|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:1-16 The prophet shows the glory of Israel's God, and exposes the folly of idolaters. Charms and other attempts to obtain supernatural help, or to pry into futurity, are copied from the wicked customs of the heathen. Let us stand in awe, and not dare provoke God, by giving that glory to another which is due to him alone. He is ready to forgive, and save all who repent and believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. Faith learns these blessed truths from the word of God; but all knowledge not from that source, leads to doctrines of vanity.
Verse 8. - Brutish and foolish. In fact, the original meaning of the idolatrous religions had begun, probably, to fade, and the worship of Bel and Nebo had become (as the worship of the Egyptian gods became at a later period) increasingly formal and ritualistic. The stock is a doctrine of vanities; rather, an instruction of vanities; i.e. all that the idols can teach is vanities. Against this is the plural ("vanities," not vanity); it is more natural (and also more in accordance with usage; comp. Genesis 41:26, Hebrew) to render, the instruction of the vanities is wooden ("vanities" has the constant technical sense of "idols;" see Jeremiah 8:19; Jeremiah 14:22; Deuteronomy 32:21; Psalm 31:6). The clause then furnishes a reason for the folly of the heathen; how should they attain to more than a "wooden" knowledge, when the idols themselves are but wood? A bitter truth in an ironical form.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But they are altogether brutish and foolish,.... In comparison of the Lord, there is no knowledge and wisdom in them, this is a certain fact; they are verily brutish and foolish; or they are one and all so, there is not a wise man among them: or, "in one thing they are brutish" (r), &c.; namely, in their idolatry; however wise they may be in other respects, in this they are foolish: or, to give no more instances of their brutishness (s) and folly, this one is sufficient, even what follows,
the stock is a doctrine of vanities; or what they teach persons, as to worship the trunk of a tree, or any idol of metal, or of wood, is a most vain and foolish thing, and argues gross stupidity and folly, and proves them to be brutish, and without understanding.
(r) "in hoc uno Munster", Tigurine version; "et certe in una quadem re obbrutescunt", Piscator. So Jarchi and Abarbinel. (s) The Talmudists seem to take the word to have the signification of burning; for the sense of these words being asked, it is replied, there is one thing that burns the wicked in hell; what is it? idolatry; as it is here written, "a doctrine of vanities is the stock."
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. altogether—rather, "all alike" [Maurer]. Even the so-called "wise" men (Jer 10:7) of the Gentiles are on a level with the brutes and "foolish," namely, because they connive at the popular idolatry (compare Ro 1:21-28). Therefore, in Daniel and Revelation, the world power is represented under a bestial form. Man divests himself of his true humanity, and sinks to the level of the brute, when he severs his connection with God (Ps 115:8; Jon 2:8).
stock is a doctrine of vanities—The stock (put for the worship of all idols whatever, made out of a stock) speaks for itself that the whole theory of idolatry is vanity (Isa 44:9-11). Castalio translates, "the very wood itself confuting the vanity" (of the idol).
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