Jeremiah 7:18
The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.
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(18) The queen of heaven.—The goddess thus described was a kind of Assyrian Artemis, identified with the moon, and connected with the symbolic worship of the reproductive powers of Nature. Its ritual probably resembled that of the Babylonian Aphrodite, Mylitta, the mother-goddess, in its impurities (Herod. i. 199; Bar 6:43), and thus provoked the burning indignation of the prophet here and in Jeremiah 44:19; Jeremiah 44:25. The word rendered “cakes,” and found only in connection with this worship, was clearly a technical term, and probably of foreign origin. Cakes of a like kind, made of flour and honey, round like the full moon, and known, therefore, as selence or “moons,” were offered, like the Minchah or meat-offerings in the Mosaic ritual, the Neideh in the Egyptian worship of the goddess Neith, at Athens to Artemis, and in Sicily to Hecate (Theocr., Idylls, ii. 33). The worship of Ashtoreth (Milton speaks of her as “Astarte, Queen of Heaven, with crescent horn “), though of kindred nature, was not identical with that of the Queen of Heaven, that name signifying a star, and being identified with the planet Venus. A various reading gives, as in the margin, “the frame of heaven.”

7:17-20 The Jews took pride in showing zeal for their idols. Let us learn to be earnest in the service of our God, even from this bad example. Let us think it an honour to be employed in any work for God. Let us be as diligent ourselves, and as careful to teach our children the truths of God, as many are to teach the mysteries of iniquity. The direct tendency of this sin is malice against God, but it will hurt themselves. And they shall find there is no escaping. God's wrath is fire unquenchable.Children ... fathers ... women - All members of the family take part in this idolatry.

Cakes - Probably very similar to those offered at Athens to Artemis.

To the queen of heaven - A Persian and Assyrian deity, who was supposed to symbolize a quality possessed by moonlight of giving to nature its receptive power, as the sun represented its quickening power. The moon thus became generally the symbol of female productiveness, and was worshipped as such at Babylon. Disgraceful usages to which every woman was obliged once to submit formed part of her worship.

18. children … fathers … women—Not merely isolated individuals practised idolatry; young and old, men and women, and whole families, contributed their joint efforts to promote it. Oh, that there were the same zeal for the worship of God as there is for error (Jer 44:17, 19; 19:13)!

cakes … queen of heaven—Cakes were made of honey, fine flour, &c., in a round flat shape to resemble the disc of the moon, to which they were offered. Others read as Margin, "the frame of heaven," that is, the planets generally; so the Septuagint here; but elsewhere the Septuagint translates, "queen of heaven." The Phœnicians called the moon Ashtoreth or Astarte: the wife of Baal or Moloch, the king of heaven. The male and female pair of deities symbolized the generative powers of nature; hence arose the introduction of prostitution in the worship. The Babylonians worshipped Ashtoreth as Mylitta, that is, generative. Our Monday, or Moon-day, indicates the former prevalence of moon worship (see on [901]Isa 65:11).

that they may provoke me—implying design: in worshipping strange gods they seemed as if purposely to provoke Jehovah.

Here God shows how busily they are employed from the youngest to the oldest, and how industrious for their idolatry, Jeremiah 44:1-7; see Matthew 24:38; every one in the family doth somewhat towards it.

The children gather wood, or sticks; for the word is plural, and so used Numbers 15:32,33; an employment, if we understand small sticks, proper for children; if greater wood, suitable to youth, who excel in strength, and may be understood by children and young ones.

The fathers kindle the fire; they heat the oven, hearth, or stone on which they were baked.

The women knead their dough, to make cakes; prepare all the materials of which to make cakes; probably they were of some particular shape, or had some peculiar impression of some of their gods stamped upon them, like the popish wafers, some say stamped with stars, as being offered up to the host of heaven, or with some peculiar star, Amos 5:26 Acts 7:43.

