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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Jeremiah 9

 

 

Verses 1-8

III. THIRD CHARGE: THE GENERAL ENTIRE ABSENCE OF TRUTH AND FAITH

Jeremiah 9:1-21

1. Description of the prevailing deceit

Jeremiah 9:1-8

1 O that I had[FN1] in the desert a travellers’ lodge,

That I might leave my people and go from them:

For they are all adulterers, a gang of knaves,

2 And bend[FN2] their tongue as their bow of deceit;

And not by truth do they prevail in the land,

But proceed from wickedness to wickedness:

But Me they knew not, saith Jehovah.

3 Guard ye every one against his neighbor,

And trust no brother;

For every brother practices deceit,

And every neighbor slanders.

4 One overreaches[FN3] another, and truth they speak not;

They taught their tongues to speak lies,

And weary themselves to commit iniquity.[FN4]

5 Thy habitation is in the midst of deceit;[FN5]

And through deceit they refuse to know Me, saith Jehovah.

6 Therefore thus saith Jehovah Zebaoth:

Behold, I melt them and try them;

For how should I act in view of the daughter of my people?

7 A deadly arrow[FN6] is their tongue, they speak deceit;

With the mouth they speak[FN7] to their neighbor peaceably,

But in the heart[FN8] they lay snares.

8 Should I not visit them for such things? saith Jehovah.

Or should not my soul avenge itself on a people like this?

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

As the main thought of the preceding chapter was contained in Jeremiah 9:4-9 so the main thought of the present is found in Jeremiah 9:1-8. The rest is added as a sequel. As in Jeremiah 8. the stiff-necked impenitence of Israel is censured, so here (as the third charge) their falseness in every relation. The two following strophes ( Jeremiah 9:9-15 and Jeremiah 9:16-21) relate to the punishment threatened by God. In Jeremiah 9:1-8 the prophet portrays the want of fidelity and trust, the falseness, malicious desire to defame, which was prevalent among his contemporaries ( Jeremiah 9:1-5) and which would compel the Lord to subject them to the punishment of a severe melting and refining process. ( Jeremiah 9:6-8).

Jeremiah 9:1. O that I had in the desert … a gang of knaves. On travellers’ lodge comp. Jeremiah 14:8. Living with his godless countrymen is so intolerable to the prophet that he would prefer the scanty protection of a tent erected in the desert to his present residence. [Henderson supposes the discomfort of a caravanserai to be alluded to.—S. R. A.]—Adulterers. The violation of conjugal fidelity or of the fidelity due to a neighbor by the invasion of his conjugal rights was censured by the prophet in the second discourse, in the passage where he reproaches the Israelites with their violations of faith, Jeremiah 5:7-8.—בֹּגֵד, he who acts secretly (Vide, Fuerst) who deals in falsehood, deceit and treachery in general. This reproach also is found in Jeremiah 9:11.

Jeremiah 9:2. And bend their tongue … saith Jehovah. The imperfect with Vau consecutive here designates not a single Acts, but oft recurring Acts, from which this course is to be understood as habitual; this case is therefore to be numbered among those in which the imperfect with Vau consec. is used to designate a permanent quality. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 88, 9.—According to the Masoretes we must read: they caused their tongue to tread the bow of deceit. In this way the tongue would not be compared to a bow, (which might appear unsuitable to the Masoretes), but to an archer, and the bow would then be a purely ideal conception, a figure for the means and instrument of the intellectual activity connected with the tongue. But this would be a very artificial mode of expression. Since the tongue is elsewhere compared with a sword, ( Psalm 57:4; Psalm 64:3) and an arrow (infra Jeremiah 9:7) it may also be compared with a bow and in Psalm 64:3 this is the fundamental conception.—bow is used as a simile in apposition with tongue. Comp. Psalm 22:13; Psalm 11:1. Naegelsb. Gr., § 72, 4.—Deceit may according to the sense be referred either to bend or bow, but on account of its position it is better to refer it to the latter. On the construction comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 63, 4, g.And not by truth. The prophet has especially the rulers in view. Comp. Psalm 12:4, לֶאֱמוּנָה different from Jeremiah 5:3; לְ here indicates the norm as in לַמִּצְעָר,לַמִּשְׁפָטVid. Naegelsb. Gr., § 112, 5, b.—On wickedness to wickedness. Comp. Jeremiah 25:32.

Jeremiah 9:3. Guard ye … slanders. Comp. Micah 7:5-6.—On every brother, etc. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 82, 1.—עקב יעקב. Since this verb in Kal occurs besides only in Genesis 27:36 and Hosea 12:4, both times of Jacob (it is found in Piel in Job 37:4) it is certainly probable that the prophet, speaking here of the deceit practised by one brother towards another, had this early instance in view ( Genesis 25:29 sqq.; Genesis 27:35).—רכיל יהלך go about for tale-bearing. Vide supra6:28.

