Jeremiah 23:28
The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) Let him tell a dream.—The point of the words lies in the contrast between the real and the counterfeit revelation. Let the dreamer tell his dream as such, let the prophet speak the word of Jehovah truly, and then it will be seen that the one is as the chaff and stubble, and the other as the wheat—one worthless, the other sustaining life. What have they in common? What has one to do with the other?

Jeremiah 23:28-29. The prophet that hath a dream let him tell a dream — Or, as some render it, let him tell it as a dream. Let him lay no more stress upon it than men do upon their dreams, nor expect any more regard to be paid to it. Or, he that pretends to have a message from God, either by dream, or vision, or voice, or otherwise, let him declare it. And he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully — Let him speak it, as truth; so some read the clause; let him keep close to his instructions, and you will soon perceive a vast difference between the dreams which the false prophets tell, and the divine oracles which the true prophets deliver, and will easily discern which is of God and which is not. Those that have spiritual senses exercised will be able to distinguish. For what is the chaff to the wheat — There is as much difference between my will and their dreams, as there is between the chaff and the wheat. Is not my word like fire? — Quick and powerful, capable of trying men as metals are tried in a furnace, and ready to burn up that which will not bear the trial. And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces — As a hammer breaks to pieces the hardest rock, so is my word, when properly applied, able to break the hardest and most obstinate heart, and to beat down the confidence of the most hardened sinner.

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.A dream ... faithfully - Rather, as "a dream"... as truth. The dream is but a dream, and is to be told as such, but God's word is to be spoken as certain and absolute truth.

The dreams are the chaff, worthless, with nothing in them; the wheat, the pure grain after it is cleansed and winnowed is God's word. What have these two in common?

28. God answers the objection which might be stated, "What, then, must we do, when lies are spoken as truths, and prophets oppose prophets?" Do the same as when wheat is mixed with chaff: do not reject the wheat because of the chaff mixed with it, but discriminate between the false and the true revelations. The test is adherence to, or forgetfulness of, Me and My law (Jer 23:27).

that hath a dream—that pretends to have a divine communication by dream, let him tell it "faithfully," that it may be compared with "my word" (2Co 4:2). The result will be the former (both the prophets and their fictions) will soon be seen to be chaff; the latter (the true prophets and the word of God in their mouth) wheat (Ps 1:4; Ho 13:3).

A dream; not a Divine dream; a revelation which I have made to him in his sleep (as appeareth by the following opposition, betwixt a dream and the word of the Lord); but if any man hath dreamed an ordinary dream, let him tell it as a dream; let him not entitle God to it.

And he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully; and let him to whom I have revealed my will publish and declare that in all truth and faithfulness, not adding his own fancies or dreams to it, 2 Corinthians 2:17 1 Peter 2:2, not corrupting my word.

What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord; there is as much difference between my will and their dreams as there is betwixt the chaff and the wheat; the one is of value to make food for the soul, as wheat doth for the body; the other is of no value: the one (viz. my word) is of a solid, abiding substance; the other is light and airy, and easily scattered by every wind.

The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream,.... These words are directed not to a true prophet of the Lord, that has a dream from him, or something communicated to him in a dream by the Lord, which he is to deliver as such; but to a false prophet, that says he has dreamed; and if he has dreamed a dream, let him tell it as a "dream" (l); so some supply it, as the fruit of his own roving fancy and imagination in sleep; and not call it a revelation from the Lord, and impose it upon the people as such. The Septuagint version is, "let him tell his dream"; let him tell it as his own, and not as a dream from the Lord;

and he that hath my word; the word of prophecy by revelation, and under the influence of the Spirit of God, as the true prophets: "my word"; not the word of men, or the word spoken by angels, or the Scriptures in general; but the word of the Gospel, the word of peace and reconciliation, of righteousness, life, and salvation; the evangelical part of the word, though not to the exclusion of all the rest, but this chiefly: "he that hath it"; or "with whom", or "in whom it is" (m); who has it not only in his hands to read, nor merely in his head, so as to have speculative notions of it; but has it in his heart, where it is come with power, and is become the ingrafted word; and who has a large share of spiritual and experimental knowledge of it, and an ability and capacity to express it to the edification of others;

let him speak my word faithfully; or "truly" (n); as it is. Ministers of the word are stewards, and it is required of such that they be faithful, and a more honourable character they cannot well have; and then may the word of the Lord be said to be spoken faithfully, when nothing else is spoken but that; when there is no mixture of man's with it; and when the whole of it is spoken, and nothing kept back or concealed; when a man's views in it are sincere and upright, and he aims only at the glory of God; and the good of immortal souls; when it is spoken out, openly and boldly, not as pleasing men, but God, and as in his sight, to whom the account must be given: or, "let him speak my word, truth" (o); which is truth; or, for it is truth, as Kimchi; so this is a reason why it should be spoken freely, fully, publicly, and boldly, because it is truth, and nothing but truth: or, "let him speak my word as truth"; or as it is (p); it comes from the God of truth; if lies in the Scriptures of truth; the subject matter of it is truth, Christ, who is truth itself, and those doctrines, relative to his person, office, and grace, and salvation by him; and it is the Spirit of truth that directs into it, owns it, and makes it useful;

