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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Jeremiah 23

 

 

Verses 1-8

f. Conclusion and Consolation, in a glance at the just and the justifier

Jeremiah 23:1-8.

1 Wo, pastors,[FN1] who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture,[FN2] saith Jehovah!

2 Therefore thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, concerning the pastors,[FN3] that pasture my people:

Ye have scattered my flock, and dispersed and not visited them.

Behold I visit[FN4] upon you the evil of your doings, saith Jehovah.

3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock

Out of all the countries whither I have dispersed them,

And bring them back to their field;[FN5] and they shall be fruitful and increase.

4 And I awaken over them pastors who shall pasture them.

And they shall fear no more nor be dismayed;[FN6]

Neither shall they be missing,[FN7] saith Jehovah.

5 Behold the days are coming, saith Jehovah,

That I awake unto David a righteous scion,

Who shall reign as king and shall prosper,[FN8]

And exercise judgment and righteousness in the land.

6 In his days will Judah be saved,

And Israel dwell securely;

And this will be the name by which they will call[FN9] him [Israel],

Jehovah our righteousness.

7 Therefore, behold, the days are coming that they shall no more say,

As Jehovah liveth, who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt,

8 But, as Jehovah liveth, who brought and led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country,

And out of all lands, whither I had dispersed them;

And they shall dwell in their own land.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

This passage is in general suitably connected with the entirety of the previous context, since in relation to the previous specifications ( Jeremiah 22:10-30), it may be regarded as a comprehensive conclusion. But originally it formed a connected whole only with Jeremiah 22:1-9; Jeremiah 13-23, since Jeremiah 22:10-12 must have been inserted afterwards. Going down into the house of the king, who can have been no other than Jehoiakim, Jeremiah first, in Jeremiah 22:1-9, addressed an alternative to him, the purport of which was such that servants and people were also obliged pro rata to apply it to themselves. For in Jeremiah 23:13-19 he turned to the king alone with an incisive speech of rebuke and menace, to which was appended a singular one addressed to 4 e people ( Jeremiah 23:20-23). Finally, in a grand survey, he contrasts with the deep decline, effectuated by the wicked pastors ( Jeremiah 23:1-2), the other extreme, the salvation to be imparted to the Revelation -assembled people, in the distant future, by the Messiah. The remnant restored to their home shall again become a numerous people ( Jeremiah 23:3). This people shall be fed in blessing by shepherds appointed by the Lord ( Jeremiah 23:4). In particular a “ righteous scion,” sprung from the stock of David, shall rule as king with wisdom and righteousness, to the prosperity of Judah and Israel,—a king, whose deepest significance for his people is expressed in the wonderful name given to the people—Jehovah our Righteousness ( Jeremiah 23:5-6). Oaths will then no longer be taken by the name of Jehovah, who brought Israel out of Egypt, but by the name of Jehovah, who brought back Israel from the north country to his native land ( Jeremiah 23:7-8). The same antithesis, between deepest impending ruin and highest glory to be expected in the distant future, was found also in Jeremiah 3

Jeremiah 23:1-2. Wo, Pastors … saith Jehovah. As the sections Jeremiah 22:1-9; Jeremiah 13-23; Jeremiah 23:1-8 contain the discourse delivered in the house of the king, this section is immediately attached to Jeremiah 22:13-23. Both sections begin with הוֹי. After the alternative in Jeremiah 22:3-9 also the prophet pronounces a double woe: first on the shepherds, i.e. on the person of the king then reigning, then on all which may be called bad shepherding. That the kings are to be understood by the shepherds follows : 1. from the previously stated connection of the discourse of which this passage forms a part; 2. from the description of the conduct of the bad shepherds (who destroy and scatter the flock, etc, Jeremiah 23:1-2) which appears to produce so much effect, both extensively and intensively, that we can recognize it only as the action of those who occupy the highest, most influential positions; 3. from the antithesis of the good shepherd, Jeremiah 23:4, and of the righteous scion of David, Jeremiah 23:5, in particular. For that beneficial influence ( Jeremiah 23:4) can only be that of (he chief, and in Jeremiah 23:5 the “righteous scion” is directly designated as king. They first corrupt the people morally, and thus effect the external destruction which culminates in their dispersion, comp. 2 Kings 17:21-23; 2 Kings 21:10-12; 2 Kings 23:26-27; Jeremiah 15:4.

Jeremiah 23:3-4. And I will gather.....saith Jehovah. Comp. Jeremiah 29:14; Jeremiah 31:8-10; Micah 2:12; Ezekiel 24:12.—The remnant,etc. On this Hengstenberg remarks: “The gathering being promised only to the remnant (comp. Isaiah 10:20; Romans 9:27) indicates that justice accompanies mercy.”—And they shall be fruitful,etc. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 3:16. In the following verse it should first of all be observed that the prophet has in view two older prophecies: First the foundation-prophecy of the future glory of the Davidic house in 2 Samuel 7:12, where we read the words, “I will set thy seed after thee.” The prophet’s choice of this particular utterance here and in Jeremiah 23:5, could not have been without the object of a double allusion to the passage above quoted, and to the name of Jehoiakim. Since this name (as well as the name יוֹיָבִין) is chosen undoubtedly with reference to the passage mentioned, it was natural that the prophet, thinking in joyful hope of that prophecy, should at the same time remember the contradiction, which prevailed between the present and the promised Jehoiakim. The second passage, to which Jeremiah more plainly alludes, is his own utterance in Jeremiah 3:15. He must have been reminded of this the more readily that it relates to the same future period.

Jeremiah 23:5. Behold the days ... in the land. The connection of this verse with the previous one is formed by behold the days. This expression does not refer to the difference in time. It does not declare that what is spoken of in Jeremiah 23:5 will take place after the events of Jeremiah 23:4, but is antithetic only to the present.—Pastors,etc., in Jeremiah 23:4 is a figurative expression, which is explained in Jeremiah 23:6 in proper language. On the question as to the relation of the singulars צֶמָח, scion,מֶלֶךְking, etc, to the plural רֹעִים, pastors, there are three views. According to one רֹעִים is to be taken as a generic plural, which does not exclude the possibility of one shepherd being intended. Thus Hengstenberg. On the other hand it is rightly objected that elsewhere Jeremiah presents the prospect of a multiplicity of rulers of the seed of David for the time of the great restoration: Jeremiah 33:17-18

“ There shall not be wanting to David a Prayer of Manasseh,

Sitting on the throne of the house of Judah …

And to the priests and levites shall not be wanting a Prayer of Manasseh,

Offering burnt-offerings,” etc. Ibid. Jeremiah 23:22. “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered

Nor the sand of the sea measured;

So will I multiply the seed of David my servant,

And the Levites that minister to me.”

Ibid. Jeremiah 23:26. “ If I have not appointed the laws of heaven and earth;

Then also may I reject the seed of Jacob

And David my servant,

That I should not take of his seed to be rulers (משְׁלִים)

To the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

According to the second view the passages just quoted are regarded as forming the measure of this, and accordingly the singular צֶמָח, scion, is taken in a collective sense. Graf, who adopts this view, appeals (a) to the idiom, according to which it always has a collective meaning ( Genesis 19:25; Psalm 65:11; Ezekiel 16:7; Isaiah 61:11); (b) to the idiom according to which דָוֹד, David, and עַבְדִּי דָוִד as much designate the descendants of David, as יַֽעְַקֹב; Jacob, and עַבְדִּי יַֽעְַקֹב, the descendants of Jacob: Jeremiah 30:9; Hosea 3:5; Ezekiel 24:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24-25; Ezekiel 45:8; Ezekiel 46:16, coll. Jeremiah 30:10; Jeremiah 46:27-28; Isaiah 44:1; Isaiah 45:4; Isaiah 48:20, etc.—To this view it may be objected that this entirely ignores the fact that the Jews expected one great deliverer and restorer of their State, the Messiah. Comp. the article “ Messias,” by Oehler in Herzog, R-Enc, We can only treat here of two points: 1. How is this passage related to the expectation of a single great son of David? 2. If it is based on this idea, how is it to be reconciled with the other that a number of princes of David’s line will rule over Israel? As to the first question, I am of opinion that this passage declares the unity of the Messiah, notwithstanding that pastors preceding ( Jeremiah 23:4) intimates a multiplicity. I therefore propose a third view, taking רֹעִים in a plural sense, but צֶמַח, etc., notwithstanding in the sense of unity. The reasons for this are as follows: 1. If Jeremiah wished to set forth a multiplicity, why did he not continue in the plural? Why does he not say “Who shall reign as kings?” צֶמַח has, in the comparatively few passages where it occurs, a collective sense. But not necessarily. It is germen, prolos in general, and may accordingly designate as well a single individual as a number. If the prophet wished it to be taken in the latter sense, and therefore as absolutely identical with רֹעִים, he must have indicated this by the plural2. Ezekiel and Zechariah, who, as is acknowledged, refer to this passage, evidently understood it in the sense of unity. Ezekiel says expressly in Ezekiel 34:23, “ And I will set up one shepherd over them.” And Zechariah in Zechariah 3:8, and Zechariah 6:12, used צֶמַח as a proper name, saying ( Zechariah 3:8): “For I bring my servant Zemach” [The Branch]—and ( Zechariah 6:12): “ Behold a Prayer of Manasseh, Zemach his name, under whom it shall sprout.” As to the second question, previously raised, the subjective conception of the prophet is to be distinguished from the objective reality of the fulfilment. To the prophets the pictures of the future, which came within the circle of their vision, contained by no means always sharply circumscribed and distinctly impressed forms (comp. 1 Peter 1:11). These forms were as little born entirely of the future, severed from the present. Rather were they eternal ideas, which had derived their body from the present. Of this kind are most of the Messianic prophecies. In reality Christ is a different king, priest and prophet, from what the authors of Psalm 2; Psalm 110; Deuteronomy 18 conceived, and yet His advent is the true fulfilment of those prophecies. Thus Jeremiah also sees together with the one grand form of the arch-shepherd, many others, whom he recognizes as His seed. If the prophet conceived among his offspring of a successor, in the sense in which successors of a no longer reigning prince are spoken of, this must have been a point which remained obscure to the subjective perception of the prophet,—in a similar manner, as it may have been dark to the prophet, how he could live so long, of whom it was said that He gave His soul an offering for sin ( Isaiah 53:10). Objectively considered, even Jerome and Theodoret understood the apostles by the many רֹעִים—an interpretation which is certainly exposed to the objection of too great limitation. It would be more appropriate, to consider, with others, that we, so far as we are ἐν χριστῶ, are not only Abraham’s seed ( Galatians 3:29) but also David’s. We are indeed a royal priesthood ( 1 Peter 2:9); and He has made us not only priests but kings ἐποίησας αὐτνὺς βασιλείαν καῖ ἱερεῖς, καὶ βασιλεύουσιν ἐπὶ τής γῆς, Revelation 5:10, coll. Jeremiah 1:6). [Henderson: “By the better shepherds whom Jehovah promises to place over His restored people, I understand Zerubbabel, Ezra,, Nehemiah, the Maccabees, etc., under whose superintendence and rule they were Revelation -instated in their possessions, and enjoyed protection against both internal and foreign enemies.”—S. R. A.] If now the inquiry is made, how the prophet came to choose the expression צֶמַח, it was long ago pointed out by the Comm. that he had in mind Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 53:2. As there the sprouting forth of a scion, from the apparently withered root of the house of David, is announced, so here the growth of a scion in the midst of a people, gathered again after along dispersion, and thus about to enter upon a new national existence. This conception appears also to form the basis of the translation of the LXX, which translates צֶמַח here as in Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12, ἀναταλή. Comp. especially καὶ ὑποκάτωδεν αὐτοῦ ἀςατελεῖ, in the passage last mentioned.—Justice or righteousness is the chief quality of a good king according to the Old Testament doctrine. Comp. Psalm 45:5; Psalm 45:7-8; Psalm 72:1-4; Psalm 72:12-14; Psalm 82:2-4; Psalm 101:1-8.—Hence righteous scion, of which the confirmation in fact is declared in shall exercise judgment. Comp. Psalm 146:7; Psalm 103:6, and the remarks on Jeremiah 7:5-6; Jeremiah 9:23.

Jeremiah 23:6. In his days … our righteousness. Comp. Deuteronomy 33:28-29,—Repetition of our passage, Jeremiah 33:16Judah is fem, as in Jeremiah 3:7; Jeremiah 14:2; Jeremiah 33:16; Lamentations 1:3; Nahum 2:1; Malachi 2:11. It is then equivalent to daughter of Judah, Lamentations 2:2; Lamentations 2:5. Comp. Naegelsb, Gr. 604.—They will call him. According to the explanation prevalent even from antiquity, this refers to righteous scion. But as Jeremiah is his own best interpreter, the name must be referred to Israel. For in the parallel passage, Jeremiah 33:16, where instead of “and Israel dwell securely,” we read “ Jerusalem shall dwell securely,” the word he, in the latter clause of the verse (“and this is the name by which he shall be called”) can refer to no other than Jerusalem. Jehovah our Righteousness is not then the name of the scion of David, but of the nation. It is a symbolical surname, which is distinguished from other names, in that it serves not for real use, but only for objective characterization, an ideal inscription, as it were. Hence this name is also ascribed to an object, which already has a name. For the nation is already called Israel, but nevertheless it is to be called “ Jehovah, etc.” The prophet does not mean that the old name is to be changed into a new one; for the name does not recur (except in the repetition of this passage, Jeremiah 33:16) and the nation appears as before under its old name, which is also a sacred, God-given name. ( Genesis 32:28.) Jerusalem elsewhere receives other names which are likewise not intended for daily use: in Ezekiel 48:36, the name יהוהשָֽׁמָּה (The Lord is there) is attributed to the city. In Isaiah 60:14 we read “ they shall call thee The city of Jehovah, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” In a similar manner Nathan gives his pupil Solomon the name Jedi-diah, which he never bore in reality. With respect to the name Emmanuel ( Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8-10) the case appears to be the same.—Similar in form are the names Jehovah-nissi ( Exodus 17:15), Jehovah-shalom ( Judges 6:24), Jehovah-jireh ( Genesis 22:14). The LXX. makes a proper name of it, Ἰωσεδἐκ. I suppose with Hermann (Gött. Weihn. Progr. 1752, comp. J. D. Michaelis, Observ. S189) that it referred the passage to the post-exilic restoration, and understood by Ἰωσεδέκ its representative, the high-priest Joshua, the son of Jozedek, which it always pronounces ’Ιωσεδέκ ( Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:12; Ezra 3:2; Ezra 3:8; Ezra 5:2; Nehemiah 12:26). In favor also of this view is the Jewish interpretation of the passage concerning Zerubbabel, combated by Theodoret and Eusebius (Dem. Ev, vii9), which seems to be supported by the LXX. The strange expression ἐν τοῖς προφήταις (Theodoret: αὐτὸς ἐν τ. πρ., perhaps a trace of the final syllable נוּ, which is wanting in Ἰωσεδέκ: Euseb. Ἰωσεδεκιμ) is also in its favor. It is indeed transferred from Jeremiah 23:9, where it stands as a title, but it is not impossible that the Alexandrian translators perceived in it a reference to the post-exilic prophets, under whose co-opsration Joshua and Zerubbabel labored. The Syriac and Sym-machus, moreorer, read צַדְּקֵנוּ, for they translate δικαίεσον ἡμὰς.—If it is not the name of the Messiah, but of the people, then of course all the deductions are futile, which have been drawn from it in support of the deity of the Messiah. Only one thought remains, that Israel will be a nation, that will have no other righteousness than Jehovah’s. Some would take צֶרֶק exclusively in the sense of “salvation” (Graf). Without denying that it may have this meaning (comp. Rems. on Jeremiah 7:5; Jeremiah 9:23; Isaiah 46:12, etc.), I do not think that here בְּרָכָה,תְּשׁוּעָה or any similar word would have done as well. The prophet certainly chose צדק not without reason, i. e. not without regard to its specific meaning. We are therefore justified in taking it in the entire fulness of its verbal significance as expressing the thought that Jehovah is His people’s righteousness and therefore their salvation. The expression is thus one of those which contain more than the prophet himself imagines, and we may therefore find in it also an antithesis to personal righteousness, which Israel thought to obtain by the works of the law ( Romans 9:31-32; Romans 9:7), but did not succeed. It has been further correctly remarked (Vide Hengstenberg, Christology ad h. l.) that Zedekiah changed his former name into this with reference to this passage. Compelled by Nebuchadnezzar to assume mother name ( 2 Kings 24:17, comp. Keil on Jeremiah 23:34) he chose this, which may very well Signify “Jehovah my Righteousness,” and by which he expressed the presumptuous hope, that Jeremiah’s glorious promise would find in him the beginning of its fulfilment—in which he exdressed rather an irony than a glorification of himself.

Jeremiah 23:7-8. Therefore ... in their own land. These two verses are repeated with unessential alterations from Jeremiah 16:14-15. They stand in both places in a suitable connection, and Jeremiah himself may here, as frequently, have reproduced his own words spoken before. The omission of these verses here by the LXX, and their supplementation at the end of tha chapter, whereas Jeremiah 23:6 closes with the words: ’Ιωσεδὲκ ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, I cannot, with Hitzig and Graf, regard as a proof that the two verses were wanting in the Hebrew original of the Translator. The admitted capvicious arbitrariness of this translator deprives his testimony of all demonstrative force. The occasion of the transposition may have been the circumstance that the verses have in Jeremiah 16:14-15 a minatory, here a friendly, meaning, which led him to think that they must be introduced in the same connection as in Jeremiah 16. This end he attained by placing them at the close of the minatory prophecy against the prophets. It should further be remarked that both verses, in the positive part of their relative clauses, agree in part verbatim with Jeremiah 23:3, and in so far might be regarded as superfluous in this place. But the main emphasis is to be laid on the main proposition, “they shall no more say, As Jehovah liveth, etc., but: As Jehovah liveth,” etc., and in this sense they have the significance of a concluding doxology. The reduction of Israel from the later exile will furnish a more glorious substratum to the oath by the name of Jehovah.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:2. “King Zedekiah sends word to Jeremiah, that the Lord is to do according to all His miracles, that Nebuchadnezzar may withdraw. A demand rather cavalierly made in such evil circumstances. But the noble are so unfortunate! It is indeed as though it only depended on them to arrange matters with God; as if He were only waiting for them, as if it were a point of honor not to be over-hasty, but first to await a little extremity …. It is a very necessary observance for a servant of the Lord, that he try his superiors, whether there is any trace remaining in them of having been once baptized, well brought up and instructed in the fear of the Lord. If he observe anything of this kind, he must insist upon it and especially not allow them to deal too familiarly with the Judge of all the earth, but plainly demonstrate to them their insufficiency and nothingness, if they measure themselves by Him. Though Zedekiah had spoken so superficially, Jeremiah answered him without hesitation, definitely and positively, and accustomed him to a different manner of dealing with the Lord.” Zinzendorf. “When the ungodly desire God’s help, they commonly appeal not to His saving power to heal them, but to His miraculous power to save them, while they persist in their impenitence.” Starke.

2. On Jeremiah 21:8. “It is pure grace on the part of God, when He leaves to man the choice between the good and the evil; not that it is permitted him to choose the evil, but that he may choose freely the good, which he is under obligation to do, Deuteronomy 30:19.” Starke. “God lays before us the way of life and the way of death. The way of life is however always contrary to human reason, and that on which it sees merely death and shame. … If thou wilt save thyself thou must leave the false Jerusalem, fallen under the judgment, and seek thy life where there seems to be only death. He who would save his life must lose it, and he who devotes it for the sake of the truth will save it.” Diedrich.

