Jeremiah 10:4
They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.They deck it - It was covered with plates of gold and silver, and then fastened with nails in its place, that it might not "more, i. e." tumble down.

The agreement in this and the following verses with the argument in Isaiah 40-44 is so manifest, that no one can doubt that the one is modelled upon the other. If, therefore, Jeremiah took the thoughts and phrases from Isaiah, it is plain that the last 27 chapters of Isaiah were prior in date to Jeremiah's time, and were not therefore written at the close of the Babylonian exile. This passage then is a crucial one to the pseudo-Isaiah theory. Two answers are attempted,

(1) that the pseudo-Isaiah borrowed from Jeremiah. But this is refuted by the style, which is not that usual with Jeremiah.

(2) that it is an interpolation in Jeremiah.

But how then are we to account for its being found in the Septuagint Version? The only argument of real importance is that these verses break the continuity of thought; but the whole chapter is somewhat fragmentary, and not so closely connected as the previous three. Still there is a connection. The prophet had just included all Israel under the ban of uncircumcision: he now shows them their last chance of safety by enlarging upon the truth, that (compare Jeremiah 9:23-24) their true glory is their God, not an idol of wood, but the King of nations. Then comes the sad feeling that they have rejected God and chosen idols Jeremiah 10:17-18; then the nation's deep grief Jeremiah 10:19-22 and earnest prayer Jeremiah 10:23-25. It is quite possible that only portions of the concluding part of Jeremiah's templesermon were embodied in Baruch's scroll, and that had the whole been preserved, we should have found the thoughts as orderly in development as those in Jeremiah 7-9.

4. fasten … move not—that is, that it may stand upright without risk of falling, which the god (!) would do, if left to itself (Isa 41:7). A further description of their workmanship, having no other comeliness but what they confer upon it, and they no greater security or certainty of it than as they can with hammer and nail make it fast, and fix it to some place, the wooden god being not able to preserve itself from falling; therefore it is rather to be meant of fastening to some wall or pillar, than of fastening their parts together, because they seem to be cut out of one entire piece, and therefore need it not.

They deck it with silver and with gold,.... Cover it with plates of silver and gold, for the sake of ornament, that it may look grand, majestic, and venerable; and by this means draw the eye and attention, and so the devotion of people to it:

they fasten it with nails and hammers, that it move not. The sense is, either that the idol was fastened to some post or pillar, or in some certain place on a pedestal, that it might not fall, it not being able otherwise to support itself; or the plates of silver and gold, as Kimchi thinks, were fastened to the idol with nails and hammers, that so they might not be taken away from it; for, were it not for the nails, the god would not be able to keep his silver and golden deckings.

They deck it {c} with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it may not move.

(c) The prophets use thus plainly and simply to set forth the vile absurdity of the idolaters that men might learn to be ashamed of that to which their corrupt nature is most subject, Isa 44:12.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. The idol is covered with plates of silver and gold, and secured to its place.

move] lit. shake. Cp. Isaiah 40:20; Isaiah 41:7.

Verse 4. - They deck it... that it move not. The close resemblance of this verse to Isaiah 40:19, 20; Isaiah 41:7, will strike every reader. "Move" should rather be totter. Jeremiah 10:4The 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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