Jeremiah 9:4. One overreaches another … to commit iniquity.—They taught. Comp. Jeremiah 2:33. The Niphal of לאה signifies elsewhere “to be weary, disgusted with a thing” ( Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 15:6; Jeremiah 20:9). This meaning does not suit here. The connection requires the meaning to weary one’s self. Comp. Genesis 19:11; Isaiah 16:12.

Jeremiah 9:5. Thy habitation … saith Jehovah. The verse has this object, to describe the relation of the deceitful race to the prophet and to Jehovah. They surround the prophet so that he dwells as the only honest man among deceivers (comp. Psalm 120); from the Lord however they turn away, the lying spirit rules them in such wise (comp. Genesis 27:35; Genesis 34:13) that they know nothing of God and desire not to know Him. (Comp. Jeremiah 5:3).

Jeremiah 9:6. Therefore … daughter of my people. A corruption so deeply rooted and so widely extended can be removed only by a process of entire melting, which will certainly be grievous but will also refine. Comp. Jeremiah 6:27, etc.—אֵיךְ has by no means always a negative sense, (as for example Genesis 44:34, quomodo ascenderem?i.e., non ascendam) but as often a decidedly positive meaning, Jeremiah 9:18, 2 Samuel 1:25; 2 Samuel 1:27; how do ye advise me? 1 Kings 12:6. So the Lord here asks, how He should Acts, if not as already indicated? He would say, there is nothing else remaining but to do this.—After מפּני to supply רַָעת, with reference to Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 7:12, appears to me unnecessary, for מפני is used in a causative sense even immediately before names of persons. Comp. Jeremiah 4:26; Jeremiah 23:9. In both these passages it is also evinced by an explanatory addition that it is to be taken in a causative sense.

Jeremiah 9:7-8. A deadly arrow … on a people like this. It might appear strange that the prophet, after he had properly concluded with Jeremiah 9:6, should repeat the main point of the charge. But he evidently intended to conclude with the words repeated from Jeremiah 5:9; Jeremiah 5:29, in order to indicate by this conclusion that he had the section of his former discourse, so closely related to this, ( Jeremiah 5) in view. The words of the eighth verse could not however follow immediately on Jeremiah 9:6. The words them for such things would thus obtain a false reference. The prophet was therefore compelled again to mention the sins of the people.

2. FIRST PUNISHMENT: DESOLATION OF THE LAND AND DISPERSION OF THE PEOPLE

Jeremiah 9:9-15

9 On the mountains let me raise a weeping and wailing,

And on the pastures of the desert a lamentation,

For they are desolated, without a man to pass through them;

And hear no longer the lowing of the cattle.

From the fowl of the heavens to the beast they are fled—gone!

10 And I will make Jerusalem a heap of stones,

The dwelling of jackals;

And the cities of Judah I will make desolate

Without an inhabitant,

11 Who is the man who is wise and understands this?

And who is he to whom the mouth of Jehovah has spoken,

That he may declare such things?

Why was the land destroyed

And laid waste as a desert without a man to pass through it?

12 And Jehovah said:

Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them,

And have not heard My voice, nor walked according to it;

13 But walked after the perversity of their heart,

And after the Baalim which their fathers have taught them;

14 Therefore thus saith Jehovah Zebaoth, God of Israel:

Behold! I give to them, this nation,

Wormwood to eat and poison water to drink.

15 And I scatter them among nations

Whom neither they nor their fathers have known;

And send after them the sword till I extirpate them.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The preceding strophe contained the main thought of the chapter; description of the want of truth and faith among the people. As already remarked, to this are attached two additional strophes, which are occupied with the judgment provoked by that moral corruption. The connection of this strophe with the preceding is effected by Jeremiah 9:6; Jeremiah 9:8, declaring how the Lord would try and purify the people and avenge Himself upon them. Verses9,10 describe accordingly the desolation of the land ordained as a punishment; Jeremiah 9:11-13 again set forth the main causes of the moral corruption ( Jeremiah 9:12 negatively, Jeremiah 9:13 positively); Jeremiah 9:14-15 show us the fate of the inhabitants driven from the lands, and serve therefore to supplement the figure contained in verses9,10.

