Jeremiah 5:28
They are waxen fat, they shine: yes, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) They overpass the deeds of the wicked.—Better (the English being ambiguous), they exceed in deeds (literally, words or things) of wickedness. The prophet dwells not only on the prosperity of the wicked, but on their callous indifference to the well-being of the poor.

Yet they prosper.—Better, so that they (the fatherless) may prosper. They do not judge with a view to that result. The words admit, however, in Hebrew as in English, of the sense that they (the wicked themselves) may prosper. That was all they aimed at or cared for.

5:19-31 Unhumbled hearts are ready to charge God with being unjust in their afflictions. But they may read their sin in their punishment. If men will inquire wherefore the Lord doeth hard things unto them, let them think of their sins. The restless waves obeyed the Divine decree, that they should not pass the sandy shores, which were as much a restraint as lofty mountains; but they burst all restraints of God's law, and were wholly gone into wickedness. Neither did they consider their interest. While the Lord, year after year, reserves to us the appointed weeks of harvest, men live on his bounty; yet they transgress against him. Sin deprives us of God's blessings; it makes the heaven as brass, and the earth as iron. Certainly the things of this world are not the best things; and we are not to think, that, because evil men prosper, God allows their practices. Though sentence against evil works is not executed speedily, it will be executed. Shall I not visit for these things? This speaks the certainty and the necessity of God's judgments. Let those who walk in bad ways consider that an end will come, and there will be bitterness in the latter end.Fatness is admired in the East as a sign of wealth.

They shine - This word is used of the sleekness of the skin, soft and smooth as ivory.

They overpass the deeds of the wicked - literally, "They have overpassed words of wickedness," i. e., they go to excess in wickedness.

Yet they prosper - Or, that they (the orphans) may prosper, enjoy their rights.

28. shine—the effect of fatness on the skin (De 32:15). They live a life of self-indulgence.

overpass … the wicked—exceed even the Gentiles in wickedness (Jer 2:33; Eze 5:6, 7).

judge not … fatherless—(Isa 1:23).

yet … prosper—(Jer 12:1).

They are waxen fat, they shine; or, so fat that they shine; by reason.of their wealth and riches they pamper themselves till their eyes stand out with fatness, Psalm 73:7; their wrinkles are filled up with fat, which makes their faces shine.

They overpass the deeds of the wicked; either, they go beyond the very heathen themselves in wickedness, Ezekiel 5:6,7; or rather, they escape the hardships and sufferings that others undergo, Psalm 73:5-8, they escape better than others; or they slightly pass over judgments threatened.

They judge not the cause of the fatherless; such whom even the law of nature commits to their patronage, they either disregard them, or wrong and injure them, either by refusing them a fair hearing, Isaiah 1:23, or giving wrong sentence against them in courts of judicature, Zechariah 7:10, expressly forbidden, Exodus 22:22.

Yet they prosper; things go well with them, they live happily, according to their desire, prosperum scelus, Job 21:7, &c.; or, that they might prosper, viz. that God might bless them. They are waxen fat, they shine,.... Becoming rich they grew fat, and their faces shone through fatness; so oil, delicious food, and good living, as it fattens men, it makes their faces to shine; see Psalm 104:15,

yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked; though they pretended to religion, the fear and worship of God, yet they committed crimes more heinous than the most abandoned and profligate sinners: or, "they exceed the words of the wicked" (f); either they speak words more wicked than they; or do such actions as are not to be expressed by words, and which even a wicked man would hardly choose to name. The Targum is,

"they transgress the words of the law;''

and the Vulgate Latin version comes pretty near it, "they have passed over my words very badly"; as if they referred to the words of the law and the prophets:

they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless; this shows that it was not the common people only that were become so wicked, but the judges and civil magistrates; and who were so far from doing justice between man and man, in all civil cases that came before them, that they would not even exercise right judgment in the case of the fatherless; who not only require justice to be done them, but mercy and pity to be shown them:

yet they prosper; in the world, and increase in riches; have health of body and prosperity in their families; nor are they in trouble, as other men: this sometimes has been trying to good men to observe; see Psalm 73:3 and particularly to the Prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah 12:1, or, "that they may prosper" (g); as Jarchi interprets it; and to the same sense is the Targum,

"if they had judged the judgment of the fatherless they would have prospered;''

but the former sense is best; and which Kimchi gives into, and agrees with what goes before, concerning the riches and prosperous estate of those men:

and the right of the needy do they not judge: because they are poor, and can not fee them, they will not undertake their cause; or, if it comes before them, they will not do them justice, being bribed by the rich that oppose them.

(f) "transcendunt verba mali", Schmidt; "transierunt verba mali", Cocceius. (g) "ut prosperentur", Gataker.

They have become fat, they shine: yea, they exceed the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they {t} prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.

(t) They feel not the plague of God for it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. waxen fat] Fatness was looked on as a mark of prosperity. Cp. Deuteronomy 32:15; Psalm 92:14; Proverbs 28:25.

shine] referring to their sleekness of skin.

that they should prosper] i.e. that the orphans by their help may receive succour.Verse 28. - They overpass the deeds of the wicked; rather, they overpass the common measure of wickedness (literally, the cases of wickedness); or, as others, they exceed in deeds of wickedness. Yet they prosper; rather, so that they (the fatherless) might prosper; or, that they (the rich) might make it to prosper. The reproof of sins is introduced by an apostrophe to the hardened race. The exhortation, "Publish this," is addressed to all the prophet's hearers who have the welfare of the people at heart. "This," in Jeremiah 5:20 and Jeremiah 5:21, refers to the chiding statement from Jeremiah 5:23 onwards, that the people fears not God. The form of address, people foolish and without understanding (cf. Jeremiah 4:22; Hosea 7:11), is made cutting, in order, if possible, to bring the people yet to their senses. The following clauses, "they have eyes," etc., depict spiritual blindness and deafness, as in Ezekiel 12:22; cf. Deuteronomy 29:3. Blindness is shown in that they see not the government of God's almighty power in nature; deafness, in that they hear not the voice of God in His word. They have no fear even of the God whose power has in the sand set an impassable barrier for the mighty waves of the sea. "Me" is put first for emphasis. The waves beat against their appointed barrier, but are not able, sc. to pass it.
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