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come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; and say unto them, Hear ye the word of the *<> Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: Thus « saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses « on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they 23 obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction. And 24 it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein; then shall there enter into the gates of this n city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David,
margin). The latter is the more probable of the two, as there would not be a gate called after the common people but used also for the passage of the kings. It is thus.most likely that the gate in question was one of those leading to the temple, perhaps the main entrance to the outer court, while the priests would pass in by side entrances. If we suppose further that, as in our Lord's time, there was traffic carried on in the Temple court, or at the entrance to it, this whole passage will receive additional significance.
21. to] in. This is both more literal and more forcible than the Eng. Vers. The closest rendering would be in your souls; as we should say, Lay it to heart.
21. 22. bear no burden neither carry forth a burden] It appears
that the inhabitants both of town and country habitually broke the fourth commandment by engaging in traffic on the Sabbath. The latter brought in their produce for sale in Jerusalem, while the former would bring from their houses commodities to be offered in exchange. We may compare Neh. xiii. 15—22.
22. neither do ye any work] The prohibition of manual labour on the Sabbath was in after times carried to an absurd extreme by the stricter expounders of the Law. Thus it was forbidden by them to a woman to wear on that day a ribbon that was only fastened and not stitched on her dress, for thus, they said, she was carrying a burden on the Sabbath day!
23. Substantially the same as chap. vii. 26.
25. then shall there enter] Prosperity, permanence, and religious devotion shall be the three characteristic features of the Jewish State, if only they will hallow the Sabbath.
kings and princes] In the parallel verse, chap. xxii. 4, kings alone are mentioned. There however the address is to the king, here directly riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this
"6 city shall remain for ever. And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing
27 sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the Lord. But if you will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.
Chap. XVIII. 1—17. The figureofthe Potter's Clay audits meaning.
18 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
to the people, and the effect is increased by the picture of a grand procession of the royal house and their followers, all attending upon the person of the king. In strictness, the princes (see note on chap. i. 18) not "sitting upon the throne of David, "they" will refer to the kings only.
26. We have here enumerated the sections of the country still left in the possession of the Israelites, i. e. of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
the land of Benjamin] lying north of Judah.
the plain] stretching from the hill-country to the Mediterranean.
the mountains] the central part, including the wilderness of Judah which lay to the westward, and reaching to the Dead Sea.
burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense] Three sorts of offerings are here mentioned, two bloody and one unbloody. Meat offerings (a name whose sound is rather misleading to our ears now) consisted of flour and oil, and had (Lev. ii. 1) frankincense (the 'incense' of this verse) strewn upon them. The incense offering (Exod. xxx. 7) is expressed by a different word in the Hebrew, although frankincense was one of the ingredients which entered with sweet spices into its composition (Exod. xxx. 34).
sacrifices of praise] praise. It is not meant that any special kind of sacrifices are called by this name, but that the offering of all the sacrifices just mentioned is an expression of praise. So in chap. xxxiii. 1 r.
27. Disobedience in this matter shall be followed by an exhibition of God's wrath, which shall take the form of a general conflagration (2 Kings xxv. 9).
'chap. XVIII. 1—17. The Figure Of The Potter's Clay
AND ITS MEANING.
1. The word which came...] The words and events of chapters Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will * cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the 3 potter's house, and behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand 4
xviii.—xx. may all be considered as having this for their heading. Chap. xviii. gives and explains the figure of the potter's clay, and adds the effect upon the people. Chap. xix. gives and applies the figure of the potter's broken vessel, while chap. xx. describes the sufferings of Jeremiah in consequence, and his complaints. The two symbolical actions probably occurred within the first four years of Jehoiakim's reign. For (i) there seems from the language used to be still a chance for the people (the calamity threatened had not yet arrived), and (ii) the mention of Pashur (chap. xx. 1, 2) as the person who puts the prophet in the stocks, leads us to the same conclusion. "In Zedekiah's reign Pashur's office was held by Zephaniah (chap. xxix. 25, 26), so that after Jehoiakim's death Pashur must have been carried into captivity with Jeconiah. But as such an outrage upon a prophet as that committed by Pashur upon Jeremiah would certainly not have been allowed in Josiah's time: and as after the first four years of Jehoiakim Jeremiah was in hiding, and dared not shew himself till just at last, when the Chaldeans were marching upon Jerusalem, no other date for this prophecy is probable except that given above." Sp. Comm.
