Jeremiah 5:14
Why thus said the LORD God of hosts, Because you speak this word, behold, I will make my words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) The Lord God of hosts.—The solemn name (Jehovah Elohim Zebaoth) used for the second time in Jeremiah’s teaching (Jeremiah 2:19). The message is partly to the people—“Because ye speak this word,” partly to the prophet who was sent to bear his witness against them—“I will make my words in thy mouth.”

Jeremiah 5:14-18. Wherefore, thus saith the Lord God of hosts — The prophet now, in the name of God, answers the blasphemous speeches of these infidels, ascribing to Jehovah that power and supremacy which were calculated to give his words the greater influence. Because you speak this word — because these scoffers express themselves in this manner; I will make my words in thy mouth fire, &c. — Thy words shall take effect, and thy predictions begin to be accomplished suddenly and unexpectedly, irresistibly and fiercely, (as fire is wont to kindle upon and consume dry wood,) to their utter overthrow and ruin. They shall be but fuel to my wrath, which shall be executed upon them by the Chaldean army. I will bring a nation upon you from far — The prophet, in the two following verses, “marks out the Chaldeans by their distance; by their power and valour; by their antiquity; by their language, unknown to the Jews; by their arms, their might, and their cruelty.” And they shall eat up thy harvest — In the field; and thy bread — In the house; which thy sons and thy daughters should eat — Necessary for the sustenance of thy own offspring. They shall consume all, leaving thee no supports of life, but bringing an utter famine upon thee. Here is a plain allusion to the predictions of Moses, Deuteronomy 28:49-51. They shall eat up thy flocks and thy herds — Out of which thou hast taken sacrifices for thine idols. They shall eat up thy vines and thy fig-trees — They shall leave thee no part of the produce of thy vineyards or fields. They shall empoverish thy fenced cities, &c. — After besieging, they shall take and destroy thy cities, though defended by high and strong walls; wherein thou trustedst — For the protection of the country; slaying the garrisons and inhabitants thereof with the sword, and leaving them desolate. See this also foretold, Deuteronomy 28:52.5:10-18 Multitudes are ruined by believing that God will not be so strict as his word says he will; by this artifice Satan undid mankind. Sinners are not willing to own any thing to be God's word, that tends to part them from, or to disquiet them in, their sins. Mocking and misusing the Lord's messengers, filled the measure of their iniquity. God can bring trouble upon us from places and causes very remote. He has mercy in store for his people, therefore will set bounds to this desolating judgment. Let us not overlook the nevertheless, ver. 18. This is the Lord's covenant with Israel. He thereby proclaims his holiness, and his utter displeasure against sin while sparing the sinner, Ps 89:30-35.Word - Rather, speaker. Literally, And he who speaketh is not in them, i. e., there is no one who speaketh in them; what the prophets say has no higher authority than themselves.

Thus ... - i. e., May the evil which the prophets threaten fall upon their head.

14. ye … thy … this people—He turns away from addressing the people to the prophet; implying that He puts them to a distance from Him, and only communicates with them through His prophet (Jer 5:19).

fire … wood—Thy denunciations of judgments shall be fulfilled and shall consume them as fire does wood. In Jer 23:29 it is the penetrating energy of fire which is the point of comparison.

Wherefore thus saith the Lord: these vile wretches having now done speaking, God begins to speak; and because they had thus slighted the prophet, and God speaking by him, (as in the next words,

Because ye speak this word, ) here tells them what he will do; or rather, turns himself abruptly to the prophet, as men usually do in a passion.

The Lord God of hosts; he makes his majesty and power known, to clothe his words with the greater terror. Because ye speak this word, viz. at the rate they discoursed in the former verse.

It shall devour them, i.e. it shall take place suddenly, and irresistibly, and fiercely, as fire is wont to take in dry wood, to their utter ruin and overthrow, Psalm 83:14,15 Isa 9:18,19. They shall be but fuel to my wrath, which shall be executed by the Chaldean army, that shall consume and eat them up like fire; they shall find my words to be more than wind. Wherefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, because ye speak this word,.... That it is not the Lord; it is not he that speaks; it is no prophecy of him, and therefore shall become wind, and come to nothing:

behold, I will make my word in thy mouth fire: it shall have its effect, and a dreadful one; it shall not become wind, but be as fire, not to enlighten the understanding, to purify the conscience, and warm the heart; but to torture, distress, and destroy, as the fire of the word out of the mouths of the two witnesses, Revelation 11:5,

and this people wood, and it shall devour them; as wood is devoured by fire, so shall this people be destroyed by sword and famine, as the word of the prophecy has declared they should; and which was done by the following means.

Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in {n} thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.