3. On Jeremiah 21:11-14. “To be such a king is to be an abomination to the Lord, and severe judgment will follow. God appoints magistrates for His service and for the use of men; he who only seeks his own enjoyment in office, is lost. Jerusalem, situated on rocks in the midst of a plain, looks secure; but against God neither rocks avail nor aught else. The fire will break out even in them, and consume all around, together with the forest of cedar-houses in the city. The corruption is seated within, and therefore proceeds from within outwards, so that nothing of the former stock can remain. What shall a government do which no longer bears the sword of justice? What shall a church do which is no longer founded on God’s truth as its only power?” Diedrich. Comp. moreover on the whole of Jeremiah 24. the extended moral reflections of Cyrillus Alex. περὶ τῆς ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθ. προσκυνήσεως. Lib. I.

4. On Jeremiah 22:1. “Jeremiah is to deliver a sermon at court, in which he reminds the king of his office of magistrate, in which he is to administer justice to every man.” Cramer.

It was no easy task for Jeremiah to go into the lions’ den and deliver such an uncourtly message to him. We are reminded of the prophet Jonah. But Jeremiah did not flee as he did.

5. On [“But we ought the more carefully to notice this passage, that we may learn to strengthen ourselves against bad examples, lest the impiety of men should overturn our faith; when we see in God’s church things in such disorder, that those who glory in the name of God are become like robbers, we must beware lest we become on this account alienated from true religion. We must, indeed, desert such monsters, but we must take care lest God’s word, through men’s wickedness, should lose its value in our esteem. We ought then to remember the admonition of Christ, to hear the Scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses’ seat ( Matthew 23:2).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

6. On [“Dying saints may be justly envied, while living sinners are justly pitied. And so dismal perhaps the prospect of the times may be, that tears even for a Josiah, even for a Jesus, must be restrained, that they may be reserved for ourselves and our children ( Luke 23:28).” Henry.—S. R. A.]

Nequaquam gentilis plangendus est atque Judæus, qui in ecclesia non fuerunt et simul mortui sunt, de quibus Salvator dicit: dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos ( Matthew 8:22). Sed eos plange, qui per scelera atque peccata egrediuntur de ecclesia et nolunt ultra reverti ad earn damnatione vitiorum.” Hieron. Epist. 46 ad Rusticam. “Nolite flere mortuum, sed plorate raptorem avarum, pecuniæ sitientem et inexplebilem auri cupidinem. Cur mortuos inutiliter ploramus? Eos ploremus, qui in melius mutari possunt.” Basilius Seleucensis. Comp. Basil, Magn. Homil. 4de Gratiarum actione post dimid.—Ghislerus.

7. On Jeremiah 22:6-9. “God does not spare even the authorities. For though He has said that they are gods, when they do not rightly administer their office they must die like men ( Psalm 82:6) … No cedars are too high for God, no splendor too mighty; He can destroy all at once, and overturn, and overturn, and overturn. Ezekiel 21:27,” Cramer.

Another passage from which it is seen how perverse and unjustifiable is the illusion that God’s election is a surety against His anger, and a permit to any wilfulness. The individual representatives of the objects of divine election should never forget that God can march over their carcases, and the ruins of their glory, to the fulfilment of His promise, and that He can rebuild on a higher stage, what He has destroyed on a lower. Comp. remarks on Jeremiah 22:24.

8. On Jeremiah 22:13-19. It is blasphemy to imagine that God will be frère et compagnon to all princes as such, and that He has a predilection for them as of His own kind. Does He not say to his majesty the king of Judah, with whom, in respect of the eminence of his dynasty and throne no other prince of earth could compare, that he should be buried like an ass, dragged and cast out before the gates of Jerusalem? This Jehoiakim was however an aristocrat, a heartless, selfish tyrant, who for his own pleasure trampled divine and human rights under foot. If such things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

“He who builds his house with other people’s property, collects stones for his grave.” Cramer.

9. On [“It was a proof of luxury when men began to indulge in superfluities. In old times the windows were small; for use only was regarded by frugal men; but afterwards a sort of madness possessed the minds of many, so that they sought to be suspended as it were in the air. And hence they began to have wider windows. The thing in itself, as I have said, is not what God condemns; but we must ever remember, that men never go to excesses in external things, except when their hearts are infected with pride, so that they do not regard what is useful, what is becoming, but are carried away by fondness for excess.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

10. On Jeremiah 22:15. “God may grant the great lords a preference in eating and drinking and the splendor of royal courts, but it is not His will that these be regarded as the main things, but that true religion, right and justice must have the precedence;—this is the Lord’s work. But cursed is he who does the Lord’s work remissly. Jeremiah 48:10.” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 22:17. “Description of haughty, proud, magnificent, merciless and tyrannical lords and rulers, who are accomplices of thieves.” Cramer.

12. On [“God would have burial a proof to distinguish us from brute animals even after death, as we in life excel them, and as our condition is much nobler than that of the brute creation. Burial is also a pledge as it were of immortality; for when man’s body is laid hid in the earth, it is as it were a mirror of a future life. Since then burial is an evidence of God’s grace and favor towards mankind, it is on the other hand a sign of a curse, when burial is denied.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

13. On Jeremiah 22:24. “Great lords often imagine that they not only sit in the bosom of God, but that they are a pearl in His crown; or as the prophet says here, God’s signet-ring. Therefore, it is impossible that they should not succeed in their designs. But God looks not on the person of the princes, and knows the magnificent no more than the poor. Job 34:19.” Cramer.

14. On [“What is idolized will, first or last, be despised and broken, what is unjustly honored will be justly contemned, and rivals with God will be the scorn of man. Whatever we idolize we shall be disappointed in, and then shall despise.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

“The compliment is a very poor one for a king, who thinks somewhat of himself, and to whom it in a certain measure pertains that he be honored….But here it is the word of the Lord, and in consideration of these words it is declared in 2 Chronicles 36:12, to be evil on the part of Zedekiah, that he did not humble himself before Jeremiah. Teachers must be much on their guard against assuming such purely prophetic, that Isaiah, extraordinary acts. It cost the servants of the Lord many a death, who were obliged thus to employ themselves, and when it is easy for one to ape it without a divine calling he thus betrays his frivolity and incompetence, if not his pride and delusion.” Zinzendorf.

15. On Jeremiah 22:28-30. Irenæus (Adv. Hær. 3:30) uses this passage to prove that the Lord could not have been Joseph’s natural Song of Solomon, for otherwise he would have fallen under the curse of this passage, and appear as one not entitled to dominion (“qui eum dicunt ex Joseph generatum et in eo habere spem, abdicatos se faciunt a regno, sub maledictione et increpatione decidentes, quæ erga Jechoniam et in semen ejus est”). Basil the Great (Epist. ad Amphilochium) endeavors to show that this passage, with its declaration that none of Jeconiah’s descendants should sit on David’s throne, is not in contradiction to the prophecy of Jacob ( Genesis 49:10), that a ruler should not be lacking from Judah, till He came for whom the nations were hoping. Basil distinguishes in this relation between dominion and royal dignity.—The former continued, the latter ceased, and this period of, so to speak, latent royalty, was the bridge to the present, in which Christ rules in an invisible manner, but yet in real power and glory as royal priest, and at the same time represents Himself as the fulfilment of the hope of the nations. In like manner John of Damascus concludes that according to this passage there could be no prospect of the fulfilment of the promise in Genesis 49:10, if Mary had not virgineo modo borne the scion of David, who however was not to occupy the visible throne of David. (Orat. II. in Nativ. B. Mariæ p. med.)—Ambrose finally (Comment. in Ev. Luc. L. III. cap. ult.) raises the question how Jeremiah could say, that ex semine Jechoniæ neminem regnaturum esse, since Christ was of the seed of Jeconiah and reigned? He answers: “Illic ( Jeremiah 22:30) futuros ex semine Jechoniæ posteros non negatur et ideo de semine ejus est Christus (comp. Matthew 1:11), et quod regnavit Christus, non contra prophetiam Esther, non enim seculari honore regnavit, nee in Jechoniæ sedibus sedit, sed regnavit in sede David.” Ghislerus.

16. On Jeremiah 23:2. “Nonnulli præsmles gregis quosdam pro peccato a communione ceiciunt, ut pæniteant, sed quali sorte vivere debeant ad melius exhortando non visitant. Quibus congrue increpans sermo divinus comminatur: pastores, qui pascunt populum meum, vos dispersistis gregem meum, ejecistis et non visitastis eum.” Isidor. Hisp. de summo bono she LL. sentt. Cap. 46. Ghislerus.

17. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. Eusebius (Dem. Ev. VII:9) remarks that Christ among all the descendants of David is the only one, who rules over the whole earth, and everywhere not only preaches justice and righteousness by His doctrine but is Himself also the author of the rising [of the Sun] of righteousness for all, according to Psalm 72:7 : ἀνατελεῖ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ δικαιοσύνη, καὶ πλῆθος εἰρήνης ἕως οὗ ἀνταναιρεθῇ σελήνη (LXX.) Cyril of Alex. (Glaphyr. in Gen. I. p133) explains Ἰωσεδέκ as justitia Dei, in so far as we are made righteous in Him, not for the sake of the works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His great mercy. Romans 3:24; Titus 3:5.

18. On [“If we regard God in Himself, He is indeed righteous, but not our righteousness. If we desire to have God as our righteousness, we must seek Christ; for this cannot be found except in Him. … Paul says that He has been given or made to us righteousness,—for what end? that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. ( 1 Corinthians 1:30). Since, then, Christ is made our righteousness, and we are counted the righteousness of God in Him, we hence learn how properly and fitly it has been said that He would be Jehovah, not only that the power of His divinity might defend us, but also that we might become righteous in Him, for He is not only righteous for Himself, but He is our righteousness.” Calvin. See also a long note in Wordsworth, to show that Jehovah our Righteousness refers to Christ;—S. R. A.]

“The character of a true church is when the Lytrum, the ransom-money of Jesus Christ, is known and valued by all, and when they have written this secret, foolish and absolutely inscrutable to reason, in the heart with the finger of the living God: that Jesus by His blood has taken away the sins of the world. ‘O let it ne’er escape my thought, at what a price my soul was bought.’ This is the evening and morning prayer of every church, which is a true sister from above.” Zinzendorf.

19. On Jeremiah 23:5-8. “The return under Ezra was also a fulfilment of this promise, but inferior and preliminary: not all came, and those who did come brought their sins back with them. They were still under the Law and had to wait for Righteousness; still in their return they had a pledge that the Messiah was yet to come and prepare the true city of peace. Now, however, all has been long fulfilled and we can enjoy it perfectly, if we have the mind for it. We have now a country of which no tyrant can rob us; our walk and citizenship is in heaven. We have been delivered from all our suffering, when we sit down at the feet of Jesus to hear His word. Then there is a power of resurrection within us, So that we can fly with our souls beyond the world and laugh at all our foes. For Christ has made us righteous by His daily forgiveness, so that we may also bring ourselves daily into heaven. Yea verily, the kingdom of heaven is come very nigh unto us! Jeremiah then longed to see and hear this more nearly, and now we can have it.” Diedrich.

20. On Jeremiah 23:9. “Great love renders God’s servant so ardent, that he deals powerful blows on the seducers. He does not think that he has struck a wasp’s nest and embittered his life here forever, for he has a higher life and gives the lower one willingly for love. Yet all the world will hold him for an incorrigible and mad enthusiast, who spares no one. He says himself that he is as it were drunk with God and His word, when he on the other hand contemplates the country.” Diedrich.

21. On Jeremiah 23:11. “They are rogues. They know how to find subterfuges, and I would like to see him who accuses a false and unfaithful teacher, and manages his own case so that he does not himself come into the dilemma.” Zinzendorf.

22. On Jeremiah 23:13-14. “In the prophets of Samaria I see folly. This is the character which the Lord gives to error, false religion, heterodoxy. But in the prophets of Jerusalem I find abomination. This is the description of the or thodox, when they apply their doctrine, so that either the wicked are strengthened or no one is converted.” Zinzendorf.

23. On Jeremiah 23:15. “From the prophets of Jerusalem hypocrisy goes forth into all the land. This is the natural consequence of the superiority, which the consistories, academies, ministers, etc, have and in due measure ought to have, that when they become corrupt they communicate their corruption to the whole region, and it is apparent in the whole land what sort of theologians sit at the helm.” Zinzendorf.

24. On Jeremiah 23:16. Listen not to the words of the prophets, they deceive you. Luther says (Altenb. Tom. II. p330): “But a Christian has so much power that he may and ought to come forward even among Christians and teach, where he sees that the teacher himself is wanting,” etc.; and “The hearers altogether have the right to judge and decide concerning all doctrine. Therefore the priests and liveried Christians have snatched this office to themselves; because, if this office remained in the church, the aforesaid could retain nothing for their own.” (Altenb. Tom. II. p508).—The exercise of this right on the part of members of the church has its difficulties. May not misunderstanding, ignorance, even wickedness cause this to be a heavy and unjust pressure on the ministers of the word, and thus mediately tend to the injury of the church? Certainly. Still it is better for the church to exercise this right than not to do so. The former is a sign of spiritual life, the latter of spiritual death. It will be easier to find a corrective for some extravagances than to save a church become religiously indifferent from the fate of Laodicea ( Revelation 3:16).

25. On [“But here a question may be raised, How can the common people understand that some speak from God’s mouth, and that others propound their own glosses? I answer, That the doctrine of the Law was then sufficient to guide the minds of the people, provided they closed not their eyes; and if the Law was sufficient at that time, God does now most surely give us a clearer light by His prophets, and especially by His Gospel.” Calvin—S. R. A.]

26. On Jeremiah 23:17. “The pastors, who are welcome and gladly seen at a rich man’s table, wish him in fact long life, good health, and all prosperity. What they wish they prophesy. This is not unnatural; but he who is softened by it is ill-advised.” Zinzendorf.

27. On [“There is a twofold call; one is internal, the other belongs to order, and may therefore be called external or ecclesiastical. But the external call is never legitimate, except it be preceded by the internal; for it does not belong to us to create prophets, or apostles, or pastors, as this is the special work of the Holy Spirit. … But it often happens that the call of God is sufficient, especially for a time. For when there is no church, there is no remedy for the evil, except God raise up extraordinary teachers.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

28. On Jeremiah 23:22. “If I knew that my teacher was a most abominable miscreant, personally, and in heart the worst enemy of God in his parish; so long as, for any reason, he preaches, expounds, develops, inculcates the word of God; even though he should betray here and there in his expressions, that this word was not dwelling in him; if only he does not ex professo at one time throw down what at another time he teaches of good and true quasi aliud agendo: I assure you before the Lord that I should fear to censure his preaching.” Zinzendorf.

29. On Jeremiah 23:23. “ God’s essential attribute is Omnipresence. For He is higher than heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? Longer than the earth and broader than the sea ( Job 4:8). And He is not far from every one of us ( Acts 17:27).” Cramer.—“We often think God is quite far from us, when He is yet near to us, has us in His arms, presses us to His heart and kisses us.” Luther.—“ When we think the Sun of righteousness, Jesus, is not risen, and is still behind the mountain, and will not come to us, He is yet nearest to us. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart. ( Psalm 34:19) ”—“Deus et omni et nullo loco “—” Cuncta Deus replens molem se fundit in omnem.” MS. notes to my copy of Cramer’s Bibel.—“ Si vis peccare, O homo, quære tibi locum, ubi Deus non videat.” Augustine.

30. On [“When any one rejects the wheat because it is covered with chaff, and who will pity him who says that he has indeed wheat on his floor, but that it is mixed with chaff, and therefore not fit for food? … If we be negligent, and think that it is a sufficient excuse for despising the Word of God, because Satan brings in his fallacies, we shall perish in our sloth like him who neglects to cleanse his wheat that he might turn it to bread.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

He who cannot restrain his mouth or his ink let him expectorate. But let him say openly and honestly that they are his own dreams, which he preaches. The false prophets certainly know that mere falsehood is empty straw. They therefore always mingle some of the genuine word of God amongst it. An unavailing mixture! It is in this mingling that Satan’s highest art is displayed, so that he at the same time furthers his own work and testifies against himself. Comp. Genesis 3

31. On Jeremiah 23:29. God’s word is the highest reality, life and power, while the dreams of the false prophets are pretence, death and weakness. God’s word is therefore compared to a fire which burns, warms, and enlightens, so that it burns up the hardest flint, melts the thickest ice, illuminates the deepest obscurities. It is compared further to a hammer which crushes the hardest rocks into sand.—He who mingles God’s wheat among his straw, will find that the wheat will become fire and burn up the straw ( 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). He Who handles the word of the Lord purely, let him not despair if he sees before him hearts of adamant ( Zechariah 7:12). He who seeks peace is not ashamed to bow beneath the hammer of the word. For the destructive power of the word applies to that in us which is opposed to God, while the God-related elements are loosed and set free by those very crushing blows.— Hebrews, however, to whom the peace of God is an object of derision, may feed on the straw of this world. But how will it be when finally the day comes that God will come upon him with fire and hammer? What then remains to him as the result of his straw-diet, which is in a condition to withstand the blows of the hammer and the fire?

Help, Lord, against Thy scornful foes,

Who seek our souls to lead astray;

Whose mockeries at mortal woes

Will end in terrible dismay!

Grant that Thy holy word may root

Deep in our hearts, and richer fruit

May ever bear to endless day.

“God’s word converts, all other doctrine befools.” Luther.

32. On Jeremiah 23:29. “God’s word in general is like a fire: the more it is urged the more widely and brightly it extends. God has caused His word to be proclaimed to the world as a matter, which they can dispense with as little as fire. Fire often smoulders long in secret before it breaks out, thus the power of the divine word operates in its time. God’s word can make people as warm as if glowing coals lay upon them; it shines as brightly upon them, as if a lamp were held under their eyes; it tells every one the truth and purifies from all vices. He who deals evilly with God’s word burns himself by it, he who opposes it is consumed by it. But the word of God is as little to blame as a lamp or a fire when an unskilful person is burned by it. Yet it happens that often it will not be suffered in the world, then there is fire in all the streets. That is the unhappy fire of persecution, which is kindled incidentally in the world by the preaching of the Gospel.” Jos. Conr. Schaller, Pastor at Cautendorf, Sermons on the Gospels, 1742.

33. On Jeremiah 23:30. “Teachers and preachers are not to steal their sermons from other books, but take them from the Bible, and testify that which they speak from their inward experience ( John 3:11). False teachers steal God’s word, inventing a foreign meaning for it, and using this for the palliation of their errors.” Starke—“Hinc illi ζῆλοι at auctions, who can obtain this or that good book, this or that manuscript? Here they are thus declared to be plagiarios; and they are necessarily so because they are not taught of God. But I would rather they would steal from true men of God than from each other.”—Zinzendorf.

34. On Jeremiah 23:33-40. “ When the word of God becomes intolerable to men, then men in their turn become intolerable to our Lord God; yea, they are no more than inutile pondus terræ, which the land can no more bear, therefore they must be winnowed out, Jeremiah 15:17.” Cramer.

35. On Jeremiah 24:5-7. “ He who willingly and readily resigns himself to the will of God even to the cross, may escape misfortune. But he who opposes himself to the hand of God cannot escape.” Cramer.—“The captives are dearest to God. By the first greater affliction He prepares their souls for repentance and radical conversion, so that He has in them again His people and inheritance. O the gracious God, that He allows even those who on account of sin must be so deeply degraded and rendered slaves, even in such humiliation to be His people! The captives are forgiven their opposition to God; they are separated from the number of nations existing in the world, politically they are dead and banished to the interior. Now, God will show them what His love can do; they shall return, and in true nearness to God be His true Israel.” Diedrich.

