Jeremiah 18:18
Then said they, Come and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Come, and let us devise devices.—The priests and people thus far appear to have listened to the prophet, but at the threatening words of the preceding verse their anger becomes hatred, and their hatred seeks to kill (Jeremiah 18:23). We are reminded of the oft-recurring statement in the Gospels that priests and elders “took counsel” against our Lord to “put Him to death” (Matthew 12:14; Matthew 27:1; Mark 3:6; Luke 6:11; et al.).

For the law shall not perish . . .—The words meant apparently (1) that they had enough guidance in the Law, in the priests, and in the prophets who met their wishes, and (2) that they might trust in the continuance of that guidance in spite of the threatenings of destruction that the prophet had just spoken. The words are suggestive as showing the precise nature of the guidance expected from each. The priests interpret the Law, the wise give the counsel of experience, the prophet speaks what claims to be the word, or message, of the Lord. A striking parallel is found in Ezekiel 7:26.

Come, and let us smite him with the tongue.—We probably find the result of the conspiracy in the measures taken by Pashur in Jeremiah 20:1-3. He had “heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things,” and we may well believe that his informants were some of those who thus announced their intentions. There is no sufficient reason for the marginal reading, “for the tongue.”

Jeremiah 18:18. Then said they, Come, &c. — Namely, after they had heard from Jeremiah what God had ordered him to say to them concerning their destruction; for this seems to be understood. Let us devise devices against Jeremiah — Let us accuse him of being a false prophet; for the law shall not perish from the priest, &c. — For his threatenings plainly contradict God’s promises made to his people. “They seem to have been incensed against him on much the same ground as the Jews, in aftertimes, were against our Saviour and his apostles. They had persuaded themselves, that God had intended for them a perpetual establishment; and would accordingly provide them with a constant succession of man, in all departments, to preserve and maintain the general welfare; namely, priests to direct in all matters of law and religion; wise statesmen to manage their civil concerns; and prophets to make known to them the immediate will of God on all important and extraordinary occasions. Upon this presumption they inferred, that Jeremiah, who foretold the contrary, was a false prophet, and, as such, they determined to punish him.” — Blaney. Let us smite him with the tongue — Let us calumniate and disparage him, traducing him as an enemy to his country. Let us accuse him of crimes against the state, and by that means take away his life; then all his prophecies will die with him. In the margin we read, for the tongue, which may signify, “Let us punish him for his malignant speeches.” “But I rather think,” says Blaney, “we should render it, Let us smite him on the tongue, that is, on the offending part; alluding to a very significant mode of inflicting punishment, by directing it to that particular member which had the most immediate share in the offence, although here it may possibly carry this general import only, ‘Let us punish him so as effectually to silence him.’“18:18-23 When the prophet called to repentance, instead of obeying the call, the people devised devices against him. Thus do sinners deal with the great Intercessor, crucifying him afresh, and speaking against him on earth, while his blood is speaking for them in heaven. But the prophet had done his duty to them; and the same will be our rejoicing in a day of evil.The Jews were only hardened by the foregoing prophecy, and determined to compass Jeremiah's death.

Let us devise devices - i. e., "deliberately frame a plot" for his ruin (see Jeremiah 18:11 note).

The law shall not perish ... - As the Law of Moses was imperishable, the people probably drew the conclusion that the Levitical priesthood must also endure forever, and therefore that Jeremiah's predictions of national ruin were blasphemous (compare Acts 6:13-14).

Let us smite him with the tongue - Their purpose was to carry a malicious report of what he had said to king Jehoiakim, and so stir up his anger against him.

18. (Jer 11:19). Let us bring a capital charge against him, as a false prophet; "for (whereas he foretells that this land shall be left without priests to teach the law, Mal 2:7; without scribes to explain its difficulties; and without prophets to reveal God's will), the law shall not perish from the prophet," &c.; since God has made these a lasting institution in His church, and the law declares they shall never perish (Le 6:18; 10:11; compare Jer 5:12) [Grotius].

the wise—scribes and elders joined to the priests. Perhaps they mean to say, we must have right on our side, in spite of Jeremiah's words against us and our prophets (Jer 28:15, 16; 29:25, 32; 5:31); "for the law shall not perish," &c. I prefer Grotius' explanation.

with … tongue—by a false accusation (Ps 57:4; 64:3; 12:4; 50:19). "For the tongue" (Margin), that is, for his speaking against us. "In the tongue," that is, let us kill him, that he may speak no more against us [Castalio].

