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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Jeremiah 7

 

 

Verses 1-34

3. THE THIRD DISCOURSE

Chaps7–10

The time of this discourse may be determined pretty accurately, since Jeremiah 26. gives us information concerning the historical circumstances in which the discourse was delivered. We learn from it that in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim Jeremiah received from Jehovah the commission to place himself in the fore-court of the temple, and to announce to all the Jews who had come to worship (comp. Jeremiah 26:2 with Jeremiah 7:2) that if they continued to act in opposition to the repeated admonitions of the prophets ( Jeremiah 26:5, and Jeremiah 7:13; Jeremiah 7:25) the Lord would make the temple like Shiloh, (comp. Jeremiah 26:3-13 with Jeremiah 7:3-14). Since the enemies who are to execute this judgment are still designated generally as a people coming from the North (comp. Jeremiah 8:16), and not yet definitely as the Chaldeans, the discourse must have been delivered before the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Comp. infra on Jeremiah 25:1. The place which the discourse occupies in the book is therefore in accordance with the principle of chronological are arrangement.

The contents of the discourse may be distinguished as follows:

Main thought: Indictment of the people on account of their three prevailing vices, with threatening of punishment.

I. FIRST CHARGE

I. Hypocritical Mingling Of The Worship Of Jehovah With Idolatry, And Other Moral Abominations

Jeremiah 7:1 to Jeremiah 8:3

1. Fundamental: the fundamental requirement and promise, Jeremiah 7:1-7

2. Their demoralizing trust in the outward temple-service. Admonitory reference to Shiloh, Jeremiah 7:8-15.

3. The hypocrisy of the worship of Jehovah, boasted of in Jeremiah 7:4 sqq. is evinced by the idolatry practised elsewhere. Thus the nation is provoking a severe and inevitable judgment, Jeremiah 7:16-20.

4. Refutation of the objection that the Lord Himself commanded the outward temple-service, Jeremiah 7:21-28.

5. The abomination of idolatry in the highest degree a most evident proof of the hypocrisy of the people. Beginning of retribution, Jeremiah 7:29-34.

6. The fulfilment of retribution corresponding to the idol abominations, Jeremiah 8:1-3.

II. SECOND CHARGE

Their Ruinous Persistence In Evil

Jeremiah 8:4-22

7. Their stiff-necked impenitence and its punishment, Jeremiah 8:4-12.

8. Further portrayal of the visitation announced in Jeremiah 7:12; Jeremiah 8:13-17.

9. Continuation: The visitation ends with the carrying away captive of Israel, to the inexpressible grief of the people and the prophet, Jeremiah 8:18-22.

III. THIRD CHARGE

The General Entire Absence Of Truth And Faith

Jeremiah 9:1-21

10. Description of the prevailing deceit, Jeremiah 9:1-8.

11. First punishment: Desolation of the land and dispersion of the people, Jeremiah 9:9-15.

12. Second punishment: Death snatching away an innumerable sacrifice, Jeremiah 9:16-21.

IV. CONCLUSION

Jeremiah 9:22-25; Jeremiah 10:16-25

13. The only means of escape and the reason why it is not used, Jeremiah 9:22-25.

14. The beginning of the end of retribution: Command to the people to retire; Lament of the desolated land; last watch-cry of the prophet: the enemy is here, Jeremiah 10:17-22.

15. Consolatory glance into the future, Jeremiah 10:23-25.

______

I. FIRST CHARGE

The Hypocritical Mingling Of The Service Of Jehovah With Idolatry And Other Moral Abominations

Jeremiah 7:1 to Jeremiah 8:3

1. Fundamental: the fundamental requirement and promise

Jeremiah 7:1-7

1 The word which came to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying:

2 Stand in the gate of the house of Jehovah

And proclaim there this word, and say:

Hear the word of Jehovah, all ye of Judah,

Who have entered at these gates to worship Jehovah.

3 Thus saith Jehovah Zebaoth, the God of Israel;

Amend your ways and your doings,

So will I cause you to dwell[FN1] in this place.

4 Trust[FN2] not to[FN3] those lying words:

“The Lord’s temple, the Lord’s temple, the Lord’s temple is this.”[FN4]

5 But amend your ways and your doings!

If ye execute judgment between every man and his neighbor,

6 Oppress not stranger, orphan and widow,

And shed not innocent blood in this place,

And go not after other gods to your destruction;

7 So will I cause you to dwell in this place,

In the land which I gave to your fathers,

From everlasting to everlasting.[FN5]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The prophet begins with friendly admonition and promise. In Jeremiah 7:3 he briefly states in advance the fundamental requirement and promise. Jeremiah 7:4-7 continue this theme by opposing to false confidence in the apparently infallible objective guarantee of salvation in the possession of the outward temple ( Jeremiah 7:4) exhortation to positive ( Jeremiah 7:5) and negative ( Jeremiah 7:6) fulfilment of the true subjective condition of salvation, after which however the promise, which includes all further salvation for Israel, is repeated more at length. We easily recognize in this strophe the outlines of the whole discourse, for these exhortations correspond, if not in order in contents, exactly with the following exhortations and threatenings, the latter having also for their subject pseudo-worship of Jehovah, idolatry, impenitence, falsehood, deceit, violence, and finally exile.

