Hear you the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The words of this covenant.—The phrase had obviously acquired a definite and special sense in consequence of the discovery of the lost book of the Law under Josiah, and the covenant into which the people had then entered (comp. 2Kings 23:3). The “curse” under which the people had fallen was practically identical with that in Deuteronomy 27:26, the word “obeyeth” being substituted for “confirmeth.”Jeremiah 11:2-5. Hear ye the words of this covenant — God speaks here chiefly to Jeremiah, but seems, at the same time, to address, together with him, all those pious persons who were like-minded with him, and who reproved the wicked manners of the people. The covenant here spoken of was the covenant of the law of God, delivered by Moses, to which the people had frequently promised obedience. And speak unto the men of Judah, &c. — Lay the tenor of the covenant before them; and say, Cursed be the man that obeyeth not, &c. — Deuteronomy 27:26, it is, Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them: and all the people shall say, Amen. The people’s saying Amen, testified their assent, and made the law a covenant; but they had, besides this, formally and explicitly covenanted with God, Exodus 24:3-7, with religious rites and ceremonies, used in stipulations, and afterward consented that God should punish those that violated that covenant, Deuteronomy 27:26. Which I commanded, &c. — Which law, (that you by your restipulation made a formal covenant,) I, who am the Lord, and so have a sovereign power to lay laws upon my creatures, commanded your fathers; in the day that I brought them from the iron furnace — And thus obliged them to obedience before I laid my law upon them. The use of the iron furnace being to melt and purify metals, it was a proper representation of that state of sore affliction in which the people of God were for many ages in Egypt. Saying, Obey my voice, &c. — For which kindness I required no more of them but a gentle service to me, in obeying my voice, as to the things of this law which I gave them in charge; so shall ye be my people, &c. — Nor did I only lay my commands upon them, but also encouraged them to obedience, by my gracious promise, that if they would obey they should be a people whom I would peculiarly protect and bless. That I may, or, rather, might (for he refers to the time past) perform the oath, &c. — As if he had said, I required their obedience for their own good: for I had sworn to their fathers, that I would give their posterity a land abounding with plenty of all good things, upon condition of their obedience. I have performed that oath; I have brought them into such a land, and showed myself faithful to them. Then answered I, So be it, O Lord — God having ended his speech, the prophet says, Amen, as God had commanded, Deuteronomy 27:26; either asserting the truth of what God had said, or expressing his desire that the people would do according to their covenant, or even assenting to the curse as just and reasonable.2 Kings 23:3 to describe the contents of the Book of the Law.
Hear ye—Others besides Jeremiah were to promulgate God's will to the people; it was the duty of the priests to read the law to them (Mal 2:7).Hear ye the words of this covenant: God speaking in the plural number, not hear thou, but hear ye, makes some conjecture that this was a charge given to some other prophets, either, Zephaniah (if it were in Josiah’s time, Zephaniah 1:1) or Uriah (if it were in the time of Jehoiakim). The term
this also manifests that the book of the law was before Jeremiah’s time, for all conclude that the covenant here spoken of was the covenant of the law of God, delivered by Moses, to which the people more than once promised obedience. 2 Kings 23:3, but it seems rather to design the law of Moses itself; or the covenant made with the people of Israel on Mount Horeb, Exodus 24:7, or rather which was made with them in the land of Moab, Deuteronomy 29:1. The words of it are the things contained in it, the blessings and curses; the order to hear them is in the plural number, and is directed, not to Jeremiah only, but to others with him, the rest of the prophets that were in his days; as Zephaniah, who prophesied, as Kimchi observes, in the reign of Josiah; and there was Baruch his companion; or the priests at Anathoth are here addressed with him; though it is usual, in the Hebrew language, to put one number for another; and Jeremiah, in the next verse, is singly addressed; and the Syriac version renders it in the singular number; perhaps the book of the law might lie before him, and be pointed at; and so he is bid to take it, or "receive" it, as the Targum is, and read and publish it to the Jews, as follows: Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 2. - Hear ye... and speak. To whom is this addressed? To Jeremiah and his disciples. The Septuagint, indeed, followed by Hitzig and Graf, read (instead of "speak ye"), "Thou shalt speak unto them," adopting one different vowel-point. But this involves an inconsistency with the first verb, and is not at all necessary, for why should we suppose Jeremiah to have been completely isolated? If the prophet had well-wishers even among the princes, it stands to reason that he must have had more pronounced adherents in the classes less influenced by the prejudices of society. Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 3:15), are become brutish, have not sought Jahveh, i.e., have not sought wisdom and guidance from the Lord. And so they could not deal wisely, i.e., rule the people with wisdom. השׂכּיל is here not merely: have prosperity, but: show wisdom, deal wisely, securing thus the blessed results of wisdom. This is shown both by the contrasted "become brutish" and by the parallel passage, Jeremiah 3:15. מרעיתם, their pasturing, equivalent to "flock of their pasturing," their flock, Jeremiah 23:1.
