵי so frequent in the book of Kings ( 1 Kings 11:41; 1 Kings 14:19; 1 Kings 14:29, etc.). Since, however, this book is not historic, but prophetic, since the prophet’s work consisted essentially in preaching, since the other prophetic books bear inscriptions denoting discourses (מַשָׂא,דִּבַר י׳) or visions (הֲזון), and since finally the historical narratives contained in the book are also the words of Jeremiah (so Starke, ad h. l.), it is more correct to take דִּבְרֵי in the sense of “words,” which it certainly has in Song of Solomon 1:1. Concerning the name, origin and birthplace of the prophet, see the Introduction. Besides Jeremiah (and Nathan, 1 Kings 4:5, VideTholuck, Die Proph. und ihre Weiss. S. 20, u. 32), the prophet Ezekiel ( Jeremiah 1:3; comp. Jos. Ant. X:5, 1), and most probably Zechariah ( Jeremiah 1:1 comp. Köhler, Socharja, S. 9), were of sacerdotal origin. No special traces of his priestly descent are found in the book of our prophet, unless we reckon as such his accurate knowledge of the Law, especially Deuteronomy, of which the exposition will furnish proofs in great number.

Jeremiah 1:2-3. To whom. … in the fifth month. The subject of came in Jeremiah 1:3 is word of Jehovah, repeated from Jeremiah 1:2. Chr. B. Michaelis falsely renders in the Hallesche Bibel: idemque etiam fuit propheta. As regards the chronological statements in Jeremiah 1:2-3, it should first be noticed that the two kings Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim are passed over, without doubt because each of them reigned only three months. Since Jeremiah labored from the thirteenth year of Josiah, consequently eighteen years under Josiah, and eleven years each under Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, he ministered altogether, including the six months under the two kings omitted, forty years in the midst of the theocracy. How long afterwards he labored, cannot be ascertained with any certainty. Comp. Introduction and remarks on Jeremiah 44:29. Since the book, as we have it, contains not only those words of Jehovah which were communicated to the prophet before the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, but others of later date ( Jeremiah 40-44), this inscription does not comport with its present extent. According to Jeremiah 36:32, in place of the writing destroyed by Zedekiah, Jeremiah prepared another, which was twice as large as the first. When he completed the second roll, we are not told. After the destruction of Jerusalem in the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, Jeremiah remained more than two months longer in the country (comp. Jeremiah 41:1; Jeremiah 42:7). During this time, or perhaps after his arrival in Egypt (comp. rems. on Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 2:36), he may have continued his writing till the time mentioned, and provided it with the present inscription, Jeremiah 1:1-3. Comp. Ewald, Die Propheten des A. B.II. S. 15. We have the contents of this writing in our present book, though not in the same order. On this point see the Introduction.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Origen, in his first homily on Jeremiah, regards the chronological statements of the inscription as a proof of the long-suffering of God. He says, § 3, “God had pronounced judgment against Jerusalem for its sins, and it was condemned to captivity. But as the time approaches, the compassionate God sends this prophet under the third king before the captivity. For the long-suffering God wished to grant them a respite, and Jeremiah was to prophesy, so to speak, the day before the captivity, as a preacher of repentance, in order that the cause of the captivity might be removed.” [“Dr. Lightfoot observes that as Moses was so long with the people as a teacher in the wilderness, till they entered into their own land, Jeremiah was so long to their own land a teacher before they went into the wilderness of the heathen.” M. Henry.—S. R. A.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - The text of the common English Version will be retained in the prose portions of the book, with occasional corrections, included in brackets; but a new rendering of the poetical portions will be given, founded on a comparison of the German and English Versions with the Hebrew.—S. R. A.]

FN#2 - Jeremiah 1:2.—[Henderson: was communicated.]

2. THE CALL OF THE PROPHET BY WORD AND VISION ( Jeremiah 1:4-19)

a. His choice, call and aggressive destination

Jeremiah 1:4-10

4, 5Then the word of the Lord [Jehovah] came unto me,[FN3] saying, Before I formed thee in the belly[FN4] I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified [separated] thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations 6 Then said I [But I said], Ah,[FN5] Lord God! [Jehovah] behold, I cannot speak: for 7 I am a child. But the Lord [Jehovah] said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to[FN6] all that [wherever] I shall send thee, and whatsoever 1 command8thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver 9 thee, saith the Lord [Jehovah]. Then the Lord [Jehovah] put forth his hand 10 and touched my mouth. And the Lord [Jehovah] said unto me, Behold, I have put my words into thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down [extirpate and exterminate] and to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Jeremiah 1:5. Before I formed thee. …to the nations. Observe the progress of thought in the three clauses of this verse—1. Before I formed thee, I knew thee: the Divine idea in eternity lies back of the creative act in time. Comp. Psalm 139:15. 2. Before thou camest forth from the womb, I sanctified thee: the instrument prepared in accordance with the Divine idea is set apart for the sacred service. Comp. Isaiah 45:4; Isaiah 49:1; Acts 9:15; Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:15; Luke 1:15. 3. I ordained thee a prophet to the nations: it is expressly stated in what this sacred service consists: Jeremiah is to proclaim the word of the Lord as a prophet, not to one nation only, but to the nations generally.

Jeremiah 1:6. Then said I …… I am a child. Jeremiah perceives directly the difficulty and danger of this Divine commission. He therefore pleads his inability to speak on account of his youth. By a similar plea Moses seeks to escape the Divine legation, Exodus 3:11; Exodus 4:10; Exodus 4:13; but Jonah flees from before the Lord, Jeremiah 1:3—Many expositors suppose that Jeremiah was then twenty years of age, but no definite age is designated by נַעַר. The Rabbins understand by the term a boy to his fourteenth year. See Buxtorf, Lex. Chald. Talm. sub voce. Maurer. more correctly concludes from the long continuance of the prophet’s ministry ( Jeremiah 1:2-3, coll. Jeremiah 40:1; Jeremiah 43:8), that he could not then have passed his twenty-fifth year.

Jeremiah 1:7. But Jehovah said unto me, say not… thou shalt speak. Jehovah rebuts the objection of Jeremiah at the outset, not by the promise of His assistance, but by a categorical declaration of His will. He is to go where he is sent, and speak what he is commanded. כֹּל in itself might be taken in a personal sense (προςπάντας, LXX). But since the following אֵת כֹּל is certainly to be regarded as neuter, and as the neutral signification, being the more general, includes the other, the former is to be preferred=wherever. We should also expect עֲלֵיהֶם after the verb, and from its absence conclude that אֲשֶׁר is intended for an adverb of place=whither ( Zechariah 6:10).

