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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Jeremiah 42

 

 

Verses 1-6

6. THE HYPOCRITICAL INQUIRY

Jeremiah 42:1-6

1Then all the captains of the forces, and[FN1] Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least unto the greatest, came 2 near, and said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the Lord [Jehovah] thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many,[FN2] as thine eyes do behold us): 3that the Lord [Jehovah] thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.

4Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard[FN3] you; behold, I will pray unto the Lord [Jehovah] your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatever thing the Lord [Jehovah] shall answer you, I will declare5it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you. Then they said to Jeremiah, The Lord be a true[FN4] and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to 6 all things for the which the Lord thy God shall send[FN5] thee to us. Whether it be good, or whether it be evil[FN6] we will obey the voice of the Lord our God, to whom we[FN7] send thee; that it may be well with us, when[FN8] we obey the voice of the Lord our God.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The people request the prophet to inquire of the Lord what is to be done ( Jeremiah 42:1-3); Jeremiah promises to do so ( Jeremiah 42:4). The people therefore solemnly promise punctual obedience to all that the prophet shall disclose to them as the commands of their God ( Jeremiah 42:5-6).

Jeremiah 42:1-3. Then all … that we may do. Jezaniah is here called the son of Hoshaiah; in Jeremiah 40:8 he is called the son of the Maachathite, in Jeremiah 43:2 Azariah is named as the son of Hoshaiah. There must then have either been two Jezaniahs and two Hoshaiahs, or there is an error in the text. The LXX. has in Jeremiah 42:1 and Jeremiah 43:2Ἀζαρίος υἱὸς Μαασαίου. There is thus the possibility that here Jezaniah is written by mistake for Azariah.—These leaders and the whole people with them address to the prophet the humble petition (comp. rems. on Jeremiah 36:7; Jeremiah 37:20), that he will address to Jehovah in their behalf, the small remnant of the great nation, a prayer for instruction concerning the path to be taken.

Jeremiah 42:4-6. Then Jeremiah … our God. When the people express their readiness to submit to the direction of Jehovah, however this may turn out, but afterwards ( Jeremiah 43:2-7) rebel so decidedly against this direction, their declaration here must be explained either as hypocrisy or on the supposition that the question was not of remaining in the country, but there was doubt only as to the direction of their flight. They appeal to the Lord to appear as a true and faithful witness against them, if they do not submit to the divine indication expected through the prophet. The Lord however Isaiah, as is presupposed in every oath, at the same time Witness and Judge.

FN#1 - Jeremiah 42:1.— The וְ before יוֹהָנָן as in Jeremiah 40:8 [=even]

FN#2 - Jeremiah 42:2.—On ‎‎$דַרְבֶּה‎‎ comp. olsh, S. 358,583.

FN#3 - Jeremiah 42:4.—שָׁמַעְתִּי involves the sense of hearing and granting, and is at the same time the token of the acceptance and approval of the petition. It corresponds nearly to the German “Gut!” [Eng: good!]

FN#4 - Jeremiah 42:5.—The expression עֵד אֱמֶת is found besides only in Proverbs 14:25 Coll. Jeremiah 42:5. עֵד בֶאֶמָן Psalm 89:38; Isaiah 7:2.

FN#5 - Jeremiah 42:5.—On שָׁלַח with a double accuastive, comp. Naegelsb Gr., § 6, 2, c.

FN#6 - Jeremiah 42:6.—To אם טוב ואם דע we are not to supply הַדָבָר for then we must have הוּא after רָע. Much rather is whole sentence in apposition to the following קוֹל, as in Ecclesiastes 12:14 to the preceding מַעֲשֶׂה.

FN#7 - Jeremiah 42:6.—אֲבַוּThe form occurs only here in the Old testament. Comp, Olsh, § 95, b, 5. It is indeed possible that it was not incorrectly put into the mouth of the people, for the form usual is post-biblical Hebrew may have been a popular expression even at that that time.

FN#8 - Jeremiah 42:6.—כִּי is here necessarily because, not if. For there is not question about their obeying. They will obey, but expect prosperity from this obedience as such, apart from the immediate result of the step commanded them. Comp. Jeremiah 24:7.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 40:1-3. “Although the calamity, which has come upon Jerusalem, is great and terrible, God does not allow such evil to befal it that good will not result from it, as the Chaldean captain not obscurely intimates, that he has made a fair beginning in the knowledge of the true God. For he confesses, first, that the God of the prophet is a lord; secondly, that He knows future things; thirdly, that He causes His servants to proclaim these beforehand; fourthly, that God has conducted the war and done everything; fifthly, that He was displeased with the sinful manners of the people (among which idolatry was the worst); sixthly, that He has punished their disobedience to His word.” Cramer.

