Jeremiah 23:10
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 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). Jeremiah 23:10Against the False Prophets. - Next to the kings, the pseudo-prophets, who flattered the people's carnal longings, have done most to contribute to the fall of the realm. Therefore Jeremiah passes directly from his discourse against the wicked kings to rebuking the false prophets; and if we may presume from the main substance, the latter discourse belongs to the same time as the former. It begins

Jeremiah 23:9-11

With a description of the pernicious practices of these persons. - Jeremiah 23:9. "Concerning the prophets. Broken is mine heart within me; all my bones totter. I am become like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of Jahveh and because of His holy words. Jeremiah 23:10. For of adulterers the land is full, for because of the curse the land withereth, the pastures of the wilderness dry up; and their course is become evil, and their strength not right. Jeremiah 23:11. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in mine house found I their wickedness, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:12. Therefore their way shall be to them as slippery places in darkness, they shall be thrown down and fall therein; for I bring evil upon them, the year of their visitation, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:13. In the prophets of Samaria saw I folly; they prophesied in the name of Baal, and led my people Israel astray. Jeremiah 23:14. But in the prophets of Jerusalem saw I an horrible thing, committing adultery and walking in falsehood, and they strengthen the hands of the wicked, that none returneth from his wickedness. They are all become to me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Jeremiah 23:15. Therefore thus saith Jahveh of hosts concerning the prophets: Behold, I feed them with wormwood, and give them to drink water of bitterness; for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth over all the land."

"Concerning the prophets" is the heading, as in Jeremiah 46:2; Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 49:1, Jeremiah 49:7, Jeremiah 49:23, Jeremiah 49:28; and corresponds to the woe uttered against the wicked shepherds, Jeremiah 23:1. It refers to the entire portion vv. 9-40, which is thus distinguished from the oracles concerning the kings, Jeremiah 21:1-14 and 22. It might indeed be joined, according to the accents, with what follows: because of the prophets is my heart broken; but as the cause of Jeremiah's deep agitation is given at the end of the second half-verse: because of Jahveh, etc., it is not likely the seer would in one sentence have given two different and quite separate reasons. The brokenness of his heart denotes the profoundest inward emotion yet not despondency by reason of sin and misery, like "a broken heart" in Psalm 34:19; Psalm 51:19, etc., but because of God's wrath at the impious lives of the pseudo-prophets. This has overcome him, and this he must publish. This wrath had broken his heart and seized on all his bones, so that they nervelessly tremble, and he resembles a drunken man who can no longer stand firm on his feet. He feels himself inwardly quite downcast; he not only feels the horrors of the judgment that is to befall the false prophets and corrupt priests who lead the people astray, but knows well the dreadful sufferings the people too will have to endure. The verb רחף occurs only twice in the Piel besides in the present passage; in Genesis 1:2, of the Spirit of God that in the beginning of creation brooded over the waters of the earth, and Deuteronomy 32:11, of the eagle that flutters over her young - in Arabic rchf, to be soft. The root meaning of the word is doubtless: to be flaccid; here accordingly, to totter, to sway to and fro. "Because of Jahveh" is more fully explained by "because of the words of His holiness," i.e., the words which God as holy has made known to him regarding the unholy ongoings of the pseudo-prophets. - From Jeremiah 23:10 onwards come the sayings of God which have so terribly agitated the prophet. The land is full of adulterers. Adultery in the literal sense is mentioned by way of example, as a reckless transgression of God's commands, then much in vogue, whereby the moral foundations of the kingdom were broken up. In Jeremiah 23:14 the prophets are said to commit adultery and walk in lying, cf. Jeremiah 29:23 and Jeremiah 5:7. By reason of this vice a curse lies on the land, under which it is withering away. The clause "for because of the curse," etc., is not to be taken as parenthesis (Ng.), but as co-ordinate with the previous clause, giving the second, or rather the chief ground, why Jeremiah is so deeply distressed. The reason of this is not so much the prevailing moral corruption, as the curse lying on the land because of the moral corruption of its inhabitants. אלה is not perjury (Chald., Rashi, Kimchi), but the curse wherewith God punishes the transgression of His covenant laws, cf. Jeremiah 11:3, Jeremiah 11:8, Deuteronomy 28:15., Jeremiah 29:19. The words are modelled after Isaiah 24:4.; and הארץ is not the population, but the land itself, which suffers under God's curse, and which is visited with drought; cf. Jeremiah 12:4. The next words point to drought. נאות מדבּר as in Jeremiah 9:9. By ותּהי the further description of the people's depravity is attached to the first clause of the verse. Their course is become evil; their running or racing, i.e., the aim and endeavour of the ungodly. The suffix on this word מרוּצתם refers not to "adulterers," but ad sensum to the inhabitants of the land. Their strength is not-right, i.e., they are strong, valiant in wrong; cf. Jeremiah 9:2. For - so goes Jeremiah 23:11 - both prophets and priests, who should lead the people in the right way, are profane, and desecrate by their wickedness even the house of God, presumably by idolatry; cf. Jeremiah 32:34. There is no reason for thinking here, as Hitz. does, of adultery practised in the temple.

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