Jeremiah 1:8. Be not afraid … saith Jehovah. Their faces refers to the persons indicated implicite in the word wherever, Jeremiah 1:7. Here first the Lord removes Jeremiah’s scruples by the promise of His protection and assistance. So with Moses, Exodus 3:12; Exodus 4:15; comp. Ezekiel 2:6; Joshua 1:5; Joshua 7:9; Judges 6:16; Matthew 10:18-20; Matthew 28:20; Luke 21:17; Acts 18:9-10.

Jeremiah 1:9. Then Jehovah put forth his hand. …into thy mouth. The opposition of the prophet is now broken down. The Lord was too strong for him. Comp. Jeremiah 20:7; 1 Corinthians 9:10.—So the Lord now proceeds to the solemn act of inauguration. In this we distinguish two points: (a) the communication of the necessary ability, Jeremiah 1:9; (b) the conferring of the commission and privileges of the office. Both indicate a vigorous offensive attitude of the prophet, which corresponds to an equally strong defensive position, Jeremiah 1:18-19. The first consists in the symbolical act of touching the lips. We call this act symbolical in so far as the touching of the lips and the words spoken were the visible and audible manifestation of a still deeper spiritual transaction. The Lord cannot literally have put His words in the prophet’s mouth: He can only have given him the charism of which the words were the necessary result, “Attactus oris signum est notans efficaciam spiritus sancti, quippe qui digitus Dei sit, aperiens labia ministrorum verbi, Psalm 51:13-14; Psalm 51:17; Luke 21:15” (Förster). The transaction Isaiah, however, to be regarded as an historical objective fact, though occurring outside the sphere of physical or bodily life, and therefore as ἐν πνεύματι, or a vision. Comp. Drechsler on Isaiah 6:7. We thus avoid a double error. First, that which apprehends the transaction as purely subjective: “as the moment when the presentiment first flashed clearly through the soul of Jeremiah, that his prophetic calling was of Divine appointment” (Ewald, Die Proph. des A. B. II. S. 26). Secondly, that according to which the transaction took place in the sphere of physical or corporeal existence. So Starke, who, actually says that the “Son of God, in pre-intimation of His blessed incarnation, appeared to Jeremiah in a human form.”—This touching of the lips occurs several times, but always with a different meaning. In Isaiah 6:6 it is for the purpose of expiation, in Daniel 10:16 for the purpose of strengthening. Here in Jeremiah it is the outward form of inspiratio (ἒμπνευσις). For the expression “I have put my word in thy mouth” (comp. almost the same expression in Isaiah 51:16) Isaiah, on the one hand, an explanation of the act of touching the lips, on the other the designation of that operation on the human spirit by virtue of which “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” ( 2 Peter 1:21). From the following verse moreover we perceive that the prophet was prepared not only for speaking, but for acting, or, that his words were to be at the same time deeds, real exhibitions of power.

Jeremiah 1:10. See, I have this day… to build and to plant. These words represent the second part of the act of inauguration, the conferring of authority and of the commission. Authority is at the same time power. The prophet is not only formally authorized, but rendered physically capable. He is first authorized and empowered to act vigorously in the offensive. הִפְקַדְתִּיךְ I have set thee as a פָקִיד, i.e., overseer, administrator (ἐπίσκοπος, οἰκόνμος), consequently as my officer over the nations and kingdoms, which are my dominion and property. In הִפְקִיד is also included the idea of official plenipotence, which forms the legal basis of the prophet’s ministry. The sphere in which this ministry is to be exercised is “the nations and the kingdoms.” These are not designated more exactly, but the definite article and the plural denote that not only the kingdom of Judah, but all the nations and kingdoms are meant which were then present on the arena of history. They are enumerated Jeremiah 25:17-26. The commission which the prophet received with respect to them has two sides—a positive and a negative. First, he is to extirpate and exterminate (we may thus express the alliteration), to destroy and to throw down, but then also to build and to plant. The first he does by prophesying the Divine judgment, the second by the promise of Divine mercy and grace. נָתַשׁ corresponding to נָטַע. is used of plants ( Jeremiah 12:14 sqq.; Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 45:4) נָתַץ corresponding to בָנָה, of buildings ( Jeremiah 39:8; Jeremiah 52:14; Ezekiel 26:9; Ezekiel 26:12). It is noteworthy that the negative side is expressed by four verbs, the positive by only two. With this the contents of the book correspond, as owing to the moral condition of the times, it contains more threatenings and rebukes than promises of grace It is full of the former with respect to Israel. The latter are found with respect to the theocracy, besides in many scattered passages, especially in Jeremiah 30-33. With respect to the heathen nations both are found especially in Jeremiah 46-51. It is understood that the prophet was not actually to destroy and to build, but only by word, which as spoken by God involves the certainty of the accomplishment. Analogous modes of expression are found in Genesis 49:6; Isaiah 6:10; Ezekiel 32:18; Ezekiel 43:3; Hosea 6:5 Revelation 11:5—Comp. Jeremiah 5:14; Jeremiah 23:29.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. There is a vocatio immediate, which is however restricted to the bearers of the prophetic and apostolic office. We know of no prophet who was chosen and called by man to be a prophet. Aaron and Elisha are only apparent exceptions. Comp. Exodus 4:14-16; Exodus 4:27; 1 Kings 19:16. The apostles also were all called immediately by our Lord: Matthew 6:18-22; Matthew 10:1; John 1:37; Acts I:9.; Galatians 1:1; Galatians 1:11 sqq. Since then this vocatio immediata or extraordinaria is for those servants and instruments, of which the Lord will make use “ad fundandam ecclesiam,” all those who wish to bear office in the church already founded must be called thereto rite, i.e. by the human organ authorized for this purpose. (Conf. August, Art. XIV.) Comp. Budde, Instit. theol. dogm. L. V, cap. IV, § 4.—Turretin. Inst.theol. elencht, Loc. XVIII, Quæst23.

