Jeremiah 44:17
But we will certainly do whatever thing goes forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
44:15-19 These daring sinners do not attempt excuses, but declare they will do that which is forbidden. Those who disobey God, commonly grow worse and worse, and the heart is more hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Here is the real language of the rebellious heart. Even the afflictions which should have parted them from their sins, were taken so as to confirm them in their sins. It is sad when those who should quicken each other to what is good, and so help one another to heaven, harden each other in sin, and so ripen one another for hell. To mingle idolatry with Divine worship, and to reject the mediation of Christ, are provoking to God, and ruinous to men. All who worship images, or honour saints, and angels, and the queen of heaven, should recollect what came from the idolatrous practices of the Jews.Whatsoever thing ... - Or, the whole word (or thing) which hath gone forth out of our mouth; i. e., the vows we have made. They would not let Jeremiah's expostulations prevent the carrying out of the special object which had brought them together: otherwise the Queen of heaven would be offended, and avenge himself. 17. whatsoever … goeth … out of our … mouth—whatever vow we have uttered to our gods (Jer 44:25; De 23:23; Jud 11:36). The source of all superstitions is that men oppose their own will and fancies to God's commands.

queen of heaven—(See on [968]Jer 7:18); Ashtaroth or Astarte.

we … fathers … king, &c.—The evil was restricted to no one class: all from the highest to the lowest shared the guilt.

then had we plenty—Fools attribute their seeming prosperity to God's connivance at their sin: but see Pr 1:32; Ec 8:11-13. In fact, God had often chastised them for their idolatry (see Jud 2:14); but it is the curse of impiety not to perceive the hand of God in calamities.

victuals—Men cast away the bread of the soul for the bread that perisheth (De 8:3; Joh 6:27). So Esau (Heb 12:16).

Here is the root of all sinners’ disobedience, their resolution to please and humour themselves, not knowing how in any thing to deny themselves; hence it is that denying ourselves is by Christ made the first law or condition of his disciples. By the

queen of heaven some here understand the sun, which notion is favoured from the words being of the feminine gender, which signifieth the sun in Hebrew; others reading it not the queen, but the

frame of heaven, by it understanding the sun, moon, and stars.

Drink-offerings were a Divine homage which God had commanded to be paid to him, Leviticus 23:13 Numbers 6:17. Their arguments for it were,

1. Custom and antiquity, they and their fathers had used to do it.

2. The example of their kings and princes.

3. The plenty and prosperity they had while they did so, as if their idolatry had been the cause of it. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth out of our own mouth,.... And not what went out of the mouth of God, or his prophet: but whoever they had resolved on within themselves to do, and had declared with their mouths they would, or had vowed with their lips; so Abarbinel interprets it of a vow; this they were determined to perform, let God and his prophet say what they would:

to burn incense unto the queen of heaven; which, according to Abarbinel, was the moon, which is the queen of heaven, as the sun is king; it was called by the Heathens Coelestis and Urania: but there are some that think that some great star in heaven, that is king over the rest, is meant; so the Targum renders it, the star of heaven; which they understand of the sun, as Kimchi observes; the sun being much worshipped in Egypt; but Kimchi himself derives the word for "queen", here used, not from the root which signifies "to reign"; but from another, which signifies "to work"; and so renders it, "the work", or "frame of heaven"; the sun, moon, and stars; and so the Syriac version is "the host of heaven"; See Gill on Jeremiah 7:18; and to this deity, be it what it will, they burned incense; and they were determined to continue it, and all other idolatrous rites and practices particularly:

and to pour out drink offerings unto her; which was another part of ceremonial worship, which the true God required of the people of Israel; but were here resolved to give it to another god:

as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem; they plead custom and prescription, antiquity and authority; the examples of ancestors and kings; the general practice of their nation, both in the metropolis of it, and in its several cities, where it not only universally obtained, but was visibly and openly done; and, more, they plead the temporal advantage of it:

for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil: had fulness of bread, and of all provisions; health, peace, and safety; and no judgment was upon them, seen or felt by them; the sword, famine, or pestilence. The goddess Coelestis, or the moon, which seems to be here meant, was, as Tertullian (d) says "pluviarum pollicitatrix", "the promiser of rains" and so of all good things: or, "were merry" (e), as the Heathens were at their new moons, when they indulged to their cups, and lived jovially; hence that of Horace (f).

(d) Apolog. c. 23. (e) "et eramus hilares", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (f) "Da lunae propere novae, Da noctis mediae, poculum". Carmin. l. 3. Ode 19.

But we will certainly do whatever thing proceedeth from our own mouth, to burn incense to {i} the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then we had {k} plenty of food, and were well, and saw no evil.

(i) Read Jer 7:18 it seems that the papists gathered of this place Salbe Regina and Regina caeli latare calling the virgin Mary Queen of heaven and so out of the blessed virgin and mother of our saviour Christ, made an idol; for here the prophet condemns their idolatry.