what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord; there is no comparison between the one and the other; the one is greatly preferable to the other; there is as much difference between the dreams and lies of the false prophets and the word of God, as there is between chaff and wheat. False doctrine is as "chaff", light; when put into the balance of the sanctuary it is found wanting; it is of no value; it is as wood, hay, and stubble, in comparison of gold, silver, and precious stones; it is not fit for food, and has no nourishment in it, but the contrary, and its end is to be burned. Some doctrine is as "wheat", choice and excellent, pure, solid, substantial, and of a nourishing and strengthening nature. And what is the one to the other? or what have they to do with one another? they should not be mixed together, but separated. So the Syriac version, "why do ye mix the chaff with the wheat?" see 2 Corinthians 2:17. The Targum interprets this of persons, paraphrasing the words thus,

"behold, as one separates between the chaff and the wheat, so I separate between the righteous and the wicked, saith the Lord.''

Wicked men are as "chaff"; such were the false prophets, and all ungodly men, for their emptiness, lightness, unprofitableness, and for their being fit fuel for everlasting burnings; see Psalm 1:5; and good men, and true prophets of the Lord, and all the righteous, are as "wheat" for choiceness and excellency, purity and solidity; and these are not to be mixed together, should not now, nor will they be hereafter, Matthew 3:12.

(l) "narret ut somnium", Grotius, Gataker, Schmidt. (m) "et penes quem est verbum meum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "at cum quo est verbum meum", Schmidt; , Sept. (n) "vere", Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius; "veritate", Montanus, Schmidt. (o) "narret meum verbum veritatem, quod est veritas", Kimchi, Ben Melech, Abarbinel. (p) "Loquatur verbum meum sicuti est", Schmidt.

The prophet that hath a dream, let him {x} tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. {y} What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.

(x) Let the false prophet declare that it is his own fantasy, and not slander my word as though it were a cloak to cover his lies.

(y) Meaning, that it is not enough for God's ministers to abstain from lies and to speak the word of God but that there is judgment in alleging it, and that it may appear to be applied to the same purpose that it was spoken, Eze 3:27, 1Co 2:13,4:2, 2Ti 2:25.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. Mere dreams and the truth of God are to be kept asunder.

What is the straw to the wheat?] God’s word contains nourishment and life. Other words are but as straw.

Verse 28. - Let him tell a dream; rather, let him tell it as a dream; let him tell his dreams, if he will, but not intermix them with Divine revelations. Jeremiah, then, does not deny that there is a measure of truth in what these prophets say; he only demands a distinct declaration that their dreams are but dreams, and not equal in authority to the Divine word. For, as he continues, What is the chaff to the wheat? What right have you to mix the worthless chaff with the pure, winnowed grain? How, he implies, can such an adulterated message produce the designed effect of a prophetic revelation? (St. Paul has a somewhat similar figure, 1 Corinthians 3:10-13.) So Naegelsbach. Keil, however, denies that there is any thought of an adulteration of the Divine word by the "false prophets." According to him, the question in this verse is simply meant to emphasize the contrast between the false, dream-born prophecy of Jeremiah's opponents and the true revelations. How can the false prophecy pretend to be the true? They are as different as chaff and wheat. Both views are admissible. Naegelsbach introduces a new element by suggesting the intermixture of false and true in the utterances of the "false prophets;" but his view is not inconsistent with what the prophet has stated before, and it is favored by ver. 30 and by the command, Let him speak my word faithfully; i.e. in its genuine form; comp. Jeremiah 2:21, "A faithful or trustworthy [i.e. a genuine] seed;" also, for the general sense, 2 Corinthians 2:17. Jeremiah 23:28Jeremiah 23:23-32, in continuation, an intimation that God knows and will punish the lying practices of these prophets. - Jeremiah 23:23. "Am I then a God near at hand, saith Jahveh, and not a God afar off? Jeremiah 23:24. Or can any hide himself in secret, that I cannot see him? saith Jahveh. Do not I will the heaven and the earth? saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:25. I have heard what the prophets say, that prophesy falsehood in my name, saying: I have dreamed, I have dreamed. Jeremiah 23:26. How long? Have they it in their mind, the prophets of the deceit of their heart, Jeremiah 23:27. Do they think to make my people forget my name by their dreams which they tell one to the other, as their fathers forgot my name by Baal? Jeremiah 23:28. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word in truth. What is the straw to the corn? saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:29. Is not thus my word - as fire, saith Jahveh, and as a hammer that dasheth the rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:30. Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets that steal my words one from the other. Jeremiah 23:31. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith Jahveh, that take their tongues and say: God's word. Jeremiah 23:32. Behold, I am against the prophets that prophesy lying dreams, saith Jahve, and tell them, and lead my people astray with their lies and their boasting, whom yet I have not sent nor commanded them, and they bring no good to this people, saith Jahveh."