Jeremiah 7:1-2. The word which came … to worship Jehovah. A similar introductory formula is found in Jeremiah 11:1; Jeremiah 18:1; Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 30:1; Jeremiah 32:1; Jeremiah 34:1; Jeremiah 35:1; Jeremiah 40:1; Jeremiah 44:1.—In the gate of the house. If we compare Jeremiah 26:2, where the historical particulars relating to this discourse are given, we see that Jeremiah delivered it in the fore-court (comp. Jeremiah 19:14). Further information is derived from Jeremiah 36:10, where it is said that Baruch read the book of the words of Jeremiah “in the chamber of Gemariah, in the higher court, at the entrance of the new gate.” Now since this new gate is the same under which the princes called Jeremiah to account for this very discourse ( Jeremiah 26:10), it is highly probable that the gate spoken of was not that which formed the main eastern entrance of the outer court ( Ezekiel 11:1), but one of the gates which led from the outer into the inner or upper court. From this point the prophet could view the whole assembly of the people in the outer court, as well as the gates leading from without into it.—All ye of Judah. A great festival to Jehovah must have brought the whole people together, for they had not sunk into that state of entire alienation, which, ex. gr. prevailed under Prayer of Manasseh, when they no longer worshipped the God of their fathers ( 2 Kings 21:2), but now they served other gods together with Him ( Jeremiah 7:6).

Jeremiah 7:3. Thus saith Jehovah … dwell in this place. These words express as to form the theme of the strophe, but at the same time also as to matter the positive main thought of the whole discourse, which however retires in what follows for the reason stated in Jeremiah 7:24-28.—דֶרֶךְways and מַ‍ֽעֲלָלdoings are distinguished like habitus and actus, the former denoting the inward inclination or disposition of the heart (comp. Jeremiah 5:16), the latter the outward fruits in the life ( Jeremiah 4:13; Jeremiah 18:11; Jeremiah 26:13; Jeremiah 32:19).—Cause to dwell. Comp. Numbers 14:30.—This place. The temple is meant primarily as the centre of the theocracy. Comp. Jeremiah 7:6, where the desecration of the holy places by the shedding of innocent blood is emphasized ( 2 Kings 21:16; 2 Kings 24:4; Matthew 23:35), and then Jeremiah 7:7, where this place and the land are distinguished, and Jeremiah 7:13, where מָקום is distinguished from Shiloh and taken in the more restricted sense of the holy places of worship.

Jeremiah 7:4. Trust not … temple is this. An example of similar threefold repetition is found in Jeremiah 22:29; Isaiah 6:3 coll. 2 Samuel 19:1. For the sense comp. Micah 3:11.—המה. Without this word הֵיכָל would be the subject, and the only meaning would be: templum Esther, i. e., we have God’s temple. With this word הֵיבָל is predicate, and the former the subject, and the difference in the sense is this, that it is not the existence, the possession of the temple generally, which is declared, but the concrete objects, to which the predicate applies, are indicated. We must therefore render this הֵמָּהδεικτικῶς. The plural has been variously explained. The Chaldee refers the threefold repetition to the three main forms of worship and their appearance thrice in the year; Joseph Kimchi to the three divisions of the temple-building (court, sanctuary and holy of holies); Menochius (Vid.Neumann, S. 439) to the Jewish nation itself, coll. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Venema and others to the temple and priests, and with reference to אַתָּה־הוּא ( Psalm 102:28) finds also in הֵמָּה the meaning of continuance and immutability.—In a purely linguistic view הֵמָּה would apply best to the people, and the thought, that the people as the temple of God were safe from all danger to themselves or the sanctuary, would suit the connection. But the mention of the sanctuary at Shiloh ( Jeremiah 7:12; Jeremiah 7:14) requires that in Jeremiah 7:4 also the temple-edifice be referred to. Comp. especially Jeremiah 7:14.—Nothing further then remains but to refer הֵמָּה to the various parts of the temple; not merely the three divisions of the edifice proper, but also the other parts—walls, gates, courts, halls, etc. Still however the plural is remarkable, and a satisfactory explanation of it a desideratum. At any rate we perceive that it was a prevalent delusion among the people that the temple could not be destroyed, because it was Jehovah’s. Three times is this emphatically repeated. And by the temple all else seemed to be secured. Neumann rightly calls attention to the circumstance that the people make use of the prouder expression היכל only, while the prophet speaks only of ביתיﬦ.

Jeremiah 7:5-7. But amend your ways … from everlasting to everlasting. Not the outward temple with its service ensures the favor of Jehovah, but the service, which is offered in His temple by sanctified hearts and which manifests itself in works of righteousness. That such works as are here ( Jeremiah 7:5-6) enumerated pertain especially to the Old Testament “righteousness,” which is opposed not to grace but to violent unrighteousness, is proved by many passages: Psalm 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 17; Jeremiah 10:24-25; Jeremiah 22:3-17; Isaiah 1:17, etc. Comp. Ortloph on the idea of צֶדֶק, etc., in Rudelb. u. Guer1860, III. S. 403.—The אַל before תִּשְׁפְּבוּ is quite abnormal, and there is no other instance of it. Graf correctly supposes that it owes its origin to the similarly sounding sentence, Jeremiah 22:3.—To your destruction. Comp. Jeremiah 25:7.—From everlasting (comp. Jeremiah 7:25) belongs to dwell. Israel is to inhabit the land given to the fathers, from the original epoch ( Jeremiah 6:16; Psalm 24:7) at which they took possession of it even to the remotest future. Comp. on Jeremiah 25:5

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Jeremiah 7:3.—[“The Piel or intensive form of the verb must here have a continuative force, or it must have a permissive signification. There is no example of the simple signification to dwell attaching to this conjugation, so that the rendering of the Vulgate, which Blayney adopts: I will dwell with you is not sustained; comp. Jeremiah 7:12.” Henderson.—S. R. A.]

