Jeremiah 1:10
See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) I have this day set thee . . .—With the gift, and therefore the consciousness, of a new power, there comes what would at first have been too much for the mortal vessel of the truth to bear—a prospective view of the greatness of the work before him. He is at once set (literally, made the “deputy,” or representative, of God, as in Judges 9:28 and 2Chronicles 24:11, the “officer,” or in Jeremiah 20:1, “chief governor”) over the nations, i.e., as before, the nations external to Israel, and the “kingdoms” including it. The work at first seems one simply of destruction—to root out and ruin (so we may represent the alliterative assonance of the Hebrew), to destroy and rend asunder. But beyond that there is the hope of a work of construction. He is to “build up” the fallen ruins of Israel, to “plant” in the land that had been made desolate. The whole sequel of the book is a comment on these words. It passes through terror and darkness to the glory and the blessing of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31).

1:1-10 Jeremiah's early call to the work and office of a prophet is stated. He was to be a prophet, not to the Jews only, but to the neighbouring nations. He is still a prophet to the whole world, and it would be well if they would attend to these warnings. The Lord who formed us, knows for what particular services and purposes he intended us. But unless he sanctify us by his new-creating Spirit, we shall neither be fit for his holy service on earth, nor his holy happiness in heaven. It becomes us to have low thoughts of ourselves. Those who are young, should consider that they are so, and not venture beyond their powers. But though a sense of our own weakness and insufficiency should make us go humbly about our work, it should not make us draw back when God calls us. Those who have messages to deliver from God, must not fear the face of man. The Lord, by a sign, gave Jeremiah such a gift as was necessary. God's message should be delivered in his own words. Whatever wordly wise men or politicians may think, the safety of kingdoms is decided according to the purpose and word of God.I have ... set thee over - literally, I have made thee Pakeed, i. e., deputy. This title is given only to these invested with high authority (e. g. Genesis 41:34; 2 Chronicles 24:11; Jeremiah 20:1; Jeremiah 29:26). From God's side, the prophet is a mere messenger, speaking what he is told, doing what he is commanded. From man's side, he is God's vicegerent, with power "to root out, and to pull down."

Root out ... pull down - In the Hebrew, the verbs present an instance of the alliteration so common in the prophets, and agreeable to oriental taste. The former signifies the destruction of anything planted, the latter refers to buildings.

To throw down - More exactly, to tear in pieces. There are four words of destruction, and but two words of restoration, as if the message were chiefly of evil. And such was Jeremiah's message to his contemporaries. Yet are all God's dealings finally for the good of His people. The Babylonian exile was, for the moment, a time of chastisement; it also became a time of national repentance (see Jeremiah 24:5-7).

10. set thee over—literally, "appointed thee to the oversight." He was to have his eye upon the nations, and to predict their destruction, or restoration, according as their conduct was bad or good. Prophets are said to do that which they foretell shall be done; for their word is God's word; and His word is His instrument whereby He doeth all things (Ge 1:3; Ps 33:6, 9). Word and deed are one thing with Him. What His prophet saith is as certain as if it were done. The prophet's own consciousness was absorbed into that of God; so closely united to God did he feel himself, that Jehovah's words and deeds are described as his. In Jer 31:28, God is said to do what Jeremiah here is represented as doing (compare Jer 18:7; 1Ki 19:17; Eze 43:3).

root out—(Mt 15:13).

pull down—change of metaphor to architecture (2Co 10:4). There is a play on the similar sounds, linthosh, linthotz, in the Hebrew for "root out … pull down."

build … plant—restore upon their repenting. His predictions were to be chiefly, and in the first instance, denunciatory; therefore the destruction of the nations is put first, and with a greater variety of terms than their restoration.

I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms: having now received his commission, he is directed to whom he is to go, viz. to the greatest, not only single persons, but whole nations, as the Babylonians, Persians, and Egyptians, and exhorted to greatness of mind, as being sent as an ambassador from God, to deliver his messages without flattery or cowardice; and that he might make that proud people sensible of their folly, that looked upon themselves as above reproof, he gives unto his prophet this large authority.