Jeremiah 9:9-10. On the mountains … make desolate without an inhabitant.עַל may grammatically and according to the connection designate both the place and the object. Comp. in the latter reference Jeremiah 9:17; Ezekiel 26:17; Amos 5:1. Yet it would be flat and prosaic to restrict עַל to the object. The poetic liveliness of the style requires us to refer it to the place (comp. Jeremiah 3:21) and the object at the same time.—נצתו properly they are burnt, singed, and then generally desolated. Comp. Jeremiah 9:11 and the remark on Jeremiah 2:15. Compare besides Jeremiah 46:19; 2 Kings 22:13; 2 Kings 22:17; Nehemiah 1:3; Nehemiah 2:17.—Without a man, etc. Comp. Jeremiah 9:11, Zephaniah 3:6; Ezekiel 33:28.—fled, etc. Comp. Jeremiah 4:25; Jeremiah 1:3.—And I will make, etc. Sudden change of subject. Jehovah Himself announces that not only the country but the cities, Jerusalem before all, shall be desolated.—heap of stones. Comp. Jeremiah 51:37.—תַּנִּים (comp. Jeremiah 10:22; Jeremiah 49:33; Isaiah 34:13; Isaiah 35:7; Isaiah 43:20) and אִיִּיִם ( Isaiah 13:22) both mean jackals. Comp. Ges. Thes.S. 39, 1457, 1511.—Make desolate. Comp. Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 4:17; Jeremiah 33:10; Jeremiah 46:19; Jeremiah 51:29, etc.

Jeremiah 9:11-13. Who is the man … have taught them. These three verses present the motive of the prospective desolation. It might be supposed that after what was said in Jeremiah 9:1-8 this question would be superfluous. But we must not lose sight of the tableauesque character of Jeremiah’s style. Thus this strophe, besides the new elements contained in Jeremiah 9:9-10; Jeremiah 9:14-15, presents also the old elements in a modified form. The real root of this moral corruption is here indicated, viz., that Israel had turned from the Lord and to idols—Who is he, etc. These words remind us of Hosea 14:9. It is only the wise man who knows, only he to whom the Lord has spoken, who tells the truth. The prophet presupposes that the correct knowledge of the true cause of the destruction ( Jeremiah 9:9) is not such an easy matter. The unspiritual sense seeks the cause everywhere but where it is really to be found. To it external accidental circumstances are at fault. To seek the reason in themselves, in the perversity of their own hearts, does not occur to the foolish Israelites. Hence it is that not Israel but the Lord answers in Jeremiah 9:12. Among Israel there was none so wise as to know the reason. The Lord is obliged to declare it.—This and the suffix, in such things point, back to Jeremiah 9:8-9;—to whom expresses in the form of a direct question in what relation that which was previously said is to be understood. It is knowledge of the reason, namely, which is treated of.—נִצְתָה points back to נִצְתוּ, Jeremiah 9:9, and is to be taken in the same sense.—Allusions to passages in Deuteronomy are here frequent. Comp. Deuteronomy 4:8; Deuteronomy 11:32; Deuteronomy 28:15; Jeremiah 26:4; Jeremiah 44:10.—According to it refers back to my law. In Jeremiah 9:12 the negative reason for the judgment coming upon the land is stated; in Jeremiah 9:13 the positive.—Walked. Comp. Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 7:24; Deuteronomy 29:18.—Baalim. Comp. Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 2:23; Deuteronomy 4:3.—On taught comp. Jeremiah 12:16; Deuteronomy 11:19.

Jeremiah 9:14-15. Therefore thus saith Jehovah … extirpate them.—With therefore the prophet proceeds to the statement of the consequences, naming first the consequences which the sins mentioned in Jeremiah 9:12-13 will bring upon the men, and afterwards those mentioned Jeremiah 9:9-10, on the land.—לַעַנָה and ראֹשׁ occur together in Deuteronomy 29:17; Amos 6:12; Lamentations 3:19. Wormwood was considered poisonous by the ancients, but in the biblical use it is its bitterness which is prominent. Comp. Amos 5:7; Proverbs 5:4; Lamentations 3:15.—On poison-water, comp. Jeremiah 8:14. Our words are repeated, Jeremiah 23:15.—To them, this nation The anticipation of a noun by a pronoun is frequent in Jeremiah 27:8; Jeremiah 31:2; Jeremiah 41:2-3; Jeremiah 43:11; Jeremiah 48:44; Jeremiah 51:56. Comp. Ewald, § 309, c, Naegelsb. Gr., § 77, 2.—neither they nor their fathers. etc. Comp. Deuteronomy 28:36; Deuteronomy 28:64; Leviticus 26:33; Jeremiah 16:13; Jeremiah 17:4. That till I extirpate them is not to be understood absolutely, is seen from passages like Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 5:10; Jeremiah 5:18 coll. Leviticus 26:44.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Jeremiah 9:1.—מי־יתנני. Comp. Psalm 55:7, and Naegelsb. Gr., § 78.

FN#2 - Jeremiah 9:2.—The Masoretes punctuate וַיִדֶרְכוּ (the form like וַיַּרְבְּקוּ Sam. Jeremiah 14:22; Jeremiah 31:2; תַּהְכְּרוּ Job 19:3) probably because they regarded the Hiphil as causative. But for various reasons (Vid. Exeg. and Crit.) it is better with Hitzig, Graf and Meier to suppose that the reading, which corresponds to the consonants, וַיִּדְרְכוּ is the original and correct.

