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xxii . 13 ff., xxiii . 10, xxix. 23 et al. From this it follows, that with the fear of the true God reverence for His holy law also vanished, and heathen profligacy hroke in. The great laws of chastity, honesty, righteousness (e.g. in administering justice) were neglected among high and low, even among priests and prophets, who, instead of being organs of the divine Torah, as to the majority of them, followed the spirit of the age, countenanced worldly power, and thirsted after mammon. Hence they were utterly incapable of raising the nation morally. Where attempts were made at repentance and amendment, they remained ineffectual beginnings.
The punitive judgment which Jeremiah has to announce is mainly of a political kind. He takes occasion, indeed, to point out to the people God's retributive hand in barrenness, drought, etc. (v. 24, xiv. 1 ff.). But the chief judgment which he announces from the first is one which foreign nations will inflict on Judah and Jerusalem, such as the Assyrians inflicted on Israel and Samaria. From the introductory vision onward, a power from the north is described as the executor of judgment; and the earlier discourses, up to ch. xxv., in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, speaking generally, do not go beyond this mysterious, indefinite description, i. 13 ff., iii. 18, iv. 6 f., 13 ff. (cf. v. 15 ff., vi . 3 fif.), vi. 22 ff., viii. 16, x. 22, xiii. 20 (cf. xvi. 15, xxiii. 8). On the other hand, from xxv. 9 onward Nebuchadnezzar appears specifically as God's instrument in punishing Judah and the heathen world. Now it seems strange that he at last emerges as the "northern " foe, whereas Babylon lies south-east of Palestine. I Some, therefore, have suggested the Scythians, who have been recognised in the description of the approaching foe, ch. iv.-vi. According to Herod. i. 103 ff., these Scythians, after conquering Media, also overran Asia Minor and penetrated as far as Egypt. In doing so they passed through Beth-Shan (hence called Scythopolis) to the coast, and then through Philistia, thus touching on Judaea (Maspero, GeschidUe d. morgenl. Volker, p. 468 ff.). This invasion, however, seems to have taken place several years hefore the call of Jeremiah. It is also certainly wrong to think that the prophet originally understood the Scythians by that northern foe. Apart from the consideration that particular features like the war-chariots (iv. 13) do not suit them, the prophet speaks from the first of a deportation of his people to that northern land (iii. 18, v. 19), whereas he could not for a moment think that the Scythians would carry such an exile into effect. Nevertheless we do not deny the influence of the appearance of those wild horsemen upon Jeremiah's vision in a formal respect, as in v. 15 ff., vi. 3 ff., 22 ff. How great was the impression made upon the Jews by those hitherto unknown marauding and warlike hosts is shown by Ezekiel's vision of Gog in the land of Magog, ch. xxxviii. 39 (Herzog, v. p. 263 f.). Moreover, the great empires of Asia—Assyria, Babylon, and Persia —always had peoples of this kind among their vassals and auxiliaries. Jeremiah may therefore have those powers in mind and yet employ the Scythians, who were regarded by him and his contemporaries with terror. At all events it is clear that the prophet in naming, from the fourth year of Jehoiakim (or, after the battle of Carchemish), in the most definite way, the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar as the avenging foes, by no means intended to make any change in his previous prophecy, but to continue it in direct line. He now also represents the enemy as coming from the north and carrying away Judah into that region (xxxi. 8). In order to understand this view, we must remember—(1) that the Babylonians did in fact advance into the country from the north; (2) that, as the heirs of the Assyrian empire, they belonged, in the eyes of the Jews, to the group of northern nations. Thus the only question is, whether Jeremiah, up to the time when Nebuchadnezzar entered on the scene, really thought of no one nation of this group (Nagelsbach), or, as ancient writers think, from the first understood the Chaldaeans by the northern
peoples. We think that revelation at first showed him that nation, in an indefinite way, as one coming from the north; but on reflection he could scarcely be doubtful at once that it was Babylon, already contemplated in this character by Isaiah (xxxix. 6) as well as Micah (iv. 10), and presently by Habakkuk, that would carry this work of the Lord into effect.
In this preaching of judgment Jeremiah stands continually in the strongest antagonism, first, to the priesthood, whose chief interest lay in turning the theocracy to outward profit, and to whom, therefore, the unbroken continuance of the temple in Jerusalem was the first article of faith; and, secondly, to the prophetic body which stood in close union with the priesthood, and which was always ready by encouraging oracles and dreams to heighten confidence in God's city and state, and to conjure away gathering storms by their confident language. Superficial optimism, therefore, is the constant sign of these opponents of the prophet. See respecting the priests: ii. 8, 26, v. 31, vi . 13, viii. 1, 10, xiii. 13, xiv. 18, xviii. 18, xix. 1, xx. 1, xxiii. 11, xxvi. 7 ff., xxvii. 16 (xxix. 25 ff.), xxxi . 14, xxxii. 32, xxxiii. 21, xxxiv. 19 (xxxvii. 3). Inspecting the prophets: ii. 8, 26, vi. 13 ff., viii. 1, 10, xiii. 13, xiv. 13 ff., 18, xviii . 18, xxiii. 9-32, 33-40, xxvi. 7 ff., xxvi. 20, xxvii. 9, 14, 16, xxix. 21, 31, xxxii. 32, xxxvii. 19.