(k) This is still the argument of idolaters who esteem religion by the belly and instead of acknowledging God's works who sends both plenty and famine, health and sickness. They attribute it to their idols and so dishonour God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. every word that is gone forth out of our mouth] For this phrase as employed of vows see Numbers 30:2; Numbers 30:12; Deuteronomy 23:23; Jdg 11:36; Psalm 66:13 f.

the queen of heaven] See on ch. Jeremiah 7:18.

victuals] lit. as mg. bread.Verse 17. - Whatsoever thing goeth forth; rather, the whole word which hath gone forth. A particular vow to the divinity is meant. The queen of heaven (see on Jeremiah 7:18). Then had we plenty of victuals, etc. An extremely important passage, as revealing the view taken of their misfortunes by Jews of the average type. Jeremiah regarded the misfortunes of his country as proofs of the displeasure of Jehovah; these Jews, on the other hand, of his impotence. In Jeremiah 44:7-10 follows the application of what has been said to those present, who are asked how they come to continue in the old sins, to their own destruction, "doing evil in regard to your souls," i.e., for the injury, destruction of your souls, yourself; cf. Jeremiah 26:19, where על־נ' stands for אל־נ'. This is immediately afterwards more exactly specified by 'להכרית וגו, to exterminate the whole of you, without an exception. As to the enumeration "man and woman," etc., cf. 1 Samuel 15:3; 1 Samuel 22:19. The infs. להכעיסני and לקטּר are used as gerundives: "inasmuch as (through this that) ye provoke me." For the expression "the works of your hands," see on Jeremiah 1:16. In Jeremiah 44:8, an object must be supplied from Jeremiah 44:7 for the expression למען הכרית לכם; for, to take לכם (with Hitzig) in a reflexive sense is a very harsh construction. On 'לקללה וגו, cf. Jeremiah 42:18; Jeremiah 26:6. The answer to the question now asked follows in Jeremiah 44:9 and Jeremiah 44:10, in the form of the further question, whether they have forgotten those former sins, and that these sins have been the cause of the evil which has befallen the land. The interrogation expresses the reproach that they have been able to forget both, as is evidenced by their continuance in sin. In Jeremiah 44:9, the expression "the evil deeds of his wives" (נשׁיו) is remarkable. Hitzig and Ngelsbach, following Kimchi, refer the suffix to the kings, since there was always but one king at a time. But this is an unnatural explanation; the suffix refers to Judah as a nation, and is used in order to comprehend the wives of the fathers and of the kings together. It is quite arbitrary in Ewald and Graf to change נשׁיו to שׂריו, following the lxx τῶν ἀρχόντων ὑμῶν; for these translators have mutilated the text by the omission of the following ואת רעתיכם. רעות נשׁיו is not merely conserved, but even required, by ואת רעת נשׁיכם. But the prophet gives special prominence to the evil deeds of the wives, since it was they who were most zealous in worshipping the queen of heaven; cf. Jeremiah 44:15 and Jeremiah 44:19. לא דכּאוּ, "they have not been crushed," viz., by repentance and sorrow for these sins. The transition to the third person is not merely accounted for by the fact that the subject treated of is the sins of the fathers and of the present generation, - for, as is shown by the expression "till this day," the prophet has chiefly his own contemporaries in view; but he speaks of these in the third person, to signify the indignation with which he turns away from men so difficult to reform. On the expression, "they had not walked in my law," cf. Jeremiah 26:4; Jeremiah 9:12. For this the Lord will punish them severely, Jeremiah 44:11-14. All those who have fled to Egypt, with the intention of remaining there, will be quite exterminated. On "Behold, I will set my face," etc., cf. Jeremiah 21:10. "For evil" is more exactly defined by "to cut off all Judah," i.e., those of Judah who are in Egypt, not those who are in Babylon. This limitation of the words "all Judah" is necessarily required by the context, and is plainly expressed in Jeremiah 44:12, where "Judah" is specified as "the remnant of Judah that were determined to go to Egypt." לקחתּי has the meaning of taking away, as in Jeremiah 15:15. ותמּוּ are to be taken by themselves; and בּארץ מצרים, as is shown by the accents, is to be attached to what follows, on which, too, the emphasis is placed; in like manner, 'בּחרב are to be attached to the succeeding verb. The arrangement of the words, like the accumulation of sentences all expressing the same meaning, reveals the spirit of the address in which God vents His wrath. On "they shall become an execration," etc., see Jeremiah 42:18. In Jeremiah 44:13, Jeremiah 44:14, the threatened extermination is further set forth. Those who dwelling Egypt shall be punished with sword, famine, and plague, like Jerusalem. The inhabitants of Egypt generally are meant; and by the judgment which is to fall on that country, the remnant of Judah there shall be so completely destroyed, that none shall escape. The leading member of the sentence is continued by ולשׁוּב, "and that they should return to the land of Judah, after which their soul longs, that they may live there." A reason is further assigned, and with this the address, reduced within becoming limits, concludes: "for there shall return none except (כּי אם) fugitives," i.e., except a few individual fugitives who shall come back. This last clause shows that we are not to understand the declaration "none shall escape" in the strictest meaning of the words. Those who escape and return to Judah shall be so few, in comparison with those who shall perish in Egypt, as to be quite inconsiderable. Cf. the like instance of a seeming contradiction in Jeremiah 44:27, Jeremiah 44:28. On נשּׂא את־נפשׁם, cf. Jeremiah 22:27.
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