Jeremiah 4:10
Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! surely you have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, You shall have peace; whereas the sword reaches to the soul.
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(10) Ah, Lord God! (literally, my Lord Jehovah!) surely thou hast greatly deceived this people.—The words are startling, but are eminently characteristic. Jeremiah had been led to utter words that told of desolation and destruction. But if these were true, what was he to think of the words of the other prophets, who, speaking in the name of the Lord, had promised peace through the reign of Josiah, and even under Jehoiakim? Had not Jehovah apparently sanctioned those prophets also? and, if so, had He not deceived the people? (Comp. Jeremiah 20:7.) This seems, on the whole, preferable to the interpretations which see in it a dramatic irony representing the prophet as having shared in the hopes of the people and awakening to a terrible disappointment, or refer the words to the contrast between the glorious visions of the future in Isaiah and his own terrible predictions, or to the bolder course of an alteration of the text, so that the words would run “it is said,” the complaint being represented as coming from the people.

Jeremiah 4:10. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! — The Hebrew word, Aha, is a word expressive both of admiration and lamentation. Surely thou hast greatly deceived this people — Hast suffered them to be deceived by their false prophets. These pretenders to prophecy studied only to speak pleasing things to the people, and sooth them up in their impenitency and carnal security; and thou hast, in thy just judgment, given them up to follow these delusions: compare 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. Saying, Ye shall have peace — The word peace here comprises all good, signifying that all things should go on prosperously with them; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul — Whereas the sword is at the door, not only to take away the comforts of life, but even life itself.4:5-18 The fierce conqueror of the neighbouring nations was to make Judah desolate. The prophet was afflicted to see the people lulled into security by false prophets. The approach of the enemy is described. Some attention was paid in Jerusalem to outward reformation; but it was necessary that their hearts should be washed, in the exercise of true repentance and faith, from the love and pollution of sin. When lesser calamities do not rouse sinners and reform nations, sentence will be given against them. The Lord's voice declares that misery is approaching, especially against wicked professors of the gospel; when it overtakes them, it will be plainly seen that the fruit of wickedness is bitter, and the end is fatal.Ah, Lord God! - Alas! my Lord Yahweh: an expression of disapproval on Jeremiah's part. Jeremiah had constantly to struggle against the misgivings of his own melancholy nature, but he never let them prevent him from doing his duty. See the introduction of Jeremiah.

Ye shall have peace - These words are generally referred to the false prophets; they rather refer to real prophecies of future blessedness promised to the Jews. Jeremiah could not reconcile the doom he was now commanded to pronounce, either with his previous prophecy, or with what he read in the writings of his predecessors. Time only could solve the difficulty. Upon the struggles of the prophets to understand their own predictions see 1 Peter 1:10-11.

Unto the soul - The sword has reached the life. i. e., has inflicted a mortal wound.

10. thou hast … deceived—God, having even the false prophets in His hands, is here said to do that which for inscrutable purposes He permits them to do (Ex 9:12; 2Th 2:11; compare Jer 8:15; which passage shows that the dupes of error were self-prepared for it, and that God's predestination did not destroy their moral freedom as voluntary agents). The false prophets foretold "peace," and the Jews believed them; God overruled this to His purposes (Jer 5:12; 14:13; Eze 14:9).

soul—rather, "reacheth to the life."

Ah, Lord God: the Hebrew aha is a word both of admiration and lamentation together; they are Jeremiah’s words and complaint breathed out in the great sorrow and. sighing of soul, which he expresseth more emphatically Jeremiah 23:9.

Surely thou hast greatly deceived this people; either hast suffered them to be thus deluded by these false prophets, Isaiah 63:17 Ezekiel 14:9; compare 1 Kings 22:21-23 2 Thessalonians 2:11; or possibly it may be read better by way of interrogation: q.d. How can it possibly be that thou shouldst suffer thy people to be thus deluded by their false prophets, Numbers 23:19, thou being a God that canst not lie? Titus 1:2.

