Jeremiah 10:2
Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
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(2) Be not dismayed at the signs of heaven.—The special reference is to the “astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators” of the Chaldæans (Isaiah 47:13), finding portents either in the conjuncture of planets and constellations, or in eclipses, comets, and other like phenomena. In singular contrast with the abject attitude of mind thus produced, the prophet shows that what has been called in scorn an anthropomorphic theology, was then the one effectual safeguard against the superstition that bows in fear before anything that is unusual and unexplained.

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.Signs of heaven - Extraordinary appearances, such as eclipses, comets, and the like, which seemed to the pagan to portend national calamities. To attribute importance to them is to walk in pagan ways. 2. Eichorn thinks the reference here to be to some celestial portent which had appeared at that time, causing the Jews' dismay. Probably the reference is general, namely, to the Chaldeans, famed as astrologers, through contact with whom the Jews were likely to fall into the same superstition.

way—the precepts or ordinances (Le 18:3; Ac 9:2).

signs of heaven—The Gentiles did not acknowledge a Great First Cause: many thought events depended on the power of the stars, which some, as Plato, thought to be endued with spirit and reason. All heavenly phenomena, eclipses, comets, &c., are included.

one cutteth a tree, &c.—rather, "It (that which they busy themselves about: a sample of their 'customs') is a tree cut out of the forest" [Maurer].

Learn not the way of the heathen: the Jews being to live among the Chaldeans in their captivity, where many of them were already, the prophet in this sermon admonisheth them against the superstitions of the Chaldean idolatries, which he understands here by

heathen, who were also much addicted to astrology, and esteemed it the original of sciences; the customs and their manners he calls here their way, as is frequent in Scripture, Leviticus 18:3 20:23.

Be not dismayed at the signs of heaven: this was a practice and study so common among them, that judicial astrologers, of what nation soever, were generally termed Chaldeans; a practice so hateful to God, that sometimes he positively prohibits it, Deu 18:10,14, and sometimes in a way of scorn and derision sarcastically sends them to such, Isaiah 47:13, and often labours to persuade against it; for though astronomy be not only lawful, but useful, as being subject to reason and the rules of art, whereby many actions of human life are directed, and guided, and proportioned, yet judiciary astrology is indeed originally diabolical and heathenish; and though God do suffer their predictions sometimes to fall out right, yet it is to punish the curiosity of the inquirer.

For the heathen are dismayed at them: q.d. Leave this to heathens; it doth not become God’s people, who do wholly depend upon him; for indeed the heathen, as many ignorant Christians do to this day, were more afraid of the signs of heaven and astrological predictions than of God, and what is foretold in his word of prophecy, as if things were governed rather by the influence of the stars than the providence of God; not but that we may be affected with such preternatural appearances in the world, which God doth extraordinarily cause to appear, as some tokens of his approaching judgments, Joel 2:30,31 Mt 24:7 Luke 21:11.

Thus saith the Lord, learn not the way of the Heathen,.... Of the nations round about them, particularly the Chaldeans; meaning their religious ways, their ways of worship, their superstition and idolatry, which they were very prone unto, and many of which they had learned already; and were in danger of learning more, as they were about to be dispersed in divers countries, and especially in Chaldea, which was a very superstitious and idolatrous nation:

and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; by which are meant, not any extraordinary signs, such as are predicted in Joel 2:30, and by our Lord, as signs of the last destruction of Jerusalem, and of his coming, and of the end of the world, Matthew 24:3, but ordinary signs, which are no other than the sun, and moon, and stars, which are set up for signs and seasons, and days and years, Genesis 1:14, and as long as they are observed as signs of places and of times, it is well enough; but if more is attributed unto them, as portending things future, and as having an influence on the birth and death, dispositions and actions of men, when in such a conjunction, situation, and position, it is wrong; which is what is called judicial astrology, and to which the Chaldeans were much addicted, and is here condemned; nor should men possess themselves with fears with what shall befall them on such accounts, since all things are under the determination, direction, and influence of the God of heaven, and not the signs of them; especially they should not be so observed as to be worshipped, and to be so awed by them as to fear that evil things will befall, if they are not; and to this sense is the Syriac version, "the signs of the heavens do not worship, or fear". Jarchi interprets them of the eclipses of the luminaries, which may be thought to forbode some dreadful things (l):

for the Heathen are dismayed at them; which is a reason why the people of God should not, because it is a Heathenish fear; or, "though the Heathen" (m), &c.; though they are frightened at such and such conjunctions and positions of the stars, and fear that such and such dreadful things will follow; and never regard the supreme Being and first cause of all things; yet such who have the knowledge of the true God, and a revelation of his will, ought not to be terrified hereby; see Isaiah 47:13. This text is brought to prove that the Israelites are not under any planet (n); since the Heathens are dismayed at them, but not they.

