Jeremiah 44:3
Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, you, nor your fathers.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
44:1-14 God reminds the Jews of the sins that brought desolations upon Judah. It becomes us to warn men of the danger of sin with all seriousness: Oh, do not do it! If you love God, do not, for it is provoking to him; if you love your own souls, do not, for it is destructive to them. Let conscience do this for us in the hour of temptation. The Jews whom God sent into the land of the Chaldeans, were there, by the power of God's grace, weaned from idolatry; but those who went by their own perverse will into the land of the Egyptians, were there more attached than ever to their idolatries. When we thrust ourselves without cause or call into places of temptation, it is just with God to leave us to ourselves. If we walk contrary to God, he will walk contrary to us. The most awful miseries to which men are exposed, are occasioned by the neglect of offered salvation.In that they went to burn incense, and to serve - Or, by going to burn incense to serve thereby other gods. 3. they went—implying perverse assiduity: they went out of their way to burn incense (one species of idolatry put for all kinds), &c. As they were eye-witnesses to the effect, so it was nothing but their unbelief made them strangers to the cause; for God by his prophets had told them that the great moving cause was their paying a Divine homage to idols; the sin of which is aggravated from this, that they were as much strangers to the idols, as to the people with whom they joined in the worship of them, neither they nor any of their fathers having had any experimental knowledge of what they had done or could do for such as adored them. Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger,.... The cause of this desolation was the wickedness they were guilty of; whereby they provoked the anger of God to bring this destruction on them. Sin is always provoking unto God; and though it may not be done on purpose to provoke him, which it sometimes seems to be; yet it eventually does, and is always the cause of punishment: God never punishes man without a cause, or for anything but sin:

in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods: the particular wickedness they were guilty of, and which was the cause of their ruin, was burning incense to idols, and worshipping them, than which nothing is more provoking to God: and it was an aggravation of their sin, that they were gods

whom they knew not, neither they, you, nor your fathers; what they were; from whence they were; their original, and perhaps not their names; however, did not know that they were gods; nor could they prove them to be such; nay, might know that they were not: and now, since this was the sin which brought on the destruction they were eyewitnesses of, it should have been a caution to them that they went not into the same idolatrous practices, which yet they did not avoid; taking no warning from such awful instances of the divine displeasure.

Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. burn incense] For this expression (and so throughout the ch.) See on Jeremiah 1:16.Prediction regarding Egypt. - Jeremiah 43:8. "And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Jeremiah 43:9. Take in thine hand large stones, and hide them in the clay in the brick-kiln, which is at the entrance to the house of Pharaoh in Taphanhes, in the eyes of the Jews; Jeremiah 43:10. And say to them: Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and will place his throne over these stones which I have hidden, and he shall stretch his tapestry over them. Jeremiah 43:11. And he shall come and smite the land of Egypt, (he who is) for death, to death, - (he who is) for captivity, to captivity, - (he who is) for the sword, to the sword. Jeremiah 43:12. And I will kindle fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt, and he shall burn them and carry them away; and he shall wrap the land of Egypt round him as the shepherd wraps his cloak round him, and thence depart in peace. Jeremiah 43:13. And he shall destroy the pillars of Beth-shemesh, which is in the land of Egypt, and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire."

This prophecy is introduced by a symbolical action, on which it is based. But in spite of the fact that the object of the action is stated in the address which follows, the action itself is not quite plain from the occurrence of בּמּלבּן, whose usual meaning, "brick-kiln" (cf. Nahum 3:14), does not seem suitable here. Eichhorn and Hitzig think it absurd that there should be found before the door of a royal habitation a brick-kiln on which a king was to place his throne. From the Arabic malbin, which also signifies a rectangular figure like tile or brick, and is used of the projecting entablature of doors, - from the employment, also, in the Talmud of the word מלבּן to signify a quadrangular tablet in the form of a tile, - Hitzig would claim for the word the meaning of a stone floor, and accordingly renders, "and insert them with mortar into the stone flooring." But the entablatures over doors, or quadrangular figures like bricks, are nothing like a stone flooring or pavement before a palace. Besides, in the way of attaching to the word the signification of a "brick-kiln," - a meaning which is well established, - or even of a brickwork, the difficulties are not so great as to compel us to accept interpretations that have no foundation. We do not need to think of a brick-kiln or brickwork as being always before the palace; as Neumann has observed, it may have indeed ben there, although only for a short time, during the erecting of some part of the palace; nor need it have been just at the palace gateway, but a considerable distance away from it, and on the opposite side. Alongside of it there was lying mortar, an indispensable building material. טמן, "to hide," perhaps means here not merely to embed, but to embed in such a way that the stones could not very readily be perceived. Jeremiah was to press down the big stones, not into the brick-kiln, but into the mortar which was lying at (near) the brick-kiln, - to put them, too, before the eyes of the Jews, inasmuch as the meaning of this act had a primary reference to the fate of the Jews in Egypt. The object of the action is thus stated in what follows: Jahveh shall bring the king of Babylon and set his throne on these stones, so that he shall spread out his beautiful tapestry over them. שׁפרוּר (Qeri שׁפריר), an intensive form of שׁפר, שׁפרה, "splendour, beauty," signifies a glittering ornament, - here, the decoration of the throne, the gorgeous tapestry with which the seat of the throne was covered. The stones must thus form the basis for the throne, which the king of Babylon will set up in front of the palace of the king of Egypt at Tahpanhes. But the symbolical meaning of this action is not thereby exhausted. Not merely is the laying of the stones significant, but also the place where they are laid, - at the entrance, or opposite Pharaoh's palace. This palace was built of tiles or bricks: this is indicated by the brick-kiln and the mortar. The throne of the king of Babylon, on the contrary, is set up on large stones. The materials of which the palace and the throne are formed, shadow forth the strength and stability of the kingdom. Pharaoh's dominion is like crumbling clay, the material of bricks; the throne which Nebuchadnezzar shall set up opposite the clay-building of the Pharaohs rests on large stones, - his rule will be powerful and permanent. According to Jeremiah's further development of the symbol in Jeremiah 43:11., Nebuchadnezzar will come to Egypt (the Kethib באה is to be read בּאה, "he came down," to Egypt, בּוא being construed with the accus.), and will smite the land together with its inhabitants, so that every man will receive his appointed lot, viz., death by pestilence, imprisonment, and the sword, i.e., death in battle. On the mode of representation here, cf. Jeremiah 15:2.

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