2. On Jeremiah 40:4. “The friendliness, shown to the prophet, appears to proceed from men, but it comes from God. For God’s works are all made so that they are hidden among the creatures; for as He conceals His wisdom in the creation of heaven and earth, as He hides His kindness in the fruits of the earth, so also He disguises His help in the king of Babylon. For God executes. His works now by rational and anon by irrational creatures. As when He fed Elijah by the widow and by the ravens and by the angels ( 1 Kings 17:3 sqq.; 14sqq. and Jeremiah 19:5). For all are His instruments.” Cramer.

3. On Jeremiah 40:2-3. “Nebusaradan attestatione sua comprobat et confirmat veritatem ac certitudinem prædictionum prophetæ. Unde haud inscite colligi conjicique potest, quod Satrapa ille Babylonicus præditus fuerit agnitione veri Dei eâque salvatus. Et sic Deus subinde aliquos ex Magnatibus ad sui agnitionem et æternam salutem traducit ( Psalm 68). Potest istud exemplum ἐλεγκτικῶς obverti absoluto Calvinianorum decreto.” Förster.

4. On Jeremiah 40:5. “In this, that Jeremiah preferred remaining in the country to going to Babylon, it strikes me further—that a discreet Prayer of Manasseh, who knows the world and his heart and the true interest of God’s cause—is as much as possible contented, and does not think to better himself by going further. He is willing to remain at court unknown, and at any rate he would rather be taken away than go away.—The advice, which Solomon gives, is verified, ‘Stand not in the place of great men.’ We are a generation of the cross, and our symbol is ‘an evil name and little understood.’ ” Zinzendorf.

5. On Jeremiah 40:5. In Babylonia honor and a comfortable life invited the prophet, in Judea danger, dishonor and need in the desolated country. In Babylonia a respectable field of labor was opened to him among the great mass of his people, in Judea he had only rabble and condottieri about him. Jeremiah, however, was not a bad patriot, as many accused him of being. By remaining in Judea he showed that the import of his prophecies, apparently friendly to the Chaldeans and hostile to the Jews, had proceeded from the purest love to his people and his fatherland. Thus he imitated Moses, of whom it is written in Hebrews 11:25, that he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. The holy ground of the fatherland bound him to it, and in addition—if he went, who was to take spiritual oversight of the poor forsaken remnant, to proclaim the word of God and bestow on them consolation and admonition? Those who were in Babylon had Ezekiel. And could not the Lord raise up other prophets for them? So he remained with the sheep, who had no shepherd. Jeremiah had not sought his own through his whole life, nor did he here.

6. On Jeremiah 40:7 sqq. “Human reason, and indeed nature shows, that in worldly government men cannot be without a head. For as the been cannot be without a queen, or the sheep without a shepherd, so no large number of people can exist without a head and government. God has wisely ordered it, and we should be thankful for the authorities.” Cramer.

7. On Jeremiah 40:11 sqq. We may well perceive in this “remnant of Judah” a fulfilment of the prophecy in Isaiah 6:11 sqq.: “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without Prayer of Manasseh, and the land be utterly desolate, and Jehovah have removed men far away, and great is the forsaking in the midst of the land. And if a tenth remains in it, this again must be removed. Yet as the terebinth and the oak, in which when they are felled, a ground-stock still remains, so is its stock a holy scion.”

8. On Jeremiah 40:13 sqq. Gedaliah, in whom not only Nebuchadnezzar, but also his people, had confidence, must have been a noble Prayer of Manasseh, to whom it was difficult to think evil of his neighbor. “Those who are of a pious disposition, cannot believe so much evil, as is told of people. But we must not trust too much, for the world is full of falseness (Wisd37:3). He who believes too easily, will be often deceived, and he who believes no one is also deceived. Therefore is he indeed a happy Prayer of Manasseh, who can preserve the golden mean.” Cramer.

9. On Jeremiah 40:13 sqq. “Misfortune is like the waves of the sea; when one is broken another follows, and the end of one trouble is the beginning of others.” Cramer.

10. On Jeremiah 41:1-3. “Judas’s kiss and Jacob’s brethren are very common in the world and take after their grandfather Cain, who spake kindly to Abel and yet had blood-thirsty thoughts ( Genesis 4:8). Yea, they take after their father, the devil, who is a murderous spirit ( John 8:44), and disguises himself as an angel of light ( 2 Corinthians 11:14).” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 41:1 sqq. “Similia perfidiæ exempla (simulatæ fraternitatis): 2 Samuel 13:24; 2 Samuel 20:9 sq. Quadrat etiam huc historia nuptiarum Parisiensium celebratum 1572 mense Augusto.” Förster.

12. On Jer 41:4 sqq.

“Murder and avarice love to go with each other,

And one crime is often a prolific mother.”—Cramer.

13. On Jeremiah 41:16 sqq. It is very remarkable that even this last centre and rendezvous of the unfortunate people must be destroyed. It might be supposed that with the destruction of the city and deportation of the people the judgments would have terminated. It seems as if the deed of Ishmael and the removal of the remnant to Egypt transcended the measure of punishment fixed by Jehovah, for the Lord did not send Ishmael, and the removal to Egypt He directly forbade. And yet it seems that only by Ishmael’s act and the flight to Egypt could the land obtain its Sabbath rest, which is spoken of in Leviticus 26:34-35.