FN#3 - Jeremiah 9:4.—יְהָתֵלוּ Comp. תְּהָתֵלּוּ Job 13:9, and יְהָתֵּל 1 Kings 18:27. The forms may be Piel from התל or Hiphil from תָּלַל. Comp. Olsh. § 257. Ewald, § 127, d.

FN#4 - Jeremiah 9:4.—הַ‍ֽעֲוֵה ( Jeremiah 3:21) Inf. constr., as הֱיֵה Ezekiel 21:15, חַכֵּי Hosea 6:9.—Comp. Ewald, § 238, c; Olshausen, § 191, b.

FN#5 - Jeremiah 9:5.—Graf has rightly declared against the alteration of the text, while Ewald, appealing to the LXX, proposesנִלְאוּ שִׁב תֹּךְ בְּתוֹךְ מִרְמָה בְּמִרְמָה. The infinitive שֶׁבֶת is frequently used with suffixes; Psalm 27:4; Psalm 139:2; 1 Kings 8:30; Ruth 2:7, etc.

FN#6 - Jeremiah 9:7.—Instead of the Chethibh שׁוֹחֻט jugulans, throttling, killing, the Keri would read שָׁחוּת which elsewhere occurs only with זָהָב ( 1 Kings 10:16-17; 2 Chronicles 9:15) and seems to denote gold beaten thin. Although from this the meaning “pointed” may be derived, which is also expressed by the Syriac and Chaldee, yet it is better to adhere to the reading of the text and to translate, a deadly murderous arrow.

FN#7 - Jeremiah 9:7.—דבר. The change of number is analogous to the frequently occurring change or person. Comp. Gram. § 101, Anm.

FN#8 - Jeremiah 9:8.—ארבו. The suffix is most naturally referred to the subject like that of בְּקִרבּוֹ Jeremiah 9:8. Vide Jeremiah 5:9; Jeremiah 5:29.

3. SECOND PUNISHMENT: DEATH SNATCHES AWAY AN INNUMERABLE SACRIFICE

Jeremiah 9:16-21

16 Thus saith Jehovah Zebaoth: Consider ye,

And call for mourning women,[FN9] that they may come,[FN10]

And send for the skilful ones, that they appear;

17 And hasten, and raise a wailing[FN11] over us,

That our eyes may run[FN12] with tears,

And our eyelids overflow with water.

18 For—loud wailing is heard from Zion:

“How are we spoiled! We are greatly confounded;

For we have forsaken the land,

For they have thrown down our dwellings”

19 Hear then, ye women, the word of Jehovah,

And let your ear receive the word of his mouth,

And teach your daughters[FN13] a song of lamentation,

And [teach ye] one another a dirge!

20 For death cometh in through our windows,

It enters into our palaces,

To exterminate the child from the street,

The youths from the free places.

21 [Speak: Thus saith Jehovah:]

And the carceases of men fall like dung[FN14] on the field,

And like sheaves behind the reaper

When there is none to gather them.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

In connection with the close of the preceding strophe, the prophet sets forth another element of the punishment, viz., the fruitful harvest, which the sword would yield. He does this by even now calling for the mourning-women to lament over the future destruction of Zion and the dispersion of the people ( Jeremiah 9:16-18): but not content with this, he also calls upon all other women, as by divine command, to instruct their daughters and one another in the art of wailing, for death will summon his victims in masses.

[Comp. also Matthew 9:23, and Thomson, The Land and the Book, I, p146.—S. R. A.]

Jeremiah 9:18-19. For loud wailing … a dirge. The prophet feigns a kind of vision: the Israelites perceive, not with their bodily but spiritual ear, a loud wailing. This is future, and it is they who wail. The subject of lamentation is: we are destroyed ( Jeremiah 4:13), put to shame ( Jeremiah 51:51), have been obliged to forsake the land, because the enemy has thrown down our dwellings. So I render, with Raschi, Rosenmuller, Graf and others, since שָׁלַךָ is not merely to throw away, but also to throw to the ground ( Job 18:17; Ezekiel 19:12), and of the throwing down of a dwelling is expressly used in Daniel 8:11.—Hear them. The second כִּי introduces a second reason for the wailing commanded in Jeremiah 9:18. Jeremiah 9:18 speaks only of destruction and exile in general. But dirges presuppose particular cases of death. Therefore in Jeremiah 9:19-20 it is added, that the destruction and deportation will result in the death of many. This is introduced in this way: the mourning-women in the divine commission are further commanded to instruct not only their daughters, but also the other women in the art of wailing, for on account of the unusual number of deaths, a much larger number of mourners than usual will be required. The wailing of Jeremiah 9:17 is not to be raised, therefore, because the women received the command contained in Jeremiah 9:19, but because they received this command for the reason given in Jeremiah 9:20-21.