To the queen of heaven; or, frame or workmanship of heaven: this is diversely interpreted; some take it for the sun, which is signified by a word of the feminine gender, Isaiah 24:23, and of a feminine use, Nahum 3:17; some for the moon; as the sun was looked upon as king, so the moon as the queen of heaven, because of the largeness of her body in which she appears, and of the light she gives, but especially by reason of the government she exerciseth over inferior bodies; others, more probably, for the whole host of heaven, Jeremiah 8:2 19:13, and so the LXX, according to which probably for their sakes they received divers stamps and impressions: they that would see more may consult the English Annotations and the Synopsis.

To pour out drink-offerings, viz. wine and other strong drinks, Exodus 29:40,41 Num 28:7. The devil is God’s ape, and taught idolaters to use the same rites and ceremonies that were used in God’s worship; therefore here these idolaters, in pouring their drinkofferings, which might seem to be blood, or at least blood mixed with them, See Poole "Psalm 16:4", imitated God’s drink-offerings, as they did his meat-offerings in their cakes, as in Le 2; by these they did furnish the table mentioned Isaiah 65:11, see there.

That they may provoke me to anger; noting rather the proper effects and consequences of their idolatries, than that they did propound to themselves such an end in doing it; but it seemed to be a kind of bidding open defiance to God, by which it appears they were all mad upon their idolatries; they were set upon it, as David’s heart was set upon the worship of God, Psalm 16:8.

The children gather wood,.... In the fields, or out of the neighbouring forest; not little children, but young men, who were able to cut down trees, and bear and carry burdens of wood:

and the fathers kindle the fire; take the wood of their children, lay it in order, and put fire to it; which shows that they approved of what their children did, and that what they did was by their direction and order:

and the women knead their dough; so that every age and sex were employed in idolatrous service, which is here intended; the corruption was universal; and therefore the whole body was ripe for ruin; nor would the Lord be entreated for them: and all this preparation was,

to make cakes for the queen of heaven; the moon, as Abarbinel; which rules by night, as the sun is the king that rules by day; and which was much worshipped by the Heathens, whom the Jews imitated. Some render it,

to the work, or workmanship, of heavens; (q) that is, to the whole host of heaven, sun, moon, and stars, which were worshipped in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem, 2 Kings 23:5. The Targum renders it,

"to the star of heaven;''

and Jarchi interprets it of some great star in the heaven, called the queen of heaven; and thinks that these cakes had the impress of a star upon them; see Amos 5:26 where mention is made of "Chiun, your image, the star of your god". The word "chiun" is akin to the word here translated cakes, and thought to be explained by a star; see also Acts 7:43 but it seems rather to be the moon, which is expressly called by Apuleius (r) the queen of heaven; and often by others Coelestis; and Urania by the Africans, as Tertullian (s) and Herodian (t) affirm; as also Beltis, by Abydenus (u); and Baaltis, by Philo-Byblius, or Sanchoniatho (w); which have the signification of "queen"; and these cakes might have the form of the moon upon them, and be made and offered in imitation of the shewbread:

and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods; not different from the queen of heaven, and the hosts thereof; for to her and them drink offerings were poured out, Jeremiah 44:18 but other gods besides the one, only, living, and true God:

that they may provoke me to anger; not that this was their intention, but so it was eventually.

(q) "operi coelorum", Piscator, Gataker, Cocceius "machinae coelorum", Munster, Tigurine version; so Kimchi and Ben Melech. (r) Metamorph. l. 11. principio. (s) Apologet. c. 24. (t) Hist. l. 5. 1. 15. (u) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 41. p. 456. (w) Apud ib. l. 2. c. 10. p. 38.

The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes to {i} the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

(i) That is, they sacrifice to the sun, moon and stars, which they called the queen of heaven, Jer 44:17, 2Ki 23:5.

