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Jeremiah 23 thru 25
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Restoration after Exile

Jeremiah 23:1     Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.

The Righteous Branch of David (Cp Jer 16.14—15)

     5 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

     7 Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, “As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt,” 8 but “As the Lord lives who brought out and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had driven them.” Then they shall live in their own land.

False Prophets of Hope Denounced

9 Concerning the prophets:
My heart is crushed within me,
all my bones shake;
I have become like a drunkard,
like one overcome by wine,
because of the Lord
and because of his holy words.
10     For the land is full of adulterers;
because of the curse the land mourns,
and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up.
Their course has been evil,
and their might is not right.
11     Both prophet and priest are ungodly;
even in my house I have found their wickedness,
says the Lord.
12     Therefore their way shall be to them
like slippery paths in the darkness,
into which they shall be driven and fall;
for I will bring disaster upon them
in the year of their punishment,
says the Lord.
13     In the prophets of Samaria
I saw a disgusting thing:
they prophesied by Baal
and led my people Israel astray.
14     But in the prophets of Jerusalem
I have seen a more shocking thing:
they commit adultery and walk in lies;
they strengthen the hands of evildoers,
so that no one turns from wickedness;
all of them have become like Sodom to me,
and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.
15     Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets:
“I am going to make them eat wormwood,
and give them poisoned water to drink;
for from the prophets of Jerusalem
ungodliness has spread throughout the land.”

     16 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you; they are deluding you. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They keep saying to those who despise the word of the Lord, “It shall be well with you”; and to all who stubbornly follow their own stubborn hearts, they say, “No calamity shall come upon you.”

18     For who has stood in the council of the Lord
so as to see and to hear his word?
Who has given heed to his word so as to proclaim it?
19     Look, the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
20     The anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intents of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
21     I did not send the prophets,
yet they ran;
I did not speak to them,
yet they prophesied.
22     But if they had stood in my council,
then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
and from the evil of their doings.

     23 Am I a God near by, says the Lord, and not a God far off? 24 Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord. 25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, “I have dreamed, I have dreamed!” 26 How long? Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back—those who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? 27 They plan to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, just as their ancestors forgot my name for Baal. 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the Lord. 29 Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? 30 See, therefore, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who steal my words from one another. 31 See, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who use their own tongues and say, “Says the Lord.” 32 See, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the Lord, and who tell them, and who lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or appoint them; so they do not profit this people at all, says the Lord.

     33 When this people, or a prophet, or a priest asks you, “What is the burden of the Lord?” you shall say to them, “You are the burden, and I will cast you off, says the Lord.” 34 And as for the prophet, priest, or the people who say, “The burden of the Lord,” I will punish them and their households. 35 Thus shall you say to one another, among yourselves, “What has the Lord answered?” or “What has the Lord spoken?” 36 But “the burden of the Lord” you shall mention no more, for the burden is everyone’s own word, and so you pervert the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God. 37 Thus you shall ask the prophet, “What has the Lord answered you?” or “What has the Lord spoken?” 38 But if you say, “the burden of the Lord,” thus says the Lord: Because you have said these words, “the burden of the Lord,” when I sent to you, saying, You shall not say, “the burden of the Lord,” 39 therefore, I will surely lift you up and cast you away from my presence, you and the city that I gave to you and your ancestors. 40 And I will bring upon you everlasting disgrace and perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

The Good and the Bad Figs

Jeremiah 24:1     The Lord showed me two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord. This was after King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the artisans, and the smiths, and had brought them to Babylon. 2 One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. 3 And the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”

     4 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 5 Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. 6 I will set my eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

     8 But thus says the Lord: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who live in the land of Egypt. 9 I will make them a horror, an evil thing, to all the kingdoms of the earth—a disgrace, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. 10 And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they are utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their ancestors.

The Babylonian Captivity Foretold

Jeremiah 25:1     The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah (that was the first year of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon), 2 which the prophet Jeremiah spoke to all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: 3 For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, to this day, the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. 4 And though the Lord persistently sent you all his servants the prophets, you have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear 5 when they said, “Turn now, everyone of you, from your evil way and wicked doings, and you will remain upon the land that the Lord has given to you and your ancestors from of old and forever; 6 do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, and do not provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.” 7 Yet you did not listen to me, says the Lord, and so you have provoked me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm.

     8 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, 9 I am going to send for all the tribes of the north, says the Lord, even for King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these nations around; I will utterly destroy them, and make them an object of horror and of hissing, and an everlasting disgrace. 10 And I will banish from them the sound of mirth and the sound of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, says the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste. 13 I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. 14 For many nations and great kings shall make slaves of them also; and I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.

The Cup of God’s Wrath

     15 For thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. 16 They shall drink and stagger and go out of their minds because of the sword that I am sending among them.

     17 So I took the cup from the Lord’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the Lord sent me drink it: 18 Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, an object of hissing and of cursing, as they are today; 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his officials, and all his people; 20 all the mixed people; all the kings of the land of Uz; all the kings of the land of the Philistines—Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod; 21 Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites; 22 all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea; 23 Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who have shaven temples; 24 all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed peoples that live in the desert; 25 all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; 26 all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Sheshach shall drink.

     27 Then you shall say to them, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, get drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.

     28 And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord of hosts: You must drink! 29 See, I am beginning to bring disaster on the city that is called by my name, and how can you possibly avoid punishment? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, says the Lord of hosts.

     30 You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them:

The Lord will roar from on high,
and from his holy habitation utter his voice;
he will roar mightily against his fold,
and shout, like those who tread grapes,
against all the inhabitants of the earth.
31     The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth,
for the Lord has an indictment against the nations;
he is entering into judgment with all flesh,
and the guilty he will put to the sword,
          says the Lord.

32     Thus says the Lord of hosts:
See, disaster is spreading
from nation to nation,
and a great tempest is stirring
from the farthest parts of the earth!
33 Those slain by the Lord on that day
shall extend from one end of the earth to the other.
They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried;
they shall become dung on the surface of the ground.
34     Wail, you shepherds, and cry out;
roll in ashes, you lords of the flock,
for the days of your slaughter have come—and your dispersions,
and you shall fall like a choice vessel.
35     Flight shall fail the shepherds,
and there shall be no escape for the lords of the flock.
36     Hark! the cry of the shepherds,
and the wail of the lords of the flock!
For the Lord is despoiling their pasture,
37     and the peaceful folds are devastated,
because of the fierce anger of the Lord.
38     Like a lion he has left his covert;
for their land has become a waste
because of the cruel sword,
and because of his fierce anger.

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. 23:1–8. The gathering again of the flock, scattered by the evil shepherds, by meant of the righteous branch from the stock of David.—V. 1. “Woe to shepherds that destroy and scatter the flock of my pasturing! saith Jahveh. V. 2. Therefore thus saith Jahveh, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds that feed my people: Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and not visited them; behold, I will visit on you the evil of your doings, saith Jahveh. V. 3. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all lands whither I have driven them, and bring them back to their pasture, that they may be fruitful and increase; V. 4. And will raise up over them shepherds that shall feed them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor be lacking, saith Jahveh. V. 5. Behold, days come, saith Jahveh, that I raise up unto David a righteous branch, that shall reign as king, and deal wisely, and do right and justice in the land. V. 6. In his days Judah shall have welfare, and Israel dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called: Jahveh our Righteousness. V. 7. Therefore, behold, days come, saith Jahveh, that they shall no more say: By the life of Jahveh who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt, V. 8. But: By the life of Jahveh who brought up and led forth the seed of the house of Israel out of the land towards midnight, and out of all the lands whither I had driven them, and they shall dwell in their own land.”

This portion is the conclusion of the prophecy concerning the shepherds of Israel, Jer. 22. In vv. 1 and 2 what has been foretold concerning the last kings of Judah is condensed into one general sentence, so as thus to form a point of connection for the declaration of salvation which follows at v. 3, consisting in the gathering again of the people, neglected and scattered by the evil shepherds, by means of the righteous branch of David. The Lord cries woe upon the shepherds. רֹעִים without article, because the matter concerns all evil shepherds, and is not applied till v. 2 to the evil rulers of Judah. Venema rightly says: Generale vae pastoribus malis praemittitur, quod mox ad pastores Judae applicatur. It is so clear from the context as to have been generally admitted by recent comm., that by shepherds are meant not merely the false prophets and priests, nor even these along with the kings; cf. on 3:15; 25:34ff., and Ezek. 34. The flock of my pasturing, in other words, the flock, which I feed; for מַרְעִית sig. both the feeding (cf. Hos. 13:6) and the place where the flock feeds, cf. 25:36, Ps. 74:1. Israel is called the flock of Jahveh’s pasturing inasmuch as He exerts a special care over it. The flock, bad shepherds, the ungodly monarchs on the throne of David, have brought to ruin and scattered. The scattering is in v. 2, cf. with v. 3, called a driving out into the lands; but the “destroying” must be discovered from the train of thought, for the clause: ye have not visited them (v. 2), intimates merely their neglect of the sheep committed to their charge. What the “destroying” more especially is, we may gather from the conduct of King Jehoiakim, described in 22:13ff.; it consists in oppression, violence, and the shedding of innocent blood; cf. Ezek. 34:2, 3. With לָכֵן, v. 2, is made the application of the general sentence, v. 1, to the shepherds of Israel. Because they are such as have scattered, driven away, and not visited the flock of the Lord, therefore He will punish in them the wickedness of their doings. In the לֹא פְקֵדְתֶּם אֹתָם is summed up all that the rulers have omitted to do for the flock committed to their care; cf. the specification of what they have not done, Ezek. 34:4. It was their duty, as Ven. truly says, to see ut vera religio, pabulum populi spiritualé, recte et rite exerceretur. Instead of this, they have, by introducing idolatry, directly encouraged ungodliness, and the immorality which flows therefrom. Here in “ye have not visited them” we have the negative moment made prominent, so that in v. 3 may follow what the Lord will do for His scattered flock. Cf. the further expansion of this promise in Ezek. 34:12ff. We must note “I have driven them,” since in v. 2 it was said that the bad shepherds had driven the flock away. The one does not exclude the other. By their corrupting the people, the wicked shepherds had occasioned the driving out; and this God has inflicted on the people as punishment. But the people, too, had their share in the guilt; but to this attention is not here directed, since the question deals only with the shepherds.

Jer. 23:4. When the Lord shall gather His people out of the dispersion, then will He raise up shepherds over them who will so feed them that they shall no longer need to fear or to be dismayed before enemies who might be strong enough to subjugate, slay, and carry them captive. The figurative expressions are founded on the idea that the sheep, when they are neglected by the shepherds, are torn and devoured by wild beasts; cf. Ezek. 34:8. They shall not be lacking; cf. for נִפְקַד with this force, 1 Sam. 25:7; in substance = not be lost. לֹא יִפָּקֵדוּ is chosen with a view to לֹא פְקַדְתֶּם אֹתָם (v. 2): because the shepherds did not take charge of the sheep, therefore the sheep are scattered and lost. Hereafter this shall happen no more. The question as to how this promise is to be accomplished is answered by vv. 5 and 6. The substance of these verses is indeed introduced by the phrase: behold, days come, as something new and important, but not as something not to happen till after the things foretold in v. 4. According to Jeremiah’s usage throughout, that phrase does not indicate any progress in time as compared with what precedes, but draws attention to the weightiness of what is to be announced. There is also a suggestion of “the contrast between the hope and the existing condition of affairs, which does not itself justify that hope. However gloomy the present is, yet there is a time coming” (Hgstb.). The promise: I make to arise (raise up) to David a righteous branch, rests upon the promise, 2 Sam. 7:12, 1 Chron. 17:12: I raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons—which the Lord will hereafter fulfil to David. Graf tries to show by many, but not tenable arguments, that צֶמַח has here a collective force. That he is wrong, we may see from the passages Zech. 3:8 and 6:12, where the same “branch” foretold by Jeremiah is called the man whose name is צֶמַח; and even without this we may discover the same from the context of the present passage, both from “He shall reign as king,” and still more from: they shall call his name Jahveh Tsidkenu. Neither of these sayings can be spoken of a series of kings. Besides, we have the passages 30:9 and Ezek. 34:23f., 37:24, where the servant to be raised up to David by Jahveh is called “my servant David.” Although then צֶמַח has a collective force when it means a plant of the field, it by no means follows that “it has always a collective force” in its transferred spiritual signification. And the passage, 33:17, where the promise is explained by: David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of Israel (cf. 33:21), does not prove that the branch of David is a collective grouping together of all David’s future posterity, but only that this one branch of David shall possess the throne for ever, and not, like mortal men, for a series of years only; 2 Sam. 7:16. צֶמַח denotes the Messiah, and this title is formed from צֶמַח יהוה, Isa. 4:2 (see Del. on this passage). Nor does the mention of shepherds in the plural, v. 4, at all oppose this. An untenable rendering of the sense is: first I will raise up unto you shepherds, then the Messiah; or: better shepherds, inprimis unum, Messiam (Ch. B. Mich.). The two promises are not so to be joined. First we have the raising up of good shepherds, in contrast to the evil shepherds that have destroyed the people; then the promise is further explained to the effect that these good shepherds shall be raised up to David in the “righteous branch,” i.e., in the promised “seed” of his sons. The good shepherds are contrasted with the evil shepherds, but are then summed up in the person of the Messiah, as being comprised therein. The relation of the good shepherds to the righteous branch is not so, that the latter is the most pre-eminent of the former, but that in that one branch of David the people should have given to them all the good shepherds needed for their deliverance. The Messiah does not correspond to the series of David’s earthly posterity that sit upon his throne, in that He too, as second David, will also have a long series of descendants upon His throne; but in that His kingdom, His dominion, lasts for ever. In the parallel passage, 33:15, where the contrast to the evil shepherds is omitted, we therefore hear only of the one branch of David; so in Ezek. 34, where only the one good shepherd, the servant of the Lord, David, stands in contrast to the evil shepherds (v. 23). Hence neither must we seek the fulfilment of our prophecy in the elevation of the Maccabees, who were not even of the race of David, nor understand, as Grot., Zerubbabel to be the righteous branch, but the Messiah, as was rightly understood by the Chald. He is צַדִּיק in contrast to the then reigning members of the house of David, and as He who will do right and justice in His realm; cf. 22:15, where the same is said of Josiah as contrasted with his ungodly son Jehoiakim. מֶלֶךְ is subjoined to מָלַךְ to bespeak His rule as kingship in the fullest sense of the word. Regnabit rex, i.e., magnifice regnabit, ut non tantum appareant aliquae reliquiae pristinae dignitatis, sed ut rex floreat et vigeat et obtineat perfectionem, qualis fuit sub Davide et Salomone ac multo praestantior (Calv.). הִשְׂכִּיל, deal prudently, rule wisely, as in 3:15, not: be fortunate, prosperous. Here the context demands the former rendering, the only one justified by usage, since the doing of right and justice is mentioned as the fruit and result of the השׂכיל. These words, too, point back to David, of whom it is in 2 Sam. 8:15 said, that he as king did right and justice to all his people.

Jer. 23:6

. V. 6 exhibits the welfare which the “branch” will, by His wise and just rule, secure for the people. Judah shall be blessed with welfare (נֹושַׁע), and Israel dwell safely; that blessing will come into fulfilment which Moses set before the people’s view in Deut. 33:28f. יְהוּדָה as the totality of the inhabitants is construed as feminine, as in 3:7; 14:2, etc. Israel denotes the ten tribes. Under the just sceptre of the Messiah, all Israel will reach the destiny designed for it by the Lord, will, as God’s people, attain to full dignity and glory.

This is the name by which they shall call Him, the branch of David: Jahveh our Righteousness. The suffix in יִקְרְאֹו refers to “righteous branch.” Instead of the 3 pers. sing. יִקְרָא with the suffix ֹו, some codd. have the plur. יִקְרְאוּ. This some polemical authors, such as Raim., Martini, Galatin, hold to be the true reading; and they affirmed the other had proceeded from the Jews, with the design of explaining away the deity of the Messiah. The Jews translated, they said: This is the name whereby Jahveh will call him: Our Righteousness; which is indeed the rendering of R. Saad. Gaon apud Aben Ezra, and of Menasse ben Israel. But this rendering is rejected by most Jewish comm. as being at variance with the accents, so that the impugned reading could not well have been invented by the Jews for polemical purposes. יִקְרְאֹו is attested by most codd., and is rendered by the LXX, so that the sense can be none other than: they will call the righteous branch of David “Jahveh our Righteousness.” Most comm., including even Hitz., admit that the suffix refers to צֶמַח, the principal person in both verses. Only Ew., Graf, and Näg. seek to refer it to Israel, because in 33:16 the same name is given to Jerusalem. But the passage cited does not prove the case. To call any one by a name universally denotes in the prophetic usage: to set him forth as that which the name expresses; so here: the branch of David will manifest Himself to the people of Israel as Jahve Tsidkenu. This name is variously expounded. The older Christian comm. understand that the Messiah is here called Jehovah, and must therefore be true God, and that He is called our righteousness, inasmuch as He justifies us by His merit. But the rabbinical interpreters, headed by the Chald., take the name to be an abbreviation of a sentence; so e.g., Kimchi: Israel vocabit Messiam hoc nomine, quia ejus temporibus Domini justitia nobis firma, jugis et non recedet. They appeal to 33:17 and to other passages, such as Ex. 17:15, where Moses calls the altar “Jahveh my Banner,” and Gen. 33:20, where Jacob gives to the altar built by him the name El elohe Jisrael. Hgstb. has rightly pronounced for this interpretation. The passages cited show who in such names an entire sentence is conveyed. “Jahveh my Banner” is as much as to say: This altar is dedicated to Jahveh my banner, or to the Almighty, the God of Israel. So all names compounded of Jahveh; e.g., Jehoshua = Jahveh salvation, brief for: he to whom Jahveh vouchsafes salvation. So Tsidkijahu = Jahve’s righteousness, for: he to whom Jahveh deals righteousness. To this corresponds Jahveh Tsidkenu: he by whom Jahveh deals righteousness. We are bound to take the name thus by the parallel passage, 33:16, where the same name is given to Jerusalem, to convey the thought, that by the Messiah the Lord will make Jerusalem the city of Righteousness, will give His righteousness to it, will adorn and glorify it therewith.

