Jeremiah 17:19
Thus said the LORD unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem;
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(19) Thus said the Lord unto me . . .—We enter here on an entirely fresh series of messages, arranged probably in chronological order, but having no immediate connection with what precedes, and narrated with a much fuller account of the circumstances connected with them. This, which begins the series, would appear from Jeremiah 17:25 to have been delivered before the sins of the people had assumed the hopeless, irremediable character which is implied in the two previous chapters; and the first part of this may probably be referred therefore to the early years of the reign of Jehoiakim. In its circumstances and mode of delivery it is parallel with the discourse of Jeremiah 22:1-5.

The gate of the children of the people . . .No gate so described is mentioned in the great topographical record of Nehemiah 3 or elsewhere, and we are therefore left to conjecture where it was. The context shows that it was a place of concourse, a gate of the Temple rather than of the city, perhaps the special gate by which the kings and people of Judah entered into the enclosure of the Temple. The name may indicate, as in Jeremiah 26:23, that it was that “of the common people,” or “laity,” as in 2Chronicles 35:5, as dis tinguished from that used by the priests and Levites; and it would appear, from the nature of the warning proclaimed there, to have been the scene of some open desecration of the Sabbath—possibly of the sale of sheep or doves for sacrifice, like that of John 2:14; Matthew 21:12, or of the more common articles of the market, as in Nehemiah 13:15. By some writers it has been identified with the “gate of Benjamin” (Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 38:7), but this would seem to have been more conspicuous as a place of judgment than of trade; nor is there any reason why it should be described by a different name here. Some, indeed. have conjectured that we should read “gate of Benjamin “instead of “gate of Beni-am,” which gives the meaning “children of the people.” It is noticeable that the message was to be delivered at the other gates as well, as being a protest against a prevalent sin.

Jeremiah 17:19-24. Thus saith the Lord, Go, &c. — Here we evidently have a distinct prophecy, which the prophet was commanded to deliver most probably soon, if not immediately, after the foregoing. Stand in the gate of the children of the people — By which It seems is meant the gate most frequented by the people; being that nearest the palace, where the kings of Judah held their most solemn courts of judicature, or by which they ordinarily went out of the city, and returned into it. And say, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah — The word of the Lord equally concerns the highest and the lowest, the greatest princes as well as the meanest subjects. Thus saith the Lord, Take heed to yourselves — The Hebrew is, Take heed to your souls, intimating that the sanctification of the sabbath is an important thing, wherein the welfare of men’s souls is concerned. Neither carry forth a burden, &c. — See notes on Nehemiah 13:15-22. Neither do ye any work — Servile work was forbidden to be done upon their solemn festivals, Leviticus 23:8; Leviticus 23:35, much more upon the sabbath days. But hallow ye the sabbath days — “The sabbath was instituted as a sign or token of God’s covenant with his people, Exodus 31:13, and the observance of it was the distinguishing character of a Jew, whereby he declared himself to be a worshipper of the true God, who made heaven and earth, and ordained the sabbath day as a memorial of the creation. So that for the Jews to profane the sabbath, was in effect to renounce their share in God’s covenant.”

17:19-27 The prophet was to lay before the rulers and the people of Judah, the command to keep holy the sabbath day. Let them strictly observe the fourth command. If they obeyed this word, their prosperity should be restored. It is a day of rest, and must not be made a day of labour, unless in cases of necessity. Take heed, watch against the profanation of the sabbath. Let not the soul be burdened with the cares of this world on sabbath days. The streams of religion run deep or shallow, according as the banks of the sabbath are kept up or neglected. The degree of strictness with which this ordinance is observed, or the neglect shown towards it, is a good test to find the state of spiritual religion in any land. Let all; by their own example, by attention to their families, strive to check this evil, that national prosperity may be preserved, and, above all, that souls may be saved.This prophecy on the observance of the Sabbath, is the first of a series of short predictions. arranged probably in chronological order among themselves, but in other respects independent of one another. Its tone is mild, and dissuasive rather of future neglect than condemnatory of past misconduct; and it may be assigned to the commencement of Jehoiakim's reign. Its similarity to the prophecy contained in Jeremiah 22:1-5 makes it probable that they were contemporaneous.

Jeremiah 17:19

The gate of the children of the people - Perhaps the principal entrance of the outer court of the temple. Very probably there was traffic there, as in our Lord's time, in doves and other requisites for sacrifice, and so the warning to keep the Sabbath was as necessary there as at the city gates.

