Jeremiah 10:11
Thus shall you say to them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Thus shall ye say unto them.—The verse presents an almost unique phenomenon. It is not, like the rest of the book, in Hebrew, but in Chaldee or Aramaic, the language of the enemies of Israel. Two explanations have been offered—(1) that a marginal note, added by one of the exiles in Babylon, found its way at a later period into the text; (2) a far more probable view, viz., that the prophet, whose intercourse with the Chaldeans had made him familiar with their language, put into the mouths of his own countrymen the answer they were to give when they were invited to join in the worship of their conquerors. Little as they might know of the strange language, they might learn enough to give this answer. The words have the ring of a kind of popular proverb, and in the original there is a play of sound which can only be faintly reproduced in English—The gods that have not made . . . they shall be made away with. The apocryphal Epistle of Jeremiah, already referred to, may, perhaps, be regarded as a rhetorical sermon on this text.

Jeremiah 10:11. Thus shall ye say unto them — “This verse is in the Chaldee language, and it appears here as a kind of parenthesis. Houbigant thinks that the most probable reason why it is here inserted in the Chaldee, and not in the Hebrew, is, that Jeremiah prescribes to the Jews what they shall answer in living among idolaters, and using the Chaldee language; hereby prescribing that they should be the captives of the Chaldees.” — Dodd. The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth — And therefore they are no gods, but the usurpers of the honour due to him only who did make them; shall perish from the earth, &c. — Shall perish of course, because they are vanity, formed of perishing materials; and shall perish by his righteous sentence, because they are rivals with him who made all things. Here the prophet foretels that there shall be a final period put to idolatry. God hath already blotted out the names of many of the heathen idols, as an earnest of the utter destruction of the rest in his due time.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.This verse is (in the original) in Chaldee. It was probably a proverbial saying, which Jeremiah inserts in its popular form. 11. This verse is in Chaldee, Jeremiah supplying his countrymen with a formula of reply to Chaldee idolaters in the tongue most intelligible to the latter. There may be also derision intended in imitating their barbarous dialect. Rosenmuller objects to this view, that not merely the words put in the mouths of the Israelites, but Jeremiah's own introductory words, "Thus shall ye say to them," are in Chaldee, and thinks it to be a marginal gloss. But it is found in all the oldest versions. It was an old Greek saying: "Whoever thinks himself a god besides the one God, let him make another world" (Ps 96:5).

shall perish—(Isa 2:18; Zec 13:2).

these heavens—the speaker pointing to them with his fingers.

Say unto them, viz. to your great lords, the Babylonians, when they shall solicit you to worship idols.

The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth: this seems to have some allusion to a saying common among those Greeks that held one supreme Deity, Let him that saith he is a god make another world. Here is noted both how frail they are,

they shall perish; and how weak they are, they could not make

the heavens or the earth. This verse is writ in the Chaldean tongue, and not in the Hebrew, that when they came among them that did worship their idols, they might openly and plainly profess the true God in that language, which the enemies understood better than they did the Hebrew, and that in such kind of bold language as this; Let all those gods perish from off the earth, and under the heavens, that were not able to make either. It is an imprecation upon their idols. Thus shall ye say unto them,.... The godly Jews to the idolatrous Chaldeans; and therefore this verse alone is written in the Chaldee language. The Targum prefaces it thus,

"this is the copy of the letter, which Jeremiah the prophet sent to the rest of the elders of the captivity in Babylon; and if the people among whom you are should say unto you, serve idols, O house of Israel; then shall ye answer, and so shall ye say unto them, the idols whom ye serve are errors, in whom there is no profit; from heaven they cannot bring down rain, and out of the earth they cannot produce fruit:''

so Jarchi observes: it follows in the text,

the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens; which the Targum paraphrases thus,

"they and their worshippers shall perish from the earth, and shall be consumed from under these heavens.''

The words may be considered as a prediction that so it would be; or as an imprecation that so it might be, and be read, "let the gods", &c.; and considered either way, being put into the mouth of the godly Jews in Babylon, to be openly pronounced by them in the midst of idolaters, and in answer to them, when they should be enticed to idolatry, show how open and ingenuous men should be in the profession of the true God, and his religion and worship: and it may be observed, against the deniers of the true deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, that if he is not that God that made the heavens and the earth, he lies under this imprecation or prediction.

Thus shall ye say to them, The gods {g} that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.

