As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister to me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Jeremiah 33:22. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, &c. — The former promise respected the stability, this the enlargement of the church, the members of which are here termed the seed of David, as they are elsewhere often called the seed of Abraham, being the imitators of the faith of Abraham and David. Or they may be termed the seed of David, because they are the seed of Christ, who is sometimes called David in the writings of the prophets, (see Jeremiah 30:9,) and whose seed and whose Levites are multiplied in the multiplying of Christians and of faithful ministers under the gospel, which are the blessings here promised.
seed of David, that is, the members of Christ: the Jews were ordinarily called the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but I do not remember they are any where called the seed of David, unless it be 1 Kings 11:39, where it seems also to be understood only of the princes that came from David; nor indeed could they be so called in any proper sense; David being no common head to the whole Jewish nation, as both Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were; but Christ is often called the seed of David, John 7:42 Acts 13:23 Romans 1:3 2 Timothy 2:8; and Christ is himself called David, whose seed and whose
Levites are multiplied in the multiplying of Christians and of faithful ministers under the gospel, which certainly are the things here promised.
so will I multiply the seed of David my servant; the Messiah; the son and antitype of David; and who is often called by his name; and as the son of David is the servant of the Lord, his spiritual seed are meant, which shall endure for ever; and in Gospel times, especially in the latter part of them, shall be very numerous; see Psalm 89:29;
and the Levites that minister unto me; meaning the same as before; not ministers of the Gospel, for they never were, or will be, so numerous as here expressed; but true believers in Christ, who are all priests unto God, and minister in holy things, offering up the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise through Christ: these Levites are the same with the seed of David, or Christ, in whom the kingdom and the priesthood are united.As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Jeremiah 33:14. "Behold, days are coming, saith Jahveh, when I will perform the good word which I have spoken to the house of Israel, and concerning the house of Judah. Jeremiah 33:15. In those days and at that time will I cause to sprout unto David a sprout of righteousness, and he shall do judgment and righteousness in the land. Jeremiah 33:16. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is how she shall be called, 'Jahveh our righteousness.' Jeremiah 33:17. For thus saith Jahveh: David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel. Jeremiah 33:18. Nor shall the Levitical priests want a man before me to offer a burnt-offering, to burn a meat-offering, or to perform sacrifice every day.
Jeremiah 33:19. "And the word of Jahveh came unto Jeremiah, saying: Jeremiah 33:20. Thus saith Jahveh, If ye shall be able to break my covenant (with) the day and my covenant (with) the night, so that there shall not be day and night in their proper time, Jeremiah 33:21. Then also shall my covenant with David my servant be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign upon his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, my ministers. Jeremiah 33:22. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites who serve me.
Jeremiah 33:23. "And the word of Jahveh came to Jeremiah, saying: Jeremiah 33:24. Hast thou not seen what this people have spoken, saying, 'The two families which the Lord hath chosen, these He hath rejected?' and my people they have despised, so that they are no longer a nation before them. Jeremiah 33:25. Thus saith Jahveh: If my covenant with day and night doth not exist, if I have not appointed the laws of heaven and earth, Jeremiah 33:26. Then also will I reject the seed of Jacob and David my servant, so as not to take any of his seed as rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will turn their captivity, and take pity on them."
Jeremiah 33:14-18 contain the promise of the restoration of the monarchy and the priesthood. Jeremiah 33:19-26 further present two special messages from God, in the form of supplements, which guarantee the eternal continuance of these institutions.
(Note: The portion contained within Jeremiah 33:14-26 is wanting in the lxx; for this reason, and chiefly because of the promise of the eternal duration, not merely of the royal house of David, but also of the Levitical priests, and their innumerable increase, J. D. Michaelis and Jahn have considered it spurious. To these must be added Movers, who takes Jeremiah 33:18, Jeremiah 33:21-25 as later interpolations, and Hitzig, who treats the whole passage as a series of separate additions made in a later age. On the other side, Kueper, Wichelhaus, and Hengstenberg (Christology, vol. ii. pp. 459-461 of Clark's Translation) have shown the utter worthlessness of these reasons, and Graf also has defended the genuineness of the passage. So too has Ewald, who says (Propheten, ii. 269), "Nothing can be so preposterous and unreasonable as to find in this passage, Jeremiah 33:19-26, or in Jeremiah 30-33 generally, additions by a later prophet.")