14. On Jeremiah 42:1-6. “Had not Johanan and his people asked for advice, but gone directly to Egypt, their sin would not have been so great. They feigned, however, submission to the will of God, while they yet adhered to their own will. It is a common fault for people to ask advice while they are firmly resolved what they will do. For they inquire not to learn what is right, but only to receive encouragement to do what they wish. If we advise them according to their inclination they take our advice, if not, they reject it.—We must be on our guard when we appeal to God’s decision, that we do not previously decide for ourselves. For thus we fall into hypocrisy, which is the most fatal intoxication and blindness.” Heim and Hoffman, The Major Prophets. [“Those will justly lose their comfort in real fears, that excuse themselves in sin with pretended fears.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

15. On Jeremiah 42:7. After the murder of Gedaliah the anger of Nebuchadnezzar seemed inevitable. But the Lord, to whom nothing is impossible ( Jeremiah 32:17), promises to perform a miracle, and restore Israel to new prosperity in their land if they will give Him the honor and trust in Him. Nebuchadnezzar’s heart is indeed in His hand. If this is not acknowledged and Nebuchadnezzar more feared than the Lord, their sin is then against the first commandment.

16. On Jeremiah 42:13 sqq. “God reminds His people of the favor with which He adopted them as His people, which was the most sacred obligation to obedience; that Egypt was to them a land of destruction, a forbidden land, as indeed all confidence in human aid is forbidden to those who would live by faith, which was known to them from the history of their fathers and all the prophets. It is a great sin to deem one’s self safer under the protection of man than under that of God. It is incomprehensible, how blind unbelief makes people, so that the Jews have not yet learned the truth in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of God.” Heim and Hoffman. “Fides futurorum certa est ex præcedentibus.” Tertull. “Venient hæc quoque sicut ista venerunt.” Augustin.—Förster.

17. On Jeremiah 43:2 sqq. “Hypocrites forsooth do not wish to be regarded as rejecting and setting themselves in opposition to God’s word, or accusing God of falsehood. For then is all the world pious, and no one refuses to be submissive to the dear Lord. God is truly God and remains so. It is only against this parson Jeremiah that they must act he lies, he is not sent, his ruling and preaching cannot be endured.” Cramer.

18. On Jeremiah 43:3. “Observe the old diabolical trick: when preachers practice God’s word and their office with zeal, the world understands how to baptize it with another name and call it personal interest, as even here Baruch must bear the blame, as if he only wished to vent his anger on them and be contrary,” Cramer.

19. On Jeremiah 43:6. The ancients here examine the question why Jeremiah accompanied the people to Egypt and take occasion to discuss the1 Comm. de fuga ministrorum with reference to Augustin. Epist. 150 ad Honorar. With respect to Jeremiah, it is clear that he did all in his power to avert the journey to Egypt. After the whole people, however, were once on their way it was impossible for him and Baruch to remain alone in the deserted country. They were obliged to go with their flock. The more these were wandering, the more need they had of the shepherds. Thus, even if they were not compelled, they had to go with them. It seems, however, to follow from the expression וַיִַּקּח, Jeremiah 43:5, that no choice was given them. The people wished to have the prophet with them. In no case can we say that Jeremiah fled, for according to his own prophecy, he knew that he was going to meet ruin in Egypt.

20. On Jeremiah 43:8-13. At the present day when we wish to convey to posterity the account of some accomplished fact, or the prediction of some fact to be accomplished (ex. gr. a last testament), we take paper and ink, write it down, seal it, have it subscribed by witnesses and preserve it in the registrar’s or recorder’s office. In ancient times they took a simpler and surer way. Jacob and Laban simply erected a heap of stones ( Genesis 31), the two and a half tribes ( Joshua 22) built an altar on the bank of the Jordan. As long as the heap and the altar were standing, the record was transmitted from generation to generation for what object these stone witnesses were set up, and thus, that which it was desired to convey to posterity lived in the memory of men. Jeremiah also knows how to use ink and pen ( Jeremiah 32), but here he returns once more to the old manner of preserving archives. He simply places great stones in the clay, declaring what they signify, viz., that here, on this spot, Nebuchadnezzar’s tent shall stand. Whether the Egyptians and Jews then believed him or not, is of no consequence. The record of these stones and their meaning at any rate remained alive, and the Lord’s word was thus safely preserved till the day of its fulfilment.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 40:1-12; Jeremiah 41:1-3; Jeremiah 42:1-16. Israel, the chosen nation, is in its destinies a type of human life in general. Consider only the exodus from Egypt. So also the destinies of the people of Israel, after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, are pretypical. For1. The deportation of the whole people in chains and fetters is a type of our universal human misery, from which no one (not even Jeremiah) is free2. The fate of Gedaliah and the journey to Egypt is a type of the insufficiency of all mere human help3. As the Jews after Gedaliah’s murder, so men at all times, find protection and deliverance in the Lord alone.

