Jeremiah 1:10
See, I have this day set thee 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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(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.

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. Jeremiah 1:10The Consecration. - Jeremiah 1:9. "And Jahveh stretched forth His hand, and touched my mouth, and Jahveh said to me, Behold, I put my words into thy mouth. Jeremiah 1:10. Behold, I set thee this day over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root up and to ruin, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant." In order to assure him by overt act of His support, the Lord gives him a palpable pledge. He stretches out His hand and causes it to touch his mouth (cf. Isaiah 6:7); while, as explanation of this symbolical act, He adds: I have put my words in thy mouth. The hand is the instrument of making and doing; the touching of Jeremiah's mouth by the hand of God is consequently an emblematical token that God frames in his mouth what he is to speak. It is a tangible pledge of ἔμπνευσις, inspiratio, embodiment of that influence exercised on the human spirit, by means of which the holy men of God speak, being moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Peter 1:21 (Nδgelsb.). The act is a real occurrence, taking place not indeed in the earthly, corporeal sphere, but experienced in spirit, and of the nature of ecstasy. By means of it God has consecrated him to be His prophet, and endowed him for the discharge of his duties; He may now entrust him with His commission to the peoples and kingdoms, and set him over them as His prophet who proclaims to them His word. The contents of this proclaiming are indicated in the following infinitive clauses. With the words of the Lord he is to destroy and to build up peoples and kingdoms. The word of God is a power that carries out His will, and accomplishes that whereto He sends it, Isaiah 55:10. Against this power nothing earthly can stand; it is a hammer that breaks rocks in pieces, Jeremiah 23:29. What is here said of the word of Jahveh to be preached by Jeremiah is said of Jahveh Himself in Jeremiah 31:28. Its power is to show itself in two ways, in destroying and in building up. The destroying is not set down as a mere preliminary, but is expressed by means of four different words, whereas the building is given only in two words, and these standing after the four; in order, doubtless, to indicate that the labours of Jeremiah should consist, in the first place and for the most part, in proclaiming judgment upon the nations. The assonant verbs נתשׁ and נתץ are joined to heighten the sense; for the same reason להרוס is added to להאביד, and in the antithesis לנטוע is joined with לבנות.

(Note: The lxx have omitted להרוסa, and hence Hitz. infers the spuriousness of this word. But in the parallel passage, Jeremiah 31:28, the lxx have rendered all the four words by the one καθαιρεῖν; and Hitz. does not then pronounce the other three spurious.)

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