The promise in Jeremiah 33:14-16 has already been given in substance in Jeremiah 23:5-6, and in our verses it is only formally extended, and thereby made more prominent. In Jeremiah 33:14 it is designated as the establishment, i.e., the realization, of the good word which the Lord has spoken concerning Israel and Judah. "The good word" is, according to Deuteronomy 28:1-14, the blessing which the Lord has promised to His people if they obey His commands; cf. 1 Kings 8:56. Here also must "the good word" be taken in the same general meaning; for our verse forms the transition from the promise of the restoration and blessing of Israel in the future (Jeremiah 33:6-13) to the special promise of the renewal and completion of the Davidic monarchy (Jeremiah 33:15.). In Jeremiah 29:10, on the contrary, "the good word" is specially referred, by the following infinitival clause, to the deliverance of the people from Babylon. But it is unlikely that "the good word" refers to the "sprout" of David, which is expressly promised in Jeremiah 23:5., and repeated here, Jeremiah 33:15.; for here a like promise to the Levites follows, while there is none in Jeremiah 23, and it is here so closely linked with the promise regarding David, that it must be viewed as a portion of the "good word." In the change from אל to על in Jeremiah 33:14, we must not, with Hengstenberg, seek a real difference; for in Jeremiah these prepositions often interchange without any difference of meaning, as in Jeremiah 11:2; Jeremiah 18:11; Jeremiah 23:35, etc. The blessing promised to the people in the "good word" culminates in the promise, Jeremiah 33:15., that the Lord will cause a righteous sprout to spring up for David. On the meaning of this promise, see the remarks on Jeremiah 23:5-6. The difference made in the repetition of that promise is really unimportant. אצמיח instead of הקמתי does not change the sense. הצמיח, to cause to sprout of grow, corresponds to the figure of the צמח, under which the Messiah is represented in both passages. צמח צדקה is only a more sonorous expression for צמח צדּיק. The words "He shall rule as king and deal wisely," which in Jeremiah 23:5 bring into prominence the contrast between the kingdom of the Messiah and that of the godless shepherd of the people, were unnecessary for the connection of our passage. Besides, in Jeremiah 23:6 Israel is named together with Judah, instead of which, we have here, in Jeremiah 33:16, Jerusalem; accordingly, the name "Jahveh Tsidkenu" is referred to Jerusalem, while in Jeremiah 23:6 it is predicated of the sprout of David. The mention of Jerusalem instead of Israel is connected with the general scope of our prophecy, viz., to comfort the covenant people over the destruction of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 33:4.). But that, through the mention simply of Judah and its capital, the ten tribes are not to be excluded from participation in the coming prosperity, may be seen even from Jeremiah 33:14, where "the good word" is referred to Israel and Judah, and still more plainly from Jeremiah 33:24, Jeremiah 33:26, where this promise is made sure to the whole seed of Israel. The transference of the name Jahveh Tsidkenu from the sprout of David to the city of Jerusalem is connected with the fact, that the name only expresses what the Messiah will bring to the people (see Jeremiah 23:6); the righteousness which He works in and on Jerusalem may, without changing the substance of the thought, be attributed to Jerusalem itself, inasmuch as Jerusalem reflects the righteousness which is bestowed on her by the Messiah.