19-27. Delivered in the reign of Jehoiakim, who undid the good effected by Josiah's reformation, especially as to the observance of the Sabbath [Eichorn].

gate of … children of … people—The gate next the king's palace, called the gate of David, and the gate of the people, from its being the principal thoroughfare: now the Jaffa gate. It is probably the same as "the gate of the fountain" at the foot of Zion, near which were the king's garden and pool (Jer 39:4; 2Ki 25:4; Ne 2:14; 3:15; 12:37).

Most think that here begins a new prophecy, and therefore this verse should have began a new chapter. The prophets were often commanded to publish such revelations as they had from God, either at the gates of the city, or the gates of the temple, Jeremiah 7:2 19:2. It is not agreed what this particular gate was at which the kings of Judah were wont most ordinarily to come in and go out, but the prophet was also commanded to publish it in all the gates of Jerusalem, that all might take notice of it.

Thus said the Lord unto me,.... Here begins a new sermon or discourse, concerning the sanctification of the sabbath, and a very proper place to begin a new chapter:

Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people; where there were great numbers of people passing and repassing; and whither the people resorted upon one account or another; or where they dwelt. Some particular gate of the city of Jerusalem seems to be meant; and not the gate of the temple, as Abarbinel. Some think the sheep gate, and others the water gate, Nehemiah 3:1; perhaps rather the latter, since the Nethinims dwelt near it, who were the Gibeonites, so called, because given to the congregation of Israel, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water to it; and these were "the children of the people", of the nations of the world, the old Canaanites, as well as they were the servants of the people of Israel: but what particular gate is intended is not certain; it is very likely it was one that was near the court, by what follows:

whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by which they go out; when they went out to war and returned; or went to their country houses and came back; or on any business and occasion whatever. This shows a reason why the prophet was to go and stand in this gate first; because his message was to be first delivered to these great personages, who had a personal concern herein, and who could influence others by their authority and example:

and in all the gates of Jerusalem; after he had been in the former, and delivered his message; for it concerned all the inhabitants of the city, high and low, rich and poor, male and female, young and old; and therefore he was to go to every gate, and stand and proclaim there, as being the most public places of resort and concourse, and where people were continually going and coming.

Thus said the LORD to me; Go and stand in the {s} gate of the children of the people, by which the kings of Judah come in, and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem;

(s) While your doctrine may best be understood both by high and low.

19. the gate of the children of the people] (mg. the common people. See ch. Jeremiah 26:23.) The expression is very difficult and probably corrupt. Du. suggests that the gate is one within the city and leading to the palace, thus accounting for its use by both the rulers, and those who sought an audience from them. It is better, however, to take “gate” in its ordinary application to a city gate. Peake suggests, by a slight change in MT., to read (as in Jeremiah 37:13, Jeremiah 38:7) in the gate of Benjamin (on the N. side of the city). The mention of kings as using it has reference to Jeremiah 17:25. He further suggests that “in all the gates of Jerusalem” may be a gloss. Dr. makes “the gate” to be “apparently (see Ezekiel 44:1; Ezekiel 44:3 b, Jeremiah 46:1 a, 2) either the outer or inner gate on the east, by which the kings of Judah entered and left the Temple.”

Ch. Jeremiah 17:19-27. An exhortation on the observance of the Sabbath

This section is unconnected with the preceding, and, as it considers that the doom pronounced on Judah may be averted on condition of Sabbath observance, while the previous section has declared that that doom is inevitable, it has been placed by some, e.g. Orelli, as early as the time of Josiah’s reformation (see introd. note on Jeremiah 1:1 to Jeremiah 12:6), and by others (Stade, Kuenen, Gi., Du., Co.) held to be a piece belonging to the times of Ezra and Nehemiah (cp. Nehemiah 13:15-22). See also on Jeremiah 17:20. The style, however, has much in common with Jeremiah, though this may be asserted to be due to imitation. It is argued that the general tone of the passage, and in particular the appreciation of sacrifice (Jeremiah 17:26) are not what we should expect. On the other hand “although no doubt Jeremiah speaks disparagingly of sacrifice offered by impure hands (Jeremiah 6:19 f., Jeremiah 7:9 f., 21–26, Jeremiah 14:10-12), it may be questioned whether he would have rejected it when (as is the case explicitly in Jeremiah 17:26) it is conceived as the expression of a right heart (cp. Jeremiah 33:11; also Deuteronomy 12:11; Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 60:7).” Dr. LOT. p. 258. At any rate, as we see from the Puritans, strong sabbatarianism need not be inconsistent with depreciation of the ceremonial side of worship.

The section may be subdivided as follows.