Ye shall have peace: under the word peace is comprised and intended all good, intimating all things should go on prosperously with them. Genesis 37:14; and seems the rather to be thus expressed, because it was the common language and phrase of the false prophets, Jeremiah 8:11 23:17.

Whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul: to persuade them it should be well with them, when the sword is at the door, not only ready to take away the comforts of life, but even life itself, soul being put for life, Jeremiah 4:30 Psalm 69:1 Matthew 16:25,26. It may intimate also a great cutting off and slaughter among them, especially their great ones; they being, as it were, the soul of the people. Then said I, ah, Lord God!.... Expressing great sorrow and concern: this "ah" is by way of lamentation. The Targum interprets it as a petition,

"and I said, receive my prayer, O Lord God:''

surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem: what the false prophets did, that God is said to do, because he suffered them to deceive the people; see 1 Kings 22:20. The Targum ascribes the deception to the false prophets, and not to God,

"surely behold the false prophets deceive this people, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem;''

or this may be ironically said, because the false prophets pretended to speak in the name of the Lord; wherefore Jeremiah says, "surely thou hast greatly deceived", &c. "saying, ye shall have peace"; as the false prophets did, Jeremiah 6:14,

whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul; takes away the life, many are slain by it; so the Targum,

"and now behold the sword killeth among the people;''

great slaughter is made by it. L'Empereur (w) observes that the word here used signifies, in the Arabic language, to educate or bring up; and then the sense is,

"ah, Lord, thou hast brought up this people with great tenderness, and promised them all manner of happiness; but now thou thunderest out threatenings of calamities of all sorts, and death itself; and assigned a place for the sword to enter into their very souls;''

so the Arabic word used in the version of Acts 22:2.

(w) Not. ad Mosis Kimchi, p. 186.

Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly {h} deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; though the sword reacheth to the soul.

(h) By the false prophets who promised peace and tranquillity: and thus you have punished their rebellious stubbornness by causing them to hearken to lies who would not believe your truth, 1Ki 22:23, Eze 14:9, 2Th 2:11.

10. Then said I] We should doubtless, by a slight change, read, And they shall say. The false prophets, who had foretold peace (Jeremiah 6:14, Jeremiah 14:13, Jeremiah 23:17), shall in their dismay charge God with deception. Doubtless an argument in the mouths of those prophets and their supporters had hitherto been, “Isaiah assured us (Isaiah 37:33 ff.), when the City and Temple were in danger, that Jehovah would protect His own dwelling place. His words were justified by the event. May we not have the same assurance now?”Verse 10. - Ah, Lord God! rather, Alas! O Lord Jehovah (see on Jeremiah 1:6). Thou hast greatly deceived this people, etc. Much difficulty has been felt in interpreting this verse, partly because it seems directly to charge Jehovah with "deceit," and partly because the prophecy, Ye shall have peace, on which this charge is founded, accords exactly with the strain of the "false prophets" (see Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 14:13; Jeremiah 23:17). Hence some (e.g., Ewald) have altered the points of the verb at the beginning of the verse., so as to enable them to render. "And one shall say," the subject understood being either a "false prophet" or one of the people. This view is not in itself impossible (Keil's objection will not bear examination), but is not absolutely necessary, for the present is not the only passage in which Jeremiah, under the influence of strong emotion, charges Jehovah with "deceit" (see Jeremiah 20:7, a synonymous word is used; and comp. 1 Kings 22:23), and the words, "Ye shall have peace, may be meant to summarize the cheering promises in Jeremiah 3:14-18. Jeremiah may (it is not incorrect to conjecture) have supposed the fulfillment of his prophecy to be nearer than it really was (comp. 1 Peter 1:11); hence his disappointment, and hence his strong language. So St. Jerome, "Quia supra dixerat, In illo tempore vocabunt Jerusalem solium Dei, etc.. et nunc dicit, Peribit cor regis, turbatur propheta et in se Deum putat esse meutitum; nec intelligit, illud multa post tempera repromissum, hoc autem vicino futurum tempore." To suppose, with Keil, that Jeremiah refers the prophecies of the "false prophets" to God as their ultimate Author, seems inconsistent with Jeremiah's own statements in Jeremiah 14:14 (comp. Jeremiah 5:13). Moreover, we have parallels elsewhere in the prophets, as well as in the Book of Job, for the use of language with regard to Providence which a calmer judgment would condemn. A notable instance is Isaiah 63:17, where the Jewish Church, through its mouthpiece the prophet, throws the responsibility of its errors upon Jehovah. Depressed by melancholy, they give way for the moment to those human "thoughts" which are not as "My thoughts." They felt the "burden of the mystery." Unto the soul; i.e. unto the life. Threatening of Judgment upon Jerusalem and Judah. - If Judah and Jerusalem do not reform, the wrath of God will be inevitably kindled against them (Jeremiah 4:3, Jeremiah 4:4). Already the prophet sees in spirit the judgment bursting in upon Judah from the north, to the dismay of all who were accounting themselves secure (Jeremiah 4:5-10). Like a hot tempest-blast it rushes on, because of the wickedness of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 4:11-18), bringing desolation and ruin on the besotted people, devastating the whole land, and not to be turned aside by any meretricious devices (Jeremiah 4:19-31).