Jeremiah 9:20-21. For death cometh in … when there is none to gather them. Death will not, as an enemy lurking without, attack those only who venture out to him, but will assault the people, penetrating into all their houses to fetch his sacrifices. The figure is like that in Joel 2:9.—From the street. While death strangles the children and youths in the houses, he has at the same time taken them from the street and the places.—The words speak, thus saith Jehovah, are very disturbing. They interrupt the close connection, which according to the sense and the construction there is between and the carcases, etc., and Jeremiah 9:20; they are wanting in the LXX, and the whole manner of expression is foreign to Jeremiah. For the imperative דָּבֵּר does not occur once in Jeremiah, either in the addresses of God to the prophet or elsewhere, and Jeremiah never says כּה נְאֻס־י׳. He also never places נאס־י׳ before, but always after the beginning, like the Latin inquam, or at the close of the address.—And the carcases, etc. These words we read in 2 Kings 9:37 of the corpse of Jezebel. Comp. Psalm 83:11; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 25:33.—The stricken will lie like sheaves behind the reaper, but there is to be this difference, that while the sheaves are collected and taken home, the dead bodies will lie in the field unregarded. Compare the figure of the sheaves, Micah 4:12.

Footnotes:

FN#9 - Jeremiah 9:16.—מְקּוֹנְנוֹת here only. Comp. besides Ezekiel 32:16, and Winer, R. W. B., art. Leichen.

FN#10 - Jeremiah 9:16.—תְבוֹאֶינָה, Psalm 45:17; 1 Samuel 10:7 (Chethibh)—תָּבֹואנָה is the more frequent form, comp. ex. gr., Genesis 30:38; 1 Kings 3:16; Isaiah 48:3.

FN#11 - Jeremiah 9:17.—וְתִשֶּׂנָה (the same form in Ruth 1:14; Zechariah 5:9) for תִּשֶּׂאנָה ( Ruth 1:9) for which also תִּשִּׂאינָה ( Ezekiel 23:49). Comp. Olsh, § 239; Gesen, § 74; Anm. 4.

FN#12 - Jeremiah 9:17.—וְתֵרַדְנָה designates the intended effect. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 89, 3, b. 2.—On the accusative construction. Comp. Jeremiah 14:17; Lamentations 3:48; Joel 4:18; N. Gr., § 69:2 a.

FN#13 - Jeremiah 9:19.—On the suffix in אָזְנְכֶם and בְּנוֹתֵיכֶם, comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 60:5. [Green, Gr., § 220:1 b.]

FN#14 - Jeremiah 9:21.—דֹּמֶן occurs only in the passages, Psalm 83:11; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 25:33, and in figurative language.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 9:1. O that I had in the desert, etc. “So it sounds here and there when the servant of the Lord comes from confession, from church, from the sick, from pastoral visitation, on the great fast-day, on the third festival-day, on almost every Sunday afternoon. A beautiful character of a witness when he needs nothing but a little spot in the desert, no improvement, no great management, when it is not necessary to say, ‘Alas, my heart is whelmed with grief! and whence Song of Solomon 1obtain relief?’ When no one sits by him who presses upon him. The desert was to retain Jeremiah in connection with his people. He wished there to weep for them.” Zinzendorf.

2. On Jeremiah 9:2. “They proceed from one wickedness to another—punished with the sins, which are suspended over them … a poor sold people who know not how to raise their ransom-money. We must tell them, and tell them again, whence it is to be fetched.” Zinzendorf.

3. On Jeremiah 9:3. “Guard ye every one against his friend, and trust not even his brother. This is the Hobbesii jus naturæ.” Zinzendorf. “Hoc loco utendum est in tempore persecutionis et angustiæ, quando aut rara, aut nulla fides est; quando nee fratri, nec proximo credendum Esther, et inimici hominis domestici ejus, quando juxta evangelium tradet pater filium et filius patrem, et dividentur duo in tres et tres in duo ( Matthew 10:34 sqq.)” Jerome.

4. On [Henry:—“They are wearied with their sinful pursuits, but not weary of them. The service of sin is a perfect drudgery; men run themselves out of breath in it; and put themselves to a great deal of toil to damn their own souls.”—S. R. A.]

5. On Jeremiah 9:11. “We are not to search with culpable curiosity into the causes of divine judgment which God has hidden from us. But if God Himself discovers them to us, we should ponder them well and apply them as best we may ( Jeremiah 6:17-18).” Starke.

6. On Jeremiah 9:11. It is always an important part of true wisdom to recognize the object of the divine chastisement. At Jericho ( Joshua 7.) it was made known by an extraordinary revelation that the ban of sacrilege was resting upon Israel, and the lot further brought to light the author of the crime. But this mode of revelation is not the usual one. When punishment is the direct and immediate consequence of sin, ex. gr., when sickness follows on dissipation, and poverty on laziness and negligence, then every one who wishes, may easily see, whither the chastisement tends. But often the connection between sin and punishment is more remote and secret, although it is never an artificial and arbitrary, but always an organic and necessary one. Then is the time, in all humility and honesty to examine one’s self in order to learn “why the land is laid waste.”

