Jeremiah 19:5
They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:
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(5) The high places of Baal.—Baal, as in Jeremiah 2:23, is identified with Molech, and the terms in which the guilt of the people and its punishment are described are all but identical with those of Jeremiah 7:31-32. The fact that such sacrifices were offered is indicated in Psalm 106:37-38.

19:1-9 The prophet must give notice of ruin coming upon Judah and Jerusalem. Both rulers and ruled must attend to it. That place which holiness made the joy of the whole earth, sin made the reproach and shame of the whole earth. There is no fleeing from God's justice, but by fleeing to his mercy.Have estranged this place - They have not recognized the sanctity of this place, but have treated it as a strange place, by worshipping in it strange gods.

Innocents - i. e., guiltless persons.

5. commanded not—nay, more, I commanded the opposite (Le 18:21; see Jer 7:31, 32). This and the following verse contain another great sin of this people, with the punishment which God proportioneth to it. The sin in the general was idolatry, but a most barbarous species of it, mentioned also Jeremiah 7:31 32:35, where it is said they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire to Molech; the place where they did it is called Tophet, Jeremiah 19:6, of which also mention is made Isaiah 30:33 Jeremiah 7:31-33. For the opening of this text, as also of those other texts that mention this idolatry, we must open what is meant by Baal, Moloch, Tophet, and the valley of the son of Hinnom. There is no doubt but Baal and Molech, or Moloch, signify the same thing; Baal signifieth a lord, Molech a king. They ordinarily called their idols by these names; as also Malcham, Zephaniah 1:5; upon which account God would not be called Baal, Hosea 2:16, though he was called Jehovah, Elohim, and Adonai, all which signified lord, as Baal did. Both Baal and Molech seem common names to all idols. There was more than one idol in the house of Baal, 2 Kings 10:26. The Ammonites called their principal idol Milcom and Molech, as appears from 1 Kings 11:5 2 Kings 23:13. To this idol they sacrificed their children. It was a very ancient idolatry, as appeareth by the very early law of God against it, Leviticus 20:3-5. Some say it was derived from Saturn, whom they make contemporary with Deborah and Barak, who, to appease the gods in an imminent danger, sacrificed his son. Others say it began in the time of Serug, the father of Nahor, of whom we read Genesis 11:20, and that it had its original from the devil, speaking out of the belly of some dead persons, commanding this homage, possibly in imitation of God, who, Genesis 22:2, to try Abraham’s obedience, commanded him to offer up Isaac upon the Mount Moriah. We must know there were other sacrifices they offered to Baal: they burnt incense to Baal, 2 Kings 23:5; they offered sacrifices and burnt-offerings of beasts, 1 Kings 18:26 2 Kings 10:24; only in some extraordinary straits, to show their great obedience to the devil, they offered their children. What creature they worshipped under this name is not certain, but very probably it was the sun, from 2 Kings 23:5, or some superior being, which they owned as their supreme lord and king, which they, some of them, mistook the sun, moon, and stars to be; they being glorious beings removed out of men’s knowledge, so as they had not sufficient means to understand their natures, might, considering their motions, and vast influence they had upon all other creatures, mistake them for animate and supreme beings, to which as they paid other homages, (such as swearing by them, Zephaniah 1:5, burning incense, offering beasts, praying to them,) so in imitation of the heathens, and in a pretence of high devotion and homage in some special cases and straits, they offered their children. Some think they only made them go through the fire, but did not burn them; and indeed so most of the scriptures express this abominable idolatry; but some scriptures speak it plain enough, that they actually burnt them: the psalmist, Psalm 106:37, saith, They shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood, which it could not have been by their children’s merely passing through the fire; and it is laid to their charge, Ezekiel 16:20,21, Thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and those hast thou sacrificed to them to be devoured. That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them. We read of the idolatry of Jeroboam, who worshipped the true God, but by calves set up at Dan and Beth-el. Ahab exceeded this, bringing in the terminative worship of the creatures, worshipping the sun, moon, and stars, under the name of Baal. But, the first in Judah, of whom we read that he made his son to pass through the fire, was Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah, 2 Kings 16:3. He was followed by his grandchild Manasseh, 2 Kings 21:6. Josiah, the good son of a bad father, defiled the place where this abominable idolatry was committed, 2 Kings 23:10. The place where they committed this horrible abomination was the valley of the son of Hinnom, very near the city, and the particular place was called Tophet. There was a high place built for the idol, and many think that the name Tophet ariseth from their use of a drum or tabret, with which, while the poor children were burning, they made great noises to drown the sound of the children’s yellings; though others think the word Tophet originally signifies hell, or the place of the damned, of which this place, both for the torments and roarings in it, was a lively representation. Now of this barbarous and horrible idolatry God saith, he commanded them not, neither came it into his mind. It was so far from it, that God had most severely forbid it, Leviticus 20:2-5, making it a capital crime for any to do it, and for any to conceal others that they knew did it; so that here is a meiosis, less spoken than was true fit the case; but possibly God’s expressing a thing of this nature, being an error in his worship, under these soft terms,

I commanded them not, neither did it come into my mind, giveth no small ground to considerate men to judge that we must have a command from God, though not for every individual act of our worship, nor for every circumstance of human action which we do in his worship, yet for every specifical religious act, and for any thing whereby we pay a homage to God; it being indeed the most reasonable thing imaginable, that God should have the same privilege which every prince or great man amongst men claimeth as his right, to prescribe the acts, modes, and methods for his own homage.

