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heart, and upon the horns of your altars; whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills. O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders. And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage
"Pliny tells us (Hist. Nat. XXXVII. 15) that the ancients were well acquainted with its cutting powers, and used to set it in iron, as is now done for the use of glaziers." Sp. Comm. Gesenius is disposed to connect the Hebrew with a Greek word, meaning emery powder (for polishing). This however is very doubtful, in spite of a similarity in sound which exists between the two.
thetableof their heart] their inward nature. Compare Prov. iii. 3,vii. 3.
horns] probably metal projections from the corners (Exod. xxvii. 2).
altars] either, (a) the two altars (of burnt-offering and of incense respectively) employed in the Temple worship, or, (b) which is more probable from the context, altars set up to the Baals throughout Jerusalem and Judah.
2. Whilst their children remember..] In the Heb. it is not quite clear whether the word 'children' is the subject or object of the verb 'remember.' With the former, which seems the somewhat preferable rendering, the meaning will be (i) their children's minds will be profoundly impressed by the horrors that they are called on to witness, or, more generally, (ii) the children will be so well taught in idolatry by their parents that the tendency towards it will on the very smallest provocation rise up in the mind. With the latter rendering the sense will be, As they remember their children, so they remember their altars, etc., i.e. (i) their love for their idolatry will be as great as that which they feel as parents for their children, or (ii) the thought of the one is inseparably connected with that of the other on account of their sacrifice of human victims to their idols.
groves] As'ierim: not groves (for see 1 Kings xiv. 23; 2 Kings xvii. 10), but wooden pillars or monuments set up in honour of Ashtoreth (Astarte).
by the green trees] literally, upon each green tree. The preposition is difficult to explain. It may be an early error of a copyist in the Heb. At any rate the sense seems to be that given in the Eng. Vers.
3. O my mountain in the field] This is generally acknowledged to mean Jerusalem or Zion. Some would make it the accusative, governed by 'give,' 'thy' referring then to the people, while 'substance' and 'treasures' will be in apposition with 'mountain.' Jerusalem is called the mountain in the field, not because the height on which it is built is not surrounded by still loftier mountains, but because of its position as the head and centre of the nation. 'My mountain' will in any case suggest the whole country. This is shewn by the concluding words of the verse.
for sin] because ^(thy) sin. So in chap. xv. 13, which almost coincides in expression with this verse.
4. even thyself] The original probably means, through thine mmtfault.
that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.
5—8. Faith in man leads to destruction, faith in God to security.
Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in 5 man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the 6 desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited Blessed is the man that trusteth in the 7 Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a 8
discontinue] There seems a reference to such passages as Exod. xxiii. 11, where the same verb is used of the rest given to the land every seventh year, and Deut. xv. 2, where the reference is to the setting free of creditors in the seventh year. Judah, having disregarded the sabbatical rest in times past, will be forced to recognise it now by being carried away from her land into captivity. See 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21.
For notes on the rest of the verse see chap. xv. 14, which closely resembles it.
5—8. Faith In Man Leads To Destruction, Faith In God To Security.
5—8. The antithesis in these verses is sharply defined, the two courses of human conduct making the men who practise them respectively to fade and to flourish.
6. Cursed be the man...] This is supposed to have direct reference to Jehoiakim, who revolted from Nebuchadnezzar and looked for aid from Egypt (2 Kings xxiv. 1).
his arm] that on which he depends in order to attain his wants.
6. the heath] rather the destitute man. A similar word is tendered heath in chap. xlviii. 6, where the same correction should accordingly be made. The only other occurrence of this word is Ps. cii. 17, where the sense is not doubtful. Here it is probable that the rendering of the word by the name of a plant (a rendering which has found favour from very early times) arose from the supposed necessity of making it harmonize closely y/ith verse 8, especially as the Arabic word for juniper is of similar sound. Two species only of heath grow in Palestine, the one (Erica vagans) on the coast plains (but not in large quantities), the other (Erica orientalis).on Lebanon. Therefore in any case the Eng. Vers. is inaccurate.
shall not see when good cometh] shall have no experience of good fortune.
8. he shall be as a tree] The image of Ps. i. 3 is here more elaborately developed.
tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit
9—i I. All wicked devices God will detect and punish.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, / try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. As the partridge sitteth an eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.
shall not see] shall not fear. Both readings, differing only by a letter, occur in the Hebrew. That adopted by our Version is probably the later one, and arises from a desire to make it answer still more closely to ver. 6.
9—11. All Wicked Devices God Will Detect And Punish.
9. When prosperity and adversity are thus meted out respectively to the two great classes of mankind, the God-fearing and the wicked, how is it that all do not for the sake of their own interests pass from the latter to the former? It is because of the innate depravity of the human heart.
desperately wicked] desperately sick. The same word is translated incurable in chap. xv. 18, xxx. li.
10. / the Lord search the heart, I try the reins] Compare xi. 20 and xx. 12.