Jeremiah 4:3-4

"For thus hath Jahveh spoken to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: Break up for yourselves new ground, and sow not among thorns. Jeremiah 4:4. Circumcise yourselves to Jahveh, and take away the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest my fury break forth like fire and burn unquenchably, because of the evil of your doings." The exhortation to a reformation of life is attached by כּי, as being the ground of it, to the preceding exhortation to return. The אם תּשׁוּב, Jeremiah 4:1, contained the indirect call to repent. In Jeremiah 4:1 this was addressed to Israel. In Jeremiah 4:3 the call comes to Judah, which the prophet had already in his eye in Jeremiah 3; cf. Jeremiah 3:7-8, Jeremiah 3:10-11. The transition from Israel to Judah in the phrase: for thus saith Jahveh, is explained by the introduction of a connecting thought, which can without difficulty be supplied from the last clause of Jeremiah 4:2; the promise that the nations bless themselves in Jahveh will come to be fulfilled. The thought to be supplied is: this conversion is indispensable for Judah also, for Judah too must begin a new life. Without conversion there is no salvation. The evil of their doings brings nought but heavy judgments with it. אישׁ, as often, in collective sense, since the plural of this word was little in use, see in Joshua 9:6. ניר לו ניר, as in Hosea 10:12, plough up new land, to bring new untilled soil under cultivation - a figure for the reformation of life; as much as to say, to prepare new ground for living on, to begin a new life. Sow not among thorns. The seed-corns are the good resolutions which, when they have sunk into the soil of the mind, should spring up into deeds (Hitz.). The thorns which choke the good seed as it grows (Matthew 13:7) are not mala vestra studia (Ros.), but the evil inclinations of the unrenewed heart, which thrive luxuriantly like thorns. "Circumcise you to the Lord" is explained by the next clause: remove the foreskins of your heart. The stress lies in ליהוה; in this is implied that the circumcision should not be in the flesh merely. In the flesh all Jews were circumcised. If they then are called to circumcise themselves to the Lord, this must be meant spiritually, of the putting away of the spiritual impurity of the heart, i.e., of all that hinders the sanctifying of the heart; see in Deuteronomy 10:16. The plur. ערלות is explained by the figurative use of the word, and the reading ערלת, presented by some codd., is a correction from Deuteronomy 10:16. The foreskins are the evil lusts and longings of the heart. Lest my fury break forth like fire; cf. Jeremiah 7:20; Amos 5:6; Psalm 89:47. 'מפּני רע מ as in Deuteronomy 28:20. This judgment of wrath the prophet already in spirit sees breaking on Judah.

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