Jeremiah 44:4
However, I sent to you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate.
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(4) Rising early and sending them . . .—The prophet uses the same anthropomorphic language as of old (Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 25:4; Jeremiah 26:5; Jeremiah 29:19). The term “abominable thing,” or “abomination,” though common in many of the books of the Old Testament, as in the Proverbs, where it is applied to moral enormities (e.g., Proverbs 3:32; Proverbs 6:16), is specially characteristic, as applied to idolatry, of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 27:15; Deuteronomy 32:16), Jeremiah (here and Jeremiah 7:10; Jeremiah 8:12; Jeremiah 32:35), and Ezek. (Ezekiel 5:11, and some forty other passages).



Jeremiah 44:4

The long death-agony of the Jewish kingdom has come to an end. The frivolous levity, which fed itself on illusions and would not be sobered by facts, has been finally crushed out of the wretched people. The dreary succession of incompetent kings-now a puppet set up by Egypt, now another puppet set up by Babylon, has ended with the weak Zedekiah. The throne of David is empty, and the long line of kings, which numbered many a strong, wise, holy man, has dwindled into a couple of captives, one of them blind and both of them paupers on an idolatrous monarch’s bounty. The country is desolate, the bulk of the people exiles, and the poor handful, who had been left by the conqueror, flitting like ghosts, or clinging, like domestic animals, to their burnt homes and wasted plains, have been quarrelling and fighting among themselves, murdering the Jewish ruler whom Babylon had left them, and then in abject terror have fled en masse across the border into Egypt, where they are living wretched lives. What a history that people had gone through since they had lived on the same soil before! From Moses to Zedekiah, what a story! From Goshen till now it had been one long tragedy which seems to have at last reached its fifth act. Nine hundred years have passed, and this is the issue of them all!

The circumstances might well stir the heart of the prophet, whose doleful task it had been to foretell the coming of the storm, who had had to strip off Judah’s delusions and to proclaim its certain fall, and who in doing so had carried his life in his hand for forty years, and had never met with recognition or belief.

Jeremiah had been carried off by the fugitives to Egypt, and there he made a final effort to win them back to God. He passed before them the outline of the whole history of the nation, treating it as having accomplished one stadium-and what does he find? In all these days since Goshen there has been one monotonous story of vain divine pleadings and human indifference, God beseeching and Israel turning away-and now at last the crash, long foretold, never credited, which had been drawing nearer through all the centuries, has come, and Israel is scattered among the people.

Such are the thoughts and emotions that speak in the exquisitely tender words of our text. It suggests-

I. God’s antagonism to sin.

It is the one thing in the universe to which He is opposed. Sin is essentially antagonism to God. People shrink from the thought of God’s hatred of sin, because of-

An underestimate of its gravity. Contrast the human views of its enormity, as shown by men’s playing with it, calling it by half-jocose names and the like, with God’s thought of its heinousness.

A false dread of seeming to attribute human emotions to God. But there is in God what corresponds to our human feelings, something analogous to the attitude of a pure human mind recoiling from evil.

The divine love must necessarily be pure, and the mightier its energy of forth-going, the mightier its energy of recoil. God’s ‘hate’ is Love inverted and reverted on itself. A divine love which had in it no necessity of hating evil would be profoundly immoral, and would be called devilish more fitly than divine.

II. The great purpose of the divine pleadings.

To wean from sin is the main end of prophecy. It is the main end of all revelation. God must chiefly desire to make His creatures like Himself. Sin makes a special revelation necessary. Sin determines the form of it.

III. God’s tender and unwearied efforts.

‘Rising early’ is a strong metaphor to express persistent effort. The more obstinate is our indifference, the more urgent are His calls. He raises His voice as our deafness grows. Mark, too, the tenderness of the entreaty in this text, ‘Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate!’ His hatred of it is adduced as a reason which should touch any heart that loves Him. He beseeches as if He, too, were saying, ‘Though I might be bold to enjoin thee’ that which is fitting, ‘yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee.’ The manifestation of His disapproval and the appeal to our love by the disclosure of His own are the most powerful, winning and compelling dehortations from sin. Not by brandishing the whip, not by a stern law written on tables of stone, but by unveiling His heart, does God win us from our sins.

IV. The obstinate resistance to God’s tender pleadings.

The tragedy of the nation is summed up in one word, ‘They hearkened not.’

That power of neglecting God’s voice and opposing God’s will is the mystery of our nature. How strange it is that a human will should be able to lift itself in opposition to the Sovereign Will! But stranger and more mysterious and tragic still is it that we should choose to exercise that power and find pleasure, and fancy that we shall ever find advantage, in refusing to listen to His entreaties and choosing to flout His uttered will.

Such opposition was Israel’s ruin. It will be ours if we persist in it. ‘If God spared not the natural branches, neither will He spare thee.’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.Howbeit I sent - And I sent. 4. (2Ch 36:15). No text from Poole on this verse. Howbeit, I sent unto you all my servants the prophets,.... As many as he raised up, and employed in the work and service of prophesying; and these were many; and as many as they were, he sent them to them, one after another, to warn them of their sin and danger; but all to no purpose; which was a further aggravation of their wickedness: nay, though he was

rising early, and sending them; was very early in his messages to them; gave them timely warning, and let slip no opportunity of admonishing them; and this he did constantly; see Jeremiah 7:13;

saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate; all sin is abominable in itself, and hateful to God, especially idolatry; and therefore should not be done; it should be abominable to men, and hateful to them, because it is so to God; and after such a remonstrance as this, to commit it must be very aggravating and provoking.

Yet I sent to you all my servants the prophets, {b} rising early and sending them, saying, O, do not this abominable thing that I hate.

(b) Read Jer 7:25,25:3,29:19,32:33.

4. Cp. Jeremiah 7:25 and elsewhere. We should perhaps read for “you” them, although “you” implies in a significant way the continuous personality of the nation.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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