36. On [“Since He affirms that He would give them a heart to understand, we hence learn that men are by nature blind, and also that when they are blinded by the devil they cannot return to the right way, and that they cannot be otherwise capable of light than by having God to illuminate them by His Spirit. … This passage also shows, that we cannot really turn to God until we acknowledge Him to be the Judge; for until the sinner sets himself before God’s tribunal he will never be touched with the feeling of true repentance. … Though God rules the whole world. He yet declares that He is the God of the Church; and the faithful whom He has adopted He favors with this high distinction, that they are His people; and He does this that they may be persuaded that there is safety in Him, according to what is said by Habakkuk, ‘Thou art our God, we shall not die’ ( Habakkuk 1:12). And of this sentence Christ Himself is the best interpreter, when He says, that He is not the God of the dead, but of the living ( Luke 20:38).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:8. This text may be used on all occasions when an important decision is to be made or on the entrance on a new section of life, as, e. g., at synods, diets, New Years, beginning of the church-year, at confirmations, weddings, installations, etc. What the present day demands and promises: I. It demands from us an important choice. II. It promises us, according as we choose, life or death.

2. On Jeremiah 22:2-9. In how far the divine election is conditional and unconditional. I. It is conditional with respect to individual elected men, places, things. For1, these become partakers of the salvation promised by the election only by behaviour well-pleasing to God; 2, if they behave in a manner displeasing to God, the election does not protect them from destruction. II. The election is unconditional with respect to the eternal ideas lying at the foundation of the single appearances, and their absolute realizations.

3. On [Payson:—“The punishment of the impenitent inevitable and justifiable. I. To mention some awful instances in which God has verified this declaration: (a), the apostate angels; (b) our first parents; (c) destruction of mankind by the flood; (d) the children of Israel; (e) Moses, David, the disobedient prophet, Christ. II. Some of the reasons for such a declaration. Not a disposition to give pain or desire for revenge. It is the nature and tendency of sin to produce misery.”—S. R. A.]

4. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. The Son of David. What the prophet declares of Him is fourfold: 1. He will Himself be righteous; 2. He will rule well as king and execute judgment and righteousness; 3. He will be our righteousness; 4. Under Him shall Judah be helped and Israel dwell safely.

5. On [Lathrop: “The horrible guilt of those who strengthen the hands of the wicked1. All sin is horrible in its nature2. This is to oppose the government of the Almighty3. It directly tends to the misery of mankind4. It supports the cause of the Evil Spirit5. It is to become partakers of their sins6. It is horrible as directly contrary to the command of God, and marked with His peculiar abhorrence.”—S. R. A.]

6. On Jeremiah 23:23-24. The Omnipresence of God. 1. What it means. God is everywhere present, (a). He fills heaven and earth; (b) there is no removal from Him in space; (c) nothing is hidden from Him2. There is in this for us (a) a glorious consolation, (b) an earnest admonition. [Charnock, Jortin, and Wesley have sermons on this text, all of very similar outline. The following are Jortin’s practical conclusions; “ This doctrine1. Should lead us to seek to resemble God’s perfections2. Should deter us from sin3. Should teach us humility4. Should encourage us to reliance and contentment, to faith and hope.”—S. R. A.]

7. On Jeremiah 23:29-30. God’s Word and man’s word. 1. The former is life and power (wheat, fire, hammer). The latter pretence and weakness (dream, straw). 2. The two are not to be mixed with each other. [Cecil: This shows1. The vanity of all human imaginations in religion, (a). What do they afford to man? (b). How much do they hinder? 2. The energy of spiritual truth. Let us entreat God that our estimate may be practical.—S. R. A.]

8. On Jeremiah 24:1-10. The good and bad figs an emblem of humanity well-pleasing and displeasing to God. 1. The prisoners and broken-hearted are, like the good figs, well-pleasing to God. For (a) they know the Lord and turn to Him; (b) He is their God and they are His people2. Those who dwell proudly and securely are displeasing to God, like the bad figs. For (a) they live on in foolish blindness; (b) they challenge the judgment of God.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Jeremiah 23:1.—There is nothing remarkable in the absence of the article with רֹעִים, for this is generally the case with הוֹי. It occurs with the article in seven places only: Isaiah 5:20; Isaiah 10:1; Isaiah 29:15; Isaiah 31:1; Amos 5:18; Amos 6:1; Habakkuk 2:6. Of these places, the first six have the plural, one the singular, but in a collective signification.

FN#2 - Jeremiah 23:1.—מַרְעִית may designate both the act ( Hosea 13:6) the place ( Isaiah 49:9), and the object ( Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 25:36) of the pasturing. Hence צאן־מרעיתי (comp. Ezekiel 34:31; Psalm 74:1; Psalm 79:13; Psalm 100:3) may mean both: the flock which I pasture (as chief shepherd), and: the flock which feeds on my pasturage. The sense is essentially the same.

FN#3 - Jeremiah 23:2.—Here רֹעִים has the article, because the shepherds already mentioned ( Jeremiah 23:1) are meant.

FN#4 - Jeremiah 23:2.—כָּקַד is here used for the sake of a paronomasia in bonam (comp. Psalm 8:5; Exodus 3:16) and in malam partem (comp. Jeremiah 5:9; Jeremiah 25:12; Jeremiah 27:8; Hosea 1:4) comp. Zechariah 10:3.

FN#5 - Jeremiah 23:3.—נויהן Sing. Comp. Olsh, § 165, f. Since it is sheep which are spoken of, נָיֶה here as in 2 Samuel 7:8; Isaiah 65:10; Jeremiah 33:12; Ezekiel 25:5 = pascuum, place of pasturage, field. The fem, suffix is remarkable. Comp. Genesis 30:39; Naegelsb. Gr., § 60, 4.

FN#6 - Jeremiah 23:4.—יִהֵתּוּ Comp. Jeremiah 17:18.

FN#7 - Jeremiah 23:4.—יכּקדו. This word is frequently used of missing, scattered or robbed sheep, 1 Samuel 25:7; 1 Samuel 25:15; 1 Samuel 25:21; comp. 1 Samuel 20:18.

FN#8 - Jeremiah 23:5.—יהשׂכיל is best taken here in a double sense: rem bene, i. e., prudenter et feliciter geret. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 10:21; Isaiah 52:13.

FN#9 - Jeremiah 23:6.—The reading יִקְרְאוּ which is found in some Codd. is occasioned by the endeavor to obtain a designation of the subject, perhaps also by the rarer form of suffix. With respect to the former point the well-known idiom may be referred to, according to which the subject is usually wanting with קָרָא in the meaning “they call.” Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 101, 2, b. With respect to the latter comp. Hosea 8:3; Psalm 35:8; Ecclesiastes 4:12; Olsh, § 231, c.


Verses 9-15

2. Against the False Prophets ( Jeremiah 23:9-40.)

a. The Blind Leaders of the Blind

Jeremiah 23:9-15

9 Against the Prophets:—

Broken is my heart in my breast, all my bones quake,[FN10]

I am become like a drunken Prayer of Manasseh, and a man whom wine has overcome.

Because of Jehovah and because of his holy words.

10 For the land is full of adulterers.

(For on account of the curse[FN11] the land mourns,

The pastures of the desert are dried up:)

And their course is become evil and their might not right.

11 For both prophet and priest are profane,

Even in my house have I found their wickedness, saith Jehovah.

12 Therefore their way shall be to them as slippery places in the dark;

They shall be driven[FN12] that they fall therein;

For I shall bring calamity upon them in the year of their visitation,

Saith Jehovah.

13 Also in the prophets of Samaria have I seen perversity.[FN13]

They prophesied[FN14] by Baal and led my people Israel astray.

14 But in the prophets of Jerusalem I saw what is horrible;

Adultery and dealing in falsehood,—

They strengthened the hands of the evil-doers,

That they did not turn[FN15] every one from his wickedness.

They are all become to me like Sodom,

And their inhabitants like Gomorrah.

15 Therefore saith Jehovah Zebaoth thus concerning the prophets:

Behold, I feed them with absinthe [wormwood],

And give them poison-water to drink,

For from the prophets of Jerusalem profanation has gone out over the whole land.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The prophet begins by describing his feelings at the reception of this revelation. His sensations were those of a man of broken heart, or of a drunken man ( Jeremiah 23:9). By this introduction we obtain a standard, by which to measure the importance of the following passage. First the moral condition of the people is described as very bad, especially from the prevalence of adultery. (Punishment of this the prevalent drought) ( Jeremiah 23:10). How could it be otherwise when the spiritual leaders of the people, prophets and priests were themselves profane men, who even desecrated the sanctuary with their crimes? ( Jeremiah 23:11). Therefore in the corresponding period punishment must come upon them also ( Jeremiah 23:12). Even the prophets in Samaria had led the people of Israel astray by their scandalous behaviour ( Jeremiah 23:13). The prophets of Jerusalem, however, had in the point of popular seduction, accomplished something truly horrible. Not only had they gone before with their example of wickedness, but had actually strengthened the evil-doers in their wickedness and restrained them from conversion, so that the nation had become to the Lord like Sodom and Gomorrah ( Jeremiah 23:14). Therefore, as the profaners of the land, they must be given poison to drink and be fed with bitterness ( Jeremiah 23:15).

Jeremiah 23:9. Against the prophets … holy words. To connect, as indicated by the accents, broken with against the prophets, is not grammatically impossible (comp. ex. gr. Jeremiah 31:20), but not altogether appropriate in meaning. For a broken heart does not signify anger or indignation (which is the only state of mind Jeremiah could be supposed to be in towards the false prophets), but humiliation, anxiety, care. Comp. Psalm 34:19; 51:19; 60:21; Isaiah 61:1. But it becomes perfectly clear that we have here a superscription before us, when we observe that evidently the whole section, Jeremiah 23:9-40, as relating to the prophets, is opposed to the preceding as relating to the kings, that the title consequently states the main purport, not only of the next verses, but of the whole following discourse. Such superscriptions are moreover common in the book of this prophet: Jeremiah 46:2; Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 49:1; Jeremiah 49:7; Jeremiah 49:23; Jeremiah 49:28.—By holy words are meant the revelation contained in what follows. What shocked the prophet to such an unusual degree was doubtless a glance granted him into the depths of human depravity and on the other hand of the divine wrath. Comp. Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 8:18 sqq.

Jeremiah 23:10-12. For the land is full … visitation, saith Jehovah.—For is causal. But since the reason of the prophet’s great shock is not expressed in the next sentence only, but in the whole of what follows also, For is to be referred to the entire following discourse.—Adulterers.

That this crime prevailed most extensively is evident from Jeremiah 5:7-8; Jeremiah 9:1; Jeremiah 29:23. Where, however, אֱמוּנָה in this respect is not discovered, it is difficult to find it in other respects, and especially in relation to God. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 5:1.—For on account, etc. This sentence to dried up is to be regarded as a parenthesis. From the general calamity of drought may be argued the presence of a general guiltiness. Moreover, both the indication of the drought, which looks like a demonstratio ad oculos and the leading back to the false prophets ( Jeremiah 23:11), reminds us very strongly of Jeremiah 14:2; Jeremiah 14:13-18.—And their course is connected with “full of adulterers.” Their thought and endeavor generally (their walking and running, comp. Jeremiah 8:6; Proverbs 1:16; Isaiah 59:7; Romans 9:16) is directed to evil, therefore itself evil; they are strong only for that which is not right. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 8:6.—For both prophet, etc. This sentence states the reason why the moral corruption is so general: it cannot be otherwise, since the teachers and leaders of the people are not only themselves profane and godless, but practise their ungodliness even in the sanctuary, the most influential centre of theocratic life. Therefore the prophet says directly in Jeremiah 23:15, From the prophets of Jerusalem is gone forth profanation over the whole land. Evidently profanation is there used with reference to profane here. On the subject comp. Jeremiah 32:34; Ezekiel 8:3 sqq. The priests are moreover mentioned only incidentally; in the whole subsequent part of the discourse Jeremiah speaks only of the prophets. Perhaps the juxtaposition of the two is only a reminiscence from Jeremiah 14:18, where alone the expression occurs.—In the dark. Comp. Psalm 35:6 [Thomson, The Land and the Book, I, p106].—Year of visitation. Comp. Jeremiah 11:23. It is apparent from this expression that the visitation is still in the indefinite future.

Jeremiah 23:13-15. Also in the prophets of Samaria … over the whole land. In these verses it is more particularly shown how the corruption extended from the prophets over the whole country. At the same time its merited punishment is announced to them.—The ו here (Also) and at the beginning of Jeremiah 23:14 (But) correspond, but the whole sentences are not parallel, for it could not be said: Both in the prophets of Samaria I see perversity, and in the prophets of Jerusalem what is horrible, the latter clause containing a climax. The expression is founded on a mingling of two ways of speaking, “both in the prophets of Samaria I see what is bad, and in the prophets of Jerusalem,” and “in the prophets of Samaria I see תפלה, but in the prophets of Jerusalem evenשׁערורה.” Both are confounded in the sentence: both in the prophets of Samaria I see what is bad, and in the prophets of Jerusalem what is horrible.—We cannot well render these modes of expression word for word. Comp. the parallel, equally unfavorable for Judah, in Jeremiah 3:6-10.—By Baal. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 2:8.—Led astray. In this leading astray by moans of prophecy in the name of idols is the point of connection between Jeremiah 23:10-11.—Horrible. Comp. Jeremiah 5:30.—Strengthened, etc. They thus not only seduced the people into wickedness by their example, but sustained them therein by the authority of their example and detained them from repentance.—The subject of are become is the prophets, while their must refer to Jerusalem—The comparison with Sodom and Gomorrah is here as in Zephaniah 2:9, yet with this difference, that they are here the emblem of moral corruption, there of outward desolation.—Poison-water. Comp. Jeremiah 8:14; Jeremiah 9:14.—Profanation. Comp. Jeremiah 3:9. In this last causal sentence (for from the prophets of Jerusalem has profanation gone out), the fundamental though! of the strophe again comes out clearly.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:2. “King Zedekiah sends word to Jeremiah, that the Lord is to do according to all His miracles, that Nebuchadnezzar may withdraw. A demand rather cavalierly made in such evil circumstances. But the noble are so unfortunate! It is indeed as though it only depended on them to arrange matters with God; as if He were only waiting for them, as if it were a point of honor not to be over-hasty, but first to await a little extremity …. It is a very necessary observance for a servant of the Lord, that he try his superiors, whether there is any trace remaining in them of having been once baptized, well brought up and instructed in the fear of the Lord. If he observe anything of this kind, he must insist upon it and especially not allow them to deal too familiarly with the Judge of all the earth, but plainly demonstrate to them their insufficiency and nothingness, if they measure themselves by Him. Though Zedekiah had spoken so superficially, Jeremiah answered him without hesitation, definitely and positively, and accustomed him to a different manner of dealing with the Lord.” Zinzendorf. “When the ungodly desire God’s help, they commonly appeal not to His saving power to heal them, but to His miraculous power to save them, while they persist in their impenitence.” Starke.

2. On Jeremiah 21:8. “It is pure grace on the part of God, when He leaves to man the choice between the good and the evil; not that it is permitted him to choose the evil, but that he may choose freely the good, which he is under obligation to do, Deuteronomy 30:19.” Starke. “God lays before us the way of life and the way of death. The way of life is however always contrary to human reason, and that on which it sees merely death and shame. … If thou wilt save thyself thou must leave the false Jerusalem, fallen under the judgment, and seek thy life where there seems to be only death. He who would save his life must lose it, and he who devotes it for the sake of the truth will save it.” Diedrich.

3. On Jeremiah 21:11-14. “To be such a king is to be an abomination to the Lord, and severe judgment will follow. God appoints magistrates for His service and for the use of men; he who only seeks his own enjoyment in office, is lost. Jerusalem, situated on rocks in the midst of a plain, looks secure; but against God neither rocks avail nor aught else. The fire will break out even in them, and consume all around, together with the forest of cedar-houses in the city. The corruption is seated within, and therefore proceeds from within outwards, so that nothing of the former stock can remain. What shall a government do which no longer bears the sword of justice? What shall a church do which is no longer founded on God’s truth as its only power?” Diedrich. Comp. moreover on the whole of Jeremiah 24. the extended moral reflections of Cyrillus Alex. περὶ τῆς ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθ. προσκυνήσεως. Lib. I.

4. On Jeremiah 22:1. “Jeremiah is to deliver a sermon at court, in which he reminds the king of his office of magistrate, in which he is to administer justice to every man.” Cramer.

It was no easy task for Jeremiah to go into the lions’ den and deliver such an uncourtly message to him. We are reminded of the prophet Jonah. But Jeremiah did not flee as he did.

5. On [“But we ought the more carefully to notice this passage, that we may learn to strengthen ourselves against bad examples, lest the impiety of men should overturn our faith; when we see in God’s church things in such disorder, that those who glory in the name of God are become like robbers, we must beware lest we become on this account alienated from true religion. We must, indeed, desert such monsters, but we must take care lest God’s word, through men’s wickedness, should lose its value in our esteem. We ought then to remember the admonition of Christ, to hear the Scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses’ seat ( Matthew 23:2).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

6. On [“Dying saints may be justly envied, while living sinners are justly pitied. And so dismal perhaps the prospect of the times may be, that tears even for a Josiah, even for a Jesus, must be restrained, that they may be reserved for ourselves and our children ( Luke 23:28).” Henry.—S. R. A.]

Nequaquam gentilis plangendus est atque Judæus, qui in ecclesia non fuerunt et simul mortui sunt, de quibus Salvator dicit: dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos ( Matthew 8:22). Sed eos plange, qui per scelera atque peccata egrediuntur de ecclesia et nolunt ultra reverti ad earn damnatione vitiorum.” Hieron. Epist. 46 ad Rusticam. “Nolite flere mortuum, sed plorate raptorem avarum, pecuniæ sitientem et inexplebilem auri cupidinem. Cur mortuos inutiliter ploramus? Eos ploremus, qui in melius mutari possunt.” Basilius Seleucensis. Comp. Basil, Magn. Homil. 4de Gratiarum actione post dimid.—Ghislerus.

7. On Jeremiah 22:6-9. “God does not spare even the authorities. For though He has said that they are gods, when they do not rightly administer their office they must die like men ( Psalm 82:6) … No cedars are too high for God, no splendor too mighty; He can destroy all at once, and overturn, and overturn, and overturn. Ezekiel 21:27,” Cramer.

Another passage from which it is seen how perverse and unjustifiable is the illusion that God’s election is a surety against His anger, and a permit to any wilfulness. The individual representatives of the objects of divine election should never forget that God can march over their carcases, and the ruins of their glory, to the fulfilment of His promise, and that He can rebuild on a higher stage, what He has destroyed on a lower. Comp. remarks on Jeremiah 22:24.

8. On Jeremiah 22:13-19. It is blasphemy to imagine that God will be frère et compagnon to all princes as such, and that He has a predilection for them as of His own kind. Does He not say to his majesty the king of Judah, with whom, in respect of the eminence of his dynasty and throne no other prince of earth could compare, that he should be buried like an ass, dragged and cast out before the gates of Jerusalem? This Jehoiakim was however an aristocrat, a heartless, selfish tyrant, who for his own pleasure trampled divine and human rights under foot. If such things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

“He who builds his house with other people’s property, collects stones for his grave.” Cramer.

9. On [“It was a proof of luxury when men began to indulge in superfluities. In old times the windows were small; for use only was regarded by frugal men; but afterwards a sort of madness possessed the minds of many, so that they sought to be suspended as it were in the air. And hence they began to have wider windows. The thing in itself, as I have said, is not what God condemns; but we must ever remember, that men never go to excesses in external things, except when their hearts are infected with pride, so that they do not regard what is useful, what is becoming, but are carried away by fondness for excess.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

10. On Jeremiah 22:15. “God may grant the great lords a preference in eating and drinking and the splendor of royal courts, but it is not His will that these be regarded as the main things, but that true religion, right and justice must have the precedence;—this is the Lord’s work. But cursed is he who does the Lord’s work remissly. Jeremiah 48:10.” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 22:17. “Description of haughty, proud, magnificent, merciless and tyrannical lords and rulers, who are accomplices of thieves.” Cramer.

