Jeremiah 5:2
And though they say, The LORD lives; surely they swear falsely.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) The Lord liveth.—The words imply that a distinction between the binding powers of different formulæ of adjuration, like that of the later scribes (Matthew 23:16), was already in some degree prevalent. The guilt of the men of Jerusalem was that they took the most solemn formula of all, “Jehovah liveth,” and yet were guilty of perjury. In Jeremiah 5:7 we find traces of the practice of swearing by other gods, with which this “oath of Jehovah” is apparently contrasted.

Falsely.—Literally, upon falsehood.

Jeremiah 5:2. And though they say, The Lord liveth, &c. — Though, when they swear, they use the common form of an oath, and say, The Lord liveth, or, as the Lord liveth, or, by the living God. Surely, or rather, nevertheless, they swear falsely — That is, either, 1st, They are not sincere in the profession they make of respect to God, but are false to him; they honour him with their lips, but their hearts are far from him, nor have they any proper conviction or sense that he lives and sees them, Genesis 16:13-14. Or, 2d, Though they appeal to God only, they make no conscience of calling him to witness a lie: though they do not swear by idols, they forswear themselves, which is no less an affront to Jehovah, as the God of truth, than the other is to him, as the only true God.5:1-9 None could be found who behaved as upright and godly men. But the Lord saw the true character of the people through all their disguises. The poor were ignorant, and therefore they were wicked. What can be expected but works of darkness, from people that know nothing of God and religion? There are God's poor, who, notwithstanding poverty, know the way of the Lord, walk in it, and do their duty; but these were willingly ignorant, and their ignorance would not be their excuse. The rich were insolent and haughty, and the abuse of God's favours made their sin worse.Though they take the most binding form of oath, they do so only as a means of deceiving others. 2. (Tit 1:16).

swear falsely—not a judicial oath; but their profession of the worship of Jehovah is insincere (Jer 5:7; Jer 4:2). The reformation under Josiah was merely superficial in the case of the majority.

Though they say, The Lord liveth; though when they swear, they use the form of an oath, and say, The

Lord liveth, Jeremiah 5:2, or, By the living God. By swearing here we may understand all their service of God, by a synecdoche, swearing being a part of God’s worship. Surely they swear falsely; yet, or therefore, they swear falsely; either they swear to that which is false; or if to that which is true, they are so perfidious to me, that they do it deceitfully, not in sincerity, and in reverence to that holy name by which they swear: possibly they may often speak of God, and not swear by false gods, Jeremiah 5:7, but it is all but hypocrisy and deceit, Isaiah 48:1 Jeremiah 12:2 42:5,20 2 Timothy 3:5. It is neither in truth nor righteousness, two of the principal qualifications of a lawful oath. Thus they prostitute the name of God, making themselves guilty, not of hypocrisy only, but sacrilege. And though they say, the Lord liveth,.... It might be said, that there were multitudes that made mention of the name of the Lord, that professed it, and swore by it; which sometimes is put for the worship and service of God, Deuteronomy 10:20 and therefore it could not be so difficult a matter to find a man of integrity and uprightness among them; this is answered by allowing there were persons that did do so: but then it must be observed,

that surely they swear falsely; they abused the name of God, and were guilty of perjury: or the sense is, they were only nominal professors, hypocritical worshippers; in words professed to know God, but in works denied him; had a form of religion and godliness, but without the power of it.

And though they say, The {b} LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely.

(b) Though they pretend religion and holiness, yet all is but hypocrisy: for under this kind of swearing is contained the true religion.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. Though, as professed servants of Jehovah, they take the most solemn form of oath, yet they use it to give weight to a lie. Cp. Isaiah 48:1.