FN#2 - Jeremiah 7:4.—לָכֶם after תִּבְטְחוּ (comp. Jeremiah 7:8) is Dat. ethicus. Comp. 2 Kings 18:21; 2 Kings 18:24; Song of Solomon 2:17; Naegelsb. Gr. § 112, 5, b.

FN#3 - Jeremiah 7:4.—אֵל־דִּבְדֵי. More frequently בָטַח is followed by כְּ or עַל ( Jeremiah 7:8; Jeremiah 7:14) but אֵל is not unfrequent, Judges 20:36; Judges 3Ki. Jeremiah 18:22; Isaiah 36:7, etc.

FN#4 - Jeremiah 7:4.—[Lit.: are these].

FN#5 - Jeremiah 7:7.—[Or: forever and ever].

2. Demoralizing trust in the outward temple-service. admonitory reference to shiloh

Jeremiah 7:8-15

8 Behold, ye trust in such lying words to your hurt.

9 To steal, murder, commit adultery,[FN6]

Swear falsely and burn incense to Baal,

And follow other gods which ye know not,—

10 And then ye come[FN7] and stand before me in this house,

Which is called by my name: and say:

We are delivered—to do all these abominations?

11 Is then this house which bears my name

Become a den of robbers in your eyes?

Behold! even I have seen it, saith Jehovah.

12 For go now to my place which was in Shiloh

Where I caused my name to dwell at the first,

And see what I have done to it

On account of the wickedness of my people Israel!

13 And now, because ye do all these works, saith Jehovah,

And I spoke to you most urgently,[FN8] but ye heard not.—

I called to you, but ye gave no answer,—

14 Therefore I do to the house which bears my name

In which ye put your trust,

And the place which I gave to you and your fathers,

As I did to Shiloh.

15 And I cast you out from my presence,

As I cast out all your brethren,

The whole seed of Ephraim.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Jeremiah 7:8-11 state that Israel did not follow the exhortation given in Jeremiah 7:3 sqq, but regarded the external place of grace as though it were a spot where one only needed to present himself in order to be delivered from all the evil consequences of sin,—so that the sanctuary was misused and became a den of robbers. The Lord dispels this allusion as to the infallible power to save of the supposed irrevocably chosen place of grace by pointing to Shiloh: as it is with this, so will it be with the temple and Jerusalem ( Jeremiah 7:12-15).

Jeremiah 7:8. Behold, ye trust … to your hurt. The statement corresponds to the warning in Jeremiah 7:4, and affirms that this was not heeded by Israel. “To your hurt” depends on “trust.” It is a litotes. The delusion causes injury in a twofold way, by demoralizing the people and thus rendering them ripe for the divine judgment. Comp. Isaiah 44:10.

Jeremiah 7:9. To steal, murder … which ye know not. These words in connection with Jeremiah 7:10-11, designate the first effect of that hurtful confidence. The people, considering salvation as unconditionally guaranteed by the temple, fall into the delusion, that presence in the temple is sufficient to procure absolution after the practice of the most heinous abominations and license for new crimes, by which course the temple is turned into a place of security and concealment for robbers. The question expresses indignant amazement: What? Steal, murder, commit adultery, etc.? Such wickedness ye do, and then ye come, etc.Incense to Baal, comp. Jeremiah 11:13; Jeremiah 11:17.—And follow other gods which ye know not is taken verbatim from Deuteronomy 11:28; coll. Jeremiah 13:14. Comp. Jeremiah 19:4; Jeremiah 49:3.

Jeremiah 7:10. And then ye come … all these abominations? The question is continued to נְצַלְנוּ, for it is this which is the object of the divine indignation, that the people can unite such moral contrasts.—Stand before me. The expression has the collateral idea of serving; comp. Deuteronomy 10:8; 1 Kings 1:2; 1 Kings 17:1; 1 Kings 18:15; 2 Kings 3:14; 2 Kings 5:16; Jeremiah 40:10; Ezekiel 44:15, etc.—Which is called by my name. This expression corresponds to put my name upon (nomen indere, imponere), Numbers 6:27; 1 Kings 9:3; 1 Kings 9:5; comp. Exodus 3:18; Exodus 5:3; Deuteronomy 12:5; Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 28:10; 2 Samuel 12:28; Jeremiah 7:30; Jeremiah 32:34; Jeremiah 34:15.—We are delivered. The people regard their standing before God, their service in the temple as an unfailing means of removing all their guilt in a convenient external manner. The word therefore means: we are saved, freed from all the guilt and punishment of sin Comp. Luke 3:8.—Many commentators take לְמַעַן as=because: because ye have done these abominations? (ironical.) Others=although. The language will allow neither. It is the secondary object of their temple-service which is indicated. The primary, immediate object is expressed in נצלנוּ: they wish to purify themselves from their guilt. But as they do not use the right means for this, so also they are not actuated by the right motive,—it is not that they may henceforward hate and abandon their sin, but that like a sow they may return with the more gusto to their wallowing in the mire ( 2 Peter 2:22).

