Jeremiah 33
Benson Commentary
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying,
Jeremiah 33:1. The word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time — See note on Jeremiah 32:2. Jeremiah being forced out of the temple, God follows him to the prison, and there reveals his mind to him once and again. The wickedness of the Jews in persecuting the prophet could not make God’s promises of no effect respecting mercy to be shown to the people after the captivity; which promises, though made before, are here confirmed a second time.

Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name;
Jeremiah 33:2. Thus saith the Lord, the maker thereof — That is, as many interpreters understand it, of the city of Jerusalem, a figure of that church spoken of before: see Jeremiah 32:36; Jeremiah 32:44, compared with the 4th, 6th, and 9th verses of this chapter. Blaney, however, renders the clause, Thus saith Jehovah the doer of it, Jehovah the framer of it, who also disposeth it, considering the pronoun it as referring to the thing which God here says he is about to do.

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
Jeremiah 33:3. Call unto me, and I will answer thee — An expression manifesting God’s favour and loving kindness; that he was ready to comply with the first intimations of his servant’s desires. Compare Jeremiah 29:12. God, by thus directing his discourse to Jeremiah, not only signified his kindness toward him, but likewise the affection he still bore to his people, for, whom this prophet so earnestly interceded, and whose welfare he had so much at heart. And show thee great and mighty things — That is, give thee a clear and full prospect of them. Hebrew, גדלות ובצרות, great and abstruse, or, hidden things, as some render the words; which thou knowest not — And canst not know without further revelation, meaning, probably, not only what related to the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, but likewise the blessings to be conferred upon them in the times of the Messiah.

For thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which are thrown down by the mounts, and by the sword;
Jeremiah 33:4-5. Thus saith the Lord concerning the houses of this city — Not excepting those of the kings of Judah, thrown down by the mounts — Namely, by the battering engines placed upon the mounts, which were raised against the walls of the city; and by the sword — By the violence of war. The Hebrew word generally rendered sword may mean any instrument of iron, and particularly such as were used in demolishing any building. It is rendered a mattock by our translators, 2 Chronicles 24:6, and axes, Ezekiel 26:9. They come to fight with the Chaldeans — Most interpreters understand this as spoken of the Jews sallying forth against the Chaldeans, to beat them off from the siege, which they attempted to do in vain, and to their own destruction, only thus filling the houses of Jerusalem with the dead bodies of their men, who died of the wounds received from the Chaldeans in making those sallies. And the verse is thought to come in by way of parenthesis, between the fourth and sixth, to show that at present God would not prosper any efforts that were made for the defence of the city, though he would restore it hereafter to its former splendour.

They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but it is to fill them with the dead bodies of men, whom I have slain in mine anger and in my fury, and for all whose wickedness I have hid my face from this city.
Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.
Jeremiah 33:6-8. Behold, I will bring it health and cure — The latter part of this verse expounds the former: for, by health and cure, the prophet means peace and truth, or, stability. Blaney renders it, I will make it, namely, the city or state perfectly sound and whole. The disturbed and calamitous state of the nation being compared to wounds and sickness, (see Jeremiah 8:21-22; Jeremiah 30:17,) the restoring of it to a peaceful and prosperous state is fitly called its health and cure. And will build them as at the first — When they, by repentance, do their first works, God will, by their restoration, manifest toward them his ancient mercies and loving- kindnesses. He will not only cause their captivity to return, as is expressed, in plain words, in the former clause, but will re-establish them in the possession of their civil and religious privileges, and hereby promote both their virtue and happiness. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity — I will make them pious and holy, as well as virtuous and happy; and I will pardon all their iniquities — Will not impute their past sins any longer to them as I have done, but will remit the further punishments to which for sin they were liable.

And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first.
And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.
And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.
Jeremiah 33:9. And it shall be to me a praise and an honour — Jerusalem thus rebuilt, and Judah thus re-established, shall be to my glory before all the nations. In other words, it is foretold here that God’s especial providence over the Jews, in restoring their city and temple, and re-establishing them in their own land, should be taken notice of by the heathen world, and should cause them to give glory to that God whom the Jews worshipped: see Ezra 1:2; Ezra 6:12. Or, as the words may imply, This renewed nation shall be as much a reputation to religion as formerly they were a reproach to it. This promise, however, has been much more signally fulfilled in the Christian Church, to which the heathen resorted, as to the seat and temple of truth, than it has yet been in the Jewish. And they shall fear and tremble for the goodness that I do unto it — These surprising effects of my goodness shall produce an astonishment like that which arises from fear. Or, the meaning is, They shall fear to engage against a nation so beloved and favoured by me, Exodus 15:14-16.