surely] This rendering is obtained by the change of one letter in MT., which has “therefore” in defiance of the sense.Verse 2. - And though they say, The Lord liveth. Though they asseverate by the most solemn of all oaths (contrast Jeremiah 4:1, 2). Surely. So the Syriac. This rendering, however, involves an emendation of one letter in the text. The ordinary reading is literally therefore, but may etymologically be taken to mean "for all this," "nevertheless." The devastation of Judah, though not its utter annihilation, is irrevocably decreed, and cannot be turned away by any meretricious expedients. - Jeremiah 4:27. "For thus saith Jahveh, A waste shall the whole land be, yet will I not make an utter end. Jeremiah 4:28. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heaven above darken, because I have said it, purposed it, and repent it not, neither will I turn back from it. Jeremiah 4:29. For the noise of the horseman and bowman every city flees; they come into thickets, and into clefts of the rock they go up; every city is forsaken, and no man dwells therein. Jeremiah 4:30. And thou, spoiled one, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself in purple, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou tearest open thine eyes with paint, in vain thou makest thyself fair; the lovers despise thee, they seek thy life. Jeremiah 4:31. For I hear a voice as of a woman in travail, anguish as of one who bringeth forth her first-born, the voice of the daughter of Zion; she sigheth, she spreadeth out her hands: Woe is me! for my soul sinketh powerless beneath murderers."

Jeremiah 4:27-29

Jeremiah 4:27 and Jeremiah 4:28 confirm and explain what the prophet has seen in spirit in Jeremiah 4:23-26. A waste shall the land become; but the wasting shall not be a thorough annihilation, not such a destruction as befell Sodom and Gomorrah. עשׂה , as in Nahum 1:8., Isaiah 10:23, and freq. This limitation is yet again in v. Jeremiah 5:10, Jeremiah 5:18 made to apply to Jerusalem, as it has done already to the people at large. It is founded on the promise in Leviticus 26:44, that the Lord will punish Israel with the greatest severity for its stubborn apostasy from Him, but will not utterly destroy it, so as to break His covenant with it. Accordingly, all prophets declare that after the judgments of punishment, a remnant shall be left, from which a new holy race shall spring; cf. Amos 9:8; Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 11:11, Isaiah 11:16; Isaiah 10:20., Micah 2:12; Micah 5:6; Zephaniah 3:13, etc. "For this" refers to the first half of Jeremiah 4:27, and is again resumed in the על כּי following: for this, because Jahveh hath purposed the desolation of the whole land. The earth mourns, as in Hosea 4:3, because her productive power is impaired by the ravaging of the land. The heaven blackens itself, i.e., shrouds itself in dark clouds (1 Kings 18:45), so as to mourn over the desolated earth. The vividness of the style permits "have decreed it" to be appended as asyndeton to "I have said it," for the sake of greater emphasis. God has not only pronounced the desolation of the land, but God's utterance in this is based upon a decree which God does not repent, and from which He will not turn back. The lxx have placed the זמּתי after נחמתּי, and have thus obtained a neater arrangement of the clauses; but by this the force of expression in "I have said it, decreed it," is weakened. In Jeremiah 4:29 the desolation of the land is further portrayed, set forth in Jeremiah 4:30 as inevitable, and exhibited in its sad consequences in Jeremiah 4:31. On the approach of the hostile army, all the inhabitants flee into inaccessible places from the clatter or noise of the horsemen and archers. He that casts the bow, the bowman; cf. Psalm 78:9. כּל־העיר means, in spite of the article, not the whole city, but every city, all cities, as may be gathered from the בּהן, which points back to this. So frequently before the definite noun, especially when it is further defined by a relative clause, as e.g., Exodus 1:22; Deuteronomy 4:3; 1 Samuel 3:17; cf. Ew. 290, c. For the first כּל־העירthe lxx have πᾶσα ἡ χώρα, and accordingly J. D. Mich., Hitz., and Graf propose to amend to כּל־הארץ, so as to avoid "the clumsy repetition." But we cannot be ruled here by aesthetic principles of taste. Clearly the first "every city" means the populace of the cities, and so בּאוּ is: they (i.e., the men) come, pouring forth. עבים is not here clouds, but, according to its etymology, to be dark, means the dark thickets or woods; cf. the Syr. ̀āb, wood. כּפים, rocks, here clefts in the rocks, as is demanded by the בּ. For this state of things, cf. Isaiah 2:19, Isaiah 2:21, and the accounts of Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6, where the Israelites hide themselves from the invading Midianites in caves, ravines, thorn-thickets, rocks, and natural fastnesses.

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