The force of the question: Am I a God at hand, not afar off? is seen from what follows. Far and near are here in their local, not their temporal signification. A god near at hand is one whose domain and whose knowledge do not extend far; a God afar off, one who sees and works into the far distance. The question, which has an affirmative force, is explained by the statement of Jeremiah 23:24 : I fill heaven and earth. Hitz. insists on understanding "near at hand" of temporal nearness, after Deuteronomy 32:17 : a God who is not far hence, a newly appeared God; and he supposes that, since in the east, from of old, knowledge is that which is known by experience, therefore the greatness of one's knowledge depends on one's advancement in years (Job 15:7, Job 15:10; Job 12:12, etc.); and God, he says, is the Ancient of days, Daniel 7:9. But this line of thought is wholly foreign to the present passage. It is not wealth of knowledge as the result of long life or old age that God claims for Himself in Jeremiah 23:24, but the power of seeing into that which is hidden so that none can conceal himself from Him, or omniscience. The design with which God here dwells on His omniscience and omnipresence too (cf. 1 Kings 8:27; Isaiah 66:1) is shown in Jeremiah 23:25. The false prophets went so far with their lying predictions, that it might appear as if God did not hear or see their words and deeds. The Lord exposes this delusion by calling His omniscience to mind in the words: I have heard how they prophesy falsehood in my name and say, I have dreamed, i.e., a dream sent by God, have had a revelation in dreams, whereas according to Jeremiah 23:26 the dream was the deceit of their heart - "spun out of their own heart" (Hitz.). Jeremiah 23:26 is variously interpreted. Hitz. supposes that the interrogative ה (in הישׁ) is made subordinate in the clause, and that the question is expressed with a double interrogative. He translates: How long still is there anything left in the heart of the prophets? as much as to say: how long have they materials for this? But there is a total want of illustrations in point for this subordination and doubling of the interrogative; and the force given to the ישׁ is quite arbitrary, since we should have had some intimation of what it was that was present in their hearts. Even the repetition of the interrogative particles is unexplained, and the connecting of ישׁ with a participle, instead of with the infinitive with ל, cannot be defended by means of passages where החל is joined with an adjective and the idea "to be" has to be supplied. L. de Dieu, followed by Seb. Schmidt, Chr. B. Mich., Ros., Maur., Umbr., Graf, was right in taking "How long" by itself as an aposiopesis: how long, sc. shall this go on? and in beginning a new question with הישׁ, a question continued and completed by the further question: "Do they think," etc., Jeremiah 23:27. Is it in the heart of the prophets, i.e., have the prophets a mind to prophesy falsehood? do they mean to make men forget my name? Against holding Jeremiah 23:27 as a resumption of the question there is no well-founded objection. Ng. affirms that after החשׁבים we must in that case have here הם as recapitulation of the subject; but that is rendered unnecessary by the subject's being contained in the immediately preceding words. The conjecture propounded by Ng., to change הישׁ into האשׁ: how long still is the fire in the heart of the prophets? needs no refutation. To make to forget the name of the Lord is: so to banish the Lord, as seen in His government and works, from the people's heart, that He is no longer feared and honoured. By their dreams which they relate one to the other, i.e., not one prophet to the other, but the prophet to his fellow-man amongst the people. בּבּעל, because of the Baal, whom their fathers made their god, cf. Judges 3:7; 1 Samuel 12:9. - These lies the prophets ought to cease. Jeremiah 23:28. Each is to speak what he has, what is given him. He that has a dream is to tell the dream, and he that has God's word should tell it. Dream as opposed to word of the Lord is an ordinary dream, the fiction of one's own heart; not a dream-revelation given by God, which the pseudo-prophets represented their dreams to be. These dreams are as different from God's word as straw is from corn. This clause is supported, Jeremiah 23:29, by a statement of the nature of God's word. It is thus (כּה), namely, as fire and as a hammer that smashes the rocks. The sense of these words is not this: the word of God is strong enough by itself, needs no human addition, or: it will burn as fire the straw of the man's word mixed with it. There is here no question of the mixing of God's word with man's word. The false prophets did not mingle the two, but gave out their man's word for God's. Nor, by laying stress on the indwelling power of the word of God, does Jeremiah merely give his hearers a characteristic by which they may distinguish genuine prophecy; he seeks besides to make them know that the word of the Lord which he proclaims will make an end of the lying prophets' work. Thus understood, Jeremiah 23:29 forms a stepping-stone to the threatenings uttered in Jeremiah 23:30-32 against the lying prophets. The comparison to fire does not refer to the reflex influence which the word exerts on the speaker, so as that we should with Rashi and Ros. cf. Jeremiah 20:9; the fire comes before us as that which consumes all man's work that will not stand the test; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12. The comparison to a hammer which smashes the rock shows the power of God, which overcomes all that is earthly, even what is firmest and hardest; cf. Hebrews 4:12. Its effect and accomplishment nothing can hinder.

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