צִדְקֵנוּ is not to be referred, as it is by the ancient Church comm., to justification through the forgiveness of sins. With this we have not here to do, but with personal righteousness, which consists in deliverance from all unrighteousness, and which is bound up with blessedness. Actual righteousness has indeed the forgiveness of sins for its foundation, and in this respect justification is not to be wholly excluded; but this latter is here subordinate to actual righteousness, which the Messiah secures for Israel by the righteousness of His reign. The unrighteousness of the former kings has brought Israel and Judah to corruption and ruin; the righteousness of the branch to be hereafter raised up to David will remove all the ruin and mischief from Judah, and procure for them the righteousness and blessedness which is of God.—“What Jeremiah,” as is well remarked by Hgstb., “sums up in the name Jehovah Tsidkenu, Ezekiel expands at length in the parallel 34:25–31: the Lord concludes with them a covenant of peace; rich blessings fall to their lot; He breaks their yoke, frees them from bondage; they do not become the heathen’s prey.” These divine blessings are also to be conferred upon the people by means of the righteous branch. What the ancient Church comm. found in the name was true as to the substance. For as no man is perfectly righteous, so no mere earthly king can impart to the people the righteousness of Jahveh in the full sense of the term; only He who is endowed with the righteousness of God. In so far the Godhead of this King is contained implicite in the name; only we must not understand that he that bore the name is called Jahveh. But that righteousness, as the sum of all blessing, is set before the people’s view, we may gather from the context, especially from vv. 7 and 8, where it is said that the blessings to be conferred will outshine all former manifestations of God’s grace. This is the sense of both verses, which, save in the matter of a trifling change in v. 8, are verbally repeated from 16:14 and 15, where they have already been expounded.

Jer. 23:9–40. Against the False Prophets.—Next to the kings, the pseudo-prophets, who flattered the people’s carnal longings, have done most to contribute to the fall of the realm. Therefore Jeremiah passes directly from his discourse against the wicked kings to rebuking the false prophets; and if we may presume from the main substance, the latter discourse belongs to the same time as the former. It begins Jer. 23:9–15. With a description of the pernicious practices of these persons.—V. 9. “Concerning the prophets. Broken is mine heart within me; all my bones totter. I am become like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of Jahveh and because of His holy words. V. 10. For of adulterers the land is full, for because of the curse the land withereth, the pastures of the wilderness dry up; and their course is become evil, and their strength not right. V. 11. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in mine house found I their wickedness, saith Jahveh. V. 12. Therefore their way shall be to them as slippery places in darkness, they shall be thrown down and fall therein; for I bring evil upon them, the year of their visitation, saith Jahveh. V. 13. In the prophets of Samaria saw I folly; they prophesied in the name of Baal, and led my people Israel astray. V. 14. But in the prophets of Jerusalem saw I an horrible thing, committing adultery and walking in falsehood, and they strengthen the hands of the wicked, that none returneth from his wickedness. They are all become to me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. V. 15. Therefore thus saith Jahveh of hosts concerning the prophets: Behold, I feed them with wormwood, and give them to drink water of bitterness; for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth over all the land.”

“Concerning the prophets” is the heading, as in 46:2; 48:1; 49:1, 7, 23, 28; and corresponds to the woe uttered against the wicked shepherds, v. 1. It refers to the entire portion vv. 9–40, which is thus distinguished from the oracles concerning the kings, Jer. 21 and 22. It might indeed be joined, according to the accents, with what follows: because of the prophets is my heart broken; but as the cause of Jeremiah’s deep agitation is given at the end of the second half-verse: because of Jahveh, etc., it is not likely the seer would in one sentence have given two different and quite separate reasons. The brokenness of his heart denotes the profoundest inward emotion yet not despondency by reason of sin and misery, like “a broken heart” in Ps. 34:19; 51:19, etc., but because of God’s wrath at the impious lives of the pseudo-prophets. This has overcome him, and this he must publish. This wrath had broken his heart and seized on all his bones, so that they nervelessly tremble, and he resembles a drunken man who can no longer stand firm on his feet. He feels himself inwardly quite downcast; he not only feels the horrors of the judgment that is to befall the false prophets and corrupt priests who lead the people astray, but knows well the dreadful sufferings the people too will have to endure. The verb רָחַף occurs only twice in the Piel besides in the present passage; in Gen. 1:2, of the Spirit of God that in the beginning of creation brooded over the waters of the earth, and Deut. 32:11, of the eagle that flutters over her young,—in Arabic rchf, to be soft. The root meaning of the word is doubtless: to be flaccid; here accordingly, to totter, to sway to and fro. “Because of Jahveh” is more fully explained by “because of the words of His holiness,” i.e., the words which God as holy has made known to him regarding the unholy ongoings of the pseudo-prophets.—From v. 10 onwards come the sayings of God which have so terribly agitated the prophet. The land is full of adulterers. Adultery in the literal sense is mentioned by way of example, as a reckless transgression of God’s commands, then much in vogue, whereby the moral foundations of the kingdom were broken up. In v. 14 the prophets are said to commit adultery and walk in lying, cf. 29:23 and 5:7. By reason of this vice a curse lies on the land, under which it is withering away. The clause “for because of the curse,” etc., is not to be taken as parenthesis (Näg.), but as co-ordinate with the previous clause, giving the second, or rather the chief ground, why Jeremiah is so deeply distressed. The reason of this is not so much the prevailing moral corruption, as the curse lying on the land because of the moral corruption of its inhabitants. אָלָה is not perjury (Chald., Rashi, Kimchi), but the curse wherewith God punishes the transgression of His covenant laws, cf. 11:3, 8, Deut. 28:15ff., 29:19ff. The words are modelled after Isa. 24:4ff.; and הָאָרֶץ is not the population, but the land itself, which suffers under God’s curse, and which is visited with drought; cf. 12:4. The next words point to drought. נְאֹות מִדְבָּר as in 9:9. By וַתְּהִי the further description of the people’s depravity is attached to the first clause of the verse. Their course is become evil; their running or racing, i.e., the aim and endeavour of the ungodly. The suffix on this word מְרוּצָתָם refers not to “adulterers,” but ad sensum to the inhabitants of the land. Their strength is not-right, i.e., they are strong, valiant in wrong; cf. 9:2. For—so goes v. 11—both prophets and priests, who should lead the people in the right way, are profane, and desecrate by their wickedness even the house of God, presumably by idolatry; cf. 32:34. There is no reason for thinking here, as Hitz. does, of adultery practised in the temple.

Jer. 23:12

. For this the Lord will punish them. Their way shall be to them as slippery places in darkness. This threatening is after the manner of Ps. 35:6, where חֹשֶׁךְ וַחֲלַקְלַקֹּות are joined, changed by Jeremiah to the words in the text. The passage cited shows that we may not separate בָּאֲפֵלָה from חֲלַקְלַקֹּות, as Ew. does, to join it to the following יִדַּחוּ. Their way shall resemble slippery places in the dark, when one may readily slip and fall. Besides, they are to be thrust, pushed, so that they must fall on the slippery path (יִדַּחוּ from דָּחַח = דָּחָה, Ps. 35:5; “therein” to be referred to “their way”). The clause: “for I bring evil,” etc., is formed after 11:23.

Jer. 23:13f. To display the vileness of the prophets, these are parallelized with the prophets of Samaria. The latter did foolishly (תִּפְלָה, prop. of that which is unsalted, insipid, Job 6:6, hence irrational, insulsum), since they prophesied, being inspired by Baal the no-god, and by such prophesying led the people into error; cf. 1 Kings 18:19ff. Much more horrible is the conduct of the prophets of Jerusalem, who commit adultery, walk in lying, and strengthen the wicked in their wickedness, not merely by their delusive pretences (cf. v. 17, 6:14; 14:13), but also by their immoral lives, so that no one turns from his wickedness, cf. Ezek. 13:22. לְבִלְתִּי is here and in 27:18, as in ex. 20:20, construed, contrary to the usage everywhere else, not with the infin., but with the verb. fin. As the prophets, instead of converting the wicked, only confirmed them in their sins, therefore all the inhabitants of Judah or Jerusalem are become as corrupt as Sodom and Gomorrah. “They all” are not the prophets, but the inhabitants of Judah or Jerusalem; and “the inhabitants thereof” are those of the capital, cf. Deut. 32:32, Isa. 1:10. On the seducers the Lord will therefore inflict punishment, because impiousness has gone forth from them over the whole land. With the punishment threatened in v. 15, cf. 9:14.

Jer. 23:16–22. Warning against the lying prophecies of the prophets.—V. 16. “Thus saith Jahveh of hosts: Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you! They deceive you; a vision of their heart they speak, not out of the mouth of Jahveh. V. 17. They say still unto my despisers: ‘Jahveh hath spoken: Peace shall ye have;’ and unto every one that walketh in the stubbornness of his heart they say: ‘There shall no evil come upon you.’ V. 18. For who hath stood in Jahveh’s counsel, that he might have seen and heard His word? who hath marked my word and heard it? V. 19. Behold a tempest from Jahveh, fury goeth forth, and eddying whirlwind shall hurl itself upon the head of the wicked. V. 20. The anger of God shall not turn till He have done and till He have performed the thoughts of His heart. At the end of the days shall ye be well aware of this. V. 21. I have not sent the prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. V. 22. But if they had stood in my counsel, they would publish my words to my people and bring them back from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.”

The warning against these prophets is founded in v. 16 on the fact that they give out the thoughts of their own hearts to be divine revelation, and promise peace and prosperity to all stiff-necked sinners. מַהְבִּלִים, lit., they make you vain, i.e., make you to yield yourselves to vain delusion, seduce you to false confidence. This they do by their speaking visions, i.e., revelations of their heart, not what God has spoken, revealed to them. As an illustration of this, v. 17 tells that they prophesy continued peace or well-being to the despisers of God. The infin. abs. אָמֹור after the verb. fin. intimates the duration or repetition of the thing. דִּבֶּר יהוה are words of the false prophets, with which they give out that their prophesyings are God’s word. Since we nowhere else find sayings of Jahveh introduced by דִּבֶּר יהוה, but usually by כֹּה אָמַר י׳, the LXX have taken offence at that formula, and, reading דְּבַר, join the words with לִמְנַאֲצַי: τοῖς ἀπωθουμένοις τὸν λόγον κυρίου. To this reading Hitz. and Gr. give the preference over the Masoretic; but they have not noticed that they thus get an unsuitable sense. For דְּבַר יהוה in prophetic language never denotes the Mosaic law or the “moral law” (Hitz.), but the word of God published by the prophets. By their view of “word of Jahveh” they would here obtain the self-inconsistent thought: to the despisers of divine revelation they proclaim as revelation. The Masoretic reading is clearly right; and Jeremiah chose the unusual introductory formula to distinguish the language of the pseudo-prophets from that of the true prophets of the Lord. וְכָל־הֹלֵךְ ב׳ is prefixed absolutely: and as concerning every one that walks … they say, for: and to every one … they say. On the “stubbornness of their heart,” see on 3:17. With the speech of the false prophets, cf. 14:13 and 6:14.—In v. 18 a more comprehensive reason is given to show that these prophets are not publishing God’s decrees. The question: Who hath stood? has negative force = None hath stood. By this Jeremiah does not deny the possibility of this universally, but only of the false prophets (Hitz.). This limitation of the words is suggested by the context. To the true prophets the Lord reveals His סֹוד, Amos 3:7. וְיֵרֶא וְיִשְׁמַע are not to be taken jussively: let him see and hear (Hitz.), for the foregoing interrogation is not a conditional clause introducing a command. The imperfects with וְ are clauses of consequence or design, and after a preceding perfect should be rendered in English by the conditional of the pluperfect. Seeing the word of God refers to prophetic vision. The second question is appended without at all conveying any inference from what precedes; and in it the second verb (with וְ consec.) is simply a strengthening of the first: who hath hearkened to my word and heard it? The Masoretes have quite unnecessarily changed the Chet. דְּבָרִי into דְּבָרֹו. In the graphic representation of the prophets, the transition to the direct speech of God, and conversely, is no unusual thing. The change of וַיִּשְׁמַע into יִשְׁמַע, unnecessary and even improper as it is, is preferred by Graf and Näg., inasmuch as they take the interrogative מִי in both clauses in the sense of quisquis and understand the verse thus: He who has but stood in the counsel of the Lord, let him see and hear His word (i.e., he must see and hear His word); and he that hath marked my word, let him publish it (i.e., he must publish it). This exposition becomes only then necessary, if we leave the context out of view and regard the question as being to the effect that no one has stood in God’s counsel—which Jeremiah could not mean. Not to speak of the change of the text necessary for carrying it through, this view does not even give a suitable sense. If the clause: He that has stood in the counsel of the Lord, he must proclaim His word, is to be regarded as having a demonstrative force, then the principal idea must be supplied, thus namely: “and it is impossible that it should be favourable to those who despise it.” In v. 19 Jeremiah publishes a real word of the Lord, which sounds very differently from the words of the false prophets. A tempest from Jahveh will burst over the heads of the evil-doers, and the wrath of God will not cease until it has accomplished the divine decree. “A tempest from Jahveh” is defined by “fury” in apposition as being a manifestation of God’s wrath; and the whole first clause is further expanded in the second part of the verse. The tempest from Jahveh goes forth, i.e., breaks out, and as whirling tornado or eddying whirlwind bursts over the head of the wicked. יָחוּל is to be taken in accordance with מִתְחֹולֵל: twist, whirl, cf. 2 Sam. 3:29. “The thoughts of His heart” must not be limited to what God has decreed de interitu populi (Calv.); it comprehends God’s whole redemptive plan in His people’s regard—not merely the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, but also the purification of the people by means of judgments and the final glorification of His kingdom. To this future the next clause points: at the end of the days ye shall have clear knowledge of this. “The end of the days” is not merely the completion of the period in which we now are (Hitz., Gr. Näg., etc.), but, as universally, the end of the times, i.e., the Messianic future, the last period of the world’s history which opens at the close of the present aeon; see on Gen. 49:1, Num. 24:14, etc. הִתְבֹּונֵן is strengthened by בִּינָה: attain to insight, come to clearer knowledge.

Jer. 23:21f. From the word of the Lord proclaimed in v. 19f. it appears that the prophets who prophesy peace or well-being to the despisers of God are not sent and inspired by God. If they had stood in the counsel of God, and so had truly learnt God’s word, they must have published it and turned the people from its evil way. This completely proves the statement of v. 16, that the preachers of peace deceive the people. Then follows— Jer. 23:23–32. Vv. 23–32, in continuation, an intimation that God knows and will punish the lying practices of these prophets.—V. 23. “Am I then a God near at hand, saith Jahveh, and not a God afar off? V. 24. Or can any hide himself in secret, that I cannot see him? saith Jahveh. Do not I will the heaven and the earth? saith Jahveh. V. 25. I have heard what the prophets say, that prophesy falsehood in my name, saying: I have dreamed, I have dreamed. V. 26. How long? Have they it in their mind, the prophets of the deceit of their heart, V. 27. Do they think to make my people forget my name by their dreams which they tell one to the other, as their fathers forgot my name by Baal? V. 28. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word in truth. What is the straw to the corn? saith Jahveh. V. 29. Is not thus my word—as fire, saith Jahveh, and as a hammer that dasheth the rock in pieces? V. 30. Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets that steal my words one from the other. V. 31. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith Jahveh, that take their tongues and say: God’s word. V. 32. Behold, I am against the prophets that prophesy lying dreams, saith Jahve, and tell them, and lead my people astray with their lies and their boasting, whom yet I have not sent nor commanded them, and they bring no good to this people, saith Jahveh.”