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 9:1-6. This text might serve as a foundation in cases where a preacher has occasion to speak to his congregation on separation from the world, etc. He might especially draw from it arguments in favor of such separation. Comp. Revelation 2:2, οὐ δύνῃ βαστάσαι κακούς.—As a counterpoise might be applied, Hebrews 12:3; 2 Timothy 2:24.—A servant of the Lord is to be ἀνεξίκακος and ἀλεξίκακος.

2. On Jeremiah 9:3. On the various stages in the condition of security1. Of evil rising into Acts 2Of rising from one sin to another. Brandt: Altes und Neues in extemporirb. Entwürfen, Nürnberg, 1829, 1, 2.

3. On Jeremiah 9:7-9. The double object of the divine judgments1. Restoration of the right ( Jeremiah 9:9). 2. Improvement of men ( Jeremiah 9:7, to melt and try).

4. On Jeremiah 9:12-16. On the connection of temporal evil with our sins. Such a connection (1) undoubtedly exists, and should be (2) recognized and (3) announced by us (that Isaiah, not passed over in silence, but openly expresssed).

5. On Jeremiah 9:20-21 (to be used in times when death snatches many away). Death as a destroying angel: 1. Who sends him: 2. Wherefore he is sent: 3. How we may protect ourselves against him.

IV. CONCLUSION: ( Jeremiah 9:22-25; Jeremiah 10:17-25.)

1. The only means of escape, and the reason why it is not used

Jeremiah 9:22-25

22 Thus saith Jehovah:

Let not the wise man glory in his Wisdom of Solomon,

Nor let the strong man glory in his strength,

Nor let the rich man glory in his riches.

23 But let him that glorieth glory[FN15] in this,

To be wise[FN16] and to know me—

That I am Jehovah—who exercise mercy,

Judgment and righteousness on the earth;

For in these do I delight, saith Jehovah.

24 Behold! the days are coming, saith Jehovah,

That I will punish every circumcision in foreskin:[FN17]

25 Egypt and Judah and Edom, and the children of Ammon and Moab,

And all with shorn hair [-corners] who dwell in the desert;

For all the people are uncircumcised,

The whole house of Israel is uncircumcised at heart.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The prophet introduces the concluding part of his discourse with a general moral reflection, the object of which is to present the only means of escape from such fearfully threatening dangers, viz., a living and truly productive knowledge of the Lord ( Jeremiah 9:22-23). Unfortunately the prophet is at the close of the strophe ( Jeremiah 9:24-25) compelled to acknowledge the mournful fact that such a true knowledge of God by the people Israel was not to be expected, since they were a people of uncircumcised heart, and were therefore, notwithstanding their bodily circumcision, essentially like the uncircumcised heathen nations. From this it is evident that the passage ( Jeremiah 9:22-25) can be dispensed with neither from the inner connection nor the connection with the preceding context, and we should not therefore be justified in regarding it (with Graf) as a later addition.

Jeremiah 9:22-23. Let not the wise man … delight. As the things in which they are not to glory, Wisdom of Solomon, strength (power), riches, are certainly mentioned, because they appear above all to the natural man as the most desirable, comp. 1 Kings 1:13, where in substance these three ideas are placed in juxtaposition, with 2 Chronicles 9:22; Job 12:13. But at the same time the prophet has doubtless in view actual circumstances and declarations previously made by him. The inclination of his hearers presumptuously to boast of external carnal advantages was censured by him in the seventh chapter (comp. Jeremiah 9:4; Jeremiah 9:8; Jeremiah 9:10; Jeremiah 9:14; Jeremiah 9:24; Jeremiah 9:26); that the Jews gloried in their wisdom is expressly stated in Jeremiah 8:8-9. The mention of strength seems to point back to Jeremiah 9:2, and riches remind us of Jeremiah 5:26-28. The wisdom in which they are not to glory is not that which is called “better than strength” in Ecclesiastes 9:16, and which is essentially identical with that recommended in Jeremiah 9:23, but it is worldly Wisdom of Solomon, which though it boast of enjoying divine direction, in truth rejects the word of God, and is therefore put to shame ( Jeremiah 8:8-9,) against which also a warning is given in Proverbs 3:5, in the words, “Trust in Jehovah with all thine heart, but on thine own understanding rely thou not.”—Strength is both physical strength ( Psalm 147:10, Job 39:19) and power ( 2 Kings 10:34; 2 Kings 20:20.)—Every man must have something in which to glory, i.e., which he esteems as his highest blessing and honor (without self-esteem) comp. Isaiah 51:16; 1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17.—Me must depend on knows alone, or also on to be wise (understand) ( Psalm 64:10; Psalm 106:7.) 1prefer the latter. Wise then does not, as Graf assumes, contradict the beginning of Jeremiah 9:22, but only opposes the true to the false wisdom. For in these, etc., is not the fundamental statement, but the explanation of the general אֹתִי. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr § 109, 1 a.—God is to be known as the eternally existent, therefore the only true God, who exercises mercy, judgment and righteousness on the earth. There is an antithesis here to strength, etc., Jeremiah 9:22 ( Jeremiah 9:2; Jeremiah 5:26 sqq.) But he who has learned to know the Lord as such, acts accordingly. Mercy is not in opposition to justice and righteousness as sometimes in Christian usage, but mercy is the root of righteousness, i.e., the disposition which does not with brute force trample upon the poor and weak, but with kindness and love secures to them their rights, and thus blessing and salvation. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 7:5-6. Psalm 145:17.

