For from the least of them even to the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest every one deals falsely.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Is given to covetousness.—Literally, gained gain. The Hebrew word (as in Genesis 37:26; Job 22:2) does not necessarily involve the idea of dishonest gain, though this (as in Proverbs 1:19; Habakkuk 2:9) is often implied. What the prophet condemns is the universal desire of gain (rem . . . rem . . . quocunque modo rem), sure to lead, as in the second clause, to a gratification of it by fair means or foul.
From the prophet even unto the priest . . .—The two orders that ought to have checked the evil are noted as having been foremost in promoting it. (Comp. Note on Jeremiah 5:31.)
Dealeth falsely.—Literally, worketh a lie, in the sense of “dishonesty.”Jeremiah 6:13-15. For, from the least of them, &c. — Old and young, rich and poor, high and low, those of all ranks, professions, and employments; every one is given to covetousness — Greedy of filthy lucre; and this made them oppressive, for of that evil, as well as others, the love of money is the bitter root. Nay, and this hardened their hearts against the word of God and his prophets: they were the covetous Pharisees that derided Christ. From the prophet to the priest, every one dealeth falsely — Not only in speaking false things, but, as the Hebrew, עשׁה שׁקר, signifies, doing falsehood; acting a lie; that is, playing the hypocrite; keeping up an outward form, or appearance, of piety, and desiring to be accounted righteous, when, before God, they were abominably wicked. They have healed also the hurt, &c., slightly — Skinning over the wound, and never searching it to the bottom; applying lenitives, soothing speeches, when there was need of corrosives, or sharp reproofs, which might have brought them to a true sense of the danger of their condition: encouraging them in their sins, and carnal security, by promising them peace and safety when they were on the brink of ruin and destruction. So that the ministry of these priests and prophets, instead of proving a blessing, became a real curse to them. Were they ashamed, &c. — Nothing is a greater sign of an incorrigible temper than being past shame. Such the prophet tells us was the character of the generality of the Jews at this time: their hearts were so hardened that they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush. Nay, it seems they even gloried in their wickedness, and openly confronted the convictions that should have humbled and brought them to repentance. This is thought by some to refer especially to the priests and prophets, who had soothed the people in their sins, with false hopes of peace, and yet were not ashamed of their deceit and treachery; no, not when the event disproved and gave the lie to their promises. Therefore shall they fall among them that fall —
They shall have their portion with those whom they have deceived and destroyed.From the least of them; not respecting so much their age as degree and quality, poor and rich; the prophet notes the generality of their corruption as the reason of God’s severity against them, as Jeremiah 6:6; observing also that it was even among the greatest, who ought to have given better examples, no soundness from head to foot.
Covetousness; in which possibly all their wickednesses, as cruelty, oppression, injustice, &c., may be comprised, it being the root of all evil, 1 Timothy 6:10, and may also speak the justice of God, in the Chaldeans taking them and all their substance away, that had by violence and fraud wrested it from others, Micah 2:2.
Dealeth falsely, Heb. doing falsehood; as if that were their whole work, the proper and peculiar sin of the priests and prophets, to deceive the people, and to flatter them by false visions, as in the next verse; not that they were not also guilty of the other sins, Isaiah 56:11, and the princes and people of this, Micah 3:9 Jeremiah 5:31, for they were all involved in the same wickedness; but the prophet mentions those sins that were most peculiar to each party. See the same Jeremiah 8:10.