This faithful dealing of the prophet with them did only enrage them (as is usual) against the prophet; they plot against the prophet, how to be revenged on him, because he would cross their humours, and would not prophesy as they would have had him.

For the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet; we have the church on our side; the regular priests and the prophets, they know God’s mind as well as he; for there is a promise that the law shall not perish from the priest, nor the word from the prophet; the priests and prophets tell us other things than this Jeremiah doth.

Let us smite him with the tongue, expose him by railing on him, telling lies about concerning him, representing him to be what we know the people hate, abusing him to his face, informing against him; or, in the tongue, let us silence him, command him to speak no more; or, for his tongue, for prophesying at this rate; and for his

words, let us not value them at a rush, nor at all regard them. Then said they, come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah,.... Being enraged at the judgments threatened them, they propose to enter into a confederacy and consultation together, to think of ways and means to stop the mouth of the prophet, and even to take away his life; since he had told them that God had devised a device against them, they were for devising devices against him; that so they might walk after their own devices, without being teased and tormented with this prophet:

for the law shall not perish from the priest; whose business it is to teach it; we have other priests besides Jeremiah, and we shall seek the law at their mouths, and not at his; and perhaps these are the words of the priests themselves, the men of Anathoth; so Jarchi thinks; pleasing themselves with their character and office, and the perpetuity of it; that, notwithstanding what Jeremiah had said, there would be a constant succession of this order of then; nor should the law ever cease from being aught by them, to whose instruction men ought to listen, and not to such a prophet:

nor counsel from the wise; we have wise rulers and governors, counsellors of state, and members of the sanhedrim, and judges of all controversies, and who are capable of giving advice upon any occasion; nor shall we ever want such, to whose prudent counsel we do well to attend, and not to what this babbling man says; does he think to know better than our statesmen and sages, our counsellors in church and state?

nor the word from the prophet; we have prophets among us, that prophesy as well as he, and better things; and whose words of prophecy shall be fulfilled, when his will not; who assure us that we shall have peace and prosperity; and therefore let us not regard what this man says, or be intimidated by his threatenings:

come, and let us smite him with the tongue; by saying all the evil we can of him: by threatening him with pains and penalties; by loading him with reproaches and calumnies; by taking away his good name, and lessening his character and reputation among the people; and so the Targum,

"let us bear false witness against him;''

or, "let us smite him in the tongue" (c); cut it out, as Abarbinel; or stop his mouth, and hinder him from speaking any more in this manner to the people; or, "let us smite him for the tongue" (d); because of the words he says, or the prophecies he delivers out:

and let us not give heed to any of his words; or, "to all his words" (e); all which they reckoned his own, and not the words of the Lord. The Septuagint version is, "and we shall hear all his words"; we shall provoke him to say all he has to say, and shall hear and have enough out of his mouth to condemn him; and in all this, and in many other things that follow, Jeremiah was a type of Christ, to whom Jerom applies the whole passage.

(c) "in lingua", Montanus, Castalio. (d) Propter "linguam istam", Junius & Tremellius. (e) "ad omnia verba ejus", Gataker; "ad universa verba ejus", Pagninus, Montanus.

Then said they, Come, and let us devise plots against Jeremiah; for the law {g} shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the {h} tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.

(g) This argument the wicked have always used against the servants of God. The church cannot err: we are the Church, and therefore whoever speaks against us, they ought to die, 1Ki 22:24, Jer 7:4,20:2, Mal 2:4 and thus the false Church persecutes the true Church, which stands not in outward pomp, and in multitude, but is known by the graces of the Holy Spirit.

(h) Let us slander him and accuse him: for we will be believed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. they] the prophet’s enemies, who are plotting against his life. Cp. Jeremiah 11:18 ff., Jeremiah 12:1 ff., Jeremiah 15:10 f., 15 ff.

the law shall not perish …] See on ch. Jeremiah 8:8. Cp. Ezekiel 7:26 (last part of v.). “The wise” were those who composed such sayings as we find in Proverbs. The sense is that the people refuse to believe Jeremiah’s warnings that the established state of things shall cease.

smite him with the tongue] utter destructive slanders about him. Cp. Amos 7:10 f.

let us not give heed] LXX omit the negative. The sense would then be, Let us watch him, so as to fasten on him a charge of treason. Cp. Jeremiah 20:10.

