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. Jeremiah 10:9The almighty power of Jahveh, the living God. - Jeremiah 10:6. "None at all is like Thee, Jahveh; great art Thou, and Thy name is great in might. Jeremiah 10:7. Who would not fear Thee, Thou King of the peoples? To Thee doth it appertain; for among all the wise men of the peoples, and in all their kingdoms, there is none at all like unto Thee. Jeremiah 10:8. But they are all together brutish and foolish; the teaching of the vanities is wood. Jeremiah 10:9. Beaten silver, from Tarshish it is brought, and gold from Uphaz, work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith; blue and red purple is their clothing; the work of cunning workmen are they all. Jeremiah 10:10. But Jahveh is God in truth, He is living God and everlasting King; at His wrath the earth trembles, and the peoples abide not His indignation. Jeremiah 10:11. Thus shall ye say unto them: The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, these shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens."

In this second strophe Jahveh is contrasted, as the only true God and Lord of the world, with the lifeless gods. These there is no need to fear, but it behoves all to fear the almighty God, since in His wrath He can destroy nations. When compared with Psalm 86:8, the מן in מאין seems redundant - so much so, that Ven. pronounces it a copyist's error, and Hitz. sets it aside by changing the vowels. The word as it stands contains a double negation, and is usually found only in dependent clauses with a strong negative force: so that there is none. Here it has the same force, but at the beginning of the sentence: none at all is as Thou; cf. Ew. 323, a. Great is Thy name, i.e., the manifestation of Thee in the world, in Thy government of the earth. "In (or with) might" belongs to "great:" great with might, displaying itself in acts of might; cf. Jeremiah 16:21. Who would not fear Thee? a negative setting of the thought: every one must fear Thee. King of the nations; cf. Psalm 22:29; Psalm 47:8; Psalm 96:10. יאתה from יאה, ἁπ. λεγ.. equivalent to נאה (whence נאוה), to be seemly, suitable. Among the wise men of the peoples none is like Thee, so as that any should be able to make head against Thee by any clever stroke; cf. Isaiah 19:12; Isaiah 29:14. Nor is there in any kingdom of the peoples any one like Jahveh, i.e., in might. It is not merely earthly kings that are meant, but the gods of the heathen as well. In no heathen kingdom is there any power to be compared with Jahveh. We are led here to think also of the pagan gods by Jeremiah 10:8, where the wisdom and almighty power of the living God are contrasted with foolishness and vanity of the false gods. בּאחת is not: in uno equals in una re, sc. idololatria (Rabb.); nor is it, as Hitz. in most strained fashion makes it: by means of one thing, i.e., by (or at) a single word, the word which comes immediately after: it is wood. אחת is unquestionably neuter, and the force of it here is collective, equals all together, like the Chald. כחדא. The nominative to "are brutish" is "the peoples." The verb בּער is denom. from בּעיר, to be brutish, occurring elsewhere in the Kal only in Psalm 94:8, Ezekiel 21:36; in the Niph. Jeremiah 10:14, Jeremiah 10:21, Jeremiah 51:17; Isaiah 19:11. כּסל as verb is found only here; elsewhere we have כּסיל, foolish, and כּסל, folly (Sol 7:1-13 :25), and, as a verb, the transposed form סכל. The remaining words of the verse make up one clause; the construction is the same as in Jeremiah 10:3, but the sense is not: "a mere vain doctrine is the wood," i.e., the idol is itself but a doctrine of vanities. In this way Ew. takes it, making "wood" the subject of the clause and מוּסר the predicate. מוּסר הבלים is the antithesis to מוּסר יהוה, Deuteronomy 11:2; Proverbs 3:11; Job 5:17. As the latter is the παιδεία of the Lord, so the former is the παιδεία of the false gods (הבלים, cf. Jeremiah 8:19). The παιδεία of Jahveh displayed itself, acc. to Deuteronomy 11:2, in deeds of might by means of which Jahveh set His people Israel free from the power of Egypt. Consequently it is the education of Israel by means of acts of love and chastenings, or, taken more generally, the divine leading and guidance of the people. Such a παιδεία the null and void gods could not give to their worshippers. Their παιδεία is wood, i.e., not: wooden, but nothing else than that which the gods themselves are - wood, which, however it be decked up (Jeremiah 10:9), remains a mere lifeless block. So that the thought of Jeremiah 10:8 is this: The heathen, with all their wise men, are brutish; since their gods, from which they should receive wisdom and instruction, are wood. Starting from this, Jeremiah 10:9 continues to this effect: However much this wood be decked out with silver, gold, and purple raiment, it remains but the product of men's hands; by no such process does the wood become a god. The description of the polishing off of the wood into a god is loosely attached to the predicate עץ, by way of an enumeration of the various things made use of therefore. The specification served to make the picture the more graphic; what idols were made of was familiar to everybody. מרקּע, beat out into thin plates for coating over the wooden image; cf. Exodus 39:3; Numbers 17:3. As to תּרשׁישׁ, Tartessus in Spain, the source of the silver, see on Ezekiel 27:12. Gold from Ophir; אוּפז here and Daniel 10:5 is only a dialectical variety of אופיר, see on 1 Kings 9:27. As the blue and red purple, see on Exodus 25:4. חכמים, skilful artisans, cf. Isaiah 40:20. They all, i.e., all the idols.

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