Jeremiah 6:29
The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.
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(29) The bellows are burned.—Better, burn, or glow. In the interpretation of the parable the “bellows” answer to the life of the prophet as filled with the breath or spirit of Jehovah. He is, as it were, consumed with that fiery blast, and yet his work is faulty.

The lead is consumed . . .—Better, from their fire is lead only. A different punctuation gives, The bellows burn with fire; yet lead is the only outcome. The point lies in the fact that lead was used as a flux in smelting silver ore. The founder in the case supposed went on with his work till the lead was melted, but he found no silver after all.

Plucked away.—Better, separated or purified, as in keeping with the metaphor.

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.The bellows are burned - Worn out by continual blowing. The prophet has exhausted all his efforts. His heart, consumed by the heat of divine inspiration, can labor no more. Others translate "The bellows snort," i. e., blow furiously. More probably, "The bellows glow" with the strong heat of the fire.

Plucked away - Separated. The smelter's object is to separate the metal from the dross.

29. bellows … burned—So intense a heat is made that the very bellows are almost set on fire. Rosenmuller translates not so well from a Hebrew root, "pant" or "snort," referring to the sound of the bellows blown hard.

lead—employed to separate the baser metal from the silver, as quicksilver is now used. In other words, the utmost pains have been used to purify Israel in the furnace of affliction, but in vain (Jer 5:3; 1Pe 1:7).

consumed of the fire—In the Chetib, or Hebrew text, the "consumed" is supplied out of the previous "burned." Translating as Rosenmuller, "pant," this will be inadmissible; and the Keri (Hebrew Margin) division of the Hebrew words will have to be read, to get "is consumed of the fire." This is an argument for the translation, "are burned."

founder—the refiner.

wicked … not plucked away—answering to the dross which has no good metal to be separated, the mass being all dross.

The bellows are burned: the prophet prosecutes his metaphor taken from refining of metals, intimating herein that the prophets had spent their lungs to no purpose; see the like Psalm 22:15 69:3; and their strength was consumed by their so much labour and pains: q.d. The terror of the Lord is as a fire in my throat.

The lead is consumed; some read it, the lead was entire, viz. their dross did still remain in them, the lead put for their dross; but I see no reason for nor need of this reading, but rather hereby is understood either that means which was used to prevail with them, his words compared to lead for the weight of them, and the use of them; or the judgments, which were heavy as lead, that God mixed among them, the more easily to prevail with them; it was all upon them; as lead is used in melting silver, that it may melt the easier; it is all wasted, and doth no good.

The founder melteth in vain; let the artist use his greatest skill and industry, yet is it all in vain; He can make nothing of it: the prophets did but lose their labour in all the pains they took, Psalm 58:5, after they had wearied themselves.

The wicked are not plucked away, or drawn away, as the word is, Joshua 8:16 Judges 20:32. Their dross and corruption, their wickedness and filthiness, is not removed, Isaiah 32:6: for wicked may be read wickedness.

The bellows are burnt,.... Which Kimchi interprets of the mouth and throat of the prophet, which, through reproving the people, were dried up, and become raucous and hoarse, and without any profit to them; and so the Targum,

"lo, as the refiner's blower, that is burnt in the midst of the fire, so the voice of the prophets is silent, who prophesied to them, turn to the law, and they turned not;''

or the judgments and chastisements of God upon the Jews may be meant, which were inflicted upon them to no purpose:

the lead is consumed of the fire; lead being used formerly, as is said (f), instead of quicksilver, in purifying of silver; which being consumed, the refining is in vain: or it may be rendered,

out of the fire it is perfect lead (g); or wholly lead, a base metal, no gold and silver in it, to which the Jews are compared:

the founder melteth in vain; to whom either the prophet is likened, whose reproofs, threatenings, and exhortations, answered no end; or the Lord himself, whose corrections and punishments were of no use to reform this people:

for the wicked are not plucked away; from their evil way, as Jarchi; or from good men, they are not separated the one from the other; or, "evils (sins) are not plucked away" (h); from sinners: their dross is not purged away from them; neither the words of the prophet, nor the judgments of God, had any effect upon them. The Targum of the latter part of the verse is,

"and as lead which is melted in the midst of the furnace, so the words of the prophets which prophesied to them were nothing in their eyes; and without profit their teachers taught them and they did not leave their evil works.''

