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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 8

 

 

Verse 1

RETRIBUTION, Jeremiah 8:1-3.

1. They shall bring out the bones — Thus to complete the dreadful picture. Even the grave is not a safe covert from the avenging justice of God. The victorious enemy shall violate the sanctuaries of the dead in their search for plunder, or to express their hatred and contempt.


Verse 2

2.

The Growing Wickedness of the Leaders and Teachers. Jeremiah 8:4 to Jeremiah 9:24.


Verse 3

3. Death shall be chosen — The fate of the survivors is most pitiable of all, for they prefer death but do not find it.


Verse 4

IMPENITENCE AND PUNISHMENT, Jeremiah 8:4-12.

4. Shall they fall, etc. — Better, Do men fall and not rise? etc., the expression being impersonal. If men fall, they do not continue lying on the ground. If a man loses his way, he does not persist in going on, but turns about to retrace his steps. Here commences the second division of this discourse, in which the prophet sets forth the obstinacy of the people in wickedness and the fearfulness of their judgment.


Verse 5

5. Why then, etc. — And so constitute such a sad anomaly.


Verse 6

6. I hearkened — The person speaking is Jehovah, who listens, not with the cold ear of a sovereign and judge, but with deep and eager solicitude as a father.

As the horse rusheth — Literally, overfloweth; as the torrent leaps over or bears away all obstructions. The mad impetuosity of the war horse is the point of comparison.


Verse 7

7. Yea, the stork… knoweth, etc. — Even the birds obey the law of God written on their natures, but my people are more brutish than the irrational animals themselves.


Verse 8

8. The pen of the scribes is in vain — The latter part of this verse should be translated, certainly the lying pen of the scribes hath made it a lie. The prophet would call them back from their boastfulness in the possession of the written law, and declares that the corruption is so universal that even this has become so overlaid with falsehood as to become a lie. In this he alludes to the office of scribes and priests, as expositors, standing between God’s law and the people, and “perverting the ways of God,” “making void his commandments.” That of which Christ complained had already begun in Jeremiah’s time.


Verse 9

9. Rejected the word of the Lord — “If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”


Verses 10-12

10-12. Were they ashamed — Identical with Jeremiah 6:12-15, but with such differences as to vindicate the passage from the charge of being interpolated here. It is an instance of Jeremiah’s tendency to repeat himself. For a list of these repetitions, see Introduction, p. 286.


Verse 13

THE HORRORS OF THE VISITATION, Jeremiah 8:13-17.

13. There shall be no grapes — The italic words in the Authorized Version, as is indeed often the case, pervert the sense. The middle portion of the verse is not a threat, but a descriptive statement. The whole verse may be rendered: I will utterly sweep them away, (literally, I will gather, I will sweep,) saith Jehovah; there are no grapes on the vines, and no figs on the fig tree, and the leaf is withered. So I will appoint unto them those that shall pass over them.


Verse 14

14. Let us be silent, etc. — Better, let us perish, for Jehovah our God hath caused us to perish.

Gall — The name of a poisonous plant which cannot be unmistakably identified. From the fact that it is mentioned in Deuteronomy 32:32, as having berries, some have not improbably conjectured that the nightshade is intended.


Verse 16-17

16, 17. From Dan — The northern boundary of the land, and hence the place where the alarm of an enemy coming from the north would first be given.

Strong ones — War horses. See Jeremiah 4:13; Jeremiah 4:29, etc.

Cockatrices — Basilisks. From Isaiah 59:5, we learn that they were oviparous, and from Isaiah 11:8, that they were subterranean in habit.

It would also appear from this and other passages that they were incapable of being charmed. Ecclesiastes 10:11; Psalm 58:45.


Verse 18

CAPTIVITY AND SORROW, Jeremiah 8:18-22.

18. When I would comfort, etc. — The original for “comfort” is a noun used vocatively, and occurs only here. Hence, the rendering should be, O my comfort in sorrow, my heart grows sick in me.


Verse 19

19. Because of them that dwell in a far country — Rather, from out of a far country, namely, the land of their captivity. The words which follow are spoken by the exiled Jews.


Verse 20

20. Harvest… summer — The “harvest” is the time for the ingathering of the grain; the “summer” for the ingathering of the fruits. When both are past all hope is gone. This is the language of utter despair.


Verse 21

21. Am I hurt — Thus does the prophet identify himself with his people in their humiliation. The language here is highly emotional; the short, nervous sentences marking the warm feeling of the writer as more diffuse words could not.


Verse 22

22. Balm in Gilead — One of the precious productions of Palestine. See Genesis 43:11; Jeremiah 46:11; Jeremiah 51:8, etc., etc.

There — Where the medicine is, there should be the skill for its use. Israel’s “priests and prophets were the physicians whose office it was to teach the remedy for human sin and woe. Has Israel then no balm for herself? Is there no physician in her who can bind up her wound?” — Speaker’s Commentary.

Health… recovered — Keil translates, why, then, is no plaster laid on the daughter of my people? But Furst and Nagelsbach support the common Version.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 8:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-8.html. 1874-1909.

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