Jeremiah 34:15
And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name:
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(15) Ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name.—The words point to the solemnity with which the new engagements had been contracted. It was not merely that the king had issued an edict, or that judges had given their decisions in accordance with the old law, but princes and people had met together in the courts of the Temple, and there, in the presence of Jehovah, had entered into this covenant, as did their descendants afterwards in the days of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 5:12-13), with Him and with each other. Their sin in breaking their covenant was therefore a sin against Him as well as against their brethren.

Jeremiah 34:15-17. And ye were now turned — That is, reformed in this particular; and had done right in my sight — In proclaiming liberty to your servants. And ye had made a covenant before me — Had entered into solemn engagements in my presence and temple to that purpose. This was probably such a covenant as Josiah and all the people had made formerly, (2 Kings 23:2-3,) whereby they obliged themselves to serve God, and obey his laws in general, and this concerning giving freedom to their servants in particular. But ye turned — Declined from these good beginnings; and polluted my name — That is, profaned it, in swearing, or solemnly promising in and by it, to do that which you have not done. Certainly, whoever uses the name of God, by way of sanction to his promises, that the greater confidence may be placed in them, and afterward does not perform them, profanes or pollutes the name of God. Therefore, behold I proclaim liberty for you to the sword, &c. — I now declare that I give free commission and liberty to my sore judgments, the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, to invade and destroy multitudes of you. See Jeremiah 32:24; Jeremiah 32:36. The expressions here used import, that these calamities come upon men by direction and commission from God, as the executioners of his justice. And to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth — Those of you who escape destruction shall be dispersed through different nations, where you shall learn by experience how great are the hardships and miseries attendant on a state of servitude. See note on Jeremiah 24:9.

34:8-22 A Jew should not be held in servitude above seven years. This law they and their fathers had broken. And when there was some hope that the siege was raised, they forced the servants they had released into their services again. Those who think to cheat God by dissembled repentance and partial reformation, put the greatest cheat upon their own souls. This shows that liberty to sin, is really only liberty to have the sorest judgments. It is just with God to disappoint expectations of mercy, when we disappoint the expectations of duty. And when reformation springs only from terror, it is seldom lasting. Solemn vows thus entered into, profane the ordinances of God; and the most forward to bind themselves by appeals to God, are commonly most ready to break them. Let us look to our hearts, that our repentance may be real, and take care that the law of God regulates our conduct.The house of bondmen - The miserable prison in which, after being worked in the fields all day in gangs, the slaves were shut up at night.15. in the house … called by my name—the usual place of making such covenants (2Ki 23:3; compare 1Ki 8:31; Ne 10:29). Ye were now turned; that is, reformed in this particular, in which you had done the thing which I commanded you,

proclaiming a liberty to your servants. And you

made a covenant in my presence to that purpose, and that in the temple, where it seemeth this covenant was made.

And ye were now turned,.... Or, "today indeed ye were turned" (r) some little time ago, indeed, it must be owned, that ye turned from the evil ways of your fathers, for which you were to be commended, as having acted a better part than they:

and had done right in my sight; what was acceptable to the Lord, approved of by him, being agreeably to his law; and it would have been well if they had continued so doing:

in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; for a manservant, or maidservant, was his neighbour, and to be treated as such, and loved as himself, especially a Hebrew one, of the same nation and religion; and not to be used as a slave, or retained for ever in bondage:

and ye made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name; this circumstance is mentioned as an aggravation of the breach of the covenant they had made, to dismiss their servants according to law; it was made in a very solemn manner, in the presence of God, appealing to him as a witness; it was done in the temple, a sacred place, devoted to him and his worship; which was called by his name, the temple of the Lord, and where his name was called upon, and where were the symbols of his presence.

(r) "jam, vel et quidem conversi fuistis hodie", Schmidt; "reversi quidem vos hodie", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And ye had now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in {f} the house which is called by my name:

(f) Meaning in the temple to declare that it was a most solemn and straight covenant made in the name of the Lord.

Verse 15. - Ye were now turned; or, ye returned (the primary meaning is simply "to turn;" hence

(1) to turn away, as in ver. 16;

(2) to return, as here; comp. (Jeremiah 8:4). Jeremiah 34:15In Jeremiah 34:13-16 the Lord sets before the people and their rulers their new offence; in Jeremiah 34:17-22 He announces to them the punishment for this new deed by which the covenant is broken. In order to place the transgression in its proper light, He mentions, first of all, that, when He led Israel out of Egypt, He concluded with them a covenant to the effect that every one of them should set free his Hebrew servant at the end of seven years; He also mentions that their fathers had transgressed this covenant (Jeremiah 34:13, Jeremiah 34:14). The designation of Egypt as a house of bondmen, as in Exodus 13:3, Exodus 13:14; Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 6:12, etc., possesses a special emphasis, and points to what is mentioned in Deuteronomy 15:15 as the motive for obeying the law referred to in the address. Because Israel was a servant in Egypt, and the Lord has redeemed him out of this house of bondmen, therefore must they not treat as slaves their brethren who had fallen into poverty, but set them free after six years of service. The expression "at the end (after the lapse) of seven years" is to be understood in the same way as the expression "after eight days." As this just means "when seven days are completed," so also, according to the law, Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12, the emancipation was to follow in the seventh year, after six full years of service. "Who sold himself to thee" is an expression copied from Deuteronomy 15:12. - From this sin of their fathers they had now for a little turned away, and, in a solemn covenant, resolved to free the bondmen, as the law decreed (Jeremiah 34:15); but they have immediately profaned the name of the Lord again by revoking this decree, viz., by breaking the covenant made before God. לנפשׁם, "according to their pleasure," like eלנפשׁהּ, Deuteronomy 21:14.
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