Jeremiah 23:9
Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.
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(9) Mine heart within me is broken . . .—The abrupt transition shows that we are entering on an entirely new section. In the Hebrew order and punctuation of the words this is shown still more clearly—Concerning the prophets: My heart is broken within me—the first words being the superscription and title of what follows. The four clauses describe the varied phenomena of horror and amazement, and then comes the cause of the horror—the contrast between the words of Jehovah and His holiness on the one side, and the wickedness of priests and prophets on the other. The whole section is the complement of that which denounced the wickedness of the pastors—i.e., of the civil rulers—in Jeremiah 23:1-4.

Jeremiah 23:9. My heart within me is broken — This seems to be the beginning of a new discourse against the false prophets, with whom afterward the priests are joined. The first word of it in the Hebrew, לנבאים, is rendered by the Vulgate, Ad prophetas, To the prophets, as if it were the title of the following prophecy. In this Jeremiah describes the terror and concern which were upon him when he considered the horrible sin of these prophets in pretending a divine mission when they had received none, and in uttering as messages from God what were really their own inventions, and in direct opposition to every thing God had spoken. And he declares that, upon a view of their guilt, and of the evils they were bringing on themselves and their country, he was in trouble and agitation, like that of a man who had lost his reason through intoxication.

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.Because of the prophets - Rather, concerning "the prophets." These words should come first, as being the title of this portion of the prophecy Jeremiah 23:9-40. 9. because of the prophets—so the Masorites and Targum. But Vulgate, Septuagint, &c., make this the inscription of the prophecy, Concerning the Prophets: as in Jer 46:2; 48:1; 49:1. Jeremiah expresses his horror at the so-called "prophets" not warning the people, though iniquity so fearfully abounded, soon to be followed by awful judgments.

bones shake—(Hab 3:16).

drunken—God's judgments are represented as stupefying like wine. The effects of the Holy Spirit also are compared to those of wine (Ac 2:17). In both cases ecstasy was produced. This accounts for the denial of wine to those likely to be inspired, Nazarites, &c. (Lu 1:15). It was necessary to put it out of men's power to ascribe inspired ecstasy to the effects of wine.

because of … words of … holiness—because of Jehovah's holy words, wherewith He threatened severe penalties, soon to be inflicted, against the breakers of His law.

The prophet having denounced the wrath of God against the wicked rulers of Judah under the notion of pastors, cometh here to discharge the like trust with reference to those orders of persons amongst the Jews, whose office it was, or at least who took upon them, to reveal the mind and will of God to people, and who were upon that account called

prophets: for these he declares a great passion and trouble; either for their sake, in prospect of that vengeance of God which he saw was like to be poured out upon them; or for the people’s sake, who had been deceived by their unfaithful revelations of the Divine will, and led into wickedness by their vile examples. For this he saith his

heart was broken, his bones shaked. And he was even astonished and stupified, and like a drunken man he knew not what he did; he was so stricken at the apprehensions of the wrath of the Lord ready to be revealed against them; and to consider what words the holy God had put into his mouth to speak against them.

Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets,.... The false prophets, as the Targum rightly interprets it. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "to the prophets"; and makes a stop there; which agrees with the original (l); so that it may be considered as the title of what follows; it being directed to them by the prophet, to let them know his concern for them; to expose their sin, and reclaim them; who was so affected with their case, that his "heart" within him was "broken" with grief and sorrow, because of their false doctrines and wicked lives; and because of the mischief they did the people, and the ruin they brought upon them, and themselves also:

all my bones shake; with dread and horror at the iniquities committed and the judgments approaching. The word, as Jarchi says, signifies such a fluttering motion as is made by the wings of a bird hovering over its nest. The same word is used in Genesis 1:2; which Ben Melech refers to here. The prophet shuddered at their dreadful impiety, and at the thoughts of what was coming upon them on that account:

I am like a drunken man; that can neither speak nor stand; that knows not what to say, or which way to go; so confused and astonished was the prophet at what he saw was doing by them, and was likely to befall them:

and like a man whom wine hath overcome; or, "has passed over" (m); like waves and billows, so that he is drowned in it, and mastered by it:

because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness: because of the dishonour done to his holy name, and holy truths; because of the profanation of both in the mouths of these false prophets; they pretending to come in the name of the Lord, and to speak his words; and because of the dreadful judgments which he, the prophet, was sent to denounce against them from the Lord.

(l) "ad prophetas", V. L. "quod ad prophetat ipsos", Junius & Tremellius; "ad prophetas quod attinet", Piscator. (m) So Kimchi and Ben Melech. "pertransivit", Vatablus, Montanus; "super quem transiit vinum", Pagninus, Calvin; "penetravit", Schmidt.

