Jeremiah 23:25
I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.
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(25) I have dreamed . . .—The words point to the form of the claim commonly made by the false prophets. Dreams took their place among the recognised channels of divine revelation (Genesis 40:8; Genesis 41:16; Joel 2:28; Daniel 7:1), but their frequent misuse by the false prophets brought them into discredit, and the teaching of Deuteronomy 13:1-5 accordingly brought the “dreamer of dreams” no less than the prophet to the test whether what he taught was in accordance with the law of Jehovah. The iteration of “I have dreamed” represents the affected solemnity with which the false prophets proclaimed their visions. Of the disparagement of dreams, consequent on this abuse, we have a striking example in Ecclesiastes 5:3, and later still in Ecclesiasticus 34:1-7.

Jeremiah 23:25-27. I have heard what the prophets say, &c. — I am perfectly acquainted with what these prophets have thought and said, though they think I take no notice of it, and so continue to act the same counterfeit part over again. Saying, I have dreamed — I have had a divine vision, or have received information from God in a dream. This, it appears, the false prophets often pretended, when they had received nothing of the kind. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets? — How long shall I bear with them while they prophesy the deceit of their own hearts? while they utter, for prophecies, that which they have feigned or devised themselves? Will they never see what an affront they put upon me, what an abuse they put upon my people, and what judgments they are preparing for themselves? To cause my people to forget my name by their dreams, &c. — They act as if they designed to draw my people off from worshipping and serving me, and from all regard to my laws and ordinances and to the true prophets. Indeed, their palming upon the people counterfeit revelations, and fathering their own fancies upon divine inspiration, was the ready way to bring all religion into contempt, and make men turn atheists and infidels.23:23-32 Men cannot be hidden from God's all-seeing eye. Will they never see what judgments they prepare for themselves? Let them consider what a vast difference there is between these prophecies and those delivered by the true prophets of the Lord. Let them not call their foolish dreams Divine oracles. The promises of peace these prophets make are no more to be compared to God's promises than chaff to wheat. The unhumbled heart of man is like a rock; if not melted by the word of God as a fire, it will be broken to pieces by it as a hammer. How can they be long safe, or at all easy, who have a God of almighty power against them? The word of God is no smooth, lulling, deceitful message. And by its faithfulness it may certainly be distinguished from false doctrines.In Deuteronomy 13:1 "a dreamer of dreams" is used in a bad sense, and with reason. God communicating His will by dreams was a thing too easy to counterfeit for it not to be misused. 25. dreamed—I have received a prophetic communication by dream (Nu 12:6; De 13:1, &c. Joe 2:28). Visions and dreams were two usual ways by which under the law God made himself known of old to his prophets, making them sometimes, being awake, to hear a voice; sometimes attended with, and proceeding upon, some visible appearance, sometimes not: at other times causing them being asleep, to dream; and in their sleep revealing to them, as in a dream, what his will was they should declare and publish to his people. These false prophets speaking what came into their own heads, and suited their own lust, or the lusts of a debauched people to whom they spake, would pretend that God had revealed to them what they so published in a dream; not in the mean time considering God took notice of these their little arts by which they cheated the people. But saith God, I am a God that know afar off as well as at hand, and I have heard what they say, prophesying lies as from me, and pretending that I had in dreams revealed them to them. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name,.... Or, "I hear what the prophets say" (g), &c. though they thought God was at a distance from them, in the highest heavens, and neither saw, nor heard, nor took any notice of what was done on earth, they were greatly mistaken; he heard and observed with indignation the false doctrines and lying prophecies which they delivered out in his name to the people, whether in public or in private; for he is the Lord God omniscient and omnipresent; and therefore, though they deceived the people, they could not deceive him; who knew all their schemes and all their designs, from what principles they acted, and with what views;

saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed; not a common dream, but a divine dream; this was one way in which the Lord formerly made known his mind and will to his servants, Numbers 12:6; wherefore these false prophets, in imitation of the true ones, and in order to gain credit from the people, pretended they had a dream from the Lord, in which such and such things were revealed to them; and this is repeated by them for the greater certainty of it, and to raise the people's attention as to something very uncommon and extraordinary. So the Targum,

"saying, a word of prophecy has been shown to me in a dream.''

Now, though the people could not contradict them, or know any otherwise than as they might observe that they agreed not with the word of God, or with his will, as made known by the true prophets of the Lord; for if a man says he has dreamed so and so, another cannot say he has not; because no man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of a man that is in him; yet God, that knows all things, knew that these were all lies and impostures, and that they had never had a dream from him, or any revelation of his will in that way.

(g) "dicunt", Calvin, Cocceius.

I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I {t} have dreamed, I have dreamed.

(t) I have a prophecy revealed to me as in Nu 12:6.

25. I have dreamed, I have dreamed] These were the words with which they caught the ear of the crowd, and so gained a sure hearing for their pretended revelations. But another kind of test was needed (see Introd. pp. xxxii. f.), and this the false prophets failed to supply.

25–29. See introd. summary to section.Verse 25. - I have dreamed. Jeremiah mentions it as one of the marks of a false prophet that he appealed to his dreams (comp. Jeremiah 29:8); true prophecy contented itself with less ambiguous media of communication with the unseen world. It may be objected that Abraham (Genesis 15:12), at any rate, and Abimelech (Genesis 20:3) received Divine revelations in dreams; but these were not officially prophets. Nathan and the contemporaries of the author of Job had messages from God by night, but these are called, not dreams, but visions (2 Samuel 7:14, comp. 17; Job 4:13). Deuteronomy (and this is one of its striking points of agreement with Jeremiah) expressly describes a false prophet as "a dreamer of dreams" (Deuteronomy 13:1; comp. 1 Samuel 28:6). Two passages in the Old Testament seem inconsistent with this discouragement of dreams as a medium of revelation - Numbers 12:6, where the Lord is said to make himself known to prophets by visions and dreams, and Joel 2:28, where the prophetic dreams of the old men are one of the features of a Messianic description; but it is noteworthy that the first of these refers to the primitive period of Israel's history, and the second to the distant Messianic age. In its classical period prophecy kept itself sedulously aloof from a field on which it had such compromising companionship (comp. Ecclesiastes 5:7). Warning 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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