The force of the question: Am I a God at hand, not afar off? is seen from what follows. Far and near are here in their local, not their temporal signification. A god near at hand is one whose domain and whose knowledge do not extend far; a God afar off, one who sees and works into the far distance. The question, which has an affirmative force, is explained by the statement of v. 24: I fill heaven and earth. Hitz. insists on understanding “near at hand” of temporal nearness, after Deut. 32:17: a God who is not far hence, a newly appeared God; and he supposes that, since in the east, from of old, knowledge is that which is known by experience, therefore the greatness of one’s knowledge depends on one’s advancement in years (Job 15:7, 10; 12:12, etc.); and God, he says, is the Ancient of days, Dan. 7:9. But this line of thought is wholly foreign to the present passage. It is not wealth of knowledge as the result of long life or old age that God claims for Himself in v. 24, but the power of seeing into that which is hidden so that none can conceal himself from Him, or omniscience. The design with which God here dwells on His omniscience and omnipresence too (cf. 1 Kings 8:27, Isa. 66:1) is shown in v. 25. The false prophets went so far with their lying predictions, that it might appear as if God did not hear or see their words and deeds. The Lord exposes this delusion by calling His omniscience to mind in the words: I have heard how they prophesy falsehood in my name and say, I have dreamed, i.e., a dream sent by God, have had a revelation in dreams, whereas according to v. 26 the dream was the deceit of their heart—“spun out of their own heart” (Hitz.). V. 26 is variously interpreted. Hitz. supposes that the interrogative הֲ (in הֲיֵשׁ) is made subordinate in the clause, and that the question is expressed with a double interrogative. He translates: How long still is there anything left in the heart of the prophets? as much as to say: how long have they materials for this? But there is a total want of illustrations in point for this subordination and doubling of the interrogative; and the force given to the יֵשׁ is quite arbitrary, since we should have had some intimation of what it was that was present in their hearts. Even the repetition of the interrogative particles is unexplained, and the connecting of יֵשׁ with a participle, instead of with the infinitive with לְ, cannot be defended by means of passages where הֵחֵל is joined with an adjective and the idea “to be” has to be supplied. L. de Dieu, followed by Seb. Schmidt, Ch. B. Mich., Ros., Maur., Umbr., Graf, was right in taking “How long” by itself as an aposiopesis: how long, sc. shall this go on? and in beginning a new question with הֲיֵשׁ, a question continued and completed by the further question: “Do they think,” etc., v. 27. Is it in the heart of the prophets, i.e., have the prophets a mind to prophesy falsehood? do they mean to make men forget my name? Against holding v. 27 as a resumption of the question there is no well-founded objection. Näg. affirms that after הַחֹשְׁבִים we must in that case have here הֵם as recapitulation of the subject; but that is rendered unnecessary by the subject’s being contained in the immediately preceding words. The conjecture propounded by Näg., to change הֲיֵשׁ into הָאֵשׁ: how long still is the fire in the heart of the prophets? needs no refutation. To make to forget the name of the Lord is: so to banish the Lord, as seen in His government and works, from the people’s heart, that He is no longer feared and honoured. By their dreams which they relate one to the other, i.e., not one prophet to the other, but the prophet to his fellow-man amongst the people. בַּבַּעַל, because of the Baal, whom their fathers made their god, cf. Judg. 3:7, 1 Sam. 12:9f.—These lies the prophets ought to cease. V. 28. Each is to speak what he has, what is given him. He that has a dream is to tell the dream, and he that has God’s word should tell it. Dream as opposed to word of the Lord is an ordinary dream, the fiction of one’s own heart; not a dream-revelation given by God, which the pseudo-prophets represented their dreams to be. These dreams are as different from God’s word as straw is from corn. This clause is supported, v. 29, by a statement of the nature of God’s word. It is thus (כֹּה), namely, as fire and as a hammer that smashes the rocks. The sense of these words is not this: the word of God is strong enough by itself, needs no human addition, or: it will burn as fire the straw of the man’s word mixed with it. There is here no question of the mixing of God’s word with man’s word. The false prophets did not mingle the two, but gave out their man’s word for God’s. Nor, by laying stress on the indwelling power of the word of God, does Jeremiah merely give his hearers a characteristic by which they may distinguish genuine prophecy; he seeks besides to make them know that the word of the Lord which he proclaims will make an end of the lying prophets’ work. Thus understood, v. 29 forms a stepping-stone to the threatenings uttered in vv. 30–32 against the lying prophets. The comparison to fire does not refer to the reflex influence which the word exerts on the speaker, so as that we should with Rashi and Ros. cf. 20:9; the fire comes before us as that which consumes all man’s work that will not stand the test; cf. 1 Cor. 3:12ff. The comparison to a hammer which smashes the rock shows the power of God, which overcomes all that is earthly, even what is firmest and hardest; cf. Heb. 4:12. Its effect and accomplishment nothing can hinder.

Jer. 23:30–32. Threatening of punishment. לָכֵן does not connect with v. 29, but with the main idea of the previous verses, the conduct of the false prophets there exposed. הִנְנִי עַל, behold, I will be against them, will come upon them as an enemy; cf. Ezek. 5:8. The practice of these prophets is characterized in three ways, yet without marking out three classes of unworthy men. One habit of theirs is that of stealing the word of God one from another. Not inspired of God themselves, they tried to appropriate words of God from other prophets in order to give their own utterances the character of divine oracles. Another is: they take their tongues and say, God’s word, i.e., they use their tongues to speak pretended words from God. The verb יִנְאֲמוּ occurs only here; elsewhere only the participle נְאֻם, and that almost always joined with יהוה in the sig. effatum Domini; here without it, but in the same sense. The root meaning of נאם is disputed. Connected etymologically with נהם, המה, it doubtlessly denotes originally, that which is whispered, Jahveh’s secret confidential communication; but it is constantly used, not for the word of God as silently inspired by God, but as softly uttered by the prophet. The meaning is not: their prophesying is “mere wagging of the tongue, talk according to their own caprice” (Graf); but: they give out their sayings for God’s, whereas God speaks neither to nor by them. Finally, their third way of doing consists in feigning revelations by means of dreams, which are but deceptive dreams. At this point the discourse falls back on the description in v. 26. The words “and lead my people astray” refer to all their three ways of acting before characterized. פַּחֲזוּת is their boasting of revelations from God. Then comes Jer. 23:33–40. A rebuke of their mockery at Jeremiah’s threatening predictions.—V. 33. “And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest ask thee, saying: What is the burden of Jahveh? then say to them: What the burden is—now I will cast you off, saith Jahveh. V. 34. And the prophet, the priest, and the people that shall say: burden of Jahveh, on that man will I visit it and on his house. V. 35. Thus shall ye say each to the other, and each to his brother: What hath Jahveh answered, and what hath Jahveh spoken? V. 36. But burden of Jahveh shall ye mention no more, for a burden to every one shall his own word be; and ye wrest the words of the living God Jahveh of hosts, our God. V. 37. Thus shalt thou say to the prophet: What hath Jahveh answered thee, and what hath He spoken? V. 38. But if ye say: burden of Jahveh, therefore thus saith Jahveh: Because ye say this word: burden of Jahveh, and yet I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say: burden of Jahveh; V. 39. Therefore, behold, I will utterly forget you, and cast away from my face you and this city that I gave you and your fathers, V. 40. And will lay upon you everlasting reproach, and everlasting, never-to-be-forgotten disgrace.”

The word מַשָּׂא, from נָשָׂא, lift up, bear, sig. burden, and, like the phrase: lift up the voice, means a saying of weighty or dread import. The word has the latter sig. in the headings to the prophecies of threatening character; see on Nah. 1:1, where this meaning of the word in the headings is asserted, and the widespread opinion that it means effatum is refuted. Jeremiah’s adversaries—as appears from these verses—used the word “burden” of his prophetic sayings by way of mockery, meaning burdensome prophecies, in order to throw ridicule on the prophet’s speeches, by them regarded as offensive. Thus if the people, or a prophet, or a priest ask: What is the burden of Jahveh, i.e., how runs it, or what does it contain? he is to answer: The Lord saith: I will cast you off, i.e., disburden myself of you, as it were—the idea of “burden” being kept up in the answer to the question. The article on the word prophet is used to show that the word is used generally of the class of prophets at large. The אֵת in the answering clause is nota accus., the following phrase being designedly repeated from the question; and hence the unusual combination אֶת־מָה. The sense is: as regards the question what the burden is, I will cast you away. There is no reason to alter the text to fit the LXX translation: ὑμεῖς ἐστὲ τὸ λῆμμα, or Vulg.: vos estis onus, as Cappell., J. D. Mich., Hitz., Gr., etc., do. The LXX rendering is based, not on another reading, but on another division of the words, viz., אתם המשׂא.—In v. 34 the meaning of this answer is more fully explained. On every one that uses the word “burden” in this sneering way God will avenge the sneer, and not only on his person, but on his house, his family as well. In v. 35 they are told how they are to speak of prophecy. V. 36. They are no longer to make use of the phrase “burden of Jahveh,” “for the burden shall his word be to each one,” i.e., the word “burden” will be to each who uses it a burden that crushes him down. “And ye wrest,” etc., is part of the reason for what is said: and ye have = for ye have wrested the words of the living God. The clause is properly a corollary which tells what happens when they use the forbidden word.

Jer. 23:38–40. In case they, in spite of the prohibition, persist in the use of the forbidden word, i.e., to not cease their mockery of God’s word, then the punishment set forth in v. 33 is certainly to come on them. In the threat נָשִׁיתִי אֶתְכֶם נָשֹׁא there is a manifestly designed word-play on מַשָּׂא. LXX, Vulg., Syr. have therefore rendered as if from נָשִׂיתִי נָשׂא (or נָשָׂאתִי) instead: ἐγὼ λαμβάνω, ego tollam vos portans. One cod. gives נשׂא, and Ew., Hitz., Graf, Näg., etc., hold this reading to be right; but hardly with justice. The Chald. has expressed the reading of the text in its אֶרְטֹושׁ יַתְכֹון מִרְטַשׁ, et relinquam vos relinquendo. And the form נָשִׁיתִי is explained only by reading נשׁא (נשׁה); not by נָשָׂא, for this verb keeps its א everywhere, save with the one exception of נְשׂוּי, Ps. 32:1, formed after the parallel כְסוּי. The assertion that the reading in the text gives no good sense is unfounded. I will utterly forget you is much more in keeping than: I will utterly lift you up, carry you forth.—With v. 40, cf. 20:11.

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Jer. 24. The Two Fig Baskets—an emblem of the future of Judah’s people.—V. 1. “Jahveh caused me to see, and behold two baskets of figs set before the temple of Jahveh, after Nebuchadrezzar had carried captive Jechoniah, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, and the work-people and the smiths from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. V. 2. One basket had very good figs like the early figs, the other basket very bad figs, which could not be eaten for badness. V. 3. And Jahveh said to me: What seest thou, Jeremiah? and I said: Figs; the good figs are very good, and the bad figs very bad, which cannot be eaten for badness. V. 4. Then came the word of Jahveh unto me, saying: V. 5. Thus saith Jahveh, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so will I look on the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans, for good; V. 6. And I will set mine eye upon them for good, and will bring them back again to this land, and build them and not pull down, and plant them and not pluck up. V. 7. And I give them an heart to know me, that I am Jahveh; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God; for they will return unto me with their whole heart. V. 8. And as the bad figs, which cannot be eaten for badness, yea thus saith Jahveh, so will I make Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes and the residue of Jerusalem, them that are left remaining in this land and them that dwell in Egypt. V. 9. I give them up for ill-usage, for trouble to all kingdoms of the earth, for a reproach and a by-word, for a taunt and for a curse in all the places whither I shall drive them. V. 10. and I send among them the sword, the famine, and the plague, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave to them and to their fathers.”

This vision resembles in form and substance that in Amos 8:1–3. The words: Jahveh caused me to see, point to an inward event, a seeing with the eyes of the spirit, not of the body. The time is, v. 1, precisely given: after Nebuchadnezzar had carried to Babylon King Jechoniah, with the princes and a part of the people; apparently soon after this deportation, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, the king set up by Nebuchadnezzar over Judah. Cf. 2 Kings 24:14–17.—The Lord caused the prophet to see in spirit two baskets of figs (דּוּדָאִים, from דּוּדַי, equivalent to דּוּד, v. 2), מוּעֲדִים (from יָעַד) in the place appointed therefor (מֹועֵד) before the temple. We are not to regard these figs as an offering brought to Jahveh (Graf); and so neither are we to think here of the place where first-fruits or tithes were offered to the Lord, Ex. 23:19f., Deut. 26:2. The two baskets of figs have nothing to do with first-fruits. They symbolize the people, those who appear before the Lord their God, namely, before the altar of burnt-offering; where the Lord desired to appear to, to meet with His people (נֹועַד, Ex. 29:42f.), so as to sanctify it by His glory, Ex. 29:43. מוּעַדִים therefore means: placed in the spot appointed by the Lord for His meeting with Israel.

Jer. 24:2. “The one basket very good figs” is short for: the basket was quite full of very good figs; cf. Friedr. W. M. Philippi, on the Nature and Origin of the Status constr. in Hebrew (1871), p. 93. The comparison to early figs serves simply to heighten the idea of very good; for the first figs, those ripened at the end of June, before the fruit season in August, were highly prized dainties. Cf.

Isa. 28:4, Hos. 9:10.

Jer. 24:3. The question: what seest thou? serves merely to give the object seen greater prominence, and does not imply the possibility of seeing wrong (Näg.).

Jer. 24:4ff. The interpretation of the symbol. V.

5. Like the good figs, the Lord will look on the captives in Chaldea for good (“for good” belongs to the verb “look on them”). The point of resemblance is: as one looks with pleasure on good figs, takes them and keeps them, so will I bestow my favour on Judah’s captives. Looking on them for good is explained, v. 6: the Lord will set His eye on them, bring them back into their land and build them up again. With “build them,” etc., cf. 1:10. The building and planting of the captives is not to consist solely in the restoration of their former civil well-being, but will be a spiritual regeneration of the people. God will give them a heart to know Him as their God, so that they may be in truth His people, and He their God. “For they will return,” not: when they return (Ew., Hitz.). The turning to the Lord cannot be regarded as the condition of their receiving favour, because God will give them a heart to know Him; it is the working of the knowledge of the Lord put in their hearts. And this is adduced to certify the idea that they will then be really the Lord’s people.

Jer. 24:8–10. And as one deals with the bad uneatable figs, i.e., throws them away, so will the Lord deliver up to ignominious ruin Zedekiah with his princes and the remainder of the people, both those still staying in the land and those living in Egypt. This, the fate awaiting them, is more fully described in vv. 9 and 10. In v. 8 the “yea, thus saith,” is inserted into the sentence by way of repetition of the “thus saith,” v. 5. כֵּן אֶתֵּן is resumed and expanded by וּנְתַתִּים in v. 9. The “princes” are Zedekiah’s courtiers. Those in Egypt are they who during the war had fled thither to hide themselves from judgment. From the beginning of v. 9 to הָאָרֶץ is verbally the same as 15:4, save that לְרָעָה is added to make more marked the contrast to לְטֹובָה, v. 5—the evil, namely, that is done to them. Hitz., Ew., Umbr., Gr., following the LXX, delete this word, but without due cause. The further description of the ill-usage in “for a reproach,” etc., is based on Deut. 28:37; and is intensified by the addition of “and for an object of cursing,” to show that in their case the curse there recorded will be fulfilled. From the last words, according to which disgrace will light on them in all the lands they are driven into, it appears that captivity will fall to the lot of such as are yet to be found in the land. But captivity involves new hostile invasions, and a repeated siege and capture of Jerusalem; during which many will perish by sword, famine, and plague. Thus and by deportation they shall be utterly rooted out of the land of their fathers. Cf. 29:17ff., where Jeremiah repeats the main idea of this threatening.

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Ch. 25. The Judgment on Judah and All Nations

Jer. 25. The prediction of this chapter is introduced by a full heading, which details with sufficient precision the time of its composition. V. 1. “The word that came (befell) to (עַל for אֶל) Jeremiah concerning the whole people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that is, the first year of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon; V. 2. Which Jeremiah the prophet spake to the whole people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying.”—All the discourses of Jeremiah delivered before this time contain either no dates at all, or only very general ones, such as 3:6: In the days of Josiah, or: at the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim (Jer. 26:1). And it is only some of those of the following period that are so completely dated, as 28:1; 32:1; 36:1; 39:1, etc. The present heading is in this further respect peculiar, that besides the year of the king of Judah’s reign, we are also told that of the king of Babylon. This is suggested by the contents of this prediction, in which the people are told of the near approach of the judgment which Nebuchadnezzar is to execute on Judah and on all the surrounding nations far and near, until after seventy years judgment fall on Babylon itself. The fourth year of Jehoiakim is accordingly a notable turning-point for the kingdom of Judah. It is called the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, because then, at the command of his old and decrepit father Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar had undertaken the conduct of the war against Pharaoh Necho of Egypt, who had penetrated as far as the Euphrates. At Carchemish he defeated Necho (Jer. 46:2), and in the same year he came in pursuit of the fleeing Egyptians to Judah, took Jerusalem, and made King Jehoiakim tributary. With the first taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, i.e., in 606 B.C., begins the seventy years’ Babylonian bondage or exile of Judah, foretold by Jeremiah in v. 11 of the present chapter. Nebuchadnezzar was then only commander of his father’s armies; but he is here, and in 2 Kings 24:1, Dan. 1:1, called king of Babylon, because, equipped with kingly authority, he dictated to the Jews, and treated them as if he had been really king. Not till the following year, when he was at the head of his army in Farther Asia, did his father Nabopolassar die; whereupon he hastened to Babylon to mount the throne; see on Dan. 1:1 and 1 Kings 22:1.—In v. 2 it is again specified that Jeremiah spoke the word of that Lord that came to him to the whole people and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem (עַל for אֶל again). There is no cogent reason for doubting, as Graf does, the correctness of these dates. Ch. 36:5 tells us that Jeremiah in the same year caused Baruch to write down the prophecies he had hitherto delivered, in order to read them to the people assembled in the temple, and this because he himself was imprisoned; but it does not follow from this, that at the time of receiving this prophecy he was prevented from going into the temple. The occurrence of Jer. 36 falls in any case into a later time of Jehoiakim’s fourth year than the present chapter. Ew., too, finds it very probable that the discourse of this chapter was, in substance at least, publicly delivered. The contents of it tell strongly in favour of this view.

