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evident between the talk of this body of men and what the genuine prophet saw with undoubted certainty proves their perversity and untruth (ver. 21). And this perversity is seen also in the absence of saving results (ver. 22). Instead of changing men's hearts, this prophecy only nourishes the baneful dream of self-righteousness, and destroys whatever may remain of the fruits of the true testimony.
b. XXIII. 23-32. After the ungodliness of the current prophetic teaching has been exposed in its origin, matter, and results, Jeremiah treats more in detail of its origin. It is teaching, the impurity of which must be patent to the omniscient God, who sees afar off. These prophets are especially fond of appealing to dreams, when they are not quite audacious enough to invent revelations proper. Now the dream is doubtless a means by which God may occasionally speak to man; this Jeremiah does not deny (cf. Konig, Offenbarungsbcgriff, ii. 10); but since it is much more uncertain and far more easily confounded with the thoughts of man's own heart than the genuine prophetic vision, it is not to be put on a level with the latter and mixed up with it; it is to the latter as straw to wheat. Hence one should keep the two carefully apart and not substitute one for the other (ver. 28). How different the effect of soothing idealistic dreams from that of God's inexorable word, which consumes everything impure like fire, and breaks in pieces the hard, stony heart like a hammer (ver. 29). All self-exalting affectation in divine things is doubly unjust and foolish, since the all-seeing God will not let Himself be mocked. In vv. 30-32 God's drawing nigh to judgment is announced, not so much against three classes of prophets as against three ways in which they provoke God. They do this (a) by stealing actual sayings of the Lord. Since original inspiration is wanting to them, they are shut up to such borrowing from genuine prophets. The robbery lies in this, that they act as if they had received these revelations directly; the danger in this, that an earlier prophetic message might he wrongly applied to the present, e.g. Isaiah's saying respecting the preserving of Jerusalem; (6) by wilfully fabricating divine oracles (ver. 31); (c) by prophesying false dreams (ver. 32), either the dreams themselves being fictitious, or, while plainly they did not claim to be a means of divine revelation, they are now raised into prophecy, as was complained of before.
Ch. xxiii. 33-40. The section on prophets and prophecy is closed by a warning against the use of the word Massah, introduced by earlier prophets as a designation of a solemn divine oracle, but abused by Jeremiah's contemporaries, the same word signifying burden, to deal secret blows at God's word. From the severity with which Jeremiah forbids the word Massah to the people as to the prophets, we may gather that the secondary sense was used in a thoroughly slanderous way, as if the word of the Lord were always a grievous plague, not a benefit to the land. Thus the phrase, while holy and divine in itself, became a perfidious byword, throwing suspicion on the preaching of the genuine prophet, and so of the Lord Himself, as if the purpose of His speaking were to oppress instead of to save the people. In this way we can understand the sharp rebuke and warning uttered by Jeremiah.
The Two Baskets Of Figs, Ch. Xxiv.
XXIV. 1. Yahveh showed me, and behold, two baskets with figs set before the temple of Yahveh, after Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had led captive Jeconiah, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, and the smith and the locksmith from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. 2. The one basket contained very good figs after the manner of early figs, and the other basket very bad figs, which could not be eaten for badness. 3. Then said Yahveh to me: What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said: Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad very bad, so that they cannot be eaten for badness. 4. Then came Yahveh's word to me thus: 5. Thus says Yahveh, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I look with favour on the captives of Israel, whom I sent away from this place into the land of the Chaldaeans. 6. And I set my eye upon them for good,
Ver. 1. "iarin, used of supernatural showing; with the form of the narrative, cf. Amos viii. 1 f., Jer. i. 11. "TO or Hvn, whence plural D'KW, basket. DnjnD, exposed, set up; the word may have been a technical phrase for the exposing of fruits before the temple for inspection ; they were, of course, fruits to be used in divine worship, perhaps first-fruits. On this exile, see 2 Kings xxiv. 14 ff. Ver. 2. Early figs are specially juicy and delicate, Hos. ix. 10; Isa. xxviii. 4. Since it was not just spring, other figs already existing, the good ones are compared with these only in reference to quality. Ver. 5. T3n, to regard with attention and interest (cf. Ruth ii. 10, 19), made still clearer by the following mit^, follows up the allusion to the inspecting priest, who regards some fruits with favour, others with disfavour. Ver. 6, see on i. 10. Ver. 7. The heart is here and make them return to this land, and will build them and not pull down, and plant them and not pluck up.
7. And I will give them a heart to know me that I am Yahveh, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, if they shall turn to me with all their heart.
8. And thus says Yahveh, I will make Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his princes, and the remnant of Jerusalem who are left in this land, and who dwell in the land of Egypt, like the bad figs, which cannot be eaten for badness.
9. And I make them a terror, an offence to all kingdoms of the earth, a disgrace and a byword, a taunt and a curse in all places whither I shall drive them. 10. And I send upon them the sword, and the famine, and the pestilence, until they are consumed from the soil which I gave to them and their fathers.
the organ of the knowledge of God, as elsewhere of the understanding, specifically of the moral and religious reason. The Lord will renew in them this corrupted organ; cf. xxxi. 33, and especially Ezek. xxxvi. 26. The knowledge of the Lord is the chief condition and also the highest stage of a right attitude to Him, which is expressed in the usual reciprocal form. i3B* '3, generally translated: for they shall be converted, which in this case would be the effect of divine regeneration. But (see xxix. 13) it is rather the condition of the latter taking place; also those banished to Babylon are not eo ipso the object of divine approval; only when that condition is fulfilled can God fulfil His saving purposes. There is unmistakeable allusion to Deut. iv. 29 f. Ver. 8. Numerous exiles, of whom, however, Jeremiah foretold nothing good, were therefore already in Egypt, perhaps especially fugitives who betook themselves there during different wars, perhaps also many who accompanied Jehoahaz. Ver. 9. njnr?, see on xv. 4. The following njrta omitted by Hitzig, Ewald, Umbreit, Graf after LXX as meaningless, is rather used intentionally to correspond to nijnn and jTiD at the beginning of the verse. They will be an object of horror, and also of dislike, regarded as an evil, and felt to be such in all places. "A disgrace," in accordance with Deut.
xxviii. 37, only with the addition of rbbyb. Cf. also Jer.
xxix. 17 f.
Contents of ch. xxiv. A Vision during the first part of Zedekiah's reign, and its interpretation.
The carrying away of King Jehoiachin and a selection of the inhabitants of Jerusalem had taken place (2 Kings xxiv. 15 f.), impressing the whole nation with a vivid sense of the terrible severity of God's judgments. Nevertheless this impression did not last long. After the first terror had passed off, they gave themselves up again to indifference, nay perhaps, in foolish blindness deemed themselves better than those on whom the hard lot of exile to Babylon had fallen, instead of taking warning by their fate and seriously amending their own course. Over against this unwarrantable selfcontent of those who for once had escaped God's punishing hand, the prophet has to set the divine declaration, that the portion of the people left behind, as well as the one that had removed to Egypt, was thoroughly worthless, whereas God's thoughts of mercy will be realized in those transported to Babylon. This is presented to the prophet in the form of a vision. He sees two baskets with figs of very dissimilar quality set in front of the temple. The basket with good figs is interpreted to him of the captives dwelling in the land of the Chaldaeans, who will find favour in the Lord's eyes if they sincerely repent. In that band of exiles is found a kernel from which will issue the new people of God, which the Lord creates for Himself. On the other hand, what is left in Jerusalem, with King Zedekiah at the head, will be rejected like the bad figs, and be an object of aversion and dislike to all nations.