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Jeremiah; instruction shall not fail the priest, nor counsel the wise man, nor the word the prophet. Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and pay no regard to any of his words. 19. Do thou, O Yahveh, have regard to me, and hearken to the voice of my adversaries. 20. Is then evil recompensed for good? For they have dug a pit for my soul. Eemember how I stood before thy face, to speak good respecting them, in order to turn away thy indignation from them. 21. For this reason give up their sons to famine and cast them into the arms of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children and be made widows; and let their men be carried off by death, their youths slain by the sword in battle. 22. Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou suddenly bringest troops upon them; because they have dug a pit to take me, and have hidden snares for my feet. 23. But thou, Yahveh, knowest all their purpose against me for (my) death; cover not up their guilt, and blot not out their sin before thy face; but let them be made to fall before thee, in the time of thy wrath deal with them.
on the ground of the written and also traditional law (see on ii. 8); the wise man, here perhaps the counsellor of the rulers and people, counsel; the prophet, God's word. "Smiting with the tongue " refers not merely to refuting and shaming, but to deadly accusation and slander. Cf. ver. 23 and ix. 2,7, xi. 18 ff. Ver. 20. Cf. Ps. lvii. 6; there nrrc, as in ver. 22, Kethib; on the other hand, here Kethib and Keri with i, as in Jer. ii. 6. The prophet here uses the language of the Psalms; Ps. xxxv. 1-12 especially is to be compared, which Hitzig certainly regards as Jeremiah's. Ver. 21. UJ, Hiph., to pour out, cast down; a standing phrase with 3in T by, Ps. Ixiii. 10, Ezek. xxxv. 5, to deliver any one into the hands of the sword Ver. 23. Let them be overthrown (made to fall by judgment, as in vi. 15, viii. 12, xx. 11) before Thy face, according to what precedes: "cover not up their sins " = let them be already judged by Thy decree, until Thou execute it in the day of Thy wrath.
Contents of ch. xviii. a. The Doctrine of the Potter and the Clay, vv. 1-12. b. The Unteachable, vv. 13-23: a. their Unfaithfulness to God, vv. 13-17; their Schemes against the Prophet, vv. 18-23.
This discourse, symbolic or parabolic in form, and consisting mostly of a dialogue between God and the prophet, belongs perhaps to the same time as the discourse in ch. xix. 20, which uses a similar parabolic action; and, since the latter, xix. 2 ff. in a similar way, in part literally, likewise refers to the valley of Hinnom, like the temple-discourse, ch. vii., we do best to put the group, ch. xviii.-xx., in the time of Jehoiakim.
a. Vv. 1-12 sets forth God's sovereign freedom, especially in regard to His spoken words, whether promises or threats. God is not bound to His utterance when the people to whom it applies change either in a good or bad sense. Nor in this sovereignty is He either capricious or arbitrary, but on the contrary acts justly, because according to a high, unchangeable law, as Ezek. xviii. 21-29, xxxiii . 10-20 especially explains. The fact that God makes the execution of His decree depend on men's conduct, explains why certain predictions are not fulfilled (cf. Jonah), while it encourages to turn from evil ways, since the threatening may turn to promise, and warns against false security in regard to God's gracious promises. This great truth is pictorially exhibited to the prophet in the work of the potter, of course with the object that he should narrate what he says to the hearers, using a parable for this purpose. At the impulse of God's Spirit the seer goes to a potter's workshop. There the word of the Lord comes to him: The Lord has the nations in His power, especially the house of Israel, as the potter the plastic clay still under his hand, to which he can not only with the greatest ease give what shape he pleases, but which he can remould at his pleasure if it prove unsuitable for his purpose. Important here is the emphasis laid on man's freedom. For how can the "spoiling" under the hands of the Divine Fashioner be explained except from man's freedom? The application given in ver. 11 is merely the one required at the moment; it does not exhaust the parable, as ver. 9 f. shows. Plainly the purpose is to cure Israel of the notion that, building on the divine promises, it might boast of its character indelebilis. But the practical fruit, which ought primarily to grow out of this discourse,—repentance in order to avert the threatened judgment, which is no inevitable fate,—remains absent, ver. 12. This admonition also founders on stiffnecked resistance.
b. XVIII. 13-23. As in ii. 10 ff., the injustice of Israel towards its God is described as altogether unnatural, the like of which is not found among the heathen, ver. 13 f. And what have they gained by this unexampled unfaithfulness? Nothing but the destruction of the land; so foolish was it to make an enemy of the Almighty! By such overpowering discourses the prophet's enemies find themselves compelled to contrive new plots against his life, like those previously devised (xi. 18 ff.), but frustrated by God's providence. They attempt this wicked course of shutting the mouth of a speaker filled with God's Spirit, relying on the certain continuance of the theocracy and its organs, ver. 18. As they had priests, sages, prophets, they were assured of the divine guidance, and need not trouble themselves about this disturber of the peace, and might remove him out of the way without fear. Against these deadly foes Jeremiah invokes the protection of his God (ver. 19), representing to the supreme Judge the shameful injustice which made such evil requital for his intercession for them as for the whole land (ver. 20). The retribution imprecated upon them on this account (vv. 21-23) is just, although what was said on xvii. 18 applies here in higher degree. Such imprecations, which would withdraw even God's grace entirely from God's enemy, have their justifiable place in the Church, not of the new, but of the old covenant, where this grace, God's love of enemies, had not been long revealed in its full measure.