12. On [“God would have burial a proof to distinguish us from brute animals even after death, as we in life excel them, and as our condition is much nobler than that of the brute creation. Burial is also a pledge as it were of immortality; for when man’s body is laid hid in the earth, it is as it were a mirror of a future life. Since then burial is an evidence of God’s grace and favor towards mankind, it is on the other hand a sign of a curse, when burial is denied.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

13. On Jeremiah 22:24. “Great lords often imagine that they not only sit in the bosom of God, but that they are a pearl in His crown; or as the prophet says here, God’s signet-ring. Therefore, it is impossible that they should not succeed in their designs. But God looks not on the person of the princes, and knows the magnificent no more than the poor. Job 34:19.” Cramer.

14. On [“What is idolized will, first or last, be despised and broken, what is unjustly honored will be justly contemned, and rivals with God will be the scorn of man. Whatever we idolize we shall be disappointed in, and then shall despise.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

“The compliment is a very poor one for a king, who thinks somewhat of himself, and to whom it in a certain measure pertains that he be honored….But here it is the word of the Lord, and in consideration of these words it is declared in 2 Chronicles 36:12, to be evil on the part of Zedekiah, that he did not humble himself before Jeremiah. Teachers must be much on their guard against assuming such purely prophetic, that Isaiah, extraordinary acts. It cost the servants of the Lord many a death, who were obliged thus to employ themselves, and when it is easy for one to ape it without a divine calling he thus betrays his frivolity and incompetence, if not his pride and delusion.” Zinzendorf.

15. On Jeremiah 22:28-30. Irenæus (Adv. Hær. 3:30) uses this passage to prove that the Lord could not have been Joseph’s natural Song of Solomon, for otherwise he would have fallen under the curse of this passage, and appear as one not entitled to dominion (“qui eum dicunt ex Joseph generatum et in eo habere spem, abdicatos se faciunt a regno, sub maledictione et increpatione decidentes, quæ erga Jechoniam et in semen ejus est”). Basil the Great (Epist. ad Amphilochium) endeavors to show that this passage, with its declaration that none of Jeconiah’s descendants should sit on David’s throne, is not in contradiction to the prophecy of Jacob ( Genesis 49:10), that a ruler should not be lacking from Judah, till He came for whom the nations were hoping. Basil distinguishes in this relation between dominion and royal dignity.—The former continued, the latter ceased, and this period of, so to speak, latent royalty, was the bridge to the present, in which Christ rules in an invisible manner, but yet in real power and glory as royal priest, and at the same time represents Himself as the fulfilment of the hope of the nations. In like manner John of Damascus concludes that according to this passage there could be no prospect of the fulfilment of the promise in Genesis 49:10, if Mary had not virgineo modo borne the scion of David, who however was not to occupy the visible throne of David. (Orat. II. in Nativ. B. Mariæ p. med.)—Ambrose finally (Comment. in Ev. Luc. L. III. cap. ult.) raises the question how Jeremiah could say, that ex semine Jechoniæ neminem regnaturum esse, since Christ was of the seed of Jeconiah and reigned? He answers: “Illic ( Jeremiah 22:30) futuros ex semine Jechoniæ posteros non negatur et ideo de semine ejus est Christus (comp. Matthew 1:11), et quod regnavit Christus, non contra prophetiam Esther, non enim seculari honore regnavit, nee in Jechoniæ sedibus sedit, sed regnavit in sede David.” Ghislerus.

16. On Jeremiah 23:2. “Nonnulli præsmles gregis quosdam pro peccato a communione ceiciunt, ut pæniteant, sed quali sorte vivere debeant ad melius exhortando non visitant. Quibus congrue increpans sermo divinus comminatur: pastores, qui pascunt populum meum, vos dispersistis gregem meum, ejecistis et non visitastis eum.” Isidor. Hisp. de summo bono she LL. sentt. Cap. 46. Ghislerus.

17. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. Eusebius (Dem. Ev. VII:9) remarks that Christ among all the descendants of David is the only one, who rules over the whole earth, and everywhere not only preaches justice and righteousness by His doctrine but is Himself also the author of the rising [of the Sun] of righteousness for all, according to Psalm 72:7 : ἀνατελεῖ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ δικαιοσύνη, καὶ πλῆθος εἰρήνης ἕως οὗ ἀνταναιρεθῇ σελήνη (LXX.) Cyril of Alex. (Glaphyr. in Gen. I. p133) explains Ἰωσεδέκ as justitia Dei, in so far as we are made righteous in Him, not for the sake of the works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His great mercy. Romans 3:24; Titus 3:5.

18. On [“If we regard God in Himself, He is indeed righteous, but not our righteousness. If we desire to have God as our righteousness, we must seek Christ; for this cannot be found except in Him. … Paul says that He has been given or made to us righteousness,—for what end? that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. ( 1 Corinthians 1:30). Since, then, Christ is made our righteousness, and we are counted the righteousness of God in Him, we hence learn how properly and fitly it has been said that He would be Jehovah, not only that the power of His divinity might defend us, but also that we might become righteous in Him, for He is not only righteous for Himself, but He is our righteousness.” Calvin. See also a long note in Wordsworth, to show that Jehovah our Righteousness refers to Christ;—S. R. A.]

“The character of a true church is when the Lytrum, the ransom-money of Jesus Christ, is known and valued by all, and when they have written this secret, foolish and absolutely inscrutable to reason, in the heart with the finger of the living God: that Jesus by His blood has taken away the sins of the world. ‘O let it ne’er escape my thought, at what a price my soul was bought.’ This is the evening and morning prayer of every church, which is a true sister from above.” Zinzendorf.

19. On Jeremiah 23:5-8. “The return under Ezra was also a fulfilment of this promise, but inferior and preliminary: not all came, and those who did come brought their sins back with them. They were still under the Law and had to wait for Righteousness; still in their return they had a pledge that the Messiah was yet to come and prepare the true city of peace. Now, however, all has been long fulfilled and we can enjoy it perfectly, if we have the mind for it. We have now a country of which no tyrant can rob us; our walk and citizenship is in heaven. We have been delivered from all our suffering, when we sit down at the feet of Jesus to hear His word. Then there is a power of resurrection within us, So that we can fly with our souls beyond the world and laugh at all our foes. For Christ has made us righteous by His daily forgiveness, so that we may also bring ourselves daily into heaven. Yea verily, the kingdom of heaven is come very nigh unto us! Jeremiah then longed to see and hear this more nearly, and now we can have it.” Diedrich.

20. On Jeremiah 23:9. “Great love renders God’s servant so ardent, that he deals powerful blows on the seducers. He does not think that he has struck a wasp’s nest and embittered his life here forever, for he has a higher life and gives the lower one willingly for love. Yet all the world will hold him for an incorrigible and mad enthusiast, who spares no one. He says himself that he is as it were drunk with God and His word, when he on the other hand contemplates the country.” Diedrich.

21. On Jeremiah 23:11. “They are rogues. They know how to find subterfuges, and I would like to see him who accuses a false and unfaithful teacher, and manages his own case so that he does not himself come into the dilemma.” Zinzendorf.

22. On Jeremiah 23:13-14. “In the prophets of Samaria I see folly. This is the character which the Lord gives to error, false religion, heterodoxy. But in the prophets of Jerusalem I find abomination. This is the description of the or thodox, when they apply their doctrine, so that either the wicked are strengthened or no one is converted.” Zinzendorf.

23. On Jeremiah 23:15. “From the prophets of Jerusalem hypocrisy goes forth into all the land. This is the natural consequence of the superiority, which the consistories, academies, ministers, etc, have and in due measure ought to have, that when they become corrupt they communicate their corruption to the whole region, and it is apparent in the whole land what sort of theologians sit at the helm.” Zinzendorf.

24. On Jeremiah 23:16. Listen not to the words of the prophets, they deceive you. Luther says (Altenb. Tom. II. p330): “But a Christian has so much power that he may and ought to come forward even among Christians and teach, where he sees that the teacher himself is wanting,” etc.; and “The hearers altogether have the right to judge and decide concerning all doctrine. Therefore the priests and liveried Christians have snatched this office to themselves; because, if this office remained in the church, the aforesaid could retain nothing for their own.” (Altenb. Tom. II. p508).—The exercise of this right on the part of members of the church has its difficulties. May not misunderstanding, ignorance, even wickedness cause this to be a heavy and unjust pressure on the ministers of the word, and thus mediately tend to the injury of the church? Certainly. Still it is better for the church to exercise this right than not to do so. The former is a sign of spiritual life, the latter of spiritual death. It will be easier to find a corrective for some extravagances than to save a church become religiously indifferent from the fate of Laodicea ( Revelation 3:16).

25. On [“But here a question may be raised, How can the common people understand that some speak from God’s mouth, and that others propound their own glosses? I answer, That the doctrine of the Law was then sufficient to guide the minds of the people, provided they closed not their eyes; and if the Law was sufficient at that time, God does now most surely give us a clearer light by His prophets, and especially by His Gospel.” Calvin—S. R. A.]

26. On Jeremiah 23:17. “The pastors, who are welcome and gladly seen at a rich man’s table, wish him in fact long life, good health, and all prosperity. What they wish they prophesy. This is not unnatural; but he who is softened by it is ill-advised.” Zinzendorf.

27. On [“There is a twofold call; one is internal, the other belongs to order, and may therefore be called external or ecclesiastical. But the external call is never legitimate, except it be preceded by the internal; for it does not belong to us to create prophets, or apostles, or pastors, as this is the special work of the Holy Spirit. … But it often happens that the call of God is sufficient, especially for a time. For when there is no church, there is no remedy for the evil, except God raise up extraordinary teachers.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

28. On Jeremiah 23:22. “If I knew that my teacher was a most abominable miscreant, personally, and in heart the worst enemy of God in his parish; so long as, for any reason, he preaches, expounds, develops, inculcates the word of God; even though he should betray here and there in his expressions, that this word was not dwelling in him; if only he does not ex professo at one time throw down what at another time he teaches of good and true quasi aliud agendo: I assure you before the Lord that I should fear to censure his preaching.” Zinzendorf.

29. On Jeremiah 23:23. “ God’s essential attribute is Omnipresence. For He is higher than heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? Longer than the earth and broader than the sea ( Job 4:8). And He is not far from every one of us ( Acts 17:27).” Cramer.—“We often think God is quite far from us, when He is yet near to us, has us in His arms, presses us to His heart and kisses us.” Luther.—“ When we think the Sun of righteousness, Jesus, is not risen, and is still behind the mountain, and will not come to us, He is yet nearest to us. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart. ( Psalm 34:19) ”—“Deus et omni et nullo loco “—” Cuncta Deus replens molem se fundit in omnem.” MS. notes to my copy of Cramer’s Bibel.—“ Si vis peccare, O homo, quære tibi locum, ubi Deus non videat.” Augustine.

30. On [“When any one rejects the wheat because it is covered with chaff, and who will pity him who says that he has indeed wheat on his floor, but that it is mixed with chaff, and therefore not fit for food? … If we be negligent, and think that it is a sufficient excuse for despising the Word of God, because Satan brings in his fallacies, we shall perish in our sloth like him who neglects to cleanse his wheat that he might turn it to bread.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

He who cannot restrain his mouth or his ink let him expectorate. But let him say openly and honestly that they are his own dreams, which he preaches. The false prophets certainly know that mere falsehood is empty straw. They therefore always mingle some of the genuine word of God amongst it. An unavailing mixture! It is in this mingling that Satan’s highest art is displayed, so that he at the same time furthers his own work and testifies against himself. Comp. Genesis 3

31. On Jeremiah 23:29. God’s word is the highest reality, life and power, while the dreams of the false prophets are pretence, death and weakness. God’s word is therefore compared to a fire which burns, warms, and enlightens, so that it burns up the hardest flint, melts the thickest ice, illuminates the deepest obscurities. It is compared further to a hammer which crushes the hardest rocks into sand.—He who mingles God’s wheat among his straw, will find that the wheat will become fire and burn up the straw ( 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). He Who handles the word of the Lord purely, let him not despair if he sees before him hearts of adamant ( Zechariah 7:12). He who seeks peace is not ashamed to bow beneath the hammer of the word. For the destructive power of the word applies to that in us which is opposed to God, while the God-related elements are loosed and set free by those very crushing blows.— Hebrews, however, to whom the peace of God is an object of derision, may feed on the straw of this world. But how will it be when finally the day comes that God will come upon him with fire and hammer? What then remains to him as the result of his straw-diet, which is in a condition to withstand the blows of the hammer and the fire?

Help, Lord, against Thy scornful foes,

Who seek our souls to lead astray;

Whose mockeries at mortal woes

Will end in terrible dismay!

Grant that Thy holy word may root

Deep in our hearts, and richer fruit

May ever bear to endless day.

“God’s word converts, all other doctrine befools.” Luther.

32. On Jeremiah 23:29. “God’s word in general is like a fire: the more it is urged the more widely and brightly it extends. God has caused His word to be proclaimed to the world as a matter, which they can dispense with as little as fire. Fire often smoulders long in secret before it breaks out, thus the power of the divine word operates in its time. God’s word can make people as warm as if glowing coals lay upon them; it shines as brightly upon them, as if a lamp were held under their eyes; it tells every one the truth and purifies from all vices. He who deals evilly with God’s word burns himself by it, he who opposes it is consumed by it. But the word of God is as little to blame as a lamp or a fire when an unskilful person is burned by it. Yet it happens that often it will not be suffered in the world, then there is fire in all the streets. That is the unhappy fire of persecution, which is kindled incidentally in the world by the preaching of the Gospel.” Jos. Conr. Schaller, Pastor at Cautendorf, Sermons on the Gospels, 1742.

33. On Jeremiah 23:30. “Teachers and preachers are not to steal their sermons from other books, but take them from the Bible, and testify that which they speak from their inward experience ( John 3:11). False teachers steal God’s word, inventing a foreign meaning for it, and using this for the palliation of their errors.” Starke—“Hinc illi ζῆλοι at auctions, who can obtain this or that good book, this or that manuscript? Here they are thus declared to be plagiarios; and they are necessarily so because they are not taught of God. But I would rather they would steal from true men of God than from each other.”—Zinzendorf.

34. On Jeremiah 23:33-40. “ When the word of God becomes intolerable to men, then men in their turn become intolerable to our Lord God; yea, they are no more than inutile pondus terræ, which the land can no more bear, therefore they must be winnowed out, Jeremiah 15:17.” Cramer.

35. On Jeremiah 24:5-7. “ He who willingly and readily resigns himself to the will of God even to the cross, may escape misfortune. But he who opposes himself to the hand of God cannot escape.” Cramer.—“The captives are dearest to God. By the first greater affliction He prepares their souls for repentance and radical conversion, so that He has in them again His people and inheritance. O the gracious God, that He allows even those who on account of sin must be so deeply degraded and rendered slaves, even in such humiliation to be His people! The captives are forgiven their opposition to God; they are separated from the number of nations existing in the world, politically they are dead and banished to the interior. Now, God will show them what His love can do; they shall return, and in true nearness to God be His true Israel.” Diedrich.

36. On [“Since He affirms that He would give them a heart to understand, we hence learn that men are by nature blind, and also that when they are blinded by the devil they cannot return to the right way, and that they cannot be otherwise capable of light than by having God to illuminate them by His Spirit. … This passage also shows, that we cannot really turn to God until we acknowledge Him to be the Judge; for until the sinner sets himself before God’s tribunal he will never be touched with the feeling of true repentance. … Though God rules the whole world. He yet declares that He is the God of the Church; and the faithful whom He has adopted He favors with this high distinction, that they are His people; and He does this that they may be persuaded that there is safety in Him, according to what is said by Habakkuk, ‘Thou art our God, we shall not die’ ( Habakkuk 1:12). And of this sentence Christ Himself is the best interpreter, when He says, that He is not the God of the dead, but of the living ( Luke 20:38).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:8. This text may be used on all occasions when an important decision is to be made or on the entrance on a new section of life, as, e. g., at synods, diets, New Years, beginning of the church-year, at confirmations, weddings, installations, etc. What the present day demands and promises: I. It demands from us an important choice. II. It promises us, according as we choose, life or death.

2. On Jeremiah 22:2-9. In how far the divine election is conditional and unconditional. I. It is conditional with respect to individual elected men, places, things. For1, these become partakers of the salvation promised by the election only by behaviour well-pleasing to God; 2, if they behave in a manner displeasing to God, the election does not protect them from destruction. II. The election is unconditional with respect to the eternal ideas lying at the foundation of the single appearances, and their absolute realizations.

3. On [Payson:—“The punishment of the impenitent inevitable and justifiable. I. To mention some awful instances in which God has verified this declaration: (a), the apostate angels; (b) our first parents; (c) destruction of mankind by the flood; (d) the children of Israel; (e) Moses, David, the disobedient prophet, Christ. II. Some of the reasons for such a declaration. Not a disposition to give pain or desire for revenge. It is the nature and tendency of sin to produce misery.”—S. R. A.]

4. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. The Son of David. What the prophet declares of Him is fourfold: 1. He will Himself be righteous; 2. He will rule well as king and execute judgment and righteousness; 3. He will be our righteousness; 4. Under Him shall Judah be helped and Israel dwell safely.

5. On [Lathrop: “The horrible guilt of those who strengthen the hands of the wicked1. All sin is horrible in its nature2. This is to oppose the government of the Almighty3. It directly tends to the misery of mankind4. It supports the cause of the Evil Spirit5. It is to become partakers of their sins6. It is horrible as directly contrary to the command of God, and marked with His peculiar abhorrence.”—S. R. A.]

6. On Jeremiah 23:23-24. The Omnipresence of God. 1. What it means. God is everywhere present, (a). He fills heaven and earth; (b) there is no removal from Him in space; (c) nothing is hidden from Him2. There is in this for us (a) a glorious consolation, (b) an earnest admonition. [Charnock, Jortin, and Wesley have sermons on this text, all of very similar outline. The following are Jortin’s practical conclusions; “ This doctrine1. Should lead us to seek to resemble God’s perfections2. Should deter us from sin3. Should teach us humility4. Should encourage us to reliance and contentment, to faith and hope.”—S. R. A.]

7. On Jeremiah 23:29-30. God’s Word and man’s word. 1. The former is life and power (wheat, fire, hammer). The latter pretence and weakness (dream, straw). 2. The two are not to be mixed with each other. [Cecil: This shows1. The vanity of all human imaginations in religion, (a). What do they afford to man? (b). How much do they hinder? 2. The energy of spiritual truth. Let us entreat God that our estimate may be practical.—S. R. A.]

8. On Jeremiah 24:1-10. The good and bad figs an emblem of humanity well-pleasing and displeasing to God. 1. The prisoners and broken-hearted are, like the good figs, well-pleasing to God. For (a) they know the Lord and turn to Him; (b) He is their God and they are His people2. Those who dwell proudly and securely are displeasing to God, like the bad figs. For (a) they live on in foolish blindness; (b) they challenge the judgment of God.

Footnotes:

FN#10 - Jeremiah 23:9.—רחפו. kal here only. Elsewhere Piel only occurs; Genesis 1:2; Deuteronomy 32:11. The radical meaning seems to be flaccidus, debilis, mollis fuit. Comp. the Arabic rachapha=mollis, tenuis fuit, and רחם.

FN#11 - Jeremiah 23:10.—The LXX, Syriac, and Arab. read אֵלָה instead of אָלָה. So also Hitzig and Meier. אלָה, however, merely designates the effect as indirect, occasioned by the curse, with reference to Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Deuteronomy 29:19-28.