18. Both sexes and all ages unite in the public dishonouring of God’s name by shameless idolatries.

cakes] The Hebrew word is of Assyrio-Babylonian origin, and occurs elsewhere only in Jeremiah 44:19, where see further. The cakes were either shaped, or stamped, to represent the “queen of heaven,” probably to be identified, not with the moon, but with the planet Venus, the Ishtar of Babylonian worship (Co.). The cult was thence derived, and appears to have been introduced in Manasseh’s reign. “The description points to its prevalence among the poorer classes, who have to collect firewood and do all the work themselves.” Pe. The Mass., by a different vocalisation of the word for “queen,” apparently to avoid this sense, gives work (meaning, however, host, in accordance with the Rabbinic interpretation of “work” in Genesis 2:1 f.) of heaven; and so LXX here, whereas in Jeremiah 44:17 etc. they render rightly “queen.”

Verse 18. - The children... the fathers... the women. All ages were represented in this idolatrous act, thus justifying the sweeping character of the judgment as described in Jeremiah 6:11. Cakes (comp. Jeremiah 44:19). The word is peculiar (kavvanim), and perhaps entered Palestine together with the foreign rite to which the cakes belonged. Various conjectures have been offered as to their nature, but without any demonstrable ground. Sacrificial cakes were not uncommon. Hosea refers to the luscious raisin-cakes used by idolaters (Hosea 3:1). To the queen of heaven. This title of a divinity only occurs in Jeremiah (here and in Jeremiah 44:17-19, 25). It reminds us, first, of titles (such as "queen of the gods") of the Babylonic-Assyrian goddesses, Bilat (Beltis) and Istar, who, though divided in later times, were "originally but two forms of the same goddess" (Sayce, Transactions of Society of Biblical Archaeology, 3:169). It is, however, perhaps an objection to the view that Bilat or Istar is intended, that neither here nor in Jeremiah 44. is there any allusion to that characteristic lascivious custom which was connected in Babylonia with the worship of Istar (Herod., 1:199). The phrase has, however, another association. It reminds us, in the second place, of the Egyptian goddess Neith, "the mother of the gods." The first mention of "the queen of heaven" in Jeremiah occurs in the reign of Jehoiakim, who was placed on the throne by Pharaoh-Necho, one of the Saite dynasty (Says was the seat of the worship of Neith). If the "queen of heaven" were a Babylonic-Assyrian goddess, we should have looked for the introduction of her cultus at an earlier period (e.g. under Ahaz). But it was in accordance with the principles of polytheism (and the mass of the Jews had an irresistible tendency to polytheism), to adopt the patron-deity of the suzerain. Subsequently Judah became the subject of Nebuchadnezzar; thus it was equally natural to give up the worship of an Egyptian deity. Jewish colonists in Migdol would as naturally revert to the cultus of the Egyptian "mother of the gods" (see Gratz, 'Monatsschrift,' Breslau, 1874, pp. 349-351). The form of the word rendered "queen" being very uncommon, another reading, pronounced in the same way, obtained currency. This should be rendered, not "frame," or "workmanship" (as Authorized Version, margin), but "service." The context, however, evidently requires a person. Jeremiah 7:18This punishment will be turned aside, neither by intercession, because the people re2fuses to give up its idolatry, nor by sacrifice, which God desires not, because for long they have turned to Him the back and not the face, and have not hearkened to His words. - Jeremiah 7:16. "But thou, pray not for this people, and lift not up for them cry and prayer; and urge me not, for I do not hear thee. Jeremiah 7:17. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? Jeremiah 7:18. The sons gather sticks, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the Queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods, to provoke me. Jeremiah 7:19. Provoke they me, saith Jahveh, not themselves, to the shaming of their face? Jeremiah 7:20. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jahveh, Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out on this place, upon man, upon beast, upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and shall burn, and not be quenched. Jeremiah 7:21. Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Your burnt-offerings add to your slain-offerings, and eat flesh. Jeremiah 7:22. For I spake not with your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning the matters of burnt-offering or slain-offering. Jeremiah 7:23. But this word commanded I them, saying, Hearken to my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and walk in the way which I command you, that it may be well with you. Jeremiah 7:24. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, and walked in the counsels, in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and turned to me the back, and not the face. Jeremiah 7:25. Since the day that your fathers went forth of the land of Egypt until this day, I sent to you all my servants the prophets, daily from early morn sending them; Jeremiah 7:26. But they hearkened not to me, nor inclined their ear, and were stiffnecked, and did worse than their fathers. Jeremiah 7:27. And though thou speakest all these words unto them, yet will they not hearken unto thee; and though thou callest unto them, yet will they not answer thee. Jeremiah 7:28. Thus speak to them: This is the people that hearken not unto the voice of Jahveh its God, and that receive not correction. Perished is faithfulness, cut off from their mouth."