2. On Jeremiah 40:1-6. The Christian in the tumult of the world1. He is regarded externally like others2. The eye of the Lord watches with special care over him, so that (a) not a hair of his head is bent, (b) all his wants are provided for3. Hebrews, however, on his part directs all his efforts to the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and will not be turned aside from this either by the violence or the friendliness of the world.

3. On Jeremiah 40:7 to Jeremiah 41:3. Gedaliah’s fate an example of what befals even the most noble in times of deep corruption1. They enjoy general confidence2. They are incapable of attributing extreme wickedness to men3. They become a sacrifice to their confidence4. They are therefore not in a condition to stay the divine judgments.

4. On Jeremiah 42:1-16. What is the surest way of coming to the right conclusion in difficult cases? 1. To inquire of the Lord2. To obey unconditionally the direction which the Lord communicates. [“We must still in faith pray to be guided by a spirit of wisdom in our hearts, and the hints of Providence.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

5. On Jeremiah 43:1-7. Characteristic example of the artfulness of the human heart: the Jews inquire of the Lord and promise to obey His direction ( Jeremiah 42:20). But when the direction does not accord with their wish, they at once declare it to be supposititious, not from the Lord. The prophet must be a liar, an alleged enemy has incited him. But what was long previously determined in the heart is obstinately brought to execution. [“Those that are resolved to contradict the great ends of the ministry, are industrious to bring a bad name upon it. It is well for persons who are thus misrepresented that their witness is in heaven, and their record on high.” Henry.—S. R. A.].

6. On Jeremiah 43:8-13. The ways of the Lord are wonderful. Israel flees before Nebuchadnezzar far away to Egypt. But there they are not safe. The Lord causes it to be proclaimed to them that at the entrance of the king’s palace at Tahpanhes Nebuchadnezzar’s tent shall stand. Now indeed there is a brick-kiln there, in the clay of which Jeremiah is to place stones, the foundation stones, as it were, for the Chaldean king’s pavilion. Thus the Lord lays the germs of future events, and whatever He prepares in secret He reveals in His own time to the glory of His Wisdom of Solomon, omniscience and omnipotence.


Verses 7-22

7. THE UNWELCOME ANSWER

Jeremiah 42:7-22

7And it came to pass after ten days, that [or that after ten days] the word of the 8 Lord [Jehovah] came unto Jeremiah. Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces [band-leaders] which were with him, and all the 9 people from the least even to the greatest, and said unto them, Thus saith the Lord [Jehovah] the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication 10 before him; If ye will still abide[FN9]in this laud, then will I build you, and not pull you down; and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me 11 of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the Lord: for I am with you to 12 save you, and to deliver you from his hand. And I will shew mercies unto [prepare pity for][FN10]you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return[FN11]13to your own land. But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the 14 voice of the Lord your God, Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where [that] 12]we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have 15 hunger of [for][FN13]bread; and there will we dwell: and now[FN14] therefore hear the word of the Lord, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the Lord of hosts [Jehovah Zebaoth] the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, 16and go to sojourn there; then it shall come to pass[FN15] that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; and the famine, whereof ye were 17 afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die. So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them 18 shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them. For thus saith the Lord of hosts [Jehovah Zebaoth] the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt; and ye shall be an execration, and an astonishment [horror] and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shalt 19 see this place no more. The Lord hath said concerning you [Jehovah hath spoken to you] O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I:20 have admonished [warned][FN16] you this day. For ye dissembled in your hearts [deceived yourselves],[FN17] when[FN18] ye sent me unto the Lord your God, saying, Pray for us unto the Lord our God; and according unto all that the Lord our God shall 21 say, so declare unto us and we will do it. And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the Lord your God, nor any thing[FN19] 22for the which he hath sent me unto you. Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

After ten days the prophet receives answer from the Lord, which he immediately communicates to the leaders, and to the whole people ( Jeremiah 42:7-8). If they remain in the country they shall have nothing to fear from the Chaldeans, but the Lord will so direct the heart of the king that he will aid in their restoration ( Jeremiah 42:9-12). If, however, they do not remain in the country, but from fear of the Chaldeans flee to Egypt, they shall perish there by the same calamities, which they thought to escape by flight ( Jeremiah 42:13-18). Finally the prophet urgently admonishes them not to despise this warning, although he knows only too well, that it was pure self-deception when they inquired of the Lord by Him, since they had already resolved not to obey the Lord’s command. Well, they shall also know, that they will come to their ruin in the place, whither their desires lead them ( Jeremiah 42:19-22.)