FN#12 - Jeremiah 23:12.—יִדִּהוּ from דָּחַה, comp. Olshausen, § 265 e.

FN#13 - Jeremiah 23:13.—תִפְלָה, insulsum, insipidum [unsavoriness]. Besides only in Job 1:22; Job 24:12.

FN#14 - Jeremiah 23:13.—הנבאו. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 23, Anm. 9; Ezekiel 37:10.

FN#15 - Jeremiah 23:14.—לבלתי שׁבו. This construction is found besides only in Jeremiah 27:18; Ezekiel 13:3. In Ezekiel 13:22, where these words are quoted, we read לְבִלְתִּי־שׁוּבּ, but we are not therefore to assume an error here. The finite verb is admissible, because a condition, which actually existed, is to be designated.


Verses 16-22

B. WARNING AGAINST DECEPTION BY THE PROPHETS

Jeremiah 23:16-22

16 Thus saith Jehovah Zebaoth,

Listen not to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you;

They deceive you.[FN16]

They speak their own heart’s vision, not from the mouth of Jehovah.

17 They say continually to my despisers:

Jehovah hath spoken,[FN17]“There shall be peace to you;”

And wherever one walketh[FN18] in the hardness of his heart,

There they say: no evil shall come upon you.

18 For he who hath stood in the counsel of Jehovah,

Let him perceive[FN19] and hear his word,

Let him who hath marked my word[FN20] proclaim it.[FN21]

19 Behold, a storm-wind of Jehovah!

Fury is gone forth[FN22]and whirling storm—

Upon the head of the ungodly it will be rolled.

20 The anger of Jehovah will not turn back,

Till he execute and carry out the plans of his heart.

At the end of days ye will become aware of this.

21 I sent not the prophets, yet they ran,

I spake not to them, yet they prophesied.

22 But had they stood in my counsel,

Then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,

And have brought them back from their wicked way,

And from the wickedness of their deeds.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The main thought is: warning against false prophets who deceive the people and proclaim what comes not from the mouth of the Lord but from their own heart ( Jeremiah 23:16). Thus they proclaim peace to the despisers of the Lord, and impunity to those who go about in the hardness of their heart ( Jeremiah 23:17). Thus too they betray themselves. For he to whom is granted the honor of receiving information concerning the counsel of the Lord, cannot do otherwise than proclaim the Lord’s word as he received it ( Jeremiah 23:18). But the word of the Lord never proclaims impunity to the despisers. Rather concerning these is to be expected a tempest of anger from the Lord, who will not rest till He has carried out all His plans. In the end of days this will indeed be marked ( Jeremiah 23:19-20). Thus they are not sent or commissioned by the Lord ( Jeremiah 23:21). But even had they, without receiving any express commission, only assisted as witnesses to the counsel of the Lord they would have proclaimed the word of the Lord to the people, and have turned them from their wicked way ( Jeremiah 23:22). The warning against the false prophets is thus occasioned by the admission of the double fact, that the Lord has not sent them, and that they have not been present at the counsel of the Lord or received information thereof. That the Lord has not sent them will be proved by His doing just the contrary of what they predicted. But that they have not at all entered into the counsel of the Lord is seen from this, that what they proclaimed to the people does not agree with the genuine word of the Lord, and that they have not labored to turn the people from their wicked way.

Jeremiah 23:18. For he who hath stood … proclaim it. There are two modes of explanation: 1. He who has stood in the counsel of God, he sees and hears my word, he who has marked my word let him proclaim it (Graf). 2. For who has stood in the counsel of the Lord? etc. The latter explanation would however either have the meaning, that no one had stood in the counsel of the Lord, which a prophet could not say, or we must take עמד בסוד in the sense of privately, without calling, assisting in the counsel of the Lord—which would be arbitrary and require before Jeremiah 23:18 the supplementation of the double thought: “such things have I not said to them, and they cannot have heard them in my counsel (quasi me invito).” Hence מִי can be taken in the sense of quisquis only according to the first mode of interpretation. (Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 79, 6). The connection is then as follows: Listen not to the prophets, they deceive you, for they proclaim their own thoughts, not my commissions, promising impunity to my despisers. For he who has stood in the counsel of the Lord, must proclaim the Lord’s word, which cannot possibly be favorable to His despisers. The point of the thought is therefore contained in Jeremiah 23:17 : The despisers of the service of Jehovah were well-known people. If prophets, who pretended to speak in the name of Jehovah, promised such impunity, they thus proved themselves indisputably to be deceivers.—To stand in the counsel is not to sit in the counsel ( Psalm 1:1). The latter designates assistance with an advisory voice.—Such an one is called אִישׁ עֵצָה, Isaiah 40:13. Comp. Romans 11:34. Standing in the counsel of the Lord, i. e. as hearers, is declared in the proper sense of prophets: Isaiah 6:1-8; 1 Kings 22:19-23.—Yet we shall not err, if we assume that Jeremiah wishes the expression here to be taken in a wider sense, in which sense Amos 3:7גָּלָה סוֹדוֹ is used. Comp. Psalm 25:14. For we cannot suppose that all the prophets received all their revelations in the form in which, according to the passages cited, Micah and Isaiah received those mentioned.—Let him perceive [see]. How can the word of the Lord be seen? A reference to Jeremiah 2:31; Ecclesiastes 1:16 does not seem to me satisfactory. Certainly the divine revelation might partly be seen in vision (comp. הֲזוֹן לִבָּם Jeremiah 23:16; Jeremiah 1:11; Jeremiah 1:13; Jeremiah 24:1), partly heard ( 1 Samuel 3:9-10); it could be received by the organ of the eye or the ear.—The effect of the seeing and hearing is indicated by “mark:” he who gives heed to my word, hears it not only with the outer but the inner ear, he may, etc.

Jeremiah 23:19-20. Behold. a storm-wind … aware of this. In antithesis to Jeremiah 23:17 it is here set forth, what the true intention of Jehovah is with respect to the people. Both verses are repeated Jeremiah 30:23-24.—A storm-wind of Jehovah, not physical but spiritual; an outburst of divine wrath is proclaimed by the prophet.—Upon the head. Comp. 2 Samuel 3:29.—Will not turn back. The storm will produce not merely a slight passing effect but a thoroughly destructive one. It will not cease till the will of the holy and just God is completely accomplished. Comp. Isaiah 45:23; Psalm 132:11.—At the end of days, etc. Comp. Genesis 49:1; Numbers 24:14; Deuteronomy 4:30; Deuteronomy 31:29; Isaiah 2:2; Jeremiah 48:47; Jeremiah 49:39. A contrast to the present is here involved: you do not now regard it as possible; at the end of days, however, i. e. at the conclusion of this section of history in which we live, you will indeed perceive it, viz., that it can and must be thus. End of days, therefore, expresses a relative idea. Comp. Jeremiah 23:12.

Jeremiah 23:21-22. I sent not … their deeds. A new and perfectly clear reason for the desolation in Jeremiah 23:16. How could those be true prophets whom the Lord sent not, to whom He spoke not? If, however, they should allege, that if not rite officially and de jure yet actually they had received information of the divine counsel, they must at least proclaim the word of Jehovah in its severity as hostile to the wicked and urging them to repentance. But since this is not the case they are irrefutably demonstrated to be false prophets and deceivers.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:2. “King Zedekiah sends word to Jeremiah, that the Lord is to do according to all His miracles, that Nebuchadnezzar may withdraw. A demand rather cavalierly made in such evil circumstances. But the noble are so unfortunate! It is indeed as though it only depended on them to arrange matters with God; as if He were only waiting for them, as if it were a point of honor not to be over-hasty, but first to await a little extremity …. It is a very necessary observance for a servant of the Lord, that he try his superiors, whether there is any trace remaining in them of having been once baptized, well brought up and instructed in the fear of the Lord. If he observe anything of this kind, he must insist upon it and especially not allow them to deal too familiarly with the Judge of all the earth, but plainly demonstrate to them their insufficiency and nothingness, if they measure themselves by Him. Though Zedekiah had spoken so superficially, Jeremiah answered him without hesitation, definitely and positively, and accustomed him to a different manner of dealing with the Lord.” Zinzendorf. “When the ungodly desire God’s help, they commonly appeal not to His saving power to heal them, but to His miraculous power to save them, while they persist in their impenitence.” Starke.

2. On Jeremiah 21:8. “It is pure grace on the part of God, when He leaves to man the choice between the good and the evil; not that it is permitted him to choose the evil, but that he may choose freely the good, which he is under obligation to do, Deuteronomy 30:19.” Starke. “God lays before us the way of life and the way of death. The way of life is however always contrary to human reason, and that on which it sees merely death and shame. … If thou wilt save thyself thou must leave the false Jerusalem, fallen under the judgment, and seek thy life where there seems to be only death. He who would save his life must lose it, and he who devotes it for the sake of the truth will save it.” Diedrich.

3. On Jeremiah 21:11-14. “To be such a king is to be an abomination to the Lord, and severe judgment will follow. God appoints magistrates for His service and for the use of men; he who only seeks his own enjoyment in office, is lost. Jerusalem, situated on rocks in the midst of a plain, looks secure; but against God neither rocks avail nor aught else. The fire will break out even in them, and consume all around, together with the forest of cedar-houses in the city. The corruption is seated within, and therefore proceeds from within outwards, so that nothing of the former stock can remain. What shall a government do which no longer bears the sword of justice? What shall a church do which is no longer founded on God’s truth as its only power?” Diedrich. Comp. moreover on the whole of Jeremiah 24. the extended moral reflections of Cyrillus Alex. περὶ τῆς ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθ. προσκυνήσεως. Lib. I.

4. On Jeremiah 22:1. “Jeremiah is to deliver a sermon at court, in which he reminds the king of his office of magistrate, in which he is to administer justice to every man.” Cramer.

It was no easy task for Jeremiah to go into the lions’ den and deliver such an uncourtly message to him. We are reminded of the prophet Jonah. But Jeremiah did not flee as he did.

5. On [“But we ought the more carefully to notice this passage, that we may learn to strengthen ourselves against bad examples, lest the impiety of men should overturn our faith; when we see in God’s church things in such disorder, that those who glory in the name of God are become like robbers, we must beware lest we become on this account alienated from true religion. We must, indeed, desert such monsters, but we must take care lest God’s word, through men’s wickedness, should lose its value in our esteem. We ought then to remember the admonition of Christ, to hear the Scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses’ seat ( Matthew 23:2).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

6. On [“Dying saints may be justly envied, while living sinners are justly pitied. And so dismal perhaps the prospect of the times may be, that tears even for a Josiah, even for a Jesus, must be restrained, that they may be reserved for ourselves and our children ( Luke 23:28).” Henry.—S. R. A.]

Nequaquam gentilis plangendus est atque Judæus, qui in ecclesia non fuerunt et simul mortui sunt, de quibus Salvator dicit: dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos ( Matthew 8:22). Sed eos plange, qui per scelera atque peccata egrediuntur de ecclesia et nolunt ultra reverti ad earn damnatione vitiorum.” Hieron. Epist. 46 ad Rusticam. “Nolite flere mortuum, sed plorate raptorem avarum, pecuniæ sitientem et inexplebilem auri cupidinem. Cur mortuos inutiliter ploramus? Eos ploremus, qui in melius mutari possunt.” Basilius Seleucensis. Comp. Basil, Magn. Homil. 4de Gratiarum actione post dimid.—Ghislerus.

7. On Jeremiah 22:6-9. “God does not spare even the authorities. For though He has said that they are gods, when they do not rightly administer their office they must die like men ( Psalm 82:6) … No cedars are too high for God, no splendor too mighty; He can destroy all at once, and overturn, and overturn, and overturn. Ezekiel 21:27,” Cramer.

Another passage from which it is seen how perverse and unjustifiable is the illusion that God’s election is a surety against His anger, and a permit to any wilfulness. The individual representatives of the objects of divine election should never forget that God can march over their carcases, and the ruins of their glory, to the fulfilment of His promise, and that He can rebuild on a higher stage, what He has destroyed on a lower. Comp. remarks on Jeremiah 22:24.

8. On Jeremiah 22:13-19. It is blasphemy to imagine that God will be frère et compagnon to all princes as such, and that He has a predilection for them as of His own kind. Does He not say to his majesty the king of Judah, with whom, in respect of the eminence of his dynasty and throne no other prince of earth could compare, that he should be buried like an ass, dragged and cast out before the gates of Jerusalem? This Jehoiakim was however an aristocrat, a heartless, selfish tyrant, who for his own pleasure trampled divine and human rights under foot. If such things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

“He who builds his house with other people’s property, collects stones for his grave.” Cramer.

9. On [“It was a proof of luxury when men began to indulge in superfluities. In old times the windows were small; for use only was regarded by frugal men; but afterwards a sort of madness possessed the minds of many, so that they sought to be suspended as it were in the air. And hence they began to have wider windows. The thing in itself, as I have said, is not what God condemns; but we must ever remember, that men never go to excesses in external things, except when their hearts are infected with pride, so that they do not regard what is useful, what is becoming, but are carried away by fondness for excess.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

10. On Jeremiah 22:15. “God may grant the great lords a preference in eating and drinking and the splendor of royal courts, but it is not His will that these be regarded as the main things, but that true religion, right and justice must have the precedence;—this is the Lord’s work. But cursed is he who does the Lord’s work remissly. Jeremiah 48:10.” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 22:17. “Description of haughty, proud, magnificent, merciless and tyrannical lords and rulers, who are accomplices of thieves.” Cramer.

12. On [“God would have burial a proof to distinguish us from brute animals even after death, as we in life excel them, and as our condition is much nobler than that of the brute creation. Burial is also a pledge as it were of immortality; for when man’s body is laid hid in the earth, it is as it were a mirror of a future life. Since then burial is an evidence of God’s grace and favor towards mankind, it is on the other hand a sign of a curse, when burial is denied.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

13. On Jeremiah 22:24. “Great lords often imagine that they not only sit in the bosom of God, but that they are a pearl in His crown; or as the prophet says here, God’s signet-ring. Therefore, it is impossible that they should not succeed in their designs. But God looks not on the person of the princes, and knows the magnificent no more than the poor. Job 34:19.” Cramer.

14. On [“What is idolized will, first or last, be despised and broken, what is unjustly honored will be justly contemned, and rivals with God will be the scorn of man. Whatever we idolize we shall be disappointed in, and then shall despise.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

“The compliment is a very poor one for a king, who thinks somewhat of himself, and to whom it in a certain measure pertains that he be honored….But here it is the word of the Lord, and in consideration of these words it is declared in 2 Chronicles 36:12, to be evil on the part of Zedekiah, that he did not humble himself before Jeremiah. Teachers must be much on their guard against assuming such purely prophetic, that Isaiah, extraordinary acts. It cost the servants of the Lord many a death, who were obliged thus to employ themselves, and when it is easy for one to ape it without a divine calling he thus betrays his frivolity and incompetence, if not his pride and delusion.” Zinzendorf.

15. On Jeremiah 22:28-30. Irenæus (Adv. Hær. 3:30) uses this passage to prove that the Lord could not have been Joseph’s natural Song of Solomon, for otherwise he would have fallen under the curse of this passage, and appear as one not entitled to dominion (“qui eum dicunt ex Joseph generatum et in eo habere spem, abdicatos se faciunt a regno, sub maledictione et increpatione decidentes, quæ erga Jechoniam et in semen ejus est”). Basil the Great (Epist. ad Amphilochium) endeavors to show that this passage, with its declaration that none of Jeconiah’s descendants should sit on David’s throne, is not in contradiction to the prophecy of Jacob ( Genesis 49:10), that a ruler should not be lacking from Judah, till He came for whom the nations were hoping. Basil distinguishes in this relation between dominion and royal dignity.—The former continued, the latter ceased, and this period of, so to speak, latent royalty, was the bridge to the present, in which Christ rules in an invisible manner, but yet in real power and glory as royal priest, and at the same time represents Himself as the fulfilment of the hope of the nations. In like manner John of Damascus concludes that according to this passage there could be no prospect of the fulfilment of the promise in Genesis 49:10, if Mary had not virgineo modo borne the scion of David, who however was not to occupy the visible throne of David. (Orat. II. in Nativ. B. Mariæ p. med.)—Ambrose finally (Comment. in Ev. Luc. L. III. cap. ult.) raises the question how Jeremiah could say, that ex semine Jechoniæ neminem regnaturum esse, since Christ was of the seed of Jeconiah and reigned? He answers: “Illic ( Jeremiah 22:30) futuros ex semine Jechoniæ posteros non negatur et ideo de semine ejus est Christus (comp. Matthew 1:11), et quod regnavit Christus, non contra prophetiam Esther, non enim seculari honore regnavit, nee in Jechoniæ sedibus sedit, sed regnavit in sede David.” Ghislerus.

16. On Jeremiah 23:2. “Nonnulli præsmles gregis quosdam pro peccato a communione ceiciunt, ut pæniteant, sed quali sorte vivere debeant ad melius exhortando non visitant. Quibus congrue increpans sermo divinus comminatur: pastores, qui pascunt populum meum, vos dispersistis gregem meum, ejecistis et non visitastis eum.” Isidor. Hisp. de summo bono she LL. sentt. Cap. 46. Ghislerus.

17. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. Eusebius (Dem. Ev. VII:9) remarks that Christ among all the descendants of David is the only one, who rules over the whole earth, and everywhere not only preaches justice and righteousness by His doctrine but is Himself also the author of the rising [of the Sun] of righteousness for all, according to Psalm 72:7 : ἀνατελεῖ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ δικαιοσύνη, καὶ πλῆθος εἰρήνης ἕως οὗ ἀνταναιρεθῇ σελήνη (LXX.) Cyril of Alex. (Glaphyr. in Gen. I. p133) explains Ἰωσεδέκ as justitia Dei, in so far as we are made righteous in Him, not for the sake of the works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His great mercy. Romans 3:24; Titus 3:5.

18. On [“If we regard God in Himself, He is indeed righteous, but not our righteousness. If we desire to have God as our righteousness, we must seek Christ; for this cannot be found except in Him. … Paul says that He has been given or made to us righteousness,—for what end? that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. ( 1 Corinthians 1:30). Since, then, Christ is made our righteousness, and we are counted the righteousness of God in Him, we hence learn how properly and fitly it has been said that He would be Jehovah, not only that the power of His divinity might defend us, but also that we might become righteous in Him, for He is not only righteous for Himself, but He is our righteousness.” Calvin. See also a long note in Wordsworth, to show that Jehovah our Righteousness refers to Christ;—S. R. A.]

“The character of a true church is when the Lytrum, the ransom-money of Jesus Christ, is known and valued by all, and when they have written this secret, foolish and absolutely inscrutable to reason, in the heart with the finger of the living God: that Jesus by His blood has taken away the sins of the world. ‘O let it ne’er escape my thought, at what a price my soul was bought.’ This is the evening and morning prayer of every church, which is a true sister from above.” Zinzendorf.

19. On Jeremiah 23:5-8. “The return under Ezra was also a fulfilment of this promise, but inferior and preliminary: not all came, and those who did come brought their sins back with them. They were still under the Law and had to wait for Righteousness; still in their return they had a pledge that the Messiah was yet to come and prepare the true city of peace. Now, however, all has been long fulfilled and we can enjoy it perfectly, if we have the mind for it. We have now a country of which no tyrant can rob us; our walk and citizenship is in heaven. We have been delivered from all our suffering, when we sit down at the feet of Jesus to hear His word. Then there is a power of resurrection within us, So that we can fly with our souls beyond the world and laugh at all our foes. For Christ has made us righteous by His daily forgiveness, so that we may also bring ourselves daily into heaven. Yea verily, the kingdom of heaven is come very nigh unto us! Jeremiah then longed to see and hear this more nearly, and now we can have it.” Diedrich.