11. As the partridge...] As the partridge pileth up eggs which she laid not. This is probably the closer rendering. The Heb. rendered in the Eng. Vers, sitteth on occurs only once elsewhere (Is. xxxiv. 15) "of a snake (A. V. great owl) gathering her young to keep them warm, but the root is found frequently in the Chaldee in the sense of laying in a heap, with especial reference to birds." Sp. Comm. We need not take the statement to indicate more than a popular belief of that day, of which the prophet availed himself by way of an illustration. A less probable explanation of the sense of the passage is that which makes the illustration to consist in this, viz. that the partridge calls the young of other birds under her wings, but that they forsake her when they hear the cry of the true parent. In any case the application is plain. Riches unlawfully gotten are as precarious and shortlived a possession as the young that have not been hatched by the bird that would pass for their parent.
shall leave them in the midst of his days] Here again some have seen an allusion to the fate of Jehoiakim, who died at the age of thirty-six years. But the doubt on the part of the prophet expressed in ver. 15 as
12—18. Throughout all the Prophet looks to God as the Saviour of those who prove faithful.
A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of 12 our sanctuary. O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake 13 thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall he written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters. Heal me, O Lord, I4 and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise. Behold, they say unto me, Where is 15 the word of the Lord? let it come now. As for me, I have 16 not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither
to the fulfilment of Jeremiah's words, makes it unlikely that so remarkable a proof of his truth-speaking had been already afforded.
12—18. Throughout All The Prophet Looks To God As The Saviour Of Those Who Prove Faithful.
12. 13. These verses are probably to be taken as one sentence, the whole of ver. 12 being in form an invocation of the temple as the scene of God's visible glory, but in reality an address to Himself. A throne of glory, exalted from the beginning, the place of our sanctuary, hope of Israel, the Lord, all that forsake thee, etc. Such an address to the temple is by no means in conflict with,chap. vii. 4, where idolaters are warned that their feeling of security in being the possessors of the House of God is ill-founded. Here the temple is spoken of in its relation to true believers, whose joy in it rested on their faith in Him who was revealed through the glory that abode on the mercy-seat.
13. shall be written in the earth] shall disappear, like writing on any soft substance. The simile would naturally suggest itself to the prophet. "From the scarcity of writing materials a board covered with sand is used to this day in schools for giving lessons in writing; and the Arabs have a method of fortune-telling, the invention of which is ascribed by them to the patriarch Enoch...effected by certain signs drawn upon sand." Sp. Comm.
the fountain] See chap. ii. 13 with note, also ix. 1.
14. Jeremiah prays that God's character for faithfulness may be vindicated in his own case.
15. This verse shews that the time is before the capture of Jerusalem at the end of Jehoiakim's reign. If that event had occurred, the people would not, as here, challenge the prophet to point out a fulfilment of his prophecies of woe.
now] not denoting time, but in the sense of / pray tkee.
16. pastor] This word is generally applied elsewhere to kings or other rulers (see chap. ii. 8, with note). There is no real difficulty however in understanding it here of Jeremiah (and similarly of others in xxii. 22) in his capacity of leader, authoritatively guiding the thoughts and acts of the people. Compare "shepherd" in Eccles. xii. 11.
to follow thee] after thee. The sense, which is obscured in the Eng.
have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which
17 came out of my lips was right before thee. Be not a terror
18 unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil. Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.
19—2 7. Conformity to the Law will yet ensure prosperity.
'* Thus said the Lord unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah
Vers., is closely connected with the succeeding clause. Jeremiah had neither sought to resign the office of being as it were an assistantshepherd, directing the steps of the people in the path which God had marked out for them, nor were his forecasts of sorrow to be understood as meaning that he hoped for that which he thus predicted.
the woeful day] the overthrow of Jerusalem. The word here rendered 'woeful' is the same as the "desperately wicked" of ver. 9, where see note.
thou knowest] He appeals to God to confirm his protest.
was right] was. The insertion of the word right is misleading. What Jeremiah really says is that his words were not his own, but were all spoken as in God's sight and in compliance with His will.
17. terror] a cause of dismay. See chap. i. 17, with note. The same word (dismayed) occurs twice in the succeeding verse.
thou art my hope] in accordance with the promise of chap. xv. 11.
18. destroy them with double destruction] break them with a double breaking. This may mean a literally twofold punishment, the one part for their apostacy as a nation, the other for their treatment of Jeremiah. It seems more likely however that double is merely equivalent to utter, complete.
19—27. Conformity To The Law Will Yet Ensure
It is a question whether this prophecy be a continuation of the preceding, or a short separate prophecy placed here but having no immediate connexion with any other. On the whole it has the air of being the latter, whether we consider the mode of its introduction, its subjectmatter, or its general tone. The depravity of the people does not seem of such long standing or so hopeless as in the former prophecies. The similar language in chap. xxii. r—5 gives some probability to the belief that the two were composed about the same time.
19. the children of the people] This expression may mean either the common people as opposed to the rich (so in chap. xxvi. 23 and 2 Kings xxiii. 6) or the laity as distinct from the priests (so in 2 Chron. xxxv. 5,