(n) Meaning, Jeremiah.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. “Ye” (the people)—“thy” (Jeremiah’s). Cp. Jeremiah 23:39.Verse 14. - My words in thy mouth fire. (See on Jeremiah 1:9, 10.) This verse is neither a threatening of future punishments, nor is to be taken figuratively (lion, bear, leopard, as figures for dreadful enemies). The change from the perf. הכּם to the imperf. ישׁדדם and יטּרף tells against the future construction, showing as it does that the verbs are used aoristically of chastisements which have partly already taken place, which may be partly yet to come. And the figurative explanation of the beasts of prey by hostile peoples - found so early as the Chald. - is not in the least called for by the text; nor is it easy to reconcile it with the specification of various kinds of wild beasts. The words are a case of the threatening of the law in Leviticus 26:22, that God will chasten the transgressors of His law by sending beasts of prey which shall rob them of their children. Cf. with the promise, that if they keep His commandments, He will destroy the wild beasts out of the land. Cf. also the fact given in 2 Kings 17:25, that God sent lions amongst the heathen colonists who had been transplanted into the depopulated kingdom of the ten tribes, lions which slew some of them, because they served not Jahveh. The true conception of the words is confirmed by Ezekiel 14:15, when in like manner the sending of evil (ravening) beasts is mentioned as an example of God's punishments. הכּה, smite, is a standing expression for the lion's way of striking down his prey with his paws; cf. 1 Kings 20:36. זאב ערבות is not wolf of the evening, as Chald. Syr., Hitz. explain it, following Habakkuk 1:8 and Zephaniah 3:3; for ערבות is not the plural of ערב, but of ערבה, steppe: the wolf that lives in the steppe, and thence makes its raids on inhabited spots. The reference of the words to place is suggested plainly by the parallel, the lion out of the wood. The leopard (panther) watches, i.e., lies lurking in wait against their cities, to tear those that come out. The panther is wont to lie in wait for his prey, and to spring suddenly out on it; cf. Hosea 13:7. With "because many are thy transgressions," cf. Jeremiah 30:14.

Since these chastisements have profited nothing God cannot pardon the people. This is the meaning of the question in Jeremiah 5:7, אי לזאת, wherefore should I then pardon? not, should I then pardon for this? for אי by itself does not stand for ה interrog., but is set before the pronom. demonstr. to give it the force of an interrogative adjective; cf. Ew. 326, a. The Cheth. אסלוחest obsoletum adeoque genuinum (Ros.); the Keri substitutes the usual form. To justify the question with a negative answer implied, the people's fall into idolatry is again set up before it in strong colours. Thy sons (the sons of the daughter of Zion, i.e., of the national congregation, and so the individual members of the nation; cf. Leviticus 19:18) have forsaken me, and swear by them that are not gods, i.e., the idols; cf. Jeremiah 2:11. For אשׁבּיע אותם, I caused them to swear, the old translators have אשׂבּיע , I filled them to the full, and so it is read in many codd. and edd. This reading is preferred by most of the ancient commentators, and they appeal for a parallel to Jeremiah 5:28, and Deuteronomy 32:15 ("when Jeshurun waxed fat, he kicked"), Hosea 13:6; Nehemiah 9:25, etc., where apostasy from God is chidden as a consequence of superfluity of earthly goods. So Luther: "and now that I have filled them full, they committed adultery." Now possibly it is just the recollection of the passages cited that has suggested the reading אשׂביע. The apodosis, they committed adultery, forms no antithesis to filling full. Adultery presupposes a marriage vow, or troth plighted by an oath. God caused Israel to swear fidelity when He made the covenant with it at Sinai, Exodus 24. This oath Israel repeated at each renewal of the covenant, and last under Josiah: 2 Kings 23:3; 2 Chronicles 34:31. Hence we must not wholly restrict the searing to the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, nor wholly to the renewal of it under Josiah. We must refer it to both acts, or rather to the solemnity at Sinai, together with all solemn renewals of it in after times; while at the same time the reference to the renewal under Josiah, this being still fresh in memory, may have been the foremost. We must not confine the reference of ינאפוּ to spiritual adultery ( equals a fall away from Jahveh into idolatry); the context, especially the next clause, and yet more unmistakeably Jeremiah 5:8, refers to carnal uncleanness. This too was a breach of the covenant, since in taking it the people bound itself not only to be faithful to God, but to keep and follow all the laws of His covenant. That the words, crowd into the house of the harlot, i.e., go thither in crowds, are to be taken of carnal uncleanness, may be gathered from Jeremiah 5:8: each neighs after the wife of his neighbour. Fornication is denounced as a desecration of the name of the Lord in Amos 2:7. The first clause of Jeremiah 5:8 suggests a comparison: well-fed horses are they, i.e., they resemble such. On the lechery of horses, see on Ezekiel 23:20. The Cheth. מוזנים is partic. Hoph. of זוּן, in Aram. feed, fatten, here most suitable. The Keri מיזנים would be the partic. Pu. from יזן, the meaning of which is doubtful, given arbitrarily by Kimchi and others as armati sc. membro genitali. משׁכּים, too, is derived from משׁך, and given by Jerome sensu obscaeno: trahentes sc. genitalia; but משׁכּים cannot come from משׁך, משׁכּים being the only possible form in that case. Nor does trahentes, "draught-horses" (Hitz.), give a sense at all in point for the comparison. A better view is that of those who follow Simonis, in holding it to be partic. Hiph. of שׁכה, in Aethiop. oberravit, vagatus est. The participle is not to be joined with "horses" as a second qualifying word, but to be taken with היוּ, the periphrastic form being chosen to indicate the enduring chronic character of the roaming.

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