Jeremiah 23:10
For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourns; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.
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(10) The land is full of adulterers.—The context shows that the words must be taken literally, and not of the spiritual adultery of the worship of other Gods. The false prophets and their followers were personally profligates, like those of 2Peter 2:14. (Comp. Jeremiah 5:7-8; Jeremiah 29:23.)

Because of swearing.—Better, because of the cursei.e., that which comes from Jehovah on account of the wickedness of the people.

The land mourneth.—This, and the “drying upof the “pleasant places” or “pastures,” refers apparently to the drought described in Jeremiah 12:4; Jeremiah 14:2, or to some similar visitation.

Their course.—Literally, their runningi.e., their way or mode of life.

Their force is not right.—Literally, their might or their valour: that in which they exulted was might, not right.

Jeremiah 23:10. For the land is full of adulterers — Under this term, which properly respects those who violate the marriage-bed, persons offending by any species of uncleanness are comprehended, as also such as by fraud and falsehood circumvented others, and tempted them to join in the commission of those illicit actions which implied breach of faith and duty toward God. Because of swearing the land mourneth — By swearing here, it seems, is not only meant false swearing, or perjury, but also profane and idle swearing, or taking the name of God in vain. Compare this verse with Hosea 4:2. The Hebrew word, אלה, signifies indifferently swearing or cursing. The Jewish forms of adjuration, used in their courts of justice for the discovery of the truth, had usually an imprecation joined to them; and the prophet’s words here may import, that men ventured to forswear themselves, and incur the imprecation implied in an oath, rather than discover the truth in cases wherein they were called upon to be witnesses. The land is said to mourn when it is afflicted with drought, barrenness, or any other uncommon calamity. And the swearing here spoken of is represented by the prophet as one of those crying sins for which God had visited the nation with these and other severe judgments. And the sins here mentioned, which abounded so much among the people, were in a great measure owing to the bad example and corrupt doctrine of the priests and prophets. See Jeremiah 23:11-15. The pleasant places, or the pastures, of the wilderness — Or, of the plain, as the words may be properly rendered; are dried up — The wrath of God is extended to all places, whether more or less inhabited. See note on Jeremiah 12:4. And their course is evil, &c. — This seems to be intended of the prophets and priests, to whom this discourse is chiefly directed, (see Jeremiah 23:9-11,) and it implies that they not only erred in single acts, but that the whole course of their actions was evil, and particularly their power, rule, and government. For they both made use of ill arts to establish their authority over the people, and they employed it, not for the bettering, but rather for the corrupting of their manners.23:9-22 The false prophets of Samaria had deluded the Israelites into idolatries; yet the Lord considered the false prophets of Jerusalem as guilty of more horrible wickedness, by which the people were made bold in sin. These false teachers would be compelled to suffer the most bitter part of the Lord's indignation. They made themselves believe that there was no harm in sin, and practised accordingly; then they made others believe so. Those who are resolved to go on in evil ways, will justly be given up to believe strong delusions. But which of them had received any revelation of God, or understood any thing of his word? There was a time coming when they would reflect on their folly and unbelief with remorse. The teaching and example of the true prophets led men to repentance, faith, and righteousness. The false prophets led men to rest in forms and notions, and to be quiet in their sins. Let us take heed that we do not follow unrighteousness.Because of swearing - Rather, because of the curse denounced against sin Jeremiah 11:3. The mourning probably refers to the drought Jeremiah 12:4.

The pleasant places - "Pastures."

Their course - Their mode of life.

Their force is not right - "Their heroism," that on which they pride themselves as mighty men, "is not right," is wrong (see Jeremiah 8:6 note).

10. adulterers—spiritual, that is, forsakers of God, Israel's true Husband (Isa 54:5) for idols, at the instigation of the false "prophets" (Jer 23:9, 15). Literal adultery and fornication, the usual concomitants of idolatry, are also meant.

swearing—Maurer, &c., translate, "Because of the curse (of God on it), the land mourneth" (De 27:15-26; 28:15-68; Isa 24:6). More than usual notoriety had been given to the curses of the law, by the finding and reading of it in Josiah's time (2Ki 22:11, &c.). But Ho 4:2, 3, favors English Version (compare Jer 12:4). A drought was sent by God on the pastures ("pleasant places," oases) in the desert, on account of the "profaneness" of the priests, prophets, and people (Jer 23:11).

course … evil—They (both prophets and people) rush into wickedness (Jer 23:21; Isa 59:7).

force … not right—Their powers are used not on the side of rectitude, but on that of falsehood.

Under that term

adulterers all species of uncleanness are comprehended.

Because of swearing the land mourneth; by false swearing, or by idle and profane swearing, the land is brought to ruin. The word signifies also a curse or cursing. Many good interpreters judge that the more genuine sense and true translation of this text were, for because of the curse (that is, the curse of God) the land is brought to that misery which is coming upon it.

The pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up; the pastures of the wilderness, or of the plain, for so the word is rendered, Isaiah 63:13 Lamentations 4:19. The wrath of God was extended to all places, whether more or less inhabited.

Their course is evil, and their force is not right; the prophets did not only err in single acts, but the whole course of their actions was naught, and particularly their power, rule, and government was not right. If any say, What were the prophets concerned in the people’s wickedness?

Answ. They were profane as well as the people, as we shall find, Jeremiah 23:11; but besides this, the people were thus vile through their connivance; they did not warn the people of their sins, but soothed them up in their wicked courses, and so were the cause of the people’s wickedness, who had not been so vile but for them. For the land is full of adulterers,.... Of such as were guilty of corporeal adultery, and of spiritual adultery, which is idolatry. Now, though in this, and in the following verses, the prophet describes the men of his generation, both ecclesiastics and laics; yet also so as to have regard to the Jews in the times of Christ, to which this prophecy has respect; between whom there was a great resemblance; adulteries were so frequent in Christ's time, that the Jews left off the use of the bitter waters (n); and our Lord sometimes calls the generation in which he lived an adulterous one, Matthew 12:39;

for because of swearing the land mourneth; because of false swearing and cursing; because of the oaths and imprecations of men; or because of the curse of God, for the sins of men, the land was desert or desolate, as the Targum; it became barren and unfruitful, the land of Judea; just as the earth was cursed for the sin of man originally; though it seems rather to signify perjury or false swearing, which, and adultery, were the reigning vices of the age; see Matthew 5:33;

the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up; or the pastures of the wilderness, where cattle used to feed, were dried up for want of rain, and so were unfruitful, and produced no grass for the beasts of the field:

and yet their course is evil; the course of their ministry or prophesying was bad; and the course of their lives and conversations was one continued series of iniquity; the race they ran, both prophet and people, was a wicked one; they ran and made haste to commit sin; though a professing people, their conversation was according to "the course of this world", Ephesians 2:2; and not according to the rule of God's word:

and their force is not right; or, "is not so" (o); as it ought to be, or employed in the manner it should: the power and authority of the prophets over the people was not used, as it might have been, for the preserving of the people from sin; nor their courage and valour shown for truth, as it ought to have been; and they used their power to hurt and oppress, and not to relieve and help: so the Pharisees in Christ's time laid heavy burdens on others, but would not move them themselves; and, through a pretence of devotion, devoured widows' houses, Matthew 23:4. So some render the words here, "and their violence is not right" (p); their rapine and oppression were very unjust; so that, besides adultery and swearing, they are charged with violence in particular, and with a wicked course of life in general.

(n) Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 9. (o) "non sic", Montanus; "dissimilis", V. L. (p) "violentia eorum". So the margin of our Bible.

For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their {h} course is evil, and their force is not right.

(h) They run headlong to wickedness and seek vain help.

10. Of the two clauses containing the words “the land,” the first is probably a corruption of the second, as accidentally repeated by a copyist, or as a gloss on a blurred text, suggested perhaps by Jeremiah 23:14. It is not found in LXX, while Gi. would further omit “the pastures … dried up.”

adulterers] either literally, or in the secondary sense of idolatry. Cp. Jeremiah 3:8 f.

swearing] better, with mg. the curse, viz. the drought described in the next clause, if this last be not (so Gi.) an insertion, suggested perhaps by Jeremiah 12:4. The LXX, however, without any change in the Heb. consonants, vocalised the word as these things.

