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Jeremiah 18 thru 22
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The Potter and the Clay

Jeremiah 18:1     The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4 The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.

     5 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 6 Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7 At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. 9 And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. 11 Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.

Israel’s Stubborn Idolatry

     12 But they say, “It is no use! We will follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will.”

13     Therefore thus says the Lord:
Ask among the nations:
Who has heard the like of this?
The virgin Israel has done
a most horrible thing.
14     Does the snow of Lebanon leave
the crags of Sirion?
Do the mountain waters run dry,
the cold flowing streams?
15     But my people have forgotten me,
they burn offerings to a delusion;
they have stumbled in their ways,
in the ancient roads,
and have gone into bypaths,
not the highway,
16     making their land a horror,
a thing to be hissed at forever.
All who pass by it are horrified
and shake their heads.
17     Like the wind from the east,
I will scatter them before the enemy.
I will show them my back, not my face,
in the day of their calamity.

A Plot against Jeremiah

     18 Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah—for instruction shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us bring charges against him, and let us not heed any of his words.”

19     Give heed to me, O Lord,
and listen to what my adversaries say!
20     Is evil a recompense for good?
Yet they have dug a pit for my life.
Remember how I stood before you
to speak good for them,
to turn away your wrath from them.
21     Therefore give their children over to famine;
hurl them out to the power of the sword,
let their wives become childless and widowed.
May their men meet death by pestilence,
their youths be slain by the sword in battle.
22     May a cry be heard from their houses,
when you bring the marauder suddenly upon them!
For they have dug a pit to catch me,
and laid snares for my feet.
23     Yet you, O Lord, know
all their plotting to kill me.
Do not forgive their iniquity,
do not blot out their sin from your sight.
Let them be tripped up before you;
deal with them while you are angry.

The Broken Earthenware Jug

Jeremiah 19:1     Thus said the Lord: Go and buy a potter’s earthenware jug. Take with you some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests, 2 and go out to the valley of the son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you. 3 You shall say: Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to bring such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 4 Because the people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah have known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent, 5 and gone on building the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it enter my mind; 6 therefore the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter. 7 And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth. 8 And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at; everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its disasters. 9 And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and all shall eat the flesh of their neighbors in the siege, and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.

     10 Then you shall break the jug in the sight of those who go with you, 11 and shall say to them: Thus says the Lord of hosts: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, so that it can never be mended. In Topheth they shall bury until there is no more room to bury. 12 Thus will I do to this place, says the Lord, and to its inhabitants, making this city like Topheth. 13 And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled like the place of Topheth—all the houses upon whose roofs offerings have been made to the whole host of heaven, and libations have been poured out to other gods.

     14 When Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, he stood in the court of the Lord’s house and said to all the people: 15 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am now bringing upon this city and upon all its towns all the disaster that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks, refusing to hear my words.

Jeremiah Persecuted by Pashhur

Jeremiah 20:1     Now the priest Pashhur son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. 2 Then Pashhur struck the prophet Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the Lord. 3 The next Morning when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, The Lord has named you not Pashhur but “Terror-all-around.” 4 For thus says the Lord: I am making you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon; he shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall kill them with the sword. 5 I will give all the wealth of this city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them, and seize them, and carry them to Babylon. 6 And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house, shall go into captivity, and to Babylon you shall go; there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.

Jeremiah Denounces His Persecutors

7     O Lord, you have enticed me,
and I was enticed;
you have overpowered me,
and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8     For whenever I speak, I must cry out,
I must shout, “Violence and destruction!”
For the word of the Lord has become for me
a reproach and derision all day long.
9     If I say, “I will not mention him,
or speak any more in his name,”
then within me there is something like a burning fire
shut up in my bones;
I am weary with holding it in,
and I cannot.
10     For I hear many whispering:
“Terror is all around!
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
All my close friends
are watching for me to stumble.
“Perhaps he can be enticed,
and we can prevail against him,
and take our revenge on him.”
11     But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble,
and they will not prevail.
They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
will never be forgotten.
12     O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous,
you see the heart and the mind;
let me see your retribution upon them,
for to you I have committed my cause.

13     Sing to the Lord;
praise the Lord!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
from the hands of evildoers.

14     Cursed be the day
on which I was born!
The day when my mother bore me,
let it not be blessed!
15     Cursed be the man
who brought the news to my father, saying,
“A child is born to you, a son,”
making him very glad.
16     Let that man be like the cities
that the Lord overthrew without pity;
let him hear a cry in the Morning
and an alarm at noon,
17     because he did not kill me in the womb;
so my mother would have been my grave,
and her womb forever great.
18     Why did I come forth from the womb
to see toil and sorrow,
and spend my days in shame?

Jerusalem Will Fall to Nebuchadrezzar

Jeremiah 21:1     This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malchiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, saying, 2 “Please inquire of the Lord on our behalf, for King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon is making war against us; perhaps the Lord will perform a wonderful deed for us, as he has often done, and will make him withdraw from us.”

     3 Then Jeremiah said to them: 4 Thus you shall say to Zedekiah: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I am going to turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands and with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the walls; and I will bring them together into the center of this city. 5 I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and mighty arm, in anger, in fury, and in great wrath. 6 And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both human beings and animals; they shall die of a great pestilence. 7 Afterward, says the Lord, I will give King Zedekiah of Judah, and his servants, and the people in this city—those who survive the pestilence, sword, and famine—into the hands of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, into the hands of their enemies, into the hands of those who seek their lives. He shall strike them down with the edge of the sword; he shall not pity them, or spare them, or have compassion.

     8 And to this people you shall say: Thus says the Lord: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 Those who stay in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but those who go out and surrender to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have their lives as a prize of war. 10 For I have set my face against this city for evil and not for good, says the Lord: it shall be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

Message to the House of David

     11 To the house of the king of Judah say:

Hear the word of the Lord,
12 O house of David! Thus says the Lord:
Execute justice in the Morning,
and deliver from the hand of the oppressor
anyone who has been robbed,
or else my wrath will go forth like fire,
and burn, with no one to quench it,
because of your evil doings.

13     See, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley,
O rock of the plain,
says the Lord;
you who say, “Who can come down against us,
or who can enter our places of refuge?”
14     I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings,
says the Lord;
I will kindle a fire in its forest,
and it shall devour all that is around it.

Exhortation to Repent

Jeremiah 22:1     Thus says the Lord: Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word, 2 and say: Hear the word of the Lord, O King of Judah sitting on the throne of David—you, and your servants, and your people who enter these gates. 3 Thus says the Lord: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you will indeed obey this word, then through the gates of this house shall enter kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their servants, and their people. 5 But if you will not heed these words, I swear by myself, says the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation. 6 For thus says the Lord concerning the house of the king of Judah:

You are like Gilead to me,
like the summit of Lebanon;
but I swear that I will make you a desert,
an uninhabited city.
7     I will prepare destroyers against you,
all with their weapons;
they shall cut down your choicest cedars
and cast them into the fire.

     8 And many nations will pass by this city, and all of them will say one to another, “Why has the Lord dealt in this way with that great city?” 9 And they will answer, “Because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshiped other gods and served them.”

10     Do not weep for him who is dead,
nor bemoan him;
weep rather for him who goes away,
for he shall return no more
to see his native land.

Message to the Sons of Josiah

     11 For thus says the Lord concerning Shallum son of King Josiah of Judah, who succeeded his father Josiah, and who went away from this place: He shall return here no more, 12 but in the place where they have carried him captive he shall die, and he shall never see this land again.

13     Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness,
and his upper rooms by injustice;
who makes his neighbors work for nothing,
and does not give them their wages;
14     who says, “I will build myself a spacious house
with large upper rooms,”
and who cuts out windows for it,
paneling it with cedar,
and painting it with vermilion.
15     Are you a king
because you compete in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink
and do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
16     He judged the cause of the poor and needy;
then it was well.
Is not this to know me?
says the Lord.
17     But your eyes and heart
are only on your dishonest gain,
for shedding innocent blood,
and for practicing oppression and violence.
18 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah:
They shall not lament for him, saying,
“Alas, my brother!” or “Alas, sister!”
They shall not lament for him, saying,
“Alas, lord!” or “Alas, his majesty!”
19     With the burial of a donkey he shall be buried—
dragged off and thrown out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.

20     Go up to Lebanon, and cry out,
and lift up your voice in Bashan;
cry out from Abarim,
for all your lovers are crushed.
21     I spoke to you in your prosperity,
but you said, “I will not listen.”
This has been your way from your youth,
for you have not obeyed my voice.
22     The wind shall shepherd all your shepherds,
and your lovers shall go into captivity;
then you will be ashamed and dismayed
because of all your wickedness.
23     O inhabitant of Lebanon,
nested among the cedars,
how you will groan when pangs come upon you,
pain as of a woman in labor!

Judgment on Coniah (Jehoiachin)

     24 As I live, says the Lord, even if King Coniah son of Jehoiakim of Judah were the signet ring on my right hand, even from there I would tear you off 25 and give you into the hands of those who seek your life, into the hands of those of whom you are afraid, even into the hands of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon and into the hands of the Chaldeans. 26 I will hurl you and the mother who bore you into another country, where you were not born, and there you shall die. 27 But they shall not return to the land to which they long to return.

28     Is this man Coniah a despised broken pot,
a vessel no one wants?
Why are he and his offspring hurled out
and cast away in a land that they do not know?
29     O land, land, land,
hear the word of the Lord!
30     Thus says the Lord:
Record this man as childless,
a man who shall not succeed in his days;
for none of his offspring shall succeed
in sitting on the throne of David,
and ruling again in Judah.

The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books [New Revised Standard Version]

Biblical Topics

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Jer. 18. The Emblem of the Clay and the Potter and the Complaint of the Prophet against his Adversaries.—The figure of the potter who remodels a misshapen vessel (vv. 2–4). The interpretation of this (vv. 5–10), and its application to degenerate Israel (vv. 11–17). The reception of the discourse by the people, and Jeremiah’s cry to the Lord (vv. 18–23).

Jer. 18:2–10. The emblem and its interpretation.—V. 2. “Arise and go down into the potter’s house; there will I cause thee to hear my words. V. 3. And I went down into the potter’s house; and, behold, he wrought on the wheels. V. 4. And the vessel was marred, that he wrought in clay, in the hand of the potter; then he made again another vessel of it, as seemed good to the potter to make. V. 5. Then came the word of Jahveh to me, saying: V. 6. Cannot I do with you as this potter, house of Israel? saith Jahveh. Behold, as the clay in the hand of the potter, so are ye in mine hand, house of Israel. V. 7. Now I speak concerning a people and kingdom, to root it out and pluck up and destroy it. V. 8. But if that people turns from its wickedness, against which I spake, the it repents me of the evil which I thought to do it. V. 9. And now I speak concerning a people and a kingdom, to build and to plant it. V. 10. If it do that which is evil in mine eyes, so that it hearkens not unto my voice, then it repents me of the good which I said I would do unto it.”

By God’s command Jeremiah is to go and see the potter’s treatment of the clay, and to receive thereafter God’s interpretation of the same. Here he has set before his eyes that which suggests a comparison of man to the clay and of God to the potter, a comparison that frequently occurred to the Hebrews, and which had been made to appear in the first formation of man (cf. Job 10:9; 33:6, Isa. 29:16; 45:9; 64:7). This is done that he may forcibly represent to the people, by means of the emblem, the power of the Lord to do according to His will with all nations, and so with Israel too. From the “go down,” we gather that the potteries of Jerusalem lay in a valley near the city. הָאָבְנַיִם are the round frames by means of which the potter moulded his vessels. This sig. of the word is well approved here; but in Ex. 1:16, where too it is found, the meaning is doubtful, and it is a question whether the derivation is from אֶבֶן or from אֹופָן, wheel. The perfecta consec. וְנִשְׁחַת and וְשָׁב designate, taken in connection with the participle עֹשֶׂה, actions that were possibly repeated: “and if the vessel was spoilt, he made it over again;” cf. Ew. § 342, b. עֹשֶׂה בַּחֹמֶר, working in clay, of the material in which men work in order to make something of it; cf. Ex. 31:4.

Jer. 18:6–10. In vv. 6–10 the Lord discloses to the prophet the truth lying in the potter’s treatment of the clay. The power the potter has over the clay to remould, according to his pleasure, the vessel he had formed from it if it went wrong; the same power God possesses over the people of Israel. This unlimited power of God over mankind is exercised according to man’s conduct, not according to a decretum absolutum or unchangeable determination. If he pronounces a people’s overthrow or ruin, and if that people turn from its wickedness, He repeals His decree (v. 7f.); and conversely, if He promises a people welfare and prosperity, and if that people turn away from Him to wickedness, then too He changes His resolve to do good to it (v. 9f.). Inasmuch as He is even now making His decree known by the mouth of the prophet, it follows that the accomplishment of Jeremiah’s last utterances is conditioned by the impression God’s word makes on men. רֶגַע, adv., in the moment, forthwith, and when repeated = now … now, now … again. Näg. maintains that the arrangement here is paratactic, so that the רֶגַע does not belong to the nearest verb, but to the main idea, i.e., to the apodosis in this case. The remark is just; but the word does not mean suddenly, but immediately, and the sense is: when I have spoken against a people, and this people repents, then immediately I let it repent me. נִחַם עַל as in Joel 2:13, etc. With “to pluck up,” etc., “to build,” etc., cf. 1:10. “Against which I spake,” v. 8, belongs to “that people,” and seems as if it might be dispensed with; but is not therefore spurious because the LXX have omitted it. For הָרָעָה the Keri has הָרַע, the most usual form, v. 7:30, Num. 32:13, Judg. 2:11, etc.; but the Chet. is called for by the following הַטֹּובָה and מֵרָעָתֹו. לְהֵיטִיב הַטֹּובָה, to show kindness, cf. Num. 10:32.

The emblematical interpretation of the potter with the clay lays a foundation for the prophecy that follows, vv. 11–17, in which the people are told that it is only by reason of their stiffnecked persistency in wickedness that they render threatened judgment certain, whereas by return to their God they might prevent the ruin of the kingdom.

Jer. 18:11–17. Application of the emblem to Judah.—V. 11. “And now speak to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying: Thus hath Jahveh said: Behold, I frame against you evil and devise against you a device. Return ye, now, each from his evil way, and better your ways and your doings. V. 12. But they say: There is no use! For our imaginations will we follow, and each do the stubbornness of his evil heart. V. 13. Therefore thus hath Jahveh said: Ask now among the heathen! who hath heard the like? A very horrible thing hath the virgin of Israel done! V. 14. Does the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock of the field? or do strange, cold trickling waters dry up? V. 15. For my people hath forgotten me; to the vanity they offer odours; they have made them to stumble upon their ways, the everlasting paths, to walk in by-paths, a way not cast up. V. 16. To make their land a dismay, a perpetual hissing, every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and shake his head. V. 17. Like the east wind I will scatter them before the enemy; with the back and not with the face will I look upon them in the day of their ruin.”

Jer. 18:11, 12. In vv. 11 and 12 what was said at v. 6ff. is applied to Judah. יָצַר, from in sense of prepare (cf. Isa. 22:11; 37:26), is chosen with special reference to the potter (יֹוצֵר). מַחֲשָׁבָה, the thought, design, here in virtue of the parallelism: evil plot, as often both with and without רָעָה; cf. Esth. 8:3, 5; 9:25, Ezek. 38:10. The call to repentance runs much as do 35:15 and 7:3.—But this call the people reject disdainfully, replying that they are resolved to abide by their evil courses. וְאָמְרוּ, not: they said, but: they say; the perf. consec. of the action repeating itself at the present time; cf. Ew. 342, b. 1. נֹואָשׁ as in 2:25; on “stubbornness of their evil heart,” cf. 3:17. By this answer the prophet makes them condemn themselves out of their own mouth; cf. Isa. 28:15; 30:10f.

Jer. 18:13. Such obduracy is unheard of amongst the peoples; cf. a like idea in 2:10f. שַׁעֲרֻרִת = שַׁעֲרוּרָה, 5:30. מְאֹד belongs to the verb: horrible things hath Israel very much done = very horrible things have they done. The idea is strengthened by Israel’s being designated a virgin (see on 14:17). One could hardly believe that a virgin could be guilty of such barefaced and determined wickedness. In v. 14f. the public conduct is further described; and first, it is illustrated by a picture drawn from natural history, designed to fill the people with shame for their unnatural conduct. But the significance of the picture is disputed. The questions have a negative force: does it forsake? = it does not forsake. The force of the first question is conditioned by the view taken of מִצּוּר שָׂדַי; and שָׂדַי may be either genitive to צוּר, or it may be the accusative of the object, and be either a poetic form for שָׂדֶה, or plural c. suff. 1. pers. (my fields). Chr. B. Mich., Schur., Ros., Maur., Neum. translate according to the latter view: Does the snow of Lebanon descending from the rock forsake my fields? i.e., does it ever cease, flowing down from the rock, to water my fields, the fields of my people? To this view, however, it is to be opposed, a. that “from the rock” thus appears superfluous, at least not in its proper place, since, according to the sense given, it would belong to “snow of Lebanon;” b. that the figure contains no real illustrative truth. The watering of the fields of God’s people, i.e., of Palestine or Judah, by the snow of Lebanon could be brought about only by the water from the melting snow of Lebanon soaking into the ground, and so feeding the springs of the country. But this view of the supply for the springs that watered the land cannot be supposed to be a fact of natural history so well known that the prophet could found an argument on it. Most recent commentators therefore join מִצּוּר שָׂדַי, and translate: does the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock of the field (does it disappear)? The use of עָזַב with מִן is unexampled, but is analogous to עָזַב חֶסֶד מֵעִם, Gen. 24:27, where, however, עָזַב is used transitively.

But even when translated as above, “rock of the field” is variously understood. Hitz. will have it to be Mount Zion, which in 17:3 is called my mountain in the field, and 21:13, rock of the plain; and says the trickling waters are the waters of Gihon, these being the only never-drying water of Jerusalem, the origin of which has never been known, and may have been commonly held to be from the snow of Lebanon. Graf and Näg., again, have justly objected that the connection between the snow of Lebanon and the water-springs of Zion is of too doubtful a kind, and does not become probable by appeal to Ps. 133:3, where the dew of Hermon is said to descend on the mountains of Zion. For it is perfectly possible that a heavy dew after warm days might be carried to Jerusalem by means of the cool current of air coming down from the north over Hermon (cf. Del. on Ps. 133:3); but not that the water of the springs of Jerusalem should have come from Lebanon. Like Ew., Umbr., Graf, and Näg., we therefore understand the rock of the field to be Lebanon itself. But it is not so called as being a detached, commanding rocky mountain, for this is not involved in the sig. of שָׂדַי (see on 17:3); nor as bulwark of the field (Näg.), for צוּר does not mean bulwark, and the change of מִצּוּר into מְצֹור, from מָצֹור, a hemming in, siege, would give a most unsuitable figure. We hold the “field” to be the land of Israel, whence seen, the summit of Lebanon, and especially the peak of Hermon covered with eternal snows might very well be called the rock of the field. Observe the omission of the article before Lebanon, whereby it comes about that the name is joined appellatively to “snow:” the Lebanon-snow. And accordingly we regard the waters as those which trickle down from Hermon. The wealth of springs in Lebanon is well known, and the trickling water of Lebanon is used as an illustration in Cant. 4:15. יִנָּתְשׁוּ, are rooted up, strikes us as singular, since “root up” seems suitable neither for the drying up of springs, nor for: to be checked in their course. Dav. Kimchi thought, therefore, it stood for יִנָּטְשׁוּ, omittuntur; but this word has not this signification. Probably a transposition has taken place, so that we have ינתשׁו for יִנָּשְׁתוּ, since for נָשַׁת in Niph. the sig. dry up is certified by Isa. 19:5. The predicate, too, זָרִים is singular. Strange waters are in 2 Kings 19:24 waters belonging to others; but this will not do here. So Ew. derives זָר from זָרַר, press, urge, and correspondingly, קָרִים from קוּר, spring, well up: waters pouring forth with fierce pressure. In this case, however, the following נֹוזְלִים would be superfluous, or at least feeble. Then, מַיִם קָרִים, Prov. 25:25, is cold water; and besides, זָרַר means constinxit, compressit, of which root-meaning the sig. to press forth is a contradiction. There is therefore nothing for it but to keep to the sig. strange for זָרִים; strange waters = waters coming from afar, whose springs are not known, so that they could be stopped up. The predicate cold is quite in keeping, for cold waters do not readily dry up, the coldness being a protection against evaporation. Such, then, will be the meaning of the verse: As the Lebanon-snow does not forsake the rock, so the waters trickling thence do not dry up. From the application of this general idea, that in inanimate nature faithfulness and constancy are found, to Israel’s bearing towards God arises a deeper significance, which shows why this figure was chosen. The rock in the field points to the Rock of Israel as the everlasting rock, rock of ages (Isa. 30:29 and 26:4), and the cold, i.e., refreshing waters, which trickle from the rock of the field, point to Jahveh, the fountain of living water, 2:13 and 17:13. Although the snow does not forsake Lebanon, Israel has forgotten the fountain of living water from which water of life flows to it; cf. 2:13.