My heart within me is broken because of the {g} prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.

(g) Meaning, the false prophets who deceive the people: in which appears his great love toward his nation, read Jer 14:13.

9. his holy words] the words which He in the holiness of His nature had put forth concerning the wicked doings of the false prophets.

Jeremiah 23:9-40. Condemnation of the prophets

Following on the prophecies relating to successive kings of Judah, we have a section dealing with the iniquities of a class who also grievously misled the nation. The passage doubtless contains much that is genuine, but, from the diffuseness of style, especially in the latter part, it may be safely inferred that additional matter has been inserted. Commentators, however, are by no means agreed as to the amount of the latter. Du. omits all after Jeremiah 23:15, Co. nearly all after Jeremiah 23:24, Gi. Jeremiah 23:30-40, while the last-named also rejects Jeremiah 23:18-21. Jeremiah 23:9-17 and again 23–29 are in Ḳinah rhythm. Elsewhere metre is for the most part irregular or absent. The collection of utterances, so far as genuine, may have probably belonged to the last part of Zedekiah’s reign.

The section may be thus subdivided. (i) Jeremiah 23:9-15. Jeremiah is undone and nerveless because of the Lord’s message to a land whose profligacy has brought on it a curse. The Temple itself is polluted by the iniquities of prophets and priests. They shall be as men driven in the dark along slippery ways till they fall. The prophets of Samaria led the people astray by alleged prophecies of their false deity, while the prophets of Jerusalem shock Jehovah still more by immorality, lying, and the encouragement of others in permanent evil-doing. They have reached the infamy of the cities of the plain. They have infected all the land; therefore shall wormwood and gall be their food. (ii) Jeremiah 23:16-18. It is from the prophets’ own imaginations and not from Jehovah that their pleasing promises of immunity from evil come. Who is there who has visited His heavenly abode, there to learn His purposes? (iii) Jeremiah 23:19-20. Jehovah’s wrath shall break, like a storm, on the head of the wicked, and shall not be recalled till His purpose is fully achieved. (iv) Jeremiah 23:21-24. Those prophets were not commissioned nor inspired by the Lord; else they would have delivered His rebuke of the people’s sins. He is omnipresent. They cannot escape His observation. (v) Jeremiah 23:25-29. How long shall they adduce dreams, dreams forsooth, in support of their lying predictions, making the real character of Jehovah to be forgotten by the people, even as their fathers thought of Him as though He were no better than one of the Baals? Let the dream be told, and let Jehovah’s message be told as well; but let the utterances which embody the two be sharply distinguished, as stubble from wheat. Jehovah’s word is as fire, and as a hammer which breaketh the rocks. (vi) Jeremiah 23:30-32. He is against the prophets who steal their announcements from the true prophets, and with ready tongue claim that they are from Him, who lead His people astray with delusive dreams and claims to Divine authority. They have not His commission, and so are without value. (vii) Jeremiah 23:33-40. When asked, What is the Lord’s burden, Jeremiah will answer, It is ye, and He will rid Himself of you as such. All who use the word “burden” shall be punished. The message shall be expressed in the simplest language, and your use of the word “burden” shall recoil upon yourselves. If ye nevertheless persist in its use, ye shall be banished for ever in disgrace from this ancestral city and from Jehovah’s presence.

Verses 9-40. - These verses form a complete prophecy, the title of which Jeremiah himself supplies in the words, "Concerning the (false) prophets" (see below); comp. Jeremiah 46:2; Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 49:1, 7, 23, 28. It is true the rendering of the Authorized Version (ver. 9), Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets, is not purely arbitrary; it is favored by the exegetical tradition represented by the Hebrew accents. But it is not probable that two entirely different causes should be given for the prophet's deep emotion (see the latter part of the verse). Besides, "breaking of the heart" is nowhere a sign of anger (as Authorized Version would suggest), but either of grief (see on Jeremiah 8:20, or, as the context implies here, physical disturbance at the solemn message of Jehovah (comp. Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 20:9). All my bones shake. It is a very uncommon verb, occurring only twice elsewhere (Genesis 1:2; Deuteronomy 32:11, in Piel). The words of his holiness; co, his words of holiness; i.e. his holy words, the words of the Holy One on the unholy doings of the false prophets. Jeremiah 23:9Against the False Prophets. - Next to the kings, the pseudo-prophets, who flattered the people's carnal longings, have done most to contribute to the fall of the realm. Therefore Jeremiah passes directly from his discourse against the wicked kings to rebuking the false prophets; and if we may presume from the main substance, the latter discourse belongs to the same time as the former. It begins