It falls into three parts. In the first, vv. 3–11, the people of Judah are told that he (Jeremiah) has for twenty-three years long unceasingly preached the word of the Lord to the people with a view to their repentance, without Judah’s having paid any heed to his sayings, or to the exhortations of the other prophets, so that now all the kings of the north, headed by Nebuchadnezzar, will come against Judah and the surrounding nations, will plunder everything, and make these lands tributary to the king of Babylon; and then, vv. 12–14, that after seventy years judgment will come on the king of Babylon and his land. In the second part, vv. 15–29, Jeremiah receives the cup of the Lord’s wrath, to give it to all the people to drink, beginning with Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, proceeding to the Egyptians and the nationalities in the west and east as far as Elam and Media, and concluding with the king of Babylon. Then in the third part, vv. 30–38, judgment to come upon all peoples is set forth in plain statement.—The first part of this discourse would have failed of its effect if Jeremiah had only composed it in writing, and had not delivered it publicly before the people, in its main substance at least. And the two other parts are so closely bound up with the first, that they cannot be separated from it. The judgment made to pass on Judah by Nebuchadnezzar is only the beginning of the judgment which is to pass on one nation after another, until it culminates in judgment upon the whole world. As to the import of the judgment of the Babylonian exile, cf. the remm. in the Comm. on Daniel, Introd. § 2. The announcement of the judgment, whose beginning was now at hand, was of the highest importance for Judah. Even the proclamations concerning the other peoples were designed to take effect in the first instance on the covenant people, that so they might learn to fear the Lord their God as the Lord of the whole world and as the Ruler of all the peoples, who by judgment is preparing the way for and advancing the salvation of the whole world. The ungodly were, by the warning of what was to come on all flesh, to be terrified out of their security and led to turn to God; while by a knowledge beforehand of the coming affliction and the time it was appointed to endure, the God-fearing would be strengthened with confidence in the power and grace of the Lord, so that they might bear calamity with patience and self-devotion as a chastisement necessary to their well-being, without taking false views of God’s covenant promises or being overwhelmed by their distresses.

Jer. 25:3–11. The seventy years’ Chaldean bondage of Judah and the peoples.—V. 3. “From the thirteenth year of Josiah, son of Amon king of Judah, unto this day, these three and twenty years, came the word of Jahveh to me, and I spake to you, from early morn onwards speaking, but ye hearkened not. V. 4. And Jahveh sent to you all His servants, the prophets, from early morning on sending them, but ye hearkened not, and inclined not your ear to hear. V. 5. They said: Turn ye now each from his evil way and from the evil of your doings, so shall ye abide in the land which Jahveh hath given to your fathers from everlasting to everlasting. V. 6. And go not after other gods, to serve them and to worship them, that ye provoke me not with the work of your hands, and that I do you no evil. V. 7. But ye hearkened not to me, to provoke me by the work of your hands, to your own hurt. V. 8. Therefore thus hath said Jahveh of hosts: Because ye have not heard my words, V. 9. Behold, I send and take all the families of the north, saith Jahveh, and to Nebuchadrezzar my servant (I send), and bring them upon this land, and upon its inhabitants, and upon all these peoples round about, and ban them, and make them an astonishment and a derision and everlasting desolations, V. 10. And destroy from among them the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the mill and the light of the lamp. V. 11. And this land shall become a desert, a desolation, and these peoples shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”

The very beginning of this discourse points to the great crisis in the fortunes of Judah. Jeremiah recalls into the memory of the people not merely the whole time of his own labours hitherto, but also the labours of many other prophets, who, like himself, have unremittingly preached repentance to the people, called on them to forsake idolatry and their evil ways, and to return to the God of their fathers—but in vain (vv. 3–7). The 23 years, from the 13th of Josiah till the 4th of Jehoiakim, are thus made up: 19 years of Josiah and 4 years of Jehoiakim, including the 3 months’ reign of Jehoahaz. The form אַשְׁכֵּים might be an Aramaism; but it is more probably a clerical error, since we have הַשְׁכֵּם everywhere else; cf. v. 4, 7:13; 35:14, etc., and Olsh. Gramm. § 191, g. For syntactical reasons it cannot be 1st pers. imperf., as Hitz. thinks it is. On the significance of this infin. abs. see on 7:13. As to the thought of v. 4 cf. 7:25f. and 11:7ff. לֵאמֹר introduces the contents of the discourses of Jeremiah and the other prophets, though formally it is connected with וְשָׁלַח, v. 4. As to the fact, cf. 35:15. וּשְׁבוּ, so shall ye dwell, cf. 7:7.—With v. 6 cf. 7:6; 1:16, etc. (אָרַע, imperf. Hiph. from רעע). הַכְעִסוּנִי cannot be the reading of its Chet., for the 3rd person will not do. The ו seems to have found its way in by an error in writing and the Keri to be the proper reading, since לְמַעַן is construed with the infinitive.

Jer. 25:8. For this obstinate resistance the Lord will cause the nations of the north, under Nebuchadrezzar’s leadership, to come and lay Judah waste. “All the families of the north” points back to all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, 1:14. וְאֶל נבוך׳ cannot be joined with “and take,” but must depend from שֹׁלֵחַ in such a way that that verb is again repeated in thought. Ew. proposes to read וְאֵת according to some codd., especially as Syr., Chald., Vulg. have rendered by an accusative. Against this Graf has justly objected, that then Nebuchadnezzar would be merely mentioned by the way as in addition to the various races, whereas it is he that brings these races and is the instrument of destruction in God’s hand. Ew.’s reading is therefore to be unhesitatingly rejected. No valid reason appears for pronouncing the words: and to Nebuchadrezzar … my servant, to be a later interpolation (Hitz., Gr.) because they are not in the LXX. There is prominence given to Nebuchadnezzar by the very change of the construction, another “send” requiring to be repeated before “to Nebuchadrezzar.” God calls Nebuchadnezzar His servant, as the executor of His will on Judah, cf. 27:6 and 43:10. The “them” in “and bring them” refers to Nebuchadnezzar and the races of the north. “This land” is Judah, the הַזֹּאת being δεικτικῶς; so too the corresponding הָאֵלֶּה, “all these peoples round about;” so that we need have no doubt of the genuineness of the demonstrative. The peoples meant are those found about Judah, that are specified in vv. 19–25. הַחֲרַמְתִּים, used frequently in Deuteronomy and Joshua for the extirpation of the Canaanites, is used by Jeremiah, besides here, only in the prophecy against Babylon, 50:21, 26; 51:3. With לְשַׁמָּה וְלִשְׁרֵקָה cf. 19:8; 18:16; the words cannot be used of the peoples, but of the countries, which have been comprehended in the mention of the peoples. With “everlasting desolations,” cf. 49:13, Isa. 58:12; 61:4.—With v. 10 cf. 16:9; 7:34. But here the thought is strengthened by the addition: the sound of the mill and the light of the lamp. Not merely every sound of joyfulness shall vanish, but even every sign of life, such as could make known the presence of inhabitants.

Jer. 25:11. The land of Judah shall be made waste and desolate, and these peoples shall serve the king of Babylon for seventy years. The time indicated appertains to both clauses. “This land” is not, with Näg., to be referred to the countries inhabited by all the peoples mentioned in v. 9, but, as in v. 9, to be understood of the land of Judah; and “all these peoples” are those who dwelt around Judah. The meaning is unquestionably, that Judah and the countries of the adjoining peoples shall lie waste, and that Judah and these peoples shall serve the king of Babylon; but the thought is so distributed amongst the parallel members of the verse, that the desolation is predicated of Judah only, the serving only of the peoples—it being necessary to complete each of the parallel members from the other.

The term of seventy years mentioned is not a so-called round number, but a chronologically exact prediction of the duration of Chaldean supremacy over Judah. So the number is understood in 2 Chron. 36:21, 22; so too by the prophet Daniel, when, Dan. 9:2, in the first year of the Median king Darius, he took note of the seventy years which God, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah, would accomplish for the desolation of Jerusalem. The seventy years may be reckoned chronologically. From the 4th year of Jehoiakim, i.e., 606 B.C., till the 1st year of the sole supremacy of Cyrus over Babylon, i.e., 536 B.C., gives a period of 70 years. This number is arrived at by means of the dates given by profane authors as well as those of the historians of Scripture. Nebuchadnezzar reigned 43 years, his son Evil-Merodach 2 years, Neriglissor 4 years, Labrosoarchad (according to Berosus) 9 months, and Naboned 17 years (43 + 2 + 4 + 17 years and 9 months are 66 years and 9 months). Add to this 1 year,—that namely which elapsed between the time when Jerusalem was first taken by Nebuchadnezzar, and the death of Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar’s accession,—add further the 2 years of the reign of Darius the Mede (see on Dan. 6:1), and we have 69 3/4 years. With this the biblical accounts also agree. Of Jehoiakim’s reign these give 7 years (from his 4th till his 11th year), for Jehoiachin’s 3 months, for the captivity of Jehoiachin in Babylon until the accession of Evil-Merodach 37 years (see 2 Kings 25:27, according to which Evil- Merodach, when he became king, set Jehoiachin at liberty on the 27th day of the 12th months, in the 37th year after he had been carried away). Thus, till the beginning of Evil-Merodach’s reign, we would have 44 years and 3 months to reckon, thence till the fall of the Babylonian empire 23 years and 9 months, and 2 years of Darius the Mede, i.e., in all 70 years complete.—But although this number corresponds so exactly with history, it is less its arithmetical value that is of account in Jeremiah; it is rather its symbolical significance as the number of perfection for God’s works. This significance lies in the contrast of seven, as the characteristic number for works of God, with ten, the number that marks earthly completeness; and hereby prophecy makes good its distinguishing character as contrasted with soothsaying, or the prediction of contingent matters. The symbolical value of the number comes clearly out in the following verses, where the fall of Babylon is announced to come in seventy years, although it took place two years earlier.

Jer. 25:12–14. The overthrow of the king of Babylon’s sovereignty.—V.

12. “But when seventy years are accomplished, I will visit their iniquity upon the king of Babylon and upon that people, saith Jahveh, and upon the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it everlasting desolations. V.

13. And I bring upon that land all my words which I have spoken concerning it, all that is written in this book, that Jeremiah hath prophesied concerning all peoples. V.

14. For of them also shall many nations and great kings serve themselves, and I will requite them according to their doing and according to the work of their hands.”

The punishment or visitation of its iniquity upon Babylon was executed when the city was taken, after a long and difficult siege, by the allied Medes and Persians under Cyrus’ command. This was in B.C. 538, just 68 years after Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar for the first time. From the time of the fall of Babylon the sovereignty passed to the Medes and Persians; so that the dominion of Babylon over Judah and the surrounding nations, taken exactly, last 68 years, for which the symbolically significant number 70 is used. The Masoretes have changed the Chet. הֲבִאֹתִי into הֵבֵאתִי (Keri), because the latter is the usual form and is that which alone elsewhere occurs in Jeremiah, cf. 3:14; 36:31; 49:36f.; whereas in v. 9 they have pointed הֲבִאֹתִים, because this form is found in Isa. 56:7, Ezek. 34:13, and Neh. 1:9.—The second half of the 13th verse, from “all that is written” onwards, was not, of course, spoken by Jeremiah to the people, but was first added to explain “all my words,” etc., when his prophecies were written down and published.

Jer. 25:14. The perfect עָבְדוּ is to be regarded as a prophetic present. עָבַד בְּ, impose labour, servitude on one, cf. 22:13, i.e., reduce one to servitude. גַּם הֵמָּה is an emphatic repetition of the pronoun בָּם, cf. Gesen. § 121, 3. Upon them, too (the Chaldeans), shall many peoples and great kings impose service, i.e., they shall make the Chaldeans bondsmen, reduce them to subjection. With “I will requite them,” cf. 50:29; 51:24, where this idea is repeatedly expressed.

Jer. 25:15–29. The cup of God’s fury.—V. 15. “For thus hath Jahveh, the God of Israel, said to me: Take this cup of the wine of fury at my hand, and give it to drink to all the peoples to whom I send thee, V. 16. That they may drink, and reel, and be mad, because of the sword that I send amongst them. V. 17. And I took the cup at the hand of Jahveh, and made all the peoples drink it to whom Jahveh had sent me: V. 18. Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, and her kings, her princes, to make them a desolation and an astonishment, an hissing and a curse, as it is this day; V. 19. Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people; V. 20. And all the mixed races and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod; V. 21. Edom, and Moab, and the sons of Ammon; V. 22. All the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the islands beyond the sea; V. 23. Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all with the corners of their hair polled; V. 24. And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mixed races that dwell in the wilderness; V. 25. All the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; V. 26. And all the kings of the north, near and far, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth; and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them. V. 27. And say to them: Thus hath Jahveh, the God of Israel, said: Drink and be drunken, and spue, and fall and rise not up again, because of the sword which I send among you. V. 28. And if it be that they refuse to take the cup out of thine hand to drink, then say to them: Thus hath Jahveh of hosts said: Drink ye shall. V. 29. For, behold, on the city upon which my name is named I begin to bring evil, and ye think to go unpunished? Ye shall not go unpunished; for I call the sword against all inhabitants of the earth, saith Jahveh of hosts.”

To illustrate more fully the threatening against Judah and all peoples, v. 9ff., the judgment the Lord is about to execute on all the world is set forth under the similitude of a flagon filled with wrath, which the prophet is to hand to all the kings and peoples, one after another, and which he does give them to drink. The symbolical action imposed upon the prophet and, acc. to v. 17, performed by him, serves to give emphasis to the threatening, and is therefore introduced by כִּי; of which Graf erroneously affirms that it conveys a meaning only when vv. 11b–14 are omitted. Giving the peoples to drink of the cup of wrath is a figure not uncommon with the prophets for divine chastisements to be inflicted; cf. 49:12; 51:7, Isa. 51:17, 22, Ezek. 23:31ff., Hab. 2:15, Ps. 60:5; 75:9, etc. The cup of wine which is wrath (fury). הַחֵמָה is an explanatory apposition to “wine.” The wine with which the cup is filled is the wrath of God. הַזֹּאת belongs to כֹּוס, which is fem., cf. Ezek. 23:32, 34, Lam. 4:21, whereas אֹותֹו belongs to the wine which is wrath. In v. 16, where the purpose with which the cup of wrath is to be presented is given, figure is exchanged for fact: they shall reel and become mad because of the sword which the Lord sends amidst them. To reel, sway to and fro, like drunken men. הִתְהֹלַל, demean oneself insanely, be mad. The sword as a weapon of war stands often for war, and the thought is: war with its horrors will stupefy the peoples, so that they perish helpless and powerless.

Jer. 25:17. This duty imposed by the Lord Jeremiah performs; he takes the cup and makes all peoples drink it. Here the question has been suggested, how Jeremiah performed this commission: whether he made journeys to the various kings and peoples, or, as J. D. Mich. thought, gave the cup to ambassadors, who were perhaps then in Jerusalem. This question is the result of an imperfect understanding of the case. The prophet does not receive from god a flagon filled with wine which he is to give, as a symbol of divine wrath, to the kings and peoples; he receives a cup filled with the wrath of God, which is to intoxicate those that drink of it. As the wrath of God is no essence that may be drunk by the bodily act, so manifestly the cup is no material cup, and the drinking of it no act of the outer, physical reality. The whole action is accordingly only emblematical of a real work of God wrought on kings and peoples, and is performed by Jeremiah when he announces what he is commanded. And the announcement he accomplished not by travelling to each of the nations named, but by declaring to the king and his princes in Jerusalem the divine decree of judgment.

The enumeration begins with Judah, v. 18, on which first judgment is to come. Along with it are named Jerusalem, the capital, and the other cities, and then the kings and princes; whereas in what follows, for the most part only the kings, or, alternating with them, the peoples, are mentioned, to show that kings and peoples alike must fall before the coming judgment. The plural “kings of Judah” is used as in 19:3. The consequence of the judgment: to make them a desolation, etc., runs as in vv. 9, 11, 19:8; 24:9. כַּיֹּום הַזֶּה has here the force: as is now about to happen.