(i) Jeremiah 17:19-23. Jehovah tells the prophet to stand at the gate and forbid carriage of goods into and out of the city or houses on the Sabbath. The day is to be hallowed as He has commanded. The people refuse obedience. (ii) Jeremiah 17:24-27. If they will conform, then they and their rulers shall be immune and permanently secure, and offerings be brought from all the neighbouring parts of Palestine to the Temple. If not, then Jerusalem shall be overthrown.

Verses 19-27. - An exhortation to a more strict observance of the Sabbath. The reward held out is Jerusalem's continuance in all its old pomp, both temporal and spiritual, and the penalty the destruction of the city by fire. This passage stands in absolutely no connection with the preceding and the following prophecies; and we have just the same sense of suspicion in meeting with it here, in the midst of perfectly general exhortations, as in reading the parallel exhortations to Sabbath-keeping in Isaiah 56. and 58, surrounded as they are by the moving and almost evangelical rhetoric of the second part of Isaiah. Geiger and Dr. Rowland Williams have hence been led to conjecture that this section (or part of it) was introduced into the roll of Jeremiah's prophecies to assist the reforming movement of Ezra and Nehemiah. Certainly the regard for the Sabbath, so conspicuous in the later Judaism, dates, so far as we can see, from the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (see Nehemiah 13.), though it is credible enough that the perception of the high importance of this holy day (comp. Heine's 'Prinecssin Sabbath') began to acquire greater distinctness as the other parts of the social and religions organization were seen to be fading away (comp. art. "Sabbath" in Smith's 'Bible Dictionary'). Verse 19. - In the gate of the children of the people. It is uncertain which of the gates of Jerusalem is meant, and not perfectly clear what is the meaning of the title. Does it mean Israelites as opposed to foreigners, or laymen as distinguished from priests? Whereby the kings of Judah come in. Jeremiah appears to use the phrase "kings of Judah" in a particular sense (see on ver. 20). He may, no doubt, simply mean to say that those who are from time to time sovereigns of Judah enter by this gate. But once grant that the prophet does sometimes use the phrase in a sense of his own, and that in the very next verse, and it is very difficult to avoid interpreting it so in this passage. Jeremiah 17:19Of the hallowing of the Sabbath. - Jeremiah 17:19. "Thus said Jahveh unto me: Go and stand in the gate of the sons of the people, by which the kings of Judah come in and by which they go out, and in all gates of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 17:20. And say unto them: Hear the word of Jahveh, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all inhabitants of Jerusalem, that go in by these gates: Jeremiah 17:21. Thus hath Jahveh said: Take heed for your souls, and bear no burden on the Sabbath-day, and bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. Jeremiah 17:22. And carry forth no burden out of your houses on the Sabbath-day, and do no work, and hallow the Sabbath-day, as I commanded your fathers. Jeremiah 17:23. But they hearkened not, neither inclined their ear, and made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor take instruction. Jeremiah 17:24. But if ye will really hearken unto me, saith Jahveh, to bring in no burden by the gates of the city on the Sabbath-day, and to hallow the Sabbath-day, to do no work thereon, Jeremiah 17:25. Then shall there go through the gates of the city kings and princes, who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, ad this city shall be inhabited for ever. Jeremiah 17:26. And they shall come from the cities of Judah and the outskirts of Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the lowland, from the hill-country and from the south, that bring burnt-offering and slain-offering, meat-offering and incense, and that bring praise into the house of Jahveh. Jeremiah 17:27. But if ye hearken not to me, to hallow the Sabbath-day, and not to bear a burden, and to come into the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath-day, then will I kindle fire in her gates, so that it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and not be quenched."