20. On Jeremiah 23:9. “Great love renders God’s servant so ardent, that he deals powerful blows on the seducers. He does not think that he has struck a wasp’s nest and embittered his life here forever, for he has a higher life and gives the lower one willingly for love. Yet all the world will hold him for an incorrigible and mad enthusiast, who spares no one. He says himself that he is as it were drunk with God and His word, when he on the other hand contemplates the country.” Diedrich.

21. On Jeremiah 23:11. “They are rogues. They know how to find subterfuges, and I would like to see him who accuses a false and unfaithful teacher, and manages his own case so that he does not himself come into the dilemma.” Zinzendorf.

22. On Jeremiah 23:13-14. “In the prophets of Samaria I see folly. This is the character which the Lord gives to error, false religion, heterodoxy. But in the prophets of Jerusalem I find abomination. This is the description of the or thodox, when they apply their doctrine, so that either the wicked are strengthened or no one is converted.” Zinzendorf.

23. On Jeremiah 23:15. “From the prophets of Jerusalem hypocrisy goes forth into all the land. This is the natural consequence of the superiority, which the consistories, academies, ministers, etc, have and in due measure ought to have, that when they become corrupt they communicate their corruption to the whole region, and it is apparent in the whole land what sort of theologians sit at the helm.” Zinzendorf.

24. On Jeremiah 23:16. Listen not to the words of the prophets, they deceive you. Luther says (Altenb. Tom. II. p330): “But a Christian has so much power that he may and ought to come forward even among Christians and teach, where he sees that the teacher himself is wanting,” etc.; and “The hearers altogether have the right to judge and decide concerning all doctrine. Therefore the priests and liveried Christians have snatched this office to themselves; because, if this office remained in the church, the aforesaid could retain nothing for their own.” (Altenb. Tom. II. p508).—The exercise of this right on the part of members of the church has its difficulties. May not misunderstanding, ignorance, even wickedness cause this to be a heavy and unjust pressure on the ministers of the word, and thus mediately tend to the injury of the church? Certainly. Still it is better for the church to exercise this right than not to do so. The former is a sign of spiritual life, the latter of spiritual death. It will be easier to find a corrective for some extravagances than to save a church become religiously indifferent from the fate of Laodicea ( Revelation 3:16).

25. On [“But here a question may be raised, How can the common people understand that some speak from God’s mouth, and that others propound their own glosses? I answer, That the doctrine of the Law was then sufficient to guide the minds of the people, provided they closed not their eyes; and if the Law was sufficient at that time, God does now most surely give us a clearer light by His prophets, and especially by His Gospel.” Calvin—S. R. A.]

26. On Jeremiah 23:17. “The pastors, who are welcome and gladly seen at a rich man’s table, wish him in fact long life, good health, and all prosperity. What they wish they prophesy. This is not unnatural; but he who is softened by it is ill-advised.” Zinzendorf.

27. On [“There is a twofold call; one is internal, the other belongs to order, and may therefore be called external or ecclesiastical. But the external call is never legitimate, except it be preceded by the internal; for it does not belong to us to create prophets, or apostles, or pastors, as this is the special work of the Holy Spirit. … But it often happens that the call of God is sufficient, especially for a time. For when there is no church, there is no remedy for the evil, except God raise up extraordinary teachers.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

28. On Jeremiah 23:22. “If I knew that my teacher was a most abominable miscreant, personally, and in heart the worst enemy of God in his parish; so long as, for any reason, he preaches, expounds, develops, inculcates the word of God; even though he should betray here and there in his expressions, that this word was not dwelling in him; if only he does not ex professo at one time throw down what at another time he teaches of good and true quasi aliud agendo: I assure you before the Lord that I should fear to censure his preaching.” Zinzendorf.

29. On Jeremiah 23:23. “ God’s essential attribute is Omnipresence. For He is higher than heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? Longer than the earth and broader than the sea ( Job 4:8). And He is not far from every one of us ( Acts 17:27).” Cramer.—“We often think God is quite far from us, when He is yet near to us, has us in His arms, presses us to His heart and kisses us.” Luther.—“ When we think the Sun of righteousness, Jesus, is not risen, and is still behind the mountain, and will not come to us, He is yet nearest to us. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart. ( Psalm 34:19) ”—“Deus et omni et nullo loco “—” Cuncta Deus replens molem se fundit in omnem.” MS. notes to my copy of Cramer’s Bibel.—“ Si vis peccare, O homo, quære tibi locum, ubi Deus non videat.” Augustine.

30. On [“When any one rejects the wheat because it is covered with chaff, and who will pity him who says that he has indeed wheat on his floor, but that it is mixed with chaff, and therefore not fit for food? … If we be negligent, and think that it is a sufficient excuse for despising the Word of God, because Satan brings in his fallacies, we shall perish in our sloth like him who neglects to cleanse his wheat that he might turn it to bread.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

He who cannot restrain his mouth or his ink let him expectorate. But let him say openly and honestly that they are his own dreams, which he preaches. The false prophets certainly know that mere falsehood is empty straw. They therefore always mingle some of the genuine word of God amongst it. An unavailing mixture! It is in this mingling that Satan’s highest art is displayed, so that he at the same time furthers his own work and testifies against himself. Comp. Genesis 3

31. On Jeremiah 23:29. God’s word is the highest reality, life and power, while the dreams of the false prophets are pretence, death and weakness. God’s word is therefore compared to a fire which burns, warms, and enlightens, so that it burns up the hardest flint, melts the thickest ice, illuminates the deepest obscurities. It is compared further to a hammer which crushes the hardest rocks into sand.—He who mingles God’s wheat among his straw, will find that the wheat will become fire and burn up the straw ( 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). He Who handles the word of the Lord purely, let him not despair if he sees before him hearts of adamant ( Zechariah 7:12). He who seeks peace is not ashamed to bow beneath the hammer of the word. For the destructive power of the word applies to that in us which is opposed to God, while the God-related elements are loosed and set free by those very crushing blows.— Hebrews, however, to whom the peace of God is an object of derision, may feed on the straw of this world. But how will it be when finally the day comes that God will come upon him with fire and hammer? What then remains to him as the result of his straw-diet, which is in a condition to withstand the blows of the hammer and the fire?

Help, Lord, against Thy scornful foes,

Who seek our souls to lead astray;

Whose mockeries at mortal woes

Will end in terrible dismay!

Grant that Thy holy word may root

Deep in our hearts, and richer fruit

May ever bear to endless day.

“God’s word converts, all other doctrine befools.” Luther.

32. On Jeremiah 23:29. “God’s word in general is like a fire: the more it is urged the more widely and brightly it extends. God has caused His word to be proclaimed to the world as a matter, which they can dispense with as little as fire. Fire often smoulders long in secret before it breaks out, thus the power of the divine word operates in its time. God’s word can make people as warm as if glowing coals lay upon them; it shines as brightly upon them, as if a lamp were held under their eyes; it tells every one the truth and purifies from all vices. He who deals evilly with God’s word burns himself by it, he who opposes it is consumed by it. But the word of God is as little to blame as a lamp or a fire when an unskilful person is burned by it. Yet it happens that often it will not be suffered in the world, then there is fire in all the streets. That is the unhappy fire of persecution, which is kindled incidentally in the world by the preaching of the Gospel.” Jos. Conr. Schaller, Pastor at Cautendorf, Sermons on the Gospels, 1742.

33. On Jeremiah 23:30. “Teachers and preachers are not to steal their sermons from other books, but take them from the Bible, and testify that which they speak from their inward experience ( John 3:11). False teachers steal God’s word, inventing a foreign meaning for it, and using this for the palliation of their errors.” Starke—“Hinc illi ζῆλοι at auctions, who can obtain this or that good book, this or that manuscript? Here they are thus declared to be plagiarios; and they are necessarily so because they are not taught of God. But I would rather they would steal from true men of God than from each other.”—Zinzendorf.

34. On Jeremiah 23:33-40. “ When the word of God becomes intolerable to men, then men in their turn become intolerable to our Lord God; yea, they are no more than inutile pondus terræ, which the land can no more bear, therefore they must be winnowed out, Jeremiah 15:17.” Cramer.

35. On Jeremiah 24:5-7. “ He who willingly and readily resigns himself to the will of God even to the cross, may escape misfortune. But he who opposes himself to the hand of God cannot escape.” Cramer.—“The captives are dearest to God. By the first greater affliction He prepares their souls for repentance and radical conversion, so that He has in them again His people and inheritance. O the gracious God, that He allows even those who on account of sin must be so deeply degraded and rendered slaves, even in such humiliation to be His people! The captives are forgiven their opposition to God; they are separated from the number of nations existing in the world, politically they are dead and banished to the interior. Now, God will show them what His love can do; they shall return, and in true nearness to God be His true Israel.” Diedrich.

36. On [“Since He affirms that He would give them a heart to understand, we hence learn that men are by nature blind, and also that when they are blinded by the devil they cannot return to the right way, and that they cannot be otherwise capable of light than by having God to illuminate them by His Spirit. … This passage also shows, that we cannot really turn to God until we acknowledge Him to be the Judge; for until the sinner sets himself before God’s tribunal he will never be touched with the feeling of true repentance. … Though God rules the whole world. He yet declares that He is the God of the Church; and the faithful whom He has adopted He favors with this high distinction, that they are His people; and He does this that they may be persuaded that there is safety in Him, according to what is said by Habakkuk, ‘Thou art our God, we shall not die’ ( Habakkuk 1:12). And of this sentence Christ Himself is the best interpreter, when He says, that He is not the God of the dead, but of the living ( Luke 20:38).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:8. This text may be used on all occasions when an important decision is to be made or on the entrance on a new section of life, as, e. g., at synods, diets, New Years, beginning of the church-year, at confirmations, weddings, installations, etc. What the present day demands and promises: I. It demands from us an important choice. II. It promises us, according as we choose, life or death.

2. On Jeremiah 22:2-9. In how far the divine election is conditional and unconditional. I. It is conditional with respect to individual elected men, places, things. For1, these become partakers of the salvation promised by the election only by behaviour well-pleasing to God; 2, if they behave in a manner displeasing to God, the election does not protect them from destruction. II. The election is unconditional with respect to the eternal ideas lying at the foundation of the single appearances, and their absolute realizations.

3. On [Payson:—“The punishment of the impenitent inevitable and justifiable. I. To mention some awful instances in which God has verified this declaration: (a), the apostate angels; (b) our first parents; (c) destruction of mankind by the flood; (d) the children of Israel; (e) Moses, David, the disobedient prophet, Christ. II. Some of the reasons for such a declaration. Not a disposition to give pain or desire for revenge. It is the nature and tendency of sin to produce misery.”—S. R. A.]

4. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. The Son of David. What the prophet declares of Him is fourfold: 1. He will Himself be righteous; 2. He will rule well as king and execute judgment and righteousness; 3. He will be our righteousness; 4. Under Him shall Judah be helped and Israel dwell safely.

5. On [Lathrop: “The horrible guilt of those who strengthen the hands of the wicked1. All sin is horrible in its nature2. This is to oppose the government of the Almighty3. It directly tends to the misery of mankind4. It supports the cause of the Evil Spirit5. It is to become partakers of their sins6. It is horrible as directly contrary to the command of God, and marked with His peculiar abhorrence.”—S. R. A.]

6. On Jeremiah 23:23-24. The Omnipresence of God. 1. What it means. God is everywhere present, (a). He fills heaven and earth; (b) there is no removal from Him in space; (c) nothing is hidden from Him2. There is in this for us (a) a glorious consolation, (b) an earnest admonition. [Charnock, Jortin, and Wesley have sermons on this text, all of very similar outline. The following are Jortin’s practical conclusions; “ This doctrine1. Should lead us to seek to resemble God’s perfections2. Should deter us from sin3. Should teach us humility4. Should encourage us to reliance and contentment, to faith and hope.”—S. R. A.]

7. On Jeremiah 23:29-30. God’s Word and man’s word. 1. The former is life and power (wheat, fire, hammer). The latter pretence and weakness (dream, straw). 2. The two are not to be mixed with each other. [Cecil: This shows1. The vanity of all human imaginations in religion, (a). What do they afford to man? (b). How much do they hinder? 2. The energy of spiritual truth. Let us entreat God that our estimate may be practical.—S. R. A.]

8. On Jeremiah 24:1-10. The good and bad figs an emblem of humanity well-pleasing and displeasing to God. 1. The prisoners and broken-hearted are, like the good figs, well-pleasing to God. For (a) they know the Lord and turn to Him; (b) He is their God and they are His people2. Those who dwell proudly and securely are displeasing to God, like the bad figs. For (a) they live on in foolish blindness; (b) they challenge the judgment of God.

Footnotes:

FN#16 - Jeremiah 23:16.—מהבליםמ, Hiph. here only. The Kal in Jeremiah 2:5; 2 Kings 17:15; Psalm 62:11; Job 27:12. He who renders another frivolous, so that his mind is directed to what is frivolous, has led him astray, deceived him. Comp. Jeremiah 14:14; Ezekiel 13:2-3.

FN#17 - Jeremiah 23:17.—אמרים אמור ונו. On the construction comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 97, 1, a, Anm.—Instead of דִּבֶּר the LXX. and Syriac, according to the view of some, read דִּבַר. But they might have taken דִּבֵּר itself as a subst.=דָּבָר, as in Hosea 1:2; Jeremiah 5:13. The LXX. also connect the word with the preceding: τοῖς ἀπωθουμένοις λόγον κυρίου, while the Syriac translates: dicunt iis, qui me exasperant; ex oraculo Domini pax erit vobis. דִּבֶּר יי׳ certainly never stands as an introductory formula (=כִּה אָמַ ר): it most prevalently stands after אשׁר or באשׁר. But as Jeremiah was quoting the words of the Pseudo-prophets he may have purposely avoided the current formula of the true prophets. As the more difficult reading then דִּבֶּךּ deserves the preference.

FN#18 - Jeremiah 23:17.—וכל הלך. The construction is not to be explained by the effect of the לְ before סנאצי, but the participle is used absolutely as it is frequently, especially after כֹל. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 97, 2 b.

FN#19 - Jeremiah 23:18.—וירא. Jussive apodosis. On the Vau comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 111, 1 b.

FN#20 - Jeremiah 23:18.—דברי. The Masoretes unnecessarily alter into דברו. הקשׁיב with the accus. in Job 13:6; Psalm 17:1; Psalm 61:2.>

FN#21 - Jeremiah 23:18.—If we take מִי, as we have done, as a relative pronoun, and read וַיִשְׁמָ‍ֽע, the apodosis is wanting to the second clause. From this reading it appears that the Masoretes took מִי for an interrogative. By comparison with Jeremiah 9:11, and with Jeremiah 23:22 below, it is thus seen that we are to punctuate וִיִשְמָ‍ֽע (comp. Judges 18:25), he may cause to hear, may proclaim.

FN#22 - Jeremiah 23:19.—הֵמָה is in explicative apposition. יָצ‍ֽאָה to be taken as a perfect: the hurricane has already burst forth.


Verses 23-32

C. THE CRIMINAL MINGLING OF MAN’S WORD AND GOD’S WORD

Jeremiah 23:23-32

23 Am I a God at hand? saith Jehovah,

And not a God at a distance?[FN23]

24 If a man conceal himself in a hiding place,

Shall I not see him? saith Jehovah.

Am I not Hebrews, who filleth heaven and earth? saith Jehovah.

25 I have heard what the prophets say,

Who prophesy falsely in my name;

“I have dreamed, I have dreamed.”

26 How long still is the fire in the heart of the prophets,

Who prophesy falsehood,—

The prophets of the deceit of their own heart?

27 Who make the endeavor[FN24] to cause my people

To forget[FN25] my name by their dreams,

Which they relate one to another,

As their fathers forgot my name through Baal.

28 Let the prophet, to whom a dream came, relate the dream,

Let him to whom my word came, relate my word truly.[FN26]

What has the straw to do with the grain? saith Jehovah.

29 Is not my word just like the fire? saith Jehovah,

And like the hammer, which breaketh rocks in pieces?

30 Therefore behold, I am against the prophets, saith Jehovah,

Who steal my words one from another!

31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith Jehovah,

Who take their tongue and pronounce oracles.[FN27]

32 Behold, I am against them, who prophesy false dreams, saith Jehovah,

And relate them and lead my people astray,

By their falsehood and by their boasting.[FN28]

I had not sent them nor commissioned them,

They can also be of no profit to this people, saith Jehovah.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

As though the exalted ( Jeremiah 23:23) and omniscient God, who fills heaven and earth would know nothing of it ( Jeremiah 23:24), the false prophets dared to give forth their dreams as the word of God ( Jeremiah 23:25). How long will this unreason, which is at the same time deception and self-deception, last? ( Jeremiah 23:26). How long will they seek by their dreams to bring Jehovah into oblivion among the people, as their fathers forgot Him for Baal? ( Jeremiah 23:27). With this is associated a second mischief, that they give out the dream not as their dream, but as Jehovah’s word is to be proclaimed as such, connect this with their productions, though they have no more relation than the straw has to the grain ( Jeremiah 23:28), or to the fire, or the rock-crushing hammer ( Jeremiah 23:29). Hence the prophet finally formulates a triple charge against the prophets: 1. They steal God’s words ( Jeremiah 23:31); 2. They ape the form of genuine prophecy; 3. They lead the people astray by their lying dreams.

Jeremiah 23:23-24. Am I a God … saith Jehovah. The audacity of the false prophets, who did not fear to cover themselves with the name of Jehovah, is founded on the delusion that He was not in a condition to perceive their presumption. They regard the Lord as a God, who is only able to behold that which is near, i.e. can overlook only a limited domain. In opposition to this the Lord calls Himself אלהי מרחק, i. e. a God who takes note of that which occurs even in the remotest distance, who from His throne in heaven overlooks also the earth, because as filling heaven and earth He is present in both. Comp. Amos 9:2-4; Job 11:8-9; Psalm 139:7-12.

Jeremiah 23:25. I have heard … dreamed. This is the main charge, the sin which stands first in view of the omnipresent and omniscient God. Dreams were in themselves an acknowledged and legitimate medium of divine revelation. Comp. Numbers 12:6; 1 Samuel 28:6; 1 Samuel 28:15; Joel 3:1; Daniel 7:1. But they occupy a low stage among the forms of divine communication. Comp. Knobel, Proph. d. Hebr., I, S. 174sqq. Herzog, Real-Enc., XVI, S. 297 ff.; Delitzsch, Psychologie, Kap. IV, § 14.—These false prophets always speak only of their dreams as the media of their divine illumination. Of course ! For the dream is most withdrawn from the control of other men. Nothing is easier than to say, Last night I dreamed this or that. Who can refute it? The prophets thus make an immoderate and in itself suspicious use of dreams. They are dreamers, and it is remarkable that in Deuteronomy 13:1; Deuteronomy 13:3, נָבִיא by which there a false prophet is always meant, is regularly distinguished also as הֹלֵם חֲלםֹ, a dreamer of dreams. [“Although it pleased God to reveal Himself sometimes in dreams to His faithful people of old, yet when false prophets arose, who opposed the true, such revelations were rare. We have no instance of them in Isaiah,, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel, or other prophets who were opposed by false prophets.” Wordsworth.—S. R. A.]