Jer. 25:19ff. The enumeration of the heathen nations begins with Egypt and goes northwards, the peoples dwelling to the east and west of Judah being ranged alongside one another. First we have in v. 20 the races of Arabia and Philistia that bordered on Egypt to the east and west; and then in v. 21 the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites to the east, and, v. 22, the Phoenicians with their colonies to the west. Next we have the Arabian tribes of the desert extending eastwards from Palestine to the Euphrates (vv. 23, 24); then the Elamites and Medes in the distant east (v. 25), the near and distant kings of the north, and all kingdoms upon earth; last of all the king of Babylon (v. 26). כָּל־הָעֶרֶב, LXX: πάντας τοῦς συμμίκτους, and Jerome: cunctusque qui non est Aegyptius, sed in ejus regionibus commoratur. The word means originally a mixed multitude of different races that attach themselves to one people and dwell as strangers amongst them; cf. Ex. 12:38 and Neh. 13:3. Here it is races that in part dwelt on the borders of Egypt and were in subjection to that people. It is rendered accordingly “vassals” by Ew.; an interpretation that suits the present verse very well, but will not do in v. 24. It is certainly too narrow a view, to confine the reference of the word to the mercenaries or Ionian and Carian troops by whose help Necho’s father Psammetichus acquired sole supremacy (Graf), although this be the reference of the same word in Ezek. 30:5. The land of Uz is, acc. to the present passage and to Lam. 4:21, where the daughter of Edom dwells in the land of Uz, to be sought for in the neighbourhood of Idumaea and the Egyptian border. To delete the words “and all the kings of the land of Uz” as a gloss, with Hitz. and Gr., because they are not in the LXX, is an exercise of critical violence. The LXX omitted them for the same reason as that on which Hitz. still lays stress—namely, that they manifestly do not belong to this place, but to v. 23. And this argument is based on the idea that the land of Uz (Ἀυσῖτις) lies much farther to the north in Arabia Deserta, in the Hauran or the region of Damascus, or that it is a collective name for the whole northern region of Arabia Deserta that stretches from Idumaea as far as Syria; see Del. on Job 1:1, and Wetzstein in Del.’s Job, S. 536f. This is an assumption for which valid proofs are not before us. The late oriental legends as to Job’s native country do not suffice for this. The kings of the land of the Philistines are the kings of the four towns next in order mentioned, with their territories, cf. Josh. 13:3, 1 Sam. 6:4. The fifth of the towns of the lords of the Philistines, Gath, is omitted here as it was before this, in Amos 1:7f. and Zeph. 2:4, and later in Zech. 9:5, not because Gath had already fallen into premature decay; for in Amos’ time Gath was still a very important city. It is rather, apparently, because Gath had ceased to be the capital of a separate kingdom or principality. There is remaining now only a remnant of Ashdod; for after a twenty-nine years’ siege, this town was taken by Psammetichus and destroyed (Herod. ii. 157), so that thus the whole territory great lost its importance. V. 21. On Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites, cf. Jer. 49:7–22; 48:1; 49:1–6. V. 22. The plural: “kings of Tyre and Sidon,” is to be understood as in v. 18. With them are mentioned “the kings of the island” or “of the coast” land, that is, beyond the (Mediterranean) Sea. הָאִי is not Κύπρος (Cyprus), but means, generally, the Phoenician colonies in and upon the Mediterranean. Of the Arabian tribes mentioned in v. 23, the Dedanites are those descended from the Cushite Dedan and living ear Edom, with whom, however, the Abrahamic Dedanite had probably mingled; a famous commercial people, Isa. 21:13, Ezek. 27:15, 20; 38:13, Job 6:19. Tema is not Têmâ beyond the Hauran (Wetzst. Reiseber. S. 21 and 93ff.; cf. on the other hand, the same in Del.’s Job, S. 526), but Temâ situated on the pilgrims’ route from Damascus to Mecca, between Tebûk and Wadi el Kora, see Del. on Isa. 21:14; here, accordingly, the Arabian tribe settled there. Buz is the Arabian race sprung from the second son of Nahor. As to “hair-corners polled,” see on 9:25.—The two appellations עֲרַב and “the mixed races that dwell in the wilderness” comprehend the whole of the Arabian races, not merely those that are left after deducting the already (v. 23) mentioned nomad tribes. The latter also dwelt in the wilderness, and the word עֲרָב is a general name, not for the whole of Arabia, but for the nomadic Arabs, see on Ezek. 27:21, whose tribal chieftains, here called kings, are in Ezek. called נְשִׂיאִים. In v. 25 come three very remote peoples of the east and north-east: Zimri, Elamites, and Medes. The name Zimri is found only here, and has been connected by the Syr. and most comm. with Zimran, Gen. 25:2, a son of Abraham and Keturah. Accordingly זִמְרִי would stand for זִמְרָנִי, and might be identified with Ζαβράμ, Ptol. vi. 7, § 5, a people which occupied a territory between the Arabs and Persians—which would seem to suit our passage. The reference is certainly not to the Ζεμβρῖται in Ethiopia, in the region of the later priestly city Meroë (Strabo, 786). On Elam, see on 49:34ff.

Finally, to make the list complete, v. 26 mentions the kings of the north, those near and those far, and all the kingdoms of the earth. הַמַּמְלְכֹות with the article in stat. constr. against the rule. Hence Hitz. and Graf infer that הָאָרֶץ may not be genuine, it being at the same time superfluous and not given in the LXX. This may be possible, but it is not certain; for in Isa. 23:17 we find the same pleonastic mode of expression, and there are precedents for the article with the nomen regens. “The one to (or with) the other” means: according as the kingdoms of the north stand in relation to one another, far or near.—After the mention of all the kings and peoples on whom the king of Babylon is to execute judgment, it is said that he himself must at last drink the cup of wrath. שֵׁשַׁךְ is, according to 51:41, a name for Babylon, as Jerome states, presumably on the authority of his Jewish teacher, who followed the tradition. The name is formed acc. to the Canon Atbash, in virtue of which the letters of the alphabet were put one for the other in the inverse order (ת for א, שׁ for ב, etc.); thus שׁ would correspond to ב and ך to ל. Cf. Buxtorf, Lex. talm. s.v. אתבשׁ and de abbreviaturis hebr. p. 41. A like example is found in 51:1, where כַּשְׂדִּים is represented by לֵב קָמַי. The assertion of Gesen. that this way of playing with words was not then in use, is groundless, as it also Hitz.’s, when he says it appeared first during the exile, and is consequently none of Jeremiah’s work. It is also erroneous when many comm. remark, that Jeremiah made use of the mysterious name from the fear of weakening the impression of terror which the name of Babylon ought to make on their minds. These assumptions are refuted by v. 12, where there is threatening of the punishment of spoliation made against the king of Babylon and the land of the Chaldeans; and by 51:41, where alongside of Sheshach we find in parallelism Babylon. The Atbash is, both originally and in the present case, no mere playing with words, but a transposition of the letters so as to gain a significant meaning, as may plainly be seen in the transposition to לֵב קָמַי, 51:1. This is the case with Sheshach also, which would be a contraction of שֶׁכְשַׁךְ (see Ew. § 158, c), from שָׁכַךְ, to sink (of the water, Gen. 8:1), to crouch (of the bird-catcher, Jer. 5:26). The sig. is therefore a sinking down, so that the threatening, 51:64: Babel shall sink and not rise again, constitutes a commentary on the name; cf. Hgstb. Christ. iii. p. 377. The name does not sig. humiliation, in support of which Graf has recourse partly to שׁחה, partly to the Arabic usage. For other arbitrary interpretations, see in Ges. thes. p. 1486.

Jer. 25:27ff. From v. 27 onwards the commission from God (v. 15f.)is still more completely communicated to Jeremiah, so that the record of its fulfilment (vv. 17–26), together with the enumeration of the various peoples, is to be regarded as an explanatory parenthesis. These might the less unsuitably be inserted after v. 16, inasmuch as what there is further of the divine command in vv. 27–29 is, if we examine its substance, little else than an enforcement of the command. The prophet is not merely to declare to them what is the meaning of this drinking of wrath (Hitz.), but is to tell them that they are to drink the cup of wrath to the bottom, so that they shall fall for drunkenness and not be able to stand again (v. 27); and that they must drink, because when once Jahveh has begun judgment on His own people, He is determined not to spare any other people. קְיוּ from קָיָה = קֹוא serves to strengthen the שִׁכְרוּ; in the second hemistich the figurative statement passes into the real, as at v. 16. In v. 28 שָׁתֹו תִשְׁתּוּ is a peremptory command; ye shall = must drink. V. 29 gives the reason; since God spares not His own people, then the heathen people need not count on immunity. “And ye think to go unpunished” is a question of surprise. Judgment is to be extended over all the inhabitants of the earth.

As to the fulfilment of this prophecy, see detail sin the exposition of the oracles against the nations, Jer. 46–51. Hence it appears that most of the nations here mentioned were subject to Nebuchadnezzar. Only of Elam is no express mention there made; and as to Media, Jeremiah has given no special prophecy. As to both these peoples, it is very questionable whether Nebuchadnezzar ever subdued them. For more on this, see on 49:34–39. Although it is said in v. 9 of the present chapter and in Jer. 27:5ff. that God has given all peoples, all the lands of the earth, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, yet it does not follow thence that Nebuchadnezzar really conquered all. The meaning of the prophetic announcement is simply that the king of Babylon will obtain dominion over the world for the coming period, and that when his time is run, he too must fall beneath the judgment. The judgment executed by Nebuchadnezzar on the nations is the beginning of that upon the whole earth, before which, in course of time, all inhabitants of the earth fall, even those whom Nebuchadnezzar’s sword has not reached. In the beginning of the Chaldean judgment the prophet sees the beginning of judgment upon the whole earth.

Jer. 25:30–38. “But do thou prophesy to them all these words, and say unto them: Jahveh will roar from on high, and from His holy habitation let His voice resound; He will roar against His pasture, raise a shout like treaders of grapes against all the inhabitants of the earth. V. 31. Noise reacheth to the end of the earth, for controversy hath Jahveh with the nations; contend will He with all flesh; the wicked He gives to the sword, is the saying of Jahveh. V. 32. Thus saith Jahveh of hosts: Behold, evil goeth forth from nation to nation, and (a) great storm shall raise itself from the utmost coasts of the earth. V. 33. And the slain of Jahveh shall lie on that day from one end of the earth unto the other, shall not be lamented, neither gathered nor buried; for dung shall they be upon the ground. V. 34. Howl, ye shepherds, and cry! and sprinkle you (with ashes), ye lordliest of the flock! For your days are filled for the slaughter; and I scatter you so that ye shall fall like a precious vessel. V. 35. Lost is flight to the shepherds, and escape to the lordliest of the flock. V. 36. Hark! Crying of the shepherds and howling of the lordliest of the flock; for Jahveh layeth waste their pasture. V. 37. Desolated are the pastures of peace because of the heat of Jahveh’s anger. V. 38. He hath forsaken like a young lion his covert; for their land is become a desert, because of the oppressing sword, and because of the heath of His anger.”

In this passage the emblem of the cup of the Lord’s anger (vv. 25–29) is explained by a description of the dreadful judgment God is to inflict on all the inhabitants of the earth. This is not the judgment on the world at large as distinguished from that proclaimed in vv. 15–29 against the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world, as Näg. supposes. It is the nature of this same judgment that is here discussed, not regard being here paid to the successive steps of its fulfilment. Vv. 30 and 31 are only a further expansion of the second half of v. 29. “All these words” refers to what follows. The clause “Jahveh will roar” to “let His voice resound” is a reminiscence from Joel 4:16 and Amos 1:2; but instead of “out of Zion and out of Jerusalem” in those passages, we have here “from on high,” i.e., heaven, and out of His holy habitation (in heaven), because the judgment is not to fall on the heathen only, but on the theocracy in a special manner, and on the earthly sanctuary, the temple itself, so that it can come only from heaven or the upper sanctuary. Jahveh will roar like a lion against His pasture (the pasture or meadow where His flock feeds, cf. 10:25); a name for the holy land, including Jerusalem and the temple; not: the world subject to Him (Ew.). הֵידָד וגו׳, He will answer Hedad like treaders of grapes; i.e., raise a shout as they do. Answer; inasmuch as the shout or wary-cry of Jahveh is the answer to the words and deeds of the wicked. Grammatically הֵידָד is accus. and object to the verb: Hedad he gives as answer. The word is from הָדַד, crash, and signifies the loud cry with which those that tread grapes keep time in the alternate raising and thrusting of the feet. Ew. is accordingly correct, though far from happy, in rendering the word “tramping-song;” see on Isa. 16:9f. As to the figure of the treader of grapes, cf. Isa. 63:3.

Jer. 25:31. שָׁאֹון is the din of war, the noise of great armies, cf. Isa. 17:12f., etc. For the Lord conducts a controversy, a cause at law, with the nations, with all flesh, i.e., with all mankind; cf. 2:9, 35.—הָרְשָׁעִים is for the sake of emphasis put first and resumed again in the suffix to נְתָנָם. “Give to the sword” as in 15:9.

Jer. 25:32f. As a fierce storm (cf. 23:19) rises from the ends of the earth on the horizon, so will evil burst forth and seize on one nation after another. Those slain by Jahveh will then lie, unmourned and unburied, from one end of the earth to the other; cf. 8:2; 16:4. With “slain of Jahveh,” cf. Isa. 66:16. Jahveh slays them by the sword in war.

Jer. 25:34. No rank is spared. This is intimated in the summons to howl and lament addressed to the shepherds, i.e., the kings and rulers on earth (cf. 10:21; 22:22, etc.), and to the lordly or glorious of the flock, i.e., to the illustrious, powerful, and wealthy. With “sprinkle you,” cf. 6:26. Your days are full or filled for the slaughter, i.e., the days of your life are full, so that ye shall be slain; cf. Lam. 4:18. וּתְפֹוצֹותֵיכֶם is obscure and hard to explain. It is so read by the Masora, while many codd. and editt. have וּתְפוּצֹותֵיכֶם. According to this latter form, Jerome, Rashi, Kimchi, lately Maur. and Umbr., hold the word for a substantive: your dispersions. But whether we connect this with what precedes or what follows, we fail to obtain a fitting sense from it. Your days are full and your dispersions, for: the time is come when ye shall be slain and dispersed, cannot be maintained, because “dispersions” is not in keeping with “are full.” Again: as regards your dispersions, ye shall fall, would give a good meaning, only if “your dispersions” meant: the flock dispersed by the fault of the shepherds; and with this the second pers. “ye shall fall” does not agree. The sig. of fatness given by Ew. to the word is wholly arbitrary. Hitz., Gr. and Näg. take the word to be a Tiphil (like תהרה, 12:5; 22:15), and read תְּפִיצֹותִיכֶם, I scatter you. This gives a suitable sense; and there is no valid reason for attaching to the word, as Hitz. and Gr. do, the force of פָּצַץ or נָפַץ, smite in pieces. The thought, that one part of the flock shall be slain, the other scattered, seems quite apt; so also is that which follows, that they are scattered shall fall and break like precious, i.e., fine, ornamental vases. Hence there was no occasion for Ew.’s conjectural emendation, כְּכָרִי, like precious lambs. Nor does the LXX rendering: ὥσπερ οἱ κριοὶ οἱ ἐκλεκτοί, give it any support; for כָּרִים does not mean rams, but lambs. The similar comparison of Jechoniah to a worthless vessel (Jer. 22:28) tells in favour of the reading in the text (Graf).—In v. 35 the threatening is made more woeful by the thought, that the shepherds shall find no refuge, and that no escape will be open to the sheep.

Jer. 25:36f. The prophet is already hearing in spirit the lamentation to which in v. 34 he has called them, because Jahveh has laid waste the pastures of the shepherds and their flocks, and destroyed the peaceful meadows by the heat of His anger.—In v. 38, finally, the discourse is rounded off by a repetition and expansion of the thought with which the description of the judgment was begun in v. 30. As a young lion forsakes his covert to seek for prey, so Jahveh has gone forth out of His heavenly habitation to hold judgment on the people; for their (the shepherds’) land becomes a desert. The perff. are prophetic. כִּי has grounding force. The desolation of the land gives proof that the Lord has arisen to do judgment. חֲרֹון הַיֹּונָה seems strange, since the adjective הַיֹּונָה never occurs independently, but only in connection with חֶרֶב (Jer. 46:16; 50:16, and with עִיר, Zech. 3:1). חֲרֹון, again, is regularly joined with אַף י׳, and only three times besides with a suffix referring to Jahveh (Ex. 15:7; Ps. 2:5; Ezek. 7:14). In this we find justification for the conjecture of Hitz., Ew., Gr., etc., that we should read with the LXX and Chald. חֶרֶב הַיֹּונָה. The article with the adj. after the subst. without one, here and in 46:16; 50:16, is to be explained by the looseness of connection between the participle and its noun; cf. Ew. § 335, a.

   Commentary on the Old Testament: Jeremiah, Lamentations(Vol. VIII)
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“I’ve tried to believe in God. I want to believe, I really do, but I just can’t. He…just wasn’t there.”

The silence of God is a problem for many. It is for me. I’d like to be confident that the One who created me is involved with my life. If this Christian thing is a “heaven or hell” deal, I’d expect to see some clear signposts or messages from God if he truly wants to save people.

But, as many ex-Christians will say, “God just wasn’t there.” Seriously, what kind of psychopath lays out the choice between Heaven or Hell that’s contingent on whether we believe or not, but then conceals himself to make it easier for people to disbelieve–and go to hell?

Obviously, I don’t assume to know God’s mind, but there’s a problem when we think God doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s a simple misunderstanding: if God made himself known in the ways many want him to, then that would require him to betray his intentions for us. According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, God didn’t make us like the animals who only do what comes naturally (Gen. 1:26-27); he gave us the capacity to relate with him (Psa. 8:4-6), but that inevitably means we can refuse if we so choose (and we did; Gen. 3:6-7). And whether it’s “easier for people to disbelieve” or not does not depend on God’s presence or absence, but on whether people love something else more than God. Sin is the problem, and God can’t give us himself unless its dealt with.

What would happen if God made himself known to us to the extent that doubts no longer exist? Would we believe, or die because of our sin? Would we retain our individuality, or would we be brainwashed and traumatized at the overwhelming presence of him? God wants us to be souls, not computer programs, but relating with him has become so much harder because of our sin. This issue isn’t simple. We’re free-willed, but we’re also finite (2 Cor. 4:7) and sinful. Put it all together and we simply can’t handle what we think we can.