The introduction, Jeremiah 17:19, shows that this passage has, in point of form, but a loose connection with what precedes. It is, however, not a distinct and independent prophecy; for it wants the heading, "The word of Jahveh which came," etc., proper to all the greater discourses. Besides, in point of subject-matter, it may very well be joined with the preceding general reflections as to the springs of mischief and of well-being; inasmuch as it shows how the way of safety appointed to the people lies in keeping the decalogue, as exemplified in one of its fundamental precepts. - The whole passage contains only God's command to the prophet; but the execution of it, i.e., the proclamation to the people of what was commanded, is involved in the nature of the case. Jeremiah is to proclaim this word of the Lord in all the gates of Jerusalem, that it may be obeyed in them all. The locality of the gate of the sons of the people is obscure and difficult to determine, that by which the kings of Judah go and come. בּני עם seems to stand for בּני העם, as the Keri would have it. In Jeremiah 25:23 and 2 Kings 23:6, "sons of the people" means the common people as opposed to the rich and the notables; in 2 Chronicles 35:5, 2 Chronicles 35:7., the people as opposed to the priests and Levites, that is, the laity. The first sig. of the phrase seems here to be excluded by the fact, that the kings come and go by this gate; for there is not the smallest probability that a gate so used could have borne the name of "gate of the common people." But we might well pause to weigh the second sig. of the word, if we could but assume that it was a gate of the temple that was meant. Ng. concludes that it was so, on the ground that we know of no city gate through which only the kings and the dregs of the people were free to go, or the kings and the mass of their subjects, to the exclusion of the priests. But this does not prove his point; for we are not informed as to the temple, that the kings and the laity were permitted to go and come by one gate only, while the others were reserved for priests and Levites. Still it is much more likely that the principal entrance to the outer court of the temple should have obtained the name of "people's gate," or "laymen's gate," than that a city gate should have been so called; and that by that "people's gate" the kings also entered into the court of the temple, while the priests and Levites came and went by side gates which were more at hand for the court of the priests. Certainly Ng. is right when he further remarks, that the name was not one in general use, but must have been used by the priests only. On the other hand, there is nothing to support clearly the surmise that the gate יסוד, 2 Chronicles 23:5, was so called; the east gate of the outer court is much more likely. We need not be surprised at the mention of this chief gate of the temple along with the city gates; for certainly there would be always a great multitude of people to be found at this gate, even if what Ng. assumes were not the case, that by the sale and purchase of things used in the temple, this gate was the scene of a Sabbath-breaking trade. But if, with the majority of comm., we are to hold that by "people's gate" a city gate was meant, then we cannot determine which it was. Of the suppositions that it was the Benjamin-gate, or the well-gate, Nehemiah 2:14 (Maur.), or the gate of the midst which led through the northern wall of Zion from the upper city into the lower city (Hitz.), or the water-gate, Nehemiah 3:26 (Graf), each is as unfounded as another. From the plural: the kings of Judah (Jeremiah 17:20), Hitz. infers that more kings than one were then existing alongside one another, and that thus the name must denote the members of the royal family. But his idea has been arbitrarily forced into the text. The gates of the city, as well as of the temple, did not last over the reign of but one king, Jeremiah 17:21. השּׁמר בּנפשׁות, to take heed for the souls, i.e., take care of the souls, so as not to lose life (cf. Malachi 2:15), is a more pregnant construction than that with ל, Deuteronomy 4:15, although it yields the same sense. Ng. seeks erroneously to explain the phrase according to 2 Samuel 20:10 (נשׁמר בּחרב, take care against the sword) and Deuteronomy 24:8, where השּׁׁמר ought not to be joined at all with בּנגע. The bearing of burdens on the Sabbath, both into the city and out of one's house, seems to point most directly at market trade and business, cf. Nehemiah 13:15., but is used only as one instance of the citizens' occupations; hence are appended the very words of the law: to do no work, Exodus 12:16; Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:14, and: to hallow the Sabbath, namely, by cessation from all labour, cf. Jeremiah 17:24. The remark in Jeremiah 17:23, that the fathers have already transgressed God's law, is neither contrary to the aim in view, as Hitz. fancies, nor superfluous, but serves to characterize the transgression censured as an old and deeply-rooted sin, which God must at length punish unless the people cease therefrom. The description of the fathers' disobedience is a verbal repetition of Jeremiah 7:26. The Chet. שׁומע cannot be a participle, but is a clerical error for שׁמוע (infin. constr. with (scriptio plena), as in Jeremiah 11:10 and Jeremiah 19:15. See a similar error in Jeremiah 2:25 and Jeremiah 8:6. On "nor take instruction," cf. Jeremiah 2:30.

In the next verses the observance of this commandment is enforced by a representation of the blessings which the hallowing of the Sabbath will bring to the people (Jeremiah 17:24-26), and the curse upon its profanation (Jeremiah 2:27). If they keep the Sabbath holy, the glory of the dynasty of David and the prosperity of the people will acquire permanence, and Jerusalem remain continually inhabited, and the people at large will bring thank-offerings to the Lord in His temple. Hitz., Graf, and Ng. take objection to the collocation: kings and princes (Jeremiah 2:25), because princes do not sit on the throne of David, nor can they have other "princes" dependent on them, as we must assume from the "they and their princes." But although the ושׂרים be awanting in the parallel, Jeremiah 22:4, yet this passage cannot be regarded as the standard; for whereas the discourse in Jeremiah 22 is addressed to the king, the present is to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, or rather the people of Judah. The ושׂרים is subordinate to the kings, so that the sitting on the throne of David is to be referred only to the kings, the following ושׂריהם helping further to define them. "Riding" is to be joined both with "in chariots" and "on horses," since רכב means either driving or riding. The driving and riding of the kings and their princes through the gates of Jerusalem is a sign of the undiminished splendour of the rule of David's race.

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