Jer. 18:15. The application at v. 15 is introduced by a causal כִּי. Ew. wrongly translates: that my people forgot me. כִּי means for; and the causal import is founded on the main idea of v. 13: A very horrible thing hath Israel done; for it hath done that which is unheard of in the natural world, it hath forsaken me, the rock of safety; cf. 2:32. They burn odours, i.e., kindle sacrifices, to the vanity, i.e., the null gods, cf. Ps. 31:7, i.e., to Baal, 7:9; 11:13, 17. The subject to יַכְשִׁלוּם may be most simply supplied from the idea of “the vanity:” the null gods made them to stumble; cf. for this idea 2 Chron. 28:23. This seems more natural than to leave the subject indefinite, in which case the false prophets (cf. 23:27) or the priests, or other seducers, would be the moving spirits. “The ancient paths” is apposition to “their ways:” upon their ways, the paths of the old time, i.e., not, however, the good old believing times, from whose ways the Israelites have but recently diverged. For עֹולָם never denotes the time not very long passed away, but always old, immemorial time, here specially the time of the patriarchs, who walked on the right paths of faithfulness to God, as in 6:16. Hitz. and Graf have taken “the ancient paths” as subject: the old paths have made the Israelites to stumble on their ways, which gives a most unnatural idea, while the “paths of the earliest time” is weakened into “the example of their ancestors;” and besides, the parallelism is destroyed. As “by-paths” is defined by the apposition “a way not cast up,” so is “on their ways” by “the ancient paths.” The Chet. שְׁבוּלֵי is found only here; the Keri is formed after Ps. 77:20. A way not cast up is one on which one cannot advance, reach the goal, or on which one suffers hurt and perishes.—In v. 16 the consequences of these doings are spoken of as having been wrought out by themselves, in order thus to bring out the God-ordained causal nexus between actions and their consequences. To make their land an object of horror to all that set foot on it. שְׁרוּקֹות occurs only here, while the Keri שְׁרִיקֹות is found only in Judg. 5:16 for the piping of shepherds, from שָׁרַק, to hiss, to pipe. In connection with שַׁמָּה as expression of horror or amazement, Jeremiah elsewhere uses only שְׁרֵקָה, cf. 19:8; 25:9, 18; 29:18; 51:37, so that here the vowelling should perhaps be שְׁרוּקַת. The word does not here denote the hissing = hissing down or against one, by way of contempt, but the sound midway between hissing and whistling which escapes one when one looks on something appalling. On “every one that passeth by shall be dismayed,” cf. 1 Kings 9:8. הֵנִיעַ בְּרֹאשֹׁו only here = הֵנִיעַ רֹאשׁ, to move the head to and fro, shake the head; a gesture of malicious amazement, cf. Ps. 22:8; 109:25, like מְנֹוד רֹאשׁ, Ps. 44:15.—In v. 17 the Lord discloses the coming punishment. Like an east wind, i.e., a violent storm-wind (cf. Ps. 48:8), will I scatter them, cf. 13:24. Because they have turned to Him the back and not the face (cf. 2:27), so will He turn His back on them in the day of their ruin, cf. Ezek. 35:5.

Jer. 18:18–23. Enmity displayed against the prophet by the people for this discourse, and prayer for protection from his enemies.—V. 18. “Then said they: Come and let us plot schemes against Jeremiah; for law shall not be lost to the priest, and counsel to the wise, and speech to the prophet. Come and let us smite him with the tongue and not give heed to all his speeches. V. 19. Give heed to me, Jahveh, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me! V. 20. Shall evil be repaid for good, that they dig a pit for my soul? Remember how I stood before Thee to speak good for them, to turn away Thy wrath from them! V. 21. Therefore give their sons to the famine and deliver them to the sword, that their wives become childless and widows, and their men slaughtered by death, their young men smitten by the sword in battle. V. 22. Let a cry be heard from their houses, when Thou bringest troops upon them suddenly; for they have digged a pit to take me and laid snares for my feet. V. 23. But Thou Jahveh knowest all their counsels against me for death: forgive not their iniquity and blot not out their sin from before Thy face, that they be overthrown before Thee; in the time of Thine anger deal with them.”

Even the solemn words (vv. 15–17) of the prophet were in vain. Instead of examining themselves and reforming their lives, the blinded sinners resolve to put the troublesome preacher of repentance out of the way by means of false charges. The subject of “and they said” is those who had heard the above discourse; not all, of course, but the infatuated leaders of the people who had. They call on the multitude to plot schemes against him, cf. 11:18ff. For they have, as they think, priests, wise men, and prophets to give them instruction out of the law, counsel, and word, i.e., prophecy,—namely, according to their idea, such as advise, teach, and preach otherwise than Jeremiah, who speaks only of repentance and judgment. Recent scholars render תֹּורָה doctrine, which is right etymologically, but not so when judged by the constant usage, which regards the Torah, the law, as containing the substance of all the doctrine needed by man to tell him how to bear himself towards God, or to make his life happy. The Mosaic law is the foundation of all prophetic preaching; and that the speakers mean תֹּורָה in this sense is clear from their claiming the knowledge of the Torah as belonging to the priests; the law was committed to the keeping and administration of the priests. The “counsel” is that needed for the conduct of the state in difficult circumstances, and in Ezek. 7:26 it is attributed to the elders; and “speech” or word is the declarations of the prophets. On that subject, cf. 8:8–10. To smite with the tongue is to ruin by slanders and malicious charges, cf. 9:2, 4, 7, where the tongue is compared to a lying bow and deadly arrow, Ps. 64:4f., 59:8, etc. That they had the prophet’s death in view appears from v. 23; although their further speech: We will not give heed to his words, shows that in the discourse against which they were so enraged, he had said “nothing that, according to their ideas, was directly and immediately punishable with death” (Hitz.); cf. 26:6, 11. Against these schemes Jeremiah cries to God in v. 19 for help and protection. While his adversaries are saying: People should give no heed to his speeches, he prays the Lord to give heed to him and to listen to the sayings of his enemies. “My contenders,” who contend against me, cf. 35:1, Isa. 49:25.—In support of his prayer he says in v. 20: Shall evil be repaid for good? cf. Ps. 35:12. In his discourses he had in view nothing but the good of the people, and he appeals to the prayers he had presented to the Lord to turn away God’s anger from the people, cf. 14:7ff., vv. 19–22. (On “my standing before Thee,” cf. 15:1.) This good they seek to repay with ill, by lying charges to dig a pit for his soul, i.e., for his life, into which pit he may fall; cf. Ps. 57:7, where, however, instead of שׁוּחָה (Jer. 2:6; Prov. 22:14; 23:27), we have שִׁיחָה, as in v. 22, Chet.—He prays the Lord to requite them for this wickedness by bringing on the people that which Jeremiah had sought to avert, by destroying them with famine, sword, and disease. The various kinds of death are, v. 21, distributed rhetorically amongst the different classes of the people. The sons, i.e., children, are to be given up to the famine, the men to the sword, the young men to the sword in war. The suffix on הַגִּרֵם refers to the people, of which the children are mentioned before, the men and women after. On הַגֵּר עַל יְדֵי חֶרֶב, cf. Ezek. 35:5, Ps. 63:11. “Death,” mentioned alongside of sword and famine, is death by disease and pestilence, as in 15:2.

Jer. 18:22. To the terrors of the war and the siege is to be added the cry rising from all the houses into which hostile troops have burst, plundering and massacring. To lay snares, as in Ps. 140:6; 142:4. פַּח is the spring of the bird-catcher.

Jer. 18:23. Comprehensive summing up of the whole prayer. As the Lord knows their design against him for his death, he prays Him not to forgive their sin, but to punish it. The form תֶּמְחִי instead of תֶּמַח (Neh. 13:14) is the Aramaic form for תִּמְחֶה, like תִּזְנִי, 3:6; cf. Ew. § 224, c. The Chet. וְהָיוּ is the regular continuation of the imperative: and let them be cast down before Thee. The Keri וְיִהְיוּ would be: that they may be cast down before Thee. Hitz. wrongly expounds the Chet.: but let them be fallen before Thee (in Thine eyes), i.e., morally degraded sinners; for the question is not here one of moral degradation, but of the punishment of sinners. In the time of Thine anger, i.e., when Thou lettest loose Thy wrath, causest Thy judgments to come down, deal with them, i.e., with their transgressions. On עָשָׂה בְ, cf. Dan. 11:7.

On this prayer of the prophet to God to exterminate his enemies Hitz. remarks: “The various curses which in his bitter indignation he directs against his enemies are at bottom but the expression of the thought: Now may all that befall them which I sought to avert from them.” The Hirschberg Bible takes a deeper grasp of the matter: “It is no prayer of carnal vengeance against those that hated him, vv. 18, 23, Ps. 9:18; 55:16; but as God had commanded him to desist (Jer. 14:11, 12) from the prayers he had frequently made for them, v. 20, and as they themselves could not endure these prayers, v. 18, he leaves them to God’s judgments which he had been already compelled to predict to them, 11:22; 14:12, 16, without any longer resisting with his entreaties, Luke 13:9, 2 Tim. 4:14.” In this observation that clause only is wrong which says Jeremiah merely leaves the wicked to God’s judgments, since he, on the other hand, gives them up thereto, prays God to carry out judgment on them with the utmost severity. In this respect the present passage resembles the so-called cursing psalms (Ps. 35:4–10; 109:6–20; 59:14–16; 69:26–29, etc.); nor can we say with Calvin: hanc vehementiam, quoniam dictata fuit a spiritu sancto, non posse damnari, sed non debere trahi in exemplum, quia hoc singulare fuit in propheta. For the prophet’s prayer is no inspired דְּבַר יהוה, but the wish and utterance of his heart, for the fulfilment of which he cries to God; just as in the psalms cited. On these imprecations, cf. Del. on Ps. 35 and 109; as also the solid investigation of this point by Kurtz: Zur Theologie der Ps. IV. die Fluch- und Rachepsalmen in the Dorpat Ztschr. f. Theol. u. Kirche, vii. (1865), S. 359ff. All these curses are not the outcome and effusions of personal vengeance against enemies, but flow from the pure spring of a zeal, not self-regarding at all, for the glory of God. The enemies are God’s enemies, despisers of His salvation. Their hostility against David and against Jeremiah was rooted in their hostility against God and the kingdom of God. The advancement of the kingdom of God, the fulfilment of the divine scheme of salvation, required the fall of the ungodly who seek the lives of God’s servants. In this way we would seek to defend such words of cursing by appealing to the legal spirit of the Old Testament, and would not oppose them to the words of Christ, Luke 9:55. For Christ tells us why He blamed the Elias-like zeal of His disciples in the words: “The Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” In keeping with this, the peculiar end of Christ’s coming on earth, we find no curses from Him against His enemies and the enemies of the kingdom of God. But just as the word, “I am not come,” etc. (Luke 9:56), does not exclude the truth that the Father hath given all judgment to Him, so, as Kurtz very justly remarks, “from our hearing no word of cursing from the mouth of Christ during His life on earth we cannot infer the absolute inadmissibleness of all such; still less can we infer that Christ’s apostles and disciples could not at all be justified in using any words of cursing.” And the apostles have indeed uttered curses against obdurate enemies: so Peter against Simon the Magian, Acts 8:20; Paul against the high priest Ananias, Acts 23:3, against the Jewish false teachers, Gal. 1:9 and 5:12, and against Alexander the coppersmith, 2 Tim. 4:14. But these cases do not annihilate the distinction between the Old and the New Testaments. Since grace and truth have been revealed in Christ, the Old Testament standpoint of retribution according to the rigour of the law cannot be for us the standard of our bearing even towards the enemies of Christ and His kingdom.

   Commentary on the Old Testament: Jeremiah, Lamentations(Vol. VIII)
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Jer. 19:1–13. The Broken Pitcher.—V. 1. “Thus said Jahveh: Go and buy a potter’s vessel, and take of the elders of the people and of the elders of the priests, V. 2. And go forth into the valley of Benhinnom, which is before the gate Harsuth, and proclaim there the words which I shall speak unto thee, V. 3. And say: Hear the word of Jahveh, ye kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus hath said Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth his ears shall tingle. V. 4. Because they have forsaken me, and disowned this place, and burnt incense in it to other gods whom they knew not, they, and their fathers, and the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents, V. 5. And have built high places for Baal, to burn their sons in the fire as burnt-offerings to Baal, which I have neither commanded nor spoken, nor came it into my heart. V. 6. Therefore, behold, days come, saith Jahve, that this place shall no longer be called Tophet and Valley of Benhinnom, but Valley of Slaughter. V. 7. And I make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hand of them that seek their lives, and give their carcases to be food for the fowls of the heaven and the beast of the earth. V. 8. And make this city a dismay and a scoffing; every one that passeth thereby shall be dismayed and hiss because of all her strokes; V. 9. And make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and each shall eat his neighbour’s flesh in the siege and straitness wherewith their enemies and they that seek after their lives shall straiten them.— V. 10. And break the pitcher before the eyes of the men that go with thee, V. 11. And say to them: Thus hath Jahve of hosts said: Even so will I break this people and this city as one breaketh this potter’s vessel, that it cannot be made whole again; and in Tophet shall they bury them, because there is no room to bury. V. 12. Thus will I do unto this place, saith Jahveh, and its inhabitants, to make this city as Tophet. V. 13. And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall become, as the place Tophet, unclean, all the houses upon whose roofs they have burnt incense to the whole host of heaven and poured out drink-offerings to other gods.”

The purpose for which Jeremiah was to buy the earthen jar is told in v. 10, and the meaning of breaking it in the valley of Benhinnom is shown in vv. 11–13. בַּקְבֻּק, from בָּקַק, to pour out, is a jar with a narrow neck, so called from the sound heard when liquid is poured out of it, although the vessel was used for storing honey, 1 Kings 14:3. The appellation יֹוצֵר חֶרֶשׂ, former of earthen vessels, i.e., potter, is given to denote the jar as one which, on being broken, would shiver into many fragments. Before “of the elders of the people” a verb seems to be awanting, for which cause many supply וְלָקַחְתָּ (according to 41:12; 43:10, etc.), rightly so far as sense is concerned; but we are hardly entitled to assume a lacuna in the text. That assumption is opposed by the וְ before מִזִּקְנֵי; for we cannot straightway presume that this וְ was put in after the verb had dropped out of the text. In that case the whole word would have been restored. We have here rather, as Schnur. saw, a bold constructio praegnans, the verb “buy” being also joined in zeugma with “of the elders:” buy a jar and (take) certain of the elders; cf. similar, only less bold, zeugmatic constr. in Job 4:10; 10:12, Isa. 58:5. “Elders of the priests,” as in 2 Kings 19:2, probably identical with the “princes (שָׂרֵי) of the priests,” 2 Chron. 36:14, are doubtless virtually the same as the “heads (רָאשֵׁי) of the priests,” Neh. 12:7, the priests highest in esteem, not merely for their age, but also in virtue of their rank; just as the “elders of the people” were a permanent representation of the people, consisting of the heads of tribes, houses or septs, and families; cf. 1 Kings 8:1–3, and my Bibl. Archäol. ii. S. 218. Jeremiah was to take elders of the people and of the priesthood, because it was most readily to be expected of them that the word of God to be proclaimed would find a hearing amongst them. As to the valley of Benhinnom, see on 7:31. שַׁעַר הַחַרְסוּת, not Sun-gate (after חֶרֶס, Job 9:7, Judg. 8:13), but Pottery or Sherd-gate, from חָרַס = חָרַשׂ, in rabbin. חַרְסִית, potter’s clay. The Chet. חַרְסוּת is the ancient form, not the modern (Hitz.), for the Keri is adapted to the rabbinical form. The clause, “which is before the Harsuth -gate,” is not meant to describe more particularly the locality, sufficiently well known in Jerusalem, but has reference to the act to be performed there. The name, gate of חַרְסוּת, which nowhere else occurs, points no doubt to the breaking to shivers of the jar. Hence we are rather to translate Sherd-gate than Pottery-gate, the name having probably arisen amongst the people from the broken fragments which lay about this gate. Comm. are not at one as to which of the known city gates is meant. Hitz. and Kimchi are wrong in thinking of a gate of the court of the temple—the southern one. The context demands one of the city gates, two of which led into the Benhinnom valley: the Spring- or Fountain-gate at the south-east corner, and the Dung-gate on the south-west side of Zion; see on Neh. 3:13–15. One of these two must be meant, but which of them it cannot be decided. there Jeremiah is to cry aloud the words which follow, vv. 3–8, and which bear on the kings of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. “Kings” in the plural, as in 13:13, because the matter concerned not the reigning king only, but his successors too, who had been guilty of the sins to be punished.

Jer. 19:3–5. In vv. 3–5 the threatening is summarily set forth. Horrible evil will the Lord bring on this place, i.e., Jerusalem. The ears of every one that hears it will tingle, so utterly stunning will the news of it turn out to be; cf. 2 Kings 21:12 and 1 Sam. 3:11, where we find תְּצִלֶּינָה; cf. Ew. § 197, a. This they have brought on themselves by their dreadful sins. They have forsaken Jahveh, disowned this place; נִכֵּר, prop. find strange, Deut. 32:27, then treat as strange, deny, Job 21:29. In substance: they have not treated Jerusalem as the city of the sanctuary of their God, but, as it mentioned after, they have burnt incense in it to other (strange) gods. The words: they and their fathers, and the kings of Judah, are not the subject to “knew not,” as is “they and their,” etc., in 9:15; 16:13, but to the preceding verb of the principal clause. “And have filled the city with the blood of innocents.” This Grot. and others understand by the blood of the children slain for Moloch; and for this, appeal is made to Ps. 106:37f., where the pouring out of innocent blood is explained to be that of sons and daughters offered to idols. But this passage cannot be the standard for the present one, neither can the statement that here we have to deal with idolatry alone. This latter is petitio principii. If shedding the blood of innocents had been said of offerings to Moloch, then v. 5 must be taken as epexegesis. But in opposition to this we have not only the parallelism of the clauses, but also and especially the circumstance, that not till v. 5 is mention made of altars on which to offer children of Moloch. We therefore understand the filling of Jerusalem with the blood of innocents, according to 7:6, cf. 2:34 and 22:3, 17, of judicial murder or of bloody persecution of the godly; and on two grounds: 1. because alongside of idolatry we always find mentioned as the chief sin the perversion of justice to the shedding of innocent blood (cf. the passages cited), so that this sin would not likely be omitted here, as one cause of the dreadful judgment about to pass on Jerusalem; 2. because our passage recalls the very wording of 2 Kings 21:16, where, after mentioning his idolatry, it is said of Manasseh: Also innocent blood hath he shed, until he made Jerusalem full (מִלֵּא) to the brink. The climax in the enumeration of sins in these verses is accordingly this: 1. The disowning of the holiness of Jerusalem as the abode of the Lord by the public practice of idolatry; 2. the shedding of innocent blood as extremity of injustice and godless judicial practices; 3. as worst of all abominations, the building of altars for burning their own children to Moloch. That the Moloch-sacrifices are mentioned last, as being worst of all, is shown by the three relative clauses: which I have not commanded, etc., which by an impassioned gradation of phrases mark God’s abomination of these horrors. On this subject cf. 7:31 and 32:35.