If we could play God for a day, what realities would we create? One where everyone goes to Heaven? Would we be free-willed? And how do we know that these alternative realities would incubate the type of traits Heaven requires? How could we, as free-willed people, know love, courage, compassion, heroism, mercy, justice, forgiveness, truth and goodness unless we lived in a world with hate, fear, disdain, indifference, cowardice, injustice, guilt, falsehood and evil? We can’t know darkness unless we know light, or right unless we know wrong.

Further, what if the greatest good is to know God? Well, how could we know him unless we have some sort of actual, experiential knowledge of everything he is not? I assume God doesn’t want posers in Heaven, but unless we live in our current world and experience the light and the darkness, goodness and evil, then posers are what we’ll be.

God’s silence teaches us that the world within and without is truly dark, but it also teaches us that the yearning for him is just as true (Eccl. 3:11), for to see something as truly dark is to know there’s something that’s truly light. Faith is the element that refuses to believe there’s only darkness even when that’s all we see. Faith looks at the hole and knows something can fill it.

The most important element in this equation is God’s omniscience. He knows what he’s doing. He knows why he’s “hiding.” If we’re smart enough to imagine alternative realities, then we’re smart enough to know that a Being of God’s magnitude already considered them all and set the current one in motion to suit his purpose. And if we’re wise enough to understand how finite we truly are, then we should be content with never finding answers, as the book of Job reminds us; after pages of rants from Job and his “friends,” God disregards it all with a single question: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? (Job 42:3)

Frederick Buechner’s words are insightful here: “God is absent from all Job’s words about God, and from the words of his comforters, because they are words without knowledge that obscure the issue of God by trying to define him as present in ways and places where he is not present, to define him as moral order, as the best answer man can give to the problem of his life. God is not an answer man can give, God says. God himself does not give answers. He gives himself.”

God giving us what we think we need is sometimes the worst thing for us. We’re ontologically weak, and therefore unable to relate with him in the ways we wish we could. As we wait for God, we’re left to echo the laments of the Biblical poets:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psa. 22:1)

“Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psa. 10:1)

“Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy?” (Job 13:24).

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psa. 13:1)

“Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?” (Psa. 44:23-24)

“Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psa. 10:1)

It’s not dangerous to admit your weakness or lack of faith (Mark 9:24). In fact, I believe that’s the point: “when we were dead in our sins, [God] made us alive” (Eph. 2:5). We’re dead without God. We’re not meant to be anything substantial outside of Christ (2 Cor. 4:7), which is why Christianity dwells on him. We’re supposed to have faith in God, not faith in our faith. It’s never been about what we do, but about what God’s doing in and through us (Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:24; see also Eph. 2:4-6; Col. 2:9-14). The same is true when we wrestle with God’s silence, for from the silence comes the growth of faith. God’s “absence” is the best training ground for trusting God. As Paul says, “who hopes for what he sees?” (Rom. 8:24).

Those times I wonder if “this Christian thing is even true” are the times my faith grows, for it forces me to return to the core of Christianity (1 Cor. 15:1-8) to reevaluate the logic and evidence, thus reinforcing the reasonableness of it. But even if we get doctorates in Christian apologetics, there’s still mystery and uncertainty because we just can’t know God’s mind. Muscles strengthen through work, not inactivity, and so does faith. Waiting for God in the silence puts true faith to work.

Now whenever God chose to reveal himself in the age of Scripture, he didn’t come barging in as Creator God, glory on full throttle, expecting us to see him as he is (John 1:18; 1 Tim. 6:16; 1 John 4:12). That’s why he goes covert. As the Bible records, the Creator lives up to his name. He appears in dreams/visions (Num. 12:6), bushes (Exod. 3; or rather an angel via the bush), storms (Exod. 19:16), angels (Luke 1:11), donkeys (Num. 22:38), and most notably, Jesus (Heb. 1:2). The Word became flesh (John 1:14) because if it didn’t, we’d probably explode from the immensity of who he is (as suggested by Isa. 6: ; Rev. ). We need sunglasses for driving into the sun, and we need God to be sneaky for us to comprehend what he’s trying to give us. God relates with images, visions, donkeys, angels, symbols and parables because humanity’s eyes needed time (centuries, in fact) to adjust to the light.

The silence of God is the most brutal, yet most fruitful, method for procuring faith and individuality in humans. Only when God is absent do we become individuals because when he’s “gone” we’re forced to confront the hole he left behind and figure out who we are and what kind of person we’re going to be when God’s nowhere to be found. When he’s silent, the loudest voice is our own–our fears, guilts, misdeeds.

Perhaps the sin is the chief culprit after all. As humans, we tend to flock to anything that tries speak louder than the silence, but little do we know that these false gods are just trying to distract us from what God is saying in his silence. But thank God the silence will never be silent, for within the incessant silence lies our redemption. When the emptiness becomes too much to bear, the wholeness he brings becomes irresistible. Buechner nails this when he says the Gospel is bad news before it is good news because God must strip us in order to clothe us. What’s good news if we’ve never heard of bad news? “It is out of the absence of God that God makes himself present,” he says.

So yes, the silence of God is a problem for me, but so is raising children, getting up for work, telling the truth, staying fit, keeping friends, saving money, and a host of other disciplines that, by all appearances, are “good.” Biblical faith can be unstable at times, and it can coexist with doubt in the same way they coexist when someone walks without crutches for the first time. There are doubts, but faith is stronger because they’re walking (even when the ground gets unstable).

The silence of God is a dark forest that everyone eventually stumbles into, multiple times, but I suppose those who make it out don’t care why it was there because through it all they just learned to love God more.

   Alex Aili

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Psalm 37 continues a frequent theme throughout the book—God’s defense of the righteous and his judgment of the wicked. This psalm, however, contains one of the most misunderstood and misapplied verses anywhere in scripture. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” To those shaped by consumerism and a culture of self-actualization, the appeal of this verse should be obvious. It appears to say that God is how to achieve your dreams, which is why millions of Americans—including Oprah Winfrey—say Psalm 37:4 is their favorite verse in the bible.

This interpretation, however, is fundamentally flawed because it reduces the Lord to a device, a means for achieving one’s true goal. Our desire is the buried treasure and the Lord is merely the shovel we use to reach it. The constant message of scripture, however, is that God is to be our treasure. When Psalm 37:4 is extolled by prosperity preachers or self-help gurus, they are perverting the gospel by inviting us to use the Lord rather than love him.

Psalm 37 is not calling us to use God to achieve our desires (the consumerist’s error), neither is it saying all of our desires are inherently wrong (the fundamentalist’s error). Instead, we are called to properly order our desires by delighting in the Lord above all else. We are to recognize that he is more valuable and more beautiful than anything in all of creation. When we “seek first his kingdom,” then all other things find their proper place in our vision. The emphasis, therefore, belongs on the first half of the verse, “delight yourself in Yahweh,” rather than the second.

As we delight in him, our desires will automatically and naturally conform to his character. That means some desires will diminish, others will expand, and some will disappear altogether. As St. Augustine said, “Love God, and do what you want,” because what you want will be what God loves.

   This reflection is excerpted from the With God Daily devotional on October 27, 2016.

scroll to top screenshot      by Jonathan Morrow

     We live in a culture that has questions about the Bible. And that’s OK–because questions, if the goal is truth, will lead to a stronger faith. I have seen this time and again. (But how we question the Bible is critically important)

     But as Christians we also are called to respond to challenges which threaten to undercut our faith (Jude 3; 1 Peter 3:15). And in case you haven’t noticed, the Bible is a BIG target so there are lots of challenges!

     The Skeptical Challenge of the Authorship of the Gospels

     Skeptics like to raise doubts and new “hidden” or “lost” information about the Gospels. Why? Because that is where all the information about Jesus is. And if you can undermine confidence in biblical authority there, then that weakens the overall authority of Christianity. Why? Because Christianity rises or falls with Jesus.

     Here’s the basic argument of the Bible skeptic meant to raise doubt:

     “Did you know that we don’t know who wrote the Gospel of Matthew? In fact, this Gospel is anonymous–(i.e., there is no formal claim to authorship within the document itself). The early church for political reasons wanted to exclude certain writings it didn’t like and so used an Apostle’s name (i.e., Matthew) to generate authority so this version of Christianity could win.”

     One of the new challenges in this generation is that arguments like this used to stay locked up in stuffy ivory towers. The effect was that everyday Christians never encountered them. Enter social media and youtube. Now these “sophisticated” arguments are available for the masses. And in our culture with a general distrust of authorities, conspiracy theories are then off and running.

     How do we respond?

     3 Reasons Why the Apostle Matthew Wrote the Gospel of Mathew

     New Testament Scholars like Darrell Bock, D.A. Carson, and Michael Wilkins (among plenty of others) have done a lot of excellent work. Here is just a short summary of the evidence for why we can be confident that Matthew, wrote the Gospel of Matthew, even though this Gospel is technically anonymous.

     (1) First, regarding Matthew, “there is no patristic evidence that anyone else was ever proposed as the author.”

     (2) Second, Papias, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, and Origen all affirm Matthean authorship.

     (3) Third, the literary evidence reveals that Matthew was the most popular Gospel in the earliest period of the church and it was circulated widely.

     2 Objections to Matthew as Author

     There are two common objections to his authorship. First, it is argued that Matthew, an apostle himself, would not have relied so heavily upon Mark, who was not an apostle, when composing his Gospel. But since we have very good evidence that Peter stands behind Mark’s Gospel, Matthew would have had no issue utilizing the recorded testimony of Peter.

     The other common objection is that the Greek is too good to have been written by Matthew. However, Matthew was likely trilingual (Aramaic, Greek, and Latin) by growing up as a Jew in the region of Galilee, and as a tax collector he would have been required to know Greek well.

     Does it Matter if Matthew is the Author?

     Let me make one last point: Our goal is to say (and defend) what the Bible says—no more and no less. In the case of Paul writing a letter that bears his name, we are compelled to defend his authorship as a matter of biblical integrity. However, when it comes to the four Gospels, there is no one specifically to defend (i.e., because it is technically anonymous).

     As a thought experiment, let’s say it was somehow discovered that Andrew wrote what we now know as the Gospel of Matthew in the 1st century? Would that mean that there is an error in the Bible? Actually, no, because no claim of authorship was technically made in this document (the same logic would hold for the book of Hebrews)

     So the bottom line? We have good reason to believe that Matthew is the author of this Gospel. I go into more detail for the authorship, reliability, and claims of the Gospels here.

--- Jonathan Morrow

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     By Sean McDowell

     Why did God make the universe so big? Why so much extra space if it’s just us? This is a question that both skeptics and believers have often asked, including myself. After all, why does there need to be a universe with some fifty billion trillion stars, which comprise merely one percent of the total mass?

     Stephen Hawking raised this question years ago in his book A Brief History of Time. He suggested the vast size of our universe seems a waste. And Carl Sagan famously said, “The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space.” Sagan suggested its size is good reason to believe there are other life forms in the universe.

     Whether or not life exists in other parts of the universe, it turns out that the size of the universe is carefully calibrated and necessary for life’s existence on planet Earth. Astrophysicist Hugh Ross explains this phenomenon in his recent book Improbable Planet. He writes:

     However, ongoing research has given us good reasons—all relevant to life’s existence—for the massiveness of the cosmos. We need it for essential construction materials.

     The initial mass density of matter’s building blocks—protons and neutrons (called baryons. collectively)—critically impacted what happened the first few minutes of the universe’s existence. That’s when hydrogen, the lightest element, fused into the next heavier elements, helium and lithium. The amount of helium and lithium produced at the time then determined how much planet-and life-building material (the elements essential for life) could be produced later on within the nuclear furnace of stars.

     If the universe contained a slightly lower mass density of protons and neutrons, then nuclear fusion in stellar furnaces would have yielded no elements as heavy as carbon or heavier; if a slightly greater mass density, then stars burning would have yielded only elements as heavy as iron or heavier. Either way, the universe would have lacked the elements most critical for our planet and its life—carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and more. For life to be possible, the universe must be no more or less massive than it is.[1]

     Simply put, given the laws of physics in our universe, we need a universe as massive as it is for the construction of the materials that make life possible on our planet. If the universe were much smaller or bigger, we would not exist.

     It turns out the universe is not full of wasted space. In fact, if the universe were not this massive, Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, and the rest of us could never even have been here to reflect upon it. Thank God we live in such a big universe.

[1] Hugh Ross, Improbable Planet (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2016), 24.

--- Sean McDowell

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     By Vaneetha Rendall Risner

     “It’s never God’s will for his children to suffer.”

     I hear that statement frequently from both Christians and non-Christians as they interpret the character of God. Why would a loving God not want his children to be happy?

     I understand that reasoning. I too want to be happy. I don’t want my close relationships destroyed. Or my health ruined. Or my livelihood taken away.

     Yet in the manifold wisdom of God, as I look at Scripture, I see clearly how God uses suffering for our good. And for our eternal joy. Which is far deeper than any fleeting happiness.

     Isaiah 30 speaks beautifully to how God uses suffering, regardless of how it comes. Speaking to the Israelites, who have been disciplined for their disobedience, Isaiah says,

He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!” (Isaiah 30:19–22)

     God may give us the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, but with them come extraordinary promises. Assurance that he hears and answers our prayers, the ability to see him and sense his presence, clear direction for our decisions, power to destroy sin and strongholds — these are staggering gifts.

     God Hears and Answers

     When we are suffering, we can be confident that God hears our desperate pleas. The Maker of heaven and earth is listening attentively, waiting for us to call out to him. It doesn’t need to be an eloquent prayer. Just a sincere cry for help.

     And as soon as the Lord hears our cry, he answers us. Immediately. He responds as soon as our plea for mercy goes out.

     But honestly, in the midst of suffering, I have often felt the opposite. I have felt that God was ignoring my cries because my situation wasn’t changing. As I was begging God for deliverance, things were getting worse. But God has gently reminded me that his answers can be “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” And though I may not understand it, I know that God will always give me what is best for me, when it is best for me.

     He Gives Us Himself

     God uniquely gives us his presence in suffering. The Lord, our Teacher, doesn’t hide himself anymore. Even though God never leaves us, we are often unaware of his presence. We may go about our day-to-day life, oblivious to the fact that God goes with us. But in suffering, God’s presence is unmistakable. It is as though he removes the veil that hides his face from us, and we find ourselves in the very throne room of God.

     For me, this is an uncommon feeling. While I know that God is always with me, I rarely experience God’s presence in an unmistakable, spectacular way. I have felt close to him while reading Scripture, praying, sitting in silence, and praising God in community, yet there is something special about his unveiled presence in suffering.

     I will never forget those supernatural encounters with God. The joy I felt in those moments, moments that were surrounded by excruciating circumstances, is still vivid. Those times are anchors for me, for whenever God seems vague and distant, I remember how he revived my soul in my deepest suffering.

     God Gives Us Clear Direction

     Years ago I was walking through another dark valley. Physical and emotional pain overwhelmed me, making it hard to even think or process. But at the same time, pain strangely made me more attentive to God’s voice. I could ignore the noise around me and focus on what God was saying.

     God was gracious as I leaned on him in ways I never had before. I asked for advice, and God gave it. He directed my steps as I walked. Through fellow believers, through circumstances, through prayer, but mostly through reading his word, I learned to recognize his ways. And his voice. I just had to listen.

     Listening for me requires reading the Bible, since that is where I hear God most often. It is through Scripture that God spoke most clearly as he comforted me, convicted me, and guided me. He used passages that felt loved and familiar, as well as those that had once seemed dry and boring. As I read them, he breathed life into the words, bringing fresh insight, wisdom, and direction.

     God Helps Us Destroy Our Idols

     Lastly, Isaiah 30 shows us that suffering helps us destroy our idols. While I don’t worship carved idols, I have taken idols into my heart (Ezekiel 14:3), which can be even more dangerous. I have worshiped approval, respect, success, and having a perfect family. I thought they would make me happy. But when they were taken away, the power of those idols diminished.

     All of my suffering has involved loss. Loss of things I valued. Loss of what I loved. Often they were good things, sometimes wonderful things, but none of them were as good as God himself. And so even though I grieved their loss, I saw how God could give me joy without them. Because my joy became rooted in him.

     While I wouldn’t choose adversity, it has been an unparalleled gift in my life. Has it been hard? Yes. But has it been worth it? Absolutely.

     I can honestly echo Joni Eareckson Tada’s words, “I wouldn’t trade places with anybody in this world to be this close to Jesus.”

Vaneetha Rendall Risner

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“At that time they shall call Yerushalayim the throne of Hashem; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Hashem, to Yerushalayim; neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart.” Jeremiah 3:17 (The Israel Bible™)

A 2,700-year-old papyrus that is the oldest known non-Biblical Hebrew reference to Jerusalem has been found, announced the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) on Wednesday. The papyrus, originally stolen by antiquities thieves, was put on display in Jerusalem on Wednesday, coinciding with the second UNESCO resolution attempting to deny Judaism’s connection to its most holy city – a connection this ancient artifact so graphically proves.

The two lines of writing on the tiny scrap of papyrus (4.3 inches by 1 inch) are surprisingly clear: “From the king’s maidservant, from Naharta, jars of wine, to Jerusalem.”