(g) This declares that all that has been spoken of idols in this chapter, was to arm the Jews when they would be in Chaldea among the idolaters, and now with one sentence he instructs them both how to protest their own religion against the idolaters and how to answer them to their shame who would exhort them to idolatry, and therefore he writes this sentence in the Chaldean tongue for a memorial while all the rest of his writing is in Hebrew.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. The v. is not Hebrew, but Aramaic. Either it is a marginal note, subsequently introduced into the text, where it interrupts the connexion of Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 10:12, or it was designed by the prophet to supply the exiles with a form of answer when solicited to share in idolatrous practices. In the former case, inasmuch as the word for “earth” appears here in two distinct (non-Hebraic) forms, both of which are found in the Assuan papyri (see Intr. i. § 17 note), it has been conjectured to be an insertion on the part of some member of the Jewish colony in Egypt.Verse 11. - Thus shall ye say, etc. This verse is, unlike the rest of the chapter, written in Chaldee, and greatly interrupts the connection. Whether it is a fragment of a Targum (or Chaldee paraphrase) representing a Hebrew verse really written by Jeremiah, or whether it is a marginal note by some scribe or reader which has found its way by accident into the text, cannot be positively determined. What is certain is that it is not in its right place, though it already stood here when the Septuagint Version of Jeremiah was made. To argue, with the 'Speaker's Commentary,' that the latter circumstance is decisive of the correctness of the passage in its present position, implies a view of the unchangeableness of the text in the early centuries which few leading scholars will admit. The reason of the warning counsel: The ordinances of the peoples, i.e., the religious ideas and customs of the heathen, are vanity. הוּא refers to and is in agreement with the predicate; cf. Ew. 319, c. The vanity of the religious ordinances of the heathen is proved by the vanity of their gods. "For wood, which one has hewn out of the forest," sc. it is, viz., the god. The predicate is omitted, and must be supplied from הבל, a word which is in the plural used directly for the false gods; cf. Jeremiah 8:19; Deuteronomy 32:21, etc. With the axe, sc. wrought. מעצד Rashi explains as axe, and suitably; for here it means in any case a carpenter's tool, whereas this is doubtful in Isaiah 44:12. The images were made of wood, which was covered with silver plating and gold; cf. Isaiah 30:22; Isaiah 40:19. This Jeremiah calls adorning them, making them fair with silver and gold. When the images were finished, they were fastened in their places with hammer and nails, that they might not tumble over; cf. Isaiah 41:7; Isaiah 40:20. When thus complete, they are like a lathe-wrought pillar. In Judges 4:5, where alone this word elsewhere occurs. תּמר means palm-tree ( equals תּמר); here, by a later, derivative usage, equals pillar, in support of which we can appeal to the Talmudic תּמּר, columnam facere, and to the O.T. תּימרה, pillar of smoke. מקשׁה is the work of the turning-lathe, Exodus 25:18, Exodus 25:31, etc. Lifeless and motionless as a turned pillar.

(Note: Ew., Hitz., Graf, Ng. follow in the track of Movers, Phniz. i. S. 622, who takes מקשׁה se acc. to Isaiah 1:8 for a cucumber garden, and, acc. to Epist. Jerem. v. 70, understands by תּמר מקשׁה the figure of Priapus in a cucumber field, serving as a scare-crow. But even if we admit that there is an allusion to the verse before us in the mockery of the gods in the passage of Epist. Jerem. quoted, running literally as follows: ὧσπερ γὰρ ἐν οἰκυηράτῳ προβασκάνιον οὐδὲν φυλάσσον, οὕτως οἱ θεοὶ αὐτῶν εἰσὶ ξύλινοι καὶ περίχρυσοι καὶ περιάργυροι; and if we further admit that the author was led to make his comparison by his understanding מקשׁה in Isaiah 1:8 of a cucumber garden; - yet his comparison has so little in common with our verse in point of form, that it cannot at all be regarded as a translation of it, or serve as a rule for the interpretation of the phrase in question. And besides it has yet to be proved that the Israelites were in the habit of setting up images of Priapus as scare-crows.)

Not to be able to speak is to be without life; not to walk, to take not a single step, i.e., to be without all power of motion; cf. Isaiah 46:7. The Chald. paraphrases correctly: quia non est in iis spiritus vitalis ad ambulandum. The incorrect form ינּשׂוּא for ינּשׂאוּ is doubtless only a copyist's error, induced by the preceding נשׂוא. They can do neither good nor evil, neither hurt nor help; cf. Isaiah 41:23. אותם for אתּם, as frequently; see on Jeremiah 1:16.

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