Jer. 19:6–13. In vv. 6–13 the threatened punishment is given again at large, and that in two strophes or series of ideas, which explain the emblematical act with the pitcher. The first series, vv. 6–9, is introduced by בַּקֹּותִי, which intimates the meaning of the pitcher; and the other, vv. 10–13, is bound up with the breaking of the pitcher. But both series are, v. 6, opened by the mention of the locality of the act. As v. 5 was but an expansion of 7:31, so v. 6 is a literal repetition of 7:32. The valley of Benhinnom, with its places for abominable sacrifices (תֹּפֶת, see on 7:32), shall in the future be called Valley of Slaughter; i.e., at the judgment on Jerusalem it will be the place where the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah will be slain by the enemy. There God will make void (בַּקֹּותִי, playing on בַּקְבֻּק), i.e., bring to nothing; for what is poured out comes to nothing; cf. Isa. 19:3. There they shall fall by the sword in such numbers that their corpses shall be food for the beasts of prey (cf. 7:33), and the city of Jerusalem shall be frightfully ravaged (v. 8, cf. 18:16; 25:9, etc.). מַכֹּתֶהָ (plural form of suffix without Jod; cf. Ew. § 258, a), the wounds she has received.—In v. 9 is added yet another item to complete the awful picture, the terrible famine during the siege, partly taken from the words of Deut. 28:53ff. and Lev. 26:29. That this appalling misery did actually come about during the last siege by the Chaldeans, we learn from Lam. 4:10.—The second series, vv. 10–13, is introduced by the act of breaking the pitcher. This happens before the eyes of the elders who have accompanied Jeremiah thither: to them the explanatory word of the Lord is addressed. As the earthen pitcher, so shall Jerusalem—people and city—be broken to pieces; and that irremediably. This is implied in: as one breaks a potter’s vessel, etc. (הֵרָפֵה for הֵרָפֵא). The next clause: and in Tophet they shall bury, etc., is omitted by the LXX as a repetition from 7:32, and is object to by Ew., Hitz., and Graf, as not being in keeping with its context. Ew. proposes to insert it before “as one breaketh;” but this transposition only obscures the meaning of the clause.

It connects very suitably with the idea of the incurable breaking in sunder. Because the breaking up of Jerusalem and its inhabitants shall be incurable, shall be like the breaking of a pitcher dashed into countless fragments, therefore there will be lack of room in Jerusalem to bury the dead, and the unclean places of Tophet will need to be used for that purpose. With this the further thought of vv. 12 and 13 connects simply and suitably. Thus (as had been said at v. 11) will I do unto this place and its inhabitants, וְלָתֵת, and that to make the city as Tophet, i.e., not “a mass of sherds and rubbish, as Tophet now is” (Graf); for neither was Tophet then a rubbish-heap, nor did it so become by the breaking of the pitcher. But Josiah had turned all the place of Tophet in the valley of Benhinnom into an unclean region (2 Kings 23:10). All Jerusalem shall become an unclean place like Tophet. This is put in so many words in v. 13: The houses of Jerusalem shall become unclean like the place Tophet, namely, all houses on whose roofs idolatry has been practised. The construction of הַטְּמֵאִים causes some difficulty. The position of the word at the end disfavours our connecting it with the subject בָּתֵּי, and so does the article, which does not countenance its being taken as predicate. To get rid of the article, J. D. Mich. and Ew. sought to change the reading into תָּפְתֶּה טְמֵאִים, after Isa. 30:33. But תָּפְתֶּה means a Tophet-like place, not Tophet itself, and so gives no meaning to the purpose. No other course is open than to join the word with “the place Tophet:” like the place Tophet, which is unclean. The plural would then be explained less from the collective force of מָקֹום than from regard to the plural subject. “All the houses” opens a supplementary definition of the subject: as concerning all houses; cf. Ew. § 310, a. On the worship of the stars by sacrifice on the housetops, transplanted by Manasseh to Jerusalem, see the expos. of Zeph. 1:5 and 2 Kings 21:3. וְהַסֵּךְ וגו׳, coinciding literally with 7:18; the inf. absol. being attached to the verb. finit. of the former clause (Ew. § 351, c.).—Thus far the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, which he was to proclaim in the valley of Benhinnom.—The execution of the divine commission is, as being a matter of course, not expressly recounted, but is implied in v. 14 as having taken place.

Jer. 19:14–20:6. The Prophet Jeremiah and the Temple-Warden Pashur.—V. 14f. When Jeremiah, having performed the divine command, returned from Tophet to the city, he went into the court of the house of God and spoke to the people assembled there, v. 15: “Thus hath said Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I bring upon this city, and all its cities, all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they stiffened their necks not to hear my words.” “All the people” is the people present in the court of the temple as distinguished from the men who had accompanied Jeremiah into the valley of Benhinnom (v. 10). מֵבִי, the א having dropped off, as in 39:16, 1 Kings 21:21, 29, 2 Sam. 5:2, and often. “All its cities” are the towns that belonged to Jerusalem, were subject to it (Jer. 34:1); in other words, the cities of Judah, 1:15; 9:10, etc. All the evil that I have pronounced against it, not merely in the valley of Benhinnom (vv. 3–13), but generally up till this time, by the mouth of Jeremiah. If we limit the reference of this view to the prophecy in Tophet, we must assume, with Näg., that Jeremiah repeated the substance of it here; and besides, that prophecy is not in keeping with “all its cities,” inasmuch as it (vv. 3–13) deals with Jerusalem alone. Apparently Jeremiah must have said more than is written in the verse, and described the evil somewhat more closely; so that the new matter spoken by him here consists in the “Behold I bring,” etc., i.e., in his forewarning them of the speedy fulfilment of the threatenings against Jerusalem and Judah, as was the case with the prophecy in the valley of Benhinnom, which also, v. 3, begins with הִנְנִי מֵבִיא. On “they stiffened their necks,” etc., cf. 17:23; 7:26.

   Commentary on the Old Testament: Jeremiah, Lamentations(Vol. VIII)
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Jer. 20:1, 2. When the chief overseer of the temple, Pashur, heard this prophecy, he had the prophet beaten, and put him over-night in the stocks at the upper gate of Benjamin in the temple. Pashur is by the appellation: son of Immer, distinguished from other priests of this name, e.g., Pashur, son of Malchijah, 1 Chron. 9:12. It cannot be determined whether Immer is here the name of the 16th class of priests (1 Chron. 24:14) or of one of the greater priestly clans (Ezra 2:37; Neh. 7:40). Pashur held the office of פָּקִיד נָגִיד, chief overseer in the house of God. נָגִיד is an official name attached to פָּקִיד to explain it. In the latter word lies the idea of overseeing, while the former denotes the official standing or rank of the overseer. The position of נָגִיד was a high one, as may be seen from the fact that the priest Zephaniah, who, according to 29:26, held this post, is quoted in 52:24 (2 Kings 25:18) as next to the high priest. The compound expression without article implies that there were several נְגִידִים of the temple. In 2 Chron. 35:8 there are three mentioned under Josiah; which is not contradicted by 2 Chron. 31:13, 1 Chron. 9:11, Neh. 11:11, where particular persons are called נְגִיד בֵּית ה׳. As chief overseer of the temple, Pashur conceived it to be his duty to take summary magisterial steps against Jeremiah, for his public appearance in the temple. To put this procedure of the priest and temple-warden in its proper light, Jeremiah is designated by the name of his office, הַנָּבִיא. In virtue of the summary authority which belonged to him (cf. 29:26), Pashur smote the prophet, i.e., caused him to be beaten with stripes, perhaps according to the precept Deut. 25:3, cf. 2 Cor. 11:24, and then threw him into prison till the following day, and put him in the stocks. מַהְפֶּכֶת, twisting, was an instrument of torture by which the body was forced into a distorted, unnatural posture; the culprit’s hands and feet were presumably bound, so as to keep the position so; see on 2 Chron. 16:10, cf. with Acts 16:24. The upper gate of Benjamin in the house of Jahveh is the northern gate at the upper, i.e., inner court of the temple, the same with the upper gate or the gate of the inner court, looking northwards, Ezek. 9:2 and 8:3. By the designation “which is in the house,” etc., it is distinguished from the city gate of like name, 37:13; 38:7.—When on the next day Pashur released the prophet from imprisonment, the latter made known to him the divine punishment for his misdeed: “Not Pashur will Jahveh call thy name, but Magor-Missabib” (i.e., Fear round about). The name is expressive of the thing. And so: Jahveh will call the name, is, in other words, He will make the person to be that which the name expresses; in this case, make Pashur to be an object of fear round about.

Under the presumption that the name Magor-Missabib conveyed a meaning the most directly opposed to that of Pashur, comm. have in various ways attempted to interpret פַּשְׁחוּר. It is supposed to be composed of פּוּשׁ, Chald. augeri, and חוּר, nobilitas, with the force: abundantia claritatis (Rashi); or after Arab. fs’, gloriatus est de nobilitate (Simonis); or from Arab. hsḥ, amplus fuit locus, and the Chald. סְחֹור, circumcirca: de securitate circumcirca; or finally, by Ew., from פָּשׁ from פּוּשׁ, spring, leap, rejoice (Mal. 3:20), and חֹור = חֹול, joy round about. All these interpretations are arbitrary. פּוּשׁ sig. leap and gallop about, Mal. 3:20 and Hab. 1:8, and in Niph. Nah. 3:18, to be scattered (see on Hab. 1:8); and פָּשַׁח sig. in Lam. 3:11 to tear. But the syllable חֹור can by no means have the sig. of מִסָּבִיב claimed for it. Nor are there, indeed, sufficient grounds for assuming that Jeremiah turned the original name upside down in an etymological or philological reference. The new name given by Jeremiah to Pashur is meant to intimate the man’s destiny. On “Fear round about,” see on 6:25. What the words of the new name signify is explained in vv. 4–6.

Jer. 20:4–6. V. 4. “For thus hath Jahveh said: Behold, I make thee a terror to thyself and to all thy friends, and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies and thine eyes behold it; and all Judah will I give into the hand of the king of Babylon, that he may carry them captive to Babylon and smite them with the sword. V. 5. And I will give all the stores of this city, and all its gains, and all its splendour, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them and take and bring them to Babylon. V. 6. And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity, and to Babylon shalt thou come, and there die, and there be buried, thou and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lyingly.”—Pashur will become a fear or terror to himself and all his friends, because of his own and his friend’s fate; for he will see his friends fall by the sword of the enemy, and then he himself, with those of his house and his friends not as yet slain, will go forth into exile to Babylon and die there. So that not to himself merely, but to all about him, he will be an object of fear. Näg. wrongly translates נֹתֶנְךָ לְמָגֹור, I deliver thee up to fear, and brings into the text the contrast that Pashur is not to become the victim of death itself, but of perpetual fear of death. Along with Pashur’s friends, all Judah is to be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and be partly exiled to Babylon, partly put to death with the sword. All the goods and gear of Jerusalem, together with the king’s treasures, are to be plundered and carried off by the enemy. We must not press “all thy friends” in vv. 4 and 6; and so we escape the apparent contradiction, that while in v. 4 it is said of all the friends that they shall die by the sword, it is said of all in v. 6 that they shall go into exile. The friends are those who take Pashur’s side, his partisans. From the last clause of v. 6 we see that Pashur was also of the number of the false prophets, who prophesied the verse of Jeremiah’s prediction, namely, welfare and peace (cf. 23:17; 14:13).—This saying of Jeremiah was most probably fulfilled at the taking of Jerusalem under Jechoniah, Pashur and the better part of the people being carried off to Babylon.

Jer. 20:7–18. The Prophet’s Complaints as to the Sufferings Met with in his Calling.—This portion contains, first, a complaint addressed to the Lord regarding the persecutions which the preaching of God’s word draws down on Jeremiah, but the complaint passes into a jubilant cry of hope (vv. 7–13); secondly, a cursing of the day of his birth (vv. 13–18). The first complaint runs thus:

Jer. 20:7–13. “Thou hast persuaded me, Jahveh, and I let myself be persuaded; Thou hast laid hold on me and hast prevailed. I am become a laughter the whole day long, every one mocketh at me. V. 8. For as often as I speak, I must call out and cry violence and spoil, for the word of Jahveh is made a reproach and a derision to me all the day. V. 9. And I said, I will not more remember nor speak more in His name; then was it in my heart as burning fire, shut up in my bones, and I become weary of holding out, and cannot. V. 10. For I heard the talk of many: Fear round about! Report, and let us report him! Every man of my friendship lies in wait for my downfall: Peradventure he will let himself be enticed, that we may prevail against him and take our revenge on him. V. 11. But Jahveh stands by me as a mighty warrior; therefore shall my persecutors stumble and not prevail, shall be greatly put to shame, because they have not dealt wisely, with everlasting disgrace which will not be forgotten. V. 12. And, Jahveh of hosts that trieth the righteous, that seeth reins and heart, let me see Thy vengeance on them, for to Thee have I committed my cause. V. 13. Sing to Jahveh, praise Jahveh, for He saves the soul of the poor from the hand of the evil-doers.”

This lament as to the hatred and persecution brought upon him by the preaching of the word of the Lord, is chiefly called forth by the proceedings, recounted in vv. 1, 2, of the temple-warden Pashur against him. This is clear from the מָגֹור מִסָּבִיב; for, as Näg. truly remarks, the use of this expression against the prophet may certainly be most easily explained by the use he had so pregnantly made of it against one so distinguished as Pashur. Besides, the bitterness of the complaint, rising at last to the extent of cursing the day of his birth (v. 14ff.), is only intelligible as a consequence of such ill-usage as Pashur had already inflicted on him. For although his enemies had schemed against his life, they had never yet ventured positively to lay hands on his person. Pashur first caused him to be beaten, and then had him kept a whole night long in the torture of the stocks. From torture like this his enemies might proceed even to taking his life, if the Lord did not miraculously shield him from their vengeance.—The complaint, vv. 7–13, is an outpouring of the heart to God, a prayer that begins with complaint, passes into confidence in the Lord’s protection, and ends in a triumph of hope. In vv. 7 and 8 Jeremiah complains of the evil consequences of his labours. God has persuaded him to undertake the office of prophet, so that he has yielded to the call of God. The words of v. 7a are not an upbraiding, nor are they given in an upbraiding tone (Hitz.); for פִּתָּה does not mean befool, but persuade, induce by words to do a thing. חָזַק used transitively, but not as 1 Kings 16:22, overpower (Ros., Graf, etc.); for then it would not be in keeping with the following וַתּוּכָל, which after “overpower” would seem very feeble. It means: lay hold of; as usually in the Hiph., so here in Kal. It thus corresponds to חֶזְקַת יָד, Isa. 8:11, denoting the state of being laid hold of by the power of the Spirit of God in order to prophesy. תּוּכַל, not: Thou hast been able, but: Thou hast prevailed, conquered. A sharp contrast to this is presented by the issue of his prophetic labours: I am become a laughing-stock all the day, i.e., incessantly. כֻּלֹּה, its (the people’s) entirety = all the people.—In v. 8 “call” is explained by “cry out violence and spoil:” complain of the violence and spoliation that are practised. The word of Jahveh is become a reproach and obloquy, i.e., the proclamation of it has brought him only contempt and obloquy. The two cases of כִּי are co-ordinate; the two clauses give two reasons for everybody mocking at him. One is objective: so often as he speaks he can do nothing but complain of violence, so that he is ridiculed by the mass of the people; and one is subjective: his preaching brings him only disgrace. Most comm. refer “violence and spoiling” to the ill-usage the prophet experiences; but this does not exhaust the reference of the words.

Jer. 20:9. After such bitter experiences, the thought arose in his soul: I will remember Him (Jahveh) no more, i.e., make no more mention of the Lord, nor speak in His name, labour as a prophet; but it was within him as burning fire. The subject is not expressed, but is, as Ros. and Hitz. rightly say, the word of Jahveh which is held back. “Shut up in my bones” is apposition to “burning fire,” for אֵשׁ occurs elsewhere also as masc., e.g., 48:45, Job 20:26, Ps. 104:4. The word of God dwells in the heart; but from there outwards it acts upon his whole organism, like a fire shut up in the hollow of his bones, burning the marrow of them (Job 21:24), so that he can no longer bear to keep silence. The perfects “and I said,” “and (then) it was,” “and I became weary,” are to be taken as preterites, expressing events that have several times been repeated, and so the final result is spoken in the imperf. I cannot.

Jer. 20:10. V. 10 gives the reason for the resolution, adopted but not carried out, of speaking no more in the name of the Lord. This was found in the reports that reached his ears of schemes against his life. The first clause is a verbal quotation from Ps. 31:14, a lament of David in the time of Saul’s persecutions. דִּבָּה, base, backbiting slander. The phrase: Fear round about, indicates, in the form of a brief popular saying, the dangerous case in which the prophet was, which his adversaries prepare for him by their repeating: Report him, we will report him. Report: here, report to the authorities as a dangerous man. Even those who are on friendly terms with him lie in wait for his fall. This phrase too is formed of phrases from the Psalms. On “am of my peace,” cf. Ps. 41:10; on צַלְעִי, Ps. 35:15; 38:18; and on שָׁמַר, watch, lie in wait for, Ps. 56:7; 71:10.

“Peradventure”—so they said—“he may let himself be enticed,” sc. to say something on which a capital charge may be founded (Graf). With “that we may prevail against him,” cf. 1:19; 15:20.—At v. 11 the lament rises into confidence in the Lord, springing from the promise given to him by God at his call. אֹותִי (for אִתִּי) יהוה recalls 1:19; 15:20. The designation of God as גִּבֹּור עָרִיץ is formed after 15:21. Because the Lord has promised to deliver him out of the hand of the עֲרִיצִים, violent, he now calls him a hero using violence, and on this founds his assurance that his persecutors will accomplish nothing, but will come to a downfall, to shame, and be covered with never-dying, never-to-be-forgotten disgrace. Because they have dealt not wisely, i.e., foolishly, see on 10:21; not: because they did not prosper, which would give a weak, superfluous idea, since their not prospering lies already in בֹּושׁ, spe frustrari. This disgrace will befall the persecutors, because the Lord of hosts will, as Searcher of hearts, take the part of the righteous, and will take vengeance on their foes. This is the force of v. 12, which, with a few changes, is repeated from 11:20.—In this trustfulness his soul rises to a firm hope of deliverance, so that in v. 13 he can call on himself and all the godly to praise God, the Saviour of the poor. Cf. Ps. 31:8; 35:9, 10, 28, etc.