The scroll was originally plundered from a cave in Nahal Hever in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea by antiquities thieves. Professor Shmuel Ahituv of Ben-Gurion University studied the papyrus when it was first recovered. He spoke at the IAA press conference, noting that on the papyrus, the name of the city was spelled with a letter ‘yud’, as it is in modern Hebrew. Pronounced ‘Yerushalayim’, Ahituv noted that it is spelled this way only four times in the entire Bible.

Ahituv also noted that papyrus, made from the pith of the papyrus plant, was more expensive than the more common clay. The text specified a “female servant of the king” sending the wineskins to “Yerushalem”, suggesting the shipment was sent by a prominent woman to a person of high status in the capital.

Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy director of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, emphasized in an interview with the Jerusalem Post that the papyrus indicates the importance of Jerusalem to ancient Israel.

“It underscores the centrality of Jerusalem as the economic capital of the kingdom in the second half of the 7th century BCE,” he said.

IAA director Israel Hasson explained to the Jerusalem Post that ‘Naharta’ mentioned in the text is located on the border between the traditional lands of Ephraim and Benjamin.

And it went down from Janoah to Ataroth, and to Naarah, and reached unto Yericho, and went out at the Jordan. Joshua 16:7.

Radiocarbon dating determined the papyrus was from the seventh century BCE, at the time of the First Temple, making it only one of three Hebrew papyri from that period and predating the Dead Sea Scrolls by hundreds of years. Orthography (the study of letters and language) confirmed this date. The especially arid environment preserved the papyrus remarkably well.

The recovered document emphatically disproves the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem, a precondition that has been a stumbling block preventing negotiations with Israel. This battle-cry has been taken up by UNESCO in two resolutions initiated by the Arab nations granting Islam a religious monopoly on the Temple Mount. This Hebrew papyrus proves that Jerusalem was the Jewish capital 1,300 years before Mohammed, the father of Islam, was born.

The papyrus even carries another clear indication that Jerusalem was originally a Jewish, and not Muslim, city: its subject is wine, a flourishing industry in ancient Israel and an essential part of the Temple service – and a substance expressly forbidden in Islam. Muslims would be hard-pressed to explain their part in this wine deal.

Speaking at the dedication of the Adelson School of Entrepreneurship at IDC Herzliya, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made use of the papyrus when discussing UNESCO’s “distorted, scandalous” decision.

“This was a document, a shipping invoice, that was sent over 2,700 years ago from Na’arat, near Jerusalem, and it says in ancient Hebrew, and this is the critical word, but you can see it in Hebrew, ‘[me-a]mat ha-melekh me-Na’aratah nevelim yi’in Yerushalima’. ‘From the king’s maidservant, from Na’arat, jars of wine, to Jerusalem’,” Netanyahu translated.

“Here is a letter from the past to UNESCO. It is written ‘Yerushalima.’ It explains, in Hebrew, our connection to Jerusalem and the centrality of Jerusalem. A servant of the king, certainly a king of Judah. It is from over 2,700 years ago – Jerusalem. Not in Arabic, not in Aramaic, not in Greek or Latin – in Hebrew.”

In her remarks at the IAA press conference announcing the recovery of the papyrus, Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) echoed the prime minister and spoke to the future. “The discovery of the papyrus on which the name of our capital Jerusalem is written is further tangible evidence that Jerusalem was, and will remain, the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” said Regev.

“It is our duty to take care of the plundering of antiquities that occurs in the Judean Desert, and no less important than this is exposing the deceit of false propaganda, as is once again happening today in UNESCO.

“The Temple Mount – the very heart of Jerusalem and Israel – will remain the holiest place for the Jewish people, even if UNESCO ratifies the false and unfortunate decision another 10 times.”

Breaking Israel News

  • Calling the Church to Repent 1
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  Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Who’s your Saul?
     (Oct 27)    Bob Gass

     ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name.’

(Ac 9:15) 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. ESV

     Saul of Tarsus was the last person on earth you’d ever have expected to become a Christian, much less the author of half the New Testament. Describing his life before he met Christ, he wrote, ‘I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it’ (Galatians 1:13 NKJV). So, when God called Ananias to go and pray for Saul, he wasn’t too keen on the idea: ‘“I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel”’ (Acts 9:13-15 NIV 1984 Edition). Ananias knew what Saul had done to the church. What he was about to learn, however, is that God was at work in Saul’s heart. Within a few short years God would use Paul to touch the world, but first He used Ananias to touch Paul. Has God given you a similar assignment? Has He given you a Saul? If so, don’t give up on him or her. When other people write them off, give them another chance. Ananias didn’t know about Paul’s encounter with Christ on the Damascus Road. God can go where you can’t, and get through to a person when you’re unable to reach them. Always remember: God never sends you where He hasn’t already been. So, by the time you reach your Saul, who knows what you’ll find?

Jer 50
Heb 1

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     His wife and mother both tragically died on Valentine’s Day, 1884. Depressed, he left New York to ranch cattle in the Dakotas. He organized the first Voluntary Cavalry, known as the “Rough Riders,” which captured San Juan Hill. He was Vice-President under William McKinley, in 1901 became America’s youngest President. His name was Teddy Roosevelt, born this day, October 27, 1858. President Roosevelt warned: “The thought of modern industry in the hands of Christian charity is a dream worth dreaming. The thought of industry in the hands of paganism is a nightmare beyond imagining. The choice between the two is upon us.”

American Minute

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

II.     Let us beware of a pietist fatalism which thins the spiritual life, saps the vigour of character, makes humility mere acquiescence, and piety only feminine, by banishing the will from prayer as much as thought has been banished from it. “The curse of so much religion” (I have quoted Meredith) “is that men cling to God with their weakness rather than with their strength.”

     The popularity of much acquiescence is not because it is holier, but because it is easier. And an easy Gospel is the consumption that attacks Christianity. It is the phthisis to faith.

     Once come to think that we best say “Thy will be done” when we acquiesce, when we resign, and not also when we struggle and wrestle, and in time all effort will seem less pious than submission. And so we fall into the ecclesiastical type of religion, drawn from an age whose first virtue was submission to outward superiors. We shall come to canonize decorum and subduedness in life and worship (as the Episcopal Church with its monarchical ideas of religion has done). We shall think more of order than of effort, more of law than of life, more of fashion than of faith, of good form than of great power. But was subduedness the mark of the New Testament men? Our religion may gain some beauty in this way, but it loses vigour. It may gain style, but it loses power. It is good form, but mere aesthetic piety. It may consecrate manners, but it improverishes the mind. It may regulate prayer by the precepts of intelligence instead of the needs and faith of the soul. It may feed certain pensive emotions, but it may emasculate will, secularize energy, and empty character. And so we decline to a state of things in which we have no shocking sins—yes, and no splendid souls; when all souls are dully correct, as like as shillings, but as thin, and as cheap.

     All our forms and views of religion have their test in prayer. Lose the importunity of prayer, reduce it to soliloquy, or even to colloquy, with God, lose the real conflict of will and will, lose the habit of wrestling and the hope of prevailing with God, make it mere walking with God in friendly talk; and, precious as that is, yet you tend to lose the reality of prayer at last. In principle you make it mere conversation instead of the soul’s great action. You lose the food of character, the renewal of will. You may have beautiful prayers—but as ineffectual as beauty so often is, and as fleeting. And so in the end you lose the reality of religion. Redemption turns down into mere revelation, faith to assent, and devotion to a phase of culture. For you lose the power of the Cross and so of the soul.

     Resist God, in the sense of rejecting God, and you will not be able to resist any evil. But resist God in the sense of closing with God, cling to Him with your strength, not your weakness only, with your active and not only your passive faith, and He will give you strength. Cast yourself into His arms not to be caressed but to wrestle with Him. He loves that holy war. He may be too many for you, and lift you from your feet. But it will be to lift you from earth, and set you in the heavenly places which are their who fight the good fight and lay hold of God as their eternal life.

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

The Soul of Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

The world can no longer be left to mere diplomats,
politicians, and business leaders.
They have done the best they could, no doubt.
But this is an age for spiritual heroes-
a time for men and women to be heroic in their faith
and in spiritual character and power.
The greatest danger to the Christian church today
is that of pitching its message too low.
--- Dallas Willard     The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.
--- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God's creation.
--- Maya Angelou

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 2.

     How Titus Exhibited All Sorts Of Shows At Cesarea Philippi. Concerning Simon The Tyrant How He Was Taken, And Reserved For The Triumph.

     1. Now at the same time that Titus Caesar lay at the siege of Jerusalem, did Vespasian go on board a merchantship and sailed from Alexandria to Rhodes; whence he sailed away in ships with three rows of oars; and as he touched at several cities that lay in his road, he was joyfully received by them all, and so passed over from Ionia into Greece; whence he set sail from Corcyra to the promontory of Iapyx, whence he took his journey by land. But as for Titus, he marched from that Cesarea which lay by the sea-side, and came to that which is named Cesarea Philippi, and staid there a considerable time, and exhibited all sorts of shows there. And here a great number of the captives were destroyed, some being thrown to wild beasts, and others in multitudes forced to kill one another, as if they were their enemies. And here it was that Titus was informed of the seizure of Simon the son of Gioras, which was made after the manner following: This Simon, during the siege of Jerusalem, was in the upper city; but when the Roman army was gotten within the walls, and were laying the city waste, he then took the most faithful of his friends with him, and among them some that were stone-cutters, with those iron tools which belonged to their occupation, and as great a quantity of provisions as would suffice them for a long time, and let himself and all them down into a certain subterraneous cavern that was not visible above ground. Now, so far as had been digged of old, they went onward along it without disturbance; but where they met with solid earth, they dug a mine under ground, and this in hopes that they should be able to proceed so far as to rise from under ground in a safe place, and by that means escape. But when they came to make the experiment, they were disappointed of their hope; for the miners could make but small progress, and that with difficulty also; insomuch that their provisions, though they distributed them by measure, began to fail them. And now Simon, thinking he might be able to astonish and elude the Romans, put on a white frock, and buttoned upon him a purple cloak, and appeared out of the ground in the place where the temple had formerly been. At the first, indeed, those that saw him were greatly astonished, and stood still where they were; but afterward they came nearer to him, and asked him who he was. Now Simon would not tell them, but bid them call for their captain; and when they ran to call him, Terentius Rufus 2 who was left to command the army there, came to Simon, and learned of him the whole truth, and kept him in bonds, and let Caesar know that he was taken. Thus did God bring this man to be punished for what bitter and savage tyranny he had exercised against his countrymen by those who were his worst enemies; and this while he was not subdued by violence, but voluntarily delivered himself up to them to be punished, and that on the very same account that he had laid false accusations against many Jews, as if they were falling away to the Romans, and had barbarously slain them; for wicked actions do not escape the Divine anger, nor is justice too weak to punish offenders, but in time overtakes those that transgress its laws, and inflicts its punishments upon the wicked in a manner, so much more severe, as they expected to escape it on account of their not being punished immediately. 3 Simon was made sensible of this by falling under the indignation of the Romans. This rise of his out of the ground did also occasion the discovery of a great number of others of the seditious at that time, who had hidden themselves under ground. But for Simon, he was brought to Caesar in bonds, when he was come back to that Cesarea which was on the seaside, who gave orders that he should be kept against that triumph which he was to celebrate at Rome upon this occasion.

     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 27:19
     by D.H. Stern

19     Just as water reflects the face,
so one human heart reflects another.

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

                The method of missions

     Go ye therefore and teach (disciple) all nations.
--- Matthew 28:19.

     Jesus Christ did not say—‘Go and save souls’ (the salvation of souls is the supernatural work of God), but—“Go and teach,” i.e., disciple, “all nations,” and you cannot make disciples unless you are a disciple yourself. When the disciples came back from their first mission, they were filled with joy because the devils were subject to them, and Jesus said—‘Don’t rejoice in successful service; the great secret of joy is that you are rightly related to Me.’ The great essential of the missionary is that he remains true to the call of God, and realizes that his one purpose is to disciple men and women to Jesus. There is a passion for souls that does not spring from God, but from the desire to make converts to our point of view.

     The challenge to the missionary does not come on the line that people are difficult to get saved, that backsliders are difficult to reclaim, that there is a ‘wadge’ of callous indifference; but along the line of his own personal relationship to Jesus Christ. “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” Our Lord puts that question steadily, it faces us in every individual case we meet. The one great challenge is—Do I know my risen Lord? Do I know the power of His indwelling Spirit? Am I wise enough in God’s sight, and foolish enough according to the world, to bank on what Jesus Christ has said; or am I abandoning the great supernatural position, which is the only call for a missionary, viz., boundless confidence in Christ Jesus? If I take up any other method, I depart altogether from the method laid down by Our Lord—“All power is given unto Me …, therefore go ye.”

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

The Truce
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                The Truce

That they should not advance
  beyond certain limits left --
  accidentally? -- undefined;
  and that compensation be paid
  by the other side. Meanwhile the
  peasant -- There are no peasants
  in Wales, he said, holding
  his liquor as a gentleman
  should not--went up and down
  his acre, rejecting the pot
  of gold at the rainbow's
  end in favour of earthier
  values: the subsidies gradually
  propagating themselves on the guilt
  of an urban class.
  times! Never all day
  did the procession of popular
  images through the farm
  kitchens cease; it was tiring
  watching. Such truce as was
  called in the invisible
  warfare between bad and
  worse was where two half-truths
  faced one another over
  the body of an exhausted
  nation, each one waiting for
  the other to be proved wrong.


     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     To Maimonides, Hillel and Shammai, as opposed to their students, were in agreement not because they possessed a common tradition, but because they had a similar method of reasoning. Their agreement was not necessary but was the contingent outcome of their similar approaches to law. The logical possibility always existed that Hillel and Shammai would disagree. In fact, Maimonides shows that in specific cases they did disagree:

     But as for their saying that when the disciples [of Hillel and Shammai] who had insufficiently studied, increased, dispute increased, this matter is very clear, for when two people are identical in understanding and in study and knowledge of the principles [Usul] from which they learn, there will not occur at all between them disagreement in what they learn by one of the hermeneutic principles, and if there will be disagreements they will be few, just as we have never found disagreements between Hillel and Shammai other than in a few laws, for their methods of study in all that they would learn by one of the principles were similar to one another, and also the correct general principles which were held by one were held by the other.

     Only in the domain of law based on Sinai was there no possibility for disagreement. By not distinguishing between tradition-based law and reason-based law, men such as Ibn Daud must relegate the arguments in the Talmud to minute details which in principle could have been avoided had the students “waited upon their masters sufficiently.” Maimonides does not censure the students of Hillel and Shammai because he believes that their disagreements stem from their differing mental capacities and methods of interpretation. The similarity of approach of their masters, Hillel and Shammai, was lost by the students:

     And when the study of their students became less and the methods of argument became weakened for them in comparison to Shammai and Hillel, their teachers, disagreement befell them during the give-and-take on many issues, because each one of them reasoned according to the power of his intellect and according to the principles known to him. And one should not blame them for this, for we cannot compel two people who are arguing to argue according to the level of the intellects of Joshua and Pinḥas. Also we are not permitted to have doubts regarding that about which they differed insofar as they are not as Shammai and Hillel or above them, for God Almighty did not obligate us to do so; but He obligated us to listen to the wise men, wise men of any generation whatsoever, as He said, “[you shall] appear before the levitical priests, or the magistrate in charge at the time, and present your problem” (Deut. 17:9). And in this manner befell disagreement, not that they erred in their receiving of tradition and one’s tradition is true and the other’s false. And how clear are these matters to one who reflects on them, and how great is this fundamental principle in the Torah.

     The rabbis of the tradition could be trusted as transmitters of the tradition, despite the occurrence of disagreement in the Talmud, because they understood when they were appealing to reason and when to authoritative tradition. No disagreement ever occurred regarding laws based on authority. But, given the epistemological features of laws emerging from reasoning, disagreement was entirely legitimate. The text which Maimonides uses to justify the existence within Halakhah of laws developed by human reasoning is the same text which removed the prophet from participating as a prophet in halakhic debates and judgments. The appeal of the prophet to the authority of God is incompatible with the logic of legal deliberation. The prophet offers no room for disagreement. The appeal to the authority of God allows either for acceptance or for rejection, based upon whether one is either loyal or disloyal. To affirm loyalty to God, yet also to disagree with what the prophet proclaims, makes no sense.

     At stake in Maimonides’ position is the logical status of legal reasoning. To Maimonides, legal rationality differs both from demonstrative proof and authoritative dictates. In authoritative appeals, only one position is valid: The authority—God—either said or did not say what the prophet claims. Similarly, in demonstrative proof, only one position is acceptable. The conclusion of a demonstrative inference whose premises are true, must also be true; whatever conclusions contradict this demonstrated conclusion must be false. One who disagrees with a demonstrated conclusion is either obstinate or irrational. Maimonides writes in the Guide:

     For in all things whose reality is known through demonstration there is no tug-of-war and no refusal to accept a thing proven—unless indeed such refusal comes from an ignoramus who offers a resistance that is called resistance to demonstration.

     In legal reasoning, however, when one is not simply transmitting a law based on authority, arguments are involved which support conclusions outside of strict entailment. Legal arguments make a position reasonable, sometimes even more reasonable than a rival position. They do not demonstrate that the contradictory is impossible. A judge may issue a verdict on the basis of arguments presented to him, yet he may still feel the weight of counter-arguments which could justify a future appeal of his decision. Since legal argumentation lacks the logical status of demonstrative proof, the procedure of deciding legal issues on the basis of majority rule is rationally comprehensible. In arguments based on demonstrative inference or on questions of fact, such procedure is unjustified and clearly absurd.