Jeremiah 42:7-12. And it came to pass … your own land. The opinion of Hitzig and Graf, that Jeremiah used the ten days in procuring information and arriving at a clear and firm conviction, is in accordance with modern science but not with history. The prophet really received the answer to his prayer for divine direction (comp. Jeremiah 42:4; Jeremiah 32:16) not until after ten days. It is significant that he received it on the tenth day (comp. Ezekiel 3:16), although we cannot stop here to investigate the ground of this significance (comp. [on symbolical numbers] Herzog, Real-Enc., XVIII, S. 381). On to present, etc., comp. Jeremiah 38:26.—On for I repent, etc. comp. Jeremiah 26:3.—Cause you to return. When we consider, that the prophet has in view not only the return of those who had been already carried away into exile, but may also with perfect correctness regard those as such who have assembled at Bethlehem and prepared to leave their home, turning their back upon it, the alteration [cause to dwell] proposed in the text seems unnecessary. It was not unpatriotic policy, nor indolence, nor selfishness, nor any view based on human foresight, which caused the prophet to speak thus. For, humanly considered, there was nothing left for the Jews but flight. The hope for further indulgence on the part of the Chaldean king must, seem like madness. The prophet, however, does not reckon alone with human factors. He is the organ of God, to whom nothing is impossible ( Jeremiah 32:26 sqq.), and who especially has the hearts of kings in His hand, and turns them whithersoever He will ( Proverbs 21:1).

Jeremiah 42:13-18. But if ye say … this place no more. The words from neither obey, Jeremiah 42:13, to dwell, Jeremiah 42:14, are a parenthesis.—Sound of the trumpet. Comp. Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 4:21.—Remnant, etc. Comp. Jeremiah 41:16; Jeremiah 42:2; Jeremiah 42:19; Jeremiah 43:5.—Wholly set your faces. Comp. Jeremiah 42:17; Jeremiah 44:12; 2 Kings 12:18.—By sword, famine and pestilence (comp. Jeremiah 14:12; Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 27:8; Jeremiah 27:13; Jeremiah 29:18; Jeremiah 32:3 b; Jeremiah 38:2; Jeremiah 44:13), will the disobedient perish in Egypt, and not a single individual will escape (comp. Jeremiah 44:14; Lamentations 2:22; Joshua 8:22). As on Jerusalem, so also on them will the fury of the Lord be poured out ( Jeremiah 7:20; 2 Chronicles 34:21); they shall become an object of cursing, horror and derision (comp. Jeremiah 24:9; Jeremiah 25:18; Jeremiah 44:22, etc.), and never return to their native land (comp. rems. on Jeremiah 7:3).

Jeremiah 42:19-22. Jehovah hath … to sojourn. In a very earnest closing speech the prophet sets forth that the Lord Himself has spoken to the people. Then he reminds them that they have been warned. They cannot then have the excuse of ignorance. In the third place the prophet discovers to them their self-delusion. They perhaps imagined that they honestly desired the right, when they commissioned him to present their petition before God. What, however, is opposed to this honest intention easily appears to them to be incorrect, and therefore justifying them in resistance. The prophet therefore desires to convince them that they did not honestly wish to do the right. It was self-deception, when they declared themselves ready to obey unconditionally the divine command.—In the fourth place, the prophet tells them before they had opened their mouth to reply, what was now passing in their minds, viz., that they had formed the fixed resolution not to obey the faithfully reported direction of Jehovah, in spite of their solemn declaration given in Jeremiah 42:5-6.—In the fifth place, finally, he proclaims to them, that the very place, to which an irresistible longing attracts them, will be their destruction. He announces this apodictically, because he knows that they will inevitably do what will bring them to this.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 40:1-3. “Although the calamity, which has come upon Jerusalem, is great and terrible, God does not allow such evil to befal it that good will not result from it, as the Chaldean captain not obscurely intimates, that he has made a fair beginning in the knowledge of the true God. For he confesses, first, that the God of the prophet is a lord; secondly, that He knows future things; thirdly, that He causes His servants to proclaim these beforehand; fourthly, that God has conducted the war and done everything; fifthly, that He was displeased with the sinful manners of the people (among which idolatry was the worst); sixthly, that He has punished their disobedience to His word.” Cramer.

2. On Jeremiah 40:4. “The friendliness, shown to the prophet, appears to proceed from men, but it comes from God. For God’s works are all made so that they are hidden among the creatures; for as He conceals His wisdom in the creation of heaven and earth, as He hides His kindness in the fruits of the earth, so also He disguises His help in the king of Babylon. For God executes. His works now by rational and anon by irrational creatures. As when He fed Elijah by the widow and by the ravens and by the angels ( 1 Kings 17:3 sqq.; 14sqq. and Jeremiah 19:5). For all are His instruments.” Cramer.

3. On Jeremiah 40:2-3. “Nebusaradan attestatione sua comprobat et confirmat veritatem ac certitudinem prædictionum prophetæ. Unde haud inscite colligi conjicique potest, quod Satrapa ille Babylonicus præditus fuerit agnitione veri Dei eâque salvatus. Et sic Deus subinde aliquos ex Magnatibus ad sui agnitionem et æternam salutem traducit ( Psalm 68). Potest istud exemplum ἐλεγκτικῶς obverti absoluto Calvinianorum decreto.” Förster.