The purport of Jeremiah 7:16, that God will not suffer Himself to be moved by any entreaties to revoke the doom pronounced on the wicked people, is expressed by way of a command from God to the prophet not to pray for the people. That Jeremiah did sometimes pray thus, however, we see from Jeremiah 14:19. (cf. Jeremiah 18:20), when to his prayer the same answer is given as we have here, and all intercession for the corrupt race is characterized as in vain. The second clause: lift not up for them crying, i.e., supplicatory prayer, expresses the same, only more strongly; while the third clause: urge me not, cuts off all hope of success from even the most importunate intercession. The reason for this command to desist is shown in Jeremiah 7:17, by a reference to the idolatry which was openly practised throughout the land by young and old, men and women. Each takes part according to strength and capacity: the sons gather wood together, the fathers set the fire in order, etc. The deity so zealously worshipped by the people is called the Queen of heaven, and is mentioned only by Jeremiah. Besides here, there is reference to her in Jeremiah 44:17, where we see that her worship was very diligently cultivated, and that she was adored as the bestower of earthly possessions. (מלכת is stat. constr., either from the Chald. form מלך, or from מליכה, after the analogy of גּברת, st. constr. of גּבירה; but perhaps it has מלכת in stat. abs.) This worship was combined with that of the stars, the host of heaven, which especially prevailed under Manasseh (2 Kings 21:5). Thence it may be presumed that the Queen of heaven was one of the deities who came to Western Asia with the Assyrians, and that she corresponds to the Assyrian-Persian Tanais and Artemis, who in the course of time took the place once occupied by the closely related Phoenician Astarte. She is originally a deification of the moon, the Assyrian Selene and Virgo caelestis, who, as supreme female deity, was companion to Baal-Moloch as sun-god; cf. Movers, Phnizier, i. S. 623ff. With this accords the statement of Steph. Byz., that σελήνη is also πήπανον τι τῷ ἄστρω παραπλήσιον. The offerings which, acc. to this verse and Jeremiah 44:19, were brought to her, are called כּוּנים, a word which would appear to have come to the Hebrews along with the foreign cultus. By the lxx it was Grecized into χαυῶνας, for which we find in glossators and codd. καυῶνας and χαβῶνας. They were, acc. to the Etymol. magn. and Suidas, ἄρτοι ἐλαίῳ ἀναφυραθέντες or λάχανα ὄπτα (? cooked vegetables); acc. to Jerome, χαυῶνας, quas nos placentas interpretati sumus. In any case, they were some kind of sacrificial cakes, which Vitr. put alongside of the πόπανα of Aristophanes and Lucian; cf. the various interpretations in Schleussner, Lexic. in lxx s.v. χαυών. These cakes were kindled on the altar (cf. מקטּרים, Jeremiah 44:19) as a kind of Minchah (meat-offering), and with this Minchah a libation or drink-offering (נסכים) was combined. הסּך corresponds to לעשׂות, so that ל has to be repeated; cf. Jeremiah 44:19, Jeremiah 44:25, where we find libations poured out to the Queen of heaven. In the 18th verse the expression is generalized into "other gods," with reference to the fact that the service of the Queen of heaven was but one kind of idolatry along with others, since other strange gods were worshipped by sacrifices and libations. To provoke me; cf. Deuteronomy 31:29; Deuteronomy 32:16, etc.

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