course] lit. running.Verse 10. - The land is full of adulterers. The false prophets connive at flagrant immoralities, one of which is mentioned as a typical sin. As to the nature of the adultery, see note on Jeremiah 5:7. Because of swearing; rather, because of the curse; the curse, namely, with which God punishes the guilty earth (comp. Zechariah 5:3; Daniel 9:11; and especially Isaiah 24:6, where in the original there is a paronomasia very similar to that here). The land mourneth; a figurative expression, suggested partly by the assonance of the word for "curse." Drought is what is meant (comp. Jeremiah 12:4; Jeremiah 14:1, 2). The pleasant places of the wilderness; rather, the pastures of the prairie-land ("wilderness" suggests ideas very alien to the context). Their course; literally, their running (comp. Jeremiah 8:6). The subject is "the inhabitants of the land." Their force is not right; rather, their might (or, heroism) is untruth. They are "mighty men" only in telling untruths (comp. Jeremiah 9:3; Isaiah 5:22). When the Lord shall gather His people out of the dispersion, then will He raise up shepherds over them who will so feed them that they shall no longer need to fear or to be dismayed before enemies who might be strong enough to subjugate, slay, and carry them captive. The figurative expressions are founded on the idea that the sheep, when they are neglected by the shepherds, are torn and devoured by wild beasts; cf. Ezekiel 34:8. They shall not be lacking; cf. for נפקד with this force, 1 Samuel 25:7; in substance equals not be lost. לא יפּקדוּ is chosen with a view to לא פקדתּם אתם (Jeremiah 23:2): because the shepherds did not take charge of the sheep, therefore the sheep are scattered and lost. Hereafter this shall happen no more. The question as to how this promise is to be accomplished is answered by Jeremiah 23:5 and Jeremiah 23:6. The substance of these verses is indeed introduced by the phrase: behold, days come, as something new and important, but not as something not to happen till after the things foretold in Jeremiah 23:4. According to Jeremiah's usage throughout, that phrase does not indicate any progress in time as compared with what precedes, but draws attention to the weightiness of what is to be announced. There is also a suggestion of "the contrast between the hope and the existing condition of affairs, which does not itself justify that hope. However gloomy the present is, yet there is a time coming" (Hgstb.). The promise: I make to arise (raise up) to David a righteous branch, rests upon the promise, 2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Chronicles 17:12 : I raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons-which the Lord will hereafter fulfil to David. Graf tries to show by many, but not tenable arguments, that צמח has here a collective force. That he is wrong, we may see from the passages Zechariah 3:8 and Zechariah 6:12, where the same "branch" foretold by Jeremiah is called the man whose name is צמח; and even without this we may discover the same from the context of the present passage, both from "He shall reign as king," and still more from: they shall call his name Jahveh Tsidkenu. Neither of these sayings can be spoken of a series of kings. Besides, we have the passages Jeremiah 30:9 and Ezekiel 34:23., Ezekiel 37:24, where the servant to be raised up to David by Jahveh is called "my servant David." Although then צמח has a collective force when it means a plant of the field, it by no means follows that "it has always a collective force" in its transferred spiritual signification. And the passage, Jeremiah 33:17, where the promise is explained by: David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of Israel (cf. Jeremiah 33:21), does not prove that the branch of David is a collective grouping together of all David's future posterity, but only that this one branch of David shall possess the throne for ever, and not, like mortal men, for a series of years only; 2 Samuel 7:16. צמח denotes the Messiah, and this title is formed from צמח, Isaiah 4:2 (see Del. on this passage). Nor does the mention of shepherds in the plural, Jeremiah 23:4, at all oppose this. An untenable rendering of the sense is: first I will raise up unto you shepherds, then the Messiah; or: better shepherds, inprimis unum, Messiam (Chr. B. Mich.). The two promises are not so to be joined. First we have the raising up of good shepherds, in contrast to the evil shepherds that have destroyed the people; then the promise is further explained to the effect that these good shepherds shall be raised up to David in the "righteous branch," i.e., in the promised "seed" of his sons. The good shepherds are contrasted with the evil shepherds, but are then summed up in the person of the Messiah, as being comprised therein. The relation of the good shepherds to the righteous branch is not so, that the latter is the most pre-eminent of the former, but that in that one branch of David the people should have given to them all the good shepherds needed for their deliverance. The Messiah does not correspond to the series of David's earthly posterity that sit upon his throne, in that He too, as second David, will also have a long series of descendants upon His throne; but in that His kingdom, His dominion, lasts for ever. In the parallel passage, Jeremiah 33:15, where the contrast to the evil shepherds is omitted, we therefore hear only of the one branch of David; so in Ezekiel 34, where only the one good shepherd, the servant of the Lord, David, stands in contrast to the evil shepherds (Jeremiah 23:23). Hence neither must we seek the fulfilment of our prophecy in the elevation of the Maccabees, who were not even of the race of David, nor understand, as Grot., Zerubbabel to be the righteous branch, but the Messiah, as was rightly understood by the Chald. He is צדּיק in contrast to the then reigning members of the house of David, and as He who will do right and justice in His realm; cf. Jeremiah 22:15, where the same is said of Josiah as contrasted with his ungodly son Jehoiakim. מלך is subjoined to מלך to bespeak His rule as kingship in the fullest sense of the word. Regnabit rex, i.e., magnifice regnabit, ut non tantum appareant aliquae reliquiae pristinae dignitatis, sed ut rex floreat et vigeat et obtineat perfectionem, qualis fuit sub Davide et Salomone ac multo praestantior (Calv.). השׂכּיל, deal prudently, rule wisely, as in Jeremiah 3:15, not: be fortunate, prosperous. Here the context demands the former rendering, the only one justified by usage, since the doing of right and justice is mentioned as the fruit and result of the השׂכיל. These words, too, point back to David, of whom it is in 2 Samuel 8:15 said, that he as king did right and justice to all his people.
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