4. On Jeremiah 40:5. “In this, that Jeremiah preferred remaining in the country to going to Babylon, it strikes me further—that a discreet Prayer of Manasseh, who knows the world and his heart and the true interest of God’s cause—is as much as possible contented, and does not think to better himself by going further. He is willing to remain at court unknown, and at any rate he would rather be taken away than go away.—The advice, which Solomon gives, is verified, ‘Stand not in the place of great men.’ We are a generation of the cross, and our symbol is ‘an evil name and little understood.’ ” Zinzendorf.

5. On Jeremiah 40:5. In Babylonia honor and a comfortable life invited the prophet, in Judea danger, dishonor and need in the desolated country. In Babylonia a respectable field of labor was opened to him among the great mass of his people, in Judea he had only rabble and condottieri about him. Jeremiah, however, was not a bad patriot, as many accused him of being. By remaining in Judea he showed that the import of his prophecies, apparently friendly to the Chaldeans and hostile to the Jews, had proceeded from the purest love to his people and his fatherland. Thus he imitated Moses, of whom it is written in Hebrews 11:25, that he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. The holy ground of the fatherland bound him to it, and in addition—if he went, who was to take spiritual oversight of the poor forsaken remnant, to proclaim the word of God and bestow on them consolation and admonition? Those who were in Babylon had Ezekiel. And could not the Lord raise up other prophets for them? So he remained with the sheep, who had no shepherd. Jeremiah had not sought his own through his whole life, nor did he here.

6. On Jeremiah 40:7 sqq. “Human reason, and indeed nature shows, that in worldly government men cannot be without a head. For as the been cannot be without a queen, or the sheep without a shepherd, so no large number of people can exist without a head and government. God has wisely ordered it, and we should be thankful for the authorities.” Cramer.

7. On Jeremiah 40:11 sqq. We may well perceive in this “remnant of Judah” a fulfilment of the prophecy in Isaiah 6:11 sqq.: “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without Prayer of Manasseh, and the land be utterly desolate, and Jehovah have removed men far away, and great is the forsaking in the midst of the land. And if a tenth remains in it, this again must be removed. Yet as the terebinth and the oak, in which when they are felled, a ground-stock still remains, so is its stock a holy scion.”

8. On Jeremiah 40:13 sqq. Gedaliah, in whom not only Nebuchadnezzar, but also his people, had confidence, must have been a noble Prayer of Manasseh, to whom it was difficult to think evil of his neighbor. “Those who are of a pious disposition, cannot believe so much evil, as is told of people. But we must not trust too much, for the world is full of falseness (Wisd37:3). He who believes too easily, will be often deceived, and he who believes no one is also deceived. Therefore is he indeed a happy Prayer of Manasseh, who can preserve the golden mean.” Cramer.

9. On Jeremiah 40:13 sqq. “Misfortune is like the waves of the sea; when one is broken another follows, and the end of one trouble is the beginning of others.” Cramer.

10. On Jeremiah 41:1-3. “Judas’s kiss and Jacob’s brethren are very common in the world and take after their grandfather Cain, who spake kindly to Abel and yet had blood-thirsty thoughts ( Genesis 4:8). Yea, they take after their father, the devil, who is a murderous spirit ( John 8:44), and disguises himself as an angel of light ( 2 Corinthians 11:14).” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 41:1 sqq. “Similia perfidiæ exempla (simulatæ fraternitatis): 2 Samuel 13:24; 2 Samuel 20:9 sq. Quadrat etiam huc historia nuptiarum Parisiensium celebratum 1572 mense Augusto.” Förster.

12. On Jer 41:4 sqq.

“Murder and avarice love to go with each other,

And one crime is often a prolific mother.”—Cramer.

13. On Jeremiah 41:16 sqq. It is very remarkable that even this last centre and rendezvous of the unfortunate people must be destroyed. It might be supposed that with the destruction of the city and deportation of the people the judgments would have terminated. It seems as if the deed of Ishmael and the removal of the remnant to Egypt transcended the measure of punishment fixed by Jehovah, for the Lord did not send Ishmael, and the removal to Egypt He directly forbade. And yet it seems that only by Ishmael’s act and the flight to Egypt could the land obtain its Sabbath rest, which is spoken of in Leviticus 26:34-35.

14. On Jeremiah 42:1-6. “Had not Johanan and his people asked for advice, but gone directly to Egypt, their sin would not have been so great. They feigned, however, submission to the will of God, while they yet adhered to their own will. It is a common fault for people to ask advice while they are firmly resolved what they will do. For they inquire not to learn what is right, but only to receive encouragement to do what they wish. If we advise them according to their inclination they take our advice, if not, they reject it.—We must be on our guard when we appeal to God’s decision, that we do not previously decide for ourselves. For thus we fall into hypocrisy, which is the most fatal intoxication and blindness.” Heim and Hoffman, The Major Prophets. [“Those will justly lose their comfort in real fears, that excuse themselves in sin with pretended fears.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

15. On Jeremiah 42:7. After the murder of Gedaliah the anger of Nebuchadnezzar seemed inevitable. But the Lord, to whom nothing is impossible ( Jeremiah 32:17), promises to perform a miracle, and restore Israel to new prosperity in their land if they will give Him the honor and trust in Him. Nebuchadnezzar’s heart is indeed in His hand. If this is not acknowledged and Nebuchadnezzar more feared than the Lord, their sin is then against the first commandment.