Jer. 20:14–18. The day of his birth cursed.—V. 14. “Cursed be the day wherein I was born! The day my mother bare me, let it not be blessed! V. 15. Cursed be the man that brought the good tidings to my father, saying: A man-child is born to thee, who made him very glad. V. 16. Let that man be as the cities which Jahveh overthrew without repenting; let him hear crying in the morning and a war-cry at noon-tide, V. 17. Because he slew me not from the womb, and so my mother should have been my grave, and her womb should have been always great. V. 18. Wherefore am I come forth out of the womb to see hardship and sorrow, and that my days should wear away in shame?”

Inasmuch as the foregoing lamentation had ended in assured hope of deliverance, and in the praise rendered to God therefor, it seems surprising that now there should follow curses on the day of his birth, without any hint to show that at the end this temptation, too, had been overcome. For this reason Ew. wishes to rearrange the two parts of the complaint, setting vv. 14–18 before vv. 7–12. This transposition he holds to be so unquestionably certain, that he speaks of the order ad numbering of the verses in the text as an example, clear as it is remarkable, of displacement. But against this hypothesis we have to consider the improbability that, if individual copyists had omitted the second portion (vv. 14–18) or written it on the margin, others should have introduced it into an unsuitable place. Copyists did not go to work with the biblical text in such an arbitrary and clumsy fashion. Nor is the position occupied by the piece in question so incomprehensible as Ew. imagines. The cursing of the day of his birth, or of his life, after the preceding exaltation to hopeful assurance is not psychologically inconceivable. It may well be understood, if we but think of the two parts of the lamentation as not following one another in the prophet’s soul in such immediate succession as they do in the text; if we regard them as spiritual struggles, separated by an interval of time, through which the prophet must successively pass. In vanquishing the temptation that arose from the plots of his enemies against his life, Jeremiah had a strong support in the promise which the Lord gave him at his call, that those who strove against him should not prevail against him; and the deliverance out of the hand of Pashur which he had just experience, must have given him an actual proof that the Lord was fulfilling His promise. The feeling of this might fill the trembling heart with strength to conquer his temptation, and to elevate himself again, in the joyful confidence of faith, to the praising of the Lord, who delivers the soul of the poor from the hand of the ungodly. But the power of the temptation was not finally vanquished by the renewal of his confidence that the Lord will defend him against all his foes. The unsuccess of his mission might stir up sore struggles in his soul, and not only rob him of all heart to continue his labours, but excite bitter discontent with a life full or hardship and sorrow,—a discontent which found vent in his cursing the day of his birth.

The curse uttered in vv. 14–18 against the day of his birth, while it reminds us of the verses, Jer. 3:3ff., in which Job curses the day of his conception and of his birth, is markedly distinguished in form and substance from that dreadful utterance of Job’s. Job’s words are much more violent and passionate, and are turned directly against God, who has given life to him, to a man whose way is hid, whom God hath hedged round. Jeremiah, on the other hand, curses first the day of his birth (v. 14), then the man that brought his father the joyful news of the birth of a son (vv. 15–17), because his life is passing away in hardship, trials, sorrow, and shame, without expressly blaming God as the author of that life.

Jer. 20:14. The day on which I was born, let it be cursed and not blessed, sc. because life has never been a blessing to me. Job wishes that the day of his birth and the night of his conception may perish, be annihilated.

Jer. 20:15. In the curse on the man that brought the father the news of the birth, the stress lies on the clause, “who made him very glad,” which goes to strengthen בִּשַּׂר, εὐαγγελίζεσθαι, a clause which is subordinated to the principal clause without any grammatical connection (cf. Ew. § 341, b). The joy that man gave the father by his news is become to the son a source of bitter grief.

Jer. 20:16. He wishes the fate of Sodom (Gen. 19:25), namely ruin, to befall that man. וְלֹא נִחָם, and may He (Jahveh) not let it repent Him, is adverbially used: without feeling compunction for the destruction, i.e., without pity. In v. 16b destruction is depicted under the figure of the terrors of a town beleaguered by enemies and suddenly taken. זְעָקָה, the wailing cry of the afflicted townspeople; תְּרוּעָה, the war-cry of the enemies breaking in; cf. 15:8.

Jer. 20:17. tells why the curse should fall on that man: because (אֲשֶׁר, causal) he slew me not from the womb, i.e., according to what follows: while yet in the womb, and so (וַתְּהִי with וְ consec.) my mother would have become my grave. Logically considered, the subject to מֹותְתַנִי can only be the man on whom the curse of v. 15 is pronounced. But how could the man kill the child in the mother’s womb? This consideration has given occasion to various untenable renderings. Some have taken “from the womb,” according to Job 3:11, in the sense: immediately after birth, simul ac ex utero exiissem (Ros.). This is grammatically fair enough, but it does not fall in with the context; for then the following Vav consec. must be taken as having the negative force “or rather,” the negation being repeated in the next clause again (Ros., Graf). Both these cases are grammatically inadmissible. Others would supply “Jahveh” as subject to מֹותְתַנִי, or take the verb as with indefinite subject, or as passive. But to supply “Jahveh” is quite arbitrary; and against the passive construction it must be said that thus the causal nexus, indicated by אֲשֶׁר, between the man on whom the curse is to fall and the slaying of the child is done away with, and all connection for the אֲשֶׁר with what precedes would be lost. The difficulty arising from simply accepting the literal meaning is solved by the consideration, that the curse is not levelled against any one particular person. The man that was present at the birth, so as to be able to bring the father the news of it, might have killed the child in the mother’s womb. Jeremiah is as little thinking how this could happen as, in the next words, he is of the possibility of everlasting pregnancy. His words must be taken rhetorically, not physiologically. That pregnancy is everlasting that has no birth at the end of it.—In v. 18 a reason for the curse is given, in that birth had brought him only a life of hardship and sorrow. To see hardship, i.e., experience, endure it. His days pass away, vanish in shame, i.e., shame at the discomfiture of hopes; for his life-calling produces no fruit, his prophetic work is in vain, since he cannot save his people from destruction.

The curse on the day of birth closes with a sigh at the wretchedness of life, without any hint that he again rises to new joyful faith, and without God’s reprimanding him for his discontent as in 11:19f. This difficulty the comm. have not touched upon; they have considered only the questions: how at all such a curse in the mouth of a prophet is to be defended; and whether it is in its right place in this connection, immediately after the words so full of hope as v. 11ff. (cf. Näg.). The latter question we have already discussed art the beginning of the exposition of these verses. As to the first, opinions differ. Some take the curse to be a purely rhetorical form, having no object whatsoever. For, it is said, the long past day of his birth is as little an object on which the curse could really fall, as is the man who told his father of the birth of a son,—a man who in all probability never had a real existence (Näg.). To this view, ventured so early as Origen, Cor. a Lap. has justly answered: obstat, quod dies illa exstiterit fueritque creatura Dei; non licet autem maledicere alicui creaturae Dei, sive illa praesens sit sive praeterita. Others, as Calv., espied in this cursing quasi sacrilegum furorem, and try to excuse it on the ground that the principium hujus zeli was justifiable, because Jeremiah cursed the day of his birth not because of personal sufferings, sicknesses, poverty, and the like, but quoniam videret se perdere operam, quum tamen fideliter studeret eam impendere in salutem populi, deinde quum videret doctrinam Dei obnoxiam esse probris et vituperationibus, quum videret impios ita procaciter insurgere, quum videret totam pietatem ita haberi ludibrio. But the sentence passed, that the prophet gravissime peccaverit ut esset contumeliosus in Deu, is too severe one, as is also that of the Berleburg Bible, that “Jeremiah therein stands for an example of warning to all faithful witnesses for the truth, showing that they should not be impatient of the reproach, contempt, derision, and mockery that befall them on that account, if God’s long-suffering bears with the mockers so long, and ever delays His judgments.” For had Jeremiah sinned so grievously, God would certainly have reproached him with his wrong-doing, as in 15:19. Since that is not here the case, we are not entitled to make out his words to be a beacon of warning to all witnesses for the truth. Certainly this imprecation was not written fore our imitation; for it is doubtless an infirmitas, as Seb. Schm. called it,—an outbreak of the striving of the flesh against the spirit. But it should be to us a source of instruction and comfort. From it we should, on the one hand, learn the full weight of the temptation, so that we may arm ourselves with prayer in faith as a weapon against the power of the tempter; on the other hand, we should see the greatness of God’s grace, which raises again those that are stumbling to their fall, and does not let God’s true servants succumb under the temptation, as we gather from the fact, that the Lord does not cast off His servant, but gives him the needed strength for carrying on the heavy labours of his office.—The difficulty that there is no answer from the Lord to this complaint, neither by way of reprimand nor of consolation, as in 12:5f., 15:10, 19f., is solved when we consider that at his former complainings the Lord had said to him all that was needed to comfort him and raise him up again. A repetition of those promises would have soothed his bitterness of spirit for a time, perhaps, but not permanently. For the latter purpose the Lord was silent, and left him time to conquer from within the temptation that was crushing him down, by recalling calmly the help from God he had so often hitherto experienced in his labours, especially as the time was now not far distant in which, by the bursting of the threatened judgment on Jerusalem and Judah, he should not only be justified before his adversaries, but also perceive that his labour had not been in vain. And that Jeremiah did indeed victoriously struggle against this temptation, we may gather from remembering that hereafter, when, especially during the siege of Jerusalem under Zedekiah, he had still sorer afflictions to endure, he no longer trembles or bewails the sufferings connected with his calling.

  Commentary on the Old Testament: Jeremiah, Lamentations(Vol. VIII)
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Jer. 21–33. These predictions are distinguished from the discourses of the first section, in regard to their form, by special headings assigning precisely the occasion and the date of the particular utterances; and in regard to their substance, by the minute detail with which judgment and salvation are foretold. They fall into two groups. In Jer. 21–29 is set forth in detail the judgment to be executed upon Judah and the nations by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon; and in Jer. 30–33 the restoration of Judah and Israel on the expiry of the period of punishment.

A. The Predictions of Judgment on Judah and the Nations—Ch. 21–29

Jer. 21–29. Although these prophecies deal first and chiefly with the judgment which the king of Babylon is to execute on Judah, yet they at the same time intimate that a like fate is in store for the surrounding nations. And in them there is besides a foreshadowing of the judgment to come on Babylon after the expiration of the period appointed for the domination of the Chaldeans, and in brief hints, of the redemption of Israel from captivity in Babylon and other lands into which it has been scattered. They consist of three prophetic pieces, of which the middle one only, Jer. 25, forms one lengthy continuous discourse, while the two others are composed of several shorter or longer utterances; the latter two being arranged around the former as a centre. In the first piece the necessity of judgment is shown by means of an exposure of the profound corruption of the leaders of the people, the kings and the false prophets, and of the people itself; this being done with a view to check the reigning depravity and to bring back Israel to the true God. In the discourse of Jer. 25 the judgment is set forth with comprehensive generalness. In the third piece, Jer. 26–29, the truth of this declaration is confirmed, and defended against the gainsaying of priests and prophets, by a series of utterances which crush all hopes and all attempts to avert the ruin of Jerusalem and Judah.—This gathering together of the individual utterances and addresses into longer discourse-like compositions, and the grouping of them around the central discourse Jer. 25, is evidently a part of the work of editing the book but was doubtless carried out under the direction of the prophet by his assistant Baruch.

Ch. 21–24. The Shepherds and Leaders of the People

Jer. 21–24. Under this heading may be comprehended the contents of these four chapters; for the nucleus of this compilation is formed by the prophecy concerning the shepherds of the people, the godless last kings of Judah and the false prophets, in Jer. 22 and 23, while Jer. 21 is to be regarded as an introduction thereto, and Jer. 24 a supplement. The aim of this portion of prophetic teaching is to show how the covenant people has been brought to ruin by its corrupt temporal and spiritual rulers, that the Lord must purge it by sore judgments, presently to fall on Judah through Nebuchadnezzar’s instrumentality. This is to be done in order to root out the ungodly by sword, famine, and pestilence, and so to make the survivors His true people again by means of right shepherds whom He will raise up in the true branch of David. The introduction, Jer. 21, contains deliverances regarding the fate of King Zedekiah, the people, and the city, addressed by Jeremiah, at the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, to the men sent to him from the king, in reply to the request for intercession with the Lord; the answer being to the effect that God will punish them according to the fruit of their doings. Then follow in order the discourse against the corrupt rulers, especially Kings Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Jechoniah, Jer. 22, with a promise that the remainder of the Lord’s flock will be gathered again and blessed with a righteous shepherd (Jer. 23:1–8), and next threatenings against the false prophets (Jer. 23:9–40); the conclusion of the whole being formed by the vision of the two baskets of figs, Jer. 24, which foreshadows the fate of the people carried away to Babylon with Jehoiachin and of those that remained in the land with Zedekiah.—The several long constituent portions of this “word of God,” united into a whole by the heading 21:1, belong to various times. The contents of Jer. 21 belong to the first period of the Chaldean siege, i.e., the ninth year of Zedekiah; the middle portion, Jer. 22 and 23, dates from the reigns of Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin; the conclusion, Jer. 24, is from the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, not long after Jehoiachin and the best part of the people had been carried off to Babylon.—As to the joining of Jer. 22 and 23 with Jer. 21, Ew. rightly says that Jeremiah made use of the opportunity furnished by the message of the king to him of speaking plainly out regarding the future destiny of the whole kingdom, as well as in an especial way with regard to the royal house, and the great men and leaders of the people; and that he accordingly gathered into this part of the book all he had hitherto publicly uttered concerning the leaders of the people, both kings and temporal princes, and also prophets and priests. This he did in order to disclose, regardless of consequences, the causes for the destruction of the kingdom of Judah and the city Jerusalem by the Chaldean; while the brief promise of a future gathering again of the remnant of the scattered flock, introduced at 23:1–8, is to show that, spite of the judgment to fall on Judah and Jerusalem, the Lord will yet not wholly cast of His people, but will at a future time admit them to favour again. For the confirmation of this truth there is added in Jer. 24 the vision of the two baskets of figs.

Jer. 21. The Taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans.—Vv. 1 and 2. The heading specifying the occasion for the following prediction. “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur the son of Malchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying: Inquire now of Jahveh for us, for Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon maketh war against us; if so be that the Lord will deal with us according to all His wondrous works, that he may go up from us.” The fighting of Nebuchadrezzar is in v. 4 stated to be the besieging of the city. From this it appears that the siege had begun ere the king sent the two men to the prophet. Pashur the son of Malchiah is held by Hitz., Graf, Näg., etc., to be a distinguished priest of the class of Malchiah. But this is without sufficient reason; for he is not called a priest, as is the case with Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, and with Pashur the son of Immer (Jer. 21:1). Nor is anything proved by the circumstance that Pashur and Malchiah occur in several places as the names of priests, e.g., 1 Chron. 9:12; for both names are also used of persons not priests, e.g., Malchiah, Ezra 10:25, 31, and Pashur, Jer. 38:1, where this son of Gedaliah is certainly a laic. From this passage, where Pashur ben Malchiah appears again, it is clear that the four men there named, who accused Jeremiah for his speech, were government authorities or court officials, since in 38:4 they are called שָׂרִים. Ros. is therefore right in saying of the Pashur under consideration: videtur unus ex principibus sive aulicis fuisse, cf. 38:4. Only Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah is called priest; and he, acc. to 29:25; 37:3; 52:24, held a high position in the priesthood. Inquire for us of Jahveh, i.e., ask for a revelation for us, as 2 Kings 22:13, cf. Gen. 25:22. It is not: pray for His help on our behalf, which is expressed by הִתְפַּלֵּל בַּעֲדֵנוּ, 37:3, cf. 52:2. In the request for a revelation the element of intercession is certainly not excluded, but it is not directly expressed. But it is on this that the king founds his hope: Peradventure Jahveh will do with us (אֹותָנוּ for אִתָּנוּ) according to all His wondrous works, i.e., in the miraculous manner in which He has so often saved us, e.g., under Hezekiah, and also, during the blockade of the city by Sennacherib, had recourse to the prophet Isaiah and besought his intercession with the Lord, 2 Kings 19:2ff., Isa. 37:2ff. That he (Nebuch.) may go up from us. עָלָה, to march against a city in order to besiege it or take it, but with מֵעַל, to withdraw from it, cf. 37:5, 1 Kings 15:19. As to the name Nebuchadrezzar, which corresponds more exactly than the Aramaic-Jewish Nebuchadnezzar with the Nebucadurriusur of the inscriptions (נבו כדר אצר, i.e., Nebo coronam servat), see Comm. on Daniel at Dan. 1:1.

Jer. 21:3–14. The Lord’s reply through Jeremiah consists of three parts: a. The answer to the king’s hope that the Lord will save Jerusalem from the Chaldeans (vv. 4–7); b. The counsel given to the people and the royal family as to how they may avert ruin (vv. 8–12); c. The prediction that Jerusalem will be punished for her sins (vv. 13 and 14).

Jer. 21:3–7. The answer.—V. 3. “And Jeremiah said to them: Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah: V. 4. Thus hath Jahveh the God of Israel said: Behold, I turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and gather them together into the midst of this city. V. 5. And I fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, and with anger and fury and great wrath, V. 6. And smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; of a great plague they shall die. V. 7. And afterward, saith Jahveh, I will give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his servants, and the people—namely, such as in this city are left of the plague, of the sword, and of the famine—into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek after their life, that he may smite them according to the sharpness of the sword, not spare them, neither have pity nor mercy.” This answer is intended to disabuse the king and his servants of all hope of help from God. So far from saving them from the Chaldeans, God will fight against them, will drive back into the city its defenders that are still holding out without the walls against the enemy; consume the inhabitants by sword, pestilence, famine; deliver the king, with his servants and all that survive inside the lines of the besiegers, into the hand of the latter, and unsparingly cause them to be put to death. “I make the weapons of war turn back” is carried on and explained by “I gather them into the city.” The sense is: I will bring it about that ye, who still fight without the walls against the beleaguerers, must turn back with your weapons and retreat into the city. “Without the walls” is not to be joined to מֵסֵב, because this is too remote, and מִחוּץ is by usage locative, not ablative. It should go with “wherewith ye fight,” etc.: wherewith ye fight without the walls against the beleaguering enemies. The siege had but just begun, so that the Jews were still trying to hinder the enemy from taking possession of stronger positions and from a closer blockade of the city. In this they will not succeed, but their weapons will be thrust back into the city.

Jer. 21:7. The Lord will make known His almighty power not for the rescue but for the chastisement of Judah. The words “with outstretched hand and strong arm” are a standing figure for the miraculous manifestation of God’s power at the release of Israel from Egypt, Deut. 4:34; 5:15; 26:8. This power He will now exercise upon Israel, and execute the punishment threatened against apostasy at the renewal of the covenant by Moses in the land of Moab. The words בְּאַף … גָּדֹול are from Deut. 29:27. The inhabitants of Jerusalem are to perish during the siege by pestilence and disease, and the remainder, including the king and his servants, to be mercilessly massacred. “Great pestilence” alone is mentioned in v. 6, but in v. 7 there are sword and famine along with it. The וְאֵת before הַנִּשְׁאָרִים seems superfluous and unsuitable, since besides the king, his servants and the people, there could be none others left. The LXX have therefore omitted it, and Hitz., Ew., Graf, and others propose to erase it. But the ו may be taken to be explicative: namely, such as are left, in which case וְאֵת serves to extend the participial clause to all the persons before mentioned, while without the וְאֵת the הַנִּשְׁאָרִים וגו׳ could be referred only to הָעָם. “Into the hand of their enemies” is rhetorically amplified by “into the hand of those that seek,” etc., as in 19:7, 9; 34:20, etc.; לְפִי חֶרֶב, according to the sharpness (or edge) of the sword, i.e., mercilessly (see on Gen. 34:26; in Jer. only here), explained by “not spare them,” etc., cf. 13:14.