3. I went down] probably from the Temple, where his prophecies would naturally be delivered, as the place of resort, and one that was solemn and impressive in its associations. This was in the upper part of the city. The potters were probably south of the valley of Hinnom.
the potter's house] The comparison (as in ver. 6) of man to the clay and God to the potter was a familiar one. Compare with this pas* sage Job x. 9, xxxiii. 6; Is. xxix. 16, xlv. 9, lxiv. 8. The trade was a very early one. The Hebrews had themselves been concerned in it while yet in Egypt (Ps. lxxxi. 6). Dr Thomson (The Land and the Book, p. 520) thus describes what he saw at Jaffa (Joppa): "There was the potter sitting at his 'frame,' and turning the 'wheel' with his foot. He had a heap of the prepared clay near him, and a pan of water by his side. Taking a lump in his hand, he placed it on the top of the wheel (which revolves horizontally) and smoothed it into a low cone, like the upper end of a sugar-loaf, then thrusting his thumb into the top of it, he opened a hole down through the centre, and this he constantly widened by pressing the edges of the revolving cone between his hands. As it enlarged and became thinner, he gave it whatever shape he pleased with the utmost ease and expedition."
the wheels] literally, probably, the two stones, not however that they were really of that material. "How early the wheel came into use in Palestine, we know not, but it seems likely that it was adopted from Egypt. It consisted of a wooden disc placed on another larger one, and turned by the hand by an attendant, or worked by a treadle." Sm. Bibl. Diet., Art. 'Pottery.'
4. And the vessel was marred] "From some defect in the clay,
of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said / would benefit them. Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye
or because he had taken too little, the potter suddenly changed his mind, crushed his growing jar instantly into a shapeless mass of mud, and beginning anew, fashioned it into a totally different vessel." (Thomson, ibid.)
6. cannot I do with you as this potterThe comparison is between the absolute power of God over Israel and that of the potter over the jnaterial on which he works. At any moment he can crush it up or alter its shape. Verses 7—10 go on to shew however that God is not arbitrary in the matter. It is still the conduct of the people that determines their ultimate fate.
"First of the prophets, Jeremiah proclaims distinctly what had been more or less implied throughout, that predictions were subject to no overruling necessity, but depended for their fulfilment on the moral state of those to whom they were addressed; that the most confident assurance of blessing could be frustrated by sin; that the most awful warnings of calamity could be averted by repentance." Stanley's Jewish Church, ii. 445
7. At what instant] literally, Suddenly. The same word occurs at the beginning of ver. 9. The rendering in the two cases probably is At one time—at another. The verbs (pluck up, etc.) in this and in ver. 9 remind us of chap. i. 10.
8. / will repent] speaking after the manner of men. The sense is, I will alter my treatment, for among men change of conduct implies change of purpose.
11. The direct application of the figure to the people here begins. frame] The Heb. word is the same as that for potter, and so is specially appropriate.
now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. And they said, There is no hope: but TM we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. Therefore thus saith 13 the Lord; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh M from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? Because my 15 people hath forgotten me, they have burnt incense to vanity,
make your ways and your doings good ] See note on chap. vii. 3.
12. There is no hope] We have gone too far to turn back now. The same expression both in the Hebrew and English occurred chap. ii. 15.
imagination] stubbornness. Compare chap. iii. 17.
13. Ask ye now among the heathen] An appeal is made of a similar kind to that in chap. ii. 10, 11.
the virgin of Israel] She who was tended with the utmost care by the Almighty has in spite of it all broken through the sanctity which hedged her around. The expression stands of course, as in chap. xiv. 17, for the people collectively.
14. Will a man leave-,..] Doth the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock of the field? This is much to be preferred as the reading of the Hebrew. Lebanon (= the white mountain) is so called from the perpetual snow which rests on iti highest points. Tacitus (Histories, Bk. v. chap. 6) speaks of it as a secure retreat for snows. So Thomson (The Land and the Book, p. 20), "the higher half of Lebanon looked like a huge snow bank drifted up against the sky."
the rock of the field] Some understand this to be Jerusalem, on account of somewhat similar expressions applied to it (chap. xvii. 3), my mountain in the field, and (chap. xxi. 13) rock of the plain. The difficulty however of connecting the snows of Lebanon with any water supply to Jerusalem is too great. Hence the rock will be most naturally understood of Lebanon, and the field of the country at large.
shall the coldflowing waters..!] do strange cold trickling waters dry np? Does the water that percolates through the rocks, coming from some unknown (strange) regions and cold (thus free from much evaporation), disappear? The reference may very possibly be to the waters of Siloam or some other familiar supply coming in the way thus described. It is difficult to understand the epithet strange, if it refer merely to the water flowing down the sides of Lebanon, and produced by the melting of the snows. The general sense at any rate is clear. Nature is constant in her operations, but God, the Rock of Israel, is forsaken by those who used to follow Him.
IB. Because] For. This continues the thought of the 13th verse, ver. 14 being parenthetic.