To pull down, i.e. to prophesy that I will pull down; which I will as certainly effect as if thou hadst done it thyself; for, according to Scripture usage, the prophets are said to do that which they foretell shall come to pass, Genesis 49:7 Ezekiel 43:3, i.e. to pronounce destruction; hence God is said to slay them by the words of his mouth, Hosea 6:5; and so are all the following expressions to be understood.

To build and to plant; metaphors taken from architects and gardeners. Either the former words relate to the enemies of God, and the latter to his friends; or rather, to both conditionally. If they repent, he will build them up, i.e. he will increase their families, and plant them, viz. settle them in the land, Jeremiah 24:6. If they do not, he will root them up, and pull them down, &c. He will do the contrary. Compare this with Jeremiah 42:10, and Jeremiah 45:4. The reason why God useth so many words to the same purpose seems to be, partly to show how deeply all kind of wickedness and contempt of God had taken root; which possibly may be one reason why he placeth pulling down and rooting up before building and planting, to show what a deal of rubbish there was to be removed before he could reform and repair his church and state; or rather, because the prophet was to begin with these in his prophecy, as appears by his second visions, Jeremiah 1:11,13; and partly to quicken the prophet’s zeal against them. See, I have this day set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms,.... Not as a prince, but as a prophet over them, to prophesy things concerning them, whether good or evil, which should certainly come to pass as he predicted:

to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down; that is, to foretell that such a kingdom and nation should be rooted out, as a tree or plant that is plucked up by the roots; and that such an one should be pulled, and thrown down, and destroyed, as a building is. The whole may be understood of the destruction of the Jews by Nebuchadnezzar, of their temple, city, and nation; though the Targum and Jarchi interpret all this of the Gentiles only, and the following,

to build, and to plant, of the house of Israel; which may be applied to the building of the temple, and the planting of the Jews in their own land, after their return from captivity, which Jeremiah prophesied of. These last words are not in the Arabic version.

See, I have this day set thee over the {l} nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

(l) He shows what is the authority of God's true ministers, who by his word have power to bear down whatever lifts itself up against God: and to plant and assure the humble and such as give themselves to the obedience of God's word, 2Co 10:4,5, He 4:12, and these are the keys which Christ has left to loose and bind, Mt 18:18.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. set thee] given thee authority to speak as My representative. It is the same word as that rendered “made governor” in Jeremiah 40:5; Jeremiah 40:7, and “made overseer” in Genesis 39:4-5.

over the nations] So Amos (Jeremiah 1:3 to Jeremiah 2:3) had prophesied concerning non-Jewish kingdoms.

to pluck up, etc.] The prophet is said to do in his own person that which he announces as about to be done by God. Cp. Jeremiah 15:1; Isaiah 6:10; Ezekiel 43:3, where the prophet speaks of the vision that he saw when he “came to destroy the city.” So in profane literature we find prophets spoken of as though they had a share in influencing the course of the future, which it was theirs only to predict. Thus Aeneas to the Sibyl:

“And thou, O sacred maid, inspired to see

The event of things in dark futurity,

Give me what heaven has promised to my fate

To conquer and command the Latian state.”

Dryden’s Vergil, VI. 100–103.

