Jeremiah 23:17
They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Imagination.—As before (Jeremiah 3:17 and elsewhere), stubbornness. The tendency of all that the false prophets uttered was to confirm the people in their sins, not to lead them to repentance. It is noticeable that the Hebrew verb for “hath said” is not the same as the received formula of the true prophets, “The Lord hath spoken.” The prophet seems to indicate in this way that those whom he condemns placed the Divine message on a level with a man’s every-day utterance. They were self-convicted by the very phrase they used.

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.Still - "Continually." This verse gives the chief test by which the false prophet is to be detected, namely, that his predictions violate the laws of morality. 17. say still—Hebrew, "say in saying," that is, say incessantly.

peace—(Jer 6:14; Eze 13:10; Zec 10:2).

imagination—Hebrew, "obstinacy."

no evil—(Mic 3:11).

Lewd and corrupt ministers are a hatred and abomination in the house of the Lord to all serious good people, and are therefore obliged to make themselves a party of those that are like themselves, whose favour they cannot have without indulging them in their lusts. Hence they prophesy

peace to the vilest and worst of men, who have no patience of being daily alarmed with hearing of the wrath of God due and like to come upon them for their sins. Hence they promise no evil to those that walk according to the counsels of their own heart, that is, sinfully, for, Genesis 6:5, Every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil, and that continually. Hence a sinful course is very often expressed in Scripture under this notion of walking after the imaginations of our own heart, as Deu 29:19; but it is most in prophecy; see Jeremiah 3:17 7:21 9:14 13:10 16:12 18:12. Hence a religious walking is called a self denying. None have a worse guide of their actions in their lapsed state, before regeneration, than their own hearts.

They say still unto them that despise me,.... That despised the word, worship, and ordinances of the Lord; with such mockers and scoffers at religion, such abandoned creatures, they associated themselves; finding that their prophecies and doctrines met with approbation and success among them. The Septuagint version is, "they say to them that put away the word of the Lord"; reject it, and cast it behind their backs; see Acts 13:46;

the Lord hath said, ye shall have peace; all manner of prosperity; that they should dwell in their own land, and not go into captivity, and enjoy the good things of it in peace and prosperity; this they pretended they had from the Lord; which was an aggravation of their sins; not only to tell a lie, but to tell it in the name of the Lord, and in direct opposition to what the true prophets said from the mouth of the Lord, particularly Jeremiah:

and they say unto everyone that walketh after the imagination of his own heart; which is evil, and that continually, Genesis 6:5; whose course of life is after the lusts of his own wicked heart; and a worse guide than these a man cannot well have: and this is a true character and description of an unregenerate man, who walks after the flesh, and not after the Spirit; after his own carnal heart, and the dictates of it; and not according to the will and word of God: and yet to such, to whom the Lord says, "there is no peace", the false prophets said,

no evil shall come upon you; no evil of punishment for the evil of sin, as the prophets of the Lord had threatened; such as the sword, famine, pestilence, and captivity.

They say still to them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye {o} shall have peace; and they say to every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.

(o) Read Jer 6:14,8:11.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye] The mg. is supported by Syr., and is to be preferred, involving only a change of vowels. The MT. for “hath said” is an expression which does not elsewhere introduce the words of the Lord.

stubbornness] See Jeremiah 3:17.

No evil shall come upon you] Cp. Jeremiah 4:10, Jeremiah 6:14, Jeremiah 14:13.

Verse 17. - Unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said. The Septuagint and the Syriac render the same text (the consonants are alone the text) with different vowels, thus: "Unto those who despise the word of the Lord." In favor of this it may be urged that the phrase, "The Lord hath said," is nowhere else used in this abrupt way to introduce a real or supposed revelation, and Hitzig and Graf accordingly accept it. Ye shall have peace; as Jeremiah 6:14. After the imagination; rather, in the stubbornness (see on Jeremiah 3:17). Jeremiah 23:17Warning against the lying prophecies of the prophets. - Jeremiah 23:16. "Thus saith Jahveh of hosts: Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you! They deceive you; a vision of their heart they speak, not out of the mouth of Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:17. They say still unto my despisers: 'Jahveh hath spoken: Peace shall ye have;' and unto every one that walketh in the stubbornness of his heart they say: 'There shall no evil come upon you.' Jeremiah 23:18. For who hath stood in Jahveh's counsel, that he might have seen and heard His word? who hath marked my word and heard it? Jeremiah 23:19. Behold a tempest from Jahveh, fury goeth forth, and eddying whirlwind shall hurl itself upon the head of the wicked. Jeremiah 23:20. The anger of God shall not turn till He have done and till He have performed the thoughts of His heart. At the end of the days shall ye be well aware of this. Jeremiah 23:21. I have not sent the prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. Jeremiah 23:22. But if they had stood in my counsel, they would publish my words to my people and bring them back from their evil way and from the evil of their doings."