Jeremiah 7:11. Is then this house … saith Jehovah. In these words the prophet discovers to the people the very heart of their proceeding: with such usage the temple is not a place of salvation, but a refuge for robbers where they purify themselves from the blood and filth of their evil deeds, so as to be the readier for new ones.—Even I. This perception is confirmed ironically, but in a double sense. First by this word, secondly by act. In so far namely as the Lord treats the sanctuary at Jerusalem like that at Shiloh, He causes it to be understood that He regards it as a nest of robbers. That first point results from the evident reference of I have seen it to in your eyes, the second from the following For, Jeremiah 7:12.

Jeremiah 7:12. For go now … my people Israel. In these words it is explained how far the Lord actually regards the temple as a den of robbers: we learn that He will treat it as He did Shiloh. For is accordingly to be referred not to Jeremiah 7:12 only, but to all that follows. The prophet thus shows the second calamitous effect ( Jeremiah 7:8) of those lying words ( Jeremiah 7:4).—To my place. This denotes the place as such, the spot on which the sanctuary stood, not the latter itself. On this spot nothing more was now to be seen of the sacred dwellings and vessels which once adorned it. A proof is thus furnished that when the Lord has once selected a place for His dwelling upon earth He is not irrevocably bound to this place to all eternity. Whether the city of Shiloh was then destroyed or not, and whether some ruins of the former sanctuary remained to testify of its previous existence, is a matter of indifference. Shiloh was still standing in the reign of Jeroboam I. ( 1 Kings 11:20; 1 Kings 12:15; 1 Kings 14:2) and Jeremiah mentions it as though it were still in existence ( Jeremiah 41:5). Comp. Graf, ad loc.—Herzog’sReal-Encyc. XIV. S. 369. [“Dr. Robinson found its ruins under the name of Seilun on his way from Jerusalem to Shechem.” Henderson.]

Jeremiah 7:13-15. And now, because ye do … the whole seed of Ephraim. The apodosis begins with Jeremiah 7:14. With respect to the transition from the infinitive to the finite verb, see Grammatical rems. on Jeremiah 7:9.—השׁכם. Comp. Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 29:19; and Naegelsbach, Gr. § 93, f [Green’sGr. § 282].—The place. The prophet cannot mean the whole country, any more than in Jeremiah 7:3; Jeremiah 7:6-7. As in Jeremiah 7:12, it is the spot on which the house stands. This spot of earth is the hallowed and hallowing centre of the whole country, on which all other dwelling-places are founded. Comp. Exodus 3:5.—For Ephraim as a designation of the ten tribes videHos. Jeremiah 4:17; Isaiah 7:2, etc.

Footnotes:

FN#6 - Jeremiah 7:9.—Similar infinitive constructions are found in Isaiah 21:5; Isaiah 22:13; Isaiah 59:4; Hosea 4:2. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr. 92, 2 b.

FN#7 - Jeremiah 7:10.—On the transition from the infinitive to the finite verb, comp. Naegelsb. Gr. § 99, 3.

FN#8 - Jeremiah 7:13.—השׁכם. Comp. Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 29:19; and Naegelsb. Gr. § 93 f. [Green, Gr. § 282].

3. The hypocrisy of the worship of Jehovah, Boasted of in Jeremiah 7:4 sqq, is evinced by the idolatry practised elsewhere. Thus the nation is provoking a severe and inevitable judgment

Jeremiah 7:16-20

16 And as to thee, pray not for this people,

And make not a cry and supplication for them,

Nor intercede with me; for I will not hear thee.

17 Seest thou not what they are doing

In the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

18 The children gather wood and the fathers kindle the fire,

And the women knead the dough, to make cakes for the queen of the heavens,

And pour out libations to other gods, to aggrieve me.

19 Do they aggrieve me? saith Jehovah.

Do they not themselves to their own shame?

20 Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah:

Behold, my anger and my fury is poured out in this place,

On the men and the cattle,

And on the trees of the field and the fruits of the land,

That it may burn and not be extinguished.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

How fixedly the judgment announced in Jeremiah 7:14-15 is determined upon by Jehovah, is evinced by this, that the prophet is forbidden to interpose with any plea ( Jeremiah 7:16). The motive of this seemingly harsh decree is indicated by reference to the idolatry still in full course in the cities of Judah and Jerusalem, and which forms a gloomy offset to that pseudo-Jehovah-worship mentioned in Jeremiah 7:4. This idolatry may be directed primarily against Jehovah, but it will prove at last self-destructive to Israel ( Jeremiah 7:19-20).

Jeremiah 7:16. And as to thee I will … not hear thee. Jerome remarks that “sanctorum preces Dei iræ possunt resistere, Exodus 32:10 sq.; Psalm 106:30; Numbers 16:46 sq.” Comp. 1 John 5:16—רִנָּה with תִּפִלָּה is frequent, ex. gr., Psalm 17:1; 1 Kings 8:28, etc.—This verse is repeated Jeremiah 11:14; Jeremiah 14:11.