Jer. 21:8–12. The counsel given to the people and royal family how to escape death.—V. 8. “And unto the people thou shalt say: Thus hath Jahveh said: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. V. 9. He that abideth in this city shall die by sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he that goeth out and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and have his soul for a prey. V. 10. For I have set my face on this city for evil and not for good, saith Jahveh; into the hand of the king of Babylon shall it be given, who shall burn it with fire. V. 11. And to the house of the king of Judah: Hear the word of Jahveh: V. 12. House of David! thus hath Jahveh said: Hold judgment every morning, and save the despoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury break forth as fire, and burn unquenchably, because of the evil of your doings.” What the prophet is here to say to the people and the royal house is not directly addressed to the king’s envoy, but is closely connected with the answer he was to give to the latter, and serves to strengthen the same. We need not be hampered by the assumption that Jeremiah, immediately after that answer, communicated this advice, so that it might be made known to the people and to the royal house. The counsel given in vv. 8–12 to the people was during the siege repeatedly given by Jeremiah both to the king and to the people, cf. 38:1ff., 38:17ff., and 27:11ff., and many of the people acted by his advice, cf. 38:19; 39:9; 52:15. But the defenders of the city, the authorities, saw therein treason, or at least a highly dangerous discouragement to those who were fighting, and accused the prophet as a traitor, 38:4ff., cf. 37:13. Still Jeremiah, holding his duty higher than his life, remained in the city, and gave as his opinion, under conviction attained to only by divine revelation, that all resistance is useless, since God has irrevocably decreed the destruction of Jerusalem as a punishment for their sins. The idea of v. 7 is clothed in words taken from Deut. 30:15, cf. 11:26. יָשַׁב, v. 9, as opposed to יָצָא, does not mean: to dwell, but: to sit still, abide. To fall to the Chaldeans, i.e., to go over to them, cf. 37:14; 39:9, 2 Kings 25:11; עַל is interchanged with אֶל, 37:13; 38:19; 52:15. The Chet. יִחְיֶה is right, corresponding to יָמוּת; the Keri וְחָיָה is wrong. His life shall be to him for a prey, i.e., he shall carry it thence as a prey, i.e., preserve it. V. 10 gives the reason for the advice given. For I have set my face, cf. 44:11, recalls Amos 9:4, only there we have עֵינִי for פָּנַי, as in 24:6. To set the face or eye on one means: to pay special heed to him, in good (cf. 39:12) or in evil sense; hence the addition, “for evil,” etc.

Jer. 21:11f. The kingly house, i.e., the king and his family, under which are here comprehended not merely women and children, but also the king’s companions, his servants and councillors; they are counselled to hold judgment every morning. דִּין מִשְׁפָּט = דִּין דִּין, 5:28; 22:16, or שָׁפַט מִשְׁפָּט, Lam. 3:59, 1 Kings 3:28. לַבֹּקֶר distributively, every morning, as Amos 4:4. To save the despoiled out of the hand of the oppressor means: to defend his just cause against the oppressor, to defend him from being despoiled; cf. 22:3. The form of address; House of David, which is by a displacement awkwardly separated from שִׁמְעוּ, is meant to remind the kingly house of its origin, its ancestor David, who walked in the ways of the Lord.—The second half of the verse, “lest my fury,” etc., runs like 4:4.

Jer. 21:13, 14. The chastisement of Jerusalem.—V. 13. “Behold, I am against thee, inhabitress of the valley, of the rock of the plain, saith Jahveh, ye who say: Who shall come down against us, and who shall come into our dwellings? V. 14. And will visit you according to the fruit of your doings, saith Jahveh, and kindle a fire in her forest, that it may devour all her surroundings.” This threatening is levelled against the citizens of Jerusalem, who vaunted the impregnableness of their city. The inhabitress of the valley is the daughter of Zion, the population of Jerusalem personified. The situation of the city is spoken of as עֵמֶק, ravine between mountains, in respect that Jerusalem was encircled by mountains of greater height (Ps. 125:2); and as rock of the plain, i.e., the region regarded as a level from which Mount Zion, the seat of the kingdom, rose, equivalent to rock of the field, 17:3. In the “rock” we think specially of Mount Zion, and in the “valley” of the so-called lower city. The two designations are chosen to indicate the strong situation of Jerusalem. On this the inhabitants pride themselves, who say: Who shall come down against us? יֵחַת for יִנְחַת, from נָחַת; cf. Ew. § 139, c. Dwellings, cf. 25:30, not cities or refuge or coverts of wild animals; מָעֹון has not this force, but can at most acquire it from the context; see Del. on Ps. 26:8. The strength of the city will not shield the inhabitants from the punishment with which God will visit them. “According to the fruit,” etc., cf. 17:10. I kindle fire in her forest. The city is a forest of houses, and the figure is to be explained by the simile in 22:6, but was not suggested by מָעֹון = lustra ferarum (Hitz.). All her surroundings, how much more then the city itself!

   Commentary on the Old Testament: Jeremiah, Lamentations(Vol. VIII)
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Jer. 22:1–23:8. Rebuke of the Ungodly Kings Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin, and Promise of a Righteous Branch of David.—This discourse begins with an exhortation to the king, his servants, and the people to do right and justice, and to eschew all unrighteousness, and with the warning, that in case of the contrary the royal palace will be reduced to ruins and Jerusalem destroyed by fire. After touching briefly on the fate of Jehoahaz, who has been deported to Egypt (vv. 10–12), the discourse turns against Jehoiakim, rebukes his tyranny, in that he builds his house with unrighteousness and schemes only bloodshed and violence, and threatens him with ignominious ruin (vv. 13–19). Then, after a threatening against Jerusalem (vv. 20–23), it deals with Jechoniah, who is told he shall be carried to Babylon never to return, and without any descendant to sit on his throne (vv. 24–30). Next, after an outcry of grief at the wicked shepherds, follows the promise that the Lord will gather the remnant of His flock out of all the lands whither they have been driven, that He will restore them to their fields and multiply them, and that He will raise up to them a good shepherd in the righteous branch of David (Jer. 23:1–8).—According to 21:1, Jeremiah spoke these words in the house of the king of Judah; whence we see that in this passage we have not merely ideas and scraps of addresses gathered together, such as had been on various occasions orally delivered by the prophet. It further appears from v. 10 and vv. 13–17, that the portion of the discourse addressed to Jehoiakim was uttered in the first year of his reign; and from v. 24, where Jechoniah is addressed as king, that the utterance concerning him belongs to the short period (only three months long) of his reign. But the utterance concerning Jechoniah is joined with that concerning Jehoiakim on account of the close relationship in matter between them. The exhortation and warning against injustice, forming the introduction, as regards it contents, fits very well into the time of Jehoiakim (cf. v. 17 with v. 3). The promise with which the discourse concludes was apparently not spoken till the time of Jechoniah, shortly before his being taken to Babylon. So that we have here the discourses of Jeremiah belonging to the times of Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin respectively, joined into one continuous whole.

Jer. 22:1–9. The king is warned against injustice, and the violent oppression of the poor and defenceless.—V. 1. “Thus said Jahveh: Go down to the house of the king of Judah and speak there this word, V. 2. And say: Hear the word of Jahveh, thou king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people, that go in by these gates. V. 3. Thus hath Jahveh said: Do ye right and justice, and save the despoiled out of the hand of the oppressor; to stranger, orphan, and widow do no wrong, no violence; and innocent blood shed not in this place. V. 4. For if ye will do this word indeed, then by the gates of this place there shall come in kings that sit upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. V. 5. But if ye hearken not to these words, by myself have I sworn, saith Jahve, that this house shall become a desolation. V. 6. For thus hath Jahveh said concerning the house of the king of Judah: A Gilead art thou to me, a head of Lebanon; surely I will make thee a wilderness, cities uninhabited; V. 7. And will consecrate against thee destroyers, each with his tools, who shall hew down the choice of thy cedars and cast them into the fire. V. 8. And there shall pass may peoples by this city, and one shall say to the other: Wherefore hath Jahveh done thus unto this great city? V. 9. And they will say: Because they have forsaken the covenant of Jahveh their God, and worshipped other gods and served them.”

Go down into the house of the king. The prophet could go down only from the temple; cf. 36:12 and 26:10. Not only the king is to hear the word of the Lord, but his servants too, and the people, who go in by these gates, the gates of the royal castle. The exhortation: to do right and justice, etc., is only an expansion of the brief counsel at 21:12, and that brought home to the heart of the whole people in 7:6, cf. Ezek. 22:6f. The form עָשֹׁוק for עֹושֵׁק, 21:12, occurs only here, but is formed analogously to גָּדֹול, and cannot be objected to. אַל־תֹּנוּ is strengthened by “do no violence.” On “kings riding,” etc., cf. 17:25.—With v. 5 cf. 17:27, where, however, the threatening is otherwise worded. בִּי נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי, cf. Gen. 22:16. כִּי introduces the contents of the oath. “This house” is the royal palace. לְחָרְבָּה as in 7:34, cf. 27:17. The threatening is illustrated in v. 6 by further description of the destruction of the palace. The royal castle is addressed, and, in respect of its lofty situation and magnificence, is called a Gilead and a head of Lebanon. It lay on the north-eastern eminence of Mount Zion (see on 1 Kings 7:12, note 1), and contained the so-called forest-house of Lebanon (1 Kings 7:2–5) and various other buildings built of cedar, or, at least, faced with cedar planks (cf. vv. 14, 23); so that the entire building might be compared to a forest of cedars on the summit of Lebanon. In the comparison to Gilead, Gilead can hardly be adduced in respect of its great fertility as a pasturing land (Num. 32:1; Mic. 7:14), but in virtue of the thickly wooded covering of the hill-country of Gilead on both sides of the Jabbok. This is still in great measure clothed with oak thickets and, according to Buckingham, the most beautiful forest tracts that can be imagined; cf. C. v. Raumer, Pal. S. 82. אִם לֹא is a particle of asseveration. This glorious forest of cedar buildings is to become a מִדְבָּר, a treeless steppe, cities uninhabited. “Cities” refers to the thing compared, not to the emblem; and the plural, as being the form for indefinite generality, presents no difficulty. And the attachment thereto of a singular predicate has many analogies in its support, cf. Ew. § 317, a. The Keri נֹושָׁבוּ is an uncalled for emendation of the Chet. נֹושָׁבָה, cf. 6:5.—“I consecrate,” in respect that the destroyers are warriors whom God sends as the executors of His will, see on 6:4. With “a man and his weapons,” cf. Ezek. 9:2. In keeping with the figure of a forest, the destruction is represented as the hewing down of the choicest cedars; cf. Isa. 10:34.—Thus is to be accomplished in Jerusalem what Moses threatened, Deut. 29:23; the destroyed city will become a monument of God’s wrath against the transgressors of His covenant. V. 8 is modelled upon Deut. 29:23ff., cf. 1 Kings 9:8f., and made to bear upon Jerusalem, since, along with the palace, the city too is destroyed by the enemy.

From v. 10 onwards the exhortation to the evil shepherds becomes a prophecy concerning the kings of that time, who by their godless courses hurried on the threatened destruction. The prophecy begins with King Jehoahaz, who, after a reign of three months, had bee discrowned by Pharaoh Necho and carried captive to Egypt; 2 Kings 23:30–35, 2 Chron. 36:1–4.

Jer. 22:10–12. On Jehoahaz.—V. 10. “Weep not for the dead, neither bemoan him; weep rather for him that is gone away, for he shall no more return and see the land of his birth. V. 11. For thus saith Jahveh concerning Shallum, the son of Josiah king of Judah, who became king in his father Josiah’s stead, and who went forth from this place: He shall not return thither more; V. 12. but in the place whither they have carried hi captive, there shall he die and see this land no more.” The clause: weep not for the dead, with which the prophecy on Shallum is begun, shows that the mourning for King Josiah was kept up and was still heartily felt amongst the people (2 Chron. 35:24ff.), and that the circumstances of his death were still fresh in their memory. לְמֵת without the article, although Josiah, slain in battle at Megiddo, is meant, because there was no design particularly to define the person. Him that goes or is gone away. He, again, is defined and called Shallum. This Shallum, who became king in his father Josiah’s place, can be none other than Josiah’s successor, who is called Joahaz in 2 Kings 23:30ff., 2 Chron. 36:1; as was seen by Chrysost. and Aben-Ezra, and, since Grotius, by most commentators. The only question is, why he should here be called Shallum. According to Frc. Junius, Hitz., and Graf, Jeremiah compares Joahaz on account of his short reign with Shallum in Israel, who reigned but one month (2 Kings 15:13), and ironically calls him Shallum, as Jezebel called Jehu, Zimri murderer of his lord, 2 Kings 9:31. This explanation is unquestionably erroneous, since irony of such a sort is inconsistent with what Jeremiah says of Shallum. More plausible seems Hgstb.’s opinion, Christ. ii. p. 401, that Jeremiah gives Joahaz the name Shallum, i.e., the requited (cf. שַׁלֻּם, 1 Chron. 6:13, = מְשֻׁלָּם, 1 Chron. 9:11), as nomen reale, to mark him out as the man the Lord had punished for the evil of his doings. But this conjecture too is overthrown by the fact, that in the genealogy of the kings of Judah, 1 Chron. 3:15, we find among the four sons of Josiah the name שַׁלּוּם instead of Joahaz. Now this name cannot have come there from the present passage, for the genealogies of Chronicles are derived from old family registers. That this is so in the case of Josiah’s sons, appears from the mention there of a fourth, Johanan, over and above the three known to history, of whom we hear nothing more. In the genealogical tables persons are universally mentioned by their own proper names, not according to “renamings” or surnames, except in the case that these have received the currency and value of historical names, as e.g., Israel for Jacob. On the ground of the genealogical table 1 Chron. 3 we must accordingly hold that Joahaz was properly called Shallum, and that probably at his accession he assumed the name יֹואָחָז, “Jahveh sustains, holds.” But Jeremiah might still have used the name Shallum in preference to the assumed Joahaz, because the former had verified itself in that king’s fate. With v. 11b and 12, cf. 2 Kings 23:33–35.—The brief saying in regard to Joahaz forms the transition from the general censure of the wicked rulers of Judah who brought on the ruin of the kingdom, to the special predictions concerning the ungodly kings Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin, in whose time the judgment burst forth. In counselling not to weep for the dead king (Josiah), but for the departed one (Joahaz), Jeremiah does not mean merely to bewail the lot of the king carried prisoner to Egypt, but to foreshadow the misery that awaits the whole people. From this point of view Calv. well says: si lugenda est urbis hujus clades, potius lugendi sunt qui manebunt superstites quam qui morientur. Mors enim erit quasi requies, erit portus ad finienda omnia mala: Vita autem longior nihil aliud erit quam continua miseriarum series; and further, that in the words: he shall no more return and see the land of his birth, Jeremiah shows: exilium fore quasi tabem, quae paulatim consumat miseros Judaeos. Ita mors fuisset illis dulcior longe, quam sic diu cruciari et nihil habere relaxationis. In the lot of the two kings the people had to recognise what was in store for itself.

Jer. 22:13–19. The woe uttered upon Jehoiakim.—V. 13. “Woe unto him that buildeth his house with unrighteousness and his upper chambers with wrong, that maketh his fellow labour for nought, and giveth him not his hire; V. 14. That saith: I will build me a wide house and spacious upper chambers, and cutteth him out many windows, and covereth it with cedars, and painteth it with vermilion. V. 15. Art thou a king of thou viest in cedar? Did not thy father eat and drink, and do right and justice? Then it went well with him. V. 16. He did justice to the poor and wretched, then it was well. Is not this to know me? saith Jahveh. V. 17. For on nothing are thine eyes and thy heart set but on gain and on the blood of the innocent, to shed it, and on oppression and violence, to do them. V. 18. Therefore thus saith Jahveh concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah: They shall not mourn for him, saying: Alas, my brother! and alas, sister! they shall not mourn for him: Alas, lord! and alas for his glory! V. 19. An ass’s burial shall his burial be, dragged and cast far away from the gates of Jerusalem.”

The prediction as to Jehoiakim begins with a woe upon the unjust oppression of the people. The oppression consisted in his building a magnificent palace with the sweat and blood of his subjects, whom he compelled to do forced labour without giving the labourers wages. The people must have felt this burden all the more severely that Jehoiakim, to obtain the throne, had bound himself to pay to Pharaoh a large tribute, the gold and silver for which he raised from the population according to Pharaoh’s own valuation, 2 Kings 23:33ff. With “Woe to him that buildeth,” etc., cf. Hab. 2:12, Mic. 3:10. “That maketh his fellow labour,” lit., through his neighbour he works, i.e., he causes the work to be done by his neighbour (fellow-man) for nought, without giving him wages, forces him to unpaid statute-labour. עָבַד בּ as in Lev. 25:39, 46. פֹּעַל, labour, work, gain, then wages, cf. Job 7:2. Jehoiakim sought to increase the splendour of his kingship by palace-building. To this the speech points, put in his mouth at v. 14: I will build me בֵּית מִדֹּות, a house of extensions, i.e., a palace in the grand style, with spacious halls, vast chambers. מְרֻוָּח from רָוַח, to find vent, cheer up, 1 Sam. 16:23; not airy, but spacious, for quite a modest house might have airy chambers. וְקָרַע is a continuation of the participle; literally: and he cuts himself out windows, makes huge openings in the walls for windows. This verb is used in 4:30 of opening up the eyes with paint. חַלֹּונָי presents some difficulty, seeing that the suffix of the first person makes no sense. It has therefore been held to be a contracted plural form (Gesen. Lehrgeb. S. 523) or for a dual (Ew. § 177, a), but without any proof of the existence of such formations, since גֹּובַי, Amos 7:1, Nah. 3:17, is to be otherwise explained (see on Amos 7:1). Following on the back of J. D. Mich., Hitz., Graf, and Böttcher (ausf. Gramm. § 414) propose to connect the ו before סָפוּן with this word and to read חַלֹּונָיו: and tears open for himself his windows; in support of which it is alleged that one cod. so reads. But this one cod. can decide nothing, and the suffix his is superfluous, even unsuitable, seeing that there can be no thought of another person’s building; whereas the copula cannot well be omitted before סָפוּן. For the rule adduced for this, that the manner of the principal action is frequently explained by appending infinitives absoll. (Ew. § 280, a), does not meet the present case; the covering with cedar, etc., does not refer to the windows, and so cannot be an explanation of the cutting out for himself. We therefore hold, with Böttcher (Proben, S. 40), that חַלֹּונַי is an adjective formation, with the force of: abundant in windows, since this formation is completely accredited by כִּילַי and חֹרַי (cf. Ew. § 164, c); and the objection alleged against this by Graf, that then no object is specified for “cutteth out,” is not of much weight, it being easy to supply the object from the preceding “house:” and he cuts it out for himself abounding in windows. There needs be no change of וְסָפוּן into וְסָפֹון. For although the infin. absol. would be quite in place as continuation of the verb. fin. (cf. Ew. § 351, c), yet it is not necessary. The word is attached in zeugma to וְקָרַע or חַלֹּונַי: and he covers with cedar, to: faces or overlays, for this verb does not mean to plank or floor, for which צִפָּה is the usual word, but hide, cover, and is used 1 Kings 6:9; 7:3, for roofing. The last statement is given in infin. absol.: וּמָשֹׁוחַ, and besmears it, paints it (the building) with שָׁשַׁר, red ochre, a brilliant colour (LXX μίλτος, i.e., acc. to Kimchi, red lead; see Gesen. thess s.v.).