The warning against these prophets is founded in Jeremiah 23:16 on the fact that they give out the thoughts of their own hearts to be divine revelation, and promise peace and prosperity to all stiff-necked sinners. מהבּלים, lit., they make you vain, i.e., make you to yield yourselves to vain delusion, seduce you to false confidence. This they do by their speaking visions, i.e., revelations of their heart, not what God has spoken, revealed to them. As an illustration of this, Jeremiah 23:17 tells that they prophesy continued peace or well-being to the despisers of God. The infin. abs. אמור after the verb. fin. intimates the duration or repetition of the thing. דּבּר יהוה are words of the false prophets, with which they give out that their prophesyings are God's word. Since we nowhere else find sayings of Jahveh introduced by דּבּר יהוה, but usually by 'כּה אמר י, the lxx have taken offence at that formula, and, reading דבר, join the words with למנאצי: τοῖς ἀπωθουμένοις τὸν λόγον κυρίου. To this reading Hitz. and Gr. give the preference over the Masoretic; but they have not noticed that they thus get an unsuitable sense. For דבר יהוה in prophetic language never denotes the Mosaic law or the "moral law" (Hitz.), but the word of God published by the prophets. By their view of "word of Jahveh" they would here obtain the self-inconsistent thought: to the despisers of divine revelation they proclaim as revelation. The Masoretic reading is clearly right; and Jeremiah chose the unusual introductory formula to distinguish the language of the pseudo-prophets from that of the true prophets of the Lord. וכל־הלך ב' is prefixed absolutely: and as concerning every one that walks...they say, for: and to every one...they say. On the "stubbornness of their heart," see on Jeremiah 3:17. With the speech of the false prophets, cf. Jeremiah 14:13 and Jeremiah 6:14. - In Jeremiah 23:18 a more comprehensive reason is given to show that these prophets are not publishing God's decrees. The question: Who hath stood? has negative force equals None hath stood. By this Jeremiah does not deny the possibility of this universally, but only of the false prophets (Hitz.). This limitation of the words is suggested by the context. To the true prophets the Lord reveals His סוד, Amos 3:7. ויראוישׁמע are not to be taken jussively: let him see and hear (Hitz.), for the foregoing interrogation is not a conditional clause introducing a command. The imperfects with ו are clauses of consequence or design, and after a preceding perfect should be rendered in English by the conditional of the pluperfect. Seeing the word of God refers to prophetic vision. The second question is appended without at all conveying any inference from what precedes; and in it the second verb (with ו consec.) is simply a strengthening of the first: who hath hearkened to my word and heard it? The Masoretes have quite unnecessarily changed the Chet. דּברי .tehC into דּברו. In the graphic representation of the prophets, the transition to the direct speech of God, and conversely, is no unusual thing. The change of ויּשׁמע into ישׁמע, unnecessary and even improper as it is, is preferred by Graf and Ng., inasmuch as they take the interrogative מי in both clauses in the sense of quisquis and understand the verse thus: He who has but stood in the counsel of the Lord, let him see and hear His word (i.e., he must see and hear His word); and he that hath marked my word, let him publish it (i.e., he must publish it). This exposition becomes only then necessary, if we leave the context out of view and regard the question as being to the effect that no one has stood in God's counsel - which Jeremiah could not mean. Not to speak of the change of the text necessary for carrying it through, this view does not even give a suitable sense. If the clause: He that has stood in the counsel of the Lord, he must proclaim His word, is to be regarded as having a demonstrative force, then the principal idea must be supplied, thus namely: "and it is impossible that it should be favourable to those who despise it." In Jeremiah 23:19 Jeremiah publishes a real word of the Lord, which sounds very differently from the words of the false prophets. A tempest from Jahveh will burst over the heads of the evil-doers, and the wrath of God will not cease until it has accomplished the divine decree. "A tempest from Jahveh" is defined by "fury" in apposition as being a manifestation of God's wrath; and the whole first clause is further expanded in the second part of the verse. The tempest from Jahveh goes forth, i.e., breaks out, and as whirling tornado or eddying whirlwind bursts over the head of the wicked. יחוּל is to be taken in accordance with מתחולל: twist, whirl, cf. 2 Samuel 3:29. "The thoughts of His heart" must not be limited to what God has decreed de interitu populi (Calv.); it comprehends God's whole redemptive plan in His people's regard-not merely the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, but also the purification of the people by means of judgments and the final glorification of His kingdom. To this future the next clause points: at the end of the days ye shall have clear knowledge of this. "The end of the days" is not merely the completion of the period in which we now are (Hitz., Gr. Ng., etc.), but, as universally, the end of the times, i.e., the Messianic future, the last period of the world's history which opens at the close of the present aeon; see on Genesis 49:1; Numbers 24:14, etc. התבּונן is strengthened by בּינה yb dene: attain to insight, come to clearer knowledge.

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