Jeremiah 7:17-18. Seest thou not what they are doing … to aggrieve me. The motive of the severe prohibition in Jeremiah 7:16.—The queen of the heavens is mentioned besides only in Jeremiah 44:17-19; Jeremiah 44:25. The form, which in Hebrew indeed has general analogies (ex. gr.נְבֶרֶת) but does not otherwise occur, bespeaks the foreign origin of the phrase as of the thing. The expression “heaven’s-queen” points to the worship of the stars, and indeed the moon as the feminine potence (together with the sun as the masculine) appears not seldom under this name. It is called by Apuleius (Metaph. XI. init.) directly regina cœli, and in Horace (Carm. Secul. 35) we find the words: Siderum regina bicornis audi Luna puellas. For more on this subject consult Abr. Calov.Diss. de Selenolatria Viteb. 1680 (also in Thes. theol. philol., Vol. I. p808 sqq.). To the further question, what deity is represented by the moon, we can only answer that since it, as the female principle of fructification, corresponds to the sun-god Baal as the male principle, the feminine deity corresponding to Baal, i. e., Astarte, must be represented by the moon. Herodian (V:6, 10) says expressly, Οὐρανίαν Φοίνικες Ἀστροάρχην (Græcism for Astarte) ὀνομάζουσι, σελήνην εῖ̓ναι θέλοντες. Comp. Herod. III:8.—On the Carthaginian inscriptions (Insc. Karth. 8), חַמְלֶכֶת (= הַן מְלֶכֶתi. e., the Νηἶυ, תָּנֵת, Ταναἶς, the Asiatic, originally Egyptian Artemis appears as the feminine opposite of בַּעַל חַמָּן, This is certainly no longer the original Phœnician Astarte, but a later modification with unchaste cultus, and probably admixture of star-worship. Comp. 2 Kings 21:3; 2 Kings 23:4; Jeremiah 19:13.—Comp. Creuzer, Symbol. II. Kap. 4, § 1, 2, 3, 6; Appendix on the Carthag. religion, § 3. For the less recent literature on this passage consult Rosenmueller.—The בַּוָּנִים ( Jeremiah 44:19) are probably the Egyptian confection Neideh (Vid.Hitzigad hoc l. and FuerstH. W. B. s. v.כַּוָּן). According to the לְחַ‍ֽעֲצִיבָה, Jeremiah 44:19, it is not improbable that the cakes were in the form of a moon; compare the cakes offered to Artemis as the moon-god in Athens under the name of σελῆναι (Vid.Grafad loc.)—On the heathen custom of celebrating the new moon with fires kindled in the streets and sweet cakes, comp. Spencer, De Legg. Hebr. ritual. L. III. Diss. IV. Cap. 3.—The etymology of בַּוָּן is uncertain. It is most probably derived from כּוּן, to prepare. Is it not perhaps connected with כִּיוּן ( Amos 5:26)? With this adoration of the queen of heaven may have been connected as a later remnant the worship of the Collyridians, who existed in Arabia in the 4 th century, and gave divine honors to the Virgin Mary, offering her little cakes of bread (κολλυρίς), Vid.Epiph.Hær. 79.—And pour out libations. The infinitive here may certainly depend on the to (לְ) before make (עֲשׂוֹת) (comp. Naegelsb.Gr. § 112, 8). But it must also be remarked that the Inf. הַסֵּיךְ is used by Jeremiah in a very peculiar manner absolutely: Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 14:19 (where the ל perhaps from oversight stands instead of in Jeremiah 7:17-18). At any rate it designates the drink-offerings pertaining to the meat-offering of cakes.

Jeremiah 7:19-20. Do they aggrieve me? … that it may burn and not be extinguished.—On aggrieve comp. Ezekiel 32:9.—themselves. אוֹתָם reciprocal (comp. Naegelsb.Gr. § 81. b).—fury is poured out (comp. Nahum 1:6).—In this place. The divine anger is poured out immediately in the centre of the Theocracy (אֵל) and from thence immediately over the whole land (עַל).

4. REFUTATION OF THE OBJECTION THAT THE LORD HIMSELF COMMANDED THE OUTWARD TEMPLE SERVICE

Jeremiah 7:21-28

21 Thus saith Jehovah Zebaoth, the God of Israel:

Take your burnt offerings with the sin offerings and eat flesh.

22 For I spoke not with your fathers in the day that I brought[FN9] them out of Egypt,

Nor commanded them concerning burnt offerings and slain offerings.

23 But this I commanded them: “Hearken to my voice,

That I may be your God, and you my people,

And walk in all the ways that I command you,

That it may be well with you.”

24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear,

And walked after their own counsels[FN10]

In the hardness of their evil heart,

And turned to the back and not to the face.[FN11]

25 From the day that your fathers went out of the land of Egypt,

To this day I send you all my servants,

The prophets, zealously and unremittingly.

26 But they hearkened not to me, nor inclined their ear.

But they stiffened their neck and acted more wickedly than their fathers.

27 And though thou speakest to them all these words.

Yet will they not hearken unto thee;

And though thou callest to them,

Yet will they not answer thee.

28 Therefore shalt thou say unto them:

This is the people that has not hearkened

To the voice of Jehovah, their God,

Nor accepted chastisement.

Truth is vanished and eradicated from their mouth.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The hypocritical people might appeal to the fact that their outward temple service was in accordance with the precepts of the Law. To this however it is opposed, that from the beginning the Lord directed His chief regard not to external worship, but to the obedience of the heart, and to this gave the promise of prosperity ( Jeremiah 7:21-23). But the people never observed this requirement of the Lord, though He caused it to be repeated often and urgently by the prophets ( Jeremiah 7:24-26). They will close their ears even to the exhortation of Jeremiah, and thus call down upon themselves the judgment of incorrigibility ( Jeremiah 7:27-28).