In contrast with these false prophets, who hoped to be able easily to patch up the hurts of the nation, Jeremiah announced from the beginning a complete destruction of the southern kingdom, like the destruction inflicted by the Assyrians on the northern one. The city will be taken and destroyed. The people will be carried away, iii. 18, v. 19, ix. 15 f., xii. 14 f., xiii. 1 ff., 19, xv. 2, xvil 3 f., xx. 4 f., xxi. 7, xxii. 26 f. (against Jehoiachin, etc.). According to xxv. 11 (belonging to the year when Babylon's suzerainty began), the Babylonian dominion is to last seventy years; so also xxix. 10. Thus the time of the bondage also is limited, several of the passages referred to above speaking already of the return from exile. According to chs. l.-li., Israel's redemption is closely connected with Babylon's fall. This conclusion shows that the prophet with all his sad moods did not despair of God's dealings with His people. The nearer the judgment approached, and the more widely its terrors were felt, the more scope Jeremiah was able to give to the promise. In his early and earliest days, indeed, it was not wholly wanting (iii. 14 ff., xii. 14 ff., xvi. 14 f.); but especially during the period of heaviest tribulation under Zedekiah, whilst Jerusalem was beleaguered, Jeremiah was permitted gloriously to unfold the programme of deliverance, xxiii . 1 fit, xxiv. 6 ff., xlvii. 2 7 f., and in his book of consolation, chs. xxx.-xxxiii.
It was the outward downfall of the theocracy, so painfully felt by Israel and partly brought about by it, that gave the deep-thoughted seer an insight into the profound inwardness of the divine will such as scarcely any one else had. His prophecies are just as much distinguished by such inwardness as his minatory discourses condemn to destruction the outward form of the theocracy. The outward covenant-sign of circumcision does not ensure God's goodwill to the Israelite (iv. 4, vi . 10, ix. 26), unless an inward circumcision (of the ears) is present . The outward temple, built of stone, is no pledge of divine protection, as many have falsely dreamt since Isaiah's days; on the contrary, this temple, perverted into an asylum and biding-place of presumptuous sin, calls forth God's judgment. See the temple discourse, ch. vii. ff., especially vii. 4,10 ff., xi. 15, xvii. 3, xxvi. 6, 9, 12, xxvii. 16. In the same way confidence, based on outward sacrificial worship, is vain; the Lord can take no delight in such ceremonial matters, vi. 20, vii. 21 ff., xi. 15, xiv. 12. Not that the prophet regarded the sacrificial ritual as in itself displeasing to God (see, on the contrary, the enforcing of the Sabbath - commandment, xvii. 21 ff., 26, xxxiii. 18, and cf. vi. 20 and vii. 22 f.), but without a corresponding spirit the ritual observance has no sort of value. Nor does the divine Torah and legal erudition, on which many greatly prided themselves, impart divine illumination; for the Torah is often falsified by those who profess to know it (viii. 8), even as ostensibly prophetic teaching often falsely bears this name. Thus the goal of Jeremiah's prophecy is a thoroughly inward and genuine union between God and the nation. Then even the ancient ark of the covenant, hitherto the outward medium and symbol of God's spiritual presence, will be wanting (iii. 16); but the law of the Lord will no longer be an outward one, written on tables of stone and standing over against the nation, but will be written in its heart (xxxi. 31 ff., cf. xxxii. 40). Thus the Lord will not abolish the covenant once made with Israel and David, but will give it a far more glorious form, xxxiii. 20-26. But the Messianic glory is painted here in much less detail than in Isaiah or Ezekiel; only certain keynotes are struck, like "the Lord our Righteousness " (xxiii . 6, xxxiii. 16), or the mysterious saying (xxxi. 22); but these leading chords are capable of an inexhaustibly rich development.
V. FORM OF JEREMIAH'S PROPHECY.
As concerns the form of these prophecies, visions in the strict sense occur, even symbolical ones, i. 11, 13, xxiv. 1 f.; again symbolical actions especially, xiii . 1 ff., xix. 1 ff., xxvii. 2 ff., xxviii. 10 ff., 12 ff., xliii. 8 ff., li . 63 f.; in xviii. 2 ff., the spectacle of the potter and his work serves as a symbolical phenomenon; the object is by this means to impress a certain truth, not merely on the seer, but especially on the hearers. Jeremiah is fond of uniting figure and word-play, cf. i. 11 f., xix. 1, 7; in the same way a symbolical maxim, appealing to reflection, is prefixed (xxii. 12, xxxi. 22). He presents a living example in order to inspire shame in xxxv. 1 ff. All these figures, however, are simple, unadorned; just so the symbolical actions are plain, almost sordid. Jeremiah's chief strength clearly lies in speech; his words are certainly