Jeremiah 23:26-27. How long … through Baal. By how long the Lord makes known that the conduct of these prophets, which is more particularly described in these two verses, is intolerable to Him. Great difficulty is caused by חֲיֵשׁ. The ancient translations coolly omit the הֲ and make it otherwise convenient to themselves. Vulg. and Chald.: usque quo istud est in corde, etc. LXX.: ἕως πότε ἔσται ἐν καρδίᾳ, etc. Syr.: quousque erunt in ore falsorum prophetarum prophetic falsæ?—The interpretations which adhere to the text are three: 1. The question is asked by a double interrogative מָתַי and הֲ, which, however, amounts to this that the latter is quite superfluous. Hitzig appeals indeed to Jeremiah 48:27 and Micah 6:10. But in neither of these places is there a double interrogative. Besides the subject is wanting, and the thought: How long have they still the material for dreams? is certainly strange2. נְבְּיאֵי and נְבִיאֵי are rendered according to the construction וַיָחֶל נֹחַ אִישׁ הָאֲדָמָה, Genesis 9:20. Comp. Ewald, § 298 b, Naegelsb. Gr., § 95, g, Anm. Thus Ewald and Meier. But apart from this that both ignore the interrogative He, the construction with יֵשׁ is without a precedent, forced and feeble in sense, for it seems as though the Lord expected an alteration in these prophets, though He had previously represented them as incurably corrupt (comp. Jeremiah 23:11; Jeremiah 23:14), and according to Jeremiah 23:27, expects nothing from them but the endeavor to bring Him into forgetfulness among the people. Is the thought suitable in this connection: “How long do the prophets purpose to be false prophets?” (Meier). 3. The interpretation is most satisfactory which was first offered by Ludwig de Dieu and adopted by Seb. Schmidt, Chr. B. Michaelis, Rosen mueller, Umbreit, Graf and others, according to which עד מתי is to be rendered as an independent sentence (=how long still will this last?) תֲיֵשׁ בְּלֵב to be taken as = have in mind? and תַהשְׁבִים, Jeremiah 23:27, to be regarded as a resumption of the question interrupted by the words following בלב: have in mind the prophets, who …. think they, to make my people forget? Although this interpretation gives a sense which is tolerably satisfactory, it is opposed by the grammatical difficulty, that תֵם should stand after ההשׁבים as a recapitulation of the subject, which could not be absent after the interruption and the removal thereby effected of the proper subject. If then this interpretation also is not perfectly satisfactory, it is natural to suppose that the test is faulty. Should we not read הָאֵשׁ instead of קִהֲיֵשׁ Jeremiah had above, Jeremiah 20:9, compared the irresistible impulse to proclaim the word of the Lord, to a fire burning in his heart. Could not he who loves to quote himself, and who knows how to wield the weapon of irony against his opponents, in order to set forth incisively the difference between the true and false prophets, ironically presuppose in the latter what, as he well knew, was possessed only by the true prophets? Hebrews, staggering under the burden of persecution, had said ( Jeremiah 20:9): “I will not speak any more in His name,” but he was obliged to do so. Those who ought not compelled themselves to prophesy in the name of Jehovah. Did then such a fire burn also in their hearts? And if Song of Solomon, how long will it continue? Every one is summoned by these questions to make the comparison, but every one will also be obliged to confess that the miserable little flame of human egotism is not to be compared with the high and noble flame of divine inspiration, which burned in the prophet’s breast.—The prophets of the deceit, etc. They deceive others, after and because they have deceived themselves. Comp. Jeremiah 14:14; Ezekiel 13:2.—Cause to forget. On the subject-matter comp. Jeremiah 2:32; Jeremiah 3:21; Jeremiah 13:25; Jeremiah 18:15; Jeremiah 50:6.—One to another. Not every one to his colleagues, but every one to his fellow. For they have corrupted the people by their lies. Comp. ver32; Jeremiah 14:13 sqq.; Jeremiah 23:14 sqq.; Jeremiah 50:6.—Through Baal. Comp. Jeremiah 2:8. It is apparent that these false prophets did not prophesy in the name of an idol, but in the name of Jehovah, hut they proclaimed in His name not His word but the deceit of their own heart.

Jeremiah 23:28-29. Let the prophet … rocks in pieces. The Lord does not object if the prophets relate their own dreams as such. But they are not to mix them with the true word of God, and on the ground of this mingling utter them as a divine revelation. As the dreams are to be related as such, so also the real revelation of God is to be handed down purely, i.e. without addition or subtraction. It is clear that the connection requires this meaning for אמת. Comp. Jeremiah 2:21; Proverbs 11:18. A mixture of the two elements is just as unsuitable as a mingling of empty straw with grain. The straw cannot be used with the grain, nor the grain with the straw. This comparison, and the following one of the hammer and “who steal,” Jeremiah 23:30, shows that Jeremiah here, i e. from Jeremiah 23:25, has in view not the presentation of the products of human, subjectivity as the products of divine objectivity, but the mingling of the two elements. He censures the former in Jeremiah 23:25-27. As merchants often sell wholly sham goods, or those which are partly sham and partly genuine, as genuine, so do these prophets. Both are certainly שׁקד.—Is not my word like a fire?etc. A point in the comparison with straw is further developed. The straw is not only false ware, when found (as chopped straw) among the bread-corn, but simply as straw it has no strength, and is useless for defence or offence. So is also the word of the false prophets. In opposition to this, God’s word is like the all-conquering fire (comp. Song of Solomon 8:6-7), or like the hammer crushing the hardest rock ( Hebrews 4:12; Ecclesiastes 12:11). How despicable does the word of the pseudo-prophets appear in these comparisons and what a disgraceful mesalliance do they cause by their mingling! I do not think that the prevalent minatory and punitive import of the genuine prophecies was meant, for the Gospel is the most intensive force ( 1 Corinthians 1:18-24; 1 Corinthians 2:4; Romans 1:16).

Jeremiah 23:30-32. Therefore behold … saith Jehovah. These three similarly opening verses recapitulate the main thoughts of the section in reverse order, in such wise also, that a point latent in the foregoing context ( Jeremiah 23:31), is now plainly set forth. Jeremiah 23:30 evidently corresponds to Jeremiah 23:28. They steal the genuine words of God, not directly every one from his colleague ( Jeremiah 23:27), but every one from his fellow as he pleases, thus in part at first hand from true prophets, in part at second band from false prophets, or wheresoever they can find them. Unmixed falsehood betrays itself too easily and is insipid. But falsehood mingled with truth is powerful, error, and the beauty of truth serves as an ornamental covering to its deformity. The second Behold, etc., Jeremiah 23:31, corresponds to “who prophesy falsely in my name,” Jeremiah 23:25-26. For thereby it is implicitly declared that they proclaimed, their lies in the same form as the true prophets, as oracles of Jehovah. But how cheaply they hold these? All they needed was to set their tongues to work. How dear on the other hand did Jeremiah account the honor of being Jehovah’s true prophet! Comp. Jeremiah 20:7-9.—The third Behold, etc., corresponds to vers25–27, the import of which it plainly repeats.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:2. “King Zedekiah sends word to Jeremiah, that the Lord is to do according to all His miracles, that Nebuchadnezzar may withdraw. A demand rather cavalierly made in such evil circumstances. But the noble are so unfortunate! It is indeed as though it only depended on them to arrange matters with God; as if He were only waiting for them, as if it were a point of honor not to be over-hasty, but first to await a little extremity …. It is a very necessary observance for a servant of the Lord, that he try his superiors, whether there is any trace remaining in them of having been once baptized, well brought up and instructed in the fear of the Lord. If he observe anything of this kind, he must insist upon it and especially not allow them to deal too familiarly with the Judge of all the earth, but plainly demonstrate to them their insufficiency and nothingness, if they measure themselves by Him. Though Zedekiah had spoken so superficially, Jeremiah answered him without hesitation, definitely and positively, and accustomed him to a different manner of dealing with the Lord.” Zinzendorf. “When the ungodly desire God’s help, they commonly appeal not to His saving power to heal them, but to His miraculous power to save them, while they persist in their impenitence.” Starke.

2. On Jeremiah 21:8. “It is pure grace on the part of God, when He leaves to man the choice between the good and the evil; not that it is permitted him to choose the evil, but that he may choose freely the good, which he is under obligation to do, Deuteronomy 30:19.” Starke. “God lays before us the way of life and the way of death. The way of life is however always contrary to human reason, and that on which it sees merely death and shame. … If thou wilt save thyself thou must leave the false Jerusalem, fallen under the judgment, and seek thy life where there seems to be only death. He who would save his life must lose it, and he who devotes it for the sake of the truth will save it.” Diedrich.

3. On Jeremiah 21:11-14. “To be such a king is to be an abomination to the Lord, and severe judgment will follow. God appoints magistrates for His service and for the use of men; he who only seeks his own enjoyment in office, is lost. Jerusalem, situated on rocks in the midst of a plain, looks secure; but against God neither rocks avail nor aught else. The fire will break out even in them, and consume all around, together with the forest of cedar-houses in the city. The corruption is seated within, and therefore proceeds from within outwards, so that nothing of the former stock can remain. What shall a government do which no longer bears the sword of justice? What shall a church do which is no longer founded on God’s truth as its only power?” Diedrich. Comp. moreover on the whole of Jeremiah 24. the extended moral reflections of Cyrillus Alex. περὶ τῆς ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθ. προσκυνήσεως. Lib. I.

4. On Jeremiah 22:1. “Jeremiah is to deliver a sermon at court, in which he reminds the king of his office of magistrate, in which he is to administer justice to every man.” Cramer.

It was no easy task for Jeremiah to go into the lions’ den and deliver such an uncourtly message to him. We are reminded of the prophet Jonah. But Jeremiah did not flee as he did.

5. On [“But we ought the more carefully to notice this passage, that we may learn to strengthen ourselves against bad examples, lest the impiety of men should overturn our faith; when we see in God’s church things in such disorder, that those who glory in the name of God are become like robbers, we must beware lest we become on this account alienated from true religion. We must, indeed, desert such monsters, but we must take care lest God’s word, through men’s wickedness, should lose its value in our esteem. We ought then to remember the admonition of Christ, to hear the Scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses’ seat ( Matthew 23:2).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

6. On [“Dying saints may be justly envied, while living sinners are justly pitied. And so dismal perhaps the prospect of the times may be, that tears even for a Josiah, even for a Jesus, must be restrained, that they may be reserved for ourselves and our children ( Luke 23:28).” Henry.—S. R. A.]

Nequaquam gentilis plangendus est atque Judæus, qui in ecclesia non fuerunt et simul mortui sunt, de quibus Salvator dicit: dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos ( Matthew 8:22). Sed eos plange, qui per scelera atque peccata egrediuntur de ecclesia et nolunt ultra reverti ad earn damnatione vitiorum.” Hieron. Epist. 46 ad Rusticam. “Nolite flere mortuum, sed plorate raptorem avarum, pecuniæ sitientem et inexplebilem auri cupidinem. Cur mortuos inutiliter ploramus? Eos ploremus, qui in melius mutari possunt.” Basilius Seleucensis. Comp. Basil, Magn. Homil. 4de Gratiarum actione post dimid.—Ghislerus.

7. On Jeremiah 22:6-9. “God does not spare even the authorities. For though He has said that they are gods, when they do not rightly administer their office they must die like men ( Psalm 82:6) … No cedars are too high for God, no splendor too mighty; He can destroy all at once, and overturn, and overturn, and overturn. Ezekiel 21:27,” Cramer.

Another passage from which it is seen how perverse and unjustifiable is the illusion that God’s election is a surety against His anger, and a permit to any wilfulness. The individual representatives of the objects of divine election should never forget that God can march over their carcases, and the ruins of their glory, to the fulfilment of His promise, and that He can rebuild on a higher stage, what He has destroyed on a lower. Comp. remarks on Jeremiah 22:24.

8. On Jeremiah 22:13-19. It is blasphemy to imagine that God will be frère et compagnon to all princes as such, and that He has a predilection for them as of His own kind. Does He not say to his majesty the king of Judah, with whom, in respect of the eminence of his dynasty and throne no other prince of earth could compare, that he should be buried like an ass, dragged and cast out before the gates of Jerusalem? This Jehoiakim was however an aristocrat, a heartless, selfish tyrant, who for his own pleasure trampled divine and human rights under foot. If such things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

“He who builds his house with other people’s property, collects stones for his grave.” Cramer.

9. On [“It was a proof of luxury when men began to indulge in superfluities. In old times the windows were small; for use only was regarded by frugal men; but afterwards a sort of madness possessed the minds of many, so that they sought to be suspended as it were in the air. And hence they began to have wider windows. The thing in itself, as I have said, is not what God condemns; but we must ever remember, that men never go to excesses in external things, except when their hearts are infected with pride, so that they do not regard what is useful, what is becoming, but are carried away by fondness for excess.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

10. On Jeremiah 22:15. “God may grant the great lords a preference in eating and drinking and the splendor of royal courts, but it is not His will that these be regarded as the main things, but that true religion, right and justice must have the precedence;—this is the Lord’s work. But cursed is he who does the Lord’s work remissly. Jeremiah 48:10.” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 22:17. “Description of haughty, proud, magnificent, merciless and tyrannical lords and rulers, who are accomplices of thieves.” Cramer.

12. On [“God would have burial a proof to distinguish us from brute animals even after death, as we in life excel them, and as our condition is much nobler than that of the brute creation. Burial is also a pledge as it were of immortality; for when man’s body is laid hid in the earth, it is as it were a mirror of a future life. Since then burial is an evidence of God’s grace and favor towards mankind, it is on the other hand a sign of a curse, when burial is denied.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

13. On Jeremiah 22:24. “Great lords often imagine that they not only sit in the bosom of God, but that they are a pearl in His crown; or as the prophet says here, God’s signet-ring. Therefore, it is impossible that they should not succeed in their designs. But God looks not on the person of the princes, and knows the magnificent no more than the poor. Job 34:19.” Cramer.

14. On [“What is idolized will, first or last, be despised and broken, what is unjustly honored will be justly contemned, and rivals with God will be the scorn of man. Whatever we idolize we shall be disappointed in, and then shall despise.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

“The compliment is a very poor one for a king, who thinks somewhat of himself, and to whom it in a certain measure pertains that he be honored….But here it is the word of the Lord, and in consideration of these words it is declared in 2 Chronicles 36:12, to be evil on the part of Zedekiah, that he did not humble himself before Jeremiah. Teachers must be much on their guard against assuming such purely prophetic, that Isaiah, extraordinary acts. It cost the servants of the Lord many a death, who were obliged thus to employ themselves, and when it is easy for one to ape it without a divine calling he thus betrays his frivolity and incompetence, if not his pride and delusion.” Zinzendorf.

15. On Jeremiah 22:28-30. Irenæus (Adv. Hær. 3:30) uses this passage to prove that the Lord could not have been Joseph’s natural Song of Solomon, for otherwise he would have fallen under the curse of this passage, and appear as one not entitled to dominion (“qui eum dicunt ex Joseph generatum et in eo habere spem, abdicatos se faciunt a regno, sub maledictione et increpatione decidentes, quæ erga Jechoniam et in semen ejus est”). Basil the Great (Epist. ad Amphilochium) endeavors to show that this passage, with its declaration that none of Jeconiah’s descendants should sit on David’s throne, is not in contradiction to the prophecy of Jacob ( Genesis 49:10), that a ruler should not be lacking from Judah, till He came for whom the nations were hoping. Basil distinguishes in this relation between dominion and royal dignity.—The former continued, the latter ceased, and this period of, so to speak, latent royalty, was the bridge to the present, in which Christ rules in an invisible manner, but yet in real power and glory as royal priest, and at the same time represents Himself as the fulfilment of the hope of the nations. In like manner John of Damascus concludes that according to this passage there could be no prospect of the fulfilment of the promise in Genesis 49:10, if Mary had not virgineo modo borne the scion of David, who however was not to occupy the visible throne of David. (Orat. II. in Nativ. B. Mariæ p. med.)—Ambrose finally (Comment. in Ev. Luc. L. III. cap. ult.) raises the question how Jeremiah could say, that ex semine Jechoniæ neminem regnaturum esse, since Christ was of the seed of Jeconiah and reigned? He answers: “Illic ( Jeremiah 22:30) futuros ex semine Jechoniæ posteros non negatur et ideo de semine ejus est Christus (comp. Matthew 1:11), et quod regnavit Christus, non contra prophetiam Esther, non enim seculari honore regnavit, nee in Jechoniæ sedibus sedit, sed regnavit in sede David.” Ghislerus.

16. On Jeremiah 23:2. “Nonnulli præsmles gregis quosdam pro peccato a communione ceiciunt, ut pæniteant, sed quali sorte vivere debeant ad melius exhortando non visitant. Quibus congrue increpans sermo divinus comminatur: pastores, qui pascunt populum meum, vos dispersistis gregem meum, ejecistis et non visitastis eum.” Isidor. Hisp. de summo bono she LL. sentt. Cap. 46. Ghislerus.

17. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. Eusebius (Dem. Ev. VII:9) remarks that Christ among all the descendants of David is the only one, who rules over the whole earth, and everywhere not only preaches justice and righteousness by His doctrine but is Himself also the author of the rising [of the Sun] of righteousness for all, according to Psalm 72:7 : ἀνατελεῖ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ δικαιοσύνη, καὶ πλῆθος εἰρήνης ἕως οὗ ἀνταναιρεθῇ σελήνη (LXX.) Cyril of Alex. (Glaphyr. in Gen. I. p133) explains Ἰωσεδέκ as justitia Dei, in so far as we are made righteous in Him, not for the sake of the works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His great mercy. Romans 3:24; Titus 3:5.

18. On [“If we regard God in Himself, He is indeed righteous, but not our righteousness. If we desire to have God as our righteousness, we must seek Christ; for this cannot be found except in Him. … Paul says that He has been given or made to us righteousness,—for what end? that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. ( 1 Corinthians 1:30). Since, then, Christ is made our righteousness, and we are counted the righteousness of God in Him, we hence learn how properly and fitly it has been said that He would be Jehovah, not only that the power of His divinity might defend us, but also that we might become righteous in Him, for He is not only righteous for Himself, but He is our righteousness.” Calvin. See also a long note in Wordsworth, to show that Jehovah our Righteousness refers to Christ;—S. R. A.]

“The character of a true church is when the Lytrum, the ransom-money of Jesus Christ, is known and valued by all, and when they have written this secret, foolish and absolutely inscrutable to reason, in the heart with the finger of the living God: that Jesus by His blood has taken away the sins of the world. ‘O let it ne’er escape my thought, at what a price my soul was bought.’ This is the evening and morning prayer of every church, which is a true sister from above.” Zinzendorf.

19. On Jeremiah 23:5-8. “The return under Ezra was also a fulfilment of this promise, but inferior and preliminary: not all came, and those who did come brought their sins back with them. They were still under the Law and had to wait for Righteousness; still in their return they had a pledge that the Messiah was yet to come and prepare the true city of peace. Now, however, all has been long fulfilled and we can enjoy it perfectly, if we have the mind for it. We have now a country of which no tyrant can rob us; our walk and citizenship is in heaven. We have been delivered from all our suffering, when we sit down at the feet of Jesus to hear His word. Then there is a power of resurrection within us, So that we can fly with our souls beyond the world and laugh at all our foes. For Christ has made us righteous by His daily forgiveness, so that we may also bring ourselves daily into heaven. Yea verily, the kingdom of heaven is come very nigh unto us! Jeremiah then longed to see and hear this more nearly, and now we can have it.” Diedrich.

20. On Jeremiah 23:9. “Great love renders God’s servant so ardent, that he deals powerful blows on the seducers. He does not think that he has struck a wasp’s nest and embittered his life here forever, for he has a higher life and gives the lower one willingly for love. Yet all the world will hold him for an incorrigible and mad enthusiast, who spares no one. He says himself that he is as it were drunk with God and His word, when he on the other hand contemplates the country.” Diedrich.

21. On Jeremiah 23:11. “They are rogues. They know how to find subterfuges, and I would like to see him who accuses a false and unfaithful teacher, and manages his own case so that he does not himself come into the dilemma.” Zinzendorf.