Jer. 22:15. In v. 15 Jeremiah pursues the subject: kingship and kingcraft do not consist in the erection of splendid palaces, but in the administration of right and justice. The reproachful question הֲתִמְלֹךְ has not the meaning: wilt thou reign long? or wilt thou consolidate thy dominion? but: dost thou suppose thyself to be a king, to show thyself a king, if thy aim and endeavour is solely fixed on the building of a stately palace? “Viest,” as in 12:5. בָּאֶרֶז, not: with the cedar, for תחרה is construed with the accus. of that with which one vies, but: in cedar, i.e., in the building of cedar palaces. It was not necessary to say with whom he vied, since the thought of Solomon’s edifices would suggest itself. The LXX have changed בארז by a pointless quid pro quo into באחז, ἐν Ἄχαζ, for which Cod. Alex. and Arabs have ἐν Ἀχαάβ. The fact that Ahab had built a palace veneered with ivory (1 Kings 22:39) is not sufficient to approve this reading, which Ew. prefers. Still less cause is there to delete בארז as a gloss (Hitz.) in order to obtain the rendering, justified neither by grammar nor in fact, “if thou contendest with thy father.” To confirm what he has said, the prophet sets before the worthless king the example of his godly father Josiah. “Thy father, did not he eat and drink,” i.e., enjoy life (cf. Eccles. 2:24; 3:13)? yet at the same time he administered right and justice, like his forefather David; 2 Sam. 8:15. Then went it well with him and the kingdom. אָז טֹוב, v. 16, is wider than אָז טֹוב לֹו: in respect that he did justice to the poor and wretched, things went well, were well managed in the kingdom at large. In so doing consists “the knowing of me.” The knowledge of Jahveh is the practical recognition of God which is displayed in the fear of God and a pious life. The infinitive nomin. דַּעַת has the article because a special emphasis lies on the word (cf. Ew. § 277, c), the true knowledge of God required to have stress laid on it.—But Jehoiakim is the reverse of his father. This thought, lying in v. 16, is illustrated in v. 17. For thine eyes are set upon nothing but gain. בֶּצַע, gain with the suggestion of unrighteousness about it, cf. 6:13; 8:10. His whole endeavour was after wealth and splendour. The means of attaining this aim was injustice, since he not only withheld their wages from his workers (v. 13), but caused the innocent to be condemned in the judgment that he might grasp their goods to himself, as e.g., Ahab had done with Naboth. He also put to death the prophets who rebuked his unrighteousness, 26:23, and used every kind of lawless violence. “Oppression” is amplified by הַמְּרוּצָה (from רצץ, cf. Deut. 28:33, 1 Sam. 12:3), crushing, “what we call flaying people” (Hitz.); cf. on this subject, Mic. 3:3.

Jer. 22:18f. As punishment for this, his end will be full of horrors; when he dies he will not be bemoaned and mourned for, and will lie unburied. To have an ass’s burial means: to be left unburied in the open field, or cast into a flaying-ground, inasmuch as they drag out the dead body and cast it far from the gates of Jerusalem. The words: Alas, my brother! alas, etc.! are ipsissima verba of the regular mourners who were procured to bewail the deaths of men and women. The LXX took objection to the “alas, sister,” and left it out, applying the words literally to Jehoiakim’s death; whereas the words are but a rhetorical individualizing of the general idea: they will make no death-laments for him, and the omission destroys the parallelism. His glory, i.e., the king’s. The idea is: neither his relatives nor his subjects will lament his death. The infinn. absoll. סָחֹוב וְהַשְׁלֵךְ, dragging forth and casting (him), serve to explain: the burial of an ass, etc. In 36:30, where Jeremiah repeats this prediction concerning Jehoiakim, it is said: His dead body shall be cast out (exposed) to the heat by day and to the cold by night, i.e., rot unburied under the open sky.

As to the fulfilment of this prophecy, we are told, indeed, in 2 Kings 24:6 that Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin, his son, was king in his stead. But the phrase “to sleep with his fathers” denotes merely departure from this life, without saying anything as to the manner of the death. It is not used only of kings who died a peaceful death on a sickbed, but of Ahab (1 Kings 22:40), who, mortally wounded in the battle, died in the war-chariot. There is no record of Jehoiakim’s funeral obsequies or burial in 2 Kings 24, and in Chron. there is not even mention made of his death. Three years after the first siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and after he had become tributary to the king of Babylon, Jehoiakim rose in insurrection, and Nebuchadnezzar sent against him the troops of the Chaldeans, Aramaeans, Moabites, and Ammonites. It was not till after the accession of Jehoiachin that Nebuchadnezzar himself appeared before Jerusalem and besieged it (2 Kings 24:1, 2, and 10). So it is in the highest degree probable that Jehoiakim fell in battle against the Chaldean-Syrian armies before Jerusalem was besieged, and while the enemies were advancing against the city; also that he was left to lie unburied outside of Jerusalem; see on 2 Kings 24:6, where other untenable attempts to harmonize are discussed. The absence of direct testimony to the fulfilment of the prophecy before us can be no ground for doubting that it was fulfilled, when we consider the great brevity of the notices of the last kings’ reigns given by the authors of the books of Kings and Chronicles. Graf’s remark hereon is excellent: “We have a warrant for the fulfilment of this prediction precisely in the fact that it is again expressly recounted in Jer. 36, a historical passage written certainly at a later time (Jer. 36:30 seems to contain but a slight reference to the prediction in 22:18, 19, 20); or, while 22:12, 25ff. tallies so completely with the history, is 22:18f. to be held as contradicting it?”

Jer. 22:20–23. The ruin about to fall on Judah.—V. 20. “Go up on Lebanon and cry, and lift up thy voice in Bashan and cry from Abarim; for broken are all thy lovers. V. 21. I spake to thee in thy prosperity; thou saidst: I will not hear; that was thy way from thy youth up, that thou hearkenedst not to my voice. V. 22. All thy shepherds the wind shall sweep away, and thy lovers shall go into captivity; yea, then shalt thou be put to shame and ashamed for all thy wickedness. V. 23. Thou that dwellest on Lebanon and makest thy nest on cedars, how shalt thou sigh when pangs come upon thee, pain as of a woman in travail!”—It is the people personified as the daughter of Zion, the collective population of Jerusalem and Judah, that is addressed, as in 7:29. She is to lift up her wailing cry upon the highest mountains, that it may be heard far and near. The peaks of the mountain masses that bordered Palestine are mentioned, from which one would have a view of the land; namely, Lebanon northwards, the mountains of Bashan (Ps. 86:16) to the north-east, those of Abarim to the south-east, amongst which was Mount Nebo, whence Moses viewed the land of Canaan, Num. 27:12, Deut. 32:49. She is to lament because all her lovers are destroyed. The lovers are not the kings (Ros., Ew., Neum. Näg.), nor the idols (Umbr.), but the allied nations (J. D. Mich., Maur., Hitz.), for whose favour Judah had intrigued (Jer. 4:30)—Egypt (Jer. 2:36) and the little neighbouring states (Jer. 27:3). All these nations were brought under the yoke by Nebuchadnezzar, and could not longer give Judah help (Jer. 28:14; 30:14). On the form צֳעָקִי, see Ew. 41, c.

Jer. 22:21. The cause of this calamity: because Judah in its prosperity had not hearkened to the voice of its God. שַׁלְוֹת, from שַׁלְוָה, security, tranquillity, state of well-being free from anxiety; the plur. denotes the peaceful, secure relations. Thus Judah had behaved from youth up, i.e., from the time it had become the people of God and been led out of captivity; see 2:2, Hos. 2:17.—In v. 22 תִּרְעֶה is chosen for the sake of the word-play with רֹעַיִךְ, and denotes to depasture, as in 2:16. As the storm-wind, especially the parching east wind, depastures, so to speak, the grass of the field, so will the storm about to break on Judah sweep away the shepherds, carry them off; cf. 13:24, Isa. 27:8, Job 27:21. The shepherds of the people are not merely the kings, but all its leaders, the authorities generally, as in 10:21; and “thy shepherds” is not equivalent to “thy lovers,” but the thought is this: Neither its allies nor its leaders will be able to help; the storm of calamity will sweep away the former, the latter must go captive. So that there is no need to alter רֹעַיִךְ into רֵעַיִךְ (Hitz.). With the last clause cf. 2:36. Then surely will the daughter of Zion, feeling secure in her cedar palaces, sigh bitterly. The inhabitants of Jerusalem are said to dwell in Lebanon and to have their nests in cedars in reference to the palaces of cedar belonging to the great and famous, who at the coming destruction will suffer most. As to the forms יֹשַׁבְתְּי and מְקֻנַּנְתְּי, see on 10:17. The explanation of the form נֵחַנְתְּי is disputed. Ros., Ges., and others take it for the Niph. of חָנַן, with the force: to be compassionated, thus: who deserving of pity or compassion wilt thou be! But this rendering does not give a very apt sense, even if it were not the case that the sig. to be worthy of pity is not approved by usage, and that it is nowhere taken from the Niph. We therefore prefer the derivation of the word from אנח, Niph. נֶאֱנַח, contr. נֵנַח, a derivative founded on the LXX rendering: τὶ καταστενάξεις, and Vulg. quomodo congemuisti. The only question that then remains is, whether the form נֵחַנְתְּ has arisen by transposition from נְנַחְתְּ, so as to avoid the coming together of the same letter at the beginning (Ew., Hitz., Gr.); or whether, with Böttch. ausf. Gramm. § 1124, B, it is to be held as a reading corrupted from נֵנַחְתִּי. With “pangs,” etc., cf. 13:21; 6:24.

Jer. 22:24–30. Against Jehoiachin or Jechoniah.—V. 24. “As I live, saith Jahveh, though Conjahu, the son of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, yet would I pluck him thence, V. 25. And give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them of whom thou art afraid, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans; V. 26. And will cast thee and thy mother that bare thee into another land where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. V. 27. And into the land whither they lift up their soul to return, thither shall they not return. V. 28. Is this man Conjahu a vessel despised and to be broken, or an utensil wherein one has no pleasure? V. 29. O land, land, land, hear the word of Jahveh! V. 30. Thus hath Jahveh said: Write down this man as childless, as a man that hath no prosperity in his life; for no man of his seed shall prosper that sitteth upon the throne of David and ruleth widely over Judah.”

The son and successor of Jehoiakim is called in 2 Kings 24:6ff., 2 Chron. 36:8f., Jer. 52:31, Jehojachin, and in Ezek. 1:2, Jojachin; here, vv. 24, 28, and 37:1, Conjahu; in 24:1, Jeconjahu; and in 27:20; 28:4; 29:2, Esth. 2:6, 1 Chron. 3:16, Jeconjah. The names Jeconjahu and abbreviated Jeconjah are equivalent to Jojachin and Jehojachin, i.e., Jahveh will establish. Jeconjah was doubtless his original name, and so stands in the family register, 1 Chron. 3:16, but was at his accession to the throne changed into Jehojachin or Jojachin, to make it liker his father’s name. The abbreviation of Jeconjahu into Conjahu is held by Hgstb. Christol. ii. p. 402, to be a change made by Jeremiah in order by cutting off the י (will establish) to cut off the hope expressed by the name, to make “a Jeconiah without the J, a ‘God will establish’ without the will.” For two reasons we cannot adopt this as the true view: 1. The general reason, that if Jeremiah had wished to adumbrate the fate of the three kings (Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin) by making changes in their names, he would then have changed the name of Jehoiakim in like manner as he did that of Jehoahaz into Shallum, and that of Jehoiachin into Conjahu. The argument by which Hgstb. seeks to justify the exception in the one case will not hold its own. Had Jeremiah thought it unseemly to practise a kind of conceit, for however solemn a purpose, on the name of the then reigning monarch, then neither could he have ventured on the like in the case of Jehoiachin; for the present prediction was not, as Hgstb. assumed, uttered before his accession, but, as may be seen from the title king of Judah, v. 24, after he had ascended the throne, was actually king. Besides. 2. the name Conjahu occurs also at 37:1, in a historical heading, as of equal dignity with Jeconjahu, 29:2; 28:4, etc., where a name proper only to prophetic discourse would not have been in place. The passages in which the prophets express the character and destiny of a person in a name specially formed for the purpose, are of another kind. There we have always: they shall call his name, or: his name shall be; cf. 33:16, Isa. 9:5; 62:4, Ezek. 48:35. That the name Jeconjah has not merely the prophet’s authority, is vouched for by 1 Chron. 3:15, Esth. 2:6, and by the historical notices, Jer. 24:1; 27:20; 28:4; 29:2. And the occurrence of the name Jojachin only in 2 Kings 24, 2 Chron. 36, Jer. 52:31, and Ezek. 1:2 is in consequence of the original documents used by the authors of these books, where, so to speak, the official names were made use of; whereas Jeremiah preferred the proper, original name which the man bore as the prince-royal and son of Jehoiakim, and which was therefore the current and best known one.

The utterance concerning Jechoniah is more distinct and decided than that concerning Jehoiakim. With a solemn oath the Lord not only causes to be made known to him that he is to be cast off and taken into exile, but further, that his descendants are debarred from the throne for ever. Nothing is said of his own conduct towards the Lord. In 2 Kings 24:9 and 2 Chron. 36:9 it is said of him that he did that which was displeasing to the Lord, even as his father had done. Ezekiel confirms this sentence when in 19:5–9 he portrays him as a young lion that devoured men, forced widows, and laid cities waste. The words of Jahveh: Although Conjahu were a signet ring on my right hand, convey no judgment as to his character, but simply mean: Although he were as precious a jewel in the Lord’s eyes as a signet ring (cf. Hag. 2:23), the Lord would nevertheless cast him away. כִּי before אִם introduces the body of the oath, as in v. 5, and is for rhetorical effect repeated before the apodosis, as in 2 Sam. 3:9; 2:27, etc. Although he were, sc. what he is not; not: although he is (Graf); for there is no proof for the remark: that as being the prince set by Jahveh over His people, he has really as close a connection with Him. Hitz.’s explanation is also erroneous: “even if, seeking help, he were to cling so closely to me as a ring does to the finger.” A most unnatural figure, not supported by reference to Cant. 8:6. As to אֶתְּקֶנְךָּ, from נָתַק with ן epenth., cf. Ew. § 250, b.—From v. 25 on, the discourse is addressed directly to Jechoniah, to make his rejection known to him. God will deliver him into the hand of his enemies, whom he fears, namely, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans, and cast him with his mother into a strange land, where he shall die. The mother was called Nehushta, 2 Kings 24:8, and is brought forward in 29:2 as גְּבִירָה. On the fulfilment of this threatening, see 2 Kings 24:12, 15, Jer. 24:1; 29:2. The construction הָאָרֶץ אַחֶרֶת is like that of הַגֶּפֶן נָכְרִיָּה, 2:21; and the absence of the article from אַחֶרֶת is no sufficient reason for holding it to be a gloss (Hitz.), or for taking the article in הָאָרֶץ to be a slip caused by עַל הָאָרֶץ, v. 27. To lift up their souls, i.e., to direct their longings, wishes, towards a thing, cf. Deut. 24:15, Hos. 4:8, etc.—The further sentence on Jechoniah was not pronounced after he had been carried captive, as Näg. infers from the perfects הוּטְלוּ and הֻשְׁלְכוּ. The perfects are prophetic. The question: Is this man a vessel despised and to be broken (עֶצֶב, vas fictile)? is an expression of sympathising regret on the part of the prophet for the unhappy fate of the king; but we may not hence conclude that Jeremiah regarded him as better than his father. The prophet’s sympathy for his fate regarded less the person of the unfortunate king than it did the fortunes of David’s royal seed, in that, of Jechoniah’s sons, none was to sit on the throne of David (v. 30). Ew. has excellently paraphrased the sense: “Although there is many a sympathising heart in the land that bitterly laments the hard fate of the dear young king, who along with his infant children has been (? will be) dragged away, yet it is God’s unchangeable decree that neither he nor any of his sons shall ascend the throne of David.” נָפוּץ, not: broken, but: that shall be broken (cf. Ew. § 335, b). Wherefore are they—he and his seed—cast out? At his accession Jehoiachin was eighteen years old, not eight, as by an error stands in 2 Chron. 36:9, see on 2 Kings 24:8; so that when taken captive, he might well enough have children, or at least one son, since his wives are expressly mentioned in the account of the captivity, 2 Kings 24:15. That the sons mentioned in 1 Chron. 3:16 and 17 were born to him in exile, cannot be inferred from that passage, rightly understood, see on that passage. The fact that no sons are mentioned in connection with the carrying captive is simply explained by the fact that they were still infants.

Jer. 22:29. The land is to take the king’s fate sore to heart. The triple repetition of the summons: Land, gives it a special emphasis, and marks the following sentence as of high importance; cf. 7:4, Ezek. 21:32, Isa. 6:3. Write him down, record him in the family registers, as childless, i.e., as a man with whom his race becomes extinct. This is more definitely intimated in the parallel member, namely, that he will not have the fortune to have any of his posterity sit on the throne of David. This does not exclude the possibility of his having sons; it merely implies that none of them should obtain the throne. עֲרִירִי sig. lit., solitary, forsaken. Thus a man might well be called who has lost his children by death. Acc. to 1 Chron. 3:16f., Jechoniah had two sons, Zedekiah and Assir, of whom the former died childless, the second had but one daughter; and from her and her husband, of the line of Nathan, was born Shealtiel, who also died childless; see the expos. of 1 Chron. 3:16f. Jechoniah was followed on the throne by his uncle Mattaniah, whom Nebuchadnezzar installed under the name of Zedekiah. He it was that rose in insurrection against the king of Babylon, and after the capture of Jerusalem was taken prisoner while in flight; and being carried before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, saw his sons put to death before his eyes, was then made blind, thrown in chains, and carried a prisoner to Babylon, 2 Kings 25:4ff.    Commentary on the Old Testament: Jeremiah, Lamentations(Vol. VIII)

scroll to top screenshot      by Prof. Nathan Aviezer

     Where did the universe come from? A person of faith would probably answer that the universe was created out of nothing, as stated in the first verse of the Torah. Such an answer was long considered a scientific impossibility, because it contradicted the law of the conservation of matter and energy. According to this law of science, which was established in the middle of the nineteenth century, matter and energy can be changed from one form to another, but something cannot come from nothing. Therefore, scientists viewed the universe as eternal, thus neatly avoiding questions regarding its origin. The Torah assertion that the universe was created, presumably from nothing, became an area of conflict between Torah and science. That is how matters stood for many years.

     This situation has now completely changed. The twentieth century witnessed an unprecedented explosion of scientific knowledge, which was nowhere more dramatic than in cosmology, the discipline that deals with the origin and development of the universe. Astronomers had been studying the heavenly bodies for thousands of years, but their studies dealt exclusively with charting the paths of the stars, planets, and comets, and determining their composition, spectrum, and other properties. The origin of the heavenly bodies remained a complete mystery.

     Important advances in cosmology during the past few decades have, for the first time, permitted scientists to construct a coherent history of the origin of the universe.

     Today, an overwhelming body of scientific evidence supports the “big bang” theory of cosmology.1 There are four major pieces of evidence: (1) the discovery in 1965 of the remnant of the initial ball of light, (2) the hydrogen-to-helium ratio in the universe, (3) the Hubble expansion of the galaxies, and (4) the perfect black-body spectrum of the microwave background radiation measured by the COBE space satellite in 1990.