The predominant portion of the prophet’s task was to consist in rebuke and in threatening; while nevertheless out of the ruins a better and more hopeful state of things should arise for Israel.Verse 10. - I have set thee; literally, I have made thee an overseer, or vicegerent (comp. Genesis 41:34; Judges 9:28, where the Authorized Version renders the cognate noun "officer"). To root out... to plant, viz. by pronouncing that Divine judgment which fulfils itself (comp. Jeremiah 5:14; Numbers 23:25; Isaiah 9:8, 9; Isaiah 55:11). As there is so much more threatening than promise in Jeremiah's writings, the destructive side of his activity is expressed by four verbs, the constructive only by two. The Call and Consecration of Jeremiah to be a Prophet of the Lord. - The investiture of Jeremiah with the prophetic office follows in four acts: the call on the part of the Lord, Jeremiah 1:4-8; Jeremiah's consecration for his calling in Jeremiah 1:9-10; and in two signs, by means of which the Lord assures him of certain success in his work and of powerful support in the exercise of his office (Jeremiah 1:11-19). The call was given by a word of the Lord which came to him in this form: Jeremiah 1:5. "Before I formed thee in the womb I have known thee, and before thou wentest forth from the belly have I consecrated thee, to be prophet to the nations have I set thee. Jeremiah 1:6. Then said I, Ah, Lord Jahveh! behold, I know not how to speak; for I am too young. Jeremiah 1:7. Then said Jahveh to me, Say not, I am too young; but to all to whom I send thee shalt thou go, and all that I command thee shalt thou speak. Jeremiah 1:8. Fear not before them: for I am with thee, to save thee, saith Jahveh. This word came to Jeremiah by means of inspiration, and is neither the product of a reflective musing as to what his calling was to be, nor the outcome of an irresistible impulse, felt within him, to come forward as a prophet. It was a supernatural divine revelation vouchsafed to him, which raised his spiritual life to a state of ecstasy, so that he both recognised the voice of God and felt his lips touched by the hand of God (Jeremiah 1:9). Further, he saw in spirit, one after another, two visions which God interpreted to him as confirmatory tokens of his divine commission (Jeremiah 1:11-19). Jeremiah's appointment to be a prophet for the nations follows upon a decree of God's, fixed before he was conceived or born. God in His counsel has not only foreordained our life and being, but has predetermined before our birth what is to be our calling upon this earth; and He has accordingly so influenced our origin and our growth in the womb, as to prepare us for what we are to become, and for what we are to accomplish on behalf of His kingdom. This is true of all men, but very especially of those who have been chosen by God to be the extraordinary instruments of His grace, whom He has appointed to be instruments for the carrying out of the redemptive schemes of His kingdom; cf. Jeremiah 44:2, Jeremiah 44:24; Jeremiah 49:5; Galatians 1:15. Thus Samson was appointed to be a Nazarite from the womb, this having been revealed to his mother before he was conceived, Judges 13:3. To other men of God such divine predestination was made known for the first time when they were called to that office to which God had chosen them. So was it with our prophet Jeremiah. In such a case a reminder by God of the divine counsel of grace, of old time ordained and provided with means for its accomplishment, should be accepted as an encouragement willingly to take upon one the allotted calling. For the man God has chosen before his birth to a special office in His kingdom He equips with the gifts and graces needed for the exercise of his functions. The three clauses of Jeremiah 1:5 give the three moments whereof the choosing consists: God has chosen him, has consecrated him, and has installed him as prophet. The reference of the words "I have known thee," Calvin limited to the office, quasi diceret, priusquam te formarem in utero, destinavi te in hunc usum, nempe ut subires docendi munus in populo meo. Divine knowing is at the same time a singling out; and of this, choosing is the immediate consequence. But the choosing takes place by means of הקדישׁ, sanctifying, i.e., setting apart and consecrating for a special calling, and is completed by institution to the office. "To be prophet for the nations have I set thee" (נתן, ponere, not only appoint, but install). The sense has been briefly put by Calv. thus: (Jer.) fuisse hac lege creatum hominem, ut suo tempore manifestaretur propheta. לנוים, to the nations equals for the nations; not for Judah alone, but for the heathen peoples too; cf. Jeremiah 1:10, Jeremiah 25:9, 46ff. The Chethibh אצורך should apparently be read אצוּרך, from צוּר, equivalent to יצר; the root-form צוּר, being warranted by Exodus 32:4; 1 Kings 7:15, and being often found in Aramaic. It is, however, possible that the Chet. may be only scriptio plena of אצר, a radice יצר, since the scriptio pl. is found elsewhere, e.g., Hosea 8:12; Jeremiah 44:17; Ezekiel 21:28, etc.
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