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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 20

 

 

Verses 1-6

Jeremiah 19:1 to Jeremiah 20:6. The Earthenware Flask; Jeremiah in the Stocks.—This section seems to be editorially grouped with the last because of the further reference to pottery; the original prophecy may have been expanded in Jeremiah 19:3-9 by a later writer. It seems more natural to date these incidents after the Temple-sermon (Jeremiah 19:7) rather than before it; in either case, in the early years of Jehoiakim. Jeremiah is to take representatives of Judah to the Valley of Hinnom (Jeremiah 7:31), by the gate of potsherds (mg.; i.e. where these were thrown away), that he may warn them of the punishment about to come for their introduction of alien worship, their injustice, and their sacrifice of children by fire. A new name shall be given to the valley (Jeremiah 7:32) to denote the coming slaughter, appalling (Jeremiah 18:16) to behold. As a symbol of this destruction, the prophet is to break the flask he has bought; deaths shall be so numerous that burials will take place even in the defiled valley (2 Kings 23:10) for want of room (Jeremiah 19:11 mg.), and the city itself shall be defiled, because of its Babylonian cults (Jeremiah 32:29). Jeremiah repeats his warning in the Temple (Jeremiah 19:14 f.), with the result that the responsible officer put him in the stocks. To this official Jeremiah gives a symbolic name (Jeremiah 20:3), denoting the terror of his fate and that of his friends at the hands of the Babylonians.

Jeremiah 19:4. estranged this place: i.e. Jerusalem, by the worship of other gods.—the blood of innocents: Jeremiah 2:34, 2 Kings 21:16; 2 Kings 24:4.

Jeremiah 19:5. Omit, with LXX, "for burnt-offerings unto Baal", since these offerings were made to Molech, Jeremiah 32:35, i.e. probably to Yahweh under this name; cf. Jeremiah 7:31 and the note.

Jeremiah 19:6. Topheth, see on Jeremiah 7:31.

Jeremiah 19:7. make void: playing on the Hebrew word for "flask"; cf. mg.

Jeremiah 19:8. plagues: strokes or wounds.

Jeremiah 19:9. cf. Deuteronomy 28:53. On the breaking of the flask, cf. Thomson, p. 641; for the significance of such symbolism, see the note on Jeremiah 13:1.

Jeremiah 19:13. The use of the Oriental roof is described in Thomson, p. 42.

Jeremiah 20:2. See Jeremiah 29:26, Acts 16:24; a more modern parallel in Braithwaite, The Beginnings of Quakerism, p. 197.


Verses 7-18

Jeremiah 20:7-18. The Prophet's Troubles, Hopes, and Dark Despair.—In passionate protest against his lot (possibly occasioned by the incident just related) Jeremiah complains that Yahweh has beguiled him into the work of a prophet, only that he may incur bitter shame, and suffer violence. Yet the inner compulsion of the prophetic word will not allow him to restrain it (i.e. "forbear", Jeremiah 20:9), though it subjects him to the charge of treasonable utterance (Jeremiah 26:11). Jeremiah 20:11-13 (if originally here) mark a change of mood, and express Jeremiah's confidence that Yahweh will avenge him. The depth of his despair is reached in Jeremiah 20:14-18 (cf. Job 3:3-12), in which he curses the very day of his birth; he awards a curse instead of the usual reward for good news to the messenger who announced it, invoking on him the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:25, Isaiah 13:19), and the alarms of war (Jeremiah 4:19). He wishes he had never been born, because of his hard fate (Jeremiah 20:18). This impressive passage is of great importance for the study of the prophetic consciousness; it shows clearly that the psychological compulsion which underlies a "Thus saith the Lord" is the guarantee of the prophet's sincerity, when claiming to speak by Divine inspiration.

Jeremiah 20:8. Violence and spoil: i.e. as being suffered by the speaker.

Jeremiah 20:17. For "from" read "in", with LXX, Syr.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 20:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/jeremiah-20.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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