Jeremiah 23:9-11

With a description of the pernicious practices of these persons. - Jeremiah 23:9. "Concerning the prophets. Broken is mine heart within me; all my bones totter. I am become like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of Jahveh and because of His holy words. Jeremiah 23:10. For of adulterers the land is full, for because of the curse the land withereth, the pastures of the wilderness dry up; and their course is become evil, and their strength not right. Jeremiah 23:11. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in mine house found I their wickedness, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:12. Therefore their way shall be to them as slippery places in darkness, they shall be thrown down and fall therein; for I bring evil upon them, the year of their visitation, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:13. In the prophets of Samaria saw I folly; they prophesied in the name of Baal, and led my people Israel astray. Jeremiah 23:14. But in the prophets of Jerusalem saw I an horrible thing, committing adultery and walking in falsehood, and they strengthen the hands of the wicked, that none returneth from his wickedness. They are all become to me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Jeremiah 23:15. Therefore thus saith Jahveh of hosts concerning the prophets: Behold, I feed them with wormwood, and give them to drink water of bitterness; for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth over all the land."

"Concerning the prophets" is the heading, as in Jeremiah 46:2; Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 49:1, Jeremiah 49:7, Jeremiah 49:23, Jeremiah 49:28; and corresponds to the woe uttered against the wicked shepherds, Jeremiah 23:1. It refers to the entire portion vv. 9-40, which is thus distinguished from the oracles concerning the kings, Jeremiah 21:1-14 and 22. It might indeed be joined, according to the accents, with what follows: because of the prophets is my heart broken; but as the cause of Jeremiah's deep agitation is given at the end of the second half-verse: because of Jahveh, etc., it is not likely the seer would in one sentence have given two different and quite separate reasons. The brokenness of his heart denotes the profoundest inward emotion yet not despondency by reason of sin and misery, like "a broken heart" in Psalm 34:19; Psalm 51:19, etc., but because of God's wrath at the impious lives of the pseudo-prophets. This has overcome him, and this he must publish. This wrath had broken his heart and seized on all his bones, so that they nervelessly tremble, and he resembles a drunken man who can no longer stand firm on his feet. He feels himself inwardly quite downcast; he not only feels the horrors of the judgment that is to befall the false prophets and corrupt priests who lead the people astray, but knows well the dreadful sufferings the people too will have to endure. The verb רחף occurs only twice in the Piel besides in the present passage; in Genesis 1:2, of the Spirit of God that in the beginning of creation brooded over the waters of the earth, and Deuteronomy 32:11, of the eagle that flutters over her young - in Arabic rchf, to be soft. The root meaning of the word is doubtless: to be flaccid; here accordingly, to totter, to sway to and fro. "Because of Jahveh" is more fully explained by "because of the words of His holiness," i.e., the words which God as holy has made known to him regarding the unholy ongoings of the pseudo-prophets. - From Jeremiah 23:10 onwards come the sayings of God which have so terribly agitated the prophet. The land is full of adulterers. Adultery in the literal sense is mentioned by way of example, as a reckless transgression of God's commands, then much in vogue, whereby the moral foundations of the kingdom were broken up. In Jeremiah 23:14 the prophets are said to commit adultery and walk in lying, cf. Jeremiah 29:23 and Jeremiah 5:7. By reason of this vice a curse lies on the land, under which it is withering away. The clause "for because of the curse," etc., is not to be taken as parenthesis (Ng.), but as co-ordinate with the previous clause, giving the second, or rather the chief ground, why Jeremiah is so deeply distressed. The reason of this is not so much the prevailing moral corruption, as the curse lying on the land because of the moral corruption of its inhabitants. אלה is not perjury (Chald., Rashi, Kimchi), but the curse wherewith God punishes the transgression of His covenant laws, cf. Jeremiah 11:3, Jeremiah 11:8, Deuteronomy 28:15., Jeremiah 29:19. The words are modelled after Isaiah 24:4.; and הארץ is not the population, but the land itself, which suffers under God's curse, and which is visited with drought; cf. Jeremiah 12:4. The next words point to drought. נאות מדבּר as in Jeremiah 9:9. By ותּהי the further description of the people's depravity is attached to the first clause of the verse. Their course is become evil; their running or racing, i.e., the aim and endeavour of the ungodly. The suffix on this word מרוּצתם refers not to "adulterers," but ad sensum to the inhabitants of the land. Their strength is not-right, i.e., they are strong, valiant in wrong; cf. Jeremiah 9:2. For - so goes Jeremiah 23:11 - both prophets and priests, who should lead the people in the right way, are profane, and desecrate by their wickedness even the house of God, presumably by idolatry; cf. Jeremiah 32:34. There is no reason for thinking here, as Hitz. does, of adultery practised in the temple.

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