2. The free creative act of the personal God, who prepares and forms His instruments according to His idea even in the womb, contradicts both the mechanical idea, of development, and a one-sided traducianism.—It is simply remarked, that Catholic theologians (see Corn a Lapide), in order to obtain analogies for the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, would conclude from Jeremiah 1:5 that Jeremiah was conceived without originalsin. Neumann understands הקדשׁתיך of a communication of the Holy Ghost to Jeremiah even before his birth. Comp. on the other hand Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, 1, S. 65. [“קָדַשׁ does not primarily signify to be pure or holy, but to be separated from a common to some special purpose. The idea of purity, whether physical, ceremonial or moral, was originated by that of such separation. When, therefore, Jehovah declares that He had sanctified the prophet before his birth, the meaning is not that He had cleansed him from the pollution of original sin, or that He had regenerated him by His Spirit, as some have imagined, but that He had separated him in His eternal counsel to the work in which he was to be engaged.” Henderson. So Calvin.—“In this respect, as in many others, Jeremiah, who was sanctified from his mother’s womb, and was known, i.e. loved, by God before he was conceived and was made a prophet to the Nations, was a figure of Christ, who was loved by the Father from the beginning .... and who was the Prophet of all Nations .... (see S. Jerome here and comp. S. Cyprian c. Judæos, I:21; S. Ambrose, in Psalm 43, and Origen Homil. 1, in Jer.). S. Jerome says: ‘ Certe nullum puto sanctiorem Jeremia, qui virgo propheta, sanctificatusque in utero, ipso nomine præfigurat Dominum Salvatorem, S. Jerome (who is regarded as a saint and as a great doctor of the church, by the Church of Rome) could not have written these words if he had known anything of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (i.e. of the original sinlessness) of the Blessed Virgin, which is now enforced by the Church of Rome as an article of faith necessary to everlasting salvation,” Wordsworth.—S. R. A.]

3. The divine call involves, 1. with respect to the called, (a) the duty, to discharge the commission received without shyness or fear of Prayer of Manasseh, and without regard to his own weakness, (b) the privilege of the divine protection and assistance, and of certain success in his work; 2. with respect to those for whose sake the divine commission is given, (a) the duty of believing obedience, (b) the certain prospect of the realization of the threatenings or promises addressed to them.—Zinzendorf (“Jeremiah a preacher of righteousness,” S. 5 of the Berlin Ed. of1830) remarks on Jeremiah 1:10 : “A general promise which is addressed not to court preachers and general superintendents and such like only, in their extended dioceses, but city and village pastors may a majori ad minus, safely conclude that it will apply also to their rooting out and pulling down, building and planting. Only [be] faithful! only faithful!”—I note that some have sought to derive from Jeremiah 1:9 a proof of verbal inspiration, hence Starke remarks: “ Those sin against the Holy Ghost Himself who attribute to Jeremiah a rude style and solecisms, as Abarbanel, Jerome, Cunæus (De Rep. ebr. III, 7) have done,”—further that, Pope Innocent III, founded on Jeremiah 1:10 his claim to the primacy over civil rulers. Comp. Decret. L. I. Titus 33, cap. sollicite (Förster).

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. This passage may be suitably employed on the tenth Sunday after Trinity. It is also especially adapted to Ordination and Installation sermons.

2. The Lord never allows His Church to lack the strength which time and place demand. He need not seek this or wait for it. He makes it. As the Lord elsewhere chose that which was foolish, weak and base in the sight of the world ( 1 Corinthians 1:19-29; Matthew 11:25; John 7:48; James 2:5), so now he chooses one who to himself and others appears too young. It is not always the greybeard that is wanted (Förster). when God gives office He gives also understanding.—It would be presumptuous to begin a great work in one’s own strength. It is natural that in view of a great and difficult task one should at first be afraid. (Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum, 1, Jeremiah 66: “ Moyses et Hieremias, electi a Domino, ut oracula Dei prædicarent populo, quod poterant per gratiam, excusabant per verecundiam.”) But it would also be wrong if from pusillanimous despondency or love of ease, one should take no heed to an evident call of God.

“ Mark. O my soul, God’s word to thee,

And go at Christ’s command,

Where’er He draws thee hasten on,

When He detains thee, stand,” etc.

“The word and glory, Lord divine,

Not ours, O Christ, but all are Thine,

Grant then Thy gracious aid to those,

Who sweetly on Thy word repose.”

(Nic. Selnekker, in the hymn, “Abide with us, Lord Jesus Christ,” etc., Jeremiah 1:7).—Since the cause is not ours, but the Lord’s, and we have not undertaken it in our own strength, but in obedience to His command, it devolves upon the Lord to protect His cause and His servant.—Where one receives an office from the Lord and conducts it according to the Lord’s purpose and in His Spirit, there the Lord Himself is present with shield and spear, that Isaiah, with weapons of defence and offence.—The word of the Lord even in the mouth of the humblest of His servants, is a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces, and no rock is too hard or too high for it.—The work in the vineyard of the Lord. It must1. be performed by men, whom the Lord prepares and sends. It Isaiah 2. a difficult and dangerous work. But3. rich in success and reward.—The office to which the Lord appoints Isaiah 1. for the purpose of accomplishing His will,—needs, 2. the means which the Lord Himself provides.

3. Starke:—“He who is called by the Lord to the office of preacher becomes indeed a sacrifice and instrument of God, in that he regards only God’s will and command, and must without exception and without self-conceit do and proclaim that which the Lord commands him to do and preach.—Since the anger of God against sin and the punishment which will certainly follow has to be declared to whole kingdoms, a preacher must set their sins and the anger of God awakened thereby, before governors as well as subjects, the high as well as the low.—A teacher in view of gross corruption must not proceed softly; he must break down, root out, pull up and destroy.—When a teacher has by the Law destroyed the kingdom of Satan in the hearts of men, he must seek to build up the kingdom of Christ therein by the Gospel.”

[“Propheta nascitur non fit—A man is not educated unto a prophet, but originally formed for the office.—Samuel declared a message from God to Eli when he was a little child. Note, God can, when He pleases, make children prophets and ordain strength out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.—If God do not deliver His ministers from trouble, it is to the same effect if He support them under their trouble.—Earthly princes are not wont to go along with their ambassadors, but God goes along with those whom He sends.” Henry.—“You need not fear their faces—the thing that timid young men are most wont to fear. Think only that the Lord God is with you, and let His presence be your joy and strength.” Cowles.—Nothing can sustain the prophet in His outward and inward conflicts but the assurance of his divine calling.—Maurice says: “If Jeremiah had fancied that he was a prophet because there was in him a certain aptitude for uttering divine discourses and foreseeing calamities, who can tell the weariness and loathing which he would have felt for his task when it led to no seeming result, except the dislike of all against or for whom it was exercised,—still more when the powers and graces which were supposed to be the qualifications for it, became consciously feeble.”—S. R. A.]