The calamity over which the people mourns is drawing near, Jeremiah 10:22. Already is heard the tremendous din of a mighty host which approaches from the north to make the cities of Judah a wilderness. קול שׁמוּעה is an exclamation: listen to the rumour, it is coming near. From a grammatical point of view the subject to "comes" is "rumour," but in point of sense it is that of which the rumour gives notice. Graf weakens the sense by gathering the words into one assertory clause: "They hear a rumour come." The "great commotion" is that of an army on the march, the clattering of the weapons, the stamping and neighing of the war-horses; cf. Jeremiah 6:23; Jeremiah 8:16. From the land of midnight, the north, cf. Jeremiah 1:14; Jeremiah 4:6, etc. "To make the cities," etc., cf. Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 9:10. - The rumour of the enemy's approach drives the people to prayer, Jeremiah 10:23-25. The prayer of these verses is uttered in the name of the congregation. It begins with the confession: Not with man is his way, i.e., it is not within man's power to arrange the course of his life, nor in the power of the man who walks to fix his step (וbefore הכין merely marking the connection of the thought: cf. Ew. 348, a). The antithesis to לאדם and לאישׁ is ליהוה, with God; cf. Psalm 37:23; Proverbs 16:9 : Man's heart deviseth his way, but Jahveh establisheth the steps. The thought is not: it is not in man's option to walk in straight or crooked, good or evil ways, but: the directing of man, the way by which he must go, lies not in his own but in God's power. Hitz. justly finds here the wisdom that admits: "Mit unserer Macht ist nichts getan," - man's destiny is ordained not by himself, but by God. Upon this acquiescence in God's dispensation of events follows the petition: Chasten me, for I have deserved punishment, but chasten בּמשׁפּט, acc. to right, not in Thine anger; cf. Psalm 6:2; Psalm 38:2. A chastening in anger is the judgment of wrath that shall fall on obstinate sinners and destroy them. A chastening acc. to right is one such as is demanded by right (judgment), as the issue of God's justice, in order to the reclamation and conversion of the repentant sinner. "Lest Thou make me little," insignificant, puny; not merely, diminish me, make me smaller than I now am. For such a decrease of the people would result even from a gentle chastisement. There is no comparative force in the words. To make small, in other words, reduce to a small, insignificant people. This would be at variance with "right," with God's ordained plan in regard to His people. The expression is not equivalent to: not to make an utter end, Jeremiah 30:11, etc. The people had no call to pray that they might escape being made an utter end of; thus much had been promised by God, Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 5:10. - God is asked to pour forth His fury upon the heathen who know not the Lord nor call upon His name, because they seek to extirpate Jacob (the people of Israel) as the people of God, at this time found in Judah alone. The several words in Jeremiah 10:25 suggest the fury with which the heathen proceed to the destruction of Israel. The present verse is reproduced in Psalm 79:6-7, a psalm written during the exile, or at least after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; but in the reproduction the energetic expansion of the "devoured" is omitted.
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