Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
Signs of heaven - Extraordinary appearances, such as eclipses, comets, and the like, which seemed to the pagan to portend national calamities. To attribute importance to them is to walk in pagan ways.
For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
The customs - Better, as the marg, "the ordinances," established institutions, "of the peoples, i. e." pagan nations.
They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
They deck it - It was covered with plates of gold and silver, and then fastened with nails in its place, that it might not "more, i. e." tumble down.
The agreement in this and the following verses with the argument in Isaiah 40-44 is so manifest, that no one can doubt that the one is modelled upon the other. If, therefore, Jeremiah took the thoughts and phrases from Isaiah, it is plain that the last 27 chapters of Isaiah were prior in date to Jeremiah's time, and were not therefore written at the close of the Babylonian exile. This passage then is a crucial one to the pseudo-Isaiah theory. Two answers are attempted,
(1) that the pseudo-Isaiah borrowed from Jeremiah. But this is refuted by the style, which is not that usual with Jeremiah.
(2) that it is an interpolation in Jeremiah.
But how then are we to account for its being found in the Septuagint Version? The only argument of real importance is that these verses break the continuity of thought; but the whole chapter is somewhat fragmentary, and not so closely connected as the previous three. Still there is a connection. The prophet had just included all Israel under the ban of uncircumcision: he now shows them their last chance of safety by enlarging upon the truth, that (compare Jeremiah 9:23-24) their true glory is their God, not an idol of wood, but the King of nations. Then comes the sad feeling that they have rejected God and chosen idols Jeremiah 10:17-18; then the nation's deep grief Jeremiah 10:19-22 and earnest prayer Jeremiah 10:23-25. It is quite possible that only portions of the concluding part of Jeremiah's templesermon were embodied in Baruch's scroll, and that had the whole been preserved, we should have found the thoughts as orderly in development as those in Jeremiah 7-9.
They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
They are upright ... - Rather, "They are like a palm tree of turned work, i. e." like one of those stiff inelegant pillars, something like a palm tree, which may be seen in oriental architecture. Some translate thus: "They are like pillar's in a garden of cucumbers, i. e." like the blocks set up to frighten away the birds; but none of the ancient versions support this rendering.
Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.
For as much as - Or, "No one is like unto thee, O Jehovah." In Jeremiah 10:6-11, the prophet contrasts God's greatness with the impotence of idols.
Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.
O King of nations - i. e., pagan nations. Yahweh is not the national God of the Jews only, but He reigns over all mankind Psalm 22:28.
It - i. e., everything.
In all their kingdoms - More correctly, "in all their royalty or kingship."
But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.
Brutish - Jeremiah 10:21 and foolish Theirs was the brutishness of men in a savage state, little better than mere animals: their folly that of stupidity.
The stock ... - Rather, the instruction of idols is a piece of wood. That is what they are themselves, and "ex nihilo nihil fit" (from nothingness, nothing is made).
Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.
Or, "It is a piece of wood (Jeremiah 10:8 note); yea, beaten silver it is, which is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz: it is the work etc."
Tarshish ... Uphaz - See the marginal reference and Genesis 10:4. Possibly Uphaz was a place in the neighborhood of the River Hyphasis.
Blue and purple - Both colors were purple, from dyes obtained from shellfish: but the former had a violet, the latter a red tinge.
But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.
Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
This verse is (in the original) in Chaldee. It was probably a proverbial saying, which Jeremiah inserts in its popular form.
He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
Discretion - Or, understanding. The three attributes ascribed to the Creator are very remarkable. The creation of the earth, the material world, is an act of "power;" the "establishing," i. e., the ordering and arranging it as a place fit for man's abode, is the work of his "wisdom;" while the spreading out the heavens over it like a tent is an act of "understanding," or skill. Naturally, the consideration of these attributes has led many to see here an allusion to the Holy Trinity.
When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.
When ... - i. e., the rushing downpour of rain follows immediately upon the thunder. The rest of the verse is identical with marginal reference; but probably the words belong to Jeremiah, the Psalm being of comparatively late date.
With rain - For the rain Psalm 135:7.
Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.
In his knowledge - Rather, "without knowledge; i. e., on comparing his powerless idols with the terrific grandeur of a tropical thunderstorm the man who can still worship them instead of the Creator is destitute of knowledge.
Every founder ... - Or, "every goldsmith is put to shame etc." He has exhausted his skill on what remains an image.
They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.
Rather, "They are vanity, a work of mockery," deserving only ridicule and contempt.
The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts is his name.
The portion, of Jacob - i. e., Yahweh. He is not like gods made by a carpenter and goldsmith.
Of all things - literally, of the all, the universe.
Gather up thy wares out of the land, O inhabitant of the fortress.
The prophet now returns to the main subject of his sermon, the conquest of Judaea.
Thy wares - Rather, thy bundle, which could contain a few articles for necessary use, and be carried in the hand. They are going into exile.
O inhabitant of the fortress - i. e., thou that art besieged, that inhabitest a besieged town.
For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will sling out the inhabitants of the land at this once, and will distress them, that they may find it so.
Sling out - A similar metaphor for violent ejection occurs in Isaiah 22:18 (see the note).
At this once - Or, "at this time." Previous invasions had ended either in deliverance, or at most in temporary misfortune. God's long-suffering is exhausted, and this time Judaea must cease to be an independent nation.
That they may find it so - Omit "so," and explain either
(1) "I will distress them" with the rigors of a siege "that they may feel it, i. e., the distress; or,
(2) "that they may find" Me, God, that which alone is worth finding.
Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.
The lamentation of the daughter of Zion, the Jewish Church, at the devastation of the land, and her humble prayer to God for mercy.
Grievous - Rather, "mortal," i. e., fatal, incurable.
A grief - Or, "my grief."
My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.
tabernacle - i. e., "tent." Jerusalem laments that her tent is plundered and her children carried into exile, and so "are not," are dead Matthew 2:18, either absolutely, or dead to her in the remote land of their captivity. They can aid the widowed mother no longer in pitching her tent, or in hanging up the curtains round about it.
For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.
Therefore they shall not prosper - Rather, "therefore they have not governed wisely." "The pastors," i. e., the kings and rulers Jeremiah 2:8, having sunk to the condition of barbarous and untutored men, could not govern wisely.
Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a den of dragons.
The "great commotion" is the confused noise of the army on its march (see Jeremiah 8:16).
Dragons - i. e., jackals; see the marginal reference.
O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
At the rumour of the enemy's approach Jeremiah utters in the name of the nation a supplication appropriate to men overtaken by the divine justice.
O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.
With judgment - In Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 46:28, the word "judgment" (with a different preposition) is rendered "in measure." The contrast therefore is between punishment inflicted in anger, and that inflicted as a duty of justice, of which the object is the criminal's reformation. Jeremiah prays that God would punish Jacob so far only as would bring him to true repentance, but that he would pour forth his anger upon the pagan, as upon that which opposes itself to God Jeremiah 10:25.
Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.