(l) Vid. T. Bab. Succa, fol. 29. 1.((m) "quamvis consterni soleant", Vatablus. (n) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 156. 1.

Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the {a} signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them.

(a) God forbids his people to give credit or fear the constellations and conjunctions of stars and planets which have no power of themselves but are governed by him, and their secret motions and influences are not known to man and therefore there can be no certain judgment of it, De 18:9.

2. the signs of heaven] heavenly portents, such as comets, meteors, or eclipses, an allusion to the Babylonian love of astrology.

Verse 2. - The way of the heathen. "Way" equivalent to "religion" (comp. ὁδὸς, Acts 9:2, etc.). Be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; alluding to the astrological calculations based upon extraordinary appearances in the sky. Diodorus Siculus remarks 2:30) - and his statement is fully confirmed by the Babylonian cuneiform tablets - that "the appearance of comets, eclipses of the sun and moon, earthquakes, and in fact every kind of change occasioned by the atmosphere, whether good or bad, both to nations and to kings and private individuals [were omens of future events]." A catalogue of the seventy standard astrological tablets is to be found in the third volume of the British Museum collection of inscriptions. Among the items we read, "A collection of twenty-five tablets of the signs of heaven and earth, according to their good presage and their bad;" and again, "Tablets [regarding] the signs of the heaven, along with the star (comet) which has a corona in front and a tail behind; the appearance of the sky," etc. There can hardly be a doubt that the prophetic writer had such pseudo-science as this in his eye (see Professor Sayce, 'The Astronomy and Astrology of the Baby. Ionians, with translations of the tablets,' ere, in the Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, 3:145-339). Jeremiah 10:2The nothingness of the false gods. - Jeremiah 10:1. "Hear the word which Jahveh speaketh unto you, house of Israel! Jeremiah 10:2. Thus saith Jahveh: To the ways of the heathen use yourselves not, and at the signs of the heaven be not dismayed, because the heathen are dismayed at them. Jeremiah 10:3. For the ordinances of the peoples are vain. For it is wood, which one hath cut out of the forest, a work of the craftsman's hands with the axe. Jeremiah 10:4. With silver and with gold he decks it, with nails and hammers they fasten it, that it move not. Jeremiah 10:5. As a lathe-wrought pillar are they, and speak not; they are borne, because they cannot walk. Be not afraid of them; for they do not hurt, neither is it in them to do good."

This is addressed to the house of Israel, i.e., to the whole covenant people; and "house of Israel" points back to "all the house of Israel" in Jeremiah 9:25. עליכם for אליכם, as frequently in Jeremiah. The way of the heathen is their mode of life, especially their way of worshipping their gods; cf. ἡ ὁδὸς, Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9. למד c. אל, accustom oneself to a thing, used in Jeremiah 13:21 with the synonymous על, and in Psalm 18:35 (Piel) with ל. The signs of heaven are unwonted phenomena in the heavens, eclipses of the sun and moon, comets, and unusual conjunctions of the stars, which were regarded as the precursors of extraordinary and disastrous events. We cannot admit Hitz.'s objection, that these signs in heaven were sent by Jahveh (Joel 3:3-4), and that before these, as heralds of judgment, not only the heathen, but the Jews themselves, had good cause to be dismayed. For the signs that marked the dawning of the day of the Lord are not merely such things as eclipses of sun and moon, and the like. There is still less ground for Ng.'s idea, that the signs of heaven are such as, being permanently there, call forth religious adoration from year to year, the primitive constellations (Job 9:9), the twelve signs of the zodiac; for תּחתּוּ( נחת), to be in fear, consternari, never means, even in Malachi 2:5, regular or permanent adoration. "For the heathen," etc., gives the cause of the fear: the heathen are dismayed before these, because in the stars they adored supernatural powers.

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