Jeremiah 11:4
Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:
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11:1-10 God never promised to bestow blessings on his rational creatures, while they persist in wilful disobedience. Pardon and acceptance are promised freely to all believers; but no man can be saved who does not obey the command of God to repent, to believe in Christ, to separate from sin and the world, to choose self-denial and newness of life. In general, men will hearken to those who speak of doctrines, promises, and privileges; but when duties are mentioned, they will not bend their ear.From the iron furnace - Rather, out of "the iron furnace," Egypt (see Deuteronomy 4:20). The constant reference to Deuteronomy shows how great had been the effect upon Jeremiah's mind of the public recitation of the "Book of the covenant" found in the temple. 4. in the day—that is, when. The Sinaitic covenant was made some time after the exodus, but the two events are so connected as to be viewed as one.

iron furnace—(De 4:20; 1Ki 8:51). "Furnace" expresses the searching ordeal; "iron," the long duration of it. The furnace was of earth, not of iron (Ps 12:6); a furnace, in heat and duration enough to melt even iron. God's deliverance of them from such an ordeal aggravates their present guilt.

do them—namely, the words of the covenant (Jer 11:3).

so, &c.—(Le 26:3, 12).

Which I commanded your fathers, which law (that you by your restipulation made a formal covenant) I that am the Lord, and so had a sovereign power to lay laws upon my creatures, commanded your fathers, in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace; and obliged them to obedience before I laid my law upon them, by bringing them out of the land of Egypt, from the furnace wherein iron is melted, which may either be taken literally (probably that was a piece of their work in Egypt) or metaphorically, serving at iron furnaces being a very hard and servile labour.

Saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you; for which kindness I required no more of them but a gentler 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, and I will be your God; nor did I only lay my commands upon them, but I also encouraged them to the obedience of it, by my gracious promise, that if they would, they should be a people, I would bless, protect, and defend, and bear the name of my people, and I would be their God to own and bless them.

Which I commanded your fathers,.... To observe and keep:

in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: that is, quickly after, when they were in the wilderness, and before they came into the land of Canaan. The "day" seems to include the whole time from their coming out of Egypt, to their entrance into Canaan's land; it was in the first year of their coming out from thence that the law was given them on Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:1, and it was in the fortieth year, and when they were upon the borders of Canaan, that the covenant was made with them in the land of Moab, Deuteronomy 1:3, "from the iron furnace"; meaning Egypt, and their bondage and affliction in it, compared to an iron furnace for the grievousness of it, its long continuance, and the use of it to try and prove them; see Deuteronomy 4:20,

saying, obey my voice; in the law:

and do them; the commands of it, the words of the covenant:

according to all which I command you; everything was to be done that was commanded, and as it was commanded; a perfect and uniform obedience is to be yielded to the law, in order to enjoy the blessing, or a penalty is incurred:

so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God; this is the tenor of the covenant of works; covenant interest in God, according to the law, depends upon obedience; that is the condition of it; but the covenant of grace is not clogged with such a condition; but runs absolutely,

they shall be my people, and I will be their God, Jeremiah 32:39.

Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:
4. in the day, etc.] Cp. Jeremiah 7:23.

the iron furnace] The place where iron is smelted represents figuratively the scene of the affliction. See for the expression Deuteronomy 4:20; 1 Kings 8:51; and cp. Isaiah 48:10.

and do them] probably introduced by mistake from Jeremiah 11:6.

Verse 4. - From the iron furnace; rather, out of the iron furnace. It is Egypt which is thus described (comp. Deuteronomy 4:20; 1 Kings 8:51). The oppression in Egypt was like the furnace in which iron is rendered malleable by heat (so Isaiah 48:10, "I have tested thee in the furnace of affliction"). Jeremiah 11:4Judah's Disloyalty to the Covenant, with the Consequences Thereof

In Jeremiah 11:2-8 is a short summary of the covenant made with the fathers; in Jeremiah 11:9-13 is an account of the breaking of this covenant by Judah, and of the calamity which results therefrom; and in Jeremiah 11:14-17 further description of this calamity.

Jeremiah 11:1-8

"The word which came to Jeremiah from Jahveh, saying: Jeremiah 11:2. Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 11:3. And say thou to them: Thus hath Jahve, the God of Israel, said: Cursed is the man that heareth not the words of this covenant, Jeremiah 11:4. Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the iron furnace, saying: Hearken to my voice, and do them according to all which I command you; so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God; Jeremiah 11:5. That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. And I answered and said: So be it, Jahveh. Jeremiah 11:6. Then said Jahveh to me: Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying: Hear ye the words of this covenant and do them. Jeremiah 11:7. For I have testified to your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt unto this day, testifying from early morning on: Hearken to my voice! Jeremiah 11:8. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked each in the stubbornness of their evil heart; and so I brought on them all the words of this covenant which I have commanded them to do, and they have not done them."