Jeremiah 7:21. Thus saith Jehovah … and eat flesh.—Take, סְפוּ (comp. Isaiah 29:1), may be derived from יָסַף or סָפַה. (Comp. Isaiah 30:1; Numbers 32:14). The primary idea seems to be “to scrape, scratch, sweep,” from which are derived the meanings both of to sweep up or together (comp. also Deuteronomy 32:23) and to scrape off ( Isaiah 7:20) and sweep away ( Psalm 40:15). עַל also stands after the word in the passages cited. Comp. Jeremiah 3:18.—And eat flesh, an expression of contempt: throw all your sacrifices and burnt-offerings together and devour them as meat. Comp. Jeremiah 6:20.

Jeremiah 7:22-23. For I spoke not . … may be well with you. When the Rabbins emphasize in the day, etc., or when others appealing to Leviticus 1:2, etc. find in this passage an indication of the voluntariness of the offerings, or at least of the view that only voluntary offerings are here spoken of, Graf is certainly right in designating such points as subtleties. But to find in the passage a proof that Jeremiah was ignorant of any legal enactments with respect to sacrifices at the time of the Exodus, since in his time the middle books of the Pentateuch, which owed their origin to Ezra, were not in existence, as Graf does, following Hitzig and others (comp. especially his latest work. On the historical books of the Old Test., Leipzig, 1866), is a proceeding for which there is no ground either in those books, in the writings of the preëxilic prophets generally (comp. only ex. gr., Amos 4:5 with Leviticus 7:13; Hosea 4:7-9 with Leviticus 6:18; Leviticus 26:26), or in this particular passage. For it is indeed true that the words that I may be your God and you my people (the substance of which is found in Exodus 6:7 coll. Deuteronomy 29:12) are a verbal quotation from the certainly peculiar 26 th chapter of Leviticus ( Jeremiah 7:12), that the next line likewise resembles almost word for word Deuteronomy 5:33 (the expression in all the ways occurs in this sense only in this passage of Deut.), finally that that it may be well with you also is exclusively Deuteronomic ( Jeremiah 5:16; Jeremiah 5:26; Jeremiah 6:18; Jeremiah 12:25, 28; Jeremiah 22:27). But (1) the book of Deuteronomy presupposes the preceding books of the Pentateuch and cannot be understood without them. Thus it is explained that precepts relating to the sacrifices do not here occur except in a summary ( Deuteronomy 12:6; Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 12:13-14; Deuteronomy 12:27) or modified form, according to the circumstances (comp. Deuteronomy 12:15 with Leviticus 17:2 sqq.). (2) If this passage is to be understood in a literal sense, as by Hitzig and Graf, the prophet would declare not only something incredible in itself, but also what would be in the highest degree prejudicial to the assumed post-exilic composition of the middle books of the Pentateuch. for how could these place the origin of the sacrificial enactments in the period of the Exodus, if prophetic utterances like this and Amos 5:25 expressly contradict it? (3) As in Exodus 16:8 the words “Your murmurings are not against us, but against Jehovah,” declare not that the Israelites did not murmur at all against Moses and Aaron (which is expressly maintained in Jeremiah 7:2), but only that the sin of murmuring against Moses and Aaron vanished in comparison with the sin which they committed in their murmuring against the Lord Himself,—as Hosea 6:6 likewise denies pleasure in sacrifices not absolutely but only relatively, in so far that it does not enter into comparison with the pleasure of the Lord in true piety (comp. Genesis 32:29; 55:8; 1 Samuel 8:7)—so also in this passage the negation has a rhetorical, not a logical significance (comp. Winer, Gramm. N. T. Sprachidioms § 58, 7). Thus those commentators are right who find here this meaning, that the whole of the enactments relating to sacrifices do not enter into consideration in comparison with the importance of the moral Law. Comp. the parallel passages:— Isaiah 5:11; Isaiah 58:3 sqq.; Isaiah 66:3; 1 Samuel 15:22; Micah 6:6-8; Psalm 40:7 sqq.; Psalm 50; Psalm 51:18-19; Proverbs 21:27; Matthew 9:13. The expression: I will be your God and ye shall be my people, is found with special frequency in Jeremiah 11:4; Jeremiah 24:7; Jeremiah 30:22; Jeremiah 31:1; Jeremiah 31:33; Jeremiah 32:38. Almost as frequently in Ezekiel 11:20; Ezekiel 14:10; Ezekiel 36:28; Ezekiel 37:23; Ezekiel 37:27. Twice also in Zechariah 2:15; Zechariah 8:8.

Jeremiah 7:24. But they hearkened not … back not face.—In the hardness of their heart, comp. Deuteronomy 29:18; Jeremiah 3:17.—In general comp. Jeremiah 11:8; Psalm 81:13.—ויהיו לאהור וגו֞. Comp. Jeremiah 2:27. Literally:—they came to the back and not to the face, viz., from the standpoint of Jehovah. Comp. Naegelsb.Gr., § 69, 3, as to the substantives back and face taking the place of adjectives of participles.

Jeremiah 7:25-26. From the day … more wickedly than their fathers.—לְמִן comp. Jeremiah 7:7.—ואשׁלח. Vau constr after a definition of time. Comp. Naegelsb.Gr., § 88, 7.—Comp. Jeremiah 11:7; Jeremiah 25:4; Jeremiah 26:5 : Jeremiah 29:19; Jeremiah 35:15; Jeremiah 44:4.—Alone יוֹם never means “daily.” But with an infinitive construction it represents the idea “day” in the same sense as הַשְׁבֵּם the idea “early,” i. e., the sending has taken place day by day, daily and always early, i. e., not sleepily, dilatorily, but diligently and unremittingly, comp. besides Gr. § 93, h.—On Jeremiah 7:26 comp. Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 17:23; Jeremiah 19:15.

