Jeremiah 10:9
Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.
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(9) Tarshish.—As elsewhere in the Old Testament, Spain, the Tartessus of the Greeks (Genesis 10:4; Jonah 1:3; Ezekiel 27:12), from whence Palestine, through the Phoenicians, was chiefly supplied with silver, tin, and other metals.

Uphaz.—Possibly an error of transcription, or dialectical variation, for Ophir, giving the meaning “gold-coast.” The word is found only here and in Daniel 10:5. Some interpreters, however, connect it with the name of Hyphasis, one of the tributaries of the Indus. We cannot attain to greater certainty. (See Note on 1Kings 9:28.)

Blue and purple.—Both were colours obtained from the murex, a Mediterranean shell-fish, and were used both for the curtains of the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:4) and for the gorgeous apparel of the idols of the heathen. “Purple,” as elsewhere in the English of the Bible, must be understood of a deep crimson or scarlet. (Comp. Matthew 27:28; Mark 15:17.)

Jeremiah 10:9. Silver spread into plates — To cover the images, and make them appear as if made of massy silver; is brought from Tarshish — A port of Spain, to which the merchants of Tyre and Sidon traded; of which place see note on Isaiah 2:16. And gold from Uphaz — The Syriac, Chaldee, and Theodotion read, from Ophir, which Bochart supposes to be here meant; namely, Ophir in India, near Zeilan, a place famous for gold. Blue and purple are their clothing — “The splendour and magnificence of dress seem, among the ancients, to have consisted very much in the richness of the colours; the art of dying which to perfection, was esteemed a matter of great skill, being known and practised by very few. The excellence of the Tyrian purple is celebrated by both sacred and profane authors. And the blue, which from many passages of Scripture we find to have been in great request, was also imported from remote countries as an article of elegant and expensive luxury.” They are all the work of cunning men — “If, in the preceding verse, the insignificance of the idols was argued from the vile and perishable matter out of which they were composed; the same is inferred in this from their being indebted to the art and labour of man for all their costly ornaments, their splendid outward show. In short, the whole of them, says the prophet, internal and external, is the work of skilful men. Upon what ground then could the thing formed pretend to a nature more excellent than its former?” — Blaney.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.Or, "It is a piece of wood (Jeremiah 10:8 note); yea, beaten silver it is, which is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz: it is the work etc."

Tarshish ... Uphaz - See the marginal reference and Genesis 10:4. Possibly Uphaz was a place in the neighborhood of the River Hyphasis.

Blue and purple - Both colors were purple, from dyes obtained from shellfish: but the former had a violet, the latter a red tinge.

9. Everything connected with idols is the result of human effort.

Silver spread—(See on [906]Isa 30:22; [907]Isa 40:19).

Tarshish—Tartessus, in Spain, famed for precious metals.

Uphaz—(Da 10:5). As the Septuagint in the Syrian Hexapla in the Margin, Theodotus, the Syrian and Chaldee versions have "Ophir," Gesenius thinks "Uphaz" a colloquial corruption (one letter only being changed) for "Ophir." Ophir, in Ge 10:29, is mentioned among Arabian countries. Perhaps Malacca is the country meant, the natives of which still call their gold mines Ophirs. Heeren thinks Ophir the general name for the rich countries of the south, on the Arabian, African, and Indian coasts; just as our term, East Indies.


Silver spread into plates; it was not wood washed with gold, nor massy silver or gold, but covered over with plates of silver or gold, Exodus 39:3.

From Tarshish; from some remote place, probably from Spain, whence the best gold came; Tarshish is the proper name of a sea-town in Cilicia, Ezekiel 27:12,25 Jon 1:3; and being a noted port, from whence they had passage to Africa, India, and other remote countries, it is usually put for the ocean, and may as well signify from any place beyond the sea. If you take it properly, then possibly it is noted as the best silver coming from thence, as Uphaz for the best gold; for though we read also of gold coming from thence, 1 Kings 10:22 2 Chronicles 9:21, yet where the most proper commodities of it are mentioned we read of no gold, Ezekiel 27:12, unless what seems rather to be brought thither, Jeremiah 10:22.

Gold from Uphaz, i.e. probably the best gold, coming from thence in those days, as the best silver from Tarshish, and that here was the best gold is probable from Daniel 10:5. There are various conjectures at what place this points at, whether the same with Phas, or Fez, by an aphaeresis, or Ophir, a place not far from Tarshish; and divers other places are conjectured; and some think it refers to no place at all, but to point at the excellency of the gold only. But it is not the design that this comment should swell with things rather conjectural than profitable, it is enough to know that this place intends the purest gold.