everyone is given to covetousness; which is mentioned particularly, and instead of other sins, it being the root of evil, and was the prevailing sin among them:
from the prophet even unto the priest everyone dealeth falsely; the false prophet, as Kimchi interprets it, and so the Septuagint and other versions; and the priest of Baal, as the same interpreter; both acted deceitfully; the one in prophesying lies to the people, the other in drawing them off from the pure worship of God. The Targum is,
"from the scribe to the priest;''For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. from the least of them even unto the greatest] Cp. Jeremiah 5:5.Verse 13. - Given to covetousness; literally, gaineth gain; but the word here rendered "gain" implies that it is unrighteous gain (the root means "to tear"), Unjust gain and murder are repeatedly singled out in the Old Testament as representative sins (comp. Ezekiel 33:31; Psalm 119:36; Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 2:34; and see my note on Isaiah 57:17). There is a special reason for the selection of "covetousness" here. Land was the object of a high-born Jew's ambition, and expulsion from his land was his appropriate punishment (comp. Isaiah 5:8, 9). Joel 3:9. עלה, to go up against a place as an enemy, not, go up upon, in which case the object, them (the city or walls), could not be omitted. It is plainly the storming or capture of the town that is meant by the going up; hence we may understand what follows: and we will destroy her palaces. We have a rousing call to go up at noon or in clear daylight, joined with "woe to us," a cry of disappointment that they will not be able to gain their ends so soon, not indeed till night; in these we see the great eagerness with which they carry on the assault. יום פּנה, the day turns itself, declines towards its end; cf. Psalm 90:9. The enemies act under a commission from God, who has imposed on them the labour of the siege, in order to punish Jerusalem for her sins. Jahveh is here most fittingly called the God of hosts; for as God of the world, obeyed by the armies of heaven, He commands the kings of the earth to chastise His people. Hew wood, i.e., fell trees for making the siege works, cf. Deuteronomy 20:20, both for raising the attacking ramparts,
(Note: Agger ex terra lignisque attollitur contra murum, de quo tela jactantur. Veget. de re milit. iv. 15.)
and for the entire apparatus necessary for storming the town. עצה is not a collective form from עץ, like דּגה from דּג; but the ה is a suffix in spite of the omission of the Mappik, which is given by but a few of the codd., eastern and western, for we know that Mappik is sometimes omitted, e.g., Numbers 15:28, Numbers 15:31; cf. Ew. 247, d. We are encouraged to take it so by Deuteronomy 20:19, where עצה are the trees in the vicinity of the town, of which only the fruit trees were to be spared in case of siege, while those which did not bear eatable fruit were to be made use of for the purposes of the siege. And thus we must here, too, read עצה, and refer the suffix to the next noun (Jerusalem). On "pile up a rampart," cf. 2 Samuel 20:5; Ezekiel 4:2, etc. הפקד is used as passive of Kal, and impersonally. The connection with העיר is to be taken like חנה in Isaiah 29:1 : the city where it is punished, or perhaps like Psalm 59:6, the relative being supplied: that is punished. כּלּהּ is not to be joined, contrary to the accents, with הפקד (Ven., J. D. Mich.), a connection which, even if it were legitimate, would give but a feeble thought. It belongs to what follows, "she is wholly oppression in her midst," i.e., on all sides in her there is oppression. This is expanded in Jeremiah 6:7. lxx and Jerome have taken הקיר from קרר, and translate: like as a cistern keeps its water cool (ψύχει, frigidam facit), so she keeps her wickedness cool. Hitz. has pronounced in favour of this interpretation, but changes "keep cool" into "keep fresh," and understands the metaphor thus: they take good care that their wickedness does not stagnate or become impaired by disuse. But it would be a strange metaphor to put "keep wickedness cool," for "maintain it in strength and vigour." We therefore, along with Luth. and most commentators, prefer the rabbinical interpretation: as a well makes its water to gush out, etc.; for there is no sufficient force in the objection that מקור from קוּר, dig, is not a spring but a well, that הקיר has still less the force of making to gush forth, and that בּור wholly excludes the idea of causing to spring out. The first assertion is refuted by Jeremiah 2:13, מקור, fountain of living water; whence it is clear that the word does mean a well fed by a spring. It is true, indeed, that the word בּור, a later way of writing בּאר (cf. 1 Chronicles 11:17. 22 with 2 Samuel 23:15. 20), means usually, a pit, a cistern dug out; but this form is not substantially different from בּאר, well, puteus, which is used for בּור in Psalm 55:24 and Psalm 69:16. Accordingly, this latter form can undoubtedly stand with the force of בּאר, as has been admitted by the Masoretes when they substituted for it בּאר; cf. the Arab. bi'run. The noun מקור puts beyond doubt the legitimacy of giving to הקיר, from קוּר, to dig a well, the signification of making water to gush forth.
The form הקרה is indeed referable to קרר, but only shows, as is otherwise well known, that no very strict line of demarcation can be drawn between the forms of verbs 'עע and 'הקיר ;עו, again, is formed regularly from קוּר. Violence and spoiling; cf. Jeremiah 20:8, and Amos 3:10; Habakkuk 1:3. "Before my face," before mine eyes, corresponds to "is heard," as wounds and smitings are the consequences of violence. On that head, cf. Psalm 55:10-12.
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