Jeremiah 6:27
I have set you for a tower and a fortress among my people, that you may know and try their way.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27) I have set thee . . .—The verse is difficult, as containing words in the Hebrew which are not found elsewhere, and have therefore to be guessed at. The following rendering is given on the authority of the most recent commentators, and has the merit of being in harmony with the metallurgic imagery of the following verses. As a prover of ore I have set thee among my people, and thou shalt know and try their way. The words are spoken by Jehovah to the prophet, and describe his work. By others, the first part of the sentence is rendered as follows: As a prover of ore I have set thee like a fortress, as if with a reference to Jeremiah 1:18, where the same word is used.

Jeremiah 6:27. I have set thee for a tower, &c. — According to this reading, God speaks here by way of encouragement to the prophet, and tells him he had made him a fortified tower, that he might be safe, notwithstanding all the attempts of the wicked against him. But Lowth, with some others, thinks that “the sense would be plainer if the words were translated thus: I have set thee (in) a watch-tower, and (in) a fortress;” that is, God tells the prophet that he hath placed him as a watchman in a high tower, or fortress, to take an account of the people’s behaviour, and to warn them accordingly. That thou mayest know and try their way — That is, their actions and manners, and how they stand affected toward God and his word; that thou mayest bring their whole conduct under thy strict observation and scrutiny, as refiners do metals. Hereby the prophet is encouraged to reprove them more freely, and with authority, because God promises to defend him from injury, and would give him prudence to see what was amiss, and undauntedness to oppose it. It may be proper to observe here, that this latter clause of the verse favours the sense in which the LXX. and the Vulgate have taken the preceding clause. They render the word בחון, which we translate a tower, δοκιμαστην, probatorem, a prover, or trier, which Blaney interprets thus: “I have appointed thee the office of an assay-master among my people, as to the gold thereof; that is, to try what is in them of genuine worth and excellence, which, like pure gold, will stand the utmost test.” Dr. Dodd considers the passage in the same light, observing, “The prophet in these verses evidently takes his ideas from metals, and the trial of them; and the verbs in the latter clause of this verse, referring to such trial, manifestly require something corresponding in the preceding part. But what has a tower and fortress to do with the trying of metals? In this view the reader will agree with me, that the passage is rendered much more properly in some of the versions, and indeed more agreeably to the Hebrew, I have given, or established, thee as a strong prover, or trier of metals among my people that thou mightest know, &c.”6:18-30 God rejects their outward services, as worthless to atone for their sins. Sacrifice and incense were to direct them to a Mediator; but when offered to purchase a license to go on in sin, they provoke God. The sins of God's professing people make them an easy prey to their enemies. They dare not show themselves. Saints may rejoice in hope of God's mercies, though they see them only in the promise: sinners must mourn for fear of God's judgments, though they see them only in the threatenings. They are the worst of revolters, and are all corrupters. Sinners soon become tempters. They are compared to ore supposed to have good metal in it, but which proves all dross. Nothing will prevail to part between them and their sins. Reprobate silver shall they be called, useless and worthless. When warnings, corrections, rebukes, and all means of grace, leave men unrenewed, they will be left, as rejected of God, to everlasting misery. Let us pray, then, that we may be refined by the Lord, as silver is refined.Render it:

I have set thee among My people as a prover of ore,

And thou shalt know and try their way.

They are all of them rebels of rebels (i. e., utter rebels):

Slander-walkers, were copper and iron,

Corrupters all of them.

The bellows glow: from their fire lead only!

In vain hath the smelter smelted,

And the wicked are not separated.

Refuse-silver have men called them:

For Yahweh hath refused them.

The intermixture throughout of moral words and metallurgical terms is remarkable.

27. tower … fortress—(Jer 1:18), rather, "an assayer (and) explorer." By a metaphor from metallurgy in Jer 6:27-30, Jehovah, in conclusion, confirms the prophet in his office, and the latter sums up the description of the reprobate people on whom he had to work. The Hebrew for "assayer" (English Version, "tower") is from a root "to try" metals. "Explorer" (English Version, "fortress") is from an Arabic root, "keen-sighted"; or a Hebrew root, "cutting," that is, separating the metal from the dross [Ewald]. Gesenius translates as English Version, "fortress," which does not accord with the previous "assayer." Here God speaks by way of encouragement to the prophet, and tells him he had made him a fortified tower, that he might both discover the carriages of his people, which is one use of a high tower, Isaiah 21:5,8 Hab 2:1; and also to assure him, though they shall make several attempts against him, yet he shall be kept safe, os in a castle or fortress, Jeremiah 15:20.