22. On Jeremiah 23:13-14. “In the prophets of Samaria I see folly. This is the character which the Lord gives to error, false religion, heterodoxy. But in the prophets of Jerusalem I find abomination. This is the description of the or thodox, when they apply their doctrine, so that either the wicked are strengthened or no one is converted.” Zinzendorf.

23. On Jeremiah 23:15. “From the prophets of Jerusalem hypocrisy goes forth into all the land. This is the natural consequence of the superiority, which the consistories, academies, ministers, etc, have and in due measure ought to have, that when they become corrupt they communicate their corruption to the whole region, and it is apparent in the whole land what sort of theologians sit at the helm.” Zinzendorf.

24. On Jeremiah 23:16. Listen not to the words of the prophets, they deceive you. Luther says (Altenb. Tom. II. p330): “But a Christian has so much power that he may and ought to come forward even among Christians and teach, where he sees that the teacher himself is wanting,” etc.; and “The hearers altogether have the right to judge and decide concerning all doctrine. Therefore the priests and liveried Christians have snatched this office to themselves; because, if this office remained in the church, the aforesaid could retain nothing for their own.” (Altenb. Tom. II. p508).—The exercise of this right on the part of members of the church has its difficulties. May not misunderstanding, ignorance, even wickedness cause this to be a heavy and unjust pressure on the ministers of the word, and thus mediately tend to the injury of the church? Certainly. Still it is better for the church to exercise this right than not to do so. The former is a sign of spiritual life, the latter of spiritual death. It will be easier to find a corrective for some extravagances than to save a church become religiously indifferent from the fate of Laodicea ( Revelation 3:16).

25. On [“But here a question may be raised, How can the common people understand that some speak from God’s mouth, and that others propound their own glosses? I answer, That the doctrine of the Law was then sufficient to guide the minds of the people, provided they closed not their eyes; and if the Law was sufficient at that time, God does now most surely give us a clearer light by His prophets, and especially by His Gospel.” Calvin—S. R. A.]

26. On Jeremiah 23:17. “The pastors, who are welcome and gladly seen at a rich man’s table, wish him in fact long life, good health, and all prosperity. What they wish they prophesy. This is not unnatural; but he who is softened by it is ill-advised.” Zinzendorf.

27. On [“There is a twofold call; one is internal, the other belongs to order, and may therefore be called external or ecclesiastical. But the external call is never legitimate, except it be preceded by the internal; for it does not belong to us to create prophets, or apostles, or pastors, as this is the special work of the Holy Spirit. … But it often happens that the call of God is sufficient, especially for a time. For when there is no church, there is no remedy for the evil, except God raise up extraordinary teachers.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

28. On Jeremiah 23:22. “If I knew that my teacher was a most abominable miscreant, personally, and in heart the worst enemy of God in his parish; so long as, for any reason, he preaches, expounds, develops, inculcates the word of God; even though he should betray here and there in his expressions, that this word was not dwelling in him; if only he does not ex professo at one time throw down what at another time he teaches of good and true quasi aliud agendo: I assure you before the Lord that I should fear to censure his preaching.” Zinzendorf.

29. On Jeremiah 23:23. “ God’s essential attribute is Omnipresence. For He is higher than heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? Longer than the earth and broader than the sea ( Job 4:8). And He is not far from every one of us ( Acts 17:27).” Cramer.—“We often think God is quite far from us, when He is yet near to us, has us in His arms, presses us to His heart and kisses us.” Luther.—“ When we think the Sun of righteousness, Jesus, is not risen, and is still behind the mountain, and will not come to us, He is yet nearest to us. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart. ( Psalm 34:19) ”—“Deus et omni et nullo loco “—” Cuncta Deus replens molem se fundit in omnem.” MS. notes to my copy of Cramer’s Bibel.—“ Si vis peccare, O homo, quære tibi locum, ubi Deus non videat.” Augustine.

30. On [“When any one rejects the wheat because it is covered with chaff, and who will pity him who says that he has indeed wheat on his floor, but that it is mixed with chaff, and therefore not fit for food? … If we be negligent, and think that it is a sufficient excuse for despising the Word of God, because Satan brings in his fallacies, we shall perish in our sloth like him who neglects to cleanse his wheat that he might turn it to bread.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

He who cannot restrain his mouth or his ink let him expectorate. But let him say openly and honestly that they are his own dreams, which he preaches. The false prophets certainly know that mere falsehood is empty straw. They therefore always mingle some of the genuine word of God amongst it. An unavailing mixture! It is in this mingling that Satan’s highest art is displayed, so that he at the same time furthers his own work and testifies against himself. Comp. Genesis 3

31. On Jeremiah 23:29. God’s word is the highest reality, life and power, while the dreams of the false prophets are pretence, death and weakness. God’s word is therefore compared to a fire which burns, warms, and enlightens, so that it burns up the hardest flint, melts the thickest ice, illuminates the deepest obscurities. It is compared further to a hammer which crushes the hardest rocks into sand.—He who mingles God’s wheat among his straw, will find that the wheat will become fire and burn up the straw ( 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). He Who handles the word of the Lord purely, let him not despair if he sees before him hearts of adamant ( Zechariah 7:12). He who seeks peace is not ashamed to bow beneath the hammer of the word. For the destructive power of the word applies to that in us which is opposed to God, while the God-related elements are loosed and set free by those very crushing blows.— Hebrews, however, to whom the peace of God is an object of derision, may feed on the straw of this world. But how will it be when finally the day comes that God will come upon him with fire and hammer? What then remains to him as the result of his straw-diet, which is in a condition to withstand the blows of the hammer and the fire?

Help, Lord, against Thy scornful foes,

Who seek our souls to lead astray;

Whose mockeries at mortal woes

Will end in terrible dismay!

Grant that Thy holy word may root

Deep in our hearts, and richer fruit

May ever bear to endless day.

“God’s word converts, all other doctrine befools.” Luther.

32. On Jeremiah 23:29. “God’s word in general is like a fire: the more it is urged the more widely and brightly it extends. God has caused His word to be proclaimed to the world as a matter, which they can dispense with as little as fire. Fire often smoulders long in secret before it breaks out, thus the power of the divine word operates in its time. God’s word can make people as warm as if glowing coals lay upon them; it shines as brightly upon them, as if a lamp were held under their eyes; it tells every one the truth and purifies from all vices. He who deals evilly with God’s word burns himself by it, he who opposes it is consumed by it. But the word of God is as little to blame as a lamp or a fire when an unskilful person is burned by it. Yet it happens that often it will not be suffered in the world, then there is fire in all the streets. That is the unhappy fire of persecution, which is kindled incidentally in the world by the preaching of the Gospel.” Jos. Conr. Schaller, Pastor at Cautendorf, Sermons on the Gospels, 1742.

33. On Jeremiah 23:30. “Teachers and preachers are not to steal their sermons from other books, but take them from the Bible, and testify that which they speak from their inward experience ( John 3:11). False teachers steal God’s word, inventing a foreign meaning for it, and using this for the palliation of their errors.” Starke—“Hinc illi ζῆλοι at auctions, who can obtain this or that good book, this or that manuscript? Here they are thus declared to be plagiarios; and they are necessarily so because they are not taught of God. But I would rather they would steal from true men of God than from each other.”—Zinzendorf.

34. On Jeremiah 23:33-40. “ When the word of God becomes intolerable to men, then men in their turn become intolerable to our Lord God; yea, they are no more than inutile pondus terræ, which the land can no more bear, therefore they must be winnowed out, Jeremiah 15:17.” Cramer.

35. On Jeremiah 24:5-7. “ He who willingly and readily resigns himself to the will of God even to the cross, may escape misfortune. But he who opposes himself to the hand of God cannot escape.” Cramer.—“The captives are dearest to God. By the first greater affliction He prepares their souls for repentance and radical conversion, so that He has in them again His people and inheritance. O the gracious God, that He allows even those who on account of sin must be so deeply degraded and rendered slaves, even in such humiliation to be His people! The captives are forgiven their opposition to God; they are separated from the number of nations existing in the world, politically they are dead and banished to the interior. Now, God will show them what His love can do; they shall return, and in true nearness to God be His true Israel.” Diedrich.

36. On [“Since He affirms that He would give them a heart to understand, we hence learn that men are by nature blind, and also that when they are blinded by the devil they cannot return to the right way, and that they cannot be otherwise capable of light than by having God to illuminate them by His Spirit. … This passage also shows, that we cannot really turn to God until we acknowledge Him to be the Judge; for until the sinner sets himself before God’s tribunal he will never be touched with the feeling of true repentance. … Though God rules the whole world. He yet declares that He is the God of the Church; and the faithful whom He has adopted He favors with this high distinction, that they are His people; and He does this that they may be persuaded that there is safety in Him, according to what is said by Habakkuk, ‘Thou art our God, we shall not die’ ( Habakkuk 1:12). And of this sentence Christ Himself is the best interpreter, when He says, that He is not the God of the dead, but of the living ( Luke 20:38).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:8. This text may be used on all occasions when an important decision is to be made or on the entrance on a new section of life, as, e. g., at synods, diets, New Years, beginning of the church-year, at confirmations, weddings, installations, etc. What the present day demands and promises: I. It demands from us an important choice. II. It promises us, according as we choose, life or death.

2. On Jeremiah 22:2-9. In how far the divine election is conditional and unconditional. I. It is conditional with respect to individual elected men, places, things. For1, these become partakers of the salvation promised by the election only by behaviour well-pleasing to God; 2, if they behave in a manner displeasing to God, the election does not protect them from destruction. II. The election is unconditional with respect to the eternal ideas lying at the foundation of the single appearances, and their absolute realizations.

3. On [Payson:—“The punishment of the impenitent inevitable and justifiable. I. To mention some awful instances in which God has verified this declaration: (a), the apostate angels; (b) our first parents; (c) destruction of mankind by the flood; (d) the children of Israel; (e) Moses, David, the disobedient prophet, Christ. II. Some of the reasons for such a declaration. Not a disposition to give pain or desire for revenge. It is the nature and tendency of sin to produce misery.”—S. R. A.]

4. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. The Son of David. What the prophet declares of Him is fourfold: 1. He will Himself be righteous; 2. He will rule well as king and execute judgment and righteousness; 3. He will be our righteousness; 4. Under Him shall Judah be helped and Israel dwell safely.

5. On [Lathrop: “The horrible guilt of those who strengthen the hands of the wicked1. All sin is horrible in its nature2. This is to oppose the government of the Almighty3. It directly tends to the misery of mankind4. It supports the cause of the Evil Spirit5. It is to become partakers of their sins6. It is horrible as directly contrary to the command of God, and marked with His peculiar abhorrence.”—S. R. A.]

6. On Jeremiah 23:23-24. The Omnipresence of God. 1. What it means. God is everywhere present, (a). He fills heaven and earth; (b) there is no removal from Him in space; (c) nothing is hidden from Him2. There is in this for us (a) a glorious consolation, (b) an earnest admonition. [Charnock, Jortin, and Wesley have sermons on this text, all of very similar outline. The following are Jortin’s practical conclusions; “ This doctrine1. Should lead us to seek to resemble God’s perfections2. Should deter us from sin3. Should teach us humility4. Should encourage us to reliance and contentment, to faith and hope.”—S. R. A.]

7. On Jeremiah 23:29-30. God’s Word and man’s word. 1. The former is life and power (wheat, fire, hammer). The latter pretence and weakness (dream, straw). 2. The two are not to be mixed with each other. [Cecil: This shows1. The vanity of all human imaginations in religion, (a). What do they afford to man? (b). How much do they hinder? 2. The energy of spiritual truth. Let us entreat God that our estimate may be practical.—S. R. A.]

8. On Jeremiah 24:1-10. The good and bad figs an emblem of humanity well-pleasing and displeasing to God. 1. The prisoners and broken-hearted are, like the good figs, well-pleasing to God. For (a) they know the Lord and turn to Him; (b) He is their God and they are His people2. Those who dwell proudly and securely are displeasing to God, like the bad figs. For (a) they live on in foolish blindness; (b) they challenge the judgment of God.

Footnotes:

FN#23 - Jeremiah 23:23 :—On the construction, comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 63, 4 e.

FN#24 - Jeremiah 23:27.—ההשׁבים in apposition to נבאים in Jeremiah 23:26.

FN#25 - Jeremiah 23:27.—להשׁכיח, Hiphil, here only.

FN#26 - Jeremiah 23:28.—אֱמֶת, Accus. adverb. Comp. Jeremiah 10:10; Naegelsb. Gr., § 70, k.

FN#27 - Jeremiah 23:31.—וַיִנְאֲמו. Of the whole verb, besides this single form, we find only נְאֻם.

FN#28 - Jeremiah 23:32.—פַחֲזוּת is ἃπαξ λεγ. The meaning (comp. Judges 9:1; Zephaniah 3:4; Genesis 49:4=insolentia, impudent boasting.


Verses 33-40

d. The criminal use of the word “burden.”

Jeremiah 23:33-40

33 And when this people, or the prophets[FN29] or priests,

Ask thee, What is the burden of Jehovah?

Thou shalt tell them what the burden of Jehovah Isaiah 30

Namely, “I reject you,”[FN31]saith Jehovah.

34 And the prophet, the priest, or the people

That say, “Burden of Jehovah;”

On such a man and his house will I visit it.

35 Thus shall ye say, every one to his neighbour and every one to [FN32]his brother:

What hath Jehovah answered? or What hath Jehovah spoken?

36 But “burden of Jehovah ” ye shall no more take into your mouth;

For the burden will be to each his own word;

Because ye have perverted the words of the living God,

Jehovah Zebaoth, our God.

37 Thus shalt thou say to the prophet:

What has Jehovah answered thee?

Or, What has Jehovah spoken?

38 But if ye say, “Burden of Jehovah,”

On this account saith Jehovah thus:

Because ye say this word, “Burden of Jehovah,”

And I had sent unto you a message of this purport,

“Ye shall not say, ‘Burden of Jehovah,’ ”—

39 Therefore, behold, I burden you[FN33] and thrust you,

And this city which I gave to you and your fathers,

Away from my presence;

40 And lay upon you everlasting reproach,

And everlasting shame, that shall not be forgotten.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The word of double meaning מַשָׂא, which signifies both “saying” and “burden,” was misused by the Jews, who were accustomed to ask the prophets mockingly what sort of a מַשָּׂא they had. Jeremiah is to tell those who thus ask, what sort of a burden threatens them, viz, that they shall be rejected ( Jeremiah 23:33), and each who thus asks shall, for this derision, be subjected to a special visitation ( Jeremiah 23:34). If any wish to ask the prophets, he is to make use of the expression, What has the Lord answered or spoken? ( Jeremiah 23:35). But the expression מַשָׂא (burden and saying) is no more to be used, for this perversion of a divine word will be avenged, such insolent words falling back like a heavy burden on the head of their authors ( Jeremiah 23:36). The inquiry is to be made thus: What has the Lord answered or spoken? ( Jeremiah 23:37). If, notwithstanding, the forbidden word is used ( Jeremiah 23:38), the Lord will carry away the people like a burden ( Jeremiah 23:39), and give them up to everlasting shame ( Jeremiah 23:40).

Jeremiah 23:33-34. And when this people … visit it.—What burden? It appears to have been the custom, whenever the prophets made their appearance in public to ask them if they had received any new revelation. There can be no doubt that משׂא means “saying, utterance,” as well as “burden.” Comp. the thorough demonstration in Graf, S. 315. The passages from which it evidently follows that משׂא signifies effatum, any utterance, besides those where the verb נֶשָׂא is used in the sense vocem proferre with and without קוֹל, voice ( Isaiah 3:7; Isaiah 42:2; Isaiah 42:11 coll. Exodus 20:7; Exodus 23:1; Numbers 23:7; Psalm 139:20, etc.), are especially the following: Isaiah 14:28; Lamentations 2:14; 2 Kings 9:25; Proverbs 30:1; Proverbs 31:1. Hengstenberg and Rueckert, following the example of Jonathan, Aquila, the Syriac, Jerome and Luther, would take the word exclusively in the sense of “burden.” We have translated “burden” above, but only because we have no expression, which without forcing unites both meanings. Of the many attempts to unite them by De Wette, Ewald, Fuerst, Meier, none are really satisfactory. De Wette’s translation is most so. [Wehsagung: utterance of woe.—S. R. A.]. At all events the opposers emphasized the idea of burden. They wished to say that every declaration of Jehovah was only a new burden, that only what was burdensome, not what was pleasing, came from this God. In so far the question was one of blasphemous derision. It is implied by the word namely that what follows is a quotation. The passage to which Jeremiah refers is doubtless Jeremiah 12:7, “rejected mine inheritance.” The significance of this passage is clear from the fact that it is reproduced in a comprehensive survey in 2 Kings 21:14.—Will I visit it. Besides the judgment announced to the people generally on account of their sins, those who make use of the expression “burden” in a wicked manner, shall receive special punishment.

Jeremiah 23:35-37. Thus shall ye say … Jehovah spoken.—For the burden will be, etc. Even the insolent words will be to him who utters them a crushing burden, though the utterance of Jehovah, with respect to which he uses the term, is not in itself a burden at all.—These words are a parenthesis, and hence because ye have perverted, etc., is connected with ye shall no more take into your mouth and declare the result of using the forbidden word.—Living God. Comp. Jeremiah 10:10.

Footnotes:

FN#29 - Jeremiah 23:33.—The article is general, and נָבִיא expresses the idea of species. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 71, 4, a.

FN#30 - Jeremiah 23:33.—את־מה־משׂא. Many modern commentators follow the LXX. and Vulg. which read אַתֶּם תַמַּשָׂא, but incorrectly. In His answer the Lord purposely uses the words of the question: Verba retorquet. The arrow directed against him must, being reversed, strike those insolent questioners. It should indeed properly read אַת אֲשֶׁר מַשָׂא. But the necessity of retaining the words of the question justified this grammatical license, which moreover (Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 79, 6) is not altogether without precedent. אֵת depends on וְאָמַרְתָּ Comp. Jeremiah 14:17, etc. The construction is therefore by no means so artificial and clumsy as Ewald supposes.

FN#31 - Jeremiah 23:33.—ונטשתי ו׳ is not co-ordinated with ואמרת, as is apparent from נְאֻם י׳. It rather expresses the purport of that which Jeremiah is to proclaim as the “burden,” etc. ו is therefore=and indeed. It should only be remarked that ו here in this meaning stands before a whole sentence, which, however, on account of its brevity is not thereby rendered less easily intelligible.

FN#32 - Jeremiah 23:35.—On the interchange of עַל and אֵל, comp, rems. on Jeremiah 10:1.

FN#33 - Jeremiah 23:39.—ונּשׁיתי נשׁא. The paronomasia requires us to read נָשׂא נָשִׂיתִי, as the LXX, Vulg, Syr, and some Codd. and editions really do. It is not necessary to assume the Piel form נִשֵׂיתִי, since forms like כַּלִאתִי Psalm 119:102; כְּלִתִנִי 1 Samuel 25:33; צָמִת Ruth 2:9, justify the assumption of י also in the Kal according to the analogy of the לה׳ verbs. Comp. Olsh, § 223, a, Anm.—The reading גָשִּׁיתִי, which does not afford any satisfactory sense, but may be translated “I forget,” or “I heard not,” is doubtless occasioned by the unusual punctuation (נשׂיתי). A proof that- the latter is the original is found in the Inf. נשֹׁא, the א of which is likewise abnormal and therefore a sure trace of the original כִּלִמּוּת .נָשׂא is ἄπ. λεγ. and perhaps to be read כְּלִמַּת, after Jeremiah 20:11.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/jeremiah-23.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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