Footnotes:

FN#3 - Jeremiah 1:4.—Cod1092, De Rossi, Cod. D. Mosc, LXX, Vatic, Theodoret in Cod. Monac, Origen, read אֵלָיו, misled by the previous context.

FN#4 - Jeremiah 1:5.—Since the 3 d pers. masc. imperf. of a strong verb with the suffix ךָ requires the short o in the last root-syllable (Ewald, Ausf. Lehrb. § 251, b), the Masoretes, deriving אצורך from יַצָר, read אֶצָּרְךָ with the marginal note יַתִּיר ו׳. But the form comes from צוּר (with the meaning “to form,” Exodus 32:11; 1 Kings 7:15), and the Chethibh is therefore to be pronounced אֲצוּרְךָ.

FN#5 - Jeremiah 1:6.—LXX. ὤν (δέσποτα κύριε), which Spohn supposes to have arisen from by the fault of the transcriber; but from the peculiarity of this translation, which would presuppose a derivative from הָיָה ( Exodus 3:14), we may judge it to have been the original.

FN#6 - Jeremiah 1:7.—The preposition עַל might not unfitly in this connection be rendered “against” (Maurer), yet elsewhere עַל after הָלַךְ differs little in meaning from אֵל, 1 Samuel 15:20; 1 Samuel 2:11; comp. Nehemiah 6:17 and rems. on Jeremiah 10:1.

b. The Visions, Rehearsal and Programme

Jeremiah 1:11-16

11Moreover the word of the Lord [Jehovah] came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, 12what seest thou? And I said, I see a [wakeful] rod of an almond tree. Then said the Lord [Jehovah] unto me, Thou hast well [rightly] seen, for I will hasten13[be wakeful (Germ, wacker) concerning] my word, to perform it. And the word of the Lord [Jehovah] came unto me the [a] second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething [boiling] pot, and the face thereof Isaiah 14toward [from] the north. Then the Lord [Jehovah] said unto me, Out of the north an evil [calamity] shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land 15 For lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the Lord [Jehovah]; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne [seat] at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round 16 about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them[FN7] touching [for] all their wickedness, who[FN8] [because they] have forsaken me, and have burned[FN9] incense [sacrifice] unto other gods, and worshipped the works[FN10] of their own hands.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

In general this section is the continuation of Jeremiah’s induction into the prophetic office, commenced in the previous section. This continuation consists in this, that the Lord at once causes the prophet to make a little trial or exercise in prophetic vision, in which he shows him not only the manner, but the main purport of the prophetic vision and announcement, i.e. the programme in outline of his prophetic ministry. The two sections thus stand in the closest reciprocal relation. Whether we are to assume an interval of time between them, is not clear from the text, which however does not forbid the supposition of a very brief interim.

Jeremiah 1:11. Moreover … rod of an almond tree. The question, “What seest thou?” is found not only here, in Jeremiah 1:13; Jeremiah 24:3, but also in Amos 7:8; Amos 8:2; Zechariah 4:2; Zechariah 5:2. It is the object of the inquirer to assure himself that the person addressed has rightly seen, which thus presupposes a certain difficulty, as well as importance, in seeing correctly. Apart from the objective difficulty of always perceiving the object shown, which we meet with, ex. gr., in Amos 8:2; Zechariah 5:2; the subjective ability of beholding visions, the seeing power of the inner eye, as it were, had to be tested. שָׁקֵד is the almond ( Genesis 43:11; Numbers 17:8; Ecclesiastes 12:5). The word comes from שָׁקַד, vigilavit. What the cock is among domestic animals the almond is among trees. It awakes first from the sleep of winter: “floret omnium prima mense Januario, Martio vero poma maturat,” says Pliny, Hist. Nat. L. XVI. c25.—The LXX have βακτηρίαν καρυΐνην, baculum nuceum. It is questionable whether by this they wished to designate a nut-tree-staff (with a hint at the sweet kernel in a bitter shell, as Theodoret and Ambrose suppose, the latter in Epist. ad Marcellinam sororem, the 41 st in the Bened. Ed.). For, according to Heraclius Ephesius (κάρυα ε̇κάλουν καὶ τὰς ἀμυγδάλας, etc.), Hesychius (καρύας̇ ἀμυγδάλας καὶ καστάνους) and others (see Drusiusad h. l. cfr.Passow:κάρυον, every kind of nut), βακτηρία καρυΐνη may also mean an almond-tree-staff, as the LXX also translate Genesis 30:37, מַקַּל לוּז by ῥάβδος καρυΐνη (לוּז is however the proper word in Hebrew and the dialects for almond-tree. See Arnold in Herzog, Real-Enc. Art. Mandelbaum), and in Genesis 43:11, at least the Cod. Vatic has κάρυα for שְׁקֵדִים, while the Cod. Alex. renders this word by ἀμύγδαλα.—But although the language allows the meaning of “almond” for שָׁקֵד, it has not been universally admitted here. Bugenhagen, ex. gr. translates baculum alacrem or virgam vigilantem, and expressly excludes the idea of an almond tree. For in another reference he makes this remarkable declaration; “Qui in hebraico nunc superstitiosius sua puncta (quæ tamen sciunt olim non fuisse) sequuntur, faciunt hoc loco: baculum amygdalinum. Sed si hoc placet ipsis, cur non postea faciunt etiam sic: bene vidisti, quia ego amygdalabor ad verbum meum” Most commentators admit the idea of “almond-tree” in שָׁקֵד, they differ only in this that some express this idea in the translation as that which is in reality the only one befitting the word, while the others for the sake of the similarity with the following שֹׁקֵד prefer the radical signification (vigilare). The latter again are distinguished into those who take שֹׁקֵד=שָקֵד in the substantive sense, “watchman” (so Calvin:baculus vigilis;Œcolampad.: the watchman club), and those who retain the adjectival signification (vigilans, alacer).—The endeavor to recommend the latter meaning by the explanation, “virga viglians pro minaci, incumbente, instar destricti gladii vibrata” (Zwingli) is wrecked on the difficulty of a rod alone, without an arm to raise it or an object over which it is held, being recognized as vigilans. If on the other hand the staff be recognized by the prophet as an almond-tree staff, not only is (his explicable but the subsequent explanation is connected easily and naturally with the idea of an almond-tree. Ewald has made the thought clear by the translation; A watch-staff of elder, for I will watch, etc.—Theodoret says, long-suffering is a sleep ( Psalm 44:24; Psalm 78:65); watchfulness for vengeance an awaking. That He will not sleepily delay, but will be fresh and watchful to own by speedy fulfilment the word spoken by the mouth of His prophet,—this is what God says to the fearful, hesitating Jeremiah for his comfort and encouragement. But is מַקֵּל שָׁקֵד a branch with twigs and leaves, or a stick stripped of leaves, such as is used for walking with or striking? Many, like Starke and Rosenmueller, favor the former view. They appeal to the circumstance that otherwise the staff would not be recognized as from an almond-tree. Others, as Kimchi, Vatable, Seb. Schmid, Venema, Gaab, decide for the latter, being only not agreed whether the staff is to be understood as being a pilgrim’s staff, a shepherd’s staff, or a stick for beating. I accept the latter view, and take the staff to be a threatening rod of castigation, for the following reasons: 1. Although Gesenius and Fuerst derive מַקֵּל from the root בקל which in Ethiopic, Arabic and Syriac has the meaning of “to sprout, shoot forth,” the word in Hebrew never has the signification of a fresh, green, leafy branch (not even in Jeremiah 48:17, which passage-is adduced by Fuerst), but always that of a stick or staff, and therefore agrees at least in signification with baculus, βακτηρία. The Hebrew expressions for a fresh branch are מַטֶה ( Ezekiel 19:11 sqq.),,עָנָף,שׂנָךְ סְעִיף,עֲבוֹת. 2. The connection requires that an instrument of chastisement be meant. The expositors have pointed with justice to the climax: rod—boiling pot. “Qui noluerint percutiente virga emendari, mittentur in ollam æneam atque succensam,” says Jerome. But a leafy branch is not an instrument of punishment.—The objection that the prophet would not then be in a condition to recognize the staff as from an almond-tree is unfounded. He might be able to do this even if we had reason to suppose that a dry almond tree was shown him. To distinguish between different kinds of dry wood is not difficult for a half-informed man. We must imagine a staff stripped indeed of leaves and adapted for striking, but yet fresh, unbarked and sappy. Since it is just in its being fresh and full of sap that the point lies, we may certainly presume that it was an almond rod in this stage that was shown to the prophet. Perhaps the recognition was facilitated by the circumstance that the vision occurred at a time when the sap had just commenced to flow in the almond tree.