Jeremiah 7:27-28. And though thou speakest to them … from their mouth. There is a reason here for נוֹי. Although the word is also used of Israel without a bad side-meaning (comp. Exodus 19:6 : Joshua 3:17; Joshua 4:1; Joshua 10:3), yet we never find נוי יהוה, but always נוי ִעַם י is therefore chosen here to designate Israel as a common, profane nation. Comp. Isaiah 1:4.—The prophet is to pronounce the judgment of incorrigibility on Israel as the basis of the announcement of judgment which comes afterwards. On אֶמוּנָה comp. Jeremiah 5:3, and the entire chapter. Truth or fidelity, is substantially lost: it is therefore no longer in their mouth. The prophet alludes to what was said in Jeremiah 7:4 : even though they take the words upon their lips, these are but empty sounds. For he whose heart is empty can avail nothing with his mouth.

Footnotes:

FN#9 - Jeremiah 7:22.—[“A vast number of MSS, three of the early editions, and all the versions read, with the Keri, הוֹציאִי instead of הוֹצִיא.” Henderson.—S. R. A.]

FN#10 - Jeremiah 7:24.—בְּמֹעֵצוֹת is stat. absol. and therefore not co-ordinated with the following שְׁרִרוּת, but the following sentence forms a sort of apposition to it: They walked in counsels!—in hardness of their heart. Comp. Naegelsb. Gram. § 66.

FN#11 - Jeremiah 7:24.—[Blayney, Umbreit, Henderson render: and went (drew, turned) backward, and not forward. Noyes and Hitzig: turned the back and not the face.—S. R. A.]

5. The Abomination of Idolatry in the Highest Degree a Most Evident Proof of the Hypocrisy of the People. Beginning of Retribution

Jeremiah 7:29-34

29 Shear off thy hair and cast it away,

And raise on the heights a wailing,

For Jehovah hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath.

30 For the children of Judah have done that which is evil in my sight, saith Jehovah.

They have set their abominations in the house,

Which bears my name, to pollute it.

31 And they have built the high places of Tophet,

Which is in the valley of Ben-Hinnom.

To burn their sons and daughters in the fire;

Which I commanded not, neither did it come into my mind.

32 Therefore behold! the days are coming, saith Jehovah,

That it will no more be called Tophet and vale Ben-Hinnom,

But the valley of slaughter:

And they will bury in Tophet, because there is no room.

33 And the carcases of this people shall be for food

To the birds of heaven and the beasts of earth,

And there will be none to scare them away.

34 And I will cause to cease from this city of Judah,

And from the streets of Jerusalem,

The voice of gladness and the voice of joy,

The voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride;

For the land shall become a desolation.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

How little the appeal of the Israelites to the chosen place of mercy, and to their observance of the ritual, could help them ( Jeremiah 7:29) the prophet shows by setting forth their desecration of the sanctuary by Baal-worship, and their infraction of the Law by abominable practices which were directly forbidden in it ( Jeremiah 7:30-31). Thus it is rendered most clearly manifest what shameful hypocrisy was concealed under the Jehovah-worship boasted of in Jeremiah 7:4.

The rejection consequently announced in Jeremiah 7:29 will consist in this, that the places in the vale of Hinnom hitherto considered sacred will be places of slaughter and burial, and that still a large number of unburied corpses will afford food for the beasts; the further consequence of which will be, that the land, bereft of its inhabitants, will become a barren waste ( Jeremiah 7:31-34).

Jeremiah 7:29. Shear off thy hair … generation of his wrath. גִוֶר is properly crown: here it is used of the hair as the natural adornment of the head, comp. Numbers 6:19. The cutting off of the hair was a sign of mourning, Jeremiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:37; Isaiah 15:2; Micah 1:16, etc. Comp. Herzog, Real-Enc. XVI, S. 363. [Henderson:—“Jerusalem is here addressed under the image of a female, who, in the depth of her grief for the loss of her children, deprives her head of its chief ornament, and betakes herself to the hills to bewail her bereavement.” Henry after Blayney:—“The word is peculiar to the hair of the Nazarites, which was the badge and token of their dedication to God, and it is called their crown. Jerusalem had been a city, which was a Nazarite to God, but must now cut off her hair, must be profaned, degraded and separated from God, as she had been separated to Him. It is time for those who have lost their holiness to lay aside their joy.”—S. R. A.]—On the feminine form in גָּזּיetc. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 60, 7.—On the heights. Comp. Jeremiah 3:21; Jeremiah 9:9.—generation of his wrath. Comp. Isaiah 10:6; Proverbs 22:8.

Jeremiah 7:30. For the children of Judah … to pollute it.—in my sight, does not depend on have done, but on that which is evil. Comp. Judges 3:7; Judges 3:12, etc., and Naegelsb. Gr., § 112, 5 b, (where moreover we must understand it in a physical sense [ Isaiah 14:16] as distinguished from the spiritual sense, Genesis 28:8, etc).—Their abominations. That Jeremiah refers to the abominable practices of Manasseh ( 2 Kings 21:4-7) has been fully proved by Graf. I will only add that Jehoiakim represents the relapse into the principle forsaken by Josiah, and that this explains why responsibility for the sins of Manasseh is attributed to him and his contemporaries ( 2 Kings 24:3; Jeremiah 15:4), on which account also in this passage the abominations are spoken of as though they had been committed by Jehoiakim himself. This passage is repeated in Jeremiah 32:34.