Thus saith the LORD; Again there shall be heard in this place, which ye say shall be desolate without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast,
Jeremiah 33:10-11. Again there shall be heard in this place which ye say shall be desolate — See note on Jeremiah 32:43; the voice of joy and the voice of gladness — The contrary to what takes place in the times of captivity and desolation. The voice of them that shall say, Praise ye the Lord, for the Lord is good, &c. — We read, (Ezra 3:11,) that those who returned from captivity used this very hymn. And of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord — Such as was wont to be offered upon any great deliverance. See Leviticus 7:12; Psalm 107:22; Psalm 116:17. The Hebrew, מבאים תודה, is literally, of them that bring praise, or, thanksgiving, there being nothing for the word sacrifice. This, however, is called by St. Paul, the sacrifice of praise, even the fruit of our lips, (Hebrews 13:15,) to distinguish it from the oblations commanded by the law, which consisted of the fruits of the ground, or of the flock and herd. The sum of this verse is, that those who were carried into captivity should return, and, upon their return, should be in their former state as to civil transactions, marrying and giving in marriage; and, as to religion, should publicly praise the Lord with holy and spiritual joy, as they had been wont to do in the best and most prosperous times of their commonwealth, which was fulfilled, as we see, Nehemiah 12:27-40.

The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Again in this place, which is desolate without man and without beast, and in all the cities thereof, shall be an habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down.
Jeremiah 33:12-13. Again in this place shall be a habitation for shepherds, &c. — See Jeremiah 50:19; Isaiah 65:10. In those places which were desolate, without man and beast, there should be flocks and herds of sheep and goats, which the shepherds should take care of as in former times. And in the cities of Judah shall the flocks pass again under the hands of him that telleth them — Namely, so as to keep account of them, as they were wont to do, both morning and evening in those countries. Virgil alludes to the same custom, when he says, Ecclesiastes 3., Bisque die numerant ambo pecus, alter et hædos; Twice each day they count my goats and sheep. See Leviticus 27:32, where תחת חשׁבשׂ, passing under the rod, means their being numbered, the shepherds striking every sheep with his rod, or crook, as it passed out of the fold, and so counting them; and the expression here made use of, על ידי מונה, under the hand of him that numbers them, seems to signify the same thing.

In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the vale, and in the cities of the south, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, shall the flocks pass again under the hands of him that telleth them, saith the LORD.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.
Jeremiah 33:14-16. Behold, the days come that I will perform that good thing, &c. — The Lord’s word is not yea and nay: he cannot lie, or repent. There shall come a time when he will verify every good word which he hath spoken to, or concerning, his people. In those days will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up to David — The kings they had hitherto had of the line of David were most of them unrighteous men; but God here promises that after the captivity they should have a branch of David that would execute judgment and righteousness in the land, for the protection and government of those that feared him. If this passage point at all to Zerubbabel, who was a good man, a descendant of David, and, though not a king, a ruler of the Jews, after their return from Babylon, and who governed with equity and not as Jehoiakim had done; yet it can only refer to him as a type of the Messiah, the branch out of the stem of Jesse, Isaiah 11:1; the branch of the Lord that was to be beautiful and glorious, Isaiah 4:2; and the righteous branch that was to be raised up unto David, as he is described Jeremiah 23:5, a passage exactly similar to this, and undoubtedly meant of the same person. See the notes on these passages. In those days shall Judah be saved, &c. — If, a temporal salvation be here at all intended, it must be, not that which the Jews enjoyed for a short season under the government of Zerubbabel, a deliverance and protection from, or security against their enemies, which was very imperfect, and frequently interrupted; but that more perfect salvation, peace, and prosperity, which they shall enjoy in the latter days, after their conversion to Christianity, and restoration to their own land, according to the predictions contained in this and the three preceding chapters. But a spiritual and eternal salvation undoubtedly is chiefly intended here, as well as in the parallel passage, Jeremiah 23:6. And this is the name wherewith ye shall be called, The Lord our righteousness — According to this reading it is here foretold, that the name which properly belongs to the Messiah shall be given to Jerusalem, that is, to the church; “to signify,” says Lowth, “that it is in a peculiar manner dedicated to him, he having chosen it for the place of his residence, (see Ezekiel 48:35,) and that all the righteousness of the faithful, both their justification and sanctification, is derived from him. this seems,” adds he, “to be the genuine sense of the words, as may appear to any that will compare the original phrase here, יקרא לה, with Isaiah 62:4; Isaiah 62:12, where it is said of Zion, Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, or, my delight is in her, and sought out, a city not forsaken. Nor is there any greater impropriety in giving the name Jehovah to a city, than in calling an altar Jehovah-nissi, that is, Jehovah my banner, (Exodus 17:15,) and Jehovah-shalom, Jehovah peace, (Jdg 6:24,) in token that the Lord was the author of those mercies of which the said altars were designed to be monuments. So the servants of God are described as having his name written upon their foreheads, Revelation 3:12; Revelation 14:1; but several interpreters, particularly Huetius, and our learned Bishop Pearson, (in his Exposition of the Creed, p. 165,) render the words thus: He that shall call her [to be his peculiar people] is the Lord our righteousness.” Thus also Dr. Waterland and others. But Blaney, who renders the last clause of Jeremiah 23:6, This is the name by which Jehovah shall call him, OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, translates this, And this is he whom Jehovah shall call OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, judging that the הin לה, rendered her, is not the feminine pronoun affix, but the masculine, after the Chaldee form.