That thou mayest know and try their way; their courses, actions, and manners, and which way they stand affected; thou mayest bring all to thy strict observation and scrutiny, as goldsmiths or refiners do metals; for so is the word try used, Psalm 66:10, and elsewhere. Hereby he shall be encouraged to reprove them more freely, and with authority, because God doth promise to defend him, that they shall not hurt him; God will give him prudence to see what is amiss, and undauntedness to oppose it. I have set thee for a tower,.... Or "in" one (d); in a watch tower, to look about and observe the actions of the people, their sins and transgressions, and reprove them for them; as well as to descry the enemy, and give notice of danger; see Habakkuk 2:1 or, "for a trier"; since the word used comes from one which signifies to "try" metals, as gold and silver; and the rather this may be thought to be the meaning here, since the verb is made use of in this sense in the text; and the metaphor is carried on in the following words; though the word is used for towers in Isaiah 23:13 and may well enough be understood of a watchtower, agreeably with the office of the prophet; who is here addressed as a watchman, and was one to the house of Israel: and as the faithful discharge of his work required courage, as well as diligence and faithfulness, it follows, and

for a fortress among my people; not to defend them, but himself against them; or he was to consider himself as so under the divine protection, that he was as a fortress or strong tower, impregnable, and not to be dismayed and terrified with their calumnies and threatenings; see Jeremiah 1:18,

that thou mayest know and try their way; their course and manner of life, whether good or bad; which he would be able to do, being in his watch tower, and in the discharge of his duty; for the ministry of a good man is as a touchstone, by which the principles and practices of men are tried and known; for if it is heard and attended to with pleasure, it shows that the principles and practices of men are good; but if despised and rejected, the contrary is evident, see 1 John 4:5.

(d) "in exploratoria specula", Junius & Tremellius.

I have set {u} thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way.

(u) Meaning, Jeremiah, whom God had appointed to try out the godly from the wicked, as a founder does the pure metal from the dross.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
27. a tower] rather, as mg., a trier. It was owing to a difficulty presented by the following substantives that this was rendered tower.

a fortress] The same word (with slight difference in vocalisation) has the sense of “tower” in Isaiah 23:13. Hence probably, and with a reference to Jeremiah 1:18, the word “fortress” got into the MT. It is quite foreign to the context. If retained, it must be pointed otherwise, but the meaning which must then be given it, viz. gold-washer, or gold-extractor, has no valid support.

27–30. In these vv. the Lord reassures Jeremiah of his divine commission, and he appears under the figure of one testing metal. The result of the testing process is that no precious metal is found. All is dross.Verse 27. - I have set thee, etc.; literally, as an assayer have I set thee among my people, a fortress. Various attempts have been made to avoid giving the last word its natural rendering, "a fortress." Ewald, for instance, would alter the points, and render "a separator [of metals]," thus making the word synonymous with that translated "an assayer;" but this is against Hebrew usage. Hitzig, assuming a doubtful interpretation of Job 22:24, renders "... among my people without gold," i.e. "without there being any gold there for thee to essay" (a very awkward form of expression). These are the two most plausible views, and yet neither of them is satisfactory. Nothing remains but the very simple conjecture, supported by not a few similar phenomena, that mibhcar, a fortress, has been inserted by mistake from the margin, where an early glossator had written the word, to remind of the parallel passage (Jeremiah 1:18, "I have made thee this day a fortress-city," 'it mibhcar). In this and the following verses metallurgic phraseology is employed with a moral application (comp. Isaiah 1:22, 25). Therefore the Lord will lay stumbling-blocks before the people, whereby they all come to grief. The stumbling-blocks by which the people are to fall and perish, are the inroads, of the enemies, whose formidableness is depicted in Jeremiah 6:22. The idea of totality is realized by individual cases in "fathers and sons, neighbour and his friend." יחדּו belongs to the following clause, and not the Keri, but the Cheth. יאבדוּ, is the true reading. The Keri is formed after the analogy of Jeremiah 46:6 and Jeremiah 50:32; but it is unsuitable, since then we would require, as in the passages cited, to have נפל in direct connection with כּשׁל.
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