(f) By Mathiolus, Agricola and others, in Poli Synops. (g) "ab igne, et integrum est plumbum", Munster, Calvin, Tigurine version. (h) "et mala non sunt evulsa", Piscator, so some in Vatablus; "mala avelli non pussunt", Junius & Tremellius.

The {x} bellows is burned, the lead is consumed by the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.

(x) All the pain and labour that has been taken with them is lost.

29. The figure from refining metals is continued from Jeremiah 6:27. “In refining, the alloy containing the gold or silver is mixed with lead, and fused in a furnace on a vessel of earth or bone-ash: a current of air is turned upon the molten mass (not upon the fire); the lead then oxidizes, and acting as a flux, carries away the alloy, leaving the gold or silver pure (I. Napier, The Ancient Workers in Metal, 1856, pp. 20, 23). In the case here imagined by the prophet, so inextricably is the alloy mixed with the silver, that, though the bellows blow, and the lead is oxidised by the heat, no purification is effected; only impure silver remains.” Dr. p. 39.

Verse 29. - The bellows are burned. The objection to this rendering is that the burning of the bellows would involve the interruption of the process of assaying. We might, indeed, translate "are scorched" (on the authority of Ezekiel 15:4), and attach the word rendered "of the fire" to the first clause; the half-verse would then run: "The bellows are scorched through the fire; the lead is consumed," i.e. the bellows are even scorched through the heat of the furnace, and the lead has become entirely oxydized. But this requires us to alter the verb from the masculine to the feminine form of third sing. perf. (reading tammah). It is better, therefore, to give the verb (which will be Kal, if the nun be radical) the sense of "snorting," which it has in Aramaic and in Arabic, and which the corresponding noun has in Hebrew (Jeremiah 8:16; Job 39:20; Job 41:12). The masculine form of the verb rendered "is consumed" is still a difficulty; but we have a better right to suppose that the first letter of tittom was dropped, owing to its identity with the second letter, than to append (as the first view would require us) an entirely different letter at the end. This being done, the whole passage becomes clear: "The bellows puff, (that) the lead may be consumed of the fire." In any case, the general meaning is obvious. The assayer has spared no trouble, all the rules of his art have been obeyed, but no silver appears as the result of the process. Lead is mentioned, because, before quicksilver was known, it was employed as a flux in the operation of smelting, Plucked away; rather, separated, like the dross from the silver. Jeremiah 6:29The trial of the people has brought about no purification, no separation of the wicked ones. The trial is viewed under the figure of a long-continued but resultless process of smelting. נחר, Niph. from חרר, to be burnt, scorched, as in Ezekiel 15:4. מאשׁתּם is to be broken up, as in the Keri, into two words: מאשׁ and תּם (from תמם). For there does not occur any feminine form אשּׁה from אשׁ, nor any plural אשּׁת (even אשּׁה forms the plur. אשּׁים), so as to admit of our reading מאשּׁתם or מאשּׁתם. Nor would the plur., if there were one, be suitable; Ew.'s assertion that אשּׁות means flames of fire is devoid of all proof. We connect מאשׁ with what precedes: Burnt are the bellows with fire, at an end is the lead. Others attach "by the fire" to what follows: By the fire is the lead consumed. The thought is in either case the same, only תּם is not the proper word for: to be consumed. Sense: the smelting has been carried on so perseveringly, that the bellows have been scorched by the heat of the fire, and the lead added in order to get the ore into fusion is used up; but they have gone on smelting quite in vain. צרף with indefinite subject, and the infin. absol. added to indicate the long duration of the experiment. In the last clause of the verse the result is mentioned in words without a figure: The wicked have not been separated out (prop., torn asunder from the mass).
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