Jeremiah 3:23
Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) Truly in vain . . .—The italics show the difficulty of the verse, and represent an attempt to get over it. According to the senses given to the word translated “multitude” we get, in vain (literally, as a lie) from the hills is the revelry (as in Amos 5:23), or the wealth, or the multitude, of the mountains. The first gives the best meaning, and expresses the confession of the repentant Israelites that their wild ritual on the high places had brought them loss and not gain.

Jeremiah 3:23. Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills — From idols worshipped on hills and mountains. It is a continuation of that form of confession begun Jeremiah 3:22, drawn up with a reference to the present state of the idolatrous Israelites; wherein they express their abhorrence of those idols which they worshipped upon the hills and mountains, and declare their firm resolution of adhering to, and depending upon, the Lord their God. There being nothing in the original of this clause for salvation is hoped for, it has been differently interpreted by learned men. The LXX. render it, οντως εις ψευδος ησαν οι βουνοι, και η δυναμις των ορεων, Truly the hills and the power of the mountains were for a lie. And the Vulgate nearly to the same sense, Vere mendaces erant colles, et multitudo montium, Truly the hills were liars, and the multitude of mountains; that is, they were deceitful: they promised what they did not perform. To the same purpose the Syriac. Blaney renders the verse,

“Surely the hills are lies; the tumult of mountains: surely in Jehovah our God is the salvation of Israel.” “The people,” he observes, “acknowledge that the hills, the places sacred to idolatrous worship, and the tumultuous rites with which that worship was accompanied, (see 1 Kings 18:26; 1 Kings 18:28,) were mere impostures, deceiving and disappointing those that trusted in them; whereas Jehovah was indeed the author of salvation to his people.”

3:21-25 Sin is turning aside to crooked ways. And forgetting the Lord our God is at the bottom of all sin. By sin we bring ourselves into trouble. The promise to those that return is, God will heal their backslidings, by his pardoning mercy, his quieting peace, and his renewing grace. They come devoting themselves to God. They come disclaiming all expectations of relief and succour from any but the Lord. Therefore they come depending upon him only. He is the Lord, and he only can save. It points out the great salvation from sin Jesus Christ wrought out for us. They come justifying God in their troubles, and judging themselves for their sins. True penitents learn to call sin shame, even the sin they have been most pleased with. True penitents learn to call sin death and ruin, and to charge upon it all they suffer. While men harden themselves in sin, contempt and misery are their portion: for he that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but he that confesseth and forsaketh them, shall find mercy.Rather, Surely "in vain from the hills" is the revelry of the mountains. The penitents contrast in it the uselessness of idol-worship with the salvation which Yahweh gives to His people. 23. multitude of mountains—that is, the multitude of gods worshipped on them (compare Ps 121:1, 2, Margin). From the hills, i.e. either from their idols, which were worshipped upon hills, a metonymy of the subject, Jeremiah 2:20, idols of the hills; or from any other external power whatsoever, either of persons or things, as the strength of hills, or forts, high places, and strong places, and assistance from kings, Hosea 14:3.

The multitude of mountains, viz, the abundance of them that they have in their mountains, or the multitude of sacrifices which they offer in the mountains, or to multiply sacrifices.

Quest. But doth not the psalmist hope for salvation from the hills? Psalm 121:1.

Answ. Yes, the hills of the Land of Promise, which were a pledge of God’s favour to his people, especially those two of Zion and Moriah, where God did peculiarly manifest his presence, Psalm 87.

In the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel; or, our salvation which we do now acknowledge is only in our God, and not in idols, of which we have had ample experience, Psalm 44:7 130:7,8. See Isaiah 43:10,11 Ho 13:4,9.

Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains,.... From any natural defence, by hills and mountains encompassing; or from idols worshipped on hills and mountains. So the Targum,

"truly in vain we worship upon the hills, and for no profit are we gathered upon the mountains;''

and to this purpose Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it; or from the multitude of the people, the kingdoms of the world, and the nations of the earth, from whom the Jews have in vain expected salvation and deliverance:

truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel; or, "in the Word of the Lord our God", as the Targum; in Christ, the essential Word of God, is the salvation of all the chosen people, both Jews and Gentiles; it was put into his hands by his Father, and it is wrought out by him; and it resides in him, and it is to be had in him, and in him only, Acts 4:12, who is God the Lord, and therefore was able to effect it, and to give it; and hence these repenting ones, discarding all other saviours, apply to him for it.

Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. Truly in vain is the help that is looked for from the hills, the tumult on the mountains] The Hebrew construction is difficult. MT. reads, Truly in vain from the hills the tumult the mountains. Probably a word such as sound should be restored in the first clause, while the change of a Hebrew vowel point enables us to insert on in the second. So Dr. The tumult (mg. noisy throng) denotes the orgies that attended on idol worship. Cp. Hosea 4:13.

Verse 23. - Truly in vain, etc. An obscure and (if corruption exists anywhere) corrupt passage, which, however, it is hopeless to attempt to emend, as the corruption consists partly in wrong letters, partly in omitted letters or words (or both); and, moreover, the text employed by the Septuagint appears to have presented the same difficulty. The latter point is especially noteworthy. It is far from proving that the traditional text is correct; what it does suggest is that the writings of the prophets were at first written down in a very insecure manner. The rendering of the Authorized Version is substantially that of Hitzig, who explains "the multitude of [the] mountains," as meaning "the multitude of gods worshipped on the mountains" -too forced an expression for so simple a context. It seems most natural to suppose (with Ewald, Graf, and Keil), a contrast between the wild, noisy cultus of idolatrous religions, and the quiet spiritual worship inculcated by the prophets. Compare by way of illustration, the loud and ostentatious demonstrations of Baal's ritual in 1 Kings 18, with the sober, serious attitude of Elijah in the same chapter. The word rendered in the Authorized Version "multitude" has a still more obvious and original meaning, viz. "tumult;" and probably the Targum is not far from the true sense in rendering, "In vain have we worshipped upon the hills and not for profit have we raised a tumult on the mountains." Jeremiah 3:23From the false gods they have gained but disgrace; the salvation of Israel is found only in Jahveh their God. The thought now given is clearly expressed in the second clause of the verse; less clear is the meaning of the first clause, which tells what Israel had got from idolatry. The difficulty lies in המון הרים, which the early commentators so joined together as to make המון stat. constr. (המון). Similarly Hitz. and Graf: from the hills the host (or tumult) of the mountains is (for) a delusion; Hitz. understanding by the host of the mountains the many gods, or the numerous statues of them that were erected at the spots where they were worshipped, while Graf takes the tumult of the mountains to mean the turmoil of the pilgrims, the exulting cries of the celebrants. But it is as impossible that "the sound of the hills" should mean the multitude of the gods, as that it should mean the tumult of the pilgrims upon the mountains. Besides, the expression, "the host or tumult of the mountains comes from the hills," would be singularly tautological. These reasons are enough to show that הרים cannot be a genitive dependent on המון, but must be taken as coordinate with מגּבעות, so that the preposition מן will have to be repeated before הרים. But המון must be the subject of the clause, else where would be no subject at all. המון means bustle, eager crowd, tumult, noise, and is also used of the surging mass of earthly possessions or riches, Psalm 37:16; Isaiah 60:5. Schnur., Ros., Maur., de W., have preferred the last meaning, and have put the sense thus: vana est ex collibus, vana ex montibus affluentia, or: delusive is the abundance that comes from the hills, from the mountains. This view is not to be overthrown by Graf's objection, that we cannot here entertain the idea of abundance, however, imaginary, acquired by the Israelites through idolatry, seeing that in the next verses it is declared that the false gods have devoured the wealth which the Israelites had inherited and received from God. For in the present connection the abundance would be not a real but expected or imagined abundance, the delusiveness of which would be shown in the next verse by the statement that the false gods had devoured the acquisitions of Israel. But to take המון in the sense of affluentia seems questionable here, when the context makes no reference to wealth or earthly riches, and where the abundance of the hills and mountains cannot be understood to mean their produce; the abundance is that which the idolatry practised upon the hills and mountains brought or was expected to bring to the people. Hence, along with Ew., we take this word in the sig. tumult or noise, and by it we understand the wild uproarious orgies of idolatry, which, according to Jeremiah 3:2 and Jeremiah 3:6, were practised on the hills and mountains (קל זנוּתהּ, Jeremiah 3:9). Thus we obtain the sense already given by the Targ.: in vanum coluimus super collibus et non in utilitatem congregavimus nos (אתרגישׁנא ( son , prop. tumultuati sumus) super montibus, i.e., delusive and profitless were our idolatrous observances upon the heights.
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