Jeremiah 23:14
I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none does return from his wickedness; they are all of them to me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) They commit adultery, and walk in lies . . .—The union of the claim to prophesy in the name of Jehovah with these flagrant breaches of His law was more hateful in the prophet’s eyes even than the open recognition of Baal. In the terrible language of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:10), prophets and people had become like the dwellers in the cities of the plain. Here, also, the language of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 29:23; Deuteronomy 32:32) probably influenced that of the prophet.

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.Rather, "But in the prophets of Jerusalem" etc. Their conduct is more strongly condemned than that of the Baal-priests.

They strengthen ... - First by neglecting to warn and rebuke sinners: secondly by the direct influence of their bad example.

They are all of them - They have become, "all of them," i. e., the people of Jerusalem, and not the prophets only.

14. "Jerusalem" and Judah were even worse than "Samaria" and the ten tribes; the greater were the privileges of the former, the greater was their guilt. They had the temple in their midst, which the ten tribes had not; yet in the temple itself they practised idolatry.

strengthen … hands of evildoers—(Eze 13:22).

as Sodom—(De 32:32; Isa 1:10).

An horrible thing; the word signifies

filthiness, stench, or an abominable thing, things every whit as bad, in some kind worse, than what I saw in the prophets of the ten tribes.

They commit adultery; they commit not spiritual adultery only, but carnal adultery, they are whoremongers.

And walk in lies; and they make it their business to instil falsehoods into people, and entitle me to them; and this is their trade, not a single act, but their ordinary practice.

They strengthen also the hands of evil-doers, that none doth return from his wickedness: this is the great aggravation of the sin of those that occupy the place of spiritual guides, that they encourage profane men, either by their false doctrine, extenuating sin, and putting a fair gloss upon them; or at least by their mealy mouths fearing or forbearing to tell sinners of their wicked courses; or by their wicked examples, the most of people thinking they may do what their teachers do, by which means sinners, instead of being brought to a sense of their sins, and a repentance for them, are hardened in their wicked courses. By this means all of them, either of their prophets and priests, or all of the people, (the first seemeth chiefly here intended,) are become to me as contemptible and abominable as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah: though they were the sons of Aaron, and of the priestly order, yet living lewd lives, and acting quite contrary to the end of their holy calling, God declares himself to value them no more than as the vilest of men, such were the Sodomites. Or by those words God threatens that he would destroy them with as notorious a destruction as he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus the comparison is used Isaiah 1:9, and consonant to this are the words in the next verse. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing,.... Or "but", or "so have I seen", &c. as before observed; even in the prophets of Jerusalem, where the temple was, and where the pure worship of God was professed to be observed, and that now, at the present time; as he had formerly seen and observed what was foolish, ridiculous, and impious, in the prophets of the ten tribes, and had punished them for it; so now at this instant he sees that in the prophets of Judea which was enough to make a man's hair stand an end, as the word (u) signifies; or, as it may be derived from another root, what was "filthy" (w) and obscene; as follows:

they commit adultery; or, "in committing adultery" (x); with their neighbours' wives; for this rather than idolatry or spiritual adultery seems to be meant:

and walk in lies; or, "walking in lies" (y); constantly speaking lies in their common talk and conversation; so that they were not to be believed in anything they said; which was monstrous; and delivering out false doctrines in the name of the Lord, pretending they received them from him; which was worse than prophesying in the name of Baal:

they strengthen also the hands of evil doers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they hardened them in sin; partly by their false doctrines, extenuating their sins, putting a false gloss upon them, and promising them peace, though they lived in sin; and partly by their own wicked examples; the people concluding that what the prophets did they might do also; so that they never thought of repentance for their sins, or amendment of their lives; but went on in sin without remorse or reformation; not thinking anything about it, and not seeing any need of it; see Ezekiel 13:22;

they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah; the prophets were all of them in God's account as the men of Sodom; who were exceeding great sinners before the Lord, daring and impudent in sinning; and the people, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that were led by them into the same wicked sentiments and practices, were like unto Gomorrah; and as they were like to them in sinning, So they would be in punishment; or a like punishment would be inflicted upon the prophets and people of Jerusalem as were upon Sodom and Gomorrah; see Isaiah 1:9.

(u) a "pilus". (w) "Turpitudinem", Munster, Montanus. (x) "adulterando", Junius & Tremellius, Schmidt. (y) "et eundo in mendacio", Schmidt; "et ambulando in falsitate", Junius & Tremellius.

I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem {k} an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them {l} to me as Sodom, and the inhabitants of it as Gomorrah.

(k) They who should have profited by my rods against Samaria, are become worse than they.

(l) Though to the world they seem holy fathers, yet I detest them as I did these abominable cities.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. all of them] the prophets and their hearers alike.

thereof] of Jerusalem.Verse 14. - I have seen also, etc.; rather, But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen. Horrible; as in Jeremiah 5:30. They commit adultery, etc.; literally, the committing adultery and the walking in lies - a much more forcible way of putting it. They are all of them; rather, They have become all of them; vie. either the prophets or the people in general. The inhabitants thereof; viz. of Jerusalem. 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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