Jeremiah 1:12. Then said Jehovah …to perform it.Venema remarks on this verse: “Visum eo tendit, ut propheta experimentum suæ aptitudinis ad munus propheticum caperet.—Bene vidisti: capax ergo es visionum propheticarum.” There seems to be some truth in this. In the other passages where the formula, What seest thou? occurs it is without the Thou hast well seen of confirmation. When it is here said to Jeremiah after his first vision there is certainly something encouraging in the fact, and it may not incorrectly be referred to the apprehension of incapacity expressed by the prophet in Jeremiah 1:6. At the same time it corroborates what has been remarked on שָׁקֵד. If it were a leafy twig, thou hast well seen appears to be superfluous, for there would have been no skill in distinguishing it—I will be wakeful, etc. Comp. Jeremiah 31:28, where the Lord refers expressly to this passage. The paronomasia is the same as between קָרִץ and קֵץ ( Amos 8:2).—Observe that we have דְּבָרִי and not דְּבָ‍‍ֽרְךָ. The word which the prophet has to proclaim is that of God, who will not allow His own word to be dishonored. The prophet need not be anxious either about its impression on the hearts of men or about the verification of his threatenings and promises; both will verify themselves. Comp. Hebrews 2:1; Isaiah 55:11.

Jeremiah 1:13. And the word …from the north. This second vision is closely related to the first, both as to form and matter, we are therefore not to suppose a long pause between them. In form this vision is like the first, but in matter it forms a climax, since, as already remarked, the boiling pot in relation to the simple rod of castigation appears to be an emblem of an extreme fury of anger. There is also a progress here, in that the second vision, with the explanation attached, plainly expresses why, how and by whom the judgment should be inflicted upon Judah. Thus far Jeremiah 1:13-16 present an outline of the whole prophecy of Jeremiah, for the whole book is no more than a development of the great thought here expressed: Judgment upon Judah by a people coming from the north; and the consolatory portions are but exceptions, like single rays of light in the prevailing darkness of the picture.—A boiling pot, etc. Etymologically it is a pot blown upon, i.e., a pot brought to boiling by blowing the fire. Comp. דּוּד נָפוּחַ, Job 41:11. The idea of Brenz, that סִיר is here to be taken as =spina(spina, quæ in die iræ Domini ab igne hujus succenditur) is refuted by the singular. We should then expect סִירִים. Comp. Isaiah 34:13; Hosea 2:8; Nahum 1:10; Ecclesiastes 7:6, in which place the word is used in both meanings. The seething pot is an emblem among the Arabs of warlike fury. Comp. Rosenmueller, ad. h. l. Most expositors understand by the pot here the theocracy. The Chaldeans are then the fire inflamed to a violent heat, which boils the Jews in the pot (comp. Ezekiel 11:3; Ezekiel 11:7; Ezekiel 11:11; Ezekiel 22:20), and that which foams over is the inhabitants driven out of the holy land. Song of Solomon, ex. gr., says Œcolampadius: “Hierusalem ollæ vel lebetï comparatur (ussgesotten Haffen) in qua carnales homines per ignem coquantur, ut quasi spuma ebulliantur per fervorem.” But they have been led by the general similarity of these passages in Ezekiel to overlook the difference. There the pot, with the flesh in it and that which is to come out of it, as well as the fire, are expressly distinguished from each other. In reference to our passage Venema has correctly remarked: “Nihil hic de igne, nihil de folle et sufflatione aliunde orta; simpliciter memoratur olla sufflata, quæ est olla in tumorem erecta et effervescens.” And the prophet certainly sees nothing more than a pot, boiling and foaming from the north. So that this itself is presented as the instrument of the severer punishment, and therefore symbolizes the Chaldeans. So Bugenhagen (“olla malum per Chaldæos et Assyrios Judæis paratum”), Venema (“olla representat regnum Chaldæum sub Nebucadnezare et vasta molimina coquens, et summe sese efferens, simul iratum et ad omnia absorbenda paratum”). With the opposite view of the pot is closely connected the incorrect interpretation of וּפָנָיו מִפְנֵי צָפוֹגָה. If we understand by the pot the Jewish people, and imagine this placed over a burning fire, which, though not expressly mentioned, we assume to be the Chaldeans, then it is natural to view פָנִים as the side of the pot turned towards the fire. But it is not the side turned towards the fire, but towards the prophet. For in the first place in the vision there is no fire, so that פָנִים could denote only the front of the pot, supposing it had one. It would, secondly, be difficult to show that the pot (or kettle, as some translate) had a side which could be expressly marked as the front. Thirdly, if the opposite view were correct we should read אֵל פְנֵי צּ not מִפְנֵי צּ. For the prophet certainly sees the pot from his standpoint as in the north. If now we say that the pot was placed against a fire burning on its northern side, the prophet from his southern standpoint would certainly be unable to see the side towards the fire. I know that frequently in Hebrew the terminus a quo is put where we should use the terminus in quo or in quem (comp. Naegelsb.Heb. Gram., 2d Ed, S. 228), but this mode of expression is applicable only when the object in question presents itself from just that point, at which it is according to our conception of it or towards which it is moving. In the present case, however, the side turned away from the prophet and not visible to him would be designated as that which is presenting itself to him (from the north). We therefore take פָנִים as the side turned towards and displayed to the prophet, whence according to a frequent idiom (comp. Numbers 8:2; Exodus 28:25; Exodus 40:44) it is designated as the face of the pot, and on this account also no further emphasis is to be laid on it. It is merely the visible side as opposed to the invisible; and we therefore translate simply “and it looks from the north.” The He locale in צפנה, as in several cases after prepositions, does not serve to indicate the direction more definitely, Isaiah 15:10, 21, בַּנֶּגְבָּה and מִבָבֶלָה, Jeremiah 27:16, but here as in לַיְלָה appears to have lost its significance as a particle and to be in transition to a mere phonetic substantive termination.