     Maimonides, the master of legal rabbinic thought, understood the logical status of legal argumentation. He was well aware of those conditions under which it would make sense to speak of rational disagreement. Only one conclusion is valid when the appeal is to the authority of tradition or to demonstrative reason. The text, “And [you shall] appear before the levitical priests or the magistrate in charge at the time,” is the paradigm-text. By declaring the legitimacy of laws grounded in human reasoning, it prevents the prophet from appearing among scholars of the Halakhah and arguing from a base of prophetic authority. In the house of learning where scholars debate legal matters, one must follow the procedure of legal adjudication to decide which opinion shall prevail:

     … even if one-thousand Prophets who are as Elijah and Elisha would interpret any interpretation, and one-thousand-and-one wise men interpret the opposite of that interpretation, “After the many to follow” (Ex. 23:2) and we follow the position of the one-thousand-and-one wise men, not the position of the one-thousand outstanding Prophets. And thus the Sages say, “By God! Even if Joshua, the son of Nun, had told it to me by his own mouth I should not have obeyed it and not have accepted it!”… even if one-thousand Prophets who are as Elijah and Elisha would interpret any interpretation, and one-thousand-and-one wise men interpret the opposite of that interpretation, “After the many to follow” (Ex. 23:2) and we follow the position of the one-thousand-and-one wise men, not the position of the one-thousand outstanding Prophets. And thus the Sages say, “By God! Even if Joshua, the son of Nun, had told it to me by his own mouth I should not have obeyed it and not have accepted it!”

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     October 27

     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

     When one hears people—passionate in their dislike of any innovation in theology or in religious thinking, declaring it is loyalty to Christ that makes them take their stand, the fact stares at us that it was such people—in their day quite sure that they too were right and working for God’s honor—who crucified our Lord.   The Galilean Accent - Being Some Studies in the Christian Life   In every age since then, they have continued doing it—old, angry, ill-conditioned Prejudice—with his deaf ears and his inhospitable heart.

     Are our hands clean? It is easy to lose the gallant spirit that follows truth unflinchingly wherever truth may lead.

     In the New Testament, however high the writers pitched their thoughts of Christ, they found these thoughts couldn’t meet the facts from their own experience, that they must make their thinking of him ampler still, and they kept doing it joyously. And it is a poor tribute to Christ to say that we have come to the end of him and know everything in him there is to know.

     Suppose in our time a young man suddenly emerged out of an obscure village, a trades worker who had never been much out of his own valley and, talking in that provincial accent of his, told us that our accredited teachers were in many ways wrong and our religion largely obsolete, that he had come to show us a more excellent way, a truer faith—would we listen to him any more than they did then? Do we listen when he does send his messengers to us with some new light? “Christ,” said Tertullian, “did not call himself the custom, but the truth.” And while we are all loyal worshipers of custom, truth has few real disciples. Always it has had to fight its way to victory through hostile minds, distrustful and suspicious.

     “I observe,” wrote Jonathan Edwards in his diary, “that old men seldom have any advantage of new discoveries, because these discoveries are beside a way of thinking they have long been used to. If ever I live to years I will be impartial to all pretended discoveries and receive them, if rational, how long soever I have been used to another way of thinking.” Such an entry in the diary of Caiaphas or Annas, lived out, would have saved us the Cross. Glancing up awestruck at what sins like ours can do, let us, too, pledge ourselves to that, praying God for the open mind that recognizes Jesus when he comes.
--- Arthur John Gossip

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

On This Day   October 27
     My Very Heart Melted

     At the 1771 Methodist Conference in England, John Wesley said, “Our brethren in America call for help. Who is willing to go over?” Francis Asbury, five-foot-six, 150 pounds, sat listening. For months the young man had longed to visit America. So I spoke my mind, and made an offer of myself. It was accepted by Mr. Wesley, who judged I had a call.

     Asbury returned home to break the news to his parents. Though it was grievous, they consented to let me go. My mother is one of the tenderest parents in the world; I believe she was blessed in the present instance with Divine assistance to part with me.

     He sailed on September 4. For three days I was very ill with the seasickness; and no sickness I ever knew was equal to it. But he soon recovered enough to gather his thoughts: I will set down a few things that lie on my mind. Whither am I going? To the New World. What to do? To gain honor? No, if I know my own heart. To get money? No: I am going to live to God, and to bring others so to do.

     Asbury arrived in America on October 27, 1771. This day we landed in Philadelphia where we were directed to the house of Mr. Francis Harris who kindly entertained us and brought us to a large church where we met with a considerable congregation. The people looked on us with pleasure, receiving us as angels of God. When I came near the American shore, my very heart melted within me, to think from whence I came, where I was going, and what I was going about. I feel that God is here. …

     Asbury never returned to England. He plunged into the American wilderness, traveling day and night for years, in all kinds of weather, through all kinds of hardship. He traveled 270,000 miles and wore out one horse after another. All he owned was carried in two saddlebags. When Asbury arrived in America there were fewer than 80 Methodist preachers and 14,000 members. When he died there were 2,000 preachers and 200,000 members.

     We are not preaching about ourselves. Our message is that Jesus Christ is Lord. He also sent us to be your servants. The Scriptures say, “God commanded light to shine in the dark.” Now God is shining in our hearts to let you know that his glory is seen in Jesus Christ.
--- 2 Corinthians 4:5,6.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - October 27

     “It is a faithful saying.” --- 2 Timothy 2:11.

     Paul has four of these “faithful sayings.” The first occurs in 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” The next is in 1 Timothy 4:6, “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.” The third is in 2 Timothy 2:12, “It is a faithful saying—If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him”; and the fourth is in Titus 3:3, “This is a faithful saying, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.” We may trace a connection between these faithful sayings. The first one lays the foundation of our eternal salvation in the free grace of God, as shown to us in the mission of the great Redeemer. The next affirms the double blessedness which we obtain through this salvation—the blessings of the upper and nether springs—of time and of eternity. The third shows one of the duties to which the chosen people are called; we are ordained to suffer for Christ with the promise that “if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” The last sets forth the active form of Christian service, bidding us diligently to maintain good works. Thus we have the root of salvation in free grace; next, the privileges of that salvation in the life which now is, and in that which is to come; and we have also the two great branches of suffering with Christ and serving with Christ, loaded with the fruits of the Spirit. Treasure up these faithful sayings. Let them be the guides of our life, our comfort, and our instruction. The apostle of the Gentiles proved them to be faithful, they are faithful still, not one word shall fall to the ground; they are worthy of all acceptation, let us accept them now, and prove their faithfulness. Let these four faithful sayings be written on the four corners of my house.

          Evening - October 27

     “We are all as an unclean thing.” --- Isaiah 64:6.

     The believer is a new creature, he belongs to a holy generation and a peculiar people—the Spirit of God is in him, and in all respects he is far removed from the natural man; but for all that the Christian is a sinner still. He is so from the imperfection of his nature, and will continue so to the end of his earthly life. The black fingers of sin leave smuts upon our fairest robes. Sin mars our repentance, ere the great Potter has finished it, upon the wheel. Selfishness defiles our tears, and unbelief tampers with our faith. The best thing we ever did apart from the merit of Jesus only swelled the number of our sins; for when we have been most pure in our own sight, yet, like the heavens, we are not pure in God’s sight; and as he charged his angels with folly, much more must he charge us with it, even in our most angelic frames of mind. The song which thrills to heaven, and seeks to emulate seraphic strains, hath human discords in it. The prayer which moves the arm of God is still a bruised and battered prayer, and only moves that arm because the sinless One, the great Mediator, has stepped in to take away the sin of our supplication. The most golden faith or the purest degree of sanctification to which a Christian ever attained on earth, has still so much alloy in it as to be only worthy of the flames, in itself considered. Every night we look in the glass we see a sinner, and had need confess, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Oh, how precious the blood of Christ to such hearts as ours! How priceless a gift is his perfect righteousness! And how bright the hope of perfect holiness hereafter! Even now, though sin dwells in us, its power is broken. It has no dominion; it is a broken-backed snake; we are in bitter conflict with it, but it is with a vanquished foe that we have to deal. Yet a little while and we shall enter victoriously into the city where nothing defileth.

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

Amazing Grace
     October 27

          RISE UP, O MEN OF GOD!

     William P. Merrill, 1867–1954

     … that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the Gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. (Philippians 1:27, 28)

     Our world is filled with much physical and social suffering. Often we prefer to close our eyes to these painful situations that are all around us. It is much more comfortable to associate only with those who live as we do. This kind of attitude within the church will turn any body of believers into nothing more than a religious club.

     If we want to represent our Lord with integrity, we must not compartmentalize the church’s mission. Soul winning and social responsibility are woven intrinsically together and constitute an inherent part of the ministry. A starving person needs both his stomach as well as his soul cared for. Christ’s earthly ministry is a prime model of an ideal balance of caring for body as well as the soul of needy individuals.

     The author of this call-to-action text, William Pierson Merrill, was a Presbyterian minister. He served churches in Philadelphia and Chicago, and he pastored the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York until his retirement in 1938. Merrill wrote “Rise Up, O Men of God!” especially for the brotherhood movement within the Presbyterian churches in 1911. Merrill was also a prolific writer of hymn texts and theological books.

     An important secret of individual happiness is to be employed continually in doing something of value, to be “done with lesser things,” to be totally involved in serving “the King of kings.” And even the cup of water given in Christ’s name will not go unrewarded (Matthew 10:42).

     Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things; give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of kings.
     Rise up, O men of God! His kingdom tarries long. Bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong.
     Rise up, O men of God! The Church for you doth wait, her strength unequal to her task; rise up, and make her great!
     Lift high the cross of Christ! Tread where His feet have trod. As brothers of the Son of man, rise up, O men of God!

     For Today: Deuteronomy 11:13–32; John 12:26; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:7

     Determine by word and example to be a challenge to the members of your church by being more aggressively involved in an outreach ministry to your community. Reflect again on this musical truth ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Friday, October 27, 2017 | After Pentecost

On the same date: SS. Simon and Jude, Evening Prayer Proper 24, Friday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 31
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 35
Old Testament     Ezra 3:1–13
New Testament     1 Corinthians 16:10–24
Gospel     Matthew 12:22–32

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 31

To the leader. A Psalm of David.

1 In you, O LORD, I seek refuge;
do not let me ever be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me.
2 Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me.

3 You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
4 take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

6 You hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the LORD.
7 I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have taken heed of my adversities,
8 and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.

9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
and my bones waste away.

11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
a horror to my neighbors,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many—
terror all around!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
16 Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.
17 Do not let me be put to shame, O LORD,
for I call on you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go dumbfounded to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be stilled
that speak insolently against the righteous
with pride and contempt.

19 O how abundant is your goodness
that you have laid up for those who fear you,
and accomplished for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of everyone!
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from human plots;
you hold them safe under your shelter
from contentious tongues.

21 Blessed be the LORD,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was beset as a city under seige.
22 I had said in my alarm,
“I am driven far from your sight.”
But you heard my supplications
when I cried out to you for help.

23 Love the LORD, all you his saints.
The LORD preserves the faithful,
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 35

Of David.

1 Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
and rise up to help me!
3 Draw the spear and javelin
against my pursuers;
say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”

4 Let them be put to shame and dishonor
who seek after my life.
Let them be turned back and confounded
who devise evil against me.
5 Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the LORD driving them on.
6 Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the LORD pursuing them.

7 For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause they dug a pit for my life.
8 Let ruin come on them unawares.
And let the net that they hid ensnare them;
let them fall in it—to their ruin.

9 Then my soul shall rejoice in the LORD,
exulting in his deliverance.
10 All my bones shall say,
“O LORD, who is like you?
You deliver the weak
from those too strong for them,
the weak and needy from those who despoil them.”

11 Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me about things I do not know.
12 They repay me evil for good;
my soul is forlorn.
13 But as for me, when they were sick,
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting.
I prayed with head bowed on my bosom,
14 as though I grieved for a friend or a brother;
I went about as one who laments for a mother,
bowed down and in mourning.

15 But at my stumbling they gathered in glee,
they gathered together against me;
ruffians whom I did not know
tore at me without ceasing;
16 they impiously mocked more and more,
gnashing at me with their teeth.

17 How long, O LORD, will you look on?
Rescue me from their ravages,
my life from the lions!
18 Then I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.

19 Do not let my treacherous enemies rejoice over me,
or those who hate me without cause wink the eye.
20 For they do not speak peace,
but they conceive deceitful words
against those who are quiet in the land.
21 They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, “Aha, Aha,
our eyes have seen it.”

22 You have seen, O LORD; do not be silent!
O Lord, do not be far from me!
23 Wake up! Bestir yourself for my defense,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
24 Vindicate me, O LORD, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and do not let them rejoice over me.
25 Do not let them say to themselves,
“Aha, we have our heart’s desire.”
Do not let them say, “We have swallowed you up.”

26 Let all those who rejoice at my calamity
be put to shame and confusion;
let those who exalt themselves against me
be clothed with shame and dishonor.

27 Let those who desire my vindication
shout for joy and be glad,
and say evermore,
“Great is the LORD,
who delights in the welfare of his servant.”
28 Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all day long.

Old Testament
Ezra 3:1–13

3 When the seventh month came, and the Israelites were in the towns, the people gathered together in Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel with his kin set out to build the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as prescribed in the law of Moses the man of God. 3 They set up the altar on its foundation, because they were in dread of the neighboring peoples, and they offered burnt offerings upon it to the LORD, morning and evening. 4 And they kept the festival of booths, as prescribed, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the ordinance, as required for each day, 5 and after that the regular burnt offerings, the offerings at the new moon and at all the sacred festivals of the LORD, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offering to the LORD. 6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid. 7 So they gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and the Tyrians to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the grant that they had from King Cyrus of Persia.

8 In the second year after their arrival at the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak made a beginning, together with the rest of their people, the priests and the Levites and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity. They appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to have the oversight of the work on the house of the LORD. 9 And Jeshua with his sons and his kin, and Kadmiel and his sons, Binnui and Hodaviah along with the sons of Henadad, the Levites, their sons and kin, together took charge of the workers in the house of God.

10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the LORD with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel; 11 and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD,

“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away.

New Testament
1 Corinthians 16:10–24

10 If Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord just as I am; 11 therefore let no one despise him. Send him on his way in peace, so that he may come to me; for I am expecting him with the brothers.

12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but he was not at all willing to come now. He will come when he has the opportunity.

13 Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. 15 Now, brothers and sisters, you know that members of the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints; 16 I urge you to put yourselves at the service of such people, and of everyone who works and toils with them. 17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence; 18 for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. So give recognition to such persons.

19 The churches of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, greet you warmly in the Lord. 20 All the brothers and sisters send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. 22 Let anyone be accursed who has no love for the Lord. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 12:22–32

22 Then they brought to him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see. 23 All the crowds were amazed and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.” 25 He knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? 27 If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church

Book Of Common Prayer
     On The Same Date | Vigil | Holy Day

Eve Of SS. Simon And Jude
Evening Prayer—Eves Of Apostles And Evangelists
Years 1 & 2

On the same date: Proper 24, Friday

Psalms     Psalm 48, 122 or Psalm 84, 150
Old Testament     Isaiah 43:10–15 or Isaiah 52:7–10
New Testament     Revelation 21:1–4, 9–14 or Matthew 9:35–10:4

Index of Readings

Option A
Psalm 48, 122

Psalm 48
A Song. A Psalm of the Korahites.

1 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, 2 beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
the city of the great King.
3 Within its citadels God
has shown himself a sure defense.

4 Then the kings assembled,
they came on together.
5 As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
they were in panic, they took to flight;
6 trembling took hold of them there,
pains as of a woman in labor,
7 as when an east wind shatters
the ships of Tarshish.
8 As we have heard, so have we seen
in the city of the LORD of hosts,
in the city of our God,
which God establishes forever.     Selah

9 We ponder your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
10 Your name, O God, like your praise,
reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with victory.
11 Let Mount Zion be glad,
let the towns of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments.

12 Walk about Zion, go all around it,
count its towers,
13 consider well its ramparts;
go through its citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
14 that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will be our guide forever.

Psalm 122
A Song of Ascents. Of David.

1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
2 Our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

3 Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together.
4 To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 For there the thrones for judgment were set up,
the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
7 Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers.”
8 For the sake of my relatives and friends
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good.

Option B
Psalm 84, 150

Psalm 84
To the leader: according to The Gittith. Of the Korahites. A Psalm.

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
4 Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise. Selah

5 Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!     Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed.

10 For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the LORD withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Psalm 150

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty firmament!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his surpassing greatness!

3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with clanging cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

Old Testament
Option A
Isaiah 43:10–15

10 You are my witnesses, says the LORD,
and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
11 I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.
12 I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses, says the LORD.
13 I am God, and also henceforth I am He;
there is no one who can deliver from my hand;
I work and who can hinder it?

14 Thus says the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
For your sake I will send to Babylon
and break down all the bars,
and the shouting of the Chaldeans will be turned to lamentation.
15 I am the LORD, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King.

Option B
Isaiah 52:7–10

7 How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
8 Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of the LORD to Zion.
9 Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the LORD has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The LORD has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

New Testament
Option A
Revelation 21:1–4, 9–14

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
4he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”

9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Option B
Matthew 9:35–10:4

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

10 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church

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