Breaking Of The Bottle, And Its Consequences,
XIX. 1. Thus said Yahveh: Go and buy thee a bottle of the potter, and (take with thee) of the elders of the people and of the elders of the priests, 2. and go forth to the valley of Ben Hinnom, which is before the entrance of the Potsherdgate, and proclaim there the words which I shall tell thee. 3. And thou shalt say: Hear ye Yahveh's word, ye kings of Judah and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem! Thus says Yahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I bring evil on this
Ver. 1 f. p3p3, bottle with long, narrow neck; a duplicative form, imitating the gurgling sound of liquid poured from such a vessel; cf. the word-play in ver. 7, in consequence of which Ewald prefers watering-can. Bnn IW (="W\ xviii. 2), earthenware-maker. The flask is therefore of earth. From B-nn, made of earth, potsherd (Lev. vi. 21 and often), comes also the form mDin, ver. 2 (Keri with '), " gate of potsherds," so called from the many potsherds thrown down before it; according to others, "potter's gate." Potters' works seem also to have been found in this quarter, so that the prophet could buy his bottle in passing. The " potsherd-gate," not mentioned elsewhere, seems to be identical with Nehemiah's "dung-gate" (Neh. ii. 13, iii. 13 f., xii. 31), through which one went from the city southwards. In any case it led to the valley of Hinnom.—Instead of '3pTai we expect 'd "f? nnph (cf. xxxv. 3, xxxviii. 10), and take with thee of the elders. LXX, a%tn, but scarcely after Hebrew text. Rather, JV3pl already involved the idea of taking with one. Elders of the people = respectable heads of the same, as representing the nation, to be witnesses of the symbolical act intended to be done in the valley of Hinnom, and of the words to be uttered there. Elders from the priesthood, cf. 2 Kings xix. 2. On Hinnom, see under vii. 31. Ver. 3. Kings, place, with which the ears of all who Lear it shall tingle; 4. because they have forsaken me and disfigured this place, and burnt incense there to other gods whom they knew not, they and their fathers and the kings of Judah, and filled this place with the blood of the innocent, 5. and have built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons in the fire as burntofferings to Baal, which I commanded them not, nor spake of to them, nor did it come into my mind. 6. Therefore, behold, days come, is Yahveh's oracle, that this place shall no more be called Tophet and valley of Ben Hinnom, but valley of slaughter. 7. And I will empty out the purpose of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and cause them to perish by the sword before their foes, and by the hand of them that seek after their life, and will give their corpses to be food to the birds of heaven and the beasts of the earth, 8. and I make this city a desert and a hissing; every one that passes by it shall be astounded, and hiss for all its calamities. 9. And I make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their
see on xvii. 19. DipD, see on vii. 3. The word doubtless seems to refer specifically to the valley of Hinnom; but its pollution
also extended to the whole land, and therefore brought misfortune on the whole land. n^vn for nj^vn, Ges. § 67. 5, to buzz, jingle, of the ears; to ring (1 Sam. iii. 11; 2 Kings xxi. 12). Ver. 4. "I3J, Piel, not to know, to mistake; here, to make outlandish, to distort, desecrate, cf. xvi. 18. nDn in the present context cannot, after the analogy of xvi. 13, be subject to DijTP, but belongs to the previous assertions of the polluting of the land and idolatry. Different in LXX, who join "and the kings of Judah" to what follows. The latter reading, erasing the copula before it6Di, is the more acceptable, but not certainly the original one. The blood of the innocent shed points specifically to the children sacrificed in the valley of Hinnom, Ps. cvi. 38. See on ver. 5 and on the threat of ver. 6 under vii. 31 f. Ver. 7. And I empty out the purpose of Judah, i.e. make their skill of no avail. The metaphor of emptying plays on the p3p3, which Jeremiah holds in his hand; probably he also poured out the bottle at these words. Jeremiah is fond not only of material, but also of linguistic symbols, see on i. 11. After that blood-bath the corpses will remain unburied, see on vii. 33. Ver. 8. See on xviii. 16. Ver. 9. The famine will become so intense during the siege that they will eat their own children,