Jeremiah 1:14. Than Jehovah said … the inhabitants of the land.From the north is a general and indefinite expression, and it remains so to the prophet until a great historical event renders it sharply defined. Until the battle of Carchemish a people from the north only is spoken of ( Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 6:1; Jeremiah 6:22; Jeremiah 10:22), after the battle this people appears distinctly as the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar ( Jeremiah 25:9, etc). This settles the question whether by this northern nation the Chaldeans or Scythians were meant. All the older expositors held the former view. After Eichhorn’s example (Heb. Proph. II:9), Von Bohlen (Gen. S. 165), Dahler (Jérémie II:81), Ewald (Proph. d. A. B. 1, S. 361, 373; II, S. 9; Gesch. Isr. III:392), Bertheau (Gesch. d. Isr. S. 361), Hitzig and others in general, as Rösch says (Zeitschr. d. morg. Ges. XV, S. 536) “pretty nearly all exegetical authorities,” maintain the latter. Without wishing to oppose that which Adolph Strauss (Vatt. Zephanjæ, S. XV.), Tholuck (Die Proph. u. ihre Weiss, S. 94), and Graf (D. proph. Jer. erklärt, S. 16) have urged in favor of the older view, especially from the circumstance that the incursion of the Scythians was made at least five years before the public appearance of our prophet, I am still of opinion, that Jeremiah could have had neither the Scythians, nor the Chaldeans, nor any other people definitely in mind. He saw only this much, that a northern people would visit Judah as the rod of divine discipline. What people this would be, or rather what people all the families of the kingdoms of the earth would unite under their leadership, he knew not. He learned this first, as we have said, from the decisive turn. given by the battle of Carchemish. We shall see when we come to consider the respective passages that where he characterizes this unknown people more particularly (comp. Jeremiah 4:11; Jeremiah 5:15; Jeremiah 6:22; Jeremiah 10:22; Jeremiah 13:20) his description suits the Chaldeans, and that afterwards when he names them ( Jeremiah 25.) he is not conscious of correcting an error. Comp. Graf, S. 17, etc.—We thus come to the question, how can Jeremiah call the Chaldeans a northern people, since Babylon lay to the east or southeast of Palestine? We are not to expect an exact localization here, since, as we have said, Jeremiah has no definite people in view. The origin of the Chaldeans in the Koordish mountains (J. D. Michaelis), the extension of the Babylonian kingdom to the north and the connection with it of the Medes and Assyrians (Œcolampadius, Grotius, and others) are not to be urged as reasons for this expression of the prophet. He knows only that they will come against Jerusalem from the north over Dan and the mountains of Ephraim ( Jeremiah 4:15; Jeremiah 8:16). At the same time it was determined that these enemies belonged to the dominion not of a southern, but of a (in relation to this) northern empire, for which reason, after he had recognized the Chaldeans, the prophet does not cease to designate them as coming from the north; Jeremiah 25:9, coll. Ezekiel 26:7.—Shall break forth, etc. Jeremiah 1:14-16 contain the interpretation of the second vision, Jeremiah 1:14 giving its general import. פתח is used only of the opening of a closed gate, but metaleptically of the dismission or exclusion of what was enclosed by it, whether in bonam partem, ex. gr. of prisoners ( Isaiah 51:14; Job 12:14), or in malam partem of a calamity, as here. Zwingli remarks on this passage: “hac metalepsi ‘aperiri pro prodire’ non temere utuntur Latini, sed pro ‘prodere’ frequentius.” [Henderson: “Though more to the east than to the north of Judea, the Hebrews always represent the Babylonians as living in, or coming from, the north, partly because they usually appropriated the term east to Arabia Deserta, stretching from Palestine to the Euphrates, and partly because that people, not being able to cross the desert, had to take a northern route when they came against the Hebrews, and always entered their country by the northern frontier.”—S. R. A.]

Jeremiah 1:15. For lo … the cities of Judah. In this verse the general idea רָעָה is more exactly defined. The calamity will consist in this that the Lord will call all the kingdoms of the north against Judah. But all is not to be emphasized. It is only meant that the (in relation to Egypt) northern empire will come with its whole force upon Judah. The expression “and they shall set every one his throne,” etc., is very variously explained. Calvin understands it as the arrangement for a permanent residence (“ut consideant tanquam domi suæ”) which is entirely unsuited to the connection. Others understand by the throne the seat of the general, from which orders are issued as well as judgments. The latter have been referred either to the hostile soldiers ( Song of Solomon, ex. gr., Seb. Schmid), or to Judah (Starke, J. D. Michaelis, “describuntur ut assessores ejus judicii, quod v. seq. informatur”). The reference to the hostile soldiery does not agree with the context, the reference to Judah is in so far unsuited that a throne for the purpose of judging a city, is set not before the gates, but within the conquered city. I therefore concur with Venema, Rosenmueller, Maurer and others in the view, that the seat here is only a seat for sitting upon, and that to sit down before a city is simply to besiege it, as in Latin obsidere, and as the French say mettre le siége devant une ville. The phrase אִישׁ כִּסְאו expresses that Jerusalem will be surrounded by many such seats. They will be set especially before the gates of Jerusalem (פֶתַח prepositive, as Genesis 18:1; Genesis 19:11, etc.) because it is the metropolis and because the siege is directed against the gates, as the approaches to it. From the principal stations before the gates of the capital the attack may be directed not only against the walls of Jerusalem, but against the other cities of the land.