The form of address, Jeremiah 11:2 : hear ye (שׁמעוּ), and speak ye (דּבּרתּם), is noteworthy since we are not told who are to hear and speak; while at Jeremiah 11:3, in ואמרתּ Jeremiah receives the commission to declare the words of the covenant to the people, and to make known in the cities of Judah, etc. (Jeremiah 11:6). The difficulty is not removed by the plan adopted by Hitz. and Graf from the lxx, of changing ודבּרתּם into ודבּרתּם, "and speak them;" for the שׁמעוּ remains to be dealt with. To whom then, is it addressed? Schleussner proposed to change it into שׁמעה - a purely arbitrary change. In Jeremiah 11:4 "hearing" is used in the sense of giving ear to, obeying. And in no other sense can it be taken in Jeremiah 11:1. "The words of this covenant" are, as is clear from the succeeding context, the words of the covenant recorded in the Pentateuch, known from the reading of the Torah. The call to hear the words thereof can only have the meaning of: to give ear to them, take them to heart. Hence Chr. B. Mich. and Schnur. have referred the words to the Jews: Listen, ye Jews and ye citizens of Jerusalem, to the words of the covenant, and make them know to one another, and exhort one another to observe them. But this paraphrase is hardly consistent with the wording of the verse. Others fancied that the priests and elders were addressed; but if so, these must necessarily have been named. Clearly it is to the prophets in general that the words are spoken, as Kimchi observed; and we must not take "hear ye" as if the covenant was unknown to the prophets, but as intended to remind the prophets of them, that they might enforce them upon the people. Taken thus, this introductory verse serves to exalt the importance of the truths mentioned, to mark them out as truths which God had commanded all the prophets to proclaim. If it be the prophets in general who are addressed in Jeremiah 11:2, the transition to "and say thou" is easily explained. Jeremiah, too, must himself do that which was the bounden duty of all the prophets, must make the men of Judah and Jerusalem call to mind the curse overhanging transgressors of the covenant. The words: Cursed is the man, etc., are taken from Deuteronomy 27:26, from the directions for the engagement to keep the covenant, which the people were to solemnise upon their entry into Canaan, and which, acc. to Joshua 8:30., they did solemnise. The quotation is made freely from memory. Instead of "that heareth not the words of this covenant," we find in Deut. l.c.: "the confirmeth not (יקים) the words of this law to do them." The choice there of the word יקים is suggested by its connection with the act of solemnisation enjoined. The recitation and promulgation of the law upon Mount Gerizim and Ebal (Deuteronomy 27) had no other aim than that of solemnly binding the people to keep or follow the law; and this is what Jeremiah means by "hearing." The law to be established is the law of the covenant, i.e., the covenant made by Jahveh with Israel, and spoken of in Deuteronomy 28:68 and Deuteronomy 29:8 as the "words of this covenant." This covenant, which Moses had made with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 28:68), was but a renewal of that solemnly concluded at Sinai (Exodus 24). And so Jeremiah speaks of this covenant as the one which Jahveh commanded the fathers in the day, i.e., at the time, of their leaving Egypt. "In the day that," etc., as in Jeremiah 7:22. "Out of the iron furnace:" this metaphor for the affliction endured by Israel in Egypt is taken from Deuteronomy 4:20. The words: hearken unto my voice and do them (the words of the covenant), suggest Deuteronomy 27:1-2; and the words: so shall ye be my people, suggest Deuteronomy 29:12, a passage which itself points back to ex. Jer 6:7 (Jeremiah 19:5.), Leviticus 27:12; Deuteronomy 7:6, etc. That I may establish, i.e., perform, the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, i.e., the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deuteronomy 7:8, etc.), promising to give them a land flowing, etc. The frequently repeated description of the promised land; cf. Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17; Deuteronomy 6:3, etc. כּיּום , as in Deuteronomy 2:30; Deuteronomy 4:20, etc., is not: at this time, now (Graf), but: as this day, meaning: as is even now the case, sc. that ye still possess this precious land. The assenting reply of the prophet: אמן יהוה, yea, or so be it (γένοιτο, lxx), Lord, corresponds to the אמן with which the people, acc. to Deuteronomy 27:15., were to take on themselves the curses attached to the breaking of the law, curses which they did take on themselves when the law was promulgated in Canaan. As the whole congregation did on that occasion, so here the prophet, by his "yea," expresses his adherence to the covenant, and admits that the engagement is yet in full force for the congregation of God; and at the same time indicates that he, on his part, is ready to labour for the fulfilment of the covenant, so that the people may not become liable to the curse of the law.

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