They have also built the high places of Baal,.... Or, they have even built, &c. and so the words explain what is before suggested of their idolatry; these were the temples in which they placed his image, and the altars on which they sacrificed to him; as follows:

to burn their sons with fire, for burnt offerings unto Baal; the same idol that is sometimes called Moloch, the names being much of the same signification; the one signifying a "lord" or "master"; the other a king; and to the idol under each name they burned their children with fire, and offered them as burnt offerings unto it; which was a most cruel and barbarous way of sacrificing. Some think they only caused them to pass through two fires; but the text is express for it, that they burnt them with fire, and made burnt offerings of them, as they did with slain beasts. It seems very likely that they did both:

which I commanded not; in my law, as the Targum adds; and which was intimation enough to avoid it; though this was not all, he expressly forbad it, Leviticus 20:2;

nor spake it, neither came it into my mind; and it is marvellous it should ever enter into the heart of man; none but Satan himself could ever have devised such a way of worship.

They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I {c} commanded not, nor spoke it, neither came it into my mind:

(c) By which is declared that whatever is not commanded by God's word concerning is service is against his word.

5. of Baal] See on Jeremiah 2:8. Topheth is the corresponding word in Jeremiah 7:31.

5, 6. Substantially identical with ch. Jeremiah 7:31-32. See notes there and on Jeremiah 2:23.

Verse 5. - Baal. This seems to be used loosely for Moloch (comp. on Jeremiah 2:8). Jeremiah 19:5In Jeremiah 19:3-5 the threatening is summarily set forth. Horrible evil will the Lord bring on this place, i.e., Jerusalem. The ears of every one that hears it will tingle, so utterly stunning will the news of it turn out to be; cf. 2 Kings 21:12 and 1 Samuel 3:11, where we find תּצלּינה; cf. Ew. 197, a. This they have brought on themselves by their dreadful sins. They have forsaken Jahveh, disowned this place; נכּר , prop. find strange, Deuteronomy 32:27, then treat as strange, deny, Job 21:29. In substance: they have not treated Jerusalem as the city of the sanctuary of their God, but, as it mentioned after, they have burnt incense in it to other (strange) gods. The words: they and their fathers, and the kings of Judah, are not the subject to "knew not," as is "they and their," etc., in Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 16:13, but to the preceding verb of the principal clause. "And have filled the city with the blood of innocents." This Grot. and others understand by the blood of the children slain for Moloch; and for this, appeal is made to Psalm 106:37., where the pouring out of innocent blood is explained to be that of sons and daughters offered to idols. But this passage cannot be the standard for the present one, neither can the statement that here we have to deal with idolatry alone. This latter is petitio principii. If shedding the blood of innocents had been said of offerings to Moloch, then Jeremiah 19:5 must be taken as epexegesis. But in opposition to this we have not only the parallelism of the clauses, but also and especially the circumstance, that not till Jeremiah 19:5 is mention made of altars on which to offer children of Moloch. We therefore understand the filling of Jerusalem with the blood of innocents, according to Jeremiah 7:6, cf. Jeremiah 2:34 and Jeremiah 22:3, Jeremiah 22:17, of judicial murder or of bloody persecution of the godly; and on two grounds: 1. because alongside of idolatry we always find mentioned as the chief sin the perversion of justice to the shedding of innocent blood (cf. the passages cited), so that this sin would not likely be omitted here, as one cause of the dreadful judgment about to pass on Jerusalem; 2. because our passage recalls the very wording of 2 Kings 21:16, where, after mentioning his idolatry, it is said of Manasseh: Also innocent blood hath he shed, until he made Jerusalem full (מלּא) to the brink.

The climax in the enumeration of sins in these verses is accordingly this: 1. The disowning of the holiness of Jerusalem as the abode of the Lord by the public practice of idolatry; 2. the shedding of innocent blood as extremity of injustice and godless judicial practices; 3. as worst of all abominations, the building of altars for burning their own children to Moloch. That the Moloch-sacrifices are mentioned last, as being worst of all, is shown by the three relative clauses: which I have not commanded, etc., which by an impassioned gradation of phrases mark God's abomination of these horrors. On this subject cf. Jeremiah 7:31 and Jeremiah 32:35.

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