     Only the big bang theory can account for all these observations, and therefore this theory is now accepted by all mainstream cosmologists.

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  • 1. See N. Aviezer, 1990, In the Beginning (Ktav Publishing House: New York).
  • 2. P. A. M. Dirac, 1972, Commentarii, vol. 2, no. 11, p. 15.
  • 3. A. H. Guth, May 1984, Scientific American, p. 102.
  • 4. S. W. Hawking, 1973, The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time (Cambridge University Press), p. 364
  • 5. J. Silk, 1989, The Big Bang (W. H. Freeman: New York), p. xi.
  • 6. B. Greene, 1999, The Elegant Universe (Jonathan Cape: London), pp. 345-346.
  • 7. J. A. Wheeler, 1998, Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam (W. W. Norton: New York), p. 350.
  • 8. Greene, pp. 347, 350.
  • 9. J. B. Soloveitchik, Spring 1965, Tradition, pp. 5-67.
  • 10. See the adaptation of the 1965 Soloveitchik essay (especially p. 8) by A. R. Besdin, 1989, Man of Faith in the Modern World (Ktav: New York), pp. 36-37.
  • 11. S. J. Gould, 1989, Wonderful Life (W. W. Norton: New York), p. 14.
  • 12. D. M. Raup, 1991, Extinctions: Bad Genes or Bad Luck? (Oxford University Press).
  • 13. N. Eldredge, 1985, Time Frames (Simon and Schuster: New York), p. 87.
  • 14. N. Eldredge and I. Tattersall, 1982, The Myths of Human Evolution (Columbia University Press: New York), p. 154.
  • 15. G. Gale, December 1981, “Anthropic Principle,” Scientific American, pp. 114-122.
  • 16. S. Mitton, editor-in-chief, 1987, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy (Jonathan Cape: London), p. 125.
--- ... from Jewish Life magazine.

“God Is Not Needed to Explain the Fine-Tuning of the Universe”

By J. Warner Wallace 10/24/2016

     In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone said, “Christians sometimes point to the appearance of fine-tuning in the universe as proof that God exists. But you don’t need God to explain this fine-tuning.” How would you respond to such a statement? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

     “I’ve worked cases where the killer actually ‘fine-tuned’ the scenario to make it possible for the murder to take place. I investigated one case, for example, where the suspect restored gas service to his home, closed the doors and windows in an unusual way, and even stacked clothing up against a bedroom door to make sure the victim died in her bedroom as the result of asphyxiation. The suspect controlled the circumstances on many levels and layers to make sure the death took place; he ‘fine-tuned’ the house and its property from the external yard, to the house, to the room itself. When you see this kind of multi-level tampering, the most reasonable inference is the existence of a tamperer. Either that, or it’s just an unreasonably coincidental set of circumstances.

     The universe is so incredibly fine-tuned, and even atheists admit there is an appearance of fine-tuning. At the foundational level, the constants of the universe; all the forces in the atom, including the weak nuclear force, the strong nuclear force, in addition to the forces of electromagnetism and gravity (along with many more universal constants) are incredibly fine-tuned to assure the existence of our universe and the appearance of biological life. At a regional level, our galaxy possesses a particular shape, size, mass, density, and location that allows life to emerge. Our solar system is also fine-tuned for the existence of life. Our sun’s location in the galaxy, it’s size, mass and nature are perfectly life-permitting. Finally, at what I call the ‘locational’ level, Earth is also finely tuned with a particular atmosphere, terrestrial crust, size, tilt, distance from the sun and existence of a moon that allows life to emerge.

     Given all these levels of apparent fine-tuning, it’s reasonable to ask the question: how do we explain these layers of tampering, while at the same time, rejecting the existence of a tamperer? There are only a few ways to do this. First, you might ask: is this fine-tuning the result of chance? When you investigate at the improbability of this explanation, especially when we recognize the multi-layered nature of the fine-tuning, it’s unreasonable to explain what we see as a matter of chance. Another way to explain the appearance of fine-tuning is to argue that it’s inevitable based on the existence of the ‘natural laws’ than govern the universe. But this second explanation is rejected even by atheist astrophysicists. Many of these scientists claim our universe could possess entirely different universal constants (although an alternate universe of this nature would be unable to support the existence of life like ours). Finally, multiverse theories are growing in their popularity as an explanation for the fine-tuning in our universe. If there’s an infinite number of universes in a multiverse system, one like ours could exist simply on the basis of probability. But multiverse theories are incredibly controversial, even among atheist scientists, because the evidence for a multiverse is not commonly recognized and multiverse theories necessitate the existence of every kind of possible universe, including parallel universes (and even universes in which God exists – a notion unacceptable to atheist thinkers).

     There’s a better explanation for the multi-layered fine-tuning we see in our universe; it’s the existence of a cosmic fine-tuner. The universe displays the fingerprints of its Creator.”

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J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:

What Are The Two Most Important Christian Virtues Today?

By Sean McDowell 10/31/2016

     What would you say are the most important virtues for Christians to cultivate today? Believe it or not, but this is a question I have been wrestling with for some time. This post is not meant to downplay any Christian virtue, or to claim that some are not needed. Christians are certainly called to be like Christ and to exemplify all the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-21). Rather, my goal is to ask what virtues are most critical today in light of our current cultural milieu.

     I would welcome your thoughts and critique, but here is my conclusion (in advance): In light of our secular culture that increasingly considers classic Christian beliefs extreme, irrelevant, and sometimes even dangerous, the most pressing virtues for Christians to cultivate are courage and kindness.

     The Case for Courage | Courage has arguably been cheapened in our culture. We think it’s courageous to speak out on a particular subject on Facebook. We think it’s courageous to tweet our support for a candidate or social cause. While these things are fine in themselves, and sometimes even helpful, Christians need to embrace a much more radical kind of courage—the kind of courage we see in Jesus, the apostles, and many other leaders throughout church history.

     Consider the apostles of Jesus. They were threatened, imprisoned, jailed and even threatened with their lives. And yet on behalf of the apostles, Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The apostles feared the judgment of God more than they feared the opinions of men. In fact, as I demonstrate in The Fate of the Apostles, they so deeply believed in the resurrection that they valued faithfulness to God above their own comfort. They were willing to sacrifice everything, including their own lives, rather than compromise their convictions.

     While faithfulness to Jesus doesn’t presently cost Christians their lives in the West, the temperature is being turned up. And the cost is getting greater. If this story is correct, pastors may even be imprisoned for preaching biblical truth within the church.

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     Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, a part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.Books By Sean McDowell

Sean McDowell Books:

Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
A New Kind of Apologist: *Adopting Fresh Strategies *Addressing the Latest Issues *Engaging the Culture
The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage (Thoughtful Response)
ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
More Than a Carpenter

Approaching The Existence Of God

By Chab123 (Eric Chabot) 10/24/2016

     How do we know God exists? In the past when I was asked this question I used to automatically jump to an argument for God. I would sit down and try to explain it in detail to the individual. I have now decided to take a different approach and back up: I ask the person “How should we approach the existence of God?” or “ What method should we use?” Now, I know that when you ask a Christian, Jewish person, Muslim, or Mormon how they know what they believe is true, they might just say, “I have faith.” This should cause us to stop and ask if that is an adequate answer. It probably won’t go very far in a skeptical and pluralistic culture. So in this post I want to discuss some of the various ways we can approach the existence of God. I am well aware that there are other methods as well.

     #1: The Revelatory Approach | The skeptical issue in our culture mostly enters into the religious dialogue in the following way: In the case of God, who isn’t some physical object but a divine being, what kind of evidence should we expect to find? There is a tendency to forget that the Bible stresses that sin can dampen the cognitive faculties that God has given us to find Him. Therefore, sin has damaging consequences on the knowing process (Is. 6:9-10; Zech. 7:11-12; Matt. 13:10-13). Thus, people are dead, blinded, and bound to sin.

     Christianity stresses that the God of the Bible is capable of giving a revelation to mankind through a specific medium. One of the most important themes of the Bible is this- since God is free and personal, he acts on behalf of those whom he loves, and his actions include already within history, a partial disclosure of his nature, attributes, and intensions. Revelation is a disclosure of something that has been hidden– an “uncovering,” or “unveiling.” There are three things that are needed for a revelation to take place: God, a medium, and a being able to receive the revelation.

     The mediums God uses in the Bible are General Revelation (The Created Order/Conscience; Rom. 1&2); Special Revelation: Jesus (John 3:16; 14:9; Colossians 2:9; Heb. 1:1-2), The Bible (2 Tim. 3:16); Miracles, Prophecy, Theophanies, Missionaries/Messengers, and other means as well.

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     Chab123 (Eric Chabot): Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society

     Motivating God’s people to understand the need for outreach and apologetic training, contemporary issues in the culture, the need for Christians to engage the university, confronting the current intellectual crisis in the local congregation, philosophy of religion, epistemology, the resurrection, Christian origins, the relationship between early Christology and Jewish monotheism, the relationship between the Tanakh (acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings) and the New Testament, the relationship between Israel and the church, Christian theism and other worldviews, apologetic systems, historical method, the genre of the New Testament, the relationship between science and theology, and biblical hermeneutics.

     Ministry Experience: Campus outreach minister since 2004.

     Founder and Director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry at the The Ohio State University. Website: http://ratiochristi.org/. We have had several well known speakers to the campus such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Michael Licona, Michael Brown, Paul Nelson and others. We have also done students debates on the campus.

  • Love 1
  • Sin & Church Acts 4:32–5:11
  • Life 2 John 11:37–46

  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Forgiveness and inner healing
     (Oct 26)    Bob Gass

     ‘Who forgives all your iniquities’

(Ps 103:3) who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, ESV

     The psalmist wrote, ‘Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases.’ Notice which comes first: the consciousness that all your sins are forgiven precedes the healing of all your diseases. Note also the words ‘all your iniquities’. Some of us are comfortable with receiving partial forgiveness, but we refuse to allow God’s forgiveness to touch some dark areas we can’t let go of, and that we refuse to forgive ourselves for. Whatever those mistakes may be, allow God to forgive all your sins, and receive healing for all your diseases. Let the past go. Let the mistakes go. Allow yourself to be free, and learn to forgive yourself by receiving with an open heart God’s total and complete forgiveness. Stop hurting yourself, because Jesus was hurt for all your sins. Stop beating yourself up, because Jesus took all your beatings at the cross. Stop punishing yourself, because Jesus has received all the punishment due on your behalf. It’s time to stop asking yourself if you’ve done enough to earn God’s forgiveness and acceptance. They are undeserved - they cannot be achieved by struggle and self-effort; they can only be received by faith. If you gave someone you loved a birthday gift and they insisted on paying for it, how would you feel? Hurt? Upset? That’s how God feels when you try to ‘earn’ His forgiveness, healing, and righteousness. The more you let the waterfall of God’s grace and forgiveness wash over you every day, the more you’ll receive His health for your body and His soundness for your mind.

Jer 48-49

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On this day October 26, 1774, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts reorganized their defense with one-third of their regiments being “Minutemen.” They were known as such because they would be ready to fight at a minute’s notice. They charged the Minutemen: “You… are placed by Providence in the post of honor, because it is the post of danger…. The eyes not only of North America and the whole British Empire, but of all Europe, are upon you. Let us be, therefore, altogether solicitous that no disorderly behavior, nothing unbecoming our characters as Americans, as citizens and Christians, be justly chargeable to us.”

American Minute

The Soul of Prayer
     by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)

II.     The whole nature, indeed, is the will of God, and the whole of grace is striving with nature. It is our nature to have certain passions. That is God’s will. But it is our calling of God to resist them as much as to gratify them. There are there as God’s will to be resisted as much as indulged. The redemption from the natural man includes the resistance to it, and the release of the soul from what God Himself appointed as its lower stages—never as its dwelling place, and never its tomb. So far prayer is on the lines of evolution.

     Obedience is the chief end. But obedience is not mere submission, mere resignation. It is not always acquiescence, even in prayer. We obey God as much when we urge our suit, and make a real petition of it, as when we accept His decision; as much when we try to change His will as when we bow to it. The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence. There is a very fine passage in Dante, Parad. xx. 94 (Longfellow):

  Regnum coelorum suffereth violence
  From fervent love, and from that living hope
  That overcometh the divine volition.
  Not in the way that man o’ercometh man;
  We conquer it because it will be conquered,
  And, conquered, conquers by benignity.

     It is His will—His will of grace—that prayer should prevail with Him and extract blessings. And how we love the grace that so concedes them! The answer to prayer is not the complaisance of a playful power lightly yielding to the playful egoism of His favorites. “Our antagonist is our helper.” To struggle with Him is one way of doing His will. To resist is one way of saying, “Thy will be done.” It was God’s will that Christ should deprecate the death God required. It pleased God as much as His submission to death. But could it have been pleasing to Him that Christ should pray so, if no prayer could ever possibly change God’s will? Could Christ have prayed so in that belief? Would faith ever inspire us to pray if the God of our faith must be unmoved by prayers? The prayer that goes to an inflexible God, however good He is, is prayer that rises more from human need than from God’s own revelation, or from Christian faith (where Christian prayer should rise). It is His will, then, that we should pray against what seems His will, and what, for the lower stage of our growth, is His will. And all this without any unreality whatever.

--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).

The Soul of Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Nothing is more generally known
than our duties which belong to Christianity;
and yet,
how amazing is it,
nothing is less practiced?
--- George Whitefield

A man who was completely innocent,
offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others,
including his enemies,
and became the ransom of the world.
It was a perfect act.
--- Mohandas Gandhi

There are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion
That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble
Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret,
Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together.
--- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     BOOK VII.

     Containing The Interval Of About Three Years. From The Taking Of Jerusalem By Titus To The Sedition At Cyrene

     CHAPTER 1.

     How The Entire City Of Jerusalem Was Demolished, Excepting Three Towers; And How Titus Commended His Soldiers In A Speech Made To Them, And Distributed Rewards To Them And Then Dismissed Many Of Them.

     1. Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury, [for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done,] Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison, as were the towers also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.

     2. But Caesar resolved to leave there, as a guard, the tenth legion, with certain troops of horsemen, and companies of footmen. So, having entirely completed this war, he was desirous to commend his whole army, on account of the great exploits they had performed, and to bestow proper rewards on such as had signalized themselves therein. He had therefore a great tribunal made for him in the midst of the place where he had formerly encamped, and stood upon it with his principal commanders about him, and spake so as to be heard by the whole army in the manner following: That he returned them abundance of thanks for their good-will which they had showed to him: he commended them for that ready obedience they had exhibited in this whole war, which obedience had appeared in the many and great dangers which they had courageously undergone; as also for that courage they had shown, and had thereby augmented of themselves their country's power, and had made it evident to all men, that neither the multitude of their enemies, nor the strength of their places, nor the largeness of their cities, nor the rash boldness and brutish rage of their antagonists, were sufficient at any time to get clear of the Roman valor, although some of them may have fortune in many respects on their side. He said further, that it was but reasonable for them to put an end to this war, now it had lasted so long, for that they had nothing better to wish for when they entered into it; and that this happened more favorably for them, and more for their glory, that all the Romans had willingly accepted of those for their governors, and the curators of their dominions, whom they had chosen for them, and had sent into their own country for that purpose, which still continued under the management of those whom they had pitched on, and were thankful to them for pitching upon them. That accordingly, although he did both admire and tenderly regard them all, because he knew that every one of them had gone as cheerfully about their work as their abilities and opportunities would give them leave; yet, he said, that he would immediately bestow rewards and dignities on those that had fought the most bravely, and with greater force, and had signalized their conduct in the most glorious manner, and had made his army more famous by their noble exploits; and that no one who had been willing to take more pains than another should miss of a just retribution for the same; for that he had been exceeding careful about this matter, and that the more, because he had much rather reward the virtues of his fellow soldiers than punish such as had offended.

     3. Hereupon Titus ordered those whose business it was to read the list of all that had performed great exploits in this war, whom he called to him by their names, and commended them before the company, and rejoiced in them in the same manner as a man would have rejoiced in his own exploits. He also put on their heads crowns of gold, and golden ornaments about their necks, and gave them long spears of gold, and ensigns that were made of silver, and removed every one of them to a higher rank; and besides this, he plentifully distributed among them, out of the spoils, and the other prey they had taken, silver, and gold, and garments. So when they had all these honors bestowed on them, according to his own appointment made to every one, and he had wished all sorts of happiness to the whole army, he came down, among the great acclamations which were made to him, and then betook himself to offer thank-offerings [to the gods], and at once sacrificed a vast number of oxen, that stood ready at the altars, and distributed them among the army to feast on. And when he had staid three days among the principal commanders, and so long feasted with them, he sent away the rest of his army to the several places where they would be every one best situated; but permitted the tenth legion to stay, as a guard at Jerusalem, and did not send them away beyond Euphrates, where they had been before. And as he remembered that the twelfth legion had given way to the Jews, under Cestius their general, he expelled them out of all Syria, for they had lain formerly at Raphanea, and sent them away to a place called Meletine, near Euphrates, which is in the limits of Armenia and Cappadocia; he also thought fit that two of the legions should stay with him till he should go to Egypt. He then went down with his army to that Cesarea which lay by the sea-side, and there laid up the rest of his spoils in great quantities, and gave order that the captives should be kept there; for the winter season hindered him then from sailing into Italy.

     The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 27:18
     by D.H. Stern

18     Whoever tends the fig tree will eat its fruit,
and he who is attentive to his master will be honored.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

What is a missionary?

     As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.
--- John 20:21.

     A missionary is one sent by Jesus Christ as He was sent by God. The great dominant note is not the needs of men, but the command of Jesus. The source of our inspiration in work for God is behind, not before. The tendency to-day is to put the inspiration ahead, to sweep everything in front of us and bring it all out to our conception of success. In the New Testament the inspiration is put behind us, the Lord Jesus. The ideal is to be true to Him, to carry out His enterprises.

     Personal attachment to the Lord Jesus and His point of view is the one thing that must not be overlooked. In missionary enterprise the great danger is that God’s call is effaced by the needs of the people until human sympathy absolutely overwhelms the meaning of being sent by Jesus. The needs are so enormous, the conditions so perplexing, that every power of mind falters and fails. We forget that the one great reason underneath all missionary enterprise is not first the elevation of the people, nor the education of the people, nor their needs; but first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ—“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.”

     When looking back on the lives of men and women of God the tendency is to say—‘What wonderfully astute wisdom they had! How perfectly they understood all God wanted!’ The astute mind behind is the Mind of God, not human wisdom at all. We give credit to human wisdom when we should give credit to the Divine guidance of God through childlike people who were foolish enough to trust God’s wisdom and the supernatural equipment of God.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


Your move I would have
  said, but he was not
  playing; my game a dilemma
  that was without horns.

As though one can sit at table
  with God ! His mind shines
  on the black and the white
  squares. We stake our all

on the capture of the one
  queen, as though to hold life
  to ransom. He, if he plays, plays
  unconcernedly among the pawns.


     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     Just as one accepts the evidence of two witnesses in a court, even though such witnesses may in fact be lying, so too does the law demand that one accept a person as a prophet on the basis of miracles. Although one is never absolutely certain whether witnesses are telling the truth, a judge is required to accept their testimony because this is the accepted legal procedure. Similarly the community must listen to a prophet even though there are rational grounds for suspecting miracles to be the works of clever sleight of hand.

