Jeremiah 23:13
And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) I have seen folly . . .—Literally, as in Job 6:6, that which is unsavouryi.e., insipid, and so, ethically, foolish. The guilt of the prophets of Samaria cannot be passed over, but it is noticed, as in Jeremiah 3:6-10, only in order to compare it with the darker evils of those of Judah and Jerusalem.

They prophesied in Baal.—i.e., in the name and as if by the power of Baal. Comp. 1Kings 18:19; 1Kings 22:6-7.

Jeremiah 23:13-14. I have seen — Rather, I saw, namely, formerly, before I cast them out of their own land; folly — Hebrew, תפלה, stupidity, infatuation. The LXX. render it, ανομηματα, iniquities, or unlawful actions, and the Vulgate, fatuitatem, sottishness; in the prophets of Samaria — That is, in those that belonged to the ten tribes, whose chief city was Samaria. They prophesied in Baal — Pretending they had their relations from Baal, they caused the people of that kingdom to err — That is, they seduced them from the worship and service of the true God to idolatry. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem a horrible thing — Hebrew, שׁערורה, a thing to be detested, an abomination. He compares the sins of the prophets of Samaria with those of the prophets of Jerusalem, and pronounces the sins of the latter to be more enormous, because they pronounced their false prophecies in the name of the true God, and pretended that he was the author of all their impostures: the wickedness of their lives also reflected great dishonour upon his name and religion. Compare Jeremiah 3:11. They commit adultery — See Jeremiah 29:23. And walk in lies — Utter what they themselves have feigned, and call their inventions divine visions, and use all manner of deceit and fraud. They strengthen also the hands of evil-doers — They confirm men in their evil ways, both by their own bad example, and by promising them peace and security, notwithstanding their wicked conduct and ungodly deeds. See Jeremiah 23:17; and Ezekiel 13:22. They are all of them unto me as Sodom — See Deuteronomy 32:32; Isaiah 1:10; Ezekiel 16:46-48.23:9-22 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.And I have seen folly ... - Rather, "Also I have seen." The prophet contrasts the prophets of Samaria with those of Jerusalem. In the conduct of the former God saw folly (literally that which is insipid, as being unsalted). It was stupidity to prophesy by Baal, an idol.

In Baal - i. e., in the name of Baal.

13. folly—literally, "insipidity," "unsavouriness" (Job 6:6), not having the salt of godliness (Col 4:6).

in Baal—in the name of Baal; in connection with his worship (see Jer 2:8).

caused … to err—(Isa 9:16).

There was a time when I saw folly in the prophets that belonged to the ten tribes, whose chief city was Samaria. The word translated

folly signifies unsavoury, or an absurd thing. Our Saviour compareth wicked ministers to unsavoury salt, Matthew 5:13, salt that is turned foolish (as the Greek word signifies). The ministers of God’s word are, or ought to be,

the salt of the earth, to season people with sound doctrine, and by the good example of a holy life; if they be corrupt in doctrine or manners, they become unsavoury, and the very worst of men. Such God says the prophets of the ten tribes were, before they were carried away captive.

They prophesied, pretending they had their instructions and revelations from Baal, and so

caused the ten tribes

to err, which after the division of the kingdom in Jeroboam’s time were called Israel, in contradistinction to the two tribes and half cleaving to the house of David, which were called Judah, after the name of their principal tribe. And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria,.... The ten tribes of Israel, among whom, in Ahab's time there were many false prophets, Baal's prophets, even four hundred and fifty; whose "folly" the Lord had formerly taken notice of; even their idolatry and impiety for giving into which the ten tribes had been carried captive years ago. The word (r) here used signifies that which is "unsavoury": something very unsavoury in their doctrines, and in their lives; they were as salt which has lost its savour and is good for nothing; to which bad ministers are compared, Matthew 5:13. These words are to be read in connection with the following, and may be rendered, "indeed I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria"; of Israel in times past; "but I have seen in the prophets of Jerusalem" (s) that which is far worse; and therefore they must not expect to escape; or, as the Syriac version, "as I have seen in the prophets of Samaria--so have I seen in the prophets of Jerusalem", &c. so that here is a comparison run between them; and the latter are represented as worse than the former, though they were bad enough; as follows: for

they prophesied in Baal; in the name of Baal, whose prophets they were; so the Targum,

"they prophesied in the name of idols:''

or, "they prophesied by Baal", as the Septuagint version (t); they pretended to be inspired by him, and to receive their prophecies from him: or, "they prophesied concerning Baal"; what he would do for them, for those that worshipped him. The Arabic version is, "they prophesied in my name to Baal"; which seems to be foreign from the sense of the place:

and caused my people Israel to err; by following their directions and instructions, and worshipping Baal.