Jeremiah 9:24-25. Behold! the days are coming … uncircumcised at heart. All here primarily depends on the explanation of the expression מוּל בְּעָרְלָה= circumcision in foreskin. The explanations all circumcised on the foreskin (LXX. and Vulg.) and all the circumcised, together with those who have the foreskin (Tremell, Pisc, Rosenm.) neither suit the connection, nor can they be justified grammatically. The explanation of Hitzig, Graf, [Henderson, Noyes, Blayney,] according to which circumcised in foreskin is equivalent to uncircumcised (Hitzig compares “a knife without a handle and to which the blade is wanting”) imputes nonsense to the prophet. Grammatically the words can mean only: to circumcise in foreskin, i.e., circumcision, which is yet connected only with the foreskin, therefore no true circumcision. In favor of this explanation Isaiah 1. That the prophet mentions Judah among these nations. If it cannot be denied of this nation, that its circumcision was connected with the foreskin, the same must apply, though in a different sense, to the others2. If the prophet wished to mention only absolutely uncircumcised nations, why has he mentioned particularly these? He might then have omitted Judah, and mentioned all others in preference to these. The selection is evidently intentional. All these nations are either notoriously or—on account of their affinity of race with Israel—at least probably circumcised. The former was the case with the Egyptians (Herod. II:36, 104). If circumcision was practiced only among the higher castes of the Egyptians (Winer, R. W. B. Art. “Beschneidung”) this would be another reason for the prophet to reckon the nation generally among the “circumcised in foreskin.” The קְצוּצִי פֵאָה were undoubtedly circumcised. For it is evident from Jeremiah 25:23; Jeremiah 49:28; Jeremiah 49:32, that by this phrase Arabian tribes, especially the Kedarenes, are understood, of which Herodotus (III:8) reports that they περιτρόκαλα κείρονται, περιξυροῦντες τούς κροτάφους which was forbidden to the Jews ( Leviticus 19:27; Leviticus 21:5). The Kedarenes, however, were descended from Ishmael ( Genesis 25:13; comp. Herzog, R-Enc. 1, S. 463) who was circumcised by Abraham ( Genesis 17:23) and among whose descendants the practice of this rite is continued even to this day, not by order of Mohammed (the Koran nowhere enjoins circumcision, comp. Michaelis, Mos. Recht. § 184) but as an ancient sacred custom. If now it cannot also be proved of the Edomites, Ammonites and Moabites ( Genesis 19:37-38) that they had circumcision (John Hyrcanus gave the Edomites the alternative either of abandoning their country or accepting circumcision, and they chose the latter. Joseph. Antiqu. XIII:9, 1) yet Jeremiah must have reckoned them among the circumcised. Whether he erred in this or not is another question. There is of course the possibility that the usage may have prevailed at his time among them also and afterwards declined, as even among the Israelites this law was by no means always punctually followed ( Joshua 5:2, sqq. Comp. Herzog. R-Enc. II. S. 108).—In short the juxtaposition of Judah and two other undoubtedly circumcised nations with three whose circumcision on account of their origin is possible and indeed highly probable, but not proved, shows that according to the intention of the prophet the expression (מול כערלה) is to be taken in the sense, which as we have shown above, is alone grammatically admissible.—With this also accords the causal sentence “for all the nations,” etc. It is entirely unnecessary to regard the article as a retrospective pronoun = all these nations. The prophet really wishes to say that all the nations of the heathens are uncircumcised, from which however it follows that those previously mentioned are so. If these are uncircumcised in spite of a circumcision, which from the standpoint of the theocracy must appear an unjustifiable imitation of the sacred sign of the covenant, and the whole house of Israel, including Judah, is uncircumcised at heart, it is explained why the Lord named Judah’s and the other nations’ circumcision—in foreskin. From this it further results that an improvement of Judah in the sense of Jeremiah 9:23 is not to be expected, whence finally it follows that Judah is exposed to the judgment of the Lord as well as those other nations.

Footnotes:

FN#15 - Jeremiah 9:23.—הַמִּתְהַלֵּל. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr.. § 101, 2 c.