This promise is, Jeremiah 33:17, further confirmed by the renewal of that which the Lord had given King David, through Nathan the prophet, 2 Samuel 7:12-16, and that, too, in the form in which David himself had expressed it in his address to Solomon, shortly before his death, 1 Kings 2:4, and in which Solomon had repeated it, 1 Kings 8:25 and 1 Kings 9:5. The formula לא יכּרת וגו, "there never will be cut off from David one sitting," etc., has the meaning, David will never want a descendant to occupy his throne; or, the posterity of David will possess the kingdom for ever. A temporary loss of the throne is not thereby excluded, but only such a permanent loss as would be caused by the family of David becoming extinct, or by the kingdom in Israel either passing over to some other family, or in some way or other coming to an end; see on 1 Kings 2:4. - The very same promise is given to the Levitical priests, i.e., the priests of the tribe or family of Levi (כּהנים as in Deuteronomy 17:9, Deuteronomy 17:18; Deuteronomy 18:1, etc.). They shall never want one to bring and prepare an offering before the Lord. Burnt-offering, meat-offering, and sin-offering are the three species of sacrifice which were to be brought, according to the law, as in Jeremiah 17:26. By means of the apposition "the Levites," the priests are designated as the legitimate priesthood, established as such in virtue of God's choice of the tribe of Levi, in contrast with priests such as Jeroboam appointed, out of the common people, for the worship set up by him. Not only shall Israel have priests, but priests out of the tribe of Levi, which was chosen by God for the sacerdotal office, as the medium of communicating His gracious gifts. The designation of the priests as "the Levites" corresponds, accordingly, to the kings of the family of David. Such a view explains this addition to our passage, to which critics such as Hitzig have taken objection. The Davidic kingdom and the Levitical priesthood were the two pillars and bases of the Old Testament theocracy, on which its existence and continuance depended. The priesthood formed the medium of approach for the people into divine favour. The kingdom assured them of the divine guidance.
(Note: Continebatur autem salus populi duabus istis partibus. Nam, sine rege, erant veluti corpus truncum aut mutilum; sine sacerdote mera erat dissipatio. Nam sacerdos erat quasi medius inter Deum et populum, rex autem representabat Dei personam. - Calvin.)
Both of these pillars were broken with the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple; the theocracy the appeared to have ceased to exist. At this time, when the kingdom, with its ordinances of justice and of grace, bestowed by God, was being dissolved, the Lord, in order to keep His people from despair, declares that these two institutions, in accordance with His promise, shall not fall to the ground, but shall stand for ever. By this, God's own people received a pledge for the re-establishment and renovation of the kingdom of God. Such is the object of this promise. - As to the kind and mode of reinstitution of both of these ordinances, which were abolished when the state came to ruin, the prophecy now before us gives no explanation; but in the emphatic confirmation of the prophecy which follows, we find brief indications which clearly show that the restoration spoken of will not be a reinstitution of the old form which is now perishing, but a renovation of it, in its essential features, to a permanent existence.
The confirmations of these promises, which follow them in Jeremiah 33:19-26, are each introduced by separate headings, perhaps not merely to render them more prominent, but because the Lord revealed them separately to the prophet; but it by no means follows from this that they are later additions, without any connection. Jeremiah 33:20. "If ye shall break my covenant with the day,...then also will my covenant with David...be broken." This if betokens the impossible; man cannot alter the arrangement in nature for the regular alternation of day and night. היום and הלּילה are in apposition to בּריתי, "my covenant the day - the night," for "my covenant with regard to the day and the night, which is this, that day and night shall return at their appointed times." The ו before לבלתּי is explanatory. יומם־ולילה are adverbs, "day and night," for "the regular alternation of day and night." These divine arrangements in nature are called a covenant; because God, after the flood, gave a pledge that they should uninterruptedly continue, in a covenant made with the human race; cf. Genesis 9:9 with Genesis 8:22. As this covenant of nature cannot be broken by men, so also the covenant of grace of the Lord with David and the Levites cannot be broken, i.e., annulled. The covenant with David consisted in the promise that his kingdom should endure for ever (see Jeremiah 33:17); that with the Levites, in the eternal possession of the right to the priesthood. The institution of the priesthood is certainly not represented in the law as a covenant; it consisted merely in the choice of Aaron and his sons as priests by God, Exodus 28:1. But, inasmuch as they were thereby brought into a peculiar relation to the Lord, and thus had vouchsafed to them not merely privileges and promises, but also had laid on them duties, the fulfilment of which was a condition of receiving the privileges, this relation might be called a covenant; and indeed, in Numbers 25:11., the promise given to Phinehas, that he should have the priesthood as an eternal possession, is called a covenant of peace and an eternal covenant of priesthood. This promise concerned the whole priesthood in the person of Phinehas, and the Levites also, inasmuch as the Levites were given to the priests; hence there is mention made in Malachi 2:4, Malachi 2:8, of a covenant with Levi. In this prophecy, too, mention is made of the priests alone. The general idea contained in the words "the Levites," placed first, is more clearly defined by the apposition "the priests," and restricted to the priests of the tribe of Levi.
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