(r) "insulsitatem", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt; "intulsa", Pagninus; "insulsam rem", Munster, Vatablus; "insulsum", Montanus, Cocceius. (s) So Schmidt. (t) , Sept. "per Baalem", Schmidt. So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. folly] lit. that which is tasteless, insipid (cp. cognate substantive in Job 6:6 rendered “that which hath no savour”), hence moral unsavouriness, unseemliness.

prophets of Samaria] They were simply idolaters, who made no secret of their belief or practice. The prophets of Jerusalem on the other hand were thoroughly immoral besides.

Baal] See on Jeremiah 2:8.Verses 13, 14. - The prophets of Samaria were no doubt guilty enough, but their offences dwindled by the side of the "horrible" transgressions of those of the southern kingdom. The prophet apparently means, not only that the former, having fewer spiritual advantages, were less responsible than the latter, but also that they had not violated the moral code so conspicuously. Verse 13. - I have seen folly; rather, absurdity or unseemliness; literally, that which is unsavory (comp. Job 6:6). The word occurs with a similar reference to Jehovah in Job 1:22; Job 24:12. To "prophesy by Baal" was "absurd," "unseemly," because Baal was a "non-entity" (Isaiah's word for an idol). In Baal; rather, by, or by means of, Baal (see on Jeremiah 2:8). Jeremiah 23:6 exhibits the welfare which the "branch" will, by His wise and just rule, secure for the people. Judah shall be blessed with welfare (נושׁע), and Israel dwell safely; that blessing will come into fulfilment which Moses set before the people's view in Deuteronomy 33:28. יהוּדה as the totality of the inhabitants is construed as feminine, as in Jeremiah 3:7; Jeremiah 14:2, etc. Israel denotes the ten tribes. Under the just sceptre of the Messiah, all Israel will reach the destiny designed for it by the Lord, will, as God's people, attain to full dignity and glory.

This is the name by which they shall call Him, the branch of David: Jahveh our Righteousness. The suffix in יקראו refers to "righteous branch." Instead of the 3 pers. sing. יקרא with the suffix ו, some codd. have the plur. יקראוּ. This some polemical authors, such as Raim., Martini, Galatin, hold to be the true reading; and they affirmed the other had proceeded from the Jews, with the design of explaining away the deity of the Messiah. The Jews translated, they said: This is the name whereby Jahveh will call him: Our Righteousness; which is indeed the rendering of R. Saad. Gaon apud Aben Ezra, and of Menasse ben Israel. But this rendering is rejected by most Jewish comm. as being at variance with the accents, so that the impugned reading could not well have been invented by the Jews for polemical purposes. יקראו is attested by most codd., and is rendered by the lxx, so that the sense can be none other than: they will call the righteous branch of David "Jahveh our Righteousness." Most comm., including even Hitz., admit that the suffix refers to צמח, the principal person in both verses. Only Ew., Graf, and Ng. seek to refer it to Israel, because in Jeremiah 33:16 the same name is given to Jerusalem. But the passage cited does not prove the case. To call any one by a name universally denotes in the prophetic usage: to set him forth as that which the name expresses; so here: the branch of David will manifest Himself to the people of Israel as Jahve Tsidkenu. This name is variously expounded. The older Christian comm. understand that the Messiah is here called Jehovah, and must therefore be true God, and that He is called our righteousness, inasmuch as He justifies us by His merit.

(Note: Thus the Vulg. renders: Dominus justus noster; and even Calv. says: Quicunque sine contentione et amarulentia judicant, facile vident, idem nomen competer in Christum, quatenus est Deus, sicuti nomen filii Davidis respectu humanae naturae ei tribuitur. - Omnibus aequis et moderatis hoc constabit, Christum hic insigniri duplici elogio, ut in eo nobis commendet propheta tam deitatis gloriam, quam veritatem humanae naturae; and by the righteousness he understands justification by the merits of Christ.)