18–23. See introd. note to section.Verses 18-23. - A fresh conspiracy (comp. Jeremiah 11:18), called forth by the preceding discourse; Jeremiah's prayer. Verse 18. - The law - or rather, direction, instruction, which was a special function of the priests (Deuteronomy 33:10; Deuteronomy 17:9-11) - shall not perish from the priest. The Jews were but obeying the Deuteronomic Law (on which Jeremiah, as we have seen, laid so much stress) in alluding to the priests. Unhappily, the priests in Jeremiah's time (Jeremiah 2:26), as in Isaiah's (Isaiah 28:7), were forgetful of their high mission. Nor counsel from the wise. The wise men formed an important order in Jewish society, the importance of which in the Divine education of Israel has not been sufficiently recognized. It was their custom to sit in public places, generally in the chambered recess in the city gate, and give advice on questions of moral practice to those who applied for it. But there were wise men and wise men. Some appear, to have "mocked" at the earnest preaching of the prophets (hence the solemn rebukes in the Book of Proverbs), others to have as it were prepared the way for the latter by a more or less distinct recognition of the religious foundation of morality, and of these we have ample monuments in the canonical Proverbs. There may also have been other shades and varieties of wise men, for their characteristic was not a faculty of intuition, but rather of reflectively applying fundamental moral principles. One highly esteemed branch of "wisdom" would, of course, be political, and this would be the most liable to perversion. It is of such (Proverbs 29:14). Nor the word from the prophet. "The word" is a general term for prophesying. Of course, the speakers take no account of the advance in prophecy from the time, at any rate, of Amos. They are satisfied with the lower order of prophets ("false prophets," as the Septuagint calls them); but still they are afraid of Jeremiah, much as Balak was afraid of Balaam, when that soothsayer was blessing Israel (Numbers 23:25). Smite him with the tongue; i.e. by slanderous accusations. The same figure as in Jeremiah 9:3, 8. Application of the emblem to Judah. - Jeremiah 18:11. "And now speak to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying: Thus hath Jahveh said: Behold, I frame against you evil and devise against you a device. Return ye, now, each from his evil way, and better your ways and your doings. Jeremiah 18:12. But they say: There is no use! For our imaginations will we follow, and each do the stubbornness of his evil heart. Jeremiah 18:13. Therefore thus hath Jahveh said: Ask now among the heathen! who hath heard the like? A very horrible thing hath the virgin of Israel done! Jeremiah 18:14. Does the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock of the field? or do strange, cold trickling waters dry up? Jeremiah 18:15. For my people hath forgotten me; to the vanity they offer odours; they have made them to stumble upon their ways, the everlasting paths, to walk in by-paths, a way not cast up. Jeremiah 18:16. To make their land a dismay, a perpetual hissing, every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and shake his head. Jeremiah 18:17. Like the east wind I will scatter them before the enemy; with the back and not with the face will I look upon them in the day of their ruin."

Jeremiah 18:11-12

In Jeremiah 18:11 and Jeremiah 18:12 what was said at Jeremiah 18:6. is applied to Judah. יצר, from in sense of prepare (cf. Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 37:26), is chosen with special reference to the potter (יוצר). מחשׁבה, the thought, design, here in virtue of the parallelism: evil plot, as often both with and without רעה; cf. Esther 8:3, Esther 8:5; Esther 9:25; Ezekiel 38:10. The call to repentance runs much as do Jeremiah 35:15 and Jeremiah 7:3. - But this call the people reject disdainfully, replying that they are resolved to abide by their evil courses. ואמרוּ, not: they said, but: they say; the perf. consec. of the action repeating itself at the present time; cf. Ew. 342, b. 1. נואשׁ as in Jeremiah 2:25; on "stubbornness of their evil heart," cf. Jeremiah 3:17. By this answer the prophet makes them condemn themselves out of their own mouth; cf. Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 30:10.

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