Then the LORD said to me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke to them: they prophesy to you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nothing, and the deceit of their heart.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)They prophesy unto you . . .—The four forms of the evil are carefully enumerated: (1) the false vision, false as being but the dream of a disordered fancy; (2) divination, by signs and auguries, as, e.g., by arrows (Ezekiel 21:21) or cups (Genesis 44:5); (3) by “a thing of nought,” or, more accurately, the “idol” or small image of a god, used as the Teraphim were used (Ezekiel 21:21; Zechariah 10:2), as in some way forecasting the future; (4) the deceit of their heart, i.e., an imposture pure and simple, the fraud of a deliberately counterfeit inspiration.Deuteronomy 18:10.
A thing of nought - Probably a small idol made of the more precious metals Isaiah 2:20. These methods the prophet declares to be the "deceit of their heart, i. e., not self-deceit, but a willful and intentional fraud.
the prophets prophesy lies in my name; it is a wicked thing to tell lies; it is more so to foretell them, and that in the name of the Lord; pretending they have his authority, and are under the influence and guidance of his Spirit; and it was sinful in the people to give credit to them, and the more so in that they were forewarned of these prophets and their lies, and had the reverse told them by a true prophet of the Lord, and therefore were inexcusable.
I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them; all which are requisite to a prophet, or to a man's prophesying in the name of the Lord; he ought to have his mission from him, and his commission from him; his orders and credentials from him, and the things themselves which he delivers; neither of which those prophets had; nor were they able to make out those things to the people, of which they should have had satisfaction before they believed them, and therefore were highly to blame in giving heed unto them.
They prophecy unto you a false vision; or, "a vision of falsehood" (m); pretending they had a vision from the Lord, when they had none:
and divination; soothsaying or astrology, as some interpret it, as Kimchi observes; foretelling things by the stars:
and a thing of nought; which is good for nothing, and comes to nothing:
and the deceit of their hearts; which flows from their deceitful hearts and vain imaginations, and by no means to be depended upon.Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 14. - A thing of naught. The word, however, is collective, and means all the various futile means adopted for prying into the future. Jeremiah 14:7. "If our iniquities testify against us, O Jahveh, deal Thou for Thy name's sake, for many are our backslidings; against Thee have we sinned. Jeremiah 14:8. Thou hope of Israel, his Saviour in time of need, why wilt Thou be as a stranger in the land, like a wayfarer that hath put up to tarry for a night? Jeremiah 14:9. Why wilt Thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot help, and yet Thou art in the midst of us, Jahveh, and Thy name is named upon us - O leave us not!"
The prophet utters this prayer in the name of his people (cf. Jeremiah 14:11). It begins with confession of sore transgression. Thus the chastisement which has befallen them they have deserved as a just punishment; but the Lord is besought to help for His name's sake, i.e., not: "for the sake of Thy honour, with which it is not consistent that contempt of Thy will should go unpunished" (Hitz.). This interpretation suits neither the idea of the name of God nor the context. The name of God is the manifestation of God's being. From Moses' time on, God, as Jahveh, has revealed Himself as the Redeemer and Saviour of the children of Israel, whom He had adopted to be His people, and as God, who is merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and of great goodness and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6). As such He is besought to reveal Himself now that they confess their backsliding and sin, and seek His grace. Not for the sake of His honour in the eyes of the world, lest the heathen believe He has no power to help, as Graf holds, for all reference to the heathen nations is foreign to this connection; but He is entreated to help, not to belie the hope of His people, because Israel sets its hope in Him as Saviour in time of need (Jeremiah 14:9). If by withholding rain He makes His land and people to pine, then He does not reveal Himself as the lord and owner of Judah, not as the God that dwells amidst His people; but He seems a stranger passing through the land, who sets up His tent there only to spend the night, who "feels no share in the weal and woe of the dwellers therein" (Hitz.). This is the meaning of the question in Jeremiah 14:8. The ancient expositors take נטה elliptically, as in Genesis 12:8 : that stretches out His tent to pass the night. Hitz., again, objects that the wayfarer does not drag a tent about with him, and, like Ew., takes this verb in the sense of swerve from the direct route, cf. 2 Samuel 2:19, 2 Samuel 2:21, etc. But the reason alleged is not tenable; since travellers did often carry their tents with them, and נטה, to turn oneself, is not used absolutely in the sig. to turn aside from the way, without the qualification: to the right or to the left. סוּר is in use for to turn aside to tarry, to turn in, Jeremiah 15:5. We therefore abide by the old interpretation, since "swerve from the way" has here no suitable meaning.
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