Jeremiah 18:8
If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do to them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
18:1-10 While Jeremiah looks upon the potter's work, God darts into his mind two great truths. God has authority, and power, to form and fashion kingdoms and nations as he pleases. He may dispose of us as he thinks fit; and it would be as absurd for us to dispute this, as for the clay to quarrel with the potter. But he always goes by fixed rules of justice and goodness. When God is coming against us in judgments, we may be sure it is for our sins; but sincere conversion from the evil of sin will prevent the evil of punishment, as to persons, and to families, and nations.I will repent of the evil ... I will repent of the good - All God's dealings with mankind are here declared to be conditional. God changeth not, all depends upon man's conduct. 8. their evil—in antithesis to, "the evil that I thought to do."

repent—God herein adapts Himself to human conceptions. The change is not in God, but in the circumstances which regulate God's dealings: just as we say the land recedes from us when we sail forth, whereas it is we who recede from the land (Eze 18:21; 33:11). God's unchangeable principle is to do the best that can be done under all circumstances; if then He did not take into account the moral change in His people (their prayers, &c.), He would not be acting according to His own unchanging principle (Jer 18:9, 10). This is applied practically to the Jews' case (Jer 18:11; see Jer 26:3; Jon 3:10).

If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil; if that nation leaveth off those sinful courses which I have by my prophets threatened with judgments;

I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them; I will also turn from the methods of my severe providence which I had resolved in case of their impenitency to proceed in against them. There is a difference betwixt repentance in man, and repentance as it is attributed to God; repentance in man must be, not only a change in action, but a change of heart; repentance as attributed to God never signifieth a change of heart, or purpose, or counsels, but only a change in action, all alteration of the course of his providence. Hence God in Scripture is said to repent, as in this text, and Jonah 3:10. And it is also said of him, that he is not as man, that he should lie or repent, Numbers 23:19 1 Samuel 15:29. God never changeth his counsels or purposes, though he often varieth his actions of providence, according to the behaviours of his creatures. If that nation against whom I have pronounced,.... Such a sentence as this, should immediately, upon the above declaration, do as Nineveh did:

turn from their evil; their evil of sin, their evil ways and works, as an evidence of the truth of their repentance for former sins:

I will repent of the evil that one thought to do unto them; as they change their course of life, God will change the dispensations of his providence towards them, and not bring upon them the evil of punishment he threatened them with; in which sense repentance can only be understood of God, he doing that which is similar to what men do when they repent of anything; they stop their proceedings, and change their outward conduct; so God proceeds not to do what he threatened to do, and changes his outward behaviour to men; he wills a change, and makes one in his methods of acting, but never changes his will.

If that nation, against which I have pronounced, shall turn from their evil, I will {b} repent of the evil that I thought to do to them.

(b) When the Scripture attributes repentance to God, it is not that he does contrary to that which he has ordained in his secret counsel: but when he threatens it is a calling to repentance, and when he gives man grace to repent, the threatening (which ever contains a condition in it) takes no place: and this the scripture calls repentance in God, because it so appears to man's judgment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. I will repent] speaking after the manner of men. The sense is, I will alter my treatment, for among men change of conduct implies change of purpose.The emblem and its interpretation. - Jeremiah 18:2. "Arise and go down into the potter's house; there will I cause thee to hear my words. Jeremiah 18:3. And I went down into the potter's house; and, behold, he wrought on the wheels. Jeremiah 18:4. And the vessel was marred, that he wrought in clay, in the hand of the potter; then he made again another vessel of it, as seemed good to the potter to make. Jeremiah 18:5. Then came the word of Jahveh to me, saying: Jeremiah 18:6. Cannot I do with you as this potter, house of Israel? saith Jahveh. Behold, as the clay in the hand of the potter, so are ye in mine hand, house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:7. Now I speak concerning a people and kingdom, to root it out and pluck up and destroy it. Jeremiah 18:8. But if that people turns from its wickedness, against which I spake, the it repents me of the evil which I thought to do it. Jeremiah 18:9. And now I speak concerning a people and a kingdom, to build and to plant it. Jeremiah 18:10. If it do that which is evil in mine eyes, so that it hearkens not unto my voice, then it repents me of the good which I said I would do unto it."

By God's command Jeremiah is to go and see the potter's treatment of the clay, and to receive thereafter God's interpretation of the same. Here he has set before his eyes that which suggests a comparison of man to the clay and of God to the potter, a comparison that frequently occurred to the Hebrews, and which had been made to appear in the first formation of man (cf. Job 10:9; Job 33:6; Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 64:7). This is done that he may forcibly represent to the people, by means of the emblem, the power of the Lord to do according to His will with all nations, and so with Israel too. From the "go down," we gather that the potteries of Jerusalem lay in a valley near the city. האבנים are the round frames by means of which the potter moulded his vessels. This sig. of the word is well approved here; but in Exodus 1:16, where too it is found, the meaning is doubtful, and it is a question whether the derivation is from אבן or from אופן, wheel. The perfecta consec. ונשׁחת and ושׁב designate, taken in connection with the participle עשׂה, actions that were possibly repeated: "and if the vessel was spoilt, he made it over again;" cf. Ew. 342, b. עשׂה , working in clay, of the material in which men work in order to make something of it; cf. Exodus 31:4.

(Note: Instead of בּחמר several codd. and editt. have כּחמר, as in Jeremiah 18:6, to which Ew. and Hitz. both take objection, so that they delete כחמר (Ew.) or כּחמר בּיד היּוצר (Hitz.) as being glosses, since the words are not in the lxx. The attempts of Umbr. and Nag. to obtain a sense for כּחמר are truly of such a kind as only to strengthen the suspicion of spuriousness. Umbr., who is followed by Graf, expounds: "as the clay in the hand of the potter does;" whereto Hitz. justly replies: "but is then the (failure) solely its own doing?" Ng. will have כ to be the כ verit.: the vessel was marred, as clay in the hand of the potter, in which case the כחמר still interrupts. But the failure of the attempts to make a good sense of כחמר does in no respect justify the uncritical procedure of Ew. and Hitz. in deleting the word without considering that the reading is by no means established, since not only do the most important and correct editions and a great number of codd. read בּחמר, but Aquila, Theodot., the Chald, and Syr. give this reading; Norzi and Houbig. call it lectio accuratiorum codicum, and the Masora on Jeremiah 18:6 and Job 10:9 confirms it. Cf. de Rossi variae lectt. ad h. l. and the critical remarks in the Biblia Hal. by J. H. Michaelis, according to which כחמר plainly made its way into the present verse from Jeremiah 18:6 by the error of a copyist; and it can only be from his prejudice in favour of the lxx that Hitz. pronounces כחמר original, as being "the reading traditionally in use.")

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