But the rabbinical interpreters, headed by the Chald., take the name to be an abbreviation of a sentence; so e.g., Kimchi: Israel vocabit Messiam hoc nomine, quia ejus temporibus Domini justitia nobis firma, jugis et non recedet. They appeal to Jeremiah 33:17 and to other passages, such as Exodus 17:15, where Moses calls the altar "Jahveh my Banner," and Genesis 33:20, where Jacob gives to the altar built by him the name El elohe Jisrael. Hgstb. has rightly pronounced for this interpretation. The passages cited show who in such names an entire sentence is conveyed. "Jahveh my Banner" is as much as to say: This altar is dedicated to Jahveh my banner, or to the Almighty, the God of Israel. So all names compounded of Jahveh; e.g., Jehoshua equals Jahveh salvation, brief for: he to whom Jahveh vouchsafes salvation. So Tsidkijahu equals Jahve's righteousness, for: he to whom Jahveh deals righteousness. To this corresponds Jahveh Tsidkenu: he by whom Jahveh deals righteousness. We are bound to take the name thus by the parallel passage, Jeremiah 33:16, where the same name is given to Jerusalem, to convey the thought, that by the Messiah the Lord will make Jerusalem the city of Righteousness, will give His righteousness to it, will adorn and glorify it therewith.

צדקנוּ is not to be referred, as it is by the ancient Church comm., to justification through the forgiveness of sins. With this we have not here to do, but with personal righteousness, which consists in deliverance from all unrighteousness, and which is bound up with blessedness. Actual righteousness has indeed the forgiveness of sins for its foundation, and in this respect justification is not to be wholly excluded; but this latter is here subordinate to actual righteousness, which the Messiah secures for Israel by the righteousness of His reign. The unrighteousness of the former kings has brought Israel and Judah to corruption and ruin; the righteousness of the branch to be hereafter raised up to David will remove all the ruin and mischief from Judah, and procure for them the righteousness and blessedness which is of God. - "What Jeremiah," as is well remarked by Hgstb., "sums up in the name Jehovah Tsidkenu, Ezekiel expands at length in the parallel Ezekiel 34:25-31 : the Lord concludes with them a covenant of peace; rich blessings fall to their lot; He breaks their yoke, frees them from bondage; they do not become the heathen's prey." These divine blessings are also to be conferred upon the people by means of the righteous branch. What the ancient Church comm. found in the name was true as to the substance. For as no man is perfectly righteous, so no mere earthly king can impart to the people the righteousness of Jahveh in the full sense of the term; only He who is endowed with the righteousness of God. In so far the Godhead of this King is contained implicite in the name; only we must not understand that he that bore the name is called Jahveh. But that righteousness, as the sum of all blessing, is set before the people's view, we may gather from the context, especially from Jeremiah 23:7 and Jeremiah 23:8, where it is said that the blessings to be conferred will outshine all former manifestations of God's grace. This is the sense of both verses, which, save in the matter of a trifling change in Jeremiah 23:8, are verbally repeated from Jeremiah 16:14 and Jeremiah 16:15, where they have already been expounded.

(Note: The lxx have omitted both these verses here, and have placed them at the end of the chapter, after Jeremiah 23:40; but by their contents they do not at all belong to that, whereas after Jeremiah 23:6 they are very much in place, as even Hitz. admits. In the text of the lxx handed down, Jeremiah 23:6 ends with the words: ̓Ιωσεδὲκ ἐν τοῖς προφήταις; and ̓Ιωσεδὲκ may be said to correspond to יהוה צדקנוּ, and ἐν τοῖς προφήταις to לנּביאים, Jeremiah 23:9. Hitz. and Gr. therefore infer that Jeremiah 23:7 and Jeremiah 23:8 were wanting also in the Heb. text used by the translator, and that they must have been added by way of supplement, most probably from another MS. This inference is thought to find support in the assumption that, because the Greek MSS have no point between ̓Ιωσεδὲκ and ἐν τοῦς προφήταις, therefore the Alexandrian translator must have joined these words together so as to make one - meaningless - sentence. A thoroughly uncritical conclusion, which could be defended only if the Alex. translators had punctuated their Greek text as we have it punctuated in our printed editions. And if a later reader of the lxx had added the verses from the Hebrew text, then he would certainly have intercalated them at the spot where they stood in the original, i.e., between Jeremiah 23:6 and Jeremiah 23:9. Their displacement to a position after Jeremiah 23:40 is to be explained from the fact that in Jeremiah 16:14 and Jeremiah 16:15 they immediately follow a threatening: and is manifestly the work of the translator himself, who omitted them after Jeremiah 23:6, understanding them as of threatening import, because a threatening seemed to him to be out of place after Jeremiah 23:6.)

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