FN#16 - Jeremiah 9:23.—הַשְׂכֵל. The preposition is omitted, as frequently: Isaiah 48:16; Isaiah 28:6; Isaiah 41:7. Comp. N. Gr., § 72, 2; 112,8.

FN#17 - Jeremiah 9:24.—[A. V.: The circumcised with the uncircumcised.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 9:22-23. “Paul says, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord ( 2 Corinthians 10:17), and Jesus, This is life eternal that they might know Thee that Thou art the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent ( John 17:3). This is to glory, as though one should say, God be praised, I am right well and sound. To be sound in the faith is to have the knowledge of Jesus Christ, to maintain it, to grow in it. This is to prosper. To be silent concerning grace from humility is an affectation. To make a great noise of good works as our own, is ridiculous. For grace produces them, the power of God dwelling in us. We do nothing and should do nothing if it were left to us; but the work of God in us, that we believe, is not to be passed over in silence, moroseness, and ingratitude. What a noise do the humble saints in the Revelation make of their grace, freedom, priesthood, royal dignity, victory, redemption (chap4, 5, 7, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19). There is also nothing any longer secret when we bear His name on our forehead. O that the whole earth were full of our glorying in the Lord! ‘O that we were able, our songs so high to raise, That all the country round, might echo with His praise.’ The world and false theology recommend in this respect a certain silence, which shows that they do not know which is their proper sphere. And against them it is best to contend realiter by manifestation of the Spirit and of power. Let your light so shine before men that they may glorify the Father in heaven ( Matthew 5:16).” Zinzendorf.

2. On Jeremiah 9:23. “Qui fideliter et obedienter vivit, non de ipsa obedientia tamquam de suo non accepto bono extollatur, sed qui gloriatur, in Domine glorietur. In ullo enim gloriandum, quando nostrum nihil sit.” Augustin: De bono Persever. Cap. xiv:7. Comp. Hilarius, Enarr in Psalm 52:8.

3. On Jeremiah 9:23. “Qui gloriatur, in Domine glorietur. Hoc est Christum pascere, hoc est Christo pascere, in Christo pascere, præter Christum sibi non pascere.” Augustin: De Pastoribus. Cap. Jeremiah 13:9.

4. On Jeremiah 9:23. “Videte quomodo nobis abstulit gloriam, ut daret gloriam; abstulit nostrum ut daret suam; abstulit inanem, ut daret plenam; abstulit nutantem, ut daret solidam.” Anselm. Comment. in 1 Corinthians 1:31.

5. On Jeremiah 9:24-25. “Like brothers, like caps. If the circumcised and uncircumcised are alike good and pious, they will not unfairly be punished in like manner.” Cramer.

6. On Jeremiah 9:24-25. “A clear testimony that the holy sacraments procure nothing per opus operatum, for the work’s sake. For the Jews were indeed circumcised in the flesh, but this was to be a sign to them of righteousness, that they should be spiritually circumcised in faith and good works. But since such spiritual circumcision did not follow, and they remained uncircumcised at heart, the other fleshly circumcision helped them not, but redounded instead to their sin.” Cramer.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 9:22-23. (Luther, Jeremiah 9:23-24). The Christian’s highest and true glory. It consists in1. Believing in the Lord; 2. Living in the Lord; 3. Working for the Lord; 4. Suffering for the Lord’s sake. (Florey: Trost Und Mahnung an Graben, I. Bändchen, S. 151).

2. On Jeremiah 9:22-23. The true knowledge of God1. Its nature (not dead science, but living experience); 2. its fruit, a. the highest blessing (mercy, justice and righteousness in Jesus Christ); b. the highest honor (he who has it will not be put to shame as he who glories in the flesh).

3. On [Eng. Vers. Jeremiah 9:23. Bp. Bull:—Examples of the folly of glorying (or trusting) in Wisdom of Solomon, might or riches:— Song of Solomon, Samson and Ahab.—S. R. A].

4. On [Eng. Vers. Jeremiah 9:24. Abp. Tillotson:—1. The wisest and surest reasonings in religion are grounded on the unquestionable perfections of the divine nature (ex. gr. belief in Divine Providence and veracity). 2. The nature of God is the true idea and pattern of perfection and happiness.—S. R. A.].

5. On Jeremiah 9:23. “The Christian’s self-glorying1. Evil self-glorying keep far from thee; 2. If thou wilt glory, glorify thyself in the Lord.” Gezetz. u. Zeugniss. 1860, Jan.

6. On Jeremiah 9:25-26. Circumcision as a figure of the relation of man to God1. The three stages of circumcision, uncircumcised, outwardly circumcised, truly circumcised, correspond to the three stages of being without God, serving God outwardly, serving God in spirit and in truth2. As external circumcision without that of the heart is equivalent to uncircumcision, so the outward service of God without the inward is equivalent to no service at all.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/jeremiah-9.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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