In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.
For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel;
Jeremiah 33:17-18. For thus saith the Lord, David shall never want a man, &c. — It is very evident that the prophecies in these verses were not fulfilled in the Jews after the Babylonish captivity; for, from that time to the coming of Christ, David was without a successor of his family sitting upon the throne of Judah or Israel. Nor have they been fulfilled in them since, for, from the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans to the present time, they have neither had a king nor a regular priesthood belonging to their nation. There can therefore be no doubt that Jeremiah here foretels the kingdom of the Messiah, and the priesthood, or ministry rather, to be established by him, by which a pure and spiritual oblation should be offered in every place where a church should be formed for him, (see Malachi 1:11,) and not at Jerusalem and in Judea only. “As the Jewish priesthood, in the family of Aaron, is extinct, and hath been exercised neither in Jerusalem nor in any other place for seventeen centuries, it follows,” says Calmet, “that these promises can respect only the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ, exercised by himself, and by his ministers, in the Christian Church from the beginning, and which shall continue to the end of time.” Nor is it unusual for God in the Old Testament to express promises relating to, and to be fulfilled under, the gospel, by terms proper to the Old Testament. See Isaiah 19:19; Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 66:23. And as the prophets often describe the Christian worship by representations taken from the temple service, so the apostles prove the rights and privileges belonging to the ministers of the gospel from the prerogatives given to the Jewish priesthood. See Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 9:13-14.

Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.
And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying,
Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season;
Jeremiah 33:20-21. If you can break my covenant of the day and of the night — Called the ordinances of the day and night, Jeremiah 31:35-36. Then may also my covenant be broken with David and with the Levites — A promise this, that the kingdom of Christ and a Christian ministry shall continue in the church to the end of time. And as his kingdom shall have no end, (Luke 1:32-33,) the words may also be construed as extending to the eternal state, in which, as Christ shall reign in glory for ever, so his saints shall be priests unto God, and reign for ever with him.

Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers.
As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.
Jeremiah 33:22. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, &c. — The former promise respected the stability, this the enlargement of the church, the members of which are here termed the seed of David, as they are elsewhere often called the seed of Abraham, being the imitators of the faith of Abraham and David. Or they may be termed the seed of David, because they are the seed of Christ, who is sometimes called David in the writings of the prophets, (see Jeremiah 30:9,) and whose seed and whose Levites are multiplied in the multiplying of Christians and of faithful ministers under the gospel, which are the blessings here promised.

Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying,
Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them.
Jeremiah 33:24-26. The two families which the Lord hath chosen — “It is plain from Jeremiah 33:26,” says Blaney,” that the two families here meant are those of Jacob and David, though some have supposed the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, others the royal and sacerdotal families of David and Levi, to be intended.” He hath even cast them off — The words are spoken by those unbelieving Jews who thought God would never restore them to their former condition, nor give them again a king of the seed of David, thus indirectly accusing him of a breach of promise. Thus they have despised my people, &c. — Thus, saith God, they have spoken in a reproachful and degrading manner of my people, as if they should never be a nation again, having rulers of themselves and a ministry. If my covenant be not with day and night, &c. — If I have not appointed the vicissitudes of day and night, and of summer and winter, upon which the seasons of the year and the fruitfulness of the earth depend; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob — Then will I finally, and for ever, abandon the body of the Jews and Israelites; and David my servant — Namely, the seed of David, all persons lineally descended from him, so that none of them shall ever hereafter reign over Israel and Judah. The sum of these verses is plainly this, that a restoration of them to their own land should as certainly succeed their captivity as the day succeeds the night, or summer follows winter. God had as certainly ordained the one as the other, and, would as certainly have mercy on his people as he would certainly continue the revolutions of the heavenly bodies. And in showing this mercy he would take care that one of the seed of David should be their ruler: which has been, and still more fully shall be, fulfilled in the Messiah, who shall always as certainly govern his church, whether consisting of converted Jews or Gentiles, as there will always be a church on earth to be governed.

Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth;
Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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