Jeremiah 7:31. And they have built … come into my mind. בָּמוֹת is not merely high places, but in a derivative sense every place of worship erected for idolatrous service, or every building for that purpose, as is proved by passages like 2 Kings 23:15, where the בָּמָה is distinguished from the altar in it, and is burnt,— Ezekiel 16:16, where high places are mentioned as composed of garments. Here also they are not the altars alone, but the places of worship with the altars. There appear to have been several such places in Tophet, this being intimated by the expression תֹפֶּת הַטִּמֶאִים, Jeremiah 19:13. Tophet, as is well known, was a place in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, where the horrible sacrifices of children (comp. Selden, De Diis Syr. Syntagm. I:6) were offered to Baal ( Jeremiah 19:5—with which Molech, Jeremiah 32:35, is parallel, comp. Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5; 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:10). But the derivation of the word is uncertain. Some (Lorsbach, Gesen, Hitzig, Ewald, Fuerst, and others) appeal to Isaiah 30:33 in favor of the rendering place of burning, deriving it from שַׁב=תַּףto burn. Others (Winer, Böttcher, Graf, Pressel) finding their support in Job 17:6, give the word the meaning of sputum, abomination, horror, from the Chaldee תּוּף=to spew out. Hofmann (in Weiss. u. Erf., II, 125) suggests the not improbable derivation from פִתָה and gives it the meaning of pit. A decision on this point is as difficult as with reference to the vale Ben-Hinnom. The situation of this valley is indeed fixed, as it is certain it was to the south of Jerusalem, but the views are various as to its exact location. Comp. Herzog, Real-Enc., IV. S710.—There is not perfect agreement even as to the name of the valley, the ancients regarding Hinnom as a proper name, of the moderns some deriving it from נָהַם (by transposition=the valley of wailing, so Hitzig and Graf), and others from אנן=הנן (with the same meaning, so Böttcher, De Inf., I. S. 82, 83). Were the valley only the vale of Hinnom, as in Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16; Nehemiah 11:30, or the vale Beni-Hinnom (as in 2 Kings 23:10 only, Chethibh) the apellative signification would have much in its favor. But as the name Vale Ben-Hinnom is the most frequent and certainly the original ( Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16; Jeremiah 7:31-32; Jeremiah 19:2; Jeremiah 19:6; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6), the derivations given above are very insecure, and it is most advisable to retain the old interpretation.—To burn. Two passages coincide with this almost word for word: Jeremiah 19:5 and Jeremiah 32:35. In the latter passage, instead of this expression, we find to cause to pass through, which shows that it is not to be understood literally as Maimonides and other Jewish commentators suppose, but as an euphemism.—The words which I commanded not repeated in all three passages (comp. Jeremiah 3:16), intimate that this custom was relatively a new one. Although the worship of Molech (the Ammonitish) is attributed even to Solomon ( 1 Kings 11:7), yet the abomination of burning children was first introduced into Judah by Ahaz ( 2 Kings 16:3). Comp. Movers, Phœn. I, S. 327 sqq.—In the Pentateuch this cult was forbidden, Deuteronomy 12:30; Deuteronomy 18:10.

Jeremiah 7:32-34. Therefore behold! the days are coming … a desolation. The place of worship, held sacred by the idolatrous Jews, but in fact desecrated, shall even for them be forever polluted. That this would be accomplished by a massacre on the spot, is not stated in the text. This would not have polluted it forever, as we read of Josiah that he polluted the places of idolatrous worship either by the burning of human bones ( 2 Kings 23:16; 2 Kings 23:20) or by filling them up with these ( Jeremiah 7:14) or the reverse, by strewing the ashes of the idols on the graves ( Jeremiah 7:6). At any rate he must have defiled Tophet ( Jeremiah 7:10) and other places ( Jeremiah 7:8; Jeremiah 7:13) in the same way. Here then also the pollution is caused by the interment, and the name “valley of slaughter” is connected with it only in so far that the vale is used as a place of burial only in consequence of the want of room, resulting from the great slaughter (comp. Jeremiah 19:11; Ezekiel 9:7). But even thus a great number of corpses will remain unburied, which will be food for beasts (comp. Deuteronomy 28:26, whence Jeremiah 7:33 is taken verbatim, and Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 19:7; Jeremiah 34:20).—None to scare,etc. Comp. Leviticus 26:6; Deuteronomy 28:26; Micah 4:4; Nahum 2:12; Zephaniah 3:13; Jeremiah 30:10; Jeremiah 46:27. The further result of the slaughter is depopulation, the cessation of every sign of normal human existence, complete desolation of the land. ( Jeremiah 16:9; Jeremiah 25:10-11, coll. Jeremiah 33:11). [Henderson:—“In Jeremiah 7:34, reference is made to the joyous processions in which the bride and bridegroom are led through the streets, accompanied by bands of singers and musicians, which are common in many parts of the East, and even among the Jews in some parts of Europe. See my Biblical Researches and Travels in Russia, p217.”—S. R. A.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 7:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/jeremiah-7.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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