     Consequently a prophet cannot abrogate the laws of the Torah, since it is the authority of this legal system that makes miracles acceptable evidence for assuming the role of prophet. (This only applies to the political function of the prophet and not to prophecy which is related to individual perfection.) (ISBN-13: 978-0385514088) Whereas such prophets require the legal validation of the Torah, Moses’ authority has been established not by the rules of a legal system but by the participation of the community in the theophany at Sinai. This experience yields an absolute certainty in Mosaic authority and must not be questioned by a prophet lest the grounds for his authority be undermined.

     What is important, for our purposes, is that the prophet’s authority takes place within a context limiting that which he can legitimately demand. A further restriction on prophetic authority emerges with the relationship of prophecy and the elaboration of Halakhah:

     And know, that prophecy is not effective in the study and interpretation of the Torah and the inferring of laws by the thirteen hermeneutic principles; rather what Joshua and Pinḥas do in matters of study and argument is [the same as] what Ravina and Rav Ashi do.

     The appeal to prophetic authority in the elaboration and clarification of the laws of Torah is inadmissible despite the fact that the prophet, in calling upon revelation to decide an argument, is attempting to interpret the system, not to abrogate it nor to question Mosaic authority. In matters of legal argumentation and decision-making, the prophet is like any man who uses arguments to defend his position.

     One of Maimonides’ reasons for excluding prophecy from halakhic argumentation involves a theory of halakhic reasoning which cannot permit the intrusion of appeals to prophetic authority:

     And so, if a Prophet claims that God told him that the judgment [pesak] in any given commandment is such and that the argument of so-and-so is correct, behold that Prophet is killed; for he is a false prophet as we have explained, for there is no revelation of Torah after the first messenger [Moses] and there is no addition and no diminution, “It is not in the heavens” (
Deut. 30:12). And God did not assign us to Prophets but he assigned us to wise men, masters of argument. He did not say, “And you shall appear before the Prophet”; rather He said, “And [you shall] appear before the levitical priests, or the magistrate …” (Deut. 17:9). And the Sages have dealt at great length with this issue and it is correct.

     Besides appealing to the paradigm-text which excludes legislative prophecy after Moses, “It is not in heaven,” Maimonides presents what he believes to be the implication of the text, “And you shall appear before the levitical priests or the magistrate.…” The addition of this text, and the obvious distinction between “prophet” and “priests or magistrate” (masters of Halakhah), defines a fundamental difference between appeals to the authority of prophecy and to halakhic argumentation. The disparate logics of these two modes of discourse are, we believe, the basis of this Maimonidean concept. Maimonides is claiming that prophecy is excluded from halakhic procedures of argument and decision-making due to the epistemological status of halakhic reasoning. To substantiate and clarify this interpretation, we shall examine how Maimonides uses the text-category, “And [you shall] appear before the levitical priests, or the magistrate …,” in another section of his introduction.

     Maimonides distinguishes between laws that stem directly from Sinai and laws that result from the application of halakhic rules of reasoning. The former is subdivided into a) laws that, although known independently of biblical interpretation, can be supported in some way by exegesis or hermeneutic reasoning (perush mekubal mi-Moshe), and b) laws which cannot be supported by either of these (halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai). The common characteristic of these two types of laws is that they appeal to the authority of God and thus, with regard to them, no disagreement is possible. Any law which appears to have come from Sinai is accepted as normative; one must only prove that the chain of transmission was never broken and that the transmitters were trustworthy. The presence of disagreement in laws based on Sinai can only be due to an uncertainty to the chain of tradition. It makes no sense to argue against a law which one accepts as having emanated from God Himself. Thus disagreement is logically excluded, as long as one trusts the claims of tradition.

     Maimonides asserts that there has never been any disagreement regarding the laws for which the authority of Sinai is claimed. However another body of law exists which does allow for disagreement; there is no claim for its emanation from Sinai. It does issue from the application of talmudic rules of hermeneutics which serve as principles by which men can analyze texts and infer laws. Maimonides writes that after the death of Moses, Joshua and his generation developed laws on the basis of halakhic reasoning in areas where there was no Mosaic legislation. Maimonides writes:

     And with regard to the issues which they learned [by rules of hermeneutics] there are matters in which there was no disagreement but there was unanimity [Ijma], and some cases where there was disagreement between two views, one person arguing with an argument [Qiyas] which appeared strongest to him and another with an argument [Qiyas] which appeared strongest to him. For in the ways of argumentative reasoning such occurrences will result, and when such a disagreement occurs we follow the majority, as Scripture says, “After the many to follow” (
Ex. 23:2).

     In this area of Halakhah, disagreement is possible due to the inherent nature of laws which emerge from legal reasoning. Law based on reasoning is not defended by appealing to authority, but to the compelling force of argument. Such laws appeal to human understanding and not to loyalty to authority. Disagreement within this body of law does not imply a lack of loyalty to authority; the logic of the appeal of such laws points to the reasonableness of the argument, not to the status of the person who promulgated the law.

     Majority rule is a procedure for resolving disagreement when a verdict is necessary, e.g., when social order requires uniform modes of behavior. It is not a procedure for ascertaining truth, since the rejected position has not been shown to be false. Even when the Talmud declares the law to be as one of the disputants, the rejected opinion is still mentioned in the Talmud. The Halakhah permits a judge to disagree with the decision of the highest court as long as he does not encourage deviant practice which would undermine social stability:

     If the Elder is the outstanding member of a court and he dissents from a decision by the Supreme Court, persists in communicating his opinion to others, but does not give it in the form of a practical ruling, he is not liable, for it is said, “and the man that does presumptuously” (
Deut. 17:12), that is, not who says presumptuously but who instructs others to act upon his opinion or acts upon it himself.

     Maimonides in his Commentary to the Mishnah claims, however, that this distinction between disagreeing and rendering a decision does not apply to fundamental principles of Judaism or norms grounded in the authority of Sinai. To question a norm based on Sinai or a fundamental belief is to question that which is not subject to disagreement. However, in matters of law based on the thirteen hermeneutic principles, disagreement by the judge does not imply disloyalty to the authority of tradition, but is instead a legitimate response to laws which allow for reasoned disagreement.

     The failure to discriminate between the logic of different types of laws led many people to attribute legal disagreements in the Talmud to the lack of attentiveness of students to their teachers. Ibn Daud, in his Book of Tradition, writes:

     Now should anyone infected with heresy attempt to mislead you, saying: “It is because the Rabbis differed on a number of issues that I doubt their words,” you should retort bluntly and inform him that he is a “rebel against the decision of the Court”; and that our Rabbis, of blessed memory, never differed with respect to a commandment in principle, but only with respect to its details; for they had heard the principle from their teachers, but had not inquired as to its details, since they had not waited upon their masters sufficiently.

     Maimonides would disagree with this method of protecting the rabbinic tradition from the attack of Karaites. To Maimonides disagreement is not the result of a lack of attentiveness to details, a lack which in principle could have been avoided, but is the natural outcome of developing a law based on reasoning:

     But the opinion of one who thought that also the laws wherein there is disagreement are received from Moses, and that disagreement took place due to an error in receiving the tradition [kabbalah] or due to forgetfulness, i.e., that one [disputant] is correct in his tradition and the second errs in his tradition, or he forgot or he did not hear from his teacher all that he should have; and he [who holds this opinion] offers as evidence for this what they said, “When the disciples [of Shammai and Hillel] who had insufficiently studied, increased in number, disputes multiplied in Israel and the Torah became as two Torot” (T.B. Sanhedrin 88b). Behold this, as God knows, is a despicable and very strange position, and it is an incorrect matter and not compatible to principles. And he [who holds this position] suspects people from whom we received the Torah and all this is idle. What brought them to this deficient view is the limitation of their knowledge of the words of the Sages in the Talmud, since they found the category “laws received from Moses” [perush mekubal mi-Moshe] and it is correct according to the principles discussed earlier, but they did not distinguish between received principles and new matters that were learned by ways of analysis.

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     October 26

     None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:8.

     The Pharisees’ other error proved the more tragic.  The Galilean Accent - Being Some Studies in the Christian Life  They stood for the old ways and the accepted forms of things, and they were simply inhospitable to new light, incredulous that there was any more to find. Their fathers had been given amazing spiritual experiences, and they not only remembered them with gratitude and founded on them, as was fitting, but took it for granted that the way God acted then must be the way he would act now. They forgot that God was alive in their day too. They had no expectation of any further news bursting in to them from God. When rumors of that reached them, at once and without examination they discredited them as impossible and unauthentic. Boldly they laid it down that their poor, passing conceptions were a perfect reflection of God’s thoughts. Their theories were not simply theories but the eternal facts, which must not be altered. Moses said this! Moses did that! they said, and for them that was final. And when Jesus stood forth and said, “No doubt he did, but I now tell you something wholly different and vastly better,” they clapped horrified hands over their outraged ears and would not listen. They resolved that this appalling person must be hustled out of the way. For if these notions of his spread abroad, why, plainly, there is an end of religion!

     [Christ] looked with compassion at these dull, angry souls, shut into their corner of a world, mistaking their dim, smoky rushlights for God’s sun. The prophets grow quite fierce over that habit of either looking back wistfully to the days when God really was God and things really happened, whereas now our lot is cast; or else assuming that what they have is all that they can have.

     But Christ is very gentle. No one, he says, prefers new wine to old, and to be satisfied with the familiar is all but universal. He did not think it strange that many did not take to him at once, and he was content to wait. Nonetheless, he urges us to keep our minds open and our hearts expectant—on the lookout for God. Not to do so, he indicates, is a moral failure that may have tragic consequences. For it was no hideous and ugly sin but just a narrowness of mind, an unwillingness to credit or even consider what was new and unaccustomed, a dislike of being jostled out of their settled lines of thought—that set up Christ’s cross on Calvary!
--- Arthur John Gossip

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day   October 26
     A Charming Man

     Thomas More was hard to dislike. “I am entirely devoted to this man,” wrote Italian scholar Niccolo Sagundino. “I often relax in his delightful company as one might lodge in some beautiful place. I never see him without his sending me away better informed and more attached to him. You could not imagine, I assure you, a more agreeable, charming, and amusing man. His wonderful elegance as a writer, his choice of words and well-rounded sentences are universally admired, but no more so than his keen mind, set off by fairness, humor, wit, and courtesy.”

     Dean Swift thought More the greatest man of virtue “this kingdom ever produced.” Erasmus agreed. He described More as cheerful, having quick humor and ready smile, being a faithful husband, a persuasive orator, a man alert. “In short,” said Erasmus, “what did Nature ever create milder, sweeter, and happier than the genius of Thomas More.”

     These merits propelled More to the highest office in England on October 26, 1529, when he was named Lord Chancellor under King Henry VIII. But it proved his undoing, for More was a deeply religious man. He gave liberally to the needy, sang in the choir of his parish church in Chelsea, led in family prayer each night, and built a small chapel by his house for personal prayer and Bible study. Here he occasionally engaged in self-flagellation with a whip of knotted cords in the medieval manner. He was devoted to his church. He forcibly opposed Protestants. He was a man of principle.

     Henry VIII didn’t like men of principle, and he was incensed when his Lord Chancellor refused to obtain from the pope the desired divorce from Catherine of Aragon. He was further enraged when More refused to recognize him as head of the Church of England. Henry imprisoned him in the Tower of London and tried him for treason. On July 7, 1535, Thomas More mounted the scaffold and told the hushed crowd that he died being the “king’s good servant, but God’s first.” Then he read Psalm 51 and laid his head carefully on the block.

     I have sinned and done wrong since the day I was born. But you want complete honesty, so teach me true wisdom. Wash me with hyssop until I am clean and whiter than snow.
--- Psalm 51:5-7.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - October 26

     “Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.” --- Haggai 1:9.

     Churlish souls stint their contributions to the ministry and missionary operations, and call such saving good economy; little do they dream that they are thus impoverishing themselves. Their excuse is that they must care for their own families, and they forget that to neglect the house of God is the sure way to bring ruin upon their own houses. Our God has a method in providence by which he can succeed our endeavours beyond our expectation, or can defeat our plans to our confusion and dismay; by a turn of his hand he can steer our vessel in a profitable channel, or run it aground in poverty and bankruptcy. It is the teaching of Scripture that the Lord enriches the liberal and leaves the miserly to find out that withholding tendeth to poverty. In a very wide sphere of observation, I have noticed that the most generous Christians of my acquaintance have been always the most happy, and almost invariably the most prosperous. I have seen the liberal giver rise to wealth of which he never dreamed; and I have as often seen the mean, ungenerous churl descend to poverty by the very parsimony by which he thought to rise. Men trust good stewards with larger and larger sums, and so it frequently is with the Lord; he gives by cartloads to those who give by bushels. Where wealth is not bestowed the Lord makes the little much by the contentment which the sanctified heart feels in a portion of which the tithe has been dedicated to the Lord. Selfishness looks first at home, but godliness seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, yet in the long run selfishness is loss, and godliness is great gain. It needs faith to act towards our God with an open hand, but surely he deserves it of us; and all that we can do is a very poor acknowledgment of our amazing indebtedness to his goodness.

          Evening - October 26

     “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” --- Ecclesiastes 1:7.

     Everything sublunary is on the move, time knows nothing of rest. The solid earth is a rolling ball, and the great sun himself a star obediently fulfilling its course around some greater luminary. Tides move the sea, winds stir the airy ocean, friction wears the rock: change and death rule everywhere. The sea is not a miser’s storehouse for a wealth of waters, for as by one force the waters flow into it, by another they are lifted from it. Men are born but to die: everything is hurry, worry, and vexation of spirit. Friend of the unchanging Jesus, what a joy it is to reflect upon thy changeless heritage; thy sea of bliss which will be for ever full, since God himself shall pour eternal rivers of pleasure into it. We seek an abiding city beyond the skies, and we shall not be disappointed. The passage before us may well teach us gratitude. Father Ocean is a great receiver, but he is a generous distributor. What the rivers bring him he returns to the earth in the form of clouds and rain. That man is out of joint with the universe who takes all but makes no return. To give to others is but sowing seed for ourselves. He who is so good a steward as to be willing to use his substance for his Lord, shall be entrusted with more. Friend of Jesus, art thou rendering to him according to the benefit received? Much has been given thee, what is thy fruit? Hast thou done all? Canst thou not do more? To be selfish is to be wicked. Suppose the ocean gave up none of its watery treasure, it would bring ruin upon our race. God forbid that any of us should follow the ungenerous and destructive policy of living unto ourselves. Jesus pleased not himself. All fulness dwells in him, but of his fulness have all we received. O for Jesus’ spirit, that henceforth we may live not unto ourselves!

Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

Amazing Grace
     October 26


     William H. Bathurst, 1796–1877

     The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (Luke 17:5, 6)

     When the world seems at its worst, Christians must be at their best.
--- Unknown

     Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of faith is to see what we believe.
--- St. Augustine

     Discouragement can easily cause our faith to shrink, and we may even at times consider quitting our service for God. Perhaps we have all experienced these sentiments:

     I’ve taught a class for many years; borne many burdens, toiled through tears— But folks don’t notice me a bit, I’m so discouraged, I’ll just quit.
--- Unknown

     One of the chief characteristics of spiritual maturity is the ability to persevere—even in the face of adversity. God often permits difficulties to come into our lives simply to allow our faith in Him to become stronger. A faith that is never tested and strengthened soon becomes a shrinking one. But if our faith is real, it will stand every test and prove to be an overcoming faith.

     This hymn text, which is an exposition of Luke 17:5, is from William Bathurst’s Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Use. The song was originally titled “The Power of Faith.” The first three stanzas describe a victorious faith amidst some of the most difficult circumstances in life. The final stanza affirms the believer’s desire to have such trust that even now life becomes a foretaste of heaven itself.

     William Hiley Bathurst was an Anglican minister who wrote more than 200 hymn texts. The composer of the music, William H. Havergal, the father of Frances Ridley Havergal, was also prominent in the Church of England, as a minister and writer of many hymns.

     O for a faith that will not shrink tho pressed by many a foe, that will not tremble on the brink of any earthly woe.
     That will not murmur nor complain beneath the chast’ning rod, but in the hour of grief or pain will lean upon its God.
     -A faith that shines more bright and clear when tempests rage without, that, when in danger, knows no fear, in darkness feels no doubt.
     Lord, give me such a faith as this, and then, whate’er may come, I’ll taste e’en now the hallowed bliss of an eternal home.

     For Today: Romans 1:17; Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 6:16; 2 Timothy 1:7

     Ponder this question—Could I stand to lose everything and still have an implicit faith in God and know with certainty that He is in absolute control? Carry this musical resolve ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Thursday, October 26, 2017 | After Pentecost

Proper 24, Thursday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 37:1–17
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 37:18–40
Old Testament     Ezra 1:1–11
New Testament     1 Corinthians 16:1–9
Gospel     Matthew 12:15–21

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 37:1–17

1 Do not fret because of the wicked;
do not be envious of wrongdoers,
2 for they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
4 Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will make your vindication shine like the light,
and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

7 Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For the wicked shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

10 Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land,
and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous,
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the LORD laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to kill those who walk uprightly;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

16 Better is a little that the righteous person has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 37:18–40

18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will abide forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times,
in the days of famine they have abundance.

20 But the wicked perish,
and the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

21 The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,
but the righteous are generous and keep giving;
22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

23 Our steps are made firm by the LORD,
when he delights in our way;
24 though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
for the LORD holds us by the hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
26 They are ever giving liberally and lending,
and their children become a blessing.

27 Depart from evil, and do good;
so you shall abide forever.
28 For the LORD loves justice;
he will not forsake his faithful ones.

The righteous shall be kept safe forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
and live in it forever.

30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak justice.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
their steps do not slip.

32 The wicked watch for the righteous,
and seek to kill them.
33 The LORD will not abandon them to their power,
or let them be condemned when they are brought to trial.

34 Wait for the LORD, and keep to his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on the destruction of the wicked.

35 I have seen the wicked oppressing,
and towering like a cedar of Lebanon.
36 Again I passed by, and they were no more;
though I sought them, they could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless, and behold the upright,
for there is posterity for the peaceable.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and rescues them;
he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Old Testament
Ezra 1:1–11

1 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a herald throughout all his kingdom, and also in a written edict declared:

2 “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of those among you who are of his people—may their God be with them!—are now permitted to go up to Jerusalem in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem; 4 and let all survivors, in whatever place they reside, be assisted by the people of their place with silver and gold, with goods and with animals, besides freewill offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.”

5 The heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites—everyone whose spirit God had stirred—got ready to go up and rebuild the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. 6 All their neighbors aided them with silver vessels, with gold, with goods, with animals, and with valuable gifts, besides all that was freely offered. 7 King Cyrus himself brought out the vessels of the house of the LORD that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods. 8 King Cyrus of Persia had them released into the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 And this was the inventory: gold basins, thirty; silver basins, one thousand; knives, twenty-nine; 10 gold bowls, thirty; other silver bowls, four hundred ten; other vessels, one thousand; 11 the total of the gold and silver vessels was five thousand four hundred. All these Sheshbazzar brought up, when the exiles were brought up from Babylonia to Jerusalem.

New Testament
1 Corinthians 16:1–9

16 Now concerning the collection for the saints: you should follow the directions I gave to the churches of Galatia. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come. 3 And when I arrive, I will send any whom you approve with letters to take your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.

5 I will visit you after passing through Macedonia—for I intend to pass through Macedonia— 6 and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way, wherever I go. 7 I do not want to see you now just in passing, for I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

Matthew 12:15–21

15 When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, 16 and he ordered them not to make him known. 17 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

18     “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen,
     my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.
     I will put my Spirit upon him,
     and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

19     He will not wrangle or cry aloud,
     nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
20     He will not break a bruised reed
     or quench a smoldering wick
     until he brings justice to victory.
21     And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

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