16. On Jeremiah 42:13 sqq. “God reminds His people of the favor with which He adopted them as His people, which was the most sacred obligation to obedience; that Egypt was to them a land of destruction, a forbidden land, as indeed all confidence in human aid is forbidden to those who would live by faith, which was known to them from the history of their fathers and all the prophets. It is a great sin to deem one’s self safer under the protection of man than under that of God. It is incomprehensible, how blind unbelief makes people, so that the Jews have not yet learned the truth in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of God.” Heim and Hoffman. “Fides futurorum certa est ex præcedentibus.” Tertull. “Venient hæc quoque sicut ista venerunt.” Augustin.—Förster.

17. On Jeremiah 43:2 sqq. “Hypocrites forsooth do not wish to be regarded as rejecting and setting themselves in opposition to God’s word, or accusing God of falsehood. For then is all the world pious, and no one refuses to be submissive to the dear Lord. God is truly God and remains so. It is only against this parson Jeremiah that they must act he lies, he is not sent, his ruling and preaching cannot be endured.” Cramer.

18. On Jeremiah 43:3. “Observe the old diabolical trick: when preachers practice God’s word and their office with zeal, the world understands how to baptize it with another name and call it personal interest, as even here Baruch must bear the blame, as if he only wished to vent his anger on them and be contrary,” Cramer.

19. On Jeremiah 43:6. The ancients here examine the question why Jeremiah accompanied the people to Egypt and take occasion to discuss the1 Comm. de fuga ministrorum with reference to Augustin. Epist. 150 ad Honorar. With respect to Jeremiah, it is clear that he did all in his power to avert the journey to Egypt. After the whole people, however, were once on their way it was impossible for him and Baruch to remain alone in the deserted country. They were obliged to go with their flock. The more these were wandering, the more need they had of the shepherds. Thus, even if they were not compelled, they had to go with them. It seems, however, to follow from the expression וַיִַּקּח, Jeremiah 43:5, that no choice was given them. The people wished to have the prophet with them. In no case can we say that Jeremiah fled, for according to his own prophecy, he knew that he was going to meet ruin in Egypt.

20. On Jeremiah 43:8-13. At the present day when we wish to convey to posterity the account of some accomplished fact, or the prediction of some fact to be accomplished (ex. gr. a last testament), we take paper and ink, write it down, seal it, have it subscribed by witnesses and preserve it in the registrar’s or recorder’s office. In ancient times they took a simpler and surer way. Jacob and Laban simply erected a heap of stones ( Genesis 31), the two and a half tribes ( Joshua 22) built an altar on the bank of the Jordan. As long as the heap and the altar were standing, the record was transmitted from generation to generation for what object these stone witnesses were set up, and thus, that which it was desired to convey to posterity lived in the memory of men. Jeremiah also knows how to use ink and pen ( Jeremiah 32), but here he returns once more to the old manner of preserving archives. He simply places great stones in the clay, declaring what they signify, viz., that here, on this spot, Nebuchadnezzar’s tent shall stand. Whether the Egyptians and Jews then believed him or not, is of no consequence. The record of these stones and their meaning at any rate remained alive, and the Lord’s word was thus safely preserved till the day of its fulfilment.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 40:1-12; Jeremiah 41:1-3; Jeremiah 42:1-16. Israel, the chosen nation, is in its destinies a type of human life in general. Consider only the exodus from Egypt. So also the destinies of the people of Israel, after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, are pretypical. For1. The deportation of the whole people in chains and fetters is a type of our universal human misery, from which no one (not even Jeremiah) is free2. The fate of Gedaliah and the journey to Egypt is a type of the insufficiency of all mere human help3. As the Jews after Gedaliah’s murder, so men at all times, find protection and deliverance in the Lord alone.

2. On Jeremiah 40:1-6. The Christian in the tumult of the world1. He is regarded externally like others2. The eye of the Lord watches with special care over him, so that (a) not a hair of his head is bent, (b) all his wants are provided for3. Hebrews, however, on his part directs all his efforts to the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and will not be turned aside from this either by the violence or the friendliness of the world.

3. On Jeremiah 40:7 to Jeremiah 41:3. Gedaliah’s fate an example of what befals even the most noble in times of deep corruption1. They enjoy general confidence2. They are incapable of attributing extreme wickedness to men3. They become a sacrifice to their confidence4. They are therefore not in a condition to stay the divine judgments.