Jeremiah 1:16. And I will utter … their own hands. These words designate the visitation threatened in the preceding verses as a divine judgment, and name also the guilt which has brought such a judgment upon Judah. The expression דַּבֵר מִשְׁבָּטִים אֵת פ signifies to discuss rights with any one, i. e, to dispute (causam agere) between those who have equal rights ( Jeremiah 12:1), and partly as a judge with the accused ( Jeremiah 4:12; Jeremiah 39:5). The expression here has the suffix of a definite person, which signifies that the case is not one of reciprocal rights, but entirely of the rights of the Lord, for the infraction of which the people are here called to account.

This discussion of the Lord with the people is not to take place in words, but by the judgment announced in the previous verses. [“The idea conveyed by the LXX is somewhat different, and I believe that it is what the original words mean, λαλήσω πρὸς αὐτοῦς μετὰ κρίσεως—I will speak to them with judgment. The original literally Isaiah, ‘I will speak my judgments to them;’ that Isaiah, I will not speak words but judgments.—The verse may be thus rendered—‘And I will speak by my judgments unto them,’ etc.” Calvin’sComm. I, 58. Tr’s note.—S. R. A.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. In form both of these visions are objective symbols, in distinction from verbal symbols (parables, tropes, etc.) and from types. The prophetic element is essential to the latter, but not to symbols. The almond-tree staff is only an objective expression of the truth that the Lord is early awake to verify His truth. The seething pot also is only an actual representation of the judgment which is threatening Judah. The circumstance that this is future is not essential. While the type represents a future fact the symbol is only the emblematic expression of a speech, and may refer to the present, the past or the future.—It may be remarked that the older theologians used the expression theologia symbolica in a triple sense, (a) = theologia mystica, kabbalistica (comp. Budde, Inst. Dogm. p186), (b) = theology of the confessions or creeds, (c) as correlative to revelatio symbolica, i.e. revelation imparted by bodily signs, in opposition to revelatio simplex, which passes internally from spirit to spirit (comp. Budde S. 25, etc., and Starke, in loc).—Concerning the Biblical symbols, comp. Zöckler, Theologia naturalis, S. 200. [Fair-bairn’s Typology, passim. “Here is a beautiful type of the Resurrection, especially the Resurrection of Christ. ‘Virga Aaron quæ putabatur emortus, in Resurrectione Domini floruit’ (S. Jerome).” Wordsworth.—S. R. A.]

2. It may be asked whether the alacritas, vigilantia, assiduitas, diligentia Dei does not claim to be regarded as a special quality in opposition to the somnolentia, inertia, pigritia of men. The answer must be in the negative. In the conception of the absolute Spirit, who is at the same time the absolute life, the material basis is given for this vigilantia or diligentia as truly as holiness, love, faithfulness, wisdom serve for the formal (ethical and intellectual) basis: He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. Psalm 121:4.

3. The justice of God demands the satisfaction of His wounded honor ( Isaiah 42:8). The divine wisdom in connection with omniscience selects the instruments and fixes the time and manner of the judgment.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. [On Jeremiah 1:12. “Prophets have need of good eyes; and those that see well shall be commended, and not those only that speak well.” M. Henry.—S. R. A.]

God’s justice Isaiah, 1. long-suffering: at first it uses only the rod ( Romans 2:4); 2. recompensing zealously and severely: when the gentle chastisement is without result, it becomes a consuming fire ( Exodus 20:5; Psalm 7:12; Hebrews 10:31). [Ambrose on Psalm 38, quoted by Wordsworth.—S. R. A.]

2. [On Jeremiah 1:16. Maurice:—“We perceive as much from the words of the prophet as from the history, that this idolatry has now become deep and radical.—The state of mind which was latent in them and which they brought forth into full, conscious activity, is represented as an apostate state; not so much an adoption of false gods as a denial of the true. There is a great practical difference between the frivolous, heartless taste for foreign novelties, which was denounced by the earlier prophets, and the utter incapacity for acknowledging a God not appealing to the senses, which Jeremiah discovers in his contemporaries. He boldly sets up the faith of the heathen as a lesson to the Israelites, Jeremiah 2:10-11.”—S. R. A.]

Footnotes:

FN#7 - Jeremiah 1:16.—The form אוֹתָם for אִתָּם is frequent in Jeremiah 2:35; Jeremiah 4:12; Jeremiah 12:1. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr. § 55, 3, Anm.

FN#8 - Jeremiah 1:16.—אשׁר before זזזריּיי refers to the suffix in ריזחח and since it is to be regarded as explicative, introducing a more particular definition of רָעָה, we may translate it by: that, that namely. Moreover רעה here refers to the same expression in Jeremiah 1:14.

FN#9 - Jeremiah 1:16.—ויקטרו. This Piel is frequently synonymous with the Hiphil הִקְטִיר. (Comp. 1 Kings 3:3; 1 Kings 11:8 with 1 Kings 22:44; 2 Kings 22:17 with 2 Chronicles 24:25 Chethibh) in the wider sense of offering in general. (Comp. Graf in loc.)—That Jeremiah also uses the Piel in the wider sense seems to follow from the fact that he uses it almost exclusively,—every where indeed with the exception of two places ( Jeremiah 33:18; Jeremiah 48:35), where it was proper to use the official terminus technicus. But it is not clear whether the Piel in Jeremiah has the wider meaning, in consequence of a grammatical confusion of the Hiphil with the Piel, or of a rhetorical denominatio a potiore.