The work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: thus, saith he, the artificer takes it, and each, according to his art, shapes it and adorns it; fits the silver and the gold for it.

Blue and purple is their clothing: expositors differing about the materials out of which they were dyed, do differ also in the colours, which here are called blue and purple; the dispute is not worth the while in a vulgar comment, they that will may consult the English Annotations. Either this relates to the further adorning those rich idols of silver and gold; or it implies other artists, such as shape, or sew silk or cloth, woollen or linen, made use of to make these garments for those idols of more inferior materials, as wood or stone, the other being sufficiently beautified without them.

They are all the work of cunning men, i.e. the choicest men in their respective arts were picked out for this work, that there might be nothing wanting as to exactness, richness, and curiosity; all this the prophet speaks the more to ridicule their idols, as if all this would put any thing of power, virtue, or excellency in them, still deest aliquit intus. Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish,.... In Cilicia, where the Apostle Paul was born; according to Josephus, as Jerom says, it was a country in India. The Targum renders it, from Africa, and calls it silver "rolled up", or "covered"; so the Vulgate Latin; such was beaten with a hammer into plates, and might be rolled up for better convenience of shipment; and with which they covered and decked their idols, to make them look glittering and pompous, and command some awe and reverence from the common people. The Arabic version renders it, "solid silver"; it being the same word from whence the firmament of heaven has its name, or the wide expanse; hence we render it "spread", stretched, and drawn out into plates. The Syriac version is, "the best silver"; as very likely that from Tarshish was reckoned.

And gold from Uphaz; called sometimes "the gold of Uphaz"; Daniel 10:5 or "Fess"; perhaps the same with the gold of Ophir, Job 28:16 and so the Targum here calls it, "gold from Ophir"; to which agrees the Syriac version; and was esteemed the best gold.

The work of workmen, and of the hands of the founder; melter or refiner, being first purified by him from dross, and then wrought into plates, and polished, and fitted for the idol; and all this being owing to the art and workmanship of men, shows the brutishness and ignorance of the people, in worshipping it as a god. Blue and purple is their clothing; not the clothing of the workmen, but of the idols; these colours seem to be chosen to dazzle the eyes of the populace, and cause them to entertain a high opinion of them; the "blue" being the colour of the heavens, and the "purple" what is wore by kings; and so both may denote their deity and dominion. But, alas!

they are all the work of cunning men: both the idols, and their clothing; especially the latter is meant, which were curiously wrought and embroidered by men skilful in that art.

Silver beaten into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold {f} from Uphaz, the work of the craftsman, and of the hands of the goldsmith: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of skilful men.

(f) Where they found the best gold; showing that they thought nothing too dear for their idols, some read Ophir as in 1Ki 9:28.

9. A description of the process of the making of idols out of silver and gold, and the robing of them in expensive garments. There is probably in both MT. and LXX corruption such as cannot now be fully disentangled. The first part of the v. is likely to be a gloss.

Tarshish] probably Tartessus in Spain, for the mineral products supplied by Tarshish to Tyre, silver, etc. (Ezekiel 27:12), were exactly those in which Spain was rich. In Strabo’s time the port had ceased to exist; hence the confusion as to the locality.

Uphaz] unknown, read Ophir (as mg.) with some texts of LXX, Targ., Syr. Its position is disputed, but was probably in S.E. of Arabia. See HDB.

blue and purple] the richness of the idols’ clothing matches that of the materials which compose them.

cunning] See on Jeremiah 9:17.Verse 9. - This verse apparently once followed Ver. 5. Like Vers. 7 and 8, it is omitted in the Septuagint. Silver spread into plates, etc. The silver and gold were meant for the coating of the wooden image (comp. Isaiah 30:22; Isaiah 40:19). Tarshish; i.e. Tartessus, in south-west Spain, between the two mouths of the Baetis, or Guadal-quivir. Gold from Uphaz. A place bearing this name, or anything like it, is not known from other sources than the Old Testament writings; and hence a corruption of the text has naturally been suspected (Ophir into Uphaz). As, however, r and z are not easily confounded, either in the earlier or the later Hebrew characters, this view must be abandoned, though it has the authority of several ancient versions of this passage (including the Peshite and the Targum). The name occurs again in Daniel 10:5. The Peshite, moreover, curiously enough, translates zahab mufaz in 1 Kings 10:18 (Authorized Version, "the best gold") by "gold from Ophir." Blue and purple. The Hebrew has no word, strictly speaking, for either "blue" or "purple." Both these words here used probably express coloring matter rather than colors (this is certain of the latter word, which properly designates a kind of mussel, the shell of which yielded dye). The first produced a violet purple, the second a reddish purple. 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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