4. On Jeremiah 42:1-16. What is the surest way of coming to the right conclusion in difficult cases? 1. To inquire of the Lord2. To obey unconditionally the direction which the Lord communicates. [“We must still in faith pray to be guided by a spirit of wisdom in our hearts, and the hints of Providence.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

5. On Jeremiah 43:1-7. Characteristic example of the artfulness of the human heart: the Jews inquire of the Lord and promise to obey His direction ( Jeremiah 42:20). But when the direction does not accord with their wish, they at once declare it to be supposititious, not from the Lord. The prophet must be a liar, an alleged enemy has incited him. But what was long previously determined in the heart is obstinately brought to execution. [“Those that are resolved to contradict the great ends of the ministry, are industrious to bring a bad name upon it. It is well for persons who are thus misrepresented that their witness is in heaven, and their record on high.” Henry.—S. R. A.].

6. On Jeremiah 43:8-13. The ways of the Lord are wonderful. Israel flees before Nebuchadnezzar far away to Egypt. But there they are not safe. The Lord causes it to be proclaimed to them that at the entrance of the king’s palace at Tahpanhes Nebuchadnezzar’s tent shall stand. Now indeed there is a brick-kiln there, in the clay of which Jeremiah is to place stones, the foundation stones, as it were, for the Chaldean king’s pavilion. Thus the Lord lays the germs of future events, and whatever He prepares in secret He reveals in His own time to the glory of His Wisdom of Solomon, omniscience and omnipotence.

Footnotes:

FN#9 - Jeremiah 42:10.—שׁוב is evidently abbreviated from יָשׁוֹב, since the sense renders the derivation from שׁוּב Chr B.Michaelis and Rosenmuller, indeed translate, si rivertendo illuc manseritis in hac terra. But then the Inf. abs. would be placed after the finite verb. Comp. Naegelsb Gr., § 93, e.—This apocopation of י is certainly unexampled in this form but most readily assumed in a verb פי׳ according to the analogy of the Ing. constr. and Imperfect Comp. besides Olsh, § 89; 170 a Anm.; 245, h. Anm.

FN#10 - Jeremiah 42:12.—From the following sentence it is evident that נתן רי here does not mean “to show compassion,” but “to prepare pity, to procure it on the part of another.” Comp. Genesis 43:14.

FN#11 - Jeremiah 42:12.—והשׁיב. Lxx, Vulg, Syr, J. D. Michaelis, Hitzig, Ewald, Graf, would read, הוֹשִׁיב, but this would not agree with the following אֵל. Comp. also Exeg and Crit. rems. [Blayney: would settle you in, etc.—S. R. A.]

FN#12 - Jeremiah 42:14.—אֲשֶׁד= that. Comp. Genesis 11:7; Exodus 20:23; Deuteronomy 4:40; Deuteronomy 4:3.

FN#13 - Jeremiah 42:14.—ללהם. From Amos 8:11 we perceive that the meaning of the expression Isaiah, to hunger for or after bread.

FN#14 - Jeremiah 42:15.—With וְעַתָּה begins the apodosis (paratactically introduced. Comp. Naegelsb Gr., § 110, 2) to וְאִם in Jeremiah 42:13.

FN#15 - Jeremiah 42:16.—והיתה has this form by attraction, as well as וְיִהְיוּ Jeremiah 42:17. Comp. Ewald § 345, b.

FN#16 - Jeremiah 42:19. —הֵעִיד, literally to bring in witnesses, then to adduce testimony (according to the directly causative mode of speaking, on which comp. Naegelsb Gr., § 18, 3). From the idea of giving testimony is developed that of earnest solemn address, admonition, warning. comp. Psalm 50:7; Deuteronomy 8:19; Jeremiah 9:7

FN#17 - Jeremiah 42:20.—הִתְעָה is also to be regarded as directly causative=errationem fecit (Gesen.)Comp. Proverbs 10:17. It is therefore doubtful whether בְּ indicates the object or the place. The word is at least not found elsewhere with בְּ of the person. The prophet might well say, ye have erred in your souls, i.e., in your volition and thought, and have thus taken a false direction, while ye supposed ye were on the right track. The Chethibh התעתים is evidently a mistake. The Keri is correct הִתְעֵיתֶם [Noyes strangely renders, “ye err to your ruin.”—S. R. A.

FN#18 - Jeremiah 42:20.—בי =when. Comp. Judges 2:18; Psalm 32:3; Ezekiel 3:19.

FN#19 - Jeremiah 42:21.—ולכל may mean, and indeed with respect to all, etc. Since, however, only one point is treated of, the emphatic expression of a multiplicity of points is remarkable. I therefore think that the word stands in simple parallelism to the first clause, while שָׁמַע is construed only with לְ instead of with בְּ a construction which (apart from שִָׁמַע לְקול Genesis 3:17; Judges 2:20; Psalm 58:6) is peculiar to the latter idiom: Nehemiah 9:29; Nehemiah 13:27; 2 Chronicles 10:16; Daniel 1:14; Leviticus 26:21. A Double disobedience is thus declared against Jehovah and against the prophet.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 42:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/jeremiah-42.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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