FN#10 - Jeremiah 1:16.—מעשׂי, the plural, is found again only Jeremiah 44:8, the singular Jeremiah 25:6-7; Jeremiah 32:30; 2 Kings 22:17; coll. 2 Chronicles 34:25.

c. Repetition of the Commission and Promise as the basis of the impregnable defensive position of the Prophet

Jeremiah 1:17-19

17Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise and speak unto them all that I [shall] command thee: be not dismayed [confounded] at their faces, lest 1 confound18thee before them. For, behold, I have made [make] thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar and brazen walls[FN11] against the whole land, against[FN12] the kings of Judah, against 2 the princes thereof, against 2 the priests thereof and 19 against2the people of the land. And they shall [may] fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord [Jehovah], to deliver thee.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

In these concluding verses the general purport of section (a) is first repeated: Jeremiah 1:17 from speak to faces, and the conclusion of ver19, reproducing the conclusion of Jeremiah 1:7-8. On the basis of this promise (comp. For I am with thee, Jeremiah 1:19), however, the prophet is assured, in antithesis to the offensive position commanded in Jeremiah 1:9-10, of an equally strong defensive position, and this is the new and characteristic element of this concluding section.

Jeremiah 1:17. Thou therefore … before them. A summons to set vigorously to work. The servant of God must be neither cowardly nor slothful. The expression, “gird up the loins,” is frequently used in a proper as well as in a figurative sense; 1 Kings 18:46; 2 Kings 4:29; 2 Kings 9:1; Job 38:3; Ecclesiastes 31:17; Luke 12:35; Ephesians 6:14; 1 Peter 1:13.—Be not dismayed forms a climax in relation to Be not afraid, Jeremiah 1:8, as in Deuteronomy 1:21; Joshua 10:25.—תֵּחַת and מִפְּגֵיהֶם,אֲחִתְּךָ and לִפְּיֵיהֶם correspond. [This play upon words may be expressed in English thus: “Be not dumbfounded before them, lest thou be confounded before them.”—S. R. A.] Many commentators have hesitated at rendering the Hiphil of חָתַת in the primary sense of “frangere, to break to pieces.” They have thought the threatening would be too severe, “erigendus erat animus persuasione incolumitatis non minis ac metu frangendus,” says Schnurrer They therefore take either פֶן in a reduced and grammatically inadmissible sense (Bugenhagen: quasi te terream;Starke, “I should terrify thee;” Grotius: nec enim timere te faciam;Schnurrer supplies לֵאמרֹ = putans concessurum me esse, ut tibi sit pereundem), or they understand the verb in the meaning which certainly pertains to the word, “to make afraid.” But what sense is therein this rendering: “Be not afraid before them, lest I make thee afraid before them”? (Œcolamp, Maurer, Ewald). If the prophet was afraid before his enemies he did not need to be rendered still more so. I take הֵחַת, with most commentators, in the sense frangere, conterere, which it has in the radical signification of the Kal.—to be broken in pieces, crushed (see Fuerst), and which it undoubtedly has in such passages as Isaiah 9:3. The threatening is not too severe. Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:16, “For though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.” From this we see that the inward pressure which a man of God feels in consequence of the divine operation is very strong. He who should resist this divine impulse, like Jonah, would be crushed by it. And it would be the just punishment of that faint-hearted disdain, which would reject such high honor from a miserable fear of man.

Jeremiah 1:18. For behold … the people of the land. I is emphatic in antithesis to thou, Jeremiah 1:17. Thou gird up thy loins and do thy part, I will do mine, to protect thee. In the words “a defenced city and an iron pillar and brazen wall,” the prophet is assured that for the difficult offensive commission which is given him he will receive a sufficient defensive equipment. Offence and defence stand in exact relation to each other. Reference is afterwards made to this promise, in Jeremiah 15:20-21. Comp. Psalm 105:15.—On the subject-matter comp. Matthew 10:18-19.—people of the land. This expression occurs frequently in the sense of “the common people”: Jeremiah 34:19; Jeremiah 37:2; Jeremiah 44:21; Jeremiah 52:6; Ezekiel 7:27, &c. It is the basis of the later Rabbinical usage according to which it signifies the “unlearned and ignorant” ( Acts 4:13) comp. Buxtorf. Lex Rabb. s. v. עַם.

Jeremiah 1:19. And they shall fight … to deliver thee. יָכֹל with לְ in the sense of prævalere, Genesis 32:26; 1 Samuel 17:9; Obadiah 1:7; Jeremiah 38:22.—For I am with thee, comp. Jeremiah 1:8.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. It is fundamentally the same sin, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard without a calling, and not to be willing to labor when one has been called, for in both cases a man seeks his own, not that which is God’s.

2. “He who fears nothing and hopes nothing may preach the truth. He who is unequal to either of these two will act more wisely for his own repose and more honorably for the truth, if he keep silence.”—Dr. Leidemit.

3. Behold I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Luke 10:3; Matthew 10:16 sqq. God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9.

4. Fear not those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28. God is no respecter of persons. Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; 1 Peter 1:17.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. Duty and privilege of the sevants of God1. Their duty: (a) always to have their loins girded, (b) to proclam without fear of man whatever the Lord commands2. Their privilege:—through the power of God to be obliged to yield to no power on earth.

2. The Lord’s requirements and promise to His servants1. The requirement, (a) to be always ready for His service, (b) to accomplish that which is bidden without delay2. The promise: (a) that the Lord will be with them, (b) that no earthly power will conquer them. [M. Henry: “He must be quick—Arise, and lose no time; he must be busy—Arise, and speak unto them, in season, out of season; he must be bold—Be not dismayed at their faces.—In a word he must be faithful; it is required of ambassadors that they be so. In two things he must be faithful1. He must speak all that he is charged with. He must forget nothing—Every word of God is weighty. He must conceal nothing for fear of offending2. He must speak to all that he is charged against. Two reasons why he should do this1. Because he had reason to fear the wrath of God, if he should be false2. Because he had no reason to fear the wrath of Prayer of Manasseh, if he were faithful.”—S. R. A.]

Footnotes:

FN#11 - Jeremiah 1:18.—[Henderson: “Instead of the plural חֹמוֹת, walls, the singular חֹמַה, wall, is found in twelve of De Rossi’s MSS.; it has been originally in seven more, and is now in two by correction. It is likewise in five ancient editions, and occurs in the defective form without the Vau in a great number of MSS. and editions. The LXX, Targ, Syr. and Vulg. all read in the singular. This form further commends itself on the ground of its being the less usual, but at the same time more appropriate in application to a singular subject.”—S. R. A.]

FN#12 - Jeremiah 1:18.—לְ is a feebler continuation of ַעל. Comp. Jeremiah 3:17; Psalm 33:28. Naegelsb. Gram. § 112, 8.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/jeremiah-1.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, September 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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